Want to Upgrade Your Skincare Routine? You should read This First

Skincare once again topped the beauty chart in 2020 when a good number of us, after countless zoom and other online meetings, suddenly realised that our skin (read: face) was not as great as we thought it was pre-lockdown when it was commonplace to slap on make-up for every interaction and activity outside our homes.

Sadly, after yet another round of vitamin C serum, retinol face cream, ‘potent’ mix of niacinamide, lactic acid and AHAs, some of us came to the conclusion that we were clearly doing it all wrong as there was no visible improvement. And, in search of answers, we may have thought to buy another ‘power’ product that everyone swears sent their acne away for good and cleared up every patch and dark spot before these had the chance to show up.

Serum in a bottle against a pink background
There are countless beauty serums in the market today, but not all of them will give you the results you seek. Image courtesy of Nykaa

Stop, says Lilian Arigbodi, the founder of Skinologist Spa and Skincare which is a beauty and a skincare brand in Lekki phase one, Lagos, Nigeria. “I think that [people] … feel that they can prescribe for themselves. Especially if you have a skincare problem, you should go to the professionals so that you don’t waste your money buying guesswork. Actually, go and let them check your skin and know what the problem is and have them advise you.”

However, consulting with a dermatologist and other skincare experts does not come cheap, and for some, this may be a huge turn off seeing as there are thousands of products that can be purchased over-the-counter (OTC) containing the same ingredients as the ones offered by specialists, and promising the same results.

Lilian Arigbodi, founder and CEO of Skinologist Skincare and Spa
Lilian Arigbodi, founder and CEO of Skinologist Spa and Skincare

Arigbodi argues that there is a world of difference between OTC products and dermatologist-produced or recommended products. “Treatment-based products [from an expert] can never be cheap. [It may look] to you like [like] a normal skincare product but no, it has [been formulated to ensure that] it goes deep down to the root of [your skincare] problem and starts the treatment from there.”

A good example is retinol. There are literally hundreds of thousands of articles floating on the web at this moment with a breakdown of why you should use it and the best brands on the market today. However, like many other people, if you have tried some of these products, you may have probably seen your face break out more or worse, become extremely sensitive.

Hand holding up Paula's Choice Resist Retinol smoothing body treatment
OTC beauty products are great, but a dermatologist-advised one is better. Image courtesy of Byrdie

Lilian explains that this can happen because of the base ingredient of the product, which is the one that “helps the active ingredient”; retinol in this case. Since you may not be able to determine what the base ingredients are and how they might affect your type of skin – which is something a dermatologist will be able to decipher and tell you – you may end up doing more damage than good.

And what about the popular shea butter and black soap combos that most beauty brands this side of the world tout as the holy grail for clear skin? Should you include that too in your regimen?

“African beauty is so much more than shea butter or black soap. And I think so many people think they must try to push [them] says Ore Runsewe of Arami Essentials at the just concluded Beauty West Africa Exhibition. Faith of Lindors Beauty agrees with this statement, but she still thinks that they are a must-have in your skincare routine.

Shea butter is the major offering of most African skincare brands
Most African beauty brands appear to restrict themselves to shea butter, black soaps, and more recently, oils, limiting consumers’ choices. Image courtesy of Loved by Curls

“Most of these [beauty and skincare] products you see have vitamin E which helps to reduce the effects of sun damage on the skin. Shea butter has the same function, and since it is readily available [on the continent], it only makes sense that we use it more. Same thing with black soap.”

As you start – or continue on – your journey towards beautiful and healthy skin, make sure to read between the fine lines of each product first before making a decision. Also ensure that your skincare routine includes a cleanser, serum, moisturiser, and sunscreen advises Arigbodi. And lastly, don’t forget to speak to an expert first before you splurge.

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