Have Healthier Skin By Clearing Up Misconceptions

Video, Photos and Written Feature by Kristie M., Concordia Applied Journalism


Don’t touch your face! Drink more water! Stop putting your face on your pillow!

These phrases have been ingrained in my head for as long as I can remember. Almost every teenager gets affected by bad skin conditions once they hit their teenage years. This can come in the form of acne, hygiene problems, skin sensitivity, dry, or oily skin. Skin problems are inevitable.

A few years ago, I started seeking advice from my mother, who is a skin care enthusiast. She has helped me go through countless breakouts, stress related skin problems, and anything related to skin care.

At home, you will either find my mother heavily invested in the latest skin care products or reading Martha Stewart’s homemaking magazines. In other words, she is a no-nonsense, observant, and serious person who often finds humor in those who easily fall for hoaxes or scams, like me. She is a sharp-minded woman who is always steps ahead of people’s conversation, quietly analyzing what people are saying before putting her opinion on the table.

My mother was always keen on wearing minimal makeup, even in her 20s. (author photo)

Growing up in Hong Kong in the 80’s, my mother did not have the luxury of buying everything she saw at malls and markets. However, all the strolling along the skin care aisles soon led to her interest in skin care. In her teenage years, my mother started testing different skin products. Even as a teenager, she was always skeptical about skin care products that were trending. This was why she started with buying “sample sized” products, which are modest amounts given to customers when they buy actual-sized products nowadays. Besides sample sized products being affordable, another benefit of purchasing them was you could many different products at the same time.

Her interest in trying different skin care products led her to her fascination the product menus. Menus are the papers that come along with the products, which normal people never read. Through the menus, she was able to navigate through different products and know which products fit her the most.

The first skin care product she bought was cleansing milk from “Max Factor”. Cleansing milk is a type of cleanser that removes all the dirt and makeup from your face. It’s different from a foam cleanser, which requires water to work. As she became an adult, she started inserting different products into her daily skin care routine and gained a stronger understanding of the function different products. Nowadays, as a well-experienced skin care enthusiast, she often gives out advice to her children who are far less experienced when it comes to skin care.

Here are three important concepts that anyone should know about skin care:



Knowing What Skin Type You Are

There are four types of skin that we can identify by:


Dry Skin: If you have flaky skin covered on your face, this shows you have dry skin. Your face is covered with a layer of dead skin cells, which create the rough patches of skin you see in the mirror. This is either a sign that your skin is dehydrated, or your skin cells have gone through the one-month replacement cycle, preparing for new skin cells to reach the top layer.

Oily Skin: Our skin secretes natural oils to help maintain its moisture, but an over-secretion may lead to development of pimples, breakouts, or an overall greasy facial appearance.

The dermis, the second layer of the skin, contains two sub-layers. The Reticular layer, which is the bottom layer of the dermis, contains the sebaceous (oil) gland. Sebaceous glands produce oil called sebum, which then moves up hair follicles to the surface of the skin. 

The bigger the pores of the hair, the more oil is secreted, causing a greasy facial appearance.

However, if the sebaceous glands continue producing sebum when the pores are blocked, this could clog the pores, resulting in breakouts such as acne or blackheads.


Combination Skin: Combination skin exhibits oiliness in your t-zone. In other words, if you’re only oily around your forehead, nose, and chin, then you have combination skin. People with combination skin do not experience oiliness on their cheeks, but they feel tight and try in those areas. There are more sebaceous glands existing in the T-zone area, which is why those locations are more susceptible to blemishes and clogged pores.




Normal Skin: If your skin is not oily or dry on a daily basis, then you have normal skin. People who have normal skin usually have small pores and soft, clear skin. They do not require much effort to keep their skin healthy and hydrated. However, a regular skincare routine is still needed to maintain its normal complexion. 


The Routine


Having a collection of products from different brands helps you to know which products suit you the best (author photo)

After you have identified your skin type, it’s important to adjust your skincare routine according to it. Everyone has a different skin type, and what you do during the day affects how your skin should be treated as well.

A typical skin care routine should start off with a quick rinse with soap or warm water. Here are the basic skincare products that people use in their routines. Some people may choose to leave out certain products according to their preference.



A cleanser is used to remove any dirt, oil, pollution, or dead skin cells on your skin. It also helps to unclog blocked pores, preventing breakouts or blackheads from forming.



A toner is a liquid that hydrates your skin, repairing your pores back to its natural acidic state. That way, your skin is prepared to be moisturized and absorb skin products.




Moisturizers are essentially cream that contains ingredients which hold water in your skin, smoothing it down.




Serum is a skincare product that’s generally used after cleansing but before moisturizing. Serums contain a higher concentration in active ingredients, while moisturizers contain more ingredients which causes them to be heavier.


Adjusting to different environments


It’s important to adjust your skincare routine according to the environment you’re living in. One of the biggest skin problems most of us experience is dry skin on the airplane. Our skin is normally exposed to humidity of around 40 to 70% intensity. On the plane, the humidity is around 20%, which is less than half of what our skin normally experiences. The lack of hydration in our skin results in dry flaky, or red skin.

One way to stay hydrated throughout a flight is drink lots of water. Also, another skin product that can be used is hyaluronic acid serum. Moisturizers won’t have much effect on your skin when you’re the plane, because it has no water to hold onto. Hyaluronic acid is a serum which naturally binds to water, allowing the moisturizer to continue your skin to stay hydrated on the plane.  

Furthermore, the weather can also have an impact on the quality of your skin. Sometimes, we seem to be doing everything right in our routine and breakouts still manage to attack our skin. For example, during this season of change from spring to summer, I had an allergic skin reaction. My symptoms were scattered, ranging from a consistent runny nose in the morning to sudden redness and itchiness on my cheeks right after dinner. If I hadn’t sought help from a dermatologist, I wouldn’t have known that these symptoms came from my allergic reaction to pollen. As a result, I had to stay at home for the final weeks of school to avoid stimulating any further reactions on my face.

It may seem ironic that I’m writing about how to care for your skin when I’m still recovering from my own allergic skin reaction. However, if anything, the hours spent feeling the itch and sting has increased my awareness and appreciation of healthy skin. As a result, I’m far more cautious about what I do to my skin than I was four months ago. For example, when I wash my face, I don’t scrub carelessly. I gently pat my face with water to ensure that I haven’t irritated the superficial layers of my skin. Furthermore, I’ve taken a lighter approach to applying cream onto my face. Instead of rubbing it onto my face with excessive force, I use my finger tips to distribute the cream all over my face first. Then, I observe which areas of my face are most dry, and I gently massage those areas.

After all, the best foundation you can wear is healthy, glowing skin.

Kristie M. is a student of Concordia Applied Journalism