Skincare Q& A

In this article I answer some popular questions about skincare and skin issues faced by many people. If you have ever wondered what to do about dark spots, how to deal with excess oiliness, or the best way to remove unwanted facial hair, then keep reading!

I have loaded this post with links to some of my favorite products- some of which I have tried and some of which I still use! If you are looking for more guidance than this little Q&A provides, I encourage you to check out the Asian Beauty skincare sub on Reddit, which details not only the 10-Step Skincare Routine, but also has detailed information about products, active ingredients, and techniques for battling particular issues. 

As always I love getting feedback from you guys, so feel free to comment with follow up questions or DM me on instagram @mantacrow. Who knows, your question might end up being the topic of my next video or blog post!


For reference, I have combination skin. I do get oily throughout the day in my T-zones (forehead, nose, and chin) but most of the skin issues I face have to do with dryness. (Yes, you can be oily and dry at the same time!)

Also, I do an abbreviated version of the 10-Step Skincare Routine.

Understand that even though I have tried to give general advice that will be applicable to the most people, anything that has to do with the body is going to be highly subjective. If you suffer from serious skincare issues or have persisting concerns, please seek the care of a primary care physician and/or dermatologist. 

How can I decrease my pore size, or at least the appearance of large pores?

  1. Retinoids- These are the only topical treatment which have proven to cause the type of cellular regeneration and collagen production necessary for a reduction in the appearance of pores. You can get retinoids over the counter and they are relatively inexpensive. I love this one by Yeouth.
  2. Laser Treatments– This option is going to be significantly more expensive but also more effective in a shorter period of time. The issue with lasering and retinoids is that they are not permanent solutions. Ultimately pore size is genetic and any treatment will require maintenance.
  3. Primer– If you wear makeup, a good primer under your foundation can drastically decrease the appearance of pores. Look for something gel based, like this one by NYX or this one by Yves Saint Laurent. Also, make sure to use a foundation with a matte finish. This helps dampen the appearance of inconsistencies and makes your face look more smooth, in contrast to a glowy finish which reflects light and creates shadows which draw attention to non-smooth surfaces.

Should I use oil based products?

I personally use two oil based products in my skincare routine- and I think everyone should as well regardless of skin type.

  1. Oil Cleanser– Oil cleansers are the first step of any skincare routine and in my opinion, completely necessary especially if you wear makeup or have high exposure to dirt and dust. Oil cleansers bind to the oils naturally produced by your face to remove them from the surface of your skin. Think about it like this- when you clean your floor, don’t you always sweep before you swiffer? Well, that’s exactly what you are doing. The best way to clean your skin is to double cleanse, the first cleanser being oil based. It works like a broom- removing larger particles, so that when you use a foam cleanser (the swiffer), it can really get deep down for a spotless clean. These are my three favorites from least to most expensive: #1, #2, #3.
  2. Occlusive– Occlusive is just a fancy term for a product which seals in all of your previous steps. Think of it like a clear top coat of nail polish. Oils are very popular occlusives because they are not water soluble, therefore, they create a barrier between your skin and your environment, locking in water-based products and hydration. It is particularly important for people who over produce oil to use oils in their skincare routine. This is because oil production is just your skin telling you that it isn’t hydrated enough. Contrary to popular thought, using topical oils will not cause you to produce more oils. Oil production is largely genetic and affected by hormones. Also, remember that oil production is not the same as oil excretion. Once you hydrate your skin thoroughly, it will often self-regulate and produce less. However, it is important to patch test and make sure you are using products which work for your unique skin type. 

I have flaky, dry skin. What do I do?

Here are some tips for dealing with flakiness. 

  1. Do: Use physical exfoliants– Gentle and productive abrasion can remove dead or dry skin. However, it is important to remember that dry skin is also often sensitive, so you must make sure the products you use do not cause further irritation. Stay away from that apricot scrub!! My suggestion is a konjac sponge, which you can use with your foam cleanser. They are extremely inexpensive (no clairsonic necessary), and are excellent exfoliants that don’t cause further damage. Once you remove that dead dry skin, your face will be open to better absorb your skincare products and you can begin to work on improving your water barrier and overall moisture. 
  2. Don’t: Use chemical exfoliants. Unless recommended by your dermatologist, stay away from acids and other chemical exfoliants. While they do resurface the skin, they often cause dryness, which only perpetuates your problem and can result in increased oil production. 

I suffer from hyper pigmentation. What can I do to get rid of my dark spots?

Hyperpigmentation is caused when the skin reacts to irritants or injury by scarring. Those with hyperpigmentation have scars that are darker than their natural skin tone- something particularly common in people with deeper complexions.  

  1. Sunscreen– Before you think about lightening the dark spots, you must first prevent them from getting any worse. Exposure to the sun can cause hyperpigmented skin to darken even more, and can cause scarring on cuts, abrasions, or injuries to the skin. Sunscreen prevents the acceleration of this process. Check out this thread for help choosing a sunscreen. Personally, this is my favorite.
  2. Vitamin C- Vitamin C is a tried and true solution to lightening dark spots. It comes in many forms- serums, oils, creams, etc. However, it makes the skin sensitive, so you must wear sunscreen whenever your skincare routine contains Vitamin C. I cannot emphasize this enough!
  3. Cicapair- I suffer from hyperpigmentation and this product has worked very well for me. It does not have the same ~clout~ as Vitamin C, but who knows, it may work for you too. As always, your mileage may vary. 

How do you determine the cause of breakouts?

Here  is an article I wrote about harmful common skincare practices that many people don’t realize is affecting their skin. 

If you determine you aren’t doing any of the above things and your breakouts persist, I suggest doing the following:

  1. Simplify your skincare routine. This is a really easy way of ruling out particular products as the cause of your breakouts. If you are doing a 10-step routine, strip it down to an oil cleanser, a gentle, low-pH cleanser, a simple moisturizer, and sunscreen
  2. Analyze your lifestyle. People love to blame food for their skin problems, but the truth is, most people’s diet doesn’t vary drastically nor often enough to validate this claim. An exception to this would be if you go on vacation and deviate from your normal eating patterns. Aside from uncharacteristically high sugar consumption, there is very little that I personally can eat that will cause a full-on breakout.
  3. Consider the following factors. Some common causes of breakouts include changes in climate, season changes, increased stress, new skincare products, and changes in exercise habits. 
  4. Re-introduce products slowly. One by one, re-add your previous skincare products to your routine. Aim to add one product per week, and don’t forget to patch test!

Thanks for reading, and make sure to tune in for part 2 where I answer even more skincare questions. 




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