A Starter’s Guide to Nourish Skin


By ena ganguly

We hear about skin care all the time: the do’s and don’ts, the sometimes and the maybes. It’s really confusing, especially if you are struggling to take care of your skin. I won’t lie, my family blessed me with beautiful skin. My people are from the Bay of Bengal, where the climate is humid and hot, so our skin is plush, dewy and melanin rich. It also helped that we moved to the suburbs of Houston, where the weather is pretty much the same. Seriously, you could cut Houston air with a knife.

That being said, by the time I started high school, I began to look into ‘skin care hacks’ that would shift my lifestyle only slightly but would help me establish a skin care practice. Here are some tips I follow that may support your daily regimen too!

1. Assess and understand your skin type

When I first started looking at skin care routines, I had to really assess what my skin needed and go from there. I have combination skin: oily near and on the nose, dry around the forehead and jaw, sensitive all over. From this I realized I needed unscented products that would soothe my skin. Also, I came to the understanding that I naturally have darkness around my eyes. I look at my family, and most South Asians, and notice that many of us have darkness around our eyes. Very recently have I started to appreciate that.

2. Wash your face

In my culture, Bengali mothers have a classic saying, “Mukh haath paa dhuye esho”, which means “Wash your hands, feet and face, then come over.” I was prescribed this advice every day of my life, and even now, when I go visit my mamma. This advice goes a long way for some of us. If you feel really adventurous, use a gentle cleanser and toner when you wash your face. I like to cleanse my face four to five times a week, but that lessens or increases, depending on how much my skin has been through (makeup, pollution, dirt, etc). If you want to start slow, try washing your face with water every morning, after brushing your teeth and every night, before going to bed. It has the potential of washing away the day’s dirt and pollution and the night’s tossing and turning.

3. Change your pillowcases often

…Which brings me to my next point. If you are experiencing an increase in breakouts, try changing your pillowcases once every two weeks, or even once a week, depending on how badly you think you need it. Our pillows go through a lot. Now that I think about it, so do our face towels. They catch dirt, hair, oil and maybe even drool…ahem…so changing pillowcases and face towels frequently may be a good idea for you!

4. Take off your make-up

This may be obvious to some, but really, take off your make-up as soon as you can. Wearing makeup is super fun and everyone deserves to experience the creativity, joy and excitement of wearing make-up, but try to take it off before you fall asleep at night. Some people like to use coconut oil, but, unfortunately that can clog pores and cause breakouts. Try almond or sunflower oil instead! These oils are less prone to clog pores and damage skin.

5. Really basic tips that I hope you take with a grain of salt

Sleep well. Drink enough water (my rule of thumb is the color of my pee. The lighter it is, the more hydrated you are! Too much information? Sorry.). Find ways to relax: touch trees, read, write, have someone to talk to, go on walks, give yourself some tender love and care. These are the three basic, but really difficult, steps that would improve our skin health.

Our skin is a mirror of our health as well as our genetics. Some of us do the utmost for our skin and continue to struggle with breakouts, acne, etc while some of us don’t do much at all and have clear skin. It’s not fair, I know. Having perfect glowy skin isn’t the goal, and honestly, it’s not realistic. Do what you can with the resources and time you have. Here are some simple, hopefully accessible, products that you can make for yourself at home:

  • Toner: Rose water + witch hazel
  • Moisturizers
    • Raw aloe vera gel (There is so much of this growing all over Austin!) + honey
    • Jojoba oil: Jojoba oil has the most similar molecular structure to the oil our skin produces, so our skin absorbs it easily.
  • Cleansers: Almond oil and sunflower oil (great for removing makeup and dirt)

My routine is cleansing my face in the shower and moisturizing it before I start my day (aka go to work). After I come home, I cleanse my face to remove dirt, oil and makeup. I wash my face with just water after. Before I go to bed, I wash my face with water one more time. I may apply a mask once a week and use rosewater as a toner. I definitely want to use toner more often and find more makeup and skin products for my sensitive skin.

What’s your daily skin routine? What are some products you swear by? Let us know!

If you want to hear more about skin care and establishing a skin care routine, join us for a community event facilitated by makeup artist and esthetician, Xylina Cardiel on June 12th at 6:30 PM at allgo. allgo is located at 701 Tillery St. Suite A1.