Beauty 101: Answering Your Most Basic Grooming Questions

Are highlighters and illuminators really that different?

Published On Feb 26, 2024 | Updated On Mar 08, 2024


In theory, making rice seems like the easiest thing to do in the world yet most end up with a dry, clumpy mess 5 times out of 10. It's all about the basics, not just in food but skin, hair and makeup routines as well. And whether you're new to your beauty and grooming journey or have been at it for a while, here are some of the most basic things people tend to get wrong and how to get them right! 

1. What is the correct order for applying skincare products?

Here's a trick to ALWAYS getting the order of your skincare right, even if you're introducing new products. Always go from the lightest to the thickest; L2T say that with us. This means that a basic routine's order will be a gentle cleanser to rid your skin of dirt, oil, and makeup followed with a toner to balance pH levels and prepare the skin. Then a targeted serum with active ingredients to address specific concerns. Then comes the eye cream to help manage puffiness, or fine lines. Seal everything in with a moisturiser, and if its day time, finish with a SPF. For the night, you can either do a face oil or layer a night treatment cream at the last step. If you do use them, your spot treatments will be the final step. 

2. What is the difference between hydrating and moisturising?

If you're wondering whether your skin needs water or moisture, here's how to decode it. Pinch the skin on your knuckles and if the skin settles back down on its own, your skin is hydrated. But if you see dry, flaking skin on your hands, it needs moisture. Hydrating products literally add water to the skin, like hyaluronic acid, and moisturising ones seal the water in using oil or occlusive ingredients. Good news for you is that combining both steps in a skincare routine helps achieve balanced and well-nourished skin so you don't really have to differentiate between the two.

3. How often should one the skin?  

Remember: over-exfoliation can disrupt your skin's barrier and not exfoliating it enough will make it look dull. So exfoliate your skin 1 to 3 times a week with a gentle chemical exfoliant recommended by your dermatologist for your skin type.  

4. Should you apply sunscreen even on cloudy days?

Yes! You should apply sunscreen regardless of the weather outside. UV rays penetrate clouds, causing skin damage and a SPF of at least 30 helps protect against these harmful rays, reducing the risk of sunburn and premature ageing.

5. Can you brush my hair when it's wet?  

FYI, wet hair is more elastic and vulnerable, leading to potential damage. So, it's best to use a wide-tooth comb for gentle detangling or wait until your hair is mostly dry before going in with a brush.

6. What ACTUALLY causes split ends, and how can you prevent them?  

TV adverts will have you believing that even artfully flipping your hair will cause split ends while in reality they are caused by damage to the hair shaft, often due to heat styling, chemical treatments, or rough handling. The only solution is to trim your hair regularly, minimise heat styling, use a wide-tooth comb, and apply a leave-in conditioner to keep hair moisturised and less prone to breakage. And as mentioned above, no brushing wet hair!

7. Is it necessary to use conditioner every time you shampoo?

Much like your skin, your haircare routine needs to be tailored to hair type as well. For instance, it's not necessary to use conditioner every time you shampoo for oilier hair types as product buildup can weigh it down. But if you have dry or damaged hair, frequent conditioning can help restore moisture. And sometimes, even a lightweight hydrating spray or foam will the do the trick! 

8. Do you really need a makeup primer?

Yes, and no you're moisturiser will not double up as a primer either! Specifically formulated to create a smooth surface and minimise pores to help makeup adhere better and look like skin. It also makes your look last longer!

9. How often should you clean my makeup brushes?

Apart from dirty makeup brushes and sponges being gross, they also are home to bacteria that can break you out. Clean your makeup tools at least once to twice a week depending on frequency of use to prevent the buildup of dirt and old makeup. A gentle cleanser or baby shampoo will do the trick!

10. What is the difference between highlighter and illuminator?

If I had a penny for every time I was asked this question… Highlighters are fine powders, creams or liquids that accentuate the high points of you face with shimmer particles. Illuminators, on the other hand, are for all-over glow, imparting a subtle, dewy finish to the entire complexion. So basically they're for your whole face!

11. Why does your foundation oxidise?

If you've ever found yourself cosplaying a Cheeto, chances are your foundation has oxidised! A chemical reaction with the skin's natural oils or external factors is behind this faux pas, causing it to darken or change color. It's not really in your control either as the formula's ingredients, skin pH, or exposure to air and light can all contribute to foundation oxidising. To prevent it though, choose foundations with stable formulations, layer over a primer, and set with a translucent powder.

12. Why does your makeup pill?

If you're makeup, or skincare, up is ending up in tiny balls on your palms, its because of incompatible product formulation, mixing oil-based and water-based products, or over-application. Make sure to use either oil or water based products, allow each layer to set before applying the next, and avoid extra rubbing or layering. 

Photo: /InstagramAthiyaShetty