Video: My Top 5 Acne Tips

Top 5 Acne Tips

I’ve had a lot of requests for a video for teenage skincare, and a lot of questions about acne. So here are my top 5 tips for acne-prone skin! It includes an appearance by Baby Goth Michelle, and some hectic eyebags courtesy of my post-Europe insomnia (one month and counting). Click here for the video. Related posts and videos that …

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Can you freeze your beauty products?

Skincare fridges are taking off, and the question is – what’s the point of refrigerating your beauty products? Why does cold make them last longer? What about freezing your skincare products – is it OK? The short answer is yes, most of the time. Here’s the longer explanation… (also in video form here!) Why do beauty products go off? If …

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Tip: Multi-Sunscreening for Maximum Protection and Minimum Grease

Tip: Multi-Sunscreening for Maximum Protection and Minimum Grease

Here’s a simple skincare trick that I’ve found ridiculously useful lately that I thought I’d share in case it helps anyone else out. I’m sure I’m not the first person to do it, but I also haven’t seen it discussed anywhere else (though I haven’t been looking very hard).

I’ve started doing something that can be best described as “multi-sunscreening”, a bit like the “multi-masking trend” that a lot of brands are jumping on. I was inspired to do this when I watched Fiddy Snails apply her sunscreen using a BB cushion puff on Instagram, when she patted her sunscreen in all over her face using the puff then went back to part in extra on her pigmentation problem areas.

Here’s my issue: I get pigmentation very quickly on the tops of my cheekbones. It’s an annoying genetic thing that a lot of East Asian people have, and I’ve managed to inherit it from my dad’s side (thaaaanks). Right now it’s not too bad, but mostly because I throw hydroxy acids and vitamin C at it all the time to try to lighten it, and cover it with high UVA protection sunscreen to stop it from getting worse.

The problem is that I also have oily skin, from my mum (again: thaaaanks). The sunscreens with the highest UVA protection that I know of come from French brands Bioderma and La Roche-Posay. And unfortunately, they’re greasy, at least on my oil slick face. Even their “fluids” designed for oily skin turn me into an unsightly mirror ball at the end of the day. So I find myself reaching for more “cosmetically elegant” sunscreens most of the time – usually Bioré Aqua Base Watery Essence – which keep my oily areas manageable but aren’t waterproof or sweatproof, and have lower UVA protection as well. I’ve noticed that my sunspots are steadily creeping back.

Here’s where multi-sunscreening has saved both my long-term skin health as well as my daily try-not-to-look-like-melting-wax efforts. My sunscreen routine now goes like this:

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7 More Science-Based Skincare Tips

7 More Science-Based Skincare Tips

Here’s another collection of science-backed skincare tips for Pinterest! I’m always annoyed at how many terrible pins there are on Pinterest so I decided to make my own. The first set of skincare tips is here. If you know of any good skincare boards on Pinterest, please send me links! If you’re a skincare nerd or follow me on Instagram, you might have seen these already. I’ve included related posts if you’d like to find out more.

Skin shouldn’t be squeaky

7 More Science-Based Skincare Tips

Leave “squeaky clean” for dishes and toilets! If your skin feels squeaky or tight, you’ve probably stripped the protective natural lipids and oils off your skin. This layer is there to keep water in and help your skin stay flexible. It’s very tempting to overwash if you’re oily, but unfortunately, overwashing will trigger your skin to produce more oil. (On the flip side, adding more oil to already healthy skin won’t reduce oil production!)

Related posts:

Avoid these sunscreen ingredients that cause white cast

7 More Science-Based Skincare Tips

If your skin is around medium or darker, you’ve probably had that awkward moment when you put on sunscreen and it looks like you’ve been hit with a bag of flour. This is white cast, and the culprits in sunscreen are mostly zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. These are the physical (inorganic) sunscreen ingredients. If the particles are very small and well dispersed, the white cast will be less of a problem. The best way to check is to test it on your skin before you buy.

Related posts:

Money doesn’t mean quality

7 More Science-Based Skincare Tips

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7 Science-Based Skincare Tips

7 Science-Based Skincare Tips

I’ve been lurking on Pinterest and getting increasingly annoyed at how bad the skincare advice is on there – it’s a serious challenge to find a pin that doesn’t have something inaccurate on it! So I decided to create my own science-based skincare tips that you can pin to dilute the usual “rub these foods on your face to cure stuff that can’t be cured, even with surgery – oh, and these might burn but beauty is pain and it’s natural, so it’s good for you!”. (Yeah, I’m just a tad salty.) If you’re a regular reader of my blog or if you follow me on Instagram, you’ll probably know these skincare tips already, but it’s always nice to have a refresher! I’ve also linked relevant posts for each tip, if you’d like to find out more.

It Doesn’t Take Much Sun to Age Your Skin

7 Science-Based Skincare Tips

Scary fact of the day: even if you haven’t gotten burnt, you still might have had enough sun exposure to cause permanent damage! 1/10 of the UV required to cause sunburn (also known as the erythemal dose) will be enough to activate the enzyme MMP-1, which breaks down collagen. Collagen is an important protein in your skin that gives it its bounciness – loss of collagen from natural aging and sun exposure is one of the main reasons for rough skin texture and wrinkles. The solution: wear sunscreen daily, and practice sun avoidance – cover up with clothes, wear a hat, and seek shade, especially in the middle of the day when UV is at its strongest. (And if you need sun, find a part of your body you’re willing to sacrifice!)

Related posts:

Yes, Oily Skin Can Need Moisturiser!

7 Science-Based Skincare Tips

Oily skin produces more sebum, your skin’s natural moisturising oil, than dry skin. This means it’s less likely to need moisturiser, but unfortunately oily skin is not immune to dehydration, when it doesn’t have enough water. If your skin is oily but feels tight, your skin is probably dehydrated – you’ll need a hydrating moisturiser containing humectants like glycerin to help your skin hold onto water.

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How to Find Time for Your Skincare Routine

How to Find Time for Your Skincare Routine

How to Find Time for Your Skincare Routine

Sunscreen, BHA, clay mask, oil cleanser, toner, AHA, retinol, moisturiser, sheet mask, cream cleanser… If you’re having trouble finding the time (or the dedication) to do all the steps in your skincare routine, here are some time-saving methods I’ve found to work for me over the years.

1. Wash your face in the shower

If you shower at night, washing and scrubbing your face in the shower works amazingly.

  • You don’t have to worry about splashing water all over your clothes and down your sleeves (the actual worst in winter), or spend ages trying to splash enough water onto your face to wash off your cleanser – just stick your face under the shower head! (Make sure the shower temperature isn’t too hot though.)
  • You can save time by multitasking in the shower – wash your face while waiting for your hair conditioner to soak off, let your oil cleanser sit while you shave your legs etc.
  • Showers work great for washing off clay masks too – just dunk your face under the shower head briefly and the entire mask will be washable in seconds. Less mess as well!

Skincare Routine Tips

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Why You Should Never Straighten or Curl Wet Hair

hair-straightener-wet-dry

hair-straightener-wet-dry

I’ve been straightening and curling my hair wet/damp for years, despite all the popcorn-sounding fizzes and crackles – but some science I’ve recently read have made me do a complete 180. It turns out wet and dry hair respond to extreme heat very differently – and wet hair cops it far worse, and not just because it’s more fragile.

First, a little refresher on hair anatomy. Hair has three main parts:

  • the medulla – boring central core, actually non-existent in light and fine hair
  • the cortex – middle layer, responsible for colour, texture and most of the strength of hair
  • the cuticle – protective outermost layer, made of overlapping cells like roof shingles or fish scales, shiny

cross-section-hair-structure

The cuticle lays flat, but water can get in between the gaps. When you wet healthy hair, it can actually absorb up to 30% of its own weight in water into the inner spongy cortex (more if it’s damaged hair).

An average hair straightener heats up to 185-230 °C. Curling irons are a little cooler, at 95-200 °C. They’re both well above the normal boiling point of water, which is 100 °C. (Temperatures in Fahrenheit are straighteners 365-446 °F, curlers 203-392 °F and boiling water 212 °F, for any readers from non-metric countries like the US, Liberia or Myanmar.)

archer-metric-system
C’mon USA, switch already. I believe in you.

What happens when the wet inside of hair gets heated well beyond its boiling point? Well, it’s not too dissimilar to popping corn…

Source
Source

When water turns from liquid to gas it expands. When it’s heated strongly it expands rapidly. Since it’s confined in the cortex by the cuticle, it has to bust out. That’s right – the water explosively evaporates, shattering whatever’s in its path, which happens to be… your hair.

jscc-2011-gamez-garcia
From Gamez-Garcia, J Cosmet Sci 2001, 62, 109-120

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What products are good for sensitive skin?

sun-sensitive

sun-sensitive

You’ll know if you have sensitive skin – even looking at a new product is enough to make your skin erupt into a pit of redness, itching, stinging or puffiness (or all of them at once – lucky you!). Your skin hates products, but it also hates not having products on it. What can you do? Here are a few tips on finding the right routine for you:

Avoid harsh products, or at least use them rarely

This includes abrasive scrubs, foaming cleansers, stiff cleansing brushes. When you need to use a harsh product, like an alpha hydroxy acid or a retinoid (vitamin A derivative – both of these are great for acne and anti-ageing), introduce it slowly and only use them once or twice a week when your skin is in peak condition.

Avoid irritants and common allergens

The best thing to do is to get yourself to a doctor ASAP for an allergy test! In the meantime, if you’re not sure which ingredients trigger your sensitivity yet, it’s safest to avoid products with common irritants and allergens.

Fragrance, alcohol, methylisothiazolinone, essential oils, propylene glycol and formaldehyde-releasing preservatives (e.g. diazolidinyl urea, quaternium-15) are common irritants in beauty products. Parabens are a common preservative ingredient but an allergy to them is rare – for most people with sensitive skin, the alternative preservatives used in place of parabens are more irritating. Vitamin E (tocopherol) is another common ingredient that rarely causes sensitivity, but you may just be one of the unlucky ones.

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