Candice Chen (avatar)
updated 1 year ago

New Skincare Resolutions Part 1

A lot of people mistake me for a makeup fanatic.

The truth is makeup takes up a drawer on my dresser and skincare takes up an entire 4-tier shelf behind the mirror. (And there's more lying around the house.)

Most of us take voyeuristic joy in peeking at other peoples' beauty cabinets - me more than most. I used to go through my mom's considerably more pared down dresser as a kid and all the weird lotions and potions looked like witches' brews to me.

To be honest they still do sometimes.

I was shooting my face after trying YSL's new All Hours Encre de Peau foundation the other day and it just struck me that my skincare priorities have evolved a lot in the past 1-2 years.

1. I am less tan than I used to be but little freckles and uneven tones are showing up more visibly

2. Fine dehydration lines are starting to become visible around eyes and beside my mouth

3. I STILL get the odd breakout and have to deal with makeup breaking down in our humid weather in spite of drier skin

Makeup can still mask most issues aa I get older but I notice it's taking better, more high-tech, more expensive formulas these days to sit right, stay right, and still look like real skin.

The heavy, blot-out-all-texture-and-color formulas like KvD Lock-It and UD All Nighter look horribly thick on my skin and misting with setting spray only seems to make them break down faster in our weather.

Cushions leave a nice glow but also break down in our heat regardless of their long wear claims.

There are only a few long wear formulas in the past couple of yrs that have managed to not oxidize too much on me, cover decently without looking like makeup, and hold up after prolonged humidity and sweat (meaning they look shiny but a light blot with clean tissue gets them back to more or less their original state).

NARS All Day Weightless Luminous
Diorskin Forever liquid foundation
YSL All Hours Encre de Peau

I do have a few others I like for diff reasons but these are in my top 5.

I do love my Bourjois Healthy Mix from the drugstore but it's not exactly on par in terms of the hold-up-after-sweat test.

I also really like Maybelline Fit Me Matte and Poreless (but oxidizes on me) and L'Oreal Infallible (heavier looking texture). I hands-down prefer these 2 to All Nighter and Lock-It for looking MUCH more natural.

Unless you really have severe texture issues or acne you want to hide, I would not suggest anyone go for All Nighter and Lock-It just for staying power.

Weird off-topic aside, I just realized recently that I needed to change my skincare, not keep looking for a perfect foundation.

I STILL expect them to at least survive sweat intact; not break down and cake around pores and expression lines after lunch. But I am on a major skincare exploration kick now cos I accept that the less foundation I need, the better I look at 5pm.

So I made 10 new skincare resolutions for myself that I am going to TRY to stick with for the next few months.

1. Exercise regularly. I currently work out at least 6 days a week. According to Fitbit I'm covering 11km a day on avg, part of which is jogging.

I made all sorts of weird excuses previously, including fear of breakouts from exercising.

Not only did more breakouts not occur, but hormonal breakouts were less severe too. Regular exercise regulates hormones and blood sugar levels, which indirectly affects sebum production and inflammation responses.

I do still get clogs but I get them regardless of whether I work out or not. If you are cleansing and exfoliating properly (more on this later) your skin should be perfectly fine.

(As for that thing about exercise "flushing out toxins from your skin", I still feel that's largely mambo jumbo BS...)


2. Hydrate.
I am TERRIBLE with water. I will drink maybe 2-3 glasses of fluid a day and it's most often in the form of something caffeinated.

Not that caffeine is bad - according to latest research it's actually not. But my total intake is alarmingly low and it CAN affect skin firmness and also its sensitivity levels so I am trying to be more mindful about drinking since it's such a cheap n quick way to boost your skin's appearance anyway.

Hydration also includes hydrating toners/essences. I don't usually care what I use as long as it has a lot of humectants and doesn't contain alcohol. I don't believe in harsh alcohol "toners" like Clinique Clarifying Lotions because those strip the skin surface and make your pores tighten very temporarily. Ultimately they dry out and cause micro tears in your skin.

But these hydrating ones act like "softeners". If you think of the ground after a drought, it is hard and dry.

It does NOT want to absorb water because the dry dead cells are too compact and packed together.

In humid Singapore it's not as much of an issue for many people but if you have naturally dry skin or work in a dry air-conditioned place, massaging lightly with a softening essence helps loosen those layers and allow your serums and actives to absorb deeper and work better.

Some like SK II also contain high concentrations of antioxidants or anti-inflammatories, so if you have the budget go for it.

3. Be a sunblock nazi. No kidding. It is the best investment you can make for your skin.

I went for yellow laser to treat freckles etc recently, which totally reminded me to go crazy with suncare.

SPF50 if you are not sensitive to sunscreens. SPF20/30 or a powder sunblock if you are... and buy a spray that you can mist over yourself before lunch if you are stepping out. Your morning SPF is likely no longer effective by then.

I also started taking Heliocare before going out in strong sunlight.

This is an oral supplement that helps build skin's defense against UV damage. Sunscreen is not total protection.

The problem is heliocare is WAAY too expensive for us to take it the way it needs to be taken (daily to max out natural defense) so at least take 240mg 30mins before you go out in strong sun.

This fern extract is anti inflammatory so it also helps if my skin flares up with rashes or acne rosacea from testing products.

When choosing topical sunblocks also take note that some only have PA++ or PA+++. I will always go for PA++++ because it blocks UVA, which is what breaks down your collagen matrix and makes your skin sag and pores enlarge as you get older.

I have gone on about it many times so I won't go into too much detail. Just remember an umbrella and clothes can help supplement low SPF. But they don't help block UVA. So it makes zero sense to use an SPF50-100 block with low PA. Better the reverse.

The tricky thing is a lot of EU standards are different so that bottle of Avene or Nivea may not list UVA protection ratings.

Doesn't mean they don't have UVA protection but I am just less likely to touch it if I am not sure how well it can protect me.

4. Cut out foaming cleansers.
The cleanser market is dominated by foams because consumers WANT foam. It makes them feel squeaky clean.

Just remember that foams over-alkalinize your skin. Doesn't matter if they are sulfate free. This makes your skin susceptible to bacteria and yeast infection. If you are acne prone it's probably one of the worst things you can do.

Also that tight clean feeling is the moment right before you get micro tears in your skin surface because the cells are too dry.

If you have very young healthy skin with plenty of oil (and no acne) it might still be fine to use your foam if you moisturize right afterwards, but I personally wish someone would have told me about the pH issue when I was 15.

You don't have to go for very heavy milks and balms. There are non-foaming gels that work well too. The LANEIGE Fresh Calming gel cleanser is a nice one. I just prefer something with a bit of oil cos it has the ability to break down waterproof makeup and oils.

If you are in the market for luxury, at least go for something with some skincare benefits. Unlike foams, you SHOULD massage milks balms and creams into your skin as long as you have patience to tolerate. Provided you are not dragging your skin around, the gentle massage is good for cleansing, as well as improving circulation.

Some of the Shu Uemura oils have anti-aging properties, and Aurelia's here has probiotics to also help counteract bad bacteria and balance the skin.

If you are scared of that greasy film on your skin after cleansing, just buy some flannel face towels or muslin cloths.

Wet in warm water, press over your face and gently firmly wipe downwards to remove your cleansing cream. If you want you can hold a hot cloth over your face to "steam clean". I've been using this "hot cloth" cleansing for the past year and it's honestly sooo much better than foams that make the surface feel dry (which we interpret as clean) but don't really deep clean at all.

This is a hard change for oily skinned gals I know LOL. But if you do it right you will not feel greasy after cleansing. Just clean and soft.

I was so scared when i first switched but my skin IS a lot cleaner and less congested using cream cleanser and a hot cloth vs a thick foam.

What I do is remove makeup with a cleansing water or remover FIRST. Then go in with the good milks/creams with the skincare properties. Makeup removal and skin deep-cleansing are two very separate things for me.

Whatever you do, don't get suckered into buying expensive foams touting skincare benefits.

Foams are rinsed away in seconds so you are washing money down the drain. Also if you try to leave foam on longer just to try and reap those benefits your skin will be totally stripped and parched. No, no, no.

5. Try chemical exfoliants.
I have had this bottle of Alpha H Liquid Gold sitting in a press bag for over a year. No kidding. The idea of running alcohol-based 10% glycolic acid toner over my somewhat dry sometimes sensitive partly flaky skin, and not applying moisturizer afterwards felt like the WORST thing possible.


Not saying glycolic acid will work wonders on everyone but it was great for me as I deal with some fine lines and pigmentation.

What it does is slough off dead cells while kicking your skin's a$$ overnight. It increases circulation, shortens cell turnover cycle gradually from 28++ days to about 14, and boosts collagen production over time.

Strangely I don't feel dry and tight using this. My skin just looks DAMNED GOOD a few hours later. Little stubborn bumps from oil seeds shrink.

You can't use this every day. You use it 2-3 nights a week. Max.

I'm still new to the range so I will need to test a few more weeks.

But so far I can only say - WOW.

That even, matte, smooth glow...

Liquid Gold is not cheap on but also not expensive. And I'll keep using it but it also made me curious about other glycolic and acid exfoliants.

I have tried Peter Thomas Roth's 10% glycolic serum but his actives are sometimes a bit too strong for me. (But when it works it REALLY works.)

He has those Unwrinkle Peel Pads which I probably will try soon. But for now it is Alpha H for me.

This brand does have a few other products I'm keen to start using soon.

They also have a gentle daily enzyme powder which I mentioned in my last post. That one is not going to give you instant results the way Liquid Gold did. If you are going to only test one thing I'd start with Liquid Gold.

Just make sure you are not using other harsh exfoliants or peels at the same time if you try this and everyone's skin is different! You CAN let it work for awhile and then apply serum and cream over it.

That's usually recommended for the super sensitive people. I was preparing to but my skin felt so good afterwards that I didn't.

The day after my first use, usual dry areas around my nose were peeling much less, while acne scabs peeled right off, but not the healthy skin around it.

Now it DOES contain alcohol which is designed to help the product penetrate so you get max effect. If you are scared, dampen your cotton pad with a facial mist first so it's more diluted.

Or go for a milder alternative like Pixi Glow Tonic (also on Sephora but this is sold out last I checked, though the pre-soaked pads are still in stock. Seriously they need to get their online stock management in order; they seem to constantly overstocking and under-stocking things because of how slow/long their ordering process is.)

This has no alcohol and is only 5% glycolic acid so it's great for beginners. It is also cheaper. But you also won't see as much results as fast of course.

I AM in general trying out more "actives". That's what we call those chemical ingredients like retinol, glycolic acid, niacinamide etc.

Previously I was more into the mainstream skincare that felt luxe and and supports overall skin health but usually isn't usually strong enough to tackle specific issues. This includes most generic things like your Sulwhasoo, Shiseido, Cle de Peau, La Mer etc. To me these are like TCM (chinese medicine) for your face. Definitely good to keep up.

But when you have something you need to treat quickly, you always need to go for the "western medicine" type with clinically proven ingredients in controlled but effective strengths.

So some brands I am paying a bit more attention to now include Alpha H, Peter Thomas Roth, Kate Somerville, etc. Do be aware going over the top with these can often result in bad sensitive reactions cos most of them are pretty strong. So do some reading up and err on the side of caution before diving in.

I have a weird habit of going for the mainstream brand stuff in the day (my Lancomes and LANEIGE and Shiseido etc) by way of softening lotions, antioxidant or antiaging serums, face cream and sunscreen.

Then in the evening I swap now to the hardcore stuff. Cos these often can sensitize your skin temporarily. Strong ascorbic acid (vit C), retinols, glycolic acid, etc will make skin a bit more fragile and should be avoided in the day in our hot climate.

And that brings me to the end of Part 1!

Day 229

Thursday, 17 Aug 2017

150 22
minzymin (avatar)

minzymin Once again, you've surprised me. Now you are a fitness bunny!! And thanks for the reminder to drink up.

1 year ago

makeupbox (avatar)

makeupbox @minzymin hahahaha I totally was not... I'm like lazy AF most of the time but once you get going it's easier to just keep going.

1 year ago

helloowl (avatar)

helloowl What's your favorite cream cleanser to recommend!

1 year ago

makeupbox (avatar)

makeupbox @helloowl I'm quite easygoing with cream cleansers! I'll try out and use anything hahaha. For a good basic I think the Sephora one is great value for money so I buy the humongous bottle. The First Aid Beauty Milk Oil Cleanser is another one I like!

1 year ago

Blithe (avatar)

Blithe Oh my god, your skincare cabinet is 💯 goals 😍

1 year ago

Blithe (avatar)

Blithe Just a question out of curiosity - do you manage to finish everything before the expiry? I love hoarding but this gives me constant anxiety hahaha

1 year ago

makeupbox (avatar)

makeupbox @blithe hahaha I know the feeling! Every few months I go through and throw out things. But the ones I like I usually will use up quite fast. Toning waters, serum, creams, sunblocks and cleansers usually disappear quite fast for me!

1 year ago

makeupbox (avatar)

makeupbox @blithe it's also one of my resolutions (spoiler for next post hahahah) to not be too sparing with good skincare. Sometimes i will use the cheaper stuff and leave the expensive ones until they to bad. SO BAD!!!

1 year ago

makeupbox (avatar)

makeupbox "Go" bad I mean

1 year ago

makeupbox (avatar)

makeupbox @helloowl ooh I forgot to mention Philosophy Purity too! That's a good one for oilier skins or people who are not ready to try the oil based stuff.

1 year ago

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