Hello, my dear friends! It felt like eternity since my last blog post, sometimes I even doubt myself, would I ever blog again?! Truth to be told, I haven’t felt a great urge to write in depth about anything recently because I was challenged (probably still am) in different aspects of life: parenting, career, acne, aging…the good news is, I think I’ve overcome the skin-deep ones so here I am, sharing my experiences and finding with you, hoping you will find some inspirations here.
Skin Issue: Adult Acne
Acne is not a teenager thing, acne is a hormone thing. When the hormones in our bodies go off balance, times like periods, pre-menopause (yes, happens to all women after age 40), acne appears. My first major outbreak since I was 22, was 2.5 years ago, I went to see my dermatologist, and she gave me antibiotics, gone in five days, case rested. It came back in full force last summer, called the doctor, got the medication, changed the medication, added hormone blocker med…not working. Fast-forward 8 months to this spring, I accidentally tried a juice shot with charcoal, I noticed my acnes dried up! But they wouldn’t go away, new ones kept on appearing no matter how many juice shots I took. “Holly, I don’t know what we should do with you!” my doctor said, after my 6th visit in a row, “maybe you should try Hydrofacial to get a good deep cleaning of your pores.” I got the facial, came home with some maintenance products, acne gone and healed in about a week, free of major outbreak since (knock on wood”.
Reviewing all the treatments I’ve gone through over the past 16 months, I admit it could have been solved much sooner if I had done a bit more research. In general, I have a healthy life style (don’t smoke, don’t drink, exercise & sweat often, not addicted to fried or spicy foods), all it left for me to do to really kick acne is to prevent my pores get clogged by oil. The charcoal juice shots helped internally, and the Hydrofacial worked topically. The salicylic acid drop and facial wipe I came home with, worked to fast cure any outbreak I had subsequently. If you are experiencing an acne outbreak, find a beauty product with high concentration of salicylic acid, it will work wonders.
None of the above prevented my acne from coming back, however. The main breakthrough and one stopped more outbreaks, was a change in my makeup routine. Because we were heading out to a very sunny place for vacation, I switch to an oil-free, water-based concealer, and that was all it took. Check the ingredients of your foundations and concealers, if it contains mineral oil, silicone, chunk it. Those two were my biggest enemies when I was battling acne, especially the concealers I was using. Once I started using the water-based canceler (it does have great coverage), and with the salicylic acid, I am finally acne-free in almost 17 months!
A real life test to my theory was I tried one time, after my acnes were dormant, a skin perfector (makeup base) that contains silicone, acne came back. So now I watch more closely what I put on my face. Here are products I am using to cure & prevent adult acne, you don’t have to get the exact ones, just make sure you get a strong enough salicylic acid and stay away from oils and silicone.
Skin Issue: Melasma
Melasma is a brown or gray-brown patch on the face, it happens to mostly women, especially women with color. I noticed my first melasma 3 years ago, on my left cheek, the size of a pea, then another one on my right cheek. At that time, I thought they was aging spots and I did a few laser treatments including the very powerful Fraxel (all under the advice of a certified aesthetician), no improvements but worsened condition, very expensive lesson learned.
With a friend’s recommendation, I found my current dermatologist, she prescribed three things for me: anti-pigmentation facial wash, hydroquinone cream, and tranexamic acid pill. The latter two could have considerable side effects so I would highly recommend you consult a dermatologist before using.
Another over-the-counter product I found that greatly helped improving the appearance of my melasma, by pure accident, is vitamin C serum. I actually tried vitamin C serum before I started seeing my dermatologist, it didn't do much for me then. When I got the Hydrofacial, the aesthetician recommended vitamin C serum again, “it lightens the skin and helps with sun damage” she said, so I took it thinking I would be exposed to a lot of sun. I couldn’t tell how much it didn't to alleviate the sun exposure I had, but I saw an almost immediate lightening of my melasma spots! Now I can cover them up with one application of concealer, they are less noticeable than the discoloration of my last acne spots.
If you have a minor case of melasma, I’d recommend you try out a combination of these two over-the-counter products: pigment facial bar & vitamin C serum. In the case of a larger issue, I would consult a dermatologist for suitable medication.
Skin Issue: Fine Lines & Wrinkles
You probably heard of this saying: Asians don’t raisin. Well, they do, just at a different pace. Anti-aging is a life-long commitment, the sooner you start, the better the outcome. Genetics aside, life style plays a more important role than skincare, things like do you sleep enough, drink enough water, sweat enough, have regular bowel movements? If you have taken care of your body, then these topical care practices might be useful:
1. A good moisturizer. I have combination dry skin, moisturizing is my No 1 priority. Over the years I used many moisturizers, from drugstore brands to department store brands, some I had committed to for almost a decade. I began to experiment with more potent, doctors brands after I turned 40, when I realize all the expensive luxury creams were not doing the work. Fast-forward to now, I realized money is better spent when I only use the effective ingredients and bypass all the other bells & whistles like fragrance, packing, etc. For moisturizer, I now use a hyaluronic acid serum (cheaper alternative during the day), and occasionally a cream on top at night when I feel I need a bit extra care.
2. A good sunblock. If I had done one thing right with anti again, that would be using a sunblock since my teen years. My skin tone was pretty dark and you know us Asians in Asia don’t like dark skin, I tried very hard to prevent myself getting tanned when I was young. Now I don’t worry about dark skin tone any more, but I still use SPF 50 to prevent / reduce sun damage, even on cloudy days. La Roche-Posay is the brand I’ve been using since 2006, I use it on my kids, too. Their SPF 60 fluid is light, easy to apply and non-greasy, but it does make the skin shinny, so sometimes I apply concealer on top of it and/or some loose powder.
3. A good resurfacer. Here comes the real catcher! Every anti-aging cream out there is trying to convince us that it is the best and you should start using it asap. What I realized, after all these years, if one has taken all measures to promote healthy skin (good diet, life style, moisturizing and sunblock), fine lines and wrinkles is really a non-issue until the body metabolism slows down enough to see more dull skin.
The best way to battle that is to accelerate the rate our skin resurfaces. Skin laser treatments and chemical peels are the most effective way to resurface skin. There are many variations of these two types of treatments, the best practice is to consult a reputable dermatologist / aesthetician before commit to a series of treatments. Usually you will need 3-4 consecutive treatments (3-4 weeks apart) to see significant results. Because of my melasma issue, laser skin treatments did more damage to my skin than good. I switched to gentle chemical peel and I finished one session of treatments.
Now I’m using a gentle skin resurfacer recommend by my doctor. It contains both alpha hydroxy acid and retinol but a mild enough formula for daily use. Be very careful with retinol products, it could dry out and irritate skin, and it is only intended for night time use, pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid using it.
Also our bodies don’t produce as much collagen as we get older, which contributes to dry and sagging skin, you can add collagen to your diet but consult a doctor first.
To sum it all up, here are my daily skin care routine & products used (you can save this page or download the picture for quick reference), products can be purchase online are linked below: