Friday, February 19, 2016

What kind of moisture does your skin need?

In my last post, I talked about how I recognised signs of dehydration in my skin and how important the oil-moisture balance is to maintain healthy, glowy, baby's bum-like skin.

Today, I want to talk briefly about the types of moisture and how knowing this can help in selecting the right kind of serum, day moisturiser, night cream for your skin type.

Broadly speaking, there are three types of moisture: humectants, emollients and occlusives.

These are ingredients like aloe vera, glycerin, hyaluronic acid or lactic acid, which draw moisture to the skin and keep it there on the outermost layer of the skin. They are the lightest type of moisture as they do not contain any oil element. Because of this, they are great to use on extremely oily skin types or for those who live in a highly humid climate. Serums often contain humectants.

Emollients are slightly heavy and often oil-based moisturisers that smoothen the skin to supply it with lipids (the natural oil of the skin). Some of them also act as barriers; ingredients such as mineral oil. Mineral oil (derived from petroleum and an excellent solvent), is a highly debatable ingredient to have in skincare but that discussion is for another day. Other types of emollients in skincare products are plant-based oils, which can sink into the skin. Examples of this include jojoba oil. Serums often contain emollients, apart from humectants.

As the name suggests, these act as true barriers that protect the skin from dryness, which can wreak havoc. Occlusive ingredients are often found in heavy night creams and the latest type of moisturisers to hit the market—balms. They form a heavy and oily layer on the skin as they comprise mainly oils. For this reason, they are sparingly used on the face, and are preferred more for the body, except for those who suffer from eczema on the face and hence require a layer of moisture + oil that won’t budge and therefore, protect the affected area. Petrolatum, also a derivative of petroleum, is an occlusive ingredient. So are silicones and waxes. If you’re suffering from eczema, look out for petrolatum as a good-to-have ingredient in your body/face moisturiser.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Dehydrated yet oily—my skin was as confused as I was

There were times in my life, in the past 5-6 years, when more than one person beautician and dermatologist told me that my skin was dehydrated. There were multiple times in my life, in the past 6-10 years, when more than one person told me that my skin was troubled with whiteheads.
Now, with the latter, you can pretty much tell when someone is suffering from it—although most people confuse sebaceous filaments with whiteheads—but I digress. Remind me to broach that subject later. With dehydration, however, I was always left wondering what those people truly meant. Being the snob that I was am, I never really questioned them or worse, assumed that their knowledge was flawed and that they were saying so only to push a product or service in my face.
How wrong was I?
Whether their intentions were to sell something or not is irrelevant today but what they tried to tell me didn’t prompt me to action, unfortunately, or even thought for that matter.

How I was ‘shown the mirror’ through a camera lens!
Fast forward to a year ago and post various vacays that I took with my husband, I was finally ‘shown the mirror’. While browsing through the countless vacay pics clicked by his advanced camera, I finally saw that my skin was indeed in an awful state. The lens magnified every single bump, dry patch and pigmentation that had called my skin its home.
While I never suffered from severe acne or pitted scars, whiteheads (we’ll stick with that term for now) were the bane of my life and I came to accept that. But it was only after reading skinandtonics’ blog post on moisture barrier that I truly understood what those well-meaning folks meant when they said ‘dehydrated’.
To put simply, dehydration is a condition where your skin feels dry and parched in spite of being oily. Confused, right? I was puzzled too when I first tried to wrap my head around the concept. If you’re still wondering what it means, a rundown of its symptoms may help.
·       A dehydrated skin will typically show dry and uneven patches, especially on the cheeks or chin, coupled with an oily T-zone and possibly some level of acne.

·       Dry, oily and combination are skin types, whereas dehydrated is a condition that can happen to any of these three skin types.

·       Another symptom of dehydrated skin is the lack of glow…not the JLo kind, but a sort of inner glow that one usually associates with babies and wise men.

The vicious cycle of oil and moisture
So, it was established (with a few additional research-y clicks) that my skin was dehydrated. What it basically meant was that my skin’s oil and moisture balance was askew.
Let me explain how that happens:
·       When the skin is deprived of moisture, it compensates for it by stimulating the sebaceous glands, forcing them to pump out more sebum or what we call as oil

·       Overproduction of sebum makes the skin oily (duh!), which leads the person to grab the nearest oil-stripping cleanser and/or scrub to get rid of the grease/shininess

·       Overusing harsh cleansers and scrubs not only get rids of the excess oil but also strips away what little moisture is remaining in the skin
And thus, we complete the vicious cycle where no moisture leads to more sebum, which leads to using a harsh cleanser, which again leads to zero moisture.

Enter Google and the tiny little spark called curiosity
With this fascinating piece of knowledge planted firmly in my head, I obsessively began searching for solutions. Kerry of skinandtonics is a guru when it comes to research on skincare products so reading up her must-have product recommendations seemed like a no-brainer.
But that is where things started to get interesting. Google is such a devil in that it knows exactly which buttons need to be pushed, tempting you to leave the shores of ignorance behind and sail away (for hours at end) to the land of radiant wisdom.
During my initial research, I came across, the first website I landed on during my search for products that would set the oil and moisture balance right…and possibly help with my whitehead situation too. And products did I find! From Benton’s Snail Bee Essence and Aloe Propolis Gel to Skinfood’s Black Sugar Scrub Foam and CosRx’s A-Sol, I was taking baby steps towards a well-defined goal.
In my future posts, I'll jump right in to talk about the things (products and routines) that worked for me--and the ones that didn't. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

How Korean beauty filled a skincare vacuum in my life

There was a time in my life—not too long ago—when I used to not use a moisturiser or sunscreen. This wasn’t too far back in time but as recent as last year! Many people who live in humid climates will agree with me when I say that thick creamy sunscreens can make one feel greasy and leave a ghostly white cast, so my decision to not wear one was understandable. But what surprises me today is that apart from the icky, white-cast sunscreen, I completely neglected my skin. Things like ph levels, moisture barrier and dehydration were as alien to me as well…aliens!

So what changed in the past few months that now I’m sitting here typing it all out in a stream of consciousness baring my soul (and skin) for you all? What changed so much that I want to stop you in your tracks, grab your hand, make you sit down and explain why you shouldn’t be committing skin blasphemies?

K-beauty…that’s what happened!
While I credit my increasingly improving makeup skills to the ultimate makeup guru—Lisa Eldridge, popular for turning the likes of Kate Winslet, Kiera Knightley and many others into effortless beauties, my class on skincare kick started with Korean beauty or K-beauty as it’s popularly known amongst skincare aficionados.

Earlier this year, I was introduced to K-beauty but I don’t remember exactly how. It could have been a mix of Asian beauty blogs, a random Google search and/or the idea of buying a face wash—the only thing I could relate to skincare until then. But I do remember where exactly this obsession began. If you’re into K-beauty you’d probably know about and many other such websites that sell Korean beauty products worldwide. Prior to this, I was known to occasionally log in to a couple of beauty prods sites in India for the random body lotion or face pack purchase, but one toe into the K-beauty waters and I knew that I was in for a deluge!

Before I knew it, one click led to another—one review led to a few (hundred) others—skin types turned out to be as basic as the alphabet and I could see the mecca of ageless, spotless and radiant beauty beckoning me over.

So, over the next few posts, I plan to share the significant milestones that I completed in my skincare journey and I can see, looking back, that I have come a long way. This is the beginning to my skincare story and the lessons I’ve learnt and the tips that I can confidently share with you all. Stay tuned!

Monday, February 1, 2016

At the beginning

Writing the very first post for any blog is a bit awkward--much like the first day of school, first date, first day of professional life and many such firsts.

But every story has a beginning and so does this. After having blogged (on and off) for more than ten years now--I think my first blog ever was created in 2004--this is my third one. And while my first blog (no longer functional) is floating somewhere in the blogosphere as you read this, the second one is very much active.

So, coming back to this new baby. Why create another blog when you already have one up and running? The reason is a completely new passion of mine, which doesn't really fit under the description of 'the daydreamer'.


Yes, you could get a bit dreamy about skincare products or flawlessly beautiful skin, technically speaking, but this blog is not about that.

This blog is about being skincare-savvy, 'listening' to your skin, figuring out why some things in skincare and makeup work while others don't, how to make the most of what you have whether physiologically or financially, how to shop like a smart customer when it comes to skincare and makeup and then some more. To sum it up, this blog is about being a Skin Sleuth.

So, here it goes.