Younger skin – Yes, it is possible…

The last couple of posts talked about ageing, an inevitable biological process that takes place.  Whilst keeping our spirit young, I think we’d all like to defy the physical ‘assaults’ of ageing as much as possible.

The beauty industry is anti-ageing and pro-youth.  (In fact, this anti-ageing effort does more harm than good! But let’s not digress).   In the area of skincare,  I’m not sure how many products out there really work in making the skin ‘younger’, but I do think that with the right knowledge, we can take better care of our skin, which then leads to it being more able in keeping itself well.

I’m a follower/subscriber of Paula Begoun ( and I subscribe to Beautypedia and Beauty Exclusives bulletin which she uses to share her findings and opinions on all types of products in the market.  Needless to say, not everyone, particularly those in the industry, likes what she says, but she has the consumers’ interest at heart.

For those of you who aren’t sure what sort of updates Paula sends out, this is a screen capture of the latest bulletin dated 7th June 2011.

Beauty Exclusives bulletin

Her bulletin this week fits right in with what I’ve been thinking about.  I’ve extracted a section on ‘younger skin’  so that you can read it here.


Dear Paula
I have a question about the anti-aging headline on this month’s Home page: “Younger Skin, Guaranteed! We can’t change your age but we can change your skin.” I totally get the second part (actually, it’s pretty clever), but for the first part did you mean to say “Younger-Looking Skin Guaranteed”? I mean, who wouldn’t want skin that is actually younger but is that really possible? Isn’t this statement pushing things too far?

Don’t get me wrong, my skin looks great thanks to your RESIST products but I’m just not sure I buy that my skin is actually younger now. Can you please explain exactly what you mean by this?

I really look forward to a reply!

Donna, MN

Dear Donna,

My team and I have had lengthy discussions about what it means for skin to actually be younger and not just look younger. What I believe strongly is that a vast amount of research shows that using the right skin-care products and making the right lifestyle choices (healthy diet, not smoking, not tanning) can make your skin not just look younger but be younger in many ways. Here’s why:

Daily use of a well-formulated sunscreen rated SPF 15 or greater significantly reduces inflammation—a key trigger for multiple signs of aging. When inflammation is reduced, skin can behave as young skin does. Also, because sun damage causes DNA in your skin cells to mutate, when you stop sun damage you allow your skin to repair itself and stop further injury. This critical step absolutely maintains young skin and actually prevents skin from becoming older due to new sun damage that otherwise would occur.

One major result of sun damage is that the surface layers of skin become thick while the lower layers become weak and thin. Using a well-formulated AHA or BHA exfoliant (not a scrub because that can irritate and inflame skin, and that ages skin) literally removes surface layers of sun-damaged skin and increases collagen production in the lower layers. Now you can have, to some degree, your skin the way it was before sun damage occurred—and you can begin to see results overnight. Exfoliation is a key step to having skin become younger.

What else helps skin be young? Using products with no fragrance or irritants (synthetic or natural) reduces inflammation deep in the skin that causes skin’s support structures to break down, in variety of ways. For example irritation causes collagen breakdown and impairs new collagen production. Stop irritation and its resulting inflammation and you not only prevent collagen breakdown, but also allow your skin to generate new, healthy collagen. That is exactly what young skin does!

Another aspect of young skin is that it has an ample supply of antioxidants, skin-repairing substances, and cell-communicating ingredients. All of these substances combine to keep skin looking smooth, supple, radiant, and healthy and better able to fight environmental damage (especially sun damage and pollution). As we age, the cumulative damage that has taken place steadily depletes these vital components in skin. When a well-formulated skin-care product contains these ingredients, you’re giving back to your skin the substances it had when it was young, allowing it to become more like young skin.

From my perspective, after reviewing hundreds of studies over the years, all of this adds up to having skin that not only looks young but actually becomes younger. These facts, based on abundant research, are how and why I created all my skin-care systems, and, in particular, RESIST. It is the best way to have beautiful, younger skin!

(RESIST is a product range from Paula’s Choice, which is Paula Begoun’s own line of products.)


Paula’s Choice is available in Malaysia, though the range is rather limited.  Click here if you wish to find out more about it. I’ve used some of her products and find them very good.


Cleansing Oils & Creams – Are you using them right?

27th March 2011 – Additional product review of Biore Cleansing Oil added – please scroll down to the bottom.


Makeup removers are my staple. I’ve been using cleansing oil for many years and to me, it is absolutely essential as I use makeup on a daily basis. In my experience, it is the most effective in cleaning off facial makeup of all sorts – waterproof, oily and non-oily.

I’ve used many types of cleansing oils and creams over the years. In the past 6 months or so, I also started using a cleansing cream from Clarins just to try out the product. The result I get from the cleansing cream from Clarins is not bad, but I still prefer a cleansing oil. But my blogpost today isn’t a review of any specific product / brand – I’d just like to highlight the proper use of such a product.

Who should use a cleansing oil and creams?

  • If you have normal to dry skin, and you use makeup regularly, cleansing oils and creams are suitable for you. People with oily skin may find this too oily and breakouts may occur if they do not cleanse the skin well enough.
  • If you are not a makeup user, but you wear a sunscreen that is oily and/or very water resistant, you may find that an oily cleanser is better for sunscreen removal. (I remember I had to purchase a separate Shiseido cleansing oil to remove their sunscreen!)

In a previous post on cleansing, I detailed how I double-cleanse my face. Click here for the older post in a new window. The use of cleansing oil / cream is the first step.

Not all of us know the right way of using cleansing oils. Here, I’m going to explain how it’s meant to be used effectively to remove your makeup.  (Actually there are instructions on the bottle, but some may not bother to read them.)

For a start, I always use a formulated makeup-remover for eyes to remove my eye makeup. Having done that, I’ll use a cleansing oil or cleansing cream to clean off the makeup on my face.

  1. To use cleansing oil, pump sufficient amount into your palm and then apply onto DRY skin.
  2. Smooth the oil all over your face in a circular motion. By doing this, you’re allowing the oil to meld with the makeup on your face and ‘lift’ it off your skin so to speak.
  3. After you’ve smoothed it evenly over your face, wet your palms and repeat the same circular smoothing motion. Now, the water on your palms will emulsify the oil on your face, causing the oil to turn milky.  Continue with this circular smoothing motion till you have covered your entire face.
  4. Splash water on your face and wash off the emulsified oil. You can also use a washcloth to wipe it off. Here, you’ll see that the milky substance has taken on the colour of your foundation…. Ensure that you thoroughly rinse your face. You don’t want any clogged pores!
  5. After rinsing, use a foaming cleanser as the second cleanser. Squeeze out a little onto your palm and create lather in your hands (do not lather on your face).
  6. Apply the lather onto your face, smooth it all over and rinse it off thoroughly. The foaming cleanser serves to clean off the oil residue on your face.
  7. After rinsing, dab your face dry (don’t wipe and pull vigorously! Be gentle to your face :p).
  8. Use a toner:  Make sure you finish the cleansing process with a toner to regain the right pH balance. The process of cleansing removes your acid mantle necessary for the protection of your skin, and a toner is formulated to regain that balance as well as removing the last traces of makeup.

The key to using cleansing oil is applying it on DRY skin. Putting cleansing oil on a cotton pad or applying the oil on wet skin are not only wasteful, but also ineffective.  Hope this blog helps clarify the use of this product.

For some pictorial explanation…..

Cleansing oil on lipstick on dry skin (do NOT add water!)

Mixing the oil with the lipstick..... (no water added)

Water has been applied to the oil-lipstick mix. See how it has emulsified. Rinse off.

27th March 2011 –

I bought myself a bottle of Biore Cleansing Oil and started using it yesterday.

It is necessary for me to write about this because this is the first time that I’m using a cleansing oil that can be used WET, as well as dry.  If you have read what I’ve written above, you are aware that most cleansing oils require application on DRY skin, but Biore’s Cleansing Oil is different.  I have seen others that can be used wet but never tried them.

My review:  A pleasant apple fragrance that’s not overpowering.  Doesn’t emulsify in water (the label says so as well) so it leaves a slightly oily feel on the face after washing.  Cleansing ability is good and 150ml for RM19.50 (discounted price at Guardian), it is a good buy.

Ways to reduce or prevent acne breakouts

How is acne formed?

Skin cells are constantly replacing themselves. As they age and die, they get pushed up to the skin’s surface (the epidermis) where they flatten out. Once on the surface, they join other dead skin cells and form a protective layer that helps protect us from bacteria and viruses.

We have hair follicles all over our skin and inside them, we find small glands (sebaceous glands) that produce ‘oil’ called ‘sebum. This oil mixes with skin cells in the follicle and joins them on the journey outward. But when there’s too much sebum, too many dead skin cells or something on the surface that blocks their exit from the follicle, a blockage can occur.  Add the presence of bacteria to the equation, you get breakouts.

Click on the picture to link you to an informative site on acne concerns.


How to prevent acne?

Each one of us is different. And if there were a simple way to get rid of acne, no one would suffer from it.  However, there are some steps you can take to make things better.

  1. Keep your hands off your face. – Our hands are full of dirt we can’t see so don’t pick at your zits!
  2. Wash your face twice a day. A gentle and thorough wash is one of the simplest and most effective ways to prevent breakouts. It helps clean away grime and grease build up, makeup, residue from pollutants and other things that we can’t see :p  Avoid scrubbing your face (you’ll only aggravate any acne you might have), and use a water-soluble cleanser.  If you wear makeup, thorough removal of makeup is required.
  3. Sweat it out. – Sweating helps clear out your pores, pushing those dead skin cells to the surface where they can’t cause as much trouble.
  4. Shower. Showering cleans away dead cells and other debris on your body, removing any substances that can cause blockage.
  5. Use benzoyl peroxide or other topical acne solutions. Acne formulations containing benzoyl peroxide in gel or cream form can help control breakouts.  Benzoyl peroxide kills the P. acnes bacteria that cause inflammation in ablocked pore. Results may take about three weeks.  But do be aware that benzoyl peroxide can cause allergic reactions.
  6. Use chemical exfoliants like salicylic acid and BHA. Using a chemical exfoliant helps to shed dead cells on the surface, which tend removes blockages to your pores.  Chemical exfoliants are different from scrubs. They come in gel or cream forms, which you apply nightly as part of your regular skin care routine.   (Click here to see my post on exfoliating. / Click here to Paula’s Choice website to watch a video on Why You Need Exfoliants / Choosing the Right Exfoliant.)

    Beta Hydroxy Acid - chemical exfoliant

    Alternatively try exfoliating pads. Get them in salicylic acid (BHA) which is oil-soluble, but those who are allergic to aspirin should avoid this.

    Exfoliating Pads

  7. Check your makeup and your brushes. Makeup clogs pores.  To make sure you don’t make it worse, use makeup that’s oil-free and non-comedogenic.  Most importantly, a good removal regime must be adhered to.  Wash your makeup brushes with shampoo regularly in order to remove dirt and grime.  And sanitizing them with brush cleaners in between uses also help.  I use Stage Cosmetic’s “Keep It Clean Brush Cleaner”.  For RM25, it’s really a good buy.
  8. Manage stress. Hormonal activity is a reason for acne. Stress can increase stress hormones that cause your skin to produce more sebum, which block pores when mixed with dead cells and debris.

Sunblock – What to expect and How much is enough

What’s important to me when I choose my sunblock:

  1. Good UVA & UVB protection
  2. No fragrance
  3. Non-oily
  4. Not tinted
  5. Cheap enough to finish 50g in 3-4 weeks


I remember being told by a sales assistant at a cosmetics counter that 5 ‘dots’ of sunblock the amount of liquid foundation would be sufficient for my face.  (The 5 positions of the ‘dots’ she referred to are on the forehead, at the tip of the nose, on the cheekbones and on the chin.)

Really that’s not enough protection for anyone’s face.  Well, the sunblock she was selling cost a lot of money so I guessed she needed to convince me that the little amount I paid for could last a long time!

If you’ve read the link on a picture I posted in my article on sunblock, you’d have seen a suggestion of how much sunblock you should use for various parts of your body.

For my face, I squeeze out a blob of sunscreen of 1-inch diameter – about 1 teaspoon and  smear the product on my face before lightly patting it in.  I avoid the eye area because sunblock can get into the eyes and irritate them.

For the amount of sunscreen I use, I’m careful in selecting the product that’s right for me.  Some products are too oily or too white.  The product I’m using now is Key-Sun Clear Zinke.  It does what I expect in a sunblock :p

Something to bear in mind when you use sunscreen together with other products with SPF.

Sunblock SPF50 and Foundation SPF 25 does NOT equal SPF 75. It’s just SPF 50 at the most (provided you apply enough.)

  • SPF ratings refer only to the protection from UVB radiation.  A rating of SPF 15 means you can stay out in the sun for 15 times longer without burning.
  • Eg. Without sunblock – you get burned in 15 mins under the sun; with sunblock of SPF 15, you can stay out 15 mins x 15 = 3 ¾ hrs

PA+ / ++ / +++  are ratings referring to protection from UVA protection.  These ratings are seen in Japanese sunscreen products.

  • In other countries and continents, other ratings may be used.
  • For a product to offer UVA protection, these ingredients must be present:
  • Titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, avobenzone, tinosorb, ecamsule (Meroxyl).

Look out for products that have the ingredients above to ensure that you’re protected from both UVB and UVA rays.


  • Make sure you wear sunscreen under your makeup.  Unless you lather on your foundation thickly, you’re unlikely to get good sun protection from it.
  • Eye products with sunscreen are available from certain product lines like Shiseido, but like many products on specific areas, they cost a lot more.  I’d usually use my foundation or concealer with SPF for the eye area.
  • You should put sunscreen on your neck too.  Find a product that goes on clear so that it doesn’t settle into the white lines in your neck after you perspire.  Ditto for products you apply on your arm.

Sunblock – an essential anti-aging skincare item

Take it from me – sunblock has got to be THE skincare product you use if you use nothing else!  If I’d had a chance to look into the ‘crystal ball’ when I was a teen and see what my skin would look like in 20 years’ time, I would’ve taken sun damage warnings more seriously.  But really, when one is an invincible teen, does anything that requires spending extra money, time and effort mean anything?  Nah….. I guess not, but it doesn’t change the fact that if you don’t start doing something about protecting your skin from the sun, you’re very likely going to wish you had 20 years down the line.

Some weeks ago I put up a post on the effects of various types of environmental assaults on our skin.   Click HERE to have a read.

My pigment spots

Just above you see a very unflattering picture of my spots.  Most people tell me they are fine, but I have to live with them and see them ‘grow’.  And they bother me.  A lot.

I had fair, normal skin up till my late 20s before freckles became larger spots.  By the time I started skin care it was already 20 years too late.

Like many people with my skin type, my major skin concerns at my age are dryness and hyperpigmentation caused by sun damage in my youth.

I truly believe that my skincare regime in the past decade or so has helped to prevent my skin from being damaged further.   That also means that had I done more earlier, my skin condition could’ve been better.

To everyone who wants to maintain good skin: A sunblock of SPF 30 and above is a must.

Sun damage is the most significant cause of wrinkling, skin aging and skin cancers….. if you don’t already know.  The culprits are the sun’s UV rays:


  • Affects the outer layer of the skin – causes sunburn
  • Most intense between 10am and 2pm
  • UVA rays reach the earth in large amounts and causes skin tanning response.
  • Major contributor to skin damage. Reaches deeper layer of the skin.
  • Free-radical damage occurs.
  • Causes the breakdown of the skin’s cellular structure.
Use sunblock religiously.  For a sunblock to effectively block out UVA & UVB, look for the following ingredients:
titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, avobenzone, Tinosorb or ecamsule (Mexoryl)

In fact, sunblock doesn’t block out UV completely.  See the list below for the maximum amount of protection you get from your sunblock.

  • SPF 2 :  50% UV protection
  • SPF 4 :  70% UV protection
  • SPF 8 :  88% UV protection
  • SPF 15:  94% UV protection
  • SPF 30 : 97% UV protection
  • SPF 50 : 98% UV protection
  • SPF 70 : 98% UV protection

And click on the picture below to see a suggestion on how much sunblock should be  applied on various parts of the body using the teaspoon rule.


Since my last write-up on eye-creams, I’ve been busy with a few projects, which explains my long absence in writing.  Incidentally, just today I saw a beauty tip on using eye creams: – Avoid using a rich eye cream or moisturiser under makeup as it can cause your concealer and foundation around your eye area to slide into lines, making them more obvious.  I think it’s a tip worth noting.  If you’ve missed the article on eye creams, click here.

The article today is on facial masks.  Masks have been a rage here the last few years, made popular by various Taiwan talk shows on cable TV and advertisements.

What do facial masks do?
They are said to deliver special ingredients to our skin.  Like treatment products, they claim to work on all types of concerns – such as pigmentation, lack of hydration, oiliness, lines and wrinkles.

In the past, most mask treatments were performed as part of a visit to a facialist, but now they’ve become part of a regular home skincare regime, thanks to affordable masks available in all types of health care outlets.

How do I choose a suitable one?
It all depends on your skin type and concern.  It’s easy to choose the right one for your skin and concern (the label tells you)
You might have come across facial masks in various forms:  powder, cream, gel, sheet, and wonder what the differences are.

  • Cream: more emollient, usually for drier skin
  • Powdered (usually used by beauticians): mixed with cosmetic liquids to form a paste, for all types of skin
  • Gels: dries up after application usually, can be for all types of skin
  • Sheet (‘paper masks’): for all types of skin, convenience packs

Cream and powdered ones need to be washed off – thus making them a rather inconvenient option. Gels are slightly better, as they are often peeled off when they dry on your skin.  Sheet masks are probably the most popular (think SKII and ‘My Beauty Diary’).  They are simply lifted off; and you don’t need to wash your face after that if you so choose.

Do masks deliver what they promise?

It is hard to tell if facial masks do everything that they are claimed to do.  Since we’re advised to use masks only once or twice a week, they probably don’t do as much as we hope.  But it doesn’t mean that they’re entirely useless.  Oily skin can benefit from a mask with oil-absorbing properties; while dry skin will find an emollient mask soothing and relaxing.  I’d say that regular use of a safe and suitable product can benefit the skin rather than not using anything.

“The longer I leave the mask on my face, the better it is?”

Masks are left on the skin for about 10-20 mins usually.  Always remove a sheet mask after the recommended time.  Any longer than that, the sheet mask might actually start removing moisture from your skin.  So, leaving it LONGER ISN’T BETTER!

When do I use a facial mask?

After toning.

  1. Cleanse
  2. Tone
  3. Mask
  4. Treat
  5. Moisturise

A few notes about masks:

Dead cells soften and are removed when the mask is washed off.  That explains why the skin looks fairer right after the use of a facial mask.  In such cases, it’s often not the effect of a whitening agent.

As with any other product, watch out for irritants that cause a tingling or burning sensation.  If you have sensitive skin, it’s best to avoid anything that has alcohol, fragrance or any ‘minty’ feel to it.

Well, some people make their own masks – google some homemade recipes that are both yummy and good for your skin! :p

I do think you girls should check out this Chocolate Facial Mask Recipe. Tell me what you think!

Eye Creams

Have you ever heard that the skin around the eye area is more delicate than other parts of the face?   I guess it is.  I don’t know actually.  And I don’t think I’ll ever get to find that out for myself for sure.   But we all know for a fact that older people get lines around the eyes so the only logical thing to do is to apply some sort of cream to ‘reduce’ dryness and ‘remove’ the wrinkles.  And since there are eye-creams around, most of us just get some and apply them around our eyes, where they’re supposed to go.

What are your concerns?  Eye bags? Dark Circles? Lines? All of the above?

If you’ve done some shopping for skincare products, you’ll notice that next to serums, eye-creams cost the most.  I still haven’t figured out why that’s the case.  For some reason, they’re packed with more (?) good ingredients that promise sensational results.

I have dark circles (partly hereditary) and lines (from smiling, laughing & ageing).  I’ve used many eye-creams and found none of them dealt with my concerns.  As a result, I’ve stopped using eye-creams for about half a year and switched to using my regular moisturiser instead.  All I can say is that eye-creams and moisturisers are the same to me.

The skin around my eyes are similar in texture to the skin all over my face.  Therefore, a good face moisturiser does the same thing for my eyes.   If you’re like me, perhaps it’s time to save on eye-creams!

How I apply moisturiser / eye-cream around my eyes.

I pick up some product with my ring finger and lightly massage it into the skin around my eye area in small circles until it dries up or gets absorbed.  The massage movement is on the surface of your skin and should be VERY light – it shouldn’t pull the skin.  Do the same around the entire eye and repeat with the other eye.

Ways to prevent crows feet.

Apart from applying some moisturiser around your eyes. I don’t know if there is any way to prevent something natural that’s bound to happen more in some people than others.  Many of the lines are expression lines, and if you laugh and smile a lot, you’d probably get more crows feet!  But I’d certainly not want to laugh or smile less, would you?

What do you think?  Have you found an eye-cream that works for you? What are your concerns?  Would love to hear your experiences with eye-creams.