DIY Masks for Acne Scars

Acne scars are more bothersome than pimples! At least the most humongous pimples go away after a couple of days if you leave them alone, but acne scars can stay up to several months! Acne scars can be concealed, but if not done well, especially when they’re dark and require lots of coverage, your multiple layers of make-up could draw more attention to your blemished visage.

Here are some tried and tested home remedies by myself and my friends which have lightening effects or help to speed up the process of skin cell renewal so that your scars take a shorter time than usual to fade out! Do be reminded that the results for home remedies vary for everyone! Some remedies don’t work for me while others work particularly well. You can try a few to see which works for you, but don’t use more than recommended. Also, don’t try to use several different types simultaneously on a regular basis. You wouldn’t be able to monitor its effectiveness, and more importantly, it may be too much for your skin to bear.

Pearl Powder and Egg White

Pearl Powder and Egg White soothe irritated skin and have lightening purposes. Mix egg white from an egg and a pinch of pearl powder so that the mixture becomes a gooey mask that you can apply on your face. It helps to smoothen skin and lighten scars.

Use this up to twice a week.

Seaweed Mask

Stir 20g of seaweed (dried ones from the supermarket, not seaweed snacks!) into clean water (boiled and cooled till mildly warm). Wait for the seaweed to expand so that the little flakes are stirred evenly with the water. Then take up the wet seaweed and cover your clean face with it. Do this when you’re lying down because you’re obviously going to have issues doing it standing up. After 10 minutes, wash off the seaweed with clean water and apply your regular moisturizer and creams that you use after the toner.

Use this twice a day.

Aspirin mask

This is actually quite a popular home remedy. Some people swear by it while some claim it doesn’t work. Again, this is rather subjective and dependent on many factors such as your skin type.

Pound 5 – 6 aspirin tablets into powder. Add a ladle of clean water and stir to mix.

For first time users who wish to test for sensitivity, apply a little of the mixture on the back of your ear.

Apply the mixture evenly on your face. Wash off after 25 minutes. As aspirin mask is quite drying, do put in more effort in keeping your skin well-moisturized at all times.

You can use this mask once or twice per week.

I have a few more remedies to recommend in my next update. Look forward to them!

To squeeze or not to squeeze?

Isn't it absolutely annoying that every time you have that important appointment to go to, those nasty red bumps make their flamboyant entrance? As the weather becomes swelteringly hot, our oil glands become more active and the zits come out to play. Most of us are tempted to pop them, but logic prohibits it as squeezing pimples inappropriately will leave scars. However, this does not apply to all pimples. Some pimples can be squeezed and gotten rid of. It all depends on where they are and their stage of formation.

Danger triangle of the face

In this context, the ‘danger triangle’ refers to the point from the top of your nose (forehead where your nose bridge reaches) to the 2 corners of your mouth. Improper squeezing of pimples causes infection, and germs from infections in this area may pass into your skull. For more details pertaining to this, you may read up on it on wikipedia (

Furthermore, infection of pimples tends to be more serious in this zone. Notice how when you squeeze that zit on your nose, it becomes even redder and more obvious and redder than ever? The pimple may even develop into a cyst, which is really the last thing you’d want because cysts are more persistent and horrible-looking than pimples. If you absolutely must get that pimple out that very day, seek professional help from a dermatologist or skin doctor.

Stage of formation

You should only remove pimples that are ‘ripe’. Ripe pimples are pimples with that whitish/yellowish little ball of pus on its tip. Once you get the pus out, the pimple will eventually deflate and go away.

Newly formed, red pimples should be left well alone.

You can also get rid of the pimple if it is in its initial stage in the form of a black or white head.
Of course, simply knowing when pimples can be squeezed is not enough. You still need to squeeze it using appropriate techniques and hygienic methods, or you will still end up with an infection and even more pimples consequently.

I’ll discuss the correct method of squeezing pimples in my next post!

Recommended products with sun protection

Estee Lauder Daywear Plus Lotion

This is a multi-purpose beauty cream that has moisturizing purposes, a decent SPF of 30 and though not explicitly mentioned in the product description, has mild concealing purposes too. Its creamy base allows it to make shallow blemishes less conspicuous. It does not as refreshing on the skin as its fresh mint green appearance implies, but it doesn’t feel oily either. Its oil controlling properties makes it ideal for office ladies who face the computer all day long.

Guerlain Perfect White C Protective Brightening Fluid SPF 40 PA+++

I adore this product! It feels refreshing to the touch and is easily absorbed by the skin. Apart from being a sunscreen with a relatively high SPF, it is also a whitening product and make-up base. I’ve used this like a foundation for light make up. It covers up faint scars effectively and makes my face look brighter.

Clinique : Derma White Super City Block SPF 40

It feels a bit too oily and creamy for my liking, but some Taiwanese celebrities claim that they swear by it in their beauty guides. Apparently, its sunscreen feature is pretty good. My friend uses it whenever she goes to the beach and she’s never gotten sunburnt (of course, self-control and time management are also very important aspects at sunburn prevention).

Lancome UV Expert Protective Make-Up Base Anti-Redness SPF 20

The SPF is rather low for this, so it would be preferable to use this indoors. However, I like its corrective feature; it does conceal redness well and serves as a make-up base. However, I find it insufficiently moisturizing, so it’s best applied over a layer of moisturizer.

Watch out for the sun! III

Has the sun already left its brown footprints on your visage? Don't give in to gloom yet. There are solutions

I use sunscreen and whitening products religiously. Why are my dark spots increasing instead of decreasing?
UV rays are still able to get into your eyes, causing damage to the cells in your eyes. The brain reacts by instructing the creation of more dark pigmentation. Hence, your skin still gets dark spots even if you took great pains to protect it. Your eyes need to be protected from UV rays too. Choose spectacles or contact lenses with UV ray protection.

Apart from using sunscreens and whitening products, can I improve my skin through my diet?
Fruits are rich in vitamins and helps the skin to get rid of toxics. Kiwi fruits are rich in vitamin C. It helps to suppress the formation of dark pigmentation and reduces dullness in skin. Soyabean milk has good whitening properties. According to a research done in Japan, drinking soya bean milk daily contributes to smooth skin and helps reduce scarring.

After a day at the beach, I carry out an intensive whitening regime after my skin no longer hurts from the sun. But even though I’m using products with quick whitening effect, why does my skin still end up tanned?
When skin is exposed to UV rays, it starts turning red after 4 to 5 hours. After about 24 hours, the intensity of the redness reaches its peak. After 3 to 4 days, black pigmentation is produced and skin gradually turns brown. It is therefore best to carry out your intense whitening programme within 3 days (72 days) before the skin turns dark. It seems that quite a fair number of people only start their intense whitening treatments when their skin is no longer peeling, or when they notice their skins have become darker, but it would be too late by then. Dark spots and freckles are stubborn, so it’s best to start your whitening treatments before dark pigmentation is released. Sunburnt skin shouldn't hurt much after 1 or 2 days, but go easy on the products and use products that are mild on the skin if you have sensitive skin.

Isn’t melanin (dark pigmentation) supposed to protect our skin? By reducing dark pigmentation with whitening products, are we harming our skin instead?
Dark pigmentation is produced to absorb the cancerous UV rays, hence protecting our skin from harm. Whitening products suppress the activity of melanin enzymes, but will not destroy the cells that create melanin. Upon UV ray exposure, melanin enzymes will still be activated and send the relevant signals that results in the creation of dark pigmentation. Hence, sunscreen and whitening products should both be used in your daily skincare regime.

Watch out for the sun! II

This is a continuation from the last post about sun protection! The focus of this round's questions are on sunscreen application.

If I apply sunscreen alone without make-up, must I still remove it with make-up remover?
The compositions of sunscreen are rather similar to that of make-up bases, and they can only be thoroughly removed with a make-up remover. A water-based eye-remover is more appropriate for removing sunscreens.

If my make-up has SPF properties, do I still need to apply sunscreen?
Indeed, plenty of make-up bases have relatively high SPF properties, but make-up wears off throughout the day and if you don’t touch up sufficiently, you’re exposing your bare skin to UV rays at various times of the day. For more wholesome protection, apply sunscreen, followed by make-up at least ten minutes later.

My face always looks oily and shiny after I apply sunscreen. What can I do to prevent this?
Substances in sunscreen create a protective layer over your skin against UV rays, but this layer leaves a white cast. When sunlight falls on it, light reflects into the eyes, making your face look shiny. To avoid this, instead of rubbing the sunblock over your cheeks in circular motions, gently pat it in an upward movement, towards your ear and away from your nose, such that substances contributing to the white cast do not remain dead centre on your cheeks but are positioned at angles instead, thus reflecting the light away from your cheeks. If you aren’t going to the beach or won’t be outdoors for long, you can choose a lighter, less oily sunscreen with lower SPF.

Watch out for the sun!

Summer’s here with the hot sun in tow! The heat on my skin’s a constant painful reminder of the atrocities of UV rays. I’m sure most of you must be feeling the same way!

There are all sorts of sunscreens out in the market, but sun protection is a complicated subject matter, given the number of queries and misconceptions users have about it. I’ll address the common ones as best as I can!

First off, let's begin with the basics!

Does using a sunblock with SPF30 prolong amount of time taken for UV rays to affect skin by 30 times?
Answer: SPF, or Sun Protection factor, has no direct relation to time. The theory of SPF products delaying UV rays from penetrating skin is very misleading as it implies that SPF products act as an absolute shield between your skin and the UV rays for a certain period of time, which isn’t true. It is quite impossible to reduce the effect that the UV rays have on your skin to 0. A more accurate interpretation would be applying products with SPF30 reduces the energy from the UV rays that comes into contact with your skin to 1/30 in comparison to not applying any at all.

If I avoid exposure to the sun as much as I can, can I still get sufficient vitamin D?
We now have a wide variety of food products and supplements, so many people tend to assume that it’s possible to obtain vitamin D through dietary means. However, exposure to sunlight is a more efficient means of getting Vitamin D as the body produces it when sunlight enters through our skin. But there’s no need to sunbathe on purpose, especially since UV rays are harmful. Instead, you can just sunbathe your hands daily (stick them out of your window!) for 5 to 10 minutes. The cuticle layer on our palms is thicker than that on other parts of the body, so our palms are less likely to develop brown spots.

I have inborn freckles. Will UV ray exposure cause them to darken?
Yes they will. Inborn freckles are a little different from freckles that develop later on in your life. As you grow up, the freckles get darker, but when you’ve hit 20, the freckles tend to start fading. UV rays are capable of aggravating the darkening process, and causing faded freckles to come back again. It’s best to start using sunscreen as early in your life.

What quick solutions are there for sunburnt skin?
This is a regrettably common question. The best solution is of course to prevent yourself from staying out in the sun too much, but when you're in a holiday mood, you tend to forget all these precautions.

Since your skin has absorbed a large amount of energy from UV rays, the best solution is to bring down the temperature. Not only does bringing down the temperature rid your skin of discomfort, it will also prevent the production of pigmentation. There are many reasons for the formation of pigmentation and dark spots. One reason is the release of histamine from the skin due to exposure to UV rays. Histamine activates the production of melamine, causing more dark spots to occur. Reducing the skin’s temperature helps to prevent the release of histamine. However, do not touch your skin with the cooling material directly as it will be painful. You can wrap a wet towel over some ice cubes and place it gently over your face.

In my next post, I will venture into queries pertaining to the application of sunscreen. As always, feel free to send me your questions!

Purchasing Cosmetic Products from Overseas II

A continuation from last week's post to address enquiries about purchasing cosmetic products overseas.

“Also, would the cream used in a country where there's 4 seasons be useful in our climate?”

Although different seasons call for slightly different skin care routines, there is usually not much difference in cosmetics, certainly not in the way where you have to wear different types of clothing to adapt to the different seasons. Many of our cosmetics and skincare products are actually imported from America and European countries. They aren't tailor-made for us and the very same product lines are used by their own people too.

There are some types of cosmetics with altered properties to suit a particular season. For example, some liquid foundations and lip balm boast greater moisturizing properties for the dry winter. Another issue, not so much pertaining to skin care, is that seasonal make-up is often fashionable in countries with 4 seasons so if you visit a country in the Autumn for example, you may find that the shades of the make-up carried in stores are geared towards Autumn colours.

But few cosmetic products are season-specific. Examples of season-specific products would be moisturizing cream and lip balm with extra moisturizing properties that you may find in winter-gear stores like Winter Wear. Even then, these do not absolutely have to be used only in winter. I’m still using my left over extra-moisturizing lip balm and body cream from my winter trip to the US last December. Apart from wasting its richness and moisturizing properties (better than wasting the entire product anyway), I’m not experiencing any problems or side-effects.

However, do bear in mind that some extra-moisturizing face creams are known to cause breakouts on people with oily or acne-prone skin. Then again, this isn’t limited to seasonal beauty products. The key to buying effective beauty products is to understand your skin type and choose products with properties that suit your needs, never mind where they’re from!

Purchasing Cosmetic Products from Overseas

A reader asked me some good questions about getting cosmetic products from overseas, so I’ll respond here because I believe these are common dilemmas people face with getting cosmetics outside the country.

“May I ask if you think it wise to buy creams from abroad, because when you run out of stocks, you have no choice but to look for other brands unless you've someone to help replenish your supply?”

I’ve been shipping in cosmetic products from overseas for years. Back then, facial products specially designed for Asian skin were rarities and I often preferred to buy products from Taiwan and Korea. Now, although more Western brands are boasting product lines specially designed for Asians, online shopping has been so deeply inculcated in my lifestyle that it’s habitual for me. Besides, it's an extra avenue for me to try new products!

Most cosmetic lines from reputable brands have their own online storefronts these days. As long as you own a widely accepted debit card or credit card that you can use to do online payments, it’s easy to get cosmetic products from abroad. But even if you don’t have a card or find the shipping fees hefty, not all is lost.

There’s a wonderful concept called online spreeing (also known as ‘group order’ in other countries) which I depend on for most of my overseas shopping ventures. Online spreeing came into existence in Singapore a good couple of years, probably due to demand by people like me lol. For those who are not in the know, let me provide a brief explanation. Online spreeing is carried out by one person, known as a spree organizer, on behalf of a group of participating shoppers who wish to buy items from the same online store. The organizer places a combined order and the orders are shipped to him alone instead of to each individual. The lowered shipping fees are split among the participants and everyone saves some money!

Here’s a list of online spree communities that I frequently spree with. You can visit them to learn in detail how spreeing is conducted and what sort of products are usually spreeed for:

I also enjoy browsing sprees for products that I’ve not used before. It helps me learn about new products. Also, the response and reviews of spree participants help me to gauge whether a product is popular and worth my trying. So if you’re in love with a certain product that you got overseas but ran out of stock, do check out these spree sites!

However, there are cases where the product is so obscure or new that it cannot be bought online, or it contains prohibited materials that cannot be shipped in (always check with customs the eligibility of your shipment before placing your order, especially large shipments). In which case, you will just have to switch to another brand.

Personally, I enjoy trying new products. I believe it’s the only way for me to keep discovering brands and products that may suit my skin better. Some people like to stick to the same brand or product that works for them and are wary of the idea of switching brands. That’s up to individual preferences, but I’d just like to say that one shouldn’t avoid a particular product just because it’s difficult to access. You could always switch back to a previous brand you’ve been using and come back to it again when you get hold of it.

I know some people have complained that their skin reacts adversely to new products. The trick is to always choose the type of product that suits your skin type. Usually, there should be clear indications on the packaging, the skin type it is suitable for understand the ingredients it contains. That’s why I prefer getting products whose instructions and information are written in a language that I understand. However, if you have sensitive skin or skin conditions that can only tolerate special cosmetic products, it is advisable to avoid hard-to-obtain products that you’re going to change around often.

Unlike skincare products, where length of usage sometimes determines the results, cosmetic products are generally temporal means to cover up flaws and enhance features. The committment factor is less significant. Therefore, availability and accessibility should not be a hindrance.

Another thing that online shoppers should be wary about is the authenticity of the product. Do not be swayed by an expensive brand that is cheaply listed. You could be getting an imitation that doesn't work or worst, damages your skin. To be on the safe side, I'd avoid purchasing cosmetics on sites like Ebay, where there is little quality control. Always purchase from the brand's online store or reputable online beauty product portals to avoid getting scammed!

Well Charlotte, I hope this was helpful to you. I'll respond to the other question in my next entry!

Nanoce Blemish Balm Moist Cream

My dear readers, do excuse me for my lack of updates. I was in the land of the rising sun last week. Japan is truly a beauty haven! Every girl in sight was well-dressed, their trendy outfits complete with immaculate make-up and perfect hairdos with not a strand out of place. I’ve read that Japanese girls rarely go out without make-up. From my observations, this statement is definitely true. Even the cashiers at convenient stores have spotless skin!

Given the high consumer demand for cosmetic products, there’s such a huge assortment of domestic cosmetics and brands in Japan, many which I have not heard of, that I had no idea what to get! Besides, I don’t like the idea of using cosmetics whose instructions I can’t read!

However, I did purchase a tube of Blemish Balm Moist Cream by the brand Nanoce. Blemish Balm is a kind of comprehensive skin care and beauty cream that supposedly gives your skin coverage while protecting your skin with sunblock and moisturizing properties. I saw it in a shop called RanKing RanQueen inside Shibuya Station. It sells a variety of items ranging from food to beauty products, but its unique selling point is that it sells the top 10 most popular brands and items among Tokyoites for each product type. Nanoce BB Moist Cream was ranked first among the other ten brands of BB Creams sold in the store. Since my hands were itching from not having bought any Japanese cosmetic products, I decided to buy it, and I’m glad I did!

Shade-wise, I’d say it’s similar to shade 2 of your typical liquid foundation. If you have typically fair Asian skin, it should blend well enough with your skin tone. One issue I have with BB Creams is that it always comes in one skin tone, so it’s really difficult to find a brand with a shade that’s perfectly complimentary. So don’t forget to apply BB cream to your neck too, or you’ll end up with different skin tones for your neck and face, no matter how close the shade is to your skin!

The texture is watery and cool to the touch, so it feels comfortable and not at all suffocating on the pores. For people with oily skin, clogged pores and acne problems, this is certainly kinder on your skin in comparison to liquid foundation or thicker creams. You may however have to wait a few minutes before you apply your loose powder or finishing powder because it takes awhile to dry. If you have oily skin, applying loose powder over the BB cream helps to control shine.

The cream gives relatively good coverage for mild redness, freckles and faint scars but everything else shows up faintly. Covering moles and birth marks is certainly out of question. If you’re looking for complete cover-ups and flawless complexions, you’d still need a good powder foundation over your BB cream.

This BB Cream cost 1890 Yen, which is about 30 SGD. That’s a decent price for BB creams.
My only misgiving of this product is its strong medicinal scent. It can be remedied by a little perfume, but it a little worrying to not be able to identify the source of the smell. For anyone who’s interested to get this product, it seems that the only place you can get it from outside Japan is on