Everyone says that living in Japan will give one clear skin. Perhaps it is their diet, or their traditional onsen soaking habits, for indeed, I don’t quite recall seeing any Japanese woman with bad skin. Almost every single one of them seemed to have such flawless, glowy skin. And yet, I had been battling with troubled, acne-prone skin ever since I moved to Japan. Even upon returning to Singapore, my skin complications didn’t abate. It had gone too far into the deep end.
What caused my skin breakout?
In my case, I believe it to be due to the weather. Singapore is a country without seasons. It is either sunny or rainy everyday, with a thick swathe of humidity blanketing over everyone, weighing down on people’s very souls. Yet, it is perhaps precisely this humidity that gave me much-needed moisture to my dehydrated skin, and also gave me the illusion that I had normal skin type.
Every so often when I visited a beautician they had commented to me, “You have really dehydrated skin.” I didn’t think much of it, for I couldn’t see the problem. Little did I know, the problem was lurking deep within, only waiting for an opportune moment to burst.
And burst into an angry pimple it did. Or rather, many pimples. It all started after about a year in Japan, having experienced the changing seasons and incredibly dry weathers of winter and spring.
My once clear face was inundated with red bumps, and when I had a facial in Japan, I was reminded again of the fact that I have dehydrated skin, and that was exactly what caused the breakout. The ghastly dry seasons have sucked all moisture from my skin, causing oil to build up to make up for the missing water. And with the excess oil, comes oily acne.
Double Whammy of Dry Skin with Acne
I’d resorted to many means, and while facials might be helpful, they also cost pretty dear. So I started researching more on adult acne home treatments, and bought bottles and bottles of anti-acne stuff that only caused more irritation to my parched skin.
The biggest hurdle is that dehydrated acne-prone skin needs two remedies to simultaneously tackle two very contrasting conditions. Hydrating remedies and anti-acne remedies that are gentle on skin. There are many anti-acne products in the market that are too harsh on dehydrated skin. All of those products are probably targetted at users with oily skin, which makes things really difficult for people with dehydrated skin prone to breakouts.
I randomly chanced upon The Ordinary products while shopping online one day, and decided to buy them after reading some rave reviews (I’m a sucker for reviews and never buy anything before reading reviews).
Double Combo: Anti-inflammatory and Hydrating
The two items I decided on are Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% for my acne, and 100% Plant-derived Squalane for hydration. And they have now become my holy grail. I never go without them morning and night. And while the bottles may look very small, they are very long-lasting. I have been using them for about four months now and I am only halfway through. That’s because each application only requires a few drops.
Niacinamide, a form of Vitamin B3, is scientifically proven to have anti-inflammatory properties which reduces acne and the appearance of skin blemishes, and is also gentler on the skin as compared to other acne treatments, hence it is ideal for people with dry or sensitive skin. Zinc is also said to reduce inflammation and boost collagen production which promotes skin healing.
Why squalane instead of hyaluronic acid, you ask? Firstly, I decided against using Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 because I am already using hyaluronic acid products. Secondly, squalane is touted to have multiple benefits of being non-comedogenic, anti-inflammatory, hydrating, and filled with antioxidants. And lastly, I have always wanted to step up my beauty regime by using facial oil and figured it was finally the time to give it a try.
What are the steps to using the serums?
After using my toner, I place a few drops of Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% on my palm which I then spread all over my face. Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% comes out from the applicator rather thickly, the liquid is viscous and smells faintly like glue. Yep, I know, not the best scent, but still bearable.
After a few months (Yes, patience is the key) of use, my acne is finally under control and I only get the odd hormonal pimple every now and then. The product is totally gentle on my skin, unlike some other stuff I’d used which caused the problem areas to flake.
While the Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% serum may leave the skin feeling a tad tacky after application, the stick after-feeling is countered by applying the 100% Plant-derived Squalane immediately after. The fragrance-free oil is luscious and spreads like silky nectar on the skin. Despite it being an oil-based product, it is instantly absorbed into my skin and didn’t feel greasy after application.
When I first started using the 100% Plant-derived Squalane, I must admit, I was rather apprehensive, for it is oil after all, and no matter how many beauty blogs I ingest, it just seemed counterintuitive to use oil on acne-prone skin. But I was glad I took the leap of faith, and now I finally have my clear skin back.