The world of sunscreens is indeed a confusing one! Walk into any pharmacy or supermarket and you will be confronted with terms such as ‘SPF’, ‘PA’, ‘broad-spectrum UV protection’, ‘water-resistant’. Flip over the bottle and you will see a myriad of unpronounceable sunscreen ingredients.
Here are my tips on what to look out for when choosing a sunscreen:
1.Broad spectrum protection is a must
Sunscreens are meant to protect our skin against the harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun. Broad spectrum means that the sunscreen has proven protection against both UVA and UVB – the two most common UV rays reaching the surface of our planet.
2.Choose your Sun Protection Factor (SPF) based on your needs
The SPF rating tells us how effective the sunscreen is at preventing us from burning. For example, let’s say you get a sunburn after 10 minutes without any sunscreen, a sunscreen with a SPF 15 rating will protect you 15 times longer. That means, with that sunscreen, you can stay in the sun for 150 minutes before burning.
Logically, a higher SPF means a longer protection. But do remember that we perspire and sunscreens do come off. Therefore, a higher SPF may not be as protective as we think it is. It’s more important to reapply sunscreen after 2 hours especially when we perspire or get wet.
Many international regulatory bodies do not allow sunscreen manufacturers to claim beyond SPF 50.
In my opinion, for daily use with most of the day spent indoors, SPF 30 is usually sufficient. If you are planning to play outdoor sports or spend the day outside, then go with SPF 50. But always remember to reapply!
3.Water resistant sunscreens – only if you are going into the water
It’s definitely worth getting a water-resistant sunscreen if you are going for a swim or if you are going to perspire a lot. The US Food and Drug Administration specifies that water-resistant sunscreens must remain effective for 40 minutes while swimming.
The payoff for a water-resistant sunscreen is that they tend to be thicker and oilier which may not be suitable for daily use.
4.Physical versus chemical ingredients
Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are fine powders that ‘physically’ blocks or reflects the harmful UV rays. Common chemical sunscreen ingredients include the benzophenones (oxybenzone) and the cinnamates (
So, which one should you choose? Commercially, most sunscreen brands combine both types of ingredients. The Skin Pharmacy does have a separate sunscreen using physical ingredient (the Natural Sunscreen range) and chemical ingredients (Silky Smooth Sunscreen range)
To summarise, choose a sunscreen which feels right for you. Pick your SPF based on your lifestyle and needs. And to make your sunscreen work best for you, apply the appropriate amount and reapply when needed. And don’t forgot your hat and shades too for that extra protection!
The answer is simple – nothing really! Sorry to disappoint all the expectant mums and those like yours truly who have battle scars from our joys of motherhood.
But before we throw the baby out with the bath water (metaphorically speaking of course), let us de-myth what causes stretch marks and how to prevent or treat them.
What are stretch marks?
Stretch marks in pregnancy, also known medically as striae gravidarum are long narrow lines that appear as the baby grows. They commonly form around the abdomen area but can also be found around the hips, thighs, breasts and buttock areas. The usually start of as indented pink lines and gradually change appearance to brown and finally white or silver streaks.
What causes stretch marks?
Believe it or not, stretching and weight gain in pregnancy are actually not the main cause of stretch marks. There are women who don’t gain much weight and yet develop stretch marks. Approximately 50-90% of women can develop stretch marks during pregnancy. So not everyone gets it either!
The main culprit is believed to be increased levels of a hormone known as glucocorticoids. High levels of these hormones prevent the formation of collagen and elastin that keep our skin firm and taut. Glucocorticoids also thin the top layer of skin, known as the epidermis, and defects appear more visible.
Microscopically, collagen and elastin fibres are broken and in a disarray. Even after pregnancy, the collagen bundles and elastin fibres are unable to fully realign back to normal.
If your mother had stretch marks during pregnancy, there is a high chance that you will as well. Genetics is a strong determinant in who develops stretch marks. You just can’t avoid some things!
Prevention & treatment
Since we can’t change our genes, it’s hard to prevent stretch marks from happening.
And as for treatment, there has not been any strong evidence-based solution yet.
Many women have tried creams with vitamin E, vitamin C, vitamin A, natural oils such as jojoba and calendula oils. Some have reported them to work, some have said they are of no use. These are all anecdotal evidence without large clinical studies to back them up.
One thing they all have in common is that these creams do moisturise the skin. And this brings us back to my basics of looking after skin – moisturise, moisturise, moisturise!
Stretched skin also tends to be dry and may even itch. Therefore, it appears logical to apply a good moisturiser around the abdomen area during pregnancy. If it makes you feel better to have one with added ingredients, then go ahead but it may not do much difference.
Post-pregnancy, applying an anti-pigmentation cream may help to blend the colour of the surrounding skin with the stretch marks so they don’t appear too obvious. Vitamin C and retinoids can also help in improving collagen formation and preventing further skin damage. But wait till baby is born before doing these treatments
Take home bites:
A recent American survey of 3000 women aged between 16-75 years old, found that women, on average, apply 16 products on their skin daily! Take a look at your own skincare cabinet and you probably won’t be surprised at this statistic.
Having great skin doesn’t necessarily need 16 products. Here is my list of the essential skincare needed in every cabinet.
These items are the backbone of good skin and should be used by everyone on a daily basis.
Removing unseen dirt and grime from our skin daily is not only about hygiene. A good performing cleanser can also remove make-up and encourage skin renewal.
Keeping the skin hydrated is the foundation of having healthy skin. Choosing the suitable type (in the form of gels, creams and lotions) is the key to finding the right balance between oils and moisture.
The role of toners is controversial – what do they really do? Most toners are formulated with astringents which leads to a skin tightening effect. This is often mistaken as a pore-closing effect which is transient.
In my view, toners help to remove the remnant cleansers through its action of being applied with a cotton pad and wiping motion. Some toners contain hydrating ingredients or skin renewal ingredients which benefit skin. Do be aware that many toners contain alcohol, a commonly used astringent, which may lead to further skin dryness or irritation.
The most potent (and probably most expensive) item in your skincare cabinet, serums are usually formulated to target deep-seated problems such as wrinkles, sagging skin or pigmentation. If you have specific skin concerns, it’s good to invest in a high-performance serum!
4. Face masks
The function of masks is often underestimated. If you are time-short and need a quick skin boost, leaving on a hydrating face mask for 20 minutes can do wonders. Depending on the type, using a mask regularly as directed can be as powerful as putting on skin serums.
Who really needs make-up when you have good skin to show off? But once in a while, it’s nice to add some colour to our face or cover some minor flaws. Primer, foundation, powder, concealer, eye make-up, blusher, lipstick – yes, these are the basics in our make-up cabinet. Do keep a look out for expiry dates as make-up can go off over time.
In 2018, the first thing I’ll be doing is to look into my own skincare cabinet, making sure I have the MUST-HAVES and SHOULD-HAVES, throwing out expired products and keeping my resolution of being diligent with my skincare!
Happy 2018 and may your year be filled with success, happiness and excellent skin!
First of all, let’s clarify what “sensitive skin” means. All skin types can experience irritation at one point – either from overusing a product, or a reaction to an ingredient. However, people with truly sensitive have impaired skin barriers. That means ingredients that are not generally considered irritants can cause a reaction.
One simple test: press your fingers across your face with light to medium pressure. Does it turn red? And do most products you try, from face washes to makeup, cause stinging or redness?
If yes, your skin is sensitive, then it is wise to avoid some strong ingredients. Don’t rely on a product label like “hypoallergenic” or “organic/natural”. Read the label!
People with sensitive skin usually have a compromised skin barrier and usually have dry skin. Sulphates are proven to strip the skin of its moisture. They act as surfactants or soap but are very drying for the skin.
Sulphates are usually found in foaming products like shampoos or cleansers. On labels, you’ll find them as sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES).
Fragrance is one of the most common skin irritants. especially for people who have allergy-prone skin, acne, eczema or rosacea. The American Contact Dermatitis Society (ACDS) actually declared it the ‘Contact Allergen of the Year” in 2007.
The 8 most common triggers are actually synthetic fragrances that help recreate a particular scent. This includes cinnamic alcohol, cinnamic aldehyde, eugenol, geraniol, alpha amyl cinnamic alcohol, and hydroxycitronellal. These are often used to mimic the smell of rose, lily of the valley, violet, clove and musk.
A product that is “fragrance free” has no additional fragrances, but you may pick up the natural scents of the ingredients used (like plant extracts or shea and cocoa butters). It is has less risk of irritating the skin because it doesn’t add extra chemicals.
Oils that are derived from petroleum (sometimes called petrochemicals or synthetic emollients) are sometimes used in moisturizers or anti-ageing products because they plump the skin to hide the appearance of wrinkles.
However, petroleum and mineral oils are “occlusive” ingredients. This means these form a film that prevents any air, water or even the beneficial ingredients in your other skincare products from being absorbed. It can also block pores.
Gentler facial oils, such as jojoba and almond oil can give the moisturizing and plumping effect without the risk for irritation and breakouts.
This is the first ingredient that anyone with sensitive skin should avoid. These are typically used in toners or makeup remover pads, because they help create a “quick dry” finish, but these can dry the skin and cause redness and stinging.
Watch out for preservatives like Methylisothiazolinone. Tests conducted by London’s St John’s Institute of Dermatology showed that it triggered allergic reactions in 10% of their patients with sensitive skin. Some products use very small amounts (0.01%) and may be safer to use. Methylisothiazolinone is sometimes labeled MIT, MI, Neolone 950 preservative, Or MicroCare MIT.
The American Academy of Dermatology has also flagged imidazolidinyl urea and Diazolidinyl urea as a primary cause of contact dermatitis.
Synthetic colors may help make a skin product look pretty, but can irritate sensitive skin. Colors are usually labeled as FD&C or D&C, followed by a color and a number. For example you will see “FD&C Red No. 6” or “D&C Green No. 6.”
CHEMICAL SUNSCREEN INGREDIENTS
There are two kinds of sunscreens. Physical sunscreens contain ingredients like titanium dioxide or zinc oxide that deflect or scatter UV rays. Chemical sunscreens contain compounds that change UV rays into heat then release that from the skin.
If you have sensitive skin, stick to a physical sunscreen. Chemical sunscreens may contain ingredients that can irritation or stinging. Some of the most common irritants are benzphenones (oxybenzone, octocryele, and cinnamates).
Physical sunscreens can also deflects the heat, which is better for people who get redness and rosacea.
PROTECT AND STRENGTHEN SENSITIVE SKIN
Aside from looking for gentle, non-irritating ingredients, seek those that build the skin barrier function and fight inflammation. Sunscreen is also important: damaged skin will always be more prone to redness and dryness, and UV exposure will weaken your skin barrier even more.
This holds true even for people who don’t have sensitive skin, but are experiencing irritation or skin sensitivity because of a bad reaction to a product, change in climate, hormonal fluctuations, or even stress. Sometimes our skin just needs a little more attention and care than usual.
In an earlier blog post I wrote about the importance of a balanced, complete diet in maintaining beautiful skin. No single nutrient or antioxidant can give everything your body needs to create, repair and replace skin cells or build the skin’s protective barrier. Today I’ll look at some popular diet programs and how they can affect your skin.
This is a low-carb, low-fat and high-protein diet developed by Dr. Robert Atkins in the 1970s. He was the one of the first to make the public aware of the dangers of too much carbohydrates, saying that it raised sugar levels, which were in turn stored in tissues as fat. Atkins encouraged his followers to eat unlimited protein (meat, eggs, cheese, fish and shellfish) and eliminating carbs to force the body to burn the fat.
Atkins was right about the dangers of carbs, but there are dangers in a diet that has too much protein especially over a long period of time. Excessive protein can cause calcium levels to drop, which can affect the bone density in the face. Acidity in meat-based diets can also affect our skin’s PH levels. Most importantly, the diet does not put enough emphasis on fruits and vegetables, which provide skin-boosting vitamins and minerals and help fight free radicals that cause early aging and skin cancer.
The South Beach Diet
This diet made a distinction between “healthy carbs” from whole grains and “bad carbs” from sugar and starch. I do agree that a low-glycemic diet can help the skin, since high sugar foods have been linked to acne breakouts and lower collagen and elastin levels.
However, the South Beach Diet is characterized by phases, with the first completely removing all sugar including all fruits and vegetables like carrots, beets and corn. These are excellent sources of Vitamin C, betacarotene, and antioxidants.
The Mediterranean Diet
This diet – rich in fresh fish, fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, and lean proteins – was first promoted to help with heart disease, but it does deliver many skin benefits as well. It’s rich in antioxidants and omega and fatty acids, and olive oil keeps the skin barrier healthy and hydrated.
The Mediterranean diet allows whole grains, which is good news for people who do love their rice and noodles! I see this as an example of how we can enjoy what we love but balance it with healthier, more nutrient-rich ways of cooking. One thick, crunchy slice of bread dipped in olive oil and balsamic vinegar is a much better way to fix a carb craving than a bag of potato chips.
The Vegan Diet
I do love a diet that’s full of fruits and vegetables, and I know many vegetarians who have beautiful skin. The most important thing to consider is to get good protein sources. Our body needs protein to produce, repair and rejuvenate our skin and our hair. Otherwise, our skin will lose elasticity and look very dry and dull.
If you do choose a vegetarian lifestyle – either for diet or personal or religious beliefs – be sure to include protein-rich food such as tofu, beans, nuts like chickpeas, and peanut butter. Nuts and healthy oils (such as flaxseed oil and olive oil) can also provide essential fatty acids to keep your skin properly hydrated.
Since meat is often the go-to source of Vitamin B, be conscious of getting this from other sources or taking a supplement with Vitamin B, selenium and zinc.
The Paleo Diet
This diet program advocates removing processed foods and getting nutrients from natural sources, claiming these are the foods we are genetically predisposed to. In many ways, it is one of the most nutritionally balanced. It advocates lean proteins, fresh fruits and vegetables, and healthy fats from seeds, nuts, olive oil and fish oils, and avocados.
The Paleo diet’s holistic approach to eating can’t really hurt your skin. We’re still getting vitamins, minerals, proteins, carbohydrates and fats, but simply choosing where to get them. For example, vegetables are organic, and meat is taken from grass-fed cows that are leaner and have not eaten any feeds.
Supporters have reported smooth and clearer skin just by eliminating processed sugars from their diet. Some people who have eczema and rosacea also say that they’ve suffered less (or less severe) episodes. The Paleo diet is relatively new so no long-term studies have been made, so I can’t verify if this diet is “good for the skin”, but I don’t see any harm in selecting good ingredients for our meals!
Eat well, look good … and enjoy life!
I believe that our diet not only affects our skin, but our energy levels and our mood. There is no need to cut out food groups or even the food that makes us happy! This list shows there are many approaches to nutrition, and the most successful ones are those that are based on balance, moderation, and finding healthy sources.
Furthermore, never go on a diet just because the celebrities are talking about it, or stay on it because you are losing massive amounts of pounds at the cost of your energy or mood. The best diets make you look good and feel good, and your skin (and smile!) will show it.
Collagen drinks and collagen-infused coffees and cereal bars are very popular. Experts believe the global market will hit US$7.4 billion by 2020, driven by a “beauty from within” trend and aggressive ads that claim that these nutrients are absorbed faster in the bloodstream than when applied on the face.
But is it all just marketing hype?
Collagen: Before you drink it – understand it
I believe that everything you drink, eat, or put on your face is a personal choice, but please make it an informed choice. The word “collagen” is in every anti-aging campaign, but knowing what it is, how it works, and how collagen products can help your skin can help you see the truth behind any product’s claims.
Collagen is a protein in your skin that maintains its structure and elasticity. It comprises about 75% of your skin, but by the time we reach our twenties, we start losing 1.5% of our collagen every year! Sun exposure and environmental hazards can also break down collagen. Our bodies will replace collagen, but fibroblasts – our body’s “collagen factories” – become less efficient as we grow older. That’s when we start seeing fine lines and loss of radiance (when our skin is less firm, the light doesn’t bounce off as beautifully), and finally, sagging and deep wrinkles.
How collagen drinks work
Anti-aging creams work either by temporarily hydrating and plumping the outer skin layer, and/or penetrating deeper into the skin to activate collagen production. Collagen drinks claim to be effective because they deliver collagen fragments directly into the bloodstream. Some of them also provide other skin-boosting ingredients – hyaluronic acid, resveratrol, and other antioxidants – for the skin-equivalent of pizza delivery: “All this goodness, delivered to your doorstep!”
The natural question is how the body will process ingredients once it’s ingested. Critics say that will simply break them down like it does any other protein, such as meat, cheese, or eggs. Others say that any collagen fragments will be subjected to digestive enzymes, which will significantly affect their form and ability to significantly restore or repair skin.
Clinical trials of these drinks are not extensive or conclusive, and many testimonials are from customers who may have made other lifestyle changes – good diet, exercise, use of other skin creams – that could affect the quality of their skin. Also note that supplements and homeopathic remedies are not scrutinized by the FDA, and companies are not mandated to submit their products to dermatologists for review.
Bottom line: is it worth it?
Collagen drinks may hold promise, but as a consumer, we need to weigh the possible benefits with the cost and the effect we are looking for right now. Does that “beauty concoction” of collagen or nutrients fight aging better than drinking regular water and snacking on a regular apple or slice of cheese? Are you better off saving your dollars on a good skincare regimen? That is all up to you. But here are the facts: there is no clinical, independent, long-term evidence that collagen drinks can fight aging, and yet there are decades of evidence of doctor saying that a balanced diet, consistent skincare, and liberal doses of sunscreen work.
Your natural alternative
There is truth that your body needs nutrients to make healthy cells, but collagen drinks are not the only way to get them. You can get antioxidants from fruits and vegetables that can help your body produce collagen. These include tomatoes, grapefruit and watermelon (which are rich in lycopene, that helps prevent collagen degeneration), and broccoli, leafy greens and cauliflower (which contain glucosinolates, that attack free radicals that affect our collagen). Any food that is rich in omega-3 fatty acid (such as oily fish) has anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory effects that improve your skin barrier and protect against environmental damage. In other words, you can eat or drink your way to better skin – but you can get it from ingredients that are already in your pantry.
Again, I have always said that the choice is yours. Fill your mind with information, and fill your grocery basket with what you feel works best for you. If a collagen drink seems effective and interesting enough for you try, by all means, go ahead. But remember that skincare is never as easy as drinking as just one thing. There is no miracle drink, anti-aging potion, or superfood – just diet and lifestyle choices that add up and give you a well-earned glow.
Can stress really cause pimples, or is it (no pun intended) “all in the mind”? There may actually be a strong connection between stress and your skin, and there’s a new field of science that’s dedicated to studying it: psychodermatology.
Psychodermatology looks at how emotions can impact the skin. Several research has already seen a link between stress and skin disorders.
For example, doctors have observed that a stressful event can trigger autoimmune diseases such alopecia (hair loss) and vitiligo. There is also a new study done on mice that found a stress-triggered hormone (glucocorticoid) can worsen conditions like psoriasis and eczema. Lead researcher Kenneth Feingold of the University of California said that once they learn how glucocorticoids work – and possibly block it – they could understand and manage how stress affects overall skin health.
Both psychodermatology and Dr. Feingold’s research are looking at a skin-stress connection that scientists see but, for now, cannot completely explain. There are a lot of theories, however.
“The mind and skin are connected on many different levels,” says Dr. Karen Mallin, a professor of dermatology and cutaneous surgery who took a postdoctoral course on psychodermatology. “A lot of nerve endings are connected to the skin, which wraps around the organs, so as emotions are played out neurologically, they can be expressed through the skin just as stress can be expressed through gastrointestinal symptoms, increased anxiety, or hypertension.”
Stress hormones like cortisol can also cause the body to produce more oil, which may contribute to an acne breakout. There are also indications that high levels of stress hormones can lower cell growth and inhibits cell differentiation – or, in layman’s terms, the body’s ability to produce healthy cells.
In one study, scientists subjected mice to stress by locking them in small cages with constant light and noise. (Sounds like the life of most human city dwellers.) Another group of mice were left to roam freely. Results showed that the unstressed mice had better skin function.
Aside from stress’s effect of hormones, nerve endings, and immune system responses, we also can’t deny that stress will also lead to habits that affect our skin. Tough week at work? We have a drinking binge with friends, and the dehydrating and inflammatory effects of alcohol show up as dryness, dullness, and dark circles. Too busy to eat on time, much less cook a healthy meal? A lifestyle of skipped breakfasts and takeout lunches deprive our skin of much needed vitamins and minerals.
Scientists are hopeful that by understanding the exact hormones and body responses to stress they can then create the medicines that can minimize its effects. Others believe that a new field like psychodermatology allows doctors to explore more integrated treatments – for example, recommending relaxation therapy, antidepressants, or counseling aside from prescription skin medication.
However, we don’t need science’s go ahead to manage stress. Knowing that there is a possible connection between our emotions and our skin – plus all the other research that links stress to heart disease, poor immune system, and other serious health problems – should already tell us that stress is something we need to address. Not just for better skin, but for a better quality of life.
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Facial acne is so common that we don’t think twice about the occasional pimple or blackhead. However, we’re often surprised when we get a breakout on our back and shoulders. Where did that come from?
What causes back and body acne?
Acne can form anywhere on the body. While back and shoulder acne are the most common, some people get acne on their chest, buttocks, inner thighs, or even scalp.
Back and body acne are often triggered by the same factors that cause the acne on our face. The most common culprit is hormones that lead to the overproduction of oil (read our article on Adult Acne). It can also be hereditary.
Like facial acne, back acne can come in the form of black heads or white heads, or the more painful pustules (pimples) and papules (small pink bumps that feel tender when touched). When back acne is infected, it turns into pus-filled cysts that can often look like a boil.
You may also develop what’s called “acne mechanica” or bumps that resemble a prickly heat rash. This is actually caused or worsened by irritation from trapped moisture, or continuous friction or pressure on an area. This can be triggered by anything from your back pack to the mats to wearing ‘non-breathable” fabrics when you’re working out at the gym. This is very common among athletes.
Can I use facial acne products to treat back acne?
Theoretically, yes. The ingredients in facial care can clear the pores, fight inflammation, and kill bacteria regardless of what part of the body on which they are applied.
However, the skin on the back is thicker than that of the face. You may need a stronger or more textured exfoliating ingredient that can help slough off the dead skin cells that clog pores.
If you frequently get back acne, get an anti-bacterial body soap or body wash. You may also want to switch your body moisturizers for a lighter, non-comedogenic formula.
Just like facial acne, body and back acne can’t always be avoided, but it can be treated. This is just a “bump” in the road.
Put acids on your face? Don’t worry, we’re not talking about bubbling laboratory vials and noxious gases, but powerful ingredients that are probably in skincare products you’re already using. You’ve heard of AHAs, BHAs, even Vitamin C – these are often used in anti-aging, brightening, and exfoliating products. Your dermatologist may even use higher concentrations in chemical peels and facials. But what exactly do they do?
Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs)
These include glycolic, lactic, citric, malic, and tartaric acids. They are gentle exfoliants that also stimulate collagen production and help control hyperpigmentation. Unfortunately, they can also make your skin more sensitive to the sun. If you use any product with AHAs, be sure to use a good sunscreen. If you are new to AHAs, start with low levels and work up to higher concentrations to avoid irritation.
Of all the AHAs, glycolic acid has the smallest molecules and can penetrate into the deeper layers of the skin. Lactic acid is derived from sour milk and is known to be moisturizing.
This beta hydroxy acid (BHA) is derived from willowbark. It is a keratolytic, which means it can exfoliate the surface layer of the skin and clear out clogged pores. That makes it a very effective ingredient for acne treatments, especially for those with oily skin. However, it can be drying and potentially irritating for those with sensitive skin. For this reason, it is often used in small concentrations, put into spot treatments (rather than those applied all over the face), or combined with calming or hydrating ingredients. You can also switch to a product with a gentler acid like glycolic or lactic acid.
If you are allergic to salycylates (found in aspirin) you may want to avoid any product that has salicylic acid, since this may trigger contact dermatitis.
This actually occurs naturally in our skin and acts like a lubricant. However, our body produces less as we grow older. Synthetic hyaluronic acid pulls in moisture from the air, holding over a thousand times its weight in water. It is a mega-moisturizing molecule, and a powerful ingredient for anyone with dry skin.
It’s important to understand what’s in your skincare. Follow this blog for regular posts on ingredients like retinol, antioxidants, and more. You may also want to check our article on parabens. Contact us if you’re curious about a particular ingredient – we’ll be happy to write about that, too!
There are many Youtube videos of people gushing over the benefits of a facial massage. Some of them demonstrate how to do it with a Chinese soup spoon; others prefer to work with their fingers. But does the facial massage really give any real benefits, especially when the process – pressing, smoothing, stroking the skin – requires time, energy and attention many of us don’t have at the end of the day?
Any massage stimulates the blood vessels and improves circulation, and your skin needs good circulation to perform well. The blood carries oxygen and nutrients to the skin, and carries away waste products like free radicals. That’s why regular exercise works wonders on your skin. While a 3 minute facial massage won’t give the full benefits of 20 minutes on a treadmill, it works on the same principle.
There’s also a good bulk of scientific studies on the connection between oxygen and skin’s overall health and strength. Oxygen helps in producing new skin cells, defend against bacteria, and synthesizing collagen. If a facial massage can encourage a flood of oxygen to your face, and keep the blood cells there working well, then that is good!
A facial massage can also help reduce puffiness around the eye, cheek and jawline. However, be careful about claims that it can actually neutralize or expel toxins – only the liver can do that! – and if you’re taking a very unhealthy diet of processed foods, smoking and drinking, a facial massage will not be able to magically sweep your blood (and your skin) clean.
That being said, facial massage does deliver some benefits, and if you find it personally relaxing and enjoy doing it either yourself or when you treat yourself at the spa, then by all means go ahead. However, if you would rather skip it, then you can find many other ways to get its benefits. You can improve circulation by dancing in your bedroom to your favourite song for 15 minutes, or control puffiness around the eyes with products that contain caffeine. There are also many facial masks and creams that can tone and tighten the skin. If you are concerned about removing toxins, the best solution is to avoid ingesting toxins through a proper diet.
As I have often said in this blog, the choice is up to you. There is more than one path to beautiful skin, and you can always pick what regimen and rituals work best not just with your skin concerns, but your personal preferences.
Mei Hui is the Managing Director and Pharmacist of The Skin Pharmacy. She is not a professional writer (please excuse the spelling and grammatical errors!) but she is very passionate about The Skin Pharmacy, anything related to health and wellness and life, in general. These articles are her own views which may not always be shared by others. Please feel free to comment below the articles if you wish. Happy reading!