You can rail at how unrealistic expectations of beauty has become but who of us didn't, at least at one point in our lives, dream of having soft, supple, translucent skin that is free of acne, redness or discolouration?
While that sounds like a reasonably achievable goal, those of us battling with acne and pimples know that it is an uphill climb in hot and humid Singapore. Thanks to our weather, food and habits that seem to make our oil glands work that much more, many of us find our pores clog up really quickly, resulting in cystic acne that never seem to heal.
Will we ever be able to achieve clear skin?
Having gone through the same journey as you, we can confidently tell you that the answer is YES. While we can't assure you that you'll be able to attain flawless skin that make you look like you're 30 when you're 52, both Agent G and Agent CW managed to control their acne to achieve relatively clear skin with the help of their respective facial therapists.
The bad news? You've got to put in some effort to put in place the right processes and the right people to get you on the right track. Anyone who promise you clear skin by simply going to the salon / doctor are most likely fudging the truth in some form.
While the process may be adapted to individual circumstances, here're what works and what we failed to do.
Read any article on clear skin and you'll likely see hydration as one of the first rule of thumb for clear skin. Drinking water helps to drain toxins from your body - and that includes your skin. While we concur with that, there's just something tasteless about water that makes Agent G balk.
Hence, what she did was to replace water with the caffeine-free rooibos tea. On top of hydrating your skin, Rooibos tea possesses anti-bacterial and hypoallergenic properties that help to fight various bacterial infections on the skin and prevent them from occurring again. It also helps in relieving allergies and prevent skin disorders... on top of containing high levels of vitamins and minerals like vitamin D and zinc that helps to make skin healthy and shiny from the inside.
For those who're having acne due to hormonal imbalance (due to stress or even sleeping late), rooibos tea has the additional benefit of balancing your hormones to keep your acne at bay.
P.S. We're not sure if other forms of tea work as well. Try it and tell us if you see a difference.
Yes, we know that lack of sleep is a major contributor to pimples but honestly, Agent G would have slept earlier if she could. Lifestyle changes like sleep is often determined by what's going on in our lives outside of beauty and it can be close to impossible to change them.
We would still advise you to try if you can but yes, we just want to give you hope as Agent G managed to clear her skin even without sleeping earlier.
P.S. Agent CW sleeps before midnight on most days, which could explain why her skin is usually clear before lockdown.
Agent CW used to be a facial skeptic until she got lockdown acne in March 2020 last year. Her usually clear skin was suddenly plagued with uncontrollable acne that got her going to Apple Queen Beauty for her first legit extraction facial.
For those who haven't been to facial before, you may be surprised to find her first facial lasting about 3 hours. That's long even for regular facial goers as most facial therapists just don't spend that much time and effort to remove extractions thoroughly.
Skip if you're squeamish, but here is Agent CW's extraction journey from June 2020,
to way fewer extractions in October 2020,
and even fewer and smaller extractions in March 2021.
We won't lie and say that they don't hurt, but as the improvement in Agent CW's skin condition and numerous customer reviews show us, it is all worth it.
Agent G's story is a little different. She has always struggled with acne throughout her life, partially due to slight occurrence of PCOS that wreaked havoc on her hormones.
Although she went for facials once in a while, she had never committed to regular facials until she met Winnie in late 2019. Since then, the acne had not only cleared up, Winnie had started tackling the rest of her skin issues e.g. big pores and uneven skin tone!
Skin condition after facial at The Bund Beauty on 3 Mar 2021
The theory behind extractions is easy; extractions remove whiteheads and blackheads. Blackheads are often referred to as open comedones as the opening of the hair follicle is not completely blocked. This allows for air to penetrate the pore, causing oxidation of the melanin and turning the head black. Once developed, a blackhead can remain on the skin for several weeks or even months. Blackheads are the easiest and least complicated for extraction as they have not been aggravated by bacteria and so are unlikely to cause further acne.
Whiteheads on the other hand are closed comedones as the opening of the hair follicle is completely blocked. When the sebum cannot escape the pore, it accumulates, giving the whitehead its characteristic white hue. Once developed, a whitehead remains on the skin for 3 - 12 days. After this time, it will either heal on its own, which occurs in about 25% of whiteheads, or develop into an inflammatory acne lesion that becomes red and sore, which occurs in about 75% of whiteheads.
Although pores are self-cleaning, the process takes quite some time and as you can imagine, determined by how strong your body's immunity system is e.g. what you eat, when & how much you sleep. During extraction facials though, the facial therapists bypass these hard-to-control factors and simply use mechanical means to remove whiteheads and blackheads so that the acne doesn't even get the chance to develop.
I know I know, you are so busy you don't even have time to sleep early. How do you even get the time to go for facials regularly?
Just in case you're thinking of slacking off, here's what happened to Agent G after 6 weeks of not going for facials. An accumulation of commitments at work, CNY snacks as well as sensitivity from housemoving caused Agent G to go for her regular facial only after 6 weeks. Guess what happened afterwards?
Agent G's acne situation late February 2021
You guessed it, big fat cystic acne near the nose and jawline that were possibly aggravated by mask use as well.
Fortunately, the situation was temporary. Just one extraction facial back at The Bund Beauty was sufficient to help Agent G eliminate those pimples days after.
For the sake of environmental friendliness, we know that it is best to use reusable masks. However, a number of us found reusable masks to be a source of bacterial infection. You can buy a few and change it every day but it is just not as convenient to wash all your reusable masks each time you use it. Especially if your hygiene level is not as high, we'd recommend you to use disposable masks to avoid maskne - or pimples resulting from mask-wearing.
Agent E was a good example. He started breaking out quite a bit near his jawline and chin after using reusable masks regularly. Simply switching out reusable masks for disposable surgical masks helped reduce pimples near his jawline and chin significantly!
You may be tempted to pop your own pimple back at home but that may likely cause a bigger pimple if you don't do it well. Take it from Agent E; who decided to pop his own pimple as he doesn't go to a regular facial therapist.
As you can tell, he has tried to be as gentle as possible but the process of popping his own pimple eventually caused the entire area to swell up for several days.
This compares to Agent CW whose face looked like this post-extraction.
Agent CW after her the Upgraded Signature Extraction Facial (with Chamomile Gel Mask)
The difference between popping the pimples yourself and having professionals extract for you is the sanitization undergone as well as the mask applied afterwards. When you pop the pimples on your own, you can never be sure if your hands or even the tissue is clean enough not to worsen the bacterial infection.
When a professional does it for you, they sanitize the equipment and use proper extractors to minimize any wound if any. Most importantly, they perform the right aftercare to make sure that the skin repairs as quickly as possible.
At Apple Queen Beauty, Apple applies a cooling serum onto the skin to soothe and nourish it, followed by either a gel mask, a serum, a sheet mask, or a combination of the 3.
Chamomile mask during the Signature Extraction Facial
The above is the leave-on mask that dries after a while and below, a cooling aloe vera gel mask that helps to reduce redness and swelling from extractions.
As Agent CW will tell you, the cooling sensation feels super shiok! But that's not the point.
Look at the photos and you'll see how calm the skin is after the facial, which persists even a day after.
So yes, do your skin a favour and try to go for a professional beauty therapist who can help you get rid of your pimples the safe way.
Extraction facials may be good at helping you remove all the comedones that cause acne but facials happen only one day every 30 days.
What we do on the rest of the 29 days to repair the skin and slow the growth of comedones are just as important to keep the skin clear. This can explain why some people take 2 weeks to recover from extractions while others, just 3 days... even when both of them go to the same facial therapist!
Ever since going to Apple Queen Beauty, Agent CW found herself religiously using the 3 step bamboo homecare recommended by Apple. Having struggled with sensitive acne-prone skin herself, Apple tested numerous products on her own skin before introducing it to customers. Since then, her homecare has helped to soothe and keep customer skin hydrated back at home.
Likewise, Agent CW found herself abiding by the 5-step homecare regime recommended by Winnie from The Bund Beauty. The milk cleanser gently removes makeup and dirt without stripping the skin of its moisture while the astringent papaya extract exfoliates the skin gently on a daily basis. That is followed up by the toner that moisturizes and builds the skin's resistance towards environmental stresses as well as CA Plus that contains a derivative of Vitamin C and A to improve skin tone and texture, reduce hyper pigmentation, repair photo damaged skin and surface roughness. She then ends off with a medical grade anti-aging cream that consists of 3 peptides brand to stimulate production of soluble elastin, providing a healthier and firmer appearance to the skin.
Agent G's Skincare Corner at Home
While it sounds like a lot of work, it doesn't feel that way after its incorporated into a daily routine!
If it helps, put them all in one place so it reduces effort on your end.
Curious about newest beauty brands, Agent G would succumb to advertising once in a while and purchase products to try. One brand that she tried was the Taiwanese MKUP that was advertising very aggressively on Facebook and Instagram. The models showed so much difference with the makeup that she couldn't help but try.
While Agen G was very happy with the Oil & Water Resistant Eyeliner and Nose Contour, the problem began when she started using the Dewy Glass Glow Cream, the Aqua Rescue Essence Stick and the Real Complexion Cream. Not sure if the product was too rich for her skin, Agent G started finding bumps along her skin as well as acne in never-before-seen places.
Bumps that appeared after usage of the MKUP products
Interestingly she didn't link it to the products at first. It was when her facial therapist at The Bund Beauty that got her identifying the source of the bumps. Once she stopped the usage of the products and after the extraction facial, the bumps disappeared.
We're not saying that the products aren't good but it is possible that whatever we buy online may not actually be suitable for our skin, causing unnecessary panic when our skin condition deteriorates after use. So exercise some caution and be extra vigilant whenever you try something new.
Your skin may be generally OK but apply a new makeup / skincare product or enter even a 3 month lockdown and you may just find your face degenerating into uncontrollable acne. Having someone navigate through these waters with you and remove all the hassle of diagnosing and wondering what to do can be invaluable.
And that's our motivation behind Beauty Undercover: to help you find someone like Apple from Apple Queen Beauty for Agent CW and Winnie from The Bund Beauty for Agent G. These therapists do not hardsell and instead, plan the treatment roadmap for you and motivate you along this long journey towards clearer, stronger skin.
When Agent CW told Apple how happy she was with her skin and that everyone around her noticed the improvement, Apple quite literally jumped with joy. We don't know about you, but we find it hard to find a beautician who has a personal stake in your skin's condition.
Did we miss out any skincare tip that you found was useful in keeping your skin clear? Share with us below!