Are you a skinimalist?

Posted by Teresa Foo on

#skinimalism is the core of our products. Just the essentials for your daily maintenance of healthy glowing skin, prevent clutter (or hoarding) and save your money from buying too many skincare products.

Do we need the 7 or 10 steps skincare regime to achieve healthy glowing skin? Are your skincare products dominating major real estate in your bathroom cabinet or dressing table? Having too many products can be stressful and possibly a burden to us. Most often we end up wasting products that we have yet to finish as we get curious and purchase new ones (we're not taking into consideration sensitive skin for this matter). We want products that give us the best value with efficacy that works to give us healthy glowing skin. That's why we always aim to create multi-functional/multi-purpose products.

Our customers' favourite and mine too – Awakening Skin Tonic, is one such multi-functional product. With a 100% certified organic rose hydrosol (known for its skin softening properties) as the base, we are able to formulate a product that is concentrated in botanicals potency. This is an intense hydrating product that is packed with skin loving botanicals such as adaptogenic Ginseng, Reishi and Shiitake mushroom and Goji berry extracts. These Asian botanicals help to strengthen the skin barrier and keep the skin supple. We also love Niacinamide (vitamin B3) for its cell renewal, even skin tone, regulate sebum production and moisturising properties. 

If there is one product we need (besides cleansers), it will be the Awakening Skin Tonic. Use it after cleansing to prep and hydrate your skin. Fill into a spray bottle and use as an instant facial mist. Add to your clay mask to increase the skincare benefits or simply layer on to give your skin the ultimate hydration boost.

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Have you had your smoothie today?

Posted by Toby Tan on

Festive eating can have a negative effect on your skin (psst read more on this in our past post here), and we get how hard it is to bounce back! So, we have come up with suggestions of how you can atone for your bingeing sins through exercise, diet and skincare. First off, exercise is the best way to detox and also lose weight at the same time. Getting your heart rate up will get your blood moving faster through your body, which in turn will mean that more blood flows through important detoxification organs such as the liver and the lymph nodes. These organs can then function more efficiently in purifying and detoxifying your body of foods like alcohol. Moreover, you also take in more oxygen when your heart rate increases, and you perspire, which gets rid of toxins from within through sweat. Choose workouts that increase your heart rate (like swimming) and encourages sweat production (like hot yoga or Bikram Yoga).

On top of exercise, you can also make healthier choices in your diet in order to detox from within. Make small changes like nomming on the leftover oranges that people bring over or that you didn’t manage to give away. Oranges are a great source of vitamin C to boost your immunity as well as to recover from that pesky hangover! You can reboot your body by committing to drinking 8 glasses of water (2L) everyday, which will not only help replenish lost fluids from alcohol consumption, but will give you hydrated glowy skin.

Another secret to successfully cleanse is to take care of your gut health which will improve overall skin health, since the gastrointestinal tract is also a detoxification organ! Peppermint tea can reduce bloating and indigestion after a heavy meal, and probiotics can increase good bacteria in the gut, which can reduce skin inflammations like acne (source).

Another one of my favourite ways to kick off a cleanse is to replace my breakfast with a smoothie. Blend bananas, frozen blueberries, oats and almond or soy milk to make a creamy, vegan friendly smoothie that is easy to make and fills you up till lunch.

Most importantly, you must also take care of your skin after your days of celebration. No matter how tired you are, it is important to cleanse off make up properly and exfoliate thoroughly before going to bed. This helps reduce the number of clogged pores that come from wearing make-up all day and will reduce the potential of having a pesky zit or a breakout in the morning. If you consumed a lot of oily, fried or heaty snacks, you might experience breakouts. Use a clay mask to absorb sebum and purify the skin. If you also consumed alcohol, you can use a hydrating mask and also an eye mask to prevent your eye area from drying out and increasing the risk of having crow’s feet. So here you go. Here are some tips from Balm Kitchen to ensure you get a holistic cleanse after your festive eating.

The easiest way to kick-off your post-festivities detox is to make it a habit to properly remove your makeup at the end of your day. Do this with Balm Kitchen’s Cleanse combo. The power trio are the Floral Cleansing Water, Rejuvenate Cleansing Balm & Mask and the Bamboo Facial Polish. These superheroes work in combination to remove makeup, sunscreen, excessive sebum, pollutants and dry skin.

(photos courtesy of Toby Tan)

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Multi-mask me!

Posted by Toby Tan on

Multi-mask your way to great skin!
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Scents and sensibility

Posted by Teresa Foo seet Wei on

Babies start to develop sense of smell at around 10 weeks old in the mother's womb and that is quite an amazing development. As babies grow from toddler to teens, teenager to adulthood, the development of smell can be quite profound.

We learnt that some scents smell better than others and sometimes just by looking at the object, we can visualise how it will smell. Have you also noticed that our body scent changes with our mood? We can even detect if someone smells angry or dangerous (source). 

So how does scents affect us in our daily lives?

We know what to expect when a festive holiday is about to begin as our brains have grown to accustom scents during the season and make associations with it. We will expect to smell lots of mandarin oranges, pineapple tarts, Nian gao (glutinous rice cakes), Ang bao (smell of money!) and not forgetting new sets of clothes and accessories. We can also smell rain before it happens (chemical compounds of smell travel fast). 

We feel happy when we smell something that is familiar like our mother's cooking, our favourite cup of coffee or tea, our favourite flowers, perfume and even people we love. Why we avoid smells or odours that turn us off may be due to a few reasons. It could be the scent/odour is naturally awful or it could be the scent/odour was present in the event of an incident or situation that has caused us unhappiness and our brain has registered it permanently in the hardware. 

What is the difference between natural and synthetic scents?

Natural scents are derived from plants or animals (such as musks). The chemical compounds found in natural scents are complex and never the same. Take a batch of Lavender flowers grown two years ago and the current year, and both will smell somewhat the same (with regular noses) but well-trained noses will be able to detect the slight nuances in the scent of the flowers. A lab analysis will also display that the chemical compounds found in the two batches will differ. This is because the health of the Lavender flowers, conditions of water, soil, air, etc all have an effect on the growth of the plants.

Synthetic scents on the other hand are chemically created (mostly from petroleum) or may have started from naturals but have been chemically modified in a lab to recreate a natural scent such as musks, food and even human body odour. Some synthetic scents or fragrances contain phthalates such as Di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate that is listed as a "reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen" by the National Toxicology Program (source). Phthalates can be found in the wall papers, flooring, household cleaning agents and even children's chewing toys. Ongoing tests are being carried out to determine how toxic phthalates can have on our lives. 

Can you be addicted to scents?

There may not be a conclusive study to show how we are addicted to scents but everyone does like to smell good scents. Do you feel uneasy or out of sorts if you have forgotten to spray your favourite perfume before you leave your home? Does that make you self-conscious that you may smell awful? Most often, it can be our mind playing tricks. Indeed some people may have particularly stronger body odour than others and that can be resolved with proper hygiene and also healthier food choices. The food that we consume does affect how our body emits odour (source). 

Sometimes getting to work in the morning can be quite stressful to me as I am constantly bombarded with bodies heavily scented in perfumes which can give me headaches. Have you felt that way too?

I have been on a 'scent detox' every now and then where I do not wear any perfume or use unscented body products. I do not diffuse essential oils, burn candles at home, at the studio or in the car. When I free my nose from all the onslaughts of smells whether the source is synthetic or natural, I feel that my nose is able to work better. I can smell better and able to detect what is natural or synthetic. Maybe you should give it a try and go body, home, office and car-scent free. I would love to hear about your experiences. 

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Up to 100% of cosmetic ingredients will be absorbed into your skin, for real?

Posted by Teresa Foo on

I am sure you will be shocked when you read any articles or blogs on how cosmetic ingredients can get absorbed into your skin. Up to 100% of cosmetic ingredients or to add fuel to fire, many will use the word "Chemicals", will get absorbed into your skin. The scientific chemical name for the most common chemicals that we come in contact everyday are as follows:

• Water - Dihydrogen monoxide
• Air we breathe comprises of Oxygen, Carbon dioxide, Nitrogen, etc.
• Salt - Sodium chloride
• Sugar - Sucrose
And so many more and I'm sure you get the idea. So a little less fear mongering about chemicals and more about facts.

How ingredients permeate into the skin really depends on many factors. Our skin is a barrier and that itself already has an impact how ingredients 'travel' into the skin. Let's take a look at how the skin looks like.

The skin, your skin, my skin, is made up of three layers. Epidermis being the top most where you can see and come in contact with skincare products, bacteria, allergens, etc. This layer is made up of sebaceous lipids and epidermal lipids that contain triglycerides, wax esters, squalene, mixture of ceramides, free fatty acids and cholesterol. The epidermis acts as a barrier to protect our body from getting viral or bacteria infection. It regularly sheds dead skin cells called Keratinocytes and reveal new cells. It contains melanin that protect the skin from UV damage. 

The dermis is the middle portion where you can find all the blood and lymph vessels, nerves, hair follicles and sweat glands. 

The last layer is called the Subcutaneous tissue or Hypodermis which compromises mostly of fats (decreases as age goes up) and acts as an insulation and cushioning to prevent injuries to our muscles.

Most cosmetics or skincare are meant to beautify or improve the skin barrier and hence the ingredients usually stays on top of the skin, I repeat usually. The top most layer i.e. Epidermis looks like cement blocks or bricks that are stacked together. Imagine a product that has been applied to the skin and the ingredients will have to make it's way in to perform it's function to moisturise, hydrate, soothe, calm, reduce inflammation, etc. How much of these ingredients get absorbed into the skin is what most of us are interested in and are based on these few factors:

• molecular size of the ingredients
• integrity of the skin
• location of the skin where ingredients come in contact
• age of the skin
• contact time of ingredients on the skin
I understand most people, even myself are not equipped with a scientific background but I will use my graphic visualisation skills to explain it as much as I can in layman terms .

The bigger the molecular size of the ingredients, the harder it is for them to get penetrated into the deeper layers of the skin. It has to 'fight' through the 'brick layers' and may get stopped there as it's too big to travel further. So if you smear pizza on your skin, do you think it will get absorbed? I'm sure you know the answer. The top layer, Epidermis, has an affinity with oils since it is made up of lipids. Have you also noticed that when you wash yourself, your skin repels water instead of absorbing it? Can you imagine what will happen to us if our skin absorbs 100% of what is put on top of it when we take our daily twice or thrice daily showers?!

Most ingredients such as oils, butters, Hyaluronic acid, humectants get absorbed into the epidermis layer but not penetrated further because of the big molecular sizes. Waxes do not get absorbed at all and stays on top of the skin acting as an occlusive barrier to prevent water loss.

There are ingredients that do penetrate deep into the layers of the skin and to the blood stream, and they usually have smaller molecular sizes. They are able to 'wriggle' their way pass the 'brick walls' of the epidermis and into the dermis where eventually it can end up in the blood stream. Essential oils are such ingredients that have smaller molecular sizes and are very potent too. Hence they are to be used with safety in mind (safety dermal limits according to Cosmetic Products Safety Assessor and International Fragrance Association, IFRA).

Younger skin such as babies, children, young people will react well to topical applications from skincare far better than adults and older people (age factor). The skin on our buttocks and feet are much thicker as compared to our face. Therefore the skin on our face and body is able to absorb cosmetic ingredients better than our buttocks and feet (location of the skin). Someone who has sensitive skin or problematic skin usually have compromised skin barrier (skin is not functioning normally). That can lead them to experience greater sensation when products are applied onto their skin. It is also the reason why sensitive skin reacts easily to cosmetics or skincare (integrity of the skin).

The duration of contact from cosmetic ingredients can also determine how much it gets absorbed into the skin (contact time). Let's say you mist your face with spring water, the water will not be absorbed into the epidermis (remember the epidermis is a barrier and repels water). Water evaporates. What you are essentially doing is to freshen your skin with the spring water, that's all. When you apply a facial moisturiser or a facial oil, the product will include some type of oils, butters, waxes, humectants that will stay on your skin for a certain amount of time. During this duration, some of the ingredients will get absorbed into the epidermis and some into the blood stream (those with smaller molecular sizes). 

I hope I have made it a bit easier for you to understand better that how ingredients are absorbed into the skin and it all depends on the factors that I have listed above. 

For more readings on Anatomy and Physiology of the skin:
• https://opentextbc.ca/anatomyandphysiology/chapter/5-1-layers-of-the-skin/
• https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2835894/

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