Do you exercise with your makeup on?

Posted by Teresa Foo on

I am a big fan of exercise and have been working out regularly. I work out at least twice a week with a minimum of 30 minutes each session. Regular Exercise not only keeps my body physically healthy (makes me look younger too!), it also makes my heart stronger. Exercise releases good endorphins that can help us to destress. Exercise have shown potential that "changes the brain to improve memory, thinking skills" according to Harvard Health Blog (source). 

Regular exercise also keeps our skin looking healthy. During a workout, our heart starts to pump faster (cardiovascular exercise going on there) and carries oxygenated blood throughout our body. Hence we will get a flushed look during and after we have exercised. In other words, our skin 'glows' with regular exercise. We also perspire a lot in the process. Here are some fun facts about our sweats (source). 

There is a rising trend in wearing makeup during workout which the products are called Athleisure makeup. These makeup are formulated to stay on your skin no matter how much you perspire. Sounds great? Probably not. I spoke to Alexia Buttigieg, an experienced Esthetician, on her views about wearing makeup when you exercise.

Alexia, can you share with us does makeup gets absorbed into the skin?

"Before I answer the question of makeup absorbing into the skin, we must understand that not all cosmetic ingredients are absorbed by the skin. Cosmetics only penetrate the first layer of dead or dying cells. Cosmetics do not go beyond that otherwise they would be classified as drugs or Pharmaceutical products! We do not want cosmetics to go beyond the first few layers of the skin i.e. deep into the dermal layer, as it would affect cell metabolism.

Makeup falls under cosmetics and it does penetrate into the first few layers of keratinised cells but not absorbed into the dermal layer which leads to the blood stream (which is good news). Makeup can get trapped in the horny layers with bacteria and sebum (the natural oil that our skin produces)."

What are the reasons why we should not wear makeup when we work out?

"Athleisure makeup may sound trendy but it is not a good idea to wear makeup during a workout as it can clog pores and disrupt the skin barrier. The foundation, loose powders and blushers are made of colouring agents and other substances (occlusive ingredients) which are meant to stay on the surface of the skin. They may penetrate into the epidermis during a workout. Our body produces heat (burn calories) when we exercise. As a result, skin metabolism rate increases. Pores become dilated (enlarged), and bacteria can get trapped in them. With a cocktail of sweat, bacteria, dirt and makeup, skin cell inflammation can occur and leads to irritation, redness, acne flare-ups and clogged pores.

Cleansing the skin before a workout is ideal, and highly recommended. As mentioned earlier, skin is highly active during a workout and may absorb whatever is on the surface. Even if you do not wear any makeup before starting your workout, your skin should be cleansed prior to any high-intensity activity. You should cleanse your skin with a gentle cleanser and apply a light and fast penetrating facial serum. If the workout is performed outdoor, a sunscreen with non-nano zinc oxide should be worn so it will stay on the surface and not have the possibility to get absorbed into the bloodstream (nano-sized zinc particles do get absorbed into the bloodstream).

Our skin should be cleansed thoroughly again after a work out to remove excess sweat (and a cocktail of dirt, bacteria, and dead skin cells too!) and whatever the skin would have expelled. Gently pat your skin dry with clean tissue instead of wiping with the wet towel to reduce irritation.

TIP: Makeup should be applied at least 30 minutes after the workout (onto freshly cleansed skin) so that the body has enough time to cool down. Our skin will still be in the 'active' state after shower and cleansing. The heart will require some time to slow down the blood pumping action. Your skin should be cool to the touch before applying any makeup especially foundation. 

Most often, girls and women wear makeup during their workout because they want to look good in their selfies or probably due to lack of self-confidence. Would you like to offer a few words of encouragement to all our female readers on embracing their natural beauty sans makeup during exercise?

"You will notice that exercise makes the skin flush which gives an impression of making you look younger and healthier. We should not be uncomfortable in our own skin. Almost no one has the perfect complexion so I believe we should all go bare-faced during a workout and let the skin do it’s own 'workout' too."

Photo courtesy of Alexia and friends sans makeup after their Zumba workout session.

Thank you Alexia for sharing with us. Let us embrace our natural beauty and exercise to your hearts' content sans makeup! Wear your natural flushed look with confidence! 

"Do not let beauty define you. You define beauty.

[ Alexia Buttigieg is a Holistic Therapist who is passionate about everything that can help people feel better in a more natural approach, from massage to self-therapy to essential oils and reflexology. She believes that stress cannot be avoided but nature has given us all we need to reduce it, and live a more balanced existence. She started her career as a Beauty therapist and has achieved diplomas in Esthetician and Physiatrics, where she was able to understand the anatomy and physiology of the human body. She furthered her studies by achieving diplomas in Reflexology (including palliative care) and Aromatherapy. Other certificate courses include tui na, facial analysis and Ayurvedic stone massage. In these past years she has ventured into natural cosmetics and read for a diploma and an advanced diploma in organic skincare formulation, which harmonises her passions for Aromatherapy and organic skincare treatments. Alexia still feels like her first role is being a mother to her daughter and prioritises family and their well-being. She may be contacted at naturannis@gmail.com ]


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How should I cleanse my skin?

Posted by Teresa Foo on

Most of us if not all wash our face with some kind of facial cleanser at least once or twice a day. I am picking up a three times a day! That is way too much washing in one day even in our humid climate. There are some of us who only wash your face with water. Is that enough? What facial cleansers should I be using? There are literally hundreds of facial cleansers in the market to choose from and any consumers will have a hard time making a decision.

Let's start with how many times you should be washing your face.

When you wake up in the morning, you should wash your face with a gentle cleanser. You need to do so because your facial skin is coated with a cocktail of dead skin cells, sebum from your facial pores and scalp, mold, mildew, fungus, dust mites and mites’ feces. Ewwwwww…You get the gist. All of them are found on your pillow. (Pssst, you need to change the pillow covers at least once a week.) 

No fret. Washing your face with water only cannot remove these cocktail of microorganisms. With the help of gentle facial cleansing products in the morning after you wake up, your skin is clean and you can continue with your usual skincare regime of toning, moisturising, sun protection and maybe makeup.

You go about your day commuting to work, school, volunteer work, shopping, doctor’s visits, etc. During the day, your skin starts to get coated with a layer of dust, pollen, air pollutants, smoke and sebum. At the end of the day, you will remove your makeup/sunscreen and follow through with a thorough cleansing.

Twice a day of facial cleansing, one in the morning and one when we get home/before bedtime are sufficient for daily cleansing. Washing your skin more than twice a day can put a lot of stress on the skin barrier as it is stripping away too much of the skin’s natural moisture i.e. disrupting the skin's acid mantle.

What type of cleansers is suitable for me? Let’s take a look at the common facial cleansers available to you. There are gel and foaming cleansers, cream cleansers, oil-based cleansers, clay, oleogel cleansers and also facial soap bars.

This is a general guideline on selecting facial cleansers for the common types of skin:

  1. Normal resistant skin
    You are one of the lucky ones on this planet! You can use just about any type of facial cleansers that you like, as your skin is neither dry nor oily, and do not react to any cosmetic ingredients.
  1. Normal to dry/mature/aged/dehydrated and also sensitive skin
    Cream cleansers, oil-based cleansers and oleogel cleansers will not leave your skin feeling like it has been stripped of it’s natural moisture. Since these type of cleansers usually include botanical oils, they have refatting properties that will leave your skin feeling moisturised after cleansing.
  1. Normal to oily/acne skin
    Gel, foaming, clay cleansers and even oleogels (self-emulsifying oil cleansers) will be suitable for this skin type. Your skin is usually oily around the T-zone. These types of cleansers leave a refreshing sensation on your skin without feeling like it has been coated with a layer of oils. Make sure to look for gentle, pH balanced skin as you do not want to wash away too much of your skin’s natural moisture. 

Natural facial soap bars are usually made with botanical oils, extracts and essential oils. The pH of the soap (pH 7-9) is usually higher than the skin’s natural pH (between 4-6). After cleansing your skin with a facial soap, it can leave your skin feeling tight. Using a moisturiser after cleansing will remove the tight skin feel. We do not recommend facial soaps for dry/mature/aged/dehydrated or even sensitive skin.

Now you know the importance of facial cleansing and how to select facial cleansers for your skin type. 

Look out for our next post where we share our views about the latest trend of wearing makeup during exercise or Athleisure makeup.

We have gentle facial cleansers for your daily cleansing needs. Simply Fresh Cleansing Oil is great for makeup and sunscreen removal. It is also suitable for dry/mature/aged skin as it is gentle and do not strip the skin of it’s natural moisture. Our Fruity Gelly Wash is pH-friendly and does not leave your skin feeling squeaky clean. Formulated with 100% organic Witch hazel hydrosol, it helps to reduce redness on your skin while giving your skin gentle enzymatic exfoliation from tropical fruits.

Disclaimer: The information provided is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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Festive eating and your skin

Posted by Teresa Foo on

Have you recovered from the 'food coma' after the Christmas feasting? I hear a 'NO' and now we're onto another episode of festive feasting again! Lunar New Year is just round the corner and with the many reunion dinners and company lunches, I am sure many of you have had a few kilos added to your weight. 

There is always a risk of excessive eating and not forgetting alcohol bingeing during festive seasons. We get carried away when we meet our friends and relatives whom most of us only see them once a year due to our busy schedules.

Do you know that festive eating can have a negative effect on your skin besides your body putting on a few kilos? Yes you heard me right. Let's take a look at what many of us will be consuming over this Lunar New Year.

Kueh Lapis, Pineapple tarts, Kueh Bangkit, Kueh Susu, Bak Kwa, Glutinous rice cake (年糕), Yu Sheng, Egg rolls, assortment of nuts, copious amount of cookies, chocolates, Arrowhead crackers, and the list goes on and on. Oh throw in the numerous cans of soft drinks, sugared teas, beers and wine we will have during our visits to friends and relatives' home.

What does all these food tells us? They are all high in Glycemic index (high GI). We will be consuming lots of refined flour, high sugar and fats and alcohol too. These will cause our blood sugar to rise which will induce excessive production of insulin. 'Elevated insulin levels stimulate the secretion of androgens and cause an increased production of sebum, which plays a fundamental role in pathogenesis of acne vulgaris.' (Source). Most often, we will experience breakouts after festive season and in some, exacerbate existing Eczema (Dermatitis) condition. Also due to the insufficient intake of fibre, many may experience constipation too.

Excessive alcohol consumption within a short time or long term duration can lead to dehydration of the skin. 'Alcohol can produce urine flow within 20 minutes of consumption; as a result of urinary fluid losses, the concentration of electrolytes in blood serum increases.' (Source). Try and limit the intake of alcohol and remember to replenish with plenty of water.

So how do we ensure we get to have our share of the New Year goodies and also maintain healthy skin? It is easy to indulge in all the festive goodies but our body will suffer which will eventually affect our skin. Therefore prevention is better than remedy. Let's be honest and we know we cannot avoid eating all the New Year goodies but it is wiser to practice mindful eating. 

 Meanwhile, I wish everyone a Happy & Prosperous Lunar New Year,新年快乐,身体健康,心想事成! Huat ah! 


Further reading:
• Guide on Sugars intake for adults and children: http://www.who.int/nutrition/publications/guidelines/sugars_intake/en/
• The Science of 'Breaking the seal': Urge to urinate comes more often with inhibition of Anti-Diuretic hormones: http://www.medicaldaily.com/science-breaking-seal-urge-urinate-comes-more-often-inhibition-anti-diuretic-hormone-316382

Disclaimer: The information provided is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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Meet the Skinpreneurs – Cosmetic Chemist

Posted by Teresa Foo on

Our last guest for Meet the Skinpreneurs is Elham Eghbali from Skin Chakra in Germany. 

Meet the Cosmetic ChemistElham is a Cosmetic Chemist, Chief Saponification Officer and is a former Associate lecturer at Formula Botanica. Many of you will have come in 'contact' with a Cosmetic Chemist in the form of your skincare, body care, household cleaners, etc. They are the Scientists for cosmetics formulations. Let's take a closer look into the world of a Cosmetic Chemist.

Elham - Cosmetic Chemist

• • •

Elham, what is Cosmetic Chemistry in a nutshell and what is a typical day as a Cosmetic Chemist?

Cosmetic Chemistry is the chemistry related to cosmetic ingredients and manufacturing of cosmetics. This is a very broad definition.

Each day is a unique day on its own. It can start with making new formulations, tweaking some existing formulations. Checking the stability of prepared formulations, running measurements, observing samples under microscope, reading new articles, searching for some ingredients etc. There is no “routine” at least in my “formulation development” part of cosmetic chemistry.

What are your favourite ingredients and why do you like to work with them?

Except for avocado oil that I love and try to apply in most of my projects, I can not name a certain “favourite” ingredient. Each single project demands application of a series of ingredients.

Consumers shun the word ‘chemicals’ like plague. What is your opinion on chemophobia?

This is a very sad story and I believe the scientists are as responsible to promote or support “chemophobia” as those who earn their livings from it. Scientists are so busy in their labs and offices that most of them have lost contact to the public whereas “panic makers” are making a fortune by distributing silly and unrealistic stories about chemicals in our everyday life. I think we shall consider the good and evil in each ingredient, product or device we’re using and shall not discard the baby together with the bath water.

You are also a Chief Saponification Officer. What kinds of soaps do you enjoy making and could you tell us the benefits of using handmade soaps vs industrial soap/surfactant based products for cleansing?

I find each soap making session a unique experience. It is the alchemy of the soap that I find fascinating. In soap making we deal with real “chemical reactions” and it is different to all our other formulation experiences such as making an emulsion or a serum. I personally like cold process soap making.

The most significant advantage is their being natural or naturally derived, although there is a chemical reaction involved in saponification, you're still working with plant oils as they are pressed out of the nuts, fruits or kernels. There are now "naturally derived" surfactants available but even the mildest of them and those which are accepted to be used in "organic & natural" skin care have a light de-fatting effect over skin. With natural soaps (I mean those based on fatty acids and triglycerides) you have a re-fatting of skin and not stripping the skin from its own protective barrier. Another advantage is that by applying a "natural soap" you're not only using the triglyceride, you're applying all those amazing non-saponifiables accompanying the virgin oils. You can not find this quantity and quality of vitamins, phospholipids and antioxidants in any syndet based soap or cleanser.

We know how generous artisan soap makers are with applying macerated oils and herbal infusions. In mainstream products, these additives are applied (if at all) to the lowest possible concentration just to enable the manufacturer bringing the name on the label. The mainstream is still deeply convinced that paraffin and synthetic surfactants and ingredients work better than "natural" ingredients. They apply low concentrations of "natural ingredients" about whose function and efficacy they are not convinced at all just to fool the customer and to swim with the stream.

We have seen many skincare in the markets promoting no preservatives used. Could you share with us why such practices are happening and why do we need preservatives in skincare especially those containing water and those that will come into contact with it?

This goes back to your previous question about “chemophobia”. I’m not sure if the consumer, I mean the consumer without any background in chemistry is aware of the role and function of a preservative in a cosmetic product. They correlate “preservative” with something toxic, harmful, carcinogenic. Some “unnecessary evil” that the industry is adding to the consumer products just for fun. This is why I mentioned before that scientists have greatly failed to inform the consumer. I always repeat “Paracelsus” in this case : “Dosis facit venenum”: the dosis makes the gift.

A cosmetic product containing water (and specially “natural” cosmetics with all those plant oils and extracts) are susceptible to contamination. A contaminated product causes more damage and harm than the most notorious “preservative”. We know by experience that a major part of “natural” cosmetics consumer are people with a compromised immune system. These consumers are extremely susceptible to contamination. There are several cases of dangerous outbreaks of infection and even death because of applying a contaminated product. These cases are unfortunately only being published in scientific journals. It seems that the scientists are communicating among each other and totally neglect the “real” world outside. Anyway, making the long story short: a contaminated product is more dangerous and harmful than the applied preservatives which serve to protect both the product and the consumer from dangerous contaminations and their consequences.

Thank you Elham for sharing with us and you can find her at Skin Chakra. We hope you have enjoyed our Meet the Skinpreneurs series!



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Meet the Skinpreneurs – Herbalist

Posted by Teresa Foo on

Our next guest for Meet the Skinpreneurs is Natalie Wilson of Nature's Comfort Soap Company in the US.

Natalie is a Herbalist who formulates herbal skincare, body care and also offer consultations on holistic health care. Herbalism ("herbology" or "herbal medicine") is the use of plants for medicinal purposes, and the study of such use. Plants have been the basis for medical treatments through much of human history, and such traditional medicine is still widely practiced today. (source: wikipedia) Herbalist may be a new term in our society as we are more familiar with the Asian counterparts, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Aryuveda and Jamu.

• • • 

Herbalism is very new to us in Singapore. Could you give us an introduction to Herbalism and what does a Herbalist do?
Herbalism is the study and practice of using herbs for their medicinal or beautifying values. All plants contain certain unique properties, or chemicals, that offer a huge variety of benefits to our health, our beauty, and to our overall well being. A herbalist utilises the plants, according to their needs and extracts and uses these properties in medicines, supplements, beauty products, and more. Herbalism is a great field to explore for anyone interested in learning about skin care. So many herbs offer amazing benefits to our skin, hair, nails, and of course, internal health. Without good health, beauty fades, so a herbalist values these connections, and uses the full body and all of its systems when choosing which herbs to always use.
Is Herbalism similar to Traditional Chinese Medicine, Aryuveda and Indonesian Jamu?
Yes, it is very similar. Many ideas and medicines cross and are shared between many different cultures and heritages. From American Indians, to the Chinese, herbs have been shared and passed down across the entire world and sometimes you’ll see them intertwined. I believe different cultures all had the same concept of using healing plants, the differences in use and variety existed mostly out of which plants were available according to where people lived, their own customs, and also their religious beliefs. Ayurveda believes that all things in life are connected and that there is a certain knowledge about life that is shared between all living things. …If we focus on that thought, we realise traditional herbalism does the same. We know that the earth holds all living things within it, and therefore provides everything for the life it holds. Plants are incredibly important to life on earth, they provide everything from food, to shelter, to energy, to medicines. All we need is the knowledge on how to use it. All of these practices have stemmed from early healers, prophets and writers.  

Natalie explaining about herbs to the little ones and their mummies during her workshop.

What kind of herbal remedies do you prepare regularly for example, for oral and topical skincare products?
I prepare several types of remedies, beauty products, and even perfumes from herbs. For instance, I love the beauty power of roses. They have the amazing ability to balance oils in our skin, among an array of other qualities. I prepare them by making extractions, distilling them, or infusing them into oils and other menstruums. I take these preparations and make everything from soaps, to skin creams, perfumes, shampoos, and salves.

For internal health, I have a large collection of herbal infusions called tinctures. These are alcohol extracted herbs that are taken internally as a remedy or as a health supplement. One example would be a tincture of valerian root, used to help someone sleep better at night, or to calm stressed nerves. Another would be Licorice Root to help soothe bad digestion or used on the scalp to treat dandruff.
As you spend more time learning about the herbs, what they are, and what they do, you’ll gain more and more experience learning about what they do, and how they can help improve your life and the lives of those you love.

What are your favourite ingredients and why do you like working with them?
As I mentioned already, my favorite is the rose, because it can be used for so many things, both internally and externally. Roses have been adored in herbalism for thousands of years. Queen Cleopatra was known for her continued use of rose water for her beauty, and its use in perfumery can’t be beat. It is by far, my favorite herb. I enjoy working with aromatic flowers, like lavender, jasmine, and tuberose. I also love rosemary, as it is another wonderful aromatic with a large variety of benefits, such as bringing shine to hair. Calendula, patchouli, comfrey, stinging nettles, arnica, witch hazel, slippery elm, just to name a few, are some of my favorite herbs. They offer a variety of uses that I never seem to run out of ideas for. Even delicate baby skin can benefit from a light oil that has been infused with lavender or calendula, and old skin will love the uplifting feel of roses or jasmine. There is truly something for everyone.

What is the one oral herbal remedy that you recommend to everyone for boosting of immunity and also one topical herbal remedy for daily maintenance of good skincare?
The one oral herbal remedy I recommend to everyone for boosting immunity is elderberry, because it is safe for just about anyone to use without the worry of a contraindication (a reaction to a medication or a disease) and also it is not hot or spicy and even children love the taste of it. It is often made into a very good tasting syrup and can also be added to tea.
A good topical remedy for daily skincare maintenance, I usually say that this determines on one’s skin type. But if there is something that just about anyone could use for a good daily skincare routine, I would say it would be rosewater. Rosewater is made from distilled roses. It smells wonderful and has a low PH, helping to protect the skin’s acid mantle. Roses, as mentioned before, help to balance the skin’s oils and can be used by both young and old. Rosewater can also be used to create a huge variety of products from skin cream, to shampoo and conditioner, to perfume. Rosewater also offers a great deal of medicinal value and the combination of rosewater and glycerin used to be a staple in most physician’s bags as well as first aid kits.

Thank you Natalie for sharing Herbalism with us. You can find her at Nature's Soap Company and she has a wonderful blog at http://gardenspot-natalie.blogspot.com/.

Stay tuned for our next guest post on Meet the Skinpreneurs – Cosmetic Chemist.

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