You’ve just bought a new, 10-step skincare kit and have all the steps down pat. You’re pretty sure nothing stands in the way of radiant, glowing skin now — nothing, except for those stubborn bumps under your skin. That smattering of blackheads on your nose. Enlarged pores on your cheeks… maybe you have a long way to go before regaining clarity in complexion because of congestion — or clogged pores, if you will.

“My pores still clogged with the day’s wear.
I long for moisture and rejuvenation.”

SHELLS HEART
Smooth skin
Credit: Ayo Ogunseinde

TELLTALE SIGNS YOUR SKIN IS CONGESTED

One could have a seemingly smooth complexion but have hidden congestion issues. A quick test to see if you suffer from it — run a hand over your face. If your skin feels bumpy and uneven to the touch, chances are high that it’s congested. More obvious signs that most people are familiar with are blackheads (especially along the T-zone and cheeks) and whiteheads.

WHAT IS CONGESTION?

In layman terms, we like to call it “gunk” or “dirt”. In more formal terms, it’s a combination of impurities, sweat, dead skin cells, sebum and natural oils that become trapped within the pores, causing blackheads and / or whiteheads to form. While whiteheads tend to appear as firm, white bumps, blackheads are clogged pores that remain open and darken due to oxidation.

When pores are often congested and clogged with impurities, they tend to stretch—causing the appearance of enlarged pores.  A lot of times, simply clearing the skin of blackheads and congestion can help reduce the appearance of large and open pores.

CARING FOR CLEARING CONGESTED SKIN

The tips and tricks are many, so regaining smooth, glowing skin from within is very much possible.

DOUBLE CLEANSING

Double Cleansing with a makeup remover / pre-cleanser thoroughly removes environmental pollutants accumulated through the day, making the same job easier for your cleanser. More importantly, pre-cleansing softens your skin so that following products can be absorbed more effectively. Double cleansing is one of the simplest, fastest ways to ensure the skin is thoroughly cleansed of debris, dirt, makeup, and all other incriminating factors needed for congestion to happen.

“Take your time when cleansing – it’s not a step to be rushed.”

EMMA HOBSON
EDUCATION MANAGER FOR THE INTERNATIONAL DERMAL INSTITUTE
AND DERMALOGICA

EXFOLIATION

Exfoliation

Exfoliation helps keep your skin clear and more even as it gets rid of flaky skin cells and loosens keratin buildup. Look for exfoliants with fruit enzymes as they are gentler and do a better job of dissolving dead skin cells without irritating or damaging the skin. Even better if the exfoliator returns water to the skin with hydrating ingredients like aloe extracts. The goal here is to revive the skin’s surface while preventing over-drying or irritation. An effective exfoliant does its job without abrasion, helping to clear your pores while also nourishing the skin.

Avoid any exfoliants that contain micro-beads or granules as these are generally more aggravating to the skin.

TONING WITH AHAS

One of the most important parts of the daily skin care routine is toning. It balances the skin after cleansing, calms and lowers its pH level. Toning helps prep the skin for any serums that follow, and removes excess oil your cleanser may have missed. Another perk? It shrinks the size of your pores! Find toners with AHAs, as these break the bonds between weakened skin cells, making it much easier to exfoliate and encourage cellular production. New cells = smoother-looking, healthier skin!

Glycolic and lactic acids are two such sources of AHAs; it gently peels the top layer of the skin, helping dislodge buildup from clogged pores, and with regular use, improves the skin’s overall appearance and clarity. These remove excess sebum, impurities and dead skin cells to clarify the skin to make way for a brighter, clearer complexion.

Remember to always use sunscreen, especially after using products with AHAs to protect your skin from free radicals and UV damage!

GEL-BASED MOISTURISING

Once your skin is primed and prepped for moisture (after all that cleansing, exfoliation and toning), it’s important to use a moisturizer that isn’t too heavy or thick, but provides superior hydration down to the deeper layers of the skin.

It’s a misconception that one shouldn’t apply moisturizers if his / her skin is oily. In fact, it’s a pretty big booboo if you skip this step, especially if your skin is oily! Dehydrated skin often produces more oil because it perceives the skin to be too dry. But if you feed it with water to even out the pH balance, it stops bumping up the sebum production because your skin’s already well-fed.

However, it’s important to find the right moisturizer. These are those that are non-comedogenic, contain hydrating ingredients and occlusives to ensure that skin is hydrated and that hydration is locked within.

If your skin is really dehydrated, consider adding a power-packed serum with ingredients like hyaluronic acid and sodium hyaluronate for a surge of hydration.

water
Credit: Vishal Banik

“Moisturising your face is also an effective solution to keeping your pores clean. Many people with acne fear that moisturiser will add excess oil to their skin, however if they use the right product this is not the case.”

DR. KATHERINE ARMOUR
DERMATOLOGIST

PROFESSIONAL EXTRACTIONS

Unclogging congested skin can be done faster with the help of professional extractions! As always, don’t pick at your skin or attempt extractions on your own because that introduces more dirt and bacteria to inflamed skin. You know what that means — more bumps, more blackheads, more zits… more congestion!

Extractions are rarely a pleasant experience but you can help make the process a little easier and less painful by prepping your skin for it * gasp. How? Here’s a word you’ve heard countless times in this post alone — hydration.

When your skin is hydrated, it helps soften the surface so it’s more pliable, making it easier to extract comedones and congestion. Dehydrated skin, on the other hand, will harden around the blockages, locking them in place and thus making it harder or even impossible to remove. Before your extractions appointment, boost your skin’s hydration as much as possible with masks and serums! You can thank us later.

Here’s the cold, hard truth: The answer is yes! For the uninitiated and worried mothers out there, pregnancy facials are possible.

Pregnant women probably need them more than before they got themselves with child — why, hello there, yet another triple-zit-on-my-nose. Where’s that glow everyone talks about? You aren’t alone; many mothers find themselves privy to acne, dry flaky skin, sensitivity, amongst other unwelcome guests — instead of the elusive, legendary radiance.

However, remember to play by the rules of the game to ensure your baby (and you) are safe during this highly hormonal period. 

Pregnancy Facials - Can I Get One With That Bump? | Pregnancy Diaries

Credit: Alex Pasarelu

GENERAL RULES OF THUMB SO PREGNANCY FACIALS DON’T BECOME PREGNANCY FAILS

  • Don’t raise your core body temperature above 38.9°C. You don’t want your body to trap heat and become an oven… research has shown that raising the internal core temperature too high during the first trimester can result in birth defects
  • ALWAYS tell your therapist that you are pregnant when making the appointment, especially if it’s your first pregnancy facial; this helps them modify the steps as necessary so they don’t get charged with babyslaughter

NOW, THE PREGNANCY FACIALS YOU CAN DO

No bells, whistles, or frills where these are related. In other words: stick to the basics. Gentle, hydrating facials are the safest bets and can deliver much-needed moisture and confidence boosts.

1. Facials That Were Specifically Made For You
Customized and thus perfect for pregnant women, period (no more).

How could we say facials are suitable for pregnant women without first designing one specifically for you? Sometimes, pregnant women need just a little bit of downtime or a reminder that they still deserve to and can pamper themselves. Given the hormonal imbalance and resulting epidermal antagonists, you just want to fix them. You just want your un-saggy skin back. You just want some peace.

Doesn’t some oxygen therapy with a Shiatsu facial massage sound wonderfully oasis-like?

Treatments to try: RestorativeTM. Me-time, confidence and brighter, water retention-free skin.

2. Oxygen Facials
Especially great for dry and dull skin

Oxygen is a really powerful thing. When your skin is tired, dull and lifeless, it’s there to pull you back from the edge. This miracle gas heals by boosting cellular regeneration and blood circulation. The faster your new cells replace the old ones, the younger your skin looks. This super gentle facial can also clear your pores so it can absorb moisture more. Voila, you’re as close to a pregnancy glow as you can get / you just amped on that radiance you have (you lucky thing, you).

P.S. It’s also anti-bacterial (meaning it can help with your acne) and anti-aging (it plumps out fine lines and wrinkles)!

Treatments to try: OxyReviveTM. Glow-ier, brighter skin awaits.

3. Hydrating Facials
Again, especially great for dry and dull skin

Pregnancy Facials - Hydrating facials are great for dull, dehydrated skin

Credit: Camila Cordeiro

Dry skin can really become the bane of your existence when it seems to flake beyond repair (to your despair). Your body is constantly transferring water to the little one inside while leaving you dehydrated and cranky. Dehydration can exacerbate oily skin conditions (the irony), acne and even pigmentation. Keeping it hydrated and healthy, on the contrary, can increase your resistance to the sun’s damaging effects, pollution and free radicals.

Pair your power-packed hyaluronic acid serum with an intensive hydrating facial to quench your skin’s thirst and heal it to a softer, suppler complexion.

Treatments to try: Sun RescueTM. Happier, more hydrated skin lies ahead. 

4. LED Light Therapy
Brilliant for acneic and distressed skin. And yes, generally safe for pregnant mamas 

Pregnancy Facials - LED light therapy is great for distressed, acneic skin

Credit: Anderson Guerra

To make things clear, LED light therapy is non-invasive and targets only the upper layers of the skin. It doesn’t damage your skin tissues but rather, triggers natural biochemical reactions similar to photo-synthesis.

In other words, your baby is safe.

Blue light targets acne-causing bacteria and simply minimizes / brings breakouts to a standstill. Red light, another commonly-used frequency, boosts collagen production, reduces inflammation and lessens redness and irritation.

Leave your frustration with acne bouts and sensitive, inflamed skin at the door. LED light therapy is a multi-talented weapon against acne, wrinkles, dullness and inflamed skin. Depending on the light frequency, it can be used for anything from boosting tissue growth to stimulating collagen production and regeneration.

Kind of a superhero like oxygen.

Treatments to try: Pick Me Up. Rejuvenated skin is just 30 minutes away.

AND, THE STUFF YOU CANNOT DO

As we said — no bells, no whistles. Refrain from fancy stuff like:

  1. Electric currents
  2. Chemical peels – The skin is super sensitive and easily irritated during pregnancy
  3. Microdermabrasions – These will likely scar your extra-sensitive skin and aggravate breakouts.
  4. Extractions – Or, if really, really necessary, ask your therapist to be really gentle with your sensitive skin
  5. Plastic surgery

Credit: Bruce Mars

Not just slayers of skin woes, pregnancy facials can also really lift your mood. You deserve it. Go for it.

Stay true,


READ MORE STORIES HERE:

Pregnancy Skincare: 5 Woes, 5 Tips | Pregnancy Diaries

Skincare For Expectant Mothers: 10 Tips

Understanding Acne – Why Some Get It And Some Don’t

Layering Hydration the Right Way | #SkinHacks

Dry Skin Vs Dehydrated Skin – 3 Quick Tips | #SkinHacks

Everyone talks about the pregnancy glow. Less talked about are the nasties: Zits like back when you were in high school. Dry, flaky skin even when you don’t usually have dry, flaky skin. Days out on the beach are days long gone because — is that another dark mark on your face? We ask you to calm down though — these are all perfectly normal pregnancy skincare skintuations that many women like you face… and there are remedies.

Pregnancy Skincare: 5 Woes, 5 Tips | Pregnancy Diaries

Credit: Josh Bean

PREGNANCY SKINCARE WOE #1: ACNE
(WHEN I WAS 13, I HAD MY FIRST LOVE ZIT)

Being a teenager was nothing without bouts of breakouts… but when you’re 30 and pregnant? You might almost wish you weren’t having a baby bump. Pregnancy hormones can send your oil glands into overdrive, creating a breeding ground for acne. Worse, androgen (a male sex hormone) increases during pregnancy, further increasing sebum production, clogging, blackheads and finally, pimples.

The cruellest joke ever? The acne products you used to use are unsafe while you’re pregnant because of the chemicals. Minocycline, doxycycline, tetracycline and Accutane, are definitely no-gos as they can cause birth defects.  Then, it’s best to stay away from ingredients like benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid too, since these can enter the bloodstream. Most products are not actually pregnancy-tested…

But it’s not all doom and gloom. Your skin will most likely clear up after pregnancy. In the meantime, here are some quick tips.

Skin Hacks: DON’T SQUEEZE. DON’T PICK. DON’T TOUCH. Opt for ingredients like lactic acid, tea tree oil or sulfur. See a doctor if you’re really sick of the acne that seems persistent and widespread. Instead, cleanse face with a mild, hydrating cleanser. If necessary, use steam to clear clogged pores. Look for non-comedogenic / water-based skincare products as these don’t aggravate oily, acneic skin. Also, contrary to popular belief, you CAN go for facials while pregnant — watch out for the next Nanny Princess Pregnancy Diaries post on this! 

PREGNANCY SKINCARE WOE #2: DRY SKIN

Damned hormones. Where you once had smooth, glowing skin, you’re now left with a dryness that doesn’t seem to stop itching.

Why?

It’s really many factors that play a part: More moisture is channelled to care for your baby, thus leaving you high and dry. With the little one inside you, your body temperature also tends to rise, thus literally getting you more hot-headed, stressed and itchy, thus triggering dry skin.

Pregnancy Skincare Woe #2: Dry Skin

Credit: Juliana Arruda

And the biggest contender (again): hormones. Oddly, those can’t seem to make up their mind between producing too much or too little sebum. Too little oil? You’re facing dryness and decreased elasticity. Too much? What else to do but to keep washing your face, right? Wrong. Washing your face too frequently can actually dehydrate the skin even more.

Skin Hacks: Water — lots of it. Aim for 12 cups a day. Hydrating lotions for milder cases; prescription treatments for severe ones. Warm (not hot!), comforting showers (and oatmeal baths, we hear) work wonders to calm your spirits and skin but don’t spend too long in there or your natural oils will start depleting. Get a humidifier for the bedroom. And our final, favourite trick: Get a high-grade, ultra-hydrating serum loaded with hyaluronic acid to quench your skin’s thirst.

 

 

PREGNANCY SKINCARE WOE #3: INCREASED SENSITIVITY
(YOUR SKIN IS BEING A BIGGER BABY THAN THE ACTUAL BABY)

As if acne and dry skin weren’t painful enough, your skin might be literally… in pain. The usual facials you go for might verge on painful, your face seems to get red more easily when you’re exfoliating, and your favourite scented lotion is now sitting on its lonesome on your dresser. Your skin is being a total baby.

Why?

… You guessed it. Hormones.

Skin Hacks: Gentle is the name of the game. Swap out scrubs (both for the face and body) for a loofah or a soft, textured washcloth. Switching to unscented / natural lotions and body washes could also help. Apply calamine lotion on itchy spots. Shun products that are heavy with additives, dyes, and / or fragrances, all of which can exacerbate the situation. When in doubt, always check in with your dermatologist, pharmacist or doctor.


“You certainly don’t want anything causing micro-tears on your skin… the more cuts and wounds on your skin, the easier it is for chemicals to be absorbed into your bloodstream. Ingredients to stay away from in soaps and body washes include triclosan, parabens and fragrance.”
| Melissa Schweiger, coauthor of Belli Beautiful: The Essential Guide to the Safest Health and Beauty Products for Pregnancy, Mom, and Baby

PREGNANCY SKINCARE WOE #4: (HYPER)PIGMENTATION
(AKA ITS SUPERHERO ALIAS, THE MASK OF PREGNANCY)

Aside from causing hormones to go a little (a lot?) out of whack, pregnancy also increases melanin production. Melanin is responsible for darkening of the skin, and you might be victim to dark patches.

The sun you used to love? That love might be long gone at this point. But it won’t be for ever… the melasma (another name for this pigmentation conundrum) usually fades after pregnancy.

Skin Hacks: If you weren’t religious about sunscreen before, it’s time to start now. An SPF of at least 25 to 30 would do half the trick; the other half would be for you to stay indoors as much as possible to reduce sun exposure. Physical and mineral sunblocks are your safest bets, as chemical sunscreens can irritate your sensitive skin + have potential risks. In more specific words, opt for protection that comes with titanium dioxide or zinc oxide.

PREGNANCY SKINCARE WOE #5: STRETCH MARKS
(YOU TIGRESS WHO BROUGHT LIFE TO THIS WORLD)

Pregnancy Skincare Woe #5: Stretch Marks

Credit: Chayene Rafaela

A good 50 – 90% of women get these in pregnancy. It isn’t curious—anytime a body grows at a rate at which the body can’t keep up with, these tiger stripes appear. These tend to come fastest in the final trimester when your baby grows the most.


“For most people, whether or not they get stretch marks has to do with genetic predisposition.”
| Glenn Kolansky, MD, a board-certified dermatologist

While there isn’t much you can do to prevent it, there are ways to reduce the risks of developing them (too much), including controlling your weight. Staying hydrated (at least 12 cups of water a day), and eating a healthy and balanced diet (think antioxidants, vitamins, leafies, fatty acids).

Skin Hacks: Thoroughly moisturize, especially areas which are most prone to these marks. These include your belly, boobs, stomach, hips and thighs.

Till the next Pregnancy Diaries post, stay true,


READ MORE STORIES HERE:

Skincare For Expectant Mothers: 10 Tips

Understanding Acne – Why Some Get It And Some Don’t

Layering Hydration the Right Way | #SkinHacks

Dry Skin Vs Dehydrated Skin – 3 Quick Tips | #SkinHacks

There, we’ve said it. The HA+ Hydrating Serum is the first of Porcelain’s new Intensive line of products, and we made it for the clients who inspired us to curate amazing ingredients into four specific complexes. Four, to help clients from all walks of life enjoy a hydrating serum that would be suitable for any skin type, any age, and any climate. But it took two years before we were ready to unveil it to the world.

The serum was first launched internally — as with any other product we have to ensure it works – before being sold in-store. Like Pauline said during our media launch just the 3rd of May, we run a tight ship with our products.

Porcelain's Intensive - HA+ Hydrating Serum is designed for anyone at any stage of their anti-ageing regime

Credits: Wear Oh Where

“Does this product deserve a space on your shelf?” 

We took two years to be able to say, hell yeah!

So here’s the story we wanted to share that we feel is more important than any blow-by-blow sales talk. Because hey, you can read that here. Instead, let’s talk about the story behind the HA+ Hydrating Serum. 

And that’s really our clients’ stories that we’re sharing. Every day, our clients talk to us. It goes beyond “How’s your day?” – beyond skin deep. Many tell us they have oily skin (but they’re really just dehydrated). A few struggle with how to properly moisturize dry skin.  The ultimate question that triggers our brainstorming frenzy:

“I can’t find anything out there that works for me; do you have a solution?”

The truth is, there are many incredible products out there with great anti-ageing benefits, or hydration, or acne control. And that was when it hit us – the keyword is “or”. There is a plethora of products in the market that specifically focus on just one or two main skin concerns. For example, there are many rich creams. Plenty that contain hyaluronic acid. Even more with ingredients that help boost collagen levels… But how many anti-ageing products had more benefits than just plumping up wrinkles? How many could be used by certain people that provide the benchmark of it being suitable for anyone and everyone – people with sensitive or even acneic skin?

“What gap are we trying to fill here?”

With that, out popped our latest flagship product, the HA+ Hydrating Serum – specially designed not just for anti-ageing and hydration, but also to combat acne (with good bacteria) and soothe and even heal sensitive skin. A product to fill out all that the “Ors” couldn’t – to fill the gap that our clients helped us realize was there.


To you.
 

Stay True and #StayHAdrated,
(AND shop the NEW HA+ Hydrating Serum at www.ShopPorcelain.com now),

READ MORE STORIES HERE:

Catch up with our previous #BareWithMe and #DearPauline interviews with Viola TanLucinda Law and Hanli Hoefer too.

#BAREWITHME: Viola Tan on Vulnerability

#INSIDERNEWS – #BareWithMe Campaign 2018

#DearPauline: Our Very Own Beauty Column!

If you’re like some of our clients who first walked through our doors, you might have the misunderstanding that hydration begins only when you’re slapping on moisturizer. Not true! Hydration should really be a part of every step of your skincare routine, including the first: pre-cleansing. Layering is a concept that’s been around for a while now, but many articles we’ve come across talk only about layering on moisturizers… which still focuses on the final step of your skincare ritual. And there’s so much more than that! Today, let’s talk about layering hydration the right way.

1. Layering hydration begins from cleansing

Your cleanser (and pre-cleanser) should help remove makeup and impurities while still injecting your skin with moisture. Love the squeaky-clean feel of your skin after cleansing? That’s not what you should be gunning for! Instead, your face should feel soft and supple after the first wash, as the former is a sure sign of skin that has been stripped of moisture. Look for pre-cleansers and cleansers that contain hydrating ingredients for a revitalizing and hydrating wash.

Ingredient Tip-off: Sodium Hyaluronate, coconut extracts, orchid extracts, aloe vera, cucumber.

2. Hydration continues every step after

Dehydrated skin means it’s more prone to build up and any moisture you want to flush your skin with simply won’t get through. Make room for it! Use a gentle exfoliator with natural plant enzymes and aloe extracts to soften dead skin cells while hydrating the skin.

You then follow with your essences, moisturisers, serums and toners… But wait, in which order? There IS a science to follow if you really want to be layering right.

3. The Golden Rule: Layer from lightest to heaviest

This applies to any skincare routine. After you cleanse and exfoliate, you want to work your way through the thinnest products first and build up to the thickest. Products that are less viscous have smaller particles, thus penetrating more easily and deeply into your skin. These mean your toners, essences and serums, followed by your moisturisers. Look for toners that contain hydrating ingredients like natural rose and jojoba oils and that you can use for a quick spritz throughout the day. Find serums that have hydration powerhouses like sodium hyaluronate and aloe vera to quench thirsty skin. Finally, end with moisturizers that also contain hydrating properties and hyaluronic acid to seal all that water within.

Ingredient Tip-off: Sodium Hyaluronate, aloe vera, hyaluronic acid, rose, jojoba

Credits: Steve Spangler

4. A Final Tip: Oils don’t moisturise; they seal

It’s an understandable misconception to think that heavier products are necessary to help dehydrated skin, but it is still a misconception. The truth is, when your skin needs water and you’re giving it oil instead, it’s going to become even more desert-like. Why? Oil keeps water out (or in, if you’d been diligent in your hydrating cleansing regime). Imagine adding heavy cream to a dry sponge – it wouldn’t be absorbed, right? Again, many clients have come to understand that dehydrated skin lacks water – not oil. If you are the kind who suffers from seemingly dry skin yet with overactive sebum glands, it’s a sure sign of dehydration but read more about that here.

A final note…

Layering tops up on moisture every single step so it’s a progressive journey for your skin. Instead of cleansing and toning methods that strip your face down into nothing before dumping a whole lot of moisturiser on again, taking it through a healthier exchange of removing oil while replenishing water helps achieve a balanced skin pH. Moreover, this helps to lock in moisture better!

Have you learnt the art of layering?

Stay True,


READ MORE STORIES HERE:

#DearPauline | Fuss-free Skincare Routines: How Long is Enough?

4 Ways to Ensure Your Body & Skin Are Hydrated

#SkinHacks: Dry Skin vs Dehydrated Skin – 3 Quick Tips