“Joy is a decision, a really brave one, about how you are going to respond to life.” 

Wess Stafford.   

There is plenty of joy to be found in the journey to embracing one’s imperfections though few often see it: accepting our bumpy roads and missteps as invaluable learning experiences that pave the way for future greatness.     

Welcome to #MyimPerfection – a collection of real stories graciously shared by individuals on their path to embracing their true selves, unabashed and unmasked. 

This month, we listened in to what seemed like a familiar story – a battle with acne- but what lay underneath was a story of perseverance littered with the rare choice of joy. 

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The gloomy weather that afternoon had set the mood for a calm, mild and cosy conversation. This was quickly turned on its head when Esther arrived at Porcelain Origins. As she greeted the team around her, her beaming smile and chirpy tone instantly lifted the mood and put everyone at ease. Melodic laughter and lively conversation filled the spa as Esther got ready with our makeup artist. Her warm aura and infallible smile made it impossible to detect the true nature of her journey to embracing her imperfections. 

What is your imperfection? 

“I’ve been battling acne for a very long time and it really affected me. Subconsciously, when you have acne, you just don’t feel as comfortable. You wonder what others think of you: if they’re judging you or staring at your acne.”  

At the beginning of her skin journey, Esther’s skin knowledge was limited much like everyone else. This led her to rely heavily on the recommendations of her family and friends.  

“When I was younger, my friends would always point out what products had worked for them and seeing their flawless skin convinced me to try them out.”  

While trying and testing the wide variety of suggested solutions, Esther went for facials which begun to stabilise her condition. When her skin had finally gotten better, her acne reared its head again when she left for university overseas. The sudden reappearance had left Esther confused as she attempted to decipher the causes of this outbreak.   

“I wasn’t sure what the reason was and it came to a point where I decided to go to a doctor to get help.”  

Through her doctor, Esther was prescribed anti-biotics which had a positive effect on her skin. But she soon realised that it was not a long term solution as her acne resurfaced the moment her prescription was completed.   

Once more, Esther looked to her friends for help. Amongst the many mismatched recommendations and wasted, incompatible products, 2 had left their mark on her. While overseas, Esther was sold on a trending clay mask that was gaining traction for its ability to deeply remove oils and congestion. Though she had not realised it then, the mask had over-exfoliated her skin, causing it to become sensitive. Believing in her friends’ advocacy of the product, Esther continued to give it a go in hopes that it would alleviate her growing list of issues.   

“It took me a while to actually realise that the product was making things worse and I don’t think I would ever want to touch it again.”  

The second was laser treatments. In 2017, Esther decided to laser treatments a try, once more with the endorsement of her friends. Though she was apprehensive about the invasive nature of the procedure, she decided to go along with it as her friends’ saw good results from their experiences. 

Though her initial instincts were correct, she carried on with the treatments only for her skin to increase in sensitivity, to the point where a simple cleanse would cause spots to flare up.   

Finally, a recommendation that worked… 

Even though her skin journey thus far had been littered with ineffective solutions, Esther still chose to continue her search for the right solution that would one day provide her with the joys of healthy skin. 

After completing her university studies overseas, Esther returned home to hear the final recommendation that would change her skin for years to come.   

“I was introduced to Porcelain by my brother.”  

During his time in SMU, Esther’s brother had been involved in a competition in which Porcelain was a participating brand. Through that experience, he found out about Porcelain’s approach and decided to recommend it to Esther who was searching for an effective remedy. Given that she had yet to find the skincare solution that worked for her, Esther decided to give Porcelain a shot.  

“Though I was with Porcelain for a few months, I saw improvements in my skin. Even my friends and colleagues around me said I looked and felt more confident.”   

Even when she went overseas for an extended time or experienced maskne in recent times, Esther was able to restabilise her skin and enjoy the confidence that healthy skin brought.  

Despite the roller coaster ride of trial and error that would have stumped many, Esther chose to face them with a smile in hopes that one day, she would soak in the joys of having healthy skin.   

A piece of advice for my younger self: 

“Don’t just jump into any skincare products without properly understanding your skin and educating yourself on skincare.” 

Esther’s Favourites: 

“I recently tried Illuminate and really enjoy that treatment.” Much like Cellin & Mei Ying, Esther’s journey with Porcelain started with the Quintessential and OxyRevive but as her skin improved and progressed beyond acne, she ventured out to give different facials a try. 

Hydro Cleanser and Glycolic Toner are my staples. I began using Hydro Cleanser when I started my journey at Porcelain and I have not switched it since then. The Glycolic Toner always leaves my skin feeling refreshed. Plus, it helps with exfoliating your skin without making it feel too dry.” 

The Porcelain Difference: 

“It’s definitely the effectiveness. That is something that I personally stand by because it’s proven itself over the years for me.” 

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We would like to thank Esther for sharing her magnetic personality and refreshingly cheer. We hope it sheds a comforting light on your journey to embracing your own imperfections. Know that your beauty is more than meets the eye and is a result of your unique experiences. We will always be here to journey with you as you embrace them.   

LOVE, PORCELAIN. 

Acids – some love them, some fear them and others just are not sure what to do with them. Regardless of your relationship with them, we are here to demystify acids and simplify your selection and inclusion process for healthier skin! 

Credit: Karolina Grabowska 

What are Acids? 

Acids are some of the most beneficial skincare ingredients readily available. Additionally, they come in many forms – from Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs), Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHAs) to the increasingly popular Polyhydroxy Acids (PHAs) – to provide a whole host of different benefits for various needs. But despite their varying benefits, all acids act as exfoliators to the skin.   

AHAs vs BHAs vs PHAs – What’s the Difference? 

Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) 

AHAs work on the surface to break the bonds between the outer layer skin cells, removing dead skin cells and revealing new skin. They are water-soluble, making it harder for it to penetrate the skin. Additionally, they are hydrophilic (aka they attract water molecules). This helps the skin retain more water to feel bouncy and hydrated.  

AHAs also make your skin much more sun-sensitive – thus, if you are adding AHAs to your morning routine, SPF is a must. Typically, higher concentration AHAs are more powerful and penetrative.   

AHAs are great for:  

  • Treating mild acne  
  • Lighten post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, acne marks, age spots and other skin discolourations  
  • Increase collagen and elastin production for reduced wrinkles and fine lines 

Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHAs) 

BHAs also exfoliate the topmost layer of skin, penetrate deeper to exfoliate excess oil within pores and breakdown deep-set congestion. They are oil-soluble, allowing it to penetrate deeper into the skin. Unlike AHAs, BHAs do not attract water molecules. This can result in a drying effect for non-oily skin types. On top of that, BHAs do not make the skin more sun-sensitive, but SPF is still a non-negotiable in your morning skincare routine. Lastly, contrary to AHAs, a higher concentration of BHAs does not mean better results. In fact, BHAs are most effective at low concentrations of 2%-4%  

BHAs are great for:  

  • Soothing inflammation and its anti-bacterial properties  
  • Treating moderate to severe acne  
  • Lighten post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, acne marks, age spots and other skin discolourations 

Polyhydroxy Acids (PHAs) 

Lastly, PHAs. PHAs are made of several hydroxyl groups, providing them with unique properties that differentiate them from AHAs and BHAs. PHAs are also the gentler alternatives to AHAs. Their larger molecule size allows them to stay on the surface layers of skin to exfoliate dead skin cells. They also share AHA’s hydrophilic properties – allowing them to help retain more water in the skin. Their gentler nature also allows them to be a friendlier alternative for dry or sensitive skin types.   

PHAs are great for:  

  • Exfoliating dry or sensitive skin types  
  • Soothing inflammation and has anti-oxidant properties  
  • Combatting glycation – a process that weakens collagen and elastin in your skin  

Overall, acids are great tools to fight acne, wrinkles, pigmentation spots, scarring and uneven skin tones. 

Credit: Karolina Grabowska 

Dos & Don’t of Using Acids 

Do: Use in Toners, Serums or Moisturisers 

Acids tend to work best when left on the skin for long periods. Thus, the most effective forms of acids are toners, serums or moisturisers. This is not to say that cleansers containing acids are ineffective, but they have less time to work their magic on your skin if they are washed off in under a minute.   

Don’t: Use Too Many or Too Strong Acids 

Although most AHAs work best at higher concentrations, it does not mean you should start stocking up on the highest concentrations of acids. It is important to remember that all acids are exfoliators. If you experience dull, lacklustre skin, using a wide variety of concentrated acids may sound ideal, but over-exfoliating can cause skin care problems (burns, dryness, acne and sensitivity)   

Instead, start small. Incorporate 1 to 2 acids at lower concentrations gradually in your skincare routine and allow your skin time to grow a tolerance. 

Do: Pair Acids with SPF 

AHAs and PHAs will cause your skin to become sun-sensitive. Thus, SPF is a non-negotiable. Even though BHAs do not cause sun-sensitivity, building the routine of using SPF daily protects your skin from much more. 

Do: Pair Correctly 

Skincare is like chemistry – curating and creating special regimes for healthy skin. However, not all chemicals are meant to be together. Here are the most commonly mismatched pairs. 

AHAs/BHAs/PHAs + Retinoids 

With Retinoids being a powerful active ingredient that encourages skin renewal, adding a chemical exfoliant can cause skin irritation and sensitivity. Furthermore, pairing AHAs/PHAs with Retinoids can cause the Retinoid to oxidise. This makes it less effective. 

BHAs + Benzoyl Peroxide 

Benzoyl Peroxide and Salicylic Acid (a BHA) are highly loved ingredients amongst those who suffer from acne. However, when used together, it can result in additional skincare problems. Both Benzoyl Peroxide and Salicylic Acid exfoliate the skin and help remove excess oil within the pores. This will cause the skin’s pH levels to be out of balance (not sure what skin pH is? Click here and find out!) The imbalance paired with over-exfoliation will result in redness, irritation, sensitivity and more.   

AHAs + Vitamin C 

Vitamin C is very pH sensitive. This means that any drastic changes in its pH would affect its efficacy. With AHAs typically being used at higher concentrations, it can alter the pH level of Vitamin C. Furthermore, both Vitamin C and AHAs work to increase cell renewal rate and exfoliate. Thus, it may cause the skin to become irritated and sensitive.   

Acid Glossary:  

With the number of acids readily available, here’s a quick summary on the most common types and their benefits.  

AHAs:  

Citric Acid: derived from citrus fruits, it is often used alongside other acids to provide an optimal environment for effectiveness. It is also used for its antioxidant properties.  

Glycolic Acid: derived from sugar and it has one of the smallest molecules in AHAs found in skincare. This allows it to penetrate deep that other AHAs and thus, makes it one of the strongest AHAs. Therefore, it is best to use a lower percentage initially.  

Lactic Acid: derived from dairy, it is a form of AHA that should be avoided by those with milk allergies. Its molecule size is larger than Glycolic Acid, making it a gentler alternative for most people.   

Malic Acid: most commonly derived synthetically, Malic Acid molecules are larger than both Glycolic Acid and Lactic Acid. This makes its penetration slower. Malic Acid is also a fantastic supplementary AHA alongside Glycolic or Lactic Acids at low concentrations.  

Mandelic Acid: derived from almonds, it is a form of AHA that should be avoided by those with nut allergies. With larger molecules that Lactic Acid, it makes Mandelic Acid a great AHA for sensitive skin.   

Tartaric Acid: most commonly derived synthetically, Tartaric Acid’s molecule is almost double of Glycolic Acid’s. This makes it most efficient at exfoliating the topmost layer of the skin.   

BHAs:  

Salicylic Acid: Salicylic Acid is the most commonly used BHA in skincare. Derived from many different sources, Salicylic Acid penetrates deeper than AHAs to breakdown oil buildup and congestion in pores.  

PHAs:  

Lactobionic Acid: derived from dairy, it should be avoided by those with milk allergies. With molecule sizes greater than Glycolic Acid, it makes Lactobionic Acid less able to penetrate the skin. This makes it a gentler alternative for sensitive skin.   

Gluconolactone: derived from Gluconic Acid (a naturally occurring acid in mammals and corn), it is often used to support other ingredients – much like Citric Acid. 

That’s all! Ready to give acids a try?  

Make our Glycolic Toner a part of your nightly routine! With low yet effective percentages of Glycolic Acid and Lactic Acid paired with the deeply hydrating Sodium Hyaluronate, this toner will gently brighten your skin why hydrating it thoroughly. 

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