skincare, sweets, and Oxford commas

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Monday, November 14, 2016

4 skincare tips for your next tropical getaway

Off to the tropics? The sand, sun, and salty air are energizing but can wreak havoc on your skin if you're not careful. Here are 4 ways to keep your skin healthy so you can enjoy your vacation to the fullest.

Greetings from the Philippines! I'm currently in Manila after spending a week on the island of Palawan. If you ever visit Palawan, definitely check out Nacpan Beach: with feathery soft sand and fluorescent blue water, it's a beach lover's paradise. The water is warm and perfect for swimming (this was especially nice because I'm used to freezing water at beaches in Northern California). They also sell fresh bukos (young coconuts) on the shore—and nothing says "vacation" like sipping juice straight out of a coconut on the beach.

Palawan is a dreamy paradise for swimming and coconut-drinking.
These photos don't do Nacpan Beach justice - it's even more spectacular in person. I loved swimmming and drinking buko (young coconut) juice on the shore.

In addition to gorgeous beaches, Palawan (like most tropical destinations) has a lot to offer on the activities front: snorkeling, ziplining, hiking, scuba-diving, kayaking. Whether you're beach-bumming or going on active excursions, you don't want a sunburn, breakout, or other annoying skin issue to slow you down. Here are 4 easy ways to keep your skin healthy and radiant so you can enjoy your tropical getaway to the fullest.

1) Protect your skin from the sun
Sun protection should be a priority whether you're on vacation or not. But it's especially important when you're in the tropics, where UV rays are more intense. To protect your skin, apply waterproof sunscreen every morning all over your face and body, reapply every 2 hours (my husband didn't reapply when we were island hopping in Palawan and ended up with a raging red sunburn all over his back), and wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses whenever you're on dry land.

For my face, I love MD Crème Mineral Beauty Balm Broad Spectrum SPF 50 Sunscreen, and I've been slathering Coppertone Sport Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50 on my body every day. So far, no sunburns!

If you do end up with a sunburn, apply aloe vera gel before bedtime (I use Banana Boat's Aloe Vera Gel) to cool down the burn and speed up the healing process.

Keep your skin protected from the sun with sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat. Here we are with our sun gear in Palawan!
On the left: Brought my handy-dandy camping hat with me to the beach.
On the right: The sun shines so bright in Palawan, it's hard to find a photo of us *not* wearing sunglasses.

2) Keep bugs away
Mosquitoes and other pests love the tropics as much as humans do. Keep them away by layering bug repellant (I like Off's Unscented Insect Repellant) over your sunscreen. You can also wear these citronella wristbands for extra protection, but to be safe, I'd recommend using them in addition to the traditional repellant (not as a replacement); also note they have a strong, noticeable citronella scent. Warding off mosquitoes is especially critical now because Zika is a very real threat in most tropical areas, including the Philippines.

3) Wear water shoes
I was horribly unprepared for the sharp underwater rocks en route to some of the beaches, snorkeling areas, and waterfalls we visited. Because tropical excursions often require you to step in and out of water, I highly recommend bringing a pair of rubber-soled water shoes that will protect your feet and dry quickly, not weighing you down in case you need to swim (I've linked a highly-reviewed pair of water shoes I found on Amazon that I'll bring on my next snorkeling trip). Flip-flops are prone to slipping off and don't protect the tops or sides of your feet, and tennis shoes retain too much water and take forever to dry.

In case you do get cuts on the bottoms of your feet as I did, clean out the wound with cool soap and water, apply an antibiotic ointment like Neosporin, and patch it up with a 2nd Skin bandage, which is super waterproof yet sheer. It's held onto my foot so far through a handful of snorkeling and swimming excursions.

These waterfalls and lagoons were gorgeous, but I ended up with some cuts on my feet because I forgot to bring water shoes.
On the left: We hiked to Nagkalit-kalit Falls wearing flip flops, which was a bad idea because we had to step through rivers where there were sharp rocks.
On the right: Gorgeous lagoon also full of sharp underwater rocks. Will definitely bring water shoes next time!

4) Maintain your skincare regimen
Even though I'm thousands of miles away from home, I'm still following the lazy girl skincare regimen to keep my acne and wrinkles at bay. The climate here is more humid than it is in San Francisco, but I moisturize twice a day nonetheless (otherwise the Retin-A will make my skin flaky).

A few weeks before I left for my vacation, I also started taking 50 mg of dermatologist-prescribed spironolactone daily to reduce oiliness and acne, which was starting to get out of hand especially around that time of the month. The spironolactone has helped my skin a ton, but it's not without its side effects. I'll be writing about my experience with spironolactone in a future post.

We're off to Taiwan tomorrow, where I plan to stockpile my favorite Asian skincare products and stuff my face with noodles. Stay tuned for updates 😃
Saturday, November 5, 2016

Breakout-free workouts: 6 tips for clear skin

Jen on a run. Read on to find out how she keeps her acne-prone skin clear after an intense sweat sesh.

More energy, better health, toned muscles, more endorphins...the list goes on when it comes to the benefits of exercise. An active lifestyle can also add variety to your social calendar (mine would be all eating and drinking were it not for the occasional hike I do with friends...).

I love a great sweat sesh as much as any basic San Francisco bitch. But as someone with sensitive skin, I've come to terms with a harsh reality of staying fit: sweat-induced acne.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, when you exercise, sweat mixes with the bacteria, oil, and dirt on your skin's surface. That mixture settles into your pores, clogging them and causing breakouts, both on your face and body. LOVELY.

But whatever the skincare risk, the benefits of exercise far outweigh the costs. So no need to worry when you hit the gym–just follow these tips to keep the acne at bay:

1) Start your workout with a clean face. Best way to mitigate that sweat-activated cocktail of bacteria, oil, makeup, and dirt? Take makeup out of the equation. If you're rushing off to the gym right after work, keep some makeup-removing wipes (I love Olay Makeup Remover Wet Cloths) in your gym bag. Gently blot your face before you break a sweat, and you'll be good to go.

2) Invest in breathable, sweat-wicking fabrics. Especially for longer workouts, having sweat build up under your clothes while you move around is a classic recipe for acne mechanica, or friction-induced acne. You can prevent acne mechanica by keeping your skin ventilated and sweat-free. Workout fanatics and yogis go gaga over the sweat-wicking fabrics at Athleta and Lululemon, but I've also had luck with more affordable pieces at Target, Forever 21, and Amazon.

3) Shower within 20 minutes after your workout. You want to give the sweat as little time as possible to join forces with the bacteria and oils on your skin, so treat yourself to a shower as soon as you can after you exercise. Post-workout, I get especially excited to indulge in a deliciously scented body wash like Happy Bath's Grapefruit Sparkling Ale or Softsoap Juicy Pomegranate & Mango. Do a double-cleanse on your face for bonus points.

4) In a rush post-workout? Blot off excess moisture for the time-being. If you don't have time to shower after you exercise, gently blot sweat from your face and body with a clean, damp towel or facial wipe. Make sure you blot rather than rub to avoid friction-induced acne mechanica. And always always always take a full shower as soon as you have the opportunity: while convenient, a wipe should never completely replace a legit face cleanser or body wash.

5) Exfoliate weekly. Sift through workout-induced sebum and dirt left in your pores by exfoliating your face once a week (not more often, as over-exfoliating can leave skin raw and cause irritation). Exfoliation (using granules to remove dead cells from the skin's surface) leaves skin fresh and less susceptible to that sweat/bacteria/dirt mixture I talked about earlier in this post. My favorite exfoliants are Skin Food's Black Sugar Mask and Natural Aqua Gel Cure.

6) Take care of your skin in general. Follow the Lazy Girl Skincare Regimen to prevent acne from forming, and treat existing pimples overnight with CosRX Acne Pimple Master Patches.

I hope these recommendations save you from the headache of sweat-induced acne! I promise you it's worth it to exercise: you'll feel more energized, develop more grit and strength (physically and mentally), and ultimately have a more balanced, happier life. In the long run, a healthy, toned body will yield healthier, less-stressed skin. So every time you have the opportunity to exercise, go for it!