My Skincare Journey: Facial Hair, Sun Damage, Aging Prevention, and Colorism in the Asian Community

Can you believe that the end of summer is ALREADY HERE? Holy smokes, people. That is applicable in almost a literal sense because part of Northern California has been in flames. It is incredibly unfortunate to see part of our proximate home being decimated, wildlife being eradicated off the face of the Earth, and so many lives at stake as a consequence. Please refer to this link if you have the means to donate and give back.

Back to the post at hand–that’s right, we will discuss everything skincare. Now, I just want to articulate and acknowledge that I am not a dermatologist, esthetician, or any kind of practitioner in the beauty field. I personally do not know any and have never seen a dermatologist, hence all of my information here are due to my own learning evolvement and experiences. My tips and stories might not resonate with the circumstances you currently have or used to endure. Please see a professional if you have any specific questions mandating diagnosing.

Now, before I get into my routine, it’s best to break down how I first dipped my toes into the skincare pool, starting off with when I began blogging!

2014-2016: In my latter half of high school through my transition to university, I did not know SH!T about skincare. I only knew of three steps: wash, moisturize, wear sunscreen, and for me in particular, wax off your excess upper lip hair and eye brow hair. However, I could spend hours and HOURS about my day not showering right after a super sweaty workout, would forget to apply sunscreen for several days in extremely hot climate, and only wash my face once a day. My mother would constantly badger us to cover our faces in the sun and wear sunscreen before stepping outside. My moisturizers and face washes were those of brands my mother used–specifically, very old brands like Shiseido, Neutrogena, and Origins. Amidst all this, I suffered from very little acne and signs of premature aging due to my natural skin type at the time. My most prominent insecurity was, hands down, my facial hair, but that’s really all I fixated on.

2017-2018: In the winter of 2016 and 2017, I was still quite pale from the lack of sun. Once summer struck, I started noticing my prominent tanning process and actually thought it looked quite attractive! My arms and torso looked more toned and the color change around my face functioned as a natural contour while slightly concealing my facial hair. I spent MUCH more time in the sun and only applied one layer of sunscreen, hardly re-applying, no shades on my face–I seemed to gain a new freckle almost every single three to four days. Keeping this up in 2018 as well, I found it quite easy to maintain my new tan throughout the fall and winter just because I exposed myself more often outside. I still used whatever my mother gave me, but I did try to make more of an effort to research and experiment more with cruelty free items.

2019-present: Around the beginning of 2019, I started learning more about the whole anatomy of skincare. Currently, we are witnessing this transition into emphasizing brands that utilize less synthetic ingredients and more ethical forms of testing and manufacturing, which is absolutely fantastic! I started following more skincare experts on social media–both dermatologists, pharmacists, surgeons, and skincare product creators–to completely immerse myself in the facts. My sunscreen resides in my purse and I began practicing daily face washing (I LOVE Korean beauty!), weekly masks and exfoliation, and very budget-friendly and non-surgical methods of skin care that focuses on waste reduction. Still, I do have some ambitions on getting microneedling, BUT that is still to be determined. My focuses with nourishing my skin encompass anti-aging and hydration goals with a slant on ensuring it looks energized and supple–all with an emphasis on clean beauty, but there is research underscoring that the movement as a whole isn’t necessarily authentic in their claims against synthetic skincare ingredients.

MY SKIN TYPE

I will be the first to say that my skincare journey is not nearly as tremendous like my weight loss journey. In fact, I acknowledge that I am quite blessed in the skin arena. There are so many individuals who deal with severe acne, cystic acne, and much more on a daily basis. My pimple and acne crises are very few and far between–probably only 2-16 times a year, to be quite frank. It’s 100% genetics and the fact that my mother loathes the sun and has given me high quality skincare products to wash and moisturize my face with. As for my skin type, it’s not sensitive, not oily, but relatively normal while erring on the side of dryness.

Because of how naturally clear and (somewhat) youthful my skin has always been, my ambitions to start managing it with more finesse and caution was received with some backlash. Kid you not, my parents and I have had some fights about the situation.

Why are you watching videos about skincare?? You don’t have acne! This is so silly!!!

“I don’t, but acne’s not the only issue. There’s also hyper pigmentation, premature wrinkles, eczema, sun damage…”

What do you mean ‘premature wrinkles’?? You’re 22, not 52! What’s the point?!

“Well, I genuinely like learning about the science of skincare. My skin is part of my body and I want to take good care of it and prevent as many forms of aging and infection as possible because I’m young and aware of it.”

You do NOT want to hear the conversation we had about preventative Botox and microneedling. Having said that, my stance on receiving cosmetic surgery has loosened quite a bit; it is always an option, but not the end-goal. There’s no rush and it’s most certainly not set in stone.

WHAT I DO

  • Facial waxing: this is a practice I do every time I return home in Los Angeles when my mother has the means to wax off my facial hair for me. It’s a wonderful way to remove the hair follicles from their roots and penetrate deep there to ensure they do not grow back super quickly. We have tried several methods from sugaring and conventional waxing kits.
  • Shaving: All around my armpits, my legs (well, I mean, once every two years…), and my face. That’s right. MY FACE. Because nail salons are closed nowadays, waxing is not a viable option and I do NOT want to risk my health trying it at home! I’ve invested in a small facial razor and it’s been a game changer! Even though I still have to tweeze after finishing, it is much less messy and painful than waxing!
  • Face mask cream: I absolutely ADORE face masks in the form of cream. They feel extremely comfortable and are more sustainable than paper masks. Personally, I find I don’t need a HUGE layer of them to achieve tighter and/or cleaner skin after one use. I tend to reach for creams that center around anti-aging, nothing for acne elimination or soothing.
  • Sun protection: Wearing my SPF 50+ sunscreen and my hat are non-negotiables, even when the sun doesn’t appear to be present. UVA (premature aging rays) and UVB (skin cancer rays) can sneak their way into the environment without us knowing, so it’s always best for me to be safer than sorry.
  • Korean beauty: There is no denial that South Korean beauty has taken the skincare and makeup (but mostly skincare) industries by storm! There is a rich history in the evolution of cosmetics dating back eons ago and the way overall beauty standards have shaped skincare and cosmetic marketing in the country (anti-aging practices began amongst girls as young as eleven!!!). I truly resonate with the centralization of preventative aging because my skin looks the best when they possess the qualities attributed to younger skin–suppleness, smoothness, clarity, etc.
  • DIY. LOTS of DIY: I’m talking rubbing green tea on my face. I’ll mix avocado, sesame oil, and lemon juice for a face mask. Even leftover tomato juice and water I’ve sauteed kale and spinach in to not waste the liquid and reap the water-soluble vitamins inside (yes, the water still has the nutrients! YAY!)! It’s a wonderful way for me to use food scraps and be thrifty while nurturing towards my body.
  • Sleep: it figures, but eight hours of sleep a night is a non-negotiable, both for my epilepsy and for my health, including skincare.
  • Hydration: I drink about 2-3 liters of water a day, but this may be too much for some! Again, do what works best for you, but there is no harm in drinking a little more water!
  • Lots of nutrient dense foods: just how you can’t outrun a bad diet, you can’t out-wash it either. Make sure you consume a balanced, healthy, and nutrient-packed diet as often as possible, filled with vegetables, protein, healthy fats, fruits, starches, and legumes.

WHAT I SPLURGE ON

  • Facial peels: The Dr. Dennis Gross universal daily peels feel PHENOMENAL. I genuinely could use a whole warehouse of them! I don’t utilize them frequently, of course, but if I were to do so, I’d probably one every other day or maybe even 5-6 times a week depending on strength, but I’d stick to the universal peels instead of he stronger ones.
  • Threading: One of my FAVORITE forms of hair removal. It’s effective, efficient, and feels super satisfying. It’s a service I DEFINITELY cannot trust myself to perform!
  • Sheet face masks: I find that paper face masks are pretty wasteful because you have to discard them AND their excess packaging after each use, but I love them if I receive them as a gift!

MY SKINCARE BUCKET LIST

  • Microneedling: for collagen stimulation, 100%. I WISH there was a vegan collagen supplement, but alas, there is not a viable one that is as effective as animal-derived collagen. This is the closest procedure I’d utilize to cosmetic surgery.

COLORISM IN THE ASIAN COMMUNITY

Now, for the elephant in the room: colorism. The graphic below explains this subject quite well, but yes, just like the Black community, the Asian community deals with colorism due to the drastic appearance-based variations amongst the regions in Asia–that is, West Asia, East Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, Southwest Asia, etc., because the continent is so darn big.

What does this have to do with skincare and with me? As a Southeast Asian, I’ve been paler than bedsheets and I’ve also been tanner than ever. Subtly, I’ve been treated differently by the general public and some of my older relatives due to being tan versus appearing pale. I felt more respected at my summer jobs when I had pale skin versus tan skin since I’d become pale, then tan, sometime in the earlier half of my work. This may be due to people subconsciously assuming my ethnicity or socioeconomic class. Either way, the variation was clear.

I acknowledge my privilege as a light-skinned Asian as well as my privilege as East Asian-passing (seriously, people have struggled to guess my ethnicity time and time again with them answering “Korean” first and “Japanese” second). There are Asians out there who naturally have much darker skin and would need lightening creams to achieve a paler look. It is much more directly damaging to one’s health when using lightening creams versus spray tanning or going out in the sun (though tanning beds are pretty awful). I beg you, DO NOT USE LIGHTENING CREAMS. People have been sent to jail for selling them due to how dangerous there are!

There are so many negative stereotypes and preconceived notions about dark-skinned people: “menacing, ugly, dangerous, incompetent, and of poor social standing” are just a handful of many. Some are antiquated and some are part of our human psyche, the latter requiring more mental work to break. Consequently, those with dark skin may feel less beautiful and worthy of acceptance and respect, which absolutely isn’t true. Many solutions can be enacted to diminish, if not exterminate, its presence. It starts with more representation of dark-skinned individuals as positive role models and heroic figures, not villains or antagonists.

There might be a follow-up! I’m sure I did not cover every single topic, but there is so much I want to learn about skincare and this is just my experience thus far!


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