Additional reporting by Mitchelle Ang
By now you the music that is playing in shopping malls should be reminding you about the festive season that is just around the corner. Love it or hate it, you’ll suddenly be surrounded with lots of good food ranging from pineapple tarts to bak kwa. Sure, you can worry about weight gain during Chinese New Year, but here’s another problem that you may not have thought about as much: will your beautiful complexion be hurt?
How does CNY food affect our skin?
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“You are what you eat” is a cliche that we don’t mind heeding, because the food that we consume certainly has an impact on our our skin look. Here are some of the types of food we are likely to indulge in during Chinese New Year:
1. High sugar content: Pineapple tarts, chocolates, and peanut candies contain high level of sugar. Sugar leads to a spike in our insulin level, and can cause inflammation to happen throughout our body. Besides triggering acne, inflammation also produces enzymes that can make collagen and elastin (both are naturally occurring proteins in your skin that keep it looking taut and firm) to break down. Sugar in the bloodstream also leads to glycation, a process that also result in sagging skin.
2. Fried and oily: Love letters, prawn crackers, and other fried delicacies on your dining table can be irresistible. But they often contain too much omega-6s, which by the way, is essential to our health when consumed in moderation, and lead to inflammation. And we know what inflammation can do to our skin (see point 1). Besides inflammation, fried and oily food also often carry with them free radicals that destroy healthy skin cells, and are one of the top culprits to causing signs of ageing.
3. Alcohol: Alcoholic drinks dehydrates your skin and make dark eye circles more susceptible to appearing.
4. Processed foods: Processed foods such as meats are loaded with sodium, a key ingredient that cause water retention. This makes you look puffy, especially around your jawline and under the eyes.
But hey, there are several things you can do to save your skin
Here are tips that can come in handy. Hopefully as you glow at every visit, well-meaning relatives would stop asking you questions you don’t want to answer (“When are you getting married?”, “When are you going to have a baby?”) and turn to you for skincare tips instead!
1. Drink more water
We know that water is essential for life, but did you know it is essential for clear skin too? If you’ve been eating one too many love letters or bak kwa, perhaps you should reach for a glass of water as well. By flushing out the toxins in your system, water can help to attain the clear skin we covet after so much and fight sugar’s acne-causing tendencies. This is also especially important if you want to avoid water retention and to counteract the dehydrating properties of alcohol.
Inflammation is a key word that has been popping up when we shared about the effects of food in skin, and we know that inflammation can trigger acne and cause signs of ageing to appear. Exfoliation can help solve the first problem. Pimples can also be triggered when clogged pores are inflamed, so take clogged pores out of the equation by exfoliating your skin properly. If you haven’t been exfoliating regularly, perhaps you should remember to do it before you begin feasting.
3. Use an antioxidant product
To counter free radicals, use an antioxidant product (especially at night). This can come in the form of a vitamin C product or a vitamin E product. The former doubles up as a skin-brightener, while the latter is also anti-inflammatory.
4. Step up on facial massages
Facial massages can help draining away water retention in skin and around the eyes so they look less puffy. At the same time, the right facial massage techniques can also lift your skin and stimulate blood circulation, so it looks more radiant.
Give your skin an extra booster by pampering it with a mask. Use a clay mask if you feel that you need to purify it, or a hydrating one to improve its suppleness. Alternatively, if you have combination skin, consider multi-masking – apply different types of mask on different parts of your skin, depending on what it needs.
Speaking of beauty tips, have you wondered what celebrities and models swear by? We spoke to model Iman Fandi (daughter of Singaporean power duo Fandi Ahmad and Wendy Jacobs) to find out what’s in her bag. She also shares beauty tips that she picked up from her mum: