Viva Challenge: identify your beauty nemesis

I have been receiving a number of emails from readers who want me to advice them on the right products to use on their skin. Most of the time, these readers also have issues with acne. It’s very hard for me to suggest products for others to use especially when I do not know their skin type or understand their skin condition completely. In addition, I feel that products may only address these skin issues superficially as most of these problems are caused by deeper, underlying issues. Hence, I thought it’s a good idea to take stock of what’s our biggest beauty nemesis if we all want to have better skin. To get started, you need to identify what’s your biggest beauty concern and what you think is causing that problem.

Personally and I believe for others as well, harmful UV rays from the sun count as the topmost beauty nemisis. But that aside, here’s three of my biggest beauty nemesis:

Poor digestive system
As some of you know, I was breaking out frequently just two or three months ago. Since having my detox and changing my diet to include probiotics and fiber as well as avoiding processed food and sugar as far as possible, my digestive system has improved tremendously and my breakout has been under control. I still have the occasional pimples, but I no longer feel so agonized. In fact, when I see people plagued with acne, I really feel an urge to ask them about their diet.

Lack of sleep
Last week, I was struggling with my time and was in bed after midnight for most of the nights. The lack of sleep was taking a toll and the signs were telling on my face. My skin was also getting oilier but thankfully, I had no breakouts. This week, I’ve been able to sleep quite early by around 11pm and I can see a remarkable improvement; at least the dark circles under my eyes are not so evident.

Stress and unhappiness
My skin becomes dull and awful when I’m feeling stressed and unhappy. It doesn’t matter what I use on my face; there’s no glow nor radiance no matter what the products promise. In fact, I have to admit that I looked crappy when I was having my breakout because I was also terribly unhappy and upset with my skin.

Now over to you: what’s your beauty nemisis?

The thing about a nemesis is that it’s something we cannot conquer. But if we can at least identify them, then there’s a chance of trying to at least avoid their paths. (read: if we cannot conquer them or avoid them, then we just have to join them)

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  1. CT says:

    Lack of quality sleep & exercise. Exercises really do help my complexion glow.

  2. Sally says:

    For me, definitely the food I eat. I like to eat a lot of oily food. Have been trying to cut down but it’s difficult.

  3. ktee says:

    I would say unhealthy diet and state of mind.

  4. Astarte says:

    Parties are my beauty nemesis. Since I’m still a young person, I often (especially in summer) get invited to various parties. Loud music, alcohol and the smoke around doesn’t help one bit, in addition to that I’m usually very exhausted the next day from lack of sleep.

    That’s why I’m currently slowly trying to avoid unnecessary parties and trying to find non-alcoholic drinks that I could have during parties (one of current favourites is a mix of cherry, cranberry and lemon juice).

  5. Anita says:

    For me its emotional stress and lack of sleep. Last year a I had big emotional stress (moving to a new place / Breakup) and had the biggest skin problems ever since I was a teenager. It took me one year and going back to taking the pill to make my skin calm down again.

  6. pf1123 says:

    I think mine is mainly stress and late nights.

    Recently I find that I’m beginning to find that my eyes gets puffy with water retention in the morning. Getting lines at my under eye area as well as dark circles.

    When I am stressed, I find my face tensed up and I think its bad and will cause saggy skin.

  7. Rinka says:

    lack of sleep definitely makes me break out. im a typical sleep-deprived college student and i was wondering why i was getting big angry pimples when i usually manage it. i recently had semester break and was getting a good 9 hours sleep a night, and my skin looked great for the whole break. now ive just finished my first week back and i already have two pimples ?

    i think alcohol and unwise food choices also contribute, but i try to get 6-7 intakes of fruit and veg a day…

  8. chenyze says:

    i have the same digestive system issue… and i’ve been trying to cut down on oily food and processed food but! i can’t say no to chilli! more like there aren’t that many non-spicy items that are appetizing.. and what do you do when you just want a chocolately dessert? d=

  9. Jasmine says:

    ? I don’t sleep early, i never exercise, and I don’t eat well.

    I’m lucky I’m still young…

  10. sesame says:

    Quality sleep…yes, that’s quite a challenge! I try to exercise but I haven’t noticed the effects on my skin; it does help me feel more energetic though.

  11. sesame says:

    Oh ya, oily food is quite a nemesis for me too.

  12. sesame says:

    State of mind…that’s one for me. It’s good to stay positive. I would say an unhappy state of mind will effect how we look for sure.

  13. sesame says:

    Ah…that’s true for young ones. I used to party a lot in my younger days and geez…the drinking was bad for my skin. Plus, I sometimes didn’t wash my face well before I sleep.

  14. sesame says:

    Yes, agree that emotional stress is a big nemesis. But glad you managed to tackle the issue.

  15. yay says:

    personally for me is sleep & stress… lately a little bit of both is playing the role…

  16. sesame says:

    Aiyoh…such a coincidence cos I was looking at my eyes and geez, I’m looking at the same issues as you. Do you drink a lot of water in the night? I do and that causes puffiness in the morning. But the worst are the lines. I realized that I have a lot now! ?

  17. sesame says:

    Lack of sleep is quite a big killer for most of us. I find my skin secreting more oil when I don’t get to bed early.

  18. sesame says:

    Luckily for me, I don’t fancy desserts that much. I don’t eat a lot of cakes and stuff but I do crave for them sometimes. My daily sugar fix is prunes. That’s good for my digestive system too.

  19. sesame says:

    Oh yes, you’re lucky gal! ?

  20. chenyze says:

    hmmm wow, I never thought of prunes? Do you eat them fresh or preserved? any particular brands to recommend? I hardly find any that aren’t full of artificial preservatives and sweeteners )=

    i’m TRYING to go for dark chocolate and fruits more instead!

  21. sesame says:

    I eat Sunsweet pitted prunes. From what I can make of the label, it seems quite natural without added sugar. I’ve been eating that since I started my detox in March (about 1 to 1.5 tub per week) and it’s good; no problems like when I take refine sugar or chocolate. For chocolate, dark ones like those with 85% cocoa from Lindt are quite good. It’s a bit bitter but it gets better after you’ve acquired the taste.

    If you’ve digestive issues, I’ll recommend you take Kiwi fruit too. It’s great fibre.

  22. rsp2538 says:

    i think mine is all of them O_O…

  23. chenyze says:

    oh I do take Kiwis! at least once a week… depends on my mom’s marketing heh. I’ll look into Sunsweet then! Thanks for the tip (=

  24. Liesl says:

    Hot weather, sleep, stress, lack of exercise, poor digestive system and time of the month. Sounds like everything.

  25. jeanette says:

    wow that sums everything up for me as well.

  26. Jayme says:

    I think for me my nemessis is skin picking. I do it compulsively, which does create skin tone problems.

    i would be a million times happier with my skin if i didnt do that i am sure

  27. kt says:

    Lack of sleep, lack of exercise, and laziness.

    I hate having to remove mascara at night. It’s the longest thing everrrrr. And you hafta be careful so your lashes don’t pull out either. I wish they’d make something easier for such a lazy bum like me who just wants to pass out before bed. -__-

  28. pf1123 says:

    Yes…I think also because I’m sick for the past 2 weeks. With fever and all that, I must have water almost all the time.

    Exercising helps with the water retention. But I think only to a certain extend.

    Btw, I start to walk home from 1 MRT station away on Fitflops. I must say they really help to improve the shape of my legs. I used to not be able to stand the sight of my calves, especially the back of my knees. Because I thought they look abnormal. Very thick. But now I think they look better! ? But still not slim lah…but still already not bad. ?

  29. sesame says:

    It indicates sugar as 12g under nutrition table…I take it that it’s naturally derived from the prunes.

  30. sesame says:

    You might want to try tackling the issue of poor digestive system cos that’s something that will manifest into bigger skin problems later.

  31. sesame says:

    Hmm…perhaps work on the one that cause the most problem first.

  32. sesame says:

    I see…I guess sleep and stress is something we have to live with but perhaps you can do something about your digestive system.

  33. sesame says:

    Yes, that’s one major one for those with acne issues. I wish I didn’t pick mine too cos those cystic ones around my cheeks have left pitted marks.

  34. sesame says:

    Okay, I understand cos when you’re tired, you just want to go to bed without having to fuss with your face or lashes.

  35. sesame says:

    Oh your Fitflops help to improve the shape of your legs? That’s really interesting. I think it’ll help with consistent usage but I haven’t been wearing that much.

  36. pea says:

    This may be out of topic, but I’ve been using tea tree oil on my acne, but I’ve heard that oregano oil is amazing on acne/perhaps even more effective then tea tree?

    Have you tried out oregano oil? If so, what are your thoughts on it?

    – Thanks!

  37. pf1123 says:

    Yes. I’m unhappy with my legs as being bottom heavy really gave me great difficulty in getting pants.

    My problem is big thighs, big hips, a lot smaller waist and calves. Proportion is really out. Even though I exercise, proportion is still out. Very frustrating. Before Fitflops, I’m already walking and exercising with my normal track shoes. But not much results to improve my weight or shape up. However, with Fitflop, I notice the diff. So, I’m happier…even though I’m not lighter on the scale, but shaping up is important…easier to buy pants and also can wear nice and shorter dresses!!!

    I used to need my dress/skirt to at least cover the back of my knees to hide the inproportionality.

  38. Liesl says:

    I actually developed bad skin for about a year and a half. And suddenly one day I had a bout of bad gastric problems which lingered for a couple of months. At one point it gotten so bad I had to take about two weeks of complete rest at home. After which I was on medication for another half year or so. But ever since the gastric problem started, I’ve been watching my diet. Til now I’m rather careful about whatever I’m eating. My skin has improved tremendously. No more red flared up skin. My skin is clear now. However, this digestive problem tends to come up on and off especially when I’m stressed or having lack of sleep. It’s a real hindrance to my life but I guess I have to work it out slowly. Can’t be rushed.

  39. sesame says:

    Never tried oregano oil. But understand that it’s effective against acne but rather strong so if your skin is sensitive, you have to be careful using it.

  40. sesame says:

    That’s good because at least we know (based on your feedback and some readers’) that Fitflop does work! It’s quite expensive so it’s worth the price tag if you can get slimmer legs/calves.

    I am going to try a new stockings next week and see if it can really slim the legs. Will review it in time.

  41. sesame says:

    Yeah…it’s very frustrating. I never knew the pain of pple with acne issues until I had it myself. I battled with it for a good six to nine months and I had thought it was hormonal even. I’m glad I’ve arrested the problem without having to seek help from the dermatologist cos I don’t like superficial treatments.

    Just keep eating healthy and manage your stress level.

  42. Alisha says:

    in fact…after you told me to watch my diet and to stay away from dairy products. (cheek acne post) my acne actually went away when i stopped munching down cereal 24/7.

  43. Ann says:

    For me it seems it’s carbs n sugar…..n less water consumption on the top of it, knowing i shdn’t be doing this yet sometimes my laziness n hence bad skin wins ?

  44. sesame says:

    Oh that’s great! I’m glad you arrested the root cause. ?

  45. sesame says:

    Oh water…definitely! Our skin can become dry and parched when we’re not drinking enough water. That’s one of the most important intake to stay hydrated.

  46. jacy says:

    my nemesis would be

    not hydrating myself with sufficient water

    picking on my face especially the little bumps about my cheek

    lack of sleep

    obsession with exfoliation

  47. Jacintha says:

    I think the main culprit for me would be the blazing hot and humid weather in Singapore! I notice how my skin feels and looks much better when it is raining and when the weather is cooling.

  48. sesame says:

    Then you might need more hydration in terms of the products you use. Try using a face spritz but always pat dry with a tissue paper after misting your face so that it doesn’t become drier.

  49. sesame says:

    Ah…you need to try to exfoliate lesser. Too much may thin your skin. Once a week or so should be good enough unless the product you use is really gentle.

  50. Hayashi says:

    Hello Sesame,
    Mind to share how your detox program is?

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