Answering your questions

I live for this shit

Okay, so a few of you posted Q’s on the open thread and I’ve been a bit busy so couldn’t answer as they popped up. But since they are relevant to everyone, for the most part, I figured I’d just do this here little Q&A.

Incidentally about the open thread: If you (like me) get really annoyed at an email popping into your inbox every time someone comments on a thread - please be aware that you can click on “Mute This Thread” in any of the comment emails that come to you. (I get annoyed NOT because I mind people talking to me, but because I have a real mental problem with Unread Message counters/indicators, they make me insane, it’s a long story and an absurd fixation but it’s mine. I just mute the thread but keep the original email in my inbox so it reminds me to go back and look at the thread, but anyway that’s me and my issues, MOVING ON.) Also you can always email support@substack.com if you have technical problems, because they will be more help than me for sure. Okay, end of housekeeping, on to the Q&A!


Why is Pyunkang Yul Balancing Gel black magic?

Okay, not really a question, but Katee commented that the Pyunkang Yul Balancing Gel has made her look all glowy, so I looked it up. It’s like 90% Astragalus Membranaceus root extract - which is also called milk vetch or huangqi. It’s an herb that’s been used for ages in Chinese medicine, but there’s not a ton of research on it. However, what research there’s been shows that it’s a very good antioxidant that also increases telomerase activity (telomeres shorten and stop functioning with age, so goosing them is an attempt to reverse cellular aging) while decreasing UV-induced melanin production. Which sounds great, but all the studies I could find are about this herb as a supplement, not as a topical application.

So the science is still out, I think, but Katee’s experience sure as shit has me curious, and I’ve put this one on my wishlist. Pyunkang Yul is a really interesting brand that I’ve only tried a few samples from, and I’d really like to try more, so this is a perfect excuse. Thanks Katee!

How do you avoid the “sunscreen in the eyes” problem? Would a mineral sunscreen avoid that problem?


A mineral sunscreen would help to keep your eyes from stinging, but it wouldn’t necessarily be any less likely to run in your eyes - it’d just be a bit less painful if it did so. And that’s a good tip in general for anyone with sensitive eyes: use a mineral sunscreen around the eye area if not on the whole face. The best thing I can recommend to avoid sunscreen in the eyes is a water-resistant sunscreen. They can feel very unpleasant on the face, like they’re bulletproof of something and your skin starts feeling claustrophobic, but the answer again is to use it just around the eyes and then use something more pleasant outside of the orbital bone.

Alternatively, Supergoop has put out cream eyeshadows with SPF, so you can protect your lids - and the texture is such that it’s less likely to run into your eyes. But if you regularly sweat, you need a sweat-proof, water-resistant product. The ones I’ve heard are good (from a couple of sporty friends) are Blue Lizard Sport, Bullfrog Quick Stick, and Supergoop Everyday Sunscreen. Whatever you try, steer clear of any with alcohol and be wary of any with fragrance, as these tend to do the most stinging. Good luck, and report back if you find something that works!


Is there a recommended best way to apply Paula’s Choice BHA exfoliator? Do I put it on the cotton pad and dab it on my skin or swipe it?

I’m assuming you’re asking about the liquid (as opposed to the gel or lotion), which is what I use and for many many years I put it on a cotton pad and swiped it. Then a few years ago, I ran out of cotton balls and just used my bare fingers and guess what? It’s easy, saves product, and is more eco-friendly than a pile of cotton balls. So basically, I apply it like I apply a serum: few drops onto my fingertips, wipe said fingertips across my face. Voilà. But yeah, as long as it gets on your face, it really doesn’t matter how.


Acne, or perioral dermatitis?

So Keira and Laura had a nice back and forth about the possibility of small, persistent acne around the chin/mouth that may or may not be periorial dermatitis. Major kudos to Laura for suggesting it might be pd! It’s something more people need to know about, because treating it like acne just makes it worse. One key to knowing that it’s not acne, along with the acne treatments being useless, is to look for flaking - dry flakiness tends to come along with the pd rash.

You really need a dermatologist for this, or at least a doctor who can prescribe Metrocream, which is unfortunately not OTC. (It also comes in gel form - Metrogel, maybe? - but I hear the gel doesn’t work.) Don’t be tempted to put hydrocortisone or other topical steroids on it since they only work temporarily, from what I hear. In the meantime, you have to REALLY baby your skin until it totally clears up. No exfoliating, stop with the Differin, no fragrance or alcohol in anything, and ONLY use gentle cleansers and good barrier repairing moisturizer. Perioral Dermatitis is a breakdown of the barrier function, see, and it will take time to repair the barrier. The CeraVe Moisturizing Cream (in the tub) is going to be very helpful, as is La Roche Posay’s Cicaplast Baume. Good luck!


Would love more info about travel and travel-sized bottles. What do y'all use? How do you get product from a big bottle into a little one?

I have cobbled together a series of bottles and jars from various travel toiletry sets over the years. I also often re-use wee tubes and jars that once contained skincare samples - very handy! You can always scroll through Amazon looking at reviews (though those can’t always be trusted, sigh) and if you’re a Prime member especially, they are good about returns if you get some shitty product that leaks all over.

But honestly, I’d be more likely to browse at The Container Store or - even better, imo - Muji. The reason I like Muji is because they have teeny-tiny containers, not just 2-3oz, and a variety of types (tubes, pumps, flip-cap, etc.) They also have an answer on how to transfer product with this set. Mix and match at will!


Okay, have a lovely weekend, everyone. I think next week I’ll give you some quick n dirty holiday shopping/gifting tips, so you can exploit Black Friday like a pro.

xoxo,
EK