Having struggled with acne ever since I hit puberty at 11, I learnt that people can be very unkind when it comes to things like that, especially young children who have not learnt how to be tactful.
My self-confidence took a serious hit and I was emotionally traumatized while growing up, always questioning why my skin wasn't as good as everyone else's.
I was so desperate - I tried everything you could possibly think of. Back then, the Internet wasn't yet a big thing, so most of my time was spent in the library, where I was furiously reading medical books on skin, Bobbi Brown's beauty and makeup guides at a tender age of 12 (yes, 12!), home remedies and other "solutions" that were touted to work. I even took nutritional supplements like zinc that were supposed to help.
When it came to facial products, I listened to everything and everyone - my mother, my aunts, the salesgirl at the pharmacy...and anyone who claimed they knew something that would cure my condition.
The list at the top of this post shows some of the acne products I tried (and that's not all!).
Guess what I learnt after trying so many different brands and products?
NONE OF THESE OFF-THE-SHELF PRODUCTS WORKED FOR MY ACNE.
It was terrible. I've tried all sorts of chemicals that were supposed to work on acne - benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, triclosan, azelaic acid, hydrocortisone, tetracycline, retinoids, etc - but my skin didn't improve at all. In fact, it only got worse.
By the time I hit junior college, my acne skyrocketed. Then there came a horrendous period where my face was so bad that my skin had multiple itchy and raised bumps with a clear, yellowish liquid coming out of my pores. IT WAS GROSS. I had to permanently arm myself with tissues and dab at my face every now and then.
With the comments that I was receiving from some of the people around me, I wanted to just kill myself. "Ew, she's so ugly" and "oh my gosh look at her skin!" were common remarks I frequently overheard. My mum was convinced I wasn't washing my face enough ("your skin is dirty, that's why you have pimples!) whereas I was getting more and more depressed over time.
It got so bad that I had to finally admit that nothing was working, so I finally decided to stop all my self-treatments and see a doctor. I was prescribed oral medication of Acnotin (costing $2 a pill) and Suprim (a type of antibiotic for acne), as well as a light pH 5.5 cleanser that was alkaline and soap-free.
After a year on the medication, my acne started clearing up. But I was heavily reliant on those Acnotin pills - each time I stopped taking them, the pimples would come back. Even when the doctor tried to wane me off the pills, it was hardly working.
Finally, at the age of 18, I read online about other people's testimonials on how organic skincare products cured their acne (and other skin problems) for good. In ancient years, mankind didn't have all these laboratory-produced chemical skincare, yet many women could maintain their clear skin...so I decided to give it a shot.
Of course, organic skincare products do not come cheap. In 2008, there weren't a lot of organic skincare brands available on the mass market, and prices for organic skincare were hovering at a few hundred dollars. I was only a JC student, and wasn't getting any pocket money from my parents (you read that right)...where on earth was I supposed to find the money?
So I decided to make my own. I emailed folks overseas who had made their own organic skincare products successfully, and asked for advice. I spoke to so many people and tried different recipes. Not everything worked - Singapore's humid weather meant that a lot of the products started growing moulds within DAYS using some of the recipes available online. It was disgusting, and there was no way I was putting that on my face!
It took a lot of trial and error, experimenting and failing over and over again, but I wouldn't give up. This was my face we're talking about! Eventually, as much as I could, I learnt to buy only ingredients that were certified organic and from reliable sources. They certainly weren't cheap, but still cheaper than buying directly from the limited organic skincare brands available then.
The early days of Blended was thus born.
Ever since I switched my skincare regime to include as many organic products as possible, I've been able to get rid of my reliance on oral acne medication. Today, it has been over 4 years since I last took Acnotin, and I've been largely acne-free ever since.
My lesson learnt?
Only organic skincare products could save my skin for good.
I realized that when I was using other drugstore and branded products, I was effectively dousing my face in toxic chemicals that were stripping away my skin's protective layer and its ability to heal itself. I've become (almost) an expert in reading skincare ingredient lists now, after over a decade of research and studies, and other than my own Blended skincare line, most other products out there contain at least 1 or 2 ingredients that I know will potentially cause my skin to break out again.
Today, my skincare routine comprises of 80% organic products (mostly from Blended) and I've been able to go out without applying any foundation or concealer at all. In contrast to the days where I had to SLATHER concealer in order to look presentable enough to head out, this was a huge transformation. I've not been able to wane off all products completely as there are still some things that I've not been able to make (like pimple creams), but it is a huge step forward.
Of course, that is not to say that I no longer get pimples. Like most people, my skin breaks out when I'm excessively stressed, get too little sleep, have no time to mask regularly (I try to mask every alternate day)...or when it is close to "that time of the month".
But my skin today is much, much better.
To share this with everyone else facing skin problems, I decided to distill all of my recipes down into a science, really test them out, and set up Blended. Together with my business partner, we curated a line of skincare offerings that I am certain will work for most skins, just like how it saved mine. The most important part is keeping these organic skincare solutions affordable for everyone - which is why the largest portion of our operating expenses are spent on the expensive organic ingredients that we use, and we do not spend too much on packaging, advertising, or other promotions.
It has been really heartening to see that the products have been working for so many people, some who have even shared their progress photos with us:
The best part about setting up Blended has been all the people we've been able to help, and I'm glad that my personal acne struggle has resulted in being able to help others overcome theirs.
We're having a year-end giveaway for anyone who wishes to try out and see if organic skincare can save your skin too. On top of that, there are starter kits available for just $48 (worth $150) - and I can promise you that you won't be able to find these kind of prices anywhere else for quality organic skincare that has worked for so many others.
If you're taking part, be sure to let my colleagues at Blended know that you're a reader of my blog!
My next step will be to convert to a 100% organic skincare regime, and I look forward to even better skin to come.
With love and here's hoping everyone will achieve good skin,