For years, I’ve passed up tons of (seemingly amazing) facial oils, cleansing balms, and oil-based serums. After all, I have oily skin, which means I’ve been conditioned to think oil on oil equates to one cystic-sized mess.
I realize not all “oily feeling” serums are the same, but after a couple of failed attempts, I kind of gave up and just stuck with what I knew. But it turns out that maybe an oil-based serum is exactly what my skin’s needed all this time. Oil, as it turns out, breaks down oiliness, and tackles what causes painful cystic acne on my cheeks.
And so I was intrigued when I found out about the brand Atolla, a custom serum company rooted in science and data that aims to learn about your skin, fine-tune, and adapt throughout your skincare journey. Long story short, it’s a personalized skincare brand designed to help you identify your skin concerns and triggers for specific skin woes. Then, they create a custom serum formulation with all these things in mind.
But a serum? Who would have thought? The more I thought about it, the more I was intrigued. Are serums perhaps more important than we all thought?
Atolla doesn’t work by analyzing your results from a bland questionnaire. Instead, it sends you a skin test: I’m talking test strips, little vials of product, pH solutions, THE WORKS.
And because of this experience, I thought for sure gel serums were the only thing my skin liked. I was absolutely SHOOK to the core when my Atolla serum arrived and it was not a gel consistency. Considering my horrible track record with oil-based serums, I was doubtful it would work for me, but I decided to give it try.
The skin health test kit
Atolla notes that their custom serum formulations are meant to target your primary skin concerns. That can be anything from acne, dryness, oil production, redness, sun damage, or wrinkles. They do it all, folks. Some personalized skincare can seem ~not so personal~ as some brands pull exclusively from data and send the same formulations to the same skin concern group. Atolla is actually very different. Each month, you’ll receive a skin assessment to track progress and make any ingredient or concentration changes to your serum.
Once you sign up for Atolla, you go through your first skin health kit process. After completing a few questions online (questions include things like hormone concerns, sun sensitivity, environment factors), an at-home skin health test kit is mailed to you. You’ll need to do a few different types of tests, including oil and moisture tests, pH tests, and a base preference test. It only takes about 10-20 minutes, and you’ll need your phone and/or laptop so you can record your results for Atolla.
You might feel a little funny with test strips stuck to your face, but you can make it cute.
The last part of the skin assessment is choosing your serum base. There were four different bases to choose from and test out on your skin. Atolla recommends taking note of how each feels and sinks into your skin. Naturally, I chose the one with the gel consistency.
After finishing each test, you go ahead and upload your results into your Atolla profile. You then also upload three selfies on yourself so Atolla can see what your skin looks like currently, and so they can track your progress along the way. You also have the ability to search and upload products within your current routine so Atolla can cross-check and make sure nothing in your custom serum would interfere with the other products you’re using.
This process may seem extensive at first glance, but the details matter! It also makes your formulation more personal to you. Bonus: all the extra “packaging” required for your skin assessment is 100% recyclable. I was pretty relieved when I saw that!
Within a few days, your first serum is formulated and mailed to you. Included will also be another skin health kit for next month’s formula.
Before your serum is made, you’re able to preview your ingredient list and know what to expect. For the base, my first formula contained:
– 3% coconut extract
– Jojoba oil
– Marula oil
WHAT?! Other ingredients included avocado oil, rosehip oil, pumpkin seed oil, squalane, and vitamin E. LOTS of oils. I was crazy surprised, but it turns out, my very oily/acne-prone skin was showing signs of low moisture levels and I needed the coconut extract, jojoba oil, and marula oil for nourishing purposes. Still, I was nervous that my skin would hate the consistency. I understand my skin might be craving the benefits of these oils, but I wasn’t sure it would react well. More importantly, would it even seep in, or would I go to sleep looking like a grease ball?
So far, I’ve used my Atolla serums for a total of three months and I’ve seen great results. Quarantine has brought up a lot of things I haven’t known about my skin type, and Atolla has helped me understand more about it.
My skin has since forgiven me for depriving it of the ingredients it’s apparently always wanted. While my skin type is still oily by nature, I have seen really positive results. My skin is visibly more balanced, and I can go long periods without having to whip out a blotting sheet. After the first month of the serum, I decided to complete the skin health kit again to see if my formula needed to be switched up. On the outside, my skin was looking wayyy better than before I started Atolla. I looked more matte and I had fewer breakouts that month.
In the second month, my formula changed, and the coconut extract increased from 3 percent to 6 percent. For my next two months, I was going entire days without needing a blotting sheet or a mid-day face cleanse. My cystic acne was also having a much shorter lifespan. Those suckers were healing faster than ever.
Atolla checks off a lot of my skincare brand boxes. They’re 100% vegan, cruelty-free, sulfate-free, gluten-free, and they do not use any added fragrance. It’s clear their ingredient library is selective and effective, and their blog shows just how passionate they are about skincare education. They truly want to help people understand their skin better and tackle their top concerns through science.
While completely tailored to your skin, the serums can be a little pricy at $45 a month. Each bottle is 15mL, and I didn’t finish my entire serum each month, but I was only using it at night.
I think as a skincare consumer, I can be captivated by a lot of active ingredients promising to do wonders for anti-aging and hydration. I’ve never looked to a serum to help to balance my skin or decrease oil production. I also never looked at my skin as dehydrated and needing more moisture. Atolla helped me understand my skin in a way I never had before. Don’t get me wrong, I still haven’t pushed my serums from The Ordinary and Versed aside, but I think I’ll stick with my Atolla serum for a bit to give my skin what it needs.
Atolla is an innovative custom serum company aiming to help you define and aid in your top skin concerns
Each month you complete an at-home skin assessment
And don’t let anyone tell you differently. Sure, things like double cleansing, retinoids, vitamin C, and AHA & BHA’s are ALL important and essential steps to your skincare routine, but sun damage is the number one cause of premature skin aging. Yikes. The good news is it’s highly preventable, as long as you wear SPF daily.
But let’s be honest, sunscreen has sucked for a long time. Growing up, all of my sunscreens smelled horrible. Every brand for some reason thought they needed to add in a tropical scent to their formula. Or the stuff was THICK. Like, greasy-thick. Couldn’t-even-rub-it-in-look-like-Casper-the-ghost thick, and as soon as I would jump into any water, it would all come off (sorry, mom). The white cast is probably the worst situation of them all! Not to mention, the only place I thought sunscreen was available was the drugstore. I was told constantly how important SPF is, but I never learned to like it until I was in college.
Finding a good SPF takes time. And effort.
The sunscreen industry has completely evolved in the last few years, thanks to brands like Supergoop!, EltaMD, Colorescience, and so many more. Even many makeup brands have found awesome ways to formulate non-sucky sunscreen. Beauty consumers are finally beginning to become educated on what a good sunscreen should look and feel like. Basically, the SPF available on the market right now is innovative AF. Still, finding a sunscreen that you love can take time and can even be discouraging.
I’ve learned that if I don’t absolutely love a sunscreen, I won’t use it, even though I know it’s for my own good. There are so many reasons as to why someone would want to skip SPF: it can be greasy, they can have acne concerns, sometimes it doesn’t mesh well with a makeup routine, it can leave an icky film…the list goes on. Basically, I want a sunscreen that makes me SO excited to wake up in the morning and put it on. A sunscreen that makes me say to my friends, “I got my *insert favorite sunscreen of the moment here* sunscreen on, do you?”
These are the sunscreens that are my tried and trues. They have stood the test of time, sweat, acne, weddings, lake days, and many different makeup routines. These are the sunscreens that don’t suck so hey, no excuses on skipping. Okay? Your skin will thank you endlessly.
It’s great to have a variety of SPF lotion for your face. Different SPF levels, different finishes, and maybe you want to have a chemical and a physical sunscreen on hand depending on what you like.
Ideal for acne-prone skin and sensitive skin types, Elta MD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46 is fragrance-free and is formulated with sodium hyaluronate to moisturize while lactic acid clears pores and reduces shine. This can be worn alone or under makeup and offers broad-spectrum protection from UVA and UVB rays.
Another fabulous option for sensitive, acne-prone, or oily skin that has a pretty finish to it. Supergoop! Zinscscreen 100% Mineral Lotion uses ingredients like winter cherry, coconut fruit extract, and blueberry extract to nourish and protect your skin from environmental aggressors. You can forget about blending in a harsh white formula, since this one is slightly pink and begins translucent! And, it’s reef safe.
This is the kind of sunscreen that makes you wonder if you even put it on. It has THAT good of an after-feeling. This SPF is super lightweight and the texture is incredibly smooth. It comes in three different finishes, the original, the glow, and the bronze. It’s water-resistant for 40 minutes, offers blue light protection, pollution protection, and infrared light protection. Colorescience also makes note that it is the perfect consistency to mix with a foundation as well.
Best clear sunscreens
Clear sunscreens are pretty darn cool. They’re most often a gel-like texture, but they aren’t a wet gel, if that makes sense. It smooths on and leaves a nice, dry finish. Somehow, these clear formulas have truly been perfected and glide onto your skin like no other.
Most of my friends have found this sunscreen through Amazon ads. It’s a clear gel sunscreen that has a similar feel to a soft cleansing balm. It’s water-resistant, reef safe, and packed with antioxidants like vitamin C, vitamin E, and ferulic acid. The gel quickly melts onto your skin, leaving a soft matte finish. Perfect if you’re super active and outdoorsy as it’s incredibly long-lasting, you get a lot of bang for your buck, and of course, water-resistant.
Bet you’ve seen this gem everywhere and trust me, it lives up to the hype. Supergoop! isn’t playing around with this one. It’s completely invisible, weightless, and scentless. The oil-free formula slides onto your skin and leaves the softest finish. It’s perfect for wearing alone or under makeup. Recently, this one has made it’s way to the top of my list. It’s definitely the kind that gets me excited to wake up and put it on.
The couch potato of sunscreens, sticks are incredibly easy. They’re amazing for on-the-go, and while primarily used for the face, they can be used to touch up just about any spot. I love using them on my shoulders and on my lips—perfect for beach days. Carry them wherever you go!
This clear stick is SPF 50, which is pretty awesome for the stick world. Best used for face and neck, it’s water-resistant for 80 minutes. It’s incredibly makeup friendly and can be used under or over your base.
I wouldn’t recommend this one for everyday use. It’s more of a beach day essential, as it’s not very makeup friendly. It’s great if you’re active and on-the-go. It’s water-resistant, oil-free, and plays well with acne-prone skin.
Best mineral brush sunscreens
Mineral brushes are the much more fancy cousin to the sunscreen sticks. They’re cute, you can throw them in your bag, and you can touch up your face with some protection at any time. Obvs VERY makeup friendly. Mineral brushes can come in foundation colors or be translucent. While great for touchups, don’t let this be your only SPF for the day, as it’s minimal coverage. Sometimes, I even skip a blotting sheet and opt right for my mineral brush sunscreen.
This product is strictly a finishing powder, as it doesn’t come in any shades. It’s SPF 45, like the Supergoop! setting powder, however, the brush quality isn’t nearly as nice as the Supergoop! or Colorescience brushes.
While a bit more pricy than the Supergoop! and PTR option, it’s actually the only brush-on powder sunscreen specifically recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation. It’s water-resistant for 80 minutes at a whopping SPF 50. This thing can do it all—and, it comes in four shades.
Best body sunscreens
To be real, body sunscreens aren’t amazingly glamourous, but there are ones that DON’T SUCK! You need something that lasts, is water-resistant if you’re being active, and doesn’t leave you feeling like you have a film over yourself. So, basically, something practical, but that puts in the WORK.
Don’t knock the Neutrogena until you try it. While seemingly basic, it is incredibly effective and is non-comedogenic. This is actually the SINGLE sunscreen that I’ve kept in my regimen since I was in middle school. Not only is it super affordable, but you can find it in any drugstore. While this is only SPF 30, Neutrogena offers this formula in SPF 45, 55, and 100. This formula is completely lightweight with none of that greasy feeling, oxybenzone-free, and it’s incredibly fast-absorbing. It is also water-resistant!
This sunscreen is so popular it sells out REGULARLY. I have physically run to the sunscreen shelves in Target and Ulta to scoop this up before someone else could. It’s a relatively new formula within the Neutrogena world and it is so, so, worth it. It has a high content of zinc oxide which usually makes sunscreens difficult to spread and apply. However, this one glides on flawlessly and uses the same dry-touch technology as many of Neutrogena’s other formulas. It’s sweat and water-resistant for 80 minutes, oil-free, non-comedogenic, and it’s been awarded the National Eczema Association Seal of Acceptance for being a suitable sunscreen for people who struggle with skin sensitivities and conditions.
Best for lips
You can’t forget your lips. They’re the most sensitive skin on your face (aside from your eyelids) and they’re often overlooked! It’s important to protect them from aging, too. Luckily, there are lots of great lip products with SPF to add to your ever-growing collection of lip balms.
Formulated with raspberry extract and avocado butter, your lips will be getting the antioxidants they need and crave! This reef-safe, water-resistant (80 minutes) lip balm from Coola is an amazing moisturizer and protector. It’s SPF 30 and only $10.
$3.99 and SPF 30? Come on. A no brainer. I actually own maybe 5 of these because they’re so affordable and easy to have in every bag. Aquaphor is a cult fave and trusted brand of many. This lip protectant + sunscreen balm does not disappoint.
You DEFF have heard of these lip treatments. Fresh’s Sugar Lip Treatment Sunscreen comes in 13 different colors, including clear/original. They offer a really subtle pop of color and an SPF 15 protection.
I get it. I’ve struggled with acne and all around laziness. I feel like SPF is like the leg day joke of working out and if you skimp or skip… you’ll see it over time. Listen to your derms, your friends, your friend’s derms, your mom, and take them seriously when they say that SPF is important. And remember, sunscreen doesn’t have to SUCK!
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If you’re like, “Okay. SOLD, gimme the deets NOW!” head to our Instagram post to enter to win! But, if you want a breakdown of all the goodies inside, get the scoop below. Good luck, and we hope you’re one of our 5 lucky winners!
This mask is a complete cult-favorite. This dream mask has squalane, hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and betaine to help plump and lock in moisture for even the most dehydrated skin. Say goodbye to dullness and uneven skin tone and hello to radiant skin after a sleepover with this baby. Yes, please!
This limited edition box was designed by artist Jose Roda, and no two handles are alike. The set includes three German-engineered blade cartridges, a foaming shave gel, and a travel cover to protect your blades when packed! 100% of profits from this set are being donated to The Trevor Project, the world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ youth.
What doesn’t a retinoid treatment do? Proven to prevent and improve wrinkles. hyperpigmentation, uneven skin tone, enlarged pores, AND acne, the Dear Brightly Set comes with a tailored retinoid treatment made just for you and your particular skin needs. It includes both a retinoid serum and a hyaluronic acid treatment. *Upon winning this contest, an email will be sent to you directing you to take a skin quiz. The Tailored Retinoid Set will ship separately to you.*
Another holy grail treatment for acne. If you haven’t heard of Blume’s Meltdown Acne Oil, you must be living under a rock. Rosehip, blue tansy, tamanu, lavender, and black cumin seed all work together in a powerful plant blend to stop and heal acne in its tracks. This is an acne spot treatment unlike any other.
ZitSticka’s KILLA Patches are best described as “a self-dissolving micro-dart patch for the early stage zit.” Basically, zit patches that aren’t playing around. Great for even the most stubborn cystic acne pimples, each kit includes eight CLEANA swabs to prep the area with destressing ingredients and eight KILLA Patches to get those pimples outta there.
SKIN DISCIPLINE is a dietary supplement that has been clinically proven to reduce acne within 12 weeks. It’s a 30-day supply of a formula full of vitamins, minerals, probiotics, and fatty acids to help minimize breakouts by targeting surface-level inflammation, balancing sebum levels, and balancing skin-supportive bacteria. Clear skin starts from within!
Prism 12% AHA Serum exfoliates daily for sustained smooth and glowing skin while Prism 20% AHA Facial is a weekly treatment to instantly boost radiance. While suitable for all skin types, these products target concerns of acne, redness, and dullness. They’ll be sure to give your skin the radiant boost it needs! If you are a little more on the sensitive side, these should definitely be spot tested, as they are both concentrated exfoliating products.
When COVID-19 hit, beauty brands didn’t miss a beat and brainstormed innovative ways to support healthcare workers and customers. The same is true for the BLM movement. Beauty brands are stepping up and donating, encouraging their customer-base and followers to do so. Through the power of social media campaigns, actually opening up their wallets for change, and promoting education, beauty brands are trying to help.
Hopefully beauty brands and consumers alike are realizing this is only the beginning of the revolution as they publicly pledge to aid the BLM movement and fight against racial injustice. Very Good Light hopes more brands both within the beauty community and outside will stand up and use their platforms to spark change and encourage others.
Below, a list of beauty brands lending a helping hand. We’ll continue to update this list so feel free to drop us a line on our Instagram if we have missed any.
Cocokind has been incredibly active on social media spreading information, donation links, and ally resources. They have donated $10,000 to @aclu_nationwide. and 100% of their profits from every day this week are set to go to a different organization aiding the movement each day.
Deciem is donating $100,000 to @blklivesmatter and the @NAACP Legal Defence & Educational Fund. The brand has also noted that they want to make their Instagram Stories a dedicated space to continue conversations. “We want to amplify as many voices as possible and ask you to join us. Please email videos (1 min max) or words to firstname.lastname@example.org (kindly note that anything sent to this email will be made public)”.
Kiramoon Beauty hasn’t officially launched just yet, but all proceeds from The Magic Pouch makeup bags through June 1st went to the George Floyd memorial fund. They matched all donations that were made through Magic Pouch sales and raised a little over $2000.
Saie Beauty has made a $10,000 donation split between two important organizations: @colorofchange who is providing immediate support in the wake of injustice, and @fairfightaction who is fighting for fair elections so we can all vote for the longterm reform we need.
Ursa Major will be donating $10,000 to help fuel the dreams of young black entrepreneurs in urban areas across the US. Ursa Major also noted, “we will also start pushing harder for a more diverse workforce here at Ursa Major as we continue to grow, because it’s the right thing to do, and because the best way to help Vermont become more inclusive is to create more economic opportunities here for people of color.” They also stated they will be creating a cause to be focused on creating opportunities for minority populations to experience the benefits of nature.
Acne-prone AND sensitive–not a super popular skin type combination.
But actually, a lot of people who experience acne sensitize their skin over time due to harsh ingredients and improper chemical mixtures in skincare products. When we think of face washes for acne-prone skin, we think of tea tree, harsh scrubs (hello, dryness and inflammation), and that minty, almost astringent feeling that our skin is conditioned to think means, Congrats, we’re clean.
Starface is looking to change all of that with their new face wash called Spacewash ($16). If you haven’t heard of, or at least ~seen~ what Starface is all about, I’m sorry, but you’ve been living under a rock. Not only is Starface a brand that’s aiming to change the conversation around acne with their cute, bright yellow star-shaped pimple patches, but they also just launched in September 2019 and have made enormous strides as a brand since.
Their signature product, as I mentioned, are their bright yellow star-shaped hydrocolloid pimple patches. They come in a Gen-Z vanity-worthy package that they call “Big Yellow”. It’s like an AirPod case for your pimple patches, and it has a little mirror inside. Starface lovers can buy refill packs of patches for Big Yellow and they come in all different kinds of fun designs. They’ve launched rainbow packs of patches, holographic, and most recently, glow in the dark!
Since launching in September 2019, the brand has skyrocketed to social media success. More specifically, on platforms like Instagram and Tik Tok. On Instagram alone, they’ve gained 76K in followers and their community engagement among Gen Z is a force to be reckoned with. On Tik Tok, they have 260K in followers and popular Gen Z influencer, Charlie D’Amelio, and upcoming artist, Leo Reilly have sported the trendy stars in fun videos. Safe to say, they’re killing it.
I’ve had combination skin almost all of my life. I was blessed in high school with little acne woes. I maybe had one pimple a year, and it was absolutely nothing to fuss about. But, when I came to college, my skin was transitioning from combination to full-blown oily and cystic acne-prone skin. I also suffer from eczema and many allergies, which have made my skin a bit sensitive. During my freshman year of college, I had no idea how to handle the acne. Sure, I was knowledgeable about skincare, but it took me a while to figure out my new skin type and its triggers.
Since then, I’ve learned my triggers for cystic flare-ups and I’ve been able to balance my oil and sebum production pretty well. I quickly gravitated to gel face washes. I’ve always been told to spend very little on face wash, as the ingredients don’t stay on your face for very long, so there’s no point to invest in an expensive product. While true, if you’re acne-prone, the face wash you choose is extremely important and can sometimes make or break your skincare routine in terms of preventing breakouts.
For years I’ve loved gel face washes like The Body Shop’s Seaweed Deep Cleansing Gel Wash and Skinfood’s Egg White Pore Foam. The search for a gel face wash that had acne-fighting ingredients was more difficult. Most that I’ve come across have a lot of fragrance or too much of an acne-fighting ingredient like charcoal, tea tree, or salicylic acid, which is not something my cystic acne can always handle.
Upon first glance on the box, I was shocked at the ingredient list. The ingredients were so simple! I thought to myself, Have I been overdoing it? Were the acne-fighting ingredients I was using before too much for my skin?
The formula contains white willow bark, sage leaf, and calendula flowers. I was so relieved when I saw there weren’t any added fragrances or sodium laureth sulfate, which can be triggering irritants for acne-prone skin.
Spacewash is oil-free, 100% vegan, and is in compliance with European standards, so you know it’s the good stuff. Besides its acne-fighting and anti-inflammatory properties, Spacewash lifts away makeup and dead skin cells while you wash, too.
To be honest, the first 3-5 times I tried Spacewash, I wasn’t completely in love. While I loved the texture and how the formula became a nice frothy wash, it made my skin feel a little stripped. However, as the weather started to become more hot and sticky, I craved washing my face with Spacewash. It started to agree with my skin more, or at least help me out as this new climate was wreaking havoc on my face. I haven’t had any new cystic pimples for the entire month of May (seriously amazing), but I have been getting a couple of whiteheads and I’ve been super oily. Spacewash cleared that right up.
I’m not sure if Spacewash would be the first thing I grab to clear up a cystic breakout. However, it is gentle enough and has proved its anti-inflammatory properties. I believe I would still need the help of my topical acne medications in conjunction with Spacewash. I do wish Spacewash had more of a refreshing or tingly after feeling, but I think that’s the little voice inside my head telling me what every acne-fighting face wash that’s come before it should feel like. Overall, this is an acne-fighting face wash meant for people with sensitive skin, which is rarely catered to in skincare.
As the weather continues to get warmer and summer will soon be in full force, Spacewash is great to get rid of dead skin cells from sunscreen residue and excess sebum. I’ve used Spacewash in the morning, in the middle of the day when my sweaty face is in need of a refresh, and at night. Harsh scrubbing and ingredients are often the cause of inflammation and redness in acne-prone people, but Spacewash aims to change the game. It’s definitely your new summer cleanser.
I never questioned why there wasn’t anyone who looked like me as the lead in films.
The Asian American experience is not particularly a fun one for me. For the majority of my life, I ran from my culture and my identity. I detested being looked at differently and seen as weak because all I ever wanted was to fit in. Kids never know they are different until someone makes certain to make them feel as such. The single greatest compliments I received when I was young was that I was “cool… for an Asian” or “not like the others.” I took genuine pride in that because, at the time, Asians were a big walking joke. These Hollywood movies made me believe that my culture was embarrassing with the help of wild characters from films like; Breakfast at Tiffany’s – Mr. Yunioshi, Holly’s angry, bucktoothed Japanese neighbor and even Sixteen Candles’ exchange student, Long Duk Dong. Who when every time enters a scene a very noticeable gong accompanies him. I did anything and everything I could to not be seen as an Asian. Impossible I know. But Hollywood has been portraying us as these utterly embarrassing comedic tropes for decades, which results in the mass population of Americans (even Asian Americans) truly believing that these stereotypes are exactly who we are.
Growing up I never once questioned why there wasn’t anyone who looked like me as the lead in films. It was just so normal, that becoming an actor was not even a seed of a thought. Like every other Asian boy, we are bred to become doctors, lawyers, and the classic businessman. It is no surprise that my parents were against me pursuing the arts. I remember the first time I told my mother that I wanted to pursue acting. As soon as those words left my lips, she then turned to me and placed a “Mona Lisa” smile over her disapproving frown. I knew immediately what she was thinking. I could see my mother trying to formulate supportive sentences to say, but she just remained silent. Then she soon began negotiating terms in which the only way I would be able to pursue acting was to have a backup plan. She said all this not because she didn’t believe I could do it, but because she knew damn well that there was no place for people that looked like us in Hollywood. At least at the time.
Then on August 15, 2018, a small little film called Crazy Rich Asians came out, which was the first American backed studio film with a predominantly Asian cast in 25 years! The last one being Joy Luck Club which came out in 1993. Being born in the late ’90s, it goes without saying I have never seen any film like Crazy Rich Asians. But this was only the very beginning. CRA was the catalyst for future films such as The Farewell, Always Be My Maybe and even the four Academy Award-winning film Parasite. And for me to see all of this happen in the last 4 years is incredible.
Now although I was blessed with jobs such as Fresh off the Boat and Mulan. I feel as an actor I can only exist in these “Asian Worlds.” Why can’t there be a character that is Asian without talking about that character being Asian or doing a whole backstory? Our presence in film and TV is enough. Yes, I love stories about our immigrant parents, but sometimes I just want to see more characters like Emma from the series Dave, played by Christine Ko. Emma’s character is this sassy artist and that’s all. The show not once mentions her ethnicity! The really beautiful thing now is that there are kids out there, who at a young age get to relate to all these characters that look like them and show them that we are far greater than the sum of our parts.
For Asian Americans, we are slowly but surely making way for an absolutely beautiful, and diverse future, but it seems as though the representation of the Asian man is still to question. The amount of Asian men in leading roles is simply ludicrous. Henry Golding was the first Asian male-lead I had ever seen (which was only 2 years ago) on-screen that wasn’t a standard karate film. Golding proved to Hollywood and to the rest of the U.S. that Asian men can lead films and sell! Representation is so crucial for people of color because it transcends stereotypes. But the responsibility of representation doesn’t fall on a single person. It is the collective. To quote Disney’s Live-Action Mulan, “When deployed correctly, ten ounces can move a thousand pounds.”
What I want most for my career, more than anything is to inspire others. I want my niece and nephew and other little Asian kids to be proud of their heritage. To be proud of speaking their mother language. To be proud to be their 100% genuine self. It is true, the amount of progress we have made has been immense, but there is a long journey ahead of us.
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May is officially Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, celebrating the journey of Asian Pacific Americans, what they’ve accomplished, and what’s to come. For an entire week, Very Good Light is kicking off a series of Asian American stories, highlighting the future of Asian America. From Generation Z activists, healthcare workers on the front lines, music artists, and more, we’re uplifting Asian stories. We’ve partnered this week with Hate Is A Virus, a grassroots campaign that aims to raise $1 million to businesses affected by COVID-19. Together, we hope to spark conversations, change, and community. After all, the Asian American experience is the American experience. We’re in this together. For more on Hate Is A Virus, go here.
Not all heroes wear capes. Some wear scrubs.
Asian American frontline medical professionals are working to save the country despite falling victim to blatant racism.
As quarantine continues and coronavirus-related anxiety reaches fever pitch, hate crimes against Asian communities across the United States have also experienced an upswing. Asian Americans are being targeted, verbally and physically harassed at alarming frequency. It doesn’t help that President Trump’s branding of COVID-19 as “the Chinese virus” prompting insults such as, “Go back to China,” or inferring that a Chinese American reporter doesn’t belong.
For Asian American medical professionals, weathering a pandemic on the frontlines is much more political than simply showing up to save lives. Not only do they work day-in and day-out in conditions they have never before encountered, but forced to confront and ease racial tensions in the process. A new video of Asian American healthcare workers published Tuesday, proving how these professionals are both heralded as heroes but also vilified as well. Another video from TIMEtells the story of Dr. Chen Fu, a hospitalist at NYU Langone Medical Center who shared with of his experiences with racism as a health practitioner in a pandemic. “It’s tough to reconcile being both celebrated and villainized at the same time.”
Though Asians make up about 5.6 percent of the population according to the last U.S census, they compose 18% of the medical field according to a 2018 report from the Association of American Medical Colleges. They’re sacrificing their lives and putting themselves at risk for the betterment of others.
To celebrate the hardworking individuals in the medical field represented in Asian American communities, we’re uplifting 15 doctors and nurses around the country. We’ve asked them to share with us how they’re navigating this new world and what their important experiences have been. Here are their real stories:
I work as a registered nurse in the Intensive Care Unit of a hospital. I graduated from nursing school in May 2019 and have been working as a nurse for 10 months now.
When COVID-19 hit my hospital, it was a shock to the system. Cases were rapidly increasing, the demand for staff shifted between departments, and policies and best practices were constantly changing. In the ICU, we quickly became short-staffed. We had reached our patient capacity.
We are required to wear surgical masks at all times. When we enter the room of a COVID-19 patient, we must don personal protective equipment for “airborne” precautions, which include: a gown, two pairs of gloves, an N95 mask, and a face shield or goggles. We put on and remove each of these items with each pass into and out of a room. In efforts to preserve PPE (personal protective equipment), other nurses and I try our best to cluster our care so that we can do our job properly while entering the room the least number of times possible.
Being Asian-American during these times has shown how false the Model Minority Myth is as we were swiftly stabbed in the back by Yellow Peril. In the context of being in the medical field as an Asian-American, I have raised my voice louder for both the safety of my colleagues facing COVID-19 head-to-head and my Asian-American brothers and sisters experiencing racism. While I have yet to experience the levels of blatant racism that I have read about — and I hope I never will — I continue to see and hear microaggressions.
Sometimes when I’m in the store to pick something up from work, I often feel that my obvious Asian ethnicity coupled with hospital scrubs marks me as a target. I wonder if the person from down the aisle will be the one to break the silence and say, “Thank you for all that you do” or, “Please don’t come any closer,” with a touch of racial slurs.
I was born in Shanghai, China, and immigrated with my parents to the U.S. at a young age. I graduated from UCLA college and from Harvard Medical School where I discovered my love for ophthalmology. I now work as a cornea, cataract, and LASIK surgeon as an owner of a practice.
We shut down our clinic and furloughed about 75% of our staff for about one month. I continued to only see urgent patients about two times a week. As a small practice owner, it has been very difficult financially because, without surgeries, our clinic does not generate any revenue, but continues to accumulate high expenses like rent. It’s been especially difficult for my staff as they have had to file for unemployment during this time to get by. Fortunately, we are slowly opening back up as non-urgent surgery restrictions have been lifted in California, but we are continuing to be very cautious and taking multiple safety precautions.
I have had colleagues who have had patients refuse to see them because of their race, so every day, I am self-conscious about how my own patients view me and whether I may experience the same. It’s disheartening to hear about people of Asian descent including children and the elderly being attacked verbally and physically solely based on their race. They have to worry not only about contracting the virus but also about being attacked whenever they leave their homes.
There’s irony in the situation. Asian Americans make up almost 20% of medical doctors in the country, many of whom are on the front lines risking their own lives to save others. Sadly, many of them have either been personally discriminated against or had their family or friends experience first-hand attacks. Regardless, as physicians, we do not discriminate against who we treat and will continue to provide the best care possible to all our patients.
I’m an ophthalmologist and retina specialist. I’m Taiwanese-American, both of my parents are immigrants from Taiwan but I was born in New Jersey and grew up there.
I am an attending physician in a private practice in a group of other eye doctors. We operate at the local hospital and cover the ER and consulting services too. COVID-19 has been very stressful to me, my fellow doctors, and my medical teams. We have had to provide eye care to patients with new diagnoses of COVID-19, we worry about getting COVID-19 and spreading it to our loved ones, and as small business owners we worry about keeping our business afloat in the face of severely reduced numbers of patients and lost revenue.
In March we limited our practice to only seeing emergency patients and patients with unstable eye conditions. Instead of six doctors working full-time, we reduced it to one doctor each day, and for a limited number of patients. We stopped operating except for emergency cases. We have had to deal with shortages of PPE and have had to purchase directly on Ebay and online with a huge mark-up. We reuse masks and provide masks to patients who are not wearing them.
The federal government and other government leaders have not done enough to stand up against Anti-Asian racism during the pandemic. The President and other officials calling it the “Chinese virus” is clearly inciting racism and, in turn, Asian-American discrimination. This is incredibly disturbing and flat out wrong. There is a distinction between the Chinese government and Chinese citizens in America. Just like there is a distinction between the Chinese government and Asian-Americans – totally different groups that should not be lumped together.
As doctors, we are taught to treat everyone with the same compassion and care. I do this every day when I see patients at work. It’s the same with my fellow Asian-American physicians. There’s no hesitation involved. It’s what we’re trained to do. It’s just what’s right. But it’s especially painful to experience anti-Asian-American discrimination now. This is at a time when Asian-Americans make up a significant portion of healthcare workers and are fighting the virus on behalf of all Americans.
Fortunately, I have not had anyone shout racial epithets at me or experienced violence against me. But I know it could happen anytime, anywhere. I live in New York City and I avoid going outside at night, even in “safe” neighborhoods, out of concern for my safety as an Asian-American. This is the first time that I have avoided going out at night in NYC, ever. I am also more careful and more aware of others around me.
Racism towards any one group of Americans is flat out wrong and distinctly un-American. More Americans need to realize that and other minority groups need to come together to promote this. We are all Americans.
I am a Chinese-Polynesian American. I was born in the States and I grew up in New York. I went to medical school at the University of Pennsylvania and I am currently in Connecticut doing my dermatology residency.
For dermatologists, limiting face-to-face encounters while still seeing urgent in-person patients in order to steer them away from overcrowding emergency rooms is key. The majority of our patient visits have been through telemedicine, with the exception of 4-5 clinics a week seeing in-person urgent appointments. We stopped all elective procedures, and surgery has been limited to only melanomas (which are lethal if left untreated), and high-risk squamous cell cancers.
Being in the medical field as an Asian could mean I am tasked to treat patients who hold bigoted opinions. It means that I may be confronted with harrowing news of members of my ethnicity being attacked, while I have no other moral choice other than to maintain my job and oath to help others. It means that some Asian health care workers, especially those in major cities, may be harassed on public transport on their way to risk their lives to save others.
I called a patient the other week to let him know we needed to change his appointment to a phone visit and reschedule his in-person appointment for a later date. He became frustrated and irate. Telling me that our clinic was making a big deal out of nothing, that this “China virus is hocus pocus.” Questioning how we could be real doctors. Though I introduced myself as Dr. Shao, I wondered if he would have said the same things to my face seeing as I was Asian. The next day we saw a woman with a diffusely pruritic rash. She thanked us profusely for seeing her and for what we do as physicians. It’s definitely a strange time to be an Asian doctor. On one end, doctors are being applauded for their sacrifice. On the other end, Asians have increasingly become the target of hate crimes.
It hit home for me when it started affecting my grandma. She normally goes to a senior center in NYC for Asian women. Obviously they had to put that on hold during the pandemic, but her senior center friends stayed in touch via WeChat. They would share stories – many about the uptick in verbal and physical hate crimes towards Asians. My grandmother became afraid to leave her apartment – just as scared of the virus as she was of the possibility of harassment.
This is all while racism against Black people runs rampant in China. Chinese-Americans have landed in the middle, and as a result, this has stirred even more negativity towards Asian minorities. I do not condone xenophobia of any nature. But it is disheartening to see Asian Americans here, many who have and continue to contribute to the health and wellness of our country be demonized.
I was born in Seoul, South Korea, and emigrated to NYC when I was one-year-old. I’m a double board-certified facial plastic surgeon and otolaryngologist (ENT). I practice exclusively in aesthetic and reconstructive procedures of the face, head, and neck.
Being a sub-specialist, I have been largely “sidelined” by the COVID-19 pandemic. I stopped seeing patients in the clinic and doing elective surgeries in mid-March. For the past seven weeks, my practice has been reduced to virtual visits, post-op/urgent clinic visits, and cancer reconstruction cases. However, it is well-known that otolaryngologists or ENTs are one of the specialists at the highest risk of occupational exposure to COVID-19 due to our work in the nose/mouth/throat. So we have had to take extra precautions in surgeries and when seeing patients.
COVID-19 has also impacted me because my mom is a registered nurse on Long Island, NY. She has been on the frontlines, working tirelessly to treat all/only COVID-19 patients. She ran out of PPE and I had to mail her some. Despite this, she messages me after every shift to make sure WE are doing okay. She is my personal hero and now has been a hero to many.
My heart breaks, hearing about fellow Asian-Americans struggle with racism and xenophobia during this novel coronavirus pandemic. Being attacked for no reason. It is not something I have personally experienced but I find myself being more vigilant these days. So many of us are immigrants or the children of immigrants who came to this country to seek a better life and career in the land of opportunity. Now, many of us have become physicians and other health care workers who work so hard to give back to our communities.
Especially in times of crisis, there is no place for hate. We are all human and underneath the color of our skin and our appearance, we are all the same people. We all seek to live our best life of love, health, success, and happiness. We all struggle similarly in this pursuit with heartbreaks, losses, failures, disease, and death. Yet, our differences are what make this world, and this country in particular, so wonderful and interesting.
My parents immigrated from Taiwan and I was born and raised in the Midwest. My fellowship training is in ophthalmic plastic surgery, a small but amazing subspecialty of ophthalmology. We perform surgeries on the eyelid, orbit, and tear duct system as well as facial cosmetic and reconstructive surgery.
To protect the patients and staff, our hospital has postponed all “non-essential” surgeries and appointments. This means we are only seeing urgent issues that might potentially result in blindness. For non-urgent issues, I have had to find ways to help the patient virtually rather than in person. COVID-19 has forced me to make these decisions with a blurry photo or pixelated video call. Patients are afraid to come to the hospital because they do not want to contract the virus. I often give out my email address and phone number so patients can update me on their symptoms from home.
Still, we occasionally have patients who are very sick and need to stay in the hospital. I must examine them face to face. Early during the pandemic, COVID-19 test results took almost a week to come back. It was nerve-wracking to enter a room of a potentially infected patient. I was constantly worried there was a leak in my N-95 face mask. After exiting the room, I would wash my hands three times, my face once, and then use antiseptic. I was not worried about overkill. Fortunately, obtaining COVID-19 results is much faster now.
Though I am hopeful for a brighter future, we cannot expect discrimination and ignorance to cease overnight. It is important for us Asian-American physicians to recognize that our contributions are a product of not only our medical training but also our personal histories. We should acknowledge not only the expertise we provide but also the diversity in our understanding of each person and our approach to patient care. Both parts coexist and should be celebrated together.
I am a second degree BSN, which means that I earned my first bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing field (for me it was hospitality management) and then applied to an accelerated BSN program.
I am not currently working in a hospital. I finished my ABSN program in December 2019 and passed my RN board exam at the end of April. Since my program ended, I have been volunteering my time with the Medical Reserve Corps to conduct COVID-19 tests. My husband is a physician and is also a frontline worker. We are anxious over every occasional cough or tickle in our throat. We have both been feeling a certain level of anxiety because of the pandemic. We are worried about our family in CA, each other, and our own health.
It is difficult to put into words. Violence against Asians in America has been glossed over for decades. I would encourage any Asian American who does not know the name Vincent Chin to Google his name and learn his story. My message to other Asian American medical workers is to try and rise above hatred. We are integral parts of our country’s response to COVID-19. We play a vital role and no one can take that away from us. We are Americans, period. Pity those who throw hateful words at us because they are being un-American.
I was called racial slurs in broad daylight by someone a few weeks ago after I had come off a string of days conducting COVID-19 tests. I feel that as much as all healthcare workers (HCWs) are celebrated right now, there needs to be equal energy directed at supporting HCWs of Asian descent. I implore HCWs of every ethnic background to support their Asian American colleagues and call out problematic speech and behavior when they see it (in a safe way, of course).
I’m a board-certified plastic surgeon. I was born in Japan but was raised in Vancouver, Canada. I was trained in Canada and moved to the U.S 15 years ago. I specialize in cosmetic plastic surgery.
I no longer work at the hospital, but we shut down our private practice for five weeks for the good of our community. I do feel fortunate in that I have not experienced racism in our current situation. The population of Hawaii is predominantly Asian so we are sheltered from those concerns.
Although the origin of COVID-19 may have been from China, blaming people of Asian heritage for this pandemic is ignorant and wrong. I would hope stories like Dr. Chen Fu will raise awareness of this issue and prevent this from happening to Asian American doctors and healthcare workers.
I am a Japanese-American, born and raised near Philadelphia. I am an interventional radiologist, meaning I perform minimally-invasive image-guided therapies for anything from oncology to vascular disease.
We have had to postpone many outpatient procedures to minimize risk to HCWs and at-risk patients. Unfortunately, this often means that patients with the diagnosis of cancer or potentially have cancer will have to wait for their diagnosis and treatment. However, much of our procedures are inpatient or considered urgent so we have remained pretty busy. Because of the essential nature of our service, we tried to split our teams as much as possible to prevent a mass exposure from causing illness or quarantine that would limit the availability of people throughout the hospital. Procedures done on COVID-19 positive patients are done at bedside if possible, or in a converted negative pressure cardiovascular lab in the operating room if fluoroscopy is required.
Thankfully, I have not encountered any personal attacks or discrimination. I have had colleagues that have been heckled leaving the hospital or who have had patients themselves make comments about their race. The doctor who could save your life might end up being Asian, and we will treat you compassionately no matter your race.
The thing that struck me most about Dr. Fu’s story is the racism he encountered when he was in scrubs obviously on his way to the hospital. I have treated all kinds of people, from inmates to white supremacists, and everyone is respectful to their doctors because they know their lives are in the doctor’s hands. Now, with this irrational fear of Asians, that line of respect is being blurred. I don’t need to be treated like a hero, but I do need to be able to do my job without fear for my safety.
Also, as a Japanese-American whose family was impacted by the internment during World War II, it has saddened me that there have been calls on Asians to increase their patriotism. This mindset led to the assimilation of Japanese-Americans to the point where their unique culture was lost. I don’t believe that we need to prove our American-ness, we are just as American as everyone else.
I am the daughter of Filipino immigrants. My parents immigrated in the ’70s during the large healthcare worker immigration- my father is a general surgeon who was educated in the Philippines, but completed his residency in the US. I am a double board-certified pain management physician and anesthesiologist
Prior to the pandemic, I was doing outpatient chronic pain management 90-95% of the time and surgery center anesthesia half a day a week. I performed injections and minimally invasive surgery for pain from the low back, neck, abdomen, pelvis, etc. Since the pandemic, I joined a group of anesthesiologists to form the invasive lines team to take care of COVID-19 patients
Some people have targeted Asian and Asian-Americans because the first outbreak of the disease was in Wuhan, China. I personally have not experienced anything, but I have read about Chinese and Chinese Americans being physically assaulted for not wearing a mask or for simply being Asian and may have also endured racial slurs.
Many people are thankful that we continue to work and we will continue as long as we need to. Honestly, many healthcare workers, including myself, are uncomfortable with the “hero” title. I feel like I have a specialized skill set as an anesthesiologist that is of great use, especially during this time. However, I am merely showing up and doing my job. I am fortunate to have appropriate PPE at my hospital. I realize this is not the case everywhere. I feel like we are also being villainized when we try to give guidelines that people do not want to hear, especially regarding how and when to reopen the country.
I am Chinese American and I decided to become a rheumatologist because of my own disease. A rheumatologist mainly treats arthritis and autoimmune disease. My struggles with my own disease have motivated me to help others and empathize with those who are dealing with the same medical problems.
My office has stopped all procedures and have switched to telemedicine. I am taking care of more coronavirus patients on top of taking care of rheumatology patients while in the hospital.
Being Asian-American in the medical field has not changed much for me. However, some of my colleagues have had racist comments made towards them just because they were Asian. It is hard being Asian-American at this time even though we are taking care of coronavirus in the hospital as we also have to fight the racist virus outside the hospital. Hearing about racist comments and hate crimes towards other fellow Asians in the USA has been heartbreaking.
It is very hard being an Asian-American doctor at this time. We are helping fight this virus in the hospital but at the same time when we are out of the hospital, people see us as Asians and possibly linked to the coronavirus despite the fact that we are doctors fighting the same battle that everyone else is fighting.
I am Vietnamese-American and I started my career as a general surgeon and am specializing in plastic surgery. Soon, I will be in my last year of plastic surgery fellowship.
During COVID, my plastic surgery program, as well as my institution, took great measures to decrease exposure to its staff. We decreased to half staff and alternated weeks on and off. As a plastic surgery fellow, many of our elective cases were canceled to maintain safety of our patients and hospital staff, however any urgent reconstructive cases still continued keeping us busy.
I’m fortunate to not have experienced any racism or negative remarks firsthand. However, I have heard countless attacks or comments to fellow physicians, some risking their health and safety on the frontlines. Hearing these accounts always makes you concerned about how other people perceive your external appearance even if they haven’t outwardly expressed it. This looming fear or anxiety is unprecedented, something that I never felt I had to worry about before.
I worry about how my race will affect how my patients perceive me and how it will affect their trust in me, not because of my skill or intelligence but because of my background. I am lucky and hopeful that I will never have to experience that.
I was born in Shanghai, China, and grew up in Michigan. I have now been on staff at Mayo Clinic for six years, taking care of patients in the outpatient setting and nursing homes while educating learners on all levels including medical students, residents, and fellows.
COVID-19 impacted my outpatient practice and nursing home practice. In an effort to keep our patients and community safe, many long term care facilities were on strict lockdown, which limited our ability to care for them face to face. We needed to quickly adapt to these changes and discover other ways to take care of them including telemedicine options, which unfortunately had its limitations when dealing with multiple chronic health issues and complex care coordination needs. Despite maximizing our efforts, the infection still made its way into these vulnerable populations across the nation which was very devastating to see. It reminded us how ill-prepared we are for situations like these, not just in the hospital setting, but across the community and especially in our older adults.
For me, being an Asian American in the medical field during this time is the same as it has always been. We are a part of a team, and that has not changed. We are all critical players despite our background and race, and we should not let the increase in discrimination downplay our skills, efforts, or worth. Our goals as healthcare workers are uniform- we want to keep our patients healthy, safe, and alive. We want to do everything in our power to meet these goals, which do not discriminate. Racial attacks may have increased, but I believe this is largely driven by fear and misconception. I still choose to believe that deep down, people have good intentions and hatred or fear can only be broken through building good relationships, listening to each other, and taking care of each other with kindness.
It saddens me to wonder if the perception of Asian-Americans has changed permanently because of this pandemic. It saddens me, even more, to recognize that there are many people who feel discriminated against in some way every day of their lives and were born into this. Discrimination and racism of any kind should not exist, but the roots run deep and span many generations across many cultures. It is my hope that we will continue to break this mentality throughout time.
I’m a gastroenterologist sub-specializing in advanced endoscopy. I’m an assistant professor of medicine at Jefferson Health in Philadelphia and I’m also the director of the endoscopic bariatric program and chief medical social media officer for the institution.
We aim to minimize exposure to our patients and staff, conserve resources while making sure that people who need urgent procedures can still get the care they need. We’ve had to postpone non-urgent procedures and reconfigure our schedules so we can take turns caring for patients in the hospital. We’ve also had to figure out our protocols for COVID testing and equipping ourselves with appropriate protective gear when encountering patients. Additionally, we are having to anticipate how to reopen our practice to prioritize those who need immediate attention.
It has been an interesting dichotomy. I have encountered one instance where someone shouted a racially-motivated coronavirus reference at me despite the fact that I was in medical garb. Fortunately, I consider Philadelphia to be a diverse city, and I can only hope that this translates to acceptance and understanding. Health professionals regardless of race are working hard to protect and treat our patients. It’s a difficult and stressful time for everyone, so we could all benefit from exercising a little more empathy through all this.
I am a board-certified dermatologist in private practice. I am originally from Oahu and did my medical school training there at the University of Hawaii John A. Burns School of Medicine where I met my wife in our first year of medical school. We both moved to Boston to do our residency training. I did my internship in internal medicine and my dermatology residency at Harvard Medical School. My wife, Dr. Erina Sugai, is a hospitalist physician in the Seattle area on the frontlines battling COVID-19.
When the pandemic started, we immediately responded by cutting our outpatient clinic time to a small fraction where I was only working 1-2 half days a week and limiting my practice to high-risk medication follow-ups and emergency cases in order to lessen the burden on our local ERs and Urgent Care centers. I had diagnosed fast-growing skin cancers and helped treat serious skin infections and blistering rashes during the pandemic. Thankfully the curve has flattened, and we are able to slowly open up clinic hours to more patients.
My wife and I are Asian-American physicians and I have personally experienced racism during my medical training years before this pandemic. Thankfully we have not experienced racial discrimination or hate during this pandemic but I am very concerned for my fellow Asian-Americans. Our healthcare workers are on the frontlines fighting this virus and caring for our communities yet are facing racism outside of the hospital. There is no way hate will be the answer to these dark times; only love will heal us eventually. It will take time to recover from this but we will get through this together as a community.
We as physicians have a duty to our communities, to serve and put our families and our own health on the line but the public should not take that for granted regardless of race. The profession of medicine is a noble one but I feel that it also keeps us from standing up for ourselves to not come off as “unprofessional” or “insensitive.” Physician burnout is a real thing that has led many to suicide and depression. Moreover, physicians are facing pay cuts during this pandemic despite risking their lives every day. Physicians do not deserve nor have the time or energy to battle the racial hate that is inflicted on them outside of the hospital — on the subway or in the grocery store. We need to not only flatten the curve of infections but also flatten the curve of hate during these dark times.
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Milk Makeup knows how to hype up a good launch, even in quarantine.
Known for being 100% vegan and all about self-expression, Milk Makeup works hard to put out nothing but the very best time and time again. Cult-favorite lip + cheek sticks, Hydro Grip Primer, and of course their KUSH line. They know what they’re doing that’s for sure.
Their latest launch expanded on their KUSH line and came right on time for 4/20. Though it could have been really difficult to create buzz around a new launch, Milk Makeup had no problem teasing their new KUSH Triple Brow Pen on Instagram and announcing a live tutorial just days before. But they didn’t stop there, they also launched 3 color versions of their popular Kush Lip Glaze.
Featuring a triple tip like no other brow pen we’ve seen before and the power to fill, condition, and detail. The product comes in eight different shades and you can make your swipes as minimal or intense as you’d like depending on your preference. It’s water-resistant and uses plant-derived and sunflower oil along with aloe to hydrate and condition even the thickest of brow hairs. The felt applicator is angled and triple tipped perfect for feathering in hair-like strokes. Milk Makeup says it best themselves, “the look of microbladed brows, no appointment necessary”, and we can’t disagree.
This pen was exactly what my untamed beastly quarantined brows needed. Usually, I skip filling in my brows because I’m both terrible & lazy about it. However, this pen has taught me it’s easy and I swear, I have a new face now.
I must admit, once revealing the tip of the pen I was a bit intimidated. I wondered how a tiny tip resembling a crab claw could help me out. I wasn’t sure how to start and I thought it would be best to practice on my hand a couple of times. When I was ready to commit to my brows, I tried to be as light as possible to create a feathered look. It’s actually an incredibly easy-to-use pen and the triple tip actually acts as a guide when applying. Since it’s waterproof, you’ll need an oil-based makeup remover but it slides right off. Milk Makeup recommends you store it upside down or horizontally to take care of it.
A high shine lip glaze with all the good stuff and none of the sticky sh*t. The launch included 2 new shades, Nova & Rosebud. The cult-favorite product only came in clear before these were released. These can be used alone for subtle color or on top of any lip color to add high shine and lots of pigment. TBH, I’ve been trying both ways. Plant-derived oils, shea, cocoa, and mango butters create the magic behind the hydration these glazes offer. Perhaps the best part is they taste like peppermint.
I’ve never met a shiny gloss that isn’t sticky, until these. I usually opt for subtle lipsticks over glosses because I can’t stand stickiness. I was unsure if the lip glazes would be sticky given the word ~glaze~ but both colors were too up my alley to not try. I’m bad at describing colors but I feel Nova is a subtle orangy nude while Rosebud is a dusty light rose. Both formulas are soy-free and gluten-free.
I’m pretty fair-skinned and my lip color already resembles something like Rosebud. But, after telling a few friends about these new lip glazes they wanted them too. It’s clear these shades are universal and complement many skin tones and lip colors. Also, I tried them with a full face of makeup, and then on days when I went makeup-free…they just work for whatever vibe.
First thoughts: insanely pretty colors. If you’re looking for a bold lip, these aren’t it. But, if you’re looking for a fancy natural gloss that can take you from a day of errands to date night…these ARE IT. Although they’re considered ‘high shine’ I thought they offered an effortless, natural-looking sheen. They left my lips hydrated all day long and never once became sticky. Oh, and they taste good due to that peppermint extract.
Milk Makeup launched some awesome new products within their KUSH line
The triple brow pen takes some practice but your brows will never look better
It was quarantine’s last straw when pimples started sprouting up left and right the other day.
I don’t know about you, but my skin type feels like it’s completely changed in the past few weeks. Friends have told me that I’m not alone as they’re experiencing severe dry patches on their faces like never before. Others say they’ve become increasingly more oily. Why TF is this?!
I had to ask a dermatologist for answers and was heartened to know that Dr. Lamees Hamdan was open for my interrogations. Dr. Hamdan (@shiffbeauty) has been studying dermatology for over 20 years. When it came time to merge her medical background and love of beauty she launched her skincare company, Shiffa, and her supplement company, DL.MD. She says there are three key reasons as to why we’re experiencing changes in our skin and seeing an increase in acne.
Lack of exercise. Turns out moving our bodies is one of the biggest culprits of bad skin. “Exercise is a time where we let go of a lot of stress and receive oxygenation to our skin,” she tells Very Good Light. “And if we’re not getting enough exercise or as much as we’re used to due to quarantine, it can seriously mess with our skin’s ability to breathe and maintain a healthy moisture barrier.”
Diet. Simple carbs and sugars have been comforting us in a time like this but it hasn’t been doing our skin any favors. “Sugar causes inflammation and it also wreaks havoc with your blood glucose levels, creating inflammation and then a lot of acne as well,” says Dr. Lamees. (You can read more about your diet in quarantine here.)
Stress. We know how stress can influence our skin. Breakouts, red patches, puffiness; we’ve seen it all. And even if you’re handling everything well during this time, it doesn’t negate the fact that you could still be stressed. Scrambling to turn in last-minute assignments or dealing with the woes of online learning/remote work…there’s a lot that can be stressing us out right now.
So what are the solutions? Dr. Hamdan gives us a crash course of her recommendations, below!
Acids are your BFFs!
Dr. Hamdan believes everyone should own a toner or peel containing salicylic and glycolic acid. We can’t disagree, both acids are heroes in treating and healing acne during many different stages. Salicylic acid is a beta-hydroxy acid or a ‘BHA’ and it’s a very common ingredient within most acne products.
Glycolic acid is an alpha-hydroxy acid or ‘AHA,’ one of the smallest on a molecular level, allowing for deep skin penetration. Glycolic acid is responsible for taking away the pigmentation that your pimple leaves behind. Dr. Hamdan says if you have a darker skin tone, glycolic acid is especially important as often the pigmentation can be seen longer than the pimple itself.
Finding a salicylic and glycolic acid peel or a liquid solution is key to treating your quarantine acne. Dr. Hamdan recommends using a liquid solution as a spot treatment every night. If you have a peel, she says to start your routine twice a week using it as a mask on your entire face. You can wash it off and continuing the rest of your routine as usual.
To help your pores out a bit, steam them! Sometimes they need a little extra nudge to get that bacteria and gunk out that is causing you to break out. Fill a bowl of hot water and put a few drops of tea tree, thyme, or even rosemary essential oils in. If you don’t have those on hand, Dr. Hamdan says a squeeze of lemon will do the trick. Letting your face sit over the steaming bowl of water will open your pores and help with any puffiness due to decongestion or inflammation. Pro tip:You can do this as many times a week as you’d like before you begin your nighttime skincare routine.
If you need to give your existing pimples a little bit more love and you have any essential oils or a fresh lemon on hand, you can spot treat with those as well. Tea tree, lavender, and even chamomile are perfect for this. Just be careful if you’re using an oil that is ‘neat’ or ‘straight’ to dilute with water a bit.
If there’s one thing Dr. Hamdan is passionate about, it’s muslin cloths and their benefits. She coins them as “the cheapest skincare game-changer, ever.” With any cleanser or mask, rinsing it off with a muslin cloth offers a slight amount of exfoliation, improves your circulation, and brightens the look of your skin almost instantly. And, they’re 100% eco friendly! Just wash and reuse.
Using a clay mask once or twice a week is great because we’re not going outdoors. By not going outside as much, our skin isn’t being exposed to important vitamins and minerals. Dr. Hamdan loves clay masks due to their richness in silica and other minerals that our body and skin needs to remain healthy and balanced. Clay masks can help combat excess oil and draw out any impurities stuck deep into your skin. If you have cystic acne, clay masks are able to get deep, deep into your pores and ease the inflammation and bacteria that causes your painful cysts.
While now seems like the perfect time to catch up and indulge in a crazy number of treatments within our skincare regimen, we can’t overdo it. By overdoing it, we could be stripping our skin and causing breakouts.
Instead, Dr. Hamdan recommends taking the time to treat your skin with care while making sure not to overwhelm it. Taking the time to cleanse a bit better, adding in a 2 minute facial massage, masking regularly, and even a FaSha tool to improve your circulation and get your lymphatic system moving. With these steps in mind, rest assured, even if you don’t get your perfect quarantined skin, don’t worry. “Perfect” is subjective after all. Truly, all that matters if that you’re safe, healthy, and staying hydrated.
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Being Asian American means that you’ve always been enraged.
We know melatonin is the natural hormone that regulates our snooze time.
But the ingredient is now being touted in beauty products as of late. It makes sense, especially for nighttime skincare routines. From soothing lotions, a depuffing eye cream, or an infused toner, melatonin seems perfect for getting you that restorative sleep and glow. Sounds dreamy.
According to the Sleep Foundation, melatonin is the hormone responsible for controlling your sleep and wake cycle. When something excites us, our brain releases dopamine. And when our brain notices the day changing to night melatonin is released to help us sleep better. It’s commonly in pill form or tea to take before bed if you have trouble falling asleep with your natural release of melatonin.
How can melatonin help your skin?
Besides helping you catch some zzz’s, melatonin is rich in antioxidants. It’s one of those ingredients that seriously feeds your skin with much-needed nourishment. Because we’re exposed to free radical damage from the sun and environmental pollution we need antioxidants to protect us and help turn over new cells. Ultimately, it will help fend off the visible signs of aging due to environmental stressors. After all, pollution is the second leading cause of aging, with sun exposure being the number 1 cause.
My skin is very oily and honestly, I wish I had tried a serum stick sooner. I’m always on the fence if I need gel-like serums or oil-based serums. Sticks really seem to cater to everyone. But sometimes, when a product claims to be hydrating it makes me feel and look even more oily than normal. However, this was not the case with this product.
Using the Melatonin Overnight Serum by Milk Makeup gave a new experience to my bedtime ritual. The cooling and instantly hydrating feeling the serum gives paired with the calming scent of lavender relaxes and soothes your skin. I truly felt ready to drift away into a relaxing slumber. And in the morning, my face has been looking renewed and replenished almost as if I just had an intensive facial treatment.
I totally recommend popping it in the fridge and putting it on when your face is damp from toner or facial spray. You’ll thank me when you’re feeling calm, cool, collected, and oh so dewy. $36 isn’t a new price when it comes to Milk Makeup serum sticks, but it can seem a little steep. However, the stick is a good size and after 2 weeks of using it, it’s clear you’d have to coat your face a ridiculous amount of times before you make a dent. I can see this lasting me a while and I reallyyy like to lay on the serums. So do with that what you will.
Its antioxidant benefits go far beyond melatonin. A berry blend of goji, blueberry, blackberry, and acai also load your skin up with a defense to fight free radical damage. Persian silk tree extract helps to balance your skin’s melatonin levels which leave you waking up looking more refreshed than ever. At the same time, this serum aims to hydrate with hyaluronic acid and soothes your skin with the scents of lavender oil and chamomile extract. From the ingredients alone, this product is a real experience for your skin and your senses.
The Melatonin Overnight Lip Mask is no different ingredient-wise when compared to the serum. And they’re lovely when used together. I’m a die-hard Laneige lip mask fan so I wondered about the differences. I bite my lips when stressed and I don’t always give them the TLC that they need. There was a clear visual difference when I woke up in the morning after using the melatonin lip mask compared to my trusty Laneige. They looked more hydrated, a bit more plumped, and felt super soft. Normally I wake up and my lips are still a bit chapped and not as healthy looking. It was a good thing to feel.
The only thing I wish is that it came with a little spatula of some sort to scoop and spread the product. I ended up using one from another product so NBD. For the little your lips need and how big the pot is, $22 is a great price too.
Melatonin is the buzzy ingredient in skincare now
It can help with antioxidant replenishment and protection against free radicals