The Skinny Skin Skin

Hi everybody,

Since I came back to Vietnam, I got a huge crop of zits on my face. I know, tale as old as time but acne has been a big problem since I reached puberty. As I became older, my understanding of how my skin works has become a lot better, too. The main reasons for the huge breakout of 2011 are: (a) the extreme heat and humidity in Vietnam, and (b) pollution. When I was in Mui Ne, the air was clean and my zits actually calmed down. But once I reached Saigon, they came back. To add to the insult, I forgot to pack a tube of zit cream with me while I thought I did. Shame on me!

After two weeks of figuring out a skincare regimen to fit this weather scenario, I finally bumped into something that works. My Baumann skin type is OSPT (oily, sensitive, pigmented, tight) or skin type number 5. It does not change when I move to Vietnam, it just gets oilier. I am thankful for being able to figure out my skin type so I can customize products to fit it. The things that work so far are:

1. NeoStrata Foaming Glycolic Wash

Since I had weight restriction on my luggage, I had to pick and choose the skincare products to bring with me. Luckily, I brought NeoStrata Foaming Glycolic Wash with me and it was one of the best decision I made for this trip. While it was too drying to use on a daily basis in the winter while I lived in the Sunshine State, it is golden in this hot and humid weather. Not only it washes away the oil and dirt, the AHA and PHA in this face wash also helps shed away dead skin cells. Since I started using this product again last week, my skin has been less bumpy.

2. Physical Sunblock

Since I use the Glycolic Wash, I don't want to get sunburn on my newly exfoliated skin. I do wish that I brought something like Blue Lizard sunscreen with me. The one I use has both chemical and physical sunblock. I forgot to test it before I left and this thing left a rash on my neck. Now, I'm on a search for physical sunblock in Vietnam while covering myself with a hat wherever I go.

3. Prescription Acne Cream

After suffering over zits for the first week, I started going from pharmacy to pharmacy looking for products that contain tretinoids (Differin, Tazorac, Retin-A-Micro.) Since Vietnamese pharmacies do not need a prescription to sell these products, I can get them there the same way as buying over-the-counter medicine. Sadly, they don't sell Differin and Tazorac anymore. The new anti-acne product is T3 Mycin, which contains 1.2% clindamycin phosphate. A lot of medicines are released first in Asia and I'm not surprised to see T3 Mycin available here. (It was the same thing with Differin: I actually used it in 1998-1999, before it was prescribed in the U.S by dermatologists.)

A day into the T3 and my zits came down. The nascent ones disappeared overnight and the fully-bloomed ones shrank significantly. Except for a few that I needed to extract, T3 took care of the rest of them. I would expect it to show up in the U.S market in the next 5 years or so. Right now, there is not a lot of information about this product online.

And now, for the things that would not work:

  • Heavy creams and lotions: I basically don't use any skincare products beside those three since there is a lot of moisture in the air. The best anti-aging method is prevention and I cake on as much sunscreen as possible before heading out of the door.
  • Non-waterproof products: right now, I am scared of using mascaras as this humidity can really melt them off. As a matter of fact, I haven't used any makeup at all since I arrived. I prefer to let my skin adapting to the new environment first.
  • Heavy makeup: I start to believe that I'm at the shallow end of the gene pool when it comes to my skin. Vietnamese girls do have really nice skin that do not need foundation at all. I am so jealous of them. How they do that is still unknown to me and I'm determined not to cover myself up with makeup since I know they will be melted right off.

Yes, this is a tricky situation. I could barely deal with my skin during the summer when I lived in the Sunshine State. It's barely summer here in Vietnam but my skin already acted out. I will keep you updated of how my skin behaves in the next few months. In the mean time, if you have any tips to deal with OSPT skin, please let me know. I really appreciate it.
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