The Acne entries #5: my cheeks are angbaos


The lucky colour that gets plastered everywhere a month before the Lunar New Year arrives. Red decorations, red Chinese calligraphy pieces, clothes, the caps of alllllll the tidbit containers and of course, the angbao. Also, I see red when I hear the relentless ‘chiang-chiang-chiang’ music while I’m trying to grocery shop my anxiety away. (Okay lah, it does add to the festive mood, not gonna lie.)

The angbao is a well-sought red envelope for non-married folk during this period ‘coz it contains money inside (known as 压岁钱, or ya-su’ay-chi’ann, AKA money to make you age slower). I realised that my cheeks are red and also contain gold (pus) inside. Thus, my cheeks are angbaos and therefore,

I am an angbao.


It has long passed but HAPPY LUNAR NEW YEAR!

OKAY. Jokes aside, y’all are here for skin updates! Well, how about a little rant first?

Context: my aesthetician is not aware that I have started on retinol. Thus, in case of any cross-reactivity going on between the products I use and the products they use, I avoided the retinol step 2-3 days before my facial appointment.

My 7th facial treatment finally happened after…7 weeks. At this point, my belief in facials for acne treatment has dwindled. Some of you might have wanted to throw a shoe at me from the start of this journey when I first mentioned facials but I guess it is a journey for me nonetheless.

  • My appointments are getting more and more spaced apart? First it was every 3-4 weeks, then 5-6 and now 6-7 weeks? My aesthetician naturally wondered if my skin condition wasn’t improving because my treatments are spaced too far apart. To which I replied with a resounding, ‘yes.’
  • Extractions. I now have a huge, huge appreciation for aestheticians that know which pimples to pop and which to avoid. Heck, this session I had this super pimple (many ones combined into a giant one) that was inflamed. It hurt and it felt fragile, like it was going to pop and ooze dark pus anytime. I played with the idea of asking her not to pop it. And of course, I hesitated and the ship sailed. She popped the damn thing and squeezed. Another aesthetician that I had experience with wouldn’t have popped that, and would say to let it resolve naturally. A week passed and that area was still red, newly inflamed and oozing lymph. A crater has formed and it is obviously going to leave a scar. It has been a month and said crater is now a raging example of post-inflammatory erythema (PIE).


Taken a week after my appointment. A WEEK. It reminds me of caves carved into cliffs or rocks by ancient civilisations. By this point, I decided to leave it out to ‘air-dry’ overnight instead of patching ’em with a hydrocolloid patch.
  • The overly-priced skincare products. $190 for a 50mL bottle for blemishes?? A quick look at the active ingredients list after I purchased it made me mad: burdock root extract, salicylic acid, lactic acid and panthenol. Yes, it may be concentrated and pure but oh my god. I can find wayyyyyy more affordable options that do the same thing! No. As such, I am no longer getting these products, simply because I am more or less settled in my routine, which barely incorporates any of their own (simply because it’s too pricey to be used often).
  • Their hard sell tactics. I get it. It’s business. But damn, my spending power isn’t at that level yet. Know your customer, try, and then let them decide. I like how the air in the room comes to a standstill whenever she starts talking about new treatments or products to try. But after saying ‘no’ a couple of times, she does back off lah.

And I shan’t even mention when my next appointment is. *Laughs* But there’s hope for subsequent ones to be packed closer together. I just gotta book 3 appointments in advance after my next one.


So that’s the rant.

On to the actual update!

It has been nearly a month since the Lunar New Year and wew, past month was spent dealing with the aftermath of a festive let-it-go diet.

Just to be clear: I usually eat what I want. At the very most, I watch my sugar intake. A max of 2 cups of sweetened caffeine/theine (teh c bing siew dai AKA iced tea w/ evaporated milk and less sugar), and mayyyyybe one more sweet drink if I’m having dinner outside. Due to age (*whines*), my sweet tooth has shrunk and decayed (haha). Bubble tea orders have now dropped to 30% sugar or lower. Starbucks orders end with ‘less sweet’, while Kopitiam orders end with ‘siew dai’. The moment you start preferring ‘siew dai’ (less sweet in Cantonese), is the moment you are an adult. If you order ‘kosong’ (zero in Bahasa Melayu), you’re uncle/auntie status already.

SO. From 8th to 15th February,

I really, really let myself go.

Keropok (prawn crackers), bak kwa (sweet, spiced pork jerky), pineapple tarts, assorted tidbits and snacks. Orangessssssssss. The packet drinks. Oh my goodness.

There were a couple of days where I didn’t even drink water?? It was sweetened drinks all day. It got to the point where I got scared of packet Pokka Iced Lemon Teas. Just thinking of it makes me queasy.


Oh and not to mention, the processed foods I’ve been eating. (Have I mentioned Bak kwa?)

It’s a lot.

On Sunday night (初三, LNY day 3), my body started to prickle with heat. This happens sometimes when my body gets ‘heaty’ due to a lack of rest, stress and/or a diet filled with heaty foods (e.g. deep fried, spicy, rich foods). It simply feels like a fever, except that when you measure your temperature, the dang thermometer says you’re normal. On such days, I’d drink up more water and sleep early.

This time, however, I was watching The Queen’s Gambit when I started to (unknowingly) scratch my face. My partner noticed me doing that and stopped me. By then, a couple of angry, red bumps that resembled mosquito bites had already formed. It was so itchy. Naturally, the surrounding area got redder and my whole right cheek looked like it got scalded.

(Taken on 15th Feb, the day after the fiery cheek episode)

By the end of the week, my skin was still breaking out. Not only was it because of the sudden high intake of sugar, but because of my hormones. My menstrual cycle is now officially thrown out of whack. And the only lifestyle change I could pinpoint was my diet. How can I be so sure?

My cravings.

I’ve been craving clean food. Like veggies and fruits, fresh, light and crisp. The idea of having a huge bowl of salad with sauce and no meat excites me. I just had instant noodles with vegetables for lunch and welp, I guess my body hates oil and salt now. I feel so heavy and just unsatisfied.

Since then, I’ve been loading up on vegetables and fruits, filling my body with good, fresh, wholesome food while phasing out the sugary drinks that plagued my LNY.

Meanwhile, my skin has calmed down a lot, leaving my PIE marks, a good distance away from the angry, red nubs from a month ago.

In the spirit of new year; new beginnings, here’s to a reset that we all need at some point in our lives!

Till then,


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