Skin survivor guide: Southeast Asia

After a few weeks in Southeast Asia, it's a wonder how these women keep their skin in check with the soaring temperatures and high humidity. Sun exposure is the number one cause for premature aging skin. I have been spending a lot of time outdoors, so I also have to deal with pollution and mosquitoes (my worst enemy). Here are some tips to help your skin defend against the elements in this part of the world.

  1. Drink lots of water. You should drink at least 2 liters of water per day. That is around 8 glasses of water. If you're prone to sweating or accustomed to arid climates, then you should drink more water. Most hotels should provide you with bottled water for free. Otherwise, potable water is cheap and ubiquitous. If you're buying bottled water, make sure it's labeled as "mineral" water. 
  2. Bring the right wardrobe (or better yet buy there). Southeast Asia is hot and humid. I've started to embrace long sleeve, loose-fitting linen shirts and pants instead of the usual form-fitted tank and shorts. The markets offer seasonal climate-ready clothing at nearly rock-bottom prices compared to the USA. Just don't forget to bargain "gently." Typically, prices will be marked up at least 30%.
  3. Sunscreen will be your best friend. I like my sunscreens light and fast-absorbing. This is why I prefer gel sunscreens rather than creams. For my face, I currently use belif UV Protector Sunscreen Gel or Thank You Farmer Sun Project Light Essence. (More affordable alternatives include Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence and Missha All Around Safe Block Essence Sun.) For my body, I love products from Innisfree and RE:CIPE by Nature.
  4. "Travel light" applies to your skincare regiment. You can't bring your entire 10-step Korean skincare regimen with you, and the high humidity will your sebum production go into overdrive and lead to shiny skin. Look for products that combine multiple steps and lighter textures. Your core travel kit for daily use should include a cleanser, toner, essence/serum, moisturizer and eye cream. My personal favorites are Tosowoong Enzyme Powder Wash (technically not a liquid!), CosRX AHA/BHA Clarifying Treatment TonerHado Labo Gokujyun Super Hyaluronic Acid Hydrating Lotion, Mizon Snail Repair Intensive Ampoule, and Mizon Snail Repair Eye Cream. Don't forget the sunscreen! That's why I called it out as its own tip.
  5. Pamper yourself with masks. Mediheal is one of the top sheet mask brands in Korea. The Mediheal Collagen Impact Mask is their bestseller, but I like the Vita Lightbeam for that extra vitamin C. (Warning: Vitamin C will make your skin photo-sensitive, so be sure to only use before bed. If you must use during the day, then apply sunscreen more regularly.)
  6. Natural bug repellant. Citronella is natural, non-toxic and about as effective as DEET. I usually make my own. Wellness Mama has a great page for homemade bug sprays.