Skin ish Mom Column

#SkinishMom – Mirror Mirror on the Wall, is being the Fairest Worth it All?

Want to know if something is huge business? Check out Google Ads.

You don’t need to read statistics or wordy reports, a quick way is to type in ‘Skin Whitening’ and viola, count the number of ads that appear. Where I am, there’re 11 ads on the first search results page. For the fun of it, try ‘Skin Bleaching’ and there’re 10 ads. One of which caught my eye – Anal and Vaginal Bleaching.

It’s real – women do bleach their vagina and there was an advertisement by an Indian cosmetic product Clean and Dry Intimate that caught the attention of website Jezebel in 2012. The video had been taken down but basically, if you have a fairer vagina, your husband will ignore you no longer.

SkinishMom Cartoon Column Skin Whitening

Skin whitening is huge and controversial business everywhere. The latest controversy is Canada’s Toronto train coming under fire in Dec 2014 for displaying ads featuring lightening of african and asian women’s skin.

I don’t judge. Especially for so many women who risk severe side effects for fairer skin in developing nations, why do they do that? I couldn’t find a report with statistics on whether life after skin bleaching improves but whatever the motivation, it is driving over 70% of Nigerian women, 60% of Togo women, 60% of Indian women, over 30% of south african women to regularly use skin whitening product. In the black market, products are not regulated and even injected into the skin when it is to be applied topically.

Fairer skin is sought in developed nations too. Check out products in stores and many of them have some whitening element to it. Does fairer skin really give us better life? It is accepted that good looks get you further in life – this article ‘Do good looks get you further in life?’ on Courier Mail explores many facets of it. There’s a funny part that says productivity increases when you feel you look good or when you are around good looking people, so we can’t totally disqualify good looks from getting a pay premium.

My take is

1. Avoid direct sun, apply sunscreen – not just to be fair but for protection against skin cancer. Sunlight exposure ages skin too, so quit getting a sun tan then go looking for products to make you younger. Btw, on having to sun to get Vitamin D, you need no more than 15 minutes. After that, it’s sun burn all the way (whether you see it or not).

2. If bleaching your skin is to 

a. Make you love yourself more

b. Make someone love you more

c. Make you more successful in life

these are likely voids that will not be filled even after your skin is fairer. Instead, apply Matthew 6:33 ‘But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.’ (I know I sound preachy, but I believe it.)

Finally, I can’t assume everyone reading this will take my word for it. So, if you still want to whiten your skin, avoid the following ingredients.

1. Mercury – it’s no brainer right? Since young, we are taught not to go anywhere near the broken mercury thermometer and you should never clean it up with bare hands. Mercury causes rash and psychiatric, neurological and kidney problems. It is banned.

2. Hydroquinone – Used to be very common but banned now or limited to 2%. It blocks the production of melanin, which gives the skin its color. However, its side effects are blue-darkening effect of skin, causing an untreatable skin discoloration Ochronosis. More here on DermNetNZ

3. Glucocorticosteroids – It doesn’t make sense that we are so steroid phobic when it comes to our kids but use skin whitening products with steroids. Steroids give the impression that skin has whitened as the blood vessels are constricted after use.

4. Topical retinoids – This causes skin thinning, sensitivity under sun and is a risk to pregnancy.

Hey, if fairer skin works to get your husband to love you, he’s not worth it at all.

Skin ish Mom Column

Ask #Skinish Mom – How to Fend Off Well-Intentioned Eczema Tips from the Ignorant?

Have a skin, eczema or parenting question? Ask #SkinishMom
Have a skin, eczema or parenting question? Ask #SkinishMom

To the #Skinish Mom:

My son has eczema and it’s quite obvious on his neck and joints. I get  unsolicited advice all the time – some of it are outright wrong, like to make sure I wash his skin thoroughly with soap! Soap! The one thing not to use on eczema skin! How should I respond  – I so feel like telling them to f* off but I know it’s so wrong to do so.

Anonymous Mom


I totally understand – the frustration (at getting tips all the time as if we are stupid and can’t read EczemaBlues for the right advice), the complete waste of time to pretend to listen to tips which we either already know or know it’s useless and the difficulty of how to get the person to stop giving advice without sounding offensive. Here are what I suggest, use at your own discretion:

Unsolicited Eczema Tips for Baby Skin

Babysitting Eczema Baby

1. Take Your Brain Elsewhere – We all know it’s hard to practice being present at every moment. Now is the chance to actively practice not being present.

Best part? Doing this will fend off dementia.

Harvard Health Letter’s executive editor Heidi Godman wrote an article in April 2014 “Regular exercise changes the brain to improve memory, thinking skills” and it gave me the idea – when you don’t want to listen to the person, but feel obligated to pretend to be, do (i) Memorize something (for me, I would run through bible verses) and (ii) Fidget like you need to pee. If you are munching dark chocolate at the same time, you are on your way to a healthy brain from diet, exercise and brain training. If the person stops and asks if you’re ok, say you need to pee and really got to go, ciao!

2. Stop the Talk before the Talker Gets Going – Take it from me – I give advice all the time and once I start, I can’t stop (evidently!). So, the trick is to stop the talk before it gathers the momentum that will snowball you.

Of course you ask, how do I do that? State as it is but trick the person’s brain – ‘Gosh, don’t get me started. There is so much to do for an eczema child which reminds me I got to find that hypoallergenic detergent. You don’t want to hear how difficult it can be, got to run!’ See, how diplomatic it is – the ‘me’ and ‘you’ reversed without hurting anyone’s feelings.

3. Reverse the Situation – Try this only if you have plenty of time. See (or think!) giving advice never work. You’d know since you are precisely trying not to listen to the advice without even hearing it. From Professor Thomas G. Plante on Psychology Today, he wrote “research using reactance theory informs us that whenever someone tells us what to do and how to do it, we respond with a defensive defiance because we want to maximize our personal freedom and decision making.” So, if you start giving advice and sharing your eczema skincare knowledge on sensitive skin productsstaph bacteria and skin pH, you may be at the receiving end of an excuse to run off!

Wait, should I really listen? Yes, if that person is a dermatologist (not just any doc).

Why should I wreck my brains to find a way to excuse myself? That’s additional work for me that I don’t need!

Practically, it is better for you to use some brain cells and be diplomatic about not listening than outright blowing the person off. 1st, you use your brain. 2nd, you save the agony of worrying that you have been rude and 3rd, you come out feeling good about how cleverly you’ve handled the situation and celebrate it for at least a few hours after. Maybe even boast to your spouse. (But keep the boasting short, you want to impress not nag.)

Skin ish Mom Column

#Skinish Mom – There’s more to Skin Tingling than Scarlett Johansson

On 20 December 2014, the research paper by Melanie L. Shoup-Knox Ph.D. titled Physiological changes in response to hearing female voices recorded at high fertility was reported on The Telegraph. It was further reported by The Daily Mail, Medical Daily amongst others. The gist is that voices of females recorded at their most fertile period produced the greatest increase in galvanic skin response. 

Put simply – Fertile women electrify the skin of men (and other women too!)

Wait a minute, why would women be attracted to women? It’s got nothing to do with LGBT but Dr Melanie’s interview response in The Telegraph was “Women, on the other hand, may get a competitive advantage from detecting the fertility status of other females.’’

What’s all this to do with Scarlett Johansson? Well, she has a deep, supposedly sexy voice, attractive enough for Theodore (played by Joaquin Phoenix) to fall in love with (Samantha, the intelligent OS) and we all listened in for 126 minutes of the movie Her.

Skinish Mom Cartoon Columnist Skin Tingling Men

So, what’s Not About Scarlett Johansson? You see (or rather feel), tingling is more likely due to medical condition than physical attraction. The ‘news angle’ when this study came up was female voice, fertility and reproduction. But Skinish Mom’s focus is on skin. Surely, there’s more to skin tingling than mating. Here’s a list of the possible medical conditions:

Anxiety attack – Case in point: If you get anxious after drinking caffeine, there’s higher autonomic arousal meaning higher heart rate and skin conductance level.

Arsenic attack – It’s no joke if you’re a copper smelting worker. The higher arsenic air level leads to tingling in the legs.

Anaesthetics attack – There are studies of tingling after local anesthetics’ use, especially in dentistry. Btw, epidural also results in paresthesia in up to 20% of patients, well, I’m the lucky 1 out of 5.

Carpal tunnel syndrome



Multiple Sclerosis


Transient ischemic attack (TIA) aka mini-stroke

You get the point, it’s not about Scarlett Johansson. There’s no need to list a full possible list of medical conditions, though if you are experiencing tingling and fear it’s more than the passing pins and needles, read PubMed Health.

Educational note 1: Tingling is medically known as Paresthesia, defined as an abnormal body sensation, such as numbness, tingling, or burning.

Educational note 2: Galvanic Skin Response (GSR) is the measurement of skin electrical conductance.

Side note 1: I really like the movie Her from beginning to middle but find it too boring to reach the end. So I never knew the ending!

Side note 2: I discovered a very cool gal Samara O’Shea, who launched a letter-writing service in 2005, way before the movie Her – read Samara’s take on Her.

Side note 3: Why would anyone study women’s voice? Well, everyone’s interest is different and that’s how our society progresses. We can’t all be the financiers who brought down Wall Street. Dr Melanie’s interest is in evolutionary psychology and her other studies were on yawning. Yawning induces brain cooling and thus linked to medical conditions affecting cranial-facial blood circulation. Gotcha (yawning).

Skin ish Mom Column

#SkinishMom – EczemaBlues Friday Columnist

Have a skin question? Want to vent on raising an eczema child? #SkinishMom on twitter!
Have a skin question? Want to vent on raising an eczema child? Or simply chat with a mom who doesn’t judge? Write in via comments and your question will get a reply (on or off the column). Or #SkinishMom on twitter or G+!

This year, Friday’s post will be a column from The Skinish Mom – who is she and what’s the column about?

The Skinish Mom is

  • A mom who loves the QUIRKY facts about skin – she loves to get the skinny on the skin!
  • A mom who is absolutely BIAS towards eczema kids’ families – she knows life’s never a breeze for them and she’s heroic in holding the storm off for them.
  • A mom who doesn’t JUDGE – but she has tons of opinions (otherwise she won’t be writing a column!). What she doesn’t judge is another mom’s parenting, after all, she would rather chill with a latte than to discipline kids.
  • A mom whose God is the God in heaven, who sent Jesus to die for her and whose Holy Spirit dwells in her – in essence, a CHRISTIAN.

#SkinishMom Column is all about

  1. The Skinish Mom – she writes what she cares about, namely skin, life with eczema, parenting and sometimes, being a christian. She doesn’t care much for politics or world view, it’s simply not her genre.
  2. You – You ask your question and she picks one to answer every Friday. Send in your questions via comments on this column, or vent on Twitter or G+ with #SkinishMom – if you vent with #SkinishMom, expect her to be checking in!
  3. Nope, that’s it. The 3rd is NOYB because it’s about The Skinish Mom meeting targets set by her boss, MarcieMom, owner of this blog

#SkinishMom doesn’t have a day off, her first piece is right here.