I f you set yourself a 45-day task, what would you hope to achieve? Killer abs? A new website? A business model? My most recent six-week goal was the road to better skin, something I’ve struggled with my entire life.
I’ve found it difficult over my near-30 years to stick to a skincare routine because of habitual and pretty devastating breakouts. I’ve suffered scars, endured overly-oily periods and dealt with extremely dry patches, resulting in a lot of time spent vacillating between tons of different cleansers and moisturizer combinations that simply never worked.
After being introduced to Saranghae a few months ago, and speaking with one of their in-house consultants, I thought I’d dedicate myself to creating a routine, and building a relationship between my skin and the products. If, in 45 days my entire business can go from brains to production to profitability, my skin should be able to transform itself with the aid of a few key ingredients and expert formulas, right?
One of the most rewarding things about using the same skincare over a considerable amount of time is you become more knowledgeable of the makeup and formulas behind the product. As a former scientist, this especially fascinates me as I’ve consistently strayed from product lines that either: A. aren’t upfront about what ingredients they’re putting in the bottle or B. put so many chemicals inside that I’m terrified to try it. Hence, when I discovered Saranghae and their natural 5-step skincare routine, I knew this could be a game changer. Korean beauty is booming in the US and very scientifically driven, so I was naturally intrigued, especially given the brand is both vegan and cruelty free. When I say nothing has ever worked for me, I mean nothing, and now that I am under more stress building and growing a startup, my skin had gotten worse. Below, I chat about the transformation my skin has undergone over the 45 days, and how sticking to a strict skincare regimen even helped me organize other areas of my life.
The 5-step routine behind Saranghae’s genius is anti-aging first and foremost, but for me, it was more about cleansing and achieving healthier skin (buying anti-aging formulas in your twenties acts as preventative skincare, so the younger you
begin using them, the better you’ll look when you’re older). I began with using just the eye cream and the oil + foam cleanser for a week, to allow my skin a period of adjustment from the products I was last using. After the first week, I added the essence + serum into my nightly routine. This product for me was the hero. In traditional Korean beauty, this is broken down into two separate formulas that primarily aim to stop inflammation and breakouts. Saranghae managed to meld them into one bottle, and after only a few weeks I was noticing a major reduction in breakouts around my problem areas (notably my chin and my t-zone). In my second week, I also used the elemental mask for the first time, accompanied by Netflix and a salt bath after a long day (this moment was truly the highlight of my week). Aside from the soothing properties of the entire evening, my skin was instantly brighter and I decided to wear no makeup the next day, which is extremely rare for me. And finally, I began applying the regeneration cream at the beginning of the third week, which helps repair damage skin cells. This was the most luxurious of the products for me and something I’ve become obsessed with applying right before bed. Each step in the routine has been thoughtfully formulated and works harmoniously together.
Something that’s extremely important to remember when starting a new skincare routine, is that you’re likely going to have breakouts. As your skin becomes accustomed to new products and new vitamins, acids and minerals, it will react and this is only natural. Sure, you might be the exception, but know that if you do suffer a breakout, it’s only because it’s your skin's way of repairing. Look at your new routine as you would a new boyfriend: things are going to be a little rickety in the beginning, but you’ll get into a good routine and work out the kinks. For
me, the first few weeks saw my skin go through periodic breakouts, while simultaneously reducing the appearance of old acne scarring on my face. This has been a source of real contention over the years and something I’m quite insecure about, so when I saw the scars beginning to even out, I really began believing in the formulas and routine.
No skincare routine is going to change your appearance in a week, but a good skincare routine will change your skin in 30-45 days (if you truly make a commitment and stay consistent). Sticking with this 5-step routine has drastically changed my complexion. Aside from reducing scarring on both my cheeks and jawline (something I had been considering laser therapy for, not anymore), it has reduced my breakouts to only once every couple of weeks. Before, I would habitually suffer breakouts two to three times a week, so this has been such a reward. I’m much more confident wearing less makeup (especially in this summer heat wave), and have taken to giving my skin two days a week to breathe without any foundation or concealer (my email-heavy days, we all have them ladies).
What I’ve learned is, with my skin (and everything in life), all good things come with time and perseverance. The longest I’ve stayed with a skincare routine before was the guts of two weeks. Taking this 45-day challenge made me really focus on my problem areas; what was working and what wasn’t.
My top tips:
- If experiencing an oily t-zone, use the essence serum once a day only
- When applying any of the products, work through with the tips of two fingers rather than a whole hand, this makes sure your face absorbs all the product rather than the palm of your hand
- Combine your sheet mask evening with a salt bath and some scented candles, and ditch the cell phone. You’ll thank yourself later
Think you might be ready for a 45-day skincare challenge? Perfect timing. Saranghae is challenging you to use the Complete 5 Step Routine for 45 Days and to share your own Love Story for a chance to be rewarded with more than just great skin. Read more about the Challenge here. I can’t wait to hear what you think!
Gender divisions in sports have primarily served to keep women out of what has always been believed to be a male domain. The idea of women participating alongside men has been regarded with contempt under the belief that women were made physically inferior.
Within their own division, women have reached new heights, received accolades for outstanding physical performance and endurance, and have proven themselves to be as capable of athletic excellence as men. In spite of women's collective fight to be recognized as equals to their male counterparts, female athletes must now prove their womanhood in order to compete alongside their own gender.
That has been the reality for Caster Semenya, a South African Olympic champion, who has been at the center of the latest gender discrimination debate across the world. After crushing her competition in the women's 800-meter dash in 2016, Semenya was subjected to scrutiny from her peers based upon her physical appearance, calling her gender into question. Despite setting a new national record for South Africa and attaining the title of fifth fastest woman in Olympic history, Semenya's success was quickly brushed aside as she became a spectacle for all the wrong reasons.
Semenya's gender became a hot topic among reporters as the Olympic champion was subjected to sex testing by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). According to Ruth Padawer from the New York Times, Semenya was forced to undergo relentless examination by gender experts to determine whether or not she was woman enough to compete as one. While the IAAF has never released the results of their testing, that did not stop the media from making irreverent speculations about the athlete's gender.
Moments after winning the Berlin World Athletics Championship in 2009, Semenya was faced with immediate backlash from fellow runners. Elisa Cusma who suffered a whopping defeat after finishing in sixth place, felt as though Semenya was too masculine to compete in a women's race. Cusma stated, "These kind of people should not run with us. For me, she is not a woman. She's a man." While her statement proved insensitive enough, her perspective was acknowledged and appeared to be a mutually belief among the other white female competitors.
Fast forward to 2018, the IAAF issued new Eligibility Regulations for Female Classification (Athlete with Differences of Sexual Development) that apply to events from 400m to the mile, including 400m hurdles races, 800m, and 1500m. The regulations created by the IAAF state that an athlete must be recognized at law as either female or intersex, she must reduce her testosterone level to below 5 nmol/L continuously for the duration of six months, and she must maintain her testosterone levels to remain below 5 nmol/L during and after competing so long as she wishes to be eligible to compete in any future events. It is believed that these new rules have been put into effect to specifically target Semenya given her history of being the most recent athlete to face this sort of discrimination.
With these regulations put into effect, in combination with the lack of information about whether or not Semenya is biologically a female of male, society has seemed to come to the conclusion that Semenya is intersex, meaning she was born with any variation of characteristics, chromosomes, gonads, sex hormones, or genitals. After her initial testing, there had been alleged leaks to media outlets such as Australia's Daily Telegraph newspaper which stated that Semenya's results proved that her testosterone levels were too high. This information, while not credible, has been widely accepted as fact. Whether or not Semenya is intersex, society appears to be missing the point that no one is entitled to this information. Running off their newfound acceptance that the Olympic champion is intersex, it calls into question whether her elevated levels of testosterone makes her a man.
The IAAF published a study concluding that higher levels of testosterone do, in fact, contribute to the level of performance in track and field. However, higher testosterone levels have never been the sole determining factor for sex or gender. There are conditions that affect women, such as PCOS, in which the ovaries produce extra amounts of testosterone. However, those women never have their womanhood called into question, nor should they—and neither should Semenya.
Every aspect of the issue surrounding Semenya's body has been deplorable, to say the least. However, there has not been enough recognition as to how invasive and degrading sex testing actually is. For any woman, at any age, to have her body forcibly examined and studied like a science project by "experts" is humiliating and unethical. Under no circumstances have Semenya's health or well-being been considered upon discovering that her body allegedly produces an excessive amount of testosterone. For the sake of an organization, for the comfort of white female athletes who felt as though Semenya's gender was an unfair advantage against them, Semenya and other women like her, must undergo hormone treatment to reduce their performance to that of which women are expected to perform at. Yet some women within the athletic community are unphased by this direct attempt to further prove women as inferior athletes.
As difficult as this global invasion of privacy has been for the athlete, the humiliation and sense of violation is felt by her people in South Africa. Writer and activist, Kari, reported that Semenya has had the country's undying support since her first global appearance in 2009. Even after the IAAF released their new regulations, South Africans have refuted their accusations. Kari stated, "The Minister of Sports and Recreation and the Africa National Congress, South Africa's ruling party labeled the decision as anti-sport, racist, and homophobic." It is no secret that the build and appearance of Black women have always been met with racist and sexist commentary. Because Black women have never managed to fit into the European standard of beauty catered to and in favor of white women, the accusations of Semenya appearing too masculine were unsurprising.
Despite the countless injustices Semenya has faced over the years, she remains as determined as ever to return to track and field and compete amongst women as the woman she is. Her fight against the IAAF's regulations continues as the Olympic champion has been receiving and outpour of support in wake of the Association's decision. Semenya is determined to run again, win again, and set new and inclusive standards for women's sports.