Beauty in a Box: Cubicle Skincare for the Office Gal

I sit in a little cubicle for nearly 3/4 of my day. It’s an open-concept, I grant you, but the unhealthy facts remain: I spend most of my day seated in an air-conditioned box, breathing in recycled air and pounding caffeine by the hour. I take responsibility for the caffeine #2019NewYearResolutions.

On the rare occasion I do find enough time to pull me away from my desk – as I attempt to juggle my salad whilst working my way down the list of course readings – I still find myself sitting in yet another air-conditioned box, or taking my ‘healthy lunchtime stroll’ alongside shop aisles where fresh air is scarce.

And it’s not for lack of trying: Singapore’s weather is relentless, its daily attempts to burn and blister everything in its path making it nearly impossible to go anywhere without breaking into a SULA (sweaty upper-lip alert) and puncturing the safeguard of your SPF-50.

And the realisation of fresh-air deprivation only ever hits me upon the first step out of the office and the air tastes different. Despite all the merits of my job, it still comes with skincare implications, of which my top three offenders are:

Uno: Grievously Dehydrated Skin

I’ve had a 500ml bottle for company for the most part of my working life, solely relying on it for hydration throughout of the day. Owing to my numerical ignorance and the West’s aversion to the metric system, I’ve always assumed that the tiny 500ml bottle fulfilled the eight 8-ounce glasses of water, falling short of the recommended 2-litres of water a day. Just as alcohol makes you look like total crap the day after, this dehydration accumulates and shows up on the skin – Particularly my eye-bags, which my mornings were dedicated to concealing.

Now: My mom gifted me a 1-litre mug with excellent heat retention last Christmas (great gift idea for office gals). It’s bright-red and unmistakable, and two simple refills works like a charm. My skin is brighter and visibly less grey, my eye-bags (relatively) lighter, and the frequent trips to the restroom help urge me for a much-needed walking break.

Dos: Sore and Tired Eyes

This is a tricky one, because it’s such a small detail that it frequently goes overlooked. I personally don a pair of wide-framed specs, my sensitive eyes unsuitable for long-term contacts use. As a writer, I can go for hours without taking my specs off, moving from one writeup to the next in poor lighting, disregarding giving my eyes a break. This has resulted in many-an-episode of conjunctivitis.

Now: I set an hourly alarm on my phone – much to the chagrin of my desk mates – reminding me to drip my drops and take a regular eye break. Naphcon-A works great to relieve redness and itching, and Tears Naturale Free for general lubrication.

Tres: Allergies, and the occasional rash 

Dust, dust, dust everywhere. Dust on the desk, dust in the carpet, dust on the walls. Not only does this make my allergies act up, meaning sneezing fits, watery eyes, the whole enchilada – which is when I’d take my work and relocate to a nearby café, or an empty meeting room – but it also signals the advent of red, itching, skin rash, usually on my arms, neck, and back – basically any exposed swath of skin.

Now: Obviously changing the carpets is a no-go, so I have a 500ml bottle of alcohol hand rub on my desk, and conduct regular wipe-downs of everything on my desk, including my desk. My desk partner, accustomed to my penchant for allergies, have even begun offering me antihistamines as a method of morning greeting. I am going to miss him.

Maintaining your beauty whilst in a box isn’t easy, but neither is it impossible. I do still get the occasional ‘OCD’ comment now and then, but hey, when life gives you lemons.

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