Style

My Beauty Uniform: Ruth Chan

My Beauty Uniform: Ruth Chan

Illustrator Ruth Chan is one of my favorite people to follow on Instagram. Her comics tackle lighter topics like dogs and curry fish balls to heavier topics like grief and race. “It’s a good way for me to process my thoughts,” she says. “I can say what I want to say but also integrate a bit of humor, which has to be part of life.” She also writes and illustrates children’s books. Here, Ruth shares an acne product that really works and how her dog saved her life…

My Beauty Uniform: Ruth Chan

How have you been faring during the pandemic?
I live with my boyfriend and we’ve actually been doing okay. We’re both very lucky to still have jobs, and I usually work from home and don’t really see anybody anyway. I just bought more sweatpants and it’s all good. The hardest part is not seeing my family. They’re in Canada, and I haven’t been there for more than a year. And who knows when I’ll see them again?

My Beauty Uniform: Ruth Chan

Have you developed any new hobbies?
Last summer, the real soul-saving activity was surfing in the Rockaways. My boyfriend had surfed for a long time, and I dug deep into learning. We’d go for sunrise or sunset. Nowadays it’s too cold to surf, so my soul is dying again.

Surfing sounds so cool.
I’ve been following all these Hawaiian surfers on Instagram, and everyone is so chill. I’m terrified of waves and don’t like paddling out, but the idea of potentially being that cool one day is enough.

My Beauty Uniform: Ruth Chan

When did you first get into beauty?
Growing up, the idea of beauty and femininity wasn’t overtly encouraged in my family. My mom still uses Body Shop Body Butter on her face, which makes me cringe! But then I got really bad acne. I was like, this is a thing I have to address.

What helped with your acne?
Proactiv, which I started using in my twenties. I don’t love it because it’s so strong, but I tried so many other things that didn’t work. Now I’m on a constant journey to find the right cleanser. (Any recommendations? I hope so!)

What if you break out now?
If I feel a deep zit coming up, I dab on Blume Meltdown. It really works in bringing down the zit so it doesn’t come to the surface. It disappears; it’s amazing.

My Beauty Uniform: Ruth Chan

What other skincare products do you like?
One thing I read about for so long but for some reason didn’t believe in was moisturizing. But ever since I’ve finally started moisturizing my face, it’s helped so much. I have a lot of acne scars, so I put on Sunday Riley CEO Vitamin C serum in the morning. It’s crazy how much it smoothes and brightens my complexion. At night, I use Sunday Riley A+ Retinoid serum. It feels like you’re putting liquid gold on your face, and it smells so nice. Then I use Aqua Bomb gel moisturizer. The other thing that I recently realized was important is sunscreen! I’ve been using Supergoop Unscreen.

How about masks?
Oh my gosh! So, I discovered Peter Thomas Roth pumpkin enzyme masks on Instagram. The thin mask is exfoliating, and you leave it on for about five minutes. Then you wash it off and it’s like a very very gentle peel. Afterward, I put all my moisturizers on and it feels great. I use it twice a week in the evening.

My Beauty Uniform: Ruth Chan

What’s your bedtime routine?
I read in bed until I fall asleep.

Have you read anything good recently?
I loved Deacon King Kong by James McBride — a novel about an incident in a Brooklyn housing project. It’s brilliantly written, and there are twists and turns. I also read Why We Swim by Bonnie Tsui — it’s non-fiction about how humans are basically made to be in water. What do we have this constant pull to the sea or ocean or lakes or rivers?

My Beauty Uniform: Ruth Chan

Tell me about writing and illustrating children’s books.
It is the best job in the world — it’s hard but amazing. Children’s books are this tangible art form that you connect with other people over, multi-generationally. They can be funny yet heartfelt, and almost every picture book has some sort of emotional truth. I’m still pretty new to it.

What were you doing before?
I was doing non-profit management, and then basically my life fell apart. I was married and my husband decided he didn’t want to be in the marriage anymore. Afterward, I got depressed and I lost my job and I had to move out of my apartment because I couldn’t afford it anymore. It sounds clichéd, but it was one of those moments where you reevaluate your life. I asked myself, what do you want to do? And I wanted to do picture books. It’s super competitive, so I gave myself a year to read, practice and see if it could work. And very luckily it worked.

My Beauty Uniform: Ruth Chan

What helped you get through that hard time?
My dog and cat. My dog Feta, who actually died last year, saved my life over the past decade. He was a source of unconditional love and emotional safety. Pets aren’t caught up in the same things humans are. There was a time I’d cry so much that whenever I so much as sniffed, Feta would come over to check on me. And then go back to his bed when he saw I was okay, because he was a very good boy.

My Beauty Uniform: Ruth Chan

What’s your makeup routine these days?
I don’t usually wear much makeup, but when I do, I like Glossier Boy Brow. It’s good for lazy people like me. I use Innisfree eyeliner, concealer, blush and mascara. It’s a Korean brand, and my friends in Hong Kong who are VERY into makeup told me about them. Lastly, Ilia products are fantastic — my friend got me some samples for my birthday and I love them!

Speaking of birthdays, how did it feel to turn 40 recently? I had a weird freak out before my 40th!
My 40th was strange because it was last May — right in the part of the pandemic where it was like, there are other things to worry about than my age!!! So, it passed smoothly. Also, I don’t FEEL like I’m 40. Forty used to feel so old and I still feel like I’m in my early 30s!

What about your hair?
My hair is so thick. I love it! The last couple years, I’ve been getting digital perms — basically, a soft wave perm that originated in Japan. It’s much healthier than a regular perm, since it doesn’t destroy or dry out your hair. I’ve been going to the same guy for a decade — Kriss at Hair News in Flushing.

I love the drawings you feature on Instagram about growing up in a Chinese-Canadian family.
The most recent ones are about anti-Asian racism — obviously there’s this huge uptick in violence against Asians, and it’s pretty upsetting. I was thinking about being Asian-American or Asian-Canadian and how every one of us has had negative experiences. I was thinking about how it’s still important to tell these stories, even if they’re not these huge epic awful stories — but instead the everyday things that happen. Part of why I started this series was I wanted to share my experiences so that other would share theirs. I also wanted non-Asians to understand what microaggressions really mean and what they might feel like. When I made the first one, I was super depressed for two days and didn’t realize why. It really triggered something in me — that feeling of not being seen or of being assumed to be a certain kind of person.

My Beauty Uniform: Ruth Chan

How does it feel to be living in America today?
I’m lucky to live in New York City, where it’s so diverse. One thing I do feel is interesting is that whole idea of a ‘model minority.’ As an Asian, you’re good at math, and as an Asian woman, you’re quiet and sweet. And 1) I’m terrible at math and always have been and people joke about it — haha, that’s so crazy, you’re Asian — and it’s only recently where I’m like, that’s not okay to say, why can’t I be bad at math just like any other person is good or bad at math? And also 2) I’m not quiet. I have a lot to say.

My Beauty Uniform: Ruth Chan

Thank you so much, Ruth! Follow her on Instagram and find her books here, if you’d like.

P.S. More women share their beauty uniforms and weeks of outfits.

  1. SM says...

    Had to circle back on this article to share that I got my son Georgie’s Best Bad Day, Where’s the Party?, and The Great Indoors after reading Ruth’s beauty uniform. We’ve read them every night this week – my 4-year-old LOVES them and has them almost memorized. Thank you for the introduction to Ruth’s work, it’s such a joy!

  2. D says...

    How about an article (or articles) on being in your 40’s but feeling like you’re still in your 30’s….very relatable topic!

    • Pernilla says...

      And how about articles on women being in their 50’s and still feeling like 35’ish…♥️What is age… really?

  3. Virginie says...

    Oh Ruth is so lovely! What kind of dog race was the beautiful Feta? Thank you for your answer!

  4. Em says...

    So many wonderful things to comment on, but I came here to say…

    40????? omg. Ruth! I thought you were like, 22! You keep up that skincare and vibrant energy, lady!! :)

  5. Monica says...

    I’m obsessed with oil cleansers like Caroline is obsessed with lipstick (I remember laughing so hard reading her lipstick post thinking that’s me with cleansers!)! Seriously though, it feels as though I’ve tried them all. This one from Shiseido (https://www.sephora.com/product/perfect-cleansing-oil-P388545) is the best ever and this one from Hanskin (https://sokoglam.com/collections/hanskin/products/hanskin-cleansing-oil-blackhead-bha) is a new favorite. It’s also dermatologist-approved. Also obsessed with Everyday Oil(https://everydayoil.com/collections/frontpage/products/everyday-oil-mainstay-blend?variant=7540908227) which I sometimes use as a cleanser if I’m feeling particularly dry.

    • Monica says...

      I got so excited to share recs, I forgot to say how much I loved this post! As someone who’s Chinese, from NYC, and who went to school with kids of all ethnicities, I really hated when kids tried to sit next to me during Math class on the first day of school. Jokes on them, I was and still am absolutely awful at math. Thank you, Ruth. <3

  6. Taylor N says...

    Countercontrol Clear Pore Cleanser from Beautycounter – it does the trick better than any other cleanser I’ve tried, and isn’t drying at all. Thanks for sharing your story, Ruth!

  7. Ali says...

    Thank you so much for using your platform and highlighting a vibrant Asian artist – especially right now! As an Asian-American, I want to be more involved and in touch with the community and I love finding Asian role models and influencers. I immediately followed her on Instagram and as a teacher, I am so excited to check out her books because I always want to diversify my library!

  8. Claire Mac says...

    Oil-in cleansers are life-changing. I have dry-sensitive, excema prone skin with hormonal acne…. joy. I love both Shumera and Tatcha. <3

  9. Anne Rüsing says...

    Always wanted to get two cats named Parmesan and Partisan … current cat is called Caius Valerius Catullus, however (Pautz for short, don’t ask).

  10. Kate says...

    My question for Ruth, and anyone who has endured a seemingly sudden divorce or break-up, what and why and how are you compelled to date again? I feel like it takes strength to try again but at the same time after so many disappointing, and even some quite devastating, experiences the idea of dating/being in a relationship to me kind of feels like continuing to patronize a restaurant even after 17 bad experiences in a row…why bother? It has only ever been detrimental to my wellbeing in the end (or somebody else’s)

    Or this, if divorce rates are 50% those are not great odds. So the break-up rate for a non-married couple is definitely higher than 50%. Therefore, the chances of a relationship ending, especially prior to marriage, are quite high…if a building had a 50% chance of collapsing, would you enter that structure? No thank you.

    • Alex says...

      Yes you’re right, but also, the chance that we all die is 100%. So, to me, the question is, what do I do with time that was given to me?

    • I feel you! I felt very much the same way you do, and had so many disastrous experiences with dating before meeting my current bf. I took a break and almost gave up. I think what helped me get to a place of being ready was 1. Working on truly letting go of my past marriage and all the expectations it had created about relationships, 2. Finding someone who had a similar life experience to me (including a divorce). It’s so exhausting but you just gotta keep at it! Sending you all the good vibes and thoughts and energy!

    • I bought Brené Brown’s Daring Greatly shortly after my then-husband unexpectedly left me for his brand-new girlfriend. I didn’t want to harden myself and never allow myself to love again, so I bought the book as a reminder of the benefits of vulnerability. (I also didn’t want the last person I ever loved in my life to be my ex.) And there are good people out there. Now, I’ve been with my kind boyfriend longer than I was with my ex-husband. He has been worth the risk of loving again.

  11. Liz says...

    First of all, you don’t look close to 40. So I’ll be ordering that vitamin c serum, thank you. Secondly, so sorry about your dog loss! Our 14 yr old dog helped me through my miscarriage. She’d curl up right next to me while I ached and cried. Like yours, too, they really are all loving and all knowing. xo

  12. Annie says...

    I have yet to actually convert anyone to my cleansing method, but I basically did a skin detox about 7 years ago after fighting hormonal acne and scars since middle school (and trying absolutely everything, including Proactiv!). I skip cleansing altogether and just use raw honey as a mask while I brush my teeth, etc. in the morning then follow it with a simple oil, and in the evening just a good old nubby washcloth and warm water and the same oil. I haven’t had a true pimple in years, just an occasional small bump before my period. I swear by it.

    • liz says...

      tell me more!

    • MJ says...

      Hi Annie, what type of oil do you use? Thanks so much…

  13. Kate says...

    Ruth is so awesome, and Feta is the best dog’s name I’ve ever heard. That’s all.

  14. DB says...

    Thank you so much for another wonderful interview!

    It’s Mothers’ Day here in the UK on Sunday and I had no idea how to mark it for my mum- that Bonnie Tsui book sounds ideal for her so have put an order in at her local bookshop!

  15. Abesha1 says...

    Any other literary-minded readers smile, and wonder how a Korean skincare line came to be called “Innisfree?” I might have to look it up and see.

    “I shall arise, and go to Innisfree
    And make a garden there…”

  16. Debbie says...

    As a fellow owner of bangs, can I just say how perfect Ruth’s is! Some pics they’ve grown out so my Question would be….Ruth how did you find the strength to let them grow out? I have had bangs for 15 or more years and I feel like its such a part of my identity but also that maybe its time to let it go?!?

    • Oh man, it took years for me to finally commit to growing them out. I was just tired of my hair so I thought it was worth a try. It was a pain, but I swiped them to the side (and for straight-haired people, I got mine permed so they curled to one side, SO much easier than styling!), did a lot of bobby pinning, and then it was done! Funny thing is, a year later (this past Nov, I cut my bangs back haha!

  17. Christie says...

    Ruth, I would love to hear more about how you made a career shift into illustration – it sounds like there is an inspiring story there. What were you doing in that year you gave yourself, to see if it worked out? Have you always loved to illustrate? How did you develop your skills? Who did you reach out to? Did you self-publish your first book? So many questions!! Please CoJ, follow up on this!!

    • Sarah says...

      Agreed! This is a very appealing career path to me – would love to know more!

    • I did art in HS and photography in college but didn’t have any other formal training besides just really liking to doodle. I knew I wanted to illustrate children’s books so I took a few children’s book illustrating classes (for those in NYC, SVA has a great Continuing Ed class taught by Monica Wellington), read hundreds of picture books (copying text, sometimes even art) so I could better understand what made a good picture book, went to book events, and practiced illustrating nonstop (e.g. did one of these a day: https://www.ohtruth.com/portraits) . All of this was so that I could 1. Build a strong portfolio of work, 2. Understand the industry I was trying to get into and how to navigate it best.

      I also did Artist’s Way, and especially the morning pages every day. It was a way to get all my feelings and thoughts out and write with no pressure before sitting down to draw!

      When I felt ready, I joined SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) and entered my portfolio into their showcase. My agent found my work and we had my first book deal (with Macmillan) within months. It all happened so quickly and I feel very fortunate to have it all work out so ‘easily’!

  18. Charlie says...

    100% about dogs being emotionally supportive. I think they are better at humans at offering unconditional love. They are just always there – like, ‘you’re so perfect, wanna snuggle?’

    I’d love to have CofJ give tips on acne and scaring from a dermatologist or expert. I have the same issue but don’t want to do anything harsh like proactive or medication. The best thing I’ve found is teatree oil.

  19. CoJ team, THANK YOU for yet again introducing us to a brilliant woman who makes this world a better place just by being herself. I feel especially kindred to Ruth not just because of happenstance similarities (Chinese heritage, furbaby moms, bad at math etc.) but because of the deep humor and kindness with which she gives voice to experiences so many of us are living. Also, her happy + boss pose in the sprinkles pool at the Museum of Ice Cream … #goals :)

  20. Pamela says...

    I loved this post from the get-go and then Ruth started talking about the current anti-Asian violence/problem and … I love you, Ruth! I feel seen in so many ways rn. xoxo

  21. Deana says...

    I’m glad she has a lot to say and congratulate her successes! Lovely woman.

  22. Meg says...

    I fall in love with each person you feature here. What a lovely feeling to fall in love at 4pm on a workday!

  23. Lizzie says...

    LOVED this! What a cool lady. Thank you for sharing with us, Ruth! Going to follow her on Instagram immediately. Xx

  24. Alycia says...

    Surfing at the Rockaways! Locals Surf School is the best if you want to take lessons. I cannot wait to go back! My instructor, Dorothy, mentioned that she wants to be a surf therapist. Bobbing up and down on those baby waves, I got it.

    Love Ruth’s books and now her!

  25. Elizabeth says...

    How informative and inspiring! What a fantastic human I have never met before in my life! Can you tell us more about the white dog with the snaggletooth?

    • mb says...

      I am here to express delight at reading this comment, which my mind interpreted as: this woman is wonderful but the first dog pictured received no further context. Please provide information on all dogs pictured.

    • The white dog is my fellow illustrator pal Dasha Tolstikova’s dog Muffin! Her snaggletooth is no joke amazing.

  26. Monica says...

    -googles digital perm…

    I struggled with acne in my youth, and as the daughter of a nameless skincare MLM lady, I was doused in all the products, which at 37 has left me with youthful looking skin but who knows what else.

    When I learned in adulthood that hormones and diet are responsible for a lot of skin troubles, dropping the chemicals and the toxic foods helped tremendously.

    I do oil cleansing and an occasional green clay mask, homemade. And I always wash my face at night with a clean wash cloth.

    I am not Asian, but my husband is and boy have I learned a lot from his family about the challenges of life. Thank you for sharing this!

  27. Jen says...

    Thank you for this CoJ and Ruth!!! Loved this so much ❤️

  28. liz says...

    Loved this one so much. Ruth: you’re awesome. Thanks for sharing ! (also, Feta <3 <3 <3)

  29. hanna says...

    where can we get the llama t-shirt Ruth is wearing in the first photo…? :)

    • I found it at some T-shirt store in a town in rural PA!

  30. Sydni Jackson says...

    I just finished Deacon King Kong! Recommend. It’s fun and well-written while also meaningful.

  31. Amy says...

    Sigh, Feta <3

  32. florence says...

    Ruth, your skin looks amazing! As a 41-year old also with lifelong hormonal acne… ugh. Thank you for sharing your personal story/trauma and helping to bring awareness on what we experience as Asian Americans/Canadians. Can’t wait to check out your books!

  33. Diana says...

    Ruth is so cool! Ruth, if you read this, do you remember how we were both repping Stories Bookshop at an event for WeWork and got free manicures together? Haha! So fun to see you here.

    • HI! Those manicures were the best. I still wear the free shirts we got too ;)

  34. Jill says...

    I enjoyed this a lot. Ruth seems awesome. And what an amazing/brave/amazing thing to give yourself a year to reinvent your life!

  35. K says...

    Also cleanser rec: I highly recommend emailing Marie Veronique! I notice such a gradual, steady yet marked improvement from using their products. I love that they’re microbiome friendly.

    They recommended the Essential OIl Free Cleanser, Balancing Hypotonic, and Barrier Restore Serum for my sensitive and mild acne-prone skin. Next they recommended me to try their Gentle Retinol Serum.

    • Erin says...

      Yes, love MV!

  36. Terra says...

    To say nothing of the beauty, depth, empathy, and inspiration in this post: just a quick note that “fairing” should be “faring” in question 1. Hugs and smiles and love from a Toronto editor!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Thank you!

  37. anne says...

    I agree with many of the other commenters here in that I feel like I want to be Ruth’s friend now. Also, one of my favorite names! And 10000000% yes for dogs all the time always.

    Re Acne: I started doing oil cleansing which helped my skin a LOT, but the thing that got rid of my acne (apart from the occasional tiny hormonal zit) was probiotics. I wasn’t taking them for acne, but they _really_ helped. YMMV, always, but it did help me!

    • Becky says...

      Yes to probiotics!! The gut is connected to so much! I took them for about 18months. Also liver health. Milk thistle helped clear up a lot of my scalp psoriasis and I think also helped with some residual monthly blemishes (such an old fashioned term haha).

  38. kiki says...

    digital perms? how did i totally miss the memo on this? Ruth, your hair looks amazing! Has anyone else tried this too?

    • R says...

      Never heard of this either – I need to know!!!

    • Mikayla says...

      I missed it too, Kiki–I did a Google search and am just in LOVE with this modern perm look! If anyone has also done this please share!

  39. SB says...

    I love this! Also, I think you mean “faring” instead of “fairing.” :)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh yes, thank you!

  40. I’m a huge Ruth Chan fan and so happy to see her here. Her art brings me joy.

  41. Macauley says...

    Feta – you were clearly a very good boy. See you when we see you, sweet pup.

  42. CKG says...

    Wow, I really want to be friends with Ruth!! She just seems so chill, talented, and genuine. Can’t wait to follow her social media and check out her children’s books. Thank you for sharing her story and introducing me to her awesomeness… also, I need a digital perm ASAP! :)

    • Anne Elliot says...

      This is what I was going to say as well — like, if I knew this person, we would be best friends! (If she liked me too. :) ) Off to follow her on Instagram. Thank you for the introduction!

    • Amy says...

      Same! Following and buying all her books for upcoming kiddos in my life

  43. Emma says...

    Thank you for sharing your story with us, Ruth!! I’ve struggled with painful hormonal acne for years. I can’t recommend the Kate Somerville line enough! I use the Eradikate foaming cleanser every evening. It’s pricey ($35, I think?), but it lasts me 6 months. I’ve tried and loved the exfoliator as well. And I’m a big fan of cetaphil foaming wash in the morning (or glossier milky jelly) and CeraVe for moisturizer morning and evening.

  44. Alison says...

    Such spirit! You are an inspiration, Ruth!

  45. Twyla says...

    Cleanser rec: Paula’s Choice! I had TERRIBLE acne in my teens and Paula’s Choice products helped my skin tremendously. Their 2% BHA Exfoliant is my holy grail, and with many years of use has made my acne scars almost indiscernible (it helps promote healthy skin cell turnover). Every product is created to be gentle & is fragrance free.

    • Katherine says...

      I second Paula’s Choice products! They aren’t drug store products/prices, but still more affordable than brands like Sunday Riley. In addition to the ones Twyla recommends, I really like the Ceramide Eye Cream!

    • Lo says...

      I third this! My favorite PC product for acne so far is the azelaic acid booster, but I also use and love the 2% BHA! Acids are the only thing that started to turn my skin around after 12+ years of acne.

  46. Ellen says...

    This was an uplifting post. I love seeing people grow and succeed and be brave and follow their dreams! Ruth, you are inspiring!
    I also have adult acne (blerg!) and have found Panoxyl 4% cleanser (or the CVS brand equivalent) to be very very helpful. It’s a benzoyl peroxide product, like proactiv. I use it once a day followed by moisturizer and supergoop sunscreen.

  47. RG says...

    Absolutely loved this beauty uniform! I love seeing women looking at beauty from a holistic point of view. That being said, Ruth’s skin is glowing! : )

  48. Claire says...

    Nice feature- and wonderful to meet Ruth here and learn about her life experience and her art. I appreciate all she shared in her story, and am super impressed with her surfing and her career switch to illustrating and creating children’s books. It gives me a lot to think about. In response to her question, I can recommend Paula’s Choice skin care products (although Ruth- your skin looks very beautiful!)

  49. dominique forget says...

    Woohoo a Habs shoutout! Also that sweater in the third last picture is amazing!

  50. Katie says...

    Please, Ruth, sharing your tips about breaking into the children’s book business! I have been wanting to do this for ages and am finally gearing up to take the leap. Any insider info would be extremely appreciated. <3

    • Michelle says...

      Seconded!

    • Christie says...

      Yes!! I posted to say the same. I want to hear about Ruth’s career shift.

    • Julia says...

      I came to say the same. Since my daughter was born 2 years ago, I find myself wondering if everyone is *this* interested in children’s books or
      if it’s just me. Thanks for the inspiration, Ruth. You are incredible.

    • Ah! I just replied to another comment (Christie’s) further up in the thread with tips on how to get into the industry! Definitely join SCBWI, you guys. So many resources, opportunities, and lovely people to start your children’s book community ;)

  51. MelT says...

    Dear Ruth, you are lovely and this was such a lovely beauty uniform post. Your teddy bear in a Montréal Canadiens jersey is the sweetest thing I’ve seen in a while. Seeing it here on Cup of Jo makes me homesick even though I’m home in Montréal right now.

  52. Sarah W says...

    RIP Feta, what a beautiful boy. Thank you so much for sharing Ruth!

  53. Ana says...

    First picture and last picture! I absolutely loved this T-shirt and taking a bath in rainbow sprinkles seems so appealing! :) Thank you for sharing your story.

  54. Addie says...

    Cleanser rec: I SWEAR by Circadia skin care products. My favorite is their Vitamin Veil, which is an oil based cleanser. I use it morning and night and leaves my skin extra moisturized. My skin (and complexion) has never been better!

  55. Nikki says...

    Hiya fav group of ladies- two things-
    General warning about proactive. It can cause serious serious allergic reactions. I had one and was nearly hospitalized. I have never before or since gotten allergic to any acne product. Always do a wrist check.

    Two- I’m holding the Asian American community so close right now. ❤️ I live in Asia as a white woman in a mostly white American community that has caused major pain and hardship to the local community. We are there not by choice but by assignment. We live within the local community. And I cannot say enough wonderful things about my neighbors.
    I’m pregnant and currently without my husband. My neighbors check on me constantly with food and hugs and love. We don’t speak the same language but they are so unbelievably kind and loving. I wouldn’t blame them for ignoring me or avoiding me but they instead choose grace and love. I’m so unbelievably fortunate and feel blessed to have met them in this life. If only every American got to experience the joy of living in Asia. I’m so angry that Americans at home aren’t treating their neighbors with the same respect and empathy I am being treated with abroad.

  56. Sarah says...

    Ruth,

    Thank you for speaking about the recent Anti-Asian issue, and for sharing your stories with the world. This is important. I am thinking about sharing/writing my story on my blog when I get a chance.

  57. Mollie says...

    Loved this, but oh my goodness, what is the story on that last photo? Please tell me that’s a tub full of nerds or sprinkles?!

    • Candace says...

      Hey @Mollie – that looks like part of the Museum of Ice Cream exhibit that was in San Francisco and NYC in 2018 or so. Very, very fun and colorful (and Instagram-friendly) immersive experience celebrating all things ice cream that ALSO included a swimming pool filled with sprinkles at at the end :)

  58. Heather says...

    Ruth visited my son’s school in Athens, GA, several years ago. I remember him telling me about her visit, and how neat he thought it was that her book characters were inspired by her own beloved pets. The students received a signed copy of Georgie’s Best Bad Day, which we enjoyed reading many times. I enjoyed learning more about her! Thanks for writing these books Ruth, and for visiting kids at school :)

  59. O says...

    It’s kind of buried in the interview, but it really struck me when Ruth said that she found her current profession/ passion at a moment that was super dark (husband decided he didn’t want to be in the marriage anymore and she lost her apartment). For anyone going through a hard time, I think it’s comforting to know that what feels like an absolutely crushing turn of fate can turn into the precursor for something great. Thank you, Ruth!

    • Jenny says...

      Thank you. I noticed it too. Gives me hope. Xxxxxxx

    • Jules says...

      Yes! I had a similar thing of a horridly dark phase in life lead to me wanting to be a midwife. I’m now about to qualify. I’d never though of it in that way, and now I will use it as a reminder in those inevitable dark patches to come.
      Thank you O and Ruth for framing it in that way.

  60. Andrea says...

    Quicksand, but make it sprinkles.

  61. Sarah says...

    I just want to say that I love this Cupofjo community so much and I love that you folks are featuring beauty uniforms of people who are so clearly beautiful inside and out. This is such a safe, lovely space in an uncertain world. Thank you, Joanna and team!!!!

  62. Becky says...

    Omg I love her! Acne is so tricky. I used to use very abrasive products on my face but actually found that using ceravae helped calm it down and heal my skin. Of course it’s much more complicated than that (gut health, food sensitivities, good fats vs bad oils etc also play a role) but something more gentle on my skin really helped. Been using it for over 10 years so it cracks me up that tiktokers are just “finding” it now 😂

    • katie says...

      Same here. I used all the harshest stuff trying to get rid of the acne and oiliness. I was just making it worse. I recently even switched from cerave to ponds. Yes, that ponds. It’s helped even more. I kind of hate that I went from the ceramides to a mineral spirit, but my skin looks great.

    • K says...

      Yes re: diet! I’m currently trying to veer towards a GAPS style diet which mostly runs contrary to popular opinion/ all I ever assumed I knew about health (according to them and WAPF, the best oil to cook in is a healthy butter, ghee, or tallow!). But as someone with multiple sensitivities, it’s worth trying out. We’ll see how it goes!

    • Katey says...

      Katie, I just started using Pond’s again, too! I love it. It is the only thing hydrating my skin. I tiny dab (¼ tsp) glides all over my face. As a thrifty person I love that.

  63. Courtney says...

    Loved this! Fingers crossed we can get a “Week of Outfits” from her, too. Such great style and perspective.

    P.S. Any idea where her cute swimsuit is from? Tis the season for swimsuit shopping.

    • SJ says...

      I second this! I also need to know about her bright sweater (10th photo).

    • Hi! The swimsuit is from The Seea. My favorite swim/surfwear and women-owned. I have so many things from them, and love every single one of them!

      The sweater is from a thrift store ;) It’s very itchy haha.

  64. MB says...

    I really credit Tata Harper’s cleanser for blemish-prone skin for helping clear up my skin. I never had very bad acne but blemishes would often appear and it’s really sorted me out in the past few years.

    Secondly, I wonder if CoJ might compile reader comments on resilience or getting through a tough period in life. We’ve all been affected by the pandemic over this last year but I’ve read so many stories on here where people have overcome/learned to live with difficult periods of life. Losing a loved one, divorce, illness, etc. I’m still struggling after the loss of my mom last year and am always bowled over when I read someone’s account of how they picked themselves back up off the floor after a life-changing event – so much wisdom in this community.

    • K says...

      I just listened to this podcast and picked up a lot of good tips and info. It deals only with the physiological mechanisms of stress resilience but hopefully you find it useful!

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rgC71x30LI8

      I am really sorry for your loss.

  65. Paige says...

    New children’s books for my two boys? And a very cool author I wish I was friends with? Thank you!!

  66. K says...

    Love this! Big hugs from a fellow Canadian who is away from family. Coming up on 2 years in July and it is hard.
    Love your cartoons and I think Canadians like to pretend “oh that doesn’t happen here”. So thank you for sharing your experiences with us. It does happen and its time we face it and do better.
    Facial cleanser and general skincare product recommendation – Go To Skincare. It is amazing! I use almost all their products – You can get it at Sephora.

    Rest easy sweet Feta <3

    • Grace says...

      Hugs from another fellow Canadian living in the US. Love children’s picture books too. (Retired children’s librarian!).

    • Whitney says...

      Fellow Canadian and WOC here as well. Though I’ve been (happily) stateside for a decade I miss Canada and my family and am hoping to finally go back to visit when the borders open again. I agree with K, so many people back home are ignorant to the racism that exists in Canada. “Oh that doesn’t happen here” “That only happens in the USA” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard statements like those. Thank you so much for illustrating this Ruth! Lots of unlearning to do.

  67. Nina says...

    You sound like a really cool person :D Hope your Hong Kong friends are doing ok xxx

  68. Jax says...

    Thanks for featuring an Asian-Canadian New Yorker! I’ll be following her on IG and looking up her books for my kid.
    I really want to know what kind of cat her cat is!! It is sooooo cute with that face and those whiskers!!

    • Jenny says...

      Looks like a Persian

    • The cat (Georgie) was an exotic shorthair! They are so chill, and so cute. Not the brightest crayon in the box ;)

  69. Anita says...

    Cleanser rec: I deal with lots of adult acne and have found for me the best thing is just not to overcleanse/exfoliate. I therefore recommend cleansers for sensitive skin like Dermalogica special cleansing gel.

    Also, I just want to comment on the turning 40 thing. I am about to turn 40 and am in the midst of a full blown freak out. I was not expecting this at all as hadn’t previously thought twice about ageing but now my birthday is almost here I am spiralling! Like full on panic attacks! At first I thought this was probably because I haven’t ‘achieved’ any of the milestones I thought I would in life by the time I was 40 (marriage, kids, owning property/having a stable home….). But then when I spoke to other friends who have all those things, they were also freaking out about 40 in a big way! Which makes me think it is more an existential crisis than anything else…. Anyway this is basically just a cry for help to Cup of Jo for any advice on how to cope with this kind of crisis and any wisdom from those who have been through it!

    I mean, reading this again…. maybe I should get a dog? RIP Feta.

    • Heather says...

      Anita, as I approached my 40th I, too, started to freak out. The cure: looking at my older sister and my friends who are in their 40’s. They’re cooler than ever. They look better than they ever have. They know who they are (and do it on purpose, #Dolly). They don’t GAF about what anyone thinks about their clothes or interests. They seem to have relaxed into their full selves and it radiates. They glow, and you will, too. There’s much to look forward to. Happy Birthday. xo

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      I agree with this, Heather! My friends are SO radiant in their forties.

    • Jenny says...

      I second that. I feel it could have been me who wrote your post as I’m going through the same thing right now. Have moved 22 times and changed 6 counties and would love a stable home at least at 35 years. It’s hard as most of my friends have reached those milestones and it’s getting harder to meet people (none of my couple friends know any single people). For me it’s really been living up to my own desires and what I have always hoped I would have and reach by this age, not so much society’s as I’ve always been quite the opposite of conventional. But yeah the pandemic has made these feelings worse, as isolating at home for 3 months hard lockdown on and off makes you so aware of these. Would love for CoJ to feature some cool women and how they overcame adversity and age related “feeling behind in life”.

    • Jenny says...

      Oh and getting a cat has helped HUGELY. That’s one wish I could tick off.

  70. Christy says...

    A while ago, my niece got Where’s the Party for her first birthday, and there was a time when she wanted me to read it over and over and over! It’s such a delightful book. Thanks for this fun beauty uniform- Ruth Chan is such an inspiration.

  71. Amy says...

    My kids (and I) adored the book Where’s the Party! Fun to see you here; look forward to seeing more of your work!

  72. Joy says...

    I love that she talked about the whole model minority thing…it’s a concept that has infuriated me for as long as I can remember, and is sometimes hard for people to understand why. I am also not great at math and have never been “docile,” “quiet,” or “submissive.” F THAT. Thanks, Ruth! You rock!!

  73. Sally says...

    Ruth, please tell us about your exotic shorthair bff – I have one too and I NEED more info! Please give details!! :) They are the absolute best.

    Also, I use Acure Brightening cleanser – it doesn’t strip my skin but it doesn’t make it oily either. Recommended.

  74. Sarah says...

    Ruth I’m so sorry for your loss of Feta. I also lost my pup after 11 years at the beginning of the year, and I miss him so dearly every day even as I go on living a busy, happy life with my toddler. Dogs just play such a special role for humans, and us for them. Thank you sharing so much of your story. I can’t wait to read your books!

  75. Kay says...

    Another Canadian who doesn’t know when she’ll see her family again – oh for the border to be open and safe to travel :( Wonderful profile!

  76. safi says...

    i loved reading this! ruth, as someone who is also acne-prone well into adulthood and uses strong actives to manage this, i highly recommend the vanicream gentle cleanser. when using other leave-on actives to treat acne, i find it best to keep the cleanser mild to avoid irritation to the skin, and this really fits the bill without containing any common acne triggers (as so many other gentle cleansers do). i just picked up my 6th bottle of this today!

  77. Danielle says...

    My kids own the book “Where’s the Party”! I love it even more now.

  78. Meghan says...

    I feel that same glow you get when you just made a new friend. Any idea where the blue top from the bottom 2 photos might be from? – mostly because any top that one can wear to be befriended by a donkey AND bathe in sprinkles must be a very good top, indeed.

    Also, thank you for the advice about asking yourself what you actually want to do and giving yourself a year to learn it. This is exactly what I needed to be given permission to do. (PS, does anyone else with a pandemic 40th feel like we get to age in reverse a little?)

    • Hi! Shirt is from Madewell ;) And totally the perfect donkey/sprinkles kind of shirt!

  79. Gretchen says...

    My kids and I heard Ruth read at Books of Wonder several years ago – she was awesome and we love her and her books! So glad to see her highlighted here.

  80. Pai skin care is amazing! I love the camellia and rose cleanser and can’t recommend it enough!

  81. Corrie says...

    She has such a great, inviting smile! Also Feta is wonderful name for dog… gonna stash the idea of cheese names for a pets for later use

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes! the cutest!

    • Anne Rüsing says...

      Always wanted to get two cats named Parmesan and Partisan … current cat is called Caius Valerius Catullus, however (Pautz for short, don’t ask).

  82. Robin says...

    What a beautifully joyful human! I love these photos. Thank you COJ and Ruth! I hope you can visit your family soon.

  83. Kate Gilles says...

    I loved this post – the honesty, the mix of seriousness and humor, of heavy topics and lighter ones. Ruth, you must miss Feta so much – thanks for sharing some stories with us.

  84. Lisa says...

    I’ve searched for a cleanser for my acne prone skin and love Doctor Roger’s Restore face wash. Her Instagram is great for information about caring for your skin, too.

  85. Becca Lloyd says...

    Ruth, be my friend! You are so cool!

    Also, any chance you might tell us where you bought that incredible llama shirt??

    • I found it in some random tshirt store in rural PA! I wish I remembered where exactly, sorry! I also got one that’s just a giant corn on the cob ;)

  86. Carol says...

    Ruth has amazing skin! I’ll be checking out the products she uses.

  87. Wendy says...

    Ruth and I briefly were acquaintances while we were in Boston years ago. She has always struck me as funny and very kind. Glad to see such a deserving person have so much success and to also use her talent to speak up for the Asian American community. <3

    I live in the Bay Area and I thought I was protected from these attacks because of where I live but unfortunately a man verbally attacked my children and I at a playground recently. Thank you COJ for continuing to speak up about this.

    • Solange says...

      I’m so sorry that happened to you and your children. What a horrible experience.

  88. Christine says...

    I kind of love Ruth and think we would be friends irl.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      me too!!! after our phone interview, I wanted to call back and ask her to hang out IRL. :)

  89. Katie says...

    I just want to say how much my four year old LOVES The Great Indoors. It’s a favorite – she wanted to check it out every time we went to the library. After realizing that we were either taking it out of the library or returning it every visit, we bought our own copy. We’re fans of your work and delighted to see you here!

  90. K says...

    The unconditional love of Feta 💔

    I just read this op-ed retweeted by Bari Weiss : Asian Americans Emerging as a Strong Voice Against Critical Race Theory

    https://www.newsweek.com/asian-americans-emerging-strong-voice-against-critical-race-theory-opinion-1574503

    And it kinda voices the thoughts I’ve been having that haven’t been verbalized in my Instagram feed. The elephant in the room.

    I have that gaslit feeling where I have to acknowledge that Asians aren’t the only ones struggling before I express what I notice.

    I will say that personally I’ve been physically assaulted twice, ~2014/2016
    And I did get the racist Covid comments since February 2020.

    In New York City, no matter the borough, I don’t listen to stuff with my headphones while walking, even in broad daylight. I don’t glance at my phone. I don’t go walk out at night alone. I will not take the subway at night. I won’t make eye contact too long with other pedestrians to avoid the possibility of being accused of looking at someone the wrong way. I make a point to walk as far to the left or right of the sidewalk as possible.

    I’m not saying that there aren’t other minorities who also feel this way, I’m just saying that this specific problem does exist. And how can you solve a problem if you never describe it accurately?

    Be safe, everyone! Be friendly wherever it’s safe for you to spread some good vibes into our hurting world.

    • Agnes says...

      I’m so, so sorry you’re experiencing this, K. Truly awful :(

    • Mb says...

      Hmm, I read that article. It seems to me that it takes the hard line of CRT. I think there are many ways to interpret a theory and this particular critique focuses on rather extreme examples—and because I have not engaged the essays the author cites, I can’t speak to whether these are appropriately characterized.

      That said, at its core, CRT is about recognizing that race is a defining factor in current society and has been a significant factor since the 1500s.

      We can say the same of gender. CRT isn’t about saying whiteness is “bad” but rather that a lot of values considered neutral were inherited from a particular social group and are not neutral.

      Just my two cents.

      I’m sorry that you have been assaulted and that has impacted how you move in the world.

    • Sarah says...

      Thank you for sharing your story, K. I’m really sorry that you’ve experienced this.

    • amy says...

      You have described my normal life as a woman. correction. as a female. This has been an issue since preteen years. Can not imagine how much worse it must be with racial overtones, ugh. Cannot believe this is the state of American minds – sad. Long ago I made a pact with myself and the world to help keep me from becoming bitter or shut down and to keep my heart open and compassionate. Just deny negativity any lasting impact on your life. It’s a matter of mindfulness and forgiveness and gratitude for all the good people there actually are.

    • Jane Yang says...

      I’m sorry to hear about the fear and violence that you’re experiencing, K. I’m Asian American and have long struggled with the othering and everyday violence and can also feel it’s escalation in the Bay Area too. It’s scary, and I’m even more afraid for my parents who live in a conservative suburb where they’ve experiences verbal attacks from neighbors they know.

      I also want to point out though that the article you linked about critical race theory is very inflammatory and doesn’t accurately present any of the theory, which has been an important tool for talking about race. I’d encourage you and any other readers to do a little light research or reading before drawing conclusions about what “critical race theory” is. It’s violently twisted and inaccurate in how it’s represented there, with that familiar “people who talk about race are dividing us against each other” language while citing and discussing none of it, and I question how it relates to this topic as the “elephant in the room.” It made me hot and angry to read, so all I’ll say is please read beyond that article if you aren’t already familiar with academic and activist work on race.

  91. Shirley says...

    This beauty uniform was so delightful and funny. I feel like Ruth is my soul sister. I am also an Asian American woman in her early 40s who is not good at math, is definitely NOT quiet and meek, and who also has the exact same bangs that Ruth has (minus the awesome perm). Thank you Ruth, for bringing awareness not only to anti-Asian sentiment in the US, but microaggressions, which bring about so.much.stress for people of color. It’s the intangibles- a look, something that someone says that is not directly racist but implied, or just an action that causes you to feel that dread in the bottom of your stomach- there it is again- someone trying to cast me as “other” yet. again. I’m a mental health therapist and these microaggressions cause so much incalculable harm and stress. Anyway, I could go on but thank you for featuring Ruth and for making me feel truly seen (I actually hate that phrase but it’s true, and I’ve been a LONG time reader). I’m off to check out her children’s books!

  92. jdp says...

    i loved this post and this person. and that dog, such a good boy, RIP. thank you for this inspiring Q&A!

  93. NJ says...

    I love this! But, as a math teacher, I just want to tell you that YOU ARE NOT BAD AT MATH!!! Someone taught you badly, and that sucks. No one is inherently bad at math! I swear, on my life, that math is fun when you are taught well.

    • Lauren says...

      YES!!!!!!

      You are not bad at math, you were taught in a way that didn’t connect with your learning style. So many people walking around with math phobias for absolutely no reason.

    • KJ says...

      As someone who was somewhat traumatized by a 6th grade math teacher, thank you for this. I love the idea that someday, I could be good at math!

      PS: I’m 37!

    • Angela says...

      I wish you had been my teacher! You sound like such a gift to your students!

    • Jax says...

      There are people who have dyscalculia. Having said that I don’t think they’re hopeless at math, but it’s definitely difficult for them to learn math in the same ways that the majority is taught math, esp. in the majority of schools — esp. in the US and probably Asian countries as well.

    • amy says...

      I don’t do drugs at all but I did try LSD long ago and discovered that afterwards I was suddenly able to understand and perform equations whereas before it was literally a blank space in my head. Fun fact, for what it’s worth!

    • Heather says...

      I love that I live in a time in which women virtually yell/cheer at each other, YOU ARE NOT BAD AT MATH!! <3 this blog <3

    • Claire says...

      OMG YES! My 3rd/4th grade teacher always said that she didn’t like math until college. I couldn’t believe it; she was so good at it and seemed to love it. That statement never escaped me and helped me to normalize that you don’t have to like a subject but still need to keep practicing it. (And I tell my own students that, too.) Shockingly, college rolled around and I really enjoyed my two math classes! They were designed for liberal arts students and were fun and engaging. Challenging? Oh, totally, but having just two classes per week and plenty of time to do my work at my own pace was SO helpful, versus having to fit everything in during a 45 minute class period. I loved my 8th grade and high school math teachers, too, but still never felt “good” at math until college when I finally had the time I needed to wrap my head around a concept that didn’t come easily to me.

  94. MCM says...

    Ooh, I’d love to try the concealer she recommends. Any suggestions for how to figure out the right shade when ordering online? I’m stumped! Has someone figured out how to do this?

    • amy says...

      VERY good question – it is such a guilt trip to return things online knowing the carbon footprint that generates!

  95. L says...

    Cleanser recommendation: Murad Acne Control Clarifying Cream Cleanser. It is pricey, but worth every penny. Very moisturizing, and I’ve been pimple free since I added it to my rotation. I actually learned about it from a Beauty Uniform from four or five years ago! Life has come full circle. :)

  96. ellie says...

    Wow, I love that you look like you’re bursting with joy in nearly every photo! It is so good to hear your creative risk worked out – I love hearing stories like this. And that your gorgeous dog Feta was able to care for you so well – the best. Have you seen that twitter site @weratedogs? Very uplifting dog-related humor.

    Also I deeply appreciate people who are able to articulate or otherwise illuminate micro-aggressions. It is something I’ve struggled to do my entire life if only to understand ‘what just happened’ whenever I’ve been targeted. It really helps when someone manages to define what appears so elusive to pinpoint. I am not Asian but am still a woman. Thank you!

    Lastly, I’ve been using plain rice flour (Koda Farms mochiko) as my cleanser lately and I like it a lot. It feels brightening and nourishing. I don’t usually wear makeup but if I do then I oil cleanse first and follow with the rice flour. It’s a very gentle scrub – but super gentle. I follow with a rose water toner, retinol and moisturizer. Alternate with a rich organic cream cleanser a couple times a week.

    • AMK says...

      I love your comments, Ellie! I agree that Ruth is bursting with joy ans these recommendations are 🔥👏🏽🙏🏽

    • ellie says...

      I linked the wrong twitter account, it is meant to be @dog_rates!

  97. L says...

    What a cool beautiful lady using her talent and humor for goooood! Dogs are the best and so good at saving us. I’m so glad you survived that awful time and found new ways to thrive – sometimes everything going bad is such a good opportunity to radically reevaluate. This anti-Asian racism these days is just so horrifying and stupid, I can’t help but wonder what things would be like if we hadn’t had such a deranged racist as a leader during this pandemic. Is this happening as badly in other places?

  98. Kirsty says...

    Ruth…you seem so cool! That’s all.

    • Megs says...

      I second this!! So very cool :) Thank you for sharing with us xx

  99. Gill F says...

    Oh my gosh I love her energy. She seems like such a fun, cool human. Also really love the low key approach to beauty!

  100. Janet says...

    I enjoyed this! Thank you Jo, from a fellow Canadian Asian in New York. I liked this profile which has a little bit of everything, and always glad to see ladies just a little bit older than me (like Jo) doing 40 their way which is so different (phew) from how it looked for our parents so I can look forward to it. CLEANSER RECOMMENDATION AS REQUESTED: Kate Somerville Eradikate (the pink one) or Exfolikate (the green one), depending on how extreme you’re feeling (since Ruth is using Proactiv, probably Eradikate, the pink one).

  101. Paige says...

    Acne rec: Paula’s Choice CLEAR line – it is INCREDIBLE and I’ve spent years and years looking for the right acne cleanser/system/whatever. I’ve done Proactiv, then Accutane (ugh), then tried just Apple Cider Vinegar, then back to basic drug store cleansers etc etc. But this line is the hands down best!!! Truly cannot recommend it enough. I also use their Super-Light Wrinkle Defense SPF 30 every. single. day. and it’s probably my fav product!

    • Paige says...

      Also, follow up, I loved this post!! Thank you for sharing and being so vulnerable to the big wide internet world. I’m also Canadian, in the States, and haven’t been back in over a year :( maybe this summer!

    • safi says...

      yes! the clear exfoliating toner w/ 2% salicylic acid is holy grail for me. i stopped using it for a few months as an experiment (“i’m in my 30s now, maybe my skin has chilled out”) and the increase in the number of blackheads and even papules / cysts i got was unreal

  102. Laura says...

    She’s so beautiful! I also LOVE the PTR pumpkin enzyme mask and Sunday Riley’s A+ serum. 100% recommend.