Getting clear skin is not easy and requires a lot of effort—unless you’re one of those people who have baby-like skin just by “washing with water” (in this case, we don’t wanna talk to you. We kid.) Sometimes, it’s all about trial and error. Other times, it’s about knowing and understanding what you tried. The good news is, there are always people who are willing to help dish out handy tips, such as Alfred Tan, the marketing manager of CNP Laboratory. PS: He’s also the one who answers burning questions sent in by the brands’ customers, as seen on their web page!
Here are eight things you should know about skincare.
I’ve been using the same products for a few years but I realise I’m breaking out recently. Does this mean I should no longer use the same products?
I usually ask all our customers the same question first: What’s causing the active breakout? Did the active breakout occur recently? If so, what in the person’s lifestyle that changed recently? For example, changes of shampoo, skincare products or work environment, or consuming newly-introduced oral supplements, etc. Try stopping these recent changes to the current lifestyle and see if the breakout stops. However, if you just introduced a skincare product into your existing regime, such as a new moisturiser, try giving it some time before determining that the product does not work. The skin takes time to adapt to newly-introduced ingredients, in the same way that it can adapt to that moisturiser or serum that you’ve been swearing by for years, resulting in reduced product efficacy. Ingredients such as Salicylic Acid also encourages the skin to detox and expel toxins, leading to an initial phase of small breakouts.
But if you have been having a breakout for the longest time, then yes, it’s time to re-evaluate and change your existing skincare arsenal as they are either obviously not doing their job or your skin has adapted to the formulas. Good hygiene habits also improve skin conditions, e.g., changing the pillow case frequently, changing the pillow itself (Did you know that a pillow has a lifespan? All that dead skin and keratin bits from your hair can accumulate and promote a prolific environment for bacteria to grow!), stopping yourself from touching your face so frequently with those dirty hands or washing your hands before cleansing your face. Sometimes, the best results can be achieved with the simplest methods.
I have oily but dehydrated skin. But when I use oil-free products, my skin feels dry. What should I do?
Oily-dehydrated skin is oily because of one simple reason—dehydration. The skin produces more oil as a form of coping mechanism simply because it feels the need to stay hydrated. Fun fact—healthy skin thrives in the right balance of not just pH 5 to 6, but also with the right balance of water to oil ratio. When water loss occurs in oily skin type, the skin simply produces more oil to cope with the situation so as to “lock-in” whatever remaining moisture that exists in the skin derma layers. Combine oily skin with overactive sebaceous glands and you’d get clogged pores and little bumps under your skin almost all the time, and mineral oil-based formulas will simply make it worse. Look out for products that are not entirely oil-free but not formulated using mineral oil or petroleum by-products and contains a small percentage of natural oils (such as citrus peel oil, squalene, olive oil) in the ingredient list. Entirely oil-free products without water-binding agents such as Hyaluronic Acids will simply provide moisture in the skin but not prevent it from being “absorbed” by the surrounding environment over time (air-conditioned, humid, hot, environments).The product should help “remind” your skin that there’s no need to produce more oil to prevent water loss.
My blackheads keep coming back after I get rid of them! Is there a way I can get rid of them permanently?
Everyone wishes to achieve pore-less perfection, but the problem with black head lies with the fact that our skin has pores. These pores are important in helping the skin breathe, excrete toxins, and assist in regulating the body’s temperatures. As our skin is the largest organ of our body, it basically needs to excrete toxins and by-products on a daily basis. These contribute to sebum in our pores, subsequently accumulating as white heads and eventually becoming blackheads if left unattended to.
While there is no possible way to get pore-less complexion (even with a laser treatment to minimise pore appearance progressively, your pores will still eventually enlarge again over time), blackheads can be easily prevented as long as you are hardworking enough. The skin also sheds every day (the dust in your room that accumulates over time? That’s made up of you!).
The first and most important step is to prevent hyper-keratinization—the build-up of dead skin cells leading up to clogged pores—which can be achieved by actively removing dead skin cells. Instead of using a scrub weekly, opt for a mild exfoliation product every day, such as the ones that contain PHA, which reacts only with dead skin cells and does not require any form of physical action to remove dead skin cells. This allows new layers of skin to grow naturally and healthily while dead skin is gently removed without damaging your new layers of skin, hence promoting cellular growth and even skin tone.
Next, pay close attention to facial cleansing and always bear in mind that sunscreens are like make-up—they should be removed with a make-up removing product prior to actual facial cleansing. Opt for double-cleansing using two different types of gentle hydrating cleansers for effective yet non-damaging cleansing.
I see my colleagues spraying facial mist at the office. Is that good? Does it make your skin more dehydrated after the “moisture” evaporates?
There are several different types of facial mists recommended for different skin types. In an office environment where air-conditioning tends to dry the skin out, try looking for functional facial mist that comes with active ingredients similar to your regular skincare. These can simply be ampoules or serums reformulated into a facial mist. Should you be more exposed to outdoor environments under the sun or lead an active lifestyle dedicated to sports and more sports, facial mists with mineral water or skin-cooling functions will then be more suitable. These either lessen the burn or damage caused by the sun or replenish the skin’s water content faster.
Selenium is a good mineral to look out for in mineral water type facial mists as it helps reduce skin sensitivity and redness, while other types of ingredients such as Vitamins B, C or even bees’ propolis can be found in functional facial mists and help maintain skin hydration and target specific skin concerns better. The formulas for functional face mists also differ slightly, as they come with a mixture of water-based and oil-based ingredients which in turn helps to lock in the hydration and nutrients provided to the skin better, hence not wasting your time and effort in spraying. If you can’t find the perfect facial mist suitable for your skin and lifestyle, try taking your favorite ampule and mixing it with distilled mineral water or your favorite hydrating facial toner in 1:2 ratio in a spritz bottle and see if it works for you!
Should I choose a cleanser based on the type (foaming, gel, etc) or ingredients?
Always consider your skin type and then look back on the main problems you wish to target before exploring what benefits your products can bring to you. Most foaming cleansers or deep cleansing cleansers tend to strip away both the natural oils and hydration within the skin, resulting in discomfort from redness, dehydration, and tightness (caused by dehydration and damaging the skin’s natural protection barriers). The requirement of deep cleansing or heavy duty cleansing tends to be at the end of each work day, after prolonged hours of exposure to dust, sun, and air-conditioning, or even make-up. However, if you already have the habit of double-cleansing, look for hydrating cleansers so that you do not over-cleanse and strip the skin of its natural oils and water. Likewise, in the morning, cleansing should be gentle enough to simply awaken the skin or replenish moisture lost overnight. In this case, you should opt for milk or gel type cleansers. For acne-prone skin types, the main issue is treatment for the acne, hence, focus on ingredients that works well for acne problems such as papaya enzyme (papain), salicylic acid, etc. It is also recommended to alternate between two different cleansers as our skin tend to adapt to our daily cleansers within a period of three to six months.
What’s the difference between an ampoule and a serum? Do I need to use both?
Ampoules and serums are largely different types of products. Many customers tend to group ampules, serums, even essences and lotions under the same group. Despite differing naming conventions, ampules are known for their smaller molecular structures and higher concentration in the active ingredients it contains. Hence, ampoules are designed to be absorbed faster with the capability to penetrate the skin deeper. Most ampoules are formulated with a high concentration of key active ingredients identified to tackle specific skin concerns such as pigmentation, dehydration, ageing, and more, this formulation very often omits the use of preservatives and additives.
Upon breaking the product’s seal and been exposed to oxidation, the product will only have a shelf life of one to three months. Depending on the ingredients within an ampoule used, the product’s shelf life before breaking its seal can also largely differ. While some ampules come with a standard international shelf life expectancy of three years (or even five years in some), others may come with a shelf life of only six months to a year. There is no specific requirement for ampoules and serums to be used together, but clinical trial analysis have shown better product effectiveness when products from the same range are used together. But if your skin is more prone to clogged pores and your lifestyle makes you more exposed to humid environments, try to avoid using heavy products. It is, however, important to always end your skincare regime with a moisturizer to lock all that goodness into your skin, otherwise you would eventually be washing your money down the sink—literally.
I see SLS in my cleanser, is it cancerous? I should boycott these products, right?
Sodium Laureth Sulphate (SLES), not to be confused with Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS), can be potentially carcinogenic only when contaminated with a specific chemical ingredient called 1, 4-dioxane. In clinical trials, SLES has shown cases of irritation in some of the test patients, while SLS itself is a known irritant that will cause irritation in all cases. Considering the milder effects of causing irritation, SLES is hence more commonly used as a foaming agent most commonly in your cleansers.
While the FDA has specified and approved SLS as a consumer safe ingredient, always ensure that your skin cleansers are purchased from reliable sources and the brand itself also has their very own research and development centre to ensure that the SLES used are from reliable sources. SLS in skin cleansers are also used at very minute concentrations of below 15% and in some cases even mixed with water to further reduce its concentration to ensure almost zero occurrence of skin irritation.
I used item A from Brand X and broke out. I should stop using the brand entirely right?
A lot of consumers don’t understand that at times, one or two acne occurrence in the occasion of using a new skin care product can simply represent that the skin is taking time to adapt to the active ingredients used in the formulation that the skin might have never been exposed to before. At the same time, in the case of poor suitability of a product, a breakout has to come in a form of multiple tiny acnes occurring or with skin irritation in the form of itching and swelling. The latter reaction commonly comes from an allergy reaction to specific ingredients, for example, bee by-products such as bee venom if the user has a pre-existing bee sting allergy.
More commonly, a breakout can also occur simply because you are using the wrong product. Don’t jump on the bandwagon of trends simply because your friends use a specific product. Skincare is highly subjective and its efficacy is highly reliant on a person’s skin type. A person with dry skin will definitely not be able to enjoy the full benefits of a moisturiser designed for oily skin and vice versa. All skincare products have very different formulations and no two recipes are the same. If a specific product from one brand does not suit it, it does not mean that all products from that brand will have adverse effect on your skin.