Thanks to our hot and humid climate, the battle against acne is a never-ending one for many of us, even long after our teenage years. Sure, we are all familiar with acne management tips like “don’t pick at your zits” and “don’t touch your face”, but despite our efforts to combat these pesky blemishes, many of us are secretly guilty for worsening the problem perhaps unknowingly.
For example, do you remember that squeaky clean feeling on our skin that we used to love when we were teenagers? Or how that stinging sensation made us feel like certain topical products were “working”? Well, chances are, the skincare ingredients responsible are actually those you should be avoiding. Here are the top five to stay away from.
While this works fine for most people with no major skin issues, synthetic perfumes can wreak havoc on those with irritation-prone skin as well as acne-prone skin. This is because they have the potential to irritate skin, and if your skin is already prone to inflammation and acne, they can further exacerbate the problem. Plus, if you notice, physician-prescribed skincare products for those with skin conditions like eczema, dermatitis and acne are almost always fragrance-free, which says a lot! Synthetic fragrances are usually labelled as “parfum”, or “fragrance” in the ingredient list, so remember to pay attention the next time you’re out shopping.
Who doesn’t love that cooling sensation alcohol leaves behind as it evaporates? In addition to that, alcohol also causes leaves a stinging sensation when you apply some toner over broken skin. While you might think that it means your products are “working”, it actually means otherwise. Those with acne-prone skin should avoid using products containing alcohol because it strips skin surface of moisture, further drying it out. And this only results in your sebum glands producing more sebum to naturally lubricate your skin, while in turn, could potentially worsen your acne breakouts.
You know that squeaky-clean sensation you crave for after cleansing your skin? It is the result of adding SLS into cleansers. Also known as Sodium Lauryl Sulphates, SLS are often added into cleansing liquids to create a rich lather. However, the reason they leave your skin feeling squeaking clean is because it breaks down and weakens the skin’s moisture barrier function. Over time, a compromised skin barrier means that your skin will neither be able to keep external irritants out nor retain moisture effectively, which will only further worsen any existing acne condition. Opt for SLS-free cleansers to keep your skin barrier intact.
Coconut oil may be known for its multi-purpose benefits like removing makeup and being rich in powerful antioxidants, but it is not the best option to apply topically for those with oily and acne-prone skin. This is because it has a thicker consistency that’s not easily and rapidly absorbed into the skin when applied. As a result, it can form a film over the skin surface, blocking the openings of pores. Over time, bacteria and dead skin cells accumulate, eventually clogging pores and resulting in acne. Plus, this is the same for extra virgin coconut oil or those that are processed or fractionated. So if you’re a fan of applying oils, opt for argan or jojoba oils instead as those are more easily absorbed by the skin and are less likely to clog pores and worsen acne.
While essential oils are known to provide healing and therapeutic benefits, many essential oils are also likely to irritate the skin due to the presence of fragrance ingredients like limonene, citronellol and linalool. Similarly to synthetic perfumes, these essential oil compounds are tricky to those with existing skin conditions like eczema and acne. To stay on the safe side, avoid using essential oils altogether and stick to derm-approved acne treatments such as salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide.
Text: Bernadette Bong-Chan