Whether you have oily, dry, combination or sensitive skin, we’re all on a quest for flawless skin. Five local dermatologists share their secret tips on how to get a radiant and glowing complexion, no matter your skin type.
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Dr Liew Hui Min… on how to build a custom skincare routine
1. Tone down on the toner
Toner is commonly used after facial wash; however it is usually not necessary unless you wear thick makeup. The less skin products you apply on your face, the less likely you are to develop sensitive skin.
2. Exfoliate in moderation
[Exfoliating your face] once a week will help keep your skin clean and fresh; overdoing it will aggravate your skin causing irritation and redness. For people with back acne, exfoliating washes will be helpful.
3. Polish to perfection
Apart from using a facial exfoliator wash, you can also polish [your way to radiant skin]. The aim of using a “polisher” is to peel off the accumulated dead skin, gently leaving your skin bright and radiant. Look for facial products that contain retinol, and AHA (alpha hydroxy acids). However, those with dry and sensitive skin must be careful with these products. Also, it may take time to see results with some of these OTC products, mainly because the strength is of a lower potency. See a dermatologist [if you’re looking for a] medical grade version of retinol or AHA.
Dr Teo Wan Lin on… clean and clear skin
1. Double cleanse with the right type of cleansers
Double cleanse to dissolve makeup pigments and then wash off in a cleaning lather. The [first cleanse] requires an oil emulsion formula to completely dissolve makeup, whereas the [second cleanse] helps to remove residual dirt and grime. I formulate a medical grade honey-based cleanser which acts as a natural surfactant while trapping a layer of moisture under the skin.
2. Use a hydrating mist to balance out skin
Reactive seborrhoea occurs in humid climates when people with oily skin dehydrate their skin with harsh cleansers without moisturising, thus causing more oil production. Using lotions in the day [can be] cumbersome—[instead, use] a moisturising mist (not just water) containing active ingredients like glycerin to trap water under the skin.
3. Get to the root of the problem
If you are prone to forehead acne, [it could be due to] greasy scalp issues. This can be linked to a condition known as Pityrosporum Folliculitis, [which is] caused by a yeast that overgrows on oily scalps and can be transmitted by the hair touching one’s face. Use a medicated shampoo for dandruff such as those with zinc pyrithione or salicylic acid such as this deep cleansing shampoo.
Dr Mark Tang on… tackling inflamed and sensitive skin
1. Small change, big impact
The pH refers to how “acidic” or “alkaline” a substance is. Healthy skin has an acidic pH (between four to six) and small changes in skin pH [can] have a big impact on the skin barrier function and bacterial growth. So, choose products with a low pH (pH 5.5 or less) and avoid [using] harsh alkaline soaps or even alkaline water to wash the skin.
2. Less is more
For ultra-sensitive skin, less is indeed more. Follow a minimalistic skin regime focused on bare essentials. Do a “Marie Kondo” of your skincare [collection] and de-clutter down to what your skin really needs. Remember that “organic”, “dermatologist tested”, “natural” and “fragrance free” do not necessarily mean chemical-free and are not automatically safer or more effective. Quality over quantity anytime.
3. Double up for maximum hydration
For acutely oozy, inflamed skin on the face, a simple way to boost the hydration of the skin is to use a double layer wet wrap therapy. First, apply a layer of a light facial moisturiser all over the face. Next, apply a hydrating facial mask or even just facial cotton pads soaked with normal 0.9 per cent saline, especially over the affected areas. The final layer is another dry cotton towel over the mask to provide a “double” layer of occlusion. Repeat as often as needed once the “inside” layer dries up. Skin hydration guaranteed.
Dr Stephanie Ho on… developing an anti-ageing skincare routine
1. Add an oral sunscreen to your routine
Sun protection remains the most important and most effective at combating early signs of ageing. Apart from the usual sunscreen, hats and sun sleeves, I would also recommend an oral anti-oxidant and sunscreen for maximal sun protective effect. Polypodium leucotomos is derived from a fern from South and Central America that has been formulated into a capsule. This has potent antioxidant effects, reducing DNA damage from UV to our skin cells, and also acts as additional sunscreen. Please note that normal sunscreen should still be used, and this oral antioxidant capsule is used as additional protection. It is perfect for days spent outdoors on weekends and when on holiday.
2. Treat acne early
Early treatment of acne is recommended to prevent permanent scars from forming. Lots of people feel that acne is a phase that they will “grow out” of. However in severe acne where patients may get large nodules and cysts, permanent depressed scars are left which can be very disfiguring. This can have an impact on their social and early working life. There are highly effective treatments for acne available and I strongly recommend that patients should see their dermatologist for further advice on how to treat their acne EARLY. Treatments may vary from topical creams and washes, to oral medicines, and even laser and light treatment for acne marks and scars. Having clear skin does wonders to boost one’s confidence.
3. Get your daily dose of vitamin C
Cultivating a good skincare routine from a young age can be the start of good skin health. A gentle wash, vitamin C serum, lightweight moisturiser and sunscreen would be a good daytime routine. In the evening, double cleanse to remove all makeup, followed by application of a tranexamic acid and hyaluronic acid serum, moisturiser and a retinoid cream if tolerated. This will help lighten and brighten most skin types, as well as to stimulate collagen. As each person’s skin is different, it is best to see a dermatologist for a personalised routine based on your skin type. If the budget allows, some laser and light treatment is excellent at improving pore size and texture as well as brightening the skin.
Dr Joyce Lim… on preventing pigmentation and restoring skin to optimal condition
1. Prevention is key
Ageing starts during your mid-twenties, which is why our skincare routine should incorporate scientifically proven anti-ageing ingredients. The most effective and well known of these are the retinoids, [otherwise known as] vitamin A. [Some retinoids are prescription-only, while others remain more easily accessible in cosmetic skincare solutions]. Retinoids are usually incorporated into night creams. A recent buzzword in the cosmetic world is bakuchiol—this has the effects of retinol but with lesser or minimal irritation compared to retinol.
2. Hydrate with the skin’s natural ingredients
Skin hydration is important as our skin loses moisture and suppleness with age. Everyone needs a moisturiser [that] should contain hyaluronic acid or ceramides—some of the skin’s natural ingredients. [Not only do those ingredients] hold moisture but they are also able to stimulate collagen and elastic tissues in the skin.
3. Protect against pigmentation
In Asian skin, pigmentation is related to ageing and the sun; hence, sun protection and ingredients that stop [pigmentation from forming] should be part of our skin care regime. Sunscreen should not only block UVA, UVB and infrared lights, but also filter against blue light. Pigmentation correctors can be [either] prescription-based or [found in] cosmeceuticals.
Text: Claire Soong