Oily, shine-prone skin? Check.
Rough and uneven skin texture? Check.
Bumpy and congested skin? Check.
Those plagued with overactive sebum glands will be familiar with the above-mentioned scenarios. Needless to say, each of us has developed our own little routines that we turn to whenever we need to battle that occasional breakout. However, if those pesky spots never seem to go away, this might be a hint that what we’re using could be unsuitable.
Here are five types of beauty products you keep at arm’s length if you have acne-prone skin.
Cleansers that give a thick foam
There’s something satisfying about cleansing with a thick, rich foam. And that squeaky-clean feeling it leaves behind? Indescribably delightful. But that doesn’t mean it’s good for your skin. If you take a closer look at the ingredients list of any of your beauty products that provide a thick lather, chances are you’ll see SLS (aka sodium lauryl sulphates) on it. Often found in cleansing products like shampoos, shower gels and even detergents, SLS provides that sensorial pleasure of a dense lather. At the same time, it also strips away the skin’s natural moisture barrier, giving you that squeaky-clean sensation after rinsing off the foam. And while it might feel good temporarily, this can strip your skin of moisture and eventually compromise your skin’s barrier function. Your sebum glands might go into overdrive and produce even more sebum to keep your skin well-lubricated, leading to even more congestion. To tackle this, opt for cleansers that are low-foaming, which usually contain low or no SLS. These are suitable not only for those with oily skin but also those with sensitive and inflammation-prone skin. However, if you can’t give up getting all lathered up, look for products that use coconut-derived surfactants like sodium coco sulphate. They provide a similar lush foam without all the stripping properties of SLS.
Toners that contain alcohol
We all know that alcohol is a good antibacterial agent, which means it can kill acne-causing bacteria trapped in pores. However, it is also very drying and can strip the skin of essential moisture. And since dehydrated skin is irritated skin, prolonged use of products containing alcohol can disrupt your skin’s moisture-sebum balance, setting off sebum glands to become overactive. To avoid stripping skin, avoid using toners that contain alcohol and look for “alcohol-free” on product labels.
While it might seem like a good idea to scrub your face frequently when you have acne-prone skin, the truth is, it simply isn’t. Sure, adequate cleansing and frequent exfoliation are essential steps to keeping acne at bay, but that isn’t necessarily the case if you’re using a physical exfoliator. These face scrubs are often made of polishing sugars or fruit kernels that have irregular edges and can cause micro-tears to your skin, further aggravating inflamed skin. Opt for chemical exfoliators like a face peel containing a blend of alpha and beta hydroxy acids. Alpha hydroxy acids help to sweep away dead skin cells at the surface and stimulate cellular turnover while beta hydroxy acid can penetrate pores to soften comedones and dissolve oil plugs. It is however, extremely important to follow the usage instructions for optimal results.
Thick and rich face creams
Commonly misused by those with acne-prone skin, thick and rich face creams could also potentially worsen clogged pores. While they might be great for nourishing dry skin, they might be too thick to be fully absorbed by those with oily skin types and as a result, form an occlusive layer on the skin. This occlusive layer can then trap sebum and dead skin cells, causing more congestion and breakouts. To minimise this, opt for lightweight moisturisers that are oil-free. Gel textures work well for those with oily skin as they can pack hydration without clogging the pores. Also look out for deeply hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid or sodium hyaluronate.
We’ve all been there: After a long day, all you want to do is crawl into bed and go to sleep. But then there’s makeup still on your face, so you reach for makeup remover wipes in your bedside table, give your face a few good smears before dozing off. Granted, a half-hearted attempt at removing makeup is better than none but that’s when facial wipes should only be used: as a last resort. This is because facial wipes are saturated in cleansing solution that is meant to remove makeup and not be left on the skin. Not only does cleansing your face with facial wipes not remove all traces of makeup from your skin, it also doesn’t provide your skin with adequate skincare ingredients. And if used frequently, can further clog pores and worsen your acne. So, if spending an extra few minutes can pave the way to healthier, clearer skin, doesn’t that beat spending more money on acne treatments?
Text: Bernadette Bong-Chan