Great skin does not only depend on hereditary factors. Your daily habits, in fact, play a more important role in determining your skin health. If you do a quick search on Google about skincare products or skincare regime, you will probably be inundated with different opinions on everything.
Ultimately, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to looking after your skin. It is a personal choice, depending on your skin type and budget. In this article, Dr. Siew Tuck Wah tells us more about some general tips about what we should keep in mind when building a skincare regime that best suits us.
I don’t have a skincare routine. Where should I start?
Skincare is the foundation of anti-ageing and aesthetic medicine. Most skin conditions require the synergy of topical creams and in-clinic treatments for optimal, most effective results. You cannot simply rely on lasers to treat your pigmentation, while not using any sunscreen to protect your skin. The outcome may not be optimal.
To build a basic skincare regime, you need to understand the basic principles of cleanse, treat, and protect.
CLEANSE This is the first and most important step. Remove all makeup with a suitable makeup remover. If you are using waterproof makeup, you need to use an oil-based makeup remover. Otherwise, a non-oil-based formula will do.
Next, use a suitable cleanser to clean your skin thoroughly. If your skin is acne-prone or oily, choose a deep cleansing cleanser that either contains acids or enzymes to dissolve clogs and debris on your skin.
If you skin is dry or sensitive, opt for a gentle or cream-based formula that contains moisturising and soothing ingredients such as honey, lavender or aloe vera.
You may also use a toner to get rid of any last traces of makeup or debris from your skin. Unlike toners in the past that used to contain high levels of alcohol and irritating ingredients, facial toners nowadays are made to soothe redness and skin irritation. In fact, some are made to nourish and prepare the skin to allow better absorption of the products you may apply later.’
TREAT Use a serum which is suitable for your skin condition. For example, if you have pigmentation or uneven skin tone, consider a serum with skin whitening active ingredients such as vitamin C and tranexamic acid.
If you are suffering from persistent acne, you should apply some spot treatment serum to treat the skin inflammation. Consider acids such as AHA and BHA or witch hazel to reduce skin irritation and combat stubborn acne without stripping essential oil from the skin.
PROTECT Choose a suitable moisturiser for your skin type. If your skin is dry, you can use a cream-based moisturiser that can deeply hydrate and seal in the moisture. For people with acne-prone or oily skin, use a gel-based moisturiser such as HA serum that does not clog your pores.
Remember to apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen to protect your skin from the harmful UV rays from the sun.
What are the worst mistakes you can make?
There are many misconceptions about skincare and some of the right things to do may seem counterintuitive. Here are some common mistakes you may be making:
CLEANING AND EXFOLIATING TOO MUCH Washing your face or using a scrub which is too aggressive will damage the protective layer. Wash your face no more than two times a day and exfoliate with a gentle scrub 1 to 2 times a week.
NOT ENOUGH SUNSCREEN Using a broad-spectrum sunscreen is perhaps the most important step for your skin. However, most people do not apply enough sunscreen, or skin the step altogether. Even when you work from home, do not skip the sunscreen because the blue light emitted from your laptop or TV can worsen existing pigmentation.
USING TOO MUCH STRONG PRODUCTS Too much of a good thing is also bad for your skin. Many active ingredients can be irritating, especially those for treating pigmentation and acne. Very often, people slather on too much acids and retinoids, thinking that it will resolve the skin issue more quickly. In fact, the reverse is true.
Use strong creams sparingly and according to how your doctor prescribes them.
IGNORING YOUR NECK Our neck ages faster than our faces as the skin is thinner. Yet, most of us apply creams to the face and omit the neck. Remember to include your neck in your skincare regime.
How do I know if a product is suitable for me?
In general, choose products which target your skin condition – whether you have acne-prone skin, pigmentation, dry skin, or ageing skin with wrinkles. These specific skin issues usually have dedicated products that contain suitable active ingredients for you.
If you have sensitive skin, be careful when using a new product as it may cause an allergic reaction. Start by testing out the product on a small, inconspicuous patch of the skin such as behind the ear. Also, read the ingredient labels as ingredients such as fragrances can be irritating.