Beauty and the Beast

Products

that specialise in problem skin make up one of the leading categories in the skincare market in Singapore. Practically every woman has had at least one skin care woe. We take a look at the different types of skin problems, and what you can do about them.

You have: Acne (pimples, blackheads and whiteheads)

The bane of many a teenager! Naturally-occurring oil called sebum can get trapped inside your follicles, or pores. Bacteria grows in this oil clog and either remains below the surface of the skin (whitehead) or oxidizes in air to a brown or black color (blackhead).

When the pore wall breaks, white blood cells rush to the site of the breakage (papule) and sometimes reach the surface of the skin, resulting in a white bump (pustule). These can feel sore and cause the surrounding skin to turn red with inflammation.

You want: Unclogged pores and bump-free skin

Sometimes blackheads, whiteheads and pimples appear on their own and they can heal on their own. Other times you may be inadvertently causing them by introducing oil, bacteria and pore-clogging substances from your hands, hair, hats or hair products. Avoid products that contain ingredients that are likely to clog pores (comedones), which also trap sebum and bacteria.

Try: Benzoyl peroxide (BPO)

BPO enters the pore and kill bacteria inside. It also helps control oil production. Wash your face daily with warm water a BPO-containing face wash and avoid using a wash cloth or scrub lest you irritate your acne further. Follow with an over-the-counter acne treatment containing benzoyl peroxide; start every other day until your skin becomes accustomed to it, then increase application to daily.

Do not pop, squeeze or pick at your zits! There are several things that can happen if you do: first, you could force bacteria deeper into the skin; two, you damage the pore and cause scarring; third, you may inadvertently introduce bacteria into your pores.


You have: Oily skin

Does your forehead become shiny mere hours after washing your face? This could be the result of overactive oil glands or even hormonal changes. Many people who suffer from acne, teenagers and adults alike, tend to have oily skin.

You want: Matte balanced skin

Your skin requires the extra oil to protect itself from the elements. However, excessive oil left on top of the skin can lead to bacteria growth. Learn to love oil-blotters - remove off excess oil from your skin throughout the day to remove shine and prevent clogged pores.

Try: Salicylic acid (also known as beta-hydroxy acid, or BHA)

Salicylic acid is a chemical exfoliant that removes scaly flaky skin that can block the pore opening without any abrasion. Salicylic acid also treats inflammation, reducing redness. It can penetrate an oil-filled pore to remove dead skin cells that block it.

Choose a gentle, oil-free, non-comedogenic facial cleanser containing benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid and wash your face twice daily; if your skin is very oily, you may need to wash as many as three times a day. Fortunately, you can find convenient facial wipes that contain salicylic acid and gentle cleansers.

Even after your skin has recovered, it is best to continue using a salicylic acid treatment to help maintain its clarity.


You have: Dry flaky skin

Your skin probably feels rough and even tight. If your skin is severely dry, it may itch, peel and exhibit redness and inflammation.

Skin dryness is often determined by your age, race and genetics, but it can also be caused by long stretches of time outdoors; dry heat and sun exposure can also dry out your skin.

If you observe excessive flaking and redness, see your dermatologist to make sure you don’t have a more serious skin condition like eczema (sometimes referred to as dermatitis) or psoriasis.


You want: Moisturised glowing skin

Moisturise, moisturise, moisturise! Your daytime moisturiser must include SPF 15 or higher. Using a nighttime moisturiser is important too - your skin does a lot of recovery while you sleep and needs protection from the dry air created by your air-conditioner.

Avoid using hot water to wash your face as it can scald and damage your skin. Opt for lukewarm water and be very gentle when touching your face.

Try: Alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs)

AHAs (also known as glycolic acid) are chemical exfoliants that work to remove dead cells on the surface of the skin. Removal of the dead skin cells encourages the growth of new cells, which help give you a glowing appearance. Citric acid (from citrus fruit) and lactic acid (from milk products) are also AHAs.


You have: Dark or light patches of skin

Freckles are cute, but what if they’re bigger or darker? They’re not quite as cute. Hyperpigmentation can occur due to exposure to sunlight. UV radiation stimulates the production of a natural skin pigment called melanin, causing dark spots or patches. Hormone imbalance has also been known to cause dark-colored patches to appear.

You want: Even skin tone

Unfortunately, dark spots due to acne scars must be treated differently from hyperpigmentation. However, both can be treated with exfoliation to remove the top (dark) layer of skin. However, because your rate of melanin production differs from the next person’s, the only way to know its effectiveness is to experiment with different products and seek the advice of a licensed dermatologist.

Try: N-acetyl glucosamine (NAG)

This is a safe and effective skin-lightening chemical that inhibits the production of melanin. NAG can be found in some facial moisturisers and serums, but it may take some time see the desired results.