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Are these bad skincare habits ruining your skin?

Dermatologists and aesthetic doctors reveal the bad habits Singaporeans have


We all know that adequate hydration is essential for healthy skin. However, applying an adequate amount of sunscreen is just as important in helping to stave off premature signs of ageing.

According to Dr Toby Hui, senior doctor at Freia Medical, about "90 per cent of skin damage happens due to overexposure to harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays".

We should all be wearing "at least a 50 cent coin-sized" dollop of sunscreen.

He added that sunscreen should be reapplied every two to three hours when you are exposed to the sun for long hours and it is important to "go for a broad spectrum sunscreen with an oil-free formulation so it doesn't clog up your pores".

Another common sunscreen-related skincare blunder among Singaporeans is skipping sunscreen.

Dr Lam Bee Lan, medical director of Ageless Medical and Ageless Medi-Aesthetics, said: "Some people may feel like it's fine to skip sunscreen since they spend their entire day in the office and are away from sunlight."

Glass windows do not filter 100 per cent of harmful UV rays.

"Moreover, when we are in an office environment, we are constantly exposed to blue light radiation emitted from computer screens and mobile devices, which can also generate free radicals and have the same hazardous effects on our skin," added Dr Lam.

To complement a topical sunscreen, she also advises getting started on oral supplements which contain antioxidants and have free radical-scavenging properties to help reduce hyperpigmentation.


Another common bad skincare habit is picking at pimples and pimple scars.

Dr Teo Wan Lin, founder, medical director and consultant dermatologist at TWL Specialist Skin & Laser Centre, said: "Our fingernails and fingers are full of bacteria, which, to people who are already suffering from acne or are acne-prone, increases the chances of getting secondary bacterial infections when they pick at their skin, causing the acne to become worse. Over time, it can cause more inflammation and worse scarring after the acne heals."

She also added that the best way to manage acne-prone skin is to "visit an accredited dermatologist who will prescribe you with appropriate topical or oral medication as necessary".

According to her, "acne is a treatable medical condition and should not be left alone or it can lead to bad scarring".

If you have a persistent pimple, like a large cyst that has been there for more than one to two weeks, she recommends speaking to your dermatologist about it who can give you a steroid injection to reduce the inflammation quickly.


As Dr Georgia Lee, founder of DrGL, DrSpa and DrHair points out, many Singaporeans prone to acne around the hairline and at the back aggravate their condition by using occlusive hair oils and leave-in conditioners.

When such products are not washed off thoroughly, they can accumulate on the scalp and skin, and cause acne along the hairline and on the back, which is especially stubborn and leaves scars that can take years to lighten naturally.

Dr Lee recommends switching to rinse-off conditioners and emphasises the importance of rinsing it off thoroughly.


When living in the tropics, it is inevitable that our sweat and sebum glands become overactive.

Many of us have to deal with shine-prone skin, frequent breakouts and enlarged pores.

The first instinctive reaction that many Singaporeans have when managing oily skin is to wash their faces multiple times.

According to Dr Lam, many of her patients not only over cleanse their skin, but also exfoliate excessively with facial scrubs or chemical exfoliants.

Not only does this not solve the issue at hand, over cleansing and exfoliating can strip the skin of natural oils and disrupt the optimal pH balance of the skin, signalling the oil glands to produce even more sebum.

She added that the correct way should be to use gentle, non-foaming cleansers twice a day and keep exfoliation to once or twice a week.

This article first appeared on Her World Online (