I don’t know about you, but the most stressful part of Chinese New Year for me isn’t the hunt for suitable new clothes or preparing red packets to give out, and it isn’t even spring-cleaning my flat. It’s thinking about how to prevent a huge zit - or worse, a full-blown breakout - from popping up over the period when you can’t avoid seeing just about everyone.
If you feel the same way, here are some legit tips (backed by an aesthetic doctor, no less) to help us all remain clear-skinned throughout the festivities. Start now and there’s a good chance your skin will look its best by the first day of CNY!
#1 Stay away from dairy and too much carbs
Fried food has long been blamed for acne outbreaks. But did you know the real culprits are dairy and carbohydrate-rich food? “Dairy increases certain hormonal levels and that stimulates sebum (oil) production in skin, one of the components of acne. And carbohydrates cause a rapid spike in blood sugars and insulin levels, which also trigger acne,” says Dr Phoon Yishan, consultant doctor and plastic surgeon at David Loh Surgery. If you find it tough to cut these foods out completely, just scale back or consume them in moderation.
#2 Don’t use a makeup base
If you’re acne-prone, avoid using makeup base. According to Dr Phoon, the main function of a makeup base is to help foundation adhere well to the skin - which also means your makeup will be harder to remove and your skin tougher to cleanse. And we all know that the gunk that clogs up your pores is a big cause of zits and acne, right?
#3 Cleanse like your life depends on it
Good cleansing is a major deterrent of acne and breakouts. “Dead skin cells and the excess oil on your skin form a plug that blocks the follicles. Bacteria can then infect the inflamed area. By washing more frequently, you can remove the excess oil and dead skin cells before they clog your skin,” says Dr Phoon. You should also moisturise with a water-based moisturiser made for oily skin. This will help to control excess sebum production in the long run.
#4 Salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide are your friends
Salicylic acid comes from willow tree bark and helps boost skin’s natural exfoliation. “It penetrates pores, dissolves built up dead skin and encourages the shedding of the top layer of skin which prevents the pores from becoming congested,” says Dr Phoon. Meanwhile, benzoyl peroxide also helps natural exfoliation and prevents clogged pores, and what’s more it kills acne-causing bacteria. Dr Phoon treats her acne patients using a combination of microdermabrasion and salicylic acid Aquafacials, creams containing salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide. In severe cases, she encourages a salicylic acid chemical peel.
#5 Treat your skin with TLC
Do not, we repeat, do not go full battle mode against any offending zits by scrubbing them or using harsh cleansers and astringent, which will further inflame the skin and cause scarring. “At-home treatments should be a balanced regime of moisturising and soothing products, together with exfoliatiants,” says Dr Phoon. Seek a doctor’s advice if you’re unsure or need help with acne.
David Loh Surgery is at #01-27 Park House, 21 Orchard Boulevard, tel: 6733-9114.