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  • Writer's pictureSabarna Manoharan

Busting skincare myths! (Uni edition)

Most of us would associate skincare with beauty, clear skin, SK-II - or your K-pop girl/boy with porcelain skin. But not many of us would see it as essential or a basic self-care regime. Therefore, as a self-proclaimed skincare advocate and collector of skincare products, I am here to bust 5 huge skincare misconceptions that I have regrettably noticed in my peers.

#1 Skincare is UNNECESSARY

If you think bathing is enough and using body soap for your face is sufficient, please stop!

The surfactants in conventional body soaps can cause drying and irritation to your face. In fact, they can damage your skin’s acid mantle and eliminate good bacteria (yes, you have healthy bacteria living on your face too). Eventually, these substances can strip away your skin’s natural moisturising factor (NMF) and affect skin barrier function.

Source: CNA lifestyle

Many also think of sunscreen as an ‘accessory’ or a luxury item for those who do not want to tan. But sunscreen does more than just prevent tanning. It forms a protective shield against UV rays that primarily cause the skin to age and is a prominent cause of skin cancer.

In Singapore, non-melanoma, a form of skin cancer that develops in the upper layers of the skin is one of the top 10 cancers amongst the local population. Yet, many Singaporeans do not practise sufficient sun safety habits and less than 25% of adults use sunscreen, according to a local survey.

Sunscreen application is generally encouraged when staying out in the sun, especially between 10 am and 3 pm when sun intensity peaks and UV radiation is the strongest. In particular, broad-spectrum sunscreen (with SPF 30 and above) that targets UVA and UVB rays is touted to be the best!

As you spend your college days playing sports and waiting for shuttle buses under the hot sun, think of sunscreen as a long-term investment and protection for your skin. Indeed, you will thank yourself years from now.

Source: Facebook

#2 Skincare is COMPLICATED

When I saw the Korean 10-step skincare routine, I was flabbergasted because my sensitive skin could never!

I figured that many also see the whole idea of a ‘skincare routine’ to be tedious and confusing. Do I really have to slap on that many products to have good skin? Will that really help? If so, which products do I use? Why are there so many products?!

Well, fret not my friends because the 10-step routine is just one way of doing it. In my opinion, less is more. Identify your skincare concerns. Prioritise what you need versus what you want. Start simple and build on your skincare regime as and when it is needed.


What's a basic and simple skincare routine?

  1. Cleanser - Removes dirt, excess bacteria, and oil from your face. Wash your face with a cleanser (perhaps one that is suited for your skin type) at least once a day.

  2. Moisturiser - Helps to maintain your skin's moisture barrier, thus preventing redness, dryness, and inflammation. Moisturise your skin twice daily!

  3. Sunscreen - Protects your skin from damaging UV rays which speed up skin aging and increase the risks of skin cancer.

  4. Treatment - This is where the ‘atas’ products come in. Use a toner, serum, or essence that targets a specific skin concern, e.g. dullness, redness, blemishes, pigmentation.

There is a myriad of skincare products but remember your skincare concerns (acne-prone, sensitive, dry skin, etc) and use products with ingredients that target them!

Once it becomes a habit, it becomes less of a ‘pain’.

It is similar to disciplining yourself to work out and maintain a sleep schedule. After all, skincare is a way of taking care of yourself as well!

#3 Skincare is EXPENSIVE

I have to admit - some products cost as much as my monthly budget. But, there are products on the market which are relatively affordable and get the job done.👍

Here are some budget recommendations (these are products that I love and/or worked for me!)

Hydro boost water gel cleanser from Neutrogena

Cleansers and moisturiser from Cerave

Toners from Korean brands like Klairs, Isntree & COSRX

Sunscreen from Isntree & Beauty of Joseon

Snail mucin essence & moisturiser from COSRX

La Roche-Posay Cicaplast Baume B5 cream

Most of these products can be bought online (definitely cheaper) or at most Guardian/Watsons outlets.

#4 Skincare is HARMFUL

I am not going to say that all skincare products will do wonders for your skin. But at the same time, not all of them will ruin your skin either. The key here is to look at the ingredient list. Usually, the ingredients in a skincare product will be arranged in order of concentration.

That means that the first five to six ingredients you see are going to form the bulk of what goes onto your face. Before making any purchase, make sure that those top ingredients are what your skin needs!

At the same time, beware of the following harmful ingredients as well!

  1. Parabens - are used to increase the shelf life of products but there is debate regarding their potential to disrupt hormones and cause skin sensitivities.

  2. Denatured alcohol - unlike fatty alcohols (e.g. Cetearyl alcohol) which are beneficial, simple alcohols like denatured and isopropyl alcohols can be very drying and sensitising for the skin.

  3. Fragrance - while it smells nice, it may trigger allergic reactions, especially in sensitive skin.

On the other hand, do look out for these green flags in your products as well!

  1. Ceramides - reinforce the skin barrier and increase hydration.

  2. Alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) - help to exfoliate the skin surface and promote skin cell turnover which can address hyper-pigmentation, etc.

  3. Niacinamide - this all-rounder reduces inflammation, improves skin texture, and even treats acne! (it also complements a variety of skincare ingredients well).

#5 Skincare is too FEMININE

EVERYONE should take care of their face. Period. (plus a little moisturising is not going to undermine anyone's gender identity🤪)

For those who have no idea where to start, how about asking your friends to share their routines with you? Or you could try some of my recommendations too! It is never too late to start and trust me, your skin will thank you in the long run.

With that, I hope I have eliminated at least one skincare misconception you might have had and I wish you all the best in your skincare journey!

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