5 of My Best Skincare Tips (I am a Dermatologist)March 22, 2023
Welcome to my skin diary! As a dermatologist, you may imagine that I do get asked about my best skincare tips A WHOLE LOT. But if you watched my video on lazy girl cooking hacks, you may have discovered by now that I value efficiency. You know, as a former fencer, speed to me, is really everything (epeeists are also known as the…slowest). So in this series, I decided it’s time to get brutally honest about whether I practice what I preach. I’ve distilled it down to just 5 things I swear by–rain or shine, busy or not.
(I think you’ll find it interesting).
Introducing the compilation…The Lazy Derm’s Best Skincare Tips for Everyone
#1 Cleansing begins with understanding skin types
Choosing the right cleansing regimen is the most important part of any skincare routine
- Don’t just cleanse, cleanse mindfully
This means using either a very gentle washcloth (unless you have extremely dry/sensitive skin) a reusable soft microfibre pad can help attract the particulate matter settled on skin. PM2.5, airborne pollutants are known to accelerate skin aging and worsen skin conditions like acne. Cleansing is the most important step in any skincare regimen because it directly targets the skin microbiome.
When the skin microbiome is disturbed, skin conditions like acne, rosacea, eczema result.
How to up your cleansing game:
- Add a cleansing device
Sonic technology, microdermabrasion are some clinic technologies that have now been adapted for home use.
- Use a microfibre washing pad
Besides being eco-friendly, it’s also a quick and cost-effective way to quickly up your skincare regimen.
#2 Best Skincare Tips for Lazy Girls
- Don’t use a toner. Use facial essences instead
Aren’t they the same? They may look similar but they aren’t. The traditional cleanse-tone-moisturise skincare mantra is passé. Toners of the past were marketed as being astringents to remove excess oil. However, this is a terrible skincare faux pas. These days, we know that oily skin isn’t to be dehydrated like a greasy wok. Oily skin can be dehydrated as well. It’s a paradox, but not really.
Here’s the science: skin knows it has to regulate itself. Those who are born with genetic tendencies to develop greasy/oily skin tend to produce more sebum at the onset of puberty. The key is to regulate oil production and not to superficially remove oil like an astringent toner does. Instead, doing so leads to a dehydrated-oily skin phenomenon. A situation in which skin feels greasy from the inside and looks dehydrated, flaky and inflamed on the surface.
- Use a facial essence
K-beauty inspired facial essences are water-based. Water itself is a fantastic astringent/cleanser on its own—without stripping skin dry. This is why our skin feels cleansed after a bath. For the same reason dermatologists advise applying water compresses to wounds to gently cleanse and remove exudates.
- Face mist hack
I completely eliminate toners in my skincare regimen. Instead, my facial mist is multi-purposed as an on-the-go cleanser, toner and moisturiser. I choose one that is free of potentially irritating skincare actives like AHA, BHAs and retinol. The formulation should include a mix of different hydrating ingredients such as glycerin, sodium hyaluronate, polyglutamic acid and also antioxidants. In this case, especially in summer climates, I simply spray on my face mist right after cleansing and I’m done!
#3 Want to know a dermatologist’s skincare hack?
The best skincare tips from dermatologists are free, really.
- Use your favorite moisturiser as your sleeping mask
THE SKINCARE SCAM All sleeping mask formulas are the same as moisturisers, as these are leave-on rather than wash-off ingredients. They work by absorbing onto the skin to produce moisturising effects.
Are overnight masks more effective?
It really depends on the formulation. Overnight masks are really just moisturisers. Sleeping masks could possibly be more effective because it contains richer active ingredients that repair the skin barrier. It also has to do with the amount you apply. Directions to use for sleeping masks usually involve applying much more than your regular moisturiser.
Leaving a topical on the skin for more than 12 hours for example, it would be important to first ascertain suitability of the ingredients, preservative and vehicle, including concentrations and types, and all of the components being intended to be applied on the skin for an extended period and not as a wash off. It is really a good marketing invention, because this encourages people to apply the proper amount of moisturiser, which is a really liberal amount, overnight, as during the day they may not be as inclined to because of whitish cream residue that may be seen under makeup.
If the active ingredients contain irritating substances such as lactic, salicylic, glycol acids or retinols, one could actually develop skin irritation or skin allergies from masking over an extended period. Most topicals would be fully absorbed into the skin within a couple of hours, so it’s not necessary to leave something on overnight. It is more important to consider that a liberal amount of a good moisturiser is used during sleep, as that is when the skin repairs itself.
#4 Beauty Sleep is Seriously Underrated
I am obsessed with sleeping 8-9 hours a day. This dermatologist says: do not disturb (my sleep). If you need a takeaway from this article, this is it—the best of all skincare tips I have for you is to SLEEP. It’s essential to being alive, by the way. And I don’t meant to sleep at 2 am and wake up at 2 pm. To be beautiful (and healthy) you need to follow the circadian rhythm. Like the cicada…you know? Bugs?
- Beauty Sleep
Is beauty sleep real? I guarantee it. During the sleep cycle, skin cells work to repair damaged DNA. We all know about the sunscreen doctrine—how it prevents UV rays from damaging skin cells by preventing oxidative stress. But did you know that skin does repair its own damaged DNA? This is why the older you get, the higher the risk of developing skin cancer. Biological and chronological aging slows down the DNA repair process. Sleep helps to rejuvenate cell mitochondria, which are the powerhouses of skin cells. There is scientific evidence that backs up skin dullness and lack of radiance in sleep-deprived skin—and it isn’t psychological.
How I wake up with good skin
- Sleep by 9 and wake by 6 am
Your biological clock follows the circadian rhythm—which is the sun rise and sun down pattern. Our body’s physiological processes follow that too. This ensures your cells are optimally rested and can focus on fighting the bad guys (pollution, stress, UV damage) in the daytime.
- Choose cooling bedlinen
If you live in tropical humidity like I do (Singapore, land of crazy hot), you know your body heats up when you sleep. Pure cotton works well, choose higher thread counts which are gentler on skin. Your pillowcase makes a difference—use silk pillowcases or in my case I use one with copper silk which gives extra anti-aging skin benefits.
- Consider sleeping without A/C
This may be heretical for some—I used to be an aircon worshipper too. But it’s also true that A/C is bad for those with allergies, asthma and eczema. It dries out the skin barrier and it’s no different when you sleep. Sleep with a fan—that’s better for your skin and healthier for the environment too. Your skin will wake up feeling more moisturised (without sleeping masks, it’s free!).
FUN FACT ABOUT ME: I have a sleep journal
I am an avid dreamer—and I think that also means I sleep deeply. I have wacky dreams most of the time, and it also gives me insights into problems I face in the day. But more than that, I look forward to sleeping every night—it’s like catching up on a new episode in dreamland!
#5 Get Your Heart Pumping
That rounds up my list of my best skincare tips. If you have no time for serum, facials or mists—I understand, just don’t forget to keep your body in good shape. Your heart does a good job of caring for your skin and plays a big part in my skincare tips.
- Exercise everyday
Most people wrongly assume the best skincare tips involve skincare products/facials. Skin is an organ, much like any other organ of the body. When you are healthy, your skin will be too. Twenty minutes each day isn’t too much to ask for, especially if you are already committed to a skincare routine. The post-workout glow is real—the increased blood flow benefits the entire body and also stimulates the cell powerhouses. This is one way to instantly anti-age your skin—it does work, according to studies!
(For those who suffer from dermatological conditions like acne, rosacea, eczema, medical therapy may be necessary. This post talks about general skincare tips for those seeking to maintain healthy skin.)
Did you enjoy my compilation of the top 5 skincare tips on my radar? Do leave a comment below and let me know!
Sign up for my skincare school newsletter and I’ll send you the full pdf of my guide to the best skincare tips. You’ll also receive as a special welcome gift, a video course of my step-by-step instructional guide to DIY Home Medi-Facials plus PDF for instantly glowing skin. You also get access to my free skincare tips and workshops year round.