Shaving-related irritation is one of the most popular cosmetic complaints among men. While it can affect any part of the face, the neck area is particularly sensitive to shaving nicks and redness.
If you are looking to keep your shave smooth and irritation-free, stick around as we share a few useful tips below.
A Smooth Shave Not So Close to Your Skin
Shaving close to the skin without causing trauma is challenging. Also, shaving can compromise your skin barrier. Specifically, our skin has a layer of lipids that works to retain moisture and regulate the entry of any chemicals. When we shave, this lipid layer is compromised, especially if alcohol-containing aftershaves are used. When the lipid layer is damaged, the skin becomes extremely vulnerable to external stimuli. Moisture is easily lost to the surroundings and foreign chemicals can enter the skin easily. The skin can be more irritable at this stage.
Shaving may also be a physical stimulus for the receptors in our skin. While the sensory receptors in the skin are meant to perceive pain, they also react to more innocent environmental stimulus like a razor. Upon shaving, the skin releases mediators that cause a flare response, which leads to redness or a burning sensation.
Ingrown Hairs Impede a Smooth Shave
When shaved, the hair is left with a sharp tip. Ingrown hairs happen when the tip grows out of the follicle, curves downwards and re-enters the skin. Alternatively, it can grow inwards and penetrate the deeper skin layers.
Your body recognizes the hair’s reentry as a foreign object and triggers an inflammatory reaction that causes redness and itchiness. The follicles can resemble a pimple filled with pus.
To avoid this, do not stretch the skin while you shave as it causes newly cut hair to retract underneath the skin, making it more difficult to achieve a smooth shave.
Razor Burns After a Not So Smooth Shave
Razor burns occur when there is skin inflammation. Symptoms include burning, itching, stinging and redness. In mild cases, the discomfort can last for a few hours and resemble a rash or scratch. If the condition worsens, you may notice bumps that resemble pimples.
Dermatologist Tips for a Smooth Shave
Dry beard hair is stiffer and more resistant to applied forces. This means that stiffer hair requires greater force when shaving. To soften the beard hairs, first wash your face with cool water (which decreases chances of skin inflammation) and a gentle antibacterial cleanser like Miel Honey™ Cleanser. The Honey Cleanser is formulated with medical grade honey – a natural antibiotic, and the Arnica Montana flower extract with anti-inflammatory benefits. These properties help to calm the skin and reduce the risk of infection after a shave. The motion of washing your face also releases embedded hairs, which become exposed and easier to shorten with a smooth shave.
Shave with the grain, i.e. in the direction of hair growth, to reduce razor burn. Friction or abrasiveness on the skin during shaving is aggravated when there is an opposing force against the direction of hair growth, so it is recommended to avoid that.
Use a sharp and clean razor blade with every shave. Dull blades require more pressure, which creates more abrasion with each shave and increases likelihood of damaging of the epidermal skin. Furthermore, unclean blades can introduce bacteria or microbes and trigger inflammation of the skin. It may also be beneficial to rinse the blade with residual anti-bacterial cleanser from the face wash in (1), to help keep the blade clean.
If ingrown hairs are a significant issue causing irritation to the shaving area, consider switching to electrical razors. Electrical razors have a hair-permeable barrier between the skin and blade. The barrier prevents direct contact of the shaving blades to the skin, thereby reducing the closeness and potential irritation from the shave, albeit one would experience a less clean shave from this. Maintain beard hair at length of 0.5 to 1 mm to prevent hair from penetrating the skin.
Use a moisturizer after your shave to decrease irritation and rehydrate the skin. An emulsion-based, lightweight moisturizer like Radiance Fluide™ Hydrating Emulsion is recommended. The emulsion is an oil-in-water mixture which creates a lightweight texture when moisturising the shaved areas. Furthermore, the Radiance Fluide is power-packed with skin-hydrating bioactives and botanical extracts that have anti-inflammatory properties. The botanicals accelerate wound healing on the skin, making the Radiance Fluide a perfect cosmeceutical after-shave cream.
If you experience persistent shaving-related irritation, such as redness, bumps and pimple-like growths, or even loss of beard hair, it is best to visit an accredited dermatologist. A proper consultation with dermatologists, who are in fact skin and hair specialists, can identify any underlying condition and provide advice on suitable treatment and care options for a smooth shave.
What happens to your skin when you drink too much?
To maintain the health of your skin, you may want to think twice before you reach for one too many drinks. Alcohol can be pretty harsh on the skin.
When broken down, alcohol produces molecules called aldehydes. Such molecules cause damage to the body’s cells by destroying their ability to function. When cells are damaged or die, our body produces new cells to replace them. However, a single exposure to alcohol can reduce the body’s ability to multiply cells.
Another effect of alcohol is the widening of small blood vessels in the skin. This allows more blood to flow closer to the skin’s surface, which produces the distinctive flush and feeling of warmth often associated with alcohol consumption. Over time, this can cause an unhealthy appearance including dullness, enlarged pores, sagging, discoloration and a lack of skin resilience. Such effects can last for days.
Excessive alcohol consumption can further limit the liver’s ability to remove toxins, which can also make you look older.
Alcohol interferes with the body’s ability to regulate water levels. Your brain produces a hormone called anti-diuretic hormone (ADH) that acts on our kidneys to control the amount of water secreted in your urine. When your body is dehydrated, your brain sends a signal to pump out ADH. ADH stops you from urinating as much, allowing you to retain your water levels.
Alcohol inhibits ADH levels. So even when you drink a lot of water alongside your alcoholic drinks, your body only hangs on to about a third of it while the rest goes out in your urine. In other words, alcohol increases urine volume and leaves your body dehydrated.
This dehydrating effect worsens skin elasticity, thickness and density. It also makes wrinkles and fine lines more noticeable.
Most itchy skin diseases are exacerbated by alcohol consumption. Alcohol causes eczema to be twice as common, likely due to its suppressive effects on the immune system.
Alcohol also makes psoriasis harder to treat. Psoriasis refers to the condition of red, itchy skin. While alcohol itself does not cause psoriasis, it increases the body’s susceptibility to infection and exacerbates the condition. Heavy drinkers are also more resistant to therapy.
Flushing is a common after-effect of drinking and tends to go away the next day. It is more prevalent in individuals who do not have an enzyme that breaks down aldehyde. (Alcohol is broken down via two general steps, first into aldehydes and then to acetate.) An accumulation of aldehydes causes flushing and rapid heart rates.
An impaired alcohol metabolism can also worsen rosacea, a common skin disease with a tendency to blush or flush more easily than others. It can further cause an increased incidence of telangiectasia or the appearance of spider veins at the surface of the skin.
However, excess ROS production can be harmful to the skin as it alters the body’s immune response, triggers inflammation and causes the body to attack itself. This can compromise the skin’s wound healing processes.
Consequently, alcohol can cause skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis or, in some cases, acne to take much longer to heal than before.
Resveratrol in red wine
Resveratrol is an antioxidant often found in red wine. (Antioxidants work to fight against the oxidative stress that your skin cells encounter.) Resveratrol also has therapeutic benefits against various skin disorders and protects the skin against harmful UV rays. Given that UV radiation is a major cause of ageing, resveratrol is popular for its anti-ageing abilities.
However, there are other ways to get resveratrol that do not include the harmful effects of alcohol.
For a dermatologist-formulated anti-ageing serum, go for Elixir-V™ Total Recovery Serum. It contains a potent concoction of resveratrol, hyaluronic acid and oligopeptides that work together to give you the perfect V-face look.
Seek for professional help
If your skin condition worsens, schedule a visit with a dermatologist as soon as you can. The dermatologist can determine the best course of action and suitable treatment that would be effective for your condition and your lifestyle.
Have you ever woken up groggy from less than six hours of sleep and felt your skin is looking unwell? Ever wonder why?
How lack of sleep impacts your skin
Dehydrates the skin
The skin barrier works as a shield against environmental threats and prevents excessive water loss. When you don’t get enough sleep, your skin barrier can weaken and your levels of transepidermal water loss (TEWL) can be higher. TEWL is the amount of water lost to external environments via evaporation. Increased water loss dries out our skin, which can cause skin scaling and increased desquamation or the shedding of the skin’s outermost cells.
Imagining your skin cells as bricks and the lipids/fats in between as mortar, dehydrated skin has a more ‘disorganised’ brick and mortar structure; this causes more light to bounce off the surface. In comparison, hydrated skin has an ‘organised’ structure, allowing more light to penetrate the skin and giving off a translucent appearance.
Your pores can also appear larger with the lack of rest. While you will not have an increased number of pores if you snooze less, increased skin scaling causes a coarser skin texture and can make pores appear enlarged.
Reduces immune system function
Sleep also plays a role in restoring the body’s immune system function. Any change in the immune response may affect collagen production and lead to impaired skin integrity.
Inflames the skin
Sleep deprivation also triggers increased levels of inflammatory cytokines, which in turn modify the structures of collagen molecules. Collagen gives the skin its elasticity and flexibility. Assembling into a dense network of fibres, collagen holds the dermis layer together and protects the skin from external sources such as bacterial agents or ultraviolet radiation. Lower collagen levels manifest as thinner and wrinkled skin.
Ages your skin
Poor sleepers may experience uneven pigmentation, fine wrinkling, skin laxity, loss of facial fat and benign skin growths.
Chronic poor quality of rest is also associated with accelerated intrinsic ageing. Intrinsic ageing results from factors inherent in chronological ageing such as metabolic oxidative stress.
Stress is also a likely factor inherent in the lack of sleep. In response to stress, your brain releases an excess of stress hormones called glucocorticoids. This hormone causes negative effects on nearly all body tissues and accelerates the aging process. Glucocorticoids also inhibit lipid production, which eventually weakens skin integrity.
Regain your skin’s well-rested radiance
If you covet a seemingly translucent, pore-less look, it’s no surprise that we suggest you catch up on your sleep.
However, while you’re trying to change your snooze habits, providing rich hydration to your skin can also help compensate for some of your sleep loss. Apart from a moisturizer, a good boost of hydration also can come from an effective hyaluronic acid serum.
Melanin is the culprit behind the dark spots that give us an uneven complexion. It is a brown pigment found in the basal layer of the epidermis.
This pigment is synthesised by melanocytes. The process of melanin synthesis is termed melanogenesis. Melanocytes go through different stages of maturation, becoming more pigmented at each stage.
Certain stimulants trigger a gene to produce more of tyrosinase, a copper-containing enzyme that converts tyrosine into melanin. Stimulants that activate the melanocyte include hormones, inflammation (such as acne) and external environmental conditions (ultraviolet light that causes the production of free radicals).
One simple way to reduce melanin production is to use broad-spectrum sunscreens with zinc oxide, titanium dioxide or iron oxide. These substances help block UVA and UVB light, thus impeding the stimulation of melanocytes.
Pigmentary disordersfrom melanin
Common hyperpigmentation disorders that involve the darkening of an area of skin due to increased melanin include melasma, lentigo, and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
Melasma is usually caused by chronic exposure to ultraviolet radiation or a spike in hormones due to pregnancy or the use of oral contraception. It can be found at the epidermis, dermal layer or mixed, depending on the location of the pigment.
A lentigo is a light or dark brown area of discoloration that can range from 1mm to 1cm across, and is caused by an increased number of melanocytes. Its outline is usually discrete, but can also be irregular. Simple lentigines arise mostly during childhood on areas not exposed to the sun. Solar (or senile) lentigines are found on the backs of hands or on the face, most commonly after middle age.
Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) is the skin’s response to inflammatory skin disorders. Common causes are acne and atopic dermatitis. PIH is caused by the overproduction of melanin caused by skin inflammation.
Treating hyperpigmentation from melanin
Hydroquinone: For 50 years, hydroquinone has been the gold standard treatment for hyperpigmentation. This compound inhibits tyrosinase activity, thus limiting the amount of melanin to be produced. It also alters melanosome formation, possibly degrading melanocytes.
However, prolonged use of topical hydroquinone has shown to have side effects such as ochronosis and permanent depigmentation. Ochronosis is a disorder with blue-black discoloration. As such, hydroquinone is banned in cosmetic formulations and only available through a prescription that should be carefully managed by an accredited dermatologist.
Retinoids are forms of vitamin A that can treat acne, photodamage and PIH. They have various pathways that lead to skin lightening effects, such as accelerating epidermal turnover, reducing pigment transfer and slowing the production of tyrosinase.
With common side effects being erythema, skin irritation, dryness and scaling, it is recommended to use a retinoid only under the supervision of an accredited dermatologist. Corticosteroids (steroid hormones) have anti-inflammatory abilities and are often prescribed along with retinoids to prevent excess irritation.
Arbutin is a botanically derived compound found in cranberries, blueberries, wheat and pears. Though arbutin is a derivative of hydroquinoine, it has shown to be a more controlled way of inhibiting the synthesis of melanin as it does not permanently destroy melanocytes.
Kojic acid is a naturally occurring fungal substance. Its skin-lightening ability works by inhibiting the activity of tyrosinase. However, frequent use can cause side effects of contact dermatitis or erythema (redness of the skin).
Azelaic acid is known to be effective for treating PIH and acne. Azelaic acid depigments the skin in several ways. It can inhibit tyrosinase or reduce levels of abnormal melanocytes. This means that azelaic acid does not influence normal skin pigmentation but only acts on the proliferation of unwanted melanocyte activity. Side effects are mild and only last for a short period of time. Irritation, burning sensation or mild erythema may emerge, taking 2 to 4 weeks to subside.
Niacinamide is a derivative of vitamin B3. It works by decreasing the transfer of melanosome to keratinocytes. Niacinamide is a stable ingredient as it is unaffected by light, moisture or acids. This ingredient is often incorporated into cosmeceuticals due to its safety profile.
Vitamin C or L-ascorbic acid is a naturally occurring antioxidant that helps with skin lightening. It prevents tyrosinase from converting tyrosine to melanin. Vitamin C is also favored for its anti-inflammatory and photoprotective properties. However, L-ascorbic acid is highly unstable and rapidly oxidized. It is not used in the treatment of PIH.
Stable forms of vitamin C include magnesium ascorbyl phosphate or sodium ascorbyl phosphate. For safe and effective results, consider a dermatologist-formulated serum VITA C GOLD™ Serum,a formulation tested for bio-activity in a laboratory.
As seen above, there are various treatment options to treat common hyperpigmentation disorders. Recognizing the underlying cause for pigmentation is critical for proper treatment and choosing the best-suited therapy. Visit an accredited dermatologist for effective and safe treatments catered to your condition.
Suffering from acne? Also known asacne vulgaris, patients who suffer from this inflammatory disease typically develop it in adolescence.
Does my diet cause the acne?
The answer is not straightforward, because acne itself is multifactorial in origin, with genetics, inflammation, hormone related oil production in a complex interplay. However, a quick answer would be yes, diet does appear increasingly to influence the severity of acne and treatment outcome to a certain extent.
Acne vulgaris is often touted to be the epidemic disease of civilization, typically in first-world countries. Caused by an unhealthy diet fueled by modernization, it affects the sebaceous follicles of adolescents and adults. Today, a typical diet is characterized by high glycemic index foods, insulinotropic milk proteins and saturated fats.
Does a Western diet trigger acne?
To convince you, populations that are exposed to diets with low glycemic load and no milk/dairy consumption are acne-free, such as the Inuit, Ache hunters of Paraguay, rural areas of Brazil. Prevalence of acne increased as Okinawa islanders and the Chinese switch from traditional diets to Westernized food.
How do hyperglycemic carbohydrates cause acne?
High glycemic index foods are those that are extremely high in glucose. The glycemic index works by measuring the impact that your food has on your blood sugar level. High glycemic index foods cause your blood sugar to rise faster.
Eating lots of food like white bread and cereal can also cause the elevation of hormones, leading to increased sebum production. The high glycemic load changes the composition of sebum fatty acids, causing proinflammatory and comedogenic responses. A diet-induced change in sebum composition can trigger acne inflammation and drive the process of comedogenesis, also known as the formation of blackheads.
Can saturated fats lead to my acne problems?
The major culprit is a saturated fatty acid called palmitate, and it consists of 32% milk triglycerides. Palmitate triggers the abnormal proliferation of keratinocytes, a cell that produces keratin, resulting in micro-comedones. The continuous sebum accumulation, enlargement of follicle and build-up of keratin within the micro-comedones causes the formation of comedones.
Trans-fats, produced industrially that structurally resemble palmitate, are in the fast food that we eat. With the replacement of natural solid fats and liquid oils with hydrogenated fats in fast food, fried food and baked goods, it has led to unhealthy diets that contribute to acne. Such a diet contributes to inflammatory responses of our sebaceous glands and hair follicles.
Does milk cause acne too?
The link between milk consumption and acne is not a breakthrough, adolescent acne is closely associated with their diets being rich in milk, cheese, yogurt, cakes and low in fish, fruits and vegetables. Milk contributes to increased insulin levels which prevent that production of an important protein FoxO1. The deficiency of this protein has been linked to major factors of development of acne.
Milk intake can also influence comedogenesis as it contains androgens, a type of hormone, steroids and other components that can affect the sebaceous gland and hair follicle. Such molecules survive processing, and for instance, in cheese, fermentation leads to more testosterone being produced from the precursors in milk.
Milk facilitates the pathway of sebaceous lipogenesis and sebocyte proliferation. Excessive intake of milk protein also explains the onset and aggravation of acne.
How can I adjust my diet to be less acne-prone?
You may opt for a palaeolithic diet – no hyperglycemic carbohydrates, no milk and dairy products. Fish consumption has shown to have anti-acne effect, as the fatty acids from the fish can reduce inflammation.
Resveratrol, a compound found in the skin of grapes, has shown to inhibit the growth ofP.acnes, a bacteria that facilitates ace development in optimal environments.
Though multifaceted, dietary factors can worsen breakouts in acne-prone individuals. For a clearer skin, a good tipis to bear in mind what you consume, have a healthy balanced diet and lifestyle. However, if you have a persistent flare of acne for anything more than several months, medicated treatments such as oral antibiotics and topical retinoids may be necessary. So do visit a dermatologistearly to prevent complications such as secondary skin infections i.e. gram-negative folliculitis, orsevere acne scarring.
Acne vulgaris is an epidermis inflammatory disease of the human sebaceous follicle and is a common dermatologic condition. Typically beginning in adolescence, it may persist into adulthood when left untreated.
How is acne developed?
The development of acne is not fully clarified, but it is agreed upon that the causes are multifactorial. A major cause of acne is related to a bacterium called Proprionibacterium acnes (P. acnes).
As a bacterium that grows deep inside of pores, P. acnes feeds on the sebum produced by sebaceous glands surrounding the base of the hair shaft. P. acnes grows best in an environment with accumulated sebum. P. acnes uses sebum as an energy source, causing the breakdown of sebum by the bacterium to produce byproducts that are inflammatory.
According to Dr.Teo Wan Lin, a dermatologist at TWL Specialist Skin and Laser Centre, she says: “To combat this inflammation, your body releases destructive enzymes to fight the infection. This immune response can cause damage to surrounding skin cells and is responsible for symptoms observed in acne as it permanently damages the skin and leads to acne scars.”
What are the causes that trigger acne?
One major cause is our genetic predisposition. Other factors that aggravate acne include:
Oil-based cosmetics and facial massage
Medicates that promote acne development e.g. steroids, lithium and iodides
Food with a high glycemic number e.g. dairy products, candy
Severe anxiety or anger may aggravate acne as it can stimulate stress hormones
Where does acne occur?
Acne occurs most prominently at skin sites with high density of sebaceous glands e.g. the face, back and chest.
Are there different types of acne?
Generally, acne can be divided into comedones, cystic acne. Comedones are hair follicles that are formed by the blockage of pores with sebum, debris and dirt, causing the pore to become infected.
Open comedones are blackheads, caused by an overproduction and buildup of oil that is oxidized, thus explaining its blackish appearance. Closed comedones are whiteheads, where the follicle is blocked completely. As the opening to the skin is obstructed, the rupturing of closed comedones can lead to skin inflammation.
Cystic acne is angry, red bumps filled with bacteria and pus. Caused by inflammation, it can start off as comedones that were left untreated, leading to an excessive growth of P. acne.
How can I treat acne?
Current treatments include topical formulations in the forms of creams, gels, lotions such as antibiotics, antibacterial agents and retinoids. Yet, patients need to be cautious of such treatments as it can lead to dryness, peeling or erythema. Different forms of acne would require alternative treatment techniques.
To treat open comedones, a mixture of carbon laser peels and chemical peels can be considered. For closed comedones, be sure not to pick those whiteheads as it exposes the skin to bacteria.
If you suffer from cystic acne, oral medication is likely to be given to shrink oil glands or prescription creams that contain tretinoin.
The use of lasers to treat acne is also increasingly popular due to minimal complications involved to allow benefits of treating acne scarring. The lasers will target the colonization of P. acne and high levels of sebum production on the face, chest and back.
If you may find it confusing to face acne alone, talk to a dermatologist. It is also important to visit your dermatologist before the acne gets severe and prevent scarring.