Keep skin clean, don't over-moisturise

The air is thick and dirty, so what exactly will it do to your skin?

Dermatologist Chan Yuin Chew at Dermatology Associates at the Gleneagles Medical Centre, says there is nothing to worry about if you have healthy skin. "For most people, short-term exposure to the haze should not cause any major skin problems."

However, he adds that for those with intolerant skin or existing skin conditions such as eczema, haze particles may trigger skin irritation that results in dry, itchy and red rashes.


Senior consultant dermatologist and clinical associate professor Mark Tang at the National Skin Centre says some of his patients with eczema have reported a worsening in their skin condition, especially on exposed areas such as the face, neck and forearms.

The best thing to do, then, is to see a dermatologist to get a proper assessment and anti-inflammatory medication.

Dr Tang says microscopic pollutants can enter one's skin, causing skin damage through the generation of free radicals and triggering skin inflammation, especially in those with sensitive skin.

So besides staying indoors and reducing one's exposure to the haze, be sure to keep skin clean. Those who have to spend time outdoors may need to wash their skin more regularly than usual, but there is no need to be obsessive about it or use harsh cleansers.

Dr Chan says over-washing the skin may aggravate skin irritation and recommends using a gentle cleanser.

Dr Tang says when one wears tight-fitting masks for too long - to the point where your skin feels uncomfortable - "it can sometimes lead to skin problems such as contact irritation. Again, staying indoors will help prevent this from happening.

Reusing dirty masks may also lead to acne. So use common sense and change the mask once it feels grubby.

Dr Chan says there is no need to moisturise the skin more than usual unless it feels especially dry or if eczema flares up. Over-moisturising can lead to acne and clogged pores.

Chemically treated hair is more porous and in such hazy weather, one may find that it smells like a burning forest after one has been outdoors, says Ms Violet Sainsbury, creative design team educator and master hairstylist at haircare brand Moroccanoil.

There is nothing much one can do about that, except to wash the hair once a day (there is no need to rinse the locks more often than that).

And instead of using a deep- cleansing shampoo once a fortnight, use it once a week.

To protect hair from pollution and humidity which can lead to frizziness, use leave-in haircare products before stepping out of the house.

Apply a hair treatment on towel- dried hair, blow dry your tresses and spritz on a lightweight anti-frizz serum.



Innisfree Jeju Volcanic Pore Clay Mask, $20, from Innisfree stores

Made with skin-purifying volcanic clay from South Korea's Jeju Island that draws out excess sebum and impurities.


Shiseido Future Solution LX Universal Defense SPF50+ PA++++, $112, from Shiseido counters

This moisturising and anti-ageing sunscreen claims to protect skin from air pollutants and skin-damaging UV rays.


Kiehl's Oil Eliminator Deep Cleansing Exfoliating Face Wash for Men, $38, from Kiehl's counters

Gets rid of excess sebum and impurities from air pollution in the pores. Also contains exfoliating crushed apricot seeds.


The Skin Pharmacy Organic Rose Otto Floral Water, $26.90, from The Skin Pharmacy stores

Spritz this soothing and hydrating rose water to refresh skin before touching up make-up.


Elizabeth Arden Superstart Skin Renewal Booster, $95, from Elizabeth Arden counters

An anti-ageing serum that moisturises and claims to boost skin's natural defenses from air pollution.



Moroccanoil Smoothing Lotion, $62, from selected salons

Beat the humidity and frizz with this. Apply onto towel-dried hair before a blow-dry for long-lasting smoothness and shine.


Aveda Invati Exfoliating Shampoo, $48, from Aveda stores and selected salons

Get rid of the smell of the haze with this deep-cleansing and nourishing shampoo.


Living Proof Perfect Hair Day 5-in-1 Styling Treatment, $36, from Sephora stores

This styling product coats hair to prevent dirt sticking onto it.


L'Oreal Paris Elseve Extraordinary Oil Mist, $26.90, from selected personal care stores

A lightweight oil spray to nourish hair and form a protective barrier against air pollution.


Angfa Scalp-D Beaute Shampoo, $65, from Tokyu Hands stores

A foamy, deep-cleansing shampoo that removes product build-up and surface dirt from the scalp.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 04, 2015, with the headline 'Keep skin clean, don't over-moisturise Beauty products'. Print Edition | Subscribe