Searching for the best acne skincare in Singapore? The humid Singapore weather can worsen acne flare ups because it promotes bacterial growth. This worsens secondary skin infections. What role does bacteria play in acne? Can dermatologist recommended acne skincare help? How does skincare help treat acne?
This article is written in collaboration with board certified Singapore dermatologist and founder Dr. Teo Wan Lin, including her tips on best acne skincare practices.
Acne skincare should have antibacterial properties
An increasingly important area of research is the acne microbiome. The microbiome is the balance of good and bad bacteria on the surface of healthy skin. Skin is not meant to be sterile, but can develop problems if unhealthy bacteria start to grow.
In fact, acne is the result of Propionebacterium acnes. This bacteria overgrows in the oily skin of acne prone individuals. P. Acnes is present on the skin of people without acne. However, in acne prone individuals it is present in high numbers and cause skin infections and inflammation.
The best acne skincare respects the microbiome
The basic requirement of the best acne skincare regimen is an antibacterial cleanser. Antibacterial cleansers should not be disinfecting your skin. That’s a myth. Disinfection means killing all bacteria including good bacteria. The good bacteria helps to prevent bad bacteria from taking over the microbiome. In fact, long term broad spectrum antibiotics (which are not suitable for treating acne) kill all the good bacteria so you can develop nasty skin infections. Such infections are what we know as gram negative folliculitis.
The pharmacy stocks the best selling honey cleanser. Honey helps to balance out the microbiome without drying out the skin. In addition, medical grade honey has antibacterial anti-fungal and antiviral properties that inhibit bad microbes which cause skin infections. Unlike chemical disinfectant ingredients used in acne cleansers, it does not cause dryness. In fact it has hydrating properties. It is what we call a humectant. The humectant leaves a moisturising layer which traps moisture under the skin’s surface.
Chemical antibacterial agents used in acne cleansers
Traditionally, dermatologists recommend triclosan-based acne facial washes. Triclosan has raised some concern because of potential endocrine disrupting effects. Truth is, the long term effect of many of these ingredients cannot be fully known. This is why dermatologists have moved away from prescribing triclosan based acne facial washes.
Is the best acne cleanser one that contains acids?
Many beauty experts recommend acne cleansers with added AHAs, salicylic acids.
These may be alright for individuals with oily skin types living in a tropical climate like Singapore. However, for those with slightly dry, combination skin, this may not be the best acne skincare regimen. Over time, glycolic acids and salicylic acids can sensitise skin. This is less of a problem in Caucasian skin and temperate climates. In Singapore on the other hand, pigmented skin types, namely skin of colour, experience different reactions.
As Singapore is right at the equator, the sun’s ultraviolet rays are the most intense. This means that there is a higher risk of photo sensitivity from these acids. Consequently, you should discuss with your dermatologist on the best acne skincare regimen that may not contain AHAs or BHAs that can sensitise your skin. Another word of caution. Asian skin types are more prone to a side effect of AHAs and BHAs known as post inflammatory hyperpigmentation, PIH for short.
Causes of post inflammatory hyperpigmentation:
- Irritant contact dermatitis from AHAs (glycolic acid) lactic acid and salicylic acid. Contact dermatitis causes redness, flaking and itching.
- Exposure to UV radiation in the sun’s rays that causes skin to darken
Looking for the best acne skincare in Singapore? You may already be looking down the ingredient list. Here are our top tips on how to understand active ingredients in acne skincare.
Pros and Cons of active ingredients for pimple creams
Benzoyl peroxide is an antibacterial ingredient. As its name suggests, peroxide means it also bleaches fabrics. This is problematic with face masks and pillowcases. If you notice your fabric being bleached, check for benzoyl peroxide in the ingredient list. Dermatologists traditionally prescribe it in concentrations of 5%, 10% up to even 40%. However, at higher concentrations, it can be very irritating to skin. As a result, it can cause severe redness, flaking and peeling. If you suffer from both oily and dehydrated sensitive skin, this may be the cause. Look at the ingredient list of your acne cream. For those with acne and sensitive skin, it may be advisable to choose alternative pimple creams.
Benzoyl peroxide combined with retinoid formula
Epiduo for acne? Epiduo is a prescription cream available via dermatologists. Dermatologists consider this as one of the newer generation retinoid formulas. However, many experience irritant contact dermatitis with this formula.
Clindamycin gel for pimples
Clindamycin is a broad spectrum antibiotic. Many who use it find immediate effective results for their pimples. However, this applies only for the early stages of use. Quickly, the skin bacteria adapts and becomes resistant. This is the reason why clindamycin stops working.
Clindamycin gel combined with benzoyl peroxide formula
This clindamycin gel formulation for acne includes benzoyl peroxide, which we commonly know by its trade name clindoxyl. It helps to reduce skin bacterial resistance to antibiotics. However, the benzoyl peroxide component can irritate sensitive skin.
Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is possibly one of the best known herbal remedies for acne. Does it work? To a certain extent, there are studies which show its inhibitory effect on acne bacteria. However it belongs to a category of plant essential oils that have a caustic effect on skin. This means it can cause a burning sensation, a sign of irritant contact dermatitis. It has been phased out of dermatologist recommended pimple creams for this reason.
Learn about our pharmacy’s work on plant essential oils suitable for sensitive skin.
Salicylic acid is a Beta hydroxy acid, BHA for short. It can penetrate deeper into the dermis and regulate oil production. It can also exfoliate the skin cells. Salicylic acid tends to be milder than AHAs for chemical peels. However, some individuals who have more sensitive skin may find that leave on salicylic acid in pimple creams can cause burning and stinging. The issue with pimples is that it is a misconception to think it can be dried out. When you dehydrate a pimple, the skin barrier breaks down, this causes more redness, swelling due to inflammation. Rather, the best pimple cream has anti inflammatory properties to reduce acne inflammation.
Sulfur is present in traditional acne creams available in pharmacies. The sulfur component inhibits bacterial growth. However it is pungent and unpleasant to use. It is also drying on skin. Overall, it has been phasing out as an effective pimple cream to use. Some cosmetic beauty brands still include it in their pimple creams. If you have sensitive skin, you may wish to avoid this in your acne skincare.
We know calamine lotion to reduce itch and heat rash. However is calamine lotion effective for acne skincare? No, unfortunately. There is no evidence other than its drying effect on skin. Besides, we know it is not wise to dry out a pimple. This leads to a vicious cycle of oily and dehydrated skin.
Retinols are the less active form of retinoids. Retinoids are prescription only vitamin A derivatives available from dermatologists for acne. Retinoids are most effective for comedonal acne. For example, Blackheads and whiteheads are some forms of comedonal acne. Retinols are present in over the counter acne skincare. They are also incorporated in anti-aging skincare. Retinols encourage turnover of skin cells – keratinocytes. In acne, dead skin cells build up around the pores, the follicles. These cause follicular plugging. As a result, they also drive inflammation and secondary bacterial infections. However, retinols in acne skincare are unlikely to be as effective as retinoids. It is also fully capable of causing irritation as it is a peeling agent.
Best pimple cream formulation recommended for sensitive skin users
Our skincare pharmacy formulates acne skincare based on selected botanical actives. Many synthetic drugs are copies of what exists naturally in plants. This is how they were discovered. The term bioactivity measures the ability of the extract to regulate cell processes. Researchers conduct studies in laboratories with skin cells to see how they interact.
Berberine is our best recommendation of acne pimple cream formulation. Berberine has traditional usage in Traditional Chinese Medicine for acne treatment. It has antioxidant anti inflammatory and antibacterial properties that target the root cause of acne. Berberine in our acne mask formulation is effectively absorbable with a polysaccharide material.
Acne Spot Treatment Cream
Our top selling acne skincare in Singapore is the blemish spot cream. This cream contains chlorella vulgaris. Chlorella is an active algae extract that inhibits oil gland activity. In addition, this best seller pimple cream from our pharmacy is cost effective. It also has additional anti inflammatory plant ingredients to reduce redness and swelling quickly.
Unlike other pimple creams, the blemish spot cream has a formulation suitable for even sensitive skin and eczema. The best acne skincare must cater to individuals with sensitive skin as well. It is a myth that acne only occurs in those with oily skin. It can also affect those with sensitive skin. When acne coexists with other dermatological conditions like rosacea, or eczema, one must take care to not use drying pimple creams. The blemish spot cream is formulated to be used over the entire acne prone area, liberally for prevention. It can also be used multiple times a day over the acne bump to aid faster recovery.
Hydrocolloid patches for the quickest best acne pimple recovery
Many underestimate the healing ability of hydrocolloid patches. Hydrocolloid is a well researched material used in wound healing as it provides the best environment for your skin to heal. However, many pimple patches are impregnated with additional active ingredients like salicylic acid or tea tree oil. This is not recommended for inflamed acne as it actually increases the irritation potential of the ingredient. At our skincare pharmacy, we use only pure medical grade hydrocolloid manufactured by our biomedical engineering division. This is the hydrocolloid that is in use at hospitals for wound dressings.
Best acne skincare in Singapore: don’t forget your serums
Many neglect applying serums. Is a moisturiser enough? Serums are high concentrate forms of active ingredients. Antioxidants are especially helpful in those battling acne scars. They can also help to reduce post inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
An ideal dermatologist recommended acne skincare regimen
- Antibacterial acne cleanser that is gentle on sensitive skin
- Effective serums to lighten scars and prevent post inflammatory hyperpigmentation
- Non irritating pimple creams that reduce inflammation quickly to prevent scars and cysts
- A lightweight daytime moisturiser that helps keep skin moisturised. This is important to prevent reactive seborrhea. If the skin feels dehydrated, it produces even more oil to compensate.
- Sunscreen is important in acne prone individuals as part of treatment. Especially if one is on prescription acne creams by a dermatologist. Retinoids such as tretinoin and adapalene (differin) can cause irritant contact dermatitis on its own. This is true even in someone who has used it without problems before. In addition, UV exposure worsens this contact dermatitis. These are vitamin A derivatives traditionally prescribed by dermatologists to reduce comedones. Comedones are whiteheads and blackheads which are part of acne. Using the retinoid only at night helps minimise the risk of developing retinoid dermatitis. Also use a broad spectrum SPF50+ sunscreen to shield from both UVA and UVB rays
Additional dermatologist tips for acne
- Special note on maskne: wearing a face mask is the norm post COVID-19. This creates an occlusive environment. As a result, existing acne worsens. It can also cause acne in others who never had acne before. Using retinoids for maskne is a bad idea. It can increase the risk of contact dermatitis.
- The best makeup concealer for acne pimples is one that can effectively cover and treat the pimple at the same time. Color correction is the main way recommended by our pharmacy. This uses less concealer which can increase bacterial growth in humid climates. Instead, use green to cancel out the redness of pimples.
Acne Skincare Pharmacy
Suffering from acne and looking for the best acne skincare suitable for Singapore’s climate? Our skincare pharmacy specialises in cosmeceutical skincare that can be used as adjuncts in treatment of moderate to severe acne. For mild acne, we can recommend the best acne care regimen suited for your needs. The complete acne discovery kit is available at our pharmacy at a trial rate of $50.
If you would like try our customised prescriptives range for acne, book an appointment with our physician assistant who is well versed to recommend a suitable regimen for you.