Adult acne is on the rise. According to the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, more than 50 per cent of women above 25 years old have some facial acne. The big reason is chronic stress. Never-ceasing stress increases hormone levels, leading to an increase in oil production, which can lead to acne.

To tackle and prevent adult acne, you should get sufficient sleep, eat less refined sugar and hydrate well daily. Also important: Keep your skin clean and exfoliate your face. Never go to bed with makeup on.

You can try Prive Skinworks Cleansing Milk. It cleanses gently without harming the epidermis or the skin’s natural pH balance. It also has brightening effects.

Prive Skinworks Cleansing Milk, $73.80 for 150ml.

Readers’ questions

Q: I had very bad acne as a teenager, which resulted in pockmarks on my skin. These still bother me. How can I remedy this? – CY Soh

A: Before you embark on treatment, get a doctor to evaluate your skin first. Pockmarks due to acne are atrophic acne scars. There are different types of acne scars: ice-pick (deep, narrow, pitted scars); boxcar (broad depressions with sharply defined edges); and rolling (broad depressions with a rolling edge). These three types are indented, but there’s a fourth kind of acne scar, which is raised: a hypertrophic or keloid scar.

Ice-pick and boxcar scars respond well to TCA Cross chemical peels and subcision (inserting a needle under the scar to break up the tissue beneath). Rolling scars can be treated with resurfacing lasers such as the fractional carbon dioxide (CO2) or erbium ablative lasers. Keloids respond to intralesional steroid injections and ablative lasers.

You can complement these with Rejuran Healer ($1,078), a new skin-healing treatment. It works by reactivating the skin’s ability to heal, so it can restore its collagen structure. Rejuran Healer consists of polynucleotides with anti-inflammatory and tissue repair-stimulating agents, and DNA polymers for long-lasting skin healing and collagen stimulation.

Different types of lasers can be employed to treat different types of acne scarring. Photo:




Q: How do I treat pigmentation caused by acne? – Wong Su Lin

A: Acne marks or pigmentation are red or brown, and occur in the area where the acne has healed. The marks appear because of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) and post-inflammatory erythema (PIE). PIH is due to an increase in melanin in the affected area. PIE is a result of trauma or inflamed acne. Treatments for both are very different, so you should first get assessed by a doctor.

Skin brighteners such as retinol, vitamin C, kojic acid and liquorice can help. A topical vitamin C serum like ZO Obagi C-Bright Serum can help build collagen, brighten and smooth skin, and promote healing of the skin. It provides a potent dose of pure stabilised vitamin C, which prevents new melanin from forming while minimising the look of lines and wrinkles.

Chemical peels using glycolic and salicylic acids can fade spots by smoothing skin and exfoliating dead cells. Laser treatments such as Q-switched laser and pico laser are also proven to diminish acne pigmentation. To speed up healing, don’t forget sunscreen as UVA and UVB rays can darken acne marks and scars.

ZO Obagi C-Bright Serum, $160 for 50ml.



Q: I have pigmentation as a result of acne scarring, as well as redness from ongoing acne. I would like to minimise both. – Alicia Sim

A: It’s frustrating dealing with acne marks on top of ongoing acne. Before you decide on any treatment, get your skin evaluated by a doctor.

Skin brightening ingredients don’t work well on pink or red acne marks. The marks can be lightened significantly with a pulsed-dye laser, which targets haemoglobin, a red pigment. You’ll need at least three treatments for the marks to go away
completely, although they can lighten significantly after one treatment.

Acne marks due to PIH usually need three to 12 months to disappear. The Q-switched laser or Pico laser ($258) can help speed up the process. The Pico laser emits light pulses in picoseconds, which makes for a faster, more effective treatment. It can also treat wrinkles, large pores, uneven skin tone, irregular skin texture and acne scars. I always advise my patients to prioritise their treatments – their No. 1 concern should be to resolve ongoing acne, as any new breakouts may lead to redness as well as acne marks.


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This story was originally published in the August 2018 issue of Her World magazine.