Agonising over an acne eruption of volcanic proportions? Have I got news for you – your moisturiser may be to blame for your blemishes. 

Just take it from makeup master Larry Yeo, who says that smothering on layers of lotion in Singapore’s stifling heat can wreak serious havoc on our skin: “I find that ladies tend to over-moisturise in our humid weather and neglect the more important process of exfoliation.”

Indeed, given the clammy clime of sweltering Singapore, exfoliation really is of the essence, so to speak. Here’s Larry again with the whys and wherefores: “Instead of piling on the moisturiser, what you should be scrupulous about is treating yourself to regular scrubs, which helps to prevent patchiness, blackheads and breakouts.”

Now, I know what you’re thinking: If you’re already painfully pimple-prone, you should shun all face scrubs like the plague – why aggravate your sensitive skin further, right? Wrong. While aggressively abrasive scrubs should probably be avoided, exfoliation really is for everyone. In fact, if you have reactive skin, gently lifting off debris and dead cells can actually help to purge your pores of gunk and grease. How about that. 

Ideally, you should gun for a scrub that comes with acne-alleviating superheroes like salicylic acid, which should get to action straight away to decongest pores and nuke angry red monsters virtually instantly.


But back to the potential perils of moisturising. Just take it from Los Angeles-based celebrity dermatologist Dr Zein Obagi, who makes the rather radical assertion that “moisturisers have no long-term effects.” Happily, his opinion squares nicely with mine – great minds think alike? – and with good reason, too. 

You see, if you have dry skin, using a concentrated cream may actually “trick” your sebaceous glands into cutting back on oil production – and that’s not necessarily a good thing. “When applied on skin, the body gets a signal that there is sufficient moisture and will not deliver more, which will make your skin drier,” warns Dr Obagi. Only caveat? Here’s Dr Obagi again: “If your skin is very dry, you can use a moisturiser on top of skincare products that work to strengthen and stimulate.” 

The proof is in the palpation: If your face feels uncomfortably taut to the touch after cleansing, your skin is deeply dehydrated and in dire need of some dampening. Lube up with a comforting cream, stat. 

Got combination skin that’s slick with sebum in certain areas? You may want to consider combatting your condition by multi-moisturising with a thicker textured night cream on your cheeks and a lighter emulsion elsewhere. Or do as Larry does and “spot moisturise”, for want of a better phrase: “My recommendation is to selectively apply moisturiser on drier areas to lock in the hydration afforded by your serums.”

Top takeaway: Moisturisers are not mandatory; you may find yourself only needing to spot-apply sparingly on particularly parched zones of your face. Easy enough, right? This pro trick has worked wonders in weeding out my lumps and bumps; with any luck, it should also get you out of a spot of bother. You know the drill: Spill the #deets if you have similar secrets to share, and cheers to superb skin for all!