You hear about this highly raved beauty product, the one that promises to zap all of your zits and make your skin glow. However, once you get your hands on it, nothing happens. Worse still, your skin condition seems to be progressively deteriorating. So, is it you or is it the product that you’re using? Here are nine signs to help you decide if it’s time to call it quits with your skincare.
We love having some fun in the sun, however if you’re spending too much time on your daybed tanning, you might start to notice brown spots on your skin. Commonly caused by long sun exposure, these brown spots might be a sign that you rethink your sunscreen formula. Essentially, this is because it might not be giving you broad-spectrum protection. Your best bet? Choose a sunscreen with a SPF 30 or above, formulated with zinc oxide or titanium oxide for the best coverage.
While you might have heard of the saying “beauty is pain”, if you are experiencing pain along with signs of inflammation like redness or stinging – discontinue the use of the product immediately. While there are ingredients (commonly found in acne treatment) like benzoyl peroxide that can cause a slight irritation, redness or a burning sensation that lasts more than a few days is an indication that you should toss the product. Still not certain if the product is irritating your skin? Try diluting it with a moisturiser. If you continue to experience irritation and discomfort, it’s time to bite the bullet and get rid of the skincare product.
Have you ever experienced applying a product on your skin, only to find little balls or flakes rubbing off your skin? When this happens, it doesn’t necessarily mean that there is something wrong with you skincare, it could just mean there is an incompatibility with the formula or with your routine (how you layer your products). When shopping for skincare, keep a look out for ingredients like emulsifiers, which can cause little balls to form when you rub the product against your skin.
You might experience a breakout when you start on a new skincare product because your skin takes time (two to three weeks) to adapt to a new product. That being said, if you are experiencing more than just one or two zits at a time and they don’t seem to be clearing up, this product is probably not right for you. Try getting skincare products that contain ingredients that are non-comedogenic or have a lighter water-based formula.
Dr Vanessa Phua, a general practitioner and partner at David Loh Surgery, attributes it to a delayed sensitivity reaction to the ingredients, or a sign the product is too rich in emollients or high in mineral oil content, thereby congesting pores and causing comedones. “Stop using the product and apply a kaolin- or charcoal-based cleansing mask to clear the skin. And when it has settled down, try using an AHA- or BHA-based product to reduce congestion,” she advises.
Dr Chan adds: “While this can happen with any ingredient, some patients have reported that yeast extracts or derivatives tend to trigger such reactions. If you have this symptom, make it a point to look for other active ingredients in your next product.”
Ingredients like AHA and benzoyl peroxide that are commonly found in acne treatments can trigger a chemical-induced change in the skin which makes it more sensitive to the sun. If the sensitivity is intolerable, ditch the product or use it only if you’re planning on staying indoors or at night.
When we pick up a new product, it’s hard not to be impatient. However, it’s also important to give it time. After all, miracles don’t happen overnight. But just how much time does it take to see results? Well, it depends on the type of product and area of concern it is targeting. Spot treatments take about ten days to bust a pimple while anti-aging wrinkle and dark spot fighter might take up to a month to work its magic. With moisturisers and hydrating masks, you should see effect almost immediately. If you are using an exfoliating product like a chemical exfoliator, give it around a week or two to take effect.
This is probably one of the most common problems that pop up when you switch products. According to Dr Calvin Chan, medical director of Calvin Chan Aesthetic & Laser Clinic, skin often needs two to three weeks to adapt to the new product, giving rise to minor breakouts that clear up after the adjustment period. “However, if the breakouts are moderate to severe, meaning you get more than just one or two pimples at a time, then the product is probably not for you. Switch to a different product and look out for ingredients that are non-comedogenic or have lighter oil-in-water formulations,” he says.
Dry: If you’re experiencing dry patches or flakiness, the product that you’re using could be made with drying agents such as alcohol or you could be allergic to a certain ingredient.
Oily: Oil control products that are too strong can actually strip away the skin’s natural oils and in turn cause it to produce even more oil.
Overly harsh or intensive products – such as those based on ingredients like retinol or alpha-hydroxy acids – can result in dehydration, fine lines or even cracking and flaking.
However, Dr Chan says you shouldn’t write them off altogether, as these active ingredients do have proven benefits.
“I usually advise patients to use them once a week first, working up to every three days and then alternate days before using them daily. Depending on the severity of the reaction and your level of tolerance, you can also ‘buffer’ your skin’s reaction by applying a neutral moisturiser beforehand,” he says.
Dr Phua explains further: “Different people react to skin formulas differently. A bit of skin exfoliation is ideal but if the skin is peeling and dry, it loses its natural barrier and can be vulnerable to bacterial infections.” Her advice is to stop the product till the skin heals completely, using emollients or even a prescription antibiotic ointment to soothe and treat it in the meantime.