SINGAPORE – Perhaps one of the most heartbreaking and frustrating things about having highly reactive skin – or what is loosely known as sensitive skin – is the sudden limitation of topical cosmetics options.
The first two retailers that would likely come to mind are Guardian and Watsons, and perhaps Unity – depending on the member card you own and the different promotions running. These drugstore chains offer a section of derma care skincare products for those with easily reactive skin, making shopping for sensitive skin products a bit easier.
What is sensitive skin?
Before we proceed, it’s vital to know that sensitive skin is a description and not a diagnosis. Having sensitive skin is not the same as having oily skin. No matter your skin type, your skin can react to something, and that may or may not indicate sensitive skin issues. For instance, if you stay out under the hot sun, your skin will naturally react (because you are alive), and get hot, itchy and/or red. However, when your skin does react negatively, it is likely an indication of underlying conditions such as eczema, psoriasis and rosacea, and/or caused by medications, and/or by allergic reactions to fabric, food and/or chemical ingredients in cosmetics and detergents. Symptoms of skin sensitivity include redness, itchiness, hot flushes, scaly patches, blisters, burning sensations and swelling.
Shopping for sensitive skin
If you used to buy from a particular beauty brand, you might go back to them to see if they have a skincare line for sensitised skin. If you have the time, you might read up about ingredients to avoid, or other products that have been tried and trusted for sensitised skin. Now, that’s easier said than done. With the confusion of navigating through beauty labels, ingredient lists, and beauty claims, it’s tricky to nail down the products that work. Also, you would never be quite sure what sets off the itch and/or redness that you get, and you don’t want to buy an expensive skincare product, only to find out that it doesn’t work for your skin.
Sensitive skin hero for Asians: Peau Peau Beauty
Enter Peau Peau Beauty, a Singapore-based online beauty retailer, dedicated to helping you choose beauty products for sensitive Asian skin. Launched in May this year, the e-retailer’s founder Cheryl Yong wants to simplify the process of shopping for sensitive skin and to also introduce the concept of clean beauty to the Asian customer. On Peau Peau Beauty, you’d find five skincare brands that do not contain potentially harmful toxins and aggressive irritants sulfates (SLS/SLES), mineral oil, artificial colouring, synthetic fragrance, hydroquinone, triclosan, formaldehyde, and phthalates.
The ex-PR manager for Naiise is all too familiar with the frustrations of finding safe and effective beauty products for sensitive skin – she has battled with skin issues like acne, mild eczema and rosacea for many years. On top of that, she had come across many experiencing similar sensitive skin issues, and have no idea where to start when it came to switching up their skincare routine. We speak to Cheryl to learn her vision for Peau Peau Beauty and how it can help sensitive skin sufferers.
With cosmetics made for sensitive skin already available in the pharmacies, why made you decide to set up Peau Peau Beauty?
“Despite the availability of products in the market catered for sensitive skin, there is still a general lack of concise information and educational content by these retailers about their products benefit the skin. There are also many ambiguous marketing claims like ‘natural’, ‘organic’, ‘non-comedogenic’, and ‘hypoallergenic,’ which can be misleading and unhelpful. Going to these physical stores to shop for sensitive skin issues can be a bit of a guessing game! Similarly, for online, despite the presence of other e-commerce retailers, information about products is sometimes unavailable. For instance, there might not be an ingredient list.”
It is stated that Peau Peau Beauty carries cosmetics safe for sensitive Asian skin. What is the difference between sensitive Asian skin and sensitive non-Asian skin?
“While I believe that sensitive skin is inherently quite personal and subjective – one person’s allergies and issues may not be the same as another’s – I do think that some skin conditions are more prevalent in certain ethnicities. For example, melasma is more common amongst ethnic Chinese, Koreans and Japanese; and Caucasian skin does not retain moisture as well as Asian skin.
This affects the way brands formulate their products depending on the market they are entering. Some products might not be suitable for use in an Asian climate (for instance, rich formulas for dry skin in arid climates), or products from Asian brands could be more effective at brightening skincare.”
What is the one product that everyone should check out from each of the brands you carry?
23.5 °N Rice Soothing Active Gel Mask: This rice gel mask contains rice extract to relieve discomfort and intensely soothe dullness and redness from irritated skin. It provides a cooling sensation that feels refreshing and is non-sticky on the face. This can be used in two ways, as an intensive care treatment, or as a sleeping mask to reveal a brighter complexion.
Benton Aloe BHA Skin Toner: Great for prepping skin, this has more than 80% of soothing aloe ingredients, hydrating elements such as snail secretion filtrate, hyaluronic acid and beta-glucan, and 0.5% BHA (salicylic acid), which helps improve skin texture and gently clear your pores.
Ere Perez Translucent Corn Perfecting Powder: Reduce shine with this ultra-light translucent powder that naturally absorbs oil from the face. Made with corn and rice, it combats excess shine without the use of filler ingredients.
Purito Centella Green Level Safe Sun: Protect skin with this refreshing and lightweight cream sunscreen with over 70% of water and three active ingredients that leave skin semi-matte and feeling smooth. Centella extract helps soothe skin and assist skin elasticity, niacinamide gives a nice beneficial boost of brightening and clarifying, and hyaluronic acid delivers moisture into your skin.
Sioris Time Is Running Out Mist: A convenient and multi-tasking 3-in-1 toner, mist and serum, this watery type toner absorbs quickly and is highly moisturising, with the use of plant ingredients like macadamia seed oil, jojoba seed oil and sunflower seed oil.”
What advice do you have for those with sensitive skin, or think they have sensitive skin?
“I highly encourage anyone with skin sensitivity and allergies to develop a habit of reading ingredient lists. It’s important to understand what goes into a product, so that you learn to ignore marketing claims like “natural” and “organic”, and question anything that looks questionable. Also, it’s best to slowly figure out what your triggers for sensitivity and allergies are. This way you can start recognising these ingredients and avoid them. This process takes time, research and patience, so having a habit of googling products and running ingredient lists through databases like EWG and Think Dirty helps to assess ingredients and highlight any potential concerns.”
What’s next for Peau Peau Beauty?
“To create awareness about sensitive skin issues through content like articles. We’ll also be creating a fun and useful quiz to help customers determine what products could be suitable for their skin issues – this should roll out by early next year.”