Ensoul, Medical Director and founder, recently gave Yahoo Life Singapore valuable insights into achieving healthy, glowing skin. The veteran aesthetician has a wealth of knowledge in the beauty industry, that we decided to dig deeper. In this article, we asked him for the essential steps to care for our skin without external help from dermatologists and beauticians and what we can actively do for our skin when approaching different life stages. Read on if you are curious about suitable skin treatments for age groups from the 20s to the 50s, major skin concerns, and how to better listen to your skin's needs.
Yahoo Life Singapore did the hard work of sourcing products based on Dr Thean’s suggestions, so you can save precious time for other things in life that matter. Click on purple buttons or images for product links!
Yahoo Life Singapore: Beyond salons and expert help, what steps can one take to care for our skin?
Dr Thean: One of the most important ways to care for your skin is to protect it from the sun. Overexposure to the sun contributes to ageing, wrinkles, and pigmentary disorders like melasma. Wearing broad-spectrum sunscreens with at least 30 SPF is essential to prevent excessive sun damage.
Maintaining a simple skincare regime and avoiding DIY skin care hacks would be another way to keep the skin healthy. However, despite many reports of success using DIY hacks, such as lemon juice and toothpaste, for common skin problems, these hacks can damage your skin's barrier, which may cause more long-term harm than good.
Despite being natural and cost-effective, you may need something else. Keeping it simple with an effective facial cleanser, moisturiser, and sunscreen is sufficient in taking basic care of your skin.
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What are the worst ravages of our skin’s health?
Most commonly mentioned would be the lack of sun protection for the skin, lack of quality sleep, or even stress. These factors influence the skin's health in many ways, but the biggest problem is not receiving the right treatments for a specific condition.
In my years of focusing on the disease aspects of aesthetics in treating skin conditions such as pigmentation, acne and acne scars, I have seen many patients who have tried self-medicating their skin conditions. They have used every product on the market and tried everything, only to come back to seeking professional help. Patients with acne, for example, often come to me with deteriorated conditions and visible scarring on their skin by the time they seek professional help.
Acne is not always an aesthetic condition that can be self-treated. It is a skin disease, so you must receive the most appropriate treatment for your skin concerns. If you are ever trying to figure out managing a skin condition, consult a doctor to manage it more effectively.
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Beyond using suitable skincare products and abiding by a good skincare regimen, when should one start getting additional help for our skin? Will any tell-tale symptoms indicate that we should visit a dermatologist or aesthetics doctor?
One tell-tale sign to see a doctor would be when your skin is not responding to over-the-counter products. Medications such as oral antibiotics, birth control, and topical prescription retinoids may be needed for more severe forms of acne, scarring, or other chronic skin conditions.
Your skin type can have an impact on the effectiveness of products. Even when the product is natural or organic, it can cause breakouts, worsen blemishes, or even cause redness when it is unsuitable for your skin type. It is also better to seek treatment as early as possible if you struggle with chronic conditions such as pigmentation and acne. You can consult a doctor if you want better control and management of your skin condition.
As we age, our skin changes. How should different age groups address our skin needs?
Ageing affects the skin in a variety of ways. Over time, your skin becomes thinner and loses fat, making it appear less firm and plump than in your early twenties. In addition, collagen, which provides skin firmness, naturally breaks down over time as your skin produces 1% less collagen per year after age 20. Elastin, which gives skin flexibility and can bounce back into place, also starts to break down in your 20s.
Skincare in your 20s for men and women
In your 20s, skin care is about prevention and laying the basic foundation of your routine. The dermis and epidermis start to thin due to lifestyle, genetics, and environment, making the 20s extremely crucial. Taking preventive steps now can help you counteract the effects of ageing in your 30s.
Using a broad-spectrum, non-comedogenic sunscreen with at least SPF 30 daily can help prevent sun damage and hyperpigmentation.
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Adding antioxidants like vitamin C can brighten the skin, prevent free radical damage, and reverse sun damage. Do include serums into your skin care regimen.
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Exfoliating removes dead skin cells from the surface to reveal healthier skin beneath. Instead of harsh physical exfoliators like scrubbing beads or mechanical brushes, use a chemical-based exfoliator that contains AHA (alpha hydroxy acids) or BHA (beta hydroxy acids).
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Skincare in your 30s for men and women
During your 30s, your skin's barrier function weakens. You are now starting to physically see the first signs of ageing or damage that began in your 20s. As your skin cell turnover decreases, dead skin cells stay on the surface longer, causing your skin to appear dull. Doing more than cleansing, moisturising, and sunscreen might be necessary at this stage.
Non-invasive therapies such as energy-based devices help treat weak skin structures during this phase. For example, energy-based procedures such as lasers, radiofrequency (RF), micro-needling, and ultrasound therapy can improve skin discolouration and tone. In addition, skin cell turnover can be increased with exfoliating treatments like chemical peels. These peels reduce fine lines and treat superficial uneven skin tone.
Eye cream helps to moisturise and hydrate the delicate eye area. The dark circles under your eyes can make you look older and more tired. Creams containing caffeine can also reduce puffiness, while soy and liquorice brighten skin.
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Hyaluronic acid can help keep your skin hydrated and supple. However, hyaluronic acid production slows down in your 30s. It is, therefore, essential to use serums or skincare containing hydrating humectants like hyaluronic acid.
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Skincare in your 40s for men and women
By the time you reach your 40s, your skin will have begun to show the cumulative effects of ageing. The ability to produce collagen and elastin decreases as the body approaches menopause. This is also when the skin layers begin to thin, and age spots, fine lines, and wrinkles become more prominent.
With time, skin becomes drier and drier. So now is the time to upgrade your moisturisers to those that contain moisture-trapping lipids. Moisturisers containing retinol can also stimulate the skin's production of new blood vessels and increase collagen production.
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Surface-level and moderately deep lines and wrinkles can be removed with ablative lasers such as erbium laser resurfacing. Skin issues related to blood vessels can be treated with non-ablative lasers such as yellow lasers. Patients suffering from redness, hyperpigmentation, broken capillaries, and rosacea may also benefit from this treatment.
Other non-ablative lasers, such as Q-switched nanosecond lasers, picosecond lasers, and long-pulsed Nd YAG lasers, can enhance collagen and elastin production, resulting in improved skin quality and health. Besides reducing wrinkles, brown spots, and other blemishes, these lasers also improve skin texture and tighten the skin without causing damage to the surface.
This non-surgical procedure delivers radiofrequency energy directly into the deeper layers of the skin with the help of ultrafine microneedles. Radiofrequency rejuvenates weakened cell membranes and boosts collagen and elastin production, which helps it heal and repair from within.
Additionally, this regeneration process creates a thicker layer of skin, which reduces the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. It also effectively treats stubborn melasma, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, skin laxity, and even acne.
High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU Skin Tightening)
Using high-intensity focused ultrasound energy, HIFU Skin Lifting targets the deeper tissues of the skin to repair the skin ligaments found within the Superficial Musculoaponeurotic System or SMAS layer. Shortening these ligaments lifts the skin, resulting in a strikingly tauter appearance.
Injectables such as Botox or botulinum toxin has been a popular method to smooth out wrinkles and prevent them from becoming more pronounced by limiting the movement of particular muscles. Other injectables, such as dermal fillers, can also help restore the loss of volume in the face.
Skincare in your 50s for men and women
In your 50s, the skin structure and moisture barrier become impaired and less efficient at retaining moisture as the body produces less estrogen due to menopause and hormones—the effects of dryness, sagging skin, and volume loss increase.
The slowed regeneration and recovery of the skin causes the skin to become even thinner and dryer. Age spots also increase due to accumulated UV damage, and wrinkles become more prominent. While topical treatments can battle fine lines and mild hyperpigmentation, they may not be effective against more severe signs of ageing, such as melasma, sagging and prominent wrinkles.
Lasers, radiofrequency, HIFU, and RF micro-needling can help lighten pigmentation, tighten, and rejuvenate the skin. Treatments such as these balance the tone and texture of the skin as well as improve the overall health of the skin.
It is crucial to remember that age-specific skin care tips are meant to build on the skincare routine you set the decade before, which means your essential skincare routine should include cleansing, moisturising, SPF, and exfoliating every week at a minimum.
About Dr Kenneth Thean, founder and medical director of Ensoul
After obtaining his MBSS (Singapore) degree in 1981, Dr Kenneth Thean received post-graduate Fellowships from the Royal College of Surgeons by Edinburgh and the Royal College of Surgeons and Physicians of Glasgow in 1986. Over the years, his enduring passion for energy-based devices and lasers has charted the success of Ensoul Medical Clinic, focusing on treating medical aesthetic skin problems such as pigmentation, acne and acne scars. Throughout his career, Dr Thean has gained extensive knowledge of lasers and other energy-based devices locally and abroad. Dr Thean has also trained and mentored programs worldwide with reputable aesthetic physicians from Korea, the USA, South America, Europe, Malaysia, Thailand, Australia and Singapore.
Book an appointment with Ensoul
Ensoul Medical Clinic has been established based on over 30 years of medical experience at the heart of Orchard Road. Guided by the founder and medical director, Dr Kenneth Thean's wealth of medical expertise. Ensoul believes that every patient is different and aims to help every patient with a customised treatment plan based on their needs and goals.