Skincare 101

by | January 2, 2014

Skin woes of a different sort tend to plague those aged 50 and above. Learn tips and products to care for your skin.

BY: Esther Low

Liver spots on the face.

The skin makes up the largest organ of the human body, forming the barrier between the internal as well as the external environment. What we eat and drink matter as much as what we expose our skin to whether they be creams and lotions, or less obviously, ultraviolet (UV) rays and pollutants in the air. The skin is thus often the first to show signs of weathering.

Ageless Online speaks to Associate Professor Giam Yoke Chin, senior consultant dermatologist at the National Skin Centre on common skin woes that those 50 and above tend to face, and how to protect from or remedy such problems:


What are some common skin problems that people above the age of 50 tend to face?

Some common skin ailments in persons above 50 years include:

1. Dry skin that tends to make the face look sallow, and that’s also itchy.

2. Wrinkles from prolonged sun exposure and/or due to gravity pulling the skin down.

3. Liver spots, which are essentially brown patches on the face and forearms, that appear on the skin due to ageing and a lack of protection from the sun (for instance, using sunblock regularly especially when playing golf) resulting in sun damage of the skin. The longer ultra violet rays A damages the collagen too.

4. Melasma – pigmentation on the face and upper chin largely due to stress and hormonal fluctuations (for example, during menopause). Tends to affect women more, and also tends to be aggravated by sun exposure.

5. Prone to bruising on forearms from trauma such as knocking against tables, etc, as the collagen production might be impaired due to old age, and collagen itself is likely to be damaged over the years by sun exposure. Hence, blood vessels break easily and bleed into the skin.

6. Growths on the face such as seborrhoeic warts (non-cancerous and do not need treatment), and also sebaceous gland enlargement.


What are some important vitamins (for example, vitamin D, E, etc), minerals, or skincare product ingredients, etc, that are essential for people over 50 and should thus be included in their skincare products and routines?

Indeed, vitamins applied to the skin might be more effective than taken orally.

  • Vitamin C – important as an anti-oxidant and an anti-ageing ingredient as it can help to remove pigment blemishes.
  • Vitamin E – an anti-oxidant that helps to moisturise the skin.
  • Vitamin A – an anti-ageing ingredient that evens skin tone and promotes collagen growth.
  • Minerals – rare minerals for general health.
  • Hyaluronic acid, collagen cream – hydrates the skin and promotes skin growth.
  • Hydroquinone 2-percent or 4-percent – skin-lightening ingredients.
  • Alpha hydroxyl acid – promotes collagen growth and helps fade scars.


What are some skincare product ingredients that they should watch out for as well?

• Vitamin A tends to irritate the skin that is exposed to sunlight or in persons with sensitive skin such as those with eczema. Hence, for such individuals, they should either use less or not use them at all.

• Alpha hydroxyl acids easily irritate the skin as well, therefore usage of lower potency ones are advisable. Likewise for hydroquinone which can irritate the skin and even turn the face red or brown.


What are some skincare products/tips in general therefore that you would recommend for someone:

– in their 50s?

– in their 60s?

– in their 70s?

– in their 80s and above? Why so?

Skincare ought to start as early as possible if we care about our appearance, and more so for the prevention of growths especially cancerous ones. This is because our cells grow old, and require more and more nutrients and protection from the sun. Moreover, sun damage is the main external preventable cause of ageing skin.

Skincare products can be common routine products if you have normal skin, but those with sensitive skin or eczema should consult a dermatologist as anti-ageing products used by older persons for skin rejuvenation might irritate their skin. Examples of these products include cleansers, protective agents and treatment agents.

Other tips:

  • Cleansers – avoid harsh cleansers such as soap as they tend to be too drying.
  • Protection products – use sunblocks that have a broad spectrum covering both UVA and UVB rays.
  • Anti-oxidant – usage of products that include anti-oxidants are encouraged.
  • Moisturisers – prevents dryness, which helps to minimise itchiness, and allows the repair of skin as well.
  • Treatment creams – essentially, rejuvenating creams that contain vitamin A (tretinoin (also known as all trans-retinoic acid) is best).
  • Lightening creams – creams that contain vitamin C, hydroquinone, kojic acid, etc.


Regarding the general recommendations you have given above, what are some of the best products on the market?

Most people who visit the dermatologists are recommended dermatological products. We read the active ingredients on the back and labels to know what they contain, and therefore their relevance and applicability to the skin problem concerned.

A number of brands like La Roche Posay, Vichy, Neutrogena, ROC, Ocean Health, Skinceuticals, Obagi and others like Galderma, Ego, Physiogel-GSK and Ceradan creams are very useful. I do not know all the commercial brands like Clarins and SK-II, but the cosmetic industry is a billion-dollar industry as so many women use these products. I prefer to let these women buy what they like, but if they are discerning, we can advise them on skin problems and appropriate creams.


Any particular brands that, in general, cater to a myriad of skin conditions, or, are suitable to different skin types? (This would be helpful for those who might not be able to find relief from the products recommended above, who can then try out these brands.)

Most skincare products sold can be used for most skins. On the other hand, those with sensitive skin, perfume allergy, or preservative allergy may need more dermatological advice. For such persons, when they cannot seem to find relief from any cosmeceutical that they have used, the best is not to keep on trying more creams but to see a dermatologist as they may need allergy tests, or advice on products they ought to or can use instead.

I know of a person who had dry sensitive skin, and looked wrinkled. She was advised to try many rejuvenating creams, however, many were irritants and potent, which resulted in her skin condition getting worse. In such cases, seeing a dermatologist is advised.

Besides using skincare products to try and rejuvenate our skin, having a positive attitude, balanced diet and regular exercise allows healthy skin to shine from within as well.


(** PHOTO CREDIT: Bernice Seow)


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