updated 9 Jun 2010, 08:41
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Mon, May 31, 2010
Urban, The Straits Times
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Sensitive to new skincare products
by Ian Lee & Karen Tee

Q I have sensitive skin that is prone to turning red when I try new skincare products. I know I should stick to tried and tested ones but I enjoy experimenting. What are some common ingredients I should avoid to minimise skin irritation?

A I am glad that you realise you should not be experimenting too much with beauty products because introducing different chemicals to your face is a sure-fire way of causing flare-ups.

To prevent your skin from acting up, Dr Calvin Chan, medical director of Calvin Chan Aesthetic & Laser Clinic, has a list of ingredients to avoid, especially if they are listed among the first five items on the ingredient list, as this indicates they are in high concentrations in the product:

1 Volatile alcohols like SD alcohol and benzyl alcohol, which can dry the skin by stripping natural oils.

2 Preservatives like parabens, which can cause irritation.

3 Perfume or fragrance, which can cause sensitive skin to itch or smart.

4 Alpha or beta hydroxy acids, which should be used with care especially in high concentrations of around 10 per cent as these are not always tolerated by sensitive skin.

5 Chemical sunblocks like avobenzone which can break down in sunlight and cause skin irritation.

One brand you could try is Britain-based skincare brand Ren, which prides itself on producing skincare products without potential irritants like petrochemicals, parabens and synthetic fragrances and colours. The brand is stocked at Escentials in Tangs Orchard.

Kirsty Mawhinney, head of education for Ren, says all the active ingredients used in the brand's products are derived from natural plant sources as people with sensitive skin are more tolerant to these ingredients.

If you want to continue experimenting, a good way to save some money and reduce wastage is to buy travel-sized kits so you can sample a range of products.

Check out Sephora or, if you are travelling, Perfumes & Cosmetics at Changi Airport for a good range of kits.

This article was first published in Urban, The Straits Times.

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