Interview with Dr Aren on Vitamin E and skin health

What are the skin conditions typically faced by Malaysians? What should a basic skincare routine be like for good and healthy skin? What’s the most important basic skincare product and why? Is home care sufficient to maintain good skin health?

1. What are the skin conditions typically faced by Malaysians?

The typical skin conditions faced by Malaysians are:

    Sun damaged skin causing skin pigmentation disorder like melasma (dark spots), (sun spots) and freckles. Premature aging of the skin whereby one can develop early formation of wrinkles due to over-exposure of the sun. Eczema is also a rather common occurrence among Malaysians. There are several types of eczema; atopic, contact and seborrheic

2. What should a basic skincare routine be like for good and healthy skin?

Keep it simple. Back to basics. I always advise my patients to follow the 4-step rule:

    Cleanse - Do a proper cleaning of your skin, as this step helps to remove all impurities trapped on the skin. A lot of Malaysians apply make-up in the morning, and they spend hours (average 6-8 hours) per day with their make-up on. These foreign particles will block your pores and suffocate your skin. Gentle exfoliating once in a week would also help to remove the dead skin cells over the surface of the skin. Another rule that I always advise my patient is, if you spend 10 minutes to put your make-up on, do spend 10 minutes to remove them properly before heading to the shower. A little effort goes a long way. Toner & Serum after cleansing will help to hold & trap the moisture into your skin. Moisturiser - This ultimately is one of the most important steps in the routine. A healthy skin always starts from good moisturization. We have to ensure that our skin is well hydrated and protected to keep it fresh and plump.


3. What's the most important basic skincare product and why?

The most important skin care product that i would say would be of course - Moisturiser and Sunblock.

    Both are equally so important but functions in its entirety independently. Sunblock helps to combat UV rays (harmful oxidants) from our skin. Sun damage skin will lead to hyperpigmentation; leading to skin pigmentation disorder as well as premature wrinkle formation of the skin. Moisturiser helps to keep the skin fresh and hydrated. Good hydration prevents the skin from looking dull, dry, and flaky. When our skin is well hydrated, it is more plump and resilient. A well hydrated skin also slows down the process of fine lines and wrinkles formation. Natural hyaluronic acid under our skin functions to keep and store water within our skin. Thus, leading to less oil production and a step in preventing acne or comedones.


4. Is home care sufficient to maintain good skin health?

Absolutely. I've always advised my patients that maintaining good skin care starts from home. There is a myth where women or people in general believe that frequent visits to the beauty salon is needed to maintain good skin. Well, the answer is not.

All we need to do is spend a little time at home pampering and taking care of our skin. Proper steps in cleansing-toner-serum and moisturiser can help to maintain our skin.


5. What nutrients are good for maintaining skin health?

Vitamin C, D and E.

Vitamin C helps in many ways; such as collagen production. It also helps with the repair of damaged skin along with growth of new skin in our body. It also acts as an antioxidant combating oxidants, free radicals and helping in maintaining good skin.

Vitamin D is made when skin gets contact from sunlight. Sufficient vitamin D is needed to maintain good health for the skin, nails and hair.

Vitamin E, known for its antioxidant properties helps our body to combat against free radicals. Free radicals harm our skin by premature aging, wrinkles formation as well as hyperpigmentations.


6. How do I fix an uneven skin tone?

Uneven skin tone can be caused by several reasons and factors. The most common ones are due to overexposure to the sun leading to over-production of melanin. Melanin are pigments in our skin and hair that gives colour.

Inflammation over the skin also stimulates deposition of melanin over the area, leaving it to have hyperpigmentation after the inflammation subsides. Pollutants in the air such as harsh chemicals could lead to formation of hyperpigmentation as well.
Always remember, prevention is better than cure.

    Firstly, always remember to apply sunscreen. A broad spectrum sunscreen which can protect you both from UVA and UVB. The ideal SPF to be used would be in the range from 35-50. Correct application as well as consistency would yield very good results.

I would recommend use of vitamin E based products as well to help with uneven skin tone. Licorice is also known to help with hyperpigmentation over the skin. It contains glabridin, which has been widely associated with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, along with skin brightening effects.


7. How do I get rid of my acne problems?

Acne problems are multifactorial. It can be due to stress, hormonal, improper hygiene, wrong use of products as well as poor diet and water intake.

For mild cases of acne, I normally would advise my patient to look into their diet, as well as water intake daily. A well-balanced diet with good control of stress would benefit in combating acne.

Consuming oral supplements which contains Vitamin A, C and zinc are well known for helping with acne prone skin.

However, if the acne conditions are getting worse, always seek professional medical help at the nearest clinic or hospital. Dermatologist are well-known in helping combating severe forms of acne which requires medical intervention.


8. What Blackmores products can help with eczema and dry skin?

Eczema is a condition faced by many Malaysians. The cause is unknown till date, and patients who suffer from eczema would present skin that are red, scaly, thick with crusting. They are often itchy, and some would develop secondary bacterial infections from the wound caused by persistent scratching.

There are no permanent solutions for eczema at the moment, however we can always control the flaring of the disease. Understanding the causative factor as well as avoiding it would be beneficial.

There are several medications that could be prescribed to soothe / suppress the condition. Oral steroids or topical - however, I would strongly advise you to visit the doctor for a proper prescription. Over-use of steroids could lead to side effects, one of such would be thinning of the skin.

Choose a cream or moisturiser which not only helps to moisturize, but also helps in locking in water content throughout the day.