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With all the contradicting advice and misconceptions surrounding skincare application these days, it should come as no surprise that the Internet is flooded with tips and tricks as to how to apply skincare the ‘right’ way.

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The latest so-called hack to hit the market? Waiting a stipulated period of time between application of products within your skincare routine.

What is it about? Well, you can hit the link above to get an in-depth understanding of it, or simply look at this table that summarises everything you need to know. According to reddit user Turquoise Turmoil, it is best not to layer on your skincare one after the other. Instead, you should wait at least 1-40 min (depending on the product) or so in between certain skincare products. Hmm, interesting!

As far as skincare tips go, it isn’t extreme, though one does wonder about its effectiveness. Is this a tip that is going to revolutionise the beauty industry as we know it, or is it more of a sham than anything? With this in mind, we seeked out a couple of experts in the field to tell us what they think.

Is the ‘waiting time’ skincare routine necessary?

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The answer is a resounding no across the board.

Dr. Teo Wan Lin, founder and medical director of TWL Specialist Skin & Medical Centre as well as a Ministry of Health accredited dermatologist, had this to say: “From a dermatologist’s perspective, a skincare routine does not need ‘waiting time’.

How well a product is absorbed by the skin depends on the active ingredient and the formulation of the product. It has to be cosmetically acceptable: asking someone to apply a heavy ointment in a humid climate like Singapore is unacceptable.”

Dr. YX Lum, an aesthetic doctor from IDS Clinic, also had this to say about the matter: “The whole concept of ‘waiting time’ is dramatically unnecessary. The general rule of thumb, which is already logical to many, is to wait for individual products to be absorbed which should take less than a minute before applying the next one.”

She also mentioned that it is only logical for one to wait until the product is absorbed before going on to the next step so as prevent smearing or botched application of the prior product.

Is there a singular ‘right’ method one should utilise for skincare application?

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There is no ‘set’ or right method one can utilise when it comes to skincare application, although Dr. Teo had this to recommend: “There is a certain logic to layering your products. For ease of application, I recommend applying the lightest product, such as your serums, followed by lotion and lastly your cream or ointment.

In theory, so long as the product is applied onto the skin, the active ingredient will be absorbed by the skin. Yet, the perception of ease of absorption is subjective, simply because in a humid climate, users may not feel heavier creams are being absorbed even when it is already having an effect on your skin.

It is more important to consider the active ingredient of the product and how comfortable it goes to the skin rather than the waiting time.”

This insight, naturally, brings forward another question:

Is it even possible for our skin to absorb so much product? Does it differ from person to person?

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According to Dr. Teo, it is, though it depends on the products used at hand.

“In my line of cosmeceuticals, we also advocate layering. Certain active ingredients are better delivered in a serum rather than lotion/cream as it is more effective. As long as one is applying products that are accurately formulated with evidence-based science such as in a dermatologist-tested line, the active ingredients will be delivered to the skin and the user can enjoy its therapeutic benefit.

Instead of relying on ‘waiting time’, users can focus on how to enhance absorption of their product. A tip I tell my patients often is to apply skincare right after a shower, when the skin is slightly damp as it helps to enhance the skin’s ability to absorb the product.

Also, rather than considering the amount of product our skin is able to absorb, the more relevant question is to consider the environmental humidity and the formulation of product (cream/serum/ointment). The absorption of product is subjective on the environmental humidity.”

What are the key steps and habits one can employ to maintain a good complexion then?

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When it comes to establishing a basic (and good!) skincare routine, Dr. Lum recommends double cleansing, moisturising, as well as sunblock or any other form of protection against light sources.

She also talks about the benefits of adding antioxidants to one’s routine. “Products that can be added in all our regimens to maintain a good complexion are good antioxidants. After all, antioxidants on the skin protects against all skin issues as well as environmental harm and free radicals.”

Dr. Teo’s advice is in line with this school of thought, with a huge emphasis on the importance of cleansing.

“I always advocate proper skin cleansing. Most women wear makeup. Yet, many makeup removers contain harsh astringents that can disrupt the skin barrier. Leaving behind makeup residue is also not desirable as it can cause bacteria and grime to build up, especially in our humid climate.

For this reason, I always advocate the double cleansing method, such as with the Milk Cleanser and Honey Cleanser, for a thorough cleanse.

The second thing I would advocate is the use of cosmeceutical serums. The two must-have type of serums are a Hyaluronic Acid serum and a stabilised Vitamin C serum. Hyaluronic acid helps the skin to retain moisture whilst Vitamin C is an essential antioxidant that helps to fight free radical damage.

One should also never forget sun protection. Your sunscreen should have UVA/B filters, an SPF of 30 to 50, and broad-spectrum protection. Above all that, a good sunscreen should contain antioxidants too. Another key thing is the amount of sunscreen applied, as people often apply too little sunblock needed. Reapplication every 3 to 4 hours is also advocated, especially when one is outdoors.”

The experts we spoke to:

Dr. Teo Wan Lin

Founder and Medical Director of TWL Specialist Skin & Laser Centre and Ministry of Health Accredited Dermatologist

Waiting Time Skincare Dr Teo Wan Lin

Specialising in both medical and cosmetic dermatology, Dr. Teo Wan Lin attained her Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery Degree from the National University of Singapore. She subsequently went on to qualify as a specialist dermatologist accredited by the Specialist Accreditation Board, Singapore.

As the founder and medical director of TWL Specialist Skin & Laser Centre, she integrates her artistic sensibility with her research background and specialist dermatologist training through customised, evidence-based aesthetic treatments using state-of the-art machines and injectables (fillers and toxins). All of which works synergistically with her proprietary line of specialist dermatologist-grade cosmeceuticals.

Click here to view her full profile and here to view her line of specialist dermatologist-grade cosmeceuticals, Dr. TWL.

TWL Specialist Skin & Laser Centre

Address: 38 Irrawaddy Road, Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital, Suite #07-28, Singapore 329563

Telephone: 6355 0522

Opening hours: Mon – Tue: 9am-5.30pm, Wed: 11am-7.30pm, Thurs-Fri: 9am-5.30pm, Sat: 9am-1pm. Closed on Sundays and Public Holidays.

For appointments: Through the form on their website

Dr. YX Lum

Doctor at IDS Clinic 

Does Face Misting Help Dr Yx Lum

Having graduated from Trinity College in Dublin with a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery degree, Dr. YX Lum went on to earn various graduate diplomas and certification for aesthetic medicine. Having once battled with acne and breakouts herself, Dr. Lum has since had a strong interest in acne treatment, and innovating products and treatments for the condition.

Dr. Lum is currently part of the team of doctors running IDS Clinic, specialising in skincare solutions from Botox® fillers, laser treatment, to simply acne prevention.

IDS Clinic
Address: 8 Sinaran Drive, #05-07 to 10, Novena Specialist Center, Singapore 307470

Telephone: 6568 3555

Opening hours: Mon – Fri 10am to 8pm, Sat 10am to 5pm, closed on Sundays and Public Holidays.

For appointments: Through the form on their website