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Beauty 101: How to treat sensitive skin in the tropics

Beauty 101: How to treat sensitive skin in the tropics
Beauty 101: How to treat sensitive skin in the tropics


When inundated with work, I fantasise about being teleported to a decadent day spa, where my every beauty whim (and need) is expertly attended to. I love being pampered, but reality thwarts my fantasy – time and financial constraints are factors, but it’s my serious aversion to facials that prevents serious spa wallowing.

“Blessed” with a fair complexion, I’ve been fanatical about protecting my skin since my sun-conscious teens. Living in sweaty Singapore can wreak havoc on the hardiest of complexions. I’ve noticed that facial pores know no limits in terms of their magnitude in humid conditions.

My sensitive skin doesn’t take kindly to even the gentlest of massages, so it’s little surprise I abhor being roused from a salon slumber for the dreaded extraction process. Prior to a recent Face Bistro experience, I had, on a number of occasions, been subjected to what must be “old school” practice. Using a sharp, surgical steel needle, my nose, and any other feature besieged with blocked pores, was prodded and gouged to exorcise the offending muck that had assumed residence. Deemed a necessity by therapists and a necessary evil by me, the painful process left me vowing never to have a facial again.

During these encounters in Australia and Bali, I lay defenceless, waiting to be taken to with weapons of titivation. Lacking a voice, my skin protested vehemently against the torture, becoming angry and inflamed. (Picture bloodied Antichrist as opposed to blissed-out glamour goddess.)

Aware of my ever-increasing paranoia of needle-wielding, white-coated beauticians, I paid a visit to Face Bistro at Holland Village. Salon manager Christiana Ngen quashed my concerns by explaining their extraction technique: warm steam to loosen the pores, followed by tolerable, needle-free pressure applied by a therapist’s hands.

For a sensitive, dehydrated skin type, she recommended the Aquafit Moisture facial. I queried her analysis of my skin, given its usual fish-and-chip-shop unctuousness. “Dehydrated skin? I don’t think so.” My incredulous tone ricocheted about the salon’s foyer. This is when I notice the ever-so-subtle “silence” signs, as well as the colossal chandelier overhead. The shiny distraction proved to be an opportune moment for my therapist to shepherd me into her den of tranquillity.

Christiana confirmed that I have combination skin – just as many tropics dwellers do. The drier facial areas – cheeks, temples, jawline – are often neglected in an attempt to keep the T-zone oil-free, which can lead to an infinite cycle of denying moisture where it’s most needed. Thanks to therapist’s feather-light touch, I was soon slumbering. I emerged a changed woman, ready to partake in regular (needle-free) coddling.

Beauty 101: How to treat sensitive skin in the tropics
Beauty 101: How to treat sensitive skin in the tropics


Sensitive Skin Survival in Singapore

Face Bistro’s tips for pre- and post-facial care, and everyday skincare advice.

Gently does it

Steer clear of oil-based and acidic ingredients – salicylic acid and highly fragranced soaps aren’t your friends. Test products on your wrist or neck first if in doubt.

Less is more

A facial needn’t be an extravaganza with an array of products. Sensitive skin requires a simple approach, so use a warm cloth or steam to open pores and expel impurities, but be wary of excessive and possibly irritating heat. Use gentle toners, soothing facial masks and moisturisers,  preferably ones with aloe vera. Face Bistro’s Aquafit Water Cream is formulated to combat sweaty urban jungle conditions.


Drink plenty of the clear stuff (water; not vodka) for great skin and be vigilant when washing your face, as dirt or makeup build-up is often the cause of irritation.

Mother Nature knows best

Natural products are especially kind to sensitive skin (and your wallet!). Cucumber soothes the eyes while avocado, honey, aloe vera, chamomile and any sea-derived extracts are beauty workhorses. Avoid pineapple as it’s far too acidic.

Bare necessities

Don’t overload your skin with products after a treatment. Apply a cold compress to reduce any redness and inflammation, followed by a calming moisturiser. Tip: Store products in the fridge for an added pick-me-up.


Caring for sensitive skin needn’t be a hassle, but you do need to take extra special care, especially before and after a facial. Be on the lookout for simple products to enhance your natural beauty and keep ingredients to a minimum.

Microdermabrasion and laser treatments may be too intense for sensitive skin, but a patch test will soon reveal whether your skin can withstand either. Always consult a qualified practitioner beforehand.


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