Do kids really need a skincare routine? Are there any skincare ingredients that kids should avoid? Your FAQs answered!
You may be wondering if your little one needs to have a skincare routine at all – are they too young for a face wash, moisturiser and toner? And what should you do when your little one reacts to products that are labelled for sensitive skin? We speak to an expert on skincare, Dr Lynette Lee, medical director and founder of The Skincare Clinic who has a wealth of experience in treating kids and adults with all kinds of skin conditions including eczema. Here she answers questions about kids’ skincare including most common misconceptions plus what ingredients you should definitely avoid in children’s skincare products!
What are the most common misconceptions when it comes to skincare for kids?
The most common misconception is that kids do not need sun protection. Kids’ skin is more fragile than adult skin – it is thinner and hence more vulnerable to deep cellular damage. 50 – 80% of sun-related damage occurs during childhood and adolescence. Baby’s skin is more prone to sunburn. This is why sun safety is so important for kids, and babies less than 6-months-old must be kept out of direct sunlight completely. Especially in sunny Singapore, our children are exposed to UV rays during outdoor activities all year round, and indirect rays while indoors. Short-term risks of sun exposure are dehydration, heatstroke, and a painful sunburn. However, the long-term effects are even more worrying – skin ageing is accelerated and there is an increased risk of skin cancers such as melanoma. In fact, studies have shown that as few as five sunburns before the age of 20 can increase the risk of melanoma by 80%.
Sun-safe measures include:
- avoiding direct sun exposure during the hottest times of the day, between 10am and 4pm.
- wearing a cap or wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses while under direct sunlight
- drinking water regularly
- wearing sunscreen on all parts of their body, and reapplying it every 1-2 hours when outdoors.
What’s a good skincare routine for kids?
It can be overwhelming for parents, as there is a wide range of skincare products in the market for babies and children, especially with all the information online. So where do we start? I recommend that we keep things simple: a gentle wash, a suitable moisturiser and sunscreen is good enough. Here are my top tips:
1. Ingredients to avoid
A gentle cleanser should avoid added synthetic dyes, labelled as FD&C or D&C, and parabens, as these may cause an allergic reaction. Sulphates such as sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) can also irritate the skin, eyes and lungs, and should be avoided.
2. Go fragrance-free
Everyone wants their baby to smell great, but products with fragrances are often associated with allergies, dermatitis and respiratory problems. To avoid any skin complications, ensure the moisturiser is fragrance-free.
3. Choose physical sunscreens over chemical ones
Chemicals are commonly found in sunscreens to absorb ultraviolet light, but the consequences are unknown if a large amount is absorbed. Avoid using sunscreens that include chemicals like benzophenone, homosalate and PABA. Choose mineral sunscreens that contain zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.
4. Watch for signs of irritation
It is important to keep a close watch for signs of irritation and rashes as your child grows. If irritation and rashes do occur, even after changing to a “gentle” skincare routine, you should let your doctor diagnose your skin condition and treat it adequately.
In my practice I set aside at least half an hour per patient, to thoroughly explain to them any issues around their skincare, explore with them the triggers for their eczema or aesthetics concerns, and discuss various treatment options with them. I find it very fulfilling to help my patients and their family understand their skin conditions and find out what the “root cause” is. Seeing improvements in their skin during every visit brings joy to my heart.
I have a beautiful patient, a 6-year-old girl. Her mommy came to me and said that her extensive eczema on her face and body was making her feel self-conscious – she hardly smiled, hated showering due to the pain and would tell her friends that her skin was dry and cracked. The eczema took its toll on her self-esteem. After three rounds of Wet Wrap Therapy in my clinic, 80% of her rashes had cleared and the child was so happy, requesting mommy to dress her up in her favourite Disney princess dress and taking many photos! She was finally smiling again. This brought tears to my eyes, knowing that not only had I treated her skin condition, her insecurities had also resolved.
I spend lots of time with my patients during their skin consultations as I am a huge advocate for the education of patients. Having the correct knowledge empowers them to better care for their skin on a daily basis, improves their condition and reduces the clinic visits they will need.
What’s your background in skincare?
I have been managing patients with eczema, both children and adults, since 2015, when I was working in KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital, in the Dermatology department. Nearly 80% of my workload there was treating eczema and it gives me great joy to see my patients improve during their follow-up periods. I have been in Aesthetics Medicine since 2014 starting off with lasers for treatment of pigmentation, melasma, and acne, and progressing on to injectables and other machine treatments. I decided to start The Skincare Clinic to combine my two passions – treating eczema and aesthetics medicine – in one space.
How does The Skincare Clinic differ from the rest?
“The Skincare Clinic Difference” is that we pride ourselves in having friendly and trained staff. I train my staff rigorously on how to perform various procedures to help improve your eczema. During treatments, our staff will also share practical tips for managing your eczema at home. We are the only Outpatient Wet Wrap Therapy clinic in Singapore, and we have made-to-measure garments which are specially imported, together with ointments and creams specially-formulated to optimise your Wet Wrap Therapy results.
Moreover, we are a baby and child-friendly clinic. Our spacious consultation rooms are really inviting for kids and families with ample space for prams. We have a nursing room with an armchair for mommies and provide diaper change facilities. There are even treats for the little ones!
Our opening hours are Mondays to Saturdays, 10am to 6pm with after-hours consultations from 6 to 8pm, by appointment – we find that working parents and school-going children really appreciate this option, so they don’t have to miss work or school to visit.
If you have any questions about your or your child’s skincare or have specific issues with eczema, feel free to give us a call – I would love to help!