The Great Myth of Skincare Purging


There are two kinds of purging that one should dedicate some time and effort to. The first is the good ‘ol Marie Kondo format where he purges unwanted things like clothing (have you not been reading our stories on what to buy?), senseless memorabilia (are your college party invites still relevant?) and ex-es from his life. The second is the myth about skin purging — a breakout that a drugstore sales advisor aunty purports to happen when you lodge a complaint about a product she recommended.

To make sense of the ideal products to use for a more handsome face, Men’s Folio spoke to Dr SK Tan, Medical Director at IDS Clinic and Chief Scientific Officer and Co-Founder of IDS about four most common misconceptions about skincare. In case you’re wondering about the validity of our questions, the search recommendations on Google don’t lie.

Substance Abuse

The #1 skincare ingredient that Dr SK Tan believes that people are abusing is retinol, “retinoids are Vitamin A derivatives which have a proven ‘anti-aging’ action and are also useful against acne. However, excessively high concentrations cause irritation, dryness and peeling in many cases.”

Go for a product instead that balances the skin-exfoliating properties of retinol with skin-soothing ingredients instead. Sunday Riley’s serum contains five percent retinol ester-blend, a one percent retinol-blend, half percent blue green algae to reduce congestion and pigmentation while Hawaiian white honey, cactus extract, ginger balances and soothes. 


Never mind the pesky sales advisors because the grooming halls or drugstores of shopping malls are daunting enough, this means that if one is trying to make a hasty decision to pick up a product, Dr SK Tan advises otherwise.

I don’t think anyone should decide on any skincare product in three minutes, except, perhaps cleansers or toners and, possibly, sunscreens. Sunscreens may be the easiest to decide if one is familiar with sunscreen ingredients — the safest would be to pick a physical sunscreen, making sure that there is zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide, and decide after checking the ‘feel’ of the product.”

Lab Series Power Protector SPF 50 is lightweight in texture (it dries to a completely matte finish) but its post-application benefits are anything but — it visibly evens skin tone and texture while protecting your mug from the sun and environmental pollutants


When it comes to the veritable myth of purging versus “ok, maybe this isn’t meant to be for me”, Dr Sk Tan believes that the former is not a medical term. Instead, it is an exacerbation of blemishes, “this is thought to be an acceleration of the cell turnover brought about by certain active ingredients, especially exfoliating agents (AHA’s, BHA’s and Retinoids) occurring in a small percentage of subjects.”

The problem then occurs when one cannot nail down what is exactly happening, “it is often difficult to differentiate ‘purging’ (which often subsides after a few weeks) from irritation from the products (which gets worse with continued use).”

If you are experiencing flakiness, irritation, and dryness (Editor: Are you describing a Tinder date?), Clinique’s Moisture Surge Hydrating Supercharged Concentrate quenches dehydrated skin for a full 72 hours. Hyaluronic acid, activated aloe water and Liquid-Sphere Technology instantly plumps skin while soothing irritation from overenthusiastic pumps of retinol. 


If one has managed to stick a routine out (always persist, never resist!), Dr SK Tan has good news — the rule of thumb for your skin’s ‘renewal’ cycle is about three to four weeks — “changes should be visible in that period with the possibility some gradual improvement being seen earlier. ‘Instant’ results may be seen following the use of some products — this is usually the result of using certain ingredients that temporarily ‘tighten’ the skin to diminish lines and wrinkles.”

The first of its kind, Allies of Skin’s All-Day Pollution Repair Mask is a daily leave-on-treatment with multiple peptides, seven brighteners, nine antioxidants and a 16.5% Repair Complex that stimulates collagen production and repair damaged skin.  


To thank Dr SK Tan for his service (and contribution to our page views), we’ve got the good man to recommend some of the potent potions his clinic has produced. 

“IDS’ C-Plus (vitamin C, E, and melanin suppressing fullerenes) and Rejuvenating Complex (fine line reducing zinc and magnesium chloride, firming hydrolised elastin, and hydrolised sodium hyaluronate to hydrate) are the top sellers in general, and the Pore Formula (balancing red clover extract, anti-inflammatory tea tree oil, and anti-inflammatory lilac extract) and Blemish Clear (antioxidising lily extract, smoothing Japanese mushroom and tea tree oil) series are favourites for acne-prone subjects,” says Dr SK Tan.

The proof is in the #selfie — he is one pretty youthful-looking man.