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ABCs of skin creams

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Much more than just moisturizers. 

skin cream

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IN THE MIRROR: Which skin cream is best by Dr Nantapat Supapannachart

There are so many types, prices and brands of skin cream on the market and very little unbiased information available. How do you sift the wheat from the chaff to find the products right for you.

The myriad choices are overwhelming. Lotions, potions, ingredients, formulations and brands - at best it makes your head spin, at worst it becomes easier to abandon creams altogether. An appropriate skincare routine really can delay a visit to the dermatologist for more drastic treatment, so I have constructed a concise guide on what to look for and how to use it.


First and foremost, in order to choose the right products, it is important to know what your skin type is. Otherwise, you can end up with a bigger problem than you started with. For example, if your skin is oily and you use a product that is too heavy, it will block the pores and create lumps and bumps.

If you then over-wash the skin, it becomes dry, which can block the pores further. Dehydration can result in the appearance of fine lines too, so if you are unsure, visit a professional for informed advice.

Once you know your skin type, the next important thing to remember is to cleanse and moisturise morning and night, and apply to sunscreen before heading out for the day.


Moisturisers are products that put moisture back into your skin and hold it there. They are used to correct dryness. Dry skin needs more oil. Oily skin does not need another layer of oil but needs to hold water to prevent dehydration.


Emollients put oils back into your skin. The best emollients are those matched to the skin's natural protective layer. Ceramides, grapeseed oil, almond oil, macadamia oil and borage oils provide omega six and provide a protective layer on the skin. In the past emollients were mineral oils, which caused obstruction and comedones (blackheads)


Most day creams contain moisturising ingredients, keeping the skin hydrated and nourished, and providing a barrier against pollution and air-conditioning. Day cream is also an excellent base for make-up.


Night creams claim many benefits. They promise to moisturise skin during sleep, neutralise free radicals, improve skin tone and texture, minimise wrinkles and fade pigmentation. During the night, our body enters regenerative processes, so the skin focuses on repairing and creating new skin cells. And it is undoubtedly beneficial for someone with dryer skin to lock moisture in. The most important thing to look for in a night cream is active ingredients.


The skin around the eye is more delicate, so eye cream should be lighter than night cream. Active ingredients should include biopeptides to inhibit expression wrinkles.


A gentle cleanser is an important part of a daily skincare routine, however cleanser is not on the skin long enough for expensive active ingredients to have a great effect, so it is better to spend more money on the serum or cream.


Sunscreens contain a lot of chemicals, so oily or sensitive skin types should choose lower SPF (and reapply often) to avoid blocked pores or irritation and allergies. For protection, apply the moisturiser first and then apply the sunscreen. Nowadays it is thought that it is better to use two separate creams.


The life of a skin cell is about 30 days. The outer skin-layer provides a small amount of protection from UV light and chemical irritants, but dead skin cells can cause pores to block. Exfoliation is the removal of these dead skin cells.

Exfoliation in young skin: In general, exfoliating helps with acne, but all exfoliating products are not the same. Care must be taken to ensure that you are using the right product for your needs. If the skin is not oily, I do not recommend exfoliation. If the skin is oily, I recommend exfoliation every two weeks.

Exfoliation in older skin: As we get older, the metabolic rate slows down and exfoliation encourages new cell growth. Once the dead cells are removed, the skin is left with a smooth glowing skin.

Exfoliating at home: The mechanical method is to use a slightly abrasive scrub when cleansing your face.

The chemical method: Look for alpha-hydroxy acid or beta-hydroxy acid in products to remove the dead cells without harsh abrasion. (The higher the percentage or concentration of acid, the deeper the exfoliation will be, but beware, more is not necessarily better.

Next week we will discuss brands and active ingredients that are commonly found in skin care products.

Dr Nantapat Supannachart, American Board Certified Dermatologist & Laser Surgery. Visit or call 080-5000-123

(Source: Bangkok Post, IN THE MIRROR, Which skin cream is best, 10/03/2011, Dr Nantapat Supapannachart, link

skin cream - medicine put on the skin, spread on the skin, applied to the skin (See Wikipedia)

lotion - a thick liquid that you put on your skin in order to clean it or make it feel softer and less dry (See Wikipedia)
potion -
a drink that is believed to be magic, poisonous, or useful as a medicine

dehydration - losing water, lack of water in the body
moisture - (noun) a small amount of water or another liquid in the air, on the surface of something, or in a substance
moisturise (verb) - add moisture to skin
(noun) - complex mixtures of chemical agents specially designed to make the external layers of the skin (epidermis) softer and more pliable, by increasing its hydration (water content) by reducing evaporation (See Wikipedia)

brands - products with well-established names that people remember, that create a certain image and expectations about the product
bias (noun) - an attitude or opinion that makes you treat another group of people unfairly or different from the way you treat other people
biased (adjective)
unbiased (adjective) - not biased
unbiased information -
information that is not distorted and made false (by negative attitudes or opinions during the collection and formulation of the information)
sift - to look carefully through something ค้นหา
chaff - the outer part of a grain (wheat, rice) that is removed before the grain is used
sift the wheat from the chaff - the process of removing the bad items from a group so that only the good ones remain

myriad -
a very large number
myriad choices -
a very large number of choices
overwhelming - too much (so many or so much that you cannot handle all of them)

ingredients - foods that are used with other foods in the preparation of a particular dish ส่วนประกอบ
formulation - the quantities of different substances that must be mixed together to make a particular product such as a drug or skin cream
makes your head spin - makes you dizzy (feel like you are spinning around and will drop on the ground)
abandon - to stop doing an activity early, before it is finished or before you have derived full benefits from it เลิก
appropriate - suitable, what is right for a certain situation  เหมาะสม,สมควร
routine - the usual series of tasks that are done as part or a job or work กิจวัตร
delay - do something at a later time (than originally planned) เลื่อน
drastic - having a very big effect มีผลกระทบอย่างใหญ่หลวง
treatment - the process of providing medical care การรักษา

foremost - most important and best ที่สำคัญที่สุด
First and foremost,... - the most important thing is...

skin type - 1. whether a person's skin is oily or dry, 2. skin color or tone  (See detailed article)
block - to stop something from moving through or along something else กีดขวาง, ปิดกั้น

pore - a small hole in the skin that sweat passes through, out of the body (See Wikipedia)
- a small hard part under the skin caused by injury or illness ตุ่ม, เม็ดที่ขึ้นตามผิวหนัง
bump -
a raised part of a surface

informed advice - being told or shown how to do something, by people who are experts, who actually know how to do it
fine - an amount of money that you have to pay because you have broken the law ค่าปรับ
fine - an amount of money that you have to pay ค่าปรับ because you have broken the law
apply - apply to skin, put on skin, spread over skin, spread onto skin
layer - a thin sheet of a substance; a level of material, such as a type of rock or gas, which is different from the material above or below it ชั้น

emollient - "substances that soften and soothe the skin. They are used to correct dryness and scaling of the skin. They are a key component in the manufacture of lipstick, lotions, and other cosmetic products" (See Wikipedia)
natural - found in nature (not made or created by humans) ตามธรรมชาติ
provide - to give someone something that they want or need

ceramides - "As a bioactive lipid, ceramide has been implicated in a variety of physiological functions including apoptosis, cell growth arrest, differentiation, cell senescence, cell migration and adhesion.[2] Roles for ceramide and its downstream metabolites have also been suggested in a number of pathological states including cancer, neurodegeneration, diabetes, microbial pathogenesis, obesity, and inflammation" (See Wikipedia and pronunciation)

borage oils - "oil is derived from the seeds of the Borago officinalis (borage). It is used medicinally as an anti-inflammatory, for treating arthritis, as well as certain skin conditions (e.g. atopic dermatitis) and respiratory inflammation. It has one of the highest amounts of gamma-linolenic acid (omega-6) of seed oils" (See Wikipedia)

omega six - an essential fatty acid (See Wikipedia)
essential fatty acid -
a fatty acid that the body needs for good health but cannot make itself (See Wikipedia)

mineral oils - "a common ingredient in baby lotions, cold creams, ointments and cosmetics. It is a lightweight inexpensive oil that is odorless and tasteless. It can be used on eyelashes to prevent brittleness and breaking and, in cold cream, is also used to remove creme make-up and temporary tattoos. One of the common concerns regarding the use of mineral oil is its presence on several lists of comedogenic substances," can make acne worse (See Wikipedia)

obstruction - blocking, preventing something to pass or come out
comedones (blackheads)
- "a yellow or blackish bump or plug on the skin. A blackhead is a type of acne vulgaris. Contrary to the common belief that it is caused by poor hygiene, blackheads are caused by excess oils that have accumulated in the sebaceous gland's duct. The substance found in these bumps mostly consists of keratin and modified sebum (an oily secretion of the sebaceous gland), which darkens as it oxidizes. Clogged hair follicles, where blackheads often occur, reflect light irregularly to produce a blackhead's black hue" (See Wikipedia and pronunciation)

barrier - anything that prevents that  อุปสรรค

cosmetic - involving substances, treatments, etc. that which are intended to improve the appearance of your face or body ซึ่งทำให้สวยงาม "include skin-care creams, lotions, powders, perfumes, lipsticks, fingernail and toe nail polish, eye and facial makeup, towelettes, permanent waves, colored contact lenses, hair colors, hair sprays and gels, deodorants, hand sanitizer, baby products, bath oils, bubble baths, bath salts, butters and many other types of products" (See Wikipedia)

make-up - cosmetics that are colored products intended to alter the user’s appearance (See Wikipedia)

base for make-up - foundation, a cream the same colour as your skin that you put on your face before the rest of your make-up to create an even, uniform colour to the complexion, to cover flaws, and, sometimes, to change the natural skintone (See Wikipedia)

claim - saying something is true without proving it yet
free radicals -
"an atom or group of atoms with at least one unpaired electron; in the body it is usually an oxygen molecule that has lost an electron and will stabilize itself by stealing an electron from a nearby molecule; in the body free radicals are high-energy particles that ricochet wildly and damage cells" (See Wikipedia)
Free Radical Theory of Aging (FRTA) -
the theory that living things age because cells accumulate free radical damage over time (See Wikipedia)
neutralise free radicals - make free radicals not dangerous to health
improve - to make better ทำให้ดีขึ้น

skin tone - skin color, "human skin color can range from almost black (in skin with very high concentrations of the dark brown pigment melanin) to nearly colorless (appearing pinkish white due to the blood vessels under the skin.) Skin color is determined primarily by the amount and type of melanin" (See Wikipedia and Fitzpatrick scale)

texture - the quality of something that can be decided by touch เนื้อ
minimise - to reduce something harmful or unpleasant to the smallest amount or degree ลดจำนวนลง, ลดให้เหลือน้อยที่สุด
wrinkle - lines that appear on a person's skin when they get older or when the skin is exposed for long periods to the sun (See Wikipedia )
expression wrinkle - dynamic wrinkles, lines on the face that only become visible when a person makes an expression with their face such as smiling  (Source: Botox Now)
fade - to slowly disappear, lose importance or become weaker อ่อนลง,หายไป,ค่อย ๆ ตาย

pigment - a natural substance that gives colour to something such as paint, skin or hair
pigmentation - the coloration of living tissues by pigment, especially the skin, hair, mucous membranes, and retina of the eye (See Wikipedia and Google Definitions)

regenerative - 1. to develop something again or to bring back to original state, 2. to grow a new part of the body part such as a new organ or skin (See Wikipedia)
undoubtedly - certainly อย่างไม่น่าสงสัย
beneficial - helpful or good มีประโยชน์
lock in - make permanent
active - working, operating, doing some job or task
active ingredients - the substance in a drug that is biologically active, that have a direct effect on the body (See Wikipedia)

skin - ผิวหนัง
delicate - weak, soft, easily damaged นุ่มนวล
delicate skin -
biopeptides -
inhibit -
to make it difficult for a process to start or continue in a normal way, to make it difficult for someone to do something

sunburn -
when a person stays outdoors too long with with sunlight hitting the skin which damages the skin red and hurt, "a burn to living tissue, such as skin, which is produced by overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation, commonly from the sun's rays. Usual mild symptoms in humans and animals include red or reddish skin that is hot to the touch, general fatigue, and mild dizziness. An excess of UV radiation can be life-threatening in extreme cases. Exposure of the skin to lesser amounts of UV radiation will often produce a suntan" (See Wikipedia)

sunscreen -
a cream rubbed into the skin to prevent sunburn; a lotion, spray, gel or other topical product that absorbs or reflects some of the sun's ultraviolet (UV) radiation on the skin exposed to sunlight and thus helps protect against sunburn (See Wikipedia)

sensitive (adjective) - a strong physical reaction or response to something, easily affected by something (here: sun hurts easily)
sensitivity (noun) - skin sensitivity (here: how strongly the skin reacts to sun)
sensitive skin - skin that is easily hurt
irritation - a painful feeling in a part of the body, often with red skin or swelling การทำให้ระคายเคือง,การยั่วโทสะ,การกวนประสาท,การทำให้ฉุนเฉียว,ความระคายเคือง,การอักเสบ

dead-cell layer of the skin - called the "epidermis"
cell - (biology) the basic unit that all living things are made of; either as independent units of life orin colonies (bacteria) or tissues (organs in human body) (See Wikipedia)
skin cell - here meaning the short-lived "Keratinocytes"

Keratinocytes - the main type of cell in the outer epidermis layer of skin (about 95% of the cells), "the primary function of keratinocytes is the formation of a barrier against environmental damage such as pathogens (bacteria, fungi, parasites, viruses) heat, UV radiation and water loss" (See Wikipedia and aging process)

UV -
ultraviolet light or radiation, invisible to the human eye, causes sunburn and contributes to skin aging and cancer, "electromagnetic radiation with a wavelength shorter than that of visible light, but longer than X-rays, in the range 10 nm to 400 nm, and energies from 3eV to 124 eV" (See Wikipedia)

chemical irritants - chemicals that produce an itching and painful feeling in the skin, as well as doing damage to the skin

exfoliation - "the removal of the oldest dead skin cells on the skin's outermost surface, and has been used for many years to help maintain skin. Exfoliation is involved in the process of all facials, during microdermabrasion or chemical peels at medical spas. Exfoliation can be achieved through mechanical or chemical means" (See Wikipedia)

acne -
a common skin condition especially in teenagers marked by pimples, especially on the face, "an inflammatory skin disease that affects the tiny pores that cover the face, arms, back and chest as well as the oil glands attached to them" (See Wikipedia)

- to make certain that something happens or is done รับรอง ให้ความมั่นใจ, ให้การยืนยัน
recommend - to advise someone that they should do something แนะนำ

metabolism - "the set of chemical reactions that happen in living organisms to maintain life, allowing organisms to grow and reproduce, maintain their structures, and respond to their environments" (See Wikipedia)
metabolic rate - the amount of energy expended in a give period, the rate at which a living thing transforms food into energy and body tissue (See Wikipedia)
rate - the level or speed at which something happens or changes, or the amount or number of times it happens or changes in a particular period อัตรา
smooth - completely even (flat or curved) with no lumps or bumps
glow -
to have a nice fresh and bright appearance, to shine with a soft light, glitter, glisten, radiate, beam, twinkle, sparkle จรัสแสง, เปล่งแสง, ฉายแสง, ฉายแสงออกมาอย่างสดใสสว่างแจ่มแจ้ง
(adjective) - having a rough surface that when rubbing another surface; wears away the surface (See Wikipedia)
(noun) - the action of rubbing a surface hard enough to remove it or damage it
scrub - to clean something by rubbing it hard with a brush or other thing
abrasive scrub (noun) - using a rough surface to scrub abd clean other surfaces; exfoliation with an abrasive (See Wikipedia)
slightly abrasive scrub - only a little rough, so only wears away a little of the other surface
harsh - very strong and powerful, with damage possible  อย่างรุนแรง
harsh abrasion - rubbing very hard with damage or change to surface possible

acid - any of various water-soluble compounds having a sour taste and capable of turning litmus red and reacting with a base to form a salt (See Wikipedia)
alpha-hydroxy acid - a class of chemical compounds "well-known for their use in the cosmetics industry, often found in products claiming to reduce wrinkles or the signs of aging, and improve the overall look and feel of the skin, also used as chemical peels available in a dermatologist's office, beauty and health spas" (See Wikipedia)
beta-hydroxy acid -
  "salicylic acid, used in some anti-aging creams and acne treatments" (See Wikipedia)
remove - to take something away เอาออกจาก
concentration - a large amount in a small area, a lot of something in one place แหล่งชุมนุม หรือ ศูนย์รวม
beware - a warning to be very careful, to be very careful about something or someone ระวัง, ระมัดระวัง

dermatologist - a doctor who specializes in dermatology and the treatment of skin diseases and conditions
dermatology - the medical subject or specialty of the treatment of skin diseases (See Wikipedia)
American Board-certified dermatologist - has passed the examinations necessary to practice medicine and be a doctor in the US

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