Frequently Ask Questions
Your doctor told me that after applying your acne creams, my face will get worse first before it can get better, as more pimples will pop out initially. She said this is to clear my clogged pores. I am enduring this now even though the huge and irritating pimples are very depressing. But a friend who used to visit your clinics told me your theory is wrong, because good acne treatment should not create more acne and inflammation in order to reduce them later. She stopped your treatment and visited another doctor, who gave her Oratane, which she said cleared her acne and is giving her good skin now. What is your response?
There are two types of acceptable acne treatment: topical and oral. They are not mutually exclusive and can be used in combination or separately.
Oratane is an oral treatment while our acne creams are topical. Both are offered at our clinics but our recommendations are unique to each patient's personalised care.
Clearing your clogged pores is not the same as creating inflammation and more acne. Our topical acne treatment does not cause acne breakout or inflammation. Without treatment, clogged pores still lead to breakouts but in an uncontrolled manner. Our topical treatment safely clears out clogged pores that are already present, which naturally results in controlled and closely monitored acne breakout. The creams thus reduce the inflammation that would have occurred during breakout. For patients with serious acne, deeper and larger clogs will start clearing after the smaller and shallower ones. If they find the resulting larger pimples difficult to manage, we may prescribe oral antibiotics to reduce the inflammation and give faster results.
Topical treatment has many benefits over oral treatment. Unlike oral treatment, it is safe for long-term use with far fewer side effects. Supervised correctly, it is long-lasting, preventive, renews skin growth and slows down skin aging, leading to smooth, young skin. This of course takes time. Depending on how severe your acne, the initial clearing phase may take 3 weeks to 3 months.
Oral acne treatment gives faster results since it acts through the blood stream. However, it has plenty of well-documented side effects. Further, it does not offer long-term effects—acne often breaks out as soon as the oral medication is stopped.
These are common oral acne medications used in Singapore:
- Oral contraceptive pills: Unless the patient intends to go on contraception or is suffering from hormonal disturbances, this, with its many side effects, is not a good option. It is also not suitable for older patients.
- Isotretinoin (eg Oratane, Roaccutane, Nemegen): This is an effective treatment for severe acne, but is known to cause initial cystic acne breakout if the patient presents with moderate to severe acne. It also has many known side effects. Blood test is a must prior to starting this medication and close medical supervision is essential. There is no guarantee that acne will not break out after stopping the oral medication and patients are encouraged to continue with topical medication to prevent relapses. Isotretinoin is also the most expensive of the oral treatments described here.
- Oral antibiotics: This is a safe supplementary treatment for acute acne flare. However, owing to the potential risk of developing antibiotic-resistant P. Acnes bacteria, it should not be used long-term.
- Spironolactone: This drug is a diuretic, with side effects like gynaecomastia, tiredness, alopecia, nausea, pruritis, changes in libido, headache, breast pain, menstrual disorders, blood disorders, liver and kidney problems.
At Niks, we do accede to patient’s request for oral acne medication after we are satisfied that the patient understands the potential risks involved and will do so under proper medical supervision. For those who have no preference between topical and oral treatments, our first-line treatment is usually topical, unless the acne is severe, in which case oral treatments will be discussed. First-line topical treatment may, where indicated, be supplemented with subsequent oral treatment.
As our topical treatment takes time to work, your friend who used to visit our clinics would be reaping its benefits about the time she receives oral treatment elsewhere, mistaking the topical treatment's delayed effects for that of the oral treatment. We are glad that she is happy with the result.
The Straits Times reported on 30 Nov 2011 that zinc oxide in cosmetics may cause cancer. I notice that several of your products contain zinc oxide. Are they safe to use?
The Straits Times report referred to a study by a Nanyang Technological University team using nanoparticle zinc oxide.
None of our products uses nanoparticles. Nanoparticles raise significant safety issues and there are calls to tighten their use in cosmetics, especially in the European Union. We have consistently resisted deploying nanoparticles in our products and will continue to do so until there is clear consensus regarding their safe use in cosmetics.
Is it true that we will develop long-term dependency by using Niks anti-acne products, in the sense that once we stop using these products, all our acne problems will resurface?
Acne Vulgaris is a skin condition with many possible causes, among them genetics, puberty, hormonal changes, stress, poor mental health and use of inferior skin care products. A great majority of acne cases are caused by underlying factors such as genetics and puberty. Acne therapy cannot eliminate these factors, therefore the resulting acne can be controlled but not eradicated, until after the underlying factors have been resolved naturally, such as the close of puberty. A very small proportion of acne cases are caused by specific medical conditions, which will resolve rapidly with acne therapy, once the medical condition is treated.
For the majority of acne cases caused by long-term underlying factors, proper management is essential, even if eradication is not possible while while underlying factors are present. In the past, the only treatment available for moderate to severe acne was long-term oral antibiotic treatment with many side effects. Now, effective topical skincare products have emerged, which not curb and manage acne effectively but also improve and rejuvenate the skin. These products, with few side effects, form the core of Niks acne therapy and are far superior to long-term oral medication.
Cessation of Niks anti-acne products or switching to inferior products while the underlying acne-causing factors are present will certainly lead to breakouts. This is simple cause-and-effect, not dependence.
Our products are serious, evidence-supported products, not TCM or 'alternative medicine'. Thus, this question cannot logically apply to our products. Why?
Because strictly 'all-natural' cosmetic or skincare products do not exist. To be formulated as creams, natural products must be processed. No skincare product, here or elsewhere, contains only active ingredients. The active ingredients must be mixed with functional ingredients to become creams. Today's functional ingredients are almost always synthetic. Additionally, most 'natural' ingredients advertised elsewhere are no longer obtained naturally due to high costs and poor appearances. Instead, compounds molecularly analogous to the advertised 'natural' ingredients are man-made in laboratories. For example, allantoin, a 'natural' ingredient, is no longer extracted from the root of the comfrey plant but chemically derived from uric acid. Yet it is in every way indistinguishable from its plant-derived counterpart. Similarly, Redoxon was famously the first pharmaceutical company to make Vitamin C synthetically and yet it continues to be recommended by TCM 'traditionalists'.
Therefore, skincare products that claim to be completely natural or organic are dishonest. Because we respect our customers' intelligence and trust, we do not claim to be all-natural or organic but honestly and meticulously label our product ingredients. Unlike some skincare companies that claim to sell 'natural' or 'organic' products, you can be assured that our products are free from microplastics and nanoparticles which are truly harmful to the environment, and that our products are made in highly reputable and specialised laboratories e.g. in the US and Korea.
Where natural ingredients have been scientifically proven to be beneficial or where they can act as fragrances, such as certain herbal extracts, we have added these to our products. However, it is simply not the case that natural is always 'better' than synthetic; as we all know, many natural compounds like THC from the cannabis plant are harmful while completely synthetic compounds such as paracetamol are safe and powerful treatments. Further, some 'all-natural' products, apart from being dishonest, are actually harmful precisely because they are 'all-natural', for example flouride-free toothpaste.
Blemish Concealer is both a concealer and a pimple treatment cream. It can be used primarily as a pimple treatment, or as a concealer/foundation. When used primarily as a pimple cream, it should be used day and night on the affected areas. When used primarily as a foundation/concealer, it should be used in the day only. It can also be used in the day as a foundation, and in the night as pimple treatment.
I have just upgraded to Glycol 12 from another brand of 10% glycolic acid. While I experienced some stinging sensation when I applied my previous 10% glycolic acid product, I have no such sensation when I apply Glycol 12. Does Glycol 12 really contain 12% glycolic acid?
Yes, Glycol 10 and Glycol 12 contain 10% and 12% glycolic acid respectively. To these two products we have added a blend of herbal extracts known to mitigate the irritability of glycolic acid without compromising its efficacy. This is why these two products are far less irritating than other products that contain the same concentrations of glycolic acid.
I am using Citrus Cleansing Lotion and I find that it does not lather very well. I must use a substantial amount to feel that my face is washed cleaned. Any recommendations on how to get the cleanser to lathe well or is it just like that?
Like many of our cleansers, the citrus cleanser is foam-free. It effectively cleanses without lathering which causes dryness. Squeeze out a 20 cent-sized amount and massage gently before rinsing off. After cleansing, your skin should feel smooth and soft with no signs of irritation or tightness.
I am using Glycol 10 and would like to upgrade to Glycol 12 because I find that while Glycol 10 doesn't irritate my skin and is good at keeping pimples at bay, I want a stronger AHA product to target stubborn blackheads. Can I use Glycol 12 in the long run, not so much for lightening scars, but mostly to target blackheads and unclog oily skin? Can Glycol 12 smoothen pitted scars?
Both Glycol 10 and 12 smooth the skin and heal scars; Glycol 12 is stronger in both actions. The choice depends in part on your skin's tolerance for AHA. If your skin is not dry and you have no tolerance issues with Glycol 10, you can start with using Glycol 10 in the day and Glycol 12 at night. If there is no irritation, then it is fine to use long-term. Topical treatment of pitted scars requires long-term use of glycolic products before visible results.
Can you publish on this web site statistics supporting effectiveness of your products, like what the branded products do in their newspaper advertisements?
As we aim to follow high international standards in advertising, we do not publish misleading statistics, results of which are highly dependent on the 'small print' of how the findings were calculated.
For this reason, such publications have fallen afoul of international advertising standards in the past. The UK Advertising Standards Agency in particular is very active in banning such advertisements from certain big-name global cosmetic brands and penalising them with large fines. While Singapore does not have an ASA matching the rigour of its UK counterpart, we do want to meet the standards of the best.
The scientific community has standards on what constitutes a proper scientific/medical study. We only cite studies that meet such criteria, most of which are also published in reputable peer-reviewed journals such as Lancet and NEJM. A set of such journal papers are available for your perusal at Niks Shop Salon. Alternatively if you have academic access to these journals through your university, do feel free to look up our ingredients.
No, but most of our products are free from parabens, which is typically what people mean by 'preservative' in the context of cosmetics.
Parabens include caprylyl glycol, sodium benzoate or iodopropynyl butylcarbamate which are safe and effective preservatives. In the absence of preservatives, there are only two ways to ensure that your cream or serum does not contain bacteria—either the product has an extremely short shelf life or it does not contain water (anhydrous). As is the case with food, water quickly attracts micro-organisms especially in humid climates like Singapore's, unless anti-microbial substances are added, ie preservatives. Some preservatives have other functions (e.g. anti-oxidant or fragrance), so some manufacturers conveniently call them by their other names. Some are natural ingredients (e.g. clove extracts) and so are often not described as preservatives. Even denatured alcohol (methanol-free) at a sufficiently high concentration can serve as a preservative. Regardless of whether manufacturers acknowledge these as preservatives or not, they are in fact acting as preservatives.
Some manufacturers use ingredients like tocopheryl acetate, retinyl palmitate or ascorbic acid as preservatives but misrepresent them as 'anti-oxidants', even though such ingredients cannot possibly have any anti-oxidant effect at those low concentrations. Others use ingredients like phenoxyethanol as preservatives but hide them under 'fragrances' due to their pleasant scent. Still others replace common preservatives with more exotic ones and go on to demand higher prices for being 'preservative-free'.
We take a pragmatic approach and use preservatives appropriate to and cost-effective each product. All the preservatives we use are safe at the concentrations used (based on available peer-reviewed research) and we do not misrepresent them as something else or hide them under other categories.
Niks Vitamin C Nourishing Creme contains stearic acid, which is indicated as pore-clogging in a web site. Is that true? Does the creme aggravate acne-prone skin?
Such so-called 'lists of pore-clogging ingredients' are highly misleading.
Whether something can 'clog pores' depends on a number of factors, including concentration and how they cooperate with other compounds in the product. For instance, if stearic acid is supposed to clog pores, then at what concentrations? And what happens when stearic acid is mixed with other ingredients, as they must in order to form a product? The Nourishing Creme is not 100% stearic acid; it is unhelpful and unrealistic to attempt to check each ingredient off an Internet-acquired list of purported 'pore-clogging' ingredients. Concentrations and co-action between compounds vary from product to product. So there is no such thing as a pore-clogging ingredient, only a pore-clogging product. For us, all our products, including Vitamin C Nourishing Creme, are tested to be non-comedogenic.
Some Niks products contain Sodium Laureth Sulfate. I read that this is very harsh on the skin. Is that true?
Some years ago, there was an email hoax claiming that Sodium Laureth Sulfate was carcinogenic. The hoax was quite quickly put down by health authorities, but from time to time rumours continue to surface that it is bad for the skin. It is true that Sodium Laureth Sulfate is potentially irritating to the skin at very high concentrations. But few skin care products, if any, deploy the ingredient at those concentrations. Sodium Laureth Sulfate is perfectly safe and plays a useful role in pore-unclogging products and we use it in two of our products for acne-prone skin, at concentrations well below the irritation thresholds.
I recently discovered that some of your products contain 'petrolatum', 'liquid paraffin' and 'mineral oil'. Don't these substances clog pores or even cause cancer?
The three refer to a group of similar products. It is false that mineral oil clogs pores or causes cancer. This lie was laid to rest in a paper by Dr Joseph DiNardo, published in the January 2005 issue of the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology. Dr DiNardo found that while industrial grade mineral oil may be comedogenic, cosmetic grade mineral oil is not, and so consumers searching for effective skin care products need not look for those claiming to be 'mineral-oil free'. As for the lie that mineral oil causes cancer, a look at the websites of national consumer watchdogs of major advanced countries such as FDA or UKHSA will give you advisories stating otherwise. Cosmetic-grade mineral oil is one of the most effective moisturizers available in the market.
Camphor Pore Minimizing Masque is suitable. It is not over-drying. However, you need maintenance products to sustain clearer skin. These could be Clear & Refining Toner, Anti-Acne Serum, Vitamin C Serum or Acne Lotion.
Some of your products contain ingredients like cyclomethicone and dimethicone. I read from some web sites that they can cause cancer. Is that true?
The short answer is quite a number of products recommended by The Skin Cancer Foundation of the United States actually contain these ingredients! The official answer is these ingredients are approved for use by both the FDA of the US and the European Commission, not to mention Singapore's Health Sciences Authority. Nearly all of the sites claiming that these ingredients may cause cancer are on a so-called 'natural' or 'organic' agenda.
We urge you to ask a few questions when surfing for skin care information online. Is the web site independent, or out to sell or promote something? Does the site cite any evidence published in a reputable, peer-reviewed medical journal? Is the site sponsored by some commercial entities? Has the information been checked against other independent sites (not sites that look similar or cross-linked) or written sources? Many unscrupulous companies spread lies on the Internet in order to advance their own commercial interests.
What's the difference between Niks Aroma Acne Gel and Niks Anti-Acne Serum? Which helps to unclog blocked pores better?
Niks Aroma Acne Gel soothes and calms inflammation from acne. Niks Anti-Acne Serum combines AHA, BHA, anti-oxidants and multi-vitamins to exfoliate, lighten scars and smoothen and nourish the skin. If you wish to control inflammation and clear clogged pores at the same time, then use Aroma Acne Gel in the day and Anti-Acne Serum at night.
Niks Ultrafine Soothing Cleanser is made from pure plant extracts and is generally suitable for all skin types. However, in the case of acne-prone skin that is not under treatment or control and is oily, the lotion's light milky texture may not appeal. But if the acne-prone skin is dry due to treatment, then the lotion will feel very comfortable. If the skin's acne is not under control and it feels oily most of the time, then Niks Marine Facial Cleanser or Niks Refreshing Sebum Cleanser would be a better choice.
Can Niks Clear & Refining Toner be applied concurrently with another hydrating toner such as Niks Vita C Brightening Spray?
Niks Clear & Refining Toner contains AHA and BHA for smoothening and oil control action, while Niks Vita C Brightening Spray helps brighten the skin, fight free radicals and strengthen collagen. If you wish to have the best of both products, you can apply the former in the day and the latter at night.
If the veins are very small, Anhydrous K Serum twice a day and Vitamin C Nourishing Cream twice a day may improve the veins over a few months. If the veins are larger, laser procedures would probably be required. Meanwhile, if you need to cover up your veins, Niks Shop Salon stocks a wide range of camouflage cosmetics to help you achieve flawless coverage.
Niks Glycol 12 at 12% AHA is for oily skin and Niks Glycol 15 at 15% AHA is for mature skin. Both are not suitable for sensitive skin or dry skin. Niks Shop Salon does not stock products with AHA higher than 15% as we believe that such products are best used with the advice of a physician.
Niks Intensive Barrier Repair Cream is suitable for the face while Niks Anti-itch Oatmeal Moisturizing Cream is suitable for the body. Use of Niks Aroma Shower & Bath Oil for shower or bath offers particularly comforting relief.
What is the difference between the Niks Anhydrous C10 Cream and the Niks Quadri-enriched Revitalising Cream? Are they meant for long-term use?
Niks Quadri-enriched Revitalising Cream is suitable for all skin types and age groups for anti-aging and firming. Niks Anhydrous C10 Cream, which offers stable delivery of L-ascorbic acid through a waterless base, is also aimed at anti-aging and firming. L-ascorbic acid also helps in collagen building, improves uneven skin tone, increases sun protection, reduces wrinkles and helps in healing of new scars. But the C10 is slightly acidic and those with sensitive skin may feel slightly tingling at the beginning. Although this is harmless and their skin will get used to it when texture improves, some may prefer the Quadri-enriched.
Both creams are excellent for long-term use. The longer they are used, the better the results, especially if users are also undergoing low-grade glycolic peel regularly. The mature and middle-age skin will benefit the most. An ideal routine is to use C10 in the day followed by Niks Gentle Sun Protect , and the Quadri-enriched Revitalising Cream at night.
I have oily skin and face blackheads problem (mostly on the nose). Do any of your products target blackheads?
Some of the Niks products that target blackheads are:
|Cleansers||Beta Acne Wash, Refreshing Sebum Cleanser|
|Toners||Clear and Refining Toner, Acne Lotion|
|Serum||Anti-Acne Serum, Vitamin C Serum|
|Treatment gel||Glycol 10, Glycol 12, Aroma Acne Gel.|
|Scrubs||Many to choose from to dislodge blackheads, eg Soft Grain Scrub or scrubs with AHA.|
|Masques||Camphor Pore Minimizing Masque|
The variety of products cater to different degrees of severity. We suggest that you speak to our sales consultants at Niks Shop Salon, who will be able to help you choose products suitable for your condition.
Most of your AHA products are based on glycolic acid. What are the benefits of glycolic acid and does it help scars like acne scar? Is long-term use safe?
AHA stands for alpha-hydroxy acid and is a group of organic carboxylic acids derived from different fruit acids, comprising glycolic acid (from fermented milk), citric acid (from citrus fruits), malic acid (from unripened apples), mandelic acid (from bitter almonds) and tartaric acid (from fermented grapes).
So far glycolic acid is the most popular anti-ageing and whitening acid used in skin care products. Physicians worldwide have established that regular use of glycolic acid can result in significant improvement in skin appearance. It can also be used to treat acne scars. However, it may cause some irritation to the skin, which is largely harmless. We have AHA products in different concentrations to suit different skin types. Please consult our sales consultants at Niks Shop Salon for the products that suit you. AHA has been around for four decades and so far there has been no report of adverse long-term effect when used properly.
For Niks products that dissolve scar tissues, is it the case that the stronger the concentration of the glycolic acid, the more effective the product will be?
Other than concentration, the effectiveness of glycolic acid in treating scars also depends on scar type, acidity of the product, form of the glycolic acid (neutralized or not, esterified or not) and skin tolerance. We invite you to consult our sales consultants in Niks Shop Salon to select the products that suit you best.
Niks Anhydrous K Serum contains high concentrations of vitamin K1 and retinol in a stabilised waterless base and is best suited for dark circle.
Niks Golden Wrinkle Drops contains retinol with a moisturizing base and is ideal for fine lines and dehydrated lower eye bag.
Niks Intensive Firming Eye Cream contains powerful peptides that target both photo-damaged and aging wrinkles.
Niks Wrinkle Capsule, in a convenient capsule format, contains anti-wrinkle peptide in a ceramide base that also relieves skin dryness.
Niks Double Action Eye Cream, which employs peptides and specialised plant extracts to tackle dark circle and puffiness in the eye. Hyaluronic acid and anti-wrinkle peptides are added to complete it as a comprehensive anti-aging eye treatment.
|Scar Type||Recommended Products|
|Acne scars||Glycol 10, Glycol 12 and Glycol 15 treat different grades and types of acne scars.|
|Post-peel burns, post-IPL or post-laser scars||Golden Lipid Complex, Moisturizing and Repair Cream and Golden Wrinkle Drops are suitable|
|Bruises||Anhydrous K Serum and products with L-ascorbic acids, like Vitamin C Nourishing Crème, Vitamin C Serum and Anhydrous C10/C20 are suitable.|
|Dehydrated scars||Quadri-Enriched Revitalizing Cream, which contains copper derivatives, helps the healing.|
I am currently using Niks Glycol 12, Niks Citrus Cleansing Lotion and Niks Aroma Acne Gel. I am experiencing tiny bumps over my cheeks area, which I have not experienced before. Does use of the above products cause outbreaks of tiny bumps on the face before the acne can be completely healed? Is the AHA or tretinoin forcing clogged pimples to surface first before they can be completely healed?
If you had had comedomes on your cheeks before, the products you use will cause the comedomes to be extruded and surface slowly. This may happen for 6-8 weeks.
If, in addition to what you have described, you also have signs of dryness and itchiness, then the breakout could be due to over-exfoliation. In that case, you should stop the AHA and tretinoin temporarily. After the itch has disappeared, you can resume less frequent use of the AHA and tretinoin products, eg on alternate days instead of daily. You should also use moisturizer and sunscreen to protect your skin. If the problem persists, please visit Niks Shop Salon to consult our Sales Consultants or consult our doctor.
Does Niks Vitamin C Serum contain BHA? If it does, are there other Niks Vitamin C products suitable for acne-prone skin?
Niks Vitamin C Serum contains 8% pure L-ascorbic acid with a mixture of other Vitamin C ingredients. It also contains low concentration of BHA for the purpose of oil control. Owing to the combination of ingredients, it does not behave like ordinary BHA products and does not cause drying and flaking. It is recommended for acne-prone skin and you need not worry about the BHA in this moisture-rich serum.
Some of the other Niks Vitamin C products are:
- Niks Vitamin C Nourishing Crème has no BHA and is a very light-weight moisturizer with anti-inflammatory plant extracts. It is soothing and calming, with rich anti-oxidants.
- Niks Anhydrous C10/C20 Creams have high concentration of Vitamin C and are ideal for acne scar treatment.
- Niks Intensive Face-lift Complex incorporates a newer form of Vitamin C, C-ester. It also contains three other powerful anti-oxidants.
- Niks BCE Serum with Ferulic Acid contains 20% Vitamin C stablilised by ferulic acid.
To deal with pigmentation, it is mandatory to use sunblock everyday everywhere, indoors or outdoors. Otherwise, sunlight will render whatever whitening creams you apply ineffective.
The following substances (in descending potency) have proven whitening effects through inhibiting the production of melanin:
- Kojic acid
- Retin A or isotretinoin cream (doctor’s prescription only)
- Mandelic acid
- Glycolic acid
- Vitamin C
- Mulberry acid
- Licorice extract
- Azelaic acid
It has been established that combinations of these substances increase whitening effectiveness without increasing skin irritation. We have a wide range of such combination creams to combat pigmentation of different skin types and ages.
I have dry and sensitive skin and itch all over my body and face. What kind of skin care products should I use and avoid?
If you are suffering from any of the following:
- Atopic eczema
- Photodermatitis (sensitive to sun exposure, ie your face turns red and itchy after exposure to the sun)
- The skin is just dry and itchy without other visible skin abnormality (eg "fishscale-like" skin appearance on both shines)
You should, in your choice of skin care products,
- avoid offending substances
- stick to simple products (preferably fewer than 10 ingredients)
- use chemical-free sunscreens, preferably physical block with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide
- opt for milder surfactants
- adopt anti-irritants like aloe vera, allantoin, chamomile and bisabolol
The following ingredients, though serving specific purposes on other skin types, may cause irritation in sensitive skin:
|Aromatics||Menthol, benzyl alcohol, cinnamates|
|Penetrants||Propylene or butylene glycol, alpha-hydroxy acids (AHA)|
|Surfactants||Sodium lauryl sulfate, quaternary ammonium compounds|
|Sunscreens||PABA (para-aminobenzoic acid), benzophenones, cinnamates|
|Abrasives||Polyethylene beads, bismuth oxychloride, mica|
|Others||Tretinoin, benzoyl peroxide|