Aussie dermatologist shares common misconceptions about skincare

If you thought Australians were pretty good at looking after their skin, you might want to think again. 

Dermatologist-developed skincare brand, CeraVe, carried out a global cleanser survey which was conducted among 10,000 consumers across 23 countries, and the results are surprising!

The survey found that cleansing routines are more of a priority for individuals in Asia and Eastern Europe, where virtually all report washing their faces daily, while the UK, US, Australia and Nordic countries are least likely to do so.

Also hot water tends to be most used for cleansing the face in France, Nordic countries, US, UK and Australia.

So, in an effort to breakdown how we should be looking after our skin, BD spoke to leading Australian dermatologist, Dr Ryan De Cruz, about the most common skincare misconceptions, his number one skincare secret, and why we really need to rethink cleansing with hot water.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your career background?

I am a Specialist Dermatologist, a Fellow of the Australasian College of Dermatologists (FACD). After completing my medical degree at The University of Melbourne, I undertook part of my Dermatology advanced training in London, where I saw a huge variety of skin conditions, in many different skin types and colours. 

I then returned to Melbourne to work at The Royal Melbourne Hospital. In November 2020, I opened our state-of-the-art centre, Southern Dermatology, in Murrumbeena, Melbourne. It is a multi-disciplinary clinic with Dermatologists, Plastic Surgeons, Dermal Clinicians and Cosmetic Nurses.

We see everything from skin cancer to eczema, psoriasis, hair loss and alopecia, to acne, rosacea, and paediatric Dermatology. I LOVE what I do and feel very privileged to be able to help patients of all ages, backgrounds, and skin-types to achieve health and vitality. 

What's the number one skin condition you see in your clinic?

Skin cancer and acne are among the most common skin conditions we see at Southern Dermatology, followed by eczema and psoriasis.

What is a common misconception about skincare you often hear?

That if a product is expensive, it must be good! This is a real bugbear of mine.

Good quality skincare doesn’t have to be costly – in fact, there are many fantastic products available at every-day pharmacies which are far better than the department-store or online brands.

What's the purpose of double cleansing? Who should be doing this?

Double-cleansing is a technique originally developed in Korea, whereby an oil-based cleanser is used to help removed make up before a foaming or cream-based cleanser is used.

The theory behind this is that thick make up is often not adequately removed in a single wash.

It is not an essential step but may be helpful for those women who do apply a number of different cosmetics and have difficulty fully removing them prior to sleep. 

Aussies tend to cleanse with hot water - is there a difference in results between hot and cold water? What's the ideal method?

Hot water tends to dry the skin out more, compared to cold water, and therefore the ideal temperature is somewhere in between – not too hot, but not too cold – just lukewarm.

Overheating the skin can trigger conditions such as acne and rosacea, and commonly leaves the skin more dehydrated. Cold water is simply not that pleasant, but won’t necessarily aggravate the skin.

I recommend 30 seconds of warm water with a gentle, soap-free cleanser once to twice per day, depending on one’s skin type. 

It's winter, so is sun protection still important?

Yes absolutely! Despite the cooler weather in Winter, our UV index in Australia can still reach dangerous levels, causing sun damage, photo-ageing, skin cancer and pigmentation.

Using SPF50+ sunscreen that is broad-spectrum (including both UVA and UVB wavelengths) is an excellent habit to get into 365 days of the year.

It is by far the most cost-effective and researched anti-aging technique but will also prevent the development of skin cancer and pigmentation. 

What about when we're stuck at home?

When indoors it is not critical to use sunscreen, however, if you do suffer from a pigmentation condition such as melasma, it is worth applying a tinted BB cream with SPF50+, which protects against visible light.

Visible or white light is emitted by light globes and computers and has been shown to aggravate pigmentation. 

And finally, what’s your number one skincare tip?

Keep it simple! If you have normal skin, you probably don’t need a thousand products – just pick one good sunscreen, basic soap-free cleanser and moisturiser. Anything extra is a bonus for anti-aging but does come at a cost.

If you have a skin condition, however, don’t be fooled by fancy marketing, celebrity endorsements or Influencers – get an accurate diagnosis and medical management plan that is tailored to you and your skin-type.

You won’t regret it and will save hundreds if not thousands of dollars in the process.

Main image source: Getty.