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A novice’s guide to scientific skin care

The what, why and how of basic skin care.

 

The legendary Prince once said, “It takes years to become an overnight success”, this is true for all walks of life including the health of your skin.

The online and offline market places are full of ‘instant solutions’ for every conceivable skin care need. But in my years of practice as a dermatologist, I am still to come across any true miracle cures that can solve skin problems instantly.

The only thing that truly works miracles are consistent skin care habits.

Good Girls (and Boys) Start Early

The earlier one starts with a proper skin care routine the more one can stave off any external interventions in later life. Good skin care is all about habits and I encourage my patients to start with healthy skin care habits right from their teens. Having said this, if you are past your pimple popping years, the right time to start on a good skin care regimen is NOW.

Things to know before you start your skin care journey.

The first thing to do before your start on any skin care regimen is to know your skin type. Here are simple tips to know your skin type:

  • You have oily skin if: Your T-zone (forehead, nose, chin) and the C-zone (outer area of the face) are oily to touch or shiny in the morning.
  • You have dry skin if: Your entire face feels stretched or taut in the morning.
  • You have combination skin (most people do) if: Your T-zone feels oily but the C-zone feels taught or stretched.

The second thing to know is the fact that scientific skin care is based on five pillars which never change.

  1. Hygiene
  2. Nutrition & Hydration
  3. Protection
  4. Exfoliation
  5. Restoration

Skin Hygiene is a lot more than showering two times a day.

  • People with oily skin and acne prone skin need to keep their face clear of excess oil production with the aid of mild cleansers and gentle face wipes through the day. This ensures that your face stays clear of any bacterial growth.
  • A cardinal rule of skin care is that one should never ever fidget with pimples or boils on their skin. This can lead to the spread of bacteria to other parts and also can cause serious scarring of the skin.
  • Rubbing of skin with your hands, towels or due to tight clothes can lead to serious issues with pigmentation and texture of your skin.
  • Clothes that do not breathe or retain sweat can lead to skin infections. Always make sure that your clothes and your skin are free of sweat and extra moisture (think damp clothes)
  • Always pay special attention to the areas in the folds of your body. (behind your ears, your underarms, your groin, between your fingers and toes) These are the areas that are generally easily affected by infections.
  • Also as a part of hygiene one should remember to always clear their skin of makeup before they sleep, as makeup tends to block the pores of the skin and can cause complications.

You are, what you eat and drink… but not in the way you imagine.

The single line advice that I give to my patients about nutrition and its relation to the health of your skin is to always opt for a balanced diet that does not favour a particular food group. Fad diets which favour a particular macro nutrient tend to have disastrous results on the health of your skin. Your skin like the rest of your body absolutely needs carbohydrates, proteins, and fats to maintain its health.

As for micro nutrients, I do recommend that one should opt for foods which are rich in vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, and antioxidants. The health of the skin in terms of its barrier function, its elasticity, and its oxidative stress levels depends on the consumption of these micro nutrients.

Regarding water intake, the general guidelines that one should try following are consuming about 2.5 liters of water per day for women and 3.5 liters of water per day for men. Water consumption plays a major role in the hydration levels of the skin and its bio-mechanical functioning.

Moisturizer and Sun Screen, your skin’s guardians.

The role a moisturizer and sunscreen play in the health of your skin is much more important than any serum or lotion that you will ever come across.

Moisturizers in general help maintain the moisture level in the upper layers of the skin and hence help maintain a smooth skin free of any inflammation or itching. More importantly, a moisturizer slows down the process of wrinkle and line formation.

Meanwhile, a good sunscreen goes a long way in reducing damage to your skin from exposure to UV rays. Such exposure leads to pigmentation issues and premature ageing of the skin.

While I would recommend speaking to your dermatologist to help you select a good moisturizer and sunscreen, as a thumb rule I would request you to never buy a moisturizer based on the packaging and how it is marketed. I always recommend that my patients buy a moisturizer which is from a major trusted pharmaceutical brand which has been adequately tested for performance and safety.

One should remember that a moisturizer should be applied every day immediately after showers and then as per need. While every time you step out you should apply a layer of sunscreen on all exposed parts of the body. Also remember that no matter what the season both sunscreens and moisturizers need to be applied.

Exfoliate, but gently.

Rubbing and Scrubbing are probably the worst thing that one can do their skin. Exfoliation of skin needs to be gentle in nature else it can lead to issues like hyperpigmentation of degrading the texture of your skin. I recommend that one should use gentle face washes, toners, and cleansers with very mild levels of alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta-hydroxy acids (BHAs).

In case a stronger exfoliation is needed for your skin then it should be done in your dermatologist’s clinic. The dermatologist may recommend chemical peels or microdermabrasion if such a need arises.

Time to restore your skin

Ageing and environmental exposure takes its toll on the health of our skin. However, now there is adequate number of skin care products with ingredients that can help stave off the signs of ageing and skin damage for a long time. I commonly recommend serums with the below ingredients to patients above the age of 25.

  • Vitamin C: This reduces the oxidative stress on your skin and also increases collagen synthesis. These features help control the melanin formation in your skin and also help decrease formation of fine lines and wrinkles.
  • Retinoids: These are derivatives of vitamin A which encourage cellular turnover and stimulate collagen production. This is often hailed as an elixir for anti-ageing.
  • Hyaluronic Acid: Is a molecule that can hold large quantity of moisture and help it penetrate into the deeper layers of the skin and hence effectively making the skin more hydrated and supple.

There are a large number of other targeted skin care products that help resolve issues ranging from acne, eczema, dark circles, etc. But I sincerely recommend that such products should only be used under the guidance of a dermatologist.

The Sequence of a Skin Care Routine.

Not only are the products you use important for your skin care routine, but also the sequence in which these products are used.

A basic morning time skin care routine can look like:

  1. Gentle Face Wash
  2. Gentle Soap for the body
  3. Full Body Moisturizer
  4. Targeted Corrective Serums
  5. Light Moisturizer for Face
  6. Sunscreen

A basic night time skin care routine can look like:

  1. Makeup Removal
  2. Cleanser / Mild Facewash
  3. Targeted Corrective Serums
  4. Moisturizer for Face and Body

Things to never try in your skin care regimen

  • Over the Counter Medications and Skin Care Products: I always urge my patients to stay away from such products as the ingredients in these products is generally not understood by most patients and some of these can contain harsh ingredients as well as have steroids in them. Which can lead to irreparable damage to one’s skin.
  • Home Remedies: I sincerely believe that if one has an issue and needs a solution, they should go to an expert. Most home remedies serve to act as placebos while some can worsen the condition that they were mean to help and hence should be avoided.
  • Comparing Skin Care Regimens: As they say one man’s food is another man’s poison. The same holds true for skin care products too. It is best to speak to a dermatologist rather than your friend when starting a new skin care product.

Perhaps the most important advice I can impart about skin care is best captured by the phrase “Today is the first day of the rest of your life.” I can assure you that with a consistent and good skin care routine your dream skin is well within your reach no matter when you start.

Disclaimer:

The objective of this article is to educate the reader and help them make wiser choices under the guidance of a trained dermatologist. It is not meant to be used by patients for self-diagnosis or for avoiding proper medical treatment. The images used in the above blog are only for visual representation purposes. Actual procedures and results may vary from patient to patient.

About Dr. Sejal Saheta and InUrSkn:

Built on more than a decade of experience of Dr. Sejal Saheta, we are an honest and affordable skin and hair care clinic in Powai, Mumbai. Our goal is to make each patient comfortable and happy with their appearance with the least amount of intervention.

Dr. Sejal Saheta has dual degrees of MD and DNB in dermatology and venereology and has worked alongside some of the senior-most doctors at the largest hospitals in Mumbai.

Located in Powai, InUrSkn is the largest skin and hair clinic in the central suburbs of Mumbai and offers the latest technology in the safety of world-class infrastructure.

We are happy to be a part of your journey to reach your health goals. If you think we have been able to help you, please do review us:

On Practo: http://prac.to/vkpj

On Google: https://goo.gl/zHfACo

How can Dr. Sejal and InUrSkn help?

No matter what your skin and hair needs, Dr Sejal Saheta ensures personal attention to each patient and creates customized and scientifically-backed treatment plans for each patient. Through her years of experience and use of technology at her clinic (InUrSkn – Skin and Hair Clinic) located in Powai, Mumbai, she has been able to consistently deliver great results in the field of dermatology and trichology to thousands of patients. All of the above is done with the best-in-class machines within the comfort and safety of world-class infrastructure.