Great skin is not simply a matter of DNA – your skincare rituals reflect what you see in the mirror. Taking care of your skin is as important as taking care of any part of your body. Moreover, skincare is simply personal. It does not matter whether you take a minimal approach towards it or an ethical approach; one thing remains universal – we all need to grab the best practices for achieving healthy, radiant skin.
While innovation is a beautiful thing, there’s always a new ingredient, technique, or product coming up with a troop of skincare tips to go along with it. As taking care of our skin ranks fairly high on the to-do list for millennials nowadays, we reached out to a very famous celebrity dermatologist and author from Mumbai, Dr Jaishree Sharad to dive into all the advice and time-tested information she’s learned throughout her career. From busting myths to giving us super helpful tips – she’s got us covered!
The skin is the largest organ of the body. Dr Jaishree says, “In fact, it is the mirror to the inside happenings of your body which protects you from pollution, UV rays and whatnot.” Choosing the right products according to one’s skin type is very essential. She tells us that skin classification is not just about skin types like dry, oily, sensitive, etc., as proposed by Dr Leslie Baumann, but there are 16 subtypes which is why we can’t just buy any random product. Moreover, “Your skin always talks to you, and you have to listen to it.” So, if a product gives you a burning or tingling sensation, a rash, itching, or if you have acne and you develop whiteheads, then obviously that product is not for you, even if it says it’s for your skin type. She insisted that if we have any of the mentioned symptoms, then the product use must be stopped.
We also noticed how people nowadays are on the trail of sustainable skincare and we asked Dr Jaishree about her views. She says, “Sustainable skincare is something that’s going to last with long-term results and no side effects. Still, people are reluctant to use them before they get the hype and results. Yet, some people randomly pick products in the name of sustainability. On the other hand, ethical products are those where there’s a lot of research that has gone into them. What we do is ethical, and so I would always recommend going to a dermatologist because they will evaluate your skin and give you the right kind of products.”
Viral skincare hacks
With the advent of technology in every sphere, skincare was the last to get hit. Social media is a good way to become aware of new and upcoming trends. Unfortunately, we see these viral skincare hacks on Instagram and TikTok, which are being followed blindly nowadays.
However, before following trends, it’s essential to understand the science behind them, says Dr Jaishree says who busted some of these hacks. “All these dark Instagram skin hacks make no sense; like drinking chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is a product used for photosynthesis by plants and is rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and copper. So, essentially, it’s great for the skin, but will it be appropriately metabolized and have its benefits on the skin if you use some synthetic chlorophyll? There is a study that shows that if you have chlorophyll, your mild acne, blackheads, and whiteheads would probably reduce to a certain extent, but your cystic acne, nodular acne, and hormonal acne will not go away.”
“Another chlorophyll cream was being applied to some people as a trial. They found that it calmed your blackheads, but it did nothing to anti-ageing fine lines or wrinkles and did not bring up the glow to your skin as it is marketed. Some people even developed irritant contact dermatitis, like a reddish, itchy rash on the skin. So right now, there is no such authentic study. So, I think we should stick to having chlorophyll from lettuce, spinach, celery, and kale rather than buying chlorophyll from the market.“
Another one is the Gua sha and the Jade roller, which people are using all the time because they think it gets their sagging under control and makes their skin look firm, but all that doesn’t happen with the gua sha and a jade. These are ancient Chinese tools used for muscle relaxation, joint pains, and muscle pain, that when used to an extent, causes bruising if done very intensely. This would release a wound healing response and improve joint pains and muscle pains. However, someone decided to use it on their face, and suddenly it became this big rage! A Gua sha or jade is great to reduce puffiness on the face, but only temporarily. Just as you have blood vessels, you have lymphatic vessels, which sometimes get clogged with age or a bad lifestyle like smoking and alcohol intake. So, when the lymph fluid is clogged on the face, it looks puffy or swollen. However, this tool is not going to reduce your fine lines or do some magic.
Icing is another hack. Many people ice their face, which is great if there’s a swelling or a bruise as it reduces puffiness to a certain extent but again, temporarily. It doesn’t do anything beyond that; it neither reduces your acne nor makes your lines disappear.
Applying toothpaste to acne is also not suggested because it causes irritant contact dermatitis. The acne subsides because it has baking soda. However, toothpaste has certain alcohols. So, it drives up the acne, but it leaves a lot of dark black marks, and then you have to treat that, which doesn’t make sense. Moreover, the same thing happens when you apply lime or lemon, which has citric acid which makes it worse by burning the skin.
Lastly, double cleansing is becoming very popular these days. People use a cleansing oil, and then they will use a face wash, but if you have normal, dry, or sensitive skin, double cleansing will only damage the upper layers of the skin. So, it’s really not worth it unless you have very oily skin and you’ve got two layers of makeup on your face!
Also, something dangerous happening these days is that people are using 1.5 mm derma rollers at home. And then we get these DIY filler syringes that are available, and people are trying to inject fillers at home on their own. This has not yet happened in India, but people trying it are developing significant side effects – infection, sepsis, and swelling. These are treatments that should be done in the clinics by a reputed professional or a well-trained dermatologist. So don’t play with your skin.
However, she shared some safe home remedies with us to take care of our skin. She tells us, “For acne, you can try neem or tulsi leaves and aloe vera.” If you have a tan, you can apply a mixture of yoghurt with a pinch of turmeric. Apply it to whichever part is tanned, leave it for about 15 minutes and then wash it off. You’ll see results in a couple of weeks. However, if you are acne-prone or have very oily skin, you should avoid yoghurt on the face and use a chemical exfoliant to get the tan off. If you are looking for an instant glow, then go for mashed papaya and apply it directly, leave it for about 10-15 minutes and wash it off to get warm dewy skin. It has got vitamin A and vitamin C which brightens the skin.
Rice is beneficial to deep cleanse or exfoliate your skin. For that, take rice and Masur lentils (Masur ki dal) and make a powder out of them. Mix these two with a little water or rose water, and then you can use it as a mild scrub. Aloe vera can be used too; just break it, take the gel and apply it. Lastly, you can use cucumber slices or tea bags under the eyes. They are safe, and cucumber has many antioxidants, which temporarily reduces the puffiness and helps make the eyes look a little fresher. At the same time, tea bags have caffeine, which will gradually help in reducing dark circles. “However, I do not advocate the use of lime or lemon, tomatoes, potatoes, and garlic. If luck is not on your side and if your skin is a little sensitive, these ingredients can cause more harm to you.“
Packaging of skincare products
Apart from the ingredients in the products we use, packaging attracts consumers to a considerable extent on which Dr Jaishree suggested, “There are certain pharmaceutical low-cost industries which will lay more emphasis on packaging, marketing, and PR and we do not know what kind of research has gone behind the product itself. So, there’s a grey line there.” Any product from a good brand has a lot of research and has very pure and organic raw materials, giving better results than any random synthetic product. So, it’s imperative to understand where this product is coming from. She prefers things in a bottle than in a jar because the chances of contaminating that jar and the product inside it are higher whenever we open it compared to spoiling something in a bottle.
Moreover, if we take it with a drop-off, or if it’s a spray, then the chances of contamination are even less. “So, I think that kind of packaging does matter. I’m not too sure of the look. Some people love to go by the looks that are eye-catching and tempting, but I will look at the science behind the packaging as a professional. As people from science, we believe in a lot of authenticities and a lot of science. If somebody just reads a social media blog and says this is great, then starts using it and then blogging about it, that’s not something I appreciate.”
Dr Jaishree also enlightened us about zero-waste skincare, which she is not in complete favour of as a dermatologist. According to her, whatever skincare is gonna last, it’s gonna last you for a particular amount of time. It has its expiry date, and you have to throw it, be it natural or organic. “You can’t have an orange in a jar for over maybe one day or two days; it will rot. I don’t think zero-waste skincare is going to be something creative. It’s very nascent as you could end up with irritants, contact dermatitis, allergies, rashes, hikes; after all, everything has a shelf life.”
Many innovations are going on in the field of skincare, out of which the most common is Botox in a bottle, Dr Jaishree tells us. There are no such liquids in the world that will look like a filler or Botox, but in times to come, with all the research, we are waiting to see that happen.
Skin Talks and Skin Rules
Dr Jaishree has also published two of her own books, namely Skin Talks and Skin Rules. Skin Talks is a complete skin Bible, which was released in 2015. There’s a lot of information in it, right from how to identify your skin type to what kinds of cleansers and moisturizers you should use. Part one has the skin dictionary to understand the various labels and the various tones of your skin and the enemies of your skin, followed by part two, which is about nagging beauty problems, acne, hyperpigmentation, dark circles, dark ankles and knees, stretch marks and skincare in your twenties, thirties, forties, and so on. Subsequently, she talked about skincare in various seasons, skincare rituals from morning to night, diet and skin, and then there’s a skincare ritual for brides and grooms. However, this book is for people who like to read a lot in depth and are very curious about skincare.
On the other hand, Skin Rules has been a recent bestseller and is much easier to read with easy fonts, illustrations, and tables. It’s a six-week journey of a bride Nikki where she’s trying to understand and treat her skin so that it looks its best and radiant self on her big day. While reading her journey, you will gain a lot of simple, nice tips on how to know your skin, different labels that are on your products, serums you should use, all about exfoliation, makeup-removing rituals, food, exercise and home remedies, lifestyle and finally all the skin treatments, whether it’s laser, music therapy, skin boosters, fillers or Botox.
Speaking about gender bias in skincare, she says, “All genders have skin. Hence, skincare is for every gender. Having said that, can men use women’s products? Yes, of course. Now people are talking about gender-neutral products, so it really doesn’t make a difference. Men have more oil glands, and their skin is thicker, which is why they probably need products for dry skin or normal skin, but a woman’s products for dry skin and normal skin can be used by men.”
Do’s of skincare
She also enlightened us with some basic skincare tips like:
Things that you should always carry in your bag
Thermal water mist, sunscreen, lip balm, moisturizer & bio-degradable organic wet wipes.
One skincare myth that you want to bust
“Drinking a lot of water is going to make my dry skin more hydrated” – You may drink eight litres of water, but the upper layers of your skin need more moisture from outside. Hence, no matter how much water you drink to hydrate yourself, it won’t work if your skin is not moisturized.
Morning and night skincare routine
The primary morning routine should be cleansing. Use a face wash and cleanse your face, followed by a moisturizer that is good for your skin and sunscreen.
At night, you must remove your makeup and cleanse. You can use any serum – an under-eye serum or a full-face serum – and follow it up with either a moisturizer or with a specific cream according to your skin type.
The most essential skincare step of all
Sunscreen – 365 days. I tell my patients that even if they forget to eat and drink, don’t forget to put on sunscreen.
One skincare mistake that everyone should stop
Overdoing and over-treating the skin must stop. People use four different creams and layering the face with many products, which are not essential and leads to complete havoc on the skin. Thereby, people end up with reactions like pigmentation or acne. So, I advise you to keep it simple.
Giving so many insights into skincare, Dr Jaishree concluded by advising, “Do not try to imitate anyone or read different social media blogs, Instagram reels and get carried away. You need to understand your skin and the ingredients your skin needs and use skin-specific products. Consult with a dermatologist to keep it simple and holistic. You need to eat healthy, sleep on time, exercise, ensure a healthy lifestyle, quit smoking and drinking, because this is equally important rather than just some skincare. And the most important thing is to stay happy and cheerful because it really shows on the skin.“
You may do thousands of treatments on your face, but if you’re not happy from within, if you are not positive, or if you have a lot of negativity within you, it will always reflect on the face. So, remember to stay happy and positive!