Skincare today, has reached new heights of desirability. Media hype has pushed words such as ‘miracle ingredient’, ‘organic’, ‘essential oils’, and ‘mature skin’ into every person’s psyche, making routine skincare a very complicated issue.
Most people’s favorite grouse is dehydrated skin… this doesn’t mean your skin lacks water. It just means it is losing too much water, making the surface look dehydrated. It is difficult to make people understand that there is no such thing as ‘gills’ in human beings and we do not breathe with our skin and that any nutrients or medications that do penetrate the skin, do so due to their engineered formulations. These are specially designed vehicles that carry the active ingredients through skin channels.
If various skincare manufacturers are inventing or discovering the ‘miracle ingredient’, why do we need yet another one?
Essential oils are, in reality, aromatic oils that please our senses. Though I am yet to discover how they are beneficial uniformly to all skin types. Conversely, a lot of essences react with UV light and are detrimental to the skin. So do ‘natural’ ingredients.
Common sense tells a person that natural substances are more prone to microbial contamination and degradation, so how are they healthier to use in a skin product unless, you whip up a mixture and use instantly at home. There is no scientific legibility to the term natural. Conversely, raw synthetic substances are not all bad.
Mature skin; who says all skin above the age of 50 is dry? Chronological aging doesn’t occur in skin. It’s the exposure to ultraviolet light, various substances, smoking, and basically use and abuse of the skin. The skin is the largest organ in our body and needs a complex mixture of multiple nutrients to thrive; the key word being multiple, so no one ingredient is great or rather uniformly great for all skin types.
Patients love to listen to well-meaning friends and beauty experts and buy a multitude of creams, gels, serums; the list is endless.
Dermatologists are specialists who have spent a minimum of three years studying the skin, hair and nails in their entirety. So we cover diseases, disorders and cosmetic appearances of the above mentioned. We are actual skin, hair and nail doctors in the pure scientific and medical sense.
But if I tell a patient use this and only this, do not complicate things, the response is mostly, ‘Oh, you don’t seem to know too much.’ And if I prescribe a slightly expensive cream or vitamin, the response is, ‘Why should I use something so expensive?’
Patients need to understand that we, as medicos, study the ingredients and know what works where and how. There are no miracle creams or even non-surgical procedures. Everything takes a bit of time and patience and it’s a harmony or, should I say, a complex interplay of what you apply, what you consume, and what treatments you undergo in a clinic.
My advice is simple…there is no such thing as, ‘My skin is used to this cream, etc.’ If a certain food is good for you, it always will be. So, if you have a skin care routine, which is really not causing any major problems, do not experiment and change it on a whim. If you do want to add a bit of wrinkle prevention or a bit of glow, then do visit a dermatologist for advice.
Day creams are generally infused with sunscreens, or they contain ingredients that commonly do not react with light. Night creams contain ingredients best used away from UV light. Eye creams and neck creams are just formulated for more thinner, sensitive skin and contain less volatile substances, especially eye creams. Scrubs should ideally be used only once a week…
Here’s why: the skin renews itself every 14 days. As part of its function, the topmost layer of the skin, a dead layer, protects the living layers of the integument and acts as a barrier. If you scrub off this protective layer too often, you will expose yourself to the attack of the elements of nature and bacteria, etc., causing rashes, boils, pigmentation, etc. You may also develop allergies because the allergens have penetrated the barrier and your internal systems are exposed and will react.
And as for creams for men, there is no such discrimination whatsoever, unless you add hormones into these creams! Men do have different skin from women in relation to hair distribution, oil gland distribution and a few hormone-based differences. Otherwise, their skin care is just as complex or as simple as one would like it to be.
Men have this preconception that only women use creams or sunscreens, etc. But sirs, please be aware that your skin is equally prone to acne, pigmentation, reactions, etc. as women. So please, take care and don’t be too disparaging in your approach to dermatology.
And finally, please always be aware that a dermatologist is a medical physician with a full medical knowledge of skin, while an aesthetician’s or cosmetic consultant’s knowledge, as we say, runs skin deep only.
But the science of beauty is definitely not skin deep. It traverses realms that are complex and complicated and unfortunately, more realistic and harsh than what is superficially presented to the unsuspecting consumer.