I have recently started advising people (mind you, not prescribing) on Practo Consult. And so far, it has been a joyful ride. Because I have been able to reach out to so many people and help them not only resolve issues but also give them correct information about many skin and hair problems. Funnily, you'd think that in today's day and age, with the web bringing information right at the tip of your fingers, we'd have a better informed population! But alas, like 'too many cooks spoil the broth', too much information, not to mention: unnecessary information, is tainting and poisoning the minds of so many young people that it is unfathomable!
The one thing that almost everyone needs advice on is: GLOWING SKIN!
“How do I get glowing skin?”
The young, the old, the puberty stricken (YES! Alarming but I have had 15 year olds asking me about glow), males, females, transgenders... EVERYONE!
And the second thing that almost everyone needs advice on is: WHAT CREAM SHOULD I USE TO GET THE GLOW?
Day cream? Night cream? Facial creams? Herbal creams? Home made creams? Fairness creams? .... (care to add some of your creams?)
What is this ‘glow’ exactly?
As per the dictionary definition, the word glow is defined as:
(verb) give out steady light without flame
(Noun) a steady radiance of light or heat
So now, looking at the definition, we’d all have to be bulbs or even candles etc to give off a glow?!
I once attended a lecture where my teacher defined the word glow in context with the skin for us:
She said, “Glow is nothing but the reflection of light from a surface.”
And Bingo! It was a plain simple law of physics but upon hearing this all my thoughts and thus my actions as a dermatologist fell into place. Till this time, whenever a patient asked me about ‘wanting a glow’ I got perplexed... speechless at times, because I couldn’t scientifically give an answer. And when I heard the above definition I was reborn (in a way) as a dermatologist!
From then on here is my advice on how to achieve YOUR glow:
1. Wash your face only as needed
99% of my patients come and tell me that whenever they leave the house (even if it is for 10 minutes) and come back they wash their face. Even if they don’t use a soap or a face wash, they are still splashing their face with water. This is one of the commonest mistakes that people do. We really don’t ‘need’ to wash our face so often. If you do, then dry skin tends to get drier and oily skin tends to get oilier. Wash your face as needed. Just because you sweat doesn’t mean you get dirty! If you sweat use a soft cotton cloth and DAB away the sweat. If you get oily, still use a soft cotton cloth and DAB away the oil. This helps in maintaining the Natural Moisturising Factor (NMF) of the skin and keeping it smooth. And a smooth surface means...? Yes a reflective surface! A glowing surface!
2. The role of a sunscreen
We live in a tropical country like India, where the sun is harsh and strong throughout the year. Even in the rains, the UV rays are reaching the surface of the earth through the clouds! So tanning in India is inevitable and thus tanning is something everyone complains of.
“Ye Tan kaise nikalu?” is a favourite question of all my patients. I say that the best way is to PREVENT tanning. It is very difficult to get a tan free skin. If you wanted a tan free skin then you’d have to stay at home 24 hours X 365 days! That’s not possible right? So that’s why I say control the tanning.
Use a sunscreen of more than 20 SPF and apply it 30 minutes before you step out of the house. Better yet, use an umbrella, thick scarf or even a bandana. If you are riding your bike all day long use a helmet! Wearing full sleeves also helps! All those TV commercials that we see, where a pretty fair girl is seen applying a lotion and getting ‘rid’ of her tan is...umm... what do I say... not true. Basically sun protection helps in preventing ageing... this helps in preventing uneven crinkled skin... which means the skin remains smoother for longer... and thus ...Yes it glows!
3. The Moisturising Lotion Saga
Bedtime moisturising ‘can’ be used or ‘needn’t’ be used. Don’t get confused... Understand that dry skins tolerate moisturising lotions far more better than oily skins. So my emphasis is not on one which moisturising lotion to use... but 1) If you need to use a moisturiser in the first place and 2) If yes, then how to use it?
For dry skin, applying the lotion at bedtime helps in filling up the gaps in the NMF and thus restoring the smoothness of the skin.
For oily skin, it’s a little tricky. If you feel that using a moisturiser at night is making you look like an oil pot the next morning... you needn’t use the moisturising lotion at all.
There is no fixed formula to skin care. Use products depending on the demands of the skin. Your skin speaks with you all the time... listen to it and then act! Don’t just blindly go on applying any cream that you see on TV just because someone says it good!
Once you understand the needs of your skin... moisturiser or no moisturiser you will be able to achieve a smooth skin...which means... yes! (I will let you complete the rest!)
4. And the most important bit of them all
It is the need of the hour. I am seeing so many young people with such bad skin despite taking hundreds of treatments and visiting thousands of doctors... why? Because of an unhealthy lifestyle.
Please understand, and I say this with the utmost concern, that late nights, bad eating habits and no exercise is not only leading to dull skin but also to diabetes and blood pressure. I have so many patients who are already diabetics at 30 that I consider this as an epidemic of sorts. Your lifestyle helps keep your hormones in check. If your hormones are working fine then so is your body. If your body is fine so is your skin! Not to mention... you automatically get de-stressed... and that reflects on your face... and then you get a glow!
So there is never going to be only one cream for that glow!
There is never going to be one peel or one laser treatment for that glow!
Listen to your body... Listen to your mind... Listen to your skin .
Your glow lies in your hands.