In the second of a three-part series, we show you how to look like a million bucks, without spending a million on lotions and potions
Choose coloured foods over plain old white creams
Pay as much attention to what you feed your face, as you do to what you put on it, says dermatologist Dr Kamlesh V Bhagat. “Everyone knows that they need to have more greens — vegetables and salads. But it's also important to get your beta carotene from coloured fruits, so that your skin retains its lustre and luminosity.” Plums, carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers and olives all taste yummy, and cost far less than the genie in the bottle being advertised in glossy magazines.
Keep it clean and simple
Unless you’re suffering from acne or any specific kind of skin concern, don't fret too much over your cleanser. “You just need a cleanser with a neutral pH [Clinique, Neutrogena and Dove all make them],” says Bhagat. Additions like tea-tree oil, neem, fruit extracts and unicorn hair (just kidding) are all very well but “choose a reputed brand,” he adds. “It doesn’t have to be the most expensive one, but it has to be a brand that is serious about skincare.”
Sunny side up
“Don't scrimp on sunscreen,” says Bhagat. “Buy a minimum of SPF 15, from a brand known for making high-quality sun protection products, and use it regularly.”
Indian skin also needs protection from UVA, which ups your risk of skin cancer and photodermatitis, Bhagat says. Labels that list zinc oxide, avobenzone or titanium dioxide instead of wishy-washy ‘natural sunscreens’, sandalwood and random plant extracts, will offer better value for money — and better skin protection. “Sunscreen not only shields your skin from the sun, but also from damage from cosmetics,” Bhagat adds. “Don’t forget to apply it on your neck too.”
“Don’t get carried away by pretty bottles and film stars,” says Bhagat. “If you have a specific skin concern, like wrinkles, pigmentation, dark circles, acne, dry patches, discolouration and dullness, your money is much better spent at a dermatologist who will prescribe a specific cream, and not an over-the-counter masala cocktail that claims to banish six age signs, 12 fairness concerns and the likes. What most people can safely pick up from stores is a daily hydrating cream. Use one that is specifically formulated for the face, get a body lotion for everywhere else. Hands, nails, feet etc don’t need additional products.” Oh, and you don’t need night cream unless you’re older than 25.
Raid the kitchen, not the beauty counter
Dermatologist-approved skincare starts at home. “Milk cream to soften lips, honey and cream face packs for dry skin, pure home-ground turmeric face packs for blemishes and mashed tulsi leaves for general skin health,” recommends Bhagat. “Remember, this is short-contact therapy — keep it on for not more than three-to-five minutes.”
Happy thoughts make for happy skin, believes Bhagat. “Why else do we find brides-to-be with such a happy glow of anticipation?” he says. Meditation dials down stress and prevents imbalances from showing their symptoms on your skin. Sleep lets the body (and the skin) repair itself “so little problems today don’t escalate to expensive treatments tomorrow”. And two litres of water a day is all your skin needs — don’t over hydrate or you’ll flush out the good stuff too.