How to navigate a noisy beauty industry

Keeping it simple is often the key to good skin care. But today we’re being offered jaw-dropping choices, from Ayurveda-inspired “natural” skin care products to what looks like a chemistry lab’s entire inventory. Dr. Kiran Sethi, MD, Aesthetics and Skin Specialist at Isya Aesthetics, offers some answers in her new book, sense of skin, published by HarperCollins India. The book was written as a skin care manual and is filled with easy and practical advice.

Dr Sethi discusses how skin care has changed over the years and which rules remain the same.

How has skin care changed?

Over the past 10 years, skin care has changed completely. Ten years ago, people only wanted natural solutions. They wanted home remedies, they wanted DIY, and active skin care was frankly unknown. Yogurt packs were the norm and sunscreen was a new concept. Most people were also shy about treatments and lasers (forget botox and fillers), which were considered unnecessary and “scary”.

Today, lasers and other technology-based facials will not only rule 2022, they’re here to stay for the future. Unlike before, now almost everyone has been to a dermatologist, most people have heard of laser hair removal or done it, and almost everyone knows someone who has had botox or fillers. Active skin care is the norm and everyone comes in asking for vitamin C or retinol. Everyone has bought multiple active skin care products, and most feel comfortable with a multi-step skincare routine. Haldi and turmeric are now things of the past.

Everyone wants a tailored skincare routine, with good active ingredients that work to improve their specific skin problems. There is more openness to facials, lasers, and other therapies designed to improve the appearance of their skin.

What are some of the myths that have been debunked?

The biggest myth that has been debunked today is that lasers are bad for the skin. Most of the men and women have had laser exposure, without seeing any long-term effects. Another myth is that only natural things work, this has changed. Most people now understand that natural DIYs have only minimal effectiveness and just because they’re natural doesn’t mean they’re safe. Some natural things can be dangerous to the skin (even turmeric or lemon, which Indians have always used for home treatments), and people today know that anything natural isn’t always the answer.

Another very important myth that has been debunked is that PCOS cannot be treated. Diet and lifestyle and even some natural supplements are of great help in improving and treating PCOS so that you can live life normally. My chapter on PCOS goes straight into the subject and how you can manage it and not live life hampered by it.

How has social media changed the way we approach skin care? Is there too much information?

Due to Covid and the greedy consumption of social media content, people are more aware and ready to use tools to look their best. Anyone who has ever watched a beauty reel on Instagram should try to find out what’s true and what’s not about what they’ve been exposed to in the past five years and that’s what I’m trying to do with this book. The book should provide you with enough knowledge to understand the information thrown at us and navigate through a noisy beauty and aesthetics industry.

Sense of Skin: Dr. Kiran's Guide to Being Beautiful;  published by HarperCollins

Sense of Skin: Dr. Kiran’s Guide to Being Beautiful; published by HarperCollins

Has something remained the same?

What remains the same is that diet is still important to us all. I think it is one of the best things about India; people understand that food is very important for health and appearance. That’s why my chapters on diet and gut health are so important because they answer the questions people have about how to improve each of their concerns, such as aging, radiance, inflammatory issues, rosacea, and more with their diet. Another thing that remains the same, is that people still want to know about DIY solutions. But the difference is, they want to learn about DIYs that work. The book includes many points on “skinmilism” and intuitive skincare, where a simpler routine is more effective than a routine that has 10 different steps. We knew this before when we were going to keep it simple with our skin creams, then we got a little lost with the concept of Korean routine, but now we’re back to understanding that less is more, albeit in a clever way. We may have a skincare routine but it’s three or four steps instead of 10. We can have treatments but it’s not more than one or two in a month. We give our skin a break when it feels irritated. Basically, we operate more intuitively when it comes to taking care of our skin.

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