The Science Behind Finding The Right Products For Your Skin (Indian Skin Edition)

I know this is the last thing you expected me to write about, if you even expected me to write anything at all; since I’ve been gone for so long. (yes. shame on me.) But here I am and I’m back with a banger. I truly believe this is the most useful thing I’ve ever written on this blog.

Am I someone from the beauty industry? HARD NO. Am I a dermatologist or a skin care specialist of some kind? DEFINITE NO. Then why the hell should you care about what I have to say? Let me tell you why. It’s because I’m a real 20 something year old girl, with real skin issues and real experiences; and I’m the most obsessive researcher/writer you will find. So you know that when I started to get acne all of a sudden in my 20s, I researched the crap out of it. And being an Indian, I noticed how there’s not much advice that has been catered specifically for Indian skin, so I strongly believe that my experience could help you in some way. I spent a lot of money on shit I didn’t need, I sometimes found things that really helped my skin, and most important of all I spent a large part of the last few months obsessively trying different things to find what set of products really worked for me.

After what has been a very long and trying journey, I thought to myself why it had to be this hard. Well, it was hard because there isn’t good advise out there. Not for us Indians. Most of our traditional Indian skin care products which are advertised the most tend to be very basic. And by basic I mean they aren’t really made to benefit skin in specific ways. A moisturiser is just a cream that works the same on all skin types, a cleanser is just another form of soap, and the most important thing that some of the popular Indian skin care brands seem to cater to is SKIN WHITENING. I write that in all caps because, what the frig? Why is skin whitening even a thing? I will never understand. If you are somebody who is primarily interested in getting “fairer skin”, this blog is not the right place for you. Click off immediately. I might even end up convincing you why that is stupid.

However, if you are looking for ways to get an even complexion and good skin, please read on. I’m not about to list a bunch of products with a bias on any brand because I am not an influencer, I am not going to gain any monetary value from you buying anything or doing anything to your skin. This blog post is intended solely to help you because I’ve been through it. I have spent months being depressed because I didn’t know what to do. I understand how hard it can be; especially when the society you live in can make your appearance feel like the most important thing. I also know that half the advise you might find online is intended to trick you into buying sponsored products. So I am just writing this to add some unbiased advise to the mix.

I know that a lot of you have various skin concerns. I can’t really address all that in one post. If you have any questions, leave them down in the comments below. I will reply to them or make another post specific to your skin type. Let me do the research for you. So let’s get on with the actual advise. First off, if you believe that skin care is a myth; if you are one of those people who think skin care products, creams, face washes, etc are just a bunch of “chemicals” and they are a waste of money, I have news for you. That is not true. Even water is a chemical. Your body is a chemical composition. So it is not very logical to assume that the word “chemical” is a bad thing. Toxins are what are bad for you. Not chemicals. Similarly, the word “natural” doesn’t make anything amazing either. For example, coconut oil is a “natural” product. But it can be very very harmful when used on the face for a lot of skin types as it is very pore clogging. So please set aside what you already know or believe. Read this with an open mind. And don’t just do everything I say or buy everything I say. Take my advise with a grain of salt as well. I am here to help you make an informed decision; nothing else.

So what is the secret to getting amazing skin? it isn’t one magic potion or the other. It is finding the right balance. I’m not about to say shit like, “drink water! that will solve everything” but do watch your water intake. If you’ve been having bad skin all of a sudden it could be because you are dehydrated. There’s no harm in drinking a healthy amount of water. Don’t go over board. Drink the healthy amount of water that is recommended for your weight. It might be the change your skin needs and if it doesn’t magically cure your skin problems, it will at least keep you healthy.

A good cleanser is the most essential thing you should have in your skin care routine. I know that for some people, a bar of soap or any basic face wash works just fine. Good for you! but for those of you who have skin issues, you may need a little extra. If you are trying to clear your skin, using cleansers with active agents like Tree tea oil, or exfoliating acids can be great for you. But if you have dry skin, I would suggest using gentle cleansers. Since I have oily skin, I use the Foaming Tea Tree oil face wash from The Body Shop. A current favourite of mine is the Oil Free Acne Clear face wash by Neutrogena. It’s definitely my favourite so far and the one I would choose, especially because it has salicylic acid, which is an AHA. I will elaborate more on these exfoliating acids later. Cetaphil is a brand that has good and gentle cleansers for people with dry skin. So try one of theirs and it might be gentle enough for your skin.

Why do we cleanse? it’s to remove any dead skin cells or dirt and keep our skin healthy. Well, exfoliation is just the next step to cleansing. Physical exfoliation is great because of how easy it is. You can use a gentle scrub to remove black heads and other dead skin buildup on the surface on your skin. I would advise that you exfoliate ONLY once a week and be gentle with your exfoliation. I like the scrubs offered by Himalaya which is an Indian brand. They’re quite cheap. Most people don’t know about chemical exfoliation and I’m here to tell you why you should definitely try it. Chemical exfoliants which are AHA’s like Salicylic can dissolve in the oils on your face and deep clean. BHA’s like glycolic acid are a little bit gentler as they only go up to the water layer of your skin, but they are just as effective in removing dead skin cells. These acids increase the cell turnover rate in your skin and this essentially will help your scars and marks fade faster. It will help you get rid of dry patches on your face easier. It will also help control the over production of oil. Since my facewash already has salicylic acid, I use the Pixi toner with glycolic acid once a week. Ever since I started using this combination of AHA’s and BHA’s in my routine, I’ve seen a great difference in the overall health of my skin. Please use these acids with care. They are acids so they should only be used once or twice a week. Incase you choose a different product with these acids, make sure you go for solutions with a low concentration at first.

Toners can actually help you. They’re not always useless bottles of liquid sold by skin care companies to steal your money. Though a lot of toners and skin mists do fall into this category, there are some great ones out there. A toner was traditionally meant to be a second step to cleansing. It is supposed to give you an even skin tone and any removing excess oil. But what people don’t realise is, toners can also be very hydrating for your skin. Especially if you want to clear your skin, and get rid of acne or scarring. Choose a good hydrating toner and thank me later. I use the Vitamin E Hydrating Toner by The Body Shop. I use my Pixi exfoliating toner with glycolic acid once a week and on the rest of the days of the week I use this Body shop toner. It always calms my skin as well as moisturises it. I know people with oily skin are probably wondering why I need all this moisture, but the funny thing is, oily skin produces a lot of oil because it lacks moisture. Oil is not the same thing as hydration. If you hydrate your skin properly, you can actually reduce the over production of oil on your skin.

Irrespective of whether you have dry skin, oily skin or combination skin, moisturising can be good for you. People with oily skin should stick to water based moisturisers to prevent any pore clogging; whereas, people with dry skin can benefit from a rich creamy moisturiser which is oil or water based. I personally have oily skin and I use the Vitamin E gel moisturiser from The Body Shop as my day cream. Now, an important thing to note here is, vitamin E is very pore clogging in nature. So you might wonder why I would be using something like this when I have oily skin, well it’s because this particular product has a non-comedogenic(non pore clogging) formula which makes it pretty safe for the skin. I believe the body shop has a thicker Vitamin E moisture Cream which is not a gel based formula. That one can be a good choice for people with dry skin. I think that vitamin E if used the right way can really help with having glowing skin. It’s found in your natural oils and it is what helps the body to eventually fade scars and retain the moisture on your skin. At night, I use the Green Tea Renewed Clarity Night Gel by Plum. It is extremely good on oily skin and it has reduced the appearance of acne marks on my skin by a great deal in a really short time. Ageing is the primary skin concern that affects every single person. So when you use a good moisturiser, it might be the best thing for your skin and you will reap the benefits once you are older.

Sunscreen is overlooked a lot, especially by Indians. I used to be skeptical too. I especially hated sun screen because of the ugly white film it left on my face. Most Indian brands don’t make great sun screen. Sunscreen always made me break out so I’ve always had this strong aversion to it. But what you need to understand is, sun screen is the best way to prevent premature wrinkling which can be easily caused by sun damage. Sunscreen is also great for you if you get a lot of acne or if you have a lot of acne scars. The reason we have these bright red marks wherever we get a pimple is because the skin feels some trauma from the pimple which causes hyperpigmentation on the skin. Hyperpigmentation can be worsened by sun damage!!! So when you’re out there ignoring sun screen because it makes your skin look too oily, know that by not wearing sunscreen you are making the scars on your skin worse every time you go out into the sun. I strongly believe that sun screen can be the best product to clear acne scarring and other marks caused by hyperpigmentation. I personally love Olay’s formula when it comes to sun screen. I use the Olay Regenerist moisturiser which comes with SPF. There is also a new Olay Whip Sunscreen formula which I believe is just as good. I know these products are not cheap, but the cheapest products are not always very safe for your skin.

I have noticed that a lot of Indians suffer from bad skin texture. I used to have these unsightly flesh coloured bumps all over my forehead. I’ve come to understand that it is caused by yeast. If you struggle with something similar, I would suggest that you try using anti dandruff shampoo for your hair, and using a bit of it on your forehead too from time to time. Nizoral is a great medicated shampoo which is meant to kill fungi. It sounds insane, but it actually worked. This will kill the fungi that is causing this bad texture on your face. After that if you properly exfoliate, your skin should return to a normal and smooth texture.

I like claymasks from time to time to deep clean my pores. If you are somebody who’s often troubled by an abundance of white heads, these masks can be great for you. For people with dry skin a good sheet mask can be very theraputic. Make sure you read reviews before you buy any such product. Always be skeptical when a product is unbelievably cheap, ‘cus no one is ever that nice. Serums with Hayluronic acid which is a great humectant( absorbs moisture) can be used before putting on moisturiser to get an extra hydrating effect when your skin is feeling too dry. If you are somebody who who wears make up, make sure to use a proper make up remover. Using coconut oil maybe harmless to some, but these oils can end up clogging your pores. As a general fact, oil is not actually a moisturiser. It cannot hydrate your skin deep within its layers. It is actually very thick so it simply sits on the top of your skin. If you wish to use any face oil, make sure to use it after you have applied every other product in you routine before, and use the oil as your final step. Because, anything you use after the oil will not penetrate and reach your skin.

At the end of this long blog post, the main thing I would like to highlight is that, if your skin is good, don’t mess with it. Use a good cleanser and moisturiser and you will be fine. Especially if you’re young, that’s all you need. I’ve had clear skin all my life and it was because I left it untouched. What you are already using may be good enough and all your skin needs. Your skin is a sensitive organ. Treat it with care. Don’t experiment too much with new products just because your skin can take it. Look for additional skin care only if you deal with skin issues which need to be dealt with. I started my experiments with skin care only after I got a bit of acne in my 20’s and it has cleared up after I found the right routine. This world of beauty and skin care can be very tempting as well as expensive. I urge you to tread lightly and with caution. I’ve made my share of mistakes and suffered the consequences. If you would like to see any more posts on skin care or make up, please leave a comment below. I’ve learned a lot in my skin care journey and I would love to help you with yours.

– The Obsessive Writer