Hyaluronic acid, Niacinamide, Retinol. I had no idea what these words meant a couple of years ago. Now little bottles of these elixirs adorn my bathroom sink.
Chances are, if you went digging in your dresser, you might find some of these ingredients lurking in there too, no matter if you're a 'skincare enthusiast' or not.
Why do we have them?
The promise of youthful beauty of course. After all, you can never have a smooth enough, supple enough, radiant enough skin, right?
The good people of the internet know this. And they've run with it.
In the last few years, skincare regimens have become a core part of the beauty content one finds online that was previously saturated with makeup.
So popular has the 'skincare' trend become that it's trendy now to have elaborate skincare routines (yes, plural. One for the morning and one for the night), and more the steps, the better.
The booming beauty and skincare industry is not complaining. In fact the skincare market is projected to grow from a $100 Million in 2021 to $145 million by 2028.
But, does this mean everyone with a multistep skincare routine is now walking around with flawless skin? Not quite, no.
Not everyone has access to a dermatologist, or can afford it.
Not only can dermatologists be expensive, but going to a doctor for a slightly more 'glowing', or smoother skin sounds a tad bit excessive, doesn't it?
But the internet, as it does with other things, has helped break down the wall of exclusivity. People were now able to speak directly to each other, and essentially save thousands and lakhs of rupees in professional consultations.
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Skincare is confusing, and the industry may even thrive on keeping it that way.
It's easy for cosmetic brands to entice you with straight up false promises. Mostly because of a lack of regulations to keeping a check on them, but it helps that consumers often just don't know any better.
Just a quick scan of the shampoo aisle at your nearest supermarket alone and you will find multiple products with Keratin in them—all of which won't help strengthen your hair the way they promise to because keratin just doesn't work like that.
Social media made it possible for people educate themselves and become better informed and conscious consumers.
All the influencers are doing it, which means we're doing it!
The consumer base of the skincare industry has also been growing as more younger people hop on the bandwagon.
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Skincare products walk the line between medicine and cosmetics. However, they don't go through as many checks and regulations as regular medical treatments are required to.
Moreover, most of them can be bought over the counter without a prescription.
Something as simple as when you put something on your skin and how long you keep it on for can make all the difference.
According to Dr DM Mahajan, Dermatologist, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, Delhi, rubbing Vitamin C on your face does little as it needs to be consumed for it to work its magic.
Vitamin C also gets deactivated in the sun. So it's recommended that you use it at night, or reduce your exposure to the sun if you use it during the day.
Hyaluronic acid, another very trendy skincare ingredient, "will have to be injected into the skin for it to work,"he says.
"Putting hyaluronic acid on your face only makes you feel like your face is hydrated for a short while. Its effect doesn't last long."Dr DM Mahajan, Dermatologist, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, Delhi,
Misusing some of these skincare products can have repercussions worse than just not seeing their promised effect.
"Many young people with perfectly good skin come to me after having ruined their skin by experimenting with their skin." says Dr Sachin Dhawan, Senior Consultant Dermatologist at Fortis Memorial Research Institute.
That is not to say that these ingredients are pure evil. In the right hands they can do wonders, but when misused they can prove counteractive.
Here are some ways in which incorrectly using popular skincare treatments can affect your skin.
(Swipe the interactives below to see it yourself.)
Speaking to FIT, Dr D M Mahajan says patients coming in with reactions to beauty products is a fairly common occurrence in his clinic.
"We most commonly see over-sensitive skin, peeling drying, acne breakouts in people have had reactions to products or ingredients."Dr D M Mahajan, Dermatologist, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals
He calls it 'beauty parlour dermatitis'.
Dr Sachin Dhawan tells FIT that some products can make your skin photosensitive and can cause skin irritation and related issues. Retinol and exfoliators, he says, are notorious for this.
With these products, it's important to remember to layer on sunscreen after, adds Dr Dhawan.
Retinol, an anti-ageing agent used by dermatologists is considered a holy grail in anti-ageing treatments. But Retinol must be used very carefully, under very specific conditions, say both Dr Mahajan and Dr Dhawan.
"Many people start using retinol like a face oil without actually knowing how to use it," says Dr Mahajan.
If misused, retinol can cause skin irritation, redness, peeling, hypersensitivity, and even acne break outs.
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Some other Dos and Don'ts when it comes to retinol, according to experts are,
Do not use it on a wet or damp face. Dry your face completely before putting it on.
Do use retinol only at night, and use sunscreen during the day when you're using retinol.
"Start small," Dr Mahajan explains that Retinol should be gradually incorporated into your skincare routine. "Start with once or twice a week and then gradually increase it", he says.
"First you should always test it on your skin (give it a couple of days to see if you have any reactions) and then slowly use it more often. At first, you shouldn't keep it on your face all night. The first few times, keep it on for an hour, then a couple of hours before increasing it to a few hours and overnight."Dr DM Mahajan
AHA and BHA, two other popular acidic formulas, should be used under the supervision of a dermatologist, and higher concentration should especially by avoided, says Dr Dhawan.
"I have 17 year olds who had perfectly good skin come in with skin damage. We see younger kids these days using skin treatments and products they don't need."Dr Sachin Dhawan, Senior Consultant Dermatologist, Fortis Memorial Research Institute
"AHA, BHA and Retinol, especially, shouldn't be started too soon. Ideally one should start using them around 23 to 27," adds Dr Dhawan.
Both Dr Mahajan and Dr Sachin Dhawan warn of skin whitening and brightening products, especially steroid based ones.
"Steroid based skin lightening creams can cause the capillaries in your face to swell up,"says Dr Dhawan.
"We have had young people who use skin lightening creams come in with leucoderma," adds Dr Mahajan. "Steroid based creams can also cause hypersensitivity, redness, and acne eruptions."
"They may make your skin look like its brighter or fairer when you use it, but in the long run they cause hyperpigmentation and discolouration."Dr Sachin Dhawan, Senior Consultant Dermatologist, Fortis Memorial Research Institute
The experts we spoke to agreed that for a young person with normal skin, a simple routine of cleanser, moisturiser and sunscreen is adequate, unless you have specific skin issues.
Consulting a dermatologist, and testing the products for reactions is super important, especially if you have sensitive skin.
So next time you fill your cart with a bunch of skincare treatments because your favourite beauty vlogger told you to, you might want to stop and consult a dermatologist first!
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