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Today, when it comes to skincare, it’s all about ‘the glow’. Whether it’s the highlighter you use or the face mists that guarantee a sheen, or even a complicated chemical peel or Vitamin C addition to your routine, skincare is wholly moving towards glowing skin. But radiant skin doesn’t happen overnight. It’s small acts of wellness and wellbeing that add up to create that lit-from-within look. So we got the celebrated and revered Mumbai-based dermatologist, Dr Rekha Sheth, to tell us about the best (and easiest) practices to follow to get glowing skin

Dr Rekha Sheth’s family has been in the beauty business for decades. Her father, Dr Sarad Sheth, was India’s very first dermatologist, and her son, Aneesh Sheth, is an Ivy league-educated formulation scientist and founder of the label Dr Sheth’s. Over the years, mother and son have worked together to pave a new path for Indian skincare products.

Indian skin is unique – the melanin production is higher and therefore adequate care has to be taken. And with the advent of social media and easy availability of international beauty products, there is a certain kind of hype created, which has resulted in less understanding of Indian skin, more Instagram-heavy buying patterns, confusion on usage of ingredients, and most importantly, lack of valid information. We spoke to the duo to get insights into specific Indian skin issues and how to address them. 

How exactly are glow and well-being are connected?

Brightening actually depends on the state of your internal health. No amount of beauty products or services will help a bad diet and no exercise. Make sure you workout or indulge in a walk at least three times a week and drink lots of water. Your skin needs all the help it can get, from the inside. Consistency is key when it comes to maintaining and dealing with internal causes and then go for treatments that help you get radiant skin after. 

What factors contribute to making skin dull?

I’ll say the biggest factor is hormones. 7/10 girls who come to me have Poly Cystic Ovaries Syndrome (PCOS) – it’s an epidemic in our country. Take your body seriously, and by extension, your skin seriously. A few things you must be mindful of: A good protein-filled diet. Our Indian diet is a bit carb-based, but there are also great protein sources – have two bowls of yoghurt (curd), two bowls of dal (lentils), and two servings of veggies and fruits, because antioxidants are important. Try to avoid stress – it adds up and causes imbalance. 

What’s an ideal cleansing and moisturising routine?

For cleansing, always use a mild face wash – PH-balanced ones are best. Skin is acidic so you cannot use alkaline-based cleansers – they dry it out, which in turn makes in tan more, and that means more dullness to combat. Moisturisers must be specific to your skin and you must also use a skin-brightening agent in your moisturiser. Sunscreens are important and have to be used everyday and topped up once or twice a day. 

How should one choose glow inducers?

Retinoids and AHAs and BHAs – these are the products that you should be aware of when it comes to radiant skin. At home, you could try a mild chemical exfoliator like the Dr. Sheth’s Basic Brightening Extra Gentle Daily Peel, great for exfoliating at home. Perfect for Indian skin, it contains Lactic and Glycolic acid, and is a lotion peel that uses alpha hydroxy acids (fruit acids) to exfoliate the skin and give you a glow. Microdermabrasion evens out the skin beautifully – it also buffs the skin and removes dead layers. Then there are lasers that help with melanin that exists below the top surface – Tri-beam is a great example, Q-switch laser is very popular too.

Never use face scrubs on your skin – they’re just not right for Indian skin. You might scrub lightly in one area, hard in one – so it’s not uniform and that affects skin. Chemical exfoliation is better than physical exfoliation. 

How should one address hyperpigmentation?

Any damage results in pigmentation on our skin – sun damage, aging, scarring, pollution, incorrect cosmetics and hormones are just some reasons. When it comes to pigmentation, choose products that have gentle ingredients balanced with melanin inhibitors. It’s important to choose products that specifically target Indian skin that faces harsh abuse from pollution, heat, and UV rays on the daily. 

What’s the best way to exfoliate at home

Splash hot water on your face, take a foaming face wash, and a sponge and gently lather it. That’s physical exfoliation and that’s as far as you can go. Use sunscreen and night cream and you cannot allow your skin to get dry – that will darken it further. 

Must-haves for brightening

Retinol is the gold standard for Indian skin. Isotretinoin is a bigger deal but it’s only prescribed by a doctor. For brightening, once you control hormones, you should go for maintenance with light peels, lasers, and a good Retinol cream. While peels give you a brightening effect, it’s Retinol that will maintain that, so invest in a good one. Fabulous skin in your 50s is the result of wearing sunscreen in your 20s, so never go without sunscreen.  

When should one start using anti-aging products?

If you count prevention and care, then a sunscreen is the very first anti-aging must-have in your kitty. Everyone, including babies, need to use sunscreen, especially in India. And it’s never about anti-aging, it’s about protection. When I started my career, there weren’t as many cars on the road, or industries or this much pollution. We didn’t really have the lifestyle we have now so our skin was much better then. 

What’s the ideal daily skincare routine

Use a good, mild face wash, a good sunscreen and a moisturiser with skin brightening agents. We recommend chemical peels 2-3 times a month. Look for products that have hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, or vitamin c derivatives – those are important to add to your routine. Even kojic acid, and alpha arbutin are good ingredients to work with. 

Latha Sunadh
Deputy Editor
When she's not trying on a new serum, researching on yet another classic fragrance and sharing lip balms with her 5-year old daughter, Latha Sunadh keeps it reined in with a nice song and a good book. Special skills include obsessing over handmade, home-made and handcrafted luxuries.