Embrace Your Skin
By Dr.JAISHREE SHARAD
Let’s embrace the skin we are in. Our skin protects us from the outside world, it is the body’s largest organ; and so, it is important that we maintain good skin health to feel comfortable in our own skin. Many women experience conditions like dryness, flakiness, dark spots, stretch marks and some even have prominent scars from past experiences. This leads to uneasiness and feeling self-conscious, especially when signs appear on commonly visible areas like the face, neck and arms.
But we all have our flaws, and our scars have their own stories to tell; behind each mark, there is a journey that we might have mapped. For example, scraping your knees during your first-ever marathon run, the burns from learning how to cook as a teenager, marks from falling off the motorbike during your college trip to Goa, stretch marks from losing body fat after consistent workouts, abusive circumstances that you may have courageously walked out of, and so much more. While some scars go away, some only heal with time.
As women, we are often guilty of trying to hide our flaws, our body size and what we believe is imperfect in our own eyes. Often scars can cause physical discomfort, itchiness and tenderness, but they also have distressing psychological effects that can affect our self-esteem and confidence. Living in an image-conscious society, that is largely focused on appearances, it is natural for women to try to conceal anything that doesn’t seem acceptable. This might look like applying make-up on affected areas, wearing polo-neck or full-sleeved clothing, signing up for expensive treatments, and what-not.
This places emphasis on learning to love your own truths and making positive choices for skin health. For the latter, we can choose no-fuss skincare regimens that help us address common blemishes, acne scars, burns, stretch marks, age spots, discolouration, uneven skin tone, and more. There are a plethora of skincare products available in the market that claim to treat different types of concerns, but decoding this information can be overwhelming. Start by understanding key ingredients that are a must for efficacious skincare.
Retinol is a naturally occurring form of vitamin A. To prevent oxidation, retinol goes through an esterification process with palmitic acid. The resulting ester is commonly referred to as vitamin A palmitate, which is diluted for appropriate skin absorption. It demonstrates skin renewing properties and increases the thickness of the epidermis, particularly in mature skin types, and promotes the formation of new collagen. Vitamin A palmitate improves the appearance of UV-damaged skin, by helping to increase elasticity and smooth the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
Vitamin E has been scientifically proven to have several benefits for the skin, primarily being an antioxidant. Antioxidants are essential in helping to reduce free radicals, which attack healthy cells and cause skin damage and premature ageing. Vitamin E also increases the moisture content of the epidermis, making it feel softer and smoother. It mitigates against some of the effects of sunburn i.e. reduces the number of damaged cells found after the skin has been exposed to UV radiation. It has also been shown to have positive effects on the wound healing process.
Chamomile oil is an anti-inflammatory, providing soothing and calming benefits to the skin. It is effective when the skin is stressed by both internal and external physiological conditions.
Lavender oil has multiple benefits for the skin. It is known to have skin-conditioning properties, such as improved firmness, smoothness and complexion. It provides calming and soothing benefits coupled with a mild astringency, which cleans the skin by constricting the pores, resulting in a tingling sensation.
Rosemary oil is used as a skin-conditioning agent, because of its soothing properties and mild antiseptic capability.
Calendula oil has cell regenerative effects and is suitable for the treatment of sensitive, damaged or sunburnt skin. Calendula extract has also been used to combat minor skin infections, rashes and superficial irritation.
When it comes to vitamins, we can separately ingest or apply extracts from their capsules externally. Similarly, each of the mentioned plant-based oils can be applied externally on wounds and marks. Many homegrown labels today source and distribute such natural oils for specific use cases.
(Sharad is international mentor, ITMP, American Society of Dermatologic Surgery)