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When Should You Start Using Anti-Ageing Products and Other Burning Beauty Questions Answered in *This* Book

Cosmo caught up with Dr Kiran Sethi—aesthetic dermatologist and author of Skin Sense—to elucidate the key pillars of comprehensive skin health. 

Radiant, glowing skin takes a lot more effort than just following a structured CTM routine; it's an amalgamation of sound sleep, a well-balanced, nutritious diet, and healthy skin practices. Alas, our fast-paced lifestyle poses a serious threat to the largest organ of our body—our skin. From busting common skin myths to dropping beauty truth bombs, renowned Delhi-based dermatologist, Dr Kiran Sethi, spills stirring skin secrets in her latest book, Skin Sense

In an intimate tête-à-tête with Cosmo, the beauty expert divulges details about all that it takes to attain fabulously flawless skin; read on to learn more about how to build an AM to PM routine, care for your skin during the hotter months of the year, and more. 


skin sense


Cosmo: What inspired you to author a book on skin health?


Dr Kiran Sethi: "I guess I felt that teenagers—both men and women—didn’t know the basics of what works; how to eat and live in a way that maintains our skin health for prolonged periods. Many believed that K-beauty, excessive manipulation via devices, and actives galore were the way to go. However, this often gave minimal results and a ton of skin rashes! I also came across people who invested in expensive procedures without knowing what—and why—they were indulging in them in the first place. This led me to offer an easily accessible, affordable alternative, in the form of a book, that bypasses the confusion caused due to the internet, as well as the marketing speak of brands to supposedly offer fundamental knowledge on beauty. Who hasn't gone crazy purchasing products online, and then regretted it? My book will help save your pocket—and your skin." 


Cosmo: As a dermatologist, what are some of the common skin concerns people come to you with?


Dr Kiran Sethi: "I'd prefer to refer to myself as a skin and wellness specialist, as I truly believe in a holistic, inside-out approach to beauty. Your diet, lifestyle, internal health, and skincare—all have a part to play in your skin health. The common skin concerns clients often come to me with include acne, pigmentation, scarring, marks, sagging skin, wrinkles, and overall ageing." 


Cosmo: Can you give our readers a few tips on how to take care of their skin during hotter months?


Dr Kiran Sethi: "Begin by cleansing with a 1-2% potency salicylic acid-based cleanser, twice a day. The pH must be less than 4.5 for better results. Identify products that contain ingredients such as green tea or niacinamide to minimise oil secretion. Zinc PCA or sulfate is another superior ingredient that serves anti-acne benefits and can be found in lotions and gels. You should also opt for a gel-based sunblock or another lighter formula. Consider peel pads to cut through the excess grease after a long day, and an afternoon mist with anti-oil ingredients is a must, too. Lastly, make sure to reapply sunscreen throughout the day—no matter how cloudy or rainy, or indoors or outdoors."


Cosmo: Can you tell us how to avoid common skincare mistakes?


Dr Kiran Sethi: "It's simple: Don't overdo it. I am a firm believer in skinminimalism. Cleanse, treat with a serum, moisturise, protect with sunblock, and add a mist or peel pad if required. Many follow exhaustive, 10-step routines and mess up their skin! Remember, Indian skin is not Korean skin—we can't apply multiple layers, it will lead to breakouts. Keep it simple, clean, and effective. Relying on too many DIY procedures and manipulating the skin won't work either. My book touches upon the DIY treatments that work, and those which don’t (plus, how to do them). Also, nobody needs beauty devices galore. A gua sha a few times a week is enough. Throw out the face roller and don't perform micro-needling or derma rollers at home, they can cause terrible scars if done incorrectly."


Cosmo: Your book offers cutting-edge advice for those with varying skin types and textures. What kind of ingredients would you recommend for each skin type, when building an AM-PM skincare routine? 


Dr Kiran Sethi: "Overall, oily skin types must incorporate niacinamide, green tea, salicylic acid, and tea tree oil. They can also opt for retinol or bakuchiol for anti-acne properties. One must consider probiotics and prebiotics for acne-prone skin as well. Dry skin types should go for ceramides, essential fatty acids, humectants such as urea or sodium lactate, and emollients like shea butter. Combination skin types must multi-cleanse—use a cleanser with salicylic for the T-zone and a cream-based one for the rest of the face. Basically, anti-oil products must be applied to the T-zone, while regular ones for normal skin. Sensitive skin types should rely on Centella Asiatica, cica, natural moisturising factors (NMFs), ceramides, allantoin, and bisabolol." 


Cosmo: One often attributes acne to oily skin. Can you elucidate on the other underlying reasons one may experience breakouts—and how to combat them?


Dr Kiran Sethi: "Let's first address hormone variations; PCOD, stress-related hormonal imbalances, hyperandrogenism, diabetes, and thyroid can all trigger zits. A stressful, hectic lifestyle, poor sleeping patterns, and irregular eating timings also play a major role in spurring acne. High glycemic foods and whey protein may also contribute to breakouts. Make sure to stray away from supplements such as iodine and ashwagandha as well." 


Cosmo: Can you elaborate on the key pillars of comprehensive skin health?


Dr Kiran Sethi: "Cleanse, treat your skin concerns, moisturise, and protect your skin with an SPF. You must always ensure that your skin is clean. Next, it should be treated with the correct arsenal of beauty products. This should be followed by moisturisation to keep the epidermal barrier strong. Last but not the least, slap on sunblock! Sunscreens go far in preventing sun damage, skin cancer, freckles, pigmentation, skin ageing, and more."


Cosmo: According to you, when should one incorporate anti-ageing products into their skincare routine? Could you also elaborate on some anti-ageing skin treatments one can opt for? 


Dr Kiran Sethi: "I would think 30 years is a fairly good age to start incorporating anti-ageing products into your skincare routine. However, bear in mind that 25 years onward, collagen degradation begins exceeding collagen formation. Anti-ageing processes work along three parameters—tone/texture/lines/pores, elasticity/suppleness/hydration, and sagging. My favourite anti-ageing treatments include micro-needling with collagen induction therapy which significantly improves the skin's tone, texture, and pores. I will also make a strong case for radiofrequency-based treatments that boost collagen for skin tightening purposes. And finally, my go-to treatment for elasticity and suppleness is skin boosters such as Profhilo." 


Cosmo: Could you help debunk some commonly-believed skin myths for our readers? 


Dr Kiran Sethi: "To whomsoever says natural is safer, it's far from the truth. Natural products can cause severe allergies and rashes, and several natural ingredients contain chemicals. When one seeks 'natural', they are actually seeking safety. Another common myth is that lasers are dangerous. Lasers just emit light. They are safe and an effective procedure without any long-term side effects. People also go on to assume that if they are suffering from PCOD, they can't get laser hair removal. Well, in fact, those with PCOD make ideal candidates for laser hair removal, and will experience great results when the right protocol is followed." 


Cosmo: Lastly, tell us about a few trending beauty treatments, and how can they help our skin. 


Dr Kiran Sethi: "Profhilo is the newest anti-ageing treatment for plump, youthful skin. It stimulates the fibroblast cells, thereby boosting collagen and elastin production, activates the keratinocytes to increase the synthesis of collagen and elastin, and preserves and encourages the viability of adipocytes that affect the quality of the adipose tissue. On the other hand, thread lift is another skin firming and lifting anti-ageing facial treatment that targets the skin around your chin, jawline, and décolletage area. The procedure involves the use of thin, absorbable threads to induce collagen production, making your face appear sharper and more lifted. Lastly, micro-needling is recommended for men and women who are seeking glowing, healthy skin."