I'm A Dermatologist's Daughter. Here's Everything I Learned About Acne, Growing Up In His Chambers
If only I had a penny for every time someone asked me if my clear skin has anything to do with the fact that my father is a dermatologist, I'd be a billionaire by now! Often, I brush off the inquiry with a quick, "Oh, I'm just blessed with good genes," but I lie.
Growing up, I'd often spend evenings at my father's clinic, thanks to the lack of reliable nannies back in the day. I'd watch women lament about unrelenting acne, and my parents (my mother is a cosmetologist FYI) dispense advice about healthy lifestyle, other than having the medicines they prescribed. I never thought much of it all until recently, when I, for the first time ever in my life, in my 30s, had a breakout of those dreaded zits. After much consideration, I realised it was because of the face wash I had recently switched to - something with the currently popular beauty ingredient, green tea. Well, contrary to what beauty bloggers will tell you, it did not do wonders for my skin.
And this brings me to lesson #1: Less is more
My mother, in her 60 plus years, has never got a facial done. Nor does she use masks or any such. No dadi ma ke nuskhe like applying dahi besan and whatnot on the face. You'll be surprised to know how many women would come to the clinic with a breakout after applying some home-made concoction on the face. The lesson here: food is to be eaten, not applied on your face. But, it's not just food. Using a lot of make-up is another rather common reason for what is called "cosmetic acne". These days, masks, night creams, day creams, serum, vitamin-c cream and plethora of other "must-have" products are taking us by a storm. But, it's important to not overuse products, even if, individually, they may have alleged benefits. Key here is to stick to one or two at most, that work well for your skin type.
Which brings me to lesson #2: Know your skin type
Not every product works well for every skin type. Even the doctor's prescribed treatment for acne depends on whether you have dry or naturally oily skin. Take my horrid tryst with green tea face wash. After the multiple breakouts, I did some research, and learned that it doesn't work well for my skin type - dry. One can make oneself look pretty with the right products, but one can't change one's biological destiny.
Now, to lesson #3: Your hormones play an important role
Many women break out right before their period. Some women with PCOS end up getting zits because of the hormonal imbalance associated with the syndrome. Adult onset acne, too, is often related to hormonal changes. And it's not just the oestrogen levels going haywire that can create havoc on your skin. Cortisol, that is, the stress hormone, can also clog up your pores and lead to what a friend and I jocularly call "stress fest". Lack of proper rest, too, can elevate one's stress levels, BTW. You know how they say that "the happiest girls are the prettiest"? It seems this has more double-meaning than you'd think. If you're happy, you have less cortisol, and if you have less cortisol, there are less chances of getting acne!
Often under-appreciated, lesson #4: Hygiene control is a must!
How often do you wash your face, with soap et al? Once a day is not enough. Twice a day - once in the morning, once at night, is the doctor's recommendation. How often do you change your pillow cover? What about the towel you use to wipe your face? And do you remove your make-up before hitting the sack? Poor hygiene is often an underrated cause of acne. And the irony is, it is one of the easiest to combat!
And at last, lesson #5: Clean food for clear skin
A standard "'lifestyle prescription" for all patients that my parents had was: "drink more water, eat more leafy greens and fresh fruits; avoid fried food and too much sweet." Experience has led me to add alcohol to the list. Of course, one or two drinks are all right, but if you pay attention, you'll find that after a night of binge-drinking, your skin looks like shit.
Acne is not as superficial as it looks (sic). It runs deep, and if you want to prevent it, like it or not, it's a lifestyle you have to endorse. But, hey, it's never too late to start eating clean, resting well, and washing your face twice daily, right?
Feature Photo by Moose Photos from Pexels