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Q&A with a Skincare Expert

15 February 2014 5 comments

Skincare can be overwhelming at the best of times. Add in the daily bombardment we receive from the media in the forms of skewed marketing and photoshopped images and it's no wonder we can feel a bit lost and confused!

I've been ever so lucky lately to be able to speak to a dedicated skincare professional, and quiz her about many of our skincare woes!

Doesn't her skin look incredible?

Dr. Vanita Rattan, Consultant Aesthetician, holder of 2 medical degrees, daughter of PharmaClinix founder Shashi Gossain, and head practitioner of a Harley Street clinic, specialises in hyperpigmentation, uneven skin and Fitzpatrick 3-6 skintones, but was kind enough to bestow her years of wisdom and expert advice upon us, now of which I'm pleased to say I can share with you! So let's get going:

How did you get into the beauty/skin industry?

My mother, Shashi Gossain, developed a range of cosmeceuticals called PharmaClinix in 2006 which has since grown to 30 countries worldwide and is sold in over 10,000 retail and beauty outlets. Seeing her enthusiasm and inroads into this sector made me realise that hyperpigmentation treatments for ethnic skins needed more awareness and advice. My own hyperpigmentation during my pregnancy inspired me to start working on this challenging epidemic. Being a medically qualified Doctor also helped me in my research work.

What product are you most proud of in the PharmaClinix range?

I would say that the Lightenex Max Peel (available at Vanita's Harley Street Clinic in London) has been the most difficult and challenging product in our range. The difficulty stems from the fact that Asian and darker skin types often respond badly and unpredictably to acids which are necessary for effective exfoliation.

What is hyperpigmentation (uneven skintone) and why are Asian/Darker skins more susceptible to it?

Hyperpigmentation is a condition where more pigment (melanin) is produced in specific patches of skin, thereby making this area darker than the surrounding skin.

Asian/darker skins are more susceptible to these patches because they have bigger melanin-producing cells (melanocytes). Due to their size, they are much quicker in producing melanin than those with fair skins.

The Hyperpigmentation Clinic specialises in removing this hyperpigmentation safely and effectively using a Mandelic acid peel which also contains skin brighteners. On average, we reduce hyperpigmentation by between 50-80% in one treatment.

What one skincare item could you not be without?

I would say that a good 24 hour moisturiser with sun protection is essential.
I'm a huge fan of Moisturix (reviewed here) which has an SPF of 25.

What are some key ingredients to look out for in skincare products?

Vitamin C forms: L-Ascorbic acid, Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Ascorbly tetra Isopalmitate.
This is because Vitamin C is the first line antioxidant in skin.

Retinoids: Retinaldehyde, Retinol, Retininyl Palmitate.

Skin Brighteners: Kojic acid, Kojic Dipalmitate, Alpha-Arbutin, Beta-Arbutin, Azelaic acid, Phytic acid, Octadecene-Dioic acid, Ferulic acid, Licorice extract, Niacinamide, N-Acetyl Glucosamine.

Exfoliants: Glycolic acid, Mandelic acid.

Anti-inflammatories: Rutin extract, Arnica, Bromelain (found in pineapple and papaya: check out my DIY remedy for this!), Salicylic acid.

Hydrators: Hyaluronic Acid, Urea.

Anti-acne: Dioic acid, Salicylic acid, Niacinamide.

Healing promoters: Dimethicone, Cyclopentasiloxane (Silicones)

Should our morning skincare routines differ from our evening ones?

Darker skins must wear sun protection at all times. Any skin brightening/whitening or antioxidants are advisable to be worn during the dark hours. Extra rich creams should be applied at night.

What is the best prevention/cure for spots?

A combination of the anti-acne ingredients as mentioned above. Acnex contains 2% Dioic acid (50 times stronger than Azelaic acid in destroying acne-causing bacteria), 4% Niacinamide (already has USA medicines license called Papulex for inflamed acne) and 2% Salicylic acid (an excellent bactericidal and anti-inflammatory). This particular product is oil free and does not cause irritation.

What are the causes of stretch marks and how can we remove them/improve on their appearance?

Stretch marks are basically tearing of the skin, resulting in the formation of a scar. This usually occurs when the skin is put under tension due to rapid loss or gain of weight e.g pregnancy, puberty or during muscle-building exercises.

Stretch marks can be easily treated when they are red in colour. They respond well to a combination of silicones, peptides, Camelia Sinensis (green tea) extract and antioxidants. These can all be found in Stretchex (on which I have a review coming up; very excited!)

When these red marks become white or silvery, it means that the scars have matured. In this case, derma rolling, laser therapy or carboxy therapy are effective treatments to varying degrees. Personally, I find the results with derma rolling to be the best.

What is the importance of Collagen and Elastin?

Elastin forms 5% of our Dermal Matrix. Collagen is 95% of the scaffolding of your skin. In between these collagen fibres lies the Hyaluronic acid, which is a powerful humectant (water-binding) molecule. The tightness and firmness of skin comes from the turgidity of this water-filled space between the collagen fibres. Elastic's function is to stretch the skin without tearing. Using a combination of silicones, polypeptides, antioxidants and Camelia Sinensis extract would prevent this tearing.

What is your skincare routine?

In the morning, I wash my face with Lightenex Face Scrub and Wash, which is a gentle wash which exfoliates and polishes with skin whitening/brightening beads.
I then apply Moisturix, an all day moisturiser with sun protection.
At night, I wash my face with hypoallergenic cleanser followed by Anti-Agex Serum and Lightenex Gold Cream on alternating nights.

What at-home remedies do you recommend for those on a budget?

Make sure that the body is always well moisturised and hydrated. The easiest way to check this is by making your urine is always white/clear not yellow; your kidneys are the water gauge of your body, if your urine is yellow then your kidneys are conserving water which is a sign of dehydration.

I'd also recommend stopping smoking, drink alcohol moderately and drink plenty of water. It's also important to exercise at least 3 times a week so you'll sleep well.

Any oral supplement of vitamins is useless as it does not reach the skin in high enough concentrations to make any difference. Instead, freshly squeezed orange juice will give 5% L-ascorbic acid to skin, to help collagen growth and clear acne and sunspots.

What beauty philosophies do you live by?

You only have one skin. It is the largest organ of your body so take care of it and don't do things to age it prematurely. Also, follow a regular skincare regime religiously!

Thank you so much to Vanita for letting me share her expert knowledge, I hope everyone finds this as useful as I did!