Do you know the difference between SPF 20 and SPF 50? Have you heard of halal skin products? Are you familiar with the Korean snail mask? Did you know there is no scientific basis behind detox skincare products? These days most tweens can answer all the above questions on skincare and even beat you to explaining the difference between BHAs and hyaluronic acid with the confidence and authority of a mini dermatologist.

The $121-billion skincare industry is mind-blogging and complex; it is constantly developing new technology, packaging and campaigns to fit the current social movements. It is easy to become confused with all the advertising and marketing hype that we’re subjected to about skincare and anti-ageing products. Which product should you buy? What are they actually going to do? How do you know they’re not going to cause some problems? 

Dr Anwar Al Hammadi, Director of Dermatology at Dubai Health Authority (DHA) and President of Emirates Dermatology Society, believes that choosing skincare products depends on the age of an individual and their skin type. “If we’re talking about people who have problems such as eczema, sensitive skin, a sun allergy and contact dermatitis, then choosing a product that’s unscented is extremely important,” he says. “If I have a patient who is adolescent or acne-prone, then we want something that doesn’t clog the pores and isn’t thick. Then we would recommend an ointment rather than lotion or thicker creams.” 

Investing in quality products 

The skin is the largest organ in your body and if you are on a quest for beautiful skin, then investing in skincare products and having a dedicated routine is a way to maintain that healthy glow. Yet price shouldn’t necessarily dictate your choice of product.

“I usually buy my skincare products once every three months and spend approximately Dh5,000, which is quite a bit of my budget but I am happy to make that sacrifice and buy quality products,” says 34-year-old South African Denise Naidoo. “I strongly believe your skin is something you need to invest in, so once I find something effective that works for my skin and produces results, I stick to it.”

Dr Hammadi reiterates that you should focus on ingredients as well as cost. “Don’t rely on the name of the brand but rely on the ingredients,” he says. Nevertheless, it remains important to shop safely. “I would recommend going for recognised brands because with unknown brands, we don’t know the ingredients and how they are stored. For this reason, I also wouldn’t recommend buying products from unknown sources just because they’re cheaper.” 

Men are NOT clueless about skincare products

Like women, most men have skin problems such as acne, dark circles and open pores and global brands are highly focused on the needs of men’s skincare. These days more and more men are taking a proactive interest in their skincare and crafting a routine to ensure their skin is youthful and healthy.

“As a modern man, I pay attention to the way I look and dress,” says 33-year-old Warren Munisamy who works as a Partner Enablement Manager at HPE. “I am one of the few men who has no shame in saying I go to the saloon every week to get my eyebrows waxed, for my weekly haircut, shave and mani-pedi. I like to invest in grooming as it keeps me looking and feeling good.”

Going natural  

If the thought of leaving the house without make-up is terrifying, have you considered what effect this might be having on your skin? “What we recommend is to give your skin time to breath and I always recommend a skincare regime,” says Dr Hammadi, “and that is leaving your skin free from make-up for at least three days a week. Make-up should be used for special occasions and people shouldn’t clog their pores unnecessarily.” 

Although most people don’t realise it, their favourite skincare products can be significant contributors of harmful ingredients, toxins and chemicals. The fact is the majority of store-bought, commercially produced beauty products come packed with artificial colours, fragrances, preservatives and stabilisers that can easily be absorbed through the skin’s pores, potentially causing a range of negative long-term health effects. 

For 37-year-old Pooja Dhawan, Leadership Development Consultant from India, the quest for beautiful skin is an on-going journey, “Who does not want good skin? They say beauty is skin deep and if you can flaunt your skin as your biggest asset without layers of make-up and feel beautiful that’s a big win-win,” says Pooja. “I have constantly battled with acne and used to spend a lot of money on skincare products but a couple of years ago I took a call to go back to basics.”

Resorting to natural products was a forced decision when Pooja experimented with a chemical peel, which reacted badly on her skin and she had black spots all over her face. The spots looked so bad she barely had the courage to look in the mirror or leave the house for two weeks. Since then, Pooja decided not to put so many chemicals on her skin, instead use natural products and let her skin renew on its own. “Being mindful and listening to your body is the first step towards developing a skin routine that is based on natural products,” says Pooja. 

She uses vitamin E oil instead of night cream and home-made sandalwood and turmeric face mask instead of store or shelf packs. Pooja even uses coconut oil instead of a branded cleanser and toner and has seen a visible difference in her skin’s health. “I keep a lot more of Ayurveda products around me and my skin is responding so well to it,” says Pooja. “I am drinking loads of water and focusing on a good night’s sleep to maintain my skin’s health.” 

Research your skincare

If you don’t have the time for intensive or dedicated skincare routine, you can still pamper yourself by acing the basics. Good skincare and healthy lifestyle choices can help delay the natural ageing process and prevent various skin problems.

Get started with these no-nonsense skincare tips:

● Always use sunscreen 
● Wear protective clothing                             
● Don’t smoke
● Treat your skin gently 
● Avoid strong soaps and detergents
● Moisturise dry skin 
● Eat a healthy diet