Expert solutions to 10 common beauty problems

Here are some of the common queries about skin problems answered by our experts.

common beauty queries

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Though we all have different skin types, there are a few beauty problems which all of us have faced at some point. Here are some common skin queries with solutions provided by renowned skin experts like Dr Kiran Lohia, Dr Shefali Trasi Nerurkar, Dr Shuba Dharmana.

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Can I treat my acne with over-the-counter medication?

Over-the-counter or OTC products are non-prescription products available at the chemist without a doctor's recommendation/prescription. There is a wide range of anti-acne medication available ranging from face wash, acne cream, acne mask, soaps, acne mark removal creams, etc. The ingredients in these products are mainly benzoxyl peroxide, salicylic acid and clindamycin.

However, you cannot pick up any and start using it to treat your acne. One should be very careful while selecting any OTC products for acne. Depending on the type of skin, one should select a face wash containing salicylic and topical antibiotic gel for inflamed acne. It is best to consult a dermatologist before using over-the-counter acne preparation.

A few products you can choose from are Clearasil cream/soap/face wash, No Marks acne cream, Acnil soap, Garnier acne cream, Proactive acne kit.

Anti-acne creams and lotions have to be used for over 2-4 weeks to see visible difference in the size and number of acne. Slowly, the acne decreases but 6-8 weeks of therapy is advisable for prolonged improvement. These can be used later for any new outbreak to control the inflammation. Here are some home remedies and face packs to fight pimples.

Though results are visible results within a week or two, the marks take 4-6 weeks to lighten completely.

Apart from these, herbal preparation containing neem, tea tree oil are also effective in treating acne.

How do I get rid of pigmentation and freckles?

Freckles or sunspots are increasingly common in Indian skin and are a result of excessive sun exposure. As the sun is very strong in India, even a little bit of exposure or the sun that comes through windows can affect you. It is vital to reduce your sun exposure and wear a lot of sunscreen and reapply it every four hours. Remember to apply it at least 30 minutes before leaving the house. Also, look for products containing alpha-hydroxy acids to help reduce the appearance of your freckles. Finally, you should see a dermatologist who can prescribe you stronger medications for your pigmentationif it still persists. tip

Skin pigmentation and tanning on the face can have a negative impact on your self-esteem and confidence. While wearing sunscreen and shielding yourself from harmful sun rays by covering your face with a scarf are essential in preventing pigmentation, you also need to treat existing freckles.

Aloe vera can be effective in lightening your spots. Mix some rose water in aloe vera gel and apply it on your freckles. Keep it for 10 minutes and then wash it off with cold water. You will have to do this regularly to see any visible change.

Another home remedy to get flawless skin is multani mitti or fuller's earth. To erase dark spots and pigmentation, mix yoghurt (dahi) and mint leaves (pudina) in multani mitti powder and apply this paste on the pigmented area. Keep it for half-an-hour and then wash it with lukewarm water. Do this weekly once to get rid of freckles.

Potato is a natural bleach and can help remove tanning and spots. You can also use concealers to cover them.

How do I properly moisturise dry lips during winters?

The chilly weather leaves our lips in need of moisture. Here are a few, handy tips to keep them soft and supple:

  • Keep them soft by staying hydrated. Drink plenty of water throughout the day at regular intervals.
  • Increase your intake of B vitamins as low levels can lead to dry and cracked skin.
  • Resist the urge to lick your lips as this only makes them more sore.
  • Do away with dead skin cells by using a soft toothbrush to help reduce chapping.

Lastly, buy your lip balm carefully. Read the labels. Not all lip balms are the same. Balms or sticks made with mineral oil or petroleum jelly don't moisturise as such, they simply sit on the lips' surface, and may even dry the lips out.

How do I treat a dark spot on my cheek?

It sounds like you have melasma (a condition where patches of dark pigments occur on the face) which is a common condition in India, essentially caused by the sun. Most importantly, you must practise aggressive sun protection. Wear sunblock of SPF 30++ and apply it every four hours. Then, try a lotion with alpha-hydroxy acids such as Lumiday Brightening Day Lotion to help improve the pigmentation. Finally, you must go to a dermatologist who can treat your pigmentation with Q-switched lasers or chemical peels, for a more permanent solution.

How can I get fair skin? I started using melacare cream but have now stopped it. Is it safe to use it?

Using melacare cream without the guidance of a dermatologist is always a no-no because only a skin specialist can understand if it will work while protecting you from its many possible side effects. Furthermore, the number one cause of skin pigmentation is the sun, so it is vital that you wear lots of sunscreen of at least SPF30++ for both UVA and UVB protection and repeat it every four hours during the day. If you are not protecting yourself from the sun, then no treatment will work. tip

It is important to take care of your skin by cleansing and protecting it from the sun, dust, pollution, etc. While a good sunscreen will shield your skin from harmful UV rays, a regular clean-up will ensure that it get rids of tanning and dust, thus appearing fairer and glowing than before.

You can make face packs at home using herbal and natural ingredients. One such pack is a mixture of honey and lime juice in one tablespoon of yoghurt (dahi). Apply this pack evenly on your face and neck and let it stay for 15 minutes before washing it off with water. It will cleanse your skin and it will appear brighter than before.

Another simple face pack can be made using besan or gram flour as it is a natural tan remover. Add 4-5 powdered almonds, 1 teaspoon of milk and lemon juice in besan and mix all of it together. Apply it on face and neck for 20-30 minutes and then wash it off with lukewarm water.

While these will have some effect in making your skin appear cleaner and lighter than before, it is important to remember that your skin colour isn't the determining factor of your beauty.

Do people with oily skin need to moisturise?

Cleansing, toning and moisturising are three essential steps to clean and flawless looking skin regardless of your skin type. Many people who have oily skin feel they do not need any moisturiser but that is a beauty blunder. Our skin needs hydration from inside-out. We can do so by drinking plenty of water which will keep it hydrated internally and the other way is by applying moisturiser.

People who have oily skin have over-active oil glands. Cleansing and toning takes off this oily layer but when the skin isn't moisturised, it feels dry and deprived of oil and therefore produces more oil. So, a moisturiser will help your skin stay normal. In winters, it becomes even more essential to moisturise the skin as the cold weather makes it dry and rough which in return makes it itchy and dehydrated.

Having said that, using the correct moisturiser is also crucial to one's beauty regimen. A person who has dry skin can opt for a moisturiser with a slightly heavier cream base. On the other hand, people with oily skin should opt for oil-free moisturiser which hydrates the skin yet does not add the oil back into it. Some brands which offer oil-free moisturisers are:

  • Lotus Herbals
  • Neutrogena
  • Lacto Calamine
  • Clean & Clear
  • Kaya Skin Clinic

So after you use your face wash and toner, apply a layer of any one of these oil-free moisturisers. Many even come with an SPF coverage which means you don't need a separate sunscreen. Winter or summer, don't forget to moisturise your skin ever.

How do I take care of sensitive skin?

People who have sensitive skin need to take extra care as a wrong product can cause an allergic reaction and redness. They need to choose wisely and also take a few necessary steps to protect their skin. Here's what you can do:

Always wear sunscreen, even in the winter and monsoon months. This is the first and probably the most important step and sun damage is extremely bad for any skin but especially for sensitive skin as your skin will react more easily. Look for a sunscreen with broad-spectrum sunblock that includes anti-UVA and anti-UVB effect. So you should be looking at SPF30++, or more. And remember to reapply every 4 hours, and at least 30 minutes before leaving the house. Read more tips on how you can manage sensitive skin.

As for choosing products which suit your skin, avoid any which have an artificial fragrance. These contain a lot of unknown chemicals which can trigger an allergic reaction in sensitive skin. Look for cosmetics which are labelled under no artificial fragrance added or are natural.

Another thing to keep in mind is to stop unnecessary facials. These involve the use of various products and creams and also procedures like extraction, etc which maybe harsh on sensitive skin and lead to redness. If you do want to opt for one, go for hydrafacial. It is a non-invasive, liquid skin resurfacing system with no downtime and it instantaneously hydrates the skin, helping you achieve smooth, well-cleansed, hydrated, moisturised skin in a matter of just 15 minutes.

Am I using the right cream for rashes on my face? I have been using Betnovate N and it is working but I don't want to use any more chemicals on my face.

Betnovate is a steroid prescription cream that must only be used on the suggestion of a dermatologist. Steroid creams if used long term can make the skin thin, cause steroid dependant acne and lots of other unwanted side-effects. You must visit a dermatologist first and get your skin rash diagnosed and treated appropriately. The steroid cream must also be weaned off gently. tip

Skin rash can be treated with the use of aloe vera gel. This is because it is extremely mild and best-suited for sensitive skin. It is also very soothing and its cooling properties provide instant relief. You can extract the gel directly from the plant by cutting it and oozing the gel out or even buy it from beauty stores. Use it for a few weeks to see if there is any change in the appearance of the rash. If it still persists, then get it checked by a skin specialist as it could be an allergy or a symptom for some other underlying problem.

How do I get rid of surgical scars?

In order to get rid of surgical scars, a CO2 fractional laser is the best option as it shows promising results. But multiple sittings may be required depending upon the severity of the scars. If the scar is small in size, you can also opt for a scar revision surgery which gives very good results. It is best to visit a cosmetologist who can monitor the scars and advise a treatment based on his/her observation.

Can I get rid of under-eye dark circles with yoga?

Answered by face yoga expert Danielle Collins

You can beat dark circles by doing a face yoga exercise called 'circle the eyes'. To do this, place your middle fingers at the beginning of your eyebrows. Now gently tap around your eyes following the top of your brows and continue doing so under your eyes, at the top of your cheekbones to the inside corners of your eyes. Repeat, going in the opposite direction making little tapping motions. This will help reduce under-eye wrinkles, boosting blood circulation to prevent dark circles and also help relax the muscles.

Now with your index fingers, very gently stroke just under the eyes in the outward direction. Do this four times to relax the area. This action helps reduce eye bags and puffiness by removing toxins and increasing blood flow and oxygen to the area. Read more about why you have dark circles. tip

The skin under your eyes is extremely thin, thinner than your face's skin so it needs extra care. There are no oil glands present here so applying an under-eye gel or cream is recommended. Do this every night to keep it hydrated and prevent lines and wrinkles, get rid of dark circles. You can try gels with aloe vera, vitamin E and C as they are good for your skin, soothing, protect the skin and boost collagen production respectively.

One way to soothe your tired eyes naturally is by putting ice-cold teabags on them, especially of green tea as it is rich in antioxidants. Instead of throwing those bags, store them in the fridge and then keep them on your eyelids and surrounding area and relax. Another way to remove puffiness is by wrapping an ice cube in a towel and placing it on your eyes. This naturally helps get rid of those dark circles. Here are some tips to get rid of dark circles using a concealer.

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