Beauty store aisles can be intimidating with their towering shelves of in fancy packaging. We walk you through the daunting process of ‘Which one do I buy??’
Shopping for skin care products has long gone beyond the ambit of soap and shampoo. Now every shopping basket willingly accommodates an entire array of skin and hair care products. Some of these products which are purchased on a whim, end up being great skin care companions, while others end up in the wastebasket after a use or two.
So how do we maximise the value of our supermarket skin care purchases?
First, the basics:
Soap or body wash, for starters. We may choose to follow it up with a moisturiser, depending on the humidity of where we live, and our work conditions. Sunscreens are an absolute must, and so the shopping basket needs to make some room for a good sunblock product or two. Lip balms are now universally used by both genders, especially those working in air conditioned environments for long, so that’s the next on the shopping list. Then the hair care stuff, which should include a shampoo, a conditioner, either a leave-in or a rinse-off variant, and may be, some heat styling agents, depending on the need for the day.
Bar or Bottle?
The choice between a bar of soap and a bottle of body wash, depends on the pH, and any skin issues that need to be addressed. Soaps generally tend to be harsher, but nowadays, syndets and pH balanced soaps are available, and can be explored. Body washes are gentler, but it is important to stay away from strong colours and perfumes, especially if you have sensitive and/or itchy skin. For the climate we’re experiencing right now, it is good to go with moisturising body washes. They may lather less, but they do condition the skin better. If confused with too many options in the body wash aisle, it is best to settle down with a baby range product, particularly for winter, even for adults.
The need for body moisturiser post your bath/ shower, depends on your ambient weather. The moisturiser can be skipped if you are going to be in a humid, sweaty environment. If mostly in an airconditioned environment, it is best to follow the 3 minute rule of moisturising, which is basically locking in the moisture on the skin, by applying your moisturiser within 3 minutes of your bath/ shower. A mild moisturiser is enough, given the humidity and the pollution. Again, an easy choice is a baby care range product.
A Cautious ‘Ray-Ban’
Sunscreens need to be checked for two parameters- SPF which measures the protection from UVB rays, and PA protection factor, which states the protection provided against UVA rays. UVA rays are the ones primarily responsible for ageing and pigmentation. Nowadays, we even have infrared and visible light filters, for those with pigmentation and skin issues, or with excessive IR exposure, like in the kitchen.
Shampoos come in various colors, variants, and when it comes to choosing the correct one, well, here’s the truth : there is no ‘one best shampoo’ that will fit all, well not even one best shampoo that will suit the same person, through all climates and weathers. To simplify the dilemma, an easy trick is to look at opaque and clear formulations. The former tend to be gentler, and the latter, a little harsher to provide stronger cleansing. It is good to alternate between the two, depending on the oiliness of the scalp, and the dirt that you are exposed to. This is dandruff season for the southern part of the country, so an anti-dandruff shampoo may be added to the shopping cart. However, anti dandruff formulations also tend to frizz out the hair, so it better to use the anti dandruff product on the scalp, where the scaling is actually going on. The hair can continue to be washed with the regular shampoo.
On one conditioner
Lastly the choice between a leave on, and a rinse off conditioner. Given the right product, there is no major advantage of one over the other in terms of conditioning the hair. However, a leave-on product scores over the rinse-off variant in terms of savings in time and water. Further, for heat styling and similar actions, a leave-on product becomes mandatory, so the choice is clear there.
A lil extra goodness!
So with the basics done, what else does one need? A styling agent for the hair? The rule of thumb is, anything goes on the hair, nothing gets on the scalp. The scalp is a well oiled machine, literally, so to speak, and comes with its own set of oil glands which nourish the lower part of the hair shafts. So the scalp, doesn’t actually need any further oiling, leave alone overnight soaks, which can typically worsen pimples on the face and the back.
What about finishing up with some products that also work on the skin for some long term benefit? Two agents are important here, vitamins A and C. Retinol-containing creams and Vitamin C serums are fast becoming a part of everyone’s daily routine. The night routine should definitely include one of these. Formulation is an important aspect to these night serums/creams, and you may need a little bit of professional help, to match the product to your skin.
Here’s to happy shopping!
About the author:
Dr Renita Rajan is the Chief Consultant Cosmetic Dermatologist at ‘Renders Skin and Hair’, clinic for skin, hair and body concerns. She is one among the top consultant cosmetic dermatologist in Chennai.