How to pick the right skincare products
A dermatologist advices on the skincare non-negotiables that should be a part of every routine
Have you ever wondered the difference between a serum and skin essence? Or have been confused by the meaning of AHA and BHA acids on product labels? Skincare, the most important part of our beauty routine can often be the most confusing. If done right, a good skincare regimen is not only gratifying but can cut down your make-up routine by half. We talk to Dr Geetika Mittal Gupta, the medical director and founder of ISAAC Luxe on the fundamentals of creating the ideal skincare routine. She talks to us about the importance of using a toner and her go-to sunscreen.
“It’s important to use a good cleanser twice a day to clear the debris on your face that can come from anything like a workout or even spending time in the sun,” she says. Dr Geetika favours gentle cleansers over the abrasive homemade ones. Her top picks include Bioderma and Cetaphil.
Alcohol-based toners of the past were known to dry out skin. But today toners are an essential part of any routine, no matter what your skin type. “It acts as a supplement that adds an extra short of vitamins and nutrients. Pick a toner with ingredients that are not there in your serum and moisturiser. You can dab it on your face with a cotton pad or directly with your palms. The idea is to lock in moisture.” She prefers toners with AHA and BHA for mild exfoliation (like Pixi Glow Tonic) or hyaluronic acid. You can also use green tea or rose water.
Take a note out of the time-tested Korean skincare routine and apply an essence right after the toner. Dr Geetika explains, “They are thicker then toners, but lighter than serums that allows more actives to get into your skin. You simply pour some in your palm, and dab it on your face. If your skin is too oily, it’s best avoided in summer.” She recommends SK-II.
Dr Geetika calls this the most powerful skin ally that can help treat skin issues. “The most common actives are hyaluronic acid (for dry skin), vitamin C, D3, niacinamide, retinol, but you need to pick one based on your skin type,” she says. “It’s best to use one in the morning, especially vitamin C that can help fight sun and pollution damage.” She recommends Skinceuticals, FCL Vitamin C-scape, iS Clinical. She warns, “Never mix your serum with your moisturiser. Rub it in your palm and then gently press it on your face before applying moisturiser.”
“The lockdown has increased our screen time and decreased our sleep causing a lot of stress under the eyes. While more sleep is important to heal the area, you can start using eye cream post 25.” She recommends a few drops of Filogra and L’Occitane. “At night use an under-eye cream that helps rejuvenate the skin and a protecting eye cream during the day.”
Think of this as the step to seal in all the other ingredients. “It’s very important even if you have oily skin,” says Dr Geetika. She suggests using a lightweight, water-soluble gel formula, and a creamy texture for dry skin. Dr Geetika favours Estee Lauder Day Wear Moisturiser with SPF 15 for her day time routine.
“It is the most important and crucial step in skincare,” says Dr Geetika. “It not only protects from sun damage, but also protects from future skin issues like pigmentation, fine lines, melasma.” You can pick between chemical and physical sunblock, depending on your preference. She recommends any sunscreen with SPF 30 and PA+++ from brands like ISDIN Fotoprotector, La Shield, UV Doux, Kiehl’s and Heliocare (for acne-prone skin). “Apply is half an hour before stepping out, and then every three hours if you’re out for longer periods.”
Photograph: Rossella Vanon