Once upon a time in a land far away, where my Nani’s and Dadi’s and their Nani’s and Dadi’s lived, everyone had skin that was healthy... It shined and it glowed and it glimmered and it blushed and all this without a speck of mineral make up or bronzer or a BB cream.
Then came our time, and even though we had all the mineral make up and bronzers and BB creams and dermatologists we still had unhealthy and dull and dark skin with no glow.
It’s ironical that with all the money that is poured in (and that figure is running in millions!) to make all these advanced creams and make up material and the time that is being put in by dermatologists to learn the latest cosmetology treatments, we still have failed to reproduce the skins of our ancestors despite carrying their glorious genes of beauty.
So what changed?
And we blamed it on TIME... rather the lack of it.
I have consistently been saying that the skin is the largest organ of the body and like all organs it too communicates to us its likes and dislikes. So when you get pimples or hair fall and greying of hair, then it is not solely a cosmetic issue, it is your skin trying to tell you that something somewhere there is some disharmony in the body.
So let’s try and decode the language of the skin.
1. Acne/ Hair fall/ Hair thinning
Other than the hereditary factor that plays a role in the causing these conditions, the biggest factor that is causing these conditions is, no not pollution, not your shampoos or oils or conditioners or face washes... its the lifestyle. Faulty lifestyle, by default, causes increased body fat. Let me clarify that being fat is a different thing from having excess body fat. I have seen girls and boys weighing a mea
gre 45 kgs and still having high body fat and no muscle. So it doesn’t matter how much you weigh on the scale anymore. Your body fat content (visceral ) is a more important indicator of your health.
These increased levels of fat, cause insulin resistance. This insulin resistance causes raised androgens (DHT or Testosterone ) levels and these hormones start acting on the body to cause acne and hair fall.
2. Dark circles
Popularly considered as a cosmetic problem... it is actually far from being only a cosmetic problem. It is related to the stress levels (mental or physical) of the body. Also, lack of sleep, late nights etc all are a form of stress that we put on our body. Let’s not forget the work stress that has become our best friend. So here too, using 100’s of creams will not help.
3. Greying of hair/ Stunted hair growth
Throughout the day, a lot of oxidative processes (damaging processes) are happening in the body and to counteract these damages anti-oxidative (repairing) processes are occurring simutaneously. Undue stress over the body, especially faulty eating habits catapults these oxidative damages to a very high level. So much so that the body is unable to cope up with the repairing of these stresses at that level! It’s like asking 1 person to clean up garbage generated by a 100 families!
So, what does your body do?
It starts diverting all the repairmen towards the vital organs like the heart and the brain and the liver... and starts ignoring the (non vital parts) hair and along with it the skin as well. And that’s when we start seeing greying of hair. Because optimum nutrition isn’t reaching the body, optimum nutrition isn’t going to reach your hair for them to grow nice and thick and black! So, you can take all the vital hair supplements available in the market... nothing can compare the nutritional value that you get through a healthy and balanced diet. Only taking oral supplements will never suffice.
4. Recurrent bacterial (boils) or fungal infections
Even though the infections are restricted to the skin, recurrent infections should make you think if something is not in order with your body.
The commonest causes of recurrent fungal infections (anywhere on the body) could be due to staying too wet/damp for longer periods of time. For e.g., it could be something as simple as wearing damp clothes, washing your groins every time you use the loo, wearing synthetic garments and undergarments, wearing closed shoes, constantly washing dishes and clothes etc. The sweat or water aggravate the moisture and this creates a conducive environment for the fungus to grow.
Many times recurrent bacterial infections (like boils etc) can be due to the use of antiseptic and antibacterial soaps and solutions. Surprising isn’t it ? but it’s true. These antiseptic or antibacterial soaps and solutions all kill the (commensals) ‘good’ bacteria of the body. So once these good bacteria are gone... it is easy for the (pathogenic) ‘bad’ bacteria to come and invade and cause infections.
And more alarming than the above is that, recurrent infections can occur because of improper immunity. Diabetes, Blood pressure, raised cholesterol etc all create a load on the body thus leading to improper functioning of immunity.
I retrospectively try and analyse why did my nani and dadi have such healthy skin? Anyone would argue that 'times have changed', 'life is hectic' and we are stressed. But for the sake of counter argument, I want to say that they had our Nani's and Dadi's lives were as stressed and as hectic as ours... there was the independence struggle, wars ( no food available at times), poverty (because families were huge with as many as 11 children in one family with the father earning and the mother cooking), lack of transportation, lack of security, insufficient education... and yet everyone had healthy skin. They didn't have freedom, weren't well off (which most of you reading this are...), didn't have maid servants, drivers, cars to take them to salons, dermatologists and didn't even know what BB creams and bronzers were... By jove, they didn't even know what a beauty parlour was. And yet... their time was far more 'healthier' than ours... DESPITE THE STRESS.
Only using creams and facials and getting treatments from dermatologists doesn't work.
To cut a long story short: Stress matters - Physical or Emotional. Our Nani's and Dadi's were more active then we are today. So that activity helped their skin and health despite the emotional ups and downs. For us, we aren't as physically active and our emotional turmoils have shot up rather than gone down. We have come to a point where only coping with physical stress by changing lifestyles is not sufficient. Learning how to deal with your emotional health matters as much. Truth be told, managing it matters more than coping with it.
We, as humans, have learnt the art of ‘coping’ with stress. And managing and coping are two completely different mechanisms. When you cope with stress, you momentarily deal with it. But when you manage stress, you have authority over it and it doesn’t affect you as it should.
Herein lies the magic of a beautiful skin: Learning how to manage your stress, and then moving on to overcoming it as well.
As the famous endocrinologist Hans Selye says,
‘Its not the stress that kills us, its our reaction to it.’
Listen to your skin and hair talk and then react to it. Your hair and skin are under stress as well. They have a language that you need to understand... the sooner you do the better!
~ Dr Pradnya Manwatkar
Head of Dermatology
Skin Matra, Mahim/ Thane