This month, Dr. Jamuna Pai on preparing your skin for the winter and sharing sunscreen with your spouse

 

I have severe darkening on my lips of late. I don’t smoke or go out in the sun much. Could there be another reason?

Maybe it is genetic. To lessen this problem, you could start with exfoliating your lips. You could do this with your toothbrush after brushing your teeth, to exfoliate the dead skin cells off your lips. However, you should take care to do this gently so as not to hurt the lips. After exfoliation, always apply a coat of lip balm to moisturize and soften it. You could use petroleum jelly too. Remember to massage your lips gently with a good lip balm every night. During the day, it is advisable to use a lip balm with an SPF 15. If you follow this routine without fail every day, you can definitely see the difference in a few weeks time. You can even lighten the lip colour by a semi-permanent tattooing technique.

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How are sunscreens for men different? Can’t I just use the same one as my wife?

The primary need of the skin being the same, the ingredients of the skin care products like a sunscreen do not differ. As the skin of men is 25 per cent thicker than that of a woman, it is the strength and concentration of these ingredients that are more intense in a men’s skin care range when compared to that of women’s skin care products. More than the gender, it is important to select the skin care product based on the skin type you have. Also there is no onesize- fits-all skin care product. Every skin and lifestyle is different and your skin care should reflect this. What you use, how you use it and when you do so is very important for women and men alike. If your wife and you have similar skin type, you can surely use the sunscreen that she has.

My family has a history of balding as early as the age of 30. What can I do to avoid it? 

One thing that you need to remember is that the number of hair follicles that a person is born with is always going to be the same throughout his life. No medication or, for that matter, shaving (as is believed) can increase these follicles ever. Again, as hair loss is also genetic, you can do very little to stop it. What can be done, however, is delaying this phenomenon by taking oral supplements that have Biotin and Calcium Panthotenate. Minoxidil based hair solutions also help in retarding the hair loss and increase temporary hair growth. But all this can be started after consulting a doctor as it is always safer to be under medical supervision. The other solution would be shaving off the hair permanently, opting for hair weaving or a hair transplant.

I’ve tried a lot of products but none have helped get rid of my dark circles. What is the best solution?

Lack of good sleep, sleeping late, wrong eating habits, not drinking enough water, long hours of work in front of the computer, constant use of mobile phones, long hours of watching television, not wearing spectacles despite being advised to wear them, low hemoglobin and stress are other factors that account for the under eye darkening. You must have used products from the exhaustive number of creams that are available in the market to lighten the dark circles. They include lightening agents made from berry extracts such as kojic acid, arbutin and azelic acid. They are all are good, but if they have been ineffective, perhaps they may be mild for you. Meet your doctor, who can advise stronger products or some peel treatments for the same.

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How should I prepare my skin for the upcoming winter months?

The most common skin problem encountered in winters is excessive dry skin on the face, body and even hair. After bathing or showering and before drying the skin completely, apply a moisturizer to seal the water in the skin before it can evaporate. Moisturizers should be reapplied liberally during the day and evening, especially to those areas prone to dryness (hands, arms, legs) and when itchy. Whilst selecting moisturizers in winter, one should look for active hydrating ingredients like urea, lactic acid, shea butter and sunflower oil as these lock in the moisture and keep skin hydrated for longer periods.

What are some easy home remedies for acne?

For acne: Application of fresh mint juice over the face every night cures pimples without drying the skin excessively.

For oily skin: Applying a pack of multani mitti (Fullers Earth) and rose water is also a good drying and healing mask for acne with an oily skin.

 

Dr. Jamuna Pai is a cosmetic physician, author and the founder of Skin Lab