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Expert Speak: Why Indian Skin Is Different And How To Understand Our Product Labels

Expert Speak: Why Indian Skin Is Different And How To Understand Our Product Labels

There’s so much of a buzz around Japanese and Korean skin in the country that very little is known about Indian skin. It’s not just South Asian beauty products that fascinate us, it’s also to do with their skin’s texture. It’s dewy, supple and clear. Who doesn’t want that, right? We all do! But sometimes, we have to be more realistic, keeping our roots in mind. No product can magically even out your skin and brighten your complexion. There are many factors to take into consideration. Diet, climate, air quality and of course, genetics, play a huge role in understanding one’s skin. 

Take Indian skin for instance. According to the Fitzpatrick’s skin typing test (a numerical classification schema for human skin colour), Indian skin falls under grade 4 and 5. While caucasian skin looks similar to Indian skin, the latter is more resilient to tanning and getting sunburnt. However, Indian skin comes with its own share of problems like pigmentation such as melasma and perioral melanosis.

What’s disheartening is that for the longest time, we had no product specifically designed to cater to Indian skin’s needs. Our beauty markets have been dominated by international brands for years! However, in the past decade, both homegrown brands and international beauty brands are slowly learning more about Indian skin colour spectrums and are doing away with the one-size-fits-all concept. To give us insight on Indian skin and what makes it different from the rest, we looped in Dr Aneesh Sheth, CEO at Dr Sheth Enterprises.

What Exactly Makes Indian Skin Different?


According to Dr Aneesh Sheth, Indian skin has plenty of differences–both with respect to its biology and the way it has evolved due to our environment. The most obvious of these is the skin’s propensity to pigment easier. As a result, almost every Indian will develop pigmentation at some point in their lives and it’s not a question of ‘if’, but ‘when’.

Other differences, he says, include an increased TEWL (trans-epidermal water loss), decreased ceramide content – increased incidence of eczema (which, again, can lead to pigmentation). There are also lifestyle disorders that one faces like PCOD and diabetes–both of which contribute heavily to our biology. In fact, Dr Aneesh says that women with PCOD tend to have much more androgen (the ‘male’ hormones) – which result in increased acne, increased facial hair, increased weight gain. The environment which has air pollution has been linked to an increase in sensitivity and eczema as well as hair fall.

A Mini Guide Understanding Indian Product Labels


Some products born on Indian soil have labels such as ‘herbal’ ‘organic’ and ‘natural’ mentioned on the packaging–ever wondered how authentic are they? Dr Aneesh Sheth has an interesting take on this.  “As for the back of a label–unlike other countries, India does not mandate we declare the non ‘key ingredients’ on a label if it’s less than 60ml. Herbal or AYUSH products have different regulations for labelling as well–so a lot of products can be labelled as ‘herbal’ and not require a deeper level of scrutiny. Of course, each country does have its own regulatory requirements–especially when you’re talking about actives. For example, in the US, sunscreens are considered a form of ‘drugs’; in some parts of the EU you are mandated to declare certain cosmeceutical ingredients, in japan things like acids and retinoids are classified as ‘quasi-drugs’–so the list continues.”

The bottom line is when shopping for skincare products, do your research beforehand. Invest in products that are specially curated for your skin type. Read up on reviews, try samples and if you have doubts, your dermatologist is always just a call away. 

Featured Image: Shutterstock

06 Jul 2020

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