How the pandemic redefined beauty as self-care

2021’s final edition of wknd. conversations deep dove into all things skin

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Dr Marwa El Badawy
Dr Marwa El Badawy

Somya Mehta

Published: Thu 6 Jan 2022, 6:31 PM

Last updated: Fri 7 Jan 2022, 9:11 PM

The pandemic changed many things in our lives, amongst which was also the prism through which we view the world around us and subsequently — the prism through which we perceive beauty. As our faces got buried underneath layers of protection and surgical masks became the new-age accessory, the focus of ‘beauty’ has shifted a few inches deeper than just surface level.

Nisha Ganapathy (left) and Haifa Zakaria Arora (right)
Nisha Ganapathy (left) and Haifa Zakaria Arora (right)

The recent edition of wknd. conversations that took place on December 22 spotlighted the changing norms of beauty and how self-care, and more specifically, skincare has emerged at the centre of it. The event took place at Fakeeh University Hospital and gathered influencers, industry experts and specialist dermatologists to decode the multi-faceted layers of skincare in 2021 and what it means for the beauty industry, going forward.

The panel discussion comprised Haifa Zakaria Arora, digital content creator and beauty influencer, Dr Syed Amjad Ali Shah, chief and senior consultant dermatologist, Nisha Ganapathy, group product manager at Dabur, Dr Shivani Gauba Wadhwa and Dr Marwa El Badawy, specialist dermatologists. The panelists discussed how the understanding of skincare has evolved in recent years and the increased focus on anti-aging within skincare.

“We can define ageing as a process by which cells become damaged, resulting in wrinkling, dryness of skin and different types of pigmentation,” said Dr Shah, adding how genetics play a big role in the ageing process. “Environmental factors like UV radiation also cause ageing,” he added. Speaking of some ways to combat the external stress factors, the dermatologist also mentioned, “There are two ways to improve your skin. You can either improve the surface of the skin or the deeper layer of the skin, which will slow down the ageing process,” said Dr Shah.

Dr Syed Amjad Ali Shah
Dr Syed Amjad Ali Shah

Dr El Badawy further explained, “Our skin sheds every 30 days and new skin comes to the surface. As we age, the 30-day window widens, which is what causes lines and wrinkles.”

When it comes to skincare, a lot has changed over the years, the panelists reiterated. “It seems like the older generation didn’t have so many complications. My father still says, just wash your face using regular products and that will suffice,” said Nitinn R. Miranni, the moderator for the afternoon, asking whether it is because of our changing environmental factors that there’s an increasing need to take care of our skin and health.

In its response, Dr Shah added: “Skincare has become elaborate because of the awareness and technology, especially in pharmaceuticals. There’s a dearth of new products, like antioxidant medications, including technology like lasers, botox and fillers.”

“If options are there then humans are tempted to avail them,” said Dr Shah.

“These days, people in their 30s and 40s are looking much younger,” added beauty influencer Haifa Zakaria. She started her journey in 2015 and has gained a sizeable following since, catering to a diverse range of age groups through her digital content. The Dubai-based content creator also mentioned: “Back in the day, perhaps due to lack of awareness, people couldn’t take care of themselves in the same way as they do now.”

“I love taking care of myself, it’s like meditation for me. But at the same time, as influencers when we share our skincare routines on social media, it doesn’t necessarily mean the same thing will work for everyone. It’s important to seek professional advice,” said Arora.

While there’s greater awareness on one side, there’s also an increase in the accessibility of attaining unrealistic beauty standards, whether it is through airbrushed filters or real-life procedures.

“There’s no control in terms of the amount of exposure people get from social media. But it’s very important, now more than ever, to be comfortable in your skin,” said Nisha Ganapathy, group product manager of Dabur. “As brands, we also have to be careful about the messaging of our beauty campaigns. It’s important to address how brand advertisements reach out to the masses. So, the impact of wrong messaging can be grave.”

Dr Shivani Gauba Wadhwa
Dr Shivani Gauba Wadhwa

The dermatologists also spotlighted the importance of having adequate sun protection as a way of protecting skin damage due to harmful UV radiation. “There are two types of ageing, one is genetically determined, known as chronological ageing. The other is extrinsic ageing, which is determined by our environmental factors. Lifestyle is the most important factor, as is sun exposure,” said Dr Wadhwa.

“It’s a great idea to age gracefully but at the same time it’s good to take care of your skin. You shouldn’t take ageing as an excuse for not taking care of yourself. That’s not the right attitude,” the dermatologist concluded.

wknd. conversations is a monthly interactive platform where influential leaders from different industries come together for an interactive session on a variety of subjects.

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