Dubai: This influencer is busting myths about 'good' skincare

UAE-based skincare consultant and digital creator Nipun Kapur Sohal on what works and what doesn't in an industry that's hyper-focused on sales


Anamika Chatterjee

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Published: Tue 14 May 2024, 8:45 PM

Have you ever wondered when exactly skincare became so important that it demanded 8-10 steps in order to be fully realised? In the age of social media, when anyone and everyone is under scrutiny, it makes sense to care for the very foundation of beauty — the skin. At the same time, the incredible pace of our daily lives have also ushered in an era of wellness where skincare has almost become a form of self-care — you look good, you feel good. That feel-good factor has come to define an industry that is expected to contribute a whopping $186.60 billion in revenue worldwide. In a nutshell, when it comes to skincare, the stakes are really high.

That’s the reason why you will find many content creators on social media talking about skin hacks — the quick-fixes that help you look and feel your best. Nipun Kapur Sohal is not one of them. The UAE-based skinfluencer is a certified consultant and having amassed a robust following, she is known to bust skincare myths that most are often raving about needlessly. For example, conventional wisdom tells us that actives are not quite good for the skin. “That is a myth,” Nipun tells us. “Actives have existed in skincare for over 100 years but they were used by prestigious skincare brands such as Elizabeth Arden, Shiseido and others. Milk extract and sugarcane has been a common ingredient and is a natural source of lactic acid, which is an AHA. The legendary 8-Hour Cream from Elizabeth Arden had salicylic acid. What we have today are lab-produced actives which make them more affordable for companies to produce and hence more affordable for consumers.”

Actives like alpha-hydroxy acids and beta-hydroxy acids have become staples in modern skincare regimen. Have acne? Apply salicylic acid. Hyperpigmented? Go for Lactic Acid. Often oversimplified on social media, the skin can suffer horribly when the amount and quality of actives is compromised. “The problem is today, they are available in individual formats, thanks to brands like The Ordinary and are available in medium-to-high concentrations, which means overuse can severely damage the skin barrier and cause long-term side-effects. This is why education is key and while brands like The Ordinary have done a great job of educating consumers with content on their websites, many others have not focused on education, but done a quick cut-copy-paste.”

Nipun’s passion for skincare took root as a young girl who was intrigued by everything she saw in her mother’s vanity case. “She had a simple but dedicated beauty regimen that she followed for as long as she lived. When I look back, I see myself as this little girl in awe of her mother’s beauty and the beautiful creams that smelt amazing. That’s what laid the foundation for what I do today. It’s incredibly personal.”

The simple skincare regimen is not-so-simple anymore. Nipun has further trademarked a formula that she claims brings most desirable results for the skin. The C4 Method stands for cleanse, correct, complement and cover. Cleansing involves routine washing of the face, while correcting means to use serums or other treatments that attend to the problems of the skin. Complement involves adding a serum that aids the primary treatment and works best in cases of melasma, hyperpigmentation and intense fine lines and wrinkles. Cover, as conventional wisdom suggests, is about applying sunscreen (during the day) and night cream.

“I am also an ardent Korean skincare user and believer. However, the requirements of the skin vary not based on ethnicity alone but also where we live, the weather conditions there, our lifestyle and diet. When Korean skincare boomed, I realised people were also overdosing their skin with serums, essences, ampoules and creams without really understanding the needs of their skin and what ingredients could really help. Hence, I trademarked the C4 Method in an attempt to simplify skincare routines. Consumers need to buy less but buy right,” she says, adding that she first started creating content on skincare in mid-2021 on TikTok and graduated to YouTube in April 2022 before deep-diving into Instagram. “My views resonate with people because I am the voice of reason in an industry that is hyperfocused on sales. I don’t endorse, I educate. I don’t try to influence, I actively influence.”

This is evident in the candour with which she dismisses the notion of pharmaceutical or medical-grade skincare being more effective than the ones manufactured by beauty brands. “If you need a prescription, it’s medical grade. Anything else is just skincare. For example, CeraVe is sold in pharmacies. It is not more or less effective than any other brand that sells in Sephora. Pharmacy is a location, not an indication of effectiveness.” Which also makes us wonder which skincare ingredient is the most misunderstood of them all. “I believe it’s collagen. Our skin has collagen that is naturally produced by the body and after the age of 25, we begin to lose it. However, collagen creams and serums are not capable of replacing the lost collagen. The molecular size of collagen as an ingredient is too large to penetrate the skin and hence it can only hydrate and moisturise. However, the marketing around collagen-based skincare and its claims are often misleading.”

Today, injectables are another talking point in the beauty industry. Where skincare products cannot make much of a difference, injectables have shown incredible results. Fearing ageing, a number of women consider injectables as a means of looking young and fresh at a time when ageism has intensified in many aspects of life. “I have to call a lot of content I create ‘anti-ageing’. While I am not fond of the term, algorithms suggest people do. The goal of skincare is to feel good in your skin — whether it is with topical skincare or injectables. In my opinion, however, it is 100 per cent possible to go through this beautiful gift of life without intervention.”

That is also true for haircare. One of the common misconceptions is that once you move to the UAE, you are likely to experience minor hair fall. “People tend to blame the water in their city for hair loss. However, one of the most prevalent reasons for hair loss is inadequate levels of Vitamin D3. Whether you are in the UAE or any other part of the world, the fact is that modern city living is not conducive for body to be exposed to natural sunlight at the right time for it to produce Vitamin D3. Therefore, it is important to invest in annual checkups, speaking to healthcare providers and getting the right supplements,” says Nipun. “In addition, using sulphate-free shampoos can be a game-changer as sulphates tend to dry our hair out, which leads to weakening of hair follicles and eventual hair loss.”

Speaking of dryness, constant exposure to air-conditioned environments can also lead to dry and itchy skin. “It is wise to invest in dehumidifiers, especially for the bedroom,” advises Nipun. “Our skin tends to dry out and lose water while we sleep. It is called trans-epidermal water loss. A dehumidifier can really help support skin health. In addition, using products that contain ceramides and peptides are great for overall skin health as they protect the natural skin barrier.”

As a skincare consultant, Nipun says she wants to help men and women see their own beauty through skincare and become the best versions of themselves. “I will continue to educate as many people as possible on skincare to empower them to make the right choices,” she says. “There is a book called Servant Leadership by Robert K. Greenleaf that has deeply impacted me as a person and professional. I take my role as a servant leader; it is a privilege to have a community one can serve. Skincare is my passion, my passion is my purpose and my purpose is to serve.”


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