Growing up, we are taught to believe that a perfect flawless complexion is our ticket to a happy fulfilling life. Umpteen number of advertisements, movies, sitcoms, magazines, books and well-wishers are constantly advising us on what to eat, how long to sleep, what habits to cultivate and what lifestyles to adopt so that we can look the best we possibly can. Chances are, your own life is at least partly centered on this. Trolling websites for articles, asking clear skinned friends for suggestions, gobbling up lifestyle magazines in search of celebrity tips and of course the age old source of grandmothers and mothers who are such a treasure house of yesteryear’s secret of classic beauty tips that never seem to get old. Perhaps some of these have worked for you. Some might have backfired. Some seem to be working, but actually you are unknowingly doing your skin harm. These consequences will come to light later in life when it will likely be too late to do anything about it.
Anyone who has gone through a couple of issues of Cosmopolitan feels qualified enough to offer advice on such areas. The internet is a mouthpiece for all such self-proclaimed beauty experts. Unless your information is coming from a strictly reliable and scientific source, it is always better to take it with a pinch of salt. Some tips have been perpetuated for so long that the truth is taken for granted in its sheer repetition. After suffering through some humiliating episodes myself, this is an attempt to deconstruct popular beauty and skin remedies that people ridiculously choose to believe.
10. Photoshop Is Not Real Life
How many times have you wistfully gazed at the picture perfect face of an actor or a model in a celeb mag and ruefully wondered why, despite all your efforts, can you not look like that? The answer is because they don’t either. In this glamour obsessed world that we live in, there is no place for imperfection. All people are different and unique. But does the fashion world realize that when everyone is reduced to a super perfect single standard definition of beauty? Jennifer Lawrence looked breathtakingly beautiful in the new Dior Ads. Before you let jealousy get ahead of you, know that she herself admitted no one looks that good in real life. It’s all Photoshop. If that is the goal you have been aspiring to, then you are doing it all wrong. Be it a Hollywood hunk’s ripping muscles or a diva’s translucent skin, it is a story they are trying to sell you so that you feel inadequate and incomplete. Consequently, you will go out and splurge on products to increase your chances of success and the billion dollar beauty industry will keep getting richer. Stand in front of a mirror and look deeply. If you don’t like what you see, it’s because your perception is wrong. Not your body. Accept that foremost, perfection is a myth where humanity is concerned. Learn to love the skin you are in. Therein, your battle will be won.
9. More Expensive Does Not Imply Better
What I said earlier about the billion dollar beauty industry benefitting from your gullibility applies here too. The glossy ads and the heavily photo shopped celebrities may have you convinced that the more money you spend on beauty treatments, the more beautiful you will look. But that could not be further from the truth. This is a game of manipulation and you are the victim. Look at the ingredients carefully at the back of each product. What you put on your skin matters much more than how much it cost. Most times, the extra money you are paying is actually for the attractive packaging than the contents. What’s more is that simplistic products with key ingredients are far more likely to work their magic than exotic elixirs that promise too much. Unless they have given you anything to complain about, stick to your drugstore brands. Both your pocket and your skin will than you.
8. How Much Is Too Much?
Remember the Arabian Nights tale of Ali Baba and Forty Thieves. When Ali Baba entered the robbers cave, he took with him precious little treasure that he could carry out safely. His greedy brother Mir Kasim helped himself to so much load that he remained stuck inside and eventually became pulp fodder for the dacoits. Your skin is a natural treasure that will either glow with the right amount of care or wilt under excessive primping. Don’t let your skin become a victim in your greed for extra treasure. Letting it breathe is the best you can do for your skin. Clogging it up with creams and potions, make up and toners will only rob it of its natural oils and essences. Keep it clean and moisturized. That’s all you really need to do. A little extra for vanity’s sake is all right. But more than that, revisit the Arabian tale for the moral of that story.
7. Too Much Emphasis, Not Enough Basics
Beauty is not skin deep. It goes much deeper than what you put on your face and which salon you visit for what treatments. But given that we live in the era of quick results and plastic surgeries, cultivating patience and good habits that will ensure long lasting beauty results is not an option for many. The emphasis is on all the wrong things. Instead of going with the crowd, focus on the needs of your body and mind. Your skin, hair, nails and complexion is a direct result of what you eat and the lifestyle you lead. No amount of expensive creams and creative treatments can undo damage inflicted by years of bad habits. Treatments including bird poop, buffalo semen, chocolate and wine and bee stings are all the rage. Instead of rushing off to try the latest fad in skincare, why not return to the roots a little? Try eating a fibre rich diet and balance it with exercise and adequate sleep. Infuse your skin with vitamins and minerals and give natural remedies a go. Coconut oil, tea tree oil, rose water, lavender oil, etc. are excellent for the skin. Splash your face with water and apply simple water based moisturizer. Let it breathe throughout the day and don’t slather on night creams and day creams in an effort to look good. The results will speak for themselves.
6. No Cream or Potion Can Erase Wrinkles
Of all the revenues generated by the beauty industry, the maximum probably comes from people desperate to retain their youth forever. Aging is stereotyped to be a bad thing and all its signs despicably abhorred. It is treated to be the most unwanted of all symptoms, as if it is not the most inevitable and natural thing in the world. Well, whatever they tell you to believe is not true. Man is yet to become god and as such cannot reverse the process of aging. No matter how many gold and diamond dust infused creams you buy, no remedy has been clinically proven to erase wrinkles and return your skin to its youthful glow. The best you can do is to use SPF religiously and protect your skin from the harsh wrinkle inducing rays of the sun. That apart you can use Retinol, a cheap drugstore ointment that will prevent the onset of wrinkles. But you cannot turn the clock back. Instead of being so hard on yourself, enjoy the changes time has brought to your face and body. They tell memorable stories.
5. Au Natural Not Necessarily the Best
While nature has some stunningly easy solutions to many beauty problems, relying on these regularly is not a good idea. Many of us like to concoct kitchen potions for beauty problems because we believe they are natural, free of chemicals and full proof. Many of these recipes are handed down the generations and we take them to be true at face value. Most of these are old wives tales, based more on superstition than science. Also raw products in their natural form are far more potent than their regulated measure in store bought counterparts. Applying it to your face without protection can be harmful. Strike a balance between natural and cosmetic. Going extreme either way is death knell for your skin.
4. Product Paraphernalia
When it comes to skin and beauty, the mantra always is less is more. Corporate giants may have you convinced that you need a separate day cream, nigh cream, eye cream, hand cream, foot cream, toner, astringent, ten different face masks and the list goes on. But the more you slather, the more you cut off your skin’s ability to breathe. Moreover, there is no concrete research to prove that different parts of the face require different creams and lotions. Under eye is a delicate area, yes. But it does not need the zillion dollar crème de la mere to survive. Any good moisturizing cream will do. No cardinal sin is committed if your day cream and night cream is the same. Use your body lotion as hand cream. It will work just as well.
3. Age No Bar
Another ridiculous myth that thrives on the paranoia surrounding the phenomenon of aging. If age marked products were to be believed then every age group separated by five years would need an entirely different army of products and treatments to fulfil basic beauty needs. But the biggest myth is that you need to buy products based on your age. You need to buy products based on your skin type. The marketing and branding will tell you otherwise because they want more people buying more things and making more money for them. If eighty year old and five year olds can benefit by using the same cold cream, then pray what is the big controversy about forty and fifty year olds using the same products.
2. Pores Woes
oncealer, toner, astringent, foundation…. You have a hive of products to hide or decrease the size of your pores. Bad news, not gonna happen. Just like the anti-wrinkle cream, creams that promise smaller pores are no less fairy tale. You can use natural remedies, like egg masks, to shrink your pores for a little while. But this is highly temporary. Try using an egg white mask before a party, if large pores seem hideous to you. You will have tiny pores for about two hours before they become craters again. But like I say, what’s the big deal? Its all part and parcel of your natural persona. Accept it and revel in it. Just don’t shell out valuable bucks for pore shrinking miracles. They don’t exist.
1. Petroleum Jelly The One Stop Solution
Marilyn Monroe claimed to have used tons of petroleum jelly on her face every night before hitting the sack. If you idolize her beauty, please don’t follow her regime because it will yield the opposite results. How much truth is there in her statement is debatable, but petroleum jelly is not the all in one beauty solution that we have been taught to believe since childhood. It is essentially a by-product of petrol. Why would anyone put that on their body, let alone face? Since the soles of feet are thick, it makes sense to slather it there in case of cracked feet. But putting it on face will lead to black heads, white heads, clogged pores and a whole host of other negatives. Petroleum jelly is liberally applied on the body during winter months and on cuts and wounds. Please stop this habit as well. Apply antiseptic lotions and moisturizing creams. Keep the jelly as far away as possible.