Research on Indian Skin Care Products
Browsing randomly, I came across this article in the Indian Express on the research that goes behind product development, safety & efficiency testing of products made by Indian Companies. Which is none at all.. (Why am I not surprised?)
Personally I prefer buying make-up over skin care products. Maybe that is a result of me being a part of a generation that demands quick gratification.
But the article below confused me a great deal. My thoughts below:
- Who do I trust now? The company or the newspaper? or should I just forgo Indian products & buy imported ones (which are up to 5x more expensive)?
- How do I as a consumer make companies like Lakme, VLCC take my money & safety seriously enough to invest in studies?
- How do I know that the article below is sincere in its intent & not inspired/promoted by a bunch of cosmetic surgeons who would rather have you go under the knife (refer to the last line in article on botox) to plump up their practice?
- And if what they say is true, then most Indian women are already following the minimalistic routine mentioned in the article. Hardly any use sunscreens, moisturizers are used on a need-to basis, and the family soap is what is used for the face as well, why do they still suffer from dull, sun-burnt, patchy & dry skin. Most have stubborn dark circles.
- Compare them to our models & actresses who use all these products, and they have good skin too. Sure they too have the occasional bad skin day. But on the whole their skins are a lot better. Is it just due to better nutrition & genetics?
- The doctors quoted even go on to pooh-pooh all home made ayurvedic skin care treatments as not medically benefical. Actually they seem to question everything that they themselves were advocating untill a few years ago on daily cleansing, moisturising & sun-safety. Techniques such exfoliation have also been rubbished.
- Is sun-screen good or bad? How is it that something that was promoted as vital for my skin becomes indispensable all of a sudden? The doctors quoted negate skin care products as there is no research to back them up? But I also don't see any statistically valid medical research quoted to support the claims that Indians in Australia or in the hilly regions have less incidents of skin cancer. Indians are obsessed with fairness & most of them don't step into the sun for fear of tanning. Could that be behind less incidents of cancer?
What do you feel? What thoughts does it provoke?
I have pasted the article below, in case you want to read it directly the link is http://www.indianexpress.com/news/the-truth-about-magic-potions/160167/0
The truth about magic potions
Leher Kala Tags : Posted: Friday , Jun 22, 2007 at 1713 hrs
Manisha malhotra’s dressing table is littered with creams, lotions and gels. There are under-eye creams, anti-wrinkle serums, creams to remove stretch marks, and sun blocks. She can’t resist buying goodies for her skin, the 35-year-old says. “I don’t spend on make-up,” she insists, “Because good skin is the best make-up.”
Malhotra isn’t one of a kind. Dozens among us are hooked on to buying cosmetics marketed as magic potions to keep us blemish-free and radiant. How many of them actually make a difference? According to dermatologists, few, if any.
“These creams might make you smell good and temporarily soften your skin but they have absolutely no impact on the health of your skin,” says Delhi-based dermatologist Sandeep Kandhari. “For normal skin, glycerine and water work as well as the most expensive moisturiser.” Some Indian dermatologists even refute the importance of moisturising daily. “It should be done only if your skin is feeling parched, not as a ritual,” adds Dr Kandhari.
As affluent Indians become more brand-conscious, skincare budgets are on the rise. A variety of international brands are cashing in on the growing demand. Now, even the world’s most expensive skin products are available in Delhi and Mumbai. A small jar of Crème de La Mer, which has a devoted following in the West, costs an astounding $450 (Rs 18,370). Created by an aerospace physicist to treat his own burn scars, this cream is a concoction of seaweed extracts and mineral oil. A New Delhi shopkeeper who imports it for select clients reveals on condition of anonymity that he sells about four jars a week. Ditto for La Prairie, another fast-selling global brand that has takers here. An ounce can cost $335 (Rs 13,600).
But as Indians fall for exotic ingredients, skilful marketing and snazzily packaged creams, dermatologists in New York are now advocating skin care minimalism. The back-to-basics movement in the West has been fuelled by dermatologists who have reached the conclusion that there is no scientific evidence to suggest that expensive cosmetics work. Medicated treatments for acne, pigmentation and sunburn go through rigorous tests to prove their efficacy. Cosmetics don’t. Though most cosmetic companies spend on research, they’re not required to make their findings public. Moreover, a new product poses the risk of allergic reactions like itching and white spots.
We asked Lakme, a leading cosmetic brand in India to share what research, if any, goes into product development. The spokesperson for the company declined to comment. VLCC, a health care brand and a new entrant in the personal products market launched a range of cleansers, toners and moisturisers four years ago and did a turnover of Rs 40 crore in the last financial year. “We haven’t conducted tests nor do we have data to show that our products work,” says Shweta Paul, manager, VLCC Personal Products. “The feedback from users is very positive, so they must be benefiting,” adds Paul.
US doctors are now urging patients to use soap to keep skin clean and sunscreen to protect against the sun. That’s it. However, dermatologists here say that typical Indian skin doesn’t even require sunscreen. “Unlike Europeans, our skin has a large quantity of melanin, which is a natural shield against skin cancer,” says Dr J.S. Pasricha, who was the head of dermatology at AIIMS and an expert on autoimmune skin diseases. Dr Pasricha cites the example of Indians living in Australia where the rate of skin cancer is the highest in the world, but negligibly low in the Indian community.
“Similarly, people living in the hills in India are exposed to the sun a lot, but they don’t get sunburn,” explains Dr Pasricha. He’s also dead against facials, microderm abrasion treatments and chemical peels prescribed at local beauty parlours. “When you peel a layer off artificially, you’re tampering with the natural rhythm of your skin,” he says, adding that scrubs for exfoliation and home remedies like milk and fruit masks are “completely nonsensical and have no medical benefit whatsoever”.
There may be a feel-good factor to having someone massage your face, but is it going to reduce wrinkles? The answer from the medical community is a resounding no. As for brands that position themselves as organic, chemical-free and made of plant extracts, dermatologists denounce them as downright dangerous. “Even tobacco is a plant,” says Dr Pasricha, “does that make it safe?” he asks.
The bigger question on the efficacy of anti-wrinkle creams is complicated. Consumers should look for the ingredients retinol and alpha hydroxy acids that have been known to stimulate skin cells and reduce dark spots and lines. However, buying any anti-wrinkle cream and randomly applying it isn’t going to dramatically reverse the ageing process.
“It’s not like the same solution will work for all skin types,” says Dr Kandhari. “It depends on formulation and the oil and water content of the cream.” For those of us really looking for the elixir of youth, maybe we’re better off investing in a shot of botox.