SIMPLE SKIN CARE
Skin is the largest organ of the body. It is made up of the
outer epidermis & inner dermis. The epidermis has a number of
layers of cells called keratinocytes & pigment cells called
melanocytes. The dermis contains blood vessels, sebaceous or
oil glands, sweat glands, nerves; all of which are bound
together by elastin & collagen fibres. The skin protects the
underlying structures from outer environmental pollutants by
forming a barrier layer. It helps us perceive stimuli such as
touch, heat, cold, pain. It regulates temperature & also helps
in the metabolism of vitamin D. Factors like pollution, sun
rays, stress, irregular food habits, inadequate sleep etc
contribute to skin damage & premature aging of skin. Thus, it
is necessary to take basic minimal care of one's skin.
Basic skin care does not involve use of expensive cosmetics &
toiletries. One has to follow a very simple regime for skin
A well-balanced, regular diet along with adequate amount of
water is all that you need. One must avoid the so-called junk
food, too much of starvation in the form of dieting & eating
at odd irregular hours.
About 30 minutes of aerobics, walking, jogging or cycling at
least five times a week is essential for a healthy skin.
UVA & UVB rays could be harsh on the skin & cause photo damage
in the form of increased pigmentation, freckles, premature
aging & even skin cancers. Those with normal to dry skin can
use a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 at least 20 minutes before
sun exposure. People with oily skin should use an umbrella or
a wide brimmed hat for sun protection.
Local skin care:
The surface of the skin contains oil, dead cells, sweat,
grime, dirt, grease & pollutants. If this is not removed, the
skin looks dull & flaky. Cleansing is an important part of
skin care & can be done with simple soaps or cleansers. The
skin should be washed at least twice a day with soap & warm
water. Deodorant soaps with antiseptic agents are good for
oily skin. Super fatted soaps or glycerine-based soaps are
good for dry & normal skin. For the skin to look healthy &
glowing, its uppermost layer called stratum corneum should
contain more than 10% of the total water content of the body.
Thus, comes the role of a moisturizer. People with dry to
normal skin should use a moisturizer twice a day after
cleansing. Those with oily skin should be careful & use an oil
free moisturizer only once a day.
Lastly, be gentle on your skin. Do not use harsh cosmetics. If
you have a skin problem, seek professional advice.
A cleanser is one which removes dirt, sweat, sebum,
micro-organisms (bacteria etc.), dead cells (stratum corneum)
and make-up if used from the skin surface.
Cleansing comprises of three stages:
Emulsification and removal of grease
Deeply ingrained dirt, particularly in the pores of the hair
follicles and sweat glands can be removed by warming the skin
with hot water or a mild steam bath.
Normal pH of the skin is 4.5 to 5.5, this acidic pH changes to
alkaline due to application of cleanser and gives a feeling of
freshness in the skin.
Types of cleansers:
Soaps and cleansing bars: They are derived from fatty
acids and tri-glycerides (fats and oils).
Deodorant or anti-microbicidal bars: These have an added
anti-bacterial agent to eradicate bacteria. These soaps have a
pH between 9 - 10 and may cause skin irritation. It is good
for oily skin.
Moisturising base: These have moisturising agents like
lanolin or glycerine. Their pH is between 5 - 7, thus they are
non-irritant. They are good for dry skin.
Functions: Soaps help cleansing, perfume the bath, softens the
water, forms lather and gives the skin a cool and fresh
Lipid free cleansers / Face wash: These contain water,
glycerine, acetyl alcohol and does not contain any fats. They
clean without soap formation and leave a thin moisturising
film. It is good for sensitive and photo aged skin.
Cleansing creams: They are oil based products which remove
grease and cosmetics on the skin by dissolving it in more oil.
It is good for dry skin. Cleansing Lotion:
It is a water based product and is good for normal and dry
skin. Since they are water based they can be easily rinsed
with water. They are commonly sold as pore cleansers.
Exfoliants: Help in removing dead cells (stratum
corneum cells) from the skin.
Abrasive scrubs: They aid in removing dead cells and control
excess sebum secretion. They are mechanical exfoliants made of
granules in form of Aluminium oxide, ground fruit pits etc.
Cleansing masks / packs:
Setting masks - containing Fuller's earth ('Multani Mitti').
Peel-off masks - containing gel and latex.
Non-setting masks - containing cold cream or oil packs
Setting and peel-off masks achieve cleansing, exfoliation and
skin-tightening. It also refreshes the skin. Non-setting masks
only cleans the skin.
For the skin to remain normal and fresh, the upper most
layer, namely the stratum corneum should contain more than 10%
of the total water content. In places with tropical climate
like India, heat, sun-rays and pollution tend to dry the skin.
Thus, use of a moisturiser becomes essential.
Basic components of moisturisers are:
Occlusive oils: They retard water loss from the skin.
Humectants: They increase the water content of the skin by
absorbing water from the environment and lower layers of skin.
Hydrophilic matrices: They prevent water loss and have
a soothing action.
Others: Water, sun-screens, emulsifying agents, preservatives,
fragrances and coloring agents.
Special additives: Ceramides, Vitamins, EFA's, Aloe vera,
Urea, Lactic acid, Alfa-hydroxy acids, collagen, Elastin and
Hyaluronic acid. A moisturiser should be used after bath on a
moist skin surface. One may even use a sun-screen during the
day and a moisturiser at bed time. People with normal or dry
skin can use both creams and lotions which have water in oil
Those with oily skin should avoid using creams. Lotions with
oil in water formulations are best suited for oily skin.
SHAMPOOS AND CONDITIONERS
Hair is aesthetically a very important part of the human
body. All of us desire to have smooth, soft and lustrous hair.
This is done with use of shampoos and conditioners.
It is important to understand one's hair type to make the
right choice of shampoos and conditioners.
Dry: This type may be a result of Lack of sebum. Environmental
factors like sunlight, wind, sea water, chlorinated water (as
in swimming pool). Chemical treatment like hair coloring
Mechanical injury such as straightening and perming
Oily or greasy hair: This happens because of excessive
sebum secretion from sebaceous glands in the scalp.
Shampoo is a suitable detergent for washing hair, removing
sebum, sweat, dirt and dead cells present on the hair shaft
TYPES OF SHAMPOOS
Normal hair shampoos: They achieve good cleansing with
Oily hair shampoos: They give excellent cleansing and
very minimal conditioning.
Dry hair shampoos: They cause mild cleansing and good
conditioning. They reduce static electricity and make the hair
Damaged hair shampoos: These are meant for hair which
have been chemically treated with hair color, bleaching agents
or hair straightening agents. They have mild detergents and
more conditioner in order to temporarily repair the hair
These are formulated with 'amphoteric surfactants' which cause
little or no irritation. They are mild and can also be used by
adults who wish to wash their hair everyday.
Anti-dandruff shampoos: They, in addition to the regular
ingredients also contain additives such as anti-fungals, anti-bacterials,
Selenium Sulphide, Zinc Pyrithione, Tar derivatives etc. They
remove sebum, oil, scalp scales and the anti-fungal acts on
the fungus 'Pityrosporum ovale' which is usually the cause of
Anti-Lice shampoos: They contain Gama-benzene hexa-chloride or
Permethrin which kill the lice when applied in a proper
They are a combination of shampoo and conditioner. These
products may be self-defeating since the shampoo removes
sebum, the body's natural conditioner and replaces it with an
Shampooing, drying, combing, brushing, dyeing, permanent
waving, straightening and styling damage the hair and make it
harsh, brittle and entangled. Hair conditioners reverse this
hair damage and make the hair manageable, glossy and soft.
They increase the strength and reduce the brittleness of the
shaft. Conditioners also attempt to mend the split ends
('split ends' result from extensive damage to hair shaft).
Conditioners are designed to revert the hair damage caused by
several factors as given below.
Grooming: Damage after wet combing, blow drying, wet
brushing leads to damage of the hair cuticle.
Environmental insults: Hair may become discoloured.
There may be damage to the cuticle, split ends and finally
breakage of hair may occur due to weathering.
Chlorine and salt water: This weakens the hair shaft,
causes split ends and cracks in the cuticle.
Heat styling: Blow drying and hot rollers damage the tensile
strength of the hair.
Chemical agents: Permanent hair colours, bleaching
increase the frictional force of the hair and consequently the
combing force leading to breakage. Perming and straightening
reduces the tensile strength of the hair and causes hair loss.
TYPES OF CONDITIONERS
Instant conditioners: They are applied following a
shampoo, left on the hair for 5 - 10 minutes and rinsed. They
provide minimal conditioning due to short contact time.
Deep conditioners: Usually are marketed as creams.
Their ingredients are similar to instant conditioners but are
more concentrated. They have to be left on the scalp for 20 -
30 minutes before rinsing. They provide good conditioning.
Leave in conditioners: They are applied after drying
the hair and are left on till the next shampoo. They are in
the form of blow drying lotions and hair thickeners.
Sunscreen conditioners: Excessive exposure to sun can
cause dryness, loss of color and roughening of surface
texture. PABA and Benzophenones are added to conditioners
which provide sun protection to hair.
MECHANISM OF ACTION
They seal split ends. They protect the cuticle which covers
and protects the hair shaft.
They restore the acidic pH of the hair which is disturbed by
the alkaline pH of the shampoos.
They cause 'fly-away hair to become smoother and more
manageable. In brief dry, brittle and lustreless hair become
shiny, bouncy, glossy and strong.