Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Beauty on sale !

You know , I'm one of those people who is fed up of cosmetics and creams that don't work.I'm quite done with advertising claims so much so  I no longer hear them.I have been on a different quest from last 10 years - products that consistently work as per their formulations and intended use.

Being a post graduate in microbiology ,I was always wise to 'antiseptic'  and such claims.And then having worked in pharma and having studied chemistry made me curious and suspicious.
While I was growing up, India did not have so many products in skincare and nobody had even heard about sunscreens and face washes.All i had was Lakme and Ponds and then later when i was a teenager Garnier came with its facewashes and moisturizer and cold cream. However, Garnier was priced higher than Lakme and Ponds so very few girls of my age actually used it. We had a family soap- Lux which served as face wash ,handwash and bodywash.All of us used  Wipro or Godrej Shikakai soap for hair.All was fine with the world !

Then chaos started.I don't know if anyone remembers- Nyle was first indian mass market shampoo along with Clinic Plus. Both of them were 'detergent-based' Can you imagine ? For a longest time, all high end shampoos had only SLS as main surfactant.

I have been stickler for reading everything on the bottle or packets before buying it so reading ingredient lists  is only happy chore for me.The only problem was all the Indian skin creams and shampoos never ever had any ingredient lists. So like everyone else I learned stuff on the go and being curious Internet only whetted my appetite for knowledge and chemistry behind everything.Plus i had a lot of good sense which prevented me abusing my skin or hair with wrong and harmful products.

This is what i have learned from education,observations,logic,good sense and from mistakes over the years.

Traditional soaps are made from lye[sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide] mixed with fats[animal tallow,lard,vegetable oils ]. When people say soap that is what they mean. So when companies say 'soap-free'- they mean they have added chemically fractionated surfactant like SLS,SLES ALS,ALES etc. along with other chemicals.Nowadays, i have seen SLES been added in premium soaps- especially those companies which claim to be natural and herbal.

Now many dermatologists and cosmetologists don't advocate the regular bar of soap especially for sensitive skins.The only reason is commercially mass marketed soaps contain fillers,dyes,strong fragrance and ph is towards alkalinity.Sensitive skins and diseased skin don't take too kindly to such harsh soaps whereas a well formulated bodywash is moisturizing,mild both in fragrance and dyes and ph is more towards the acidic state. There are plenty of mild body washes in the market but i prefer Dove,Olay and Palmolive, J&J because they are cheaper,with practically zero colour[Dove and olay] and not too strong fragrance and do the job well.
Now skin is the same everywhere so there is no reason why a bodywash can't double up as facewash. I use the bodywash on face too and only carry a facewash at work or when i go out.I don't have acne on face and my skin is normal to oily.
I avoid strongly coloured facewashes or bodywashes with essential oils and prefer unscented or mild fragrance.I think there are plenty of well formulated cheap and awesome facewashes in the market today. I like Garnier[full ingredient list],Ponds ,Everyuth and Neutrogena[for oily skin] -most of them contain SLES besides other ingredients.
However, i am so used to soaps so i use all the affordable ,mildly scented and less colored ones like Dove, Khadi soaps
Common sense says that any kind of peptide,vitamin,and any such additive in face and bodywash is only for timepass and to fool people into paying more.Pay more if you want to but not under the foolish notion that its going to do you any good because the body wash is going to be washed away so where does the ingredient have any time to work its magic[ ie. if we assume that the vitamin or such additive is in sufficient quantity in the product]
For make up cleansers i love Cetaphil, Garnier and Nivea cleansing milk. Affordable and great. I find that sesame and coconut oil work great too.

Skin creams:-

Why do you think you need a skin cream? Only for two reasons :- either to moisturizer or to act as medicine for the skin. To moisturize a well formulated product needs humectants,lubricants - it doesn't need essential oils with strong fragrance,colour or irritants. A general rule of the thumb is the more irritant /chemicals you pile on skin the more irritated your skin will become. The clove oil or mint oil that you love so much has potent chemicals in it. Everything in Nature too is chemicals/molecules- the one processed in the labs are just fractionated into individual ones. People have a pet peeve against mineral oil. Its just a lubricant without color and fragrance and that's why its used so much .Its cheap effective lubricant.Mineral oil has different properties than natural oils like olive,sunflower,sesame and only because different oils have different fatty acid compositions.But oils have only one quality they moisturizer the skin by making a layer on the skin and that's it.The oily layer doesn't allow water to escape and hence the skin looks alive and hydrated.

Humectants like glycerin,honey etc attract water and keep skin moisturized.There are plenty of cheap effective moisturizers like Vaseline with spf ,Nivea,Emolene . My favorite is glycerin mixed with rose water.I just increase or decrease the glycerin amount depending on the seasons.I use the body lotion on face ,body and feet too and only when i require. I don't have the time to sit and moisturize everyday.

If you want a cream to do you any good chose one with Vitamin C, B ,A and cell communicating peptides .I have not seen a single potent antioxidant cream on Indian shelves as of today which is affordable and in sufficient quantity.Most of the costly night and day creams are just fluffy moisturizers.So if any one knows a potent cream do recommend.

Scrubs and masks:

Your skin is gentle and when you wash yourself your soap or body wash exfoliates the dead skin cells very well. So why beat a dead horse ? Most of the scrubs are harsh walnut powders or god knows what - i think they are fit only for the feet. The last time i bought them i washed my feet with them.For once in a while i use the really affordable one- Everyuth -ultra mild and i love the nivea scrub . But i use only once in 15 days and that too if i remember to use one. I don't buy any masks at all and never have...if i feel like 'masking' i just mix yoghurt and honey with turmeric and apply on the face.


I have been to dermatologists 2-3 times and not one of them ever recommended sunscreen to me. I have brown skin.However, My sister has sun allergy so she develops sunspots if exposed to hot sun.Her dermatologist recommended calamine lotion and some white paste to be applied only on sunspots  when she goes out. Of course she wouldn't ..only white cricketers do that ! So she wears a sunscreen.
Brown and dark skinned people are blessed lot .The melanin in our skin provides a natural SPF cover to us so that we can resist burning more than pale skins.Currently,the following filters are FDA approved suncreens/blocks.This might not be the comprehensive list however to you and me it gives a fairly good idea.
This is what i think:-
1. You need to apply sunscreen every 2 hours if you have been out in the sun continuously.Only then it helps.Lets face it who does that?
2. You need to apply a UVA and B filter. What i do is apply Spf 15 sunscreen with both UA and UV B filters - i have found an oil free one. Since you need to apply frequently you need an affordable sunscreen - a Rs 1000 + won't do. I use Lacto calamine everyday since it contains zinc oxide,if i go outdoors i use fabindia's spf 15 oil free sunscreen. Other one i use is from chemists -Suncote gel on exposed parts.I also love Garnier's spf 15. I usually skip moisturizers since sunscreen are pretty greasy on their own.
3. Read the ingredient list for above FDA ingredients and only then buy and remember the chemical should be within first 5 ingredients on the list to be effective
3. Most importantly i carry umbrella in summers and wear full sleeved cotton coat or avoid going out in sun if not required.

Sometimes when i am too lazy i don't use suncreen at all.C'est la vie!


I don't bother whether its paraben free or not since i'm not allergic as yet of preservatives.I use the product before its best before date .I buy only those products closer to manufacture date that way i have plenty time to use it up.My take is - if its paraben free then they have used some other preservatives that we don't know as yet.

Cruelty free:

i don't buy this crap and don't bother with it. I 'll never buy any overpriced product just because its cruelty free. Any new molecule has to be tested in animals for toxicity, tolerability and allergy. If not animals, do you want the product to be directly tested on you?
The companies claim cruelty-free saintly and piously only because all the ingredients they use in their formulations and cosmetics are tried,tested and validated in the past.
All the people who claim how icky 'chemicals' are and swear by natural and herbal crap will be better off not using any make up,most of the expensive and nonexpensive bottled creams and shampoos because 'chemicals' are everywhere.

P.S: Brand reccos are based on my usage-none of the brands are paying me to say so.


  1. Wow such an amazing post zee... keep up the good work..I had to comment
    I had awesome thick beautiful hair when i used to use soap and the occasional once in a month shampoo sachet when i was in school..My mom has never used shampoo in her hair and she has great hair at 55.. she is allergic to oil too...
    Think about the profit these companies are making by filling up a bottle with SLS and adding some color and fragrance to it.. A bottle must cost about 15 rupees max to make and they get 170 rupees for it.
    Our mothers and grandmothers went out in the sun, nobody died of skin cancer. In a country like india blessed with melanin what is the need for this much sunscreen?? And yes aleo vera and chamomile does not protect you from the sun.Only titanium dioxide and zinc oxide will do it.And when i read of bloggers using sunscreen INDOORS i am thinking HOW much chemicals can the skin take...Indian girls... please dont be afraid of the sun so much except at scorching high noon..Sunlight in the morning and evening is beneficial to skin and body...
    These companies buy their raw materials from who knows where and they have the audacity to slap cruelty free signs of their products???Its complete hogwash..I also used to fall for Herbals bullshit... Now i am so much wiser..
    I experimented with so many facewashes.. Sad that soap free means filled with SLS..Then i found a wonderful soap called Simple. Its dirt cheap in UK and it contains less than 10 ingredients and works like magic.. why because its pure soap i guess.. no filler or perfume or "magic mushroom" skin looks rested and better...
    I use a night cream in daytime sometimes cus i love it...
    I am so much aware now of ingredients and all...Found shikakai soap works well for my hair.. ha ha...
    Honey does the work of a cleanser and mask..
    Rose water is the most perfect toner in the world..
    I love my oil-free moisturizer cheap Clean and Clear..It works perfectly..
    Little wisdom.. huge savings..
    sorry for the long post

  2. I am so gonna save after reading your posts. I wish I could !! you are so bitterly true about everything. Lux was my family soap too. We were happy choosing the colors of Lux which varied form white to oh-so-perfect purple which I admired and we hardly bought it because it was a bit costly. ha ha. My god, I a gonna have sleepless night today thinking of everything old and my mum. I am sorry for your mother. May god bless her the peace and eternity of content. You get a big hug from me!! sorry for being too personal but I am also a daughter.

    1. Thanks Anon and Jiya. The aim of my posts like this one is to create awareness in the marketing and advertising jungle we live in !We are still humans and sometimes basic stuff suffices !

    2. Jiya, thanks for the hug.i really need and want lots of hugs !The thing about us humans is ...we appreciate something more and love more only when its gone !

  3. You are so true about things we miss in our lives. We tend to realize their importance. the throat chokes on mere thinking of missing anything!!

  4. amazing post Zee bee...loving it


Your feedback is invaluable !:-)

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