How Much Skincare Is Too Much Skincare?

Indian beauty brands are on an aggressive bamboozle convincing us to buy stuff we don’t really need. Terms such as retinol, hyaluronic acid, glycolic acid, niacinamide, ceramides, and salicylic acid remind me of the Periodic Table I refused to memorise.

Namrata Zakaria
New Update
skincare trends

Image from Instagram - @deepikapadukone

Last week I shot a social media campaign for some of my designer friends. It isn’t the first time I’ve done this, and I must admit, putting on a little makeup and getting one’s hair done can really be such an exercise in emotional upliftment.

It’s especially exciting for lazy hacks like me to pick up tips in the beauty game. There are so many beauty brands now, beyond the Estee Lauder, Bobbi Brown, Mac and Dior that we grew up on. Sephora is a Disneyland for a young millennial, meanwhile, it makes me feel like I've walked into Barbie’s laboratory. I recognise few products and fewer brands. India seems to be the new playground for beauty and skin care, it’s driving so many young Indian brands to great success, even unicorn status. 

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Sometimes I browse through Nykaa’s website, and I am overwhelmed by all the stuff available here. I shudder to learn that it has 142 physical stores all over India. And that Tata Group and Reliance have both taken a leaf out of Falguni Nayyar’s lipstick shop-turned-IPO blockbuster and forayed into beauty aggregation too. Sugar Cosmetics, which I have never tried, is a cruelty-free Indian makeup brand that has 150 stores across India since it launched just a few years ago.

There are scores of direct-to-consumer Indian beauty brands like Sugar available across beauty, skincare, makeup, men’s grooming and haircare. The beauty market in India has taken gargantuan leaps, market researcher IMARC group states it is growing to US $26.3 million in 2022 from US $15 billion in 2021. 

Terms such as retinol, hyaluronic acid, glycolic acid, niacinamide, propylene glycol, ceramides, and salicylic acid remind me of the Periodic Table I refused to memorise.

These trends and tricks are something my generation has missed out on.


Or did it?

The ever-rising skincare trends

At the shoot, I watched my brilliant makeup artist rub a little Emolene on my face before she began to layer it with foundation. Emolene is an age-old moisturiser available for as little as Rs 270 for a pretty big 100gm tube. It’s easily available at local chemists, but little did I know that top makeup artists swear by it. (Hit your chemist up for a basic lanolin for chapped lips, and vitamin C serums too).

I came into my 40s with half-decent skin, just the beginnings of crow’s feet and a forehead frown. I was a swimmer who first heard of sunblock only by the time I was a teenager and mercifully escaped skin damage. I have only used the humble Pond’s Cold Cream twice a day for my entire life. Though I highly recommend a daily sunscreen as the sun’s harsh rays are scientifically frightening.

This makes me wonder how much skincare do we really need? And how much of our raging sales and homegrown unicorns are a result of disruptive marketing?

Like most companies that sell products to women, beauty brands thrive by cashing in on our insecurities. 


We have moved from fairness creams to anti-ageing products now. It seems half of India is suddenly obsessed with reversing time, what with all the oils, serums, lotions, potions and acids available to plump our skins with youthful collagen.

Does anything reverse ageing? No. Skincare serums and massages may make the skin feel taut for a few hours, but I’ve never met someone in her 40s who looked like she was in her 20s without great genes. Derma fillers make you look worse, yes, all of you. Plasma-replacement treatments are slightly better and add a temporary rouge to your face. 

But the rest of it is just clever capitalism at play. To think, if skincare was so essential, why would they make it so expensive. I’m sorry Deepika Padukone, you are my favourite actress but you will still not make me pay nearly Rs 3000 for 30 ml of Bakuchiol face oil.

Moreover, why is skincare and beauty mostly targeted at women? Don’t men want to reduce wrinkles or glisten their hair? Most of the makeup influencers I follow on Instagram are male, bearded and wear rainbow eyeshadow every day. They really are the best makeup educators.

Finally, most skincare brands will sell you one product that works best with another product from their company. So you end up buying two crazy expensive items, thinking they are going to change your dating life. By the time you realise they didn’t help, there will be a third product launch that will lure you instead.

Each new skincare must-have turns into a beauty myth a few years later. Exfoliators wear the skin down, but face oils can be drying too. You thought botanical or ayurveda had all the secrets until the Periodic Table was unleashed upon you.


Better to save ourselves the stress, go back to safe cleaning and moisturising routines, and groom our changing faces accordingly. Be beautiful, be smart, and be yourself.

 Views expressed by the author are their own

Suggested Reading: Every Woman Has A Skin Story To Tell; I tried To Address It Through My Start-Up

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