Blood droplets and laser beams: skincare treatments for your 20s, straight out of a sci-fi movie
It’s not just about the Kylie Jenner pout
Sarina Jain*, 27, went under the plastic surgeon’s knife in 2018 to undo a long scar above her eyebrow. At age 11, an encounter with the neighbour’s dog left her with a deep mark that “looked like the Andaman Islands”. She was bullied for it in school, but only felt its impact when she started working.
No amount of makeup covered it up effectively. Sessions of micro-needling with a dermatologist refined its appearance but it was still a bother. Then she started working with a leading cosmetics e-retailer. “It’s an office full of women, and you’d think that we’d be supportive of these ‘flaws’ but it’s all about how you look. Especially when you’re sitting down with big brands like Estée Lauder and Bobbi Brown,” she recalls.
The feeling of inadequacy was reinforced through titters of office gossip. “They wanted someone who looked the part to be sitting in these meetings, someone who would be the ‘face’ of the operation.” While she doesn’t attribute sole credit for her eventual promotion to the surgery, she admits that “the procedure helped with my confidence and how I held myself in public.”
The market for more serious face and skincare treatments is growing among the urban youth, with India ranked 4th on a list of global hotspots for plastic surgery and non-invasive procedures. Plastic surgeon Dr Ritesh Wankhede has noticed that his clients used to be “women in their 40s and 50s, but now we see a lot of young women chasing pictures they’re seeing on social media”.
Dr Medha Gatkare’s patients complain to her of hyperpigmentation caused by acne and sun damage. Many want to erase indented acne scars and reduce the appearance of dark circles, which trained professionals like Gatkare are able to do using state-of-the-art skincare treatments with relatively low downtime that won’t cost a month’s rent.
Non-invasive procedures like skin peels and laser treatments don’t carry the same ethical baggage as traditional plastic surgery, allowing the morally rigid to categorise them as ‘investing in yourself’. Without completely rearranging your features into the equally desired and reviled ‘Instagram face’, these skincare treatments aim to make you look like the best version of yourself, with room for minor — and reversible — corrections.
If you’re in your 20s, this is likely the first time you’re looking at making a serious investment at the dermatologist’s clinic.
“Meet different doctors to find the one you feel most comfortable with,” advises Gatkare. “Someone who understands your skin and what you want, not just someone trying to sell you more procedures so they can make money. Do your own readings and then go back for the procedure later.”
Common skincare treatments and procedures for your 20s
Micro-needling with PRP
The world was introduced to the ‘vampire facial’ via Kim Kardashian West on Instagram. The procedure she was undergoing was a kind of Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) treatment.
In-clinic micro-needling involves a device containing multiple thin needles (0.25 mm to 1.0 mm) rolled over the affected area of your face, delicately jabbing the skin. The needles cause a kind of intentional injury to kickstart the skin’s collagen production for new skin.
For PRP, the dermatologist draws the client’s own blood, then puts it in a centrifuge to separate the platelets. These are spread over the face before the micro-needling begins, and is believed to help recovery from deep, indented acne scars, uneven skin tone and fine lines.
Cost: Approximately ₹2,000 to ₹7,000 per session
Light-Emitting Diode (LED) therapy
Light-Emitting Diode (LED) therapy uses light-based technology and devices to stimulate collagen production, combat acne and lighten the appearance of blemishes. This is a type of ‘photofacial’ which works on the upper layers of the skin on more minor conditions. Different colours and wavelengths are believed to be beneficial for different ailments. Blue light therapy could help combat severe acne, while red is said to be beneficial for combatting signs of early skin ageing.
You may have seen these Optimus Prime-looking masks with different lights underneath being promoted on social media — they use the same technology on a much smaller scale. Most professionals would agree that they have little use at this scale. The devices in-clinic are larger panels with small light bulbs, which are positioned in front of your face and can extend to cover the sides as well.
Cost: Approximately ₹2,000 to ₹4,000 per session
Light chemical peel
A light or superficial peel uses milder levels of acids like alpha hydroxy (AHA) and beta hydroxy acids (BHA) such as lactic, mandelic and salicylic acid to work on exfoliating the upper layers of the skin. Some professionals may add to the blend other ingredients like antioxidants to tackle specific issues.
Among the skincare treatments, a light chemical peel is often advised for those dealing with large areas of stubborn hyperpigmentation or melasma. “Chemical peels with azelaic acid help correct brown spots and pigmentation. Chemical peels are to be combined with your at-home skincare routine which includes a cleanse-tone-moisture routine – sunscreen, day cream and night cream,” says Dr Geetika Mittal Gupta of ISAAC Luxe.
Cost: Approximately ₹1,500 to ₹3,000
This is a non-invasive laser treatment that creates high-intensity pulsed beam light to reach the deeper layers of skin which can be hard to get to non-invasively.
It works effectively in treating stubborn patches of pigmentation and discolouration. The laser energy is absorbed by the pigments (usually brown, or grey in colour) which breaks off into smaller fragments and is naturally cleared away by the body and skin.
You won’t need a lot of downtime after the procedure, though it is advised you avoid sun exposure for about a week and wear a good broad-spectrum sunscreen. Your skin may appear slightly grey and crusted on the area targeted but that’s expected.
Cost: Approximately ₹3,000 to ₹6,000 per session based on the size of area to cover
Hyaluronic acid fillers
Fillers are the best-sellers from Wankhede’s clinic menu among young women in their 20s. Fillers can be done by trained dermatologists as well, and primarily focus on the lips, according to Gatkare.
Injectables aren’t as frowned upon as they used to be at one time. They’re now done with a lot more finesse than before, so you probably can’t even tell who has them and who doesn’t. Injectable hyaluronic acid is a temporary dermal filler used to plump up the skin from underneath.
They can last anywhere from six months to a year and aren’t only used to get the Kylie Jenner pout. Fillers are commonly used in the under-eye area to combat dark circles, eye bags and even out the skin for those who naturally have deeper set eyes.
A jab or two of these fillers can also help plump up indented acne scars. If carefully planned, they can alter the face structure slightly by hitting the right points of our face to give the illusion of high cheekbones and a more pointed jawline or chin.
Cost: Approximately ₹15,000 to ₹25,000 per ml
*Name changed upon contributor’s request for anonymity.