Cleanse, Tone, Obsess: A Forum for Skin-Care Addicts

Bad skin can change quickly from an affliction to an obsession. Hours are lost before the magnifying mirror, considering—or, more often, tampering with—the evidence. Whatever conclusion you reach about your lesions, the readiest cure will be a trip to the store, where five or ten bucks can buy some kind of hope. If one product doesn’t work, there are always plenty more, each its own unique promise of success—a scientific term like Coenzyme Q10, a satisfying graphic of an emptied-out pore. And yet consumers and cosmetics brands are often at cross purposes: we want to find a product that works; they want to sell as many products as possible. Acne and wrinkles are presented as scourges to be punished, visible marks of shame upon the face. We want ointment to sting so that we know it is working. We smile at the thought of ripping pore strips from our noses and studying the unplugged debris in the light.

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On Skincare Addiction—a Reddit forum for skin-care enthusiasts—amateur dermatology is less punitive, more pedantic. For a project maintained by three hundred thousand strangers, the site is very tidy. A sidebar is full of accessible fact sheets on topics ranging from stretch marks to paraben safety. Skin imperfections are revealed to have names—papules, pustules, milia, cysts—and to respond to certain treatments. I learned that the so-called blackheads on my nose were, in actuality, sebaceous filaments—a normal accumulation of sebum and dead skin. One recommendation was “Stridex in the red box”—a cheap solution for mall-rat acne, beloved for its exfoliating beta hydroxy acid. Real skin-care addicts read the back of the bottle. On Skincare Addiction, I learned that I might predict how a product will behave by reading its list of ingredients like a horoscope. An occlusive, like silicone, will form a film on the skin, trapping natural moisture inside. An emollient, like shea butter, spackles the cracks between cells, yielding a temporary smoothness. Responding to an industry that profits from mystique, the posts on the forum read like drugstore cheat codes.

If you are new to Skincare Addiction, you might start by following the basic ScA Routine: wash your face with a gentle cleanser, then moisturize afterward to restore hydration. Skip the harsh acne washes, the microbead soaps, the St. Ives scrub, and the Pinterest lemon cocktails. Now add any of the more advanced steps: removing your makeup with micellar water, applying a U.V.A./U.V.B. sunscreen, preaching to friends about Vitamin C serums, ordering hyaluronic acid from Japan, and, finally, posting to the forum for yourself. As the name suggests, Skincare Addiction is a progressive condition. Posts tagged “Before & After”_ _promise a quick fix but are almost always dull: a before photo has acne; an after does not. I prefer the posts of those who’ve gone too deep—the man who worries that his multi-step routine might make him look weak if discovered by a girlfriend; the woman with perfect, glowing skin who swears that she sees a faint green shadow on her lip.

Listen to Your Gut: A Four Step Formula to Cleanse Your Digestion

The New York Times’ bestselling author, Alejandro Junger, calls gut the second brain in the human body. It has a completely separate mechanism of its own with a streamlined protocol in place, which once disrupted, can wreak havoc on your health. You ignore your gut health and it will take you down. Interestingly, gastrointestinal disorders plague most of us. What starts as simple bloating, cramping or abdominal discomfort may also lead to severe conditions like obstruction, bleeding, constipation etc. So how do you ensure that your gut’s ‘flora and fauna’ stays unharmed and in best health? Do you always have to say no to those customary cocktail parties and avoid junk food? We answer this and much more.

“Many of the symptoms that these gut disorders cause are clearly elated to the gut because they are localized there. But as we have discovered there is ample evidence that many other diseases seemingly disconnected to the gut are also either rooter in gut dysfunction or highly affected by it. These include cancer, heart disease, autoimmune disorders, and depression, among others. The weakest point in our biology in general is the gut, which is why I call it the body’s Achilles’ Heel. Periodic gut repair is the best preventive medicine of all,” writes Alejandro Junger in his book Clean Gut.

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How to Cleanse the Gut


The four-step formula to cleanse and repair your gut rests on these basic principles –


Remove: All possible toxins, allergens and gut-unfriendly substances from your diet.


Replace: The diet with all essential micronutrients like magnesium, good fats, complex carbs, fibre, vitamins, protein as well as digestive enzymes like proteases, lipases, cellulases and amylases among others.


Reinoculate: It is important to ensure that your gut’s flora flourishes and that can be done with the help of pro/prebiotics. Add as much of these to your daily diet at spaced intervals.


Repair: Make relevant changes to your diet to fix and patch up the leaky gut.


“Gut health is extremely essential for good health. There is enough research that validates that lifestyle diseases are associated with poor digestion. Leaky gut is a condition many people suffer from and as a result skin conditions, IBS, asthma, slow metabolism and other health issues,” Shilpa Arora ND, a renowned Health Practitioner, Nutritionist and certified Macrobiotic Health Coach.


Few Points to Keep Handy


– Make eating a visual and a mindful process. You need not count calories if eighty percent of your meal comprises fresh vegetables and twenty percent good quality protein and essential fats.


– Have smaller, frequent meals and take time to chew your food properly.


– Food combinations matter, pair your food wisely: Always pair veggies and greens with protein but never combine animal protein (seafood, fish, poultry and meat) with vegetable protein (beans and lentils).


– Cut down on the big three – alcohol, caffeine and sugar.

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– If possible, add vitamin B complex supplement in your routine after consulting with your doctor.


– Drink plenty of natural fluids and exercise regularly.


– Drink a glass of water with lemon juice first thing in the morning. Go light on dinner. Sleep on time, keep stress at bay.


– Add green tea to your routine.


– Maintain a diet journal and notice what dietary switches or inclusions made an impact on your gut health.

“You can include coconut water, apple cider vinegar, curd, buttermilk, fermented beverages, fermented veggies, kanji and bananas in your diet to ensure that your gut is clean and healthy,” shared Shilpa.


Although some of the basic rules remain same for all, every person’s physical composition differs. There is no one formula that should ideally fit all. Diet should be tailor-made to suit an individual in the best possible way. Get in touch with a certified nutritionist to get your personal clean gut programme.