Looking After Your Skin & Hair! Candid Advise & Product Recommendations By Dr. Vivian Oputa

For most women, their hair, skincare and make up routines are the utmost importance and appreciate the need to grown but are often bewildered by the choice of products available and couple with contrasting and sometimes confusing advice, it’s enough to discourage anyone from even trying.

In an exclusive interview ThisDay’s Nafisah Mohammed, spoke to Dr. Vivian Oputa– a Medical Practitioner and Specialist in Aesthetic Medicine, Surgery and Dermatology.


Dr. Vivian Oputa

Dr. Vivian Oputa is the Medical Director of Derma Care Medical Limited in Lagos. She is also an expert in wellness and anti-ageing medicine. She gives some candid advise on the best way to look after yourself as well as suggests some products.

Read the full interview:

Your favorite products/recommended products.
My favorite products are from Biologique- recherché, Paris. I use the whole range personally and they are the most results-oriented products I have ever used. Products are for the face and body and they are free of chemicals so can be used long-term withoutthe risk of skin damage.

What is your skin care philosophy?
Skin reflects well-being and most importantly good skin care starts from within. Nutrition and water consumption are important factors. My personal philosophy is consistency within the 3 steps routine of Cleansing, Use of toner or clarifying lotion and appropriate moisture twice a day. Sun block is a must for daytime and more steps can be instituted depending on the need.

Tell us about face cleansers
A cleanser helps remove oil and debris from the surface of the skin, and may come as soap (liquid or bar), cleansing milk or cleansing cream. I’ve been a soap user for several years but have recently switched to cleansing milk to prevent stripping my skin of its natural oils. I love oxygenating cleansing milk by Biologique Recherché because in addition to the gentle but efficient cleansing effect, it’s good for skin exposed to pollution and harsh climates.

Can you recommend a toner?
A toner, also known as an astringent, clarifying lotion or freshener is used to re-acidify the skin preparing it for your moisturizer. They also complete the cleansing process. It’s best to use one that is alcohol free to prevent excessive drying as the skin will compensate by producing excess oil. Exfoliating toners are my favorite as they help slough away dead skin cells. A good one is Clinique Clarifying lotion.

Your favorite all round moisturizers
Moisturizers come as creams, lotions or gels depending on skin type. Dry skin needs creams, while gel based moisturizers are best for oily skins. They all hydrate and nourish the skin but more sophisticated ones provide anti-ageing and firming benefits. I love LancômeGenifique.

So many of us are plagued by acne, how can we make it go away?
Oil glands located just beneath the skin, constantly produce and secrete oil through the skin pores to lubricate and protect the skin. When the pores are blocked by dead cells and debris, the oil produced build up and naturally occurring bacteria feast on the oil and multiply leading to the inflammation of the surrounding tissue. When the oil breaks through the surface, you get a whitehead and if this oil oxidizes turning from white to black, you get a blackhead. Acne is not just a teenage problem as cases of adult acne are on the increase. Adult acne is typically stubborn but fortunately, therapies for preventing and treating acne are more effective than ever before.

Faulty skin cell and turnover and stress play a role in the development of acne. Stress boosts hormones that stimulate oil production so acne tends to worsen in periods of stress. There are mild, moderate and severe degrees of acne. Regardless of the degree of acne that may be present, the oil-bacteria-inflammation cycle has to be broken to get clear skin. I would say the major contributing factors to acne breakouts are hormonal imbalance, stress diet and genetics.

Mistakes and Remedies
I find patients make the mistakes of washing their skin too often, picking their faces and are in too much of a hurry to see results so get discouraged and abandon treatment. There is a very important acne-diet relationship as it is found that high glycaemic index foods such as white bread and rice may lead to break outs. Detoxifying diet may be the only thing you will need to do to clear up your skin. Acne treatments depend on the severity of the problem, but prescription antibiotics and tretinoin are very effective.

And on the opposite end of the scale, what are some good treatments for dry skin sufferers?
There are two categories of dry skin. Firstly, “oil dry’’ lacks natural oils. This occurs when the sebaceous glands are sluggish and produce little or no sebum. “Dehydrated” skin may produce sufficient oil but is dry and flaky due to lack of cellular water. Dryness may be caused by excessive sun exposure, harsh soaps, wind, poor diet, poor fluid intake, medication and certain cosmetics. The best products for dry skin should contain alpha hydroxyl acids, hyaluronic acid, ceramides and glycerin. Drink lots of water and take omega 3, 6 and 9 essential fatty acid supplements.

How about for ladies of a certain age, who aren’t so young anymore? What can we do to keep our skin supple?
  It’s great to know that ageing skin is not inevitable. Modern science has merged with beauty and there is so much available to improve the appearance of skin and give it a healthier fresher look. Your skin is capable of glowing for life!

Age 30
By age thirty, the epidermis- the outermost skin layer- typically becomes drier because there is a reduction in sebum (oil) production. The epidermis contains melanocyte cells which produce melanin which is responsible for our brown skin color. Repeated sun exposure over the years leads to an over production of melanin, causing blotchy discoloration. Also with age, skin cells are not shed as efficiently leading to accumulation and thickening which results in a dull and lifeless complexion. Exfoliation helps to rid the skins surface of this build up of dead cells.

Over 40’s
After the age of forty, 1% of the skin’s collagen is lost every year. The collagen fibers breakdownleading to sagging. Exposure to sunlight also affects the skin by damaging cellular DNA. This damage may lead to an increase formation of blood vessels (showing up as spider veins), thinning of the skin and age-related pigmentation.

Help is at hand
Making the decision to rejuvenate the skin does not mean you should go overboard and try every available cosmetic product on the market. It is advisable to incorporate at least two ingredients appropriate for your skin type. There are seven primary active ingredients that have given excellent results in skin rejuvenation. There are also various anti oxidants that play a supportive role in the rejuvenation process.
The top seven ingredients that you should check cosmetic labels for are vitamin C (L-ascorbic acid), Retinoids, Glycolicacid, Idebenone, N-6 furfuryladenine, amino acid peptides and GHK copper peptides. Multivitamin and mineral supplements essential for healthy skin should also be added to a rejuvenation regimen. A proper skin rejuvenation regimen should incorporate a potent antioxidant to help reduce the rate of dermal degeneration and repair or prevent free-radical damage. Examples of some antioxidants include beta-carotene, blueberry extract, blackberry extract and green tea extract. My favorite cream is Crème MSR-H.

Best pimple zapper
Serum Complex Iribiol.

As Africans, do we really need sunscreen?
The short answer is yes. Most definitely. Over exposure to sunrays can cause cancer, and sunscreen protects against that. People with black skin are naturally protected by the high levels of melanin in their skin and are essentially blessed with an in-built sunscreen. This doesn’t rule out the need for sunscreen products as this protection is not absolute. Sun protection products are available as lotions, creams or sprays that contain ingredients that absorb (sunscreens) or deflect (sun block) UV rays. I recommend ObagiSunshield, Forever living products aloe sunscreen and Neutrogena Ultra sheer dry touch sun block. The sun’s UV rays are harshest at about 12 noon so it’s advisable to avoid direct exposure between 11.00am and 2.00pm.

We have heard a lot about Botox recently, what is it?
Botox is a brand name for botulism toxin. It is an increasing popular non surgical treatment for facial wrinkles and is the hottest rejuvenation trend of the new millennium! Small doses of the toxin are injected into specific muscles to temporarily relax the facial muscles around wrinkles, making them less noticeable. The relaxed muscles lead to a flattening of the skin and hence a smoother less wrinkled appearance. You need to be very careful and make sure your skincare professional has a lot of experience because Botox has some disturbing complications like headaches, respiratory infections, nausea and flu syndrome.

How useful are facials really?
Facial treatments are very beneficial and should be performed by professionals. After a consultation, the skin is analyzed and the appropriate treatment given. Your skin is thoroughly cleansed and exfoliated and debris extracted where necessary. Massages help stimulate circulation and aid lymphatic drainage. Treatment products such as masques, serums and moisturizers are applied to finish. On the average, facials should be done once a month;more often if skin is problematic. Some good lines are Joyon, Decleor, SK-II, Peter Tomas Roth Crystal clear and Casmara.

Product you can buy cheap and products you shouldn’t scrimp on
The price of the product is not really important. Some cheap products provide fantastic results and some very pricey ones provide no results.

Your main advice regarding skin care
Stay away from junk food, eat and hydrate right. Take nutritional supplements and use products that agree with your skin.

Many of the products you have recommended are pretty pricey, what brands do you like that are more affordable?
Neutrogena, E45, Cetaphil, Body shop, Palmers, Simple, Boots No7, are all excellent brands with very good products. Good old Vaseline too.

Credit: Nafisah Mohammed for ThisDay Newspaper

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