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Expert Interview with Leena Sukumar of mySkin on Healthy Skin Care Tips

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We all want smooth, wrinkle-free skin, but not at the expense of animals or the environment.

We don't all have time to closely examine every label or do background information on every corporation, let alone find the best deals on vegan beauty products.

That's where mySkin comes in.

mySkin is an innovative website that takes advantage of crowdsourcing to create a deep and extensive database of skin care products.

mySkin's Leena Sukumar took a moment to tell us about the company, some of their favorite products, and some holistic tips for healthy skin!

For people who aren't familiar with your site, what is the main premise behind mySkin?

mySkin Inc. was founded in 2007 by a world-renowned biophysicist, a leading plastic surgeon, and two Harvard Business School classmates with the goal of putting the power of skincare in consumers' hands.

With mySkin.com, consumers had an exciting new way to discover and obtain the ideal skincare products for their individual needs by harnessing the crowdsourcing power of the Internet. Now the world's largest social beauty platform for helping identify skincare products, mySkin.com is the only place where users can explore the world of skincare products online and find exactly what they need based on unbiased recommendations by their "SkinTwins" (individuals who share your characteristics and have similar skin like you!).

By creating the unique crowdsourcing platform, mySkin Inc. has made buying skincare products more efficient and cost-effective than ever before by recommending unbiased and proven products. We also have a very active Q&A section on mySkin.com. We do not take advertising and we do not endorse any brands, and we pride ourselves on providing only unbiased advice sourced from our community.

In 2011, mySkin introduced a B2B flagship product called dermograph, the world's first transdermal skin imaging system that was designed for estheticians and beauty advisors at spas or skincare retailer counters. By using a customized version of the dermograph, skincare professionals can help analyze their customers' skin and then provide personalized product and treatment recommendations for individual needs. Our dermograph partner network is worldwide and growing every day.

With our rich vault of skincare knowledge and expertise and years of finesse in skincare diagnostics, we recently launched a Personal Skin Coach called OKU for people to test the wellness of their skin in the privacy of their home. The cube shaped OKU and app (currently available only for iPhone) makes it easy to quickly find out how your skin is faring; and based on your results, the app will give you personal recommendations on improving your skin via lifestyle, diet and ultimately product recommendations. OKU is also designed to be a community experience where we derive from the rich information of your SkinTwins but also tailor the app for you. We are currently taking pre-orders for this amazing product (available only in the US for now, but soon across the world), and our first units will ship in late spring of 2015.

Who is your main clientele, and how does mySkin meet their particular needs?

Our users range from teenagers to a demographic older than 60+, mostly women and a few men. Most of our users care about their skin of course, and run the gamut from skincare mavens and experts to the novice who is just starting to explore the world of skincare. It's the perfect place to discover others like you who are interested in skincare.

Your website features an online skin assessment. First of all, what are some of the things you assess to determine what kind of skin someone has? Secondly, what are some of the most common types of skin?

In our online skin assessment, we gather some basic information about an individual including ethnicity and location (since the climate in your region impacts your skin), as well as your skin type, sensitivity and reaction to sun exposure. We also ask about eye and hair color and skin tone to connect other individual physical and skin-specific characteristics. We also ask for your preference for skincare products, some family medical history and genetic information (all simple questions) and your diet and lifestyle.

To summarize the process: we take into account your concerns and preferences, medical information, family history, diet and lifestyle, give you a comprehensive and personalized product recommendation list for you, and connect you with your SkinTwins. The more often you login in and keep your information up to date, the more tailored your experience on mySkin.com will be.

The most common skin types statistically reported by our mySkin community members are Dry, followed by Combination. Our dermograph results data statistically show Moisture readings as the lowest amongst all the ones we measure: namely Moisture, Texture, Luminosity, Hyperpigmentation, Elasticity/Firmness, Oiliness and Redness. So overall, we've noticed that Dry Skin is the key skincare problem most women worldwide have to tackle.

MySkin.com has over 150,000 product descriptions and reviews. What have been some products that are consistently rated high on your site?

The top rated products on our website, which also seem to be the most popular, (based on member ratings) are:

  • Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser
  • Olay Complete Daily UV Defense Beauty Fluid
  • Neutrogena Deep Clean Gentle Facial Scrub, Oil Free

You have sections on your website for special skin concerns, from loss of elasticity to fine lines and wrinkles. What are some things someone should look out for if they are experiencing loss of elasticity when deciding on the best product? What about wrinkles?

Loss of elasticity is an inevitable part of aging, and is also be dictated by genetics, unfortunately; but it doesn't mean it can't be slowed down and prevented. It's key to be very generous with your moisturizer. Use products with hyaluronic acid. Including Retin A based creams also does wonders for those first signs of aging. The neck and décolleté typically show loss of elasticity and firmness, so don't forget to pamper these areas of your body as well. Harsh weather also plays havoc on the skin, so avoid elements that can further break down collagen and elastin.

Look for formulas laced with antioxidants (vitamin C), peptides, retinoic acid or retinol (a derivative of vitamin A). All of the above will battle the signs of aging by helping to stimulate collagen production. For those with sensitive skin, stick to collagen-building peptides; they generally don't cause any skin irritation.

You wrote a blog post recently about caring for the skin around your eyes. Do you have a couple of quick tips or thoughts to keep in mind for people concerned with puffiness or wrinkles?

The skin around the eyes is thinner than on the rest of your face and particularly sensitive, so it is the first place to show aging with wrinkles and puffiness. Prevention is key. A good night's sleep will help prevent puffiness, wearing sunglasses will reduce squinting (which causes wrinkles and crow's feet); and you should avoid rubbing skin harshly or exfoliating this gentle area. Using eye cream with caffeine and cooling masks helps to get rid of puffiness; or you can simply rub an ice cube gently around the eye area first thing in the morning after you wake up.

There was also a guest post on your blog about Essential Care Tips For Women In Their 30s. What are some special considerations for women in their 30s, and what are some specific cures?

Your 30s are the time when you really start to see the first signs of aging. It's not a time to start panicking, but to start taking better care of your skin. If you didn't pay attention to sunscreen in your 20s, that will definitely start to show in your 30s; so I cannot stress the importance of sun protection in rain, shine or snow. And of course, continue to make sure you cleanse, moisturize and exfoliate - the three main mantras for skincare. In addition, a good lifestyle and diet and avoiding stress will help. If you work hard on preventing aging in your 30s, it will definitely pay off in your later years and help you age gracefully.

You occasionally post DIY articles, from an avocado moisturizing mask to lightening acne scars. What are a few remedies that people can try at home on their own?

There are a lot of products you can make at home that can be as effective and nice as those you purchase. For cleansing, I swear by organic jojoba oil. I also like easy-to-make homemade lotion bars to moisturize my body, especially those with vanilla.

For softer skin, I make homemade masks of yogurt (hydrates, nourishes and brightens), gram flour (for exfoliation) and a pinch of saffron or turmeric (reduces inflammation).

One of my personal favorites for the body is simple DIY sugar scrub recipes for exfoliation, which are not only natural and homemade but also eco-friendly! In winters, warm baths with natural and herbal oils do the trick for softening skin and locking in hydration.

As we start to get closer to the warmer months, how important is it for people to wear some kind of sun protection? Are there are any products that you're particularly fond of? Do you know of any natural sunscreen out there?

We at mySkin believe sunscreen is particularly important. When it comes to choosing products, it all depends on your skin type; but in general, you can hardly go wrong with investing in some good physical or chemical sunscreen with SPF 30 or above.

As for natural sunscreen, oils are supposed to provide pretty good protection. For example, people were using olive and coconut oil instead of sunscreen even 30 years ago, but I personally prefer using a physical sunscreen since my skin is very sensitive to the sun. I would recommend oils as an addition to sunscreen or post-tanning (although I'm by no means an advocate of tanning) skincare.

You have a section for skin routines on mySkin. Can you give us an example of a really basic, catch-all skin care regimen, especially for people who are just getting into taking care of their skin for the first time?

The most basic routine can often be the best one. All you need if you're just starting out are a few steps:

  1. makeup removal/cleansing
  2. hydrating
  3. occasional exfoliation

Pick the products that suit you best (based on your recommendations at www.myskin.com), and keep these steps simple so they become a true routine. Use a simple oil-based cleanser (especially if you have dry skin like I do), and hydrate in the morning and night with a serum and moisturizer (with SPF for daytime and without for night time). Once you do this, you can start expanding and creating your own rituals and preferences. Once you are in your 20s, I highly recommend going to an esthetician a few times a year at least to give your skin that extra TLC. Also, my favorite tip for girls: never go to bed with makeup and avoid alcohol-based wipes for removing it. It does no good for your skin!

For more updates from mySkin, like them on Facebook, follow them on Twitter and Pinterest, connect with them on LinkedIn, and subscribe to their YouTube Channel.


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