A year ago, the pandemic wave in my area was at its peak. Incidentally, so was my career as a visiting veterinarian, going to patients’ homes and administering basic treatments. To protect myself, I would double-mask, have a 500 ml bottle of sanitiser in my bag (which, to be perfectly honest, I used more on my patients than for my personal use), and, on the one occasion, quarantined myself for a week when a client was irresponsible enough to not let me know that they were covid positive until the end of the appointment.
But double masking for 14+ hours a day wreaked havoc on my skin, and I got a serious amount of what appeared to be fungal acne all over my face – hundreds of tiny bumps all over my face that wouldn’t go regardless of the amount of face-washing I did. And honestly, it was my first time dealing with such persistent, generalised acne on my face. I had been genetically blessed with clear skin, which would mildly breakout a few days before my period, and even then, it would be one pimple, at the maximum, two, and it would be on my face for a few days.
Finally tired of how I looked, I finally went down the rabbit hole of YouTube skincare gurus, trying to figure out what skincare entailed, and what I had to do to take care of my skin. Finally, I ended up finding qualified doctors, dermatologists and aestheticians on youtube who gave some really great general advice on skincare routines, products and overall skin health and maintenance.
I will say this, though. Skincare is a luxury. It is expensive, and good skincare is yet to be made affordable to the lowest denominations. The cheaper skincare that is generally available contains compounds that, in the long run, aren’t great for your skin (read: fragrance) and can cause serious problems than solve them. But, to a degree, skincare is an investment you make, and the fortune you may spend on treating your skin cancer may be saved by spending an amount significantly lesser than that on a good sunscreen.
So, here is my list of YouTubers who helped me in my skincare journey, from the beginning up until now:
My first introduction to skincare was through Hyram, a Hawaii based skincare specialist who makes videos a few times a week talking about skincare routines and skincare products. His videos are light in tone and informative, and his skincare for beginners video (see here) helped me understand the different components of skincare. Most importantly, he taught me the importance of doing your research regarding the ingredients used in skincare products, and how one must be informed about the products they buy and use.
While I did follow him initially, I soon outgrew the content once I found other channels on the platform run by qualified dermatologists. He isn’t a licensed dermatologist or aesthetician and isn’t professionally qualified to give skincare advice. Suggestions are informal and can be freely exchanged, but advice, especially from a medical standpoint, is a completely different thing.
Hyram did leave me with a lot of great lessons for which I am truly grateful. It was a great starting point , which eventually led me to the others coming up on this list.
Dr Shah and Dr Maxwell are Youtube’s dermatologist-duo with the best advice and consistent, evidence-based information that will ensure you not only make the right choices with your skincare journey, but also know the ‘why’ behind the choices you make. From explaining the science behind commonly used skincare compounds such as retinol and salicylic acid to educating their audience about various dermatological conditions such as milia, acne and acne scars, hair loss and much more.
Some of the best things about them include their easy-to-understand content, the research-backed information that they share, the affordable alternatives to established and expensive products, and the myriad of topics that they cover. And also, they have got to be two of the cutest/hottest dermatologists you will ever see, with great chemistry that gets commented on at least a couple of times in every video. They create both 30-second shorts for on-the-go information, as well as their regular longer videos where they take the time to provide in-depth information.
All in all, their videos are great, and I would widely recommend them to anyone who is into skincare, new and old.
3. Dr Vanita Rattan – The Hyperpigmentation Clinic
For all my skin-of-colour brothers, sisters and others, there is finally a doctor who is wholly and passionately dedicated to skincare to skin of colour. Meet Dr Vanita Rattan, a doctor and a cosmetic formulator, dedicated solely to the treatment of skin of colour. She posts videos daily on her youtube channel, runs her Hyperpigmentation Clinic in the UK, and formulates products targetted specifically to coloured skin, as the western market has products that mainly target caucasian skin, and the needs of coloured skin is different from that of caucasian skin.
Her videos cover a myriad of topics, from skin issues specific to POC to reviewing skincare products targeting POC. My favourite part about her content is how she goes over every ingredient present in the products she reviews, and gives an in-depth explanation about the pros and cons of the products simply based on the ingredients list of the products. Another great thing about her is that she reviews skincare brands from African and Asian countries, such as Minimalist or, along with American and European countries, which isn’t something most skincare content creators on Youtube do, making her content more inclusive than most content creators.
The last great thing that I’ll mention here is that while she formulates her own products and explains them, she also realises that most of her audience would not be able to afford them or have them shipped to their countries, and always offers alternative products. Her content is not sponsored and her videos are always bright, cheery and packed with information. For a POC looking to start their skincare journey but find the general skincare content to be targeting caucasians, Dr Rattan is a great person to follow.
4. Dr Dray
Dr Dray is a no-nonsense, to the point dermatologist who, while being utterly respectful, isn’t afraid of speaking her mind regarding brands and their products. Her videos are information rich, without a lot of frills. She goes through many common drugstore brands and gives a good idea about the efficacy of affordable skincare. She’s very transparent in case of sponsorships, although she doesn’t do a lot of those. Listening to her feels just like how one feels listening to a doctor at their nearest clinic, which may or may not appeal to a lot of people, but it’s something I enjoy.
5. Finally, the honourable mentions… Cassandra Bankson and James Welsh
The first of the last two people I’ll mention here is Cassandra Bankson, a licensed aesthetician who focuses on skincare and lifestyle. Her content ranges from reviewing skincare products, speaking about her own skin journey, the science behind cosmetology and cosmetics, and other lifestyle-related content. She is bright, bubbly and honest with her opinions while being very respectful. She focuses the spotlight on skin conditions that might not be widely known and had used her platform to share stories about rare and common skin conditions faced by ordinary people, and their struggles in overcoming the stigma and the discrimination associated with living with skin that is deemed “abnormal” by society. This is something I truly enjoyed, as it shed some much-needed light on what people go through, and started some necessary conversations on what we can do and what we should be aware of.
James Welsh is a skincare and haircare enthusiast who, similar to Hyram, has invested a lot of time in learning about the science behind skincare and haircare, but is not a licensed professional. Like the others, he shares his opinions on skincare brands and products, with his main focus on critiquing popular skincare products, and demystifying popular practices circulating in social media which may or may not be good for the skin. Personally, I love the vibe of his channel, as it is soothing and refreshing, and you do feel like you’re unwinding with your best friend at the end of the day while you do your skincare routines together. And he maintains that he is not a professional, but an enthusiast who wants to share his findings with the rest of the community, a clarification I feel is very important to make, and I’m glad he makes it.
So, those are all the channels I have followed for my skincare advice, which truly helped me get a skincare routine that was needed for my skin. Skincare is a luxury that is slowly becoming affordable and accessible, and it is also an investment from the standpoint of preventing skin cancers and accelerated ageing of the skin.
Hopefully, these doctors, aestheticians and enthusiasts help you on your journey, directly or indirectly, by helping you fall in love with the large and complex organ that is your skin. I wish you all the best on your journey of, what is in a way, self-discovery, and while you’re there, don’t forget to apply your sunscreen!