Medical Beauty: The Right Thing for Your Skin In Conversation with Dr. Rabia Malik

Dr. Rabia Malik is a Cosmetic Doctor and a General practitioner based in London. She firmly believes in non-surgical and non-invasive procedures for all skin problems. With her years of expertise and knowledge, Dr Rabia Malik gets in conversation with Libas Now on the effectiveness of non-invasive treatments and shares her top tips to achieve the best skin.

Describe what you currently do.

I am a holistic aesthetic doctor. I spend a lot of my time consulting and advising patients about skincare regimes that incorporate product, treatment and supplement/nutritional recommendations. In terms of treatments, the focus of my practice is non-injectable facial rejuvenation (no botox or filler!) and I specialise in skin peels to improve skin tone and texture.

Photo Courtesy Anastasija Je (@anastasija__je)

Why did you decide to specialise in skin after doing general medicine?

As a GP I was frustrated by the limitations on our time and resources. We often didn’t have the time to explore underlying causes such as dietary factors, lifestyle and hormones, so we didn’t get to the root cause.

I set up my own practice to be able to spend more time with my patients in order to help them with specific skin concerns and also to focus on prevention and maintenance of skin health from an aesthetic point of view, which not many people were doing at that time.

Why are you focusing on non-invasive and non-toxic skin treatments?

I was thinking about treatments for myself and my group of friends who were of a similar age and many of us just didn’t want to go down the invasive route at that stage of life. I realised there wasn’t much out there at the time for this market – there were either spa based beauty treatments or injectable or surgical skin treatments. My practice was created to sit in the middle with a focus on ‘medical beauty’.

How effective are these in comparison to other treatments?

Over the years, technology has developed to such an extent that we are now able to achieve great results with non-invasive treatments, such as the skin peels I specialise in, as well as combination micro-needling and PRP treatments.

Are there any side effects to the treatments you offer?

There is very occasionally the possibility of minor side effects with non-invasive aesthetic treatments, which are temporary in any case. Patient safety is a priority and we always seek to minimise the risk of adverse reactions. We do this by starting with extensive initial consultations to ensure we recommend the right treatments for the individual concerned, ensuring skin is adequately prepared for certain treatments, and then by managing patient expectations and giving detailed guidelines for aftercare and skin maintenance after a treatment.

Photo Courtesy Anastasija Je (@anastasija__je)

Can you explain the difference between natural beauty products, organic, and non-toxic?

This is a complex area as there are no universal guidelines or regulations for what these terms actually mean.

Generally and in simple terms, I would say ‘natural’ beauty products tend to contain ingredients that may be found in nature (for example, plant extracts).

Organic products are formulated using organically farmed ingredients, grown without the use of genetically modified organisms, herbicides, synthetic fertilisers and some other chemicals. But there are different certification systems so not all organic products are equal.

Non-toxic products are made with ingredients and formulations that are not harmful to our health.

What is the biggest myth around skin care?

While certain active ingredients are pricey and may lead to products being more expensive, not all expensive products are worth the price tag!

What demographic would you say your clients fall in and what have you learned through working with them?

For treatments, the majority of my patients are aged 35-45 and for consultations they tend to be in their 20s-30s.

Both demographics have their own concerns. Those in their 20s and 30s are often confused about what to use and will come to see me to get advice about a skincare regime.

What are your top five tips to achieve your best skin?

  1. Remember you are what you eat – I believe in moderation when it comes to diet, but try to avoid gluten, sugar and dairy, as things cause internal inflammation and affect the skin.
  2. Water, water, water. Hydration = healthy skin.
  3. Wear a mineral based sunscreen every day to prevent sun damage. It’s easier to prevent than to cure!
  4. Make sure you cleanse your skin thoroughly every morning and evening.
  5. Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep a night. Our skin regenerates at night so not getting enough sleep is detrimental over time.

How should women’s skincare routine evolve as they age? 

I encourage women in their 20s to use sunscreen daily on their faces, and to start using an anti-oxidant serum. From the age of 30-35, I suggest incorporating some form of vitamin A (e.g, – retinol) to help stimulate collagen and elastin.

Photo Courtesy Anastasija Je (@anastasija__je)

At what age should we actually start worrying about wrinkles and what can we do to prevent or minimize them?

It really depends on the individual and how much sun damage they may have been exposed to in their youth, but generally speaking, I suggest stepping up one’s skincare regime from the age of 30-35.

The best way to prevent fine lines is by avoiding sun damage by wearing a sunscreen and using an antioxidant serum, and then by adding in a vitamin A based product.

Do you ever feel pressured to have amazing skin being a skin doctor yourself?

I feel blessed to have relatively good skin, but obviously we all have stages in life when things flare up. Over the years, I’ve had eczema on my face, as well as bouts of congestion and acne in my younger years.

What’s the best emergency skincare tip to deal with a pimple?

A Salicylic acid based product brings down the inflammation quickly, and if you don’t have anything to hand, I recommend crushing an aspirin tablet and mixing it with a bit of water and applying that to the spot as a paste over night. It will bring down the redness and swelling.

Describe your own skincare routine.

Cleansing skin twice a day, an antioxidant serum in the morning, followed by a mineral based SPF, and then a retinol serum at night.

What do South Asian women need to keep in mind when reading beauty and skin articles in mainstream media?

Asian skin is generally quite resilient and tends to be a bit thicker than Caucasian skin, so while lines and wrinkles don’t occur as quickly in South East Asian skin types, there is more of a tendency to pigmentation, so that tends to be a bigger concern.

Photo Courtesy Anastasija Je (@anastasija__je)

What products do you love the most for South Asian skin?

Vitamin C for brightening and preventing pigmentation.

C vita cream is a good budget option. Click here.

Medik8 C Tetra Intense is a great serum that is a bit pricier but worth it. Click here.

In your opinion, is South Asian skin more prone to a certain kind of skin issue more than others? How can we fight it?

Prevention is definitely better than cure, so wearing a mineral based sunscreen daily is important, as is using an antioxidant serum, which will help fight free radical (such as sun) damage

How important are food, supplements and exercise in skincare?

As mentioned above, food affects our body and internal processes, and certain foods cause internal inflammation so are best avoided.

Gut health is also vital, as recent studies have shown a link between our gut and skin. For that reason, eating a diet rich in whole foods (not processed food), and increasing our intake of fruits and vegetables can make a big difference to skin.

Exercise improves health on many levels, but from a skin perspective, it improves circulation and oxygenation, so I recommend some form of exercise, even if it’s walking, daily.

Photo Courtesy Anastasija Je (@anastasija__je)

Have you ever met someone that has had the most remarkable skin and what tips did you get from them?

I’ve been lucky enough to meet lots of amazing women over the years, many of whom have great skin, but those who stand out are those who have taken care of their skin from a young age and been regular with their skincare routines. I can see that it pays off over time!

Should we alter our skincare according to the weather we are in?

Yes, I do think that our skincare should adapt to our environment. For example, in hotter weather I often find patients can use a serum followed by sunscreen, and not need a moisturiser in between.

What did you learn from the In Goop Health London summit?

Goop Health London was a great experience and it was wonderful to hear from all the various speakers. For me the biggest learning point was the impact of changes in hormone balance on women’s lives not just around the time of menopause, but increasingly in the perimenopause, or late 30s-40s, and how we can address these concerns with diet, supplements, lifestyle modification and stress management.

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