Growing comfortable in my own skin is a topic I frequently visit, mainly because it has been a work in progress since growing up digitally in front of a lens. From learning to embrace the color of my skin in the context of Western-dominated beauty standards in South East Asia (see my interview with L’Officiel), from feeling confident and fresh-faced in my own bare skin at 25, it wasn’t too long ago that I didn’t feel beautiful unless I had spent a significant time getting ready in the morning.

I had acne prone skin all throughout my teenage years, so I spent years testing every cream and cleanser on the market while hiding behind layers of foundation. In my early 20’s, I adopted a skin care regiment and healthier lifestyle habits while my hormones regulated. Long story short: clear skin is something I work to maintain, and as a result, I do not take it for granted.

Since skin is the root of my self-care practice, I recently met with triple board certified dermatologist Laila Elkeeb for a consultation. What I loved about Laila was her honest and ethical approach to beauty, starting from the ingredients in the products she uses to her perspective in her practice: she is a true champion for embracing natural beauty, and manages her clients expectations to ensure that treatments err more on enhancements than transformations.

A portrait shot after five treatments with Laila Alkeeb. My beauty routine is a little under five minutes thanks to a base of clear and bright skin.

Laila’s treatment plan is extremely hands on, more so than the average dermatologist. Her consultation includes reviewing your beauty cabinet, and advising product usage  based on the listed ingredients, something that has completely altered the way I shop for skin care. The approved products on Laila’s list, often natural or organic brands that you can find at Whole Foods.

One thing I’ve learned through consulting with Laila is how important and effective natural ingredients are, and to be weary of packaging because there are a lot of added preservatives and chemicals in some of the most well-packaged creams that will do more harm to your skin in the long-term than produce benefits.

My treatment plan with Laila included five sessions of non-surgical, laser skin therapy treatment that sculpts skin through advanced, laser technology. I sat down with Laila and talked to her learn more about her process as, here’s our conversation below.

O: What is the name of the laser treatment we used? How is it effective? What are the short and long term results?

L: The laser itself is an Nd-Yag laser. It is a great laser, but results and its effectiveness all depend on the person operating the laser. The best analogy I can provide is if you have two photographers with the same camera – one is a 10 year professional and the other is a beginner. They will not achieve the same results despite owning the same camera.

Short term benefits of laser include a nice red carpet ready glow, shrinking of the pores, lifting and tightening of the skin, decreasing redness and eradicating the little blood vessels on the skin of the face. Long term benefits include collagen synthesis, reverse signs of aging, improving skin texture and maintaining a youthful appearance for as long as you are receiving treatment.


O: What is the biggest misconception of the beauty industry? 

L: The biggest misconception of the beauty industry is this idea that you need to look like someone specific and to drastically change your features to resemble another person, and that people in beauty can help you achieve that.  Everyone is beautiful in their own way and the key is for the cosmetic surgeon to enhance your beauty and bring out your best features by customizing and personalizing treatments in a unique way to each individual.


O: Why is it important to read the label of skin care products?

L: Like anything else that comes in contact with your body, you want to make sure that the chemicals are not going to damage your skin or body in the long run. It is so important to stay educated about the products you use so that you are aware of what is beneficial and what is harmful to yourself. From a larger prospective, you want to also be sure that the things you do aren’t also harmful to the environment around you as well, which in turn will also indirectly harm you.


O: What is counterproductive about using too many products?

L: Overuse of too many products can be counterproductive for several reasons. First, when using more products you increase the odds of the products interacting in a manner that can adversely affect your skin. Often times, the more products you use the more you will find that many of your products are all redundant and do the same thing. So in essence you are layering on chemicals that are not providing any additional benefit, which is also a huge waste of your money.  And, when you have a bad reaction to something, it is much more difficult for health professionals to pin-point what is causing the reaction.


O: What are some of ingredients to be aware of? Which ones to completely avoid and why? 

L: There are many ingredients in products some active and some inactive as well as preservatives 

Preservatives is what keeps these products on the shelf and almost all products have preservatives otherwise they can perish very quickly. There are so many ingredients to look out for but a class of preservatives to note are parabens. Parabens are preservatives that can mimic hormones in the body which can disrupt functions of the endocrine (hormone) system. There have been suggestions that parabens can cause breast cancer and infertility in men.


To schedule a consultation with Laila, visit her website here.
This is not a sponsored post, all views are my own.


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