Skincare more than skin-deep

May 3, 2020

In conversation with Nida Faisal on how mental health affects our skin.

The Karachi-based duo behind Primary Skincare, Nida Faisal and Abeera Khan aim to combine tradition with science for holistic skincare.

Lawyer by day, Nida Faisal - co-founder of a local skincare brand Primary - believes in the power of holistic treatments when it comes to taking care of our visage. Her brand, built with Abeera Khan, isn’t very old and currently only offers two products (more in the pipeline, blockaded by Corona) but both have received rave reviews that place them equal to their more expensive, imported counterparts in terms of performance and packaging.

In today’s digital world, Primary’s Instagram account is also, as the old saying goes, on-point. Clean, easy to navigate through with tons of skincare related information and actual advice, dispensed without constant product placement, the account engages its audience beyond just surface associations, which is also the brand philosophy at its core. Faisal believes and hence promulgates the idea that skincare shows the best results when it is more than skin deep.

We spoke to the entrepreneur about her own skincare journey that led her to developing her brand, beauty rituals and their place in a self-care regimen and the good old fashioned knuckle face massage.

“At Primary, we believe in a balance between nature and science. I am not too fond of kitchen remedies, they almost ruined my skin when I was younger and some of the ingredients that women use liberally like lemon or baking soda can cause long term damage like chemical burns or skin erosion. I struggled with eczema when I was younger and PCOS in the past. Both played havoc with my skin, which as you can imagine, is extremely sensitive and tends to react very quickly to products.

“I’ve dealt with painful cystic acne, been prescribed very heavy medication from steroid creams and Accutane, and my skin had affected my mental health for years. It’s a vicious circle; you go through a bad phase in life, mentally or physically, and that affects your skin which in turn affects your already shaken sense of self. I’ve had terrible skin at certain points in my life and I wouldn’t even want to step out of my house because I was so embarrassed by my pimples,” reveals Faisal.

It’s a scenario most women, with the exception of a genetically privileged few, can relate to. Hair and skin are two facets of our ‘look’ that directly impact how we feel about ourselves. We all know the power of a good hair day or have experienced a pesky zit before a big day that we’ve been looking forward to. Understanding that self-care isn’t just about products is essential to good skincare.

“I grew up in the 90s where our idea of beauty was equated with makeup. I used to wear a full face of makeup every day to school and when I say full face, I mean it. I’d wear eyeshadow every day till nearly college because that’s what we understood about beauty; it was all about concealing things and hiding them under layers of product. My skincare routine is now 180 degrees opposite. Now I barely ever wear makeup, maybe a little bronzer if I feel I’m looking too pale.

Their glycolic acid toner not only hydrates the skin but the AHAs gently exfoliate it, causing micro-abrasions like scrubs can do.

“Instead of spending 30 minutes applying makeup every day, I take the same amount of time and invest in my skincare routine, which is an elaborate blend of Korean skincare with organic products,” she explains.

Apart from an extensive, step by step daily regime, Faisal also swears by the power of a good work-out when it comes to healing skin. “When we’re stressed and our nervous system is under duress, our body produces the chemical cortisol and if someone has been stressed for an extended period their bloodstream is flooded with this chemical, which is linked to mood-swings and various health issues including those affecting our skin.

“Exercising, on the other hand, has countless benefits that counterweigh these. From serotonin and dopamine surging through your system after a work-out to better blood circulation and that coveted naturally flushed, lit from within look, regular exercise is your primary partner in achieving better skin and greater harmony between mind, body and soul,” Faisal opines.

Faisal’s favourite skincare ritual these days is a face massage. “I gave my jade roller to my cousin so I use my knuckles. After I cleanse and use a face oil (rosehip and jojoba are fantastic) I start from my neck and massage upwards. With skincare, you should always massage upwards because gravity is already pulling your skin down. I find this massage not only extremely soothing and almost meditative but also really aids the lymphatic system and helps de-puff the face in the morning,” she reveals.

Coming to Primary’s skincare products, Faisal explains that their Jasmine Face Mist is a play on rosewater face mists. Not only is the fragrance fantastic, jasmine flower extract is great for the skin and the mist can be used as a prepping primer, as a makeup setting spray or just to keep you refreshed through-out the day. Their glycolic acid toner not only hydrates the skin but the AHAs gently exfoliate it, causing micro-abrasions like scrubs can do.

Faisal’s advice? Ditch the highlighters and focus on holistically dealing with your skin for an unmatchable natural glow!

How mental health affects our skin