She’s had cystic acne since she was 12 years old and continues to have breakouts now in her late thirties. What has helped her manage her concerns? We caught up with the consultant dermatologist to talk all things treatments, ‘tweakments’ and ageing
The movement to make social media a less filtered space has made huge strides in the last year. And dermatologists have had a lot to do with that. Pros such as Dr Anjali Mahto use their platforms to not just share their expertise, but also their personal skincare experiences, to show people that they’re not alone and to de-stigmatise chronic inflammatory skin concerns. Her posts aren’t just insightful, but relatable too.
“I am not a perfect dermatologist with perfect skin and nor do I aspire to be - it’s what makes me human,” Dr Mahto wrote underneath a makeup and filter-free selfie that she posted last year. Having had cystic acne for the last 25 years - first as a teenager and now intermittently as she approaches 40 - she tells me that she’s come to terms with the fact that she will never have glowing, flawless skin, but is in a place where she’s made peace with that. Things have become more manageable since completing her ninth course of Roaccutane a couple of years ago, although she is still prone to breakouts. What are the treatments and products that have helped her along the way? We caught up with Dr Mahto to find out, and to ask how she meets her changing skincare needs as she gets older.
What’s your skincare philosophy?
I believe less is more. Just because there are 50 different ingredients on the market, it doesn't mean we need to use all 50 of them. I think it’s about picking ingredients wisely that have multipurpose functions. The second thing is to make sure you don't get sucked into believing that the cost of a product is by any means a marker of its effectiveness!
What non-surgical treatments do you have?
I’ve had two sessions of ultherapy in the past carried out on my lower face, jawline and upper neck. It’s a skin tightening device that uses heat and ultrasound to tighten and lift up any tissue laxity.
I also like chemical peels, I find they’re an effective way for exfoliating the skin, removing congestion such as blackheads, and generally brightening up the skin.
Lastly, I had laser treatment for my acne scarring some years ago. I had one session and was pleased with the results. I still have scarring on my left cheek but it doesn't bother me so I decided not to have any more.
I have had Botox two or three times over the past few years. The last time was about a year ago. Each time was on a whim more than anything else. I don't have many forehead or frown lines and my crow’s feet don't bother me in the slightest, so I have no desire at present to get them treated.
I have also had injectable filler in my upper cheeks to help lift my nasolabial folds. I like the results and have no doubt I will have it done again.
Any surgical procedures?
I’ve had nothing done to my body (surgical or non-surgical) and I haven’t had surgery to my face either.
Are there any new procedures that you’re having great results with in your clinic?
I currently offer a number of non-surgical procedures such as injectables and laser but to be honest, I’m quite cautious about bringing in new treatments without seeing scientific evidence for their benefit. There are constantly new devices and techniques coming onto the aesthetic marketplace, and every company is quick to tell you why their way is better than their competition. It is important for me as a clinician not to jump in feet first, but to assess the evidence, and also find out more about long-term complications, which may not be apparent when a product is new to the market.
What would you never go near?
That’s a tough one. I never say never to anything – you never know! As science evolves and as data changes, it is important not to be closed-minded.
How does your skincare routine tackle your skincare concerns?
My skincare routine changes very little and I am keen to make sure I am using evidence-based ingredients to control oil production and blemishes. I use a mixture of alpha and beta hydroxy acids as well as retinoid in my routine.
In the morning I use:
Vichy Mineral 89 , £25 (if needed)
Heliocare 360 Gel Oil-free SPF , £27.79
In the evening I use:
Bioderma Sensibio Micellar Water , £5.20, to remove makeup.
A prescription retinoid (tretinoin 0.05%) or Medik8 Crystal Retinal 10 , £66.99, depending on how my skin is feeling.
Once a week I will use The Ordinary AHA/BHA Peeling Solution , £6.30, and once a month, I carry out a medical grade chemical peel on my skin.
Which treatment or regime do you think gives women most bang for their buck?
From a skincare point of view, I think that most people can benefit from incorporating an AHA into their skincare routine and using retinoids from their late 20s onwards. Sunscreen is a must with both ingredients.
What’s the best lifestyle habit that works for you for great skin?
I have to be honest, my skin just has a mind of its own and lifestyle factors make relatively little difference to what it wants to do. That said, one thing that does help me is making sure that I shower as quickly as possible after the gym – it definitely reduces the amount of spots I get on my chest and back. If I don't have time to shower straight away, then using wipes or pads with salicylic acid to wipe down my skin after exercise really helps, (I usually have Garnier Pure Active 2-in-1 Wipes , £3.26, in my gym kit!)