Skincare Talk: In a tête-à-tête with Dr Pooja Talera Shah, we discover the world of skincare through her lens

The skin expert bares all her go-to skin practices and her love for the less-is-more approach.

While much is told and explained about beauty, skincare in particular, on a daily basis on social media and in magazines, nothing can beat the recommendations and pieces of advice coming from a dermatologist, the bonafide skin expert who talks science. So, we reached out to Dr Pooja Talera Shah, a dermatologist, aesthetician and founder of Kosa Wellbeing, a holistic beauty and wellness spa based out of Pune. With an MBBS degree from the National University of Singapore, Singapore and a Diploma in Practical Dermatology from Cardiff University, United Kingdom, Dr Pooja has been helping her patients reach a better state of skin health and achieve healthy skin through her guidance and treatment plans that involve a combination of a scientific approach and indulgent, skin-enhancing beauty therapies. We pick her brain on all things skincare; keep scrolling.


How do you define an ideal skincare routine?

For me, it’s one that has a stable core routine and special additions based on what the skin needs depending on the age and concerns. A strong core routine will always provide for a deep cleanse that is pH- and oil-balancing, containing a nourishing serum and/or moisturiser, a supporting eye cream, an SPF and an LED Mask. For special additions, I rotate between antioxidants, exfoliators, peptides, oils and retinol based on what is required because it is impossible--or rather unwise--to use everything together.

What is one non-negotiable aspect of everyone’s skincare routine?


As a dermatologist, do you notice a difference in the way skincare is approached today versus a decade before?

I speak for my practice; I moved away from prescriptive and just pharmacy-based skincare very early on to performance and cosmeceutical skincare which is more ingredient-led. I also avoid oral medications 90 percent of the time to adopt a more holistic approach. My selection combines the best of all philosophy -- be it Ayurveda, Korean beauty or Japanese beauty. Understanding what an ingredient or practice does for the skin, particularly the Indian skin in this geography, is where I use my medical knowledge to assess and decide.

Do you think the pandemic has expanded the difference/evolution even further? 

Not really, we’ve always had a discerning clientele that wanted to focus on skin health. Perhaps, the pandemic motivated people to focus on natural beauty, which led to a higher interest in skincare and not just make-up.

Today, skin minimalism or skinimalism is trending. What’s your take on that, from a dermatology POV?

All skincare routines need to be streamlined to be efficacious -- that is less pilling, more absorption and better compliance. Thus, at KOSA, we’ve always practised a lean-clean skincare routine. It’s good to know that it is a trend now!

 Is minimalism good for the skin and the environment, in your opinion?

100 per cent; you can’t apply 100 different products as the efficacy of skincare decreases the longer it is exposed to air after opening it. So it’s really of no use to waste skincare.

 What are some ways to embrace skinimalism

Being clear in what your goal for the next few months is and using products to achieve that particular goal. Alternating single-ingredient products and carefully using multi-active ingredients.

 Speaking of multitasking/multi-active products, talk about one product that you’ve been enjoying recently.

Botanical Essence from Vintner’s Daughter and Multicorrectional Face Oil from Gunam would be the top two. The first one is an old-school goodie; I reach out to it all the time. The second one I use on my no-fuss Sundays; I cleanse in the evening, spritz some calendula, put on my LED mask and then layer the oil and lights out.

 Is skinimalism a great choice for all age groups?

More than skinimalism, opting for a skincare routine that is designed for you is more important, and using ingredients that are effective for your needs and your skin health is what I would recommend.

 What’s one skincare tip that you’d like to share with all the on-the-go women out there?

There are a million options, skincare brands, skincare tech, clinic procedures and invasive procedures. Understand your options well, work with a skin studio to make your investment in skin count and make choices based on what your skincare goals and direction (natural, correctional, augmented) you have set for yourself.