Ep17: When I was more scared of creeps on the streets than of chemicals in my skincare products

  • Time 4 min
  • Date September 10, 2020

“You better be more careful when you’re outside.”

Next morning, the fam was much in the same mood. Before another lecture came my way at the breakfast table, I decided to skip breakfast, citing an early work meeting. Then I bullied the squad to meet me at a quaint Irani café for bhurji pav and piping hot chai.

Shams gave the show a thumbs-up and between mouthfuls of food, I told them about my family’s reaction. “What the hell!”, said Becca banging the table with such force that my plate almost flew off. “Trust this gen to kill our spirits and discourage us when we try to bring about change!” Looking at a livid Becca, Shams said, “Not true… hamari gen bhi capable hai of criticising their progressive steps.” Both Becca and I looked at her. Eh?

She shrugged and suggested we forget it.

Later at work, I received appreciation for my interview and for bringing DoYou into the limelight. I was basking in the limelight till Mallika told us we were pairing yet again to work on ‘chemicals that actually help the skin’. Not my favourite topic but surprise surprise, Mallika was really good with it.

She began with Benzoyl Peroxide. “Remember BP — Bacteria Perisher”, she whispered. “BP is a warrior against the bacteria that lives in our pores, feeds off excess oil and leads to acne. Not only does BP kill all traces of bacteria but it also improves texture of acne-prone skin by soothing inflammation and redness.” Cool, that was easy to remember.

I took notes as Mallika spoke about Glycolic Acid, “GA or Glow Amplifier is used in exfoliating formulas as it peels away the top layer of dead skin cells like this, while clicking her fingers for effect.

Was I impressed or what! Had I been wrong about her?


“She was a pro in the acid world; no wonder she had an acid tongue!”

She was in her element as she spoke about Hyaluronic Acid. She winked, “HA or Hider of Age is the secret behind reverse ageing. In fact, HA should be the first ingredient to look for while buying a moisturiser. I bet you didn’t know that!”

With unremitting fervour, she went on to Salicylic Acid. I wanted to speak but I was given no chance to even open my mouth, “SA — Stems acne”, she smiled. An important ingredient in anti-acne treatments, it helps open clogged pores and prevents them from re-clogging”

And on she went like a pro in the acid world. No wonder she had an acid tongue!

Just then the door opened and Nandini ma’am walked in. Mallika had an audience and immediately upped her act. “I was explaining the nuances of chemicals to Megha”, she said.  ND nodded, said “good job” and then looked curtly at me, and said “You too, about the radio interview.” Even before I could enjoy that moment of praise she added, “But you better be more careful when you’re outside.” It was only when Mallika too narrated a horrific revenge story that I took them seriously.

Uffff… after that, it was difficult to concentrate. To top that, every once in a while, some well-meaning colleague would stop by to congratulate me and casually share a revenge story. Each incident worse than the other. I needed a break… but not Mallika. She was unaffected and continued as before.

“Zinc Oxide, a crucial ingredient in most sun protection formulas, protects against both UVA and UVB type of radiation and also possesses subtle astringent properties to soothe irritated skin.”, she explained.

She then went on to the popular L-Ascorbic Acid, the only form of Vitamin C that one should be looking for in skincare formulas. Why, you may ask? Cause Vitamin C is the only antioxidant powerful enough to stimulate the production of lost collagen and minimize signs of ageing.

Finally, we ended the session with Kojic Acid, a brilliant remedy to hyperpigmentation. A lightening agent that slows down the production of melanin in our body and brightens dark spots.

It had taken all day to cover this topic. I was frigging exhausted. Taking a taxi home, I plugged in my earphones and lost myself in the music.

The taxi weaved through the crowd and entered a dark, narrow lane where suddenly we were stopped by a man. I could not see who he was, but as he turned, the streetlight fell on his face. I saw that same insolent smile!  Suddenly, the passenger door was flung open and I let out a blood-curdling scream.

The Good Acid Army — by Megha & Mallika

  • Salicylic acid v/s acne
  • Hyaluronic acid v/s skin ageing
  • Glycolic acid v/s dull skin
  • Kojic acid v/s dark spots
  • Zinc oxide v/s sun damage