By Helen Chao and Sunjin Chang
Monta Vista High School
On Sunday, July 29, the Cupertino Library and Cupertino Library Foundation presented a session on skincare in the Cupertino Community Hall, led by licensed cosmetologist Kokila Shah. The presentation, titled “Skin Care Secrets for Every Age,” started at 2 p.m. and concluded with an audience Q&A session.
Shah first started the presentation with a scientific description of skin itself, explaining terms such as “follicles” and “epididymis” and the formation of acne. She explained how acne is the buildup of dead skin and oil by the sebaceous gland until it seeps through the follicle and up to the surface. This may result in the formation of a blackhead, whitehead or pimple. If especially serious, Shah considers, antibiotics may be needed — but this is not for most cases or for those who wake up in the morning and look in the mirror for an unwelcome surprise.
“[There are] so many things going on like this,” Shah said, “that any [change] in your skin is a panic situation. So just relax.”
In order to fend against breakouts or simply soothe the skin, Shah recommends light exfoliation and a mask around once a week, for simply 5 minutes. This is a weekly routine that definitely can’t be skipped by anybody.
“[Masking] is distressing a lot [because it] takes care of all your needs of your skin, meaning cleansing, moisturizing, [cleaning] your dead skin, [cleaning] your pores, everything’s taken care of,” Shah said. “So I focus my whole energy into mask in my company, as it makes a simple routine for women. They have very stressful lives.”
For a DIY mask, one can use various foods such as avocado, honey, yogurt and banana, a list of ingredients that anybody could find in their kitchen. If one has flare-ups of acne, Shah recommends diluting a few drops of tea tree oil, which is antibacterial, and mixing it with some anti-inflammatory Aloe Vera juice. Community librarian Clare Varesio also appreciates Shah’s practical solutions and hopes the audience will apply her suggestions.
“You could do [this on] your own at home with things that are just already available to you,” Varesio said.
This is the third session of the Foundation’s Wellness program series, and two more scheduled for September and November. Shah was recommended to the Cupertino Library Foundation by another presenter, a former board member who is a registered dietitian and nutritionist and had known Shah for many years. According to Varesio, the board members considered skincare an interesting topic as it is something everyone must deal with and take care of throughout their lives. In fact, this was exactly the reason why audience member Pooja Sehgal came to the event.
“Usually you don’t go to [a] cosmetologist so this is something to start with, so that’s how I got interested,” Sehgal said.
When Sehgal came to the event, she wasn’t disappointed as she continued to learn new information she was never aware of before the session. What especially caught her attention was that Shah stressed the idea of home remedies for skin care rather than chemical products. As Shah had taken her time to answer everyone’s questions and concerns at the end of the session, Sehgal considered Shah an approachable speaker. In fact, Shah even offered samples of her skincare line after the session. Sehgal plans to attend the other wellness sessions in the future. However, Sehgal agrees that not many people are aware of the sessions and hopes that the wellness sessions will be promoted more in the future.
“You know it’s only because I follow the program very religiously so that’s how I know,” Sehgal said. “But maybe most people don’t know about it.”
Although Sunday afternoons are often busy for Sehgal, she decided to come after realizing that the session was on selfcare. However, Shah didn’t solely talk about physical selfcare, but also gave advice about keeping a positive mentality, such as the importance of being confident in one’s beauty even when aging. Shah urges people to discover and identify what makes them beautiful — it might be one’s hair, skin or something else entirely — and to emphasize or “play on that” specific quality.
“As we age, we are more beautiful, we are more confident and we have a treasure of experience to give to people,” Shah said. “So every birthday is a blessing.”