Acne-free skin? Challenge accepted.

Hello, I'm Rakhee and I'm a researcher for Garnier. Everyday, I'm besieged by acne complaints. One day, I decided that enough was enough. This is my story.


Name one woman who has never had a break-out in her life. What do I hear there? Silence? Then you can imagine what my life is like, as a Garnier Pure Active researcher. A single day doesn't pass without hearing something like -

"I hate my skin! Why can't it look like the models in magazines?"

"Oh my God I have an interview tomorrow and I have a zit between my eyebrows!"

"It's that time of the month again when I feel like a teenager with a zillion pimples."

Today was a special day. It was my birthday eve, and as I donned my lab coat, I felt proud of having achieved this much at the age of 29. Life as a beauty and medical researcher for Garnier Pure Active was a dream come true for me. Ever since I can remember, I have wanted to enter the medical field and help people with problems that bother them everyday. Unlike illnesses, beauty is a constant concern. And when are we ever completely satisfied? With problems like acne to plague us, the quest for perfection can never end. So I had joined Garnier after completing my MBBS and masters in cosmetic science. I find my work immensely satisfying because I get to create products that satisfy people's innermost desires. When you look good, you can take on the world. And I've had a hand in making that happen for my lovely customers, more than once. I had only a few hours to go however, before I completed 30 years on this planet. 

I looked into the mirror to see if I had bags under my eyes as a result of the strenuous schedules I'd subjected myself to, over the last few days. But what I saw was even worse. There was an ugly pimple on the right side of my lips, mirroring my beauty spot on the other side! 

Now I understood what all my 'patients', friends and family went through. So far, I've been lucky. I get pimples very rarely and I've certainly never been attacked on a birthday. But this was a disaster. The one day when I wanted to look perfect - there was a blemish on my face. And trust me, there's where people look the most. People seldom notice your feet or what you're wearing. But your face? That never escapes their notice. I was done for. 

Neem leaves (Wikimedia Commons)
I got through that birthday somehow, but I resolved that midnight, that I would put a stop to the world's pimple woes - once and for all. Yes, it seems like a tall goal but I had some ideas. Over the last few years, many cosmetic companies have been admitting that going back to nature may be a better idea than resorting to harsh chemicals that end up causing more damage in the long run. I recalled the times when my mother had insisted I bathe in neem-infused water, to keep itches at bay. What if, the same herb could be the answer to the question that confronted me day and night?

I decided to speak to my boss, the head of cosmetic research for Garnier Pure Active, Dr Maneka Sharma. "Hey Maneka, want to get a cup of tea?" Dr Sharma was more than happy to accompany me to the chaiwala outside. One needed a break from the sterile atmosphere of a lab at times. "Maneka, I was thinking, shouldn't we come up with a product that targets the root causes of acne?" The chai was strong and sweet, just like I enjoyed it. "But we already have the Blackheads Uprooting Scrub and Pore Unclogging Facewash," Maneka pointed out. Those had been the products of our hard work as well, but I felt that there was still room for a more 'desi' product. "I agree, but I don't think everyone is comfortable with chemical-based products, even if they do work." Maneka realised that I had something up my sleeve. "Tell me what's cooking in that head of yours." "Neem!" I burst out. "It's a time-tested remedy for all skin woes - especially acne. You know it works! But who has access to real neem leaves any more? What if I worked on a formula for a neem-based face wash?" Maneka looked interested. "That's true. Neem has been an Indian staple remedy since a long time." She finished her tea and paid the chaiwala, who was now busy making a new batch of piping hot, cutting chai. "All right. You have my permission to work on this. But it better be good." She was smiling as she said it, so I wasn't too worried. 


Over the next few weeks, I worked without a pause. During my research, I was elated to discover that neem extracts combined beautifully with tea tree oil and both together appeared to offer formidable benefits against the causes of acne. Of course, I would have to test the product several times before I zeroed in on the perfect formula. It wasn't just what went in it - I also had to consider the texture, consistency, smell and colour of the face wash. "Do you like your face wash creamy or runny, ma?" I asked on a Sunday afternoon. My mother was glad that I was home for a change. "Depends on what kind of face wash it is," she replied. "For a moisturising, winter facewash, I'd prefer a creamy consistency. But if the focus is cleansing and freshness, then it would have to be thinner." "That makes sense. My facewash will fight germs and pollution and ensure freedom from excess oil and dirty pores." Ma always came to my rescue with regards to doubts like these. 

The very first time that we tested the product, we had seven out of ten acne-prone participants tell us that their skin felt much better after using the facewash for a week, along with abstinence from oily foods and other acne triggers. "That's always key - combining beauty aids with the right lifestyle choices. You can't expect one thing to work miracles if you're going wrong everywhere else," Dr Sharma told me. It had been her suggestion to have the participants follow other rules while they were a part of the test. "That's true. I'm so glad they rated the product four on five." One participant said, "I tried it at the end of a long work day and after a quick wash, it felt like my skin had never been subjected to all that smoke and dust." I had tried it myself, and the light green colour and thin consistency felt just right. A few months later, we got the green signal to launch the product! "I am so proud of you Rakhee. Your very first pet project will soon be in stores," Maneka told me and gave me a hug. I had tears in my eyes myself, as I saw the advertisement campaign for Garnier Pure Active Neem Face Wash go live. Do people ever think about all the years of work that goes into their favourite creams and lotions? I doubt it. But maybe you will, the next time you pick up a shampoo or a face wash. :)

(The content above is completely fictitious and has been written as a part of an Indiblogger and Garnier activity)