Beauty and Medicine

Dr Jamuna Pai talks with You & I
Frequently regarded as India’s leading cosmetologist, Dr Jamuna Pai has been a revolutionary figure in making available the latest cosmetic medicine techniques from across the world. She talks to You & I about the challenges she faced while making a name for herself in a field that was virtually unknown when she entered it in the 1990s.
From being a medical graduate, you made a switch to cosmetic medicine in the 1990s. Why the change?
As a child, looking good was as important for me as it was to top my class. I tried and did everything within my means to look as best as I could! After completing my medical graduation, my quest for beauty and good skin was still not satisfied. I realised that good and flawless skin was very important to feeling confident. The turning point in my life was when I realised I could pursue a beauty business whilst practising medicine as well. There has been no looking back ever since.
Back then, cosmetology was a field not many ventured into. What were the difficulties you faced in the early days?
Twenty-two years back, there was no one to teach or guide me in India on how to make my dream a possibility. I travelled to faraway places like the UK, Germany, and Switzerland, learned the beauty techniques, and came equipped with the knowledge. I had to marry the medical knowledge to beauty and set my own protocols. Using the insights learned from various courses abroad, I set protocols best suited to the Indian skin type.
How was Blush conceptualised?
When I ventured into this line, there was no such thing as ‘cosmetology’. Once I decided that I wanted to pursue a career in beauty whilst practising medicine, ‘Blush’ was born. I always had a keen aesthetic sense, which had to translate not just in my practice, but also in the ambience of my clinic. My biggest challenge in the beginning was setting up a small, 500-square-foot clinic at minimum cost and yet making it comfortable for the niche market I was targeting. My husband, the late Dr Bhasker Pai, helped turn this dream into reality, and designed my first clinic just the way I wanted. Now, my son Ashwin, the executive director of Blush, has helped me plan and design my other clinics, as well as the franchises.
Tell us about your association with Femina Miss India.
I have been associated with Femina Miss India, since its inception, as their skin care expert. It is a pageant very close to my heart. I personally look into the skin care regimen of all the contestants, and spend a lot of time with the finalists as they prepare to represent India on the international platform.
Botox today is the saving grace of many celebrities. Tell us what inspired you to introduce techniques like Botox and other laser treatments to Indians.
In the early 1990s, the concept of beauty was restricted to basic beauty parlour treatments. And while women in India had always been aware and careful of their appearances, there weren’t too many options available to them. Also, the Indian market was always very conservative; there were fewer or almost no anti-ageing options available. I was trained for Botox abroad in the year 2000, and I could not help but bring it back to India as I was convinced about the safety, efficacy and the results of the treatment. The lasers available back then too were not suited to our skin type. I wanted to have a laser that would deliver results and not harm the skin. Once the machine that had a ‘cooling tip’ for our skin was introduced, I did not hesitate to bring it for my clients.
Tell us about your book, No One Has To Know. Any plans to write more books?
My book, No One Has To Know, is an easy read for one and all. Besides my experience, I have written everything that I have learned over the years from life and from my clients. I have covered all aspects of skincare: where I first introduced skin care to one and all; discussed the importance of skin; how it ages and what one can do to look after oneself; how to use the products from the kitchen shelf; when to visit a doctor; who to visit, and more. I have emphasised the importance of exercise, eating well, and regular exfoliation to help in the long run. And I have chapterised all this vast information under topics like: Everyday, Exfoliate, Exercise, Eat, Erase (acne, wrinkles and pigmentation). The remaining topics I have addressed in: Emergence, Express, Excise, and Expert. And the book has turned out to be a ‘beauty Bible’ for many.
I surely want to write more books, and am already working on my next one.
You have worked with brides-to-be for the show Band Baja Bride. Could you share with us a skin care regimen that every bride should follow before her wedding day?
I always advise brides-to-be that their skin regimen should begin as soon as the date is fixed, so they have enough time in hand to look and feel their best on the wedding day. No matter how busy you are, you should set aside 10 minutes a day for taking care of your skin. Sunscreen, moisturiser, and a night repair cream must be integral parts of the skincare regimen on a daily basis. Besides this, you need to exfoliate your skin once a week or at least every 10 days. It helps remove the unwanted dead skin cells that make the skin look dull and tired. A regular clean-up/facial once a month can help hydrate and rejuvenate your skin. However busy your schedule, try and exercise as and when you can find time. Also, watch what you eat and balance it as much as possible.
Have you encountered any bizarre beauty treatments that have gained popularity?
‘Dracula therapy’–the name itself suggests why it is listed under the category of bizarre treatments. But it’s a treatment to rejuvenate the skin. It is known as Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy, where the plasma, rich in growth factors, is separated from the blood cells and is infused back into the skin.  --- as told to Vatika