In the modern online landscape of clickbait and paid content, the art of curious, research-driven reporting has become more valuable and vulnerable than ever. For Dr. Ekta Y., MD MBA MS, host of the highly regarded podcast Skincare Anarchy, prioritizing this kind of coverage is the very basis of her work. Her show, which has aired over 328 full-length episodes since its start in 2020, has been streamed in over 100 countries. Dubbed “the fastest-growing podcast in beauty” within a year of its inception, Ekta credits “curiosity when it comes to facts” as the driving force. With an average of 60,000 downloads a week, it’s hard to argue with the numbers.
Ekta was seven when a science project ignited her interest in science. “I worked on a science project that showed how a fungus could break down textile dyes in water within seconds,” she explains. The project won first place, and inspired her notion that change in this world is possible, “if we keep looking for answers.” As an adult and studied scientist, her fascination with answer-seeking matched her curiosity for just how little we know about our skin—in terms of both physiology and pathology. “There is no one size fits all in true medical discovery,” she shares. Her hope is that greater understanding will empower consumers to face some of the most prevalent skin health issues today.
Marrying science with skincare pursuits, Ekta remarks that seeking knowledge is our birthright. “We are all born as scientists in our own right,” she says, “My hope is to reignite that fire in anyone who tunes in so that people ask more questions and subsequently we create more answers.”
When Skincare Anarchy launched in 2020, the beauty industry was what Ekta refers to as “cluttered.” Celebrity-spearheaded skincare lines started cropping up in a fashion similar to the makeup guru launches of the mid-2010s. A new indie brand was debuting a light, tinted moisturizer at a pace that felt like weekly. Through thoughtful interviews with countless founders, Ekta began to reframe the overwhelming influx in her mind, and for her listeners. “I have learned so much from all the founders I have interviewed about the spaces we often don’t even acknowledge as true areas of lack in our beautiful industry,” she shares. “I’ve learned to appreciate ‘the clutter.’”
Every brand invited onto Skincare Anarchy is vetted ruthlessly by Ekta and her team. “We simply don’t interview brands lacking vision or purpose,” she notes, and as a result, the over-200 episode library the show has curated reads as a proverbial “seal of approval” by the SA team. This curatorial approach is part of what inspired Ekta to expand Skincare Anarchy’s reach beyond podcasts. The PEN was created when she noticed the influx of beauty articles published as clickbait. This was against the journalistic integrity she had long admired from the beauty editorial community and wellness industry.
The PEN, a network of beauty editorial professionals working to publish articles of “meaning and relevance rather than redundant and hypothetical,” was born. Functioning somewhere between a database and a network, like-minded people in publishing and journalism can come together for the purpose of true collaboration and meaningful features, all with an aim towards education. Ekta’s vision extends to the ever-essential art of mentorship. “I also aspire to make this initiative a place for young professionals to connect with mentors and professionals who can guide them to their career journeys in journalism, reporting, or even publishing,” she explains. One of the first initiatives, called The PEN Light, will be named after the illuminating tool physicians use during a general checkup. “The PEN Light will focus on combining science with good journalism and creating features for brands in the beauty and skincare spaces that can be published in consumer-driven media publications and also peer-reviewed scientific journals,” Ekta explains. As many journalists opt for freelance lifestyles, she sees the space as a wonderful resource for “utilizing connections required to publish their insights in the right place/outlet.”
As for the future of the industry, beyond The PEN, Ekta sees the rise of customization in skincare and beauty. In a recent interview with Ming Zhao of Proven Skincare, the two discussed the consumer’s understanding of “skin as an organ that must be approached as such.” The idea of “one-size-fits-all” doesn’t exist anymore, matching Ekta’s excitement regarding the new crop of brands and the tailor fit each can offer consumers. When asked about what trends inspire hope in the scientist and podcast host, Ekta’s response said it all. “I think the end of trends is what gives me hope. Trends must be replaced by meaningful insights.” In a recent interview with iconic makeup artist Sir John, the concept of encouraging beauty through individuality arose. “I think the future of our industry will be determined by fact-based delivery of information to the masses and a way for consumers to simplify their decision making when it comes to the health of their skin rather than the trends that tell them how they should look,” she shares.
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