Known as @clearskindoc on Instagram, Dr. Aaliya Yaqub has amassed a large following as an influencer. She is board-certified in internal medicine with a fellowship in dermatology and an adjunct clinical professor at Stanford. Aaliya is very active in Silicon Valley and the Health tech startup space.
Formerly part of the founding team at Forward health, she later worked at Facebook as part of the medical team. Currently she is an advisor to several startups and has also founded startups herself. Having an interest and expertise in skin health we discuss a range of skin-related topics, the emerging field of beauty tech, her journey into startups as well as living a healthy life.
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Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: Hi guys! Welcome to another episode of the body clock podcast by Owaves. Today, I’m joined by clear skin doc, otherwise known as Dr. Aaliya Yaqub, who is an internal medicine physician. She’s also done a Fellowship in Dermatology at Stanford and she’s affiliated with Stanford as well. She’s quite an innovator and she’s been involved with quite a few different startups in an advisory capacity as well as being a founder.
Aaliya is someone who’s quite active on social media and is quite an inspiration for many people, as well as women, so it being International Women’s Day, it’s a perfect time to have Aaliya on – couldn’t imagine anyone better to be being a good role model for women around the world. She’s doing so much. She’s also a mother and she seems to be able to really manage her time very well which is a concept of Owaves revolving around time. So nice to have you on Aaliya.
Dr. Aaliya Yaqub: Well, thank you so much Sohaib. I think today is perfect. Happy International Women’s Day to everyone.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: No, I think the listeners will be really looking forward to what you have to say. So to begin with, you’ve been involved with so many different things. Do you want to give the listeners a bit of an introduction of what you do and your journey from Madison into this entrepreneurial innovation world?
Dr. Aaliya Yaqub: Definitely definitely. Yeah, so I knew that I wanted to be a doctor since I was five years old. My father is a physician as well. I went through the traditional sort of route – medical school, residency, fellowship; and then during my fellowship at Stanford, I was exposed more to the innovation in Silicon Valley, especially in digital health and also diagnostics. And once I saw what the potential was for change and for innovation around me, I sort of felt like if I didn’t make myself a part of that I would regret it for the rest of my life.
So I did some soul searching and instead of staying on in academic medicine or going into private practice, I ended up working for my first startup which was Crossover Health, and I was an on campus doctor on the Facebook campus for three years, where I practiced medicine but I also learned the business side of things: how you build a company, how you scale a company, and how you can actually bring change to the health care system through through the startup world.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: You were quite a big thinker, looking forward quite early on – one of the first few doctors to kind of venture into Silicon Valley it seemed, because now health tech is becoming a buzzword. But you were involved with Forward Health as well and being based in San Francisco, I mean you’re in the perfect location with the tech environment and the tech boom.
Dr. Aaliya Yaqub: Yeah.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: So you understand medicine, you understand business, you understand tech and then you’re quite big on social media as @clearskindoc. How did clear skin doc come about? What was your purpose behind it?
Dr. Aaliya Yaqub: Yeah. That’s actually a great question. I don’t think I have told this story very often. So after being at Facebook for a while, I ended up leaving to start a company with a couple of other folks from Uber and Google called Forward. It’s basically the modern doctor’s office powered by A.I. There’s now Forward clinic locations throughout the U.S. And it is expanding and growing quickly.
And so while I was at Forward, I had the idea of designing a skin care program for our patients because I noticed that no matter how educated or savvy or stylish or well read a person was, most people didn’t know how to take care of their skin and that’s men and women alike. And so we came up with this skin care consultation program.
We educated people about how to take care of their skin. And then I thought, gosh well if this population needs help with their skin, I bet we can educate people online about it too. So my intention actually was to create an Instagram account specifically with skin care tips and basically information for the general public and really what it morphed into was something quite different as you can see if you visit my page.
But it ended up kind of being a surprise to me that people were interested about it – interested in me and my path and what I do on a daily basis. And so I share a lot of that sort of stuff on there. I also share my passion for supporting female entrepreneurs and bringing more women into science, technology, engineering, and medicine and the arts. And so yeah, it’s kind of taken on a life of its own. It’s really fun. It’s sort of like a hobby for me at this point. But yeah I enjoy being on Instagram. I enjoy interacting with people from all over the world and I enjoy sort of like mentoring I guess from afar.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: I mean a lot of people seem to gravitate towards you and your you know your Instagram personality because you seem very genuine. You make a lot of content relatable to people. This is what I’ve heard from some girls I know within medicine and they really like following you.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: So you seem to have fostered that perfect connection someone who’s, because let’s just be real. You’ve been at Stanford, one of the elite universities, you’ve trained as a physician, working in Silicon Valley. It’s a very sort of disconnect world with the general population but you seem to be able to bridge that gap and really give people actionable advice but even you know help give them almost life hacks on how to improve their life.
Dr. Aaliya Yaqub: Yeah. Thank you so much. And that actually means a lot.
Dr. Aaliya Yaqub: So when it comes to my Instagram account, as you can imagine I’m quite busy with three little kids, a bunch of startups that I work with, and just life being so busy with that being involved in so many non-profit causes and what not. Instagram is kind of a fun outlet for me. So when I learn something in my personal life or my professional life I like to just stick it on my Instagram page so other people can learn from it too.
And I try for the most part to share things that I think are valuable to other people, because you know when I go on Instagram there’s tons of great fashion content and there’s tons of great like makeup tips and all of that stuff that we see a lot of. But there isn’t a lot of content that I feel like I’m learning from. And I think we have a really great chance to change people’s perspective to widen their horizons, to introduce them to new topics through social media.
So that’s sort of a lens through which I like to connect with people and share things which is a little different I think than how other people do it. Also, I think the unique thing is you know I don’t make my living off of Instagram. So for me it’s just a creative outlet. It’s really fun. And you know, if there’s a week where I need to disconnect and really focus on work or you know I’m sick or something I just don’t post which is nice but I’m so thankful for all the incredible people that I’ve connected with on Instagram and through social media.
And I think it’s you know a lot of people come to me they’re like well I want to start an Instagram page and I don’t know what to do and I don’t know what people are going to think of me but I say if you’re one of those people who wants to start something and you want to educate other people or you want to connect with other people, you should totally just do it.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: I mean that’s very inspiring. It seems you’re inspiring a lot of people which is interesting because you’ve worked in kind of the Facebook campus and now there’s a lot of backlash with mental health and social media. But I think people generally enjoy following someone like you who seems to encompass compassion and kindness which may not always be the case nowadays on social media. So do you think social media is a positive? Obviously you’re using social media in a very positive way. Or do you think it’s dangerous?
Dr. Aaliya Yaqub: So having been a physician on the Facebook campus, I can say I probably have a lot more insight into how social media is developed than you know than others. And I will say that a lot of my former patients worked on Instagram and I would often ask them like what are you working on or you know what are you doing to make Instagram better. And what I would hear over and over again is – “Hey, we’re working on engagement.
We really want people to engage with the app more and more and more.” And so I think it can be a really dangerous cycle because they’re hacking our psychology in a way and figuring out how do we get these humans to use this app as much as possible, for as long as possible, for as many things as possible and into that part of it is really dangerous because you can have people who get addicted to social media and they’re constantly on their phones.
They’re constantly scrolling and they’re not connecting with humans in the real world. They’re not experiencing nature. They’re not decompressing. They’re really like living this sort of online life. And so that part is what I am most fearful about for this next generation and for my kids especially. But I think there is so much good that can come from social media as well. As I mentioned if we share like really quality content with each other, if we’re sharing things that we can learn from but it just depends. Like humans all have different incentives for being on social media and for using it.
And I think, unfortunately a lot of the flashier topics and things and pictures are what do well and elicit more of a response and elicit more likes and elicit more comment. And so that’s what we see more and more of. So I think it’s kind of a mixed bag. But the thing that worries me the most is just the propensity for people to just waste time like literally hours and hours and hours on social media.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: Yeah, it’s very easy to get carried away and I guess if you’re using it for an outlet of positivity or spreading knowledge, there’s no other medium like it. I mean it didn’t exist 10 or 15 years ago – we couldn’t learn something and you know disseminate it across society so quickly.
You seem to have a very good balance because you’re raising three kids, you’re a mother, you’re doing you know you’re a doctor as well. You know working with a lot of startups, founding startups and you have a very busy life based in California, which is you know a very stimulating environment where there’s a lot going on.
So with Owaves, we focus on time and time scarcity being one of the barriers for wellness and I see you as someone who is trying to balance wellness with being successful and productive at the same time. So is this something obviously you went through residency, which there’s a lot of media attention on maybe residency that makes it difficult for doctors to take care of their own mental health and participate in you know lifestyle medicine factors such as nutrition, exercise, sleep? How did you manage that and navigate that? And how do you do that now? How do you make time for being well or self care?
Dr. Aaliya Yaqub: Yeah, I think this is such an important topic because at different stages of your life you probably need slightly different things. So I remember being a resident where I had no autonomy over my schedule and you literally are surviving. You’re doing the best that you can do. And so unfortunately, I think the training environment in medicine is really hard. It’s really hard to do what you think is best for your body at times. But I will say that after medical school, it’s been much easier.
What I recommend to my patients and what I try to do myself as well as to really set boundaries. So you have to understand you know am I a morning person, am I an evening person, what’s my period of productivity during the day. What are sort of the things that help me feel the best. How much sleep do I need.
All of those factors really play into how well you’re doing at a given time. And for me, I know that I do much better on eight hours of sleep than I do on seven or six or five or four or less than that. And when I get into four or less hours of sleep, it’s so profound that I literally cannot find the words sometimes to describe what I’m trying to say.
Dr. Aaliya Yaqub: So after having experienced that I try to make sure you know everyday I try to get at least seven to eight hours of sleep. So that’s a really big priority for me. The other thing is I tend to do really well at night working at night. And so I try to block off like two or three hours at night where I can do emails, work on presentations which is like quiet time for me.
Dr. Aaliya Yaqub: And hence I’ve kind of shifted my schedule a little bit recently where I’ll wake up a little bit later. I’ll do some meditative exercises in the morning. I’ll have some quiet time. I’ll spend some time with the kids. I’ll drop them off at school and then I actually don’t start my first meeting of the day until 10:00 a.m., which is when I feel ready to approach the world and be super productive and interact with my team.
Dr. Aaliya Yaqub: So I kind of go from like 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on the work side and then I spend time with my family and then I resume work usually about eight thirty or nine at night and I can go until midnight and then I’ll for sure go to sleep by midnight. I’ll try to get eight hours, so I’ll wake up around like seven forty five or eight. And then you know have my like alone time in the morning and then spend some time with the kids and start over again. So it’s interesting because that’s not how I always have structured things and when I had a more intense clinical job there was no flexibility to do that.
But when I was at Forward and I was in charge of my own sort of clinic schedule over there, I then had a later start.I told my colleagues – “Hey listen, I do so much better if I start with patients at nine thirty, because they give me time in the morning to do knock out a bunch of things that I need to do.”
So luckily they were like super supportive and that’s sort of where it started and now I just realized this is what works for me and it allows me to be like the most productive best version of myself. So hey, I feel like people should do what works for them but unfortunately you don’t have that sort of flexibility like in training and sometimes you know in a rigid, very rigid job.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: Well, it’s great that you’ve mapped out your day and how it maximizes your outputs because I think that’s the most important thing. And that’s what with Owaves, we’ve seen how everyone’s day does look different. You know LeBron James to you know someone who’s an Olympian. Everyone has different nuances to their day. But the important thing is that people make time for like you said meditation and sleep. So you have to hit your priorities and it’s got you kind of worked out what works for you.
And obviously in the startup world, life can be a bit more unstructured whereas as a doctor you know you’re kind of given the hours you’re working. So how do you make time for socializing or do you participate in any exercise? I know it’s probably very difficult because you’re so busy you know raising kids, can be such a almost an unplanned activity because kids wake up at night, you know they have demands, you have to make time for them. So it almost kind of throws you off your routine.
Dr. Aaliya Yaqub: Totally totally yeah. That for sure definitely happens. So I do try to make time for exercise. Sometimes it’ll be really really tough and I won’t get to do what I really want to do. So I really enjoy fitness classes but sometimes my schedule doesn’t allow for that. So I’ll work out at home. There’s a really great app actually that I like using, it’s called Future. And you actually have a personal trainer on there that just works with you – sends you a routine.
If you have 15 minutes, they’ll send you a 15 minute routine. If you have 30 minutes, they’ll send you a 30 minute routine and they’ll help address any sort of issues that you’re having during that day. So it’s very personalized. And so that’s been really helpful. They also serve to motivate you because some days you completely forget – oh you know I should be working out. So that’s been really helpful.
The other thing that’s really helpful is I just try to spend as much time as possible outdoors. I walk a lot. I go for walking meetings instead of sitting down having coffee, I’ll invite the other person to like hey let’s just go for a walk because you end up burning calories, you get that fresh air, you just feel a lot better after those types of meetings. So I try to stay active as much as possible. But you know getting to the gym or going to a class, doesn’t happen honestly as often as I would like.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: You’re quite proactive and I think that’s what’s best – incorporating it into your life and what fits. I follow you on Instagram and it seems like you’re generally eating quite a diverse healthy diet of fruits and veggies. Do you follow a specific diet? A lot of different trends these days. Or do you generally eat unprocessed – you know focused on vegetables and fruits and other non-processed foods.
Dr. Aaliya Yaqub: Yeah. So being from a South Asian background you know heart disease runs in my family. So I’m very sort of aware of that and I think our entire family has sort of shifted to being being much more plant based than I think we were when we were growing up. So I try to limit my meat consumption. I really really limit red meat and only eat like red meat once a month or something like that. Try to eat a lot of fish, mostly vegetarian food. I think at this point lots of salad. I mean you know we all indulge here and there but I think what I found that works best for me is intermittent fasting. So I’ll kind of do a 16 hour fast.
I won’t eat until about noon or 1:00 p.m. every day and then I’ll have two small meals and then I’ll you know I won’t eat anything overnight until the next day at 1 p.m. So that kind of works really well for me. I also try to limit carbs as much as possible but I don’t really believe in any of these CAD diets. I think the best thing really for most people on a population level is just portion control and eating like a diverse grouping of different types of foods.
Dr. Aaliya Yaqub: I think the one thing that we are seeing more and more evidence for is that you know higher levels of meat consumption are associated with more inflammatory diseases and more cancer. So you know people who are eating a lot of meat, a lot of processed meat are probably not doing the best that they can do for their bodies.
But I think there has to be a cultural shift right because at least for us Americans we like, we like our hamburgers and and I think Americans are really accustomed to eating meat almost for every meal. So I think that’s going to be interesting to see what happens over the next 10 years. But in our family we’re for sure moving like more plant based, for sure more vegetarian probably is what I’d say.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: Well, you do you live in California. California sometimes is seen as a bit of like a tech bubble, a wellness bubble. There’s a lot of different concepts that exist there which don’t reach the rest of the world until probably a year or two later. So as someone who is an embodiment of kind of health and wellness on helping people kind of live a more optimized life, how do you see people how do you see these trends impacting people, who may be kind of going through mental health issues and they’re feeling quite down? Do you feel lifestyle is something which can dramatically improve their health and their mental well-being more specifically?
Dr. Aaliya Yaqub: Oh for sure, for sure.
Dr. Aaliya Yaqub: I think working with patients who are you know working for tech companies, you see a lot of mental health burden and a lot of sort of issues in the mental health realm. It’s actually interesting. One of the startups that I work with it’s called Modern Health and what they do is they basically provide mental health solutions for employers to offer to their employees. So they’ve developed a CBT based online program to help people who aren’t quite in need of psychiatric care but who definitely need some help on the mental health front.
Maybe they’re feeling some slight anxiety or some slight depression. And so I think you know going back to your question of wellness is it’s kind of it’s it’s kind of a buzzword, it’s kind of a loaded topic but it’s something that we really need to sort of address and I think what I’ve seen observationally, is people need to set more boundaries. That like at the end of the day that’s the bottom line. It’s like we need to turn off our phones and close down our computers at a certain time, have some free time to sink, to sleep, to interact with other humans.
We can’t be on all the time. Like in Silicon Valley, I see this culture of people constantly attached to their email, to their phones, responding to every message whether that’s on their Apple Watch or on their phone or on their computer. And I think as humans we really do need that time to disconnect and to use other parts of our brain and our body. And so as both as a physician but also like as a wellness advocate that’s what I’ve been advocating for for the last several years.
And I think people are starting to appreciate that as a society we have a lot of mental health burden and we need to destigmatize that and we need to provide people with tools to help regulate the areas where you know they’re suffering in their lives – whether that’s like being overburdened by work, feeling pressure to be like this weekend warrior or I don’t know if it’s like that in other places in the world but here it’s so interesting. People will work like an 80 hour work week and then they’ll run a marathon on a weekend and they literally have no downtime.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: That’s crazy.
Dr. Aaliya Yaqub: So I think it’s really important for people to prioritize downtime and that means a different thing for different people. For some people, that’s like watching TV. For others it’s like going for a walk or you know laughing with friends or family. But I think we definitely, we definitely need that for sure.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: I think that really hits home with me because as someone who’s quite into tech, you are cognitively loaded all the time. You’re checking Slack or WhatsApp, Instagram Twitter, LinkedIn. There’s no end and you’re always going to be met with notifications – not to even mention email.
But I think I’ll take that Aaliya’s best time hack would be setting boundaries which none of our previous guests have mentioned which is a very good one actually, because if you know where the lines are, you’re not going to overburden yourself and that will make you less productive than you want it to be. So that’s really good and with Owaves we’re trying to set day so you can kind of plan time for socializing, exercise, nutrition and not stray too much from those boundaries. So I think that’s really interesting that you raised that.
And with mental health as well I think you’ve given some real good advice for people that it’s different for everyone. What makes them recover. And I think recovery is something which is – athletes do it, Olympians do it. I think more and more Silicon Valley chief executives are learning.
Recovery is really important for them to be at their best. And you’re saying that you sleep eight hours is brilliant. Or try to because sleep is one of the most important things for memory consolidation and creative process is someone who’s an innovator. I mean I guess that’s probably one of the reasons why you are so innovative. So talking about innovation, let’s come onto your startup. So what are you involved with at the moment that you are happy to talk about?
Dr. Aaliya Yaqub: Yeah. Yeah. So there’s a bunch of stuff that I’m involved with that’s still felt. So I won’t mention that but it’s been kind of interesting to see my career evolve.
Dr. Aaliya Yaqub: So I’m still a practicing physician but I am very much involved in the startup world and I would say that’s sort of like my full time gig at this point. So right now I’m the medical founder of a startup where we’re working on developing a diagnostic test to empower women with regard to their sexual health. So I can’t talk too much about the details yet. I hopefully will be able to talk about them later this year but that’s something I’m really passionate about.
And then the other thing that I’m working on is a diabetes platform for Type 1 and Type 2 diabetics, who are insulin dependent and using a CGM. And so we basically help them through a physical location, a clinic where we have endocrinologists but then we also have this very robust app and that service is launching in about a month here. So I’m really excited about that. That’s called Steady Health and I think it’s going to change the way that diabetics are cared for with smart tools and with more insights than I think are available at your typical endocrinologists office.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: That’s really cool. And two very up and coming space in the health field. Yeah continuous glucose monitoring is becoming quite fashionable in Silicon Valley as well, getting a lot of healthy people seeing their responses to different foods something I’m quite interested in. So that’s what you seem to be working on.
Dr. Aaliya Yaqub: There’s a lot of body hackers here for sure.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: I think I should be in California. I’m a bit out of place here in London. I’m definitely interested in all biohacking, self quantification and data. So okay that’s pretty cool – two startups. You’re managing, you’re working as part of these startups. You do a lot of kind of charitable work being a physician as well. You’re someone who is quite grateful and gives back to the community as well. And I think for young people, you’re a good role model for people to see that you have to also be giving back while still improving yourself and becoming more skilled in various areas.
Dr. Aaliya Yaqub: Yeah totally. You know it’s funny because a lot of times what I hear from people is – “Well, hey listen, I’m like I’m a student or I’m in residency or you know I just started a new job and I don’t really have time to give back in any way or like I don’t have enough money yet. I still have loans.” And my argument, my counter argument to that really is that you know I think in order to further yourself and further your community and to be truly grateful and to reduce your anxiety, you really do have to be giving back at every stage of the way.
So whether you’re a student or a resident or you’re at a new job and climbing the ranks, whether or not you have money or not, you should be giving back and you know that could be through volunteering, that could be through you know one of your talents, you can donate your services to an organization that really needs your help.
And it could literally be something that you do like half an hour a week. It doesn’t have to be a large time commitment or a large financial burden. But I really really strongly encourage people to start giving back and make it a habit and not something that they’re going to do once they make it you know down the line, when they’re much older. So that’s sort of my take on it. I think that being active in your community really improves your creativity, it improves your gratefulness, you have less time to be anxious, it helps with your mental wellness. So I think there’s no downside whatsoever.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: I think it really helps a lot of people, especially emphasizing that it’s good for their mental health as well because sometimes we can overlook these activities. And you’ve made it evident that it’s possible, because if someone as busy as you can make time then I don’t think anyone has an excuse. And so moving on to a bit of more skin related topics, I’m sure listeners when they see @clearskindoc, they are interested in skin care. A lot of young people, well skin health is something that they’re very attracted to and interested in the whole topic learning about it. So to start off what would be your best skin tips for someone on a budget?
Dr. Aaliya Yaqub: Wow. So there’s a lot of great tips that I can share but I guess for somebody on a budget. So I guess the overarching thing I can say is you don’t have to spend a lot of money to have healthy skin and there’s just some really great products available at the drugstore. And one of those products that is an absolute must, like that you have to. One of the cardinal rules of skin care for both men and women is that you have to use your sunscreen every single day. You have to find an SPF formulation that’s at least above 30 that you can wear every single day.
Dr. Aaliya Yaqub: And I got my husband started on this. Probably I don’t know like seven or eight years ago and he comes he cannot live without his SPF now at this point. And I’m slowly converting all of his friends. But I find that men usually are a little bit more shy to do that. But you know skin cancer risk is really real.
Dr. Aaliya Yaqub: And then nowadays everybody really wants to preserve their good looks and doesn’t want to experience premature photo aging. So for sure, wear your sunscreen and then look for good quality products at the drugstore. I mean there’s lots of reputable brands that make really good products. It’s all about having consistency like a very simple regimen. The other thing that I will say is people really fall for beauty brand marketing quite a bit. So a brand might say – “Hey, this like miracle cream or this miracle serum or this miracle eye cream is going to do X,Y, and Z for you.” Don’t fall for that. Just keep a very simple routine – cleanser, moisturizer with SPF in the morning.
And then in the evening make sure you wash your face and then there’s a bunch of things that you can add in there, if you’re interested in antioxidants, brightening sort of effects. So you can always add a Vitamin C serum in the morning before you put on your SPF. At night, you can always use chemical exfoliation with hydroxide acids after you wash your face. You could always add a retinoid if you want to build up some collagen and prevent wrinkles. So you know there’s a lot of things that you can do and there’s a lot of great science out there. But don’t just spend money aimlessly listening to beauty claims. Like make sure you follow the science. So I think that would be my biggest advice.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: I think that’s laid down the rules quite well. So with retinoid is that something people should be using daily or weekly or it just depends on people’s skin types and what do retinoids do?
Dr. Aaliya Yaqub: Yeah, so retinoids are really great. They are basically a Vitamin A derivative. And so when they’re applied to the skin, it’s one of the most well studied ingredients in skin care. There’s tons of evidence going back 30-40 years suggesting that Vitamin A derivatives, the retinoid, actually do help your skin rebuild the college and they also help with hyperpigmentation. They also basically help prevent and also treat wrinkles among a lot of other things including like evening out skin tone and pore size and texture. So overall, they’re kind of a miracle ingredient in your skin care. Both men and women can use them. My favorite are the prescription versions that you get from your doctor.
There’s also a really cool tele dermatology website called Yoderm. So if you don’t want to see a doctor, you can do a tele dermatology appointment with a dermatologist on Yoderm.com and it’s a lot cheaper to do that than it is maybe to see somebody in person. But you know there’s lots of great non-prescription and prescription options. One prescription option that now went over-the-counter here at least in the States is Adapalene, Adapalene Gel.
You can you can buy it on Amazon but the retinoids are kind of tricky because you want to make sure that you start low in dose and also very slowly. So it’s something you might want to start once a week in the evening. Top it with a moisturizer. See how you do and over time start increasing the frequency of it, until you get to the place where you can use it every day but that’ll take you a long time. That’ll take you several months to get to a place where you use it every day because it causes a lot of irritation and it can cause peeling. And so you just want to take it slow.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: And then with Vitamin C. Vitamin C it gets a lot of media attention these days as well I’m thinking. And everything you see if you walk through a store is infused with some sort of vitamin C some percentage. It’s quite popular at the moment.
Dr. Aaliya Yaqub: Yeah so once again another sort of buzz ingredient. The reason why Vitamin C serums are quite expensive is because it’s very hard to stabilize them. When vitamin C gets exposed to air it oxidizes and then it doesn’t really do what it’s supposed to do on your skin which is brighten your skin and remove any sort of pigmentation that you’re experiencing. So my recommendation for those is to go with a more reputable brand.
And just because something has Vitamin C in it, doesn’t mean that it’s going to achieve those goals for you because it really has to be in its most stable form and up until now there haven’t been very many sort of brands that have made sort of a stable Vitamin C.
I guess the most loved brand for Vitamin C Serum is SkinCeuticals but it’s very expensive. I recently heard about another interesting brand out of M.I.T. called Maelove. It’s M A E and then love. And that’s at a $30 price point but you have to do your research on Vitamin C serums. So for the most part, I tend to stick to medical grade brands when it comes to Vitamin C serum. And that’s the one place where I personally will splurge on my skin care. But for everything else you can use drugstore products for the most part.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: Do you use mechanical exfoliating as you see all these adverts now popping up on Instagram? People using these revolving devices on their skin.
Dr. Aaliya Yaqub: Yeah, I think so. There is a place for that. You have to be really careful because mechanical explanation can do some damage if you have a very delicate skin type. So for the most part, I actually don’t recommend that a lot. And I don’t use it on myself. I prefer a chemical exfoliation which primarily consists of alpha and beta hydroxide acid. And that can come in lots of different forms. It can come in a cleanser form, a cream, a serum, a lotion.
You can use like there’s a couple of brands that have pads where you can apply sort of the exfoliant and it kind of sloughs off your dead skin cells to reveal the fresher under layers without doing the mechanical scrubbing and exfoliating. So that would be my preference and there’s a lot of really good options out there for that.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: Well, this has been a skin masterclass for me. I did do a placement in cosmetic dermatology. I was more interested in the tech really, because coming onto beauty tech – so I thought, this is not really tech. But before we move on to beauty tech, I’ve seen you in your stories wearing this visor, you know almost like you’re some sort of power ranger.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: It’s pretty cool, I mean. I would use it because you know the sun causes so much skin aging and sun damage is one of the main factors of aging. There was a study which showed I think, if sun exposure was completely reduced the difference in aging was orders of magnitude less on your skin.
Dr. Aaliya Yaqub: Yeah. Yeah I know. That’s for sure.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: What does that product do?.
Dr. Aaliya Yaqub: Oh OK. I think it’s a product by Bluestone Sun Shields. You can also get on Amazon. It’s basically like t’s funny. I spent the summer in Asia and it was so common over there. All the women in China had these big visors on covering their faces and they were wearing gloves to protect themselves from the sum. But I don’t wear that every day. But when we go on a road trip or something I’ll wear it, just to protect myself from the sun while I’m sitting in the car for a long long period of time. But everybody gets a kick out of it. And I think it’s so funny. But I’m serious about you know the sun protection. I think it’s our culture is changing a little bit which is great.
I think people are more prone to wearing sunscreen when they’re you know regardless of the weather – whether it’s sunny or whether it’s overcast, we should be wearing sunscreen probably all the time and people are now wearing more sun protective clothing and gloves sometimes when they’re driving.
And you know at the very least, wear your sunscreen and sunglasses and you can wear a hat and that can protect you from the sun as well. But if you want to go a little bit fancier, you can get one of those sun visors that I often wear. People might just look at you a little crazy though. They do get some funny stares but I think in the end it’s worth it, personally for me.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: It protects you from aging and I wouldn’t expect anything less from @clearskindoc on Instagram because you have to be the top skin advice which is interesting because you talked about UV damage. So beauty tech. So being interested in tech, I’ve been following a few companies actually because I was at a hackathon and one of my ideas from a medical school project was probably should be mentioned on the podcast but I think L’Oreal has maybe acquired a company that’s doing similar. So what the heck.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: Basically you take a selfie through machine learning. When you get a large enough data set, it kind of figures out you know different patterns of acne as well as signs of aging and then gives you personalized product recommendations, similar to Amazon. Because at the moment you have, so someone like yourself, who’s got a Fellowship in Dermatology is very highly qualified to give advice but unfortunately on Instagram and social media the people who are being listened to are mostly these beauty bloggers for lack of a better term and they don’t have any formal training in skin.
But that’s what most people go off. I mean if you ask someone on the street – what they say, a young person. They’ll be like OK we’ll Google it or we’ll watch a YouTube video by a skin blogger. So it was a way of democratizing skincare because if you get the best advice out there people can act on that. So it was kind of an app. So we pitched it at PWC. We ended up doing quite well in that competition but it was more of an ad.
Dr. Aaliya Yaqub: That is super awesome. That sounds incredible. And I think that’s the future of beauty is – using A.I. and machine learning to help people try on makeup and to help people try products that might be suitable for their skin. Using the technology that we have right now, people are just doing trial and error. They’ll hear something like you said from a blogger and spend lots of money on it only to find out that it’s not what works for them. So I’m happy to hear that you work on something like that. That’s cool.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: Yeah, it was more of a concept idea because I felt it was a kind of a gap, an obvious gap in the market where people aren’t really that informed on skin but interesting following the space beauty tech at CES in Las Vegas recently. There’s a few companies that showcased – there was a device that you put on and you place on your skin and it’s basically tracking your UV exposure over time giving your risk.
Dr. Aaliya Yaqub: Oh interesting.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: Yeah. That’s quite interesting. Then there’s the Neutrogena skin scanner which you attach onto your phone. It gives you a bit of an insight for hydration etc. And then recently, similarly to what I said. I was linking it more to mental health as well but this is generally. ModiFace it’s been acquired by L’Oreal quite recently and they’re accelerating pretty quickly when you take a selfie. You know the algorithm works out what signs of aging you have and then recommends a product. And I think there’s a few exclusive dermatologists and I’m gonna say in New York but probably in California as well. We’ve been given access to another L’Oreal device where you’re making personalized skin products based on someone’s genetics as well.
Dr. Aaliya Yaqub: Oh, that’s really cool.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: So do you think tech will take over the beauty industry and the skin dermatology industry as well?
Dr. Aaliya Yaqub: I think for sure. So just to break it down – the skin care and beauty industry is a multi-billion dollar industry. It’s not going away. People will spend more money on their skin care and their makeup and beauty services than they will on tons of other things that they should be spending money on in their lives. And I think that this is an area that is ripe for using machine learning and A.I. and ripe for the new technology that’s being developed.
I think you know a lot of sales are going to happen online. And so for people to be able to try things out, it’s going to be I think for sure that’s the direction in which this full industry is going. And I think you know there’s going to be both technology and science that really revolutionize the way that we experience how we buy these types of products and how we get these services. So for sure. I don’t think there’s any way around that.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: Yeah, it could be quite disruptive and give more access and democratize skin care for people and stop people like you. Like you said trial and error and wasting a lot of money. When you when you can know one or two things are going to work for you based on data. So from that so obviously you’re very knowledgeable about skin as well as tech and that’s kind of a perfect fusion. Are there any trends in wellness that you see coming that you think might be good for young people to be aware of or any emerging trends in skin care or generally any tips for people on how to take care of their mental health, just because Owaves is generally focusing on keeping students mental health in check.
Dr. Aaliya Yaqub: I think I’ll maybe it’s the time to focus on mental health just because I think it’s the place where we can make the biggest difference in our personal lives and how we experience the world and enable us to live our best lives and be the happiest that we can possibly be.
And to some tips for that is like I said earlier make sure that you set boundaries whether that with social media or with work or with friends and let people know sort of how you know that you basically that you need to turn off at times but you need to disconnect whether that’s from your inbox or like I said from social media or sometimes even from people you know in your personal life.
So don’t be afraid to set boundaries. Don’t be afraid to disconnect. Spend more time out in nature. You need to have, I personally believe you need to have time alone in order to have you know sort of like a planning session every once in a while, to understand what are your priorities, how are you doing in terms of the things that you’re working on right now and those priorities in relation to those priorities.
How do you remove the things from your life that really aren’t making you happy, that are not fulfilling your purpose. And you also need to do some planning for you know the next year or the next five years. So you have to have that quiet time alone where you’re disconnected to be able to think about that kind of stuff. And I feel like personally I do that, you know about once a month.
I’ll take like two hours I’ll drive out to the beach, I’ll sit there and I’ll take my notebook and I’ll figure out you know how do I want to spend the next month, the next six months, the next year, the next five years. Am I on the right track? Am I being true to myself? Am I doing the things that make me fulfilled and happy? And so I think you know to really be on the right track, you have to constantly evaluate how you’re doing and you have to give yourself an assessment, and in order to do that you have to really disconnect. So I guess those would be like my personal pieces of advice.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: That really resonates with me and that’s some really incredible advice, especially that you mentioned planning and that’s what Owaves is basically around and someone myself who’s practicing as a doctor and you know part of this clinical entrepreneur fellowship as well as delving in digital health and AI. Definitely planning is what gets me through. And it’s great to hear from someone who’s been successful in all these fields and is still emphasizing the importance of planning. So final question would be what motivates you?
Dr. Aaliya Yaqub: What motivates me. Oh gosh that’s a really loaded question and not one that I thought about in awhile you know. To be honest, there are there are times when I don’t feel motivated. And what’s interesting is during those times that I don’t feel motivated, that’s when I feel like I need to disconnect the most.
And so I’ll you know be MIA from Instagram. I will you know not hang out with my friends maybe for like a day or two and that’s when I’ll do my planning. I’ll go for a walk, I’ll take my notebook, I’ll think about like why am I not feeling motivated. And usually what I realize is that I’m not motivated in that moment because I haven’t taken the time to recharge.
So for me motivation comes from creativity. Like I get really excited when I have creative ideas, when I feel like I have a clear sense of purpose and how to you know enact that purpose. That’s when I feel the most motivated and then when I’m not feeling motivated it’s because I just have killed my creativity by being connected to too many things at the same time and in a sense kind of being overwhelmed and overstimulated, so that can happen too. So you know staying motivated for me is really about making sure that there’s balance, like I need to have time to think and plan and and sort of relax as well.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: That’s I think, that’s something which is very important for everyone and especially people like yourself who are so busy. And it’s something which has been constant throughout mapping the days of successful people. They do make time to recharge.
And obviously you’re a very motivated person to be doing or what you’re doing and carrying on. And it’s a good inspiration for our listeners and people listening. So where can they follow you and keep this motivation going and how can they see some of the inspiring things you are doing as well as sharing a lot of life hacks with people?
Dr. Aaliya Yaqub: Well, yes. So I am not as active on Twitter as I used to be but I’m very active on Instagram. So if you’re an Instagram you can follow me @clearskindoc That’s D O C and I’m very active on there, I post lots of life hacks as Sohaib mentioned and lots of content that I find valuable in my personal life and I try to just pass that along to other people. So yeah, find me on Instagram.
My email address is on there if there’s any way that I can be helpful or if you’re in the startup world and need a medical adviser I do that a lot as well. So feel free to reach out to me there. You can also find me on LinkedIn as well but I’m not really active on Facebook or Twitter so it’s mainly just Instagram.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: Yeah I think that’s where I’ve been following you and it seems like a lot to offer for a lot of people and it’s been incredible having you as a guest on this podcast. And I’m looking forward to the episode going live as well as mapping your O and mapping your day we shall be publishing. So thanks for coming on the Owaves podcast. And I look forward to catching you sometime in San Francisco or Silicon Valley.
Dr. Aaliya Yaqub: Yeah. Thank you so much Sohaib. I really appreciate it. And kudos to you for all that you’re doing with Owaves. Sounds incredible.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: Thank you.
Dr. Haroon Kazem: Thanks for listening to another episode of the body clock podcast by Owaves. If you enjoyed the show, please leave us a five star rating on your podcast app. Please also remember to download the free Owaves app on the Apple App Store. Please tell your friends and your family. It’s a great tool to help you optimize your life and to effectively plan your day. Thanks as always for listening and I hope you join us again next time.
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