Dr Shanika Arsecularatne - Getting Under Your Skin
Dr Shanika Arsecularatne, the Managing Director of Christell Skin Clinic – one of Sri Lanka’s leading esthetic and skincare centres, spoke to The Entrepreneur about the role of brands in re-educating Sri Lankans on the true meaning of skincare and how important esthetic care continues to be.
Shanika prides herself in practising evidence-based medicine founded on researched and proven methodologies. She explains that the flaws we see surface on our skin are due to reactions to internal health issues. “From hormones to stress and general medical conditions anything can cause reactions that show on our skin. Rather than just treating this with a cream or serum, we also treat what’s going on inside your body for long-lasting effects and to improve your health”.
“We are wrapped in our skin and this is what we portray to the rest of the world. First impressions mattered 2,000 years ago and this is still true today,” explained Dr Arsecularatne, however “it is drilled into us to associate good skin with the colour or tone of our skin, but I would say that it isn’t the complexion or shade of skin, it is the evenness and health of your skin that matters”.
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With reference to the recent Colourism movement to better societal expectations and remove negative stigmas associated with skin tone, Shanika explains the importance of educating society as a whole as to what good skin refers to and to remove the association with skin colour. “You have to constantly educate. I work so hard to educate people on cosmetic medicine. It is in our culture to be somewhat concerned with white or a fairer shade of skin. We are conditioned to think that dark or black is a negative connotation. It will take a long time to change. We have come so far to finally understand that men and women are equal and we don’t argue this point anymore, so we are not too far off from understanding this too.”
Initially finding it easy to start Christell Skin Clinic, Shanika soon faced backlash from the medical industry and the general public for the field she chose to focus on – Aesthetic/ Cosmetic Medicine. She noted “Even though my mother had been an established individual in the beauty industry, the field I specifically chose was a completely new one and I had to fight hard to create positive stigma for the cosmetic industry in Sri Lanka. Thankfully, people now understand the benefits associated with it and how it ties in with more traditionally understood medical practices.” She admits that the negative stigma surrounding botox and fillers were hard to overcome 5-6 years ago but that she has seen a shift in stigma regarding these treatments and more. “People thought that aesthetic medicine was a superficial field, but in actual fact, cosmetic medicine goes beyond that.”
Overcoming the social stigma behind cosmetic medicine, Christell Skin Clinic is now a well-sought after service provider in the industry.
According to Dr Arsecularatne, the characteristics of good skin are the texture, tone, evenness and brightness. She believes, through in-depth research done that as a society most Sri Lankan’s have it ingrained in them to be concerned with white/ fairer skin tone, particularly due to historical factors and the caste system – wherein people who didn’t perform outdoor work, were fairer than those in the fields working as farmers, etc.
Dr Arsecularatne’s role has now evolved into innovation, where she aims to provide Sri Lanka with the best aesthetic and holistic therapies when it comes to skin and wellness, as an industry leader.