Content creator Ria Biyani's journey toward healthy, nourished skin
July 7, 2020
By Seoyeon Kim & Pritika Gupta
Ria Biyani oversees brand development and marketing strategies at a skincare company that distributes & markets Korean skincare brands in India. She is currently working on product development for a new skincare brand that they are looking to launch for the Indian market. Combatting the lack of skincare education in India, her Instagram page @rithink_skin is filled with important, approachable information on skincare—‘real, honest, no B.S. tips,’ as she says—and product recommendations for a variety of skin types. Read about Ria’s journey toward healthy, nourished skin.
Q1. What inspired you to start your Instagram page on skincare?
I first started dealing with bad acne when I was 13 years old. I tried everything to get rid of it — seeing dermatologists, taking strong medications, using the Neutrogena & Clinique acne lines, even the St. Ives scrub (I still get nightmares just thinking about that) — but nothing worked! I would wear foundation every time I stepped out of my house because I was so ashamed.
Fast forward to a few years later, when I was dealing with some health issues and I decided to take a year off college to really focus on getting myself healthy. I was eating better, exercising regularly, and not stressing about my skin. That’s when everything changed! I could see the effects of a healthy mind and body being reflected in my skin. I would sit for hours on my laptop browsing, reading, researching, so that I could actually understand the science behind skincare. There is so much information out there; it was honestly overwhelming. But I enjoyed learning, and finally found a routine that was working for me. It was amazing to see my skin transform.
You could say my skincare journey really started 3 years ago, and I haven’t looked back since. I’m quite an introvert so I don’t really speak up about things easily. But my friends and family started noticing my skin and asking me about it, and I felt an instant gratification, knowing that all the money and time I’ve spent on this hasn’t gone to waste. My friends have tried to convince me to start an Instagram page for some time now, but I always just laughed it off. Like do people really care about this stuff? Even if they did, why would they listen to me? But then the lockdown happened and like everyone I had more time on my hands. My friend Karan, who is a fellow skincare nerd, was like, “Ria, screw the people, just do it for yourself!” It was honestly amazing to see the encouragement I got from those around me. In no way do I think I’m an expert in skincare.
I’m constantly learning and evolving my philosophy, but I knew I had a strong voice and could actually help other people.
I think there’s a lot of misinformation or even lack of information in India about skincare but from talking to people, I knew there was an eagerness to learn. So, I figured there was nothing bad that could come out of starting my page. I worked on creating a few posts, got feedback from people about what they thought, and then just launched it. And I am so happy I did, because now I have an outlet for my passion.
photo credit: Ria Biyani
Q2. What are your top favorite skincare products for brown girls, and why?
Sunscreen. Purito’s Centella Green Level Unscented Sun is definitely one of my favorite products ever, but it’s especially great for brown skin. There is a widely believed myth that people of color don’t need sunscreen. That is a lie. WE ALL NEED SUNSCREEN! But people of color do struggle to find one they actually like. Most of the SPF products on the market are not really formulated keeping us in mind. They leave a white cast and feel very uncomfortable on the skin. But this one is just amazing. Korean and Japanese sunscreens use new updated SPF filters which are very lightweight, come in many different textures and work wonders on our skin. I would recommend this to everyone!
Niacinamide. My other brown skin friendly recommendations are ingredients rather than products. I think people of color can really benefit from using niacinamide. It’s truly an all-rounder ingredient. It helps control oil production, brightens the skin, makes pores appear smaller, minimizes redness, protects from sun damage, and treats pigmentation. The benefits are just endless and it’s a must-have ingredient for me. The Ordinary makes a great, affordable Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% serum. I don’t love the formulation but It works wonders for my skin!
Chemical exfoliators. When I discovered chemical exfoliators, it felt like I was introduced to a whole new world of skincare. I was amazed at their effects. Physical scrubs can actually be very harsh on the skin. They cause micro-tears and can really damage the skin barrier. With chemical exfoliators, they are a lot gentler and there are so many different types, which makes it easier to find one that will suit you. My favorite for brown skin is definitely BHA / salicylic acid which really helps clean the pores from the inside and is really good for oily skin. My favorite BHA is the definitely the cult classic Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant. I don’t know anyone who hasn’t seen results from this product. I also love lactic acid, which is an AHA. It's super gentle, very hydrating and a great anti-aging ingredient. It also helps with pigmentation, which is an issue most people of color deal with. It has to do with the amount of melanin produced in our body. My favorite is the Sunday Riley All-in-One Lactic Acid Treatment. It was one of the first few products that really changed my skin, and will always hold a special place on my shelf.
Q3. What’s your favorite face mask / skin treatment, and why?
My favorite face mask would have to be the Summer Friday’s Jet Lag Mask. It’s such a versatile product! It can be used as a moisturizer, an overnight mask or just a quick, 10 min mask. It’s very hydrating and soothing and always leaves my skin feeling so soft! Every time I use it, it makes my face look instantly alive. For treatments, I love micro needling. It’s a great way to target pigmentation, which is something I struggle with a lot. But I would always recommend going to a dermatologist and seeking professional help for this because if done incorrectly, it can be very harmful.
photo credit: Ria Biyani
Q4. What makes you feel your most beautiful self? When do you feel the most beautiful?
When I was younger, my mom would always tell me that it doesn’t matter if you have 5 layers of foundation — people can always see through that. What matters is the kind of person you are from the inside. This has always stuck with me. I think what makes me feel most beautiful is just real happiness and the freedom of accepting myself for who I am. For a long time, I struggled with figuring out who I am as a person, what I liked and disliked. I would beat myself up over the fact that I felt so lost, questioning everything I did. But I’ve learnt that everything in life is a journey and it all happens for a reason, and it’s important to keep reminding ourselves of the things that matter the most to you. For me that feeling of happiness is what keeps me going.
Even when I started this page I thought to myself, "If I can help even one person feel more confident in their own skin, I’ve accomplished my goal."
It’s not just my own happiness, but also the joy I see in other people. That’s what keeps me going.
Q5. If you could go back in time, what would you tell your younger self about skincare?
Wear sunscreen. Every single day without fail. I would tell that to everyone honestly.
Be kind to your skin and yourself. Having acne is not the end of the world. Your skin doesn’t define who you are; don’t be so hard on yourself and don’t be afraid to be yourself.
Be patient and consistent. Everything good takes time. You aren’t going to see magic happen overnight. Learn and listen, but do your own research. No two people in the world have identical skin, so figure out what works best for you.