UT Students create skincare organization to promote confidence, acceptance

Dina Barrish

After a red-eye flight to Seoul, South Korea, a 15-year-old Anjali Patel walked into the airport bathroom. As she grabbed her toothbrush, she noticed everyone around her — children and adults alike — setting up a five-step skincare routine. 

“I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is really crazy,’” said Patel, a business and economics freshman. “Everyone (has) unbelievably perfect skin.” 

That’s when Patel, who had been struggling with acne, said she started researching Korean skincare habits, such as using organic products and the effect of nutrition on skin. Six years later, Patel has her own multistep skincare regimen, a skin-healthy diet and a clear face.

“I was able to fix my own skin, and the confidence boost after doing that was really great,” Patel said. “In America, you get acne and then you start worrying about it. In Korea, (skincare) is more proactive.”

When UT students began complimenting her and asking for skincare tips, Patel said she realized the demand for an on-campus skincare organization. In December 2020, she pitched the idea to Jenn Mickel, her close friend, and the duo launched Skin From Within. 

“(Skin From Within) is for education, confidence building and just hanging out,” said Mickel, a computer science freshman. “We want to cultivate an environment that’s super open … a safe space and a stress reliever.” 

Patel and Mickel created a website and Instagram account and registered Skin From Within as an official UT organization. By February 2021, they had 50 members. 

So far, Patel and Mickel have held two Zoom meetings. They said they share their own trial and error processes to encourage members to be confident in their own skincare journeys. 

“It’s a really creative approach to giving back … passing down what I've learned not just in my skincare, but in forming good habits — being disciplined about trying to achieve a goal,” Patel said.

Computational biology sophomore Moy Zanabria said he joined Skin From Within to talk about skincare with a community of like-minded people. 

“(Acne) hits you deep in terms of your self-esteem, every time you look in the mirror and it doesn't change,” Zanabria said. 

Zanabria said he values Patel and Mickel’s skincare-related recommendations, including sunscreen and double cleansing. Dermatologist Marianne Rosen, M.D. also said sunscreen is an essential component of skincare. 

“The most important thing that we learn and we teach is sunscreen…That’s what ages our skin the most,” Rosen said. 

Zanabria also said he took the organization’s practice of words of affirmation to heart. 
 
“If you talk badly about yourself, you’re not going to get anywhere,” Zanabria said. “Be nice to yourself … and as a result, that will show through your skin.” 

Patel and Mickel said they want Skin From Within to be a diverse and inclusive organization. They even designed their logo, a drawing of a figure with no specific gender and a few stars against a soft green background, to represent a natural, welcoming environment.  

As the duo continues to grow their organization and raise awareness about skincare, they said they want people to remember skincare is not about what others think. 

“I do this to take care of myself and be healthier,” Patel said. “Make sure you’re doing it for you.”