With the UK skincare market currently worth over £3 billion, it’s no wonder that skin care has flourished as a contentious topic in recent years. The word “contentious” might seem a bit far-fetched to describe something as casual or rudimentary as skincare, but you’d be surprised.
As a society, we’ve always had a flawed relationship with our faces: whether that be in terms of makeup or skincare. We’re constantly searching for an improvement; never quite satisfied. Whilst the skincare industry is less harmful in promoting what could be seen as a more ‘natural’ ambition for beauty, there are still problems.
It’s hard to tell exactly why there is this seemingly sudden obsession with skincare. But from ‘skinfluencers’ to simply the range of products on the market, it’s hard to avoid the topic.
Perhaps the emergence of Korean skincare products in the US and UK was the first sign of a hyper-fixation with skincare in the beauty community. In 2017, the ten-step skincare routine emerged as a trend on YouTube. Advocating a maximalist approach, the regime included double cleansing as well as using toner, moisturiser, eye cream and SPF, amongst other products.
It now appears that the daily use of all ten products was misguided. SOKO Glam, one of the brands credited with bringing Korean skincare to an American audience, now re-iterates that this routine is “not about having more products than you can count.” Nonetheless, the trend undoubtedly promoted overbuying in the desperate hope of finding a solution.
Some may argue that makeup influencers promote an unachievable standard of beauty, and those who choose to focus on skincare are instead destigmatising ‘au naturel.’ Whilst a minority, the glass-skin skincare trend is comparably as bad. Glass skin, as the name suggests, is skin which resembles glass. Meaning the skin is crystal-clear and poreless. Totally achievable, right?
This isn’t to say that we haven’t always been thinking about skincare, but rather that our interest has increasingly developed in recent years. TikTok, especially with the prominence of filters reminiscing the 2016 Facetuned era of Instagram, does not help this constant strive for perfection.
Creators click baiting with captions such as “POV: You discovered the root cause of your acne” without revealing the supposed solution is just cruel. Stop capitalising on insecurities and teenagers who are desperate for a solution for their hormonal acne (which is, of course, a natural stage of puberty). Don’t even think about insinuating that CeraVe (skincare produced in partnership with dermatologists) ruins your skin before I scream.
Social media often tries to convince us that there’s a ‘quick fix’ to skin problems. But instead, we should be promoting the reality that it takes much longer to see any results. 2015 lifestyle YouTubers, oversaturating the truth with cheesy copyright-free music, are quite possibly to blame for this. Your homemade avocado face masks did absolutely nothing.
Furthermore, social media encourages a toxic cycle of trying new products in a frequent cycle. The fact of the matter is, if you constantly try new products, you’ll never achieve your best skin. It seems obvious, but your skin takes time to get used to new products. So, if you keep changing your routine, your skin will react badly, or the products just won’t work.
In response to this, dermatologists in the press have been advocating a practice known as ‘skin fasting’. The practice compromises of not using any skincare products for a short period of time before returning to your standard routine. As a result, your skin becomes more reliant on itself to detox and fix problems. It is supposed to strengthen the skin’s natural barrier, which can be stripped of its natural oils by chemicals found in some skincare products.
The fact that this practice has gained attention or even has a name proves we just love an extensive skincare routine, sometimes to a detriment. What happened to cleanse, tone, moisturise?
The aesthetics of skincare products play a big role in their popularity too. Glossier, Mario Badescu – the packaging is at least one of the main attractors. Don’t believe a product will perform miracles just because it looks pretty on your shelf.
In this new economy of skincare overconsumption, skinfluencers hold a responsibility to garner attention towards products which have been proven to work. Their advice and, more commonly than not, their refreshing dose of truth, can be helpful in deciding which products to choose if you’re suffering with your skin. But be warned: watch out for the dreaded “#AD”.
It’s refreshing to see that some brands are adopting a more laid-back approach to skincare. Doré, launched by Garance Doré in May 2022, takes simple, French-inspired beauty routines as its core philosophy for skincare products. The Ordinary allows customers to return products up to 365 days after their purchase, provided they are less than 50% used, a clear demonstration that skincare products are unique to you and your skin.
I am a fan of Vogue’s Beauty Secrets series – an honest insight into the skincare and makeup routines of celebrities. It’s a clear indication that skincare is an individual, and dare I say simple, part of our daily lives. We shouldn’t have to be in the bathroom extensively morning and night.
The truth is: skincare is personal. It’s so easy for influencers or literally anyone to promote a product because it worked for them, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a universal solution for all. We often forget an obvious fact: different people have different skin types.
I just don’t think ten-step regimens, Gua Shas, and expensive serums are the answer to our problems. Educating yourself about the ingredients in products which work for you is the best course of action, rather than solely listening to the advice of someone who’s landed on your feed.
As someone who has suffered from sensitive and acne-prone skin for pretty much my whole life, the age-old question always arises: what do you use on your skin? And let me tell you, it’s none of your business.