In Defence Of Skincare

 

About a week ago, my wonderful friend Hannah wrote a blog post about her dislike of skincare products. She had actually been asking me for recommendations a month or so before, which led to me writing this blog post and to her going to Boots to drop some sweet pennies on Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish. But she remained unconvinced, and so she wrote a piece about why she thinks the skincare industry is unhealthy and misleading. She argues that skincare is all a marketing ploy, fuelled by advertising and patriarchal standards imposed on women so they will buy products they don’t really need and won’t make a difference to their face. And as a woman, – as a feminist, even – who has long suffered from the insecurities ingrained in her by unrealistic beauty standards, I get it. I started using bead exfoliators aged thirteen, desperately hoping to get the clear skin of my favourite Skins characters (no pun intended), and over time this progressed into a full skincare routine that’s probably the same value as a very small designer purse. And it’s been a long, expensive journey to find the stuff that works for me.

However: I still think skincare is fundamentally good, valid and important to understand. And honestly, I believe it can really help not only your outside but also what’s going on inside your brain too.

Firstly, let’s talk about skincare being a big old beauty myth. It would be so much easier on my wallet if this was the case, however, I think there are millions of people who have found products that genuinely help to tame their problematic skin. Anecdotally, the evidence is vast, let alone the number of academic studies that have been done on skincare and its ingredients. In my case, my skin has struggled with acne, cystic acne and incredible dryness over the course of a decade. Without the products I found to control my oil production, or the moisturisers I discovered that stopped my skin from cracking within minutes of stepping out of my shower, my skin would be in a lot worse condition than it is now. Skincare is formulated, tested multiple times and often has scientific backing as to its effectiveness. Many ingredients have been proven to help certain skin conditions, or have been used for decades in natural remedies to ease certain skin issues. Whilst there are definitely some products that aren’t as effective, and price tags that don’t reflect the ingredients used, it is difficult to argue that all skincare is simply a dupe on us naive women.

Speaking of which, I don’t contest that there are things you can buy that are marketed as skincare but will likely make your face feel and look worse. Makeup wipes are known for causing irritation, adding unnecessary chemicals and smearing your makeup around your face as opposed to taking it off. Some chemical exfoliators can be very questionable too, and leave skin aggravated and worse off than it was when you started using it. It takes a bit of research, and you have to be a consumer with your eyes open, but the good news is that a ten minute Google will bring up advice on the products that are likely to help your particular issue and steer you away from the things worth avoiding. You don’t have to follow a meticulous six-step routine – in fact, I’d actively avoid doing that – but just finding the right cleanser and moisturiser can make your face noticeably more comfortable and keep acne, dry skin or dullness under control in a low maintenance, sustainable way. Two products! Miracle shit.

Skincare also means a lot more to some people than just clear skin. Many see it as a basic act of self-care; a routine they do twice a day that gives them five minutes to themselves and away from their phone. Even if they don’t see major improvements, the benefits to their mental health and feeling like they’re looking after themselves makes a huge difference to their outlook on their bodies and their brain.

And finally, skincare is so much more than just products. It’s washing your pillowcases regularly; it’s wearing suncream; it’s getting medication to manage the hormonal cysts that develop completely independently of any lotion, potion or pollution that touches your face. Looking after your skin is just like looking after the rest of your body; in the same way that I look after my mental health, or go to the doctor when I’m unwell, I think skincare is just another part of your temple that’s worth maintaining, however big your budget. I’m happy to age naturally – skincare isn’t going to turn back the clock when I’m thirty-five and that’s a-okay by me – but it’s a way to care for what you’ve already got, just like eating your veggies and drinking enough water will help your body in the long run too.

So that’s where I stand on skincare; although I have an arguable bias, with it being my passion and a part of my job, I really do feel that as an aware consumer, the products I use have improved the quality and condition of my skin. Not only that, it makes me feel better to know that I am caring for the biggest organ in my body in the best way I can. I try to protect my skin from bacteria, pollution and sun damage and manage the imbalances that cause soreness, irritation and spots, and if I want to spend a hundred pounds on that then so be it. I hope to empower everyone, no matter their budget, to improve their confidence, mental health and skin health through products that will actually help them. Skincare can enable us to take control over some of the things that cause us the most insecurity and most discomfort, and despite the questionable advertising and occasional inaccurate claim on the box, I think that’s something to be celebrated.

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11 Comments

  1. April 30, 2018 / 6:46 pm

    Couldn’t agree with you more Lucy! Skincare has been a huge part of my self care. Even when my mental health is at the lowest of lows, dragging myself into the bathroom to wash my face makes me feel a little bit better.

  2. Katherine
    April 30, 2018 / 7:17 pm

    I’m someone who used to work in the skin care industry. And suffice it to say, some of it, like Hannah points out in her blog post, is well, bullshit. Companies throw around terms like “natural” and “organic” as if they mean anything, when really they’re fluid marketing terms. Many acne products contain ingredients most commonly known to cause acne.

    The best thing you can do to get clear skin is research. Look up what ingredients work and don’t work. Patch test them. Find out your skin type. Read ingredient labels. It takes work, but it also minimizes the time and allows you to treat your skin care like self care because you know what you’re doing for your skin isn’t hurting you in the long (or the short) run. And what works for one person certainly isn’t going to work for everyone else.

    The bottom line, for me, is that the skin is the largest organ in the body. It deserves the TLC that we treat the rest of our body with. Sometimes that’s going to mean cutting out steps and other times it’s going to mean adding them. Skin changes.

    But clear, healthy, and glowing skin is definitely something to strive for, just like being physically healthy.

  3. Laura
    April 30, 2018 / 9:00 pm

    I love skincare, my skin would be so much worse now than if I didn’t follow a routine. I understand why people are frustrated with certain brands and products that make their skin worse. For instance, foaming cleaners are targeted at those with oily/acne prone skin, which is probably the worst type of cleanser to use. I think that educating yourself on formulation and ingredients is a great way of avoiding that. Skincare has made me so much more confident and has helped me massively, I think you just need to know where to look and what products are bad for your skin (wipes). Caroline Hirons is an amazing skin care expert who knows her stuff! Would highly recommend giving her blog a read.

  4. Jane Norton
    May 1, 2018 / 12:33 pm

    You are so right!

  5. Vera
    May 1, 2018 / 2:13 pm

    I never wear make-up and I dont do anything for my skin except wash it from time to time. I did have spots, which have decreased immensely since once using cream from the apothecary and after that maintaining a healthy sleeping pattern and drinking enough have kept the spots (mostly) away. To me skin care is not essential. The one time I tried it my skin started to get itchy, like my skin was not happy with any help to take care of itself which it did not need.
    I realise that I am lucky with my skin and I guess this wont work for everyone.
    So I guess my perspective of it is that you should only interfere with your skin when necessary. My skin does not need it (anymore) so I dont put anything on it. When it does get bad I’ll try and help it along. Drinking and sleeping well helps a lot as well.

  6. Mariely
    May 1, 2018 / 4:05 pm

    I try to use natural ingredients for my routine. I use black soap to cleanse, a toner and shea butter as moisturizer. Once a week, I use Aztec’s clay mask

  7. May 2, 2018 / 12:09 pm

    This is such a great post. I love that you mention that skin care is more than just taking care of your skin and it doesn’t have to be about using expensive products and doing a whole routine. I love the few minutes that it gives me in the morning to take care of myself before I start my day and feel like I’m doing something good for my body. It gives me a chance to reconnect with myself when my anxiety is ramping up before I go to work.

    https://www.reallifewander.com/blog/2018/2/7/my-favorite-zero-waste-products

  8. May 3, 2018 / 10:31 am

    I completely agree, you can’t say it that skincare doesn’t work because things have worked for other people it just takes a long ass time to find products that work for you!!! I can see where Hannah is coming from, I think certain brands are scamming us into believing that we absolutely need their product to look like the models in their advertisement who already spend $$$ on facial and treatment every week.
    Anywho great post!!!!!

  9. John Latten
    May 6, 2018 / 7:14 pm

    I think skin care products definitely work, but if a person is suffering from acne, rosacea, scarring etc their best bet is probably to see a dermatologist.

    That way they would be told exactly what skin condition they are suffering from and their doctor could prescribe them something that actually works.

    I guess this would avoid a lot of the stabbing in the dark with products out there that may or may not work as well.

    A mate of mine had horrendous acne when we were in school and he went to see his dermatologist and his doctor prescribed him a skin care product that totally cleared his skin within three months.

  10. turveydrop
    May 8, 2018 / 9:40 pm

    Just a quick comment on the format of your blog. I think the content is great, but the column width is a touch too wide to comfortably read on a computer screen. I think it could read better with 12 words per line, max 15. Otherwise it just makes for tired eyes! Rant over, keep up the good work!

  11. May 9, 2018 / 11:20 pm

    I totally agree that skincare is very important but I’d say I have a love hate relationship with it. I’ve done medication on medication, saw a really expensive dermatologist for 10 years, I even tried a clinical trial of one particular medication that made me pass out in the shower 10 days in. While my skin has gotten better with age, I still get cystic acne all the time and no matter how much money I dump into my routine I can’t find something that works or me. That being said, I’ve found some masks and creams that really help in particularly bad break out moments, I just can’t seem to nail down that basic routine that works week by week. Having a few products that work keeps my hopes up but I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I eventually stumble upon an affordable option to keep my cystic acne at bay for longer periods of time.

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