An article titled “Skincare Is a Con” was published on TheOutline.com and has since gone viral. Opinions of the piece filled up my Twitter newsfeed all afternoon and pissed off a lot of people off – including myself. This arrogant and cynical writer – who clearly doesn’t know enough about skincare – took it upon herself to not only shit all over the beauty industry but to judge women who choose to treat their faces with moisturizers and glowy serums because apparently, that’s one of the most foolish things you can do. According to this person who practically proclaims herself as “the enlightened one” in all this: Skincare is just a scam. It’s all just a bunch of bullshit and we’re a bunch of brainwashed, insecure morons throwing all our money at it.
I have worked as a beauty and lifestyle writer for almost six years. But if we’re counting all my years of interning and blogging – I’ve technically been doing this work for close to ten years. I’ve interviewed a countless amount of dermatologists, estheticians, beauty chemists – even holistic skincare experts. I’ve tested out more beauty products than the average skincare junkie from fancy brands like La Mer and La Prairie to cost-efficient but effective ones like L’Oreal, Garnier, and Neutrogena. I’ve gotten a number of beauty treatments done over the years. I get at least one professional facial a season and I don’t let a week go by without doing at least one at-home face mask. Oh and did I mention I’ve had a very dedicated skincare regimen since the age of 21? So, I think it’s fair to assume that I know a thing or two about skincare.
With that said, my interest in skincare might be a tad bit more intense than the average person because after all – beauty editorial is part of my job. But to say that “most skincare is really just a waste of money,” and that “those with disposable income would, before we all lose our minds, buy books or art or beautiful shoes or literally anything that gives more pleasure than another useless exfoliant” is not only inaccurate but frankly – quite offensive. I still buy books and I still read. I don’t spend all my time simply obsessing over skincare products. Just saying.
First off, let’s get one thing straight here. Skincare is not a scam and anyone who has spoken to enough dermatologists would know that. It’s also common sense, right? The same way you wash and moisturize the rest of your body – you have to wash, moisturize, and treat your face – which is even more delicate. I have a hard time believing the writer of this post doesn’t use a cleanser to remove dirt, oils, or makeup from her face. Or doesn’t apply moisturizer at least during the winter months. Boy, I hope she’s at least applying sunscreen to her face before leaving the house – because science proves that skin cancer and melanoma are not a scam.
These are real-life skin conditions that can become quite fatal if not caught and treated on time. That is all by the way part of skincare – I must add.
Secondly, to say skincare is a scam is not only ignorant but it’s also a pretty lazy and easy move. Anyone can say something is a scam. But to actually do the research to discover if it’s something that’s actually effective or not is where the actual work lies in. There is actual science to back up a lot of the skincare products we use today. As someone with sensitive, oily skin who occasionally suffers from breakouts – I am proof that skincare actually is effective. In fact, there’s a reason why there’s so much hype around it and that’s because when women try products that actually give them real results – they get hooked. We wouldn’t be “wasting our money” if we didn’t see an actual difference.
The writer referenced a 2016 study in the Indian Journal of Dermatology that found that most women can get away with skipping moisturizer. I have yet to meet that woman and if she does in fact exist – kudos to her. But that doesn’t work for me or any woman I’ve ever come in contact with. Without moisturizer my skin is dry, irritated, and dull AF.
Sure, the amount of skincare products out there and their complex ingredients can be overwhelming but that doesn’t mean they don’t actually work and that also doesn’t mean they all work. I’ve tried skincare products that have irritated my skin, left me red and blotchy – and even broke me out. But I’ve also used skincare products that have drastically transformed my skin. Double cleansing with a oil cleanser followed by a foam cleanser leaves my skin squeaky clean without drying it out. Exfoliating once a week leaves my skin smooth and polished. And vitamin C serums almost instantly brighten my complexion while also banishing any post-acne dark spots. It’s not in my head. I’m not imagining these results. I’ve actually experienced it and I’ve received enough compliments over my skin to know that it’s not all one big “illusion.”
Again, as someone with sensitive skin who occasionally struggles with adult acne, I know that good skin is more than just what you put on the surface, right? What I feed my body plays a huge role in how bright, radiant, and clear my skin looks appears. I’m a big advocate of clean, healthy, and organic eating. I don’t consume dairy, I hardly eat gluten, and I even recently started reducing my meat intake – all of it makes a difference. But skincare also contributes to that difference.
As for all the fancy “retinols, exfoliants, and alpha and beta hydroxyl acids” the writer refers to. Well, she can blame consumers for that and not brands. The same way consumers have become more conscious and knowledgeable about the ingredients they put in their bodies, they’ve also become more conscious and knowledgeable about the ingredients they put on their bodies. We demand better ingredients, better scientific technology – and products that actually show noticeable results. It’s basic supply and demand. We demanded so now brands are supplying.
But what I resent the most about this article is how it suggests that women are all just a bunch of self-obsessed, insecure morons that are willing to spend money on something they know nothing about just because it’s being thrown at them. I’d expect this kind of bullshit, misogynistic judgement from a man but not from a woman. Shame on you for not giving us ladies a bit more credit. We’ve made a lot of progress but we still very much live in a society that’s constantly throwing unrealistic beauty standards on women.
We’re pressured to look “flawless” at all times and yet criticized the second we decide to invest time on ourselves and on building our own self-confidence. We’re told to be fit, have beautiful healthy shiny hair, and radiant clear skin but asked that we don’t spend too much time at the gym, grooming our hair, or dedicating ourself to a skincare regimen. You know, because we’re just supposed to be born looking fabulous without having to lift a finger to get there. Deal with the patriarchy but make sure you look pretty and smile the entire time. Did I mention that the writer only and specifically targets women? At no point does she ever address the grooming or self-care habits of men. See where I’m going with this?
Lastly, my dedicated skincare regimen is for me and me only. I genuinely enjoy taking care of myself. I like the way I feel when I eat good and healthy foods. I like the way I look and feel when I work out regularly and when my skin looks clear and radiant and feels soft and supple. I like being able to leave the house without makeup when my complexion is glowing. I like that I’m a 31-year-old that still gets confused for 21. And while I’m sure my awesome Latin genes and the beautiful melanin in my skin probably plays a big in role in that – there’s no arguing that my healthy lifestyle and my committed skincare regimen has certainly helped. Like it or not – I refuse to apology for any of that. Homegirl can go right ahead and boycott all the moisturizers, sunscreens, and facial cleansers of the world. I’ll still be here with my skincare products – looking and feeling fabulous thank you very much!