Hi, my name is Maria and I used to be a skincare junkie. I am a proud skincare minimalist today, but the journey took me a few years, violent skin reactions and a few thousand dollars. Ouch.
Now my skin is good enough to skip foundation on most days and the total monetary worth of my skincare shelf under $100 (with the most expensive item being sunscreen). I still believe that there is nothing wrong with loving skincare and indulging in products and rituals. Even in spending lots of money on it - as long as it gives you joy and skin results you are happy with.
Sometimes though a skincare hobby can propel a vicious circle: you use too many products ending up irritating rather than helping your skin -> your traumatized skin reacts with some visible trouble like dryness or breakouts -> you are traumatized in return by the fact all this effort and money you spend on skincare don’t bring the results -> you become vulnerable for advertisement of a new miracle product that can fix it all (or a handful of those) -> bringing you back to square 0. Just poorer than in the last cycle iteration.
If you ever find yourself in this loop, I hope my experience could help. Below I have put together a New Year Resolution I wish I had adopted a few years back for the sake of my skin and wallet.
So, here it is: New Year’s Resolution of a Skincare Junkie.
1. Become a skintellectual. Take each skincare label, product description, commercial or an influencer review as a challenge to your critical thinking. Ask at least one or two critical questions to the product claims. Are these glorifying descriptions of miraculous plant extracts fake news? Can you trust the source of the information? Does a claim actually mean anything? (E.g. cruelty-free labels in the EU are meaningless because all cosmetics & cosmetic ingredients can’t be tested on animals; “free of nasties”, “all natural”, “inspired by nature”, “clean” are some other empty claims).
2. Before buying a skincare product, look for at least one alternative with the same active ingredients. In many cases, it helps to chase away the marketing spell so you can evaluate the product more rationally. Is it really worth the money? Is it better than the alternatives?
3. Start thinking of your skincare routine in ingredients, not in products. No one “needs” a cream, serum or a mist. You skin might benefit from a moisturization support that can come from glycerin though. Glycerin can be in a mist. Or a mask. Or a cream. The format it comes in is just a matter of taste and convenience. No one’s secret to a good skin is an essence/serum/cream. Or dozen of skincare steps. It’s always an active ingredient (plus genetics & lifestyle, of course).
4. Check the full ingredient list of skincare products. Yes, I really mean the full boring long and sometimes slightly scary list of ingredients hidden in the most inconvenient corner on the back of the product packaging. You need to be aware of what you are putting on your skin - in all the details. Unfortunately, you can’t trust labels. There are multiple examples of products labelled for sensitive skin containing the most common irritants, or “unscented” products full of fragrant essential oils, or products with advertised active ingredients present at the very bottom of the ingredient list indicating that their concentration is likely below 0.001%. Good news is that there are websites to make the inspection of the ingredient list less of a pain. Let me know if you need a recommendation for a good one:).
5. Use sunscreen. Daily. Just do it.
Make these five strategies a habit and you will notice that your resilience against empty marketing starting to grow. Your skincare purchases will become more rational, your skincare shelf more organized, and you might even end up packing that air travel liquids bag with less of a head- and heartache. Most importantly, this approach will help you select better products - and your skin will thank you in the new year with beautiful glow!