By Layla Ahmad
When sitting down to write this piece I started by taking stock of my own beauty choices. Had anything changed for me recently? Sure I still go for regular glycolic peels, hydraulic facials, and was up for having my own blood sucked out of my face and smeared back on in the form of a Vampire facial, but when it came to my own skincare routine, something was a-changin’.
I used to get mildly confused looks when I would lovingly detail my skin routine. I would list out my products the way some people (I assume), talk about their children, naming each one, and giving instructions for each time consuming step that could rival Patrick Bateman’s. Light grain exfoliants on days when I had sensitive skin, (thanks Tatcha), liquid acid exfoliant for when I was feeling brave. Facial massaging devices, a rainbow of masks, multiple serums, oils, lip masks, toners, micellar water, retinol, acids, under-eye cream, and whether it was plumping, caffeine, or brightening depended on the day, as well as drying spot cream if I had (God forbid), acne. All secured safely under the watchful eye of a heavy duty concrete-like night cream. Combined with the necessary probiotics, supplements and a never-ending stream of hydration, I was riding on a high horse. And this was just my night routine. In the morning, even I didn’t know what my face would demand! I was putty in my own hands.
Every time I read about a new product on a popular beauty blog or saw something on Instagram, chances are I would mindlessly tack it on, adding it to my already gloopy skincare routine. Things rapidly spun out of hand until I couldn’t even keep track of what I was using, and my skin became something akin to a Jackson Pollock painting.
Eventually I went to my aesthetician, complaining of clogged pores and general skin malaise. She promptly laughed in my face when I tried to tell her my genius self-curated skincare routine. Then she asked me if I thought I was 80 years old.
Cut to today. Let’s just say, I can see a lot more of my bathroom counter. Sadly, I have purged a few of my beloved bottles, jars, droppers and creams for my own good. My #shelfie may not be as bursting at the seams as it once was, but, shocker, my skin has improved. I’ve weaned myself off a lot of unnecessary products, and unsubscribed from many cosmetic product drop blasts. This was difficult, as I both dabble in beauty for work and am obviously addicted to buying skincare products. I’ve cut myself down to a cleanser, an exfoliant once or twice a week, one serum, (not 287 like I was previously using), moisturizer, and an SPF to keep me protected in the burning Toronto sun. I still obsess over the newest products, however I actually do the “werk” to see if it’s right for my skin, before adding it to my new more minimized all star skin line up. Although I still own over fourteen highlighters because they don’t count as skincare and you can pry them from my cold, dead, glowing, hands.
Because we are constantly being told and led to believe that every actor, pop star, and big name dermatologist guru has a fifty-step skincare routine, us consumers feel the need to constantly fill our gaping maws with every Vitamin C serum, jade rollers, or bubble mask, (yes that was a thing – remember?) In reality, they are famous – and have much more time to wallow over their famous poreless faces.
Using a ten-step (if using the traditional Korean method) skin-care routine, can sometimes be non-effective if you don’t do the correct research for your skin type beforehand. You may even end up making your skin worse. Open Instagram, and you will be instantly inundated with neon posts alluringly shaming you for not owning Kylie Skin’s walnut scrub, forget the fact that everyone knows walnut scrub is an abhorrent facial product. With social media having made everyone a supposed gateway to knowledge, anyone can push their own brand of “glow-up.” Trends may come and go in the beauty world, but it’s always important to stay aware of what works for you.
With so many options to choose from, some consumers have reported become overwhelmed with multistep skin routines, and wish to harken back to the days of using solely the simple Dove bar. I am never one to throw the baby out with the bathwater, so I see no reason why you cannot balance both. Do as I say, not as I do. Do not burn your face with retinol by going out in the sun without a hat after using retinol for a week straight, (as I did), however, do do your research before going all in on a massive multi step skin care production – do the research, talk to your friends, go read some blogs, even go on Reddit. You will save yourself countless dollars, tears, and hours of yelling at your pimples in the mirror. And in the end, you will have a #shelfie that is much more multicolored and varied, and isn’t that what really matters anyway?