What We *Really* Need To Do About “The Skincare Con”


Photo by Alexandra Folino.

Earlier this week, I — as well as many of you — read an interesting op-ed piece from The Outline titled “The Skincare Con.” Whereas I urge people to understand that this piece is indeed an op-ed, and that’s why many of the points are drastic and show a great deal of bias, the article brings up a lot of interesting points. Naturally, I have opinions.


For starters, this article really sheds light on the fact that skin care companies and professionals really need to educate the public about the right and wrong practices with skin care. As the skin care and beauty industry continues to expand, it’s important that people understand why they can’t use a physical exfoliant, chemical exfoliant and retinol in one go (hint: it will tear your skin tf up). We have to think of skin care similarly to how we think of medicine. You wouldn’t start using a bottled prescription, or even a bottle of Nyquil for that matter, without reading the directions, side effects, and precautions first. Why? Because it would be incredibly dangerous to guzzle a bottle of wine before taking a full dose of Nyquil. The same goes for skin care. Products like acids and retinols — the stuff that’s insanely popular right now — are intense and require knowledge before use. So before you get freaked out about the horror stories featured in “The Skincare Con,” maybe consider whether the problem lies with the products or how we’re using them.


Second, I do have to command this article in pointing out the blatant problem with the skin care industry: pricing. It’s ridiculous that companies buy up product at a low-cost, slap their label on it, throw in some essential oils, and then sell it to consumers for upwards of $100. I’m a firm believer in doing your research before investing in skin care — especially if you can find something just as effective and just as well made as something three times the cost.


But finally, this article does make me want to share my personal journey. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that one of my favorite things in the world is skin care. There’s something about the science behind skin care ingredients that fascinates me. That’s why I post a lot about skin care on my blog and podcast. But if you’ve been reading the blog recently, you may have noticed that I haven’t posted about skin care in the past 6 or so months. There’s a reason why. As hard as it is to say, I’ve had some MAJOR skin issues ever since moving to New York. It started out with flaky skin and irritation, and over the past two years, it’s moved into dangerous hormonal acne territory. At the end of 2017, I thought I could solve everything by using Differin, a prescription strength Retinol used for acne. But as I learned the hard way, not all skin is the same. My sensitive skin reacted in extreme ways to the retinol. Because of this, I completely revamped my skin care routine. I stopped using everything I deemed extra, including the Differin. I simplified everything down to the following routine: At night, I wash my face with VaniCream Gentle Face Cleanser and apply the VaniCream Skin Cream. In the mornings, I use a very gentle cleanser from La Roche Posay that came highly recommended from my derm. I follow this up with my VaniCream and a skin oil from Pai. That’s it. As well, after a lot of consideration, I decided to take my issues to a dermatologist. I explained the entire story to her: my struggles with sensitivity, my increasingly bad acne, and my self-prescribed Differin situation. The derm informed me that I had early signs of rosacea (which could be the explanation for my extreme skin sensitivity). She also confirmed that I have adult hormonal acne. But instead of reaching for a retinol, she put me on prescription medication tailored to sensitive skin, and she encouraged me to continue my use of VaniCream for my irritation.


The lesson from this story — besides me wanting to be completely transparent about my skin issues — is that we really need to stop self operating. If you’re sick, you go to a doctor. If your tooth chips, you go to a dentist. So why do we, as a general public, think that we don’t need to seek professional help when we have skin issues? It’s something that I’ve grappled with for the past six months. I often ask myself why I felt too proud to go to a derm or seek out advice? The truth is, I was scared of being judged. And, I fell victim to the “one expensive product fixes all” mentality of the skin care industry. I understand that going to a derm is expensive, but considering the price of skin care and the severe repercussions incorrect usage can have, it’s worth the trip.


So there it is. There are my opinions and the full story of my skin. I’ve bared my soul. Questions? Comments? Leave ‘em in the comments below.

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