A few months ago, a controversial story called “The Skincare Con” from The Outline made the rounds online. In it, the writer argued that skin-care products are a waste of money and that humans survived for centuries without them, so why do we need them now? The story stoked a fiery debate, with skin-care lovers around the Internet jumping to the defense of their beloved cleansing oils and ampoules.
I won’t dignify the story with too lengthy a rundown. But in a nutshell, the writer claimed that there’s little science behind skin care (not true), that it must be a scam because people who practice it sometimes get pimples (whaa?), and that it’s a worthless pursuit because you’ll never achieve the “perfect” skin you’ve been promised (um, OK). Needless to say, I have a lot of issues with this argument.
The writer not only overlooked decades of research and solid science but also managed to miss the point of why so many of us love skin care in the first place. When I’m patting in my Tatcha The Essence and Sulwhasoo First Care serum at night, I’m not desperately seeking “perfect” skin. I’m happily working toward better.
Don’t get me wrong: I understand that there are snake oil salesmen who walk among us. And it can be difficult for the average consumer to wade through the hype to find what’s truly helpful for their particular complexion. It’s one of the reasons we devoted this issue to all things related to skin. But remember: Your skin is the largest organ of your body. Caring for its health and appearance is not a worthless pursuit.
Skin care protects us from the sun’s carcinogenic rays. It washes dirt and makeup from our pores. It treats painful cystic acne. And at the end of the day, skin care is a form of self-care. I love the little luxury of a sheet mask on a Sunday afternoon. It’s a two-dollar, 20-minute spa in a peel-open packet that lets me lie back and soak it all in, literally and figuratively.
So whether you’re a sunscreen-and-go type of person or a 10-step K-beauty enthusiast, go ahead and foam, slather, and mist without guilt. I know I will.
9 Skin-Care Products I’m Loving Right Now
Peter Thomas Roth Un-Wrinkle Peel Pads ($58): I now skip scrubs thanks to these pads, with exfoliating hydroxy and amino acids.
The Art:Cell Aurora Pearl Mask ($3.95): This Korean brightening sheet mask goes beyond hydrating and gives me a pearlescent glow.
Mario Badescu Facial Spray With Aloe, Chamomile and Lavender ($7): A generous spritz of this soothing floral mist refreshes dull, worked-all-day skin.
Shiseido Benefiance WrinkleResist24 Pure Retinol Express Smoothing Eye Mask ($65): An Allure Best of Beauty winner, yes. A major splurge, yes. Totally worth it, absolutely.
Dr. Sturm Hyaluronic Serum ($300): Made with long- and short-chain hyaluronic molecules for maximum hydration.
Augustinus Bader The Cream ($265): I was skeptical at first but this cult-favorite cream from a stem-cell researcher is pretty fabulous.
Tatcha Camellia Cleansing Oil ($48): Gently washes away all my makeup, even waterproof mascara. And there’s no annoying fragrance.
Revive Perfectif Dark Spot Corrector with SPF 30 ($275): This multi-hyphenate packs a major punch…and leaves a radiant finish under makeup.
M61 Hydroboost Eye Serum ($72): I get raccoon eyes by midday because most creams make my eyeliner and mascara run. This clear eye serum absorbs right away and averts the smudge.
More on counterfeit beauty and skin-care myths:
100 Years of Skincare