For the longest time, I was very much your 10-step-routine, every-skincare-trend-ever kind of gal. The thing is, my skin was fine, save for the occasional spot due to the monthly releasing of an ovum. Despite this elaborate routine, my skin wasn’t very different to when I was a teen and would scrub my skin to oblivion and didn’t know what moisturiser was.
Then, a year ago, I saw a dermatologist for an article, who prescribed me a routine that was made up of much cheaper and far fewer products. I stuck with it, and it worked better than my huge collection of carefully curated serums and tonics. A year later, it still works. Despite not using any sheet masks, clay masks, or expensive serums, my skin still looks great a year later — except for the few inevitable hormonal spots.
You know the phrase “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”? Why don’t we ever apply that to our bodies — especially our skin? And why are we under the impression that our skin is perpetually “flawed” and needs remedies? Why don’t we, collectively, accept the radical idea that maybe we get spots for a reason and we don’t need to spend hundreds on trying to fix something that is actually just our bodies functioning normally?
Women, the main target audiences and consumers of skincare, are made to believe that if we spend a little more time researching, or a little more money on another product, we will find the perfect combination to unlock the higher level of existence known as “clear skin”. But it doesn’t exist! It’s a lie! Meanwhile, skincare targeted towards men is usually a £6 charcoal face wash aggressively labelled “FOR MEN”, and yet it serves skin no less or more “flawed” than anyone else’s.
It’s exactly this line of thinking that caused me to succumb and buy myself a vitamin C serum. I read so many articles claiming that this is it, this is what my routine was missing: vitamin C, the secret ingredient! Upon reflection, I have no idea what I was actually expecting. I could not really imagine what an improvement would look like; I just assumed there was some improvement to be made.
Somehow we all seem to operate on the idea that skin can look like something other than skin, as if we can get rid of the pores that are integral to it, or disguise the fact that it is something that is in constant motion, stretched and creased into wrinkles. Still, I bought the vitamin C serum and put it on my face tentatively one morning. My face felt warm at first, just a little stinging sensation. Ah, good, I thought, pain means it’s working. Twenty minutes later I saw my reflection — my skin was bright pink and hot to the touch. I have no idea what vitamin C is even meant to do, but I am pretty sure this wasn’t it. I immediately washed the serum off and thankfully my skin returned to its normal, sallow self.
Our hormones, organs, and entire bodies are in a constant state of flux and every part of us reflects that — spots serve a function. Sometimes they can be a sign of malfunction — of hormonal imbalances or other issues — but a single spot, or several, or a little bit of dryness, or anything that isn’t actually disrupting your life, is not a cause for concern.
Here’s the thing: If your skin is generally fine, leave it alone. A spot or two is not a problem. You do not need to spend £50 on a new face mask. It will not fix you. There is no product that will give you clear skin forever, because that is not how organs work. Skincare products are fun, and if you enjoy them (like I do), go ahead. But if you feel exhausted by it all, if the idea of creating a “skincare routine” seems like a chore you have to force yourself to do, please remember: You don’t have to do it at all. Although you should still wear SPF every day (I might not buy expensive face masks anymore, but I’m not a heathen).