When I was in high school, my skincare routine was just water and sunscreen. Now, I cannot sleep unless I do an eight-step routine at a minimum. An embarrassing amount of my money goes to practically any new product that claims it’ll make me look like a dewy goddess.
I am not alone. According to The NPD Group, a market research firm, skincare is expected to account for 27% of the beauty and personal care market by 2020. Not just that, but sales of products such as exfoliators, essences, and facial sprays increased as well. With the popularization of 10-step routines, along with the rise of beauty influencers on platforms like Instagram and YouTube, multi-step routines have become relatively commonplace.
Taking care of your skin is important, but elaborate routines are not. I can say that the rise of skincare has personally made me terrified of breakouts and minor flaws. And companies know that scared and insecure consumers are easy to profit off of.
When my skin is bad, I feel bad. I can’t help but think that everyone is staring at me when I have breakouts. I know it is ridiculous, considering I never notice anyone else’s breakouts, and people have more important things to do than scrutinize other people’s mild imperfections. But insecurity tends to defy logic.
While insecurity about acne and scarring definitely existed before 2017, people are now more likely to spend money on it, as in 2017, the same NPD study saw skincare sales grow by 9% from 2016. The impulse to fix insecurities with cosmetics is a problem. There was a time when it seemed like the answer to a perceived flaw was to cover it up with makeup — now, with skincare, the answer is buying another serum.
This shouldn’t be the case, but it’s not surprising that it is. Companies want people to buy their products, and telling consumers that they should pair or layer certain products simply encourages them to buy more. In my experience, skincare begets more skincare — my solution to skin problems is to buy more skincare rather than simplify my current routine.
Skincare was initially marketed toward (mostly) women who wanted to embrace their natural beauty rather than wear makeup. But lately, it seems that skincare companies, like makeup companies, rely on making people feel insecure in order to sell their products. As Krithika Varagur of The Outline writes, “When the world is chaos, it makes sense for society to take an introspective turn. But the skincare craze isn’t introspective per se: it’s looking into yourself but stopping at the literal outermost layer.”
“When the world is chaos, it makes sense for society to take an introspective turn. But the skincare craze isn’t introspective per se: it’s looking into yourself but stopping at the literal outermost layer.”Krithika Varagur
The harsh truth is that it’s hard to get flawless skin by only using products you can apply yourself. For example, when someone asked singer Jhene Aiko for her skincare routine, she revealed that she gets Fraxel, an intense laser treatment, every year. Most celebrities or influencers with seemingly perfect skin have it because they get facials and treatments. It’s not just wrong to focus on your perceived flaws — it’s unfair because you’re comparing yourself to models and celebrities who often spend thousands of dollars on their appearance (and however much Facetune costs).
Taking care of your skin is important. However, breakouts or bumps are not emergencies that need to be fixed by companies like Estée Lauder.