The scam

Another boring week of outfits. Nothing really wrong with any of them, but due to not a whole lot going on they’ve been very utilitarian and simple. The weather is warming up again so I went out a fair bit and wanted easy outfits. Bonus photo of Mr. Bento from the week before. One of his favorite spots is in the sunlight coming in from the study window. His stripes are more interesting than any of my outfits from last week. His RBF and pose are also more stylin’.

While browsing a few fashion blogs over the weekend I went down a rabbit hole about beauty culture when I came across The Unpublishable. It’s something I’ve always known in my gut but never really acknowledged in my own everyday routines: there’s no point to skincare. Period. Well, there is of course, but for all the wrong reasons. See any link on that site and you’ll get the idea. This Slate article by the same blogger caught my attention the most. I pride myself on my common sense a lot, but damn, this really made me facepalm in the worst way. I knew all of this inherently, but it’s obvious just how much any and all of us can be affected by toxic beauty culture to conform to biased societal standards. Reading about the science of how our skin works just reinforced my gut feeling that literally no amount of skin creams were ever worth their cost. Ever. Sure acids and retinoids can smooth and resurface and speed up the natural processes of the skin, but are they really necessary? Why put one’s self through the aggravation that comes from using such harsh products to begin with? If you want to really make wrinkles go away or keep yourself looking youthful, going under the knife or adding fillers and having laser work done are the only way – but are those even worth it? Having any of those things done is still pandering to masses’ expectations – particularly the male gaze, sexism, racism, etc…. I could even look to my own body to understand that, but still forked over the cash for creams and retinoids in the name of conformity. Women have been raised to accept this is what we do. As a middle-aged woman this hit me pretty hard. Accepting the wrinkles and lines and aging process can be quite depressing and humbling at the same time.

Despite my misgivings, I’ve always been a proponent of naturalness. I’ve never liked huge amounts of makeup and to be blunt I never learned how to put it on all that well to begin with. During the beginning of the pandemic I was already starting to shift away from makeup. I haven’t worn any in 2 years, save a lip stain. Aside from that lip stain all other makeup has been thrown out. When I stopped wearing it my skin actually got a lot better. It wasn’t bad by any means, but it felt a lot better without makeup. The first few times I had public events I felt a little self conscious, but eventually got over it. However, I was still spending stupid amounts of money on skincare products to make sure that I didn’t need to wear makeup, thinking the more I cared for my skin the better. I’ve been using OTC retinoids for about 6 months now and haven’t seen a lick of a difference. The only time I have has been when I “slugged” but I don’t do that often and realized I just needed to moisturize my skin a bit more.

And that’s really all there is to it. A good moisturizer – preferably an oil that mimics the oils of our own skin – and SPF when necessary.

I threw out several products I knew I didn’t need, but held on to some because this feels like unknown territory that I’m a little fearful of. Even though I know I don’t need them I’m still willing to walk gently into the wading pool of withdrawal from skincare products entirely. In some ways, this feels like a natural progression, so I’m ok with that. I’ll admit, it kinda hurt seeing so much money in the trash, but it’s also a reminder of what I’ll be saving in the future.

Although that didn’t stop my toxic consumerist tendencies from going out and buying some face oils instead. Clearly, I’ve a long ways to go. I bought some rosewater face mist, rose hip and jojoba oils. I don’t know if I can do the whole 28 days of nothing but water skin reset, so again, baby steps. I think I’ll try it in the summer when the air isn’t so dry.

Do you think you can quit skincare? I’m really curious to know if anyone else is a bit of a skin “minimalist” and if you think you could make the jump to nothing.


3 thoughts on “The scam”

  1. I better set aside some time to dive into The Unpublishable. I haven’t read it before. I admit to trying a bunch of different skincare products. But I do it knowing that a lot of it is probably a scam. And I don’t go for really pricey stuff. Once in a while, I come across something that feels like it works for me, but a lot of it is ¯\_(ツ)_/¯


  2. I actually tried to go on a water-and-oil-only routine a few years ago…and found that I couldn’t do it, even though my skincare routine was already pretty basic – I was already water-only in the mornings, and I used only three products in total: soap for cleansing (usually olive oil based), a face cream for hydration, and sunscreen for protection. My problem was that I never felt clean with just water only on most days…maybe I needed a washcloth or something but I felt my face oil/cream could not hydrate my skin properly without a deeper clean. As for face oils, I also felt they did not deliver the level of hydration/balance my skin needed to deal with the environments I lived and worked in (blasting AC, long periods outdoors/year-round humidity), and chemically speaking, face creams just sink into my skin so much more easily….so I caved.

    I went back to my old routine: water only to cleanse in the mornings, followed by face cream and sunscreen. At night, I wash with soap, followed by face cream. I use a chemical exfoliator when I feel like my skin needs it (a BHA acid one, usually once or twice a month), and in winter, sometimes I add oil to the routine (usually jojoba, but am thinking about squalene). My biggest takeaway from the experiment was learning to read my skin and feeling confident about adding or taking away stuff from the routine depending on what was happening. I think I may try to go water + oil only again some day, but I’m feeling a little lazy about going through the “reset” stage again.

    I am thankful I never felt the urge to try anti-ageing or “miracle” formulations, even though my skin is far from flawless – I still have breakouts, occasional patches of dryness/eczema, and my under eye circles are beyond rescue. From a young age, I always felt like the beauty industry made me feel bad about myself and I developed an antipathy towards make-up early! I have definitely fallen for products, and I still sometimes buy stuff like face masks (I love a good clay mask), but by and large I agree with Jessica DeFino – the industry is a scam!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for going into such detail on this! I’ve been reading a bit online and noticed a trend of those who started, but ultimately stopped the more minimalist routine of water + oil. It’s interesting to read accounts of who has benefited from doing so and those who haven’t and wound up going back to a full x-step + products skincare routine.

      I am also a morning water only person. I’ve been water only for the mornings for around a decade now. My skin felt too stripped when I used anything else. I have an oil based cleanser that doesn’t strip at all (Banilla Co) for nighttime but I find I just use some soap most nights these days.

      The whole miracle creams marketing gimmick is definitely a slippery slope to fall into so I’m glad you haven’t and I hope you don’t. It’s really a waste of money. Since I’m creeping up on 50 and my husband is 9 years younger than me I’ve felt a lot more self conscious about not looking too much older than him. I caved and bought several OTC retinoid creams but they do make my skin unhappy, which is why I won’t go to the dermatologist for the heavy-hitting stuff. I know my skin just won’t be able to handle it well. It’s a bitter pill to swallow seeing more lines on my face as I get older, but I’m also trying to accept that fate as gracefully as possible.


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