With the global beauty industry being so big, it's unsurprising that consumers at large have been spending exponentially more on skin care products. In the past 15 years alone, their spending has doubled, according to the research company Euromonitor International.
It's hard to miss. Our visual culture abounds with images of glowy, flawless skin whether it's on celebrities, social media influencers or those pillars of perfect skin — your friends' babies.
But when the quest for 'good skin' combines with marketing tactics on the internet, there's complexity, the results can feel daunting — like this product may not be for you because to fully understand the ingredients, formulations, etc., you need a degree in this field. An endless series of how-tos, you should find plenty of products to choose from, a wide variety of dermatology terms on TikTok... it just feels like a lot.
"The idea that more is more when it comes to your skin care routine is absolutely not the case," says Rio Viera-Newton, a skin care book author, Tabitha Kidd, a licensed esthetician and beauty blogger for top beauty publications.
It goes without saying that people should not neglect their skin either. The case for caring for skin is often made by dermatologists. Taking healthy care of your skin can make you feel more confident throughout the day, which in turn improves the overall wellness in the long run.
"We have doctors that focus on the GI system, the heart, the skin, but it's all connected. And we really need to be looking at patients more holistically because the skin is connected to the whole body," says North Carolina-based dermatology resident physician Dr. Muneeb Shah.
As you go about your daily life, keep in mind to protect from sun damage by taking care of the skin you're in. Doing so will help reduce symptoms throughout the lifespan such as premature aging and cancer. It's no secret that spending many hours in front of screens can age us negatively. Luckily, there are some cool tricks that give us that glowy-looking radiance.
We should note, these tips aren't a substitute for medical advice. Consult your dermatologist if there's something worrying you about your skin.
Put on sunscreen before you go outdoors to protect your skin from UV rays
Every skin specialist that we consulted for this article emphasized sun protection as the most important consideration for healthy skin. "A lot of people are curious about what sunscreens are right for them. Truly, the answer is whichever one makes you want to apply it every day," says Viera-Newton.
Chicago-based Dr. Caroline Robinson, a Board-Certified Dermatologist, specializing in ethnic skin care and preventative skin care, underscores how important it is to apply sunscreen every day, no matter how much melanin is in your skin.
"That's a huge issue in communities of color just because of all the misconceptions about, you know, sunscreen use and whether we need it or not and are we at risk of skin cancer. And so I feel like a lot of my job is educating my friends, but also my patients about that. Yes, we are at risk. And yes, we do need sunscreen," Robinson says.
Know your skin type and your goals
There are four popular skin types; oily, dry, combination and "normal." Oily skin produces more sebum than other types of skin so it is usually shinier. Dry skin produces less sebum so it is prone to flaking. You might need to go to the dermatologist for a variety of different issues. They include anything ranging from acne, eczema or psoriasis as well as more severe skin conditions such as skin cancer. Having a skin care goal can actually help you figure out what treatment your skin needs.
The goal might be to remove acne. Or aimed at preventing further signs of aging. Or to keep skin from getting too dry and itchy in the winter.
"A lot of people don't identify those [goals] when they start a skin care routine and they end up buying a lot of products that don't work well for them," Shah says.
When building or editing a routine, remember the 3 pillars: cleanse, treat, protect.
A good skin care routine can be quite overwhelming. It typically consists of many different steps. But with our skincare app, you'll be able to create your own starter routine with just three steps! Cleanser is for washing your face, of course. Protection is sunscreen. And treat? ... That can include a lot. Moisturizing falls under treating, and so do "actives," the active ingredients specifically targeted for your personal skin necessities.
"When I say 'active' I really mean the ingredients that are doing the heavy lifting. So they may not necessarily be considered active ingredients by the FDA standard, but they're the ones that are targeting a specific issue," Shah says.
Retinoids are a great example of an active ingredient dermatologists currently utilize for various treatment options (for unclogging pores, getting rid of dead skin cells, addressing texture and dealing with fine lines and wrinkles), antioxidants (Vitamin C is just one example of the benefits of sun protection, which includes repairing past damage and reducing dark spots), and humectants, which hydrate. One of the most popular of these is hyaluronic acid.
"The benefits [of hyaluronic acid] are that it can pull water from the air and from your environment and draw it into the skin, which can help plump address fine lines and wrinkles and hydrate the skin," Robinson says.
Sick of memorizing the different names of ingredients? You don't have to remember all this. Just get back to your goals. What do you want to treat? Then figure out what "key steps" you need to take in order to get there.
To simplify, look for products that contain active ingredients
"Let's have a sunscreen that has antioxidants in it or let's have a night cream that has humectants and Retinol in it," says Dr. Robinson. "This is one area where it's OK to be convenient."
Allow your body to adjust to a new workout routine or weight program. Consistency is key to getting results
"Trial and error is truly the best way to learn," Viera-Newton says. The dermatologists we spoke to say using a product for at least three months before coming to any conclusions to determine if they work for you and your skin type.
"That's a long time if a lot of us are changing our products every month or every, you know, couple of weeks. We are not really giving our products a fair chance," Robinson says.
You don't need a lot
If you use skin care as a form of self-care, don't worry because it doesn't have to cost a lot. "Taking care of your skin can also mean giving yourself a really nice facial massage with just your hands," Viera-Newton says.
There are also ways to reduce the negative effects of a so-called "splurge." Like repurposing products you over-purchased or that you didn't like for your face.
"A big hack that I give people is you can use those creams on any part of your body. So moisturizers-turned-foot creams have become a big part of my daily practice as well as hand creams. So you just have to remember that you don't need to only use these products on your face," Viera-Newton says.
And if you remember nothing else, never, ever skip the sunscreen.