We’ve all heard the skincare horror stories of the past, when stinging chemical peels and harsh apricot scrubs were part of nearly every woman’s skincare repertoire. It’s comforting to see that we’ve come such a long way from mindlessly rubbing something on our faces and crossing our fingers for luck. This skincare revolution of sorts is a by-product of consumers finally paying attention to the ingredient labels of the products they put on their faces, which initially began with a lot of people’s self-care habits manifesting as skincare routines. With the advent of skincare becoming a core part of nighttime rituals, and popular publications such as Harper’s Bazaar running a ‘Go To Bed With Me’ series showcasing the nighttime skincare routines of various celebrities, people are finally learning and beginning to care about what products and tools they’re investing their time, money, and skin in. Often used as a way to wind down before bed, these routines have fast become an everyday ritual for many people, leading them to look a bit more closely at the skincare products they’re using. And thus, the ingredient label was discovered.

Yancy Lael, an educator, self-taught herbal healer, and author of Soulful Skincare: The Ultimate Guide of Radically Transforming Your Complexion, says, “Don’t rely on labels to give you the information you need. Trust only the ingredient list and your gut.”.

As consumers, it’s our responsibility to take a closer look at what we slap onto our skin the same way we obsess over the food we ingest into our bodies. However, what’s been happening is that we’re spending copious amounts of money on products marketed to benefit us, when in reality they often don’t produce the promised results. In a way, skincare has been viewed more as a religion than a science, with people turning to big companies with blind faith, assuming that these corporations are always 100% transparent. In recent times, however, the rise of YouTube skin gurus, such as Susan YaraHyram , and Beauty Within, as well as celebrities and dermatologists talking about specific ingredients in their products, has opened up a conversation around the importance of skincare and the relationship it has with majority of the consumers in the skincare industry. With the beauty industry being valued at $532 billion and still growing, it is clearly a conversation that has spread globally. However, with so much traction, you would think more people would be outing brands that are overpriced for their generic ingredients, or exploiting their customers’ belief in their brand name and reputation.

The main reason why this becomes a grey-area topic is because skincare needs are so specific to each individual. It’s hard to pinpoint what exactly may be overpriced if a product has 10 good reviews and 10 bad ones. Skin type is a major part of the success behind a product. If a super expensive brand markets its toner as suitable for sensitive skin, as opposed to a drugstore brand that contains the same ingredients but is incorrectly marketed, the more expensive product will likely be more widely purchased and receive better reviews than the drugstore one, which would work just as well but stack up more negative reviews because it would be used by consumers having skin types other than sensitive. If people payed more attention to ingredient labels, they could save themselves a lot of money and not be fooled by the system.

The popularization of skincare brands like The Ordinary and Drunk Elephant – which are on a mission to provide consumers with higher quality, transparent, ingredient-specific products – coupled with skincare knowledge being more easily accessible thanks to dermatologists and professional skincare gurus, empowers us to embrace the options and education newly available to us, and to work towards taking off the blindfolds and breaking down the barriers that prevent us from understanding what’s in our products.

In a lot of ways, skincare is tied to self-care, and sometimes to medical care. It’s important that the money we invest in it leads to guaranteed results. In such an over-saturated market, hundreds of different products are marketed as solutions to each skin-related issue. As consumers, we need to beat the system to find exactly what we’re looking for.

  • Sahar Arshad

    A writer, journalist and editor, Sahar is on a mission to write words that’ll make you stop and smell the (metaphorical) fires of the world. A life long Gryffindor and avid murder mystery reader/watcher, Sahar is fascinated by science, literature, history and how they interlink with each other.