The first time I went onto The Ordinary website, I felt like I was back in high school Chemistry. Niacinamide, granactive retinoid, ascorbyl glucoside, hyaluronic acid…every inch of me was screaming about how wrong it was to put any form of acid anywhere near my face. But that was what the skincare TikTokers had told me to buy, so into the basket it went.
Over the last few years, everyday skincare routines have dominated social media. However, no platform has been the driving force behind this craze more than TikTok; with more than 9.1 billion video plays under #skincareroutine alone, the video-sharing app has allowed both dermatologists and skincare experts, and normal people with common skin conditions, to share their tips and hacks.
The influx of people suddenly sharing their advice for relatable skincare issues like severe acne, oily skin, and chronic eczema has changed the face of skincare. Those that previously had a skincare routine went from being called “neurotic” and “weird” to hailed as an actual God, while those that don’t have a step-by-step guide on how to properly wash their face are now behind the times. Skincare isn’t just a face wash and moisturizer anymore — there are new players in the game.
At 23 years old, I consider myself a zillenial — falling right bang smack in the middle of the two generations. I’m young enough to have swapped facial wipes for micellar water, but old enough to still be choosing a moisturizer based on how cheap it is, not how much sun protection it provides.
The thing is, my skincare was never bad, it was just never a skincare routine. After suffering from chronic eczema my whole life, I’ve always stayed far away from perfumed products; however, according to TikTok, that was the least offensive sin I was committing in the name of skincare.
Four words. St Ives Peach Scrub. This scrub was a staple in every zillenial’s bathroom after beauty influencers on Youtube told us it was the only thing guaranteed to make our faces smooth. But according to skincare TikTokers, it’s one of the most abrasive and irritating products for your skin. In fact, they’ve vetoed scrubs completely — I have never felt so much shame when I had to throw this thing out.
SPF. Otherwise known as sunscreen or sunblock. Whatever you call it, I wasn’t wearing any. Don’t get me wrong, I always wear sunscreen on holiday, but I live in one of the rainiest and cloudiest countries in the world. Why would you ever need SPF in England?
Skincare TikTokers on the other hand have since convinced me that your skin should be protected against the sun in every country you’re in, and is the best way to avoid wrinkles when you’re older. As a result, I now have a fancy pants moisturizer with SPF 50 in. ¡Viva Inglaterra!
My moisturizer, or should I say, my nighttime moisturizer. Skincare TikTok told me that I shouldn’t have just one cream for my face, but two. Before TikTok, my day cream was my night cream, and most nights I would slather my face with my thick eczema moisturizer to the point that I could literally feel my pores clogging up. But suddenly I was ordering myself a separate cream for when I went to sleep.
As much as I understand the logic behind using a slightly thicker moisturizer for when you go to bed so your skin can regenerate overnight, I still find some of the nighttime skincare routines on TikTok incredibly long-winded. Who honestly has the time to do all of this? I’ve got a Netflix show to watch while I play on my phone, and impossible imaginary scenarios to make up in my head!
Only true zillennials will remember the Pixi Toner. When this first came out, the world practically imploded. Much like the banished peach scrub, the Pixi Glow Tonic was made popular by the likes of Zoella and Tanya Burr, back in the heyday of true Youtube culture. It was the first skincare purchase I made that was over £20, and my god didn’t it burn, but that was nothing compared to how I felt like a total beauty influencer when I used it. These days, I’ve swapped my toner with a cleanser instead, after also washing my face with one as well — that’s right, apparently we’re double cleansing now.
The last skincare sin TikTok shamed me for (but which I’m still blissfully committing) is eye cream. Skincare TikTokers suggest that you should also add an eye cream to your skincare routine. But I still don’t fully buy into this since despite how much water I drink, how much sleep I get, and how much Vaseline I put under my eyes to try and stop them, the bags keep appearing. I guess I should have listened to Smash Mouth when they said, the years start coming and they don’t stop coming.
When they said Bags For Life I didn’t think they meant under my eyes
— tilly (taylor’s version) (@tilly_brogan) March 7, 2019
This new era of the perfect skincare routine is led mostly by Gen Z. While the dermatologists and skincare experts are usually a lot older, it’s the everyday TikToker still in High School who is experimenting with these acids, serums, and peeling masks; I dread to know what they would think of 16-year-old Tilly coming home drunk after a house party and violently scrubbing her red lipstick off with a mangled old face wipe before passing out with half a face of makeup still on.
Yet if I’m being completely honest, my skin has improved since I’ve adopted a TikTok skincare routine — and there are some simple skincare routines out there. As happy as I am that I’m finally using products that don’t feel like they’re burning off a whole layer of my skin, I still don’t have the time, economic resources, nor inclination to do a 16 step skincare routine like most of Gen Z. And retinol? That can quite frankly fuck off.
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