Skincare isn’t my career, but I am inclined to write in defense of it after reading an article from The Outline, an opinion piece that labeled the skincare industry a total sham.
“Those with disposable income would… buy books or art or beautiful shoes… than another useless exfoliant.”
That statement, straight from The Outline article, begs the question: since when is an elaborate skincare routine and the desire for cultural advancement mutually exclusive?
Citing a newsletter—even if it’s from Harvard Medical School—isn’t the most efficient way of supporting an argument. Choosing to include that “routine skin care is a realm where there’s little science to be found” is laughable at best, especially since there’s a whole branch in medicine dedicated to skin. (You’re citing dermatologists throughout your essay, Krithika.)
Without cherry-picking sentences, your chosen article from the Indian Journal of Dermatology doesn’t actually deny the benefits of moisturizers, it goes as far as describing several types of moisturizers and their mechanisms of actions. It also concludes finding the right moisturizer requires trial and error, while detailing how future treatments can be tailored to specific skin needs, which goes against the whole premise of The Outline article. Yes, there’s a lot of products out there, but it’s basic knowledge that not all skin is made equal (genetics, as you kept saying) and science-backed skincare understands this premise. This is not to say some products on the market aren’t a sham, but labeling the whole field as nothing more than smoke and mirrors does nothing but invalidate individuals who have sought solutions to deal with their skin issues.
Skincare is a saturated market surrounded by clouds of misinformation, but let’s not throw around the evolution card. Evolution shaped and formed our skin to ensure maximal protection from external stressors, while maintaining optimal internal balance of moisture and lipids, but it stopped short of eliminating adult acne. Thankfully, we have skincare for that. And lots of it.
There’s no argument when it comes to consumer misinformation or lack of education (in reference to your example of over-using chemical exfoliants), but stating that we’ve lost our minds because a few of us like to layer serum or two is simply rude. Besides, have you never heard of Cleopatra and her opulent milk and honey baths? Skincare has been evolving with us this whole time.