• Prabhleen Kaur

"The skincare con" -versation

In this world of liberation and self expression, the nature of beauty is such a conceptualized variable in society, and often evokes perplexing and captivating emotions. With the complexity of it too deep for the naked eye to truly envision, I can firsthand see how beauty is highlighted to many as the objectifiable notion perceived by the eyes, rather than the unprompted feeling brought on by the heart, and brain. To which you may ask, how would I describe beauty? Beauty to me is what is perceived in the heart and mind rather than the eyes. Beauty to me is empathy, and the understanding of meaningful relations shared between friends, lovers and strangers. It is said that where words are restrained, eyes often talk a great deal. The nose as a specimen of aromas, and the mouth is a transporter of ideas and beliefs. While some may get lost in its translation, the beauty of it all is that we have our own perceptions.

In 2018, an article was published - but this article didn’t just stay an article anymore. It ended up sparking deeper conversations allowing people to truly express and discuss their point of views, while questioning an entire concept in society that had never been unraveled like this before. While the author did touch upon certain aspects I agree with, it definitely was not the best representation of all individuals who partake in skin care, but I guess that’s just the beauty of perception; it’s in the eye of the beholder.

The first thing that comes to mind for most people, when the topic of skincare is brought up, is women spending great sums of money on products that they don’t need - well, that’s what the article implies at least. And that’s where I come in to say that the stereotype developed towards skincare is something which must be uncovered and analysed, and then demolished completely. It’s unfair to generalize the entire population of people who enjoy skincare by putting them under the umbrella of vain individuals spending unnecessary time and money. As my best friend would say, “sanity, not vanity”. People enjoy skin care for the same reason why bodybuilders go to the gym, why athletes play sports, why astronauts go to space and why authors write books - because it’s what they enjoy. It’s what makes them happy, and is an investment in themselves to continue developing into whom they ultimately want to be, while achieving personal accomplishments along the way.

The author of this article talks about what she considers “New Skincare”, and how it’s mainly another method of buying expensive products and putting them on display for other people to see - an ancient concept of validation from society on the basis of monetary accomplishments.

I, on the other hand, beg to differ. It’s unfair not to consider those who suffer from serious skin conditions, or even just people who believe in skin care to feel more confident in their own skin - it’s bizarre to criticize an entire industry and its customers simply based on the actions of a few.

You may see a woman in her 20’s with a successful job in the beauty industry who just posted her favorite high-end skincare products on Instagram, but that does not make it representative of the 16 year old teenage girl who uses a singular face wash and moisturizer to maintain healthy skin; and millions of other young individuals just like her.

Yes, numerous individuals have been and will continue to be duped into spending great sums of money on products that were destined to fail - but that’s the case with every single industry in the world. We have to account for the people who have bought expensive products that have worked for them. However, the price of a product doesn’t necessarily establish it’s quality, and I think it’s important to acknowledge people on both ends of the spectrum. There are people who use thousands of dollars worth of products to obtain skin that makes them comfortable, and there are also people who use skincare products from their local drugstore that makes them feel confident. The price tag doesn’t matter - it all comes down to each individual and their skin type, and ensuring that they have done the research necessary to establish what resources are best for them, specifically.

It’s also mentioned that “perfect skin is unattainable because it doesn't exist”, and with that, I’d agree one hundred percent, because it’s absolutely unrealistic to think that even the richest of the rich who can afford thousands of dollars worth of facials, serums, scrubs, and whatnot - don’t get the occasional pimple here and there. However, she does go on to say that this is why skincare is a scam and a complete waste of time and money to which I’d like to add my two cents - that’s not the point of skincare. Yes, many people fall into their routines of multiple creams and oils and serums with the goal of attaining porcelain skin fit for any Korean beauty guru, but we can’t just disregard the individuals in this industry who have various reasons for allocating sums of money, big or small, to skin care.

When you say that an investment in your health and your confidence is a waste of time and money - it’s unempowering and sends the message that taking care of yourself is not worth it nor a good allocation of your resources. Now, gaining confidence through skin care is something that I can talk about with a deeper insight, because it’s something I personally experience. If I’m being completely honest, makeup is not my forte - never was, never will be - and anything beyond the lightest layer of bb cream and a coat of mascara is extremely uncommon for me. Unless... my friends and I get ready together and I force them to help me do something more. And honestly, I’m okay with that. Confidence stems from a plethora of aspects in life. Some may find happiness in shoes, or hand bags or the latest streetwear - for me and millions of other teenagers all around the world, it’s skin care. Just spending those 10 - 15 minutes in the morning and at night leave me feeling as though I’m glowing, and I’m left with flourishing confidence within me throughout the day. When your skin is glowing and healthy, you feel like the best version of yourself and it shines through and reaches those around you, providing you with a greater sense of empathy.

Along with the health benefits and increase in self confidence, skin care also allows us to treat ourselves by winding down and de-stressing within the five minutes of skin care everyday. By just cleansing your face with your favourite face wash and applying your favourite toner and moisturiser, you create better a intrapersonal connection by showing some appreciation to your body for all the hard work it does each and every day.

Nearing the end, the author also poses the question, “Like other human organs, skin has withstood millions of years of evolution without the aid of tinctures and balms. How could we be getting it so wrong now?” - but this is not the case at all. While skin has withstood millions of years of evolution, it has most definitely been supported by the use of various ancient skin care methods. To a lot of people, it may seem as though skin care gained traction only a few decades ago, and that the indulgence in this specific field of beauty allowed for such immense growth and industrialisation. But the truth is, the roots of skin care can be dated back to various ancient civilizations, whether it be the Egyptians, Romans or Greeks. While they didn’t have the advanced technology and products as we do today, they curated methods that worked just as well. For example, rooting back to 3000 BC - in the same fashion as Empathy Cosmetics - the Egyptians always turned to nature and its extracts for their beautifying methods. Ever heard of Queen Cleopatra and her eternal, all-natural beauty? It was all thanks to her skin care practices, including things such as her infamous sour milk baths, and the usage of ingredients like dough, milk, and other essential oils from plants and herbs. But you get the point - times may have definitely changed, whether we acknowledge differences in our physical environments or societal atmospheres - however, skin care and natural beauty has always stayed consistent.

Much like a paint stroke to a blank canvas, or a song played on repeat, beauty is abstract. To many, finding happiness is embedded between the carefully folded concepts of transcendence, and it’s hard to put into words the feeling that is encapsulated when these abstract motions are fulfilled. Yet, it is something that provides some with a feeling of contentment and fulfillment. Skincare for me, is just that. Therefore, as a direct opposition to the article - which goes to paint skin care enthusiasts (mainly women in this case) as individuals caught up between a game of monopoly, mindlessly being “scammed” by this industry - I’d like to end off by saying this: I’ve watched enough movies, read enough books, had enough lunchtime discussions with my friends, to have gained an insight on how severely skin can impact one’s perception of themselves, be it positive or negative. And I felt as though it was worth it - in honour of the millions of people who were not represented - for me to weigh in on the conversation and truly analyze the significance and symbolism of skincare.

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