How many products do you use on your skin?
We spoke to Yvette van Schie, a holistic beauty therapist and founder of Ethical Beauty Expert, and asked her opinion on how many skincare products is too many and what we can do to resist overconsumption, for the sake of our health as well as the environment.
The dangers of layering skincare products
Seriously, how many beauty products do you actually use daily? One, two, ten?
The average woman uses 12 different skincare products every day, according to Harvard University Health. This includes cleansers, skincare, nail polish, conditioner, perfume, and makeup.
We lovingly and adoringly use all of these glorious-smelling and looking beauty products which make us feel more beautiful, groomed, and clean.
How do we make sure all these dozens of products we're using are safe for our skin, separately and in combination?
In fact, on a federal level, the products aren't actually checked to make sure that the ingredients you are putting on your body are harmless.
“Products are tested to make sure they don’t cause short-term problems such as skin irritation, but they’re not tested for long-term safety,” says Dr, Kathryn M Rexrode, associate professor of medicine and chief of the Division of Women’s Health at Harvard Medical School.
Beauty industry trends doesn't exactly help this either. The Korean fad of applying multiple layers of products to our faces for better skin has increased skincare sales beyond the beauty industries' wildest dreams. But unless you have skincare prescribed by a professional beauty therapist or aesthetician, you are in danger of doubling up in ingredients which are effective only when used in small amounts – but can be irritating otherwise.
Not only that. We could be using ingredients which when mixed cause an allergic reaction or cut each other out – and then wonder why our skin is so bad.
There's nothing wrong with your skin
We have become very fond of the art of self-diagnosis. As far as most people are concerned, they have bad skin: oily T-zone with blackheads and pimples, pigmentation issues, uneven large pores, and flaky, uneven texture – and that’s just to name a few.
The reality is, most people have nothing actually wrong with their skin. Occasional hormonal breakouts, a few blackheads, and skin texture are absolutely normal.
Leave your skin be
As a beauty therapist, I see a lot of faces, and most of them suffer from one major problem – overuse of skincare.
Some of my clients have stripped skins due to too much foaming cleanser or mousse cleanser, then glycolic acid toner followed by an AHA serum, and a weekly enzyme mask (which exfoliates again).
Then they would top it up with hyaluronic acid serum (which just cannot do a thing to hydrate the skin when so many other drying ingredients are used), niacinamide with some vitamin C, and exfoliating retinol cream for at night.
Does this sound a little or a lot like you?
You wouldn't treat your favorite leather jacket (if you are not vegan and own one) with this much aggression, so why use this much stuff on your skin?
How beauty industry is harming you — and the environment
The rising of the big beauty stores has been the downfall of people’s skins, and there is just no way anyone can say no to all of these pretty products on the shelves.
Even beauty therapists and aestheticians have fallen prey to the self-abuse of too much skincare. They just take it one step further, doing treatments on their skin and client’s skins which normally you would not do to someone with perfectly good skin in the name of protecting the skin from ageing. However, the over-treating of skins at a young age might mean you will have to have do 2 or 3 times as many treatments when you are older.
Beauty industry is also one of the biggest pollutants. Tons of beauty products make their way down our sinks to our waterways, soil, and air, and ultimately, food; not to mention over 120 billion units of packaging being produced globally every year.
How much beauty products do I actually need?
Today it is so easy to purchase zero-waste beauty products that work great for your skin.
You really only need a great moisturizer, cleansing oil, exfoliant, and sunscreen. Add a light therapy mask to your skincare routine and a bit of clean makeup if you wish. A good idea is to use a natural sunscreen with a makeup base: this way, you'll skip an extra skincare layer and stay protected from the sun.
I know it is easier said than done to go natural if you have always been a beauty junkie. But as you finish each and every product just replace it with an organic, zero-waste one. Oh, and don’t forget to read the ingredient list carefully! But that's for another article...