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It's a blogger's prerogative to change their mind, and I've definitely done a u-turn on a few skincare-related topics during the years I’ve been testing products and writing about my experiences, so let’s dive into a few of them...
Whilst I definitely side-eye SPF 20, 15 and even <SPF 10 products are still on the market, believe it or not (especially when it's in products we aren’t going to apply enough of), I actually think that a well-applied SPF 30 is probably fine for a lot of people a lot of the time. When you select a higher SPF, what you’re really allowing for is a margin of error in application and reapplication and how important that margin is kind of depends on the situation. If it’s the height of summer and you’re in the beach or out hiking during the day then there’s very little margin for error; you can end up burnt within a matter of minutes. For those situations, you really can't beat the La Roche-Posay Anthelios Uvinul 400* | £18 | full review. However, that’s not everyday life for most people (if it is for you: I’m jealous!) If you’re having a day in the office or running errands or you’re popping into town for lunch, you’re not going to shrivel into a prune at the age of 40 if you’re wearing SPF 30 instead of 50. In fact, the most important thing about sunscreen is that you wear it! So if you find an SPF 30 that’s wearable everyday, doesn’t break you out and works under makeup (if you wear it), then go for that and save the heavy-duty stuff for high UV index days. A product I really love as an everyday option is the Glow Hub Defend Yourself Sun Silk SPF 30* | £12 | full review.
I love the Ordinary and still feel they have a place in the skincare world but I definitely blame them for this one! When they launched there were a lot of skincare products out there with generic names and broad claims like '90% of women agreed their skin looked better within 10 days', 'reverse ageing' and 'miracle cream'. The Ordinary really opened the door to us getting our nerd on and looking into ingredients, how they actually work and what evidence there is to substantiate their claims. However, I do think the pendulum swung too far in the other direction and suddenly everyone needed a dedicated niacinamide serum, despite the fact that this ingredient (which is great for a range of skin issues) is already in a lot of serums and moisturisers. We will get into the % concentration fallacy later, but if you look into niacinamide, you'll soon learn that the studies proving its benefits are all done at 2-5% concentrations so a higher percentage is only increasing the likelihood of irritation. So, if you were choosing between the Paula's Choice Clinical 20% Niacinamide Treatment* | £47 | full review | and the Paula's Choice Clinical Discolouration Repair Serum* | £46 | full review | then I'd absolutely recommend the latter at a 5% concentration with amazing booster ingredients like tranexamic acid and bakuchiol. It's a no-brainer!
Pivoting from the single-ingredient product misconception to a related myth I used to believe which is: the stronger a product is, the better it will be for my skin and the better the results will be. The truth is that most skincare ingredients have a therapeutic range and just upping the concentration for marketing purposes is unlikely to give you any added benefit but does increase the risk of irritation. Also, I feel as though most of the time it's just unnecessary because a lot of ingredients are great on a 'little and often' basis in skin-friendly formulations. The most obvious place in which this has gotten a little out-of-hand is with exfoliants; whilst they can be more effective at higher concentrations, everyone's skin is different. Whilst I used to think the Ordinary's AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution | £6.30 | full review | was a decent product in the right hands, I now lean towards questioning whether anyone really needs a product of this strength in their bathroom cabinet. I remember when I first bought this peel it used to say 'for professional use only' and I honestly agree that something like this should be! I find that something gentler works great for my skin, doesn't cause irritation and works alongside my other must-have ingredients to give me the results I want without the potential issues of just pummeling my face with the highest concentration possible. For that, I really like the Cultured Biomecare One Biome Mask* | £48 | full review | because it's packed full of buffering glycerin and smooths and resurfaces my skin without irritation. Obviously it's more expensive but for gentler options from the Ordinary, try their salicylic acid mask, their mandelic acid or one of the lactic acid formulas.
Physical exfoliants are still not my preference but I also don't think they're the work of the devil any more, and I sometimes even use them in my own routine. I still recommend avoiding apricot and walnut scrubs because these natural particles are often sharp and uneven so don't give a uniform exfoliation and it's quite easy to go overboard and damage your skin barrier with them. However, I do think man-made micro-exfoliants that are designed to be more skin-friendly (or even powder + water washes) are fine and a lot of them contain an element of chemical exfoliation too, so you leave them on the skin to work their magic on that level and the action of rinsing them off gives you the manual exfoliation too. I personally enjoy the Youth to the People Yerba Mate Resurfacing Energy Facial* | £47 | full review | for just that!
I used to think that 'expensive' meant 'better' and even when I had minimal spare cash, I did feel as though if I wanted the best skincare routine then I should go for premium products from start to end. Now I'm more educated about ingredients and formulations, I think it can be beneficial to spend a little on certain things (such as a pure-form Vitamin C serum or a retinoid that will work for me without irritating my skin), there's really no need to splurge on everything. For me: sunscreens, moisturisers and cleansers are the obvious areas you can easily save in, because they don't contain ingredients that are difficult to formulate with and they're they're to perform a function, so if you like how they work and feel on your skin then that's really the main thing. Cleansers, for example, should be effective, work for your lifestyle and be nice for your skin type. Whilst I like to splurge on something like the Cipher Cloud Melt Hybrid Cleanser* | $68 | full review | I do still find that the Ordinary's Squalane Cleanser* | £5.50 | full review | works brilliantly! Likewise, whilst I love me a bit of Kate Somerville's DeliKate Recovery Cream* | £69 | full review | if the bank balance wasn't going to support it: my skincare routine isn't being compromised in any meaningful way if I opt for the Beauty Bay Thirst Class Rich Moisturiser | £7.50 | full review.
Have you changed your mind over the years on any skincare topics?