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Today I'm sharing something a little different; I recently sat down with Cecilie (AKA My Fading Skin on Instagram) to talk all things skin so make sure you check out that interview here and follow Cecilie for thoughtful reviews of a niche curation of skincare products. For my half of our collaboration, I'm going to talk about my skincare philosophy in a little more depth, because our conversation really made me reflect on what I've learned in my time writing and talking about beauty products...

It’s probably equal parts ritual and results

The internet can be a very polarising place; it seems like half of the internet is using luxurious products that will set you back the cost of a holiday and the other half want to suck all the joy and sensory elements out of skincare. Of course, I’m exaggerating, but you know what I mean! What I’ve learned over the years is that skincare can (and perhaps even should) be both. Some days, I’m exhausted or busy or distracted and skincare is the last thing on my mind so I just want to get home, take my makeup off and slap on a ‘do it all’ moisturiser before bed. Others, I’m breaking out and want to clear up my blemishes quickly without destroying my skin barrier. And sometimes, I have a Sunday evening spare and just want skincare that’s going to make me feel good and ready for the week ahead. Understanding where you sit on this utility-to-indulgence spectrum and what you want from your skincare products is important for understanding what to spend on and what to save on and what you do / don’t need in your life. Sometimes it’s just taking our time to do our skincare and using it as moment in the day that’s just for us that gives us that ‘ritual’ aspect, not how fancy or sensorial the products are.

A preference is neither right nor wrong

Some people wake up in the morning, splash their face with water, apply a moisturising sunscreen and go. Others cleanse, apply a toner, an essence, 3 serums, a moisturiser and a sunscreen. As long as you’re not irritating your skin and your routine is delivering on what you need it to; there’s no issue. I personally find my skin is happier when I apply 1 active serum in the AM and PM (possibly complimented with something hydrating or barrier restoring) and I know a lot of people are confused; layering on multiple harsh actives and wondering why their routine isn’t working for them. So, when I give beginner-friendly skincare routine outlines, I generally go with the principle that simpler is better (and it also encourages use of more well-rounded formulas that address multiple concerns instead of using lots of single ingredient products that may not work well layered together). That doesn’t mean I’m ‘right’, it just means that I’m trying to strike a balance that will work for most people. Advanced skincare users can absolutely do more if they wish to do so. Likewise, some people struggle to get into the habit and find the time to do much more than cleansing, moisturising and using sunscreen. And it’s much better to stick to that every day than to sporadically try to do more and not be able to achieve it most of the time! 

If it’s not working, don’t force it

Often we demystify skincare by reverting back to what is proven to work. I’m also guilty of this! But, what I want to highlight more is that not everything is going to vibe with everyone’s skin. Of course there are tips and hacks for getting used to certain strong actives, but there will still be people out there who’ve tried dozens and dozens of retinoids, following all the advice on the internet, and their skin doesn’t like it. Could there be one formula out there that works for them? Maybe. But is it worth their time and money to try dozens more products to find that one? Probably not. The mantra of retinoids, pure Vitamin C and acids being the be-all and end-all of skincare isn’t some rigid prescription you need to pursue the detriment of your skin. It’s meant to stop people from spending a fortune on patented, questionable ingredients when they could get something more proven for far less money. If you’ve found that peptides give you the results you wanted from a retinoid without any of the irritation retinoids give you: do it! They’re still likely to boost collagen production, they’re not irritating and are more versatile. And at the end of the day: if you’re seeing results in your own skin, that matters more than how robust a study is in informing your own routine. There are alternatives to these ingredients out there, so whilst the most proven things are going to be your first port of call; your exploration absolutely should not end there if they’re not working for your personal skin. 

If it works, don’t chase ‘the next thing’ to your detriment 

On the flip side, don’t forget that the purpose of skincare content (or at least mine) is to help you find the Ones for you. If you’ve found them; that’s the goal so well done, you! Of course every now and then, a new launch is going to pique your interest, but honestly: if I wasn’t a creator, my approach would be to wait and see if reviews point towards it being something for me, and to consider if there’s a gap in my routine for trialling something new (e.g. if you’re running low on your favourite moisturiser and a new formula has caught your eye). At the end of the day, you have to finish these products and I’ve certainly learnt the hard way over the years that it makes no sense to keep buying and buying; the new launch you impulse-purchased probably isn’t going to be that amazing when compared to what you already have. Marketing claims are designed to get you to spend money chasing the next expensive, unproven innovation; try to stay grounded and realistic as to what you can expect a product to do.

Stick to your budget; no skincare product is worth money you can’t afford 

One of my biggest learnings oven the years has been that that’s a plateau in skincare (and I’m sure in other product categories) when it comes to the Quality vs. Price axis. I’ve had the opportunity to try product that I would never in a million years spend my own money on, and honestly: most are not that special (and even if they’re really nice, beyond a certain price-point, I’m unlikely to feature them in my content anyway because it’s still so much money). A moisturiser can cost you £7 or £210, but the £210 moisturiser is not going to be 30 x as good as the £7 moisturiser; at some point you’re going to encounter diminishing returns. If you have money to spend on any products that your heart desires then this advice probably doesn’t pertain to you (though there are definitely products out there that are expensive because they contain advanced ingredients vs. being luxury for luxury’s sake). But, saving up or getting credit to buy an expensive cream that promises you the world is likely to lead to disappointment when it does not, in fact, change your life. And the wonderful thing is that technology only becomes cheaper and more accessible as time goes on; there are ingredients in drugstore products here in 2024 that were uncommon and pricey 3 years ago. Let’s take advantage of that fact! I always try to offer alternative options that are cheaper for more expensive products I love, because I’m aware that paying twice as much for a more pleasant application, marginally better results and added ingredients that might be present in other steps of your routine isn’t going to be for everyone. 

I really hope you enjoyed this reflection on what blogging has taught me over the years and how it’s shaped my approach to skincare and what I want to achieve here! What’s your skincare philosophy?

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Read more posts from this series here!


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