I did a lot of stupid things when I was a teenager. I wore glitter to school. I thought bell bottom jeans really would make a comeback. I posted several Facebook statuses a day to my 3+ friends. And I also firmly believed that an orange, fake tanned skin was miles better than my naturally fair self.
Mistakes, all of them. I look back on my yearbook photos and Facebook rewinds and cringe.
I didn’t realize it until just days ago, but it turns out that I was committing a far greater sin than drugstore bronzer lotion.
I was taking care of my skin. Actually, I still am.
You see, author Krithika Varagur outlines in a recent, erhm, let’s call it, opinion piece, The skincare con, that we’re all bloody idiots. She event quotes philosopher Foucault to prove her point. Philosophers, of course, are a bounty of medical knowledge. I wonder where Focault finished his dermatology residency. Google isn’t much help.
Despite lacking the dermatologist qualifications, Varagur insists she knows her shit. Example: evolution. “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? The only feasible answer is: we aren’t. Imagine refining other organs, like your liver or lungs, with the kind of monomania directed at our skin.”
She’s got a point. Here I thought that me quitting drinking was for the benefit of my liver. Turns out, my liver never needed such care, or any, in the first place. Screw eating healthy and taking my vitamins while I’m at it. The cavemen lived to, what? 33? I’ve got a few good years left, methinks.
I should start throwing out my sunscreen while I’m thinking about it. Yeah, there’s solid evidence our ancestors died of skin cancer, but tell me that over a glass of wine. I’m so over caring for myself anymore.
She also points out skincare’s greatest crime; “At the core of the New Skincare is chemical violence. Skincare buffs refer to “actives” — products like retinols, chemical exfoliants, and alpha and beta hydroxy acids.” I feel like such a fool. Here I was, thinking chemical violence was suffered by the victims of acid attacks, but no. I was the real victim when I dared to put Differin on my poor, innocent, acne-ridden face.
Which brings me to Varagur’s next line, directed at me, I assume. “Don’t we all have friends who are fanatical about skin care and don’t… really (whispers) have great skin? How can that be?”
Ah, this brings back memories. When I first began developing painful, cystic acne (around age 17 or 18), I sat in my doctor’s office asking if there was anything that could be done. I’m not kidding when I say it was bad. I had grown adults asking me what was wrong with my face. I’m pretty sure I frightened children. I looked at my doctor like he was Christ himself come to resurrect my skin. The result was a prescription retinoid and two rounds of medications that has since evolved once the cysts began to disappear.
Nowadays, I’m on Differin, heavy moisturizers, and avoid certain ingredients due to the hell it wreaks on my skin. But if you ask Varagur, I was a fool for even trying.
You see, while the cysts went away, the acne scars, redness and blackheads still remain. And much like the cystic acne took awhile to go away, my awful skin in it’s current state will need lots of time and TLC to heal.
Or so I thought.
Had I only listened to Varagur, I would’ve known the my fanaticism with skincare meant that I was doomed to be ugly and scarred for life. Hell, I never should’ve made that visit to the doctor in the first place. Who cares what those around me had to say about my face?
I should’ve (no pun intended) just grown thicker skin.
Finally, Varagur thinks we’re all just pawns in the grand Scheme of Skincare. “New Skincare is (still) chiefly about buying things, and displaying them for others to see — to prove that you worked hard for what you have, even if you’re, say, a model, whose profession self-selects for superior genetics.”
I should mention this to my friend who likes to use face masks as a form of self care. She’s a mere proletariat with no mind or thoughts of her own. Wake up, sheeple!
My one hope is that we can all free our bathroom cabinets from the con that has imprisoned us for so long. I can’t wait to call my wonderful, patient doctor and tell him to shove it.
What previously beloved skincare products will you throw into the flames? Tell me in the comments below!
about the author
Great hair, average personality.