Why are we so obsessed with skincare?

Photo by Chris Knight on Unsplash

Skincare — once an obscure concept reserved for the likes of elites, supermodels, and perhaps the occasional beauty blogger, the term has now evolved into relatively one of the biggest buzzwords in the past year — and still continues to do so as endless array after endless array of facemasks, eye cream, moisturizers, and many, many more continuously pop up on drugstore shelves and makeup boutiques. And its presence is progressively felt around the globe, particularly with the proliferation of the K-beauty (a contraction of Korean beauty) trend in Asia, courtesy of South Korea — and this is but the latest in the ever-progressing trend of skincare craze currently overtaking the world, particularly affecting women.

Of course, skincare — literally the act of taking care of one’s skin — has never been anything particularly new to society, and has long been a staple of women’s daily routines. That is, women who have been able to afford the then-expensive and unattainable products needed for effective skincare: moisturizers, serums, facial appointments, and what-have-you. But only in recent years has skincare become such a widely used and distributed commodity marketed largely to women — and in a significantly different way, too. Gone are the days when a simple, hassle-free routine of cleansing and moisturizing was enough to maintain our skin’s health; these days, a 10-step routine employing several different products is common among beauty and skincare enthusiasts — all for the quest of achieving perfect, spotless, glowing skin.

But amidst all this craze, perhaps it is time to step back and ask of ourselves: what does this idea of perfect skin actually entail? Or perhaps more importantly, does the very concept of perfect skin actually exist at all? Time and again has it been proven that trends, including beauty trends, continuously come and go. Ten years ago we may have had lip gloss and frosted eye shadow, and 2019’s current obsession is with dewy, perfect, natural-looking skin, achieved — and here’s the irony — by a multitude of beauty and skincare products — from the first drop of cleanser to the last swipe of moisturizer.

Don’t have your own morning skin care routine? Check out this quick routine by Kelsey Merritt!

We also included a list of aloe products that you can use as an alternative to Kelsey’s aloe plant 😉 https://t.co/hQm7rkI7Be— CHALK.PH (@chalkdotph) 19 December 2018

In retrospect, all this craze is but part of the larger “wellness obsession” currently overtaking the world, writes The Pool’s Hannah Banks-Walker. Skincare, and all the rituals it entails, has become part of a larger lifestyle or moral standard by which we live our lives. And at the end of the day, it’s not as much the results that motivates us to take such good care of our skin, but the very experience itself of performing each part of the ritual — cleansing, washing, spraying, moisturizing — that feels validating, as if we have control of our lives, somehow. Somehow, skincare routines  have become our one act of self-care in our increasingly stressful lives — the very act itself a form of escapism of sorts.

And there is nothing particularly wrong in taking care of oneself, although — as it is with skincare routines — in a very consumerist, expensive way. And such is the cycle that goes on in capitalist systems, unfortunately, that feeds off of our various human insecurities to sell products that promise to to magically make our lives better by achieving perfect skin.

Somehow, skincare routines  have become our one act of self-care in our increasingly stressful lives — the very act itself a form of escapism of sorts.

But the catch here is just that — there is no such thing as perfect, purely flawless skin, no matter what new miracle product is advertised. Investing in skin-care — and self-care at that — is nothing sinful, but in all the frenzy, may we not lose sense of ourselves and forget that we do not owe the world our physical beauty — or that of our skins’, for that matter. Our skin, as The Outline’s Krithika Varagur reminds, protects us from diseases, regulates our body’s temperature, prevents water loss, and many more — as it has been for thousands of years, and will always continue to do so, 10-step routine or not.

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