I would like to note as I?m writing this I have two acne patches on my face. So proceed reading this article with that knowledge. I do care about my skin and about my appearance, but I question how we approach the skincare industry and how that impacts us all.
I?ve struggled with acne since I was a teenager. I tried a lot of products, most of them were a temporary fix to a stubborn problem, eventually, I just accepted my face the way it was.
This is my story, but this is also the story of millions of people across the world. But most don?t understand how we feel, because their acne went away after high school (that must be fun). However, one of the magical parts of the internet is that we can find people like us, people with ?bad skin? and no obvious solution.
Enter Reddit, to be more specific the subreddit, r/skincareaddiction. It is a space on the internet where people can talk about their skin issues. For a lot of people, it?s acne,anti-aging or both. We all want beautiful skin or at least decent skin and Reddit is the place we can get answers.
Have you mentioned a skin issue and been told to ?wash your face? or ?drink more water?. People on r/skincareaddiction won?t give you these empty, mostly useless answers, why? because we know how it is to have numerous skin issues. R/skincareaddiction makes people feel understood, and it validates a lot of the feelings we have around our skin. The subreddit exists to ask and answer questions, review products, and have conversations about what works and what doesn?t. Above all things, it is an informational subreddit.
The premise of r/skincareaddiction makes it a more wholesome corner of the internet or at least that was what I thought for a while. Responses are often filled with kindness as if coming from a friend who will sit and be patient. Yet with one year down as a dedicated subscriber, my perception of a lot of the users has changed. As many do eventually, I also subscribe to r/scacirclejerk, which provides much-needed air outside of the r/skincareaddiction bubble, that kept fresh by CeraVe (in the tub, it has to be in the tub).
What?s so wrong about r/skincareaddiction?
First, we need to talk about spending habits that are encouraged. Not a lot the Marie Kondo method going around. The last couple of months have consisted of people discovering The Ordinary, a company under the Deciem brand and then proceeding to buy at least 4?6 products, to then only post ?How do I incorporate these into my routine??. Users aren?t irritated because you asked a question, they?re irritated because it doesn?t seem like you put any thought or research into your purchase. When buying skincare it?s more important to slowly introduce products, especially when you?re using actives. This has happened so many times recently that a user created a post specifically for The Ordinary, explaining each product. For people like me with a limited budget, The Ordinary is an affordable option to find a couple of products, but people with more disposable income, they become like a kid in a candy shop.
It creates this unspoken classism, recently someone said: ?if you can?t swing $50 on a skincare product, then how do you even have a routine?. After noticing they got reposted on r/scacirclejerk they attempted to clarify their statement by saying if you are already spending $50 a month on skincare products, you should be able to spend that same amount on a tretinoin prescription.
People will also post their shelfies of affordable products, but when you start to add up 6 or 7 affordable products the routine isn?t as reasonable anymore. When routines include pricer brands I already know it isn?t something I can afford. And expensive routines are always upvoted, do you spend a small fortune on skincare? If so you?ll get plenty of positive karma on Reddit. I don?t think people should not be shamed for the products they buy if I had a bit more money I know I would upgrade my sunscreen. But I don?t think we should reward mindless spending. And quite frankly most people are allocating their money to things like rent/mortgage, food, healthcare, savings, and debt. So when trips to Sephora end in serious money being spent, that should be a reminder that it?s not normal. However, the skincare routine the subreddit refers us to is simple:
source: Reddit r/skincareaddiction
Another issue on r/skincareaddiction is when personal insecurities grow into hate and bullying of other people. I remember one day a user posted about how upset they were because a stranger was making fun of their acne. Other users quickly came to their support, because as I said a lot of us have bad acne too. Out of curiosity, I went to check their profile to see if they had posted their routine before or a picture so I could see what products they had tried before. Instead, I saw posts from r/fatlogic, which is a subreddit that consists of people making fun of fat people. R/Fatlogic is probably one of the worst subreddits I?ve ever seen. Often people talk about how they face bullying, discrimination, and hate because of their weight and this subreddit proves it. An online bully was being bullied in real life. In both situations, there is a clear society expectation, one is you should have flawless, beautiful skin and the other is that you should be thin. But as we know a large percentage of people don?t fit those expectations. While we unpack how we are told we are supposed to look I don?t see how we can expect kindness for our skin, but not our weight. Society has told us so much about how we are supposed to look and acceptance of some things, but not others isn?t the point of self-confidence. Using someone?s acne as an insult is cheap, but using their weight as an insult is just as cheap. The truth is people come in different colors, shapes, and sizes. This idea that everyone is going to look like a model from an ad isn?t healthy and it?s hurting us all. So if you find yourself mocking someone online and also asking for sympathy, I think you need to figure out what?s going on with you.
But maybe, just maybe the worst part of this subreddit is that it encourages us to fixate on our skin. As I told you most people who subscribe already are concerned about acne or anti-aging, so you?re already fighting an uphill battle. Sometimes life happens, pimples happen, wrinkles happen and there might not be enough products, treatments, or habits to change that. I want to be okay with that reality, I want the other subscribers to be okay with that reality too. The questions ?Is perfect skin possible?? or ? How does this celebrity have such great skin? come up in this subreddit frequently. I think we forget if someone is in the public eye part of their job is to look a certain way. An actor having an extensive skincare routine makes sense because they are in a way investing in their career. But in most jobs visible pores are okay and you don?t have to look like you just left a photo shoot to be hired. It makes me weary because often you see people mention their mental health issues in posts. Due to that, I think we have to be more intentional about how we set our expectations because even though a nice skincare routine might make you feel a bit better, it?s like sprinkles on a cupcake. Any underlying problems will still be there, so it?s best to get to the root of the issue.
Here are my hopes for the future of r/skincareaddiction, because even as a cynic at heart I think we can do better. I hope we don?t fixate over new pimples or old scars, wrinkles that may appear or already be one our face. I hope to see more people with brown skin, so we can finally find a HG product for PIH. I hope we can enjoy our skincare routines, regardless of how our skin currently looks. Most importantly I hope the users in this subreddit aren?t a$$holes, to themselves or other people.
So, by all means, apply your whole skincare routine as you please. We understand when Beyonc says ? I woke up like this? it means after completing your whole PM routine, to wake up to a glow in the morning. Beauty and skincare can and should be fun, so I think we should protect those parts of it.