Say, ‘Boy Beautyyyy’

Chances are, if you read this website or are active on social media, you’ve noticed that you’re not the only guy obsessed with skincare.

Whether it’s yesterday’s article arguing how the skincare industry is a scam, a proceeding smart rebuttal on Racked, or scrolling through your Instagram feed, it’s as if everyone and their mother are obsessively talking about skincare. Why? Because women – and men! – see real benefits to adhering to a skincare regimen, ones that aren’t only physical, but manifest from the inside out. We here at Very Good Light have extensively written about how beauty is more than skin deep. Skincare is about confidence, it’s therapy for when you’re coping with insecurities, or it even makes you feel closer to your culture, as one of our writers wrote here.

For me, skincare is completely selfish but absolutely necessary. It’s that 20-minutes out of the day where I practice self-care. With every slather of moisturizer I give myself a little more affirmation that I am beautiful – and powerful.

So it’s with great displeasure and disappointment that The Outline wrote a very misinformed (and irresponsible) piece calling out skincare as a great “con.” In the article posted Monday, author Krithika Varagur argues many points that make the entire industry is a “scam.”

To her point, there are plenty of reasons why I could see why she’d think so from an outsider’s perspective. For one, there seems to be new studies coming out on the daily with new ingredients touting this or that for your skin. This year, for instance, everyone’s talking about acids, pH balance, while and last year it was all about ceramides and niacinamides. I can see how it could be confusing. Then, there are cutesy “trends” like Korean beauty with its beautiful packaging, cartoon character mascots on its products, and “crazy” ingredients including snail mucin and placenta. Sure, if you haven’t actually used these products extensively, of course it may seem curious, if not dubious to you.

But the the author done f***ed up when she started her piece with this line: “Perfect skin is unattainable because it doesn’t exist.” That’s where I draw the line and when I am completely finished. Done. Cancel her. We all know perfection is an icky word to begin with, one that’s completely subjective. It’s also dated. Today’s all about embracing us fully – our flaws, warts and all. And besides that, has she not heard of a beauty kingdom called Seoul where objectively flawless skin lives in the wild?

cameron fuller
(Photo by Jessica Chou/Very Good Light)

“Perfect skin has become the thinking woman’s quest,” she writes. “It’s normal today for people in certain circles to brag about spending most of their paycheck on serums. The latest skincare trends have a reassuring scientific cast: peptides, acids, solutions, and other things with clinical suffixes that are typically sold in small quantities for large amounts of money.” Huh. So not only is this woman assuming beauty is consumed solely by a single gender (as well as excluding anyone outside that gender binary), she’s also making a sweeping statement that all consumers aren’t educated in their purchasing decisions (and might I add judge-y? Let us buy what we want??).

I’d actually argue that now more than ever, beauty consumers are more educated than before. With the advent of Reddit pages like SkincareAddiction, KoreanBeauty, among dozens of others, as well as educational Instagram handles, Sephora chat rooms, etc., consumers are equipped with enough knowledge to know what’s good and what isn’t.

She also is extremely bombastic with some of her claims. In her story, she writes how the core of “New Skincare,” (that is, brands that give you that dewiness, glow and the “no makeup makeup” look) is “chemical violence.” Products like acids or retinols, she claims, can be harmful to your skin without proper use and even links to Sephora’s Drunk Elephant page where it says the alpha hydroxy in its TLC Framboos can be sensitizing. Sure, if you use a product that doesn’t work well with your skin’s own pH or are allergic to certain ingredients, certainly, please stop using those. But for every person who says they’ve broken out in hives, have broken out, or worse, there are thousands more who actually see benefits to such ingredients.

The author goes on to argue something that’s actually really odd. “People with those meticulous regimens have great skin. And yet they still get blemishes!” Hold up. What. So basically she’s arguing that just because a person uses beauty products they can’t ever erupt in pimples or that means their skincare isn’t actually working. That’s not how your skin works, lol. In fact, acne occurs because of many factors – your diet, external elements like humidity, touching your face, your filthy pillow, the list goes on – which have nothing to do with how well you pamper your skin.

cameron fuller
(Photo by Jessica Chou/Very Good Light)

“Don’t we all have friends who are fanatical about skin care and don’t… really (whispers) have great skin? How can that be?” This line literally sends shivers down my spine. For being someone who’s been, well, shamed on the Internet for less than perfect skin (watch this video and read comment here) this is a question that is laughable at best. This summer, I experienced cystic acne for the first time. Without my skincare regimen, I would not have overcome my ordeal. Yes, the Vitamin C did help with hyperpigmentation (yes, it’s backed by this study here), retinoids did make my scars disappear (you can read why in this scientific article here), and the daily regimen was therapeutic for my own well-being, thanks for asking (yes, research backs that, too!).

Then we get to the final point where I want to face palm myself SO hard my moisturizer literally seeps into my bloodstream. Next, the author gets to this point where I literally rolled my eyes in the back of my head I can now see my wrinkly frontal lobe. “Like other human organs, skin has withstood millions of years of evolution without the aid of tinctures and balms,” she writes. “How could we be getting it so wrong now? ” Yeah, and like the average lifespan of a man 100 years ago was 45 years. That means he probably had amazing skin in his 20’s and 30’s and died before he had to reconcile with his forehead wrinkles and photoaging spots all around. Besides, our ancient forefathers have always used oils, creams and unguents (that is, a soft, greasy lubricant), to protect their skin – it’s nothing new.

At the risk of me having to get Botox for the first time, I’m going to stop here as my brows are furrowed and my wrinkles are starting to permanently crease. Before I conclude, let me get this off my chest. We, the beauty community (and yes, that means GUYS, too!), aren’t merely luddites who follow whatever flashy trends we spot on Instagram. We’re discerning consumers who are constantly abreast with our beauty education. To perpetuate that skincare is a scam and doesn’t work isn’t just inaccurate, it’s fake news.

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