Applying skincare

Many experts agree that a cleanser, moisturizer and sunscreen are essential inclusions.

Which products do you consider must-haves in your skincare regimen? Recently, plenty of U.S. consumers have converted the curation of their vanity lineup into a hobby or—in some cases—something akin to a sacred wellness ritual.

Much of the industry’s growth can be attributed to factors such as the robust beauty community on social media and the incentive for cosmetic companies to make their commodities visually appealing as a result. Media and beauty brands have in turn tapped into trends like the 10-step Korean skincare routine.

But some are realizing that more might not always mean better. In its 2021 wellness trend report, digital lifestyle publication Well+Good listed "simplified skincare" as the next wave in beauty culture.

"Ask a dermatologist which products you need for healthy skin, and you’ll be able to count them on one hand," the report says. "In the coming year, we’ll see skincare brands lean into this 'quality over quantity' approach, delivering targeted, step-based skin sets that serve up the essentials in a single purchase."

Is this indeed the right approach? And are consumers really interested in downsizing their dermal regimes? Dr. Ashley Jenkins, an MU Health Care dermatologist, acknowledges that young people in particular tend to enjoy stacking multiple products on their faces. However, she says layering too many actives like benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid can lead to flare-ups in sensitive skin and worsen conditions like rosacea and eczema.

"Your skincare regimen does not have to be complicated," Jenkins says. "Could you do 10 steps? Sure. If you have the time and the energy to do that, more power to you."

But for most people, Jenkins says a cleanser, moisturizer and sunscreen work just fine. And none of these items have to be expensive to be good quality; she often recommends the drugstore brands CeraVe and Cetaphil because of their gentle formulas.

When it comes to whether shoppers are actually opting for fewer products, Jenkins says what she has seen instead is people becoming more smart, savvy consumers.

Social media acts as a vast network of influencers and average users educating their audiences on what to try or toss. MU biology student Maya Green, who says she’d also like to study dermatology in the future, gets most of her information from creators like Hyram Yarbro on YouTube and TikTok.

Green uses just three products on her face (just like the three Jenkins suggests; her cleanser is even by CeraVe) and a prescribed spot treatment for breakouts. A main takeaway from the videos she’s watched is that irritating ingredients are a no-go. Those around her seem to be just as mindful of what they apply topically.

"My cousin who's 13 has a very good skincare routine," Green says. "When I was 13, I was trying random products that my mom was using. I was very harsh on my skin compared to kids now."

To avoid abrasive components within their skin products, many women are turning to lines labeled as "natural" and "organic." The Facial Boutique in Columbia focuses on holistic solutions to skin concerns and carries the brands Rococo Botanicals and Osmosis, which fall under this category of clean beauty.

The Facial Boutique owner and licensed esthetician Erika Walljasper offers treatments that help the skin restore itself without the need for synthetic or "unnatural" anti-aging substances like botox and filler. She sold a lot of products to her clients during lockdown. But as life has returned somewhat back to normal, those clients are wanting the same results without having to take as much time out of their busy schedules.

"I want to make sure that people have a basic skincare routine before I recommend five products to them," Walljasper says.

When there’s so much information out there, it can be overwhelming to know where to start. That’s why Walljasper places so much emphasis on educating her clients on what will work best for their specific needs. A consultation with a professional is important, she says.

Jenkins echoes this sentiment, adding that whether someone has "good" skin depends on a number of factors, including genetics, past sun exposure and underlying dermatologic conditions. Shelling out a fortune for expensive serums won’t guarantee a flawless complexion.

"You really do have to work with a dermatologist who can give you realistic expectations about what you can expect from certain products and what you should or shouldn’t be spending your money on," Jenkins says.

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