I like to think my values align to those of the French when it comes to skin care; it’s important, much more important than make up. My theory is that we get one face and consequently it’s worth spending the necessary time and money it takes to look after it. I’d happily go without other items in favour of skin care products as they were a priority for me. Over the years I’d created a strict 5 step morning routine and 7 step night time routine for myself, following all the advice I’d read for my combination skin type. I thought I was doing a great job and I was mostly pleased with the results I got. Notice the past tense here? Everything came into question recently when I found myself face to face with a dermatologist diagnosing me with Rosacea and Perioral Dermatitis. The cause? Too many products!
Convinced he was wrong, I challenged the man I’d paid to diagnose me based on his expert medical knowledge. I couldn’t believe what he was saying. I told him about all the products I was using, my routine, all the research I’d done, the fact that the makers of the products I was using were either doctors or facialists and they weren’t cheap! He wasn’t convinced of my arguments. He told me I’d been too naive in taking people’s word and to question everything. Those words ‘you must question everything’ have stuck with me ever since my appointment a few weeks ago. Looking back it was ironic that the minimalist of the two was making the case for using more.
Women in particular, although men are increasingly being targeted, are overwhelmed by skincare marketing. The choices are endless and the promised results make the products worth buying for a lot of us. Do we question enough when it comes to what we’re putting on our face? Are we too naive? The skincare industry is worth billions in the UK alone thanks to women like me, willing to pay £80 for a good facial oil that promises a radiant dewy glow. Are these results placebo as my dermatologist suggested? What are the long term effects? Are we over stimulating our skin? When you start questioning everything, the questions are endless.
The treatment prescribed for my conditions were a three month course of antibiotics for Rosacea and zero therapy for the Dermatitis, in other words stop everything to reset the skin. No products what so ever. No cleanser, no SPF, no serum, no moisturiser, no acids, no spritz, no makeup except on my eyes-NOTHING. I was permitted to cling on to my beloved cotton flannel, which I can use with fresh water, but that was it. I can gradually start to reintroduce products after 6 months starting with a serum and SPF but I’ve been advised to seriously tone things down. In addition to this, I was also advised to avoid red hot showers, parabens, fragrance in products, tea, coffee and sugar. I left the appointment in shock. This was going to be a huge change for a self confessed skin care addict but I was determined to follow the expert advice I’d been given as nothing else had worked up to now.
Three Weeks Later
I’d been trying to shift the irritation on my face since February with zero luck. I don’t know what it is with GPs in the UK, but when it comes to skin care the ones I saw made me feel like a hypochondriac, almost as if I was wasting their time. Fed up of feeling like a lab rat, I decided enough was enough and I was going to see an expert.Three weeks of zero therapy later and all the irritation I had has almost completely disappeared. Unless you got too close for comfort, you wouldn’t see it now. I can’t believe it’s working but it is. My face doesn’t feel too dry or too oily as expected either, it feels fine. I did notice those friendly creases reappear around my eyes after a few days, and so I quickly reintroduced my eye cream. I justified this by following the ‘question everything’ advice I’d been given. No placebo effect there, for me at least.
I haven’t managed to completely abstain from everything he advised either. Remember I’m the girl who can happily sip through up to 12 cups of tea and coffee a day. I managed 5 days of cold turkey before I fell off the wagon with a silky smooth cappuccino and I haven’t noticed a difference since reintroducing it. I am however making a much more conscious effort to substitute traditional tea and coffee for herbal tea and more lemon with hot water. It’s not the real thing but it satisfies my urge to sip something hot.
Is less more?
Multi step skin care regimes didn’t exist in the west until the 1960s. Prior to this women would wash with water, slap a little Ponds moisturiser on and be done with it. We’ve come a long way in a short space of time. Perhaps it’s time to slow down a little and reassess? Simplify even. On this occasion I have well and truly been proven wrong and I’m now convinced I have been using too many products causing unnatural balance in my skin. Killing with kindness springs to mind.
Something I find myself saying time and time again is when people have a problem, they think the answer is to add something when usually the answer is to take something away. I find the fact I hadn’t followed my own advice with this skin care problem really interesting. The reason I hadn’t followed this advice is because I’d taken other people’s advice as concrete truth and never questioned it. I don’t think zero therapy is the answer for everyone suffering with skin problems but I thought a Dermatologist’s opinion combined with my results were worth sharing with you all as food for thought. I think it’s a case of trying different approaches and finding what works for you. My hope is after reading this, you might start doing some questioning too.
I’m really interested to know what your thoughts are on this. Is there such a thing as too many products? I’d love to know what your routines are and whether they work for you.