Is Perfect Skin The Enemy Of Healthy Skin?

Skincare is the latest buzzword for anyone in the beauty and lifestyle business. Throwback to a decade ago and we were sold the idea that we could make our skin better by using this foundation, concealer, powder and blush combo to create that effortless youthful glow. Now, while movements like body positivity and owning the skin you live in have become popular narratives, it’s revered to flaunt your own skin – yet we are still sold images of women with “natural” youthful glows all in part to this miracle ingredient, or that age-defying product, which you obviously need if you don’t want to become a saggy, dull-skinned woman who looks her age. 

Photography by Ricky Rozay of Zahara Davies.

It’s a cultural practice to now share the products you use with your followers, invest in 9-step Korean skincare regimes and watch videos of those we envy using a simple water, soap and moisturiser combo, believing that that’s what we need to have perfect skin just like them. The hashtag #skincare has been used a staggering 65.2 million times, and #skincareroutine an impressionable 12.3 million times – so where has this obsession come from and why do we succumb to it as consumers? 

Marketing of women’s bodies has always been problematic. Women who are anything but what the advertisements show are an issue and to solve said issue said product must be used. Women (and men) are fed false ideas, that we are not enough and so we need to purchase and use something to make sure that we are. When it comes to skin health there are very few products that promise to make an individual’s skin healthy and unique to them; instead, it’s about getting that glow, porcelain, poreless skin. Hormonal acne becomes a problem to be solved, texture becomes abnormal, the look of pores to be banished, and wrinkles? Ha, forget about it. 

Women are not supposed to look their age, and to ask a woman her age is rude if she is over the age of 30, or flattering if she is over 60. Anti-ageing, peep the language, is now another thing that women should fear, and of course, should be prevented at all costs. Who cares if your fine lines are an indication that you bring joy and happiness to people’s lives, or that you’ve lived a life with stories to tell and wisdom to share, we are constantly marketed to, on and offline, that it’s something bad and thus should be avoided. 

Often times, the skincare and the anti-ageing industry is only for the wealthy and privilege making it even more so that if you can afford to look younger than you are, why not do it. Teen influencers barely hitting the 20-year-old benchmark are taking their impressionable fanbase along to hydra-facial appointments, or to get fillers done because again, why not stop ageing before it’s even happened. 

So how do we as modern women combat this? I’m no stranger to a k-beauty product or a Hyram video, but I do think I have educated myself well enough on my own skin to know what works for it. I think through encouraged research and education, women can learn what their definition of perfect skin is for them. I reached out to the women in my network (special thanks to Fatima, Esther, Alicia, Luna, Fani and Alisha) and every single one of them defined perfect skin as “healthy skin”, skin that demonstrates that you take care of yourself – you are watered and well-fed with the nutrients to make your skin thrive. Let’s face it, products are marketed to get the unattainable so that you keep buying them. Get out of that trap and find out what your skin actually needs. And if you don’t believe me, take the words of the three incredible women below, all experts in their field when it comes to skincare! 

+ Alicia Lartey, Biomed student and training aesthetician.

Alicia is the ultimate skincare guru! With the information that comes from a scientific level, she shares and reviews products for her followers, as well as educating them on the plethora of ingredients we are faced with every day. 

Her take on ‘perfect’ skin:

“Perfect skin is an oasis that consumers become lost in and brands continue to create. I think chasing porcelain perfect skin is not the best and it would be better to instead speak about what is perfect for you. My idea of perfect is skin that is well hydrated and doesn’t cause me physical pain.

Her take on skin-acceptance:

“There are so many brands and cosmetics out there that have convinced you that their products are the best; in life, you have to convince yourself that you are the best and sell that to the world. Come to terms with your flaws or natural state privately and it makes the world a brighter place.”

Fani Mari, freelance beauty and lifestyle journalist.

Fani uses her online platform to share her experiences around lifestyle and skincare. She offers product reviews on her page as well as self-healing posts about acceptance. 

Her take on ‘perfect’ skin:

“HEALTHY skin. Not clear, not smooth and poreless. But healthy and depending on the individual skin type/person.”

Her take on marketing:

“Brands have to sell a lifestyle, I get that, but people are tired. We want reality in the mix. You want to see yourself represented (this goes from skin/body and of course race) and finally, brands are listening. Especially smaller ones.”

Her tips on skin acceptance:

Take it a day at a time, talk positively about your skin in the present tense. Even if it seems silly at first! Try “I love my skin and my appearance”. And I’d say if you’re feeling terrible, that’s fine too. Just feel it and let it go.”

Alisha Myer, Aesthetician and laser/skin specialist.

Alisha is a certified in cosmeceutical skincare so her knowledge in the field is superior. She believes that skincare products can have benefits but it’s important to understand and know your skin first. 

Her take on ‘perfect’ skin: 

“Perfect skin doesn’t exist but healthy skin does! Everyone’s goal should be to have healthy skin. Healthy skin is even in tone, hydrated, smooth, strong, radiant and free from disease (or common skin concerns such as acne). Some skin concerns cannot be cured (such as acne) but can be controlled. The key is to use the right ingredients in your products and have a consistent effective skincare routine to achieve skin health.

Her take on beauty standards:

“We are bombarded with images of celebrities and models who appear to have perfect skin. Even the influencers are jumping on the bandwagon. We live in a world where people prefer to use filters than to show their imperfections. In today’s society, people often use makeup and apps to airbrush their skin, to achieve a flawless complexion. It’s not real. Perfect skin doesn’t exist!”

Her tips on skin acceptance:

  1. Love yourself, even your flaws! Look in the mirror (bare skin) and get comfortable with what you see. 
  2. Don’t compare yourself to others. You are unique and wonderfully made. Your journey is yours so own it and embrace it. 
  3. Get professional skincare advice from someone who is qualified. There are so many treatment options to help you achieve healthy skin/ treat any conditions you may have.
  4. Societies standard of beauty is an illusion! Don’t let other people’s insecurities or beliefs affect your confidence or your own beliefs. 
  5. Try to minimise (or avoid) using filters or airbrushing your photos/ videos.  
  6. Perfect skin doesn’t exist but healthy skin does. Always aspire to have healthy skin. 
  7. Skin changes! Our hormones, lifestyle, environment, age, health, medication etc can all change the way our skin behaves. 
  8. Be compassionate and loving towards yourself!

The content we provide is only for information purposes, it does not substitute for professional advice, and consultation. Opinions are only of the contributor, interviewer or interviewee.

You May Also Like