Can Beauty Be THIS Basic?

By Andrea Karim on 5 January 2007 (Updated 10 June 2007) 7 comments

The NY Times has an online article that will probably get the reporter, Natasha Singer, killed by a contract assassin employed by Lancôme or La Mer (you remember that scene at the beginning of Zoolander, where all the heads of major fashion houses are plotting to kill the prime minister of Malaysia? Kind of like that, but with one of the Lauders at the helm).

The basic message of the article is that you can pretty much care for your skin using soap, water, and sunscreen. If this turns out to be true, I imagine that the Earth is about to careen into the sun any minute now.

They [dermatologists] are prescribing simplified skin-care routines requiring at most three steps: soap; sunscreen every day, no matter the weather or the season; and, if necessary, a product tailored to specific skin needs, whether a cream for pimples or pigmented spots, or a vitamin-enriched moisturizer for aging skin. Each product, they say, can be bought at drugstores for $30 or less.

Actually, this is the skincare regime that I employed when I was growing up, and I was blessed with clear skin until I was 25, when I suddenly started breaking out all over the place like Puberty Boy on The Simpsons. Since then, I've spent a fortune on washes, creams, potions, lotions, astringents, removers, exfoliators, and finally, ProActiv (I bought the starter pack, which got rid of my pimples, but also caused my face to be red and scaly for two weeks - I can now only use the treatment once a week or so).

Anyway, I've been thinking for a while about getting rid of the mess that is my skin care regimen and try the whole wash-n-sunscreen method, but I was dreading the thought of not being able to smell the sweet, sweet scent of my Shiseido freckle-reducing cream. It's all a part of learning to fake luxury, I suppose.

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Lynn Truong's picture

i think it's being a bit simplistic to say all you need is a cleanser, sunscreen, and 1 more product. if you started this regiment at 10 years old, then all you'll need for the rest of your life are these 3 items. but the fact is that most of us weren't so careful with our skin back in the day, and that means the sun damage is starting to only now appear (sun damage takes 10+ years to show up) and that means we need to do maintenance and repair our skin now.

that doesn't mean i think it's worth spending hundreds of dollars on a miracle-in-a-jar. lots and lots of products out there don't do anything. and lots of cheap products work for most people (my bf's sister has flawless skin and she uses oil of olay because anything else breaks her out). but at the same time, much research and technology has gone into effective skin treatments and products that will truly help with the sun damage we've accrued. for example, there are moisturizers that will make you feel less dry because you're slapping oil onto your skin (basically the same as vaseline), or there are moisturizers that actually use vitamins and nutrients that will go into your skin and help it produce its own oil from within to moisturize. there are cleansers that strip your skin of everything - good and bad oil - and there are cleansers that will get rid of the dirt and makeup but will be gentle as to not strip and irritate your skin.

in the end, your skin will be the best judge of skin care effectiveness. within 1 month of using the product, if you don't see and feel results, it's not doing anything. if you notice you get whiteheads, blackheads, or other breakouts, it's most likely something you are using that's causing it (usually makeup will be the culprit). it's hard to filter through all the advertising promises and jargon but do a little research from non-biased sites and you'll find there are a few proven and accepted ingredients that work and that's all you need to look for when shopping for a product.

not that i'm trying to say i know more than these dermatologists - the recommendation is certainly not harmful - but it kinda sounds like more marketing talk "I won't make you spend hundreds of dollars on products. Only these 3 will be necessary..."

it's true that more is not better, but it's misleading to say that if we, as twenty-thirty something women just start cleansing and sunscreening that we'll keep our skin just as nice as if we were using other specialized products.

Andrea Karim's picture

According to the article, some studies had found that cheaper products worked as well as, if not better than, the pricey ones. And they admit that people are more likely to use the expensive products.

I'm not throwing my stuff out yet - I'm just wondering if it's worth the money. Plus, I thought nothing could get rid of sun damage? Besides peels and laser treatments, that is?

Lynn Truong's picture

vitamin C and A have been shown to do wonders for sun damaged skin. vitamin A does on a much smaller scale what peels do - tries to stimulate the renewal of skin cells by getting rid of skin cells on your top layer. the older we get, the slower our skin cell renewal cycles go. so it takes a lot longer for new cells to come up to the surface and replace old and damaged ones. exfoliating regularly and using products with vitamin A will help your skin's renewal cycle ramp up. (vitamin A can be irritating so start at low potency levels first). and of course, a good non-oily/irritating broad spectrum sunblock (most sunscreens only protect against UVB but it's the UVA rays that cause skin cell damage) is a must have in any skin care regiment.

antioxidants are also crucial in preventing more damage - whether you eat foods high in them or use products that have them.

i def don't buy the hype of expensive products being better. it's just as difficult to distinguish an effective product at a drugstore or a department store.

Andrea Karim's picture

God, I wish I had known about the UVA/UVB difference. I went tanning last year to clear up some blemishes, and the woman who sold me the Ultra High Pressure Tanning Package told me that UVAs were GREAT for your skin, and that's what the High Pressure beds offered!

One year later, I look five years older. Vitamin A, here I come.

Guest's picture
Guest

I think a website like this is useful to cut through the crap: http://www.cosmeticscop.com/learn/art.asp?ID=29

I've had acne all my adult life and spent a fortune on just about every brand of anti-acne skincare in existence. Dermologica, Biotherm, MD Formulations; you name it, I've used it. I used to have regular facials, peels, microdermabrasion, sometimes they'd give me electric rods to hold and 'pass electricity' through my skin (god know what that was about).

And while it did contain the acne somewhat, for the amount of money I was spending, I sure wasn't getting my worth.

Then I read a book by Paula Begoun, tossed out the expensive products and have moved to just Cetaphil cleanser and moisturiser as well as Differin - which is prescribed medication, and you know what? My skin has never looked better.

Don't be a dumb consumer. Don't fall for the pretty advertising & the wild claims. To reiterate another commenter's point, do your own research on what actually works and doesn't. Just because it costs a whole lot more doesn't mean it's better. It just means cosmetic companies think they can get away with charging you more by appealing to your sense of egotism and elitism etc.

Guest's picture

It's very good. I got lot of information from this site. You are doing great work..The topic which you have discussed is very informative. I have very much enjoyed reading these entries!
Acne in many term blackheads and whiteheads, pimples, and even deeper lumps. Which occur on the face, neck, chest, back, shoulders and even the upper arms. Acne affects everyone mostly teenagers. However, this disease is not restricted to any age group; adults in their 20s - even into their 40s - can get acne. While not a deadly disease, acne can be upsetting and disfiguring. When severe, acne can lead to serious and permanent scarring.
So, proper choosing of acne cream/cleansing can suit the type of skin that leads to a very nice good looking outcome.

Guest's picture

Great article, nice read, thank you