Are you one of those people who likes to layer your eye cream, neck cream, serum, facial oil, SPF, moisturiser? You may well be wasting your time says ROSIE GREEN.
Great news. You can set your alarm clock five minutes later…
Anyone who has been confronted by shelf upon shelf of beauty products knows that ‘cleanse, tone and moisturise’ now feels as nostalgically simplistic as a phone that, you know, just makes calls. No, now there are serums, masks, oils, primers, moisturizing essences, SPF’s, glycolic soaked pads, vitamin C solutions and more, more, more - all vying right now for your attention. This trend for layering product after product started almost a decade ago and has been ramped up as the beauty industry has increasingly looked East for inspiration. (In Korea and Japan 15 step skincare regimes are de rigueur). Which is great for the companies selling those products. But for your skin? Perhaps not so much.
A-list skin doctor Sam Bunting often sees product overload adversely affecting her patients' skin and she and other experts agree that by removing too much oil or adding too much moisture you can confuse it and cause it to overcompensate.
Not only that, skin scientists report ingredient clashes can be harmful too. For instance, if you layer anti-ageing powerhouse retinol with alpha hydroxy acids (like glycolic and lactic) it will cause irritation. Whilst using benzoyl peroxide alongside retinol will deactivate it, as alpha-hydroxy acids will vitamin C.
The truth is your skin can only take so much. Too much moisture, too many barrier depleting scrubs, too much multi-masking - it can all lead to inflammation, which in itself is ageing and redness inducing. The two concerns women are often trying to beat.
Dr Bunting routinely prescribes a ‘rationalization’ of patient’s skincare regimes, stripping away the layers that are not needed, so their skin can regain its natural equilibrium. It’s a wise move. As a beauty editor, I always say just because a product category exists, doesn’t mean you have to use it. You don’t need a vanity case bulging with products, just four or five that work for you and your type.
Coco Chanel once said elegance was ‘refusal.’ I say great skin is often about what you don’t apply.
Rosie Green is an award-winning freelance beauty journalist whose work has appeared in Red, Elle, Vogue, The Times and The Mail