How social media destroyed my skin
Skincare has been having a moment lately – a really big moment.
Everyone wants to have fresh, glowy skin. You can’t scroll down Instagram without seeing a strategically placed ad, or open Twitter without someone’s skincare thread having been retweeted onto your timeline.
As someone who grew up with pretty clear, normal skin, I’d never given skincare much thought – but all of a sudden I felt like I had to. After seeing ridiculously radiant selfies and more and more makeup/skincare hybrid brands promising to clear your skin (and therefore make you more beautiful, because obviously), I got sucked into the world of what I’ve since dubbed “social media skincare.”
It started off innocently enough – adding witch hazel toner to my routine, trying out natural products like African black soap & shea butter moisturizer, and masking – but my newfound skincare obsession quickly grew out of control.
Every it-girl’s favorite skincare brand, Glossier, saturated all my feeds with their millennial pink everything and beautiful models who somehow looked both ethereal and like they’d been snatched off of the NYC sidewalk. A hundred-dollar splurge later, and I, too, could casually Instagram their aesthetically pleasing lip balms and masks. I didn’t really care about what I was putting on my face – if it had a few good reviews and lots of likes, I was sold.
After that, it became a swift downward spiral.
I would order random serums from small businesses I saw with lots of retweets on Twitter or products my favorite Instagram follower posted about. I’d literally search Twitter for “clear skin threads.”
It didn’t help that my friends were just as obsessed as I was: it became a ritual of sorts for us to gather in my college dorm room on the weekends, every new product we’d purchased in tow. I tried charcoal peel-off masks, snail serums, Youtuber-approved spin brushes. You name it, I’d put it on my face and on my Snapchat.
Ironically enough, after only a couple of months of my new “skincare routine,” my once-normal skin became wildly unpredictable.
Some days I’d glow just like the models I wanted so desperately to emulate, and other days I’d wake up with breakouts so nasty I avoided going outside. I had developed a barely-methodical madness with my skin that was a reckless blend of the Korean 10-step skincare routine, a 5-step routine I’d ripped from a girl on Twitter, and tried-and-true tactics my mom taught me. I constantly had new products on rotation, so it became nearly impossible to pinpoint what was making me break out or what products didn’t mix well together.
When I finally decided to streamline my routine and go back to basics a little over a month ago, it felt like I was betraying all the products I’d collected. I mean, how boring is it to tell people your skin secrets are Noxzema and Cetaphil sunscreen? Saying goodbye to my reservoir of masks, oils, and creams killed me – but it was for the benefit of my skin.
Ever since switching back to my old routine, my skin has gradually been calming down and is back to being predictable. It’s boring, but safe! Skincare might be trendy, but just like tattoo chokers and lace-up tops, it’s important to proceed with caution and make sure whatever you want to try works for you – not just your social media feeds.