I’m a fan of the Stoics. Their founding principle is to attempt to influence only that which we have control over.
Now, what does that have to do with beauty and skincare you might ask? Lots! There are simply some things that we have no business trying to influence with skincare, no matter what clever marketing might tell you. So in today’s post I share some of the areas that are simply not worth your attention, because current treatment options are relatively futile (brutal, I know) - and the one area we should all obsess over!!!
Can Skincare Tighten Your Skin?
NO! We can firm, we can smooth, we can brighten. But we cannot restore a sagging complexion, which is due to degradation and damage to our skin’s limited elastin supply. This is disappointing, I know. So it puts the imperative onto that daily sunscreen habit to protect the elastin we were given against pesky UVA.
Repeat after me - I will protect my elastin at all costs!!!
Can Skincare Volumise Your Skin?
NO! When we talk about volumising the face in the context of my office, we’re referring to replenishing the fat compartments of the face to restore it’s 3-D contours. We naturally lose a lot of facial fat as we age, especially if we’re careful with calories to stay slim. This leads to the appearance of nasolabial folds, jowls and hollowing around the eyes. Creams cannot restore this. So when you read a product label that says it’s volumising, it’s your cue to pop it right back onto the shelf.
Can I shrink my pores?
You can’t!! Your pores are largely a function of genetics and much of their size is determined by your sebaceous glands and their output of oil production (which is governed by your hormones).
So unless you resort to oral oil-reducing measures (with serious medications like Roaccutane) your best bet is keeping them clear of dead skin cells and debris, which tend to make them look larger. Salicylic acid and retinoids are your hero ingredients for this. You can also limit their enlargement over time through UV damage by wearing daily sunscreen, protecting your skin’s collagen stores.
Try to avoid playing “hunt the blackhead” with a magnifying mirror and squeezing - this can lead to distortion of pore architecture, making them look even larger.
Can I solve problems with my cleanser?
NO! Your cleanser is what we call a short contact product. It’s on your skin for a minute at most. This will never be the most efficient way to deliver active ingredients into your skin. It’s also imprecise - try getting benzoyl peroxide on your eye area - not fun, and potentially very drying. It’s also potentially wasteful, as most of that activity is going to get washed down the plug-hole. My advice is to keep cleansing simple and focused one what it’s meant to do - get the grime and oil of the day off your skin and avoid disturbing skin barrier function while you do it. That’s it. Leave the action for carefully dosed and distributed leave-on products that will deliver better bang for your buck!
Does drinking water make skin glow?
It’s such a lovely idea. But NO! There’s no way of trapping hydration in your skin if the skin barrier isn’t in great shape, first and foremost. So eating for glowing skin is actually more important. That means consuming good fats that help build that essential lipid barrier. Think avocado, nuts and maybe a fish oil or flax seed supplement.
What works for stretchmarks? What works for cellulite?
I address these 2 together because they’re the most common body skin concerns, there are heaps of products that claim to address them and nothing actually works. Yes, I know that’s a bit bleak but it’s worth repeating because I cannot bear false hope on such matters. Body brushing may help the appearance of cellulite temporarily - it pops the fat back into its fibrous capsule (but then it eventually tends to fall back out again) and 6 months of prescription tretinoin may improve stretchmarks a little. But nothing over the counter is going to whisk them away, so if you’re pregnant, relax. It’s down to genes. Let’s not waste energy on things we can’t control.
You might be thinking : “This is all quite depressing, Dr Sam. So what is the most important step in my daily skincare routine?”
You’ve heard it twice already in this blog post - daily broad spectrum sunscreen! It’s pointless to build actives into a skincare regime until you’ve got this essential daily habit in place. At least 80% of why we age is preventable - so start it early and make it a non-negotiable, rain or shine.
I personally don’t find this topic bleak - I certainly hope you don’t. If you’re forking over the big bucks for a product that you’re hoping (but perhaps not really believing) will magic away a little jawline droop or buttock dimpling, just press pause and think again. However, if something brings you joy and happiness, spend your cash and revel in that with full awareness - that’s all I ask.