You might not think that skincare is a suitable topic for a Feminism Friday post, but I do have a perfectly good reason for this. My skincare routine began in my teenage years when I looked for a light moisturiser that would stop my skin drying out from the anti-acne products I was using. Most moisturisers were too rich and left my skin greasy again, but then I tried something I’d seen on my Gran’s dressing table – Oil of Ulay beauty fluid. The bottle was glass and the light moisturiser inside was pink. It sunk in to my skin quickly and restored what my Clearasil wash had stripped out. I used it for years until paranoia about the effects of the sun’s rays on my skin led me to try (the same brand, renamed) Olay’s Complete Care. It was essentially the same product but with vitamins and SPF15, providing a little security blanket to reassure me after all the horror stories I’d read about the ageing effects of the sun. I’d spent years looking younger than I was and I became desperate to preserve this.
Then it became clear that the big beauty companies thought that a bit of SPF protection was no longer enough. I entered my 30s and was told that I needed to start looking at anti-ageing moisturisers to stop mother nature in her tracks. These expensive pots of cream could apparently “minimise fine lines”, “halt the signs of ageing” and do all sorts of things with crazy scientific sounding ingredients. I tried free samples of many of these creams and discovered that they were often sticky, over perfumed and my skin hated them. I also had no idea whether paying three times as much for less moisturiser was actually worth it. Do they even work? I decided not to bother with any of it and, after Olay themselves used a digitally retouched image to sell one of their fancy eye creams, realised that I was probably right to be suspicious of these fancy products’ claims.
It annoys me that women are bombarded with advertising for products we supposedly need to help us look young. Because being young is best, right? Wrinkles are nasty looking things on a woman, apparently. I’m fed up of all this nonsense. What a load of utter crap! Getting older is beautiful too, and trying to remain youthful is far better achieved by the activities you undertake – walking, laughing with friends etc – rather than what you put on your skin. That said, I do enjoy the ‘pamper’ aspect of facial skincare. It helps to make me feel like I’m taking time for me. Looking after myself because I want to, not because someone told me I should. I like the way my cleansed and moisturised skin feels. I’ve almost broken my addiction to moisturisers with SPF too, since the lovely team at Liz Earle replied to my email asking why their skincare doesn’t contain any:
“We can confirm that we do not include an SPF in our moisturisers. The reason for this is that to maintain a constant level of protection an SPF needs to be reapplied throughout the day and as a moisturiser is only applied in the morning and evening you would only benefit from the SPF for the first few hours of the day. Therefore we believe it is more effective to apply a separate sunscreen that can be reapplied regularly.”
Since then I’ve picked up a freebie sample of the lovely Palmer’s Daily Calming Facial Lotion and might even be switching to it when my giant bottle of Olay runs out. It’s light, soothing and sinks into my skin really quickly to leave it super soft. It has only one fancy scientific ingredient listed on the packaging and it’s not one that claims to reduce wrinkles, firm your skin or help you look younger. It simply moisturises. That’s really all I wanted in the first place. Beauty products and feminism can work together in harmony, as long as you cut through all the bullshit marketing and focus on what you really need.
UPDATE: Palmer’s Daily Calming Lotion doesn’t seem to be something that I can buy in the UK, so I’m sticking to my tried and tested Olay Complete Care for now. A little bit of SPF and staying out of the sun seems to have helped so far, so I’m going to keep going with my trusted routine!
Main image via By Diamond Geyser‘s Flickr photostream. Second image by lipsticklori.