Should a Good Skincare Routine Be Boring?

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Social media has done the impossible and made skincare routines thrilling — but at what cost to our skin barriers?

Last year, Jordan Samuel Pacitti, aesthetician and founder of Jordan Samuel Skin, posed a question on Instagram: “Why does bad skincare advice gain so much traction on social media?” In the slides that followed, Pacitti answered his own question: “Because skincare — when done right — is often boring. Good skincare is consistent. But doing the same routine day in and day out doesn’t make for compelling content.” And perhaps the most “boring” of all when it comes to a solid skincare routine is that “there are no instant results.”

Dr. Barbara Sturm, founder of the beloved eponymous skincare line, echoes the sentiment. “Usually the quick fixes in a skincare routine cause a lot of inflammation,” she said during a recent visit to Toronto. “These products — think harsh cleansers, masks, exfoliants and scrubs — are popular on TikTok, but they can be catastrophic for your skin barrier, especially if you have sensitive skin.”

Indeed, #SkinTok has a staggering 18.1 billion views on the video app, and search results vary from terrifying-looking at-home peels to promises of instant unclogged pores to fast-acting acne-clearing solutions. It’s enough to make your head spin and your skin barrier disintegrate. But it sure is entertaining.

Good skincare recognizes nuance, says Pacitti. “But the internet is where nuance goes to die,” he laughs over a video call. Pacitti notes the de-influencing trend that became popular on TikTok last year as an example. The movement saw content creators calling out products deemed to be unnecessary buys. De-influencing started as a response to over-consumption and, on #SkinTok specifically, a rejection of over-exfoliation, over-cleansing, overly complicated routines, over-everything.

“It began with good intentions,” says Pacitti. “People…

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