beauty begins the moment you decide to be yourself. ~ Coco Chanel

Do you ever wish the beauty world would quit the marketing hype and dish some straight talk about skin? I still remember how many articles there used to be about coconut oil as the panacea for all that ails us, kinda like the way the dad used Windex on everything from zits to bad moods in the sleeper hit My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Then later, once we faithfully followed their advice and smeared ourselves in jars of coconut oil, we discovered that it isn’t actually the best option for facial skin—nor is Windex for that matter.

If you’re one of those people (like me!) who is forever intrigued by the latest discovery that the beauty editors are swearing by—then read on. Eventually, I learned that the goal of a beauty editor is not to find you something that will work, but to sell magazines. It’s the same with online beauty sites, except they’re eager for you to click on their links, so they bait us with attention-generating headlines that are rarely followed by solid content.

When these sites recommend a product, it’s likely that it landed on the writers’ desks only a few days earlier with instructions to come up with a promotional piece about it after rubbing it on their hands once or twice. There’s a slim chance they ever really put it to the test before the deadline. It goes back to the quote I used by Adina Grigore here that most of our skincare advice comes from someone trying to sell us something…and I might add, someone who doesn’t really understand how skin works.

Now I make sure to fact check with these questions before buying into their advice. Ultimately, I trust my intuition more than ever, so if something sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. Plus skin is so personal and so condition specific, most generic advice needs to be read with a strong filter.  I could have saved myself a pile of money by not buying into their consumer traps!

What’s the one thing you wish the beauty mags would tell us about skincare but don’t?

For this post, I asked six knowledgable skincare experts for the one thing they wish the press would talk about when it comes to skincare—but don’t. I selected this panel of experts based on the type of advice they do give. It’s the stuff the mainstream media don’t want you to know because it would actually stop you from hypnotically clicking the shop button. That’s not to say that you’re going to want to stop shopping (my husband’s dream come true!). Actually, they help you consume intelligently, without throwing away your dollars on the latest fad.

Here’s what these wise skintrepreneurs had to say to my question. I thank each of them for their contribution to this post.


Nadine Artemis, Living Libations: skin type hype

An oily t-zone, sensitive, dry, or acne prone skin… if you feel some insecurity or dissatisfaction about your skin, know that the cosmetics industry markets to these worries with their skin type hype. These are not skin types but symptoms! Symptoms vary from subtle to severe, yet they all point toward skin microbiome imbalance. For more about this topic, here’s the full post.
Discover Living Libations here.

Ava Zhan, Earthwise Beauty: topical treatment fails and what to do next

There is a group of customers whose skin problems do not go away despite trying different products, internal supplements, and even medication. While a highest quality organic skin-care regime can make a huge difference for many types of skin concerns, if the external steps do not work, or do not work permanently, it means that the issues come from an internal health imbalance. Acne, eczema, excessive oil production, extreme skin dryness, deep premature wrinkles can often be corrected with the help of an experienced alternative medicine practitioner.

My favorite modalities that I have seen truly help are:

  • Chinese acupuncture in conjunction with practitioner-prescribed Chinese herbs
  • Naturopathy (naturopaths can test for heavy metals, fungi, bacteria, and allergies)
  • Homeopathy (the stubborn acne I suffered from in my late twenties and early thirties cleared after my first homeopathic treatment)
  • Flower essence treatment (this is a relatively unknown, emerging field, but experienced practitioners do exist; particularly helpful if long-standing skin issues may be related to trauma or our emotions).

I am not advocating for self-selecting herbs for a range of reasons. One: it is hard to be objective and select for ourselves. Two: a practitioner can make a diagnosis, and this way save us money in the long run and achieve results faster.  And three: there is lots of misinformation regarding herbs. That is why it is best to leave the prescribing to someone who has studied herbalism formally.

Discover Earthwise Beauty here, Aqne Pharmacy

Vered Back, Vered Organic Botanicals: chronic conditions

Chronic diseases cause imbalance in the body after a while and create lack of minerals and vitamins in big quantities that can take up to a year to replenish. That can cause lack of elasticity in the skin, droopy skin, and dry and itchy skin.
Another big one is parasites and fungal candida in the body. So you see people with rashes that are trying all kinds of topical [treatments] that don’t help because you need to take anti-parasites meds, and I would do herbs that are anti-parasitic and anti-fungal herbs. Then detox well so it won’t circulate back in your body.
I don’t read a lot of magazines so I don’t know what they are talking or not talking about. But I have a feeling parasites are not one of them.
Discover Vered Organic Botanicals hereCredo Beauty, The Detox Market, I Am a Natural Store

Celestyna Higgins, Moss Skincare: ingredients and results

What I wish magazines talked about: INGREDIENTS and RESULTS. I guess that’s two things. Sorry, I’m bad at following instructions. For ingredients, I still see a huge lack of knowledge, especially with the “unsexy” ingredients like emulsifiers, stabilizers and preservatives. People will write to me confusing cetearyl alcohol with cetyl alcohol (not the same thing). They will also confuse these (since they contain the word “alcohol”) with the alcohol that MOST people think of when they hear the word alcohol: the drying, antiseptic liquid. Cetearyl alcohol is actually a white, waxy, solid material used as an emulsifier and emollient —it is the opposite of drying! There are a TON more examples I can give, but that’s just one. Another area that can be addressed is when people will choose a less safe/less effective/less pleasant “natural” option over a more safe/more effective/more pleasant synthetic option—I don’t care if you do, but know why you’re doing it and what the actual risks/context/environmental impact actually is.  I would love magazines to maybe include an ingredient spotlight section every month—the same way they do horoscopes. Just a brief paragraph each for 3-10 ingredients, their uses, etc. But that’s boring, especially if the ingredients are not sexy new actives. Not good magazine fodder.

With results, I think people need to be realistic about what skincare can achieve and the commitment required to get there, especially for certain more serious skin issues. If you are looking to reverse hyperpigmentation for example, and you are not religiously applying sunscreen and using your fading serum ultra consistently, you will not see results. And even if you ARE doing these things, there is a MINIMUM of 8 weeks before you see ANY signs of progress. For many people it’s 16 weeks. Most people give up way before then or just don’t use the products consistently enough. For actual scars, it can take 6 months to a year to see progress with ultra consistent use. For acne, there can be a lot of kerfuffle at the beginning sometimes—purging, etc.—before the skin settles and gets better. All acne products should be given a trial run of minimum 6 weeks, preferably 12 and people should not get discouraged if the skin gets worse—that is actually good—it is the unseen congestion in the skin finally clearing and coming to the surface. It can take 60 days or longer for the skin to metabolize toxins or congestion. The way I see people using skincare is a whole different routine every single day. Trying something once or using it only once in a while is like only taking a supplement once in a while—you might as well be doing nothing. The skincare suffers too since it is not used consistently, it sits around, ages, loses potency. Our approach to our skin becomes reactive instead of preventative. Issues develop and we apply skincare to resolve them instead of prevent them, which leads to overuse of things like spot treatments, acids, lasers (ie “quick” fixes)—most of which are quite harsh on the skin. I think it’s a losing battle though—our attention spans are so short now, and the hunger for novelty and trend-setting so intense. We are unable to commit, which prevents us really discovering the potential of a product. I definitely don’t think magazines will ever tell people to stop buying and trying new skincare all the time.
Discover Moss Skincare here and on Aqne Pharmacy, BeauTeaBarIntegrity Botanicals, Seed to Serum

Jacine Greenwood, Roccoco Skincare: the truth about oil cleansing

It would be that cleansing oils just based on natural oils don’t actually clean your skin sufficiently, especially for acne prone skin.
There are many cleansing oils on the market.  The majority use oils that are comedogenic and an issue for acne prone skins, however even worse than this is that the formulas don’t effectively remove makeup, etc.  The reason why is that vegetable oils are what is referred to as polar and they can’t remove waxy residues.  You require a non-polar emollient to do that.  In the quest for natural, this has been forgotten.  In nature, there doesn’t exist a non-polar vegetable oil, which means that those with acne skins keep breaking out and those with normal to dry skins get product and makeup left on their skin creating inflammation and aging them faster.
Discover Roccoco here  and on Aqne Pharmacy

Laurel Shaffer, Laurel Whole Plant Organics: sourcing ingredients

The most important thing that comes to mind for me is ingredient quality, and it is almost never discussed.  Antioxidants have a shelf life, and once antioxidants oxidize—they are then free radicals.  This makes a product or ingredient not only less effective – but actually HARMFUL to our skin.  This is true for carrier oils (like rosehip seed, borage, and olive), it’s true for essential oils (like chamomile and grapefruit), and it’s true for all dried plants as well (like calendula flowers, petals, and nettle leaves).  All of these ingredients in the natural bulk cosmetic world are almost always inadequate by our standards of antioxidant content and freshness.  Even the ingredients that we get super fresh from our own farm suppliers we have to very carefully vet before using, and store with great care to best preserve their antioxidant content.  Sometimes even the best sources provide us with ingredients that I can tell have some heat or oxidization damage, and therefore will not produce the results I am looking for.  I often hear from customers that it would be so much more affordable to make a facial mist or facial serum on their own—or wondering why some brands are so much more expensive than others.  I believe sourcing is a valid reason to spend more on something.  If efficacy is the most important thing to a consumer, and I get it isn’t for all consumers, but if that is priority one for someone—then they have to be asking a brand about their sourcing to get the results from a product they are looking for.

Discover Laurel Whole Plant Organics here, Beauty Heroes, BeauTeaBar, The Detox Market, Integrity BotanicalsSeed to Serum,


What are some other skincare truths you wish the press would start talking about? How about less hype and more substance?

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