Does perfect skin have a price tag?

Since lockdown, people have been paying more attention to their skin, with self-care becoming increasingly promoted. The importance of taking time to treat your skin is now being stressed, rather than the use of makeup to cover it up. Even the celebrities that appear on Vogue’s YouTube series ‘Beauty Secrets’ emphasise the value of taking care of your skin and your wellbeing, to ensure a healthy base for the application of makeup. However, does privilege underly these statements? It’s all well and good to praise certain products and lifestyle choices for ensuring skin health, but these might not be as accessible for the regular person as it is for celebrities and influencers, whose faces we see daily.

Vogue’s ‘Beauty Secrets’ allows viewers an insight into the kinds of products and beauty tips and tricks that their favourite influencers use. Some of the time, the celebrities surprisingly use the same products as many of us, and their advice can be incredibly helpful as they draw from their experiences with professionals. Nonetheless, they have access to the highest quality skincare treatments, and it shows. Take Billie Eilish’s video: as she wipes away her makeup, her skin appears completely clear underneath, and she praises Biba de Sousa for her skin transformation. But Biba’s products price at $40-50, which, while slightly more affordable than other products celebrities hail as the holy grail of skincare, is too expensive for many, especially when Billie uses six of these as part of her routine. It raises the question: is her clear skin out of the question for someone who can’t spend $250 on skincare?

Victoria’s Secret models shared their beauty tips in an Elle article, emphasising the importance of diet and exercise, and drinking water throughout the day, for healthy skin. They neglect to mention, though, Mzia Shiman, who tends to the skincare of the models and whose facials at her New York spa price from $200. It isn’t purely the benefits of water that give these models their glow.

There’s also the problem in the UK that we don’t have nearly as many dermatologists as the US. As a result, those who do get ready access to professional advice, without having to be put on endless waiting lists, are typically those with money; influencers whose platforms are based upon their appearance receive treatments that the average person likely isn’t even aware of.

However, Skin+Me recognises the shortage of dermatologists in the UK, and so provides a free initial consultation with a dermatologist, followed by prescriptions based on the results and ongoing check-ins as part of its subscription of £24.99 per month, cancellable anytime. Therefore, professional advice isn’t completely out of reach. The subscription price is still very costly, especially for students, but is a lot cheaper than consulting a dermatologist by other means.

Vogue recently interviewed dermatologists on their skincare routines, and while of course there were ridiculously expensive products listed, surprisingly names that many of us are familiar with like CeraVe and La Roche-Posay cropped up frequently. If even the professionals are recommending these products, then it’s clear that good skincare isn’t reserved for the rich and famous. Drugstore skincare products are growing in quality as people become more skin-conscious — ingredients like retinol and salicylic acid are now familiar and accessible, thanks to affordable brands like The Inkey List and The Ordinary. There’s an increasing blend between the products the average consumer uses, and the products that celebrities, influencers, and dermatologists use and recommend.  

Furthermore, while it’s irksome to hear Victoria’s Secret models hail water and exercise and neglect to mention their luxury treatments, it is true that lifestyle habits are an essential aspect of taking care of your skin. Keeping hydrated, wearing SPF, and eating healthily (limiting sugar, getting high-quality proteins, eating plenty of fruit and greens) are all lifestyle choices that are very doable, and are crucial for skincare.

So, whilst the blemish-free skin seen on ‘Beauty Secrets’ videos owes a good deal to the money that celebrities can put into their skincare products and professional treatments, there are now more affordable skincare options that allow many of us to take care of our skin without breaking the bank. Nonetheless, it’s important to recognise that skincare is still a privilege, and is often an investment of time and money.


Featured image: Anna Shvets on Pexels

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