Beauty regimes: What do you really need?

7 May 2020

Written by: Amaal Mohamud

Brands may urge you to buy their products, but dermatologists will say otherwise.

Online shopping has become one of the fastest growing trends in Australia especially in the beauty and personal care market. Around eight billion Australians over the age of 14 years have made at least one online purchase. The beauty industry has attracted massive exposure with the help of social media platforms such as Instagram and YouTube, as they play a significant role in advertising.

But how far is the beauty industry willing to go when promoting their products?

With brands marketing their products on every major platform, it is extremely hard to ignore their advertisements especially if they take advantage of personalised search engines. It is common for any brand to utilise an individual’s search history to advertise their products, especially young consumers.

A recent University of Nebraska study on the effects of beauty advertising on females found that exposure to these advertisements are essentially harmful to women’s body image, self-esteem, mood, view of self and overall health. The study discovered social comparison was a key factor of these effects as women often compare themselves to the unrealistic standards portrayed in advertisements.

With so many tips and tricks on how to look your best through skincare or makeup and thousands of brands to choose from, it is hard to remember there are actual professionals and medical products to help improve your skin.

Dr Katherine Armour, a dermatologist at The Dermatology institute of Victoria believes that a teenager or a young adult can be able to access skincare regimes without “breaking the bank” and believes overpriced products are “unnecessary”.

“None of us need to spend a fortune on skincare to see good results.  It’s a matter of getting good advice and applying the right active ingredients. As a teenager, these would mainly be sunscreen, a simple moisturiser, and perhaps vitamin B3 (niacinamide) which can combat acne and unwanted pigmentation, as well as look after your skin barrier,” she told upstart.

Dr Armour said teenagers and young adults are often marketed and sold products that don’t suit their skin.

“The main culprits here are toners and foaming cleansers, which are commonly marketed for acne-prone skin. Both products are unnecessary and can damage the skin barrier, causing redness, dryness and inflammation,” she said.

“No one needs to use a toner. Toners are a marketing ploy, which have been around forever, but are essentially just ‘another thing’ that you need to buy.”

Dr Armour believes that the less product you wear the better, but you can never have too much SPF.

“Wear broad-spectrum sunscreen every day, no exceptions.  Even in winter, and on cloudy days, 80-90% of the sun’s ultraviolet light still reaches the earth, and therefore your skin,” she said.

“If you protect your skin now, not only will you decrease your chance of skin cancers later in life, but you’ll avoid wrinkles and unwanted brown patches and spots which I see in heavily sun-exposed patients as early as their 20s and 30s.”

The market generally turns to Australian beauty bloggers and vloggers from these social media platforms to advertise and promote their products.

Professional makeup artist, educator and content creator Neha Hobson said she made the common mistake of going for fancier sounding brand names and impressive packaging before understanding what products work for her.

“There are many categories of results-oriented products and it comes down to identifying which key ingredients and formulations will work for a specific skin concern – not everything will work for everyone,” she told upstart.

When it comes to finding the best support to improve skin care, Hobson encourages a mixture of both skin experts and beauty influencers especially those who have an educated background.

“Ultimately it needs to be a personalised system that works for your specific skin concerns. If you have major concerns that require a systemised approach especially, it’s important to see a skin expert for a consultation,” she said.

“I would encourage young adults to really focus on good and healthy skin. This isn’t about just looking good or looking like your favourite celebrity or idol.”

Although these products are usually advertised to every type of skin, it is also important for consumers to find products that is suited best to their skin.

Hobson said most profit driven businesses will focus more on young adults spending their money. But there is a mixture of brands that will focus on profit while guiding young teenagers to help improve their skin.

“Young adults are now more knowledgeable and empowered than ever to make the right choices for themselves. We live in the information age, with which there are privileges and responsibilities,” she said.


Amaal Mohamud is a second year Media and Communications student (Media Industries) at La Trobe University. You can follow her on Twitter @amaalmvh.

Photo: By Charisse Kenion available HERE and used under a Creative Commons Attribution. The image has not been modified.