If you're anything like me, TikTok's legion of glass-skinned tastemakers have brainwashed you into believing you need a 37-step skincare routine to have any hope of achieving a flawless, poreless complexion.
From retinols, peptides and ceramides to vitamins, minerals and acids, there's a plethora of skincare products on the market, all touting a myriad of claims. From reversing the signs of ageing to banishing bumps, there's a product for everything - making it incredibly hard to distinguish between what's necessary and what's not, what's a fad and what's actually face-worthy.
According to one of New Zealand's leading dermatologists, the one ingredient everyone should be using is not only readily accessible - it's free (well, pretty much).
Dr Louise Reiche, the chair of the New Zealand Dermatology Research Trust, says as long as we're washing our face with water, most of us don't actually need all the lotions and potions advertised to us by modelesque Instagram influencers and YouTube 'beauty gurus'. That's right - your complex, multi-step evening routine comprising serums, eye cream, mists and masks is simply "rewarding gullibility", Reiche said.
Speaking to The Project on Wednesday, Reiche uttered the very words I had long been trying to deny: "It's essentially depleting your pocket."
"My skincare routine is pretty simple. In the mornings I wash with water, and then apply a lightweight sunscreen, then I'm off to work. In the evening, minimal soap and water... otherwise water does the trick," Reiche revealed.
So you may be wondering: where does the actual skincare come in?
"That comes in from good marketing - and sincere endeavours to try and help your skin be the best it can. But it's essentially rewarding gullibility and depleting your pocket. [These products] create a lot of substance that can go into the waterways, causing a lot of clutter," Reiche said.
"Of course, there are always some tailored treatments, depending on people's skin issues, but as a general rule, the general population doesn't need that stuff."
As it turns out, the skin is pretty good at regulating itself. Crazy stuff.
And for those of us who have seen our parents before us wrinkle and crinkle like prunes - and believe retinols, retinoids and vitamins will save us from the same cruel fate - we're overlooking a pretty crucial element, Reiche noted,
"Your parents were brought up in a generation where it wasn't known or understood that accumulative life exposure to the sun has such an impact on prematurely ageing the skin."
If you do want to minimise and mitigate the signs of ageing as much as possible, it's not so much what you put on your face (aside from sunscreen) as it is what you put in your body.
"If you want to slow down that appearance then having a good diet rich in plant-based foods, drinking water, and protecting your skin from the sun is what's going to stand you in really good stead."
Watch the video above.