Social media has been a great democratizing force in the beauty industry. It encourages progress toward a more inclusive definition of beauty, and it affords the average consumer a truly unprecedented level of access to brands and product knowledge. We’re more informed than ever before. And yet, this information makes us even more aware of what we lack. Social media breeds FOMO, and it’s messing with your skin.
FOMO, or “fear of missing out,” changed the way we shop. Following brands, influencers, or even just beauty-conscious friends on social media has keyed us in to the constant parade of new product launches. Buying a shiny, new product feels like a way to participate in the beauty community. Unfortunately, this leads to plenty of people trying to integrate unnecessary products into their routines. It’s overkill.
I frequently see people in my practice over-processing and over-stimulating their skin. I can’t help but wonder, how much of this is stemming from Instagram FOMO? It’s a vicious cycle, starting with brands launching these highly active products with extraordinary concentrations of retinol or exfoliating acids. Influencer posts and brand marketing for the product make it seem like a must-have. It starts to feel like everyone else is already using (and raving about) the newly released product. So why shouldn’t you? Lather, rinse, and repeat until you have dozens of lotions and potions and sensitized skin.
For starters, let’s look at the culture of conspicuous consumption. Success on platforms like YouTube and Instagram depends so much on new content—new products, new hauls, and new reviews. It’s good for business, but it’s not an accurate depiction of how people achieve great skin. I’m happy to see more brands and influencers following FTC guidelines on sponsored content specifically because it makes the average consumer more aware that these relationships are transactional. The whole goal is to get you to buy the product.
Once you do buy it, you have to figure out how it fits into your routine. Do you already have something similar? Is this active serum or exfoliant going to be too much for your skin to handle, especially if you’re using other actives? Is it even a good fit for your skin type? Ideally, these are all questions you would ask before your purchase. If you wait until after, you may just try to shoehorn it in to your existing routine. Instead, try to create a more mindful skin regimen. Every product should have purpose, and that purpose should suit your skin’s unique needs and level of sensitivity.
All this is to say: please, knock it off! Stop adding unnecessary steps. Over-stimulating your skin with too many new products won’t make it better—it will probably make it worse. Consider a “less, but better” approach and be consistent with it. Your skin will thank you!