Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says skincare is her ‘hobby’. She’s not alone


In the post on Sunday Ocasio-Cortez listed her skincare routine while also outlining how she keeps her skin clear when working in a very stressful job.

The line-up?

The aforementioned double cleansing (once to get the grime of the day off, the second to really get into your pores), toning, active ingredients such as vitamin C (for brightening and treating pigmentation), retinol (good for anti-ageing as it stimulates new skin cell production) and wearing sunscreen every day (the best form of anti-ageing prevention yet).

Ocasio-Cortez also revealed that skincare is “a straight up hobby of [hers]”.

“I’m a science nerd, and I truly enjoy the science of it, reading about compounds and studies, etc,” she said.

She’s not alone in this. You don’t need to spend much time online (or giving friends travelling overseas extensive shopping lists for their trip to millennial mega-brand Glossier) to find communities of skincare obsessives sharing memes about their chosen form of “self-care”.

Meanwhile it’s a cinch to find places to watch a model’s “nine-step” night-time skincare routine from the comfort of your bed, and there is a whole genre of “bathroom shelfies” to satisfy any true skincare obsessive.

It kind of seems like everybody is obsessed with their skincare regime right now. And maybe they are. According to market research group NPD prestige beauty products are up 16 per cent, compared to 8 per cent the previous year.

In terms of vices, skincare is a relatively harmless one (apart from to your wallet). Maybe before social media made it completely acceptable to post a sheet mask selfie it might have been thought a little vain (a rather quaint and ineffectual insult in the era of the personal brand we’re living in now, really).

Plus, more than ever we’re all in need of downtime and there’s something quite meditative about the ritual of applying serums.

But, is it actually good for your skin to make skincare your hobby?

Dr Eleni Yiasemides, consultant dermatologist at SouthDerm, cautions against getting swept up in the hype of products, especially if skincare is your “hobby”. And, yes, she says you can overdo it.

“This can lead to irritation, sensitivities, allergic reactions and intolerance to certain ingredients. Dermatitis may result in skin which is uncomfortable, red, scaly and itchy. So less is often best when it comes to how many products you apply to your skin,” she says.

Melanie Grant, facialist and owner of Melanie Grant Skin Health agrees, adding that making things too complex will often mean you won’t stick with it.

“Skincare is best when kept simple: a couple of active and purpose-driven products that will work hard to protect, enhance and improve the condition of skin. You can use the most expensive products in the world and you will still be taking two steps back if you’re layering incorrectly or overzealously using products,” she says.

Grant suggests a rule of thumb with skincare should be trying a product or routine for at least four weeks to examine the effect it has on your skin (though stopping immediately if you react negatively). Chopping and changing too often can be detrimental, as can being too free and easy with active ingredients which can cancel each other out, or worse, if used incorrectly.

“The most effective skincare are not the most expensive products and steps, rather the ones that make the most of efficacious and potent ingredients that cater towards your specific skin type and concerns,” she says.

“A good regime need only consist of a cleanser, an antioxidant and corrective serum, a moisturiser and of course a broad spectrum sunscreen.”

So yes, skincare can be your hobby, but the consensus among experts and anybody who has used themselves as a human guinea pig is to do your research beyond the marketing hype and try to understand the ingredients used in products and what they’re used for.

In other words: make like Alexandria Ocasio-Corte, a woman who reminds us that it’s OK to be deeply invested in both universal healthcare and your skin’s hydration levels.

Annie Brown is a lifestyle writer at The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

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