If you’re a woman who feels like you’re spending more time in front of the mirror than ever before, you might be right. A recent study by the British beauty store Superdrug reveals that today, women’s beauty routines have an average of 27 steps.1
Yes, that’s a whopping 27 from start-to-finish. At first glance, this number might make you balk. “That’s not me! My skincare routine is only five steps max.” Well, if you add all your makeup steps – primer, foundation, highlighter, contouring, brow pencil, brow wax – that number climbs sharply, and we haven’t even hit eye makeup yet!
From 2006 to 2016: More Mirror Time
The study compared the average beauty routine of women in 2006 with what we are doing today. From start-to-finish the beauty routine today takes an average of 40 minutes. Ten years ago, in 2006, it took only 17 minutes on average. A study by the NIH in 1991 noted, “The typical woman uses as many as 10 to 15 facial cosmetic and cleansing products each day.”2 This suggests that the number of beauty products used was relatively stagnant between 1991 and 2006, with the steep increase occurring in the last decade.
What Accounts for This Change?
The effect of social media is that the lives of the wealthy, of celebrities, are more visible to us now than they have ever been. One of the great landmarks of Twitter is that celebrities no longer need a publicist to speak to their fans – those are now saved for special occasions (like divorce).
This also means that the beauty routines that once evaded us have now been brought into the realm of possibility. Instagram has become the hub of aspirational beauty. We are inundated with pictures of Kylie Jenner over-lining her lips (before she copped to fillers), and we are told that we, too, can achieve celebrity beauty status if we follow these “easy” 27 steps.
It makes sense that these influences would affect the beauty routines of women across the world. After all, we may not be able to hop on a private jet, but with a quick trip to the local beauty store, we can achieve a perfect celebrity makeup contour. Contouring, incidentally, continues to be one of the most popular searches on YouTube, yielding over one million video results – each promising to show you how to get a more perfected, chiseled face.
Superdrug notes in its study that our beauty icons have changed in the last 10 years. Today, it’s mostly Kardashian city. Ten years ago, Sienna Miller was a beauty icon, and she was known for a “no makeup” look that placed more emphasis on skincare.
Not only are customers buying more beauty products, they are also buying more heavy-duty beauty products, like heavy concealers and long-wear foundations.
How to Take Care of Your Skin in a World of Makeup
If a fully-contoured face is something that brings you joy and makes you feel liberated, have at it! But please, remember to take care of your skin. One of the risks of wearing more makeup is that you can end up with clogged pores and more blemishes, which in turn will make you need more makeup. It’s a real Catch-22. You can escape it by taking good care of your skin.
Wash Your Face at the End of Every Day
The best way to take care of your skin is to maintain a steady cleansing ritual at the end of each day. Using a gentle cleanser will remove the dirt and debris, as well as makeup, preventing your skin from getting clogged while you sleep.
When choosing a cleanser, it is best to look for something gentle without any harsh surfactants. Surfactants are the detergents used in some cleansers, and they can strip the skin, leaving it more vulnerable to infections, blemishes, and signs of aging. Choosing a gentle cleanser will remove the dirt and makeup, while leaving the skin nourished.3
As always, don’t forget to moisturize!
One way to avoid wrecking your skin with a multi-step makeup routine is to steer clear of comedogenic products. Comedogenic is dermatology speak for “clogs your pores.” This is especially important for those with oily or acne-prone skin.
In a clinical trial, non-comedogenic products were compared with those that contained comedogenic ingredients. The result for acne-prone skin was that it reduced the rate of “acne cosmetica” from 25 percent to just 5 percent.4
What Does This Mean for The Future?
If you’re worried that the findings of this study mean that you’re doomed to spend an ever-expanding amount of time in front of the mirror, don’t worry. Beauty trends, like all others, come in waves. It is reasonable to deduce that the “made up” look of the moment is in reaction to the “paired down” look from a decade ago. It is likely that people will tire of contouring and return to a more undone look. In fact, it’s already starting to happen.
The No Makeup Look
According to Newton’s Third Law, for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. The same can be said of beauty trends. Who would have guessed?
We’re already seeing a growing movement of women who are embracing the “no makeup” look. Notable proponents of this movement are Alicia Keys, Gabrielle Union, and, most surprisingly, Hillary Clinton seems to be jumping on the bandwagon now.5,6
We’ll have to see what the next ten years brings, but we may find that we’ve forgone “Instagram brows” in favor of eye cream.
1 Women today have 27 STEPS to their makeup routine. Mail Online. 2016. Accessed November 30, 2016.
2 Evaluation of Mild Skin Cleansers. PubMed Journals. 1991.Accessed November 30, 2016.
3 Walters R, Mao G, Gunn E, Hornby S. Cleansing Formulations That Respect Skin Barrier Integrity. 2012.
4 Fulton JE Jr e. Non-comedogenic cosmetics. – PubMed – NCBI. Ncbinlmnihgov. 1976. Accessed November 30, 2016.
5 Lisa Respers France C. The anti-makeup movement in Hollywood. CNN. 2016. Accessed November 30, 2016.
6 Bugbee S. Hillary’s No-Makeup Face As Rorschach Test. The Cut. 2016. Accessed November 30, 2016.