Is Marketing Skincare As “Self-Care” Destructive?

When do we ever associate the two?


Hanna Hunstad

3 years ago | 4 min read

Think back to the last time you “practiced self-care.” Was there a skincare product involved?

Have you been promised confidence and self-esteem at the bottom of a moisturizer, from sprays of toner, or with use of a newly released face mask? While self-care, self-acceptance, and self-confidence are top of mind these days, it is no surprise that marketers are taking advantage.

With each product, comes a solution. But for something to require a solution, it must first be a problem. A classic chicken or the egg question… I’m curious to know, what came first: your skincare “problem” or product?

Isn’t it ironic that an industry built on solution-oriented products has turned into the spokesperson for self-care?

There is no doubt that the ritual and practice of skincare can be soothing, quality time to connect with yourself. But as I push past products in my cabinet, reaching for the seventh step of my routine, I question the ways my internal dialogue has changed since the implementation of steps three through nine in my regimen.

Instead of face wash then moisturizer, I now have a toner, essence, spot treatment, under-eye cream, oil, moisturizer, and finishing spray. Each product I purchased with the intent to solve an issue, improve the look of my skin, and in turn, boost my self-confidence.

What once was a more simple, minimalist approach to skincare is now a tactical, consistent effort. Every day is a check-in with qualitative results driven by appearance and appearance alone. Each step starts and ends with a close look in the mirror with minute notes-to-self about the outcomes or lack thereof. Me vs. me.

This Cycle Is a Far Cry From Self-Care

We’re constantly being pushed with products and new things to try. Initially exciting, buyer’s remorse kicks in once we realize that our product is inadequate and irrelevant. It seems like a short month ago hyaluronic acid was a hydration-must but now if I want supple skin I need plant-derived squalene.

Economically speaking, of course, I care about the results

According to a study done in 2017, the average woman spends about $313 per month on her appearance. With how much more saturated the beauty/skincare market is, I shudder to think what that spend is now. So for my money’s sake, I expect a positive change.

Before the end of your product’s lifecycle, a new, improved, sexier solution is on your Instagram feed, in your friend’s make-up bag, and featured in Sephora’s newsletter.

Shouldn’t self-care be accompanied by the “best” products for me? Although ingredients majorly attribute to efficacy, they are practically a form of social currency these days. Haven’t heard about squalene? Me neither, until I purchased my latest sleep mask.

I’ve also found it particularly stressful being blasted with solutions to problems I didn’t even know I had

I used to look in the mirror and think, “nice, no breakouts!” Now it sounds more like, “Okay slight under-eye bags, pores could be smaller, and it looks like I have early signs of wrinkles from smiling often and squinting every now and then.”

There’s no denying that there is some truth to the “look good, feel good” mentality. But, this mentality is shaped by an individual’s self-esteem rather than their actual appearance. No elixir or serum will truly change deeper-rooted insecurities. It seems, though, there is a product that will mask, pun intended, real underlying issues. Some explicitly labeled “Hope in a Jar” or “Confidence in a Cream,” suggest you will be well on your way to finding that “look good, feel good” you.

So Where Do We Draw the Line, Fellow Skincare Brand Owners?

As someone who has built their business on solving a common skincare “problem,” I’ve dealt first-hand with the emotional and physical side-effects that came without having a solution. I have realized there is a fine line between calling-out insecurities and the beauty in normalizing these imperfections.

Of course, you want to educate consumers by showing and telling your product’s effectiveness. But, on the other hand, you don’t want these insecurities as your marketing strategy’s North Star.

Before you get trapped in this cycle of problem-solving marketing, stop to think about what your consumers will really, truly connect with

It can be easy to consistently mention every issue your customer is facing and why you provide the ideal solution. Surely, solving a problem is probably the reason you started your business. But don’t let that problem shout over what additional value do you bring to the table.

In such a saturated market, what makes you stand out? Are you addressing any environmental concerns or donating to charitable causes related to your mission? Are you hoping to reach a niche customer whose voice and opinions are often overlooked? What are your founder’s personal goals that may inspire others?

Remember, customers are humans. The concert of tangible value and human connection sounds better in harmony. Now if you would excuse me, I have a bathroom cabinet cleanse to attend to.

This article was originally published by Hanna hunstad on medium.


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Hanna Hunstad







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