There are upwards of 20 skin-care bottles on my dresser. I use some of them regularly, but the large majority are products I have used exactly once, exactly a year ago, but can’t bring myself to toss. I use some products before bed for no other reason than that they smell more like nighttime than daytime. One serum that made my face feel like a marble quickly became a twice-daily ritual, until a friend of mine who actually reads labels told me that it was counteracting the effectiveness of my sunscreen (as evidenced by the new freckles that had sprouted on my nose and cheeks).
This is all to say that my approach to skin care is pretty stupid. I'm normally a skeptical person, but it is disturbingly easy to sway me with a well-lit Instagram or a gushy product review, even if the reviewer is 22 and fine lines are still a theoretical concept. My understanding of chemistry is literally skin deep, which means that I can tell you what AHA stands for (alpha hydroxy acid!), but I cannot tell you what it is exactly (An acid! For… your skin).
I am not proud of this, but I accept it — and I have a feeling that most skin-care obsessives are more like me than those who keep the Reddit /skincareaddiction tab open at work. When you fall within the lazy-but-eager category, every product seems as much like a trap as it does a salvation; because even if you buy a good product and put it on your face, science says you can still screw things up. Mix it with the wrong cream, use it in the wrong order or at the wrong time of day, and your skin will be destroyed. Buying the things is not enough! What's separating me from the Skin I Want (downy soft, smooth, and glowy) and the Skin I Have (easily inflamed and itchy, dull, dry) is my refusal in memorising and executing these small rituals and incantations.