By Iolee Anagnostopoulou

Our skin tells two things: our approximate age and our health. Even if you are in impeccable shape, our body’s decline in collagen production starts in our mid-20s, decreasing even more after menopause, inevitably resulting in wrinkles and sagging.

Humans have long been on the search for the ‘fountain of youth’ and the secret to beautiful, glowing, never-ageing skin. Nowadays, big cosmetic companies dominate the skincare market, promising smoother, healthier and rejuvenated skin―usually at steep prices. Brands regularly launch their latest “revolutionary serum or cream” often hiring a celebrity to swear by it in commercials.

But do we really need to spend so much on skincare?

Is Quality Costly?

Frankly, I always avoid the big brands’ shelves in cosmetic stores―those products sometimes cost a small fortune! Nivea, Garnier and Vaseline work for me just fine, with my biggest investment being for my Eucerin Anti Pigment Day Cream as it actually works for me! 

For women who can afford to buy the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow’s GOOP skin products, I understand that the idea of spending more might boost their self-esteem. However, did you know that the cosmetic industry is not rigorously regulated globally? In some cases, a product has to merely pass an easy approval process, before it’s distributed for commercial use. No one is really checking to ensure that all those fancy, hard-to-pronounce ingredients and advanced formulas are actually doing justice to your skin. 

Moreover, store-bought skincare products may contain chemicals and toxic ingredients, which can lead to a plethora of issues―from allergies to hormonal problems and even cancer.   

Overall Self Care

Our skin is our body’s largest organ, and we should never underestimate the importance of its maintenance. It supports our immune system, regulates our body temperature, manufactures Vitamin D and can signal internal health problems, such as liver failure or hepatitis C. 

It is precisely this correlation between our internal organs and skin that makes me wonder why we use all those products to mainly treat symptoms, instead of preventing them in the first place. Your skin projects your overall health. So, before you hit the cosmetic’s store, try some free, every-day tips that could enhance your skin naturally, such as drinking more water, eating healthily and reducing stress.

Go Natural

Being half-Greek/half-Bulgarian, I am used to natural products of excellent quality, with multiple skin benefits, at significantly lower prices. Greece has an abundance of olive oil, known for its antioxidant and moisturising effects. Bulgaria has―what some believe to be―the best rose water in the world, famous for its multiple health and beauty applications. Traditional skincare recipes are still popular there, using ingredients like olive oil, yoghurt and chamomile. There are even botanical pharmacies selling custom-made herbal combinations, based on your bespoke skin needs. 

When I moved to other countries, I realised how overlooked all those natural solutions were, for the sake of promoting pharmaceutical and cosmetic companies’ overpriced merchandise. Before you buy that expensive cream, check your kitchen for this list of natural ingredients, including coconut oil, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar and honey and create your own! They are great for your skin, cost less and have far fewer chemicals. 

Practice Pampering

With all the skin’s vital functions mentioned above, it is safe to say that caring for your skin is not just an act of self-indulgence. Whether you choose branded or natural products, having a daily skincare routine has many additional mental health benefits. Besides boosting your confidence, the process of caring for your skin itself is relaxing and meditative. It has been linked to reduced anxiety, higher productivity levels and better emotional awareness. 

We all have busy lives, often putting others’ needs first, but taking those extra 5-10 minutes to focus on your skin routine sends a powerful and positive message to your brain: “it’s my turn now” or in the words of one brand “because I’m worth it!”

My twice-a-day skincare routine includes facial wash, body lotion, micellar water and day/night cream. Depending on my kitchen supplies, l make mixtures for facial masks, body scrubs, stretch mark creams etc. Apart from period pimples, I luckily never had any major skin conditions. I have never had impeccable skin either because, you know, I’m human! But alas, the secret to reversing the skin’s ageing process remains undiscovered! 

No matter what the brands and beauty vloggers are trying to promote, remember that beauty is found in imperfections. Those wrinkles that you hate tell the memory of that time you laughed with your loved ones. So care for your skin but with products that are kind to your skin and purse. Perhaps even try giving up makeup for a while or enhance your overall self-care. But also, do embrace those ageing lines―they are a privilege that not everybody gets to enjoy.