Sometimes I look in the mirror and frightfully wonder to myself, “Who the hell is that person staring back at me?” At the risk of co-opting the scene in Mean Girls where they take turns highlighting their shortcomings, my brain runs through the entire gamut of things wrong with my skin: Tired, dull, red, bloated, hyperpigmented, dry, shiny, lacklustre, blemished, paper-like. I know I will one day regret writing that last bit (one day in the not-too-distant future when my collagen count has taken a beating), but for now, I’m accepting that feeling “meh” about my skin and skincare routine is just part ‘n’ parcel with being alive.

I call it “The Skincare Slump.” Much like tiny triggers that prompt you to really sit back and reflect on your romantic rut (Netflix and takeout again — really?), sometimes all it takes is one bad skin day to make you glance around your bathroom cabinet with a resentful glean in your eye. The cleanser you once publically announced your undying love for is now *literally* everything that is wrong with this cursed world. Your moisturiser? Simply not cutting the mustard. That once ride-or-die serum? Get the heck out of my life!!!!!!

Elsewhere, you may have been hitting the deep recesses of our interview sections (where infinite cult product mentions reside), before doing a mental stocktake of your own comparatively shithouse line-up of products (your brain’s words, not mine).

No matter the cause, there are a few steps you can take to drag yourself out of the slump, in much the same way as Samara hoists herself out of a well in most terrifying movie of all time, The Ring. See you on the other side, slumpers!

Remember that comparisons are the silent killer of any relationship

Your eyeballs have just come off the back of a two-hour Instagram lurk, where 96.8% of the viewed content included flawlessly-styled bathroom shelves. You’re on the cusp of a meltdown when you return to your drab singular shelf (which houses a very tight edit of six products) to wash your stupid face. This smol selection once filled you with pride, but then you saw that Angelica in NYC not only owns every Glossier product known to man, but also La Mer everything, and more La Prairie than she could poke her Tom Ford lipstick at. Is there anything you don’t own, Angelica? If that’s even your real name? Don’t think like this! The pastures will always appear greener on the other side, but keep in mind that, when it comes to skincare, one size doesn’t fit all. So long as you’ve got a skincare routine that is tailored to your specific needs, then to hell with Angelica’s stash! (Even if it could be insured for more than all your worldly possessions combined.) If you’ve got endless cash to burn on expensive products, good for you, honey, but keep in mind that there’s always a perfectly great, perfectly affordable alternative out there.


Seek professional help

Like nutting stuff out with a good relationship counsellor while in the throes of a rut, seeking the help of a solid dermatologist is the easiest way to crawl out of a slump. The $445 billion beauty industry lends itself perfectly to you feeling overwhelmed AF. As consumers, we’re constantly being sold newer, better products that are ~way more effective~ than their predecessors at reducing fine lines, giving us a youthful glow, minimising pores (the biggest fallacy of all), etc. It’s a fatiguing territory to navigate on your own. You’ll get a huge ROI if you book in for a visit with your favourite dermatologist, as they’ll be able to assess your skin and recommend a routine that is 100% guaranteed to send your confidence levels skyward.


Check the use-by dates of your products

A lot of relationships just naturally hit an expiry date. You can try and fight destiny, but once you know, you know. You know? While it can sometimes be super hard to discern whether a romantic rut is a transient one, destined to shape-shift back into something beautiful and lasting, it’s super easy to gauge when your products are deserving of the flick. Their use-by date! If your product doesn’t have an expiry date on it, the general rule of thumb is around one year.


Employ a process of elimination

If you suspect that one of your products is doing a number on your skin, simply switch it out and take note of the results. If symptoms persist, do this with your whole arsenal.


Do your research

Outside of your daily check-in to THE FILE (wink face), arm yourself with as much knowledge as you can on the types of products that agree with you by trawling the comments section of your favourite online retailers, chatting to mates with similar skin types, reading interviews with your favourite dermatologists, and looking up the definition of each and every ingredient contained in your favourite products. The findings may ~shock~ you.


Recognise that some relationships are toxic

Man, sometimes you just want things to work out, even when your rational brain knows there’s no hope in hell that they will. There’s always going to be a super fancy, super cute product out there that the beauty community is raaaaving about, that’s going to be the equivalent of toxic waste for your skin. Similarly, there are certain humans you keep going back to, despite them leaving you feeling drained, anxious, and emotionally fatigued. It’s not worth it, people! It’s time to cut ties, and move on.


Words, Madeleine Woon.