In this article:
- r/SkincareAddiction is a subreddit where people go to crowdsource the best skincare advice the internet has to offer.
- From why you should wear sunscreen to figuring out which order to apply products in, the subreddit is brimming with life-saving tips.
- These tips and product recommendations will have your skin glowing and healthier than ever.
Going to a dermatologist for skincare treatments can get very expensive very fast. Now, before anyone gets angry and validly points out that taking skin health tips from dermatologists is different from taking it from internet strangers, this isn’t and is not intended to be medical advice. It’s more of a quick fix for relatively minor skincare problems.
When it comes to asking the internet for skincare advice though, there’s only one place to go online: r/Skincareaddiction. R/Skincareaddiction or r/SCA is a popular subreddit with roughly 1.4 million members.
The sub describes itself as “for anything and everything to do with skin!” and when it comes to skin, you gotta give it to this sub, they’re basically the derms of the internet.
The subreddit has helped thousands figure out a skincare routine that works for them thanks to a combination of good research skills and crowdsourcing product reviews among members.
Personally, I’m a believer in the magic of r/Skincareaddiction and its sister subreddit r/AsianBeauty, which focuses on Asian beauty products. By the power of these two subreddits combined, I fixed my moisture barrier.
The mods keep an extensive wiki of all their advice complete with benefits, usage tips, vetted products, and the most important part, scientific sources.
Here’s some of the best of their evergreen advice.
R/Skincareaddiction’s Skincare Advice
1. Never Go Out Without Sunscreen
Don’t take it from me. Take it from Yale Medicine. Sun damage makes you look older than you really are due to something called photoaging. This type of skin damage occurs when ultraviolet light shines on our skin. This interaction changes skin in the dermis so while you may eventually be fine after a sunburn, you’re going to really see the effects of photoaging later in life.
Photoaging comes with a lot of nasty side effects that boil down to “you’re gonna be ugly af“. The cellular damage that UV light causes can produce wrinkles, inconsistent skin pigmentation, and decreased skin elasticity. That’s without even mentioning skin cancer.
That’s why r/Skincareaddiction recommends wearing a high UVA protection sunscreen with at least SPF 30 whenever you go out in the sun. Yes, even on “cloudy” days. R/SCA is very religious about applying sunscreen.
If you’re using a product that makes your skin more sensitive to sunlight such as retinol, vitamin C, or any kind of exfoliating acid, a thick and thorough application of sunscreen can save you a world of pain. In my six years of lurking on that sub, I’ve seen my fair share of people running to r/SCA for advice after they tried a new AHA and ignored sunscreen and moisturizer.
2. Remember to Exfoliate (Properly)
The American Academy of Dermatology Association defines exfoliation as “the process of removing dead skin cells from the outer layer of your skin”. The association also warns that improperly done exfoliation can do more harm than good to your skin and on that note, r/SCA agrees.
There is no faster way to make the skincare subreddit flip out than to say you’re going to try exfoliating with St. Ives’ Apricot Scrub. The sub acts like that scrub is Satan’s spawn and, apparently, for good reason.
u/Lekor did some research into it and discovered the following research findings on the effects of various grit-containing cleansers on skin barrier function:
“Non-invasive instrumental measurements of skin barrier function were performed. Repetitive washing for 1 week lead to increased TEWL values, skin redness and decreased stratum corneum hydration. Results indicate differences in irritancy potential due to different types of grit, their surface and concentration. It is concluded that the repeated wash test seems to be adequate for rating personal washing products that contain grit.”
In normal English, that means “physical exfoliants tear your skin to shreds.” The sub recommends chemical exfoliation, using AHAs and BHAs, as a safer, more clinically proven way to exfoliate.
3. Always Stay Moisturized and Hydrated
While all skincare advice on r/SCA is YMMV (meaning “Your Mileage May Vary”), how much moisturizer you need varies more for each person than the rest of their staple advice. This is because of the differences in skin types.
Some people have dryer skin, some have oilier skin, and an unlucky few of us have combination skin that leaves us in moisture limbo.
A good moisturizer should leave your skin feeling bouncy and supple and that feeling should last. R/SCA says that if that supple feel doesn’t stay with you for long after each application, you should consider getting a thicker moisturizer like a cream. If it feels greasy, something lighter like aloe gel might serve you better.
The subreddit r/AsianBeauty takes it a step further with a Korean beauty trend called the “7 Skin Method.” The 7 Skin Method isn’t for the faint-hearted. This demanding skincare routine calls for skincare enthusiasts to apply a water-based toner seven times to “penetrate deeper into the skin surface for better hydration.”
Hydration and moisturization, despite how similar they seem, differ in the way they keep your skin healthy. Hydration, well, rehydrates your skin while moisturization locks that hydration in. Oh and don’t skip this just because you have oily skin.
As u/lovelyflo puts it, “Many oily-skinned people are often dehydrated. It’s important to add that hydration back to the skin, but not necessarily more oil.”
4. Invest in a Good Serum
Now for the fun part. People usually get into skincare because they have a skin concern they’re highly interested in fixing be it dryness, hyperpigmentation, or acne.
Serums are usually the products with the most active ingredients in a given skincare routine and these active products are the ones that actually work on fixing those skincare concerns. Hyperpigmentation concerns usually receive recommendations for a good vitamin C or niacinamide serum, for example.
U/gall-nyu explains it like this, “Basically, you are getting high concentrations of antioxidants, peptides, or brighteners in a lightweight formula. It doesn’t contain thickeners that creams do, so it can penetrate your skin and give it the good, luxurious benefits much easier (small molecules = more permeable). Since they’re full of active ingredients rather than fillers that make it thick, it’s no surprise that serums are generally more costly.”
This plays into r/SCA’s love for products with short and simple ingredient lists. The general consensus is that this makes sure you’re actually getting the right concentration of active ingredients instead of a bunch of fillers as well as lowering the risk of something going wrong.
For example, a lot of people with sensitive skin react badly to products with fragrances, sodium laureth sulfate (which makes typical cleansers bubbly), and silicone.
Shorter ingredient lists make it easier to keep track of ingredients that might irritate your skin and result in a breakout.
5. Follow a Proper Skincare Routine
Of course, no amount of skincare advice is going to be beneficial for you if you don’t actually build a skincare routine. R/Skincareaddiction uses the following structure as the basis for most of their skincare routine recommendations:
That’s the entire routine. Other extras like serums, toners, and essences are typically applied after cleanser and before moisturizer to ensure that ingredients can properly penetrate and absorb into the skin. Variations of this routine often go like this:
- Occlusive/Sunscreen (depending on whether the routine is for AM or PM)
Before you start buying products though, the sub cautions that you should know what kind of skin you have first before putting anything on it. Learning your skin type can help pinpoint what kinds of products you should be adding to your routine.
Once you do find and buy those products, the next key piece of advice is to patch test it on your arm or some other area of the skin that isn’t your face.
It’s like swatching but for skincare except instead of avoiding an unflattering shade of lipstick, it helps you dodge allergic reactions.
A skincare routine is built over time with the patience of a saint. Seriously, with all the products out there that you could try on your skin and realistic time frames for them to have an effect, it’s going to take a while before you build a bulletproof routine.
R/Skincareaddiction’s Top Products You Can Build Your Routine With
1. Cerave Hydrating Facial Cleanser
There are three different CeraVe cleansers for you to choose from. There’s the Foaming Facial Cleanser, the Renewing SA Cleanser, and the Hydrating Facial Cleanser. The Hydrating Facial Cleanser is, by far, the most popular of the CeraVe cleanser triplets.
Unlike the foaming version, the CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser is a non-foaming cleanser that doesn’t strip the skin of moisture. This is especially important if you have dry or sensitive skin as foaming facial cleansers tend to contain SLS or sodium laureth sulfate.
If your cleanser leaves your face feeling squeaky clean, that is a bad sign as the cleanser is likely drying you out. You can check out this blog for more info on why you might want to skip a foaming cleanser. That said, it’s still YMMV.
Other options include Cetaphil’s Gentle Skin Cleanser, COSRX Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser, and if you have extra money to burn, La Roche-Posay Toleriane Caring Wash. I personally prefer Hada Labo Gokujyun Foaming Face Wash which is a favorite over at r/AsianBeauty.
Speaking of r/AB, the subreddit maintains a massive spreadsheet listing every serum members have tried with their pH level. You might find it handy when you’re picking out your own cleanser.
2. The Ordinary’s Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% Serum
Niacinamide is an iconic product in the r/Skincareaddiction sub. Sure, the sub doesn’t believe in a magical cure for all their skincare woes, but if you made them pick one, it would probably be niacinamide.
The sub’s wiki describes it as “an awesome jack-of-all-trades ingredient” because of its multiple uses and minimal risk of irritation. You’d be hard-pressed to find people on the sub who reacted badly to niacinamide.
This ingredient can treat acne, lighten dark spots, improve your skin barrier, and reduce sebum. Niacinamide comes in different concentrations and in different products. It can be present in serums, toners, and moisturizers alike and is often available in concentrations of 4%, 5%, and 10%.
Of those, the most popular is The Ordinary’s Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% serum. It’s also one of the most affordable options given that one of the other 10% serums is a Paula’s Choice product.
3. Stridex Medicated Acne Pads
Is it really a r/Skincareaddiction product rec list if we don’t include the famous “Stridex in the red box”? This humble and often overlooked product contains 2% salicylic acid which is the source of red box Stridex’s superpowers.
U/hikingthroughskyrim is just one of many r/SCA members whose skin was saved by this product.
“How could it be that a humble $3.50 product that I can acquire at almost any drugstore is WORKING ON MY FINICKY SKIN? Why didn’t I do this sooner?”
The user shared with the rest of the sub, “Frustrations aside, this sh*t is clearing up my skin like crazy. I’ve been using them every other night for over 2 weeks now. Blackheads are clearing, my face feels significantly smoother, and acne is clearing. It did bring up a few nasty whiteheads but they’re healing. I’m going to stick with it.”
4. Biore Aqua Rich Watery Essence
Last but not least, sunscreen.
The final step of every r/SCA skincare routine is sunscreen and there are few out there that can beat Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence.
This super-duper lightweight sunscreen practically melts into skin, leaving you with 0 stickiness or a greasy feeling. It’s a chemical sunscreen with SPF 50+ and the best post-application texture known to man.
Other safe bets include Japanese and Korean sunscreens like Canmake Mermaid Skin Gel and the Shiseido Senka sunscreens. If you’re feeling pretty boujee though, La Roche-Posey Anthelios is worth giving a shot. For a drugstore option, there’s Eucerin Sun Fluid.
Once your skincare routine is locked in, get your self-care routine established with these Black-owned spa day products. And while you’re waiting for the moisturizer to soak in, practice the art of doing tarot readings as self-care.