The negative effects of modern skincare


The cleanse, tone and moisturise routine is fundamental to great skincare.

This three-step beauty routine is what the beauty industry has built its businesses on.

They maintain that everybody needs three basic products: a good cleanser that strips the skin of impurities, a toner that tightens pores and, of course, a moisturiser that hydrates.

This is what the industry has led people to believe, and no one even questions it any more.

South African skincare expert Trevor Steyn, however, believes that this routine does more harm than good to the skin. Especially for those living in modern cities.

This Durban scientist says that almost everyone is suffering or has suffered from some form of sensitive skin condition.

Founder of Sapienic, Trevor Steyn. Picture: Supplied

“We’re living in a world where more than 85% of teenagers in the Western world suffer from acne, with eczema more prevalent than ever before.”

Steyn looks at hunter-gatherer communities that are still in existence today and points out that without the cleanse, tone and moisturise routine, the people in those communities have practically no sensitive skin conditions.

“I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it until it hits home – the modern skincare routine sucks. It’s not about skincare at all, it’s about selling products that cause more harm than good,” explained Steyn, who’s the founder of Sapienic.

“We don’t believe in cleansers that strip the skin’s natural oils. We don’t believe in moisturisers as they disrupt the skin’s microbiome, impacting barrier function.

“Ideally, we would all go back to splashing our face with water and getting on with our day, but our modern lifestyles keep us away from nature while exposing us to pollution, cosmetics and sunscreen. This means that we actually have to clean our face – but with the right ingredients. Sapienic was created to undo years of damage and get the skin to rebuild its natural barrier and microbiome, to eliminate the modern problem of sensitive skin.”

They believe in live probiotics that restore contact with nature.

“We replace sebum with eclectic oils that benefit the skin’s good microbes and counteract the emergence of pathogens,” said the founder.

So if we can’t wash our faces using regular cleansing products, how are we meant to remove products such as make-up, is what we want to know.

“We don’t recommend cleansing unless it is to remove make-up. Humans have washed with water for 300 000 years. Lifestyles have changed a lot over the last 200 years and modern make-up doesn’t come off so easily, but a product doesn’t have to foam to clean. We have a cream-based make-up remover that does the job without disrupting the skin’s barrier function or disturbing the microbiome,” said Steyn.

Steyn takes great pride in the fact that the product is organic, carbon-neutral and plastic-neutral.

“We try to think about sustainability from two perspectives. From the client’s point of view and from the environment. Many clients have a short-term perspective on skin and they will buy quick fixes that offer instantaneous results. There are often long-term consequences, generally in the form of accelerated ageing or sensitive skin. We offer sustained results on skin.

“On the environment, we consider all parts of the product. The contents are certified organic, the packaging is glass.”

On the topic of treatments like chemical peels and micro-needling having become standard skincare treatments, Steyn had this to say:

“Chemical peels definitely work in the short term. By removing the outer layers of skin, wrinkles are not as deep and skin looks smoother. The question is how your skin will respond. It is an intelligent organ and it will thicken over the next few weeks, as it would when forming a callous. Then your wrinkles will look worse than they did before and you will have to do a peel again and again. Deeper each time. This is great for the person selling the product, but not so great for your long-term ageing outcomes.”

We asked Steyn what the ideal skincare routine should be.

Steyn recommends washing with cold microbe-laden water. Picture: Supplied

“You should walk downhill until you find an unpolluted river or lake. Wash with cold, microbe-laden water. Walk back home. Most people don’t have this option any more, so we recommend doing less, better.”

“Our recommended routine involves only two products: lipids and serum. These contain all the actives you need for daily skincare.”



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