Many have bought more than one new product in the past year, thanks to the increased time spent at home due to the pandemic and the constant drop in new brands. There have been a lot of sales due to the increased interest in skincare as self-care. Although all this sounds great in theory, it does not address the fact that it is a privilege to purchase skincare.

What amount have you spent on skincare? Having a routine is expensive. If a product doesn’t work, you move on to the next. Unfortunately, this cycle is only for the financially well-off. Only those who have the financial means can experiment with skincare products.

The Problem

It is true: Skincare isn’t as affordable as it should be. There are some affordable brands, such as Cerave or The Ordinary. But affordability is very subjective. A product that costs $20 may seem like a good investment to one person but can become a significant purchase for someone financially struggling. My family relied on food stamps to survive when I was growing up. It was not possible to afford skin care products. My sister, mom, and I used to go to the spa monthly. We bought a clay mask from Walmart that lasted for years.

Shampoo, conditioner, and body wash were essential if we wanted to spend money on cosmetics. As did many others, my skin started to break out with the pandemic. It felt emotional. It was emotional. Our skin and self-esteem are intimately connected. It is worth discussing the financial privilege of having clear skin. It is a privilege to address skincare issues. People push others, sometimes even shame them, into improving their skincare routines. But they don’t realize that some people can’t afford it.

Lack of access to prescription treatments

Prescription acne treatments are a prime example of this inaccessibility. Prescriptions for cystic or hormonal acne sufferers rely on them. You must be able to afford to see a dermatologist. Even if you can afford a doctor’s appointment, it is possible that you will not be able to continue paying for the prescribed treatments month after month.

PCOS has caused me to develop acne. Because I have health insurance, I can take birth control to treat my acne and other symptoms related to PCOS. If my health insurance is lost, I won’t have the ability to visit the doctor to be prescribed birth control. I also won’t find it affordable. This vicious circle continues to affect many people. We can change our skin condition if we recognize that not everyone is in the same situation.

What can we do about it?

It can be very privileged to receive skin care advice. It is common to advocate eating clean to treat skin problems. However, eating clean and purchasing fruits and vegetables is a privilege in and of themselves. While some believe we should “sleep and avoid stress”, others argue that providing for our families is stressful and cannot be done at all.

What can we do to change? These things can be changed by changing how we see them. Be aware that financial privilege can directly affect your ability to access skincare products, prescribed or over-the-counter. Think about the people you are telling to eat healthier and sleep better. Before recommending a miracle product, consider what is “affordable,” is subjective. It is important to recognize the value in each person’s struggles and allow them to accept them. My experiences were never validated as a child growing up poor. Even now, it’s still a struggle for me to do so. It isn’t easy to find affordable and effective products. It isn’t easy to consider buying skincare products if you don’t have the money. By opening the discussion, I hope we can all affirm each other’s experiences and make the skincare community more inclusive.