From a Gen Z to Gen Z – Is the Skincare Industry a Scam?

In the age of social media and the rise of Gen Z, “trends” seem to skyrocket to unseen heights. But one particular interest peaked quickly during the pandemic: skin care.

As we were stuck at home scrolling on TikTok and Instagram, skincare developed traction due to online shopping habits and the waves of hot new skincare trends we saw emerge almost weekly.

The accessibility of online shopping resonated with Gen Z’ers the most, as the most tech-savvy generation. A study showed that Gen Z’ers were the least likely to shop in-store, versus the three generations before them*, resulting in a worldwide industry shift to accommodate the younger, digital generation.

But are these viral trends and marketing spin genuinely helping Gen Z to tackle their skin concerns, or is the information so convoluted that the overwhelmed buyer ends up purchasing much more than they need?

We’re breaking down some of these trends and help younger generations find a routine that is simple and easy, because adolescents is anything but.


The 12-step Skincare Routine

Popularised by Korean Beauty YouTubers, the 12-step Skincare Routine was one of the first trends to pick up steam with Gen Z during the pandemic for its visually pleasing aesthetics, what it promised to achieve and the aspirational ‘status’ of owning a cabinet full of fancy products.

This complex routine usually consists of an oil and foam cleanser, exfoliator, toner, essence, serum, face oil, sheet mask, eye cream, moisturiser, face mist, and (hopefully) sunscreen!

Other than the huge amount of time and the crippling expense this routine demands from a young audience, this routine contains many products that teen skin simply does not need.

A teenager shouldn’t need to worry about different oils, the difference between a toner and an essence or using an eye cream for the fine lines that are yet to appear.

If you do take anything from this routine, it’s that skincare and taking some time for pampering is fun! A sheet mask with friends or a refreshing face mist won’t cause you any harm if you’re aware that the media we consume isn’t always attainable, or necessary.

Skincare Only Works With ‘Tools’

In today’s society, many young people look up to “influencers” rather than traditional celebrities. As a result, brands are eager to advertise through these content creators who have the ability to blur the lines of a parasocial relationship. This can lead their impressionable young audience to believe that they need to buy everything their favourite content creator promotes.

Some clear examples of overconsumption include magnetic face mask removers, disposable wrinkle patches, silicone face ice rollers, disposable lip scrubbers and more…

For a teen, it can be daunting not having all the latest and greatest products seen on social media, leading to a lot of plastic waste and a lot of wasted money.

It is absolutely ok to apply your skincare with your fingers and soothe your face with a piece of ice from the ice tray. It may also be helpful for parents and teens to educate themselves on what content they see is actually an advertisement; look out for #ad #gifted or a paid partnership label.


Trends are not limited to promoting unnecessary purchasing, but (perhaps even more harmful) trends sit within the DIY realm of social media. One example of a particularly harmful trend is “sunscreen contouring.”

As the title suggests, this trend calls to use sunscreen in only some parts of your face, so that you can create a more contoured look from the sunburnt areas.

Sun damage has short-term effects such as sunburn and dry skin, but also long-term effects such as hyperpigmentation, premature aging, and skin cancer.

At least 2 in 3 Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer in their lifetime*, so it is more important than ever to start taking sun protection seriously when you’re young.


Our skin changes drastically as we hit puberty (thanks hormones!) so although we say keep it simple, that doesn’t mean a well prescribed skincare routine won’t be effective and keep your skin as happy as possible.

The 3-Step Routine

1. Cleanse

It’s important to cleanse your skin every day to avoid clogged pores by removing dirt, oils and pollution, and to ensure your SPF and/or make-up is completely removed before bed.

Some opt for cleansing first with an oil-based cleanser to remove sunscreen and makeup, followed by a gel or cream-based cleanser to clean the skin, however it’s absolutely fine to double cleanse with the same product.

A great, gentle and cost-effective option is the CeraVe Cleansing Range packed full of essential ceramides and vitamins such as Niacinamide which are well suited to all skin types and won’t break the budget.

2. Moisturise

Keeping it super simple, a good quality moisturiser should be your last step to lock in hydration. You may want a thicker moisturiser if you have dry or flaky skin, or opt for a lightweight or gel moisturiser if your skin type is on the oilier side.  

Ingredients we love to see in a moisturiser are;

  • Glycerin to draw in moisture and keep the skin hydrated.
  • Hyaluronic Acid to help the skin’s ability to hold moisture.
  • Ceramides to reinforce the skin’s natural moisture barrier.

Moisturiser is all about hydrating and locking in moisture so you wake up with bouncy, glowy skin!

3. Protect

This one is nonnegotiable. You guessed it… SUNSCREEN!

A Broad Spectrum, SPF50 sunscreen needs to be a multiple-times-a-day practice to protect yourself from UVA and UVB rays. We have a blog all about the importance of wearing sunscreen every day here:


If you’re suffering from any skin conditions such as eczema, rosacea or acne, our best advice is to seek knowledge and assistance from a professional dermatologist. Save yourself years of spending $$$ and testing and trialling when there are professional skin experts who will help you on your own terms.

From someone who has followed every skincare brand, trend and ‘skin expert,’ I can only hope the ‘less is more’ trend is next.

Love a Gen Zer who has tried it all.