Dua Lipa: We’re conditioned to believe we need 500 serums, but less is more

The beauty and skincare industry is a behemoth at this point, with girls and women being told constantly that they need to spend hundreds of dollars every month on endless products. It’s actually pretty rare that a celebrity comes out and says “yeah, that doesn’t really work for me, I’m not using wall-to-wall skincare products.” Well, Dua Lipa did just that. She’s currently promoting her partnership with YSL Beauty. She’s the face of YSL’s Libre fragrance, and she chatted with Byrdie about perfumes, days off and skincare. I was surprised by her quotes about skincare!

On working with YSL: “I love the toughness of the YSL woman. Yves Saint Laurent gave women the freedom to wear the tuxedo in the early stages of fashion, which separated the brand from others. That idea of strength has always resonated with me.”

Scent memories: “My mom always had a very signature scent that was so comforting to me. I would always watch her put on makeup and was so fascinated by how much pride she took in caring for herself.”

Her first perfume purchase: “I think that Curious by Britney Spears in the blue bottle was the first fragrance I ever bought. I like that it was really fresh.”

Her days off: “On an off day—which is usually rare—I’d be at home in London and go to a hot yoga class first thing in the morning. Then there’s a lovely brunch spot next to my yoga class where I get a smoothie and an English breakfast, which feels really comforting.”

Mindfulness: Even when she’s working, Lipa says her yoga practice, meditation before bed, and taking her vitamins are non-negotiables. “That mindfulness practice is super important to me. Making sure I am healthy inside and out helps me stay on top of everything.”

Her skincare: “My skin gets really dry from traveling, and for a while, I tried so many products, and nothing made it better.”. Instead, Lipa says her dryness bred breakouts, which subsequently left scars, that she’s healed by adopting a minimal approach to skincare. “When I am on holiday spending time in the sun, I don’t really need to put on a ton of treatments and serums. I realized when I put less on my skin, and it’s much better. We’re conditioned to believe that we need to use 500 things when sometimes less is more.”

[From Byrdie]

Do you know how rare it is to hear a celebrity woman say “We’re conditioned to believe that we need to use 500 things when sometimes less is more”? Super-rare. I agree with her too – a lot of people love to have and use 20 million skin products and God bless, but if I was putting that much on my (sensitive, rash-prone) skin, I would break out. All of the skincare-startups are always like “you need this ten-product system, plus plus plus all of this other stuff.” Just say: different people have different skincare needs and there is no one-size-fits-all answer, and do what works for you.

Photos courtesy of Backgrid, YSL Beauty IG.

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27 Responses to “Dua Lipa: We’re conditioned to believe we need 500 serums, but less is more”

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  1. DaveW says:

    OMG this; there’s an influencer whose target audience is the 50+ group. I like her but a couple times/ year she do a video of her morning/evening routines and I get exhausted just watching it, think it has something like 10 different topicals (am and pm) plus she uses a few different gadgets.

    I’m 50+, wash with a gentle cleanser and use a tinted sunscreen during the day, at night same cleanser, RetinA and a moisturizer. That’s it. And after an adolescence and into my 40’s of acne, it flabbergasts me when I get compliments on my skin. Every dermatologist I’ve had has said sunscreen, water and some retinol and a decent, inexpensive moisturizer are all you need.

  2. RoRo says:

    Love to hear it! I totally agree! It took me a lot of time, but I found a system that works for me, and it is *gasp* drug store items, including apple cider vinegar and Eucerine lotion! I think climate also plays a huge role, as does diet and water intake.

    • Boxy Lady says:

      I use apple cider vinegar (with water) as well for my toner. My nighttime moisturizer is EVOO, straight from the bottle. I’ve been using that since last fall and it works really well for me.

  3. BanjoVino says:

    Good for her! I didn’t figure out I was using too many (harsh) products until my late 30s – so 20 years of too many actives and thinking I had oily, acne prone skin when really I was just overdoing it and causing the problems I thought were natural. I’m 41 now and I use 3 products daily, and once a week use a gentle exfoliating mask for sensitive skin. I lament the skin I could have had in my youth if only I had dialed it back!

  4. Lobstar says:

    Highly, highly recommend Jess DeFino’s work examining and dismantling beauty culture. She guest wrote a column for Dua Lipa’s newsletter last year – really lovely and thoughtful piece: https://jessicadefino.substack.com/p/dua-lipa-beauty

  5. Surly Gale says:

    My mum used Noxzema. I love the smell. I wanted to be able to use it. But every single time I tried, I break out. Eventually I gave up, but not without stopping for awhile, my skin clears, starting up, getting acne, stopping and so on for quite some time before I connected Noxzema to my breakouts.
    In 1984 I was in a duty free shop in Paris and got sold on brushing my face. Hubby and I purchased a brush each (alongside very expensive cleansers). To this day, in the shower I brush my face. Usually with Ivory soap. Then I moisturize. Recently (from here) got turned on to Neutrogena Hydro Boost products and now have ‘stock’ cause someone said they were going to discontinue the line and I freaked, having just discovered it. So still a soap and water girl, but my moisturizers have changed over the years. Mostly Oil of Olay (until I learned there was ground glass in it), often just whatever body/hand lotion I had on hand, now I’m a Neutrogena freak for my face and Nivea Repair & Care for my body because finally found something with a light enough scent that I like. I’ve been known to use it on my face prior to Hydro Boost discovery, for which I shall forever be grateful to @Celebitchy for!!!

    • windyriver says:

      That was me, re: discontinuing, but it wasn’t the whole Hydro Boost line; in fact, from their website looks like they’re adding products.

      The one discontinued was the specific product Rosie had just mentioned in the article, the Fragrance Free Gel Cream Extra Dry. IIRC a few weeks ago that was the only fragrance free Hydro Boost cream, but looks like they now have the new FF water cream, which I’ll try when I run out of my stock of the Gel Cream! Even pleasant fragrances will give me a headache, so I avoid them in skin care products, hand soap, etc. Can’t use perfume either, unfortunately.

      Another thing Neutrogena’s discontinued is all but one of their Norwegian Formula line. The original hand cream must have been one of their first products. In an interesting switch, they ditched the original version, but kept the fragrance free version, for now.

      I try to keep it simple too, but my skin also benefits from an exfoliation product. A few years ago my sister-in-law introduced me to the M-61 Power Glow Peel. It’s not as harsh as “peel” would imply – at least on me – but it does have both glycolic and salicylic acids, and comes in a wipe. I use it a couple of times a week. A bit pricey, but super easy, and there’s enough product you could probably cut a wipe in half and get two applications out of each one.

      • Rosie says:

        I’m glad you both love it as much as I do! A head’s up re the cream – I saw Costco had 2-packs on sale last weekend. I’m not sure if it’s the same one from Amazon (I can check next time I’m there) but those 2-pack sales are usually good buys. I’ve gotten them for Christmas presents for my mom and sister before.

    • Moonstone says:

      I love that Dua has said this about skincare, it’s SO overwhelming and easy to get sucked into buying lots of expensive and ineffective products. I fell for it as a teen and it’s being pushed onto me again now in my 30s but I personally think if a skincare routine is more than 3-4 steps, it gets too complicated. Also, buying products from the chemist that are inexpensive AND effective is the key.

  6. Matilda says:

    When I watch the morning and night time routines by celebrities on sites like Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar I am constantly amazed about how long and expensive their beauty routines are. It leaves me to think that the beauty industry has a really profitable business model here encouraging ten different products at a time and that they all need to work with one another. How is my skin supposed to soak up layer after layer of serums, moisturizer, etc. and still work skin deep? It’s either going to come off on my pillow at night or mixed in with makeup in the morning. So less is definitely better for me. I have a moisturizer with sunscreen, a tinted sunscreen for daytime and for night I wash my face with micellar water and then moisturize and my skin looks great. I use a serum or brightener if my skin needs it. Most people don’t have the time or money to do these long beauty routines. We women need to really investigate what works for us and not what an industry dictates to us. I don’t need primer.

    • Lux says:

      Lol and agree with not needing primer. That to me is for people who like to lay on the foundation and go out with a bang/full face. I always admire the dedication but know it could never become a part of my usual routine.

      My husband’s coworker, a dermatologist (but not OUR dermatologist) says the expensive brands and drug store brands use the same ingredients—you’re really just paying for how it feels on your skin (and obviously, the brand/packaging etc). Like I have 5 different sunscreens (can’t help it, live in SoCal) and I definitely use them for different parts of my face and alternate for different seasons (matte sunscreen for T-zone; tinted glow for face; moisturizing sunscreens for winter and weightless lotion for summer). Do I need 5 of them? No, but it feels great on my skin and somehow really clarifies the distinction between a “dewy” and “sweaty” face.

  7. Charlie says:

    I recommend the book Flawless: Lessons in Looks and Culture from the K-Beauty Capital by Elise Hu. It’s a critical examination of the Korean beauty industry and how it’s effect has crossed into other beauty industries around the world.

    • Lurker25 says:

      I worked in music in in the late 2000s, specifically with Korean-Americans working with Kpop management trying to break into the American market. I felt so grateful that American beauty pressure in the Brittany/Lindsey/Paris heyday was still so much less than the Korean standard for V-chins, glass skin, honey thighs, etc. My colleagues would go to Seoul to stockb up on BB creams, serums, and essences that weren’t available elsewhere, and save for cosmetic surgery/treatment trips.

      FF a decade….

  8. girl_ninja says:

    I’m 50 and I have a three step ritual in the morning and at night.
    I wash my face with CeraVe for dry skin, then apply Ponds for dry skin

    I wash my face with CeraVe for dry skin, then I apply Ponds for dry skin, then add Shea moisture face oil, then apply Josie Maran SPF 47 argan moisturizer

    That’s all I can handle because my attention span won’t allow for anything else.

  9. Rnot says:

    I recommend “The Beauty of Dirty Skin” by Whitney Bowe. (Don’t worry, in spite of the title it’s not a continuation of the unwashed celebrity genre.) She talks a lot about the skin-gut-brain axis and the skin’s microbiome. She covers the same less-is-more philosophy and explains how many products actually inflame your skin which then leads to cascading problems and then more products to treat those problems. Personally, I use the basic Clinique 3 step routine. I’ll also use a cleansing balm when I use sweatproof/waterproof sunscreen or makeup, and retinol once a week.

  10. StarChild says:

    One way to check if your skincare is working is to use the same products for a year and then don’t do it for a day. If the products you’re using are nourishing your skin then it’ll still feel good.

    I have about six steps in my skincare routine and there’s definitely more I would add like a must if I could justify spending money. I do think it’s about what brings you joy and I know it’s not necessary. That said, as someone with dry skin I can’t fathom cleansing without moisturising.

    I do think consumers are pressured to buy as many new products as they can. So then it’s way harder to work out what’s irritating your skin or what is making it look better.

    I think consistency, water and sun block are the most important. Like my issue with super complicated routines is that the value is placed on how many things you’re using instead of creating a routine that you can manage consistently.

    • Lux says:

      Sounds like a good experiment but I would have a really hard time using the same products for a whole year! I’m definitely someone who loves trying new products but one who does not do a 7-step routine or whatever (old school 3-step at night—tone, serum and moisturize).

      I’m into “skin cycling” as it allows me to use my various products on different days. You guys have rightfully pointed out that sunscreen, moisturizer and occasionally a retinol-based serum for nights are sufficient, but I also love vitamin C serums and chemical exfoliants, both of which give me a great glow. As I get older, my skin gets drier and the dead skin cells really do make my face duller. To cut the routine down, morning must-haves for me are tinted sunscreens that also moisturize—basically just applying one product and go.

      • Normades says:

        I use different products for different times of the year. Retinol serum in the winter and a vit C serum in the summer. I also use Paula’s choice chemical peel every couple of weeks.

  11. Lisatorner says:

    I feel like every celebrity says “the industry wants you to use 500 serums but less is more” and then promptly pushes their own line. If Dua isn’t going to come out with her own line or push YSL skin care, then good for her.

    But to say that it’s refreshing to hear a celebrity say that? Where have you been for the past few years. Scarlet johannsens line, Hailey biebers line, Kim Ks line (which is supposedly failing big time – love that for her) specifically used that exact marketing strategy. Same with U beauty, Krave beauty, so many.

    Oversaturation and exhaustion in the celebrity skin care market started to appear say 5-6 years ago, so every brand now tries to distinguish themselves by referencing the over crowded market place, and saying “you don’t need 50 products. Just 3…( and I happen to make them).”

    (And then later as the line expands that initial idea of simplicity goes out the window. )

    So yeah. Good for Dua. Standing by to see what comes of this skin talk. She’s certainly not saying anything new or unique even as a celebrity.

    • Lurker25 says:

      The biggest hypocrite of all in this area is the Agustinus Badger line. Launched 2019ish with one moisturizer. That cost $275 for 50ml. They justified the price by saying that was all you need, ever, don’t use ANYTHING else with it, this is the one bottle that will do it all, blah blah.

      I checked out the website recently – serums, eye creams, toners, “light” versions of the moisturizer…

      • ED says:

        Omg so much this!
        I got sucked into the Augustinus Bader spin when it first launched and bought both The Rich Cream and The Cream.
        I enjoyed The Cream the most and bought for about 2 years or so, justifying the price because it was meant to be a ‘one and done’ product. Then they dropped an essence and a serum (which I also tried but didn’t enjoy) and then finally it dawned on me that they were no longer selling the ‘one product is all you need’ line and I realised what a con it all was.
        Skin minimalism is something I really aspire to as I am getting older, you just need to find what works best for you, be consistent with it and not get caught into always wanting/trying the next big thing/trend!

  12. Ange says:

    I agree with her. I bought into the need for lots of skin treatments and gadgets, it actually ruined my skin. Now I only use CeraVe cleansers and moisturisers and The Ordinary hyaluronic acid on wet skin. I also get rosacea and general redness. The other day a colleague told me I have the most beautiful skin in the world. I’m nearly 43 and will be dining out on that compliment for the next decade lol.

  13. Roo says:

    I guess I will be the one contrary voice today. Haha. I have many potions and lotions that use depending on how my skin is doing and/or how much energy and time and I have. I wear very little make up, but skin care is part of my self-care, and I really love it. I have a great mix of SoKo products, western products, pricey products, and reasonable.

  14. AC says:

    Most of my life it’s been Olay with SPF sunscreen and drinking water and green tea, don’t really drink alcohol and don’t smoke. Also wear little makeup. And people think I’m 10 years younger than my real age.

  15. Penguin says:

    I get eczema breakouts around my eyes and mouth, and the skincare craze really did a number on me until I realised that the stuff that works best for me is the boring, fragrance-free clinical-looking moisturiser and gentle cleanser: no serum, no face masks, nothing. CeraVe and Avene all the way!

  16. SIde Eye says:

    I had terrible acne when I stopped nursing my son and it lasted through my mid 30s into my 40s. It was a nightmare. I have been on every prescription, every treatment, peels, etc.

    I realize now in hindsight I was doing too much. It finally cleared. Part of it is my hormones stopped going crazy and the other part is I simplified by routine.

    I am on a supplement called Dims which helps balance hormones. I take Cod Liver Oil and Zinc. Just doing those things has been a complete game changer.

    My skin care routine is this: I wash my face with Panier des Sens lavender body wash. Yes, it’s body wash. It’s the only thing that doesn’t break me out. Costs about $20. Then I use this amazing moisturizer. It’s called Weleda skin food. I then apply a reef friendly sunscreen called Sun. Bum. That’s it. That’s the routine. Once a week I use a product called Gleaming – it’s a mask and it evens out my skin tone and dark spots from the acne. With Gleaming I saw the result immediately. No more serums and oils and $1000 creams. My skin is completely clear today.

    I am absolutely done listening to the beauty industry and done paying good money for overpriced crap that does not work cause some celebrity is shilling it.