Discover beauty through professional reviews

NOW READING Hope in a Jar or Just Hype: Why You May Not Need That Heavy Cream
September 27, 2018

Hope in a Jar or Just Hype: Why You May Not Need That Heavy Cream

When we reach a certain age — or discover that first wrinkle or even that first pimple — we have a tendency to freak out and fall prey to the first marketing tactic that promises, basically, a brand new face. But is there such a thing as a miracle in a jar? Writer Tracy Teel shares her experience and what really will make a difference in our skin.


If you’re in your 20s, you probably haven’t noticed this, but there’s a strange mythology regarding skincare products designed for “women of a certain age” (by which I mean 50+). I don’t know if it’s tied to actual aging, our fear of hitting the half century mark, or something deep within us that suddenly believes we’re not the same as we were at 49, but marketing takes on a whole new meaning — and we’re oddly drawn to it like middle-age moths to a young(er) flame.


It seems many of us buy into the hype that we now need a rich, heavy, firming cream simply because of our age. Even if you’re younger than me, read on because what I learned late in life will affirm what many of you may already know.




Ever refining my choices


Shortly before celebrating the golden anniversary of my birth, my beloved Sulwhasoo released their Everefine line. When I spotted the pretty jar with the promising new name and targeted tagline, it grabbed my attention — and my wallet. Call it a delayed reaction to the AARP card I received (thanks to my loving husband), but I bought the hype quite literally.


After a week’s worth of use, I was angry to say the very least and, frankly, insulted. Why? Because that “nutrient-rich lifting line for women in their 50s and 60s” was too freaking heavy for my face and too damn expensive to use on my ass feet.




The Everefine epiphany


We’ve all made skincare mistakes; it’s just part of the process, but this one taught me something huge about marketing to human vanity. At the time, I was vulnerable to the age thing, so much so that I skipped over my normal analytical process. You know, the one that relies on reviews and a thorough ingredient analysis before shelling out hard-earned cash. While Everefine contains promising ingredients, my skin just couldn’t handle it.


Ever since then, whenever a friend asks me to recommend a “heavy cream,” my first question is, “Why do you think you need one?” Once we get the “’cuz I’m old as dirt” BS out of the way, we can address what matters most: ingredients that do the thing. (Confession: I was never about the ingredients before K-beauty.)


Nurturing those nighttime needs


Despite differences in our ages, our skin goes into repair mode at night, so if we want to make the most of that beauty sleep, we need to concentrate on using products that repair damage while kicking our cellular regeneration into gear. Finding the perfect nighttime cream that hydrates, improves elasticity, and makes skin more resilient (my priorities) may be too much to ask or come at too high a price. So on to Plan B.


On deck nightly lineup


If your skin has lost that lovin’ bouncy feeling, asking your cream to restore it is a long shot at best. OTC retinol products can help, but prescription tretinoin does a far better job of reawakening underproductive collagen and getting those cells generating again. I use this right after cleansing in the evening and then do the rest of my routine, which includes a peptide serum.


Now, if ingredients have feelings, then peptides must be happy campers. Our skin loves them so much that when we apply them topically, our brain gets happy too and throws a collagen party. In the simplest terms, when the collagen in your skin starts to break down, it forms peptides, which nag the skin and tell it to get back to work and produce more. This natural skin function works great until you reach your 30s, then it gets kinda lazy.


Since peptides can be less effective when combined with other ingredients (often in creams), I opt for The Ordinary’s Matrixyl 10% + HA. It’s dirt cheap and ensures my skin gets ample peptides as well as hyaluronic acid. Together, they sink in deep, and I can top it off with whatever cream I’m currently crushing on plus a good sleeping pack.


Embracing myself, not the marketing


While I’m not immune to marketing tactics, I have to credit them for helping me see the big picture. Miracles do not come in jars, and just because a company says something is perfect for you doesn’t make it so. Know your needs and do your homework. Your skin and your wallet will thank you.


Have you ever fallen for marketing hype and regretted it? Share your experience!


Tracy Ann Teel is a full-time freelance writer and the owner of Finesse Writing and Editing LLC. She’s a tutorial writer for San Francisco Globe’s beauty platform,, covering everything from skin and hair care to makeup and nail art. She writes for skincare companies, dermatologists, and cosmetic surgeons, and proudly taught at her MFA alma mater, the University of California Irvine, as a member of their adjunct faculty in English. She’s been a textbook reviewer for Prentice Hall, been recognized three consecutive years in the Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers, and has written professionally for 30+ years. Her poetry chapbook Such Dust was published by Finishing Line Press, and her work has appeared in Alaska Quarterly Review, Rattle, Pearl, Kaleidoscope, and Lake Arrowhead Life.




Verified experts are beauty professionals who receive free products for independent reviews without receiving payment.

I used to think that a heavy cream was all my skin needed in order to feel supple and hydrated. Boy, was I wrong! Lately, more than ever, I find myself hyper-hydrating with toners and essences, and then layering a sleeping pack or oil over cream. Winter can take a toll on your skin, and I'd love to know some of your tips and tricks because cream alone does not do it for my skin.


This article touched home on so many levels, especially to those of us who just started paying attention to our skincare routine. Thank you for good read!


I'm so glad you found it useful. That's always my goal. It's all too easy to get lost in the marketing hype. Enjoy your skincare journey. You'll find lots of help here if you need it. :)


Verified experts are beauty professionals who receive free products for independent reviews without receiving payment.

You're welcome, inthegrandscheem! I hope you've settled into a great routine. Ever since I wrote this, I've been side-eyeing advertising that pitches products to consumers based on their age. Skin type is a much better barometer of whether a product will work or not. I'm happy to say, though, that the SanDaWha Ultra Rich Hydrating Camellia Floral Water Cream 55g and Sulwhasoo Radiance Energy Mask are still staples in my autumn routine.


I totally bought into the La Mer hype in '90s and bought a face cream that was way too rich and thick for my 20-something self hahaha.

Now that I know better, I never rely on face creams for serious skincare. I'm all about serums, ampoules, and science-backed, time-tested ingredients. I'll spend coin for that!


You\'re way ahead of the curve, Anna. That\'s what I love about K-beauty. The science, the knowledge, and all the great people who are willing to help us navigate the skincare space. It took me so long to embrace serums and even facial oils. I deemed them \"unnecessary.\" Oh, to get that decade back! *sigh* :)


LOL so true! When I look at my 14-year-old niece and all the advice I'm giving her about skincare, my 14-year-old self is soooo jealous! All she had was Seventeen magazine and loads of Sea Breeze! 😂