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April 23, 2020 3 min read

Beyond Surface Level Skincare Conversations with Rhea Cartwright 

We chatted to Rhea Cartwright, a freelance journalist for Refinery 29The Zoe Report and Dazed. She is the Founder of NAHFEMME, an educational and representative platform to learn, shop and share curated edit while becoming your own beauty expert. 

Rhea goes beyond surface-level conversations about skincare with her genuine honesty to the beauty and skincare sector and products. She helps offer advice about making informed decisions about your skincare. 

How significant is it to know your skin, hair and body? Any tips to get to know your skin type better?

Sense of self is crucial whether it’s skin or personality type. I think there’s often a frivolous attitude.  

What is your process in selecting skincare and hair products?

Rigorous to say the least! I’m a qualified facialist, trained in over 100 brands and have dabbled in formulations so reading an ingredient list is like a hobby for me. It’s very rare that I’ll buy into something because of hype, I know that’s typically just down to marketing bullshit. Having said that, if people that I trust rate a product, then I’m happy to go in blind.

There are influencers endorsing products all over social media. How can consumers trust what products are clean, effective, sustainable, etc.?

Fundamentally there are no universal global standard for what clean, effective or sustainable means. Secondly, they're all subjective. If people look to influencers for recommendations, they need to find someone who has the same standards and definitions to avoid disappointment. Ultimately, a skincare routine is important for the health of your skin. The industry coupled with beauty standards push the notion that skincare is purely for aesthetic purposes, not that we should be judged if that is our motivation, but cleansing and protecting our skin ensures it is healthy and functioning to the best of its ability.

Why is a skincare routine important, do you think this can this be an aspect of self care?

I think any practice can be labelled self-care as long as it resonates with the individual. When we do our skincare routines, it’s often alone in the bathroom, looking into a bedroom mirror or sat a dressing table if you’re lucky enough. It’s a slither of time that’s exclusively ours, whether we have two minutes or ten. 

What 2020 skincare trends do you think will boom and/or bust?

The only trend I’m interested in is people looking after their skin better and ensuring the advice they’re given leads them to make the best choices. There are always going to be shiny, new ingredients that brands promise will be the best things since sliced bread. The importance for most people is realising that there is no universal “magic” ingredient and even if there were, our skin changes so frequently due to hormones, age, environment, or other factors. 

How are skincare products and companies becoming more inclusive and representative?

Inclusivity and representation go far beyond campaign images and social media posts. A diverse company will always do better because their shared range of perspectives will encompass more people. There are a lot of companies that continuously get it wrong due to sheer ignorance, and also because they only care about providing for their current demographic.

We are only human, therefore mistakes and oversights will happen, but as long as the apology is genuine and they make a concerted effort to improve through correct hiring and research, I don’t believe they should be cancelled straight away.

Any new research that you're curious to learn more about? 

Oh there’s a lot! Everything from seemingly innocuous stuff such as the effects of certain diets on the skin to how surgeons are using trauma-inducing technology to force healing and how that can be integrated into beauty. Technology is changing faster than we can keep up. The landscape changes exponentially.

The realist in me though is always mindful of who is funding the research. Scientific studies are hugely expensive. It’s important to verify who is behind it as there is often an agenda to push certain rhetoric!

One common ingredient, retinol is being 'replaced'  by a plant-based alternative, bakuchiol. What are your thoughts on both?

First and foremost, I think both are amazing ingredients but they’re not comparable, and to call bakuchiol a plant-based alternative is doing a disservice to customers and their expectations. Because retinol can improve so many skin issues such as acne, uneven texture and pigmentation, people often go in with a very “gung-ho” approach, by either overusing it or using a strength that’s too high, rather than building up a tolerance over time.

From social distancing to self-isolation, people are encouraged to #stayhome. What are some of your fav DIY face and body treatments?

DIY face treatments should firmly be left elsewhere - let me just say that if it’s an ingredient you found in the kitchen, it should probably stay there! 

To find out more about Rhea, check out her IG (@its_rhea) or NAHFEMME (@nahfemme).

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