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What is “unsexy skincare” and why is everyone talking about it?

Ever since the skincare bubble burst in 2019 or so, things in the beauty community have felt a little haywire. After Dramageddon, we simply didn’t know where to turn. Who can we trust in a world full of PR unboxings, skinfluencers hyping up sub-par product for a quick buck, and aggressive ad campaigns by desperate makeup companies?

No one, is the clear answer. But there is some light at the end of the tunnel: those of us who are still trying to figure out a skincare routine that actually works are starting to rebuild our trust again, thanks to an unlikely trend.

On TikTok, folks have been quick to share the “unsexy” products that just work. Forget the cute packaging, forget the vibes and the hype: when it comes to products that just work, there are a few tried-and-true staples that are bound to show up on just about every “unsexy” skincare video, for good reason.

So let’s break it down: which products are the most reliable? What purchases won’t irritate sensitive skin and have you running to the return counter? Walk with us…

@mohaewithjennypark

Replying to @Lexi 🪩🫶🏻💗✨ unsexy products i am obsessed with and cant live without part 2!!! Blistex and tide to go and cetaphil and dove deodorant #unsexyproducts #favoritethings #30sontiktok #dovedeodorant #bestlifeupgrades #bigsisteradvice

♬ original sound – jenny park

One staple you’re likely to keep encountering is Cetaphil. The time-honored brand has been keeping it consistent with deeply moisturizing (if unaesthetic) cleansers, lotions, and balms that rarely disappoint. And at an affordable, drugstore price point, you can’t do much better. During a recession, we’re making our dollars stretch, which means that a huge tub of Cetaphil for $7 is just what the doctor ordered.

Another favorite brand is the OG, CeraVe. Whether you fell in love with their gentle cleanser, their unbeatable SPF (the most important step!) or their SA body lotion, there’s a strong chance that you’ve gravitated to these products due to their consistent results, affordable price point, and availability.

Now let’s talk about butters: specifically shea butter and cocoa butter. It’s 2024, and the girlies (and boys, and they/thems) are DRY. So sure, you could spend a fortune on a Sephora moisturizer that gets the job done and has glitter in it, but you could also be smarter about it and invest in some plain, basic, no-frills tubs of shea butter and cocoa butter. Moisture is moisture, people, and on a planet that’s growing hotter by the minute, we must take moisturizing seriously!

While we’re on the subject of protecting and moisturizing our skin, we can’t not talk about Vaseline. It’s tried and true, it’s what our moms used (and still use, tbh) and that’s for good reason. Some of these OG products simply work, and the price could not be more right.

If you’re looking for a basic moisturizer that does the trick and doesn’t break the bank, Vanicream is what the girls are swearing by right now. Again: tried and true!

@alexusbird

Some of my most used products that I am obsessed with! @Hero Cosmetics @FRENSHE @AquaphorUS @Vaseline Brand #unsexyproducts #myfavorite #haul #dailyroutine #dailylife

♬ original sound – Alexus Bird

Now let’s move on to soaps: the people are recommending kogic acid soap and Black African soap, both of which you can find at the drugstore. They’re both great for hyperpigmentation and basic cleansing, according to TikTok. Just make sure to follow up with a moisturizer afterward.

Everyone’s skin, hair, and body is different, which is why no one product is an immediate “yes” for everyone. But if you’re stuck and interested in rotating in some newer products, just know that you don’t have to break the bank to do it. Some of these products—ranging from skin and haircare to makeup, dental care, and general health—have been doing it for the girls since the literal Year 1, so who are we to not give them a try?

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