New Balance

Two new ranges claim to tackle the most demanding skincare issue of the 20something millennial set: a complexion that looks picture-perfect but isn’t.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

Two new ranges claim to tackle the most demanding skincare issue of the 20something millennial set: a complexion that looks picture-perfect but isn’t.

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It’s a tough call coming up with the perfect skincare range for young millennials. Dubbed Recessionists – a term coined by American consultancy Bridgeworks to describe those born between 1988 and 1995 – they’re the generation weaned on smart phones, social media and High School Musical. They’re also the bunch that hit or – even worse – finished university during the Great Recession, making them an extremely careful and demanding bunch, according to Bridgeworks’ 2017 study.

High expectations aside, their youth (they would now be in their 20s) means they tend not to show obvious skincare issues like wrinkles, pigmentation or sagginess. This makes one serious conundrum for beauty brands, though not simply because they’re a hard-to-please lot.

According to research by Shiseido, while the skin of a 20something is generally plump with good structure and moisture levels, the outermost layer tends to be thin and, in turn, vulnerable to environmental stresses. The result: complexion that’s not damaged or dry like mature skin, but also far from being as resilient as, say, Kaia Gerber’s (she’s 15) or Elle Fanning’s (19).

To tackle this no-man’s-land situation, the company has created Waso (price unavailable), a range spanning seven products – cleanser, hydrating lotion, a scrub with a tofu-like texture, and four moisturisers – all meant to build up a strong moisture barrier. Add ingredients with natural renewal abilities, and it’s able to calm such unstable complexions, says the brand.

Like the skincare equivalent of washoku (or traditional Japanese cuisine), each product is based on a plant valued as a beauty food. Among them: loquat leaf, a herb with antioxidant properties that supposedly helps balance oil by suppressing sebum breakdown; soybean, which has lecithin that is said to bring about smoother skin; and white jelly mushroom, a powerful moisture retainer.

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Appealing to another millennial need – choices – each moisturiser offers something different. The Clear Mega-hydrating Cream, for example, is a nourishing gel that can be applied over makeup. To curb excess oil and shine, there’s the Quick Matte Moisturizer Oil-free – and its tinted counterpart, Color-smart Day Moisturizer Oil-free.

Shiseido is not alone in its efforts. Estee Lauder’s Nutritious Micro-algae range ($30-$66) helps young millennials achieve balanced skin by getting rid of impurities and pollutants, while maintaining a healthy water-oil ratio with an of-the-moment ingredient: algae. (According to business magazine Fast Company, “2017 might very well be the year of algae” – what with companies catching on to its health benefits and sustainability.)

The range includes three products: Pore Purifying Cleansing Jelly, the skin-refining Pore Minimizing Shake Tonic, and the hydrating Pore Minimizing Hydra Lotion. Each boasts chlorella, spirulina and sugar kelp, a powerhouse trio that overachieving millennials would approve of. Extremely rich in chlorophyll, all three types of algae not only help detox skin by supposedly improving oxygen and blood flow, but also act as strong antioxidants while reportedly boosting skin healing. Want more? This triple algae blend offers an abundance of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, omega-3s, protein, beta-carotene and polyphenols.

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