Reddit’s r/SkincareAddiction Community Has a Dark Side

It’s easy for a love of skin care to turn into an obsession

Angela Lashbrook
Published in
7 min readNov 13, 2019
Illustrations: Janet Mac

RReddit’s r/SkincareAddiction board is one of the largest online communities dedicated to skin care. It has 1 million members and hosts more than 1,000 new posts per day, ranging from discussions about skin care routines, requests for advice, and “shelfies,” in which users post pictures of their impressively well-stocked medicine cabinets full of skin care products.

It is, by and large, a positive, well-meaning community. Yet according to research and dermatology experts, too much time and energy spent thinking about perceived flaws on one’s body can get unhealthy quick. One recent post on the subreddit makes this tragically clear.

“After I discovered this subreddit, I got uncomfortable in the sun. I used to just walk to school with my face in the sun and it felt nice. Walking to school was a really nice relaxing time for me in the mornings,” wrote the original poster. “Another comment I saw said that they trained themselves to stop showing facial emotion at 18.”

Other commenters chimed in, describing distressing posts they’d come across on the subreddit in the past.

“There were also a couple of comments about running from shadow to shadow when walking outside, actually walking BACKWARDS to avoid the sun hitting the face directly, and pulling shirts over your head when outside,” wrote one.

“This sub does have some genuinely great information and informative posts, but so many people on here take it way too far,” wrote another.

While many online communities, including those dedicated to health and beauty, are plagued with pseudoscience and misinformation, r/SkincareAddiction has active, thoughtful moderators who do a good job of keeping discussions civil and relatively science-based. Still, misinformation occasionally slips through the cracks; as any community manager knows, it’s nearly impossible to watch each minute and every corner of an extremely busy online…



Angela Lashbrook

I’m a columnist for OneZero, where I write about the intersection of health & tech. Also seen at Elemental, The Atlantic, VICE, and Vox. Brooklyn, NY.