David Rooney - August 2022
Sam by the counter: Skincare accounts
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@sambythecounter, Sam earns a small commission from some of the links in this article.
Instagram name: Sam [By the counter]
Skin type: Oily, breakout-prone, with eczema.
Sam is an Instagram skincare content creator who believes beauty should balance utility with indulgence. He loves luscious textures, scents, and packaging.
But some would say it’s his science-backed approach that has amassed him over 16,000 followers at the time of writing this. A passionate advocate for the pursuit of evidence, Sam calls out shady marketing and holds brands accountable. We need more beauty bloggers like Sam.
He believes that skincare is consumer territory, and consumers have the final say on what’s good and what’s not.
I chatted with Sam to find out his most loved products and favourite skincare creator accounts to follow.
What are your top three products, and why?
The top three are Naturium Vitamin C Complex, Dieux Deliverance, and build b-cream.
Naturium Vitamin C Complex uses a gold conjugated l-ascorbic acid which allows for improved stability and more skin friendly pH. Gentler, feels weightless, just awesome.
Dieux Deliverance hits all the highlights for an overall skin health serum. Also a light texture, great for layering. It contains niacinamide, newer peptides, and a skin soothing complex.
And finally, my whole year has been devoted to the discovery of a small brand from Canada called build skincare. I use every product from the range, but b-cream moisturiser is my favourite product and I think just the best moisturiser I’ve ever used. It uses a lamellar gel structure to form a unique texture that feels a bit like a gel-cream but packs the all-day moisturisation of a regular cream.
What do you wish people knew more about skincare?
Mainly that ingredients in isolation don’t mean very much – a full formulation is the key to a good or bad product.
Ingredients come in such varied qualities, are treated in such various ways, and are blended with different delivery systems, it’s impossible to truly differentiate products just based on reading an INCI list.
Also, free-from lists are the worst thing to have happened to the industry and is a direct form of consumer manipulation.
What are your thoughts on beauty standards?
I think standards have shifted a bit from appearance-based judgements to more moral judgements. Brands, and by extension consumers, go on the attack regarding things like cruelty-free beauty, recyclability, how clean something is. And I just don’t think these topics are communicated with any level of nuance. So, it has created a situation where brands, and people, kind of try and position themselves as saviours, when they really aren’t doing anything noteworthy.
What is the biggest skincare myth you hear all the time?
Probably the overarching myth is that there is only one right way of doing things. There is basically an argument for and against anything, so you just have to do what works for your skin.
Try and consume content from varied sources – not just influencers, not just doctors, not just brands, not just cosmetic scientists etc.
Who inspires you and why?
From a creator perspective, Chloe Morello, who brought us Face Halo, and now Sireni, was always a big inspiration for me. In my mind, “making it” on social media was more of a US thing. So, it was cool to see someone like her start from Aus and turn her platform into something reaching the world. Chloe is in a whole different league, but just the possibility is cool.
More recently, I’ve developed an unexpected admiration for Jonah from build skincare. He’s a chemist with proper qualifications starting his own brand, with very picky, but curated tastes. And he does everything himself. He’s kind of inspired me in a different way, giving me a peek into the challenges of running a skincare business, and has removed a lot of preconceived ideas I had about skincare formulation. Probably unknowingly, he’s caused a monstrous shift in my perspective on many things. And so, I have all the time in the world for him and his brand.
And in a more personal sense, Beyonce has truly driven a lot of my thoughts and understanding. Some people scoff at celebrity inspiration, but she has done so much in terms of broadening my view on female issues and race issues. Plus, her determination, work ethic, but also grace, is very inspiring. Her presence is just joyful.
Who are your favourite skincare creators?
I still love all the early wave skincare creators a lot. Susan Yara, and by extension Mixed Makeup, strikes an awesome balance between entertainment and information. The other greats, like Gothamista, Caroline Hirons, Nadine Baggott, James Welsh, and Charlotte Palermino.
And of course, all the sci-comm accounts, I think Michelle from Lab Muffin has done so much for consumer understanding, it’s incredible. And Jen from The Eco Well who not only shares her own knowledge, but also curates and brings together other creators.
Tony from capricorneum.skin is a research machine and puts in so much work to explore topics. Vanessa from Goals to Get Glowing is pretty much the most thoughtful and genuine reviewer I’ve come across. And Julian from Scamander14 is a sunscreen oracle.
As far as doctors go, I love Dr. Anjali Mahto, Dr. Mara Evangelista-Huber, Dr. Samantha Ellis, Dr. Ranella Hirsch. Dr. Dray 95% of the time, hehe.
There are too many to mention!
What’s the best joke you’ve ever heard?
This question I’ve been pondering the longest and I can’t come up with anything, haha, sorry. Just watch Schitt’s Creek.