three years I was a beauty editor, and constantly experimenting with
skincare products that breathlessly promised life-changing,
time-reversing results. Today, when it comes to skincare, you might call
me low-maintenance—or even lazy. But there’s a single, little-known
step I still consider as important as cleansing, moisturizing, and sun
protection. (That’s the bare minimum, people.) It comes right after the
first, and you’re probably skipping it.
my face is clean and dry, I dampen a cotton pad with a liquid that
smells mildly of sour cabbage. I swipe it over my nose, cheeks, chin,
forehead, and neck, repeating on oilier zones. This little daily effort
has benefited me more than even the most expensive potions I’ve
tried. The stinky stuff I swipe on my face is called Lotion P50,
and it’s part of a family of skincare products that some call liquid
exfoliants—although they couldn’t be further from the pulverized
peach-pit scrubs we messed with in middle school. Others call them
acid toners because, like toners, they are used right after cleansing. I
don’t care what you call them; just start using them.
Here’s how they work
At their most basic level, these products loosen the bonds that hold dead surface skin cells together.The
result is a fresh-faced glow that inspires evangelism in those of us
who’ve experienced it. One devotee compared her friend’s face to a fetus
(in a nice way).
The skin cells shed off imperceptibly, and reveal newer ones beneath,
which are less damaged by environmental factors like sunlight and
pollution. Over time, it diminishes lots of little things that make a
big difference: dullness, congested pores, fine lines, and uneven skin
defines these products is the presence of acids: specifically either
alpha-hydroxy acid (the most popular AHA is the sugarcane-derived
glycolic acid) or beta-hydroxy acid (the BHA you may know is salicylic
acid, which is chemically-related to aspirin and naturally occurs in
willow bark). Both acids exfoliate skin and stimulate collagen growth,
which makes the face look younger and plumper.
The cult of acid-users
results is a fresh-faced, baby skin glow that inspires evangelism in
those of us who’ve experienced it. Beyond putting up with the acrid
smell, P50 requires customers in the US to register online before even looking at the $61 price tag. These are but tiny hurdles to joining the smooth-skinned cult of fashion editors and makeup artists who extol its virtues. One devotee compared her friend’s face to a fetus (in a nice way).
Airan, a New York City dermatologist, says that liquid exfoliants also
make your skin more receptive to other products, allowing for better
absorption. That’s part of why I chose a toner rather than one of the many
cleansers, serums, moisturizers, or at-home peels that contain AHAs and
BHAs. It frees up my cream and serum to deliver anti-ageing ingredients
such as peptides, resulting in a potent and winning skincare cocktail.
Find your own
how to choose a liquid exfoliant? AHAs help reduce pigmentation, fine
lines, and acne scarring. BHAs are mildly antibacterial; they unclog
pores and ease the reddening effects of rosacea.
Bryan Barron, co-author of The Original Beauty Bible
and research director for the skincare line Paula’s Choice, says those
with oilier skin or inflammation should go for BHAs. (He calls Paula’s
Choice modestly priced Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid
the “gateway drug.”) When it comes to concentration, an AHA exfoliator
should contain 5–10% alpha-hydroxy acid. A BHA exfoliator should have
1–4% beta-hydroxy acid. In both cases, says Barron, the product should
have a low pH—ideally between three and four. Any higher, and you’ll
miss out on exfoliating actions. Paula’s Choice makes it easy for
neophytes by letting online shoppers browse by skin concern, such as blackheads or redness.
Beyond Paula’s Choice, and my chosen cult of P50, the glycolic acid-based Liquid Goldfrom the Australian skincare company Alpha-H has a fervent following among my peers. Model and beauty blogger Ruth Crilly swears by it,
and Harper’s Bazaar singled it out as 2013’s “best skin brightener.”
With its tingling effect, I can’t help but agree: It’s the best Aussie
export since Hugh Jackman.
you choose your exfoliator, use it after cleansing at night. Start
slow, about twice a week, building up to every alternate day or daily,
depending on the product’s strength and your skin. Using one of these
makes sunscreen an absolute necessity; and just make sure you don’t
combine acids with products that contains retinol (major irritation
potential) or vitamin C, which will be rendered ineffective. Make this part of your routine, and your face will thank you.
Millions of Facebook users have no idea they’re using the internet
It was in Indonesia three years ago that Helani Galpaya first noticed the anomaly.
surveyed by Galpaya told her that they didn’t use the
internet. But in focus groups, they would talk enthusiastically about
how much time they spent on Facebook. Galpaya, a researcher (and
now CEO) with LIRNEasia,
a think tank, called Rohan Samarajiva, her boss at the time, to tell
him what she had discovered. “It seemed that in their minds, the
Internet did not exist; only Facebook,” he concluded.
“It seemed that in their minds, the Internet did not exist; only Facebook.”In
Africa, Christoph Stork stumbled upon something similar.
Looking at results from a survey on communications use for Research ICT Africa,
Stork found what looked like an error. The number of people who had
responded saying they used Facebook was much higher than those
who said they used the internet. The discrepancy accounted
for some 3% to 4% of mobile phone users, he says.
Since at least 2013, Facebook has been making noises about connecting the entire world to the internet. But even Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s operations head, admits
that there are Facebook users who don’t know they’re on the
internet. So is Facebook succeeding in its goal if the people
it is connecting have no idea they are using the internet? And
what does it mean if masses of first-time adopters come online not via
the open web, but the closed, proprietary network where they must play
by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s rules?
This is more than a matter of semantics. The expectations and behaviors of the next billion people
to come online will have profound effects on how the internet evolves.
If the majority of the world’s online population spends time on
Facebook, then policymakers, businesses, startups, developers,
nonprofits, publishers, and anyone else interested in communicating with
them will also, if they are to be effective, go to Facebook. That means
they, too, must then play by the rules of one company. And that has
implications for us all.
11% of Indonesians who said they used Facebook also said they did not use the internet.Measuring
Facebook penetration versus internet penetration is tricky
business. Internet penetration numbers come from national
regulators and from estimates by the International
Telecommunication Union, a UN body. These are generally months if not
years old. Facebook numbers come from Facebook’s advertising platform.
These can be tricky, too. Some people have more than one
account. Some accounts are rarely used. And some people
access Facebook through phones with only the most basic of online
features, in which case it is hard to argue that they really are using
the internet in any meaningful way.
In an attempt to replicate Stork and Galpaya’s observations, Quartz commissioned surveys in Indonesia and Nigeria from Geopoll,
a company that contacts respondents across the
world using mobile phones. We asked
people whether they had used the internet in the prior 30
days. We also asked them if they had used
Facebook. Both surveys had 500 respondents each.
It would appear, on the surface, that more people use the internet than use Facebook, a perfectly sensible outcome.
But a closer look at the data (available in full here)
shows that 11% of Indonesians who said they used Facebook also
said they did not use the internet. In Nigeria, 9% of Facebook users
said they do not use the internet. These are largely young people; the
median age of respondents with this combination of answers is 25 in
Indonesia and 22 in Nigeria.
would be silly to extrapolate this to the entire population of Nigeria
or Indonesia. But the survey does provide replicable evidence of
the behaviors described by Stork and Galpaya. Considering the
substantial percentages—about 10% of Facebook users in our surveys—the
data suggest at the very least that a few million of
Facebook’s 1.4 billion users suffer from the same misconceptions.
(Quartz commissioned limited surveys in just two countries; we encourage
researchers and other journalists to conduct more large-scale
effects of the misconception also are visible in the survey results. We
asked respondents whether they follow links out of Facebook. In
both countries, more than half of those who don’t know they’re using the
internet say they “never” follow links out of Facebook, compared with a
quarter or less of respondents who say they use both Facebook and the
internet. If people stay on one service, it follows
that content, advertisers, and associated services also will flow
to that service, possibly to the exclusion of other venues.
How Facebook became the internet
At Davos this year, Sandberg told the well-heeled crowd (paywall)
that in the developing world, “people will walk into phone stores and
say ‘I want Facebook.’ People actually confuse Facebook and the internet
in some places.” Or as Iris Orriss, Facebook’s head of
localization and internationalization, has put it, “Awareness of the
Internet in developing countries is very limited. In fact, for many
users, Facebook is the internet, as it’s often the only accessible application.” (Emphasis in the original.)
is “often the only accessible application,” as Orriss puts it, but
that’s because Facebook—which did not respond to requests to
comment on this story—has worked to ensure that it is the
easiest and cheapest to access. The
company backs internet.org, an initiative to “bring the
Internet to the two thirds of the world’s population that doesn’t have
it.” Yet internet.org’s showpiece, an app now available in nearly
half a dozen countries, provides free access only to Facebook,
Facebook messenger, and a handful of other services (the precise lineup varies by country).
of these other services are well-meaning and related to
development: Women’s rights. Jobs. Maternal-health information. An Ebola
FAQ. The only concessions to the wider web are Wikipedia and Google
search. But clicking through on a Google search result requires a data plan—and
that must be paid for by the user. (Despite the name, internet.org is
not a non-profit concern, but very much a part of Facebook Inc.)
Ghana’s Facebook phone looked like a Blackberry with a big blue “F” as the central button.Telecom
operators across the developing world also contribute to the
confusion—though this is something of a self-fulfilling prophecy. Mobile
web users spend a lot of time on Facebook and WhatsApp (also owned
by Facebook). Mobile networks see this and offer these customers
In India, you can get a Facebook-only data plan
for $2.50 a year (the cheapest full data plans cost about $10 a
year.) In the Philippines, Facebook-only plans cost a fifth as much
as data plans. In Ghana, telecom operator Tigo once sold a
Facebook phone. It looked like a Blackberry with a big blue “F” as the central button. Even in America, Sprint offers a data plan (paywall) solely for access to Facebook and Twitter.
Facebook bosses generally dismiss suggestions that the whole internet.org project might be self-interested. Writing in Time,
Lev Grossman was granted access to Mark Zuckerberg when the Facebook
CEO went to India to promote internet access. When Grossman asks whether
internet.org is self-serving, Zuckerberg allows only that it may, one
day, several decades down the line, pay off: “If you do good things
for people in the world, then that comes back and you benefit from it
Dave Wehner, Facebook’s finance chief, is more forthright.
“I do think that over the long term, that focusing on helping connect
everyone will be a good business opportunity for us.” If Facebook
becomes one of the top services in these countries, he explained in
a recent earnings call, “then over time we will be compensated for some
of the value that we’ve provided.”
That is a fair goal for any profit-seeking company. And besides, isn’t some access better than none at all? John Naughton of the Guardian argues that this is not the case:
is a pernicious way of framing the argument, and we should resist it.
The goal of public policy everywhere should be to increase access to the
internet—the whole goddam internet, not some corporate-controlled
alcove—for as many people as possible. By condoning zero-rating we will
condemn to a lifetime of servitude as one of Master Zuckerberg’s
sharecroppers. We can, and should, do better than that.
“It has very serious implications. It’s a proprietary platform. It’s not the open internet that we love and cherish.”Already
services are starting to move away from the open web and to
Facebook. And it’s happening not just in the poor world, but in poor
parts of the developed world, where there also exists a sense among some
that using an app isn’t the same as using the internet, which requires a
web browser like Safari or Internet Explorer. Salix Homes manages
government-owned subsidized housing in some the poorest parts of
Salford, a deprived area in the north of England. Salix recently
decided to accept complaints and rent payments from its tenants on
took the view that let’s go where people are rather than force them to
go to our website,” says James Allan, the firm’s marketing
manager. As a result, interactions are up 90% while traffic on the
website has fallen.
is not in the business of deciding whether Facebook’s omnipresence
among less affluent internet users is a good or bad thing. It
is simply a thing. But as LIRNEasia’s Samarajiva says, “It has
very serious implications. It’s a proprietary platform. It’s not the
open internet that we love and cherish.” Yet he is optimistic that
Facebook eventually will lead its users to that place.
it will introduce them,” he says, “to the larger concept of the
internet. They’re already on the internet. They just don’t know they’re
A note on the methodology: The
surveys of Indonesia and Nigeria used through this
piece were administered by GeoPoll, which uses SMS to
conduct real-time surveys without the need
for face-to-face interaction in remote areas. This survey was
conducted in late December in Indonesia and Nigeria, with 500
respondents from each country, equaling a margin of error of 4.38% at
the 95% confidence level. For more information on this methodology visit
research.geopoll.com. In addition, Quartz also commissioned surveys of India, Brazil, and Indonesia from Jana,
whose members are reached via smartphone. Quartz asked
Jana respondents, “Do you agree with the statement ‘Facebook
is the Internet’?” Quartz also asked a representative sample of
Americans the same question using SurveyMonkey.