This upcoming week I will be doing a series focusing completely on skincare. I have such a love/hate relationship with skincare and my skin, but, even though this blog is primarily about makeup, keeping your skin in good condition helps all of your products to work better for you. Think of you face like a canvas – if your canvas is bumpy and marked, you’re still going to be able to paint, but it’s going to take a lot more effort and skill and product, but if your canvas in fresh and clean, you’ll be able to play with ease.
All of the information I will be sharing is knowledge and tips I’ve picked up over the years or figured out myself. I’m by no means an expert or have any sort of professional training. I think it’s important to reiterate that. I also think it’s important to say that these are my own personal views and tips and tricks. These are things that worked (or didn’t work!) for me. Although I’m going to try to keep things fairly general, I do come from a skin type of combination to oily skin so many of my tips will pertain to those who also have that same skin type and the accompanying challenges, as opposed to those that struggle with extreme dry skin. That’s not to say you dry skin folks won’t find some use out of this series!
To begin with, I want to let you know my “skin story.” I have been battling acne for over 15 years. Over 15 years! I know that’s not what some of those with severe acne want to hear. And I am talking about severe acne. There are some girls that go through puberty and only have the occasional breakout. There are some who grow up and get blemishes on a regular basis and have to deal with it until they’re into their twenties. And then there is me. And others like me. People who will probably have to deal with acne the rest of their lives. And that is a horrible and frustrating and unfair reality. I used to try to boost my spirits by telling myself this would all be a distant memory someday and trying to imagine myself as a college girl with beautiful skin. Well, I’m in my twenties now, my mid-to-late twenties, and I still am dealing with acne. So that sucks. Straight up. That being said, my skin is better than it ever has been since I got my first pimple.
When I was a teen, I tried almost everything to deal with my acne. Acne cleansers, acne systems, acne pills, acne wipes, acne fighting makeup. I visited a dermatologist on multiple occasions and even had an appointment with an acne specialist once. Nothing really helped my skin. Sometimes it was because the product wasn’t working, but other times because the product didn’t “fit” me. What I mean by that was that it was too expensive or too many steps (the acne specialist had me on a 9 part regiment that quite honestly my lazy self couldn’t stick with, even if my poor college self somehow had found a way to afford all nine items). Maybe you’re thinking, “But were you taking care of yourself on the inside? Did you try working out? Eating right?” This is probably the most common response I get. And the answer is yes. I can’t say I had the healthiest of all diets in high school, but I didn’t live off fast food and did love my salads. I have also inherited my father’s never ending thirst for water. I played sports in middle school, high school, and college. During the off season I participated in marching band (and if you don’t think that is physically demanding, you are wrong). I took weight training year round all three years of high school it was offered. I ate right, drank water, and was active. But guess what? I still had acne.
So, on top of everything else, I caked on makeup until I had what I felt was at least some resemblance to a girl with decent skin. Most girls try going for the “natural” barely there look, I just wanted to look normal. Makeup wasn’t fun for me – it was non negotiable. For example, one day in high school sticks out to me. I was running late and grabbed my brush and makeup bag to finish getting ready in the car while my dad drove to school. Right before we arrived, I realized I had forgotten my foundation. I started crying (and I was NOT a crier), and begged my dad to drive me home so I could get it. Now, we didn’t live far, but I would definitely be late if we did this and even if I wouldn’t have been late, it seems like a ridiculous request, right? Except it wasn’t. To this day, I can still remember the sheer panic I felt at the thought of having to walk into school bare faced. I don’t think I’d ever pulled a stunt like that before, nor after. I don’t think I ever forgot my foundation again. I honestly can’t imagine what life with severe acne is like for a non makeup wearing boy. Acne effects more than just your physicals self, it effects your entire self confidence. I felt bad for the hairdresser for having to touch my face when she accidentally brushed her hand against my cheek. I never had silly spa days or did face masks with my friends because that would mean them seeing me without makeup. And oh man, did I HATE taking pictures. It’s a weird feeling when you want to be in a picture so bad, but don’t want your acne forever preserved on film.
Sometime in my early twenties, I simply stopped. I gave up. I had come to the conclusion that I was so intensely over treating my skin and bombarding it with products that I couldn’t even tell which problems were occurring because my natural acne issue, and which problems were occurring as side effects. Did I really have weird oily yet dry skin, or was I over drying my skin with all my products, causing my body to over produce oils to compensate? Did I really have sensitive skin, or were some of the ingredients from cleanser interacting with other ingredients from my acne fighting cover-up stick? I had no clue anymore. So I quit cold turkey. I stopped wearing makeup. I stopped using all my cleansers and toners and treatments. I went back to the most basic of basics – water. I was diligent about washing my face both morning and night, no matter what time I got up or went to bed. And then I waited. I don’t mean I waited days, or weeks. I mean I waited months. After years and years of over-everything, my skin needed time to figure itself out. It needed time to detox. It needed time to repair. And slowly but surely, things leveled off. I don’t mean my acne went away completely, or my redness disappeared. But things got better. My skin got somewhat predictable. My intense breakouts were not so very intense, and I actually had hormonal acne around that time of the month (know, I know this doesn’t sound like a good thing, but I can’t tell you how amazing it is to get an extra flare up and KNOW it’s just your period. Period pimples are different from regular acne. Trust me).
So that’s basically it. I did the water only thing for about a year, using Jergen’s Extra Moisturizing hand soap if I REALLY needed it (it’s a very mild soap, but honestly, it was what I had in my bathroom after running The Color Run. This isn’t something I particularly recommend). Eventually, I felt I knew my skin, my natural, everyday skin, enough to pick out a good cleanser, and go from there. I use more products now, but I’m so careful, so very careful about how many products I’m using. It’s been 4 years or so, and I have a routine of products I stick to, occasionally swapping out one product at a time for something new if I really want to try it. And then I wait again. We’ll get into that more later, though.
I don't have perfect skin now. And to be honest I've kind of accepted that I may never have perfect skin. There are some days when I choose a crew neck tee over a V-neck, and others when a backless dress just isn't going to happen. If you look at my makeup-less pictures and wonder why a girl with "skin like that" is writing a series on skincare…I get it. I do. But I'm so proud of my skin, big pores, acne scars, zits, and all. It took me so long to get to this point, and if just one person learns just one thing that ends up helping from my upcoming posts, I'll consider this series a huge success.
XOXO, WSM…or rather, WSS