Battle Scars: My Skincare Horror Stories
I talk a lot about skincare. I would definitely add it to one of my top ten hobbies and interests. I take a lot of pride in the effort I put into my skin and love talking to others about what it is they use. Whenever I share my favorite products or experiences with products, it is never my intention to sound like a know it all or skincare expert (because I am so far from either of those). A lot of my knowledge has come from endless research, talking to other people who also have an interest in skincare and of course, trial and errors.
Let me tell you, I have lived some serious skincare horror stories, but I have learned so much from each of these experiences, great lessons were learned. Lessons that I am going to share with you.
Lesson 1: Not All Products Are Suitable For All Types of Skin
When I was as a freshman in high school, some of the fanciest skin care products you could get was from Dermalogica. Truth be told, I am not sure what exactly they were known for (I wasn’t huge into skincare back then) but my mother swore by them and used them almost exclusively. Trying to pass on the importance of a skincare routine to her stubborn daughter, she purchased me my own small starter set of Dermalogica product and strictly enforced a routine on me. Pretty much she stood in my bathroom and watched me wash my face to make sure I was using it. I know my mom had my best interest at heart, but I did resent this shortly-lived habit we had. Especially because the product, a simple cleanser burned my face. After one use my face was red and stung and was beyond painful. The next time she wanted me to use it I refused. It was too painful and embarrassing to go to school with my face looking like a giant scar. I am not kidding! I actually had teachers ask if I was ok. One thought I had sun poisoning from a sunburn and thought I should be sent home. Lesson learned? Even if a product is “the best” that doesn’t make it the best for you and your skin. Look into ingredients and read reviews from people who have similar skin as you before you take the plunge into investing in a skincare set (the one my mom got me went unused.) Also, if a product doesn’t work for you, that’s ok. There is something better out there for you.
Lesson 2: Some Masks are Better Left Skipped
I had recently invested in a large container of dry activated charcoal for its many healing benefits. After loving the results I had from adding it to my nightly toothbrushing, I figured I would be remiss if I didn’t try one of the facial masks I had heard so much about. I found a highly reviewed recipe and promptly mixed up a batch to use for a self-care night. It ended up being the most stressful self-care night I have ever experienced. The granules of the charcoal seemed to get stuck in all of my pores. It is not my favorite thing to admit, but I have genetically large pores (thanks to my dad's side). After washing this mask on, rather than looking glowing and refreshed, I looked like a tiny black-polka dot monster. Every single pore on my face was accentuated from having the mucky charcoal stuck in them. I ended up using my Mia to exfoliate and try to scrub the charcoal away but for days after I would find little pots of charcoal in my skin.
Lesson 3: Sensitive Skin Means Taking Precautionary Measures
When you have sensitive skin, you can feel a bit like a bubble child. You have to take extra care when it comes to your skin care or run the risk of dealing with the painful aftermath of a product that didn’t mesh well with your chemistry and it isn’t just limited to skincare. I am a hairy girl, I have always had a full set of brows that require maintenance. Even though it is entirely normal to have breakouts after getting your eyebrows waxed, it isn’t normal to have your skin rip up with the hairs. Which is what I had happened and which is why I now have a scar under my right eyebrow. It was as simple as any other waxing anyone else has had, the professional had done everything right. I was just EXTREMELY sensitive (maybe even allergic?) to the brand of wax she had used on me that day. After we carefully removed the rest of the wax, rather than ripping, I encountered the worst break out of my life. If you have never experienced an allergic reaction breakout to a topical substance, count yourself lucky and knock on wood. It is a painful, pustule experience that makes you want to hide inside away from public view (or at least that's what mine did). I still have the scars from that waxing experience which is why I stick to threading and threading only.
Lesson 4: Seriously, Sensitive Skin is to be Taken Seriously
When it comes to sensitive skin, just be careful with whatever you are putting on your face. Even products that are thought to be gentle, like a tinted moisturizer, can mess you up if you don’t take patch testing seriously. Case in point: Benefits tinted moisturizer, a product that is no longer available but I was obsessed with. I have never been a fan of foundation, so I have always opted for tinted moisturizers and cc creams. Back when I was younger, and I knew better, I was 100% committed to Benefits Cosmetics and wore them exclusively, so it was strange and sad when a burning sensation started occurring on my eye lid right under my brow. It also didn’t make much sense because I didn't use any moisturizer on my eye lids but as we all know, makeup and moisturizers run. One day in a moment of laziness, I thought it would be ok to use my tinted moisturizer ever so slightly on my eyelids as a primer and to help with the mysterious, painful dryness I had started to encounter. Culprit found. The pain of direct contact was too much to bear. I ended up washing all my makeup off for the day and went au naturale, with the obvious signs of burning. It turns out my mother reacted the same way to the tinted moisturizer (in the same place no less), so I am confident that was the cause and mad at my own naivety. To this day I have slight scarring on my eyelids from that direct contact. Take your sensitive skin serious and always do a small patch test before you commit 100% to a product.
Lesson 5: Mix and Match Masks Carefully
Self-care is an amazing thing but just like anything, too much of one time can be bad for you. Case in point, the night I wanted to be the facial queen and tried to use two different masks. Both masks are amazing, and I love them both I couldn't decide which one I wanted to use. So I used them both. One right after another which was a stupid and painful mistake. The masks by themselves were great and chalked full of benefits but using them one right after another was a recipe for face burning. Which happened. My own choice was to take a couple of Benadryl and pass out for the night.
Lesson 6: Don't Forget the Sunscreen
This one was so dumb. I look back on this experience and wonder how I could have been so royally stupid. Granted, a lot of these lessons were based on my dumb decision making, but this one takes the cake. I took a nap on a fishing boat. With my face toward the sun. And no sunscreen on. For several hours. You can guess what happened after that. A month of being sick in bed with sun poisoning from the worst sunburn I ever encountered. I used to love lounging in the sun, not for tanning sake but because it feels so lovely. I am like a cat in that regard. Never again after that sunburn. My face was essentially one giant third-degree burn blister. I cant remember a time where I was so sick for so long. For years after that sunburn, the slightest burn would make me sick. After that experience, you would be hard-pressed to get me out in the sun, and if I do go out, you bet your ass I am covered in sunscreen. I usually carry it with me, and I live in Seattle. Don’t take sunscreen for granted people, cover up.
Lesson 7: It's Not Just Whats on the Outside That Matter's It's Also the Inside
When I was in my early 20’s, I went through a weird phase where I started drinking a lot of milk. I am not sure why or what made me find it so refreshing but I just started to love drinking it. I had never really enjoyed milk before then, especially as just a drink but something clicked in me that made me crave the dairy refreshment but it did. And then the hormonal breakouts. It turns out, my system doesn’t really like dairy all that much. It isn’t a lactose intolerance, but the hormones that naturally occur in dairy are thought to be a likely spur for hormonal acne. Only, I didn’t know that at the time. So you can imagine how frustrated and bummed out I was that all of a sudden I was being plagued with these painful zits for no good reason, or so I thought. After some research, I immediately cut out dairy from my diet, and my skin was back to normal in no time. Our skin doesn’t just reflect what we put on and take off of it, what we put into our stomachs and ingest can have a huge impact on our faces. If you feel like you are hitting your head against a wall when it comes to breakouts, it might be time to take a closer look at what you're eating.