Growing up, I had awful, terrible, horrible skin. Here's me at 17-years-old.
I'm just going to throw it all down right now. I was completely embarrassed by it. Up until probably the last year, I wore make-up everywhere. I wore it to bed, I got up early when I worked at camp so I could sneak it on my face... I hated (and am still getting over) when anyone touched my face or got it wet. And everyone else in my family had wonderful skin; blemish-free, healthy looking. Me? Well, based on my skin and other pieces from my hormonal puzzle... I was just a mess. I could barely look in a mirror.
I tried every skin care line on the market. I seriously think I've tried everything you can buy at a Walgreen's or Target: Clean and Clear, Aveeno, Oxy, Noxema... the list goes on and on and on. I even tried stuff meant for babies, thinking, "Hey, maybe I have sensitive skin!" Then came the Proactiv.
I become particularly incensed when I see commercials with smiling celebrities ("It's soooo hard being so famous when everyone is looking at your skin!" Sorry, Katy/Avril/Julianne... I've never looked at your skin and thought, 'What a worthless troll!') and newly rejuvenated college kids who can't believe how much Proactiv has turned their lives around. Did Proactiv work when I used it? Depends on how you look at it. It was kind of like a band-aid on a corpse situation: it didn't clear up my acne, but it made it seem somewhat better. What I definitely know from my three or four year stint with that junk is that it BLEACHED EVERYTHING I OWNED. Towels, washcloths, t-shirts, sweatshirts, pillows, sheets... everything. I ask you: do you really want to put something that bleaches your pillows on your face? Really?
Now here's the real deal, and maybe it's a coincidence, but I don't think so. I made the decision to get healthier a few years ago. I started drinking more water, getting more exercise. My skin was a tad healthier, but still prone to break-outs. I was still using chemical-laden products on my skin (although not the bleaching kinds), still eating some processed foods.
Then I started weaning off of the processed foods (which of course I still imbibe in sometimes)... started switching out the chemical beauty products for more natural and organic ones.
And one day I suddenly realized, I just wasn't having the same problems I had as a little as three or four years ago. I didn't need to lacquer on foundation and concealer and everything else in my huge arsenal. My skin was just... better. Good even. It felt smooth, it looked clear, it seemed happy instead of angry. Today, a typical face day is tinted moisturizer, lip balm, and blush. Maybe mascara if I'm going out. But even that stuff is generally the more natural cosmetics (I'm a fan of Tarte and sometimes Korres... or even Physicians Formula Organics if you're on a budget). One recent night, I went to a friend's house without any make-up on, which was a huge step for me. Do I still get a pimple here and there? Of course. But nothing like what plagued me for a good 15 years.
Exercise. Water. Clean eating. Living a little simpler. Is it possible that this was the key to freeing those hormones that kept me sad for so many years?
It's also possible that all the swimming and running I do has made me more confident. I've had to take a step back and knock my pride down a peg, because you're going to get wet. You're going to get sweaty. People are going to see you looking filthy and gross. But they're also going to see you at your best; they'll see you striving to for awesomeness, they'll see you working really hard. A job well done, a feat that you're proud of? So much more than skin deep.
me, make-up free in 2012...
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"Beauty is a short-lived tyranny." ~ Socrates