Saturday, June 24, 2023

My skincare -- how I look significantly younger than my age

My skincare -- how I look significantly younger than my age
As a teenager, I thought I had terrible skin. 
Like many teens, I had my share of acne and suffered from different types across different areas of my face and upper back. I had some pretty straightforward whiteheads and blackheads, but also suffered from painful cystic acne. 
I thought my skin was disgusting and it didn't help that my parents and one grandmother would regularly tell me to wash my face, use this or that product, pop a zit, etc. At one point, my mom took me to our family doctor and I was prescribed medication that actually didn't do anything. Despite visible evidence by looking at my skin compared to my peers' skin, I developed a complex about it and thought my skin was gross and that I was ugly.

Looking back on my teen years, I know now -- 30+ years later -- that my skin actually was pretty good compared to that of many of my peers! In high school, I never heard another teen call me names or tease me for my skin, but I know some kids with worse skin did face this kind of peer criticism. I wish I knew then what I know about my skin: despite my regular breakouts, it actually wasn't bad. What I dealt with was mild compared to some of my peers.


A lot of my skin issues were likely the result from OVER washing, using regular bar soap on my face, and over use of various skincare products. 

All of that said, one of my other grandmother's is probably partially why my skin wasn't worse. She regularly encouraged me to drink water instead of soda or juice, to use sunscreen, and to moisturize with a high quality lotion. I have always had a tendency towards sunburns, so I took her seriously regarding sunscreen and rarely left the house without covering my face and ears in the stuff.

Admittedly, genetics have likely had a place in my skin health over the course of my lifetime -- I'm not naive enough to think my skincare routines have been the be all, end all of my skin health. However, I have noticed some patterns over the years with how my skin behaves under different conditions and with different products. 

Between my skincare routine, diet, exercise, genetics, and so on, I've kept my skin pretty darn healthy over the years, to a degree that I regularly receive compliments on my skin and disbelief when people find out I'm nearly 50 years old. For the past three decades, people have assumed I'm anywhere from five to 15 years younger than my actual age -- at this point, I do have some graying hair around my temples and that is starting to give away my age (but my kid said it's graying "in a really cool way" so the gray is here to stay!). Despite graying hair, I'm regularly mistaken for being my adult child's sibling or girlfriend rather than their mom!

I get asked about my skincare pretty regularly, so here's what I do with three major caveats first:
1. I am NOT a doctor or healthcare provider. This is NOT meant as advice and is only what has worked for me. You should speak to your healthcare provider if you have concerns about the health of your skin (and make sure you get a skin cancer check of any moles or abnormalities!).

2. I am nearly 50 and this is what I do NOW. My skincare needs have changed over the decades. What works for 50 year old skin isn't going to work for 15 year old skin!
3. I'm not going to share pictures of my skin. There are too many trolls who will decide my mostly clear skin is disgusting regardless of any proof that it's not. There are trolls that relish in being nasty and I want no part in that. I'm sure I'll get some accusations that I'm lying and am actually disgusting because I'm not sharing pictures, but those are not my people. One part of my self-care is to mitigate opportunities for people to bash on me -- NOT sharing photos is one way I'm doing that. 

At its most basic, my skincare routine consists of:
  • Less makeup
  • More moisturizer
  • More sun protection (sunscreen, hats)
  • Drink more water
  • Eat more fresh food (especially produce)
  • Never use soap on the face -- only face specific cleansers
  • Don't neglect the rest of the body -- neck, chest, back of hands
  • Avoid over washing
  • Never go to bed with makeup on 
  • Rinse with plain water rather than washing a couple of times per day
Although my skin was never really terrible, I radically changed my skincare routine and made lifestyle changes about 15 years ago, and my skin is the healthiest it's ever been.
It took probably three years for prior damage to really be repaired, so it does take patience.You won't see results right away from changing your skincare routine.
My typical routine consists of:
-- Wash hands and rinse face with plain water
-- Apply either Aveeno lotion or The Body Shop Vitamin E moisturizer to face/neck/chest/back of hands; apply Aveeno to arms and elbows
-- If going outside for more than 30 minutes, particularly on sunny or snowy days, apply either Neutrogena SPF 55 sunscreen or The Body Shop Vitamin E sunscreen or Badger sunscreen with special focus on face, chest, backs of hands, ears
-- Drink water before coffee/tea
-- Drink water (I try to remember to fill three 20-30oz water bottles in the morning) -- I do drink more coffee than I should, but when I'm not drinking coffee, I'm usually drinking water.
-- Eat a lot of fresh produce with a focus on veggies (if you don't already do this, it will take time to develop a taste for them).
........I make it a habit to eat more than 30 types of veggies, fruits, nuts, and seeds per week.
-- If I feel icky/sweaty/dirty: rise my face with plain water unless I'm visibly dirty or have worked out and gotten sweaty.
-- Clean off any makeup with makeup remover cream or wipes specifically for that reason, but I rarely wear anything beyond lip gloss or lipstick.
-- Wash my face with First Aid Beauty face wash.
-- Use Body Shop Vitamin E eye cream a few times per week.
-- Apply Aveeno to the same areas as earlier every night.
-- Hair in a bun to sleep.
-- Once or twice per week use an exfoliating face scrub instead of face wash on face/neck/chest/back of hands.
-- Cut daily soda drinking (I admit I am struggling to entirely quit Coca Cola, but I definitely don't drink it daily or even every other day)
-- Minimize sugar and processed foods
-- Never consume sugar substitutes or aspartame and limit food dyes
-- 100% dairy free (due to an allergy but had a profound impact on my skin and weight)
-- Minimize alcohol consumption (less than one drink per week)
-- Read food labels -- if I can't pronounce most ingredients or sugar is in the top 5, I try to skip it
-- Cut way back on gluten products
.......Buy pasta imported from Italy that is more of an ivory color (there's a whole science behind it that I'm not great at explaining, but go HERE to learn more)
.......Buy gluten containing products that are as minimally processed, as possible
-- On occasions when I eat meat or eggs (I'm 80% vegan, most of the time, just naturally), I buy the highest quality, grass fed, free range, hormone free, etc. that I can afford.
Combined, these have made the biggest differences for my skin. But, as I said, it has taken time to see results. If I have a soda, too much sugar, too much gluten, not enough water, etc it shows in my skin about a day or two later and takes at least twice as long to repair the damage.

I started by focusing on just a few things at a time as my budget would allow, and it took a few years to really get to where I am today with my skin health. Taking time and focusing only on a few changes at a time for several months at a time gave me a lot of clues as to what does and doesn't work for my skin. I think taking time to see changes is one of the reasons people don't make the progress they want or expect and quit too soon when it comes to skincare, and really anything health or lifestyle related. It can be discouraging to go a week or two without any obvious changes. 

Lastly, I realize that I have a lot of privilege and that not everyone can follow these steps or make these changes. As I said, it's taken me time to get here, and there was a long period where I thought I would never be able to have habits like these. I have been poor enough to worry about being homeless. I've been poor enough to only be able to afford super cheap, super processed food. I've been poor enough to only be able to afford cheap soap and no face wash and no moisturizer. I know I'm fortunate to be in this position, but it took time and a lot of effort to get here. 

You can buy some of the products I noted above here:
*Some of these will be affiliate links -- thank you in advance for any purchases made through these links!
The Body Shop Vitamin E line of products -- get 20% off your first order if you register with THIS link first!
......I particularly like THIS moisturizer and THIS eye cream.
My favorite water bottle (It's a HydroFlask 24oz in the color "snapper" which is like a deep raspberry color.)
What are your skincare tips? 

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