Spilling the hot cup of coffee on my hand in the morning whilst being unmindful, thinking again how I would begin this blog post, as Sufjan Stevens- Casimir Pulaski Day played on my laptop piercing the morning gloominess of a cloudy day —
“In the morning, in the winter shade, On the first of March on the holiday, I thought I saw you breathing,”
I muttered a curse while I let some cold water take care of my hand and started the burner for another cup of coffee.
This fifteen minutes in the day, in the morning when everything is quiet and my room is also echoing a certain silence yet waking up with me, with the rhythm of the spoons scraping coffee or the sound of the milk boiling over, these few minutes are when I completely zone out.
I love how living alone has had so many perks of late, especially when it comes to reflecting life choices and relations, and of course taking time to think about the work that one has been doing. I had decided quite some time back to do a post on my skin care routine and the kind of insecurities I have faced over the years, since my teen years and into adulthood.
The morning routine that i do is very essential to my skin care as well because I literally begin my day with a tall glass of water. No lime or honey or any such additives. A simple glass of water even before freshening up. Its something my Mom taught me while I was a kid and I find water to be a very indispensable part of my mornings. For almost three years I had also taken to drinking the water soaked in Methi seeds overnight in empty stomach, works wonders!
Now before I jump to what my daily skin care is I would like to point out that I have always had a combination skin prone to sensitivity. I had a very clear skin till about 14 years after which obviously I started getting breakouts on my forehead. Since then, for ten years I have had a dermatologist who has treated me every time I had breakouts. Some years were good and some years were really bad. Thankfully I never had any scarring or too many blemishes as I have always taken medication before the acne got worse and my breakouts were not rapid or concentrated.
My biggest mistake would be to have done chemical peels in a desperate attempt to get a clear skin. I would not suggest anyone who wants to do that because it comes with side effects more than often, leaving your skin scarred and dry.
When I changed my dermatologist while pursuing graduation, I went for chemical peels and the doctor used to pierce my pimples and then use the peel. I was young and thinking that recovery doesn’t happen without some pain, I was gullible enough to continue this when I realised that its actually a convenient method to have the patient come in repetitively.
There is no guarantee that your breakouts will stop, they may reduce but you will always keep getting recurring pimples, also your skin would dry out way too much and now you would have to deal with dryness as well as scarring. Trust me when I say this that its a horrible experience when you are 20/21 and you want to dress up and put makeup etc. Now, again not all days were bad, but especially during menstruation cycle, stress and anxiety, I used to always inevitably have breakouts and the pattern would continue. It made me very very sad.
It was only when I was around 22, I was also battling depression and needless to say I was too tired to pay attention to my skin. I had given up. That’s when my parents took me to a family skin doctor who gave me much assurance and condemned picking or touching pimples ever.
Along with oral medications and some topical creams, gentle face wash that doesn’t dry the skin and lifestyle changes, it took me almost a year to see good results and some consistency. Incorporating lots of fruits and vegetables, along with proper meal timings, exercise, lots of water (almost 3 litres a day) to drain toxins, and regular sleep patterns also contributed to good skin.
I stopped any kind of commercial skin care products and completely stopped any parlour facials etc. You just have to let your skin recover, adapt and heal while you are going through all this change, especially when you are in a disturbed state of mind and this is very very important. More often than not, the key to good skin is mental happiness. We keep undermining our mental health so much that we don’t realise how what we eat and how we feel can start dramatically reflecting off your face.
When I moved to Istanbul I stopped the medications but after three months, I had a rash because of some food item and I had to consult a skin doctor again and I was on oral treatment for the rash as well as acne once again. The doctor explained how after 24 years i would automatically stop getting acne, but at that time, because of the rash I had developed some acne and was put on treatment immediately, a course that would go on for six months.
Needless to say, the combination of my family skin doctor and the Istanbul doctor literally fixed my skin. However, I still of course have many insecurities.
MY DAILY SKIN CARE ROUTINE
Those who skim through my insta stories off late will always find me without make up on my face. Before however, i wouldn’t even think of posting a selfie without at least some amount of concealer.
Since the time my skin has been healing and there used to be a bit of dryness due to my oral medicines and winter season in Istanbul, my doctor had told me to use only olive oil. Olive oil is high in naturally occurring Vitamin E, extremely healthy for lips, skin and hair too!
In the mornings when I wake up, I wash my face with lukewarm water. This is important to note that NEVER wash your face with soap the first thing in the morning. It causes your pores to produce more oil and if you already have breakouts, they can get worse. Simply wash your face with water and drink a glass of water. Avoid any product and let your skin be bare for the first one hour minimum!
After that I generally do my basic workouts at home and work up a sweat. This helps to clear your pores, the more you sweat, the more your face gets rid of toxins. After that jump into the shower and use a gentle face wash, followed with a mineral or rose toner and a soft hydrating cream. On some days if I feel my skin is too dry, like during winters, I replace the moisturiser with olive oil, just three drops for my skin and lips.
I have been avoiding heavy make up since a year now and completely prefer to let my skin breathe. If I have to put make up I do it by getting a good compact base that is loose and a bit of concealer, thus letting my skin breathe. I may use foundation once or twice a month but it is that rare. When you have a clear skin at some point, you stop caring about covering up so much and I like it to be natural. Even the make up below does not involve foundation base but a loose compact base!
My bedtime skin routine is a bit different. I use a Sulphur soap to wash my face, exfoliate with the same soap and a massager once a week to improve circulation and erase fine lines, and I never forget to use a charcoal detox mask by L’Oreal skin once in two weeks. The charcoal mask literally dries your skin of all the impurities and I wouldn’t recommend using it too much as it might get your skin dried out.
After that, toner and a Vitamin E Body Shop night cream for my face – literally the holy grail for skin care.
THINGS TO NOTE
This is my skin care routine completely based on my skin type and skin history. For me to share is to make you understand what may suit my skin may not absolutely suit you! I think its very very important to never ignore teenage breakouts or even adult acne. Acne is not always red or in high concentration, they can also be like small rashes. It is extremely important to have a dermatologist look into it for you. Never ever blindly follow beauty products or over the counter drugs without getting a skin analysis. The only way to clear skin – trust me- is by first making an appointment with a dermatologist ! Also, if the dermat suggests a chemical peel, find another dermat now that you know!
Olive oil and water is everything as skin food, so are some fruits and leafy veggies.
Please do not use too much make up products on breakouts or scarring tissues. They aggravate your skin more.
I still have so many skin insecurities though! Yes, my acne stopped and I got rid of previous dark circles, even my hair scalp stopped being oily but still there are these small things that make me feel so imperfect or used to for a long time while i was growing up.
I have these small spots (people call it beauty spots these days) but for me they will always be small black spots. There is one on my nose between my eyes, one near my forehead, two on my left upper cheek and one on my left upper lip. I used to be very conscious of these and could never cover the spots with makeup, but off late I have started embracing these small details and imperfections.
I remember when I was a kid and kids are mean back in school, girls would sometimes make fun of my fat lips or the spots and I used to cringe sometimes, they would even make fun of my cheeks! It was 12 or 13 years later at the age of 25 that I feel perfection in my flaws and marks.
I realise now how even the small spots on my face, or the red patches on my cheek, my fat lips that now people ask me if I have used fillers for (like come on!) and when I wash my face and slap on moisturiser and my skin turns red because it is that sensitive, are only proofs and testament to all the years and generations of history that rests on my face, of ancestors and culture that journeyed through billions of years to one day have me in existence, feeling nothing but perfect in my flawed imperfection.
What is perfect anyway? The perfect angle to a photo? To a selfie or to using the app to smooth my skin before? Or the lines that run on my forehead or a spot or two? Or is it when I wanted some boy to find me pretty and I decided that my left profile is better than my right? How do we embrace these silly notions of perfection when the absolute reality is that generations and generations have died and lived to merge and form history on your face, on my face.
Its time we embrace every marks and spots, because somewhere our roots live in them, so shall we?
All pictures in this series are unedited, not touched up and raw.
If you wish to speak to me more on this or share your own story of insecurities – any for that matter – feel free to mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact me on my Instagram.