I’ve been blessed with delicate, easily angered skin. During my teens and twenties, I spent more time than I’d like to admit aggravating and covering it, and all under the delusion of improving its health.
The trick to skin I’m not afraid to bare? Pregnancy hormones and little to no time to obsess over every little blemish. Well, it’s more than that, but those seem to be the largest, most impact-having factors.
Nowadays, I’m more focused on preventing skin cancer than presenting a flawless face. Interestingly, this shift has made both more possible. Hippie sunscreens, minimal makeup, more water, less alcohol, whole foods and a literal hands-off approach – it’s that easy.
Katie at 13, 19 or 25 would not have been caught dead showing the skin I do in this recent beach snapshot. I can’t say how freeing it is to move past that kind of self-consciousness.
See, for a number of reasons, I bought into a philosophy that says blemishes must be punished, then covered. One must not let them show because even the most subtle of red spots will distract from an otherwise pleasant enough body and personality. Worse, this all coincided with a trend of telling teenagers that diet had nothing to do with skin health. Little did I realize the damage I was doing. Damn you, cover stick and Taco Bell!
Use of birth control pills did make a difference, and I realized this again during pregnancy and breastfeeding. My skin likes daily hormones. However, I was taking these pills long before I became comfortable in my skin. Changing my habits, as well as my mindset, has been the true solution.
Not until I spotted questionable pigmentation did I realize how much my perception of my skin has changed. Was that a new freckle on my lip, or was it death cancer? Has that mole always been shaped like a kite? Yesterday, I got my first full body check from a dermatologist (without any real insecurity over this or that ingrown hair), and am happy to report that my largest organ is in great health. Nothing like age and vanity for making me want to keep it that way.
As for the habit changes: A mere 10 years ago, I might have crashed into bed in full makeup after a night of partying, mainly hoping no one would see my naked face when I stumbled out in the morning. These days, the little makeup I do wear comes off as soon as I get home, and I can see extra shadows and lines after even a couple of beers.
Better yet, my face feels clownish with the simple addition of mascara and lipstick. I have beautiful friends who wear amazing makeup everyday… a piece of me wishes I could pull it off, but I just can’t stand the way it feels. Good thing, because as much as I might miss the enhancement, I certainly don’t miss the gunky pores and coated lashes stuck in my eyes.
Our skin holds us together and envelopes our movements. It meets the air, and hopefully responds with a dewy glow. It’s affected by what it absorbs from the outside, and what it receives on the inside. It’s ambivalent about the sun. It’s thirsty. Give it some freedom from restrictive clothing and keep it pliable with moisture. Be happy in your skin.