I will never forget the day a girl in eight grade took one look at me and proceeded to say, “You know, washing your skin twice a day clears up acne.”
I remember hearing this and at first, I was shocked. Then, I was sad. And then, finally, I was angry.
Washing my face?
Did this girl not know how much money I had spent, (or, in this case, my mother had spent) on skincare products at the young age of thirteen? Did she not understand how often I would avoid mirrors during the day because the sight of my cystic acne brought literal tears to my eyes? If only she could have seen my bathroom: toners, moisturizers, serums, prescribed creams and even pills from dermatologists, and yes, bottles upon bottles of different facewashes. I had tried them all, and as my teenage years progressed, I would try even more. I would get about *this* close to getting put on Accutane, and the only reason I didn’t was because my older brother was put on it and the side effects he experienced scared my mother so badly, it was banned from even being in the house anymore. Throughout my adolescent life, I would use all sorts of makeup, tinted sunscreens, and YouTube tutorials alike to try and mask the acne on my face. But, unfortunately, none of it would work. I hate to spoil the ending, but over a decade later I’m still sporting scars from those breakouts that I was assured would just “go away” if I washed my face twice a day.
But can I let you in on a little secret? I don’t care about those scars anymore. I don’t fight for a flawless complexion; I don’t use filters on my pictures and videos on social media anymore. I don’t cry at the thought of skin texture anymore.
I wish there was a magic phrase I could put out that altered your brain chemistry and made you love yourself instantly, dear reader, because I know exactly how you’re feeling if you’ve clicked on this article. You’re feeling down, desperate, even depressed, and above all: Ugly. More than anything, you feel hideous. You feel like they’re always staring at you, always passing judgement, always whispering behind your back. I’ve actually never been that great at gentle motivation, so I’ll just be blunt:
They are talking about you. And you know what? Screw. Them.
Anyone telling you that washing your face twice a day will solve all your problems has no business telling you that, because what that says is that they’ve never dealt with skincare problems, like actual problems, a day in their lives. Sure, they get an occasional breakout or blackhead on their chin and think the world is ending, but that’s the extent of their struggle. Would you take financial advice about getting out of debt from someone who’s never been in it? Would you take advice about the best way to heal an injury from someone who had never had medical training a day in their lives? I sure hope not. Why is it any different with skincare?
I feel one issue with this is the current generation that’s marketing skincare and makeup, and how it’s being portrayed. If you’re like me, you grew up learning makeup and skincare through YouTube, Pinterest, and now, TikTok. You grew up with products being dubbed, “Holy grails,” and “Miracle products.” You were assured that using them would clear your skin, make it flawless, or hide the fact you even had zits. The influencer or makeup artist talking about it was sporting flawless skin, and you thought that if it worked for them, it must work for you, right?
Nope. Because as soon as you tried it, it didn’t look the same. It didn’t work. And this led to yet another breakdown of tears in front of your bathroom mirror, wondering why in the world you couldn’t have normal skin like everyone else.
I’ll let you in on a little secret. Not a single person has “normal” skin. Sure, some are lucky enough to have balanced sebum production, but I can count on one hand the people I’ve met that haven’t dealt with some sort of skincare issue. Dry skin, dull skin, hyperpigmentation, oily skin, large pores, rosacea, and yes, even acne.
Skin texture will always exist. That flawless pic advertising the latest drugstore dupe? Edited. Photoshopped. Airbrushed. Take it all away, and I guarantee you’ll see a few dark spots, some acne scarring, and pores all over the models’ cheeks and nose. Do you doubt me because you saw it in a video? Hate to break it to you, beautiful, but a lot of those influencers have a lot of money. Even if they didn’t use an obvious filter, they probably got their skin airbrushed anyway. I mean, they are advertising a product.
So, you see, I could have listened to that girl in eighth grade. I could have gone home and cried and begged my mom to once again take me to ULTA and spend her money on an overpriced facewash that would do absolutely nothing. As someone in her mid-twenties, I could continue to throw an absolute fit every time I get yet another breakout, despite the fact that I literally just got rid of one.
Instead, I look the mirror and I see my skin. It’s oily. Acne-prone. Large pores and acne scars on my temples and my jawline. Obvious, and impossible to ignore.
But I’m not upset by it. Not anymore. Because if I can learn to love my own skin, maybe there’s someone out there I can help to love theirs. Lord knows that’s what thirteen-year-old me needed a billion times more than yet another facewash