Hello & wishing you the happiest of days, as always!
I wanted to talk about a very specific experience I had late last year (stretching into the beginning of this year) that really, truly changed the way I viewed my skin, & how I am no longer afraid to go out with no makeup on – even when I’m breaking out.
In late November of last year (2016) I started to notice I was breaking out very, very frequently – odd, because although my skin does break out, it usually happens around my period, or because I used a product that just wasn’t good for my skin. This was different, though – although I used spot treatments, clarifying masks, & a whole lot of other things, my “breakouts” didn’t get better. In fact, they got worse & worse. They were itching, like a rash, but it definitely didn’t look like a rash. By the time I went home for Christmas break, my skin was making me feel like I had fire ants all over my face – I was red, itchy, & extremely self-concscious. I put on as much face makeup as I could to conceal it, but nothing worked – my spots were still very, very evident. I decided that this must be some kind of weird acne, possibly cystic, that I couldn’t do without a dermatologist’s help, so I went to my dermo over the break.
My dermatologist walked in the room, took one look at me, & said “That’s a staph infection on your face.” I was pretty taken aback. I thought staph infections only occured on the body. I was very wrong. My dermatologist explained to me that staph originates on your own skin, & on the inside of your nose. It’s very commonly present on your body or inside your nose – but because my immune symptoms were compromised, I couldn’t fight off an infection so easily. She told me it was likely a micro abrasion on my skin that had caused the staph to spread on my face – & that me picking at the spots, or using various treatments on them only spread the bacteria to different areas of my face, causing a big old mess.
She gave me a topical antibiotic cream, told me to “WEAR NO MAKEUP!” & said for me to check back in before I left for school.
I was…not so happy with these instructions. It was the holiday season, & I had parties to attend, Christmas dinner with my family, & New Year’s! I was scared to go to the grocery store looking this way, let alone attend a party or a Christmas celebration with a bare face.
At first, I stayed at home, holed up in my room. When I wanted something from the store, I would ask someone else to go get it. I was so embarrassed!!! What earth would people think? I wondered.
One day, my mama had other things to do – she said if I wanted a coffee I’d have to go get it myself. I hung my head low, put on a beanie to conceal the spots on my forehead, & tried to be as quiet & as insignificant as possible.
What happened? Nothing. I got my coffee. No one stared, or whispered, or asked what was wrong with me. I got my coffee, looked at the flowers on display, & headed back home, feeling slightly freer.
After that, I stopped asking other people to go out for me. I started small: I went to the grocery to pick up things for a meal, I went to the mall with my siblings when I felt a bit more comfortable, &, although I did end up wearing makeup for Christmas, that was the only occasion during that whole time at home that I wore anything to conceal my infection. I knew that putting on makeup was just going to slow the healing process – &, comfortable with that knowlege, started caring less & less about what other people thought.
What did other people think? Honestly, probably nothing. Thinking about it now, I know that everyone is dealing with their own problems in life. It’s more likely that they’d just walk right past, thinking about their children, wife, or the boyfriend who’s cheating on them, rather than stare & point at my skin. I started to realize that really, I was the only one who cared so deeply about my skin – because we (mostly women) are told by society that we should be ashamed of spots, freckles, moles, birthmarks, acne, scars, & more – especially on our faces.
Knowing that covering up my imperfections wouldn’t help me at all, I started to care less & less. My infection healed, of course. It took about four weeks or so to get back to “normal.” Still – to this day, I have a small scar on my right cheek from one of those spots.
There’s a difference now, though. I really, truly don’t care when I break out now. I don’t care about covering up my tiny, tiny scar. I’m not self-conscious about texture, or uneven brows, or the freckles I get in the summer.
My staph infection was annoying, painful, & embarrassing. However, it taught me several things: 1) to be more hygienic; to wash my hands before putting one finger on my face 2) to just go with the flow when I break out. It’s not the end of the world! Will people notice? Maybe. But that doesn’t matter, either.
Do I want clear, glowy, smooth skin? Of course I do. I want my skin to be pretty & blemish-free…but I also want it to be healthy. Now, if I break out, I treat my face more gently. I’m careful not to pick at my face so that I don’t spread bacteria & I don’t douse it in salicylic acid to get rid of one small blemish on my chin (which just results in dryness & irritation – sometimes even rashes). I use spot treatments, of course! I’m a face mask junky, & a huge fan of skin care in general, as you all know! But I’ve come to realize that face masks & spot treatments don’t fix everything. It’s important to be gentle to your skin, & to keep your hands clean when touching your face. These things alone helped improve the quality of my skin!
Still, of course I have bad skin days. Now, however, I don’t overthink it. I don’t feel embarrassed, & I don’t try to cover it up – it just slows the healing process.
It was totally normal for me to be embarrassed & self-conscious about my skin. Now, however, I’ve lost that embarrassment. I’m more self-conscious abou the way I treat my skin – not just my face, but my whole body! Most importantly, I recognize that blemishes don’t necessarily make me “unhygienic.” They certainly don’t make me “disgusting.”
As much as brands, magazines, & society want to convince you – there’s no such thing as “perfect” skin. Everyone has imperfections, everyone breaks out – some more than others, of course, but still. It’s not a shameful thing! Just becuase you’re breaking out doesn’t mean your skin is unhealthy. It’s unfortunately just how our skin works. Just like humans, skin isn’t perfect. It has good days, bad days, & it also has constant flaws. Learning to accept this made me a more confident person, a person who cared less & less of what other people “might think.” It doesn’t matter! Now, my skin’s health is first – & yeah, I’m still going to break out, & still have the risk of getting another infection. But I never again will feel like I’m not fit for the public eye just because my skin has some red spots on it. & neither should any of you!