I have always had a lot of issues with my skin. From puberty until this minute, my skin has been by turns:
- Super holy shit oily
- Acne prone
- Prone to hyperpigmentation if I scowl at it
You get the idea.
As a youngster my problems with my skin were heavily involved in the very few images of Black beauty I was exposed to. Like many other folks of color, as a kid, I was quite a bit darker skinned and that was a problem for me. By the age of about 15 I thought I knew how to fix my face:
- Lighten my skin
- Fade dark marks at any cost
- Pluck my face clean of EVERY SINGLE FUCKING EXTRA HAIR
Around this age, I (this was 1992ish) I also started to realize that the methods for dealing with problem skin, foundation and concealers etc was not available to me. When I went to Rite Aid or where ever the darkest shade of anything I could find was usually Tan. Or rarely I could find either a pale caramel color or super dark. Nothing in between.
Thus began a (at this point) 20 year search for “good” skin and the start of my very fraught relationship with skin care.
Up until about five years ago my quest was for smooth, velvety perfect brown skin. Achieved either through skin care or make up or both. Flawless the way Black women are supposed to look according to what I knew about Black beauty.
I researched and have spent thousands. I tried saving up for microdermabrasion, I bought at home microdermabrasion products (don’t), expensive systems (proactiv etc), scrubs, fancy cleansers, special fucking towels all promising to fix my problem.
A few years ago I decided to stop trying for the perfection I thought I was supposed to have.
Well, what actually happened was while I was looking for some foundation that provided coverage, didn’t break me out and that I could afford I broke down into tears at home because I couldn’t find or afford anything that seemed like it would help. My face was broken out and my hyperpigmentation issues were getting worse and my latest DIY terrible idea had made things worse.
I also sat myself down and wrote in a journal what I really needed from my skin and skin care. This is what I came up with:
- Less discomfort in the form of rashes, itching, irritation.
- Affordable in terms of the amount of self care money I set aside quarterly.
- Smoother skin
- Moisturized skin
With that in mind I started with doing a few simple things. I started drinking more liquids. I figured out that my body functions better on more hydration. I also got back on the vitamins I take. Yes, I know a lot of folks say that vitamins are bullshit. For me, if they are bullshit they are bullshit that helps me feel better overall so it’s worth it.
Next thing, I found my perfect combination of skin cleansing. On the advice of many YouTube makeup folks, I remove my makeup with wipes. I use the ones I buy at Big Lots or Grocery outlet. I’m not super particular as long as they are good and moist and can remove at least 95% of the five pounds of eye make up I wear regularly.
Second, I worked on finding the cleanser for me. I bought a lot of high end deluxe samples of things and used some drugstore stuff. What I need in a cleanser is gentleness that also gets my skin squeaky clean. I went back to a product I don’t know why I ever stopped using. African Black Soap. Now, let me explain y’all a thing. The secret to success with African Black soap is in finding the company/formula that works for you. I prefer to use it in liquid form. I also use it to shampoo my hair and wash my body fairly often. If you use the bar, remember it shouldn’t be solid black generally speaking. Handmade African Black soap is brownish and looks kinda poopy and is soft.
My next important cleansing thing is my Clarisonic Mia. Yes, that is expensive as shit. I was gifted one, but had been saving up.
Here is my super pro tip. Prior to even thinking about getting it, I picked up the Dynamic Duo face brush from Sephora. It’s like a big version of those little face brushes you can get at the drugstore. I used that daily, and still use it on my chest and back of my neck and it led me to investigating the Clarisonic. It is pretty great to use, fits nicely in the hand and does a lot of what I like about the Clarisonic.
As I’m talking about these things, bear in mind that it took me a good year or so to get through and figure it all out. I have a rule about trying out skincare. Barring immediate skin irritation, I use products for a full 60 days before I decide if they are working or not. Take photos of yourself before or jot down in a note how your skin feels or how your makeup goes on if you wear it. If you have menstrual cycles, try to give a product, at least 2 (if you’re regular) full cycles to see how it works.
So if we pause there, here’s what happened. I noticed after a few weeks of just these changes that my foundation was going on far easier. It took less to get on my face. I also started to notice that long term gentle treatment of my hyperpigmentation caused a lot of it to start fading.
The next thing was to find a good nighttime moisturizer. On a whim, I went with a Vitamin C serum and the Olay 7 Effects moisturizer. The combo of these things has made my skin routinely silky and the serum has upped the efficacy of my Black soap in helping keep my skin clear even around my period and has prevented a lot of hyperpigmentation and faded a lot of what I had.
Overall, what I’ve learned is to be gentle with my skin. As oily as it is, usually we’re told to throw EVERYTHING at it to stop the oil. That doesn’t work for me. I need clean, well moisturized skin.
My rules for the best skin I’ve ever had:
- Use suncreen/moisturizer every day I go outside.
- Give Products a chance to work.
- Don’t expect miracles.
- Drink some damn water.
- Always remember to remove make up.
- Have some fucking fun.
There you have it.
And here you have me with my spotty nekkid face and my fully beat all glam face.