I've been feeling self-conscious about my face lately. The combination of old acne scars and newly flushed cheeks (thanks to the rosacea I've inherited from my mom) has been making me want to hide my face behind makeup more than ever before.
In high school, I never wore makeup--not even nail polish. My mother often lectured me about the dangers of putting too many chemicals on my skin. In college, I definitely owned mascara, and I'm sure I must have owned some lipstick, but I can't even remember what kind. I never wore any kind of foundation or cover-up because my dry, blotchy skin made it impossible to smooth it on perfectly.
In my senior year of college, my friend won a makeover. She invited me over to her place to have it done with her. Having suffered through many previous makeovers that only made me look ridiculous, I dreaded it--but I went anyway. Cut to the makeup woman trying to apply foundation to my bumpy red cheeks and dry nose. It caked horribly over my skin. Obviously frustrated but probably not wanting to blame the product she was trying to sell, she said, "Well, it'll go on better once you fix your skin."
Yes, she actually said that. Funnily enough, that didn't spur me to do anything to "fix" my skin. Rather, I just avoided makeup for a few more years.
I obviously ended up embracing makeup in the end or I wouldn't be here, but now I'm trying to go back to my old habits of not wearing so much foundation. It's hard because now that I've figured out how to effectively cover my flaws, it's a struggle to go back to baring them. Some days I look in the mirror and all I can see is my blotchy cheeks and acne scars... or lately, the giant zit on my cheek.
Still, I refuse to be a slave to foundation every day. Instead I've tried extra-hard to make my naked face look good. Isn't that what everyone wants? Well, it's particularly hard for people like me with rosacea, but here's a comprehensive guide of what I've been doing for the past few weeks to improve my skin.
SEE A DERMATOLOGIST
This was the very first thing I did once I realized I had inherited my mother's rosacea and that it wasn't going away. Rosacea never goes away; the best you can do is try not to make it worse by getting it angry.
My dermatologist gave me a prescription, Metrogel, that I apply every night and a list of things to avoid. That said...
Seriously. Stay in a dark, moist cave. The list of things to avoid that my derm gave me included: sun, wind, hot weather, cold weather, humidity, hot showers, hairspray, coffee, tea, any caffeine, any hot drink, yogurt, cheese, chocolate, alcohol, spicy food, and exercise. Oh, and getting out of bed in the morning.
Obviously, it's impossible to avoid all of that, so the only thing to do is to figure out what irritates your skin the most and try to cut back or outright eliminate it.
The sun is particularly terrifying for me now that I'm putting so many things on my skin that make it even more sunburn-prone. In the winter, I use moisturizer with SPF 15 in it (I keep meaning to bump that up to 30), and in the summer I mix in some sunscreen with SPF 70 as well.
Coffee and alcohol definitely make my face flare up, so I've gone from daily use to weekly with both. Fine, several times weekly with alcohol--but no more having a beer or glass of wine with every dinner. If I do have coffee, I limit it to one small cup. I've also stopped eating yogurt every morning. Chocolate's another story.
When winter comes, I plan on trying very hard to wean myself off my long, hot showers, and I'm also going to wrap a giant leopard print scarf around my face whenever I venture out into the cold. I'll pair it with lots of eyeliner and red lipstick and look super-hot and mysterious and only slightly trashy, maybe.
PAMPER YOUR SKIN
For years and years, I only washed my face with water. I tried using drugstore facial cleansers and exfoliators, but they always felt too harsh on my skin. The pamphlet I got from my derm said to avoid harsh exfoliators and anything with alcohol in it, so that was a good call in retrospect.
Still, it's kinda dumb to do nothing and hope for the best. I now have a happy medium that I've been trying out for the past month or so.
In the morning, I wipe my face with some water and witch hazel. I've read conflicting advice about using witch hazel for rosacea, so just to be on the safe side, I keep it away from my cheeks. It keeps the rest of my skin clean, toned, and moisturized without any alcohol or parabens.
If I notice my face is getting flushed and gross during the day, I spritz on some rosewater. It smells nice and is supposed to calm the capillaries under your skin.
At night, I work a bit harder to clean my face. If I've been wearing makeup, I usually remove it with a combination of wipes and either coconut oil or jojoba oil. Jojoba oil is particularly great because it won't clog your pores, and coconut oil is perfect for gently removing eye makeup. I also use jojoba oil for moisturizing my face. As for wipes, it was ridiculously hard to find a brand without any fragrance, but I finally found Olay Wet Cleansing Towelettes for Sensitive Skin. These are fragrance-free, with aloe and vitamin E. I can't recommend them enough. So many wipes have irritated my face in the past.
If I'm not wearing makeup and just want to get the day's grime off my face, I wash with a gentle face cleanser: Red Better Deeply Soothing Cleansing Cream from VMV Hypoallergenics. I was sent a box of products from their line to try more than a month ago and I've been using this cleansing cream every night since then. I still have more than half the bottle left, but I actually think I'll break down and buy more once I run out. The entire line is meant to calm redness and is completely free of fragrances, parabens, and all that nasty stuff. It's non-drying as well, which I appreciate. I also like their Flare-Up Balm and Spot Corrector from the same line.
The last thing I do at night (besides applying the Metrogel) is give my dry skin a boost with some extra moisturizing. I like to use Eucerin Intensive Repair Very Dry Skin Lotion, especially in the winter. Again, I made sure it was fragrance-free. However, this will make your skin more sensitive to the sun so make sure you're wearing sunscreen every day.
Once my skin is clean and moisturized, I get into bed and snuggle up to my NEW SILK PILLOWCASE. It just didn't feel right not having any caps lock in my article, you guys. And I'm really excited about this pillowcase. People have been raving about the benefits of sleeping on silk. I'm sure my dry, red skin and bleached hair will thank me in the morning.
So those are the changes I've been making to my skincare routine. My skin feels softer and less dry, and my cheeks don't seem as inflamed every day. As for days when I do feel bad about my skin, at least I always have crazy nails and bright lipstick.
I know a bunch of you guys have rosacea too, and I'm still learning, so share your tips and experience in the comments to cheer me up. Seriously, the idea of giving up booze and chocolate made me so sad that I'm sitting here stuffing booze and chocolate in my face to feel better.