Today marks the end of the month - this is just something I noticed and nothing to do with the content of this blog.
Let's start again.
Today is going to be the day I "bare it all"; I've been struggling with wanting to post this for a very long time because this involves sharing some awful images of my skin, and how awful my skin was/is. I've never been insecure about my skin until I was in my adulthood, where acne just started popping up left, right, centre (mostly around the mouth area).
If you have acne prone skin, you'll know how it feels - makeup doesn't go right, you're supposed to not use cosmetics so your skin can breathe, but you'll end up using full coverage because you hate how your spots look, and then the makeup starts to be cakey, especially around the spot, and you can never conceal a bump.
You know what I mean right.
What today is not about is how to "cure" acne. Because the reason why anyone would have acne differs and what works for me doesn't necessarily work for you.
Today is all about showing you all the gross and awful images of my skin. Only cropped, unretouched on the phone and various lighting. My old phone has an automatic skin-smoothing capability so it's not that my skin is poreless, but because it's been digitally blurred before I even brought it through any app.
So brace yourself, here goes. After these horrific images, you'll see 5 things I've done to combat bad skin like that.
These are my skin at some of its worst times, taken at different periods so I would have broken out, then healed, then broken out in different areas at a different time. How bad it has been has varied over time, but the more than acne is that the rest of my face wasn't in a particularly good condition.
Real talk - it took me hours to trawl through my google photos to look for all these archived images, because no one takes selfies when their skin is THIS bad. I took them for my own reference, to get an objective perspective, and to accept it for what it is and start moving forward.
It is absolutely DEPRESSING having skin like that. Because even though 70% of my face is actually fine, but who cares about the good? It's always the bad parts that stick out, literally, and I just don't have the skill to conceal and smooth and generally spend 2 hours in front of the mirror trying to get it right only to have it all patch up 2 hours later (or less).
Not only was my skin spotty, they also left some deep scarring in which some I am still trying to get rid of - it gets harder as you grow older! My skin was textured, bumpy, I had whiteheads, blackheads; it was dehydrated, oily, irritated... it was as if I had literally all the problems everyone has on that one skin, or at least I felt like it!
Following is when my skin has gotten better and after a whole year, I have transformed my skin - i still have hormonal breakouts and deep scarring, but the breakouts have eased off.
The bottom line is that Good Skin Takes Time.
It took me a whole year (at least) to fully transform my skin to what it is today. I appreciate every single makeup artist who have told me my skin was great and it is my pleasure to tell them that I have worked so hard for it. I appreciate that my skin wasn't dire in your eyes, but when you have bad skin/spots/whatever, no one else's opinions actually matter to you.
Because honestly, when I had skin like that, I really didn't give a sh*t what everyone else say and only cared about how I saw myself and what I will do about it.
"Good skin" can be defined differently by different people; the meaning differs between you and others. I want good skin because it's easier for me to be confident about myself, because it can reduce the amount of time I put makeup on, because I can roll out of bed and not needing to spend a huge amount of time getting ready just so I can go out to grab a few bits. I want good skin because I want to be able to use many different products, instead of limiting myself to certain ones because they work better for my skin. My curiosity for makeup and skincare is a strong enough motivation for me to have good skin.
Here are 5 things I have done in the past 2 years to transform and maintain my skin.
Take what you need and don't expect to learn anything ground-breaking because these are not unique tips. You probably already know these, but are you doing them and doing them regularly? Be honest. Good skin is the byproduct of good habits.
- Double cleansing:
I have always cleansed my skin with oil, then foam/second step cleanser. What was different was the product I was cleaning my skin with. The product that really transformed my skin for the first time was Vichy's Normaderm Face Wash. This is for acne prone skin as it contains salicylic acid, a BHA, which works inside the pores to help clear. Eventually I was able to move on to other k-beauty washes that don't contain salicylic acid, although I do try to use face washes that have a lower pH or enzyme wash to help the skin build its barriers
- Hydrate, hydrate and hydrate:
If there is one thing and advice I would give, is to use everything hydrating. From cleansing to toning to sheet-masking and all the way through to moisturising. Your skin may be dull not because you haven't exfoliated enough, but because it isn't hydrated enough. The trend in Korea is to have "chok-chok" skin, which is the dewy-ness that is trending in the west currently, and this is achieved by non-other than hydrating. There are so many products out there that claims to do so many things and when I get confused why no products are working for my skin, I will always go back to hydrating, the only way where I have seen worked in fading my scars and reducing spots as it restores the balance between oil and water in the skin
- Know your skin
This doesn't come easy, but there is so much resources on the internet these days, and instagram is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to beauty and skin care. Know your skin first and diagnose what your skin type and skin condition is, before identifying what can potentially cause problems with your skin. Chances are that if you are breaking out, there may be another underlying problem.
For example, for me, my skin condition is dehydrated, but my skin type is oily. So when it's dehydrated my skin will product more oil to compensate for the lack of water. How to "fix" this? Hydration through sheet masking and doing it intensely for 7 days in a row.
Figure out what the problem is before trying to figure out how to solve it - if you do this for your job or for other aspects of your life, why wouldn't you do the same for your skin?
- Don't touch your skin so much
It's tempting, but don't. Your hands/fingers are covered with gross bacteria, grime, and etc. Honestly sometimes you can't help it but not touching your face, or only touching your face after you've cleaned your hands, is going to help by not pushing any additional dirt into your skin.
I have admitted this before, but I pop my spots. I make sure that not only the pus comes out, but also the "head" of it pops out (otherwise it will regrow). But I do not use my fingers to pop as I may smear the bacteria to other parts of the face. I use cotton buds to gently squeeze everything out and wipe, rather than using my potentially dirty fingers and make the spots flare up again because of contact with bacteria.
- Remember that good skin takes time; good skin is the by-product of good habits
Even if you naturally have good skin, this still applies to you.
This is going to be cheesy, but I firmly believe and have gone with this motto to keep myself motivated. I strongly believe that you work for the skin that you want tomorrow. I know this sounds intuitive, but ask yourself if you really live by this, or do you want instant results? Retinol doesn't work over-night, hydration loses over-night, your body doesn't eject toxins instantly...etc. You get the hint. Your skin will not miraculously change over-night to perfect, porcelain skin so the efforts you put in today, you will reap results at least a few weeks away
Of course, there are certain products that would help you overnight/instantly. When this happens, chances are that it's directly targeting areas where you have neglected over time. For example, if you haven't exfoliated in several weeks, then the first exfoliator that you use is going to have more effect on your skin than if you exfoliate 3 times a week.
Over the years, I have really learnt that my skin is the byproduct of good habits. These could be little things like, always removing makeup before I sleep, double cleanse in the evening, use micellar water in the morning, always tone, masking often...etc. I will always believe in this because of the good beauty habits that I have trained myself to have.
Figure out what your beauty bad habits are and think about ways which you can change them. You may not see instant change, but if you try to keep track, you may just be very pleasantly surprised.
So this is it. I have never shared these images with people before as I am certainly not fond of sharing no-makeup selfies, but in this instance, just to show you how bad my skin was, here you go. My skin has gotten worse/better and I am working everyday to move to good skin.
What does good skin mean to you? Why do you use good skin? What good/bad beauty habits do you have and may change?