Try as we might to change things for the better, the beauty realm remains rife with various misconceptions. The most dangerous and (damaging!) of all stems from the attitudes surrounding laziness and ‘supposed’ imperfections, where persistent skin conditions such as acne, eczema, or even rosacea are attributed to having a lackadaisical attitude about treatment options. You’re not ugly, just lazy. The situation isn’t hopeless, you’re just not trying hard enough. This — paired with the industry’s constant touting and peddling of products — means most of us are trapped in a vicious cycle; a never-ending coil of pursuit-and-purchase to cure our complexion issues.
My first brush with this came during my teenaged years. The emergence of painful, pus-filled boils overnight prompted a series of increasingly panicked choices; an unrelenting wave of insecurity that took ahold of my thoughts and being. Any moment I spent not actively coming up with solutions meant that I was slacking off — and thus, deserving of my situation. It didn’t help that ‘beauty is pain’ served as a typical adage in the early aughts. I’d interpreted the harsh, punitive stinging of my astringent toner as a sign of effectiveness; the burning sensation from my exfoliating scrub dubbed ‘normal’. If it wasn’t hurting, it wasn’t working.
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A part of me wishes that I was an outlier in this; a perfectionist whose stubbornness and determination became detrimental to her own self-worth. My time working in the beauty industry, however, disproves that. The sheer number of how-to articles about repairing one’s skin barrier serves as testament, the unintended consequence of utilising too much products too fast. 10-step routines have become normalized. A lack of discernable results right off the bat is more than enough reason to abandon a skincare regime and start anew.
Are we playing into every single trite millennial stereotype by demanding instant gratification from everything we embark upon? Perhaps. And yet, it seems impossible to break free from the lure of immediate results, the promise of on-the-spot effects. In our efforts to be our “best selves”, we have failed to acknowledge that skin is a lot more complex than a Happy Meal; an entity that is worlds apart from the various other superficial trappings that individuals “need” to get by. Your complexion is an organ itself — the largest, in fact, so it stands to reason that requires just as much care and attention as a kidney.
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Put this way, it seems unreasonable to demand that skin recuperate or transform in a span of days. Not when a process calls for the rewiring of entire atomical structures; the complete regeneration of specific cells and particles and iotas. And so, here is my suggestion: The best thing you can do after you’ve slathered your mien in all manner of potions and elixirs is to wait. Yes, seriously. Wait. Cease your ongoing research on the latest, most invasive skin-procedures, and stop refreshing the review section on Sephora. Attempt to divert your thoughts elsewhere, and your energy into something more productive and quantifiable. It might not be the answer you’d like to hear, but it’s the one you need — skin can be a fragile, fickle thing, and fixing it requires an elevated degree of patience paired with perseverance.
At this point, the best (and healthiest!) thing you can do is to re-frame said circumstances in your head. You’re not defined by your complexion, and to pin the entirety of your worth to it is ludicrous. So, please, for the love of all things holy, remove those buzzy new retinols from your shopping cart. I promise that it can be a valid consideration once more in a mere two to four weeks.
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