I basically called my mom for help. Except when I say mom, I mean an esthetician.
I’ve had a bizarre couple of months. As some of you might know, when I’m not sharing beauty tips at XO, I work editing a biannual fashion and arts magazine, which means I engage with an industry that can sometimes help to put me in a funny place emotionally.
Post-fashion-week, I reeeeally wasn’t doing so good (for a number of reasons) so I took to my bed.
The mega bonus about editing and freelancing is I can do most of it from home. What initially can look like a fairly glamorous job can amount to me Skype-interviewing A-Listers and fashion types from my underneath my duvet, in between sobbing breakdowns.
Sometimes, I’ll be in the middle of an interview and I’ll just want to snap on my video so they can see what a mess I am. It’s one of those intrusive thoughts I get, like wanting to shout curse words really loudly in a library. Apparently there’s a phrase for that: l’appel du vide. I might get it on a t-shirt; tres chic.
When I get distressed, my hormones go all over the shop (or vice-versa, whatever) and, for the first time in my life, I had acne.
I’ve always had breakouts and stuff, but my skin was getting me down a ridiculous amount; I didn’t want to leave the house, I didn’t want anyone to look at me. That probably spoke to a bigger emotional meltdown, but whatever, my skin was easier to focus on than my soul.
So I devoted myself to working out how to fix my face, because everything else was going to take a bit longer.
I kept trying to do stuff like pour diluted cider vinegar on my face or wipe a lemon on blemishes, but I ended up smelling like a pickle. Nothing makes you more depressed than when you can’t hide under your sheets because the overpowering vinegar smell emanating from your pores makes you want to gag. Fact.
So I splashed out--I wasn’t leaving the house, so I felt like the money I was saving on transport could be diverted into skincare (and therefore, in a roundabout way, my mental health).
WHAT ACTUALLY WORKED
Firstly, I finally did it. I bought the Clarisonic. I hardly had enough energy to get a glass of water, let alone thoroughly exfoliate my face, and it felt like I ought to bite the bullet and just get one because the time I have spent researching it is obscene.
I cleansed, twice a day: once with Dr Sebagh Breakout Foaming Cleanser and once with Fresh’s more gentle Rose Cleansing Foam (dermatologists generally recommend foaming cleansers for skin suffering from acne).
One of the common myths about skincare is that when you break out, you should avoid putting more moisture into your skin after cleansing. This is absolute lies; if you strip your skin of moisture and do not replenish it, your pores can over-produce sebum to compensate, ending up in more breakouts, and it won’t be hydrated enough to heal itself efficiently.
So I kept moisturizing after cleansing, twice a day, using Kiehl’s Acai Damage-Correcting Moisturizer (which I now firmly believe to be the holy grail of skincare). It’s water-based so doesn’t grease you up, contains antioxidants and helps your skin to heal quicker than anything else I’ve ever found. Also, a little goes a long way; I’ve been using it twice a day for bloody ages and I’m only about a fifth of the way into the bottle.
I tried not to touch my face. Ever. I tried to be as aware of this as possible because, let’s be honest, home extractions generally suck. However, I topically applied Dr Sebagh Breakout Spot-On, which works to calm and reduce redness but, most importantly, purifies blemishes; it seems to bring them ‘to the surface’ (gross, but cool). I applied it every few hours throughout the day (or as often as I could remember to).
However, this did not stop me from scratching at my pores in desperate mania to have the clear skin that I once prided myself on.
By this stage, I had gotten into such a state with my mental health that my wonderful mother bought me a facial to cheer me up and inspire me to leave the house. I went for a Dermalogica one that pretty much changed my skin/life within 24 hours, so I went back two days later to buy this stuff that I’d been given a sample of: their Daily Microfoliant. It comes in this weird power formation that contains sacylic acid (ideal for acne) and rice enzymes to exfoliate, and I used it every few days to give myself an extra boost.
I know I am starting to sound completely insane and probably like an infomercial, but I have two more recommendations. If you’ve ever read any of my stuff before, you know the inordinate love I feel for masks, and the joy I get out of finding different ones for different occasions. The best I found this time round were Kiehl’s Rare Earth Deep Pore Cleansing Mask and Aromatherapy Associates Overnight Repair Mask.
I love a mud mask for drawing impurities out of skin, but overuse can dry you out, so I used that once a week and then the Overnight Repair Mask to hydrate and help repair the blemishes.
What’s cool about the overnight mask is that you leave it on for a minimum of two hours (so, overnight) which makes watching a triple-bill of Law and Order: SVU seem more like a necessity than a depressing way to spend an afternoon.
Changing up my skincare regime has healed me; I’m not exaggerating. Maybe my new skin and outlook has to do with something like a new moon in Venus or something, maybe I needed the rest that I got, maybe it’s a combination of those things.
All I know is that I feel like I might have found my own miracle regimen, and I’m white-knuckle clinging to it.
Does anyone else feel like when they get miserable, they get mental skin, too? Do you have any cures? Am I doing the cider vinegar/lemon thing wrong?