I Moved Across The Country, And My Skin Is Pissed

I asked Dr. Katie Rodan, founder of Proactiv, what the heck is going on with my face and what I can do to make sure it doesn't keep happening.
Publish date:
July 26, 2013
moisturizers, acne, zits, changes, interviews, Proactiv, dermatologists, climates, Dr. Katie Rodan, moving

So, I recently took my late quarter-life crisis plunge and moved from NYC to LA.

My sundresses are thrilled. My pores--and my grandmother--not so much.

Maybe it's simply the stress of, oh, I don't know... starting your whole life over?! Or maybe it's from sitting on a gross plane with stale air for over five hours. But either way, my skin is not pleased with this new development.

The same thing happened to me six years ago when I moved from home (Atlanta) to the Big Apple after college. Only that time I was eating whole cartons of cookies every night for comfort (thank you Devil Wears Prada job), and in LA my biggest binge will likely be green juice (kidding, I had challah French toast this morning).

The salesgirl at the Upper West Side NYC Sephora also scarred me for life when she mentioned all of the dirt that was flying at my face every time the train came barreling through the station. That pleasant breeze on a hot summer's day? Oh just the subway spitting 499743 particles of filth at my pristine complexion.

I'm uber-fortunate that I've only had a few battles with bad skin... in high school my Spanish class name was Margarita (foreshadowing of my favorite adult beverage perhaps), and my little sister found it high-larious to call me Margarita pizza face. She even had a little jingle to go along with it that she still enjoys singing. She just turned 24.

Since then, it’s just the occasional mishap, though obviously I think it’s the end of the world every time it happens and rush to the dermatologist like my life depends on it. And it typically happens right before something important like a big client meeting, a date or--GASP--Fashion Week.

But this is the first time in six years I’ve actually said HOLD UP… this isn’t gonna fly--why did this happen?!

Turns out, there is many a thing I should have tried prior to my move to prevent this mess. Sadly, I didn’t ask Dr. Katie Rodan (yes, the goddess derm who co-founded Proactiv) about options until AFTER the outbreak. Next time I’ll know better, because her tips make oodles of sense.

“Any type of change can be stressful, and moving across the country is right up there. Stress triggers hormones that can cause flare-ups in acne, eczema and even some types of hair loss,” says Dr. Rodan. Yikes! Glad I didn’t get saddled with all of those.

“A change in climate--for example, moving from a cool, dry environment to a hot, humid one--can also take a toll on your complexion. Heat stimulates the oil glands to crank out more sticky oil, which clogs pores, creating an acne flare up.”

She recommends switching up “your skincare routine for an environment that is radically different from the one you have been living in. If you are moving to a dry climate, add a moisturizer or moisturizing sunscreen to the last step of your routine. If you are acne prone, make sure that the product is oil-free and noncomedogenic. It may take a few weeks [for skin to clear up after a move, but it will take] less if you take the steps recommended above.”

Yep, about to order me some Proactiv Oil Free Moisturizer with SPF 15 on the double.

Her last tip is something I really should have known to do considering I have so many friends in the beauty industry already living in LA: “Consider making an appointment with a cosmetic dermatologist in your new location to help you make wise choices regarding your skincare program.” Next time, I’m going to make sure to have a new derm on speed-dial before I even set foot on the plane.

So after much research and some deep reflection I’ve come to the conclusion that my issue is just a big ol' combo of stress, planes, diet, dirt and Dominos. As in pizza face. Get it? But I’m switching up my skincare routine and looking forward to a zit-free future.

Has your skin ever lost its mind after a move? How did you deal?