My skin makes me cry.
Less now than it did when I was a teenager, but I still wish I’d been born with different skin.
Perfect skin. Unblemished skin. Skin that never gets chapped, freckled or irritated.
It was my curse to be born with the worst of all possible skin combinations:
Sensitive, oily skin.
Not just slightly sensitive. SERIOUSLY sensitive.
New brands of moisturizer burn my face. My trash bin is full of cosmetics that made me break out.
Not just slightly oily. SERIOUSLY oily.
My bangs would stick to my forehead. I gave up wearing sticky lip gloss because strands of hair would end up glued onto my face.
A boyfriend, whom I always think fondly of, once said I had a “healthy glow.” Bless him. He had no idea.
As a teen, I thought the answer was cleansing. LOTS of cleansing. I washed my face every chance I got.
What I didn’t realize was that I was aggravating the problem. If you strip away the skin’s natural oils, it will overproduce to compensate. Years of washing with harsh cleansers just made my skin oilier.
I used to believe that my self-esteem (or lack thereof) all came down to my skin. Those teen years of scrubbing, sobbing, and concealing. Wishing I could hide my face under a mane of hair, or a really droopy hat.
Thank God a few decades intervened.
Maturity teaches many lessons, not the least is how to deal with the skin nature dealt you.
If you, too, are cursed with sensitive, oily skin, I’d like to hug you. Let’s sit down and bitch. Then, once we’ve got the complaints out of our system, I’d like to share with you what I know about living with a skin type that makes lesser women go into hiding.
Cleanse less. Cleanse smarter.
It’s hard not to believe the advertising. If you’ve got oily skin, then you need a strong cleanser and a powerful astringent, right?
Let me explain with a story.
Years ago, my niece was getting the first signs of puberty, bright red facial exclamation marks. Her mother splashed out on one of the priciest acne-control systems out there, the one all the celebrities used.
One day, my Reiki master was at my house, and she happened to see the bottle of the brand-name cleanser on the table. She was horrified. “You’re putting that on a child?!” she said. “Give me a piece of paper.”
She wrote down five lines and handed it to me. It was a recipe for a homemade cleanser using essential oils.
“That’s all she should be putting on her face,” she said. “EVER.”
I was cowed. The bottle of cleanser was hastened away.
But here’s the thing…
I never tried the cleanser recipe. I didn’t know where to get the ingredients. Eventually, I lost the scrap of paper.
I didn’t understand how oil could be used to clean the skin.
Isn’t oil the problem, not the solution?
How things have changed.
Now I know that my skin is smarter than I am. My skin knows it needs oil to protect it from the elements. If I take those oils away, it’s just going to put them back.
I needed to cleanse less and cleanse smarter.
Don’t strip your skin’s natural oils away. (You’ll thank me when you’re the last among your friends to get wrinkles.) Instead, make a swap. Swap the dirty oil in your pores for gorgeous scented facial oil.
Try rosehip oil or jojoba oil as a base. Add a drop of essential oil: rose, tea tree, neroli, lavender. Look online for recipes. So fun, so inexpensive, and so good for your skin!
If you want to get oil off your skin, don’t clean it. Blot it.
It’s such a simple idea, which is why many of us overlook it.
But I’ll share what really converted me.
The idea came from a women’s magazine. Trust me, I didn’t make this up.
Instead of wasting money on blotting paper—which comes in such minuscule squares that it takes a stack to do any good—use toilet seat covers.
Toilet seat covers?
No joke. They WORK. Just as good as any commercial grade blotting paper.
The best thing is, you can blot your face every time you use the restroom. Oil control throughout the day.
Free, quick, and keeps your skin happy.
Look for a gel moisturizer, not a cream one.
I used to sneak my mother’s Olay moisturizer. (Except back then it was OIL of Olay—notice how they dropped the “oil,” like it’s a bad word?)
Even oily skin needs moisturizer. But cream moisturizers—all that was available back in the day—tend to leave oily skin even stickier and shinier than before.
Enter gel moisturizers.
Gel moisturizers are unbelievable. They’re largely water, which makes them perfect for oil-based foundations that tend to slip and slide. Water hydrates, without going all greasy. (My favorite is Clinique’s Dramatically Different Moisturizing Gel.)
One thing I know for certain:
Had I known what I know now back when I was a teenager, I wouldn’t have wasted tears on anything as unimportant as a bit of shine.
I would have believed that boyfriend who told me I had a healthy glow.
I would have clipped my hair back off my face and smiled radiantly to the world.
You glow, girl!