My Journey from Makeup Lover to Skincare Minimalist

From the day I hit puberty, my skin felt impossible to deal with.

For much of middle school, my skin had pretty run of the mill acne. I tried salicylic acid. I tried benzol peroxide. In washes. In lotions. In spot treatments. These were the days of Clean and Clear, Neutrogena, and Clearasil.

By high school my face was speckled with white heads all over. Good, old fashioned pizza face.

I was prescribed a topical retinoid, the tried and true Tretinoin. And it did stop the whiteheads, but not the other forms of acne on my face.

Then came the bacne and chestne. Birth control and acne scrubs seemed to nix those right up, but the acne on my face for the most part persisted.

By senior year the acne started to come from deeper down in my face and line my chin. A hormone blocker, Spironolactone, was given to zap those hormonal zits by preventing their formation. But by now my face looked like a battlefield. I started to wash with diluted rose Dr. Bronner’s soap and moisturize with pure jojoba oil. I also began to wear heavy makeup most days to cover my skin and give me that senior year glow up I so direly needed.

My life was Sephora and Ulta. My life was tutorials on YouTube and Instagram. Nothing got me more excited than a new pallet dropping or finally getting the exact lipstick I had wanted. I was consistently highlighted to the gods.

And that’s where I was with my skin in the second semester of freshman year of college. That is when my skin began to, out of nowhere, break out in rashes around my eyes, nose, and mouth. I doubled my Spironolactone, which improved my acne, but did nothing for the rash.

I was diagnosed with a variant of perioral dermatitis: periorificial dermatitis. It meant my skin was very easily irritated by basically everything: heat, cold, humidity, dryness, sun, sunscreen, being over washed, and most life changing, makeup.

The doctor gave me an antibiotic and an emollient to manage the symptoms. No knowledge of its cause. And so, to prevent further rash breakouts I was told to wash my face sparingly with the most bare-bones soap I could find. I was also told to pack on the oil free moisture. Pretty usual advice for anyone with any skin problems. So I did my own research.

I found that perioral dermatitis can be caused by an overgrowth of yeast in the gut. I cut white bread and refined sugars from my diet. It can also be caused or exacerbated by fluoride and sulfates. I changed my toothpaste and everything I used to wash my hair and body. It can also be healed or calmed by use of rosehip oil.

So, I greatly cut my morning and evening routines. When I wake up I brush my teeth with Jason toothpaste and splash my face with water. Then I moisturize with pure rosehip oil. If I’m having a bad perioral dermatitis reaction I tap on the antibiotic before I oil, and slap on the emollient after. If I’m having a bad acne breakout (still deep, possibly cystic acne, on my chin every once and a while) I tap Dirma’s Litchi Bliss on the zits, and it shrinks them right up. At night the routine is about the same, but I wash with the gentlest and least ingredient filled facial soap I can find and may dab a zinc + sulfur spot treatment on the big zits. When I have to look nice I curl my lashes and tame my brows with a brow jell. Makeup is for special occasions only now, worn once every few months. That’s it.

Now when I break out it’s my own fault, not nature’s. If I have a pimple on my cheek I know that it is from either leaning my cheek on my hand or picking at my blackhead prone cheeks. When I get a huge zit on my chin I know I forgot to take my spironolactone. And when I get a pd breakout, I know I haven’t been very nice to my skin. Maybe I wore makeup the night before. Maybe I played with a toner at Sephora. Maybe I put a chemical sunscreen on my face instead of a physical one. But now I know that I am in control of my skin. I know what my skin likes. My skin likes to be open, my skin like to be naked.