I’m the daughter of a gorgeous Sicilian woman, who was born to gorgeous Sicilian parents. Our heritage runs deep and we’re proud of our roots. Yet, one of the downfalls to having our olive skin is that it’s also a grease pit. I watched my mom struggle with breakouts my entire when I was going through the same thing myself. She finally found a regime that works to help combat it, but she didn’t make that breakthrough until well into her 50s.
I turned 31 years old this week, and I’m determined to adjust my skincare future as soon as I possibly can. Until my mid-20s or so, I depended on inexpensive drugstore products to get me through. At first, it was out of necessity. As a high-schooler and then a struggling college student, I couldn’t afford to get facials or invest a ton of money in my cleanser and makeup. So I walked to the local campus community store and just got whatever was on sale. I also only washed my washcloths about once a week, so that compounded the problem.
My bout with cystic acne started in my junior year of college. I can’t stand to look at pictures from that time in my life, because they humiliate me. I tried everything I could think of within my and finally visited a dermatologist while I was home one weekend. I had only been to her once before to get a mole removed in middle school, so she performed a careful exam and analysis of my skincare woes.
Listening to her, I began to realize that I only have one skin, and it’s important to invest time and yes, a little bit more money, into keeping it in tip-top shape. Her expert advice revealed to me that while I can scrimp in some areas (designer jeans versus knockoffs, for instance), there’s no need to do so when it comes to my health, and that includes my skin health.
While that visit was inspiring, I wish I could say that I went home and immediately headed out to buy all the top-end products I could. I follow enough celebrities on social media to know that there are some incredible, life-changing skincare treatments that can really make a transformative difference. Yet, I was still under the mindset that while my skin was important, I had exams to take and classes to attend. I couldn’t spend too much time indulging in face masks and eye creams even though I now wanted to more than ever. So I kept my nose in the books and my eyes on graduation.
It took getting out of college and into the real world before I finally realized that the skin aging process is very real and can start as early as your twenties. I began noticing tiny crow’s feet alongside a few stray gray hairs. I began to see my chin erupt in a pattern similar to my and discovered that my oily skin, while great at warding off wrinkles, would take of me if I didn’t do something about it. The only catch? I didn’t know where to start.
I sat down one night at my computer and started researching as much as I could about skincare. I learned that certain foods can trigger a breakout, as can certain environmental conditions. I learned about natural, organic product lines as well as ones chemically-enhanced with skin-boosting chemicals like retinol. I took notes with a fervor I hadn’t shown since college and headed out to the department store (not the big box store) the next day to make a few purchases. I didn’t go crazy and spend my entire weekly savings, but I did invest in a few top-shelf products to create a simple, 1-2-3, cleanse/tone/moisturize routine I could follow day and night. I started implementing the steps, adjusted my diet to be a little and took about 10 minutes every day to focus on nourishing my skin.
It didn’t take long to see the results. In about two weeks, 30 years of neglect were erased and I started seeing a brightness and brilliance in my complexion that hadn’t been there before. People began complimenting me and asking what I was doing differently. Was it my makeup? Truth be told, I wasn’t wearing any. For the first time in a very long time, I felt comfortable and confident enough to leave the house bare-faced, and I can’t tell you what a liberating amazing feeling that was. It was also a great boost for my self-esteem, and also made it easier to save on cosmetic products. When you invest in your actual skin, you don’t feel the need to clutter it up with tons of foundation, powder blush. Now, I love to leave the house with minimal concealer on and let my glow shine through.
After all of this time, I finally realize that taking care of my skin isn’t optional, and it certainly isn’t something reserved just for the wealthy or elite. It’s an accessible goal that starts with changing our mindset and realizing what’s really important. At 31 years old, I finally do.