Why Skincare?

sheet mask heaven

I…kinda have a thing for sheet masks.

Throughout the last year-and-change, I’ve been cultivating a dedicated skincare routine.

Gone are the days when I would wash my face with a single cleanser once a day, use astringent haphazardly, hardly ever moisturize, and (forgive me) fall asleep with a full face of makeup.

Now I’m all about double cleansing, toning, moisturizing, serum…ing?, and (my favorite) sheet masking. I’m proud to declare that not a single smudge of makeup has hit my pillows in quite a long time.

After much trial-and-error, I’ve found a system that works for my skin. Save for very minor flare-ups, my face has been in the clear.

Then it happened.

Currently residing on my left cheek is a big ol’ pimple, visible from outer space. OK, it just feels that way. But it hurts, and is way more prominent than I’d like.

Meanwhile, my chin has become home to the Rolling Hills of Blemish Country. Didn’t ask for that.

Oh, and I also didn’t ask for a mosquito to leave a significant bite on my forehead over the weekend, either.

So much for that skincare routine, huh?

Well, let’s think about how I would have handled this scenario before I adopted a proper skincare routine:

  • Pop that cheek pimple
  • Keep poking said cheek pimple, since it’s feeling full again
  • Meanwhile, slather my face with some drying acne gel and/or an astringent
  • And that includes the mosquito bite, because it’s all in the same family, right?
  • Wear layers of makeup to conceal the dryness and redness…and fail miserably
  • Fall asleep with makeup on
  • Cry
  • Repeat

Now, here’s how I’m actually handling it:

  • Stick a blemish patch on the cheek pimple overnight and hope it draws it to a head/flattens it out
  • Focus on applying products that target clogged pores (hello, charcoal)
  • Also add some aloe to that mosquito bite, since that’s what works
  • With slight modifications, maintain my routine as normal
  • Wear a light bb cream for coverage, but don’t cake on the makeup
  • Wash makeup off before bed
  • Be patient

This infamous post from January called out the “con” that is the skincare industry, and as I’m dealing with extremely stubborn skin for the first time in nearly a year, these lines keep replaying in head:

Don’t we all have friends who are fanatical about skin care and don’t… really (whispers) have great skin? How can that be? It’s simple: the end product of a skin care regimen isn’t perfect skin, but the regimen itself — something that, in high American style, you have to steadily escalate over time, lest you stagnate. Don’t you want to improve?

Sure, some people with those meticulous regimens have great skin. And yet they still get blemishes!

The above passage — which is a poor attempt at being tongue-in-cheek and just flat-out rude — fails to grasp the real reasons why many of us have developed a passion for skincare.

I’ve never had bad skin. As a teen, I had my standard breakouts and poor makeup choices. What I didn’t anticipate was that pesky acne following me into my twenties and early thirties, in addition to the laugh lines that have comfortably carved their niches. (The makeup choices are slightly better now!)

Eventually, years of lax skincare started to take its toll on my complexion, and I was battling breakouts, dryness, oil slicks, and overall dullness more often as an adult than I ever did as a teen. Fortunately, I decided to do something about it.

It’s unrealistic to think that anyone’s skin will be 100% flawless 100% of the time. Perhaps someone who is totally new to a Korean beauty regimen will have those lofty expectations at first before they, too, realize that it’s not an attainable goal. It shouldn’t be, Insta filters be damned.

Here are my end products of a skincare regimen:

  • Being well-equipped to handle breakouts and other unfortunate situations, because I can’t control the weather (yet), and hormones are a bitch
  • Learning more about my body and the products I put in/on it — science has always been my worst subject, but thanks to my growing interest in skincare, I’m developing a (basic) knowledge of the chemistry behind it
  • Becoming much more willing to ditch the makeup, because my skin, while not flawless, is still pretty damn fine as it is
  • A relaxing form of self care because dammit, I deserve to be pampered sometimes
  • Cultivating friendships with great people all over the world who are more than glad to share their own stories and knowledge of skincare

No, this isn’t a particularly cheap hobby (but I know how to bargain shop!), and I’ve fallen victim to shams or poor research in the past. I’m by no means an expert, but I’m still learning, and gaining more knowledge each day.

I’ll never be one of those women who has a thousand-dollar, 12-step skincare routine, and I’m not about to lambaste anyone who does. As long as it’s not my money or time that’s being wasted, what does it matter to me? On the other hand, I hope/trust that those people have put thought and research into the products they purchase.

Flawless skin is a myth. I know that. Well, now I do. I was once that naive person who thought that serums, emulsifiers, and other products I had no clue existed would make my skin free of all the bad things.

This episode I’m dealing with now? It, too, shall pass, and it shall pass much more quickly than when all I’d expose to my face was a bar of soap and dirty fingers.

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