How to Love Your Natural Skin Again
If you’re anything like me, you’ve dealt with skin issues for as long as you can remember. I recall countless visits to my dermatologist as a teenager attempting to combat my overactive acne and the inevitable scarring that always followed.
Being confident in my own skin was never something I had fully embraced. I didn’t feel like “the other girls” who didn’t have to wear makeup, who had clear, even skin without trying (in my mind at least). Meanwhile, I spent endless hours in my bathroom trying every product imaginable to rid my forehead, cheeks, temples, and chin of the painful, cystic acne that would emerge on a daily basis.
Leaving the house without makeup on? That was unimaginable. Laughable even.
Despite the fact that, as the years passed, my liking towards makeup grew smaller and smaller, I still spent the hour in front of my mirror, dutifully applying foundation over blemishes and rubbing concealer over the naturally dark spots underneath my eyes.
Anything that might mask what my skin actually looked like was essential…right?
Then, the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
I was sent home from work without a return day in sight. Stores and restaurants closed. Suddenly, it hit me that I no longer had to wake up and “put on a face” for the world, because the world had basically stopped spinning on its axis.
I decided right then and there it was time to go on a “skin break.” After years of constant makeup usage with complete disregard for what was actually underneath all of it, I was ready for a purge. It was time to finally embrace and love my skin, and maybe now is the best time for you to do that, too!
How to Love Your Skin Again
The following are all the things I have been doing and practicing since mid-March 2020. I encourage you to dive in and try them yourself as well.
Look at yourself in the mirror without makeup on
This was my starting point, and it’s always something I have struggled to do. Seeing my reflection without at least a bit of concealer on made me cringe. Which, when you think about it, is not very great.
Even if this felt hard at first (which, it really did), I would use the time I had at home where I would usually spend putting on makeup simply looking at my bare face. This might look odd to some of you at first, but that’s because we spend so much of our day covered up.
Take this time to fall back in love with your natural appearance. Because this is who you are. This is what you look like. Makeup is a beautiful form of art and expression, but it shouldn’t be something used to cover “you” up. Get comfortable with yourself, and real skin again.
Once you do feel a level of comfort with your natural reflection, stop looking in the mirror so much altogether. You are more than just an external appearance, and you will actually feel happier when you aren’t dwelling on what your skin looks like so often. There are more things to life than that pimple on your chin! Move on, and embrace other things.
You can take time to journal or reflect on your thoughts as you try this exercise as well. Why might you feel so negative about your skin? What bothers you? Should it bother you?
Realize what you see in the media is not real
We are conditioned to look a certain way from a very young age. Everything we see from magazines to movies to social media confirms this.
Think about TV scenes where a woman wakes up from sleeping, as an example. Her skin and overall appearance is almost perfect .. almost like she might be wearing makeup, or has been airbrushed to perfection. It’s the same situation with that model you envy on Instagram. Chances are, that’s not what their skin actually looks like.
Start the process of “unlearning” what you think is true when it comes to seeing women in the media. Follow social media accounts that showcase natural skin (and natural bodies!). Ask yourself critical questions if you feel jealously when flipping through a magazine, and seeing a woman’s “perfect” face.
Embrace the blemishes and the dark spots
Do you get cystic acne? Do you have dark spots underneath your eyes? Do you have a scar above your eyebrow?
Congratulations, you’re a human being!
I spent so much time in my life trying to run away from my own skin that I didn’t take the time to be kind and accept myself, blemishes, and dark spots and all.
This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t seek treatment for things such as acne or skin discoloration - all of these things are perfectly normal and okay! But we can’t continue to beat ourselves up and put ourselves down simply because our skin is not flawless 24/7.
We are ever-changing creatures, and our skin will change with us, just like our bodies do. Embrace it at every stage, and take care of it. There are times in your life (like me) where something like acne might be persistent for years. It might feel hard and terrible, but again I stress, be kind to yourself, and be kind to your skin.
It is important to note that there are other situations in which people might feel nervous to show their natural skin. Maybe you experienced an accident, and have a noticeable scar, or maybe you have a large birthmark somewhere on your face. These features still do not make you less worthy or less beautiful, and I encourage you to embrace these things as well.
Read up on: How to Love Yourself First: 4-Step Guide
Invest in Skincare vs. Makeup
I spent so much time thinking about and investing in makeup, that I didn’t simply seek out skincare products that would nourish and help my skin, instead of covering it up and sealing it away under layers of “protection.”
There are a number of amazing things that actually happen to your skin when you stop wearing makeup (even if it’s just for a week or a month):
- Your skin actually starts to even out in tone and color.
- You become less exposed to bacteria (think makeup brushes, mascara brushes, etc.).
- Your lashes become fuller and look alive again!
- You don’t have to “tug and pull” so much on your skin (think about removing makeup at night with wipes and creams).
There are many ways to start your own skincare routine. It all comes down to your own skin (is it oily? Dry? A combination?) and the different areas you might want to address (dark sports? uneven skin tone?).
Be conscious of the products you choose, and why you are choosing them. I now tend to gravitate towards products that have more natural ingredients.
Make sure to dive into your own research to create your own unique natural skincare routine.
For example, I have always had naturally dark circles underneath my eyes. My “solution” had always been to buy expensive concealers, but this never actually fixed the problem. After some research, I purchased a product called Oils of Life: Intensely Revitalizing Eye Cream Gel from The Body Shop.
The results were truly amazing to me. My dark spots eventually cleared up, and my skin actually felt soft. I didn’t even need concealer anymore. And I was actually doing something good for my skin by using this organic product. Constantly packing on concealer to cover up? Not so good.
Again, this isn’t to be negative about makeup. It’s about flipping your perspective to use makeup as something that enhances your face and features instead of as a skincare solution.
Favorite Skincare Items
Here are some more of my favorite skincare items that helped me love my skin more:
Moisturizer and Face Oils
I actively avoided using moisturizer on my face for a big chunk of my life because I was convinced it would make me break out even more. Big yikes! Having a solid moisturizer (that works with your specific skin type) can make a world of difference.
I also embrace the use of various face oils, which actually work better to combat dry skin (and breakouts that often follow). My skin is happier, smoother, and radiant.
Related Article: Do You Need Skincare Serums?
Tea Tree Oil
There are actually a multitude of benefits to using tea tree oil in your skincare routine. I recommend trying out Tea Tree Skin Clearing Facial Wash, Tea Tree Skin Mattifying Toner and Tea Tree Oil from The Body Shop (can you tell I like The Body Shop?). Using this natural ingredient helps me stay away from harsher acne treatments and steroids.
Skin rollers help to balance your skin. They also work to reduce skin puffiness and give you a natural glow!
Vitamin C Anything
In general, having some sort of Vitamin C product is great for your skin (even more so now that so many of us are inside more often). Vitamin C, when used consistently, will give you brighter, better-looking skin - all without makeup.
Venture Outside Without Makeup On
Now that you’ve looked in the mirror, examined the false truths the media pieces together, and nailed your skincare routine, it’s time to put all of this into action.
Start small by going to the grocery store if you feel more comfortable. Eventually, start seeing your friends and loved ones without makeup on. Try going to an event without any makeup on. Take selfies without any makeup on, and don’t edit them so your wrinkles are erased (those are there because you smile and laugh!).
Chances are, you won’t be stared at or laughed at. You will likely feel freed as you do this more and more.
All of these things I’ve mentioned will eventually help you become more confident as you embrace them more and more, and the best part about all of this is that you gain time back.
Time that would have been spent staring at your reflection. The time that would have been spent carefully trying to apply layers of makeup. Time spent worrying about what others might think of your appearance. It’s time to break free and simply just be yourself. You do not, and should not, have to live up to unattainable beauty standards. We are all more beautiful when we can love our skin for what it really is.
Embrace your bare face and show the world who you are. It’s been waiting for you.
Related article: How to Practice Radical Self-Acceptance