My face has always been a pretty accurate barometer for my health. A mood ring for how badly I’ve been looking for after myself, if you will. Milkshake for breakfast? Spots. A week of being stressed and not sleeping? Zits. Leaving a Turin shroud of last night’s un-removed make-up on my pillow? A whole buffet of pimples, blackheads and closedcomedones.
But then there is also, of course, the wholly unfair monthly ordeal of hormonal breakouts – a cruel twist of my twenties after my acne-free teens, where all I’d had to deal with was ashy mousse foundations and a misguided period of thinking eyebrow pencil as lipliner looked good.
Before becoming a skincare evangelist, every time these monsters would arrive like clockwork, I’d analyse the painful cystic lumps that plagued my chin with a 100 x magnifying mirror. Itchy, throbbing volcanoes; too shiny to cover with makeup and too tender to ignore. I’d fantasise about peeling my face off so I could pop the suckers out from the other side like an ice cube tray. Instead, they’d just sit there mocking me. Every potion that promised “results in just 24 hours!” seemed to make my beard of zits even angrier. I was convinced skincare was a scam.
Rather than shelling out for eye-watering dermatology treatments, I became enthralled by the alchemy of amateur skincare addicts posting on Reddit. Thread after thread of real people with real chin volcanoes publishing their trial and error findings. It was through Reddit I learned about purging, about chemical exfoliators, about how oils are not the enemy of oily faced people, about vitamin C – I could go on. Who knew using the same moisturiser for ten years and hoping for the best wasn’t helping my situation?
I was convinced skincare was a scam.
I now can’t imagine evenings without massaging my face with cleansing oil until I go into some kind of trance. Does this massaging really stimulate my lymph nodes and ward off wrinkles? I have absolutely no clue, but it feels really, really good. Then I swipe my chemical exfoliant across my perma-oily chin and almost hear the bacteria screaming in my pores like the Wicked Witch melting in The Wizard Of Oz. Now, when I can feel a chin volcano erupting, I am serene. This is an enemy I know and can beat. I lull my chin zits into a false sense of security by feeding them with rich oils and moisturisers, rather than trying to desperately flush them out with drying products (read: toothpaste). And once they’re nice and fattened up, BAM, I hit them with a hydrocolloid patch.
I used to spend my evenings doing everything but taking a needle to these gremlins and got my kicks watching YouTube compilations of professionals evacuating pores of gunk, but now I am my own entertainment. Yes, my bathroom cabinet looks like a Victorian chemistry set, yes, I probably know too much about the molecular structures of my toner, and yes, my bedroom skincare routine has become a twenty-minute ritual complete with scented candles and dolphin noises.
But I ask you: if skincare is a scam then why am I glowing?
JO’S ‘ALCHEMIST’ SKINCARE PICKS