Every time I post a photo of myself, someone inevitably comments on my supposedly “lovely” skin. Whenever this happens, I immediately feel embarrassed and ashamed for even taking the photo in the first place. I feel like a fraud. An impostor. Like someone playing the part of a girl with nice skin. I deny, deny, deny…and then I change the subject.
No one is ever going to see me in person and compliment me on my skin. Ever. Trust me. On a good day I’m invisible, and on a bad day I’m a troll. Honest.
See, here’s the thing: I’m not going to put a photo of my myself with full-on trollface on the internet. Why would I? Isn’t the beauty (pun intended) of the internet—and of digital photography—that you can represent yourself visually in the best possible way? The truth is that I hate having my photo taken by other people. It literally makes me feel nauseous, especially when the photo is being taken with a camera other than my own, and I know I won’t be able to control its destination. If I could get away with wearing a surgical mask and sunglasses in public at all times, believe me, I would.
I don’t take photos of myself on bad days. I wear makeup. I take photos in good light (this is why so many of my pictures are set in the bathroom at my office—the fluorescents in there are weirdly flattering). And, if anything still looks bad, I take full advantage of Photoshop.
There’s still real life, though, and until I achieve my dream of being a brain in a jar capable still of communicating (don’t try to tell me it’s not possible), I do what I can to keep my skin looking at acceptable and non-trollish as I possibly can.
This isn’t even everything. I actually put a few items back in the cabinet because I was so embarrassed by the sheer number of bottles and jars.
Like Martha Stewart, I’m kind of obsessed with Mario Badescu products. There’s a product for just about every skin type and condition you can think of, and the amazing thing is that it all works. I know I sound like a shill here, but I swear on my dogs that no one is paying me or compensating me in any way. If you have grouchy skin and you’re not happy with your current skin care regimen, go fill out this questionnaire. In a few days, you’ll get an email with product recommendations and an offer to get a bunch of free samples. Take the samples. They are generous enough to really be able to tell if a product is going to work for you.
It’s really, really hard to recommend skin care products. Body chemistry from one person to the next is so different, and there are just so many variables that will cause us to react in our own ways to different things. Skin is so personal. I actually still feel terribly for recommending Mario Badescu products to a friend who wound up not getting the great results that I have, but at least she was able to return most of what she’d bought (hooray for great customer service!).
My own skin can vary wildly from excessively oily to very dry from day to day, and is often a combination of the two. I’m prone to breakouts, and during hot weather, I get patches of acne rosacea on my cheeks. Stress, dehydration, lack of sleep, and too much sugar have a really bad effect on my complexion. My experiences with prescription dermatological products have been very bad. In general, I find that the gentlest products with the shortest lists of ingredients tend to have the best effect on my skin.
In addition to the wheelbarrow of Mario Badescu stuff (which, I should note, I don’t use all at once—I vary products depending on the current state of my skin and its needs), I also really like Kiehl’s Supremely Gentle Eye Make-up Remover and Creamy Eye Treatment with Avocado. I’ve been doing a trial run with Philosophy When Hope is Not Enough serum at night (I got a free sample), and so far, it’s nice. Whether I still like it a month from now is another story, though, so the jury is still out.
In general, though, things have been looking okay lately. Not perfect, but okay. I’ll take what I can get.