Skin woes

I have a problem with my skin. A dermatologist called it atopic dermatitis (eczema), but I’m not convinced. I like to think of it as having “lizard skin,” because I feel like if I could just molt like a snake or something I’d be good. Basically, my skin doesn’t like me and routinely informs me of how displeased it is with me and my life choices. Allergies and other irritants play a part, as does stress, but I think my personality triggers it too (I’m probably kidding about that).

Basically, my skin picks an area of my body and decides that it’s going to be itchy, red, bumpy, scaly, and all-around-awful. It first became a problem in my late teen years. It all began with my hands. One day I put some lotion on, and after a few hours my hands got itchy. It was weird, because it was the same bottle I’d been using for months. I washed it off, thought I was good, but the next day I had these weird, painful blisters on the palms of my hands. They were a little itchy, but mostly just painful. They went away after a few days, but that was when I discovered that lotion is the enemy. So that’s fun. I’ve tried many throughout the years to try to pin down the problem ingredient(s), but I haven’t figured it out yet.

The next major incident occurred when I was approaching college graduation and my licensing exams, and I had a spot on one leg and both eyelids that basically decided they weren’t interested and decided to jump ship (literally, I was so itchy that I scratched the skin completely off – it was unpleasant). After my exams, it went away almost overnight. I guess it felt like I had been tortured enough.

I had flares that came and went on my arms and legs for several years, and then things improved when I got pregnant with Emmett. Yay! I was cured! (maybe not)

After Emmett was born, the itchiness moved to my face. My doctor actually thought I had lupus, because I presented with the classic “butterfly rash” across the bridge of my nose and onto my cheeks. She was so convinced, that even though the test she did said I did NOT have lupus, she didn’t tell me that and instead referred me to a specialist who charged me $400 to say “Why did they send you here? The test came back negative. I’ll do another test I guess? Nope, this is negative too, you’re fine.” Cool cool cool.

I have an assortment of steroid creams and ointments that I use to keep the worst of it at bay, but they’re not a cure or anything. My real goal is to find my triggers and work, one by one, to eliminate them. Unless it’s food. Sorry, skin. I like eating.

So here’s the good news in this itchy odyssey – things are improving! I stopped using commercial shampoo/soap/body wash/face wash a while ago (I have no idea when. One year? Two years?), and the rashes have all but disappeared from my body. My own homemade creams, lotions, and soaps (I wash my hair with a homemade shampoo bar) do the job without causing any problems. Yay!

My face is still a problem, though. Majorly. I’m so G.D. itchy all the time. My problem here is that I can’t use commercial moisturizers to help with the dryness, because they make me more itchy. I can’t use non-irritating creams or ointments (like Eucerin or Vaseline) because they clog my pores and give me acne. I can’t wear makeup because it makes me itchy, and also it gets stuck on and under the patches of dry skin and makes everything much more noticeable. That said, on really bad days (when it looks like I’m some kind of Chernobyl refuge), I’ll wear concealer and a light foundation of some kind to minimize the scare factor, but then I pay for it later. So… yay.

But I haven’t given up hope! My skin won’t win this battle! I wrote a while ago about my cold cream adventure, and that’s still been working for me! It doesn’t have any of the icky stuff that seems to bother my skin (artificial dyes, fragrances, masking fragrances, preservatives), and it lets me wash my face and lightly moisturizes to cut down on the dryness without fear of itchy retribution. Yay!

Recently, I’ve wandered into the realm of makeup production. Because of course I did. So here’s why I’m writing this today – I’m very pleased with it, and I want to share my success! But first, let’s take a look at what I’m working with.

Wow. The lighting isn’t very flattering, but neither is my face.

Sooo…. this is what I look like on a bad-to-average day without any makeup or camera filters. Except my lips – I’m wearing my tinted lip balm (also homemade). Forgive my hair, I showered and it wasn’t fully dry yet. As you can see, my face is very red. That’s not just your screen, that’s just me. Yes, it’s itchy. Yes, it hurts. My skin doesn’t like me, okay? You get the idea. Also, I’m sure I’m doing this wrong with the camera angle and all that. I don’t take selfies, like, ever. I think you can see why.

Huh. Well, that’s not so bad, is it? Ooh, those lights are harsh though. It looks even better in more natural lighting.

Here’s what I look like immediately after applying my own makeup. Is it perfect? No. But I’m not going for perfect, because I believe 100% that if it looks like you’re wearing makeup then you’re doing it wrong. I want it to look like THIS is what I look like, rather than making it look like I’m wearing makeup and have people think “I wonder what she looks like under all that makeup?” Yes, I still have red spots and some blemishes. But, honestly, that’s fine. I look NORMAL, and that makes me happy. Also, my freckles are still visible, which is perfect. Show me a face without any freckles, and I’ll show you a fake, painted on face.

Here’s the beauty of it, though – it’s simple! There’s an “undercoat,” which is basically a tinted moisturizing sunscreen. It takes 30 seconds to apply it with a makeup sponge, and it offers light coverage, hides some of the redness, and moisturizes my skin without clogging pores, causing breakouts, or feeling heavy. This is followed up with a 15-30 second buffing with a light powder to give it an airbrushed, but still totally natural, look. The powder also contains a sunscreen, is lightly tinted to further help to hide blemishes, and absorbs excess oil to keep you shine-free all day.

Bonus: it smells faintly of hot cocoa. I’m very pleased. In fact, I’m so pleased with it that I might add it to the shop after the holidays when things calm down. It’s that good.

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