My skin has changed tremendously over the past 4 years. I graduated from high school, went to university, suffered an insane amount of stress, worked over summers, came back to more stress, traveled the world, more stress, graduated from university, and came home. You can see from the below photos (in chronological order, from oldest to most recent) that my skin went from teenage normal to teenage gross to just gross to weird and then now normal-ish.
I grew up with combination-oily skin that was acne-prone throughout my teenage and university years. I broke out everywhere and I liked to pick at my pimples, so it left acne scars everywhere.
The horror of my skin peaked in second year when it felt like my whole face just decided to explode on me. I think part of the reason was that I didn’t know which products to use, which meant I just slathered on whatever looked good at the time, regardless of whether it was good for my skin or not.
There are more really gross photos… I just don’t want to scare everyone away… =)
I remember when I went to visit the Anna Sui counter in Toronto in the fall of my second year (2008) and the lady there had amazing skin that I yearned for. I asked her for her skincare tips and she said she used whichever products she thought her skin needed that morning or that night. At the time I was so puzzled because I didn’t know what my skin needed and I didn’t know how to tell. But I’ve really grown out of that phase and now I’ve started to use products more suited to my skin, which is why it has now “evolved” to be much clearer than before.
Towards the latter months of the first half of my second year, I discovered Cellnique’s Skin Action Sebum Gel, which helped to alleviate the pimples I would get during exam period. I was very thankful of this concoction as I didn’t have to wake up to feeling disgusted and self-conscious about myself.
Travelling to Europe and then China in the second half of my third year was another turning point for my skin. I wasn’t as stressed as I had been while studying at my home university so my skin had a lot more time to heal than before. My skin stopped breaking out regularly and I only suffered from the occasional pimple a couple of days a month.
I suffered from heat rash when I travelled to Hainan for International Labour Day break in China. This rash made my skin extremely dry, red and itchy. It took me about a month to overcome the heat rash and go back to semi-normal.
The climate in China was another thing my skin needed to adjust to as it was very humid there, and so all the heavy creams and serums that I had brought back with me from Europe was useless.The humid climate also meant that I didn’t have to use as many products as compared to Europe of North America; I could just slather on some emulsion or moisturizing milk and go, instead of the 4-5 different products I would use here.
When I came back from China though, my skin changed again. This time it was a complete nightmare to deal with because I felt like I didn’t know it anymore. It became very dry and dehydrated, probably due to the drier climate in Vancouver. No matter how much cream or serum I piled on at night, I would still wake up with peeling, tight skin. I have never experienced this in my life as I have always been combination-oily so it was an interesting experience for me. After trying a plethora of different products, I finally established NARS Aqua Gel Hydrator as my go-to moisturizer.
Later last year, I bought the Clarisonic Mia. It worked beautifully for me for a few weeks and then my skin became too sensitive to use it any more. I stopped using it earlier this year and I now rely on traditional cleansing methods and my trusty AmorePacific Enzyme Treatment Peel to get my skin clean and glowing.
I’ve never been afraid of posting up my photos online, even those without makeup. I think it’s good for me to “chronicle” the changes in my skin, so I’ve never hid it or try to change it with Photoshop.
My skin still has its ups and downs, which is normal because of the hormones in our body. I can’t think of anyone who has gorgeous skin year-round, and I think that is just a part of who we are as women. Just a yesterday I started breaking out again around my chin, which is where I seem to get it most nowadays. Hopefully with my current regime, I will be able to better control it.
P.S. Sunscreen is always a MUST. I really cannot emphasize that enough. I wear SPF 30-50+, PA+++ sunscreen daily, year-round, no matter what the weather is outside. I’ve forgotten sometimes, especially when it is really gloomy outside and the weather gods always seem to know and punish me by making the sun come out. But really, wear sunscreen. You skin will thank you when you are 50 and spot and wrinkle-free.
P.P.S. Acne scars fade over time with exfoliation, so if you have lots of acne scars now, don’t worry! If you remember to exfoliate regularly (2-3 times a week), it should fade within a few weeks and you’ll be back to having clear skin in no time.