Most of our parents taught us to study hard so that we would have more choices in life than we would if we didn’t. Well, the same thing goes for skin care and makeup choices. The things you do or don’t do today will have an affect on your appearance tomorrow.
As a woman in my thirties, I did worry some about looking too old too quickly. However when I saw many of my peers complaining of issues that my mother didn’t even have yet, I got the idea that the problem wasn’t aging. It was the cumulative effect of years of neglect or abuse due to self hatred and/or falling for fads.
Getting old happens to us all, if we live long enough. We can each look forward to wrinkling up in due time. However, not everybody’s forehead creases deeply by the age of 27. For some people it does because that’s just in their family, or they didn’t have the luxury of an easy life, and that is fine. The thing is, you don’t want to damage yourself today because of worry about 27 or from someone making false promises to you about it.
The beauty industry thrives on making people think we have more control of these things than we do. When you look at the most beautiful people around you in real life though, you notice that it is often their little quirks and so-called imperfections that make their appearance pop. Ordinary, by definition, is not extraordinary. It is extraordinary to nurture your natural beauty like you would nurture say, a pet who is special to you. You would try to feed them in a way that would nourish them and give them a shiny coat and a wet nose. You would brush them and treat them with love. Do that for yourself as well.
The time to start thinking about how you’re going to look when you’re 40, is when you’re 14, or maybe even sooner. The most important thing for you to nurture in your youth, as much as possible, is self love and self acceptance. Accept and love your skin because no matter how many problems it may have, the fact that you’re alive means that it is doing its job protecting your innards from the elements. Protecting your insides is your skin’s primary job, not being smooth and looking flawless. If you help it to do its job, then its appearance will stand the test of time, even if it has an occasional problem. If you have a serious skin problem, it is even more important to treat it with care. If you do, it won’t get as bad as it could.
When you reach puberty, your body begins to develop rapidly over the next few years. If you have ovaries, you’ll be storing more fat in the hips and chest, and your body is preparing itself for its childbearing years. This takes up a lot of nutritional resources, and your hormones will be triggering your body to make it look less childlike and more adult-like, from the shape of your face to the sweat under your arms.
Whether you have designated female or male physicality though, the starting skin care should be the same. All of the biological designations will have ups and downs with oil production, and all will have the kind of stresses in transition to adulthood that can lead to unnecessary issues if the skin is mistreated during this time of fast development.
So to start, try washing your face only with tepid water and a washcloth. Wipe the first layer of dirt off, and then rinse the cloth, and wipe again. Afterwards, use a totally natural moisturizer, such as a drop or two of extra virgin olive oil, and spread this out as well as you can while your face is still damp.
You should also make sure to hang your washcloth someplace where it can get thoroughly dry before you use it again. The best place is outdoors in the sunlight. If you can’t do that, a towel rack or hook is okay, but check it to see if it has dried within an hour or two. If not, then it has been damp long enough to grow too many germs. You might need to just use a fresh, clean cloth every day.
I am a fan of the washcloth because sponges are basically just bacteria collectors. They do not get dry enough in a short enough time. If you must use sponges because you don’t like the texture of washcloths, use a natural sponge that you can boil to sterilize. There are also silicone facial cleansing pads. I haven’t tried them, but some say they work very well without scraping the skin too harshly.
The reason to start out clean and natural, is to prevent any self inflicted skin problems brought on more by paranoia than nature. Many people made their own skin problems by using too much of an “unnatural” product to solve something that wasn’t really a problem. Some people’s acne is actually allergic reactions. Some is a reaction to harsh cleansers damaging the pores so they can’t properly excrete sweat, oil, and dirt.
If the simple method works well for you, and you don’t notice any unpleasant dryness or oiliness, this may be all you need as a daily regime. Some old folks with great skin have been doing just that since they could wash their own face. I would add only one thing to prevent clogged pores around the nose and under ear area though. Once a week, wipe over your face with a mild toner or a home made mild toner made of a tablespoon of aloe vera juice and a cup of water, before moisturizing.
Every once in awhile, the skin does need an extra thorough clean, but this should be done very gently.
This is also a good time to build a good health foundation, that will prevent premature aging. What goes on inside will show on the outside. Avoid diets, but also avoid junk food. Work with your body instead of against it.
Then if you notice that your skin has special problems, go to the dermatologist or an esthetician. Not the internet. Not someone on your favorite video site. Go to see a specialist in person to figure out what is going on.
Stay Hydrated. Watch the Sugar. Mind Changing Sensitivities.
Staying hydrated and being mindful of sugar intake is a given. What many teens miss though is that many foods that were fine for you during childhood will start to wreak havoc on your guts in the teens. Don’t just power through. This is the time when your body is screaming at you, not just talking. Listen.
Many people go vegan or vegetarian in the teens. Fast forward 30 years, and a whole lot of older people have troubles with digestion and can’t eat much meat. It’s anecdotal and just based on my experience caring for older people, but a lot of these people with digestive issues have told me that they used to eat a lot of processed meat and cheese, and not enough vegetables. So without needing to be told, I prioritize vegetables.
I’m not vegan or vegetarian, but a semi-vegetarian, meaning I don’t eat meat every day, definitely not in every meal. At every meal though, I do prioritize vegetables. I also however, try to get enough of vitamin B-12, D-3, and K as well as iron.
Even darker skinned people need sun protection. We can sunburn. It just takes a bit longer. Also, even though our skin has its own protection, it’s not always working the same at all times, and over time, sun damage will add up and become visible. We need more sun exposure than paler people to make enough vitamin D, but there’s a limit to that which is somewhat individual. The thing is, you don’t always know what that limit is until it’s too late, so it’s best not to get there.
Day to day, it’s a good idea to use a sunscreen or moisturizer with sunscreen that is at least SPF 5 to 15. This is about the protection level that many living a traditional life in the Motherland get from using unadulterated shea butter, coconut oil, and other things. You might not need much, but you do need some.
There are professionals who recommend that we use stronger sunscreens though. Dr. Patel, who often advises Essence Magazine says we need SPF 30. I have never seen anyone who regularly abides by this under 30, but many older women I know use sunscreen regularly. So I don’t really have any experience to draw on to advise whether or not you should stick to the old fashioned way, or start young using strong sunscreen.
This is why though, I say talk to a professional if you notice any problems. I can point you in the right direction, but your skin is yours, and you need to do what is best for you. I, as a rando writer on the internet, can give general advice, but this should not be taken as instructions specific to you about what you should do without thinking.
When you start wearing makeup, less is more. Try to avoid wearing an all-over foundation except on special occasions, but do practice and do a color check every few months. First off, you don’t want to have the “clown face” situation, and second, makeup does expire. Like any other product, as soon as you open it, it is exposed to bacteria, dust, and possibly mold spores in the air. You want to change out any makeup that you have opened at least yearly.
If you must use foundation regularly or daily, opt for a type that is specific to your skin type as in moisture level, and understand that the simple cleansing method is not going to work to get all that makeup out of your pores. You will need a cleanser that is made for removing makeup, and may need to double up with one oil based cleanser and one water based cleanser. That may come in the form of a cream or oil type cleanser, and a foaming cleanser.
Afterwards, you may be tempted to use a harsh toner, but harsher isn’t always better. Thorough is what you really want, and there are gentle formulas containing citrus and aloe vera that do a better job than alcohol.
Eye makeup should also be changed yearly. This is something people tend to over-buy and end up with stacks of half used makeup that are years old. To save your eyes and your wallet, I recommend getting only as much eyeliner as you think you will use in a year, and two or three seasonal palettes. If you have individual colors that you must have, great, but buy them one at a time. If there’s a sale on your favorite of dry or powder eyeshadow, you can put extras in a bag in the freezer. Put them inside a zip-lock type bag so they won’t collect too much condensation. Freezing will slow down bacterial growth.
Thank you for reading my article. If you have any tips for the young folks out there, please feel free to post a comment.