I have terribly dry skin. I don't mean the thin, flaky, old, papery kind. I mean the tight, fine-lined, drinks products like a fish type dry skin. But that is on the top layers, or epidermis. Deep from the base layers erupt lovely things like blackheads, whiteheads and gunky puss filled often painful pimples. Lots and lots of pimples. Apologies, wrong tense. I had dry skin and I suffered blackheads and pimples. So what changed?
You see until my mid-thirties (around about a decade ago...ish), I wore mountains of makeup, all day every day, to cover up ugly embarrassing lumps and blackheads that I truly believed made me less of a person than the porcelain perfection that stared at me from glossy magazines. I had scrubbed, extracted, steamed and covered my skin from the time I entered into teenage years when things started going wrong. I was teased terribly at school by other kids and my confidence was rock bottom and it stayed with me into my adult years. To combat it, I was convinced I could scrub it away. So I started scrubbing. And the more I scrubbed and the more makeup I slapped on, the more eruptions I suffered....so the more I scrubbed and the more makeup I wore...... see the cycle?
As I got older, they didn't disappear and I even took the habit of wearing my hair down most of the time so I could cover up the huge red bumps along my cheeks, jawline and pretty much accepted what everyone said, "it is probably hormonal". In addition to that, I spent a small fortune to try and save my skin. Nothing worked. And it wasn't hormonal.
How do I know this? Because one day, I was given a small piece of paper containing a name, Amanda, and a phone number from a friend (with perfect skin it needs to be said).
Intrigued, I called and made an appointment. I arrived in a small building in the middle of Glasgow. Up three flights of dreary, damp concrete stairs I went, into a small unglamourous, grey carpeted waiting room and sat down. Three other women, who I guess were in their late 40's sat reading magazines without speaking. No phones, no conversation, nothing. I smiled at the lady next to me. She smiled back and continued reading. It was uncomfortably quiet, and there was no receptionist. Just a desk, a glass display cabinet full of products that looked more medical than beautiful and that grey carpet. The windows were covered too. Weird.
Suddenly a door to a second room opened and in swished Amanda. A mid-50s, glowing with health, perfect skin, full of life woman who spoke in a loud but quite posh Australian accent. Chatting away to another lady, I guess in her late 40's about skin.
Because Amanda knows skin. What I didn't realise until later is that what Amanda didn't know about skin, just isn't worth knowing. But even moreso, what I thought I knew about skin turned out to be totally incorrect!
Suddenly I found myself being ushered from the small and unimpressive waiting room into what can only be described as a surgical room. Everything was white. Kind of like a dental surgery. Including all of the impressive equipment and gadgets which, I kind of hope she would NOT be using on me. I needn't have panicked though, as it turns out there were to be many months of gentle enzyme based facials and the use of some high performing Vitamin A products to gently remove the scarring left by years of outbreaks and picking, before the instruments. Phew then. I think. I prided myself on being a professional beauty salon goer. I knew the routine, felt comfortable in the surroundings, the white fluffy robes, the comfy slippers and felt completely at ease with the treatment jargon used. I may have well been a therapist I knew that much. Or so I thought.
She urged me gently over to the only small window in the room and asked me to turn my face to the light. Popping on a pair of glasses she peered, intently and very closely at my poor inflamed and now embarrassed face. 60 seconds later she looked over the top of her glasses and said. "You don't eat fruit". Huh? How did she know that?! "Well, darl, I can see it on your face. I can see everything on your face!".
And then she uttered those fateful words. "Right, so before I take you on as a client I need to know you are committed. This isn't a beauty salon, I'm not here to sell you products or make you feel good. So to start with before we go any further, you need to go home and throw all your skin products in bin. All of them."
In. To. The. Bin.
I thought she was joking. That was nearly £500 worth. Some of it was fairly recent too. And it wasn't high street junk, it was a beauty salon line, approved by doctors, and she just wanted me to bin it all?!
She wasn't joking.
As she explained, the fundamental cause of my sensitive and reactive skin resulting in terrible congestion and parched dryness at the same time was simple. I was experiencing different reactions from the synthetics in leave on products and her advice was to go back to zero and start again. I was instructed to buy a bottle of Cold Pressed Apricot Oil from any health food shop, and use a specific gel cleanser and as she said upon parting, "take a Vit C tablet darl or eat an orange every day".
Long story short, I did what she told me. Why? Because at 36 I had suffered terrible skin conditions since the age of 15 and tried almost every brand available on the market from cheap as chips drugstore lines, to department store brands to all the high priced beauty salon brands. None of them worked. I was, at this point, willing to try anything. Here are the words she said, which have resonated with me since.
Your skin is just a system on your body. If you eat fruit, vegetables, and grains to feed the cells in your body, don't you think the outside should have the same nourishment? You wouldn't eat phenoxyethanol, would you? So why put it on your skin? Skin needs oil. Not water, not synthetics. Natural oils that mimic sebum and your lipid profile and don't disturb the acid mantle too much.
And so I bravely embarked on a new journey sans products. Out with the cupboard of products and in with two bottles. Gentle Cleanser and Cold Pressed Apricot Oil. And it worked. Within weeks my skin started to clear up, became softer and less reactive. Months into my journey and eruptions became a thing of the past. I can also confirm I had a LOT more money in my bank each month.
Some time after that nerve-wracking but wonderful day, I recall wondering to myself, how is it that a small bottle of natural apricot oil can resolve two decades of skin problems in a matter of months and in stark contrast to what the world is telling us?
And so my journey towards the serum began. Lots of research and testing of different oils on my own skin, then testing with other friends and family to see if my theory was correct. Is natural really the best thing for our skin?
It turns out, that for those of us with sensitive or seriously dry skin, yes. It is. As the years passed, my pursuit of healthy clear skin turned to obsession and has now become my passion. I created a serum that I've used in place of emulsified creams and never looked back. After a while, women started asking me about my skincare routine and I told them this story, which is how I became the Serum Queen in my circle.
I'm not going to lie, I'm never going to have perfect skin. And because of the scarring & sun damage, I had from growing up in Australia, I had a bit of chemical peeling and laser work done. Ok at the time, but it doesn't last of course! However, during this decade-long journey, what I've learned is the importance of expectations and of being committed (but not obsessive) to the long game. There are no quick fixes. You will not erase decades of damage within a week. It takes commitment and an concentrated effort to relax and stick to the plan.
So, even when I am tempted by fancy bottles and glitzy marketing, I always remember the reason I keep things simple. I use a simple cleanser and tossed all the other bottles as instructed all those years ago. Now it's a quick clean followed by a couple of pumps of my Marine Extracts Daily Serum, day and night. And that's pretty much it.
I encourage you to take the plunge into my world of uber-simple skincare and hope my Serum will bring about changes for the good in your life too.
Thanks for reading lovely Glowers. x