I’ve discovered that the older you get, the list of body and beauty complaints get more interesting, sometimes a little gross even.
As such my insecurities are now rife – I find myself not wanting to sit too close to my friends in case they see my dodgy complexion and I’ve stopped getting facials done, having grown tired of the beautician telling me I have blocked pores in a tone that suggests I’ve never bloody tried clearing them.
Why did no one tell me this list gets bigger as you get older?
Growing up the fat kid was hard enough – years later you’d think losing 25 kilos would make life a little easier – but apparently there is more to the making of a (socially measured) beautiful swan and I feel like I’m regularly committing beauty faux pas, be it my glaring alabaster skin or my mutinous hair follicles.
You might be thinking that pale skin isn’t so bad, but let me tell you, every ingrown hair, spidery thread vein and bump or bruise is completely visible, especially on the stretch of skin connecting my cankles to my knees – it’s so bloody white it glows. Amazingly I do get my legs out in summer and as I walk down the road I become genuinely concerned that my legs are reflecting the Sun’s rays and blinding oncoming traffic!
You must be thinking I sound vain. But when makeup becomes a chore and doesn’t look as nice because of bad skin and random hairs, when your personality or intelligence is judged on your weathered features and when you’re relying on your brave face to get you through the week, is it so wrong to want it to be a youthful and bright face?
I pondered the fine line of vanity and preservation and so the research began – I wanted to focus on the more awkward beauty issues or certainly the ones that bothered me the most, but I really struggled to find anything of substance to which I could relate.
Where can I find Kim Kardashian talking about her ingrown hairs, smelly feet and sagging boobs? If I missed that episode please point me in the right direction! If we can talk openly about boob jobs and lip fillers, which are now widely more accepted, why do I have to dig for information on how to get rid of random hairs or chicken skin? I mean real, honest information and experiences from like-minded women at the same stage of life as me, not the spammy crap on the Google results page or regurgitated how-to-guides in girls magazines?
Embarrassing Beauty Dilemmas of a Lifestyle Blogger
Here are some problems, solutions and tips from a real life person (me) with some seriously annoying and somewhat cringey beauty issues!
Falling Freckles & Sun Damage
Problem: Rather bizarrely many of my freckles suddenly emancipated themselves from my skin by drying out and falling off, leaving red-raw marks – delightful, I know. I also have had a rapid increase in the number of freckles with lots of different shapes, sizes and colour variations, some which look like skin damage.
Solution: I had my first ever skin check and, fortunately, the freckles falling is caused by a temporary skin condition, likely due to a change in weather. No treatment required, just SPF on the raw skin during the day and moisturiser at night. I do have some sun damage, which is from years of careless or non-existent sun protection and removal would require cosmetic treatment such as laser pigmentation. Not really necessary for me as mine is minimal.
Lesson Learned: Get your skin checked for sun damage regularly. Keep an eye on your freckles and moles – take photos of them if its easier than remembering what they look like – if there are any changes in shape, size, or if they hurt or bleed, see your doctor immediately. ALWAYS wear sunscreen – I live on the Neutrogena range which I find are not sticky or thick and smell quite nice. I use their SPF 50 body spray and their special matte SPF 30 face sunscreen, that goes on perfectly under makeup. In winter, I use Garnier BB cream as my foundation as it already contains SPF 20.
Problem: As the doctor checked my freckles, he soon found amusement in checking out all of my spots and pimples – so much so I was half expecting him to get out a pen and join the dots to make a picture on my face. It seems my teenage mild acne has long overstayed it’s welcome and any whimsical notion that I would reach my late twenties and wake up with a clear complexion has been totally shattered.
Solution: I have been prescribed Duac cream which I have to put on every night for the next 12 weeks. It acts like a peel removing the dead skin and helping to unblock pores and reduce redness.
Lesson Learned: Don’t suffer in silence! You don’t have to accept every flaw as a part of life, if it is making you unhappy or if you think you need treatment, go to your doctor and tell them how you feel.
Problem: Lots of rough, bumps and dry skin on the backs of my arms and legs.
Solution: The medical term is Keratosis Pilaris which can’t be cured as such, but can be improved with a dedicated beauty regime including gentle exfoliation and moisturising. Extreme cases may require a topical treatment from your doctor. My chicken skin is relatively mild and in the past I’ve tried exfoliation but have given up, finding that body scrubs are either too rough for me or the chemicals are too strong. I’ve now switched to dry brushing once a week, before showering, to see if this works and I always use Nivea in-shower moisturiser but will now incorporate a normal moisturiser to help combat the dry skin. Will keep you posted!
Lesson Learned: There are many ways to exfoliate, from body scrubs, to sea sponges – if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again! It might take some time to find the method that works best for you, so be patient and persevere. Try sticking to a cleansing, exfoliating and moisturising routine for at least a month to see if there is any improvement – consider it your pamper time! Be careful not to over-exfoliate mind you, aim to do it once a week to start with.
Problem: Little spots and bumps caused by ingrown hairs after hair removal.
Solution: I am a baby that can’t take the pain of waxing and neither hair removal cream nor laser work on me. So I’m kinda stuck with shaving and as a result, get ingrown hairs on my legs and bikini line. At the moment, I’m focusing on exfoliation to help free the hairs and stop the bottom half of my body looking like it has been ravaged by an outbreak of herpes!
Lesson Learned: This is a game of two halves: prepping/maintaining your skin correctly and also getting hair removal right for your body. Paying attention to both can lead to eradicating ingrown hairs. Experiment with different types of hair removal until you find the most suitable method for your body. Exfoliate once a week or as needed, moisturise and don’t pick the hairs out! As tempting as that may be.
Excess Hair Growth
Problem: Excess hair growth in unwanted places, namely myÂ top lip and chin.
Solution: I’m fortunate that my hair is very fair but I have seen a slight increase in hair on my top lip and under my chin, with a few of these being dark hairs. I have tried laser which works well for the dark hairs but not on the fair ones, meaning the whole area is shaved unnecessarily. It is expensive to keep up for the sake of a few hairs too. So now I’m enjoying Friday nights with a glass of wine and tweezers in hand, watching tv whilst I pluck my beard. Kidding! Kind of. I have resorted to plucking the dark ones on my chin but I have decided to leave my lip until I think it is more noticeable – my husband will be the first to crack a moustache joke when that happens!
Lesson Learned: Laser is very effective for dark hairs on light skin but it is expensive and if it doesn’t work 100% you may never reach a stage where you are only topping up treatment (i.e. you’ll need it continuously every month). Find the removal or treatment that works best: waxing, threading or even bleaching them so that they are less noticeable. Do not keep touching the area as you will get spots. If the hair growth is sudden and/or excessive there might be an underlying medical condition, such as Polycystic Ovaries, so seek advice from a doctor. If there is a medical condition this may also affect how you respond to treatments such as laser so it is important to get checked.
You Look Disgusting – Putting it into Context
Whilst the aim of this post is to show what changes I’m making, in an attempt to normalise the weird things and help others, I also want to point out that society paints a muddled picture of expectation. Let me explain:
Whilst searching for beauty fixes, I came across a video called ‘You Look Disgusting’. It appeared at the time I had just written half of this very honest post and was doubting myself, and I haven’t been able to get it out of my head since. In short, a girl posted photos of herself on her social media pages – in one photo she wears no makeup and her acne is showing, in the other photo she has a full face of makeup that conceals her bad skin – the responses she received to her photos prompted her to make this video. As the camera rolls she transitions from bare-faced, with raw skin, to flawless makeup that you watch her apply, all the while real comments about her appearance (taken from the photos on her social media) are flashed across the screen.
On the bare faced image, people cruelly called her disgusting and ugly, all because of her acne; once her makeup was on the compliments flooded in, with people telling her she is beautiful – but so too came more criticism. Soon people commented that she had too much makeup on and that her ability to cover the flaws in her skin gave them ‘trust issues’. As the girl in the video cried my heart broke for her.
I realised that for us women, we are damned if we do and damned if we don’t. The video was created to share this girl’s message, that you are beautiful no matter what and you should never let anyone tell you different, including yourself.
Watching that video made me realise how fickle people are, I couldn’t help but wonder: what is the point in making changes to try and please them?
It was then I decided to address what I don’t like about myself, with a level head and without comparing myself to others. I want to figure out what I can do to make myself feel better, rather than measuring against someone else’s standards or societal expectation. I want to make positive changes without getting too obsessed.
I often stand in front of the mirror and think to myself ‘god what if so and so can see the hair on my top lip’ or ‘is the dry skin on the backs of my arms really obvious?’. This always prompted action, usually drastic. But now I ask myself ‘how much does it upset you on a scale of 1 to 10?’ I am lucky to have a brutally honest sister and husband and so for questions on how obvious something is, I ask them. Now I’ve rationalised, the action I am taking is more reasonable and easily achievable.
So don’t be too hard on yourself.
If this post can make just one person feel normal, if it can inspire you to make changes for the right reasons, then we are all winning. Please be kind to others but also be kind to yourself.
I will keep you updated on my progress with products etc. let me know how you are getting on too!
PS. You can read more on Comparing Yourself to Others.