My Skincare Story | From the Beginning
Hey everyone, I’m conflicted about this post. I feel as though I should have done this quite a long time ago, after all skincare is one of our main conversation topic. But part of me feels like this post doesn’t have a purpose. I see it a bit like diet posts; I get the impression that people only engage with those if someone is doing something drastic or has lost a lot of weight. In the skin sense, mine has never been bad in the usual manner. I don’t have photos of horrific teenage acne or any major transformation to show you. But my history with my skin is one of the main reasons I started my blog in the first place, so I figured it was worth talking about.
The Very Beginning (13)
I think my skincare story might start a little earlier than most. The memory of my first skincare set is still incredibly vivid. I was 13, it was my 13th birthday in fact, and one of my mother’s best friends got me a mini Liz Earle set. Yes, I, along with almost every woman in the UK, started my skincare journey with Liz Earle. It was the basic cleanse, tone and moisturise set. She said something along the lines of, “if you’re going to wear makeup now, you have to start looking after your skin now.”
I guess that message stuck with me, otherwise I wouldn’t be here typing this post for you today.
I no longer use Liz Earle, their products are far too heavily fragranced and loaded with irritants and my skin can’t handle it these days, but it was far less sensitive in my early teens.
The Lazy Years (14-15)
I used my Liz Earle routine for about 18 months to two years then I discovered the face wipe. This is not a time in my life that I’m proud of. But 14-15-year-old Sophie thought wipes were fine and frequently used them rather than a proper cleanser. I’m not quite sure what happened to end this phase, but it lasted a year or so then I decided to start using proper skincare again.
I was around the age of 15/16 when I first started to feel major irritation from products. I skipped teenage acne and oiliness; my skin was bone dry. Instead I was wearing foundation for anti-fatigue and healthy glow while all my friends were caked in Dream Matte Mousse because my skin couldn’t handle anything remotely matte. This was the beginning of a very difficult few years trying lots of product, having many reactions and spending more time with my face red and peeling than ‘normal’.
The REALLY Sensitive Years (16-18)
16-18 was an interesting time. This is when I was first into beauty but didn’t have 65,000,000 products yet. I pretty much had one or two of everything at this point, but I chose my products really carefully. When I was 16 I wore a Chanel foundation, this foundation was very shortly discontinued after I started using it (my skin was also darker then because the lightest shade of Chanel now makes me look like I’ve slathered fake tan all over my face). I decided to try one from Dior, I got colour matched in store and within an hour my face was burning, Ruby Woo red and peeling. I was now in a public bathroom attempting to wash my face.
This was the day I realised I how sensitive my skin was, the same day I realised I’m actually allergic to all Dior foundations. Not so coincidentally, this was also the last time I ever allowed anyone who works on a makeup counter to put anything on my face. No surprises, this is also when I realised I needed to start learning about ingredients.
The Research Years (18-20)
Completely and utterly disappointed by the fact I’d spent years dealing with sensitivity rashes, I was now at uni and had a little bit of time on my hands to start doing some proper research. By now I had pretty much developed a phobia of trying anything new; not the ideal situation for someone who likes to try everything.
I started to Google the entire ingredient list of every product I owned or wanted to try, found databases that listed every potential irritant or issue with a product. If I ever stumbled across an ingredient I hadn’t heard of, I would Google it even if I had no interest in the product. Actually, I still do this now. Although it’s rare for me to find ingredients I don’t recognise now, I must know absolutely everything there is to know about every ingredient I encounter. I even subscribed to online dermatology journals, so I could learn more about ingredient research.
During this time, I developed a love for basic French Pharmacy brands. Companies like Bioderma and La Roche Posay were ideal. Their products aren’t potent and don’t perform miracles, but the simplicity of the formulas made them very easy to use while I was doing my research. I still use a fair few of these products now.
I discovered at this point that every foundation or moisturiser containing SPF will give me a rash, I’m allergic to more foundations than I care to imagine and no one ever quite believes you when you tell them you have really sensitive skin.
New Skin Issues (19-20)
You’ll notice that this overlaps timewise with the previous section. During my crazy research years, I found myself in a good rhythm with my products. My skincare collection was ever growing, my beauty stash overall was huge. I had mental lists of ‘safe’ ingredients and ‘bad’ ingredients and drawers full of products which, other than a strong exfoliator or two, did not damage my face.
I used to keep a skin journal. When I would have issues I always wanted to know the cause, so I would keep a mini food diary (nothing too specific just whether I’d been healthy/ eaten a lot of fat or sugar that day) and a full list of the products I’d used morning and night, including the order I’d used them in.
Half way through my second year of university, aged 19, I started to develop skin rashes on my cheeks. They weren’t reactions to anything, they didn’t burn, and I’d never experienced anything quite like it. As this is during the research years, although my skincare collection was growing, my ingredient knowledge still wasn’t where I wanted it to be.
Having Googled skin rashes and causes, like every other millennial would before they even contemplate going to a doctor, I realised it might not have been a reaction to something I was putting on my skin at all.
I don’t have any pictures of what they looked like, I became quite skilled at hiding the very edges of my face between a slightly thicker layer of foundation and my hair. But, looking back it resembled rosacea. It might not have been rosacea, but that’s the closest thing I’ve ever seen due to the lack of irritation it caused.
As I mentioned, I kept a skin journal. I realised at this point my rash situation had nothing to do with products. There was zero correlation between active ingredients, potential irritants and the state of my cheeks. Something did stick out though, it was always worse when I’d eaten a lot of dairy. Which brings me on to my final chapter.
I’m in my third year of uni, I’m living alone in a studio flat and I’m still keeping my skin journal. My years of meticulous skincare research have made me decide to do my dissertation on it, so the research continues. Oh, and I still have that rash.
It was round the Christmas time of third year that I realised the correlation between dairy consumption and my cheeks flaring up. I didn’t have any restriction in my diet at this point, I wasn’t eating much meat simply because I hated the texture. But, I was eating copious amounts of yogurt and halloumi.
Around this time, I decided to cut back on my dairy and see if it made a difference. I wasn’t ready to cut it out completely largely due to a lack of alternatives available. My uni was in an awful, tiny town and I had to do all my food shopping in a Tesco Express. There wasn’t a supermarket for miles, no public transport to get to it and online orders wouldn’t deliver to my building because they didn’t recognise the address as it was a newer development. I literally had to do all my shopping in a Tesco Express.
Upon cutting back, my skin instantly improved. It was at this point, very much for the sake of my own vanity, I started to think about a vegan diet. I didn’t like eggs anyway, didn’t eat much meat and I knew that if I stuck a label on it, I’d be way more likely to stick to it.
I moved home at the end of uni, aged 20 (my birthday is in July), and decided to try a vegan diet for a week.
2 years and 8 months later I can confirm this has by far been the longest week of my life. I can also say I haven’t seen that rash once since the day I stopped eating dairy.
This brings me to present day, aged 23, rash free. Skin type: dry and sensitive. Diet: plant based only.
I talk about my skin and diet here because my diet was quite literally the biggest factor ever in changing my skin. The fact they depend so heavily on each other is why I started developing recipes. Which is why my blog is here today. So, my skincare story is also my blogging story.
And it took us a very long time to get here. Congratulations and thank you if you’ve managed to read this far.