Monday, November 8, 2010

Teenage Skin at Thirty One.

Of all the things I thought I'd have to deal with in my thirties, I never imagined bad skin would be one of them. I blame not sleeping through the night for several years. Because, well, I like to blame that for most things. It seems like a likely culprit.

As a result of these break-outs, I've developed a habit of slathering on make-up to hide it. It's become a daily ritual - a part of my morning routine. Whether I'm going to a playdate, to drop my son at school, or go to work, I won't leave the house without it.

It was around the same time I first laid eyes on boys that my skin started to misbehave. It was as though the universe was sending me a warning sign. And of course I ignored the universe. Because... BOYS! And the universe in return punished me for not listening by awarding me with bad skin as punishment.

By the time I was nineteen it was official, I had acne. Which, when you're nineteen, you want about as much as you want a chaperone on a date. Eager to do away with it, I applied the medicated skin creams my doctor prescribed, which smelled kind of like paint stripper and truthfully did nothing for me.

So I discovered foundation and began to wear it all the time. My mother took me to Estee Lauder, where the lady at the counter took one mascara-laden look at me and smothered me in the heaviest foundation she could find. And then added about four layers of blusher and other colourful powders and I walked away looking not unlike Dolly Parton.

Nevertheless, I was in love with my new foundation.

And not just foundation, but I fell for make-up in sort of a big way. I loved the packaging. I loved the way I could smooth out the uneven patches and change the way my face looked with eye liner and shadow, and it was almost artistic, the act of applying it. I got a kick out of treating myself to a new Rubie and Millie lip gloss or a Mac eyeshadow, and that in turn became a rather expensive habit.

It was my way of covering over the pimples and the ugliness I felt. With make-up I was prettier and more confident.

After graduating and into the first few years of my career, my skin began to improve a little. I know this, because in my wedding pictures (in 2003) my skin looks decent. Then we moved to Canada. And then I was pregnant, twice, and the pregnancies seemed to agree with my skin (at least in the second and third trimesters). For a while things were looking up.

But having babies meant being up half the night. For several years. And several years of not sleeping through the night took a sledgehammer to my skin. And now? Back to square one.  

Go straight to skin prison, do not pass Go, do not collect $200 or good skin.

Yeah, thanks universe.

I never imagined that in my thirties, my skin would be as bad as when I was a teenager. I never thought I'd still be slapping on the greasepaint like my sanity depended on it. I never imagined I'd still be afraid to step out of the house bare-faced for fear of what people might think. Never thought my skin would still cause me to lack confidence in myself.

But it's okay. It won't last forever. I mean, there's NO WAY this will still be happening when I'm forty. Right? Someone?

Ever the optimist, I have faith that one day (please one day), sleep will return - good, consistent, healing sleep. And when it does, my skin will recover and be amazingly fabulous. Or something close to that.

Until then, there's make-up.

Has anyone else suffered with bad skin in their thirties? How did you deal with it?
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Sparkless said...

I hate to tell you this but when I started perimenopause it is like going through pubery backwards and well you can imagine what that is like on your skin.
I'm waiting for menopause when my skin will hopefully dry out enough for me to be able to wear moisturizer without breaking out.

Anonymous said...

Oh honey...I'm 40 and I'm STILL waiting for good skin. Forget that - I'm still waiting for halfway decent skin. My skin looked like a 13 YO boy's acne with my frist pregnancy (when I was about 4 months along, a co-worker looked at me in shock - "what is THAT on your chin?!" - to her credit, it was SO bad, it didn't look like acne). My skin was OK with my second pregnancy.

I find the key to tolerable skin is lots of water and yes, plenty of sleep. I've found a great skincare regimen (won't name it since don't wanna come across as endorsing, but it works for me). Two years into that, and approximately $75/month, and my skin is TOLERABLE. Plus, I've stayed on the pill since I was 15. It helps me.

Blondie said...

I have encountered this problem, and unfortunately the only thing I found to fix it was birth control or the Wexler line at Bath and Body Works. It is amazing! Kori xoxo

Miz Dinah said...

Other than drinking water and removing your makeup every night, I have no suggestions. I have totally noticed that my skin has been more prone to breakouts in my thirties than it ever was in my teens. I don't understand! I'm with ya, mama. I'm putting eye cream on to combat wrinkles and benzoyl-peroxide for pimples. Does not compute!

James (SeattleDad) said...

You might want to sit down...

Spoken from experience and from being over 40.

Chandra said...

I have a sister who is 43 and she STILL has bad acne. She's never had great skin but lately hers just looks awful. NOW, the good news is that she is in the Army and lack of sleep(as you mentioned) and being away from her kids (shes in Kuwait) and the stress of working 6 days a week in 120 temps doesn't help...but I think your onto something with the stress and lack of sleep. she uses Proactive and it seems to really help her when she actually uses it. Ever tried it...everyone I know uses is and swears by it.

Lady Mama said...

Chandra - I haven't tried that, but thanks for the suggestion. I'm hoping it's one of those things that'll just even out in time without having to spend tons on new skin creams.

WhisperingWriter said...

I'm 28 and get pimples now and again. I'm never amused. Like once I got one in the middle of my nose. That was embarrassing.

Anonymous said...

I echo the majority of the other commenters.

Yep, I'm 35 and in times of stress, lack of sleep or anxiety, my skin is like I'm 15 all over again.
Shame my energy levels aren't that of a 15 yr old too


I hope you find a solution.

From the also sleep deprived mother who is currently nursing 3 blind pimples.....

laura @ ten minutes to myself said...

Oh yes, I'm here, too. I am hoping that that unsuitable-for-drinking water that I use for washing my face and showering is partially to blame. That gives me hope that when we move back to Canada, my face will clear up.

naomi said...

Lady Mama, I have bad skin ocassionally. I drink loads of water, try and eat healthily and get early night. I also try not to wear foundation so my skin can breathe. I also would suggest a fcial or suchlike as these can clear it up temporarily.

Lady Mama said...

Thanks you guys for all the suggestions (and commiserations).

Lisa said...

*waving my hand in the air over here*. I had "ok" skin as a teen but started getting pimples in my mid-thirties. Now that I'm 40, it's the worst it's ever been. wtf? Been to dermatologists. Nothing seems to help. Sleep, lots of water (neither or which I get enough of) seem to help. My friend claims cucumbers and tomatoes cause her to break out, while avocados alleviate symptoms. So, more water for me, sensible bed time (ya, right, we'll see if that happens) and NO greek salads for me. PS LOVE my Mac foundation. ;)

Mwa said...

I get it in phases - pregnancy, PMS, that kind of thing. I've never worn make-up, though, so I kind of ignore it. And pick at my face. NOT a good habit.

Kate Coveny Hood said...

I actually did acutane when I was in my mid-twenties. I was tired of breakouts and more importantly, I had them in really unfortunate places (ever hear of backne?) That's a more serious route you can take. I'd see a dermotologist and talk about options. I won't say that I *never* break out anymore - but it's so much better now. There are risks of course (that I paid zero attention to at age 26) but it doesn't hurt to hear more about it.

I don't think acne really goes away until, um, homones change (as in "the change"). And even after that, people still have breakouts - it depends on your skin type. My mother always called it pimples on top of wrinkles. Funny but horrifyingly true.

Talk to your dermotologist about what make up you can use. What you should look for on the labels that are known pore cloggers. I'm sure there are more skin friendly brands out there. And maybe you're alerady using them... But if not - that's another suggestion.

I feel for you. But at least you're NOT 19 anymore. Everything was so much harder then. I feel like I now have too much going on to obsess over flaws. And I have made a habit of thinking about how things could be worse. One day I heard about a terrible accident in which a woman whose blog I read was burned over 80% of her body, including her face. One of the first things I thought was, "well it certainly puts that pimple into perspective doesn't it? Time for a quick thank you to the universe for making that my worst worry today..." Hey - it works for me.