Becoming a conscious natural skincare knower is an identity that I've recently adopted. If you scroll back to the very beginnings of FloreaShelby, when it was Radiant Collective, I was more focused on fashion and personal posts. Then, out of nowhere, it seems like I had all these ideas for DIYs and opinions about the skincare industry. I promise you, none of this just *happened.*
Much of my transition into the skincare world was done quietly. I wanted to learn more about what kinds of natural ingredients I could use and how I could empower myself. I'm realizing now that I haven't exactly established my credibility.
Many of my friends, blog readers, and social media followers will ask me about skincare. "How do I get rid of ___?" "I have dry skin, what should I use?" "I haven't had much luck with ___, do you have suggestions for what natural products I should try?" My answers are always based off personal experience and the knowledge that I've acquired (online) about the relationships between natural ingredients and skin.
I don't have a degree in wholistic health or nutrition. I've never gone to beauty school or even taken a cosmetology course. Everything I've learned has been through trial and error. So I want to take this time to share my story with you all.
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How It Started
I don’t remember when brushing my teeth became something that I knew, automatically, to do every morning. I don’t remember my parents teaching it to me, but I know that it happened. I guess it’s just one of those things that became so normalized in my daily routine. Going the extra mile when it came to skincare, however, is something I remember. I was probably about twelve when I realized that just splashing some water on my face wasn’t cutting it anymore. I didn’t notice my skin until it became a “problem” seven years ago.
When you’re a pre-teen girl, you’ll pretty much believe anything. That’s why makeup, clothing, weight-loss, and hair companies make them their target audience. I was twelve when I started to think of my skin as a part of my body that I was supposed to have a bad relationship with.
The Tough Years
I remember furiously picking at pimples and begging my mom to buy me products that would make them go away. One day when I came home from school, I applied probably six layers of Clinique’s Toning Lotion in hopes that if I dried my skin out enough the acne would just go away. We invested in Clerasil, Neutrogena, ProActiv, Burt’s Bee’s, The Body Shop’s Tea Tree Oil line, and pretty much anything that guaranteed clear skin instantly. It wasn’t until I’d exhausted my skin in my senior year of high school that I finally began to realize that these promises were unrealistic, not to mention taking a huge toll on my skin.
In my senior year, my mom and I decided to visit a dermatologist. I took pills for most of the year and applied topical EpiDuo. I think that the treatment helped to ease my hormones. But I was still breaking out and making the same mistake of popping or picking at my break outs. Once I moved away to college, something clicked and I started transitioning to natural products for skincare purposes.
I was familiar with essential oils and I had started using coconut oil for body moisturizer, but I was sort of new to how to treat my skin with these things. One of the first changes I made to my skincare routine was ditching my Body Shop Tea Tree Oil (which only contained 15% of real tea tree oil) for 100% Tea Tree Oil. I slowly started sifting through my skincare products, trading drying lotions for natural toners and swapping chemical cleansers for liquid coconut oil.
People will often ask me how I “got into” natural skincare. It was just a lot of self-education motivated by a deep desire to make some serious changes in my life. In senior year, my health teacher told us about websites that measured the toxic chemicals in our every day products. From mainstream toothpaste to deodorant, the companies that produce these products aren't on the side of the consumer. If they were, they wouldn't include dangerous toxins that have been linked to cancer and organ failure. I say this not to freak anybody out (hey, I still use Colgate toothpaste), but to really show you how I became motivated to transition to natural products.
I always liked making things myself, so I started experimenting with skincare DIYs. I think the first thing I made was a quick salt scrub for exfoliating, because I learned that the brand I was using, St. Ive's, can lead to premature aging. I also recently started using natural deodorant. I tried my best to empower myself. I know that it is very difficult to be 100% natural, not just because it gets expensive but because very few things are actually purely natural. (EDIT, May 23rd) It helped that I had roommates who introduced me to matcha and bentonite, but their encouragement only further ignited what had been sparked in me years before. I now knew that skincare was something I needed to make a conscious effort to incorporate into my life.
I couldn't have made all these changes without self-education. Anytime I had a question about household items, I googled it. I would refer back to multiple sources to make sure I was receiving accurate information. One of my favorite blogs to this day is helloglow.co because it presents hassle-free DIYs that actually work.
Today, I am recognizing that the food that I eat has just as much of an impact on my skin as the products I put on my face. Skincare is both an external and internal struggle, but it is one that I believe is worth fighting. After all, skincare is body care. And body care is a form of self care.
No Skin Shaming
I understand how hard it is to live in skin that you want to hate. Earlier in this post, I used quotations around the word “problem” when describing how I viewed my skin. I don’t believe that anyone’s skin condition, whether you have cystic acne or dry/ flaky skin, is a problem. I’ll clarify: while it may be a nuisance, nobody’s skin condition is entirely their fault and they should not be treated any differently.
Skin shaming is absolutely unacceptable. We live in a world where the clarity of your skin or the quality of your suit can determine whether or not you get the job. It is ridiculous that we judge people whose skin isn’t crystal clear.
No skin shaming, here. But shame on the skincare companies who claim to care about their customers, when in reality they inject their products with toxic, untested chemicals. You can view your products' toxicity on websites like GoodGuide.com and decide whether or not you want to ditch the product or take the risk and continue using it.
When I started blogging about skincare, one of my biggest concerns was talking about skin maintenance in a way that would shame people with severe acne or exclude people who do not have the funds for expensive products. The natural world is an expensive one, I do recognize that. I hope to make the skincare world more accessible for the general public. I do this by using many of the same, drugstore and grocery store ingredients for multiple DIYs. You can view my top 5 essentials here.
Your Skincare Story
No matter what stage you’re in of your skincare story, may FloreaShelby be a safe and inspirational space for you to reflect on your skincare choices. I wanted to share my story with you to show that navigating the skincare market has not been a painless journey. There is a very dark side to dealing with acne, but by opening up the conversation, I hope to help de-stigmatize acne. When we identify our skin as the “problem,” it’s really just a reflection on our relationship with ourselves. We must learn to embrace our skin even on the worst days.
Thanks for sticking with me through this long post, everyone. As usual feel free to leave a comment below or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. May your skincare journey be an educational one. Peace and love to you!