And they’re amazing! Before and after pics of people who used to have severe acne now with gorgeously clear skin; or lots of redness and now an even skin-colored skintone; or rosacea, or extremely dry skin, or lots of little breakouts, or an oil slick for a face — who now have even, bright, glowing, clear skin. The people in these pictures usually beam with happiness … and it’s well-deserved!
Sometimes these before and afters are the result of heavy prescription treatments such as Accutane. But sometimes a person plucks the products from one of our beginner routines and seemingly overnight now has magically perfect skin.
And you know, I don’t begrudge them for it. They’ve found something that works for them, and that’s what we’re all about.
Except … I do. Just a little bit.
Hear me out. I am thrilled when someone finds the products and the routine that is right for them. Everyone deserves to look and feel their best, and I certainly don’t begrudge them that. But it’s just an eensy, weensy, teensy bit frustating to have spent over a year trying to figure out my own skin situation and be inundated with gleeful success posts and enviable before and after pictures.
Now, obviously this is a personal problem. But it’s a personal problem that you might have too. It’s all well and good to say to ourselves that it’s not fair to judge our own skin by someone else’s results when they have completely different skin with completely different issues, but that doesn’t mean that we won’t have an emotional response when we see that someone has unlocked the key to their own perfect skin.
Before SkincareAddiction, I spent a lot of time trying out all of the “miracle cures” that float around Pinterest, Facebook, and the like. There is a popular blackhead “cure” that involves a scrub of baking soda and lemon juice applied with a toothbrush. Yikes. And the problem probably isn’t even blackheads! The most well-known form of OCM outside of SkincareAddiction involves a blend of olive and castor oils, wiped off with a steaming hot washcloth, which just made me feel greasy. But it seemed like the entire internet had success with this method for completely curing their acne. Why didn’t it cure mine?
The answer, lovelies, is that I’m a special snowflake, and you are too. And sometimes that just sucks. It is frustrating when a well-known and beloved product doesn’t seem to do diddly squat for your face. So you try the next great product, and that doesn’t work either. And then your quest starts to get really involved and suddenly you find yourself with a bathroom counter full of products that you’ll never be able to use up in a lifetime, all of which have given you either a “meh” result or a terrifying breakout of doom, and you wonder where your life has gone and if your loved ones are going to stage an intervention or, or, or … or maybe that’s just me.
What’s to be done when your skin is a special pretty princess snowflake that seems to respond to nothing? Well, you forge ahead. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, people.
The thing is, you can’t judge your skin by anyone else’s. You can only judge it by itself, and here is what I’ve learned about my own skin: it’s oily and tends toward dehydration, but once I started moisturizing regularly the oiliness abated (just a little bit!) and it felt way softer and smoother to the touch. BHAs don’t work any miracles for my active acne, but they help keep my clogged pores in check. Moisturizers with a gel or gel cream consistency feel the best and work the best during the daytime for my skin. BB cream covers a world of sins. If I don’t pick at those ginormous nodular hell zits on my chin then my life is a lot easier.
So if you’re sitting there thinking: I’m doing everything right. I change my pillowcases, I wear sunscreen, I don’t pick at my skin, I moisturize, I use chemical exfoliants and NOTHING SEEMS TO BE WORKING, take a step back. Take a literal step back from the mirror, in fact. Have a look from afar. Touch your skin. There are probably subtle changes happening, like me and moisturizing making my skin feel softer. You are actively trying to improve the health of your skin, and those results aren’t always visible on the outside. Remember, keeping your moisture barrier nice and hydrated improves the overall health of your skin, which can lead to fewer breakouts.
Let’s say you decide that you want to get healthier: lose some weight, build some muscle, start eating better. So you make yourself a big healthy meal, you hit the gym, you jog a mile or so on the treadmill. The next morning, you step on the scale and you see the same number as before. Does this mean that nothing is working and you give up? No! You’ve barely even started that journey. You can’t expect to see results immediately.
The same thing goes for skincare. You likely won’t see results overnight, but that doesn’t mean that it’s time to throw in the towel. There’s no telling how many of those success stories have had what feels like eons of trying everything behind them.
So don’t give up, and don’t let the good results of others discourage you. In fact, those before and afters should be encouraging! They did it, and so can you.
If you’re a special snowflake, hang in there. We’ll find our magic.