All About My Skin

I turned 55 in November 2016, and I have been actively interested in skincare and beauty for about 30 years. What I mean by "actively interested" is that for at least 30 years, I have been using some type of  "extra" skin care product beyond cleanser and moisturizer. That would include anti-acne, anti-aging, peels, masks, and always, always, always sunscreen.

My skin is naturally very, very pale - as in translucent pale, not peaches and cream pale. I have frequently been asked if I am feeling well, and doctors have actually done labwork because of my paleness (despite my claims of feeling fine). I am of Scottish, Irish, and German descent, so that pretty much explains the paleness. I have been strictly sunless tanning for 20+ years (as if I could be any other kind anyway), and I adhere to the rules of sun safety not only because I don't like sunburns and wrinkles, but because I have a family history of every type of skin cancer, including melanoma.

In addition to being related to Casper, my skin is also very sensitive. It bruises easily, and fragrance in a product can be irritating, especially to my face and neck. (When I say "irritating", it can range from a slight burning or itching sensation to hives to eczema.) Sometimes, I can get away with a small amount of fragrance in a product, especially if it's something like a foundation where I would be wearing a  primer underneath and it wouldn't be touching my skin directly. My undereye area is tremendously sensitive, and I have found very few products to use there.

The sensitivity extends to alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta hydroxy acid (BHA). I used to be able to use 5% salicylic and 10% lactic acid daily on my face without any problems. I also did at-home TCA peels and other types of peels. But I think when I started going through peri-menopause, things changed, and I could no longer use any of those things. In 2015, I was finally able to use a 1% BHA product daily without any problems. In March 2017, I slowly began incorporating tretinoin (Retin-A) into my routine. So far, I've been successful, and haven't had any irritation and very minor flaking/peeling. As of August 2017, I'm using it four times/week and experiencing a little more peeling near the corners of my mouth even though I prep it with moisturizer before applying the tretinoin. A gentle scrub every couple of days takes care of that. I hope to eventually work up to using the tretinoin daily.

I mentioned bruising - but hyperpigmentation is also an issue. If I do have a breakout or clogged pore (which isn't much of an issue now, but it used to be), it will leave a red mark that will be there for 6-12 months. And since I can't use AHAs to speed up the skin turnover rate, I really don't have anything to use against it. Self-tanner can make the hyperpigmentation less or more obvious, so it's kind of a crap shoot.

Pores aren't too much of an issue. They're only noticeable in a couple of areas and I'm able to camouflage them pretty well. Blackheads aren't a problem.

Now we can move on to the issues that come with aging. I really started to notice the loss of firmness in my face about 6 years ago, after my last back surgery. It was a rough surgery anyway, and there were unexpected complications. The neurosurgeon nicked my aorta, and they had to call in a thoracic surgeon and give me several units of blood. Instead of going home the next day as planned, I ended up on a ventilator, had two angiograms, and was in neuro ICU for 3 days. I came home after 5 days, but it was a difficult recovery. I lost 10 pounds in one week. My face looked old. And even once I recovered, my face never looked the same. I've also had two neck surgeries (back surgeries where they went in through the front of my neck), and even those scars are in the natural creases on the front of my neck, the skin in that area is just a bit looser. I believe it's from where they stretched it during surgery because it's not that way anywhere else on my neck.

Anyway, I do have loss of firmness. I notice it most under my eyes, just above my cheekbones, and along my jawline (good grief, I'm getting jowls!!). And, of course, as I mentioned, on the right front of my neck, along the scar lines. I did get Botox in my forehead once, several years ago, but honestly, I wasn't that impressed with the results. Maybe I needed to get it more than once. I've given some thought to fillers in the lines by my mouth/chin. But I'm holding off a bit to see how much the tretinoin changes my skin, so I may give it a year before I consider fillers.

Which brings me to the fine lines and wrinkles. And I have both. I have fine lines on my forehead, which aren't noticeable because I wear bangs, so I don't worry about those. I have a line between my eyes for which I do facial exercises - and that has actually helped reduce the depth. I have very, very faint crow's feet. Those are probably my faintest lines. My deepest lines are the nasolabial folds - not surprising because I'm a smiley person. Ha!

I also have some sun damage in the form of actinic keratosis. They are scattered mostly around the perimeter of my face - probably from when I was a kid and wore my hair pulled back without any sunscreen. I regularly have them frozen at the dermatologist, but lately it seems like for every one I have frozen, 3 new ones appear!

Oily or dry? My skin used to be an oil slick. I couldn't keep it blotted enough. However, for the past several years, that hasn't been the case. It's normalized now, and I really only get oily if it's very hot or humid, and then it's pretty much just in the T-zone. As I've aged, my skin went through a period where I had some dry patches, but once I switched to washing it with a konjac sponge, that hasn't been an issue at all. Other than the minimal peeling I've experienced with the tretinoin, I have no dryness.

Another thing I've noticed over the past few years is more tiny capillaries (spider veins) appearing close to the surface of the skin on my face. As I mentioned, I see the dermatologist regularly for skin checks, and it's not rosacea.

And that's all I can think of right now. If I think of more, or if anything changes, I will post an update to this page. I also plan to do pages for my current skincare routines, and I will add links to those here once they are finished.

Be sure to connect with me on Snapchat (enjoythevue) and Instagram - that's where I'm the most active!

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