All About My Skin

(updated May 2019)

I turned 57 in November 2018, and 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. For me, this irritation 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 as well as other 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, but I stopped using it when I was diagnosed with rosacea.

In March 2017, I slowly began incorporating tretinoin (Retin-A) into my routine. The first several months were successful, and I didn't have any irritation and only very minor flaking/peeling. By December 2017, I was using it every evening and experiencing a little more peeling near the corners of my mouth and around my nose - even though I prepped the areas with moisturizer before applying the tretinoin. Then I started having minor but frequent breakouts. At first I thought it was a new bronzer (since the breakouts were almost always in a line across the middle of my cheeks). Switching products didn't help. The breakouts continued, and they were tiny irritation-type eruptions, not hormonal or adult acne. I also noticed that I had an increasing number of broken capillaries (telangiectasia) on my face, chest, and upper arms. A trip to the dermatologist in March 2018 gave me a diagnosis of rosacea, subtype 2, and the tretinoin was put on hold for a few months. I started using it again in June 2018 and am currently keeping it at "use, skip a day, use, skip two days, repeat".

In March 2019, I had a rosacea flare that lasted for several weeks. The dermatologist prescribed metronidazole topical gel to be applied to my face every morning, and doxycycline capsules once a day. I took the doxycycline for a month, and since my skin was clear, I stopped that but continued with the metronidazole. My skin was fine for about a month, then I started to get breakouts again. I'm taking the doxycycline again, but I plan to only take it until my skin clears again. I don't want to be on antibiotics on a daily basis.

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 weren't a problem while I was able to use the 1% BHA. Presently, I'm noticing that I get a few now and then.

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 though 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. I held off a bit to see how much the tretinoin changed my skin, but I saw the most change when I started using the Nurysh LYFT (see my results here). I plan to talk to the dermatologist in June about Botox and/or fillers - or maybe even laser treatments.

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! But they aren't as deep as they were - I had what I feel were dramatic results with the Nurysh LYFT.

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. Or at least that was true until the rosacea diagnosis. I now have to use a sulfacetamide cleanser, and it can occasionally make my face a little dry.

I will update this page as my skin changes. My current skincare routines are linked below:

Anti-Aging Morning Skincare Routine (2018)
Anti-Aging Evening Skincare Routine (2018)

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


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