Merry Christmas from China!
This post is going to be my gift to you. I’m sitting here in my classroom on December 23, 2017 and have been thinking all day of various things to write for this Christmas post.
There were many things I really wanted to post for the Christmas post of ScrubMeDown- Happy Skin. But at the end of the day, I thought that the present present I’d be able to give, is a wee story*.
Many years ago, I went to the only department store in the city I was living in, searching for some body wash that didn’t have any whitening products in it. In fact, my very first Chinese characters I learnt to recognize was “white” on packages. This was actually how I got into reading labels! So went searching for a face and body wash that wouldn’t cause me to disappear into paper.
After a time, and a mini-fortune later of trying out products and having issues from said various products, I decided it had to be easier and cheaper to make my own things as after all, hundreds of years ago they had all these wonderful things and they didn’t even have electricity. So it really couldn’t be all that hard!
So that is what had me on the path of making my own things. I began like everyone did, making lotion bars, lip stuff, basic soaps (yeah, those first soaps were better than commercial grade beauty bars/soaps), and eventually I began playing with essential oils in my soaps and essential oils and exotic oils in various serums. It was all amazing! All that creativity was awesome!
But for me, pure oil serums and lotion bars just didn’t work for my skin. They just didn’t provide enough hydration and moisture for me. I was living in the desert, and my skin was wicked oily, but VERY dehydrated. When I realized this fact, and found I was constantly getting acne not just because I have acne prone skin, but because my skin was dehydrated (too bad it took me years to learn this lesson! Hind sight and all that….).
But according to every single DIY site out there that I could get my hands on, all the “crunchy”, “green beauty”, “organic” and all that fun stuff, they all guaranteed it would work to heal and fix my acne. They promised.
And…… they lied.
Maybe lied is too strong a term. It just didn’t work for me.
I was so angry! I had spent a small fortune buying various ingredients for those Babe’s and Mama’s and Doctor Quack’s promised they would work. It wasn’t till I had enough that I realized that baking soda on the skin just wasn’t a good idea. That olive oil was not all it was cracked up to be. Coconut oil wasn’t a miracle. That vinegar can burn the skin! I had boxes of oils that I just couldn’t use because they were the ones causing my skin issues. And because of being isolated in China, no one to pass them off on.
I can’t remember where I got the idea around this time of making emulsified products so I can’t link you to the original recipe I used. It might have been some blog? Website? All I know is this person also said applying a crushed tablet of Vitamin C dissolved in water and painted on the face was a good idea. So you can kind of get an idea of where I was getting my information from.
What can I say? I thought I was smart.
But… I would no longer be natural making an emulsified product or crushing a Vitamin C tablet on my face (because it was processed! ack!). I could no longer be natural. I’d be needing an emulsification system! And ewaxes… there is really nothing natural about them. They were chemicals! Ewwwwwww!!!!
I had spent years no longer buying things that came in packages, I stopped buying things that couldn’t go bad, I was at the point truly of the belief that if I couldn’t eat it, it would not go on my skin. For I believed that my skin absorbed anything I put on it for I had read so many blogs and these people I had come to trust. My skin was like a second stomach, so all those gross and horrible chemicals I was going to have to put on my skin, would end up in my livers.
I was using CP soap and an avc rinse in my hair and my hair looked gross. It looked like wet straw. My hair was oily, greasy, a mess. My face- remember this is how I saw myself- looked like a giant pustule of red inflamed gross stuff. I was a mess.
But natural was best. It was the only way. Somehow even living in China it seemed as if I was on the nose end of the rocket of societies extreme “green” idea.
And I had fallen, hook line and sinker. And I looked disgusting for it. While all the natural bloggers I was following looked great! I had given the natural, process free, all hand made, chemical free, green, natural beauty at this point maybe four years of my life?
I couldn’t take it. I had to do something about it. I had to stop that itch. I had to stop all the scabs and acne flare ups I was getting. I had to get my nice soft and shiny hair back! I needed to look and feel good again. So I reintroduced commercial grade shampoo and conditioner.
I had to bend my rules a little. But goodness gracious! I looked a million times better! My hair was so shiny again after one try! And soft!!! And it stopped falling out and breaking so much! So… if commercial grade shampoo and conditioner made my hair feel so wonderful, how could it really be so bad? So I bought some ewax.
And began experimenting.
I gave in and made a face lotion. But I refused to use a preservative. Because preservatives were still the devil. They were evil. They killed…. snowmen and sugar plum fairies. And I love snowmen, sugar plum fairies not so much! But still! They killed snowmen! So I went for months making face and body lotions every month, and keeping it in my fridge between uses and trying my best to only use it with clean flingers. But, I mean, contamination does happen. How often do you clean your fridge handle? Go on. Think about it. When was the last time you wiped down your fridge handle with bleach solution? Or the door handle to your bathroom? the bridge of your glasses? The arm of your glasses? I used a hand towel that was in my bathroom. Fecal matter in the air even with closing the toilet set lid.
Contamination is a bitch. Bacteria and fungi are everywhere. They want to see you fail. They want to take you down. Mold grew, I just scraped it off like I would cheese. But, I began making lotions and body products every week. And sure enough? Mold still grew. So I began making batches every three days. Then every day… but because 100g is the only real amount you can play with and mix properly, I was throwing out a lot of product. And that was stupidly expensive. And I couldn’t afford to do that!
So I gave in. I finally bought a preservative. Because my skin was looking better than it had in years! But, I didn’t have the time to make new things everyday.
I felt like such a traitor. Seriously. I went through such a dark period at that point in my life all because I couldn’t hack it as a “natural” DIY’er. My whole belief system was shaken. I was promised and I believed that if if I changed my diet and my way of life I’d have great skin. I was basically a vegetarian and I was living in the BBQ capitol of the country! I was spending almost 1Euro on a red or yellow pepper. I stopped eating all red meats, gave up salt, all oils, I was only eating raw foods and beans and all in the quest for perfect skin.
And it still eluded me. My skin was a little improved, it felt a whole lot better, but I still got all the gross spots going on.
So when I decided to buy a preservative, you can imagine my hesitation.
I finally took the plunge and began using my new products with preservatives. Holy sweet mother of goodness gracious iguanas. Within a week my skin stopped feeling like lizards skin. The patch of dry skin on my cheek bones and between my eyes went away.
Within ten days, no more new acne popped up. Within two months, all the acne I had on my face had cleared up! And I was finally acne free first the first time in forever!
Three years later, I usually have a flare up the week before my period, I’ve acne prone skin afterall, which means hormones are a pain in the backside! But once my period starts, I get my skin back! I’ve corrected the dehydrated skin by using what works, not what a group of random people on the internet say people should be using. I use what works.
Sure over this time, I have played with various oils, some were successful, some not so much. I still got the occasional flare up when using something new and strange (I’m looking at you hemp oil!) in my new face creams, but for the most part, my acne was gone.
It only took how many years?
And during this time, I learnt that terms like, “natural”, “green”, “organic”, don’t really mean jack squat. I began making handcrafted, handmade, high performance, luxury skin care products using the best ingredients I could get my hands on. And because of this, I have been fortunate enough to pass my knowledge on to you and all our customers by using my skin
I do hope you have enjoyed this story into the personal history of my face.
What about you? What is your skin journey?
* fine print:
all the idea’s in this post are purely my own opinions and experiences.