"What’s Wrong With Your Face?!"
So, I feel like talking about something that isn’t exactly Important with a capital I…but if you peeked into my brain, you might think it was. I’m talking about skincare.
Trivial? I don’t think so! How you feel outwardly really does change your attitude and inner satisfaction, and when I first came to China, I realized that people here are not at all shy about commenting on complexions.
"Why do you have so many bumps?" My host parents would ask this question over dinners out. People would advise me to eat less spicy food constantly. Never mind the fact that for my first two months in China I was sharing just 1 towel and 1 set of sheets with my husband, stressing out majorly and adjusting to humidity and heat as I had never felt before. Pollution and unsafe tap water were the norm. My skin was like a new problem child, misbehaving and throwing tantrums.
As the comments from strangers and colleagues alike continued, I became acutely aware of my problem skin. I had brought a few containers of face wash from America, and they ran out quickly. Everything was elusive in the Chinese drugstores. Whitening agents are popular here, and I really didn’t want to bleach my skin.
Over the summer, I decided to forego any and all makeup. I was sick of my skin. I was sick of feeling anxious about how people saw me here. My first day sans-makeup, a friend asked me why I had acne. I didn’t know how to answer her. As if my acne was a choice, as if I was doing something obviously wrong.
I bought Chinese Clean&Clear, the only non-bleaching cleanser I could find for a price that my Peace Corps salary could afford.
I tried a bunch of weird all-natural Pinterest recipes…mashing bananas to make masks (meh), worst of all using baking soda as an exfoliant (seriously, don’t go down that rabbit hole unless you want to really mess with pH levels and burn your skin).
Finally, I ordered some CeraVe lotions and cleansers with my American savings, and my parents brought them to me when they visited. My skin is finally calming down, just a few short months until I come home.
I’d love to tell you that I achieved inner peace and stopped caring about my looks while in China, but that’s just not true. If anything, China pushed me into situations that felt like my worst fears in America…those “ohmygod everyone must be staring at my horrible face” moments were totally confirmed, and I dealt with them. And I survived.
I still care about what people see when they look at me, but it is different. I’m a lot more comfortable with the reality of me. Imperfection is inevitable. Bad skin days, weeks, months—it’s okay.
I gotta be honest though…Sephora, get ready. In a couple of months, I’m coming for you!