Skin Tips from the Skin Nazi, Day 1: Dermatologist Disco

The doctor squats down on his little 3-legged rolling stool. I’m sitting in a chair across the room and he rolls over to me, stopping when his face is about 4 inches from mine. He peers deeply into my nose and cheeks, as if looking for a speck of very important dust that he has misplaced.

“Not too bad right now,” he says, rolling back to a safer distance.

I am seventeen and this has been going on for years. My mother also peers at me from time to time, stopping me while I’m in the middle of saying something to get up in my face and examine my pores. I hear the one thing teenagers don’t get enough of is scrutiny.

As a kid, my skin was never what I considered “THAT bad.” I was small and sort of nerdy, and the best I could hope for was to be invisible. I cared about my grades. Having perfect skin to impress boys was something that seemed like a ridiculous waste of time as compared to getting a scholarship so I could go to school out of state. If my mom hadn’t offered to take me, I probably wouldn’t have ever thought to go to a doctor. I mean, who cared?

Incidentally, I had the same attitude toward makeup. While most girls were lobbying their parents to let them wear “just a little colored lip gloss,” my mom just turned to me one day and said “so, you want to start wearing makeup soon?”

“Huh? Uh, sure. Whatever.”

But you know. No foundation. Foundation was for sluts.

I never thought of myself as someone that people ever looked at. Even when I was in the front row for every dance team performance because of my height, my coach had to mandate French braids. Otherwise, the team’s co-captain (your truly) would have shown up with some kind of sad, low ponytail. As I recall, one of the few times I felt peer pressure in school was when I was pushed into having “mall bangs.”

I just kept my head down and nose clean and focused on my grades. “I don’t need to be pretty. Who cares about pretty? I want to be smart instead. Smart lasts.”

This may explain why, even at 34, I still think my hair kind of sucks. I’m still a little unsettled by compliments about my appearance. My skin and I have made peace, but only cause it’s done such a nice job of not wrinkling. I don’t mind it being so insanely greasy anymore because greasy just means not getting wrinkles. Still, when a friend complimented my skin and asked me what I do to it, I was a tad taken aback. After a few conversations, I realized that 20+ years of having nightmare skin might have resulted in learning a few things that more genetically fortunate people might not have needed to know until now, when aging and hormone shifts cause our skin to change. In the interest of saving you all (and maybe your teen kids) some trouble and sharing what took 20 years of trial and error, I thought we could spend this week going over some Tips From the Skin Care Nazi. Stay tuned!

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