Sometimes, in life, to get a little perspective, I think (and I’m sure many other, wiser people have before me) that it’s useful to prioritise what matters most. This week, I was going to write about my adventures in fake tan land (headline: sticky!), but the pasty-legs concern got somewhat displaced by a higher order beauty issue.
I’m going to say there are three different tiers of beauty and wellbeing concerns. Last year I broke my leg, badly. This was a Tier 1 beauty issue, if you extend ‘beauty’ to include how well your body looks and functions on the most basic of levels. On any scale, really, my predicament at that time had Tier 1 written all over it - in scrawly, surgeon’s sick-note writing. For six weeks, really all that mattered to me was trying to walk again.
And when you have a Tier 1 thing to worry about, Tiers 2 and 3 can wait. I washed my hair only a handful of times in a couple of months (showering at all wasn’t particularly easy), and my makeup bag collected dust for the first time in its career. I mostly slept, and while I was awake, I was sweating profusely, trying to do the seemingly simple exercises from my physio that seemed like impossible circus feats at the time. Thankfully, I figured it out and could soon return to the simple joys of Tier 3 beauty issues, like aggressive use of Bio Oil to heal the teeny tiny keyhole scars (how do they do that?!) on my knee.
I’d put developing adult acne firmly into the Tier 2 category. It doesn’t (directly) threaten any of the things you fundamentally need to be able to do in life, but, as I’ve blogged about before, it can be debilitating in an entirely different, but sometimes equally real, way to a broken leg. And it certainly does dampen your appetite for Tier 3 delights a little – what’s the point in a new lipstick if your face doesn’t look like yours anymore?
Since my acne treatment began, I’ve thankfully been able to refocus my attention on Tier 3 concerns, now I know the more serious issue is under control. This week, for the first time, though, a potential Tier 2 issue raised its ugly (scratchy, itchy) head.
I’d noticed something appear on the skin under my eye, a little puffy, a little dry. I’ll be honest – a lot like what happens when you’re horrifically hungover and your eyes initially look like they’ve been inflated like a beach ball (and then throughout the day quickly deflate to sunken, Gollum-esque dark rings). Except I wasn’t hungover. I’d had eight hours sleep, gone to Pilates and drank a coconut water. Skin nirvana!
To my horror (not actual horror, like breaking a leg - this is all relative), as I was putting my makeup on, I noticed more little circles appear. A little like an allergic reaction, they looked like the sort of things that could suddenly blossom and multiply, spiralling out of control, without any apparent reason, like crop circles in the 90s. Of course, as always happens in life when you’re preoccupied with your day-to-day Tier 3 bits and bobs, the aforementioned weird patches on my face appeared on the morning of a Very Important Meeting. To clarify (although I’m sure everyone is familiar with the scenario), a Very Important Meeting includes staying up late to write a presentation, not quite being able to sleep without thinking about what I’m going to say, and wearing my favourite Whistles dress and my shiny shiny patent black serious loafers.
However, help was at hand. I’m very fortunate in these situations now, thanks to Dr Sam . With the help of my phone camera (#nofilter), I sent Sam a distressingly close up pic of the offending blight. Brilliantly Dr Sam came to the rescue – this is a normal (the MOST reassuring word any sufferer of skin complaints can hear, surely) - part of your skin getting used to the creams, and it just does happen sometimes. I remember the warnings she gave me about my first round of treatment and how it would have to settle in. Luckily for me, I skipped relatively happily through that phase, few problems bar a little flaky skin - but in this case, my skin was angry with me and making its feelings known.
This was one cosmetic issue that couldn’t be solved by any Whistles dress, however chic and streamlined-of-silhouette, or lovely loafers, however shiny of surface. There is, however, an easy solution: stop with all the medical creams until further notice, and switch to a soothing 1% hydrocortisone cream that’ll help fix my stressed-out face, along with my now beloved Obagi moisturiser and sun screen.
My skin has calmed down now, and the little dry circles' quest for facial domination has been stopped in its tracks. Two days on I've sort of figured out how to apply makeup around them. But more importantly, I've realised how happy I've been of late basking in my Tier 3 non-worries. And, as I said in my very first article, you don't really appreciate that until you have to deal with a more pressing / itchy / distracting issue. The Very Important Meeting went quite well - as it happens, the focus of the room was not actually on my dry skin. But certainly from now on I’ll try to remember this: every day that my biggest beauty concern is which pair of shoes goes with my dress, is already a rather good day.