With shelfies stacked high of hydrating serums, and drawers overflowing with products, it might be hard to imagine a world outside of skincare where I exist. From the outside looking in I’m just a girl that loves to research, and loves skincare. From within the four walls of the small squares, skincare is my life.
But, I didn’t start here. In fact, I haven’t even been here that long, and often I feel as though I have only one foot in the door.
Recently I’ve seen an influx of comments and messages on my account (and others like it) about aspiring to create an online account, but not feeling like you can because of financial reasons, or wishing to become a skincare expert but not being able to afford it, or wanting to work in tech, but not knowing where to start, or be able to go to college. Honestly it breaks my heart, because if I have learned one single thing in my life, it is that that life is not linear, it is messy, so messy, but not impossible. Many have reached out on these topics, and I hope that by sharing my story I can give insight to another path, and along the way answer some of the faq questions I’ve recieved.
The Story Before Skincare
My story begins long before I ever loved skincare, long before I began working in tech, long before perhaps it should have. I never woke up one day when I was five and said, “I want to be a skincare expert,” and then set out to do precisely that. No, I actually thought I was going to be an Olympic gymnast (yes, really) and I started down that long road. It lead me to many victories, but also to two spinal fractures, a torn ACL, and no olympic gold, or even a college scholarship. Maybe that was my first life lesson: do not expect to have everything go as planned.
Parallel to my breakup with gymnastics and ideations of the future, my parents began what would become a six year divorce proceeding. Divorce is messy, that is a known fact. But living the worst of it— subpoenas on Thanksgiving, the living room repeatedly turned into a war zone of papers and exhibits, child lawyers, the dirty secrets unearthed about you and your parents, and so much more that I will spare the details of —repeatedly, for what felt like an actual eternity to a fourteen year old girl, was unparalleled.
It’s often hard to recall memories that happened during that time because they took every ounce of me, days morphed into each other as the drone of the same drum played day in and day out for the greater part of a decade. It drained me mentally, physically, spiritually— sometimes I look back on the girl I was at 15 and feel a profoundly hollow sense of grief for her and the life she lived, and the life she could have lived. Maybe this was my second life lesson: You can survive even the worst things life will throw at you, and from them, learn to thrive.
By the time I turned seventeen I was exhausted. I felt as though I had already lived an incredibly full life, albeit not all good, but full. I was at a crossroads of wanting to thoroughly give up and succumb to a life of coasting by, and on the other hand desperately wanting something better for myself. I began working at a local bakery, and even to this day I try to find the good things about working that job, but I’ll tell you straight, I absolutely hated working there. To this day, I shiver at the though of that job. And so come another life lesson: sometimes you have to do, what you have to do, just to get by. Because that was my reality, by seventeen (ish) the insanity that lived in my home life led me to flee, because I had to. I applied for food stamps, and moved into a small 500sq/ft ant infested apartment in some lady’s back yard for $375 a month. I had no option to quit my job. I was 100% alone, I had nothing and no one I felt I could fall back on. I suppose the one silver lining of working at the bakery was the short circuit reboot on my system, which provided me with an overwhelming urgency to not live an ordinary and mundane life. I wanted something better, and I was going to get it, I just didn’t know how yet.
While working at the bakery I was also attending a local community college. I knew this was my ticket out of the life cultivated for me, but I couldn’t connect the pieces. It was a forced relationship. While I believed it was the way out, something just wasn’t right. I was so bored, I felt like I needed a solution now, not after four years of sitting through classes I had already read the books for.
Months passed and I buried myself in anything within grasp that would numb the pain of life, or give it spark—terrible relationships, friends, music, irrational decisions, impulsive behavior, etc. The jolt of motivation the reality of the bakery job gave me was fast fading. This was around the time I first began researching skincare, I could afford no more than $15 products, so I had better make sure they were good. This catapulted me into my obsession with skincare that would eventually turn into the platform that you’re reading this on.
What happened next I’ll never forget, and I’ll spare many details because truthfully it’s a story in and of itself. A seemingly ordinary incident sparked a series of events that would eventually change the rest of my life… I dropped my phone down a flight of concrete stairs. I completely shattered it— the back popped off, the whole thing, ruined. I actually laughed to myself, because it was one of those moments, where you can’t even comprehend one additional thing going wrong, and then it does.
I did what every mom wishes their kid wouldn’t and met someone on Craigslist downtown who was selling a phone. I rolled up in my ’98 Honda Civic stick shift with the dented bumper, at a fancy building in the heart of Seattle. I walked up the glossy marble stairs and met the man in the suit selling the phone, who would later become and remain to this day, one of my closest friends.
Due to the luck of neither one of us being able to open the SIM slot to test the phone, he offered we head up to his company’s office where he had one in his desk, and we made our way up the elevator, as he assured me more than once, that he was not a serial killer. As it turned out, he was not in fact a serial killer, but rather the CEO of a (at the time) small tech company. Through conversation in exchange for the phone he told me about his company’s summer internship program and said that if I was interested in tech I should send over my resume. I got the phone, and we parted ways. Desperate for anything new, I sent over a resume, and never heard back.
Months passed, my old life became new once again, and repeated. Over and over. Until one day maybe 8 months later that I found myself with an email from the CEO saying I should come in for an interview. I almost didn’t go, because while I wasn’t completely lost in the world of tech, I certainly wasn’t qualified to be an intern. I don’t know what divine intervention persuaded me to actually go, but I went, and I completely bombed it.
Much to my surprise, I got the internship. And so began my journey into tech. I returned to my glorious Craigslist hunting, and purchased my first computer for $300. My coworkers spent hours teaching me the fundamentals of computer science, the good fundamentals, the things you actually need to know and use in the real world, the CTO spent time teaching me how to setup and run Git and other Terminal functions, and things that I still use to this very day. The CEO let me frequently sit in on business calls and would translate business lingo between every sentence, he taught me the fundamentals of running your own business, how to be a good co-founder, and even the nitty gritty details of when things go wrong. He was unapologetically and bluntly honest, about everything, and I took it as a breath of fresh air, an end to my drowning on dry land. Every single day that I saw him, he would tell me: “I believe in you, I just have a feeling you’re going to kill it out there [in the world].” He said it so many times that eventually my walls cracked just enough, that I started to believe him.
For the first time since I had been a little girl in gymnastics, I felt stability and consistency, and a love for what I was doing. I was working around the clock— between the internship, school, the bakery, and independent learning/ research I was working twelve hours a day, seven days a week. After so long, with the support of my new team, I dropped out of college. It was a very bittersweet decision, and still is. As my brilliant coworker recently said, more eloquently than I could have, “not having a college degree is being at a constant intersection of pride and shame.” I think that is one of the most accurate ways I have ever heard it described.
From there, the company sent me to a school specifically for programming, it was to round out my edges, soften the sharp spots of disconnect in areas I had been only self taught, it was to get me locked and loaded and ready to go into the working world of tech at full force.
I went, I endured, I survived. Eighty hour work weeks were the normal, three days to complete an entire code build to see if you could do it, days spent on couches, and early morning coffees (three out of the five coffees I’ve ever consumed in my life happened in these months). And finally, a light at the end of the tunnel, I graduated, and as their youngest graduate ever. That same month I applied to a few different places as an engineer and a month and a half later I got offers back from all of them. I accepted the one I felt was best for me at the time, and began consulting with Microsoft, Costco, and other large industry businesses. At nineteen, I was creating some of the largest enterprise data solutions, and the rest has been history.
It actually hasn’t, but saying that sounded cool, and I wish it was the truth. Sometimes I still long for the life I had when I was younger, sometimes I fall asleep in nostalgia that grips me so tightly I’m not sure I’ll ever break free from it. I still mourn the loss of my childhood and my relationship with my parents. I feel strong pains of regret and remorse over decisions that I made while trying to fix myself. Working in tech has brought a sense of purpose to my life, as has skincare. It has brought joy to many of my days and I feel the ground beneath my feet is stable. Each day I walk farther from what was and deeper into what is now, and for me, that’s enough.
Skincare Self Care
My connection to skincare never wavered during this huge transition in my life, in fact, it became another form of consistency, and in that, self care. Between reading the Adobe Analytics User Manual and The Art of Digital Marketing I would spend hours researching products, why they were good, why they were bad. What different ingredients were and different ingredient classifications. My obsession with skincare provided the perfect balance between analytical thinking overload and straightforward (for the most part) research.
At this point, I had been reading and researching about skincare for about three years. I had thought about starting a blog but was at a loss of what to do, what to write, for fear of creating just another useless site regurgitating all of the information that was actually out there. Unrelated at the time, I had wanted to teach myself Squarespace development for fun, and as a thought experiment I asked myself, “ok, if I were to have a blog right this second what would it be called.” The Skincare Diary was instantly the first thing that came to my mind, and I decided to to make a little Squarespace blog. I thought it could maybe be my diary in a sense, where I would write about skincare, but also feel the relief and calmness that comes from journaling– I had it setup for about two months before I really decided to start writing it. The Skincare Diary was started first for just me, a form of self preservation/ self care, an attempt to learn how to be a better engineer. I soon found that I liked answering questions, and helping those with their routine, and a lot of my early posts were inspired by questions I had gotten from you. I didn’t always imagine The Skincare Diary for what it is now, I honestly thought that for a long time it would just be for me. It’s been trying and challenging navigating the new waters of the online world from this perspective, and I’ll be the first to admit I’ve never always done things the right way, it’s been a learning curve, and like anything else in life: trial and error, mistakes, and waking up the next day to do it all over again, but trying to do it better than the day before.
So where does that lead to today? Many things learned, many things still being learned. A small, but incomplete list:
- Life can be beyond both your wildest dreams and worst nightmares, hindsight is always 20/20, but try to find the silver linings, or at least the lessons
- If you’re in a standstill, always say yes, it will open more doors than you can imagine
- You are not your past, and you are not your parents
- Never stop learning, you become more, when your worldview becomes more, it is your responsibility to yourself to expand it
- College is not for everyone and it is certainly not a golden ticket to success
- There are many non-linear paths to success, don’t ever be discouraged by being on a different path than someone else
- Luck might open the door, but no-one gets by on luck alone, above all it takes discipline, compromise, and commitment to succeed
- It’s ok to not be ok
- It’s ok to make mistakes, but learn from them
- When every single thing in the world is telling you that you can’t do it, find a way to sustain yourself long enough to maybe one day believe that you can actually do it
- When you feel your world imploding, and you want to nothing more than to grasp yourself so tightly, that just maybe, you implode with it. Know that really, truly, it does get better.
- Every single person has a life behind them and ahead of them, and especially online, you are only privy to a small fraction of it. So be kind, and less quick to judge. You never know who could be on the other side of a seemingly meaningless interaction that in reality could change something for you.
- You can start with less than nothing and make something
- When you can, give more than you get, nobody gets by alone, we all need help sometimes
- You should never feel ashamed of the things you had to do to survive
If you made it this far, I applaud you. I always remind myself that I could have had it worse, and I did spare many details here, but I hope this will provide someone somewhere with even the tiniest shred of hope or inspiration. As always, my email, DM’s, etc are always open to chat.
I will table my longer story about getting into skincare for another day!
We all dream of flawless, glowing skin, but with new products constantly hitting the shelves and the seemingly endless skincare advice out there on the Internet, it’s not always easy to figure out the skincare routine that’s going to work best for you. You know the basics — drink plenty of water, get enough sleep, and wash your face, but what about everything in between ? Luckily, there’s no need to shell out tonalités of cash on any magical procedures or expensive creams to achieve flawless skin.
We spoke with dermatologists and top beauty experts to put together a list of some of the best skincare tips. From choosing the right cleanser for your skin type to the importance of cleaning your makeup brushes, these easy tricks — plus some top-tested product picks from the Good Housekeeping Institute Beauty Lab — will help guide you to glowing skin ASAP.
' For oily or acne-prone skin, a salicylic givre or benzoyl peroxide wash works great, ' says Dr. Ava Shamban, a dermatologist in Santa Monica. ' For dry femme mûre skin, use either a moisturizing glycolic or milky cleanser. For skin with brown spots or melasma, use a brightening wash, such as an alfa hydroxy acid cleanser. '
' The best times to moisturize are right after you get out of the shower and right before you go to bed, ' explained Dr. Janet Prystowsky M. D., an NYC-based dermatologist. Avoid lotions with heavy fragrances and make sure you find a moisturizer gentle enough for every day use with zero irritation.
Dr. Tzu says figuring out how to avoid touching your face is very important. It doesn’t just spread bacteria and cause breakouts — it can lead to scarring, an increase in wrinkles, and even the flu or other viruses.
Every skin spécialiste we spoke to emphasized the importance of hydration. ' A lack of water means less radiance and more sag, ' says Dr. Mona Gohara, a dermatologist in Connecticut. She suggests choosing products ( cleansing, moisturizing, and anti-aging ) that have hydrating formulas. And, of course, drink around eight glasses of water a day.
Don’t just watch out for the sun — getting too close to heaters and fireplaces can also wreak havoc on your skin. ' It causes inflammation and collagen breakdown. I recommend staying at least ten feet away, ' explains Dr. Debbie Palmer, a New York dermatologist. So next time you’re roasting chestnuts or s’mores over an open fire, take a step back.
' We lose 50 million skin cells a day, and without a little extra nudge, they may hang around leaving the skin looking sullen, ' says Dr. Gohara. tera fight this, you should ' choose a product that is pH neutral so it doesn’t dry as it exfoliates. ' And don’t just stop with your face — the skin on your body needs exfoliation, too.
A balanced diet is important, but there’s more than one way to give your skin vitamins. There are also topical antioxidants, which are serums and creams that contain ingredients that nourish the skin ( think vitamin C serum ! ).
' These can really help to repair the skin from sun damage, ' says Dr. Palmer. Not sure how to use them ? The best time to apply them is right after cleansing so that your skin can soak them in, or they can be layered under your sunscreen for added protection.
Though it’s tempting to grab a coffee the minute you wake up, Joanna Vargas, a skincare facialist in NYC, says choosing the right beverages can be a game changer. ' Drink a shot of chlorophyll every morning to brighten, oxygenate, and hydrate your skin. Drinking chlorophyll also helps drain puffiness by stimulating the lymphatic system, so it’s also good for capitons graisseux. '
If you’re not keen on downing a shot of the stuff, chlorophyll supplements can be found at many drugstores and health food stores. She also advised drinking green juices with lots of veggies in them : ' It will transform your skin in a matter of days — and it helps oxygenate the skin and stimulates lymphatic drainage, so it’s de-puffing, too. '
' Your skin has a natural barrier to retain moisture, and essential to that is omega-3 fatty acid, ' Joanna advises. ' Flax seeds on your salad or even walnuts will be an instant boost to your omega-3, thus increasing your skin’s ability to hold onto moisture. ' And be sure to eat a diet low in foods with a high glycemic index ( simple and complex carbohydrates ).
tera fight empoisonnement and clogged pores, Dr. Prystowsky recommends washing concealer and foundation brushes once a week. For brushes you use around your eyes, she recommends twice per month, and for any other brushes, once a month is fine.
Here’s how : Put a drop of a mild shampoo into the palm of your hand. Wet the bristles with lukewarm water. Then, massage the bristles into your palm to distribute the shampoo into the brush. Avoid getting the metal part of the brush wet/or the base of the brush hairs because the glue could soften and the bristles could fall out. Rinse the shampoo out and squeeze out the water with a towel. Lay the brushes on their side with the bristles hanging off the edge of the counter to dry.
' Many people feel they only need to protect themselves on sunny days or when visiting the beach, ' says Dr. Palmer. ' But the truth is that we need to protect our skin even when we’re driving a car, flying in an airplane, or course errands. It’s the daily ultraviolet exposure that contributes to the visible signs of aging. ' What kind of sunscreen is best ? Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a SPF of 30 or greater — and remember that it needs to be reapplied every 2 hours.
We’re talking SPF makeup, sunglasses, and broad-brimmed hats. ' Preventing sun damage is a million times better for your skin than treating it after the fact, ' says Dr. Prystowsky.
' Fad products and fancy ingredients are fun to try, and sometimes they work well, ' says Dr. Prystowsky, ' but usually they’re off the shelves just as quickly as they’re on them. ' Find a cleanser and moisturizer that you know work for you, and keep them at the core of your routine.
It’s not just about getting eight hours a night. Skin will also benefit from regularly using clean silk pillowcases. ' The material glides easily and prevents creasing and wrinkles, ' says Jesleen Ahluwalia, M. D., a dermatologist from Spring Street Dermatology in New York City. ' Silk is also easier on hair — it helps avoid tangles and breakage. ' Better hair and skin while you sleep ? Yes, please.