In a world where beauty bloggers act like they have a medical degree and influencers promote facial cleansing brushes on their Insta stories, basically anyone can call themselves a skin care expert. While it’s great that we can learn everything we need to know about toners and exfoliators from just a quick Google search, it also means that a lot of us have based our skin care routine on information that might not be accurate. Don’t panic and throw out all of your favorite beauty products just yet, though! Take a look at these busted skin care myths to get all of the facts on how to achieve the glowing skin you’ve always dreamed of.
Myth #1: Anti-Aging Products Are Only For People With Wrinkles
You might think that anti-aging products are for “older” people who have wrinkled skin. What many of those people will tell you is that they’ve had no luck getting their skin to look baby-smooth again like it once did. The truth is, once your skin has wrinkles, there’s no magic cream that can take them away permanently. The most effective way to be wrinkle-free is to start taking preventative measures when you’re young (in your 20s and 30s). That means using moisturizer and sunscreen or another SPF face lotion every day to prevent the development of dark spots and/or other signs of premature aging.
Myth #2: You Only Need Sunscreen If You’re Going To Be In Direct Sunlight
This brings us to our next point: it seems that the only time most of us remember to put on sunscreen is when we are going to the beach, or doing some kind of outdoor activity in the sunny summer months. While it is incredibly important that you use sun protection regularly when you plan to go out in direct sunlight, it’s equally as important to wear sunscreen on a daily basis, regardless of how sunny or cloudy it may seem. Especially when it comes to preserving and protecting your complexion, a daily broad-spectrum SPF is essential. Whether you realize it or not, even the smallest amount of sun exposure—whether that be through a window, sitting outside, or even through cloud cover—puts your skin at risk for negative effects from sun exposure. We know that getting a sunburn is very bad for your skin, but the sun can also penetrate the layers of your skin and cause damage deeper down, potentially leading to skin cancer, the most common cancer in the United States.
Myth #3: A Set Skin Care Routine Will Work For Everyone
You may be thinking, “everyone with perfect skin is following the same skin care routine, and I need to use exactly what they use if I want to have great skin too.” Yeah, that just isn’t the case. Each person has unique skin needs based on their skin type. A person with oily skin will need to use different products to cater to their needs as opposed to someone with dry skin. The same goes for people with mature skin, or sensitive skin, and so on. Just because one product worked amazingly for one person, doesn’t mean it will have the same effects for you. Take the time to research your skin type, or visit a dermatologist to find out what your skin type is, and the best way to care for it. The good news is there are so many products available that you’re bound to find the right ones for you.
Myth #4: Once Your Skin Reaches Maturity You’ll No Longer Break Out
You’d think that once you make it past your teens, you’ll never have to deal with acne again. Sorry, but we have some bad news. As it turns out, acne doesn’t seem to magically remove itself from your existence once you turn 20. Actually, your skin doesn’t fully mature until you’re about 30 to 35 years old, and even once you’ve reached that age range, you may still find yourself dealing with those pesky zits. But why? The most probable cause of your adult acne is your hormones. Your hormones change a lot over the course of your life, but factors like birth control, menopause, and even just your menstrual cycle can cause your hormones to fluctuate and create acne on your skin. Ughhh, we can’t have any nice things.
Myth #5: A Skin Care Routine Is Only For Your Face
Finally, you’ve perfected your skin care routine and your complexion looks the best it ever has. While achieving that sought-after facial glow does qualify for a well-deserved pat on the back, you may be forgetting about the big picture: the rest of the skin on your body!
You can’t forget to invest just as much time and energy into the skin on your body as you do for your face. Though your routine won’t be the same—our body skin is much thicker, which is why you wouldn’t use the same products on your face that you would on your body (and vice versa). TG, because facial products are expensive.
When it comes to skin care on your body, keep it simple. Wash your skin well with a soap or shower gel to remove the daily dirt, sweat, and other sh*t that collect on your skin. Next, exfoliate your clean skin. Whether you use a dry brush or a scrub to exfoliate while in the shower, it’s important to remove dead skin cells from your body to reveal the healthy skin underneath. Finally, moisturize. Once you’ve finished cleansing and exfoliating your skin, finishing off with a moisturizer is arguably one of the most important steps, as moisturizing serves to replenish your skin barrier, helping to improve its overall tone and texture.
Myth #6: A Skin Care Routine Is Only Effective If You Use A Multitude Of Targeted Products
With the thousands of skin care products available on the market, you may think that your routine will need to consist of 10 products minimum. The good news is, it doesn’t have to be that complicated (or expensive). If you want to create a perfectly effective skin care regimen, keep it limited to these three steps: cleanse, exfoliate, and moisturize. Cleaning your skin of makeup and dirt, exfoliating off the dead skin cells built up on your face, and moisturizing the new and healthy skin underneath is the simplest way to care for your skin on a daily basis and maintain a clean, clear, and healthy complexion.
However, if you have any unique skin concerns—like acne, for example—you may want to consider incorporating a specialized treatment product into your skin care regimen, as this will work to effectively target and address these areas. An acne cream containing tretinoin, for instance, is great for increasing skin cell renewal, which helps to prevent acne from the inside-out. On the other hand, if you’re concerned about dryness or wrinkles, applying a serum for overnight recovery can help penetrate the skin at a deeper level for better results.
At the most basic level, keep your skin care routine short and simple, and only incorporate more targeted treatments if and when necessary. Make sure to apply these treatments only to the particular areas of your skin that need some additional TLC.
Myth #7: “A Little Dab Will Do Ya”
Most skin care products will say to only apply a pea-sized amount of the product to your face, and this is true when using a product like an eye cream, where a little can go a long way. In reality, however, the suggested amount of product for proper use with most skin care products isn’t enough to give complete results for your skin. If you’re going to cleanse, exfoliate, or moisturize, don’t be afraid to apply a little bit extra. The lighter products like a cleanser or moisturizer can’t really hurt your skin, so if you want to get your complexion extra clean and smooth, you can add a little more than the bottle suggests.
If you do choose to use more of a product than suggested, keep your skin type in mind. For instance, those with dry skin shouldn’t over-cleanse, as their skin will dry out easily, and for those with oily skin, there’s no need to go overboard on the moisturizer or facial oils.
For products like a serum, a chemical exfoliator, or a targeted treatment, you’ll want to stick to the directions on the label, as these products are stronger and can cause damage to your skin if not used improperly or too frequently.
Images: Retha Ferguson / Pexels
As we approach week 9 (58? 102??) of quarantine, many of us are noticing that our skin is reverting back to its acne-riddled high school days. Seriously, what the hell? We’re not spending much time outside getting attacked by free radicals and pollutants, and we have more time than ever to do our involved skin care routines. So, what gives? Dr. Shari Marchbein, a New York-based dermatologist and Clinical Assistant Professor of Dermatology at the NYU Grossman School of Medicine, spoke with us about why our skin is still not behaving even when we’re in quarantine, and what we can do about it.
Why Quarantine is Causing You to Break Out
According to Dr. Marchbein, hormones are a crucial reason our skin is breaking out rn. There’s no way to pinpoint just one culprit, she says, since our sleep, work, and skin care routines are all out of whack from sheltering in place. The key ingredient in all of these, she says, is stress.
When we think about hormones, our minds typically wander to testosterone, progesterone, and like, things that relate to the pill or middle school health class. However, Dr. Marchbein explains, the hormone causing our current skin woes is cortisol, “which increases in the blood at times of stress or with lack of sleep and can trigger acne breakouts by stimulating sebaceous glands to make more oil.” Increased cortisol, she says, “can worsen other skin conditions such as eczema, acne and psoriasis, as well as cause an increased breakdown of collagen and hyaluronic acid, which is the good stuff that gives skin its glow and plumpness.” Yeah, no thanks.
How to Prevent Stress-Related Flare-Ups
To avoid flare-ups in the first place, Dr. Marchbein recommends several ways to de-stress. “First and foremost, get plenty of sleep,” she says. When our body is sleep-deprived, it makes more cortisol, causing inflammation and bodily stress. Staying active is also important, according to Dr. Marchbein. Her go-to ways to de-stress are meditating and taking a yoga class. To help reduce your cortisol and stress levels, you can also go for a socially distanced walk, if possible.
And just like your mom’s been telling you for years, “maintaining a healthy, well-balanced diet and drinking plenty of water are key.” By following this advice, which tbh you should be doing anyway for your general health, you can be like that meme that’s like, “my skin is clear, my crops are flourishing, my depression is gone” (but like, with actual, non-sarcastically clear skin).
How to Treat Acne Flare-Ups
If you’ve got a particularly aggressive breakout, don’t freak out, because here are a number of treatment methods to try. Under normal circumstances (lol what are those), Dr. Marchbein would advise visiting your dermatologist for a steroid injection. These injections “reduce the pain and inflammation of cystic breakouts,” she says, but at this point, “most medical visits are being done by telemedicine, and in-person visits should be for true emergencies only.” So that’s out.
Then what to do about the acne glaring back at you in your reflection? For starters, Dr. Marchbein recommends certain over-the-counter products to treat existing flare-ups. Retinoids are one useful treatment for acne breakouts—Differin 0.1% gel is the strongest non-prescription one available, she notes. Salicylic acid, a type of acid that can unclog pores, is also helpful.
“I like St. Ives Blackhead Clearing Scrub with salicylic acid and green tea as a gentle scrub, and I use a St. Ives salicylic acid gel cleanser once daily,” Dr. Marchbein says. She also recommends stronger 1-2% salicylic acid gel for spot treatment. Products with benzoyl peroxide, which is anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial, can help calm irritated skin too. Dr. Marchbein likes 10% Panoxyl wash and 4% CeraVe wash.
Finally, acne patches deliver active ingredients to a pimple. “By occluding the pimple, these active ingredients are able to penetrate the skin more deeply allowing them to potentially work better,” she explains. Watch out if you have sensitive skin, though—acne patches might be too harsh for you and could make the situation worse.
“Most importantly,” Dr Marchbein warns, “do not pop or squeeze a pimple, as this will cause even more inflammation and can make a potentially bad situation even worse.” I know Dr. Pimple Popper videos can be satisfying, but seriously, don’t do this to yourself.
Skin Care Advice in the Time of Public Face Masks
As much as we’ve been staying indoors these days, we occasionally have to venture out into the real world to stock up on supplies or grab our curbside pick-up order of pad thai. For those of us responsibly following the CDC’s recommendation to wear cloth face masks in public, our skin might be suffering. Dr. Rajani Katta, a dermatologist and clinical assistant professor at Baylor University, warns against using masks made of irritating materials like polyester that trap sweat, in a blog post for the Baylor College Of Medicine. She suggests masks made of absorbent materials like cotton, which can help absorb sweat and prevent breakouts.
If you’ve got dry skin, Dr. Katta advises moisturizing before putting on your mask, but if you’re particularly acne-prone, she recommends skipping greasy products like foundation. “These products can get trapped under the mask and possibly cause more skin issues,” she explains. For healthcare workers on the front lines, Dr. Marchbein recommends avoiding retinoids and exfoliants. Wearing abrasive N95 masks daily, she says, “could cause further irritation and shearing of the skin.”
If your quarantine = breakout central, all hope is not lost. There are plenty of products and habits that can help repair your skin and prevent further flare-ups. Plus, it’s not like many people are seeing you these days. If you’ve got a particularly nasty zit, just turn off your video on Zoom.
Images: Andrea Piacquadio / Unsplash; Vera Davidova / Unsplash; Breakingpic / Pexels
There I was, legs elevated in metal stirrups, counting backward from ten, losing consciousness by the second. Why? For $7K… duh.
There’s not much I won’t consider doing for money. As a kid, I worked a lemonade stand, sold snacks at yard sales, and scammed grown-ups with bets like $20 for throwing an inflated football through a tire. I’ve had an array of jobs since I was 16 and almost never just one at a time. I was even offered $200 in high school to take a guy’s virginity. I didn’t, but does that matter?
Donating your eggs is not easy money, but that is the illusion.
Just the lengthy application alone can weed out the weary. Then you have to get over the fear of stabbing yourself with needles, followed by the realization that you might release children into the world. It’s enough to make anyone think twice.
Obviously, money is a primary motivator when it comes to a procedure like this. A study published in the U.S. National Library of Medicine notes that 81% of egg donors “indicated that the offer of payment was significant to their decision.” Yet, I found that the end result was way more rewarding than the cash, and that’s why I donated my eggs not once, but twice. The money is long gone. After Uncle Sam reached between my legs for a quarter of it, I used the rest to leave a job I hated, pay off debt, and buy myself some boobs. But when I look back on my donation process, it’s not the money I remember.
First, it’s important to clear up a common misconception: Donating doesn’t affect your egg count. According to the Cleveland Clinic, women are born with approximately one million eggs. Even prior to puberty, these eggs die each month. So the eggs you donate would naturally die in your next menstrual cycle.
Thrust into living alone after my boyfriend broke up with me unexpectedly, my credit card became a crutch. I couldn’t get through the week without dipping into unpromised money. A friend of mine introduced me to Shady Grove Fertility, an organization dedicated to infertility treatments. She had considered donating her eggs but was daunted by the application process due to her family medical history. Less than 40% of applicants pass the initial screening, a statistic specific to SGF provided to me upon completion. I answered the preliminary application, which consisted of a few essential questions used to easily disqualify any red flags—one of which I held. I had traveled to the Caribbean with my ex (eye roll) just five months prior and ZIKA was a major concern. I was asked to apply again in another month, since six months was the threshold for exposure.
After re-applying, I was accepted and provided a link for the comprehensive application. Holy Moly. Now, I’m a writer and fully enjoy talking about myself, but this was on another level. I provided personal statements and short essays about everything down to my musical ability and every detail about my family including the color of my dead paternal grandfather’s eyes. The application actually serves as a profile for a donor when they are being selected by hopeful recipients. I uploaded pictures of myself as a child and an adult—the latter is not required but increases the probability and rate of being chosen.
I was then invited to begin the medical screening portion. Based on when I had started my most recent pack of birth control, an ultrasound and bloodwork appointment were scheduled. They also performed genetic screening which tested for 105 conditions. At this point, it had been about three months since I first reached out. I received $150 through an application promotion and $50 for approved lab work.
*calls produce manager of whole foods* hi yes i’m interested in donating my eggs
— you thoughtttttttttttttttttttttttt (@youonebigyike) September 1, 2019
I took a brief online course that provided an overview of the procedure and then was scheduled for “Donor Day,” which requires a day off from work when current donors meet at the office with a nurse for in-person training and screening. After screening, we took a 150 question multiple choice personality test, learned about the procedure, ate pizza, and practiced our first injection. We practiced mixing solution, dialing the pen to the correct dosage, and finally pinching some stomach fat and stabbing ourselves. I bled, which never happened again, but I had my first “what have I done?” moment. The day earned me $450.
Then, I signed consent forms and met with a social worker. Basically, it was a therapy session to ensure my sanity and comfort with the process, especially the fact that this would likely result in real live children running around with my DNA. I was and am completely comfortable with this fact. Once cleared, my profile went live for recipients to view. I was selected within a week. They switched my birth control in order to sync with my recipient’s and I received fertility medication to my home.
No more drinking, sex, drugs, tattoos, piercings, smoking, etc. Over the next two weeks, I injected hormones into my stomach at the same time each night and went into the office for bloodwork and an ultrasound about three times a week. The one shot, which I administered through an insulin pen, didn’t bother me. But the second shot, which required mixing a powder and liquid, burned as I pressed the plunger releasing the solution under my skin. You get used to it, but I always dreaded the second shot. The medication grows the egg follicles, and the ultrasound measures that growth process. With a lubed-up wand between my legs, I watched my uterus morph into a crop field on a blurry screen, and it was fascinating. My monitoring visits increased with my follicle size. Eventually, I added a third shot to my daily routine. The nurses followed my progress and emailed me with specific dosing instructions as they changed.
All of the coordinators, nurses, and doctors I worked with throughout the process were incredibly helpful. They answered my questions, wrote me a note to freeze my gym membership, and even worked around the travel required for my job, scheduling me at locations that were convenient to my home, office, and wherever I was traveling. And yes, I did this while working for an event production company (one of my bosses had actually used a donor herself). I brought my medication in a cooler and took strategic breaks so that I could shuttle to an offsite condo where I’d disappear into the bathroom with my needles.
I actually relished the time that preceded the retrieval procedure. My body felt productive, like a factory. I was preparing for this really important gift while still working full time and living my life. Around three days out, I could actually feel my ovaries sloshing beneath my pelvis. The hormones swell each ovary from the size of a ping-pong ball to that of an orange.
After about two weeks, monitoring took place every day and they watched my progress closely to determine the exact date and time of retrieval. My mom was on standby to come stay and drive me to and from surgery. Once a date was defined (about two days out) I was instructed to take my trigger shot at a very specific time two nights before retrieval. I also took an antibiotic the night before with no food or water following.
My mom and I woke at 4am and drove to the surgery center 45 minutes away. I started to cramp. The building was immaculate. I felt very safe and comfortable. The staff was warm and attentive and kept thanking me for my “gift”. They also handed me a check for $6,500.
I dressed in some fabulous surgery attire (booties, gown, hair net) and received an IV. The cramping started to increase minutes away from surgery. I received anesthesia through my IV. Aside from having my wisdom teeth extracted, this was my first surgery. I walked with my IV tree and a nurse to the procedure room. I laid on a table and lifted my legs into metal stirrups. For the first time, I suddenly felt incredibly exposed. The anesthesiologist placed a gas mask over my nose and mouth and before I knew it, I was asleep. While I was out, a long needle-like vacuum was inserted into my vagina and pierced the vaginal wall on each side to essentially suck out the eggs from each of my ovaries. They retrieved 13 mature eggs. The actual retrieval only took about 20 minutes.
The drive back to Baltimore was rough. I wanted to sleep, but the bumpy roads aggravated the cramping. Plus, my ovaries were still enlarged. I slept when I got home and watched Fixer Upper for the rest of the day. The doctor gave me a prescription for pain that I ended up not needing. By that night, I felt back to normal. I stayed home from work the next day because why not, ya know? I returned for a follow-up visit about a week later and I was on my way! I had sex the following weekend even though I shouldn’t have. But I missed alcohol and d*ck. TG for Plan B.
SGF reached out to me about three months later encouraging me to donate again. Although hesitant at first, I excitedly agreed. Since I was already vetted, the process proceeded much quicker—only about two months. They completed an initial screening before reactivating my donor profile. Unlike the first time, my profile was selected by three families instead of just one and my retrieval was split amongst them.
Things went even smoother the second time around. And not just because I knew the ropes, but because my body did too. I hardly experienced any cramping before and after surgery. They retrieved 22 mature eggs the second time and I received a total of $7,500.
I haven’t donated a third time (worth $8k) for a few reasons. Honestly, I’m nervous to jinx myself. The last thing I want is for something to hinder my ability to have my own children in the future. Another reason, which I only thought of more recently, is that I plan to stay in the Baltimore area as I have my own kids. This sounds like the plot to a titillating beach read, but my future kids could very well meet and date my donor children. One reason women aren’t allowed to donate more than six times with one organization is for this very reason.
Moral of the story: egg donation is incredibly involved, but it’s an extraordinary way to help a fellow human. If you made it to the end of this whirlwind article and are still interested in donating, do as much research as you can, especially as it pertains to the options in your area. Really consider the possibility of a child seeking you out in the future. Although the information is private, we all see the leaps and bounds DNA technology have already made. If you have more questions about my experience, feel free to DM me. Although I don’t plan to continue donating, I’d love to facilitate that opportunity for others.
Images: Kara Kinnamon (2); Nikola Radojcic / Unsplash; SGFertility, youonebigyike / Twitter