Best Face Forward: Taking Care of Your Skin

Shanelle Gabriel avatar

by Shanelle Gabriel |

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social, skin care
My face starts to itch. I’m noticing my skin is more photosensitive than ever before, and it’s annoying. I feel the little red bumps beneath my Urban Decay makeup, and as “beat” (meaning done-up) as my face is, I don’t feel like I’m in a Beyoncé video. Well, maybe I’m in the video for her song “Flaws And All.” Even if others don’t see the rash on the trunk of my body or mistake my malar butterfly rash for freckles, I see the flaws blaring at me in the mirror. I feel my skin tingle under the summer sun and on high-UV days. Unfortunately, I only seem to recognize the external side of my lupus when it’s too late.
I’ve always sucked at regimens. I didn’t realize this until I interviewed Genesis Suero (aka Miss New York USA) for my podcast and she jokingly shamed me for not using toner. A “tomboy” for most of my life, primping has never been my thing. I used to wash my face with whatever soap my mom bought, which varied from Noxzema (remember that?) to good ole reliable Irish Spring. But between ignoring what my face is thirsty for while taking medication that makes me break out, having a breakout due to withdrawal from not taking the medication that makes me break out, reactions to UV rays, and the Kit Kats I eat as comfort food, my skin is starting to turn against me.
I’m not in pubescent stages where a breakout, though it feels socially devastating, is still expected. I’m a grown woman with skin that doesn’t stretch back like in my teen years and a chronic illness that could care less that I need to look good at my next show. So, this month, I made some changes.
First, I made sure to take my meds. I packed an extra dose in my bag, so I don’t miss it, so my lupus doesn’t freak out because of withdrawal. Then, I bought a really cute glass bottle (I mean, it’s REALLY cute) that has lines on it to tell me how much water I should have drunk before a certain time. Yes, I regularly miss the deadline but I try to down three bottles in a day. If my system isn’t hydrated, my skin will produce extra oil that’ll clog my pores. Also, dehydrated skin is prone to wrinkles. No, thank you.
My next change was starting to wear SPF 50 or higher and putting on another layer of SPF at midday. All skin experts talk about evil UV rays and free radicals causing cancer and reduction in collagen production. In addition to all of that, for many of us with lupus, sunlight and UV lights can cause flares, rashes, and skin bothers. So we need that real-deal, heavy-duty, broad-spectrum sunblock (not the cute lil bottles of tinted screen) to make sure we have a barrier against the environmental factors that affect us.
I bought a face-specific cleanser, considering my skin’s tendency to be oily. Following up with toner has been helping my skin look and feel smoother. Look at me! Soon I’ll be one of those people doing K-Beauty masks every weekend. (Baby steps!) It’s definitely a process I’m getting used to, but a little facial TLC seems to be going a long way, keeping my skin a little less lupie, and a lot more me.


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