Like Amanda’s, my skin health journey has been anything but linear. Unlike Amanda, I didn’t go to my first dermatologist appointment until I was in my twenties, which feels crazy to admit. But I think it’s also what enabled me to appreciate a more integrative approach to skin health, which is an important foundational element for us at Pore House. Looking back on my journey up to this point, there are some really important things I learned.
The first step to healthy skin is to protect it
My background is evenly split into four quarters. On my mom’s side, my grandmother was from England, and my grandfather was from Ukraine. On my dad’s side, my grandmother was from Ireland, and my grandfather was from Italy. In the winter, I am as pale as a ghost, with a lovely pink flush adored by mom and loathed by me. But when the summer sun comes out, so does my Italian side, and I tan in a flash.
In the summer, I often neglected SPF and in the winter, I frequently went indoor tanning frequently. I also had severe sun poisoning when I was younger because of my refusal to reapply my sunscreen during long beach days. This resulted in extensive sun damage including freckles and premature wrinkles by my late twenties, and an ever-present paranoia that I am one skin cancer screening away from a very scary diagnosis.
Looking back, I wish someone had told me – either a parent or doctor – to always wear at least SPF 30, continuously reapply, and avoid indoor tanning at all costs. Nowadays, I almost never go out without some level of sun protection, even when it’s cloudy and cold, and I am a big fan of hats.
The second step is to visit your dermatologist annually
Although there is no history of skin cancer in my family, most likely because no one has ever been to a dermatologist. Unfortunately, it resulted in my sharing the sentiment that dermatologists were superfluous. It sounds unbelievable, but it is 100% true. Primary care and dentists were the priorities in my family.
My first visit to the dermatologist was right after college. I was lucky – it was a really positive experience (I spent a lot of time researching online). My doctor thoughtfully explained to me the dangers of skin cancer and the effectiveness of screenings in detecting and preventing it from occurring.
Nowadays, an annual checkup with my dermatologist is something I would never skip, especially with my sun damaged skin.
Sleep, snacks, and stress play an important role in keeping skin conditions at bay (or exacerbating them) – my most important lesson ever
One thing my parents did do at an early age was allude to the relationship between skin, food, sleep and stress. Their advice is what laid the groundwork for my appreciation for functional dermatology.
I learned about the connection between sleep in skin after my dad would say he could tell when I didn’t go to bed on time because I had bags under my eyes. Today, I recognize the importance of getting my 8 hours for the health of my skin. I’m a night owl, so it’s a real struggle for me to follow my body’s natural circadian rhythm and go to selep on the early side, but it really does work wonders for my skin.
When I was young and complained about a blemish, my mom would say things like, “don’t eat so much chocolate” – without knowing it, she taught me that skin and diet were related. I took a real interest in this later in life. I believe moderation is key, and avoid having too much of certain foods (yes, chocolate is still one of them, and I also rarely consume dairy). I also stick to a plant based diet most of the time, and find leafy greens work wonders as does anything rich in beta carotene.
When I was in college, I struggled to manage my overcrowded schedule and social commitments. I was also more stressed than ever. The first thing I noticed this have an impact on was my hair. It began thinning at a rapid rate. It was at this point that I realized the role stress on my skin. Nothing else had changed – not the products I was using or the regimen. I started seeing a therapist, integrated more regular exercise into my routine to solve for the stress and mental health challenges I was experiencing. I felt better. I also started taking a supplement, and it was at that point I really noticed a difference. Since then, I’ve been a firm believer in using supplements to support my skin, hair and nail goals. I continue to take biotin and I recently started taking Nutrafol, a brand that comes highly recommended by our Pore House providers.
As life changes, your skin health journey evolves – and it helps to have someone you trust to support you along the way
When I moved to Boston after five years in New York, I wasn’t fully prepared for the impact this major life change would have on my skin. It was a mess – the result of a new city, a new apartment, a new job and all without a support network I had come to rely on. When I met Amanda (also a Boston transplant), it turned out we both had very similar experiences. It took us both a long time to adjust, along with a lot of trial and error. For me, it was about finding the right therapist, managing my stress, and adopting a new inside-out regimen combining topicals and ingestibles. Our journeys were so different, but the ways we felt were the same.
The skin health journey is one that continues for our entire lives. Our skin changes with time, with the weather, with whatever is happening in our lives, and so there will always be a need for trying new strategies. It really helps to have someone there to guide and support you along the way, which is why I’m personally so excited by what we’re building. Pore House is here to be your friend, confidante, cheerleader, and of course, your doctor. Welcome home.