From the Pantry to the Bathroom: NOTHING! (Or, Listen to Your Boyfriend)

June 7, 2009

OK, so this doesn’t exactly conform to the format of FTPTTB in that I’m not about to reveal a moisturizer recipe that calls for olive oil and honey (although I’m sure you could use those ingredients for moistening purposes). Instead, my skin care tip of the day is: Nothing!

Remember, a few months ago, when I was complaining of that weird rash I had under my eyes after I stupidly used my diluted-vinegar-and-cinnamon concoction — originally intended as a hair conditioner — in place of toner? Yeah, a word for the novices out there trying to tackle homemade beauty products: cinnamon and delicate regions of the epidermis do NOT go together. Anyway, I was trying a bunch of different remedies to bring my under-eye area back to normal, including almond oil (nope), safflower oil (nope), vitamin A and E (nope), jojoba oil (nope) and my ever-beloved coconut oil (nope), and while most of these would kind of work temporarily, all it took was one shower or face wash (with or without any soap) for my skin to freak out again.

Now, my approach when it comes to health or skin problems is to try a natural remedy first; if that doesn’t work, I come crawling to my mother for some good ol’ Western medicine. Of course, I could have tried reconfiguring my diet — eliminating coffee, alcohol, yeast; introducing more antioxidants, lycopene and whatnot — but to be honest, I’d rather have rashy eyes and a glass of shiraz in my hands than a flawless complexion and nothing but water after an eight-hour day of work.

So my mom gave me some Cortate cream she had lying around the bathroom. Actually, it was lying around my sister’s bathroom, because she apparently applies this stuff liberally for no medicinal reason other than it gives off a nice “glow” (if you’ve read my book, you’ll know this is par for the course in terms of her logic … and, actually, it does leave a healthy-looking sheen, regardless of how fake it may be).

Now, although cortisone can be kind of sketchy in high doses, this stuff was only 0.5%, so I figured a few short-term applications of it wouldn’t kill me. And the result: It worked! Well, sort of.

It worked temporarily — I applied it at night and the next morning my skin looked great; even washing and towel-drying my face didn’t seem to hamper its efficacy. But the problem was, as soon as I tried to wean myself off the cortisone, the rash came back within days. Now, technically, I could keep using this cream on a daily basis for the rest of my life, but my gut kept saying, “Your eyes were fine six months ago and they didn’t require any drugs!” This was driving me crazy.

The funny thing was, every time I complained about this rash and went about applying yet another new oil or ointment, Jacob would say, “Why don’t you just leave it alone? If you didn’t put anything under your eyes before, why are you doing all of this now?”

He had a point, but I was sure that if I went to bed at night with rashy under-eyes and didn’t do anything about it, I’d wake up the next morning looking as though I’d contracted some horrible disease.

But the other day, out of exasperation, I decided to give it a shot. I had no plans to go out the following morning and, even if that changed, I had some concealer that would at least hide the redness.

Well, guess what? The boy was right. My eyes felt a little dry, but otherwise looked fine other than a few spots. Another few days of this, and they’re practically back to normal. See for yourself:


(This is right after I woke up, so I don’t have any makeup on and look kinda tired, but still — no rash!)

Moral of the story: Our bodies don’t NEED lotions, potions, creams and exfoliants. Sure, applying some type of oil every now and then (especially in the winter) helps against dryness, as does drinking plenty of water; and of course, if you have psoriasis or eczema, that will probably require some treatment, whether drug-based, food-based or both. But on the whole, it’s always better to opt for a minimalist hygiene routine — this benefits both yourself and the environment.