UNFILTERED : HOW TO DEAL WITH ANXIETY&SKINCARE IN YOUR 20’S

“The sooner you accept you are imperfect, I promise you half the battle is won.”

I, for one, cannot stress on how important it is to sometimes take that photo without a filter or a special cam and accept however you see yourself. If your perception about yourself isn’t a positive one, no amount of filter or camera can change that for you. So you have to accept all the blemishes, pigmentations, dark circles and puffiness and find beauty in your character and strength. I hope you get that conviction.

When I was 17, I was going through so many medications because of my acne and it used to hamper my self-esteem. At the cusp of being a teenager and an adult, there are dynamic changes we go through. We tend to be so warped up in this transition that we often forget to address our internalisations and don’t let ourselves ease into it.

How can we? We are in such a frenzy to grow up! 🙆🏽

I blindly did what my skin doctor would suggest : chemical peels ✅, steroid medicines ✅, anything and everything, ✅. The chemical peels were the worst, they not only had an adverse reaction to my skin but also damaged my complexion. Yet, pumping up on vanity and feeling like I own my skin, I kept feeding it every kind of junk possible. ❌

Until one day and many products promising various benefits later, it dawned to me : what we consume reflects greatly on our skin too. The amount of sleep we get, our lifestyle, our eating habits and a whole lot of things collectively contributes to our external reflection.

I start my day with a glass of water soaked in fenugreek seeds overnight. Fenugreek has multiple health benefits, even in terms of detox, weight loss, skin and hair. During the summer days especially, drinking water soaked in basil seeds also helps with your detox, cools your core body temperature and keeps your skin healthy. 🍒

Our mental health plays a huge factor as well. I had undiagnosed anxiety for the longest time, I didn’t even know that is what anxiety looked like. I had it all through my college years and I dealt with it just like every young adult out there deals with stress : you shut up and don’t talk about it. And these repressed feelings and sentiments often manifest externally on our skin. During such times, my solace was a very basic skin clearing face wash – The Himalaya Herbals Purifying Face Wash. I used to alter between the Neutrogena Acne Clearing Face Wash too. These two were my biggest skin saviours.

Believe me when I say, your mental health manifests as clear signs on your skin sometimes. Your eating habits too! Gorge on fruits rich in antioxidants that help your skin, hair and boosts mental health! Load up on ripe papayas, kiwi, musk melon, pears and apples, these fruits help to keep your skin clean. Have watermelon and any kind of fruit that is loaded with water for hydration. 🍎🍑🥝🍉

Over the years I have been able to put down some of my personal remedies while dealing with anxiety. Any attack of anxiety or panic requires your 5 senses to be grounded – giving you the reality of time and the moment and breaking you away from illusion. Below are the 5 senses step for anxiety relief that I employ:

Step 1- Hear something – find that music on your phone or the laptop which helps you calm your nerve. The idea is to activate your hearing sense. This song has proven to reduce anxiety. 🎼

Step 2- Smell. Take small controlled breath of air or a deodorant. Repeat inhalation and exhalation. Keep a source of a smell like a deodorant or perfume constant. DON’T switch too much while you are activating this sense. Try my favourite perfume! 🍭

Step 3- Touch. Your skin is the largest organ in your body and the calming stimulus registers quickly. Pick up a guitar if you have at home and play it. Or use a makeup product to apply to your skin. Don’t pinch or hurt yourself. You have gotta be calm about the process. Or play it online here! 🎻

Step 4- Sight. Watch something. Anything. Favourite actor, favourite band, conspiracy theories, unicorn farting rainbows, the cover of a book. Activating your sense of sight is the key. Watching the series Friends has proven to reduce anxiety and depression. 🦄

Step 5- Taste. This is actually one of the strongest methods for relieving anxiety and few people integrate this. Chew a gum. Pop a mint. Eventually when you are more in control brew some Chamomile tea or Green tea. It REALLY helps in calming your nerves, I kid you not. My favourite tea is from Fortnum & Mason! ☕️

I have developed a very minimal skin care routine that works wonders for many reasons. The milder your face wash, more better the results. A Tea tree oil or any anti-bacterial face wash works well too – keeping in mind the Indian climate and skin, it shouldn’t dry out your skin too much. I almost never forget to tone using an aloe vera and rose water toner.

Moisturisation is the skin food and if you have sensitive skin and want to keep it healthy, use a cream that is filled with goodness of Vitamin E and Aloe Vera. Remember the Holy Grail for skin – CTM (Cleanse, Tone, Moisturise). 🍯

Recently, I have started to use an ice pack for 2-3 minutes daily on my skin. Ice packs do really help in tackling pimples, regulates blood circulation, cools your skin and tightens your pores, hence all the toner and moisture is absorbed right into your skin. ❄️ ❄️ A Korean and essentially cheap beauty regime that’s gaining popularity these days!

At night, it is so essential to repeat the CTM. I use the Body Shop Vitamin E night cream and the Vitamin E under eye cream at night.

These days, I love that I have picked up my reading habit again. So while the rest of the people may be partying it up in a club, I enjoy a good book or a documentary series at home on a Friday night. Topping it with some music, going off the grid and masking! I use the L’Oreal Pure Clay Mask Detoxify that is EVERYTHING.

It’s charcoal clay formula helps soak up the negative ions from the depths of my skin and leaves it soft and glowing. Sometimes on Friday nights, I love pulling up a sheet mask from TonyMoly, like the Tea tree or the Avocado one! Have you tried them? They are like mini parties for your skin! It is literally the kind of parties I enjoy off late, masking away in peace, no human conversations please.

I stopped with any kind of skin treatments over the years, and learnt to be more in control and recognise the importance of mental health. I have seen how it has reflected on my skin too! Simultaneously, every four months I do drop in for a skin consultation with my Dermatologist and my Therapist just to keep things in track, even if nothing is wrong.

On an ending note after that rather long blog post this time : I just want to say that its so important to recognise that we need to balance our health overall! Our mental state of mind can make a huge difference in our appearance but by being educated about it and in participating in conversations, we can try to make it easy! Looking and feeling good are so co-related and should be an inside out process!

I hope this helps you guys and if you know someone who are troubled by anxiety and need help from time to time, or have low self-esteem tied up to their skin, do share this post! And get them some help here.

XOXO,

Adhisa Ghosh

Photography – Mejuljeet Singh

Assistant Styling – Vaishali Pandey

THE PERFECT ANGLE?

Spilling the hot cup of coffee on my hand in the morning whilst being unmindful, thinking again how I would begin this blog post, as Sufjan Stevens- Casimir Pulaski Day played on my laptop piercing the morning gloominess of a cloudy day —

“In the morning, in the winter shade, On the first of March on the holiday, I thought I saw you breathing,”

I muttered a curse while I let some cold water take care of my hand and started the burner for another cup of coffee.

This fifteen minutes in the day, in the morning when everything is quiet and my room is also echoing a certain silence yet waking up with me, with the rhythm of the spoons scraping coffee or the sound of the milk boiling over, these few minutes are when I completely zone out.

I love how living alone has had so many perks of late, especially when it comes to reflecting life choices and relations, and of course taking time to think about the work that one has been doing. I had decided quite some time back to do a post on my skin care routine and the kind of insecurities I have faced over the years, since my teen years and into adulthood.

The morning routine that i do is very essential to my skin care as well because I literally begin my day with a tall glass of water. No lime or honey or any such additives. A simple glass of water even before freshening up. Its something my Mom taught me while I was a kid and I find water to be a very indispensable part of my mornings. For almost three years I had also taken to drinking the water soaked in Methi seeds overnight in empty stomach, works wonders!

SKIN HISTORY

Now before I jump to what my daily skin care is I would like to point out that I have always had a combination skin prone to sensitivity. I had a very clear skin till about 14 years after which obviously I started getting breakouts on my forehead. Since then, for ten years I have had a dermatologist who has treated me every time I had breakouts. Some years were good and some years were really bad. Thankfully I never had any scarring or too many blemishes as I have always taken medication before the acne got worse and my breakouts were not rapid or concentrated.

My biggest mistake would be to have done chemical peels in a desperate attempt to get a clear skin. I would not suggest anyone who wants to do that because it comes with side effects more than often, leaving your skin scarred and dry. 

When I changed my dermatologist while pursuing graduation, I went for chemical peels and the doctor used to pierce my pimples and then use the peel. I was young and thinking that recovery doesn’t happen without some pain, I was gullible enough to continue this when I realised that its actually a convenient method to have the patient come in repetitively. 

There is no guarantee that your breakouts will stop, they may reduce but you will always keep getting recurring pimples, also your skin would dry out way too much and now you would have to deal with dryness as well as scarring. Trust me when I say this that its a horrible experience when you are 20/21 and you want to dress up and put makeup etc. Now, again not all days were bad, but especially during menstruation cycle, stress and anxiety, I used to always inevitably have breakouts and the pattern would continue. It made me very very sad. 

It was only when I was around 22, I was also battling depression and needless to say I was too tired to pay attention to my skin. I had given up. That’s when my parents took me to a family skin doctor who gave me much assurance and condemned picking or touching pimples ever. 

Along with oral medications and some topical creams, gentle face wash that doesn’t dry the skin and lifestyle changes, it took me almost a year to see good results and some consistency. Incorporating lots of fruits and vegetables, along with proper meal timings, exercise, lots of water (almost 3 litres a day) to drain toxins, and regular sleep patterns also contributed to good skin.

 I stopped any kind of commercial skin care products and completely stopped any parlour facials etc. You just have to let your skin recover, adapt and heal while you are going through all this change, especially when you are in a disturbed state of mind and this is very very important. More often than not, the key to good skin is mental happiness. We keep undermining our mental health so much that we don’t realise how what we eat and how we feel can start dramatically reflecting off your face. 

When I moved to Istanbul I stopped the medications but after three months, I had a rash because of some food item and I had to consult a skin doctor again and I was on oral treatment for the rash as well as acne once again. The doctor explained how after 24 years i would automatically stop getting acne, but at that time, because of the rash I had developed some acne and was put on treatment immediately, a course that would go on for six months. 

Needless to say, the combination of my family skin doctor and the Istanbul doctor literally fixed my skin. However, I still of course have many insecurities.

MY DAILY SKIN CARE ROUTINE

Those who skim through my insta stories off late will always find me without make up on my face. Before however, i wouldn’t even think of posting a selfie without at least some amount of concealer. 

Since the time my skin has been healing and there used to be a bit of dryness due to my oral medicines and winter season in Istanbul, my doctor had told me to use only olive oil. Olive oil is high in naturally occurring Vitamin E, extremely healthy for lips, skin and hair too!

In the mornings when I wake up, I wash my face with lukewarm water. This is important to note that NEVER wash your face with soap the first thing in the morning. It causes your pores to produce more oil and if you already have breakouts, they can get worse. Simply wash your face with water and drink a glass of water. Avoid any product and let your skin be bare for the first one hour minimum! 

After that I generally do my basic workouts at home and work up a sweat. This helps to clear your pores, the more you sweat, the more your face gets rid of toxins. After that jump into the shower and use a gentle face wash, followed with a mineral or rose toner and a soft hydrating cream. On some days if I feel my skin is too dry, like during winters, I replace the moisturiser with olive oil, just three drops for my skin and lips. 

I have been avoiding heavy make up since a year now and completely prefer to let my skin breathe. If I have to put make up I do it by getting a good compact base that is loose and a bit of concealer, thus letting my skin breathe. I may use foundation once or twice a month but it is that rare. When you have a clear skin at some point, you stop caring about covering up so much and I like it to be natural. Even the make up below does not involve foundation base but a loose compact base!

My bedtime skin routine is a bit different. I use a Sulphur soap to wash my face, exfoliate with the same soap and a massager once a week to improve circulation and erase fine lines, and I never forget to use a charcoal detox mask by L’Oreal skin once in two weeks. The charcoal mask literally dries your skin of all the impurities and I wouldn’t recommend using it too much as it might get your skin dried out. 

After that, toner and a Vitamin E Body Shop night cream for my face – literally the holy grail for skin care.

THINGS TO NOTE 

This is my skin care routine completely based on my skin type and skin history. For me to share is to make you understand what may suit my skin may not absolutely suit you! I think its very very important to never ignore teenage breakouts or even adult acne. Acne is not always red or in high concentration, they can also be like small rashes. It is extremely important to have a dermatologist look into it for you. Never ever blindly follow beauty products or over the counter drugs without getting a skin analysis. The only way to clear skin – trust me- is by first making an appointment with a dermatologist ! Also, if the dermat suggests a chemical peel, find another dermat now that you know!

Olive oil and water is everything as skin food, so are some fruits and leafy veggies. 

Please do not use too much make up products on breakouts or scarring  tissues. They aggravate your skin more. 

SKIN INSECURITIES

I still have so many skin insecurities though! Yes, my acne stopped and I got rid of previous dark circles, even my hair scalp stopped being oily but still there are these small things that make me feel so imperfect or used to for a long time while i was growing up.

 I have these small spots (people call it beauty spots these days) but for me they will always be small black spots. There is one on my nose between my eyes, one near my forehead, two on my left upper cheek and one on my left upper lip. I used to be very conscious of these and could never cover the spots with makeup, but off late I have started embracing these small details and imperfections. 

I remember when I was a kid and kids are mean back in school, girls would sometimes make fun of my fat lips or the spots and I used to cringe sometimes, they would even make fun of my cheeks! It was 12 or 13 years later at the age of 25 that I feel perfection in my flaws and marks. 

I realise now how even the small spots on my face, or the red patches on my cheek, my fat lips that now people ask me if I have used fillers for (like come on!) and when I wash my face and slap on moisturiser and my skin turns red because it is that sensitive, are only proofs and testament to all the years and generations of history that rests on my face, of ancestors and culture that journeyed through billions of years to one day have me in existence, feeling nothing but perfect in my flawed imperfection.

What is perfect anyway? The perfect angle to a photo? To a selfie or to using the app to smooth my skin before? Or the lines that run on my forehead or a spot or two? Or is it when I wanted some boy to find me pretty and I decided that my left profile is better than my right? How do we embrace these silly notions of perfection when the absolute reality is that generations and generations have died and lived to merge and form history on your face, on my face.

Its time we embrace every marks and spots, because somewhere our roots live in them, so shall we?

All pictures in this series are unedited, not touched up and raw.

If you wish to speak to me more on this or share your own story of insecurities – any for that matter – feel free to mail me at thewildberrychild@gmail.com or contact me on my Instagram.

XOXO,

Written by,

Adhisa Ghosh