Over the last year, I have intermittently had a skin rash on my face called “perioral dermatitis”. And even though you’d call it “slight”, it was on red, sometimes bumpy… and on my face, so it didn’t FEEL slight. There is no obvious cause – besides stress and being a woman age 15-45. But I sure tried everything I could to cure it – steroid creams, other prescription creams, probiotics, a gluten free diet, no sugar, SLS (Sodium Laureth Sulfate) free products, multiple trips to the doctor, and nothing helped.
Desperate, I turned to my esthetician (facialist) – who is not a doctor but IS a kind of magician — and she said, “you need to go on ‘walk about’.”
I knew the term from my time in Australia as an exchange student, but I had no idea how that connected to my persistent rash.
She explained “walk about is when you go for a month without washing your face or wearing any products – including and especially makeup. Like you are living in the Bush. You need to leave that skin alone and let it resolve itself.”.
“But I’m not living in the Bush!” I protested. I live in a city and have a job that includes facilitating large groups of people, and one on one coaching meetings. I couldn’t possibly wear NO MAKEUP! In my 20s, sure. In my 40’s, no way!
But I was desperate to get the face I know and love back. And if that meant NOT washing my face, and wearing no products for a month, then so be it.
So, I decided to go “walk about” and here is what I learned from the experience.
(That included no face wash, no lotions, no serums, no masks, no makeup & only mineral based sunscreen. Full transparency: I did wear EYE makeup upon occasion, feeling like the rash wasn’t going to be impacted since it wasn’t around my eyes! And I only used water on my face when I couldn’t avoid it – like the shower.)
The First 4 days were hard. Like really fucking difficult.
You can still remember what a face of makeup looks like, and what that creamy lotion FEELS like. And you miss it.
But then something magical happened.
My skin did not dry up and crack off like imagined. I mean, all those years of using million-dollar lotions. Did I even need them?
Who else gets acne during their period, as a 40 something woman? Well, I do! Every damn month I get the pleasure of wrinkles AND zits. But not this month. My face was gloriously clear of any acne. Probably b/c I had no greasy products clogging my pores!
With the contrast of a carefully made-up face way in the distant past (you know, a week or two), our minds are incredibly adept at adjusting. Suddenly, without the contrast, I simply felt like my face looked fine. Normal. Maybe even attractive? Maybe I was lovable just the way I was?
Although, I don’t think it was a coincidence that I bought an iPhone X during this time. Portrait mode sure makes a (makeup free) face look really good. And thank god for filters.
What else did I notice?
I suddenly had more of what I needed – time and money. Washing your face and applying makeup takes precious minutes of your day. And those high-end products (promising smoother skin) cost an arm and a leg.
The best part: my perioral dermatitis has mostly cleared up.
The lesson here: sometimes instead of trying to “cure” or “control”, we must simply stop. We must do nothing. We must allow the universe (or your own intuitive body) to do its thing.
Apparently, the universe is going to keep offering up this lesson until I finally learn.
PS: I’m back to washing my face after a month, but only with Osmia Organics – Black Clay Facial Soap, 2.25 oz