I Caked My Bad Skin with Makeup, Until I Faced my Fears & Tried the Caveman Regimen Instead. ~ Demetra Szatkowski

Via Demetra Szatkowskion Dec 2, 2013

Photo: Aby Bornation

I am terrified to write this.

Actually, let me rephrase: I am terrified to write down my deepest insecurities on virtual paper and then present them to the world.

Everyone has things they don’t like about themselves; this isn’t news. But how often do we hear people tell us their flaws in a loving, accepting way? Pretty much never. I think that’s because even when someone has accepted their flaws, they still don’t really want to shout them out to the public. It might make them feel not good enough.

We have fear to blame for that feeling. Fear of vulnerability, fear that people won’t like us if they really know us, fear that we’re not acceptable just the way we are.

Fear that we don’t belong.

This is bullshit. I think this fear we all have is completely made up inside of our heads, and I don’t think it belongs there. And so it is with this in mind, that I share my fears.

Until recently, I was insecure about my skin. I started getting acne when I was 12 years old. My first pimple was the worst thing that ever happened to me, and I immediately ran to my mom’s makeup to cover it up. It gradually got worse, so I started wearing more makeup.

By the time I entered high school, I had awful, cystic acne covering my entire face. Foundation plus cover-up plus powder was my every day necessity. I played sports and sweating made me feel awful because my mask would run and come off.

People would see what I really looked like.

It wasn’t like it was only in my head, either. I was generally well-liked, but that didn’t stop people from feeling the need to comment on my skin. I vividly remember some boys making fun of me for wearing so much makeup, and even more vividly remember a comment describing my face as having warts all over it. I would pinch myself to try to keep from crying, and I would have to run to the bathroom when tears filled my eyes.

I am still angry when I remember this, but I am working on forgiving it.

I was the girl who would go to summer camp and bring her foundation into the shower. I was deathly afraid of anyone seeing me without my makeup on. Whenever I went back to my room, I would touch up my face. My life subconsciously revolved around my skin, even though I didn’t fully realize it.

I finally saw a dermatologist who gave me pills and creams galore to fix my problem. It worked well enough for me to be utterly devastated when it suddenly stopped working. I was also sick of taking medicine every single day. My acne came back with a vengeance, as if it was angry at me for getting rid of it in the first place.

My skin was the reason I first started eating healthy, and my dieting habits got worse and worse. I cut out every food imaginable, and it quickly turned from being about my skin to being about my entire body being unhealthy. However, I wasn’t unhealthy—I just thought I was.

The funny thing was, the more foods I eliminated, the worse my skin got. Weird rashes would come and go. I was tired and had headaches all of the time—I was miserable. Through all of this, my skin stayed in its horrible condition.

Eventually, I realized I was giving myself an eating disorder, so I decided to stop. I went back to eating anything I wanted, whenever I wanted. It wasn’t easy, but I stuck with it.

Anything I desired went in my mouth, especially if I didn’t think I should have it. I gained a couple pounds, but I stayed relaxed. When my body realized I wasn’t hurting it anymore, everything balanced out. Ironically, my skin improved during this time.

A little while later, I did the same thing with makeup. I didn’t plan it, but one morning I really just woke up, went to the mirror to do my usual routine and realized I was actually just sick of it all. I was fed up with washing my face and putting on makeup to cover every little red spot. I was fed up with having to wear makeup to feel pretty. So I looked at myself… And for the first time in probably eight years, I didn’t put makeup on.

For those who don’t have bad skin, this probably seems a little ridiculous, but it was one of the hardest things I have ever done—maybe even the hardest.

I was scared all day.

I even brought my makeup with me, just in case I couldn’t do it. I don’t know what I thought would happen because it didn’t seem to be a logical feeling. I just felt awful. Every time someone looked at me, I expected them to focus on my skin.

And I also started to have strange thoughts come into my head—thoughts I didn’t know I even ever had. It was like my subconscious fears started to speak up, and I would think things like “Wait, people still like me even though I don’t look pretty,” and “People are being nice to me even though my skin is bad.”

The biggest thing, though? I felt free. I felt like I was finally being truly authentic with everyone in the world, even though they didn’t notice a difference. When a boy asked for my number, it was because he thought I was pretty, it wasn’t because my makeup was pretty. I could sweat, let it dry on my face and not shower.

Everything felt more real to me. And nobody noticed! It was amazing and frustrating at the same time. I felt like my entire world was changing, but no one could tell.

I actually stopped washing my face too, just preferring to be completely done with it. There’s an actual regimen people do called the caveman regimen, but I didn’t even think of it that way at first. I just wanted to be done. It was kind of weird at first, but it was a major stress reliever to not worry about my looks.

My skin went through some weird stages, but after a few weeks it surprisingly looked noticeably better. And now, almost 2 months later, it’s the best it’s been in a long, long time. I’m not even sure if it improved, or if my perspective of it just changed. I think it was a combination of both.

I’m not ashamed of it anymore.

The reason I’m embarrassed to post this is not because of the condition of my skin, but because I can’t believe I placed so much importance on it throughout my life. I hate makeup, too—I’m not one of those girls who loves putting it on and trying out new looks.

The only makeup that has touched my face in the past two months has been mascara, maybe once or twice. I hate putting it on, I hate taking it off, I hate the chemicals, and I hate the entire idea of it. The most interesting part to me is that it’s now hard for me to understand why other people wear it.

My perspective has completely changed.

I’m sharing this because I have discovered, firsthand, that facing our fears will allow us to conquer them. No matter how hard it is—and it will be terribly, excruciatingly hard—it is possible. It could be telling someone that we love them. It could be showing someone what we truly look like. It could be reading what we wrote in public.

It could be sharing our deepest secret. It could be anything, really, as long as it makes us feel painfully vulnerable. Vulnerability becomes addictive; once we realize its power, we will crave it again and again. Just as we are, we are special right now. Not later, not skinnier, not prettier, not better.

Now.

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Assistant Editor: Kerrie Shebiel/ Editor: Rachel Nussbaum

{Photo: Pixoto}

About Demetra Szatkowski

Demetra Szatkowski practices and teaches yoga, plays on aerial silks, talks to trees and listens to the universe.  She believes that love and happiness should be everyone’s first priority.  She is particularly interested in psychology and how thoughts and emotions affect the human body. You can contact her through Facebook or her website.

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24 Responses to “I Caked My Bad Skin with Makeup, Until I Faced my Fears & Tried the Caveman Regimen Instead. ~ Demetra Szatkowski”

  1. Ariane Gagnon says:

    This was an awesome article. I don't have acne but my skin is SUPER FAIR, my eyelashes and my eyebrows are blonde ( transparent, really), and I already had a schoolmate who asked my teacher, OUT LOUD (like I wasn't even there) If I was an albino. So I CANNOT leave my house without at least a little mascara and blush, because I'm sure everybody thinks I look deadly sick.

    I'm glad to see you made all this progress, and it makes me want to try it out.
    Thank you soooo much. <3

  2. bluelake says:

    I love this! I've also struggled with acne ever since I've been young and started wearing foundation at the age of 13. Obviously, this didn't make my skin much better… Then, a couple of years ago, I decided to stop. It was extremely hard because I was so self-conscious about it and thought people would find me unattractive but it turned out people liked me more because of it! Like you, I felt I was more authentic and could finally be myself. I'm glad you found the courage to write this because I do think this is something that needs to be addressed. To this day I feel proud when I see a person struggling with acne who is going through life without makeup. I myself know how hard that can be at the beginning!

  3. Kimberly Lo kimberlylowriter says:

    This was so brave of you. I struggled with terrible acne in my late teens and early 20s. Thank you for this piece.

  4. Chris says:

    I've struggled with acne my entire life. I, too, wear very little makeup now, and found that my face and my heart healed when I just let it all go. At first, my salvation came by way of hydrogen peroxide and 10% alpha hydroxy acid moisturizers that cleared all of the mess me and my diet and my makeup had caused. Then, I switched to all-natural: Branch Basics for my wash and coconut oil for my moisturizer and makeup remover (that mascara has to come off somehow!). I am now very happy with my skin. Besides sunblock, lipstick and mascara when I want, I'm good to go! It is freeing. And, it is something that perhaps only severe acne sufferers will truly understand. Good skin is achievable.

  5. Tara says:

    As I read through this I had to stop a few times and ask myself: "Did I write this and somehow forget?" It hits so close to home. I can not even begin to explain. Thank you for sharing!

  6. Gydle says:

    Great article. Putting your struggle and your fear out there for everyone to see takes real courage! Congratulations. I particularly like how you describe how not putting makeup on made you feel more authentic. And how surprised you were that other people didn't react to you any differently without the makeup than with it. I often think we are our own harshest critics. If we can just let go of these deep dark secrets and insecurities and just trust the world to accept us, how much more pleasant our days would be. I recently wrote a blog post that put my own struggles with body image out there for the first time — and it was very, very hard. But it's out there, and hopefully it will resonate with someone and help in some small way.

  7. myriamsofialluria says:

    Bravo!!

  8. Katie says:

    People who don't have acne do not understand what hell it can to leave your own house sometimes. Glad you got it all sorted out, you go girl!

  9. Tina says:

    I love your article, very brave! I've had horrible skin forever. Hormonal cystic acne cycles every month and many scars from it all that won't go away. I'm making baby steps though, I've worn a ton less make up than I had during my younger years and have stopped trying to obsess over it and fixing it, because that's just the way my body is and the millions of things I've done to try to 'fix it' have not worked. Natural ingredients have helped quite a bit as well as my working on making my own products using more pure less harsh chemicals and things I can buy at Sprouts. Hopefully one day I'll be brave enough to just go au naturale and not worry, so far I've gotten as far as a little eye liner and an all in one foundation/tinted moisturizer.

    • It is surprising how many people really just don't notice when you stop wearing it. It definitely takes courage.. But what I've found is that the fear we have really seems to be made up. You'll get there! :)

  10. Ali says:

    Thank you for your courage, Demetra! This really resonated with me.. as I went through the EXACT same thing. I struggled with cystic acne for 10 years, I am 23 now and have finally come to love myself and my flaws and realized they are actually lessons in disguise and we are all beautiful. I realized that all that I went through made me who I am today so I wouldn't change a thing, even though at the time I thought I was the unluckiest girl in the world. It truely taught me compassion, acceptance and love for myself and humanity. We are given our path for a reason I believe it with all my heart, our purpose is to find that reason and thrive on it. I wouldn't be the amazing person I know myself to be today if it had not been for this huge part of my life.

    So, Thank you.

  11. Ankie says:

    Thank you !

    Its about me, it was about me, it can be me

    The struggle, I am 46 now, still you can see a very little I had acne, but it can still make my day, even I look good, look younger or feel sexy…

    And with a lot of women around me…

    I hope you will be this strong !!

    Namaste

  12. Joyce says:

    Awesome article!! Great message!

  13. Jess says:

    I haven't been out of the house without concealer in 19 years, it's a crippling fear, I find little moments of boldness (like when I'm surfing) but then I run to the car to get fixed up… I feel you and I hope I will be able to face the fear someday, thanks for writing this <3

    • Oh, do I understand that feeling. And I still have moments! I have not completely conquered it, although I have still not put makeup on. All I can really say is to trust that you are okay without it. It is difficult, but is so worth it.

  14. Azane says:

    YOU GO GIRL truly inspiring!!!!

  15. mrskavs says:

    A quick tip if you really don't like mascara…..use a lash curler and a little Vaseline on an old clean mascara brush….great for unruly eyebrows too (and no raccoon eyes in a swimming pool or at hot yoga)

  16. dagi says:

    I have never had any real skin problems, as opposed to my sisters, who started a strict washing-cleansing-etc. regimen early on. I was a lazy ass, and simply didn’t see the necessity of washing my face every morning. I take a shower every 3-4 days (I do wash my arm pits and nether regions more often ;-) ) and that’s the only time my face gets in contact with water. I am 39 and have nearly no wrinkles and no pimples.

  17. Kaitlyn says:

    I'm just wondering. Were you all brave enough to not wear makeup even at work. That's where my real issues come up. For me the few times I've tried doing the no makeup thing, I did notice people looking at me differently. It was devastating. I already wear glasses and have frizzy curly hair as the only biracial person in a pretty racist community working at a tip-based job. I'm so worried of how going in without makeup will make me feel, how they'll look at me, how they'll treat me. I can't be so sure they'll be respectful. They already talk about people behind their backs. Maybe I just need a new job…

    • Hi Kaitlyn,

      Yes, I didn't wear makeup at all ever. At the time I wrote this article, I was in school and also working as a waitress- a place where I was sure my appearance got me better tips. As I discovered, that wasn't true at all.. I also found myself acting more genuine which I think made people like me more. I still do not wear any makeup, but have put it on a couple times on special occasions (new years, etc) and each time am reminded that I actually like myself better without it now- something I never, ever would have thought was possible. Good luck!!

  18. JeK says:

    loved this article. i used to be much more adamant about wearing makeup everyday, not leaving the house without it when i was younger. i got over that some time ago, but i have noticed myself wearing it more often again recently, or more of it when i do. not necessarily just to cover up the blemishes or scars of past breakouts, but to measure up to those wearing it around me. it can be hard to go out bare faced, and be surrounded by people dressed to the nines or having their face done up with makeup, when you are not. i have looked back at pictures taken during these types of situations and cringed at the fact that i was not looking my best, or as good as whoever i was standing next to. but the fact of the matter is, this comparison is not useful to me or anyone else. if the reason i am wearing makeup is to measure up to the people around me, then i'm not wearing it for the right reasons. although looking your 'best' can help boost your confidence for that day as you are making these comparisons, it will not boost confidence in the long run, for the thoughts and feelings you have about myself will remain the same. although i don't feel the need to completely get rid of it, checking my intentions when and why i feel the need to use it will definitely be happening. thanks for this realization, it will certainly affect the way i look at myself in the mirror each morning, and decide what to do next. affirmations in place of makeup, perhaps? :)

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