Of all the not-so-random acts of kindness I have incorporated into my daily wellness routine, caring for my skin is one of the most meaningful to me. Having lived through the pain and anguish of both palmar-plantar and scalp psoriasis, each day I wake up with clear skin, I give thanks for its remarkable resilience and current state of glorious remission.
I give thanks that my skin is clear, but also because my skin has been my constant companion, giving so generously and asking for so little in return for its herculean epidermal efforts. It has been with me through sunburns and surgeries and skinned knees. Through acne and oven burns and jellyfish stings. It is my blessed barrier, my miraculous membrane, the precious canvas of my humanity stretched over the skeletal drum of my worldly frame. It resonates and reflects my inner space and health. Always a protector and sometimes a curse -- like so very many things we hold dear.
It was with me in the womb, developing quietly as I inherited the mutated genes that cause my psoriasis, and it is with me today as the miniature mazes of my fingerprints tap out another psoriasis story. It willingly expanded to accommodate my palatial pear shape and has gracefully contracted again as I shed the weight of a lifetime. Silently retrofitting, continuously regenerating, and turning itself over again and again to slough away the old and make way for the new. It is my largest organ and the most visible physical expression of my essence on this earth. It deserves my love and attention. It hasn’t always gotten it.
Recovery and Renewal
Taking better care of my skin is a deeply intimate act of self-compassion. It has become an antidote to the shame of living with both psoriasis and obesity -- a double whammy of deprecation and blistering belly blows to my self-esteem. Feeling hideous and huge for much of my life, I never wanted to see myself and never wanted anyone to see me. I just wanted to disappear, and in many ways, I did. Learning to take good care of my skin has helped me surrender to the naked vulnerability of seeing and appreciating my body for its extraordinary functions. It is a way for me to offer tenderness and acceptance to myself. It is a way to say thank you for always being there, even when you were hurting, and I was unkind and neglectful. It is a way to forgive myself, love myself, and honor the miracle of recovery and renewal.
Back to Basics
Simplicity and consistency are key to my skin care, followed closely by gratitude and reverence. To me this means slowly and mindfully cleansing and moisturizing each morning and each evening, wearing sunscreen, and committing to regular skin checks. Over the last several years, I have dedicated myself to restoring and improving my overall health, and my skin is no exception. I spent many years compensating for my lack of inner peace by ravenously pursuing the props of outer beauty -- manis, pedis, waxes, highlights, lowlights, foundations, cover-ups, powders, polishes, fixers, elixirs, and topical steroids. I couldn’t breathe and neither could my skin.
As Within, So Without
To honor my skin and its natural resilience, I need to give it some downtime. I’ve ditched the hair dye, nail polish, heavy makeup, and perfumes to encourage a reset and simply feel free to be me through and through. I’ve learned that when I’m feeling well inside, a little lip balm and lotion go a long way on the outside. The side effects of improved nutrition, hydration, exercise, stress reduction, and sleep are as clear as the skin on my face ... and hands and feet and scalp. Each healthy choice translates to less inflammation, fewer triggers and flares, longer periods of remission, and, at long last, starting to feel more comfortable in my own beautiful skin.
Photo Credit: Aphiwat Chuangchoem / EyeEm via Getty Images
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