OUR SKIN: HOW I HELPED MY SCARRING
Skin conditions aren't always just visible on the surface; many of us feel frustrated and deflated on the inside when experiencing a flare up, too. So, let's give a warm welcome to Our Skin Series, where members of our Tropic team who have truly been there (and got the proverbial T-shirt) talk to me about their relationship with their skin, and what has helped it stay happy and healthy over the years!
From eczema as a tiny tot to teenaged acne and scaliness in our senior years, our skin is constantly shifting and reshaping, much like our relationship with it. Where a single spot at school may warrant wild heights of humiliation, as we mature, we often gain a greater understanding of our skin as a signal of what’s going on underneath, affording us a more respectful relationship with our body’s best protection.
However, it’s not always plain sailing, and some of us have no choice but to pay a little more attention to what’s going on up top. Skin conditions can work against the waves of our skin’s changing tides, creating a current of stress and frustration for those experiencing them. So, we thought we’d talk to a few members of HQ about their experiences with dermal conditions who are keen to help others in the same boat.
LYDIA HAYMAN, BRAND CONTENT WRITER
Please can you tell me a little about your skin condition?
Just before the pandemic started, I had jaw surgery to fix an overbite that had made me feel insecure my entire life. Long story short, it went wrong. My teeth were left perfectly aligned, but after a week, I began to feel a hot, burning agony on my left jawline. This turned into an open wound and I was left in chronic pain, barely able to move my head or neck for a year.
The surgeons were perplexed. They sent me off for X-rays, MRIs and biopsies that presented no cause. As they poked and prodded, I began to think there was something wrong with me. I got lost in a web of WebMD articles, changed my diet and started taking hundreds of vitamins. Insecure about the angry red wound on my face, I hid myself away for months, stopped answering FaceTime calls and panicked that I would never heal. Then came a cocktail of antibiotics, six localised procedures, eight stitches and two further operations under anaesthetic to try and fix me.
After a year of pain and procedures, the surgeons finally discovered that the metal screws they placed during the original surgery had been loose the entire time. They removed all six under anaesthetic (the best day of my life!) and I’ve been healing ever since.
Today, the only physical sign of trauma is a lumpy, red hypertrophic scar on my jawline. Over time it has become smaller and paler in colour. But the scar is still a sensitive area for me. A site of strange disconnection I am slowly reconnecting with and learning to love.
What did you previously use on your skin to alleviate your symptoms?
When I was going through all these procedures, I was unable to wash my face properly. The pain radiated over the entire left side of my face, so I would just rub a cold flannel over the right side to feel some refreshing sensation! Even when the stitches healed and the scar had formed, I avoided the area when washing my face. Most products made the delicate skin sting or itch anyway, so I ended up just ignoring skincare all together. This obviously brought new problems, like spots and blackheads around my chin and even on my neck.
How did your skin condition make you feel?
I felt really disconnected to my body. I felt like I couldn’t trust my skin. I feared that by using the wrong product, or by touching the scar I would disrupt the healing and bring all the pain back. And I still feel a little insecure when meeting new people. I sometimes feel their eyes crawling over my face and I feel like I need to burst out with an explanation. When I tell people the story, sometimes they respond by saying, “oh that’s what it is!” Which makes me feel horrible! But other times they say, “I didn’t even notice!” which makes me feel much more comfortable in my skin.
What products eventually worked for you?
I have slowly been reconnecting with skincare – thanks to my little pot of green gold, Tamanu Balm. I won’t pretend that it has been easy. At first, I felt uncomfortable and a bit panicky touching the scar. But giving some love and nourishment to a place that has been so damaged, neglected and tied up with trauma has been truly empowering.
Tamanu Balm glides on really smoothly. There’s no pulling or friction, and I can do a very gentle self-massage, which my surgeon says will help diminish redness and lumpiness! I like using Super Greens for this too. It feels so luxurious and it’s great to know I am feeding my scar with extra vitamins and skin-protective nutrients.
I’m now brave enough to include the scar area in my cleansing and moisturising routine too, using unscented Smoothing Cleanser and Skin Feast. They’re both so gentle, leaving me with zero irritation and keeping the dreaded blackheads at bay.
Finally, I’ve hit a major turning point in my scar journey – experimenting with concealer! I really don’t feel the need to cover my scar most days, but it’s nice to layer on some extra confidence when I’m meeting new people, going on dates or if I know there will be photo opportunities. I originally went to a makeup counter to get some advice, but I found that the beauty advisors didn’t really understand the delicate skin and I ended up with huge anxiety about using a chemical product that might cause irritation.
So my heart literally fluttered with excitement when I read that Tropic’s Undercover Cream Concealer contains vitamin E, a famous scar healer! With a foundation of natural minerals, it’s so creamy and smooths very gently over the blemish. It’s a great confidence booster that helps me lift my head high.
If you could give one piece of advice to someone who is feeling self-conscious of their scarring now, what would it be?
I would say learn about the skin’s healing process. It’s actually incredible how scars form and how our skin adapts to wounds. Let’s wear them with pride!
Of course, coming to terms with scarring isn’t plain sailing, as scars are so often tied up with trauma. So be gentle with yourself, thank your body (it’s always trying its best) and when you’re ready, find a nourishing, self-loving skincare routine that features tamanu and vitamin E. And if that’s not enough to give you confidence, a little natural makeup goes a long way!
Please note that all information provided in this article comes from one individual tackling their personal skin ups and downs. Any results from products used or lifestyle changes are unique to their own skin's reactions and might not work for everyone. If you are experiencing a skin condition, please speak to a doctor or dermatologist before using any product on your skin.