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29 July 2016 @ 03:34 pm
Skin care & make-up experiment: from zero to daily beast  
What happens when someone who has virtually no skin care routine and wears no make-up starts following a daily (Japan-inspired) routine and experiments with make-up? I aim to find out! Booyah!

I haven't had clear skin since I was twelve. That's when I first started having acne and my skin became quite oily. Since then, in addition to some acne scars and all the impurities that come with having an untended oily skin, my cheeks have also become quite red - the reason is unknown to me. Every now and then, especially in my teens, I have tried some products - lazily - to improve my skin, but the results have been so disappointing, or the products so slow to make an impact, that eventually I've always just given up. Sometimes my skin has felt better after using some product, but it hasn't looked better, so my somewhat silly response has been "what's the point?"

Even if I haven't been using make-up much recently, for years I've had a strange fascination with it and the techniques of applying make-up. I perceive it as a creative outlet, very much like painting one's face. Particularly certain East Asian styles have been attractive to me and for a Western point of view, Lisa Eldridge's YouTube channel is lovely. However, you could probably say that the reason why I've given up on make-up to such a big extent is that in theory, I have a decent idea of what you need to make it last and look good, but since I don't have those products and buying them has seemed like a possibly unnecessary investment, it has also lead to a situation of "what's the point?" As in, if you can't do it well, why do it at all?

A good consequence from this has been that I have become completely comfortable with leaving the house bare-faced. (This was not the case when I was younger.) Even when I go out to meet people, I'm typically wearing no make-up. I've found that the world will keep spinning even if my face is a little red and nobody will treat me worse or respect me less for it (that I know of). (Of course I'm privileged in many ways in life that makes this possible.) From that point of view, I feel that going bare-faced for a long time has been a good experience. And actually, it might mean that this is the best possible time for me to do an appearance related experiment like this. I'm not doing it because I have an obsessive need to become prettier or a goal to become "hot" - I'm simply doing it because I can and because it might be fun and because the preparation part has been inspiring. I'm not looking to impress anyone; I'm looking to have an enjoyable time. And I think this is why a lot of people, in the end, wear make-up and enjoy wearing make-up. It can't really be denied that make-up at its core is a result of a patriarchal society that places extra pressure on women to invest in their appearance. At the same time, however, I think make-up has got to a point where women can "retake it" for themselves and interpret it as a way to pamper themselves or express their individuality - and this is why there are some men actually complaining about women "wearing too much make-up". Its only purpose is not to please men, but it also provides a means for women (or men, or anyone) to do what they want. There's still too much pressure for women to wear make-up for certain jobs, for instance, but when it's a choice, it can have a liberating rather than enslaving impact.

Now back to the topic - what am I doing and why am I doing it that way?

I'm flying over to Tokyo soon (only for five days) and while thinking of things I could buy from Japan that "you can't get anywhere else", I remembered the tales of Japanese drug store make-up and skin care products that are affordable, very available, and high quality despite the low price. This is because the competition in Japan (in Korea, as well) for beauty products is incredibly high. While make-up over there is quite important, skin care is valued over it: if you have good skin, you won't need as much make-up. This way of thinking is spread, I believe, all over East Asia, and results in the demand for quality products also at affordable prices that makes it possible for a beauty product haven to become reality. Inspired by all this, I started googling for products that are recommended online and ended up realizing that this might be the perfect opportunity for me to give my skin another chance. Yes, I will still have to sacrifice money to buy products for an intensive routine, and space in my suitcase, but it won't feel as bad if I'm buying products that cost as little as 5 - 15 euros a piece instead of 25 - 40 euros, for instance. Currently I'm most bummed that I won't be starting the experiment right then and there in Japan for two rather good reasons: first, to not have to worry about the packages re-opening inside the suitcase, and second, because weather there is so different that my skin would react differently to products there in comparison to at home, anyway.

The plan is to follow a Japanese skin care routine to the extent that I can. This is generally what a Japanese skin care routine looks like (google offers more details):

1. Oil-based cleansing (for make-up removal)
2. Foamy face wash
3. Toner
4. Serum (for specialized care, e.g. anti-aging, acne, etc.)
5. Lotion, 'cream' or 'milk' (moisturizing)
6. Sun screen (in the morning)

At night, sheet masks can be added (before applying the serum); at the moment I'm not crazy about the idea of using sheet masks because if I started using them, I'd need them available regularly and so just buying a few from Japan won't cut it. It won't be a full routine then, which irks me a little, but I guess we'll see what happens. Maybe I'll try and see if there are some local face masks I could use.

In addition to these, I'm also interested in exfoliating twice a week; this happens after face wash.

As for the make-up, I'm going to go especially for products that allow make-up to stay still on oily skin, and anything 'mattifying'. I've quit wearing eye shadow, for instance, because my lids have been too oily and the primer I've tried before was no use (Lumene, I believe). But I've now done research on primers that should be better, both for eyes and the T-zone. Aside from that, I'll be looking for just some cheap basic items from Japan, like mascara, lip gloss, maybe some blush, so that I can have fun experimenting without feeling like I'm throwing away all my money. Since make-up is largely focused on in the West, I think that if I get into it more, I won't have trouble finding decent items here as well. It's just that it is somewhat convenient to get this stuff from Japan while I'm at it.

I was going to make a note of drinking more water, as well, but as it turns out I've had the flu from hell this past week and have been drinking water more than ever before, and this might continue in the future. Drinking water should be good for the skin, too, that is, when I'm not sick anymore.

So that is the plan so far. I'm planning on taking some 'before' pictures and if things go well, my skin will look a little improved some weeks after. I've never believed that the redness in my skin could go away or that the pores could look much less gross, so my expectations are not very high, but it would at least be nice if my skin felt smoother so that applying make-up is more fun, as if my face was truly a canvas instead of a bumpy road.

We will see what happens, I suppose, but I'm looking forward to this!!