They say love makes you do crazy things, but I can assure you that for the sake of beauty, I have done crazier things! I will be the first to say it, I love beauty, skincare and anything even remotely related to self-care. It just makes me feel at peace with the universe but there definitely have been times where I took it too far. The beauty industry rakes in millions of dollars each year with people all in search for that one miracle product, and it is not hard to believe. Finding what works for you is trial by error and in my case, there have been a lot of errors.
Let’s get candid for a minute, shall we? Puberty was not kind to me. I had uncontrollable acne, severe hyperpigmentation and overall very textured and porous skin, which compared to the images being glorified in mainstream media at the time made me feel very insecure. The beauty standards back then were not very inclusive, and as a Nigerian girl with Afrocentric features, it was rare to see people who looked like me being praised in the media. This led me on a very embarrassing quest for what my twelve-year-old self believed to be “beauty”. Nothing was off bounds, if it promised to give my skin a little oomph, so I did what any pre-teen would do. I Asked Google! (Don’t judge me). Some hacks worked while some were horrific and all I can say is thank God I still have a face! For your entertainment, I am going to be sharing with you my top 5 beauty horror stories.
1. The Time I Burnt My Skin Using Toothpaste As A Moisturizer
I am cringing internally reminiscing on how burnt my skin was after a week of constantly using toothpaste as a night-time moisturizer. In secondary school, a classmate recommended using toothpaste as an acne treatment as it had allegedly worked for her and you know me, if it works, sign me up!
I would apply toothpaste all over my skin as an overnight treatment and wash it off in the morning. I never really examined my skin during the process but a week later my mum looked at my face and said “Why is your skin burnt?”. Fun fact: A cream saved my life as that was the only thing that could heal my skin. All I can say is never again!
2. The Time I Used Regular Conditioner As a leave-in Treatment For Braids
Around this time Youtube and beauty gurus started becoming a thing and I had recently discovered the natural hair community. Shout out to my Naturalistas! I was devoted to taking care of my newly transitioned 4c natural hair and growing it out. Therefore, any tip a YouTuber would recommend, I would jump on it. On my journey to healthier hair, I watched a video where a beauty guru used a conditioner as a leave-in treatment for her hair, little did I know that the product was formulated to work both ways. As you can tell by now, silly me decided to use my Treseme rinse-out conditioner as a leave-in conditioner for my hair right before I would get braids done and leave it in for a month. This went on for about 3 months and I am sure if it went on any longer my hair would have broken off. My thick hair became so brittle and dry, it was a miracle my hair did not fall out.
3. The Time I Shaved My Face Hours Before An Event
This is quite common and if you had been following the trend when it first popped up, you would know that shaving your face is a good form of exfoliation, but at your own risk! On this faithful day, I was getting ready for an important event and I wanted my skin to be silky smooth, so I decided to shave my face. Unfortunately, I did not have a face razor only a shaving stick, so I thought why not? I oiled up my skin and started to shave until I accidentally pressed too hard and literally cut my face so deep, I started bleeding intensely. The event was billed to start a few hours from when the accident occurred. I was not sure what to think or say at that moment, so I stood in front of the mirror laughing and crying at the same time.
4. The Time Over-cleansing Turned My Melanin to Chalk
I want to believe I am not the only one, who growing up was attracted to products with pretty colors and names. It made skincare fun and exciting. Unfortunately, a lot of the pretty packaged products at the time contained a lot of harsh ingredients that irritated and dried out my skin tremendously. For people who struggle with acne, as much as it is important to ensure you are cleansing your skin well, it is especially important not to overdo it. It is important to ensure the skin is properly moisturized as lack of moisture can irritate and dry out your skin, but I did not hear word. My dark skin literally started looking chalky and started flaking which is something I had never experienced as an oily skin girl. People kept pointing it out, but I could not figure out what was drying out my skin till I stopped using my cleanser at the time and voila, the flaking stopped.
5. The Time I Had Caterpillar Brows
I am sure everyone has had a bad brow phase and if you have not, please tread carefully when getting your eyebrows done, especially when doing them yourself. I found a pair of tweezers in a manicure kit and decided to pluck my eyebrows myself. “What could go wrong?”, I thought to myself. I got up close and personal with myself in the mirror and plucked away. By the time I was done and took a step back to look at my masterpiece, I barely had any eyebrows left. I was in so much shock, my brows looked like skinny caterpillars by the time I was done. To increase my embarrassment, my little sister took a good look at me and told me I had caterpillar eyebrows. Luckily, I was on holiday and thanks to castor oil they grew back in time for resumption.
On this journey of self-love and acceptance, I have experienced a lot of highs and lows but one thing I will say as cliché as it might sound, beauty is what you see when you look in the mirror. Beauty is devoid of skin type, body type, facial structure or whatever standard you may hold yourself to because you are beautiful just the way you are.