In my early twenties, I learned about skincare the hard way: after one too many days agonizing in front of the mirror because my skin was covered in angry red pimples and embarrassing scars resulting from picking said pimples. I still cringe looking at the pictures from those years: my face ashy and dry, not a hint of sunblock in sight as I squinted under the Florida sun, bits of mascara still smeared under my eyes because I forgot to take my makeup off the night before. Skincare routine? What’s that?

So. There I was, in front of the mirror. Pimples and acne scars, so clustered al over my cheeks and chin, unmissable. I knew that even if I said I didn’t care about beauty, I still owed it to myself to be confident in my own skin. I forked over the money and got myself an appointment with a dermatologist.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Now I am devoted to skincare rituals. Give me all of it: the serums and the face masks and the hydrating moisturizers. Retinol, AHA, BHA-it’s all a language i understand fairly well by now. One brand that delivers, I’ve seen, is The Ordinary. By now a cult classic among beauty enthusiasts and your average person alike, their products are simple, to the point, and for the most part do what the website claims they do. Even as I get a bit more daring and branch out to other sorts of products (r/AsianBeauty, I’m looking at you,) I come back to The Ordinary time and again for a reset of sorts.

I have come to terms with the fact that my acne will never fully go away–if I can rely on something it’s the fact that my hormonal acne will flare up every month no matter what–but my skin has been clearer now than it’s been in years. At this point of my life, makeup is optional because I already look naturally radiant.

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