Beauty and its intersections.
Past Masque Up Entries
All About Facial Oils
11 Summer Essentials
My Favorite Sunscreens for Dark Skin
Winter Skin 101
8 Acids That Will Fix Your Skin and Your Life
A Conversation on Beauty
Setting the Tone
Some Scars Are Cool. Some Scars Are a Pain in the Ass.
Learning Curves: A Skincare Guide
Masque Up by Alesia Pullins
Pores: Not That Big of a Deal
I come from a flock of deeply pigmented folks with a natural glow and few wrinkles. I lucked out, I’m aware. I’ve always had pretty good skin, but of course, I’m still a living, breathing human with visible pores on my face. And I’m susceptible to sun damage and period breakouts, which lead to hyperpigmentation. Shit happens, and sometimes the effects show up on your face.
The beginning of 2015 was when I got serious about skincare. Before that, I thought “black don’t crack” meant “you don’t need sunscreen,” resulting in sun damage on my left cheek, which I would cover up with concealer. So I went into last year with the end goal of no longer needing to wear a full face of makeup in order to look and feel put together. I wanted to slap on a tinted moisturizer and some bronzer and glow like Taral Hicks (KEE-SHA) did in Belly, but without the comedogenic baby oil. Cutting back on the makeup meant amping up my skincare regimen – which went from the basic cleanse/tone/moisturize to A BUNCH OF SHIT.
Midway through my skincare journey, though, I realized that what was once fun now felt like a chore, something I had to complete in order to feel like I deserved to exist. You spend all that time cursing your imperfections and you’ll begin to think everyone else gives a shit about them too. They do not. This enlightenment came to me via a single sentence DM, from my friend and fellow beauty obsessive Brittany: “I like my pores.”
What? You like your pores? We’re allowed to like our pores? It meant so much to see another black woman place confidence in what was deflating mine. It meant it was ok to break the rules. I threw away my useless pore extractor and instantly felt better. Brittany saying she liked her pores was like someone verbally shaking sense into me. I looked at other areas of my skincare routine and asked myself why I needed these things. So much of mainstream beauty involves overanalyzing your face, looking for reasons to justify buying new products that promise you the key to happiness in a frosted jar. I’m not above being sucked in by it all. I’m not above endlessly staring at my face and searching for above-average sized pores to excavate. I’m not above spending $40 on a primer because it promises to erase my pores (I love primers, let’s talk about primers soon) and make my skin look cyborg-like. But rejecting one of the tenets of western beauty standards – a smooth, texture-free face, free of imperfections – regardless of its magnitude, reminded me of why I loved beauty in the first place: it allows me to feel good about myself on my own terms.
My skincare routine is far less complicated now, and I’ll talk about that in this column soon enough, but my point is: 2015 marked a year of skincare discovery and acceptance. While I started off the year believing that imperfections were to be fixed, I ended the year by saying fuck all that. I hate clogged pores as much as anyone else, but my world is no longer on pause if one erupts on my face and leaves behind a mark. I’ll DIY a bentonite clay mask with activated charcoal for the pores, let time and a vitamin C serum deal with the scar, and everything will be fine.
I anticipate that 2016 will bring its own beauty challenges and triumphs and I’m excited to share those with you in this column, as well as hear about your own. Beauty is personal, but it can also be a collective experience, as we learn from one another and grow. So here’s to what lies ahead in this new year – may you come to accept your pores, or find a primer that makes you look like a cyborg if that is your thing. I have Drake decals on my nails as I type this. There are no judgements here.
Recipe for bentonite clay with activated charcoal mask:
1 tablespoon bentonite clay
non-metal mixing utensil (plastic spoon will do)
half a tablespoon of aloe vera gel if your skin is prone to sensitivity (optional)
Mix the clay, charcoal and vinegar into a thick-ish paste. Be sure to use a non metal bowl and mixing utensil as bentonite clay absorbs metal and will render your mask ineffective. Add Argan oil and/or aloe if you wish. Gently smoothe a thin layer of the mix onto your face, preferably with the mixing utensil you used, and allow to dry. You’ll feel a bit of tugging, but relax, that’s the bentonite and charcoal naturally sucking all of the gunk from your pores. Wash it off (and wash your sink so it doesn’t stain) and lightly dab Argan oil on your face to curb dryness. Do you feel great? You look great!