First of all: I’m not a doctor. I’m not an aesthetician. I’m not a nurse. But I am a human being who’s lived the last several years starting most days with umpteen spritzes of dry shampoo before squeezing into leggings or skinny jeans—cozy and smellin’ divine due to cup-fulls of floral fabric softener.
Several months ago, though, I started to itch. Both my legs felt dry and my pores looked and felt clogged and bumpy. I couldn’t stop scratching my calves and knees. My underarms itched. My scalp itched. It was driving me so bonkers, I scheduled an emergency dermatologist appointment.
She took one look at my legs and my pits, and began an onslaught of questions.
Derm: “Do you wear leggings or skinny jeans every day?”
Me: Yes, most days.
Derm: “Do you wear antiperspirant?”
Derm: “Do you use dry shampoo most days?”
Me: Yes, of course. (Who possibly has the time to wash their hair every day?)
Derm: “Do you use scented fabric softener?”
Me: Yes; I love when my clothes are soft ‘n cozy.
Derm: “Do you wear all those new synthetic fabrics that feel super soft to the touch?”
Derm, highly exasperated: “DON’T YOU EVER LET YOUR SKIN BREATHE?”
Beginning to Breathe
She then went on a mini rant, explaining to me that everything I was doing—everything I’ve listed above—is clogging all of my pores on a daily basis. And it’s not just me, she said. Many women in their teens, 20s, and 30s are having these issues because we’re being inundated by skin-unfriendly products by both the beauty and fashion industries.
My legs couldn’t breathe because they were constantly smothered in tight fabric (typically close-knit, chemically dyed indigo denim). My underarms couldn’t sweat because I was literally not perspiring—would you believe it never occurred to me that “anti-perspirant” literally means “against sweating?” (Facepalm: Blonde moment.)
Perhaps the biggest heartbreaker was my beloved dry shampoo. I love this stuff, you guys. I mean… LOVE. Eliminating hair washing and blowdrying from my morning routine easily added 45 minutes to my day. But alas, I’d been doing much more harm than good. Frankly, my scalp was p*ssed because instead of cleansing it well, giving it a good scrub to exfoliate those follicles, and subsequently letting it breathe and/or build up natural oils once in a while, I was washing my hair once or twice a week, and shooting aerosol cans of dry shampoo at it most days. (News flash: Dry shampoo is such a misnomer. It is not shampooing/cleaning your hair—it is simply drying it out more.)
My friends are all in the same boat; we’ve been riding this dry shampoo train for years. And I imagine many of you have been, too. Well, peeps. CHOO CHOO! Because it’s time to get off that train. Or at least stop with the daily commute. (Did I take that train analogy too far? Yeah? OK. Yeah.)
And the synthetic fabrics? Also evil pore cloggers. (OK, I may be a bit harsh here. Some of them are perfectly fine for skin, and absolutely acceptable to wear most days—note, though, that some of the processes can sadly harm the environment and wildlife, but that’s a whole other blog post.) My skin is on the verrrry sensitive side—I’m pale and covered in freckles, y’all—and it needs to breathe. These fake fabrics are created through chemical processes, and resemble plastic. (It’s like wearing a giant Ziplock bag, really. Can you breathe in a Ziplock bag? No.) These clothes feel super soft ‘n cozy to the touch, and some are even wrinkle-free and water-resistant. But for the most part, they’re no bueno, you guys.
Cottons and linens will be my new BFFs, my dermatology sorceress told me. I need to embrace them and love on ’em. And so far, I have! Honestly, letting my skin take huge, gulping breaths while in these breathable fabrics works wonders. But lest you get too excited, note that 100% cotton fabrics can be pretty hard to come by. At least for women. (NOTE to dear readers: This is also another blog post in the making.)
And if I’m using fabric softener these days, I seek out the dye-free, scent-free, boring kind—if I use it at all. (But come on. I can’t avoid ALL these comfy-making, right? I do love my fabric softener.)
Have any of you experienced this, dear friends? If so, I’m with you! And if not, please use caution starting NOW. Take care of that beautiful skin you’re in.
With peace and sunscreen –