Skin, Deep is a series that explores the ways in which our heritage, culture, upbringing, and life experiences impact the relationship we have with our skin.
My name is Ariana Velazquez and my heritage/ethnic background is Mexican-American-Chinese. I was born and raised in San Diego, California. My dad is Mexican-Chinese, and my mom is American of European descent. With my ethnic background, I would consider myself Chicanx, of two places in which I don’t really fit into either, and with that, my parents and friends with similar situations and the communities in which I grew up in have been a culture all their own. This culture is one that is more conscious and aware of what we are using and purchasing, and much more concerned with the wellness side of things rather than the beautification side of things.
Skincare Wasn’t A Big Deal Growing Up
I wasn’t really made aware of any particular cultural practices concerning many things as I was growing up, so skincare for sure wasn’t one of them. I do have very vivid memories of my dad's grandma using a very heavy and strongly fragranced face cream that kept her oily, wet, dewy, and ultimately hydrated and extremely young looking. It is just a Jergens All-Purpose Face Cream, but I can remember her slathering it on and the smell is extremely nostalgic to me. Other than that, my mom told me to wash my face in the morning and at night and that was about it in terms of my lesson on beauty and skincare.
My brother and I are naturally tan but having a mother with fair skin, I don’t think she thought it was important to lather us up with sunscreen most of the time. I can remember friends' parents insisting to spray some on a few times during beach trips, but my parents did not really seem to mind. As my friends would get sunburned after hours at the beach, I just always got darker. Up until a few years ago, I never really thought it was necessary for me.
However, I visited Miami a while back and experienced my first sunburn and that has changed everything. I love being able to get a nice tan easily without having to worry about a burn situation, but I have decided that it is better to be safe than sorry. Now I make sure to have sunscreen with me when I know I will be outside for a prolonged amount of time.
My Relationship With My Skin
I think I have a good relationship with my skin at this point in my life. I think while I was growing up, I neglected it a little, I used to skip washing my face too frequently. I had minor acne during puberty and every once in a while now, but I never got really into wearing makeup to hide flaws. I’ve actually been barefaced most of my life and cannot stand to wear any sort of face-makeup unless it is a tinted moisturizer.
Now that the way that I take care of my skin is all my own responsibility, I really do take the time and energy to pay attention to the things that I am using. I think in some way that is the new age Chicanx cultural influence— always willing to try something new, whether it is a homemade face mask or a Korean one from the Zion Market. Being open to all influences and ideas, as well as being skeptical of the mainstream ones, is something that has dictated the way that I make all the decisions in my life, including the ones concerning skincare.
How I Handled A Skincare Crisis
For example, I recently mysteriously broke out in small red, itchy hives on most of my body. For about a week and a half I had no idea what it was. I thought it may have been a heat rash, but I had recently changed body washes also so it turned out there were a few factors that could have triggered my skin's response. Physically, I was itchy and red. Mentally, I was frustrated, concerned, and felt like my body was betraying me. Like, I do my best to take care of myself and look where it got me. After visiting urgent care and being subscribed a steroid pill, which I was made aware would not only alter my skin condition for the worse (at first) but also my emotional state and my appetite, I decided to do my own research. I ran to Sprout’s and purchased a few new supplements to add to my collection as well as orange and yellow fruits and vegetables which contain carotenoids which help improve resistance to rashes triggered by the sun. I finally was able to get an appointment with my dermatologist who determined that it was an allergic reaction and that helped to set my mind at ease, and eventually my rash went away thanks to the unfortunate need to use a steroid-infused ointment.
I felt a little ashamed at myself for having been dramatic about the situation after learning that it was something that wasn’t my fault or anyone’s really, and that it would pass soon. But having healthy skin (at least in appearance) is something that culturally as Americans we hold in high regard, and I was thrown off by the unexpected condition of my skin for about three weeks. It was a difficult thing to have to go through especially having newly just started to live with my boyfriend, I felt like there was nowhere to hide my bumpy skin. In the end, it has given me a better relationship with my skin and how I take preventative measures.
I feel like I really have just gotten serious about skincare and setting my own routines. So at this point, everything that I have used has worked well and I do feel like the beauty and skincare culture has grown so much within the last few years to be a more inclusive space. The more independent and underground beauty and skincare options I have come across are great and seem to understand and cater to a wider range of skin-types and cultural values.
My Skincare Routine
At this point, I am still keeping my skincare routine very simple. I wash my face in the morning, use a toner, a moisturizer, and a lip balm. At night, it is pretty much the same. I add on a different toner and then will alternate a few different face masks and exfoliators. I have an eye cream that I will use every once in a while if I remember it.
I am really fond of everything that I have tried from Glossier so far. I really love their masks and the Balm Dotcom. Those I use very frequently. There is a wonderful shop in San Diego called Shop Good in which I now purchase most all of my skincare products from, because they focus on natural and vegan products, which is very important to me. The woman who owns the shop is also an amazing source of knowledge, and any time I have a skincare question I know I can count on her. I have been using a cleanser, toner, and moisturizer that I bought from Shop Good by the brand Botnia and I love them!
I really love my skin tone and the texture of my skin. It is soft but lightly flawed. I have this terrible and wonderful blemish that pops up in the same spot on my cheek every few months and it’s great! In a totally non-sarcastic way. I love that it behaves relatively well and I love that it is my skin. I am proud of the way that it looks without makeup and I am thankful to be of a smaller group of people that sport a clean face every day. I have grown to be more protective of it over the years and I am appreciative of every little bump and freckle.
As told to ILLUUM.
For more from Ariana, follow her on Instagram.
Images via Instagram.