Vanity was my entry point to wellness.
At 25 years old, my diet was shit. I started working for a company that stocked the office kitchen with complimentary snacks and drinks–which, at the time, felt like the pinnacle of luxury–and thus spent five days a week guzzling down as many free Diet Cokes as I could in between handfuls of Snyder’s pretzel sticks. The only thing “active” about my lifestyle was how I actively avoided all physical movement. My Tinder profile simply said, “Please don’t ask to take me on a hike” (the go-to first date for all Angelenos).
This wasn’t not-normal for me. This was how I’d always been. So why was my skin starting to show it?
At first, I had no idea what was causing the peeling dryness and raging adult acne. In college, I’d gone through a full course of Accutane treatment, which is kind of supposed to clear you up for life. I went back to the dermatologist. She prescribed antibiotics, a cleanser for my face, and a steroid cream to treat the redness around my eyes.
None of it worked. It made my skin even more dry and peel-y.
Makeup was impossible to put on, but going makeup-free didn’t seem like an option, either. To give my skin maximum healing time, I invented a ridiculous routine that went something like this:
- Make the hour-long drive to work makeup-free
- Slap makeup onto face in the parking garage before work
- Stock car with cleansing wipes, moisturizer, and Clean & Clear cream
- Cleanse and treat face in the car directly after work
- Make the hour-long drive home makeup-free, sometimes (most times) crying
I did this for a month or so before I couldn’t take it anymore. I didn’t want to look like this, feel like this, spend my time like this. I was ready to try anything–anything, including...wait for it...drinking the daily recommended amount of water.
I don’t know why this hadn’t occurred to me before, or why my dermatologist never bothered to ask me about my diet. I don’t know why I didn’t notice that my body was parched, begging for relief. I guess I had just subsisted on Diet Coke and coffee for so long that I thought that was what normal felt like. But, thankfully, the idea floated into my head one day like a delicate little bubble: What if I tried drinking water?
I set up an alarm on my phone to go off eight times a day. Every time the alarm rang, I had to drink a glass of water, no exceptions.
The downside: Most of my time was spent taking bathroom breaks. The upside: My acne literally cleared up in just four days.
That’s 32 glasses of water that did what months of antibiotics, hundreds of dollars in co-pays and filled prescriptions, and a medicine cabinet full of fancy moisturizers could not. The best part? WATER IS FREAKING FREE.
Is your mind blown? Mine was. I thought, If four days of regular water consumption could change my skin, what would I look like if I ate vegetables? Exercised? Stopped eating Sour Patch Kids for breakfast? This experiment opened my mind to the world of wellness. I can’t wait to share everything I’ve learned here on ILLUUM–the literal least of which is this: Drink more water.