THIS WEEK: on summer skin

Teen spirit

I’ve never understood the preoccupation with younger-looking skin, since my own has never progressed past the teenage break-out stage. What I wouldn’t give to swap my clogged pores for crow’s feet! Sure, wrinkles are a sign of ageing – but that also means that they are, in effect, a sign of wisdom, seniority, capability. Instead, I’m the forever-teen. I know the grass is always greener, but my grass has acne.

Since I turned 13 I’ve tried, if not thelot, then at least a lot: antibiotics, steroid creams, Roaccutane (twice – it comes with a monthly blood test as you absolutely must not fall pregnant while taking it – scary stuff), facials, lasers, LEDs, giving up dairy, giving up tomatoes, five different contraceptive pills and a lot of overpriced and under-effective beauty products.

Always wondered why I’m such an interesting person? Of course you have, and it’s because I went to school discos in rollnecks with two millimetres of MAC foundation pancaked onto my face and had to find a personality when no one wanted to snog me for my looks. Thankfully the Roaccutane cleared up my chest and back in my late teens, and the fourth and fifth pills kept my face (sort of) under control.

But a year ago – at the age of 30, I might add – I stopped taking the pill because it’s actually bloody bad for you and, hey presto, my jawline is hillier than Lisbon, but with a lot less photogenic pastel houses. Each month it just about clears up to a few slow-healing red marks and then, like hormonal clockwork, here we go again.

I don’t have a quick fix for you. But here’s what I’ve learned: cleanse twice, but avoid cleansers that are very drying – your skin shouldn’t feel squeaky after a wash. Never use face wipes. Biologique Recherche P50 toner is the best, even if it is £62 and you can’t buy it online (there’s a counter in Liberty). Wear suncream every day, but make sure it’s non-comedogenic. Avoid oils. Don’t overload on products. Try not to pick. Drink more water and get more sleep (I know, me neither). Heavy make-up only makes it look worse.

I’ve been trying retinols (the pricey Sunday Riley regime) for the last month or so, and my face looks great – glowy, even in tone, just good in general – making my pizza-party jawline look even worse in contrast. But I’m persevering because, unfortunately, the quickest fix for bad skin isn’t quick at all: it’s patience. Patience, and maybe a pair of diversionary-tactic big earrings.

Lizard legs

The other day as I was getting ready for work, I pulled on my newly washed black jeans then, deciding against denim (too hot) pulled them back off again. Heading over to the wardrobe for outfit attempt number two, I took a second look at my jeans, which were now flung across the bed, and noticed that their insides were covered in little bits of white tissue.

“BEN!” I yelled, about to launch into a tirade about not emptying pockets before sticking things in the wash (we’ve been through this Ben), I suddenly realised that – oh – those little bits weren’t washing-machined tissue. They’re skin. Leg skin. My leg skin.

Yep, I appear to have leg dandruff (legdruff?). Who knew that was a thing? My shins are so extraordinarily dry that they are literally turning to dust. Lovely.

I wasn’t aware of my condition until jeans-gate but now it’s all I can think about (well, not all I can think about but I’ve thought about it a lot). How long has this been happening? Have I been shedding in bed? On the bus? At the office? Have I left a trail of leg-flakes behind me on the way to the photocopier? Oh the mess!

Of course this is all terrible timing now that the weather is warming up. Summer frocks are a-calling and thus my lizard legs are about to be exposed for all to see (please no staring). Clearly I need to sort it out.

The answer? A good slather of moisturiser, obvs. Hardly rocket science I know, but here’s the thing – I cannot for the life of me  remember to put any on. Whilst I’ll religiously apply face cream both morning and night, when it comes to the rest of my body I will unfailingly forget. Hence the current leg situation (and we haven’t even discussed my sandpaper heels – another time, lucky you).

Faced with the prospect of a long hot summer of scales from the knee down, I’ve decided to take action and have found a flaky leg fix which requires minimum brain power – Wet Skin Moisture Miracle by Sanctuary; an in-shower moisturiser which you slap on as soon as you’ve turned the tap off. Squeeze a blob into your palm, rub into wet skin then get dried and dressed as normal. I’ve put a bottle next to the body wash so that I absolutely WILL. NOT. FORGET. 

Sayonara legdruff? Here’s hoping. But if you’re hanging around the photocopier it might be wise to bring a dustpan and brush.