This is the twenty-third issue of Letters to J
. We hope this one encourages you to carve out time to face mask.
(Jasdev ⇒ Justin, 10/26/20)
What’s something you enjoyed more than you expected to?
— Justin, in letter #22.
Face masks — and the whole world that is skincare.
I honestly wish more of my male friends discussed the topic, so this is me doing that by writing out wisdom learned from a friend and expert: Upma.
I struggled with acne as a teenager (though it thankfully went away come my early twenties), yet I mistakenly kept my acne-focused skincare routine well beyond the problem cleared. In practice this meant using acne pads when I didn’t quite need to, hoping it’d keep it the condition at bay, …and then wondering why my skin was shiny all the time.
Upma pointed out what I should’ve realized on my own — no one teaches you this stuff (!) — , acne pads are harsh for a reason, to get rid of acne. Using them beyond their tenure unnecessarily exposed my skin to salicylic acid, drying it out, and in response, my body produced more oil, hence the shininess and my greenhorn confusion.
I replaced the pads with a face lotion and voilà. My skin was back in non-shiny action and I wanted to learn more.
First up was buying body lotion and hand cream. This stuff can get expensive — side eyes Aēsop et al. My internal justification is one part “there’s worse stuff to spend money on” and another part “when you feel good, you do well, etc., etc.”
Then lip balm. Not much to explain here. It’s one of those I-don’t-remember-life-before-this purchases.
Third, sunscreen. I’m still working through the recommendation from Kara’s Guide to Life. It’s lighter than any sunscreen I’ve used before and most importantly, non-greasy.
Fourth is face wash — I use Kiehl’s “Oil Eliminator” (ignore the overly intense name).
And rounding out the final two: witch hazel and face masks.
Thayers witch hazel is still witchcraft to me. The toner is perfect for a quick refresh after a longer work- or weekend-day.
Face masks were the first thing that came to mind when I read your question from the last letter. The ritual has even earned a recurring reminder in OmniFocus, and, if that isn’t some sign of late-20s-hood, I don’t know what is. It’s doubled as both a date night pastime and a break in my morning routine with an evening shower after the mask.
The ceremony goes something like:
- Queue an album or EP (two recents) to listen to on our bathroom Sonos speaker — a purchase I enjoyed as much as I expected to.
- Prep. A mask I’ve used in the past shipped as a powdered mix (presumably for added witchcraft).
- A quick face wash, apply, and…wait for ten minutes. Boxed-in time to dance like a goof in the bathroom, putter around, and let my mind wander. Or in better and substituted phrasing from Anne Lamott:
It’s like discovering that while you thought you needed [face masks] for the [(listed benefits)], what you really needed was the ceremony [around it.] The act turns out to be its own reward.
Maybe all of this is to say that the 2013 Jasdev who took this snap didn’t realize he’d later go on to write an entire letter about skincare.
On the face-mask date note (and reading through the Veuve Clicquot section on arcana.computer), do you and H have a favorite type of date y’all keep coming back to?