How skin care unexpectedly led me to self-care

I’ll never forget the day I had an allergic reaction to lip gloss. I was in eighth grade, and it was basketball season. That day, we were playing against our biggest rival, but I’d woken up with a terrible stomachache. I felt sick, so after talking with my mom, I decided to stay home and rest for half the day, then go in at lunch so that I could still play in the game.

My mom dropped me off at my grandma’s house, and I rested until it was time to get ready for school. In an effort to make myself feel better, I put on some makeup, swiping on lip gloss I’d recently received as a Christmas present.

Soon, I started itching — then the itches turned into hives and even worse itching. I looked in the mirror — my lips had swollen to more than double their natural size. I showed my grandma, who gave me some medicine and told me to hop in the shower so I could wash off anything that might be bothering my skin.

I stood under the warm water, and suddenly started seeing dark spots in my vision. I felt myself getting dizzy, and the last thing I remember is calling out for my grandma.

Suddenly, I woke up on my grandmother’s couch in just a towel and a blanket. As you’ve probably guessed, I spent that day in a doctor’s office, not in a basketball game.


The doctor couldn’t officially diagnose the problem. He asked if I might be pregnant (definitely not), he asked if I had made any changes in medication (nope), he asked if I had made any changes in general (no — wait, yes). I told him I used a new lip gloss, and he said that would make sense, and that I should stop using it. I asked him which specific ingredients could cause allergic reactions in makeup, but he didn’t have an answer. So I was stuck.

I left the doctor’s office with no treatment and no advice — except to stop wearing makeup that I was allergic to. But that was kind of difficult to do, considering I didn’t know what exactly had caused my allergic reaction.

So as I got older, I was more careful about what I put on my skin. I noticed that my skin reacted better to some cosmetics and worse to others. So I started paying more attention to the ingredients of things I put on my body. I started using the Skin Deep Cosmetics Database to research how the products I used match up with the rest of the makeup market.

I continued to take better care of my skin, and I realized I felt better overall. Going through my daily skin care routines made me feel peaceful and centered. Knowing that I was taking good care of myself made me feel less stressed.

Initially, I dealt with guilt when I’d spend more money on the healthier products. But over time, I realized that spending this extra money wasn’t only helping me superficially — it was helping me mentally and emotionally.


Sometimes, I still struggle with the idea of spending more money on skin care products — but when I do, I think back to myself as an eighth grade girl. I remember how awful I felt that day, and then I think about how I feel now every time I finish my skin care routine — so relaxed and at ease. Ultimately, I am am grateful for that allergic reaction to lip gloss. It led me to my favorite form of self-care.

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