If you could personify a desert, you would get me and my skin. As a child, I had the driest skin in the world. I had countless dermatologist appointments where they sent in multiple doctors to rub my skin and discuss how unbelievably rough it was (and this was all before the age of 5).
I remember being a young child, in Mobile, Ala. with a mother who tried all of the recommended old wives’ tale solutions for dealing with my dry skin. However, everything became manageable when she started picking certain types of soaps for me to use and covered me in Vaseline the moment I got out of the tub or shower. Besides being slightly slippery and shiny for a few minutes, there were few downsides to it.
Because of all of that, I’ve always had a strong inclination to take excellent care of my skin and hair. Those were the two things that people seemed to talk about the most with me. Since my hair was long enough to sit on for most of my life, I felt the responsibility to keep it healthy.
That was until I had my daughter.
I know it sounds counterintuitive, but I just felt like I couldn’t emotionally handle my normal skin and hair routine after a while. I’ve been very transparent about the fact that around the time that my daughter was born, my marriage was also disintegrating, and I was trying to do a whole lot to keep things afloat. As I tried, in vain, to work on my marriage, and tend to our daughter, taking care of myself just naturally fell by the wayside.
I bought the cheapest soaps, stopped applying Vaseline and bought the cheapest shampoos I could find. I didn’t even buy conditioner, let alone leave-in conditioner. I stopped moisturizing my hair, and the moment after I washed it I just put it in a bun and it let it stay like that until the next washing. I felt like a shell of a person both figuratively and literally. My skin was so dry, and I was cracking, bleeding and peeling all over our apartment.
But, if you could personify a sponge, you would have my daughter. She is constantly observing and taking things in. Once I realized that the example I was setting for her was one I didn’t want her to follow, I knew I had to do better.
I realized that the best thing that I could do for her was to be happy with myself. I spent a lot of her first year stressed and struggling, but once we got on our own, things eventually got better. With that inner peace that I developed, I was able to help bring my outer appearance back to the way it was before all of the turmoil. Taking care of myself no longer became a burden, and taking care of her became something enjoyable for her as well.
As a single mother now, with things being simplified, I’ve been able to buy my enriching fragrance-free soaps, Vaseline, olive oil (for my hair), and my shampoos and conditioners. But since my daughter’s skin isn’t as dry as mine, I buy her her own soaps and moisturizers, and hair products that cater to natural hair since that’s what she’s rocking.
I try to instill in her the idea that she should always take good care of herself because when she gets older, she’ll be the one responsible for her well-being. But on top of that, I always remind her that no matter what she looks like, what’s on the inside is what’s going to reflect on the outside. So, as long as she maintains her inner glow, all moisturizers and hair products are going to do is enhance it.