Skincare Secrets I Learned From Mom (Susan’s Story)

Continuing on with our “Skincare secrets I learned from mom” series where the purpose is to discuss skincare habits and tips with real women from diverse backgrounds, today we’re excited to bring you Susan’s story.  

Susan is 56 years fabulously young and equal parts Indian and German/French in terms of ethnic background.  Her skin was always on the oily side, but after turning 50, she’s noticed that it’s becoming significantly more dry and sensitive. 

Susan comes from a diverse background herself and is passionate about diversity and inclusion issues in her daily life, which made it more special to interview her for this series.  Below is a summary of what we discussed. 

  1. Tell me about your skincare history. When and how did you become aware of the importance of skincare? 

I became aware of the importance of protecting my skin at an early age.  As a young adult my skin was on the oily side and prone to breakouts.

My mother is German and has a very different skin type than mine so she never encouraged me to use stringent cleansing products or topical medicines to deal with my acne.  She recommended a strict, non-drying cleansing routine and always discouraged me from using make up to camouflage acne flare ups.

My mother stressed the importance of letting my skin breath and using natural moisturizers. As I look back, I appreciate how much my mother’s European attitudes to health and skin care influenced my skin care routine.  

In my 20’s, I started to experiment a little with some other facial treatments, like glycolic peels, but these treatments did not help my breakouts and it caused my skin to become dry and flaky so I returned to the basic routine of keeping my face clean and hydrated.     

  1. Any secrets/tips that stem from your diverse ethnic background? 

Due to my ethnic combination, I inherited skin with a lot of freckles and skin moles, putting me at a higher risk of hyperpigmentation.  When I was young I wasn’t as disciplined about applying sunscreen so my skin developed more freckles overtime.  Living in Southern California, I have learned the value of investing in a good natural sunscreen and the importance of maintaining regular check-ups with a dermatologist. 

When I was younger I traveled a considerable amount for work and visiting family. Air travel took a toll on my skin and I started to see the first signs of real aging. Now I try to avoid unnecessary air travel, which dries my skin to a point of feeling uncomfortable.  My go-to routine when I travel is to hydrate every hour and drink loads of water.  I never drink alcohol on a plane or use any soap or cleansing face towels.  

  1. Let’s talk more about your mom – how did she influence you in your skincare journey? 

My mother has beautiful skin that she inherited from my grandmother.  She never washed her face with soap, never used makeup and never used artificial skin care products.  She washed her face with water, but always followed up with a basic moisturizer, and never spent a lot of money on skin care products.

I have fond memories of my mother preparing natural home-made face masks in the kitchen using very healthy products.  As a child, I recall that her face was always soft and “dewy” in that European way. 

My mother also taught me about the importance of protecting my skin from the sun.  To this day, she never leaves the house without a hat.  When I was young, I recall how upset she was with the “sun-culture” in California.  She was against sun-bathing (remember that ritual back in the 80’s) and never let me or my sisters go to the beach. 

  1. What is top of mind for you these days when it comes to skincare?

I am vigilant about hydration and protection from sun exposure.  Living in Southern CA and being active with my son, I get a high degree of sun exposure.  Since I am prone to sun spots and freckles, it is very important to use sunscreen daily.  Most days, I apply it 2x each day.

Like my mother, I also wear a hat whether in the garden, shopping and running errands, or being active with my family.  I always keep extra hats in my car to avoid being caught in the sun. 

I also usually have a light weight long sleeve shirt to cover my arms and gloves to keep my hands free from sun exposure when I am driving.  Sounds extreme, but with some recent health scares, I am not taking any chances.