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How One Esthetician Practices Skin Neutrality

Skin neutrality (and its sister, acne neutrality)  is a hot topic right now. The ethos, which came in hot on the heels of the body positivity movement, offers a fresh perspective on accepting your skin — no matter what state it’s in. We’ve always been advocates of this concept, with imagery that’s retouch-free and language that talks about skin in a realistic, inclusive way.

Where things get interesting, though, is when the world of aesthetics and skin neutrality collide. Given that the aesthetics industry is a singular, eurocentric embodiment of beauty, we talked with Theresa VanSlambrouch (a.k.a. @tv.skinjournal) , a licensed esthetician, makeup artist, and content creator. And she’s on a mission: to spread skin positivity while helping others feel their best. 

via @tv.skinjournal on Instagram

How did you get into the skin neutrality movement? 

I was tired of being insecure and upset over something I couldn’t really control — the state of my skin. But posting about skin, unfiltered, for thousands of people to see, really helped me improve my mentality and the way I viewed myself. If I could become more confident with acne, then maybe I could inspire other people to feel the same way.

Let’s walk it back, then. How did you get involved in traditional aesthetics?

I started getting cystic acne when I was about 14 years old. When it got really bad, I made an appointment with a dermatologist who then prescribed me topicals with a specific routine to follow. My battle with cystic acne made me focus more on my skin. At the time, I was so insecure and hated how it looked. So my own skincare journey inspired me to take on aesthetics. Plus, I’ve always loved makeup — so I wanted to help people who were also going through a similar rough patch on the acne front.

Is spreading the skin neutrality gospel more challenging as an esthetician?

In the beginning it was a bit of a challenge. I even had people question my knowledge as an esthetician when I was struggling with acne. It’s like they were thinking, “How could I help others with their skin when I couldn’t even figure out my own?” But I honestly think having experienced acne firsthand has made people more likely to trust my professional and personal opinion when it comes to product and/or ingredient recommendations. 

When did you feel the shift in your esthetic ethos? 

About one year after I started my Instagram account! I was becoming more comfortable with myself after being reminded [by others on the platform] that it’s okay to have acne and other common skin concerns. 

How does your makeup artistry play into skin neutrality? 

As a makeup artist, I still appreciate full glam and full-coverage foundations. Before I accepted my skin as it is, I used to wear a full face in the summer to the beach, or even to the gym. Today, I’m comfortable going out with just mascara and lipstick. I appreciate the natural look more. 

What’s your biggest takeaway from the movement? 

Have a routine that’s free of pore-clogging ingredients and hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Then, protect yourself with sunscreen and sunglasses — and a hat in the summer.

Do you have any specific tips for specific conditions?

Less is more when it comes to certain conditions like acne. You don’t want to overwhelm your skin barrier because that could lead to more irritation and sensitized skin. Focus on hydration and calming products for best results!

What are the essentials that should be in everyone’s lineup?

A great beginning lineup for everyone is a gentle cleanser, moisturizer, and sunscreen. Of course, these should be catered to your skin type for maximum benefits. When you’re feeling good with the basics you can add an antioxidant serum, like vitamin C, to maintain a youthful complexion or a treatment serum to address your skin concern. One product you should never skip is sunscreen! The sun is one of the biggest sources of skin aging — and sun protection will also defend against skin cancer.

What’s your biggest takeaway from the movement? 

The road to self-love and skin neutrality isn’t always easy. I’ve dealt with many ups and downs before I got into a healthier mindset. Just know that you aren’t alone in your journey — you got this!

More on loving the skin you’re in:

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