Being fourteen is tough; but being fourteen and acutely aware of pore size is even tougher. Around this age, someone once made the comment that I had large pores. Twenty-four-year-old me knows now that pore size is more closely related to genetics than anything, but fourteen-year-old me was unaware and totally traumatized.

Immediately, I set out on an expensive, futile journey to right the so-called “wrongs” my mama gave me. No one bothered to tell me, amidst the barrage of Bioré strips and Oxy acne pads, that pore size is largely genetic and cannot be remedied by scrubbing and toning the life out of your skin.

Fast forward 10 years and, in addition to the whole pore-size-is-largely-genetic thing, I’ve gathered some serious skin knowledge I’d love to share with a younger me.

1. Popular products aren’t necessarily the best products (for you).

St. Ives Apricot Fresh Skin Scrub? Biore Warming Anti-Blackhead Cleanser? Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash Pink Grapefruit Foaming Scrub? If I could go back, I’d let myself know that these products, like over-exfoliation, are not inherently good because they’re popular. Focus on your skin type and products made specifically for it instead.

profile faded skincare

2. Step away from the prescription topicals.

There’s a time and a place for everything, but harsh, active topicals shouldn’t be added to a teen’s routine until said teen knows the importance of a basic skincare regimen.

I was on Tazorac back in the day and whether or not I needed to be is debatable, but before I was prescribed, it would’ve benefited me to know that removing my makeup at night, or even washing my face at all for that matter, would likely reduce breakouts. It would’ve saved me some serious money, as well.

3. Your mom’s skincare is not your best skincare.

I have fond memories of visits to the Clinique counter with my mother, but I don’t think my mom’s trusty facial bar soap was the best thing for my sensitive skin. Luckily now, teenagers can research more skincare options for themselves online where in the past, beauty routines relied heavily on recommendations from the family matriarchs.

I would’ve told young Dell, “Get thee to MakeupAlley or Beautypedia A.S.A.P.”

skincare up close

4. Tanning beds are not cool.

Many times in high school I found myself carpooling with friends to our local tanning salon. It was fun to hang out there and, also, being perpetually bronzed was great. However, I’m now fully aware of the implications of tanning bed use and holy cow, young Dell, DO NOT DO IT!

5. Ditch the magnifying mirror.

I could spend hours analyzing every crevice of my face in a magnifying mirror, much like I did as a teen. However, I know now that this only leads to a few botched blackhead extractions and maybe some scarring even. Not worth it.

My skin is not perfect now, nor will it ever be, but I’ve come to realize overall that I am my own toughest critic (a quality that extends far beyond just my beauty routines). It’s important to take lessons from your past and put them to work in the future. I’m doing well with all of the above so far, but I could certainly stand to lighten up on myself and I bet you could do the same.

What would you tell your younger self about beauty?

Images via Kristen Wasik



  1. I quite like magnifying mirrors for tasks like tweezing and such but oh my do they make you self-conscious. Looking at yourself at 10x magnification can be a scary experience. I’m addicted to mirrors and if you’re looking for a great one (without magnification too!) feel free to check

  2. This is a great post. I struggled with using skincare products from the drugstore when I was younger, but I didn’t know that it was the ingredients that was in the products that was harmful to my skin. I used drugstore skincare products, because that was the only thing I knew. Since I’ve been out of college I learned a lot about my skin type, which is why I switched to cruelty free makeup that is organic. I strongly feel that everyone should be using organic makeup, because the ingredients in other products are too harmful.

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