Living and working in the beauty industry with PCOS.
Living with PCOS isn’t the easiest. Living and working in the beauty industry with PCOS; well that makes it a tad bit extra harder but not impossible to manage. Before I jump in, let me explain a few things. This entry is a bit more on the personal side, PCOS is a condition that I’ve been living with for over 20 years (currently 35 yrs old) and still struggle within my everyday life. It’s also a condition that technically never goes “away” and there is no actual “cure” till this day. In my experience living with PCOS; I believe, not only is it a condition that not only requires some significant lifestyle changes to make it easier to manage in your everyday life, but also requires a good amount of mental strength, persistence and perseverance. I am not a doctor, but this is my first-hand experience.
So let’s get to it!
What is PCOS?
Polycystic ovary syndrome better known as PCOS is a hormonal condition quite common in women all around the world. PCOS can start as early as in a woman’s early teen years. Women who suffer from PCOS produce higher levels of androgens. This does not only affect a woman’s menstrual cycle (irregular periods are the most common early symptom); but also commonly causes super rapid weight gain and it can also cause numerous serious medical problems (diabetes, sleep apnea, heart disease, depression & anxiety and even a stroke) if not detected early on.
Besides all those medically scary things I just mentioned PCOS can cause; PCOS can affect you on a more personal level too. Unfortunately PCOS causes insulin resistance in most women. Meaning the body produces insulin just fine but can’t use it to break it down as energy. So in a nutshell; this not only can cause pre-diabetes/diabetes but in most women PCOS can make you gain weight at a very rapid speed (almost as if it’s out of your control). PCOS causes excessive hunger to become a very real thing thanks to the body craving sugar. Overeating can totally become a thing too without you actually noticing as it’s happening. As the body does not breakdown this sugar (breads, fruits, cookies etc) that it’s craving, it leads to quick weight gain which not only affects the obvious such as your appearance and clothing etc. This weight gain causes pain in your joints, knees and ankles etc. I believe because the weight gain is so very rapid, the body has a hard time adjusting. I am no doctor; just my opinion.
PCOS can also cause women to have severe acne, not only on the face but on the body too. Women that suffer from PCOS have acne usually found on the jawline, cheeks, chin and neck area. This acne is caused by the production rise of androgens and/or testosterone levels. This rise causes the sebaceous glands to become larger, making your skin produce much more oil than it normally should. This causes not only your common whitehead pimples; which also unfortunately causes cystic acne. It’s not only painful to the touch, very itchy, but also quite large in size too.
Although sensitive to talk about; PCOS can cause unwanted facial hair, excessive body hair, and thinning of scalp hair. Most commonly, women that have PCOS tend to have darker or shadowed jawlines/chins/upper lip areas, caused by the production or the pre-production of unwanted hair. Again no doctor; but my guess is that the unwanted hairs essentially grow where the average male produces body and facial hair. This includes the beard, mustache, chest hair and even back hair. This is also not only subjected to growing unwanted hair on the body, but the loss of hair or thinning scalp hair. This is caused by the acceleration of increased overproduction of testosterone hormones in the body (aka male hormones that all women produce, PCOS women just produce a little more than the average).
Working in the beauty industry with PCOS?
Back in the day? I can only speak for myself. I honestly don’t think it my PCOS ‘deeply-hardcore’ (besides medically) affected me or other makeup artists, hair stylists, wardrobe stylists etc. Essentially these jobs or careers were “behind the scenes” or “behind the camera”. So, although there was always self pressure for me and my appearance (I’m a makeup artist; so in my personal belief; you should look the part) there wasn’t anything like actual pressure “pressure”.
What do I mean by that?
Well… Being in the biz for a while now; I’ve been around to see the transition from flips phones to Instagram. The fashion industry in itself has changed and adapted to the new age too. Makeup artists, hair and wardrobe stylists now too “have” to be in front of the camera, besides our clients and people we work with. Maybe you technically don’t “have” to, but it does help generate business if you’re a business owner, gain more clients and also helps with marketing connections. It’s almost as if social media platforms not only have become our portfolios but also become our references, photo inspo’s and then … Lastly, a way to communicate.
So yeah; the “pressure” is a bit on; especially if you have PCOS. If you feel like PCOS has either affected your actual appearance such as the acne, weight gain or even mental/emotional state, like anxiety and or depression, social media; unfortunately doesn’t help. The world of social media has become a bit judgmental or maybe always has been. Judgement’s on beauty bloggers or beauty industry folk having to “look” perfect or now looking too perfect is wrong too. Is this right? No way! But does it happen? Why even lie to you guys? It does, but you CAN’T allow that to discourage you! Your PCOS condition does not DEFINE you and neither does what people say about you.
PCOS is just another challenge you have to face (like I’m sure you’ve conquered with many other challenges in your life) and finding solutions that work best for you!
Temporary Solutions that work!
But first let’s look at a quick scenario.
Let’s say you’re a makeup artist/beauty blogger, & you just received a new shadow palette that you were able to snatch up although it quickly became been sold out (the hype is real) ? Ahhh super exciting!!! I know this feeling oh too well! Naturally, you go straight to taking off your current makeup and start fresh because duhhhh you wanna to play with it, test it, do some fun looks etc!
🧐 I get it!
Finished up your glam; and boo boo you are looking super fresh! Nose snatched, brows fleeked, highlight strobing to the glow gawdssss … but you still can see the texture of breakout that’s going on your right cheek or maybe into your jawline and neck. But remember that this palette mega hype? So why not share it to your social media? Ohh you’re a little bit self conscious about the acne… I get it.
No BOO BOO! Do what YOU gotta do!
◊ Slap on a filter bae!! Instagram has great filters now! There’s now some that just smooth your skin and don’t enhance your eyes with extra lashes, freckles or etc! BUT you can always go Tan-KiraKira ohhhhh I love it ha!
◊ That doesn’t work for you?! Go to SNAPCHAT ! You don’t even have to use a filter just swipe right for the smoothing effect! Byeeee texture!
◊ What about a good resolution photo? Use FaceTune2! Smooth it away!! Literally Facetune2 has the simplest form of going into just the areas you want to smooth out without having to blur your whole entire face like other apps do! You can also use it to define areas too! Check out some videos on youtube soooo many bloggers and photo editors have great facetune tutorials.
◊ Hair loss trick: Fill it in with eye-shadow but you also can always use hair fibers to give the illusion of fuller hair!
◊ Lastly: Lighting!! If you want that skin to look extra great, lighting is key! Make sure not only to have a good window but also have lights to point directly to the affected areas so there’s no shadows enhancing the texture. 😉
Listen… in the beauty industry; there’s always going to be people that talk regardlesssss!
If you’re too smoothed & powdered, too textured, & or etc! If using a filter makes you feel better,then do it! If you want to smooth away your texture or lighten your darkened areas with an app, then do it! If you want to post without any filter or smoothing!? THEN Do it!
If you allow your personal movements to go based on what others may or may not say; you won’t grow, especially not in this industry.
This is the first part of dealing with PCOS is acceptance.
Accepting that you have PCOS and that it’s a condition you have to deal with for the rest of your life.
Accepting that you may do things differently than most makeup artists or beauty bloggers.
That is OK!
And whatever it is, that you have to do to make you feel better throughout your journey do it! Wether, it’s makeup, self-love talks, online filters, botox, yoga… whatever! At the end of the day, this is your life! Do you!
Longtime Solutions and Lifestyle Changes:
While those were good temp quick fixes; PCOS is a medical condition and like I said before, I am no doctor but throughout the years I’ve been able to basically troubleshoot my own body to see what works and what doesn’t.
First off you’ll have to accept that you will have to make some serious lifestyle changes if you want your condition to not worsen or lead to other health conditions or complications.
There’s not going to be short cuts here; it’s your health on the line here. Your doctor will recommend some certain medications and/or even suggest a diet. If your doctor doesn’t have good nutrition knowledge background he/she may just give you a basic “normal” low fat diet. It’s OK to question your doctor (he/she is human too), make sure that diet is actually good for your PCOS condition; again it’s your health.
Water needs to become your best friend if it isn’t already. Water is a challenge for me because I am (not was) addicted to soda and soft drinks. A good mental trick for me; buying and ordering “carbonated water” when I’m out or working on set. The bubbles in the carbonated water help with the “feeling” of drinking a soda, and they’re also flavored ones too which really help out when you’re not a water fan!
Diet also has to change, SORRY in advance!What about if you’re not overweight and have PCOS? Yep! You too!
The diet has/should to change because of the way PCOS affects the production of insulin in the body. This may won’t necessarily make you gain weight, but it can definitely affect your pancreas in the long term. This means you should really watch your sugar intake. This does not only mean watching your cookies, cake batter, candy and chocolate intake, but also starches and carbohydrates (white potatoes, bread, white rice etc) too.
Also keep in mind that women that have PCOS also produce higher levels of testosterone causing many problems. Again I’m no doctor but after many back-and-forth diets throughout 15 years; South Beach diet, liquid-based diets, keto diet (which is super popular and did aid me in losing weight but I’m mega against for my own personal reasons); I personally have stopped consuming ANY foods that may contain extra hormones my body really doesn’t need (if anything I needed more estrogen so soy haha see what I did there – wasn’t a bad thing per say). Most hormone filled foods are found in animal products and animals by products like cheese and dairy (sucks I know, but it’s the truth).
Now back on a 100% Plant Based Vegan (I did stop for almost a year) 4 years & the only complaint I ever had was and the only reason I stopped for a year; I was getting too skinny for my own personal liking (so vain I know; but my truth). In those 4 years, I NEVER did miss one menstrual cycle period nor did I have to take birth control to regulate it during my menstrual cycle. My doctor stated after 2 years, he didn’t even know if I had PCOS anymore?!? Whaaatttttt!!! My blood work was perfect! My vitamins were great! I actually was above average on my B-2 and B-12! INSANE!
Once I stopped my plant based diet, I applied a normal whatever “I wanted to eat diet” for like 5 months and “vegetarian“ for 7 months. Not only did I gain weight; 25 pounds to be exact. My acne flare-ups were/are terrible. I had to get back on birth control; my hormones had gone back to where they were many years ago but luckily my sugar is still regulated.
Lesson learned. I’m back to a vegan diet for a month now, and so far so good!
If you can’t go VEGAN? It’s all good! There’s also other diets. Although keto has gotten a lot of love recently, this kind of diet causes insulin resistance if not done properly. It’s important to understand KETO is not “no carbs” for months. This can cause a serious health issue in the future. Also, people believe KETO is going “ham” on all the meat protein you want; also a myth because that can cause some serious health heart related issues too.
The most important thing when applying a diet to PCOS is to try your hardest to eat low in fat, low in sugars and of course low in salt too.
* carbs are not bad; choosing adequate good simple and or complex carbs are necessary for energy in the body.
Here’s a quick simple way to start making some easy changes.
Simply start changing any food items in your kitchen that may be “white”.
Sprouted Grain Bread > White Bread
Organic Brown Jasmine Rice > White Rice
Veggie Straws > Potato Chips
Cashew Milk > Cow Milk
Edamame Spaghetti/Almond Flour Pasta > White Pasta
Raw Cane Sugar > White Sugar
Red Potatoes > White Potatoes
I know dealing with PCOS can be frustrating; but you gotta be strong or try to be! Tell yourself beautiful things! Apply some makeup when you’re feeling down! Be your own best friend! Find other ladies that have PCOS! They understand!
But importantly love yourself so hard nothing; not even PCOS can rock you boo!
I hope this information is useful! If you don’t have a PCOS friend?! I totally can be! Reach out xoxo!
Sending you all lots of love and tons of glow your way!!