I’ve seen many things since I’ve landed in Los Angeles: grown men walking bengal cats and brown bunnies on a leash, women buying produce wearing scraps that give the suggestion of clothing, couples taking a taxi to their parked cars. I’ve been warned that I live in a place where the land may never settle; the threat of tectonic plates shifting is a constant. A place where to which people emigrate from the east, seduced by palm trees, warm weather, chakra cleanses, and a turbulent history. In California, all conversations converge to that of water–parched lawns and weeklies that bullet out all the ways in which one could conserve, save.
I knew what I was getting into–a temperate city without seasons, a drought, a way of life that existed without subways, and the conservative politics. However, very few people talked about a minor, yet constant discomfort–what happens to your skin.
Having had the luxury of drinking water straight from the tap, I remember my first few days here, of wincing from the tap’s tinny taste. Now drinking requires filters, a water system. Over the course of a few weeks I started to see demonstrable changes in my skin. I burned easily (I now wear a sunscreen with zinc, every day). And even after showering, I rarely felt clean, rather I felt as if there existed a thin layer of something on my skin, a film I couldn’t rub off. I broke out. EVERYWHERE. Shoulders, back, chest, face. Bumps I haven’t seen since I was a teenager now blanketing my skin.
Naturally, I freaked out. I fired off emails to recent transplants, commiserated with my neighbor who suffered the same plight since she moved from New York, and took to the internet…where there was nothing. I spent hours trying various keyword searches; I paged through acne forums and Los Angeles Yelp pages riddled with bad jokes and drought complaints. Amidst the noise, I found these helpful articles. I discovered the difference between hard and soft water, how to test for hard water, and I’ve since installed a shower filter. I bring a change of clothes to my workouts, because even though most of the classes I take are within a ten-minute walking distance from my house, I worry about sweat and bacteria clogging my pores. I’m also trying different products in an effort to modify my routine because what might have worked in New York is proving disastrous in Los Angeles. Yesterday, I indulged in an incredible clarifying facial, an experience which reminded me of an excavation, but I look a lot better after having Body Deli products all over my skin. I’m also test-driving several facial cleansers that don’t require water–I’ll keep you posted.
Everyone tells me that it’ll take my body up to six weeks to adjust, but one of my friends said it took her two dermatologists, a change in birth control, and a year to get back to where she was. Has anyone moved cities and had similar skin problems? Tell me everything.