Lavinia is a YouTuber and skin-positive influencer.
“When I was 13 or 14, I started doing makeup reviews. I have always adored makeup. When I was super young, I would steal makeup from my mom. But around 13, I started getting really bad acne. I didn’t think too much about it, but I knew that I didn’t like it because when I looked in the mirror, I had to see it. Also, I knew other people could see it.”
“Family and friends started recommending different things to me, and I was trying different cleansers like Clean n Clear and Proactive to try and fix it. I tried home remedies, homemade skincare, and different things. At the time, my acne was something that really bothered me, and I tried to find different things to work for me. I kept doing YouTube stuff with makeup, but I started trying to take care of my skin more because I didn’t like the way my skin looked under makeup. When I applied makeup, I could still see acne under it. It made me not even want to put on makeup anymore. When corona started, I was home every day, and I started filming more. I started researching skincare more, and as a chemical engineer student, it really interested me to see the new innovations about skincare. From there on, I started posting skincare reviews like crazy, and something really positive came from this. I was able to connect with people who were skin positive as well, and that really helped me.”
Lavinia explains some of the difficult experiences that have actually helped her understand her skin.
“Back in 2019, I remember that my acne was so painful, and I was bawling my eyes out. I just felt like it was never going to go away. I felt like I was never going to be able to look in the mirror and not see all of that. At that point, I didn’t even like applying my makeup because I would see all of these people on social media that had perfectly smooth skin after applying makeup. But when I applied makeup, I had all of this texture and scarring underneath. I grew up watching YouTube, and it was hard seeing makeup gurus with perfect skin. When I was learning how to execute looks, I would see how their skin looked so smooth, and I was like - “oh, my gosh...”
“I know now that a lot of pictures is edited online, but I didn’t quite realize this before. I had really textured skin, and that was what I felt pressured to focus on. I think everyone experiences that pressure, and so I knew it was important to showcase my skin behind makeup. A couple of months ago, I posted a video on how makeup looks behind natural light versus a ring light. A lot of people made comments, and were like - “oh, my gosh, I never knew how lighting could make influencers’ skin look so smooth!” So, after that response, I started making content that shows what real skin looks like. I even have to remind myself that I don’t have to have perfect skin. It’s definitely been a learning process, but by showing other people that, I’ve also helped myself.”
Although I feel like I’ve become somewhat of a role model on YouTube for skin positivity, there have been times where I’ve cried after looking at the mirror. I used to use makeup as a cover-up for many years, but because I knew how my skin looked beneath, it didn’t feel like one.
Makeup never really felt like a cover-up because I didn’t feel beautiful. That’s why I think it’s so important to realize that we can make our own beauty standards. We don’t have to follow those perfect ones on social media. Every time I go on my phone, I have to make sure that I’m not comparing myself to others, but it’s really hard when there are all of these people that don’t look like you.
Lavinia describes the first time she truly felt excluded from ideals around beauty.
“I remember the first pimple I got - it was like a giant cyst in the middle of my cheek, and I was like - “what the heck is this???” I knew that people got acne, and some of my friends had acne, but they would always just get the smalls surface acne. With every single thing that I tried, I got a new break out and a new break out. It got worse and worse, until one day I just accepted like - “okay, I have acne, and this is how it is.” But with this realization, I kind of receded into denial. I felt very determined to think of myself as someone who didn’t have acne. I just felt like if I didn’t say it - maybe it wouldn’t be true. As I got older though, I was like - “it is what it is,” and I turned it into something positive.”
Lavinia says, “I just wanted to figure out how to understand my skin. That’s when I got into skincare, and that really helped change my perspective as opposed to just being interested in makeup. Skincare exists anyway because your skin naturally goes through changes and sometimes needs support. I’ve learned this. For example, I still get acne. And because I’m a student right now, sometimes I get stressed. So, I might get a pimple or hormonal things. Likewise, I can’t be so harsh on my body because acne is so normal. Skincare in comparison to makeup really helped me realize that.”
“I have a very different outlook on acne since I understand my skin more. When I had a breakout during the spring because of my finals, I was just like - “oh, I must be super stressed.” I just handled my mentality around it. That’s important to do because sometimes acne can be such an emotional process. I used to take progress pictures of my skin, but as look back at those pictures, I think that I looked defeated. I didn’t understand, my skin, my body, or what it needed at the time. Having acne has allowed me to care for my body more. Sometimes I still struggle, but then I remember how acne is just one thing. Literally, everyone deals with some type of insecurity. So, if you’re struggling with having acne, you are not alone. Because when it comes to dealing with a perceived insecurity, no one is alone.”
“That’s why I’m not as concerned as I used to be when it comes to covering up my skin. I would rather let my skin show through a bit and breathe because I’ve found that hiding myself away really isn’t worth it. Why should I? I’m not the only one. So, I still love glam makeup, but I’ve really changed my perspective on how I view my skin and on what it means to be authentic.”
@laviniarusandaYouTube: Lavinia Rusanda