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Self-Diagnosis Was The Only Thing That Could Save My Skin

Many of us may be used to typing in ‘[insert product name] on dark skin’ in an attempt to find out what that lipstick, hair colour or jewellery would look like on us. We are accustomed to a world where whiteness is the human default, so extra effort is required, particularly on the part of Black women, to find our ‘normal’. This wasn’t just the case for which shade of red lipstick would suit my skin tone, but also what I needed to do to figure out what was going on with my skin after 22 years.

According to my parents, I was born early with extremely dry and flaky skin as some babies are, but this did not improve and continued to deteriorate with time. In the photos I have of my childhood, I can see the discolouration on my body, a reminder of the burden I have only recently been able to lift. Naturally, the first steps in solving my skin issues were through the NHS, where I was given creams to alleviate the cracking, dry and sometimes weeping skin. My parents were told I had eczema.