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The comment I hear the most after I tell someone I have RA is “You’re ill? But you look so healthy!”. I know. If you look at me, you would never think I am fighting an autoimmune disease. I spent a year hiding the fact I had Rheumatoid Arthritis. When I started telling people. It always came as a surprise. I loved that.

When I first started all my medications, I broke out, my skin paled, dried out, oiled out, my eyes burned, my hands cracked, my hair fell out and lost its shine. I was a mess. I looked ill. I hated it. I couldn’t keep it from work, as hard as I tried, but they could tell there was a change.

I’ve always prided myself on my health, except for the occasional flu or allergy I was always healthy. So, one day when I looked in the mirror and I saw that I looked sick I knew something had to change. I embarked on a mission to look healthy and I knew it started with my skincare.

I realized that the first thing I needed to do was start wearing sunscreen. I know, I know, I should have been wearing sunscreen already. It’s never too late to start. I don’t know if there is actual science behind this but I found that within weeks of wearing sunscreen on every exposed part of my body, my skin seemed to repair itself more quickly. I like to think that it’s because when I am not wearing protection my skin has to protect and repair. With the addition of sunscreen, my skin only needs to repair. With sunscreen alone, my skin already looked healthier.

My favorites: Neutrogena Ultimate Sport, La Roche-Posay Anthelios 50 Mineral Tinted Ultra Light Sunscreen Fluid, La Roche-Posay Anthelios 60 Melt-In Sunscreen Milk.

Neutrogena and La Roche-Posay

I use La Roche-Posay only on my face when I know I will be outside for a long period of time. It is expensive so I want it to last for the entire summer months. I love Neutrogena for my body and I am a huge fan of their spray sunscreens as well. I found that the Ultimate Sport brand has a better consistency and doesn’t leave a white cast like the Ultra Sheer does. As an daily facial moisturizer I use Aveeno Positively Radiant Daily Moisturizer SPF 15. I have darker skin and I found that the added soy complex has evened out any subtle hyperpigmentation I had from the years of not wearing sunscreen.

Aveeno, No7, St. Ives

Depending on my shower schedule, instead of re-applying the Aveeno lotion, I may use Boots UK brand “No7” – Protect & Perfect Day Cream SPF 15. I don’t use it every day because I find it a little greasy, but I only need a little bit to cover my entire face and neck.   During the day when I am inside or before bed I slather on non-SPF lotions like it’s my second job. My favorites: c.Booth Egyptian Argan Oil Body Butter, Organix hydrating Moroccan Argan Oil Lotion, and Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Lotion.

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Before bed, after my nightly face-washing routine, I slather on a thin layer of Nivea Soft. I absolutely love the consistency of this. It warms right down to an oil in my hands and I can pat it onto my skin. This was my splurge of the year but I absolutely adore the La Mer The Eye Concentrate. I know I can’t see the anti-aging properties of the cream right now but it is the only cream that doesn’t break me out around the eyes. That’s right, my skin is so oily that I sometimes break out right under my eyes. I slather on Dior Crème de Rose Smoothing Plumping Lip Balm with Aquaphor right on top. Aquaphor is one of those amazing miracle products that everyone talks about. I know why. It really works.

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I eliminate this one step during the summer because my skin is so oily, but during the colder months of the year I will gently apply Vaseline (after my nightly moisturizer) under my eyes, around the corners of my nose, across my forehead and on the smile lines around my lips.

Within weeks of starting this routine, which I have spent months perfecting, I noticed a huge change in the condition of my skin. Even when during a flare, I could hide it better because I looked healthy. My skin was glowing and had gotten most of its color and smoothness back. Nobody would guess that my immune system was trying to attack itself.

Hi, I’m Monica and I have RA.

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