Meet Kaleigh Fasanella
Name: Kaleigh Fasanella
Occupation: Freelance Beauty + Wellness Writer
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Skin Condition: Netherton Syndrome, a rare form of Ichthyosis
I feel like people with skin conditions often have a one-line explanation that they use to explain their skin to others. Tell us yours.
That's a great point! Admittedly, it's often easier for me to just say it's a condition similar to eczema and psoriasis because Netherton's is so rare and often never heard of. It makes it more palettable for people to understand and takes some of the pressure off of me to explain all the idiosyncrasies of my condition, so that's usually my fall-back. If I'm talking to someone in the medical field who's really interested, I give them some of the details, such as: My skin turns over at a hyper-accelerated rate so I have to exfoliate once, sometimes twice a day. It's fun stuff haha.
What are you up to in life right now?
For the past two-plus years since moving to New York City, I was working in media at Teen Vogue and then Allure as an associate digital editor. Both of them were amazing, whirlwind experiences that I learned and gained so much from, but I recently decided to go freelance and I think it's the best move I could've made for where I'm at right now. Truthfully, I've struggled with my skin A LOT since moving to the city, from getting hives when I shower, to aggressive dryness that doesn't quit, and so on. Now, because I don't have to go to an office every day and don't have set hours all the time (some days I still do), it gives me way more time to take care of myself the way that I really want and need to. So I'm taking the extra time and flexibility I have to do things like go to yoga, and do more fresh food shopping and cooking, stuff like that. I was always so tired before, so this feels right for me. At least for now. Oh yeah, and I just got back from Thailand!!! It was the best ever.
Sometimes I feel that the cosmetic skincare craze isn't for people like us. We have to be so careful about the products that we use, and our skin is never going to look dewy or glow-y or meet the cultural standard of 'good' skin.
Ah, I have to argue this one a little! Something that always astonishes me is when people tell me I have beautiful skin, but it does happen somewhat regularly and I owe it ALL to the skincare and makeup products I use. That being said, I am super careful to avoid products with chemicals, fragrances, or any harsh ingredients, and mostly stick to organic and all-natural. The one major thing I swear by for faking that dewy or glow-y look is highlighter. Some of you might be like, what?! But hear me out. RMS's organic highlighters are beyond lovely, natural, and good for the skin, and I get compliments every single time I wear them. This quad in particular is my life — it lasts crazy-long, never irritates my skin, and always gives me the effect I want, which is simply healthy skin. I dab a few dots on the tops of my cheekbones, and that's that.
How do you own your skin condition while covering beauty?
I won't lie, it's been tough at times, especially being surrounded by all these seemingly perfect beauty editors, many of whom understandably can't fathom what it's like to have a rare condition like mine. But I think we are moving in a direction where beauty is becoming quite a bit more inclusive, and I was very lucky to work at Allure because this was the heart of their ethos. We talked about skin acceptance all the time, and highlighted people with everything from cellulite to stretch marks and vitiligo. Covering beauty in that kind of envrionment made it a lot easier, for sure. But as far as actually owning my condition, I guess I just never tried to hide it or be anyone but be, even when it felt hard. For instance, this piece was a little hard for me because I'm so red, and I knew readers would notice that, but it didn't stop me from publishing it because I knew it was a fun story that would do well — and it did.
Are there particular products or practices you've discovered that work well for your skin?
Hmm, as far as products go, I love coconut oil, jojoba oil, urea cream, and some form of petroleum-based ointment to lock everything in when I'm really dry. For my face, I exfoliate daily using a hydrating gel cleanser (like this one or this one) with my Zoe Qyksonic, which *is* pricy but I know there are similar affordable options on the market, too. Oh and I swear by Weleda's products, especially their Skin Food, which has saved me time and time again.
In terms of practicies, aside from exfoliating every day and staying moisturized, I just try to be as healthy as I can without totally depriving myself of the things I love. Fruits and veggies and certain supplements can help you stay hydrated from the inside-out, so I'm definitely trying to be better about getting those in as much as possible. But when I want pizza and beer, I'm gonna go ahead and have it 100 percent because life is just too short to say no.
Where can we keep up with you?
Follow me on Instagram, I'd love that! It's definitely where I'm most active, so let's connect and be friends. :) My handle is @kaleighfaz.