Category Archives: nails

manic monday: hot mess follow up

Once upon a time I promised I would post updates on various skin and beauty products I am trying. It always makes me crazy when bloggers say they will follow up on something and then don’t ever mention that thing again. Spoiler alert: all of the products came with mostly happy endings. Come into my parlor, said the manic to the sane, and we shall kill many birds with one blog post.

From the top now!

Retin-A and clindamycin 
These prescriptions are equal parts blessing and curse. For my tenderest of skinses, I found myself often taking breaks that gradually extended until I quit using them both entirely. While it was recommended that I continue to use Retin-A for both its anti-aging and anti-acne properties, its sole purpose of constantly sloughing off the top layer of skin made for much flakiness. Certain areas were near constantly tender to the touch, and going without sunscreen was asking for the mask of the red death. (Not that one should ever go without sunscreen, but I was practically vampiric with my ramped-up sensitivity to sunlight.) I spent many weeks – off and on over the course of about 6 months – in flaky, tender misery. As I mentioned in the first post, I dealt with purging on top of it all, so my acne seemed to get worse for quite a while.

Then one day it started working. Like, really working. My pores were noticeably smaller. Any zits that appeared were tiny, barely noticeable. It was still occasionally flaky, however, and that really bothered me, especially since I couldn’t scrub it off without raw open wounds on my face. Seriously, fucking ouch. I dropped toner from my daily(ish) routine and stuck with the soap-free gel cleanser and simple, SPF 30 moisturizer.

For Christmas, my sister-in-law gave me a homemade body scrub, made from coconut oil, peppermint oil, and sugar. Using it on my body made my skin feel like a baby’s. I had yet to find an adequate exfoliant for my face, so I thought, why not use this all-natural wondrousness? Wondrous it was. The sugar gently exfoliated the flaky dead skin cells away, and the coconut oil melted gently into my skin, a perfect moisturizer.

Except a couple weeks later, my chin broke out in one or two painful, cystic zits from my former skin nightmare. A little ‘net research led me to learn that coconut oil, if not the correct kind, can clog your pores. (Like all Internet research, there are many conflicting views on this. What I linked is a pretty simple explanation of comedogenic vs noncomedogenic products.) I then began to experiment with the simple oil cleansing method (OCM), instead, replacing my gel and moisturizer combo with a 1:9 part castor oil/grapeseed oil mix.

Holy. of fucking. holies. This is it, guys. After the chemical nightmare of Retin-A and pore-searing clindamycin, my skin is GLORIOUS. Soft and clear and glowy. I have used OCM since January and have yet to discover any problems with it. Honestly, though, without the purging of Retin-A I don’t think I would have gotten to this place. The chemical purging and natural nurturing combo has really worked.

Want to see a before and after? Oh god, the before is horrifying. But okay. (These are both cell images so I apologize for the less-than-stellar quality.)

Grump Master Flakes

Grump Master Flakes

See how blotchy and uneven that is? Not to mention the flakiness and angry red spots. Please ignore the messiest brows ever. By the way, this was the day mentioned in the previous post where I tried to wear makeup but it burned so much I had to wash it off with only water in the work bathroom. I felt so shitty all day long, if you couldn’t tell by the sheer joy writ all over my disgusting, painful face. I am kind of mad this picture exists, if not for the visual reminder of how truly awful my skin reacted. Let’s be real, guys – this is legit what my skin looked like, off and on, for months at a time.

slightly less grump

Now, onto the after…

See what I mean? I chose this picture with its crazy uneven lighting because you can see the silky-smoov better, particularly in my problem area (chin). I do have some shiny areas, but nothing a quick blot once a day doesn’t cure. I’ve also noticed my makeup applies smoother when I use OCM versus the gel cleanser. So many people have complimented my “glowy” skin. 

Enough! Let’s talk nails.

Nailtiques 2
Why am I showing all these awful gross pictures of myself on the Internet? Fuck. Whatever, y’all. Nailtiques works.  I wasn’t super consistent about using it at first, but once I got on a couple-week streak of applying it under every manicure (probably every 2 – 3 days), I really noticed a difference. My nails are stronger, longer, and prettier. Not that I had much to work with from the start… lest I remind you of those dark days, the most disgusting of nail days ever recorded:

Mmm, look at those disgusting cuticles.

How do I even have any friends.

But! I hath redeemeth myself…eth! Behold the beauty:



This is the first time, ever, that I have had consistently long nails (and those above are long enough for me – more than that drives me insane). When I was pregnant they were pretty sweet, but obviously that did not last.

Okay, that is probably enough of my babbling for one day. I’d love to hear some more stories about your own “beauty journeys” (corny), so spill it, people. Let’s connect. And let me see some of your disgusting befores so we can rejoice over the wonderful afters! Also so I don’t feel so gross and alone! *cries into chips*



I’m participating in a nail polish no-buy with a group of girls from a Facebook group, from October 15 until November 30th (or whenever everyone else is eliminated). At first I thought I’d kick ass, but it’s been a lot harder than I anticipated. The past few months I’d been acquiring polishes like crazy – especially with Zoyas finally hitting my Ulta (and its clearance rack). The China Glaze Wicked collection really called my name, too. I, however, have been good! Even with the suedes finally being sent out in the Julep Maven box! I skipped November. I have no idea how, because I wanted so many of them. What stopped me was realizing I’d be spending money on some polishes I didn’t want at all just to get the ones I did want. I figure, someone will eventually want to swap if I want them badly enough. Swapping is my saving grace.

Speaking of swapping, I’m in another Facebook group called Sisterhood of the Traveling Polish, and I am of course on the bottom of the list. It’s been torturous seeing all the beautiful colors being taken out of the box – but I know that there are some mysteries being put into the box, too. The box should be at my doorstep in a week or two.  I promise to share what I choose. 😉

Even though cosmetics aren’t included in the no-buy, I’m kind of forcing myself into a no-buy for everything that isn’t totally necessary. The Urban Decay 20% off sale was too tempting, though. I snagged Naked2 and a giant bottle of UDPP for $60, both of which I will use every single day. They arrived last week and I’ve been swooning over Naked2 ever since. Perfect collection of neutrals. I won’t share swatches or anything, because they are all over the internet, but I highly recommend it if you are in need of a good neutral eye palette. It’s super versatile for both simple and dramatic looks.

dat haul

Boring first EOTD look using Verve, Pistol, and Busted from Naked2. Also wearing UD Lip Junkie in Naked, which I now want in full-size.

Update on my Nailtiques treatment: on day 11 officially. I have not been diligent about daily application, though I did well the first five days. I had been sick and delirious for a couple of weeks, so remembering anything is a true accomplishment. After a few days I have noticed improvement in the strength of my nails, though they haven’t grown much obviously. I couldn’t stand bare nails any longer, so I caved and played with my new Zoya. Lucky for the treatment I get bored quicker than a toddler.

First post-Nailtiques NOTD: Zoya Meg, stamped with Color Club Worth the Risque using some Cheeky XL plate. I also added some hex glitters from a Spoiled polish. Hello messy cuticles!

That’s enough acquiring for now, and I will end this boring post. Consumerism! I has it!

hot mess week 2012

This week has been one of those. Sunday I woke up with some sort of fever/stomach virus that plagued me until I finally went to the doctor yesterday. Fortunately Monday was a holiday for me, so I was able to rest up, but I still needed to take most of Tuesday and Wednesday off. Meaning, of course, that all this week –  including today – I have rocked leggings and loose things, no makeup, chipped and broken nails, lazy buns, and the same grey headband.

Broken nails! Let’s talk about them. My nails have always been my problem children. The only time they’ve been really awesome is when I was pregnant, and they grew long and strong. Otherwise, they suck. I constantly mess with them, whether it’s absently chewing on cuticles or picking at polish. I get really frustrated with myself when I notice a nail breaking right at the quick, because it means that A) I’ll have to trim all of my nails really short so I don’t go insane and B) that nail will hurt and look stupid until it grows a little.  I have sort of small nails to begin with, so when they’re short I think they make my fingers look stubby and gross.
One day while browsing around CVS, I noticed the line of Nailtiques products. After some brief research, I thought it might be a good start to getting my nails nice and healthy. I had a coupon for 20% off at Ulta, so I stopped in there yesterday and bought the smaller bottle of Nailtiques Formula 2.

So here’s day one, freshly trimmed and  filed, my gross nails after my first application:


So let me apologize for the state of my cuticles, the yellowing, the dog hair, and the leftover Orly Liquid Vinyl. That shit sticks. The yellowing is from a lime green  Sinful Colors polish (I can’t remember the name) that I used over a month ago. I guess I can’t really complain about staining when the polish was 99 cents. Rambling aside, I’ll update with any results.

In other nail news, I picked up Zoya’s Lotus and Meg on sale at Ulta. How do I love thee, Ulta clearance?! So many gorgeous polishes with no home. Carly was on the shelf, too, and I put it back with remorse… I may go back and pick it up, if my husband doesn’t kill me first. Scrangie’s swatches are making the want even worse. Then there’s the Urban Decay Friends and Family sale, too. My wallet. It cries.