Category Archives: skincare

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:

IMG_4655

HOORAY

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*

dealing with unhappy skin: Retin-A + clindamycin review

I have always had problematic skin. Nothing too horrible, but with the exception of my time with the Mirena IUD, my skin has never been 100% clear. Most of the time I will have a handful of blemishes, coupled with constantly uneven skin texture and a mottled tone from the scars. It’s annoying and kind of gross. Over the past six months, my skin has taken on all sorts of awesome changes, so I finally made my first appointment with a dermatologist. He prescribed four different meds for me, two of which are specifically for mild acne. (The other two are for a sudden onset of eczema. WTF skin, I hate you.)

I have been using this combo for just under two months now. The first day was impressive – my skin immediately felt smoother. After that, shit went crazy. Not in a bad way, but I never really knew what to expect. First, my skin “purged,” meaning that a lot of zits popped up. My skin was incredibly red and it almost looked like I had hives on parts of my face. My skin became even more sensitive to product than usual. Applying the clindamycin twice daily was excruciating. It felt like I was stabbing needles into every pore. The peeling started a few days later.

I kept my face makeup free for the first week. Day 6, I attempted to apply the foundation I had been wearing without issue (note: “without issue” meaning I had no adverse reactions on my skin… I actually kind of hated the stuff as far as coverage/look goes).  It burned like CRAZY. I put the makeup on at work, which was so stupid, because I had no face cleanser. My face has always been intolerant of regular soap, so I just wound up washing it off as best I could with plain water. My face was tender and raw the rest of the day.

The peeling came and went over the next few weeks, and I could see improvement in my acne. What does pop up is very small and only lasts a day or two. There are days when the peeling is really bad.  One day, it got to the point that I felt the need to scrub it off. I was too harsh with my tender skin and wound up having a significant open, raw area on my chin for a few days. Super great, let me tell you. At the 6-week checkup, my dermatologist told me I’d see even better results in six months, so I’ll post another update then. Maybe. If I remember. Ha.

The absolute best products I have found for keeping my tender skin happy:

Avene Cleanance Soapless Gel Cleanser: This shit is amazing. I will buy this product until I die, unless they stop making it, immediately after which I will die. After I wash with this, my skin is  smooth, matte, and perfectly clean. And a little bit goes SUCH a long way. I use between a pea and dime sized amount, depending on if I have makeup to remove or not, and how lazy I am (always).

Thayer Witch Hazel Rose Water AF Toner: Nothing too exciting here. Alcohol free toner, refreshing without burning. It even moisturizes a bit.

CeraVe AM Moisturizer with SPF30: Again, this is about as boring of a product as you can buy, but it does what it is supposed to. It’s a tad bit thick and smells like sunscreen, but it gets the job done.

 

One thing I have not found is the best foundation for my skin. I am pale with chameleon skin; no one shade has been able to match in all light (sunlight, fluorescent, my bathroom). Is this a common thing, or am I crazy? Well, we all know I’m crazy. But does anyone else have this issue and any suggestions to deal with it? I’ve been dying to feel “put together” with my makeup on, and nothing has done the trick lately. Help!