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.)
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.
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.
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:
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*