How I’ve Been Treating My Acne

If you’ve been following my blog for a while now, you’re familiar with my acne-prone, sensitive, oily skin. I feel like I’ve tried an endless flood of skincare regimens from the drugstore, from high-end brands, from gimmicky infomercials (cough, Proactiv). I’ve tried exercising more often, drinking more water, getting more sleep, hormonal birth control, a cocktail of antibiotics and a handful of prescription topicals. (Haven’t tried that viral charcoal face mask, though, and don’t count on that ever happening) If you’ve dealt with stubborn acne before, you can understand that the struggle is real. I’ve spent a crazy amount of time and money trying to feel less insecure about my skin, an unsuccessful endeavor until recently.

Moving to Okinawa was not kind to my skin – I don’t know if it was the stress of an international move, adjusting to the climate or both, but my skin really did not like moving here! The photo on the left was taken in late November and the photo on the right was taken in March of this year. Crazy, right??? I feel like I may be jinxing myself just by posting this. If you can believe it, I actually reduced my skincare regimen to just THREE steps 😱 I know. You’re probably thinking I’m about to go multi-level marketing on you (I’m not) or that it’s unrealistic given the transformation of my skin, but it’s the real deal. I do occasionally add steps as needed, like masks or a night cream, depending on my skin’s condition, but I try to keep it simple on a daily basis.

  1. Wash // Origins Checks and Balances Frothy Face Wash // $22 @ Origins
    • I use this with my Clarisonic at night and usually skip this step in the morning and go straight to toner.
    • My skin has never felt dry or tight while using this cleanser. I’m low-key obsessed.
  2. Tone // The Body Shop Pomegranate Invigorating Toner // $15.50 @ The Body Shop
    • This toner surprisingly feels moisturizing and removes any impurities my cleanser didn’t wash away. Bonus: it smells good.
  3. Moisturize + Treat // This step consists of the following two products combined:
    • Holika Holika 99% Aloe Soothing Gel // $8 from Amazon
      • I got this for free with other Holika Holika purchases while in Korea, but you can find it on Amazon and MemeBox for a reasonable price!
    • Plant Therapy Zit Fighter Synergy // $15 @ Plant Therapy
      • I mentioned this in my last blog!
      • This is an undiluted essential oil blend of geranium bourbon, pink grapefruit, cedarwood deodara, peppermint, rosemary, Roman chamomile. You must dilute it to use it safely!

I emptied the entire tube of aloe gel into a separate container and added 10-15 drops of the essential oil blend. I apply it every morning and evening with a cotton ball and voila! My skin has never been clearer or more balanced. I started to see results within a few days of using the Zit Fighter Synergy and I’m so grateful that I took a chance on it after reading reviews. It has a bit of a strong smell and will make your eyes water if you apply it too close to the eye area, but I don’t mind the odor. And I can handle the occasional accidental eye stinging if my skin looks this fab all the time! I feel much more comfortable wearing BB cream or even going foundation-free than I ever have before. The aloe/oil combo doesn’t make me oily, either. I actually feel like it balances my skin and makes it less oily! I’ve also noticed that my skin redness has been significantly reduced as well. After 12 years of dealing with acne, I’m incredibly thankful for a break.

I should also add that I got a shower head filter, which I also believe helped with the rapid reduction of my acne. I got the Zit Fighter Synergy and the filter on the same mail day, and it was the start of a beautiful friendship 😅 I purchased the CaptainEco 8-Step Advanced Shower Filter from Amazon for $30 and highly recommend it if your household water is treated with chlorine. It’s helped my skin and my hair.

I still have occasional minor blemishes, but the majority of the marks remaining on my face are scars. I recently picked up Boots Vitamin C Smoothing Serum (sadly only available in Thailand, so I’ll try not to get too attached to it!) in hopes it might help fade them. If you have recommendations for scar-fading skin care products, please let me know in the comments!

Wishing you well,

xx Shelbie

 

Plant Therapy Haul

Happy Fri-YAY!

As we spring into Spring, I’ve decided to spend more time making our home feel like an inviting, comfortable, and restful space. Over the next month or so, I plan to eliminate unnecessary clothes and shoes from our closets, purge our pantry of old food, and rearrange some furniture. I also want to stop burning candles and wax melts, which cover up household smells (read: I have a dog) with a strong fragrance. Diffusers are relaxing to watch, and the scents don’t give me headaches or leave the air feeling stuffy.

My husband got me an adorable wooden diffuser as a gift, and it’s been dormant for the last few months. I’ve been burning candles and wax melts, but diffusing gives that “clean air” feeling rather than a strong artificial fragrance. I wouldn’t say I’m sold on the essential oil lifestyle, but I do use and enjoy them.

I buy pretty much exclusively from Plant Therapy for several reasons: they have great customer service, fast shipping, quality oils, reasonable prices, transparent testing, and certified aromatherapists. I don’t support Young Living or DoTerra on the basis of their misleading business practices (therapeutic grade means nothing and neither does seed to seal 😱) and lack of credible consultants. Anyone can invest money and become a consultant for those companies, meaning they aren’t required by DoTerra or Young Living to be certified aromatherapists or experts on the safe use of essential oils. As a result, consultants have given out incredibly dangerous and unsafe advice, something I experienced firsthand from a DoTerra consultant. I strongly encourage you to research any company you buy essential oils from in depth, because it’s a relatively unregulated market and it’s hard to make sure you’re buying unadulterated and reasonably priced oils no matter where you buy. I personally love Plant Therapy, but Mountain Rose Herbs and Edens Garden are also companies I trust.

Since I’m trying to stray away from candles/wax melting, I bought a handful of new oils to use and diffuse this spring! Previously, I had pretty much only diffused lavender. I’m most excited to diffuse the Worry Free Synergy, which smells so incredibly amazing and inviting. I’ve also got a blog in the works about the Zit Fighter Synergy specifically (hint: it’s amazing!).

  • Let It Go Synergy // $11.95 // tangerine, ylang ylang, patchouli, sweet orange, blue tansy
  • Worry Free Synergy // $14.95 // lavender, marjoram, ylang ylang, sandalwood, vanilla CO2, roman chamomile
  • Zit Fighter Synergy // $14.99 // geranium bourbon, pink grapefruit, cedar wood deodars, peppermint, rosemary, roman chamomile
  • Citrus Burst Synergy // $7.95 // grapefruit, lemon, lime, may chang, mandarin, sweet orange
  • Lucky Synergy // limited edition // bergamot, steam distilled lime, spearmint


What are your favorite essential oil blends/companies to buy from and why? Let me know in the comments!

Much love,

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Try It Tuesday | I Dyed My Birkenstocks

Three years ago, I bought my first pair of Birkenstock sandals—the Granada style in “Tobacco Brown.” I was in love with those shoes…until the oiled leather deteriorated and they looked weirdly flesh toned against my fair complexion. Birkenstocks are a classic shoe, one that I think should be in everyone’s closet. They’re comfortable, supportive, and the perfect casual summer (or winter—I’d be lying if I said I’ve never worn mine with wool socks like the dirtbag hippie I am) sandal. Don’t knock them until you try them. And the soft footbed is worth the extra money.

Alas, my ride or die relationship with my Granadas began to fade over the last year. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’re probably aware of my former addiction to fake tanning (the UV ray-less kind). I’ve given it up since living in Okinawa, because my beloved Fake Bake Flawless can’t be delivered due to shipping restrictions. As a result, I’ve been trying to embrace my fair, yellow-undertoned skin—which unfortunately looks really weird against the pale tobacco hued leather of my Birkenstocks, so I stopped wearing them.

I’m not one to toss out a $135 pair of sandals, though, so I did some thinking. Can you dye leather/suede at home? I took to Google and found some blogs about dyeing suede shoes, although none specific to Birkenstocks. A few mentioned a product called Fiebing’s Suede Dye, available on Amazon. Naturally, I impulse bought it. (Eight months ago…it’s taken me this long to gather the courage to follow through with this project!) Photo reviews on Amazon were super helpful, and saved me from buying a really icky shade of brown. I highly recommend going through each shade available and trying to find photo reviews to get a true representation of how the color takes. It’s also really important to remember that whatever dye you choose will look different depending on what the starting shade of your shoes are. Don’t expect cool-toned blue leather to take a warm-brown dye and look like my end result. I settled on “Medium Brown” because it was the closest to the Birkenstock shade “Habana,” my goal color.

Let’s talk about the rest of the supplies you’ll need: a workspace, preferably covered in newspaper or something you don’t mind permanently staining; nitrile disposable gloves (the dye will stain your hands…forever); painter’s tape; an old toothbrush; shoes.

birkies copy

The first step is to cover any surface you aren’t dyeing with painter’s tape to protect it. At first I almost considered only covering the footbed with painter’s tape, but I’m really glad I wrapped the whole shoe. The dye has a watery consistency and dripped everywhere. So keep that in mind when you’re wrapping your shoes—I know some people like to dye the sole along with the shoe, but if that’s not what you’re going for then definitely wrap the whole thing.

Next, you’ll take the dry toothbrush and brush out the suede to loosen any debris. I had a bunch of sand leftover from last summer embedded in my shoe. Classy.

Cover your hands with the gloves, shake the bottle of dye, and grab the wool dauber (included with the dye). Basically, just paint it on in even strokes. I thought I was going to totally jack it up, but the dye doesn’t soak in for a minute or two, so you have plenty of time to work with it. I did small sections and didn’t run into any blending issues, but if you’re working with a larger surface area you might consider seeking out a different application method. The wool dauber worked well for the most part, but I did have to use Q-Tips to get into the negative space on the straps.


I let my newly-brown Birkies dry overnight, and they were wearable in the morning. I did notice a couple of teeny spots where the dye didn’t take as much, but it looks intentional so I left it. If you didn’t know I dyed them, you’d probably think I bought them that way!

I have to say, I really love the result. I definitely won’t be filing this as a Pinterest fail! If you have an old pair of leather or suede shoes that you’re thinking about tossing, consider giving this a try to revive them. The dye is relatively inexpensive // $9, Amazon // and I have enough leftover to dye several more pairs of shoes.

Are you working on any DIY projects at the moment? Let me know in the comments!

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reflections and resolutions |2017

Welcome to 2017! I hope your holiday season was full of joy, laughter, and love.Typically at the beginning of a new year, I reflect on accomplishments, challenges, personal growth, personal faults, and decide what I want to focus on in the future; this year I’ve decided to share that reflection on wisconsinwhimsy.

I spent an overwhelming amount of time feeling anxious, fixated on the future, and unfocused on the present in 2016. I experienced an immense amount of change. Still adjusting to my newfound post-college graduation freedom, I moved across the country and then across the world. I accepted a career position, realized it wasn’t for me, and moved into a writing position a few months later. I adopted a dog, spent a lot of time alone, and learned a little Japanese.

faults | I slept too little. I didn’t drink enough water. I didn’t take enough photos. I didn’t put enough effort into maintaining friendships. I spent too much time feeling insecure. I didn’t spend enough time in the moment. I didn’t say thank you enough.  I didn’t give enough of my time, money, and love. I spent too much time indoors.

blessings | I saw some of the most breathtaking sights in the mountains of Montana, the hills of Kentucky, the coast of North Carolina, the woods of Washington, and the beaches of Okinawa. I challenged myself to be more open-minded. I learned a lot about myself. I worked hard at my job. I met new people. I learned to drive on the wrong side of the road. I started paying off my student loans. I booked a plane ticket to Korea and a weekend stay in a hostel. I purged old clothing and belongings that I’d been holding on to for too long. I took the time to listen. I overcame physical and emotional pain.

My biggest reflection on 2016 is that I made it to 2017. There were times that I broke down, felt like I couldn’t overcome whatever obstacle was in my way, and wanted to give up. There were times that I felt like things couldn’t get worse and wouldn’t get better. Reflecting on those painful moments brings me peace. I overcame. I’m here. I’m alive. I stuck it out, I sucked it up, and I moved on. I’m humbled and grateful for the chaos I faced last year, because it taught me really important lessons about my own resilience and ability to rebirth.

I have three major aspirations for 2017:

  1. Get more sleep | I have struggled with insomnia for years. Midnight was early for me in high school, and by the time I got to college I’d sometimes lay awake until 6 a.m. I’ve become so immune to sleeplessness that sometimes I feed the problem. I’ll lay in bed scrolling through my phone, or I’ll put things off until bedtime because “I won’t be able to fall asleep anyway.”Sleep is the most restorative favor you can do for your body, your mind, and your sanity. I want to give myself the rest and health I deserve by making sleep a priority.
  2. Be kinder to others and to myself | There were moments throughout 2016 where I caught myself bringing someone else down (either out loud or in my head) because I was feeling jealous or insecure. I’m not proud of that. I’ve also noticed a decline in manners and general humanity in the people around me at church, work, and even at the grocery store. We are all so caught up in our own messes that we forget to consider the people around us whose messes might be even bigger than our own. I feel like my heart got a little hardened in 2016. I want to soften it and be a little nicer and more open this year.
  3. Be mindful and take care of my soul | I was pretty hard on myself this past year. Stress, anxiety, restless thoughts and a lack of sleep aren’t kind to the body. I had a bad relationship with food and only exercised because I felt pressured to lose weight to fit in. In turn I felt disgusted by my body and habits. I thought mean things about myself and fell victim to an unrealistic standard of beauty. I’ve noticed that people always set weight loss goals at the beginning of a new year, but I don’t want to get sucked into that vortex this time around. I’ve learned that (for me) fixating on weight or physical appearance only starves the soul and feeds the world. I want to love and honor myself holistically, and losing weight for the sake of “self-love” just won’t help me get there. I’ve been practicing yin yoga and plan to continue doing so; I meditate a few times a week but want to make it a daily habit.

My affirmations for 2017 are: “You are exactly where you are meant to be in this moment. The choices you’ve made have brought you to this moment for a reason. What needs to happen will happen, and what has happened has already passed. Be who you need to be in this moment. Allow yourself to experience the present without pain from the past or fear of the future.”

Wishing you a new year full of blessings! Share your resolutions and reflections with me in the comments below. Until next time,

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holiday favorites | 2016

A brief note | The last few months have been silent on wisconsinwhimsy, and I’d like to apologize and explain why. As many in the blogging community know, it can be overwhelming to constantly generate content, create/shoot/edit images, respond to comments, and keep up with the maintenance of a website. For those of us whose blogs are a passionate hobby rather than a source of income, finding the motivation to tackle all of the intricacies of blogging in addition to our jobs, families, and outside commitments can be incredibly challenging. The past few months have been stressful and at times unhappy for me mentally, but I am pleased to say that I have accepted a new job and am hopeful that this new endeavor will take a heavy burden off of my shoulders, allowing me to dedicate more time to blogging. Thank you for your patience and readership! I adore you!

The ChrismaHannuKwanzaaka season is my favorite time of year. I would keep a Christmas tree and decorations up year round if my husband would let me! There’s something about twinkling lights, rich jewel tones, chunky sweaters, warm food, cozy blankets, and the joyful spirit of friends and family that makes this season feel particularly special. Did I get carried away there?

Unfortunately we won’t get to experience the same kiss of winter air that we’re used to in Okinawa, but I can’t really complain about sunny and 75 in December, can I? This [comparatively] warm weather won’t stop me from rocking a wine-red lip, glittery lids, and a chunky knit sweater though! Here are my 10 picks for this holiday season:

1 | Coty Airspun Powder – Translucent Extra Coverage / $11, Amazon / I recently scooped this up and have been loving it. I have extremely oily skin and this keeps me matte for nearly my entire work day! I also have very textured skin and it somehow works voodoo magic and makes me look flawless. Great stuff. Fair warning, it smells very strongly of ‘old lady smell,’ so if you’re scent-sensitive, you might want to skip this one. Also: you can get it for cheaper if a Walmart is nearby!

2 | Colourpop Lippie Stix Matte in Ellarie / $5, Colourpop / My obsession with Colourpop is basically never-ending, I know, but stay with me: the Lippie Stix are the creamiest, dreamiest, pigmentiest (not a word, roll with it) lippies ever. And you need them. Especially this one – it’s a deep cranberry with a finish somewhere between satin and matte and perfect for embracing your inner sugar plum fairy.

3 | Makeup Revolution Vivid Baked Highlighter in Radiant Lights / $6, Ulta / I’ve raved about this highlighter before on wisconsinwhimsy, and it’s still in my regular highlighter rotation. It’s not glittery at all and packs a buildable glow that’s perfect for icing out your extended family at holiday dinners.

4 | L’Oreal Telescopic Carbon Black / $10, Ulta / My go-to mascara. If you want long, dramatic lashes, this should be in your hand and on your face. It’s pretty cheap and I reach for it more than I do my high-end wands. Stay fierce, my friends.

5 | Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz in Soft Brown / $21, Sephora / Need your brow game on point this holiday season? Brow Wiz is your friend. I love the quick, precise application, and it’s easy to find your shade. This is my favorite ABH product!

6 | Stila Stay All Day Liquid Liner / $22, Sephora / If this eyeliner can survive my wedding day tears, it can survive your inevitable forced-to-be-in-the-same-house-as-your-relatives holiday meltdown tears.

7 | elf Studio Blush in Berry Merry / $3, elf / I’ve repurchased this blush a handful of times now, and I love it for the holidays. It’s a deep berry with gold shimmer. The ideal blush to go with Ellarie!

8 | China Glaze Nail Lacquer in Ravishing, Dahling / $7.50, Ulta / If Kissin’ Kate Barlow were alive in 2016, this would be her new signature polish. It’s bold, daring, and bad ass, just like her.

9 | Big Sexy Hair Spray & Play Volumizing Hairspray / $18, Ulta / I’m going to be honest with y’all for a moment here. I can’t do hair. My hair styles could be considered worse than most Pinterest fails. That said, this hairspray is pretty fabulous and even helps disguise my dry shampoo’d, poorly curled locks as voluminous magazine hair.

10 | Philosophy Shampoo, Shower Gel, & Body Wash in Christmas Cookie / $12 ON SALE, Ulta / I raved about this last Christmas, and maybe even the Christmas before that. It’s one of my favorite beauty products of the holiday season EVER, and that’s why I’ll forever include it on these lists. This scent is like bath crack. I want it as a body lotion, candle, and pillow spray. Because I’m that in love with it.

Have a merry Christmas, happy New Year, and festive insert-other-holiday-here!

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Fall Scentsy Haul

One of my strongest memory triggers is my sense of smell, and spicy, woodsy scents always bring back great memories of fall and its festivities. As you can imagine, one of my favorite ways to cozy up my home for fall is with candles and wax warmers! This was my very first time ordering anything from Scentsy, and I love what I bought! 

I picked out the following scents: Juniper Berry, Apple Butter Frosting, Cider Mill, Cedar Cider, and Cozy Fireside. The last three are everything I think of when I think of fall 🍂. Juniper Berry is a very mild Christmas-y scent, and Apple Butter Frosting smells delicious, but it’s a little too food-y smelling for me. Cedar Cider and Cider Mill are similar, but Cedar Cider has the added bonus of smelling like the inside of a cedar chest – which reminds me of my Grandma Joyce, who passed a cedar hope chest down to my mom. Cozy Fireside is warm, woodsy, and makes me feel a teensy bit better about not having a fireplace in this house.

All in all I think these were reasonably affordable ($6 a pop or 6 for $25) and smell really great. My only complaint so far is that the shipping is really expensive! Scentsy, why you gotta do us like that?! It was $10 just to ship these five bars. As much as I love the products, the added cost of shipping is definitely a deterrent for me. Have you ordered from Scentsy before? What are your favorite products? Let me know in the comments below! 


Xx Shelbie