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

 

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February 2016 Favorites!

Wow – I can’t believe the end of February is already here! This is probably the first favorites blog I’ve had up on time in all of WisconsinWhimsy history, so let’s take a moment to relish that.

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For kicks, I thought I would go back and read my favorites post from February of 2015, and it was a fun throwback. I actually still use quite a few of the products I blogged about in that post! This month, I’ve been wearing less makeup and embracing a fresh, clean face. My acne was almost completely gone for a couple of weeks in January, and then came back with a vengeance in the early weeks of February, so I’ve been trying to take extra good care of my skin. I’ve recently started oil cleansing, so I’ll blog about that once I’ve had the opportunity to gather my thoughts on it! Here are my favorites for February of 2016:

Juicy Couture’s Viva La Juicy perfume // $74 for 1.7oz // Sephora / We’ve established that I’m terrible at describing fragrances, so I’ll spare you. I will say that this is my favorite spring perfume, and it’s lightly fruity without making you smell like a middle schooler. The packaging is chunky and gaudy, in true Juicy Couture fashion!

WoodWick Wax Melts in Berry Passion // $5 // Kohl’s / Our apartment here in North Carolina is a 1-bedroom with an open concept, and it really bothers me that kitchen smells spread into other rooms and linger. I picked these wax melts up on a trip to Kohl’s and have been really enjoying the fruity, springy scent! My husband complains that I only ever use woodsy scents (I’m convinced that the smell of cedar soothes the soul), so this was me branching out to appease him.

Dermablend Intense Powder Camo // $32 // Ulta / I picked this up at Ulta a few months ago without knowing anything about it, and I’m so impressed. What I love about powder foundations is that you can buff them in and go – they take me much less time to apply than liquid products. This is a medium-full buildable coverage powder. I have the shade Beige, which is yellow-undertoned and fair, which is nearly impossible for me to find in drugstore foundations! I apply it with a flat buki brush (think Sigma F80 or F87) and buff. It covers all of my acne blemishes, but it’s not great at covering dark circles, so I still use undereye concealer.

Clinique Long Last Soft Matte Lipstick in Beauty // $17 // Sephora / Matte lipsticks and liquid lipsticks are all the rage lately, but since I have extremely dry lips and a bad anxious habit of peeling them, I try to avoid matte lip products altogether. Surprisingly, I actually find this lipstick to be a little moisturizing! Beauty is a classic rose shade and is perfect for basic, everyday looks. This is the ideal lipstick for tossing in your bag to have on hand any time you want to polish off your look.

Arbonne Clear Future Intensive Acne Spot Treatment // $30 // ArbonneDisclaimer that I received this product for free from Arbonne for testing. A few months ago, Arbonne generously sent me the entire Clear Future line and a self tanner. I’ve been using the line pretty strictly, and definitely noticed an improvement in my acne. I’ve used many drugstore spot treatments before, most of which were primarily benzoyl peroxide treatments. This one is 2% salicylic acid, and I’ve noticed that it works especially well on my cystic acne bumps.

CoverGirl Clump Crusher Mascara // $8 // Ulta / I use mascara every day and honestly I hate spending more than $10 on it because I go through it so quickly! Lately, I’ve been using this drugstore find. I have to use two coats in order to get a bold effect, but it isn’t clumpy at all and I love that it doesn’t flake or smear. I think this is a versatile mascara, because one coat gives a very natural look, and two or three coats build up to dramatic, fanned out lashes.

Mario Badescu Facial Spray with Aloe, Herbs, & Rosewater // $7 for 4oz // Nordstrom / I looove the smell of rose anything, so this facial spray is right up my alley. I tested it several months ago at an Urban Outfitters, and liked it so much that I eventually bought it. I wouldn’t rely on this spray as a makeup setting spray, simply because I haven’t noticed that it extends the wear of my makeup. It does, however, refresh my skin and leave it feeling hydrated and healthy, especially on days that I’m wearing a more full coverage look. The 40z bottle is compact enough to keep in my bag, which is a plus as well.

Do you have any recommendations for things I should try in March? We are moving to Japan in just 27 days (insert panic attack here) so I want to snag any must-haves here in America before we depart!

Happy Friday and Leap Year!

xx Shelbie

Try it Tuesday: YSL Touche Éclat Neutralizer

Disclaimer: I received this product complimentary for testing purposes. I did not pay for this product, but as always, all thoughts and results are my own. 

  

So it’s actually Wednesday, but I got this product yesterday and already had a full face of makeup on so I decided to save my Try it Tuesday for today instead! I received this color corrector from Influenster as part of the latest YSL VoxBox. I must be super lucky, because this is the second YSL VoxBox I’ve gotten! I received this cool clickable color correcting pen in the shade 2 Green, which is designed to combat redness. It comes in shiny metallic green packaging, and you get 0.08 fl oz. I was actually really surprised that I received the green one, since I thought that my answers to the pre-survey emphasized dark circles as my biggest “problem” as far as color correction is concerned. As you all know by now, I do have acne (although it’s greatly improved over the last couple of months and I can’t wait to blog about the reason why!) and acne scarring, so I was still excited to try it out! The neutralizer retails for $38, so it is quite expensive. To me, at least – lol.

Per Sephora, the YSL Touche Eclat Neutralizer in Green corrects blemishes and conceals redness for an even skintone. The description also states that this can be worn over or under foundation, which I strongly disagree with – at least for the green shade. I could imagine Bisque, the neutralizer for dark circles, can be worn over foundation as a concealer/highlighter, but certainly not the green, as it would stand out too much from the foundation and you’d probably look diseased, and I’m pretty sure diseased isn’t the look you’re going for.

I have not had positive experiences with green color-correctors in the past, simply because I think green is a difficult color to conceal, and can end up leaving skin looking ashy and dull. (And sometimes, even wicked-witch-like) Before I applied the product, I was worried about three things: 1. that it wouldn’t get completely covered by my foundation, 2. that since it is a spot corrector, it would look obvious and unblended, and 3. that it would simply come off completely once I applied foundation.

Good news – I found that none of those worries were actually true! It has a thin consistency, and blends very well. It was easy to target blemishes or scars, so that I wasn’t wasting product by applying it to my whole face. It also definitely helped conceal the blemishes under my foundation, saving me the steps and thickness of my usual concealer. One other positive thing that I noticed immediately about this product is that it isn’t scented – one of my biggest complaints about the YSL mascara I tested was that it was heavily perfumed. As far as longevity is concerned, I’ve now had my makeup on for over 8 hours and I don’t see any unsual signs of oiliness or wear.

If I had to state any negatives, it would be that I would have preferred the pen to be a twist-up rather than a clicker. I’m envisioning a cap full of green corrector after getting smashed up against something in my makeup bag…but really, that’s just a minor complaint that would probably result from my own carelessness, and I have no other misgivings about this product.

Verdict: I’ve only had it for a day, so it’s hard to say if I’d repurchase it again. If you do have redness from blemishes, acne scars, and even rosacea, I would recommend this product. It’s not only easy to use, but actually performs as intended, unlike any other green color corrector I’ve tried in the past. Also, it will make you feel super fancy while you use it, so that’s also a positive in my book. Below are some precious photos of myself before, during, and after application. Note my awesome microfiber head wrap. (It actually is awesome, and you can get it here) Have any of you tried this neutralizer? Let me know in the comments below! I’d love to hear your opinions, especially if you’ve tried one of the other shades. Have a happy hump day!

Fall Look + Full Acne Coverage

  It is finally starting to feel like fall outside, and I couldn’t be happier! I’ve officially packed away my short and sandals and brought out my tights, boots, and jewel colored tops and dresses. This is my favorite time of year for three reasons: weather, holidays, and fashion. Mid to low 50s, a crisp breeze, and swirling leaves + family and friends gathered together for a meal to share their thankfulness and culinary skills + sweaters and boots = everything I love about fall!

One thing I don’t love is having acne. I’ve struggled with it since I was around 12 years old, and I’m now 22. I saw a dermatologist for almost 6 years and have taken more antibiotics than I can count on two hands. Creams, lotions, cleansers galore and not one thing made it go away! My derm had always suggested two possible solutions: hormonal birth control and Accutane. My parents and I were not keen on the risks and side effects of Accutane, some of which I was more at risk for than others, so I never tried it. I have been using hormonal birth control for 5 years now and have seen such an amazing difference in the condition of my skin – which is saying something, considering I obviously still have acne in the photos above. For the most part, my birth control helps to keep the cystic acne along my jawline at bay, but I still get inflammatory acne mostly everywhere except for my forehead. I am strict about skincare routine and never, ever, ever go to sleep without taking my makeup off and cleansing my skin. I used to use many more products to cover up my acne than I do now, but I find that the two products I use for coverage provide exactly what I need without a heavy layer.

The very first thing I do is cleanse, moisturize, and prime my skin.

  1. LUSH Herbalism // $15-ish
  2. Clinique Dramatically Different Gel // $26
  3. Arbonne Makeup Primer // $40

Once I’ve prepped my skin, I move on to concealer and foundation.

  1. It Cosmetics Bye Bye Undereye Concealer // $24 / in the shade Light
  2. It Cosmetics Celebration Foundation Illumination // $35 / in the shade Light

I apply the concealer with my fingers (after I’ve washed my hands, of course!) because I find that I get the best coverage while using the least amount of product. I have applied this product with both a sponge and brush before and still prefer my trusty old phalanges. It’s extremely pigmented, so I use a pinhead-sized drop under each of my eyes in a triangle shape – #KimKwannabe – and then continue to use other teensy pinhead drops on my blemishes and redness on the rest of my face. It’s a thick, creamy, consistency and blends flawlessly into my skin’s natural texture. I have quite a few (who am I kidding, I have a lot) of freckles, so I use the concealer extremely sparingly on my forehead to let them show through.

Once my concealer is nicely blended, I move on to foundation. The It Cosmetics Celebration Foundation Illumination, as contrasted to the original Celebration Foundation, which comes in a black compact and is matte, is an illuminating pressed powder foundation. The concealer is matte, and I like that the foundation has illuminating qualities to give off a lit-from-within glow. I buff the foundation into my skin with a Sigma F80 brush in circular motions. It offers medium-buildable coverage, and despite the fact that I have extremely oily skin, I do not experience any shininess for several hours, and no separation all day. It’s a great foundation for all skin types that I think works very well in conjunction with the concealer. In the following four photos, the one in the top left shows how my skin looks with the foundation + concealer combo.
Those two products conclude the acne coverage portion of this blog, and I highly encourage you to give them a try! They are quite pricey, but I anticipate the concealer lasting me at least a year, and I’ve used the foundation daily for two months and have yet to notice any obvious usage in the pan.

For alternatives, I recommend

  1. Dermablend Cover Creme // $38 / this product is very expensive, and I don’t think it offers as good of coverage as the Bye Bye Undereye. If you have the time to really work with this product (which I think is best applied with sponge or fingers) it might be worth it, but I think there are better alternatives. It is a cream texture in a pot, rather than a tube, which I also do not like for sanitary reasons. Everyone has different preferences, so it may work for you! 
  2. Hard Candy Glamoflauge Concealer // $6 / the consistency is similar to that of the Bye Bye Undereye and gives full coverage, but it appears more oily and the shades can edge into Oompa Loompa territory. I will not repurchase this, but it is a great product if your budget only allows you to stick with drugstore products.
  3. Aveda Inner Light Dual Foundation // $25 / very similar in coverage + concept to the Celebration Foundation, but does not come in a compact. You must purchase the compact separately, which I consider a huge disadvantage and just plain annoying, so I don’t use this anymore in protest. The product itself is wonderful though, and if the compact isn’t important to you, you can keep it in the plastic packaging and use it that way.

To complete the rest of the look, I used Tarte Park Ave Princess bronzer, Clinique blush in New Clover, Anastasia Beverly Hills DipBrow pomade in Blonde, Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Liner, Urban Decay Perversion mascara, Too Faced Chocolate Bar palette, and Lancome L’Absolu Rouge lipstick in Creme de Marron.

IMG_0908What are your favorite fall looks? Share with me in the comments below!