My broke girl, acne healing, 5-step morning beauty routine.

For nearly fifteen years I struggled with aggressive, cystic acne. As advised, I dutifully washed and slathered myself with products labeled for combating acne. Consistently, I was troubled to discover that my skin was often more inflamed, angry, and broken out the more consistently I used the products. I was stuck between a rock and a hard place of doing little to my skin, and having deep pus-volcanoes all over my face… or following “expert advice” and developing redness and sensitivity in addition to the painful sores I already suffered from. I tried modifying my diet (it’s one of the main reasons I went raw-vegan), workouts, laundering routine, birth control and cleansing routine for over a decade and NOTHING helped. Finally (and very slowly, I might add), I began to notice habits and products that at the very least didn’t irritate my skin… and then I noticed habits and products that seemed to actually improve it. I consider it nothing short of miraculous that my skin is as healthy and glowing as it is now. I do carry some scarring, but even that is miraculously not as bad as it should be for suffering with this damaging condition for so long. I’m going to try to find any photos I can from when my skin was struggling but, honestly, I deftly avoided the camera for all those years. Hiding from a lens became a genuine skill of mine even when I was expected to be in group photos, and selfies were something I simply did.not.do. Needless to say, photographic evidence of me existing at all during these years is pretty slim.

But enough with the past! Let’s see something recent! Coming up are a few no-makeup looks from the last year. You can see a little sun damage thanks to my MANY years of competitive swimming, and summers roasting at the beach and surfing… but you can also clearly see a delightful lack of acne. This 33 year old, mother of four is hanging in there pretty well!

Here is my routine that I follow most mornings. In classic busy-mom fashion, there are actually many mornings where I don’t do anything to my face at all and my skin tolerates the neglect very patiently now! However, I do try to stick to this routine as much as I can because my skin is left looking downright cherubic, and is more resilient to environmental changes and stressors, and heals from any injury (including now very rare pimples) quicker than it ever did before. If you like this post, please let me know and I will try to prioritize a follow-up post about my night-time routine.

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Step One

There’s no subtle way to say this: I give a lot of credit for the healing of my skin to olive oil. I don’t even have a specific brand that I use, just any decent quality olive oil seems to do the trick. When I’m ready to start my morning cleansing, I first pour about a teaspoon of olive oil onto my palm, rub evenly between my hands, and then luxuriously massage all over my face and neck. Sometimes I allow the oil to soak in for an hour or so before moving to the next step.

Step Two

Steam. If you watch my Instagram stories, you are already familiar with my trusty steamer. This is the steamer I use:

This steamer also comes with some extraction tools that I also use sometimes. I’ve only used the basic tools that look like little loops, but they are very helpful for gently coaxing out blackheads and congestion without damaging the skin the way using my fingers do. I have been using this steamer for a few years now after receiving it as a Christmas gift… by now many of the labels on the device have completely worn off from use, but the actual machine continues to serve me well. (Thankfully by now I have all the dials memorized anyway). I strongly recommend using distilled water with any steamer you purchase, as it will reduce mineral buildups within the mechanism that will damage the unit over time.

Typically I steam my face for ten minutes, but happily sit there longer if time permits. I also massage the olive oil further into my face as the warm steam loosens the skin and allows it to permeate deeper.

Step Three

Time to wash. My method is extremely lowkey in the morning: just a washcloth and a bar of soap! I am currently using Ivory, but I have also used Dove, and Dial in the past and they all seem roughly similar… Dove seems to be the most gentle, and Dial seems stronger, but they are all comparable and I will happily use any of them. I use a clean washcloth every time, and soak it in warm water. Then I lather up the bar of soap, and gently, GENTLY massage the soapy cloth all over my face and neck. The skin is very loose and delicate after the oil and steam so utmost care and gentleness must be used. A soft washcloth seems like it couldn’t possibly be rough on your face, but after the softening effects of the previous step, it is very easy to overdo it with the scrubbing. After a lathery massage, I thoroughly rinse the cloth in warm water, and then use it to carefully rinse every trace of soap from my face and neck. After all the soap is rinsed, I tap my face and neck dry with a towel.

Step Four

All I wear on a daily basis is a tinted sunblock. I am finishing up a tube of Clinique CityBlock that is unfortunately no longer produced, and I have just started using IT Cosmetics SPF 50 CC Cream and really like it. I only purchase sunscreens that use physical blocks like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide… unfortunately, both of those ingredients are notorious for leaving an ashy, chalky look on any skin (not just people with darker skin… it looks bad on us pale people too, I promise!). I have been very impressed with the IT Cosmetics CC cream for managing to blend without giving a hint of Casper the Friendly Ghost.

Step Five

After all that, I go out and live my life.

The end!

Got My Hair Fixed

Shortly after my attempt at cutting my own hair resulted in failure, I called Blonde Salon, hoping they could fit me into the schedule ASAP. Thankfully, Jennifer was available just a couple days later, so I marked my calendar and impatiently waited.

After settling for basic “mom hair” for last few years, I decided that – if I’m going to pay for a haircut –  I might as well go for something with a little more pizzazz. Maybe something that included bangs… I had bangs when my husband and I met and were dating, and I look pretty good with them. However, I do have multiple cowlicks on my hairline, which make styling them really tricky. Since my DIY haircut resulted in very harsh shorter layers, the inclusion of bangs would also soften the layers.

I’ve followed @_alena_alena_ for while on Instagram and have always admired her coiffed, yet touchable mane. Somehow she manages to keep a style that is both polished and elegant, and also a bit relaxed and approachable. So before my salon visit, I trolled through her page and saved some photos to show my stylist.

Her hair is always curled….. mine is “aggressively straight” aside from the ringlets along my hairline. Oh well, I will at least do my best.

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Nervous, but ready! I made this skirt, by the way!!

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It seems a client brought a chicken in? Only in Suffolk! 😀

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It’s a “Silkie” breed.

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The big reveal!!

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The REAL question is whether or not I will be able to make the style look nice on my own, at home!

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peek-a-boo…

Verdict: I liked the pampering, and the result. I think when I go for a bang trim I will ask them to take them up a bit shorter, and see how they work on my face.

First Ever DIY Haircut!!

Not too long ago, I shared on Instagram about how I was considering trying to trim my own hair in an attempt to avoid unnecessary expenditure. I am a dutiful little housewife, indeed. I will go ahead and divulge the spoilers up front: it did not go well. But I did take lots of photos, and I will post them all below, while I wait for my salon to ANSWER THE PHONE I AM DESPERATE PLEASE JUST PICK UP!!

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The technique I opted for is commonly known as the “unicorn method”. It is a favorite among YouTubers right now, and many of my own Instagram subscribers recommended it, so it was BOUND to go wonderfully. I used the regular scissors from this kit.

……

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Carefully, now!!

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Here comes the chop!!

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What could go wrong?… It’s only hair, right???????

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WE’VE REACHED THE POINT OF NO RETURN!

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“Point-cutting” This allegedly makes it look better.

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Regrets…. I’m having lots of them.

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These aren’t layers, they’re…………………. shelves?

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In my defense, I did once pay a lot of money to get this same messed-up cut. The failure from that stylist is one of the reasons I fear salon visits and wanted to DIY in the first place. And…… AM I SEEING GREYS????

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Looks ok like this… guess I’m sticking with “half up” styles until this is fixed.

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Verdict: WACK. zero stars.

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Now I’m I’m just snapping photos to feed my ego. Time to go.

Stay tuned to find out if a professional stylist can save me, or if I will be left to wallow in my own folly…

In which I try blogging and glycolic peels for the first time.

A few weeks ago in my Instagram stories I briefly mentioned how I’d finally built up enough nerve to try a 30% glycolic acid at-home “mini peel”. Now that I’ve had adequate time to evaluate how my skin has reacted (not to mention learn how to write a blog in the first place), it’s time to sit down and share! This is only about my first use, but I will be repeating this procedure once a week(ish) for six weeks and plan on doing a follow-up post once I’m truly finished.

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I used Oz Naturals glycolic acid that I purchased on Amazon for $19.95, and a fan brush designed specifically for use with glycolic peels for $5.92 (I can no longer find the listing for the exact brush I purchased, but here is a similar one). The bottle was securely packaged and came with instructions, which included directions for preparing the neutralizing solution, which I prepared beforehand. The whole peel goes quite fast (4 minutes or less!!), so having all my materials staged and ready was essential to avoid possible chemical burns.

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And here I am! In my pre-peel, makeup-free, #nofilter glory! After a 15 year battle with cystic acne, I really don’t look too bad (all things considered!). For further comparison, I am a thirty year old mother of three. In fact, I recently gave birth to my third less than two months before I took this photo. My skin concerns that I would like to address are enlarged pores, melasma from pregnancy, and sun damage…….. so much sun damage….. years of competitive swimming before my parents and I caught on to the importance of sun protection will do that, I suppose.

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After gently washing my face (NO exfoliating, per the instructions), I applied the chemical goo to my face with the fan brush. For my first use, I only left it on for 3 minutes before carefully wiping my homemade neutralizing solution over the application area, then rinsing. The peel itself caused me no discomfort, but when it contacted the neutralizing solution there was a dramatic bubbling and a minor burning sensation. I also poured some of the neutralizing solution onto my brush to thoroughly remove any residues.

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This photo turned out a bit fuzzier than I realized at the time, my apologies. Anyway, here I am completely bare-faced after the procedure. The difference, to me, is subtle. I noticed the biggest difference in the reduction of my sunspots and melasma! That was definitely noticeable after only the first application.

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To the right is the cleanser I used before the peel. To the left is the moisturizer I used after. As with other chemical peels, it is absolutely essential that one use a good quality sunscreen with a high SPF… otherwise you can end up with more sun damage than you started with! On this day, I opted for Shiseido.

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One of the things I learned from this experience is that I have horrible selfie skills! But here I am, once again, in the name of scientific discovery…… this time after my little at-home procedure, with moisturizer and sunscreen applied:

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As advertised, there was no down time or noticeable peeling that you would get with stronger clinical peels. My skin felt slightly dry and taut for the next couple days, but it was completely bearable. I returned to my usual cleansing and gentle exfoliating routine the day after I used the peel, and I have been using my sunscreen like a good girl. As of this writing, I have since used the peel for a second time. Again, a reduction in brown spots (they are almost gone, in my opinion), and an increase in overall brightness and evenness. And while I don’t think there is really any way to permanently reduce pore size, I’m finding my pores are looking less noticeable these days.

To be continued…


It is now later.. much later… almost two months later.

My photography skills are still atrocious, but I love what this product does to my skin! In the below photo I’m wearing nothing on my face (I didn’t even wash my face the morning I took this… so I literally DID wake up like this). No filters, no makeup, no selfie-light. Just perpetually sleep-deprived me, standing in front of a window.

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All I can say is, I really enjoy this product! It didn’t give me the “brand new face” that I’d hoped for, but I suppose I would need to see a professional for those types of results.

I do like that this is mild enough to be SAFE for at-home use. It’s effective without me risking burning my face off by accident. Once this bottle runs out I plan on repurchasing and using this once every week or two to amplify my usual exfoliation routine!

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