Attack of the Pretzel People

Needless to say, the next year of my life will be wrapped up in wedding planning. Dress, shoes, flowers, venue… sigh. I’m going to be a busy little bee. And a stressed one, at that. Which means—alas—that breakouts are imminent.

 Now, I have decided that I am going to try and come up with as many ways as possible to reduce my stress (and subsequent zit explosions) as I prepare for what will surely be an epic walk down the aisle. My soon to be former best friend heard of my quest for relaxation, and suggested I come with her to her weekly yoga session.

 As much as I love her, it’s imperative that you understand that my bff and I could not be more different. I’m a “never seen an episode of Sex and the City, jeans and a t-shirt, play third base” kind of girl. I see nothing wrong with having the occasional threesome with Ben and Jerry. And she… well, she’s the kind of girl who goes to a Monday afternoon Yoga class.

 Anyhow, I agreed—against my better judgment—to give the yoga thing a try. Is there anything we won’t do to keep our bodies and skin looking good?!

 Walking into the incense and candle lit room, my curvaceous brunette self stood out in a sea of blonde stick figures like a sore thumb. My Victoria’s Secret Pink terry capris (the very same ones that had seemed so trendy just moments ago) immediately felt like a tent, hanging from what were surely the world’s largest hips. I spotted my gal pal across the room, where she was clad similarly to the other yoga bunnies in a skin tight leotard and leopard print tights.

 And then the instructor walked in—Alabaster skin, perfectly sculpted eyebrows, and not an ounce of fat on her—err him. I was so busy gawking that I barely heard the chipper little fellow announce, “Welcome to this week’s Advanced Yoga class. Namaste.”

 Huh?

 Wait did he (is that really a he? With those cheekbones?)  just say advanced yoga? Oh well… how tough could it be?

 I soon found out. For the next 45 minutes, I watched the rest of the room gracefully bend, twist, and contort themselves into positions that would make Jenna Jameson teary eyed with pride.

 Try though I may to keep up, I’m pretty sure I succeeded only in looking like a complete fool—and most likely spraining muscles that I didn’t even know existed before today. After class, my friend bounced over to where I lay sprawled on my mat; sweating like a woman of ill repute and waiting for the feeling to come back into my leg. She asked how I enjoyed it, and didn’t I think it was just wonderful and oh isn’t Sven the most amazing instructor ever?

 I suppose I’ll speak to her again… eventually.

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Waxing Philosophical

Ever feel like you take one step forward and two steps back when it comes to trying to maintain your fresh look?

 I get my eyebrows waxed only to wind up having the wax aggravate my skin and voila! Presto: Pimples all along my brow line. I tell you there are some days I want to give up and just live life as a giant pustule. Ok, I am too beautiful for that are so are you. Here are some tips to avoid giving into the dark side:

 An Ounce of Prevention

 Clean, clean, clean your skin. Exfoliate the skin on and around the eyebrow before you head to the salon. You’ll remove whatever dead skin is ready to clog your pores, thus reducing the chances of a post waxing breakout.

 If you are waxing at home make sure you keep your wax pot fresh. Avoid using the same wax stick more than once. Using sticks more than once can introduce bacteria to the wax and then to your face. 

 Find a good pre-waxing cleanser (I was surprised such a thing existed) and scrub that pretty face of yours.

 After You’ve Waxed

 Wash your face again. Anytime you do anything to your face, wash it immediately after. You’ll rid your face of any excess product that may have been left behind ready to clog your pores.

 Avoid strenuous activity leading to sweating. This means no trips to the fitness club for a butt busting workout after you’ve had a waxing. 

 Exfoliate your skin the following day as long as there isn’t any redness, tenderness or residual swelling.  No need to add to the trauma your skin just experienced.

 If you take the time to do a little legwork before your eyebrow work you might just be fortunate enough to avoid a breakout.

Here Comes the Stress

There are quite a few things which contribute to acne outbreaks—not the least of which is stress.

In the next year, stress is going to be a big part of my life as I prepare for my big day. (It still gives me chills of joy to think that I am really getting married!) I know pimples are going to be a big part of my life as well, in particular if I don’t keep my stress levels in check. In my case stress goes way beyond my soon to be mother-in-law. I’ve got it on two fronts; the stress to my skin and the stress in my head.

Physical Drama

 The weather outside is frightful… and it’s fixing to wreak havoc on my skin for the nest few weeks. The transition from summer to autumn always creates major problems for me. The cold, drier weather will stress my skin. I have to be watchful of the change and adjust my makeup and creams accordingly. I’ll be going on a weekend camping trip to the mountains toward the end of October. I’ll need to bring along ample sunscreen to protect my skin while I am outside for extended periods of time. Just because temperatures grow cooler doesn’t mean sunburn is any less a factor. 

Stress of the Head

 I have a million things to plan for my wedding. I have all this research to do on wedding venues, caterers, honeymoon spots and so on. Add to this my usual worries (I am quite an accomplished worry wart) and I have the prefect recipe for an extended acne outbreak. How do I combat all of this and stay as relaxed and calm as possible? My Aunt Phoebe suggests I make sure I am getting at least 8 good hours of sleep a night.  She also mentioned staying consistent with when I get up each morning and when I go to bed. Sounds like good advice, yes?

 I also have developed a list of things that help me relax when I am stressed.  I posted the list by the mirror in my bathroom. My list includes reading, jogging and chilling with some music. I also am doing my best to eat as healthy as I can to further reduce any physical stress. Meanwhile, I’m going to try out a few new tricks to stay as relaxed—and blemish free—as possible.

Prescription Acne Creams: What are Your Options?

When it comes to treating your acne with an Rx, you have to be pretty cautious of what you choose to slather upon your delicate skin. Prescription acne creams can actually make your condition worse if you aren’t careful and that’s NOT what you need when your face is overrun with zits. Think of finding the right prescription acne cream in the same vein as finding the right guy for a weekend get-a-way: Run a quick background check and call your b-f-f before you pack a single bag.

So what exactly are your options when it comes to this type of acne treatment?

Azelaic Acid-a saturated dicarboxylic acid found in wheat, rye and barley. I love treatments originating in nature. Consumer reviews include: less irritation that Benzoyl Peroxide and zits that cleared relatively quickly following initial use. AA may be itchy at onset of treatment. Some people also say it can be a bit greasy feeling, which can be difficult for some to use underneath makeup. But the real downside may be its effect on your pocketbook, as the cost can be prohibitive. 

Tarzarotene-It’s a retinoid, so you probably already know the deal. Although it will keep the skin’s pores clean it may also cause dry, red and flaking skin. Don’t use if you are pregnant, and if you are sexually active you might want to make sure you’re using an effective contraceptive due the the risk of birth defects in women using it. Of the prescription strength retinoids available, this is considered the strongest. 

Clindamycin-Long hailed for its success in the battle against acne, this semi-synthetic antibiotic cream is a great option. Side effects of use may include dry and irritated skin.  This antibiotic is also used to treat dogs, cats and ferrets. Some patients report occasional barking or meowing outbursts . Okay, just kidding about the animal noises.

Remember that because all of us have different skin types, what works for your best friend may not work for you. Trust your dermatologist to help you find the right choice. Ask about the full range of prescription acne creams available. Soften the blow acne delivers with a little research and some good advice from your doctor.

The Best Blog Post… Ever

 I have the most wonderful, amazing, sublime, incredible (ok, ok I’m sure you get it) news. 

 My boyfriend of three years has asked me to marry him! I have to admit I thought this day would never come. I’ve been walking on air all day. Believe it or not I haven’t once worried about a Wedding Day acne breakout either.  Right now all I want to do is enjoy this moment so I can remember every detail of it for the rest of my life. For those of you who have shared my life through this blog (and for those of you who are new followers, too) I want to share some of this joyous event with all of you. Now, keep in mind that the bf—oh, excuse me, make that fiancé—doesn’t often let his romantic side out. But when he does, he sure knows how to do it right!

 Every Wednesday night for the last two years, my man and I have shut out our jobs and friends and concentrated solely on us. This week’s date night started a little more special than usual. I came home from work and was greeted by three bouquets of white long stem carnations on my front stoop. Opening the door to my apartment I looked down to find dandelions and forget-me-nots sprinkled across my living room in a trail leading to my bathroom. (I told you… he’s good)

 As I set my purse and coat down on the arm of my sofa I began to follow this sweet fragrenced trail toward my bathroom doorway. I could smell the scent of lavender tickling my nose mixed with the warmth of a freshly drawn bath. The room was dimly lit, save for the flicker of candles lining my bathtub. Once fully inside my legs grew weak and my heart raced faster and faster. I was amazed at what my eyes beheld…

 There sat my man, concealed by a mountain of bubbles, glass of champagne in one hand and the other reaching out for me.  My mouth dropped, followed quickly by my dress.

 Since this is a family blog I won’t go any further but you get the idea. Somewhere in the next few minutes he told me how much he loved me, needed me and desperately wanted to spend the rest of his life by my side. 

 Then he asked me to marry him.

 And so began my day of unbelievable happiness!

PS- For all my ladies out there: he picked out the ring all by himself! And yeah, it’s a doozy. Princess cut, platinum setting… and totally gorgeous.

A Homemade Facial Scrub to Try

My face gets tired of the same old store bought cleaners all the time, doesn’t yours? I mean, come on, a girl needs some variety for heaven’s sake! You can put a wide selection of facial scrubs right up there in the pantheon of women’s needs (along with shoes and cute clutch purses).

But, if you’re like me, you’ve had a tough time finding the right scrub (it seems there isn’t a store on the planet that knows exactly what I need some days). Wait that last comment reminds me of my ex… but I digress.

Anyway, check out these homemade sugar face scrubs and sweeten your usual routine.

This first one I haven’t tried yet, but I’ll keep you posted, because it sounds intriguing. I shall call it the Banana Nut Roll, because I think you might have to be a nut to put this stuff all over your face:

  • 1 ripe banana
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon of vanilla extract.

Mix all of the ingredients together until it forms a paste. Be careful and don’t over mix because it will get runny. Reserve some of the banana to mash separately to apply to your face after the initial application of this paste.

Let the pasty solution sit on your face for about 10 minutes then rinse with warm water.  This should leave your skin feeling cleansed and refreshed.

If this one turns out to be a bomb of a facial scrub I’ll let you know. If it bombs for you, be sure to drop me a line.

Do you have a homemade sugar facial scrub that you swear by? Maybe something you’ve been dying to try, but are a little hesitant? Let me know, and we can experiment together!

Acne and Birth Control

Much has been written about birth control pills and how they interact with the body.  Once used exclusively to keep you from getting pregnant, today they are also used for controlling acne in some women. There is, however, conflicting information out there regarding the effectiveness of using birth control to fight breakouts. 

 To understand how it works we need to take a look at oral contraception and what is found within those pills we pop every morning.

 There are three primary oral contraceptives on the market today; Ortho Tri-cyclen, Estrostep and Yaz. Birth Control pills decrease the amount of testosterone in a woman’s system.  This decrease in testosterone reduces the amount of oils produced by the skin. The amount of oils becomes relative to the amount of dead skin cells clogging pores leading to acne breakouts. The idea here is less oils on the skin means fewer blockages and a reduction in the number of breakouts.

 For women on birth control pills, this can be a very nice little extra. They get the benefits of the oral contraceptive and at the same time have clearer skin. I really liked this benefit myself, especially when I was in college. I could enjoy my night out more while still looking great.  Today it’s a triple advantage. Reduced acne, great skin and I can enjoy sex with my man more.

 However, you should keep in mind that there are some women whose body chemistry makes them predisposed to having these oral contraceptives actually increase acne breakouts. Talk to your physician or your dermatologist about using oral contraceptives for controlling breakouts.  If you are one of the unlucky few who are affected rest assured there are alternatives that can keep your skin on track.