New Year, New Resolutions

Ahh yes, the ol’ New Year’s Resolution…where we all sort of take stock. We will look at what we have accomplished and what we can work on. It is time to look at the year ahead and consider our challenges. In 2012 I have some serious plans. Some are to save more money, some include true love and yet others concern my skin. (Cheesy, I know. Just hear me out.)

First and foremost I will create more love and acceptance for my skin in general. I know I have issues, I deal with acne, oily t-zones and premature aging. However, I will take it in stride because I accept myself. I vow not to stress over worry lines and not to hate my smile lines. I won’t get bent out of shape if I forget to do my nightly routine, or if I can’t remove my makeup here or there. Acceptance.

I’m going to be ok with a few random pimples because I am a human with a real life. I will take my time and enjoy my skin routine. I swear I won’t be discouraged if I get a new rash of pimples from my sports bra–because at least I am getting healthy in other ways. I will enjoy the treatments that work and vow to never stop trying new things.

Make 2012 your year, accept yourself and know that you deserve more.

Happiest of New Years to you all!


Acne, Sulfur and You

Sulfur: Stinky, yet effective.

I’ve been hearing more and more about sulfur masks for acne. (And I know what you’re thinking–I need new friends, right?) Ok, fine. We are nerds. BUT, that said, it seems like the new greatest thing ever is the sulfur acne mask. Now, sulfur is far from a new thing–it has been used topically on skin forever. It has been used to treat a lot of different skin disorders, including things like scabies, seborrheic dermatitis, and acne. It is said to have some side effects, but they’re supposed to be mild. (I would assume this would depend on your skin, if it is highly sensitive, or if your acne is pretty raging.)

Sulfur masks are going to target the bacteria and oil-clogged pores. That extra oil keeps your skin cells from shedding, and they stay clogged. This is where you get the red, angry, inflamed acne from. This type of inflamed acne is called “Propionibacterium” acne, or just “P. acne”.

Sulfur is supposed to be ideal to strip the dirt and oil, leaving the pores with a deep down clean. It is also supposed to really refine the pores, shrinking them. It can also cause your skin to peel, which some say assists in the whole “deep down clean” aspect of a sulfur mask. So, peeling is definitely going to be a side effect. I would definitely think twice about doing a sulfur mask if you have really sensitive skin, or if you are in the middle of winter. It may go TOO deep down.

Over the counter sulfur masks are typically 3-10%. Some offer a whole slew of their own proprietary mix of ingredients, eucalyptus, yadda yadda. It will but down on that extra oil, making sure that less P. acne can survive in your pores. These types of masks are also ideal for comedones–whiteheads and blackheads. It is going to shrink the ones you have and block new ones from forming.

There will be some side effects, but it is nothing like a prescribed acne medication. Sulfur masks can cause redness, peeling and flaking, but you won’t have any sensitivity to light. Medications like benzoyl peroxide and azelaic acid will work, but you will see some pretty hefty side effects. Retinoids are somewhat effective, but again, you will pay for it in other ways. Also keep this in mind when you are working in orchestra with products that contain sulfur and these medications.

I Have a Christmas Hangover

Yeah, something like this...

Ugh. Second day back at work and I am still trying to get back into the swing of things. I have leftovers overflowing out of my fridge, I still have wrapping paper balls throughout my house and I’m trying to catch up on my sleep. MAN, I’m glad that the Christmas craziness is over!

Am I dealing with a little bit of the Christmas Blues? Perhaps. I am always “haunted” by the memory of deceased family members around the holidays. They somehow feel closer and more far away at the same time, it is so weird! Post-Christmas is a time of some guilt, I definitely overate…more than once! Yikes. Did I put aside my responsibilities as far as my work, my dog and my laundry? Definitely. But, I am slowly getting things back on track. (And there is a LOT of laundry.) lol

What about you? Did you have a good Christmas? A crappy one? Not sure what it was? I’m with you. The hype is over, the madness is calmed and now we are living in post-apocolyptic Christmas town. Time to take down the tree, pack up the ornaments and toss out this year’s Christmas cards. Sure I am sad to see it all go, but I’m more relieved that I made it through in one piece.

I need to get back on the treadmill.  I need a facial—now. All that rich food and sunlight-stealing indoor shopping has left me with some serious work to do. ESPECIALLY since I will be in Costa Rica in 31 days. YAY!



The Gift of Clear Skin: Make your Own Toner!

Yeah, yeah. You know Christmas is this weekend. Chances are–you’re still looking for a few more gifts to supplement your stash. Well, I have an awesome idea! I am making my own toner and gifting to co-workers and friends. (Granted, this kind of thing won’t be great everyone, sure, but, it is an organic and thrifty way to knock out a few gifts.) In this particular project, you will see that the presentation will be a big part of the present. So, don’t forget to pick up some glass jars, bottles to hold your fresh toner.

If you read my other posts, you know that I am loving peppermint right now! Sticking with that “theme”, I have a few recipes for your toner. I will include the directions for an oily skin toner, an “everything else” toner.

Peppermint Lemon Toner is ideal to naturally clear up acne-ridden skin and help condition all over. Your face is left fresh and renewed.

Peppermint Lemon Toner

1. Place eight tbsp of witch hazel in your chosen glass bottle or jar.

2. Now, add one-half tsp. essential oil of peppermint. (Remember, this stuff is POTENT.) It could burn your skin if you put too much. SO, note: it is only one-half tsp of the essential oil. You can also use peppermint extract oil as well; it isn’t as potent.

3. Throw in four tbsp of FRESH lemon juice.

4. The fun stuff–two tbsp of gin or vodka. (NOT both…good try, though. lol)

5. Ok, you’re done combining, now just seal up the glass bottle and shake it up really good. You will now let it stand for 24 hours. All done. Make sure you shake it up before you use it…or advise your recipient to do so.

Old Fashioned Lavender–super gentle, perfect for sensitive skin, acne prone skin and the combo skin sufferers.

Start with this: 1 table-spoon of lavender leaves & buds.
1/2 cup of water (boiled, then left to cool).
1/2 cup of witch hazel (available from health shops or online).
6 drops of tea tree oil.

1. Roughly chop one tbsp of lavender–leaves and buds.

2. In the glass jar, add in the water, witch hazel and tea tree oil and lavender.

3. Seal it up, store in refrigerator–for two weeks. Everyday, give it a good shake–this will release the essential oils.

4. After the two weeks, strain out the bits of leaf and bud and you’re done. Keep in the sealed bottle/jar.

Bada bing! You’ve got two toners!

Toners make great gifts---if you package them right!

Don’t forget the satin ribbons and beautiful glass jars.

AND LABEL THEM! Ideally, these should be placed in the refrigerator for best results.



Peppermint: Great in your Stocking and for your Face

Face Plant! NOT so fast...

No one loves York peppermint patties more than me. However, once the holidays roll around, candy canes become my new obsession. They have to be FRESH, though, right? (You ever see Santa Claus: the Movie? Yeah, they use candy canes to power the machine that makes the bad toys. SO cool.)

In any event, it turns out that peppermint (NOT candy canes–booooo!) can clear up your acne. Yeah. Whoa! It can also promote a healthy scalp, in fact, if you have dandruff, I’ve read that you can pour a lil peppermint oil into your shampoo. Interesting. It is supposed to promote hair growth, add gloss and tame frizz and flyaways. (I’m listening, peppermint, go on.)

Peppermint oil is used as the middle note in some perfumes, and candles. The spicy/cool fragrance can refresh your brain, it can also relieve stress, exhaustion, depression and anxiety. It is believed that if you can keep you cut back on stress, your immune system is stronger–better skin and hair. (I’ll be the judge of THAT. lol.)

Peppermint is supposed to be great for your skin because of the menthol contained in the herb. (It is used to treat colds, sinus issues and the flu.) Peppermint is great for OILY SKIN. The menthol closes and tightens the pores. Because of its astringent properties, it is quite popular as a facial cleanser. You can also make a toner of peppermint and lemon for your acne, clearing up problems and refreshing and renewing your skin at the same time.

There are a number of different ways to get the peppermint onto your face. You can use peppermint oils–LISTEN, I don’t know a lot about essential oils, ok? BUT, what I do know is that you have to be careful when dealing with oils like this–some can be extremely strong and burn your skin. Read the directions, do a little research and you should be good. Also, I saw on Dr. Oz that he grinded up the leaves from a peppermint plant and made a pesto-like mask, he applied the paste, left it on for 5-10 min and washed off. Now, granted, it is the “dead of winter” in California, but perhaps I will be able to find some peppermint leaves. lol. Dr. Oz also said that it can cure ALL of your skin’s issues…well…I can dream, right? I do love a good tingly feeling–I assume peppermint is a tingle-inducer!

More to follow!


Holiday Acne PSA

We are officially inside the holiday madness. There are only a few weeks to Christmas and there is no doubt that you are being pulled in eleventy billion directions, right? Between the stress of your holiday shopping, your holiday finances, you will also be dealing with an upside down diet and some serious “day to night” makeup choices.

Ok. Here is a nickel’s worth of free advice: don’t forget your face. Don’t forget to keep your skin hydrated and toned. You will have a slew of parties to get to, you are going to have to sit for several pictures and you’re almost certainly going to be hosting a few of your own soirees. You cannot neglect your skin–on the face or body. If you do, you can definitely forget about that strappy red dress, the one that shows  your chest and back…? Yeah.

Grab a few of those toning pads or the benzoyl pads and stash them in your desk. You can do a swipe during the day, cutting oil and renewing your skin for the second round–holiday happy hour. Prepare a light touch up bag, almost like a survival kit for your face. You can make sure you have rice paper for blotting and some quick pick me ups so you’re not wearing a mask of makeup all day long. Plus, you will feel prepared for anything–trust me. If you are really going to be pressed for time, pick up a night-time acne treatment and or a night-time hydration treatment. This way, you will condition while you sleep.

WATER–if you’re going to be going off the rails with soda or booze–you’re going to that reflected in your skin. Keep your body hydrated from the inside out. Drink even more water than you think–within reason. I mean, you don’t  have to go crazy, I’ve heard of people dying from drinking too much water! But, you get the idea.

Most importantly, don’t skip your normal routine in favor of a few more minutes of sleep in the morning. You’re going to be mighty busy–take the time to stay true to your skin. If you do a home facial once a week–stick to it. Don’t upset the delicate balance when your skin needs attention the most–under holiday stress!

Last but not least–if you’re not going to listen to anything that I’ve said, at least promise me that you will exfoliate on a regular basis. And the water. Just promise me those two things…and I can rest easy, knowing that my work is done.

Stress Free Christmas? Hardly. Keep up with your skin care regiment!


Bird Poop Facial…Really

Uhm….what? Ok. I’m not a skin care expert by anyone’s stretch of the imagination. I am also not a snob when it comes to doing weird stuff for my acne. That said, I was just chatting with a girlfriend in New York. We were gossiping and it wasn’t long until it turned to crazy skin care stuff. She was telling me about the Geisha Facial that is offered at an upscale spa by her apartment. Apparently, it is a facial that is comprised largely of nightingale droppings…I’m speechless. So, you’re laying on the table, listening to some new-agey, harp-y music while some lady spreads bird poop onto your face.

I looked into it and it sounds pretty interesting…seriously. Is it based on the superstition that a bird pooping on you is good luck? Sort of. There are some versions that require the poop to land on your had to count towards “good luck”. Yeahhhhhhhh. This is the poop of a very specific type, a nightingale, called the Japanese bush warbler. The nightingale poop is an ancient Japanese facial technique that has been picked up by more westward salons. The facial is supposed to soften the skin, giving it a brighter appearance.

But, what does it “smell” like? I’ve heard is has a musky quality, I’ve also heard it referred to as “medicinal” while still others claim there is no smell at all. Well, yeah. That’s that. Bird poop facials…great.