Retin-A Update

Holy crap it’s been awhile since I last blogged! I had to reread some of my older posts to remind myself what kind of head space I was in and of my blogging style. Needless to say, it’s been a long time. In order not to bore anyone I’ll keep what I was doing over the last couple of months for another blog post. Here, I’ll focus on what my skin has been doing since I started Retin-A back in December.

I’m not sure if I mentioned this in depth in my December post, but I went through some pretty bad purging and dryness. It was never too terrible but there were times where my skin was noticeable dry and flaky and I looked like a dehydrated hot mess. It was pretty obvious I was using a Vitamin A cream starting the second month when along with the dryness, I got quite a few bright and shiny red zits to prove it. Yes, it’s fair to say that I never broke out that badly in my life (besides when I was on hormonal birth control) and I still have some of the scars on my skin from the ordeal. But while slightly traumatizing (I mean come on as traumatizing as silly skin issues paired with OCD can be) it was necessary. My pores were still super clogged from the months spent with my IUD and my skin had loads of hyper-pigmentation to go along with that. Still, I don’t want to give an inaccurate idea of my skin. It was actually always only ‘moderately’ bad/ breaking out. Never anything cystic and my whole face was never covered. I was just a freak about it and wanted baby bottom smooth skin. Every imperfection grated on me and made me an anxious mess about stepping out of the house.

The months of purging and peeling didn’t help my situation. More angry red spots that I couldn’t even cover because my skin was so dry that the makeup I put on top of it made it look worse. Eventually, I had to switch all of my skin care up,going to a new ELTA MD UV Clear  46 Sunscreen, CeraVE Skin Renewing  Night Cream (a fucking life saver), and the Glossier Skin Tint (which has how been recently reformulated to have oil in it which seriously sucks crap but I have two pre-reformulation bottles as backup). This transition, especially with the moisturizer, helped my skin finally get some much needed hydration back all around the same time my skin was actually stopping purging and started resembling the silky smooth skin of my dreams. Oh yah, and my oil came back as soon as summer hit too.

Was it worth it? Was the fourth time I started Retin-A finally the time I was going to stick through it? Yep. It was. And I completely owe my current complexion to my patience (a big factor here), my skin care routine, and the wonderful collagen inducing rebuilding factors of Vitamin A.

Now is my skin perfect? No. It’s not. It still has hyperpigmention. Some areas are still a tiny bit dry sometimes. I have a small spot every now and again that for the most part goes away quickly within a few days. Occasionally (like once or twice since March) I’ll get something a little less small that’s a pain in the ass but Retin-A still takes care of that rather quickly. I’ve been told this is because the medication I’m on can cause breakouts, but I need my medicine and my skin is silky smooth, I wear very little makeup, and strangers now (repeat now… I never got this before in my life) say my skin looks fantastic. That’s of course, on it’s good days.

You might be wondering why I took the time to write yet another skin care journey post, the skeletons of which fill up internet chats and blog sites like ship wrecks surrounding a sand bar, but I promise I have a point. What I wanted to say here, is that it was worth it. This is coming from a woman who hates flaws so intensely that she would rather not leave the house than be seen without concealer, a woman who used to majorly pick at her skin and told her boyfriend at the time that they couldn’t Skype for her first months on Retin-A because she didn’t want to look ugly. As it turned out, no matter how much I wanted to quit during those early stages, the result was worth the infinitesimal struggle and the journey from December to March wasn’t all that painful. Yes, I still skyped my boyfriend. Yes I still went on dates and met new people. Yah, I even still looked pretty. And the end result of a couple months of discomfort was the beautiful skin I was promised. For my moderate acne and oily prone skin, it was the exact skin solution I needed.

Now here are some before and after pictures. Unfortunately, most of my footage is photo that I can’t upload here but I did get one picture of the side of my face that broke out. Keep in mind that is was after the major redness had gone down. The second picture is of me today. 🙂

IMG_20180127_230508 IMG_20180625_154145

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High-end Haul/ Review

Okay let’s get started here! I’ve purchased a lot of makeup over the past few months that I was away and I’ve had the ability to test it all out and really form my impressions. I’ll do this by brand.

MAC:

I purchased two MAC lipsticks after I got a sample of Velvet Teddy (the lipstick I’ve always wanted from MAC) and Diva. Since both of the lipstick looked good on me I decided to purchase them both and I can’t say that I’ve been happier with the colors. Diva is this excellent burgundy that is so flattering, especially in these months and Velvet Teddy is the nude lipstick I’ve always dreamed about. One compliant that I do have is that both lipsticks are drying but if you prep your lips before hand it’s not a big deal and the colors stay all day without a replication needed. They  also smell fantastic. I highly recommend this two colors.

Stila:

I got a sample from Sephora of their Stay All Day Matte Liquid lipsticks and I couldn’t be happier with the formula or the color in Baci. It’s a grey pinkish nude color and I never would have picked it for myself but it is beautiful. The formula is fairly nondrying and stays on beautifully.

Hourglass:

I tried a sample of their Lip Stylo in the shade Peacemaker and the formula in many ways is the exact opposite of the Stila one… it’s not as full color and the formula is creamy rather than matte but I am extremely happy with this formula and color. It matches my lips so well, appears very natural all while making my lips look fuller and healthier. Go Hourglass! Now I just wish the brand wasn’t so darned expensive because I adore their products.

SEPHORA FAVORITES
Instant Texture Dry Styling Spray Collection:

This collection is really great for short wavy hair like mine. Honestly nothing much to say here. Just that the effect is subtle with some of the products and the Verb Sea Salt spray isn’t my favorite Sea Salt Spray (that mantle belongs to a drug store hair product from the Not Your Mother’s line) but it’s good and it smells like the sea. The stand out product in this box has to be the Drybar Triple Sec 3-in-1 because of it’s delicious smell but I noticed the most results from the IGK Beach Club Texture Spray (even if it did make my hair a little stiff it added a nice gritty texture that is so great for hair with waves and layers).

Clinique:

I was looking for a mask that I could use to help my oily skin mattify a little bit and I found that with the CLINIQUE Pore Refining Solutions Charcoal Mask. It’s very basic but it works extremely well and it actually helps get rid of my acne faster! I’m a big fan of this mask and I think Clinique is often looked over skincare wise but this mask wasn’t too expensive, you get a ton of product, and it doesn’t have an harsh ingredients. Definitely something I will repurchase if I ever should run out. 

Drunk Elephant:

Their Vitamin C serum is a holy grail product for me. It’s already started to get rid of my hormonal acne marks that I got from having an IUD. This product is expensive as all hell but it works like no other. It works better than the Glossier Super Glow Serum (which I admittedly liked). If you’re looking to spend on skin care, really consider this but make sure you wear sunscreen with Vitamin C products.

Anastasia Beverly Hills:

I know the Subculture pallet got a lot of hate but I actually really like it. It’s not a love of mine like the Modern Renaissance palette is but the color scheme is like nothing I have in my collection and I can create beautiful cool and warm looks. The green/ blue shades are lovely and the glitter shades are best applied patted on with your finger or with a dense brush. Two warnings I have for the shades: Dawn is quite a bit powdery but it’s still very workable and the shade Edge oxidizes to a darker brown/ yellow than what you see in the pan. Also keep in mind that these are basically pressed pigments so the palette could have a little bit of a learning curve if you don’t have a light hand. Just be gentle and you will come up with something beautiful. Below is a slightly smudged out look I got using the palette. It’s not my best, but it’s definitely smokey and I’m   quite happy. What doesn’t pick up in the picture is the beautiful gold that I pressed on my lids. I clearly just need a better camera!

Also don’t forget that I have a YouTube Makeup channel now. Here’s the link to my latest gradient lip tutorial: Sunset Gradient Lip Tutorial

Summer (or any season really) Makeup

My makeup routine doesn’t change too much when it comes to summer. My normal makeup routine resembles a lot of people’s summer routine: a tinted moisturizer with SPF, loads of sunscreen, SPF powder for touch ups (if I use powder at all), lip balm with SPF (yes, there is a clear theme here), concealer,  mascara, lipstick and/or lipgloss, and depending on the day, eyeshadow. I rarely do the full face with bronzer, primer eyeliner, blush, contour, foundation, preferring to go light on face products all year long, especially during summer, but I have some suggestions for lighter wear products that withstand hot temperatures.

SPF: Never skip on this, especially if you have fairer skin (but really no one should skip this step). Elta MD, Cerave, La Roche Posay, Neutrogena, and Glossier all have sunscreen options that work well depending on your skin type, budget, skin tone, and level of skin sensitivity. Think about whether you prefer a chemical or physical formula for your sunscreen.

Base: Tinted Moisturizer with SPF is a summer necessity . They provide enough coverage to even out your skin tone, provide additional, complementary sun protection, and give a glow to your skin. Despite having extremely oily skin, I find the options I’ve listed last a long time and give a pleasant finish to my skin that doesn’t make it look greasy.

My favorites are:

  • Nars Radiant Tinted Moisturizer SPF 30 (my shade is Terre Neuve) because it comes in a variety of shades, gives good coverage, looks very natural, doesn’t break me out (a real concern when it comes to having sensitive acne-prone skin) and the finish is beautiful. However, it is pricey and it is a bit luminous. I do set my T-zone with a tiny bit of powder when I use this during the summer to make sure I don’t look sweaty later on in the day. This is the product I’m currently using and loving right now.
  • Dr. Jart’s Gold Label BB Cream SPF 45 because it gives excellent, but still natural looking coverage (especially when applied with a brush), and has a semi-matte finish on the skin. I still need to set this if I want my makeup to last all day but it is rather long lasting. Unfortunately, it only comes in two shades and is pricey, which makes it an unrealistic option for most people. Despite how much I like this, I have to be careful when I use it because the Light/ Medium shade is rather pink on me.
  • Maybelline Dream Fresh BB Cream SPF 30 is a much cheaper option with the least amount of coverage on the list, but it will still even out your complexion rather well. I used this  during high school and college and this is the only product my college roommate/ best friend uses on her face (she loves it that much). This product only comes in three shades, which admittedly can make it difficult to work with, but it is sheer enough that a lot of people can utilize one of the options.

Foundation options if you don’t want something with SPF and/or need more coverage:

  • L’oreals’ True Match Lumi Cushion is my favorite to wear any time of year and for events because it still looks natural and undetectable on my skin, comes in many different shades, is easy to apply on the go, and can be built up super easily. I wore it for my graduation and it held up for hours. What sucks about it is that it’s not terribly cheap for the amount of product you get and it gets used up rather quickly. I still repurchase it but I only use it on special occasions.
  • Maybelline’s Dream Cushion Foundation only has six shades, but it has a less luminous finish than L’oreal if that’s not your thing, is longer lasting (not that I’ve had a problem with the L’oreal Cushion’s lasting power), has all of the application benefits of the L’oreal cushion, and lasts longer produce wise. I still only use it for special occasions because there isn’t a shade that matches me as well as I would like and I find it has more coverage than I want, but it’s still a great product.

Concealer:

This is my favorite beauty product. It’s the only one I find completely necessary and it’s the only one I won’t leave the house without. Putting some concealer on immediately makes me feel better and more presentable, especially since after trying so many, I found the right one. Setting these with the tiniest bit of powder will help their longevity but the Nars option doesn’t really need it.

  • I use Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer for spot concealing and sometimes on my under eyes in the shade Vanilla. It’s my favorite, holy grail makeup item–my only holy grail makeup item. The shade range is extensive and it provides full coverage without looking cakey and simply makes me happy. I wish it cost a whole hell of a lot less though.
  • Wet n Wild’s Photofocus concealer is another great option for both undereyes (I find that the Nars concealer is sometimes a little drying for my bizarrely textured undereyes) and spot concealer. It costs 3-4 dollars and works beautifully.
  • Glossier’s Stretch Concealer is my favorite option for undereyes but it’s not great for spot concealing, it’s a bit expensive, and while it provides a natural coverage, it doesn’t cover discoloration completely. I use it because it’s hydrating, doesn’t exaggerate problems with  my undereye area, and I enjoy the finish but I do set it with a bit of powder because it needs it or it will crease.

Powders:

  • Physician’s Formula has two great cheap options with SPF that have worked better for more than more expensive versions and don’t break me out. Their SPF 30 Talc free loose powder is useful for dusting on your face when you don’t need a lot of coverage (it keeps the oil away rather well) and there is a SPF 30 pressed powder version that provides a bit more coverage and is easy to use for touch ups. Both come in a few shades but the line could use a more range.
  • Hourglass’s Ambient Lighting powders are expensive but they’re extremely beautiful and fool-proof. I’ve used mine everyday to set my undereye area and give my skin a beautiful finish since I purchased it for Christmas. One of my favorite products ever.

Highlighters (a year round, but especially lovely in the summer,  everyday necessity for me):

  • Glossier’s Haloscope is a stick highlighter that comes in three beautiful shades, is easy to apply, and gives a wet look to the skin. My favorite shade is Moonstone.
  • Wet n Wild recently came out with a cushion highlighter that I love. It’s also easy to apply (even easier and slightly less tricky than a stick highlighter) and is very inexpensive. It only comes in one shade though 😦
  • Colourpop’s highlighters are creamy, nondrying, and can be applied with your fingers or a brush. Comes in a slew of colors and are cheap price wise without sacrificing any quality.
  • Nars makes the best liquid highlighters I’ve ever tried because they have lots of impact but can be subtle as well because they melt into the skin. My favorite shade is Copacabana.
  • For powder highlight I like inexpensive options such as Colourpop’s pressed powder highlights, Essence’s beautiful and subtle Pure Nude highlighter,  NYX’s Duochrome highlights and their Strobe of Genius palette.

Bronzer

  • The only bronzer I like well enough to wear consistently is Physican’s Formula great smelling, smooth textured, Butter Bronzer.

Suggestions in this category are super welcome!

Blush

I don’t wear blush too often but I have a few light weight options I love for summer

  • Glossier’s Cloud Paint truly don’t look like makeup on the skin and my favorite shade Dusk can double as a blush/ contour for those with lighter skin tones.
  • Benefit’s Benetint is a classic for a reason. It’s easy to apply, has a universally flattering color, and packs a punch.
  • Nyx’s Whipped Lip and Cheek Souffle functions much like the Benetint it’s a bit thicker though and less stain like), is way cheaper, and comes in more colors.
  • Bite Beauty’s Multisticks are a lovely cream to powder option that never looks unnatural on the skin but still provides intense pigmentation
  • For powder (which is not my favorite during the summer) I use Nars blushes (insanely beautiful, the best blush formula I’ve ever tried), Nyx HD Blushes, or Colourpop’s pressed blush formulas. All great, smoothly formulated, pigmented options.

Lips

  • Maybelline’s creamy mattes for a cheap but long lasting formula that doesn’t dry out the lips.
  • Bite Beauty’s luxurious feeling, pigmented lipsticks that aren’t matte but still last all day long. My favorite lipsticks ever.
  • Colourpop’s Ultra Satin Liquid Lipstick for a liquid lipstick formula that won’t dry your lips out at all, comes in many shades, and is inexpensive
  • Wet n Wild’s Liquid Catsuits for an intensely pigmented liquid lipstick that won’t come off and comes in some stunning shades. Seriously, try the red one.
  • Fresh’s Sugar Lip Treatments with SPF for a tinted balm that will hydrate your lips intensely while looking beautiful.
  • For glosses: NYX’s butter glosses or Colourpop’s Ultra Glossy Lips for inexpensive, lovely shine in a variety of shades

 

Other Summer Products:

SPF (seriously don’t forget that), a makeup mist to help your makeup last longer and get rid of a powdery finish (Elf makes a good one and so does Wet n Wild), a beauty blender like sponge or your fingers for application or a brush if you want more coverage, and blotting papers to get rid of unwanted shine (once again look to Elf for a super inexpensive but effective option).

Thanks for reading! I hope this helped you figure out some good summer makeup options. Leave what you like to wear during summer in the comments!

 

Skin Care (for the obsessed person)

I have sensitive, fry-an-egg-on oily, acne-prone skin. I’m also extremely vigilant when it comes to sun protection and (attempting) keep my skin clear so I don’t pick on it. In the past, I’ve had issues conquering my dermatillomania/ excoriation disorder. I was finally able to leave my skin alone (for the most part) by letting it heal, visiting a dermatologist, using copious amounts of SPF, and paying strict attention to the ingredients in the products I use. Yes, my skin still breaks out and sometimes I can’t help but pick on it, but for the past year I’ve had pretty nice skin and a lot of it is simply due to knowing how to take care of it. Below is my skincare routine and the products I use.

Mornings (daily):

  1. A gentle face wash. Either Soy Fresh Facial Cleanser (my favorite) when I have the money or a gift card, Cerave foaming face wash, or Cetaphil Gentle Cleanser.
  2. A Benyzol Peroxide acne cream on alternating days or a few drops of Glossier’s Super Glow facial serum
  3. A moisturizer. Either Cerave Moisturizing Lotion or CeraVe Night Time Moisturizer (yes for day time).
  4. Eye Cream. I use Cerave’s eye cream.
  5. SPF. My favorites are Glossier’s SPF 35 or the Physical SPF 41 Water Resistant from Elta MD. I also sometimes use Cerave’s Morning Facial Moisturizer SPF 30 but it sometimes plies on me but it’s great otherwise and allows you to skip the all over moisturizing step
  6. Lip Balm to prep my lips.
  7. Makeup (I always use a Tinted Moisturizer with SPF unless it’s an event. Then I use a cushion foundation.)

Extra step: Before makeup, if my skin is red, I use Dr Jart’s Tiger Grass Cream with SPF 30. It color corrects well without me having to add extra makeup.

Night (daily):

  1. Makeup Remover (if I wore makeup). I like the Simple Micellar Water best.
  2. Gentle Facial Cleanser (same as above)
  3. A Retinoid Acne/ skin treatment. I use adapalene 0.1 cream.
  4. A facial moisturizer. Either of the Cerave ones without SPF with a few drops of the Ordinary’s Hyaluronic acid+B5 facial serum

Treatments (mostly done at night):

About once a week at night I use Drunk Elephant’s Baby Facial TLC. On the nights I use this I don’t use the retinoid cream and the next morning I won’t use the benyzol cream so I can avoid drying/ overtreating my skin.

Once or twice a week (also at night and at least two days from the time I used the Drunk Elephant Baby Facial) I use my Clarisonic with the Cerave facial serum

I make sure to use some sort of moisturizing facial mask as well but I haven’t found a good one that isn’t a sample of an obnoxiously expensive product.

Thank you for reading! Let me know what products work well for you and what SPF you like. 🙂