Beauty

[Current] Favorite Skincare Products From A Girl With Enough Facial Oil Production To Run A Car

For months I have been trying to write a post for my blog about skincare. And not just any type of skincare, but skincare for those of us with oily skin.

To be honest with you all, I have really been struggling with producing a good enough post to publish. I keep starting a post, taking a break from it, going back to it, erasing everything I’d previously written, and starting the process over again. And then again. And then once again. Why has it been so difficult for me to get this damn post going? If you have oily skin, you know firsthand how impossible it is to find products that work well. The last fifteen years of my life have been an ongoing search to find decent products for oily skin. Let me tell you, it’s been exhausting and expensive!

When you have oily skin, you can’t use any oil-based products [contrary to the popular belief that adding oil to your skin will reduce the need for your skin to product more oil – this is false! well, at least for me, personally]. You also can’t use any products with “dirty” ingredients [aka they should be paraben-free, sulfite-free, cruelty-free – basically anything that will clog your pores]. Oily skin is always a culprit of enlarged pores. Which also means lots of blackheads and clogging >>> acne [yuck!].

The last few years, I’ve become obsessed with my skin and finding products that work. After roughly 16 or 17 years of dealing with oily, acne-prone, and blackhead-ridden skin, I’m sick of it! I’m tired of having to reapply makeup midday, I’m tired of looking like I have giant black freckles all over my nose and chin, and I’m tired of having to wash my face with three different types of cleanser before finally ridding it of all dirt, grease and grime [and this only last for, like, maybe an hour until it all comes right back]. And after countless products and treatments and thousands of dollars spent, you know what I’ve discovered that works? Absolutely NOTHING. Well, nothing long-term, at least..

A couple of years ago, I had my first ever facial. It was wonderful! My skin felt so clean after, and my esthetician praised my skin. “Oily skin is the keeper of youth!” She exclaimed to me. Apparently the overproduction of oil keeps the wrinkles at bay. Something that, at nearly 31 with almost no wrinkles to speak of [save for a few laugh lines around my eyes], I guess I should be grateful for [especially after years of cooking myself in tanning beds – yikes! note to younger generation, DON’T GO TO THE TANNING BED! if you must be tan, get a spray tan or use at-home self-tanners! stay tuned for a blog post on the self-tanners I love]. I ended up purchasing five products she recommended to help to minimize the oil production [only two of which I’ve continued to use], and a year later invested in a Clarisonic, another product she recommended I purchase, which I now use religiously every morning.

SO, since I’ve deduced that this oily skincare thing is an ongoing experiment with no foreseeable end in sight, I’m listing below the products I am currently using for exfoliating, cleansing and moisturizing. Stay tuned for posts to come on face masks I use and love, as well as makeup products I can’t live without.

AM PRODUCTS:

Circadia by Dr. Pugliese Micro-Exfoliating Honey Cleanser: This is one of the two products I continue to use from my esthetician that I absolutely LOVE. It’s a gentle exfoliant so it doesn’t scratch the skin or cause any irritation. It’s also not overly drying, which can be a huge side effect for many facial exfoliants. I use this first thing in the morning to start the cleansing process – it really helps to get some of the overnight grime off my face and loosens up some of the other, underlying stuff that it isn’t quite strong enough to remove on its own. If I’m running behind or only have time for a quick wash, this is my go-to. While it does exfoliate, it also cleanses, which is an absolute must for me.

Clarisonic Deep Pore Cleansing: The great thing about Clarisonic is that the products are completely customizable for your skin type. If you go to their website, you can locate the correct cleansers and brushes based on whether your skin is dry or oily, or if you are just simply looking for an anti-aging product. I use the deep pore cleansing brush and cleanser directly after the honey exfoliant to finish cleaning out my pores. Note that when you first start using these products you will likely experience some dry skin and peeling – just be sure to have good moisturizers on hand to help with re-moisturizing the skin properly afterward [<– I say “properly” because lots of moisturizers are cheap and won’t absorb into the skin – instead they just sit on the surface and cause buildup]!

Drunk Elephant Beste No. 9 Jelly Cleanser: I actually just started using this cleanser since I got a sample of it with a makeup purchase from Sephora and I love it! So far it’s been a great post exfoliating step in the cleansing process to really finishing wiping away all of the dirt and grime shaken out of my pores from the exfoliant and the Clarisonic. Another thing I love about this product is that a little bit goes a LONG way, which, when it comes to expensive skincare products, is ideal! I also like that it doesn’t overly dry out my skin, which is important for oily-prone skin types. Over drying of the skin can and will cause over oil production, which is what we are trying to avoid.

Thayers Witch Hazel Toner: This is the final step in my cleansing process. I’ve gone back-and-forth between whether or not toner is really a necessary step in the cleansing process – it’s supposed to help close your pores and balance the skin’s pH after cleansing. I can’t say for sure that it really does either of these things, not for me at least, but it does clean off any lingering oil, dirt and makeup which, for a large-pored, greasy skinned gal like me, is good enough! You’d be surprised how much dirt and grease can be leftover on the skin, even after three steps of cleansing! It’s actually pretty appalling. Another reason I love this toner is that’s alcohol free!

After my four-step cleansing process, I apply my moisturizer. During the winter, or if I’ve introduced a new cleanser into my routine and I’m experiencing more dryness than usual, I will sometimes apply several layers of moisturizer until my skin feels soft and hydrated again. As good as it feels to have dry skin when you’re accustomed to the opposite, this is the worst thing you can do when you have oily skin. Dry skin = oil production. When you’ve already got oil, the last thing you need is more. Also, I alternate between several different types of face moisturizers, depending on what I feel like my skin needs. They are all day and night friendly, so can be used either in the morning or at night before bed. I’ve listed them all below.

Youth to the People Eye Cream: I actually discovered this product while searching Sephora online for a vegan product. I’ve never used any thing fully vegan before, but I thought my eyes would be a great place to start a sort of testing process. So far, I love it! It definitely moisturizes without clogging my pores. One thing you need to remember is that regular face moisturizers won’t work for moisturizing around your eyes. Your pores are different sizes, and the face formulas will not soak into eye pores and therefore just end up resting on top of your skin and adding another layer of gunk – again, not oily skin friendly!

GlamGlow Volcasmic Matte Moisturizer: This product also came to me in a sample pack around Christmas time, and I love how moisturizing it is. During the winter, this product was a lifesaver for keeping my skin hydrated. As we move into warmer weather, I am starting the process of phasing this product out, as it has a little bit too much moisture for the summer months in Sacramento.

ModVellum Day & Night Moisturizer: This was the other product I purchased from my eshtetician that I’ve continued to use all this time. I absolutely LOVE this moisturizer – it’s just hydrating enough to make your skin feel moisturized, but not to the point where it starts to feel greasy. This is a great product for summer and for places that are a little more humid.

Drunk Elephant Lala Retro Whipped Cream: I just got this in a sample pack so I haven’t used to too much yet, but I love it’s “just hydrated enough” feel. Similar to the ModVellum moisturizer, it’s not overly hydrating, so it’s perfect as the weather starts to warm up and the humidity amps up a little bit.

Dermalogica Solar Defense Booster SPF50: Okay I lied, this is the third product I’ve kept from my esthetician. And this also is a “little goes a long way” product – all you need is two small dabs to mix in with your moisturizer! I use it in conjunction with all of my moisturizers, and I love it because it’s not greasy and doesn’t take ages to dry like regular sunscreens. It mixes easily with your moisturizer and soaks smoothly into the skin. Plus, I love that it’s SPF50 because as I’ve gotten older, my skin has gotten way more sensitive to the sun! While my cursed oily skin has been a blessing in the wrinkle department, I definitely do not want to fight the anti-aging qualities of oily skin by not using sunscreen.

PM PRODUCTS:

Neutrogena Makeup Remover Cleansing Towlettes: I’ve tried several different types of makeup removing wipes, but I like these ones the best. I keep a pack of these in my gym bag, and a pack of them in my makeup drawer. I always wipe my face makeup off before working out so the makeup on my skin doesn’t clog my pores when my body is trying to sweat. I also use one before I wash my face. Although the oil on my face tends to act as a self cleaner and most days my makeup ends up just beading away, my large pores also suck makeup into them. Using a wipe before cleansing actually clears the surface of my face of any oils and whatever makeup is left, allowing the cleansers I use afterward to actually clean the underlying layers. In the past, I’ve tried to just wash the makeup off my face with a cleanser, and there’s so much makeup left behind that it caused my skin to overproduce oil and my pores ended up getting clogged.

Dove White Beauty Bar: Yup, this is just plain ol’ bar soap! I honestly can’t remember how I came to end up using this everyday drugstore soap, but I love it. It doesn’t over dry my skin, and due to the fact that it’s designed to clean dirt off your hands, legs, arms, etc., I kind of figure, why can’t it work for the face, too? And it does! I use this after the Neutrogena towlettes because it’s terrible at removing face makeup, but it’s great at cleansing off oils and eye makeup. This Dove soap really leaves my skin feeling clean and soft, which is ideal for oily skin.

Kate Somerville Detox Daily Cleanser: I use this product about once or twice a week when I’m feeling like my skin needs a little extra cleansing. Every once in a while, after so many days of running and working out after work, I’ll start to get little tiny bumps on my skin – they’re not whiteheads or blackheads, so I’m not exactly sure what they are. But it’s a clear sign that my skin needs a little more TLC. I’ll lather some of this on my face after the Dove soap and it just adds another round of gentle cleansing to my skin, and, like the other products I love, it doesn’t over dry.

After my nighttime cleansing routine, I’ll either throw on a face mask [stay tuned for a post on all the masks I’m loving], or I’ll follow with my same morning toner and moisturizing products. Sometimes I’ll just use toner and let my skin breathe and be product-free overnight. It never seems to change the outcome in the morning [as in, my face is still a freakin’ grease ball], but I like to think it’s good for it to have some time every so often without the constant layering of products.

I can’t promise that any of these products will help you or work for your skin. And I’m only sharing what’s working for me right now. As I mentioned before, this whole skincare process is ever-evolving for me and I’m constantly trying new products [one of the many reasons I love the free samples that get thrown in when you buy makeup!]. My one piece of advice for you is that you do your own research when it comes to what works for your skin. As much as I’d like to trust a professional with their products and opinions, you have to take what they say with a grain of salt, as they are often trying to just make money off of you. Truth be told, they don’t always know what’s best. Know your skin, know what you’re sensitive to, and don’t continue using a product if it irritates your skin. Save your receipts! Most places will allow you to return products if they aren’t working for you.

Stay tuned for posts to come on makeup products I use, face masks, and other skincare treatments like chemical peels, facials and dermaplaning!

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[Long] Hair Affair

Roughly ten years ago is when I was first introduced to the concept of the hair extension [be forewarned, gentlemen – this is a post for the ladies].

I must have been totally clueless because it literally never even dawned on me that occasionally female actresses and singers would suddenly have long, gorgeous hair and it literally seemed to happen overnight. [I know, right? Like, DUH, Sarah.]

At nineteen, I was finally getting to the point in my life where I was learning to put myself together. If I’m being honest, I was mostly a tomboy up until my senior year of high school. I never cared much for make up, fashion, or boys [yeah, lezbehonest]. I actually did spend money to get my hair highlighted, but that’s only because I couldn’t deal with the dishwatery mousy blonde that was growing naturally out of my head.

So when I eventually got my act together and boys actually started to notice me, I obviously became addicted to anything and everything girly. And I was completely awestruck with the idea of extensions. I’ve truly been trying to grow my hair out for my entire life, and it seems I am just one of those unlucky souls who is destined to have collar-bone-length hair for the rest of my life.

Or not.

Once I discovered the hair extension, I was completely hooked, and I have never looked back. I have been wearing them for ten years. Yes, TEN YEARS. People don’t even know I’m wearing them [which is, ultimately, the point]. I get a TON of compliments on my hair, and I feel a bit selfish keeping my secrets to myself. I believe that all women should be able to afford the hair length they want, and know that they can do it themselves without breaking the bank.

In these ten years of instantly “growing” my hair, I have tried almost every single type of hair extension under the sun. I’ve glued them in, I’ve had them sewn into tiny cornrows that were braided underneath my hair and against my scalp [I do not recommend either of these methods – they are both itchy, painful, and rip unhealthy amounts of hair out of your head], and I’ve also had them taped in. This is much better on your scalp and hair, but it’s expensive to keep up. I don’t know about you, but I can’t afford the setback of $500 every few months.

If you’re living on a budget like I am, then I have your solution. I buy my hair at Sally Beauty. They have tons of different colors, lengths and varieties. I recommend buying the real human hair versus the synthetic blend – it’s more expensive but it will last longer. And because I color my hair myself, I usually buy two different colors and sew them together to get the desired tone. If you have a darker hair hue and you can’t find an exact extension color to match, feel free to dye the hair. Just like the hair on your head, extensions can tolerate darker dye. I have experimented with brown hair and have had to dye my extensions in the past. When putting the weave together, I generally sew two or three layers together to create a thickness that will mimic my natural growth. Instead of gluing the weaves onto my head, though, I sew them onto clips, which you can also pick up at Sally [you’ll also need a sewing needle and thread, which you can find there as well]. Then you just tease your hair against your scalp where the clip will go, spritz lightly with hair spray, put the clip in, and you’re done. Well, and style as desired, obvi.

CARE AND MAINTENANCE! This is important if you want longevity. In all of the years that I’ve been buying my own extensions, the quality has gone down significantly. These days, the weaves don’t have as much hair, and the hair itself doesn’t last very long. When I used to glue mine in, I would wash them, sleep on them, tease them, hair spray them – I treated them like my own hair. And they lasted for months without thinning or frizzing. I still buy the exact same brand of hair, but I have learned that I have to treat it 100% differently. I still sleep in my extensions, but I would highly recommend that you don’t. They get tangled and frizzy after only one slumber, and the ends get dry and crispy [yes, crispy. It’s not pretty]. Extensions don’t receive the same natural oils from your scalp, which is why I rub Moroccan oil into the ends of mine every morning. Also, DO NOT WASH YOUR EXTENSIONS EVERY DAY. The shampoo and conditioner will strip what little “preservatives,” if you will, from the hair. I wash mine every two weeks or so. And all it takes is a tiny bit of shampoo and conditioner. And make sure you let them air dry! Using as little heat as possible on them is vital. And using a high quality heat protectant before you style will help keep them from aging rapidly as well.

The hardest part about all of this is “building” your extensions. I usually set aside two or so hours to put mine together – it’s a lengthy process, but it’s worth it if it means you’re saving hundreds of dollars.

Instant long hair? Saving money? These are a few of my favorite things..

Complexion Complexities

It’s no secret that we’re having a major drought out here in California.

Yesterday, the weather forecast for this weekend was rain, rain, rain.

This morning, as I pondered my appearance and checked the weather to coordinate my outfit accordingly, I was shocked to see that Saturday now has a predicted high of 66. Degrees. Fahrenheit. In Northern California. In the dead of January.

Now, if there was any way possible to convert the oil production made by my body into H2O, I honestly believe that we could cure the drought problem.

Okay, so maybe it’s not that drastic, but for those of you who know the all-to-familiar midday facial sheen (or, rather, the sheen that appears less than one hour after make-up application), it seems like it’s a constant uphill battle. And by uphill, I mean that you don’t actually get anywhere.

For years I have tried what seems like every oil-fighting product under the sun, and to no avail. “Proven to minimize pores and reduce oil production!” LIE.

After resolving to make this year a better and healthier year for myself (and my dog, but that’s beside the point), I finally took some of my free time to do some research (okay, I’m at work. But desperate times call for desperate measures).

What exactly is it that causes this major fire hazard on my face? And, IS THERE SOMETHING I CAN DO TO PREVENT IT?! Or at least reduce it.

Since product trial-and-error has previously failed me, I decided to steer my research in a different direction.

When I was little, my grandpa wouldn’t each chocolate. He always said, “Chocolate gives you zits.” When you’re a kid, that’s like telling a child “The sky is green” when it’s clearly blue. I mean, obviously there’s no way that something that goes into your belly can affect what’s happening on your face.

Turns out, it can.

And, as it also turns out, everything that’s on my “Most favorite foods to eat in the entire world” list is a major no-no for people who have overly oily skin. Insert sad sigh.

As I clicked madly from website to website, hoping for some sort of variety (or at least a loophole), I kept seeing the same thing: “Foods to avoid: red meats and meats high in fat content, dairy, processed sugars, soda and alcohol.” So basically everything I consume on a day-to-day basis. Double sad sigh.

So, I guess 2015 really is going to be the year of a total lifestyle change. And while I could throw a tantrum and cry about it, I won’t. I’m going to look at this as an amazing opportunity to see if changing your diet really can affect your body, or if we can chalk it up to an old wive’s tale.

Because, let’s face it, while winding down your day with hot green tea and a yoga sesh is relaxing, it just doesn’t do the trick like a glass of wine and a box of chocolates..

Saving Face.. From Oil Slick to Clean Slate

Ah, finally. It’s five o’clock. The hole-in-the-wall restaurant across the street has happy hour and you can already practically taste the shockingly good martini they serve. A good-looking man across the bar has caught your eye. His loosened tie and whiskey-on-the-rocks indicates that he just stepped out of a stuffy office job and is looking for a relaxing, if not semi-wild, evening. There is even a sexy five o’clock shadow making it’s merry way across his gorgeous face. You want to catch his eye, so you make a quick, discreet peek in your cosmetic mirror to make sure you look presentable. You wonder who the hell got into your purse and taped an ugly photo on your mirror when – HOLY SHIT – it’s you!

Yes, the dreaded, ongoing battle of over oil production on the female face strikes again. And, of course, at the most inopportune moment (like always).

UGH.

I swear, if scientists could figure out a way to scrape the oil off of our skin and turn it into gasoline, we would never EVER have to worry about fuel shortages again. In fact, gas prices would probably plummet.

Legitimately, that is how much oil production happens on my face – EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

It is AWFUL.

And as a professional woman in the working world, I HAVE to wear make-up. Not a TON, mind you, but at least enough for a little bit of coverage. And it is damn near IMPOSSIBLE to find make-up that is made for oily skin. Forget about trying to find an entire line of the same product that will battle the doomed midday oil explosion. That is completely out of the question.

So what is a girl to do?!

I can’t say that my methods will work for everyone, but they sure as hell have begun to work for me. The least I can do is share my secrets for the constant and ongoing oil reduction battle with my fellow comrades.

The first thing you must ALWAYS do is wash your face. I’ve always used plain Dove bar soap (just the basic navy blue labeled one), which is great for oily skin. It doesn’t completely dry out your skin, just cleanses and rids the surface of dirt and oils. Recently, I was turned on to a skincare line called “Say Yes to Tomatoes” (or grapefuit, carrots, blueberries). Each product is designed for a different skin type, but the “Tomatoes” line is specifically for combination/oily skin. If you choose to invest, it is best to purchase the whole product line. Not just the moisturizer or just the cleanser. They work best together (Say Yes to Tomatoes can be purchased at Target or Walmart).

yes to tomatoes

After cleansing you MUST apply moisturizer. I know it seems silly when you already have a ridiculous amount of moisture production on your face, but this is actually caused by excessive drying of the skin. Your body thinks it needs to produce MORE oil to compensate for the lack of moisture left in and on your skin post cleansing. There are a million moisturizes out there that are created specifically for oily skin. I use the “Tomatoes” brand, but Olay makes a great one as well (which also contains SPF 15, which is a plus).

The next step for me is applying primers. I found a brand at Ulta called “Cargo.” Their products are designed for those of us with oily skin. I recently acquired a Mary Kay primer as well (also designed for more oily faces), which I apply after the Cargo layer. I use my fingers for both of these, but it’s probably best to use brushes for all make-up application. As I’m sure you’re well aware, our hands are constantly picking up dirt and grime throughout the day. Regardless of whether or not you’ve just washed your hands in cleansing your face, your hands still carry generic body oils that can be transferred back onto your face in make-up application. This is best avoided by using brushes (which you must cleanse at least once a week, as these will also grab onto your facial oils and carry them in their bristles, and then brush it all back onto your face – GROSS).

make up 1

Not everyone uses liquid foundation, but I have to. My skin isn’t all one color, and have small patches of redness that need to be evened out with a little bit of liquid base. I’ve tried every product under the sun, but the best ones that I’ve discovered are drug store brands – Revlon, Cover Girl, Maybelline, etc. These companies are constantly changing their formulas and developing new products. As strange as it seems, their make-up lines are always the most up-to-date products on the market. Revlon makes a great liquid for combination/oily skin, as well as Cover Girl. I recently switched to the Cover Girl – it gives me GREAT coverage and I hardly have to use any to get the look that I want. The bottle literally lasts for months. And it costs about $6. Can’t beat that!

cover girl

I never used to wear cover-up, but as I’ve gotten older and my eating and lifestyle habits have changed, I’ve found more of a necessity for it. In this I have also tried a million different products, but my two favorites are Tarte (they have two kinds, a liquid and a stick – I prefer the stick) and Too Faced Absolutely Flawless. They are both great for those pesky dark circles that magically appear under your eyes for no apparent reason, as well as covering annoying red patches that also happen pop up in the most random of places.

make up 2

While I let the liquid foundation and my cover-up soak in and “dry up” a bit, if you will, I move to my eyes. The first thing I do is apply an eyeshadow primer. Not entirely necessary, but it definitely helps to keep your shadow and liner on all day long without reapplication. The only brand I’ve tried is MAC Primer Pot, but I’m sure any other (namely: cheaper) product will work equally as well. After the primer I apply first my shadow(s) and then my liner. I use Kat Von D Ink Liner, or MAC Liquid Liner Pot. If you love the “cat-eye” look like I do, liquid liners are definitely the best choice – especially because they will last much longer without a necessary reapplication midday. Liquid liners also respond best to oily skin – even though oils are, more often than not, produced in the infamous “T-Zone” and sometime on our chins, occasionally some will make it’s way to the eyelids, which can be a disaster for eyeliner situations. I have found that liquid will power through an oil struggle a lot better than pencil will.

The next step is foundation. Again. For non-liquid foundations (aka loose powder or compressed/packed powder), the best for oily skin is usually loose powder. I did some research and read that MAC’s loose powders are the best for oily skin, but I cannot attest to this since it’s pretty much the only product I’ve ever used (I was already using their powder when I did some reading). I also have a compressed powder by Pixie (Target), and another loose powder by Bare Minerals. I use the MAC the most, but the other two combined work great as well. This is more of a personal preference, I think, but loose powders are definitely better and soaking up any lingering facial oils.

make up 5

make up 4

If you wear bronzer, it is applied next, after the powder. Not everyone wears bronzer, but I do. I like to have a little bit of a glow, especially in the dead of winter when I look like Snow White after rolling around in a pile of flour. For bronzer I have used compressed MAC, but I’ve recently started to shy away from their bronzer because, in my experience, it is not good quality and doesn’t stay on my face. These days, I’m loving Too Faced compressed bronzer, and also loose Sonia Kashuk from Target. Again, personal preference falls into play here, since there really isn’t one bronzer that is going to be better at oil absorption.

make up 6

make up 3

If you fill in/pencil in your brows, this step would fall in here (well, it does with my daily routine, at least).

Once I’ve got the base of my face on (so, basically, everything sans eyelashes), I spray on Urban Decay’s De-Slick make-up setting spray. It’s designed specifically for setting your make-up, and, BONUS.. OIL CONTROL! This is BY FAR the BEST product, to date, that I have found. I have had it for about two weeks, and have not had to touch up my make-up a single time in the middle of the day. The bottle says to spray your face 2-4 times, but I limit myself to 1 or 2 and it’s definitely enough to last through the day.

85120_settingspray_deslick

And, finally, mascara, to finish off your beautiful, glowing (and from make-up, not oil) face.

I hope my make-up methods work as well for the rest of you as they do for me. At the end of a long workday, there is nothing more gratifying than peeking in the mirror to find that your face is still on and ready for mingling.