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Skincare talk – acne, retinoids, and lizard skin

Last fall, I finally went to a dermatologist for the first time. I’ve had acne since I was 10, and I was at my breaking point. She prescribed me Clindamycin, a topical antibiotic, and Epiduo Gel, a benzoyl peroxide/adapalene (a retinoid) combo. I left her office hopeful that maybe, for the first time since before puberty, I might have smooth, clear skin. Sadly, after about five days, the Clindamycin broke me out in tiny whiteheads all over my entire face. I used the Epiduo a few times, but since she told me to only use the Epiduo once a week, I saw no results, and I stopped. I did continue to use CeraVe in the tub, which she advised me to use to combat my dry skin.

Unfortunately, my skin has not only not improved, but it’s slowly been getting worse. I regularly have about a dozen closed comedones around my jawline at any time, as well as acne on both cheeks. The dermatologist I saw in fall had no availability when I wanted to make another appointment recently, so I found someone else thinking that maybe a second opinion was a good thing. The first thing the new doctor told me was to stop using CeraVe in the tub on my face. According to him, it’s too thick and can exacerbate clogged pores in people who are already acne prone. Instead, he told me to use CeraVe PM, which is actually made for the face. When I told him that Epiduo didn’t do anything for me, he told me that I should still use something with benzoyl peroxide daily because it’s one of the best things for acne. So, I picked up Neutrogena Clear Pore Cleanser/Mask on his recommendation. I was skeptical the first time I tried it because it has a pretty strong, but pleasant fragrance, but so far, so good.

He also prescribed me Tretinoin, a retinoid. I’m definitely not a skincare expert, but from what I’ve gathered, retinoids help your skin shed its cells with more regularity so you don’t get clogged pores or hair follicles. Retinoids can also help with wrinkles and other signs of aging. While they’re great for treating acne in general, they also come with their fair share of side effects, which I’ve been experience first hand these past two weeks! The first four to five days, I saw no side effects, good or bad, and then the dry skin started. It’s been especially bad around my mouth. At the end of the day, I’ll literally have bits of skin hanging off my face, it’s delightful, let me tell you! Many people also experience a purging phase, where all the acne that has been waiting under the skin comes to the surface all at once. I’ve been reading quite a bit on retinoids, especially Tretinoin, and most people seem to see results after 6-12 weeks, which is on par with what the dermatologist told me. So far, I’ve been trying to take pictures every week to see if I can see any improvements, and I’ll be sure to do an update post from time to time.

Other than the new cleanser and prescription, I still use a few of my old standbys. I’m back to using Trader Joe’s Jojoba Oil to remove my makeup. I was using the Boscia Makeup-Breakup Cool Cleansing Oil, but I found it really wasn’t any better than the jojoba oil while being about quadruple the price. After the CeraVe PM, I’ve been using Vaseline to desperately try to combat the lizard skin. In the morning, I use CeraVe SPF 30 Sunscreen, and then continue with my makeup as usual. Another lovely side effect of the Tretinoin is that every product stings when I put it on now, especially around my eyes. I haven’t noticed any redness, and the stinging goes away after about 30 seconds, so I’m not too worried.

I’d love to know if any of you have used retinoids and what your experiences were!

Beauty, Makeup

Mini European Makeup Haul

As soon as I knew I was going to Europe for my honeymoon, I started making a mental list of all the products I wanted to pick up during the trip. There were two brands I absolutely had to check out: Bourjois and Kiko. While it is possible to get Bourjois in the US through Asos and Amazon and probably other sites, I wanted to check out the products in store. And waiting years and years to finally get my hands on them made it all the more exciting :). Lucky for me, there was a Bourjois sale going on in Boots, so I picked up two foundations and two lip products. Bourjois Healthy Mix Foundation is probably the most universally-loved foundation I’ve heard raved about by UK beauty bloggers since I started getting into makeup, so that was a no-brainer. I also picked up the Healthy Mix Serum Foundation. The lip products I picked out were both from the Rouge Edition Velvet range. After quite a bit of indecision, I chose #11 So Hap’pink and #03 Hot Pepper. I had also heard lots of great things about these, especially Hot Pepper. Unfortunately, I haven’t been impressed by them so far. They are so crazy slippery on my lips! They also pretty much disappear after eating or drinking. Do you have any tips for getting the most out of these because I’m just not feeling them.

I also went all over London stopping into every Superdrug I saw to look for Tanya Burr’s lip glosses. These must still be super popular because they were completely out of stock everywhere except for one lonely little tube in Afternoon Tea. While the formula seems really nice, the color is lighter than I normally go for. I also wanted to pick up some things from the Zoella Beauty range, but I couldn’t take the body spray or lotion with me since we were only traveling with hand luggage. At least these ranges are available on Feel Unique if I ever feel like I HAVE to have them.

I had lots of fun perusing the Kiko shop in Venice. They have so many lipsticks it’s insane. In the end, I went for something completely unique – the Long Lasting Colour Lip Marker in 103 Peach Red. This is just what it sounds like, a marker for your lips. While I was excited to try it, it was a bit of a let down. It’s a very thin, watery consistency that goes on pretty streaky. It does last forever though. I think the swatches from testing it in store lasted three entire days. I also picked up a pretty eyeshadow quad. The Color Fever Eyeshadow Palette in 100 Unexpected Rosy Taupe is made up of three shimmery purples and a shimmery champagne. The formula isn’t up there with the likes of Urban Decay, but it’s still very impressive for the price. I also picked up a Long Lasting Stick Eyeshadow in 06 Golden Brown, which is a really nice bronzy gold. I was happy with the color and staying power when I wore it the first time the other day. The last item I picked up was the Crystal Eyeliner in 03 Reflect Burgundy. This eyeliner is so insanely beautiful. I haven’t used it yet, but I really hope the formula lives up to the color.

I’m pretty happy with the makeup I picked up. While I wish I had been able to get a few more things, I was limited by the weight of our hand luggage, and all the souvenirs and gifts we got were already becoming really heavy within the first several days of the two week trip. There’s always next time though. Europe, I WILL be back!


Ah, Venice

Ah, Venice.

Venice was by far my favorite stop on our honeymoon. I would go back tomorrow if I could. It’s like being in a big, beautiful, mysterious, romantic maze with hundreds and hundreds of quaint little bridges everywhere you look. My husband and I spent our three days there wandering around aimlessly, stumbling upon bizarrely beautiful little scenes you could only see in Venice (a gondola traffic jam, for one), and eating an endless supply of gelato. Everything is stunning-the canals, the bridges, the basilicas. I haven’t really traveled extensively (yet), but I know it’s going to be a long time before a new city lives up to Venice for me.

Enough of my gushing descriptions. I’ll let these pictures speak for themselves.

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Hello! It’s been a while hasn’t it? Between taking a graphic design class February through the first two weeks of April, and then going on an amazing honeymoon in Europe the second half of April, I’ve had a lot going on. I was also having an inner crisis about blogging, which I may or may not go into at some point in the future.

Anyway, I wanted to share some pictures of the places I visited on my honeymoon because why not?! I saw so many beautiful and interesting things, and I can’t wait to go back!

First up: London! I’ve wanted to go to London for years. I don’t even really know why, I just have, and I’m happy to say it was beyond lovely! We were even spared the typical gloomy weather. Here’s a small selection of photos…

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Beauty, Makeup, Reviews

Two makeup looks featuring Colourpop

It’s been two weeks since getting my Colourpop products in the mail, and I’m still excited about them! I promised to share some looks and opinions on them, so let me get it out of the way and say that overall, I’m impressed. Surprisingly, the blushes are my favorite. Hot damn are they pigmented. I struggle to find a way to apply them that isn’t “too much”. They may not look over-the-top in these pictures, but unlike most blushes I use, they actually show up in photographs, which is something I’ve complained about before. Let it be noted that I did pick out two of the absolute brightest shades they offer, so I’m sure a more natural look can be achieved with colors that aren’t neon magenta or tangerine.

The Super Shock shadows are also really, really nice. I’m only using one of the shadows (in the first look), but both of the ones I have are lovely. They are easy to apply, blend, and sheer out, but you can also easily pack on more color for more intensity. The colors I picked out have almost a duo-chrome effect, which I like since I don’t have many other shadows that offer something similar.

The Lippie Stix are where I have mixed feelings. They’re very pigmented and easy to apply, and the scent is pleasant. Staying power and wear are where I was a little let down. I do find that they settle into lip lines and fade sort of quickly. They are also a bit drying, and leave my lips flaky by the end of the day. I will say that these are things I struggle with when it comes to most lipsticks, so YMMV. For $5 each, I really can’t complain that much as they’re cheaper than most lip products at the drugstore are these days.

Keep scrolling for my two makeup looks. In the first look, I used a bit of green shadow on the lower lash line to emphasize the green sparkle in the Colourpop shadow on top. I really like how it turned out paired with the deep berry color of the Lippie Stix in LBB. In the second look, I did something warmer and springier, AND I USED FALSE LASHES FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER OMG. Seriously though, the application is not perfect, as you can probably see, but it was sooo much less scary than people make it out to be. I was so excited that I actually did it without getting the lash stuck to my eyebrow that I forgot to tightline, but anyway, I really like how fresh and dewy the second look is.

Products used (first look):

Face: L’Oreal Magic Lumi Primer, Covergirl 3-in-1 Foundation in Classic Ivory, Maybelline Fit Me concealer, NYX Blush in Taupe to contour, Colourpop blush in Homie, Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder in Dim Light

Brows: Anastasia Brow Wiz in Dark Brown

Eyes: Urban Decay Primer Potion, Colourpop shadow in Patridge, Smashbox shadows in Totally Nude, Cream, and Zoom (lower lash line), The Balm Mary Lou-Manizer, Stila Stay All Day liquid Liner, Starlooks Obsidian eye pencil to tightline, Benefit Roller Lash

Lips: Colourpop Lippie Stix in LBB

Products used (second look):

Face: L’Oreal Magic Lumi Primer, tiny bit of Hourglass Mineral Veil Primer around nose, Maybelline Fit Me Dewy + Smooth Foundation in Porcelain, Maybelline Master Conceal concealer in Light, Bobbi Brown Corrector in Light Peach, Maybelline Age Rewind Dark Circle concealer, Colourpop Blush in Tonic, Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder in Dim Light, tiny bit of The Balm Mary Lou-Manizer on cupid’s bow

Brows: Anastasia Brow Wiz in Dark Brown

Eyes: Urban Decay Primer Potion, Smashbox shadows in Totally Nude, Sable, and Snow, The Balm Mary Lou-Manizer, Stila Stay All Day Liquid Liner, Maybelline The Rocket waterproof mascara, Ardell lashes in 120 Demi Black

Lips: Colourpop Lippie Stix in Frida

I’d love to know your thoughts on Colourpop! Let me know if you’ve tried any of their products, and *HIGH FIVE* for false lashes!

Beauty, Makeup, Reviews

Mascara hits and misses

By now, you probably know that my all-time favorite mascara is Maybelline The Rocket waterproof. With my self-imposed lip product no-buy (since broken-thanks, Colourpop!), I was itching to try something new, and went on a little mascara spree. I tried out a few new-to-me mascaras and wanted to share my thoughts.

L’Oreal Voluminous Butterfly Intenza | I had never tried a L’Oreal mascara until this one. I’d heard good things about them, so I had high hopes. Sadly, this mascara crushed those hopes. It’s pretty awful, let me tell you. First and foremost: the scent. Good lord, this mascara has a strong scent. When I wear it, I can literally smell my eyelashes all day. It’s such a “wtf” sensation. Second: it’s clumpy as all get out, which means it flakes off throughout the day. Third: it weighs down my lashes and makes them droop. I knew I didn’t like this mascara the first time I used it, but I was determined to give it a proper try and used it a half dozen more times, and my opinion did not change. Sadly, I’m going to have to throw this one out.

L’Oreal Voluminous Miss Manga waterproof | This is the mascara that made me resolve once and for all to stick with waterproof formulas. They just suit my lashes better. I’m happy to say I like this L’Oreal mascara 1,000 times more than the Butterfly Intenza. I was a little hesitant when I first saw the wand because it looks like it went through a garbage disposal, but it’s become my go-to daily mascara. The first time I used it, I said “Whoa!” quietly to myself because it instantly made it look like I had twice as many lashes. It adds just the right amount of volume, length, and curl without being too much. Like I said, it’s a great daily mascara. I do find that it takes a couple layers to build up, but it’s not really a hassle. Also, another plus: no scent!

Maybelline Pumped Up! Colossal Volum’Express waterproof | To me, this is a similar mascara to the Miss Manga in that it’s subtle and you have to build it up. Unfortunately, it takes A LOT of effort and time to get the results of the Miss Manga, making this mascara a miss for me. With a brush so huge and a name so hyperbolic, you’d think the results would be more noticeable, but I find myself layering and layering on this mascara and seeing nothing. I used this one for maybe a week before I lost patience with it.

Benefit Roller Lash | This is the newest mascara in my collection, and damn, does it pack a punch. This is the single most intense mascara I’ve ever tried. With one single swipe, my lashes look four times thicker. It adds lots of length as well. After about a week of using it, I read that you’re supposed to “roll” the brush against your lashes, and I found that this technique adds even more volume and length. For volume and intensity, this mascara eclipses Benfit’s They’re Real!, which was my previous go-to for bold lashes. The only downside is that my lashes droop a bit with it, which makes sense given how thickly it coats them. All in all, I’m very impressed with this one.

There you have it! Have you tried any of these mascaras? What are your thoughts?