At times, it seems like I’m living a dual life. There are days when I’ve eaten well, exercised, and done my full skincare routine, ready to jump into bed at a decent hour. However, I also find myself up late writing music and going to concerts. I love doing those things, so I don’t mind, but this can result in eating In-N-Out in my car at 1am, and coming home with barely enough energy to run a cleansing wipe over my face.
Note: you probably know that if you want your ideal skin, then eating junk food, leaving your makeup on overnight, and getting very little sleep is definitely not the way to attain it. However, IF nights like that ever happen to you, as well, then here are my tips for maintaining good skincare habits the rest of the time.
The bottom line is that late nights should be kept to a minimum if you want to look and feel your best. I certainly won’t judge you if they happen, though, and hope these pointers are beneficial to you.
As you might guess from my last post, I love to experiment with different skincare methods. These are some of the strange things that I do in the name of beauty:
Ever wonder how the actresses of classic Hollywood looked so great without all the advanced beauty tools we have available today? While researching these women's techniques on getting ready, I came across the star Joan Crawford's infamous "ice facial." It was believed that Joan splashed ice water twenty-five times across her face, every time she washed up. Pretty intense.
However, it is true that icing can improve the look of your skin. Even Kate Moss is said to soak her face in a bowl of ice water and cucumbers the morning after a night out. So what makes this technique so beneficial?
One advantage is increased circulation. Icing gives you that glow and rosiness usually only achieved after a brisk walk on a chilly day. In addition, icing helps your skin products absorb better, can bring down redness in any acne you may have, and reduces facial puffiness, giving your cheekbones a more contoured look. Though scientists say we cannot change the shape of our pores, somehow icing also seems to make pores look smaller, albeit temporarily.
Though I don't use Joan's exact method, I've been icing my face for a while now, and will most likely never stop! My everyday tactic is running an ice cube over my face after I wash it. I focus on the eyes, gently moving the ice from the inner corners to the brow in a circular motion. This helps push excess fluid out from under the eyes. When I have more time, I wash and exfoliate my skin, followed by the ice facial. I fill up a big bowl of ice water, and submerge my face in there. I then do a bit of the face splashing approach, and follow the whole thing up with one more ice cube to run over my skin.
Icing couldn't be more affordable, and is one of the best ways to perk up your skin quickly.
Glycolic acid, which is derived from plants such as sugarcane, is an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA). The smallest of the AHA's, it penetrates the skin the most easily, making it very effectual when added to skincare products.
It is used in everything from cleansers to moisturizers to treat concerns like scarring, fine lines, and discoloration. Glycolic acid dissolves the top layer of dead skin cells, uncovering brighter, younger looking skin. It also transports water molecules from the air into the skin, reviving lost moisture.
I've been using glycolic acid as an exfoliating toner for about a year. I love the Pixi Skintreats Glow Tonic, as you might be able to tell from the nearly empty bottle in the photo above. It is very gentle, yet it gives skin a smoother texture. However, it runs about $30 a container, so when Sephora announced it was carrying products by The Ordinary, which is known for being both affordable and effective, I decided to try their version of a glycolic acid toner.
The Ordinary's Glycolic Acid Toning Solution is less than $10, and it's very impressive. After one use, it significantly faded a stubborn acne scar on my cheek. However, after two uses in a row, I woke up with skin that looked somewhat dehydrated, though I hadn't changed any other products in my skincare routine.
The Ordinary's toner has a higher level of glycolic acid than Pixi's, so I'm guessing that it is a little too harsh for my skin to use every night. For now, I will stick with the Pixi version for my daily toner, and maybe incorporate The Ordinary's toner once or twice a week during my bedtime ritual.
You may experience irritation when applying AHA's, so start gradually if you have never used one before. It's also important to wear sunscreen because AHA's make your skin more sensitive to the sun. Be aware that AHA's may have adverse reactions if you are using Accutane, or products containing acids or Vitamin A. Ask your dermatologist if you have any questions.
Let me know if you try any products with glycolic acid! I'd love to hear about your experience.
Every once in a while, my complexion rebels with breakouts, dryness, or both. For the past few weeks, I've been dealing with a few stubborn zits and dull looking skin. This could be due to a myriad of things: weather changes, not washing my face well enough, eating too much sugar, etc. After trying a few different products to combat these problems and not seeing improvement, I realized I was doing too much. I was probably compromising my skin's barrier further by battling it instead of nurturing it.
If you're experiencing skin issues like pimples and dullness, go back to the basics:
-Clean eating (as best as you can during the holidays!)
-Double cleansing: oil cleanser, followed by a gentle cleanser of your choice
-A simple moisturizer
-Exfoliating just once a week, at least until your skin is back on track
-Not popping your pimples; instead using a salicylic acid based cream on the problem spots after you wash your face at night
-Using a serum that has ceramides in it. Ceramides occur naturally in the uppermost layer of our skin, helping retain plumpness in the cells. When added to skincare, they provide an additional safeguard against moisture loss.
All of these things will help build your skin's barrier, and get your face clear again.
About two months ago, I received a sample from Sephora of this exfoliating clay mask by Philosophy. I normally am not a fan of clay masks because they are usually too drying for my skin, but this one is magic. When the sample ran out, I hurried to buy the full size version.
This mask is my go-to when I'm in need of smoothing and a glow. It is formulated with salicylic acid (which is great for acne prone skin), oil-absorbing white clay, and gentle, naturally based exfoliants. It's almost like you get two treatments in one because after the mask dries and you start to wash it off, the exfoliants come into play. You won't believe how smooth your face will feel after. Your moisturizer will absorb better, as well, because of the impurities you will have removed.
I use the mask as instructed, about twice a week, for 5-10 minutes at a time. For very dry or sensitive skin types, less often might be better. As always, stop usage if you notice any irritation after. Hope this mask by Philosophy works well for you, too!
Tried and true skincare tips.
Disclaimer: this article is not about skincare. But if you're interested in reading about love in today's world, read on! It was first posted under my pen name, Rae Johnson, on the website 3percentmilk.com. The original article can be seen here:
My parents have quite a love story. Mom, who is from Southern California, and Dad, who was raised in Michigan, met when they were about twenty-two, in an unpredictable way. Both were traveling after college with their respective best friends throughout Europe, and their lives collided forever in London. While watching The Rocky Horror Picture Show play, Dad saw Mom sitting with her friend, Andrea, and he and his friend, Steve, jumped over the seats to sit next to them. They had a great time together at the show, and the next day, Steve went off to meet his girlfriend, while my dad hung out with Mom and Andrea. Soon, it was time for them to go back to their own corners of the U.S.
Separated by many states and several time zones, my young mom and dad kept in touch by calling each other and writing letters. Three months later, after working at a little grocery store and saving up his money, Dad moved to L.A. to be close to my mom. Mom had a brief moment of feeling overwhelmed, and Dad returned to Michigan. My mom realized quickly that she loved him, and asked him to come back. They were engaged (and then married) soon after.
Fast forward to three kids and thirty-six years later. My parents, despite being of different political affiliations (I say half-jokingly, for this could be a real deal breaker in today's day and age), bring each other so much joy. They watch The Voice with one another (my dad is pretty adorable, and a secret softie for beautiful pop music). They also take care of Mom's horse together. My mom has a huge heart for animals, and therefore, my dad loves her horse, too. Mom and Dad have each other's backs.
I couldn't ask for better role models in marriage than my parents (who have great role models in their parents). But my dad and mom were married at twenty-three, which is getting increasingly rare in modern society. Their story today would read more like: boy matches with girl in London through dating app. They hook up and never contact each other again, except to maybe like each other's Instagram posts.
This sounds bleak, but it is a reality for a lot of my peers. I'm twenty-eight, and though many people in the world are married by this age, there are very few in my circle of friends that are. However, I've spent my twenties so far living in the metropolises of San Francisco, Los Angeles, and now New York City, and it seems that a lot of people in large cities are eschewing traditional adult responsibilities, maybe due to expenses and workaholic tendencies. A city dweller probably rents instead of owning a property, eats take out for one instead of cooking for a family of several, and may have no plans to get married or to have kids, at least in the near future. My roommate from Iowa says this "Peter Pan" syndrome is a definite city thing. He is twenty-six, and most of his friends from home are married with kids. As my roommate put it, "You treat each other with respect in a small town because you know you will run into that person all the time at the grocery store."
Urban lifestyle aside, there are other dating pitfalls in 2017, mostly related to the digital world. I have a limited scope of dating apps, having only used Tinder, but it introduced me to some nice guys who showed me around New York. The snap judgment aspect of Tinder is unpleasant; however, we do this in real life all the time. Tinder just amplifies this side of human nature. What is more unsettling is that we are now inclined to give up quickly on someone since there are, literally, millions of other options available.
Being that we have so many dating choices now, we have become less polite in our communication with one another. It used to be considered unkind if you didn't break up with someone in person. While it is still very rude, it is now commonplace to "ghost," or not answer someone's messages until he or she stops reaching out to you.
Moving on from ghosting situations or full on break ups can be difficult when information about exes is easily available on social media. You have the option of staying friends online with them, and doing your best to ignore their posts, or turning your pain into a more noticeable thing by unfriending them. Neither are great choices, but social media is here to stay, and has changed the entire landscape of dating.
Unless we're in an established relationship with someone, we most likely don't speak on the phone with the people we're flirting with. We are now in constant contact in a multitude of other ways, though. The new indicators for determining if someone likes us are things like, "Does he or she comment on my pictures?" or "Do they send me Snapchats that they don't also post on their Story?" And these things often have very little meaning, as most millennials are glued to their phones, anyway.
Though the "three day rule," where one would wait three days to call someone after meeting him or her, is no longer relevant, there are now many other dating principles that people today navigate through. These are things like: waiting a certain amount of time before answering a text; not looking at your crush's Snapchat Story because you haven't yet replied to that text; liking only one or two of their Instagram posts when you first follow each other (and nothing from the vaults of their old posts); sometimes refraining from using question marks when you text to ask them something, so that you appear less "thirsty" and more aloof; taking an attractive selfie after you two have had a fight; not texting them back because they took too long to text you back; and a variety of other dumb things that are blocking us from actually getting to know one another. No matter what the era, people have been afraid to put themselves out there with love, but today we seem especially stunted. We hide our vulnerability behind our screens, and confuse each other emotionally with all the social media nonsense. You've found a great match (or you are more mature than most) if you're with someone you feel no need to play those games with.
Another thing that takes place digitally is romantic direct messages from strangers or acquaintances. Women receive them more often, though it occurs with guys, too. Many times the DMs are from men who truly mean well, and their notes can be very sweet. But sometimes there are guys who harass you for dates, long after you've said no. Or there are men who send unsolicited sexual pics - a few months ago, I was texting with what seemed to be a really well mannered guy, whom I hadn't yet met in person. Our conversations had consisted of innocuous things, like cooking (his love for it/my lack of knowledge about it), when out of nowhere, he sent me a Snap I really didn't want to see. I'm not sure what the old-time equivalent of the risqué Snap would've been: a man having a nude portrait of himself delivered by messenger over to his mistress's home? It just wasn't as easy in previous times for people to be inappropriate about showing off their bodies.
Dealing with today's dating issues can be tricky. I sometimes look to my older brother and my sister-in-law for guidance because they're an example of modern love that works very well. The two of them met at a frat party at a school notorious for being wild, UCSB - they "found love in a hopeless place," as Rihanna would say. Joking aside, their relationship is inspiring. They are deeply respectful of each other and make one another laugh. They are also not constantly glued to their phones; they concentrate more on their real lives, and each other.
Our smartphones are not all bad for romance, though. I know many people who have met their loves through dating websites. And the internet has so many tools to help keep your connection strong. You can stay in touch with a long distance relationship through FaceTime. You can make your partner laugh with funny Snaps. You can draw pictures for your boyfriend or girlfriend through text, replay voicemails just to hear his or her voice, and send them memes you think they will appreciate. Though it's less likely today that we'll find a twenty-two-year-old guy getting ready to uproot his life for a girl he met briefly in London, people have no less of a desire for real love. We're lucky to have the resources we do to help us find it.
I’m going to be honest: I’m very intense when it comes to sun protection. I’m careful even in the winter, but in the summer, it’s a whole other level.
I apply not one, but two layers of sunscreen before I go outside. I put it on at least 15 minutes prior to leaving the house, so that the product has time to absorb and become effective, and I do my best to reapply it every two hours. I’ve been known to wear jackets and pants in the middle of a humid July day. I plan errands for either the early morning or at night whenever possible. If I’m outdoors for a long period of time, I camp out in the shade, armed with sunglasses and a hat. I own an anti-UV ray umbrella. When I lived in L.A., I wore driving gloves in the car (I judge me for that, too).
I get that these tactics are not fun, but they've become habit for me. I’ve been applying sunscreen everyday, rain or shine, since I was sixteen. Around that time, my fair-skinned grandpa was starting to get many biopsies at his dermatology appointments. Seeing what he was going through, I began to be more careful about sun protection.
Despite my vigilance now, I’ve had skin cancer biopsies myself. This is possibly because I got many sunburns as a kid. I used to (gasp) sit by the pool, trying to coax my pale complexion into becoming tanner. I also may have had skin cancer scares because though I was wearing sunscreen, I was not applying it properly.
For a long time, I was making the mistake of missing certain spots. These areas included: ears, eyelids, eyebrows, lips, hands, and feet. The middle of the back was where I had gotten especially lazy. Fast forward a couple of years, and I now have some biopsy scars to remind myself that it’s important to cover every part of the body.
Even if you’re not a person who burns easily, you can still benefit from sunscreen. Besides defending against cancer, it also helps slow signs of aging, like sunspots and wrinkles. The products that I use in the summer are:
I know this is a lot! I’ve found it's what works to keep me sunburn free, though. I’d love to hear your summer routines, too.