Monday, September 14, 2015

My latest acne flare up

What caused it, What I tried, and What worked

My battle:

My face broke out bad - I mean so bad that I had some pretty disgusting white heads, I even had a giant spot with 3 whiteheads in 1 that had to be popped individually. Ew, something out of nightmares.

Can you see all the bumps that are beneath my skin?

I was completely confused, but I just shrugged it off. I was using a new serum by Peter Thomas Roth and I labelled that the culprit.

While my face began breaking out wherever there was an available spot, my stress increased along with another new issue.

I landed myself in the hospital due to horrible period cramps that left me screaming and crying in agony and confusion. What was wrong with me internally?

'Your uterus is out of place,' the E.R doctor told me with a completely confused face. Is that even a thing?
My nurse neighbor reassured me that the doctor most likely didn't know what he was looking at, because that isn't a thing.

Fast forward to 3-4 months, my general doctor ordered me off to get some tests done after hearing about my hospital episode, only to reveal I had a cyst in my ovaries half the size of my Uterus.
She further explained that it was harmless, the pain was from the cyst rupturing and what bothered me wasn't the actual rupture. The liquid from the cyst ends up being trapped behind my uterus where it's left to dissolve. And that liquid was applying pressure to my Uterus (which most likely led the E.R doctor to believe it was out of place, it was later confirmed that the only thing he found from my hospital exams was a bunch of liquid from the cyst.)
It's completely normally to get cysts during your period, but mine were far too big.  

My body's hormones were so out of whack that it was creating the problem on it's own. If I didn't get this fixed, the constant ruptures would actually cause trauma to my ovaries and eventually make me infertile. Birth control would fix it.

Around the time this happened, an article was released about a young girl about my age who died from an underlying heart condition by using birth control. This freaked me out so I tried to go the natural route... I didn't want anything to do with birth control so I went through with Western Medicine and saw a Chinese Doctor who sent me off with herbal pills.

I also ate hormone free, avoided sugar like the plague and anything that had cholesterol and different teas and exercise.

I know you're expecting an article praising Western Medicine and home remedies, but that's not what happened.
I had to take 7 (herbal)  pills  twice a day... so 14 pills. 
5 days before my period, I had to take 6 herbal pills twice a day and stop the first day of. I felt like I had a million things wrong by taking so many damn pills.

Did this work? I probably felt about 5% better during my periods, but it made no difference. 

Meanwhile, my dog got sick and had inflamed kidneys, the stress made my face freak out even more.

The esthetician I went to saw me twice in this state. The first time, she extracted as much as she could.
The second time, she realized everything was back and worse.

Everything she extracted, came right back up the next day in it's full glory. Red face, throbbing with pain... I actually took a day off. My face was hurting and I looked like I had an allergic reaction. I spent the whole day icing my face and drinking tea.

Picture of everything basically popped day of. Please excuse messed up hair, and grumpy face.

The next day at work, everyone asked what I was allergic to or what happened to my face. 
'They popped EVERYTHING!', I exclaimed, reminding myself there were bigger problems to worry about than an army of angry acne like the violent psychopath we were trying to track down.

It was time for a dermatologist to intervene, but I didn't want to go to any random one.
I sat down and looked up 'Dermatologist'... millions. At first I was overwhelmed, alot of them had great reviews.. but upon being snoopy on their webpages I was able to figure out something most would overlook. Majority of these 'award winning, famous' dermatologist seemed to specialized in anti aging procedures, with hundreds of beautiful before and after's and amazing reviews but 1-2 photos of acne patients (very very mild cases to add onto that.)

I needed to narrow my search.
'Dermatologist who specialize in acne'.
Only 2 appeared.

Funny how adding a bit of detail suddenly made my results so narrow.

How lucky was I to find a dermatologist that didn't have 4 month waiting list, and as blunt as can be.

The day of my appointment I was early (like an hour early) but I was excited yet nervous.
I sat down and explained everything..
I avoid fragrance, harsh alcohol
I tried facials, diets, BP, salicylic acid, etc.

He took a look at my face, and asked if he could take a before photo which he may show to his students at the University of Miami. (That's when you know shit's bad.)

I expected him to prescribe a cream of some sort, instead he shooked his head and told me he didn't believe in slathering on ten different creams for acne. If it keeps coming back, it needs to be tackled from the inside. I was also told to avoid facials for a while, since my acne was persistent the extractions would only end up causing trauma to my skin.

I was told I might have to go on Accutane, but we would work our way up.

But .. the catch.

He didn't let me take any single acne medication until I got on Birth Control...
I gulped.

He gave me cortisone injections, and gave me an antibiotic that would stop acne from being created and help with the infection. However, it wasn't a long term solution. The pill made me prone to yeast infections so I had to eat yogurt every time I took it and the minute I stopped the acne would return.

I thought about Birth Control at home and ended up coming to my senses. No one in my family ever suffered from acne because they all took the pill.
My mom had taken the pill for a long time and had no side effects. I also get yearly health check ups so if something was wrong with my heart I would have known... I already had 2 tests done in the same year.

I went to my Gyno who ordered more tests just for my own mental assurance, and sent me off with a generic version of Ortho Tri Cyclen (Tri Previfem). Ortho Tri Cyclen was $50/month. Tri Previfem was free. 

After a month's use, no new severe acne spots appeared. And my period cramps didn't really exist all of a sudden. People at work were asking what I was doing to my skin, and I was completely confused because a google search on Birth Control and acne had an entire forum of users preaching that it was nearly impossible to see any results on just your first month.

At my next consultation, I was sent off for a facial extraction to get rid of the left overs.

After that, all I've been getting a chemical peels to help remove the brown spots and facials.

I'm on month 3, and I have had just a spot or 2, but just milia from sweating.. nothing like before. 
I haven't had any abnormally large cysts either or horrible cramps. For the first time in years, I could actually exercise while ON my period and not end up screaming on the floor. 

Birth Control ended up being a god send for me, more than I ever thought it could. 

My dermatologist was so impressed that we did a video talking about my acne to show to his students and possibly put on his web page.

All I'm getting now are pretty much just chemical peels, 30% Salicylic acid. My journey is now clearing up my brown spots. They do annoy me because from a distance they can appear like indents but up close you can tell they are just marks.

Note: I am wearing a sunscreen here. I also just had another peel performed earlier.

So what do my ovaries have to do with this?
Well my body was telling me I had a hormonal problem, which meant I had hormonal acne.
My cysts were hormonal, and that should have been a more than enough sign to point out that my acne was too. I should have listened to my body more.

And Western medicine? Doc says it can work, but for more mild cases. It would have taken ages for it to have any effect on my hormones.

 I'm finally happy that I can drink milk, with hormones and cheese and sugar and anything else I've missed out on. I just never thought Birth Control could actually save my face, and my future babies. 

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Manuka Honey for skin care review

Raw honey is usually quite beneficial to the skin and reviews online usually claim all kinds of crazy things. I decided to splurge and jump for the honey after my skin esthetician gave me the thumbs up.

While you can gain benefits from any raw, unfiltered honey I jumped for Manuka Honey. 
It's imported from either New Zealand and Australia from the Manuka Tree.
Manuka Honey is used as an alternative medicine and is applied commonly as a wound dressing. 
Honey is known to have antibacterial and antiseptic properties which makes it great for skin types like mine.

I went out to my local farmers market and bought myself a jar of Manuka. I got the larger size for $33.00.

My skin dries out pretty easily just through the use of a cleanser, particularly my cheeks. Instead of using just my cleanser alone, I mixed 1/1 of my cleanser and manuka honey together.

The amount of dryness in my cheeks decreased significantly, skin had a healthy glow to it after cleansing.

I applied a thick layer of Manuka Honey as instructed per the esthetician and left it on for 15-20 minutes. My face felt sticky and things did get messy.

My skin tone appeared much more even oddly. Consistent use of manuka honey as a mask cleared up my brown spots and acne marks.

I mixed a fine salt together with Manuka Honey.
After leaving it on as a mask, I added a teaspoon of salt in my hands.. rubbed my hands together softly and exfoliated my face.

Smooth, glowy skin and even out skin tone texture. 

Use of Manuka honey was a blessing for my skin.
The amount of sensitivity in my skin decreased, and the amount of redness, inflammation and size of any acne seriously shrunk down, especially when left on as a mask and as an overnight spot treatment.
While Manuka Honey is an expensive buy, I have already gone through 4-5 jars of this stuff. 
I have even eliminated my cleanser ( on days I am make up free ) and just use manuka honey and salt. 
Manuka Honey has wonderful properties (far too many) and it seems to be a staple in my skin care.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Skin Care Review: Indie Lee Squalane Oil

As a skin care enthusiast, I can't pass the opportunity and advantages of using oils in my routine.
I have tried several oils, including Olive Oil, Coconut Oil, Argan Oil, Maracuja ( Passion fruit ) Oil, Jojoba Oil, Rosehip Oil, and Avocado. 
However, nothing takes the cake like Squalane Oil does. 

Squalane Oil is typically derived from either shark liver, olives, or sebum. Our body produces Squalane Oil naturally, overtime it begins to decline with age.

Squalane oil is loaded with antioxidants, skin repairing benefits which include cell turn over and anti-aging benefits. Squalane oil absorbs quickly into the skin so it's almost impossible to feel like an oil slick ( as opposed to coconut oil and several others ) leaving you with a nice luminous glow. 

I use it with my moisturizer and it works quite well. I did dry out my cheeks a bit as my moisturizer ( CeraVe cream ) is too heavy for my acne prone skin type and left me with occasional blemishes. I treated them with Diluted Tea Tree oil which eventually dried my skin and left it a bit flakey. The dryness only showed up with my foundation. 

I was impressed that it only took 2 days for my skin to feel soft again. While CeraVe works nice for my dry skin, I use the cream version as opposed to the Lotion. 
I did this because my moisture barrier was absolutely wrecked. 
Even though it is non-comedogenic, heavy moisturizers on acne prone skin can still cause comedogenic break outs. 

Pairing this with my Paulas Choice Vitamin C Booster serum yields such beautiful results. My skin tone is left even, looking better everyday. This is a new staple in my skin care routine as  a moisturizer with loaded benefits.

You can purchase the Squalane Oil I used here:

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Hair Care: Protein Treatment

I do alot of natural hair treatments, mainly because I don't want to spend money just to feel softer hair. A lot of marketed hair treatments are really just composed of slip agents and silicone. So while your hair feels nice afterwards,  it has not improved in health.
I gave it a go to try the Aussie Three Minute Miracle since there was a lot of hype. My hair did feel softer, but only because it was just coated in silicone and slip agents. There was and will never be improvement in its health.

It's summer here in Miami so our garden is blooming, it's also raining every day sometimes two times a day for the entire two months. Which means the occasional thunderstorm that will knock fruit down and sometimes branches that are filled with fruit. 

One of our avocado trees lost a branch and now we have an abundance of avocados. 
So with all these avocados available I went ahead and whipped up a protein treatment to strengthen my hair. 

What you need 

A very ripe Avocado ( Protein, Vitamins, Moisture ).
Mayo or Egg Yolk ( Protein )
Honey or Glycerin ( Humectant )
Oil ( Optional, I used coconut oil ). 


I cut my avocado in half and added it inside my blender. 
I blended the avocado by itself, so that it would be creamy. You can mash it up as well but I prefer to blend it so that I don't have chunks of avocado in my hair. 

I then added in Mayo, and Honey. I put my spoon of honey over heat so it's more of a liquid than gooey. 
Alternatively you can use Glycerine ( which i honestly forgot about ) since it has that perfect consistency. Glycerine is relative cheap at about $3.00 at Walmart. 

After blending all the ingredients together I went ahead and dampened my hair. Hair is more porous when its wet which is why often times conditioning treatments are done when your hair is being washed. 

I parted my hair in two sections and working from my ends upwards I covered my hair in the treatment. 

 I clipped my hair up and used a plastic bag over my head. I like to use bags more than shower caps since I actually need my shower caps. 
I went ahead and put a head band on the edges of the bag.. Then I pulled the head band tight so that it was firm enough so that the treatment wouldn't drop down on me and tied it. 

I let my treatment sit for about three hours.. Just running any house errands. Afterwards I washed it out and noticed that there was a significant  improvement on my hair and my ends, along with shine. There was alot less fall out on my hair when I washed it. 

I love this treatment and have always had it done for years. If you are going to treat your hair with heat then this is a great treatment to do to prep your hair. 
Feel free to throw in some other fruits like Banana. I threw in pieces of mango so that my hair wouldn't smell so much like avocado. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Skin care review: Paula's Choice 2% BHA Liquid ( Regular and CLEAR Extra Strength )

I went ahead and decided to include a chemical exfoliant in my skincare routine.
Between AHA & BHA's, I went ahead and chose a BHA since I am prone to blemishes.

Although I have dry skin; between the lotion, gel, and liquid I went with the liquid. I already have other emollients in my skincare routine, and too much can end up being comedogenic.

Product Claims:

  • Shrink enlarged pores with this 2% liquid salicylic acid leave-on exfoliant that removes old skin cells both on the skin's surface and inside the pore.
  • Acne Breakouts, Anti-Aging, Blackheads, Enlarged Pores, Keratosis Pilaris, Redness, Rosacea, Wrinkles
  • For All Skin Types
  • Creates radiant, even-toned skin
  • Reduces redness & builds collagen
  • Unclogs & diminishes enlarged pores

My Five Day Results

My experience with this product:

Addressing each claim one by one..
I personally did not see any difference in pore size. I do not have any issues with having any enlarged pores that I am aware of.
Although, I do not have any breakouts, I  get the occasional blemish popping up. I have not experienced any blemishes appearing other than the one blemish that pops up due to the 'Time of month'.  Since BHA's are great for cell turn over, the lifespan of my special visitors are very short lived.
I have not experienced any dryness using this product. As a matter of fact, my skin is now very soft and has the feel of a perfect base for make up. This product eliminated any dry patches that a scrub did not eliminate, and made dryness a thing of the past.
I feel my skin tone has also improved, not a significant amount since that was not an issue.
The redness of any blemish was also greatly reduced, inflammation was greatly reduced as well.

Overall, I feel like this is a great product for anyone who is looking for an exfoliator.
I feel like this product may even be essential for those who wear make up. I could not imagine skipping out on this product in my skin care and feel that it has improved my skin.

Product differences

Both BHA's are essentially the same. However, once my original BHA exfoliant was starting to run low and PC had a sale offered up... I went ahead and purchased the Extra Strength BHA from her clear line.

The Extra Strength Exfoliant is formulated with a higher PH, so that the product penetrates even deeper than her Regular BHA.

Quoted directly from Paula's Choice FAQ
What's the difference between the Regular and Extra Strength Clear exfoliants? Both contain 2% salicylic acid!The difference between the Regular and Extra Strength exfoliants is in the delivery systems and their textures. Both anti-acne exfoliants contain 2% salicylic acid but the Regular Strength has a nearly weightless feel on your skin and a pH of around 3.9, making it gentler on the skin. The Extra Strength version's formula can penetrate deeper into the pore and has a pH of 3.5. It is designed for those with more stubborn or persistent breakouts. Both exfoliants are highly effective options as part of a routine for Clear skin; you may need to experiment with both to see which works best for your skin type. It is also fine to use both: Apply one in the morning and the other at night.

 I went ahead and did the purchase and have now been using the Extra Strength for about a month.
The results are the same, but like is stated.. this is more so for those with more stubborn break outs and concerns.
My skin felt more softer with the extra strength.. however, it does feel a lot stronger so I do alternate between the two. I prefer to use this product at night since you DO need to use an SPF with these products. ( And your best option is really to only use them at night. )

I prefer the packaging of her Regular BHA as opposed to her Extra Strength BHA. The packaging feels cheap.. and the requires you to soak a cotton ball as opposed to a cotton pad. It feels as if you waste more product. Especially since it is instructed to 'Soak a cotton ball and then to lightly apply the product.' 

For the Regular Exfoliant, you drop about a dime size of the product onto a cotton pad. As opposed to the Extra Strength where you have to squirt out product.

Both are great products, and the only con is the packaging. For extra sensitive skin I would probably use the gel or lotion, as I feel the liquid may be too strong.

 I have sensitive skin and missed a spot after exfoliating. I had passed the cotton pad right under the sides of my nose, and did not apply SPF. So after awhile, I did experience redness and burning. So it is essential you cover every inch of your face with SPF, and then layer it again for safety. 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Do It Yourself: Skin-loving toners!

Hello Beauties! Today I wanted to go ahead and share with you guys my DIY recipes on my homemade toners.

I love making my own toners because I know what is on my skin and I get the opportunity to focus on what benefits I want without risking irritation and sticking to natural ingredients.
These are my favorite toners for my skin care, they are safe for use and completely organic!
 So let's get started shall we?

Green Tea Toner 

This is one of the easiest toners to make out of all of them and one of the most refreshing ones. You can even put some in a bottle to refresh your face with throughout the day! It's perfect for those hot summer days ♥


  • Green Tea
  • Aloe Vera Juice and/or Honey
  • Non-volatile Oil ( I use Argan Oil, and a Vitamin E Oil mixture which contains coconut oil, soybean oil, and vitamin e oil ).

I fill up my container of choice with green tea, adding either a spoon of Aloe Juice or Honey to the mixture. I add about 5 drops of non-volatile oils to it. Shake it up well before use!
You can keep this out but if you use Aloe Vera it is better to refrigerate it.
I usually use a dark container for this recipe, and keep it in the refrigerator until it's cold.  Because I use a dark container, I can keep it out on my vanity and it will continue to stay cool throughout the days! Great for de-puffing under your eyes as well ♥

Aloe Vera Juice Toner

If you want to save some time you can always buy organic Aloe Vera Juice from any health store or farmers market. It may be better as it has a long life span compared to getting it off the plant because they add preservatives to it.
I got mine off the plant since it was cheaper for me - so that's what I'll be discussing. Aloe Vera is also great for those with Acne because it does contain salicylic acid. Aloe Vera is a humectant and therefore you need to moisturize afterwards. You skin will feel taught - not tight using this and it's great for those pores!


  • Aloe Vera
  • Water

I took a leaf off my Aloe Vera Plant, went ahead and with a knife I sliced it opened.
You scoop out the Aloe inside with a knife, not a spoon (says my mother) because if you scoop out everything using a spoon it will be acidic.
After working on that for a couple of minutes, I threw the gooey sticky stuff into the blender and blended it until it became juicy.
We let it sit out for a while and went ahead and put it into a container to refrigerate.
A bit of water was added to completely the mixture ( you can also add some green tea ).

I recommend refrigerating this and I would say without refrigeration it has a shelf life of about 4-5 days; 2 weeks with.
Definitely don't make a lot like I did because it will smell bad!

Apple Cider Vinegar Toner

I do not recommend this for sensitive skin types. It may still burn and irritate your skin, but I prefer this over witch hazel any day!
ACV mimics the skins PH so it's great at balancing out your skins PH! 


  • Apple Cider Vinegar ( Must be raw, organic, unfiltered, with the mother etc )
  • Water or Green Tea

50/50 A.C.V and Green Tea or Water. I usually do 70/50 because my skin can be sensitive.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Common Beauty Myths

Here is a list of the top Beauty Myths! I created this such a long time ago on Beautylish, I figured it'd make such a nice blog post ♥

So I decided to put together a list of common beauty myths.
Bottom line: The truth is the truth!

#1 Shaving will make my hair grow back thicker
Your hair grows in follicles beneath the skin, and nothing you do to your leg hair on top of the skin can change its diameter or the number of follicles. Hair that hasn't been cut is wide at the base and is thinner toward the tip. Shaving cuts the hair off at the base where it is widest. When the hair starts to grow back, it seems coarser since that softer, thinner end has been removed. 

#2 XYZ product help make pores smaller
Pore size is genetic; therefore your pores do not actually shrink. You can fill in your pores with certain foundation primers and use other products that help give off the allusion of shrunken pores. But, just like foundation is the illusion of perfect skin, so are pore shrinking products. 

#3 Tooth paste can help zap zits.
While toothpaste can help dry out zits, the benefits are short-lived. Your skin will become more irritated, and in the end can cause it to appear worse. Stick to a regular treatment. 

#4 Cutting your hair will make it grow faster
Although cutting your hair is good to make it appear healthy and to avoid split ends, in reality it will stay the same length if you continue to constantly get It cut. Keep it to a minimum and when you need to. 

#5 Eyeliner makes your eyes appear smaller.
Properly applied eye liner will make your eyes appear larger. Eye liner applied on the upper lash line can instantly wake up your whole face. Liner on the lower lash line or water line (inner eye) can do the opposite, depending on the size of your eyes. A little trick to open up anyone’s eyes is to line that lower inner eye with a white or flesh-colored pencil. Your eyes will be bright and wide open.

#6 Drinking water keeps your skin from drying out
What keeps skin moist is oil, not water. Granted, drinking water does have it’s health benefits and is needed. But, your skin can still look dry even if you drink 8 glasses a day. 

#7 Vaseline can make your lashes grow
Vaseline can only simply, condition your lashes. Vaseline does not promote hair growth. What makes people ignorantly believe their lashes are longer is through the fact that the application of Vaseline on the lashes makes it appear thicker and moisturized. Kind of like how mascara makes your lashes appear like they’ve grown longer yet they haven’t is the same way as Vaseline. It’s more a mere illusion of longer lashes that causes many to believe that they are growing. In fact, the viscous jelly could actually plug glands on the inner rims of your eyelids that produce tears, flush out debris and fend off infections.

#8 Shampooing fades hair color
False, at least 80% of hair color fading is caused by water, alone.

#9 Make up causes acne
There is no research indicating that makeup or skin-care products cause acne, and there is no consensus on which ingredients are problematic. Still, women do experience breakouts after using some skin-care products. Such breakouts can be the result of an irritant or an inflammatory response, a random skin reaction, or a result of problematic ingredients unique to a person's skin type. That means you have to experiment to see what might be causing your breakouts. There is no information from medical research or the cosmetic industry to help or point you in the right direction. And it is critical to know that terms such as "noncomedogenic" and "non-acnegenic" are meaningless. The cosmetics industry uses these terms to indicate that a product is less likely to cause breakouts, but there is no standard or regulation set to categorize this labeling. Any product can make this claim, even pure wax or vegetable shortening.

#10 It's good when your products cool or tingle skin
That’s your skin actually telling you that its irritated. 

#11 Your skin will eventually adapt to beauty products and they won't work anymore
Skin doesn't adapt to skin-care products any more than your body adapts to a healthy diet