Cosmetics and Toiletries

A Counterintuitive Way to Get Rid of Adult Acne

Growing up, it was all about "hypoallergenic" and "oil-free." I cleansed my face within an inch of its life and I continued to have break-outs well into adulthood. Within the past year, I have finally figured out the key to keeping my oily/combination skin clear: consistent and copious exfoliation and moisturizing.

I posted about my skin-care routine awhile back, but I have changed it a little bit and my skin is looking even better.

Cleanse Your Skin

You cannot have clear skin if you don't keep it clean. Do not use a cleanser that contains acne-fighting ingredients. Even if the label claims that the cleanser is "non-drying," it is lying! Use a super gentle cleanser.

Most of the time I use Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleanser For Normal to Oily Skin to cleanse my skin, morning and night.


About four times a week, I use BeautiControl Spa Warming Trend Green Tea Mask to cleanse my skin. It has an exfoliating effect and makes my skin feel so smooth. You rub it on like a cream cleanser and rinse it off a minute later.


I follow up cleansing with a liquid toner. I currently use BeautiControl Skinlogics Sensitive Rinse & Restore Tonic because my mom had a couple bottles left in her stash.


Exfoliate Your Skin

I use some form of exfoliation every day. You cannot have clear skin without consistent exfoliation. You need to exfoliate to keep stuff out of your pores.

I like Clinique 7 Day Scrub Cream for every day. It is cream-based, rinses off easily, and has a fine grit.


A couple times a week, I use Trader Joe's Lavendar Salt Scrub instead. I hate the scent of lavendar, but it contains all natural ingredients and it's super scrubby. Yes, you are putting oil on your face, but once you wipe it off, it doesn't leave an oily residue, just soft, smooth skin. If you have very sensitive skin, use with caution. I learned about this product from Hollywood Housewife, in her post about making her own salt scrub.

Photo courtesy of Hollywood Housewife

A couple times a week, I use BeautiControl Spa Resurface Microderm Abrasion scrub (like creamy sandpaper) and a brush to super exfoliate. Any similar product probably works just fine.


Moisturize Your Skin

Your oily skin can still be dry. Yes, you produce excess oil, but that doesn't mean that the skin under the oil slick is properly hydrated. Dry skin is cracked skin. You might not see the cracks, but they are there and they are letting in contaminants that will make you break out. Also, dry skin looks old and you want to look as dewy and fresh as you possibly can. I know you do because you are just as vain as I am or you wouldn't still be reading this this post.

I layer three moisturizers on my face every day, twice a day. Four, if you count my eye cream. Somtimes five, if you count the tinted moisturizer I use instead of foundation.

The first layer is serum, which provides intense hydration. I am currently using Clinique Even Better Clinical Dark Spot Corrector. I have some spots from sun and old acne scars that I want to clear up.


The second layer is a standard moisturizer, with sunblock for daytime, without sunblock for nighttime. Use whatever you like here. For day, I use Clinique Superdefense SPF 25 Age Defense Moisturizer. I am almost out, though. I have a little sample of Clinique Even Better Skin Tone Correcting Moisturizer SPF 20 and I like it, so I will probably switch to that. For night, I use Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion, only because that freaking bottle seems to replenish itself. It comes in a gel as well as a lotion, so I might switch to the gel if I ever run out that damn lotion.

Superdefense   Evenbetterspf   Dramaticallydifferent

The third layer seals it all in. I use Clinique Moisture Surge Extended Thirst Relief. This moisturizer is a gel/cream. It is so light. I love it. Get it. Use it. While I don't think it is THAT important which products you use for the serum and the regular moisturizer, there is no substitute for the Moisture Surge.

For eye cream, I have been using StriVectin-SD EYE Cream lately, and I really like it. I use it morning and night. For foundation, I still really like the Korres Watermelon Lightweight Tinted Moisturizer SPF 30. I only use that a couple times a week, though. I am finding that the more consistent I am with exfoliation and moisturizing, the less I need to wear face make-up.

These are the products I use, but the concepts are the important part. Gently cleanse. Consistently exfoliate. Moisturize well.


Why all the BeautiControl products? My mom sold the stuff. Since she died, my sister and I have been using up her inventory and giving it away as gifts.

Why all the Clinique products? I like them.

Two Things I Love Right Now

Falsies The Falsies Mascara by Maybelline

I never believe a single word or image in a mascara commercial, so I wasn't at all impressed when I first heard of The Falsies. Then, a friend mentioned it and I decided to try it. I LOVE IT. I am an inexpert mascara applier to begin with, add to that the fact that I forgot to curl my straight lashes before applying, and it is truly amazing that my lashes looked fabulous after two quick coats.

Eyecream StriVectin-SD Eye Cream

I received a sample of the StriVectin-SD Eye Cream for completing a ridiculously long marketing survey about StriVectin print ads. It languished in the sample product graveyard that is the third drawer of my bathroom vanity until I ran out of whatever sub-standard eye cream I had been using. I've been using it twice a day for about a month and there is a noticeable difference. My dark circles have diminished and my undereye skin is plumper.

Cleaning My Hair with Baking Soda

A couple months ago, I came across this blog post titled, "How to Clean Your Hair Without Shampoo." I was intrigued by the idea that my hair could be clean and shiny and frizz-free by washing it with only a mixture of water and baking soda, and maybe using a finishing rinse of water and apple cider vinegar.

For the past three weeks, I have been using only water and baking soda to clean my hair and, for the most part, I quit using other styling products. I also added a bit of tea tree oil to my mixture to keep the lice away since lice was found in my daughter's school.

This morning, I washed my hair with good old (chemicals) shampoo and slathered it with (more chemicals) conditioner. I'd had enough! I felt like the mixture wasn't getting my hair clean enough. I know the author of that post said that it could take a month or two before your hair stops being extra oily and gets used to the new regimen, and I could have fiddled with the proportions of my mixture, but I just don't have the patience for it right now. Maybe I will try again in the summer.

My 10-Step Skin Care Routine

I developed quite the extensive skin-care routine during my second pregnancy. That baby sucked all the moisture right out of my face (and left chin hairs in its place). My skin returned almost to its naturally oily state post-pregnancy, but I discovered that my skincare routine still worked and that my skin looked great, so I have kept at it. My routine has a lot of steps, but whenever I have tried eliminating one, my skin has suffered.

My skin:

  • Combination
  • Large pores
  • Prone to breakouts
  • The beginnings of fine lines around my eyes and on my forehead (but no wrinkles!)

Step 1: Remove Eye Make-Up (twice daily)

AM: In the morning, I usually have to remove some more make-up from my eyes. It is impossible to get all the eyeliner off at night and still be gentle on my eyelids.

PM: Always remove your make-up!

Product: I use Clinique Take the Day Off Makeup Remover, primarily because I have three bottles of it from various "free gift with purchase" sucker deals. It's not too oily and it does a good job.

Step 2: Cleanse (twice daily)

AM: After removing my eye make-up, I wash my face with a gentle cleanser. In the morning, I do this step in the shower, after I rinse off the conditioner so that there is no conditioner residue on my face.

PM: After removing my eye make-up, I wash my face once to get off the rest of my make-up, then I wash my face again to make sure it's clean.

Product: I have been using Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser for years. I started using it in 2002 when I was on Accutane to clear up my acne.

Step 3: Lightly Exfoliate (once daily)

AM: I exfoliate in the shower because it makes it easier to rinse off all the grit from the scrub. I have tried every scrub known to skin and I keep coming back to Clinique 7 Day Scrub Cream. It has a fine grit, and lots of it, in a nice cream.

Step 4: Tone (twice daily)

AM: I mostly think that toner is a scam, but I use it to make sure my face is really, really clean.

PM: I usually still see a bit of make-up on the cotton pad, so I know it is at least getting my skin clean even if it doesn't do anything else.

Product: I use Lotus Flower Ginseng Toner, which appears to be a product available for private labeling since I bought it under a salon's label. It doesn't even list the ingredients, so I don't recommend it. I got it because I had a gift certificate I needed to finish off and the bottle had "hydrating system" in the description. True to its word, it does not dry out my skin, like something alcohol-based would. Once it runs out, though, I will probably try something like Clinique Clarifying Lotion 2.

Step 5: Super Exfoliate (twice weekly)

PM: Two, sometimes three, times a week I basically have to sandblast my skin. If I don't do this, my pores start to clog up. I use a battery-powered, circular brush that I run over the surface of my face with a super exfoliating cream.

Product: I use BeautiControl Microderm Abrasion Creme & Brush because my mom sells BeautiControl products and she gave it to me. It works great, though, and I plan to continue buying the cream when I run out. The cream is pricey, but it lasts a long time.

Step 6: Moisturize, the Eyes (once daily)

PM: I try to remember to do this, but this is step I skip the most.

Product: I have yet to find an eye cream I love. I am currently using Kiss My Face Eyewitness Eye Repair Creme because my brother-in-law, who works at a health food store, got a sample for free.

Step 7: Moisturize, the Undercoat (twice daily)

AM/PM: I use three layers of moisturizer twice a day because I want to look 30 when I'm 50. First, I use a serum that contains hyaluronic acid as the main ingredient. (Details here)

Product: I can't find it anywhere online. It's called Moisture Enhance and I got it at Burke-Williams, as suggested by the woman who gave me a facial.

Step 8: Moisturize, the Middle Layer (twice daily)

AM: In the morning, I use a moisturizer with SPF 25.

PM: In the evening, I use a moisturizer without SPF.

Products: I use Clinique Superdefense Age Defense Moisturizer for the morning and Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion - Very Dry to Dry Combination Skin for the evening.

Step 9: Moisturize, the Top Coat (twice daily)

AM/PM: I use a light gel lotion to seal in the other moisturizer all day and night.

Product: I love Clinique Moisture Surge Extended Thirst Relief . LOVE IT. It saved my skin when it was a desert of pregnancy hormones.

Step 10: I Use Even More Products (as needed)

I seriously can't moisturize too much. I use Korres Watermelon Lightweight Tinted Moisturizer SPF 30 instead of foundation.

I love Kiss My Face Break Out Botanical Acne Gel for blemishes, but I haven't had to use it in ages.

Call for Opinions: Mascara and Eyeliner

First, I am always looking for new eyeliner. I like a pencil or a pen, not a brush. Do you have a favorite eyeliner? Second, I am terrible at mascara. I have long lashes that are stick straight. They aren't thick but they aren't sparse either. I try to curl my lashes, but by the time I'm done applying mascara, they're straight again. I need help with utensils, products, and techniques. I would appreciate any advice you have in this area.

Call for Opinions: Short Hair vs. Long Hair

I've had a short hair jones lately. I am constantly going back and forth between short hair and long hair, or at least shoulder-length hair and long hair. Right now, my hair is about bra strap length. I was thinking of letting it grow another 4-6 inches, which would mean getting it cut next Summer or Fall.

Lately, though, I've been thinking about getting some sort of bob. Now is a good time for me to get a short hair cut. Because my hair has thinned out due to post-partum hair loss, a short hairstyle wouldn't be bushy like it normally would for me. My hair will eventually get thicker but, by then, I will have probably decided I hate short hair and will have started growing my hair out again.

When I see short hair on other women, I think it looks cool and fashionable. When I see long hair on other women, I think it looks pretty and sexy.


Frederic Fekkai Brilliant Glossing Shampoo and Conditioner


I bought my mom Frederic Fekkai Brilliant Glossing Shampoo and Conditioner for Mother's Day this year. It was recommended on gift-giving guide I read. She didn't like it. So, that kind of sucks. I spent too much money on a gift she didn't like.

Since she wasn't using it, I figured I would try it out and hope to get my money's worth. I didn't like it, either. So, that kind of sucks.

Frederic Fekkai Brilliant Glossing Shampoo should be called Frederic Fekkai Suck Ass Frizzing Shampoo.


This stuff messed up my hair so much that I couldn't even get it smooth with an iron today. I didn't wash my hair this morning so that I could straighten it with a flat iron. It tooks me ages, I had to use at least twice as much product in my hair as I normally do, and it is still kind of frizzy. Wtf, Fred?

Hyaluronic Acid for Your Skin

I added a hyaluronic acid serum to my skin care regimen about a month ago and my skin has noticeably improved. I used to have oily skin, but my skin got very dry when I was pregnant. I was barely able to keep the dryness under control with three different moisturizers. I used moisturizers that aren't supposed to clog your pores, but slathering that much stuff on my face every day, there was no avoiding clogged poors and my poor face was beginning to look rough.

Since I started using the hyaluronic acid serum under my moisturizers, I have been able to cut back on the amount of moisturizer I need to use and my skin has become smoother and clearer. Even the freckle-like spots I developed during pregnancy are diminishing.

I am definitely going to look for more products containing hyaluronic acid. I haven't mentioned the name of the serum I am using because I can't find it online and I think you can only buy it at Burke-Williams spa, which is where I got it after my facialist recommended it.

Hyaluronic acid is supposed to help with skin moisture on a cellular level. Some people advocate taking it as an oral supplement. I recommend doing more research before deciding to go that route. In my reading, I learned that hyaluronic acid also plays a role in the rapid growth of cancer cells, so I do not plan to take it orally. I will only use it as a topical treatment.

You Get What You Pay For: Haircut Edition

I tend not to get my hair cut often. I usually keep it long and layered and I just need a trim when I finally go, so it is really difficult for me to justify spending a lot on a haircut. I had been going to a drop-in place near work that was better than Super Cuts but not really that great after all. Every time I went in, my hair was cut a little worse than the time before.

Just before BlogHer in July, I went back to a real salon for a real haircut and some sideswept bangs. I went to the woman who had styled my hair for my wedding. Turns out she is great at updos and shitty at cutting hair. At BlogHer, when I had my hair styled by Anna from Lukaro Salon in Beverly Hills, she actually had to cut my bangs to fix them before she could style them.

Even though I knew I'd had a bad haircut and needed another one, I refused to get another hair cut because I'd just had one and I didn't want to pay for another one. It would feel like I was paying double for a haircut, which is ridiculous reasoning. Now that it's been about three months, I could finally justify getting my haircut again. I decided to quit being so cheap and I paid $95 (plus tip) to have Anna cut my hair. It was worth every penny.

I think the $100 mark is about where it stops, though. I once paid $250 for a hair cut with Jonathon Antin (before his ridiculous, narcissistic reality show, after which he raised his rate to $500) and it was so not worth the money.

Suave Professionals Sleek Shampoo and Conditioner

Suave  I have been using Sauve Professionals Sleek Shampoo and Conditioner for the past couple months and it is pretty damn awesome. The Sauve site claims that Sleek is salon-proven to work as well as Matrix sleek.look Shampoo and Conditioner to smooth dry or frizzy hair. I have never used Matrix products, so I can't attest to that, but I can say that the Sauve Professionals Sleek works better than the Pantene Ice Shine, which I had been using and which I really liked.

I have long, naturally wavy hair that is thick with a somewhat coarse texture and it tends to frizz. This shampoo really helps me keep a handle on the frizz. I found that I am having to use less additional product on my hair (mousse, anti-frizz serum) than I did before, which is saving me money on those products as well as on my shampoo and conditioner costs.

The 32 oz. size Sauve cost me $3.04 at Target, compared to double the price for the 25 oz. Pantene. When I ran out of my old shampoo and conditioner, there was no doubt in my mind that I was ditching Pantene for something new.

Burt's Bees Super Shiny Grapefruit & Sugar Beet Conditioner vs. Pantene Ice Shine Conditioner

Pantene The past few weeks I have been thinking I need to get a haircut because my hair has become a bit unruly and dull. Earlier this week I ran out of the new conditioner I was trying and switched back to an old one. Suddenly, my hair looks great again.

Verdict: Burt's Bees Super Shiny Grapefruit & Sugar Beet Conditioner sucks. Pantene Ice Shine Conditioner rocks (and it costs less than half as much).

Venus Embrace Razor from Gillette

Venus_embrace I used to think that the increasing number of blades on razors was getting to be ridiculous, but it turns out they actually make a difference. I recently purchased the Venus Embrace razor at Costco in a package that came with the razor, a bunch of cartridges and suction cup holder for the shower. The Venus Embrace has five blades (compared to three on the original Venus, which I replaced with this one) with a rubbery strip at the top and bottom of the razor.

This razor is magic. I didn't shave my legs for at least a week. (Get over it.) I have dark, thick hair and a lot of it. This razor shaved my legs as smooth as can be in no time flat with no problems whatsoever. If you have ever let your legs go for that long or longer, you know it can sometimes be a pain in the butt to finally shave them again. With that one shave, this razor completely justified its cost to me. Just to make sure it wasn't a fluke, I didn't shave my legs for another week or so. (Of course that's the real reason.) It worked just as well the second time, and every time since.