How I Beat Acne

I have such sympathy for those who struggle with acne and are consistently trying to achieve clear skin, because I’ve been there. It can be one of the most difficult, and frustrating beauty challenges to face…especially when those who’ve never dealt with skin problems are quick to criticize. I struggled with cystic acne towards the end of high school and for a couple years while I was in college, and it honestly put me into a slight depression.

Before I move on, let me clarify that while my skin was bad, it was not nearly as severe as others have suffered. I wish I had quality pictures to share with my face completely stripped of any and all makeup- but to be honest, I did everything in my power to not be photographed- so the pictures I was able to find are not 100% accurate of my skin at the time.

Me in my senior year of high school after a softball game. You can see some of my active acne, as well as many of my scars.

I was a clean person, I took excellent care of my skin, and just could not understand why it wouldn’t clear up. I tried every product under the sun (Clean & Clear, Neutrogena, Clearasil, Cetaphil, Dove, Biore, Aveeno, ProActiv..the list goes on), I used a handful of different prescription creams and face washes from my dermatologist- (benzaclin and tazorac worked for a while, but I ended up with a crazy allergic reaction- half of my face was swollen for 2 days!),  I concocted every home remedy I could find on the internet (crushed Tylenol pills mixed with lemon juice to reduce redness, tomato face masks…), I tried tanning, I tried completely avoiding the sun (definitely a buzz kill during my Summer beach vacation) I drank tons of water…but still nothing. My hormones were not going to let up. I strongly considered Accutane, but was turned off by it’s ridiculously strict rules and harsh side effects.

This was taken during my sophomore year of college. I was tanning a lot during this time.

I wish I could tell you that I found a miracle OTC product that cleared my skin up overnight, but that was not the case, and I went through a lot of trial and error before finding a solution.

In my Junior year of college, I decided to start taking birth control pills- I had been so against birth control for the longest time, I didn’t want to take any kind of medication that would alter something natural, but I opted to try it for its promise to clear up my skin. I had exhausted every other opportunity.

I began taking Necon 1/35 – the generic contraceptive for Ortho-Novum 1/35 in the Fall of 2008.

Necon 1/35

I quickly began to see results. My skin wasn’t breaking out as badly, or frequently as it had been.

FALL 2008: A couple of weeks after I started taking Necon 1/35
FALL 2009
WINTER 2009: Completely clear!

A little over a year after starting Necon 1/35 my skin had fully recovered. Today I occasionally deal with a major pimple or two, but I’ve developed a skin care routine that has helped me to maintain an overall clear complexion.  A couple rules that I live by:

1) NEVER go to bed without washing your face.

I scrub my face every single night with St. Ives apricot scrub. It's the only facewash that actually feels like it works.

2) TONE!

Never underestimate using a toner!

3) Always moisturize!

I usually tan my face at night (this is totally optional) many people would disagree with using tanning products, but I find it helps to even out my skin-tone before morning.

When I opt out of tanning lotion, I prefer to use Ponds Dry Skin cream. It keeps my face super hydrated all day/night.

Taking care of your skin is a lot of work. It can be expensive, time consuming, and tedious, but it is important! If I could only secure one physical beauty attribute- it’d be a clear face. Like I said, I feel for anyone who struggles with acne.

If you currently take a birth control- check with your gynecologist that it is also beneficial for your skin. I’ve recommended Necon 1/35 to a couple of friends and they have seen incredible results as well. It truly saved my skin, and was not as difficult as committing to Accutane or other prescription medications.

A recent picture! (I may be a little but my skin has been doing excellent 🙂

I wish anyone struggling with clear skin lots of luck!

Do you have a story about your journey to clear skin? What helped you beat acne? Do you have any favorite products?

Gelish Spring 2012 Candy Land Collection

Even though I have been on a gel-hiatus the past couple of weeks, it hasn’t stopped me from stocking up on new polishes. My preferred brand of gel nail polish, Gelish, recently came out with its Spring 2012 Candy Land Collection, and I couldn’t resist these new colors!

Gelish Candy Land Collection
Sugar Daddy, You're such a Sweet-Tart, Don't Be Such a Sourpuss, Sugar N' Spice & Everything Nice, Orange Cream Dream, You're So Sweet You're Giving Me a Toothache.

I visited my local Sally’s Beauty Supply store a few weeks ago, and picked up the two new pink shades…

“Sugar N’ Spice and Everything Nice”…

and “You’re So Sweet You’re Giving Me a Toothache”…

These colors are perfect for the Spring! I’ve worn both already- I can’t decide which is my favorite… “You’re So Sweet..” is basically the gel equivalent to Essie’s FIJI- one of my all time favorite colors .

"You're So Sweet..."

“Sugar N’ Spice” is so bright and fun! I got tons of compliments on it 🙂

"Sugar 'N Spice..."

I can’t wait to pick up “Sugar Daddy” and “Don’t Be Such a Sourpuss” next! “Sugar Daddy” reminds me of the blue manicure I was wearing last week…

My current lilac manicure color would fit perfectly into this gel collection! If only… sigh.

Have you tried any of the colors from the Candy Land Collection yet? Which are your favorites?

Foundation Favorites

My skin has had it’s ups and downs. I never had problems with acne until I got to college. My sophomore year was the worst, I honestly spent weekends locked inside my dorm room, refusing to go a-n-y-wh-e-r-e! (I’ll have to post about how I beat acne, and my skincare routine soon!)

I’ve been lucky that past couple of years, I’ve found a way to maintain a clear complexion. However, I am still concerned when selecting new makeup to put on my face.

I don’t like feeling, or looking like a cake face, nor do I like to wear a lot of makeup. Luckily, after much trial and error I’ve found the perfect foundation products, and wanted to share!

Full Coverage:

Sally Hansen Natural Beauty Liquid Foundation (Beige). $13 CVS

This foundation applies perfectly even and has amazing all-day coverage.  I’ve used it for about 7 months, and just had to pick up a new bottle! I love that the liquid dispenses through a pump & I feel that I get the best coverage when I apply it with my hands as opposed to a brush or sponge.

Benefit's "Some Kind-a Gorgeous" (Medium) $30 Sephora

I love this oil to cream powder foundation for daytime, or weekends… any time I’m running out quickly and don’t want to apply a full face of make up. It’s applied with a sponge and has phenomenal coverage, however, it does not hold up well for a full day.

While it is fairly pricey, I’ve heard rave reviews from dozens of people about the Laura Mercier Silk Cream Foundation, I have yet to try it, but I definitely want to pick it up at some point.

Laura Mercier Silk Creme Foundation $42 Sephora

Light Coverage:

Benefit "You Rebel" tinted moisturizer $30 Sephora

I absolutely love tinted moisturizers, and Benefit’s “You Rebel” is perfect for the Summer months when I have a natural tan and just need to even out my skin. Clearly I’ve worked my way through a tube of this stuff as well!

Now don’t be fooled, not all tinted moisturizers work that well, “You Rebel” is $30.00 but it is worth every penny! When I ran out, I tried to find a cheap drugstore brand to tide me over until I made a trip to Sephora, so I picked this up…

CoverGirl's CG Smoothers tinted moisturizer

It was only $8.00 but it was HORRIBLE! It’s basically a tint-less moisturizer…no coverage what-so-ever, and it appears very streaky on my face.

Sometimes it’s worth spending a little more money…especially when it comes to makeup.

What are your favorite foundations?

Spring Mani Tutorial

Lately, I’ve been  opting out of my gel mani’s. I want to let my nails breathe a bit, and to be honest- I missed using all of the gorgeous regular colors that I have! Since I am such a nut about having chip-free nails, and seeing as regular polish doesn’t last too long or remain as shiny as gel does,  I  painted them on Sunday afternoon…for the third time this week.

I wanted to choose a fun Spring color (Even though I hear Connecticut can expect Winter-like temperatures this upcoming week :(). Here is my mani process shared through pictures… enjoy!

I like to set up my nail station so that I have everything I need ready to go...
When there's nothing on TV, I pop in Newlyweds. I honestly watch episodes on a weekly basis...such a guilty pleasure. I choose to ignore the reality of their failed relationship, but I promise I'm not in denial lol
Glass file, ridge triangle, buffing cube & cuticle clipper
OPI Chip Skip, Nail Tek II base coat, Love & Beauty Forever 21 Lilac polish, and Seche Vite top coat
(My nails are super EW without polish-look at that ring finger, I don't even know what happened to it-ugh! Hence the letting them breathe phase). File and buff, apply layer of Chip Skip & 1 layer of base coat, follow with the first coat of color, then a second, finish with a generous layer of Seche Vite top coat
Clean up edges with Q-tips and 100% acetone
And ta-da! I'm loving this color 🙂

What are some of your favorite Spring colors?

Achieve a perfectly healthy at-home tan year round!

I am a self proclaimed tan-o-holic! It is a known fact that my mood is significantly improved when I have a tan.  My roommate shares the same philosophy, and we go above and beyond to achieve the perfect at-home tan…many times leaving us a bit orange and a tad dirty looking, however, we’re not too phased.

Halloween last year- My roommate Lauren on the left, myself on the right, and some girl dressed as Snooki in the middle whose attempt to be super tan was basically lost standing between the two of us.

I stopped tanning in the beds for the obvious fact that it’s not good for my skin, and I was having weird headaches and chest pains which I attributed to the UV lights… since they’ve since ceased. So I’ve been a tanning product junkie lately!

I have tried nearly every self tanning spray, lotion, foam, towel, and mist there is, but here are the two products that I swear by:

For my face, I refuse to use ANYTHING but the Neutrogena Micromist! (I use shade #3 -DEEP)

I usually mist my face at night before bed, since it takes a while for the color to set. You'll wake up with the perfect amount of bronze and it won't wash off in the shower the next morning!
FYI- When applying to your face, mist horizontally across your face starting at your forehead and going down your neck, do NOT spray this into your hands first like the directions say!

For my body, I still prefer the Jergens Natural Glow body lotion in Medium to Dark skin tones…

I apply this lotion at night as well, since it takes a while for the color to set in. Tip- wash hands with soap and warm water immediately after applying to avoid orange palms and fingers!

I prefer the above products because they are not for one time use, and last the longest on my skin without washing out.

My runner ups:

The lotion on the left is alright, it's a bit too orange and it has a serious shimmer- too much for my face. The pump gel on the right is great for instant color, I use it when I'm going out and need a serious pick me up. Wash hands REALLY well if you use either of these products *SUPER ORANGE*


This spray doesn't work that well, and it smells AWFUL!
I don't feel that the foam has the same effect as the Jergens Natural Glow lotion, you also totally lose out on the moisturizer factor.
This product had two pumps that released two foams simultaneously; one was a moisturizing foam, and the other was the pigment. Sometimes they both failed to work, and would get a bit messy. I wouldn't recommend.

I  tried one tan towel a while ago, but cannot remember the brand. I wasn’t a huge fan, but I have heard many people rave about them- if you have a good recommendation of one, let me know!

If you still feel like you could use a boost of color- don’t skimp out on the bronzer!

I have a variety of bronzers- I love my Hoola best! 🙂

Which self tanning products do you swear by?

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