Lip Balm That Actually Nourishes? (This Lip Balm Saved My Lips!)

I know it sounds crazy! Maybe you’re like me and run-of-the-mill lip balms don’t impress you: you smear it on, and it just seems to sit there. It doesn’t really do anything. For years, I walked around with lips that almost always looked chapped. In reality, they actually weren’t. They weren’t dry at all. They just had this layer of dried skin on the top that made for an unpolished look and made attractively applying lipstick impossible. This is just another area affected by seborrheic dermatitis for many, and certainly one that made me very self-conscious (and a chronic lip-chewer) for many years.

l_g0045889289I had pretty much given up on lip balms. I tried Burt’s Bees, I tried Hoorah!, I tried all the natural ones, I tried oils … Nothing really worked. Then I recently chanced upon a great find. I was doing my usual Asian cosmetics shopping and noticed Kose collagen lip balm. I liked the packaging, thought the idea of collagen in a lip balm seemed sensible, it was under $5, and I thought it was something different from what I’ve tried. I was already ordering some other items, so I decided to take a chance and add it to my cart. There was another lip balm that had hyaluronic acid in it, and I decided to try that one as well.

While the hyaluronic acid lip balm wasn’t super impressive (too much sunscreen in it, it has a very sunscreen-y flavor), the collagen lip balm is amazing! I use it every morning and evening, and my lips have not once gone dry or gotten the dry layer over that they used to, even though we are now having wintery weather (windy and temps below 20F). My lips finally look like a normal person’s lips! This lip balm saved my lips! It took a few days of use to get my lips fully used to it and prevent that dry layer from forming: I had to exfoliate my lips before applying this when I first started. Now, I still do some light exfoliation, but nothing like what I had been doing before I found out about this lip balm. Another thing I like about it: you can apply it and feel it get absorbed. It isn’t just a layer that sits on top of your lips. It actually is a lip moisturizer. Why had I never heard of a lip moisturizer before? We moisturize every other part of our face. Why not our lips, too?

If you’re on the market for a better lip balm, I highly recommend trying this one! As with most of my cosmetics, this also comes from YesStyle.

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Follow-up Post on Toners for Seborrheic Dermatitis, Oily Skin, and Acne: Skin Purging

I wanted to add something to my last post but decided creating a new post made more sense because it rings true not just to the toners I use. So the toners I use (COSRX toner with AHA and BHA in the evenings and Milk Makeup Matcha Toner in the mornings) are specifically for oily skin, enlarged pores, and for skin that needs more than just physical exfoliation (in other words, when physical exfoliation just isn’t doing the trick or the skin needs to be exfoliated too frequently–like everyday or every other day. That was my skin before using the AHA/BHA toner).

Whenever you add an exfoliation step to your routine or a pore refining step, expect to break out for a few weeks. I know this seems counter-intuitive: you’re adding this step so you stop breaking out. But as the skin works clogs out of the skin, flareups will tend to happen. When you first start, your pores are probably clogged, and a natural part of the process will be for the skin to start purging the pores. Just like when you do manual pore extractions, pores are prone to infection during this process. This is what a lot of people refer to as skin purging. It is quite common, especially when you start using a chemical exfoliant-containing product, for 4-8 weeks after starting this step. I know, it is annoying, and often times it can be disappointing when you start using it and think, “This is working so well! My skin feels amazing!” and then a few days later you feel like your complexion has reverted to that of your teenage years! Be patient, though. If after 8 weeks your skin is still severely breaking out, it may be necessary to rethink what you’re using. That being said, depending on how deep your pores are, the length of time the purging process requires can vary. If after 8 weeks, you are still breaking out, but not nearly as much, you know you’ve gotten through the worst of it.

The best way to tell if your skin is purging or if it is a product or step that is bad for your skin is by taking note of where you’re breaking out: if you’re breaking out with this new step in areas you typically get acne (whether it be blackheads, whiteheads, zits, or even cysts), it is definitely your skin purging. If you find you’re breaking out in areas that you don’t otherwise have these problems, it is most likely necessary to rethink your new routine.

Another thing to consider is what your new product contains that may cause skin purging: chemical exfoliants like AHA, BHA, salicylic acid, glycolic acid, or lactic acid commonly cause skin purging. It is also common to have skin purging when starting a new product that contains witch hazel, which is a pore refining ingredient and is found in both toners I mentioned earlier.

Here’s a great article on Allure about breakouts vs skin purging. Here is an even better article that goes into a little more detail (and has fewer ads to slow your browser down!).

At the end of the day, remember to be patient when starting a new product that has chemical exfoliants. Give your skin time to detox, and hopefully after 8 weeks, your skin will never have looked better! (At least, this is what I keep telling myself, because two weeks into my new routine, and my face is really in full-purge mode, and it is not pretty…)

Toners for Seborrheic Dermatitis, Oily Skin, and Acne

For a long time I went without using any toners. My initial experience with toners was quite bad: as a teenager with atypically severe acne I was recommended Clinique, the ever-worshipped place to go for everything a girl struggling with acne could need from makeup to skincare. I tried the Clinique routine, including their horrific toners, which are mostly denatured alcohol. Note here that denatured alcohol is the worst possible thing you could put on your skin: it dehydrates (not good for oil control) and damages by thinning the skin out. I started with the level 2 toner and within a year had graduated to level 5. My skin’s oiliness just kept getting worse!!

Eventually, I took toners out of my routine all together, though I continued to struggle with severe oiliness and acne. I won’t go on a rant about how I came to manage my oiliness (you can read those posts here and here). What I will tell you is how I returned to toners and what toners I have found to be absolutely amazing for all of my skin issues!

For a while I was using an Innisfree green tea toner, but it wasn’t really doing much for me. I applied it twice daily for several months, and it just never seemed to really do anything… at all. After a while, before I even finished the bottle, I simply stopped using it. It seemed like just an extra expense and step to my morning and evening routine, which might I add I try to keep as simple as possible. I am a big believer that you don’t need to use a mountain of products day and night to maintain healthy skin, and the longer I have been doing this the more I find that this is true: you just need to choose the right products.

I was however having issues with skin texture from the seborrheic dermatitis. Every morning and evening before cleansing my skin would be gritty. I had tried microdermabrasion with good results as long as I had it done every 6-8 weeks, but it got expensive and I decided not to continue. My skin needed to be exfoliated 3-4 times a week to control the grittiness and roughness, which was also causing my pores to clog, get deeper, and often led to painful, deep pimples. Physical exfoliation just didn’t seem to be quite doing the trick for maintaining my skin. I had avoided chemical exfoliation up to this point, because chemical exfoliation can be quite harsh and is certainly a step over physical exfoliation. If you exfoliate more than what your skin needs, it will backfire on you. So I took a step-wise approach to increasing the degree of exfoliation that I was doing, but with physical exfoliation alone, I was not getting any improvements.

After reading about the glass skin K-trend and an article about different toners for different skin types and what ingredients to look for, I decided to entertain the idea again. I stumbled across a Korean toner on YesStyle (where I get about half of my skincare products and most of my Korean and Japanese skincare items) that amazingly met several criteria: it contains small amounts of both AHA and BHA for daily exfoliation as well as witch hazel, which is an important ingredient managing oily skin and refining pores. I thought it was a long shot, a totally random find, but the item was on sale for $13 instead of the usual price of $32, so what the heck? I like trying new things.

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Best discovery ever!! This toner has seriously changed my life. My skin has never felt smoother or more supple. My lotions and creams absorb so quickly. I can also tell that my pores are slowly but surely being refined and are in the process of shrinking. In addition, this toner with my other products has pretty much eliminated my oily skin. I can wash my face at 7AM, apply my makeup, go about my day, and not remove my makeup and wash my face until 8:30PM and my skin remains almost completely oil-free all day! That’s 12 hours of practically being oil-free! I started by using this twice a day for the first couple of weeks, and after that I only use it in the evenings so my heaviest skincare products that I use at night can be absorbed really well thanks to the exfoliating properties of the toner. This brand, COSRX, is a Korean brand that I had never heard of, but this toner and other COSRX products have gotten great reviews on YesStyle. If you have seborrheic dermatitis on your face, oily 81x8xkncsjl-_sx522_.jpgskin, acne, or skin that seems to need excessive physical exfoliation throughout the week, I highly recommend trying this toner! I still exfoliate once a week using Natural Aqua Gel Cure (you can also find this on Amazon in the US), a very gentle exfoliating gel, as well as a SkinFood black sugar and strawberry mask.

41p1fyzjiol-_sy679_In the mornings, I use a gel matcha toner from Milk Makeup that contains witch hazel to continue getting the pore refining and oil control benefits. Between those two toners, my skin has never felt better. For the first time in my life, my skin looks and feels healthy, the oiliness is completely under control. I used to be the girl who saw others with flawless, healthy, smooth, clear skin and wondered what they do and what they use to get their skin so lovely. Now I feel like I am the girl that other girls look at wondering what my secret is to such nice skin! It has a radiant glow, it’s smooth, youthful, and healthy.

Next time, I will write a post on my upgraded skincare routine! I finally feel like I have mastered a routine that is making my skin amazing. I want to share all the amazing products I have found that have changed my life and my skin for the better! If you want faster updates on my skincare routine and short versions of skincare product reviews, follow me on Instagram!

My Favorite Lounge Bras!

It has been a little while since I’ve written, but I wanted to share some eBay finds.

Let me start by explaining what I mean by lounge bra. When I look for a lounge bra, I want something wireless with great support. Usually these end up being wireless, foam push-up bras, which are actually perfect for lounging in. They give great support and lift, and because they are wireless, they’re super soft and comfy to lay around in–or even sleep in.

I discovered this type of bra by accident, but after having a couple I found I absolutely loved them. They’re also great for summer when you want to avoid sweating in a wire bra, because the wires can start to rust and can get a very distinct metallic smell.

Another great thing about these bras is you can find them on eBay at a very low price! (These bras are all under $20, and some even come with matching panties!) The downside is that they can be really tricky to search for! The listings don’t always say whether they are wireless, sometimes they don’t have enough pictures to give you an idea what the product actually is, and sometimes a bra can look like it’s wireless and then when it arrives you find out it isn’t.

That is why I have listed my five favorite lounge bras with links to the product I ordered. This way, you don’t have to go through the bother of trying to figure it out yourself. Okay, here are my favorites (in no particular order)! Oh, and P.S. I don’t get any benefit from promoting these items. I just like sharing great products with others! Typically, the sizes offered by these brands are 32-38, A-C cups.

Smooth Seamless Bra: Great for T-Shirts

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Thoughts: This bra is fantastic for wearing under t-shirts or delicate tops. It’s seamless and very smooth, and it also comes in several cute patterns: Swiss dot, hearts, or leopard print, with a couple of different colors as well. The band is nice and wide with three rows, giving a really good fit and good support. The padding also gives really good support and is so soft! I love this bra. I actually bought two in different colors: pink with hearts and navy with Swiss dots.

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Sizing: All of the sizes on these products will run relatively small, as they are Chinese or Japanese products. This is really good if you have a hard time finding bras with a small enough band to fit snugly and give proper support. In Western sizes, I wear a 28DD, and a lot of 28’s still don’t give a very snug fit. A 32 for this bra was perfect! I still wear it on the tightest column, but it gives a very supportive fit. The cup conversion will be the same as it would be for Western band sizes, i.e. 28DD->30D->32C. I bought a 32C, and the cup was perfect.

Seamless Bra with Lace: Also Great for T-Shirts, but With A Little Extra Cuteness

s-l16001Thoughts: Like with the previous seamless bra, this is also a great t-shirt bra, though I would probably not recommend as much for delicate tops. The lace and bow detailing may show through! That being said, the lace and bow detailing are part of what make it adorable. Like the previous bra, the band is wide with three rows. The type of padding is also essentially the same in terms of shape, making this another bra that gives really nice supportive lift while keeping you free to roll around on the couch as much as you want without concern for pokey wires.

tb2m5a0asik-ebjszfsxxbxzpxa_161087090Sizing: The band size on this actually runs smaller than other bras I have bought from China. This pretty much never happens to me, but I was actually wearing this bra on the second from the tightest column as the tightest was, well, too tight. The cups also run a little shallow: I was spilling out like crazy in the 32C. That being said, I think that is the way it’s designed, so it wasn’t a fit issue. However, if you want a smooth silhouette, you don’t want to be spilling out of your bra. I reordered this bra in a 34C.

Lacey T-Shirt Bra: Doesn’t Look Like a Lounge Bra At All!

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Thoughts: This bra is really cute and has just enough lace on it to make it cuter than just a t-shirt bra. Because the lace is on the side of the cups, wearing this with a t-shirt is still okay, but the contrasting lace and center bow just makes it a really nice bra that doesn’t really look like a lounge bra at all! This bra has a smaller band that isn’t nearly as supportive as the first two, but is still a decent width (I have certainly seen much more narrow bands). The padding on this bra is also not super push-up, so if you’re just looking for something comfortable to wear that won’t necessarily give you a push-up effect, this bra is for you!

tb2ghz-pxxxxxcgxxxxxxxxxxxx_161087090tb2a-m9pxxxxxctxxxxxxxxxxxx_161087090Sizing: This bra runs about the same size as the first one. I ordered a 32C, and it fits fine. It isn’t the most snug fitting band, so the support isn’t amazing. This will probably be less of a problem for people with a wider rib cage than mine (in other words, everyone).

Lace Overlay Bra: Cute With Moderate Support

s-l16002Thoughts: This bra is cute to look at, but the design is a little odd. I love the look of the bra, but the fit is just not really what I was going for. It is shaped very differently from the other bras. If you want something that’s less of a push-up bra and gives a more toned-down look, this bra is probably perfect for you. The contrast bows also give it a very cutesy touch! This may not be the perfect t-shirt bra as it has lace overlay, but it is still great for support and very cute!

tb2d3blpb0kpufjy0fjxxcbbvxa_161087090Sizing: The width of this bra’s band is a little bit wider than the previous bra, but not as wide as the first two. 32C was a really good fit for me, with a really nice snug band. The cups seemed a little bit shallow, but it’s honestly hard to tell with the straps in the middle of the cups.

Floral and Lace: Super Padding

s-l500Thoughts: If you’re wanting something with a lot of padding, this is a great bra. It also has a very wide band (the widest of all of these bras). The design is very cute, and it is very supportive. For me, personally, the amount of padding is actually excessive. It makes me really self-conscious wearing this. However, the padding is very soft, and this is also a great bra for just hanging around in!

2536573264_1310376075Sizing: Again, I ordered a 32C for this, but the band was still not quite as snug as I would like for good support. The padding, however, gives really good support, and I didn’t have any problems with the cups, even with the amount of padding.

Tips For Finding Bras Like These

When you’re doing your own online search for wireless bras, there is one thing most of them have in common.

As you can see, four out of the five bras I recommended have pictures on the item page that show the bra rolled up, which is obviously impossible if the bra has wire in it. If there’s a bra you’re eying and the product page has an image of the bra rolled up, you know it’s at least wireless. Determining the amount of padding it has will be trickier, but this is a good starting point.

I hope you found some cute bras through this post!

Managing/Healing Seborrheic Dermatitis: My Skin Routine Now

It’s been a long time since I last wrote, but I have been hard at work trying to get my skin and overall health in a better place. My whole life, my skin has been a series of woes and complications. I have always had to put in twice as much effort as others even just for mediocre skin. After hundreds of products, many years, and many more tears, I am finally in a place where I can say, “I HAVE GREAT SKIN!!” Knowing there are many others out there who struggle with acne, oily skin, seborrheic dermatitis, and other relentless skin conditions, I decided to compile a comprehensive article of what I am doing now and what changes I have made. I hope this post will be helpful for others, although be ready for a pretty lengthy article, though I will do my best to cut out anything that isn’t essential information. Feel free to ask questions if there’s something you want to know. Let’s start from the beginning.

A Little History

As a teenager, I had moderate to severe cystic acne (closer to the severe side than the moderate side) and undiagnosed seborrheic dermatitis, mostly on my scalp. I started puberty very early, having my first period at 8 or 9 years old. By the time I was 10, I was having some pretty serious skin issues, and by the time I was 13, I had stopped growing (I still say I was cheated out of my true height). My periods were horribly painful events as well, which eventually led to seeing an endocrinologist at around 15. At that time, I was diagnosed with high testosterone and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). I was having issues with blood sugar, probably as a result of the PCOS, so I was put on metformin, but quickly stopped taking it after it made me sick (and I mean sick all the time). In addition, I was put on birth control pills to help with the PCOS and testosterone dominance.

While the birth control pills helped with my periods, even after seeing a dermatologist since I was 12 and being put on a series of topical antibiotics and oral antibiotics and using every skin care regimen under the sun (tried Proactive twice, tried Clinique for several years, etc.), I saw practically no resolution for my acne. The dermatologist eventually decided to put me on Accutane, and this cleared up my skin beautifully–for a few years anyway. I was 19 when I was put on Accutane, and by the time I was 22, my skin seemed to start rebelling against me again. At 22, I also decided to stop the birth control pill, but my periods were wildly irregularly after that, and who knows what the heck was going on with my hormones! As I got into my early 20’s, I also started using more and more natural products, doing a lot of research on diet and nutrition, and started my long road of overhauling my entire lifestyle.

Fast Forward to Today Relatively Recently

I’m getting ahead of myself ! We need a little more background.

My irregular periods continued until I started bioidentical hormone replacement therapy. To my surprise, I was not diagnosed with high testosterone, but with low progesterone, so now I am supplementing bioidentical progesterone (not to be mistaken for plant-based [phyto] progesterone or phytoestrogens). So my hormones were all good at this point, but my skin was still…well, mediocre.

My skincare regime had evolved several times at this point. I had tried oil cleansing, oil cleansing with steam, carrot masks, tea tree oil, honey: the extreme of all natural. This stuff works for a lot of people, and that’s great. However, much to my dismay, it did not work for me. My only guess is that my skin is so complicated and has had compounded effects of using very harsh products (Clinique and Proactive? Super harsh) in addition to my already existing skin problems, especially seborrheic dermatitis. Seborrheic dermatitis seemed to cause excessive layers of dead skin on my face and scalp, worsened by increased oil, which made these layers stubborn as hell when trying to remove. It took me a very long time to even figure out I had seborrheic dermatitis. I gave up on the dermatologist after 20, as they were really not helping me at all and were unwilling to try a different approach. They just kept throwing the same stuff at me, hoping it would work. Well, it never did.

Rant aside, I used oils for a while and went completely natural. Because of my seborrheic dermatitis, though, it wasn’t very effective. It was like the oil would just sit on top of my face and would have almost no cleansing effect at all. Needless to say, that didn’t last very long. After a while, having switched back to somewhat more traditional cleansers, I read more about sulfates in cleansing products. Sulfates, which are actually used for desiccants (absorb moisture to keep products dry), are so harsh that they remove more moisture from the skin than the skin or any lotion can replenish. Sulfates dry the skin down to such a deep layer, your lotion will never reach how far your skin has been stripped of moisture. This has a compounding effect: dry skin will become increasingly dryer, and oily skin will freak out and increase the amount of oil produced to make up for the moisture loss–except the oil produced is usually poor quality oil and it ends up just giving you very greasy skin.

After this revelation, I immediately switched both my skin cleansers (face and body wash) and shampoo to sulfate-free. The change was immediate and improved more with time. I saw probably an 80% reduction in the oiliness of my skin once I started using only sulfate-free cleansers. To illustrate this, before switching to sulfate-free products, I had been using French green clay on my face once a week, and this was perfect to manage my oiliness for a week. After I started using a sulfate-free cleanser, the French green clay was way too drying, even with jojoba oil added to it! This was a pretty dramatic step toward amazing skin, and I recommend to everyone, even those who do not have skin problems, switch to sulfate-free! Your skin will thank you for it. Sulfate-free products are also becomingly increasingly easy to find. I eventually even switched to sulfate-free hand soap, because I get eczema on my hands. I don’t get eczema on my hands anymore!

As I was making this sulfate-free switch, I was also getting more acquainted with high-quality skincare brands. It is still a lot of trial and error, as some products are just the right composition to be brilliant for one person’s skin, but may not be worth the price tag for another person’s skin. It can be overwhelming how many options there are now, but I can speak from experience in saying that it is worth trying a ton of different products when you finally find the ones that work. One of the greatest resources for me has been a website called My Pure. It is a UK-based company that ships worldwide (only ~$7 for shipping, too!) and has some of the best all-natural and organic European brands on the market. My favorite for body wash, body lotion, and hand lotion is Madara. Their products are amazing. The cost is a little bit high, but try it just once, and I think you will find it worth it.

Okay, Now Fast Forward to Today

Yay! Now I get to tell you about what I have done in the past few weeks that has really transformed my skin!

Facial Products
Let’s start with facial products, as I have already discussed the body lotion I am using. I have fallen in love with South Korean skincare products. They are the leading country in formulating great skincare products that are plant-based, while Western countries tend to believe in the power of chemicals to make great skin products (this does not work well for a lot of people). Many people who have very sensitive skin have had great success switching to South Korean products, and I don’t mean “South Korean” products sold at Sephora. I mean South Korean products directly from South Korea.

These can be found on Amazon, though some people claimed to have received fake products (I’ve never had this problem, and you can buy from South Korean shops through Amazon). I prefer to order all my Asian cosmetics from YesStyle, as it is a store I trust and have been shopping on for years. Some brand names that spring to mind if you aren’t sure where to start is Innisfree and Etude House. The Face Shop and Nature Republic are two brands that are also very good and a little less expensive than Innisfree or Etude House. I have been very happily using a combination of Innisfree, The Face Shop, and Nature Republic for months now. They all have a green tea series, which is what I have really been liking, as green tea has lots of great properties. I recently decided to switch completely to Innisfree products for skincare, as it has received slightly better reviews, a few of which were written by girls with oily skin issues. Once I have tried these, I will post my own review. Right now, this is what my routine looks like:

Morning
Face: Innisfree Green Tea Cleansing Foam, The Face Shop Green Tea Waterfull Emulsion for face and neck, Replenix CF Cream for eyes, Nature Republic Fresh Green Tea 80 Cream
Back of neck, upper arms, shoulders, chest, and upper back: Body Merry Retinol Surge Moisturizer (contains retinol/vitamin A, hyaluronic acid, vitamin E + B5, and green tea)
Evening
Face: Skin Blossom Gentle Cleansing Milk or baby oil for makeup removal (for both, I just massage the product on my face and use toilet tissue to gently wipe the makeup away. It works great and makes a huge difference in how oily my skin gets overnight.), The Face Shop Green Tea Waterfull Serum, Body Merry Retinol Surge Moisturizer
Breasts and decollete: Mio Boob Tube+ with a few drops of Evening Primrose Oil
Back of neck, upper arms, shoulders, and upper back: Body Merry Retinol Surge Moisturizer

There are a couple more items I want to mention about my skincare. I have been getting microdermabrasion treatments for a few weeks, which has made a world of difference in removing those excessive layers of dead skin on my face. Since I started getting these treatments, which I get every 8 weeks, my skin products absorb MUCH faster and are much more effective. If you have seborrheic dermatitis, I highly recommend going through a series of microdermabrasion treatments. I am hoping it will “reset” my skin. Once those layers of dead skin are removed after years of skin abuse, I hope my skin will not feel the need to create such a barrier now that my skin care routine is much gentler. This is also one of the reasons I decided microdermabrasion over chemical peel. As the name suggests, chemical peels are very harsh, and I know my skin: it has a tendency to overreact and then I am worse off than I started. I am still getting the microdermabrasion treatments now, but I am really curious to find out how my skin does when I stop getting them.

Also, I do exfoliate once a week, but now that I’m getting microdermabrasion treatments, I can use a really gentle exfoliator and get great results! I had tried the Japanese product Natural Aqua Gel Cure (available on Amazon) without a very satisfying outcome several months ago before getting microdermabrasion. However, now it is the perfect exfoliant: gentle enough not to cause an overreaction in my skin, but just enough to smooth my skin very nicely and help my products absorb better. I hope this continues to be a good option for me even after I stop the microdermabrasion.

Now that I’ve discussed all of my skincare products, there are a few other essential changes I have made to my lifestyle.

Detox
This is important for overall health and even more important for the skin. The skin is a major elimination organ, meaning anything the body wants to get rid of gets pushed out of the body and through the skin. This means that if your body is overloaded with toxins, chemicals, anything at all that the body is wanting to remove, your skin is going to constantly be impacted negatively. Your body probably needs some detox support to effectively clear everything out, and by properly clearing things out, your skin will eventually reach a point where it is not always being irritated by what the body is trying to get rid of.

There are lots of different ways to detox. I prefer the daily/weekly mild detoxing methods over the debilitating once a year liver detoxes that I have only ever read about. As such, I will limit my discussion to what I’m doing now. First, I go to the sauna twice weekly for 30 minutes. Sauna is amazing for detoxing and deep skin cleansing! I have read of people who have healed their seborrheic dermatitis using sauna as part of their treatment. Sauna has a lot of the same benefits as cardio workouts, including increasing human growth hormone. Known as the “hormone of youth”, human growth hormone is essential for repair. I would caution against using sauna too often, as it can cause dehydration if you’re not careful, but 2-3 times a week is great. To read more about the benefits of sauna, read here, here, and here.

Another detox element I have added to my lifestyle is some detox supplements. As part of my bioidentical hormone therapy, I have been taking supplements containing DIM, 3-indole-carbinol, and milk thistle (I use EstroSense). All these support liver detox, especially hormone metabolism. The pills tend to be slightly too large for me to swallow comfortably, so I have been breaking the capsules open and dumping it in with my daily protein shake.

The last step I have added is daily skin brushing and weekly exfoliation. Skin brushing using a dry brush helps stimulate the skin and increase blood flow. It is also great if you have skin problems, as it is a light exfoliation that you can do on a daily basis. I brush in the evening before using my creams. I also use a salux (available on Amazon) once a week for a slightly more intense exfoliation. This is especially important for my chest, back, and upper arms/shoulders where I still have a lot of active acne. I love being able to do this, because it is a really easy way to add some detox support specifically to the skin on a daily basis.

One more thing that’s really important: Collagen Protein Powder
This is probably the basis of my great skin now. Collagen is a building block for skin (and joints, hair, and nails, but let’s focus on the skin). The body loses its ability after age 30 to product its own collagen, therefore supplementing collagen is very important if you have skin troubles. The way you supplement it is critical, though. The body is best able to absorb collagen when it is in a liquid form. The good news is, this is really easy to find. I use Bulletproof Collagen Protein Powder daily. Powder collagen is a little more expensive than tablets, but it is much more effective and easier to take. It dissolves readily into any liquid, and a good quality collagen powder will have no flavor. It will take a minimum of 4 weeks to see results, though for people over 30, it may take up to 8 weeks, so be patient and consistent with taking it.

The jury is still out on this one, but I will mention it anyway: Injuv Hyaluronic Acid
One of my previously mentioned creams, the retinol cream, contains hyaluronic acid. Hyaluronic acid is essential for cells to maintain intracellular water levels, which means this is directly connected to moisture levels for skin cells. Injuv variety hyaluronic acid (available at a reasonable price through Swanson Vitamins–especially when they have it on sale) is an oral supplement that has undergone an enzymatic process that makes it absorb more easily. I recently started taking this, as some say it is even more important for skin health than collagen! The two together should make a killer combo, but as I have not been taking it long enough to say one way or the other, the jury is still out. I will report back once I have gone through the first 4 weeks. There are other benefits to taking hyaluronic acid, though: detox. Hyaluronic acid is needed by cells to help remove metabolic debris and dead cells out of the system. This in addition to its moisture benefits makes hyaluronic acid a great one-two for both skin support and cellular detox.

The Takeaway

  • Sulfate-Free! This is so important. If you do nothing else, switch to sulfate-free cleansers, even if it’s only for your facial cleanser, body wash, and shampoo. This will help your skin better maintain its moisture balance and will help make your lotions and hair conditioner effective.
  • Detox For overall health, detoxing is essential, especially today when we are surrounded by all kinds of pollution, chemicals, and stress. There are lots of different detox targets from overall detox to liver detox to cellular detox. Any kind of detoxing you can add to your daily routine will help. I don’t recommend doing harsh liver detoxes that last for only a few days or weeks. I believe more in including detox as a part of lifestyle, as I think removing toxins as they enter the body is more effective than letting toxins hang out in the body for a while before removing them.Sauna is a great overall detox method and is fairly easily accessible through a gym. Sauna has other great health benefits as well, such as increasing human growth hormone, which is essential in repair functions of the body. Sauna is also said to help in healing all kinds of skin conditions. For the best results, use only 2 or 3 times a week for 30 minutes. If you don’t have access to a gym with a sauna, but still want to use a sauna, you can find sauna kits for your home online (and the prices are surprisingly reasonable).

    Adding detox support supplements to your diet is the easiest daily detox step you can add to your regime. If you’re targeting hormone detox, milk thistle, indole-3-carbinol, and/or DIM are great. To target the skin more specifically, using hyaluronic acid helps with cellular detox and is essential for maintaining moisture.

    Skin brushing, while a little more effort, is an easy way to add daily exfoliation to your skincare routine. Using a salux once a week can help maintain smooth skin in stubborn areas where you’re still waiting for seborrheic dermatitis to resolve. These both can help manage acne as well.

  • Collagen For the most effective collagen supplementation, use powdered collagen. It’s really easy to mix with beverages you’re already drinking like coffee, tea, or even just water. Collagen is the building block for joints and skin. After age 30, the body begins to lose its ability to produce its own collagen, so supplementing even before 30 can only help your skin.
  • Be Gentle Avoid harsh products. They will only aggravate your skin, and your skin will in turn aggravate you for it. As much as you’re able, it is best to use natural products. South Korean skincare products are well known for their very gentle ingredients, and most people who have a history of very sensitive skin do great with these products! The price for these products is also quite reasonable, especially in comparison to some of the products you will find at places like Sephora.
  • Most Importantly, BE PATIENT, BE CONSISTENT The body needs time to make adjustments. Taking collagen supplements is important, and you will probably start out very enthusiastically, but you won’t start seeing a difference in your skin for 4-8 weeks as the skin is the body’s last priority (it will use the collagen as needed in other areas first). Hyaluronic acid supplementation will also take a few weeks to see results with. It may also take longer to see results with sauna and other detox methods, as the body will have a lot of detoxing to do initially and with time will have less to eliminate. In the case of exfoliation methods (microdermabrasion, skin brushing, and salux use) and switching cleansers, you will see a difference right away.

I hope this article has been helpful and informative! Please feel free to leave comments if you have any questions and best of luck on your journey to amazing skin!

Finally Options for Girls Who Wear Bras Smaller than a 32!

It took me years to realize a 32 band was still too big. When I did realize it, though, I quickly found that options didn’t exist for petite girls. Luckily, over the past three years, I’ve found lots more options emerging for girls who wear a 28 or 30 band size. It gets better! They’re no longer available in only A or B cups either, and there are adorable varieties out there, too. There are lots of 28A-E+ options now, and I want to share them with you.

European Brands

It’s a little surprising to me that Europe has better selections in terms of bras. Even the UK has a lot more brands that carry 28’s in a variety of cup sizes. Think Freya (longline bras), Curvy Kate, Panache, Fauve (also has some longline bras). Doing a Google search will bring up mostly UK websites that sell these brands, but most of them will ship them to the US. Most UK shops also have very reasonable shipping rates: $5.00-7.50 for shipment if orders are under a certain amount–you pay this much for shipping within the US! Here are a few shops you can start with:
Fig Leaves
Uplifted Lingerie
Boux Avenue
Bravissimo

Asian Options

I say Asian options, because China has a tendency to unbrand a lot of clothing they sell. I’ve bought so many bras from Chinese merchants online, and 90% of them have no brand name on the tag. That doesn’t mean they aren’t good bras, and they’re actually some of the best bras I’ve bought. The quality is usually quite good, especially for the price. You can’t beat the cost for a bra and panty set. Be forewarned, though, a lot of them are padded, some very heavily and most with additional removable padding. My favorite place lately is AliExpress. You can find a wider variety of bra styles and sizes on AliExpress than eBay. You get the same buyer protection with AliExpress, too, and they even require you to send an “item received” notification, so they know when you get your stuff! It’s great! Search for your European size when using AliExpress. Cup sizes are usually pretty close to American cup sizes. I don’t recommend using the size filters on the side, though. They don’t work very well and won’t show you all of the bras that come in the size you’re searching for, which is usually part of the keyword search in the title of the item.

Sadly, while Japanese stores carry a greater variety of sizes and adorable styles, most Japanese shops and brands won’t ship outside of Japan. So a great site I recently stumbled across is Shiro Hato. This is a Japanese store in Kyoto, Japan, that sells Japanese lingerie and ships to the US (so far the only one that I know of). They have adorable items in a huge variety of sizes, even more size variety than AliExpress. That being said, the Japanese size chart is quite different from the US. I’ve only just placed my first order with them to see how their sizes match up, but I’ve read several other people who mentioned that the sizing is pretty dramatically different … Shiro Hato has a size chart that you can follow, which is what I did, but I’ll share my experience once I’ve completed the transaction. Shiro Hato also has adorable lingerie. If you’re looking at bras, though, make sure you also look under the junior’s section. There are some cute bras and panties sold separately there.

Options if you have a smaller cup size (A, B, and maybe C): YesStyle is a great place to shop for bras if your cup size is less than a D. They have a huge variety of styles. If you wear a D, you might occasional find something in your size, but I haven’t really seen anything bigger than a D.

I’ll post an update of the bras I receive from Shiro Hato once they’ve arrived and feel free to share any other websites that should be added to this list!

Miracle Makeup Products For Oily Skin and Seborrheic Dermatitis

There are a couple of makeup products that have revolutionized my makeup bag. One is a primer. Now, I’ve tried many different primers (Make Up For Ever, Benefit, other expensive brands), but the result is always the same: it doesn’t adhere to my skin and my makeup slides off my face with the slightest touch. It’s almost like my skin rejects the primer, and my skin actually ends up oilier with the primers I’ve tried. I had given up on primers until I recently saw some makeup videos using Korean cosmetic products (not the kind sold at Sephora, but the kind that you can only order online and get directly from Asia.

It seems like Asian cosmetic companies do something different from Western cosmetic companies (which seem to just do variations of the same thing). So, I want to introduce a couple of products that are absolutely amazing if you have oily skin or seborrheic dermatitis, starting with a primer.

・゚:*Etude House: Face Blur*:・゚
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I tried Etude House’s Face Blur primer out of curiosity without much expectation. It was so worth the wait. I ordered it from YesStyle (~$18 for 1.23oz, but usually on sale), but you can order it from Korean shops through Amazon, too (~$13 for 1.23oz, but longer wait time).
This product is great for smoothing the skin, which is important for applying foundation to the uneven textured skin that is the signature of seborrheic dermatitis. I rub a very small amount in well before applying my foundation, but my foundation doesn’t just slide off my face the way it does with other primers. It also gives my makeup better staying power, and my skin doesn’t freak out and get overly oily like it does with other primers. It smells really nice, too. 🙂
There are a couple of things I want to mention about this product, though. It isn’t very good as an eye primer. It gets into creases and creates creases both under the eyes and over the eyes. I apply a lot of concealer under my eyes (mixture of dark eye circles and puffiness from my eyelids swelling), and I was hoping it would keep my concealer in place better. It doesn’t work as great under the eyes, but if you’re careful with the application, you can make it work.
Overall, this is an amazing primer for a great price. If other primers haven’t worked for you, or if you have oily skin or seborrheic dermatitis, you should definitely try this one.

・゚:*Innisfree: No-Sebum Mineral Powder*:・゚51eb4j7e0ll-_sx522_

Instead of making my makeup super heavy by using a powder foundation to help keep my T-zone under control, I decided to try this product. I heard about this product through makeup tutorials that used mostly Asian cosmetic products and was intrigued by the ingredient list (Jeju mineral powder, corn starch, mint). Most oil-control powders I’ve tried have had the reverse effect, or they shrivel my skin and make the texture look awful. Just a small amount of this keeps my skin oil-free for most of the day. I do need a touch up in the evening, but it does a very good job. It also has a very nice and delicate scent to it. It’s available as a loose powder or a compact. I bought this on YesStyle for ~$15 for 5g (usually on sale for less), or you can buy it on Amazon for ~$7 from a Korean shop. I noticed you can also order two of the 5g loose powders through Amazon Prime for ~$17.

I hope these products work as well for you as they have for me!