Category Archives: Skin Care

New Year, New Products

Okay.

I took some time off from blogging.

That’s obvious. I know.

And I could make excuses about how I have a new job, or how we’ve been trying to find a house, or how I’ve been traveling so much that my personal food pyramid now has an entire segment devoted to duty free liquor.

UGH LEAVE ME ALONE.

UGH LEAVE ME ALONE.

But you know what I didn’t take time off from?

Spending all my spare time putting shit on my face. Because traveling, and long work hours, and airport booze form a deadly triumvirate that is hellbent on destroying any facial glow, replacing it with cracks and creases and dark circles so pronounced I look like a cartoon raccoon. So I persevere.

I was planning on doing a nice 2013 Skin Resolutions post, including all the healthful, beautifying ingredients I’m obsessed with and the new trends I’m thinking of incorporating into my routine. And there’s certainly some cool stuff going on that we can talk about. But then fucking LIFE came in and FUCKED MY SHIT UP with its REAL TALK and suddenly my resolution became “No more corn chips with a side of Swedish Fish eaten shamefully under your desk for breakfast.”

I’m trying to be an adult, you guys. (But I don’t want to look like one.)

First of all, Christmas was good to me. I got mad relaxed in the Caribbean and I succeeded in protecting my pale while still having a gay old time on the beach, which is SO IMPORTANT GO PUT SUNSCREEN ON RIGHT NOW. But really, the most important thing that happened was the introduction of these little baddies into my routine…

So fancy it deserves a tiara.

So fancy it deserves a tiara.

I had a miiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiinor freak out when I noticed some fine lines creeping into my eye area, and the benevolent Skin Gods (hey, Mom!) answered my prayers with some La Mer goodness. I’m not going to tell you to go buy this (even though it is awesome) because hello, it literally costs a fortune. But I’m in love with it. I’m in love with an inanimate object. I am this chick: http://bit.ly/Tm6jxU

You sexy vegan, you.

You sexy vegan, you.

Also in the stocking this year: Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics’ Lip Tar, which is just so great you guys. So great. It’s all natural and vegan and not tested on animals and affordable and it probably volunteers with the homeless in its spare time, it’s so good. And it LASTS. I bought a nudish pinkish color called “melange” after I caught my boyfriend staring at a Kim Kardashian photo with what can only be described as a deep, animal longing and I realized I maybe should dabble in nude lips paired with a smoky eye (the butt, however, remains resolutely un-cartoonish…but whatever, you do what you can.)

I have often waxed poetic about lip stains and this one deserves a prize spot in the oeuvre. It’s hugely pigmented and lasts for hours and hours and makes you feel good about yourself. Kardashianisms not included.

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More Omegas than a salmon avocado roll.

I rep face oils like I have some sort of contract (TOTALLY OPEN TO THIS IDEA GET AT ME COSMETIC COMPANIES) because the truth is, they changed my face game. I was patchy as fuck and less than luminous until the church of internet converted me into the face oil world. I haven’t looked back and am constantly checking out new ones; this Nude ProGenius oil is fairly new and exciting.

It’s got tons of Omegas and various seed oils (including an abysmally named “Rapeseed.” Typo, Sephora?) and absorbs very, very well. No greasiness, only soft dewiness and a general badass radiance left behind after it’s rubbed in. I use it on my face and neck and it passes the Paltrow Test (is it all natural, expensive-feeling, hyped a ton and glow-producing? Paltrow check!)

How is your 2013 shaping up? Have you already broken your resolutions involving kale? Are you still washing your face with a brillo pad, or have I convinced you to join me on the less abrasive side of things? Have I persuaded you into priming? Tell me things.

Perpetually drunk on duty free, rubbing oil onto my face in the airport bathroom,

M

Black Friday Sales and Freezing Your Ass Off

I can’t help you with your pie hangover– which is a real thing, believe me, I would know. Recovery just takes time, lots of rest and lemon water, plus shaking your fist at the sky and swearing that as God as your witness you will NEVER eat three slices of pumpkin cheesecake again.

But I wanted to drop in a quick note and say that the online beauty world is still under the impression that it’s black Friday and has set up some delightful discounts for you. I would rather cut off my feet and bleed to death than wait up all night for the chance to get trampled at Best Buy on my quest for a cheap television, but I am certainly not above some calm, private online discount shopping.

WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU CRAZY ASSHOLES, IT’S JUST A TELEVISION

That is mental. There is nothing in the world at Best Buy that you need that badly. Was Best Buy giving out deeply discounted health insurance plans? Did Best Buy have a special section of limbs for amputees, or an aisle devoted to $200 college educations? Be ashamed of yourself. You elbowed your fellow man in the ribs for the chance to purchase a Canon Coolpix. HIDE YOUR FACE.

Meanwhile, on the internet:

The Sephora Black Friday Sale is still going strong, with a bunch of $10-and-under mini products that I swear by. Everything from Bliss creams to Benefit mascaras and a bunch of great stuff in between is on suuuuper sale, meaning you can try out some fabulous shit without having to commit to a full-sized expensive version.

(And let me just say: reports of me waiting up till midnight just so I could buy four or five Ole Henriksen $10 sets and a handful of Boscia minis, all the while screaming at my boyfriend TO NOT TALK TO ME RIGHT NOW I AM DOING SOMETHING SUPER IMPORTANT AND IF YOU DISTRACT ME I WILL FUCKING CUT YOUR FACE have been greatly exaggerated by biased parties.)

Ulta is also doing some dope Black Friday discounts over on their website, and while their selection is kind of down to slim pickings, you’d do well if you were in the market for a new straightening iron, hairdryer, hot rollers set or Bed Head product. AND, if you’re ready to take the plunge, Skinstore.com has Clarisonics on sale for 20% off. They’re also discounting some great lines like Perricone MD and La Roche-Posay. GO FORTH AND PURCHASE ONLINE, YOUNG WARRIOR.

 

This is not camping. You are doing camping wrong.

 

Also, I’m up North and HOLY SHIT is it way too cold for comfort. The transition from balmy Floridian weather to ball-shrinking icy breezes and negative humidity has made my skin roughly the texture of tissue paper. It’s flaking off so bad that I am one step away from shedding my entire surface epidermis like a weird, fat snake.

To deal with dry and painfully chapped or scaly skin, I’ve got some favorites. I have already talked about my love for this bad boy, which I apply everywhere including my face in winter, but I also want to highlight the following:

 

Packed with every emollient you could ever want PLUS antioxidants, this cream does not fuck around. It is simultaneously thick and lightweight, in that it has the consistency of pudding but rubs in wonderfully without any residual greasiness. It comes in a giant tub that I like to keep beside my bed when I travel to cold places, using handfuls at a time and complaining that I can’t afford mink fur sheets. I am a BABY about the cold. I demand hot baths be drawn for me. I slink around and lay on top of the heating vents like a house cat, sucking up all the warmth. I wear a union suit un-ironically. This cream and I, we’ve had some good times.

My quick fix for cracked, painful lips (which doubles as a solid under-eye mask for winter) is alarmingly simple: cut open a Vitamin E capsule and rub the oil directly onto your skin. It will be sticky and gloriously thick. Allow to soak in. Breathe a sigh of relief; snuggle deeper into your flannel onesie. Look up mink fur bedding on Ebay. Repeat if necessary (it shouldn’t be.)

Teeth chattering-ly yours,

M

Q’s and A’s on Skin Type

My girl Laura wrote in to the blog (email me! mlopezkeough@gmail.com) saying she wasn’t sure what skin advice on here actually applied to her because she wasn’t sure what TYPE OF SKIN she actually has, and to that I say: girl, you are lucky. She wondered if her pores were large! THEY AREN’T, I’VE SEEN THEM, but also: if you have large pores, you’re most likely already aware of them because they look different than the usual pores you see. Pore shame: it’s a real thing, guys.

If your skin type is cOmBiNaTiOn, like mine is, there is never a question in your mind as to what advice applies; EVERYTHING applies because your face is like a crazy war zone. I’ve got oily spots, clogged pores, dry patches, all that shit. If you are lucky enough to wonder whether or not you have bad skin, you are either the only person living on your little tropical island of 1 or you are in possession of some ok-grade skin. (If you are on that island, though, wear sunblock.)

Here’s a test I learned from some teen magazine: hold a square (single ply, not some puffed-up fancy Charmin type bullshit) of toilet paper to the various zones of your face (nose, forehead, chin, cheeks…) Examine how much oil is transferred from your skin to the TP from each zone. If you’ve got grease transfers everywhere, heads up: your skin is oily. If some patches (most likely your T zone) transfer a little oil but others are bone dry, welcome to my world! You’ve got combination skin. If you’re staring at the TP going “WHAT IS IT I AM EVEN LOOKING FOR IT JUST LOOKS LIKE THE SAME OLD TOILET PAPER” then chances are your skin is not oily, it might be a little dry or it might be perfectly Ph balanced (in which case: fuck you.)

If your skin flakes, peels, gets itchy, red, or seems anything less than dewy, then you want to add a little moisture into your product rotation. Moist skin is healthy skin, and it ages well. Dry skin has a tendency to crack and fissure, which reduces elasticity over time. Our goal is elastic, moisturized, plump, healthy skin….skin that looks like it was born yesterday.  (A special note: there are some skin conditions that manifest like reeeeeally dry skin, usually around the mouth or nostrils, that are actually due to a fungal or viral problem, not a lack of moisture. When in doubt, see your dermatologist– because if you’ve got a yeast imbalance and it’s making your skin crack and bleed, there’s no fancy face cream from Sephora that’s going to fix you up. You need to see a Dr. and get on a real healing regimen. PREACH.)

If you’re battling an overproduction of sebum (clogged pores, oily patches, acne) then you’re going to want to target reducing that sebum (retinoids, jojoba oil) and if your skin is always perfect and strangers stop you on the street to ask what your secret is then WHAT ARE YOU READING THIS BLOG FOR, GO BE A MODEL.

Answering your questions,

M

 

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Million Dollar Babyface

So here’s the thing about having big pores. If you’re shallow, or you’ve grown up around catty teenage girls, or you read women’s magazines, or you were raised in a place not resembling an apocalypse bunker, you’re aware that LARGE, CLOGGED PORES are  supposedly a plague on your face. A PLAGUE (I’m holding up a skull and yelling in a Shakespearian accent, can you tell? Are you getting that through your computer screen?)

I spent way too many years reading everything I could about how to shrink mine, and fell victim to a lot of bullshit schemes in an effort to “fix” them. I extracted. I paid mean Ukranian women to extract for me. I bought every face wash, toner, astringent, mask, serum, spritz and supposed sebum-blaster that I saw. I burned off the top few layers of my skin using various acids (salicylic, glycolic, fruit, you name it), I scrubbed it until it bled with everything from exfoliators to brushes to pink brillo pads. I did more damage than good, and when I was at my lowest I convinced a haughty dermatologist in Westchester to prescribe me Accutane in an effort to shrink my much-hated blackheads for good. And somewhere between the first blood test and reading the fine print about how if I got pregnant during the treatment, my baby would come out looking like a mud-dwelling catfish, I had a realization:

Some bitches just have bigger pores than others.

And the truth is– the SECRET, dirty, no-good, butt-headed truth– is this: for those of us bestowed upon/cursed with larger-than-microscopic pores, clearing those pores out (let’s be gross: removing the actual blackhead) still leaves you with a visible pore. And that’s almost worse, because then you have what looks like a tiny (but definitely visible with the naked eye) HOLE in your face…which is then impossible to cover without having to cake your face with makeup.

I have succeeded in removing every clogged-up blackhead plug from my face, only to recoil in horror at the fact that my nose now looked as though it had been pricked all over with a deep, angry pin. I was LITERALLY full of holes. (Also red and splotchy and sort of crying.) I looked nuts. I looked sad, and broken, and hole-ridden. I looked like sad Swiss cheese, and I realized that this obsessive, crazy extraction shit? Not worth it.

There is no miracle product that will actually shrink your pores. OHMYGODIKNOW, JUST QUIT NOW, YOUR LIFE ISN’T WORTH LIVING. I have felt this. But still.

What we’re really looking for every time we buy a “Pores-B-Gone!” miracle elixir is, in all honesty, something that will magically graft a whole new sheet of tiny-pored skin over our existing skin. And no matter what certain companies tell you, that does not exist at the moment. When it does, I’m going to be all up in that lab, swabbed with iodine, grinning like a crazyface and singing songs about my future poreless skin graft. Until then?

I do what I can to keep my skin looking healthy– looking dewy, fresh, rosy and bright. Because that is what people actually notice. People without magnifying glasses. If your skin looks even toned and fit, clear and without visible festering sores, you look rad. And yes, you can look rad with big pores the same way you can look rad with crazy Kahlo eyebrows. BEAUTY: it’s fucking tricky like that.

I use gentle fruit acid masks 2x a month or so to keep my t-zone relatively in check, and I use my oldschool Biore pore strips (mostly because I like staring at the disgusting little tree farm that’s revealed when I peel one of those suckers off) and I use a couple other products that, while not a new skin graft, seem to do a great job of making my big pores look…..well, nicer.

No one likes blackheads; if they do, they are a gross cave troll and I don’t have time for that nonsense. This blog is not troll-friendly. So, for the non-cave dwellers, here is some stuff to help you keep those blackheads at bay, keep your pores looking clean (but not empty and gaping and scary) and your face looking fresh to death.

First up, I use a topical retinoid (which I’ll dedicate a whole post to later, because I feel very strongly about these but they are nothing if not controversial for young chicks.)

Second, I use Clarisonic, and I can’t tell you for sure that it’s worth every penny because I do not know you/your bank account intimately, but I can tell you that a) it feels like something an extraordinarily rich and famous woman would have her servant use on her every morning after her milk & Evian bath, and b) my skin is softer & brighter because of it.

Third, I use this:

Actual vacuum not included.

This stuff had such glowing reviews that I bought it and literally did a dance the first time I used it. I danced around my apartment with a crazy blue face, waiting for it to dry, certain that when I rinsed it off I would look like Angelina Jolie.

Imagine my extreme displeasure when that did not, in fact, come to pass.

The truth is that this takes a few weeks for you to see real, changed results– and though a little more on the subtle side than a full Angelina-fication, they are actually pretty great results when they show up. Case in point: I used this before breakfast today, followed by a pore strip. (The vacuum cleaner seems like it helps to get everything in your pores ready to be ripped off your face in a more efficient way than usual….and yes, that’s the medical term, right there. It’s face-rippingly good.) And after I’d thrown on my usual SPF cocktail, a grown ass man not related to me or dating me, and who cares about football and not makeup, stopped dead in his tracks and asked me if I’d used “some kind of skin…cream….mask…thing” because my face looked so goddamn good. I consider that hard evidence.

This is not actually going to vacuum your pores out (I know, I know, I was pissed too) but in terms of fighting that good fight, it’s a pretty good weapon to have on your side.

Next up is the Murad:

I hate the phrase “t-zone” almost as much as I hate my own t-zone.

The above is a great option if your issues are localized– it has all those sexy acids in it that are going to break down dirt and oil, as well as a retinoid if you haven’t the need/desire to spring for one of those as a separate product. All in all a great product, priced pretty competitively, and it smells like something a doctor would apply (read: kind of weird) so you know it’s not fucking around up there on your face.

It’s got aloe and grapeseed and antioxidents and all that good stuff as well, so you’re getting some bang for your buck. I use this in the summer when I need an extra dose of help. I like it, it works well, and it doesn’t hurt my sensitive skin. (To be fair, my skin is probably sensitive because I burnt it and scrubbed it with brillo pads. My b.)

And finally: I’ve found that massaging a layer of Jojoba oil into my face for a full minute while yammering at my boyfriend about Lindsay Lohan’s latest crack-tastrophy is by far the best thing I’ve ever done for my skin or pores, ever. It sounds pretty crunchy (the oil, not the Lohan) but it works, and its worked for a lot of other people, so give it a shot if you’re feeling devil-may-care in the beauty aisle at Whole Foods.

Remember: your pores are still a part of your face, and when it comes to your face you need to be your own crazy restraining-order level fan. You need to be the Clint Eastwood to your face’s Hilary Swank, all up in your corner, shouting at yourself that you’re the baddest bitch out there and that you’ve got this, you’ve got this, you’re the best in the ring, kid.You need to punch those negative face-clawing thoughts out cold, and run around your house naked, holding up your mirror like it’s a Championship belt, and revel in being the best at everything and killing it, always.

So the next time you find yourself standing knee deep in astringent-soaked cotton balls, clawing at your skin screaming WHY WON’T YOU JUST BE NORMAL FOR ONCE, get out of there. Get out of that room filled with wet, smelly cotton balls. Get out of there, and get out of that head space, because you’re not doing your face any favors, and your face? Deserves mad favors. Go buy your face a nice brow pencil, a nice pore treatment, whatever. Whisper that it’s the only face for you. Treat it like it won the face lottery. Because it’s your face; it’s the only face you’re ever going to have, and even with some big-ass pores, it’s still a thing of fucking beauty.

Yours, pores included,

M

Products I Am Casually Dating At The Moment

You know when you’ve just started dating someone and everything is fresh and exciting and full of promise and sparkle? You make plans. You make all kinds of crazy meals for them and almost set your kitchen on fire just to prove you’re The Whole Package. You make weird photo-shopped scrapbooks of your future kids’ weddings. (Just me? No, I’m kidding, and if you do this maybe seek some help from like a counselor or something. Put down the RomCom, pick up an axe and go chop yourself a tree, build yourself a stool and sit and think about your issues.) You see no flaws in them. You see only beauty, grace, a perfect, airbrushed canvas on which to thrust your every hope and desire. You catch yourself staring at weird parts of their body (back of the neck, crease of the earlobe, armpit) thinking GOD YOU’RE PERFECT, I WANT TO LICK YOUR PERFECT EARLOBE CREASE, COME OVER HERE, HOWEVER DID I LIVE WITHOUT YOU BEFORE NOW.

I get that with products a lot. I get handed a sample for a new clavicle bronzer, or an eyelash moisturizer, or a scented hair powder or something equally superfluous– something that I’ll look at and think “Fine, I will try you, but there is no way you are making it into the permanent rotation happening in my too-small vanity cabinet because I am PRESSED FOR SPACE and you are UNNECESSARY and oh, wow, that is really nice packaging, are you scented with Japanese Cherry Blossom? Oh, fuuuuuuuuuckkkk…….

I’m having that right now with these two completely dissimilar products that are kind of useless to me in my real, everyday life, but suddenly the thought of living without them seems ridiculous and rage-inspiring.

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Oh, you wily Japanese chemists! You know the way to my heart.

This stuff is very strange. It’s wonderful and strange and smells straight-up medicinal, so naturally I’m in love with it. (I once asked a sales assistant at Sephora to recommend some products scented like Eucalyptus or Pine, and she kindly suggested I leave, head over to CVS and pick up some Vick’s Vapor Rub. She saw into my soul, that bitch.) I have an odd love of anything that smells like it might be prescribed to those who have weak lungs, or that smells like it’s supposed to heal you after you’ve thrown your back out. My lungs are fine, my back is strong…I don’t know what the whole obsession is about, I just try not to look too closely at it, you know? Just accept it. Move forward. Buy more Vick’s.

The scent in this particular cream is a solid dose of Camphor, which I love, and which fades away almost completely after a few minutes so you can still interact with society without people leaning in and asking you why you smell like a fine bath salt. The texture is like something you’d find in an antibiotic. And it’s very, very thick….almost like a wax.

Have I sold you yet?

I know, it sounds disgusting, but in truth it’s like a much thicker Bag Balm. You’re going to either love it or hate it. I am, clearly, of the former camp.

I put it on my elbows and my cuticles and my super chapped lips (FYI: most lip stains have a lot of alcohol in them, which dries out your lips and makes you look flaky and dehydrated and slightly undead. This, of course, does not deter me. I would put the blood of a roadkill corpse on my lips if you told me it would deliver a lasting stain, for reals. NO LIMITS. But it means my lips need an extra dose of moisture that Chapstick just can’t deliver.)

It’s refreshing and really, really delivers a nice vaseline-like coating if you’re into that sort of thing. It makes your skin as soft as a baby’s, if you’re into creepily comparing your skin to that of newborns. (A dangerous game, I might add.)

There is no reason I need this cream; I have like a zillion vaseline-like creams. In fact, I have different types of actual Vaseline that are scented with various essential oils– they come in little tins that I found in Ireland and smuggled back in the linings of my carry-on sweater because you know the TSA is not going to stop my moisturizing game, no fucking way, sir.

I don’t care. I love it. Lean close, smell my glistening skin: I SMELL LIKE A SPA. The end.

Product number two is this bad boy:

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Look at you, all sleek and multi-purposeful…you think you’re such hot shit, don’t you!

This here is the stupidest thing ever, for me, because I wear and own so many sunblocks that I could pass for one of those kids who are LITERALLY allergic to the sun and have to attend Camp Sundown, which is so sad and insane at the same time it makes my brain hurt. NO SUNSHINE EVER? Jesus. It’s like a Ray Bradbury story or something.

I wear SPF 100 every day. Every day, Yo! I put it on my face, put it on my neck, put it on my boob shelf, and I use body lotion with an SPF built in for the rest of my limbs. (Full disclosure: I live in Florida, which is just a walking advertisement for sunscreen…a place where you can pass a woman in the street and she’s either a young 58 or an old 25, but you can’t tell the difference. Pass the floppy hat.)

So there is NO REASON why I need ANOTHER special sun cream for my eyes! And yet.

And yet.

Oh, this cream. This cream is silky. It’s liquid, but creamy. It smells EXPENSIVE, which I am all about because hello, I am a cheapskate and love passing for a rich person. It doesn’t sting the delicate skin around your eyes, it sinks in and lies matte on your face, it moisturizes incredibly well, and it even brightens your under-eye area like a separate, brightening primer . It has a reasonable broad-spectrum SPF, it softens your skin, it doesn’t bead in the heat….it’s pretty much the best. I mean, honestly, it’s kind of an overachieving NERD of an eye cream, with its big-ass list of fanciful ingredients and benefits, but whatever, nerds need love too.  And I’mma keep loving this cream alllllllllll daaaaaaay looooooong.

Until I find an even better one and I drop its ass flat on the ground, that is.

-M

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