A Nightly Winter Skincare Routine (That Has Saved My Face)

I used to find my face so inconvenient. It scars easily, it’s too dark to some, I get pimples in crazy places, and hair removal makes it explode into an atlas of bumps. There was nothing great to me about my own personal flesh suit, so for years I just avoided it all together. You might be wondering, How can you ignore your face? Well, for me that meant never taking the time to nurture it. Beyond slathering on lotion I mostly worked around acknowledging how my body was doing, especially on the surface.

In 2017 I decided to recommit earnestly to my own mental health, self-care, and wellness through therapy first, but then it began to bleed into other aspects of my life. Now, I’m in a place where I don’t see my face and skin as an inconvenience, but a monument to who I come from. It’s all mine and mine alone, which makes it more precious than gold. I began to experiment with all manner of skincare essentials from oil cleansing (good in moderation for me) to a knock-off Clarisonic exfoliator (too harsh on my skin). Along the way I’ve picked up some really good habits and products that have helped me to see the fun in loving my face.

facial massage GIF
Refinery29

Today I want to share what products I’m using this winter to aid in keeping me looking fresh. I live in California where it isn’t nearly as cold as other parts of the country, but I’m still battling the dryness that accompanies a drop in temperature. As someone with naturally dry and sensitive skin, these products are helping to keep me from fully transforming into a mummy. I currently do this routine at night only, and so far it has helped to keep me hydrated a full 24 hours. The best part? Each product is under $50, and some under $20.

The details are below!

 

Target

First up is the bliss  in the honey mask. After a good cleansing with my generic face wash I will apply a quarter-sized amount of this yummy smelling goo all over my face and onto my neck. I let it sit for about 20 minutes, then wash it off with warm water.  This mask is hypoallergenic (great for my sensitive skin parts), phthalate free, paraben free and cruelty free, so I feel much better about myself in addition to getting skin like butter.

Amazon

I don’t think I’m ever going to stop singing the praises of rose water. I’ve written about my obsession before {here} when it comes to using it on my hair, but I’ve since learned that rose water also works great as a toner! After I’ve rinsed off the majority of the honey mask, I spray my face and neck with rose water, let it sit for a few minutes then jump to the next step. It makes me feel like I’ve just rolled in a field of (thornless) flowers.

 

Sephora

The Belif Moisturizing Eye Bomb  was part of a splurge I gave myself at Christmas, and I am so glad I did it. I had been in the market for a good eye cream for quite some time, because I am not exactly gentle with my peepers. I rub them, strain them, and have all around neglected the skin under my eyes for too long. I’m predisposed to saggy and dark eyes, yet I wanted to help them look their absolute best. This product has helped me tremendously. After the rose water has settled I will use my pinky finger to apply a small dab of the product under each eye. Then, I gently massage it in, mindful not to get it into my eye, which I did once and instantly regretted! All in all, I love this little bomb of power.

Sephora

Last, but not least, in my nightly routine is the Belif The True Cream Moisturizing Bomb. This product is the truth and the way for my prolonged facial hydration. At first, I was slathering it all over, but now I’ve learned that a little goes a long way. You truly don’t need much to reap the benefits of this moisturizer. After I’ve applied the eye cream and let it sit for a minute or two I will then apply a quarter-sized dollop of moisturizer to my face and neck. I again let it sit for a few minutes before I head to bed.

 

There’s one other secret weapon I only use after a particularly drying day – like after a hike or a flight:

Sephora

The Aqua Bomb Sleeping Mask from Belif is a great alternative when you’ve put your face through the ringer. I use it in lieu of the moisturizer after a particularly rough day. All I do is skip the moisturizer, apply a very thin layer to my face and neck, go to bed, then wash it away in the morning. I have to admit I was worried about my sheets, but it didn’t create any lasting damage. If you keep the layer light the effect will be the same as applying the moisturizer

 

facial harvey beaks GIF by Nickelodeon
Giphy

 

That’s it for today, kids! Enjoy your week and moisturize!

 

This post is not sponsored. All opinions are my own. 

My Super Simple Tips for Saving Dry Hair

Having dreadlocks has been, without a doubt, a wonderful experience. I can wake up and go, I don’t have to do much maintenance beyond a monthly re-twist and weekly washing, and I stand out in a crowd rather than blending in. Most importantly, I feel like me with my hair this way. Yet, for all of the ease, I’m learning that I can’t just leave my hair totally to it’s own devices without suffering some consequences. I have naturally dry hair and skin, so without some TLC my strands are left brittle and fragile. You might be thinking that with dreadlocks that doesn’t matter, but if my hair is weak the locs become weak and can break.  Today I want to share the habits I’ve picked up to keep my locs and scalp strong. The best part? These tips can work for any kind of hair – especially if you struggle with dry hair.

Don’t wash every day

Tea Tree Oil Shampoo Compare to Paul Mitchell Tea Tree Special Shampoo 33.8 oz.
Sally Beauty

Shampoos are naturally drying, but if you keep your washing to a minimum you’ll reap the benefits without destroying your hair.  I really like to use this generic version of the Paul Mitchell tea tree shampoo, because tea tree oil is great for soothing the skin as well as aiding in the fight against dandruff. With this shampoo my scalp and locs stay fresh after one wash per week.

Keep it gunk-free

Bragg® Organic Apple Cider Vinegar - 32 fl oz - image 1 of 1
Target

If I have gone too long without a wash, or find that I’ve used too much shampoo and my scalp looks gross, I’ll turn to apple cider vinegar (ACV) for an extra kick. Apple cider vinegar is a real cure-all for the hair: it balances pH levels, fights dandruff, and pulls buildup clear from your strands. I mix 1/2 cup ACV to 2 cups water and apply it directly to my scalp. I massage it through, then rinse it out. It does a great job of clearing the excess away and leaves my hair looking shiny and strong.

Moisturize those strands

Image result for rose water
Amazon

I may have cut out the over-washing, but I still have to make sure my hair is getting proper hydration without being dunked in a bucket. My alternative? Rose water! It’s pretty hot right now, and for good reason – rose water is soothing, balancing and great for adding shine. I’ve even taken to spritzing my face with it first thing in the morning to tone. It’s currently my favorite body product.

Oil is your friend!

Image result for jojoba oil
Amazon

This one is a big one, so don’t skip it! When you suffer from dry scalp it’s really important to use the right kinds of moisture sealants. You don’t want to cake your head with things that are going to block out moisture and dehydrate your precious skin. I like to use jojoba oil, because it mimics the oil our scalp naturally produces, called sebum. After I spritz my scalp and strands with rose water, I will seal in the moisture with the jojoba oil. I apply a few drops all over my finger tips and massage it along my head and hair. It’s really made a difference in my overall hair health.

Leave it alone and watch it sprout

Admittedly, this is the hardest one for me to abide by. I have terminal hand-in – hair syndrome. I’m always playing with my hair, pulling it up, and twisting it about. Even with my locs it’s so important to just let it be to see results. Instead of retwisting my roots religiously, I now leave it be until it’s been about six weeks. Then, I will do a gentle retwist on my roots with just water and jojoba oil. Thankfully, my hair has thickened out because of this. Constant hairstyling, heat, or tight ponytails and buns will eventually lead to breakage or traction alopecia. So, if you want to watch your hair soar, you’ve got to sit back and trust the process.

What are you using to take care of your locs? Let me know in the comments!

girl hair flip GIF by Shalita Grant
Giphy

 

Redefining Beauty In Order To Heal

Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.

– Confucius

I’m drawn to pretty things like a shallow moth to a flame. Sunsets, shoes, dresses, Chris Pine –  we’ve all got our weaknesses, and things that sparkle are definitely mine. I often get lost in thought when I come across something that pleases my eye, and forget where I am or what I was supposed to be doing. I’ve offended plenty of people by zoning out over a pair of impressive earrings. My obsession is equal parts nature and nurture, as my parents regularly showered me with dolls in shiny dresses with matching houses and toy cars. In that regard, I am virtually blameless for my shallow nature, right?

I used to have a very narrow mindset about beauty. It was so narrow that I didn’t even fit into it. For things to be beautiful they had to be perfect, stainless, balanced and bright, just like the dolls I loved so much.  A thing had to be wholly good to be worthy of such an esteemed acknowledgement.  I aspired to be like the things I considered perfect, and I was disappointed time and again when I inevitable fell short. Beauty became something intangible for a young woman like me, so I settled for

The thing is, now that I’ve grown emotionally, what I consider beautiful has shifted. When I started down the path towards deliberate, dedicated healing I was finally able to shift ever so slightly toward a new definition of beauty that  made room for more.The shift wasn’t easy by any means. It required a lot of analysis of how culture shapes beauty ideals, confronting my own self-loathing, and TONS of therapy. Most importantly, it required that I take the time to rediscover the great things about myself. It’s been proven to me time and time again that self-love bleeds out into the world if we make it a priority.

These days I’m still drawn to all that glitters, but it doesn’t just have to be gold. As I grow to love myself, I’m learning how beautiful imperfections can be be. Now I know we don’t have to be delicate to be beautiful. We don’t have to be flawless, or look a certain way, or wear certain things. To me, the most beautiful thing in the world is a person embracing their freedom to be.

What makes you feel beautiful these days?

Chippy the Dog GIF

 

 

Self-Care Mood: Olivia Care French Rose Oil

The older I get, the more I want to smell like a retiree lounging on a deck drinking coffee. The kind of ladies who read romance novels, watch Wheel of Fortune and make pork chops for lunch. Basically, I’m slowly transforming myself into my grandmothers and their ilk. That was the most glamorous lifestyle to me as a young girl, one full of good stories and even better smells. They all seemed to float through a hazy mixture of roses, baby powder, and cigarettes, which to my young nose meant culture.

These days I’m avidly against cigarettes and not a huge fan of traipsing around in a cloud of baby powder like I did when I was a kid, but their love of roses has made a permanent mark on my life. I vividly remember sampling perfumes in my grandmother’s room, moving from beautiful bottle to bottle dousing my skin in the fragrant waters. I so loved the rose-scented options that now the only perfumes I like carry similar floral notes. I’ve written before about the power of scent and I believe aromatherapy is one of the best forms of self-care.

valentines day perfume GIF by MSLK Design
Giphy

Enter today’s product: French Rose body oil from Olivia Care.

Olivia Care

I bought this for myself last Christmas when I should have been looking solely for gifts to my family (oops). After sneaking a peak at the little roses and stealing a sniff I knew I had to add it to my self-care arsenal. I do my best to avoid buying things to make myself feel better, instead opting for activities that feel healing, but a product here or there feels right to me, too. This is especially true for this oil. I add it to a bath after a long day to relax, apply it over my shea butter on my body for a perfumed effect, and have recently taken to rubbing just a tiny dollop of it onto my locs for a little perfume. The scent isn’t so heavy that it’s overpowering, yet it sticks to my skin and hair without fading immediately.

The best part about this oil is that it has lasted me almost a year. Just a few drops here or there have made a world of difference in my ability to disconnect from stress and breathe. I highly recommend it or any scented oil if you are looking for new ways to give your mind a rest without breaking your bank account.

What have you been using to relax these days? Let me know in the comments!

ZIIP Beauty Nano Device: Is It For You?

by Jesse Kadjo

I am a certified skincare junkie. I have suffered from chronic acne since I was 13, which immediately sends you on a quest for relief. After trying every acne and skincare product Walgreens had to offer, I graduated to the good stuff. I tried Biologique Recherche’s famed P50 Lotion after reading about it on Into the Gloss. It improved my skin texture by reducing the number of pimples I got. But I still had skin that was extremely oily in the day and dry in the night. I started experimenting with Korean Skincare after going down a YouTube hole of videos from K-Beauty maven, Gothamista. The combination of both a K-Beauty cleanser, essence and serums, along with the P50 has really regulated my skin on a more long-term basis. I still get hormonal acne but much less than before and less acne during the rest of the month.

Image result for P50 racked.com
via Racked

Now at 30, going on 31, my major skin concerns are hyperpigmentation. As with many dark skin women, I have acne scars that take a long time to fade away. I’ve tried creams with hydroquinone to good results, but you can only use it for 3 months in a row before it starts to darken your skin. So that was a bust. I’ve used Vitamin C and still do for all it’s antioxidant properties. It has worked to give my skin better overall clarity but does not fade the scars at a rate that I would like. In comes the ZIIP.

The ZIIP is a nano current device designed by celebrity electrical aesthetician Melanie Simon, that sends waves of electrical currents into your skin to address different skin needs. The device is a small and handheld, looks like a computer mouse and has two positive and negative charged discs on the bottom. It syncs up to an app which offers seven different “electrical cocktail” treatments. It comes with a gel that you put all over your face and allows the currents to be delivered to your skin. My favorite programs are Total Clearing for acne, Pigment Treatment for hyperpigmentation and Instant Gratification for exactly what it says, instantly plumped and brightened skin.

ZIIP
via ZIIP Beauty

At $499, the ZIIP is not cheap. But does it work?

I should start by saying I think it takes 60 to 90 days to see lasting results from any product. That being said, first impressions can be powerful and if you see something at the start, it will likely get better with time. The first night I tried this, I slathered the gel on my face, opened the app and synced the device to the Total Clearing Program. Each program comes with a step-by-step video that is easy to follow along. Initially I felt nothing, but then felt a sting. Melanie Simon says the sting is the electricity killing the bacteria. When there is no bacteria left, you feel nothing. The sting feels satisfying, in the way that extracting a pimple does. I went IN and did a Pigment program and the Instant Gratification. When I was done, my skin was super soft – baby soft – softer than it had been in a while. It was glorious.

After only 7 days, I can say this: I still have the same hyperpigmentation and I just got 2 huge pimples ( period is on it’s way). This was to be expected as it takes 30 days for my skin to turn over and longer for the spots to fade. However, in terms of instant gratification, the texture of my skin has improved, it looks brighter and my makeup goes on smoother and looks better longer.

So do I recommend it? Yes, but with an asterisk. Taking time out of your day to care for yourself is important. If you can do so with a state of the art device that gives you professional results over time, even better. If this is not within your budget, get yourself on a good skincare regimen in line with what you can afford. Skincare is not about getting every new product or treatment.  It’s about using the right products for your skin type with diligent and consistent use. No one serum or device can give you great skin. It takes a good diet, good skincare and above all, sleep to truly get that glow.

 

Jesse Kadjo is an activist and writer living in Oakland. You can follow her healthy life journey on her food blog thechocolatemousse.com or Instagram and Twitter @JesseKadjo