skincare essentials

Beauty Review: Holika Holika Pig Nose Clear Black Head Peeling Massage Gel

Beauty Review: Holika Holika Pig Nose Clear Black Head Peeling Massage Gel | Writing Between Pauses

A few weeks ago, I impulse bought a tube of this, Pig-Nose Clear Black Head Peeling Massage Gel, from Marshall's for $3. At first, I thought it was a pore strip kind of thing--like those black latex peel off masks. It was, in fact, not that at all. No, no, this mask... this mask is different and special. 

As I mentioned in my blog post on skin congestion, I added this mask weekly to help deal with my rough, dehydrated skin (followed up by super hydrating, of course). 

But the question, of course, is: what does this mask do? Does it work

Oh, does it work. 

Here's what it promises: 

Pig Nose Clear Blackhead Peeling Massage Gel is a mineral oil free mild pore cleanser that exfoliates and dead skin cells and loosens trapped impurities, making it easy to extract and remove blackheads and whiteheads without damaging skin in the process.

When I bought this, I thought it removed blackheads or sebaceous filaments (they're not the same thing, although they're occasionally confused); it actually doesn't. It does, however, help exfoliate my skin better than any other product I've ever used. 

Here's how I use it: 

  1. After I wash my face, I apply a thin layer over my forehead, nose, cheeks, chin, and jaw. It feels close to what I would call gelatin, which is why I thought it would peel off at first. However, it doesn't dry down. 
  2. Wait 5 minutes. In that time, my face usually starts to tingle a bit. It isn't painful, but it definitely feels like something is happening. 
  3. After 5 minutes, if I look in the mirror, I will see patches of dead skin lifted off from my face. Yep, you read that right: patches of dead, dry skin. I start massaging my nose, cheeks, forehead, and chin, and bits of dry skin pick up on my fingers. 
  4. After a few minutes of massaging, I take one of my charcoal face sponges and use it to exfoliate the rest of the dead skin off and leftovers of the mask. 
  5. Afterwards, my face feels softer than it has in years

Yes, you read all that right. This mask removes all the dead skin from the top layer of your face; it exfoliates so magnificently that I've dropped all other methods of exfoliating from my routine. This is all I need! I have to be careful not to overdo it, because the results are so fun, it's easy to want to use it all the time. 

I love this mask so much that I've already become paranoid about what will happen when I run out of it. It's a Korean beauty product and finding it legitimately online has been a challenge; Amazon seems hit-or-miss in terms of being the real deal. I did find a dupe at Marshall's that I will be reviewing soon. However, if you need a good exfoliant, this is your holy grail. I promise. It's that good. 

4 Skincare Mistakes You're Probably Making

4 Skincare Mistakes You're Probably Making | Writing Between Pauses

When it comes to skincare mistakes, I've made just about all of them. I mean that seriously. As I wrote in my post about my acne journey (and trust me, it's a Lord of the Rings style journey!), I've tried just about everything when it comes to skincare. 

To preface, I am by no means an expert. If you're having serious issues with your skin, seeing a dermatologist or professional of your choice is paramount to finding the right treatment. However, for the average every day person, there are some little things we've all been taught (by teen magazines, primarily) help our skin. They are wrong and they can be doing more damage than you think. Here they are, the 4 skincare mistakes that almost everyone makes once and a while. 

(Psst, don't forget to read my post on winter skincare essentials!) 

1. Exfoliating too harshly, too much, or too often

When I was in college, I used this face wash from Clean & Clear that had little microbeads in it. (I've since learned that microbeads are one of the worst things to happen to our environment. Stop using microbeads!) I loved using it on my skin every night; I would scrub and scrub and scrub until my skin felt so soft and smooth. 

Friends, this is not something you should do! 

Recently, my friend asked me why she was having peeling skin on her nose. I asked about her routine. She said she used St. Ives Apricot Scrub every night, then used a face brush in the morning. I begged her (actually begged) to stop exfoliating. She had thought all the exfoliating would get the flaking skin off. I hated to be the bearer of bad news, but exfoliating damaged skin is just going to damage it more! 

You should exfoliate one or two times a week, maximum. As well, scrubs like St. Ives Apricot Scrub are much too harsh for even once-a-week exfoliation. Using a soft face brush or an exfoliant with natural, rounded beads (that dissolve, unlike microbeads) will make your skin healthier and stronger. 

2. Not Cleaning Your Make Up Brushes

When was the last time you cleaned your make up brushes? If you can't remember, it's been too long. For the health of your skin, you need to be washing your brushes at least once a week. And I mean, every single brush, including your beauty blender. Brushes can also harbor bacteria and mold, so if you have acne (like I do), cleaning is especially paramount. Spreading bacteria around your face is a definite no in terms of skin health! 

3. Using Pore Strips 

I used to love doing a pore strip. A few years ago, I learned that the dots on my nose were not blackheads like I thought, but sebaceous filaments. Sebaceous filaments are a natural part of human skin; they look dark and open, depending on your pore skin, and when squeezed, a small, plug of oil comes out. This can make you think that the oil isn't supposed to be there, but that's not true. It's just how our skin is and some people (like me) aren't genetically blessed with small pores, so ours look huge. You can shrink the size of your pores, but if you have flat, pinpricks across your nose that you think are blackheads, I have to tell you: that's just your skin, baby. 

Pore strips often remove the oil plugs out of sebaceous filaments. Marketing on these products has made us think these are blackheads, but they aren't (I promise!). Pore strips can damage your skin, make you break out (because removing that oil plug allows bacteria into your pore), and can break capillaries in your nose (I've done it). 

4. Using Inappropriate Acne Treatments (like Toothpaste)

When I was in college, a friend in my hallway knocked on my door and asked if I had any Windex. I said, yes, but what do you need it for? 

"I have a zit," she replied, nonchalant. "And Windex kills zits." 

Teen magazines have been spreading inaccurate information about how to treat zits for years. I remember smearing straight rubbing alcohol over my face once because a magazine said it helped acne (the chemical burn really hurt). I've also covered zits in toothpaste and gotten chemical burns. 

The logic behind using things like Windex or toothpaste on acne kind of makes sense, but realistically, these products are not designed to use on the skin and you risk giving yourself a serious chemical burn that can include serious scarring and infection. Do not, I repeat, do not put anything not designed for the skin on your skin. 

This includes "homemade masks" like honey and cinnamon (and any homemade mask you see on the internet that isn't backed up by science). I burned myself with a cinnamon mask once and ever since, I've been terrified to use it! 

My Skincare Essentials for the Fall-Winter Transition

My Skincare Essentials for the Fall-Winter Transition | Writing Between Pauses

Fall is here! That means the weather has changed and if you are like me, your skin is freaking out a little bit. I get very dry during seasonal changes; once the weather sort of steadies into the “usual,” my skin will calm down. But right now, I’m dealing with dry patches, redness, and allergy flare ups. Nice!

That means I need to really up my skincare (and my water intake, boo). I wanted to share my tried-and-true favorite products right now. I’ll be writing a more detailed post about my skincare and acne, but for now, here’s what I’m using to keep my skin snatched. 

1. Cliganic 100% Pure & Natural Jojoba Oil 

At the end of the day, my routine starts with jojoba oil. I put about 10 drops into the palm of my hand and rub all over my face to take off my make up; it takes off water proof mascara and eyeshadow like a dream! You don’t even have to rub hard. I also add 3-4 drops to my moisturizer during the day and at night. 

2. Soap & Glory Peaches & Clean 4-in-1 Deep Cleansing Milk 

Once I put on my jojoba oil to remove my make up, I follow with this cleanser. On its own, I find this cleanser deeply underwhelming; I found that on its own, it doesn’t take off make up very well. However, when used while double cleansing, it’s the perfect way to get rid of make up residue. And it’s gentle enough that it doesn’t make any allergy flares, rosacea, acne, or dry patches worse, which is definitely a win. 

3. Context Vitamin C All Day Eye Cream

I love this eye cream. I love it! During the fall, I get super dry under my eyes. Super dry! It’s strange because I’m so oily otherwise. I use this immediately after I rinse and dry my face, then let it dry. I use it under my eye and on my eyelid (I’m not sure if that’s ok, but I do it and I’m still alive). I have noticed that it significantly lightened my melasma after only two weeks or so, which is awesome. It has also really helped my dry patches under my eyes; if I apply it before my make up, I don’t get that crust foundation look. Nice. (As a note, I tried using this on my other melasma spot (above my lip) and it made me break out really bad around my mouth. So clearly, it’s only formulated for eye skin. Wild!) 

4. Dolled Up Collagen Night Cream

This collagen cream is so moisturizing! I do add a few drops of jojoba to it every night; I simply scoop a little into my palm, add jojoba, mix a little bit, then work into my face, neck, and chest. (Always remember your neck!) I got it for $5 at TJ Maxx; it’s a brand that they almost always have. It is absolutely lovely, very mild, and it has really helped my skin stay moisturized. 

5. Shea Moisture African Water Mint & Ginger Shea Butter Vegan Lip Balm 

My dry skin often extends to my lips. I keep two tubes of this in my house: one in my kitchen window to apply throughout my day and one at my desk to apply when I’m working in the evening. I love the light smell; I love the formula; I love that it is vegan and cruelty free. 

Beauty Tips: Summer Skincare Essentials

summer skincare essentials

Ever since I started listening to Natch Beaut (which I highly, highly recommend as a podcast!), I have gotten very into skincare. 

I used to be really... lazy about my skincare. But the more I listen to the experiences of others, the more I realize I need to get on top of a good skincare routine. I wanted to share a few of my essentials for summer skin. 

1. Ole Henriksen Truth Serum 

My skin texture pre-Ole Henriksen Truth Serum was... not great. I have really scarred skin thanks to years of cystic acne, plus I have rosacea and some melasma from my pregnancy. Overall, it's not really realistic for me to go bare-faced most days--or even use a lighter coverage foundation. However, Truth Serum really changed my world. My skin texture after 3 weeks of use is totally changed; my pores are smaller, my rosacea is really improved, and my dark spots have faded. I've gotten to the point where I dab on just a little concealer on weekends and go. This is huge. 

2. Source Vital Customized Facial Cocktail

I love Source Vital. I learned about them from Natch Beaut and immediately ordered my own custom cocktail. Here's what is in my cocktail: a base of neroli oil; infusions for acne & blemishes and oil control; and an extra shot of prickly pear oil (for dark spots and pore size). It is so soothing. I use it at night after my Ole Henriksen Transformation gel. I've only been using it about a week, but it has made my skin so moisturized and glowy. If you have drier skin, it's definitely a great way to go. 

3. Coola Suncare Classic Face SPF 30 

Listen, as I wrote on Monday, you need to wear a SPF moisturizer every single day. I recently started using this one from Coola because it's an unscented, cruelty free, available on Amazon option. I wear it mixed with my Transformation Cream moisturizer underneath my make up every single day. 

4. Supergoop! Defense Refresh Setting Mist

"But Michelle," you say, "how can I reapply sunscreen on my face over my make up?" Because, remember, you have to reapply sunscreen ever 60-90 minutes. 

Well, stress no more! Supergoop! has a setting mist with SPF 50; so when you're out at the lake, on the go, at work outside, or whatever, just mist some extra on your face, neck, and shoulders to get a double dose of sunscreen. It's also super refreshing. Supergoop! is a little expensive at $28 a bottle, but for something to keep in your bag for out-and-about retouches, it's pretty affordable. There is also a travel size if you just want to test it out.