July 16, 2016

skin care update

My skincare routine has changed dramatically since I last posted about it in 2014. This is all thanks to Arabelle Sicardi, the only person whose skin care recommendations I actually trust. I mostly got stuff from this affordable skincare products post, if you'd like to take a look. I also religiously use Beautypedia to make sure that what I'm using on my face is actually good for my face. It rates products on their ingredients and performance. I've noticed that when I use products that are rated highly on Beautypedia my skin looks and feels so much healthier. So here are the products I'm currently using and my thoughts about them.

Morning Routine (cleanser + cleanser + eye patch + moisturizer)

Garnier Skin Micellar Cleansing Water (~$9 from Wal Mart)
I use this all over my face morning and night and I absolutely love it. This removes my makeup fairly easily and leaves my skin feeling clean and nourished. I remember the first time I used this I was so surprised at how soft my skin felt afterwards.

CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser (~$12 from London Drugs)
This cleanser is awesome! It feels really rich when I'm massaging it on my face and it makes my face feel really soft. It's also very well priced for the amount you get aaaand has a really high rating on Beautypedia which means it's really good for your skin. All in all, a very solid cleanser.

PETITEFEE Black Pearl & Gold Hydrogel Eye Patch (60 sheets for $11.61 at amazon.ca)
These are great! I actually notice a quite a dramatic difference after I use these--the skin under my eyes is much more moisturized, less discoloured and less sunken in. I definitely look more awake. I use them around 2 or 3 times a week, mostly depending on when I have the time to use them. I keep the patches on from 30 minutes to an hour and I use a tiny bit of the serum in the container on the rest of my face. I usually try to use these in the morning because my concealer always looks really good after I've used this mask. I've noticed that the effects usually last for around a day.

Paula's Choice Resist Moisturizer with SPF 30
This moisturizer is tinted too darkly for my skin tone in the winter, so I only use this in the summer. The tint doesn't provide any coverage, it just matches the colour of my face to the rest of my body when I've got a bit of a tan. It goes on very smoothly and sits nicely on the skin. My t-zone does still get oily throughout the day but I don't think there's a moisturizer in the world that could fix that. It's a really nice moisturizer but I probably wouldn't buy it again because it only works for me 2-3 months out of the year and it's not easily accessible. I recently bought the CeraVe AM moisturizer for normal to oily skin to try out when my tan fades in the fall because I've been loving their PM moisturizer.

Nighttime Routine (cleanser + cleanser + peeling gel + exfoliant + moisturizer)

Dr. G Brightening Peeling Gel ($26.18 at amazon.ca)
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!THIS STUFF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It's amazing. Thank you Arabelle from the bottom of my heart. I think this is the most expensive part of my skincare regimen (since I used promo codes and coupons for my PC stuff, and I bought it when the dollar wasn't so bad) but it was so, so, so worth it. It's has quite a runny consistency, which I wasn't expecting since it's called a gel. Once you put it on your face and start to smooth it in, it lifts all the dead skin on your face and it collects into little white clumps. You can see all the dead skin on your face which is pretty cool/gross. You can tell that it's working which is a major plus. Also, it is soooooo gentle! There's no beads or anything abrasive in the gel. And afterwards my skin looked so healthy--it was so bright and clear. It also made my face makeup apply really smoothly the following morning. I use this every 4ish days just because it's not necessary to use any more than that. Usually I use it at night but sometimes I'll use it in the morning. I would 100% recommend this to every single human being.

Paula's Choice 1% BHA Lotion Exfoliant
I bought this exfoliator around a year ago and I'm still using it! I'm so impressed with how long it's lasting. I only use this at night even though it's gentle enough to use twice a day, I just don't think it's necessary. The bottle is opaque so I can't tell how much is left but it's probably going to run out pretty soon (which is why I bought another exfoliant, I can't live without one). This was the first exfoliant I ever tried. Instantly, I was impressed. I rarely deal with acne now (knock on wood) and this helps clear up my existing acne and prevents acne from occurring in the first place. I definitely don't have as much acne as I used to a year ago and I think it's mostly due to this product. Around 8-10 months after I started using this product, I noticed that it wasn't quite as effective as it had been at first. I feel like this often happens to me with skincare products. Recently, thanks to a tip from Arabelle, I started waiting around 20-30 minutes from the time I applied my exfoliant to when I apply my nighttime moisturizer. Letting the exfoliant sink in is really important for it to be effective. After doing this I noticed an improvement in my skin's overall health. A chemical exfoliant is a crucial part of my skin care routine and I cannot recommend them enough. I think this product in particular is a really good option for people who are trying chemical exfoliants for the first time because the BHA makes up a very low percentage of the entire product. If you want to know more about chemical exfoliants I would recommend watching Kaya Empire's video about chemical verses physical exfoliation and, of course, checking out Arabelle's skincare tag for mentions of chemical exfoliation.

Cosrx AHA/BHA Clarifying Toner ($18.19 at amazon.ca)
Since my PC chemical exfoliant hasn't run out yet, I've only used this maybe 5 or 6 times. I can't find the exact percentage of AHA/BHA in this product but I think it's 10%. Anyways, it's definitely much higher than 1% so I'm currently using it twice a week only at nighttime. On the nights I don't use this I use my PC exfoliant. The first time I used this my skin looked AMAZING the next day--clear, bright and smooth. I'm really excited to use this more. I usually use this after I use the peeling gel, I find that it absorbs really nicely into my skin this way. The only thing I'm not a giant fan of is that it's liquid which means I have to use a cotton pad to apply it.

CeraVe PM Moisturizing Lotion (~$13 from Superstore)
A very solid nighttime moisturizer, probably my favourite I've ever tried. It's sort of a gel consistency, it definitely doesn't feel like a typical lotion. I really enjoy the texture, it glides nicely onto the skin and doesn't feel heavy at all. When I wake up my face isn't super oily or super dry, it always feels nicely moisturized. 

June 26, 2016

my favourite books

As I write this, I am in my pjs lying in my warm bed on a rainy Saturday afternoon. Strewn on my bed are heaps of pillows, blankets and books and I have a Mr. Big bar and a lukewarm coffee waiting for me on my nightstand. This is an ideal Saturday in my mind, and the perfect time and place to write about the books I've been loving lately. So settle in to your favourite comfy spot and open up your Goodreads cause I have a list of heartwarming/heartbreaking books that I think you need to read.

Room by Emma Donoghue

I feel like most people know how good this book is by now, but it has been my favourite book ever since I read it 5 years ago so I absolutely had to include it on this list. My heart was broken to pieces by this fictional five year old and also stitched back together throughout the course of this book. Although I distinctly remember after I finished I felt subtly different from when I first began, so maybe my heart wasn't stitched back together in the same way. That is the only way I can describe this book.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Another book that will break your heart and then stitch it back together again. I read this after I had taken an Indigenous Perspectives of Health class which brought to light the complexity behind the challenges Junior and his family face. However, this book mostly reminded me that honesty is so important when communicating with kids and adolescents, even though being honest can be so much messier.

How to Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie Standiford

I was looking for young adult books (honestly my favourite genre) that didn't focus on a romantic relationship between the two main characters when I stumbled across this book, and I am so glad I did. This book is just SO GOOD and totally unlike anything I've ever read before. I wish I could hang out with Robot Girl and Ghost Boy.

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

I think this book should be required reading for everyone on Earth, but especially if you spend/will spend any amount of time with kids of any age. This book is definitely happysad but more so happy, it leaves you on an encouraging note. I cannot recommend this book enough.

I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

I'm about halfway through this book right now and it's already one of my favourites, as soon as I read the first chapter I knew I was hooked. It's written from two different perspectives and Noah's perspective in particular is written in such a dynamic and unique way that makes everything about the story seem so alive. Plus it's about twins and when I was younger I used to wish that I was part of a twin, so the inside scoop on being a twin is a bonus.

June 24, 2016

skin care

Sometime in the last few years, skincare has become a Big Deal to me. I've always been blessed with pretty non-reactive skin, getting the occasional pimple in my teen years and having a disgustingly oily T zone for a long time, but overall I had combination skin that didn't seem too irritable. However, around 2 or 3 years ago, I was having a tough time with my depression resurfacing and my skin took a real hit. I think I was stress eating and trying out new skincare products at the same time, which in retrospect seems like a risky combination just because I had a tendency to break out because of my stress eating diet anyways, and I couldn't really assess the real impact of the products.

I remember trying out some kind of lavender-scented face scrub from Lush for a few days straight, and I think that was the final step in really leading to some of the worst months of my life in terms of skin. I broke out very badly, and for the first time I got acne scarring. I was embarrassed and insecure about my skin, and vowed to both never use Lush face products again, and to just never use skincare products again without researching them first.

 And so, after much research and many months, I've developed a skincare routine that is perfect for me and has helped my acne scars heal significantly. My skin is now happy, healthy, and glowing! Here is a list of the products I'm using right now, some new things I've been trying out, and why I like each of them.


Neutrogena Fresh Foaming Cleanser, $6.97 on Amazon.ca 
This cleanser is a pretty standard one but I think it does its job really well. I usually like to double cleanse, so that means I use olive or baby oil first to scrub my makeup off, and then I clean it all off with some of this.


Paula's Choice 2% Salicylic Acid Liquid Exfoliator, 4oz for $28
This exfoliator is the love of my life. I honestly think this was the key product that has helped my acne scarring and my oily T-zone as well. A little bit goes a long way, and I tried the trial size before I used this. However, unless you're getting the trial size free like I did, I don't think it's worth shelling out $9 for just because it's so small. I would get the full size and just make the return if it doesn't work for you, or even better, try the really small sample size. You can also use this link to get $10 off, and they have free shipping pretty often!


My skin is still combination so I use different products depending on what it needs.

Cerave Facial Moisturizing Lotion, SPF 30, $27.65 on Amazon.ca
I wear this moisturizer/sunscreen every. Single. Day. It's SPF 30, and although I've heard that you need to have a white film left on your skin in order for sunscreen to be at its most effective, I feel like that's a bit impossible to do on your face (especially if you're as dark as me) and I think this still does a pretty good job of moisturizing. It's lightweight and unscented, which sold it for me, next to its affordable price tag! (It's way cheaper at your local drugstore than it is on Canadian Amazon. I believe I bought mine for around $10.)

Paula's Choice PC4Men Night-time Repair Cream, 1.7oz for $27
Honestly speaking, this thing is a bit pricey for my usual budget, but it is so worth it. This formula is super lightweight and perfect for summer. It doesn't feel greasy at all, and I use it during the day sometimes as well--with sunscreen as well of course.

Paula's Choice Resist Anti Aging Serum, 1oz for $36
This stuff is so luxurious. I only use it once in a while ('cause of dat price tag) when my skin is in need of a real boost, and it feels very smooth and light. I think if I used it more regularly, in combination with the exfoliator it would work really well to give me smooth skin.

That's about it for my regular skincare routine--I don't use toner because I think exfoliator does essentially the same thing and I also think it's better to keep my routine simple. I use an eye cream and a spot cream occasionally (both from Paula's Choice, my holy grail), but it's pretty rare. Here are also some new products I've been trying, and what I think of them! 

Rose Face Mask by Fresh, 100ml for $72

I got this mask as a birthday gift from Sephora, and excuse my language but it's the shit. It makes my skin SO happy. I apply a really thin layer on my face, let it sit for around 10 minutes, and wash it off. Baby skin for the next few days!

Organic Coconut Oil by Nutriva, $12.99 for 14oz
I've been using organic coconut oil as a very gentle cleanser, and I have to say I really like it. I use this to remove my makeup at the end of the day, and then use my other cleanser to remove the oil from my face to leave some baby-soft skin. Once in a while I've tried leaving coconut oil on as a moisturizer overnight, but I haven't really liked that as much as using my regular moisturizers. I do like to use this to moisturize my super dry and relatively pasty legs though. Baby-soft, I'm telling you.