Skincare That’s Not Skincare

Isn’t it interesting that at the same time as the rise of the full face, highly contoured, structured eyebrow look, skincare and wearing as little makeup as possible is also having a moment? Companies like Glossier have built their whole brand on the no makeup, makeup look, and skincare companies are cropping up left and right.

Personally, I used to be obsessed with makeup. But that might’ve been in part because I used to struggle a lot with acne, skin discoloration, redness, and undereye bags. I never had anything extreme, like cystic acne, but it was just enough to make me insecure in my skin and enough for me to not only become obsessed with trying to cover it up or distract with dramatic eye makeup, but also to try any and every over the counter product I could get my hands on to make my skin better.

Over the years, I have cured just about all the above mentions (except the undereye bags, they will haunt me forever), using a variety of products, but the things that made the biggest impact on my skin actually weren’t skincare products at all, they were simple lifestyle changes. And no, I’m not talking about eating veggies and exercising, because I was doing those things even when my skin was bad, I’m talking about even SIMPLER things –

If you’ve ever suffered from acne, you’ve heard the tip to not touch your face with your hands. But have you ever thought about all the other things that touch your face? Pillowcases, towels, other people’s hands/faces can all have an impact.

  • Towels in public places like hotels or gyms are usually washed in huge machines with industrial cleaners to ensure their sterilization. However, these types of detergents can sometimes be too harsh on the skin and can cause irritation. Stopping my use of gym towels on my face made a huge difference in breakouts on my forehead and near my eyebrows.
  • When was the last time you washed your sheets? Even if you’re on top of this, I’m still betting you don’t wash your pillowcase often enough. Your face touches that thing for up to eight or nine hours every night and even if you wash your face right before you go to bed, it’s still collecting bacteria and germs every day. Once I started washing my pillowcase every three nights, my skin texture improved dramatically.
  • This is kind of a strange one, but other people’s oils can affect your skin as well. For example, if you have a significant other and you spend time kissing them, the contact with their skin and/or facial hair can also cause irritation. This was never something I actively tried to change, but it’s good to be aware of nonetheless.

Hormones are a real thing and they really do affect your skin. Hormones fluctuate up and down and those surges or dips can often wreak havoc on your skin. When you’re going through puberty, there’s not too much you can do about this, but I found that when I went on birth control, my skin got markedly better. The hormones in the birth control ended up regulating my skin and now the only thing I have to worry about is what will happen to my face when I finally stop taking it one day…

Last but not least, stress can be a major factor in irritating your skin. Every single time I go on vacation, I stop doing all the ‘healthy’ things. I don’t eat that healthy because I want to try all the new foods of a place, I don’t do any formal workouts, and I don’t sleep as much since I’m trying to cram everything into a few weeks at most. However, without fail, every time I go on vacation, even though I’m sometimes treating my body pretty badly, my skin clears up. One time, I was in France and basically lived off of wine, cappuccinos, and a few hours of sleep, for three days and I fucking glowed. I think vacations clear my skin because of the dual effect of letting go of my typical stress, and of being outside so much more than I am normally. When I go to new places, I love to explore and I think my skin reacts well to being outside, especially in arid climates.

It may seem trivial, but taking care of your skin can be a huge confidence booster for both men and women. You’ve heard it before, but your skin is your largest organ and just like the rest of your body, you’re pretty much stuck with the same skin for life – the least you can do is wash your freaking pillowcases.

I tried not to talk about products in this article but sunscreen is a HUGE factor in improving skin evenness and preventing aging. PC: Kiki Moussetis

A Little Bit of Bubblegum

I dyed my hair pink. That much is plain to see.

Previously, I had only ever dyed the top part of my hair, which makes sense when you consider how long I had a fade for. In high school I had my top varying shades of red for a while, then my freshman year of college I attempted to go silver. I say attempted because, unsurprisingly, my dark brown hair did not take too well to the process, and after two bleaching treatments thoroughly fried my hair and left it an ugly yellow, I just went bright purple for a while, then let that grow out.

Then I made a plan. Which is big, for me. I don’t plan. I’m lucky if I know what I’m going to do after whatever task it is that I’m currently doing. I was going to grow out my hair (for me that’s about chin length all the way around and this is the longest it’s been since the sixth grade) and dye it pink. Then purple. Then blue. Then green. And then… well let’s leave that one a surprise 🙂

I learned a couple of things in that chair. I mean, I was there for nearly six hours, so I would hope I got something out of it. Besides the pink hair. I learned that if you sit anywhere for six hours, you’ll start making friends, with other stylists, other clients, etc. People just chat, and a salon tends to be one of those great positive environments full of women that just want to compliment each other, like the girls’ bathroom in the club.

The comment I got the most? “OMG I love your hair it looks so nice but I would never be brave enough to do that!”

So here’s the thing about that: if you don’t like bright hair, fine. If you have or want a job that requires you to look more professional, fine. If you can’t afford to dye your hair or are worried about damaging it, fine. But if the only thing holding you back from doing something wild to your hair is fear? NOT FINE. Your hair, your body, your choice. It makes me so sad when people tell me that would love to cut their hair short or dye it but they’re just scared to do it. More often than not, there’s nothing to be afraid of. Honestly, people are more likely to compliment it than insult it.

Maybe I’m a little privileged because I live in an urban area where colored hair is as common as crime, but I feel like in general, people have bigger things to worry about than your hair. Plus, colored hair is a good ice breaker. People ask you about it. People remember you for it. And Uber drivers can always find you.

Frankly, you have your whole life to have natural hair, minus a little for going gray. There’s no better time to do something stupid with your hair than the now. And if it goes wrong- well, it grows back eventually.



Brazilian Waxes Changed My Life

This is not an exaggeration. Before my trip to Mexico, I got my first ever Brazilian Bikini Wax. I had gotten bikini waxes before and had waxed other parts of my body but I had never ventured into Brazilian territory…

Just to make sure we’re all on the same page, a Brazilian Bikini Wax is a waxing treatment wherein all, I mean ALL, of the hair in your nether regions is removed. Front, back, crevices — everything.

I think most people look at the Brazilian Wax in intense fear. Having the hair in your privates torn out by hot wax? Yeah, I cannot be the only one that thinks that sounds terrifying. The initial fear is of the pain. Waxing hurts, and waxing that area? Are you kidding? It hurts like a BITCH. But let’s say you can get past the pain, the next thing you’re probably worried about are the actual logistics. You are in a small room, with a stranger, your legs spread open, trying to make small talk, as your pubic hairs are being ripped systematically from your body. Ah yes, this is what I picture a great night to be as well.

I did think about both of those factors, but the lure of convenience eventually won me over. I didn’t want to have to worry about shaving and razor rash while on vacation, so this seemed like a viable option. I was well past ‘beauty is pain’, CONVENIENCE is pain.

Turns out, a Brazilian is a lot like most other quick and painful things in life. They are definitely painful, but the pain is so fleeting that you are able to forget and continue. Luckily for me, I also had a great technician who made me feel as comfortable as possible and who was extremely efficient. The whole process took about a half hour which includes tweezing at the end for any hairs the wax doesn’t pick up.

And wow, just wow. It is so unbelievably clean. When you wax, you not only pull out the hair by the root, but you also remove any wispy hairs, and the very top layer of skin, leaving what remains to be insanely smooth. Ultimately, I just want to dispel any fear anyone has ever had of this treatment. My logic going into it was that there are women all over the world who get this done regularly, so how bad can it be? And if you’re looking for that kind of convenience and a departure from the endless cycle of shaving, but you can’t quite afford to get it all lasered off, then I can’t recommend this enough.

Was it painful? Absolutely. But was it worth it? Absolutely.


My bikinis just get smaller and smaller so this wax really comes in clutch


The Foundation

It seems like appearances are becoming more and more relevant every day.  And even though not all of this focus is purely superficial, seeing as we have things like body positive movements, it is still thrusting looks into the spotlight of people’s minds and increasing awareness of how we might treat people based on what they look like.

HOWEVER, despite all of the positivity in body image outlook, it is still a priority for a lot of people to look and feel polished. I am not talking about looking like a model, or spending thousands of dollars on expensive treatments, but I am talking about having the ability to feel put together no matter what. There are a couple things you can do to sustain that feeling, even if you aren’t trying to do anything drastic.

  1. Stretch. Not workout or do any yoga necessarily, but just by stretching a little bit every day, you open up your body to having better posture and eliminating tightness or soreness in your muscles. Pretty basic.
  2. Get a great haircut at least twice a year.  For guys or those with shorter styles they’re looking to maintain, this should be more often, but too many times, I see people with long hair who just let it grow OR who don’t get a proper haircut. If you splurge and get your hair cut twice a year by a professional, that has lasting benefits. It will stay healthier longer, grow out better, and overall require less styling and maintenance.
  3. Moisturize your body. EVERY SINGLE TIME YOU SHOWER. This is especially true for those in dry climates, but applies to everyone. Moisturizing takes a couple extra minutes and keeps the skin supple. It keeps skin from getting ashy, scaly, or developing redness.
  4. Take care of your face. Wash it, apply sunscreen, and moisturize. You don’t need a bunch of fancy creams for this (although my personal skincare routine costs me a fortune). These are the basics. Keep your face clean, prevent sun damage, and keep the skin flexible with some moisturizer. You can, of course, add on top of this with treatments and other products., but if you start with basics, your skin will cause much less stress.
  5. Drink Water. No need to go overboard on this last one, but staying hydrated is important. Too often, I feel hungry, or tired and it’s really because I’m dehydrated. Keep a water bottle close by and just chug it everytime you feel your energy flagging. It is a good way to up your water intake and as a litmus test as to what your body really needs.

Basically, all of this boils down to stretch, moisturize, hydrate, and have a professional take a look at everything once in awhile. By creating this foundation for yourself, putting yourself together every day won’t be as much of a task. Consistent small efforts will reduce your overall effort, and I don’t know about you guys, but I am all about little things that will make my life A LOT easier.

What tips do you guys have for making yourself look good with minimal effort? Comment below!

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Bitch Sessions: My Body

My torso is too long. My nose is too big and it has a bump in the middle and at the end. My skin keeps breaking out on the right cheek, the left cheek…my forehead…oh fuck it. There are these stupid dark, dark hairs that grow under my chin. My butt is too small and too flat. My thighs feel enormous when I sit down. My body hair grows at the speed of light and I’m perpetually coming up with new ways to deal with the hair on my upper lip. My toes are too long. My right knee looks permanently bruised. The eyelashes at the outside of my right eye refuse to curl. My nailbeds are miniscule and my ribcage is too big.

I could go on and on and on. There are somedays where absolutely nothing looks right. My hair won’t cooperate. I keep finding spots where I missed shaving, or every outfit I try on makes me feel fat. No matter how much moisturizer I’ve used, how hard I’ve worked out that week, or how much sleep I’ve gotten. I just feel ugly.

These are the days where I feel too tall and too fat next to my shorter, daintier friends. These ar the days, I wish my hair was blonde to show more texture. These are the days where I wish my nails were longer so it would actually be worth getting a manicure. These are the days I wish my shoulders fit into shirts that were the right size for my torso. And so it goes…

The thing is, those days happen to literally everyone. And if you think celebrities or all those gorgeous famous people are immune, take a look at the hate they get day in and day out on social media. If you think they never get insecure, you gotta remember they’re human.

That girl with the gorgeous hair sitting in front of you in class? She might wish her long hair wasn’t so damn flat.

That guy with the washboard abs? Maybe he hates that he can’t grow a beard.

That woman with the amazing makeup? She might complain her eyes hape isn’t good enough for eyeliner.

The point is that everybody has their insecurities, EVERYBODY. But honestly what matters is how you rock them. There are certain things that are in your power to eliminate (take THAT, upper lip hair) and certain things that aren’t (my ribcage isn’t getting any smaller), and you have to take those ones you can’t change and own them. Confidence is the only thing that matters in the end.

For example, even though I have bad days, most days, I’m still able to think like this:

I have beautiful eyes with great eyebrows. My lips are proportional to each other and to my face. My ears are small and lie flat. My hair is thick and healthy. I have great legs. My cuticles are perfect. I love my collarbone and I think my breasts are the perfect size. My body can climb, run, swim, and jump with no problem. I think my bellybutton is cute and I like the little moles I have on my body.

And so on and so forth. I know this is a cheesy message but there really is no Instagram model, actor, politician, classmate, parent, friend, or partner that has never had any insecurities about their appearance and honestly, that is a-ok. And if you’re reading this, I just want you to know that there is always more than one perspective and if you find yourself in a negative-hate-yourself fest, remind yourself it’s normal, and then find another perspective.