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Bloody Brilliant or Bloody Awful: The Vampire Facial


I blame Kim Kardashian. For a lot of things, but today we’re talking about a sort of ridiculous facial trend; and I blame her for the hype, because she popularized it by getting it done on camera. I’m talking about the Vampire Facial, which is different from the Vampire Facelift. Both utilize PRP (platelet rich plasma). Although it’s been a few years since the episode aired and the craze started, it’s still highly searched and asked about. (No, I’ve never seen the episode in question.)

PRP is the process of drawing blood, then spinning it through a centrifugal processing system (thank you RealSelf for that string of words) to separate the platelets from the red blood cells. The plasma creates a growth-factor rich serum that is healing and boosts the immune system. This glorious goo is then injected back into the skin.

Being of the gothy/vampy variety, I’m immediately on board with anything that uses blood. Being an educated esthetician, however, I’m skeptical of any fad procedure. So, I took to le internet and did some research to see if it’s really worth the pain and money.

First, let’s talk about the differences between the Vampire Facial and the Vampire Facelift. The Vampire Facial incorporates micro-needling, a wonderful facial procedure in which a multi-needled device is rolled over your face. This causes tiny pinpricks in your skin. The purpose of the pinpricks is to increase the delivery of serums and products used after the needling; also, the process triggers your body’s wound-healing mechanism, which promotes the formation of new collagen and elastin. Micro-needling is a wonderful anti-aging procedure when performed by a licensed professional; I cannot attest to home micro-needling, so I will keep my opinions on that to myself. ANYWAY. Micro-needling, in itself, could be considered a sort of vampire facial, because the pinpricks obviously produce some amount of bleeding. But, the Vampire Facial (capitalized for differentiation) takes it a step further by then injecting the PRP into your face. The Vampire Facelift varies from the Facial in that it eliminates the micro-needling, and also utilizes hyaluronic acid fillers, Restalyne, or Juvederm in addition to the PRP.

As of 2013, Popular Science claimed there was no scientific proof that the procedure is effective. Several other sources around the same year agree. So, that aspect is for you to research and decide for yourself. From an esthetics standpoint, micro-needling to then inject beneficial serums, treatments, etc. makes sense.

Why would you get a Vampire procedure? For the epic selfie, duh. For anti-aging, mostly. To try a trend and see if you get anything out of it. If you do decide to try it, PLEASE ensure that you are getting it done a medical spa or a plastic surgeon’s office.  For micro-needling and other similar services, you can try somewhere like TLATA (Texas Laser and Aesthetics Training Academy), which supervises their students as they perform the services. PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD DO NOT PURCHASE AN AT-HOME MICRO-NEEDLING DEVICE! I’m sure there are great ones out there, but there is always a risk of contamination and infection when you’re BRINGING BLOOD TO THE SURFACE OF YOUR FACE THROUGH MICRO ABRASIONS. So, from a hygiene standpoint alone, you should see a licensed professional for anything utilizing a needle.

Why WOULDN’T you get a Vampire procedure? If you’re a masochist, because apparently, the procedure is no more painful than Botox. If you’re afraid of needles or blood. If you’re skeptical about the results-these procedures can get up into the thousands. That’s a lot of money to shell out for something you’re not 100% sold on. I’m sure there are other factors that would eliminate you as a candidate, but that’s why you consult with someone licensed to perform the procedures beforehand.

Until there’s concrete, in-your-face, easy-to-Google scientific evidence that the procedures are worth the price tag, I personally would stick to just micro-needling. It’s vampire-adjacent enough for me. What are your thoughts? Would you ever try something like this? Let me know in the comments below!




Additional sources:



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Quit Putting Glue on Your F***ing Face

The biggest Pinterest skincare trend right now is a DIY activated charcoal mask. I can’t open the app without seeing it in my suggestions; I can’t go into a makeup and beauty group on Facebook without being bombarded by pictures of women masking it up with this concoction. We all know that I am pro DIY skincare, when it’s safe and makes sense. So this is not me bashing the DIY aspect of this particular trend. I actually love activated charcoal masks for their cleansing and exfoliating abilities. What I take issue with is the other ingredient used: glue. Yes, glue. Good ol Elmer’s school glue.

Yall, this trend gets me HEATED. Like, heated to the point that I yell angrily at my screen, “ARE YOU F***IN STUPID?!” So heated, in fact, that I am writing this post now, and even Googled “why is glue bad for your skin,” because it seems like no one else is capable of doing so.

The theory behind this fuckery is that since Elmer’s glue is the same texture as pore strips and pulls out blackheads, and is nontoxic, you can use it in place of “pricey” pore strips and masks. Because why pay for something that’s been formulated for your skin when you can use something that’s been formulated for paper at a literal fraction of the cost? (Is my sarcasm just spewing out of your screen? Good.)

Here’s why this is a bad idea: glue contains ingredients that are skin irritants and cause allergic reactions (although the glue is nontoxic). Elmer’s doesn’t even list all of the ingredients used, as it is a proprietary blend, so who knows what else is in there that is not skin friendly. You may be pulling out the blackheads in your skin, but you’re irritating the rest of your skin in the process. Glue is also comedogenic; if the purpose of the mask is to clear your pores, why the HELL would you use something that is going to clog your pores? Not only that, glue was not formulated to be used on the skin; the list of things that are not formulated for the skin, but are safe for the skin, is short. Glue is not pH balanced for your skin, which leads to a whole other set of skin problems. You need to be very careful when using things that you have to rip off of your face. The act of ripping causes the borders of your pores to expand. Obviously, this leads to more noticeable pores, something literally everyone is trying to avoid. Not only that, you’re damaging your collagen and elastin. You are literally causing sagging, wrinkles, and early aging. All for the low, low price of school glue.

So please: avoid this trend at all costs. Pore strips and DIY peel-off masks may seem like inexpensive treatment options but the damage done to your skin is irreversible and will cost you a ton of money to temporarily repair. Here are my Target suggestions for charcoal based masks that will do what you’re wanting without damaging your skin:

You can find better options in several other places, but since this trend is so popular because it’s dirt cheap, I stuck with Target. One of my favorite blogs, FutureDerm, provides further but simplified information here. Even Refinery 29 advises against the trend here.

Thank you for reading through my rant! Seeing a professional for your skin concerns is always advised, but I get it, it’s not always doable. But please, for the love of your skin, DON’T PUT GLUE ON YOUR F***ING FACE!



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Good Skin For All: CVS Edition


A huge part of my personal philosophy is making skincare more approachable and accessible. That’s Why I’m Cool With Non-Professional Skincare. I wanted to expand on that and REALLY help you guys put together an effective routine, no matter where you’re shopping. As I’ve stressed so many times before, it comes down to using the right ingredients for your skin type and concerns, so I’m going to put together a full skincare routine for each skin type based off of labels alone. I’m going to leave professional skincare recommendations to the professional who knows your skin best, so I’m going to be working with CVS, Target, Ulta, and Sephora. In the case of CVS, I’m going to leave out brands such as Clarins, Dermalogica, etc. as those can be bought from higher end stores or professionals. These posts are going to be really long just because there’s SO MUCH, but I’ll do my best to condense and label things well for easier scrolling!


I have not personally tried every product I’m going to suggest. 1.) That’s too damn expensive, and 2.) the vast majority of these products are not suited to my skin type. I’m making these recommendations based on ingredients and my ingredient knowledge alone. Be smart and stay away from things you know your skin is allergic or sensitive to; discontinue use immediately of any product that isn’t agreeing with your skin. Professional skincare may produce better or longer-lasting results due to higher concentrations of active ingredients. While I recommend professional lines for things like exfoliants, serums, and treatments, the point of this series is to piece together a comprehensive routine using OTC skincare only.


Goals for oily skin: balancing oil without drying out the skin, and keeping things clean to reduce potential breakouts. Oily skin requires more cleansing and exfoliating than other types.

What to avoid:

  • Things that make your skin tingle-I’m looking at you, Noxema. That tingling feeling is meant to evoke illusions of cleanliness, but really it’s your skin screaming in irritation from drying ingredients like menthol and SD or denatured alcohol. The goal is to BALANCE oily skin, not dry it out to the point that it produces even more oil to compensate.
  • Things that are overly thick or emollient-bar cleansers, stick foundations, occlusive moisturizers, and balms leave ingredients that mix with your skin’s excess oil and add to the greasiness. These things can also clog your already acne-prone skin.

The routine:

Be sure to find a sunscreen you’ll use daily. Just because your skin will age slower to due to your higher oil content, doesn’t mean you don’t need sun protection.


Goals for dry skinto stop damaging the outer layer by avoiding drying, abrasive, and damaging things such as bar soaps and unprotected sun exposure; to use good exfoliation and proper hydrating products to build up the damaged outer layer. Dry skin also tends to age quicker, so products that utilize vitamin A and glycolic acid are vital.

What to Avoid

  • bar soaps
  • water-soluble cleansers
  • irritating ingredients such as menthols and abrasive scrubs (fruit, shell, or nut fragments)

The Routine:


Goals for combo skinbalance. That’s pretty much it. Combo skin is tricky because you need to treat the oily areas with products designed for oily skin, and dry areas with dry products. For the sake of this series, I’ll recommend products based on the “combo” category on the CVS website.

What to avoidone size fits all skincare.

The routine:


Goals for acneic skinclearing the skin and keeping it clear WITHOUT drying it out or causing more damage.

What to avoid

  • anything inflammatory, as acne is an inflammatory disorder
  • anything drying (menthol, harsh detergents, over concentrated acids/peroxides/alcohols)
  • overdoing the cleansing; keeping the skin clean and exfoliated is crucial, however, you CANNOT wash away your acne. All you’ll do is irritate it!
  • unprotected sun exposure (no, sunscreen will not give you acne, and no, sunlight does not “clear up” acne)
  • thick, waxy textures

The routine:

  • Cleanser: nothing harsh, stripping, drying, or abrasive. That’s a tall order for drugstore skincare. Here are some good ones: Yes to Tomatoes Daily Clarifying Cleanser ($9.99, or $2.96/oz); Derma E Very Clear Acne Cleanser ($15.49, or $2.58/oz); or Burt’s Bees Acne Purifying Cleansing Gel ($9.99, or $2/oz).
  • Toner: the major concern with toners for acne-prone skin is avoiding anything that is too astringent. Again, you cannot dry out your acne; you can’t scrub it away, wash it away, sting it away. The only one I found that is worth the money without doing further damage is Andalou Naturals Clarifying Pore Minimizer ($12.99, or $2.16/oz). “Pore minimizer” is a bit of a misnomer, because you can’t minimize your pores once they’ve been stretched out. But it is a lovely toner all the same. Run away from anything that has denatured alcohol (sometimes listed as SD alcohol) anywhere near the beginning of the ingredient deck; this is what dries your skin out and makes it tight, which makes you think it’s working, but it’s just making your skin angry which leads to more breakouts.
  • Exfoliant: a leave-on AHA or BHA is ideal, because exfoliation (GENTLE exfoliation) is key to keeping acneic skin healthy. That can be hard to find outside of professional lines, so the next course of action is to find a good scrub. Acne scrubs are so, so abrasive and irritating. Here are the most gentle acne scrubs I found: Derma E Very Clear Acne Scrub ($13.99, or $3.50/oz); Reviva Labs Microdermabrasion Pomegranate Scrub ($18.99, or $9.50/oz); or Burt’s Bees Acne Pore Refining Scrub ($9.99, or $2.50/oz).
  • Moisturizer: just like with oily skin, you might be tempted to skip the moisturizer in the name of keeping your skin clear. This is a huge mistake! When your skin is stripped of the oil it’s putting out, it puts out more oil, which causes more breakouts. The key is to find a moisturizer that is light but still hydrating. The ONLY one that I can happily recommend is Burt’s Bees Acne Daily Moisturizing Lotion ($17.99, or $9/oz). CeraVe Facial Moisturizing Lotion AM ($14.49, or $4.83/oz) is an alright choice, especially since it’s SPF 30 and contains niacinamide, but it has a lot of preservatives for the price. I’m not anti-preservative or paraben, but I do believe there should be more active ingredients than preservatives in products.
  • Masks: I stand by my bentonite clay powder recommendation for oily skin. You’re going to want to find something that is purifying without drying, lightly hydrating, and soothing. I’m gonna be real honest, drugstore acne masks are shit. The best options I found are these two: Beauty 360 Detoxifying Perfecting Black Facial Mask ($11.99, this one has a decent ingredient deck AND IT’S BLACK), and Queen Helene The Original Mint Julep Mask ($4.99, or 62 cents/oz). I hesitate to recommend the Queen Helene mask because although it has some great ingredients for the price, it also has two or three possibly irritating ingredients in higher concentrations. So watch out.
  • Serums/treatments: spot treatments are great for minimizing individual spots, but they aren’t a long-term or all-over treatment. They won’t keep spots from coming back. Keep that in mind when shopping for one. Most of the drugstore options are crazy drying and overpriced for how much active ingredient is in the product. Even my good friend Burt’s Bees had denatured alcohol as the first ingredient (damn you Burt). Derma E Very Clear Acne Spot Treatment ($11.49, or $21.28/oz) is the only good option I found. When you look at the price-per-ounce, you might consider another option.


Goals for anti-agingthis is such a tricky skin concern because everyone expects miracles that will turn back the clock as quickly as the signs of aging appeared. Only surgical procedures and injectables will give you (almost) instantaneous results. You want to incorporate as much of the following ingredients as possible: antioxidants (vitamins A, C, and E; superoxide dismutase; beta carotene; glutathione; selenium; green tea; soy extract; grape extract; pomegranate extract), skin identical/skin repairing (ceramides; lecithin; glycerin; hyaluronic acid; sodium PCA; collagen; elastin; proteins; triglycerides), cell-communicating (niacinamide; retinol; synthetic peptides; lecithin; ceramides). Sun protection is an absolute most because the most visible signs of aging are due to sun exposure and damage.

What to avoid:

  • “miracle” products that claim to mimic the effects of Botox and other medical procedures. Nothing can fully replicate the effects of those measures.
  • irritating products. As your skin ages, it doesn’t recover quite as quickly. It’s very important to avoid anything that could prolong that.

The Routine:

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Review: Peter Thomas Roth


Here’s what’s up with my product reviews. Mostly, I’m reviewing things I get samples of, or things I’ve gotten in exchange for my points at Sephora. No one is paying me to run this blog, and it’s been hell finding a spa job that meets my needs, so until companies start sending me stuff (which, btw, if anyone knows how to make that happen, get at me, seriously), we’re working with samples. I like doing this is because I know a lot of people are in the same boat, using samples and travel sizes to construct their skincare routine until they find something they like or they’re able to afford larger sizes.

Last year’s birthday gift at Sephora was a Peter Thomas Roth cleanser and mask duo. I avoided using it until recently because they are gel products, and gel cleansers tend to dry me out. Gel products are generally best for those with oily, combo, or normal skin. But lately my skin has been breaking out more than usual, so I read through the ingredients and gave them a try. Here are my “in a nutshell” thoughts. If you’d like a thorough analysis of the ingredients used, that will be below.

Anti-Aging Cleansing Gel (Sephora, $38/8.5 fl oz, same price and size at Ulta): As I suspected, this cleanser did dry me out a bit. HOWEVER! I really like using this cleanser in the same way I’d use a clarifying shampoo; not regularly, but every now and then to get a really thorough clean. It lives up to its claims and I was so pleasantly surprised by it. This cleanser contains glycolic acid (an AHA) and salicylic acid (a BHA), which is a fantastic combo for both anti-aging and acne. Some of the fruit acids may irritate more sensitive skin, so be cautious of that. The ingredient deck is great. I do not think pricey cleansers are necessary since you’re going to wash it right off of your face, but I really like this cleanser as a “treatment cleanser” of sorts, and definitely recommend it. Especially for those struggling with adult breakouts and anti-aging concerns simultaneously. I also recommend this to my gothy, glam, and other heavy makeup wearing readers, since it’s so deeply cleansing.

Cucumber Gel Mask (Sephora, $52/5 fl oz, same price and size at Ulta): Would I buy this at the $52 price tag? I’d hesitate. At the same price as the cleanser? Definitely. It is described as being “refreshing, calming, cooling, moisturizing.” Any gel mask is going to be refreshing. I used it after having a severe allergic reaction to another product, to test the calming claim, and honestly? Straight aloe gel is more calming, but it did calm my skin, to a degree. It does have a cooling effect without the use of menthol (this is a big plus for this mask), and is lightly hydrating, so good for skin types needing some, but not excessive, moisture. The ingredient deck is great. Using it for ten minutes twice per week didn’t give me AMAZING results. I just personally have trouble spending more than $30 on a mask, since it’s meant to be washed off.

Ingredient-by-Ingredient Analysis

Now that you know my basic thoughts, let’s look at the claims made on the bottles and the ingredients to figure out WHY these products are effective or ineffective.


Claims: “Oil-Free anti-wrinkle technology rejuvenates clarifies brightens with glycolic acid salicylic acid and fruit extracts for all skin types.” There is no punctuation on the bottle, do you know hard it was for a grammar nerd like me to type all that out?! Anyway. Let’s look at the back of the bottle now: “Luxurious facial cleansing gel helps produce a beautiful, fresh, youthful-looking complexion. Advanced deep skin renewing action increases cell turnover to help diminish the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and other signs of aging. Detoxifies the pores, dissolves makeup, emulsifies oil, and improves skin texture as it gently sweeps away dead skin cells and impurities that can dull the complexion.” WOW those are some big claims. Almost “miracle in a bottle” type claims.


  • Water
  • Sodium laureth sulfate: emulsifier, surfactant, less irritating than sodium lauryl sulfate. This is the cleansing agent in this cleanser. According to my ingredient dictionary, it “exhibits a mild to moderate skin irritation index in irritation tests.” This confirms the cleansing claim and the emulsifying claim.
  • Cocamidopropyl Betaine: surfactant derived from a coconut oil salt. This is what gives the product it’s creamy foam. Again, this confirms the cleansing, luxurious, makeup dissolving, and skin texture claims.
  • Coco-Glucoside: very mild cleansing agent derived from coconut oil and fruit sugar. Meets cleansing, luxurious, makeup dissolving, and skin texture claims.
  • Propylene Glycol: Less greasy than glycerin; humectant, solvent, and preservative. It is one of the most common moisture-carrying vehicles used in cosmetic formulations. It can be irritating in high concentrations. Meets cleansing, luxurious, makeup dissolving, and skin texture claims.
  • Salicylic Acid (Beta Hydroxy Acid): anti-inflammatory, exfoliating, anti-microbial, anti-septic, preservative enhancer, and pH adjuster. This is the wonder ingredient that meets almost every claim on the cleanser’s label: it improves the look and feel of skin by dissolving the top layer of skin cells; reduces sebaceous follicle blockage; and it appears to improve wrinkles, roughness, and tone. It may cause redness and irritation in higher concentrations.
  • Glycolic Acid/Arginine (Alpha Hydroxy Acid): reduces excess buildup of dead skin cells which can be associated with acne, dry skin, and wrinkles. It facilitates sloughing of dead skin cells (it’s an exfoliant). Enhances moisture uptake as well as increases the skin’s ability to bind water. This is the other all-star ingredient that substantiates the label’s claims. It’s beneficial for acne-prone skin, diminishing the signs of age spots, anti-aging, hydrating, moisturizing, and skin normalizing, all of which lead to reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Use of this killer ingredient leads to softer, smoother, healthier, and younger looking skin. In high concentrations, it can be irritating.
  • Peach Fruit Extract: abrasive; adds bulk and moisturizing activity. It’s used in products recommended for dry skin. And as we know, dry skin ages faster. So the use of this ingredient can substantiate the anti-aging claims. Plus it smells yummy.
  • White Oak Bark Extract: reduces inflammation and prevents infection. It is slightly tonic, strongly astringent, and antiseptic. I suspect this is what gives the sort of dry and tight effect due to the astringent.
  • Lemon Fruit Extract: anti-bacterial, anti-septic, astringent, and toner. Also used to perfume products. It’s suggested for treating sunburn, acne problems, and oily skin and it contains citric acid as well as vitamins B and C. It can cause irritation and allergic reactions, which is why I included the disclaimer in the beginning of my review.
  • Lime Fruit Extract: perfuming, emollient, soothing, and anti-septic. It’s a source of vitamin C and can cause photosensitivity.
  • Linden Flower Extract: known for helping problem or blemished skin, and is considered to be refreshing and soothing. Anti-septic, skin-clearing, soothing, sedative, circulation-stimulating, hydrating, and astringent. (After researching this ingredient, I’ll definitely be looking to implement more products that utilize it.) It’s used effectively for irritated skin and the relaxation of muscle tension and cold, and to mask odor and condition skin.
  • Grapefruit Fruit Extract: anti-septic and skin-conditioning. Good for oily skin, contains vitamin C and is very acidic. In high concentrations, it is too caustic to be used on the skin; but as it is lower down on the ingredients, it should not be a problem.
  • Citric Acid: astringent and anti-oxidant. Product stabilizer, pH adjuster, and preservative.
  • Citrus Bioflavonoids: I had to go to Google for this one, because there was no information in my ingredients dictionaries. Basically, citrus bioflavonoids are used for their antioxidant properties.
  • Allantoin: healing, calming, and soothing botanical. It’s an excellent temporary anti-irritant, and it stimulates new tissue growth, helping to heal damaged skin. Derived from comfrey root, it’s good for sensitive, irritated, and acneic skin.
  • Methylparaben: non-comedogenic and very low sensitizing preservative, used to combat bacteria and molds.
  • Quaternium-15: this is a somewhat controversial preservative. When used in leave-on preparations, such as moisturizers, serums, etc, it is considered highly sensitizing. However, used in low concentrations of 0.02 to 0.3 percent, it is safe and effective without the risk sensitization. Also, it’s one of the last ingredients in this product, meaning very small amounts of it are used. This should not present a problem.
  • Red #40, Yellow #5, Fragrance: all unnecessary ingredients that lend to the product’s aesthetic and do nothing for your skin. Again, as these are the last ingredients and therefore the most diluted, they should not present a problem.


Claims: “Extreme detoxifying hydrator. Refreshing cooling moisturizing calming gel helps soothe dry irritated skin with extracts of cucumber papaya pineapple aloe.” And the back label: “This ultra-gentle gel helps soothe, hydrate, and detoxify dry, irritated skin with botanical extracts of cucumber, papaya, chamomile, pineapple, sugar maple, sugarcane, orange, lemon, bilberry, and aloe. For all skin types.” No huge claims here, just soothing, detoxifying hydration. I’m always a little cautious of detox claims, because they never tell you what’s being detoxified. But as far as mask claims go, this is pretty standard.


  • Water
  • Propylene Glycol (repeat from cleanser): Less greasy than glycerin; humectant, solvent, and preservative. It is one of the most common moisture-carrying vehicles used in cosmetic formulations. It can be irritating in high concentrations.
  • Cucumber Extract: moisture-binding, moisture-regulating, soothing, tightening, anti-itching, refreshing, softening, healing, and anti-inflammatory. Obviously this ingredient is carrying most of the mask’s claims. And given that the mask has cucumber in the name, it’s fantastic that cucumber extract is the third ingredient. Nothing bothers me more than a product being named after an ingredient that is barely even used. It’s excellent for eye treatments and treatments for oily skin, and effective as a tightening agent for tired, stressed, skin. It’s used in sun preparations as a refresher. The best part of cucumber extract is that it contains amino acids and organic acids that are claimed to strengthen the skin’s acid mantle.
  • Papaya Fruit Extract: cleanser for acne-prone skin. It’s a very gentle exfoliant (and one of my personal favorites). It softens the skin and can help smooth the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. This is something you should look for in ALL masks.
  • Pineapple Extract: anti-inflammatory and exfoliant. It can be irritating to the skin.
  • Whole Leaf Aloe Vera: I could gush about aloe for hours. It’s an emollient and a thickener, but has so, so many benefits. It is hydrating, softening, healing, anti-microbial, and anti-inflammatory. Aloe is most recognized for its moisturizing properties because it supplies moisture directly to the skin tissue. It relaxes the skin, which is why it’s so valuable for sensitive, sunburned, and sun-exposed skin. This is another killer ingredient that you should incorporate whenever possible.
  • Bilberry Fruit Extract: bilberry is the cuter name for huckleberry. Astringent, anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, slightly muscle relaxing, and protects against collagen degradation.
  • Sugarcane Extract: I had trouble finding information on this one. It is, essentially, the raw form of glycolic acid.
  • Sugar Maple Extract: natural source of AHA, which is exfoliating.
  • Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Extract: anti-inflammatory and repairer. Bactericidal, anti-itching, soothing, antiseptic, purifying, refreshing, and hypoallergenic, with the ability to neutralize skin irritants. It is non-comedogenic and is excellent for dry skin.
  • Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Oil: another form of chamomile.
  • Lemon Extract (repeat from cleanser): anti-bacterial, anti-septic, astringent, and toner. Also used to perfume products. It’s suggested for treating sunburn, acne problems, and oily skin and it contains citric acid as well as vitamins B and C. It can cause irritation and allergic reactions, which is why I included the disclaimer in the beginning of my review.
  • Orange Extract: perfume, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-spasmodic, and sedative. It’s good for sensitive, delicate skin.
  • Glycerin: one of my personal favorite ingredients! It is a humectant and a moisturizer, and it improves the spreading quality of products.
  • Sodium Pca: a humectant that is a component of the skin’s natural moisturizing factor. It’s recommended for dry, delicate, and sensitive skins.
  • Allantoin (repeat from cleanser): healing, calming, and soothing botanical. It’s an excellent temporary anti-irritant, and it stimulates new tissue growth, helping to heal damaged skin. Derived from comfrey root, it’s good for sensitive, irritated, and acneic skin.
  • Disodium Edta: a low-concentration preservative.
  • Sodium Polyacrylate: suspending agent, stabilizer, and emulsifier.
  • Triethanolamine: emulsifier and pH adjuster.
  • Carbomer: thickening and suspending agent.
  • Polysorbate 20: solubilizer, emulsifier, viscosity modifier, and stabilizer of essential oils in water.
  • Diazolidinyl Urea: antiseptic, deodorizer, and broad-spectrum preservative against bacteria and fungi.
  • Methylparaben (repeat from cleanser): non-comedogenic and very low sensitizing preservative, used to combat bacteria and molds.
  • Propylparaben: one of the most frequently used preservatives against bacteria and mold. It’s considered to be one of the safest preservatives.
  • Yellow 5 (CI 19140), Blue 1 (CI 42090): product colorant.

I’m really happy with the ingredient decks on these products. Although they both contain several ingredients that may cause irritation, they both also contain ingredients that are used to combat those effects. I saw results with the cleanser after just a few uses, which is rare for me. I definitely recommend the cleanser, and the mask as well if you don’t mind the higher price point.

Have you ever used PTR Skincare? If so, which products did you love? Let me know in the comments below!



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“Men’s Skincare” Is Bullshit (It’s all just skincare people)



why is it so hard to convince men to wash their faces …..why do they think skincare is for women…..please, your skin cells are suffocating underneath their own dead brethren and you must exfoliate them….free them


SOURCE: rapunzelie

The day we covered Men’s Skincare in school was the day I remember as The Eternal Cringe. Maybe it was the slightly outdated, pandering textbook entry, maybe it was the concept of gendered skincare, maybe it was the annoyed look on everyone’s faces when I voiced my opinion. I don’t know. But something about it bothered me so damn much that I’m still bothered enough to write a blog post about it, one year later.


Barf. (Milady Esthetics textbook)

“Men’s Skincare” as a concept is rooted mostly in unnecessary gender separation, in my opinion, and has little scientific foundation. While it’s true that men’s skin tends to be thicker and oilier, I don’t think that warrants a whole different genre in the skincare world. I think it’s just another skin type-thicker and more oily, oily, normal, combo, dry, dehydrated. Skin is skin, no matter who wears it, and we all need to take care of it. It is an organ and deserves to be treated as such. Caring for your skin is a component of hygiene and who the hell doesn’t need to be hygienic?

I think by gendering skincare, we complicate things. We make good skincare harder to attain because instead of shopping by our skin’s needs, we’re shopping by gender. For example, the Nivea For Men moisturizer is a SUPER makeup primer and moisturizer. Nikkie Tutorials discovered it because she forgot her own moisturizer and had to use her boyfriend’s. How many people could be benefiting from this product but will never try it because it’s “for men?” How many women could be saving money by using men’s products? How many men are using the wrong ingredients for their skin because those ingredients are in “women’s skincare” products? How many men are letting their skin suffer because they believe skin care is “for women?”

And that right there is where the “Men’s Skincare Market” came from. In an attempt to get men to care for their skin, they made products “for men.” They added “masculine” scents which do no one’s skin any favors, they put it in different packaging, they attach ridiculous descriptions to their products to make men feel more manly by using their products. My husband’s body wash, for example:


“Fresher than limes & life success.”


“Like captaining a schooner. Also buy our deodorant if you want to really be a schooner captain.”

What the actual fuck does any of that even mean? It inspires a certain aesthetic, sure, and it’s funny as hell to read when you’re stuck in the bathroom without your phone. But isn’t the point of product labels to describe the product, how to use it, and what it’s supposed to do for your skin?

I’m using a men’s body wash label as an example because my husband doesn’t use men’s skincare. So, although I have plenty of skincare products to use in comparison, I’ll use my body wash to keep things consistent:


“Nourishing, hydrating, moisturizes.”


Lists some of the ingredients and what they achieve-moisturization, hydration, etc.

It doesn’t make much sense, does it? How does the men’s product help them make an informed decision and buy a product that contains the ingredients needed to address their concern? Instead of trying to make “women’s” skincare more “masculine”, why not make skincare universal and without gender? Because that’s what it is.

Here are the facts on men’s skin needs:

  • Typically have larger sebaceous glands
  • Typically have oilier skin
  • Irritation from shaving the delicate facial skin is a concern
  • Folliculitis (inflammation of the hair follicle) pseudofolliculitis (razor bumps), and ingrown hairs are issues

That’s it. So judging from this list, men simply need products (in general) that are water-based as opposed to oil-based, and should use less irritating ingredients. Have you read a men’s skincare label? So many irritating ingredients are used in high concentrations in the name of being masculine, rugged, etc. Aftershave, for example, has a high concentration of simple alcohol, which we know dries out the skin. Which is the last thing you want to do after shaving. And don’t get me started on all the men’s 2-in-1 products.

Once again it all comes down to ingredients. Do not assume that men’s skincare is what you need because you have men’s skin. Do not assume that men’s skincare shouldn’t be incorporated into your routine because you have women’s skin. Learn what your skin needs and shop for that. And again, the best skincare routine is the one you’ll use.

If you’re a lady, what gems have you found in men’s skincare? If you’re a man, would you be willing to try “women’s” products if it meant better results? Let me know in the comments below!


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Why I’m Cool With Non-Professional Skincare


How I feel as a professional when I say I don’t hate non-professional skincare

I’m about to become real unpopular with most other estheticians. I’m going to tell you why I don’t hate drugstore, OTC skincare. I’m going to tell you why I sometimes even recommend it. The majority of skincare professionals-licensed, educated skincare professionals, not MLM reps-will get offended, maybe even a little aggressive and judgmental, when you ask them to suggest a product that you can get at Target, Sephora, etc. They will be quick to tell you (usually condescendingly, in my experience) that any product other than a professional product is a waste of money and will not get you any results. They will be quick to tell you (usually condescendingly, in my experience) that any product other than the professional product they themselves retail, is a waste.

They’re right, to an extent. Professional products exist because the active ingredients are generally (key word there) more highly concentrated than over-the-counter products. Sometimes they have credibility because they have been researched by a reputable lab, or have been developed by a trusted, verified cosmetic chemist. I don’t want anyone reading this to think I’m bashing pro products. They certainly have their place. What I’m bashing is the belief that pro products are the only worthwhile products out there. What I’m against is the idea that every product you use should be professional grade. In the case of things that are just being washed right off your skin, like cleansers and masks, it simply is a waste of money in most cases.

I love OTC products because they are so accessible, and generally unpretentious. I would rather you ask me for an OTC recommendation and book another facial with me because I am willing to work with you and will not pressure you for sales, than to push a pro product on you and make you feel alienated and a bit uncomfortable, potentially never coming to me for another facial. It really comes down to that. I’d rather you actually implement a skincare routine using OTC products than not do anything at all because you aren’t using pro products.

There are some really great OTC products out there, and I am working on discovering those so I can share them with yall. The main thing about ALL products is learning to read ingredient labels. A pro product that contains ineffective ingredients, no matter how highly concentrated, simply will not provide results. Learn which ingredients are beneficial to your concerns, and shop for those. Learn which ingredients will only exacerbate your concerns, and avoid those. This is essential to buying any product, whether it be pro or OTC, skincare or makeup.

Here’s my opinion on when to go pro, and when to go OTC:

Cleanser: go OTC. There is no need to spend more than $15 on a cleanser, in my humble opinion. Since it’s going to be washed right off your face, you don’t need an impressive ingredient deck. Does it contain gently cleansing ingredients? In the case of acne, does it contain something that is going to help clear everything up? Is it the correct consistency (gel for oily to normal skin, lotion/cream for dry skin)? That’s all you need in a cleanser, and you can find all of that in an inexpensive, over-the-counter cleanser.

Toner: either! I’ve tried some wonderful professional toners, I’ve tried some wonderful OTC toners. Pro and OTC toners contain a lot of the same ingredients with similar concentrations. The point of a toner is to balance the pH of your skin and repair your acid mantle, so avoid astringents.

Exfoliators: I’d go pro on these, or at least high-end OTC. The problem with drugstore exfoliants is that they’re generally produced using walnut and apricot shells. These are HORRIBLE for the skin but provide that deeply scrubby feel at a next to nothing cost. I have yet to find an OTC chemical exfoliator, so I can’t speak to those until I’ve done more research. Exfoliation is so crucial to your skin health, trust it to the pros, and use what they provide/recommend.

Moisturizers: either. Again, it comes down to ingredients used as well as texture and consistency. Do your homework and use what’s right for your skin. I have used a professional line for moisturizers, and hated them. I have used moisturizers from Target, Sephora, and other OTC lines, and been blown away with the results.

Sunscreen: OTC, but research, research, research. There is a lot of hoopla about sunscreen causing cancer. I find this hard to believe, but I do believe that sunscreens contain unnecessary, potentially toxic ingredients. That being said, don’t let yourself get swindled into buying pro only sunscreen. Chances are, it’s not any different than a good quality OTC sunscreen; it probably just contains a soothing “chem-free” label that may or may not have much credibility. Sunscreen is crucial, the most important part of any skincare routine, so if a professional product makes you feel more comfortable, please purchase it. The best sunscreen is the one you’ll use daily!

Masks: either. I’ve used a $3 sheet mask with a better ingredient deck than the professional masks I was provided in school. Bentonite clay, which you can buy by the tub at the grocery store for under $10, works better than most professional masks. HOWEVER. There are some truly terrible OTC masks that contain horrifying ingredients, and there are some truly innovative professional masks that astound me.

Treatments: high-end to professional. Serums, targeted creams, etc. need high concentrations to work. You simply won’t find more than short-term, superficial results in a low-end, OTC treatment. This is where you should spend your money, as these products will be on your skin the longest.


Now, something I do completely agree with: only buying professional products from the professional offering them to you. If you are at a Paul Mitchell salon, buy your Paul Mitchell products from them. If you are at an Aveda spa, buy your Aveda products from them. Do not, I repeat, do not buy professional products from Amazon, Target, Walgreens, etc. These products have been watered down or are expired, and that’s how a retailer obtained access to them. You might as well buy well-formulated OTC products if you are not going to purchase pro products from the pros.

Do you prefer OTC skincare lines or professional? Why or why not? What are your favorite products that you repurchase, time and time again? Let me know in the comments below!


(Flynn Rider Image:

I’m Baaaaaaack!

Holy shit it’s been two months since my last post. I honestly did not mean to take such a long break, or even a break at all. I kind of forgot to put a post up one week and then another week and then another and then…yeah. Here we are.

I didn’t miss it at first. And that kind of made me sad. Even though I have less than a handful of followers, and I do not fit in with any blogger group, and I often look at my post ideas and think about what a fraud I am, I do get some sort of enjoyment out of writing these posts. And I couldn’t figure out why I didn’t want to run the blog anymore, or why I wasn’t missing it.

I was watching Mykie (Glam and Gore) and she was talking about getting a following on social media. I mostly had it on for background noise because I was considering abandoning the blogging thing entirely. But then she got to her last point which was “be yourself.” And she didn’t give the generic “be yourself on social media” speech that I keep hearing from blogging and lifestyle coaches/experts. She talked about what that means to her. To her, it means not having a posting schedule. That’s when I perked up and really started listening, because, as anyone knows, that is the first piece of advice anyone will give you. You HAVE to be on a schedule if you want to be successful. You might as well not even get started if you aren’t going to stick to a schedule. That is a big reason why I started to “break up” with the blog, with the idea of being The Punk Rock Esthetician. It doesn’t matter that I can autoschedule my posts. Sometimes I just do not feel like putting things up. I do not have any inspiration whatsoever.

She went on to list other ways she breaks the rules of success, and how it’s ultimately worked for her because she doesn’t feel like she’s doing anything she doesn’t want to. After watching Mykie’s video, I started writing this post. I realized that I only thought I was being my true self when it came to this, and yet, I was still obsessing over having a schedule, I was still pinning countless “rules to blogging success” articles on Pinterest and feeling so inadequate when they were overwhelming and didn’t resonate with me. I was still having a small breakdown each post over finding images and following someone else’s rules for success. And I mean, can you blame me? I’m the type of person who doesn’t want to do something if I’m not going to be successful. So I started to sort out the rules that don’t work for me, and how I’m going to break them:

  • No more scheduled posts. I could really identify with Mykie’s reasons why an editing schedule doesn’t work for her brand. And I can also understand why people suggest it. They use the TV program example: a show won’t be successful if it comes on at a different time on a different day every week. No one will know when to tune in. It makes sense to me, it does. And I tried it. And it doesn’t work for me. I’d rather put up quality articles every now and then, over so-so articles on the same day of the week every week in the name of being successful. And who knows? Maybe I still post every week. Maybe I only post once a month. I’m not going to dictate my creativity and inspiration anymore. I will write when I want to write.
  • No more images in posts when I’m not feeling it. Once again I understand why all the “gurus” suggest inserting an image every two paragraphs or so. But sometimes I just cannot find a visual representation of what I want to say. So, there may be an increase in text-only posts. I’d rather people skip a post because there’s “too much reading” than have shitty images ruining my vision.
  • No more word count limitations. A lot of blogging success articles will suggest limiting your word count. There are various reasons for giving this piece of advice, but usually it’s because they believe people don’t want to read too much. Well…IDGAF, quite honestly. I love writing. I love giving you guys as much information as possible. So, if it’s going to be a long one, I’ll put a summary in the beginning of the post. But I’m not going to edit myself down to shorter posts for the sake of readability. I feel like I’m cheating yall out of information when I do that!
  • Only recommending pro products. This is going to garner SO much hate from the esthetics community. From day one of any esthiology program, you are indoctrinated with the belief that only professional lines will get results. Probably only the professional line they provide will truly work. I’m sorry, that’s bull shit. As a professional, I know that professional products generally have a higher concentration of the “good stuff” and that’s why they (sometimes) work better. I know the benefits of going to see a professional esthetician who has access to stronger grade products than the average consumer. BUT. I am also a consumer. I am a consumer who lives paycheck to paycheck. Not only that, I am a disabled consumer, who is often unable to leave the house for days at a time, and needs to shop online. One day I’ll make a post entirely about pro vs. OTC products, but for now, I’ll say this: I’d rather provide recommendations based on accessibility than elitism. If you’re more likely to follow a skincare routine using products from Sephora or Target than you are to even try with pro products, I am here to give you the best advice possible.

I’m sure as I get back into this, things will continue to change. I’ll identify more rules that don’t work for me. And hey, maybe this will hurt my chances of success. Maybe I’ll never break more than 10 readers, maybe my blog will never be SEO optimized. But I’ll feel better about doing it. A huge thank you to everyone who’s still with me!



Ingredient Education Using Boscia Black


I started this post to be a product review, but as I got down to listing ingredients, I realized how LONG it would be. And that I couldn’t really edit it down, because I’m telling you things you need to know. I’m telling you how to break down an ingredient label. So-here’s what I’ll do. I’ll list whether or not the product is “good” below, based on the ingredient deck and concentration of active ingredients to preservatives and fillers. If you would like to see the full breakdown of each ingredient deck, and find out WHY a product is “good” or “bad”, keep going down to the section titled “The Claims.” I’m going to make this a two-part series because I don’t know how to make it all fit into one post nicely!

Product Review

I had to quit using the set when it dried my already dry skin out. This is because of the activated charcoal, which is what the line is centered around. It’s terrible for dry skin. So, I’m basing these reviews on ingredients, ingredient concentration, and price.

Detoxifying Black Cleanser: The ingredient deck is disappointing. LOTS of beneficial ingredients, but all at the bottom of the deck-meaning you aren’t getting very much of it. It’s also $28. I say skip on this one. It has a neat warming sensation and a nice texture, but that’s a lot of money to spend on something you’re going to wash off your face…especially when it’s mostly fillers.

Luminizing Black Mask: Once again, LOTS of fillers in higher concentration than the beneficial ingredients. It does contain ingredients that meet the claims, but I’m not sure you’d get long-lasting effects from it. It’s $38 and comes recommended by Allure and The Knot. Definitely try a sample of this one before spending the money on it. It has potential though!

In summation: If you’re wanting to stay away from preservatives and fillers, avoid this line. If they don’t bother you, try some samples before deciding if they are worth the purchase. I personally do not think they are worth the money given the fact that the “active ingredients” come in mid-deck.

The Claims

According to Boscia’s website, the Black Pore Perfecting Collection “minimizes pores, removes impurities, and eliminates excess oil with Activated Black Charcoal and Artichoke Leaf Extract.” Those…are some pretty big claims. I could write an entire book on how to refute cosmetic claims, but that’s for later, when I’ve built up some more credibility.

Here’s the thing about testing a product’s claims. They may be based on temporary effects as opposed to long-term results. Anyone can claim that a product works judging by appearances. But what it all comes down to is ingredients. Do the ingredients used to create the product produce the results promised? That is the best way to judge a product. If something claims to be anti-aging, and it doesn’t contain anti-aging ingredients, you immediately know it’s no good. So! Let’s look at the claims and match them to the active ingredients to see if they match up. My references are Boscia’s website, the Milady ingredients dictionary, and the ingredients dictionary listed in Paula Begoun’s book, The Best Skin of Your Life Starts Here.

Detoxifying Black Cleanser

Here are the skin benefits according to Boscia (all of the following is taken directly from their website):

  • Activated Charcoal: Absorbs excess oil and impurities, detoxifies, and exfoliates to refine the appearance of pores.
  • Artichoke Leaf Extract: Reduces the appearance of pore size by increasing skin elasticity; pore wall is less likely to stretch and retain debris. Inhibits hyperpigmentation and brightens the pore wall, also decreasing pore appearance.
  • Glycolic Acid: Improves the skin’s appearance and texture by accelerating the exfoliation process of the upper layer of the epidermis.
  • Vitamin C (Ascorbyl Glucoside): Helps brighten skintone and minimize fine lines as it defends against free radical damage.
  • Vitamin P (Alpha Glucosyl Hesperidin): The active component in citrus peel, helps enhance blood circulation to provide a warming sensation to the skin.
  • Licorice Root: Antioxidant that helps calm, soothe, and condition. Helps reduce hyperpigmentation and minimizes the appearance of dark spots by helping inhibit melanin synthesis.

Right off the bat, I’m skeptical because all of these beneficial ingredients come after the detergents and preservatives. That means that the beneficial ingredients are in lower concentration than the additives. Artichoke leaf extract, for instance, is the last ingredient in the deck, but the second listed benefit.

Glycereth-26 is a synthetic form of glycerin, which is the ingredient immediately after. Glycerin is a humectant and a generally great ingredient to have, as it’s water-binding and hydrating. Outside of moisturizers, it’s used to improve spreading qualities. The only concern here is that “it may be comedogenic and irritating to the mucous membranes when used in concentrated solutions,” according to Milady. So since it is the first ingredient, and therefore highly concentrated, it could be a problem. Sodium Cocoyl Glutamate is a mild cleansing agent that provides later. It’s derived from coconut fatty acid and glutamic acid (an amino acid). Polysorbate 20 is an emulsifier, solubilizer, and stabilizer often derived from lauric acid. Sodium Lauroyl Glutamate is a surfactant with some moisturizing properties and can be derived from vegetal raw materials, which may be the “natural” in “natural” products. PEG-120 Methyl Glucose Dioleate is a cleansing agent. Water is…well…water. Butylene Glycol is a solvent, antimicrobial, preservative enhancer, humectant, odor masker, and “viscosity controller”; it makes things slip.

Here’s where we get to the ingredients that the company is actually promoting. Glycolic acid is an AHA, derived from sugarcane but also produced synthetically, and exfoliates as well as hydrates (this meets the product’s claims). Charcoal powder is a bit tricky, as neither of my cosmetic ingredients dictionaries have it listed. And a quick Google search showed more beauty magazines talking about it than educational posts. But according to the Livestrong website, it is safe to use and matches the claims made by Boscia. Ascorbyl Glucoside is a form of vitamin C combined with glucose-this is NOT the same as ascorbic acid, which is the form of vitamin C that has antioxidant properties. So this is a little misleading and makes me side-eye Boscia. This is not to say that the ingredient isn’t beneficial! It does meet the claims made, it just will not act as the antioxidant that everyone immediately associates with vitamin C. Pelargonium Graveolens Flower Oil is rose geranium oil and serves as a perfuming and odor masking agent. Glucosyl Hesperidin is another tricky one because it wasn’t actually listed in either of my dictionaries. The closest I could get is hesperidin methyl chalcone which is a citrus bioflavinoid, extracted from the peel of sweet oranges and containing anti-oxidant properties. This must be the vitamin P they’re referencing in their benefits claim. I can’t say whether or not this matches their claim because I had honestly NEVER heard of it before seeing it listed on their website. Cue the side-eye. Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract is a miracle product in my humble opinion. It does everything Boscia boasts and more. I highly recommend finding products with this ingredient whenever possible. Epilobium Angustifolium Flower/Leaf/Stem Extract is, again, ambiguous. So, I’ll just directly quote the Milady dictionary: “a botanical with potential anti-microbial and anti-irritant properties. This is  member of the evening primrose family and is commonly known as willowherb or fireweed.” Ceteth-25 is honestly beyond my comprehension. I have no fuckin clue what this is or what it does. Oleth-10 is an emollient and stabilizer. Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Leaf Extract is a gorgeous moisturizer and all-around great ingredient, definitely look for it in your products. Xanthan Gum is a texturizer, carrier agent, gelling agent, stabilizer, and thickener. Finally we get to Cynara Scolymus (Artichoke) Leaf Extract. The benefits match the claims, however, since it is the last ingredient added, you aren’t going to get hardly any of these benefits. And that’s a disappointment.

Luminizing Black Mask

  • Boscia Peel-Off Mask Innovation: Provides “gap-free” delivery into the skin, giving immediate benefits and long-term results. Peel off removal provides extra refinement of skin texture.
  • Calcium Montmorillonite Clay: Absorbs excess oil, impurities, and toxins, gently exfoliates dead skin cells, and minimizes the appearance of pores instantly and over time.
  • Vitamin C (Ascorbyl Glucoside): Helps brighten skintone and minimize fine lines as it defends against free radical damage.
  • Maritime Pine Bark Extract: Improves skin elasticity and hydration, helping to prevent the first signs of aging. Provides antioxidant and soothing benefits.
  • Rosemary Leaf Extract: An effective antioxidant and anti-inflammatory that helps to firm skin and visibly reduce the appearance of pores. Has natural anti-bacterial benefits and aids in circulation.
  • Eucalyptus Extract: Provides antiseptic and antibacterial benefits, calms inflammation, and leaves skin invigorated.

One again, the awesome ingredients are in lower concentrations than I like to see them. This will be sitting on your face for about ten minutes, so you want to make it worth it, you know? Since I already broke down the cleanser ingredient deck, and a lot of the ingredients are the same, I’m only going to detail the ingredients I haven’t gone over yet. Those will be in bold!

Water/Aqua/Eau as the first ingredient is common, so even though I personally don’t like the practice, I won’t hold it against them. Polyvinyl Alcohol is a binder and film former, and increases viscosity. You know that vinyl feel your nail polish has? This is what gives it that. I’m going to assume it’s what’s responsible for the mask’s texture. Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Water is diluted witch hazel. I LOVE witch hazel because it is anti-inflammatory, astringent, and anti-free radical. It is anti-aging as well as regenerative. I imagine it’s included in the mask because of the tightening effect. Glycereth-26, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin. Acrylates/Palmeth-25 Acrylate Copolymer, in short, absorbs skin secretions. This removes shine and is the “excess oil removing” aspect of this product. It is also a time-released preservative. It can cause skin sensitivities in higher concentrations, so with it being in the middle of this deck, I don’t imagine it would be an issue for anyone but those with sensitive skin. Iron Oxides (Cl77499) are used to provide color; I’m guessing this is what gives the mask the black color, since it does not contain charcoal like the cleanser does. According to Paula Begoun, these are “closely regulated by the US FDA.” Quite simply, iron oxides are rust. This does not serve your skin at all and only acts as a colorant.  Pentylene Glycol is an alcohol with humectant and anti-bacterial properties. Montmorillonite is essentially bentonite clay. It’s an abrasive so it serves as the “scrubby” part of the mask. It stabilizes and increases viscosity. Acrylates Copolymer was already listed, so I’m not quite sure why it’s listed again-there must be two or more different copolymers used in this mask. Polysorbate 20. Lonicera Caprifolium (Honeysuckle) Flower Extract is healing, soothing, and anti-inflammatory. There are over 100 “strains” of honeysuckle used in cosmetics. Lonicera Japonica (Honeysuckle) Flower Extract, Epilobium Angustifolium Flower/Leaf/Stem Extract. Eucalyptus Globulus Leaf Extract has potential to be an allergen. But it’s also antiseptic, disinfectant, and anti-fungal, and increases blood circulation. It’s often used as a fragrance, and for its skin tightening properties. It’s important to remember that that tight skin effect is not permanent. Cosmetic companies use eucalyptus, witch hazel, etc. to temporarily tighten the skin so you feel like it’s working. Pinus Pinaster Bark Extract is pine oil. It was originally used as a solvent and a disinfectant, but it is also deodorizing, anti-bacterial, and anti-septic. Think PineSol. It may be irritating to the skin an mucous membranes, so definitely keep it away from your mouth, nose, eyes, etc. This particular ingredient makes me wary. Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Oil is wound-healing, astringent (there’s that skin-tightening effect again), toning, tonic, refreshing, stimulating, deodorant, anti-septic, reactivating, anti-bacterial, anti-microbial, softening, and invigorating. For something that does so much, shouldn’t it be in a higher concentration? I’m very disappointed that it’s so low on the list. Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Leaf Extract. Diglycerin is a synthetic skin conditioner and humectant. Xanthan Gum, Ascorbyl Glucoside. Sodium Hydroxide adjusts a products pH to make it more acceptable for the skin. It can be severely irritating to the skin if you aren’t careful with concentration. As the last ingredient in the deck, I think it’s safe.

Image source: Amazon


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Sleeping Beauty (Or why you really, really need your sleep)


I don’t know when the glorification of sleep deprivation came about. My guess is when we started glorifying busy. Getting less than 7 or 8 hours of sleep per night on purpose is NOT synonymous with productivity. Self-care is NOT synonymous with leisure, vanity, sloth, or whatever the hell else society has trained us to think. You NEED quality, restorative sleep for peak performance, and aren’t we all about peak performance these days?

The effects of sleep deprivation as a whole are innumerable. Irritability, compromised immune system, hindered critical thinking/balance/coordination/decision making skills-the list goes on. If you aren’t sleeping adequately, you aren’t functioning adequately. Simple as that.

But what does a lack of sleep do to your skin? For starters, it ages your skin. Now, I’m all for aging gracefully, and youth isn’t everything, but it IS something. According to WebMd (which I usually avoid at all costs…NOT EVERYTHING ENDS IN DEATH, WEBMD!), sallow skin and puffy eyes are present after just a few nights of missed sleep. But repeatedly? You’re signing yourself up for lackluster skin, fine lines, and dark circles under your eyes. Those anti-aging products won’t do shit if you’re skipping your sleep.

What’s more, lack of sleep leads to heightened cortisol production. And in excess, cortisol breaks down collagen, the protein that keeps your skin smooth and elastic. So, no sleep=cortisol=saggy face. Are habitual all-nighters really worth a saggy face? IS IT?!?! Back in 2011, this article from Life Extension detailed that “chronic insomnia inflicts significant damage to skin tissues that range from premature aging to disorders like eczema, psoriasis, and atopic dermatitis.” Your skin goes into repair mode when you sleep. For all the damage we do to our skin on a daily basis-environmental exposure, damaging ingredients in our products, dietary issues, stress-don’t we owe it to ourselves to do what we can to nourish ourselves, especially when all it takes is adequate sleep?

Don’t get me wrong, I know how hard it is to get consistent, restorative sleep. Chronic insomnia is just one of my several chronic conditions. And my skin has greatly suffered for it. Some things that help me fall asleep are sleepy time tea blends, white noise, ASMR videos on YouTube, and a certain illegal herb (sorry mom and dad). Try out a few things, find a ritual that works for you.

Nighttime Skincare Routine

There a few things you can do to maximize your sleep:

  1. Wash the day away. Proper cleansing is especially important before you go to sleep. You want to wash away all of the gunk that builds up throughout the day, so your pores are cleared and your skin cells are ready to regenerate.
  2. Exfoliate, exfoliate, exfoliate. In addition to giving you a thorough cleanse, it removes the dead skin cells that get in the way of your skin properly absorbing products. Unless, of course, you’re using a retinoid product that is constantly exfoliating. Then skip ahead!
  3. Mask it up. Nighttime is the best time to throw on a super soothing, hydrating mask. Double the sleep induction by taking a calming bath while the mask sits on your face.
  4. Apply retinoid products. These are best applied at night due to their collagen-building effects.
  5. Night cream isn’t just for old ladies. There are actually differences between an ideal daytime moisturizer and a nighttime moisturizer: the former should be lighter and contain a sunscreen, and the latter should have a thicker consistency. It should also contain antioxidants, peptides, and vitamin C. All of these things will repair the damage done to your skin throughout the day. A thicker night cream will also hydrate your skin after applying the drying retinoid.

Feel free to apply any serums, eye cream, etc. You really can’t overdo it at night!

That’s all I’ve got for now. See yall next Tuesday!


Image source:

Sleeping Beauty:



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What the F**k are AHAs and BHAs?


Something I really hate about the beauty industry is their tendency to over complicate things in the name of marketing gimmicks. Make the consumer feel dumb so they’ll buy the first thing they see. Before esthetics school, I had no idea what the difference between anything was, and I was often too intimidated by the “explanatory” articles I’d read to actually implement anything. My lack of a good skincare routine was just as much due to being overwhelmed as it was to lack of education and, if I’m being totally honest, laziness. I strive to simplify things, because I don’t think skincare should be this big ambiguous “for professionals only” thing. I’m fully in the “POWER TO THE PEOPLE!” camp. Or in my case, “GOOD SKIN TO THE PEOPLE!”

In my quest to simplify the skincare world so even I can understand it, I’m going to be breaking down the differences between AHAs and BHAs. Chances are, you’ve heard of these terms, but don’t really know what they are. Me neither! But put simply, they are forms of exfoliation. And of course, we know that exfoliation is necessary for our skin’s health and cell turnover. Exfoliation, when done properly, helps your hydrating products perform better, evens out your skin tone and texture, and generally makes everything look brighter and better. So, using that logic, you should really make it a skincare goal to understand which forms of exfoliation are best for you, and maybe make that portion of your skincare routine your bigger investment.

Okay so wtf are they?

AHAs and BHAs are acids used in chemical exfoliators. Here’s a table explaining the difference between the two:


So as you can see, the concept really is not as difficult as the beauty/skincare industry would have you believe. These are just two different categories of acids that exfoliate your skin in a chemical form. Simples, right?! Let’s simplify it even further by breaking down what each form is good for:


AHAs and BHAs are just one ingredient in a shitload of ingredients. But this one ingredient can change your skin dramatically, for the better. So, when shopping for a new chemical exfoliator, be sure sure to find one that contains a source of either AHA or BHA, depending on which addresses your concerns. It could be listed as simply as AHA/BHA, alpha hydroxy acid/beta hydroxy acid, or the specific acid being used-glycolic acid, lactic acid, or salicylic acid.

The “catch”

There are just a few things to consider before going out and buying the first thing you see containing one of these acids. AHAs can cause greater sun sensitivity, so be sure you’re using your sunscreen with it (every damn day!). AHAs and BHAs are of little to no use if you rinse them off, so don’t fall for marketing gimmicks and purchase a cleanser or mechanical exfoliator (scrub) containing them; keep it chemical in this case. Also, both are known to irritate the skin in higher concentrations, so you might need to do some adjusting until you’ve found the right product and “dosage”.

What other skincare terms mystify you? Let me know in the comments below, and I just might try to simplify it in a future post!


Hipster Ariel:

Table image:–AFhGlHTq7_Fz_ic1OhVC4ew=w506-h284

The Little Book of Skincare by Charlotte Cho

The Best Skin of Your Life Starts Here by Paula Begoun

Milady Skin Care and Cosmetic Ingredients Dictionary (4th edition) by M. Varina Michalun and Joseph C. Dinardo

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