Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Milani & Rimmel Haul

The other day, I had a few different coupons for CVS, so of course, I had to step in and take a look -- especially since I had been eyeing the new Milani Color Statement Moisture Matte Lipsticks. I love Milani's traditional Color Statement Lipsticks, so I was super excited for yet another drugstore brand to come out with a matte formula! I also had a couple of things that I actually needed to stock up on too, so I got those while I was at CVS as well, and I thought I would share it!

Starting out with the "boring" stuff, I had to get some face products from Rimmel. Well, really, I only bought one of the items in the picture. My Revlon PhotoReady Translucent Finisher is on its last legs, and I decided to finally try a new powder! I've used the Rimmel Stay Matte Powder on other people when I've done hair and makeup for various musicals, and I've always been happy with how it performed (buh dum tss). I finally decided to give it a try to myself! I've always been a little turned off by the packaging, but I figure, for the price, I might as well give it a try!

The other two things from Rimmel that I got were my favorite Rimmel Wake Me Up Concealer. Like I said, I didn't actually purchase these -- Andrew did. When I was back home, every single time I tried to purchase a new one, they were out of stock in my shade! And there's no place nearby here in North Carolina that sells it. So when I received a care package from Andrew the other day, I saw that he had sent me a new one, plus a backup! I had already bought the Maybelline Fit Me Concealer in an attempt to replace my Rimmel concealer, so I'll have to use that up before opening one of these, but I'm so glad I have extras now!

For the most part, I don't tend to purchase single eyeshadows. But I had heard good things about the Milani Bella Eyes Gel Powder Eyeshadow, so I thought I'd give it a whirl. The colors I purchased are Bella White and Bella Caffe, which are both a Satin-Matte finish. I would definitely say they lean more toward matte, but they are incredibly pigmented! It applies especially well with your fingers. For a matte, drugstore shadow, I'm totally impressed, and I'm definitely going to have to get my hands on more of these, especially since they have so many colors!

I'm so excited about these lipsticks! I literally sat in my room playing with them for an hour or so before I realized I should probably stop procrastinating and just do my homework... Anyways, the new Milani Moisture Matte Lipsticks are phenomenal. They're super creamy and apply like a breeze, but have that lovely matte finish after being on the lips for about 30 seconds. The shades I purchased of the Moisture Matte Lipsticks were "Matte Diva," a super vivid fuchsia color, "Matte Confident," a deeper, blue-toned red (think MAC's "Russian Red," but easier to apply!), and "Matte Orchid," which is similar to "Matte Diva," although a bit more deep and muted.

I also picked up one of their classic Color Statement Lipsticks in "Nude Creme," because my nude lipstick collection is pretty sad (as in, I have like, one or two nudes), and a Color Statement Lipliner in "True Red," because for whatever reason, I completely forgot I had just bought a red lipliner from NYX. Whoops.

What have you purchased lately? Is there anything in the drugstore that you have your eye on?

- D. 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Throwback Thursday + My Psoriasis Story

This is going to be a very long-winded post, as well as a post I've debated on typing for a very long time. But about a week ago, Andrew and I signed up for the Team NPF Walk in Orange County this June, and I decided it was time to talk about my battle with psoriasis. I'll also be included a few throwback photos during the time periods of my life that I'll be talking about to avoid such a huge wall of pictureless text!

If you don't know what psoriasis is, it's an autoimmune disorder that causes flaky, raised, red and silver patches on the skin. MayoClinic defines psoriasis as "a common skin condition that changes the life cycle of skin cells. Psoriasis causes cells to build up rapidly on the surface of the skin. The extra skin cells form thick, silvery scales and itchy, dry, red patches that are sometimes painful.
Psoriasis is a persistent, long-lasting (chronic) disease. There may be times when your psoriasis symptoms get better alternating with times your psoriasis worsens."

The general consensus of psoriasis is that it is caused when your T cells (a type of white blood cell) begin to attack healthy tissue, as if they've mistaken the healthy tissue for damaged tissue. If you've ever seen or heard the musical RENT, you'll probably have noticed they talk about T cells a lot (more specifically, in the song "Life Support"). That is because, people with AIDS have depleted T cells, which is why it is so dangerous for them to get sick. A bit of a tangent, but it's kind of just an example of why T cells are so important. Yes, it sucks that my T cells have begun attacking my healthy tissue, but a person needs them to survive. 

Anyway, when my T cells attack healthy tissue, my immune system responds as it normally would by swelling in the affected area. Because the T cells are attacking the healthy tissue, the healthy skin cells, T cells, and other white blood cells begin to reproduce rapidly, which creates the patches of skin, or "plaques," that you typically see on a person with psoriasis. Essentially, my skin cells turn over too quickly and it causes a back up that results in skin plaques in the affected area. I know, it's a little hard to understand and explain, but I really think that MayoClinic has done an amazing job of explaining it. 

Oh yeah, and not only does psoriasis have a physical effect on the body, but also a psychological. In fact, people with psoriasis are twice as likely to develop depression than those without.

So when I was young, maybe around 6 or 7 I had my very first outbreak of psoriasis. Of course, at the time, we didn't know it was psoriasis. It developed all over my scalp, and was incredibly itchy and irritated. It bled a lot, and because I was so young, I really struggled to understand that I shouldn't be scratching and picking at it. My mom applied a steroid cream to the plaques and after a few months of topical treatment, they healed up.

Here's a photo of me around the age it happened. Yep, that's me in the cow costume, getting ready for my school's Christmas play.

I thought that would be the last of it, but when I was 17, I developed plaques on my scalp again, this time around my hairline. I figured it was just dry skin, or eczema, so I applied lotion to it consistently and hoped it would go away. When it didn't, I thought maybe it was ringworm or something. Gross, yeah, but I couldn't think of what else it would be. My mom, who's a nurse, brought me an antifungal cream from the pharmacy and I used that for about a month. Absolutely nothing happened. I kind of just shrugged it off and started using the same steroid cream I used when I was a kid, and again, it went away. 

Fast forward just a couple of months, to when I was in beauty school. when suddenly, I noticed it coming back. This time, I also began to see it on the inner elbow area, behind my ears, as well as around the bikini line. Finally, I decided to do some extensive research, and found photos of psoriasis online. It looked exactly like the condition I had. I figured I would just keep using the steroid cream and be really careful about the products I used, and hopefully it would get better. I think the worst part, though, was that my friends in school were too scared to touch my hair because they "didn't want to hurt me" even when I said they wouldn't.

Here's a couple of pictures of me with some of my best friends during the early development of my psoriasis (featuring Ciarlene with her long hair, my sassy face, and the best hair of my life):

In the above photo, you can actually kind of see a weird random patch of skin in my bangs that embarrassingly enough almost looks like a bald spot. That was actually a cowlick caused by my psoriasis that I had never had until around that time! Seriously though, my hair looked so good during this time of my life.

Anyways! I left beauty school in August of that year, and finally, after months of dealing with the itchy scales on my skin, I decided to go to the doctor and get something done about it. It was also around this time that I met Andrew (cue photo from early in our relationship). At this point, my doctor prescribed me a topical oil. It worked alright at first, but I noticed after about a month or two of using it, it stopped being effective. So I went back to the doctor, and she recommended me to a dermatologist.

When I went to the dermatologist and told him I believed it was plaque psoriasis, he took one look at it and said "Yep, that's exactly what it looks like." He took a sample of it (gross) and prescribed me some other kind of topical medicine. Like the oil that my doctor prescribed, it worked for a little while, and then stopped after a month or two. That's when I decided to take things into my own hands and start looking for some homeopathic remedies. From hemp seed oil, to apple cider vinegar, to just a whole lot of itching and crying, I tried pretty much every remedy I could find on the internet. Hemp seed oil worked really well to soften my skin, which made it less irritated and swollen, but it didn't help entirely. However, I found that that was probably better than any of the medicine I was prescribed by doctors.

While I was living at home, I did oil treatments on the affected areas usually once a week or so. It worked, and, while tedious, it helped the symptoms. Then, just a few months ago, I got my wisdom teeth removed. I was hopped up on all kinds of pain medication (some of which resulted in some really great selfies), as well as some kind of antibiotic. During the time that I took the antibiotics, I noticed my psoriasis almost completely disappearing. I really wanted to believe that maybe this bout of fighting was over, but then, after doing some research, I found that antibiotics can either hurt or help psoriasis. In my case, it turned out that it helped, since it calmed the swelling. While scientifically, we're not really sure why antibiotics help psoriasis, I found that it did help a lot. For the week I was taking the antibiotics anyway. Once I was off the medication, it came back. I went back to hemp seed oil treatments and lots of Eucerin and Aquaphor. 

Now, a few months later, I'm living in North Carolina, where the winter is cold and the summer is humid. But something else I found here is much, much softer water. Apparently, back home in San Diego, we have some of the hardest water in the country. Here in North Carolina, we have some of the softest water in the country. After about two weeks of being here, I noticed a change in my psoriasis. It was less itchy, less red and swollen. Generally it was a lot calmer. Turns out, a study was done in the UK showed that 91% of subjects who used soft water found their skin to be less itchy. Less itchy = less irritation = less swelling, for the most part.

That brings me to now. My skin is much happier, but my condition is not gone by any means. I recently met a friend in my school who has psoriasis as well, and we have found a bit of a confidence in each other. I'm much more open about my condition now, and it actually really comforts me to be able to educate the people around me on my condition.

That's why I'm doing the Team NPF Walk in June, and I really need you guys to help support me. The walk that I am doing is not only a walk to raise awareness for people living with psoriatic disease, but to raise money for cure research, and to help those living with psoriatic disease get the health services they need. 

I don't by any means want to seem like I'm advertising for myself to seem like I'm this sad pitiful person who has some awful disease and I need help. I am posting my story here to create awareness, and to help others understand how autoimmune disorders can really affect a person's quality of life. 

If at all possible, it would mean so much to me if you could donate to my team, and if not, please share this post to spread awareness! 100% of the money donated goes to the National Psoriasis Foundation, and any little bit helps. 

I'll end this with one of my favorite poems about psoriasis that I found on Tumblr about a year ago.
I am glad that 
there is someone in the world
who doesn’t grimace at
black sheets.
I am reptilian in nature,
forever slithering in
the cracks and crevices
of things long
in vain hopes
to find
beauty among
the ruins.
the best love is always a little
- D. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Simple & Bronze

I've been hit with the winter blues :( it's always so cold and dreary here in North Carolina, and I'm definitely missing sunny San Diego. To help combat the winter blues, I decided to do an easy, simple look to really help start brightening up my makeup looks! Lately, I've been all about vamp vamp vamp. Edgy everything. Which of course, is kind of my thing, and has been for quite some time, but it's time to bust out some color! This look is great if you aren't ready to fully commit to crazy bright eyeshadows and punchy neon lips, and is simple enough for a casual girls' day out.

This look is incredibly simple, and hardly requires any eyeshadow at all! I started out by priming my lids with my MAC Studio Finish Concealer. Then, I set the concealer into place with my very well-loved Revlon PhotoReady Translucent Finishing Powder, using a fluffy brush to dusty the powder all over the lid. To add warmth and definition to the eyes, I used my Bahama Mama bronzer from TheBalm and rocked that gently into the crease. I didn't want to create a smokey look by any means, just a little bit of definition. Then, I went back in with my translucent powder and blended everything out, to create more of a diffused effect.

For my bronze liner, I used the Wet n Wild Eyeshadow Collection in "Comfort Zone." I used the leftmost eyelid color, which in the pan appears a bit more pink and rose gold than it really is, but when applied to the lid, it turns into this beautiful bronze shade! I spritzed an angled brush with my MAC Fix+ (but really, water will do just fine!) and, sticking to one side of the shadow as not to ruin the whole product, I created a paste-like mixture that is perfect for using as a cream liner! You can see in the picture where I dipped my wet brush. When using shadows wet, unless they are marketed as wet-or-dry shadows, I definitely recommend designating one spot for wet brushes, otherwise you could get a hard layer over the top of the shadows that is a pain to get through. 

To help make the subtle bronze liner pop even more, I went in with my Maybelline Line Stiletto Liquid Liner and created a super thin winged liner right underneath the bronze. When you add the black with the bronze, it really helps to give the look a little extra oomph! I tried to keep the lower lash line very clean and awake, so I used my NYX Slide On Pencil in "Pure White" along my lower waterline, as well as on the inner corner of my eyes to help brighten things up even more. For my lashes, I used my Mally Volumizing Mascara (which I totally forgot to grab when I was taking photos).

And yes, that red spot in the outer third of the whites of my eye is actually a birthmark.

For my skin, I chose to keep everything dewy and warm. I went back to an old favorite, my L'Oreal True Match Foundation. For blemishes, I went in using my MAC Studio Finish Concealer, and under my eyes, I used my Maybelline Fit Me Concealer (which, again, brilliant Danielle forgot to grab when taking photos). To set the concealer into place, I used the Anastasia "Banana" shade (which you can now buy as an individual!) from my Anastasia Contour Kit. I also set my T-zone with the Revlon PhotoReady Translucent Finishing Powder. I took my Bahama Mama bronzer and did a fairly light dusting on the points of my face that would naturally get tan, and also used this as a very light contour shade. For blush, I used my Milani Baked Blush in "Bella Rosa" which was totally overpowering on my fair skin. However, dark skinned girls? This blush will look amazing on you. For me, however, I ended up taking my Beauty Blender and really blending this blush out until it was just a faint rosy glow.

On my lips, I decided to go with something pretty bright. After all of the vampy lip looks I've been doing lately, this magenta color is absolutely lovely and definitely a change of pace! I used the Maybelline Creamy Matte Lipstick in "Mesmerizing Magenta" for the base color all over the lips, and then I went in with the Revlon ColorStay Moisture Stain in "Rio Rush" and took that just on the center of the lips to add a hint of shine.

I hope you enjoyed this look! I'm absolutely aching for the weather to warm up here, but we keep getting warnings of snow! I suppose a snow day wouldn't be too bad, right? ;)

- D.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

My Winter Pamper Essentials

During the winter, my skin gets so incredibly unhappy. Especially now, going to school in a place that is at least 20 degrees colder at any given time than back home in San Diego, my skin is just very temperamental. Not only does it get dry as the desert, but it also tends to get a little extra congested, making my pores bigger and more noticeable than any other time of year.

Once a week, I like to have a nice pamper day to help combat not only the winter cold's effects on my skin, but to wind down and remind myself that self-care is totally okay! If you are living in a colder environment, or just wanna get some hardcore moisture going on in your life, these products are definitely for you.

From left to right:
  • Lush's Self-Preserving Mask of Magnaminty. This stuff is amazing, and even better, it's self-preserving! I bought this mask back in December and it's supposed to last until April, which, if you're familiar with Lush's regular fresh face masks, is a long time! It really helps to clear out any clogged pores, and my skin looks so fresh and radiant after using it. Because of the aduki beans, this mask doubles as an exfoliant. When you wash it off, just rub it around in circles on your skin, and it'll slough off any of that dry, flaky winter skin!
  • Macadamia Deep Repair Masque. I tried to resist this hair mask for a long time, because it is pretty pricey. However, in one of my earlier Ulta trips, I grabbed a one-time-use size for $4, and I was completely hooked. My hair was so damaged and knotty because I bleached my hair early in 2013, and now that I use it once a week, my hair has never looked better! My hair is no longer damaged or brittle, and it keeps the dry winter frizz at bay.
  • Dr. Teal's Milk and Honey Epsom Salt. Usually when I have my pamper day, I like to take a nice, hot bath, especially with it being 40 degrees at the absolute highest most days. When I'm running my bath, I take a few handfuls of this Epsom salt and mix it into the water until it completely dissolves. Epsom salt is known for helping to relax minor aches and pains, which I definitely need most days, since I spend so much time hunched in front of a sewing machine! And the milk and honey in the mix not only smells amazing, but really hydrates my skin without making me feel oily or greasy when I get out of the bath.
  • The Body Shop Brazil Nut Body Butter. When I get out of the bath, I liked to use this body butter all over my body. It is a bit heavy, so I only use it before going to bed, so that I can allow it to fully soak in overnight. However, it smells absolutely incredible, and is super hydrating, as these body butters are known to be! 
  • Eucerin Skin Calming Daily Moisturizing Creme. This stuff is a godsend. During the winter especially, my psoriasis likes to completely freak out. It's not a fun time, and it actually really hurts. After I get out of the bath, I like to apply this lotion on any of my spots with psoriasis, as well as on my inner elbows, where I tend to get the occasional patches of eczema. Since I started using this lotion, my troubled skin has been so much happier!
What are your winter pamper essentials?

- D.