Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Oil cleansing-Moisturizer

I've been oil cleansing for over two months now.  I'm actually pretty proud of myself for sticking with it, since much of it requires me not being to lazy to; wash lots of hand towels, mix my own product, drive an hour to get said product that is located on a very busy street that I typically avoid at all costs, not skip nights that I stay up too late and have no energy (more nights than not), clean up messy oil spills, not cut short the process itself (i've been tempted to wash the oil off after with soap just so I can get to bed already).  Despite my lazy tendencies I've managed to keep up with the same routine.  I've even kept up with the charcoal masks every other week or so.  

I have been using Jojoba oil as a moisturizer, and while I like it, it doesn't really seem to be enough for my skin.  I have these small dry patches (which are of course oily at the same time).  So I started looking for a recipe to make my own moisturizer.  I found this blog Crunchy Betty.  This girl sells stuff on Etsy that looks amazing, but is also very free with her recipes.  In fact if you buy something from her, the recipe is included.  I decided to try my own thing and used her directions as a guide.  I went with a list of oils to look for (not knowing what would be available) and bought a few of the ones that looked the most promising to treat acne.  I also picked up a few dropper bottles so I could finally make myself a larger batch of cleanser (yay no more constant mixing) and also have a batch of moisturizer (now I don't have a million bottles of oil surrounding my sink).  

So the moisturizer.  Here's what I came up with.  I filled the bottle 2/3rds of the way with Jojoba oil (base oil).  Filled it almost the rest of the way with an even(ish) amount of Neem oil and Tamanu oil (extra nourishing bonus oil).  I finished it off with a few drops each of Peppermint oil and Rosemary oil (essential oil).  Mixing it was...well...lets just say the people who package these oils must not have thought about the oil leaving the bottle and what sort of mess it would make.  The Rosemary oil ended up being a little more than the few drops suggested, but not on purpose, and possibly a lot of that ended up all over my hands and table.  Nevertheless, I got it all in one bottle and mixed it up and the result felt quite nice on my face.  The smell though...Neem oil has a strong smell and is kind of like someone mashed up garlic and peanut butter.  I like both of those smells, but not so much together.  However maybe because I like them both its something I can tolerate.  I can see how some people wouldn't be able too though, kind of like me and trying to use vinegar in things without feeling like throwing up the whole time.

I don't know how much better this moisturizer will be than just straight Jojoba, but it felt good going on, and still does now hours later, so at the very least it can't be worse.  The cleanser is just a bigger batch of the same stuff I've been using.  I'm a little worried about the glass bottles because I'm a giant klutz and once I have oil on my hands...they've already had a few close calls just making it from the kitchen to the bathroom.  

The oil cleansing in general has been going well.  I'm thinking about changing up my routine to every night and normal cleanser in the mornings, but I think I want to see how my face reacts to this new moisturizer first.  I haven't seen any dramatic improvements in breakout quantity, but I do feel like they are a little more controlled now and maybe even aren't lasting quite as long.  They are still overlapping though so its not like I have had any perfectly clear days or weeks.  My skin health seems better.  For example, even though I still feel a little oily sometimes its not as bad  And my whole face seems to be doing the same things instead of the usual, dry over here, drowning in oil over there...with exception of my neck thats decided to go through puberty again since it skipped the fun when it was actually happening.  

A couple of big things I've noticed though.  I've had pretty much non stop cystic acne in four places on my face.  Two on each side of my face on my cheek bones and then two under my chin on the sides (pretty much right where my hair starts to hide things)  I can't even remember the time when I haven't had anything in those four places, but they are actually clearing up.  The ones under my chin were pretty big (but well hidden thankfully unless I spent much time looking up) they're still sort of there, discoloration, and kind of looking inflamed, but the swollen feeling (like there's something huge just under the surface that will never actually come out) is mostly gone.  The spots on my cheeks weren't as bad but have been there longer.  They have actually completely cleared up once or twice.  I think this is enough for me to say that oil cleansing is having a positive effect.  It might not be a miracle cure, but I never really expected it to be.  I said in the beginning if it only didn't get worse it would still be worth it.  Well, if the worst places on my face are getting better (even if the rest only slightly better or the same) then I would say its a success.  At least for now...

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Oil cleansing

In fifth grade we learned about acne and its causes out of an ancient health book.  I remember where I was sitting, on the third row from the right near the back of the room.  This is strange because I have a horrible memory.  I have this same memory about all the important first lessons though, math, letters, phonics, cursive, algebra, even when I first learned about time and years (1989, first grade, second row from the left, second desk back).  Why I can remember strange details like this and not what I did last week is beyond me.

So I was in this health class, looking at all these drawings that were done in the seventies.  First of face shapes (I didn't think I had any of them), and then a few pages later, different kinds of acne and what caused it.  The basic idea was keeping your skin clean, eating healthy food, and not touching your face.  I remember the part about not touching your face the most.  That was the day I started training myself not to sit with my face in my hands.  I was a girl that took things I learned seriously.  When people told me I didn't want to grow up, I believed them and began to seriously worry about it.  When I learned about varicose veins (in the same class) I made a concerted effort to sit correctly.  When we learned etiquette (not even as part of a class, just because my teacher felt like we should know) I started making sure I didn't put my elbows on other peoples dinner tables.  When I learned to keep my hands away from my face and to keep it oil free by cleaning it regularly, I took it seriously.  I had seen acne and didn't want to get it, so it seemed like good advice at the time. 

It wasn't completely wrong.  Keeping my hands away from my face was a good habit to learn.  Even washing it, I think, was a good lesson.  I wasn't what you'd call the cleanest person in the world.  I went from taking a bath or shower once or twice a week and my sister helping me with my hair when it was too gross for her to even look at, to showering twice a day and actually styling my hair myself in the course of a year...I think it was this year, the year I learned about cleanliness and also started playing basketball (a mistake that only lasted a year) and didn't like how sweaty I was when I got home.

So far I have to say the book was wrong about oil.  Oil hasn't made me break out (yet).  I've had a breakout, but the oil wasn't the cause and it didn't make it worse.  The texture of my skin is better.  Before, I don't think there was any part of my face that I could touch without it feeling bumpy, whether it had any obvious reason to be or not.  There are still some areas that feel that way, but its much smoother.  The process has stayed the same, and there's nothing new to report.  I am learning to like the smell more though (tea tree oil mostly).

Here's what's new.  I decided to stop using regular moisturizer even on my off days.  I thought I really wouldn't like it.  The first day I felt like it was too oily, and was thinking I'd been right, and also kind of missing the clean feeling I usually have right after cleaning my face.  After a few hours though, I realized that it was just taking longer to soak into my skin.  When it did the oily feeling went away, and my skin felt less oily than a few hours after moisturizer.  My moisturizer soaks into my skin fairly quickly and makes a good base for makeup so I didn't really expect this.  Its not like I haven't gone without moisturizer before, in fact, it's only fairly recently that I broke down and bought a decent one so that I could use it every day hoping that it was part of my problem.  That would be my oily skin that still manages to peal and look like its dry.  It didn't seem like the moisturizer was making my skin more oily, and my skin did stop pealing for the most part, so why would this be a problem?  The only thing I can think of is that the jojoba oil is helping my skin regulate itself better.  It is easy to put too much on, so I do have to be careful, but it doesn't stay too oily for long.  I just have to wait awhile before putting makeup on and then its fine.  


Its okay

You might as well say it...

Friday, April 19, 2013

Pictures from Victoria

On the way to Craigdarroch castle, someone built onto the older wall and made cute steps into their garden.  I think it must be enchanted.

At the castle, staring into the sun...the only sun we got the whole day in fact, perfect timing of course.

This window reminds me of the fairy tale about the girl and the geese, so of course I loved it.

After seeing the drawing room I decided I wanted to live there.  The picture with the lion is just part of the painting that was on the ceiling.  I fell in love.  Why don't we paint murals on our ceilings anymore?

So this castle, wasn't really suppose to be a castle, but since it looked like one and is so huge, everyone started calling it that.  It has four beautiful floors and a tower.  Tons of amazing woodwork, paintings, stained glass, and interesting historical tidbits.  It was definitely worth the half hour walk (uphill, should have known they'd put it on the highest point).

The pictures of animals were part of my favorite exhibit in the Museum.  It was very realistic.  It looked like a forest that opened up to a beach off in the distance.  Its possible that since this is the biggest museum I've ever been too my expectations were set a little lower than they should be, but it was very strange to suddenly walk from a dark room with things I expected to see into a forest.  For a second I thought I'd found a magical portal...

Thats it.  I didn't take very many, and even fewer with people but thats just the kind of pictures I take I guess.  It didn't help that it was rainy and cold, so I wasn't very motivated to keep my hands out of my pockets and ready to take a picture.  Also, it seems weird to always be asking people to take pictures of me...

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Oil cleansing-Day I'm not going to try to count anymore.

Last weekend I went to Victoria B.C. and in walking around the city exploring, we suddenly came upon this beautiful cathedral.  It was sunday morning, and it looked like there was probably service going on, so we didn't go in.  But the sun was rising behind it, and I couldn't help but be the typical tourist and stop in the middle of the street to take a few pictures.  I love stained glass windows, and I can only imagine what this one looks like when the sun is on the other side of the sky, shining straight through it.  What does this have to do with my skin?  Not much.  I'm not going to try to say my skin is a stained glass window just waiting for the sun to be in the right position in the sky to start glowing.  However, there is something about this picture.  The sun just out of reach.  The old building permanently dirty from too much rain, and age.  Even the filter I gave it that caused some dark spots.  Its still beautiful with all those things.  Its still lovingly cared for by the people who call it their own.  

I once had someone tell me my acne, and the scars that came along with it, gave my face more character and they liked it that way.  At the time I thought they were just being nice.  I don't know how it even came up.  I'm not the type to put myself down in front of others, because its typically interpreted as fishing for complements (not to mention unhealthy for my mental well being).  Sometimes, though, I slip up and say things that are just truths to me.  I say them as facts, feeling nothing about them (I have, after all, lived with these scars for quite some time, until I realize too late that it won't be taken that way.  I think thats what happened here, and thats why I assumed the person was just being polite and giving me the supposedly fished for complement.  It's something that I've thought a lot about since then though.  I don't necessarily have to hate my skin because its not perfect.  Its my skin, and its not going to change, and I don't really want it to look like plaster or like the photoshopped images we've all been trained to strive for.  I guess my point here is that I'm trying to accept the way I look more as I get older.  These scars aren't going away whether my acne does or not.  In fact they'll probably only get worse when they're deepened by lines.  I would like avoid getting any more, but I think I can be okay with the ones I have too.  I'm never going to have perfect porcelain skin, and possibly never even clear skin.  I could also say that I will never look average.  I'll never fit into someone else's box of expectations.  Isn't this something I always strive for?  I don't like things that are overly popular, and once everyone else starts doing it, thats typically when I stop.  So why can't this apply to my skin too.  I know, I know, in reality I can apply it to everything and in the end its just learning to be happy with who I am now.  I've tried working from the inside out though, so maybe this time I'll just start with my skin.

Monday I washed my face with oil.  I was especially tired, but managed to get through the whole process without cutting corners.  I'm actually breaking out slightly, so that was my motivation not to hurry through it or skip anything.  There's not really anything new to report about the actual washing part.  It continues to take a long time to get all the oil off, no matter how hot I make the water.  I have gotten better at getting it off though, and I feel like I'm getting faster out of having something of a process.  I don't feel like my face is any less oily than it ever has been at this point.  I don't know if its because I don't do it every day, or maybe because I still moisturize on days that I don't do it, or maybe its still just too early to tell.  I still like the texture of my skin right now.  It doesn't seem so clogged and unhealthy looking.  The breakout I am having is miles away from being as bad as the last one that's still healing.  I do have a spot on my neck that has gotten pretty bad, but I don't remember if it was there before and just got more irritated or if its new.  

I think part of the breakout problem is that I didn't take my Clarisonic with me, so on the days that I would normally be exfoliating, I really only had towels to use.  The other things that could have contributed were, being in a city with more pollution than my house in the country, a different climate, limited options for food (since apparently only rich people eat out in Victoria), and more people around causing me to have more stress.  

It seems a little better now that I'm home and back on the rest of my routine, but the breakout hasn't stopped yet so we'll see how far it goes.  It's good to see that the process I set up for myself was a good one though.  Sadly, while I remembered to figure out a way to take the oil with me, I completely forgot to grab the Clarisonic and blue light for the other days.  I guess I need to remember that, while they aren't new, they are still part of this experiment and apparently, shouldn't be left out.  

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Oil cleansing- day 7

Yes, what you see there is oil in a contact case. Let the nightmares about accidentally putting my contacts in oil and being blind commence. I had to find a way to keep doing it even though I wouldn't be at home. Since this process involves about four different bottles of oil, I needed something to put just enough for one night in. I looked around at Fred Meyer and Target with no luck...everything was too big or wouldn't seal. So, in a moment of inspiration I realized I had something that was the perfect size and would seal tight. A contact case.

The oil cleansing went well at the hotel. I definitely like using other people's towels so I don't have to clean them. It had been kind of a long day and I had to be up early the next morning so I felt a little like skipping it. I stuck to my plan though and made it through the process, while realizing I wasn't too fond of the washing off part. It takes a long time, and I'm impatient and usually just want to hurry up and get to bed. I'm glad I'm not doing it every night.

I really do think the texture of my skin is improving. Between this and the charcoal mask my current breakout seems to be healing up ok and my face isn't dry like the rest of my body, so I think that's a good sign. So far I'm encouraged with my results and that will motivate me to keep it up.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Charcoal Mask

Activated charcoal.  Its good for so many things, but the basic idea is that it draws out toxins and traps them.  Its used in hospitals to treat some poisonings, can be taken internally (with caution) to clean up the colon, and applied to wounds to draw out and prevent infection.  My first experience with it was when I was little and got ear infections.  My mom would make a poultice, strap it to my head with some cloth, and make me lay on it until the infection had been drawn out.  It always worked (the things you learn growing up without health insurance!) and now its one of the few natural remedy ingredients that I keep on hand.  There's not a lot of information on whether or not it treats acne.  I would guess not, since many things cause acne, and especially hormones can't be treated this way. There is a lot of stuff coming into contact with our skin on a daily basis though.  Makeup, pollution, chemicals, things we touch with our hands and then touch our face, bacteria from our phones and other things that must be there that I don't want to even think about.  This is why I think charcoal can be helpful.  While it can't treat the underlying cause of acne, it can certainly get rid of the extra stuff that will definitely be irritating my already sensitive inflamed skin.  Also, it helps wounds keep out infection so why can't it help my skin heal faster after a breakout?  

I actually have tried the charcoal mask before, and liked it, but it gets very messy.  Things that make me have to clean more tend to not get done very often.  Since I've decided to add it to my current experimental new treatment, however, I'm going to have to just deal with the mess and see if its truly worth it.  

Activated charcoal is special.  I didn't just scrape some off the bottom of my toaster oven and grill and call it good!  This charcoal is made in a special way, usually using coconut shells or vegetable fiber, that creates tons of tiny pores all over it for the toxins to get trapped in.  It's very small particles and I always find it all over the place after I'm done because it just gets everywhere.  Its not easy to wash off and if you apply it to an open would it could actually have a tattooing affect that takes awhile to come out.  It only works while its wet so leaving it on for a really long time doesn't really work unless you plan to moisten it with a warm cloth every so often.  

I added some aloe vera gel, water, tea tree oil, rose hip oil, jojoba oil, and mixed it into a paste.  The recipe's I found online usually used rose water, and initially I had some but I don't know what happened to it, and I think regular water (maybe filtered so the charcoal isn't also removing things from that) works just as well.  I mixed it up (carefully because, seriously, have I mentioned it gets everywhere?) and applied the paste to my face and neck and then took a hot bath while it did its job.  A black sink, cloth and hands later, and my face feels very clean.  Maybe its my imagination but charcoal is something I have lots of confidence in, so I do think my face is healthier after the mask.  Inflammation seems less red, white heads seem smaller and fewer, even black heads seem to have been reduced which I'm not really getting with the oil cleansing.  I sprayed a witch hazel toner on it afterwards and used a little moisturizer, and called it good.  Now I just have to be consistent and see if using this once a week or so is helpful.