Favorite Things Part 2: Bangs and Blemishes

No, seriously about the blemishes – about a month ago, my chin decided to re-visit high school and break out. Actually that’s not accurate, because I didn’t have acne in high school (luckily), but I did start occasionally getting cystic acne on my chin starting in my early 30’s. When it began, I was at a loss as to how to deal with it,  but the internet helped me out and I learned how to handle the outbreaks, so much so that they diminished in time and aside from the occasional one or two cysts that would pop up on my chin throughout the year (at the most) the situation resolved itself and we all moved on.

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Until this summer, when first one but then a second cyst appeared on my chin. Okay, no big deal, I’ve been here before – apply my home remedy of Vick’s Vapo-Rub on the spot when at home (best to get it on there as soon as I feel it coming in; timing does seem to make a difference) and my Origins Spot Treatment underneath my makeup throughout the day. If I caught the spot early, it would be red and sore for a few days, then shrink away without ever growing huge and unsightly. But sometimes I didn’t catch it early enough, and man, that spot could turn ugly. For the most part the entire process might last a week or up to 10 days, and I was always careful never to ‘extract’ them myself no matter how tempting it might have been and just slapped makeup over them and gotten on with my life. It’s just a spot after all, and I’m hardly going to complain about the occasional ONE I get given what some people struggle with in this area.

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But this time, one spot showed up, got huge, started to die down, and immediately a second one popped up on the other side of my chin. That one showed up, got huge, started to die down, and then THE FIRST ONE CAME BACK. So, more Vapo-Rub and Spot Treatment, same routine, and when it started to die down – THE SECOND ONE RETURNED. It was at this point I realized I was going to have to do some more research and find a better solution.

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It’s on my face, unfortunately. And it’s not alone.

The first thing I learned was that recurring spots like this are not uncommon. It usually means a pore is clogged that has not cleared, so you treat the cyst at the surface but it never really goes away (cystic acne is deep beneath the skin anyway). So I knew I was going to have to commit to a longer-term treatment for whatever was going on with my chinny-chin-chin.

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The good news is that in my researching I discovered a whopper of a treatment that seems to be working so far. It’s called La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo; this stuff packs a wallop at 5.5% benzoyl peroxide; you can certainly get higher concentrations, but I don’t think you can go much higher without a prescription – I know I’ve never used anything higher than 2.4% in the past. Being me, I didn’t actually read the ingredients when I got a tube of it in, just smeared it all over my chin in the hopes that it would work. Needless to say, I managed to burn my chin-skin a bit – it would have been far worse if  my skin was not already acclimated to BP, and if I didn’t already know that putting moisturizer over it was essential (oftentimes with acne people don’t want to moisturize, thinking it will make the skin oily and therefore more prone to breakouts, but in reality irritation from dryness can make acne worse, so moisturizing in conjunction with using a treatment is important). In the end I experienced some burning the first few days and a light round of peeling, but the damage was minimal. However, I do not recommend anyone else do this! Start very small with this product; if you really dry out or irritate your skin you’ll have to stop using the treatment until that clears up, which just sets you back even further.

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For a moisturizer, I also went with La Roche-Posay, because why not. I’ve also purchased but not yet received their cleanser and toner. Clearly I need a full arsenal right now.

While the RP went to work effectively reducing the two current spots I had, MORE started to emerge. In face, I am finding a new cyst daily. This has never happened to me before, and I’m assuming it’s happening because this stuff is working to clear out my sad, sorry pores. I’ll feel the spots appearing (they hurt) but they so far are not getting to be more than fairly small red bumps and then they shrink away. So while I can read Braille on my chin at this point, when looking at me you don’t see much of anything – I’ll take that over having even just one huge cyst that grows eyes and glares out at people from my face.

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Artist’s rendition of my chin

But the question remains – why did this happen? Hormones are always a possibility, but when I sat down to think through why this might be going on, I realized a few sad things about my current skin care regimen. Mainly that it had disappeared. Once I quit working and summer came, I would go days without wearing any makeup at all, and without choosing to do it consciously, I would forgo washing my face at all on days I didn’t have makeup to remove. So, I was easily going 2-3 days without giving my face a decent scrub. I was also not applying moisturizer, which contributed to the skin irritation. For some reason I’d also gotten lazy and started using moisturizing wash cloths whenever I DID wash my face, instead of good old soap and water, and in my opinion those cloths are fine as a second swipe after a good go with a foaming cleanser, but on their own they don’t do much to take off a full face of makeup. And also – and this SO is awful, I know – I realized I had not washed any of my makeup brushes or sponges since, like, erm…December? January? I know, I know – it’s horrible, but it’s how I roll.

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Artist’s rendition of one of my makeup brushes in the wild

So basically, there were all sorts reasons for my skin to get out of whack, and then add in the stress that was the end of my school year and it’s no wonder I went all Spot City on myself. But, I did also discover a new foundation I love – when reading about treatments I read a lot about Vichy DermaFinish, which I do not think is the same as DermaBlend, by the way. Anyway, lots of women recommended it to cover acne, so I figured if I was going to be stuck with spots for a while I’d try it out. Oddly, it only comes in four shades, but I took my best guess and ended up with a perfect match for my skin. It is high coverage, of course, but I’m an 80’s girl at heart, which means I’ve never much been into the natural look when it comes to foundation anyway. I always wanted my skin to be a fully coated, evenly toned canvas, thankyouverymuch, dewy skin be damned, and I want a powder that renders it matte to boot (Laura Mercier’s Translucent powder is the jam). DermaFinish is the business for full coverage foundation – I can even use it on my neck to conceal sun damage and it actually works. Unlike full coverage DermaBlend, it does not feel heavy, and you do not need to apply much for it to cover your skin. I made a few videos today, too, and when I viewed them later I noticed it looked great on camera and does appear to match my skin tone quite well. And yes, it helps to cover up the spots, along with the DermaFinish concealer I also picked up.

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So, having cystic chin acne isn’t fun, but at least I  am learning from mine. The spots are still working their way through whatever it is they need to work through before they disappear, but so far they’re not becoming very visible, which is great. And after the first few applications my skin adjusted to the LRP so now I can apply it three times a day without feeling it. I’m putting it over the whole chin area now, as a preventative measure, so we’ll see how that turns out.

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Now, hair. I do want to share this amazing curling wand I paid way too much for but really do love – it is called The Bombshell Cone Rod Curling Iron by Sultra – which is quite a name – and I paid $102 for it at Amazon. I have never been able to use a regular curling iron, or hot rollers, or any implement to put curl in my hair – hence my perm a few summers ago (I admit that on occasion I miss those curls, and my hair is so much longer now…yeah, I get tempted). And I’d tried a few wands before, but I couldn’t get the hang of using them to create the beachy waves everyone else seems to sport without effort. My first attempt was with another highly reviewed wand by ConAir that costs about $30 – it was pink and I can’t recall what it was called now – but the problem with it was that my baby-fine hair would just slip off the little wand unless I held it there tightly, which, if you’ve used these wands before, often leads to burning the living hell out of your fingers or hands. I actually have a permanent scar from one of the burns I got trying to keep my hair curled around the ConAir one, and the Bombshell has bumps all over it that work like grooves to hold the hair in place after you wind it around the cone.

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Now go back and re-read that paragraph from this perspective

I wasn’t sure this would really work, but when I got mine and started using it I did, in fact, find keeping the hair wound on the rod was easy, and it didn’t seem to get as hot as the ConAir one did, although in reality I think it reaches the same temperature. The material the wand is made out of just feels cooler, which could be a placebo effect of paying so much more for it, who knows.

As far as figuring out how to use it, I finally realized what I needed to do what keep the damn thing turned off and just PRACTICE wrapping my hair around it the proper way. I am spatially challenged to a ridiculous degree, so figuring out which hand needed to hold the wand and which one needed to do the hair-wrapping was a real nightmare for me, and trying to figure that out while the wand was hot was risky and how I got burned so many times with other models. I also discovered that with the natural body I have in my hair, I can wash it at night and let it air-dry to keep some wave to it, then in the morning just use the wand around the top layer of my hair for added wave; no need to work in layers and curl every single hair on my head or anything. It still takes longer than flat-ironing, but not by much, and the fullness it gives my hair really is helpful.

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The gloves are a lie. No one uses them. And that phrase only works if you’re covering your ARM. 

I also learned that with this wavy style, I have to stop curling it while it still looks crappy, and wait about ten minutes for it to fall into place. I kept trying to perfect the look the first several times I tried, and would get more and more frustrated as I couldn’t get it ‘perfect.’ It really does look like crap while I’m styling it, and even right after, but by the time I go get dressed and add some styling spray wax (which I prefer over hair spray as it’s more moldable and soft) and Moroccan Oil on the ends, it looks nice and natural. I’ve been attempting to create a beach wave in my hair for about two years now, so it’s a miracle I’ve finally figured this out!

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So this post really wasn’t about bangs at all, but I wanted to alliterate with the blemishes. But it was a bit about hair. I promise handbags will be up next! Also coming up: RuPaul’s Drag Race All-Stars! I am still pissed that they shortened the otherwise amazing Season 8 to compensate for filming an All Stars 2, but any time Alyssa Edwards is back on television I’m there with bells on. And glitter. I bet you were wondering why she kept appearing in this post, didn’t you?

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9 thoughts on “Favorite Things Part 2: Bangs and Blemishes

  1. Pingback: Video Wig Review: Cesca by Bohemian in TT8/804 | mareymercy.

  2. Have you ever browsed skincareaddiction on Reddit? Super info! Also I was reading recently that you can ask your derm for a cortisone shot for the deeper ones.

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