Thing 20: Masks

It’s definitely a year for masks. Wear a mask to protect others and yourself. The CDC has a lot of mask guidance for coronavirus, and I honestly look forward to mask wearing being more normalized when people are sick for years to come. If you’re running low, there are lots of small businesses making masks. If you don’t know anyone locally, just search Etsy!

And even though we spend all our time hiding our face, you still need to take care of your skin. Enter a different mask; the skincare mask. I am sort of obsessed with skincare, and love to give my face a special treat. Meet Onå, which means “she” in Slavic languages. Onå is a skin care line made without sulfates, parabens, formaldehyde, artificial coloring, dimethicone, mineral oil, or phthalates, so it is perfect for any skin type.

I may have been charmed by their masks originally due to the branding (hello airplane), but I kept using them because they make my face feel incredible. The gold shimmer feels extremely regal and special too. Megan in Lakewood has an Airplane Mode and a Spotlight mask coming her way this week.

Mask up, stay safe. And give your face a treat too.

🚺 Woman owned 

Tria Laser

A year ago, I purchased the Tria Hair Removal Laser 4X. It is a pricey tool for sure, but the time, pain, and money spent on my own hair removal made me decide to take the plunge.

My backstory: I have super sensitive and very fair skin. When I shave, especially sensitive areas such as my bikini line or armpits, I always end up with irritation and often ingrown hairs. When I wax, the irritation with hair regrowth in is even worse; even if I am dedicated in using my signature after-depilatory cocktail of equal parts antibiotic ointment, hydrocortisone cream, and night cream daily after showering. And honestly- the resources wasted by shaving and waxing are astounding!

So, laser seemed like a good option. But professional laser removal is not only VERY expensive, you cannot do it at your leisure from your couch while watching Law & Order reruns. Since I struggle to schedule regular hair appointments for my head, I was even less confident in my determination to do so for my pubes. After some research and an enthusiastic recommendation from a friend’s sister, I purchased one on Amazon Prime Day for $332.*

Who can remove: My first reading of the pamphlet made me scream “Is this thing racist?!” and reader, it kind of is. You must have light colored skin, and the hair being removed cannot be blonde, red, or white/gray. This has to do with the pigments affected by the wavelength of the lasers used. Tria’s website provides the following chart:

Any skin to the right of the selection (or hair color to the left) is marked as not suitable for Tria. For me, this meant that Tria would not work on the blonde hair on my arms, face, and several other parts. Here is some information about the growing options for hair removal with darker skin, and possible upcoming solutions for laser removal of light colored hairs.

The removal: The Tria device looks like the baby of a hair dryer and a dental curing light. You have to unlock it by placing the bottom of the unit on skin that is a shade impacted by the laser’s wavelength. Once unlocked, you select levels 1-5, with 5 being the most intense. And it is intense. Getting zapped in sensitive areas with a laser is not fun, but for some reason the pain level mostly made me burst out in awkward laughter. But it does hurt!

I decided to test the device out on my big toes. I figure- what is the worst that could happen to my toe? To prepare for hair removal, you can’t wax or tweeze  (or any method that removes hair from the root) for several weeks, but you do need to be freshly shaven. It is super easy to use: you simply place the circular laser area on your skin and it gives you a happy beep and you continue moving along (overlapping the treatment area), or a sad beep and you try again.

My freshly shaved toes handled the laser like a champ and I decided to try out my bikini line; just the area that would show outside of regular swimwear (not this far). The pamphlet said the higher the level used, the fewer treatments would be needed.  I was breezing away on level four when suddenly “!*$%@ oww!!” I will tell you that you skin sensitivities can DRASTICALLY vary within an inch.

The results: My outer bikini line was basically totally compete after four treatments. There were about 15 hairs on either side that didn’t seem to take, so I began marking those with a peach colored Sharpie before shaving, and focusing  my removal on just those areas. A few more treatments and then…the dream. I finally can pack whatever swimwear I want for a multi-day swim trip, instead of wondering what will cover my seemingly diseased skin, as it would assuredly become red and irritated 48 hours after hair removal.

You can treat every two weeks but I was busy and/or lazy and it took me way longer than the minimum amount of time. Part of the reason why was that after a few treatments, the hair is much more thin and takes so long to grow back that I didn’t think about it.

Ongoing: I decided to move the laser in and am now doing an even more sensitive area. I COULD NOT handle it on more than level 1, and I was expecting to need something like 15 sessions to get permanent results. Then a Nicole Cliffe tweet clued me in to lidocaine. You can buy 4% over the counter at a pharmacy, but there are creams available up to 20% with a prescription. Rub a bunch of that on your intended area, wait 20 minutes, and you can level up like a champ. It is a little messier, and I recommend having a towel handy to wipe off the laser head if you’re using a cream, but it changes everything.

Overall: If you have unwanted hair and $400 and have an applicable hair/skin combo…go for it. I am so happy and so much less bumpy. If you love your body/facial hair, or are unsure, please embrace it! Hair removal is a very personal choice and you should be sure before going with something as permanent as a laser. I do hear that some people grow hair that has been laser removed back during pregnancy though…

*I am not participating in Prime Day this year due to striking workers and am attempting to purchase less on Amazon in general due to my growing knowledge of their warehouse conditions

 

 

 

 

The Full Routine

I’m back! Turns out, my fun holiday giveaway plan turned into a great way to organize my thoughts and semi-frequently sought advice.  I will be writing about products, places, routines, and who knows what else.

Mid OG Favorite Things, my amazing sister asked me to detail out my full skincare routine. I, an ever responsive sibling, am finally doing so months later.

Like so much of America, I got really into skincare in 2016; if you can’t control your environment, maybe you can control your face! However, I’ve been fairly into skin products for about six years, mostly discovering from Birchbox or listicles.  I must admit that I haven’t actually gone to a Sephora (or similar) to browse in more than 10 years. Those places stress me out. Plus, I cannot say no to an attractive woman with a promising serum so it is also DANGEROUS.

Obvious disclaimer: everyone has different skin, and to discover your own secret lotion potion, sample, sample, sample. Many companies allow you to choose a few free samples at checkout. Sometimes you might need more than one sample to figure out if it’s worth it! Purchase travel and trial sizes if they’re available. You don’t want to be left with $80 worth of serum that does nothing for you, even if everyone online raved about it.

With all that, here is my routine:

Cleanse! Morning and night 

I talked in this post about my cleansers, which are:
Low-pH Good Morning Cleanser
Face Shop Natural Rice Water Light Cleansing Oil,
Cerave Hydrating Facial Cleanser,
GLYTONE Acne Self-Foaming Cleanser

Mornings are almost always dedicated to the Good Morning Cleanser, and  I wash my was in my morning shower.  In the AM, you’re not washing off pollutants or make-up (probably lol), and you might have used some great serums on your skin the previous night that you don’t need to scrub off, so a simple cleanser is a perfect start.

I use the cleansing oil is used at night when I am wearing a significant amount of make-up, and I almost always double cleanse when I use it. I try and use the GLYTONE at night 2-3 times a week, more in the week before my period or if I am getting breakouts. And the Cerave is my default and everything else cleanser. I use it when I am traveling, when I am lazy, when I need something simple, or if nothing is making sense.

Recently, upon advice of Twitter skincare guru Nicole Cliffe, I bought Clinique’s Take the Day Off. It’s great, but I am still on the fence about it being worth the money. Same thing with Sunday Riley Ceramic Slip, which I only get when it makes Good Genes a better deal.

Exfoliate daily

I usually exfoliate in some way daily. Most days, I use a lactic acid product, which you typically leave on the skin. I frequently use The Ordinary’s 5% Lactic Acid. This is a great daily leave-on exfoliant, and uses the same acid as the ridiculously expensive Sunday Riley Good Genes.

I wish I could sit here and tell you Good Genes isn’t worth it. It brings me so much shame to admit that I love a product that costs more than $100 an ounce. But it makes me look sooooo good. I kid you not- every single day I include Good Genes in my routine, someone tells me I am beautiful or that I look so young. It is uncanny. It transforms me! I look filtered IRL. But, as I cannot afford it on the daily, so I ration it out for special occasions, and typically buy it as part of a product set.  The Ordinary

For a little more serious exfoliating, I turn to the Neogen pads I wrote about previously. I am also a huge fan of Real Chemistry’s Luminous 3-Minute Peel. If you ever have problems with dry patches or flakes, this (sadly another budget buster) is worth it. And about twice a month I turn to Dr Jart+ Pore Medic Bubble Peel, which is now discontinued and I am on my last batch. The replacement product is a one-step cleanser, not aimed at exfoliation. We shall see when I finally run out.

Masks

I love a good sheet mask to refresh and moisturize, and a deep-cleansing cay mask to clear the filth. Innisfree Pore Clearing Mask with Super Volcanic Clusters rips absolutely everything out of those pesky pores. You don’t even have pores when you’re done using this. But seriously- be ready to moisturize immediately after. Speaking of…

Moisturize

Wow this is already a lot of info…also moisturize a lot!

For daytime, I use Cetaphil Pro Oily Skin or Olay Moisturizing Face for Sensitive Skin. At night I use the previously discussed Cerave, or CORSX Ultimate Nourishing Rice Overnight Spa Mask, which I discussed briefly here.

Toner, Serums, Acids, and Retinol

I religiously use Thayers Unscented. You probably should use a toner to restore your face pH after exfoliating, after cleansing, in between other steps etc.

SNAILS- I use this snail mucus every morning after cleansing. It sounds weird but I look better now than I did when I was 22. You decide.

Also daily- I use the Ordinary’s Hyaluronic Acid 2% for additional moisturization.

Retinol- I use both The Ordinary 2% and Sunday Riley Luna. I try and use a retinoid 3-4x a week. Will probably increase as I age. I switch between the two based on how luxurious I am feeling.

SUNSCREEN

As previously discussed, many of these products strip your skin down to the baby skin cells. All cells need to be protected, but especially your baby cells. What are you doing without a daily sunscreen?? Seriously. Daily. Then reapply.

I feel poor and ridiculous now. I might write another post on products that have disappointed me.

Five things I never fly any sort of distance without

Never is a pretty bold statement, and obviously this depends on the length of flight, but here goes:

1) Kiehls In-Flight Refreshing Facial Mist

Cabin humidity isn’t just for your insides. Though this product has been relabeled as Cactus Flower & Tibetan Ginseng Hydrating Mist, I have been assured it is the same stuff. I spray this stuff liberally on my face and neck, and honestly anywhere else. It smells great and a bottle lasts forever. Make sure you buy the 2.5 oz size because this is a carry-on essential. Who checks bags anyway? Things are better if you’re on a 787, but I still bring it.

2) A large, thin scarf.

Blanket, headwrap, skirt, privacy shield…what you can do with a scarf is endless. I recommend something at least 6 ft long and 3 ft wide. Linen is great, cotton blends are great, silk is ok. Fold it up, wear it on, whatever. If you’re in economy, make yourself a little privacy sleeping hood. Anything that makes you feel a little less like you’re mere inches away from the face of a stranger.

3) Water Sac

Sure- most planes will give you free water. But it is never enough. Seriously you need to drink more water on planes. One liter for every four hours of flight, even more if, like me, you love to drink the free booze. I do this even when I am in premium cabins, as it is personally more annoying to continually ask for water or deal with trying to hoard mini bottles at your seat than to just bring some of your own. Water sacs are nice because they flatten and are reusable, but if push comes to shove, buy a liter at the airport. If I am going to a destination where the tap water is not drinkable, I will bring one with an attachable purifier.

4) Thick socks or slippers.

My shoes are coming off but I am not going to walk around the cabin in my regular socks. Slippers are ideal- better protection from the floor, but socks are easier to pack. If I am in business or flying economy on airlines like Qatar or Korean, this will be provided. Always be prepared though.

5) Noise cancelling headphones

I like these, which are small and I can crumple up and abuse. I can’t sleep with giant domes on my ears. I also love that you don’t have to charge them. Remembering to charge your electronic devices before leaving is obnoxious. Between computers and cameras and phones and battery packs, the last thing I want to worry about it my headphones.

Disposable face wipes, toothbrush/paste, eye cream, and a non-aerosol dry shampoo are my runners up.

No, I don’t receive compensation for this but I am totally open to product bribes.

Thing 29

I have very thin, fine hair, and wear bangs most of the time. I also live in a sweaty climate for at least 6 months of the year.  Before dry shampoo came along, you would too often find me attempting to wash my bangs in some museum sink. Bless you, dry shampoo. All dry shampoos are not equal. In a pinch, I’ll take whatever is around, but I try and be prepared.

A few years ago, I discovered amika’s dry shampoo through Birchbox. It’s the bees knees. Though I am very blonde, and the white residue left by inferior products isn’t as apparent on my hair, I still want a product that disappears. Amika does that for me. Plus it smells great. Hopefully Isabelle in Tulsa agrees!

TIP: Remember the TSA is limiting powders now. I used to default to a powdered dry shampoo if my liquids bag was bursting at the seams, but now, thats out too.