Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Dry Hands Rescue: Moisture Jamzz Moisturizing Gloves

Many a time on this blog I have gone on and on about how awfully dry my hands are and how virtually nothing's been working to moisturize these horrendous eczema blisters and scabs I developed on my fingers over a year ago (don't worry, there won't be any photos of those in this post... or ever!). I've tried numerous hand creams and I'm still purchasing more, but to be honest, they do very little indeed to effectively moisturize and provide a bit of a barrier to lock in the moisture.

If you read my previous posts on obsessive skin picking, you also know that I've started wearing cotton gloves to prevent myself from touching and scratching my face. However, the pair that I got at the drugstore turned out to be simply ridiculous: way too loose, too short in the wrist area, and not as soft as I would like. As a result, I turned to Amazon, and after a bit of browsing, came up with this: Moisture Jamzz Love Ultimate Moisturizing Gloves ($10).

These gloves are 90% cotton mixed with some Lycra/Spandex fibers to fit your hands snuggly without stretching too much in the wear. I chose the 'Love' print, which I think looks much cuter than just plain white, and they arrived in this clear plastic box with a little sample tube of Malcolm's Miracle Hand & Body Hydrate that I've yet to try. As far as I understand, the company Moisture Jammz no longer sells their products, and Malcolm's Miracle distributes them instead - the product also qualifies for free shipping on Amazon, which is always a plus.

Let me tell you, compared to standard cotton gloves, these are simply amazing! They fit my small hand with long fingers like a glove (LOL), do not stretch or fade in the wash, and are made of a very soft and comfortable fabric. They really do lock in moisture much better than using just hand cream on its own, and seem to keep my anti-eczema steroid cream in place. Best of all, they also keep me from picking my face (or fingers!) but are snug enough for me to be able to perform a lot of things while wearing them; and they never, and I mean never, fall off when I am asleep.

If you experience any problems with dryness on your hands, I highly recommend you look into these moisturizing gloves. Now, onto finding my perfect hand cream... Any suggestions?

Friday, November 25, 2011

Darn you, deathly nudes!

Ladies and gentlemen, I've fallen into the nude trap again! Let me elaborate: a couple weeks ago, I decided that the only shade of nail polish I was truly missing in my collection was a good nude. So, like any sensible beauty blogger, I perused some reviews and got myself this: Essie Topless & Barefoot. Oh, I should have known better!

The application's a breeze, the formula just right, the brush easy to manipulate... But, the result is obvious: corpse fingers!

While we're on the subject of deathly nudes, let me present to you two other mistakes I've committed in the past lip-wise: Gosh Darling lipstick and Rimmel Mirror Shine lipgloss in East End Snob. These two clearly don't do it for me on their own, but I can make them work when layered with darker and/or more vibrant shades - I'm desperate to use them up!

In my modest experience, all universally acclaimed nude shades look quite horrible on me; having porcelain skin, I'm just too 'nude' myself. There isn't enough contrast between the skin and the nude color, and it just makes me look... yep, I'll say it again, quite dead. However, if you're pale like me and looking for a good everyday shade, I recommend you take a look at my '3 Neutral Lipsticks' post - these work for me nicely!

What are your favorite nude nail polish and lipstick shades?

P.S. No nude polishes were harmed in the writing of this post; in fact, Essie Topless & Barefoot has just found a loving home today.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Diaries of an Obsessive Compulsive Picker: Week 2 & 3

I've been dreading writing this post for a very simple reason: I haven't had much success in the not-picking department these past two weeks. I've been having some trouble breaking away from the vicious cycle of picking: I pick, feel very guilty indeed, promise not to do it anymore, I give my face a break for a couple days to heal and it looks better and better, I pick again because I spy some clogged pores or a whitehead that's begging me to be squeezed. Most of the time, I manage to stop fairly quickly, but twice I definitely overdid the picking and gave myself some more trouble spots in the process. Right now, the challenge definitely feels quite daunting - but I have a couple ideas for improvement to incorporate into my routine.

1) Crochet. To stop my fidgeting fingers from roaming in the vicinity of my face, I picked up crocheting - for realz! I used to do a lot of needlework as a teen, and while at the university, I stopped completely. I believe it's important for me to start doing it again; firstly, it keeps my hands busy, secondly, the repetitive patterns have a very soothing effect, and lastly, it proves that my fingers are capable of doing some good for once. I've started an infinity-scarf project in the shell pattern, which you can see in the photo - I recommend that book too, very easy to follow and lots of ideas/patterns to try!

2) No mirrors. I really, and I mean really, need to stop checking my face in the mirror every time I go to the bathroom. Because, when I'm standing there in front of the mirror, I lean closer, and when I lean closer, I can see every single enlarged pore and tiny pimple that I immediately want to do something about. So, no looking into the mirror for me! (Plus, it gives me a back ache to lean over the sink).

3) Treats. I think one of the main reasons for my recent lack of success is that I've set a bar very high without any sort of external encouragement to motivate myself. I'm on a general beauty and fashion no-buy, plus I'm trying to use up some very unloved items from my collection; it's almost as if I'm punishing myself in the process. So, I've decided to treat myself to something lovely from the top of my make-up wishlist if I manage to at least diminish the picking - I think I deserve a reward!

4) Words of encouragement. I cannot stress enough how much your support and the experiences you've shared mean to me; I would just throw in the towel without you! I seriously need to re-read your comments on the original post more often, they help so much! I've also been collecting some inspirational quotes to put me in the good spirit. Here's one my favorites:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God; your playing small doesn't serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
*EDIT* by Marianne Williamson, used by NELSON MANDELA on May 10, 1994

I'll leave you with these amazing words for now and check back in 2 weeks to hopefully report some more progress. I hope some of my tips and tricks might help you too - please let me know in the comments if you have any of your own!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Favorite November Lip

Or maybe November Favorite Lip? Who knows... probably some lazy leprechauns laying down at the end of the rainbow, getting drunk on rain drops. Anyway, what was I saying? Yes, favorite lip product for November.

Now that I'm with the cool kids, by which I mean that I was accepted into Lipstick Bandits, we're bound by an eternal oath involving blood and chocolate chip cookies to all post at the same time, on the same topic - this month the subject line being favorite fall lipstick. I feel like I shot myself in the foot twice; firstly I posted an overview of my fall favorites last year, secondly I'm on a no-buy (I know, I know).

BUT! I did overlook a true gem last year, the fall ruby in question being the Sleek Pout Polish in Plum. I posted about it numerous times, though never in this context - lovelies, it's simply a genius fall shade which one wouldn't suspect given its slightly drab appearance in the pot. Keep reading for swatches!

As you can see, I've managed to accumulate three of these beauties thanks to the kindness of my fellow UK bloggers, Cami and Franky. My favorite of the bunch is still Plum, an amazing darkened red with a tinge of brown, perfect for everyday when patted lightly onto the pout as well as fantastic for evening when layered for intensity. If that wasn't enough, it's also amazing blended out on the cheeks!

I've swatched it together with a couple similar shades; first from the left is Sleek Pout Polish in Plum, second is Clinique Almost Lipstick in Black Honey, third Ophelia's Apothecary Chai Latte Lip Tint in Caramel. Clinique would do in a pinch as a possible dupe, although it's much less pigmented, a bit more brown and not as long-wearing, so that's something to consider if you (like me) can't get your hands on Sleek easily.

Before I wave goodbye to you for today and go snuggle under my faux sheep skin blanket to crochet a couple rows, I urge you to go check out favorite fall lipstick posts from other Lipstick Bandits:What is your favorite lip product for November?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Haul and Review: Ophelia's Apothecary

Have you heard about Heartsy, lovelies? It's a voucher website that features handmade goodies, from jewelery, stationery, home decor to bath and body products; I found out about it at the beginning of September, got super excited (who doesn't love an awesome deal?) and prompty purchased my first voucher ($19 for $41) to Ophelia's Apothecary, an Etsy shop with bath, body and cosmetic products - my Haus of Gloi stash was running low and I wanted to give a chance to another company.

I placed my order on Sep 2 and the shop clearly stated their turnaround time was 'at least' 14 days - I didn't mind waiting a bit longer, I still had other things to use up. On Sep 28 I received a copy and paste convo saying they were aware that they'd surpassed the stated turnaround time, but that 'all orders through the 7th (Sep) would be shipped out by the 1st (Oct)'. By this time I had to go and purchase something else to use in the shower. Finally, my order shipped out on Oct 15, with a note apologizing for the delay and thanking me for my patience. What I'm trying to say is that this is a REALLY long TAT; while I understand the shop owners had their difficulties (there were so many of them that they started to seem more like excuses) due to the move to a different state, I don't understand why they'd decided to run a Heartsy deal at such a time when obviously they would be getting slammed with orders. All right, rant over; you probably want to know whether the products were worth the wait...

I purchased a Whipped Cream Soap (4 oz) in the Vanilla Noir fragrance ($8.25), a No 9 Sea Salt and Sugar Body Buff (4 oz for $18) and a Caramel Chai Latte Lip Tint ($7.75). I'll start with my least favorite product - the salt & sugar body scrub. I've used it once so far, and won't be able to use it again for quite a while; basically, it really hurts my eczema covered hands. It's more of an oily formulation compared to other scrubs I tried and it's also rather abrasive, I guess way too abrasive for my tastes. The scent is a strong rose with a touch of glycerin; more on the grandma-ish than the sexy side.

The whipped soap is a nice, smooth, creamy consistency, it doesn't feel drying on the skin and I was quite pleased with my choice of scent, although I suspect Ophelia's Apothecary uses readymade fragrance oils instead of their own in-house blends (like most sellers on Etsy). The soap is definitely comparable to Haus of Gloi's whipped soap formulation.

My favorite from the bunch is definitely the Lip Tint - it's a silky smooth moisturizing formula that melts onto the lips, with a very fine and delicate gold shimmer running throughout. The shade 'Caramel' is a reddish brown, very natural and a perfect everyday color for the season. It hasn't left my purse since I got it and I live under the impression it just goes with everything :) The scent is subtle vanilla, maybe with a touch of spice - I wish it was a bit more like chai latte, but I still really like it.

Overall, I'm not sure whether my order with Ophelia's Apothecary was worth the looong wait; there was just one product that I'm really loving, and the price points are significantly higher than other sellers', including my beloved Haus of Gloi. Have you ever tried anything from Ophelia's Apothecary? What are your favorite indie bath & body companies?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Review: Personal MicroDerm

Personal MicroDerm (PMD) device has received a lot of attention on beauty blogs and YouTube as of late. A couple weeks ago I was also sent one to try out and review for you, so here's my two cents.

First of all, PMD is an electric device with which you can give yourself an at-home microdermabrasion treatment. It features a rotating head (in two different sizes, smaller for face, larger for body) covered in aluminum oxide crystals, which are used in the professional microdermabrasion machines, as well as as a sucking action so that the device has a better contact with the skin, but also to sweep away the dead skin cells that are being polished off. The device needs to be plugged in when in use (it doesn't have a rechargeable battery like, say, Clarisonic) and comes with the cord, two each of the small and big heads in the sensitive and more abrasive variety (blue and green respectively) and an instructional DVD.

As of today, I've tried the device for the total of 4 times on my face, roughly once a week. I only used the sensitive head, which is recommended when you're first starting out. Before using it on my face, I tried it on the back of my hand, just to get used to the feeling. I usually start around my forehead, then do the nose and cheeks and finish with my chin. The whole process probably takes around 3 minutes. Also, I had a professional microdermabrasion once, and to be completely honest, I wasn't too impressed with the results.

I will say that the sensation is not exactly pleasant, especially towards the middle of my face; the skin is quite pink and sensitive for the next 24 hours or so. Also, right after using the device, I still notice a whole lot of dry skin around my face that was invisible to the naked eye before. It definitely does remove a lot of dead skin - the flakies gather inside the device, so that's a visible proof of how much you're polishing off. However, in terms of noticeable general skin improvement, I haven't noticed that much of a change. Serums and treatments seem to absorb better afterwards and the skin feels softer, but my pores are still exactly the same size and the number of breakouts has not diminished either; I'm also still as oily as before, even more so in the first day or two after using the device. I will continue to use PMD once a week, because I believe it deserves a longer trial period, especially because there's a number of variables that might be influencing my skin right now - I tried my best not to introduce anything new besides the device, but still.... To sum it up, for now, it doesn't work miracles on my skin and I would hesitate to purchase considering the price ($179).

Have you tried PMD?

Disclaimer: The device was provided to me for review consideration by PMD. I am not compensated to feature it on my blog nor am I affiliated with the brand. All opinions are my own and 100% honest, as always!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Diaries of an Obsessive Compulsive Picker: Week 1

Remember that November holistic skincare challenge thing I posted about? Well, it's time to let the first part of the secret unveil, and to be honest, it's a rather dirty little one - and talking about it is very difficult and personal for me. Ladies and gentlemen, I'm an obsessive compulsive picker, and I hereby vow to stop picking on myself from now on - forever.

Let me explain: I'm not just your usual Mary who picks a bit of dry skin here and there or squeezes out a particularly unsightly whitehead. No... Almost every day I scratch my face, dig out any clogged pores, pick at even the smallest bumps until I look like a prisoner of war against my own body. Not only that - I pick at my cuticles, I scratch my eczema, I bite my lips until they bleed. Until a couple days ago, I lived in denial; I knew that what I'd been doing was wrong, but then my skin is pretty crappy anyways, so what difference does it make if I pick?

Then, following Fran's suggestion (I'm signed up for her newsletter, very inspirational!), I read the online book 'Stop Picking on Me' and promised myself never to do it again. If you're a fellow picker, I highly recommend it; it's eye-opening. Picking is so much more than just a bad habit, it really is an illness of the mind and the body. I've also decided to document my progress here week by week to keep myself on track, and hopefully help some of you who might be suffering from it as well. It might not be pretty, so if you're of a delicate disposition, I suggest you skip these posts altogether. Anyways... read on to find out about my struggles during the first week of not picking.

Day 1 (Oct 27): I've just started reading 'Stop Picking on Me' and, a couple pages in, decide to try to do my best and STOP. Many passages in the book ring very true to my experiences, which is making me emotional; I'm starting to realize that my picking is not so much about the acne on my face, but personal insecurities that have been impeding my happiness. I really want to start the recovery, even if it proves very difficult. I don't want to hate my body anymore, I don't want to feel the shame and the guilt, I just want to start loving myself, skin and all, a bit more.

Day 2 (Oct 28): Still reading the book; I'm now on the part where the author recounts personal stories of other pickers. It brings tears to my eyes, and I want to give a big hug to all the pickers - myself included. I've also noticed how many times a day I touch my face with my fingertips, looking for bumps and imperfections to work on - I've decided to avoid touching my face at all. I also decide to tell my husband about my habit (well, he probably knew anyhow) and my decision to stop picking, just to have someone to keep me in check so that I cannot go back. I'm proud of myself for overcoming the shame, but I lose focus for a couple minutes and voila, I just picked a cuticle.

Day 3 (Oct 29): I'm being positive that I can do this, I keep on repeating little affirmations to myself, like 'Your body is smarter than you think, it can and will heal', 'Let it be', 'You already are that unique, beautiful person, acne or no acne'. We're driving to Tacoma for a blacklight bouldering competition Mr. signed up for; I'm taking a white scarf with tassles so that my hands have something to play with on the way. The day is rather busy, luckily I have little time to obsess over my face as my hands are full taking photos.

Day 4 (Oct 30): I get into a bit of a bad mood in the morning and I'm not so sure anymore if I can do it; even if I don't go stand in front of the mirror to pick away, it's so difficult to resist touching my face or scratching at my bacne. I feel like a bad person, I hide under the blanket and bite down hard on my lip, and there's a cystic bump starting to appear on my chin. I wear cotton gloves while watching a TV show on Hulu; that's when my idle fingers usually start inching toward my face. Mr. calls me Michael Jackson. I manage to get over myself, we run a bunch of errands and also pick up a few supplements at Whole Foods; I'm feeling a tinge of hope that maybe they'll help in clearing my acne a bit as well. I do an at-home microdermabrasion at night to get rid of some of the flakies that I can no longer pick (but I still did pick a couple).

Day 5 (Oct 31): I feel a bit better and try to work on my positive thinking. I start jutting down some inspirational quotes in my agenda to reread when I'm feeling especially low. I'm also thinking about starting a craft that would keep my fingers occupied and channel that nervous energy; maybe beading or crocheting? A crochet scarf with little flowers would be super cute for the season :) I look in the mirror and see some of the old breakouts healing nicely, but the cystic bump is looking quite angry and it feels itchy, which is driving me mad... Will it really heal on its own?

Day 6 (Nov 1): After being really good for the whole day, I start picking again while doing my night-time skincare routine - the yesterday's spot has also been joined by a friend right next to it. I'm feeling pretty disappointed in myself and even want to withdraw from the whole challenge, but decide to wait until the morning. I also realize I should absolutely not lean in closer to the mirror in the bathroom; there is always going to be something I'd be tempted to pick!

Day 7 (Nov 2): Fortunately, none of the spots I picked yesterday became inflamed, so now I just have to wait until the little wounds dry up. The cystic bump of the week is slowly shrinking and going away, so I guess this answers my question, yes it does really heal without my poking around it (I left this one alone during yesterday's picking session). I forget to wear my cotton gloves, so some back scratching ensues, but not too bad overall. I've just posted about my November skincare challenge, so it's official now and there's no turning back - and have also got some awesome comments, I'm feeling very grateful for my blogging friends. Fingers crossed I can pick less (or even not at all!) next week :)

Let me know if this is of any use to you - I might just post another short update at the end of the month if this is too gross/personal/difficult to understand, or I could write in the same weekly format with more tips and tricks I'm picking up along the way. Just let me know in the comments, lovelies!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

November Holistic Skincare Challenge

I think I'm a glutton for punishment: this month I have not only promised myself not to buy any more beauty or fashion related things, but I've also decided to make November the month of holistic skincare here at Rocaille Writes.

Holistic approach to skincare means taking into account all aspects of a being: its physical, psychological, emotional, social, environmental and spiritual needs and imbalances. To put it simply, I will focus my attention not only on the skincare products I'm using, but my diet, habits and attitudes towards my skin, with the ultimate goal of helping my skin (as well as the whole organism) become more happy and healthy.

I will devote each November challenge post to a different aspect of my treatment, and I will update this introductory post with links when the posts go live, so that you'll be able to navigate the whole series more easily. Throughout the months of November and December, you can expect posts on:
- emotional/ psychological changes I've been introducing (more on that coming very soon... I'm actually a bit hesitant to write about it, but it's part of the challenge!)
- my diet and supplementation
- changes in my skincare routine

I'm hoping that my little series might inspire some of you to try a different approach to skincare - let me know in the comments if there's anything you've been doing differently that helped your skin!