Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Skincare update AKA How I got rid of my acne

My best advice to people suffering from  acne is simple: find a GOOD dermatologist and follow their advice.

Last year I experienced REALLY bad breakouts - I'm STILL unable to pinpoint what made my normal skin turn into a mess  - skincare, weight loss, stress, diet, hormones - who knows? At first I tried things that had helped me with mild acne in the past: (the 2.5% benzyl peroxide treatment, going to an esthetician and using Dermalogica products). None of these made my skin any better. I was chatting with my sister about what to do next, and she said - why don't you go and see our dermatologist? I don't know why this hadn't occurred to me before - it would have saved me a LOT of time and money (In 9 months I had spent at least $500 on facials and skin care products).

My appointment was in October 2010. My dermatologist prescribed 2 antibiotics, a topical one (Clindamycin) and an oral one (Minocycline) and told me not to use ANY moisturiser. Within 3 months I started seeing positive results, and by June 2011 I was advised to stop taking the oral antibiotics and just use the Clindets wipes twice a day. I was also allowed to use an OIL-FREE moisturiser on my skin (I missed using moisturiser - I really think it prevents wrinkles, without it my forehead was starting to show lines - thankfully they've disappeared).

I took photos during the course of my treatment - this is a close-up of my left cheek - which was the biggest problem area. These photos are not pretty - and I'm a little bit embarrassed sharing them, but if it helps someone else suffering from acne - then it's worth it :-)
My skin was quite bumpy when I first started my treatment. Slowly the bumpiness has diminished and my skin now feels smooth to the touch. However, as you can see - I still have hyper-pigmentation from old acne scars. These are taking their time to fade...There are products that could speed up the healing process, but I am VERY hesitant to experiment with skincare now (I tried a sample of  Estee Lauder's Advanced Night Repair - within 4 days I had 2 large blemishes...luckily they disappeared after I stopped using it).
My current skincare routine:
-Wash in the morning and evening with Cetaphil bar soap. In the evening I use my Clarisonic - and if I've worn make-up I wash my face twice.
-Use a Clindets wipe all over my face (especially my cheeks)
-Apply Neutrogena Oil-free moisturiser
-If I'm going to be outside I apply Neutrogena Ultra-Sheer Water-Light SPF 60. This particular "water-light" version is the best drugstore sunscreen I've ever tried - other ones (even other Neutrogena Ultra-Sheer ones) have made my face feel tight and itchy - this feels like nothing - and is designed to be worn under make-up. It even provides a smooth base for foundation - I love it!
-I purchased the Olay Total Effects moisturiser because of it's anti-ageing properties, however, even though it's listed as oil-free, it caused tiny bumps on my forehead, so I just apply it to my naso-labial folds, neck and hands.

So far, sticking to this skincare routine is working for me - but I have to be consistent. If I ever skip washing my face, I'll end up with a blemish the next day! I'm having good luck with Neutrogena products, so I may cautiously experiment with their Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle Cream (it is also oil-free but contains Retinol).
I know that everybody's skin is different, and what works for me may not work for you - but I hope that this post has been helpful!

Have you ever suffered from acne? What helped it get better?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Weekend shopping and Working out

I purchased a couple of items from Garage, Old Navy and H&M recently (it seems like I only buy clothes from these 3 stores...but I don't have much time to shop around these days, and these 3 shops ALWAYS have some cute options).
From Garage I picked up boyfriend cardigans and jeggings. The jeggings are perfect for fall, to tuck into boots - and the boyfriend cardigans are amazingly soft and comfy. Both denim and tops were buy one get one 50% off.
Striped boyfriend cardigan and Black jeggings.
Boyfriend cardigan and Grey jeggings.
I think they'll be perfect paired with the right accessories (scarves & necklaces) - they look a bit plain on their own.
From H&M I picked up THE perfect cross-body bag (a bargain at only CAD$19.99). I first saw it on Jean's Extra-Petite Blog - and I loved the colour and size of it. I'll be walking my kiddies to school and I need something light but cute to hold my wallet, keys, phone and sunglasses. Jean makes it look so elegant when she carries it as a clutch (my close-up picture is a bit smudgy because of kiddy fingerprints on my mirror- sigh!). I would LOVE to find flat-heeled tall boots in the same shade for fall.
At Old Navy I picked up a couple of tops. My favourite is the white cotton shirt - so summery and light - although summer is nearly over! I'm hoping the green drapey top holds up better than the peach one I bought from H&M (posted about here) - it got 2 holes in it after the first wash (on the delicate cycle and no dryer!!!). I love the shade, so I'm going to try and mend the 2 holes LOL - but it is SO fragile!
Earlier this month we purchased our elliptical machine - the Life Fitness X8. With all the moving and reorganizing, I hadn't been exercising for much of this summer - and it was beginning to show! I'm so happy to be back on track (though I've still got a couple of pounds to lose). I've been doing 25 minute sessions 3 times a week. I have my i-pod on and I just "dance" to my favourite songs - I love how the elliptical tones your arms as well as providing a cardio workout. My top tunes to get moving are:
Eve feat. Swizz Beats - Tambourine
Enur feat. Natasja - Calabria
Eve feat. San Paul - Give it to You
Nicki Minaj - Super Bass
Pitbull - Give Me Everything

I'm really happy with this purchase as I feel that this is a good investment for our health (Hubby uses it on the nights that he doesn't do P90x.) When the kids start school, I plan on joining either a yoga or pilates class (they have studios for both in our neighbourhood) and using the elliptical twice a week. I don't like to overdo exercise, as I start dreading it - I just do the bare minimum to keep the weight off and keep it fun.

What are your favourite work out songs - I'm always looking for good ones! 
Do you have any go-to clothes stores that you always end up shopping at?

Friday, August 12, 2011

Design Project: The Master Bedroom

This room is going to take a LOT of work - it is very far from where I want it to be, yet at the same time, I don't have a clear vision of what I want:
Wall colour: Wedgewood Gray by Benjamin Moore
For starters - the bed doesn't match the rest of the bedroom furniture. We have a closet, chest of drawers and bedside tables in blackish brown, while the bed is a reddish brown...don't even ask how this happened!
My options are:
-stain the bed to match the rest of the furniture (but the whole room may end up looking too dark)
-get an upholstered headboard (would need a bedskirt to mask the rest of the bed)
-buy a new bed
Which would you do?

While my guestroom style is cottage/shabby chic, I want a modern "hotel-style" for this room.
-I want new bedding (no more flowery prints!) and a sleek quilted throw for the bottom of the bed.
-I'm not sure if I want a bench at the end of my bed - they are lovely - but not if I keep banging my knee on it!
-I need to get bedside lamps - I've always loved the bubble lamps popular in many decor magazines.
-I'm either going to place artwork above the bed, or wallpaper the main wall as a feature wall.

The AFTER pic for this room may be a long while away!

Here are some inspiration pics...they are very different from each other- reflecting my indecision about this room!
What does your Master bedroom look like? I'd love to see a pic! Also - any and ALL design advice for my bedroom would be very much appreciated :-)

Friday, August 5, 2011

Design Project: My Guest Room

As part of my house decoration project, I'm blogging about each room that I need to work on. I've shown my kids' room here, and today I'm sharing my Guest Room/Study:
Now that all the permanent elements are in place, I can work on adding soft furnishings. The main goals for this room are:
-design a cushion for the window seat and add some pretty pillows (the window seat is one of my favourite places in the house - who doesn't love a reading nook?)
-find a picture to hang above the bed
-add a cushion to my chair
-organize the walk-in closet so that my extra make-up/toiletries/spare clothes are easily accessible (the white door in the second picture leads to the walk-in closet, it's not the main door to the room)
Hemnes add-on unit

Hemnes Secretary

The white armoire in the corner is my desk - we bought it this weekend and I adore it. I love that I can close it all up so that it doesn't look like a home office. It also fits the shabby chic/cottage decor theme of the room...I think Ikea read my mind and designed the perfect piece of furniture for me :-)
The upper cabinet holds my printer and folders, the fold-down secretary desk is where I keep my laptop, and my filing box (with all our statements/bills) is in the bottom cabinet.

Here are some inspiration pictures (in terms of decor style and color scheme) for this room:
The paint color we used for the room was Clear Skies by Benjamin Moore. I had first painted it Antiguan Sky after looking at pictures on the internet like this:
However, on my walls, Antiguan Sky was a NEON blue - it looked fine in most photos, but in person it was horrible. I tried to capture the actual color of the wall (it appears a bit darker but you can see the brightness of the color):
I have no idea why it turned out this way - the painter used the right color and did 3 coats....but it was so depressing. There was no way I could live with it, so I went back to the paint store, bought some sample pots and painted swatches on the wall until I found the color I wanted, and then had the whole room repainted.
The paint swatches on the Benjamin Moore website - quite misleading...
So that's my current decor status- I'll do an updated post when I've finished this room, but in the meanwhile, I'll do some more posts about the other rooms I'm working on (Master Bedroom, TV Area and Entrance Room)


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