Saturday, August 1, 2015

Life update

It may seem that I have abandoned this blog.

Life happened.

The diagnosis was cancer...

Bladder cancer. Found miraculously and removed as swiftly as possible. It was a non-aggressive tumour that had not spread to outside of the bladder and therefore chemotherapy was localised (inserted directly into the bladder) and did not hit my blood stream and I had no real side effects, including hair loss.

Jesus showed Himself to be very alive, very real and very interested in me during what could have been the most trying ordeal of my life. Instead, He carried me and gave me great joy through it all and I came out of it basically unscathed. Physically unchanged but yet not the same.

I am doing well now. I have fully recovered from surgery and will do my first screening to ensure the cancer has not grown back in September.

Now on to my hair. I have corrected the thyroid issues I faced and my hair is finally retaining length again. I am hoping to be APL by December of this year.

The past few years have been trying ones, but my motto is to never give up.

Photos will be uploaded with my next relaxer in the coming weeks.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Life update

I have been MIA for about 6 months. My hair has been a struggle. My skin has been a struggle.

After clearing my acne in June of this year, it returned with a vengeance. My dermatologist recommended I consider a course of Accutane as I pretty much have used every acne medication available, both prescription and non-prescription. Accutane to me should be the last resort, after exhausting all other possibilities. I therefore decided to visit an endocrinologist.  Acne is an internal, hormonal problem that is visible externally. Endocrinologists deal with diseases related to hormones and I figured that perhaps one could help me more than a dermatologist.

I did a blood test and it turned out that I have hypothyroidism, which means that I have an underactive thyroid and do not produce enough thyroid hormones. The thyroid controls so many different processes in your body and can lead to so many issues including acne, dry and brittle hair, dry skin, swollen lymph nodes and fatigue. Those were my symptoms.

My diagnosis was a recent one and I am currently on medication. I am hoping that I will now see a change in my hair and my skin. It has been less than a week since I have been taking synthetic thyroid hormones and I am hoping for the best.

Adult acne is increasingly becoming an issue for women and sometimes we struggle for years going to dermatologist after dermatologist without much success. I have now realised that sometimes acne is caused by an underlying medical condition. So to those struggling, don't give up hope. I struggled with adult acne from age 21 until now, age 32.

My hope is that 2015 will be a good skin and hair year for me and that finally I will meet some of my length goals.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Barefaced and happy

For the past two weeks I have been breakout free! It is a miracle and on top of that for the past two weeks I have gone to work sans foundation. My skin looks good enough for me to face the world wearing just my skin treatments and sunscreen.

My large pores are beginning to shrink and my skin is starting to take on a very normal appearance. It is no longer abnormally thick. It is amazing how things have turned around in just 9 weeks.

My skin regimen has been developed based on my skin's needs. It might seem too much for some but for me it works perfectly.

AM Routine

Wash: Neutrogena Oil Free Acne wash with Clarisonic Mia
Treatments: Glytone Exfoliating Lotion 3, Paula's Choice BHA 2%, Essential Wholesale Niacinamide 5% Serum
Neutrogena Healthy Defense Moisturiser and Sunscreen 50 SPF

PM Routine

Wash: Neutrogena Oil Free Acne wash with Clarisonic Mia
Treatments: Retin A 0.1%, Essential Wholesale Niacinamide 5% Serum

This regimen will work for only the most resistant skin types. I have used Retin A for years with amazing results. However, in the past few years, Retin A stopped being as effective as it once was. I therefore use exfoliating products in the morning which have helped my skin shed the way it is supposed to.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Finally found the right combination of products for my skin

After the disastrous breakout I experienced about two weeks ago, my skin has cleared up so remarkably that one would doubt how bad of an acne breakout I had actually suffered through. My breakouts have healed and the very dark hyper-pigmentation marks are 80% faded.

I have reintroduced Retin A into my skin regimen. Three years ago when my acne became problematic, Retin A stopped working. My entire face broke out while I was using it; it was no longer effective and so I ceased from using it. I have reintroduced it because after paying attention to my skin, I have determined the trigger for my acne. My skin does not shed at the rate at which it should. I use a chemical exfoliant regularly because without it, I notice my skin visibly and abnormally thickening.

The chemical exfoliant of choice for me is salicylic acid with a low enough pH for it to be effective. It gets into the pores and helps prevent clogs. Still, I wasn't getting good enough results because I would still get clogged pores. I am prone to inflammatory acne, so a clogged pore usually results in a large and swollen papule that never comes to a head and lasts for at least a week.

In order to boost my results I reintroduced Retin A as it helps the follicles to behave normally. In a matter of days, I saw results. It has now been two weeks and I have had my period and my skin is progressively looking better. The week before my period is usually a traumatic time for my skin and me.

The combination of these two products is too strong even for my very resistant skin so I use them separately otherwise I experience a burning sensation. Retain A is for night use only and any skin regimen that involves exfoliation or Retin A requires sunscreen. I use a minimum of SPF 30. Sunscreen also helps with hyperpigmentation as the sun can darken spots.

I have also been successful in fading my dark marks that remain after the acne goes away. I use a niacinamide 4% serum. Niacinamide has been shown to be as effective as clindamycin, a topical antibiotic used to treat acne. It is also a very effective skin lightening agent. It only fades the hyperpigmentation.

In two weeks I went from a horrendous breakout to the best skin I have experienced in years. Pay attention to your skin. Discover the root cause of your acne and then treat it. Acne is awful. Your face is the first thing people see when they meet you and I know the agony of looking terrible and being unable to do anything about it.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Shampoo and non-deep condition wash-- thoughts after two weeks

For the past two weeks, I have washed my hair three times per week. My weekend wash includes a deep condition whereas the washes in the week are simply a shampoo and conditioner wash.

The major change I have seen in my hair is fewer small pieces of broken hairs. Length retention has been a challenge for me for so anything that can help prevent my ends from breaking off is much appreciated. I think my hair appreciates the extra moisture I get from wetting my hair three times a week. If I can keep my length retention on point, then I am going to see changes in length.

I will keep monitoring my hair from week to week to see if I notice any untoward consequences from wetting my hair so frequently. So far, so good, however.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

So much for my solution to my skin woes

After a couple of weeks with really good skin days, my period came and basically ruined everything. I ended up with lots of clogged pores which became inflamed and now that they have gone away I am left with hyperpigmentation spots, concentrated in my cheek area and sprinkled across my entire face. It is so embarrassing at this age to struggle with acne. I also tend not to wear heavy foundations, just a light dusting of mineral foundation as most foundations break me out, so my acne and my dark marks are on display for all to see.

I look in the mirror and I can see an attractive person sometimes if I force myself to look at the whole picture, but most times all I can see are the flaws. The dark brown marks dotting my face and the red, inflamed and painful to touch pimples that are scattered along my jawline. It is so frustrating and I just don't understand it. My diet is so healthy; I eat no junk food and lots of fruits and vegetables. I look at the person I share an office with scarfing down snacks loaded with sugar and her skin is among the most flawless I have seen in life. Her skin is what mine was in my teenage years.

Acne has taken a toll on my skin. My pores are now extremely large and I don't think very much can help except laser treatments at this point. I was on birth control for a few years and it gave me amazing skin but left me with spider veins and I developed cellulite for the first time in my life. My acne is not even limited to my facial area as my back is currently broken out and my chest is known to get the occasional spot. The joys.

Acne has also interfered with my life. There have been times I have refused to leave the house because I just don't want anyone to see my skin. I recently met a guy I liked, but for the past couple of weeks I avoided seeing him. Of course he commented on the fact that I keep making excuses. I know he believes I probably was not interested when the reality is I felt like crap about myself and didn't want to be in his company.

I am not asking for the most perfect skin in the world but I would like to just look like a normal human being. I just want to wake up and not worry about how I am going to look that day. I don't want to be skin obsessed. I just want to be normal. I don't even think I am asking for much. I am asking for the experience of any other regular human being.

Anyway, I just needed to vent because I feel super crummy this weekend.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Washing more than once or twice a week

Last Friday, I shampooed and deep conditioned my hair for my weekend wash. My original intention was to wait until Wednesday to do another wash and roller set, however, I went out during the day on Saturday and it was so hot that when I returned home, I found my hair was feeling dry. These days I am doing what my hair is telling me to do so I decided to wash my hair on Sunday. I didn't bother to deep condition, I shampooed and applied conditioner to my hair and left it in for 5 minutes before rinsing. I roller set and went under the dryer. My hair was really happy. It hasn't felt this great in quite some time.

I have decided to no longer have set wash days. I will wash according to the feel of my hair. If my hair so desires I will wash it 3 or 4 times a week. I think I need to start listening to what it is saying. I know these days my hair is asking for more moisture than protein. Last week, I was supposed to have done a protein deep condition and after I did it, I hated how my hair felt, so I went back, shampooed my hair and did a moisturizing DC and my hair was happy. I understand my hair now and I will use protein and moisture DCs according to what my hair is saying and not according to any fixed schedule.

My hair regimen is going to be changing. I will deep condition once a week on weekends, but I will do regular washes during the week as needed. These washes will be a basic shampoo and conditioner wash. Shampooing my hair on a regular basis works for me and I will continue to do this. I will either roller set or air dry depending on time constraints.

Time to have hair that looks and feels like I do take care of it.

I am stretching until my birthday in May. I will be posting pics of my hair when I relax in time for my birthday.