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.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

From texlaxed to relaxed

Of late I have been looking at bone straight ladies and wishing my hair looked like that. I was all gung ho about texlaxing my hair in the past but I don't think I like the look anymore. I am in need of a change.

What is a girl to do? Doing a corrective along the entire length of my hair seems like asking for trouble. I have been experiencing problems retaining length as it is so doing that seems a bad idea to me. My other option is to start relaxing bone straight and leave the rest of my hair texlaxed.

To make this change, I will have to find a new relaxer. Much as I love my ORS staple relaxer, my hair can't get very straight with it. I process my hair to the maximum limit and I end up with a 60% straight result. I still have a lot of texture.

I haven't yet decided. I am still weighing my options.

What are your thoughts ladies? Should I continue texlaxing and focus my efforts on retaining length as that has been my struggle or should I start relaxing bone straight while holding on to the texlaxed ends.

Do you know of anyone who was completely texlaxed and decided to become fully relaxed?

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Skin woes are gone. Hair is now my main focus

After three years of battling acne that stopped responding to prescription medication, I have found the solution and cleared my skin in a very short space of time.

I used an ingredient that is found in virtually all over-the-counter acne products. That ingredient is salicylic acid, the only difference is I began using it at a pH that rendered it extremely effective. Apparently salicylic acid is the holy grail for unclogging your pores, the only problem is that it works only when the pH of the product is at 3 for the highest. Over the counter products usually have a pH that is too high for the acid to do its job.

My first low pH product was the Paula's Choice 2% BHA Gel which has a pH of about 3.2. It cleared my skin about 85%-90% unclogging most of my pores but I still thought I could do better. I am prone to inflammatory acne so a clogged pore can result in a pretty large and painful bump.

I eventually found another 2% formulation at an extremely low pH. I ordered the Garden of Wisdom Beta Exfo Tonic which has a pH of 1.9. Within one week's time, I began to see the clogs just disappearing. My extremely large pores appear to have shrunken in size some and when I do get a breakout, it disappears in no time. I am now into my 2nd week of using the product and my skin looks better than it has in years.

After thousands of dollars, lots of tears and a lot of embarrassment, I am finally on my way to having clear skin once again. Now that I no longer have to focus so much on my skin, I am back on my hair game.

I deep conditioned my hair twice last week and I will continue to do so. My hair is just a little past SL after my last cut. I am hopeful that 2014 will be a good hair year for me and that I can close the year at full BSL which is possible since I have very a short torso and my hair grows at the rate of a little over 1 inch every 6 weeks. If I retain my length, I should be able to see my hair visibly lengthen by 6-7 inches this year.

I will also be updating my blog on a regular basis to track my progress.

Friday, March 7, 2014

First post of 2014

Hi ladies,
I have been MIA for quite some time.

Firstly, all of my photos have disappeared from the blog and I am not quite sure how that happened lol.

Secondly, I have been so scissors happy that I have no real progress to show. I am an almost perfectly blunt SL. After 6 years of hair care, I must say I have spent lots of time, effort and money and have achieved nothing.

I must say though that there are just some ladies who will always have a more difficult time than others when it comes to a hair journey. I know of someone who made it to almost BSL to have her hair stop responding and start breaking uncontrollably. These people tend to decide that maybe the relaxer life is not for them, the hair journey life is not for them and they throw in the towel and go back to weaves.

I thought about it for a minute and then a small voice inside said to me, you are not a quitter, you never give up. Think about what you have been doing for the past few years that kept you yo-yoing from SL to APL and then think about what you did in the beginning of your hair journey that got you to grazing BSL.

Then it hit me. I was a bi-weekly washer until I got lazy and said you know what? I'll just wash once a week. For the past couple of years I have been washing my hair once a week and it has done nothing for me. So now I have to suck it up and wash my hair twice a week. It is tough though. I get home late from work because the commute from work is crazy and the last thing I want to do is wash my hair, but you know what? I will do it because waist length hair is one of my greatest desires (clear skin, finding the man of my dreams and living until the age of 100 are some of the others) and I am not going to give up.

Go I am taking up the challenge and from next week, I will be implementing the mid-week wash day. I am due for a relaxer on March 22nd and I will post photos regardless of the results. If it's good, you will see it. If it's bad, you will see it. In spite of my last cut a couple of weeks ago, I think I have retained length. I had some breakage in the back and I cut just to even it out.

My retention is improving. I have gone back to the juice, using Care Free Curl and sealing with shea butter. It is keeping the moisture content in the ends of my hair at a really good level and preventing all those little broken strands of hair that I had grown used to.

In other news about me: My braces are off after 11 months and now I'm wearing a retainer at the ripe old age of 31 :)