23 March 2015

99 problems, but acne ain’t one

I have been waiting for such a long time to write this post! Whenever I was (past tense!) feeling really down about my acne, I loved reading other people’s success stories, and I always knew that if I ever had any measure of success, I would share it with the world. Do I HATE these before pictures? Yes I do. I would feel much more comfortable hitting delete and just pretending they never existed. Consider this paying it forward for all those people who shared their own success stories and gave me hope.

This is going to be a really lengthy post, btw. Prepare to skip forward if you don’t feel like knowing my skin’s entire history.

First of all – ACNE SUCKS soooo bad. So much worse than you’d think if you never had it. I never really had an issue with acne in high school  (I mean, I would get minor breakouts, but I wouldn’t call that acne…I call it normal skin haha)! So I never had a reason to notice or think about my skin. I just remember slowly getting more and more breakouts over time, and then one day I looked in the mirror (when I was 19, so two years after graduation) and was like “I legit have an acne problem…” and from that point on it was pretty much ALL I thought about. One thing people with smooth skin don’t know is that you can’t relax when your biggest insecurity is RIGHT there on your face. It didn’t help that when my acne was at it’s worst people would comment on it ALL THE TIME. Friends, family, and even strangers on the street. For a period of time when my acne was at it’s worst (this was when I was engaged) I literally did not go out in public without somebody commenting on it. Cross my heart. Makeup or not, if I went to work or anywhere in public, somebody would say something to me about my acne. It’s a special kind of humiliation when a complete stranger goes out of their way to tell you how much your face sucks.

My worst experience with this was when I worked in the hospital. I was at a patient’s bedside and a doctor came in to talk to that patient. Instead, he stopped when he saw me to let me know I had a skin problem. (Thanks for pointing that out) After assuring him that yes, I did wash my face twice a day and no, nothing seemed to be working, he asked me if I’ve ever tried Accutane. I kind of stammered on about how I’d heard of it but was really intimidated by the side effects. He said - and I’ll never forget these words: “Ohh yeah it can be pretty brutal. I would never EVER prescribe any patient of mine Accutane because it is so dangerous. In addition to the risks, the birth defects are nightmarish - even if you are a boy and accidentally get someone pregnant!" I relaxed at this point because I thought he was going to encourage me to try more natural methods. Then he said "But YOU really need to talk your doctor about Accutane because I really think you need it." Bam. Kick in the gut.

I really tried everything, you guys. I EVEN went to the doctor (I hate going to the doctor's lol) and was put on a strong antibiotic regimen. I was given all kinds of prescription creams that were so strong they would literally bleach my towels and sheets and clothes. I tried lots of three step systems, different face washes, and multiple expensive masks. All of these things promise results. The only thing I didn't try was Proactiv because I knew it would not work and I was not emotionally ready for the defeat I would feel after my last option did not work. But then, a few months ago, I decided that I would have to face that and I got a couple months worth of Proactiv. Guess what it did? Nothing! I mean, it actually did help a little...but this is what my face looked like after a month of using Proactiv religiously:

Not the results I was going for.

SO. I needed a face transplant. Ha! No, but at this point the only options I had were extremely expensive (as if I hadn't already spent enough money). I'm talking lasers and multiple courses of professional facials. I priced these all out and it is just not feasible.


Research research reasearch. Back to the drawing board. Thank goodness for google! I finally stumbled upon DIY glycolic acid peels. It turns out, Amazon sells 70%, professional grade, burn-yo dang-face-off glycolic acid (this is the one I used). Shady? Maybe. Would I recommend this to somebody who doesn't have a serious acne problem? Absolutely not. Was it worth the risk for me? 100% yes! What was it going to do, make my face worse?? That's a joke.

So let me tell you a little bit about glycolic acid. It's completely natural (which doesn't automatically mean that its safe but whatevs, I'll throw it in there). It's concentrated from acidic fruits like papaya and pineapple. What put me at ease is that it is NOT a deep tissue peel. 70% is extremely strong but even this will only affect the TOP layers of your skin. What it does is just exfoliate and encourage your skin to regenerate faster. Every 30 days your skin is basically replaced. Glycolic acid speeds up that process, and uncovers the new skin faster.

Tangent: My husband and family were soooo worried that I was considering this. Everyone really wanted me to see a doctor but first of all, I HAD seen doctors and I get extremely frustrated going back again and again and again to finally find something that helps. It reminds me of back when I was like 10 and had to get some warts frozen off - twice! And those suckers STAYED on my arm. Then I did some research on my own, and found out that if you simply cover warts with clear fingernail polish for a week or so they will go away. Bam -warts were gone. If you have any more questions about why I don't trust doctors completely, read this article. I'm not saying all doctors are crazy either. But their word is NOT gold and I pretty much take all doctorly advice with a grain of salt.


I know my skin really well, and it is tough. My skin has taken yearssss of abuse by really really powerful creams and topical medicines and it doesn't even notice. So I know that my skin is not sensitive whatsoever. I did not dilute the 70%, but I would absolutely dilute it if I did have sensitive skin.

  1. Dilute, if desired.
  2. Prepare a bowl of 50% water and 50% baking soda. This is not optional. Baking soda is very basic and you will need to use it afterwards to neutralize the acid.
  3. Put petroleum jelly on the sensitive skin of your eyes and lips, juuust in case. I skipped this step one week and I got a burn on my lower eye lids that resembled a sunburn. After a few days it was fine because, like I said, glycolic acid only affects the top layers of your skin, but still! 
  4. Wash your face and use toner (and tie your hair back).
  5. Use a cotton ball or your hand to apply the acid to yo face. I just pour a little bit in my hand and apply it with my fingers (then dip my hands in the baking soda mixture). I would use a cotton ball, but I don't want any acid to go to waste being soaked up in a cotton ball. But do what you want.
  6. It's going to burn. It starts off as a tingle and then starts to burn slightly. This is very uncomfortable, but not unbearable. Obviously if it's extremely painful for you, you should rinse it off immediately. 
  7. The first time you do this, only leave it on for like 30 seconds. Trust me, that's enough. 
  8. Rinse your face off and make sure as much of the acid is rinsed off as possible before using the baking soda rinse! If you use the baking soda while the acid is still all over your face, you will get the same effect as when you mix baking soda and vinegar. This will not feel nice on your raw skin.
  9. Get handfuls of the baking soda mixture and rub it allll over. Make sure there is no acid still left on your face. I kind of drag this part out and use the baking soda to exfoliate now that I'm pretty comfortable with using the glycolic acid, but I didn't do that at first.
  10. Use a nice moisturizer. I use a tiny bit of coconut oil (its antibacterial!)
  11. For an hour after I do this, the areas where the acid was applied are bright red. But after that hour you can't really tell I did anything, my face just looks a little red and extra shiny from the coconut oil - and it feels really sensitive.
  12. The next day: my skin feels a little sensitive, and looks a little red but is mostly just normal. It never peeled or seemed to dry out, but I heard that some people's skin does. 
  13. MAKE SURE TO USE SUNSCREEN. You should already be doing this, but I thought I would mention it because it's especially important with such raw skin.
 Remember this selfie? Well, the night before was the night I had accidently burnt my lower eyelids with the acid. It hurt to have the makeup on it so eventually I just washed it all off and put some soothing burn cream on there. I actually went to the party looking more like this:

My eyelids were very red, it hurt, and they peeled a little. Looked and felt just like a sunburn. PS - this was after two or three peels if any of you were wondering. You really have to do a serious of at least 4 or 5 to see any results.

I repeated this once a week for 5 weeks, stopped for two weeks, and then took my after picture to see if my skin had made any progress. I intended on writing more about my every day routine and products I use, but wow this post is already long so I'm just going to continue that in a later post if any of you are even interested.

After pictures, taken after 5 weeks of peels and then two weeks off:

My skin is not perfect by any means but I don't have ANY makeup on in these pictures. Nobody is commenting on my acne anymore and I don't have to use 4 or 5 foundations to cover my face when I go out - tinted moisturizer does just fine! Good luck to anyone struggling with acne - if this doesn't work for you I really hope you find something that does!

20 March 2015

Oh Heyyy Friday

1. I really want to go see the new Cinderella movie (probably tonight!) but all this talk of Cinderella reminded me of how much I miss "the black Cinderella" - spoken with all the innocence of a child haha! AKA Roger and Hammerstein's version of Cinderella! It was my FAVORITE as a kid and I looked for it this week on Amazon prime, hulu, vudu, netflix, youtube...no luck. I guess I'll have to buy it off amazon :) This is my favorite song from the movie because its the one I connected with most as a little girl.

2. Sushi dinna tonight in honor of Sawyer!

3. My poor poor Mattie...his boots were COMPLETELY falling apart before his new ones arrived in the mail this week. Yesterday he said "Do you know why today was great? I was working in the mud all day but my feet weren't even wet all day!" 
4. I am totally telling you this guy's miracle story at some point. Some stories just deserve to be told, so I'm calling a redo haha!

5. Speaking of posts I'm about to write...look at my face! It seems like I've found something that actually works, and I am going to describe it in great detail early next week. Give me a couple days, its going to be longgg haha. I couldn't believe it yesterday when I looked at my "after" picture and there was actually a noticeable difference! Baffling!

18 March 2015

That skinny pregnant chick

If you don't know who Sarah Stage is, let me be the one to inform you: she's that skinny pregnant chick. I'm fascinated with her pregnancy because she is TINY and you can legit still see her abs even though she is 39 weeks pregnant.

Seriously, this woman is 39 weeks pregnant! That bottom left picture is actually a shot from her official maternity session. All of these pictures, along with captions declaring that she eats and her baby is perfectly healthy, can be found under the instagram handle @sarahstage. 

I don't really need to speculate on whether she is starving herself or not. I don't know her life. Something is definitely odd, but maybe she just has a really long torso? Maybe she's an alien. Either way, its fascinating because it is abnormal.

She posted a picture yesterday of her (39 weeks) and her pregnant friend (35 weeks) and of course the other woman's belly was MASSIVE in comparison to hers. It was so comical, I sent a screenshot to my friend and was like "Guess which one is farther along?!" She guessed. "No - its the one on the right!" *laughing to tears emoji times two* My friend's response was "OMG I hope I look like that!" ...and I stopped laughing. 

What..?? I'll admit, I've spent a lot of time looking at her pictures and trying to decide if a baby really could fit in there, but not once have I been even slightly jealous.

When I get pregnant, I hope I have a belly. I hope I get stretch marks, I hope I get morning sickness, I hope I have ligament pain, AND I hope I have trouble sleeping. I want these things so bad I have literally PRAYED for them. I have begged God for these things and all He does is hush my tears and urge me to be patient.

But that doesn't stop me from pleading, because if it means I get to have a baby in the end, I will happily volunteer for swollen ankles, hemorrhoids, an episiotomy, heartburn, and for all my hair to fall out in the months after childbirth - leaving me with a head full of useless "baby hairs." I won't mind if I have to do kegels for the rest of my life out of necessity so that I don't pee on myself every time I sneeze, and I would be perfectly happy if I never lost those last ten pounds of baby weight. 

I'm pretty sure I've mentioned that from November to this past Monday, I have been missing a period. Which is incredibly frustrating when you are TTC. I went to the doctor to get to the bottom of it a few times and learned in the process that I would not be able to afford (in)fertility treatments at this time. And I was perfectly okay with that. Honestly, I really am. I have just been doing photography and keeping myself busy, and now that I know it won't be for another couple years it has helped me to relax a little bit.

But these period hormones...and my friend saying that got me thinking about every other woman who complains about their #pregnancyprobs! It kind of gave me the same feeling I get when a friend complains to me about one breakout when she can clearly see I have a face FULL of acne. I'm not wishing infertility on anyone, I just wish that everyone who does get pregnant before me would realize what a blessing it is. I'm sure stretch marks and morning sickness are pains in the booty, but please don't complain to me about it.

PS - You should go read this woman's insightful post right now because she has a little more grace and a lot more eloquence than I do - that's for sure!

16 March 2015

Non-engagement engagements!

So I was planning on writing a whole long post about how amazing this couple I shot this weekend is...but I have zero energy today haha. Just visit my instagram for the short version and wish me luck because today I started my period for the first time in five months and I'm pretty sure my uterus is punishing me for something. 

These pictures though...

Oh. em. gee. Favorite shoot I've ever done, hands down!

12 March 2015

Shirts that caption themselves

For the ultimate lazy blogger haha! What can I say, I kinda love graphic tees. This outfit was a little awkward because allllll of my light jackets are in the wash. At the same exact time. I planned on wearing this yesterday with like a light jacket/cardi and my leopard chucks but all I had to work with was my blazer and my thick winter coats...

Clearly I had to choose the blazer. THEN since I wore a blazer I had to pair it with heels. Which is fine, but I just don't think I've ever paired a graphic tee and ratted hair with those two things haha. Everyone at work gave me weird looks but...whatevs. It actually translates better in the pictures than it felt in real life. 

^ this is my favorite angle of my hair today! Not sure if I like it from any other angle because it sure is a LOT crazier than these pictures lead on to - for that, I thank my camera (crazy hair pride only goes so far, lol)!

Thanks for letting me go off on a tangent while I try out fashion blogging! 

11 March 2015

Lets talk about the color code.

The color code is mentioned in my "about me" and is by far my faaaavorite personality test. Just like how only three primary colors can make a whole rainbow, the four "personality colors" all mix up in unique way to make YOUR personality color. I’m yellow with a side of blue (22 yellow, 10 blue, 7 white, 6 red), and it really makes sense to me. Sometimes I can feel my blue side wanting the yellow part of me to take a backseat so that I can be responsible and mature. But when I actually try to do that, my yellow side feels suffocated, haha! My blue side is why I show up on time and like to share personal details of my life. My yellow side is why I am indecisive and get frustrated so easily by even the simplest of grown-up things (like filling up my gas tank…ugh, lame!). I’ve had this inner conflict my whole life but I’ve never really been able to put my finger on why. 

Matthew, on the other hand, is SO red. He is like 99% red. He doesn’t understand why I want to go on dates on Saturdays (our free days) because he just sees it as extra time to get things done that he wasn’t able to do during the week. Him: “Why would we go to the movies when I can replace the air conditioner on your car?” Me: “Uh…can’t we just drive with the windows down?” I think I would die if I didn’t do something to decompress on the weekends. 

Anyways, I think it’s safe to say that you should probably take the color code personality test right now. The whole reason that sparked this post is that I found a free one online here! You're welcome. It doesn’t really go into the colors weaknesses though, so if you really want to dive in, I recommend doing a little google research to really understand your colors better (note: on the interwebs, whites are sometimes called greens, just FYI). I like this article because it tells you how to better interact with certain colors. Honestly I think it has helped our marriage because we understand a little bit more of what makes the other one tick. If nothing else, it's a fun waste of time, right?? Make sure to come back and tell me what you are after you take it!

PS - Certain colors are more suited for different careers, like a doctor is more likely to be a red than a white…I wonder what the majority of bloggers are?! 

09 March 2015

Feed me and tell me I'm pretty.

I don't think I've tied anything around my waist since I was in like fourth grade...but it's definitely making me want to play tag and go hang on the monkey bars. I'm actually not kidding. This California weather made me do it because it was cold enough for the extra shirt in the morning, but by the afternoon it was quite warm. Thank heavens! Look at those ankles, they're just begging for some sunshine.

I like that tying the chambray around my waist shows off my new shirt better. I saw it zulily recently and HAD TO HAVE IT because it really is Matthew's job description on a shirt, haha!

After my little photo shoot I decided to go buy a happy meal in honor of fourth grade me.
Being a grown-up isn't THAT bad on days like this.

Shirt: zulily (similar), Chambray: target, Jeans: thrift store (similar), Shoes: Converse (similar)

06 March 2015


^ That is the sound of angels singing, btw ;) I've got some good news and some bad news...good news:  I got a wireless remote so now I can take pictures of myself from anywhere I want. Bad news: Some of you may get overwhelmed by the number of selfies that are about to go down, because I am addicted!


It's pretty much like DIY paparazzi. I haven't stopped since I got it, and I think Mattie described it perfectly when he said "I have created a monster..."

Needless to say, it woke up that small piece of me who thinks she is a fashion blogger. That part of me has really thrived from this sudden turn of events, and she is pretty much taking over the blog until further notice. Good news for those of you who have been dying to know what I wear every single day! (Haha, sarcasm. But kind of serious too. Sorry not sorry.)


I don't even know if I love this outfit, but that didn't stop me from documenting it!

04 March 2015

Photog Monologues

Ummm yeah, so I like that title and I'm gonna go ahead and make it a series. It's decided. 

I haven't talked photography in a while and I just wanted to share some updated thoughts. First of all, remember the first birth story I did?

They want me to come back and take their baby's two month pictures now! Insert wide-eyed emoji here. I am soo thrilled that they want me back because it proves that she really did like my pictures. My first repeat client! But I'm half terrified because I've never really shot a baby before...I'm kind of bad with babies...and TWO MONTH OLDS ARE DIFFICULT. It's between that sleepy newborn stage and the sitting up/crawling stage.

Even if I do pull it off there is no guarantee that I will like the session as a whole because I am so. so. critical of my work. I am my work's WORST CRITIC* and  while I recognize that I should be kind to myself, it really works for me to be extremely critical (the key is to make sure I'm putting the image down, not putting myself down haha)! Because the feeling I get when I dislike something so much that I find a way to make it better and then it actually gets better is incredibly rewarding! When I say something bad about my pictures in front of other people they get this tone of pity in their voice and say "Nooo, your pictures are goood" (they drag out the words like that). Maybe SOME of them are good, but most of them are mediocre at best I'm not settling for that.

On that note...a few years ago my family made a big to-do about taking extended family pictures. They turned out pretty good - some were great, most were fine:

I remember the photographer that day (Lora Grady). She seemed a little nervous, but capable at the same time...all she had was her camera, and her boyfriend (or husband?) running around with a reflector. Recently I decided to play critic and went back to take another look at those images. Woah woah woah. Holy over-editing and sharpening! I thought these were so good at the time but now I'm not a huge fan of some of them...

In her defense, I was crying right before this shot because I thought I was hideous lol. I would over-edit me too!

BUT then I took a look at her photography now and OH MY GOSH they are so gorgeous they make my heart sing! Absolutely beautiful, I can't find one flaw.

I can really relate to the Lora 5 years ago. It's inspiring to see how much she improved and hope that in 5 years I can improve just as much as she has. The thought makes my chest swell with hopeful anticipation - it also makes me want to stand up and give her a round of applause. I believe that I am currently around the talent-level where Lora was... I've got a reflector, a softbox, my camera, and some experience under my belt. I have rudimentary photoshop (elements) skills. Sometimes I get frustrated that my pictures aren't better, but I am glad that they don't satisfy me yet because that's what pushes me.

* Speaking of being my worst critic, I dislike the last session (Micaela's Senior Photos) that I put up on my photography page. Some of them just make me cringe and part of me wants to just take them down and deny I ever took them, haha! I feel terrible for saying that because I did those for my cousin and it kind of feels like I failed her...but I just think I could have done much a better job. However, I DO like some of them...this is one I really like for some reason. My shadow is in the way, and (sigh) yes, it is slightly over edited. But I like it.

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