My K.I.S.S. Approach to Personal Care: Oil Cleansing

I have had acne prone skin since I hit puberty, but I never imagined I would still be dealing with adult acne in my 30s. There should be a rule that you can’t get pimples if you have wrinkles or gray hair.

After so many years of experience, I know my acne has more to do with hormones and what I put in my body, and less to do with what I put on my skin, so all the traditional face washes never helped much. If they did help, eventually my skin would get used to them and my bad acne would come back. Plus, most traditional face washes, even the most “natural” ones, have a ton of ingredients in them, many that I can’t even pronounce or recognize. Birth control helped at first, especially with the large, painful cystic acne, but eventually it stopped working. I thought maybe pregnancy would help clear my skin, but that did not happen either.

I have always had a combination of dry and super oily skin. My t-zone shine would be out of control, but other areas of my skin would still be flakey and dry. I have good days and bad days, good months and bad months, but I have finally found a routine that’s worked better than anything else. It’s been over a year now that I have been using oil to clean my face, and I do not see myself going back to traditional face wash anytime soon.

I first learned about oil cleansing when I read this post. Like the Wellness Mama, I too was skeptical about using oil on my very oily, acne prone skin, but when I read more about it, the basic idea of oil cleansing made a lot of sense to me. Both Theoilcleansingmethod.com and Acne.org give great explanations for the benefits of oil cleansing:

“The basic concept of this skin care and cleansing method is that the oil used to massage your skin will dissolve the oil that has hardened with impurities and found itself stuck in your pores. The steam will open your pores, allowing the oil to be easily removed. Should you need it, the smallest drop of the same oil formula patted over damp skin will provide the necessary lubrication to keep your skin from over-compensating in oil production.” (Theoilcleansingmethod)

“Fact: Oil dissolves oil. One of the most basic principals of chemistry is that “like dissolves like.” The best way to dissolve a non-polar solvent like sebum/oil, is by using another non-polar solvent similar in composition: Other oils. By using the right oils, you can cleanse your pores of dirt and bacteria naturally, gently and effectively, while replacing the dirty oil with beneficial ones extracted from natural botanicals, vegetables and fruit that heal, protect and nourish your skin. When done properly and consistently, the OCM can clear the skin from issues like oily skin, dry skin, sensitive skin, blackheads, whiteheads and other problems caused by mild to moderate acne–while leaving your skin healthy, balanced and properly moisturized.” (Acne.org)

I decided to read through the comments of the Wellness Mama blog post to see what worked for people and what didn’t. There were a lot of mixed reviews, many very positive, but also a good amount that were negative. I decided to give it a go despite the negative reviews.

I started with organic coconut and olive oil since I already had them in the house. I didn’t want to buy the more expensive oils before knowing if this oil cleansing would even work. I eventually added organic jojoba oil to my mix once I started seeing positive results from the oil cleansing process.

image

Currently, I mix about 1/3 of each oil in a glass dropper bottle that I found at Whole Foods for just a few dollars. They are just perfect for storing my oil mixture! I have a larger one for at home use and a smaller one for traveling. Every morning I squeeze a dropper full of the oil mixture in the palm of my hand and use my fingers to massage the oil all over my face and neck. The amount of time I leave the oil on my skin varies depending on how much time I have, but is usually anywhere from 5-20 minutes. I cover my face with a hot washcloth and let it sit there until the washcloth becomes cool. Then I wipe any excess oil off with the other side of the wash cloth.

image

It definitely took a few weeks for my skin to adjust to this method of cleaning, but within a month I noticed a tremendous difference in the texture and oiliness (or lack there of) of my skin. My face was still not perfectly clear. I get little bumps here and there and usually one cystic pimple on my neck or chin around that special time of the month. But overall the look of my skin has improved so much! I’ve even stopped wearing makeup on a daily basis, and usually only put a little on for special occasions or nights out.

Oil cleansing still dries out my skin a little, so I did some research and found that pure Shea butter is a good moisturizer for acne prone skin. I have been using Bubble and Bees’ Face Cream for Women and I am extremely happy with it. It’s definitely not as pricy as some face moisturizers out there and a little goes a long way, so the jar lasts for months. And it only has 3 ingredients!

image

Overall, I am so happy I found this method of cleansing and was brave enough to try it! I haven’t been this happy with my skin since before puberty and it feels wonderful to finally find something that works so well and keeps on working. Oil cleansing is more cost effective, safer, healthier and environmentally friendly. As of now, I have no plans of ever going back to traditional face wash again!

 

Valerie Anne

I Blinked and Qwynn is Three!

 

FullSizeRender-16

Qwynn’s birthday month is coming to an end and it’s still hard to believe we have a 3-year-old! The last few months have been a whirlwind of emotions and I’ve been savoring every moment (as proved by my lack of blog posts the last few months!)

Since starting in her new classroom this last September, I have been truly impressed with how Qwynn has grown and developed into such a fun, bright and independent young girl. I have thoroughly enjoyed learning, playing and having daily conversations with her. She’s spelling months from memory, LOVES counting and numbers, and her language has just flourished. She doesn’t even seem like a toddler to me anymore. She is a little girl. A true threenager!

We had such a wonderful time celebrating her 3rd birthday with friends and family in my soul city…Denver, CO. If you know me well, then you know when it comes to Qwynn’s birthday celebrations, I just can’t do simple. Flying on an airplane across the country couldn’t even keep me from creating a fabulous party to celebrate my beautiful daughter!

One disadvantage of a January birthday is that you always need an inside venue, and that can get pricey. We also needed a place to stay for a couple nights while we were in Denver.

Lightbulb!

We were quite satisfied with our first Airbnb experience during our Chicago visit this last November, and decided to look into it for this trip, too. We were able to find a great apartment downtown with enough space for us, Tyson’s brother and two of our friends to stay and it was the perfect size to host Qwynn’s small party! WIN-WIN! (We did make sure this was okay with the Airbnb host before we booked it.)

When I asked Qwynn what kind of birthday party she wanted she said “white!” The first thought that came to mind was winter, and it ended up being one of my best ideas yet!! Plus, with her birthday just a few weeks after Christmas, I got almost everything on sale or clearance!

I managed to throw a wonderful winter themed birthday party for her, and I fit everything I needed into my small carry-on sized suitcase. Everything went so perfectly, I’ve even considered looking into starting a business for it…Party in a Suitcase!

Qwynn’s Destination Winter-Themed Birthday

One of my favorite things to make…The Banner! I am just a little doily obsessed, so I had to incorporate them into Qwynn’s banner. I love the elegance of paper doilies, mixed with the ruggedness of the burlap twine. Since we were in a rental, command hooks were perfect for hanging the banner.

IMG_4270

I used the stocking holders I refurbished from the Target Dollar Spot to hang snowflake lights (less than $10 on Amazon) and the banner I made for Qwynn’s party at school on the kitchen island.

FullSizeRender-15

IMG_3389

At Target, I also found white snowflake tins for 50 cents to hold the plasticware and burlap trees for $1.50 each, which I painted white for a snowy look.  I found clear candle holders at the 99 Cent Store across the street from our apartment and etched snowflakes on them for a little added decoration. I used glittery silver flameless candles from Party City to put inside them because I didn’t think it was a good idea to have open flames in a rental.

FullSizeRender-22

IMG_4330

These paper stars look like snowflakes and came from Target’s Christmas clearance ($4 for the large, $2 for the small.) Plus, they fold completely flat! I got a variety of balloons from Amazon and had them filled at Party City the day of the party.

FullSizeRender-17

I made my own ballon weights using these cute tins from Target. I filled them with a rice, bean, and lentil mixture left over from the centerpieces from my dad’s birthday party, and then hot glued cotton balls to a piece of cardboard to make a lid. I got the burlap lace ribbon on Christmas clearance at Michaels and made the snowflake embellishment using card stock and my Cricut.

FullSizeRender-18

I also got these snowflake ornaments on clearance at Michaels, and it just so happened the apartment had a tree to hang them on!

IMG_4333

I had known the apartment had a ton of windows, so I purchased a couple packs of suction cup hooks from the 99 Cent Store and hung paper snowflakes (Michaels clearance) using burlap twine.

FullSizeRender-19

I’ve bought clay cake toppers for all of Qwynn’s birthdays and hope to keep up the tradition for years to come! This one came from the Etsy shop Hand Crafted Critters by Carly. She does amazing work and they are completely customizable!

IMG_4297

I bought the favor bags at Michaels (Christmas Clearance once again!) and filled them with winter-themed goodies I found on Amazon and yummy Annie’s fruit snacks.

FullSizeRender-21

Overall, I couldn’t have been happier with how Qwynn’s party turned out and I look forward to creating even more magical parties in the future!

FullSizeRender-23

Valerie Anne

DIY Horsey Cupcake with Stars

The very first time I asked Qwynn what she wanted to be for Halloween she excitedly said “A cupcake!” I instantly googled “homemade toddler cupcake costume” and was thrilled with all of the ideas I was seeing. I couldn’t wait to put this together!

Then the inevitable happened. A couple weeks later, Qwynn changed her mind. Toddlers! She wanted to be a pumpkin. BummerI was really looking forward to making a cupcake. Luckily, I was able to convince her to be a pumpkin cupcake. Easy enough, right? But the next week Qwynn changed her mind again. Really? She wanted to be a horse. Really??? So, I suggested a horse cupcake, and the last week before Halloween she added the stars.

And this is how the Horsey Cupcake with Stars was born! 

I originally wanted to use a lamp shade for the cupcake liner, but it was harder to find one than I had originally anticipated (especially since I didn’t want to spend a lot of money). Eventually I found this idea, and with a few tweaks here and there, I was able to make an amazing cupcake costume!

A round laundry basket would’ve been way too big for a toddler, but I was able to find a good sized bucket at DEALS for just $1. I grabbed two of them in case I messed up on the first one. I also found the modern patterned contact paper there for just $2 and thought it would be a sturdier option than wrapping paper (Qwynn falls down a lot!).

IMG_0614

I cut the bottom of the tub out using a utility knife and scissors. Then I covered the rough edges with strips of the contact paper and reinforced it with strong packing tape.

IMG_0617

I used my Cricut cutting machine to make horse stickers for the cupcake liner. I didn’t want to make a special trip to Michaels to buy sticker paper, so I used large shipping labels instead. Our printer has been out of commission for awhile, so I used brightly colored markers to color the horses.

IMG_0649

I covered poster board in the contact paper to add a little more support, then I attached the horse stickers and folded it accordion-style.

FullSizeRender-3

I bought two pairs of white women’s opaque tights at Target for about $5 each to use for the frosting. Since Tyson hates that we have so many throw pillows on our couches, I decided we could spare one for the stuffing inside. It was the perfect amount! I used hot glue (and a lot of it) to attach the frosting to the top edge of the bucket and the cupcake liner around the bucket.

FullSizeRender-4

For the star sprinkles, I used my Cricut again to cut different sized stars from colored card stock and then hot glued them to the frosting.

FullSizeRender-6

I couldn’t believe how easy this cupcake was to make and how perfect it came together!

FullSizeRender-8

The hat was another story! I had an extra stuffed tight leg, so I turned it into a dollop of frosting and made a candle out of a foam art brush.

IMG_1018

I originally attached the frosting dollop to a headband, but it was too top heavy and wouldn’t stay on Qwynn’s head. I remembered Qwynn had a sun hat that was too floppy for her, so I cut the brim off and hot glued the dollop of frosting to the hat.

FullSizeRender-10

It wasn’t perfect, but with the help of a few clips, it stayed on her head long enough to snap a few pictures.

IMG_0839

That’s one cute cupcake if you ask me!

Valerie Anne

Easy DIY Mermaid Costume

When Tyson’s brother first invited us to the Coney Island Mermaid Parade, I debated how much I wanted to get into it. I didn’t want to go all out, but I decided it might be fun to at least make Qwynn a simple costume. I didn’t want to spend a ton of money or a lot of time on it either, so I gave myself a $20 budget and headed to Michaels!

I knew that Michaels’ fabric selection was limited, but I was able to find 4 small squares of different green fabric designs. The problem is they didn’t have any fabric pieces large enough for the base of the mermaid skirt. I continued walking through the store and eventually came across the t-shirt section. Lightbulb!

What an inexpensive way to get a large piece of fabric! As I looked at the t-shirt more the vision just came to me—I turned it up side down and I now had a floor length skirt with a hemmed waist…essentially. I grabbed a light green small adult t-shirt and continued on. I found a piece of glittery pink felt that I thought would work perfectly for the seashell top. With my coupon (Michaels ALWAYS has coupons), my purchase total for everything was just under $10!

When I got home I searched through all my craft stuff to see what else I had that would be useful. I found some green ribbon left over from Qwynn’s first birthday. I also dug out Qwynn’s old pink sparkly skirt that was too small for her from the goodwill bag.

IMG_3731

Now usually when I decide to make something like this, I end up spending so much more money than if I would have just bought it already made. My projects also seem to take wayyyy longer than I anticipate. This project however was so easy, I was pleasantly surprised at how quick it went and how little I spent on it.

For the mermaid skirt, I started by putting the t-shirt on Qwynn and pinning the sides to get an approximate fit.

FullSizeRender

I used the pins as a guide and drew my mermaid skirt shape.

FullSizeRender_1

I do not own a sewing machine and I wouldn’t be able to use it even if I did. Luckily I have discovered a wonderful thing called sewing tape! It is about $5-6 at Michaels, but with a coupon you could easily get it down to $3-4. The only other thing you need is an iron. I used the iron-on tape to “sew” the sides of the skirt and the bottom hem.

IMG_3822 IMG_3824 IMG_3825

I was originally going to make the fins out of the t-shirt and continue the scales all the way down, but I discovered that would make the bottom too tight and impossible for Qwynn to walk, so I cut the fins off. Instead, I cut approximately 1-inch strips of the fabric and hot glued them to the bottom of the skirt, layering them to get a full look. This was a great solution because I didn’t need to be very exact in cutting the strips since I was okay with a more ragged look. And it didn’t take long to hot glue them on either.

FullSizeRender

For the waist of the skirt I cut tiny slits in the collar ever two inches or so and thread the ribbon through it so I could tie it snug around Qwynn’s waist.

IMG_3829 FullSizeRender_1

The final step for the skirt was attaching the scales. I only covered the front to save time. I cut three different sized scales out of card stock to use as tracers for the fabric.

FullSizeRender_2

Tracing and cutting the scales was by far the most tedious part of the project, so if you are not a control freak like I am ;-), I suggest recruiting help. I attached all the scales by using about two-inch pieces of sewing tape along the top of each one.

IMG_4194

For the seashell top, I used the sheer fabric from Qwynn’s old pink skirt, a small pink hair rubber band for the center, and shells cut from the pink felt. I attached the shells to the sheer fabric with hot glue.

FullSizeRender_1

Qwynn already had a light-colored t-shirt to wear under the shell top which was the final piece to the costume. That, and a big smile! 🙂

IMG_4207

I am still so shocked at how smooth this project went and I am absolutely thrilled with how it turned out! Best of all, I came out way under my $20 budget!!

Valerie Anne