Lesson #5: Splurge on Quality Products If You’ll Use Them

You’re getting two lessons in one day, folks! (I missed yesterday because I pulled a double at the theatre and passed out on the couch before writing up a post.)

Lesson #4 was finding a qualified dermatologist and putting your skin in their hands. This lesson ties in very closely to that, I think: if you find a beauty product you love and know you’ll use it repeatedly indefinitely, then it’s ok to splurge a bit. Am I saying I spend $500 on an eye cream? No. (Oh hell no!) But I will spend $27 on a foundation that’s in my shade exactly and helps treat acne that I’ll use every singe day for at least six months. Or $34 on the only conditioner I’ve ever used that was moisturizing without making my head look like a greasy mop (and I knew would last me, literally, a year and a half). Or $22 on the most enduring eye liner I’ve sampled.

While these prices aren’t outrageous to some of you, my lovely readers, they would have been to me ten years ago. But my more adult logic is this: when I was in my early twenties, I would go to the local drug store and buy a handful of products for $5-$10 each. None of them would work as well as I would hope for (the lipstick would bleed, the foundation would be blotchy, the shampoo would build up after one wash, etc.), so I would go back the next month and buy similar products in the same price range and repeat the whole scenario ad nauseam, wasting so. much. cash.

When I discovered both Birchbox and Sephora, my beauty buying habits changed immensely. Getting monthly samples for only $10 from Birchbox allowed me to try so many different things without investing in a product until I knew it worked. And Sephora… Well, their sampling and return policy is to die for wonderful, so I’m never afraid to buy merchandise knowing I can bring it back, no questions asked (like the Clarisonic brush that I despised!). The fear of spending $20-$30 on one thing dissipated as soon as I knew that the price met the legitimate quality. While I spend too much money on beauty stuff (true fact), it’s all stuff that I use regularly and can rely on to work, as opposed to those products that would linger on the shelf and get tossed after six months.


Lesson #4: Love Your Dermatologist

I’ve had horrible skin since I was 13 years old: oily and acne-prone, I’ve often joked with people how I feel like I have had mini-Mount Vesuviuses on my face for almost 20 years. I’ve run the gamut of product treatments, from the over the counter creams (that are often too abrasive) to a course of Accutane (aka isotretinoin), the most diehard prescription for acne available). Some have worked really well, while others have caused more trouble than original problem.

Through this all, I’ve learned the valuable lesson of loving my dermatologist. She has a degree in knowing skin, so I trust her when I’m having problems. She’s told me what I’ve been doing wrong (like using apricot pit facial scrubsouch!), explored various options to relieve my dermal dilemmas (like taking oral antibiotics), and been supportive when I wanted to hide under a mask for months on end. Plus, my doctor always gives me coupons, vouchers, and alternatives when it comes to paying for products. Oh — and samples! She loves samples! (And so do I !)

If you’re having any type of skin ailment — rosacea, hyper-pigmentation, acne, psoriasis, eczema, or some thing that’s simply bothering you — find a qualified, caring dermatologist,  schedule an appointment and make a new best friend.

The Cat’s Meow

We have three felines. I think their nicknames give you a sense of each personality. (When TS Elliot wrote that cats have several names, not just the ones we give them, he wasn’t kidding.)

  1. Lenka, aka “Cat-Face,” “Baby Guurl,” or, when she’s particularly naughty, “Lenka-what-are-you-DOING?!” (all one word).
  2. Sweetie, aka “Sweetheart,” “Skinny Minny,” “Vomit-a-tron 1” (yeah, gross, but apt).
  3. Violet, aka “Shrinking Violet” or, lately, “Miss Meows-a-lot.”

In my “about me” page, I mention that sometimes our cats photobomb these mini morning shoots. Usually it’s a casual walk through or sometimes they roll a ball at me to play. But, for some reason, this morning all of our cats decided that they wanted to hang out with me in front of the camera.

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Skirt: Stitch Fix

Tights: Target

Flats: TOMS

Necklace: The Knotty Owl via Etsy

Sweetie is the demure tuxedo I’m holding in the first photo, while Lenka is the photogenic Maine Coon. (Yes, I’m holding her on her back upside down: we’ve developed a weird gymnastic routine for her because she loves attention so much.) And Violet is the flash of black fur.

I don’t know why they wanted to join me today. Maybe it’s the skirt? Sweetie liked it last time I wore it. Or maybe they liked my raven’s skull necklace from The Knotty Owl?


I really like this outfit because it’s a fun way to play with texture and pattern. The shirt has a great iridescent sheen to it, which plays well against the grain of the skirt: each light up in various ways as they shift. The skirt also has a larger, geometric pattern, which fly right up against the organic cheetah print of the shoes. And the tights? They provide a dark background for the shoes to pop and I like that the neutral color of top and the black of the tights are both picked up again in the shoes. Oh, and it’s autumn in New England and they’re part of the uniform now.

Finally: the necklace! I bought this stunner a couple of years ago when Ashley listed it on sale for 40% off. I simply couldn’t decline a beautiful hand carved replica of a ravens’s skull at reduced price. (I mean, really?!) When it arrived, B named this guy “Lookout” after the rook’s skull in Stephen King’s The Dark Tower. I didn’t know the allusion readily, but I loved that there could be such a reference made. He “looks out” for those cats all the time, making sure they don’t bat all my other gems and trinkets around.

Weekly Wants: Skin Deep

For this week’s edition of “Weekly Wants,” I’m focusing on skin care. I haven’t addressed this fact directly on the blog yet, but I deal with cystic acne — those deep, ugly pimples that really hurt and seem impossible to deal with. I think it’s a genetic thing, as my mother’s dealt with the same problem for most of her life, so I’m also keenly aware that this isn’t a faze for my skin, this is simply how it’ll be for me for a long time. I’m kind of obsessed with means of treating acne and making skin look and feel better — themes you’ll see in my wants.

Before I get started, some quick points. First: I love my dermatologist. I sometimes think that we’re besties, mainly because I don’t let anyone look at my bare skin as closely or intensely as I let her. While I use over-the-counter products, I also use prescription products to help keep my face clear. Second: I’m not a doctor. I’m not scientifically certified in any way, shape, or form actually. Please, if you’re experiencing skin ailments, see a professional. My derm has changed my life (really!). Third: I wasn’t paid to list these products. They’re all sitting in my Birchbox cart until pay day!

Supergoop!® Anti-Aging City Sunscreen Serum SPF 30

First up: Supergoop! Anti-Aging Sunscreen Serum SPF 30. The end of my 20s is nigh, so I really should endeavor to take better care of my skin when it comes to light exposure and pollution. The topical prescription I use can be fairly drying, so this dual action moisturizer and sunscreen could hopefully combat two problems at once.

Shiseido Simple Start for Trouble-Free Skin IBUKI Set

Next, Shiseido’s Simple Start for Trouble Free Skin. I’ve always heard that Shiseido created luxurious, miraculous products, so this value kit (only $25!) seems right up my alley. It includes a cleanser, softening concentrate, moisturizer, and their renowned Ultimune Power Infusing Concentrate (I feel like that sounds like something out of a comic book!). For a company that’s been around for 140 years, they have to know what’s going on, right?

WEI™ Multi Mask Multi Task Mask Collection
Finally, WEI’s Multi Mask Collection. I received a sample of WEI’s Manuka Bee Venom Mask in a Birchbox this winter and surprisingly loved it. (I do have some reservations about the harvesting of been venom: I’ve found some articles explaining a non-harmful method, but nothing specifically on WEI’s process of cultivation.) Beside ethical hesitation (which is the main reason why I haven’t purchased this collection since I added it to my cart several months ago), I’d be very excited to sample the other two masks included here before buying a full set of either — the Golden Root Purifying Mud Mask and the Kakadu Plum Brightening Sugar Mask.

What’s your skin like? Dry? Oily? Combination? What products do you use to treat your skin woes (if you’ve got those!)? Any magic elixirs you’d like to tell the world about?