Thursday, July 9, 2009


I have battled acne for the majority of my life. It's had a hold over me for 20 years now. I have used just about every single prescription product without much success. I stopped those meds nearly 4 years ago when I became pregnant. After the birth I was breastfeeding...still am...and I didn't want to put anything harsh into my body, no matter how safe some of those meds claim to be for pregnancy. I looked for natural solutions.

You can find natural acne treatments all over the place - drugstores, grocery stores, health food stores etc. The prices vary. Do the products work? I can't tell you because I've never tried them. I can tell you that I don't have much faith in them. Many natural products still contain ingredients that can irritate your skin such as parabens, artificial dyes and fragrance. So what to do you do? I looked for ways to do it myself as naturally as possible.

When I had my son I joined and began reading the message boards. I was already familiar with the magazine as I had been a subscriber for a decade. The messages boards are a.w.e.s.o.m.e. There's such a wonderful variety of people there with enormous amounts of information, resources and experience. It was after reading post after post about natural skin care that I came up with my own little regimine. There following is what I use most often:

Organic Apple Cider Vinegar
Lavender Essential Oil
Tea Tree Oil
Chammomile Essential Oil
Raw Honey

Apple Cider Vinegar is one of those little wonders from nature. It's very good for you when used both externally and internally. It's a purifier and can help heal a variety of ailments. Our focus here is the skin. ACV is best when organic and raw. That's not always the cheapest option, so if you have to choose between organic and raw then go with organic. ACV works as a toner, it helps regulate the pH of the skin and is also an antiseptic and will take care of the naughty little bacteria involved in acne. It's high in alpha-hydroxy acids and will help calm and smooth skin over time. There are different schools of thought on whether or not to dilute it or not before applying it to your skin. With anything, use the most gentle option first, so dilute it. For me, I apply it full strength with no problems. You can let it sit on your skin for 5 to 10 minutes before rinsing with water or you can leave it on overnight. This isn't something to apply before you go on a date as you'll smell like fermentation. Mmmmm.

Essential oils also have benefits for skin. As with ACV, organic is best and it's even better when it's organic and wildcrafted. Again, this is not always an option due to expense. For me, Lavender, Tea Tree Oil and Chammomile have all worked the best. The use of TTO for acne is pretty mainstream these days, with lavender and chammomile being lesser known. These three oils do well together. You can apply separately, alternating days, or together. I do both. There is debate, as with ACV, on application. Some believe you need to dilute it in a carrier, such as jojoba oil. Others believe you can apply it "neat," that is, directly to the skin. I apply it neat and haven't experienced issues with it. You can swipe it all over your face with a pad or you can spot treat individual pimples. When I have a nasty little whitehead, I dab a q-tip (organic cotton - you can get them cheap at whole foods) with one or a combo of these oils and apply it directly to the pimple. The whitehead is usually gone within seconds. If I'm not running right out the door I will put a little raw honey over the spot to help it heal.
  • Chammomile - I use Roman Chammomile, which I believe is generally the best for skin issues. It has many healing properties. For acne it acts as an antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and calming agent. It also has tonic properties. This oil is helpful when dealing with painful pimples.
  • Lavender - Like Chammomile, it has many, many healing properties. And for the skin, it works a lot like chammomile. It's antiseptic and anti-microbial. I prefer Bulgarian Lavender.
  • Tea Tree - the smelliest of the bunch. It's another germ-killer and also has analgesic properties. TTO has the ability to stimulate immune function, which helps the skin heal itself.
Raw Honey is another one of nature's little powerhouses. Bees produce a miraculous little substance that has hundreds of healing properties, both internal and external. It has been used since well before the Birth of Christ as a healing agent. For the skin it is another antibacterial/antiseptic/antimicrobial agent. It literally draws impurities out of the skin. Due to that you may experience a slight break out during the first few days of using raw honey as it works to get all the junk out from under your skin. Raw is best as it's in it's natural and pure form. Pasteurization can kill off some of the good stuff in honey. Now, I have used pasteurized honey with success, but I find that raw honey makes a world of difference. Honey heals skin amazingly well. Just apply it to a cut and see for yourself. It's jam packed with vitamins and enzymes that heal.

A lot of times I apply ACV with a fabric cosmetic round (if you want disposable, try to use organic cotton if possible. Cotton contains an innumerable amount of pesticides that don't do anything to help your skin). I use fabric to lighten the load on the planet. These are tiny and don't make a dent in my laundry. I let it sit for a few and I don't wash it off. I used to apply a mix of my three essential oils with a cosmetic round, but I've changed my routine. I now have a separate honey jar where I've mixed raw honey with lavender, chammomile and tea tree essential oils. I apply that mixture to my skin with my hands (clean, of course) and let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes. I do this before a shower so I wash it all off in there.

After showers, I moisturize with organic jojoba oil, which has healing properties of it's own and is usually very good for acne-prone skin. It also works well as a carrier for essential oils.

This routine has helped immensely. There is also the issue of internal reasons for acne, such as poor diet and other health conditions, which I'll address another time. The skin secretes toxins from within our body, so it's logical to believe that an imbalance within the body with manifest on the skin. So drink your water, eat well and take some skin-happy supplements like a good-quality probiotic.

If you're interested in re-usable fabric cosmetic rounds, visit HagRag That's where I got mine. They are also very easy to make.

For good quality essential oils visit Mountain Rose Herbs. (this is an affiliate link - just hit up if you don't want to go through my affiliate)

This post is part of the Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways Blog hop, sponsored by Frugally sustainable.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Not so thrilled

Damn iTunes. So addictive.

Naturally, I'm spending lots o' time on iTunes downloading Michael Jackson songs. I'm such a sell-out. And to sell out even more, I'm devoting one of these here little bloggy things to the man. Yeah. Crotch grab. Hee hee.

In case you were not aware, as news never travels fast these days, Michael Jackson died. I know. Shocker, right? Well yeah, it was a shocker. I mean, you look at this 112 lb mostly plastic and bleached (???) man and wonder how his body can keep going. Looks like it couldn't. When you throw stress and lots of yummy little drugs into the mix it gets even worse for that frail body. Still, we weren't expecting that, were we? It seems like Heaven is in need of some entertainment as so many great celebs have been called to St. Peter's press junket. Droppin' like flies, they are.

I'm not flying to L.A. for his memorial service. I have not slept in bed with my MJ barbie doll while wearing a sequined white glove, rocking myself in the fetal position to the tune of P.Y.T. I haven't glued myself to the TV, the internetz or mobile updates for any and all news of his life, death and in between. I have not yelled at people making jokes about him. Hell, I made a few of my own. But, can I say his death has zero effect on me? Uh-uh.

Say what you want about the dude - he was creepy, a pedophile, a junkie, straight up fucked up - the man had a massive amount of talent. Massive. THAT, what he was, will not be seen again. No. You can't deny it. I wasn't the biggest fan. I wasn't an anti-fan, either. I liked me some Michael Jackson from time to time. Back in the day, the real day before half of you darling readers were born, I was a big fan. Before Bowie there was Michael Jackson. Interesting trivia about Bowie and Jackson. David Bowie did the moonwalk waaaaaay before Jackson. Had to get that in there. Back to the note. Ahem. Yet, he wasn't my favorite. No. My 5 year old heart belonged to Boy George. The leap from Boy George to Bowie isn't a surprise, is it? Anyhoo, back to Jackson. 2nd to that fedora-wearing, eyeliner-lovin' and ribbon-braided Karma Chameleon was the jerry-curled, moon-walking still-black Jackson. I don't care if you think he's a creepy boydiddler, I doubt there are many my age who didn't have themselves holed up in their bedrooms back in the early 80's rockin' out to Thriller, trying those dance moves and moonwalking. Uh uh. You know you put on yo mama's white isotoner glover and slid backwards, tripping over your feet while fufilling your Billie Jean fantasies. Hell yeah, I wore my brother's red leather jacket and pretended I, too, was a Zombie. I walked down the steet to Rita's house, pretending the sidewalk blocks were lighting up under my feet. Me and Rita (she was as obsessed with Jackson as I later became with Bowie) would spend time at our respective houses watching Thriller and trying to get those moves down. That shit was part of the soundtrack of our early lives. I eventually put that album away in favor of Ziggy Stardust, Diamond Dogs and Hunky Dory, but I always respected Michael Jackson. Before my room was plastered with pictures of Jareth, The Thin White Duke, Aladdin Sane, Halloween Jack, Ziggy Stardust, Tommy Newton etc. (hint: those are ALL Bowie), there were pictures of The Gloved-One next to pictures of George Alan O'Dowd (google it) and unicorns. BREAK: Really, Firefox? You had to underline "google?" BACK TO IT: And later, Moonwalker came out. I was a little old for that silly Michael Jackson stuff, but damn if I didn't watch it often. When no one was looking, I'd copy all the dancing from "Smooth Criminal." Good times. A few years after that allegations popped up. I don't know why, but I WANTED to believe them. Crazy I be. But, I never believed it. I go with my gut a lot and my gut always said he didn't do it. Sure, that dude was NOT normal. He had issues and could have used one or two sessions with Dr. Phil. Instead, I saw that he was incredibly fucked-up from the life he's had since his pre-school days. One can easily see that this man missed childhood so badly and that his frail mind did everything to hold onto any semblance of childhood. At some point, and with the help of drugs, those reality lines were blurred in his head. The man didn't make good decisions regarding his dealings with youngins', but I don't believe he harmed them. He was stupid. And people took advantage of that stupidity. Maybe not all parents are like me, but if someone diddled my kid there wouldn't be time for a court case. Sure, a cool $20 million would be nice, but I don't put a price on my kids like that. I would slice and dice any such bastard before I even thought of calling 1-800-Lawyer. I think both cases, especially that 2nd one, were absolute bullshit. I could be wrong. Maybe years from now MacCauley, Webster or Corey will Twitter about some sort of naughty diddling, but I doubt it. I don't think I'm wrong. I think it's a really sad situation. Someone who had his own childhood ripped out from under his feet, who tried desperately to replace it, but succumbed to mental illness and drugs.

And I will not deny that I shed a tear, or two and perhaps three for the man. My mom called me while I was on the PA Turnpike to tell me the news. I turned on the radio where a few stations were already playing the hits. Thriller came on and I remembered those days in my room or my basement, dancing with my little white glove, and I had a bit of tear for the dude.

He was supremely gifted and talented and he inspired SO MUCH. How many singers, dancers, entertainers were inspired by him? His dancing is what awed me the most as dance is a huge passion of mine (but I suck at it, lol). I just watched that video of him with Janet for the song, "Scream." Wow. I personally know dancers in my life who started back in the 80's because of Michael Jackson. You see his influence in so many moves, especially in hip hop. Eerily, the night before he died I was watching my fav show, "So You Think You Can Dance." Brandon and - shit, what's her name? - did this rock vs. rap number that was AWESOME. There were a few old school MJ moves from Thriller. The next night, on the results show, Nigel gave a nice little speech about him (and Ed and Farrah). We all know his legacy will live on, especially in dance. Though, I would like to clarify something I saw on one of those gossip shows. They said MJ was the innovator of the artist dancing with the back-up dancers dancing in unison behind him. While he certainly put his own flavor on it and made it his own 25 years ago, it wasn't something new. You can see it in ballet. So there. But, without his influence we may not have had some of our favorite artists and dancers in this age.

As for people who say, "good, I'm glad he's dead because he was creepy and sick." C'mon. Call him on his excsessive plastic surgery or his weird personal life, but it's not cool to celebrate someone's untimely death in that way. I don't care who it is....well, with the exception of someone like Osama, but you get what I mean.

So there we have it. I devoted a blog to a celebrity death. But I'd lie if I said it didn't matter to me. I truly hope he is at peace now. I believe he is.
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