I Got Bit in the face

Adventures in being a skincare guinea pig, Books, reading and lessons learned, Skincare

There are certain sayings that I have always known and yet always disliked.

“It’ll come back and bite you in the butt’

Well, in my case, at the end of my week (and a bit) of trying to return to my Plan A skincare routine, I left London for a few days – spent some time in the English countryside, then ventured home to Geneva for a few days.

It was then that I got bit. In the face. Twice. By a mosquito. Or two. On a romantic dinner, perhaps. How pleasant a thought.

The charming lumps under my left eye and on my left cheek respectfully, are the evidence of the scene of a crime. But more than that, they are a lesson. Three, in fact.

  1. Your skin is part of you. Your body’s largest organ. It is there to protect you. It is important. But it is not one’s heart, liver or lungs. So as we indulge in caring for our skin, we remember that this aesthetic pleasure is a secondary one. Lest we make the pride and joy of our lives something that is inevitably, temporary.
  2. Anything can happen. Be prepared – and keep calm. One cannot plan for everything in life. (As much as we may wish to)
  3. Remember the lessons of the past. The hyperpigmentation work I had to do after overcoming pretty severe acne will be of use now in this, albeit, very small facial region.

So, so some pointed remedial action will be necessary in ‘Plan B’. The plan I am in the middle of constructing. This time I will bear in mind that change takes time. Ideally I should set aside a few months. But let’s try two weeks shall we?

Peace, love and joy,

Christiana

PLAN A: Returning to my Old Skincare Routine – A (very) comprehensive, step by step review

Adventures in being a skincare guinea pig, Life Essentials, Skincare

How did I ever keep up with this?

My MSc was hard. It was an intense year. Stress is what initiated adult acne for me when I was almost 19. And remained a constant catalyst for MEGA breakouts and skin mishaps. I will share my misadventures in skincare and repair another time. But adherence to this routine kept my skin clear, and pretty much amazing. After a few haphazard months; this is my return to the old routine. A few months have gone by. And my skin is in need of some TLC. For one week, I will try my old tried and tested – to see if it will help return my skin to its former glory.

So here’s the theory. Please note that I have, for reasons I may explain another time, what might be described as combination-oily skin. My skin was always very oily and acne prone. The major part of my skincare journey and the catalyst to my becoming more ‘skincare savvy’ and applying my scientific background to my personal skincare was dealing with very oily skin and SERIOUS acne. Having dealt with that, I now get away with additional moisture that I wouldn’t have before. That said – my skin type still leans towards being oily.

 

Morning:

Duration: 8 minutes

When I constructed this I decided to go light in the mornings to make it as quick as possible. The evenings are when I do the real repair. My morning focus is antioxidants to prevent sun damage and skin radical formation, light moisturization (especially in the spring, autumn and summer) as well as SPF cover.

Step 1: Wash

Garnier Pure Active face wash / Alchimie Forever Purifiying Facial Cleanser

Step 2: Air Dry then Pat Gently with a Thick Disposable Kitchen Towel

This is how I did it. And I explain why later in this article. If you plan to emulate this step, make sure to use and absorbent, thick towel that doesn’t break apart and transfer itty bitty bits of tissue onto your face. (Speaking from experience)

Step 3: SERUM!

I used the Skinceuticals Phloretin cf. THE NUMBER OF TIMES I LITERALLY SPILLED THIS! It isn’t cheap and I have spilled so many bottles of this. It actually once stained my walk in dressing room table. I might do a tour of my itty-bitty-serum-stained-walk-in if anyone is interested.

As for the serum – I can’t tell you what this does for me. Full transparency. Because I don’t know. But I didn’t want to alter any part of my routine. I have used a LOT of Skinceuticals products. I like the products but I hold some reservations here and there.

Step 4: Locking it all in

La Roche-Posay Effaclar duo +. Not sure why. It was recommended to me by an aesthetician a while back. And I like the smell. Voila.

Step 5: THE GOOD STUFF: Moisturizer

Even if you have acne, try not to skip on the moisturizer. It is important to keep your skin hydrated in some form as drying it out constantly (something I TRIED FOR AGES) tends to self-perpetuate a cycle of continuous sebum production. I haven’t read any scientific literature to support this claim – but I experienced it myself. I use Dermalogica Active Moist moist of the time and when I feel like a lighter moisturiser with SPF I use the Alchime Forever Protective Day Cream SPF 23.

Step 6: Sun Protection

Last but not least! Both my dermatologist and aesthetician admonished me to wear SPF. I would sit in the sun for ages without any coverage for years. I travelled around on summer vacations in the blazing sun without any sunscreen on my face or body. I just loved the sun and with my dark skin – thought I was somehow immune to the dangers presented by prolonged sun exposure. Oh, how wrong I was. Minimally from the standpoint of keeping my skin looking and feeling lovely.

Now I use SPF every day. My final morning step was using the La Roche-Posay Anthelios XL SPF 50+ Dry Touch. Forever a fave and a gem for those of us with oily skin who don’t want that “sunscreen sheen”.

 

 

Evening:

Duration: 15 minutes

Bearing in mind that this is my old (successful) skincare routine, without any of the new ‘last minute’ repair measures. Just stable, good and routine.

Step 1: Wash (again)

Washing my face. (Every night!!? YES. I did this every night. Despite almost never wearing make up. And I tell you that this works magic!)

Usually used the La Roche-Posay Effaclar Purifying Foaming gel. I find this nice and gentle for the evening.

Step 2: Air dry my face and pat with a kitchen towel (again)

It’s a bit of a repetition game here. But routine is good. Right? I use a kitchen towel because when I had acne, I realised that I didn’t want to transfer the bacteria that might potentially dwell on a facecloth onto my face. This just seemed like the easiest option – outside of purchasing several facecloths and washing them at a frequency that would allow me to use a new one each morning and another new one in the evening. This is the ecological (and reasonable) choice. I was simply too busy/lazy for this. People still wonder why I have a roll of kitchen towel in my bathroom. But they never ask.

Step 3: SERUM TIME!

At a particular point in time I was layering on up to 3-4 serums a night! But in its unadulterated form this is what I did. I will be skipping one of these now as I no longer need it.

1. Skinceuticals Advanced Pigment Corrector – I would use this only on the areas where I was still trying to fade acne scars. (Incidentally – an aesthetician once told me that some of them would never fade – this routine conquered that!)

2. I then used the super gentle Alchimie Forever Pigment Lightening Serum. Fantastic for skin texture. I recommended this to friends, family and professors alike. Everyone fell in love with this and noted an improvement in tactile skin texture if they used it for a while. It also helps with mildly evening out the skin tone. This one is a true gem. Let the serums soak in here. There is no rush.

Step 4: Sealing it all in: Lovely, glorious acids

After this I used the Eneomey Stim Renew 8 – Anti-ageing Radiance Night Cream. This is actually the new version. The original one had the same chemical composition in terms of the proportion of the constituent acids but just different packaging and marketing. So not to worry if you happen to come across the old version. This is a little known product recommended to me by a very well known aesthetician. I started out by using this only over the dark hyperpigmentation spots but moved on to using this everywhere. It is very moisturising too – which is why I didn’t use it everywhere at first. But I later discovered that this night moisture does absolute wonders. Again, let this soak in. Do this whilst listening to an audiobook. I used this as my winding down time.

Step 5: Finally – Moisturiser

Maybe an overkilll. But I would always round this up with the Dermaligica Active moist once again. This is the best, all-rounder, light moisturiser for acne prone skin that I have used. If you have acne, ideally you should err towards a water based moisturiser. In the morning this will also avoid that 12pm noon ‘shine’ in the t-zone.

 

 

Twice weekly:

  1. Physical Exfoliation: Clairsonic Mia 2 or for something more gentle Alchimie Forever Gentle Refining scrub. (LOVE IT). I would replace this with the evening step 1. This is long enough already. I will talk about occasional masks and blah blah some other time.
  2. Acne (+ fine line) Prevention: The final part of my evening Step 3 about four – five times weekly was the Skinceuticals Retinol 0.3 Corrective Treatment. In Switzerland, 0.3 is the highest concentration one can obtain. In the UK, however, I know that one can obtain retinol up to 1.0 concentration without a prescription. (I appreciate the pump bottle of the 0.3.) I used the lowest concentration as this was sufficient to help me to keep my acne at bay (after it had cleared up). Depending on your skin and skin type this is one to introduce carefully and build up if necessary. If you use a retinoid (at any concentration) by prescription I would strongly advise that you do not use a retinol.

So, here goes! Wish me well!

P.s. I am only starting my week TOMORROW. The reason for this is because I had to reorder one or two of these because I realised they were not all in my arsenal anymore.

*Most of the links are (generally) in pounds. I just assumed this would be easier as I wrote this in London. (Although I am currently posting in Switzerland! Only home for a few days.) I will try to use international shipping sites where possible.

A New Era

Adventures in being a skincare guinea pig, Reflections, Skincare

And so begun my ‘quarter-life crisis’. Or, perhaps, begins.

After five and a half years, two degrees, one business, two blogs, and many memories – here begins my last 5 weeks in London. I have never been a Londoner. In fact, I have never really been fully anything. And my time in London has been spent largely travelling to get away from this wonderfully miserable, awfully magical city.

I ‘return’ to Switzerland. A brand new city – not Geneva, but the charmingly beautiful city of Lausanne. For my new adventure! I came to London at 18. And now, at 24, I am ready to move on. I have learned a lot, grown into an adult, bought my own ‘stuff’ and paid bills.

This, however, is about another journey. My skincare journey. My skincare story has been a long and winding one. So let’s just start here.

After my MSc, jumping straight into 5 months at a crazy, hectic job, almost two hours daily commute on the underground under the armpits of fellow Londoners during rush hour, poor self care, high stress and not nearly enough sleep – my skin is in shambles. Utter shambles and its true! At least I now know I have pores. (Seeing is believing, right?) And, to aid my 2014 nostalgia – the occasional forehead acne blowout party! As if that wasn’t enough – the heatwave, pollution, winter realisations that my oily skin is actually combination….. ? Wait what. As a self-proclaimed skincare connoisseur – the past year has taught me a lot. Serums serums serums. The ‘bloggers fave’ from the in-flight duty free catalogue that gave me a full fortnight appearance of a hass avocado. After only one use! (Talk about results) You know who you are. I bought two of you .And I paid in euros. But I was invoiced in dollars.

But now, I’m free. Two full working days of marvellous unemployment and I’m as anxious as ever. So what will I do with my skin?

PLAN A: Try my old skincare routine with adherence. Lets see what happens after a week, shall we?

Today I will take a photo and in one week, another. I will detail my skincare routine in steps. Let’s see if it works!

Why the Modern, Independent Woman Identifies with Blair Waldorf: Gossip Girl 10-year anniversary!

Books, reading and lessons learned, Fashion, Monday juice, Reflections

I first discovered Gossip Girl in high school. I was a latecomer to the party. And spent most of one Christmas break binge watching the preceding seasons. I couldn’t pull myself away.

I rediscovered the show long after it had ended – and then again this  year. I had missed the last season or two; but I had gathered from social media that “Chuck Bass is dead. No wait, actually he’s not.”

Needless to say, I now know the show very well and have taken a liking to one character in particular: Blair Waldorf.

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Hate her or love her, this month marks the 10 year anniversary of the start of the first ever season of Gossip Girl. This piece resonates with me. And I would like to share with you why I feel that Blair is the perfect proxy for the young, ambitious, independent woman (note: not girl).

1.Blair taught us what it can mean to ‘have it all’

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The concept of “Having it all” has taken on a slightly different meaning for millennial women, such as myself. We went from despising the term – we read and still love Sheryl Sandberg’s ‘Lean in’ – to thinking ‘Perhaps this term isn’t so bad – if one defines it right’.

I am of the generation who were at the age to be watching Gossip Girl during those formative high school years. And unbeknownst to me, for whatever reason, something stuck – because many years later I returned to the show – in part – with a brand new set of eyes.

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Long gone are the days that women had to choose between having a successful career, being taken seriously and financially independent and having a ‘family’ – potentially wealthy husband and a couple of lovely children. Today we know we can have it all – it is largely the norm for women to work regardless of if they have children.

But Blair showed us another level of having it all.

She had the passionate love affair, wealthy boyfriend, and after inheriting her mum’s company worked very hard, independently, to make a success of it. She set the bar very high. She faced people assuming/suggesting that her standards were indeed too high. But she met them. And she achieved inconceivable success.

BEA Yes thank you

Most importantly, despite her young romance and SPOILER ALERT – getting married and settling down very early in life – she had a man who understood her ambition; and had his own. They both knew they had important milestones to achieve before settling down. But their ‘love’ was strong enough to sustain this – and wisdom prevailed. Despite ups and downs, they waited until they were each successful in their own rite before settling down. And that is the next level of ‘having it all’.

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On that note, Blair was also not afraid to love, and show it. She declared her love with boldness. She followed her heart, but she followed her mind too.

2. Fighting for it

There’s no denying that Blair came from privilege. Nonetheless, unlike Nate Archibald, Blair was not a Vanderblit. Her connections and influence did not have anywhere near the same kind of reach. Unlike her on-off-on-again heartthrob lover, Chuck Bass – she had no Empire to inherit.

In fact, I might go so far as to suggest that compared to many of her on screen comrades, Blair’s financial background was relatively modest. Her conscious or subconscious awareness of this may be why she overcompensated with additional snobbery, the ever-visible presence of Dorota, adamant rejection of Brooklyn, always beautiful, intentional outfits; not to mention her ‘minions’.

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Her mother was a very successful designer, but those connections only went so far; particularly outside of the fashion industry. Case in point: after Blair’s short-lived marriage to Louis, his family’s dowry would have bankrupt her family. But Chuck paid it off in secret. Serena could date or marry whomever she wanted without fear of a change in lifestyle, as her grandmother, Cece’s money would last for “generations”. Blair was in. Blair was the same – particularly in the short term. Money doesn’t buy class – and Blair had class in abundance. But, Blair had to fight, and she knew it.

So, she FOUGHT. Blair knew the woman she wanted to be. And that woman was not ‘good enough’. She was the BEST. She fought for that internship at ‘The W’ – as she did not have any particular advantage in journalism despite boundless persistence. This might partially explain Blair’s ‘scheming’.

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Blair will fight for love, she will fight for success, she will fight for power. She will, unapologetically, fight for whatever she wants.

3. Blair is a real woman

Make no mistake, Blair is, in every way, absolutely gorgeous. She is elegant, regal, has perfect skin, beautiful eyes and knows it, too. But, in some way, she is also accessible. She is not the perfect, tall, blonde, fabulous, effortless and seemingly unattainable, Serena Van Der Woodsen . Somehow, it is easier to see oneself in Blair. It almost feels as though she has yet to come to a place of full awareness of self. And that is something that many of us can relate to.

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Blair wakes up in the morning, puts herself together – often with the help of Dorota – and looks amazing all the time. But she suffers emotions, too. She ‘wears’ a brave face, just like many of us do. She hides if she can, but she she shows up when she knows she MUST. You get the sense that she is still battling her emotional troubles – even when she smiles. And you realise that she is not simply ‘high maintenance’ for the sake of it. She is ‘high maintenance’ because being Blair is hard. It takes effort to get up in the morning, and commit as well as strive to be the best in every aspect of her life. It takes effort to be Blair.

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4. She always has a plan but she is still finding her path

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One gets the impression that most of the time Blair is not ‘living for the moment’. She is sparingly spontaneous. She is aware of the effects of her actions – even when her actions are manifested in a less than savoury type of ‘scheming’. Her intelligence and love of the arts and literature drew her to Dan Humphrey in later seasons. And even she didn’t fully understand why, or how to interpret that friendship. So she hid it, she questioned herself, misinterpreted her own feelings, misinterpreted his feelings and, finally, in one of life’s cyclical turns, found her centre once again.

Although seemingly unexpected, this kind of episode is typical of Blair. Just like her episode with Prince Louis. She might have a good idea as to who she is or what she loves, but he doesn’t yet know what she wants.

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And yes, denial is part of it, but for the most part, Blair just doesn’t know how to feel. And has the tendency to place more importance on the feelings and expectations of others.

We know little of her most private thoughts. But we all know that Blair spends a lot of time thinking about the future. Focussed, fixated. But simultaneously, not entirely sure what it holds. She knows the kind of woman she wants to become, and like many of us, is still forging her path.

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Nonetheless, she does this with the utmost, outward confidence. And somehow, that too, is aspirational. Blair taught us: ‘You don’t need to know what it is yet, but if you can see it, if you can see the faintest glimmer, you can have it. And you should ALWAYS chase your dreams.’

Chuck and Blair decided they wanted to find their individual paths of success independently, first. And this formed the foundation of her relationship – although imperfect – Blair selected a man who is powerful, masculine, loving, liberal and who supports her hopes, dreams and ambitions.

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We all came to love Chuck Bass, whether or not we cared to admit it to ourselves, but we loved him for who he was to Blair.

 

Have an amazing day!

– Chonye 

 

 

 

Image links are available upon request 🙂

 

The “Thinker’s” Guide to becoming a useful citizen of the world.

Monday juice, Reflections

Global citizenship is not a term that I have ever particularly loved.

Rather, it is one that has, perhaps, been thrust upon me. And that I have not felt a specific reason to resist. Conceptually, however, it is important. We live in a world in which hate has no place, but persists. And many of us have the desire to DO something to make it better. “Making an impact” is a vague term.

In my opinion, the first step to becoming part of the solution is extracting oneself from being part of the problem (well-meaning as one may be).

 

So here is my ‘thinker’s’ first steps to becoming a useful citizen of the world:

  1. Question everything you know about the world.

Knowledge is an asset. Misinformation is a liability. It’s easy to take certain information for granted that may not necessarily be grounded in contemporary, statistical or empirical evidence or proof.

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  1. Challenge knowledge you have through your own personal experiences.

How representative are the perceptions you hold based on experience? Seeing may be believing; but remember that the worlds that you have experienced; be it the neighbourhood you grew up in, or stories from major metropoles you have heard, or the village in a country that is low-income by classification.

 

  1. Realise that the world is constantly changing: and in many instances, that change is incredibly rapid.

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Some of our facts may be outdated. And that’s okay. Clinging to them as contemporary truth, however, is not.

 

  1. Accept that the everything in the world is incredibly nuanced.

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There is rarely right and wrong, black and white. Most situations are remarkably complex: inherently so and additionally by virtue of the multiple external factors that influence and manipulate them. As a rule of thumb, if anything – an epidemiological trend, a political action or the funding of drug development seems easy to understand – you may have an accurate conceptual understanding but you almost certainly have not yet had the opportunity to understand the full picture.

Challenges arise when we, or those we elect, do not have a broad and comprehensive understanding of a situation. Sometimes, it is not necessarily in their interest to do so. (It is important to recognise all the stakeholders and attempt to understand the factors that inform their agenda.) But a genuine lack of understanding understanding can result in poorly designed, imprecise solutions that do not prove effective; or misallocation of resources.

My hope is that this will be food for thought.

Have a stellar Monday!

-Chonyee

Une femme au volant de sa vie – “A woman in charge of her own life”

Non classé

“I never knew what I wanted to do, but I knew the type of woman I wanted to be” – Diane Von Furstenberg

Choosing female role models was an important step for me. A few years ago I read “The Woman I wanted To Be” by Diane Von Furstenberg. She speaks about her life, her mother, background, love and her fight to become this woman. The woman “au volant de sa propre vie” – in charge of her own life. Not dependent upon a man and with the freedom to make her own decisions.

I realised that at the heart of this was one of the most prominent life lessons I inherited from my own mother. Not from her words, but from observing her actions. How she had decided what kind of life she wanted and the kind of life she wanted for her children. She achieved that goal. I watched her. And I learned that two of the most valuable determinants of great success are both hard work and faith.

Hard work.

And faith.

I remember this as I run my own race, and begin my journey. It’s easy to recall our achievements, but it is important to recall the work and sacrifices that went into achieving them. I see this already in my own life. And in my search for understanding and purpose in the pursuit of the dreams that God has laid on my heart; I am always mindful of this. And when I am not, I will return to this post and remind myself,

Christiana