The cost of spots

the cost of spots

My entire being is covered in a constellation of spots. On my left thigh I can draw the little dipper; as for my back, I avoid letting it see the light of day out of embarrassment. I wish I was hiding a regrettable tattoo rather than an endless sea of spots most likely borne from fake baking in my early twenties.

I was checked from top to toes last Monday: freckles, and moles (mole-y, mole-y, mole. Mole.) - nothing was safe. My dermatologist was pretty casual about the whole thing as she peered through her handheld microscope to inspect my largest bodily organ. When we first met I think she half expected to find something, and she eventually did. She biopsied an unassuming spot located just above my ribs because she thought it looked funny. What's so funny about a mark no larger than the size of a pin head? I wasn't even aware of it, it appeared innocuous, and maybe it still is.

Yet in the wake of parting ways I replayed my stupidity. Buying tanning oil with factor 8, turning lobster red most summers, allowing myself to get so badly burnt during the summer of 2001 that my calves swelled to almost twice their size and bags of frozen peas were my saving grace, and for being recklessly (s)unaware. I love the sun. I worship it for its ability to make an okay day turn good, I love the feeling of its warmth on my back, and I'll even go as far as following it just for another glimpse.

The sun bookends our days, and highlights our memories - how poetic.

I mean, can you even fault it for moments like this?

Sunset captured at Spouting Horn, Kaua'i

Sunset captured at Spouting Horn, Kaua'i

Yeah I didn't think so.

The sun though, it hates my DNA. I'm thirty-two now, and it's taken me one too many sunburns to realise if I want a tan it's coming from a bottle (thank you, Clarins), a hat and a pair of sunglasses are way cuter than a peeling part and premature wrinkles, and factor 40 SPF is the bare minimum.

Come next week, good news or bad, that funny, little spot left a tiny hole in my side for my past sun sins to pour out. Two stitches made me whole again, and the discomfort and inconvenience was a nasty reminder that the bright, burning ball in the sky is a bully.

A few takeaways from last week's appointment (I am not an expert, but these tidbits resonated with me):

  • Pink and skin coloured (beige/tan) moles should be pointed out to your GP or dermatologist
  • Moles that you've had for eons are likely nothing to worry about, but it's still a good idea to keep an eye on them
  • Get your skin checked every year, or even sooner if spots become itchy, won't heal, bleed, or changes in shape/size
  • If you have loads of spots, photograph the entirety of your body in sections, and allow it to serve as your skin diary for the next twenty years. You can get this professionally done, or have a trusted partner, friend, etc. take them for you
    • Store these images some place safe, ideally protected with an excellent password
  • A cloudy day won't protect you from the suns' harmful rays.

For further reading:

http://www.cancer.gov/types/skin/moles-fact-sheet

http://www.sunsmart.com.au/skin-cancer

Btw, Supergoop (specially formulated for people with sensitive skin) is my favourite sun care range.

The French Connection

Kerastase's Keratine Thermique and Decleor's Moisturising Body Milk

Kerastase's Keratine Thermique and Decleor's Moisturising Body Milk

French beauty products have been rocking my world as of late. Dior, Chanel, Kerastase, Bioderma and Provence Sante. Always happy to name drop things that make my day.

It's taken some serious willpower and self-control to only wash my locks every other day; there are days when I struggle to keep my head away from the shower's warm spray. If you can find the patience and the will, your hair will thank you in kind with smooth strands, minimal to no frizz and loads more body and movement. To protect my timely investment, I've added Kerastase's Keratine Thermique Smoothing Taming Milk ($43 USD / $48 AUS) to my haircare rotation. 

The consistency of Keratine Thermique Smoothing Taming Milk is light and creamy, its slip allows you to smooth a small amount from root to tip. Its scent is enhanced with perfumed cocoa powder; sweet enough to take a whiff of, just promise not to eat it. For whatever unknown reason I used to get a kink across the mid lengths of my hair at the back of my head, I suspect it had something to do with the placement of my hair brush while blowdrying. The kink has receded to the point where I don't need to run the flat iron over my hair. A mere coincidence or is this the power of Kerastase?

Fresh hair post 10 minute at home blowout

Fresh hair post 10 minute at home blowout

To cap off this Francophile sesh, let's discuss Decleor's Moisturising Body Milk. It's the nourishment your skin's been craving, better yet a moisturiser that melts into your skin without leaving behind any greasy residue. If you can get past a couple of shortcomings, you might enjoy this rather luxe body lotion. 

Love

  • Looks super classy resting on my bathroom counter.
  • My post winter limbs are singing in rejoice for slathering this stuff on.

Loathe

  • It's exy (ahem, expensive) at $45 USD / $44 AUS for 250 ml of lotion. I feel more inclined to pick up a bottle of my old faithful, St Ives Soothing Oatmeal & Shea Butter Body Lotion.
  • The scent is overly perfumed, the magnolia essential oil really kills it for me. That said, the pungent, flowery notes dry down within a few moments of applying. If you can get over the first hurdle, you're home free.
  • The engineering of the pump or lack thereof was a major oversight as the head of the pump doesn't extend out far enough. Unfortunately, you have to pick the bottle up, tip it slightly to the side and press the pump down. Points off for inconvenience.

*PR samples provided  –  Thoughts and ramblings written here are completely my own.

Confession: I use hand soap to wash my makeup brushes

Subtle Energies Revive Body & Hand Wash

Subtle Energies Revive Body & Hand Wash

And my brushes repeatedly live to tell a tale.

It was a recommendation made by Karen, you know, of Makeup and Beauty Blog. Like Oprah, if Karen said "bees are coming!" I too would be crazy excited.

Dr. Bonner's Bar Soap was fairly ace at the start until I became grossed out by the used bar stowed away in a Ziploc baggie - a potential breeding ground for who knows what? For kicks, I replaced the bar with the mint scented, pump version, but the syrupy consistency of the gel proved to be too heavy for both the natural and synthetic bristles. Plus, it took forever and a day for me to properly rinse out the brushes.

Switched I did to dare I say an Aesop equivalent, Subtle Energies Revive Body & Hand Wash. It's clear, lathers quite nicely, leaves behind a fresh lemon-y/clean scent and washes my handle holding, tram riding hands.

Save money you won't and perhaps I'm a tad blasé about its function as this was a surprise goodie from the very generous people over at Subtle Energies.

It's a right good soap, albeit an expensive one, but my brushes (and hands) are cleaned in no time and that's the most important thing.

 

*Subtle Energies kindly provided a PR sample  –  Thoughts and ramblings written here are completely my own.

My current skin care routine

WARNING: Heavy artillery 

WARNING: Heavy artillery 

It was all about my hair last week, now let's talk skin care. My skin was pretty lacklustre for a while -- dull complexion, dry, flaky and dehydrated. Essentially, my skin was screaming, "give me some TLC, woman!" 

So I overhauled my skin care routine and chucked items that really weren't working.

Exfoliator 

Dr. Lewinn's Facial Polishing Gel ($39.99 AUS) - a gentle exfoliator that scrubs away the dry bits without tearing the skin's barrier. It's lightly fragranced, I get a nod to pineapple on the nose, but do note my nose has a tendency to grab onto some whackadoo notions. This particular exfoliator's ingredients comes at your skin on several different fronts:

  • Jojoba beads to exfoliate and moisturise
  • Algae extract to tone and firm
  • Aloe vera to soothe and moisturise
  • Matricaria a.k.a. chamomile to calm and soothe
  • Rosemary to firm, stimulate and tone

After using Dr. Lewinn's Facial Polishing Gel my skin feels smooth, soft and ready for the rest of the items I have left to chat about with you lovely folks.

Cleanser

Prior to my visit with a local day spa a few weeks ago I was pretty down in the dumps about my skin care regimen. Things needed to be revamped and fast, because my skin was looking mighty sallow. Upon addressing my skin concerns with a super knowledgable facialist, she then suggested I try Aspect's Gentle Clean Facial Cleanser ($44 AUS). Every morning and evening I dispense two pumps into the palm of my hand, bring the gel to a lather with luke warm water and gently massage my face for around thirty seconds. If I'm removing my makeup I make sure to wash my face twice in order to really get rid of the day's grime and dirt. It's been a fruitful switch for me as my skin hasn't freaked out whatsoever and this cleanser leaves my skin feeling squeaky clean without ripping away necessary natural oils.

Serum

Yet another recommendation from an unwitting saviour, Aspect's Extreme B 17 ($119 AUS, ouchie!) when used in tandem with the Gentle Clean Facial Cleanser, has really helped to make my skin glow. Vitamin B works to maintain your skin's moisture levels and even heightens the metabolism of the skin cells. Oh, and it also fights skin yuckies such as eczema, dermatitis and rosacea. I use this baby every morning and night after washing my face. 

Moisturiser

FAB or First Aid Beauty's Ultra Repair Lotion ($28 USD) was integrated into my current regimen in case my skin had a bad reaction to the cleanser and serum (it never did). Not only does the underlying goodness of this lotion hydrate, but it also waves laters to flaky skin. After a week of regular cleansing and moisturising, my skin was clear, soft and genuinely happy. With my skin's positive response to a few bits and bobs from Aspect, I've reduced the frequency of FAB's Ultra Repair Lotion and switched back to Ole Henriksen's Nurture Me (not pictured and it smells exactly like an orange creamsicle (icy pole)). That's not to say I won't use this little miracle to battle eczema whenever it decides to pop in and say hello. 

Sunscreen

Supergoop's Skin Soothing Mineral Sunscreen with SPF 40 ($28 USD) is lightweight and allows me to catch a few rays minus the guilt. Plus, this stuff gets 4+ stars over on Sephora - so, if it's good enough for you, then it's good enough for me. 

Eye Stuffs

Why stuffs? Heck, I don't know, but it's gotta be doing something right? Wrinkles have been creeping in near the corners of my eyes (don't think I haven't noticed you, cuz I have) from years of smiling; when you think about it, these sorts of wrinkles aren't the end of the world. You know, happiness and all, I wouldn't trade it for the world. To help spur these little buggers I use Jurlique's Herbal Recovery Advanced Eye Serum ($58 AUS / $48 USD). To be honest, I haven't noticed any massive improvements, but I'd like to think of this step as preventative skin care maintenance.

Well, that's about all I got. Here's to happier skin :)

 

*Jurlique kindly provided a PR sample  –  Thoughts and ramblings written here are completely my own.