Blackhead removal tool

For several years now I’ve been using this great tool I got from Bliss Spa. It’s the Antoine de Paris blackhead extractor. As Bliss says on their website, “if you’re going to ‘pick’, you might as well properly equip.” So true!

I’m a picker–I admit it–I cannot stand the sight of a big blackhead on my nose. But unfortunately in the past (before I had this tool) I had broken some of those tiny capillaries around the crease of my nose–not good! So this tool is great–it’s the same thing they use in spas. I use it right after I shower, when my skin is well steamed and the blackheads are softened.


favorite anti-aging neck treatment

Call me crazy, but I’m paranoid of a sagging neck when I get older. I wear sunscreen religiously on my neck and chest, but lately have been trying different products for night and under sunscreen. I’ve come up with two products I really like.

The first is called “Face and Body Nutrients, Anti Aging Mist” by Acqua. This is super light and moisturizing but not in a greasy or thick way. It’s totally compatable with oily/acne prone skin (mine!) I use this on my face (night only) and then neck and chest morning and night. I got this at Preston Wynne spa in Los Gatos.

Then at night on top of that I’ve been using Dr Brandt’s V-Zone Neck Cream. Thick, but not greasy. Really nice for the neck and chest. I got this at Sephora.

Clean Washcloths Every Day for Acne Prone Skin

Anyone with acne knows that you’re not supposed to use the same washcloth or sponge more than once. This is a funny story I’ll share for those of you that haven’t had this epiphany yet. I was in a hotel with my husband once and commented on how one of my favorite things about hotels was having clean washcloths every day. He asked me why I just don’t buy a week’s worth of them and clean then when I do the wash on the weekends. DUH! I don’t know why that never crossed my mind before. So I did this–we were at IKEA one day and I picked up a bunch of them for a very low cost and this has been one of the greatest things ever. I don’t know why it feels like such a luxury to me–maybe because I always associate clean washcloths with hotels–who knows. This is perfect for acne prone skin because you use a 100% clean cloth each time you wash your face.

Skin Treatment for Oily or Acne Prone Skin

Before I found that the source of my acne was from a gluten allergy (see entry below), I spent literally thousands of dollars on skin care products, chemical peels, microdermabrasion and facials. I thought I’d share what I found to be the most effective products for acne and oily skin.

For cleaning, I’ve tried everything under the sun and amazingly the one I found the most effective (and inexpensive) was just Dr. Bronner’s liquid unscented soap from Whole Foods. The thing I love about this soap is that it completely gets all the oil off my skin, so it feels 100% clean, but it never seems to strip it or cause dryness. This may not be the case if you don’t have oily skin, but for mine, it’s the best. What I do (especially in the morning when I have a good amount of oil on my face) is to wash it 2 or even 3 times–until I feel that it’s completely oil free.

I’ve tried toners and I know you’re supposed to use them, but frankly I’ve rarely found ones that I feel make a difference. One of the few I like is Peter Thomas Roth’s Max Complexion Correction Pads. One side is scratchy so it almost feels like you’re getting a mini microdermabrasion when you use them. They’re kinda expensive, though and so I don’t use them regularly anymore. Also, since my acne is gone I don’t have the need to spend a lot of money on products as I used to. Usually I just use a good alcohol based toner to spot apply to any breakouts I might have. Home Health’s Blemish Treatment Lotion from Whole Foods seems to do the job well. I have a pantry filled with 50.00-100.00 toners that I don’t even use–I end up using this one the most because it works well.

Next I apply sunscreen and I’ve found Clinique’s Super City Block SPF 25 Oil-Free Daily Face Protector to be the best for oily skin. Since it’s oil free, it doesn’t add to your “sheen”. It is the most matte sunscreen I’ve ever used. And again, I’ve spent a lot of money on certain brands like Jan Marini. Clinique is the best. Now, this may freak you out because it’s not a face sunscreen, but if you need a waterproof sunscreen for vacations, etc, Neutrogena Active Breathable Sunblock, SPF 45 is the bomb. You truly cannot tell you’re wearing it, and it’s 100% non greasy. I’ve worn this snorkeling in Hawaii for hours (had it on my face and body) and it held up perfectly. As an all over body sunscreen this really is the best.

So anyways, after putting on sunscreen I put on make up. Lately the make up I use is Bare Escentuals mineral make up. It’s just crushed minerals and therefore completely oil free. This is the best oil matting make up I’ve found to date. A tip from the store: for oily skin, you apply a round of the mineral veil, then the make up and then mineral veil again. This really keeps your skin matte! I’d suggest going into the store and having someone give you the full lesson on the make up if you’re new to it because it’s different than applying regular make up.

If your skin is very oily like mine, you probably have a problem with mascara. The oil on my skin actually starts removing the mascara throughout the day and it looks terrible by the night. I’ve discovered the most amazing mascara–it’s made by Kiss Me and it’s incredible! It basically wears exactly like waterproof mascara–it stays on in water and absolutely does not rub, smudge or run–EVER. However, unlike waterproof mascara that’s a pain to get off and rough on your lashes, this stuff comes off like butter. It takes a combo of warm water AND slight mild pressure from your fingers….and then the mascara literally comes off in tubes. It’s really wild. This stuff rocks my world. My mascara looks identical at night as it does when I put it on in the morning….without fail.

To take my make up off at the end of the day, I use Neutrogena’s Make-Up Remover Cleansing Towelettes. These are relatively cheap and you can get them at Walgreens, and other drug stores. Again, I’ve tried the expensive ones like Clinique’s, and truly there is no difference–just price. These are great because you can first get your skin 100% oil free. Then you wash off the oil with the Bronner’s soap.

At night, I’ve found one line that truly is the best ever for acne. Unfortunately it’s insanely expensive (a half oz or less will commonly run you 80.00. The vitamin C crystals are 80.00 for 6 grams!), but it’s truly worth every penny. The line is Cosmedix and I used this throughout the last few years of my acne and it was the only product which really made a difference. I still use it because it’s great at keeping my skin bright and vibrant and helps to manage the oil. At night I use the Lightning Serum (which is awesome for acne) and this other product called Defy. Refine is really heavy duty and I don’t use it now that I don’t have acne, but when I did, it was key. All of their products generally sting your skin–some more than others….but if you’re like me, you’ll love it in a demented kind of way–it almost feels good knowing that acid is going onto the zits 😉 I was never crazy about their cleansers and found them to be a waste of money. Bronner’s always worked better. But if you do their program and get a Cosmedix chemical peel, you have to use it. I would use Bronners first to get the oil off and then do a light wash with their product. Speaking of the peels, they really are awesome and greatly helped my acne. These aren’t the heavy duty ones which cause all your skin to go brown for 1-2 weeks (I’ve had one of those too), but your skin will definitely peel and they really do make a difference. Unfortunately for me, since I had this allergy to gluten, there really were no products that were ever going to eliminate or handle my acne, but this line really came as close as it could get to making a difference. I purchased mine and did my peels through Preston Wynne Spa in Saratoga, CA, but I’m sure you find these products online and from various other spas.

Oh, let’s talk about eye care. I’ve always had a tough time because I can’t wear most creams or eye treatments because my eye make up looks like hell by the end of the day. I tried Cosmedix’s eye treatment and really didn’t like it. First, it was insanely expensive (as all their products are), but unlike their other products, I personally couldn’t see a benefit. Lately I’ve found one I really like–Le Mer’s eye cream. It’s the first I’ve used that doesn’t make my make up run–even when I put the Clinique sunscreen on over it. It’s very nice and light and unlike gels it is not sticky.

For exfoliation, I’ve got two products I really like. The first–and this is my every day staple, is Dermalogica’s Daily Microfoliant. This is a really great gentle exfoliant that helps brighten my skin and is great for acne and oil. The second product is made by Acqua. I don’t recall the name of it, but I purchase it from Preston Wynne Spa in Saratoga, CA and it has some sort of volcanic ash in it. It literally rubs your skin off–it’s really cool–you feel it when you’re using it. This gets every ounce of dead skin off your face and is pretty heavy duty (and also expensive.) Due to this, I use this ~2x/month.

Root Cause of Acne — Allergy to Gluten (wheat, oats, rye, etc)

I had a horrible case of adult acne and thought I’d share my successful actions to those interested. I actually had perfect skin my whole life until my early 20s and then I started getting this crazy cystic acne that seemed untreatable. I tried liver cleanses, kidney cleanses, colon cleanses, fasting cleanses, herbs, homeopathic treatment, chinese herbs and so many more things. I was determined to find the root cause of the problem and not default to taking drugs or anti-biotics which I knew would just be covering up the symptoms of the root cause.

It turns out that I’m highly allergic to gluten which is the sticky binder found in wheat, oats, rye and several other grains. I found this out by accident. My husband, Reilly Sweetland, found out that he was allergic by doing a 10 day diet which eliminated all foods which typically trigger allergies: gluten, dairy, sugar, and many others. After he found out he was allergic, I decided to stop eating wheat too because I always noticed I gained weight from it and felt tired after eating it.

After not eating it for several weeks, I had it again and got a horrible headache. I’d had headaches all my life and then realized that this may be the cause. Sure enough, it was. Apparently you have to stop eating the food you’re allergic to for at least 10 days before you can see a really defined cause and effect because your body pumps out a lot of adrenaline to handle the allergy crisis. I’m not a doctor–I received this information from my doctor at Health Now Medical Clinic in Sunnyvale, CA 408 733 0444. They’re great.

I also used to have all sorts of sinus problems which are completely gone by eliminating gluten from my diet. And amazingly, after about 2 months of being gluten free, my acne completely vanished!!! As hard as it is to eat gluten free, it’s all worth it to have that horrible acne gone. Not to mention the headaches and sinus issues.