Friday, February 17, 2017

Proactiv+ Experience

Like most girls my age, I have struggled with acne for the past few years. I've tried out what seems like every acne product from the drug store. Last year, I moved onto using a skincare line from a department store and still saw no improvement in my skin. Over the summer, after talking with my mom about my frustration with my skin, I decided to try out Proactiv after seeing tons of commercials and hearing good things from friends. Today I wanted to share my experience with Proactiv+. 

// What's my skin type and the acne issues have I dealt with? //

I've always had normal to oily, acne prone skin. I've never had cystic (really deep and difficult to get rid of) acne, but frequently would have pimples on my cheeks, chin and forehead. One of my biggest frustrations was the bumps I had covering my forehead. I'm not sure what exactly caused them and try as I might I could not get rid of them. I definitely don't have the worst skin issues, but being a 20-year-old girl it was frustrating and I was tired of dealing with it.

// What's Proactiv+ compared to regular Proactiv? //

So basically Proactiv+ is the more hopped up version of Proactiv. It's for more intense, difficult acne. I probably didn't need the more aggressive version, but you live and learn.

// What are the products and cost? //

Each set of Proactiv+ comes with a three step system. Step 1 is the skin smoothing exfoliator, which like the name suggests is a semi intense exfoliator with 2.5% Benzoyl Peroxide to help fight acne. Step 2 is the Pore Targeting Treatment, which is a clear gel also with 2.5% Benzoyl Peroxide. Step 3 is the Complexion Perfection Hydrator, which is the moisturizer of the bunch with 0.5% Salicylic Acid. The cost is the real kicker that I didn't realize at the time. The first set is $39.95, not bad right? Well that's only for the the 30-day sample size and two "bonus items". If you keep the sample and your account over 30 days, they automatically send you a full size 90-day supply to the tune of $39.95 per month. So if you do the math, these 3 little bottles will end up costing you about $120!

// How did my skin react? //

I started Proactiv+ in August just as I was starting school. At first, I thought it was magical. It got rid of the bumps on my forehead and acne seemed to be stopped in its tracks. It did a lot to clear up my skin from where it was this summer. I tried to rigorously stick to the system, twice a day every day. For the most part I did, but on days I slipped up, my skin paid for it. Proactiv+ seemed helpful with the prevention of acne, but I don't know how much it helped once I was already broken out - it didn't seem to make much of a difference. At some points early on, my skin seemed much more oily than normal. I think this was part of my skin adjusting to using a harsh exfoliant twice a day, but it wasn't a fun side effect. Everything went okay until the weather cooled down. Skin naturally gets drier in the cooler weather do to the dry air - and since it hardly rained in Clemson this fall, the air was quite dry. Normally during the winter months, my skin will get a little dry - only getting bad if the weather is particularly harsh. But on Proactiv+ my skin dried out horribly, like flaking off dry. Everyday it was a battle with my makeup to see if it would stay on or crack because of my dry skin. It cracked. It was awful and I felt so self conscious about how horrible my skin looked. If we had warmer days, things would get better then immediately turn around once it was cool again.

// What did I do next? // 

I had heard horrible things about going off Proactiv+. People's skin totally freaks out and breaks out like crazy until they go back to the Proactiv. I had been contemplating going off of it but I didn't know what I would use instead. I looked into some other options, but didn't find anything I liked. I was really tired of the harshness of the Proactiv products and wanted something that would help keep acne at bay without making my skin flake. Enter this glorious post from Julia of Lemon Stripes. Julia posted about her favorite natural products for acne with splurge and save options, and when I say save I mean everything was under $12 each on Amazon Prime. I waffled a bit, but the cheapness sold me. I placed my Amazon order than cancelled the Proactiv+ subscription.

// How has my skin reacted since going off? //

Now I can't attest to the new products I have been using since I have only been using them for a couple weeks. However, my skin didn't react badly to going off of Proactiv. I've had a couple breakouts, but nothing out of the ordinary. I've noticed a huge, positive change in my skin and the dryness issue is totally gone. I am so, so happy that I decided to stop using it.

// So would I recommend Proactiv+? //

The short answer: no. While it worked to a degree, I didn't notice a sustained improvement in my skin. Someone with more severe acne may like this system better than I did, but I firmly believe there are similar, if not better, products out there for considerably cheaper.

What skincare products do you swear by or stay away from? I would love to hear!

Friday, February 10, 2017

e.l.f Product Review

Way back on Black Friday (seems like forever ago doesn't it?), I placed a decent sized order with e.l.f. cosmetics. After dealing with the first package getting lost in the mail and having to be resent, I have been trying out these products for about a month and a half now and thought I would share what works and what doesn't.

 // Flawless Finish Foundation: $6 //

So I have this never ending problem with foundations: I am extraordinarily pale, but also cool toned. Foundations for my coloring generally don't exist. E.l.f. only has six shades in this foundation and the palest is still too dark for me. However, it's really good coverage and can be made to work for my skin tone when using beauty sponge and concealer. It does not apply well with a brush for some reason, but looks great with a sponge. It doesn't last super long though - I noticed it breaking up and looking oily by about 6pm (I put it on around 9am). Also, this may not be the case for all bottles, but the pump on mine doesn't work at all. All in all, not my most favorite, but not bad for $6.

// Contouring Blush and Bronzing Powder: $4 //

I am OBSESSED with this duo! I bought my first one last spring, I think, so this was a repurchase. I get it in the color Fiji, which is the matte pair. The bronzer works perfectly for my pale skin and the blush is a great everyday shade. I've also had this duo in the shade Turks & Caicos, but I much prefer the matte duo to the shimmer, especially for bronzer.

// Illuminating Palette: $6 //

I have mixed feelings about this highlight palette. I can only really use the top two shades with my skin tone. They're very pretty and can be built up or applied on top of a cream highlighter to give a strong impact, but on first application, they're not very strong. Part of the problem may be the brush I'm using (I don't exactly know the right kind of brush to use for highlight). At this price point though, I do recommend picking one up for everyday use. 

// Eyebrow Kit: $3 //

So I've always been into the look of strong brows. I've been filling mine in since I first saw YouTubers doing it when I was in my early high school years, before the whole world was obsessed with brows. But I always used an eyeshadow or brown eyeliner, then I purchased this gem. It's a gel and powder duo - I got the shade medium. I apply the gel to get the shape and definition I want, then I use the powder to set and take away the shininess of the gel. On lazier days, I just use the powder, which also looks good. It comes with a double ended brush that makes application super easy.

// Eyebrow Duo Brush: $3 //

So even though the brow kit comes with a brush, I decided to go ahead and pick up a full sized brush with a spoolie on one end. It's great. I love it. I seriously don't understand how people spend a ton of money on something on eyebrow brushes when this one is only $3. Seriously cannot recommend this combo enough.

// Essential Lip Stain: $2 //

This is the only item I would definitely say to pass on. I got it in the color Crimson Crush, which was probably my first mistake. It may have worked better in a more neutral color. The biggest issue I have with this product though is the brush. It's a pen shape, which you would think would make application really easy, but the tip is too pointed. If you try to use the tip to apply, barely any product comes out and it scrapes against your lips, but if you turn it to the side, you don't get a crisp application. Save your two dollars.

// Matte Lip Color: $3 //

I got two of these matte lip colors; one in wine, the other in rowdy rouge. Again, I probably should have gotten a neutral, everyday shade, but oh well. I really like these. I wear the wine color way more, somehow it seems okay to wear that color everyday but I don't feel that way about true reds. They're basically a large lip pencil, which makes applying them very easy. I wouldn't say they're super matte or very long lasting, so if that's what you're looking for this isn't the right product for you. The colors and texture are really nice for how cheap they are so you can't really go wrong.

Of all the things I tried, the eyebrow kit and matte lip color in wine are definitely my favorites. E.l.f. is a great, affordable makeup brand that I have used for a long time, so I highly suggest trying out a few of their products if you haven't before.