“Are you still blogging?” I get this question a lot.
It is not an easy question to answer because I feel a bit of shame over it, but I feel like I owe it to you to be vulnerable and honest about my shortcomings in the blogging arena. I love my blog. I love doing it. It brings me such joy to purchase new products, try them out, test them under the harshest Louisiana heat, and report back to you where your money is best served. However, I have not been able to do that lately due to some health issues and my work schedule.
First, I am a full time litigation attorney, which requires a great deal of my brain space. I love my job, and I love advocating for clients, but it wears on you emotionally, mentally, and physically at times. I took a new job in May 2015 that significantly increased the need for my brain space causing increased emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion. When I got home, I just didn’t have the energy to pull out my laptop and work on my blog. It felt like I was working 100+ hour weeks, which left no time to take care of myself and no quality time for me and Justin.
During this transition, I became suddenly ill and was in the hospital for four days with blood pressure that would not come down. (It was 265/165 – surprisingly I wasn’t having strokes or heart attacks.) I was placed on new medications, and sent on my way. On top of that, my physical activity decreased because I was not allowed to work out until the doctor’s cleared me to do so. As a result, I quit eating healthily and managed to put on nearly 30 pounds! (This is crazy to me.) What came next was, and to some extent still is, the most frustrating situation with which I’ve ever dealt. I began having allergic reactions to everything skincare, body care, and hair care. My skin began to break out into dry patches on my face, neck, and lips, then crack and bleed. It itched, it burned, and worst of all it hurt to eat. Any time anything vinegar-based, alcohol-based (even wine), or spicy touched my lips, I wanted to scream out in pain. I stopped wearing makeup and using skincare because everything burned. EVERYTHING was searing my horribly ill skin like a steak on a grill.
So, I set off to the dermatologist to begin our journey to healing this skin issue. We began treatment and after a month, it had not gone away. Eventually we figured out that I was experiencing a staph infection on my face. I had never heard of such a thing, but apparently it is very common in children. I had to throw out all makeup, skincare, makeup brushes (including my Beauty Blender!), makeup/beauty tools, etc. that I had used during the staph infection. I was forced to purchase prescription steroid and antibiotic creams instead of skincare. I didn’t feel like myself, but I thought it would be temporary; that we would treat it for a few weeks and everything would be fine because we finally had an answer. We treated the staph accordingly, and a month later, the dry patches, cracking and bleeding came back. This time, there was no staph present, and therefore, no real answer. I was heartbroken. I felt like screaming “What gives? What is happening to my body? I want my body back! How did all of this happen so quickly? Why can’t we fix it?”
In an effort to find the culprit, my doctor did the T.R.U.E. Patch Testing to determine if I was allergic to the most common ingredients found in skincare, body care, makeup, etc.
It turned out that I was reactive/allergic to fragrance mix (synthetic fragrance to mask other chemical smells) and carba mix (synthetic accelerator in manufacturing rubber and agricultural chemicals) — which are in nearly EVERYTHING! Here’s a quick list of what products contain each component:
- Fragrance Mix — perfume, body lotions, face lotions, deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, dry shampoo, eye cream, foundation, mascara, detergents, dish soap, candles, cleaning products, soap, bath gel, etc.
- Carba Mix — shoes, flip flops, rubber gloves, pesticides, tires, underwear with rubber elastic, swimwear, toys, balloons, condoms, garden hoses, waistbands, slippers, mattresses, earphones, rubber bands, some soaps, shampoos, and adhesives, etc.
Let me tell you, these are the two components to which you DO NOT want to be reactive. Justin and I had no idea what we were doing and how to purge our home of these substances in the most practical way. After the staph diagnosis, we used regular cleaning products to clean up the entire house only to later learn that I was reacting to those products the entire time. So, we spent a great deal of money on replacing all soap, detergent, dryer sheets, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, lotions, etc.
At this point, we are maintaining. Every time I have tried to get off the antibiotic that keeps the inflammation at bay, it comes right back. So, we are slowly trying to taper off, and more extensive testing will be done soon. Having gone through this whole story with you, I hope you understand my absence. I felt that since I was unable to try new products, I couldn’t bring you valuable worthwhile information. Months of watching my skin crack and bleed became depressing. I didn’t feel like me anymore. I felt unattractive, unworthy, and I even began fat shaming myself with my internal dialogue. I am working through that by eating healthy, working out again, and slowly tapering off medications. I’m finding that the more healthy I become, the better my skin gets. I honestly believe that a great deal of this bodily inflammation is a result of weight gain and unhealthy food choices. If you’re interested in my health, food, and workout journey, let me know in the comments, and I can start working that in as regular posts.
In another light, I now have some insight into what it’s like to have really reactive and sensitive skin. I can help more people than I could before this experience. I have found great products that work and are readily available at drug stores and Sephora. I’ve learned how to read labels better, because manufacturers will try to trick you! Fragrance mix alone has 42 legally usable names. Forty freaking Two!! Carba Mix has 45! Manufacturers are even allowed to advertise a product as “fragrance free” if the fragrance mix added is to mask another scent or chemical smell, but not if it is used to perfume a product. Y’all, that’s insane! My attorney brain gets very angry over the ways our FDA is regulating (or rather not regulating) the labeling of products.
So, as I lay ALL MY MESS before you, I want you to know that I will be blogging again. I will be featuring new products that I have found that I know are safe for ALL skin types. And, as I continue this journey, I will share what I’m learning about labels, the FDA process of approving (or lack thereof) cosmetics and skincare, and how to find the safest products for you. Don’t worry, I’m not gonna go all crazy on you and swear off everything because trust me, I have refused to give up my dry shampoo which contains fragrance mix. I won’t do it. It’s the only one I like that works. (I may be a bit stubborn. lol)
If you have any questions, please feel free to ask! I’m happy to talk about this with you. A month ago, I was not in a place to do so, but I have pulled myself up by the bootstraps with the grace of God, Justin, some really amazing friends, family, and my medical team. Thank you for reading this. Please accept my apologies for being absent. I truly love writing this blog, and it has been difficult not having this community of beauty lovers in my life. I will resume regular posts again soon! Stay tuned for some cool new products!
Hope you have a wonderful day!