Tuesday, August 31, 2010

6 Myths and Facts about Acne and Skincare

My super amazing "blog twin" Carly posted a great article on adult acne. I suggest you read it here.

Carly and I are both in our late 20s, both got married in June 2009, and have (in my opinion) very similar personalities and opinions. In spite of the fact we've never met! We've heard it all. (Or at least I have!) We're supposed to be over acne by now. Acne's caused by poor eating. Just wash your wash more often. Use more expensive products. Get facials regualarly.

Hmm ...

When it comes to skin care, I defer to Paula Begoun. She's the
Cosmetics Cop. I discovered one of her books about 6 years ago when I got Don't Go To The Cosmetics Counter Without Me. This book talks about common ingredients in skin care and make-up, what works, what to avoid, and then proceeds to review every. single. product. on the market at the time of printing of the book. She reviews Dove, Olay, Revlon, St. Ives, Perricone MD, Boots, Clinique, Neutrogena, Lancome, Occitane, Quo, brands I've never heard of and brands I can't afford. On her website, she posts just some of the reviews, but basically everything is reviewed in her book.

I love her website and I subscribe to her free emails. Yes, she sells her own products, which she admits can appear as a conflict of interest. But she also reviews other products, citing peer-reviewed scientific literature for the basis of the reviews. (We science, university types start to drool and get excited when we hear "peer-reviewed".) She has pages devoted to topics (like
acne and sun exposure) where she talks about that concern, how to treat it, and good products (from the drug store!) to use.

In response to Carly's post on acne, I wrote two very long comments. I thought I'd add more here. This is taken (without permission - sorry Ms. Begoun) from Paula Begoun's website.

6 Myths about Acne

Myth #1: You should choose skin-care products based on your age.

Fact: Many products on the market claim to be designed for a specific age group, especially for "mature" women; mature usually refers to women over 50. Before you buy into any of these arbitrary age divisions, ask yourself why the over-50 group is always lumped together? According to this logic, someone who is 45 shouldn't be using the same products as someone who is 50 (only 5 years older), but someone who is 80 should be using the same products as someone who is 50? To clear up the confusion what you need to know is that skin has different needs based on skin type, not based on age. Your skin-care routine depends on how dry, sun-damaged, oily, sensitive, thin, blemished, or normal your skin is, all of which have nothing to do with age. Then there are the issues of skin conditions such as rosacea, psoriasis, allergies, and other skin disorders, which again, have nothing to do with age. What everyone needs to do is protect the outer barrier of their skin in exactly the same way: avoid unnecessary direct sun exposure (sun protection!), don't smoke, don't irritate your skin, and do use state-of-the-art skin-care products loaded with antioxidants and skin-identical ingredients (Sources: International Journal of Cosmetic Science, October 2007, pages 409-410; and Cutaneous and Ocular Toxicology, April 2007, pages 343-357).

Myth #2: Products labeled as "hypoallergenic" are better for sensitive skin. And “Dermatologist tested” means it’s safe.

Fact: "Hypoallergenic" is little more than a nonsense word. It is nothing more than an advertising contrivance in the world of cosmetics meant to imply that a product is unlikely or less likely to cause allergic reactions and therefore is better for sensitive or problem skin. (Sources: www.fda.gov; and Ostomy and Wound Management, March 2003, pages 20 -21).

Fact: You absolutely should not rely on the "dermatologist tested" claim any more than you should rely on the appearance of a doctor's name on a product's label to indicate you are getting a superior (or "medical-grade") formulation.

Myth #3: Women outgrow acne; you're not supposed to break out once you reach your 20s and beyond!

Fact: If only that were true, my skin-care struggles in life would have been very different. In fact, women in their 20s, 30s, 40s, and even 50s can have acne just like teenagers, and the treatment principles remain the same. Not everyone who has acne as a teenager will grow out of it, and even if you had clear skin as a teenager, there's no guarantee that you won't get acne later in life, perhaps during menopause. You can blame this often-maddening inconsistency on hormones! What is true is that men can outgrow acne, because after puberty men's hormone levels level out, while women's hormone levels fluctuate throughout their lifetime, which is why many women experience breakouts around their menstrual cycle (Sources: International Journal of Cosmetic Science, June 2004, pages 129-138; American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, May 2006, pages 281-290; International Journal of Dermatology, November 2007, pages 1188-1191).

Myth #4: Acne is caused by eating the wrong foods.

Fact: This is both true and false. The traditional foods thought to cause acne, such as chocolate and greasy foods, have no effect on acne, and there is no research indicating otherwise. However, there is the potential that individual dietary allergic reactions can trigger acne, such as eating foods that contain iodine, like shellfish, although there is an ongoing controversy about that. A bit more conclusive is new research showing that milk, especially skim milk, can increase the risk of acne. The same may be true for a diet high in carbohydrates; a high glycemic load can increase breakouts, while a low glycemic load can reduce their occurrence. Experimenting for a few months to see which of these food groups either hurt or help your skin is worth the effort (Sources: Molecular Nutrition and Food Research, June 2008, pages 718-726; Dermatologic Therapy, March-April 2008, pages 86-95; Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, May 2008, pages 787-793; and Dermatology Online Journal, May 30, 2006).

Myth #5: If you clean your face better you can clear up your acne.

Over-cleaning your face can actually make matters worse. Acne is caused primarily by hormonal fluctuations that affect the oil gland, creating an environment where acne-causing bacteria (Propionibacterium acnes) can flourish. Don't confuse scrubbing or "deep cleaning" with helping acne, because it absolutely doesn't. Over-cleansing your face triggers inflammation that actually makes acne worse. What really helps breakouts is using a gentle cleanser so you don't damage your skin's outer barrier or create inflammation (both of which hinder your skin's ability to heal and fight bacteria) and using gentle exfoliation. An effective exfoliating product that contains salicylic acid or glycolic acid can make all the difference in reducing acne (Sources: Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology Venereology, May 2008, pages 629 -631; Expert Opinion in Pharmacotherapy, April 2008, pages 955-971; Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, March 2007, pages 59-65; Cutis, July 2006, Supplemental, pages 34-40; and Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, June 2006, pages 296-302).

Myth #6: Stress causes acne

Generally, it is believed that stress can trigger acne, but no one is exactly sure how that works, and there is conflicting research. While it never hurts to reduce angst and worry in your life, stress as a causative factor for acne is hard to pinpoint. Plus, the way to treat acne doesn't change because of the stressors in your life (Sources: European Journal of Dermatology, July-August, pages 412-415; International Journal of Cosmetic Science, June 2004, pages 129-138; Archives of Dermatologic Research, July 2008, pages 311-316; and American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, May 2006, pages 281-290).

On Friday, I will post what I use as well as discuss some of Paula Begoun's most highly recommended products. Just for fun.

Oh, and I don't use Paula Begoun's products. Over the border shipping from the U.S. is a hastle. But that's okay because she reviews other products. Typically, I try to choose products that get her "happy face" along with a "check mark", indicating the product is the best you can get.

Monday, August 30, 2010

How does my garden grow? Ant and Mosquito Repelling Plants

Apparently, I'm having better luck uploading photos ... if I have patience. I started to post about my garden in May, but I didn't finish. (Click here to see what I posted back in May).

Here are some more pictures from my garden back in late-May:
Lavender, a wonderful smelling plant that is a natural mosquito repellant:

I bought more lavender, so I'll show you pictures of all my lavender!

Rosemary, another wonderfully smelling mosquito repellant:

I also bought more rosemary. I put it in the top of a candle lantern candle holder, and the smell of the semi-burning rosemary appears to help repel mosquitoes.

Irises (in front), marigolds, silver leafy thing, more marigolds, and geraniums (in the back):

Mint (pepper mint, to be exact), a natural mosquito repellant and yummy herb:

On Wednesday, I'll post my garden now.

Marigolds are supposed to repel ants. It's hard to confirm they're working, but they aren't hurting and I enjoy them. We had an ant problem in the spring, but we used an exterminator to get rid of them (they were that bad). Then I planted marigolds, and they haven't come back inside. That could be due to the exterminator or the marigolds or both. The exterminator said that nature is the source of their ant poison - chrysanthemums, in particular, but there are many plants in nature that repel or even kill ants. He said it was smart to plant the marigolds to try whatever natural methods to repel the ants. (We also dug up these massive cedar bushes out front that attract ants.)

Geraniums are supposed to repel mosquitoes. We have a ton of mosquitoes at dusk, so I don't know if a few geranium plants will make a difference. I enjoy the geraniums, so I think they're worth it. We've also planted a bat house to try to attract a bat to the area. More on that another time.

The silver leafy thingy is supposed to attract butterflies (and thus repel mosquitoes). We have a ton of milkweed on the back of our property, and so we have a ton of the endangered monarch butterflies floating around our property, including on the silver leafy thing. We have little monarchs and big monarchs, monarchs of all sizes all over, including on the silver leafy thing and just floating by!

My marigolds were thriving. I was weeding them every day, and found a weed spray that is "safe in flower beds". You can guess where this is going - only about half of the marigolds lived, and some of them are still dying. I'll post a picture of the marigolds I have left so you can get an idea of how they might have been thriving! Half my geraniums died, too, and one of the silvery leaf things doesn't look so good. I pulled up the dead marigolds and moved them all to the right side of the bed (they were distributed on both the right and left side before). On the left side, I've recently planted fall chrysanthemums to fill out the flower bed. It was making me really sad when I saw the empty areas where thriving marigolds had been, so having the mums there is nice.

Lesson learned.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Art ... and everyday life and images that become your own art

There are three things on my mind lately. The first is decorating. We are still in the process of decorating our home. I have eclective tastes and often love so many "looks" that I find it hard to pinpoint what I like best. I enjoy watching my tastes develop (if that doesn't sound too conceited) as I decide what I truly want to showcase in my own home.

The second is fashion. I've gained some weight in the past few months (and no, I'm not pregnant - just eating poorly!) and many of my pants are very tight (though not all). Sigh. I am torn between buying a bunch of new clothing in the meantime or throwing myself (back) into exercise. It's not that I don't exercise, it's that recently I have been doing less aerobics and cardio, but doing more yoga and pilates.

The third thing is the impending end of summer. I enjoy the fall, the rich colours, the warm sweaters and the crisp nights. But I love the summer.

In honour of all three things on my mind, here are some highlights stolen from some of my favourite blogs:

Alternative Wife, where Dawn gives me a dose of fashion and art:

(Sources: Photo on the left and Photo on the right)

Cyd at The Sweetest Occasion, who loves stationery, paper products (and cotton and bamboo alternatives) and, of course, event planning, always has gorgeous images from birthday parties, bridal showers, and stationery shows:

(Sources: on the left or top and on the right or bottom) (depending on your browser)

Last, but not least, Rachel is the Girl Learning Along the Way, whose posts are filled with a mix of realistic and fantasy decorating advice:

Source: on the left and on the right)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Quentin Tarantino

Of course you know who he is. I'm the only person who doesn't think he's a genius. I know many people who counted Pulp Fiction among their favourite films. Although I found it confusing, it is a neat movie to watch. Still, all the violence? And Kill Bill has a really interesting plot, but all the violence turns me off. Of course, it's so gratuitous that it doesn't look real, but it still turns me off.

And tonight, I'm watching Inglorious Basterds. It has all the hallmarks of Tarantiino - the violence, the folky and poppy music overtop of scene montages, the noir themes, the plots that don't necessarily follow the timeline.

It's not as violence as past Tarantino films, but there are still a couple scenes that are over-the-top. Like how the "Inglorious Basterds" scalp the Nazis. Or "engrave" swastikas in the foreheads of survivors. And in the film, they appear to portray all members of the German military force as Nazis.

My very good friend's late Opa (German grandpa) served for Germany in World War II. He truly believe what he was told. From what we understand now, most Germans had no idea what was happening. So for this movie to portray all Germans in this light is ... antiquated.

Overall, I liked this movie. Although it had holes in it, it was a neat story and a neat fantasy of American "bandits" ending the war earlier.

Anyway, I just wanted to get my two cents on this movie, and just discuss my thoughts on the director who is everyone's darling. Except mine.

Sunday, August 22, 2010


I don't self-identify as a "red neck". I have to say that first. I know people who do, and who take pride in it. Personally, I don't get it. To me, a "red neck" is an uneducated person who lives in the country. And yet, I live in the "country" and know educated people who call themselves "red necks".

I don't get it.

But I also don't think it's appropriate to call people red necks as an insult. Insulting someone based on their income or education or hometown or race is never appropriate.

I volunteer for St. John Ambulance, and I was a volunteer first-aider at an event called the Verona Mud Drags. People race cars with really loud engines and way too many housepower (2,000-3,000). I don't get it, either! But I also won't laugh and call them rednecks, as one of the other volunteers did. According to him, he couldn't believe the low intelligence of people who live in this town.

Well, I don't think that most people at the event don't actually live in that town, since it's a small town and there were a lot of people there. But as I live two towns away, I thought this person was rude to make a statement like that. Actually, I know I would have been offended by that statement even if I didn't live in the area. To judge everyone in the area based on where they live, and to judge everyone at the event based on this event, seemed ... ignorant.

I will admit, there were people at the event who were ill-mannered, like the two teens who were chewing tobacco and spitting everywhere. (And they were clearly under 19, making their activity illegal here.) There were women who appeared as if they had not bothered to brush their hair this month. (Yes, that is a harsh thing to say, but that's what it looked like.) There were young men (maybe my age) wearing shirts with very rude messages. But though I found some of these behaviours sad or offensive, I wouldn't judge the entire community based on the actions of the people at this event. Nor do these actions necessarily make these people bad people. Sure, they may have questionable judgement (the t-shirts) or may have succumbed to peer pressure (the chewing tobacco) or may not have self-esteem or self-pride (the messy-haired women). But that doesn't automatically make them bad people.

Besides, there are a lot of other things I can judge people about - for example, the parents of the child (probably around 10) who I observed careening around the grounds of this event on an all-terrain vehicle (four-wheeler) at very fast speeds, almost hit my car in the parking lot (yeah) and not wearing a helmet. Don't get me started about the many reasons this was wrong!

On an unrelated, neat note, a family who had been on Wife Swap had been there. Apparently, the mom (at least prior to going on the show) did all the cleaning, cooking and "women's chores", while their husband races at these mud drag events. I don't know who they were, but it wasn't that big an event so I probably saw them. Random, eh? :)

Friday, August 20, 2010

Attempt at blogging

I've said it before - I'd like to blog more regularly. I've set a goal of 3 times a week ... but I'm coming up dry!

I'd like to have witty posts filled with humour mocking the difficulties in my life. But everytime I set out to write these posts, I end up sounding like I'm complaining. I'm trying to drily comment, not whine about everything!

I'd like to have stunning posts filled with pictures of fashion or decorating ideas. But my internet's still slow and I just don't have the patience or time to sit down and find the pictures then upload them. Grr!

I'd like to have funny commentaries of the wonderful things we're doing this summer ... But I can't word how much I've enjoyed this summer. It hasn't been an amazing summer, but we've done lots of small things (like visiting the Sheep Dog Trials or having a pool party) but I can't find the words to describe these events.

I'm hoping a lightning bolt of creativity hits me soon!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Dog Days of Summer

Whilst August yet wears her golden crown,
Ripening fields lush- bright with promise;
Summer waxes long, then wanes, quietly passing
Her fading green glory on to riotous Autumn.
Michelle L. Thieme, August's Crown

It's the middle of August. I always find August mildly depressing. Yes, some of the best days of summer are still left. But yet ... the days are getting shorter and there are less hot days.

I used to spend most of my summers at the family cottage, where I could tell the time by the sun very accurately. By the time late August rolled around, the sun had changed enough that I found it difficult to be as accurate with the time. I also noted everyone's mood changed as Labour Day approached.

Now that I don't return to school, you'd think I'd be used to summers. Well, I still notice everyone's mood change as Labour Day week-end approaches. Like Victoria Day (the first Monday on/before May 2-4) is the "unofficial start of summer", we also view Labour Day (the first Monday in September) as the "unofficial end of summer".

The days are getting shorter and the heat dissipates at night. I get mildly upset by this change that signifies the approach of days when the sun sets before 5pm.

Do you get upset as the end of summer approaches?

Friday, August 13, 2010

Telemarketers have a new market: dogs!

Wade: "Hello?"
Person on the phone: "Hello, may I please speak to Princess please?"
Wade: "Um, pardon?"
Person on the phone: "May I speak to Princess please?"

Source: Shelter Dogs Rock

... should I just stop here and tell you that the person on the phone burst out laughing. It was ME. I was calling from a private phone (so Wade didn't recognize the number) and Wade somehow didn't recognize my voice. He was trying to figure out what kind of telemarketers need to speak to the dog!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Becoming a Professional

I am about to officially find out that I passed the Registered Occupational Hygienist exam, which is the most difficult professional designation for a specialized subset of occupational health and safety called occupational hygiene, which is what I do. It's recognized by the international governing body as the equivalent of Certified Industrial Hygienist accreditation in the US.

That's great, right?

Except at my employer, it means I "lose" overtime. That doesn't make sense, so let me explain.

Right now, if I work more than the "standard hours" (42.0 hours, I think), I get to "bank" the extra time to use as paid time off. If I don't take the time off, I'm paid for the extra time (straight time, not at over-time pay) at the end of the year.

All "professionals" (those with professional designations) at my employer do not get overtime. Professionals often still work more than the "standard hours", but they get no recognition of it. I realize many people don't get paid for working more hours than they're paid for, but it's just disappointing to have the extra paid time, then lose it.

And I don't even get a raise!

Why'd I stress myself out over writing this test again?

Monday, August 9, 2010

I'm going to be in a wedding for the first time!

I've never been a member of a wedding party. I've been a bride - obviously. But I've never been a bridesmaid. Most of my friends aren't married yet, and those who are married are not my closest friends. There are 2 exceptions - close friends who did not ask me to be a bridesmaid; one selected closer friends (which is fine) and the other had several sisters and sisters-in-law.

I was asked by my MOH Jocelyn to be her MOH. Except, of course, she was my maid of honour and I'll be matron of honour.

She is going through the same debate I went through on colour. First, she thought purple and silver:

Now, she's thinking turquoisey-blue and orangey-red. I am having a hard time picturing what she means. It's not turquoise and orange, nor is it pale blue and read, which are the two combinations I've seen more frequently. I found these combinations by using the google images search (but not the gorgeous turquoise dresses and orange flowers in the bottom left of the left picture - more red in the orange):


(I'm in a hotel tonight for work, so I have highspeed internet, hence the ability to post pictures. However, I'm on my work computer and I didn't bring my camera so I can't post/upload pictures.)

Thursday, August 5, 2010


This week was a short week for most Canadians. Monday was a holiday in seven of the ten provinces. And I have this week off work! Wade has two weeks off work, but I have to return next week for a specific project.

Somehow the things we meant to do this week won't all happen, but that's okay. We still have four more days. Okay, I still have four more days. Wade still has a week and four days! Lucky duck.

But I did one thing I didn't think I'd do. One evening when Wade was at hockey and the pool looked so invited, I went skinny dipping. Just a few laps. It's not something I normally do. Since we're in the country, neighbours aren't exactly close. I looked at the pool, I realized the sun was almost set, and it just looked so inviting.

So in I went. I don't think Wade believed me when I told him what I'd done.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Work Woes

I like my "new" job. I've had it for 7 months, and unlike past jobs, it's permanent. I had 3 one-year contracts in a row with three different employers. The first and third were great companies to work for, but there was no chance to become permanent. The middle job was a good job but not a great company to work for. There was a slight chance it could become permanent, but I wasn't interested in pursuing it.

This job, my fourth job since finishing grad school, is a good job. I'm a consultant, which I didn't think I'd like. It's not as rewarding as working for a company - I just go in, do what I need to do, write a report, and leave. Working for a company means you get your hand's dirty, you create the project, you identify solutions, you work it through, you implement, you follow up, you evaluate its effectiveness, etc. You really own the project. Being a consultant means you do your job, regardless of what they need, you just do what they ask. (Of course you suggest if there's a better solution, but ultimately the client chooses what you do.) Then you leave. It's not as satisfying for me. Some people prefer to just do the consulting role. You don't leave your comfort zone as much, you do what you're there to do. Sometimes, a client brings you into the project at the beginning and involves you form the start to finish, but often you're there for a specific, small piece of their puzzle.

I'm not always happy because there are times I feel that there are certain individuals who taking advantage of me. I don't want to get into in on my blog, just in case my employer were to stumble across it. I don't link friends to my blog in any way (I've sent select people the link); but since I'm not blogging anonymously, I should be cautious before divulging too much information.

Basically, among other things, I was asked my past salaries in my interview. I know I don't have to answer that question, but it's very difficult to deflect that question in a polite and respectful manner during an interview for a job one wants. The interviewer acknowledged it was a difficult question, and asked me anyway. I answered, and was told they wouldn't be able to offer me that high an amount. Fine. I presumed, therefore, that the amount I was offered was the highest they would go. I realize I shouldn't make that assumption, and I knew it at the time. Since I made myself vulnerable by declaring what I made at past jobs, I thought they would be honerable by taking that into consideration when formulating their offer. Upon having some idea of what coworkers make, I know they could have come higher. I negotiated for more vacation (which is great) and accepted the offer. Now that I know more about the company, I know I should not have been so naive. Of course, I knew it at the time, but it all comes down to me not being able to deflect a question I should not have been asked. My feeling of being minorly exploited is partially due to my own mistakes and assumptions, which (naturally) makes me angry with myself. And yet it all comes down to the interviewer, now one of my bosses, asking a question that person knew they shouldn't ask (and said so) but asking it anyway.