Posts Tagged ‘skincare’

What’s in the medicine cabinet: Generic miracle workers

Friday, February 7, 2014
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Turned on to a knock off.

Turned on to a knock off.

In keeping with my new year’s writing resolution to develop more blog posts that could actually help other mothers, I’ve decided to write a few shorter pieces related to food, beauty, fashion, and whatever else catches my attention.  For example:

What’s in my medicine cabinet?

What’s in my kitchen pantry?

What’s in my closet?

What’s in my makeup bag?

These little posts aren’t to show off what I’m buying, using, eating or wearing.  The goal is to share little discoveries that might help or bring happiness to your daily life, too.

Focusing on WHAT’S IN THE MEDINE CABINET, I’ll ask you to flip back a couple of weeks to a post I wrote about hormonal acne.  My tweenage daughter and I are suffering from different types of breakouts, but we’ve been spared some of the agony and embarrassment by products made by Rodan and Fields, the creators of Proactiv and Unblemish.

The problem is that both kits can become extremely expensive if you should need the products longer than a couple of weeks or months. But, I was able to save about $30 for the three-step Proactiv set by picking up a generic kit at Walmart for $11.

I’ll be the first to admit that I question generic brands, because I’m convinced that name brands contain an ingredient that the off-brand does not.  But, for $11, I decided to take a risk and give the fake Proactiv a shot.  So far, the Equate cleanser, toner, spot treatment and mask work like a charm.

I haven’t been able to find a generic version of Unblemish, but in time, I’m sure someone in the cosmetics and skincare market will crack the code to stubborn middle-aged acne.  But at least I know it won’t cost a fortune to banish my daughters’ blemishes over the next few years.

Note: Katy Brown was not paid to use or to endorse any of these products or services.  As her husband will tell you, she buys everything.






Zit Happens

Monday, January 13, 2014
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There are collections of expressions that promise hardships for those lucky few who never seem to suffer.  I suppose we should feel guilty for hoping the bottom drops out of their seemingly eternal happiness, but instead, we manipulate our thoughts.  Rather than hoping “she’ll get hers one day,” we secretly pray that God will humble the proud.  As if that’s better.

And I was one of those girls who had it all.  Yes, I lived through my teenage years with…clear skin.

In junior high, girls in homeroom would stare at my face and announce that they hated me (just kidding!).  Girls in high school asked why I never had a blemish of any kind.  The truth is, I don’t know.  I wore the worst makeup on drugstore shelves, and I rarely washed it off my face at night.  I don’t remember drinking gallons of water, and I don’t remember using any special lotions or potions.

But then, as the promises promise, life changed after Senior Week in Myrtle Beach, S.C.  Simply put, my face exploded.

My luck, and a bottle of Coppertone Dark Tanning Oil, had run out.

Speaking of the South, there was nothing more difficult than being the daughter of a woman who practiced perfectionism like medicine or law. She had four strict rules: Don’t get fat. Don’t slouch. Don’t talk back. Don’t get zits.

I followed rules one, two and three, but the fourth rule was almost impossible.  My mother, God rest her old soul, was convinced that problematic skin was connected to problematic behavior. To some extent, my mother was correct:  I didn’t take care of myself while on vacation.  If you’ve seen the movie, Shag, then you’ll be reminded of what senior weeks were like along the Grand Strand of Myrtle Beach.  No Mother, we weren’t touring historical Fort Sumter. But the battle followed me home and into a dermatologist’s office.

“I don’t know what’s wrong with her skin, doctor,” my mother said.  “She seems to have some sort of allergy.”

The doctor, who could’ve easily fought in the American Civil War, tilted my face toward the morning light of a nearby window.

“Whiteheads. Loads of them,” he said gripping my chin. “I can’t count them all.”

My mother dropped her head in embarrassment.

“You’ve been eating junk and touching your face, haven’t you?” he asked.

Yes, that’s right.  I wrung all the grease out of my mother’s fried chicken and smeared it on my cheeks, I thought.

I looked at my mother, who pulled at the clasp on her purse, which was about to become much lighter after a prescription pad of medication was handed to her.

“And stop using whatever you’re putting on your face and get bars of Lever 2000,” he ordered.  “Cleanse twice a day.”

After that, we traveled to the Medicine Shoppe in Kanawha City, where I waited for a miniscule tube of Retin-A, a bottle of Tetracycline, and some other type of bacterial killer that could’ve removed mold from the school’s locker room walls. From there, my mother drove to Stone & Thomas and bought another hundred dollars’ worth of cosmetics to cover up the “places” on my face.

By the tenth day, my face was falling off.  The pills were causing stubborn zits to turn into full-blown cystic acne.   That, too, was promised by the dermatologist.  “It’ll get worse before it gets better,” he scowled.

No foolin’. My face itched. It burned.  It tingled.  It festered.  I was too ashamed to leave the house, which might’ve been a good thing considering what happens if a pea-sized amount of Retin-A is heated by the sun’s damaging rays.  The “places,” as my mother called them, ached to the touch of fingers dried out from the so-called miracle soap.  To this very day, I gag when I smell its “original scent,” which should be no scent at all.

While I was away at Ohio University, and I do mean away in that I never left my dorm room other than to eat and attend class, I dumped all of the products and pills into the trash.  How I wish I had that tube of Retin-A now!

By Christmas, my face improved thanks to a new product called Proactiv. I found an advertisement for the three-step program in the back of Parade Magazine, shoved inside the Sunday newspaper.  I figured nothing else could hurt — not my skin and certainly not my feelings — so I sent in a money order for $49.99 and waited for the mint green liquid to arrive.  It did, and after two weeks of careful application, my skin was as clear as a teenager’s.  Well, some teenagers.

The point of this dreadful walk down memory lane is to announce that Proactiv is in our medicine cabinet once again, for mother and daughter. Now that I’m 40, hormonal acne has kicked into overdrive, and I’ve had to change everything about my skincare routine.  My hairstylist turned me on to the Rodan+Fields collection of anti-aging products, which seemed to be working wonders until the summer. I simply switched to the Proactiv creators’ adult line of acne treatment, Unblemish, and waited for middle age to settle down.  It did the job.

My daughter, now a tween, is experiencing the first few “places” that have popped up on her forehead thanks to bangs that could be used to season a cast iron skillet.  What an ugly image, I know, but it’s true.  I’ve actually considered washing the child’s hair in Dawn dishwashing liquid to help clarify her changing tresses.  If it cleans oil off a duck, then it has to strip overactive oils from a tween’s scalp.  But for now, we’re spot-treating her “places” with the formula that fixed my face.

However, I did make one drastic change in the course of treatment. As opposed to getting madder than a wet hen because life isn’t flawless, I’ve found a kinder, gentler way to help my daughter deal with inevitable growing pains.

“Bless your heart.”






Here’s looking at you, kid

Monday, March 11, 2013
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It has been suggested that I seek professional help so many times that I’ve lost count.   There was the recommendation of grief counseling after my parents died, the prevention of postpartum depression when my daughter was born, and spiritual sessions during my aunt’s residency in a hospice center.  But then, things got weird.  It was as if everyone knew my life needed expert care to whip it back into shape.

My house needs a deep cleaning.   You should call (this company).

I can’t lose 10 pounds, let alone 40.   You should call (that trainer).

The roof is leaking in the kitchen.  You should call (these contractors).

We need a sitter for a few hours each week.  You should call (those caregivers).

But my stubborn streak keeps me from accepting help before it’s a lost cause.  This is how I got into trouble coloring my own hair (Mike called me “Patches”), trying to groom the Golden Retriever (Mike called her “Patches”) and stripping the bathroom wallpaper (Mike called me lots of names).

When Ulta opened this past year, I did it again.  I must have bought everything in the store to try to reverse sun damage.  There was this serum for this problem, and lift gel for that one, de-puffing cream and firming lotions, dark spot eliminators and line fillers.  I self-diagnosed my face through online quizzes and virtual evaluations, and I tried all of the new age treatments that relied on nature’s greatest assets to blur creases and wrinkles.  Nothing worked (aside from staying out of the sun). Then, I found an article in one of the many beauty magazines that endorsed a top of the line cream harvested from the deepest crevices of the Mediterranean Sea. Women wrote that it worked like “Jesus rubbing His hands on your face.”

I bought two jars.

Two weeks later, I was at Rite Aid buying Clearasil.

Recently, I took Ava and Maryn to visit my hairstylist, Nancy, at Angela’s Salon.  It should come as no surprise that I had attempted to trim the girls’ bangs with kitchen shears.

First, Nancy asked me not to do it ever again.  And then she asked me what I had done to myself.

“Everything,” I replied.

Nancy told me to toss the high-priced, low-quality shampoos in the trash and to start over with a clarifying product that would undo all the “essential” oils I had poured on my tresses trying to bring back a glossy sheen.  Then, she told me to toss everything I had been slathering on my skin — even the Jesus cream — and to start over with a regimen that was age and stage appropriate.

OK, Nancy.  Step one is accepting that I have a problem.  Step two is seeking professional help.  Fix me.

Nancy put me on a special skincare program designed by two dermatologists, Katie Rodan and Kathy Fields. After a thorough consultation, it was determined that I didn’t have serious problems.  I did have an addiction to bottles and boxes. I’m hooked on packaging, and I end up giving myself troubles that weren’t there before.

Stress has beaten up on my face, though, as a previous blog of mine revealed.  I have goal posts between my eyebrows from scowling, lines around my mouth from pursing my lips to prevent saying things I shouldn’t, and fan-type designs around my eyes from squinting because of a cataract I still haven’t dealt with.  My skin is dull from harsh soap, and there are splotchy marks from lightening creams that bleached the area rather than fading freckles.

(Click on the images below to get a close up look…if you dare.)

Brow lines

Ruddy complexion and enlarged pores

Crow’s feet

Loss of firmness and dark circles.


The Rodan and Fields’ program appropriate for my condition is called REDEFINE.  There’s nothing famous about it — no cosmetic counter registries to make sure I haven’t bought more than one miracle in a month, no celebrity endorsements, no opportunities to buy it in stores from uneducated sales associates. It’s just a doctor-recommended program to undo damage (that I’ve brought on myself) and to slow down what I can’t totally prevent.

“You have to follow the directions,” Nancy warned.  “There’s a reason you do what the doctors say.”

There are four steps to follow — a cleansing mask, a toner, a day cream (and then a night cream). While it doesn’t sound unique, it’s the difference between a beauty gimmick and skincare therapy.

  • Step one:  Remove makeup with a product of your choice (I like Cetaphil, found at Target or Walmart). Then, apply the REDEFINE Daily Cleansing Mask. Massage a quarter-sized amount into your skin with wet fingers for about 10-15 seconds, and then  let it dry – yes, dry.  Leave it on your face as a mask for 2 minutes, and then rinse off with cool water.  The cleanser turns into a clay mask, which pulls out impurities.
  • Step two:  Apply the REDEFINE Pore Minimizing Toner.  Use a cotton pad to swipe a quarter-sized squirt of this alcohol-free liquid to remove traces of the mask and to exfoliate the skin.
  • Step three:  Apply a dime-sized amount of REDEFINE Triple Defense Treatment, which is a daily moisturizer with SPF-30 coverage.  (I added a REDFINE Multi-Function Eye Cream to produce quicker results in that area.) Apply your regular cosmetics, if you wish.
  • Step four:  Repeat all of these steps at night, but apply the REDEFINE Overnight Restorative Cream, which is the product that turns around the effects of the day. Firm your skin, lessen lines and minimize the appearance of anything else that’s annoying.

The booklet states that users  should start to see changes in about a  week, but if they don’t like the line of products for any reason, customers can get their money back.

With all of that said, I’m giving it a try — and yes — I’ll post before and after photos to see if Rodan and Fields helped me undo my evil ways.  My hairstylist, Nancy, was able to give me 10 years back when she cut several inches off my hair.  I trust her to erase the same time off my face.

* This is not a sales pitch, but another one of Katy Brown’s many experiments.  She paid for all services and products (about $140). Only the advice to seek professional help was free! For a consultation with Nancy Hilliard to find the regimen that’s right for you, visit her Rodan and Fields page:


Katy Brown is the Monday blogger in The Mommyhood.  She is the owner of The Write Word, LLC, the author of Kat Tales: Stories of a house…broken, a college instructor of communication classes, and a speaker on the topics of parenting and elder care.  The mother of two daughters ages 9 and 7, Katy’s first children’s book will be published in late spring of this year.