Some real talk about adult acne.

image from've struggled with mostly mild but very persistent acne my whole adult life. Hormonal birth control helped for a while but the effectiveness dropped off at some point in the last year or so. I'd read a bit about Paula's Choice BHA products here and there and the concept sounds good - BHA exfoliants are able to get down into the pores and clean the gunk out to clear your skin.

I've had good luck with a BHA product like this for spot treatments but was hesitant to just put it all over. I decided to trust the reviews and the good reputation Paula's Choice has and I'm about two-thirds through my first bottle of the 2% BHA liquid.

It's very nearly a miracle for me. You HAVE to be consistent - I slacked on my skincare for about a week and my skin broke the eff out but I've gotten back on track and it's clearing up wonderfully. 

Everyone's skin is different and what works for one person might be a total flop for me and vice versa. I've never had luck with traditional acne treatments because they're targeted to oily skin and mine is on the dry side. I need something to just target the pimples without drying out my skin and this does the trick.

My absolute only complaint is that the texture of the liquid version is more like a serum and feels a bit greasy on my skin. So I might try the gel formula and see if that feels better. It's also extremely important to note that you have to wear sunscreen religously when you use a chemical exfoliant like this - it will make your skin photosensitive and you will burn.

Things I need to tell you about Ireland.

Tomorrow is St. Patrick's Day and whether you're really Irish or not, you might be celebrating all things green and orange. Since I've actually been to Ireland (bragging), I thought I'd share every single thing I know, in case you ever plan to visit.

1. Ireland is beautiful. There are rolling green hills, adorable little villages, cliffs that overlook the ocean, etc. The entire country is posing for a postcard. It's not a very large island, so you can see quite a lot of it just driving around and keeping your eyes open. There aren't a lot of indigenous animals but I did see some swans just hanging out in a pond. And sheep. So many sheep.

Sidenote: one my favorite things was visiting a sheep farmer and seeing how he works with his dogs, sheers his sheep, etc. I got to hold a PUPPY. It may have been all the fresh air but that puppy was one of the best things I've ever experienced. 

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A donkey we met at Bunratty Castle. I love him.

2. The people in Ireland are just as nice as you'd expect. Very welcoming, so kind, great sense of humor. That's not to generalize too much - people are individuals - but for the most part, you'll be welcomed with a smile and a "how're ya?" Irish people do tend to be gabby so don't be surprised if a stranger strikes up a conversation. They're just genuinely friendly so be nice back and don't ruin the good vibes.

3. Ireland is so relaxing. It's quiet. It rains multiple times a day but in a pitter-patter sort of way that makes you want to wear a sweater and sip tea. It's dark and still at night so your brain will just shut right down. I don't think I've ever slept better.

4. If you're of Irish descent, like so many of us in America are, you might get that vague feeling that you're at home in Ireland. You'll feel like you're in a magical place where you can connect with your ancestors and find your roots. I felt it, too, just a little. Buy a family crest with your last name on it and carry that warm, fuzzy feeling home with you.

5. Don't be afraid to be a tourist. Ireland relies heavily on tourism and no one will look down their nose at you if you ask for directions or need help understanding things. Don't be shy about popping into a pub just to check it out or asking tour guides lots of questions. Be curious, be respectful, and relax. You'll have a wonderful time.

That's it - everything you need to know. 

Beauty favs for getting through this awful winter

I think we can all agree that winter sucks and this one has been especially awful. My scalp itches, the skin under and around my nose is flaky and chapped, my hands are parched, my cuticles are ragged, everything is a mess. It's time to take the lotions and creams up a notch.

superbalm!For my annoyingly itchy scalp, I've turned to Head and Shoulders dry scalp care with almond oil and the Superbalm scalp treatment from LUSH. Head and Shoulders isn't the most luxurious beauty brand but I'm not usually picky about shampoo as long as it gets my hair clean without making it feel like straw. It has really helped with cutting back on scalp itch. The Superbalm steps in for a little extra help as needed. It's a lot like a face mask for your scalp - rub it into the skin, let it marinade for a while, and then shampoo. It very gentle rids the scalp of flakes and calms the skin with all kinds of nice oils.

The skin on my face is a little drier than usual, somewhat dull and I've spotted some flaking here and there. I've been using the Korres Wild Rose + Vitamin C Advanced Brightening Sleeping Facial for quite a while and although I'm not seeing miraculous results, my skin tone is more even and it's really hydrating without being greasy. 

If you do have very dry skin, I would recommend getting a sample of the Greek Yoghurt Advanced Nourishing Sleeping Facial. That one is super hydrating and soothing for winter worn skin.

lemony flutter Lemony Flutter has cult status amongst nail care fanatics and I'm definitely on that team. It seems pricey for a cuticle cream but the tub will last for ages and it's worth every penny. It's a product you'll use every day to keep your cuticles healthy and looking nice. After I take off nail polish, I like to slather it onto the whole nail area and then buff it into the nails lightly. It's also nice to rub a bit into the tops of my  hands when my knuckles are all chapped and irritated. 

The skin on my body is dry year round, so I have a whole collection of lotions that I rotate through. I don't really have a current favorite, though. I like the body creams from Bath and Body Works but they can be heavy on the fragrance. I wish they'd come out with one that's very gently scented with lavender and vanilla. I'd buy a crate of that.

I've been using the Vaseline Spray & Go moisturizer in Cocoa Radiant and surpringsly, it's really hydrating! It's super light so I wasn't expecting much but it gets the job done on days I don't feel like coating myself with something heavy. You just spray it all over and rub it in, like a spray sunscreen.

Jack Black Intense Therapy Lip BalmAnd finally, my holy grail, my very favorite, my most esteemed lip balm: the Jack Black Intense Therapy Lip Balm. This lip balm works. It doesn't just coat the lips to make them feel soft and then leave you with the heartache of dry lips in an hour or two. It doesn't irritate the skin so you have to apply more and more because you're addicted (been there?). It just does the job of hydrating your lips and protecting them with SPF 25. There are other lip balms that I use but Jack Black is the one I will repurchase forever and ever, amen.

New Year's Eve makeup and some favorite products

NYE makeupI really wanted to do a subtle winged liner and sparkly gold eyeshadow look but it just wasn't happening. I started over twice! So I just slapped on some black eyeliner and smudged it up. I knew I'd be doing a lot of drinking and gabbing so I wanted to take it easy on the lipstick. No one wants to be babysitting a red lip all night.

Some of the products I used:

  • Makeup Forever HD foundation
  • Maybelline dream lumi touch highlighting concealer
  • Various Urban Decay shadows
  • Urban Decay liner in Perversion, which is the blackest pencil liner I've used
  • Clinque High Impact waterproof mascara, my favorite
  • Benefit Coralista blush
  • Hourglass ambient lighting powder in Diffused Light. There's so much hype around this product and while I like it, it's not as mind blowingly awesome as I was expecting

I need to work on getting some better lighting for pictures like this. But yay makeup!

My actual new year's resolutions

I'm actually pretty good at keeping resolutions. Let's see how I do in 2014. Just a few things I want to do:

1. Learn how to apply false eyelashes. Yes, this is #1.

2. Blog on this blog so I have a blog. I've really been shying away from blogging for the last few years but Stephen convinced me to try again.

3. Try to be kinder to myself. I don't mean by getting more rest or anything like that. I mean saying nicer things to myself instead of minimalizing everything I'm good at.

4. Make a real effort to pay off our debt. We got married in September and it was (of course) more expensive than we were anticipating.

5. Clean out and organize my wardrobe. I'm so dreading this.