acne safe wedding – week three “easy + practical ways to keep stress low”

the practical stuff: easy ways to keep stress low with flowers, table settings, wedding favors, cake, vows

flowers – sorry to break it to you but nobody cares that much about flowers and most people won’t even remember what yours looked like, including you! i’ve heard people talking, in retrospect, about how unnecessarily stressful the floral arrangement planning was at their wedding. i chose one flower for everything. it’s called baby’s breath which is a gross name for a flower (but whatever) it’s simple, not a big statement, inexpensive, and it was a good choice for a wedding in the desert.

we used the baby’s breath flower for everything. i found photos of what i wanted on pinterest, took extensive notes, and emailed each photo, numbered, to the florist. we went over my notes and the photos together to make sure we were on the same page. this is how i described it over the phone, in almost exactly this wording:

  1. bouquet for bride and bridesmaids – biggish bunch that looks like it was scooped straight out of the garden, with a discreet wire to hold them together.
  2. decoration for ceremony – smaller bunch tied with white ribbon to end of each chair bordering the isle
  3. boutonnieres for groomsmen and father of bride and groom – teensy bunch with a green twig or two, up to you
  4. wrist corsage thing for mother of bride and groom – small sploof with a special flair in white, up to you, just to make the mamas feel special
  5. for cake – 2 sprigs for 2 of the layers on the cake and a little for the top, basically messy laid down bouquets

whether or not the floral arrangement guy thought i was a nut job is beside the point. i only had to have two conversations with him to plan all the floral everythings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

table settings – i chose to just keep it simple and white. that’s usually the easiest for the place you are holding the reception at or the place you’re renting from so will be the easiest for you too. the less little details the better. plus, it’ll be timeless. to keep the dining tables clutter free we just had a number on them as a marker. guests would pick up their place holder with the table number on it (which was also their wedding favor!) that way, when they brought their place holder to the table and set it down, it looked nice and like it was meant to be part of the arrangement.

wedding gifts – we just gave everybody a cactus. my mom felt like it wasn’t enough and that people expected candy or a monogrammed water bottle, but i resisted because nobody needs that shit anyways. i figured that i have never regretted going to a wedding because the favors were shitty, so i didn’t think anybody invited to my wedding would have that issue. plus, cacti are awesome! we got them from this etsy page and they were delivered to the inn where we had the ceremony and reception. a lot of my friends still have theirs and it’s cool to see them growing in different places! for bridal party, i got bracelets from this lady on etsy. they are simple and are meant to symbolize tying the knot. like, “thanks for helping me tie the knot!” the sentiment is cheesy but the gift wasn’t i swear.

cake – i don’t even like cake all that much but for traditions’ sake we got one. i wasn’t planning on eating it so it didn’t matter if it was acne safe. i just got some simple photos of cakes on pinterest, emailed them to a few wedding bakeries in the area and asked them to send me back photos of anything they’ve done that is similar. i chose the place that got back to me with a good photo, easy peasy! the real decision making came in on the acne safe pies we got. i found a place that could change things up a bit to accommodate me and ended up getting acne safe raspberry pie, apple pie, and blackberry pie. if you are getting married in the bay area, wholesome bakery is a local spot that makes cakes free from the top allergens (which means they are also acne safe).

food – hold the reception somewhere that can accommodate your diet! it’s not that crazy to ask for a soy and dairy free meal (remember that butter is ok, especially on your wedding day!). you just need to practice voicing your dietary restrictions so that you don’t wuss out when the time comes (like me and the acne safe makeup situation). i recommend doing research before meeting with the chef/wedding planner/restaurant owner/taco truck driver so that you know which dishes are already acne safe and which dishes could be easily modified. if possible, choose from what they already offer on their menu so that you don’t complicate things too much and make it more stressful than it needs to be.

vows – write them ahead of time. i did this the night before the wedding and felt a little rushed. what helped me the most with my vows were my bridesmaids. they told me things they’ve noticed have shifted since i met adam (sense of everything will be ok, more settled with who i am) and i was able to go from there. adam, on the other hand, just sat with our dog leroy and gracefully wrote in cursive until it was done. the good thing about waiting until the last minute on vows is that they don’t sound too forced or scripted. so, maybe don’t plan ahead. up to you.

here’s the thing. yes, we could have made choices so that the wedding came off fancier, sleeker, more elegant but it would have been a waste of time and stress (and money). i could not have been happier! i will never look back and wish that i spent more time stressing on what type of silverware we chose or which songs we played.

just try to keep in mind that the only goal for your wedding day is to have fun! you are your own biggest critic – nobody is judging you the way you’re judging you. so have fun and be unapologetically yourself. this is, after all, the only event everyone you know and love will feel obligated to show up for you – so take advantage of it and throw a good party!

all wedding photography done by heidi zumbrum

acne safe wedding – week two “makeup: planning ahead and day of”

makeup, planning ahead and day of (including advice from a makeup artist that can do your makeup acne safe in the bay area!)

best decision i made makeup-wise was to do a trial run well before the actual wedding day. i highly highly recommend doing this! my adorable and talented makeup artist, isabel macias, suggested we do the trial run and i agreed, without realizing how valuable it would be. i showed isabel the photos from pinterest i had found and liked – i thought the photos i shared were natural, yet defined enough to look good photographed. she did a great job mimicking those looks, but i learned the look i thought i was going for required wayyyy more makeup than i expected. from far away it looked great but up close it was too much for my taste.

so, this realization made it so that the day of i was able to articulate what i did like and what i thought we could do differently for the ceremony. we ended up using non-acne safe makeup because i wussed out – i didn’t want to be needy or bridezilla-ish with the makeup artist. i brought all my acne safe makeup and thought i had given myself enough pep talks to voice what i wanted… but the day of, i didn’t have it in me to be nit-picky and didn’t feel like micromanaging the artist was the right thing to do. plus, i saved myself stress the day of and just went with the flow.

my makeup was perfect, i couldn’t have been happier – but it did break me out afterwards. so i had a few months of pesky breakouts from the cloggy products we used. though, i have no regrets! but i wish i had the advice of bay area makeup artist rachel rockwood, who has been a skinSALVATION client since 2015.

not only does rachel personally understand the stress that goes along with having acne, but she also works for youngblood, a makeup company that makes most of the acne safe makeup we carry at skinSALVATION. (please note that some but not all of their makeup offerings are acne-safe!).

rachel has four basic tips for the day of the wedding:

  1. exfoliate beforehand (like with regular peels!) so that makeup application is even and doesn’t look cakey
  2. moisturize face, including eyebrows, to avoid flakiness when combing and grooming
  3. avoid sunscreen that’s over spf 15 because it can bounce light back in photos and make you look ghostly
  4. use a primer so makeup stays put through the kissing, hugging + tears

ok so now feast your eyes on rachel’s professional product recommendations and application advice below!

helpful hint: apply products in the order laid out below!

side note: only acne safe products that we would recommend to clients are clickable links.

primer – youngblood mineral primer or kasnoff tinted primer if you don’t want to wear foundation but want to even skin tone a bit

concealer under eyes – choose a color a half a shade lighter than your foundation and blend from the inner corner of the eye down the side of nose and out towards towards the cheekbone in a V like pattern. this will also add a highlight to the cheek bones. too much product will settle into creases so go sparingly and pat it quickly.  many sS’ers like using illuminare liquid foundation in the concealing formula for this!

concealer for breakouts – rachel loves the illuminare concealing formula we carry at skinSALVATION. set with youngblood loose foundation using a small eyeshadow brush.

foundation – youngblood loose foundation or illuminare’s moisturizing liquid mineral foundation for a more dewy look (or on drier skin).

eyes – pick eye colors that are complementary to your eye color. (for example green eyes pop in warm browns and rosy reds. blue eyes sparkle next to rose golds as well as cooler greys. brown eyes look great in purples and golds). tarte brand shadows and alima pure’s loose shadows are talc free. consider using individual lashes instead of the lash strips. you want them to blend in with your natural lashes! finish with mascara. (or get lash extensions!)

blush – apply a little more blush on than you think you need. blush tends to fade fast, but remember to blend evenly!! alima makes a wide array of acne safe blushes and a few bronzers (just choose the loose powders, as their pressed formulas are cloggy).

highlight – only the cheekbones, bridge of nose and cupids bow. you don’t want to look sweaty because you put highlighter everywhere! rachel likes the youngblood lunar dust in moonbeam. some of us at skinSALVATION (including me!) have been using fat and the moon highlighter and love it. alima also makes a few loose powder highlighters that are safe.

lips – pick a hydrating lip color. rachel doesn’t recommend long wearing lip color because they are so drying and they look dry on. she prefers the old fashion way of (1) sponging a base foundation on the lip line, (2) powdering, (3) lining the lips fully and (4) applying your color.

finish – youngblood rice setting powder or youngblood minerals in the mist. this step is a must to lock in the makeup and finish your look. their loose powder is nice for a natural look, but the pressed is easier to keep in your purse for touch-ups.

refresh – youngblood minerals in the mist or rosewater spray. when makeup moves throughout the day/night, spray again and buff with a powder brush to refresh the makeup.

according to rachel, bottom line is that healthy skin is essential for a good makeup application. 

her best beauty tip that won’t cost money: smile and laugh!! 

here is a link to rachel’s bridal portfolio:

http://www.rachelrockwood.com/portfolio/#/bridal/

stay tuned for next week’s acne safe wedding blog “easy ways to keep stress low: flowers, table settings, wedding favors, cake, vows”


all wedding photography done by heidi zumbrum

acne safe wedding – week one “straight up skincare routine and timeline for treatments”

straight up skincare routine and timeline for treatments –

first off, do not switch everything up before a big event. you should try to avoid throwing new variables into the mix! my pre-wedding routine with products and treatments worked so well because it had been tweaked for two years beforehand to find the best combination of active acne-clearing and healing products for my skin. so, that being said, don’t wait until the last minute to see an esthetician or try a new product, even if you have great skin! it’s best to try things out with enough time before the big event so that if something does go haywire, you have time to heal and switch back to the routine that works. at minimum, if you plan to use a product for exfoliation before the big day, please make sure to test-drive it about a month before to make sure you don’t have a bad reaction.

my own personal normal-to-dry-ish, clear-skin-maintenance-mode skincare routine for 6 months leading up to the wedding (please note that your skin is different, so your own personal routine may be different – hit up one of our estheticians to help you find yours!):

am:

charcoal wash

mandelic + d2o blend toner

max + jane eye serum

salicylic acid 2%

odara oil as moisturizer

tizo 3 sunscreen

makeup (acne safe, no time to mess around)

rosewater spray to set makeup

pm:

odara oil on dry skin as makeup remover

charcoal wash

remove with makeup removing sponge

mandelic + d2o blend toner

max + jane eye serum

vitamin a10+ serum

either: benzoyl peroxide and hydrating gel   OR  odara oil as moisturizer

having been a skinSALVATION client for several years, my skin was already relatively clear, so my appointments were spread out.

for best results, we recommend that clients who are experiencing active acne get treatments every 2-3 weeks until they are clear then 1 treatment a month to maintain clarity, with the last treatment being no less than 2 weeks prior to the big day.

here was the treatment schedule that personally worked for me, leading up to the wedding. :

  • every 3 weeks for 6 months: signature face treatment
  • 1.5 months before: signature face treatment
  • 3-4 weeks before: peel only treatment

if you don’t have acne or you’re already super clear (lucky you), then just get regular peels to keep your skin looking fresh. i’d say the last peel i did 3-4 weeks before the big day was key, because my skin was in that sweet spot after a peel where it looked smooth and radiant (and finished with the flaky dry skin that these peels are supposed to induce). alternatively, you can also opt for our acne-safe spa facial to help introduce some relaxation and moisture much needed with all the wedding planning jitters – again, at least 2 weeks prior to your big day.

it was making a decision to plan all this out beforehand that helped me to time it all out perfectly with my esthetician!

stay tuned for next week’s acne safe wedding blog – makeup, planning ahead and day of (including advice from a makeup artist that can do your makeup acne safe)!

all wedding photography by heidi zumbrum

acne safe wedding – introduction

if i’m being fully honest, i will admit that while planning my wedding i became strangely obsessed with people telling me i was a laid-back bride. i’ll also admit there were times i felt stressed while planning my wedding (like when the photobooth company ghosted on us), but overall i am pretty proud with how i handled all the planning. this is partly due to meditation but mainly due to making a whole lot of little decisions with just this thought as the guiding factor: what is the low-stress option?

before we dive in, i want to fill you in on my skin “situation” so you know i’m legit and trust my advice. i’ve been a skinSALVATION client since 2014. my skin cleared up within a few months of strictly following the acne safe lifestyle. i got a little cocky after maintaining 95-98% clarity for 2 years. during this cocky period where i felt invincible, i stayed diligent with the acne safe products but ate pizza (dairy and potential soybean oil in dough = not acne safe), chinese (soy up the wazoo = definitely not acne safe), and an occasional slice of cheddar cheese off the block (precise + literal definition of not acne safe).

whew! that felt good to get all that off my chest. so, that aside, about 6 months before my wedding i got really serious about getting my skin to a state where i wouldn’t have to slather on concealer to get a smooth finish. so, i did everything skinSALVATION recommends: the acne safe diet, products, signature face treatments, peels, stress management, sleep, the whole shebang.

and…the day of my wedding i didn’t have to wear a full face of makeup!

now i’m going to be straightforward. adding the requirement “acne safe” to my wedding day definitely made things more complicated. while working reception at skinSALVATION i have had the pleasure of chatting with some of our clients who are getting married this year and realized i had some solid advice for planning a low stress, acne safe wedding. so, i have decided to be a good samaritan and share what i’ve learned. i’ve organized what i am going to share with you into sections so that it’s easier to navigate. we are going to separate them into 3 blog posts and will post one a week:

  • week one: straight up skincare routine and timeline for treatments
  • week two: makeup, planning ahead and day of (including advice from a makeup artist that’s also a skinSALVATION client and can do your makeup acne safe!)
  • week three: easy ways to keep stress low: flowers, table settings, food, cake, vows, and wedding favors

so, stay tuned for next week’s post on straight up skincare routine and timeline for treatments!

emily’s acne journey

2018 – clear skinned, happy and fulfilled!

i had perfect skin until around 2012 when i was 25 years old.

when i went off the birth control pill i had been taking for over ten years and started getting painful, inflamed breakouts in the lower half of my face, my self-esteem plummeted. my way of interacting with the world changed. i began wearing tons of makeup everyday and spending more time in the mirror. i avoided places that were well lit so that i could hide. i chose how i faced people based on where the worst inflammation was on my face. in other words, my acne was always on my mind.

i immediately started buying “non-comedogenic” and “acne-safe” (or rather, marketed-towards-acne) products at the drugstore. i would use a new product for a few weeks and when my skin didn’t clear up i would go back to the drugstore and buy a new cleanser and moisturizer. i didn’t know much about skincare and was overwhelmed whenever i tried to figure out what was best for me. after a few months of trying tons of different products with no real progress, i went to a dermatologist.

this photo exemplifies how overwhelmed i felt whenever i went shopping for something to “cure” my acne

side note: i now know that when products claim they are good for acne, non-comedogenic, or free of cloggy ingredients it does not mean much. i would estimate that 95% of the products clients bring in during the initial consult appointment are actually not acne-safe and are actually exacerbating their existing acne and/or creating new seeds – even though they are advertised as such! 

the dermatologist i went to prescribed two topical products right off the bat: retin-a and clindamycin.

  • retin-a is a medication with the active ingredient of vitamin a, which is acne-fighting and beneficial for many people struggling with their skin BUT the formula i was using was in a base with isopropyl myristate which is a 5 on the 0-5 comedogenic scale = as cloggy as it gets! you can read more about comedogenic ingredients and our vetting process here. so while the active ingredient may have been helping, i was getting a dose of super cloggy ingredients simultaneously. retin-a also makes you more photosensitive, but because i was scared that sunscreen would break me out i wasn’t wearing it. i got sunburned and gained a few more freckles during this time.
  • clindamycin is in a class of medications called lincomycin antibiotics. it works by slowing or stopping the growth of bacteria that cause acne and by decreasing swelling1. since i started this active product at the same time as retin-a i am not sure how it affected my skin, but side effects include dry skin, red skin, peeling skin, increased sensitivity, and even breakouts!

overall my skin became more sensitive, red, dry, and most importantly did not clear up during the use of these two products. so my dermatologist decided to try a more aggressive approach: oral antibiotics. i was prescribed doxycycline and instructed to take it twice daily for 3 months straight, which i did religiously. my skin didn’t clear up during this time, and the only changes i observed were negative:

  • my digestion became problematic = my gut health declined. there’s a link between your gut health and skin health, you can read more about that here.
  • my hair started falling out. my dermatologist and primary care physician assured me that it was not caused by the doxycycline but my hair started growing back after i stopped the medication and that was the only change, so i am pretty certain that was the cause. unfortunately my hair has not fully gone back to the way it was before taking this drug.

after 3 months of doxycycline i had a follow-up appointment with my dermatologist. she didn’t seem surprised that my skin hadn’t cleared up, and decided to “take the next step”. i got a prescription for benzoyl peroxide (aka bp). so now i was using 3 topical prescription products and had stopped taking the antibiotic. the bp i got was extremely drying so my skin starting cracking around my mouth and felt raw all the time. i continued using it though, because i thought it was my only hope.

over the next year i used those three products daily, but kept getting inflamed acne in the lower half of my face. it would itch in these areas, feel sore to the touch, and never seem to fully come to the surface. if i had an especially painful cyst i would go to another dermatologist about 45 minutes from my house to get a cortisone injection. these injections were expensive, painful, and sometimes caused some little textured scars – and i realize now, didn’t remove the actual acne seed. because the seed remained in my skin, the discoloration also remained and many times the cyst would become inflamed again.

i started trying to find my own solution to acne. i did tons of internet research and read blogs written by people who struggled with their skin. i used coconut oil to remove makeup (super cloggy and made my inflammation worse). i would pour boiling water on washcloths and place them on my face, then try to pop the deep cysts i had (which always made them bigger and darker in color). i stopped eating dairy altogether and that helped clear up most of the acne in my forehead, but i would still get breakouts in my chin.

one day, one of my close friends told me her roommate worked at a place that specialized in adult acne. i looked up skinSALVATION and told myself i would make an appointment if my skin didn’t clear up within 6 months of being dairy free. 6 months later i called and scheduled my initial consultation.

the first time i stepped foot in skinSALVATION in 2014, i felt relief. it was liberating to be able to go over my whole skin history with somebody who knew what they were talking about. i learned what lifestyle changes i needed to make to clear up my skin. i changed all the products i was using because they all had pore clogging ingredients. i started coming in for treatments (extractions + dermalogical grade peel) every 3-4 weeks.

at skinSALVATION we rate the skin’s clarity using a percentage, with 100% meaning fully clear and with no acne. if half the pores on someone’s face had acne, we would rate the skin at 50% clarity. since i had cut out dairy 6 months before coming in for my consultation, my skin was fairly clear except for the inflammation in my chin. kerry, my esthetician, rated my skin at 80% clear.

this is how my chin looked at my consultation on 11/2014

a summary of my progress over the first year and a half after becoming a client is below. as you can see, my clarity would go up and down depending on how strict i was with the lifestyle changes the estheticians recommended. despite dropping the ball a few times, my skin never got as broken out as when i first started, because i continued using the acne-safe topical products in my home-care regimen and came in for treatments.

  • 11/2014 – consultation – clarity: 80%
  • 12/2014 – 1st treatment – clarity: 85% i was worried because i didn’t peel very much after the treatment, but then learned that the skin doesn’t need to literally peel to get the benefits – there is cell turnover happening on a microscopic level
  • 1/2015 – 2nd treatment – clarity: 90%
  • 3/2015 – 3rd treatment – clarity: 85% skin went down in clarity most likely because it was purging the soy i had in my diet before becoming a client. i also went a little too long between my 2nd and 3rd treatments so this may have slowed my progress
  • 4/2015 – 4th treatment – clarity: 90% inflammation had gone down altogether by this time
  • 5/2015 – 5th treatment – clarity: 95%
  • 6/2015 – 6th treatment – clarity: 97%
  • 7/2015 – peel-only – clarity: 97% got just a peel, not a full treatment with extractions since they weren’t needed
  • 9/2015 – peel-only – clarity: 97% i got a little cocky around this time and started eating soy again
  • 10/2015 – peel-only – clarity: 95% the soy started catching up with me and i had some inflammation again
  • 1/2016 – 7th treatment – clarity: 85% the soy i ate had officially started purging. i had to learn this lesson the hard way!
  • 2/2016 – 8th treatment – clarity: 85-90%
  • 3/2016 – 9th treatment – clarity: 90% was better with acne-safe diet but still eating some refined sugar
  • 4/2016 – 10th treatment – clarity: 95%

i’ve learned over time that my skin is the most clear when i implement all the suggestions my sS estheticians make (what a surprise!). i’m the type of person who has to learn lessons on my own though, so despite the knowledgeable advice i received here at sS, i had to connect the dots myself to truly make a change in my eating habits. i can see now when i look through the notes the estheticians took each time i came in that when i ate dairy, soy, or refined sugar, i would abstain and my skin would break out a few months afterwards from purging, then my clarity would go back up a few months after that.

 

this is me now, clear skin, no makeup and with my daughter wilma!

 

now that i am working as an esthetician here at skinSALVATION, i have extra motivation to stay compliant to the acne-safe lifestyle. it would be hard for me to teach people what changes to make if i weren’t living by those guidelines myself, right?! so these days my skin has been hovering around 90-95% clarity. i suspect i’m not 100% clear due to some hormonal changes (went off the IUD and some supplements i was taking) – and the acne-safe lifestyle is a daily practice, not perfection.

due to my personal struggle with acne, being in a position now where i can help people clear their skin means a lot. in some strange way, i feel like i struggled with acne so i could find this path to being an esthetician. it is so fulfilling to be able to relate to my clients and say “don’t worry, i’ve been there, i have an answer for you”. it seems everything happens for a reason!

1. https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a609005.html