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Jojoba Oil Review - The Acne Experiment

Jojoba Oil Review - The Acne Experiment
All Images © Crappy Candle / The Acne Experiment

I wish you Happy Holidays, a Festive Festivus, and a Drunken New Year. My gift to you for these final days of 2014 is a review on oil. Merry Greasemas.

Oil is a really scary thing for someone like me who's already shiny faced and prone to stubborn "reactionary" acne (my skin is not shy about letting me know when it doesn't like something: silicone, alcohol, New York, whatever). I was taught from a young age that oil on oily/acne prone skin is a major no-no. What I've learned more recently is that so long as you're smart about it, and choose the right oil/method, it might not be such a she-devil.

Research I must. It is my duty.

First, I figured out that certain oils are better for oily skin because they're "drier." Oils in this category include grapeseed oil* and tea tree oil. Certain oils are super pore cloggy and generally be avoided if you have acne. Oils in this category include coconut oil and wheat germ oil. Certain oils are considered non-comedogenic and are the most likely to not mess up acne-prone skin (this not a guarantee, of course). Oils in this category include hemp oil and petroleum. Finally, certain oils aren't oils at all. "Oils" in this category include shea butter and jojoba oil. Jojoba oil is actually a wax, which is not oil apparently; more interestingly, jojoba is the "oil" that most closely matches the oil our skin produces.

So jojoba, an already low-comedogenic oil, seemed like the best choice for my very first oil experiment. I almost chose hemp oil because it's less comedogenic than jojoba, but that shit needs to be refrigerated. Fuck that.

  • Jojoba Oil (Trader Joe's)
  • Aztec Healing Clay
  • Raw, Unfiltered, Organic Apple Cider (TJoes)

Because oil is so frightfully scary, I decided to test it out on my forehead only for a week before putting it all over my face. Each night, I applied a basic Aztec Healing Clay Mask, remove it, then rubbed a few drops of jojoba on my forehead only.

Next, I researched oil cleansing. A lot of people tout oil cleansing as a fantastic alternative to traditional cleansers. The idea is that "like dissolves like" so the oil you cleanse with will loosen up the sebum in your pores and leave you clean, refreshed, and with less acne. I found a good tutorial that involves applying the oil, rubbing it on for 10 minutes, then wiping it off with a damp washcloth. Ok, sounds simple enough. I tried it on the first day, then fell a little farther down the rabbit oil and discovered "like dissolves like" is a load of horseshit.

I slipped even further into the oil hole and discovered that oil cleansing is a fucking horror show (these are real review excerpts from Makeup Alley):

Oil Cleansing Method (OCM) Reviews :: The Acne Experiment

(cries softly)

The man takes two steps back and in a burst of flames, revealing himself to be a Balrog. "Welcome to the pits of hell, my friends. Here is a face-load of impenetrable zits."

Yeah. No oil cleansing for me. I decided to just use the jojoba as a moisturizer post Clay Mask application. About 3-4 drops was more than enough. On some days I applied and left it on, on other days, I applied, left it on for a few minutes then rinsed it off with a washcloth and water. I didn't use cleanser at all while testing the jojoba oil.


Before I get to my results, I want to comment briefly on oil cleansing (which I didn't fully test, mind you). My thoughts are as follows:

  1. I don't think oil cleansing is bad for everyone, but if you have oily skin or are acne prone it may not be worth the risk.
  2. If you do try it, for the love of all that is good and holy, use non-comedogenic or super low comedogenic oils. It seems a lot of the people having problems used coconut oil, olive oil, and/or castor oil. I know castor oil is supposed to be fantastic for ocm, but you might want to spot test it before rubbing it all over your face so vigorously.
  3. Don't put a hot washcloth on your face. It's probably not a good idea to do this regardless of whether you're oil cleansing or not (it can break capillaries and aggravate sensitive skin).
  4. Come to think of it, maybe rubbing your acne prone face for 10 minutes is a terrible idea. I know my skin does not like my fingers, and rubbing oil into it sounds plain mean. Instead, I'd just apply it like you would lotion, leave it on for 10 minutes, then wipe it off.
  5. If you start breaking out, stop using it immediately. Oil cleansing will not ever result in purging. Ever. Full Stop.
Okay, the results:

Jojoba Oil Before and After :: The Acne Experiment
Before = 2 weeks after Tea Tree Test; Forehead Test = After 1 week of applying Jojoba Oil to my forehead only;
After = After 1 week of applying Jojoba Oil to my entire face

Jojoba Oil Before and After :: The Acne Experiment
Jojoba Oil Before and After**

These were taken two weeks after the forehead jojoba test, and one week after the full-face jojoba test. I don't see much of a difference, but more importantly, I'm not really seeing nasty new acne either. There are some new spots that cropped up over the course of the test, but not enough for me to call it a full-on "break out."

My takeaway is that jojoba seems like a safe ingredient for my skin, but ultimately, I found it too damned greasy to use on its own. I don't need that much moisture on my face, but I'm not opposed to using jojoba as a spot moisturizer, eye "cream," or eye makeup remover. If I ever do start using a facial moisturizer full-face again, it's going to have to be way lighter than jojoba.

Next Up: Aspirin


*Grapeseed oil, like jojoba oil, has a 2 (out of 5) comedogenic rating. If you are trying oil and have acne-prone skin, I would probably not try grapeseed first. If you have combination or oily skin (and are not acne prone), grapeseed might be a good option for you.

**Note: I have some fat zits going on in my chin area, but considering that they showed up before I tested Jojoba on my chin, I don't attribute it to the oil. I attribute it to my old face wash that I tried using the week prior. Ugh.

PS: During the Aspirin test my forehead broke out more than usual. I'll comment on that experience in a separate review, but there is a possibility the break out was due in part to a delayed response to the jojoba oil. I'm not sure though. I don't want to put it on my forehead again anyway, so I suppose this point is moot.

Jojoba Oil Review - The Acne Experiment
Jojoba Oil on Acne-Prone Skin :: The Acne Experiment


Meow Cosmetics - Mineral Foundation Swatches

Meow Cosmetics - Mineral Foundation Swatches

If you haven't heard of them yet, allow me to introduce you to a lovely brand called Meow Cosmetics. Meow is a small, indie makeup company that makes limited ingredient mineral foundations, concealers, finishing powders, eyeshadows, and blushes that are ideal for people with problem skin.

The issue with larger manufacturers of mineral makeup (such as Bare Minerals) is that their products often contain ingredients that can be problematic for the acne folks and the sensitive skin folks (bismuth oxychloride, ain't she a sonofabitch). I used Bare Minerals for years, but divorced it when it gave me a sandpaper-like rash. I've dabbled in a few different mineral makeup brands since then (Everyday Minerals and Alima Pure), but have yet to settle.

This is the breakdown of the ingredients in each of the mineral makeup brands I've tried:

  • Bare Minerals (original): Titanium Dioxide, Zinc Oxide, Bismuth Oxychloride, Mica, Iron Oxides
  • Everyday Minerals (semi-matte & matte formulas): Mica, Titanium Dioxide, Iron Oxides
  • Alima Pure (satin matte): Mica, Titanium Dioxide, Zinc Oxide, Iron Oxides 
  • Meow Cosmetics (purrfect): Mica, Titanium Dioxide, Iron Oxides
    Meow Cosmetics (pampered): Mica, Titanium Dioxide, Zinc Oxide, Iron Oxides
    Meow Cosmetics (flawless): Mica, Zinc Oxide, Titanium Dioxide, Boron Nitride, Iron Oxides

Meow, EM, and Alima all contain the same ingredients, but both Alima and EM broke me out. Meow's claim is that "all minerals are not made equally" and that many folks that are mica sensitive (which I could be) have had luck with their product. The founder of Meow states that she started the company in an attempt to create makeup that she herself could wear given her own problem skin. It seems promising. I chose to try Purrfect and Pampered formulas as this is what Meow recommends for people with finicky skin.

Before you visit their website, let me warn you: it is confusing as fuck. It looks like it was made in 1995; I expected one of those dancing babies to pop up and oogah chaka me into an early grave. Despite this, I was able to navigate the atrocious design and confusing cat-theme to choose 16 foundation samples.

Meow has by far the most shades to choose from out of all the mineral brands out there (86 in all). Finding a match looks a bit like a football playbook:

Meow Cosmetics - Mineral Foundation Swatches :: Natural Light       Meow Cosmetics - Mineral Foundation Swatches :: Natural Light (shade)

These photos were taken are outside. The first photo is in full sun, while the second is in the shade. In the first photo, it seems Mau (level 3) or Sphynx (level 3) are the best choices, but the second photo proves they are too dark/pink. Korat and Chartreux are better matches.

Allow me to decode this arm mess for you: The different cat names (Ocicat, Siamese, Sphynx, Mau, Persian, Chartreux, and Korat) refer to the different color families. The numbers (2 and 3) refer to the shades (from 0 to 6, with 6 being the darkest), while Purr and Pam refer to the two different formulas (Purrfect and Pampered). Pampered offers a little more coverage than Purrfect, but also contains an additional ingredient (Zinc Oxide). All Meow Foundations are buildable.

On the Meow website, and elsewhere online, the shades have zee sexy names: 0 - Inquisitive, 1 - Sleek, 2 - Frisky, 3 - Naughty, 4 - Fierce, 5 - Slinky, and 6 - Independent. This is also confusing as fuck, so for the sake of puny brain mush, I went with the numbers in the photos.

Meow Cosmetics - Mineral Foundation Swatches :: Indoor LightMeow Cosmetics - Mineral Foundation Swatches :: Indoor Light (blended)

These photos were taken with indoor lighting. The first is almost strictly artificial light, while the second was taken near a window after I blended my arm dots with a fluffy brush. These are all the shades shown in the photos (from top to bottom, left to right):

2-Frisky Chartreux / concealer - peach/yellow
Top Cat / finishing powder - no pigment
2-Frisky Ocicat / purrfect - olive
3-Naughty Ocicat / purrfect - olive
2-Frisky Siamese / purrfect - neutral
2-Frisky Sphynx / purrfect - beige/pink/peach
2-Frisky Sphynx / pampered - beige/pink/peach
3-Naughty Sphynx / purrfect - beige/pink/peach
3-Naughty Mau / purrfect - warm
2-Frisky Persian / purrfect - peach
2-Frisky Chartreux / purrfect - peach/yellow
2-Frisky Chartreux / pampered - peach/yellow
3-Naughty Chartreux / purrfect - peach/yellow
3-Naughty Chartreux / pampered - peach/yellow
2-Frisky Korat / purrfect - golden yellow
2-Frisky Korat / pampered - golden yellow
3-Naughty Korat / purrfect - golden yellow
3-Naughty Korat / pampered - golden yellow

Overall, Sphynx and Mau were too pink (and dark), Persian and Siamese were too light in the level I got (so who the hell knows), and Ocicat was too yellow. Korat is a touch more yellow than Chartreux and could be used in a pinch, but Chartreux (as I suspected) was the winner. It's slightly yellowish undertone would be good for balancing out the redness in my mottled face.

I'll be doing a proper "Acne Experiment" review of this makeup at a later date, but for now, oggle my sexy arm dots.

Meow Minerals Swatches :: Crappy Candle

PS: For those that are curious, I describe myself as having light to medium olive toned skin. I believe I have yellow, pink, peach, and sometimes greenish undertones. This is confusing as fuck. Sometimes it's easier to just say my undertones are neutral.

The Nars foundation in the top photo is "Santa Fe" (it's my current liquid foundation). I wore "medium beige" in Bare Minerals. I believe I matched for "beige neutral" (aka "medium 4N") and "Olive 1.5" or "Olive 2" in Alima Pure. I'll never know for certain about my shades in EM or Alima because I gave those samples away in a fit of acne rage long ago. I gave them away so violently, guys.

Natural Foundation :: Meow Minerals Swatches


October Horror Movie Month 2014 In Review

October Horror Movie Month 2014 in Review :: Crappy Candle
October Horror Movie Month (OHMM) is when we spend the month of October watching horror. These are my viewings for 2014.

The Frighteners (1996)
Fun, light, and gooey, The Frighteners never disappoints.

Devil (2010)
I told Greg that I wanted to watch the elevator movie on Netflix because I thought it was supposed to be good? It has snozzberries in it and, oops, I thought that guy was Tom Hardy all this time? As far as elevator movies go, it was meh. Needs more Keanu.

The Conjuring (2013)
It's one of the top rated new horror movies on Netflix, which is not too impressive considering that the genre is so turd-saturated. Nonetheless, The Conjuring was suspenseful and engaging, and I recommend it.

Deliver Us from Evil (2014)
Another top-rated new movie that is along the same lines as The Conjuring, what with the possession and all. It's pretty creepy, our leads are way too pretty, and I'm pretty sure this is the most accurate portrayal of Joel McHale ever committed to screen.

Insidious (2010)
The cover makes it look like we'd be dealing with an Omen type situation, but it was not at all Omen-y. I only caught the last half, but I think I got the best parts. I'm really happy Lin Shaye is finding work where she's not playing a disgusting old hag.

They Live (1988)
Greg and I tried to watch this last year. We gave up 3/4 of the way through because it's so fucking terrible (sorry They Live fans, your movie looks like it fell in the cheese dip back in 1957). I'm happy to report, however, we made it all the way through this year. Ultimately, that ridiculously extended Roddy Piper/Keith David fight scene was what won me over.

Halloween (1978)
Jamie Lee Curtis is a much more responsible, level-headed baby sitter than I'd ever be. I wonder why she's never cast as a mom.

That Stripping Scene from True Lies
My mom walked by my open door while I was watching this and I pretended like I was cleaning my belly button.

Thinner (1996)
More movies should make their special effects makeup from raw chicken cutlets, jello, and olive oil. More movies should cast Michael Constantine not too scary and kind of lovable villain. More movies should take place in Maine.

Scream (1996)
Dear 13 year old me: Skeet Ulrich is obviously a disgusting, STD-riddled, sleazy murderer/date rapist. You can do better honey.

Beetlejuice (1988)
It angers me that Winona Ryder is referred to as "that little girl," because I've always assumed she was at least 20 in this movie.

The Last Quarter of Poltergeist (1982)
Tangina must not be a very good clairvoyant because she says "This house is clean" and it so obviously is not clean. It's not clean Tangina. We've got a mud-skeleton pit, Falcor-spider, and a pulsating wormhole left here.  Lies. Lies.

It (1990)
Really scary for a 10 year old. Not so scary for a grumpy 31 year old. (Greg was not impressed.)

A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge (1985)
Casting Call: Young man, Age 16-20. Sandy blonde hair. Classic, all-American kid with a boy-next-door-charm. Will be in that St. Elmo's Fire movie. First name Andrew, last name McCarthy. 
Revised Casting Call: Young man, Age whatever. blondish. Classic, non-threatening kid with paunchy body. (we can't afford Andrew McCarthy).

Candyman (1992)
Agent Scully is so beautiful.

Various X-Files Episodes (timeless)
The X-Files is responsible for 90% of my 2014 night terrors.

Various Dark Matters Episodes (2011)
If you haven't watched this series, I highly recommend it. It's on the Science Channel and is narrated by John Noble who has a really deep, haunting voice. It's about the weird science experiments and happenings that have occurred over history. It involves a lot of radiation poisoning and and other fuck-ups with horrifying consequences.

Tremors (1990)
Kevin Bacon, crap he's taken, your hair's so thickly straight. With piggish nose and crumpled smile, let's eat you off a plate.

Freddy vs Jason (2003)
Congratulations, filmmakers. You took my two least favorite horror villains, put them in a movie together, then shot them into space.

Jason X (2001)
The space part was from Jason X. Congratulations, filmmakers. You made me think Freddy vs Jason and Jason X are the same movie.


Tea Tree Oil Review - The Acne Experiment

Tea Tree Oil Review :: The Acne Experiment
All Images © Crappy Candle / The Acne Experiment

I didn't abandon you, my pimpled brethren. I'm finally posting a review on a home remedy acne tradition: Tea Tree Oil. I'm truly sorry it took me so long to do a new Acne Experiment review, but I've been a bit of a mess. I tested out the Tea Tree Oil, then went to New York, tested out Meow Cosmetics (mineral makeup) + the Jane Iredale Makeup Mitt, drank a lot of alcohol, ate a ton of bagels, then came home.

My face must be sensitive to alcohol, mineral makeup, Brooklyn, chipichipi weather, stale subway air, and/or stinky airplanes*, because I broke out halfway through the trip. I really don't want it to be the makeup, because I like the idea of something so simple, so I'm going to test it out later on without the other variables.** A "Meow Cosmetics Swatch Post" is coming soon though (is done! go here to see it.)

After my initial Tea Tree Oil test, I planned to continue with it, then post a picture after 4 or so weeks of use. After some initial improvements post-Dr. Bronners, I added some makeup/travel/illness to the mix (I'm shrugging off a cold right now) and made my skin a bit of a mess. Posting new photos of that mess would not be fair to the Tea Tree Oil, so I've decided to only to post the first 2 weeks' before/after.

For this test, I developed a clever delivery method that is not nearly as clever as I like to think it is: I do the Aztec Healing Clay Mask and add a few drops of Tea Tree Oil. I then ignore the warning on the back of the bottle and use undiluted Tea Tree Oil on problem areas.*** It gives me a nice, crisp, pine-scented mint-face.

Tea Tree Oil Dropper :: Crappy Candle
Tea Tree Dropper
  • Tea Tree Oil (TJoes)
  • Aztec Healing Clay
  • Raw, Unfiltered, Organic Apple Cider (TJoes)
  • Water
  1. Dilute Tea Tree Oil in a dropper bottle at about a 1:10 (oil:water) ratio. 
  2. Mix 1 Tbsp clay + 3/4 Tbsp ACV + a half dropper-full of diluted Tea Tree Oil + enough water to get the texture/thickness right.
  3. Apply to face, concentrating on problem areas.
  4. Leave on for 5-25 minutes. (If my skin is really dry on any given day, I wear it for less time or skip the mask that day.)
  5. Use a wash cloth to gently remove mask. Dry face.
  6. Apply straight-up Tea Tree Oil to zits with a q-tip, as a spot treatment.
Tea Tree Oil and Acne :: Crappy Candle
Ever the skeptic.
I had a lot of redness and irritation (re: zits) following the 3 days I used Dr. Bronner's so most of the two weeks was spent repairing that damage.

The good news is - yay - Tea Tree Oil does not break me out. It is a good alternative to traditional salicylic or benzoyl peroxide spot treatments because it's dries the area out, plus acts as a natural antiseptic. Unlike salicylic acid, however, Tea Tree Oil is not a BHA; it doesn't get down into pores in the same way salicylic acid does. Tea Tree Oil is more of a surface level antibacterial situation.

I've been using the mask + Tea Tree Oil 5-6 night per week for the last month and a half. It's not an ideal solution because it is so labor intensive, so I'm going to continue testing out different stuff. Ideally, I'd like to get the mask down to 1-2 nights per week as a supplement to a more regular daily routine. I anticipate using the Tea Tree spot treatment heavily.

Tea Tree Oil for Acne Before and After :: The Acne Experiment
Week 6 = After Dr. Bronner's Test; Week 7 = After 1 week of Tea Tree + Clay Mask; Week 8 = After 2 weeks of Tea Tree + Clay Mask

Tea Tree Oil Before and After :: The Acne Experiment
Tea Tree Oil Before and After
Next Up:
Jojoba Oil


*The flight from Long Beach, CA to New York was the most butt stinky experience of my life. I inhaled a consistent stream of butt, which emanated from an unidentified passenger, for 5 solid hours. They probably couldn't help it, but hot-butt-damn it was awful.

**I'm going to test Meow Cosmetics by putting it on and not leaving the house. Perhaps I'll paint myself like one of your French girls.

***You're not supposed to used undiluted Tea Tree Oil on facial skin, but I tolerated it just fine as a spot treatment. I recommend trying it out diluted first, then amp up the concentration once you're sure you can handle it. I wouldn't put it undiluted all over the face though, you nut.

How to Use Tea Tree Oil for Acne :: The Acne Experiment
How to Use Tea Tree Oil for Acne :: The Acne Experiment


The Passive Aggressive Guide to Self Promotion Online

Guide to Online Self Promotion :: Crappy Candle

No one’s going to see that thing you made if you don’t share it, silly.

  1. Post it on social media and say it’s totally okay if no one wants to look at it. It’s garbage anyway.
  2. Post it on Twitter, then delete it after an hour. If your followers didn’t see it when it was up, they probably hate you.
  3. Post small, partial screenshot of the the thing you made on Instagram. Offer no explanation.
  4. Tell everyone you’re pregnant on Facebook. Leave a link to the thing you made 5 comments in. Tell everyone you’re not pregnant 15 comments in.
  5. Ask your mom to share it with your aunt.
  6. Share everyone else’s stuff and hope they will do the same for you. Get angry and block people when they don’t.
  7. Call an old friend while they’re at work and leave a long rambling voicemail. Talk about life and sandwiches, how you saw that mean guy you went to school with at the Target, but it’s okay because his neck has gotten really fat. Ask how Waffles the cat is, how their job is, and how their parents are doing, and when you finally get to that thing you made, the—BEEP
  8. Print out the thing you made and send it to your grandma.
  9. Print the URL, roll it into a joint and smoke it. 
  10. Post it on Google+.


NYX Matte Lipstick = Cheap Thrills

NYX Matte Lipstick = Cheap Thrills :: Crappy Candle

I was introduced to the cheap joy that is NYX's Matte Lipstick line about 3 months ago. They retail for about $6, but if you get them during an Ulta sale, they are closer to $4 each. It decided would be fun to pick up a few tubes, then test them out at SDCC 2014. So I did. I'm adding a lot of photos to this post as penance for taking 3 months to put it together.

NYX Aria :: Crappy Candle NYX Aria Swatch :: Crappy Candle
NYX Matte Lipstick in Aria

NYX Matte in Pure Red - Bright Red Lipstick NYX Pure Red Swatch :: Crappy Candle
 NYX Matte Lipstick in Pure Red

NYX Matte in Bloody Mary - Bright Reddish Pink Lipstick NYX Bloody Mary Swatch :: Crappy Candle
NYX Matte Lipstick in Bloody Mary

For SDCC, we were lucky enough to stay at the Hyatt in Downtown (I lost a lot of sleep fretting about the hotel lottery, fyi). The view was fancy fantastic and all, but I was more excited about the bathroom mirror. Halo style LED lighted mirrors are my new favorite thing. Bloody Mary and Pure Red were done with the aid of that mirror, thus producing the best selfies I've ever taken. They're headshot quality. I can actually feel myself turning into an Emma Stone.

NYX Aria Lip Staining
Aria "stain" after removal
The pigmentation of the lipstick was excellent considering how cheap they were. It was not quite as matte as I prefer, and not quite as pigmented as Nars, but Nars is $24. That's at least 3 Chipotle burritos. If you're looking to dabble in bright lipstick, NYX is the brand to try first.

Pure Red is exactly what it sounds like: a bright red that works with a range of skin tones. Bloody Mary is bright reddish-pink that is a nice, less in-your-face alternative to straight up red. Aria is a bright purple/fuchsia with blue undertones. I find it to be less wearable than the other two (it seemed shinier or something), but it was the most unique color in the mix. I also discovered that Aria had stained my lips a pretty pink color after I removed it.

Oh, right. There are four lipstick tubes in the main image up top. Thanks for trying to help, guys, but I've already posted four photos. Really. I've already got it covered. You're being ridiculous. I don't know why you're being such a stickler about this particular issue. Use your imagination, for fuck's sake.

FINE. Here's the last one:

NYX Matte in Indie Flick - Bright Coral Lipstick NYX Indie Flick Swatch :: Crappy Candle
NYX Matte Lipstick in Indie Flick

I took this photo a few days ago without the benefit of Hyatt halo lighting. If you see the un-cropped image, which you won't, I've got some fucked-off Beyonce baby bangs going on too.

Oh, you want to see it? Uh-uh. No. Ain't gonna happen. I'm not providing a visual for all you lazy harlots. Use your imagination, for fuck's sake.

FINE. I'm posting as penance for the three fucks I dropped:

Dropping Fucks Since 1983
Look at all the fucks I drop.

I did not like Indie Flick. I tried it at SDCC and immediately wiped it off because it looked like curdled orange milk. Lighter lipsticks frighten me because they make me feel like a clown; I find that if the pigmentation isn't high quality, the color can go on in a kind of chunky, separated, and uneven way. I wanted to like Indie Flick, but it didn't melt into my lips like my preferred lip products do. It kind of congealed on top of them.

NYX Swatches: Pure Red, Bloody Mary, Aria, Indie Flick

For fun comparisons, I also swatched the Nars lipsticks I have alongside the NYX guys. Do not be fooled by how close Indie Flick dupes Red Square. Red Square is a superior product in terms of pigmentation and application, and totally worth the expense.

I also threw in an NYX Butter Lip Balm swatch as it's my favorite purse tube at the moment.

NYX Butter Lip Balm in Red Velvet NYX vs Nars Lipstick Swatches
NYX vs Nars Swatches: Pure Red, Bloody Mary, Aria, Indie Flick, Cruella, Fire Down Below, Train Bleu, Red Square, Red Velvet

Happy lippings, my little harlots.

NYX Matte Lipstick - Aria, Bloody Mary, Pure Red, Indie Flick :: Crappy Candle


10 Reasons Why the Bathroom is the Scariest Room in the House

10 Reasons Why the Bathroom is the Scariest Room in the House

  1. you're usually alone
  2. you're often naked and vulnerable
  3. it is the one room in the house where it is acceptable to have a lack windows or adequate emergency exits
  4. said lack of windows = potential for pitch black horror horror oh the horror
  5. toilets = a pipeline to unlimited sewer gremlins that will bite your butt
  6. mirrors = a gateway to hell
  7. showers and face washings force you to close your eyes for periods of time
  8. showers are humid, claustrophobia-inducing closets with great potential for "accidental" neck breaking
  9. running water provides the perfect white noise for masking poltergeists
  10. sometimes spiders crawl back up the drain
I wrote this immediately after showering immediately after watching The Conjuring.

Happy Halloween


Dr. Bronner's Review - The Acne Experiment

Dr. Bronner's Baby Mild Review :: The Acne Experiment
All Images © Crappy Candle / The Acne Experiment

Dr. Bronner's is known equally for its purity as it is for the nonsensical cult-y stuff written on every bottle. It's sold in both bar and liquid form, but is most frequently used as a liquid. In the bottle, it looks like a diluted version of transparent face wash or hand soap, but in reality it's a completely different product.

Dr. Bronner's is distinct from other liquid cleansers because it is pure castile soap. What this means is that it is made of "saponified" plant-based fats and oils (fatty acids), whereas most liquid face washes are made from synthetic detergents. Without those synthetic detergents, face wash does not have its trademark soapy suds.

This idea of synthetic vs natural is a big reason why a lot of people opt for real soap. Most face washes contain synthetic detergents called "sulfates" are thought to be triggers for a whole host of skin disorders including psoriasis, perioral dermatitis (POD), acne, eczema, and even canker sores (sulfates are in toothpaste too).

While I do not think sulfates trigger my specific kind of acne, I do think it is has something to do with a different skin condition: the fine rash I've had on my chin for almost two years. When it comes to conventional medicine, Perioral Dermatitis does not come with many treatment options. POD is often treated with antibiotics, but after the infamous ass-zit incident, I will never go near them again.

Yes, it is embarrassing to share this with the world, but it would be hard to explain what I learned and how I Iearned it without sharing this humiliating history.*

In an attempt to fix my lumpen POD chin without conventional medicine, I went sulfate free with my skin, mouth, and hair products. When I started The Acne Experiment, I found some articles touting Dr. Bronner's soap as a good face wash for keeping POD, and acne, in check. I'm ready to start living the rest of my life. Inside everyone is a loser afraid to be loved, and out there is that one product that can make it all better.**

  • Dr. Bronner's Unscented Baby Mild Soap (Water, Organic Coconut Oil, Potassium Hydroxide, Organic Olive Oil, Organic Hemp Oil, Organic Jojoba Oil, Citric Acid, Tocopherol)
  1. Rinse face with water
  2. Take 3-4 drops of Dr. Bronner's and lather all over wet face.
  3. Rinse face with water.
  4. Dry face lightly via towel-dabbling, like they do in face wash commercials.
  5. Repeat once per day in the evenings.
For the first few days, I was surprised by how soft my skin was. It didn't feel tight or dry, which is what I expected based on the face-wash lobby's propaganda that natural soap is more irritating than synthetic detergents.

On the morning of day 4, I discover some redness, but I ignore it. My face's soul-mate couldn't possibly be doing this to me. By the afternoon, I confirm that there are little bumps all over my forehead. This experiment is over. (*runs into the bathroom, hysterically crying*)

Dr Bronner's and Acne :: Crappy Candle
this is bullshit.

Okay, maybe the face-wash lobby was onto something here. Soap on its own is very alkaline (basic), but Dr. Bronner's soap's pH level is brought down to a more neutral state by the addition of citric acid. Unfortunately, the face's natural state is not neutral; it is acidic. I messed with the pH of my skin and then exposed it to potentially pore-clogging oils (coconut and olive oil are very pore cloggy). This means that, no--I'm sorry--I'm not trying that bar of African Black Soap I bought a few weeks ago. It's a shame because African Black Soap was totally my back-up plan.***

I switched back to the Aztec Healing Clay/ACV for the remainder of the week. I'm going to keep using it until my skin calms down.

Dr. Bronners for POD/Acne Before and After :: The Acne Experiment
Dr. Bronner's Before and After

Dr. Bronners Before and After :: The Acne Experiment
    You'll notice I have a ripe zit on my cheek in the upper right photo. Cheek zits = danger (I almost never get cheek acne).

PS: Before anyone tries to tell me my face was "purging," let me say this: Purging is a load of crap. Even if I discount my gut feeling, i.e. allowing my skin to "get worse before it gets better" is inherently sadistic, I've learned that it actually is a load of crap.

Well, except for purging related to AHA/BHA or retinol use, which will only result in distinct non-inflamed "purging" in the areas you normally break out in. The angry zits that pop up after using normal oils, soaps, and serums are essentially your face telling you to knock it off; breakouts in non-normal areas, or pimples that re-occur more than two months following the introduction of any product means your skin doesn't like a specific ingredient. So quit being a bunch of sadists, sadists.

Next Up: Tea Tree Oil


*/**Parts of this monologue may or may not have been lifted from Never Been Kissed.

***We told each other we would meet at the top of the Empire State Building when we turned 32 if we were still unattached.

Does Dr. Bronner's Cure Acne? :: The Acne Experiment
Does Dr. Bronner's Cure Acne? :: The Acne Experiment


Bossypants - Book Reviews 2014

Bossypants - Book Reviews 2014 :: Crappy Candle

I had the most productive day of my life on Sunday. I completed a proofing assignment, I put time in with my normal day job, I wrote a blog post, and I finished reading Tina Fey's Bossypants. I am the king of this bed-desk. One might even say that I'm the Tina Fey of 31 year olds that live with their parents in the suburbs and have a meltdown every time they have to leave the house.

I'm not sure why it took me 4 years to finally pick up this book. I take that back, it's because I suck at reading. If I had a crystal ball, I'd know that I would build up enough momentum getting through Beloved to slip through Bossypants like one of those sea cucumber toys through the poorly-coordinated hands of a child. If I had it to do over, I would do it exactly like this. Reading Beloved made me feel like an stoic robot with sausages for hands and reading Bossypants made me feel like I could have a non-meltdown house outing and use awkward metaphors consistently. The Beloved-Bossypants punch is a confidence building exercise that I cannot recommend highly enough.

And what of the book? I will freely and shamelessly admit that Bossypants is the second memoir I have ever read. The first was Mindy Kaling's Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me (and Other Concerns), which while quite lovely, had a really long title that lazy sausage hands have problems typing. There will be some similarities between the two books because both authors are highly successful female comedy writers/actresses whom have lived in New York. If you've seen one, you've seen them all. All "funny women" are equally non-funny, afterall.

Gender and comedy aside -- because that's a whole 'nother issue amirite guys -- Fey's and Kaling's books share a similar sarcastic/self deprecating/crass tone that make both books delightful and personable. Fey's book pulls out ahead of Kaling's because she makes the reader simultaneously feel like an equal and a loser at life. Like maybe Tina Fey would hate you if she met you. She brings you into her world, shows you how real and normal she is, but then reminds you she's Tina Fey.

Tina Fey is an intimidating woman, not only because of her intelligence and life achievements, but because she is not a sugar coater. I think of how both Tina Fey and Amy Poehler handled that Taylor Swift "There's A Special Place in Hell" debacle, and remember the key difference between the two woman: Amy Poehler would pet your head and feed you ice cream while sob about a hang nail, and Tina Fey would slap your face* and tell you to get the fuck over it.

Bossypants is a reminder of Fey's rawness. She not going to butter up terrible celebrities or terrible politicians, she will punt chauvinistic men to the moon, and you kids need to sack up, because it's a tough world out there, babies.

Tina Fey on Children and Parenting :: Bossypants Review

It's this same lack of pretense and unfiltered honesty that allows the reader to connect with Tina Fey in a real, mind-meld-y kind of way. For example:

Giant Back Zit :: Tina Fey - Bossypants
I made a similar bargain, but I was 27 at the time.
And this:

Ball of Fingers :: Tina Fey - Bossypants
It's a palpable fear for any woman over the age of 30.

I'll take it one further: I'm certain Tina Fey would want to take me on as her stoic robot mentee if she ever met me in real life because we are so similar. We both have brown hair. We both are part German and part Mediterraneanish. We both think Improv is a cult. We both want more ugly people on TV. We have the same sunglasses... Replace my love of dogs with her love of human dogs children, and we are the same.

This is the beauty of Bossypants. Tina Fey succeeds in making the reader feel like a friend. Comedy isn't good unless the audience has a connection to it, and Tina Fey is remarkably human. The fervor of her spirit and the eloquence of her words will echo in our collective subconscious for years to come.

Bossypants Word Collage :: Tina Feyisms

So were all the jokes hits? No. Some were predictable, perhaps even not funny.** Bossypants is not a perfect book, but I wasn't expecting perfection. I was expecting a light read, in true Tina Fey fashion, that would allow for some audible chortling from time to time. That's exactly what I got.
Optimal Reading Situation: At your bed-desk, in a body you have not washed in 36 hours.
Optimal Reading Snack: An entire Costco-sized box of snack bags of Pirates Booty.
Optimal Reading Followup: Buy one of those sea cucumbers for yourself. You're worth it.

*Yeah, maybe she won't slap you, but I'm certain her words would feel like metaphorical slap to stupid whining face.

**If you find me dead tomorrow, know that I was struck down by Tina Fey, God of Thunder.

This review is from my Summer Book Club series. 


Aztec Healing Clay Mask Review - The Acne Experiment

Aztec Healing Clay Mask Review :: The Acne Experiment
All Images © Crappy Candle / The Acne Experiment

I started phase 2 of the Acne Experiment with an old standby: Aztec Healing Clay. Ahem, I mean Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay. I assume the "secret" part is that it's essentially dirt, and the joke's on you for being clueless all these years because this shit is super cheap. Up yours, virtually every other clay mask on the market.

I've used Aztec Healing Clay before, but this time around I opted for a slightly different (ie milder) method to avoid excessive face dryness and irritation.

  • Bentonite Clay (Aztec Healing Clay is 100% Bentonite)
  • Raw, Unfiltered, Organic Apple Cider Vinegar aka "ACV" (TJoes)
  • Water

  1. Rinse face with water, pat dry.
  2. Mix 1 Tbsp clay + ~3/4 Tbsp ACV + ~1/4 Tbsp water in a glass or plastic bowl.
  3. Apply to face.
  4. Wait for magic to happen.

Aztec Healing Clay Mask Applied :: The Acne Experiment

Letting the Clay Mask Dry :: The Acne Experiment

Clay Mask Dried Up :: The Acne Experiment

Clay Mask Sucking Out My Life Energy :: The Acne Experiment

Clay Mask Depositing New Life Energy :: The Acne Experiment

aw yes

itsa hard knock life for us

hardly ask the wife for much

steada missus we get this

whata little swiddly tit

itsa a hard knock life

Loads of FUN. I got to put mud pies on my face and it was divine. My acne is gone. My scars are gone. My hyper-pigmentation is gone. My skin is gone. Peeled right off like 10 day old nail polish.

Aztec Healing Clay Mask Before and After :: The Acne Experiment
Week 0 = before The Acne Experiment ; Week 4 = after the "No Face Wash" month ; Week 5 = After 1 week of Clay Masks

Sorry to disappoint. This was a one week experiment. Nothing gets rid of skin problems that fast unless you lose your sight in a one week long degenerative eye disease. I did see note some improvements on my chin and forehead though. It was subtle, and probably something only I would notice.

Aztec Healing Clay Mask Before and After :: The Acne Experiment
It made my lips softer and more pigmented too!
I'm such a dick. It's lip balm.

In the past, I have mixed this mask with only ACV and left it on for 45 minutes. This left my skin a little dry, so I opted for a shorter application time (20 minutes) and diluted formula (~ 1:4 ratio of water to ACV). I did not feel dried out after using it this way. I also discovered that a warm washcloth is very helpful for getting the mask off. I'm not sure why it took me 30 years to discover washclothes. They are my favorite beauty product of 2014.

I'm still not using any face wash (the "Ingredients" above are the only thing that touched my face this week besides my clammy hands and sweaty bangs). While I don't feel like I need to wash my face while using the mask, I will need something when I start wearing makeup again, and it pains my lazy sensibilities to put a mask on every night. As fun as it is to avoid facial expressions* and speak through my teeth for 20 minutes, I don't particularly want to deal with it while traveling either. I'm trying a straight up, portable soap next. Wish me luck.

Next Up:
Dr. Bronner's Baby Mild Pure Castile Soap


*The facial expressions I used in the photos above were incredibly painful, and I think I burst a blood vessel in my eye. Do not do this unless you are a professional.

Aztec Healing Clay Mask for Acne :: Crappy Candle

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