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1.10.2016

Paula's Choice Glycolic Acid Review - The Acne Experiment

Paula's Choice Glycolic Acid Review - The Acne Experiment
All Images © Crappy Candle / The Acne Experiment

How was everyone's holiday season? Busy? Fragrant? Bloated? I can't complain – mine was uneventful and completely devoid of drama. Any family gathering that doesn't result in drunk crying or boisterous political discussions (same thing, really) is a win in my book. Plus, I watched Making a Murderer and half of Breaking Bad in like a week. yo.

I'll get down to it. We're here to talk about the superstar of exfoliants: glycolic acid. Immediately before I started The Acne Experiment, I was using Devita's Glycolic Acid. I was happy with how smooth it made my face, but I was still experiencing breakouts. I worked through a few other exfoliant options first: salicylic acid and lactic acid have been knocked down and kicked the eff out. Bring on the main course.

Glycolic acid is an AHA or alpha hydroxy acid, which means it is water soluble and works on the surface of the skin (rather than down in the pores like BHAs). Glycolic is considered the most potent of the AHAs available because it has the smallest molecule size. It can be more effective at exfoliating, but it also has the potential cause more irritation. For regular or daily use, glycolic in the 5-10% range is aces.

My enthusiasm for Paula's Choice has been well documented despite my inability to find any PC products that are actually compatible with my skin. I ordered a handful of the Skin Perfecting 8% AHA Gel Exfoliant samples and tested it for a few weeks with high hopes. After a few weeks, I ordered a full-sized bottle with even higher hopes. I tested it for 2 months.

Ingredients:
  • Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 8% AHA Gel Exfoliant - once daily or 2-3 times per week - Water, Glycolic Acid, Sodium Hydroxide, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Camellia Oleifera (Green Tea) Leaf Extract, Sodium Hyaluronate, Panthenol, Sodium PCA, Propylene Glycol, Butylene Glycol, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Polyquaternium-10, Phenoxyethanol, Sodium Benzoate
  • Spot Treatments as needed (salicylic acid (this) on active acne + Manuka Honey (this) on self-inflicted wounds. WTF is wrong with me.)
Method:
  1. Wash yo face yo.
  2. Let it dry..
  3. Apply some of the glycolic acid gel on yo face, avoiding yo eyes. Like one pump is good.
  4. Wait at 10-20 minutes for the glycolic to work.
  5. You can leave it on after the 20 minutes, or wash it off if yo skin is sensitive.
  6. The glycolic will like munch through dead skin.
  7. If you aint down with skin munch, like if yo face burns, it ain't for you, yo. Wash that shit off pronto.
Conclusions:

For the first few weeks, my everything was going great. My skin was smooth, my existing spots seemed to be flattening. The full sized bottle was really pretty and effective looking. I was ready for this. A winner. I jumped with both feet and fell in love.

Okay maybe I didn't.

When I initially discovered my skin was getting worse after it got better, I cut back to every-other-day application. When my skin still wasn't improving, I cut back to once-every-three days application. I tested for two months, and motherpussbucket. This blows.

Paula's Choice Glycolic Acid Before & After - The Acne Experiment
Paula's Choice Glycolic Acid Before & After :: The Acne Experiment

Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 8% AHA Gel Exfoliant Before & After :: The Acne Experiment

My forehead saw marginal improvements, but also new acne. My chin is exactly the same because I didn't put anything on it (POD is a PITA*).

The thing is, my skin really did improve in the beginning. I think a once a week or once every two week exfoliant could be effective as an anti-ager, but I don't think it will treat the acne. Paula's Choice also has a more potent weekly AHA. I plan to test it out once my skin is actually clear. :|

Next Up: Garden of Wisdom Mandelic Acid

--

*POD = Perioral Dermatitis; PITA = pain in the ass

PS:  This is my Paula's Choice refer-a-friend link which gets new customers $10 off their first order. I always leave this link on PC reviews, regardless of whether it worked for me because I know it does work for others. PC is also one of the few companies that actually sells samples and trial sizes individually. It's a tester's paradise, I tells ya.

PPS: If this AHA/exfoliant business is confusing, check out my chemical exfoliants guide.


Paula's Choice Glycolic Acid Review :: The Acne Experiment
Paula's Choice Glycolic Acid Review :: The Acne Experiment

11.23.2015

At Least 10 Super Crappy White Elephant Gifts 2015

At Least 10 Super Crappy White Elephant Gifts 2015 :: Crappy Candle

Tis the season for giving really crappy white elephant gifts to friends and loved ones. What better way to show how much you care than to give something that is disgusting, dumb, or just plain mean. Keep in mind, however, that what separates a fantastic white elephant gift from a run-of-the-mill bad present is a silver lining of beauty:
☞  Impractical, but hilarious.
☞  Hilarious, but hideous.
☞  Hideous, but intriguing.
☞  Intriguing, but no really wtf is this shit.
I've collected 10+ shiny turds for your perusal.

1) Jeff Goldblum Jewelry

Jeff Goldblum Necklace :: Super Crappy White Elephant Gifts 2015

Take heart, his nipple has been cropped in.
Find him on Etsy

...and for those hoping for more topical Jeff, you can Enhance Your Lighting.

Jeff Goldblum Enhance Your Lighting Earrings :: Super Crappy White Elephant Gifts 2015



2) Booty Pop

Booty Pop :: Super Crappy White Elephant Gifts 2015
Show that special someone that you love them just the way they are, but you know you'd look so much better if you had a rounder butt.
Find it on Amazon



3) These creepy vintage dolls

Creep Vintage Dolls :: Super Crappy White Elephant Gifts 2015

Sneak one into a friend's bed while they're sleeping.
Find them on Etsy

...or just cram it into one of these boxes:
NapSack Box :: Super Crappy White Elephant Gifts 2015
Find this box on Amazon

4) This pig thing

Pig Boy Ceramic Pot :: Super Crappy White Elephant Gifts 2015

They say nightmares are bits of our daily experience cobbled together with our innermost thoughts and feelings. So, you know, succulents and child-faced pig monsters.
Find him on Etsy

5) Susan Boyle "The Gift"

Susan Boyle "The Gift" :: Super Crappy White Elephant Gifts 2015

Not only will you be gifting someone with this literal gift, The Gift also a Christmas album.
Find the gift on Amazon

6) Shark Onesie

Adult Shark Onesie :: At Least 10 Super Crappy White Elephant Gifts 2015

This is probably the most practical item on this list. You will find no snark here.
Find this at Nordstrom (the unicorn and Rudolph onesies look lovely as well)

7) This Rubber Chicken Bag
Rubber Chicken Bag :: Super Crappy White Elephant Gifts 2015
I seriously considered giving this to my mother-in-law. I bookmarked it 8 months ago (OMG wrap some McDonalds Chicken Nuggets inside. You will be KING of the gift exchange.)
Find her on Amazon

8) Not The Mama Shirt
Not The Mama Dinosaurs Shirt :: Super Crappy White Elephant Gifts 2015

At least once a week, I remember what a dick Baby Sinclair was. Perhaps someone at your gift exchange enjoys this ritual as well.
Find him on Amazon



9) Hairy chest sweatshirt

Oily, Hairy Chest Sweatshirt :: Super Crappy White Elephant Gifts 2015

Why imagine what it's like to be a well oiled machine when you could live it.
Find it on Firebox

10) IT'S GROOT

Baby Mandrake GROOT :: Super Crappy White Elephant Gifts 2015

I THINK
Find groot on Etsy

10) I'd really like to eat a child.

11) That is a name of a children's book. Here it is.

I'd Really Like to Eat a Child :: Super Crappy White Elephant Gifts 2015
Find it on Amazon

12) Fabio After Dark

Fabio After Dark :: At Least 10 Super Crappy White Elephant Gifts 2015

Fabio suddenly appears next to you, nuzzles his perfect bronzed face next to yours, and whispers, sensually: "I can't believe you're not hotter."
Find Fabio on Amazon

13) Double-sided Jonathan Taylor Thomas/Rider Strong Poster

Jonathan Taylor Thomas Poster :: Super Crappy White Elephant Gifts 2015Rider Strong Poster :: Super Crappy White Elephant Gifts 2015

So cute. So non-threatening.
Find your tweenage angst on Ebay

At Least 10 Super Crappy White Elephant Gifts 2015 :: Crappy Candle
At Least 10 Super Crappy White Elephant Gifts 2015 :: Crappy Candle

11.18.2015

Neutrogena Extra Gentle Cleanser Review - The Acne Experiment

Neutrogena Extra Gentle Cleanser - The Acne Experiment
All Images © Crappy Candle / The Acne Experiment

I've been a real slacker. It's been 3 months since my last Acne Experiment post and it may have looked like I abandoned this thing. I haven't. I have been diligently testing a few different products, taking hideous selfies, and contemplating the infinite vastness of the universe. One might say I fell into an existential funk. Another might say that I'm being a lazy whiney baby.

This is why I have to thank a few folks that stumbled upon this blog and then took the time to send me an email over the last few weeks. You guys make me a very happy acne blogger. You kicked my butt into gear.

The review I've been putting off is for Neutrogena's Extra Gentle Cleanser. There's not particular reason WHY I've been putting it off, aside from the fact that I tested it over two different periods of time – and, yeah, I know cleanser is boring. Like a bad writer, I waited for inspiration on how to jazz this thing up. Sometimes you gotta plow on through and flip the bird at the muse. I'm learning that "sometimes" is actually more like "all times."

This is my 3rd cleanser test, and first non-foaming cleanser test I've done. It's an important one because it could confirm or deny my theory that foaming cleanser gives me nasty chin zits.

Ingredients:

  • Neutrogena Extra Gentle Cleanser - once daily (Purified Water, Glycerin, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Cetyl Ricinoleate, Isohexadecane, Tea-Cocoyl Glutamate, Methylglucose Sesquistearate, Stearyl Alcohol, Cetyl Alcohol, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, PEG-20 Methyl Glucose Sesquistearate, Bisabolol, Chamomile Extract, Tocopheryl Acetate, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Stearyl Glycyrrhetinate, Tetrasodium EDTA, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Triethanolamine, BHT, Geranium, Dipropylene Glycol, Phenoxyethanol, Propylparaben, Methylparaben)
  • Spot Treatments as needed (I use undiluted Tea Tree Oil (TJoes) and/or salicylic acid (this) on active acne + Manuka Honey (this) on spots that are healing)
Method:
  1. Wash face once daily with Neutrogena's Extra Gentle Cleanser. I alternated between applying it with just my hands and applying with a wet washcloth.
  2. Apply spot treatments, as needed.
  3. Avoid touching your face.
  4. Dude. What are you doing. Stop touching your face.
  5. Wonder whether the acne on your face actually is due to all the face touching you're doing.
  6. Curse your magnifying mirror.
  7. End the trial.
  8. Start it back up again a few months later when you don't trust the results.
  9. Ugh this fat zit is probably here because you can't stop drooling on yourself while you sleep.
  10. What is skin?
  11. No really, end the trial.
Conclusions:

This face wash trial was... entirely uneventful. I didn't see a big enough difference after either trial to tell whether washing my face with this stuff was doing anything. At the same time, I did not see the same insta-chin-zits that I've seen with foaming cleansers. MINOR VICTORY. *shoots confetti gun, but the confetti is damp for some reason and just sticks to everything in clumps*

Neutrogena Extra Gentle Cleanser Before & After :: The Acne Experiment
Neutrogena Extra Gentle Cleanser Before & After :: The Acne Experiment

Non-Foaming Cleanser Before & After :: The Acne Experiment
Non-Foaming Cleanser Before & After :: The Acne Experiment

Okay here's the bummer. It looks like I chose another product that is discontinued. I can't find it on Neutrogena's website or on Ulta, but it's still for sale on Amazon. Neutrogena has a different non-foaming cream cleanser (this) so perhaps I'll try it later on.

Here's bummer number 2: this cleanser contains castor oil which has a comedogenic rating of "1" - it's still pretty low, but it's not zero. It is fragrance free, so that's a plus.

Neutrogena Cleanser Before & After :: The Acne Experiment
Neutrogena Cleanser Before & After :: The Acne Experiment

Neutrogena Non-Foaming Cleanser Before & After :: The Acne Experiment
Neutrogena Non-Foaming Cleanser Before & After :: The Acne Experiment

My verdict? Soft pass. Using the cleanser too frequently was making me a wee bit greasy, so I cut back to washing with it every other day. Ultimately, I decided it wasn't necessarily better than water washing. (Hell, now that I'm looking at these pictures again, it might even be worse.) I am going to hold onto my bottle just in case I decide to wear a full face of makeup and want something more than a shammy to remove it all. Yes, I use a shammy to remove my makeup. I clean my face the same way your dad buffs his car.*


--

*Technically it's the Jane Iredale Magic Mitt, but eh, technically it's a shammy. To use, you get it wet and wipe your makeup off. It works remarkably well considering it only requires warm water. Also, you have to clean it after each use – facial cleanser cast-offs are perfect for this. If that smacks of effort, you can buy a few packs of cheaper shammies and wash 'em in the laundry. (These are the ones I've earmarked to buy if I ever go that route - They work out to about $6 per shammy, which is a helluva lot less than $15.)

PS: Hey-yo. There are way more cleanser types than non-foaming and foaming. 8 more to be exact. Find your match in my cleanser guide.

ALL Acne Experiment Posts are listed at The Acne Experiment MOTHER HUB.

Testing Non-Foaming Cleanser on Adult Acne :: The Acne Experiment
Testing Non-Foaming Cleanser on Adult Acne :: The Acne Experiment

9.29.2015

How to Age Gracefully

How to Age Gracefully :: Crappy Candle

You can have it all as long as you're real chill about it.  Here's how to age gracefully in 25 easy to follow steps:
  1. Decide you're going to age gracefully. (this is the hardest part)
  2. Just say no to all the hype and the nonsense.
  3. Throw out all your creams and serums.  Products have nothing to do with graceful aging.
  4. Exude love and confidence.
  5. I mean, you really need to understand love.  Like really, come on now.
  6. You love yourself?  Not good enough.  Love someone else for a change, you selfish bastard.
  7. Change your outlook, adjust your priorities, become a transcendent human being.
  8. Obtain some children.
  9. You can become an aunt, too.  Just be proximal to some kids.
  10. Don't let those kids suck out your life essence.
  11. Be one of those glowy moms, not a dried up raisin mom.
  12. Don't be a raisin aunt either.
  13. Are you confident yet?  Your children should make you feel like a superman.
  14. If the kids aren't doing it for you, get some new ones that appreciate you more.
  15. Make sure your skin is flawless.
  16. I guess you should have done that around step 2.  Go back to the beginning and start over.
  17. If you weren't born with excellent bone structure, you shouldn't even be reading this.
  18. Now, ease into your excellent bone structure and poreless skin.
  19. Don't covet other people's excellent bone structure or poreless skin, your excellent bone structure and poreless skin is perfect just the way it is!
  20. Hi Meryl.
  21. If you're not Meryl, that's okay.
  22. Make sure you've cultivated some kind of passion that you're really good at. 
  23. If you have this passion and you're like the best at it, you could maybe bypass some of this other crap.
  24. Money helps a lot.
  25. Become Helen Mirren.

9.12.2015

101 MORE Halloween Costumes for Women - Clever Girls Edition

101 MORE Halloween Costumes for Women - Clever Girls Edition
101 MORE Halloween Costumes for Women - Clever Girls Edition

Halloween is near, so I put together a fun lady-centric costume guide. If you want to be a cool girl, you'll want a cool girl costume. If you don't care whether you are a cool girl or not (because Amy Dunne did get some things right), then you probably still want a decent costume that is relatively warm/comfortable, maybe has pockets, and isn't identical to like 10 other people's costumes. If you are not a girl, by all means - pick through this guide and steal all my ideas. I can tell you with 95% certainty that I'm not doing anything for Halloween and I'd like to live vicariously through you all.

I've divided the guide up into 10 categories, you clever SOBs:

TV Shows
1) Michonne or Carol (The Walking Dead)
Michonne Costume :: 101 MORE Halloween Costumes for Women
Image: @Heather Paul via Flickr

CAROL. I can't handle it Carol.
Image: @William Tung via Flickr (CC)

2) Dana Scully (X Files)
X-Files Dana Scully Costume :: 101 MORE Halloween Costumes for Women
I think he's looking for his sister.
Image: @Sam Howzit via Flickr

3) The Belchers (Bob’s Burgers)
Bob's Burgers Costume :: 101 MORE Halloween Costumes for Women
Image: @istolethetv via Flickr

4) Orange is the New Black
OITNB Costume :: 101 MORE Halloween Costumes for Women
Image: @Michael Miller via Flickr

5) Troi or Dr. Crusher (Star Trek TNG)
Troi + Dr. Crusher Costume (Star Trek TNG) :: 101 MORE Halloween Costumes for Women
Image: via Flickr (CC)

6) Ms. Frizzle (Magic School Bus)
Image: @Michael Miller via Flickr

7) Jerri Blank (Strangers With Candy)
Jerri Blank Costume :: 101 MORE Halloween Costumes for Women
Image: @Jeff Tidwell via Flickr

8) Xena Warrior Princess
Xena Warrior Princess Costume :: 101 MORE Halloween Costumes for Women
Please take a moment to appreciate how perfect this cosplay is.
Image: @William Tung via Flickr

9) Log Lady (Twin Peaks)
Log Lady Costume :: 101 MORE Halloween Costumes for Women
Image: @artmouse via Flickr
  • If you don't want to carry around a real log, get stuffed.
10) Peggy (Mad Men)
Specifically...

11) Stephanie Tanner (Full House)
Stephanie Tanner Costume :: 101 MORE Halloween Costumes for Women
Image: via Amazon

12) Anything from The Venture Bros
Venture Bros Costume :: 101 MORE Halloween Costumes for Women
Image: @Mooshuu via Flickr

13) Elaine (Seinfeld)
Elaine Costume :: 101 MORE Halloween Costumes for Women
Image: via Amazon

Movies
14) A League of Their Own
A League of Their Own Costume :: 101 MORE Halloween Costumes for Women
  • Are you a Peach or a Belle
  • Please, for the love of all that is holy, someone dress up as a giant man-baby Stilwell.

15) Matilda
(Because Mara Wilson is a boss ass bitch IRL)

16) Annie Hall (Diane Keaton)
Annie Hall Costume :: 101 MORE Halloween Costumes for Women
Image: via Flickr

17) Phyllis Nefler (Troop Beverly Hills)
There are many options.

18) Margot Tenenbaum
Margot Tenenbaum Costume :: 101 MORE Halloween Costumes for Women
Image: @matt-annie via Flickr

19) Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton in Terminator)
Sarah Connor Costume :: 101 MORE Halloween Costumes for Women
Do you look like the mother of the future?
Image: via Amazon

20) Lydia Deetz (Beetlejuice)
Lydia Deetz Costume :: 101 MORE Halloween Costumes for Women
Yes I love that man of mine.
Image: @Gage Skidmore via Flickr

8.08.2015

Silk Naturals 8% AHA (Lactic Acid) Toner Review - The Acne Experiment

Silk Naturals 8% AHA (Lactic Acid) Toner - The Acne Experiment
All Images © Crappy Candle / The Acne Experiment

As promised, I've begun testing the first of multiple potential replacements for the now discontinued St. Ives Exfoliating Pads. I started with what I considered the closest dupe: Silk Naturals 8% AHA Toner. Plain 'ole lactic acid exfoliants are hard to come by, and Silk Naturals is one of two that I'm aware of. At about $9 Silk Naturals is actually cheaper than St. Ives (given the 4 oz bottle) - quite impressive considering how cheap St. Ives already was. Also, please note that "toner" is simply a liquid product that is applied and not washed off. In the case of Silk Naturals, "toner" and "exfoliant" are synonymous. 

I tested this stuff for a solid SIX WEEKS.


Ingredients:


Method:

  1. Wash face per usual. (I water wash)
  2. Treat the Silk Naturals like a squirt bottle - saturate a facial cotton of your choice.
  3. Special note: When you open the bottle, point it away from your eyes as it has a tendency to "spit." 
  4. Apply the exfoliant all over your face. Once daily is plenty.
  5. If you have POD (perioral dermatitis) on your chin, like I do, avoid applying anything below your cheekbones. 
  6. I repeat, avoid avoid avoid.
  7. Let it soak in/dry for a bit then apply spot treatments and/or whatever else you desire.

Conclusions:

Theraderm Application Pads - The Acne Experiment
Theraderm Application Pads
I tested Silk Naturals AHA for a month and a half because after nearly a year doing The Acne Experiment, I realize I may not be giving these actives long enough to do their thing. Actually, at the time of writing this, I am still using it. It's been two months and I'm only halfway through the 4 oz bottle. If I continue to use it once per day with a thin application pad (I use Theraderm*), I expect the product will last about 4 months.

The main ingredient in Silk Naturals AHA is lactic acid. If you're not hip to AHAs, know that lactic acid is the gentlest exfoliant available (it is gentler than glycolic acid); it is also very humectant (water attracting). As such, lactic acid is ideal for normal-to-dry skin and anti-aging purposes.

Here's the hot pics:

Silk Naturals 8% AHA Toner Before & After - The Acne Experiment
Silk Naturals 8% AHA Before & After :: The Acne Experiment

Lactic Acid Exfoliant Before & After - The Acne Experiment
Lactic Acid Before & After :: The Acne Experiment

I've got less spots on my cheeks, but more on my forehead. Bummer. The exfoliant proved to be a good maintenance product, but it didn't touch the hyperpigmentation. It doesn't do much to prevent clogged pores, but it did prevent a lot of those clogged pores from turning into nasty, inflamed SOBs on my cheeks. The toner also made my skin super smooth to the touch. 

POD note: After a few weeks, I figured out that lactic acid is terrible for perioral dermatitis. (Yes, it took me multiple weeks to figure this out. ooof.). I'm always careful to avoid applying products to my chin, but I (slowly) learned that if applied this exfoliant too close, the product will migrate to the trouble spots and flair it the hell up. If you have POD, give exfoliants a 1 inch buffer, at least. I apply it to my forehead & nose, and no lower than my cheekbones. If I did experience a flair-up, a Aztec Clay mask was a great calming treatment. I skip all other products when I do a clay mask, save for a little jojoba oil on my chin (if it looks dry) post-mask.

So, is Silk Naturals an adequate replacement for St. Ives Exfoliating Pads? Yes, I believe it is. Aside from an entirely justified POD flair up, I did not see a major difference in acne severity while using the toner. My skin does seem a bit greasier than it did when I was using St. Ives, however. This could be due to a higher concentration of lactic acid, the aloe in the product, or the fact that it's warm and humid where I live right now. That said, I have oily skin; I don't think Silk Naturals is too much for it, but my forehead is still proving to be a trouble zone. I plan to test out a few other exfoliants (glycolic, mandelic) to see which works best for me.

If you're interested in Silk Naturals, know that you can only order products via their website (they also sell samples weee). Shipping is cheap and fast, so no worries on that front.


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* Note on Theraderm pads: These are the thinnest "facial" pads I've seen. They rougher than plain cotton, but way thinner (they absorb/waste less product). Like normal cotton, you'll need to saturate the pad to be able to apply the product adequately; if you want to use less product, cut the pads in half. If you want to create a St. Ives pads situation, these particular pads would be ideal for pre-soaking. They fit perfectly in the St. Ives tub:

St. Ives Exfoliating Pads Alternative - The Acne Experiment
Yes this is a St. Ives tub. (The label peels right off!)

PS: I tested the Silk Naturals toner on my chest and back, and results were... let's just say I got really into Daryl Dixon tees this summer. If you know you handle lactic acid or other chemical exfoliants on your body, pull the trigger on this (it's so cheap!), but I can't say I recommend it from personal experience.

PPS: If this AHA/exfoliant business is confusing, check out my chemical exfoliants guide.

ALL Acne Experiment Posts are listed at The Acne Experiment MOTHER HUB.

Testing Lactic Acid on Adult Acne - The Acne Experiment
Testing Lactic Acid on Adult Acne :: The Acne Experiment