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How Pregnancy (and Parenthood) Ruined My Skin

pigtails pregnancy ruined my skin summer day indigo+canary

Hi guys. Remember me? The girl who used to have a little natural beauty blog? We had a pretty good thing going for a while, right? Well … surprise! I’m wading back into the water, and it’s feeling pretty great.

I have missed you all desperately, but it turns out that parenting a tiny human + working a pretty demanding full-time job + busting a move with a freelance side hustle + serving as a board member on a (fantastic) nonprofit organization called Circle de Luz has pushed Indigo + Canary down a few notches on the priority list. (PS: You must, must, must watch the video on the Circle de Luz site. I’m serious. In addition to featuring the story of one of Circle’s adorable participants, it also won an Emmy Award!)

However, a few of those things have changed: My tiny human is a little less tiny (although still pretty darn cute, I must say), I’m rotating off the nonprofit board now that my three-year term is complete (although I am still a volunteer and contributor — they can’t get rid of me!), and so I’ve got a little bit of hustle left. And Indigo + Canary is where I want to put it! Because, as it turns out, becoming a parent didn’t change a thing about my raging addiction to clean/natural/organic beauty products.

Just how did parenthood and pregnancy ruin my skin, exactly?

Sigh. Here’s my sad-but-true tale of skin woes, in chronological order:

  • Before pregnancy: A condition I have — polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) — made my skin pretty awful sometimes. People with PCOS often have out-of-control hormones, and I was no exception. It took a pretty regimented system to keep my skin from being a mess, but a combination of medications + thoughtful skincare products helped a lot. Unfortunately, I still had to deal with regular cystic acne, usually during my period. (Cystic acne is no joke.)
  • During pregnancy: My skin was perfect. My skin was flawless. My skin was freaking amazing. Pregnancy sort of “cures” PCOS, temporarily, and that was my experience. Some women experience terrible breakouts, discoloration, and other terrible things during pregnancy, but not me! (I did have other pregnancy complications, however, so I would not say I enjoyed being pregnant.)
  • After pregnancy: All was fine for a few months, but as more time went by, I started to notice my breakouts were getting more severe and more frequent.
  • Post-breastfeeding: By this point, forget about it. My skin was a mess. It was inflamed. I woke up to new blemishes every single day, and almost always had at least one or two cystic acne blemishes to deal with. It got so bad I would re-apply makeup several times throughout the day, and by the end of a workday, I would want to sob when I looked at my face in the mirror.
  • Now: Fast-forward to this morning, and I can see that I’ve made progress, but I’m still completely frustrated by what’s happening with my skin. I frequently have breakouts across my cheeks, which was never a problem area pre-pregnancy. Plus, I have the normal hormonal breakouts near my mouth and chin — with awful flare-ups right around my period.

What am I doing about my awful post-pregnancy/parenthood complexion?

Well: Trial and error. I can tell that I’ve made some improvement. I’m taking baby steps to get back to my original pre-pregnancy regimen of medication + topical treatments (because my old frenemy PCOS is back with a vengeance), but I’m still not comfortable with my skin, and it’s a daily frustration. Lately, however, I’ve tried a few products that seem to be helping a lot.

So if you’re in the same boat, first off: I feel you, girl! It super duper sucks. But maybe these products will help give you some relief too.

Fig + Yarrow Foaming Cleanser, $19.99: I love that this foaming cleanser is at Target, because I already make a weekly pilgrimage to the big red bullseye for pull-ups, wipes, and toddler snacks. It has activated charcoal, which has antibacterial and detoxification properties, making it a pretty powerful acne-fighter.

Osmia Organics Detox Exfoliationg Mask, $50: My Osmia fandom knows no bounds. This exfoliating facial mask has activated bamboo charcoal and manuka honey for a great balance of detox/cleansing/moisturizing properties. If you like facial masks, this is a must-try. I use this or the Acure Organics scrub about once a week.

Shea Moisture Natural African Black Soap, $3.59: Another Target find, this one is supremely affordable and leaves my skin feeling clean but not overly dry. It has oats to help soothe and calm my skin, but it’s also moisturizing in all the right ways. I use this one in the shower and the Fig + Yarrow at the sink.

Acure Organics Brightening Facial Scrub, $9.99: I love this scrub (and Acure products in general), but a word of caution: when you have regular breakouts, you have to be careful about scrubs, which can further irritate already angry skin. If you use a scrub mid-breakout, it can very well make your breakout worse. I use this scrub very sparingly, and only when my skin is in not-great-but-not-horrific shape. I love how smooth my skin feels (and how my makeup just glides right on my skin) afterwards. Hint: I also make sure to give some attention to my neck and decollete, because those are two spots that often show early signs of aging.

Did your skin freak out after (or during) pregnancy? What are your go-to products? Please share! I’d love to know your secrets.

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Let’s talk about: Eyebrow threading

The first time I ever had my brows threaded, in NYC circa 2005.

This weekend as I was waiting to have my eyebrows threaded, I realized we had never discussed the practice on Indigo+Canary! Threading is my preferred method of brow shaping and one of my favorite beauty treatments for a few reasons: it’s affordable, it’s quick, it’s (almost) painless, and it’s natural.

The basics
Threading is an ancient technique that is believed to have originated in the Middle East and South Asia. It uses a single thread to grasp and pull out stray hairs—and it’s super precise. In my experience, it’s also more effective and more gentle than waxing. Plus, the only “products” involved in the process are thread and aloe (to soothe threaded spots), making it a natural treatment.

What it feels like
To me, threading feels like a very quick bee sting—but the pain only lasts for a second (not the same kind of throbbing pain that accompanies a real bee sting). Again, some people are more sensitive than others, so if you think waxing is extremely painful, you may feel the same about threading. There is always a risk of getting your skin caught in the thread (although it’s rare), so be sure to find a threader who properly sanitizes her hands and uses a new piece of thread on each client.

Costs
Prices are similar to waxing—I’ve seen threading listed for anywhere from $10 to $20 per treatment. Like waxing, prices vary for other parts of the face: you can also have your neck, upper lip, cheeks, forehead, etc. threaded.

What’s your preferred method of brow maintenance? Have you ever had your brows threaded?  —Aleigh 

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Link Love: March Mascara Madness


I’m so thrilled it’s March, you guys! It’s my favorite month: Springtime + my birthday = happiness. I’m also excited about this month’s Take the Boot Challenge at EarthFare—they’re offering a free Honeybee Gardens mascara if you trade in a not-so-clean mascara. (Love!) This is a mascara that’s been on my list to try since I read about how much Siobhan at No More Dirty Looks loves it. I agree with her that I’m not super enthusiastic about seeing phenoxyethanol on the ingredients list, but I’m also willing to at least take it for a test drive, comfortable that I know what I’m getting—and that it’s still a much better option than most of the traditional mascaras out there. Now if I can just dig up an old tube of synthetic mascara to exchange…

Here’s what else I’ve been reading+enjoying lately:

What have you been reading lately? —Aleigh


(Image via incurable_hippie)

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I Tried It: Dry Brushing to Detox Your Skin

Dry Brushing to Detox Your SkinIf you’re looking to add a new detox technique to your daily beauty routine, one of the best options is dry brushing, which helps detox from the outside, in. Your skin is your body’s largest organ, and also your body’s ultimate defense between you and the environment. It’s also often referred to as the body’s “third kidney” because of the important role it plays in helping your body eliminate toxins. And just look at this list of benefits:

  • Helps shed dead skin cells to improve skin texture
  • Increases circulation and stimulates your lymph system
  • Reduces cellulite
  • Strengthens the immune system
  • Stimulates the nervous system by stimulating nerve endings in the skin
  • Tones muscles and tightens skin

Plus, as if all of those benefits aren’t enough, it honestly just feels good. The first thing I noticed when I started dry brushing is that I feel much more invigorated post-shower. Read on to find out how to get started!

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Natural Beauty Faves: December 2011

Is someone playing a practical joke on me? How is it already December?! This month is shaping up to be super busy and super fun—but I think I’m going to need a big nap on New Year’s Day. Here are the products I’m loving this month. They’ll be over in the sidebar all month long.

  • Alima Pure Organic Nourishing Lipbalm. I may have a lip balm and gloss obsession: Right now there are no less than six different kinds in my purse! I couldn’t resist buying one after including it in the Indigo+Canary Holiday Gift Guide. It’s definitely a balm and not a gloss, but it’s also super emollient and gives my lips more protection than a gloss, which is especially important when it’s cold outside. (I have the Holly Berry shade.)
  • Trilogy Certified Organic Rosehip Oil. This is the magical oil that makes Trilogy so products so amazing, all by itself. My skin has been freaking out a little bit lately, so I’ve been using my rosehip oil as an ultra-healing facial moisturizer in combination with my Una Biologicals Luxe Face Cream, and I’m already seeing a difference. It’s also perfect for helping to fade scars and stretch marks, and I wish I’d taken before pictures, because I could swear the little crow’s feet around my eyes are starting to lessen.
  • Organic Wear 100% Natural Origin Jumbo Lash Mascara. This mascara has been my go-to for the past few weeks—I decided to try it once I ran out of the not-very-natural mascara I needed to use up. (Yep. I’m not perfect when it comes to using all-clean products, especially when I receive them as gifts.) Mascara is the one product I rarely go without—so I headed to the drug store hoping to find something in the passable category, and came home with this. It’s affordable, easy to find, and gets the job done. I think the tube is cute, but the one thing I would change is the leaf-shaped handle…it can be a little tricky to hold on to.
  • Bragg Organic Apple Cider Vinegar. I finally had a chance to try out Julie’s apple cider vinegar rinse trick, and it works! My hair smelled a little vinegar-y when it was wet, but as soon as it dried, the vinegar smell disappeared and my hair was definitely shinier.

What products are you loving this month? —Aleigh


Want to check out my previous monthly favorites? Find them all here.

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