Superficial Interventions – Cosmetics, Self-esteem and Recovery

Urban Decay's "Cannonball" and Too Faced "Better Than Sex" mascaras

Urban Decay’s “Cannonball” and Too Faced “Better Than Sex” mascaras

The other day my husband asked me why I was tweeting about bumper stickers from my @MyGuts4Garters Twitter account, when wasn’t it supposed to be about Ulcerative Colitis? I said no, it’s about living with Ulcerative Colitis, which means it’s about everything to do with having an invisible disability while trying to be normal. I’m pretty sure someone with Ulcerative Colitis a) encounters pithy bumper stickers on a daily basis and b) wouldn’t mind a little humor or distraction. If I only blogged about symptoms, medications and daily UC-related frustrations, I’d shoot myself. Talk about focusing solely on the negative and being obsessed with it to the point where it consumes your every waking thought! It’s bad enough that you feel it day in and day out, hour by hour. These days, I find myself trying not to think about it. I just want to be N-O-R-M-A-L. There are thousands of women like me out there–and I’m including preteens and teens all the way up through 99+ here–who are dealing with the nasty symptoms of IBD and wanting to feel cute, pretty, feminine, and/or sexy. And what do women who need a pick-me-up do? Well, many of us turn to cosmetics. There’s science behind it: “superficial interventions” such as makeup, manicures, hair, etc., “ease distress. . . looking good helps [patients] feel better and gives them more confidence to cope with their disease” according to Dr. Thompson in the article “Why more hospitals are using cosmetic services to help treat cancer.” In the same article, a cancer patient is quoted as saying that simply putting on her wig “takes the stress away” and that “stress is the enemy to getting better.” Amen, sister.

So with that in mind, what am I here to do today? Share my trial-and-errors with mascara. There were a lot of duds, but the hands-down favorites are Too Faced Better Than Sex mascara and Urban Decay Cannonball waterproof mascara. Too Faced wins for adding extreme length and volume, and Urban Decay does the same–slightly less in the volume department though not by much–while being supremely waterproof. Want to boost Cannonball’s volume-adding abilities? Use Dior’s Diorshow Maximizer Lash Plumping Serum as a base first, then apply your mascara of choice. Prefer your non-waterproof mascara but want to waterproof after the fact? Apply Anastasia Beverly Hills Lash Genius Waterproof Topcoat, which does a terrific job of smudge-proofing an otherwise very smudgy mascara. Think face-smooshed-into-a-doughnut-pillow-on-a-massage-table-for-fifty-minutes smudge-proof. Your cheeks might have pillow lines, but your eyes won’t have raccoon circles! One less thing to have to worry about given everything else on our plates. So ladies (and gents), though mascara may not be your personal go-to, you deserve a boost. Seek out your superficial intervention today!

Winter (and/or Flare?) Lackluster-Skin Fixers

Nude ProGenius Treatment Oil

Extreme cold, dry air and of course, months of being sick have wreaked havoc with my skin. I’m reviewing 3 products, one that actually repairs dry, uneven, sallow skin (Nude ProGenius Treatment Oil) and two that help “fake” that healthy look (Clinique Superprimer Face Primer and Benefit “That Gal” Brightening Face Primer, respectively) while the first is doing its job.

I received a tiny vial of Nude as a sample and when my go-to moisturizers started to fail, gave it a try. I found it a bit oily at first, but given five minutes it absorbed quite nicely. I’m sensitive to break-outs and despite its oily nature, it actually helped heal up some zits, and no new ones took their place. The product is formulated without all the nasties (parabens, phthalates, sulfates, dyes, etc.) and is designed to deliver “deep and long lasting skin cell nourishment, revealing skin that appears lit from within.” Does it? After a week I’ve seen a huge improvement in my skin. It’s more even, moisturized with fewer fine lines, and does look nourished and healthy. I use it under my regular moisturizer for an added boost.

Clinique Superprimer Face Primer to Correct Sallowness

While I was waiting for the oil to take effect I tried two different primers to “fake” the healthy glow. No amount of foundation or glittery, shimmery powders was giving my skin a realistic “luminous” effect; I merely looked like I’d been attacked by a fairy. The above comes in a range of shades to address a host of issues, from redness to overall discolorations. It’s oil-free and glides on almost invisibly, but leaves you a nice smooth canvas for your foundation or powders. Overall I wasn’t incredibly impressed. No break-outs and as a primer it worked great, but the effect was more subtle than I wanted. I think this is better suited for individuals whose “sallowness” is slight and their skin needs a only gentle nudge towards the glow, and you’re primarily after…well, a primer.

Benefit “That Gal” Brightening Primer

The holy grail of brightening face primers has to be, in my book, Benefit’s “That Gal.” It does a terrific job as a primer but does an even better job of creating the touted “lit-from-within” healthy glow that most everyone needs in winter, and anyone whose been sick or injured needs an extra dose of. No break-outs, no glitter, just a luminous sheen that manages to find its way through both foundation and powder to create that I-just-came-in-from-a-run (or perhaps was-just-kissing-my-sweetie) flush. Best part, I can see it working great in the summer beneath some bronzer for a more realistic sun-kissed look.

Clay Mask Review – For When Drug-Induced Acne Strikes!

Spa facial

Perhaps it’s not so much “acne” as a breakout, and maybe Prednisone had nothing to do with it, but the bottom line is – as soon as I received my first IV steroid infusion in the hospital, my skin rebelled. I went off that and onto oral Prednisone of varying doses, back onto a 5-day course of IV infusions, and then onto Uceris, a different sort of steroid. In between, among and around and after all of that, I’ve been “enjoying” my other prescription cocktails. UC has been laughing in my face and I’ve been crying into the mirror. No longer, however. The first rule of getting better is taking steps to feel better, and appearance is hugely important when it comes to your self-esteem and positive mental outlook. So here goes, I am reviewing three heavy-hitting, skin-clearing, complexion-boosting facial masks (guys, these are for you too). And no, when it comes to your face (and UC) a drug-store brand just won’t cut it. Continue reading

What To Wear – Extreme/Emergency Options…

Catastrophic overnight bloat anyone? Quick fixes? Probably common sense, but ladies and gents both–belts. Easily added (provided you have belt loops, which as we ladies know is not always the case) and easily removed. Also, perhaps more attainable for the ladies, belly bands. This requires some pre-planning of course, but if you’ve already had the I-just-ate-Thanksgiving-dinner-yet-haven’t-eaten-in-8-hours morning horror, perhaps you’re ready to do a little shopping. (If you have no idea what I’m talking about, I envy you). Continue reading

What To Wear When Your Guts Are Wearing You…

Comfy black pants are a staple!

Comfy black pants are a staple!

This should probably be titled “Part 1” because this won’t be the last time this subject is discussed. As I soon learned, UC comes with its own wardrobe challenges. Where to begin? Well let’s see – probably the obvious (at least for those of us with bleeding issues). The color black. (Also substitute dark charcoal gray and navy, perhaps even one of Fall’s hottest trends – oxblood). HA!  Continue reading