Dry Skin is Out, and Pimples Are In…

Since I took up the Oil Cleansing Method, I’ve had a few surprises in my life.  First, my skin that used to dry and flake, especially in the winter, is much more soft and smooth.  Second, even though I slather about four different kinds of oil on my face every day, my skin isn’t greasy and feels incredibly clean.  Third, I have pimples.

The first few weeks of the OCM went off without a hitch.  Although internet people warned of an “adjustment period,” where the skin might break out a bit from the initial change in routine, I noticed nothing like this.  I was, from the start, impressed with the results I saw, and I never noticed any extra grease or acne.  My favorite part of the OCM is that is virtually cures my dry skin.  With conventional cleansers and lotions, I can moisturize 24/7 and still battle chronic dryness, mostly on my forehead and cheeks.  With the OCM, I barely notice any dryness, and it’s like a dream.

However, within the past few days, three pimples popped up on my face.  I’m not trying to complain about three measly pimples, but I can’t help but wonder at the timing here.  Perhaps my newly nourished skin is a bit too moisturized.  Conventional wisdom says that oil leads to acne, and even though the OCM disagrees with this, it’s hard to ignore the chronological link between my new oil usage and these unexpected spots.

Since the three original pimples disappeared, I’ve had no other problems.  Maybe it was just the adjustment period.  Maybe it was just unrelated stress.  Or maybe it was just a prelude to a terrible, bulbous oil breakout that might surface in the next few days.  Hopefully, we’ll never know.

What’s the Oil Cleansing Method?

What is Maid For My Face?

Who is Mother Nature’s Maid?


Heart & Soul, A Lip Color Duet

This is your lip color. You’re welcome.

Some people just don’t know when to stop.  Exhibit A: My family keeps asking when I’m going to bring a nice boy home to Thanksgiving dinner.  Sorry, but that ship has sailed.  If I couldn’t snare one back when I was wearing deodorant and liquid eyeliner, I doubt they’ll all line up for Leaky Armpit Dustface.

And some people just can’t keep going.  Exhibit A: Just a few days before the end of the Maid Up challenge, MNM fell completely silent and, to the casual observer, appeared to have skipped out on the whole lip color thing.  Is this true?  Has MNM finally met her match?  Or has she finally realized it’s just not worth it to pursue a faulty product that’s just going to make her look worse than she already does?

Nah.  That may be what the casual observer would think, but the faithful followers know that MNM is just a horrible procrastinator who can’t complete any task until the shit hits the fan.  Sometimes it hits the hour before the task is due, sometimes the exact minute it’s due, and sometimes a week after it’s due (which reminds me, I have a credit card bill to pay last month).

But don’t worry, Little Maids, MNM did finish the Maid Up challenge, and she did it by her deadline.  (It’s just taken me a few weeks to actually get the results on paper.)  With just a few days left in the challenge, Mother Maid finished the job with a lipcolor recipe duet.

So the lipstick is very easy.  It has no staying power, for one problem, but I’ve really just come to expect that at this point.  What with cocoa powder foundation and charcoal powder mascara, I’ve gotten used to my entire look fading by the time I walk out the door in the morning.  The other problem is that I kindof want to eat it.

Remember when you were 5 years old and you just wanted to take the cap off your strawberry-flavored chapstick and eat it whole?  It was never a good idea, of course, because it always left you with that weird scratchy feeling in your throat.  But strawberries just taste so good!  Now imagine if those strawberries were real.  And just like that, you have homemade lip color.

Frozen berries have awesome staining powers.  I prefer reds and pinks, but even blackberries and blueberries will give a nice color (if you’re into a goth look).  Just let the frozen berries melt and apply the juice however you see fit.  There’s really no way to go wrong.  And trust me, if there was a way to go wrong, MNM would have found it.

To finish it off, add some olive oil or some MNM-brand chapstick as a lipgloss, and then watch your recipe duo play a lovely duet all over your face.  (It will be just like when my brother and I used to play holiday duets on the piano…except less bickering and nobody has to go to Christmas Eve mass with a black eye.)

So there you have your homemade lip color and, with it, the end of Maid Up.  I hope you enjoyed (read “suffered through”) it as much as I did.  I’m just glad I don’t have to keep a Swiffer in the bathroom drawer anymore.

There’s a Book of Revelations In Everyone’s Life

MNM rarely has revelations.  I’ve had times when I should have had revelations – like before I put coconut oil on my hair, before I started No Poo, before I stopped using deodorant, before I gave up my coveted liquid eyeliner.

If you’re going for lashes this big, you’ll never get them with MNM’s brew…revelation or no revelation.

But today I had a revelation.  I’ve been struggling with all-natural mascara for a few weeks now, and let me tell you it’s not an easy road.  Every morning I whip up a tiny batch of Aloe Vera Gel and activated charcoal powder in a little Dixie Cup (roughly 1 part charcoal to 2 parts AVG).  And then – here’s where the fun comes in – I begin the laborious process of trying to get the homemade mascara to adhere to my lashes.  I have an old mascara brush that I use for this, but it was failing me.  I’d take at least 15 passes at each eye with a brush loaded up with black gunk, and with every stroke I’d only succeed in alternatively wiping on and wiping off the mascara.  Yes, I am the Karate Kid.

But all that changed today.  MNM woke up tired, and she wasn’t having any of that natural crap this morning.  Honestly, I almost caved and just used regular makeup (I’ve been telling you all this time that I threw it out, but really it’s just shoved in a drawer in my room).  Of course, I didn’t do this; if I had I never would have had the revelation.

So I took the mascara brush, chunks of yesterday’s stale mix caked into the bristles, and I poured some AVG and activated charcoal right into the palm of my hand.  I mixed thoroughly – or was it “angrily” – with the brush, all in my palm.  Then I globbed it on.

Well what do you know?  It worked like a charm.  Almost like I was applying real mascara.  Almost.  You still won’t get the coverage, color or thickness you’re used to, and it won’t last mucb longer than your work day (i.e. you’ll have to reapply before Happy Hour).  However, you’ll see fewer clumps, and it’s not even that hard to apply!  It only takes a few swipes to get adequate (for natural, homemade mascara) coverage.

Perhaps the trick is to leave the previous day’s mascara on the brush, or perhaps it’s to mix the product in the palm of your hand.  I’m really not sure, but I’ve found that you don’t question Mother Nature about a success.  If you do, she’ll just give you some coconut oil and baking soda in congratulations.

Through the eye of a needle (just like the way you put on your mascara)

After applying mascara, my mother would separate her eyelashes with the point of a needle.  I literally remember witnessing this practice as a child – and often.

“No – no!” she’d say, the needle poised a heartbeat away from her pupil.  “Don’t come near me!  Don’t knock into me!”

She no longer does this.  Perhaps she changed mascaras, or perhaps she got spooked at the thought of gouging out an eyeball.  As crazy as it sounds, though, I finally understand where she’s coming from with that needle.  Mascara clumps like a bi-otch, especially if it’s poor quality.

Now I have no idea of the quality of mascara my mother used during my childhood; perhaps it was just old.  But, no, it’s not possible that my mother would use old mascara.  Aside from “never share your eye makeup” and “keep the brushes clean,” “replace your products often” is one of my mom’s most touted makeup safety rules.  Oddly, “don’t separate your eyelashes with a needle” could never make that list.

For years, I’ve never had to worry about clumped mascara.  I wish I had appreciated those years while I was living them.

Let me give it to you straight – the mascara that Mother Nature provides is difficult to apply, has zero lasting power, and clumps like cray.  And that was the best solution I could come up with.  All of the mixes I tested simply consisted of a small amount of liquid mixed vigorously with a small amount of activated charcoal.  Here’s what I tried:

Blackberry and Activated Charcoal: This basically did nothing.  There’s no other way to say it.  The mixture wouldn’t even stick to my lashes.

Vitamin E Oil and Activated Charcoal: If you’re looking for something waterproof, this is your best bet.  It applied quite well, but it also clumped, didn’t seem to dry, and took forever to scrub off my face.  Water won’t budge this stuff – you need commercial-grade soap, and you can forget about having any eyelashes left.

Aloe Vera Gel and Activated Charcoal: The best of the three options and the mix I’m currently using.

The AVG + AC product is not so great.  Like I said, it’s tough to apply, it doesn’t last, and it clumps.  It also makes my lashes feel heavy (probably because I need to put so much on to make it show up), so it looks like I’m wearing nothing and feels like I’m wearing fakes.  Great combo.  And here’s another thing – sometimes, I look at myself in the mirror, and I see a shower of tiny black dots under my eyes.  No worries – I’m not diseased; it’s just my mascara flaking off.

On the plus side, it comes off easily, and it’s a quick mix in the morning (of course, not as quick as your store-bought mascara).  And – as if you need more incentive to try it – I haven’t gone blind yet.

L’oeil de chat

Well you can tell Brigitte Bardot that she and her cat’s eye are en sécurité.  For now.

Mother Nature’s Maid is hot on the heels of Mlle. Bardot and her bold, flashy look of the 1960s.  That’s right – we’re whipping up a Bardot-inspired face that’s not only striking, but completely natural.  By the time I’m done, you won’t be able to tell the difference between me and-

Ok, I’m just getting reports that this blog is being routinely fact-checked.  So, as I was saying…I might not look exacty like Brigitte Bardot, but I have almost mastered her cat’s eye…and with all-natural makeup, no less!  Read on – this is pretty cool.

I was actually nervous to attempt this homemade product.  Eyeliner seems to be such an exact consistency that I feared no natural alternative could ever replicate it, and anyone will tell you that I am very painstaking with my cat’s eye.  Inferior liners just won’t do.

I had activated charcoal fighting in my corner and convincing evidence that it is a safe, natural product.  What I didn’t have was any real hope that it would hold a candle to my Maybelline or even work at all.  I was in for a surprise.  And a pleasant one…for once.

All you need is a toothpick, a frozen blackberry (or plain water), and activated charcoal (NOT scraped from the bottom of a grill).  It’s that simple.  I broke one of the activated charcoal capsules into a small bowl and let the frozen blackberry melt a bit in another.  Taking the toothpick, I dipped one end in blackberry juice and then in the charcoal.

It goes on quite smoothly, although not as thoroughly as store-bought.  I had to keep re-dipping the toothpick and reapplying to get the thickness and length I wanted.  Any amount of extra fussing like this does not bode well for a flawless cat’s eye and, sure enough, mine turned out a bit smudgier than I usually allow.  But overall, I was quite impressed.

I admired my handiwork in the mirror; I called my mother over to the table to show her my success (and to assure her again that activated charcoal would not render me blind…probably).  I actually looked like I had used real liquid eyeliner!  Hooray!  (Just allow me to indulge in a successful product for a moment; I rarely get this opportunity.)

If you’re thinking eyeliner, I’m thinking charcoal

My mom thinks charcoal is taking the natural kick one step too far.  She thinks you shouldn’t put charcoal near your eyes because what goes near your eyes can get in your eyes, and you don’t want to mess up your vision.

Good point?  Clearly a good point.  Mothers know everything, and they’re like walking warning labels.  One of my aunts has all the latest information on fresh food recalls and the 10-step process for washing produce.  And there’s my friend’s mom, who has a good five reasons why you should never stand in front of the microwave.  And then there’s my mom, who cautions against pulling over for police officers in remote areas and rolling down the car window too far when asking for directions.

I can’t be positive why my mom is so concerned about charcoal, of all things.  It may have to do with the fact that I arrived home the other day with a large bottle of activated charcoal capsules, claiming that I was going to make homemade eyeliner.  That just may be what set her off on that kick.

And, really, who wouldn’t go on a kick about eye makeup made from charcoal?  The idea of putting something you scraped off the bottom of a grill onto your eyelid is really quite disturbing.  First of all, it’s a situation that has conjunctivitis written all over it.  And do we even need a second-of-all after that?  So, in an MNM first, I decided to figure out what exactly I was cooking up before I slathered it all over my face.

The activated charcoal I have for eyeliner is not actually the same as the refuse in the bottom of your grill.  Though, in a way, it almost is; activated charcoal is just regular charcoal that has been processed to become porous.  This makes it good for removing toxins and apparently odors, as well.  (I know you’re thinking what I’m thinking…charcoal deodorant!!)

The first surprise about buying activated charcoal is where to find it in the store.  You don’t go to the outdoor section, and you don’t go to the grilling section.  You go to the vitamin aisle.  That’s right – activated charcoal is safe to eat.  In fact, it’s widely touted for a variety of medicinal uses.

But just because you can eat something doesn’t mean you want to dump it in your eyes.  I’m thinking Tabasco sauce, horseradish, OldBay.  Except in this case, it seems you can dump…and in large amounts.  A search for “activated charcoal” and “eyes” yielded results for homemade pink eye remedies, even charcoal poultices that could be left on overnight.  One site described a charcoal eye rinse – as in, charcoal in the eye, not just on top.

This research has been enough to convince me that homemade activated charcoal eyeliner is, in fact, quite safe.  But, I’d still check with your mom before doing any experimenting; it’s always important to read the warning label.

Five for Fighting

Because when your makeup looks like this, you know you’re doing it right!

For years I’ve been trying to piece together exactly how someone as awesome as I am could remain dateless for the better part of some 25 years.  I’ve just got so much going for me.  After all, how many people can boast a successful 6-month stint of no deo?  (Ok, “successful” is a relative term.)

People kept telling me, “It’s your face, it’s your face.  You have to do something with your face!”

What’s with my face?  What do I have to do?  What could my face have to do with getting dates?  I just couldn’t see a connection.

Until Mother Nature punched me in the eye.  Now I see it beautifully.  Well, maybe “beautifully” was the wrong word there…because there is nothing beautiful about what I find in my morning mirror.

What I’ve learned from a good fistfight with Mother Nature is that a nice black eye beats a bare eye any day of the week.  After all, a purple bruise may be unsightly, but at least it covers up some of those things that you don’t have going for you.

So what does Mother Nature have to offer in the way of eye makeup?  Well, blueberries, obviously!  Dip a Q-Tip into the melted juice of a frozen blueberry, dust it with some cornstarch, rub it into your skin, and you’ve got a Grade A purple bruisy-looking eye.  Ok, so you’re not into the penalty box look?  I’m not either; it’s just that the blueberry is all I had on hand.  The real point of the experiment is that blueberry juice stains skin!  I first got the idea for frozen fruit makeup from “Easy to be Raw,” and it seems the possibilities are endless.  Blueberry might make you look like you’ve had a run-in with the wrong side of a baseball bat, but imagine strawberry or raspberry.

If you’re looking for more earthy tones (as if anything could be more earthy than fruit…), turn to cocoa powder.  Remember how MNM tackled homemade foundation?  The same principles apply to eye shadow.  Pick the shade you want – it can be anything cocoa powder and lighter (if you want darker than cocoa powder, you might try activated charcoal).  Just mix the cocoa powder with corn starch until you reach your desired shade, and then apply with a Q-Tip.  Spirulina is also touted by hippie bloggers as a natural powder that will produce green shades, if that’s more your style.

Luckily, I don’t use eye shadow every day, because the whole frozen berry rolled in corn starch routine would probably add another 20 minutes to my chemical-based 5-minute-face look.  But trust me, these natural methods will cover up whatever facial oddities are ailing you.  Of course, if all you need is some cover up, you could always try my natural concealer, because that’s been oh so successful.  Or, on second thought, you might be better off just getting punched in the face.