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My Struggle With Acne and 5 Skincare Tips

Six months ago, if you’d told me I’d be writing a blog post about skincare I wouldn’t have believed you. My skin has been the bane of my existence since the summer of 2013. In high school I suffered the occasional breakout and complained about them like nobody’s business, but the summer before I was set to “start my new life” in college I was struck by the worst acne I have ever experienced.

It was no longer confined to my T-zone and had worked its way onto my cheeks. It was big and red and painful. And to make things worse, I was the only person in my family not #blessed with poreless, butter-soft, Puerto Rican skin. My acne sent me into a hole of self-consciousness that made meeting new people uncomfortable. I was embarrassed.

Now, I should preface this by saying that everyone’s skin is different… and what works for me might not work for you. But I do believe that the tips I’ve included below have profoundly changed not only the appearance of my skin, but also my relationship with it.

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So here are five skincare tips that I have personally implemented to clear things up and out of my pores:

1) OUT WITH THE HARSH. IN WITH THE GENTLE.

No more benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid for this girl! I know these ingredients are supposed to be the holy grail of treating acne but they hurt me to use and leave my skin irritated. I now use this cleanser once or twice daily (after workouts and/or before bed) and it leaves my skin feeling clean and calm!

2) TONE. MOISTURIZE. REPEAT.

My product arsenal is limited. In the AM: I splash my face with cold water, tone with Dickinson’s or Thayer’s Witch Hazel, and moisturize. In the PM and/or after a workout: I wash my face with my papaya enzyme cleanser. I’ll double cleanse with micellar water when I’ve worn face makeup. And then I tone with a problem skin toner. I’m honestly not sure if using a different night toner is necessary but Shea Moisture has been holding me down so I’m not going to change it anytime soon.

This is no beauty blogger’s #shelfie but these products have been getting it done.

This is no beauty blogger’s #shelfie but these products have been getting it done.

3) PASSIVELY TOUCHING YOUR FACE, YOU NEED TO CUT IT.

I ride the subway and hold on because the A train is no joke as it speeds from 125th to 59th. I open the door to a cute little café packed with people and laptops. I wipe my hand on my jeans because it’s raining out and the door handle was wet. I order a coffee and hand the store clerk my credit card. Then I sit down and pull out my laptop which I take with me everywhere. As I begin to work I rest my cheek on the same hand that touched the subway pole and seat and door knob and credit card. And then I act surprised when I develop a pimple on said cheek.

Stop touching your face. Seriously.

4) YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT.

The biggest change I’ve made since taking my skin more seriously is dietary. Although I’m not vegan and don’t completely identify as plant-based, I drastically cut back on meat and dairy earlier this year and it has made a world of difference. Now, I know this might not be what you want to hear but I do believe that a lot of the hormonal imbalances we experience (aka ACNE) stem from what we put into our bodies as much as they do from what we put on them. I now know that my skin is very sensitive to dairy, grease, and refined sugar. It hasn’t stopped me from indulging in sweet treats and french fries on occasion but knowledge is power.

Post-extractions in August 2018. It doesn’t look great (I was still struggling with a lot of acne) but it does get better!  NOTE: If you struggle with hyperpigmentation, consult a derm before exploring this option.

Post-extractions in August 2018. It doesn’t look great (I was still struggling with a lot of acne) but it does get better! NOTE: If you struggle with hyperpigmentation, consult a derm before exploring this option.

5) EXTRACT, REGULARLY.

I was never one to pop pimples because I am terrified of scars and have no idea how to do it properly!

Even recently I’ve given myself an abrasion or two trying to pop my own white heads. Lesson learned: quit while you’re ahead.

Instead, I now see an esthetician semi-regularly for extractions (Hi Vee!) and I’ve learned a lot from her because she notices changes in my pores even before I do. So in I go, every month, to have her clean those bad boys out.

This tip is a luxury and I am certainly very lucky to have a friend that knows what she’s doing. Invest what you can. If you don’t have $200/month for full-blown facials (I SURE DON’T) opt for “just extractions” which are much more affordable. I would 100% recommend consulting an expert dermatologist or esthetician… or a combination of the two. Whatever is within your means.

Finally, please know that acne is not the end of the world! I truly wish I had spent more time addressing the insecurities that came out of my struggle with it. Instead I let a few red bumps on my face impact my social life and self-confidence.

I now choose to understand my acne as a signal that something I’m doing is throwing my body out of wack, and instead of being bitter about how my sister can eat and do whatever she wants and never develop a clogged pore, my skin cares enough to put that warning right where I can see it! :) Take it one day at a time, be consistent, and be kind to yourself.

All love always xx

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Tips for Sticking With A New Workout Routine

New year, new me, am I right?! Whether you like the phrase or absolutely hate it, you can't deny that there's something so magical about a ton of people feeling inspired to set goals at the same time. My motto: never knock someone for trying to be better.  No matter the goal, and as long as it hurts no one, why not support it?

The really really beautiful thing is that the most common resolutions are to eat healthier, get more exercise, save money, focus on self-care, and get more sleep. It's like at the beginning of every year people realize they should really be putting themselves first, and nothing could make me happier. Wellness for the win.

Because I've gotten so many questions about how I make time for working out I thought I'd bring you a couple of my hacks for sticking to a new workout routine FOR REAL this time around. Disclaimer though: No one is perfect about their routines and making it a habit takes time. All you can do is try and, when it comes to your health and happiness, honestly that's enough.

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1. BABY STEPS.

What do Rome and your workout routine have in common? They weren't built in a day. Getting used to working out takes time, so don't try to go from 0 to 100. Start with a smaller goal, like 2 walks or workouts/week, and then build from there. Your muscles will thank you later.

2. DO SOMETHING YOU LOVE.

If you hate running, then don't. If you hate yoga, then DON'T. Trying to force yourself to do something you don't enjoy is the quickest way to sabotage your goals. Save this for later (if you have your heart set on it) and start with activities you genuinely enjoy.

3. GET A WORKOUT BUDDY.

Maybe you can set a gym date with your roommate every week or maybe you just send each other sweaty selfies after every workout. No matter what you choose having somebody sweat with you can make working out that much better.

4. EAT ENOUGH FOOD. DRINK ENOUGH WATER.

Sometimes fitness goals are centered around weight loss, and while that's fine (your goals are your goals), you have to make sure you're eating enough and staying hydrated. Cutting crazy calories  won't produce long-term gains... it'll just make you feel like crap. Promise.

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5. PLAN, PLAN, PLAN.

When you're trying to take anything seriously planning is key. The great thing about workout routines is that there are so many parts you can plan in advance. I like to roughly plan what days I'll be getting my sweat on, what times, even what I'll wear. If you're working out first thing in the morning lay out your clothes the night before (or wear them to bed... that's what I do). If you know your schedule is packed this week, plan to sweat early in the day or over the weekends. Plan. Plan. Plan.

6. GET SEVEN TO EIGHT HOURS, EVERY NIGHT.

Sleep is everything and while some days you might have to drag yourself out of bed just short of a full night's rest, there are few feelings worse than being exhausted during a workout. Do yourself (and your wellness goals) a favor and prioritize your rest.

7. FOCUS ON HOW YOU FEEL.

People workout for different reasons and while aesthetics might be one of them it alone has never been enough to make me workout consistently. So instead I like to think of the gym as my space for working through things. I run to get my heart pumping, I lift heavy to feel strong, and I sweat to clear my head. The feeling keeps me on track, so try to focus on that.

8. NEW CLOTHES, WHO DIS?

My favorite part of starting a new workout routine or setting new fitness goals is hands-down buying new stuff. Something about fresh socks and new leggings helps me get to the gym more often. Want to feel like a boss while you workout? Put on a carefully-coordinated sweatsuit (joking kinda, but not really).

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5 Things We Should All Leave in 2017

It wouldn't be a new year without goal-setting and a fresh list of intentions.

I know because I jump at every opportunity to start over. I'm the girl that gets a new phone and doesn't transfer any of her old photos. If you get me, you get me. 

This year though I decided to do things a little bit differently, and instead of writing my intentions first (which I eventually did.. pictured below) I actually made a list of things and habits I needed to cut out of my life. 

// Shop the journal/notebook/or whatever  here . //

// Shop the journal/notebook/or whatever here. //

At first it felt like a really negative thing to do, like spreading negative energy or something. But it's IMPORTANT because sometimes the things we carry with us year-after-year are the very things that hold us back from the goals we keep setting. So here I go sharing 5 things we should all  leave in 2017... because if it doesn't add to our lives, it will only subtract.
 

1. THE COMPARISON GAME

Comparison is the thief of joy... Theodore Roosevelt wasn't lying. That's why in 2018 the first thing I'm getting rid of is my tendency to compare. It's a hard thing, knowing that all of your life all you've done is value yourself in relation to others. I've wanted to be smarter, funnier, more athletic, more well-rounded, thicker, and then thinner (lol at standards of beauty, f that)... and joining the Instagram and blogging communities didn't exactly help quiet that voice in my head. But here's one thing I know: comparing will do nothing good for you. So let's stop doing it, and replace all of that negative stuff with a desire to just be better than yesterday.
 

2. SELF-DOUBT & THE FEAR OF TRYING

This kind of defined my 2017. I was preparing to take the MCAT with a relatively low-GPA (#premedprobs), I wanted to start a blog but I didn't think anyone would read it, and I was scared if I did start a blog that people would judge me. But guess what? I took the MCAT, started this blog, and received nothing but support from the realest friends a girl could ask for. Moral of the story here: Go after everything your heart desires because YOU CAN.
 

3. PROCRASTINATION & OTHER WAITING GAMES

I'm guilty of putting EVERYTHING off, small or big, whether it'd take 5 minutes or 5 hours. So this year I'm saying no to putting off the stuff that I really have no excuse for procrastinating. If it takes less than 30 minutes to do, or if you'll be drastically happier when it's over, DO. IT. NOW.
 

4. SAYING NEGATIVE THINGS ABOUT OTHER WOMEN

This one's self-explanatory so I'll keep it short and sweet. Few things make me sadder than women putting down other women. I'm as guilty as the next girl so in 2018 I'm making a point to cut it out. Whether she wears make-up or not, whether she's loud or soft-spoken, whether she commands a room or prefers to mingle in the middle... let. that. girl. live. And the next time anyone tries to compliment you by saying you're not like other girls, punch them in the mouth* for saying something so sexist. #womenempoweringwomen

*don't actually punch them.
 

5. THE "I CAN DO IT ALL" SUPERWOMAN COMPLEX

You don't have to be everything to everyone, but to serve others you do have to take care of yourself. Know when to say no, when to say yes, and when you've got nothing left to give. It's hard enough trying to be better for yourself and I'm guilt of constantly trying to be better for everyone else too. Respecting your limits does not make you weak, and self-care does not make you selfish. Remember that.
 

I hope you'll join me in getting rid of the things that hold you  back. We can, and we will.
 

All love always,
Mez

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