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    The Product That Has Completely Banished My Blackheads

    Blackheads (and their sinister cousin, whiteheads) have plagued me for years; they simply cannot let me go. Across my T-zone, I have pretty large pores going on that cannot resist getting filled with gunk. After years of skin torture in the form of Biore pore strips and ultra strong peel-off masks, I was left with blackheads and a load of irritation. I have tried anything and everything in my quest to send blackheads to that place that Gandalf fell, including a memorable incident with a pore vacuum, which I can heartily say I do not recommend. While it turns out expecting instant results was getting me nowhere (who knew?), I have stumbled upon a cult favorite product I would happily douse my face in for the rest of my life. 

    I routinely spend time google researching blackhead remedies while binging The Great British Baking Show (don’t you?), and unfailingly, the Paula’s Choice BHA exfoliant would appear in comments and on message boards surrounded by words like magic, life-changing, and undeniable. It’s a chemical exfoliator, which means it doesn’t require those skin-shredding granules I used to slather over my face in middle school.  
    “I recommend ‘chemical’ exfoliation over physical, meaning using an acid or enzyme to exfoliate instead of physical particles as in a scrub,” said Dr. Loretta Ciraldo, dermatologist and owner of Dr. Loretta Skincare. “With physical exfoliation, you’re removing only surface dead cells. With a chemical exfoliant like AHA/glycolic, BHA/salicylic, or an enzyme, you’re removing cells both in pores as well as on skin’s surface.”

    I caved and bought the 2% BHA Exfoliant so I could test the magic for myself about eight months ago. The formula takes a moment to get used to—initially, I was really skeptical since it feels quite oily on the skin. I was expecting more of a light zingy feeling, and instead, it has more of an oil-based slick quality. I apply it with a cotton round and concentrate it on the areas where my blackheads like to congregate—mainly my nose, upper lip (sexy!), and chin. 
    Despite my doubts, I’ve actually gotten used to how the formula feels, and after around eight months of use, it’s made my hallowed list of auto-buy repurchases. My favorite part is how gentle it feels with no burning, itching, or stinging like other exfoliators—both chemical and physical—that I’ve tried. All Paula’s Choice products are fragrance-free as well, which is a welcome respite from recent overly-scented launches (Fenty Skin, I’m looking at you). 
    I’ve worked up to using it every night, and I’ve found that of all my lotions and potions, BHA (aka salicylic acid) works best for my skin in terms of refining texture and reducing pore blockage (my nemesis). I’m going to be real: I still have some blackheads. I think they may have decided to be with me forever, and who could blame them? But overall, the pores on my nose are less noticeable and enlarged and the skin on my cheeks and forehead feels buttery smooth, which wasn’t my intention in using this product but is a delightful side effect. Here’s a photo I would use to announce the Exfoliant and I are engaged: 

    In general when I’m having skin woes, I go back to the drawing board with my tried-and-true products I know work and don’t irritate my skin. The 2% BHA Exfoliant always makes the list, along with a gentle cleanser and hyaluronic acid serum. And of course, sunscreen. 

    Final thoughts

    If you’re dealing with blackheads, try this. Definitely try it before reaching for a quick-fix solution like a pore vacuum (your skin and I am begging you).
    Be prepared to use this for a few months at least. Commit to it! I’m notorious for rotating my skincare too fast and thinking that nothing is working when really I needed to give it more time. 
    Always use sunscreen when you’re using this product. You know what, just always use sunscreen full stop. 
    On my skin, this is pretty gentle, but I still recommend doing a patch test and working up to using every night, especially if your skin is sensitive. 
    According to Paula’s Choice, exfoliants are step three after your cleanser and toner and before your serum and moisturizer. I usually skip toner, but otherwise, follow that order. 
    More Paula’s Choice faves from the team

    Paula’s Choice
    2% BHA Body Lotion

    This lotion has been a life-saver for the keratosis pilaris on my upper arms.

    Paula’s Choice
    10% Niacinamide Booster

    I frequently use this serum booster post-BHA exfoliant to fade old acne scars. More

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    September Empties: Honest Thoughts on The Products Our Team Finished This Month

    We’re big fans of the YouTube Beauty Community here at The Everygirl. We’re constantly talking about our favorite creators, their best looks, and buying pretty much everything they recommend. The YouTube beauty world is honestly what we have to thank for some of the biggest trends in beauty—we’d never be baking our undereyes or curling our hair with straighteners or using men’s post-shave balm as a primer if it weren’t for the beauty YouTubers who taught us how. Alongside the various techniques YouTube has taught us, the phenomenon of the ever-so-popular “empties video” has truly taken over our subscription feeds. Every beauty YouTuber has made an empties video (if not five), and everyone who even knows just a glimpse of beauty YouTube has seen one. The concept is simple: show everyone what’s in your trash and talk about if you loved it, if you’ll buy it again, and how long it took you to use up. 
    So being the beauty-lovers we are at TEG HQ, we decided to create our own empties series. Every month, all of our editors will share a few of our own empties—from skin, hair, and makeup products to candles and vitamins and home items—and give our unfiltered review on each of the products. Some of them we’ll love and need to repurchase ASAP … and some we’ll celebrate finally finishing them up. If you’ve ever wondered what our absolute favorites (and not-so-favorites) are, this is the right place to be. It’s finally time for our trash cans to shine!

    Pumpkin Powerhouse Resurfacing & Exfoliating Enzyme Mask

    Fall is in full swing, and I feel it’s my duty to share that I absolutely love this $12 pumpkin face mask. I bought this last year to see if it would be a dupe for all of the other pumpkin masks on the market (and there are certainly a few). Is this a dupe? I can’t say, but I will tell you that I had a lot of fun with this mask, making it worth the just-over-$10 price point. I loved how soft and smooth my skin felt afterward, and it was the perfect mask to wear while I took a bath. If you’re looking for something fun to add to your skincare routine this fall, try this.

    Sunday Riley
    C.E.O Glow Vitamin C + Turmeric Face Oil

    To be fair, this isn’t even remotely close to empty, but I’m throwing it out and figured I would share as a lesson to myself and anyone reading that vitamin C goes bad and to use your products before that. I went to use this on my face a couple of weeks ago and was utterly appalled at the absolutely rancid scent coming from this tiny little container and knew it had to go. I had it for about a year, so that makes sense. As for how much I liked this, it was so-so. It did absolutely nothing for dark spots, but it definitely made me look glowy and hydrated. Had I used it more consistently, maybe I would have noticed better results, but I realized I really don’t like applying vitamin C in an oil format. Instead, I’ve fallen in love with my #1: Maelove Glow Maker

    Hydro Boost Hyaluronic Acid Gel Face Moisturizer

    This is hands-down the best drugstore moisturizer there is. This is the second tub I’ve gone through, and I’m sure I’ll keep buying it. When I want something reliable that I know works for me and keeps me extra hydrated, this is what I use. It’s a gel-cream, so it feels like nothing on my face (was perfect for the summer), but it’s full of hyaluronic acid which keeps my skin plump and full of moisture. It’s a little expensive for a drugstore product, but I promise, it’s worth every penny.

    Milk Makeup
    Kush Mascara

    My love for this mascarahas been expressed at length, so I won’t waste your time with another love note. But I will tell you that if you want thick, long, dramatic lashes, you are missing out if you don’t try this. Everyone I’ve gotten to try it falls in love with it. I’ve gone through about four tubes since it released, and I know I’ll keep buying it. However, I am also trying to go through my other mascaras for now and want to try some drugstore and clean versions first. But there will always be a special place in my heart (and my collection) for Kush Mascara.

    Mint-Flavored Daily Drops

    I’ve used pretty much every single CBD product that Equilibria makes—and while they each have their own special place in my routine, the mint drops take the cake. I take one full dropper each morning with my coffee and a splash of oat milk—resulting in a delicately minty drink that soothes my stress and helps me feel more focused to take on the day. I have a subscription for these, so I’m shipped a new bottle every four weeks. I never want to be without them!

    Skin Food

    I am not a Skin Food stan (as I know some people are!), but there are truly few things that can tackle suuuuuper dry skin quite like this can. It’s very greasy, so I pretty much only use it on the tops of my hands when I’m going to be sitting still. It’s not my reach-for-it-all-the-time lotion, but it IS my reach-for-it-when-my-parched-skin-is-desperate lotion.

    Blondage Conditioner

    This has been my favorite conditioner in the entire world for YEARS. I use it about once a week, and it truly makes my hair its shiniest and bounciest self. It’s frowned-upon to overuse purple hair products (despite how great they are at banishing blonde brassiness)—but if I could, I’d use this every wash. Whether you’re bleached and beachy or just have some sunny streaks, you will LOVE this conditioner as much as I do.

    PFB Vanish
    Ultra Triple Action

    Now that I’m back to my regular wax appointments, I made sure to stock up on products recommended by my esthetician that will help with any new irritation or ingrown hairs. This post-waxing roll-on serum has been my go-to for care right after wax appointments. It helps soothe any inflammation and helps treat dark spots and discoloration caused by frequent waxing. I noticed less bikini line discoloration, which was a big issue for me when I tried a new esthetician in the past. This is a must if you are prone to having skin issues from waxing.

    Freeman Beauty
    Cleansing Sheet Mask

    I am all in on the sheet mask craze, and Freeman Beauty has a lot of my favorite products for mud masks—and now sheet masks. I use this right before or during a breakout on my face from product build-up. After 15-20 minutes, this face mask leaves my skin clean, but moisturized as well. I love all-things charcoal in my products, as it’s been proven to work for me, and the charcoal in this 100 percent bamboo mask helps clear my pores and preps my face to absorb my overnight cream. My at-home spa nights are not complete without a good sheet mask to top it all off!

    Living Proof
    Dry Volume Spray

    I am my best self with a giant cloud of hair. I want my hair to have a separate zip code and precede me into every room. And there is no achieving this without my beloved Dry Volume Blast. It’s basically a dry shampoo and texturizer hybrid that is perfect to add grit to freshly washed hair or revive falling day five hair. I use it last before I breeze out the door, buoyed by my locks like a hot air balloon.

    Shea Sugar Scrub

    In the winter, my skin is positively parched and needs a good body scrub + body oil combo to remain in fighting form and not peel off in one go like a snake shedding. I like to use my scrub basically every shower, so I needed an affordable version since I’ve been known to go through a full jar every two weeks. This one is effective, has a light scent that doesn’t linger too long, and tops out at about $9. Win, win, win.

    Danessa Myricks Beauty
    Waterproof Cushion Liner

    I purchased this liner on a whim and thought for sure I’d use it once and give up. Well, that was certainly not the case since I’m out of it. I love that this liner is so vibrant and easy to work with (once you understand how the formula works). I already have this in my cart ready to repurchase this week.

    Boy Brow

    I was once a Boy Brow skeptic. Could a brow product *really* be that amazing? The answer is yes. I haven’t waxed, threaded, or plucked my brows in over a year. When I want my brows to look done, I add a few swipes of this, and I’m out the door. I already have a backup to my empty, and will always keep one on deck, so I’m never without it.

    The Body Wash: Eucalyptus

    This body wash is truly my favorite product I’ve purchased for my skin in years! Normally, I buy (the super cheap) kind from my local pharmacy, but during this crazy summer, I treated myself to something out of the ordinary and I’m so glad I did. I love the smell and texture of this body wash so much. Every time I use it I feel like I’m at a spa. It gives me a much-needed mini break from 2020 reality. I’ve tried to use it very sparingly but as I’m now out, I’m sure I’ll be reordering it again soon.

    Nordic-C Glow Boost Essence Serum

    I thought it was finally time to get on the Vitamin C serum train after hearing all about the amazing benefits, so I decided to give this one a try. I picked it based on the affordable price point and excellent reviews. Overall, I feel kind of *meh* about it. It feels nice and refreshing and smells good, but honestly I didn’t notice a huge difference in my skin. I’m not going to totally rule it out because I’m not sure if I used it long enough (this small size doesn’t last very long—I had it for about six weeks), but I will say that I replaced it with a different Vitamin C serum to try. Stay tuned to see if I like that one better!

    The Ordinary
    Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5

    I very rarely run out of and repurchase beauty products because I like to try new things so often (bad habit, I know). However, I DID just repurchase this hyaluronic acid serum. As soon as the air even begins to cool off during the fall, all of the moisture is sucked right out of my skin and I deal with extreme dryness all winter long. This product is one of the few things that really makes a difference and provides my skin with some hydration.

    Curls & Waves Whipped Mousse

    As a girl with unruly naturally curly hair, I’m always on the hunt for any stylizing hair product. This mousse is hands-down the best curly hair product I’ve tried this year. It keeps my curls in place all day but doesn’t leave your hair with that stiff, crunchy feeling. I will definitely be purchasing this again.

    Instant Self-Tanning Mousse

    I’m a girl who always feels most confident with a tan. With the cooler weather coming, I started using this tanning mousse whenever I felt like getting ready. The product is only $13 dollars and it feels like a high-end product.

    16HR Camo Concealer

    I bought this product because of Tik Tok ( oh yes–I went there) and it disappointed me. When I used it under and on my eyes it was very drying. I like creamy, moisturizing concealers and this was not one of them!

    L’Oreal Paris
    Telescopic Original Mascara

    This mascara is my holy grail! I will repurchase this for the rest of my life. It makes my eyelashes long and never ever clumps.

    Overnight Facial Peel

    Confession: I used to have skincare commitment issues. There’s something about night creams, treatments, and oils that is apparently so alluring to me, I could never settle on just one. That is, until this Overnight Facial Peel found its way into my routine and became my go-to nighttime treatment. Even though it’s formulated with lactic acid, glycolic acid, and vitamin A to brighten skin and exfoliate, it feels like putting on a lotion and never dries out my skin. As if that wasn’t enough, it’s non-toxic, vegan, and under $20, so yes, I will be purchasing again. And again and again and again.

    BYBI Beauty
    Blueberry Oil Booster

    I always mention this facial oil whenever I talk about my morning routine because it’s as essential to my day as a cup of coffee or making my bed. Rosehip gets all the attention when it comes to face oils, but let me introduce you to blueberry seed oil, which is the only ingredient in this genius product. The cold-pressed blueberry seed oil helps defend your skin against blue light damage by absorbing blue light before it penetrates the skin. In other words, you may feel guilty for sitting at your laptop from the minute you wake up until you fall asleep for many reasons, but the damage it’s doing to your skin doesn’t have to be one of them. Plus, it contains powerful nutrients like beta-carotene and omega 3, 6, and 9, which have made my skin glow and helped fight inflammation. It’s a little bottle but you literally only need a minuscule drop to cover your whole face so this one bottle has lasted me for six months.

    Veil Translucent Setting Powder

    I bought this powder over a year ago at Beth’s recommendation in an attempt to find a powder to set my super-dry face, but somehow not make it even dryer (it somehow eats makeup so even though it’s dry, I like to set my face for longer-lasting makeup). This powder is truly witchcraft. It’s the least drying setting powder I have ever used in my life and I don’t think I will ever buy another powder again. It gives a natural finish but doesn’t ever make me look dry or cakey. This is the travel size, and since you need such a small amount, it has lasted me 12+ months. I can’t imagine anyone who wouldn’t love this—it’s a holy grail for sure.

    Living Proof
    Perfect Hair Day Dry Shampoo

    We have a bit of a dry shampoo rivalry in our office—each of us is partial to a different cult-classic one, and this is mine. I will argue anyone to the death that this is the best dry shampoo on the market, and I could recite a full dissertation on just way that is, but I’ll spare you that and give you a few details. This leaves absolutely no white cast, reside, or weird film, and it’s the only dry shampoo I’ve ever found that can salvage post-run hair. I can’t count how many of these I’ve gone through and I always have one in my bathroom.

    Want more empties? Check out the previous months below! More

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    I Just Finished 5 Months of Isotretinoin—Here’s How It Went

    Many articles about acne start the same—but that’s because the struggle with acne, one of modern society’s most frustrating skin conditions, is far too common. The often-painful-and-often-shameful ailment is frequently lauded as adolescent and pubescent—but a Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School study finds about half of women in their 20s, one-third of women in their 30s, and one-quarter of women in their 40s will be bothered by breakouts.For the last 12+ years, I have struggled with acne on my face, chest, neck, and back—so when my dermatologist suggested isotretinoin for the third time (yes, literally the THIRD TIME), I was all too eager to sign on the dotted line.
    I grew up knowing that acne was a likely possibility, as both of my parents struggled with acne as teenagers themselves. My older sister’s skin broke out a few years before mine did, so I knew it was only a matter of time. When I was in seventh grade, my face erupted with painful cystic acne—and I spent an absolutely massive amount of time each day layering makeup on, hoping to disguise my greatest source of shame. While each person and their insecurities are different, I speak for myself (and hopefully other acne sufferers) when I say that I would not wish cystic acne on my worst enemy. I felt betrayed by my body and ashamed of my face—sometimes even turning down sleepover invitations or trips to a friend’s pool, knowing I’d be expected to be makeup-free in front of my friends. In the scheme of problems in this world, I know this is not major—but to a little suburban teenager who was already uncomfortable in her tall and gawky frame, it was an absolute nightmare. (Good God, I wish I could hug that little teenage Abigail and tell her she’d be engaged to a global pop star someday! That’s technically not true yet, but I do think she’d like to know.)

    Wait, what exactly is isotretinoin?
    Good question. Isotretinoin is a naturally occurring derivative of vitamin A. Doesn’t sound familiar? You probably know it as Accutane.
    Note: There are many other brand names for isotretinoin (like Claravis, the one I took), but Accutane is its most common, despite the fact that its manufacturer pulled it back in 2009. In this article, I’ll be referring to the medication by its clinical name.
    Isotretinoin has been known as a controversial drug to take for a few reasons. First of all, its success rate comes with some heavy side effects–which can reportedly include anything from annoying dry lips to serious mental health problems. As Emily Goldberg wrote for The Atlantic, “Since it became FDA-approved to treat acne in 1982, it has also been linked to inflammatory bowel disease, depression, and increased rates of suicide. While studies have not proven that isotretinoin causes these conditions, they remain among the risks of taking the medication.”
    Additionally, becoming pregnant while taking the drug can cause severe birth defects to a fetus—so there are strict rules regarding your birth control while taking it. Those who menstruate are required to commit to two different forms of birth control (for example, both hormonal birth control pills and male latex condoms, among several other options) and to enroll in an online program designed to educate users on the importance of not getting pregnant while taking the drug. All that being said, isotretinoin is still a massively popular option because it’s highly effective at clearing up cystic acne (or, as your dermatologist might call it, “acne vulgaris”—a term that does NOT make a self-conscious teenager feel good).

    Wait… you said you’ve done this multiple times?
    I went on isotretinoin two different times while I was a teenager. The first time, I was in eighth grade, and the drug worked incredibly well—for a time. Given (probably) that I was still a teenager filled with hormones and not yet through puberty, my acne came back with a vengeance. I tried again during my junior year of high school, but was pulled off of it midway through the cycle (about three months in) by my parents and dermatologist due to my declining mental health. This is another article for another day—but I do want to make it clear that I have no idea if my mental health problems were related to the isotretinoin. I’ve struggled with depression and anxiety for many years, and I’m not sure if it would’ve happened regardless. Like I said—that’s a bigger discussion, but it is worth noting. 

    So, why did you do it again?
    I spent most of college blissfully acne-free, but my early 20s were once again plagued with breakouts, extreme scarring, and a lottttt of concealer. By the end of 2019, I was living with my parents, gainfully employed, and covered in cystic acne—not a great Bumble profile, but the great makings of a candidate for the (very expensive) treatment.
    When my dermatologist and I discussed it, I was sold immediately—but knew I needed to be practical. With such extreme possible side effects, the drug was a risk. I was afraid of the same mental health problems I had had nearly 10 years earlier, I was afraid that it wouldn’t work, and I was afraid that it was too expensive. After a lot of discussions with my family, the introduction of a new therapist, and much prayer and deliberation, I decided to begin… which is far easier said than done.

    Given the potential birth defects, it’s notably more difficult for those who have a uterus to go on isotretinoin than it is for those who do not. Before you can fill your prescription, you need to be on birth control for at least a month, and you need to take a negative pregnancy test and a blood test (in addition to the requirements of the online education program—which includes monthly quizzes determining whether or not you’re well-versed in reproductive knowledge). I was cleared to begin in December 2019, but couldn’t fill my prescription until January 2020. 
    And that’s where our story TRULY begins (lol, what have you gotten yourself into?). Here, I share a breakdown of the five months I spent taking isotretinoin every day.

    pre-treatment, wearing lots of makeup; November 2019

    (Yet another note: You would be HARD-PRESSED to find a photo of my face from the side from the last six-ish years. Most of my acne affected the sides of my face, my jawline, and my neck, so I very purposefully avoided profile shots, side angles, or candid looking-off-into-the-distance moments. This photo from November 2019 is the closest thing I have to a “before” picture, thanks to my intense insecurity and desire to hide my skin—you can see that the pimples are clustered, kind of in a line across my face, and cystic (read: under the skin).) Double parentheses!

    Month 1: January
    After my month of new birth control (I have a blood disorder that prevents me from taking certain types of birth control, so this was a minor debacle. Not horrible, but a hurdle worth mentioning) and two negative pregnancy tests, I began my treatment cycle on January 11, 2020. My dermatologist predicted that my treatment cycle would last anywhere from 3-7 months, depending on how well my skin reacted to the drug. 
    Something that I have yet to mention is that isotretinoin is allegedly hard on your liver—so my dermatologist told me that I should have literally zero alcohol throughout the course of my treatment. I love my wine, but I figured it would be easy to give it up in the pursuit of flawless skin. Indeed, the first few weeks WERE easy—I reveled in how well I was sleeping, how much energy I had, and how consistent my workouts felt. I was in the sweet spot—no alcohol, the hope of clear skin, and no side effects yet.
    Side effect tracker: My lips started getting dry, but smooth sailing otherwise!
    Progress tracker: No improvement

    Month 2: February

    the peeling on my face after getting my eyebrows waxed; February 2020

    Ah, the month before coronavirus derailed our lives. I spent February working a lot, fighting the bitter Chicago cold, and missing red wine by the fire. When I went out with my friends, I’d order sparkling water with lime, and I was still relishing the benefits of a sober lifestyle. My skin started getting drier, but I felt like it was improving. Was it really? Hard to tell.
    At the end of February, I got my eyebrows waxed (something that is frowned upon during the isotretinoin cycle, as sensitivity in your skin is obviously heightened) and was given my first interesting effect: a chunk of skin ripped out by the wax. If I’m being perfectly honest, I was relieved—it felt good knowing that SOMETHING was happening within my skin.

    hand dryness, smothered in Vaseline; late February 2020

    Side effect tracker: My hands were dry, scaly, and almost a little swollen (see photo), and I didn’t feel like exercising—but that probably had more to do with the fact that February in Chicago is a little slice of hell and less to do with the fact that I was a few weeks into an invasive drug.
    Progress tracker: Little to no improvement

    Month 3: March
    The month of March 2020 was, as in life around the world as with my acne journey, quite a catalyst. At the beginning of March, I flew to Texas for a close friend’s wedding. While at said wedding, I received a double whammy: the email that our office was closing indefinitely, and the interest of a cute groomsman. This combination of things provided me with the justification I was so desperately seeking to break my streak of sobriety and drink some champagne. I got tipsy VERY quickly.
    In other news, I felt that my skin was beginning to clear up. I sent the following picture to our fashion writer/one of my best friends Maddie, and I marveled that, though still red and noticeable, the texture of my acne was decreasing into flatter blemishes. I was pleased with this progress.

    skin progress; early March 2020

    Side effect tracker: As the weather started to warm up for spring, I was running more—but began noticing increased joint soreness accompanying said workouts. My lips were cracking, and my skin reddened more easily.
    Progress tracker: New pimples felt less frequent, but still scarred aggressively. No improvement in prior scarring–resulting in flatter texture but the same (if not increased due to sensitivity) redness.

    Month 4: April
    At this point, it’s honestly hard to tell what was happening due to an invasive drug eating up my insides vs. what was due to an increasingly horrifying global pandemic. I felt consistently downtrodden with the weight of the world, and my desire to participate in activities I loved weakened. I turned 26 and celebrated with alcohol—something that was (regrettably) growing more consistent in my routine.

    the peeling skin abrasions that showed up in place of breakouts; early April 2020

    This was the first month that my skin was becoming noticeably devoid of breakouts—but in their place came deep “burns” (I’m not sure if that’s what they were—but they were flat, bleeding abrasions that came from picking at and shedding my dry skin) across my cheeks. I had read that this would happen, and it proved to be completely true: I was literally shedding layers of skin.
    During this month’s visit to my dermatologist, we discussed my progress and the likelihood that my treatment would need not be longer than 5 or 6 months. I was most excited for the reemergence of guilt-free alcohol into my life, but I was also ready to feel moisturized again.
    Side effect tracker: The shallow abrasions on my face were unable to be hidden with makeup, and I resorted to covering them up with band-aids to avoid picking at them further. My lips and hands continued to flake, scale, and peel—and no amount of stretching or cooling down could ease the joint pain in my ankles after a run. I woke up stiff and sore every single day.
    Progress tracker: The raised pimples on my face came to a minimum, but an overall redness was left in its place. The scarring formed a kind of a Pangaea on my face—merging into red splotches on my cheeks as opposed to more defined single scars.

    Month 5: May
    My treatment ended in mid-June, and the six weeks leading up to that date were some of the most physically painful I’ve ever experienced. As my dermatologist increased my dosage and the medicine “built up” in my system (that is not medical terminology—I am not a doctor), my skin reached a point of dryness that I genuinely felt I would never recover from. I had a steady regimen of moisturizing products (see below)—and it helped—but the dryness came from within. I was constantly thirsty, tired, and sore. I was frustrated with my running times, I limped when I walked (that is not an exaggeration—my ankles hurt constantly), and my skin was still peeling off. For these six weeks, I could think of little other than that the clear-skinned light at the end of the tunnel. I was THRILLED with my results, but the price with which they came was high. The joint pain was unexpected—I knew it was a likely side effect, but I did not anticipate the level to which it would affect me.

    This is what my skin looked like without makeup on—skin abrasions, but lessened scarring and redness; mid May 2020

    Additionally, this month brought with it more painful, peeling facial abrasions. I used an ill-advised pore strip, and the skin on my nose peeled off in a sheet. I was left with a gaping nose sore for the duration of my treatment. 

    This is what my skin looked like with makeup on—dry, peeling, and caking; mid May 2020

    Side effect tracker: Intense joint pain, facial redness, skin sensitivity, painfully dry lips (like it-hurts-to-even-smile level painful)

    This was when my dryness and pain were at their worst—it felt like I had lost all power over my skin (for better and for worse). You can see the nose peeling in addition to the overall sensitivity and shedding; early June 2020

    Progress tracker: To quote The Fault In Our Stars, my skin cleared the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once. My progress photos from early May show scarring, a few raised bumps, and angry redness—but as the weeks wore on, the scarring and bumps went down, leaving angry red “scrapes” in their place.

    Within just a few weeks of stopping treatment, my skin once again reached a normal level of moisture. I continued use of my mid-treatment skincare products, and one of them (the toner) is, to this day, still in my twice-a-day regimen. Also within weeks, my joints and body felt a lot more comfortable—I started running at a faster pace, and I stopped waking up stiff and sore.

    post-treatment, with light makeup; August 2020

    Yes, my skin cleared up. The skin I have now is skin I didn’t know was possible for me—it’s still scarred (but to a much lighter degree), and it’s now been completely bump-free for almost three months.
    That being said, the physical pain that came with the treatment is not to be understated, and the emotional and psychological risks are nothing to be taken lightly. I prepared for this by choosing to live with my parents (who are well aware of my mental health struggles and kept a close, watchful eye on my behavior) and by committing to a therapist who was also aware of my medical history and current treatment plan. While my situation is unique in that it took place in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic (and therefore it’s difficult to determine what emotional side effects were caused by the medication as opposed to anxiety-inducing current events), the fact remains that the medication took a visible toll on my body. I’m thrilled with the results—but I cannot in good conscience recommend the drug to anyone who may feel physically or emotionally fragile. I sincerely implore anyone who is considering isotretinoin to take the side effects seriously and to passionately discuss options, potential harm, and subsequent action plans with their medical professionals and loved ones.

    post-treatment, with makeup; August 2020

    Since June, my self-confidence has skyrocketed. When I look in the mirror, I see a whole person with great features, as opposed to just a face riddled with acne. For years, I assumed that when people looked at me, they saw nothing but a face full of flaws. Now, I try new makeup looks because I want to, not because I’m covering up. I’m embracing my fashion sense in a fresh way, I’m more interested in dating than I have been since college, and I’m not afraid to go makeup-free on all my Zoom calls.

    post-treatment, without makeup on; September 2020

    While I do know that I am more than my skin and that my acne never defined me, I admit that I allowed myself to forget that all too often. For those who suffer from acne, the simple act of meeting someone new, stepping outside, or standing up in front of a crowd can feel debilitating. Thanks to my treatment plan, a helpful therapist, and my supportive family, I no longer have to live under the weight of my acne. And while that’s exciting—it’s even more exciting to consider all I can do with the time I’ll no longer spend covering up.

    Abigail’s isotretinoin skincare routine
    My dermatologist urged me to use minimal products during my treatment cycle, but encouraged moisturizing agents. I used these products consistently during various phases of my treatment.

    ROSEN Skincare
    Super Smoothie Face Cleanser

    For the most part, I rinsed my face but didn’t use a cleanser (unless I had makeup on, in which case I would double cleanse). When I did use a nighttime cleanser, this is the one I used. It’s lightly exfoliating, which made me feel squeaky clean but not uncomfortably tight.

    First Aid Beauty
    Ultra Repair Wild Oat Hydrating Toner

    I would die for this toner. Unlike what you may think of as an “astringent,” this toner is deeply light and moisturizing. I used it twice a day, every day during treatment and have continued ever since.

    Calming Moisturizing Lotion

    As someone who also struggles with eczema (I am a dermatologist’s dream/nightmare), I stan colloidal oatmeal. This moisturizer is light enough to not feel heavy or greasy, but was hydrating enough to soothe my poor, troubled skin. A little goes a long way, and I’m still using this product now.

    Daily Sunscreen Gel Broad Spectrum SPF 30

    I’ve always known I should be using sunscreen on my face EVERY day, but it took the sensitivity that came with isotretinoin to make me believe it. This SPF is hydrating and brightening yet protective—so I justified the price with the multitasking capabilities (plus, it smells good!).

    Intensive Overnight Hydrating Mask

    This product is UNREAL (and I do not say that lightly, because I’m pretty skeptical when it comes to skincare claims). I applied this product before bed 3-5 nights a week (depending on my dryness levels) and would wake up every subsequent morning with plump, glowing skin. This was the most noticeably moisturizing product I tried, and I used it consistently throughout treatment. It’s a little sticky before bed, so I’d recommend applying it about 20 minutes before you hit the sheets. I have since repurchased—this is going to be my holy grail during the Chicago winter.

    ROSEN Skincare
    Rose Water Face Dew

    When my skin was feeling particularly dry, or when I wanted to “seal in” my moisture, I spritzed this bad boy all over my face. It sounds a little extraneous, but I promise that this hydrating spray made a big difference in my comfort level (and dewiness level).

    Cortibalm Lip Balm

    This is the absolute worst-tasting thing I have ever put on my lips—but in the deepest depths of my dryness, this was also the only thing that could soothe me. I put this on every night before bed (and during miserable moments throughout the day). This is not for people who are like “oh, my lips are kind of dry”—it’s intense enough to calm broken, cracked lips, but the taste and smell are not worth it if you’re not desperate (note: I was desperate). More

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    Two Editors Share Their Unfiltered Thoughts on Fenty Skin

    There are constant new releases in the beauty world. We’re all well aware of “fast fashion,” but “fast beauty” is quickly becoming a new discussion to be had. There are new trends, new palettes, new products, new innovations, new brands, and more—but we’d be lying if we didn’t say we were at least a little bit intrigued for some of them.The first on that list last month was Fenty Skin, Rihanna’s highly sought-after take on skincare following her renowned makeup line, Fenty Beauty. Rihanna launched her line in August 2020 with three products: a cleanser, a toner/serum hybrid, and a moisturizer with SPF. Two of our editors decided to test the products and share their honest thoughts on the line.
    But first, some need-to-know information: Fenty Skin offers free U.S. shipping and free returns up to 60 days after your package is shipped, so if you purchase something and don’t love it (as one of our editors did!), you can easily return with zero added stress. This is genius and makes it so easy to try a product without fear that you’re going to waste your money if you don’t love it. Fenty Skin is also clean, vegan, cruelty-free, and the products are made with sustainability in mind, as the Hydra Visor Moisturizer comes in refillable packaging. Fenty Skin also supports Rihanna’s Clara Lionel Foundation, a non-profit organization supporting education, health, and emergency response all over the world.

    What We Tried

    Let me start by saying: I am a GIANT Rihanna fan. I’ve been a card-carrying member of Rih Rih’s Navy since about 2007, and I have all the albums and concert ticket stubs to prove it. And since I am already obsessed with Rihanna’s makeup line, Fenty Beauty, it seemed only fitting to try out her new Fenty Skin line, too. Spoiler Alert: it was a great decision.
    I was thrilled when the package arrived—partly because everything to do with Rihanna makes me happy, but also because I loved the packaging. It was such a beautiful design, and once I learned that everything was Earth-conscious, I was even more impressed. All the boxes my products were shipped in were fully recyclable and had no excess packaging.
    The Fenty Skin crew used recycled material in most of the bottles, tubes, and jars. And they even incorporated a refillable system on some items. I can’t stress enough how happy all of this made me. I already loved Rihanna, but when I read her quote on the website— “Nobody is perfect, but I really believe we can try our best to do right and we’ll keep evolving as we go”—I felt fulfilled in a way that stretched beyond skincare.
    OK, on to the products. Before I tried anything, I of course watched Rihanna’s skincare routine tutorials on YouTube. Mostly because I love watching Rihanna talk about stuff, but also because I wanted to be sure to use the products correctly. For someone who loves to play in makeup, I unfortunately have not developed a regular skincare routine, so some of this was new for me.
    After watching Rihanna’s video, I felt confident and ready to go. I must say… nothing was as easy for me as it was for Rihanna! (Which makes sense.) Still, the products were all easy to use, mostly due to the design and packaging of each of the bottles. I loved the ability to easily twist open each tube and get to the product using only one hand. This really made things simple while washing my face in the shower.
    As a person who is always on-the-go (mostly from Zoom to Zoom these days, but still), I really appreciated the thought that went into making these products multifunctional and efficient. Each of the products I tried out served two functions. First was the Total Cleans’r, which was not only a facial cleanser, but also a makeup remover. I used this cleanser right after a hard workout when I was super sweaty, dirty, grimy, etc. It cleaned my face very well, getting rid of all the dirt and grime. I didn’t even wipe my sweat off first! I especially enjoyed using this product in the mornings, because it would wake my face up, leaving it feeling refreshed, soft, and clear.
    I will say, though, that when I tried this cleanser to remove a full face of makeup, I had to use it a couple times and work a bit harder to get everything removed. There were some areas that were tricky to get to without the ease/mobility of a makeup wipe, for example. Still, I felt this product did a good job of cleaning my face and turning it into a blank slate for whatever was coming next.
    And what came next was probably my favorite product in the bunch: Fat Water. I loved the unique texture of this Pore-Refining Toner Serum, which was liquidy but also kind of soft—almost like a thinned-out gel. Looking at it, I thought it would be sticky, but it was not sticky at all. On to what’s really important: I loved the way my skin looked after using this product! I will say that I did not have the “instantly absorbed” experience that Rihanna described in her video, but the more I tried it, the closer I got to finding the exact amount to use and absorb relatively easily into my skin. And even after just a week of using the product, I noticed subtle changes in my usual dark spots. My face was bright and smooth after each use without feeling dried out. I’ve used several products that make my face feel tight, but this one was the opposite!
    Finally, I tried the Hydra Vizor Moisturizer, which is also an SPF 30 Sunscreen. This was a very cool product and will likely work well for anyone who is looking to both moisturize their skin but also be prepared for the possibility of being exposed to sunlight throughout the day. This product did have more fragrance than the others, which I think was probably to mask the sunscreen smell. (Because who likes walking around smelling like sunscreen all day?). I absolutely did not get this feel when using this product. I was also very excited about the fact that this product was made intentionally to complement different skin types, complexions, etc. In her tutorial, Rihanna specifically talked about how she didn’t get any white “cast” when using this product… well, unfortunately, I did. But it went away after I rubbed it in well. After some time, the shine turned into “moisturized.” You could maybe even call it the Rihanna glow…
    When using all three products, my face felt light, hydrated, and ridiculously soft. I had a Zoom date with a friend after my skincare routine one day, and she complimented my skin, describing it as “dewy.” I wasn’t quite sure what it meant, but I attributed it to the glow. I also liked using these products before bed, because it wasn’t too long of a process; plus, after using the products at night, my skin felt delightfully soft and smooth in the morning.

    Overall, I loved these products! As a busy mom, wife, writer, PhD candidate, AND nonprofit director, I appreciated the functionality. And as someone who—unfortunately—does not have a standing skincare routine, these products were easy to use, and the routine was fast to figure out. For people with a standing skincare routine, this might even seem “too easy.” For me, that was a big plus. I used these products as a part of my morning routine and it only added an additional 10 minutes, if that. And my face was primed and ready to go if I decided to then put on makeup—which, by the way, my makeup looked awesome going on after using Fenty Skin! Since I don’t spend much time in the sun these days, I might do without the moisturizer, but otherwise, I definitely plan to continue using these products. They gave me a confidence and glow that made me feel ready to join Rihanna on the yacht for the afternoon.
    Seriously, Rihanna… I’m ready to join you on the yacht. Have your people call my people. 

    Rihanna needs no introduction, but my absolute obsession with her might. I’ve loved her since I first heard “Don’t Stop the Music”—or was it “Shut Up and Drive?”—but her music is honestly secondary to my affinity for her. I am not being dramatic when I say this, but I would do just about anything for Rihanna. I have a print of Rihanna on my living room wall, I wrote my first-ever beauty story for The Everygirl about her (baby me!), and I place in the top category of women I aspire to be in life. She’s fun, hilarious, smart, strong, and kind to boot—and we haven’t even discussed her ever-popular beauty line yet. Fenty Beauty is at the helm of the beauty industry for me. From her iconic foundation launch to the Cheeks Out blush and bronzer collection that practically broke the Sephora website a few months ago to the mascara I refuse to ever live without, her beauty brand has become one of the biggest names in the industry. 
    A natural next step had to be skincare. With the “skin first” approach taking over from heavy, matte foundations in the last few years, it makes sense that Rihanna would want to promote healthy, hydrated, protected skin before applying your makeup. I was elated to try her brand the second I heard it was launching. I love her makeup, so of course, I’ll love her skincare. The response wasn’t exactly that simple. 
    The first thing I need to discuss is the scent. Rihanna says the product only contains 1 percent fragrance, but that 1 percent is as strong as all hell. If fragrance in beauty products upsets your skin, you will not like this. I noticed that the scent is actually ever-so-slightly different in each product. The cleanser and toner have the most, and the scent is very vanilla. Think Warm Vanilla Sugar by Bath and Body Works. The moisturizer/SPF is a little less vanilla-y and more “beauty product” to me, and the scent isn’t as strong; however, it stayed on my skin for HOURS. When I use that moisturizer, it’s like I’m wearing a really distinct perfume for hours. As I type this, I can smell that moisturizer on my skin. So, take this as a caution that if you hate scented products—these are a doozy. 
    First up, the cleanser. This is a really thick cream consistency that lathers up A LOT when you add water. If I’m being completely honest, it feels like you’re rubbing a Bath and Body Works Shower Gel all over your face. The cream is so thick that it feels good going on your face, and you’d think it’d be quite hydrating, but my face felt so dry once I rinsed it off. This is definitely my least favorite product in the line. If you’re looking for a great, cream cleanser that hydrates your skin and doesn’t leave it feeling tight, our editors (including me!) swear by CeraVe’s Hydrating Cleanser. 
    The Fat Water Toner/Serum Hybrid was the first product I picked up. The name intrigued me (I mean, come on, “Fat Water”? Genius), and I liked the idea that it was both a toner and a serum, eliminating one step from my skincare routine. Upon first impression, I loved the texture. It’s truly a hybrid; it has a water-y consistency that thickens up into a serum on your face. I squeeze a little bit into the palm of my hand and pat into my skin. I really enjoyed this product, but the scent is so overpowering that it infringed upon my joy of using it. I also didn’t notice it doing really anything that it said. This product is supposed to refine pores and reduce dark spots, and I noticed none of that. Did it make my skin look absolutely atrocious? No, but it didn’t really do much. I actually noticed my pores were quite clogged, as pictured here (shoutout to my iPhone camera quality for capturing my skin at this gorgeous level): 

    After a few uses though, I noticed the Fat Water was breaking me out. I started getting little bumps under my eyes that I’ve never gotten before, and little pustules (arguably the worst word in the English language) all over my forehead. Once I stopped using this product, they went away. I was a little bummed because I enjoyed the way it made my skin look when I used it in the morning. Unlike many reviews, the witch hazel in the product didn’t make my skin feel dry; it actually did quite the opposite. 

    I won’t lie and say this was the “worst” my skin has ever looked, but I had a lot more redness and little acne spots than normal. 

    The last product I tried was actually my favorite of the trio: the Hydra Visor Moisturizer. I’m always on the search for a nice moisturizer to use in the morning before SPF and makeup, and this fit the bill quite well! This has a lightweight consistency that blends into the skin easily. I don’t feel like I have to rub it into my skin with intense vigor to get it to soak in, which is a plus for a product with SPF in it. I also love the glow it gives to my skin; it lasts all day long under my makeup, almost enough to barely need highlighter (LOL, but of course I still add it). 

    I brought this to the lake last weekend, and my friend who has pretty fair skin tried it, and she had to apply something a little thicker by midday because it wasn’t protecting her against a sunburn. So, don’t go into this thinking it’ll be your savior against a hot summer day in the sun; the sun protection is just enough for sitting next to my window or going for a walk.
    As for the trio, I think they work well together, but I wouldn’t repurchase unless Fenty Skin decided to remove the fragrance down the line. It really hinders the experience; instead of focusing on good the products are for my skin, I’m thinking about when I slathered my body in Warm Vanilla Sugar body butter before the Jonas Brothers concert in eighth grade thinking one of them would fall in love with me as I sat in the 300 section of a gigantic arena. When I use all three products, I do certainly feel like a glowy goddess, but it doesn’t make up for the fragrance and the way my skin has responded to them.

    A completely makeup-free selfie after I used all three products back-to-back. If this glowy look is selling you anything, it should 100 percent the moisturizer because all the glow on my face is coming from that—if you can handle the scent, it’s a winner! More

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    The $10 Foundation That Replaced My High-End Ones

    Of my guiltiest of guilty pleasures, the top two are 1. watching reruns of Dance Moms and 2. spending money on expensive makeup that I don’t need.Since the years that the only money I had to spend was cash I made from babysitting my neighbors’ kids, I relished walking into a Sephora and buying something new to put on my face the second I got home. And the thing I’ve always loved to buy the most? Foundations.
    I have been a high-end foundation addict for years and years. I’m a consumerism sucker, and every time a new one is released that sounds like something I’d like, I convince myself that it will change my life and make me look a goddess. Inevitably, I usually like them, get sick of them, and then repeat the cycle again a couple of months later. The things I look for in a foundation are dewy coverage that helps my dry skin appear more hydrated (and that doesn’t stick to any dry spots), a light-medium coverage, and wear that stays looking natural all day. My all-time holy grail is the Nars Natural Radiant Longwear Foundation, and my winner of 2020 thus far has been the Bite Beauty Changemaker Supercharged Micellar Foundation (I wear the shades “Figi” and “L40,” respectively).
    Quarantine has made me consume endless beauty videos on YouTube, which is how I stumbled upon my newest obsession. I was watching one of my favorite YouTuber’s (and fellow Chicagoan), Dacey Cash‘s videos when she mentioned a new drugstore foundation that she said was one of her favorites of the year. The year! She put it on as she explained that it keeps her skin looking skin-like, but in a way that she just got a facial, and when I saw her glowing, glorious complexion when she was done, I knew I needed it.

    L’Oreal’s Age Perfect Radiant Serum Foundation is described as “a carefully formulated foundation for mature skin, made with vitamin B3 and hydrating serum. It provides lightweight coverage while also being suitable for sensitive skin.” Granted, I don’t have mature skin, but every other part of the description hits the nail on the head for me: hydrating, lightweight, and suited for sensitive skin.
    I ran to a few stores around me trying to find it, and after I couldn’t find it anywhere in Chicago, ordered a bottle on Amazon and waited two painstakingly long days for my Prime order to arrive—but when it did, my foundation world turned upside down.

    Here I’m wearing the shade “Golden Vanilla”

    This foundation comes out of the tube in a watery, serum-like texture. I applied it to my face with a damp sponge, and it melted into my skin and left a radiant, dewy finish that had evened out all my imperfections but looked like skin. The foundation wasn’t detectable at all, but also managed to perfect any blemishes and redness I wanted to cover—like magic. It also stayed in place all day long—even after multiple mask-clad dog walks.
    I keep my favorite foundations on top of my vanity, and whatever I reach toward every day is truly instinctively what I like the most—and every time I’ve done my makeup since I got this foundation, it’s the one I find myself reaching for (over foundations I have that are 5x the price). Both on days that I’m just working from home and want to look put-together and days where I’m leaving the house and wearing real clothes, I’m able to use this foundation to get the skin I want. It can be built up while remaining lightweight and undetectable and leaves your skin looking like your real skin 100 percent of the time. It’s—dare I say—my perfect foundation, and after having it for going on two months, I haven’t felt the need to explore anything new. After my endless searching, I found a foundation that I actually feel committed to, and lo and behold, it costs less than what I spend getting lunch delivered.  More

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    This New Probiotic Skincare Completely Transformed Our Skin

    Some people love to talk about books; some are obsessed with sharing their favorite playlists; others have a favorite recipe to hand out at all times. But if you asked our three editors—Beth, Bianca, and Maddie—beauty is our thing. We love to dish out our favorite products, talk about trends, give recommendations (and take them just as much—often from each other), and try new things. And one of the most common amongst us is skincare. All three of us have different skin types and concerns, from acne-prone to sensitive to oily, but we all have a few common goals in our skincare: it has to be clean, cruelty-free, at least somewhat affordable, and easy to use. So when we saw Beekman 1802 launch at Ulta, it was a clear fit. Our three beauty-obsessed editors gave Beekman 1802’s probiotic skincare line a try to see how it fit into our daily skincare—and these products have become new staples in all of our routines. Read on for our favorite products, how they’ve transformed our skin, and why we all can’t stop recommending this line.

    available at ULTA Beauty

    I was one of the first girls in my class to get boobs, just as I was the first to start getting acne. My hormones have always been a little wacko—thanks, endometriosis!—but I’ve had a hard time finding the right skincare routine for me. I’ve tried expensive creams, recommendations from dermatologists, and every drugstore favorite you’ll ever see, and while some worked and some didn’t, I had the hardest time creating a routine. I’d try a cleanser, get excited about it for a few weeks, and then be over it and try something else. (Not to mention, I had a major issue with drinking a little too much and falling asleep with my makeup on—I know, you have permission to take my beauty-lover license.) 
    Then, the world imploded, and I had nothing to do every night but figure out my skin. I finally had enough of breakouts, dry cheeks, an oily T-zone, and blackheads beyond abandon. So, I hopped on a call with my dermatologist and created a routine that I knew I could stick to. After months of this, I was really excited to add some new products in. I write about beauty products for a living—it’s not feasible for me to use the exact same products every single day and not try anything new. When Beekman 1802 launched at Ulta, it sounded like the perfect fit.
    It can be frightening to add new products to your routine, but I was thrilled to try Beekman 1802 because their products are Clinically Kind—meaning they’re clean, safe, and cruelty-free so you can enjoy good skin without worrying about what’s in your products. I get nervous that a new product will disrupt the rest of my routine or will break me out, but these are filled with probiotic ingredients that help balance your skin’s microbiome (the community of both good and bad bacteria).
    Out of the line, I’ve identified three hero products that have completely transformed my skincare routine. In the morning, my main focus is on hydration. I wear lots of makeup, so I like to make my skin look as good as possible first so my makeup goes on evenly and smoothly. 
    My #1 product in the lineup is the Bloom Cream Probiotic Moisturizer. It’s made with a triple-milk complex (a core ingredient in all of Beekman 1802’s products) that hydrates and soothes irritated, sensitive skin. Whether you were born with rosy red cheeks or love to use retinol or acids (me me me), many of us have sensitive, reactive skin every now and then that needs a little extra something to calm down redness and balance the skin. Bloom Cream is also formulated with Epsom salts, aloe leaf extract, chamomile flower extract, and cucumber extract—all ingredients that are known to calm irritated skin. I use this product before SPF every morning, and I’ve noticed a major difference in how radiant my skin looks and how soft and smooth it feels all day. I’ve actually been skipping foundation lately because my skin already looks healthy and radiant thanks to this product. 

    no makeup, just Bloom Cream 😍

    My acne-prone skin really needs a salicylic acid wash in the evening, but I like something that will gently remove any acids or oils from the night before without drying out my skin in the morning. The Milk Wash Exfoliating Jelly Cleanser has become my absolute new favorite. I love the texture; it comes out like a jelly, but as you rub it into your skin with a little bit of water, it turns into a milky consistency that leaves your skin ulta-hydrated. This is the first cleanser I’ve ever tried that makes my skin feel soft and hydrated after I use it with absolutely no tightness, but my combination skin also loves that it contains a few acids to gently exfoliate. Made with lactic acid (a great natural acid gentle for all skin types), glycolic acid, salicylic acid, and malic acid, this cleanser combines a light exfoliation with goat milk (a cornerstone of all of Beekman 1802’s products) and milk probiotics to soothe tired, irritated skin in the morning. I’ve also tried it in the evening and loved it too; it’s great at removing any excess makeup after I use an oil-cleanser. But I love how soft and supple my skin feels when I use it with the Bloom Cream in the mornings. 
    Like I’ve said too many times to count, I’m known to cover my face in makeup: glitter, eyeshadow, blush, bronzer—the whole nine yards. So at night, I focus on deeply cleansing my skin to make sure I’m not going to sleep with any makeup on. This has had the biggest impact on my skin, especially breakouts. Right now, Beekman 1802’s Buttermilk Makeup Melting Cleansing Balm is my go-to. I love a cleansing balm—it’s perfect for taking off waterproof mascara, bright eyeshadows, liquid lipsticks, blush stains, and my favorite this summer, all that sunscreen you applied all day. But this one is special in my routine because it uses all of those same ingredients I love in the Bloom Cream—aloe leaf extract, chamomile flower extract, and cucumber extract, goat milk, and milk probiotics—to calm sensitive skin, which I love at bedtime. The other great thing about this product is that it never gets stuck in my eyelashes or gives me cloudy vision—if you know, you know.

    I like to think of skincare as my thing. Ask me about a specific ingredient, and I can give you a product recommendation. Ask me about a face mask that does just what it claims it will, I’ve got you. Though I like to think I’m pretty well-versed on skincare, my skin is far from perfect. For everything from my hormonal breakouts to the hyperpigmentation aftermath, I’m always trying new things and learning about new and cleaner ingredients (and just trying to have a good skin day at least once a week.)
    I typically like to keep my tried-and-true products in rotation with little deviation from my routine, because the moment I add anything new, my skin will give me a visible, “Now, why did you do that?” With my negative experiences at the forefront of my mind, I was a little nervous about Beekman 1802. However, as I looked into their mission and ingredients, I felt a little less apprehensive. One of Beekman 1802’s key ingredients is goat milk. Now, if someone had told me I was going to be using milk from a goat on my face, I would have given them a firm side-eye. But here we are.   
    Since goat milk is rich in fatty acids and high in vitamin A, your skin is in excellent, moisturizing, exfoliating hands. Probiotic skincare can also be beneficial for those with skin conditions like eczema and rosacea. When it was time for me to give this a try, my skin was going through one of its breakout moments. I still can’t pin down what caused it. However, one thing I know that my irritated, breakout-prone skin always benefits from moisture. With my skincare history in mind, I switched out my foaming cleanser for a jelly cleanser I know calms my skin. Then, I added the Beekman 1802 Milk Foam Calming Bubble Mask to my routine.
    I learned from a dermatologist that you should never throw out your entire skin routine and start with something new. Instead, it’s best to add one new product at a time to ensure your skin doesn’t react negatively to that new product. On the off chance that your skin doesn’t mesh with the new product, you’ll know what the culprit is and can eliminate it. I applied a couple of pumps of the bubble mask to my skin. My experience was sensory overload in the best way.

    As the foam started to show up on my skin, I could feel the sensation too. We all love a fun mask, right? I left it on for 20 minutes, rinsed it away, and followed up with the Milk Drops. Like I said before, I am usually leary about trying new skincare products. But again, the ingredients sold me. Ceramides? Check. Squalane? We love to see it. Hyaluronic acid? Please and thank you. These are the trifecta of ingredients the skin needs to keep the skin barrier protected, hydrated, and plump. 
    I used the dropper to pinch a few drops of product on to my skin and patted it gently. What I liked about this product is how nice it played with my vitamin C serum and tinted moisturizer. The drops didn’t cause any peeling, which I was honestly expecting. The other plus was neither of these products caused any new breakouts. My skin also felt less irritated and looked healthy, even though I was dealing with an active breakout.
    I can’t say these new products gave me perfect skin after adding them to my routine, but what I can say for sure is the calming face mask and milk drops helped my skin start to look and feel like itself again because of the gentle, calming ingredients. I suggest those with sensitive, reactive skin give Beekman 1802 products a try, because it’s nice to reach for a calming product at the first sign of irritation without fear of making matters worse. 

    Over the past few years, my skin and I have been on quite the journey. I’ve never really struggled with acne, but I’ve dealt with just about everything that comes with having ultra-sensitive skin: redness, endless dryness, and what feels like constant irritation.
    But sensitivity aside, my biggest skin concern is my struggle with perioral dermatitis, a rash that I get around my mouth for a reason I’ve yet to figure out. Long story short, perioral dermatitis can be inflamed by just about anything, so I have to be very, very careful about the products I use. Striking a balance between effective skincare that doesn’t irritate my skin can be a struggle—but that’s where Beekman 1802 comes in. 
    Adding new products into my routine can be scary for me, since more often than not, knowing what’s going to irritate my skin versus what isn’t is a shot in the dark. But once I heard about Beekman 1802’s Clinically Kind™ products, I knew the formulas would be safe for someone with skin like mine. Since my skin is so dry and prone to rash flare-ups, one of the things I prioritize most in my skincare is making sure my skin’s natural barrier isn’t compromised in any way (something that can happen from use of acids and harsh active ingredients). Beekman 1802’s products are transformative without stripping my skin like other products do, and have left me with my healthiest-looking skin to date.

    The best product I’ve tried for my skin in 2020 is the Milk Drops Probiotic Ceramide Serum. Milk Drops are packed with ceramides, squalane, hyaluronic acid, and plant enzymes to invigorate dull skin. Usually I’m so preoccupied with avoiding irritating my skin that anything beyond that is a bonus to me, but the Milk Drops have completely transformed my skin for the better. They have helped my skin’s hydration deeper than the surface—my skin feels healthy from the inside out, rather than like I just have a product sitting on top of it. My skin’s overall appearance has gone from dull to radiant, and the Milk Drops actually soothe any irritation—something I’ve found extremely hard to find in a product. 
    The hardest part of my skin’s irritation is that I struggle to find products that actually help it—I’ve always just waited out flare-ups with a bare-minimum skincare routine until it passes. Beekman 1802’s Milk Foam Bubble Calming Mask is a soothing mask that’s meant to calm and cool redness—an absolute dream for someone like me. The first time I used this mask, I was quite literally speechless. After I put it on, it bubbled up into an airy, foamy texture, and when I rinsed it off 20 minutes later, there was a noticeable difference. All sights of redness had diminished, and my skin felt soft and hydrated and calm—three words I normally would never use to describe it. This has quickly become a skincare staple for me; I’ve been using it three times a week, and it’s helped me avoid any major skin disasters. I no longer feel like I need to fear my skin or risk irritation to make a noticeable change in it.

    This post is sponsored by Beekman 1802, but all of the opinions within are those of The Everygirl editorial board. More

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    August Empties: Honest Thoughts on The Products Our Team Finished This Month

    We’re big fans of the YouTube Beauty Community here at The Everygirl. We’re constantly talking about our favorite creators, their best looks, and buying pretty much everything they recommend. The YouTube beauty world is honestly what we have to thank for some of the biggest trends in beauty—we’d never be baking our undereyes or curling our hair with straighteners or using men’s post-shave balm as a primer if it weren’t for the beauty YouTubers who taught us how. Alongside the various techniques YouTube has taught us, the phenomenon of the ever-so-popular “empties video” has truly taken over our subscription feeds. Every beauty YouTuber has made an empties video (if not five), and everyone who even knows just a glimpse of beauty YouTube has seen one. The concept is simple: show everyone what’s in your trash and talk about if you loved it, if you’ll buy it again, and how long it took you to use up. 
    So being the beauty-lovers we are at TEG HQ, we decided to create our own empties series. Every month, all of our editors will share a few of our own empties—from skin, hair, and makeup products to candles and vitamins and home items—and give our unfiltered review on each of the products. Some of them we’ll love and need to repurchase ASAP … and some we’ll celebrate finally finishing them up. If you’ve ever wondered what our absolute favorites (and not-so-favorites) are, this is the right place to be. It’s finally time for our trash cans to shine!

    The Ordinary
    Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution

    Ladies and gents, I’ve done it: I’ve finally found the toner of my dreams. I use it every morning and night after cleansing/before my serums. It feels cooling and gentle but packs a punch for mildly exfoliating, moisturizing, and improving my skin’s texture. I’m a huge fan and will most definitely be buying again! Also, it’s incredibly affordable which makes repurchasing a no-brainer for me.

    Don’t Despair, Repair! Deep Conditioning Hair Mask

    When Briogeo first launched at Sephora, I snagged a mini set of their two cult-favorite products: this deep conditioner and their scalp scrub. I used both of them up and bought this full-size before I even finished the mini. I’ve now had this for almost two years and just finally finished it (AKA if the price freaks you out, trust me: it lasts FOREVER). I have fine, thin, short-to-medium length hair that has never benefitted from a deep conditioner. Everything is too thick and goopy, causing my hair to look greasy and heavy (and I’m not talking normal greasy—I’m talking my ends look like they did when I was 11 and didn’t know how to properly remove conditioner from my hair in the shower). This changed everything (I know, a little dramatic, but hear me out). I use this once a week all through my hair for about 10 minutes, and it leaves my hair soft and hydrated without any oil build-up. My hair feels stronger when I’m using this. I am a sucker for new things, so my plan is to try their new Be Gentle, Be Kind Avocado and Kiwi Hair Mask next. But if I don’t love that one, I will definitely go back to this.

    Glow Maker Serum

    I have a few products in my life that I’m utterly obsessed with and will always talk about on The Everygirl: my Elysium Naturals Body Butter, Milk Makeup Kush Mascara, and now this vitamin C serum. I wrote an entire review of this product a few months ago, but I’ll give you a short gist of why I love it and why I immediately repurchased when I even got close to the bottom. Once I finally started getting my acne under control, I went pretty hard trying to get rid of my scarring, and I saw this was a cult-favorite on Reddit. I immediately noticed my skin looked glowy and plump, which was enough to make me not even care if it did anything for my acne scars because my skin already looked so good. But as I continued using it every single day with my sunscreen, I really started seeing a difference. My scars aren’t completely gone, but they’re fading, and any time I get a new spot, the scar is much less noticeable than before. It’s easy-peasy to use, and I love it so much that I’ve entirely built my morning skincare routine around it. No matter your skin type or skin concerns, you can benefit from having a vitamin C in your routine, and I highly, highly, HIGHLY recommend this one.

    Coconut Deodorant

    I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not all that keen on clean beauty. I wish I cared about it more, but I just don’t. Maybe when I’m older and mature and have my sh*t together. But for right now, I’ll take a few toxins here and there. However, I do have underarms that get irritated easily, especially from anything that contains baking soda. I have a hereditary skin condition called Hidradenitis Suppurativa (usually HS for short) with which I get painful bumps under the skin when my sweat glands get clogged or irritated (sexy!), and it can happen under my arms sometimes if I’m not being careful about the deodorant I use. I tried about three different kinds of baking soda-free deodorants before this one, and without a doubt, this is the best. It goes on clear and smooth and never burns (does this happen to anyone else?), and the best part: it lasts for hours and hours. I am absolutely petrified of smelling bad, and I never have to worry that sweat or B.O. will come through with this on. I’ve found that natural deodorants are a really personal choice, but if you’ve tried everything else and all have failed you, give this one a go.

    First Aid Beauty
    KP Bump Eraser Body Scrub with 10% AHA

    I’ve had KP (Keratosis Pilaris) for as long as I can remember, and had tried way too many scrubs which never seemed to give me any tangible-enough results in reducing the redness and bumpiness on my skin. Then this baby walked into my life, and I was never the same. Real talk, the smell isn’t the greatest (I’m a Taurus—we’re hypersensitive to this stuff), but that is the LEAST of my concerns when a product works this well. I use it twice a week in the shower while I’m deep conditioning my hair, and scrub it on the back of my arms and sides of my legs (my main KP-affected spots). The consistency is almost like wet, gritty sand, and it honestly feels so satisfying to apply. After rinsing, the texture of my skin is baby-soft, and it actually sustains the moisture for days. Already repurchased!

    The Body Wash

    At first, the minimal-chic packaging was what caught my attention. Then, I read about how this body wash is made from plant-derived ingredients, scented using essential oils, and pH-balanced for our skin and went “yes, yes, come hither.” I gotta say, I absolutely loved the feel of this. It went on as a gel and lathered quite nicely, and gave me that squeaky-clean feeling I always crave from a successful shower without stripping my skin of any moisture. I also adored the fresh eucalyptus scent, which was light and subtle (NOTE: this also comes in bergamot, sandalwood, and unscented). My only qualm with this is that I wish there were more of it; I used it up in about a month and was really sad to squeeze out the final few drops! Will I be repurchasing? Definitely—but I’ll wait for the cooler months when I’m not showering multiple times a day.

    Immersion Serum Concentrate

    KLUR’s Immersion Serum Concentrate is one of the best hydrating serums I’ve tried. My sensitive skin drinks this up without any irritation. Not to mention it’s packed with good stuff like vitamins C, B5, and E to help brighten, hydrate, and protect the skin’s barrier.

    Paula’s Choice
    Hyaluronic Acid Booster

    My friend and I were recently talking about how now is the time to take better care of our skin, and she introduced me to Paula’s Choice. I love that their philosophy is smart, safe beauty, so the products are cruelty-free and non-irritating. I really don’t use a lot of skincare products but I’ve heard great things about hyaluronic acid, so I ordered the Booster to try it out. I love how my skin instantly feels so fresh and hydrated after I use it. The Booster has quickly became a part of my daily routine and I’ll definitely order it again!

    Stroke of Brilliance Brightening Serum

    I’ve tried a lot of Vitamin C serums in my day (gotta get that glow!), but no product has been as glow-worthy as this brightening serum from Versed. Not only is this product totally clean, cruelty-free, vegan, and good for just about any skin type, it’s loaded with ingredients like licorice root and vitamin B3 to brighten skin, reduce the appearance of discoloration, and prevent aging. Oh, and did I mention it’s under $20 and lasts for months? I saw effects immediately, even compared to the other vitamin C serums I have on my skincare shelf. You best believe I’ll be stocking up again (and won’t think twice about it since it’s so affordable!).

    ROSEN Skincare
    Rose Water Face Dew

    I never really got the hype about face mists—until I tried this one. ROSEN Skincare is my absolute favorite skincare brand—and with good reason. This mist leaves you with the most stunning glow (not to mention all-day moisture). It’s the perfect little pick-me-up in the middle of the day, or it works well to seal in the rest of your products at the end of your morning or evening skincare routine. (It’s currently available at Nordstrom, but it’s cheaper to buy it directly from ROSEN!)

    Extra Virgin Coconut Oil Moisturizing Cream

    When I was younger, my mom always told me to moisturize, moisturize, moisturize, and let me tell you, ever since then I’ve been particular with my moisturizers. I was always a die-hard Cetaphil girl (still am at night time) but those mornings that I’m craving a glowing, moisturized face with the divine smell of coconut I use this. I tend to use it in the mornings after I rinse off my face and sometimes my body if I’m feeling it. The best part is that it keeps me moisturized all day long with no oily feeling on my face, it lasts me MONTHS and I usually buy one every time I’m at Sam’s club because it ALWAYS sells out, but it’s also currently available at Walmart, Amazon, and The Vitamin Shoppe. I’m no Hyram (Tik Tok fans) but if you love coconut and you’re looking for a healthy, moisturized glow, you need this!


    Pacific Sunrise Ultra Hydrating Shea Sugar Scrub

    YouTube is usually where I find new products to try out, and after a skincare product roundup from one of my favorite YouTubers, I decided to give a new exfoliant a try: Tree Hut Pacific Sunrise Shea Sugar Scrub in Japanese Yuzu. I usually don’t exfoliate every day in the shower since most exfoliators are meant to be used sparingly on skin, but this scrub was safe to use on almost a daily basis, as the beads are small and not rough on sensitive areas of the body. This scrub is also thick enough to lather on very generously and rinse off without any residue, leaving you with more than enough product to last some time. This affordable scrub is now a part of my new daily shower regimen.

    Mindful Mineral Soak

    If you’re like me, you’ve probably gone through quite a few quarantine phases. There was baking. There was a moment with excessive daily walks around the neighborhood. There was even a period where we really thought things would get back to normal and we’d all take $49 flights to Paris.
    Currently, I am soaking up (see what I did there?) the bubble bath period of quarantine. At the end of a long day, I love to light a candle, turn on a relaxing playlist, and unwind with Equilibria’s CBD bath salt. It smells fantastic and I have really noticed a difference compared to my other soaking tinctures. I find that I sleep better and feel more energized for my morning workout. Equilibria also has bath bombs, but I love the ability to control the amount with the salts.

    Living Proof
    Perfect Hair Day Shampoo

    I will sing this shampoo’s praises until I can’t anymore. I love it. I love it. I love it. I always buy the value size, which initially feels like a big investment but actually saves you quite a bit of money and lasts forever. Whenever Sephora has one of their seasonal sales, I try to snag a bottle so I can save even more. The formula doesn’t feel too heavy on my hair and adds just a touch of natural volume. I’m truly in a LTR with this shampoo.

    Living Proof
    Restore Repair Hair Mask

    While COVID kept me away from my favorite hairdresser, I found myself looking for a product that would help bring some luster and shine to my locks. A friend recommended this mask to me after it helped her completely revitalize her over-bleached mane. While I love Living Proof and saw the difference it made for my blonde friend, I don’t think it was worth the splurge for me. Because my hair wasn’t damaged, I didn’t benefit from it the same way she did.
    After finishing this, I realized that if shine was all I was after, I could go a much more budget-friendly route. I’m now using this Shea Butter Hair Mask for about 1/5th of the price and I am in love. Plus, my hair smells like the Hawaiian vacation I’m desperate to take.
    Moral of the story? If your hair is damaged and in need of serious repair, splurge on Living Proof. If you’re only looking for moisture and shine, save your hard-earned dollars and go drugstore.

    Texturizing Hair Spray

    This is another of my holy grail products I just can’t quit. It does the best work when you’re trying to revitalize day two hair. The formula absorbs oil and refreshes your ends, acting like a dry shampoo of sorts. The finished product is a tossled and voluminous texture while effortlessly holding your style. No stiff crinkly bits—just natural hold. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

    Juliette Has a Gun
    Not A Perfume Spray

    Full confession: I bought this because it was cool and trending. What can I say? I can’t resist being part of the conversation. But I never expected I would be forcing the cap off to get every last drop out. This not-a-perfume-but-is-a-perfume is cozy and faint; perfect for someone who doesn’t want an overpowering scent. I’ve already repurchased in the bigger size.

    Want more empties? Check out the previous months below! More