Sunday, March 1, 2015

{the better OCM} Oil Cleansing Method

Writing out my skin-care regime (again!) in response to a lot of recent requests!

For nearly 2 years, I've been following a skin-cleansing method called the Oil Cleansing Method, or OCM.

After more than a decade of struggling with deep, painful, cystic-type acne, finding something that actually worked was a God-send.

It doesn't matter how much self-confidence you have, the way you look matters to some degree. And while I had become used to this acne struggle throughout junior high, high school, and college, I was always on the look out for something to help. I would tell myself, my mom, and my doctors the same thing. I never expected to have perfect skin. But if I could find a way to manage my acne or decrease it in someway, I'd be happy.

As you can read in my previous post, I tried everything. Topical gels and creams, oral medications, birth control, Proactiv, hormone testing, every different cleansing system you could find at Walmart....even Accutane.

The topical stuff just dried out my skin.
The oral meds didn't seem to make much of a difference.
Birth control gave me mood swings and I questioned it's impact on my future fertility.
Proactiv ended up giving me their money-back guarantee.
Hormone tests all came back normal.
Cleansing systems never really did anything but dry out my skin.
Accutane seemed to help....for awhile. But there's something funky about a medication that effectively shuts off your body's natural oil production. Also, the pregnancy warning was freaky.

I had mostly given up hope. I wondered if my acne would follow me all the way to the nursing home. My purple scarring had become severe enough that I refused to leave the house without makeup.

Then, on Pinterest (where else?), I read about the OCM. 

The thought process behind using oil to wash your face begins with the concept is that oil dissolves oil. By using "purifying" and "cleansing" products on your skin, the dirt, oil, and grime isn't being removed from your skin. Also, using drying washes can cause your skin to produce more oil. The skin is self-cleaning, but when we strip it of oil, the natural reaction is for it to produce MORE oil. Using oil to "wash" your skin helps restore it's natural healthiness, and over time can even out it's composition.

I tried the OCM for awhile with a Castor Oil/EVOO combo....aaaand hated how my skin never felt clean. This combo left a film on my face and my makeup seemed to just slide off.

Then I was told about Coconut Oil and tried that with the same original method described in my first post.

And it worked! My acne cleared up (once it became used to the oil) and my skin, while still occasionally oily, is basically "normal". I needed to implement the use of a baking soda + lemon juice scrub to take care of bumpy oil build-up on my nose, but that wasn't too much of a hassle.

Fresh-faced! 2+ years with OCM!
I was still using the original OCM until I went on a work trip about a year ago. For some reason, I modified my face-washing method for a few days.

That's what changed everything. Just over those couple of days, I saw a change in how much easier it was to wash my face, and I felt like my skin was reacting better too!

So, here's my modified process, which I've been using for just about a year!

At night:
1. Scoop out some coconut oil with a spoon (not fingers, to avoid bacteria growth), and massage all over face...ON TOP of makeup. Rub into eye area, too.
2. With a DRY washcloth, wipe oil off of face. All makeup should be removed through this step. 
3. When oil has been wiped off, splash very warm water on face. With the other side of your DRY washcloth, wipe/massage face in small circles until all water is removed. Don't be shy with rubbing hard, especially in bumpy/blackhead-prone areas. (for me, T-zone area)
4. Go to bed! That's it!

In the morning: 
1. Do nothing. Just shower, apply makeup, etc. as usual. 
2. If skin feels too dry, massage a little oil on dry/tight areas.

I've found that this modified method:

1. Goes a lot quicker. No longer do I need to "steam" my face with a washcloth.

2. Removes the need for my aforementioned every-other-day baking soda scrub. The dry washcloth scrubs my skin enough to keep it niiiice and smooth :) The scrub worked, but the lemon juice burned if I did have a breakout. And the scrub left my face a little dried out, resulting in increased oil production the next day.

3. Removes my makeup more completely. I hated realizing that by steaming my face with the other method, I was basically steaming an oil/makeup mix into my pores.

I've shared this method with others and coconut oil seems to work best with people who have super oily skin. Some friends with naturally drier skin have found that coconut oil dries their skin out too much, Argan Oil might be a better option. I've tried EVOO, castor oil, jojoba oil, etc. but coconut works best for me. Depending on your skin composition, you might need to try a couple different oils, but the method itself can work with any type.

I should say here that the OCM might not work for your skin. Maybe you try it and hate it or your skin gets worse...please don't curse your jar of coconut oil because of me!

But, if you're curious about a natural way to care for your skin, or if you're struggled to find anything to help clear up your acne, my suggestion is to try it out! My attitude going in was that my skin couldn't get any worse, so what did I have to lose?!

A couple last tips:

1. For anyone with especially severe acne, when starting this method off, please be gentle with your skin. You don't want to scrub too hard, but if/when your skin ends up clearing up, then you can move on to being more aggressive with your dry washcloth exfoliation.

2. The oil might stain your washcloths, especially if you're removing a good amount of makeup. So, take that into consideration...white, expensive washcloths might not be the best for using in this method :)

3. Use a new washcloth every. single. night. Re-using washcloths can lead to bacteria growth, just like sticking your fingers in the coconut jar.

The OCM, specifically this revised OCM method, has changed my skin forever. I hope this might help you to improve your skin as well!!!

The best skin of my life!!!
Please don't hesitate to comment or email me with questions!!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Not Alone Series: Travel!

How do you travel as a single lady?! Any tips or tricks you'd like to share? Do you have anything fun planned for this year?

I loooove this topic, mainly because I'm so excited to read other peoples' perspectives!!

It was probably about 2 years ago when I was first bit by the travelling bug and my fever has only gotten worse. Not that I travel allll the time now, but I'm beginning to travel more and more.

Part of this is intentional, part of it is just that I've had great opportunities.

However, most of my travelling is with other people. Either roadtrips or occasionally flying, but almost always with others. Overall, I think I prefer to travel with others just in case something goes wrong so there's more than one brain to figure things out.

When Jen and I went to Boston in September, that was my first time ever flying alone! It was terrifying and exhilarating....mostly terrifying. I don't fly a ton, so that in itself is an experience...but my myself?! AH!

But it all went fine, even though my flight was almost cancelled during a layover, it all worked out!

So, I guess I don't have a ton of tips/tricks for travelling alone...

Though I will encourage everyone to seek out adventures. I've heard amazing stories lately about Yellowstone and The Bach has peaked my interest in exploring Mount Rushmore/SD. There's something about planning an exciting trip, even several months in advance! It gives you something to look forward to!

And on that note, TAKE YOUR VACATION DAYS! I know not every job is afforded the same luxuries, but un-taken vacation days are a special kind of travesty. My first year working full-time, I took only TWO vacation days. TWO! Since then, I've made a point of taking every day allotted to me. Even if it just means I take a long weekend to explore Chicago or St. Louis or Indianapolis...there's so much to be seen! Let's see it all!

I'm looking forward, this year, to a few trips I have planned....

The first being a work trip to Arkansas in April...not a hopping place necessarily, but I've never been there! So I'm excited :)

Then, of course, I'm over-the-moon pumped to go out to Philadelphia in September TO SEE POPE FRANCIS!!!! WEEEE!!!

Other than that, I'm not sure yet! Perhaps Yellowstone will be a trip this year or next, but either way, I have a lot to look forward to!

Well, since I didn't give much advice for traveling as a single person, would you share your own? Comment or link up your post below! Be sure to include a link in your post back to this post and Jen's!


Next week's topic:
Dating Fast
We've all likely heard about them, but have you ever done one? If so, what was your experience? If you haven't, would you consider doing one? Why or why not?

3/10: Encouraging Men
We seem to always have something say about guys treating us right! Or, not right! But, what does that mean? Have you ever thought to share those insights so guys have a better idea on what to say/how to act? Well, let's do it! What are some good habits guys can take up when dealing with us ladies?

3/17: Challenge!
It's that time again! In the past, we've challenged ourselves to grow and/or take steps toward moving closer to our vocation. These challenges have come in all different forms! Trying online dating, getting more involved in our young adult ministry, and working on discipline have all been past personal challenges. What is one thing you want to challenge yourself to do that might help you along on your path toward God's will...or maybe just help you become more open to God's will?
Share what you're planning to challenge yourself with and why, then in 2 weeks we'll write on how this challenge went!!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Not Alone Series: Loneliness

We all have times when we feel alone. What are ways that you combat loneliness? Pray? Join a group? How can we encourage each other to stay positive? 
Thanks to Laura P!

I was just minding my own business, perusing Facebook, when a post by CatholicTV's Encounter caught my eye. Naturally, I clicked, and imagine my surprise when I hear the following intro to this month's Encounter episode:

"Welcome to the February edition of Encounter. Well, it is February, the month of Valentine's and a lot of people may be thinking about their relationships and about love. For many people who are single, this may not be a time of year that they get particularly excited about but this month we're going to talk to two Catholic single women who are excited about sharing their experiences in the single life with other women in the Not Alone Series."

Ok, y'all. Throughout this intro, I was cracking up. Literally. Doubling over, holding-my-side laughing.

Back in September, Jen and I traveled to Boston to talk about the Not Alone Series on This is the Day, and while there, we did mini-interviews for another CatholicTV show, Encounter. Little did I know that our interviews would be featured during the "month of love".


And how fitting, too, that we have this week's topic, right before V-Day itself?!

Loneliness: a feeling, or state of being, that everyone has encountered at one time or another, but one that few people enjoy talking about.

Have you ever mentioned feeling lonely and the people around you congratulate you? Or given you a high five?

No. More often than not, it's a difficult emotion to address. And most times, I've experienced others feeling sorry for me.

Well, as "nice" as that is, people feeling bad for me doesn't help the situation. If anything, it just reminds me to never talk about my loneliness because this only leads to awkward conversations and attempts to console without knowing what to do in order to change the problem.

You see, the Not Alone Series, as I tell in my Encounter interview, began as a response to this loneliness. The loneliness, specifically, that results from feeling that you're the only person who knows what you're going through.

As much as we have created this community to address the need for solidarity, and I hope it has brought comfort to those we were trying to serve, this loneliness still exists.

I know this all too well. Despite how much I enjoy my life and am attempting to live it very fully, the loneliness creeps in.

It creeps in after I come home from work and am reminded that, like every night before, I am alone.

It creeps in during a fun night out, when I'm reminded that many of my dear friends have what I do not yet experience.

It creeps in at a family event, when I'm hand my cousin his daughter and witness the love that is shared between him and his wife.

I don't have someone to vent to about my frustrations, or share in my joys, or help to bear my burdens.

I feel that I have so much love and attention and affection and time to give, but to who?

This loneliness can overwhelm us, if we allow it. And I've allowed it to do so, from time to time. I don't want it to consume me, but it's pull is real.

What's a girl to do?

The only solution that's helped me to diminish this loneliness is to run to the Lord and Him alone. He is the only one who can comfort me, who can love me, who can understand me the way I need.

The surest way to continue feeling lonely is for me to continue distancing myself from God.

But, remember, this only diminishes the problem, it doesn't eliminate it. So, it helps to have other things in your life, in addition to your relationship with the Lord, to take your mind off of these feelings.

- Good friends, those who share your interests or hobbies. This differs from the friends we've all had who only want to talk about who's dating who and who you're dating, etc. 

- Hobbies! The best way for me to forget about being alone at home is trying to teach myself guitar (it isn't working, by the way) or working out or cooking or reading, etc etc etc.

- Learn to love your own company. Find your happy place, alone. Maybe this starts as a cup of coffee in the morning or a glass of wine after work. Maybe this evolves into adventuring on your own, either in your town or elsewhere. Regardless, learning to enjoy your "me" time can be extremely helpful in realizing that being "alone" does not equate "loneliness".

But, sometimes, we need to let ourselves feel what we're feeling. Keeping busy and trying not to think about what you're feeling for an extended amount of time isn't healthy. We mustn't become numb to the longing of our hearts. Sometimes, it's theraputic for us to acknowledge our loneliness and let ourselves feel it. For it is only when we face something head on and allow ourselves to be that we can learn to thrive despite opposition.

Something important to understand, too, is that loneliness doesn't simply evaporate after marriage. It will still creep in, still find it's way into your heart. So if we can learn to acknowledge and adapt to our loneliness, that will only help us in the future. 

How do you deal with loneliness in your life? Please share with us in the comments below or link up your post!


Next week's topic:
Spiritual Writings
What are some of your favorite or go-to books, devotionals or even blogs that help encourage you in your spiritual life?

2/24: TRAVEL! 
How do you travel as a single lady?! Any tips or tricks you'd like to share? Do you have anything fun planned for this year?

3/3: Dating Fast
Most of us have heard about them, but have you ever done a dating fast? If so, what was your experience? If you haven't, would you consider doing one? Why or why not?

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Not Alone Series: Selfies

Do you support the selfie trend? Do you think it promotes self absorption, vanity and narcissism? Is there a way to incorporate selfies into the Church's teachings of modesty, authentic beauty, humility? 
Thanks to Hannah!

How do I feel about selfies? Basically what the second part of the above definition says.

Do I take "selfies" with friends? Yes.
Do my sister and I get a little crazy with Snapchat selfies and holiday selfies and baby selfies? Duh.

Buuuut there's a line.

No judgement, I don't think that selfies are inherently evil. However, I have unfollowed people on Instagram who seem to have the need to post a picture of themselves every. single. day.

Now, if you're with friends or just got your bridesmaid dress or are meeting your bffs baby for the first time....go for it, take that selfie. But the selfies that I'm opposed to are the self-gratifying, attention-seeking pictures. 

I'm talking about the pictures where the girl looks frazzled, yet perfectly coiffed and captions with a "days like today that I just can't wait to go home..."

Really? Is that necessary?

Again, do what you want...buuuut I might unfollow after these posts become a daily occurrence.

I think what this boils down to is our inculturated need to be constantly connected to people...which actually leads to disconnection. We post pictures and updates on what we're eating, where we're going, who we're seeing, what we're much so that we lose touch with the current moment.

We stop living simply to tell people what we're up to.

And I'm guilty of it too, to be sure. Did I really need to tweet a couple nights ago about my new loud neighbors? Or did I really need to post a picture of my fabulous Jamberry nails? Probably not. 

The world around us doesn't need a filter and neither do you. Maybe we need to pocket our phones and just be.

But first, lemme take a selfie.

What do you think about the selfie fad? Leave a comment below, or write your own post and link it up!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

a song for someday

Music moves the soul, or at least, that's what Pinterest quotes tell me.

As much as I love "love songs" and "breakup songs" and "drinking songs", there seems to be a void in the category of "I'm single but wish I wasn't and long for my vocation" songs.

You might be familiar with I Will Wait by Mumford and Sons. For those of us who feel like we're waiting forrrever (so, everyone?), this is a good one.

And did you know that Matt Maher wrote My Only Love while he was single and longing for his future bride? Gold.

You're Not Alone by Marie Miller, while not specifically about this stage of life, aids in dancing out your singleness angst. It's a good "I'm here for you, friend" song. ("interesting" music video, but GREAT song)

Well, thanks to good ol' Spotify, I've discovered one more. Listen below. Love. Repeat.

Any suggestions for me and my collection? Do tell.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Not Alone Series: 2015

How are we going to make 2015 different than last year? What goals are you planning/making to be more YOU this year? These can be goals can be personal growth, spiritual life, physical/health, or even your love life! Maybe you don't have concrete ones yet, but it helps to talk them out and get motivated!

There's something about a new year - a new start, a new beginning.

I'm not the biggest proponent of new years resolutions...mainly because people tend to take on too much at once. However, I'm a big fan of continuously improving and growing, so manageable and realistic goals? I'm all about that [bass].

Going into 2015, there was a restlessness on my heart, a burden of sorts. Something I couldn't quite shake.

As I searched my soul for what this could be, there was a constant theme of being tired of trying.

I'm tired of trying to put myself out there and trying to find my husband and trying to always be "on" and trying to's all exhausting. The constant voice in my head saying that I'm not enough, that I'm not quite there yet. No more.

What I want for 2015? 
To try in the only thing that will be constant in my life forever: my relationship with God.

I want to focus on being His and Him being mine. I want to allow myself to be content with that. I must let Him love me and show me how He sees me.

This is first and foremost. My relationship with Christ, and my love for Him, needs to always be the center of my life, and I haven't been living in this way for quite some time.

Along with my desire for fuller union with God comes the desire to be more of who He made me to be.

In total honesty with you all, I am horrible at taking care of my body. My hygiene is fine,, I mean health-wise. My eating and exercise habits need a major makeover.

So far, I've been pleased with the changes I'm making. It's hard to eat crap when all you let yourself buy a the grocery store is greenery. And getting up early to work out is rough...I'm really not a morning person. But it's amazing how alert you can be after a decent amount of sleep.

Rejuvenating my bond with the Lord is happening slowly but surely. Baby steps, but ones that count.
Daily mass. Regular rosary. Spiritual reading before bed. Prayer right when I wake up. Prayer right before I sleep.

This all comes down to routine and discipline. Your prayers for my success in continuing these changes would be much appreciated!

What are you seeking to change or improve in 2015? Any hopes or dreams for the year? Share your post by linking below! Be sure to link back here and to Jen's post as well!


Next week's topic:

Children and Babes

Do you have children in your life? What is your relationship with them like? Do you have godchildren, and how do you form a relationship with them? Does having children in (or not in) your day-to-day life make you feel happy, wistful, or wary (of having your own someday)? 
Thanks to Lindsay!

1/27: Selfies
Do you support the selfie trend? Do you think it promotes self absorption, vanity and narcissism? Is there a way to incorporate selfies into the Church's teachings of modesty, authentic beauty, humility?
Thanks to Hannah!

2/3: Qualities in our Husbands
What are the qualities and characteristics that you are looking for in your future husband? We have talked about what we don't want (link to deal breakers), but it's good to have an idea of those things that are important to us. Discerning religious life? This applies to communities, as well!

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