Sunday, January 25, 2009

Beauty Misadventures: MyChelle, MyBelle

Dear No One in Particular,

I have seriously troubled skin. You know those ProActive commercials that feature teenage boys* who traded in their dignity for some cash? The ones who are all pits, and whiteheads, and scary cystic acne that makes you cringe just to look at them? Yeah, I have skin like them. And I've had bad skin for a long, long time.

I've tried just about every thing to help calm my acne-ridden, greasy skin: ProActive, which served the same purpose as poking a sleeping dragon with a very sharp stick -- it just made it angrier; Retin-A, which helped for a while, but did little-to-nothing for my scars and giant pores; Neutrogena products, which may as well have been pure water for all the results they provided.

I recently stopped using Retin-A for various reasons and my skin has staged a rebellion of epic standards. So I decided to return to a line skin care products that has worked wonders for me in the past: MyChelle Dermaceuticals.

I found them a couple of years ago, while trolling the aisles of a local Elephant Pharmacy. I figured, I'd gone the intensive chemical route to no avail, so why not try a kinder, gentler, more natural route? I've since discovered that the less I try to beat my skin into submission, the more likely it is to calm down on its own. Enter MyChelle.

MyChelle is an all-natural, paraben and pthalate free, vegetarian friendly, cruelty-free, all-around good for you line of "dermaceuticals". Essentially, they take a "non-toxic" approach to skin care, opting for plant-based ingredients to better revitalise and heal skin. It's a feel-good, good-for-you, crunchy-happy-people attitude that's easy to get behind, especially since their products work.

As I previously mentioned, I have terrible acne and extreme combination skin -- the T-Zone looks like the Exxon-Valdez wrecked all over my face, while my cheeks are flaky and desert-dry. I opted to control my biggest problems (acne and oil), following MyChelle's suggested skin care routine**. Here are my findings:
  • White Cranberry Cleanser: this used to be just the Cranberry Cleanser, but all of MyChelle has undergone a major reformulation/makeover, like the Swan. This was the first product I ever tried, and it made me a believer. It cleared up my acne right quick; quicker than one would expect with an all-natural line. I did find that continuing to use it after my skin had cleared made my skin really tight and dry. Should this happen again, I'd probably work a gentler cleanser into my routine and phase this one out until my skin flares.
  • Clear Skin Serum: I incorporated this into my routine out of desperation. I wanted my acne gone 2 years ago, and was willing to pay any amount to see it out the door. This stuff was surprisingly strong. You only need a tiny bit; it's very thin, and very potent. True story: I saw a dramatic difference in the size, amount, and intensity of my acne the very first time I used it.
  • Fruit Enzyme Mist: a total waste of money. I have no idea why people continue to use toners; I have no idea what purpose they serve. I was told, very adamantly and by a large number of people, that I absolutely had to use a toner after using the cleanser or else my face would fall off and the universe would collapse. So, not wanting to shoulder the blame for the downfall of all life forms ever, I bought some. And immediately regretted it. You may as well rub sugar water on your face for all the good this stuff does. It goes on heavier than you would think and it made my face feel sticky, like I rubbed sugar water all over it. It does have one thing going for it: it smells really good. But that's all.
  • Oil Free Grapefruit Cream: "cream" is a bit of a misnomer in this situation. It's actually a very thin lotion, which works well for me. It does a fair job of reducing my sebum production, and it also works to clear my skin. It's a nice moisturiser to have in my arsenal, but I'm not about to sing praise and hallelujah from the mountaintops. Also: it smells nice, which is important in a moisturiser.
  • Incredible Pumpkin Peel: This, I will sing praise for. It is AMAZING and I will end you if you try and take it from me. It's not perfect, but for all the wonderous things it has done to my skin, I am willing to overlook the faults. First, it burns. Don't let anyone tell you it simply "tingles". No, it's a distinct burning. But, on the flipside, you'll get used to it in no time. I can leave it on for upwards of 10 minutes (although you probably wouldn't want to) and I don't need to put a leather strap in my mouth to deal with the pain. Another important piece of information: it's not a peel. I don't know who comes up with the names for these things, but you don't peel it off. It's a simple mask. I guess it's like a chemical peel? I don't know but lord it is good. My skin is smoother, my pores are smaller, my acne less furious and plentiful. Baby ass skin, people. Also: it smells like pumpkin pie. Good-smelling products seems to be a theme with MyChelle, and I'm not going to fight them on it.
Ok, here's a piece of advice you may or may not want to follow, depending on how high your pain tolerance/how dumb/desperate you are: after washing off the heavenly Pumpkin Peel, slather on the Clear Skin Serum. I know I said that the peel burns by itself, but it's not that bad. Well, the combination of the two is just tortuous. I could deal with the peel, but when I slapped some serum on my freshly exfoliated baby skin? I was fanning my face like an idiot (which I was), begging "DEAR LORD TAKE ME HIGHER".


My skin never looked better.

Clear skin overnight. Like my face had miraculously been transplanted with Freida Pinto's, it was so good.
Naturally, I've done this many times and every time I found myself doing the same thing: fanning my firey face praying to be lifted up. And every morning, my skin looked amazing. Totally worth it, in my sick mind.

The big, big downfall to MyChelle? You have to be Warren Buffet to afford it.
I am not, but I am willing to use whatever money I have to maintain/continue my quest for good skin. There is a tiny consolation, however: their products will last you It took me about 5 months of twice-daily use to use up a tiny bottle of cleanser, and, 1 year later, I'm still eeking out my grapefruit cream.

Despite the exorbitant prices, MyChelle Dermaceutical products are worth it. They work fast, they work hard, and they're good for you.

Totally worth it, in my (sick) mind.


*Speaking from personal observation, teenage boys tend to have worse skin than girls. Probably because grimy bastards don't invest in decent skincare.
**Yes, I used all of these products every week. The majority were used both AM and PM. I should have stock in the company.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Sounds about right

Star Wars: Retold (by someone who hasn't seen it) from Joe Nicolosi on Vimeo.

Amanda (not me) who has never seen Star Wars, attempts to summarise the movies.

Saturday, January 10, 2009


All my favourite Muppets in one genius video.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Make a Man Out of You

Dear No One in Particular,

I love gentlemen. True, old-fashioned, dyed-in-the-wool chivalrous gentlemen who dress well, hold doors open, refer to women as "ladies" and not as "bitches" -- true men.

You see, the majority of young men I know are ... well, gay, but that's beside the point. The straight ones tend to be more concerned with how they impress their male peers than their female peers. And unfortunately, with the befuddling popularity of gangsta rap, masculinity has become synonymous with acting like a hoodlum.** Young men puff themselves up, in hopes of appearing agressive and therefore hyper-masculine; god forbid they show respect to women, or have a genuine moment -- they might be labelled feminine! No, they have to be "hard", put their "bros before hoes"blah blah bullshit. God forbid they give up their seat on the bus for an elderly woman, lest they be labelled a "pussy".***
Of course, there's the whole boys-in-eyeliner, emo movement to consider, but even that is troublesome and far from the old-fashioned gentleman I hold so close to my heart.

There's something about a well-groomed, sharply dressed man who speaks with all the charm of Sinatra and has the manners of Leopold that makes me go weak in the knees. You know those books Porno for Women and Porn for New Moms? Yeah, that's what The Art of Manliness is for me.

I refuse to believe that the gentleman is a dying breed, romanticized figureheads of a bygone era. Luckily, the geniuses at The Art of Manliness agree with me, and better yet, are working to transform the schlubby young American male into dashing gentlemen.
I found the website while cruising the 2008 Weblog polls (TAoM is up for a Best Culture Blog) and was drawn to the name, wondering if it was tongue-in-cheek. I fully expected blog posts
laden with sarcasm and praise for how bad-ass WFC is -- like this website*, but with more violence.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that The Art of Manliness is entirely genuine, but not without humour or self-awareness. Their articles are fun to read, educational, and just make my heart swell with romance and hope for a new league of 21st century gentlemen.

Their two best posts, in my opinion, are "The Mechanics of a Man Hug" and "Teaching My Son to Be a Man". The former exhibits just how genuinely funny the site is, while the latter is more sentimental, but deeply genuine and poignant.

I'm particularly smitten with their style tips; like Barney Stinson, I am firmly pro-suit. I've been known to demand that the Boy "suit up!" and as we're approaching graduation from university, with adulthood looming larger than ever on the horizon, the Boy's aggressively casual uniform of a t-shirt and jeans is slowly morphing into dress shirts and blazers, much to my delight.

Their relationship articles are also particularly poignant, reasserting the importance of romance and chivalry, especially in a (post-)feminist age. Some of my favourite articles include "How to Save a Marriage", a guide to spicing up a long-term relationship with romance, and "The Virtuous Life", a series based on Ben Franklin's quest to "man up".

Of course, no site is perfect, and my one large criticism of the site is that it is rather hetero-normative. Which, I suppose, is reflective of American society at large, but c'mon. We all know that gay men can be manly men too, and not just in the "butch vs. femme" way, either . Granted, I haven't scoured the website from top to bottom, but really, there's a disturbing lack of discussion of homosexual lifeways.****

I adore this website, and highly recommend it. Pass it along to the men in your life! I did.


*The first time I saw this website, I laughed so hard I fell off my bed. True story.
**I'm aware that I sound like a granny, all "kids these days!" But bear with me here, folks.
***I'm also aware that I'm speaking in what appear to be cliches, but trust me, these are deeply rooted in personal experience. I wish they weren't, but god knows they are.
****In the sense that the relationships advice covers only male-female romantic relationships, never male-male.