[Health Rx] How to Handle a Bartholin’s Cyst Pt 2 – Marsupialization

🦘I am more Kangaroo than you 🦘

Georgia O'Keeffe, "Mother of Modernism"

Not even a week and a half after I saw my OB/GYN to get my Bartholin’s Cyst lanced, my Bartholin’s Cyst procedure not only reversed itself – but became worse. For the record, with this type of issue – a recurrence is more common than you would hope. In my support group, some women have had 30+ lanced, or dozens of surgeries; it is depressing and isolating, and feels hopeless. There are no clear answers for us and there is no common fix; no one understands how they’re caused or how to truly treat them…but pretty sure if we were men someone would have made a one time pill for this shit – ANYWAYS.

Admittedly, I’ve been a bit bummed and borderline depressed every since my Bartholin’s Cyst Abscess came back after getting it lanced the first time. So, I figured it couldn’t hurt to finally go through the gauntlet of the recommended homeopathic remedies.

What I tried:

Best Organic Sitz Bath Soak For Postpartum Care Recovery & Natural Hemorrhoid Treatment, Soothes Relieves Pain Reduces Discomfort, 100% Pure Epsom & Dead Sea Salts Witch Hazel Lavender Essential Oil
  • Sitz Baths 2-3x a day with Epsom salts
  • Hot showers with a wash rag of Witch Hazel
  • Hot water bottles CONSTANTLY (but PLZ be careful, I definitely passed out with it one night and got a second degree burn on my leg…)
  • Apple Cider Vinegar – applied to a warm wash rag; though, I really do NOT prefer how that makes me smell!
  • PRID – A homeopathic drying salve, this is supposed to assist in relief from the cyst. Thankfully, my husband used to play baseball and said it reminds him of that; so, guess that’s a win? Either way, it made my nether regions officially smell like a farmer’s market.

Though the swelling and constant discomfort went down initially, eventually after a week of the homeopathic treatments the entire Bartholin’s Gland became inflamed and as hard as a rock. I was excited to try the at home methods because I didn’t feel I do not feel nearly as rushed into it as before – however, it wasn’t long after that I came to the conclusion I had to go through a more invasive surgery to get the issue truly handled.

Fast forward to the next Monday, and I’d spent all morning trying to track down a doctor in the Pacific Northwest that not only understood the issues I was dealing with, but was more or less an expert on the Bartholin’s Glands considered with how little is truly known. I scoured the internet for OB/GYN surgeons in the area, and specialty OB/GYN; even trying out of the box ideas, like finding a Urogynecologist in the area and seeing if they could refer me to another clinic.

Being relatively new still to the area, I simply don’t have the bandwidth for that type of medical knowledge up here – but finally realized, that I’ve made friends, colleagues and coworkers with a handful of fantastic fems in the area and decided to hit them up to see if they had a good recommendation; and I’m infinitely grateful they did. When Danny and I moved into our current home last year, I became instant friends with one of the people that used to live here, she still comes around to hang out with our neighbor and the three of us have had some socially distant wine dates over the Summer; being sick of my own body shaming, and my ego, I spilled the beans to both of them and they didn’t skip a beat with recommending an amazing doctor at the University of Washington’s OB/GYN clinic.

Calling last Monday, I was told that the doctor they were pushing wasn’t available for a few months, but -as it turns out – there was a doctor available the day, and she just so happens to be an Associate Professor at UW and she is their resident surgeon on staff, and only comes in on Mondays. After reviewing my files, as well as a thorough examination – we determined we needed to do a more invasive type of surgery, this time – we would be going for a marsupialization.


 • ↠ Marsupialization ↞ •

Management of Bartholin's Duct Cyst and Gland Abscess - American Family  Physician

What does it mean to get a Marsupialization?

Well, besides being a really neat word that makes you feel like a hybrid human-kangaroo; Marsupializations are performed both if drainage isn’t effective, or the cyst is too large or infected for a Word Catheter to make sense. This can happen either in an OR using general anesthesia, or as I found out – it can also be done within your OB/GYN’s office using local anesthesia like lidocaine shots. Word to the wise – if you have a quick metabolism: you will burn through the anesthesia quickly and need more; let your doctor know! Besides the initial series of shots, I had to get about 15 more during the course of the procedure because my body ate through each shot within minutes.

So, what exactly is the Marsupialization Procedure?

After the lidocaine shots, your doctor will use a cold knife to open the gland and drain the cyst. Once the cyst is drained, the area is everted, cleansed and stitched back together using 4-6 stitches to form a small pouch – hence, the term marsuipialization. All in all it takes about 30 to 45 minutes either in the OR or in your doctor’s office.

How to you After Care for it?

Very happy to have taken these last few weeks off work to recover from both surgeries. After the first procedure reversed, I’ve been hesitant to get my hopes up – there’s still a 5-15% failure / return rate. But, after 14 days of doing the least, I’m finally feeling on the mend, minus a little discomfort when I sit thanks to the placement of the gland, and residual inflammation from the incisions and the stitches. I took two weeks off of work, and absolutely recommend that for anyone that gets this procedure done. There is a vast amount of initial discomfort, including issues with going to the bathroom, walking and sitting – and stress does not help; so very glad I’ve taken the time for myself to heal properly. work.


I now have a deeper respect and understanding of my body and mind after feeling the rollercoaster of emotions from the past few weeks. I’m lucky to have such an amazing partner to not only handle this with me, but to handle me going through this. Next time someone says “tough as balls” – please remind them it should REALLLLLY be “tough as a pussy”; between periods, childbirth and poorly researched unique OB/GYN issues- the amount of pain, pressure and discomfort women deal with is phenomenally incredible. Massive respect to all my pretty mommas and badass babes; we run the world.

Georgia O'Keeffe (1887-1986) | Pink Spotted Lillies | 1930s, Paintings |  Christie's

[Health Rx] How to Handle a Bartholin’s Cyst

Georgia O'Keeffe on the Art of Seeing – Brain Pickings

Let’s get awkward for a second, y’all – I’m about to COMPLETELY overshare, and I’m in no way ashamed about it. We’re going to talk about an uncomfortable, yet rarely discussed, medical condition that affects 1 in 5 women. I’m writing this because 20% of women will have to handle living with one at some point, and as we all come from women or know them – it helps having a deeper understanding.

🚨 So yeah, spoiler alert: IT’S ABOUT THE FEMALE ANATOMY 🚨

Five years ago, I was diagnosed with a Bartholin’s Cyst. Yesterday, I finally had surgery to have it drained. If you don’t know what a BC is – I sincerely hope you NEVER have to find out. For those that have had them, lived with them and removed them: I have the UTMOST respect for you.


So, what IS a Bartholin’s Cyst?

On either side of the labia sit two glands – the Bartholin’s Glands. What do they do? They lubricate! Sometimes, women get a fluid build up behind the gland, causing a cyst – complete with swelling, discomfort, pressure in the area and pain. At the most basic level, it’s painful to sit, drive, walk, be intimate, wear tight clothing or exercise.


How do you fix a BC?

Start with what you can personally live with. The gland itself is about the size of a pea; originally, I was still dealing a cyst the size of a walnut, and felt uncomfortable wearing shorts and swimsuits. I decided to live with it, because my first doctor told me I would have to have surgery to remove the ENTIRE gland, and I felt that was too extreme of an action. Fast forward to this week, and now I’m sitting on a plum, or as I have been fondly referring to it: my one ball.

Bartholin's Cyst and Abscess Formation | AMI 2019

💫Homeopathic remedies include the following, but I’ve found very little literature verifying any of the methods are truly effective (except the last one):

  • Sitz Baths (or regular baths!) – fill the tub up just a few inches to cover your pelvis, and add Epsom salt. If you’re pre surgery, adding essential oils can be lovely – like Lavender and Rose. If you’re post surgery, make sure you use unfragranced materials.
  • Tea Tree Oil
  • Witch Hazel
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Music from Marvin Gaye + Al Green

What happens when you can’t live with it?

It depends on how invasive of a procedure you’re willing to go through, and how bad the area is. All procedures are same day, out patient.

💫 Surgical drainage: after making a small cut in the cyst, your doctor inserts a small rubber tube (catheter) into the opening to allow it to drain. It can stay in place for up to 6 weeks. This can be done in your OB’s office and takes less than 20 minutes.

💫 Marsupialization: (TOTALLY A FUN WORD…) If drainage isn’t effective, or the cyst is infected – the doctor cuts the cyst to open it, then stitches the skin around the cyst to form a small pouch. This can take 30 minutes, and needs to be in an OR.

💫 Removal of the entire gland: For extreme, or continually recurring cases – this is the only option; and was the original option I was given 5 years ago. Must be done in the OR, and takes around an hour.


I had the simplest procedure, done in the office of my OB – and thank you to Swedish Health in Seattle for making me feel so comfortable and strong enough to see it through; my husband and MIL for taking care of me and reminding me to sit down and heal; and the support groups I’ve found on Facebook with strong, badass women.

Even though I was in physical discomfort with the recovery:

💫I’m wearing leggings again, and not just dresses and skirts!

💫I can sit without discomfort of any type

💫I cannot WAIT for the scar to heal, because I finally feel confident rocking my bikini bottoms


Day 1: I was able to sit soundly on my sit bone; which is monumental considering how much discomfort a simple act was causing. I no longer have to pitch my legs to one side, or sit on a pillow, or sit on the floor to maintain my comfort levels – it’s amazing how little things can be taken so for granted.

Day 2: I could move around easier – though the Word catheter did pinch a bit and cause some slight itching and irritation around the scar, it was so much easier to deal with than having the cyst. I did my best to stay rested, but admittedly – have a hard time sitting still.

Today, Day 3 – I woke up and found my catheter had already been pushed out; there’s no physical discomfort left and I feel better than I have in years.


I’m writing this because there is a stigma about discussing any of this; HELL, I’m even a bit uncomfortable writing it. I simply hope at least 1 person is thinking: OH MY GOODNESS, I’M NOT ALONE; because – you’re not, and you, too, can get through this.

Georgia O'Keeffe in New Mexico - Critical Read
Art by Georgia O’Keefe

If you have any tips or tricks on living with a BC, or want to lend your story to other women – feel free to leave a comment below; to my female tribe just remember – together, we can get through anything!

[I’ve Got 5 On It] Skin Hydration Station


Summer is coming, and I couldn’t be more excited – endless sunshine, late nights, and tanlines; but what I’m not ready for – the amount of hydration that I actually need to quench my skin’s thirst.

Let’s be real though – there’s Summer skin care to treat the heat and UVA / UVB rays, and there’s Winter skin care to treat cold temperatures and dry skin; but there’s also just those simple products that are damn good no matter what type of year you’re in.

Last time, I brought you some of my favorite beauty products – but what I forgot to mention, is that the first step to beauty is skin; and the first thing about skin, is that you need to hydrate it. From this meaning well, mistress of moderate melanin: please believe me when I say that your skin is the one thing you wear for the rest of your life, so you should treat it right!

Here’s my top five picks to help your skin maintain its glow from hips to lips and head to toe all year long.


Neutrogena Oil Free Eye Makeup Remover – $7.99 at Target

I’ve always heard that a good defense starts with a good offense, to have great skin – sometimes it just helps to take it all off and start the day with a fresh face. I recently tried using Micellar Water recently, but discovered too many articles about the potentially harmful effects of PHMB, including toxicity, carcinogenic and mutagenic qualities. My mom always told me, not to mess with a good thing, and that’s why I’m now back to using the same makeup remover that I did in high school.


Curél Ultra Healing Intensive Lotion – $7.49 on Amazon

Back to the last point above: don’t mess with a good thing. This lotion from Curél is literally just what the doctor ordered for dry skin; and I’m not kidding, my doctors have actually prescribed this lotion in the past for clinically dry skin. My husband swears up and down that it’s the only thing that takes the Winter sting out of his hands, and in the Summer it keeps my entire body feeling silky, smooth and fantastic. It’s lightweight, not greasy and long-lasting – might I say, basically the perfect product at a prime price.


CeraVe SA Cream for Rough and Bumpy Skin – $19.99 at Target


My skin has been notoriously bumpy and dry for oh, let’s go with my whole life. Winter, Summer, Spring, Fall; it doesn’t matter, my skin just doesn’t want to hold moisture – so I go out of my way to soak it in.

I specifically use this on my elbows, hips and thighs, in addition to using the Curel Healing Lotion on the rest of my body – but really, it’s great to use anywhere!


Tatcha Dewy Skin Cream – $68 for Full / $20 for Mini Size @ Sephora

Tatcha - The Dewy Skin Cream 1.7 oz/ 50 mL Clean at Sephora Clean at Sephora

Honorable Mention to Neutrogena Hydro Boost Gel Cream for Extra Dry Skin as the best bang for your buck option, coming in at a favorable price of $16.49 and available pretty much at every department store and online retailer.

It was an old favorite until this one popped up in my IPSY bag last month, and now I’m hooked. The trial size isn’t shabby, either – it’s a fifth of the size (.34 oz), and about a third of the cost of the full size if you’d prefer to take it for a spin before you dive on in.


BeauteHacks Moisture Sleeping Lip Mask – $10.97 on Amazon

Last, but most definitely not least – my new best friend forever, this deliciously delectable peach lip mask from the beauty gurus over at BeauteHacks.

Yes, okay I admit – once again I am balling on a budget thanks to a Buzzfeed post, and I am not ashamed to admit it. My lips have gone from cracked and unhappy to feeling silky and smooth. Sure, it’s a ‘lip mask’ to use at night – but I definitely use it 24 hours a day and am not ashamed to admit it.


To snag any of these fantastic goodies immediately, head over to my Hydration Station item master over on Amazon!

How do you love the skin your in and keep it hydrated? Let me know in the comments below!

[I’ve Got 5 On It] Basic Beauty Essentials

Beauty Basics

Lately, it’s felt just a bit like we’re on our own deserted islands – because basically, we kind of…are. And let me tell you, with everything going on in the world – my mind has been in overdrive, and I’ve admittedly had my wheels churning for a while. As we all go into overdrive to stock up on the necessities during the crisis, I’ve chosen to turn my attention to something a little more fun. Not that we’re wearing much makeup these days, but I’ve definitely been tossing some on every now and again for semblance of normalcy.

While I’m stuck on my metaphorical desert island until quarantine is over, I’m still going to do my damndest to feel my best; for many, when it comes to makeup, that means going all out – foundation, primer, eyelash curlers, etc, etc. Well, let me tell you that I’m a basic kind of bitch and no, not in that other basic way – when it comes to makeup, I’ve turned into a firm believer that less is more and that you should be accentuating your features, not trying to hide whatever you’ve perceived your flaws to be.

Trust me, I had a phase – and it lasted for over a decade; I was a makeup fanatic, I even had a short-lived career as a beauty blogger – but as time went on, I found that covering my face with powders and liquids galore made me feel a bit more like a high class clown and less like myself. So, I’ve bid a bittersweet farewell to my bold MAC and Makeup Forever eyeshadows and assorted lipsticks that I’m fairly sure I only wore once or twice each – and have accepted a new stock of beauty tools with welcome arms.

While I’m on my desert island, you best believe I’ll be enjoying the following…


Winky Lux Glimmer pH Balm in Unicorn – $16

Hands down one of my most fun impulse buys (thank you targeted Instagram ads), this Winky Lux lip balm looks translucent and sparkly, but instantly merges with your own pH levels to produce a unique hue of glittery pink. It’s sorcery, beautiful, beautiful sorcery.


Benefit Roller Lash Mascara – $23.90

When it comes to mascara, it’s all about the flick of the wrist, and that means the wand. Depending on the style of wand, you could get left with tarantula eyes – for lack of a better term. The Roller Lash from Benefit goes on smooth, doesn’t clump and is water resistant – I call that a mascara hat trick.


Tarte Sex Kitten Eye Liner – $16

I don’t know why it took me until my late twenties to discover liquid eyeliner but believe you me – I’m so much better off for it. It goes on smoothly, you don’t have to consider sharpening it – and depending on the brand, it looks sleek and sexy. So, when I saw the this eyeliner from Tarte – with a cat on it of course – I knew I had to at least try it out. Well, good news for me – it works fantastically and rivals my other favorite — Kat Von D’s Tattoo Liner.


Manna Kadar Eye Priming Shadow Stick in Honey: $24.00

This is another case of ‘IPSY Got Me Again’ – years ago, I had a trial version in this lovely shade of priming shadow stick.

Being me, I actually never used it as a primer and instead just used it as eyeshadow. It worked like a charm. Just a tad of sunkissed shimmer and a warm neutral tone – not invasive, but perfectly highlighting.


The Beauty Crop Glow Milk in Love You So Matcha: $19.50

Finally, a little bit of shimmer for your cheeks in my favorite shade – Champagne; or as The Beauty Crop calls it – I Love You So Matcha. A light shimmer that needs very little liquid, the serum goes on smoothly and lasts all day. A great alternative to powder if you’re like me and have found that the powder blushes and bronzers tend to clog your skin.


See anything you’re in love with already? Snag it here!

If you only could have 5 on it, what would be in your beauty bag? Let me know in the comments below!

[Health Rx] Taking Care of Your Care Takers

Back a few months ago when my parents were visiting for Christmas break, we broke into one of our typically deep dinner-prep conversations that usually span topics like life philosophy, religion, love, politics, and basketball.  Basically, any of those topics that you were always told to steer away from – that’s where we go, immediately. Over Thanksgiving when my family first met Danny, one of the first group discussions we got into was answering my aunt’s question: “What’s your vice?”.  Not that we’ve ever cared about taking turns, but this time it was definitely mine – as we sat around, glasses of wine and beer in hand, I turned to them and whimsically wondered “When did you first realize that you were an adult?” After some bemused chuckles in the room,  we finally got to some answers that ranged from when they paid off their first car loan to when they got the keys for their first apartment.  Up to the end of last year, I can’t say that I felt much like an adult in any way, shape or form but that’s all been flipped on it’s head in the last few months.

One of the biggest psychological issues that we all deal with as we grow up is the idea of mind-body duality: I am a conscious entity, and I’m being expressed through a separate physical body.  Our entire life feels like a reconciliation of these two ideas as we learn to live with both in perpetual symbiosis. As we age past midlife, the crux of our life’s parabolic function, the more our lives revert back to mirroring infancy and the older we get the more the mind body duality tends to re-separate, and their relationship seems to be in revolt: My consciousness feels fine, while my body is anything but.  It’s one thing to recognize this in ourselves, but quite another entirely when it’s happening to a parent, when you have to take care of your care takers

Let’s face it, we’ve been the ones that have had to be cared for…up until now. But somewhere along the way to the rest of our lives, we just had to grow up.  We got older, we evolved, we matured into ourselves and we started figuring out how to be adults. Child, sister, brother, teenager, adult, wife, husband, mother, father, grandparent…of all the roles that we either briefly or permanently assume over the course of our lives, the most inevitable role – the one that we’re least prepared for – is the part of care taker.  All egos included in the scenario are off kilter – more often than not, our parents and peers don’t want to accept care from their children.  We’re the people they looked after with gleeful and conscious delight for our whole lives, they cleaned our scraped knees and wiped away our tears….and now, we’re supposed to be their strength?  In short, yes.

Self Care + Proper Proper Prioritization

Maslow had his hierarchy of needs, and you do, too.  While we stress about taking care of those we love, we often forget to take care of our number one – ourselves, so let’s talk about you and how to best take care of yourself in these difficult times. In order to maintain any semblance of normalcy and or sanity, you’ll want to keep some semblance of your old schedule, at the bare bones minimum you’ll want to focus on maintaining a comfortable routine.When it comes to taking care of loved ones, chances are you’re going to have to rearrange the order of parts your pyramid of priorities.

Mind, Body and Soul

Your well being and the well being of those your caring for now catapult to the top of your list, and a lot of things will fall to the wayside – for now, it’s okay to let it. Your social circle and the social circle of those that you’re helping need to be aware of what you’re going through so they can figure out the best way to be supportive of what you’re experiencing. It’s not the most fun, but be prepared to put-off your less permanent plans while you get some necessary nesting in.

Beyond your metal health and emotional health, your physical health is equally important.  Make sure you’re maintaining your daily meals and getting in the necessary calories, because you can’t take care of those you love if you’re not taking care of yourself.  If you can make it to the gym, go ham – if you can’t, don’t stress!  Try your luck with a local yoga studio, or get up, get out and go for walk around the neighborhood.

The Value of a Support System

Life can be tricky, but having a good support system makes it a hell of a lot easier for everyone. We’re not just talking about those you’re taking care of, but you.  Be honest with yourself on what you need, and between your pride and your ego: don’t be afraid to ask. You have people in your life that love you to the moon and back, and would want to be there for you any way they can – let them. Whether its a quick phone call at lunch, an impromptu dinner date or a little text that just says they’re thinking of you, having people in your life that you can depend on to love you when you need it is everything.

Stay Organized

With any health issue, comes pounds and pounds of paperwork to be sorted.  Some of it can be tossed – though, I emphatically believe that you shred personal information instead. My recommendation is to keep a detailed medical diary – especially if there are multiple medications to deal with.  Create a table with pertinent information, wound changes, medical dosages, etc and be sure to input any changes to their status in the diary. Beyond the health issues at hand, there are a lot of non-medical financial numbers and paperwork to handle when you’re in assist mode, so make sure you stay on top of it with some organizational help.  Draw up a bill calendar and make sure they’re on auto-pay to reduce stress of late payments and shut off fees.

Taking care of the people that have always taken care of you can seem like a daunting task, but know you are beautiful in your selfless sacrifice, in your vulnerability, and in your depth. Do you have any pieces of advice for those out there in care taker mode?  Let me know in the comments below.

Love and light to all of you.

Xx

 

 

[Health Rx] Be Above What Happens Down Under

Image result for georgia o'keeffe vagina flower

When our body suffers, 99.9% of the time we’re willing to divulge the details to friends and family, overshare the news on social media or with our support group. A broken foot, a sprained knee, a fractured wrist – all injuries that we wouldn’t lament over or hide, bury in the back of our mind and remain silent about.  There are, however, two areas that we hesitate on – our mental health and our reproductive health.  The former I could go on and on about, but that’s for another time – this right here is about the later.

As we push forward into the 21st Century,  you’d think we’d have absolved ourselves from living with a very catholic guilt about our reproductive systems by now – but no, not in the least. Less the fact we all came from one, or that half the population is the proud owner of one, and another large proportion of the world simply enjoys them: reproductive health for both genders is taboo to discuss even though we all ubiquitously contain a set, and in some rare cases both sets, of organs.  Just one mention of reproductive health brings to mind STIs and STDs, unprotected sex, condoms and awkward videos from High School health class.  Those ideas are a roadblock, what’s preventing us from getting beyond it and discussing a wide variety of other common issues that we might not even be aware of.

After being diagnosed with a Bartholin’s Cyst last year, I’ve stayed deep on the hunt for any and all relevant information.  Scouring forums and digesting mountains of medical research, it dawned on me that if women were as open with each other about personal problems down under as they were with their wardrobe or the latest celebrity gossip, we’d have gotten a lot further in the vertical of female reproductive health.

When I first got my cyst, I joked that my vag was ‘broken’, but I could only make that joke to near and dear people that I could count on both hands. Though it made me giggle from time to time to say, inside I had to swallow a hard truth that it’s a lot easier to talk about literally any other organ besides my vagina.  Even now, I’m anxiously laughing while typing this and in the back of my head, I know I’ve never used the word so much as I’m doing now.  But maybe that’s part of the my point: to desensitize, to engage, to see past what society has told us we need to see and face the real issues.

I promise, I’m not bringing this up because I really want to talk about my vag – quite the contrary, I don’t; I’m awkward about talking about my privates like a 13 year old figuring out their first kiss.  But the first step to being real with myself about it is talking about it, or in this case – writing about it.  Writing is my catharsis, my therapy, and the way I get through things – but what good is getting through something for yourself, if you can help others get through it too.

The one thing I’ve realized the more I talk with my doctors, family and mentors is this: you’d think women’s reproductive issues like cysts, and endometriosis would be rare based on the lack of current conversation, but in fact – they’re not uncommon whatsoever, in fact – cysts occur in one out of every 50 women, abscesses are three times more likely to occur than cysts and 1 in 10 suffers from endometriosis.  Meaning the chances of you knowing someone who has had, or will have one is incredibly likely – and now that you know me, here I am – your trusty data point, ready and waiting for instruction.

What’s interesting to know, is that the vagina is the only organ in our body that naturally produces cysts: after our eggs leave the ovary, they travel to the uterus to create a Blastocyst, which them forms into the embryo.  Sometimes, they’re on the larger side – sometimes, they sit on top of the ovary – and sometimes, they dissolve back into the body, unnoticed. That’s fortunately what happened to me.

In a followup appointment a month ago, my OB/GYN discovered a second cyst.  This time, 6 centimeters in diameter and sitting on my right ovary.  If I said I didn’t flip the fuck out, I would be lying.  Which is why I’ve been trying to pen this for almost a month.  Between my pride and my anxiety, the flutterings of an ego attempting to hold on to the last notion that it’ll all be okay and a mental state that screams I’m anything but, I’ve managed. I wanted to sweep this all under a rug, never talk about it and live in a state of semisweet ignorant bliss – but that was all null and void because what I want most of anything is for my karass out there to be aware of what can go on down there.

So, here’s what you can do.  First and foremost, make sure that you’re up to date with all of your doctors appointments. And I mean, all of them; blood-work from your general practitioner could come in handy when you least expect it. Secondly, always go in to your doctor with a checklist of questions and or concerns, and if you don’t want to write down the answers – ask if you can audio record the session to take notes later on.  If you get labs, check beforehand that the right medical codes are on them – and do some price checking so you’re not stuck with a $1000+ bill on what you thought was a routine test.  There’s never enough research, but do yourself a favor and get yourself off of WebMD – your doctor is excellent, and if you don’t think so second opinions exist…but from the girl who self diagnosed with spinal meningitis at the age of 10, maybe save the diagnoses for the real doc. Last, but certainly not least – raise your voice to your support system, you never know which shoulders you can lean on.

[Top Shelf] Summertime Skin Solutions

img_2550

After so many iterations around the sun on our beautiful planet, thirty – if you want to get technical, I’ve begun to tell the changes in the season by the way my body acts and reacts to the world around me.  Slight aches in my knees and ankles in the morning happen more frequently as Fall ebbs into Winter, while my nails feel like they chip more frequently as Spring flows though to Summer.  Not to mention, my skin gets put through the wringer at the shift of each season, and even more if I’m not careful.  The thing about skin, is it’s your biggest organ and you’ve only got the one, weather and seasons and the great outdoors are always going to be a factor, as is your diet, nicotine and alcohol consumption (I’m looking at you, college me).  Now that I’ve entered my thirties, I’ve been a lot kinder to my skin on purpose – making sure to treat my body like the temple that it is.

A swimmer since I was a little one, I would jump in the pool year round – playing around for hours on end without sunscreen and burn once every few years.  I always reached a nice golden brown while my hair faded from brunette to blonde with every dip into the chlorine and back into the sunshowers. Needless to say, I’ve been a bit lackadaisical with my skin care until pretty recently. Back when Winter was kicking itself into full gear, which is not so coincidentally when my birthday hits, I took one long look at the expression lines on my forehead that have etched a permanent place on my body since childhood and the awkwardly ashy cracks in my joints and made a mad dash for the skin care aisle.  Just think – if everything worked out well with hydrating your Winter skin during the blustery cold dry spells, then give back into the urge to treat yo’ face and body and lotion up because it’s going to be a hot Summer.  When the heat comes, like it literally just did this past weekend to Los Angeles, it takes, takes and takes from your body: zapping skin, pulling moisture out of your hair and leaving lips feeling chapped and sad.

Hydration is a Major Key

Back in winter it was about hydrating your face – which is still valid, but lets take this a step further because as my significant other always reminds me: hydration is the key to a long and successful weekend.  When you’re out and about, prancing at the beach, sunning by the pool or simply enjoying some sunshine infused shenanigans – the Sun is busy draining your body of energy and water, as your body fights to not overheat.  Ever had heatstroke, heat exhaustion or saw someone suffering from it?  It’s the exact opposite of a good time and incredibly hard on your internal organs, your cardiovascular system and – your skin.  It’s simply just as important to take care of your body from the heat on the inside as much as we do from the outside.

Water is your friend – but drinks with electrolytes like coconut water, smart water, juices and sports drinks like Gatorade and Powerade come jam packed with nutrients that replenish your body.  You’ve heard of preloading for festivals?  Well, you can preload for anything – including extreme heat. And sometimes, water alone isn’t enough.  Before you bounce out on your adventures this Summer, make sure you drink at least a liter before you step out the door and come prepared with 1L bottle of water or Gatorade for every two hours you plan on being outside.  You might think it’s overkill, but your body – and your friends that forgot their water – will thank you later.

 

Protect Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself

 

Now that we’ve taken care of the internal body, let’s tackle what the sun is hitting directly: Your lips, skin and even your hair are all susceptible to sun damage, so it’s better to be safe than sorry and take some extra precautions.  First things first, SPF.  Those little letters stand for your Sun Protection Factor, which can range from nearly none at all, a 2-5 exists in some tanning lotions, to a ridiculous high of 80.  Now, do you need an SPF of 80? Absolutely not. But if it helps you feel better, go for it. As it turns out, SPF 15 blocks 94% of the rays, while SPF 30 blocks 97%, in contrast -SPF 45 only blocks 98%.

When the sun is out in full force, it sends UVA and UVB light waves down – sunscreens only block out the UVB rays, and some are far more effective than others.Products within sunscreen have shifted dramatically over time, especially with research on skin cancer and melanoma, but it’s still smart to check that your sunscreen is rid of PABAs.  That said, be on the lookout for “physical sunscreens” that contain zinc oxide and titanium oxide – the two compounds reflect light off of the skin instead of filtering the light that hits the skin. Physical sunscreens are only effective up until an SPF of around 50 – which is pretty perfect, since above 50 doesn’t change it’s effectiveness.

For skincare, my personal favorite is actually gift bag swag from Blue Medi Spa:  Fenix Hydrating Sunscreen in SPF 30. I swear by it daily and highly suggest you go grab yourself some ASAP.  If you’re looking for something more generic, I’m also a huge fan of Hawaiian Tropic’s Sport Lotion Sunsreen in SPF 30 – because you can bounce from the ocean to the volleyball court and back to your towel without sunscreen smears and streaky sweat. Not to mention, it smells delightful!  Kiss your chapped, lips goodbye and dive into some lusciously tasty lip balms.  Make sure you snag the ones that have some SPF in them like Chapstick brand.  Their lip balms range from SPF 12 up to SPF 25 and SPF 50+. And don’t forget about your hair – especially if you’ve invested a lot in the color!  I haven’t dyed my hair in over a decade, but when I did – the color would fade so fast in the Summer months.  Enter Oscar Blandi’s Capri Sun Shield Spray – it’s so good, that I spent 20 minutes hunting down a link because I thought it was discontinued, but no – just only available in obscure online stores.  But hey – at least it’s available!

With your after sun care, Aloe Vera shouldn’t just be a want this Summer, it’s a necessity; one luxurious soak in it after a long day at the beach and you’ll understand what I’m talking about.  There’s some great creme after sun lotions out there to use as substitutes to the pure gel like Alba’s Very Emolient After Sun Lotion which comes with 85% Aloe , but baby – ain’t nothing like the real thing and Trader Joe’s has a great one for an incredibly affordable price (though, as a warning – it definitely has a smell, which I now associate with feeling cool as a cucumber).

Think your skin care game is lacking but you’re not sure why? This might sound a little silly – but hear me out: if you have the cash to buy yourself a random Martini on a Tuesday night, then you can definitely treat yourself to a $10 IPSY or Birchbox Subscription.  The boxes come monthly and you can cancel at any time; with each delivery, you get to dive into a package of skin care samples and goodies with highly sought after trial sizes and even a full sized product or two. The last few months, they’ve both been killin’ the skin care game and I’ve discovered some new favorite products to add to my daily routine. Among them, I’ve fallen head over heals for the Coola Classic Sport Face Sunscreen from Birchbox and  HeyHoney’s 24seven moisturizing creme from my last IPSY Bag – it feels like you’re soaking in creme.

What are some of your Summer skincare secrets? Let me know in the comments below!

img_2546