Monday, July 17, 2017

Skincare 101: Pre and Post Botox

I started getting botox injections to help with my chronic migraines in February.  I now go every twelve weeks to get them as they've been a very successful treatment for me, which I am so thankful for.  Prior to my first experience with botox I didn't know that I was going to need to make skincare a top priority pre and post injections.  You need to do this because you cannot touch the injection sites (in my case the ones in my face are in my forehead and temples) with anything other then a very light touch for a few days after you get them.  I've now developed a whole routine that I do before and after I get injections to both prep my skin for it and carefully take care of my skin for a few days post treatment.  No matter the reason you get botox (health or cosmetic) you need to make taking care of your skin pre and post injections a priority too.  I've put together this post detailing my routine for everyone who gets botox to use next time they get injections. (If you want to learn more about botox check out articles here and here.) 

These are the steps I take after I remove my makeup.

I use an anti acne cleanser that detoxifies my pores.  Since I will need to be very gentle on my skin the next few days I want to make sure that my cleanser deeply cleans my skin and eliminates anything that might cause blemishes or clogged pores.

I typically exfoliate my skin three days a week, but this won't be possible in the week after botox.  The night before botox I use a strong chemical peel that removes all the dead skin from my face so that won't build up and cause acne or dull skin over that week.

I use these every night after cleansing.  They tone and exfoliate to reveal brighter, more even looking skin and give you that "glow" that everyone wants.

In this step you will use whatever treatments you use in your typical skincare regimen.  I use this oil which is a retinoid oil that moisturizes, shrinks pores, reduces wrinkles, calms redness, and improves skin smoothness.  I've noticed a huge difference in my skin since I started using it and I recommend checking it out (Pro Tip: Go to Sephora and ask for a sample of it!).

Keeping your skin hydrated is always important and the night before botox is no different.  I use this cream which provides a dose of high-potency, advanced vitamin C.  This vitamin C works to "visibly repair the effects of aging, environmental stress, and pollution-induced damage."  This moisturizer is high in antioxidants and will also help to brighten skin.

The products I use...
Since I used such a strong cleanser the previous night that could potentially dry out my skin I use a much gentler moisturizing cleanser the morning of my appointment.  I wash my face using my Clarisonic since I will not be able to use this for at least a week after the injections.  You cannot touch the injected areas for a few days in order to avoid spreading the botox to other muscles and since the Clarisonic uses sonic technology to really deeply clean your skin I personally like to wait at least seven days after my injections to use it again just to be safe.


You need to not only hydrate your skin, but make sure to use a moisturizer with SPF to protect it from the sun as well.  I use this lotion which is very moisturizing, but also lightweight.  It also contains vitamins and antioxidants to further protect and nourish skin all day, creating the perfect canvas for botox.

4. No Makeup
I don't wear makeup to my botox appointments and I recommend doing the same.  The sites of injection on your skin with be cleaned with rubbing alcohol, just like for any other injection, and it will remove your makeup.  Additionally, taking off your makeup that night will be difficult since you can't really put any pressure on your skin or rub your face.

The products I use...

I bring a facial spray with me to use after my appointment.  I do this because the alcohol they use to prep your skin for the injections is drying so I want to gently hydrate my skin.  I typically do a quick spritz of this when I get back to the car after the appointment.

The products I use...

I use the gentle cleanser mentioned above and wash the areas of my face that were not injected (the lower half of my face: cheeks, nose, chin) with my hands.

To cleanse the areas that were injected I use this micellar water.  I pump some of it onto a cotton pad and extremely gently (applying no pressure) wipe my forehead, temples, and between my brows.

I use the same toner pads as mentioned above.  For the areas that were injected I again extremely gently (applying no pressure) wipe over them.

Since rubbing alcohol was used to prep your skin from botox and that can be very drying it is really important to use a rich moisturizer to hydrate your skin.  I again use the same one I mentioned above because it does a great job of restoring moisture to my skin.  To apply it to the areas that were injected I am very, very gentle and do not use any pressure or massage it in.

The products I use...

My skin is very dry so I prefer to use micellar water in the morning, not to mention it is the best way to cleanse the injection sites post botox as you can do it extremely carefully.  I use the same one that I mentioned above.  For the areas that were injected I again extremely gently (applying no pressure) wipe over them.

I use the same toner pads as mentioned above.  For the areas that were injected I again extremely gently (applying no pressure) wipe over them.

I use the same moisturizer as mentioned above.  Again to apply it to the areas that were injected I am very, very gentle and do not use any pressure or massage it in.

The products I use...

I repeat the steps in "Night After Botox" and "Morning After Botox" for five to seven days just to be safe and not disrupt the botox.  One adjustment though is after the first night after botox I again include a treatment like this or this (or even both in combination) before moisturizing my skin.  I also make sure to be extra gentle with the injection sites during this entire time.

These are all of the steps that I take to care for my skin both before and after my botox appointments and I hope that if you decide to get the injections that you follow a similar routine.  Have you ever tried botox before?

                      
Make sure to add me on Snapchat - @kthomp22!
Today I'm linking up with Hello Monday, #HowISummer, and Weekending.

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

To celebrate The Blush Blonde's 4th Blogiversary we are bringing you a giveaway made for summer.  This giveaway includes a straw handbag, pool floatie, beauty products specially picked for the warm weather, and a gift card to Nordstrom!  Here are all of the goodies you have a chance to win:

Mar Y Sol Tybee Tote- This summery Mar Y Sol handbag is detailed with bright contrast stripes and a strand of pom-poms.

BIGMOUTH INC. Shell Pool Float- If you can't be a mermaid, at least you can lounge like one in this giant pink shell floatie.

$45.00 Nordstrom Gift Card- This is included to buy any other summer essentials you might need!

Sephora Favorites Safe Sun on the FlyA five-piece set of Sephora’s favorite sun care products in convenient travel sizes, featuring sunscreen, moisturizer, lip treatment, and CC cream with SPF—plus a waterproof, reusable bag that’s perfect for your summer adventures.


Fine Print: 
This is open internationally, pending shipping laws/restrictions. You must be 18 or older, or have a parents permission to enter. This giveaway is open for exactly one week. Winner must respond within 48-hours or a new winner will be chosen. Your form of entry will be double-checked.

Monday, July 10, 2017

4 Year Blogiversary & a Giveaway

Oh my gosh you guys I can not believe that it's been 4 years since that fateful day I started my blog!  If you've seen this post then you know that my 4th Blogiversary was actually 2 weeks ago on June 26th, but due to life circumstances I had to postpone and have a belated celebration instead.  I'm actually so glad that I landed up postponing though because that extra time allowed me to give this special occasion the celebration it deserves (and also to plan a pretty kickass giveaway for all of you).

I started my blog 4 years ago on a whim when I was bedridden and recovering from surgery.  I had no idea what I was doing and honestly just started it to give myself something to do while I was stuck in bed.  Never in my wildest dreams did I think this space would become what it has and still be going strong 4 years later.  I also never could've imagined the amazing friends I'd make, all the lessons I'd learn, the countless events I'd attend, the incredible collaborations I'd be able to do, and so much more because of this blog.  However at this point it's even more unimaginable to think of my life without blogging because it is such a big part of my life and one of my favorite things to do.

I am so thankful to everyone who has supported me on this journey for the last 4 years.  Thank you to my amazing followers/readers without you this space wouldn't be here.  Thank you to my friends who are my biggest cheerleaders when it comes to blogging, which means the world to me.  Most of all thank you to my family, the ways you've helped and supported me with my blog have been countless and I can't put into words how much I appreciate you.  You've helped me with every part of blogging from taking pictures, to helping me create recipes, to taking me to and attending events, and doing pretty much any crazy thing I ask of you!  Mom, Dad, and Bridget I hope you know that without you none of this would be possible.

As I enter into my fifth year as a blogger I hope to only be able to expand on everything that has come so far.  I cannot wait to see what the next year has in store for me as a blogger and I hope you'll continue to take this journey with me.
  


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a Rafflecopter giveaway

To celebrate The Blush Blonde's 4th Blogiversary we are bringing you a giveaway made for summer.  This giveaway includes a straw handbag, pool floatie, beauty products specially picked for the warm weather, and a gift card to Nordstrom!  Here are all of the goodies you have a chance to win:

Mar Y Sol Tybee Tote- This summery Mar Y Sol handbag is detailed with bright contrast stripes and a strand of pom-poms.

BIGMOUTH INC. Shell Pool Float- If you can't be a mermaid, at least you can lounge like one in this giant pink shell floatie.

$45.00 Nordstrom Gift Card- This is included to buy any other summer essentials you might need!

Sephora Favorites Safe Sun on the FlyA five-piece set of Sephora’s favorite sun care products in convenient travel sizes, featuring sunscreen, moisturizer, lip treatment, and CC cream with SPF—plus a waterproof, reusable bag that’s perfect for your summer adventures.


Fine Print: 
This is open internationally, pending shipping laws/restrictions. You must be 18 or older, or have a parents permission to enter. This giveaway is open for exactly one week. Winner must respond within 48-hours or a new winner will be chosen. Your form of entry will be double-checked.

Good luck!

                    

Today I'm linking up with Hello Monday, #HowISummer, and Weekending.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Life with Chronic Illness: 9 Reasons I Say I'm Fine When I'm Far From It

I sat down at my computer last night intending to write a Friday Favorites post and this post happened instead.  This is a post I've been wanting to write for a while and last night for reasons I'm not completely sure of I felt compelled to write.  I apologize in advance for it's length, I wanted to make sure that I included everything and once I started writing I just kept going until it felt finished.  It's a part of my effort to write more about my personal life and to share what living life with chronic illness is really like.  I also created a new tag for here called "Life with Chronic Illness" so you can just click that at the bottom of any post like this and see all the previous posts I have written on the topic.

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When you you ask how I'm feeling or doing you'll most likely get one of two answers "I'm fine" or "I'm doing ok."  You'll get this answer unless you're a close friend or family member and even then you still might get this answer.  If you want to know the truth though, 99.9% of the time I'm far from fine or ok.

You're probably wondering to yourself then why I say "I'm fine" or "I'm ok" when I'm far from it.  The answer to that is kind of a loaded one and has many different aspects to it.

1. After being sick for thirteen years it's the answer I've trained myself to say.  In all honesty, I sometimes don't even realize I'm saying it when it comes out of my mouth.  It's essentially become an involuntary response that I don't have to think about because I've said it so many times before.

2. Most people honestly don't care.  People ask me how I'm feeling or how I'm doing because they know I'm sick and feel obligated to, they think it's the "polite" thing to do.  We've all been there before, we exchange niceties with someone and ask the questions we think we're supposed to to be seen as considerate and oblige societal norms.  However most people don't really want an answer beyond "I'm doing well, thanks."  I'm not doing well though and I'm not going to completely lie so years ago I just started saying "I'm fine" or "I'm ok."  To me it's code for "I feel like shit," but to other people it's a passing answer for when they ask me how I am.  If I were to say "I'm actually doing terrible" or something along those lines then I would either feel obligated to explain why or the other person would feel obligated to ask why, but to most people "I'm fine" or "I'm ok" is an acceptable answer to the question and can even correlate in their minds to "I'm doing well" and sends them on their way because they heard what they wanted to.

3. With some people saying something more then "I'm fine" opens a whole can of worms.  This part of the answer itself breaks down into several parts:

a) So many people think they're self taught naturopaths or homeopathic doctors (and in by no way am I knocking real, educated, reputable naturopaths or homeopathic doctors because I've been to so many of them), but I'm talking about the people that are Google or random uncredited website educated, self declared naturopaths or homeopathic doctors.  They have a list full of these random things to try because they read X,Y, and Z about people with autoimmune diseases or migraines or this or that.  Well that's great, but do they know if I can take that with my medications and other supplements?  Usually not.  Do they know the short and long term side effects of what they're suggesting?  Again no.  Do they know what happens when the person taking this remedy has multiple autoimmune diseases plus so much more?  Once again, no.  And so on and so forth, but you get the picture at this point.

b) You get so many people who's aunt's sister's mother-in-law did this specific thing and it "cured" their occasional migraines or arthritis and I should just do that and I'll be fine.  Or someone's who's friend of a friend has Crohn's disease too and they just smoke marijuana and they're fine now so I need to do that and I'll be fine too.  I'm not trying to put down what other people do to feel better by any means at all, it's just that a lot of the times things people suggest to me don't even have to do with what's wrong with me or aren't feasible for my situation because of other circumstances.  Furthermore, a lot of people don't understand that what worked for that one person they heard about isn't a one size fits all solution and most likely isn't going to magically make me feel all better.  Another frustrating thing is though on the occasion that people have an idea that I'd like to try they almost never actually follow up with the information on said idea that they were going to "send" me.

c) Some people get really weird about medical stuff.  The world of medicine is a tricky place and those who Google educate themselves on the world of medicine tend to make it an even trickier one.  Some people have really strong opinions on medical things and they are not interested in hearing other sides of the argument and instead will just argue with you that they're right.  I completely believe that we all have the right to have our own opinions, but I don't appreciate someone without a medical degree or knowledge of my condition telling me that what I'm doing is wrong or not enough or not ok, etcetera.  I also take some pretty controversial medications (that I would love to not take) and because of things going on in our country people will straight up judge you for that without taking the time to understand why you have to take these medications.  (This is something I'm thinking about doing a whole post in itself on, but if you're interested in the meantime in what I'm talking about check out this article and this article.)

d) People are mean.  I know this is something that both people with and without chronic illness experience, but some people can be extra mean to people who struggle with things they don't understand.  People tell you you're being a baby, that you're lazy, that you're faking it, that you just need to suck it up.  People make "jokes" that they think are funny about it, but are actually just cruel.  These people have zero idea what you're going through, don't really care, and certainly don't want to hear about it so they just tell you the first thing that comes to their mind.  There are also the people that are quietly mean who want to know just because they're nosy, not because they care.  They want to know so they can tell their friends what you said and gossip about you and make things up and spread around rumors.  However, whether people decide to be blatantly mean or quietly mean I don't need that negativity in my life.

4. I don't want to come off as a "complainer," a "Debbie Downer," "needy," etcetera.  Let's be honest everyone wants to be around positive people, no one wants to be around the girl they think is "whining" all the time about how they feel, even if that girl is one thousand percent justified in that "whining," "complaining," or whatever the hell else she wants to do or say about her chronic illness.  Can this really suck sometimes and not be fair?  Of course, but unfortunately it's the reality of things and how the world works.

5. Some people feel the need to list things that they think I got in life as a consolation prize for being sick.  I can't tell you how many times I've had this conversation with people: 

Person- "How are you?" 
Me- "I'm not doing so well, this, this, and this is going on with my health." 
Person- "Oh wow that sucks! Well at least you look good!" or "At least you're pretty!" or "At least you're smart!" or at least a million other things. 

Pretty much any of the other things you're going to list that you think are a consolation prize for me being sick are really not and it's actually quite insulting to say them.  It's really nice that you think I look good, but I would rather look terrible and feel good and I can say that to pretty much anything people come up with.  Not to sound like a super bitch, but there's thinking positively and then there's saying stupid things that you just think sound positive and this falls into the latter category.

6. Some people feel the need to tell you about what health problems they may have and some people get this weird competitive thing going like "who's sicker," which is something I really don't want to get involved in because it doesn't do anything for either person involved.  Additionally, it's not that I don't care or am not compassionate, but it gets very difficult for me to sit there and listen to someone complain to me because they have a cold, or that one time six months ago they got a migraine, or how bad their knees hurt from arthritis and they had to switch from running to speed walking because of it and that's just been so hard on them.  It's not that I don't doubt that any of these things are difficult for people, I mean having a cold sucks, having a migraine (even for just one day) can be mind numbingly awful, and having to give up one thing you love to do because of pain in one place in your body isn't fair, but I'm often dealing with things on so much greater of a scale that I sometimes have a hard time being very sympathetic to things that seem minor to me.  What I'm trying to say is that I would be thrilled if I just got a migraine every once in awhile and while I'm not trying to belittle how having that happen affects your life by any means, when you're complaining it to me and trying to sympathize with me (or want sympathy from me) it just doesn't make sense because there's really no comparison.

7. People just don't understand.  Unless you live with chronic illness everyday it's something that is hard to understand and something that is unimaginable to most.  I can sit here and try to explain how I feel until I'm blue in the face, but it's not really something that just explaining helps - it's something you need to see, talk about, and be around constantly to even start to try to understand it.  And to be honest as frustrating as it can be for me (and it's definitely frustrating) I don't fault people for this at all because I am happy for them that they don't deal with chronic illness everyday and that they feel good and that they don't have to go through the hell that people who have chronic illnesses do.  I don't mind attempting to explain it to people who care or are genuinely curious, but it's not something that I can do by answering "How are you?" and it's far from the simple or quick response that most people are looking for in response to that question.

8. If I answer truthfully most people just land up feeling sorry for me, which I don't want.  Not to sound mean, but someone feeling sorry for me doesn't do anything to help me and honestly just makes me uncomfortable.  It's a funny thing when you get sick you actually spend a good amount of your time comforting people when they're trying to deal with their feelings about what you're going through.  I know that sounds strange, but it's so true.  Every time I make a new friend who genuinely cares and we take the time to talk about my health I almost have to go into counselor mode and help them process it all.  I don't mind taking the time to do this at all, but it's not something that I'm going to do with everyone as it's hard for me to explain and can be emotional, confusing, etc. for the other person involved.

9. It gets boring to talk about for both me and the other person (or people) involved in the conversation.  I don't want to spend all my time explaining medical stuff and how I feel and people don't want to hear me talk about that stuff all the time.  This is partially why saying "I'm fine" or "I'm ok" has become such a knee-jerk reaction for me because it gives me that little bit of normalcy I so crave and it gives me an out to not have to get into this stuff that I have to get into with so many other people.  Most days, even if I am having the worst pain day ever, I want to just say "I'm fine" and get that part of the conversation over with so we can talk about clothes, or nail polish, or a television show, or blogging, or anything to distract me from how awful I feel.

So after reading all of this you're probably thinking to yourself "well how the hell am I supposed to respond to her when she says, 'I'm fine'?!"  There's actually a very simple answer to this: if you genuinely want to know how I am, what's going on with my health, have earnest questions, and have a little time to really talk then just say, "No really.  I want to know how you are."  However, if you don't want to know, don't care, don't have the time for the full answer, etc. then just keep going with our conversation, don't dwell on it, or think about it more then you would with another person.  And guess what?  If you fall into that second category I don't fault you for that at all, just talk to me about whatever else and distract me from how I feel and I will completely appreciate that.

***

I do want to thank the people in my life though that do genuinely want to know how I am, who let me whine and complain to them all I want, that let me talk all things medical just to get it off my chest, who serve as my sounding boards through everything I go through, and who never hold anything caused by my chronic illnesses against me.  You all mean more to me than you'll ever know and my appreciation for you is more than I can put into words.

I also want to thank all the incredible people that read the posts I write about chronic illness, leave me sweet notes, and reach out to me.  You taking the time to do all of this just means the world to me.  These posts typically land up being much longer than I intend them to be (this one is just another example of that!), but they can be so therapeutic to write and I am so grateful that anyone takes the time out of their day to read them.  Last, but not least, if you have any questions, as always, please feel free to ask them below.

                    

Monday, July 3, 2017

Netflix Binge

So with all of my health problems I have definitely become a Netflix aficionado.  I always like to have some kind of TV going for background noise as I do things throughout the day so I'm pretty much always watching Netflix.  I power through shows and sometimes feel like I'm running out of stuff to watch, but thankfully Netflix is pretty much never ending and I can always find something new!  Since I spend so much time binging I figured it was my duty to share some of my favorite shows with all of you.  Below I'm breaking down what I'm currently watching, what I've recently watched, and some of my favorite binge watches I've had over the years.

Currently binging...
I just started this the other night and am almost finished with the first season.  The first season focuses on the investigation of the death of a high school student and shows what's going on in both her family's life and the life of the lead detective during the investigation.  I really like crime dramas (both shows and books), which is why I decided to watch this and so far it's not disappointing.  I'm dying to see where the investigation leads, which is why I'm tearing through this!

Most recent binges...
A Netflix original series about the start of women's wrestling.  GLOW stands for Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, which might sound sexist, but the show actually has a lot of female empowerment undertones.  It's both funny and dramatic and super interesting if you've ever watched Total Divas.  This is only on it's first season and each show is 30 minutes so it's a quick watch.

This is a CW show that just finished its first season and was recently put on Netflix.  I started watching this when it was on TV, but for some reason stopped and was so glad I could finish it on Netflix so I could see what happened.  This show features a captivating murder mystery (which I love) along with lots of other juicy doings that are happening in the (sometimes creepy) little town of Riverdale.  The murder mystery that looms through the season does get solved by the end, but then we're left with a cliffhanger (and new mystery) that has me itching for season two!

I've been watching this Canadian drama for a few years now; the series is ongoing on Canadian TV, but I have to wait for the new seasons to make it to Netflix so I am always excited when a new one does.  It's about a multigenerational family that owns a ranch in Alberta, Canada and shows how they go through their lives.  It's filled with tons of juicy drama and plenty of adorable farm animals and beautiful horses that play major parts in the show.

So I know everybody and their brother has probably recommended this to you, but let me tell you it's because it really is that good.  If you're living under a rock and don't know what the show is about, it's about a typically law abiding woman who is sentenced to jail time for an old crime and how life unfolds inside a women's prison.  If you haven't watched this then you need to start ASAP and will finish it quickly because once you start you won't want to stop.  I will admit though that after Seasons 1-4 I had high hopes for Season 5 and was a little disappointed with it.

There's nothing like a 90s TV show in my opinion!  I was too young to watch when Party of Five was on TV, but I'm so glad that Netflix gave me the chance to watch this 90s classic.  It's about five siblings whose parents are killed in a car crash leaving them under the care of the oldest brother.  It goes through all of the trials and tribulations they experience both as orphans and as they grow up.  If you liked shows like 7th Heaven then this is a must watch!  Also some of our favorite stars from the 90s and today make cameos, which is so fun to see.

A few of my favorite binges...
It would be impossible to share all the shows I've watched on Netflix as I can't even remember them all myself!  Here though I have for you fifteen of my favorite binges (not ranked, just in alphabetical order) that I definitely recommend checking out next time you're looking to watch something on Netflix!

2. Bones
4. Charmed
10. Scandal
11. Shameless
12. The Crown
14. Weeds

What have been your favorite Netflix binges?  Comment them below so I can add them to my list of shows to watch!

                    
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