Friday, January 10, 2014

Symptom-free from Acne Rosacea

I mentioned in my last post that I wasn't going to talk about my work much because I didn't want that conflict of interest on here. However, I believe this is important enough to share. I thought if I was seeing results like this, that maybe others with Acne Rosacea could get similar results too. I'll make this quick. Here are the facts:

  • I have Acne Rosacea, diagnosed by my dermatologist.
  • I do not use any prescription medication to treat or control my Rosacea.
  • I am the Counter Manager for both Clarins and Elizabeth Arden at my Younkers store.
  • I am not being paid to make this post.
  • I will not benefit in any way from this post unless you buy products specifically from my counter.
  • I use Elizabeth Arden's Prevage Anti-ageing Daily Serum in the morning and Clarins Double Serum at night.
  • Neither of these products actually claim to treat any form of Rosacea.
  • I have been symptom-free since I began using these products.
  • No one believes that I have Acne Rosacea anymore, unless I show them my "Before" photo.
  • My symptoms begin to return when I discontinue use of these products, and fade when I resume use.

Please excuse the corny header and footer, I made this graphic to display at my counter.

That's it. Do with this information what you will. Regardless of how you feel about this post, I wish you the best of luck in solving your own skin care concerns.

Friday, November 22, 2013

"Where the hell have you been?!"

I’m getting that question a lot and for good reason- it’s been a few months since I’ve updated the blog and several weeks since I last posted anything on Facebook or Twitter. Rest assured there’s nothing tragically wrong with me so no need to worry.

The first thing that happened is I got a job in early September. I started The Dragon’s Vanity when I was unemployed and looking for something to fill my time while I was waiting to hear back from potential employers. Staying busy kept me sane. But once I got a job, it demanded more of my time than I had realized.

I am the Counter Manager for both Clarins and Elizabeth Arden at my local Younkers store. I had never used any products from either of those brands before (I had never even heard of Clarins before). This is my first retail job, my first sales job, the first time I’ve had someone working under me, and my first cosmetics job. Needless to say, I had a LOT to learn in a short amount of time.

Clarins sent me to Chicago for 2 days in October to learn about their product line, and they had several online training courses to go through to learn further. I had been hired on just after the last Elizabeth Arden training class, so the Account Executive stopped by my store to give me training on their products, gave me training material to review on my own, and they also recently got some online training courses up and running.

I was studying and learning both brands on the fly while also learning how to sell products in a retail setting and manage a part-timer under me. I spent many nights doing ‘homework’ on the products and brands I was responsible for selling. It’s been a lot but it’s also been very rewarding.

My skin care and makeup routines have changed now that I get Gratis from the brands I sell. I don’t think I will talk much about work or the products I use because I don’t want that conflict of interest here, suffice it to say my Rosacea is happy and my skin looks great.

The other thing that’s taken some of my time is Major Depressive Disorder and Anxiety. If you know anything about these illnesses, you know they can be terribly debilitating. Even a crowbar can’t get me out of bed some days. I spent most of 2010 in ‘The Danger Zone’ of this illness and have been working with professionals to manage and control it.

After 3 years of coping with this, I can now manage and control it without medication during the summer months. I use meditation and self-talk techniques that were taught to me by my Psychiatrist and Therapist. I also spend an hour each day in direct sunlight. I can’t put sunblock on for these therapeutic sunning sessions because that prevents the UV rays from penetrating the skin to produce natural Vitamin D, which is the whole point of this for me. Since I’m a Ginger and burn very easily, I break my hour up into 10-20 minute chunks.  I also take a daily Multi-Vitamin with 1,000 IUs of Vitamin D.

But from mid-November to mid-April, all of that just isn’t enough (and it’s too damn cold to sit outside in a t-shirt for an hour). I need medication to chemically balance me. It took almost a year for my Psychiatrist and General Practice Doctors and I to find the right combination and dosage of medications to restore the balance in my brain. Every person’s own chemistry is different, and that’s why there are so many drugs on the market that work differently to treat the same things.  It takes time to get it right.

The solution we finally found was a combination of Sertraline (Zoloft), Buproprion (Wellbutrin), and Buspirone (Buspar) every day, and a low dosage of Propranolol (Inderal) as needed.  The first 3 balance and maintain my mood, and the last one is literally my “Chill Pill” for when I feel an Anxiety Attack coming on. It’s actually a blood pressure medication, but when prescribed in low-doses as-needed for Anxiety it prevents the heart from racing and therefore stops the panic before it gets out of control.

In late-October I start easing myself onto the medications. I take ½ the normal doses I am prescribed to get my system used to the effects. Most of the Serotonin receptors are actually in the stomach. These medications increase the activity in the stomach, thereby increasing acid production. If I jump right in and take the full doses I’m supposed to, I get so much acid in my gut in just a few hours that I have to throw it up. It literally feels like I’ve swallowed battery acid. Not fun. So after the ‘transition’ period I step up to the full doses. I do the same when I come off them in the spring- for the last several weeks I take ½ the amount of medication before stopping altogether for the warm, sunny months.

This year I started my transition a bit later than I should have due to financial concerns. This week I finally stepped up to the full doses of medication, but of course these things take time to build up in the system. While I haven’t been back to ‘The Danger Zone’, I haven’t been functioning in day-to-day life either. Luckily my manager understands the challenges one faces when dealing with MDD and Anxiety, so she has been working with me while I readjust for the season. I wish more people were that understanding.

All that to say I’ve been working, and lately, depressed. I decided to go in to all that just in case it can offer hope and help to anyone else out there battling this.

Anyway, I haven’t done much nail art, though I still do my own clear acrylic nails and color block manis and pedis. I also do my mom’s clear gel manicure every 2 weeks. I’m slowly looking in to possibly going to school for my Nail Tech license, but finding funding for it has been challenging. I’ll keep you posted if/when anything develops on that.

I have been working on a post on my new hair style and the products and tools I use to maintain it, but I can’t guarantee when that will be up.

Thanks for sticking around. Regardless of what goes on in my life, The Dragon's Vanity will always be a part of it. I hope you all have a great holiday season. {Hugs}

Friday, September 6, 2013

Koi Mani

Koi Markings mani - Shade
Koi Mani

Hi folks! I'm out of town for the weekend, but I'm so excited about this manicure that I couldn't wait until Monday to feature it.  Its inspired by Koi and the various markings each breed has.  I've always thought Koi were beautiful creatures and their colors are perfect for this transitional period between Summer and Fall!

I used this photo for inspiration and reference.

Left Hand
Pinkie = 8
Ring = 13
Middle = 17
Index = 19
Thumb = My own creation

Right Hand
Pinkie = 32
Ring =  18
Middle = 35
Index = 21
Thumb = 7

Zoya - Kyle2;  Starrily - Walking On Fire;  Zoya - Kate

JulieG - White Orchid;  Zoya - Ginessa

JulieG - Black Sheep;  Starrily - Flight of the Bumblebee

Top Coats
Zoya - Hurry Up Fast Dry Drops*;  Zoya - Chloe;  Sally Hansen - Diamond Flash

I started with a coat of JulieG - White Orchid on all of my nails except my right middle finger and right thumb.  I followed the white with a coat of Zoya - Ginessa.  For the bare thumb and finger started with a Jelly Sandwich of Zoya - Kylie2, then Starrily - Walking On Fire, then Zoya - Kate.

From there, I used a dotting tool to make the patterns and markings on the nails, sometimes overlapping colors (like on the left Index finger).  The more imperfect it is, the better it looks- it reminded me of doing leopard print in that sense!  Anytime I wanted orange in places I followed the same Jelly Sandwich process to keep the look congruent.

For the black areas, I kept the Flight Of The Bumblebee sparse, and overlapped onto the white just a little to get a few of the tiny black glitters to show up. I did the same in a few places with Walking On Fire, just to add to the 'scale' look.  I added Zoya - Chloe over each nail before topcoating.  Chloe really shows off her magic over dark polishes, and in this look she adds a slight 'scaley' texture to the black areas without adding color.

My left thumb ended up with a Gradient/Jelly Sandwich combo, which I think turned out really cool.
Koi Markings mani - Sunlight
Direct sunlight

I tried a more simple, abstract version of this before removing it and trying for more realistic markings.  I think this lovely too and perfect for someone who wants this look but isn't confident in their nail art skills.  Its just layering glitters over base colors!

Abstract Koi markings achieved by layering glitters.
Abstract Koi markings achieved by layering glitters.
For this I used:
JulieG - Black Sheep
JulieG - White Orchid
Zoya - Kylie2
Starrily - Walking On Fire
Starrily - Flight of the Bumblebee
Starrily - White Noise
JulieG - Cleopatra's Cobra
Zoya - Chloe
Sally Hansen - Diamond Flash Top Coat

You could also change this up by doing the solid orangey-coral color on all your nails and doing a Koi Pattern on an accent nail if these are too busy for your liking.

So there's some ideas for a different animal print to try out!  You could use any orange, black, or white polish, and several brands make Mylar top coats now, but I must say that Starrily's glitters** are fabulous for this look!

If you decide to recreate these looks, please share some photos with me at or on The Dragon's Vanity Facebook page!  Have a great weekend everyone!

*There are a LOT of layers in this look so the Fast-Dry Drops helped ensure each layer was cured before the next layer went over it.  You could probably do this look without them, but it would take forever for it to dry.

**No, I am not being compensated for mentioning Starrily, I just really like their products and believe in supporting small businesses.