Blog Hop! Link Up with LambAround

It's time to throw your blogging hat into the ring and share a post or two of your own.

Who else has a long weekend? I don't have to go into work again until Wednesday! And, after that, I'm off again until Monday. I see a lot of laziness in my near future.

Ahhh, so happy. And now...

A Blogger's Before & After Guide to Chemical Peels

Considering a chemical peel? I recently underwent my first Jessner peel and thought I'd share my results, post a Jessner peel review, and answer some frequently asked chemical peel questions (I'm guessing that "Does a chemical peel hurt?" is a biggie!). I'd been planning to order an over-the-counter peel (this one specifically, which I still haven't tried but has great reviews) but my computer led me a different direction.

I decided to do this on a whim, after LivingSocial greeted me one morning with a great $40 chemical peel deal.

Now, I can read your mind. You just gasped in horror and thought You trusted your face to a discount chemical peel?! You're wondering where my mother was and why she didn't stop me. But not to worry. Really!

Here is my Jessner peel before and after:

Chemical Peel Before & After

Also known as "EEEK!" and "Oooh, Ahhh"

Not too shabby, right? To be fair, the "before" is extra bad because the Jessner peel had just been done and I'm making my "not sure sharing this on the internet is such a good idea/my skin is ruined" face and my "after" was taken right before leaving for work, about a week and a half after the procedure. Still, it's hard to argue against getting a chemical peel after seeing the results. 

I would love to do a few more chemical peels soon (I've read that a series of 6, spaced about a month apart, yields the best results) and have been diligently scouring Groupon and LivingSocial. Maybe some smart Albuquerque dermatologist is reading this Jessner peel review right now, realizing that giving free chemical peels to me in exchange for a sponsored blog post is a super deal that will increase their business (hint, hint, whoever you are!).

Shameless, aren't I? Anyway, I wouldn't say the results after only 1 peel are drastic enough that people are going to stop in their tracks when they see you, but you can definitely see a change when looking up close in a mirror. Your face looks "fresh", which makes sense because a chemical peel works by peeling off all your old skin. It's like an extreme exfoliation, achieving results you can't get from microdermabrasion. In fact, now that I've had a chemical peel, I feel like the few times I've paid for a microdermabrasion (also Groupon!) were a waste of money. The two procedures cost about the same and the results are just not comparable.

Feel free to comment if you have a question I haven't answered. I'm happy to help! Keep in mind, of course, that everything here is my own opinion from my own chemical peel experience. If you have a special medical condition or have had an adverse reaction to a beauty treatment before, I would absolutely check with an expert before undergoing a Jessner chemical peel.

Now, let's get those questions answered!

Does a chemical peel/Jessner peel hurt?

In my experience, it didn't hurt at all. The sensation was like the slight burn you feel after applying astringent to your face. Maybe a teenie bit more extreme, like if you'd exfoliated before using the astringent. It's not something they're going to start offering at Disneyland, but it's nothing to cry about. I might just be an oddball though. Really, it does seem like brushing acid onto your face would hurt, right?

Before starting, the woman who did my peel insisted that I tell her how much pain I was in. She would apply a little of the Jessner peel solution and have me report on a scale of 1 (fine and dandy) to 10 (want to rip my skin off) how bad my face felt. After the first layer, I told her I was a 2. I actually felt pretty normal, except for the areas around my lips and at the top of my cheeks, which were warm and tingly. She seemed startled by my low number. She fanned cool air onto my skin, which I've read online is standard chemical peel procedure. I didn't feel like it made much difference - it was actually a little bit annoying! The next layer was applied and I was asked to report on the 1 to 10 scale again. I felt the same as before, but the woman had seemed so surprised earlier that I didn't want to admit to it. I told her I was a 2.5.

Ultimately, 3 layers of Jessner peel solution were applied and my pain level maxed out at a 2.75 (which, looking back, surely drove the woman applying my peel completely crazy!) It felt like the skin around my mouth and at the top of my cheeks was hot, which I told the woman as each layer was applied.

Recovering from the peel wasn't particularly bad either. The worst part was that my face felt uncomfortably tight and slightly itchy. It looked like all the moisture had been sucked out of it, leaving a desert of scorched skin. Every little wrinkle and crease was magnified. It felt somewhat like a sunburn. Speaking of which, I'd heard a common chemical peel side effect is that your face becomes bright red for a few days to weeks, but I didn't experience that problem. My skin was red immediately after the peel, but was mostly back to its regular shade within a few hours.

The circled areas were the most affected by the peel and took the longest time to heal. Since these were the same parts of my face that had been hot/tingly during the procedure, I was concerned that maybe the peel had been too strong in these areas and that I might have permanent scarring or discoloration. The top of my cheeks looked like they had been burned! Everything turned out fine though and, before disappearing, the redness was only noticeable without makeup.

How should I prepare for a chemical peel?

Exfoliate like crazy! I hadn't been sure whether or not to do this beforehand (and, silly me, it never crossed my mind to look it up online or to simply call and ask) so I did a sort of haphazard exfoliation beforehand, with St. Ives Apricot Scrub, unsure whether doing so was harmful or helpful. When I arrived for my peel, I was asked whether I wanted to start with a microdermabrasion to improve the results. I've been kicking myself ever since!

Also, it's good to arrive for your chemical peel with a clean face, free of makeup, and to stock up on sunscreen beforehand. You'll also want to have a gentle moisturizer for later. I checked with the woman who did my peel about whether I should skip my usual moisturizer, which contains retinol, for a week or so afterward. She just about fell over! You must not use retinol right after doing a chemical peel.

How long does a Jessner peel take?

I was in the office for just over 30 minutes, from the time I walked through the door to the time I left.

You're only 29. Isn't that too young for a chemical peel?

Nope! If you've been reading my blog, you might have seen my posts Who Wants Pretty Skin? I Do! I Do! and I'm in Therapy. The skin on my face apparently hates me and only responds to being beaten into submission and blasted by microscopic laser beams. As a teenager, I hoped (and, to be honest, somewhat expected) that my embarrassing cystic acne would magically disappear on my 18th birthday. Eleven years later, my annoying skin problem continues to flare up about once a month, leaving dark spots that have barely faded by the time the next month's round of acne fun comes along.

Acne is bad enough when you're in high school and everyone else is dealing with the same problem. It's especially awkward as an adult, trying to look professional at work while your boss "helpfully" suggests that your skin would clear right up if you stopped eating chocolate altogether. 

Like heck I'm giving up chocolate. You give up your chocolate!

What were the results of your chemical peel?

My pores looked smaller and clean. My face seemed "brighter", like if I'd gotten a good night's sleep. Dark spots from recent breakouts literally peeled off with my old skin, leaving a mostly even skin tone in their place. There is a wrinkle on my forehead that I've had for as long as I can remember. It's still there, of course, but it isn't as deep. An unexpected bonus was that when my next monthly breakout session rolled around, it was barely noticeable. I would love to be able to do regular Jessner peels just to keep my acne under control.

When is the best time to do a chemical peel?

Schedule a chemical peel for when you have time away from work and other social commitments. I wouldn't do one with anything less than a 3 day weekend. Although my peel didn't hurt, I was shocked to see my face in the mirror immediately afterward. It was bright red and looked terrible. This is not a lunchtime cosmetic procedure.

I actually had 5 days off, including the day of the peel. As a bonus, Sexy Nerd just happened to have a business trip scheduled at the same time, meaning he wouldn't have to see me shuffling around our house like the undead! Although it seems like everything was timed perfectly, I wish I'd planned things on a different timescale. The peel was done at 3pm on Thursday and I was needed back at work Tuesday. Perfect, right? Wrong! Although I wouldn't have wanted to return to work that same day, my skin actually looked relatively decent on Friday. It was nothing makeup couldn't have covered. The peeling didn't actually begin until Saturday night.

My timing couldn't have been much worse. After a 5 day weekend, the peeling really started to go nuts on Tuesday morning - just in time for me to go to work! Sometimes, it seems like the universe is just being a jerk, doesn't it? I tried to cover my peeling skin with concealer, foundation, and powder (anything I could think of!) but it isn't something that can be hidden. And, as the woman who applied the peel made very clear, you must never, ever pick at the peeling skin or you'll risk scarring.

I walked around work all day with giant pieces of skin hanging from my chin, cheeks, and forehead, looking like someone had pressed my face to a cheese grater. Even worse? I kept finding little bits that had fallen off stuck to my shirt and around my desk.

Sorry, you're just going to have to go to work like this.

(Even worse, this photo is from Sunday, before the peeling got too wild.)

With a chemical peel, timing is everything!

Austin Hudson-LaPore

 Austin Hudson-LaPore: July 8, 1992-June 19, 2013

Yesterday was a long, difficult day. Austin was found in Lake Michigan by a fisherman.

We really tried. I hope Austin's family knows that we did everything we could think of. I hope they know that he meant so much to so many people. It's unimaginable what they must be going through and I just feel so, so sorry that this happened. I'm posting all of this on my blog because I want other people to know how special Austin was. I want other people to care.

Austin's family searched desperately for him in Chicago. His friends back home contacted every media outlet imaginable to raise awareness. The Today Show interviewed his parents, then bumped his story. Even here in Albuquerque, where Austin grew up and graduated from the Albuquerque Academy (one of our top schools), our local paper and news stations didn't care. My boss called the editor at the Albuquerque Journal to plead for them to feature Austin's story. She was hung up on. We even emailed the president (Austin lived in Hyde Park, which is where Obama used to live). All this was a desperate attempt to increase the resources available to Austin's family for the search. Is it me, or should the family of a missing child not have to beg for help?

We wanted the Chicago police to do more. I don't understand why Austin's parents had to rely on a volunteer to provide a search dog. The Chicago police have a K9 team. It is my understanding that Austin's parents requested their help, but were refused.

It's sickening. If it's any tiny consolation, Austin was at least doing what he loved. Weather fascinated him. Recently, he even got to take a trip to Antarctica, which must have been amazing for him.

He was also a Nascar fan, just like my Sexy Nerd.

I'm sure that when people hear that a student drowned in Lake Michigan, many of them think he was drunk or screwing around. For Austin, this is 100% untrue. He was unbelievably smart. He and his friends even placed second in the entire country in the National Science Bowl. Here is a photo:

That's Austin over on the right.

I wish everyone could appreciate what an amazing person the world has just been deprived of. While other kids were out getting into typical teenager trouble, Austin and his friends were studying science, for no reason other than their own interest in the subject. I don't doubt that he could have cured cancer one day or solved our energy crisis. In just a few weeks, Austin would have begun his senior year at the University of Chicago, earning a degree in biochemistry.

This is such a rambly post. I don't really know what to say. Here are a few newspaper clippings saved by Austin's friend, Ari:

Austin was 20. I'm 29. The last 9 years have been some of the best of my life. I got married, traveled the world, graduated from college, and bought my first home. I worked at a job I love, which is actually what led to me being in the loop of Austin's tragic story. My relationship with my family transitioned and improved greatly as I went from teenager to adult. It's so unfair that Austin will never get to experience any of this. What if Austin had gotten married? Somewhere out there, there could be a 20 year old girl whose entire life just changed and she will never even know it.

The other boy in the photo above are Austin's friends Ari, Ryan, and Ben. I've met Ben several times and I have watched Ari grow up. They're incredibly nice and are just all-around good people. They don't deserve to lose their friend. It's heartbreaking.

*For my regular readers, I would normally post my blog's weekly Not "Baaad" blog party tomorrow. It will return next weekend.

Missing University of Chicago Student: Austin Hudson-LaPore

Missing University of Chicago Student: Austin Hudson-LaPore

(PLEASE share this and help get the word out!)

He's a brilliant and kind kid from Albuquerque, NM. There's no way he was involved in drugs or anything else. Everyone here at home is just devastated. We've contacted everyone we can think of, from our local politicians to the authorities in Illinois.

The media has been mostly ignoring his story, but if we can generate enough interest, they will have to pay attention!

Sharing Austin's story does make a difference. Here is part of a conversation between me and Austin's dad:

Give our best to Dan and Rachelle and have them do their best to spread the word on Austin's disappearance via Facebook or any email lists they might have. The publicity is getting lots of resources mobilized for us.

Just recently, a canine tracker joined the search at no charge. The media exposure is also resulting in more involvement from the Chicago police.

Help Find Austin Hudson-LaPore

Today, I'm sharing a link to Austin Hudson-LaPore is an Albuquerque, NM native and graduate of Albuquerque Academy. He recently disappeared from Chicago, IL.

For my employer, he is a family friend.

Please take a moment to share his links via your own blog, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and any other way available. Help get the word out.

Thank you!

Link Up/Blog Hop - Share Your Links!

Still no news about Omaha. Phooey!

How's the weather where you are? I hear we made the national news here in Albuquerque for being so stinking hot. It actually didn't seem that bad to me, but to be fair, I've been spending my days with my good friend, Mr. Air Conditioner.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

The Challenges of Life with a Beard

Long before Duck Dynasty made the "crazy mountain man look" cool, there was Biscuit.

She will tell you that having a beard is not all it's cracked up to be. Sure, the ladies love it. But your confidence goes right out the window when you realize you've been strutting around all afternoon with a leaf dangling from it, utterly oblivious.

Things are especially rough when your mom and dad laugh at you and post your beard faux pas for all the internet to see.

Though, some might argue referring to themselves as their dog's mom and dad qualifies as a faux pas of their own.

Linky Party - Blog Hop with LambAround

Click the descriptions to visit the site and click the photos to share via Pinterest. Have a safe and happy weekend, bloggy friends!

Those Crazy New Mexico Drivers

On Saturday, my mom, aunt Jackie, and I spent the day in Santa Fe. We shopped, enjoyed a top-notch happy hour at Zia Diner, and strolled around the plaza. The highlight of our day, however, had to be the car I parked near (but not too near!) when we dropped my aunt off at the Buffalo Thunder Resort.

The car is resting on top of the concrete barrier.

How does someone do this??

They took the time to put up the sun shade!

My mom took this photo of me. I was going for a look of amusement, but didn't quite nail it. I blame my braces for giving me a toothless, old lady smile.

And, yes, that is a coffee and a Diet Coke. I needed some caffeine for my long drive back to Albuquerque. They're both complimentary at the casino, so why choose?
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