Clear Skin is Important: How to Get the Skin You Deserve

Basket of products

On Ladies Again, we write about better ways to take care of yourself because we realize that self-care is important to femininity. It is for this reason that we write about our own journeys with weight loss and finding makeup and self-care routines that work effectively. Below, I’m sharing my own personal journey through one aspect of self-care.

For years, I struggled with an obsession that I hid in secret. I would think about it every day, like when I showered, when I was at work, when I was in the library, when I watched television and when I read magazines. I would think about it especially when I noticed my reflection in mirrors and building windows. My obsession was my skin, which was plagued with large cystic acne.

For years, I coasted through high school and college with little to no acne. I had a few small forehead bumps occasionally, but I never had substantial pimples or breakouts on my face. My skin was so clear and smooth that I sometimes received compliments from others about the quality of my skin. All of this ended after I graduated from college and decided to stop taking hormonal birth control. Suddenly and without warning, I started getting large red blotches on my face and massive cystic pimples under the surface of my skin. Shortly after the pimples subsided, dark-colored and deep-pitted acne scars started to form on my face. My beautiful clear skin became rough, blotchy and pitted. I started to have serious anxiety about my skin. My friends and family started to notice the acne breakout happening on my face. Like it or not, your physical appearance is the first impression you make to the world, and I was cognizant of this fact more than ever before. I felt helpless and I was confused about what was going on with my skin, and I felt ashamed and embarrassed.

Makeup did not work to cover it up, and neither did over-the-counter acne facial washes and acne creams. Products that were supposed to help the acne ended up drying out my skin, which encouraged my skin to produce more oil. With the additional oil production, I ended up using more drying creams, and the cycle continued. I also spent a great deal of money on pricey dermatologists. One sinister (and highly-respected) dermatologist convinced me to take powerful antibiotics for months to keep the acne at bay. Doing so led me to have serious gastrointestinal issues as a result. Nothing worked.

Collectively, I spent hours researching acne treatments online and in libraries. I tried one quack acne method after another. I gave up peanut oil and I applied ice packs to my face every day. At one point, at my craziest point, I was sleeping every night with a few cold green teabags on my face. Crazy and desperate, right?

Image of Clear Skin Weekend bookOne day, by sheer luck, I stumbled upon a book that described the role diet plays in supporting overall health. The book, Clear Skin Weekend, specifically detailed the way that processed sugar in particular increases the production of hormones that create oil. Bacteria is attracted to excess oil, so skin infections (acne) happen when bacteria invade the oily pores. People with acne-prone skin have unique skin that is prone to trapping oil, which is why they must take additional steps to minimize the oil and subsequent harmful bacteria on their skin.

Clear Skin Weekend changed my life! The book made it is easy for me to understand the connection between diet and skin care, and gave me simple steps to take to improve my skin and overall health on a regular basis. I learned about all of the different ways that acne-prone skin is unique. Usually acne is caused by a hormonal imbalance paired with acne-prone skin. But sometimes, acne can be caused by a fungal infection or a reaction or allergy to a product.

The book also helped me to realize that sometimes conventional wisdom is wrong. For years, the medical profession has said that there is no link between diet and acne, but new research is showing that they are wrong. I now realize that the birth control impacted my hormones levels in a drastic way, which was altered when I stopped taking the birth control. Then, my hormone levels continued to spiral out of control when I began eating a diet high in refined sugars and low in fiber. Clear Skin Weekend gave me a list of steps to take to change my diet for the better and get my skin back to normal. Not only did my skin improve, but my overall health changed. I had more energy and I lost weight.

The book also discussed ways to improve the skin through select products. I learned that products, like skin exfoliants, that work for many people may be abrasive for individuals with acne-prone skin. Acne-prone skin is unique in that it needs to be exfoliated more often than other skin types to stay acne-free, but the methods and products used to exfoliate the skin must be gentle in nature. So, think gentle enzyme exfoliants, not abrasive sea salt exfoliants. The book also detailed hair and skin care products that are harmful to the skin.

If you struggle with acne, consider reading the ground-breaking guidebook Clear Skin Weekend. It’s worth the investment if it will change your overall physical health and improve your self-esteem.

What are your experiences with acne and skin care? Talk about your experiences reading Clear Skin Weekend using the hashtag #ladiesagain.

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Five Easy Steps to a Clean and Respectable Home

Woman cleaning.

Have you ever been in a disorganized, cluttered and filthy home? You know, one that is filled with stacks of papers, crowded kitchen sinks, overflowing trash cans and grimy toilet seats? I, unfortunately, have experienced the horror of being inside filthy homes before. These of the homes of my colleagues, classmates and family members. I’ve been in homes so messy that I was not sure where to step or sit down, for fear of sitting on an item or stepping on clutter. The clutter is not just limited to the home: A messy person is messy everywhere. I’ve also had the unfortunate luck of being inside of someone’s cluttered car or messy work office.

There could be a variety of reasons that explain why a person a person could have a cluttered home. It could be that messiness is in some way related to a lack of conscientiousness, or a lack of inattentiveness to detail (messiness is common among people with Attention Deficit Disorder). Or, the person could just be busy and does not make cleaning a priority for some reason. It’s also possible that a cluttered person may have hoarding tendencies and feel an unhealthy attachment to material items. Or maybe, some messy people just feel more comfortable living in cluttered environments, similar to pigs in a muddy pigsty. I once had a roommate who, when the subject of cleanliness came up, said that she preferred her house to look “lived in,” and that too much cleanliness was overbearing. Yuck.

Cleanliness is a subject of utmost importance to feminine ladies. A clean home is a welcoming home. You should feel pride in being a responsible person who keeps their home clean and organized. Hold yourself to high standards because it is up to you to make cleaning a priority. Neglect is not sexy nor is it healthy. Additionally, a messy home communicates instability of some sort. And think about how productive you could be if you maintained a clean and organized home! I have always believed that messiness, in general, is bad, but I think it is unforgivable if a messy home belongs to a woman. I have just always imagined that our kind and compassionate nature would naturally lend itself to help us keep our homes clean. But, alas, some women struggle with cleanliness more than others.

Perhaps cleanliness is a challenge for you. You may want to keep your home cleaner, but you just do not have the time. Below, we offer a few easy ways to keep your home clean.

Get to the Problem First

If your home is frequently cluttered or unorganized, what is causing the clutter? Are you too busy? Or, if you are honest with yourself, do you dislike cleaning? Do you live alone and lack pressure to keep your house clean until guests come over? Are you unorganized in all aspects of your life? Are you busier than you should be? Take some time this week to think about what is causing the clutter in your life. Think about specific examples to get to the source of the issue. Think about your bathroom, for example. Do you empty the trash every on a schedule, or do you just dump the wastebasket when the trash overflows? If it is the latter, what is stopping you from cleaning the bathroom regularly? You need to get to the root of the problem before you can solve it.

Make a Schedule

If you wait until your home needs to be cleaned to get your home in order, it will never look clean. You should not wait until your trash piles up or there is mold growing on the shower tiles before you decide to put your gloves on and do some cleaning. You should set aside at least an hour every week to clean your home. You may need to set aside more time than that depending on the size of the home. Pick a day in the week to schedule a time clean your home, which includes doing a deep cleaning of your kitchen sink, dumping the trash, disinfecting the kitchen counters, mopping/vacuuming the floor, scrubbing the tub, washing your bathroom sink and cleaning the toilet. Set aside an additional 20 minutes to file and sort any paperwork or tools that are lying around your home.

Have a System

Do you mentally have a system for how you like to clean your home? Create a cleaning methodology. Decide, for example, that you want to prefer to clean your kitchen before you clean your bedroom and bathroom. Then, move on to cleaning your car or closets, if that is a part of your system. Make a habit to keep a certain amount of bleach and other cleaning products in your bathroom and kitchen. Create a system that works just for you.

Have Fun!

Figure out how to make cleaning more enjoyable. When you figure out how to make it a fun activity, you’ll be more inclined to do it regularly. I love cleaning because it is the one time every week when I have downtime to myself. I can de-stress from the week’s activities when I’m mopping or cleaning my refrigerator. I also like to listen to music on full blast when I’m cleaning. I might even dance a little when I’m cleaning. Some people may listen to a television show or film while they clean. Find a way to make cleaning fun!

What’s your cleaning technique? And do you have any horror stories from visiting other people’s homes? Share in the comments below!

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Why You Need to Get a Plant Today

Image of plants

How do you show love and care to others on a regular basis? In what ways do you like to show your spouse that you care about them? How do you care for your family and friends? And if you have them, how do you show love to your children?

One of the hallmarks of being a lady is being empathetic to the needs of others. Feminine women know how to show others that they care about them, and that they are understanding and attune to the needs of others. The difference between feminine women and masculine women is in the effort made to think about how to care and support people other than themselves. They know how to listen carefully to loved ones to find ways that they can support them better. Perhaps that includes bringing soup to a friend feeling sick, baking muffins for a neighbor, or offering to drive a relative to a job interview. It might even include occasionally sending a friend a card or hand-written note to show them that you care. Feminine women are masters at recognizing ways to help others around them.

As I continue on my journey to to improve my sense of femininity, I am always looking for ways to improve myself every day. It sounds crazy, but one of the best ways to improve compassion for others is to start small and get a houseplant. I know, you’re probably thinking, how is a nonverbal, static houseplant going to help me improve my compassion for others? Plants are great way to train yourself to think about other entities on a regular basis for several reasons. First, having a plant improves your sensitivity to the needs of others. The only way to keep the plant thriving and healthy is to pay careful attention to its needs. Does your plant need new soil? Is the plant dry and limp? Does it need sunlight? As a plant owner, you will need to think carefully about what the plant needs to stay alive. Depending on the plant, some houseplants require more care than others―think orchids, not peace lilies―so you can actually train yourself to be more caring by purchasing very delicate plants.

Image of houseplants

Second, plants require regular and consistent care, and having one in your home reminds you that the world does not revolve around you all the time. Other people have needs too, and having a plant teaches you to think about things other than yourself and your needs. Much in the same way that plant owners must remind themselves to water and re-pot their plants, feminine women also might remind themselves to call a distance relative to check up on them, or to make plans to visit a long-distance friend.

If you are interested in learning how to improve your sense of femininity, start small by getting one plant, and build up to buying 10-12 plants for your home. Your home will look better as a result of your efforts. If you have enough space in your home, consider upping the ante and starting a small garden. At one point a few years ago, I had a small vegetable garden on my balcony that brought me so much joy! I could not wait to get home from work to check on my tomatoes and zucchinis. At the same time that I had my balcony garden, I spent a lot of time caring for my partner and friends, and I attribute some of that caring to my garden. If there was a barometer for care and kindness to others, my levels were off the chart that summer thanks to my garden!

How do you show love and care through plants? Take a photo of your plant and share it using the hashtag #ladiesagain.

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Relationships Are Hard, But Why?

Couple in the Park

It’s been a very busy few months for all of us at Ladies Again. I joined a salsa dance team (to learn how to be more feminine, of course) and African Femininity started a fabulous new job. We’re also in the process of bringing on new writers to Ladies Again, so that is exciting!

Sometime in the last month, through the rush of all of the things going on in my life, I set aside some time to watch a short TED Talk called “Relationships Are Hard, But Why?” While watching the video, I had an epiphany: So much about what we’ve written on Ladies Again has been about attracting the right person and learning to be more feminine for that person, that it never occurred to me that it was possible that we could be the cause for our own negative relationship issues. I never realized that early childhood attachment issues could re-emerge during adulthood. According to Dr. Stan Tatkin, the TED Talk speaker, attachment issues have the power to negatively influence our ability to maintain healthy functioning relationships.

Dr. Tatkin defines people as anchors, waves and islands. Those individuals who are waves and islands experienced insecure attachment relationships during their formative first years. He defines the three groups in the following ways (summarized by Clinton Power):

Characteristics of Islands

People who are islands tend to:

  • like to be alone, enjoy their own space
  • have been raised to be self-sufficient and tend to avoid people
  • learn early on not to depend on people
  • often feel crowded in intimate relationships
  • be in a world of their own
  • self-soothe and self-stimulate
  • not turn to others for soothing or stimulation
  • find it hard to shift from being alone to interacting
  • under express their thoughts and feelings
  • process a lot internally

Characteristics of Waves

People who are waves tend to:

  • feel a great deal with their emotions
  • have strong attachments in childhood, but they were inconsistent
  • have helped soothe a parent or both parents who were overwhelmed
  • have felt rejected or turned away by one or both parents
  • focus on external regulation: asking others to help them soothe them
  • find it hard to shift from interacting to being alone
  • over-express and like to talk about all the details
  • stay in close physical contact to others
  • often think they are too much and nobody can tolerate them

Characteristics of Anchors

People who are anchors tend to:

  • come from a family where there was an emphasis on relationships
  • have experienced justice, fairness and sensitivity in their family
  • love to collaborate and work with others
  • read faces, voices and deal with difficult people well

Do any of these descriptions sound familiar? Read more in Tatkin’s illuminating book “Wired for Dating.”

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How Intentional Self-Care Can Increase Your Femininity

Getting a manicure

Have you ever left the house in grungy clothes, without your hair or makeup done, because you thought you wouldn’t see anyone you know? This mindset seems common among young women. Modern-day dress codes are remarkably relaxed compared to what they were a couple of generations ago. (Don’t even get me started on leggings!) Unless you work in a traditional corporate environment, you probably don’t have to dress up regularly. And by “dressing up,” I don’t just mean wearing business clothes; I mean putting time into your hair, making sure your hands are manicured, and polishing your shoes. Think about it – when was the last time you polished a pair of shoes?!

Say No to Leggings

On top of this generational change, we feel as though we can be especially careless when no one is around. Working from home? Why not stay in your pjs! Staying in to catch up on chores? Forgo the morning routine!

These habits may seem harmless; maybe even an improvement from the rigorous appearance expectations of generations past, but they may be diminishing our femininity. Plus, what message do you communicate to others (and to yourself) when you only feel the need to look nice when you will see specific people? It seems to me that this whispers the idea that I am “less” on my own; that my value comes through being validated by others. This is clearly a degrading idea when written out on paper, so why do we behave this way? Trading self-care for convenience subtly eliminates our unique feminine aura that make us so different from men.

To remedy this problem, I suggest that we start putting more effort into our looks for the sake of ourselves. I personally struggle with this because I’m a very low-maintenance person. When left to my own devices, my appearance turns into a frizzy, wrinkled mess. I’ve even worn clothes that smelled like mildew because I was too lazy to remove my clothes them from the washing machine in time! This behavior may be suitable for a male college student, but certainly not for a feminine woman. And I definitely don’t want to bring these habits into my future marriage. If you also hope to be married, realize that marriage won’t change you into a new person with new habits. That is why we must improve ourselves now.

If you live in a cold climate, winter is the perfect time to put some self-care into practice. I’ve started to regularly exfoliating my skin by making homemade sugar scrub with three ingredients: granulated sugar, essential oil (lavender works great), and an oil, such as olive or coconut. I’m actually killing two birds with one stone because the scrub is a handy way to use up the refined sugar I’m trying to cut out of my diet. Another habit to pick up in the dead of winter when there’s nothing going on is to draw a relaxing, hot bath. Add Epsom salts and essential oils to your bath water to detoxify and relax. If you’re really feeling motivated, light some candles and put some music on. After a few nights of treating yourself to these mini spa sessions, the week won’t seem normal without them!

So what I’ve learned from this experiment in self-care for the sake of self-care is that when you treat yourself poorly when you’re alone, it really does affect your outlook. Taking time to treat yourself well can very possibly “change your life,” because even though others may not notice, you will know that you’re wearing underwear that matches your bra, that your cuticles are trimmed and moisturized, that your hair is regularly trimmed, and that you floss your teeth everyday — and consequently have excellent gum health. Even small changes can boost your confidence levels. And we all know how attractive confidence is in men and women.

Maybe you think you are too busy to add self-care to your schedule. Well, we are all busy, but after considering the changes that can happen in your life, why not make time to do things like have your nails done (or do your own manicure), keep your ends trimmed, and perhaps re-work your budget to get an occasional massage? (The benefits of massage are well-documented, by the way. We also wrote about massage techniques before.)

After implementing some new habits into your life, you may start to notice that you are becoming a softer, more gentle person. As you treat your body and mind gently, you may in-turn treat the world more gently. This has a profound effect on the way that people react to you. For example, treating
men with genuine respect may result in men, if they are worth their salt, showing appropriate affection toward you!

Speaking of the way you treat your mind, intentional self-care cannot be limited to our physical bodies. We must also care for our minds and spirits. The Bible instructs us to guard our hearts with all vigilance, for from them flow the springs of life (Proverbs 4:23). Our brains are constantly processing information from the media, TV, movies, friendships,  relationships, and basically everything we’re exposed to.

Consider also this passage:

“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure,
whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or
praiseworthy – think about such things.” – Philippians 4:8

We must be the guardians of our hearts, and the way we do that is by carefully choosing what we allow into our minds. In addition to the  information we consume, we also must be conscious of what we say. Life and death are in the power of the tongue. Perverse speech can break the spirit. (Yes, more Bible verses – they just pop into my mind!) Dwell on what is true, and speak what is true in love. This will profit our overall health. Humans are made of mind, body, and spirit – and good health means that all three of these components work together harmoniously.

To bring all of this information to a point: femininity is about having a spirit of openness. When we “tie up the loose ends” of our personal care routine, we become more confident and open to receive from others. As our insecurities start to diminish, we can love others well through vulnerability. So slow down and introduce some tender love and care into your life. As they say, to love others you must first love yourself.

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Ladies are Always on Time

Woman Rushing

You’re meeting a friend for dinner, and you were supposed to be there at 2:00 p.m. Traffic is moving at a turtle’s pace. You rush to park and you run into the restaurant sweaty and flustered. It’s 2:47 p.m. and you’re late again. Sound familiar?

If you’re like me, you may have had similar struggles getting to places on time. I call it being “punctually-challenged.” Getting anywhere has always been a very serious struggle for me. I’ve been late to dinners, weddings, graduations, exams, and hair appointments. I have always known that I have had a problem with punctuality, but I did not seriously confront the issue until I missed a flight earlier this year, and I had to pay quite a bit of money to buy a last-minute replacement ticket. Not only did I have to pay for the extra ticket, but I missed an important meeting because of the flight delay.

Eventually, I had to admit the truth: Regardless of the exact reasons for my tardiness, my inability to show up on time was turning me into a person who was unreliable, rude and inconsiderate. These are all qualities that are neither feminine nor caring. Even though I may have had very legitimate reasons for being late from time to time, it was ultimately my fault I was late at the end of the day. I could have added more time to my schedule to prepare, and I chose not to do so.

Never Be Late book cover.
Never Be Late book cover.

All hope is not lost, because there are a number of ways to curtail frequent tardiness. To learn how to improve my timeliness skills, I sought out Diana DeLonzor’s book “Never Be Late Again: 7 Cures for the Punctuality Challenged.” In the book, DeLonzor describes a few of the root causes of lateness and procrastination, such as genetics, anxiety, attention deficit disorders and indulgent childhood experiences. Some people are thrill-seekers who need a sense of urgency to get things done, while others have a hard time saying “no” to meetings and tasks. DeLonzor argues that punctually-challenged people have time management issues for a variety of issues, such as a lack of discipline and goal-setting skills. Additionally, DeLonzor states that a large number of procrastinators have time perception issues, where they think that it takes less time than it actually does to complete work assignments.

The first step to curing tardiness issues is to take responsibility for your lateness. Decide that it is unacceptable to be late. When you decide to meet at a particular time, you are making a promise to your friends and employers to be responsible. Start to think of lateness as a “promise broken or as a loan unpaid.”

“Many people rationalize their lateness by attributing it to factors beyond their control or by minimizing the selfishness of the act,” DeLonzor writes in the book. “Yet in failing to acknowledge and take responsibility for our actions, we hamper efforts to improve.”

The next step of curbing your lateness is to change the way that you think about waiting time, such as when you are early or bored. I had an issue getting places early because I did not want to just sit around and wait for the other person to arrive. After all, bored time is wasted time, right? Wrong! Fill that time doing something that you like to do, such as reading a magazine. You can write in a journal when you have free time. Or just look out at the sunset. I now carry a small book with me everywhere so that I can always read in my extra down time. Always plan to get to your meeting early, rather than exactly on time. Aim to get places 10-30 minutes early, that way you have a buffer in case something goes wrong that causes a delay in your schedule.

Find a way to say “no!” to yourself by repeating a personal mantra. Procrastinators tend to pile on activities to fill their day, so they often convince themselves that they can get everything done smoothly, even when they cannot. DeLonzor explains:

“Create a mantra to curb your optimism. Instead of saying ‘If I hurry, I can …,’ slow down for a few minutes, take a deep breath and think about what you’re doing. Then repeat one of the following mantras: ‘Am I being realistic or optimistic?’ ‘Am I doing too much?’ ‘Is this something I really need to do now?'”

DeLonzor offers a number of exercises to help the punctually-challenged curtail their timeliness issues. Overall, it’s a great read for anyone who has experienced issues getting places on time.

What are your strategies for getting places on time? Share them in the comments below?

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