My Natural Skincare Routine

I’ve been writing about habits lately — and how my self-care routines have suffered quite a bit in the last few months (let’s be real, they weren’t super great before that). My skincare routine is an area where I regularly fall short, but now that I’m well into my 35th year, I have been eager to find products that are effective and appropriate for my skin now, which especially after pregnancy, is much different than my skin five years ago.

My Natural Skincare Routine | Oil Cleansing | Homemade Skincare Products

My skin tends to be on the oily side — though less so than it used to be. In early high school, I had terrible acne and went through the gamut of dermatologist-prescribed cleansers, creams, and medications. Nothing really worked until my mom ordered me Proactive, and just like the commercials promised, my skin did a 180, and I became a happy, well-adjusted teen.

Not really about that second part. But I’d prefer to be an angsty teen with clear skin over an angsty teen with acne.

And so, for the better part of 20 years, I’ve been using Proactive. From time to time, I’d switch things up, usually with Cetaphil, but I’ve also been roped into some insanely over-promised, over-priced cleansers that never ended up changing my life/making all my dreams come true.

But, I’ve known for awhile that it was time to move on from Proactive. My skin doesn’t break out like it used to, and it’s rather harsh for a daily cleanser. I stopped using Proactive’s toner and repairing cream years ago, and I’m not a fan of the auto-ship program. Moreover, while I’m not one of those EVERYTHING MUST BE ORGANIC/NATURAL/NON-TOXIC types, I’ve slowly been switching to less chemical-heavy products — Mrs. Meyer’s hand soap, Tom’s deodorant, paraben-free shampoo (I still haven’t found one I like). That said, I am not really the type to start mixing up my own product, so I’ve been gearing up for a full-on search for and serious cash commitment to new skincare products.

Then I found Blooming in Bedlam, or specifically Blooming in Bedlam’s dark-spot reducing soothing toner recipe. You see, I have a lovely keepsake from my pregnancy in the form of a dark spot right in the middle of my forehead. It’s not super noticeable to other people, but as far as I’m concerned, it might as well be a bulls-eye on my face.

I was intrigued by the toner recipe, so I read the post about two dozen times before I finally decided that I could probably handle mixing water with apple cider vinegar and essential oils.

Within a week, I could see a difference with the dark spot, and I was hooked on the idea that I could make these products myself. I started Googling for homemade facial cleaners and came across the idea of oil cleansing.

If you’re like me and have oily skin, the idea of applying actual oil directly to your face sounds like a recipe for disaster. I decided to take the plunge anyway, knowing that I’d probably end up with a few breakouts, especially as I adjusted to a new skincare routine. But after three weeks of oil cleansing, my skin feels clean and looks bright, and I haven’t experienced one breakout.

The dreaded no-makeup Selfie

Here’s the recipe I’m using for my slightly oily skin:
1/4 cup Caster Oil
1/4 cup + 2 TBSP Olive Oil

And that’s it. I mix it together and keep it in a glass jar, and since you only need about the amount of a quarter to cleanse your face each day, it lasts for quite some time.

There are tons of different combinations you can do, and I’m not expert, I just researched what would work for my skin type. So if you’re interested, I’d check out these resources:

  • Wellness Mama’s Oil Cleansing for Naturally Perfect Skin: This gives an overview of various oils you can use and ratios for different skin types. I’m also using the method she describes in her post to cleanse my face.
  • Blooming in Bedlam’s Oil Cleaning Method by Skin Type: I noticed as I was writing this piece that Cajun posted an article about this a few days ago. I will definitely be referring back to her amazing charts in order to determine if I decide to add some essential oils to my mixture.

My Current Skincare Routine

Before bed:

  • Cleanse with a quarter-sized amount of the oil mixture using the technique outlined on Wellness Mama. I do this at the sink, not in the shower, as I do not want to deal with cleaning out the tub on a regular basis. I even use this to remove mascara, and it seems to work just fine.
  • Apply Soothing Toner

In the morning:

This routine seems to be sticking, and I’ve been very happy with the results. In some ways, making my own products has been less overwhelming and anxiety-producing than standing in front of shelves and shelves of products trying to figure out what will work. I’m already planning to start looking into recipes I can use weekly for exfoliating, as well as eye creams and products that will help combat fine lines.

What about you? Have you ever tried making your own skincare or beauty products?

Fit4Mom Body Back: Final Results

For eight-weeks, I tracked my progress through Fit4Mom’s mom’s-only fitness program, Body Back. Never heard of it? You’ve probably heard of Stroller Strides, and that’s their program too.

Here’s the backstory:
Read Fit4Mom Body Back: Week 1.
Read Fit4Mom Body Back: Week 2.
Read Fit4Mom Body Back: Weeks 3 + 4.
Read Fit4Mom Body Back: Weeks 5 + 6.

Learn more about Fit4Mom Body Back.

Final results from Fit4Mom Body Back

Assessments

The session began on Tuesday, September 16. During that workout, we weighed in, took measurements, and did fitness assessments. When the session ended on Saturday, we did the same measurements and assessments, which is a great way to see how we had progressed over the past couple months. Like I’ve said before, I know that the weight/fat loss is an important component of the program, but I appreciate that strength and endurance is equally important.

Final Results: Weight + Measurements

We’re weighed every week during Body Back, so I had a pretty good sense of what the scale was going to say, but I was floored by the number of inches I lost. I wear a lot of leggings so I didn’t really notice a difference in my clothes.

Total Pounds lost: -7 lbs
Waist measurement: – 2 inches
Hip measurement: – 2.5 inches
Chest measurement: – 2 inches
Thigh measurement: -1 inch
Total inches lost: -7.5 inches

Final Results: Strength + Endurance

While I gained in every area, I felt like I had some setbacks this session. My knee has been bothering me, and I’ve been taking on quite a bit of extra work, so my workouts outside of the Body Back classes suffered a bit. I’m planning to focus on some strength exercises that should help my knee feel better in the coming weeks.

High Knees (seconds) 58 85
Bicep Curls (# performed in 1 minute) 27 33
Plank (seconds) 43 84
Pushups (on toes; # performed in 1 minute) 8 10
Full Situps (# performed in 1 minute) 19 21
Squats (# performed in 1 minute) 53 55
Side Plank (seconds) 29 38

Overall, I’m really happy with my results, and I’ve already signed up for the holiday mini-session of the Body Back (no weighing in!) to keep me in line over the six weeks.

The Business of Blogging

Once upon a time, I had a blog (I may have mentioned this before). In the mid-aughts, my blog consumed me. I wrote all the time. My thoughts were composed in the voice of my blog. It was slightly insane, and I loved it.

During that time, I never thought much about deliberately attempting to grow my audience. Actually that’s not entirely true. From time to time, as I saw other bloggers get big, I would think about trying a bit harder to put myself and my site out there. But I never did. And then I lost my groove, burned out, decided it was time to take a break, and eventually, moved on.

When I started Mommy Sanest, I knew I wanted to be “serious” about blogging. I knew if you asked me what I really, really, truly wanted to be, the answer in my head, for many years now, has been “a blogger.” But I didn’t say it out loud for two reasons: 1) I was worried that people would think it was dumb, and 2) I was pretty sure I would fail.

Lessons learned from my first three months of blogging | the business of blogging

Those fears still consume me, so I probably shouldn’t use past tense.

Regardless, here I am, working to move past those fears. But this post isn’t really about that. This post is about numbers.

Because I’ve decided that I’m doing this, like, for real, I have to pay attention to users and pageviews. I have to push out my content. I have to promote my work. And I have to do it in a space that has way more voices than it did in 2006.

I’ve been wanting to blog about blogging (meta, yes?) because I find this process interesting and… vast. And since I’m doing NaBloPoMo, now seems as good a time as any.

My Beginning

I bought my domain name in March 2014, but didn’t post until June and didn’t bother to install Google Analytics until July. In August, I made a bigger leap. I signed up for MediaBistro’s online Blogging class.

While I knew how to blog in the literal sense, I learned quite a bit, and most importantly, the four-week class (and the monetary investment) forced me to really work on the site. I spent a ton of time finding and tweaking a WordPress theme. I learned about search engine optimization (SEO). I put together a content calendar. I organized categories and tags. I grabbed all of my social media handles. I paid attention to things that I never bothered with on my old blog. And, I started to think about goals.

Traffic Report

The traffic on my site is a barely drop in the infinite Internet bucket. The traffic I get in a month is what other sites get in a week, a day, a few hours, a few seconds even. The traffic goal I set in August was to increase pageviews and users 10 percent each month, which seemed realistic. While I’ve done better than that, and I’m happy to have done better than that, the process of growing is completely frustrating (FWIW).

Month Users % Change Pageviews % Change
August 84 NA 653 NA
September 168 +100% 778 +19%
October 315 +88% 1315 +69%

Social Media Following

Month Twitter Instagram Pinterest Google+ Facebook
August 140 11 7 NA NA
September 228 20 43 1 NA
October 400 31 125 13 129

Where My Traffic is Coming From

Pinterest and Twitter seem to be doing particularly well as far as building followers goes, but I don’t get a ton of traffic from either site. Instagram isn’t my strength and doesn’t provide a direct path when it comes to promoting my work, so I don’t spend too much time on that platform.

I’m not exactly sure what I’m supposed to be doing with Google+, but it always drives some traffic, so it seems worth it to be there. I think what confuses me about the platform is that there doesn’t seem to be a lot of interaction between users, but maybe I feel that way because I only have 15 people following me.

As far as traffic referred from social media sites, Facebook wins, hands down, and I just published my page in October. Facebook is tricky because of the constantly changing algorithm that leads to suppression of organic content from businesses as well as content that leads people away from Facebook. But for now, it seems to be working for me.

My organic search traffic is low, and because the rules have changed, Google often suppresses the search terms that are leading people to my site. I’m still figuring out SEO (I use the SEO by Yoast plugin, as that seems to be the gold standard for optimization on WordPress), but the truth is, because I’m trying to keep so many balls in the air, I don’t exactly optimize my writing like I should.

What Worked (+ What the Jury is Still Out On)

There are so many ways to get your name and URL out there on the Internet. I’m still trying to sort out what all of this means and what activities are worth my time and what isn’t.

In October, I participated in the Blogging Betties Pinterest Challenge, which contributed quite a bit to my Pinterest growth (I’ve continued to grow since this challenge). This month, I’m taking the Pinning Perfect course from Blog Clarity, which I’m hoping will help me better understand how to use Pinterest to drive traffic.

For Facebook, I’ve been a little weird about promoting my page to all of my “friends,” so I only share it from time to time. I also participate in the Bloggy Moms Friday Facebook Hop, which is easy to do and not terribly time intensive, and has helped me grow my followers a bit beyond my own network. It’s basically a, “I’ll like your page, if you like mine” situation. I’m down with that.

I’ve also dipped my toe in the waters of linkups/link parties/linkys. While I’ve gotten some traffic from these, I’m still determining exactly how and when to use them. They can be somewhat time intensive because I want to follow the rules, check out other people’s stuff, comment, pin, etc. And since I’m not specifically blogging about crafting or recipes (at the core, I consider myself a personal essayist), sometimes I feel like I’m sharing the same stuff over and over and/or this is not the kind of blog that benefits significantly from this kind exposure.

Guest posting is another source of traffic for me, and my Kidlist posts always drive a good amount of traffic to my site.

Onward and (Hopefully) Upward

It is very easy to fall down the blogging rabbit hole. There is so much I could be doing, and so many things I want to do to put myself out there even more. While I’ve set my sights on freelance content work as a way to actually make money and build a career in this space, I also really just want to write. There are a million outlets both on and offline (and both paid and unpaid), some that would drive traffic back to Mommy Sanest. But as far as timing goes, I feel a bit maxed out and have pushed this goal to the 2015 list.

Breaking the Constant Connection Habit

Maybe this is a bit counter-intuitive during a month when I’ve committed to writing a blog post every day, but now seems as good a time as any make a much needed change.

Why wait until January 1?

Since I started to get serious about this whole changing my career thing, I’ve taken on extra work in addition to writing this blog in addition to continuing to work full time. In the midst of this chaos, I’ve picked up some bad habits… like being on my computer near-constantly, up to and including the moment I pass out for the night.

Yep, I bring my laptop to bed with me. And while I’d like to pretend that I’m being “productive” at 11 p.m., I’m usually just reading celebrity gossip, or worse, blind gossip. To be fair, sometimes I’m just reading through every last comment in the latest Nashville recap, which I’m pretty sure is better.

But maybe not.

This has actually been a problem for a long time, but it’s getting worse. And we all know there’s tons of research showing that devices like our phones, tablets, and computers screw with hormone levels and disrupt sleep patterns.

So starting today, I am going to go the rest of November without taking my computer (or my phone or my iPad) to bed with me. Sounds like my computer is getting the raw end of this deal.

I feel compelled to end this post with, “That’s what she said.”

Moving On…

Halloween is o-v-e-r.

This was the first year that we felt we could really take Emme out for trick-or-treat, and that she would “get it.” Unfortunately, it snowed in the Chicagoland, and while we soldiered on, our plans were cut a bit short.

We took the party inside, ordered pizza with Emme’s cousin, aunt and uncle, decorated pumpkin cutouts and watched some cartoons. A total of about eight kids showed up at our door.

Here’s a few shots of our adventure.

halloween2

halloween1

halloween3

In Other News

NaBloPoMo November 2014I’m going to go ahead and give NaBloPoMo a shot this year. NaBloPoMo stands for National Blog Posting Month, and the goal is to post every day. My content calendar (yes, I have a calendar) is filled out for posts twice a week, so this will be a challenge. I have some ideas though, and I may dig into the archives of my old site as well.

We’ll shall see!