Acne Update: Jojoba Oil + Tea Tree Oil

One of the first thing I do when I wake up in the morning is look in the mirror and evaluate my skin.  I’m mostly looking for one thing – new acne.

Recently, I’ve been pretty happy with what I see.  For the first time in a long time, my skin is doing ok.  And it kind of freaks me out.  I’m so happy my skin is finally calming down, but I don’t want to get my hopes up.  That’s what almost 20 years of dealing with acne will do to you!

Anyways, I want to share more about what I’m attributing to this recent positive phenomenon.

The first thing is undoubtedly my dairy-free experiment.  I can’t wait to share more about how it’s going (coming soon!).  While travelling a few weeks from the end of November through the beginning of December, I didn’t stick to my goal of staying away from dairy.  It was partly circumstance and mostly my own doing!  But I’m back to it…with lots of lessons learned.

I believe the second factor that’s helping my skin is a new simplified moisturizing routine.

Before I share more, here are a few things to know:

That’s when my experiment loving self started doing some research.  Both my cousin and countless articles on the internet suggested jojoba oil as a great option for people with acne-prone skin because it’s the closest to human sebum (it tricks our skin into thinking it’s producing enough oil, balancing oil-production), it’s non-comedogenic, it’s loaded with vitamin E and other useful things, etc.

And so I thought – let me try this!

My nighttime routine consisted of 4-5 drops of jojoba oil applied to my entire face and a pea-sized amount of Tazorac applied on the affected area.  During the day, I used Trader Joe’s Nourish moisturizer and a very small amount of the Tazorac.

As the weather started to change (yes, even down here in Miami), I started getting dry patches on my skin.  This led to severe peeling, aggravated skin, and more acne.

After my trip to DC, when my skin was at it’s worst, I made the decision to stop using Tazorac cold turkey.  In it’s place, I decided to give tea tree oil another chance.  However, instead of applying it directly to my skin, which I think caused more harm than good, I now mix it in with the Jojoba oil and my daytime moisturizer.

Facial oils

So this is what my new routine looks like…

  • Daytime: one pump of Trader Joe’s Nourish moisturizer + two drops of tea tree oil mixed together and applied to the entire face (being extra careful around the eyes)
  • Nighttime: five drops of jojoba oil + three to four drops of tea tree oil mixed together and applied to the entire face (again, being extra careful around the eyes)

It’s hard to explain in words what a difference this change has made.  In a nutshell, my skin is less oily during the day, breakouts are at a minimum (and the ones that pop up every now and then go way more quickly than they ever have before), and during a time of month when things are usually super bad, my skin is calmer than ever.

Like I said, I’m kind of freaking out!

I honestly can’t say if this tweak would’ve made a huge difference had I not given up dairy, but I’m happy to report that together these changes are making a huge difference.

The one thing I’ve learned on my journey is that everyone is different.  What works for me may not work for the next person (as evident by my ACV disaster).  With that being said, I’ll share my progress over the next few months with the hope that my story may help someone else!  If anyone knows how painful (in so many ways) acne is, it’s me!

Here’s to clearer skin (fingers crossed)!

Do you suffer from acne?  What does your skincare routine look like?

Three Things Thursday (5) – Foodie Edition

I love food and everything that comes with it! In fact, if I could have my way, every conversation EVER would revolve around food – recipes, restaurants, the cooking channel, etc.

When I was in DC last week, I realized that not everyone likes to talk about food the way I do. Shocker! Upon taking my lunch order, our administrative assistant asked me a question about feta cheese. That one innocent question was all I needed to bring up my favorite Greek foods and talk about a restaurant I tried in DC a few years ago. As I was talking, she inched her way to the door. I eventually took the hint and shut up!

Just a fair warning if you ever meet me!

With that, here’s the food related edition of Three Things Thursday.

1. When I blogged about new-to-me dairy-free products, a few people suggested I try Daiya Cheese. So I picked up a bag at Whole Foods last weekend and have used it several times since. It definitely tastes better than the Trader Joe’s vegan cheese, and I would say that the “melty” factor is about the same.


Daiya Cheese
While these cheeses are great to have on hand, I prefer not to use them if I don’t have to. There’s nothing natural about them, and let’s be honest…they don’t taste like cheese at all! But it’s always good to have options.

2. As part of a Fitfluential campaign, I was sent a bottle of Pylian Estates Extra Virgin Olive Oil to use and blog about. I wanted to make an olive oil centric food/dish because in my mind that was the only way to tell the difference between this oil and the one I buy at Costco. I decided to make basil/walnut pesto. While I don’t think Vishnu could really tell the difference, I definitely tasted the buttery and slightly fruity flavor of the oil. And that’s pretty impressive considering that pesto is made up of very strong flavors as it is. I can’t wait to buy a hearty loaf of bread this week and use it as sponge for this oil!


Olive oil
And just because I love “fun” facts like this, here are a few interesting points about what makes Pylian different..

– A small family maker controls the oil from the trees in Greece all the way into the bottles.
– All of the oil is labeled with exact harvest and press dates to ensure freshness.
– The exact location of the trees is noted on the bottles.
– The oil is processed without heat and chemicals.
– The bottles come with a re-sealable cork to keep air out in between uses. This prevents oxidization and rancidity.


3. My friend Monica gifted me The Flavor Bible last year as part of my Secret Santa gift. I have to admit that while I peruse the pages every now and then, I never sat down and gave myself the space to think of creative meals based on suggestions from the book.

The Flavor Bible

For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, this book is a home cook’s dream. Basically, every food ever known to man is included along with an extensive list of other ingredients that pair well with that food. For example, I looked up balsamic vinegar the other day and learned that truffle oil and mustard pair well with it. After noting the flavor combo, I made a truffle oil and mustard balsamic reduction. I never would have thought of that on my own…I LOVE this book!

The Flavor Bible 2
My 2015 plan is to use this book to help me create original recipes and be more daring in the kitchen. If nothing else, it’ll make for some interesting and hopefully delicious blog content!

Your turn – any new foodie finds I should know about?

If you’re a blogger, write a post and link back to one or all of the hostesses; Raj from Pink Chai Living, Nisha from Love Laugh Mirch, or Salma from The Write Balance.  Then share a link to your post (not your blog’s home page).

Half Marathon Training (Week 7) + What Do You Listen To?

Week 7 wiped me out!  Well, my 9 mile run this past Sunday took me down.  I was SO exhausted.  When I tried napping on the couch, Vishnu jumped on me and talked to me as if I was wide awake.  Gah!  I may or may not have told him that I would punch him in the face if he didn’t stop bothering me!  Haha.  Don’t mess with a tired Par!

Here’s what week seven looked like:

Monday – Gaiam TV yoga + 2 short You Tube dance videos (this one and this one)
Tuesday – Rest
Wednesday – 4 mile run
Thursday – Full body strength training
Friday – 4.5 mile run
Saturday – Rest
Sunday – 9 mile run

My long run wasn’t as fast as I would have liked it to be, but I’ll take it.  At this point, I’m focused on endurance, pacing myself, and finishing strong.  Double digit runs here I come!

What do you listen to?

What the heck do you listen to when you run?  I get this question a lot.  Because running is so mental for me at this point, I need to be distracted.  While most people probably create running playlists, I create podcast playlists!  Music is secondary for me.

Here’s a list of the podcasts I listen to:

The Jillian Michaels Show (she still annoys me sometimes, but I like her fitness approach)
The Smart Passive Income Podcast
This American Life
No Meat Athlete Radio
Katy Says
Dishing Up Nutrition
Kimberly Snyder’s Podcast
The One Your Feed

With quite a few podcasts lined up, I’m almost guaranteed to have something to listen to!

What do you listen to when you workout?  Music, podcasts, nothing?

In case you’re interested, here are links to my weekly recaps:

Week 1 Half Marathon Training
Week 2 Half Marathon Training
Week 3 Half Marathon Training
Week 4 Half Marathon Training
Week 5 Half Marathon Training
Week 6 Half Marathon Training

Recent, Current, and Future Reads


Man’s Search for Meaning – Haunting, Life changing, Powerful

Man's Search for Meaning
My Sister’s Grave – Gripping, Thrilling, Suspenseful

My Sister's Grave 

Unbroken (I know, I know!  I need to get on it and finish reading this book!)


Big Little Lies

Big Little Lies 
The Ocean at the End of the Lane

The Ocean at the End of the Lane


Any good books I should I add to my future reads list?

communication, Personality, and Shame on Me

I find it really interesting how our personalities shine through in the various ways we communicate.  Like really interesting. 

For example, I’ve emailed back and forth with certain people for a number of months, made some assumptions about their personalities based on their communication style, met them in real life, and realized that my assumptions were 100% correct. 

But let’s be honest.  That shouldn’t come as a big surprise at all.  For most people, their communication style is one way to showcase their personality. Intentionally or unintentionally.

Take this blog for instance.  Most of my readers have never met me, but I guarantee that if they did, they would find that I am 100% the way they imagined me to be.  Just by reading what I write on a weekly basis. 

Now I know there are exceptions to this rule.  However, I’m going to make a bold statement regardless.  If you assessed ten people you know fairly well, you would see a very strong connection between their communication styles and their personalities.  There’s just no way around it.

Then why didn’t I make that connection when I received the following text from my husband.

VISHNU: Babe…I have something really important to talk to you about today.

I wait a few minutes to see if he says anything else.  When he doesn’t, I get a little worried and very curious.  No smiley face, no exclamation point…nothing.  So I text him back.

ME: What?  You can’t leave it at that…

Another few minutes go by.  I should mention that I’m out for a run when I get this text.  I stop running and stand on the middle of a bridge waiting for another text to tell me what the heck is going on.  Finally a response…

VISHNU: I’ll call you later. At lunch.  But I absolutely love this program.

SERIOUSLY?!  As happy as I was to hear that his interview went well, I couldn’t help but think, “Why didn’t he use a freaking smiley face or exclamation point in his initial text?  How hard would that have been?”  Here I am staring intently at my phone waiting for another text and/or a phone call because I think something’s wrong.

But I should have made the connection.  Vishnu’s texts reflect his personality – direct, matter of fact and not super excitable.  Of course nothing was wrong.  Looking back, that first text was oozing with [Vishnu] excitement.  After almost 10 years of knowing this guy, I didn’t put two and two together. 

Shame on me.