15 December 2014

intentionality, at ease in my skin, and vain pursuits

(Me, with light makeup.) 

Every New Year's eve growing up, my mom had each of us pull a little slip of paper from a big silver bowl with a single word scribbled across it. Patience. Humility. Gratitude. Generosity. Kindness. Optimism. And that would be our theme of the year. It's a tradition I keep up -- although I choose the theme for myself these days. 

My theme of 2014 was intentionality. I wanted to look at the shape and texture of my life and scrub up the things that didn't fit. I wanted to dress simply, treat my body like a temple, be kind, write more, tidy our home, feel more like the author of my own story. Breaking up with my wardrobe was one of these things. 

Another thing to talk about...is skin. 

What I am after is feeling at ease in my skin. Feeling like self, at every layer. 

A bit ago, Vain Pursuits reached out and asked if I'd be try their skincare system. And I did. And it was a genuinely interesting, telling experience. Because it seems to me that intentionality -- self-guided, thoughtful narratives -- is their motto. Their products are personally made. Start to finish. It's really a fascinating concept! 

(Me, with absolutely no makeup.)

About my skin: 

1. I'm in my mid-20s, so anti-aging & SPF are super important. 
2. I have adult-onset hormonal acne. And it's...not great. People love to give you advice about treating acne (based on what's worked for them) which is kind. But, the reality of this specific type of acne is that most of what I can do (topical applications, staying hydrated, etc.) only prevents exacerbations. It's not going to magically clear up my skin to a hugely significant degree. But I've found things that help. 
3. I have chicken pox scars all across my forehead! (Helloooo, bangs, I love you.)
4. Combination skin. A bit oily in my t-zone, but my cheeks & chin tend to be dry. 

So, Vain Pursuits, step one: the quiz. 

The first step in creating my skincare line was taking a thorough survey. And I mean thorough. They get an idea of what they need to target -- dark spots, wrinkles, acne, dryness, anti-aging, etc. -- but also let you speak your piece. So that someone like me could say, look, I have hormonal acne. But can we try targeting this with moisture instead of ingredients like salicylic acid that make me break out more? From the moment I took the survey, I was itching to see what they would formulate for me! 

(And they're serious about their personalizing. Down to the packaging. To the skin of their own product you might say.)

The next step is to try out the products. Dab them on your wrist or face, give 'em a sniff. Just try them. On your own terms. Whatever that means to you. See what you love. Take note of what you don't. 

And...look, this is no joke. Those are handwritten cards, giving detailed instructions about how you might like to use the products, what they'll target, scent notes (if you please), and why they chose what they did for you. 

My products seemed like a perfect, exact response to the particular qualms I rattled off on my survey. These were lush. And deeply moisturizing. And softening. And brightening. I could feel my skin happily lapping them up -- and I've been looking forward to dabbing the creams on each morning and night. Especially my rich eucalyptus and lavender night cream -- I think I hear my skin singing. 

Then, and this is one of the coolest parts -- if you like, correspond with your go-to gal at Vain Pursuits and create a dialogue about what is/isn't working for you. 

They deeply believe in holistic skincare. What your skin is saying may be indicative of what you're putting on it. Or your lifestyle. The particular pollutants in your city. What you're eating. Every little thing comes together to create a wider canvas. Then, when you feel like you've come to the point that the product is perfectly suited for you, you can order up your full-size bottles. 

The whole reason I wanted to talk about skincare -- and try out this company -- was that I think skincare can be really, really tough to talk about. Because...your skin is your own skin. And you know it more deeply than anyone else. But, Vain Pursuits just listened. Like a good, good friend. And never said to me, just try this. This will definitely work. They were sensitive to my narrative. And intentional in answering it. Thank you, Vain Pursuits for this experience! And the rest of you -- check out their contest to win a free year of skincare, because holy cow. 

And here's to continuing with intentionality in the new year! (I am off to make a list of potential themes.) 


  1. Okay, I know I'm just another person giving you advice but I've actually had hormonal acne ever since I hit puberty which was 10 years so yes, I've had it for 10 years, and still have it. I've heard it all from everyone I know and I've tried it all (proactive, clinique, you name it). And the mildness of acne is been up and down. The most important thing about hormonal acne is that is all starts within because it really does depend on your hormones, you can use the best facial cleanser that you can possibly find but your acne will not stop, it might just control it a little better. I've researched this topic up and down and compiled some great things that I've been trying in my life and so far have seen slow (VERY SLOW) improvements (but they really are improvements, YAY!). The things is about us acne prone humans, is that everything we do or put into our body shows on your face, and that is the most frustrating thing about it. I started getting regular 8 hour sleep (it might depend on your body type), eating healthier food (still have sweets from time to time though) and exercise 3-5 times a week (this one has been the most important one). I've been at this for about 6 months and I love the improvement I'm seeing not only on my face but in my mood, health and just overall feeling. Anyway, I love skin care and I love trying new lotions/cleansers that make my skin feel smooth and clear out scaring/blemishes, but I do think that clear skin starts within. I hope I don't come across as a know-it-all, cause I'm not trying to be. It's been a fairly sensitive subject to me over the years and I've had very rude comments expressed about it, so I know that being comfortable in your own skin (literally) is very important.

  2. I love the idea of setting a theme for the year. And intentionality--well, that should be mine.

    I enjoyed reading about Vain Pursuits--pretty wonderful how it all works, how it's so thorough and made specifically for you. I'm sold and going to visit them now.

  3. I agree with everything what Mila Adams wrote + jojoba oil, it works perfectly for my skin (and my overall health). Most probably it wouldn't help everyone, but in my case jojoba oil was a real discovery. Glad u found the good products for ur skin.

  4. I really like what this brand is doing, too many companies out there right now just don't care about their customers but rather, their bottom lines. As someone who also struggles with adult hormonal acne, I know how daunting it can be to wake up each morning wondering if it will go away and it just doesn't. It's very frustrating. To be honest, though, I would have never known you suffer from acne, as you seem to have beautiful skin in all the images I've ever seen of you!

    I can agree with what some of the other commenters have said, but as Mila pointed out, hormonal acne doesn't always care whether you clean up your diet or get enough sleep at night, it's often just a matter of finding things that work best at controlling your breakouts. For me, I've switched to raw honey as a face wash (just take a spoonful into the shower and rub it on my face until it absorbs into my skin and then lightly rinse off any extra residue). As "To The River" said, I also use Jojoba oil, rather than any moisturizer, and I have combination skin but it works better than any lotion I've ever tried. :)