Getting botox for the first time was not what I expected.

Los Angeles – “Now breathe…” she said as a needle pierced through my brain.

Okay, not my literal brain but it may have well been. I tried my best not to wince because: I was a big boy now; and two, I didn’t want to show any signs of fear. After all, I was a beauty editor – one who’d been through weeks of painful procedures in Seoul. One, who tests some very painful potions. In comparison, this should be cake, or so I thought.

I had made my way to Facile dermatology + boutique, a recommendation from my beauty editor friend, Amber Kallor. The two of us go way back to the days when I worked at WWD and she, at Style.com. The boutique is an upscale clinic with two LA locations: Pasadena and West Hollywood, the latter, the one I checked into. At first glance, I was enamored by how minimal the decor was and how welcoming the decorations. It seemed more like a goop pop up store than a dermatologist’s office – that is, more glam, less medical. This one felt welcoming and non-judgmental, like I was able to go in for a facial. A woman sat waiting in her chair, reading a magazine, while an older woman paid for her procedure, sunglasses in tow and two bandages on both sides of her face.

Botox

It made me feel as if I somehow belonged here with these glamorous women, that I, too, was now part of the botox tribe. When I met Gabriella Gerbi, my nurse practitioner, I felt relief melt away from my shoulders. As she sat down, I spitfied questions to her, as if a child before getting his first dental procedure.

Would I look like Spock? Would my botox make me look like the Cat Lady? Was I going to be able to smile? To which she graciously replied: No, no, and of course.

Botox, for those of you who have never heard of it, is a neurotoxin which is diluted from the bacteria, Botulinum toxin. It can be injected to paralyze muscles and prevent wrinkle formation or can be used to treat certain muscular conditions. In South Korea, people regularly get small botox injections to prevent their faces from deep, lasting wrinkles. The most are the “11” or glabella wrinkles, the ones that form at your frown lines between your eyebrows, or Crow’s Feet around your eyes. Do people necessarily need botox? No, but one should then ask if they need facials at all, or gua sha, jade rollers, or any other tools. From what I’d read, botox wasn’t surgery, nor was it invasive.

“Think of it as upkeep,” Gabriella said, which I found to be smart and a perfect answer.

Botox

From what Gabriella could see, at my tender age, I should treat my own “11” lines, which had been furrowing for years sitting in front of my computer, wincing at every other Trump headline. And my Crow’s Feet, which had been neglected from the many weeks I hadn’t applied eye cream. When I told Gabriella about my tension headaches, she recommended I get treated on my masseters as well. I’d been waking up with tension headaches from excessive clenching and would experience migraines off and on. Apparently, botox weakens the muscles so that it doesn’t allow you to clench as hard. Bonus points: it’s said to even slim your face down as well in the process.

According to Gabriella, the units I was receiving was very conservative. That meant that we’d be going for around 30 units dispersed between my glabella, crow’s feet as well as my masseters. Apparently, for guys, glabella treatment is the most sought out botox procedure, as well as many who request it in areas where they excessively sweat (botox stops sweat production, too!). I didn’t have a problem with the latter, but relaxing masseter muscles was equally gaining popularity. Before we began, I wanted to make sure that nothing would be permanent – and that my eyebrows wouldn’t look wonky. Side note: I’d been traumatized after one summer after college I came home to discover my mother had gone on the botox deep end and looked like a cartoon villain.

“Even if we were to have put a little too much in, we can fix it,” she said, soothingly.

Botox

(Shooketh.)

The botox was injected quickly into my nerves, as fast as I could spell out “botox” in my head. What happens is that the toxin works to disrupt nerve impulses, blocking signals to work properly. With each shot, I felt a pang of adrenaline spew through my body. Was this pain or pleasure or both? I wondered.

In under 5 minutes I was done. Botox injections complete. The only thing to do now was to wait for the botox to truly start working, which, Gabriella explained, would be around 2-3 weeks.

I left leaving Facile with feelings of empowerment that botox could be a quick solve to my headaches as well as slowing the aging process. I used to have so much stigma against botox but after receiving it, I realized how quick to judge I was. Instead of this invasive procedure, it was nothing more than simple maintenance, one that comes in the form of tiny pricks, a long syringe, and a friendly chat with a stranger. An experience, I hope to come back for.

For more, check out FACILE now!

Aesop’s new moisturizer wants to calm your fussy skin

My skin’s so sensitive, I believe I can hear it cry. Every night.

Once seemingly impervious to acids, exfoliators, or peels, my skin had become a lot more fussy, and rejected most products I introduced to it. Like a baby that becomes more accustomed to foods, my skin had become fed up with harsh products like AHA BHA or even some Vitamin C’s. The combination of any acids sent my face into hyper-overdrive, and it would throw a tantrum and I could feel it screaming.

AESOP Seeking Silence Facial Hydrator

(Photo by David Yi / Very Good Light)

SEE ALSO: Avoid these alcohols at all costs. 

It was just recently when I realized that this all meant that I’d have to clear our my medicine cabinet and start all over. That the products I was using was way too harsh for my sensitized skin. My skin barrier was no longer able to protect me and it was now the reverse: I had to start protecting it.

I proceeded to switch to mostly all sensitive skincare products since, ones that are thoughtful in their approach to catering to those like me. One such product that’s been on my rotation of curated moisturizers is one from Aesop, which just launched its Seeking Silence Facial Hydrator today. The product, which is $60 and is 2.1 oz., is a completely new formulation, one that adds to Aesop’s line of over 100 products.

This one uses two all-new ingredients to the Australian brand: green microalgae, rich in anti-oxidants called Dunaliella Salina Extract and one from dormant bulbs of daffodils, Narcissus Tazetta Bulb Extract. Together, they work to soothe irritated skin while reducing angry redness.

According to Aesop’s founding associate, Suzanne Santos, using dormant plants is crucial to slowing down cell proliferation and offering a plant protection during unfavorable growing conditions. AKA it also reduces skin irritation in states of heightened stress to bring it back to a calm state.

(Photo by David Yi / Very Good Light)

Though there’s no concrete reasoning for sensitive skin, Suzanne tells Very Good Light all the way from her hometown of Melbourne, that it’s due to “hyper-activity.”

“It is relatively poorly understood, subjective and frequently self-diagnosed,” she tells Very Good Light. “You may notice redness, rashes, stinging or burning after using certain products or upon encountering a particular ingredient, or skin can react readily to changes in climate.” This can also come from using certain ingredients in cosmetics, or a reaction to certain foods.

Testing Aesop’s newest product allowed me to really lean in to what was causing my own skin sensitivity and I figured it was due to over-stimulating my face with too many products.

For six weeks, I tested Aesop’s Seeking Silence Facial Hydrator and was pleased with how it allowed my skin to calm TF down. For one, I appreciated the light texture and how seamlessly it soaked into my skin. It has to do with this product being water-based, which allows for easy blending.

AESOP Seeking Silence Facial Hydrator

(Photo by David Yi / Very Good Light)

The non-sticky formulation goes for smooth application and the fragrance is similar to many of Aesop’s “natural-smelling” products. That is, there’s a certain earthiness and musk from each with a hint of lavender, this, thanks to other main ingredients including: ginger root, wood and jojoba oils.

It’s now become a mainstay. Today, I keep it tucked away in my refrigerator where the cooling sensation allows for extra calming and my skin has looked its best ever since. No more redness. No more pain. No more tantrums. It allows me to have extra headspace to think about more important things – finally, in silence.

BUY Aesop’s Seeking Silence Facial Hydrator , $60 HERE

This 400-year old oil formula will make your skin brand new

I used to think slathering my face with oil was like smothering it with pepperoni juice.

Call it PTSD from past bad facial oil experiences or just #trauma, but my face and oils have never gotten along. Ever. I have combination skin, suffer from cystic acne bouts from time to time, and spend hours rethinking what I did in the past few days to cause such angry skin. To prevent weeks of cystic acne, I have given up dairy (except I occasionally eat ice cream, ugh!), use a minimal amount of products (my face is sensitive!), and try to calm inflammation at every turn.

SEE ALSO: Does this Lord Jones oil work or is it just cool? 

Though facial oils have risen in popularity, using some seem to make my skin worse. Sure, most of them have moisturizing properties, but I’d rather have dry, flaky skin than experience a cyst. And so when I came across the new brand Venn Skincare, I was hesitant to test it. So much so, that I put it off for a good month before caving in and testing it.

Venn

(Photo by David Yi/ Very Good Light)

I’m glad I did. The brand’s Advanced Multi-Perfecting Red Oil Serum is now sold out its site (you can buy it on Net-A-Porter though!), and has since become every beauty editor’s new favorite. That’s because there’s real science behind this product. The brand was created by Brian Oh, a former New York City-based corporate attorney along with Dr. Mun, a legendary formulator of many K-beauty brands, based in Seoul. The two of them came together to create something new in the market. When I met with Brian in Los Angeles earlier this year, he told me about how efficacious his three hero products were that they could replace 10-steps in anyone’s regimen. There’s an amazing cleanser, a multi-purpose moisturizer (that Brian says can replace toner, essence and moisturizer), and of course, the oil.

The latter was what intrigued me the most. Not only was it unusual that it came in such a bright, beautiful red hue, Brian told me it was a formula based on 400 years of Korean history. Yes, this is a skincare prescription from the Dongui Bogam, a medical book written in Korea’s 17th Century, one listed on UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register. The oil has over 34 natural botanicals and essential oils with each having been fermented for 150 hours at a low temperature. This supposedly allows each of the oils to amplify in performance. The key ingredients of Gromwell Root Extract and Korean Angelica Root Extract, are plants with healing properties. The latter is used for naturally curing headaches, for instance.

Venn

(Photo by David Yi/ Very Good Light)

In any case, Brian informed me that this oil was supposed to not only hydrate my skin, but improve elasticity, firmness and radiance. What I found after testing for six weeks was that this products not only allowed my skin to glow, retaining moisture, but it also helped with inflammation. Yes, my worst fears never came to life while testing this product. Instead, it did the opposite: I felt my skin being soothed and pimples being kept at bay. Whew!

For $115, this oil is not for the faint of heart. But I will tell you that this product lasted me a good six months using it both day and night. It’s not for everyone, but I will tell you that it’s one of the better oils on the market – and will leave you with brand new skin.

BUY Venn’s Advanced Multi-Perfecting Red Oil Serum, $115 HERE

Avoid these alcohols in your skincare at all costs.

When it comes to skincare, we’re more educated than ever before.

We no know that some ingredients can be toxic (like parabens), while ‘organic’ doesn’t make a product more effective (we’re looking at you, scare-mongering goop!). But when it comes to alcohol, there’s still a lot of misinformation out there. For every ‘bad’ alcohol, there are actually beneficial fatty ones that hydrate and improve your skin’s texture.

SEE ALSO: We’ve reached peak ‘clean-beauty’ ridiculousness

Of course, you should avoid any product if it lists alcohol as its first ingredient (editor’s note: I’d even conjecture the first two ingredients as a little iffy!). According to Dr. Y. Claire Chang, board-certified cosmetic dermatologist at Union Square Laser Dermatology in NYC, not all alcohols are the same.

First things first: Yes, some alcohols should be avoided. “They can be harmful for the skin, and it’s important to know why and which types,” Dr. Chang tells Very Good Light.

“Simple alcohols can strip your skin of its natural lipids and oils, making them drying and irritating,” she says Dr. Chang says these include any of the following: SD alcohol, denatured alcohol and isopropyl alcohol. These alcohols are used in skincare formulas for a matte, quick-drying finish, while providing for that ‘degreased skin’ feeling. But they can break the skin’s barrier and can wreak havoc, straining how skin replenishes and regrows skin cells. Basically, these alcohols weaken the skin over time.

But like we mentioned before: Not all alcohols are bad for you. While some are definitely used as preservatives as well as stabilizing solutions, they also do a great job at what hydrating, protecting and improving skin texture. These include: cetyl, stearyl and cetearyl alcohol. Each are fatty acids that have been proven to be beneficial to your skin.

So go forth, skincare junkies and feel the freedom of using alcohol in your products. Just make sure that they’re effective, fatty, and are the right kind!

Quick fact sheet below!

Avoid: SD alcohol, denatured alcohol and isopropyl alcohol

Use: cetyl, stearyl and cetearyl alcohol

Reporting by Blair Cannon

Pursuing happiness is a lie.

Vulnerability 101: Lean into your emotions.

That’s what I’m doing right now, while writing this post at a Starbucks near me, turning my iPhone on airplane mode and shutting off my wifi as if it somehow stops time. I remain still, waiting for the caffeine to swim through my blue veins, sending an electric current to my brain. The sunlight hits my back as I sip the espresso drink, its cold numbing my pursed lips. Suddenly my lungs expand and I gasp for air, inhaling as much as they can handle as if it’s the last I’ll breathe. I let out a deep sigh. I’m experiencing what’s become so familiar to me in the past few years. Minor anxiety stemmed from overwork, pressure – but mostly fear. Fear of the unknown, fear for my future, fear of falling – of failing.

“We’re told we are broken when all we’ve ever been is whole.”

As my long, dry fingers type on this old MacBook’s keyboard, like cicadas chirping on a summer’s day, I feel a pang of adrenaline shooting through my body. The caffeine has hit and I’m still alive.

I’m far from dead.

We’ve been conditioned in our Western culture to pursue happiness at all costs as if there’s a limited supply. It’s as if any other human emotion is unnatural when all it’s ever been is make us whole. From self-help books that deem happiness as an emotion we must obsessively feed, to wellness gurus who tout happy as if a pill can remedy life’s dilemmas, to endless articles that feed us the belief that we’re walking along the wrong path, we’re told we are broken when all we’ve ever been is whole.

“Moments of weakness aren’t weak.”

It’s okay to be less than happy. It’s healthy to feel your emotions, to be paralyzed by fear, to trek in the darkness alone. Because in these moments we can self-reflect, sharpen our character, be our most human, our most authentic.

While I may not have all the answers in life – and most never will – succumbing to the idea of leaning into pain, loss, or anxiety makes me feel the most free. Knowing that our human experience is fluid – ebbing and flowing with each day – is natural, our innate states of being. I may not know what tomorrow holds, where I’ll be in five years, or if I’ll succeed by society’s standards, but somehow in this moment it becomes irrelevant. Like a shroud of mist that succumbs to the rising sun, thoughts of the future now becomes unimportant.

What’s true to me today, right now – at this very moment – is that I am present and being so means that I am admitting my worries, embracing them with two warm hands, and waiting for these emotions to flow through me.  Because moments of “weakness” aren’t weak. When we become vulnerable to the present and acknowledge our authentic emotions are innate and true is when we become courageous. It’s in the darkness when we find light.

I’m no longer afraid of the dark.

Lil Nas X beautified exclusively with Pat McGrath for the VMAs 2019

There’s no doubt Lil Nas X has had the biggest year among all entertainers so far in 2019.

Not only does he hold the record for longest number one record (“Old Town Road” held strong for 19 weeks!), he’s also one of the first LGBTQ+ singers to take home a VMA for Song of the Year. Though it was apparently his first award, ever, he proved that his star power isn’t fading any time soon. On last night’s VMAs red carpet, the 20-year literally sparkled with a metallic silver suit, matching boots, a laced shirt, and a snake earring, to boot. He was giving serious Prince vibes, and nailed it – The Purple One would be proud.

SEE ALSO: BTS’ beauty looks make AMA history

But it was his dewy, delicious complexion – along with his nails painted “Lil Nas X” – that sealed the deal for us. Yes, Lil Nas X is a musical genius, but who knew he was also a beauty boy? And we’ve confirmed he used only the best for his look. Styled by makeup artist Miyako J, he wore head-to-chin Pat McGrath Labs.

To get his face prepped and perfect, Miyako used the following:

She started out with priming his face with Skin Fetish Sublime Perfection Primer ($60). Then, she blended three shades: Deep 33, 34 and 35 for the foundation ($68), which she applied with a brush. What came next was powder in shades Light Medium 2 and Deep 5 ($55). The secret here is to get shades that are closest to skin and then “bake” with the powder on top, so that the foundation stays in place.

Next up, his eyes. To enhance the young artist’s look and make it pop, Miyako J used the Permagel Ultra Glide Eye Pencil in Xtreme Black and Blk Coffee ($28). Then, she used Permagel Ultra Glide Eye Pencil in Xtreme Black. The pop of eyeliner gave the singer a sultry look, with a smize that he’s obviously perfected. The waterproof gel formula was a safe choice as it allows for the singer to get on stage, sweat it out, but still stay in place. She topped it off with FetishEYES Mascara ($38) to elongate his lashes without clumps.

And finally, a pop of lip balm to keep his luscious lips completely moisturized. The makeup artist used Lip Fetish Lip Balm in Clear ($40), a formula that is smooth and dewy with an opaline finish.

Those painful bumps on your head are more than just pimples

As if cystic acne on your face, back, or chest weren’t bad enough, there’s still your scalp you have to worry about.

Ugh.

Yep, if you’re an oil-producing human-being with a head, chances are, you’ve experienced or will experience painful bumps on your scalp aka “scalp pimples.” These are bumps that seem to sprout overnight, are painful or itchy to the touch, and seem impossible to get rid of. Turns out, these aren’t pimples after all, rather something call folliculitis, a common skin condition in which hair follicles become inflamed. It’s caused by bacterial or fungal infections and can spread into bigger sores if untreated.

“The scalp is unique because its ‘pores’ are the openings of the hair follicle with thick, terminal hairs growing out of them,” explains Dr. Terrance Keaney, a dermatologist who also serves as Dove Men+Care’s skincare expert. “Given the presence of scalp hair, the scalp cannot get acne like blackheads but the hair follicles can get inflamed leading to scalp folliculitis or hair can get embedded into the scalp.”

But there are simple solutions for this – and you most likely won’t have to get a prescription (or see a derm, sorry, Dr. Keaney!) to treat your head bumps. Below, are great suggestions of what to use to soothe your skin and kick those bumps to the curb.

Try tea tree oil

This powerful essential oil is a natural antibacterial and will kill bacteria and fungus while healing the skin. In a study by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, tea tree oil and its Terpenin-4-ol compounds was said to increase the activity of white blood cells, which help to destroy viral or bacterial invaders. In another study, 5% tea tree oil was said to be just as effective as 5% benzoyl peroxide for acne.

You can either get natural tea tree oil and rub it into your scalp, or try a shampoo that has some in it. Dr. Keaney recommends Dove Men+Care DermaCare Dandruff Defense 2-in-1 Shampoo +Conditioner. It’s infused with eucalyptus to soothe with tea tree extracts to defend against bacteria. 

BUY HERE, $4.89

Add some salicylic acid

Your hair builds gunk overtime – and that’s pretty normal. Not only does it have to shed dead skin cells (aka dandruff), excess products, and natural oil, it’s constantly trying to breathe from all that hair. That’s why it’s good to clear it out sometimes. A shampoo from Neutrogena called T/Sal Therapeutic Shampoo-Scalp Build-Up Control will do just that, while soothing the scalp and treating it at the same time. Yep, this is a multi-hyphenate. With 3% salicylic acid, to boot, it will help relieve itchy, flaking skin and get rid of your bumps in no time.

BUY HERE, $19

Apple cider vinegar

We’ve never tried this, but it’s been written about extensively on how it heals the scalp just by balancing out your pH. We cannot stress enough about how pH is essential to the health of your skin. Too acidic or alkaline and it’ll go out of wack. Using an apple cider vinegar, then, balances it out while also naturally disinfecting the area. Mix with water and gently massage into your hair.

BUY HERE, $7.92

Every product I used to kill my cystic bump in 4 days.

Cystic acne kit

(Photo by David Yi/ Very Good Light)

We’ve all been there before.

We’re living our best lives and one day wake up to find there’s something different about our complexions. Okay, that’s an understatement. There’s a lot different about it. For one, there’s a Mars-sized bump in the middle of your face, one that’s painful to touch, angry as all hell, and out to destroy your life for the next couple of weeks.

Yes, this is a cystic bump. It’s different from a normal zit or pimple (aka a pustule). This one is deep, an overgrowth of bacteria from excess sebum, and usually leaves scars. So what do you do? How do you realistically get rid of it? Is there any solution?

SEE ALSO: I tried Differin for a month and immediately regretted it

There is. Other than seeing an expensive derm, who will undoubtedly dissolve the bump in minutes from a cortisone shot, you can succeed on your own. After three years of routines and my desperate attempts at home treatments, I’ve come across the perfect products to get rid of cystic acne fast. Let’s get to them, shall we?

1 Ice, ice, baby.

I’ve realized that the biggest cause for any of my cysts, bumps, or pimples is due to inflammation of the skin. Usually, this is triggered from something in day to day. For me, it’s dairy that always seems to sprout new bumps. When you wake up, instead of even touching your cyst, take some ice, put it in a zip lock, and ice your bump on and off. Five-minutes on, rest a minute or two in between, and ice back on. Do this for a good 15-20 minutes.

2 Oil cleanse or balms

How to truly get rid of excess oil? Try an oil cleanser. After all, oil traps oil. love Then I Met You, by Charlotte Cho, but since I was out, I used Tatcha’s Camellia Cleansing Oil. I personally think it’s effective as it’s oil isn’t too rich but is just the right amount to trap oil without stripping your face. It also has an amazing array of vitamins including: A, B, D, and E with Omegas 3, 6, and 9. AKA this is a powerful cleansing oil that’ll plump your skin in the process.

How you use: I like taking an oil to dry face, massaging into my skin for a good 10 seconds because applying water and washing off.

BUY HERE, $48

3 Cleanse with acids

As we know, acids are our best friends. For cleansing, I love a good AHA cleanser to truly slough any dead skin cells or dirt that may be stuck in my pores. I used this one from Dr. Dennis Gross called Alpha Beta Pore Perfecting Cleansing Gel. It’s great as it has multiple acids – like mandelic, from almonds and glycolic, from sugar – that seep into your pores to allow your skin to breathe. It also has farnesol, a natural alternative to benzoyl peroxide, which helps dissolve oil.

How you use: After you cleanse with oil, take this into your palms and massage over your face. Use water and pat dry.

BUY HERE, $38

4 Tone it with, yep, another acid

During this period of crisis (yes, I deem a big, fat, angry bump as one!), you need to go all out with the weapons in your arsenal. For a toner, I’ll use an acidic toner as well. This one from REN Clean Skincare called Glow Daily AHA Toner is very acidic and will sting your face if you’re sensitive but it’ll also do a great job at ensuring there’s no dirt or impurity left over. It also is great from lactic and azelaic acids, which will brighten your skin tone as well as dissolving anything that may be clogging your pores.

How you use: Take a cotton round and pump three times (this toner comes with a pumping package) and swipe over your face. Use the front and back and dispose.

BUY HERE, $35

5 If you’re feeling extra bold, use an acidic treatment

Usually, I wouldn’t go overboard with acids, but we’re going through a battle, people! So feel free to take that extra step and defend yourself. I love Good Genes by Sunday Riley because of how gentle it is but will only use this at night. In the morning, I feel it’s fine to skin this step, but before your go to bed, you want a treatment to help prevent any missteps during the night. After all, when you sleep, you produce oils, skin cells turn over and you don’t want anything to get stuck.

How you use: Pump once or twice and slather evenly over your face.

BUY HERE, $158

6 Time to calm TF down

After battle, you need to rest. For this reason, I always turn to a soothing cream that will truly make your skin chill out. During a cystic break, I’ll take a cream like this one from Youth To The People to recalibrate everything. Your skin is on edge because of what it’s gone through, and you want to seal it shut with ingredients that will calm it down. I love this Adaptogen Deep Moisture Cream because of its mushroom ingredients (ashwagandha, rhodiola, reishi, and holy basil), that truly do its job at pampering overstimulated skin.

How you use: Take a nickel-sized amount in your palms, warm it up, and evenly massage onto your face. Bonus points for anyone who gently slaps their skin to not only allow it to absorb better, but promote collagen production.

BUY HERE, $58

7 Spot treatments

The most important step? Spot treatments that comes in the form of 10% benzoyl peroxide. We already reviewed this one from AcneFree, one that’s $5 and the most potent over-the-counter product we found. Use this at ALL times throughout the day. Tap it onto your cyst in the morning, in the middle of the afternoon and before bed. Trust. Benzoyl peroxide works because its entire purpose is to destroy bacteria and dissolve sebum. You’ll soon see the bump shrink in the next few days. I saw my bump shrink by 25% each day until it was merely a small bump.

BUY HERE, $5

8 Ready to pop? Use a comedone removing tool

I know this is sacrilegious to promote but hey, I’m human. When your bump comes to a white head (which it did for me on the fourth day), feel free to go in and POP THAT SUCKER. I know dermatologists will argue against this but I couldn’t wait another few weeks for it to heal on its own. What I will endorse is a pimple comedone removing tool. It’s made of steel, comes with a loop that’s perfect for extracting blackhead or popping pimples, and is a wonder product.

How to use: Warning: this will be pus-filled and bloody. Cysts are filled with dead skin and white blood cells. So don’t be surprised if things get messy. It’s part of the process. Take your tool over the skin, try to flatten with your other hand, gently press and squeeze. Voila! It’ll pop. Try to extract all white pus.

BUY HERE, $5

9 Alcohol wipe

To prevent infection, swipe over with an alcohol wipe!

10 Use a pimple patch

Pimple patches will not work on cystic acne bumps. But what they truly are amazing at are being band-aids of sorts. I love CosRX’s Pimple Patch, the OG of pimple stickers. For a pack of 24 it’s only $6. These small patches are from hydrocolloid dressing, those used to heal wounds and are amazing. Stick one on at night over where your blemish used to be, and wait until the morning to remove. You’ll realize just how amazing these stickers are. It will suck out excess pus and will heal your wound overnight.

How to use: stick over your blemish at night and remove in the morning.

BUY HERE, $6

I visited a queen bee and my life is forever changed.

“Take me to the queen,” I say, forefinger pointed up in the humid air.

I’m in Nashville with Audi, home of country royalty, the same city that the Cyruses, Faith Hill, Kelly Clarkson, among many others call home. We’re here celebrating the launch of the luxury German brand’s spiffy Q3, one that’s certainly worth more than my entire life, three-times over. But I’m not here to be ushered to meet country’s queens (I’ll get to you next time, Kelly!). I’m here to meet a literal queen bee, one that’s vital for the survival of humankind.

Audi

With my driving buddy, Chantal Follins from BuzzFeed (I mean, duh) by my side, I zoomed onto Tennessee’s highways to TruBee Honey. The car was zippy and drove like a sedan, but is an SUV, one that’s peppy in its step – just like me. Turns out the 2019 Audi Q3 is completely reimagined from years before and includes so many features like an all-wheel drive, an amazingly beautiful exterior, thoughtful interior. Basically, it’s bougie AF just like me.

The bee farm is just outside of Nashville in a town called Eagleville, and owned by Jeff Otto and Laura Kimball. The two introduced me to 50,000 bees, while also encountering a juicy queen bee. There, I learned everything about bees, honey, and found a newfound respect for everything that buzzes. Turns out, bees are even more amazing than I could have imagined. Below, some interesting facts about bees that you need to know!

SEE ALSO: Your skin is freaking out for this one reason.

First of all, WTF is beekeeping?

Trust, I didn’t know what this was either until Laura and Jeff put me into a beekeeper’s suit and led me to their bee hives. There, I met 50,000 bees, some who weren’t so happy to see me. One even died trying to protect her colony, stinging my suit. Though I was scared AF to get killed, the bees weren’t as angry as I imagined them to be.

In the wild, bees create their own hives. But sometimes, their hives become prey to natural predators, viruses, or mites, which means that thousands of bees will perish. Beekeeping helps bees to thrive by aiding the colonies and protecting them from many of these dangers. Beekeepers not only provide natural defenses against mites, they give bees what they need to thrive for many, many years by helping to clean, discarding of an overproduction of honey or beeswax, and more.

Queen bees are EVERYTHING.

I knew queen bees were essential, but I didn’t know just how important they were. Among 50,000 bees, queens run the show and is mother to all of them. She lays all of the eggs – up to 1,500 a day! – and holds a tight ship. She’s also completely pampered and is cleaned, fed, brought males to mate with, and is vital for the survival of the hive.

She also sets the tone of the hive

Aggressive bees? Friendly bees? It all has to do with the queen. This, according to Laura, who told me an interesting tidbit. “The queen’s influence on the hive is amazing — if she is mean, the whole colony is mean,” she tells me. “We have had hives containing bees that will chase you or dive-bomb you if you walk near the stack of boxes, minding your own business, and it’s because the queen is aggressive.” Apparently, this isn’t normal. If this does happen, beekeepers sometimes switch out the queen to set a different tone. “If you remove the old one (queen), it’s amazing to observe the difference,” she says. “In the South they say, ‘If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy,’ and this is definitely an example of that!”

Females run the show

All working bees are female, something I was super surprised to learn. These come in the form of worker bees, who work their entire lives pollinating plants and extracting nectar for their hives, nursing bees who tend to larvae and ensure their survival, housekeeping bees who clean out the hive, queen’s servants, who tend to her every need, and guard bees, who attack anything that dares try to enter the queen’s chambers. It’s a fascinating world and if there was a reality show on just bees alone, I’d definitely tune in.

beekeeper

Males are used just for their semen

Male bees, called drones, live in their own separate chamber until they mate with the queen. Their entire purpose is to provide the queen with semen. And after they do, they’re quickly killed, disposed of, and no longer needed. Thank u, next.

Bees have a short lifespan and work until their death.

You’ve heard of the term, “busy as a bee.” But chances are, you’ll never be as busy as one. That’s because bees work around the clock to ensure the survival of their colony. Most will live up to only 45 days (queens can live up to 5 years!) and each produces only 1/12 teaspoon of honey in her lifetime, with a collective bee hive being able to make over 100 pounds of honey.

Bees produce more  products than I thought

It’s not only honey that we use. Bees also produce beeswax, which we use in our beauty products, pollen, which we consume, propolis, and royal jelly. The latter two are super potent and used in more luxury skincare items. Propolis is used as glue for bees and royal jelly, is nectar that’s fed only to larvae in the hopes one will become a future queen.

Honey and beauty are synonymous

It’s no secret that honey’s become super popular in beauty, as of late. Thanks to its antibacterial properties, hydration agents, as well as being completely nourishing, honey is a perfect beautifying ingredient. It’s also been used for centuries to get that amazing glow from the likes of historic figures like Cleopatra, who used raw honey as a cleanser and moisturizer. Today, beauty products from far and wide still use honey as a potent beauty ingredient. These include the likes of Farmacy, a brand that has created its DNA around honey and its benefits; Fresh, whose bestselling Honey Mask, relies solely on nectar; K-beauty brands from the likes of innisfree, Skinfood have ampoules made of honey; luxury brands like May Lindstrom; natural beauty brands like Naturopathica and more.

Honey is potent by itself

Want a healthy glow? You can get this by honey alone. It’s antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and a humectant. Meaning, it’ll draw moisture from the air into our skin. It also allows for better collagen production. And according to Laura, it’s potent. “There’s a lot of research out there about honey being used to kill infections, like MRSA,” she tells us. A 2016 report proved that honey was effective as a natural homeopathic ingredient when used as a medicinal alternative. (You can read about it here!) Beeswax is made so that little homes can be create for young bees. At TruBee Honey, Laura says she cuts off excess beeswax laying around. She then uses it for a natural lip balm, salve or moisturizer, which her business also sells.

Though bees are essential for life, they’re also in a crisis.

Next time you see a bee buzzing next to you, try not to swat it. Bees pollinate the world and without them, 3/4 plants cannot thrive. But they’re also going through a crisis with millions of bees around the world dying. This is called CCD, aka Colony Collapse Disorder. According to SOS Bees, an organization that’s a watchdog of sorts for bees, this is because of a variety of reasons. Bees are sensitive beings, and with a slight change of climate, they are prone to death. With climate change being very real, bees are completely affected by more or less rain, higher or lower temperatures, and more. But bees are also in decline from pesticides, parasites, and loss of biodiversity. AKA, with crops dying from heat, bees have less to eat. It’s a reason why beekeepers are so essential – they help to keep bees alive.

This super affordable cystic acne cream is the only thing that really works

Glossier Zit Stick.

Mario Badescu Drying Lotion.

Peace Out Acne Dots.

Renee Rouleau.

“Trending” acne fighting products that claim to really work. While they ~may~ be more effective than leaving your cystic acne bumps alone, they’re not so effective when it comes to these vicious blemishes. That’s because most acne spot treatments are good for your run of the mill pimples (caused by, say, blocked pores) not ones that actually form deep within your skin. The cystic kind is painful, red, angry and usually leaves scars. It usually sprouts from inflammation, a blocked pore, and an overgrowth of p. acnes bacteria. Yuck.

SEE ALSO: I went on a ‘Skincare Diet’ this week for my cystic acne. It cleared out my skin.

An acne patch will not be able to slurp it up overnight (though you can truly go ahead and try your luck!). And Glossier’s Zit Stick, with only 2.5% benzoyl peroxide won’t be powerful enough to kill all of the p. acnes bacteria that helps to plump up your cyst. The drying lotion? It’s never worked for us. Renee Rouleau’s Anti-Cyst? Um, you can read our thoughts here.

The one thing that does? Something that isn’t trending nor is particularly sexy. It’s one from your local drug store that perhaps you’ve spotted, perhaps you gazed over, called AcneFree Maximum Strength Terminator 10. Coming in a white and orange box, it looks more like toothpaste than it does something for your face. But at $5, this formula is one that we’ve tried that actually works.

Acnefree

(Photo by David Yi/Very Good Light)

With 10% benzoyl peroxide, it’s the strongest non-prescription OTC treatment we’ve come across. This formula has something called “micronized benzoyl peroxide,” which allows for better penetration into your pores. Remember that the smaller the molecule, the easier it is to seep into your pores. It also has ginger and chamomile to help soothe your skin and help with inflammation, the biggest cause of your cystic breakout.

It really works for the most part. For our cystic breakouts, this spot treatment has been a life saver. We applied it and the next day, it definitely shrank, was less angry, and we’re positive it even gave us a smirk.

Sure, it won’t make it onto your Instagram posts next to your millennial pink products, but this anti-acne cream is the unsung hero of beauty products. It’s time we start celebrating products that aren’t necessarily aesthetically beautiful, but truly do what they claim. Here’s to throwing in this AcneFree Terminator spot treatment into the mix. It deserves ALL the love.

BUY AcneFree Terminator 10 HERE, $5