Where I’ve Been

So… as you may have noticed, I kind of went MIA for a bit, but it’s with good reason. Not only have I been sick as death, but I also became a new kitten mommy to five kittens rescued from death row! (Please, please, please adopt and don’t shop. You’re saving lives.) Two of these precious babies are my aunt and uncle’s, but the other three darlings are my new kitten children. I love them all so much.

Best. Christmas. Ever.

baby binx

This gorgeous little guy is Thackery Binx. We first met when he took a flying leap into my arms, kissed my nose, and stole my heart. He’s honestly the most affectionate kitten in the world, and he’s such a Mama’s Boy. He loves sleeping in his basket, nose kisses, and eating my mom’s toast.

baby ash

Say hello to Ash Tyler. She (yup, she’s a girl; fans of Star Trek Discovery will totally see the humor in naming a tiny girl kitten Ash Tyler) is the littlest kitten of the group, but she certainly insists upon herself. My tiny girl is feisty but has such a sweet personality. She loves hugs and chin-scratches more than life itself.

binx and logan

Binx with Logan (Howlett, named after Wolverine because my mom is as much of a nerd as I am). Logan is also a little girl, and her hobbies include clawing my arms (yeah, she’s totally a mini-Wolverine), jumping over her siblings like an Olympic athlete, and collapsing her playpens so she can lie on them. (Excuse the mess. They’ve shredded their cardboard house all over the floor, and I paused in the middle of unpacking a box to take this shot while they were semi-still. Photographing hyper kittens is hard, y’all.)

binx frodo simone

Simone, Frodo, and Binx. Simone has the cutest little blotch on the side of her nose, and she has more coloring on her torso than her brother. Simone is the shy one, but she loves to wrestle with her brother. She is also in love with my big boy, Sarek, and follows him everywhere. She’s my aunt’s baby, but I want to kidnap her so badly. Frodo is my uncle’s boy, and he loves play-fighting with Binx, stealing stuffed animals that are bigger than he is, and jumping in my mom’s plate.

simone kitten

A close-up of Simone’s precious little face. She actually didn’t like me at first, which has never happened before. I’ve been warned by friends that their grumpy old cat hates everyone only to wind up with said cat curled up on my lap, so I was heartbroken when little Simone ran away from me each time I tried to pet her. Then I woke up one morning and found her curled up at the foot of my bed, and we’ve been friends ever since.

They all have such distinctive personalities, and I love them beyond words. I also love that Binx looks like a long-haired version of Sarek, Ash resembles Evil, and Logan looks a lot like Teeny. This year has been pretty rough, but now it all feels worth it when I look at these little darlings and think, “You wouldn’t be alive now if we hadn’t taken you in.”

They’re hyper, and they’re definitely a lot of work, but when I think about how much they’ve enriched my life in the short time I’ve known them, I have no regrets. Please consider visiting a shelter and adopting this Christmas, and if you can’t, donations always help. I’ll link a few resources below. I’m not sponsored by any of them; I just think it’s a great cause.

Happy holidays, y’all. I hope you have fun!

Best Friends


Humane Society

LEAH Ancient Winter Album Review


With Ancient Winter, her winter-themed album comprised of original tracks and modern interpretations of medieval hymns, Leah, often dubbed “the metal Enya,” is here to astound you. Imagine freshly fallen snow, the rich scent of pine, hot cinnamon apple cider, and the smoky warmth of a roaring fire, and you’ve barely glimpsed the essence of Ancient Winter.

Fans of metal will be delighted by Leah’s soaring vocals, not to mention the cast of artists joining her on the album, the likes of which include Anna Murphy from Cellar Darling, Troy Donockley from Nightwish, Shir-Ran Yinon from Eluveitie, and more. And non-metal fans will be in for a treat, as Ancient Winter has a decidedly less symphonic feel than Leah’s previous five albums, leaning instead toward Celtic and folk traditions. Leah’s powerful vocals pair equally well with fiddles and harps as they do with electric guitars and synthesizers, proving her to be one of the most versatile artists to date. She uses her voice as an instrument, at once emotional and perfectly controlled.

Ancient Winter is a departure from the norm for Leah — the almost Middle Eastern sound to the album’s first single “Light of the World”  is unlike anything we have ever heard from her before — yet the Celtic roots we know and love form a solid trunk for the album, its more experimental qualities serving as musical branches. She effortlessly dodges the more clichéd, cookie-cutter aspects of Celtic and World music, adding her own, distinctly Leah flair. This feels like a debut into an as-of-yet-discovered genre, one only Leah could breathe into being.

There is an unmistakable duality that weaves its way through the tracks brought to life on Ancient Winter, simple old hymns paired with modern instrumentation, a wintery album that doesn’t feel commercial. A transformative experience, Ancient Winter manages to feel ancient and modern all at once. The tracks found on Ancient Winter would not have sounded remotely out of place in an episode of Game of Thrones or in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. But Leah’s work also feels entirely fresh as the temperatures drop and our excitement for the holiday season grows.

And for those who might feel a twinge of confusion at Leah’s departure from her earlier albums, there is nothing more metal than flying in the face of convention. Leah could have stuck to the status quo, as some artists do, creating a discography where one album bleeds into the next. That can create a pleasant, if formulaic, listening experience, but Leah wants us engaged. She wants our hearts to keep time with the drums one moment and for a serene, dreamy feel to overtake us the next. Thanks to her expressive vocals and the unique atmosphere Ancient Winter creates, we can only go along for the ride.

I give Ancient Winter a solid 10/10. Ancient Winter was released on November 15, 2019 by Ex Cathera Records. It can be purchased on Leah’s website, Amazon, and iTunes.

6 Types Of Friends You Don’t Need

six types of friends to avoid

Friendships are vitally important for our happiness; everybody knows that. The exploration of close friendships has been integral to the success of pop culture hits that run the gamut from the obviously-titled Friends to Marvel’s sprawling Avengers franchise. A University of Michigan study found that friends, not family, help you to live a longer, happier life. And this is especially true for women. One study found that over half of the women interviewed valued their relationship with their best friend more than their relationship with their husband.

In school, popularity is defined by how many friends you have. If everybody loves you, then you’re one of the elite few who can claim they’re one of The Cool Kids. As adults, research shows the number of close friendships we actually need might be a lot smaller than our high school days led us to believe.

The aforementioned study found that those who reported maximum happiness had between 4-5 close friendships, with those who had 2-3 coming right behind them on the satisfaction scale. Don’t worry if you only have one close friend. You’re still 50 percent happier than those who report having only acquaintances.

So if we don’t need that many close friends, we can afford to be a little picky about who we let into our inner circle.

First, let’s differentiate the various types of friendships. According to Aristotle, there are really only three types of friendships:

1.) Friendships of utility: These are the people you chat with at work but don’t really know, that one mom you share carpool duties with but aren’t close to, the mechanic who fixes your car without charging you an arm and a leg. These friendships serve a function. They keep the workplace civilized, help to lessen the daily work load, and fuel business transactions.

2.) Friendships of pleasure: This is that guy or girl you like to hook up with when you’re between relationships, your workout partner, or a group of buddies you only really hang out with during football season. You come together for mutual enjoyment, and you share at least one common interest, but you wouldn’t call them at 2 in the morning ugly-crying because you just got mugged. Or possibly need bail money.

3.) Friendships of virtue: The tried and true friends. These are the ones you can call at 2 am for any reason, because they know if you’re calling them at the crack of why-are-you-awake, something is horribly wrong. They’re the ones who know the real story behind why you have a tattoo of Pikachu dancing the Harlem Shake. (I don’t have that tattoo, but wouldn’t it be amazingly bad?)

avoid constant negativity

Now that we have a better understanding of the three main types of friendships, we can delve into the nitty gritty the six types of friends you don’t need to count as one of your close friends. And, more importantly, why.

1.) The Soap Opera Star: You know the type. Everything is always about her. She always has to one-up everyone around her. When you get a new car, she gets a better, more expensive car. When one of your friends gets pregnant, she announces she’s going to have IVF so she stands a higher chance of having twins. When you have a cold, she suddenly has the worst case of the flu, and would you please bring her some chicken soup? And on and on it goes.

Not only is it catty and immature, but it’s given you heartburn and a new gray streak in your hair because the non-stop competition is driving you crazy. If she’s really fun to go clubbing with, knock her down from the inner circle to a friend you see once in a blue moon. Who knows? Maybe she’ll realize her friends are distancing themselves and ask herself why. It’s unlikely because these people tend to be shallow and self-absorbed, but anything is possible. But until that day, keep her at a distance.

avoid gossips

2.) The Gossip Girl: You’re having a bad day. Something truly horrendous is going on, and you have to tell someone. You swear her to secrecy on pain of death, and she promises to never tell a soul. And yet… the next morning, you have 17 texts, 8 voice mails, and 5 messages on Instagram, all asking what the hell happened, and are you okay? Wait, what?! You will never make the mistake of trusting her again. Hopefully.

The good news is that gossips are easy enough to spot in advance. You know the type. “Don’t ever tell her I told you, but Sarah is leaving Steve!” If she’s telling you Sarah’s business, don’t you think she’s going to tell someone yours? Exactly. Cut this one out of your life. Even if she’s fun. Even if she’s “so sweet.” Because she is going to talk about you, and if you don’t give her anything to talk about, she might just make something up.

3.) The Reverse Cheerleader: You have a new job, and you’re super excited. You can’t believe something this amazing has happened to you. All your other friends congratulate you, ask you how you like the job, and are genuinely supportive. What you get from her? A grudging, “Hey, that’s great. I’m happy for you,” and then mutinous silence any time the topic of work comes up. You can feel the resentment pouring off of her in waves. Mention anything wrong in your life, and she’s glad to lend an ear. Mention anything good, and she becomes distant and cold.

This is a huge red flag. Friendship is reciprocal. When times are tough, we meet in a place of genuine empathy and do our best to help each other get through it. When things are going well, we celebrate each other’s successes as if they were our own. Someone who is spiteful and envious is not your friend. It’s okay to think, “Wow, Annie’s career has really taken off. I wish mine was going so well.” But if the thought is more along the lines of, “Why does Annie always get the best breaks? It’s not fair! It should be me!” Then we’ve crossed the line into resentment territory, and this type of person will gladly stab you in the back if it means they get ahead. Especially if it’s instead of you.

avoid disrespectful friends

4.) The Debbie Downer: Nothing is ever good. Nothing. The emphasis is always on the worst aspect of every situation. They had a date and saw a movie, but the popcorn was stale, the soda was flat, and they ran out of gas on the way home. They have a great new job with a corner office, but the windows make it so drafty. Their kid made straight A’s, but can you believe that loser didn’t make the football team? If you bake them a pie, the crust was a little soggy, but, no, don’t worry, it still tasted okay. When you buy them a birthday present, the color isn’t really them, but thanks for the thought! Every single thing is tinged with negativity.

I am 100% against toxic positivity. You know those girls posting “no negative vibes ever” on Instagram who unfollow you because you complained when you broke your leg? The ones who refuse to watch the news because they can’t handle seeing anything distressing? Yeah, refusing to acknowledge a problem only causes it to fester. It isn’t possible to always be a little ray of sunshine. But constant negativity will kill you. This one is tricky, because some people have depression, or they could be going through a divorce or another traumatic event. I don’t subscribe to toxic positivity’s “cancel culture,” which says it’s totally okay to ditch someone for “lowering your frequency.” But you have to remember that, according to science, negativity is contagious. Vaccinate yourself. Take steps to back away from “co-brooding,” where you both sit there bitching about everything, and start to “co-reflect” instead. Understand the problem. See how you can improve it. Then move on to another topic.

5.) The Frosted Flake: They’re going to meet you in a half hour, but they suddenly text saying something came up. It’s okay. It happens. You’ll meet up next week instead, but then something else comes up. They miss your birthday party because they have a work deadline, but you see pictures of them out clubbing all over Facebook. You always go shopping together on Black Friday, but… sorry, she’s going with her mom this year. (Spoiler alert: She’s probably just ditching you again.)

This is the type of friend you can cut out of you inner circle with relative ease simply because… you rarely ever see them anyway. Maybe have a chat with them and let them know you miss spending time with them. Maybe they didn’t realize how much they were ditching you. Or maybe they’ll ghost altogether. You never know. Whether they have a new bestie, a new partner, or you’ve just grown apart, you’ll be much happier when you stop setting yourself up for a sad evening spent on the couch watching Netflix because your plans fell through… again. Take a pottery class and make friends with someone who is dedicated enough to show up every week and get her hands dirty instead of moping over someone who won’t make time for you.

6.) The Asshole: This one should be self-evident, but you would not believe the number of people who are friends with assholes and wonder why they always feel like shit after spending time with their “best friend.” You’re a devout Catholic, and your Atheist friend always jokes about you talking to “Sky Man.” Or maybe you’re an Atheist, and your very Christian friend always tells you she “hopes you’ll accept Jesus into your heart.” Maybe your only goal in life is to be a mother of two, and your friend won’t shut up about how much they loathe children and won’t spend any time around yours. Maybe you don’t want kids, and your friend keeps telling you you’re not really a woman until you have a baby; it’s what you were born to do, and you’ll never know real love until you hold your baby; you’ll change your mind, you know.

I get it! Their beliefs — or lack thereof — are what they find comforting. Their values are what helped them to create a sense of self. They want their friends to experience the same level of joy they feel when they pray or meditate or read Dawkins. They love their children beyond reason and want you to feel the warm, fuzzy feelings they do when they look in on little Timmy sleeping at night. But when they know you have different beliefs and keep trying to help you “see the light,” they’re not actually helping. They’re just being an asshole. Sometimes you can get through to these people, but when they’re fanatical about it and determined to make you see how wrong you are, then they’re being disrespectful of your core beliefs and values. And that is not okay. That’s when it’s time to walk away.

avoid toxic positivity

Breaking up with a friend is never easy. You’ll even miss the flakes and the assholes, but it can be done, and sometimes it’s in your best interest to inventory the people you’ve invited into your heart and evaluate whether or not they’ve earned the right to be there.

Or maybe you were reading this list and said to yourself, “Oh, my God… I’m a Frosted Flake! I have to call Kelsey and apologize!” If you recognize yourself as one of the “toxic” friends and want to improve your friendships, take steps to correct your behaviors.

Confession time: I was the Asshole type. I went through a Militant Atheist Phase™ in college and would aggressively mock anyone who believed in a higher power. Bonus points if I could upset them by pointing out inaccuracies in the Bible. I am so fortunate that I didn’t lose any close friends because of it, but it did cause upset in my family. (I’ve got Irish priests and nuns in the family! Yikes!)

But I grew up. I calmed down. I became more open-minded and less adamant that anyone who disagreed with me was stupid. I’m no longer an Atheist, nor am I a Christian, but I consider myself spiritual. That doesn’t mean I think all Atheists should “see the light.” I don’t want them to. I don’t want anyone to believe in something that doesn’t resonate with them. What I want is for us all to be a little kinder. I want us all to be healthier and happier.

I don’t want someone in my face calling me a dumbass for not being an Atheist any more than I want them attempting to run my life based on their religious beliefs. I didn’t want to deal with assholes, so I stopped being one. And it helped. I am by no means claiming to be a perfect friend, but I care. I make an effort to be supportive and positive. My friends know that if they tell me something in confidence, they won’t be bombarded with texts asking what’s up. They know if I say I’ll be there at 8, barring a major emergency, I’ll be there. I don’t take them for granted, but I’ll never be perfect. No one is. We can only be better than we were.

So take a look at your friends, and then take a look in the mirror. We can improve our lives by removing toxic influences, whether they’re “friends” or internal traits.

Think of it as kind of like The Breakfast Club:

Dear Mr. Vernon, we accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Saturday in detention for whatever it is we did wrong, but we think you’re crazy for making us write an essay telling you who we think we are. You see us as you want to see us, in the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. But what we found out is that each one of us is a brain, and an athlete, and a basketcase, a princess, and a criminal. Does that answer your question? Sincerely yours, The Breakfast Club.

We can all be a bit of a soap opera star, a gossip girl, a reverse cheerleader, a Debbie downer, a frosted flake, and an asshole. For the most part, don’t hang out with these people. And don’t be one.

Be honest… Have you ever been one of these types of friends? Are you now? Drop me a line in the comments or send a DM on Instagram.

Me, Myself, And I

Hi, y’all! After a bump in my follower count on Instagram (if you’re not following me, then you should!), I realized I never moved my little intro from my old blog to this one, so this seems like a good time to tell you a little bit about little ol’ me.

I actually suck at writing about myself, so I nicked a few of these from A Conscious Rethink for help.

I’m just going to share whatever pops into my head and see how long I can keep going, so I have no idea how many facts I’m going to share. If you’re nosy like me, keep reading.

iattendeduniversityofgeorgia1.) Like I mentioned in my last post, I attended the University of Georgia — go Dawgs! –where I studied criminal justice and journalism. (I later went on to attend cosmetology school.)

2.) I once played Prince Bristlebeard in my high school production of a play titled… Prince Bristlebeard and the Happily Never After. I dressed in drag, wore my hair as teased and scraggly as possible, and wore a flaming red fake beard. Good times. Fortunately Sadly, I have no pictures of this monstrosity of a costume.

3.) In my group of friends, I am considered the logical one. Maybe it’s because I’m much more of an Aquarius than a Pisces. Maybe it’s because I looked up to Spock as a child. Whatever the reason, when my friends approach me with their problems, I weigh the pros and cons, analyze the situation, and advise them as best I can. If you want someone to sympathetically hold your hand while you cry, I am probably not your girl. If you want someone to help you figure shit out calmly and rationally, then hit me up.

4.) My childhood nickname was Muffy.

5.) If I could start school from scratch, I would probably study genetics or physics.

6.) I’m dyslexic, so I literally reread the previous sentence ten times — and then made my adopted bro proofread it for me (thanks, Ford!) — to make sure I’d written physics and not psychics.

iwentgrayveryearly7.) I am a natural redhead (evidence is on my Instagram), but I went gray very, very early. Now my roots are mostly white and dark gray with a few gingery streaks. Ewwwww…

8.) I’m plant-based. According to some people, I can’t call myself vegan because I shop secondhand — and because I don’t believe in throwing away my belongings — so some of my jackets, purses, and shoes are leather. I don’t eat animals because I love animals. I also love the planet, so I don’t want a bunch of my shit littering a landfill when it’s perfectly usable. It’s also very difficult to find environmentally friendly vegan items in secondhand stores. You’re free to disagree with my methods and live your life the way you want to, but hateful comments will be posted on my IG Stories and openly mocked. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

9.) I am a shitty driver, and I freely admit to that fact. I’m going to take driving lessons to (hopefully) improve, because… damn.

10.) I curse like a sailor. But! According to research, that’s a sign of more intelligence, not less. Thanks, science!

iamacrazyplantlady11.) I am a crazy plant lady. I love plants! And trees! And flowers! If I didn’t live in the Deep South, where the air feels like you’re breathing pudding instead of oxygen, I would probably spend the bulk of my time outside.

12.) My favorite food is Indian food, specifically papri chaat, which is this delicious chickpea salad, and there’s a place near my house that makes it with coconut yogurt instead of dairy. Yum. I would eat it every day if I could. That or tandoori tofu. My mouth is watering right now. Great, I have a craving at 3 in the morning. Why do I do this to myself?

13.) I don’t want kids. No, this is not an attack on people who have kids or want kids. You do you, boo. No, I will not change my mind. No, telling me I don’t know what love is, that I’m selfish, or that I’ll never know true happiness won’t make me change my mind. To each their own. The planet is overpopulated as it is. I have chronic migraines and can’t handle high-pitched squealing. I have endometriosis. And I just plain don’t want children. The end.

14.) It may shock many of you after reading #13, but I’m actually not single.

15.) I’ve known my best friend for… um… seventeen years? Eighteen? A long time. But I consider her my adopted sister. Once you’ve proven you can stick it out that long, you’re family. I actually have several adopted siblings, some I’ve known for a decade-plus, others for less, but I love ’em like crazy. You know who you are.

ispeakrussian16.) In school I studied Spanish, German, French, Japanese, and Russian. Spanish was the hardest to learn. I’ve actually forgotten most of my Spanish, and I struggle to speak French, though I can still read it. I learned Danish from my adopted family, but after English, I’m the most comfortable speaking Russian. It’s just much easier for me because I have some Russian-speaking friends/adopted family who speak it with me frequently so I don’t get rusty. And they make the best tea in Russia. The best. Maybe that’s part of my affinity. (чита́ть про́поведь!)

17.) I wanted to be an astronaut when I was a kid, and I’m still obsessed with space. (To everybody who’s suffered through my endless space chatter, I am so, so sorry. But not really.)

18.) I am an unrepentant nerd. I dressed as Beverly Crusher for Halloween when I was twelve and was mocked relentlessly, but I didn’t care because I thought I looked cool. I even speak some Vulcan, Klingon, and Elvish.

19.) I love a lot of “creepy” things. Rats? I love them, Mom, so chill. Bats? Adorable, precious things, okay, Tristan! Snakes? They are not the devil’s pasta, Michael, so shut up. Spiders? They eat mosquitoes. They are good bros even if my uncle is petrified of them. (He won’t read this, so I can’t call him out directly. Read my damn blog, man!) But I hate roaches and wasps. Nope. Hell no.

ilovemycatssomuch20.) I love animals. I love them. My cats are my babies. My aunt and uncle’s cats and dogs are also my babies even if they aren’t technically mine. (Meh, semantics.) I named my blog after one of my babies. I have an Instagram for pictures of the four-legged children. I was even nicknamed Kitty because of my love for my cats. I just cannot articulate how much I love them.

21.) I am tiny. I’m only 5 feet tall. Hey, as the Bard said in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, “And though she be but little, she is fierce.”

22.) It’s the ten year anniversary of my almost-death! I was part of Club Swine ’09 and was hospitalized in isolation with Swine Flu in November 2009. CDC doctors came in wearing their hazmat suits. The guy in the room next to mine died — turned out he was also a college student a few years younger than I was. In total, 203,000 people died during the 2009 pandemic. I was one of the lucky ones. Get your damn flu shots, people. Especially if you’re immunocompromised.

23.) I sang with Jewel at a dinner for the governor while I lived in Alaska as a kid. (90s music lovers, you know who I’m talking about. Everybody else, just click the link.)

24.) Also while living in Alaska, I grew up with two of the most gorgeous, loyal, protective wolfdogs. It’s illegal to own a wolfdog in Alaska now, and maybe it was then, too, but I didn’t know any better. I just loved them. To this day, my brother and I have a very strong sense of kinship with wolves. My only pictures of them died in the flood of 2017 that wrecked most of what I owned, and I’m truly gutted about it even though I remember what they looked like so clearly.

25.) This seems like a good number to wrap things up, so #25 is… if you’re still reading this, I love you and hope you have a great day!

Share something interesting about yourself in the comments!

The Best Cruelty-Free Skincare Routine for Adult Acne


I know how it is. You’re out of your teens and well into your 20s, 30s, or even 40s, but you still have breakouts. Nobody wants their fine lines shaking hands with their pimples. So what gives? What in the spotty-skinned hell is going on?

If you’re reading this, then you probably Googled something like “what the hell is wrong with my face?” So grab a cup of tea, settle in, and lemme tell you what might be making your skin freak out before we get to the best things to do for acne-prone skin. Or you can just say “TL;DR” and skip to the end, but stick with me! I promise it won’t hurt. Why you should listen to me? I attended cosmetology school, and I stay up to date on the latest research. I also loved (and aced) chemistry. #sciencenerdforlife

So let’s get on with it! Here are some of the causes of adult acne and the products I’ve been using to manage mine. They’re all cruelty-free, and most of them are vegan!

1.) Your hormones are throwing a rave, and you’re the disco ball. It’s not just teenage hormones that cause acne. Our hormones change as we age, which can lead to massive breakouts that take us back to our high school days of Clearasil and Stridex pads. Not fun. But because our skin changes with age, I don’t recommend Clearasil and Stridex unless you want to run the risk of making the problem worse. Our skin tends to become drier as we get older, plus our ability to produce collagen — that’s what makes our skin look plump and supple — decreases every year.

And, according to Dr. Francesca Fusco, an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City, adult acne is “deeper and appears as cysts, or ‘under the skin’ pimples, which can’t be drained. Teen acne usually sits on the skin’s surface.”

Another hormonal reason for acne? Birth control. If you’ve noticed a change in your skin after starting a new form of birth control, it could be time for another switch.

2.) Cleanliness is next to spottiness. At least in one area — your laundry detergent. Laundry detergents often leave waxy residue that can clog your pores and lead to breakouts, but two of the worst culprits are fragrance and sodium lauryl/laureth sulfates, AKA SLS.  I switched to Method Free + Clear, and my skin immediately improved.


3.) You’re thirsty. Literally. Drink your damn water, people. Please, please, please! I know I sound like a nag — and I totally am when it comes to water and sunscreen — but dehydration is one of the leading causes of acne. It works like this: your skin gets parched as the Sahara and starts screaming “moisturize me!” (why, yes, that was a Doctor Who reference), so your skin produces more oil to compensate, which leads to clogged pores, which leads to acne, which leads to you clutching your hair and asking yourself, “Why didn’t I just drink my damn water?” So… drink it. Go on. I’ll wait while you pour yourself a glass. If you truly loathe water, go for iced or hot teas (try sticking mostly to caffeine-free blends if this is the only thing you enjoy drinking), and make sure you eat lots of fruits and veggies because they are loaded with water.

4.) Life treats you like you’re a stress ball. Whether it’s work-related, kid-related, money-related, relationship-related, or you’re just generally a mess of stress and anxiety (pull up a chair at my table, sis), stress is often to blame for your spots. Which… makes you more stressed, so you break out more, so you stress more, so… You can see where I’m going with this. Try to get some chill. Whatever that looks like for you, look after yourself mentally. Because I am not a mental health professional, I can only suggest CBD oil, seeing a therapist, an antidepressant, or possibly all of the above.

5.) Your diet kind of looks like the poop emoji. No offense, but when we eat shitty foods, we usually know we’re eating shitty foods. Being vegan does not make me immune. I once ate nothing but veggie nuggets and French fries for an entire week. I mean… nothing else. All nuggets. All fries. All the time. And, after consuming my body weight in fried, oily foods, my skin said, “Um, what are you doing?” and went all lumpy and gross. Kind of like an uncooked veggie nugget. Karma is real, y’all. If you notice yourself breaking out like a biiiiiitch after you eat pizza… you gotta cut it out or at least cut it down. Pay attention to how your skin behaves after you eat and drink.

That’s another thing. I hate to say it because I’m drinking a beer as I type this, but… no more nightly beer funnels or multiple Jager shots, mmkay? Nothing will piss off your skin faster than drinking like an undergrad at a party school. (No judgment. I went to University of Georgia.) Drink in moderation.

6.) You’re a beauty guru. Trying out ten zillion new products a month is fantastic for the beauty industry, but for your skin? Not so much. And if you’re dealing with acne, chances are you’re trying a bunch of products geared toward acne-prone skin, which, according to Dr. Paul Jarrod Frank, founder and director of Fifth Avenue Dermatology Surgery and Laser Center in New York, “tears the skin apart.” He also says that, at most, you should be using one or two products marketed toward treating acne, and you need to give them four to six weeks to work. That’s how long it takes for enough turnover to spot a noticeable difference. It sucks, but it’s better than constantly battering your skin with abrasive products.

I could be here all night blathering on about the many, many factors that can wreak havoc on our skin (smoking, pollution, hair products, sugar, animal products), but let’s get down to the nitty gritty. We know we have acne. We know we hate acne. So how can we kill it with fire get rid of it? Or at least make it manageable.


1.) Be Bob Ross. No, I don’t mean perm your hair, wear blue button-downs, and paint happy trees. But when he says “make love to the canvas,” you should listen. Your skin is your canvas, and even if you like whips and chains (again, no judgment), your face doesn’t. I recommend using the gentlest cleanser you can find. Anything too harsh (like most foaming cleansers) will strip away essential oils, which will lead to excessive oil production, clogged pores, and more acne. I love bioClarity’s cleanser, which has cucumber, green tea, and chamomile. It’s sulfate and paraben-free, fragrance-free, dermatologist tested, and vegan.

2.) Pick your poison. Unlike cleansers, which are only on the skin for a short period of time — long enough to cause a reaction or strip your skin, but not long enough to act as a treatment — I recommend using a serum with either benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. You may need to try both, as one product may be incredibly effective for one person and not work at all for another. I love Murad’s Outsmart Acne Clarifying Treatment. It is pricey, but since those of us with acne, sensitive skin, or a lovely combination of the two should simplify our beauty routines, it’s definitely worth the investment.

3.) Listen to Sebastian the crab. Remember in The Little Mermaid when Sebastian tells Ariel, “Darling, it’s better down where it’s wetter?” That’s true for the skin, too. Having oily skin does not mean you don’t need a moisturizer. Say it with me: having oily skin does not mean you don’t need a moisturizer! You do need a moisturizer, but if you’re incredibly oily and/or acne-prone, your best bet is to try out an oil-free moisturizer like this one from Humane.


4.) Become a clean freak. Never go to bed without washing your face, not even once, no matter how tired you are. Pollution, dirt, and oil build up on your skin during the day, and you need to wash it off. That guy in line in front of you sneezing his head off? Yeah, it’s on your face now. So always wash your face before bed. Wash your makeup brushes every week with fragrance-free, oil-free brush cleaner. And never touch your face with dirty hands!

5.) Soak up the sun… carefully. Sun damage is the leading cause of premature aging, not to mention skin cancer. If you take nothing else away from this, please wear sunscreen. Please, please, please wear sunscreen. Please. My aunt just had surgery for melanoma, and not a minor operation, either. Wear your damn sunscreen, or I will hunt you down and apply it for you. That being said, I’ll be honest: it is damn near impossible to find a good cruelty-free sunscreen with a high SPF that doesn’t turn you into an oil slick within an hour of application, but I’ve finally done it. It’s Kate Somerville’s Daily Deflector Waterlight Broad Spectrum SPF 50. It’s expensive, which sucks. But it doesn’t cause breakouts and doesn’t make me oily, so it’s worth it. A less expensive option for my oilier skinned peeps is DERMA E Sun Protection Mineral Powder SPF 30. It’s translucent and mattifying, and you can carry it around in your purse to reapply throughout the day.

6.) Get your grease on. I know, I know. After I banged on about oil-free this and oil-free that, I sound like a hypocrite. Bear with me here. Some oils are good for your skin, and because you’re applying an oil, your skin can actually produce less of it because it’s receiving adequate moisture. This cult favorite from SUNDAY RILEY is amazing. Ah-may-zing.

7.) Shine a spotlight on it. Spot treatments are awesome. The Mario Badescu Drying Lotion is probably the product I recommend the most. One little dot of this stuff, and your pimples will shrink overnight. Oh, because it is a weird, pasty pink color, this is definitely only a nighttime treatment. Unless you like freckling yourself with spot treatment, which is fine.

8.) Treat. Yo. Self. Seriously, self-care is skincare. Make sure you get enough sleep (ha! I suck at this one), eat healthfully (I’m pretty good at this one… barring Nugget And Fries Week and those odd occasions where I eat an entire bag of vegan jerky as a meal), don’t smoke (I used to smoke, so I know quitting is hellish), destress as much as you can (a constant struggle for me, too), drink your water (always), and wear your sunscreen (ditto). Just look after yourself as best you can, and your skin will benefit.

Always patch test new products, and keep in mind that what works for me may not work for all of you. If you’re suffering from severe acne — or if you just want a professional opinion — go see a dermatologist.

If you’re still reading, I love you. Thanks for sticking with me this far. Leave any of your favorite products in the comments!