Pat Mcgrath LuxeTrance Lipstick in Sedition

So yesterday, i started my series on Essentials for the Sick Chick, and wrote about three things that give me joy when i’m feeling not-so-awesome.  Today, i’m focusing on taking care of your body, both inside and out – because beauty starts on the inside, as my grandma always said, but you have to take care of the packaging as well ;).


For many years, i’ve been eating a gluten-free diet (yeah, yeah – i know). When i was first diagnosed with Hashimoto’s, there was a lot of research done on how gluten affects people with my illness, and autoimmune illnesses in general; in fact, many people with Hashimoto’s end up developing Celiac disease as well, which is what happened to me – and cutting out gluten was a revelation. Suddenly, my stomach wasn’t a huge mess every single day anymore. I dropped weight. I stopped getting random hives. My pain was reduced. Not gone, by any means, but reduced because my inflammation was reduced.  Well, it turns out that grains in general cause inflammation, as well – and in fact, there is actual SCIENCE to back this up – so if you have an autoimmune illness, you may want to think about cutting out, or at least cutting significantly back on, grains. I have, and it has made quite a difference. Another boon is that you will lose weight if you need to, and then stabilize at a healthy place. Your body won’t be able to help itself, because it will be using up the energy it consumes, instead of storing it like some paranoid chipmunk preparing for endless Winter.

It’s a well-known fact that meds treating illnesses like Fibromyalgia, Bipolar Disease, Schizophrenia, IBD, Depression, Chronic Fatigue, and a myriad of other autoimmune, mental, and chronic illnesses, often have the unwanted side-effect of weight-gain. So on top of dealing with the illness you already have, you then have to deal with the health problems that weight gain can cause. Whether or not you are a proponent of the HAAS movement, the medical industry agrees that obesity can lead to any number of serious health issues.

Enter the low-carb, low-grain way of eating. I don’t call it a “diet”, because i don’t diet.  I just eat a certain way that i find is healthy for ME; i find i have less inflammation and pain, i don’t have crazy weight fluctuations the way i used to with my Hashimoto’s (notwithstanding the weight-loss i had during the time i left my abusive relationship – it’s been four months and i’ve been at a steady weight now. I’ve always been thin, except during times of flare-ups of my illness, i had been known to suddenly gain up to 25 lbs – until i changed my diet), and i feel much healthier in general. I eat a lot of veggies, i’m not insane about cutting out fruit – i eat that too, mainly whatever is in season.  I eat minimal dairy as i find that it upsets my stomach if i consume too much.  I eat a LOT of meat. My diet is high in fat and protein and leafy green vegetables. I eat occasional grains when i crave them, like during my period, but NEVER gluten, as it makes me very sick.  I rarely eat processed sugar, and have found that i rarely crave it anymore.

Now, you may be a proponent of Veganism or whatever, and i can assure you that i love animals, and was once a Vegan for SEVEN LONG YEARS. However, it did not work with my health conditions, especially when they worsened and i developed Celiac disease.  And yes, i did give it a try – vegetarianism as well.  And it just wasn’t worth the sacrifice to my health. I’m not here to argue the morality of eating animals or the damage feeding cows does to the environment. I buy grass-fed beef because it’s better for me, and don’t buy meat with hormones because of my thyroid condition.  I love animals, and my cats are both rescues. I love animals, but i love being alive and healthy, more.  End of discussion.

The best thing about eating this way is that i have more energy, since my body uses the energy sources i’m consuming right away instead of storing them up as occurs with a carb-heavy diet, i have less pain and inflammation, and i am satisfied with less food.  This is what works for me.  It’s not strict Keto, but it’s based on it. What it based on is what i’ve read regarding the best diet for those with autoimmune issues, and a lot of trial and error. Cooking is fun and flavourful, i get to eat bacon and steak and eggs and fish and butter and all the things i love, and i don’t yo-yo all over the place with my weight.

                                                               One Pot Garlic Butter Chicken by

Do i miss pancakes and cookies? Not so much anymore. It took time, but honestly, if i need something sweet, i’ll grab honey and peanut butter or some fruit. Or on rare occasion, some chocolate. RARE occasion.  For exercise, i do a LOT of walking, work out with Pilates bands when i can be bothered and am up for it, and i’m thinking of taking up a dance class again (i used to be a dancer back in healthier days – i also have a spinal injury i need to be careful of).  I’m 5’6 and 116 lbs.  I get the occasional snarky comment about anorexia, but my doctor says i’m fine, and i assure you that i EAT.  At my age, which is 47 – an age when a lot of women struggle with their weight – and add on top of that being on a veritable pharmacy of meds that can cause weight gain and mess with my energy levels, it works for me.

                                                  Granted, i wear a Victoria’s Secret padded bra, so i don’t look like a 14 year-old boy


Obviously, eating healthy and drinking plenty of water is excellent for one’s complexion, but you can’t stop there. Again, it may seem frivolous to talk about skincare in the midst of an illness flare-up or when one is in the throes of Depression, but I say that is when it is super important to nourish not only the inside of your body, but the outside, as well.

Having dealt with serious chronic illness for about 2 decades now, and a diagnosis of Bipolar illness for 7 years now, i can tell you that – as much as you may not want to hear it – attitude has a LOT to do with how you will manage your illness, and how you will feel. Which is why i’m so into all this girly shit like makeup and skincare. Because it makes me FEEL better.  Even on mornings when i can’t do my whole routine, i force myself to do SOMETHING, because i know that it will help me get through my day. It’s all a matter of prioritizing and realizing what’s important to you.  If i look at myself in the mirror and see that i look like Hell, on a day when i’m feeling ill, it just makes me feel worse.  If i put in a bit of effort to pamper my skin and put on a little makeup, then i feel better.  Those of you with clinical depression surely know what a vicious cycle it can be, when you stop taking care of yourself.  It’s insidious.  And sometimes you just can’t. But if you can manage just one little thing, it makes you feel SO much better about yourself.  I’m very lucky in that my Bipolar illness has been well in hand and managed by medication for several years now – some are not so lucky. Medication and knowing your triggers, and self-care are key.  This is a big part of my self-care!

I am forever tweaking my skincare regimen and trying out new things – although when i find something that works, i’ll tend to stick to it. I’ve been reading a lot about the K-Beauty phenomenon, which has of course been around for a bit, but is gaining more popularity here in the states.  You can get a few things at Sephora, and i just found some shops i can actually go to in person here in Chicago that sell the real deal, not just the super high-end stuff you get in department stores. So once i get my rapacious little paws on some of that goodness, i’ll make a post.  For now though, i’ll tell you what i use regularly, step by step.


The Arsenal – obviously i’m on a big Drunk Elephant Kick!


  • Sunday Riley C.E.O. C + E Micro Dissolve Cleansing Oil – I’m super-into cleansing oils lately, and will be trying more, but i really, really like this one. It smells like oranges, doesn’t break me out, and removes even my super-black liquid eyeliner without me having to pull at my eyelids.  It leaves my dry, dry skin feeling super-soft and hydrated, which i love.  The only thing i have to work at a bit is removing my ubiquitous Pat McGrath MatteTrance or LuxeTrance lipstick, but that’s probably more a testament to the amazingness of her lipstick formula than anything else!
  • Laniege Essential Power Skin Toner – So, this is my first foray into K-Beauty, which is the 7-skin method; wherein you apply a hydrating toner in seven layers (it used to be only three…oi!) to reach optimum hydration before applying the rest of your products. Well, i tried it this morning and i have to say that my skin felt and looked SO PLUMP and moisturized! It’s labour intensive but even if you don’t make it to seven layers, at least do three and i PROMISE YOU you will see a difference. Expect a future post on Korean skin care methods very soon!
  • Algenist GENIUS Liquid Collagen – A.M. Only; this stuff is really nice – apparently it delivers collagen from a vegan source to your skin (the molecules are supposedly small enough to penetrate). All i know is that my skin feels super-hydrated and bouncy after i put it on, and my Vitamin C serum seems to penetrate better afterwards.  I definitely think my naso-labial lines have softened since using it, and i HATE those damned things!!!  However, i’ve been using some other powerful products as well, so it could be the cumulation of several things. The only caveat is that it’s really bloody expensive, and i don’t know that i’d purchase again. Sephora does carry starter sets where you can get a decent sized sample (second self, 5th from the right) and try it out, however. I’ll try out a few other, cheaper options and see what happens. As much as i am committed to my skincare, at $115 per fl oz, it’s hard to justify such a hefty pricetag when there’s so many other things out there to test! I’m glad i got to try it, though.
  • Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum – A.M. Only: Glowing review here – I use this stuff every other morning to make my skin super glowing, tight, and bouncy. This stuff is Holy Grail C-serum for me. It’s been compared to the coveted and famous Skinceuticals Vitamin C + Ferulic acid serum, but for a much friendlier price.
  • Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum – P.M. Only; Another glowing review here – I adore this serum! It feels so gentle, with just a bit of a tingle, but i use it every night and wake up with glowing, clear skin – not only that, but my fine lines are slowly but surely smoothing out.
  •  Sunday Riley Luna Sleeping Night Oil – P.M. Only; I absolutely adore this oil. So many oils break me out, but since this contains both blue tansy and german chamomile, which soothe irritation and redness, i don’t have that problem. I’ve been using those oils to make my own face oil blend for ages, but this has the added benefit of a retinoid added as well! I put it on before my Drunk Elephant Night Serum, letting it soak in for a few minutes first. I like Sunday Riley’s products in general, because they are fairly straightforward, with no added fragrances or crap you don’t need. The combination ensures that i wake up with super-clear, glowing skin every morning. Not to sound redundant, or anything…and the price makes sense, knowing how much german chamomile and blue tansy alone cost. You get a generous amount in the bottle, and a little bit goes a long way to cover your neck and face. It will last you awhile.
  • Drunk Elephant Shaba Complex Eye Serum – Behold, one of the only eye serums/creams that doesn’t break me out around my eyes, or make my eyes water like crazy. It has copper peptides, for collagen production, Co-Q10, and Black Tea ferment. It’s also hydrating and comfortable, has been helping with dark circles (thanks, cats,) and i can apply my beloved YSL Touche Eclat over it with no problems. If it’s a super-cold winter day and i’m being really paranoid about my eyes, i may apply a second cream over it, since it’s technically a serum – but generally it’s not necessary. I just have a ton of eye creams and i’m seeing crows feet when i smile for the first time :(. But my rigorous skin care regimen has been helping, i must say! I swear it’s been thickening my eyebrows up a bit, as well. Oh, and it’s also great on lips.
  • Caudalie Vine[Activ] Energizing and Smoothing Eye Cream – P.M.; Also for those days when my eyes need a little extra hydration, this cream is lovely. It’s got a light consistency, has vitamin C and E, plus grapeseed oil, feels cooling and pleasant and non-greasy, and again, is excellent for applying makeup over afterwards.  It doesn’t make me breakout or cause irritation, which happens with almost every eye cream i’ve ever tried, so that’s two for two. Since i don’t use moisturizer at night lately as i’m on the glycolic serum kick, i just moisturize under my eyes, and this works beautifully.
  • Drunk Elephant LaLa Retro Whipped Cream – A.M. Only; Oh, LaLa Retro, how i love thee! You have a lovely whipped texture, an airless pump jar, contain nourishing oils that somehow don’t make me break out, and yet are rich enough for even the harshest Chicago Winter! Y’all don’t understand – my skin is so bitchy, people.  She is dry, breaks out if you look at her side-eyed, and although she can take a ton of acids, she hates all kinds of weird ingredients that you’d never suspect. Talc is fine. Straight Marula oil? No. Camelia oil? Fine. Marula oil in the LaLa Retro Whipped Cream? Apparently that’s OK. Sigh.  I just never can tell. I’ve tried SO MANY MOISTURIZERS. And i’ll continue to try more, because that’s just how i am. But right now, this one  is getting daily use, and my skin glows because of it. Most days, i don’t even use an eye cream over the Shaba Complex serum. This works just fine.*Update 12/20/17 – now that I’m using the 10-step K-Beauty routine and some new products, I’m finding this to be a tad bit greasy for daytime use, and am now switching it to my night cream only!
  • Algenist Sublime Defense Ultra Lightweight UV Defense Fluid SPF 50 – And finally, SUNSCREEN! Obviously, this is a daytime only thing.  I like this stuff very much – the bottle seems tiny, but it lasts and lasts because a little covers the whole face and neck. I use the highest SPF i can find, as i’m very pale and as we all know, the sun is not our friend when it comes to aging – especially if we’re using retinoids or glycolic acids, which i certainly am. So i use this religiously, over my moisturizer and under my primer/powder (or foundation, if i’m wearing any).  It protects against UVA and UVB rays using Octinoxate, Titanium Dioxide, and Zinc Oxide. The nice thing about the Algenist SPF fluid is that it contains their trademark algae-stuff, which has anti-aging properties, and feels soothing on your skin. I love how it feels, it feels like skincare when i smooth it on. My primer also has an SPF of 40, so i’ve got the sunscreen thing covered, i think…

So, that about covers it for my skincare ritual!  It WILL change, at least in some areas – as i said, i’m about to embark on a K-Beauty experiment, starting this weekend – Korean skincare is about 7-10 years ahead of us, and some extremely impressive unguents, creams, serums, oils, and magic lotions are much cheaper than stuff you’re paying for from department store companies. I will of course report back here!

And thus wraps up my second post on Sick Chick essentials for surviving the Mean Reds – and how to fortify yourself against the tough times when you are battling against health issues, whether they be physical, mental, or even both!  I know it’s tough, i’ve been doing it for a LONG, long time. I’ve survived by taking care of myself, indulging myself in pampering as much as humanly possible, eating well for ME, and taking as much joy in the things that bring me happiness as i can in life.

It does no one any good, least of all yourself, to wallow in regret over what you may lack and others may have in terms of your health. I’ve had extremely hard times, times when i couldn’t work, times when i was hospitalized, times when i had to fight for support – but it’s OUT there, i promise you. Just keep fighting; nobody can do this but you. And stay beautiful!!!

XO, Monday