My Skincare Routine

Every beauty guru knows that good skin is the basis of a good beauty routine. Skin is the largest organ in the human body, and it's the focus of our external selves. Our skin reflects our health and has a huge impact on our self-confidence. I've struggled with my skin for years. I've had acne since I was in 5th grade. I'm now in my mid-20s, and it has finally just begun to subside a bit. I'm no beauty guru by any means, but I've tried everything to achieve "perfect" skin. From prescription drugs, creams, gels, to homemade remedies, the over-complication of my skincare routine seemed to only irritate my skin. It's taken a long time, but I've finally settled into a skincare regimen that works for me and keeps my skin feeling fresh, clean, and smooth. In this post, I've outlined my simple skincare routine and shared my favorite products so that you can give them a try, too.

Most of the products I use are very affordable items that you can pick up at your local drugstore or supermarket. I do have a few staples, though, that are on the pricier side. These "splurge" products are ones that I have definitely found to be worth their cost, and they go a long way. Let me know in the comments below if you've tried or loved any of these products!

Daily Routine

My daily skincare routine includes AM and PM care. I use the same products in the same sequence when I wake up and before I go to bed. My daily routine includes wash, hydration, & eye cream.

1. Wash: Alba Botanica AcneDote

This is a simple and effective face wash that I've been using for a while now. It costs about $6 and can be found at Target and some drugstores. It's vegetarian, cruelty free, and contains 2% salicylic acid and willow bark extract for that extra acne-fighting boost. The AcneDote face wash doesn't dry out my skin at all, and as an added bonus, it has a nice fresh scent. For less than ten dollars, it's more than worth an addition to your skincare arsenal.

2. Hydration: Cetaphil Pro Moisturizer

This Cetaphil moisturizer has been a staple of mine for over 5 years. I have combination skin, which can get quite oily at times in my t-zone. Prior to finding this product, I was always searching for a moisturizer that didn't leave my skin looking greasy. I was constantly blotting the oil off my face and was often ashamed at how greasy my skin looked. I'm not exaggerating in any way, but ever since I started using this, I've seen a dramatic reduction in the shininess of my skin. My skin is constantly hydrated without being greasy or oily. As a bonus, the moisturizer contains SPF 32 broad spectrum sun protection. You can pick it up at almost any drugstore, and it'll run you about $14. One bottle usually lasts me about 3-4 months. I can't go anywhere without this moisturizer, and I would highly recommend it to anyone with  oily/combination skin.

3. Eye cream: R+F Bright Eye Complex

My AM/PM routine used to only include face wash and lotion. Now that I'm midway through my 20s, I've started to notice some pesky dark circles under my eyes. This R+F serum is a new product I've been using, and it's like a tiny bottle of magic. It's an illuminating and hydrating gel cream that helps diminish the appearance of dark circles and puffiness. A little bit goes a very long way with this one. All you have to do is put a little dot of the serum under each eye, gently pat it in, and go your way as a bright eyed & bushy tailed babe. The effect of this product is cumulative, meaning it's not just a quick fix. Its effect builds over time, and you'll notice your dark circles fading within the first couple of weeks of use. Before I started using it, I was piling on the under-eye concealer before going in to work my night shifts. Once I added this into my routine, I stopped using my concealer for my fresh-faced makeup look. Full transparency: this product is one of my splurge-worthy items. Its retail cost is $70, BUT there are ways to get special discounts and promotions on R+F products. If you are interested in giving it a try and learning more about this one, I'll list my R+F rep's contact info at the end of this post. She let me in on some ways to get free products as well, which I'll share below, too.

As Needed Products

In addition to my daily AM/PM routine, I have a few ride or die PRN products. (PRN is nurse-speak for as needed). These three faves include two affordable products and one splurge-worthy product. All three of them are a VERY highly recommended addition to your skincare routine. It's safe to say I'm obsessed.

Freeman Clay Mask

Face masks. I've probably tried over a hundred different face masks, and of most them don't do anything for me. In a gracious contradiction, this clay mask from Freeman has done wonders for my skin. I've gone through numerous bottles of this stuff because it really is that good. The best thing about it (other than the fact that it'll make your skin feel amazing) is that it's only $4. This magical green mask, made with avocado, oatmeal, and vitamin E, will leave your skin as smooth as a baby's bottom. Whenever my skin is flaring up with acne and redness, I'll use this mask, leave it on for about 5-10 minutes, then wash it off to reveal a much smoother, calmer face. It reduces redness instantly. Did I mention it leaves your skin EXTREMELY SMOOTH? Try this one. You won't regret it.

Mario Badescu Drying Lotion

If you haven't heard of this popular product, you're missing out. This little bottle of drying lotion is a spot treatment for pimples. It zaps zits like no other. Some people are a bit confused by its presentation since it doesn't look like your conventional spot treatments. All you have to do with this little elixir is dip a cotton swab into the pink sediment at the bottom, and apply it to your problem areas. This tiny bottle is a borderline splurge, but since it lasts so long, I wouldn't really consider it one. It's $17, but you should only be using a small dot of the product at a time. If I didn't share this bottle with my boyfriend (I got him hooked on this one), it would probably last me about 4 months. You can find this product at Ulta or your local beauty supply store.

Dermalogica Microfoliant

Say hello to the first skincare product I ever threw down major bucks on. This splurge-worthy  exfoliating scrub costs about $60 and can be found at Ulta or your local beauty store. I've been using the same bottle for months, and I'm not even close to running out. I use this once a week to exfoliate and improve the texture of my skin. The product is a fine white rice-based powder, and you pour a tiny amount in your damp hands while in the shower. Once you rub it in, it transforms into an exfoliating paste. I love this product because it truly does leave my skin looking extremely refreshed and feeling ultra smooth. If you're unsure about spending a bunch of money on this, ask an employee at Ulta or Sephora if they have any samples or small bottles so you can give it a try. I have no doubts that you'll love it. Once winter rolls around and my skin starts acting up, I know I won't be going long without this product.

Extra Info/Deals

Rodan + Fields:

For more info on the eye bright serum or what products would work for your skin, contact Erica from R+F. If you mention The Trendy Nurse and become a preferred customer, she'll hook you up with a FREE full size product. Now that's what I'm talking about!

R+F Rep, Erica:

My Fitness Journey

Fitness versus wellness... is there a difference? I think I have always strived for fitness but haven’t always been focused on wellness. To me, wellness includes having a healthy routine that fuels your body AND your mental wellbeing.

For nearly all my life I have been an athlete. I played ice hockey since I was in first grade, and through those years I was also dedicated to softball, cheerleading, and dabbled in soccer, basketball, and volleyball. These sports involved a lot of strength and endurance.

I was a bit more “thick” than other little girls. I had leg muscles from long and intense hockey practices, and I remember one time telling my mom that I thought I was fat. She showed me a picture of Serena Williams on a magazine cover and told me, “look at her. She is so muscular, and she is strong and beautiful, like you!” Looking back, I can’t believe I felt this way about my body when I was a child. Once I got to high school, I began focusing my time on cheerleading. I think after many years of being a tomboy, I wanted to focus my athleticism on something “cuter” and “cooler.” So, I dropped all my other sports, even my childhood favorite, which was being on the ice and kicking the boys’ butts in hockey.

Being a high school cheerleader was physically and mentally crushing. I pushed my body to the limits, all the while consuming less than 1,000 calories a day. Sophomore year, I was one of three girls my age to make the varsity team. The varsity squad was almost all seniors, and I felt intimidated and inferior. The team I was on was all about looking and being perfect, and it took a serious toll on my happiness. It also messed with my body. Our practices focused on tricks and stunts, and I was throwing tumbling passes that I was not fundamentally prepared to do. At the time, I weighed 100 pounds and was lifting senior flyers who were incredible athletes and were heavier than me. They were not happy, to say the least, when I couldn’t keep them up in the air. I developed aches and pains in every joint of my body, and my back was constantly aching. No one ever taught us how to be safe. They only wanted us to look perfect, at all costs. Long story short, I ended up  quitting cheerleading, and this was the unfortunate last experience I had playing sports. I was left with a feeling of defeat and a distaste for the shape and abilities of my own body.

For the rest of the year after I quit, I started hitting the gym to make up for the physical activity I was no longer getting. I strictly focused on cardio, spending excessive amounts of time on the elliptical or treadmill. I counted calories obsessively and restricted my diet in ways that were unhealthy for a growing teenager. This pattern was thankfully interrupted late in my high school career once I became active in the performing arts at my school. I finally began channeling my energy into something positive instead of being narrowed in on finding a way to make my body shrink. Being a part of theatre and competitive speech allowed me to grow into a mentally strong and confident woman. I finally felt that I had value as a person because I felt talented and respected. I belonged to a group of people who were accepting and loving of everyone.

In college, I didn’t continue to take part in the performing arts, but I will forever recognize that it saved my mental health in my late teens. I had a wonderful college experience and didn’t focus much on fitness and exercise, but the negative feelings about my body lingered. I went to the gym and went for runs occasionally, but I wasn’t very consistent. I gained weight throughout college, and graduated at the heaviest weight I have ever been in my life. My body did not look the way I necessarily wanted it to, and I didn't have a way to be active and athletic without falling back into a poor relationship with my self image.

This pattern continued for me until grad school, when I met my boyfriend. He is very into lifting weights, and he does it because he loves it. He has a healthy balanced life and enjoys his fitness routine because it makes him feel good about himself. What a concept! I had never experienced that before. I started lifting weights with him, and as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I began to really love it. Exercising finally felt good to me because it meant that I could become stronger. I could gain something from working out instead of always focusing on losing. I could set goals for myself and look at myself in the mirror and see that I was getting stronger! This was so exciting to me, and two years later, it still is. I can honestly say that lifting weights has saved my self esteem. I love walking into the gym and feeling powerful. I love seeing how my body can surprise me with what I'm able to do. And most importantly, I love my body. I love the way I look and I have never felt better in my own skin.

In the two years that I’ve been lifting, I’ve had different phases. Sometimes I go to the gym every day. Sometimes I only make it a few times a week, and sometimes I don’t make it at all. Either way, I’ve learned that it’s okay. Why? Because your body is your HOME, and it’s meant for feeling healthy, safe, and secure. Yes, there is pressure to strive for a certain aesthetic. Yes, I still have moments when I feel a lack of confidence and wished I looked like the fitness models I see on Instagram. I still feel moments of guilt and have bad days, too, but at the end of the day I can say I am thankful. Thankful that I am healthy, strong, and happy. As everything in life goes, finding wellness in fitness is a process. I am a work in progress, and overall, I’m still learning to love myself more with each passing day. 

A Letter to Me

I’ve always been a sucker for old photos. As I was growing up, my mom made these beautiful photo albums of our family photos, and I still flip through them to this day. When I look at these old pictures, sometimes I put myself back in the shoes of who I was in that moment of time and can’t believe that in those moments I had no idea who I was going to become. Sometimes I think about what I would say to myself in the past if I had the opportunity.
This whole thought process has inspired me to write this post that's a bit of a sentimental self reflection. I challenge you all to take a minute out of your day and do the same, even if you just think about it instead of writing about it. It's really lovely to think about how far you've come and to reflect on different times in your life. If you do write your own letter, feel free to share it with me in the comments!

To my 6 year old self,
I know that school is your FAVORITE thing in the world. Well, I mean, I’m glad you realized this after crying the whole first day of preschool and not allowing your mom to leave the class.  Your love of school is going to set you up for a lifetime of learning and exploring, so never lose that hunger for knowledge! Play outside every chance you get and never say no to a water balloon fight. As much as you want to be a big kid, don't forget that being a little kid is the best thing ever! Give your grandpas lots and lots of hugs for me. Also, stay away from the scissors unless you’re cutting paper and crafts. Cutting your own bangs is never a good idea.

To my 10 year old self,
Look at you go! I'm so proud of you for never being afraid to do what you love, even if that means you gotta hang out with the boys sometimes. You'll find that not everyone thinks a girl should play every sport under the sun, but you'll also find that you're better than a lot of boys and you shouldn't be ashamed of that. Don't let anyone tell you what a girl can and can't do, because you can do whatever you want in this world. You'll accomplish anything you set your mind to and be an unstoppable woman one day! Be fearless and never give up on your passion just because someone says it's not right.

To my 14 year old self,
Hey there. If you would have listened to my advice when you were 6, you wouldn't have to wear your hair in a "poof" until your emo self-cut side bangs grow out... Anyway, freshman year of high school is here. I know that you're nervous for what the next 4 years will bring, but believe me when I say that you are going to transform in ways you can't even imagine possible. Always have the courage to do what your heart says is the right thing to do. Know your worth and your beauty. Be kind to yourself, and allow your body and mind to grow and be healthy! In high school, you will make friends who you will share countless laughs and memories with, and you will set yourself up to get into a great college (which is even more fun than high school)! By the way, if you ever feel like you want to quit cheerleading and do speech and theater instead, it's worth it. Trust me.

To my 20 year old self,
Having a good time in Miami? I bet. College brings a lot of ups and downs, and I'm fully aware that everything that is happening to you at this moment seems like the biggest deal in the world. I want to remind you to take a deep breath, chill out, and let fate take hold of your future and where it goes. Every single person who walks in your life is there for a reason, and the ones who walk out of it leave for a reason as well. Spend all the time you can with your friends. They're really amazing people, and you'll miss them dearly in a few years! And finally, get pumped... cause what you have 5 years down the road is pretty freaking awesome if I do say so myself.

Fashionable Eyewear for Less

Without my glasses or contacts, I'm pretty much as blind as a bat. To add to that burden, each year, my eyes get worse and worse at doing their job. If there's one thing I hate the most about getting a new prescription, it's having to buy a new pair of glasses. Or at least, I used to dislike it. Now, I've discovered a much easier and more affordable way to buy new prescription eyewear: EyeBuyDirect.

Using EyeBuyDirect has allowed me to invest in multiple pairs of cute frames without breaking the bank. Their frames start at only $6, and their most expensive frames are $70, which is still a fraction of the price you'll pay for frames at your eye doctor's office. Their lenses range from $7 for the basic lenses to $40 for advanced lenses. You can also get sunglasses, transition lenses, or multifocal lenses from EyeBuyDirect. All you have to do to get started is create an account on the website, add your personal prescription into your account, and shop to your heart's content.
"Cupertino" in Silver
"Watermelon" in Blue
"Primrose" in Tortoise
The pairs I've purchased from EyeBuyDirect are captioned in the photos. Out of the three of them, the Cupertino frames are my favorite. They seem to be the highest quality, and they have the little pads that sit comfortably on the bridge of your nose. I purchased the basic lenses ($6.95) for the Watermelon frames, and I don't wear them often because the vision quality is not as high as the other pairs. My other two pairs have their "Most Popular Lenses," which cost $18.95 and feature UV-protective, anti-scratch, and anti-reflective coatings. I have yet to try the advanced lenses, but I would recommend opting for those if you wear your glasses daily.
"Merrion" in Black
EyeBuyDirect also has great frames for men. I recommended them to my boyfriend, Chris, and he loves his pairs as well. Not to mention, he look so dang cute in them! Chris picked out his frames using the "try-on" feature on their website that allows you to upload a photo of yourself and get an idea of how the frames would look on your face. If you're ready to get started and pick out some sweet new specs for yourself, sign up using this link and you'll get $10 off your first purchase! Happy shopping!

Small Business Feature: Buu Buttons

As a new grad nurse, one of the most exciting parts of starting my job was finally getting my RN badge. No more "NURSING STUDENT" in bright red letters plastered on my badge - I was now official! After receiving my standard badge reel, I was quick to switch it out with the cutest little button style reel from a fellow nurse's small business, Buu Buttons.

My adorable floral reel from Buu Buttons
The creator of Buu Buttons is a full time ER nurse who started making the buttons as a hobby. Her friends loved what she was making, and her hobby quickly became much more than just a craft. She updates her online store frequently with new designs, and you can find sneak peeks of what's next to come on her Instagram account. Buu Buttons has no minimum order number and shipping only costs $0.99. My Buu Button badge has already earned me quite a few compliments, and it works well with no tangling/sticking of the reel.
I mean, come on. How cute is this Chewie button?
Support this small business by checking out her designs and ordering some adorable badges for yourself and your friends! I know you want to!

Buu Buttons Links: