15 Beauty Products for Single Ladies

I distinctly remember the day my mom let my buy real makeup for the first time: I was 11 and had my very first zit (big and terribly red, center of my chin). It was in the middle of summer, I was wearing khaki shorts and a red polo (don’t judge) and I walked out of Wal-Mart with three things: Neutrogena Face Wash + Acne Creme duo, Covergirl concealer and blue glitter eyeshadow.

Because it was the 90’s, y’all, okay?

I was amazed by how easily it was to hide an imperfection and how fun it was to make my eyes brighten or get bigger with makeup – and honestly, I’ve been hooked ever since. After 15 years of having a really poor complexion that broke out constantly, I’ve been (mostly) acne-clear for a year now. Though Accutane is some serious stuff (and you should only take it if you commit to keeping yourself healthy), it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Having the option of wearing foundation or skipping it has been a life changer and huge confidence booster. Feeling beautiful in my own actual skin is something I always wanted and never had.

But, I still love my beauty products, they’ve just changed a bit.

My mom has always worn the same lipstick, same perfume, used the same lotion – but I like to try things. There are a few staples that I swear by (you’ll see them below) and other ones that I’ve recently tried and loved (also below).

Check out my picks for the best beauty products if you’re dating, looking, loving — or just enjoying the single ride:

Shampoo That Makes Your Hair Smell Amazing

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I hate spending a lot of money on shampoo and conditioner (it just washes down the drain!), but I love when you can get salon-quality product for a very cheap price.  Vidal Sassoon Pro Series (I always get the jumbo-sizes at TJ Maxx for $3.99 each!) has tons of different options – moisture, repair, hydrate – but I love the color protect if you dye your hair like me.

Face Wipes That Wake You Up

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It takes 30-days to form a habit and I’ve been doing this one for 25 years: wake up, brush my teeth, use a cleansing towelette to wake up. I’ve tried lots of them, but these are soft, smell like cucumbers and great for travel. Giovanni also has tons of other products, like travel kits and makeup, check them out. (I love their Hot Chocolate Sugar Scrub, too!)

Best Nail Polish Color for a First Date

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One of my good friends – a dating expert – once said: wear a red dress, but never wear red nails on a first date. I was confused by this at first, but it makes sense: you want to dry attention to yourself (and men are distracted by color, it’s science), but not to your hands, necessarily. I always go for a clear polish or a lighter color and Wet N’ Wild has a nice collection that dry fast and available basically everywhere.

Masque to Use Before He Sleeps Over

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Some say three dates, others say five – I say whatever feels right to you. For me, when I’m ready to let a man stay the night at my apartment, I want to seem like I’m this radiant, glowing creature in the morning, even if that’s not exactly true all the time. The night before your adult sleepover, try the Amore Pacific refreshing masque to deep-clean your skin and leave your face soft.

The Easiest Way Ever to Curl Your Hair

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My hair isn’t naturally anything: it’s a dull, boring light-brown color. It only looks pretty and wavy when it wants to. It doesn’t like to be straightened. And yeah, it’s kind of frizzy. Though this Rusk Curl Freak is a complete splurge ($200!) it will save you so much headache if you want really pretty, really easy curls. You clamp at the top of your hair, push a button, it beeps at you and voila! You have the most beautiful curls, ever with basically no effort.

If You Hate Getting Your Eyebrows Waxed Like Me

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I’ve had my eyebrows waxed a few times but it’s not my favorite past time. The wax breaks me out, I flinch when they do it, I have a red area around my brows for a week after. I opt for old-fashioned tweezing but prefer a slanted tip like this Tweezerman set.

For Lashes You Can Bat

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I’m a big believer in eye contact – on a date, at the bar, when you see someone cute on the subway, at work, while listening to your friend. And if you want to use those babies to pick up someone, pretty eyelashes help pronounce your beauties. I’ve used L’Oreal Voluminous Volume Mascara since high school and refuse to use anything else. It’s seriously the best. (For blue eyes, try black/brown instead of black – it looks more natural!)

The Best Way to Use Oils

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I never understood what you were suppose to do with fragrance oils – where do you dab them? Why do you need them? Then a friend spilled her secret with them: put a little bit on your neck, a little behind your ear (and in other places if you plan on getting naked) and they work their magic. I love the magnolia scent from The Body Shop – and love that their bottles last forever because you use such a little amount each time.

Perfume for Falling in Love (Or At Least Hoping You Do!)

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Unlike my mom, I try tons of different perfumes all the time. I even mix them together to create a new scent if I’m feeling extra creative. My latest obsession is this new perfume, Philosophy’s Loveswept. It smells fresh and citrus-y, with subtle undertones.

For Covering Up Those Pesky Pimples

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If there is a concealer at Sephora, I’ve tried it. Literally anything and everything I could get my hands on, I would try to cover up all of my annoying acne that made me feel so ugly. The best concealer I’ve found – isn’t a concealer at all! It’s actually foundation from Dermablend (with 20 SPF!) and it goes a long, long way. I’ve had the same 1.0 fl. oz bottle for more than a year. No joke. Just put on a problem area, let dry and cover with powder foundation….

Foundation That Doesn’t Look or Feel Like Foundation

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I never liked mineral foundation or makeup until post-Accutane days because I never felt like it was enough coverage. Now, right before runs or heading to work, I dab the Dermablend under my eyes and smooth over with bareMINERALS Ready Foundation. It’s exactly the amount of coverage you need, but not too much.

Because Every Girl Needs Red Lips

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I’m a big believer that everyone looks great with red lipstick. It’s an everyday staple for me, and especially on dates. (I mean, just look at the top of this blog!) Dolce & Gabbana’s classic cream lipstick goes on easy, lasts forever, and is available in fun shades – including my personal favorite, “Fire.”

Say Good-Bye to Dry Skin

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The best tip my dermatologist ever gave me is always, always exfoliate (and moisturize!). This keeps your skin clean, fresh and free of bacteria. One of my favorites is from bliss – just dab on a Clarisonic (worth every penny!), all over your face (especially the t-zone) for really glowing, bright skin. It’s great to use right before you apply makeup for a date.

If You Don’t Want Wrinkles

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My mom started using anti-aging cream at 22, and I started at 21 by her recommendation. It took me a while to find a system that I really liked, and after Accutane, I realized just how much I needed a great moisturizer with SPF and collagen. I was given a Palladio Beauty set as a gift and I fell in love: I used the UV Defense Daily Moisturizer, the Revitalizing Night Repair Cream and the Anti-Wrinkle Eye Cream every single day. Best part? It’s totally affordable.

Lotion That’s Not Too Much or Too Little

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It’s hard to find something in between Bath & Body Works and Cetaphil. You might want a little bit of fragrance, but not too much that it gives you a headache, right? I’m a big fan of Ahava’s Mineral Botanic Honeysuckle & Lavender Body Lotion. It’s scented just the right amount and also really hydrating for your skin.

Want to win some of these products? Here’s how: 

This Valentine’s Day, write a self-love letter to yourself and it’ll be published (anonymous or not) on Confessions of a Love Addict! And you enter yourself to win a prize pack of beauty products and a Home Goods gift card! Learn more here. Submit here.

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It Looks Great On Me

After weeks of bipolar New York City weather, the clouds parted just enough to allow a sliver of sunshine to grace the Hudson river. I felt the breeze tickle my back as the light warmed my face, and even though I didn’t have anything particularly exciting or enlightening to smile about, a grin appeared anyway.

With only a few more blocks to go, I slowed my pace just enough to enjoy the walk but not enough to be late to meet my friends at the Boat Basin on the Upper West Side. It was a night dedicated to a children’s charity and to buying (many) glasses of wine in support. When I finally met up with J and entered the establishment, a few brilliant rays of light beat into the patio, putting a stunning haze over everyone. And in my red off-the-shoulder dress, feeling the heat of the sunset seep into my eyes, I felt something that I haven’t felt in a while:

Beauty.

Maybe it’s been the unpredictable weather or my Accutane hangover, but it’s been some time since I’ve truly felt beautiful. Sure, after a long shower and the right spritz of perfume, I’ve felt attractive enough to flirt up the bars. Or at least confident enough to pretend I felt prettier than I really do. It’s taken longer than I ever expected — nearly two years — to shed the lingering effects of the end of my relationship with Mr. Possibility. It took me nearly a year to realize how his snide comments or constant effort to compare me to other women took it’s toll on me. And it’s taken me another year to release those negative words from my memory. For all the good he gave me and the things he taught me, pointing out my flaws was something that I didn’t fully digest the harshness of until I was completely emotionally removed.

But you know, it’s not all his fault. It’s actually more my fault — I have, after all, been repeating the you-must-be-perfect mantra since high school. The song didn’t stop sounding sweet until I finally faced what I didn’t like and well, took control of it. I officially ran my first 10K this past weekend, I’ve lost nearly 15 pounds in the past 9 months and by some stroke of modern medicine miracles — I don’t have to wear makeup anymore.

And sure, those things matter but what matters more is that I feel attractive from the inside out. Cliche, for sure – but truth all the same. Before you can create that simple confidence and bask in the natural, not-even-close-to-perfect beauty that is yours — you have to believe it.

You have to believe it until you actually feel it.

Maybe it’s by humming a new tune to remind yourself that you’ve got it going on. It could be as easy as putting your focus on being happy instead of being the best. Or it could be taking time to dream and fostering those positive thoughts into everything you do. It can be remembering to smile in a city that’s full of grimaces and frowns. Or teaching yourself to look past the faults of others to discover beauty in places you didn’t see before.

However you do it, however long you have to try to find it – once you do, something remarkable happens:

People notice it.

In the past few weeks, I’ve been called a goddess by a barista at Starbucks. A man with a vintage camera asked to take my photo on my way into Chelsea Market because he wanted to capture my glow. At the charity dinner, I caught more glances than I have this entire year. A handsome stranger stopped me on the side of the street just to remind me that I was beautiful. My friends have noticed my clear skin, the freckles they’ve never seen because I’ve always worn so much coverage and a kick in my step that hasn’t been kickin’ in months. I’ve finally started showing my teeth in pictures — going against the advice of Mr. P who always told me I didn’t have a good enough smile for that. I’ve gone out on two quite successful dates with a guy who I’m excited to go on a third date with — and I didn’t do myself up either time to see him.

Instead, I came as myself.

And you know what? Being natural, smiling, laughing, confident and dare I say it, beautiful… it looks great on me.

This Baby Loves Her Back

My boobs were bigger when I was 10 years old than they are now.

Something happened the summer before I started middle school — my mom let me shave my legs for the first time (at our lake house in a bikini, terrified of cutting myself), acne snickered at my skin and well, every top I owned suddenly was a bit too small. And though I had always waited quite impatiently to look like a real woman, when those curves arrived sooner than expected, I wished they would go away.

Having an inappropriate body for a young girl brought all sorts of things — unwanted attention from older guys, untrue rumors at school because surely if my body looked sexual, I must also be sexual in nature. The truth was I found myself wearing a 32 D-cup and sincerely had no idea what to do with such a massive and speedy physical transition. I hadn’t “french kissed” a boy and yet I had a chest to insinuate I was ready for quite more than that.

Sixth grade was really the first year I started cursing my own body. I was too heavy on top. My stomach pooched more than the other girls in gym class. I couldn’t run as fast because my breasts were too heavy. My skin was speckled. My teeth weren’t perfect and I didn’t want braces. The other girls were prettier. They were skinnier. They didn’t have awfully huge knockers that I hated so badly I kept them only in sports bras for years until one of my friends demanded I wear a proper underwire freshman year of college.

Throughout my many growing body pains, my pants and dress size fluctuated too. Following a stressful period my sophomore year of high school, I gained close to 20 pounds and kept it on until I graduated. To compensate for my insecurity, I covered up the extra weight in loose-fitting clothing and cardigans to cover what I saw as embarrassing rolls in every place. When I went off to college, I not only had to walk — uphill, literally in snow — everywhere I went, but I discovered a newfound love for running, too. The thing that triggered my actual shedding of the baggage around my midsection and thighs wasn’t anything healthy though — it was the depression I fell into following that terribly awful thing that happened on my 18th birthday.

And then I was thrown into a dark world of strange feelings about my body.

Not only was it slowly shrinking due to quite a loss of appetite and desire for much of anything, I also felt foreign to my own limbs. And maybe more devastating to me, that power I had always felt sexually since I lost my virginity to my high school sweetheartfaded. I didn’t want to be naked and I really didn’t want to be touched — unless it was a touch of love. And love was pretty much void for most of college. I didn’t know how to get back all of that fire that got me through everything, so I took the advice of someone special and I faked it until I made it. I led one of the sections at the student newspaper, I volunteered, I became an orientation leader and I went on dates with men I knew I’d never actually care about. And inside, I felt like the ugliest person alive. Like this body I had, was damaged or broken, that it wasn’t worthy of what I once thought it was.

But after lots of counseling and even more determination to pull myself back up, I found myself interning in New York and starting to finally feel beautiful. Or maybe glamorous is the right word. My bra was not only significantly emptier but my waist and heavy heart was too, making me feel unstoppable and vibrant in a city that mostly defines itself by beauty. Or at least being surrounded by it, that is. But when you spend your time trying to be social and liberated and basking in the light of a bright new chapter, you also start drinking more. When I returned to finish my last year-and-a-half of college, I found myself staring at yet another number on the scale I didn’t like and pulling out those hefty bras I thought I could throw away.

And so this pattern continued pretty frequently over the next five years… until last summer.

Mr. Possibility was still in my life — in and out — and though he did help me get over my intense hatred of my acne (“Those are only your freckles!“), he didn’t do much for my body image. His love (and constant praise) of those 5’10-and-up skinny, long-legged gals made my shorter, curvier, womanly frame feel unworthy. Unappreciated. Not good enough for any successful man in New York. While almost every guy I’ve dated (Dr. Heart included) has adored the little extra I’ve always packed, I’ve never felt quite comfortable having them like it so much. If it jiggled or wiggled or moved at all, surely it’s not an attractive sight for a man to see.

But in the sweltering heat of the July sun, after a knock-down, drag-out fight that ultimately kicked Mr. P out of my life for mostly good with the shocking slam of a taxi cab door — I made a decision to be beautiful.

Scratch that — to feel beautiful. To embrace my beauty. To accept it. To know it’s there.

And as much as falling in love with myself is more than my mirror’s reflection, a positive, accurate body image is part of the courting, too. I got back into running after a long-delayed absence, I starting drowning myself in water, I went on Accutane to get rid of 15-year-old acne and I stopped comparing myself to every girl that I saw.

That last one was the doozy.

I had been measuring myself up against every pretty lady I passed, wondering if she had all the things I wanted because her thighs were the size I wished mine were. Or her skin had never seen a bad day. Or her teeth were aligned so symmetrically it blinded me. Instead of seeing perfection in everyone around me — and ignoring my own shine — I started reminding myself about how superbly awesome my body is.

And maybe more importantly — how incredible it will be one day.

Now, it can run 6 miles and not be out of breath. It can make it through an intense Pilates session and hit the pavement minutes later. It can endure the brutality of the city and stay in step with the fastest New Yorkers who push by. It’s hand can comfort a puppy who has a nightmare in the middle of the night. It can hold the head of a friend in need or embrace a celebratory moment. It can rock out a black mini and a red dress, and then look equally good — and damn it, curvy as hell — in tight workout pants and t-shirt an hour later. It can curl and go straight, it can go natural or pageant-faced and be just as pretty. Even if the beauty is in the fruitful flaws.

But one day — it’ll even be better. It’ll produce life. It’ll carry a baby. It’ll give birth to that baby. It’ll grow and stretch and sag and wrinkle and change and with all of that, it’ll just get more astounding. It’ll get lines and have scars that hold meaning — ones that were caused by things I survived. Or memories that were worth every bit of pain. It’ll be touched by a man worthy enough to be loved by me for the rest of his life. It’ll be held delicately because it’s precious and one of a kind.

And it’s mine.

So why not love it? Why not be madly in love with it? Big boobs, freckled cheeks, a baby-got’s-back rear end, frizzy hair in all-weather and everything in between belongs to me. And to me, all of it is beautiful.

Judge Me, Judge Me Not

Most children are raised to have a conscience. To grow into upstanding citizens who care about the Earth, their neighbors, the less-privileged, and those in need. We’re encouraged to expand our horizons and test our boundaries. To seek a higher education and to join the work force in an effort to contribute to the goodness of mankind. We’re told to develop our own perspectives, opinions, and tastes, and to have the strength to stand by them when faced with adversity. We should be kind and giving, humble, and forgiving, but also tough and independent, intelligent, and curious.

And when our tongue feels like dancing or our hands raise to whisper, we’re reminded secrets don’t make friends and we can’t judge someone because we’re not them. You can’t understand a stranger and at times, you can’t even understand the person you think you know the best  -so judge them not.

Right?

Like all of the lessons that are important to learn, being completely non-judgmental is a not so easy task. As much as I pride myself on being an open-minded, understanding, and rather gracious person – I know I’m guilty of thinking less of others. I’ve walked on the opposite side of the street because I felt unsafe due to a person dancing wildly and it made me uncomfortable. Was he threatening? No. Was he sober? Probably not. Did he say anything to me? Nope. But still, I felt the need to distance myself.

When a young woman in the laundry mat with a wide-eyed baby talks to me about how she hates the food stamps she’s on and how she wishes she could go to NYU like some of the other 18-year-olds she knows, I have to make an effort not to wonder about her parent’s influence or cursing them if they don’t help her. Do I know her background or will I ask? No, but I still find myself blaming her upbringing for her current circumstance. Maybe its nature vs. nurture or debating the idea that we are where we come from or we make our way as we go. Nevertheless, the judge in me I wish I didn’t have, always seems to find its way out.

Or at the bar when I rounded the dating circles, I was quick to rule out any guy who I wasn’t instantly attracted to, who wasn’t over 6’0″, who didn’t strike me as engaging or funny, or who was obviously and sloppily intoxicated. I’d judge them by characteristics they can’t change, like their height, and for being shy or difficult to talk to, when their reasons for being reserved may be due to something that happened or just the result of an off-day. How many men have I passed up because I just didn’t meet them at the right time on the right night? Or because I was only noticing their wrongs, instead of their opportunities to be right.

I’ve had to remind myself I don’t know the life of every person who walks this city or this planet, and without having a scope into their life, I can’t make an assumption or develop an opinion on who they are or why they do the things they do.

But then again, do I even know why I do the things I do? If I stop looking outside to see where I’m being judgmental and beating myself up for being even the slightest pigheaded, and look inside, I see that the person I’m the most critical of is myself.

Yesterday morning, going through my weekend errands of laundry, running, grocery shopping, and making a pit stop to measure my new room in my soon-to-be apartment, I caught myself breathing an air of negativity. Not only was I down on myself for a random breakout cluster that I don’t find attractive, but I was disappointed at my running time, crunching the numbers of my checking account, and realizing how unprepared I am to move and for Mr. Possibility‘s return this week. While I had accomplished many of the tasks I needed to this weekend, it somehow still didn’t feel like it was enough.  There is always more I can do, more effort I can put in, more money I could save, more people I could meet, more care I could take, and more life I could have lived.

Why am I so careful not to judge anyone else and yet so easily judge myself continuously?

Is it because I compare myself to others? To the girls with the legs and the clear skin, with the fancy job titles and the bank accounts I can’t imagine yet. The ones who wear designer clothes and have countless men waiting in line to be their soulmate. The ones who have it all, though all I know is very surface-level and based on first impressions, not conversations. Or is it because I know I’m judged by others? Because I can feel when someone is sizing me up in the subway, in jealously or because they don’t like what I wear or where I decide to stand. Or because I hear or I can read those who judge me by what I write about – who consider me less intelligent or immature because of the content of my blog. Though they forget (and maybe at times, I do too) a blog or a job do not define a person. Or those who make assumptions based on things they don’t know or things they don’t ask.

But judge me, judge me not – it doesn’t matter. The only critic I should be concerned with is the one I see staring back at me. And maybe that’s why being our own greatest fan is a lifetime task, a journey that will never end. Because while we walk past people on the street, developing conclusions we can’t support, and wondering if they are making calls about us we’d never claim, when the public is gone, the private begins.

And it is there, in those private moments, standing carelessly on one-leg, hair tossed messily on top of my head, applying mascara carefully while wearing a make-up stained towel, that I come face-to-face with the judge I am. The person who sees the flaws daily, who makes an effort to be a better person or be better looking with each service paid or mile ran. The person who notices the signs of stress and result of nights with too little sleep, wearing on my face that’s far too young to be wrinkled.

The person looking into the mirror, mirror on the wall, has to decide that it is me who is the fairest of all. Because without justice for myself, how can I be just to anyone else?

PS: Want to guest blog with Love Addict? Read how you can here.

My Eye is the Beholder

My southern upbringing, every journalism class I ever took, and each article written about what to do on a first date or when attempting to pick up a dude, have all taught me an important lesson:

Always look someone in the eyes.

Seems simple enough and typically, I’ve followed this rule of thumb throughout my love and career life, and I have always utilized its full effect from across dimly-lit parties in midtown. Somehow when striking up a conversation or luring someone into your presence is easier when you not only come across as confident and secure, but when the other person feels like they can trust you. Maintaining eye contact is a non-verbal way of saying, “Hey you, I’m listening to you. I’m understanding what you’re saying. Keep looking at my baby blues and keep talking – you can feel comfortable around me.”

I’ve never been coy or shy and at times, I could probably use a little more reservation, but keeping a friend, a man’s, or a source’s attention hasn’t been a difficult task for me. Those who know me would credit this fact to my outgoing personality, the self-assurance I carry as easily and frequently as my purse, and to my fearless, relentless spirit. But perhaps there is a secret weapon that gives me an extra burst of boldness:

Makeup.

Now, before I start sounding like an infomercial promoting any beauty brand who offers me free loot -let me say I’ve had a love affair with makeup since I was a little girl. I remember my mom sitting at her antique vanity with one of those porcelain mirrors that had a handle, powdering her face, rubbing lotion on her hands, and spraying perfume in selective places. I used to lay across her bed after I finished getting dressed for school and just admire her morning routine. She was (and still is) the most beautiful lady I had ever seen, and I wondered when I’d finally be able to have my own set of blushes, eyeshadows, and have that imprint in my lipstick that defined the curve of my lips. Before my dad and her would go out for dates, she’d always let me dab a little of her signature smell from Oscar de la Renta on my wrist along with a little shimmer on my eyes – and I’d always feel like I was really, truly, a woman. Even if I was only ten.

Little did I know at the time that my mother was wearing more than sparkles and orchid-pink lip color, but she was putting on makeup to hide what she perceived as flaws. As a young girl, makeup never meant anything more than playtime and a symbol of being a grown-up who was allowed to wear such lovely things every day. Really, it wasn’t until middle school that I realized these toys were actually needed to cover up problem areas. Or as I’ve always not-so-lovingly called them: zits.

I’ve never had incredibly bad skin, but throughout high school, college, and even now – I have breakouts that I can’t quite predict or fully prevent. It wasn’t until recently, about a year ago, that I finally gave in and tried Proactiv. I’m not one to shamelessly promote anything because I know everyone’s skin, life, opinions, and tastes are different – but for me, this has been the only formulation that’s actually been a solution. I’ve tried antibiotics, topicals, dermatologists, everything you see on beauty and health shelves, and Proactiv has been the one to give me actual results. It dries out my skin something fierce, but I’d still pick a little tenderness over a face freckled with pimples.

Even so, before I tried this product and reaped of its rewards -I spent over a dozen years dealing with problematic skin. And thus, all of the times I popped and applied pressure that made my issue worse – left me with some scars. To anyone but me, these not-so-ghostly-shaded reminders of past problems aren’t that noticeable. However, being the admittedly somewhat-vain lady I am, I’ve tried everything I can find to mask them.

Why? Because when I’m not covering what I see as imperfections and I’m out in public, especially when talking with guys, I feel like instead of looking at me in the eyes, everyone is staring directly at the things I believe makes me look…ugly.

Recently, I had the opportunity to have champagne and cupcakes with Julianne Hough, best known from Dancing with the Stars at an event for Proactiv (see, I really am a huge fan). With her puppy Lexi in tow, she shed some advice not only about clearing up skin and her road to success, but she said something that stuck with me: when you don’t have to worry about something on your face, you turn your attention towards yourself. Or, basically, focusing on inner beauty becomes more important than outer beauty.

Sure is easier said than done when we’re all our worst critics. Right?

As I left from the event a tad tipsy and overly bubbly, I thought how every man I’ve dated has always told me that I shouldn’t wear as much makeup, that I was simply beautiful without all of the gunk. Most of the time, this sentiment has pissed me off and made me feel like they were trying to boss me around -but perhaps I was just missing what they’re saying. I mean, they had all seen me totally naked- emotionally, physically, and makeup-less, so they could have a point. Plus, they are dudes and when they have a zit or two, it isn’t as popular or socially acceptable for them to buy some Maybelline. Maybe its true that we all have flaws, that we all can’t be airbrushed before we leave for the day, that leaving our insecurities at the door isn’t always possible, but if we turn our attention inwards instead of caking on the confidence outwards – we’d eventually feel better about all of the things that make us, us. Even if that happens to be a few leftover marks from bumps months ago.

With that in mind, I decided to be a little brave and shy away from my drawer full of makeup. Well…not completely, but mostly. Instead of my regular ritual, I merely applied a dab of concealer under my eyes and around some redness, a swipe of mascara and chapstick and headed outside. At first, it was difficult to hold my head up walking past strangers on my block, but being the zealous lady I am, I decided that I had every right to be proud of who I am, even if my scars felt like they were on display for Manhattan. Pushing myself further, I went to the grocery store to return a movie and buy some goodies for the week, and underneath the floursencts that seem to place a spotlight on my face – I started making eye contact.

And you know what? Handsome men still flirted with me. Middle-aged guys still basically fell over themselves to open doors or help me. A woman even complimented me on my blue eyes. The glimpse of my reflection in the frozen food isle didn’t scare me.

Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but often times, my eye is primarily the chief beholder who determines how beautiful I am. And maybe, all this time when I thought makeup was making me pretty…it was really who I am and how I acted that gave me a glow. That radiance I have that others seem to notice, must not come from a bottle or from being a model, but from just being me. Pesky pimples and all.

P.S. Confessions of a Love Addict is celebrating Valentine’s Day a little differently this year. We’ll make it more about the single ladies and less about flowers that’ll die in a day. Submit your Valentine here.

The (Wo)man in the Mirror

It’s because of my Moon in Scorpio, according to my mother. It’s because I don’t see how truly beautiful I really am, according to my father. It’s because I don’t pay attention to men who walk past me on the street, according to my friends. It’s because, maybe, I’m just not attractive, according to my self-defeating mentality.

Regardless of whom is right (if at all) – I’m admittedly a very jealous person. And I always compare myself to every single woman I see.

I don’t think it matters where you are – New York City or North Carolina – there will always be pretty girls. There are the girls who have the best fashion sense you could ever dream of and always seem to know what to wear now, and anticipate what to wear next. There are the girls who have kick-ass bodies and yet still eat greasy cheeseburgers and Snickers, and never go above a size 2. There are the girls who have beautiful, flawless skin with rosy cheeks that just naturally radiate without any makeup whatsoever. There are the girls who have sleek long hair that’s super soft and looks great even when it’s pouring. There are the girls who have perfectly sculpted and long, lean legs that look amazing in everything.

Now, I always think: I’m not any of these girls.

I think: I’m a petite, just-about 5’4” 20-something who still looks like a teen-something. I work out five days a week to maintain a curvy (and hopefully thin) figure. My skin is very far from flawless and I hate wearing makeup, but feel the need to do it anyways. I wish I could dress more New Yorkish, but I don’t have the money or the attitude (and I can’t give up my Southern roots). My hair isn’t frizzy, but it also doesn’t grow, and when it rains, I might as well bury myself under a hat (which I don’t own). And as for my legs, well – I do love my heels.

Now, I’m not complaining and I sincerely don’t think I’m unattractive – but I also know that I’m not perfect (and I also know those girls are not perfect either) I am an all-American girl who has flaws and things that make her lovely, too. I know my qualities and my pitfalls, and for the most part I accept them.

But, there is always this nagging little thought in the back of my head when I do walk by a girl I’m jealous of:

Why would a guy ever pick me when he can have her?

Now, with my new found confidence and overcoming love-addiction mission, I have shifted my thinking to be a little more rational. I do remind myself that looks aren’t everything, that while all humans are a tad superficial (c’mon, you know it), a pretty face or smokin’ body won’t keep someone interested forever. I do remind myself that I don’t even know these women and they could be a not-so-great-catch and just have been blessed with looks. I do remind myself that guys also look at me – and regardless if they do or if they don’t, I still know what I have to offer, and that’s all that should matter.

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

It is so difficult not to compare yourself to other girls. It is so hard to not turn my head down when a more attractive woman gets on the train. It is so hard to go out with friends who you know are ten times more beautiful than you are – and if I’m being honest, it’s hard to friends with super-model-look-alikes in the first place.

Does that make me petty and ridiculous? Absolutely. Does it make me human and a typical girl who judges herself? Of course.

Certainly, I should never tell myself I’m not worthy of someone’s attention or affection. They may be able to have the other girl walking by and she may turn their head longer – but I have something that no one will ever have. And that’s me.

It is only when we officially accept who we – imperfections, beauty, and all that’s in between – that we are even close to being ready to share it with someone else.

So you, whoever you are reading this, go right now, and look in the mirror (I’m not joking), and tell yourself (out loud!) that you’re beautiful.

Because you are. Without a doubt.

Bumps in the Process

For some reason, my face decided this week (and especially this weekend) was the ideal time to break out. I’ve always had a difficult time with acne and because I’m probably a tad bit too vain, I’ve also always worn makeup.

The act of putting on makeup itself is tiresome. If I was one of those lucky gals who just woke up and went, I would get a whole lot more sleep during the work week. The process is long and often, I feel like I’m a painter –but not one of the talented ones. It’s basically paint-by-the-imperfections until everything is covered up and I feel pretty enough to face the world.

Not only is acne bad for the self-confidence, but it can be extremely painful. Especially when you get the big suckers like I did this weekend. They pop up in the most annoying of places (on your cheeks, so when you smile, they get even bigger), and if you brush up against them or go to wipe your face, it just flat out hurts.

Because I’ve been trying to be more in-tune with myself and watch the language I use to communicate with myself every day, I’ve also been more acutely aware of the way I walk, the way I talk, the way I look, and the way I think I’m perceived by others. You’d think the journey to self-love would make me throw out my self-hating-habits and instantly let go, but if anything, it’s brought them to the surface (literally with these zits) and make me face what makes me the most insecure.

My friend, J (remember him, who got all those flowers?) asked me to go shopping with him on Saturday, and I reluctantly agreed. Not because I didn’t want to see J or because he’s not a great shoe-finding buddy, but because I felt so gross from having a massive break out. I ended up piling on more makeup than I usually do and I tried my best not to wear red so it wouldn’t bring attention to the redness on my face.

After I was sure he had noticed the huge cluster of zits on my cheek, I finally said, “I just love how I’ve broken out this weekend.” He looked up at me puzzled, and said, “What do you mean?” Shocked, I replied, “Don’t you see these awful zits on my face?” Simply, he said, “Nah. Hadn’t noticed. You look pretty.”

Given, J, always will compliment me –but it really opened my eyes to how harsh I can be on myself. Everyone, even those damn Victoria’s Secret models, get some problematic skin issues sometimes. By nature, human beings are far from perfect. We’re meant to make mistakes, have flaws, and work on our confidence. Having insecurities doesn’t make us weak, it just makes us normal.

Of course, because of the recovery, I thought about how hard I’ve been on myself just in the past week.

Anytime a negative thought or worry came into my mind, I instantly yelled internally “Lindsay! You’re doing the 12 Steps, remember? Stop this!” Even though I came up with a kind and soothing mantra, my instant reaction was far from forgiving.

Instead of working on why I was having that thought or fear, I automatically tried to “cover it up” by pushing it out of my mind and not giving myself time to figure out why I was being negative in the first place. If you will, I was applying makeup before I gave the zit time to heal. I was putting on mascara while my eye was still red, lipstick on my lips while they were still chapped, and blush on my cheeks when they were already flushed.

This process, this recovery, isn’t going to be a walk in the park. And I have to remember to be my own best friend –encouraging, patient, and gentle. If a thought comes to my mind, instead of letting myself get all worked up and mad for not “recovering quick enough” –I need to let the thought cycle through, tell myself its okay to have the thought, and then remind myself to “Have faith. All is unfolding as it should.”

Before I can truly believe my bad attitude can be turned around, I have to let the thoughts and emotions come as they naturally do, so I can understand why I’m having such a hard time. I can’t skip forward to peace and clarity, if I don’t have a little bit of bumps and pain.

I think it’s time to tell my Mars in Aries to just calm down a little bit. All in due time, all in due time.