Dealing With Perioral Dermatitis

Dealing With Perioral Dermatitis

I look back on my youth with reverence and sadness. I never realized how beautiful my skin was. I would get the monthly period pimple, but my skin was clear, dewy, and vibrant. Youth is wasted on the young.

All of this youthful vitality seemed to change when I hit my thirties. Suddenly, I was losing more of my hair, the hair that remained was drier and graying, and my skin was just…weird. I kept breaking out around my mouth.

As a skincare maker, you can imagine the insufferable irony I felt as I battled to hide my renegade skin. This went on for months. I tried every acne cream on Earth. I bought products from other makers. I tried masks, peels, facials, hydrogen peroxide until I woke up on my 34th birthday to a full nose-to-chin face of crocodile scales.  My skin was so inflamed, red with huge bumps that resembled hives, peeling, crusty. Seriously.

I knew it was even worse than what I was seeing when Frank (my husband) volunteered to make a dermatology appointment for me. I was a monster!

My dermatologist was able to squeeze me in and when she saw my face she literally took a step back and said “whoa.” Yeah. Not much of a confidence booster there. (She’s actually great – I love that she’s real.)

Without missing a beat she told me I had perioral dermatitisI asked her why and she shrugged and said “age? hormones?.” The most unsatisfying answer.  I asked her about treatment and she prescribed me a month’s worth of Doxycycline (antibiotics), a morning corticosteroid cream “Desonide Lotion”, and a nighttime cream “Sulfacetamide Sodium Topical Suspension USP 10% Lotion”. Both creams are prescription-only.


As for washing my face, I strictly started using Balance in the morning and Purely Free in the evening.  The goal, according to my dermatologist, was to keep my face as clear from any synthetics as possible. She approved of the soaps for my face.

I went in for my one-month follow-up and my face was relatively clear, with some minor redness left behind. She was happy to see the treatment was working, but she requested I continue another month of the antibiotics, and use the night cream both day and night (to wean my face off of the steroid cream). Well, not even a week later and I’m bumpy again, which means I have to call her to see if I can start the steroid cream back on my face.

Dealing with perioral dermatitis is not fun, and clearly, this is not something that’s just going to vanish for me. It’s changed my entire perspective on skincare. Less truly is more.

As a result of dealing with this, and learning how sensitive my skin is becoming, I plan on devoting a lot more products to sensitive skin. I will be crafting more gentle and natural fragrance options in soaps and creams.

I would love to hear from you, especially if you’ve ever suffered perioral dermatitis.

Kristen Fusaro-PizzoPresident

Moments of Appreciation: A List of Daily Moments to Celebrate

Moments of Appreciation_

It can be so easy to get lost in our woes and stresses; they are truly overwhelming. I don’t know if it’s because I was raised in New York City, or if it’s because I’m naturally cynical, but I need to make a conscious effort to be mindful of positivity and gratitude. This weekend was my positive project. I specifically promised myself to release any negativity this weekend and to stop and appreciate little moments in my life.

I hope you will use my list of moments to remind you of the joy you have in your life or to be inspired to seek out joy.

The Positive Project – A Weekend of Gratitude in Little Moments

  • Sleeping late on Saturday! I wake up at 5am during the week to get to my day job, so sleeping-in to nearly 9am on Saturday was ahhhh-mazing! I felt so refreshed and joyful as I rose.
  • Photos from the dog park. Sometimes I go with my husband and Lucy (our pitbull), but Frank wanted to let me sleep on Saturday. Instead, I woke up to find texted photos of my goofy pup having the time-of-her-life at the dog park.
  • A clean house! I decided that my mental well-being was worth whatever money it would cost me to hire a housekeeper, and I did. She cleaned the whole house on Friday night and to wake up to a fresh, clean home just gave me such a sense of relief.
  • My whole attitude this weekend was lighter because I knew Monday was self-directed teacher day – no students and we get to spend the day working on our own curriculum/grading. What a relief knowing I don’t have to be “on.”
  • In the spirit of a clean house, I decided to tackle the laundry and the messy front hall. I went to the Container Store and bought a sliding-drawer stand for the front hall so people can put their shoes in drawers instead of piled on a shoe rack. There’s a drawer for mail, for Lucy’s walking supplies, and it just organized our entire hall.
  • I spent a lot of money eating out the previous two weeks, and both my wallet and bones were feeling it (always too much sodium in take-out). Frank and I spent Saturday cooking together. We made a big pot of fresh chicken-orzo soup, we made cauliflower-crusted pizza, and I baked chocolate chip cookies.
  • Perfectly green-yellow bananas! I order my groceries from Peapod and I almost never have a problem, but this time, the bananas they brought me were so green, they could compete with Kermit. I was annoyed because I knew even if I let them sit for a few days, what usually happens is they go from that green to black, but, they actually ripened perfectly. I love when the bananas aren’t mushy and still a tiny bit green, and it just made cereal so much better.
  • Grace and Frankie returned to Netflix! I love this show and binge-watched the whole season while cooking and cleaning this weekend.
  • A whole lot of nothing. I did not make soap, I did not grade papers, I did not do anything related to any of my jobs. I just enjoyed cuddling my husband and dog the whole weekend.
  • My Amazon packages came a day early! It’s not that I needed the products I bought that quickly (mostly stuff for Lucy), but I hate being stuck with the cardboard boxes for an extra week because our recycling day is Monday morning. Score for the clean-house!
  • I spent some time playing a computer game that I love. Wizard101 – It was made for kids, but lots of adults play it, also. It’s just fun to escape my own brain for a while.

It was a truly pleasant weekend filled with little moments that I appreciate. It’s just nice sometimes to not have to be obligated anywhere or to do anything. I firmly believe the more we let go of obligation, the more joy we can bring into our own lives.

The Moment My Heart Broke: The Power of Literature


The Moment My Heart Broke The Power of LiteratureWhen I read something I love, I read with a pen, with a fervor, with an impatience. I prefer paperback books so I can crease the binding. When I love a book, it looks battered and abused. In my lifetime, I have gone through four copies of Macbeth that have, quite literally, fallen apart on me. This year it was time for a replacement – the last one was about 9 years ago. I tried to save it with packing tape, glue, rubber-bands, but it was beyond repair. I love my books to their death.

One of the saddest moments of my life was moving from my parents’ house to my first apartment. My Dad had built shelves for every inch of my room so I was always surrounded by the books I read, blanketed by their hopes and dreams. When I had to move, there was no room for the books and my parents wanted to convert the room. I tried to sell them, give them away, donate them, but to no avail. I remember I placed an ad on Craiglist saying “free books” and I just left them out on a table on my front lawn. It was August. A whole day passed and it began to rain. I stood out there in the rain with my books as their words dripped from their pages, disappearing to only live in my mind. Homeless, lost; I was abandoning the pages that comforted me for my entire life.

I slumped into the grass and just cried. All around me, I watched the end of the wild things, of Desdemona, of Portia; I said goodbye to Heathcliff, Red Horse, and Sebastian. It was the dawn of a new era and the death of another.

Moving into that apartment without my books, I have never truly recovered. People have bought me books since then, but I quickly try to get rid of them or bring them with me to school because I will not make another home library again. I have this deep fear that I will have to abandon my books again someday and I just don’t think I could live through that kind of loss again.

As an English teacher by day, this is one of the hardest questions I receive. I usually throw my hands up and say that I don’t know, but this time, I am not allowing myself any excuses. What I simply cannot do is choose one of these books over the other because I love each of them for different reasons. What I guarantee is that each of these books has somehow cut me to the core, whether it was breaking my heart, relating to me at the time I needed it to, making me aware, or inciting other inspiration.

Here is “the list,” in no particular order:

  • Macbeth by William Shakespeare
  • Hamlet by William Shakespeare
  • The Tempest by William Shakespeare
  • The Giver by Lois Lowry
  • 1984 by George Orwell
  • The Road by Cormac McCarthy
  • Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
  • Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy
  • The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy
  • Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
  • Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
  • The entire Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
  • Grendel by John Gardner
  • As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
  • From Good to Great by James C. Collins

Kristen Fusaro-PizzoPresident


I’m Just So Tired! Ways to Bring Energy into Your Life

I'm Just So Tired! Ways to Bring Energy into Your Life

It’s just about 3:00pm, you stare at the clock, an hour passes by for it to turn to 3:01pm. You’re exhausted. All you can think about is heading straight for your couch, your cozy socks, and a warm cup of tea. The mid-afternoon slump.

Or your alarm starts blazing. It’s 5:00am – time to get up and shower, walk the dog, or go for a run. You hit snooze – nine more minutes will do the trick. Ten seconds later and your alarm is ringing again. The morning slump.

It’s Friday at 9:30pm and your friends want to go out for a drink. You contemplate the idea of getting dressed – for the second time today – and actually leaving your house. You send a text – “I’m not feeling well.” This white lie saves you again. The evening slump.

If any of the above sounds like you, you’re pretty much in the same boat as 2.77 million Americans.

Infographic: Americans Are Tired Most Of The Week | Statista You will find more statistics at Statista

What is making us so tired?

Most Americans report not having the opportunity to sleep at least 7 hours, which is the new recommended rate for most adults according to the National Sleep Foundation. While we all know that getting enough sleep is a priority, sometimes we still need an extra boost to get us into quality sleep.

Get Some Quality Rest

  1. Try reading 30 minutes before bedtime. The process of your eyes scanning a page creates mental exhaustion, which may be exactly what you need to get you to sleep.
  2. Lavender essential oil, of course! Pure lavender essential oil has linalyl acetate, which is a naturally occurring phytochemical found in different plant species. Linalyl acetate is the essence of the oil which scientifically calms the nervous system to produce relaxing feelings. This is exactly why we named our Lavender and Chamomile blend “Rest Easy” and one of the main reasons we’re obsessed with lavender oil.
  3. Wash your sheets and blankets and take a bath before bedtime. The calming sensation of warm water (and even better if there’s lavender in your bath) helps to relax muscles and release tensions. The clean sheets and blankets mentally calm you because cleanliness gives us a sensation of being organized, which our brain needs to calm down (who can relax with chaos around them?).

If you’re already starting to incorporate quality rest into your life, there are some other techniques to give you some energy throughout your day.

Give Me a Quick Pick-Me-Up

  1. Reduce the number of refined carbohydrates and sugars in your diet. Unless you’re about to do a serious workout, carbs, when digested, become glucose, glucose spikes the production of insulin, and while it creates a temporary feeling of energy, that quickly becomes a crash as your body tries to regulate its blood sugar levels. Reducing your carb and sugar intake helps to level your blood sugar, which creates a steady stream of energy throughout the day. Some excellent low-carb snacks – cheese sticks, nuts, coconut milk, avocados.
  2. Bright, cheery essential oils can help you feel energized as well. Rosemary, peppermint, orange, lemongrass, lemon, eucalyptus, and grapefruit are great for a burst of energizing air. You can diffuse these oils, use products with these oils, but never put the oils directly on your body. You must blend the oils with a carrier oil before putting it on your body! A safe ratio is 1 drop of essential oil per 10 drops of carrier oil. Excellent carrier oils include jojoba, coconut (liquid – also known as MCT ), sweet almond, sunflower, and more. *Important note – Citrus essential oils are phototoxic, meaning they can cause burning in the sun. If you plan on being exposed to sunlight, do not use a citrus oil blend on your skin.
  3. Increase your circulation with some moves! If you’re feeling a slump, try to do a couple of jumping jacks, walk up stairs, or anything that gets your heart pumping. When your heart pumps extra blood and increases circulation, you bring oxygen to your brain, giving you some quick energy.
  4. Get cold! Just like warmth makes us cozy and sleepy, brisk and chilly wakes us up. Open a window, go outside, decrease the temperature in the room if you want everyone awake. (My students always state how chilly my classroom is, but this is exactly why I keep the room comfortably chilly, to keep everyone’s attention.)
  5. As always, get hydrated. Our brain function slows down when even if we’re slightly dehydrated. We should be drinking half our body weight in ounces of water every day, but if that’s too much, grab yourself a cold bottle of water to help wake you up. Add a spritz of lemon or lime for the essence of citrus (see #2) plus the hydration!

What are some tips you have for grabbing energy?

Kristen Fusaro-PizzoPresident