Shaky Knees Music Festival 2019: Festival Lookbook, Beauty, Photos, Drinks & More

Beauty, Lifestyle, Travel

It’s official, my musical festival cherry has been popped. For years I’ve lived vicariously as friends have gone to music festivals all over the country, with Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, and Coachella being the most popular. I’ve been to so many concerts but never a festival. I’ve thought about it over and over but something always stopped me. Either I didn’t know the bands, didn’t have other people to go with or didn’t have the money. But after being invited to Shaky Knees Music Festival, I finally decided it was the right time and the right festival for me.

Shaky Knees is an annual three-day festival held in Central Park in Atlanta. It features over 60 bands that range from world-renowned to up and coming artists. It’s the perfect festival for those who are interested in rock, punk, or alternative bands. It’s not the kind of festival where you hear the loudest and dirtiest rap and hip hop music. You won’t find Cardi B singing about her designer bag and bloody shoes at Shaky Knees.

The 2019 Shaky Knees Lineup included Beck, Tame Impala, Cage the Elephant, Incubus, Tears for Fears, Gary Clark Jr., Interpol, Tash Sultana, Maggie Rogers, Group Love, and many more. Make sure to stay until the very end to hear who’s performances stood out and made my top 5 list!

With it being my very first music festival, I wanted it to be right. I wanted to have fun with it, because we all know that festivals are now about SO much more than just the music. It’s about fashion, beauty, the experience, and the pictures! In this post, you’ll be able to find my outfit details for each day, get my favorite (somewhat healthy) festival drink recipe, learn how I created my glowy, photo-ready makeup, and more! This was Shaky Knees 2019!

Festival Lookbook

So we all know that music festivals have become more fashion shows than anything else. Ever since Instagram has allowed people to document their outfits and good times at festivals, what you wear to the festival is an even bigger deal than who you see there. I wanted to put together a little lookbook for my three Shaky Knees outfits to give you some inspiration and ideas for your next festival. I also included where I got each item and links if you want to recreate it yourself.

Outfit 1

My first look I wanted to do something cute, comfy, and colorful to start off the weekend. I decided to go with a flowy, off the shoulder rainbow top with white biker shorts and a few accessories. The nice thing about Shaky Knees is that it’s not one of those festivals where people go over the top with their outfits. So something cute and summery is perfect.

Flowy off the shoulder top and white biker shorts with lace from both from Forever 21. The black fringe bag is from Amazon, as well as the face star stickers. My bright, beaded necklace I bought on a trip to Savanna from a local artist. The turquoise sun pendant was a gift from my grandma. And lastly, the beaded bracelets are from a little shop on Central Avenue in St. Petersburg called Gopali Imports where the owner travels to Nepal to buy all of his jewelry and clothes.

If you’d like the re-create the look yourself, check out these links:

Bracelets from Gopali Imports.

Outfit 2

My second look I decided to do something bolder – I wanted an all white and black look. I wanted to be comfy, but I always wanted the look to be more dramatic.

I decided to make this outfit pop by wearing a black and white tie dye crop top from Gray Space in St. Petersburg, yoga pants with a super cute slit down the side of the leg from Forever 21, and very chunky jewelry. My wrap-around sun bracelet, earrings, and silver bib necklace are all from Etsy. All of the rings I wore I collected from different cities I’ve been to, rock shops in Florida, and from gifts from family. I then added a bunch of black temporary tattoos I bought from Amazon. I decided that I wanted to go with all black tattoos because they stand out to me more than the shiny flash tattoos that have become super popular. It makes a statement and not every single person is using them.

The temporary tattoos were the BIG hit throughout the weekend. Everywhere I went people gave me compliments on them and asked if they were real. I had a bunch of people tell me that I should get real tattoos that looked just like them. I also loved how they popped in all the photos that I took throughout the festival. AND they were great quality! I was expecting temporary tattoos to wear off right away but surprisingly they were SUPER strong. Next time I’ll be prepared and have some exfoliating gloves with me and rubbing alcohol when I want to remove the tattoos. Parts of the tattoos stayed on for days after the festival, so you can bet that they’re going to hold up through sunscreen and sweat at your next festival.

If you’d like the re-create the look yourself, check out these links:

Outfit 3

My third and final outfit for Shaky Knees was very laid back and summery. I wanted to wear something a little bit more exciting and interesting, but by the end of a festival weekend in the hot Atlanta sun with next to NO sleep, I was wanting to keep the last outfit pretty simple and comfortable. So I apologized to my VERY large suitcase filled with accessories and about a dozen tops I brought along to Atlanta and put together this outfit instead.

I wore my white shorts from American Eagle, a bright red, twisted crop top from Fashion Nova, and a tropical button-up crop top from Ash Couture in St. Petersburg. I wore a mixture of the same jewelry I had worn with other outfits and to finish off the look, and my trusted Converse (which still need a very good, deep clean after that weekend).

If you’d like the re-create the look yourself, check out these links:

Boho Festival Beauty

If you want to be music-festival ready, you obviously don’t want to neglect your skin and makeup!

Throughout my weekend at the Shaky Knees Music Festival I knew I was going to be taking a lot of pictures. There would be tons of Instagram stories and posts to come! In getting ready for the festival I wanted my skin to look bright, healthy and glowing AND I wanted my makeup to stand out and look pretty in photos without caking my face. I was never into that overly made up and contoured look that you see all over YouTube. Here’s how I got glowing skin and put together my makeup if you’d like to try it yourself!

Skincare

I started off each day using my Mad Hippie Vitamin C Serum, which is Mad Hippie’s most popular product. The serum leaves your skin with that beautiful glow that we all want but is so freaking hard to obtain! To make sure my skin looked bright and refreshed that weekend, I even used the Vitamin C serum at night too. It gives you that glow while evening out skin texture and treating dark spots. I finished both my nighttime and daytime routine with my other Mad Hippie products as usual. If you want my full Mad Hippie product review and routine, you can find it in my blog post, “Mad Hippie Skincare Product Review + Instagram Giveaway.

Right after applying my serum and moisturizer in the mornings, I then applied a little bit of my favorite Facial SPF by Mad Hippie. This sunscreen is a natural 30+ SPF with zinc oxide. I absolutely love this sunscreen because it’s the only facial sunscreen I’ve ever used that completely protects me from sunburn. Which is saying a lot because I burn like you can’t even imagine. My skin is either snow white or beet red, thanks to my Irish blood – so when I put my stamp of approval on a sunscreen, I mean business. The other reason why I love this sunscreen (way more than it’s normal for a person to love a sunscreen), is because it doesn’t clog my pores! This SPF was the first thing to get packed before I left for Shaky Knees.

Makeup

For Shaky Knees and our countless pictures, I wanted my skin to look beautiful and healthy, BUT I also wanted to make a bit of statement.

In planning my makeup look for the weekend, I ended up finding a makeup company called Glossier that I’ve really fallen in love with. The products are designed to enhance natural beauty without making you look like a completely different person. It’s meant for those of us who want to look good, without having to do buy products that are meant to create that thick, caked on the makeup look you’d see on beauty YouTubers. However, these products also offered the ability to build them up and make a statement if you wanted to.

The products I used to make this look include:

Glossier Perfecting Skin Tint in G12. This shade is perfect if you have super light skin like me with pink undertones. It’s not a foundation that gives you great coverage, but it brightens up your skin and makes it glow. Even my boyfriend noticed how bright my skin looked after I used this foundation (and we all know that boys don’t notice much). After putting the foundation on, I followed it up with my Bare Minerals Powder Foundation that I normally use for better coverage. It didn’t cover up the glow from Glossier, it just corrected any dark spots, blemishes, and imperfections that were still there after applying the Skin Tint.

Glossier Cloud Paint in Beam. This is the most perfect blush I’ve found to date. It’s very hard to impress me when it comes to makeup and skincare, but these first two products are fantastic. Cloud Paint in Beam created the perfect, natural, rosy flush to my cheeks. It looked so beautiful AND because it’s a liquid blush it looks natural. Plus, all you need is a tiny dot because the product is highly pigmented. If there’s one product I will keep returning to it’s this brand and it’s 100% this blush. I’ve been using it every single day since the festival.

Glossier Generation G in Zip. This is how I got that lovely pink flush on my lips throughout the weekend. Glossier Generation G lipstick is meant to go on light at first but then build with each swipe. I put three layers on to make my lips stand out and look beautiful in photos.

Glossier Haloscope in Moonstone. The Haloscope is the most subtle highlighter I’ve ever come across. It’s perfect if you’re like me and you love glowing beautiful skin but you don’t want your makeup to be too obvious. I love glowing skin but I don’t want my highlighter to be the first thing people see – I prefer to be a little bit more subtle than that. This highlighter gave me a beautiful glow with very minimal product or effort. This is another product that I’ve been using daily since the festival. All I have to do is swipe it on the tips of my fingers and dab it on my cheekbones to add some shine and a soft glow in the morning.

Glossier Lidstar in Cub. I’m a HUGE fan of pink and rose gold eyeshadows. I love how feminine rose gold is and how the pink compliments my skin tone. I chose to use the Lidstar product for Shaky Knees over my regular eyeshadow because I loved how much the color popped for photos. When you’re going to be spending an entire weekend taking photos with friends, you don’t want to go for the same makeup routine you do every day. This product has a beautiful shimmer to it and is super quick and easy to apply with your finger tips.

Brows: For my eyebrows, I filled them in as I normally do with my Anastasia DipBrow Pomade in Taupe. I then follow my brow makeup up with Maybelline Brow Drama Sculpting Brow Gel in Deep Brown which keeps my eyebrows in place and in the right direction so they don’t end up sticking out and looking all crazy. But this time instead of using my go-to Maybelline product I used my new Boy Brow from Glossier in the color Brown. It adds a little bit more color just like the Maybelline does and keeps your brow hairs in place.

Lashes: I got my eyelash extensions done right before Shaky Knees by a business in downtown St. Pete called “Lash Addict.” This set is the natural set in a classic shape. These lashes are created to make your eyes pop in photos while still looking more natural. I’m so glad I got them done before the festival because it saved me from having my mascara melt and smudge away in the hot Atlanta sun or have to keep checking for mascara flakes!

Nails: My nails I got done at my go-to place in St. Pete called “LeAnn’s Nails.” For events or shoots when I’m going to be taking a lot of photos I always love wearing white nail polish because of how simple and beautiful it is, but it still pops in all the photos. But because I was in the festival spirit, I decided to go for a metallic, gel nail polish that was white, but flashed little rainbows in the sun. I’m not sure what exact color it is because it didn’t come in a bottle, but if you ask your nail tech for their gel colors, they will most likely have some of those metallic options. I absolutely LOVED this color for the festival and have debating getting it again since I got back. The color is gorgeous and compliments every outfit.

My Shaky Knees Cocktails AKA Chambucha

So now that you’re looking all glowing and beautiful, lets get to the really fun stuff – the drinks. Wanna let loose and have a good time … but you know, get your daily dose of probiotics? 😂 Matt and I used to go to a gourmet grilled cheese restaurant in St. Augustine called Sarbez that sold buy-one-get-one free “Chambucha” – kombucha mixed with Champagne. For Shaky Knees, we decided to recreate them ourselves. We bought a bunch of bottles of champagne and my absolute FAVORITE Kombucha by KeVita.

All we did was mix them half and half – and voila! That’s how you get healthy and have a good time right there. Try it! (If you’re over 21.. Ugh don’t you hate it how we live in a world where we have to give disclaimers like that so we don’t get sued?)

Just to make the festival experience even more exciting, we decided to buy a little party favor most known as a “Chambong” – it’s a bong for champagne. Or what the makers of our champagne bongs call the “rapid champagne consumption device.” We also got this idea from some of the bars in St. Augustine and St. Petersburg that keep these champagne bongs around for bachelorette parties.

We bought some plastic versions online so we wouldn’t be upset if they got damaged in our suitcase, and surprisingly they were super easy to use. I was expecting a big mess and for the champagne to spill out the bottom of the flute, but it doesn’t! Matt and I started out our weekend with a “rapid” champagne toast! If you’re ever going to a festival with a group of people or having a party, you can find them on Amazon here, and I guarantee they’ll be a big hit. Plus people LOVE taking pictures and videos of them.

But remember: Drink Water. This festival was pretty tame and I didn’t see much drama or anyone’s partying getting out of hand, BUT I did see a girl who passed out because of heat exhaustion. Too much alcohol, plus the sun, dancing, heat, and not enough water is a recipe for disaster. I’m all about relaxing and having a good time on vacation, but remember to take care of yourself. Before we would leave the AirBnb for the festival each day, I actually would take several WATER bongs out of the champagne flutes. Am I weird? Maybe. But I think it was really smart. I made it a point to drink water before the heat, the sun, and the drinks got to me.

Instant Photos

Aside from sunscreen and water, the next most important thing that I had to bring with me to Shaky Knees was my FujiFilm Instax Mini 8 Instant Camera! Of course, if you know me, you know I’m obsessed with my FujiFilm camera. As much as I love how easy and convenient it’s become to take photos on our phone and share them instantly, there’s something that’s so special about taking a picture and having a hard copy. It’s a souvenir that you can actually take home with you and hang up to remember the fun you had. Matt and I got our FujiFilm right when we started dating and since then we’ve created a photo wall from all the instant photos of our travels, favorite memories, and our friends.

I also love my FujiFilm because I love the lighting and the effects of the photos. We’re so used to seeing beautiful, photoshopped and filtered photos, that it’s nice to have some photos that have some character and imperfections. Here are some of my favorite instant photos from the weekend.

If you’d like to get your own, there’s tons of FujiFilm cameras on Amazon here!

My Top Five Artists

Of course, I couldn’t talk about my time at the festival without talking about the music. I didn’t know many bands going into it, but after walking around and hearing dozens of bands perform, I not only discovered bands for the first time, but also found some new favorites. Here are my top five favorite artists and bands from Shaky Knees 2019!

Out of the musicians that I saw, Tash Sultana’s looping was the BEST part of the entire festival. I’m a sucker for looping artists who can play a dozen different instruments and make up an entire song from nothing but their own two hands without a band to back them up. Every time I hear a looping artist I completely forget the world around me and lose all sense of time. There’s nothing more interesting to me than watching someone create an entire song on stage without any help. I would rather watch one looping artist than an entire band!

Out of all the bands I watched, Cage the Elephant was by far the best. I’ve never seen a performance that was so strange and so over the top. Leader singer Matt Shultz was impossible to pull your eyes off of. The only way I could think to describe his dancing was creepy. It was filled with dance moods that reminded you of a contortionist with strange faces that gave me flashbacks to watching American Horror Story. I LOVED it. Cage the Elephant got moved up from 9 pm to 8:30 because it was supposed to start raining, and RAIN it did. Even though Matt and I were completely soaked standing in the middle of a crowd outside, we didn’t want to move. The performance was so fascinating we didn’t mind the cold, the crowds, or the rain. Seeing Cage the Elephant and Tash Sultana alone were worth the tickets.

My other favorite bands included Electric Guest, Bad Books, and Grouplove. Electric Guest is an L.A. based indie pop and indie rock group whose music performance was so much fun to watch. It was a performance that just made me happy to just there. Have you ever watched a band and noticed how much fun they were having that you just couldn’t help but smile and feel good to be surrounded by their presence? That’s what it was like watching Electric Guest. The dance moves from lead singer, Asa Taccone, with his bright orange jumpsuit and quirky dancing was by far my favorite part of watching them perform.

My next favorite band that would also fall into the indie rock genre was Bad Books. Their music stood out to me right away and was something that I could see myself putting on in the car when I feel like relaxing and daydreaming or as some background music while having some drinks with friends. It was my kind of feel good and unwinding music. The best songs of theirs in my opinion was “Baby Shoes” and “Forest Whitaker.”

Last, the fifth performance that stood out in my mind and became one of the most memorable from the weekend was Grouplove. Grouplove is an alternative rock band also based out of L.A. who I will never forget solely because of their giant Grouplove blow up banner above the stage that was shaped like the inside of someone’s mouth. Each one of the letters was painted over a blow-up tooth that was attached to gums. Gross. Sorry I didn’t get a picture to go with that image I put in your head! The music was slightly too “emo” for me (remember when emo was a thing?) but the performance is what pulled me in the most. The most memorable song and most popular of theirs is “Tongue Tied,” which was a throwback to high school for sure.

The Shaky Knees Experience

If you’re considering going to a music festival and you haven’t been to one before, Shaky Knees is probably a good place to start. It was busy and crowded, but it was set up perfectly for as many people as there were. There were multiple restroom stations, drink stations next to each one of the concerts that sold beer and mixed drinks, and it was very easy to navigate. I’m glad I started out going to this festival instead of one that’s in the middle of nowhere. Not only was it pretty clean but the people at this festival were also very laid back – no CRAZY partiers. Most music festivals bring out the most bizarre sides of people, but at Shaky Knees, it was pretty tame.

The festival was mostly filled with people relaxing, drinking…and smoking weed. At first, I was very taken aback seeing hundreds of people walking around Central Park smoking openly, but I later learned through one of our Uber drivers that it’s now legal to smoke outside in Atlanta. Apparently, there used to be thousands of people sitting in jail sells having their lives ruined from the possession of marijuana that the government decided it was ridiculous to be spending so much time and energy arresting people for weed. So if you’re into a festival that’s pretty laid back where you can smoke, but isn’t filled with people experimenting with drugs, this is probably the festival for you.

Side note: I feel like I should probably mention here that I don’t smoke, just in case anyone thinks I might be trying to push a stoner agenda here, lol. I just support other people who choose to and think it’s refreshing that we’re making a step in the right direction toward decriminalizing marijuana.

I really hope that you guys liked this post about Shaky Knees from my outfits, to makeup, to drinks, photos, and more. I really enjoyed the environment at the festival AND the music. I loved getting ready for the day, taking instant photos together, hearing indie brands that were brand new to me, and relaxing in the sun.

Before you go…

If you do end up going to a festival this year I will say, remember that it’s not JUST about the makeup and clothes. Because of the festival and dressing up culture, influencers, the pressure for women to look perfect, and our obsession with social media, it can be so easy to get lost in the outfits and “content” and forgetting to relax and enjoy the festival. I met someone at Grassroots in St. Pete right before I left for Shaky Knees and told him that I was excited about the festival but worried that I would be so wrapped up in taking photos for my blog and posting online that I wouldn’t be able to enjoy it or I would annoy people. He gave me some really good advice which was to take 15 minutes each day to work on all of my content with attention and focus, so I get it done and out of the way, and then for the rest of my time put the phone down and just relax and enjoy the moment. I thought that was really wonderful advice. Instead of trying to have a good time while creating content at the same time, I would work on my photos or notes for a little bit in the morning and then for the rest of the day I was off my phone. We spend SO much time on our phones now. Don’t waste what should be your fun and relaxing festival weekend staring at your screen and getting “Lost Online.”

Thanks for coming to Lost Online! Remember to scroll down to the bottom of the page, hit that “+” and enter your email where it says “follow blog via email” to have all future blog posts sent right to you!

As always, let me know what you thought of this blog post in the comments! Have you been to a music festival before? Which one? What were your thoughts on the festival? Do you have any festivals coming up? Did this post inspire any makeup or outfit ideas for your next festival?

Main Photo by Taylor Varvil @taylorvarvil.

My Microblading and Permanent Makeup Experience: What They Don’t Tell You About Getting Your Face Tattooed

Beauty

Why I Got My Face Tattooed

I was 13 or 14 years old when I first learned of permanent makeup, tattooing your face to make it appear like you have eyeliner on and eyebrows filled in all the time. That very moment when I learned of it, I knew that I would get it done “someday.” Here’s why…

Self-confidence: For as long as I could remember I was self-conscious about the way I looked without makeup on. For several years as a teenager, I would even re-apply it at night time and wear it to bed. I would make sure to put it on first thing on a Saturday morning so even my own mother wouldn’t see me without makeup. I was completely ashamed of how I looked and was completely sucked into the world of beauty magazines and learning all the secrets to looking like my favorite celebrities. Poor, little 14-year-old Heather had no idea that celebrities not only have millions of dollars, but also have plastic surgery, lip injections, personal trainers, hair extensions, fake nails, spray tans, and beauty treatments to look like that!

I remember being extremely uncomfortable and unhappy whenever I would wake up from a sleepover and my friends would see me without a drop of foundation or mascara on. If I went to the beach I would feel uncomfortable and try to avoid eye contact with people. If I woke up on a family vacation I would have to put a full face on or I felt like my family would secretly judge how I looked.

I had a very unhealthy body image as a teenage girl and a very, very long and painful journey toward self-love and self-acceptance that I’m still working on to this day. But that’s what initially drew me to permanent makeup. From the moment I first learned of it in my early teens, I knew that I had to get it. I wouldn’t feel comfortable in my own body until I had it. I knew that it would bring me some peace of mind and help me relax about how I looked without having to wear a full face of makeup each day.

A+ Brows: Right smack dab in the middle of high school, that’s suddenly when the brows became a big freaking deal. My Twitter account was blowing up with girls posting close-up photos of their brows and selfies with brows that would make you wonder, “How the f*ck did she do that?” The brows became sexier than boobs! All the so-called “popular” girls had the most gorgeous brows and would be complimented left and right about how their brows were “on fleek.” (Remember when that was a thing?)

Sadly, I didn’t have much to work with. My brows just didn’t have a nice shape to them. I’ve also never been someone that was into the makeup arts, I was way more into skincare. So I never learned how to get those brows that everyone wouldn’t shut up about.

Convenience: The last reason why I really wanted permanent makeup is for the convenience and ease of getting ready. I knew that I would save me so much time in the morning because I had to shape and fill in my eyebrows and then spend time fixing them and trying to get them to match and look identical. Some days they would look good and others not so much, but either way, they took a whole lot of time. I wanted to finally get ready and use those 10 minutes on my brows doing something else, like oh I don’t know, SLEEPING! I wanted to cut that part of my morning down significantly because I put makeup on because I have to, not because I love doing it.

Preparing for Permanent Makeup

I really wanted permanent makeup right from the second I heard about it, and I spent a decade looking at pictures of it in my free time, talking to women who had it done, reading FAQ’s about it, scoping out artists, looking at portfolios, and deciding what I wanted. I didn’t know when I was going to get it done, but I knew that I wanted to be prepared for the day I was old enough and finally had the money.

The day finally came in October 2017 when I made the decision to get permanent makeup and microblading. I then got it touched up in January 2018, so I’ve had it now for just over a year. Because it’s been a year, I’ve been asked about my experience with permanent makeup from women who are also interested in getting it done. I always answer their questions with honesty and try to be as helpful as I can, but I also don’t want to scare them away from getting it done. Because if I’m being completely honest here, getting your face tattooed is no walk in the park, and there are some things I really wish I would have known when I walked into that studio to get inked. Before you consider going in and getting your face done up, especially if you’re getting two makeup treatments done at once, it’s much more like getting outpatient surgery than is it spending a day in the spa.

Here’s my entire permanent makeup experience from start to finish. I share the dirty details that you won’t read in any other blog from the cost, the actual tattooing, the healing and more. I’ve never heard a completely open and honest account from anyone else who has had permanent makeup, and I really believe this a procedure women should be more transparent about with each other.

The Cost

I actually saved money several different times to get permanent makeup while I was in college. After doing my research into the prices from different artists, I knew that I would have to pay about $1,000 or more to have permanent eyeliner and microblading done from someone who was very good at it. Microblading and eyeliner are both usually several hundred dollars, but many professionals charge up to $500 or more for each procedure. However, because of the boom in permanent makeup popularity and the number of people getting certified to do it (also the ease of getting certified today… be careful who you let tattoo you), I’ve seen the price slowly coming down from $1,000-$1,500 for both eyeliner and microblading when I was in high school, to now, just a few hundred dollars.

Eventually, when I finally had the money, the time, and was mentally prepared to get inked, I found the artists of Professionals in Permanent Makeup through Groupon. I had looked at other places, but I knew that I trusted the Professionals in Permanent Makeup more than anyone else I had come across, even though I found it through a Groupon deal. They had tons of five-star reviews, a very hefty portfolio of flawless microblading and eyeliner, and they were just 30 minutes from my house!

Also, because I was 1) getting Groupon pricing 2) getting two permanent makeup procedures done and 3) paying the entire amount up front, the cost was significantly cheaper than I thought it would be! So oftentimes, when girls ask me how much it costs to get it done, I have a difficult time answering that question because I searched for a great deal. At the end of the day I had to pay about $500 to get microblading and eyeliner done, and then about $200 for the touchups. I remember being so happy that I didn’t end up paying $1500 by the end of it! Again, the price is lowering because it’s more popular, but I believe you get what you pay for. I wouldn’t trust someone to tattoo my face for $250. To me, higher prices mean they have more experience.

The Consultation

What I remember most of all during the consultation was how worried I was that they wouldn’t understand the look that I was going for. I’ve gone into hair salons before and came out with a completely different color than I asked for. What if that happened with permanent makeup? I was so nervous that somehow they wouldn’t understand that I wanted definition and shape to my brows, but that I also wanted to look natural. I didn’t want to walk out with crazy eyebrows that didn’t match my face. What made it extra nerve wracking for me was that I noticed that Stella, the woman who was actually going to be tattooing me, not only couldn’t speak English but was bouncing around the room the whole time setting up for her appointment that day. Kathy, from the Professionals in Permanent Make-up, was the one who sat with me the whole time and would translate some parts or ask Stella some questions. Then Stella would occasionally come over and look at my face. Kathy told me about the process and the healing and asked me lots of questions about how I preferred to wear my makeup.

I also remember the consultation being quick and efficient. I wasn’t there for more than 20 minutes or so. And I remember that they were very interested in how I wear my makeup every day and I was told to wear my makeup to the consultation so they could see what my everyday look is like.

The Pre-Permanent Makeup Mental Breakdowns

Leading up to the appointment, I was a hot mess. I wanted my makeup done my whole life, but as soon as the appointment was booked I started panicking and thinking of every possible thing that could go wrong. My mind went something like this for the days leading up to the appointment, “What if they accidentally tattoo big black lines on my face? What if the eyebrows are crooked? What if they mess up the shape? What if it’s obvious I got them done? What if I’m making a big mistake? What if I chose the wrong person? Should I have done more research?”

For that reason, I also went to the Facebook page for the Professional in Permanent Makeup and looked through their before and after photos about 15-20 times a day. I would always look at their page and be reminded of how beautiful their work is and calm down, then I would start to panic again, and frantically open up the page.

I was such a nervous wreck that I couldn’t eat and was in a constant state of stress from anticipation. My boyfriend, Matt, can tell you that I was completely panicking and was not at all pleasant to be around then. He had to constantly reassure me that everything was going to be ok.

My Experience & What They Don’t Tell You About Permanent Makeup

When the day finally arrived for my appointment, I ended up getting my car towed right before I was about to leave and wasn’t able to make my appointment. I called and had to reschedule and out of Stella and Kathy’s generosity I didn’t have to pay a fee for not making the appointment which they are normally very strict about. Then I had to go through the anticipation all over again! Eventually, the day arrived, I didn’t get my car towed, and it was time to finally get my face tattooed after over 10 years of wanting it done. And let me just say it was the longest five hours of my life!!

My appointment started with Kathy and Stella taking many measurements of my face, drawing on my face to create my shape, and constantly stepping away to make sure the outlines were symmetrical. I remember being so lost because they were doing so many things to prep my face and prepare for the microblading. Stella also did threading on my brows to shape them and get rid of the little hairs that were hanging around. I had watched videos of women getting microblading done before, but I never actually saw the process of creating the shape ahead of time.

Stella and Kathy also kept handing me a mirror to look at the shape and see if it was what I wanted. I remembering being so overwhelmed because there were so many lines and markings on my face that I couldn’t even visualize what the final product was going to look like. I kept thinking, “There’s too much going on! The brows are too big! I’m gonna look like I have Nike Swooshes on my face!” I’m not at all good visualizing a final project, so this part was so very difficult for me. I finally had to give them the ok, and trust their judgment.

Then, the actual tattooing started. This is the stuff, no one tells you ahead of time: IT HURTS. Stella was numbing me as she was tattooing me, but for the first 20-30 minutes, I was in pain. I felt every little cut on my face as I laid there questioning every decision I had made in my life. I often get asked by other women whether it’s painful. I always tell them the truth. Someone is making little cuts all over your brows, so yes it hurts. There’s nothing pleasant about it. The only good thing is that after a while you start to not feel it and the pain goes away. You slowly get used to the sensation and the numbing starts to kick in.

Unfortunately, I was so nervous about getting it done and laying on that table for 5 hours getting my face tattooed, that the entire time I had adrenaline pumping through my body. I was on high alert. My heart felt like it was going to pop out of my chest, I felt sick, I was worried, and I was hyper-aware of everything that was happening around me. I often hear girls, who went through the microblading or eyeliner procedure, say that it wasn’t that bad and they fell asleep. For me, I was in a state of stress from the moment the tattooing began. I’m a worrier so all I could think about was every possible thing that could go wrong. The thing that I was most worried about during the microblading was her hand slipping causing a giant scar or line of ink across my face forever.

After the pain of being cut finally subsided, it was still incredibly uncomfortable. What had never occurred to me was that there would be a woman pressing and drawing on my face for 5 hours straight! Throughout the whole process, I could not get used to how heavy and uncomfortable it was to feel her hand and arm pushing against my face and resting her weight there. On top of that, she had to wipe my face and eyes many, many, many times. By the time I left my face was so swollen and red that I didn’t even look like myself.

I also remember more than anything that throughout the process of tattooing, I had to sneeze and blow my nose constantly. I had this intense tickle in my nose that didn’t go away for those 5 hours, and it got a million times worse once it was time to do the eyeliner. I had to keep stopping to ask for tissue and blow my nose, and I could tell Stella was getting annoyed by it.

I eventually decided to keep the tissue box in my hand the whole time and had to hold the tissue against my nose during some parts of the tattooing to keep the tickle at bay. The constant tickle sensation and the feeling of having to sneeze was something I didn’t expect at all. I had never heard of other women having that reaction and it made the fears so much worse because I kept thinking, “What if I sneeze, causing her hand to slip and I end up with a scar or a line of ink across my forehead?”

I had made it through the microblading ok, but once I had gotten to the eyeliner, that’s when my nerves shot even farther through the roof. I don’t think I’ve ever been so worried before in my life. It began with Stella giving me three numbing shots in each eye, which was the worst part of the entire experience. I could feel the pain and pinching sensation of the needle followed by the liquid from the shot popping all over my eyeball. The numbing shots were so excruciating. I had never had pain that strongly in my eye before. It’s such a delicate area filled with so many nerve endings, I don’t know why I had never heard of women saying they were in pain from getting it done.

The actual eyeliner tattoo was far worse than microblading. I could see the outline of the needle through eyelids since there was a fluorescent light above my face. I would feel my eyelid and eyeball vibrating, and I could feel the little punching of the tattoo gun. In some parts, Stella was trying to get close to my lash line and my eye would actually open slightly. I tried so hard to hold my eyes still and closed the entire time but Stella needed my eyelids to lay flat for the tattooing. So there were moments when my eyelid would creep open.

That moment of my eyelid opening and seeing the needle through the light over my face is an image I will have permanently ingrained in my mind. I’ve never been so terrified before. My biggest fear for those few hours was that all it would take is one slip of her hand and I would be blind forever.

Also, keep in mind that throughout my entire experience, my makeup artist and I couldn’t talk to each other. I would always have to talk to Kathy who would relay something to Stella. I think what made it all so much scarier was not only getting a face tattoo, but getting a face tattoo while having a language barrier! Five hours of getting my face tattooed by someone and we never even said a word to each other. I think that also made it feel so much longer because she couldn’t check in with me and tell me little updates about how it was coming. I was in the dark the entire time wondering when the hell it was going to be over.

Immediately After Getting Inked

Immediately after the appointment, I was ROUGH. My face was swollen, my skin was red, and my eyebrows and eyeliner looked like someone had drawn over them with a sharpie. You know how when you get a fresh tattoo, the ink is really dark and prominent? Ok, imagine that on your face. It was a scary sight to see. I also was incredibly sensitive to light and felt like I wanted to lock myself in a dark room and never come out.

Walking out into the light of day was surreal. It had felt like I had just been punched in the face repeatedly. My eyes couldn’t really focus on anything and all they wanted to do was rest. My body was still so on edge and filled with adrenaline that I was shaking. I felt like the way I would imagine feeling after getting tased, only that sensation lasted for a whole day.

The worst part about afterward though, was that I had to run several errands in Jax and then drive myself an hour and a half to Matt’s house in downtown St. Augustine, DURING rush hour. I can barely survive Jacksonville rush hour traffic even when I’m feeling like myself, let alone after getting my face tattooed. If you ever decide to get it done, especially eyeliner, for the love of life have someone else drive you! Kathy and Stella told me that many women would drive down to see them from Atlanta and then drive themselves back home after getting it done, and I have no idea how that would be possible. My eyes were so swollen, tired, unable to focus, and sensitive to light that I almost got into car accidents the entire drive home. Driving yourself home after permanent makeup is about as smart as driving yourself home after taking seven shots of tequila.

The Healing Process

Here’s another fun fact about my permanent makeup experience… I never told my family that I was getting it done and I had to keep it a secret even though I still lived with them at the time. Long story short, there’s a woman in my family who has permanent makeup that everyone hates. She married in the family for money, and her life revolves around getting plastic surgery, doing her makeup, shopping for designer bags, and gossiping about anyone who is below her socio-economic class. So now, my family associates permanent makeup with her, and they’re 100% against it.

So when I was going to get it, I knew that if they found out, it would cause screaming matches and probably lead to them taking away my car or something to make a point about their disapproval. I had to stay at Matt’s house for almost an entire week hiding away and making up reasons as to why I wasn’t coming home.

I hung around his house with a super puffy face, keeping my head elevated, and drinking shocking amounts of water trying to get my face to go back to normal. Any time I would eat something with even a little bit of salt in it, my face would puff up again like blowfish and I was back to square one. During this time Matt also had to keep talking me off the ledge every time I looked in the mirror. Kathy has tried to tell me about how it would look after, but I didn’t know my eyebrows and eyeliner would be that cartoonish.

Just like when you get a regular tattoo, the ink continues to fall out in the following days. Your skin doesn’t hold all of it, so it looked like my eyebrows were nothing but large, dark brown Nike Swooshes on my face until the ink slowly started to come away. I also wasn’t able to get them wet or wash my face for a week or two.

Throughout the healing, the ink continued to fall out as scabs formed on my face. I remember how itchy my eyebrows were more than anything, but I wasn’t able to scratch them or it could have messed it up and peeled off the ink. As they were healing, the skin on my brows flaked off much like dandruff and I kept my eyebrow brush around to lightly remove the dead skin cells.

The healing was far more unpleasant for the eyeliner than it was for the microblading. When the eyeliner was healing it had a big scab all over the area that was tattooed. It stuck far out from my eyelid and was a nasty gray color from all the ink. It also had to fall off on its own even though all I wanted to do was rip it off and not have it on my face. That was the worst of the healing process because it took close to two weeks to fall off. What actually happened was that half the scab was still attached to my face and half of it was stuck in my eyelashes. I couldn’t even remove that part because it would pull at the rest of the scab. So there I was for a full 10 days with half of the scab stuck in the center of my lashes and the other half attached. Then when the scab fell off, the majority of my eyelashes fell out with it. From the first day I had gotten it done until I was completely healed, I wore sunglasses 24/7.

The only thing that I had to do as far as cleaning and maintenance was using this little product made out of a mixture of ingredients including beeswax and vitamin E to clean and moisturize it. I absolutely hated that part because the product was so hard and sticky that it actually hurt to put it on. It didn’t feel like I was being moisturized and helping it to heal at all. I would have much rather used Aquaphor, but I don’t think they would have wanted me to because it would have been wetter.

The Touchup

Once I finally healed and the scabs were completely gone, I was pretty happy with the makeup so far, but it wasn’t completely perfect yet. The coloring looked great, but the eyebrows had some flaws and didn’t completely match. That’s why they always want you to come in for a touch up after several weeks. My eyebrows had some minor things that had to be corrected where the skin didn’t hold ink in some areas, and one of the eyebrows was slightly thinner than the other. I also ended up getting a white head on one spot as I was healing so no ink stayed there causing a small spot that didn’t hold any ink. I counted down the days until my touch up and still kept panicking about how it would look in the end (because that’s just what I do).

When the day came for me to get the touch up, it wasn’t nearly as bad as getting it done the first time. It didn’t take as long getting the makeup done because it was pretty close to perfect. It also wasn’t as traumatic and nerve-racking the second time around and the healing was much more pleasant. It still was not necessarily enjoyable but at least I knew what to expect and I wasn’t in there for more than 5 hours. The worst of it was finally over. For that reason, I’ll probably regularly go back for touch ups so that whenever I do get it done, it’s quick and painless.

The Takeaway

Moving forward, Kathy recommends getting a touch up every 2-3 years, but if you like your makeup looking super fresh and close to perfect, they recommend every year and a half. I’ll be going back for my microblading touch up in the next 2-3 months, but I don’t know if I’ll ever do the eyeliner touched up. I like having it done and I like how defined my eyes are without make-up on but I don’t know if the pain and procedure is worth it to me.

I’m sharing my full experience with all this detail with you today not to scare you, create clickbait, or convince you to not get permanent makeup done. I’m sharing this with you today because I heard so many women talk about it as if it wasn’t a big deal and getting it done wasn’t uncomfortable at all. The women that I read reviews from and talked to about it made permanent makeup sound like it was as simple and painless as getting a pedicure. It makes me so mad that I never heard about all of this before I went in and got inked.

My theory is that many women don’t want to share what they went through in order to look prettier without makeup. I think women have a fear of being judged about what we put ourselves through for our vanity. We live in this weird culture where women are expected to look like a Kardashian but are then judged for trying too hard and getting invasive procedures done all for the sake of looking younger, prettier, and more feminine. Yet there’s so much pressure to look good, can you blame women for trying?

So today, I wanted to share with you what they don’t tell you about getting your face tattooed – all those uncomfortable little details of the process that make you lay on a spa table for 5 hours with a needle in your face questioning every life decision you’ve made. But hell, it makes for an entertaining story and I always get a ton of laughs from it when I tell people all about it.

Believe me, I’m happy I got permanent makeup. I’m SO happy I got it. I love the way that it looks and I get compliments about my makeup all the time and about how well done it is. It not only makes my routine easier but it has made me so much more confident. I just didn’t like getting it done, and now I make sure that every woman who tells me about how they want microblading or eyeliner done knows what they’re getting into ahead of time.

Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

Remember to keep an eye out for my upcoming blog post with all of your Frequently Asked Questions about permanent make-up. I answer one question at a time from readers and followers who are curious about the procedure.

As always, let me know what you think in the comments! Do you have permanent makeup? Do you want to get it done? Why did you decide to get it? If you did get it done, what was your experience like? Was it easier for you or about the same? And I’m curious, what exactly did you get done? Did you drive yourself home afterward?! Did you have any crazy tickling sensation like me?

If you like what you read here, remember to go down to the bottom of the page, click that “+” symbol, and type in your email where it says “follow blog via email.” You’ll have all future blog posts sent right to you! Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

Photos Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.

Battling Imposter Syndrome While Chasing a Dream & How to Overcome It

Self-Help

Imposter Syndrome: referring to high-achieving individuals marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a “fraud.”

Let’s talk about the issue of imposter syndrome. I realized I’ve been going through it personally for a year or two, without even knowing that I was or what it was called. All I knew was that I would think back to the accomplishments I achieved, like creating a smoke-free policy on my college campus or landing a job and think… well, I just got lucky, or I had help. I couldn’t have landed that job if it wasn’t for so-and-so looking at my resume. I wouldn’t have created that no-smoking policy if it wasn’t for other people. Why should I take credit? I couldn’t admit to myself that I had done something to be proud of. Until I came across a post on LinkedIn.

A girl around my age was accepted into the Harvard Business School, something she had dreamed about for years. In her happy post, she opened up about how she was dealing with imposter syndrome and worried that she didn’t belong there like everyone else. That’s when it hit me–I was experiencing the exact same feeling!

The accomplishments that I did have I couldn’t take credit for, and when I pursued a dream or a project I would have an overwhelming fear of people discovering that I was a fraud. That I, in fact, had no idea what I’m talking about. That I was not nearly as smart or creative as I led people to believe.

I’ve been following all of the wellness bloggers, influencers, and content creators for years and stared at their work in awe. They were not much older than me, and they directly impacted the lives of young women all over the country. It was my dream to be like them, but I continue to think to myself, “Who do I think I am? I’m me. Heather. I don’t have 100k followers. I don’t have a book deal. I don’t have a podcast. Why would anyone want to learn from me and my wellness journey when they could learn from someone else?”

This is my passion. This is what I envisioned myself doing for years before I started Lost Online. Yet I keep having fears that others think I’m not cut out for it. Since learning more about imposter syndrome, I realized that I don’t just do it with my creative endeavors and my passions, like my blog. I do it with work too.

Throughout college and after graduation my plan was to be in communications within the health and wellness industry. Very recently I landed a position as a Wellness Ambassador. In this position, I’ll be writing blog posts, creating social media posts, coordinating events, interviewing people, developing promotions, and speaking on podcasts. It’s a position that I’m more than qualified for. I’ve done so many of these duties before and I was clearly excited about this job. It had even felt like I landed a job that had been perfectly designed for me, but the day after I was offered the position … imposter syndrome seeped in. Those thoughts started to gnaw at me. “What if my new boss thinks I’m terrible? A phony? A fake?”

So, what is Imposter Syndrome? How does it manifest?

Imposter Syndrome is a widespread phenomenon that occurs when you believe that you are not as competent as others believe you to be. Seems simple enough and easy to understand, right? Well, it turns out it gets even more complicated than that. After reading other articles and blog posts, I realized that many people have imposter syndrome and don’t even know it, or have imposter syndrome that manifests in different ways. There are actually five different types. If you struggle with imposter syndrome, let me know what type you are in the comments and what you do to manage it when you feel those feelings manifest! WARNING: this list might lead to a deeper understanding of yourself and a life-changing epiphany about your own mindset and behaviors.

1. The Perfectionist

The perfectionist is someone who loves to set very high goals for themselves, but then experiences major self-doubt when they failed to measure up to their own standards. If you look up perfectionist in the dictionary, it will most likely list me as an example. Perfectionists like us are often called “control freaks” by friends and loved ones, are accused of micromanaging, have a difficult time delegating, have insanely high standards for ourselves (standards that other people would never expect from us), feel like we have to be perfect 100 percent of the time, compare ourselves to others, have difficulty celebrating accomplishments, and often take on so much that they burn out. Perfectionists create a reality for ourselves that’s filled with so much pressure for no good reason.

I believe that we perfectionists also lean toward a fixed mindset because having a growth mindset is something that requires people to be OK with making mistakes and learning from them. I know that I tend to not want to do or try anything that I know I wouldn’t be perfect at because it shows how inadequate I am.

2. The Superman/Superwoman

The superman types can be very similar to the perfectionists. The supermen push themselves to work harder and harder to measure up to others. They are often called “workaholics” by friends and loved ones; they are the last one to leave the office; they get stressed out and feel unproductive when they have downtime; their work and their career is their hobby; they could have multiple jobs and be in multiple groups or clubs; they feel like they haven’t earned their titles making them work even harder to earn it; and they could find it difficult to receive constructive criticism.

Supermen and superwomen put themselves at high risk for burnout and their work can often affect their own mental health, physical health and relationships. I believe that these types of people often have a very hard time saying “no,” even if they are having serious problems from overworking themselves. It can be hard for them to stop and relax even when their body is telling them to slow down.

3. The Natural Genius

The natural genius believes that their competence is based on how smart other people perceive them to be and how quickly and easily they can come up with information and facts, as opposed to the efforts they put in. The natural geniuses set their own bar very high and feel deep shame and self-doubt if they don’t know, understand, or get something right on the first try. If they can’t do something quickly and effortlessly, it upsets them. They often have a track record of a 4.0 GPA, A+ assignments, and honor rolls. Their friends and loved ones call them “the smart one,” they swear off the things they think they’re bad at, they’re in all AP classes, they may not like having a mentor because it reflects their own incompetence, and they have a very fixed mindset.

I don’t know about you but I know some natural genius types that say something confidentially and pass it off as a fact, even if it’s just a hunch or a guess. Sometimes the types will even defend their best guess when they’re wrong because they are scared for people to know that they, in fact, don’t know everything. In my opinion, I believe that the natural geniuses question their own identity if they’re not viewed as a genius or a smart one. Receiving a bad grade or constructive criticism can be soul-shattering. I remember that my natural genius friends back when I was in a private middle school would cry over an A- on a test.

4. The Soloist

The soloist is the type that cannot for the life of them ask for help, even if they need it. They feel that asking for help from others shows people their inadequacies and exposes them. Asking for help is a sign of failure to them. They have a problem delegating. They’re often the person in the kitchen who does all the cooking and won’t ask for assistance. If they’re a leader or a manager, they will do most or all of the work and they’re often referred to by friends and loved ones as being “independent” or a “lone wolf.”

5. The Expert

Experts base their competence off of what and how much they know. Just think of Reed from “Criminal Minds.” They’re the friend with all the random facts and statistics that you have no idea where they came from. They constantly seek out training and certificates so they know more. They’re always trying to build their resume. They often have an advanced degree and they don’t apply for a job unless they perfectly meet all the requirements. Experts feel as if they never know “enough” and they actually don’t like being referred to as an expert because they don’t feel as if they can live up to the title. They may still feel as if they don’t know enough even in jobs they’ve worked for years.

Did you learn something about yourself?

I don’t know about you, but after reading this list, I realized that I don’t fall right into the perfectionist category like I thought I did. I’m actually a bit of a mixture, and I think many people are too. Imposter syndrome can manifest in so many ways. Maybe you’re a perfectionist and a superman? We as humans are messy and don’t just fall into one particular label.

It may surprise you to know that you have imposter syndrome in the first place, or that it’s such a common issue that people struggle with. Many people may struggle with imposter syndrome but not even notice that they have difficulty internalizing their accomplishments. It does require a level of self-awareness that not everyone has.

When I researched online, I saw so many statistics about how many people have imposter syndrome. I feel that most people have it, regardless of what the numbers in online articles say. I would be willing to bet that most people deal with imposter syndrome and struggle with it in private. No one’s fragile ego is protected. Even celebrities.

Why do we feel this way?

I have a theory. Imposter syndrome is so widespread largely because of the internet. Everyone looks perfect through Instagram filters. Social media has distorted our understanding of ourselves and of the world around us because other people seem to be rich, famous, successful and stupid happy all the time. We watch highlight reels while we’re having a bad day, sitting on the couch wearing no makeup and destroying a bag of chips. The results are that we think there’s something wrong with us and everyone else is flawless and has their sh*t together.

In the article, 21 Proven Ways to Overcome Imposter Syndrome,” by Kyle Eschenroeder, he says, “This problem is only getting worse as more of us rely on our online presences. We’re in this weird culture where you’ve got to sell yourself aggressively while remaining ‘authentic.’ You think you need to be perfect but you also need to feel free to fail. You need to be yourself and more! It’s all set up to make you feel like a fraud.” I couldn’t agree more.

Today it’s also expected that we look “professional” and “hirable” all the time and that we’re always moving up career and corporate ladders. The pressure to have a “good job” and bring home $100,000+ this year is enormous. We’re always trying to keep up with the Joneses by constantly moving up socio-economic brackets. We tend to feel inferior to other students, co-workers, neighbors and peers, forcing us to try to reach higher.

Unfortunately, as soon as we do reach an accomplishment, nothing really changed. We don’t feel like we’re complete, we don’t feel as if we’ve made it and we worked hard, and we don’t feel proud. Instead, we immediately focus on the next goal. (Side note: I know I’m like this with milestones in my blog. As soon as I accomplish something or make progress, my mind instantly goes to the next project or post that I have to do to make it better.) Our restless minds want to jump to what’s next, instead of slowing down.

Last, there’s social expectations and family expectations. This is the kind of pressure that we get about how we should be living our lives, the hobbies we should have, the food we should eat, the house we should buy, the way we should behave, the things we should say, the things we shouldn’t say, the opinions we should and shouldn’t have. There’s all this pressure to meet expectations from the groups around us. It can be too much. We’re so busy trying to fit an image that others want us to be that when we do reach accomplishments, we’re so wrapped up in the outside world it’s hard to calm down and just feel proud. Probably because we do things for the external validation (from society, family, and friends) hoping that it will bring us internal validation in the end, while being able to view everyone else’s success 24/7 on our smartphones … but it doesn’t work that way.

A message to my fellow dreamers out there

The ironic thing about imposter syndrome is that it limits your potential. You would think that it makes you work so much harder so you’ll able to accomplish more and reach your goals, right? No.

Constantly telling yourself in your mind that you’re a fraud, you’re not capable, you’re stupid, and you’re not worthy of your dream will prevent you from ever reaching it. You’re literally sabotaging yourself every moment of every day. The time that you wasted thinking about how you’re not worthy would be much better spent lifting yourself up, working hard and being your own damn cheerleader.

I’m a big believer in the Law of Attraction. If you’re constantly telling yourself that you don’t deserve success and you’re a phony, then you’re making that your reality. I also want to add that you’ll likely have bad days. It happens. Honor them when they come, and let yourself work through it. But don’t let that become your everyday life. Silence that negative voice in your head or it’s going to be an extra weight that you have to carry up the mountain of being successful.

It gets worse before it gets better (everyone’s a critic)

So this is probably not a surprise to anyone, but the moment you decide to really go for what you want in life people will try to stop you. People will question you, people will judge you, people will tell you “you’ve changed,” and people will be confused. You’re becoming a person that is so different than the quiet friend or family member that went along with what they thought they were supposed to do.

They’re probably going to lose their minds because people do NOT like change. They’re going to be thinking, “What the f*ck is going on? This person in front of me is different than the person I know. They’re no best-selling author, they’re no Emmy winner, they’re my cousin, sister, daughter, brother, niece, friend…”

You’ll take concerned, nosy questions from family members like bullets. You’ll be unfollowed by friends and acquaintances on social media. People don’t want that whole “new me” stuff clogging up their feed!

Why? Because everyone’s a critic. Everyone has an opinion and everyone is an expert about what’s best for you.

But … look at the bright side

Any person who was ever successful in their life went through the same thing. Everyone, at some point, was a nobody following a dream while people stared at them thinking, “Who the f*ck do you think you are?” Ask any successful musician or news anchor or influencer or celebrity. There was a time before they were hot sh*t when no one else believed in their dreams.

I just watched “Bohemian Rhapsody” a little while ago, so I’ll use Queen as my next example. (Such a good movie by the way.) There was a time when a few guys in college had a dream of being musicians but had nothing of their own and no real support. There was a time when Farrokh Bulsara wasn’t Freddie Mercury. He was viewed as a weird, strange, big-toothed kid whose own family didn’t believe in him but was trying to turn himself into a somebody. Imagine if they weren’t crazy enough to believe that they could be stars. Imagine if they let imposter syndrome and outside opinions run the show. The world would have never been blessed with “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Somebody to Love,” “We Will Rock You” or “Another One Bites the Dust.”

The point is, the world is going to throw critics and opinions and negativity at you. Don’t do it to yourself too. Regardless of what you thought up until now, regardless of what your ex said to you, or what your family thinks, or what your grouchy 65-year-old professor thinks, you have f*cking potential. You’re capable, you’re worthy, and you’re going to do great things. Let that be the thought you tell yourself when imposter syndrome breaks in and starts making a home in your head.

What can you do?

So now that I’ve explained to you what imposter syndrome is, what types there are, and shared my own perspective, I want to give you some concrete pieces of advice. Here are my 11 steps for battling imposter syndrome while you’re chasing your dream. And you can start this right now!

1. Know this: No amount of external validation will make it go away

Imposter Syndrome is an internal issue. It doesn’t matter how many followers you get, how many messages you get, how many people ask for your autograph, how much money you make, or how many people say they’re proud of you or tell you, “good job.” So don’t go looking for anyone or anything else to feed your ego. You might feel good for those 3 seconds, but it doesn’t last and it actually makes the problem worse. Having people constantly tell you that you’re great will only add to the fear of being exposed as a fraud.

2. Remember that everyone has it

Imposter syndrome is just another one of those things that’s part of the human experience. We’re all human and we’re all going to have fears, doubts, depression, sadness and insecurity. It’s not like you’re on a planet by yourself dealing with imposter syndrome while everyone else in the universe is living fabulous and free of fear. You’re not alone in this. The reality is that we all live in our own reality. We all have our own experience and our life experience is so small compared to everything else that exists in the world. It’s easy to be so focused on ourselves and forget that there are billions of other people struggling through these emotions too. Sometimes just reminding myself that this problem is not unique to me is enough to make me feel better.

3. Focus on what you can do for others

Every successful content creator and business person will tell you that you have to focus on what you can do for your target audience and I think that’s great advice – not just for making money but for real-life challenges too. If you find yourself worried about yourself and what other people will think of you, shift that attention on to your audience, whoever that may be. Instead of worrying about what people will think of your blog, worry about what you can do to continue to inspire and help your audience. Instead of worrying about your clients suddenly waking up and discovering you suck, focus on what you can do to improve for your clients and make them happier. Shift the attention away from yourself and make it about how you can HELP. It takes the pressure off, I promise.

4. Keep a folder of the nice things people send you

I learned this piece of advice from influencer, podcaster, blogger, and photographer, Jenna Kutcher. She keeps an album on her phone of screenshots of all the heartfelt messages her fans send her. Not every single one of them, but the messages or emails that speak to her and showed her that she’s accomplishing what she intended, she’s helping people, and she’s making an impact. Whenever she gets a hateful comment or has a really bad day, she goes back and looks at the lovely things that people have taken their time and energy to write for her and it makes her feel so much better. So I started doing that! Every time I get a very flattering message or text from someone I save it to my album and look through it if I’m ever feeling really down and wondering if what I’m doing is really worth it.

It’s not weird or creepy or self-absorbed. It’s a reminder that you are capable and so many people love you, support you, and look up to you. I just read through some of my saved messages the other day and it immediately put a smile on my face.

5. Remind yourself that there are 8 billion people in the world

So this is a really weird thing that I’ve been doing for the past few months whenever I find myself feeling like I have no place here. When I find myself thinking, “Why would anyone care about me when there’s millions of other bloggers, writers, influencers, and wellness warriors out there?” When I find myself thinking that there can’t possibly be a tribe out there for me, and there can’t possibly be people who would want to buy MY books or read MY blogs, I tell myself, “There are 8 billion people in the world.” That thought instantly shuts off any doubt and worry I have.

Anytime I think I’ll never be able to get readers, I tell myself that there are 8 billion people out there. That thought instantly reminds me of all the possibility and potential for success. Obviously, my target audience exists and there are people who would connect and relate with me more than they would with other writers. There are so many people! They just haven’t found me yet. But they’re out there. There are 8 billion people out there, some of them are bound to like me and want to support me. Some of them are bound to want to subscribe to the blog. Some of them would love to buy my future books. Some of them would absolutely love what I’m doing and be fierce readers until the end. There’s 8 billion potential readers, followers, and supporters. I’ll be just fine. My tribe is out there waiting. It’s silly to imagine that it’s not.

6. Remember you don’t get a repeat life

All of us get only one lifetime. At the end of yours, do you want to be the person who didn’t do everything they wanted to do when you were younger? Will you look back and see that you were too concerned about pleasing others and just did what others expected? Will you regret that you didn’t give yourself permission to do what you really wanted to do? Time is the universe’s most precious commodity. Spend it wisely and make it count.

7. Try stream of consciousness journaling

Just for one day, take some time and sit down and do stream of consciousness journaling. Don’t just write about anything, write especially about your accomplishments and how you made them happen. Write in great detail about everything you did until you have reached your outcome. Write about what you’re most proud of yourself for and why. Write about all of your mistakes and write about how they helped you grow. Writing unfiltered and in great detail about your accomplishments and why you’re proud could help you see the distortion and discrepancy between the amazing things you did and the thoughts contaminated by imposter syndrome. As long as you make an effort to be positive instead of using it as another opportunity to sh*t talk yourself, you’ll be fine. It might feel odd at first forcing yourself to write unfiltered about how accomplished and proud of yourself you are, but once you do you realize that’s the truth. Not that negative feedback loophole that plays in your head.

8. Talk to supportive people

There’s nothing that helps more than talking to someone supportive. Someone who can relate to what you’re going through. We all have that person we reach out to when we need help and real advice, not clique answers like “you’ll be fine,” or “just relax.” Call that person! Friends can sometimes see us more clearly than we see ourselves. You might be thinking you’re a fraud, but they will be there to remind you of everything they admire about you and what you’re doing right. Don’t feel nervous and uncomfortable about it! People are flattered when you confide in them and you will feel so much better.

9. Take a moment to just feel proud

Whenever you think of it, or whenever you start feeling really down about yourself, take a moment to yourself to just feel proud of yourself. I know this seems too simple, but it works. Whenever I start feeling that imposter syndrome is taking over, I make myself sit down, close my eyes, calm down and think of everything that I’m proud of. Let me tell you it feels so awkward and forced in the beginning, but that feeling goes away. Within a few minutes, all that negativity will dissipate, and you’ll be reminded of how wonderful you are and of the good that other people see in you. No matter how awkward it is in the beginning, push through it and really give the exercise a chance.

10. Do NOT hold yourself back

Whatever you do, never let imposter syndrome keep you from going for what you want. You’ll feel so happy that you really went for the life you wanted. Once you do take the leap, you actually start to see yourself becoming the person you wanted to be. When I first started blogging, I felt like a huge imposter, and I felt like no one would ever be interested in what I had to say, but now over a year later, it doesn’t even faze me. I pushed through the initial awkward period and eventually saw myself becoming that person I wanted to be. It will happen to you too. This tough moment could just be a phase and nervousness about starting a new endeavor, so don’t let it prevent you from getting to the good part!

11. Consider a social detox

Now that we live in a time where we see how great everyone else’s life is 24/7, you’re not going to want to expose yourself to that if you’re going through a period of self-doubt and uncertainty. Sometimes it’s best to just put the phone down or else you could just fuel the fire. If you want to learn more about talking a social media detox, read my blog post, “How to Have an Instagram Detox.” I take a little detox whenever I find self-comparison is taking over and I need some clarity.

Thanks for reading!

I really hope that my experience helps you and I hope you learned something about imposter syndrome that you didn’t know before. Maybe, like me, you didn’t even know that you had it or how you expressed it. I hope that my dropping vulnerability bombs, as usual, helps everyone to understand this issue is super common. You don’t have to suffer with it in silence.

As always, let me know what you think in the comments! Was this post helpful? Have you struggled with imposter syndrome or are you struggling with it now? How does it manifest for you? What type do you have? And what advice would you give to others who struggle with it too?

If you like what you read here, remember to go down to the bottom of the page, click that “+” symbol, and type in your email where it says “follow blog via email.” You’ll have all future blog posts sent right to you! Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

Photos by Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.

My First HydraFacial Experience: The Benefits, Facial Process, Spa Review, and Before & After Pictures

Beauty

This is not Facetune, this is the HydraFacial!

Let’s talk about something beauty related today! I feel like mixing it up. Beauty has always been one of my passions, and for years I actually wanted to go to beauty school and be in the beauty industry doing makeup and skincare! It was a dream of mine since I was a kid. I used to bring the girls over from the neighborhood and school and have “spa days” and do their skin, hair, nails, and makeup. It was so much fun.

So today, I’m bringing out that love again to tell you about a new facial that I had done, the HydraFacial. I want to take you through the before and after experience with my skin, the benefits of getting a HydraFacial, the process of the facial, and how my skin is doing now. After getting it done, I now understand why my esthetician loves them so much and why she thought it would be perfect for me. I recommend it to anyone whose skin really needs a detox and refresh.

I’m also going to be doing a spa review at the end for anyone who’s interested in learning about where I got mine done. And if you’re interested in watching the entire process of my HydraFacial in pictures and videos, you can find me on Instagram @heather.ione and click on my highlight called “Beauty.”

What is a HydraFacial?

A HydraFacial is a medical-grade, facial resurfacing treatment that creates a dramatic shift in the health of your skin in one visit without having to go through a chemical peel or microdermabrasion. It also promotes long-term skin health benefits, although you’ll want to do it  semi-regularly to keep your skin healthy and youthful, not just once in a blue moon.

The HydraFacial uses an advanced piece of 4-in-1 Vortex technology that’s able to perform deep pore cleansing, hydra peel exfoliation, vortex extraction, and vortex fusion. So you get all the benefits of a standard facial while removing all impurities, evening out skin texture, brightening the skin, and replenishing the skin with a magical mixture of hyaluronic acid, antioxidants, and peptides. Each step is performed with this tube that kind of looks like a wand. The head is changed out and the machine is switched to the next setting before each one of the steps. So it’s slightly different getting this facial than it is a traditional facial where the esthetician uses her hands most of the time.

Step One: The HydraFacial begins with cleansing and exfoliating the skin and removing all dead skin cells to allow the skin to appear brighter and reflect more light.

Step Two: The light peel is applied. The esthetician uses a non-irritating mixture of salicylic acid and gluconic acid to help loosen deep pore debris and prepare the skin for extraction.

Step Three: A painless vortex extraction sucks out all of the dirt and impurities in the skin. It’s basically a vacuum for blackheads.

Step Four: The last step uses vortex fusion to push hyaluronic acid and potent peptides and antioxidants into the skin for plump, healthy, and hydrated-looking skin.

The HydraFacial is a treatment that everyone with any skin type can benefit from. It helps with fine lines and wrinkles, skin elasticity and firming, skin tone, skin texture, skin vibrancy, dark spots, oily skin, enlarged pores, and advanced signs of aging.

Why a HydraFacial was right for me

What led me to book my first HydraFacial appointment was a very unexpected and bizarre series of breakouts. One day I woke up and had breakouts all over my face including on my chin, all over my cheeks, around my mouth where the laugh lines are, and on my forehead. I think it was because I had been sick with strange health issues for months and my whole body was out of whack, including my skin. Also, since I made the move to Florida my skin has completely changed in every way. I get way more clogged pores and scarring than I ever did in my life, but it never looks this bad.

I decided to go back to Jill Stonier in St. Augustine, Florida because I knew I would be back in town and I trusted her with my skin. I needed something to help my skin and I knew it probably had to be more involved than just a standard facial. However, trying out new beauty treatments or facials, especially with an esthetician I haven’t gone to before makes me slightly nervous. There are so many places to go that I usually feel overwhelmed and get worried about choosing the wrong person. My main concern is that I have permanent makeup and I have a fear that someone would use a product that messes up my face and undoes those epic eyebrows I paid good f*cking money for. So I called Jill and sent her several photos of the craziness my skin was going through.

After seeing my skin and noticing that almost every single pore was clogged and my skin texture was bumpy, she recommended that I do the HydraFacial. I was hesitant at first because I knew nothing about it, but I decided to give it a try. By the time I saw her for my appointment, my skin has cleared up significantly, but I still had clogged pores that created an uneven texture in my skin and a forest of blackheads on my nose. It was still crying for help.

When I finally showed up for my appointment, my skin was dull, clogged, and dry. It was unhappy in almost every way. Jill promised me that my skin would be beautiful and glowing when I was done and that the HydraFacial is something that celebrities do before events.

My Full HydraFacial Experience

The facial started with Jill cleansing my skin without the machine and then cleansing and exfoliating my skin with the machine afterward. She gently moved the wand around my face to all the different areas and went over them a few times. I remember thinking that this part of it felt like I was being licked by a cat. It felt slightly scratchy, but not at all painful or uncomfortable. This part got rid of the layer of dead skin that’s been hanging around since I ditched all my fragrance ridden scrubs and cleansers. This step also used a mixture of ingredients that smooths and softens the skin, which I really needed.

In the second step of the HydraFacial, Jill used the machine to apply the light peel all over my face. She moved the wand to different spots of my face and would kind of dab it around and then use her fingertips to spread the product around smoothly. This part didn’t feel like anything, just felt like serum being applied to my face. I didn’t react to it at all or feel any stinging or burning sensations that you would usually feel after getting a peel done. It also didn’t make me red which Jill was expecting since I’m obviously super pale. So luckily when I do get a peel done in the future, it shouldn’t be a big issue.

Photo 1 taken before HydraFacial, photo 2 taken after cleansing & exfoliation, photo 3 taken after extraction, photo 4 taken after hydra-infusion.

The next step was extraction. In this part, Jill used the wand (I don’t even know if it’s called that, but let’s just go with it) to gently extract all of the junk that had found a home in my pores. I felt like a suction sensation all over my skin and Jill went over all of the areas multiple times to make sure everything was coming out. After looking in the mirror after this step, all of my blackheads were gone. It was literally like a mini vacuum for blackheads. If only I could find something like that to use at home!

The last step with the HydraFacial machine was the fusion part of it. In this step, she moved the wand all over my face as it infused my skin with hyaluronic acid, antioxidants, and peptides. If you watched my Instagram story as it came out, I described the sensation as feeling like a bunch of fairies were spraying water into my skin with itty bitty fire hoses. I know that doesn’t make sense at all, but I love that description! It was not at all painful, but I could almost feel as if little bubbles were being sprayed and swirled into my pores. During this part of the facial, Jill also went over my lips with the wand several times to make them look extra plump and soft.

Hyaluronic Acid: In case you’re just hearing about hyaluronic acid for the first time, hyaluronic acid is one of the best things to use on your skin to keep it healthy, soft, and youthful. Our body actually produces it naturally and its purpose is to retain water and keep our tissue moist and lubricated. It’s found mostly in our skin, connective tissues, and eyes. As we get older our skin slowly loses hyaluronic acid so using it topically is a very common anti-aging practice. I love buying 100% hyaluronic acid and serums that have it listed as one of the main ingredients. What’s different about the HydraFacial is the machine actually preps the skin, clears out the pores, and then gently pushes hyaluronic acid into the skin so it’s more effective than just rubbing it onto the top layer of the skin.

Introducing Patchology Products

After this part of the facial was finished, Jill applied Patchology FlashPatch Rejuvenating Eye Gels underneath my eyes. These eye gels contain a mixture of ingredients that are meant to soothe and moisturize the skin and reduce puffiness. Fun fact, they’re also biodegradable, which is a plus, but they do contain fragrance. The most important ingredients include:

  • Caffeine to improve microcirculation for brighter tone and reduced puffiness
  • Hydrolyzed collagen to improve skin hydration, elasticity, tone and density
  • Sodium hyaluronate to naturally bind moisture to the skin
  • Centella asiatica to encourage collagen synthesis while inhibiting skin inflammation
  • Portulaca oleracea extract, rich in vitamin C and omega 3 fatty acids to brighten the under eye

She also applied Patchology FlashPatch Hydrating Lip Gels. The gels moisture the lips better than any chapstick you will find in your life and are designed to provide deep moisture, help the lips retain water, and prevent the skin from aging so your lips look youthful, soft, and plump. These are both biodegradable and latex-free, but they do contain fragrance. The most important ingredients include:

  • Peptides to provide anti-aging benefits and soften fine lines and wrinkles
  • Green tea extract a potent antioxidant and soothing ingredient
  • Niacinamide to provide anti-aging benefits, help increase ceramide and free fatty acid levels in the skin, and prevent skin from losing water

All information about these products I learned directly from the manufacturer. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

I absolutely loved this part of the facial because both the eye and lip gels where so cool and soothing and were the most relaxing part of the facial. After they had been taken off my eyes and lips were so hydrated and soft. I would definitely recommend trying them if you’re someone who is not bothered by fragrance in your beauty products.

Light Therapy

Once the gels were applied to my face, the last part of the facial included blue and red light therapy. I spent 15 minutes under the blue light and then 15 minutes under the red light. The lights are so strong that they could burn your eyes so I had to wear protective glasses during this part. Each light has there own set of benefits for the skin.

Blue Light Therapy: used in facials because it’s known to reduce inflammation, treat oily skin, speed up healing, kill bacteria, improve skin texture, remove sun spots, treat acne, remove scars that were originally caused by acne. Blue light therapy is also used outside of facials to kill skin cancer cells and treat depression.

Red Light Therapy: used in facials because it’s known to stimulate and repair cells, promote wound healing, boost circulation, improve skin condition, build collagen, reduce the appearance of wrinkles, firm the skin, mend sun damage, diminish scars, and relieve inflammation. People use red light therapy for other reasons too, including promoting hair growth, relieve pain and stiffness, reduce side effects of cancer treatments, improve joint health, and many more. Although to reap all of those benefits you would have to do red light therapy on a regular basis, meaning multiple times a week.

Public Service Announcement: I think it’s also worth mentioning that if you really want these results, you can’t just use light therapy once. Nothing is a one-time magical solution. For this reason, I’ll be introducing more facials into my routine for long term skin benefits and anti-aging benefits.

Light therapy may not be used in every HydraFacial, but Jill loves to use it in her facials because of the wide range of benefits it has on the skin. It didn’t feel warm or hot at all, which you might this it would be because it’s so bright, but it’s very comfortable. During this part of the facial Jill gave me an arm and upper body massage and used hot towels. I felt very pampered!

Once the facial was finished, Jill actually brought the container of fluid over to me that contained everything the machine has collected and sucked out of my pores. The water looks yellow and you can clearly see all of my dead skin and the nastiness that had been trapped in my skin. This picture right here is proof of why facials are so important. You can’t get that kind of exfoliation at home. 

The Results!

At the very end of the HydraFacial, my skin was bright and glowing. It was the best my skin had looked in a very long time. I did what Jill recommended, which was to leave all the product on until the end of the day for best results, and to avoid sweating or exercising, and to drink lots of water.

That night when I looked at my skin in the mirror, I noticed that my skin was much brighter, lighter, and was glowing. Most importantly, my skin texture had evened out. I had absolutely no flaking or dead skin which is a big problem for me. There was also no redness which could have happened from the light peel that was applied.

My favorite part though was my lips were much fuller and softer, and they felt slightly tingly even 24 hours later, like I had applied lip plumper.

After giving my skin a nice look-over in the mirror I noticed I only had about five blackheads on my whole nose and they were all coming to the surface. Then, after the first day, I got two breakouts on each one of my cheeks. What normally happens after your skin gets a facial is it has to go through a bit of a purge. The esthetician might not be able to clear out every pore immediately, but the process helps draw the dirt and oil to the surface. So it’s very normal to have a breakout or two appear.

Side Note: I remember meeting a girl who was in beauty school studying to becoming an esthetician and she had to take turns giving other girls facials and receiving facials so everyone could practice a few times. By the end of the week, she had about 5 to 6 facials and her skin looked INCREDIBLE, but she told me that the first several days her skin had tons of breakouts because it was purging all the junk in her pores. Moral of the story, don’t get discouraged if you get your first facial and wonder why you mysteriously got a pimple the next day.

Spa Review

The studio where I got my HydraFacial was in St. Augustine, Fla., off US 1. It’s located on Market Street in the Palencia community, which is smack dab in the middle between Jacksonville and Historic St. Augustine. Jill Stonier, a makeup artist, esthetician, and lash extension specialist has her own business there.

I can honestly say that I had such a fun time inside her ridiculously cute studio. Out of the few facials I have had I remember them being slightly awkward and boring, but it was such a good time. She’s incredibly sweet and so nice to talk to. It reminded me of being back in elementary school and middle school when I used to have my friends come over for a sleepover so we could have “spa days.”

Jill also had tons of advice for me about skincare, products, social media, and life in general. Which if you know me personally then you know that I hate taking advice from almost anyone, except for kind strangers.

I also believe that it’s not an esthetician’s knowledge that makes them great to go to (although that is super important) but it’s the little things they do that totally make the experience. Afterward, you actually want to go back and spend the time and money on your skin. The massage, the hot towels, and the light therapy were all nice touches that made the experience so much more enjoyable than the one you would have at a big chain spa.

There was also no product-pushing, up-selling, or sticker-shocking which I greatly appreciate! Isn’t that the worst when you get done being pampered and suddenly walk out of the room to be pressured into getting products or a membership? It drives me crazy!

I loved that at the very end of the facial Jill showed me the water with everything that had been extracted and exfoliated from my skin. I’m sure other people would be grossed out by that but I loved it! It was cool to physically see how well the HydraFacial had worked. It’s kind of like when you use a Biore Blackhead Removal Strip and you can see all the blackheads that came out of your pores. Yeah, it’s gross, but it’s oddly satisfying and you can’t help but look at it after.

So if you are in the St. Augustine area and want to try this facial, I highly recommend seeing Jill. She’s so knowledgeable about skincare and obviously passionate about what she does. You’ll love her I promise. And if you’re into false lashes you can even get those done after and walk around all day feeling like a Kardashian.

Thanks for reading!

After my first HydraFacial experience, I can say that I 100% recommend getting this facial done. It’s the type of facial you would want to get before an event or before getting photos done when you really want your skin to look good. It makes the skin so plump, beautiful and hydrated.

Remember to tell me what you think in the comments! Have you had a HydraFacial done before? What was your experience like? Have you had red or blue light therapy done? Do you use it for anything outside of skincare? Have you tried Patchology products? And lastly, let me know if you would like to see more beauty content from me! If so, what kinds of treatments would you be interested in hearing my review of?

Before you go, if you like what you read here, remember to scroll all the way to the bottom, click that little “+” symbol, and enter your email address where it says, “Follow blog via email,” for my weekly blog posts to be sent directly to you! Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

All photos are by Jill Stonier and myself, Heather Ione.

CBD, Anxiety, & Me: Thoughts After 3 Months on a CBD Tincture

Health & Wellness, Lifestyle

What I used to think about CBD

I’m probably one of the last people to hop on the CBD bandwagon – if not THE last one. Over the last couple of years, I’ve seen CBD–cannabidiol, a compound derived from cannabis plants–become so popular for a variety of different reasons. I heard everything from it cures anxiety, relieves pain and helps you sleep. Then there were bigger claims like it fights cancer, prevents seizures, and lowers risk of diabetes. But I didn’t buy any of it. I knew so many people who were completely head-over-heels in love with CBD and raved about it all the time. However, most of them were also very well-known for… puffing the magic dragon… I’m not sure how I’m supposed to word this in a blog. Anyways, they smoke a lot of weed. You know the type: gets super defensive about weed, munching on something all the time, scatterbrained, listens to The Grateful Dead on repeat, burns incense, wears drug rugs, has at least one Bob Marley poster hanging up in their room. You get the idea.

So I didn’t buy it because I’m not a smoker, and I was never enamored with the stoner culture. I’m not going to be convinced about how magical CBD is from someone who can’t go a few hours without smoking weed. I don’t really trust them to educate me because I always wondered, is this new health supplement really as great as they say? Or has everything marijuana just become a major part of their self-identity? So I debated it many times over the last few years, and I always approached the CBD conversations with skepticism (and if I’m being honest here, a lot of judgment).

Then, I started to see a shift. Instead of just smokers using CBD, it started to become popular among many different types of people. Athletes used it, professionals used it, children used it, mothers used it, wellness advocates used it – and CBD started to become seen as a health supplement rather than a conversation in a college dorm room. Fast forward to the last few months and my boyfriend and I are both working for health and fitness companies that invite other companies to sell CBD Oil to athletes at events and competitions.

Today, I regularly meet people who use CBD for an array of reasons. People who are active professionals with 9-5 jobs. I’ve learned of so many success stories particularly with anxiety, so I finally decided that I would give it a try. I’ve now been on CBD for three months and feel much better, but also incredibly guilty for never giving this natural medicine a try. I was quick to judge these products because of the stoner culture that used to surround them and quick to get annoyed when someone would rave to me about why I should be using it. Especially because it seemed too simple. How could taking a few drops of CBD oil be enough to relieve anxiety? Wouldn’t I need to meditate every day, take prescriptions, and see a therapist if I wanted that to happen? No.

So what is CBD?

I’m not going to pretend to be an expert about this. There are so many people and online influencers out there who pretend that they’re CBD experts but they’re not. So I started looking into it for more information. From what I’ve come across, the most informative and easy to understand content was a video by health and nutrition expert, Thomas DeLauer. He explained exactly how CBD affects the receptors in the brain to make us feel good, relax us, help those suffering from cancer, and more. It really helped me comprehend why and how it works so I could finally understand all those big claims that are made and the science behind it. If you’d like to see if yourself, check it out here.

So you may or may not already know this, but for the sake of educating someone who may not, CBD is the non-psychoactive component of cannabis (there’s no THC). Yes, we all know this. Moving on.

According to DeLauer, there are two different CBD receptors in the body and brain, CBD 1 and CBD 2. CBD 1 is found mostly in the brain and affects mood, emotion, mood, pain, etc. CBD 2 is found mostly in the body and affects things like inflammation and the immune system. THC is what activates both receptors, but CBD oil doesn’t. Instead, CBD influences the body to use more of its naturally occurring endocannabinoids, enhancing how the receptors utilize them. It’s the utilization and activation of vanilloid, serotonin, and adenosine receptors that give people the result they’re looking for from CBD.

These receptors play a role because CBD increases the activity of the receptors which trigger secondary responses in the body. For one thing, it activates a secondary response of excretory catecholamines (adrenaline, noradrenaline, and epinephrine), which is what gives you a heightened sense of awareness while still feeling calm. Secondly, CBD also activates dopamine and causes the body to naturally and effectively utilize that particular neurotransmitter, which makes us feel better. Thirdly, CBD activates glutamate which (in the right amounts) can trigger energy in the right places. Finally, the serotonin receptors: CBD oil activates 5-HT1A which allows the body to create more serotonin and use it more efficiently. All of these things give us that lovely sensation that CBD companies spend tons of money marketing to us: you’ll feel calm, yet awake. So that’s the long-winded version of what CBD is, as far as how it helps someone struggling with anxiety, like myself. Thank you, Thomas DeLeaur for explaining all of that in a way that makes sense for someone like me who just barely passed science class in school.

Why I tried CBD

I heard several stories from friends who suffered from terrible anxiety and were able to relax and function normally after taking CBD. That they no longer suffered from anxiety attacks, or have moments when their heart races uncontrollably, or feel overwhelmed even when nothing stressful is happening. On top of that, my boyfriend and I also work at well-known health and fitness companies, and we’re constantly surrounded by people who are in incredible shape and participate in competitions on the weekends–and many of them take CBD. So after hearing about CBD for years, I finally decided to take a leap of faith. The worst that could happen was I wouldn’t like it, and move on with my life. When I started using CBD, I started with the brand, Elixinol. Elixinol is a high-quality, naturally processed CBD brand with 100% Organic Industrial Hemp from the U.S., Europe, and Australia. I use it in the morning before work and at night before I fall asleep. It comes in a one-ounce bottle and glass dropper with measurements on it for a .5 milliliter (ml) or 1 ml dose. I fill it up, usually to about .75 ml and I put the CBD underneath my tongue for about a minute to allow it to absorb into my bloodstream and then I swallow.

Side Note: I got this one from my boyfriend because he bought it for himself and realized that there was coconut oil in it which he’s allergic to. So if you’re allergic to coconut oil too, you really have to read CBD labels because tons of brands use coconut oil as a carrier oil.

After using Elixinol for over a month, I then tried out Charlotte’s Web CBD after hearing testimonials from so many people that swear by Charlotte’s Web and found the most success with that brand. If you’ve never heard of the story behind Charlotte’s Web, I highly suggest looking into it. The company was started because of a little girl name Charlotte Fiji who suffered from Dravet Syndrome — a very rare form of epilepsy. Her story is one that is completely heartbreaking and has shown people all of over the world how healing CBD can be. If you want to read the full story check it out here.

After using Elixinol and Charlotte’s Web both for a month and a half each, I can finally say that I am a firm believer in using CBD.

My thoughts after 3 months on CBD

Less Anxiety – Within the first day of being on CBD, I immediately felt better. I noticed that my mental state had become much more peaceful than it was before. The way that I could describe it is like taking an actual chill pill. Normally throughout the day, I have negative emotions, as we all do. I get anxious, angry, and sad, and it regularly ruins my day and makes me feel crappy both mentally and physically. If you’ve had anxiety then you’ll know what I’m talking about.

You know that feeling when you start to have anxiety? It’s not just a mental feeling, but you feel it physically too. Your heart races, you sweat, you feel wired, you don’t feel like you’re in control of your body or mind, and your whole body feels agitated and uncomfortable. When I take CBD, I still feel my regular emotions throughout the day, like sadness or anger, but when I do it’s not nearly as heavy as it normally is. Those feelings don’t spread throughout my whole body and make me feel like I can’t breathe or my heart will come out of my chest. Instead, I feel an emotion, but without all of those physical reactions that usually amplify the feelings of anxiety and make it so much worse.

The first time that I really noticed this was when I was stuck in traffic on the highway one day and someone cut me off. Normally this would have made me feel anxious throughout my whole body. I would have felt the adrenaline coursing through me, and I wouldn’t calm down until I reached my destination and got out of the car. But now, I feel slightly anxious in my mind without all of the adrenaline and nerves. Instead, whenever I experienced an emotion like this, I would think to myself, “Oh, I’m feeling a little stressed out right now. That’s fine, it’ll pass.” Or “Looks like there’s some anxiety showing up again.”

I was so surprised by how calm and rational I felt. I started to identify unpleasant emotions, and then let them go without feeding into them. This has actually been something that I’ve been trying to train my mind to do in meditation, but I haven’t been able to do it alone. But now, on CBD, I can. I watch the negative thought show up and pass by just like seeing someone pass by me on the sidewalk. Not that I’m disconnected from my emotions or have become emotionless, but rather they don’t overwhelm me and affect me physically in the way that they used to.

I also want to add that even though CBD calmed me down, the effects are not at all like a prescription drug that people use to treat anxiety. When someone takes a pill meant for anxiety, it immediately hits them and they have a noticeable reaction. They go from having a panic attack to feeling very happy, relaxed, and basically like they’re floating on a cloud away from all of their problems. Which is why I was afraid to try CBD at first because I didn’t want an effect like that. But CBD doesn’t hit you like a prescription does. It’s very slow so after a while, I’ll notice that I feel calm. Taking CBD oil reminds me of taking an ibuprofen when something is hurting. I don’t notice it kick in immediately – it happens so slowly that I didn’t even realize it was starting to work until 30 minutes later when I notice that my headache is gone. Which is why you may not even notice the effects of CBD and realize that it’s working because it doesn’t hit you like a Xanax. Days might go by and you’ll suddenly have an “ah-ha” moment in traffic like me.

Focus –The other thing that I noticed after being on CBD was that it also helped me get out of my own head and focus on what was in front of me. My mind normally races so much that it’s hard to really pay attention when I’m reading, working, or writing. Now, instead of seeing something that I have to get done and letting it overwhelm me and stress me out, CBD has helped me put my feelings aside and focus on one thing at a time. I have no idea how it does this, but it does. Why did I not get on board with this when I was still in school?!

Take-Away

I feel so guilty for judging people who took CBD as a supplement and assuming that people just used it because they thought it was cool. Maybe some people do. But I’ll admit it… I messed up. Sorry! I now take CBD oil with my other supplements morning and night and it has made each day brighter and more manageable. Now that I’ve seen what a difference it can make, I’m experimenting with some other CBD products and see which ones are the best for me. But as of now, Elixinol and Charlotte’s Web are the two that I keep going back to.

If you’re dealing with anxiety, depression, anger, or maybe you just have a hard time focusing, I think you should consider doing some research on CBD, talking to your doctor, and trying a supplement like this. Everyone is different, but this could be a simple lifestyle change that could make a huge difference in your mental state and your day-to-day experience.

Have you taken CBD oil? What has your experience been? Have you noticed any positive (or negative) changes? What brands do you use? What brands do you dislike? If you don’t understand CBD or may be against it, what are your thoughts? Please let me know in the comments! I love hearing the new perspectives! And, if you like what you read, be sure to scroll down to the bottom of the page, click that “+” symbol and type in your email to subscribe! 

Photo by Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.