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, Lifestyle

How Taking CBD Cured My Anxiety

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.