Saturday, September 5, 2015

Facial Hair, Hair Loss, Hormonal Acne & Other PCOS Nightmares (and how to deal with them!) PART 2

You are Reading Part 2 of this PCOS series.
 If you would like to start with Part 1, you can view that here.

Welcome to Part 2! Here I will be discussing some of the other beauty issues caused by symptoms of PCOS and how to manage them. While I talked mostly about facial and body hair in Part 1, here I'll be focusing more on hair in general as well as skincare issues that PCOS suffers face every day.

There are of course, more serious issues that PCOS suffers face including the obvious ovarian cysts, fertility issues, obesity and other related health issues. However there is swarms of information on those issues and how to deal with them on the internet, and I don't to dig too deeply into the medical side of things since this is a beauty blog, after all.

As I mentioned in Part 1, these are not only issues that women with PCOS have to deal with. Having excess facial and body hair, hormonal acne, brittle nails and thinning hair are things that many men and women struggle with- and in our society that is so focused on appearance, these things can be a constant stress. What makes it worse for PCOS suffers, is that they have to manage many of these issues all at the same time. The fact that many of these things can be incredibly embarrassing tends to send people into seclusion when it comes to talking about these issues, and I know I speak for myself when I say that it might make you feel like your the only one who has to deal with them. The good news is, you're not. The better news is, there are ways to manage these issues to the best of your ability, even if it can be time and money consuming.

Thinning Hair and Brittle Nails
I remember back when I was originally diagnosed with PCOS, one of the first symptoms I noticed was that my hair was becoming thinner and thinner. Growing up, I had such thick hair that my mother would break at least 4 elastics trying to put my hair up before school. People would comment on how thick and beautiful my hair was all the time- flash forward 10 years and my hair could probably be held up by a twist tie. It was gradual at first- I assumed it was because I was dying my hair more often, but when I started seeing small bald patches, I knew something was going on. Shortly afterwards, I began noticing my nails would snap off if I brushed them against something the wrong way. They were constantly breaking to the point that a day didn't go by where I wasn't splitting or breaking a nail. So how have I been dealing with these issues all these years?

Shampoo and Conditioner
I'll be the first to admit here that I still haven't found a shampoo and conditioner that has made a massive and impressive difference in the thickness and volume of my hair- and I've tried hundreds. However there was one in particular that helped quite a bit, even though it does have some mixed reviews.

Nioxin System

 My mother's hairdresser suggested Nioxin to her when she mentioned my hair was thinning, and she claimed her customers were thrilled with the results they had. She recommended I try the Shampoo and Conditioner first, although Nioxin does have a wide product line that also includes styling, intensive treatments, and scalp renewal creams. There are different "versions" of Nioxin depending on your hair type, so if you are interested in learning more about this product, I would suggest visiting the official website and taking the little quiz to find out which line would work best for you. You can go to the 'Consultation Tool" directly by clicking here.
Nioxin is usually only sold in salons, however you can purchase it on Amazon and other online stores.
 My experience with this product personally didn't start out so great. The shampoo and conditioner are both very "minty" and tend to make your scalp feel numb and tingly at the same time. It's not painful, but it can be a little uncomfortable. I noticed that after a few days of using the product consistently, the intensity of the tingling died down significantly. I had 2 of the smaller bottles, which lasted me about a month of daily use. Nioxin claims it takes about that long to notice a difference, and they were right. I was almost at the end of the bottles and was pretty disappointed with the results, until a few days before I ran out. Not only did I start noticing there was less hair fallout in the shower, but when I would wring my hair out after a shower, I actually felt it was becoming thicker. I haven't gotten around to purchasing more yet, but I am genuinely interested in how well it will work long-term. It's the only shampoo/conditioner I've tried that has even given a slightly change, so I wanted to include it here!
Another great thing to note is that while Nioxin is incredibly expensive, Sally Beauty Supply offers their own version of Nioxin, called "Nutri-ox" which is much, much cheaper. I haven't tried it myself (although I'm planning on it soon) but it's a great alternative for anyone that can't afford to continue purchasing the pricey bottles of Nioxin- I know I can't!

Treatments
I mentioned above that Nioxin (as well as the Sally verison "Nutri-ox") both have thickening and volumizing treatments that go along with the line, however there are also a few other treatments that I have tried, or that have been suggested to me that I thought I should mention here.

Head and Shoulders Thickening Treatment
($12 on Amazon)
 I tried my fair share of drugstore hair thickening products, and truly none of them made a difference except for this one. There is apparently an entire line of Head & Shoulders "Full and Strong" products, however I have only tried this treatment. It's essentially a "spray" that is misted directly into the roots of your hair. You then use your fingertips to massage the product into your scalp, and then style your hair as usual. It doesn't leave a greasy or sticky residue like some other treatments I have tried, and after about 2 weeks of us, I did see some visual volumizing. I could feel a slight difference in my hair, however it was more visually noticeable that my hair was a bit "larger" and more voluminous overall. I have repurchased this a few times and my fiance and I both enjoy it for boosting the look of our hair!

Hair Fibers
I did a review on hair fibers not too long ago (you can view it here if you're interested!) and they were a massive help to me when I lost a lot of my hair after having weight loss surgery. Much of it has grown back now, although I do still struggle with the thinning. What I love about hair fibers, is that they're a simple, quick cosmetic fix to an issue that can take a long time to recover from. There are lots of products we can use to thicken our hair over time, but very few things to make us feel comfortable now. Hair fibers come in a wide variety of colors, and are housed in a shaker bottle. All you need to do is shake the fibers out and onto your scalp wherever there is a bald or thinning patch of hair. You can pat them in a bit to blend it out, but that's really all you need to do! These absolutely 100% work for short term masking of thinning hair, and it doesn't look unnatural at all unless you go overboard and use way too much. I went through multiple bottles from a wide variety of brands, and they all worked essentially the same way. I'm not going to link to any specific brand because they're all different prices- and as I mentioned, I personally think they're all the same. Your best bet is to go on Amazon and look up 'Hair Fibers.' Don't buy the most expensive brands- they really are just making you pay for the brand, not the quality. I have tried "Strand" (the one you see in the above picture) as well as Fibolica, Cuvva and XFusion. All of them worked the same- so do you research and find one that fits your budget!
Supplements
There's a massive variety of supplements that are made for hair, skin and nails. Some of them work, some of them don't- but what I know for sure is that they all work differently for different people. I want to preface this section by saying that- because something that works well for me may not work at all for you. Having said that, these are products I have used myself or that have been suggested to me and I want to make you aware of them!

NeoCell Biotin Bursts
($13.59 on iherb.com)
 I recently did a review on Biotin Bursts as well as the Beauty Bursts (which I will talk about later on) and they have become a part of my daily routine. I have taken Biotin supplements for years now to help with my thinning hair, but I will admit that I am one of those people that tends to forget to take my vitamins and supplements regularly- that is of course, unless they're delicious. For some reason, I have no problem taking my supplements the moment I wake up in the morning if they taste good! I switched my 5,000mcg Biotin capsules for the 10,000mcg Biotin Bursts. These are little 20 calorie chews that taste like grapes and deliciousness. They're chewy, but also soft enough to melt in your mouth if you have bad teeth and avoid chewy things, usually. I've been taking these daily for almost 2 months now and I've noticed a significant difference in my hair growth and strength, as well as my nail strength as well. This is the one of two things I am using to strengthen my nails and I rarely have a break anymore.

Pantogar
(Around $33 on ebay)
This product is something I have yet to try for myself, but I have heard time and time again from people on hair loss/weight loss/pcos forums that this stuff is the real deal. It's not easy to find here in the US, although there is an ebay store (link is above) that is the only ebay seller that carries the original german-made Pantogar capsules. 
Pantogar is a highly effective hair treatment that helps stop hair loss. It contains amino acids, proteins and vitamins to supply the hair with nutrients required for it's growth and strength.  It costs $33 for 90 capsules, which is apparently a one month supply. That is pretty pricey for me, personally- so I haven't actually tried this product myself. I have spoken to a lot of women I trust and they swear by this stuff though, so if you feel like you've tried it all and this stuff is new to you- definitely look into it!

Nail Strengthener
While I use almost nothing on my nails now that the Biotin supplements have been working so well, I do still use my trusty Sally Hansen Miracle Cure. 
I'm pretty sure this stuff has been around forever and has been repackaged dozens of times, but I have been using this product as well as a few other "nail vitamin/strengthening/growth" products from Sally Hansen. They're not only affordable and available at any drugstore, but they really work well. Stop by the Sally Hansen section of your local drugstore next time you're in and pick up a few different things and see what works best for you! Miracle Cure is a "paint on" treatment that strengthens your nails in just 3 days without harsh chemicals. However I also have found that Sally Hansen has gel-like products that you can apply to your nails on top of a manicure- so if you tend to have your nails painted frequently, check out one of those options!

Hormonal/Adult Acne
I could probably write a 10 part series on skincare for people dealing with hormonal/adult acne, but I feel that many of my reviews on this blog already cover products and things that I like using on my skin. However, there are a small handful of product that have made my life easier when dealing with these skin issues. What you have to constantly remind yourself is that it's OK that you might never have completely clear skin. I have been doing a 12+ step Korean skincare routine for years, and there's rarely been a time where my face has been completely blemish-free. There are parts of my face that look amazing- better than they've ever looked- thanks to a rigorous skincare routine. However the areas where hormonal acne tends to crop up (t-zone, jawline area etc) tend to always have some sort of blemish popping up. My chin is probably the most common place I break out- regardless of how careful I am caring for my skin. Don't beat yourself up if you can't eliminate your acne! PCOS sufferers have an especially difficult time with this considering our hormones are always out of whack!

Coxrx Acne Pimple Master Patch
(Available on most kbeauty sites for less but Amazon has them for around $5.50)
I have tried acne "patches" a few times in the past, and I recently ordered a variety of them from different brands in my most recent RoseRoseShop order, however I have yet to find any that work as amazingly well as these do. After seeing lots of kbeauty bloggers rave about these, I knew I had to try them for myself. If you happen to be unfamiliar with acne patches, they're little sticky dots that are made out of the same material as wound care patches used in hospitals. The Cosrx ones are the highest quality I have found. After I'm done with my skincare at the end of the night, I stick one of these babies on top of any prominent blemishes I have, and I wake in the morning with the breakout being half it's size, or almost completely gone! What makes these so grossly satisfying, is that you can see all the stuff that the patch has sucked out of the breakout. These have even worked for me on cystic acne- helping quickly bring it to a head and keeping it from getting irritated. I had a cystic breakout last week and rather than having it for weeks, it was gone in a few days when using these patches. They're a lifesaver and EVERYONE suffering from acne needs these in their life!

Paula's Choice 2% BHA Liquid
($28 from Paula's Choice)
This is one of those products that people either love or hate, but I am in the "obsessed" category. It's truly amazing how much my skin has benefited from using this product. This is a liquid exfoliant that helps unclog pores while improving the skin' tone and texture. It's not only anti-acne, but helps with anti-aging, blackheads, enlarged pores, keratosis pilaris, redness, and rosacea. It's an amazing product! I have heard/read that some people find it to be a bit too "oily" in consistency, but I find that if you use a tiny bit at a time and blend it into your skin little by little, then wait about 5-10 minutes for it to absorb/dry- there's no issues. I've been using this product for well over a year now, and I can say it's the one thing that I would never give up in my skincare routine. It's truly transformed my skin, and I also think it has greatly helped keep my clogged pores and hormonal acne at bay. It's a little pricey, but you need only 2-3 drops to cover your whole face. A single bottle will last you for a very long time.

While Paula's Choice has products with BHA to use on the body, I very often use the same bottle along with a cotton pad and apply it anywhere that I have breakouts, blackheads, or clogged pores on my body as well. I know many women with PCOS get cystic breakouts and clogged pores in the folds of their skin (I'll talk about this more below) and this product is amazing for helping combat that. 

Baviphat Strawberry Toxifying Mask
(Various sellers, Available on Amazon for around $17 w/shipping)
It's interesting- I'm noticing as I write this post that a lot of products I'm recommending are also in an upcoming post that I'm doing about the skincare products I cannot live without. I suppose it's true I can't live without them due to how much they help with my hormonal acne! 
Let me start off by saying I am not a fan of wash-off masks. They're great and all, but I am so lazy that I hate having to scrub them off my face and rinse over and over until the residue is gone etc. I'd much rather slap on a sheet mask and be done with it. On top of that, I haven't been a big fan of Baviphat products in the past, so I was even more shocked by how in love with this mask I am. This is a clay mask that smells like the most delicious strawberry candy you can imagine. It does dry like a clay mask, but doesn't feel uncomfortably tight, which I love. It also rinses off beautifully and easily! It's performance is nothing to joke about either. After using this product, my skin feels moisturized, but also completely free of oil for the entire day. My acne and breakouts look calmed and less apparent, my pores look smaller, and my skin looks brighter and more even-toned. I used this stuff so often that it might be the first wash-off mask I actually run out of and have to repurchase! *gasp!* I also suggest using this on other parts of your body that you get breakouts or skin issues, especially ones caused by PCOS. I never get blackheads on my face, but I get them on my shoulders, on my inner thighs, and other random places- thanks hormones! I slap this mask on those areas a couple times a week to keep breakouts at bay.

Neocell Beauty Bursts
($17 on iherb.com)
I mentioned above that I reviewed these along with the Biotin Bursts recently, and I am so in love with this brand and their products. I was incredibly skeptical of "skincare supplements" especially those containing collagen. There's been no studies that say consumable collagen has any effect on the skin whatsoever, however it's possible the Hyaluronic Acid and Vitamin C in these supplements are what is making my skin look so amazing lately! These are 20 calorie chews (you have to take 2 per day) that taste like delicious fruit punch. They're so good you'll have to force yourself not to eat them like candy!
I have been taking these supplements for almost 2 months now, and I have seen a continued difference in my skin. It's almost difficult to describe, but my face is more "even" in terms of oil production. Not only that, my face looks plump with moisture (in a good way-it's not bloated!) and is truly just glowing! When I tested these supplements, I made sure to use the same skincare products I had been using for awhile so I could see if these would be the thing that made a difference, and they have continued to make my skin look incredibly healthy and vibrant. I've repurchased these twice now, and I will continue to have them in my daily routine to help my skin look it's best.

Hidradenitis Suppurativa
Finally, I want to quickly touch upon an issue that I suffer from, and I had no idea what it was for the longest time. It's apparently something that many women with PCOS suffer from in varying levels of severity. It's something that cannot be easily cured, and can be as emotionally exhausting and depressing as the other issues we've discussed.
Hidradenitis Suppurativa is a skin disorder that is common, but rarely diagnosed. It's "characterized by clusters of abscesses or subcutaneous boil-like "infections" (oftentimes free of actual bacteria) that most commonly affects apocrine sweat gland bearing areas, such as the underarms, under the breasts, inner thighs, groin etc. The disease is not contagious."
What does all that mean? Well- I get cysts. A lot of them. They usually form on my waistline, inner thighs and occasionally under my breasts, although I know many women also get them in their armpits as well. They range in size anywhere from a nickel all the way to a golfball. They're embarrassing, painful, and leave behind large purple scars that rarely-if ever- go away. The worst part about this disorder is that it is hardly studied and there is no known cure or effective treatment that a doctor can recommend. However, Many lovely HS sufferers have shared things that work for them, and I'd love to share them with you as well if you think you may have this issue. You can check out more basic info on this skin disorder on the wikipedia page

Hibiclens- This is a soap that is used before surgery to get the skin incredibly clean and free of bacteria as well as being anti-microbial. You can find this by the wound care in your local drugstore. You can use this cleanser on any areas where you have a flare up once a week, or even daily if you have bad flare-ups. 

Tumeric Capsules- I only started taking this regularly/recently, although I was taking it a few years ago when my HS was at it's worst. Tumeric is a natural anti-inflammatory, which helps lessen the swelling and inflammation of HS eruptions.

AZO- Many people think that HS- while it is a inflammation of the sweat glands- is also caused by an overgrowth of candida/yeast in the body. AZO is a natural homeopathic pill that helps naturally control yeast production, and I was taking this to avoid a yeast infection after taking antibiotics- and I noticed that my flare ups were a lot less frequent, so I've continued to take it!

There have been many HS sufferers that have had amazing results using these 3 products at home. It's not expensive or difficult to acquire them, as they're available at most drugstores. They have personally helped me reduce my flare ups a great deal, so I highly recommed giving them a shot.


Whew! That was a lot of information!
I'm sure there are tons of things I'm missing or not thinking of right now, but I really hope that some of this information has helped you, and I hope even more that if you are suffering from any of these issues that you feel more comforted and hopeful that you can manage them. Please feel free to leave any questions/comments/concerns in the comment section and I will be sure to answer them to the best of my ability! Finally, hang in there- As often as we see "perfect" women on TV and the movies, and now on youtube and blogs- remember we all have our secret "issues" we don't want others to know about. We all have insecurities and stresses about our bodies and appearances. My main goal in starting this blog was to write posts about products that would make people happier, more confident, or help them solve an issue they've suffered from for a long time, so I hope this blog post did just that! <3
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All thoughts and opinions in this blog post are genuine and belong to Harlot Beauty. No monetary compensation was received, although goods and/or services may have been provided and accepted for purpose of review. Post may contain affiliate or referral links.

5 comments:

  1. Rachel, have you looked into Andrew Lessman's Healthy Hair, Skin and Nails supplements? I use them for my nails, as they can get pretty brittle and that works well for me. A few friends of mine swear by this supplement for their hair as well. HSN sells it and it can be a bit pricey (currently it is 119.00 for 500 capsules), which is why I wait for their health months (usually in January) and get it at a huge discount (plus they have flex pay). They currently have the 50 capsule bottle for under 20.00, so if you wanted to try it and see if it helps or not http://www.hsn.com/products/healthy-hair-skin-and-nails-50-capsules/6072000

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    1. I haven't heard of it before, honestly! So far the Biotin seems to be doing wonders for my nails- I hardly need to use my Sally Hansen aresenal, however there are times every now and then (especially when my nutrition isn't at it's best) that I could use something more heavy-duty I will absolutely look into it and thanks for posting about them just in case someone else might be interested as well! :)

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  2. My mom has used nioxin for about a year and a half now and you can noticeably tell a difference in how her hair looks now vs how it did then! If you have a tj maxx around you they sell the shampoo, conditioner, and some of the treatments there for pretty cheap!

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    1. That's great to hear! I will definitely keep an eye out next time I'm here! :) thanks for the awesome tip!

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