Friday, December 4, 2020

Shopping Life Lately (and Curology Update)

I'm more than a bit surprised I've managed to not buy much for myself in this year's round of Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. In fact, I haven't bought myself any clothing, shoes, or accessories this sale season. That is quite out of character for me: Just compare this year's Black Friday "haul" of zero things for my wardrobe with my 2018 and 2019 performance! 

Anyway, I definitely don't believe in Black Friday sales having special ethical or moral significance, whether one abstains or partakes. (Though my overall preference is generally to consume less, and to put what I do consume - particularly new items bought at retail - to the most rigorous, long-term use possible.) It's just another sale season and, frankly, there are many women's apparel and accessory sales all year round. In past years, particularly before I started this blog, I'd typically found that Black Friday and Cyber Monday weren't even a great time for discounts on women's fashion, though that's changed somewhat more recently. But, for the largest discounts on clothing and accessories this general time of year, it's still the post-Christmas sales one should really keep an eye out for. 

Black Friday Purchases (and a Return) 

I ordered that collared polo sweater from The Reset, and it arrived this week. Upon trying it on, I realized an important detail I overlooked when the design first caught my eye: The collar and v-neck design on most polo sweaters might not look quite right or proportional on me, as I'm busty enough that they won't look the way they do on the models. Plus, this sweater is a bit shorter in the body than my usual preference - it's not unusually short, and I definitely wouldn't call it cropped, but I personally prefer my tops on the longer side - and that combined with the neckline and the somewhat boxy fit made my torso look... stubby. I also found the sleeves puffed out a little too much just past the awkwardly-long-on-me cuffs. In other words, this sweater did not suit my body shape and proportions, and straight back into the mail it goes. 

Mostly because 2020 has been such a strange year, this return to The Reset is actually the first return of any kind I've done with any retailer this year. If you'd told me in 2019 that I'd spend 11 months of 2020 not making any shopping returns at all, I'd probably have laughed, it would just sound so outlandish given how much I typically rely on online shopping and my admitted propensity for ordering multiple sizes of a single item to try. 

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I was also briefly tempted by Vince's site-wide 30% off Black Friday sale, particularly by this year's medium blue version of that boiled cashmere funnel-neck sweater I liked so much from last year. But I already have a very similar-looking sweater from Brora in basically the same color, and I definitely do not need two different medium blue high-necked sweaters. (Though between the two designs, the Vince one is definitely more elegant-looking!) 

As for what I did buy during this year's Black Friday and Cyber Monday sale period, I did my Christmas shopping for K and his parents.* I decided on L.L. Bean Wicked Cozy blankets for his parents because I enjoy mine so much and had no better ideas for them while they're also stuck at home. (My Christmas gift for them last year was a set of nice, lightweight carry-on suitcases. For obvious reasons, those have gone unused.) For K, I pre-ordered a copy of the upcoming Cyberpunk 2077 game for Playstation 4. 

I also did some non-fashion shopping for myself this year. Out of all the - embarrassingly many - fountain pens I've tried so far since I started with the hobby in July, my favorite is the Lamy 2000 pictured above. I was able to pick up a second one at an excellent price from EndlessPens, for a solid 30% off the typical US retail price. I also bought a few discounted bottles of ink. 

EndlessPens offers many discounts year-round, and I've found them very reliable after making multiple pen and ink purchases from them before Black Friday. But I might not recommend them as a first stop for true beginners in the fountain pen hobby . EndlessPens may not be a licensed US retailer for all the brands they carry, which means not all the products come with full manufacturer warranties. (I'd probably recommend Goulet Pens or Jetpens to first-time fountain pen users, as their websites can offer more guidance when one is in the earliest stages of learning about and exploring this hobby.) 

Quick Curology Update

I'm approximately 25 days into using my Curology prescription serum nightly, as instructed, and it's been smooth sailing so far. It's definitely too early to draw any real conclusion about how well it's working. I'm still getting new blemishes - no surprise, with my skin - but I've already noticed improved healing time and less inflammation on existing and new blemishes. My post acne dark spots also seem to be fading faster and new ones are less noticeable than when I was on Retin-A Micro 0.1%, which is also important for my skin's overall appearance. 

As I mentioned in comment replies, my serum seems well-formulated, it absorbs well into my skin, doesn't have a weird texture or smell, and doesn't ball up if I apply moisturizer immediately after. (Though that last trait isn't terribly important in a nighttime treatment.) It's probably reasonable to infer this should be true about all their formulas, though I can't be completely sure.

Perhaps because my skin has already gone through years of long-term, frequent use of Retin-A Micro 0.1%, there hasn't been much of an adjustment period or any real irritation from using my topical Curology formula (tretinoin 0.04%, azelaic acid 7%, and clindamycin 1%). My skin is a little dry and dull-looking some days, but nothing remotely like the extreme dryness, irritation, and noticeably flaky and peeling look that can come - and stick around for weeks, or even months - with first-time topical tretinoin use. I know from experience with past prescriptions that topical clindamycin is likely not the culprit for skin dryness, so my mild extra dryness is probably from either the tretinoin or azelaic acid. Although azelaic acid is available over the counter, I don't think I'd ever used it before now. 

One quick note if anyone is thinking about trying Curology: In the first week or two after you get your first trial package, it's probably a good idea to log in and check your settings for future shipments. I'd gotten free samples of their moisturizer and cleanser in my first month, so I needed to opt out of paying for full-size versions in future shipments. I also hadn't realized their default shipping option after the "just pay shipping" first trial month was to ship a larger two-month supply with free shipping, rather than to ship one month at a time for $4.95 shipping, which would have given me a surprise on my bill if I hadn't thought to check. (I definitely prefer paying for and receiving a two months' supply at a time with free shipping, but the availability of that option wasn't clear when I first signed up!) 

* My family takes a more unsentimental and nontraditional approach to birthday and holiday gifts: The recipient chooses their own gift, and might even put in the order themselves with the giver to reimburse them. We also have no particular attachment to getting gifts done by the actual date of the occasion. This year, because we're unable to spend any time together in-person due to the logistical challenges of interstate travel and quarantine, my mom, sister, and I are not particularly in a mood to select gifts, so most of our birthdays have already gone by with nothing selected by the recipients... I suspect we might not be selecting gifts this December either, maybe we'll wait until things are hopefully looking a bit more cheerful next year. 

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