Friday, May 15, 2020

How I Treat My Hormonal Acne

If you have followed me for a long time you know I have struggled with acne. I never had acne in high school and I sure did take that for granted. My skin started to get really bad around my junior/senior year of undergrad. It was initially very bad on my back which, living in Florida isn't that easy to hide. It was embarrassing and significantly affected my self-esteem and confidence. Soon, pimples started to pop up all over my jaw line and cheek area. Some were cystic and so painful. I tried everything BUT in reality I wasn't taking proper care of my skin. I was in my early 20's and didn't know a lot or even believe in the importance of washing your face everyday before bed. Crazy right? Since I made the commitment to my skin last year (2019) I have taken my makeup off every single night and at the bare minimum washed and moisturized my skin. I personally believe combined with hormones and my lack of proper care of my skin led to the terrible skin problems I had for years. In the last year I have started working with an amazing medical esthetician in Naples, Brittany Napier and she has helped me so much! I run my skincare products by her and any makeup I use or new products I buy. She does my monthly Hydrafacial, dermaplanning, and microneedling. She is literally an ANGEL and so knowledgeable with years of experience. 

Before I got pregnant I finally found products that helped clear up my skin. You can read that post here. I included before and after photos. However, once I got pregnant an after I gave birth I tried the same products and they did not work on my skin any longer. It was devastating to figure that out. After that I tried Tula products which I thought were helping but they really weren't. 

Finally in mid-2019 I decided enough was enough. A friend of mine recommended I go see a PA here in town that does BBL Laser treatments and Microneedling. I had three BBL treatments, one Microneedling session and a retinol peel. At the 3rd BBL, Dana told me that my skin was not showing the improvement she had hoped for and she thought it was time for me to go see a Dermatologist. She recommended someone I could see locally and I made an appointment to see her. Before leaving her office I bought a prescription Retinol mix she sells. She was the first person to EVER mention Retinol to me. If you don't know Retinol or Retin A was originally used to treat acne with amazing side benefits of anti-aging. 

At my visit with the Dermatologist we discussed what I did and didn't want to do for treatments. We went over all the products I was using on my skin including makeup. She told me what I should and shouldn't be using for my acne prone skin. She told me NO products with oil in them. I made sure all my makeup was non-comedogenic and stopped using pretty much all the Tula products I had previously been using. She said we could try birth control but I didn't want to go down that route. We decided to start me on Doryx. It was a low dose and I made sure to be consistent with my probiotics and skincare. I am not an advocate for antibiotics. I believe (based on my college education and research I have done) that antibiotics should be the last option for many types of illness. If they can be avoided they should be. However, the antibiotics in conjunction with prescription Retinol usage (3-4 days week), medical grade skincare products and monthly Hydrafacials have cleared my skin up. It took at least 6 months to get to where my skin is now and I was on the antibiotics for almost four months. I was very scared that once I was off the medication the acne would come back. My Dermatologist told me it was possible and if it did we would look at another option called Spironolactone. Luckily since stopping the antibiotics my skin has continued to get better and better. 

I'm going to go over my current skincare routine and I hope it helps some of you that may be struggling. I suggest going to your dermatologist and making sure they listen to you and what you do and don't want. Kristen, my dermatologist is an angel and I love her. Find a good one you trust and you'll be able to work out a solution for you. Ask them what products you should be using. Many dermatologists sell Skinceuticals at their office and will recommend that brand. I highly recommend them as well. The price tag is high but they are worth every penny.  

Morning Routine 

Face Wash: I alternate face washes. I have a few I cycle through depending on how dry my skin is that day. I love Skinceuticals LHA Cleanser, Beauty Bio's Balance Cleanser and Vanicream Unscented Gentle Facial Cleanser

Serums: Drunk Elephant C Firma and Skinceuticals Discoloration Defense (the discoloration defense is insanely amazing. I cannot live without it.)

Moisturizer: Drunk Elephant Protini 

Evening Routine 

Face Wash: I take off my makeup with Burt's Bees makeup wipes and I splash some with hazel toner on them. Then wash with Beauty Bio's Balance Cleanser or Vanicream Unscented Gentle Facial Cleanser

Next, I use my at home microneedling tool from Beauty Bio the GloPro. I use it about 2-3 times a week. This device makes small injuries and holes in your skin that allows your products to sink in 200% more. It has made a HUGE difference in the tone and texture of my skin especially used with retinol.

Above is my before and after picture from when I started using the Glo Pro. The picture on the left is from September 2019 and the photo on the right is from Nov 2019. I notice a HUGE difference in the discoloration in my cheek area. 

Serums: Prescripton retinol (Tretinion) or Fabior. I alternate between the two. 

Night Moisturizer: Summer Friday's Jet Lag Mask

Eye Cream: same as the morning 

On top of ALL the skincare products and antibiotics I started drinking celery juice 5 days a week. I cut out dairy. I maybe have cheese on a salad once or twice a week. I stopped eating Yazzo bars in the evening as well. I don't think these two things cured my acne but I think it helped in addition to everything else I was doing. I already eat a low sugar diet but sugar is a HUGE problem for those with acne prone skin and really for your overall health. I highly recommend making sure your diet is healthy including high intake of fruits and vegetables and low intake of complex carbs like pasta, bread and minimal candy.

I also started drinking spearmint tea. Spearmint has the highest anti-inflammatory properties out of all the mints. I found many studies that showed the effectiveness of drinking spearmint tea. Here is an excerpt "in a 2015 study by the American Academy of Dermatology, two cups or organic spearmint tea ingested daily reduced inflammatory acne lesions by 25% after one month and by 51% after three months. When compared with 100 milligrams of prescription minocycline." I drink one cup in the morning at work and one before I go to bed at night. I also started washing my pillow cases more. I only sleep on one side of the pillow case for one night. The next night I switch it over and after that I wash the pillowcase. 

I'm not going to lie it took a lot to get my skin to where it is now. I had to be diligent and above all patient. My goal was to be able to go out in public without any makeup and feel comfortable and I have achieved that. My hard work has definitely paid off. I do still get pimples, especially the week before my period. I titled this post "How I TREAT my hormonal acne" because I think it's important to be realistic. I know I have a big genetic component for why I have hormonal acne and that part is only going to go away as I age. However, there are many treatments you can do to keep the acne under control.

Here are a few before and afters for you.

Above photos taken in June 2019 before BBL, microneedling, antibiotics and new skincare routine.
It is semi-hard to see in this photo but my face was FULL of clogged pores that would show up and be there for months and months before coming to a head. I had never had a facial in my life at this point. I now get them monthly.

The above photos were taken in January 2020 after I had been off antibiotics for about a month.

I hope this information helpful; and if you have any questions I would love to chat with you. Shoot me and email to:

Thanks for reading!

xo, Alina

Friday, January 17, 2020

HydraFacial Q&A with Brittany Napier

I have had an overwhelming response from readers and followers every time I post about getting a HydraFacial and after the last time I decided to see what people's questions may be so they can explore if it was something they would be interested in. I see a medical esthetician here in Naples and she works out of Dr. Pena's office. Brittany is incredibly knowledgeable and educated on everything skin related. She has been working in our area with many of the top plastic surgeons since 2009. I trust her completely and ask her for advice on products on a weekly basis. I have had six HydraFacials with Brittany over the last 6-8 months (I go once a month now) and in addition to using medical grade skincare products on my skin and treatment with antibiotics she has helped me treat my hormonal acne and transform my skin from where it was in mid 2019. 

Let's jump into the Q&A!

What is a HydraFacial and what does it do for your skin?

It's a medical grade facial treatment using a three step process: cleansing, exfoliating and infusing. Replacing the formerly popular Microdermabrasion, Hydrabrasion is becoming the go-to as it's a gentler form of vacuuming out the pores. Estheticians are moving away from traditional microdermabrasion as we learn more about the possible adverse affects of aluminum oxide, which what the crystal are made from. The HydraFacial tips (which are single-use) are each designed for their own function. Using their patented vortex technology they swirl to both add serums and take away dirt and oil from the pores. Beyond the classic three steps, there are boosters that can be added on for specific skin concerns like sun damage, fine lines and overall improvement.

What makes HydraFacial different from another type of facial?

HydraFacial takes deep cleaning to the next level. HydraFacial deep cleans pores in a way that takes much less effort from your esthetician than a traditional facial. The delivery of serums into the skin really maximizes the penetration of ingredients. 

Average cost of a HydraFacial?

The average cost ranges from $150-250 depending on the location and add-ons. Luxury hotels often offer HydraFacial treatments at a premium but are not the medical grade serums used in a medical practice so bare in mind that when booking one. 

How often should you get a HydraFacial?

I recommend having a facial every 4-6 weeks to keep your skin in optimal condition. Discuss what treatment plan is right for you with your skincare professional. 

How to prepare for a HydraFacial and what are the limitations after?

Prior to having any facial treatments it's recommended to abstain from any retinoid for 2-3 days to limit sensitivity. After the treatment avoid actives in retinals, glycolic/salicylic acids or scrubs for 24 hours.

Can you get a HydraFacial while pregnant or nursing?

Yes you can. 

What other services do you offer?

I offer a wide array of services including HydraFacial, Dermaplaning, Chemical peels, and IPL (intensed pulse light) for brown spots and discoloration.

Product recommendations for different skin types?

I can't recommend a one size fits all, as everyone has specific needs however consultations are complementary and I am more than happy to help you customize your perfect regimen. One thing EVERYONE needs is SPF.  

Best way to get rid of a cystic pimple?

DO NOT PICK! Apply a salicyclic acid spot treatment and alternate with hydrocortisone cream. The cortisone has a low dose of steriod that will help shrink the cyst faster. 

I hope this Q&A is helpful for those had sent me questions. If you are local I highly recommend going to see Brittany if you have skin concerns and are looking for improvement. You can contact Dr. Pena's office (239-352-5554) to set up a visit with her. You can follow her on Instagram HERE and she also has an amazing YouTube channel you can find HERE

I hope this was helpful! If you still have questions don't hesitate to reach out {} or you can message me on instagram

Friday, November 22, 2019

Christmas Pictures 2019

My outfit
Shirt // Jeans // David Yurman Bracelet here and here // Lilly Pulitzer Bracelet // Lilly Pulitzer Earrings old similar here

Shane's outfit 
Sweater // Jeans 

Lawson's outfit 

Hello hello! 

Can you believe it is already time for Christmas photos and cards?!?! I cannot but I am so excited about it. The holidays and Christmas are my favorite times of the year and as stressful as family photos can be it is one of my very favorite things to do. 

This year I wanted a different location and vibe for the photos than we have previously done. As I shared on my Instagram we took our engagement photos at this location six years ago. I remembered using the pilings for photos and how great they turned out that I wanted to use this location for our photos this year. Lawson was definitely a but more challenging to work with this year. Last year Jillian our photographer would fake sneeze and he would laugh and smile right at the camera. As you can tell from a few photos he was giving us his serious face or looking off at other people on the beach. Jillian was able to capture some great shots of the whole family and I cannot wait to get some printed and framed for our house. 

I ordered our Christmas cards this week and they should arrive next week. I LOVE sending and receiving Christmas cards. I display the cards we receive in our entry way and I love looking at them throughout the holidays. 

Well I hope everyone has an amazing Thanksgiving and a very Merry Christmas! 

Thanks for stopping by.

xo, Alina

Photos by: Jillian Lee Photo

Friday, October 25, 2019

Sarah Flint Pop Up Shop NYC

Dress // Blazer // Belt {cheaper version I just bought} // Shoes // Coat

Hello and happy Friday!

Today I am sharing some photos from the Sarah Flint Pop Up shop that is currently open in Soho, NYC. I was incredibly flattered when their team reached out to me about becoming a Brand Ambassador and invited me to a night of R&R with Sarah and the other brand ambassadors. 

The Pop Up shop is gorgeous and one of my favorite bloggers Stacie Flinner actually helped Sarah bring her vision for the shop to life. The attention to detail, color scheme, and displayed mood boards were too good not to take some great photos. 

Sarah is an incredibly inspiring, hardworking woman who in my opinion is revolutionizing the shoe industry by creating affordable, comfortable and high quality shoes for women. After wearing my black Natalie flats all over the city and trying on a few pairs while at the event I have added so many styles to my "wish list". I love the Perfect Emma and you can see me wearing it in a few photos above. This shoe is insanely comfortable. It felt like I was wearing flats. I wear flats to my office most days and when I tried these on I was shocked. They are so comfortable but they also elongated my legs because of the shorter heel. 

I have another post coming that will go into greater detail about Sarah Flint, the brand and the shoes so keep an eye out for that. I am shooting photos for it this weekend. However, if you are very interested in purchasing a pair of shoes as an ambassador I have a code- ALINA45 that will get you $45 off your purchase! Whatever pair you chose you will have them for a very long time. I've said this before but when making bigger purchases I look at the cost per wear. If an item is high quality and lasts years your cost per wear is very low and essentially you've scored a great deal. Honestly, I have never seen shoes HANDMADE IN ITALY cost this little. I own two pairs of Louboutins and one pair of Valentino heels and neither are as comfortable as the Sarah Flint shoes I have tried. That is a big deal to me because those shoes cost significantly more!

While I was in NYC I was able to visit two of my very good friends and they showed me around the city. Below I shared some pictures from our day out. 

We went to Gallow Green for drinks and they had the coolest Fall decor! It was a gorgeous day in the city. Then before my event at the Pop Up shop we had a drink on their roof top. The views and sunset were incredible! I am so blessed to have been able to make this trip and also be able to spend some time with really special people. 

Also shout out to my friend Raegan for styling me up! She added the Gucci belt, coat and earrings to my assemble. Definitely made the look complete and chic in my opinion. 

Thanks for stopping in and see you back here real soon. 

xo, Alina 

Friday, October 4, 2019

Smile Brilliant cariPRO Electric Toothbrush Review & Giveaway

Hello and welcome back! 

Today I am sharing a review for a new product I have been using over the last few weeks. I enjoyed testing out Smile Brilliant's At Home Teeth Whitening System {blog post here} so much that when they reached out to ask if I would like to try their electric toothbrush, the cariPRO I happily agreed. Instead of solely reviewing this product on my own I asked my husband to help me out. When I received the tooth brush there were two toothbrush heads that came with it. That gave us both the opportunity to try it out and compare what we liked and disliked about the cariPRO toothbrush

What We Love:

We both agreed our favorite feature of the cariPRO toothbrush is the battery life. Once fully charged it can go up to 30 days without needing to be charged again. That coupled with the slim design of the toothbrush makes the cariPRO perfect for travel. 

We love the tongue scrubber on the back of the cariPRO's brush head. Neither of us have ever used a feature like that on an electric toothbrush so that was unique and functional. 

Shane's favorite's modes are "Clean" and "White" while mine is the "Sensitive" setting. We also love that there were so many different modes available. It definitely has something for everyone. 

The cariPRO is completely waterproof. Another great feature we didn't have on our old toothbrushes and makes multi-tasking even easier. We both love that you can brush while you shower. 

We also love that the cariPRO is affordable. For the set I received you would normally pay $119 compared to $180 an up for a Phillips Sonicare toothbrush without additional brush heads. If you are looking to try the cariPRO you can use my discount code - neapolitanblog20 - for 20% off! That would bring your total to under $100. An incredible value especially compared to the prices of other name brand toothbrushes. 

What We Didn't Love:

While there are definitely a lot of  qualities of the cariPRO that we enjoyed my husband did say that he prefers a more intense setting. He really liked the cariPRO but felt like it didn't brush "as hard" as his Sonicare. Now, I have the complete opposite opinion. I have sensitive gums and I preferred the cariPRO to my old toothbrush because the different settings were much more gentle but I still felt like my teeth were clean. 


We both agreed that we would recommend this toothbrush to family and friends because of the many features we love. The long lasting battery, tongue scrubber, and waterproof design were all features we didn't currently have with our other electric toothbrushes. The price of the cariPRO is significantly better compared to other brands and for us that is always something we take into account. While it's important to have a quality toothbrush just because one brand cost more doesn't make it better.


Smile Brilliant was kind enough to offer to giveaway one cariPRO electric toothbrush to my readers. If you would like to enter the giveaway you can do at this LINK

I hope you found this review to be informative and if you have any questions please drop me a message! Don't forget to check out Smile Brilliant's cariPRO if you are in the market for a new  toothbrush. 

Thanks for stopping by!

xo, Alina