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My Acne Ride or Die: D’Ran Wonder Tea Tree Essence Review

D’ran is a Korean dermatological brand whose products rely on many natural herbal ingredients to deliver results. The D’ran Wonder Tea Tree Essence contains a powerful 5% concentration of Tea Tree Oil, in addition to several other nutritive and hydrating powerhouse ingredients.

This essence is supposed to help with a multitude of skin woes, most notably acne and excess sebum, but also with tone/textural issues like scarring and PIH. While the product focuses on “natural effectiveness,” it also boasts suitability for sensitive skin.

The brand claims that this product is multi-functional, meaning that it can potentially be used on the scalp to help manage dandruff and irritation while providing nourishment. I have only ever used this on my face and neck, so I can’t speak for this product’s effectiveness when used in this manor.

Ingredients:

Water, Butylene Glycol, Salix Alba (Willow) Bark Extract, Origanum Vulgare Leaf Extract, Chamaecyparis Obtusa Leaf Extract, Lactobacillus/Soybean Ferment Extract, Cinnamomum Cassia Bark Extract, Scutellaria Baicalensus root Extract, Portulaca Oleracea Extract, Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Extract, Centella Asiatica Extract, Alcohol, Niacinamide, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Extract, Ammonium Acryloydimethyltaurate/VP Copolymer, Sodium Hyaluronate, Glyceryl Caprylate, PEG-60 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Phenoxyethanol, Allantoin, Disodium EDTA, Xanthan Gum, Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Oil, Adenosine

Click here for the CosDNA analysis

Macadamia Seed Oil: improves skin elasticity and helps with moisture retention

Tea Tree Leaf Extract/Oil: a classic anti-acne ingredient, but it also has anti-inflammatory properties

Meadowfoam Seed Oil, Argan Oil, Jojoba Seed Oil: all are highly moisturizing. Meadowfoam can help strengthen the skin barrier (skin protective ingredient) as the oil closely resembles human sebum. Argan Oil has nutritive properties that can lend a healthy glow to the skin. Jojoba Seed Oil has soothing properties in addition to being highly moisturizing.

Vitamin E: a deeply hydrating ingredient with antioxidant and smoothing properties.

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D’ran Wonder Tea Tree Essence also contains a few of my favorite ingredients, namely both the whitening/brightening niacinamide and deeply hydrating sodium hyaluronate (hyaluronic acid).

A quick heads up that this product does contain alcohol which can be irritating to some. Tea Tree can also be known to sting a little when first applied (like Vitamin C).

The Results:

I’m nearly through my second bottle of this essence and have been very happy with the results. For my skin, this product’s main draw is its anti-acne properties, but before I began delving into using prescription-strength actives, also one of the most helpful products in terms of reducing red marks/PIH.

Tea Tree is a very old, time-tested, acne fighting ingredient, and at a 5% concentration, unlike many tea tree products, this essence’s concentration is high enough to actually yield results. It helps prevent the formation of acne without drying out or irritating the skin. After a little over two weeks of consistent, twice daily use, I began seeing a decrease in the number and severity of spots, especially around my ever-acne-prone chin/jaw area.

I had some very mild pockmarked areas on my cheeks and a lot of PIH from over a year’s struggle with adult acne to contend with. After finishing about 2/3 of my first bottle of this essence, much of my PIH had lightened from deep red/purple to a light pink/brown. Some of the less severe PIH wasn’t even visible anymore! I also noticed that my skin was a lot smoother in the pockmarked areas, to the point that it was no longer noticeable at all with minimal makeup on, and only visible with no makeup on to those hunting for it.

I started using actives around the time I finished my first bottle of this essence, and I think the results of this product in terms of skin lightening/texture are comparable to most 8% AHA’s, but it may take an extra month or two for this product to show the same results.

However, even though most actives may work a little quicker than this essence, this essence isn’t anywhere near as drying (or as finicky-no pH or wait times to worry about!), and also delivers superior anti-acne benefits to regular AHA/BHA products. Its only drawback is potential stinging/burning. Just like most actives (think Vitamin C) and anti-acne products, any sensitive area (like sunburn) or open wound/acne is going to sting and/or burn slightly upon application. It is not severe by any means and quickly dissipates after a few minutes, but it is something to consider if sensitive skin is an issue.


I am now steadily working through my second bottle of this D’ran Tea Tree Wonder Essence, and am still impressed with how helpful it is in managing acne, and even more so, with its gentleness. Even in combination with a prescription-strength treatment, it still does not dry out my skin, and has been vital in helping manage my roller-coaster skin purging experience(s). I continue to see my skin’s texture evening and smoothing out with continual use, which may be in part due to the heavy-hitting active I am using, but given the results of my first bottle, I know this essence is helping those results along as well.

Some other perks worth mentioning include the super-sanitary pump bottle packaging, the sturdy glass bottle, and the lack of smell. There is also no wait time, pH adjustment, or photo-sensitivity to worry about. It is also amazingly quick to absorb, and other products can easily be added on top of this product-including makeup (no balling, fuzzing, etc).

Rating: 2-a solid part of my routine for now πŸ™‚

Rating Scale:

1:Holy Snails! Its a Holy Grail!

2:Current-routine worthy (would buy again unless I found something better)

3:Meh, it was worth a try

4: Bleh, this was terrible. Don’t buy this. Ever.

 

The Great Italy Cloth Experiment|Create Your Own K-Spa at Home!

Photo Credit:Soko Glam


Ever since Charolette Cho gave a rundown of jimjilbang (Korean spas) in her book, The Little Book of Skincare, I’ve had a serious case of the wanderlusties. 
I’d love to be planning a trip right now to go visit one and indulge in all the hot herbal baths, cold plunges, and suanas, all while munching on killer Korean delicacies, but no, no naengmyun and patbingsoo in a hot tub for me.

Ironically, out of the all the glorious assortments of treatments, the simplest one caught my eye: the K-spa body scrub.

  Even when there are clay suanas with literally a warm clay bubble pit to bury yourself in, I’m all for having a person in, (I must quote Cho as she says it best) “maximum-coverage black granny panties” scrub my entire body down with an Italy cloth until little grey pills of dead skin fall off. Jade steam room? Nah, not when I could be scrubbed!

Now, it’s not the granny panties drawing me in here, it’s the level of exfoliation that happens with these aforementioned Italy cloths. Cho in her book, and a large number of people on the Interweb, always recount and emphasize the ridiculous amount of dead skin sloughed off their bodies with these babies.

Large balls of dead skin coming off my body? Where do I sign up?

Photo Credit:Lipstick Alley…this is exactly what happens…but EVERYWHERE!


Since a trip to NYC or Seoul is not exactly in my budget, I went about acuring the next best thing to this K-spa treatment a la broke college girl: Amazon. Two days later and a package of 8 Italy cloths were in my greedy paws.

While it’s true that you can just stand in a piping hot shower for a few minutes, get to work, and see some results, for maximum effectiveness (and skintertainment), it’s best to soak in a bath with water as hot as you can stand it anywhere from 15/30 minutes to an hour. By soaking in hot water, dead skin has a chance to soften and separate from the healthy skin below. The longer you allow this to happen, the more skin can come off.

I boiled myself in the tub for a solid 45 minutes before letting the Italy cloth anywhere near my skin. Go big or go home is the motto here. What Cho and everyone else was saying was delightfully true. Big grey balls of dead skin were just rolling off like some sort of giant Baby Foot peel for the entire body.

Photo Credit: XO Vain…cuz I sure as hell aint taking a picture of me in the bath!


I’m not exactly a walking callous, but man, this thing made my skin feel INCREDIBLE! I lost about a small child’s worth of dead skin off my legs alone, and the remaining skin on my body was that of a newborn’s behind. Like, I won’t ever need to moisturize again type of soft.

Where have these things been all my life?

It also made everything very shiny as well-another side effect of the scrub people always mention.

Photo Credit: eBay


Since I got the green type of towels-the roughest- most people recommend to use them only on the body and not on the face. I very gently (key words here) used it on my face with a ton of foaming cleanser. The results were again, amazing and baby soft, but I definitely agree: if something is rough enough to take off my foot skin with ease, it really shouldn’t go anywhere near that delicate facial skin. 

So while I don’t have some auntie in black granny panties scrubbing me down until my skin is redder than a strawberry, I can still achieve that enviable softness at home on the cheap. For skin this soft and shiny, these things are well worth the 5.49$.

Dry Skin Makeup Tips for a Flawless Face

Photo Credit: You Beauty


Between combating plunging temperatures outside, and battling artificial heating inside, even the oilyest of skin can start to dry out..and dry skin only spells disaster for a full face of foundation.
Base makeup of any sort clings to the tiniest of flakes and quickly starts looking cakey and gross. Plus, unlike a pimple or dark spot, you can’t conceal dry patches or rough texture; you have to actually fix the problem to get rid of it.

As someone with chronically dry (not to mention sensitive) skin, I’ve tried all sorts of things to keep my makeup looking smooth and flawless, without having to cake it on or having it separate a few hours later. Here are my tips for a flawless face when your face starts flaking off:

Start with the Skin

Photo Credit: Geekyposh-That rabbit knows what’s up πŸ˜‚


-exfoliate regularly and before big events to provide a smooth, flake-free canvas (be sure to hit areas like your hairline, jawline, the corners of your mouth, and the sides of your nose-all easily missed spots for flakes). 

My recommendations: Cure Natural Aqua Gel (chemical), Ettang Peeling and Soothing Mask (chemical-kill two birds with one stone and get deep moisture after peeling!), Skinfood Black Sugar Wash-off Mask (physical)

-moisturize regularly and before big events to plump, hydrate, and nourish skin. Sleeping packs, wash-off hydrating masks, and sheet masks are all super helpful, especially if used right before makeup application.

My recommendations: CosRX Brightening Rice Overnight Spa Mask, Ladykin Affinitic Lifting Cream, Goodall Barrier Cream, Etude House Moistful Collagen Cream

Prime Time

-Emollient primers help smooth down rough patches and flakes 

My recommendations: NYX Pore Filler, Benefit Porefessional

-If you find that your makeup tends to separate, make sure your primer and base makeup are either both oil-based or both water-based. Much like salad dressing, oil and water don’t mix. Oil breaks down makeup (exhibit A why oil cleansers are so effective) so choose and match your formulations carefully. You may find it best to skip a primer all together!

Laying the Foundation

Photo Credit: A Piece of Toast


-Sheer foundations, serum-style foundations, and “dewy” finish foundations will be more hydrating than medium-full coverage foundations and matte finishes, which can be more drying.

My recommendations: Bare Minerals Serum Foundation, 3W Clinic BB cream, Urban Decay Naked Foundation

-A damp beauty blender will pick up excess product so you use as little product as possible to get the job done. Less product means less flake-clinging-grossness. 

*By using a beauty blender to dab on foundation and not buffing product in with a brush, you prevent micro exfoliation which can lift up dead skin flakes and further irritate skin.

*Damp beauty blenders also emulate a popular skincare practice in Korea where the hands are used to pat in water left from the shower into the facial skin instead of wiping the face with a towel. A damp beauty blender is dabbing water into the skin, hydrating it much the same way.
-Patting on product in several different directions in the same area helps to keep the product from settling into fine lines and clinging to dry spots. In the eye area and smile line area, it will help prevent creasing.

-Reach for creamy, buttery formulations of things like blushes and highlighters over powders. They tend to smooth over dryness instead of sticking to and highlighting it. 

These are the main things that have really helped me achieve a more flawless face even in the middle of wintertime. Proper skin maintainence to prevent this problem in the first place is of course the best thing you can do to ensure consistently good makeup, but sometimes our skin needs a helping hand to look the best it can πŸ™‚

Novemeber MEGA Haul+Rose Rose Shop Mini-Review

Well, this year is sure going by fast! Christmas will be here soon and it’ll be over before we all know it. Quite frankly, I’m a little miffed that it’s already November, but it’s still 80 F outside πŸ˜“ 

But speaking of Christmas, I’ve already blown my budget and gotten er, quite a few, um, “totally necessary” AB products from several sources. (I have no will power, what can I say?) X-mas has arrived a month early for me everyone. Now, to pay my bills 😰

Anyway, here’s a brief preview of a some of what I got:

Oh Photography, how I detest thee…let my count the ways


My skin can be quite sensitive, and for sake of my skin and 100% honest and accurate reviews, each of these products (that I’m *dying* to try) will have to be patch tested and introduced one by one. Ooh, such a test of patience!


See anything I should do first?

I’m so excited about all these quite different (for me anyway) products; I literally was jumping around a squealing like a middle school girl going to a Beiber concert when this package arrived. It’s one of two very special orders 😜

Being a regular lurker on the r/asianbeauty community (I know I should join, I know), I’ve heard A LOT about Rose Rose Shop, but had never strayed to far from my beloved Memebox to place my orders. When I ran low on a bunch of my regular skin products, I decided it was time to not only try some new brands and products, but why not order from somewhere new too?

This jump really paid off. I’ve always relied on Amazon for samples or major Memebox sales to try products out without committing to a full sized bottle along with its full price. Rose Rose Shop is basically my new favorite place to buy because they have hundreds of not only skincare, but also makeup samples, available for  next to nothing! We’re talking maybe 0.50-1$ for a package of 10 pouches (most of which, like in the case of the Etude House collagen cream, is equal to half the product in the full-size but for waaaay much less money). I was able to stock up on products and brands I wouldn’t normally try in sample form without completely braking the bank! It really allowed me to break my own mold πŸ™‚

The other great thing is that there is a very (VERY) large selection of full-sized products available for wallet-friendly  prices. While this first order was mainly samples so I could (ideally) find new, cheaper, better favorites without forking over my entire life savings, I will definitely be returning to this site for any full-sizes I might want in the future.

Of course, overseas shipping is where the best of deals tend to die, but the trick with Rose Rose Shop seems to be to first fill your cart with all the heavier, full-sized products, find your weight teir/fee, then stock up on samples until you tip the weight limit all the way to the top of the teir.

The idea is to get the most bang for your buck with shipping, so if the teir is for example, 30$ for packages between, say, 1-3 pounds (I’m totally making this info up; don’t quote me on it), then why pay 30$ in shipping for a 1lb package if you could still pay 30$ in shipping and get 3lbs of stuff? Yes, you still have to pay for the additional products to hit the high end of the weight teir, but take advantage where you can!

This is why I wouldn’t recommend this site for small purchases, but it seems to be excellent for bigger hauls/group orders.

Having ordered things from overseas before, waiting a loooonnngg time for your stuff is something I’m accustomed to. Basically, I order it, check the tracking number in agony for a few days, then give up on it arriving within the next three months, only to be presently surprised in the mail a month and a half later, nearly having forgotten placing the order (#firstworldprobs).

With at least this first order from Rose Rose Shop, I was impressed with the quick processing time (3 days!), then the tracking number  came, my package didn’t move for a few days, and I prepared myself to wait for a long time. 

However, on a random evening trek out to my mailbox to collect the usual bundle of bills, flyers, and presidential election nonsense, my package was there! When I had thought it was still on the other side of the world! A grand total of 10 days-I was *thoroughly* impressed! 

This lightening quickness may have been a fluke, but I’d like to think not πŸ™‚ 

Another perk of ordering skincare from a) overseas and b) Rose Rose Shop is the samples generosity. With my nearly 80% samples order, I still received a large bundle of additional samples from Berrisom and another brand I don’t know or recognize (time to learn Korean I guess πŸ˜…). This is something I wish stores here did-I personally think it’s an amazingly effective way to market. Try the product for low cost/free, like it, buy it. After all, it’s what I’m really doing with this particular order if you look at it!

Bottom line: Yes, I would recommend. 

Why?: sample galore,large inventoy, cheap product prices, quick processing and shipping time

I’m always so excited to try new products and (over)indulge my inner skincare junkie! 
Is there anything you’d recommend for me to try first?

What are you excited for this month?


And does anyone know what this product may be?

Etude House Bubble Tea Sleeping Pack: What Happens When You Buy Skincare Based on its Packaging

It’s no secret that Etude House’s packaging brings me (and my wallet) to my knees. But that’s about it. With the exception to their Moistful Collagen line, I have yet to find more than an handful of products by them whose formulation is worthy of repurchase. From their makeup to their skincare, I buy based on looks alone, knowing I’ll be smiling at it every morning while reaching for something else.

That being said, the bubble tea sleeping pack gets a holy grail for cuteness, but two thumbs down for actual product.

image

It was surprisingly smaller than I had expected…

I knew going in that this product would 99.9% not be anything mind-blowingly amazing for my skin, but went ahead and purchased the pink, “strawberry” flavor meant for moisturizing dry skin. There is also a green tea version meant to help with acne and oiliness, as well as  a black tea one to help with firmness.

The product itself is a pink that would make Elle Woods swoon, and smells like “strawberries” as well (as in the chemical attempt at strawberries fresh from farm to table).

image

The bubbles in the bubble tea are a majorly cute selling point, but a total pain in the butt in real life. They are supposed to be broken and mixed in with the moisturizer, but they are super hard to squash open, and they don’t mix in much with the lotion, so when applying it, chunks of bubble wind up stuck in your eyebrows or drying on your cheek. It’s gross to say the least. Especially because of the dark brown color. At least this is meant to be worn at night where not too many will see you with “bubble tea face.”πŸ˜… 

And for something meant for intensive dry skin care, this doesn’t moisturize much more than a regular hydrating toner or emulsion. The first night of testing, I applied this in lieu of my regular nighttime routine (like you can with most sleeping packs), and the next morning, my skin looked as if I hadn’t done anything the night before. Next night, same thing. Not okay.

I gave my skin a night of recovery, then applied the sleeping pack over my routine the night after. The next morning, no added hydration, plumpness, smoothness, or anything remotely resembling the common effects of a sleeping pack. Didn’t even seem to help seal in my other products.

Even when demoted to a regular, daily moisturizer, it’s effects are limited, if not non-existent. Pretty much, this product has been totally worthless in terms of my dry skin routine. I have toners-TONERS- that moisturize just as well as this supposed “sleeping pack.” (Sorry, Etude House 😒)

image

One perk is how the spoon attached directly to the lid-I need more of this is my life!

All in all, I wasn’t expecting much from the actual product itself, but this was a bit worse than what I had braced myself for. My skin has needs that this product certainly doesn’t meet like I’ve come to expect a sleeping pack to. At least it didn’t cause any breakouts or irritation! Frankly, I just love looking at this thing on my vanity, and am racing to use up the product so I can find a better use for the cuteness…maybe it can house all my other plastic spoons I use to scoop out products that actually work 😜

Well, now my feet, elbows, and knees are getting some bubble tea action because this stuff certainly doesn’t belong on my face…

The Verdict:

In terms of looks:

1-Holy Grail…cuz bubble tea is just too dang cute!

In terms of actual product:

3-a solid “meh.” Definitely won’t be repurchasing for the product (but gosh I love the cup container and could surely use one in every color lol!) Maybe the other “flavors” are better, but I highly doubt it. Right now, it’s a hella cute foot cream for me πŸ™‚

I hear that many people love their bubble tea sleeping packs-are you one of them? What flavor do you have?

Favorite 5 Cutest Halloween Kbeauty Products of October

HAPPY HALLOWEEN! πŸŽƒπŸ‘»πŸ

October has to be one of the most fun months of the year! From the best of fall weather being in full-bloom to everything spooky and frightening coming out to play for Halloween, October is always chock full of the cute and the creepy!

Your skincare routine can also join in on the fun with some of these Halloween-themed products!



Phyto Tree Pumpkin Magic Moisture Cream

A moisturizing cream that contains deeply hydrating pumpkin extract to help skin feel soothed and soft. Pumpkin is a great ingredient to keep skin plump and moist even in dry conditions. It’s also a great ingredient for those with sensitive skin!



Too Cool For School Pumpkin Sleeping Pack

Another pumpkin product great for deep moisturizing overnight! It’s consistency is a cross between a cream and a gel, and is deliciously thick. And of course it comes in the sort of amazing packaging we all have come to expect from Too Cool for School.



Ladykin Vanpir Dark Repair Cream

This is an intense moisturizing cream that contains the resin of Croton Lechleri (aka Dragon’s Blood plant) to help nourish, repair, and regenerate skin. It also contains other herbal extracts like Camellia Sinensis Leaf and Papaya to help soothe and strengthen skin while fading acne scars and treating existing blemishes. If you wish to look forever young (like a vampire!), this cream may be for you!



April Skin Mummy Mud Mask

All the benefits of a mud mask without all the mess! It tightens pores while managing excess sebum and drawing out toxins and  impurities. The secret? Pure Hawaiin clay. You’re one mask away from healthier, more even skin.

Candy O’Lady Little Witch Candy Mask

Enjoy all your favorite things about Halloween all in one mask! Witches, candy, and glowing skin! This mask brightens, protects, and re-vitalizes the skin. It also is made of microfiber which adheres closely to the skin, which helps in delivering moisture and nutrients more effectively and quickly deep into the skin.

Aren’t these products just super cute? I want them all on my vanity to get into the spooky Halloween spirit all-year round! What have you been loving this month?

Curology Month Four|Doxycycline for Acne

Photo Credit: Curology (I can’t think of any more ways to photograph the same bottle so I’m leaving it to the pros)


Originally, I wasn’t going to continue a month by month update of my adventures with Curology, but after the reformulation (and results) of my prescription, I feel it may be beneficial to those hesitant or just starting out with Curology (or prescription strength actives in general) to keep on with these monthly recaps.

For those of you who don’t know, my prescription swapped out azelaic acid for zinc pyrithione to help with the excruciating dryness as well as provide another form of anti-acne help. I also went under a 30 day regime of the antibiotic doxycycline which would help clear up acne from the inside plus help prevent another bout of purging. My prescription still has the same amount of niacinamide and clindamycin as before.

Frankly, given the results I’ve seen in just a month, I’ll let the pictures do most of the talking for me:

Probably the grossest collage I’ll ever make 😞 While the lighting is a bit different, I must say my brightening products are working hard!


I’ve had really (REALLY) stubborn acne that seriously won’t kick the bucket for almost a year now, but between nightly use of this new Curology prescription and twice daily doses of doxycycline, it’s as subdued as its ever been in too long a time.

Another equally as awesome thing from this new script is its sebum balancing properties. Three months of azelaic acid really took a toll on my already naturally dry skin, taking it from almost normalized to borderline dehydrated. After four weeks away from azelaic acid, and some moisturizer TLC, my skin is almost back to its pre-Curology state. 

Perhaps I owe credit to the doxycycline, but I did not purge again despite the prescription reformulation. 

My derm also suggested using a diluted water-vinegar mixture to help dry out those spots. I applied it morning and evening right after my toning step, and while it smelled less than pleasant, I’m pleased to say this homemade DIY really did the job. After about 2-3 days of doing this morning and night, spots would dry right up without much left over redness.

For those of you curious about going on antibiotics to help with acne, doxycycline is very commonly prescribed to work on this problem.

I am by no means a doctor or expert, but this was my personal experience with using doxycycline for acne.

Just like any antibiotic or drug in general, people complain about all sorts of side effects. I knew beforehand I can be a bit sensitive to the effects of antibiotics so I did a couple things to avoid a miserable month. 

-I took it on a full stomach…as in after a real meal, not just a bite of an apple or something. This really helped in eliminating upset stomach problems which I am highly prone to on antibiotics.

-I also ate yogurt daily to keep things as balanced as possible internally. I find that yogurt bacteria tends to work better than the same bacteria in pill form to fight, er, infections and keep you feeling normal stomach-wise. It’s also a bit cheaper πŸ˜…

-I set an alarm on my phone to remind me to not only take the pill, but take it at the same time each morning and night. It prevented me from missing doses and also kept the drug levels more even/regular in my blood stream (I do this for all medications).

-Water: it’s good for you, good for your skin, good for when your taking antibiotics.

*in case you’re curious: during the 30 days of doxycycline, pimples on my body (you know, the occasional back zit or whatever…I’m human ok?) didn’t show up at all. It worked body wide so if backne or the like is a problem for you, this may help! Talk to someone qualified πŸ™‚
Overall, I feel that without the doxycycline my skin would have purged again and it would not have cleared up like it did. Zinc pyrithione helps more with sebum balance than directly attacking acne so I doubt I would have seen such improvement! 

I’m glad to finally be getting both my stubborn af acne as well as my crazy dryness under control. Both of these issues are the bane of my skin’s existence, and if I can conquer these things for good, then my battle is basically won πŸ™‚

If you’d like to try Curology for yourself, please use my invite link to get your first month FREE (and give me a small credit😘). 

Curious about my old script with azelaic acid? You can read all about it in my month one, two, and three updates.

For just a month, this is definitely not bad at all!