Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Some days feel like Christmas morning, even when it's April. It's been feeling like that for months now. I wake excited, giddy with anticipation with just the slightest bit of nervous butterflies and eyes wild like a child. I go about my days feeling like I have some sort of secret that I am just bursting to unveil.
I have spent the last few years creating a truly luxurious family of skin care products and now that the recipes are fully tweaked, the packaging is in final proofing stage and I've fully invested my nest egg, it's time to leap.
I strongly believe it is more important to be conscious of what you do not put on your skin rather than what you do. That said, I also believe that luxury skincare can offer an experience for your senses that goes far beyond simply getting clean.
I formulated my line using all natural, ethically sourced organic and fair trade raw ingredients from all around the world. The idea was to bottle nutrition and stimulation for your skin, designed to heal and harmonize, awaken and enliven the skin's own natural radiance.
More importantly, it's about creating a space to take time for yourself - to indulge in something delicious a few minutes each day to recharge, refuel, and acknowledge our own delightful goodness.
The line is free of petrochemicals, parabens, chemical preservatives and artificial ingredients. It is gluten free, vegan, non GMO and cruelty free. I have incredibly high standards about what I am doing. I literally created this line one raw ingredient at a time in my home studio - no scientists, no chemists, no outside labs, no business people, no generics I plastered my name to.
I have been a one woman operation up to this moment. I'm opening up and beginning to form my team of passionate players.
A couple of years ago, this was just a flicker of an idea and now I am looking at label proofs and setting up meetings with buyers and thinking about things like spreadsheets and marketing and sales (entirely foreign territory!).
There has already been a lot of interest in what I am doing, companies and individuals reaching out to me wanting to support and involve themselves. It's incredibly encouraging and I am overwhelmed with gratitude.
For years I made skincare for myself because I battle with chemical sensitivities and was consistently let down by what I found in the marketplace. I had no idea the blends I threw together in my kitchen would evolve into something bigger, something that would make me take the leap and start my own company. It's a scary, but incredibly invigorating feeling to be where I am right now.
It's April 12th and it's Christmas morning. The gifts are abundant and I am so incredibly blessed. Thank you for sharing in my journey.
Thursday, March 17, 2011
As a newlywed, I can't deny that I've had baby on the brain at least a little bit as well. But what really has my attention is the massive amount of bath products aimed towards our little ones. The plethora of bubbling, foaming, highly scented and colored bottles offered up are tempting buys as there are few things cuter than the sight of a baby splashing around in a super sudsy bath. But is it healthy?
The answer is no.
Small children do not produce body odor the way that teenagers and adults do. While it is important to keep your baby clean and fresh for both of your comfort, sponge baths are the ideal choice especially in the infant stage. Sink and tub baths can also be great and water alone is the perfect way to rinse away nearly any smell creating mess.
If your baby has dry skin, add a drop or two of apricot, olive or another pure and gentle oil to the water. Soap is largely unnecessary if you are washing away food, milk and spit up with a soft cloth or sponge. Babies love splashing in clear water that doesn't irritate eyes too!
Soaps and shampoos in bathwater can irritate sensitive skin and aggravate baby eczema and psoriasis. Bubble baths have been linked to urinary tract infections so some experts recommend avoiding them until your child is at least 3 years old. Bubble bath formulas, as well as strong soaps that contain deodorants or potent scents, can irritate the opening of your baby's urethra if the soap is not rinsed off completely. "This makes it painful to urinate so the child ends up holding the urine and voiding incompletely, which can lead to UTIs," says Shelly J. King, a pediatric urology nurse practitioner at the James Whitcomb Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis.
If you can't resist the bubbles or have one of those super dirty days where water alone just won't cut it, Dr. Bronner and California Baby both offer fantastic options for bathtime:
Saturday, February 26, 2011
A Beauty Treatment That Will Make Anyone Feel Like a Balinese Princess
After jumping back to a life full of stressors and to-do lists, I daydream of hopping a plane back to Indonesia where I recently spent my honeymoon receiving $10 massages, soaking in bathtubs filled with aromatic frangipani blossoms, and being in the focused care of Agung—the master body worker whose magic hands knew just how to melt me into a very happy pile of pink putty. I was in married bliss, but the beauty treatments in Bali could take anyone to cloud nine. But the good news is, creating a taste of these ancient beauty rituals is easy and fun!
Since as far back as 800 AD, Indonesian healers created recipes using the herbs and botanicals of their tropical forests and jungles to keep skin healthy and glowing. The queen of treatments is lulur—the spice and yogurt exfoliation and body polishing process practiced in the palaces of central Java since the 17th century. Balinese princesses were given the royal treatment each day for forty days prior to their wedding. Talk about a luxe introduction to married life!
The traditional ritual begins with a deep, full body Balinese-style oil massage.
Then comes the lulur paste - a four hundred year old tribal recipe rich in warming herbs and spices which helps stimulate blood circulation to promote a glowing complexion. This fragrant blend is rubbed over the entire body, sending heat into the cells and chasing away dead skin.
The ritual finishes with a spicy essential oil and milk bath traditionally decorated with several handfuls of fresh and deeply scented flower petals. Anyone would love to have this pampering experience every day for forty days or even one!
Follow the routine I’ve recreated for a delicious indulgence in the comfort of your own home.
1. Practice some serious self-love and treat your body to a rub down with your favorite massage oil. Better yet, blend up a quick batch of your own with virgin coconut oil and a few drops of essential oils of lavender, jasmine, ylang-ylang or sandalwood.
2. I came across several variations on the recipe for lulur. Here's my take on it (feel free to improvise with what you have available).
In a coffee grinder (or with a mortar and pestle if you're really ambitious), combine a mixture of 1 cup plain dry rice, 2 tsp. turmeric, 1 tsp. sandalwood powder (or 2 drops sandalwood essential oil), 2 tsp. clove, 2 tsp. cinnamon, 2 tsp. ginger, and 2 tsp. nutmeg. Pulverize to a fine powder before adding enough water to make a paste.
Spread over your entire body, taking at least fifteen minutes to fully love every limb and toe and curve.
3. Once the lulur has dried, exfoliate by firmly rubbing the paste off the body.
4. Rinse in the shower until the mixture is removed and then drench your wet skin with handfuls of natural yogurt or coconut milk.
5. Sink into a warm bath (flowers, salts, milk and essential oils encouraged!) and take note of how blessed you already are.
Monday, September 20, 2010
I couldn't resist sharing my new find..... I'm thigh deep in moving boxes for the eighth time in just over two years. This time I'm hoping to stay put for a bit. In the mean time, chaos ensues.
And what better to soothe the madness than a bit of chocolate? How about a truly yummy little tub of rich, super creamy, ultra-delicious chocolate pudding... that just happens to be dairy free, gluten free, soy free, low glycemic, nearly raw (their organic coconut milk has been pasteurized) and at only 124 happy little calories - an awesome treat no matter what your lifestyle is.
I am absolutely a dessert girl, and a picky one at that. I will always go for the most decadent item on the menu and consider low cal/low sugar/low anything in the dessert world equal to low flavor... highly unacceptable for the meal course that is all about decadence.
Stinkey Monkey (yup, that's there name!) does not disappoint. The four ounce tub is small, but not too small. Not cheap, but far less than most super hoity-toity raw/vegan/gluten free foods ($3.99 at my local market). And seriously big on flavor and texture - hard to do in even standard dairy/sugar puddings.
I'm impressed. It's luscious. Go get some.
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
Fairy tales are full of maidens with luxurious hair - long and glistening, full of body, blinding with shine and va-va-voom... with not a split end or dry spot in sight.
We all want it. I want it without having to work too hard for it. I am a no-fuss woman with little interest in hair dryers and zero time for rollers, irons, straighteners and the latest styling gadget.
I am a wash and wear woman who just wants this lion mane of mine to be longer, stronger and slightly less out of control if I let it go free. I haven't exactly reached a peaceful agreement with my feisty mid-back curls, but I'm getting closer.
There are actually lots of things you can do to optimize hair growth and overall vitality. Here's a handful of my favorites:
* Eat more spicy food. Capsaicin, the chemical that makes peppers spicy, has been shown to promote hair growth by mimicking natural human growth factors. As a pretty strong side bonus, this same compound causes an increase in your metabolic rate by raising body temperature, helping burn more calories immediately after a meal. Besides a slight uptick in metabolism, spicy foods also may increase feelings of satiety. Yum yum yum.
* Avoid shampoos with sodium laureth sulfate, benzophenone-3, benzyl alcohol, DMDM hydantoin, and sodium lauryl sulfate. These detergents and alcohols are hard on the hair, causing it to be dry and brittle. You want a gentle moisturizing or replenishing shampoo. My favorite is by Allafia, followed closely by anything from John Masters.
*Keeping your long hair moisturized is an absolute must. Commercial hot oil treatments are good depending on the purity of the oils used, but my preferred and super cheap natural alternative is a mixture of warm rosemary oil and olive oil worked into the hair and left for 45 minutes under a warm towel. Jojoba oil and coconut oil are also excellent options to moisturize dry hair.
* Have a bounty of biotin. Naturally occurring in nuts, oats, brewers yeast, rice, tomatoes, carrots, romaine, and chard, this vitamin's best-known dietary role is in hair and nail health, as a deficiency can cause hair loss and weak, brittle nails. Sometimes called Vitamin H, biotin is actually one of the B-Vitamins. It is very important in cell growth and the production and metabolism of fatty acids, also playing a solid role in maintaining blood sugar and the body's energy level.
* Give yourself a scalp massage. They increase circulation, helping to stimulate your hair follicles as well as easing stress which is a major contributor to slowing growth and a countless number of other ills. Take your time, enjoy the experience... or better yet, have a friend of lover lend a hand and do a trade!
Eat well. Breath deep. Love yourself.
And watch your own fairy tale self be revealed!
Saturday, April 24, 2010
At sunrise this morning I was neck deep in warm turquoise waters, dancing with the lapping waves that lick the shores here in the British Virgin Islands. I apparently have a one track mind, even here in paradise (and clearly that track is set full time to the celebration of healthy beauty!). Can I just remind you the wonders of sea salt for your skin!
I am only three days into my little getaway and already my entire self is rejoicing. There is simply something magical and healing about time spent in the ocean. On an emotional level, you cannot help but unwind, to let go and melt into the rocking embrace of the pulsing current. With this kind of release comes deeper breathing, increased circulation and blood flow and a flood of happy hormones.
The mineral dense salts from the sea can provide a great exfoliation for your whole body and the fine grains can be used as a polisher for your facial skin. As a soak, salts deliver relief to aching muscles and various skin conditions - dryness, itching, flaking, scaling, dullness. I've seen great results with persistent psoriasis, eczema, skin infections and irritations, even bug bites! And all of that, ladies and gents, says bring it on to a radiant complexion and a healthy and happy you!
I am all about any excuse for a good soak and there is nothing quite like hopping into the sea. However, you can easily replicate some of these benefits in your own home. My top three favorites:
1. A good old fashioned salt soak. Simply drop a few cups of good sea salts or magnesium rich epsom salts into your hot bathwater, give it a swirl and stew away.
2. Scrub it up. Fill a small bowl with a fistful of salt and a generous drizzle of olive oil, blend with your hands and then treat yourself to a full body massage. Either follow with a quick rinse in the shower (leaving the oils to do their job quenching your thirsty skin) or enhance the benefits further with a follow up tub soak.
3. For ocean spray on the go - fill a small spritzer bottle with a few teaspoons of fine salt dissolved in water (or a flower hydrosol is lovely!), shake rigorously and mist throughout the day (over your moisturizer) to revive skin and fool yourself into vacation mode. Try it before bed as a skin treatment or in your hair for the best beachy mane texture.
Sunday, April 18, 2010
One of the very first items I replaced in my bath and beauty arsenal when I started becoming more aware of the impact my personal care items were having on my wellness was toothpaste.
For years, I would develop a persistent redness and flaking around my nose and mouth that I eventually discovered was a sensitivity to toothpaste ingredients (as it turns out, this is a very commonly seen symptom in dermatology). I tried a number of health and planet conscious options - from straight baking soda to tubes of tasteless putty to soapy Dr. Bronners straight onto the brush.
My goal was to find a cleanser for my teeth that actually made me feel clean, tasted good (nothing that would prevent me from being kissed immediately after!), was uncomplicated and didn't break the bank. I also absolutely insist on no fluoride and no Sodium Lauryl Sulfate. It is quite the challenge finding a toothpaste without either of these two standard ingredients and to find one I actually like - a true feat!
Finally, success! I came across Jason Sea Fresh at Whole Foods Market, an all-natural sea-sourced toothpaste, this formula is made with certified organic blue green algae, sea salts and trace minerals. Not only that, it contains three natural whitening polishers to gently prevent plaque build up - bamboo powder, calcium carbonate and silica. Anti-bacterial grapefruit seed extract and perilla seed extract help block sugar acids and bacteria from forming in your mouth. Certified organic aloe vera gel soothes and relieves gums from irritation, and essential oils of mint bring the deep-sea spearmint flavor. Yum!