Sunday, January 24, 2010

What's YOUR secret?

I'll admit, I get asked this all of the time.

As an "aspiring to be former" model (on a great big mission to switch to the other side of the camera and give healthy beauty a whole new meaning!), I do not always blend in with the scenery. I worked for years in front of the camera, quite often as just a face, a blank palette for cosmetics and the vision of makeup artists and photographers and art directors and so on.

Needless to say, my SKIN has been a full time project for years. It has always been imperative that I be in the best condition possible or risk not having food on the table that month. In an industry as fickle as fashion, this was not vanity - it was survival in the career path I was skipping along.

When asked about my personal regimen now, it is often paired with "well, you're a Model -of course your skin is perfect!" or "Genetics, right? I'm sure you've always had great skin", etc. etc. etc.

Let me tell you something.

I work at it.


It has most certainly gotten easier over the years as I've learned to be healthier inside which is reflected outside, to eat properly, get off artificial hormones (birth control, animal products), lead an active physical life, practice self love (I am a glorious and glowing woman!) and other hippy-dippy things, and entirely switched over my personal care items and cosmetics to the squeakiest side of clean.

It takes all of this. No compromises. You have to tell yourself that you are worth it and then follow through with what exactly that means.

I have not always been a model, or even considered beautiful in the traditional sense. I was an awkward kid like most I've found in this industry - Shy, introverted, socially inept, too smart for my own good and dancing clumsily to the beat of my own drum.
In junior high I was the really uncool girl the popular guys would date as a joke to be funny. Oh yes, hilarious times.

And then at eighteen my family history of seriously awesome skin conditions decided to show me I was part of the crew - psoriasis, eczema, dermatitis, mysterious rashes, blisters, scaling, itching, bleeding madness. I had always had little patches that hinted I too would have this battle to fight, but in 2001 all hell broke loose and I was covered literally head to toe with a hot, burning, itching, scaly rash that resembled red camouflage over nearly ever inch of my body.

In grocery store lines small children would point at my exposed alien arms and ask their mothers what was wrong with me. I would hide my deteriorating face and try not to cry because the salt would sting in my open wounds.

Doctors and dermatologists and expensive visits with specialists yielded no results and no answers.
Finally, through a long process of blood and allergy tests (and rounds of antibiotics and steroids in high doses that provided immediate relief followed by a far greater return to an even worse reaction) and living practically in a bubble for a while as I learned through elimination, I discovered that the vast majority of my issues (beyond genetic predisposition) were largely environmental.

I was allergic to my life and the state of our planet. I had just moved to Los Angeles (from super green Minnesota) where my body was experiencing shock over the high levels of pollution and contaminants in the air, catapulting my immune system into a frenzy and sending my skin into a state of hypersensitivity where I was forced to become very aware of how all the little things in my world were contributing to my state of unwell - my cosmetics, cleaning supplies, shampoos and soaps and lotions and toothpaste, food I was eating, the paints I used when teaching my art class... Everything was making me sick, and giving due credit to vanity, making me feel and look far from pretty.

Over the next several years I switched out one product at a time, altering my lifestyle and slowly healing with each step along the way. Two years into the process, my once spiderweb patterned skin was unrecognizable. I still had red patches around my nose and mouth, occasional spots and flaking on my hands and tiny scars that whispered my secret... but I no longer looked or felt foreign in my own skin.

I started modeling as a celebration and as a way to move back into my body, to make peace with my skin and my outlook on my own appearance.

Now, fully healed and ripe with passion on this subject, I am on a mission to share what I know. What could be easily viewed externally on my skin is happening inside of yours.
Just because you cannot always see it, does not mean it is not there. Direct links between an elevated risk of cancer, Alzheimer's disease, allergies, asthma, and so on and so on have been shown time and again with the use of standard cosmetics and beauty care items. This is no joke. It is no small thing. This is a terribly important subject that can no longer be ignored.






I live by this. From my toothpaste to my mascara to my foot scrub, I only use earth and plant based products and ingredients that contribute to my well being rather than take from it.
There are soooooo many good options available. There is simply no excuse to not make this transition.

I am absolutely amazed how many of my clients would buy organic fruits and vegetables, drink filtered water, work out in organic cotton yoga gear and then suds up with Sodium Laurel Sulfate, slather on paraben drenched expensive face creams and lacquer themselves in lead and mercury laden carcinogenic cosmetics. Seriously, you KNOW better. You do. So why the excuse when it comes to your beauty routine?

Please please please, I beg of you to take a closer look at why you continue to turn a blind eye to this.
This is not ten years ago. There are safe cleaning products. There is a whole world of well formulated and decidedly non granola cosmetics. There are indulgent bath products with heavenly aromas and beautiful packaging. And as demand increases, the revolution rises and our options get better and better and better.

I have been researching products for years, testing and challenging and making demands with my dollar. I am still learning, each and every day. I make new discoveries about new companies, new brands, new innovative people coming up with truly delectable healthy beauty items on a constant basis. I got so excited about this whole process, I've even started formulating my own line of bath and beauty goodness (which I simply cannot wait to unveil sooooon)!

I was told recently that I light up when I talk about what it means to me to be a holistic beauty consultant and green makeup artist and eco potion mixing entrepreneur and overall natural beauty junkie on a happy healthy joy mission. (Phew. Big sentence!)

I was told I glow.

Passion fills me. I'm excited. I care. I'm invested in you and just as importantly, I am invested in myself.

Maybe that's my secret.

May it be yours too.

With all the love and gooey goodness in the word,



  1. Excellent writing and information, May, very impressive! I was going to say that I'll make sure to pass this along to my female friends (which I definitely will) but then I realized this is for everyone. I'm *for the most part* organic but since makeup isn't an issue (except for shoots), there are many other things I need to consider also (soaps, shampoo, even shaving cream.)

    I also have allergies and have to get bi-weekly shots to temper my reactions, but they're worth it. And I, too, was the object of many jokes and teasings growing up just like the kind you experienced and for the same reasons. Amazing.

    Thank God morels are still on the "safe" list, on that we can wholeheartedly agree!

    Stay loovleh, Miss May, and hopefully our paths will cross again soon, my friend :)


  2. Hi Kelly!
    Thanks for writing and good to hear from you as always.
    I think it is really important to reiterate what you just said - this is not just for women. It is not simply about makeup. It is everything that enters our body through our skin each and every day whether male or female, infant or elder.
    My question to you is why you think that these injections are worth it? You didn't say exactly what your prescription contained, but I am guessing it to be small rounds of steroids.
    I am hoping that I am wrong and that yours is the kind that injects a small amount of your allergen into your body on a regular basis over a course of time, slowly causing your body to develop a tolerance to that particular allergen by stimulating production of blocking or protective antibodies by the immune system and basically causing "immunity" to those allergens by the end of the treatment months or years later. This is the same process that is involved in vaccines.
    I have mixed feelings about these treatments as well, but my opposition is not nearly as strong and serious as how I feel about steroidal or antibiotic options.
    I urge you to ask questions about what exactly is going into your body with these treatments, especially as you are receiving injections every two weeks.

    When you say you are "mostly organic", do you mean your food alone or have you made any transitions in your personal care items - the soap, shampoo, shaving cream, etc that you mentioned?

  3. (Sorry about posting as "EvilResident" earlier, that's from a totally different profile.)

    Well, the allergy shots I take now are definitely not the steroid type, but the latter sort that you described; the "maintenance" shots where I'm injected with the allergen to build up an immunity to all the things that I'm allergic to.Typical things like certain grasses, specific pollens, (no foods, thankfully), some cats but not dogs. You know, the usual ;)

    But can you just imagine me on steroids? The world still needs tall, slender guys around! lol

    As for vaccines, I never take them! As a kid, I had to have the usual shots for TB, Diphtheria, measles, smallpox, etc. I even have the small inoculation pock-mark on my left shoulder to show for it. But as for the newer stuff as in the seasonal flu or H1N1 shots? Forget it, I don't trust the viral strains or the thimerosal in the slightest.

    As for my "mostly organic" statement, I mean form food to clothing to purchasing. I wish I could say "entirely", but I'm not there just yet but aim to be :) Over the past three years, I've been working in a greenhouse and have really gotten back to my roots (pun sort of intended). I've faced the fact that I'm a nature-base person and that makes me happy. I can no longer digest our hyper-consumer culture and I'm angry with myself over the lost years of polluting not only our environment, but the landscape of my body and my mind and thereby, my soul.

    Funny thing about shaving cream, my Dad is a retired barber (wow could I use one of his haircuts right now, it's long!) and he used to use the actual organic soap cake in a mug with the brush like you remember. But now, look at the state of it all. Why all the chemicals in modern products? Why all the propellants, scents, and dyes? Sigh...

    As far as foods, there's a great market just blocks from me where I shop that sells nothing but the best in (local!) organics. A little pricier but then again, "what price, life", right? Loads of the freshest (read: alive) vegetables, fruits, grains, juices, cheeses, wines from local wineries. And the prosciutto! Have a look:

    And I'm really getting into cooking good stuff, you'd be proud of me!

    Oh, and my website will be up and running soon also. It's (for now) parked at:

    Keep it up, May, you really are making a difference! :)

  4. YES.

    And the list of prohibited items in the EU is exponentially larger and longer than our list in America - Why? Bc the Europeans are inidignant and infuriated that their government, who was established by the people to protect the people, is putting the needs of big business before the needs of its people.

    As well they should be - this is a crime, and there is no one here to stop it except us. We ARE the enforcers, we ARE the InterPol, we ARE the Higher Power who needs to step in and fix things. We need to start enforcing these crimes by not supporting the companies that feed them and letting these groups, these bullies, know that this type of behavior is unacceptable and irresponsible.

    Stand up and vote with your dollar - Invest in a Clean Conscience.

  5. Dearest Jess,
    I ADORE YOU. Thank you for using your voice, and so eloquently and passionately. It is true, we are the power here, we make the choices and start the revolutions. Let's spread knowledge like wildfire.
    Invest in a clean conscience, invest in yourself and your planet.
    Live with kindness.

  6. may...that is the most informative approach that i have heard about green beauty was inspiring and informative because it was straight from your heart and experience. thank you. now would you please schedule yourself here in long beach for a beauty workshop to all tha ladies!!!....Isa Love!

  7. Even some of the stuff you can put into your body is not good for you, May. A lesson learned the hard way with my son. He suffers from IBS, lactose intolerance and, fructose mal-absorption. This conditions were exacerbated by nothing more than certain natural foods. The whole household diet had to change in order to protect him. But the biggest contributor to his problems is that damned High Fructose Corn Syrup. Stay away from that junk, and tell your clients too.

    BTW, I have admired your work in front of the camera for some time. I wish you all the best in your endeavor to work on the other side now. I have no doubt that you'll succeed in walking your new path. Congratulations and good luck.