This past January, I bought my first pair of red shoes*.  I quickly realized that I needed more.  Fortunately, I love to shop for a bargain.  With spring fully in gear, I have hunted and gathered my way to a few pairs.  For casual days, I love them with faded ankle-length skinny jeans.  And red lips.

The Red Shoes: I am insanely in love with my pointy-toe red flats and ankle boots (not pictured) from Frye.  The only eco-fashion thing I can say about them is they last for freaking ever.  Not cheap, but if you are patient you can find them on sale.  And this pair of Converse canvas sneakers does the red shoe thing in playground casual (more support than the standard Chucks, too).

The Skinny Jeans: I’ve long been a Levi’s kind of gal, but I recently discovered Henry & Belle jeans.  They make super soft, super stretchy, comfortable jeans, in lots of colors and styles.  And – bonus – a portion of every sale goes to a variety of good causes, such as Every Mother Counts and Girls on the Run.  I like to order from Melange, which has great sales, a cute blog, free shipping and superior customer service.  To top those jeans, they also carry great organic cotton brands like Prairie Underground and Raw Earth Wild Sky.

The Red Lips: Still working for spring are my fall reds – RMS Diabolique and Ilia Femme Fatale.  I’ve also recently discovered Alima Pure’s Lip Tints, which are immense chocolately improvements on the old peppermint formula.  I can’t tolerate peppermint on my lips, so I was thrilled to try the new tints.  Cranberry is a warm burgundy that really has enough pigment to wear as a lipstick, though it feels like a balm.  The glossier Holly Berry is a spiced rose that is super subtle.  I’m loving wearing the RMS or Ilia pressed into well-moisturized lips like a stain, with one of the Alima tints over as a balm.  I generally like to put a balm over my lipstick, but sometimes a clear balm kind of sucks the color away.  These tints are a perfect topper, and can handle a touch-up on their own when I don’t have time for a full reapplication.

Just some Ilia illuminator around my eyes and RMS bronzer on my cheeks finishes my barely-made-up spring face.

One More Thing: Those exposed ankles are going to need some glow…easily provided by my old favorite, May Lindstrom’s The Good Stuff, and my new favorite, Yuli’s Harmony.  Or, try one of my other favorite body oils.

What are your spring inspirations?

*actually, my first was a pair of Adidas sneakers in the mid-nineties, but I’m not counting that right now

22

Best Hand Cream Ever, No Kidding

Until recently, I’d given up on water-based hand creams.  I could never quite find what I was after.  Not enough moisture, too sticky, too stinky – nothing in a clean formula suited me.  I’m big on hand care, and for a long time I stuck with body butters or thick oils, both commercial and DIY.  These work well, basically.  Which is to say that as long as I carry my own Dr. Bronner’s soap around everywhere, and apply a butter immediately following every wash (and I wash a lot), my hands don’t crack and bleed.  I still enjoy the luxury of applying butters and oils at home.  But during a work day, or while out and about, it eventually became cumbersome.  In a rush to get back to my job, I’d slack on my rub-backs-of-hands-together application technique, and end up with greasy handprints on my folders.  Or in my hurry I’d not allow enough absorption time, and get oils on the sleeves of a jacket or sweater.

Having already fallen in love with many things Osmia, I finally decided to try what the brand had to offer my hands.  Cue the choir of angels, I’ve found the holy grail of hand cream – Osmia’s Vanilla Shea.

Here’s what’s to love:

  • Super light scent, vanilla with a touch of lemony citrus, kind of like cake batter
  • Quick absorbing, not at all greasy
  • Great for daytime and overnight use
  • Ultimate perfection in packaging, easy to handle, fits in your bag
  • A tiny bit goes a long way (a full pump would cover legs, no problem), easy to dispense the right amount
  • Elbows and feet love it too

But here’s the most impressive thing.  With regular use, I don’t even have to apply it after every wash.  My hands are simply healthier and more resilient.  This really astounded me.  I am just so freaking dry, sensitive, and reactive.  But my hands are soft and happy all the time now.

Oh, yeah.  It comes in another scent too.  The Linden Rose works just as well, and smells of spicy roses.  It’s still lightly scented enough to suit me, though somewhat stronger and longer lasting than the vanilla shea.  I keep multiples of both scents around.  My work bag, personal bag, bedside, and bathroom counter are all stocked, after multiple repurchases.  This cream got me through the winter, and I’m still finding it perfect well into spring.  I shall never be without it.

Have you tried this magical combination of aloe, shea butter, hydrolyzed oats and lovely oils and extracts?  Which hand cream is your favorite?

A few months back, I entered a phase of having stress breakouts.  This was something more than just the very specifically timed hormonal breakouts I’ve been used to.  Although Annmarie Gianni’s oil really works for those hormonal breakouts, it can be drying if used too often on the more sensitive parts of my face, plus I’m not in love with the scent.  I decided to try some new products.

There’s no better way to feel beautiful and confident than to have clear, glowing skin.  A healthy lifestyle is the best way to get there, but ya know I need a little extra help sometimes.  These two products are the perfect solution for me.

Blissoma Smooth A+ Perfecting Serum: I love this brand!  Everything I’ve used feels immediately soothing and wonderful on the skin.  This serum lets me add a layer of blemish protection without piling on too many oils.  I generally put this on between my face oil and sunscreen during the day, or between oil and a balm at night.  Usually I can just use it once a day, but if things are particularly harrowing I may use it twice.  It sinks right in and has a matte finish, yet is not drying at all.  It both prevents and treats blemishes, and I find myself with fewer blackheads and diminished pores.  The scent is very light – mainly I detect rose and frankincense.  This stuff is pretty perfect. ($25.99/1 oz)

Osmia Organics Spot Treatment: I didn’t even know I wanted a spot treatment until I tried this on a whim, while ordering some luscious Osmia body oils.  The Spot Treatment is an overnight wonder, without the drying or the overly strong scent some spot treatments have.  I mostly smell rosemary and citrus.  I’ve had success with this whether applied to bare skin, between layers of other products, or on top of everything. ($20/.16 oz)

It feels satisfying to have found blemish treatments so good I can stop looking for something else!  Have you tried these?

The Hormone Cure, by Dr. Sara Gottfried*, is all about optimizing your hormonal state at any age.  This book covers information about hormones I’ve never seen revealed anywhere else, especially not in a way that’s accessible to everyone, and in such a comprehensive manner.

I won’t even attempt a summary, I’ll just say that if you have hormones, you must read this.  There’s cortisol and progesterone and estrogen and androgens and thyroid hormone, and <deep breath> various common combinations of imbalances.  You’ll be taken on a journey of self-assessment, and given possible solutions ranging from lifestyle and dietary changes to medical interventions.  I feel like I need to read it a couple more times to really absorb it.  I wish this book was around when I was the ripe old age of 37 and first realized that feeling like a forgetful teenager** with irritable bowel syndrome and night sweats meant I was perimenopausal.  Then I may not have had to experiment on myself so much.

I did plenty of reading when I realized what was happening.  I almost immediately gave up on medical help when I told my gynecologist that I thought I was in perimenopause and she dismissed me as being “too young.”  I told her my symptoms and she was like, “Oh, maybe you are.”  That was all she had to offer.  I don’t really blame her.  I don’t think even most medical professionals are equipped to deal with this craziness, but in any case I was left to my own devices.  Getting off gluten (my sensitivity to which was not caused by, but exacerbated by, my hormonal state) and becoming vegan really helped me.  I tried various supplements in different combinations and dosages.  For some time I found great success with black cohosh.  But those changing hormones just kept on changing, and every time I found balance it only lasted a little while.  Now I’m 45, off the black cohosh (after years of helping it started to give me fuzzy brain), and religiously back to something that really changes my life in a wonderful way – bioidentical progesterone cream.  My major symptoms now are those of estrogen dominance, where progesterone is practically nonexistent and I have out-of-body experiences where I observe myself in such a state of anger, I quite literally want to kill someone.  Maybe that person did something awful, like caused harm to someone I love.  Or maybe it’s someone I love, who spoke to me in a tone I didn’t appreciate.  No matter.  Death to all.  Progesterone takes me back to my normal, healthy level of bitchiness.  Reading this book validated my choice to go back to the cream.  I needed that, as I’m not one to mess with hormones carelessly.  Next thing to work on is a mild androgen excess (hello, mustache).

Well, those are just my two-cats-away-from-being-a-crazy-old-lady problems.  Women of any age with a hormonal imbalance will benefit from the information in this book.  Dr. Sara tells her own story, and provides the stories of other women, and tells you what you can try.  She uses language that is understandable to the science novice, but promotes evidence-based solutions.  She does sell products that go along with all this, though I’ve never used them and probably won’t.

Have you read this book?  Do you have another great source of information on hormone balance?

*and with a foreword by my all-time-fave writer about women’s bodies, Dr. Christiane Northrup

**with erratic and very painful periods, sullen resentful attitude, and acne

image via

This brand has been mentioned by many readers of NMDL, and I finally gave it a try.

I love the simple and elegant packaging.  Of course violet glass always makes me happy.  The packaging and scents are gender neutral, which I think is very cool.

Yuli is on the pricey side, but they do sell samples of many of their products so you can be sure what you want.  Two of the three products I tried I repurchased.  Not bad for the first try of a brand.

Metamorphic Elixir: I usually prefer a plain hydrosol, but this complex blend of hydrosols and actives really does a great job of moisturizing, and I feel like it helps with blemishes too (maybe that’s the colloidal silver).  The scent is a bit hard to describe.  I think the helichrysum stands out the most, with detectable frankincense and myrrh.  This is quite perfect to pair with May Lindstrom’s Blue Cocoon, for a richly indulgent and pleasantly scented moisturizing experience. (trial size $15, $48/50 ml, $80/100 ml)

Halcyon Cleanser: At first, I was unimpressed with the performance of this cleanser.  It didn’t come close to removing my sunscreen, mineral makeup, or mascara.  But it does smell addictively delicious, and I dropped a lot of money on it, so I kept on until I loved it.  This has turned into an occasional use product for me.  I want to keep it around, but I don’t need it every day.  I use it in the morning when I’m running short on time and can’t do my full honey (or Honey Mud) cleanse.  It’s also a great second step, after an oil cleanse, if you are into a two-step cleanse. ($52/100 ml)

Cell Perfecto PM: The ingredient list for this impressed me, but ultimately I was using it for brightening, and I think my DIY performs better in that area.  It’s grainy, like my DIY, and has some of the same ingredients.  I believe that given enough time, it would help in the brightening department.  So if you need brightening and aren’t up for DIY, I think this would be good to try. ($98/30 ml)

Are you ready to try this brand?  Yuli lovers out there, what’s your favorite product?