A little while back I had a natural-beauty girl date at a restaurant here in New York. It was with Kahina’s founder Katharine who has, over the years, become a friend. If you’ve never met her, here are some things to know: She has an easy laugh, she’s emotionally generous, and she has the envious glow of a woman who seems to love life, love the work she does, and love herself. She just has that thing (and by thing I don’t just mean argan oil, though that probably plays a small part).
(Psst, also. Kahina is our Friday Deal tomorrow, so if you’re going to get this new product or gift it, hold your horses till tomorrow when we reveal the codes.)
That night, she was so excited to tell me about her long-time-coming new product: a body serum. It took some doing because getting the oil mix just right for deep hydration but also a bit of a glow can be tricky when argan oil is the foundation of your line. That’s because argan oil is so incredibly good at absorbing into your skin — as anyone who uses it on their face can tell you — which means when you apply it alone to your body, especially when the air is super dry, it could leave you a little…wanting.
To get an oil blend that is rich and hydrating without being greasy or clothes-stainy? Not so simple. But leave it to Kahina to figure it out.
The new Kahina Giving Beauty Fez Body Serum is, in a word, delightful. A few of us tried it and agree that it’s amazingly hydrating, but its real selling point is the smell, since you’re going to be wearing it all over you. Here’s what Nicolle had to say:
“I never thought I’d say I loved smelling like cumin and clove, but the FEZ Body Serum has a luxurious, spicy scent that calms and de-stresses. A little on my neck and chest before bed helped me relax and sleep better.”
Mmm. I agree. There’s something very end-of-day to the smell, perfect for unwinding and warming up in cool weather. But I’ve also recently been revisiting some of my books on Ayurveda, and after some recent travel, seasonal change, work stress, and a nasty cold, I came to the conclusion my Vata dosha was out of balance. (Pretty sure my Pitta is wacked too, which is awesome.) Maybe Fez could help?
I was keen to add abyanga back to my daily routine. It’s a kind of self-massage ritual that you perform with therapeutic body oils, and you can find out more about that here if you want to try it (you do!). It can be a bit of a messy pain to do it the old fashioned way, and I wouldn’t want to use up all my oil in one shot. But since Fez has such a warming, soothing fragrance, I thought it would be nice to, post-steamy-shower, apply it, abyanga-style, in slow circular motions starting at my feet.
I did that for a few days and while it’s too soon to know if it’s rebalancing my Vata (LOL), I can say this: I feel calm, I smell good, and today, anyway, I feel like I’m doing something good for myself.
If that’s not an ideal natural beauty product, I don’t know what is.
What’s your favorite Kahina product? Some other body oil you love? (And any Ayurvedic dosha-balancing tips are welcome, too. Ahem.)
Calling all moms and friends of moms!
We are going to share something a little different here because our dear friend Erika has a delicious six month old, her first born, and she’s learned so much in such a short period of time. Through her pregnancy and now into her experience as a new mom, Erika has blown our minds. She’s also had some days that are harder than others, mainly because however much we, as a culture, focus on pregnancy and birth, everything that happens after is a little less clearcut. When the baby is born there’s…a baby. And a life that needs to be nurtured, even as moms try to do basic things like, you know, eat dinner. Some things proved easier than others.
So she wanted to share her story and we’d also love to hear from you — moms, friends of moms, moms of moms, partners — for what you’ve learned about preparing for the post-birth period, too.
In April of this year, I gave birth to my baby boy. During the course of the pregnancy, I spent a lot of time preparing psychologically, physically and emotionally for labor and birth. However, I hadn’t spent much time planning many of the more practical issues:
How was I going to feed myself (and my soaring metabolism), especially after my husband went back to work? Who was in my day-to-day support group and what kind of help would I need? What kinds of challenges might I face with breastfeeding and were there remedies or helpful products I could stock up on in advance?
I am writing this post because I wanted to share what I learned about the post-birth period. The most important plan I had made for the first forty days after birth was to stay close to my baby and incubate with him. I had read about the first forty days as being a special time for mother and baby across a number of cultures (Mexico, India, and ancient Israel, and even in Kundalini yogic philosophy), and it seemed to coincide with what my doctors were saying about how long it would take to heal physically from birth. But hardly any of the professionals—including the doctors, the doula, the birth class teacher—spoke to me in any depth about what happens after birth.
There was a lot I wish I had known how to plan for, and how to talk about with close family and friends. On the most basic level, for example, I found it really challenging to feed myself. This got easier with time (and with online delivery, god bless) but it seemed way beyond me at first.
I would sit there alone in my apartment, half naked, breastfeeding, and really hungry. I couldn’t even figure out how I was going to get dressed to pay the delivery guy, never mind run downstairs to open the door for him in my third-floor walk-up in Brooklyn. This might seem ridiculous, and even as I write it now, six months later, it makes me laugh, but only because the fog of motherhood is just starting to lift. And in the end, I was grateful for really simple things—visitors who came with a ready-made meal (such as Aunt Siobhan’s snap pea salad!) or even a slice of pizza. Someone to hold the baby while I cooked or ate or showered. Or just someone to look at and talk to other than the baby. A friend of mine, Rachel, has recently started working on helping parents plan the period after birth, too.
So for those of you who, like me, jumped in with your eyes closed and woke up in a pool of spit-up with no one to blame but yourself, here are some things to think about before the big day:
• If possible, fill your freezer with healthy food and set up a meal plan with friends/family.
• Ask someone to help you manage expectations for visitors and well-wishers.
• Prepare chicken stock or beef stock for the first few days after birth. This is especially helpful if you’ve had a Cesarian and you are only allowed to ingest liquids for the first couple of days.
• If you’re planning to breastfeed, do you have the name of a good lactation consultant? Maybe you can meet her before you give birth so you know what to expect and what to buy in advance (my personal go-tos include Lansinoh Lanolin, All Purpose Nipple Ointment (by prescription), Dr. Bronner’s soap to wash any abrasions, and cabbage leaves to ward off infection in the breast—seriously! They work!).
• If you’re planning to pump, you should know that the Affordable Care Act makes it a requirement for your insurance to provide you with a breast pump free of charge.
• Consider whether you will have support for the nights. The sleep deprivation starts to accumulate and it’s important to get help before you lose your rocks. This can be your partner, a close friend, a family member, a postpartum doula, or a night nurse.
• If some of these tips seem hard to plan or unrealistic given your personal circumstances, see if there are any services you can sign up for. A friend of mine, Rachel Weinstein, recently created Wooden Spoon Wellness, to help new parents plan the period after birth. She also offers cooking lessons for partners, drops off nutritious meals for hungry moms (which I devoured throughout my first forty days), and works one on one with women to help them connect with their new bodies.
• Get out of the house every day. Even for a really short period of time, even without taking a shower, even in your pajamas. My commitment to going outside was my own personal lifesaver.
• See if any close friends or family would be willing to come over to help on a fixed schedule (once a week or twice a month, whatever works) so that you can count on the help in advance, instead of having to ask for it in a moment of panic.
Women have been giving birth and raising babies in all kinds of circumstances and communities since time immemorial. And although it’s the experience we most have in common, it is also the most personal and unique, and sometimes the most challenging. And the most miraculous. Please, share your advice in the comments!
Welcome to our new Monday series! To kick things off, I’m going to empty out my filthy, lipstick- and eye-pencil-stained makeup bag and give you all a peek at the contents (not shown: how sick the actual inside of my bag looks).
Let’s get housekeeping out of the way first: Every week someone new will share what they’re using every day. We’re going to solicit submissions from our favorite green girls, makeup artists, founders of lines we love, and, as always, we want yours, too. If you want to share, send us a note at nomoredirtylooks at gmail dot com with the subject line MAKEUP MONDAYS. Please follow the format below.
Name: Siobhan O’Connor
Where I live: New York
My relationship with makeup: Reformed. Before we wrote the book I hated makeup and barely wore it. It made me feel insecure to even try to line my eyes or find a red that worked on me. These days, it’s functional meets playful. I need to look put-together every day for work. My job doesn’t require makeup, obviously—but it helps. Since I work in magazines, though, I can experiment with really loud lips and dramatic eyes if I feel like it. I can also wear nothing at all if I want to (I don’t, usually).
Here’s what’s in my makeup bag:
Tinted moisturizer: All summer I used Juice Beauty Stem Cellular Repair Tinted CC Cream as my base on top of Suntegrity SPF. It’s a tinted moisturizer and I adore it, but with fall upon us, I reupped on Suki Tinted Active Moisturizer, which has a little more pigment and is more hydrating—perfect for a fall pallor. So that’s in the bag.
Powder: I use it sparingly. I still use Laura Mercier loose minerals in Warm Sand. I use this as a concealer, weirdly enough, on spots or discoloration—but never under my eyes, since powder is dry-looking and can be aging. If I need something to set my tinted foundation, I use RMS’s UnPowder, which gives a matte even look, and is colorless.
Concealer: Under my eyes it’s still RMS “Un” Cover-up, but since I don’t put this anywhere else on my face (the coconut oil breaks me out), I also use Studio 78’s little pot of concealer as needed.
Brows: I used to be obsessed with a tinted brow gel from Bobbi Brown. These days, I use Nvey Eco eye shadow Palette 3 to fill in my brows with a firm angled brush. My eyebrows sort of disappear into my face, so once I learned how nice it can look with a more-present eyebrow, I started doing this every day. I combine a few of the colors in the palette, and I use them sparingly.
Eyeliner: I still cheat a lot here with Nars or Maybelline on days when I have big meetings or TV, but for everyday I use Josie Maran’s eyeshadow in Smoke as a liner, or W3LL People’s eye pencil in Black.
Eyeshadow: This is not an everyday thing for me, but I love W3LL People loose eye shadows as well as RMS shadow in Solar or Karma (or both). Solar really makes my blue eyes pop. The latter lasts less long than the powder formula, but it looks so much prettier than anything else in my bag. Sometimes I use MAC, too, for special occasions.
Mascara: I already outed myself as a mascara cheater, but right now I’ve been using Jane Iredale Longest Lash Thickening Mascara in Black and I like it a lot. Sometimes I layer my Bobbi on top of it.
Nail polish remover: I keep Priti NYC soy polish removers in my bag for on-the-go polish removal. It’s the best one I’ve tried and it works on even the nastiest polishes.
Luminizer: RMS Living Luminizer, obvs.
Lip/cheek: I am obsessed with the new Jane Iredale Pure Moist lipstick in Margi. I found my perfect red. I thought I’d found it before but no chance—this is it. It wears like a stain and lasts hours. I also love RMS in Sacred (amazing) and Smile (sweet), and Vapour in Torch (pow!). Ilia’s Shell Shock is still my all-day, every-day. I use lipsticks on my face and blushes on my lips.
Etc: Since beauty comes from the inside too (aww), I always have Tata Harper Anti-Irritability on me, as well as Lotus Wei perfume in Infinite Love and Hope Gillerman Stress Remedy.
Any of my favorites also your favorites? Check back for another one next week!
That subject line popped up in my inbox about an hour ago. The email was addressed to a few of us in the NMDL orbit and within minutes there was a flurry of little yellow “new message” gmail alerts at the bottom of my screen. Email chains among ladies can be great sources of material. The longer the chain goes, the more you get the feeling you’re onto something, and that’s doubly true when the topic is mascara.
Finding a good natural mascara, every clean girl knows, is tricky. We’ve had our love affairs with this or that over the years, but Alexandra and I still cheat with non-naturals—a lot.
Is it too much to ask for a deeply pigmented and thickening formula that stays put for hours and comes with an awesome wand? It seems to us that for now, the answer to that is yes. Here’s a smattering of the comments from the chain:
“I’ve gone back to cheating with not-naturals. I do like Jane Iredale’s white base coat, which I wear under my Bobbi Brown. I like Jane’s new thickening mascara too.”
“Reviva Labs HypoAllergenic Mascara is cleaner than most, super cheap, and the closest thing I’ve found to ‘real’ mascara.”
“I have Blinc, but it isn’t natural. I know it ‘coats’ and doesn’t absorb, but… It looks really pretty, though.”
“Oh Blinc is the ‘tube’ forming mascara! I’ve been so curious about that concept. God, I miss my Tarte Lights, Camera, Lashes. I even miss Clinique’s High Impact Mascara. I got so many compliments with that baby. The effect was like Dior Show minus the hype and the super large wand. I’d shed a tear for these lost loves, but then my clean mascara would run all over my face.”
“Confession: The other day I bought the Cover Girl water-resistant stuff at CVS.”
“That s#*t is great!”
Needless to say, none of us has found The One. So in the absence of finding a kind of husband-material mascara, we’ve dabbled—and we bet you have too. I still like 100% Pure’s but I ran out a while ago and haven’t bought a new one. Honeybee Gardens is still good, but ditto. I recently tried Ilia’s—I’m so insanely in love with her line, but the mascara didn’t do it for me: I found it didn’t last long and the wand was hard to get back into the tube. Another colleague tried Alima’s and found it wanting. And someone else said they tried Kjaer Weiss’s and found it a tad dry—though the packaging and ingredient list were lovely.
Have you found a keeper mascara? What have you tried and what did you think of it?
God bless Erin McKenna.
It’s CSA season and I’ve been saddled with more zucchini than I know what to do with. It’s a hardy veggie and it keeps for about 10 days when properly stored in the fridge, but when you’re getting a couple pounds of them every week as I am, a girl has to get creative.
I’ve known I was gluten allergic for about eight or nine years and since, with the exception of a fresh buttery croissant,* I was never much of a baked-goods person to begin with, I decided early that I wouldn’t bother experimenting with xantham gum and brown rice flour and ground flax seeds. As a general rule, I abstain from substitute foods like gluten-free crackers and treats and pasta, opting instead for whole foods with ingredients I can pronounce. Yesterday, though, I was reminded about how as a kid, I adored zucchini bread. It was one of my mom’s specialties, and when we were young, that was her idea of dessert. Worked for me! I loved the stuff.
So, stuck with three pounds of the things, I decided it was time to put on my apron and try my hand at some gluten-free baking. I cracked open Erin McKenna’s Babycakes cookbook and lo! There was a recipe for sugar-free, vegan zucchini muffins. Except that it called for spelt flour, which isn’t GF. According to their site, Babycakes doesn’t recommend substituting GF flour in their spelt recipes, but they helpfully offer a conversion for those who might want to try. I did, so I did.
Now, I know baking is a science as much as it is an art, and you’re not meant to mess around with the proportions. I’m a little rogue in the kitchen, though, so I took three carefully chosen liberties.
I hate dry anything, so where it called for 2 cups of grated zucchini, I went for 2 and a 1/2. Worst thing that could happen, I reasoned, is the things would be really moist. (If you’ve ever had a GF baked treat then you understand that this is a calculated and worth-it risk.) Second, where it called for 1 tbsp of vanilla, I went with 2 (I love vanilla). Finally, since I don’t love ginger in baked goods, I substituted the tbsp of ginger it called for and went with freshly crushed cloves.
The rest, I followed to the letter and—whoa. The extra zucchini meant the things had to cook a little longer than the recommended 22 minutes (about 25), but once they’d cooled slightly, I dug in to one, then another, then… Delicious, moist, healthy, incredible. (Thank you, Erin!)
If we lost you at the headline because you don’t like zucchini but your skimming eye has been trained to stop on fuchsia pull quotes, start here. Zucchini is worth learning to love. Here’s why:
Zucchini is about 90%-plus water, which makes it a great way to eat your H2O. The rest is a little fiber (about 3 grams per large guy), vitamins C, B6, and A, as well as potassium. Like avocados and bananas, it’s high in that mineral, which is great for heart health and stress reduction. (If you’re like me and you eat too much of it, the mineral is also great at giving you foot cramps in the middle of pigeon pose, which might be something to keep in mind.)
My muffins used up two of them for a batch of 12. Here’s how I plan to eat the other 8 in my fridge. Note: These are all simple dishes I’ve made and swear by. (The only thing I’ve tried that I hated was putting a whole zucchini into a smoothie with a bunch of fruit.) I don’t think exact recipes are necessary but if you want more detail, ask in the comments! Here’s how I love to eat zucchini:
1. As a delicious zucchini fritter. (Note: You could easily make these vegan if you wanted to.) I recommend topping these with greek yogurt and a tiny pinch of smoked paprika.
2. As an ABC Kitchen rip-off. This is raw zucchini shaved into wide strips with a mandoline, then topped with parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast, crushed pistachios, and a simple lime-olive oil vinaigrette (just improvise).
3. Where you pretend it’s spaghetti. Sliced into tiny noodle-shaped strips. Sprinkle them with salt and let them sweat a bit so your not-pasta isn’t too wet. Blot them with a paper towel then top with a liberal amount of olive oil, a little lemon zest and the juice of a half lemon. Garnish with some chopped up roasted hazelnuts and thinly sliced baby tomatoes and parsley. (It’s nice to heat up the post-sweat zucchini, or you can eat it at room temperature.)
4. As a Mexican version of that ABC Kitchen rip-off. Do the wide strips again from recipe 2, but add a chopped up seeded Jalapeño to the dressing, and then toss with cut off kernels from one ear of sweet corn. If you are feeling creative, toss it with some red plums and a few sprigs of basil, too.••
5. Grilled. Cut them into angled disks and drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Put them on a lined baking tray or, if you have one, a stove-top grill. I have a super old Creuset one that I inherited, and I use about three times a week. Heat the pan on medium, then fork the zucchini disks onto the grill. Turn after about 4 minutes, once those nice lines have formed. Repeat on the second side. If you do this in the oven, use a wire rack so the moisture can escape. Remember that 90% stat above! You don’t want to eat soggy zucchini.
6. As a vehicle for other delicious things. Chop it up like you would a cucumber and eat it with whatever you have in your fridge: salsa, greek yogurt, hummus, whatever. It’s a sturdy way to get whatever you want into your mouth, and raw, it’s very mild in flavor so it won’t compete with stronger flavors.
Your turn! What’s your favorite way to prepare the green guys?
* I’m a Montreal girl at heart and we love us our buttery French things.
•• Our friend Anna and I feel strongly that fruit doesn’t belong in salad, and I stand by that, but I think tart red plums are an exception. They function like tomatoes, basically, but with a nicer, less wet texture.