You know how you get stuck on a daily makeup look? It’s just enough to look polished for work, school, or whatever and you can practically do it in your sleep, right? Yeah, me too. However simple or lavish your makeup routine, there’s an easy thing you can do to bring out your eyes and appear more polished and awake than you may actually feel. Can’t ask for much more than that.

Maybe you wear concealer or foundation under your eyes, maybe you don’t. I use it pretty conservatively, and I stopped blending it all the way up to my lower lash line because it tends to settle in fine lines right there. Trouble is, the skin closest to the lash line can often look red. Evening that area out can help you look more fresh-faced. So what do you do when concealer isn’t a great option but you’re not into red dragon eyes? I finally figured it out, thanks to Suzy Gerstein, makeup artist extraordinaire. She shared some tips with me a few months ago, and this one took my makeup game from daily grind to jump back, I wanna kiss myself. Plus, it’s so simple and takes zero skill.

Use a small, tapered smudge brush to line your lower eyelid with bronzer. Yes! Bronzer! Right underneath your lower lashes. Blend a little. It conceals any redness and defines your eyes in a soft-focus, smoky-daytime kind of way.

A tapered smudge brush makes application a cinch, but you can even use a cotton swab or your pinky. If I’m traveling and don’t have a bronzer on hand, I use a light brow powder or eye shadow. Mineral powders tend to have great tenacity, so the look lasts way longer than any application of concealer. This is really tough to screw up and never looks harsh. Even if I woke up tomorrow to find the most perfect concealer on earth waiting inside my makeup bag, I would still opt for this look. It just makes me feel a little more put together.

Do you have a favorite makeup trick that you return to over and over? Share!

11

Don’t Just Ditch the Dirty

1930s Palmolive Ad

Last week at the W3ll People Supernatural Session, Heather White, Executive Director of the Environmental Working Group, reminded attendees of a startling fact.

The current laws regulating cosmetics in the U.S. date back to 1938. That’s just 18 years after women were granted the right to vote.

Doesn’t that seem impossibly long ago? That’s when the Palmolive ad featured above was current, by the way. Loopholes and inadequacies in the U.S. law allow the cosmetics industry, worth $50 billion and growing, to put unlimited amounts of chemicals into their products without any real oversight. Sometimes I get so carried away in my little green bubble, celebrating the latest amazing shampoo or serum, that I forget there is still so much progress to be made.

When I read Siobhan and Alexandra’s book No More Dirty Looks, I saw the cosmetics industry clearly for the first time, and I was forever changed. Yes, it was that dramatic for me. I knew my personal relationship with skincare and cosmetics was in for a serious overhaul on a consumer level and on a more personal, emotional level as well. Probably the most troubling realization I had was that brands I loved and trusted were not, in fact, looking out for my well-being. More bothersome yet, many of these companies were marketing their products in a way that duped me into thinking I was making good choices for myself when I wasn’t. Hello, greenwashing. At least with the L’Oréals of the world, you aren’t being sold the idea that ingredients matter. It’s just wham, bam, now you’re glam. The greenwashing hurt the most. I fell for it, and all because I didn’t know how to read an ingredient list or suspect that I even needed to. Sound familiar? Oh the naiveté.

So we’ve got this regulation problem on our hands, and Congress is not, uh, functioning very well. However, legislative change is not our only hope. Consumer preferences are a powerful thing. The real green beauty industry is booming, and companies are getting the message that there is a shift occurring in how people think about personal care products and their health. Point is, we can laugh about how we don’t even miss those old conventional products and boast about how clean beauty is better than ever, but we need bigger change. People shouldn’t have to worry about what’s inside the bottle of any product. Ever.

I’ve got a little grassroots challenge for you. Think of this as a social responsibility experiment. Thousands of us have committed to cleaner lifestyles and beauty habits, so why not let those old dirty companies know we changed and they should change, too?

Here’s the plan. Pick one cosmetic or skincare company that you loved before going clean. Send them an email and let them know that you used to be a customer, but you broke up with them. Tell them why. Maybe it’s because you found out they use ingredients that are harmful at worst and useless at best. Maybe it’s because they claimed to be natural, but you figured out the game. If you’re feeling sweet, tell them why you loved them in the first place. Let them know that you have standards for ingredient safety, and you think they should, too.

It may seem like a little thing, but the savvy companies are listening. In response to consumer pressure, Johnson & Johnson recently reformulated their baby shampoo to remove formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane. Unfortunately, they replaced one questionable preservative with another, but the move was no small thing for a corporate giant like Johnson & Johnson. It signals that consumers can incite change where government laws and regulations do not. We just have to know what to ask for.

How do you feel about current cosmetics regulations? Will you join me in contacting a brand you used to love and share your concerns about ingredient safety?

18

A Healthier Way to Get Your Sweets

Image via Martha Stewart

Image via Martha Stewart

 

I have an intense sweet tooth. Not the gummy bears and jolly ranchers kind of sweet tooth — the chocolate, cakes, and cookies kind. Though I am largely in control of my sugar cravings — I eat small portions and don’t binge — I’m not that person who can sub Greek yogurt for ice cream, nor do I really want to be. But all things in moderation, right?

Here’s the thing, though — I have just enough of a problematic relationship with sugar to know that if I don’t have access to a little bite of bliss at some point on most days, I will seek it out. In my darker, weaker moments, that means taking the path of least resistance and grabbing one of the hyper-processed, sugar-saturated candy bars at the corner 7-11. Usually it’s a KitKat. And just like an addict, I know exactly what the fall-out of my decision will be but proceed nonetheless.

Hey, I’m not one to feel guilty about eating sweets. I live a pretty healthy life, but any run-in with the fast food version of candy leaves me with a physical and psychological hangover that is just yuck. First, talk about fast track to jelly belly. I’ve got a mature metabolism now, and I notice the littlest amount of hyper-processed candy on my waistline within no time. And my skin? My complexion looks red and blotchy for the next 24 hours, and boom — a zit or three pops up where there were previously none. The “you are what you eat” mantra is never more apparent than when I eat poor quality, highly refined sugar. Not only are the outward effects manifest, but inwardly I’m left feeling super irritable or downright depressed. Blech. So I made this deal with myself, because I don’t want to give up all sugar — I want to give up that kind of sugar.

Rather than repress it, I try to satisfy my sweet tooth in the most healthful and conscious way possible for me.

My foolproof method for avoiding the most toxic treats is to keep a better alternative on hand. Again, while I love a bowl of fresh fruit, I’m talking about something a little more indulgent. Just a little. With a little planning, I can reliably have something sweet in my kitchen that might include some sugar, but also contains healthy, life sustaining ingredients.

I don’t have a lot of extra time to spare in the kitchen. It takes enough effort to make sure I’m eating balanced meals as often as possible throughout the week. So when I found a recipe that is simple and fast, includes healthful ingredients, and satisfies my sweet tooth in that deep and wonderful way (no crazy side effects!), I kept making it and making it. It’s the perfect afternoon pick-me-up or after dinner treat. I’m talking about No-Bake Chocolate Almond Oat Bars.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup almond butter
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 stick butter
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • ½ cup chopped almonds — toasted if you feel fancy
  • 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate
  • ¾ cup golden raisins
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt

Instructions:

  • Line an 8 inch square pan with parchment paper and leave an overhang of 2 inches on two sides.
  • Melt almond butter, honey, and butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir frequently for about 5 minutes until everything is well blended.
  • Turn off heat and add chocolate. Stir until it melts.
  • Add the almonds, raisins, and salt. Blend in.
  • Add the oats and stir until all the ingredients are well incorporated.
  • Pour mixture into the pan and spread to distribute evenly.
  • Refrigerate for at least 3 hours and up to 1 day until it hardens.
  • Run a knife around the edges to loosen, and use the parchment paper to lift out of the pan and onto a cutting board. Cut into skinny 2 inch x 3 inch bars and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

I adapted this recipe from Martha Stewart Living, but variations abound on the Internet. You can take a lot of liberty with the ingredients. Switch to a different nut butter. Use walnuts instead of almonds. Try chopped figs or apricots instead of golden raisins. Try coconut oil or ghee instead of butter. You get the gist. With all these super healthy ingredients, you might think this sounds more like a chocolate flavored energy bar. Trust me, this definitely has more of a dessert vibe with its fudgey, rich taste. Better yet, this is rich enough that a little hunk goes a long way, but you won’t feel sick after eating it. Nope, just happy and sated.

Do you have a sweet tooth? How does your body respond to super processed treats?

 

 

22

Warm Your Body With A Turmeric Tonic

Just as the cold air drifted in this past weekend, turmeric popped into my mind. Turmeric is a warming spice that I associate with fall weather and a soothed belly. It’s part of the ginger family and good for digestion. Personal question: are you fighting a pumpkin spiced latte habit or know someone who is? I’ve got a nice substitute that will beat the pang for a PSL while introducing more turmeric into your life. Plus it costs a lot less than the Starbucks superstar. You probably have a lot of the ingredients already.

But first, let me give you some good reasons to eat more turmeric. Both Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine use turmeric as an anti-inflammatory and to treat digestive and liver problems. Curcumin is the little compound in turmeric that is purported to have mega antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects on the body — two things we can all get down with. When I think about health issues I want to address, I happen to worry about inflammation, which ironically may be increasing the levels of inflammation in my body, but hey.

After learning more about the link between inflammation and disease, I try to keep inflammation triggers in check, and I’m willing bet on a dietary choice like turmeric to boost my body’s ability to quell inflammation. I follow the food is medicine doctrine.

Trust me, I know no matter how mindful you are or how much yoga you do, it can be hard to not freak out sometimes when life gets hairy. Turmeric is my little preventative measure against the compounding effects of those moments.

So let me make it easy for you to ditch the pumpkin spiced latte. I’ve got a turmeric-packed alternative that is creamy, sweet, and spicy with ingredients that not only taste good, but also do good for your body. Maybe you’ve heard of golden milk, or turmeric tea, a healthy drink made by blending turmeric powder (or finely grated if you’re lucky enough to find fresh turmeric) into hot milk of some kind. Sometimes ginger is included and often honey. The Internet swears it’s very good for you. I tried it a few ways before settling on my own version, which mellows the sharp turmeric flavor into a note among many. Here’s how I do it…

Gently heat 1 cup of coconut milk. Whisk in 1/4 teaspoon turmeric, 1 dash of black pepper, 2 dashes of cinnamon, 2-3 dashes of vanilla, 1 pinch of nutmeg, 1 pinch of ginger, and a teaspoon of honey. The spices may settle to the bottom of your cup, even if stirred well, so mind the last gulp! If you have a stick blender or frother, that really helps blend the spices in.

As you get accustomed to turmeric, you can increase the amount you add to your drink. Go slowly though, too much at first may cause an upset stomach! I especially love sipping this drink when the shift in climate leaves me feeling a little raw. When I make this in the morning, I feel strong and nourished. It’s very satisfying — not quite a meal but more than just a beverage. I get this visual of the spices hitting my bloodstream, and I feel certain I am doing good for myself and grateful that it can be so easy. This drink makes a restful nightcap, too. It smoothes the rough edges on any day, and sends me to bed feeling grateful again. Besides, there’s just something wonderfully ancestral about imbibing spices that have been in use for thousands of years. Think about it!

Do you drink something similar? Is turmeric something you enjoy?

We received a question from a reader who has begun to see some early signs of sun damage. Her sleeping habits seem to exacerbate the issue. Here’s Evie’s question…

I’m 27, pale, with skin that burns, rashes, then tans–which proved to be a messy combination throughout my teen years!  At this point I am done with the sun (as much as possible), but unfortunately have already begun to see signs of sun damage on my chest in the form of fine lines (that are made even more prominent when I sleep on my side).  I wonder if you or your readers might be able to recommend a clean serum that could help smooth out these early wrinkles (ugh!) while also giving it the vitamins and nutrients they might need to nurture the skin?  I was looking into the Pai Rosehip BioRegenerate serum, but worry that this will make this skin even more sun-sensitive.

My thoughts? Pai Rosehip Bioregenerate is a great option for repairing sun damage. If you’re worried about the vitamin A increasing your sensitivity to the sun, just use this product at night. Thanks to high levels of vitamin A and C, rosehip oil repairs skin damage, fades scars and hyper-pigmentation, and softens fine lines. It is one of nature’s best toning and refining ingredients, and it’s appropriate for all skin types, including sensitive and acne-prone.

Sleeping on your side… this is a habit I wish I could break myself! It increases the chance that fine lines develop on your chest, neck, and face. Honestly, I haven’t tried too hard to break this habit, but wedging pillows on either side of your body might help if you’re trying to sleep on your back but wake up on your side.

How do you treat sun damage? Are you conscious of your sleeping position? Share your thoughts and recommendations!