What I Learned from Dita Von Teese

Whether you agree with Dita’s work as a burlesque performer or not, she seems to have a good head on her shoulders and to understand who she is and what she wants and doesn’t want out of life. And she is very, very glamorous. I think she is beautiful and has something valuable to say about beauty.

Some pearls of wisdom that I gained:

  • You deserve to feel sexy, and you get to decide what that looks like for you.
  • Choose clothes, lingerie, and accessories that fit you, suit your ideal style, and that make you feel good and glamorous.
  • It’s okay to dress in an overtly sexy way.
  • Being sexy doesn’t have to mean being cheap or trampy, it mean being classic, chic, confident.

In her own words:

  • Glamor isn’t about how small you are or how young you are or any of those things.
  • It’s something you create and something you believe in for yourself.
  • You can’t dictate to a woman what should make her feel sexy.
  • Confidence is the important thing with beauty, mostly. It’s really about doing what you believe is beautiful. I feel most beautiful when I have my red lips on and when I have my cat eyeliner on and my hair curled—that’s what I feel good in, even though lots of people will see me with straight hair and no makeup on, and they’ll say I look so much younger. I don’t really care, though. I don’t care if they think I look prettier without the makeup and hair — it’s about what makes you feel good about yourself. I like having makeup on; I like the discipline it requires.

Though she falls into the realm of the alternative and even the controversial, Dita is alluring, glamorous, mysterious. She has inspired me to take charge of my own image, to play with it and create it as I like. I feel challenged to stop treating myself cheaply by neglecting little things that would make me feel fantastic: Taking a bubble bath, getting enough sleep, washing my delicates (and wearing the nice ones) regularly, or even organizing my desk and keeping track of my receipts.

If there is something small or important that you could do that would bring you peace of mind and put a smile to your face, don’t put it off any longer. You’re worth the effort.

How to Effectively Treat a Pimple

No matter how well we do in our respective skincare routines, most of us are going to get a zit from time to time. When that happens, here are a few tips to help minimize the damage.

When to act:

Wait for the pimple to come to a head similar to the photo. If there is a clearly defined white head to the top, the blemish is ready to be released from under your skin.

Also, as much as I know you’re dying to, never pop your zit if you have to put on makeup later in the day. Your face will be red and irritated, the burst blemish will ooze making concealing the damn thing a nightmare, and your pimple will probably come back with a vengeance from being open and exposed to the makeup, dirt, and bacteria of the day. Another benefit of zapping your zit at night is that the red mark left behind won’t be in the sun for a good 10-12 hours. If you are sensitive to the sun, exposing red marks from previous breakouts to the light can lock them in for a long time.

Ok, so now that you’ve shown very admirable self-restraint and waited until you’re home for the night, and your pimple has reared its ugly head, you’re ready for action.

What to do:

First, gently wash your face with your normal face wash using warm water, and pat your face dry with a towel.

Next, follow the steps from this guide: How to Pop a Pimple

Damage control and healing:

Finally, soak part of a cotton ball or cotton pad in a toner that is formulated without alcohol but that has soothing and anti-bacterial properties, and occasionally dab it directly onto your healing zit wound. I absolutely love the Michael Todd True Organics Blue Green Algae Toner. If you only buy one product from them, I’d buy this. I can’t say enough good things about it (but I’ll try later when I review their line).

Keep dabbing the affected area for about 30-60 minutes after you’ve popped your pimple while the wound is oozing and the skin is working on closing itself back up. This will help soothe and clean your skin, keeping the zit from coming back worse than before and also preventing a hard, raised scab from forming (I’ve had way too many of those :P).

This method worked like an absolute charm for me this week. I had a nasty blemish on my chin caused by irritation from rubbing against my husband’s new beard. Thanks, honey! That night, I followed my regular routine and put on a combination of a little moisturizer (MTTO Citrus Cream Moisturizer) with an anti-oxidant-rich serum (Antiox Serum) that really softens and nourishes my skin. The former pimple was red but not at all scabby or inflamed the next morning, so I concealed the redness like crazy, and then the next day, I was delighted to discover that what had been a nasty, fairly painful zit looked like it had been gone a week. No joke.

The key is to be patient for it to come to a head and to pop it at a time when you can prevent as well as counteract further irritation.

Things to avoid: I don’t recommend drying a zit out out as this can cause flaking and irritation. Also, the skin can overproduce sebum and often holds on to clogs for longer when it is too dry. A little salicylic acid when you first feel like it’s forming might help prevent the pimple, but just keeping from touching it except when you’re (gently) washing your face should allow your foe to die out on its own. If it doesn’t, just ride it out. Concealing a non-irritated pimple really isn’t that bad. Dabbing on an extra bit of powder will mattify the area and make it appear smaller.

You know what isn’t easy to conceal? A red, swollen mass.  Unless you have severe or cystic acne, this reaction from a blemish usually occurs due to our impatience trying to pop it too early or when a pimple is handled with dirty hands or before the face was properly washed.

I’ve been there, and I’ve mangled my face and made it so much worse, created deep gashes in my face, and spent 30-45 minutes trying (and failing to conceal my destructive decision). Now that I’m a bit older, wiser, and willing to pick my time (get it?), my skin has never been happier.

 

Parabens: What’s the deal?

Image

 

Many of you have probably read blurbs or articles or heard people talking about the evils of parabens, and I am not here to contradict them. However, it is worth knowing which ones to avoid like the plague and which ones are, though not great, not nearly as harmful to the health of your skin, hair, and body.

If you read my post on how to start reading your cosmetic ingredient lists, you’ve already heard me mention Skin Deep, which ranks cosmetic products and their ingredients by how toxic/non-toxic they are to your system. Basically 0-2 is Good, 4-6 is Fair, and 7-10 is Dangerous (see the detailed explanation here). I would like to pass along what I found out when I did a search for parabens in their database.

Baddies >:-0

villain

10 PROPYLparaben is the big bad daddy paraben ranking a 10, or a high health hazard.

7 ISOBUTYLparaben,  BUTYLparaben, ISOPROPYLparaben these three were all rated at 7 and definitely to be avoided as they are also high health hazards.

Skin Deep talks about different kinds of hazards from cancer to allergies. These parabens pose a threat to reproduction and development, so you especially don’t want a build-up of these in your system if you are trying to get pregnant or are currently pregnant or nursing. Also, I would seriously avoid putting these on young children or even teens.

Creepers >;-*

Creepy_Clown_Face

These parabens are a bit friendlier and commonly-used but still not 100% trustworthy:

4 Ethylparaben, Methylparaben

3 Undecylenoyl PEG 5 Paraben, 4-Hydrobenzoic Acid

Good guys O:-)

i'manangel

2 Benzylparaben

1 Isodecylparaben, Hexamidine Diparaben, Phenoxyethlparaben, Phenylparaben, Calcium Paraben, Potassium paraben, Sodium paraben

Parabens are in a LOT of products, and unfortunately, hand and eye creams, sunscreens, face washes, foundations and many, many other products use the baddies in addition to two or three other parabens, which is a bad combo. It’s all well and good for products to say they are paraben-free, but they may contain other objectionable ingredients. For example, my new deodorant doesn’t have any Aluminum, parabens, alcohol, OR fragrance, but it does have BHT, boooo! *A quick side note: to reduce your vulnerability to undesirable ingredients in your deodorant/ antiperspirant, shave your underarms at night so your skin doesn’t have any small cuts or irritations that might make you more likely to absorb the harmful ingredients or get it into your bloodstream directly. Read more about deodorant ingredients and the debate about their side-effects here.

If you look in your medicine cabinet or makeup bag and discover a few products with Ethyl and/or Methylparabens, personally, I’d use them up and then find an alternative for next time, but I take the baddies seriously, especially when they are paired with BHT, which is a synthetic anti-oxidant and preservative that has been linked with cancer (read this article, and this description for more details).

So remember to read the list of ingredients for your cosmetics before you buy them as much as possible. Personally, I like to check them out online before I go to the store, and I refuse to buy anything for which I cannot find the complete list of ingredients. There are plenty of fish in the sea. An effective and safe product is out there, waiting for you to find it or make it!

 

Become BFFs with your Ingredients Label: Ground Rules

One of the most important life lessons I have learned has been to question everything and to doubt the “experts.” At the end of the day the best thing to do is to trust yourself and investigate first hand.

Here are a few tips to help you begin decoding ingredients lists:

  1. The higher it is on the list, the more of that substance is in the product, so the top three ingredients should be ones that you think are worth paying for.
  2. The longer the list, the more likely you will react to something negatively (especially if it has added fragrance).
  3. The more ingredients that don’t have easily recognizable or short names, the less natural it is, and the more time it will take you to decode it all and decide if it’s worth putting on your body.
  4. If it has parabens or lauryl/laureth sulfate in it, it AIN’T organic!
  5. Reading the list is the BEST way to know what your product can really do. For example, if it claims to be anti-aging but has no SPF or antioxidants and contains drying ingredients, then it’s just a claim.

Even experts such as dermatologists and cosmetic researchers will tell you that many ingredients like parabens, sodium lauryl sulfate, and phthalates are “safe in low levels.” Please don’t believe this. Here is why: Take a moment and mentally walk into your bathroom and take out every single product that you put on your face, hair, or body or use to clean your mouth. How many are there? How many times a week or even a day do you use them? How many cups or pounds of the “safe-in-low-levels” ingredients do you think you use over the course of a year? All of that is being absorbed into your body through your hair, skin or mouth, affecting your body chemistry.

I’m not telling you to start washing your hair with baking soda or to only buy “all natural” or “organic” brands. They sometimes contain just as much crap. What I am saying is that now, you have the keys to the kingdom, so start using them!

This website is very helpful: Skin Deep. Even if your product or brand has not been rated, you can examine each ingredient that you’re not familiar with and learn about what it is used for and its level of toxicity. Here’s an article that really helped me: Learn How to Read Cosmetic Labels

Knowledge is power. Challenge and investigate anything and everything that doesn’t seem quite right to you. At the very least, you’ll learn something new. At most, you could save yourself anxiety and protect your well-being.

If you’re like me, you worry all the time about seeming rude, impertinent, or paranoid if you speak up, but enough of all that! Remember what is at stake: your health, your peace of mind, and your self-respect. Don’t these things merit ruffling some feathers, altering your habits, cutting out products, or even changing doctors? You are worth it.

A Perspective-Changing Video About… Concealing Zits?

Makeup artist Lisa Eldridge begins this video by talking about her philosophy behind concealing flaws. She points out that most of our skin is beautiful and that there are only a few places that need extra coverage.

Aside from being quite helpful and practical in concealing blemishes, I saw a deeper message: Most moments in life and as well as aspects of ourselves are neutral or positive. Highlight and bring out the beauty in yourself that is already present from lovely eyes to a kind and sensitive heart. Recognize your flaws and accept them, then allow them to recede, which in turn lets your beauty shine forth.

We empower the things that we focus our attention on. So ask yourself, where is your focus? On imperfection or on the good and the beautiful in you and others?

E.l.f. Sale in U.S. and Canada

Come one, come all to get 50% off of already dirt-cheap amazing makeup on the E.l.f. website until March 17. Check out best-selling and new products, and shop til your fingers drop😉

Here are the conditions of the sale taken straight from the site:

50% OFF BEST SELLERS + NEW ITEMS-discover something you’ll love or stock up on your favorites! Add products to cart, creating a minimum value of $25. Then enter code SOGOOD in the coupon code box at checkout to get 50% Off items in the New and Best Sellers categories. Cannot be combined with any other offers or applied to previous purchases. Maximum discount $100. Offer valid online only. Offer ends 11:59 PM PST 3/17.

Skincare That You Don’t Put on Your Face: Part II

Act Consciously:

Keep your hands off your face! I know you want to, I know you really, really want to, but please DON’T pick at your face. I’ve done it, and I have scars. Even if you’ve washed your hands prior, you inevitably spread bacteria when you pop a zit. Also, you’re going to further irritate the skin. So before you squeeze a zit, ask yourself if doing so is going to hurt or help your skin’s healing. If you have a monster zit that you urgently need gone, do it the night before because there’s nothing worse than spending forever trying to cover up a huge red, and watery lump or gash when you’re trying to look decent before you go out. I found this guide to be really helpful: http://www.acne.org/pop.html

Long story short: No touchy! And as an added bonus for your saintliness, you are less likely to get sick because we all touch lots of grimy stuff during the day without realizing it.

Wash/ change your towels and pillowcases regularly. I recommend changing pillowcases about once a week and changing face towels every three or four days. However, feel free to change them more or less frequently as it suits your needs. Also, be sure your towel is getting properly dry between each use. If it’s not, it could be acting as a breeding ground for bacteria and mildew, yuck! So if your bathroom is damp and cool and/ or has poor air circulation, you should hang up your towels in another part of your house or apartment to make sure they get completely dry.

Wash or change out your makeup sponges and/ or brushes regularly. Again, I’d say once per week or so, but you might like to wash, sterilize, or change your makeup tools after each use. It really depends on what you feel comfortable with. Do you have a ton of brushes or get a little OCD about cleaning them? Save money with this DIY brush-cleaner recipe! You can watch the original instructional video here.

Wash your hair or tie it back and/ or cover it, especially when you sleep. Washing and drying my hair annoys me, so I like to put it off, but when I go a few days without washing, my skin often speaks up and says: “Chick, you are spreading oil and bacteria on me, and I don’t like it!” with a few breakouts. Your skin likely does the same, so if you’re “between washes” keep your hair away from your face.

Look after your physical, mental, and emotional states:

Get enough rest! Don’t kid yourself. You need your eight-to-nine-hour beauty sleep. Studies have shown an overall higher mood and an increase in your ability to deal with stress when it does come your way. Avoid playing around on your laptop, phone, or tablet at least an hour before you’d like to turn in as the blue light sends signals to your brain that it’s still time to be up and at ’em for a while. Read more about this and other effects of blue light here. Also, getting to bed before midnight gives you a significantly higher quality of rest. Doctor Oz talks about this and more ways to get better, more restful sleep here.

Meditate or find a way to unwind. Releasing stress and calming your mind and nervous system can only be good for your body and therefore your skin. I like listening to guided meditation especially through YouTube videos by Thich Nhat Hanh, Deepak Chopra, Eckhart Tolle.  Anyone whose voice/ style helps you to relax is good. I also find chanting mantras helpful at times and enjoyed those from Deva Premal and Miten; some of their music/ chants are on their YouTube channel: PrabhuMusic. Many people find that creative outlets like singing, painting, writing, etc, help them to destress.

Move your body in a way that feels good to you. Please don’t torture yourself. Exercise can be fun. If you’re like me, you’re getting really skeptical right about now, but remember to do what feels good. For example, take a walk while listening to music or talking to a friend, participate in a yoga class that’s appropriate for your level, dance to your favorite music, take a Zumba, step aerobics, or a kick boxing class, walk up a flight of stairs or several and then celebrate like Rocky at the end, take Karate, Jujitsu, or Tai Kwan Do, or just move around and clean your place set to music. Forget about attaining a certain heart rate over X time or burning a certain number of calories with your workouts. Instead, just focus on moving your body for at least 30 minutes per day to see your health, mood, and serotonin levels rise, your stress go down, and happiness to spread from the inside out!

Remember: Treat yourself well, treat your skin well, treat your body well, and you will see results.