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.

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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.

Night-time Skin Care

…you shouldn’t try to over nourish your skin in the night as very rich and creamy creams interfere with the processes of the skin trying to regenerate. -Viva Woman

I’m not sure if I read this on vivawoman.net first or another source, but discovering that my skin didn’t need tons of super-rich moisturizer at night and instead would benefit much better from a light, antioxidant-filled skin care product made a big impact on my thinking and skin care routine. Now, I use very little moisturizer and a lot more of my serum, and I leave my cell-turnover products for the night time only and make sure anything I put on my skin is light and absorbs thoroughly before I turn in.

Check out more useful info about what your skin does at night here: http://www.vivawoman.net/2010/07/5-things-to-know-about-your-skin-at-night/