Fun in the Sun [BEAUTY TIPS]

Summer VacationSummer is around the corner! And, we often take this time to remind ourselves of how we can protect our skin from potentially damaging ultraviolet (UV) rays that can lead to premature aging and skin cancer.

Yet, Summertime isn’t the only time that our skin is exposed to potentially damaging UV rays. It’s year round during sunny and overcast days.

Here are some tips for when you’re heading outdoors for some fun in the sun and during those cloudy days too.

  • Don that wide-brimmed hat to provide some shade up top because sunburn on your forehead, ears, and scalp are not pleasant. Yes, we’ve been there! Spending more time under shady trees and umbrellas are also helpful.
  • Slather on sunscreen with an SPF (sun screen factor) of 30 or higher. Look for sunscreen products that offer broad spectrum coverage to protect from UVA and UVB rays. Products that include titanium dioxide or zinc oxide could provide more natural protection and avoid artificial chemicals such as oxybenzone, petrochemicals, PABA, parabens, phthalates, and artificial fragrances.
  • Wear breathable, light-colored clothing that offer more coverage and keep you cooler at the same time. Staying indoors during the hottest times during the day is also a great way to protect your body.
  • Shield your eyes. Wear the right sunglasses to protect your eyes from glare and damaging UV rays.

So, have a wonderful time enjoying the great outdoors and remember to be kind to your body by protecting it!

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Eczema [BEAUTY TIPS]

IMG_20140321_182708After several years of not knowing what the skin irritations were, it finally made sense. It felt like the pieces of a puzzle fell into place when a dermatologist made a proper diagnosis. It was eczema. An inflammatory skin condition that can be triggered by contact with environmental allergens, certain foods, and even stress.

With eczema, the affected areas on the body can become inflamed with dry, scaly red patches. And, symptoms can include unbearable itching! Scratching could feel great, but it’s best to refrain from scratching since that could break the skin, leading to infection and deeper scarring. If your skin is prone to hyper-pigmentation at the slightest blemish, you know how important it is to avoid scratching.

If you experience skin irritations and you’re unsure what it is, first and foremost, please consult a medical practitioner for a proper diagnosis. If the diagnosis is eczema and depending on the type of eczema, your physician may prescribe a hydrocortisone cream to relieve the inflammation, itchiness, and to help promote healing. For us, we used a topical medication that helped, but at the same time we researched preventative measures and natural remedies for the near and long term if it recurred.

While you may not be able to avoid eczema especially if it’s genetic, here are some at-home remedies that we found helpful in managing some forms of eczema, alleviating some symptoms, and to promote healing.

  • Stay hydrated. We’re often so busy that we forget to hydrate and our skin was screaming from the dryness! Well, we heard it loud and clear. So, drink ample amounts of water to stay hydrated from within. Alternatives to water are flavorful beverages like coconut water, chamomile tea and Rooibos Tea, which are hydrating and have anti-inflammatory benefits. Also, these beverage options are non-caffeinated so they’re perfect to drink throughout the day.
  • Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize! With eczema, the skin cell barrier is compromised, so it’s difficult for the skin to retain moisture. Regular and frequent moisturizing can help keep moisture locked in and prevent the condition from reoccurring or worsening. After showering or bathing, pat the skin dry and moisturize immediately. We found it helpful to moisturize in the morning and evening before bedtime since our bodies lose moisture during sleep as well.
  • Exfoliate. The last thing you may want to do is exfoliate, yet this helps to get rid of the dry, dead skin cells so that moisturizers and treatments can more effectively absorb into the skin. A sponge or soft loofah may be ideal since you want to be gentle. In some cases, blister-like bumps can form in and around the affected areas so it’s even more important to get a proper medical diagnosis to rule out any bacterial or fungal infections since you wouldn’t want it to spread.
  • Stay calm. Stress can trigger eczema. Meditation, yoga, long walks, listening to your favorite songs, and engaging in your favorite activities can help to take your mind off of the itching and irritations and alleviate stress.
  • Use gentle all-natural body cleansers. Soaps and fragranced body washes can irritate and cause or worsen flare-ups. It’s best to choose fragrance-free body washes that also calm and add moisture to the skin.
  • Take a soothing bath. Draw a warm bath and sprinkle some oatmeal into the bath to enjoy a relaxing soak. Or, use a body wash with colloidal oatmeal to soothe the skin. Avoid taking long hot showers which tend to dehydrate your skin so be cognizant of the water temperature and the length of your shower.
  • Monitor your diet. Certain foods can trigger skin irritations including nuts, shellfish, dairy, gluten, and sugar. We kept a daily food diary to identify potential food triggers. We had already significantly limited dairy and shellfish from our diet, so we focused on managing our sugar intake.

The most important take-away is to consult a medical practitioners for a proper diagnosis. While eczema and other skin conditions can feel embarrassing, remember, you’re not alone. According to the National Eczema Association, 3.6 million Americans suffer from some form of eczema. Wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants until the eczema and scarring eases are not the most fun especially during the heat of Summer, but remember it’s temporary. Identifying and addressing the triggers that can cause your outbreaks are important in managing flare-ups. Know the causes, symptoms, and treatments that work best for you and it will help you in the near and long term. So, remember to listen to your body, and your body will thank you for it.

Turmeric…more than just a spice. [HEALTH & WELLNESS]

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Have you tried including turmeric in your skin care regimen? If so, did you experience the golden-orange after-glow :)? We were pleasantly surprised by that but we didn’t mind the temporary hue because it’s oh so good for your skin!

A relative to ginger, turmeric has also been touted for its immunity-boosting, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antibacterial qualities. What does this mean for skin? It means that it’s a wonderful ingredient to include in your skin care regimen to help keep skin clear and younger-looking.

Curcumin, the revered chemical component in turmeric, has been known to nurture skin with its anti-aging benefits to help fight free radicals that can cause premature signs of aging and manage other skin-related issues such as acne and promote the healing of acne scars.

Try including turmeric in your facial masks or try our Pumpkin Honey Masque to keep skin radiant and glowing. As noted earlier, Turmeric can stain, so avoid wearing white or using white towels when working with this skin-loving spice. And, thoroughly cleanse your skin to rinse off the turmeric.

If you plan to include turmeric in your diet whether in smoothies or in soups, add a dash of pepper to help increase the absorption of Curcumin. This body-loving ingredient can enhance the liver’s ability to detoxify the system, ease irritable bowl syndrome (IBS) symptoms, enhance mood, along with other health benefits.

So, the next time you happen upon turmeric, you may see it the way we do…that it’s more than just a spice. Let’s have fun eating and pampering our way to healthy skin! Thank you for being kind to your body!

OH SUGAR! [HEALTH & WELLNESS]

Immunity-Boosters Plate PhotoSugar. The sweetness that many palates crave is touted differently by others of late. During the last year, in our quest to maintain better health and wellness, we took a closer look at the foods that we were consuming. The foods that we were relying on to maintain our health. And, we noticed an ingredient that we didn’t expect to find in many of the foods. We noticed it over and over again. What was it? It was sugar. Sugar in it’s various forms…cane sugar, high fructose corn syrup, glucose, maple syrup, and agave. And, it was everywhere! From pasta sauces, to breads, to juices, to cereals.

Based on our research, we found that excessive consumption and buildup of sugar in our bodies could play a major role in various health-related issues including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammation, arthritis, thyroid conditions, dementia, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and cancer. So, in our quest to ensure that we maintained our health, managed our sugar consumption, and consumption of inflammatory foods, we decided to significantly reduce all processed foods and foods that had added sugars from our diet. This included some pastas, pasta sauces, potato chips, granola bars, bagels, bottled juices, breads, and cereal. But there was more. It was more than the sugars that were listed on ingredient labels. We factored in natural and “hidden” sugars that were in whole and dried fruits, and carbohydrate-rich foods that our bodies convert into sugar such as corn, potatoes, peas, carrots, and others.

We decided to do this for 12 months, with the intention of reintroducing certain foods back into our diet afterwards. You may wonder as many did…”What did we eat?” In addition to increasing our intake of immunity-boosting foods like lemon, ginger and garlic, below are some of the foods on our “Eat More of” list.

1) Low-sugar, non-starchy foods:

    • Arugula root
    • Cabbage
    • Cilantro
    • Romaine lettuce
    • Mushrooms
    • Spinach
    • Cauliflower
    • Cucumber
    • Asparagus
    • Celery
    • Baby carrots
    • Artichokes
    • Broccoli
    • Brussels sprouts
    • Cucumber
    • Garlic (raw)
    • Kale
    • Onions
    • Tomatoes
    • Zucchini

2) Fruits that were lower in sugar:

    • Avocado
    • Lemon
    • Lime
    • Olives

3) Unsweetened beverages:

    • Water
    • Coconut water
    • Almond milk
    • Coconut milk

4) Snacks:

    • Almonds
    • Cashews
    • Sesame seeds
    • Pumpkin seeds
    • Veggie chips

Because we were opting for more fresh foods, this meant cooking more often which meant grocery shopping more often. Sometimes the most frustrating and time-consuming part of this process was having to deal with long grocery store check-out lines, but we remained determined. When pursuing this, we realized that this also meant a lifestyle change. This changed our daily routine especially when we had work events. Gone were the days when we timed our mornings so that we could squeeze every second of morning snooze with just enough time to shower, dress, and go (fellow sleep-lovers…you know how difficult this is!).

Instead, we woke up earlier to prepare our daily meals to make sure we had as much of what we needed for the day. Oftentimes, we cooked large meal portions enough to last the full week and we reheated the meals in the mornings so that we could bring breakfast, lunch, snacks, and beverages for the day. Needless to say, our shoulders felt the burden of carrying the meals in heavy glass Tupperware. But our solutions for our heavier loads…rolling back packs and lighter stainless steel food containers! During days when we did not have events, we would often eat lunch before leaving home and then return home after meetings and/or errands for dinner.

At times it seemed impossible to stick to our new diet especially during gatherings with friends and family due to the options available. Yet, we chose wiser options and we kept to our diet as much as possible.

At the conclusion of the 12-month period, we felt the difference in natural energy levels. And, we decided to keep many of the changes that we made to our diet, incorporating more color and variety in the produce that we chose to consume to make sure we had the proper nutrients and vitamins to nourish and replenish our bodies. And, the fresher the ingredients, the better. 2017 was a year of healthier discoveries for us. And, we met many friends and colleagues on this same journey which helped us stay on track. By doing so, our journey better prepared us for a healthier 2018!

Did you have a similar journey? Let us know. We thank you for being kind to your body.

Mindfulness [HEALTH & WELLNESS]

 

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With a new year, comes New Year’s resolutions. The majority of us make them, but the greatest efforts are in keeping them. Recently, we’ve been hearing a great deal about resolutions that involve “mindfulness”. Mindful eating. Being mindful to others. A focus on mindfulness in general.

We thought about what being “mindful” meant. What does it involve? What do we do to be more “mindful”? With mindful eating, it’s about being conscientious about what we’re putting in our bodies. Being aware of where our food comes from, how our foods are prepared and the ingredients that are used in producing them.

Being mindful of others, first and foremost, is being able to recognize that everyone is different. Their opinions, attitudes, and circumstances are different. Being mindful of others is about being compassionate and empathetic to others. To care about their well-being and to lend a helping hand when needed despite the differences.

Yet, while we’re often more mindful of others, with everything that goes on in our lives, we often forget to be mindful of our selves. To focus on our health and well-being. To recognize when our minds and bodies need a break, and to prioritize the people and the things that are most important in our lives that will improve our quality of life.

As we begin 2018, whatever your New Year’s resolutions may be, we hope that we can all be more mindful overall. We wish everyone well and we thank you for being kind to your body.

Returning to Om [HEALTH & WELLNESS]

IMG_4969Is life getting you stressed? Do you feel as if you don’t have time to take a break? If so, then it may be time to recharge.

Here are some strategies we’ve found helpful when recharging and getting in some quality time:

  • Meditate – Take your mind off everything. And, we mean ev…ver…ry…thing! Even if it’s for five or ten minutes during the day, take a seat, dim the lights, close your eyes, and breathe. Focus on your breathing, as you inhale and exhale through your nostrils. Whether you choose to do this during the morning, afternoon, or in the evening, it’s a great way to calm and recenter your mind and body.
  • Plan a friends’ night out – Catching up with friends and family is a great way to destress and reconnect with the awesome people in our lives.
  • Have a movie night – Pop in some DVDs or binge watch your favorite shows on Netflix and laugh the layers of stress away!
  • Soak in the sun – Boost those endorphins and get some vitamin D while you’re soaking in the rays of sunshine. Please remember to wear sunscreen when heading outdoors :).
  • Nosh on some healthy snacks – We love snacking on nuts, fruits and veggies. The nutrients energize our bodies and boost our mood!
  • Get active! – Hiking, biking, boating…enjoy activities that get your body going to help the blood flow and oxygenate your system. It’s an ideal way to decompress and to take your mind off of the daily stressors in our lives. 

Doing the right things to destress can help to relieve the body of the potentially damaging effects that stress can cause to our emotional and physical well-being. At the end of the day, do what you can. And, your mind and body will learn to let go. To recenter. And, to refocus on the more important things in life.

Thank you for being kind to your body.

Foods to Get You in the Mood… [HEALTH & WELLNESS]

NS EggsFoods to get you in the mood…the mood to exercise that is. As warmer Spring weather arrives and we begin to enjoy more outdoor activities, we often think about eating better and getting into shape. But working out requires energy. So, what are we to do to get ourselves motivated? We can begin by incorporating certain energy-boosting foods into our diet, so we rounded up some foods that can provide the body sustained energy and enhance your mood to get you going.

Here are some delicious and great energy-boosting foods:

  • Eggs: A good source of protein and iron to produce hemoglobin that carries oxygen to the blood.
  • Kale and Leafy Greens: High in folate, a naturally-occurring B vitamin, these types of vegetables have been shown to combat depression, promote cell growth, and provide vitamins and minerals for a healthy body.
  • Ginger: Stimulates circulation, boosts the immune system, and can give your body a lift when it’s feeling low.
  • Nuts: Magnesium-rich almonds, cashews, and other nuts can offer the body sustainable energy for the day.
  • Goji Berries: These little reddish-colored berries are a superfood that can help to manage stress and boost mood and maintain energy levels.
  • Raw Cacao: A great source of iron and antioxidants for the body and has been shown to reduce stress hormones.
  • Water: By staying hydrated, this prevents the body from feeling lethargic. Drinking 40-60 ounces of water daily keeps the body well-hydrated and flushes out toxins.

Happy Spring! And, thank you for being kind to your body!

Spring Clean Your Pores! [BEATUY TIPS]

NS Facial Steaming - Flowers & PetalsDo you facial steam? We do. But not as often as we’d like. Incorporating facial steaming into your weekly skin care regimen can help keep skin clearer and give your skin that Spring-ready glow.

Overall, what can facial steaming do to help improve your complexion? Here are some benefits of facial steaming for the skin:

  • Detoxify your skin and manage acne – Facial steaming can encourage perspiration that helps to lift bacteria, toxins, debris, dead skin cells, and excess sebum, unclogging pores and reducing breakouts.
  • Get your glow on – The heat from facial steaming can help to enhance hydration, increase blood flow, and stimulate circulation to give your face a skin-healthy glow.
  • Reduce blackheads. – If you have trouble with unsightly blackheads, facial steaming can help to alleviate this condition by softening blackheads, allowing for easier removal and elimination.
  • Softens dead skin cells – This aids in the sloughing of stubborn rough, dry skin and allows skin to regenerate, letting younger, fresher skin shine through.
  • Better absorption of skin care treatments. – Facial steaming can help to eliminate buildup and remove barriers, allowing treatments to penetrate deeper and more effectively into the skin.
  • Relaxes and de-stresses – Sit back and enjoy some quality time. Facial steaming is a great at-home treat to help you decompress after a busy work week.

If you don’t have a facial steamer at home, you can use the hot towel method or the “steam tent” method. We like to use the “steam tent” method because with this method we can add herbs, flowers, and/or essential oils to the water bowl and breathe in the amazing scents for some body-relaxing aromatherapy.

Are you ready to facial steam? What you’ll need is a wide-rimmed bowl, a bath towel, 4-6 cups of boiling water, and herbs, flower petals, and/or essentials oils of your choice. First, secure your hair back. Pour the boiling water into the bowl, add herbs, flower petals, and 2-3 drops of essential oils of your choosing. Then, drape the bath towel over your head, creating a “tent” to trap and focus the steam onto your face. Keep your face about 6-8 inches above the water, far enough so that the steam doesn’t burn your skin. Steam for about 10-15 minutes, rinse face after steaming, and pat dry with a towel. If you do this weekly, you’ll notice a difference in your skin.

Depending on your skin type, some essential oil ingredients that you can add to the bowl to enhance the steaming benefits are:

  • Dry skin: lavender, rose, calendula, roman/German chamomile, neroli
  • Oily skin: rosemary, peppermint, eucalyptus, patchouli
  • Mature skin: rooibos, rose, frankincense, carrot seed oil
  • Acneic skin: tea tree oil, turmeric, lavender, clary sage

So, enjoy some relaxation time and happy home-spa pampering!

*** Please note, if you have overly sensitive skin, rosacea, are prone to fungal infections, or are pregnant or breastfeeding, please seek the advice of your medical practitioner before doing facial steaming. 

 

Are you a year-round allergy sufferer? [HEALTH & WELLNESS]

Incessant sneezing. Runny nose. Watery eyes. Asthmatic conditions. Itchy skin. Oh the signs and symptoms of allergies! With Spring on its way…this is the time we begin to brace ourselves for the onslaught of allergy-inducing culprits that oftentimes are pollen related.

But do you suffer from allergies year round? Could it be caused by dust and dust mites? Dust mites?! Those microscopic eight-legged creatures that dwell and accumulate in our beds, in our closets, in our furnishings, and in the warm and moist areas in our homes. They feed on dead skin flakes and their fecal matter, secretions and the mites can cause skin irritations and allergies.

So, what are some things we can do to mitigate our allergy symptoms year round? Here are a few tips that we’ve found helpful to reduce allergens and to improve our overall health and wellbeing:

  • Invest in a HEPA air filter to better purify the air inside your home.
  • Vacuum furnishings, sofas and sofa cushions, carpeting, mattresses, and floors regularly. If possible, vacuum daily to rid your home of dirt, dust, bugs, pollen, and allergy-causing culprits. Seal and dispose of the vacuum bag and contents immediately when you’re done. Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter, whenever possible.
  • Use protective covers for your mattresses and pillows to keep allergens out so that you can breathe easier and get a better night’s sleep.
  • Wash bedding and clothing in hot water and dry in the hottest dryer setting possible.
  • Let the sun shine in to kill bugs but cleaning is still necessary to rid the home of allergens.

So, with some thorough cleaning, decluttering, and preventive measures, we hope these tips can help you breathe easier all year round.

Thank you for being kind to your body!

Dull Skin…Let’s Perk it Up! [BEAUTY TIPS]

Has the Winter weather got your skin looking down? Well, let’s perk it up!

When our complexion is looking dull and the cold days are a drag on our skin, what do we do? We reach for some all-natural remedies in our refrigerator.

Here are some fun “perk-it-up” tips for the skin that you can try at home…

  • Avocado Mash – As you know, we’re strong proponents of using avocado on the skin. It’s chock full of vitamins and omegas (the good fats) that feed the skin, and an ideal remedy for those skin-drying days that could leave your skin feeling rough to the touch. Smash up some avocado flesh and apply onto skin. Rinse off after approximately 15 minutes.
  • Cucumber and Potato Eyes – Lack of sleep, stress, allergies…all of these can cause dark under eye circles. While we will not be able to help when it comes to genetics, potato and cucumber slices can help minimize these conditions. They have astringent qualities to reduce the appearance of under eye circles and hydrate the skin. Place some thinly sliced cucumbers or potatoes on the eyes and sit back and relax.
  • Citrus “Peel” – Exfoliate, exfoliate, exfoliate! Get rid of dead skin cells to reveal younger-looking skin and help promote skin-cell regeneration. We love rubbing smashed strawberries on our face as its natural salicylic acids help remove dead skin cells and fight breakouts. You can try this with oranges and lemons as well which could also brighten skin. The vitamin c in fruits offer antioxidant benefits that can help fight free radicals and minimize the signs of aging, rebuild collagen, and repair sun-damaged skin.
  • Sweet Honey – If your skin is feeling a bit toasty, spread a thin layer of honey on your face and let it do its magic. Honey softens and moisturizers the skin and its antibacterial and healing qualities are a welcome boon!
  • Wear Your Coffee – We support the wearing of coffee on your face instead of on your shirt! Caffeine can give your skin a well-deserved boost. Energize it with a thin layer of coffee grounds applied as a facial mask. Avoid scrubbing your face as the grounds can irritate sensitive skin and cause breakage.

So, when the cold, and snowy Winter days keep you indoors, get some pampering in and make cabin fever fun! Thanks for being kind to your body!