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Nurturing Wholeness | Five Wellness Habits This Year

The end of October is a strange month to discuss habits, I know. Yet what I hope to encourage is that shifting a lifestyle pattern can happen at any point in the year, with the simplest goal, the smallest choice. It doesn’t need to happen all at once either, beginning every change at the same time, bombarding your new year with new rhythms and routines. But when the impulse or longing for change hits, it’s best not to wait but to simply begin right then, regardless of your original agenda. Here are five wellness habits I established this year for my body, mind, and spirit, all beginning at different points, in different months, based simply by a need I noticed in my lifestyle. Some of them are merely tweaking something I had already been doing, some of it is based on consistency, some was beginning something new altogether.

Screen-free Days | Although our family began this practice before this year, my attitude changed at the onset of 2018. Instead of screen-free days feeling like a discipline and restraint, it became a day I looked forward to, a liberating, unapologetic practice of self-care for myself and our home. My phone can be the slipperiest part on my end, for sure, so I often turn it off and set it aside for the day. Yes, I miss texts. Yes, I miss important updates and news. Yes, I miss phone calls from friends or family members. But only for that day. The personal and social updates are always waiting for me when I return the following day, and I find myself more grounded in the midst of the noise and information. Plus, as a family, we enjoy one full day each week with quiet, with the simplicity of only the relationships and activities we’re enjoying right that minute. It’s somewhat like stepping out of a crowded bar or restaurant into the quiet night. In one environment you can hear; in the other, you can listen. The contrast is inviting. Helpful resources: Garden City (more about work and rest than screens, but so good!), Screen-Free Fun (for ideas with kids), The Big Disconnect, The Tech-Wise Family, Simplicity Parenting, and so many more. 

Reading, Meditation, + Reflection for Spiritual Growth | It can be difficult to discern the strength of my soul or spirit, but I knew at the beginning of the year, my own felt weak. I was distracted and pre-occupied with what was happening in culture, with popular opinion, and with my own image in the midst of it all. What is true of our bodies is also true of our spirits, if we want to grow in any endeavor, we must rearrange our life for growth. In February, I began rearranging my life for spiritual transformation. I began reading and studying the Scriptures again several days a week, most intentionally on my screen-free day. There was no set agenda other than creating space to hear what God wanted to speak. Sometimes it felt inspiring and revelatory; sometimes it didn’t. Other days, I began meditating on passages, perhaps a Psalm or a few verses from the Sermon on the Mount or verses I had read the day before. I generally take a small passage of Scripture (no more than 10-12 verses), and read the passage three times, slowly and intentionally. Ideally, I do this aloud, but that’s not always possible. The aim is to allow God’s sacred words to soak into me without expectation of what I need to do with them. I read aloud and repeat, listening. This practice led to forming a group of women to read the Scriptures aloud with each week, and also to recovering this practice with my children in the mornings. I began journaling more consistently again, thoughts, reflections, ideas I was learning in studies. It’s been such a life-giving practice this year, strengthening my foundations, rooting my heart in purpose. Tools and books that have been helpful this year: my journal Bible, journal, Garden of Truth, She Reads Truth books, Cultivate Journal, Sacred Rhythms, Freedom of Simplicity.

Clean Personal Care Products | I’ve mentioned my journey to clean out toxins from our home and bathrooms here before, so clearly, this isn’t entirely new either. Yet the more I learn about the effects product ingredients can have on our hormones, emotions, mental and physical health, the more I pay closer attention to what we use in our home. This past spring, I emptied my bathroom drawer of any remaining personal care products––makeup, deodorant, toothpaste–– that include harmful ingredients and swapped them for safer alternatives. I’ve still been using Beautycounter for skincare and makeup and really appreciate their attention to quality and performance as much as safety. Their products keep getting better, as do their standards. For daily makeup, I stick with a few basics that can be applied in just a few minutes, like this custom makeup collection (which saves about $50 when purchased as a collection). I often add this neutral eye palette and keep my favorite Twig lipstick in my bag for quick application, too.  This new limited-edition skincare collection includes my very favorite products and is such a steal for a starting point. I often share more favorites on my wellness page.  As for other products, I’ve been loving this deodorant, and although I’ve been experimenting with safe solutions for my sensitive teeth, I think this toothpaste or this one are my favorites. If you’re curious to learn about the safety of some of the products in your home, the Environmental Working Group is a wonderful free resource! Their Skin Deep database has info on thousands of products, and it’s best to aim for the lowest number rating (I try to stick with ones and twos).

Daily Exercise | At the beginning of April, something clicked. I noticed the soft, undefined nature of my entire body, the way my clothes had steadily increased in size, yet still felt uncomfortable. I was a busy work-from-home, homeschooling mother. I had accepted it, telling myself I was growing older and this was normal. I wanted to be gentle with myself, understanding the context for doing so many things. And I have been gentle and permissive. But this was not simply about body image or lofty expectations, this was about strength and long-term health. I was tired of feeling tired and out-of-shape. I wanted to feel strong again, to feel energy and stamina in my days again. Knowing I had to use all this thinking for positive momentum, I immediately pulled my dusty 4-year-old running shoes from the closet, pulled on my snug running shorts, downloaded the Sweat app, and texted my sister to ask if she wanted to join me. We began the BBG workouts the next morning, the first Monday in April, walking for cardio days and doing my best to finish the resistance days. It was hard. And good. Almost seven months later, I’m still at it and growing stronger and faster! I don’t have a sensational weight loss or health story, but I’ve established a simple 30-minute daily habit. My clothes feel better. I am definitely stronger. My energy feels more consistent. When considering workouts in the beginning, it was important to do something I could manage consistently at home or from home for 30 minutes or so a day, without gyms or expensive equipment. Over the months, I have used whatever I had nearby or in our shed for resistance: the steps on our front stoop, picnic benches, chairs, gallon paint cans, planters. I’m beginning to add pieces of real equipment now as a reward for all the hard work. But most importantly, exercise is a part of my daily habit again. Even on rest days, it is a mindful rest and time for stretching and decompressing and meditation. // Helpful Tools // Sweat App (They have different programs within it for different goals. I’ve been using the BBG plan.) Yoga mat (any will do, but this one is new on my wishlist), jump rope, hand weights, weighted ball. Begin small with weights and check Craigslist and FB Marketplace for gently used equipment.

Cleaner Eating + Drinking | Those terms can be so vague and slippery, can’t they? There are so many opinions on what is best diet-wise, and I am not about to toss another one at you. Although I began regular exercise in the Spring, by the early Autumn, I knew I needed to rest some of my eating habits for a time, too. I love a bold, dry red wine in the evening and a dark, pour-over coffee first thing in the morning. I love crusty bread, soft cheeses, and dark chocolate––especially when pulled from the hot oven or melted into a ganache. Beginning the day with a cup of coffee and ending with a wine pour during the dinner hour is a part of my daily rhythm of beginnings and endings, and yet, sometimes, I feel the need to test my life without some of these affections, to re-discover my mental, emotional, and physical health apart from them. The aim is not deprivation; the aim is wholeness and well-being. Health that provides stamina for true living. Next month I will turn forty, so this month seemed like a fitting time to clear and re-start my eating and drinking habits, before a new decade, before the holidays. A few friends and I joined together for meal planning and support to do a 26-day plant-based detox loaded with smoothies, juices, herbal tea, and high-nutrient meals, and without caffeine, alcohol, meat, salt, or spicy foods. As you can imagine, the first week was the hardest, with headaches and lethargy, yet by the second week, my energy felt intense and steady. I felt stronger in my workouts and runs, and clearer minded in my days. I felt better in my clothing and noticed more tone again. It has been so good. The hardest parts, as expected, were the cocktail parties or social gatherings and family meals, as I was eating something different from my family, which was weird. But it sparked so many conversations about freedom and choice, the ways in which we use our freedom to make hard decisions. Such a good lesson and so many applications. I have finished the detox now and am creating my own meal plans again, but this time with more intention toward vegetables and fruits. I am delaying introducing coffee and meat again, although I did enjoy a small glass of natural organic wine over the weekend. Right now, I don’t know where I am heading, but I am excited to protect some new boundaries, to search out economical ways to enjoy whole foods and play with new flavors and recipes. // Helpful Tools // A detox partner or group. 

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Six Favorites for Glowing Autumn Skin

Although I do much to protect my skin in the summertime, I always seem prone to dry spots and dullness as the weather cools off and summer’s kiss fades. I imagine I’m not alone. The best combat against dryness and dullness is diet. I can always see the evidence of my diet in my skin. So when I appear piqued, I focus first on eating and drinking more fresh produce and of course drinking an appropriate amount of water. It always makes a difference.

But sometimes, especially as my skin ages, I need something more to fill in those deepening fine lines, dark spots, and dry patches. Feeling the same? Below are my six favorite products to hydrate, nourish, and leave my skin glowing.

Cleansing Balm to Hydrate / Hydrate on the inside. Hydrate on the outside. If you’re needing more moisture, this is your product. I can’t rave enough. The Cleansing Balm is my very favorite product for all seasons, but especially in the colder months when my skin becomes drier. Loaded with Vitamin C and various berry oil extracts, this will cleanse, hydrate, and brighten your skin tones. My skin looks smoother and feels softer with this balm, and I never have that “tight skin” feel after washing my face. Whether you’re a beauty minimalist or in need a catch-all product for travel, this is worth it! Rub on dry skin, and remove with a warm muslin cloth (included with the purchase).

Nourishing Cream Exfoliant to Regenerate Cells / Sloughing off dry, dead skin helps boost cell regeneration in your skin––something that happens naturally in young skin and slows down as we age. This creamy exfoliant doubles as a cleanser for me two mornings a week. The jojoba beads are gentle for your skin and the environment, as most exfoliants contain harmful plastic beads now negatively impacting our oceans and sea life.

Rejuvenating Radiance Serum to Brighten Skin Tones/ Okay, truthfully, I love the entire Rejuvenating Collection, but I noticed an immediate difference when I began using this serum twice a day beneath my moisturizer. After just a couple of weeks, it had begun noticeably firming and brightening my skin, including a couple of dark spots on my face. Plus, I only need one pump to cover my entire face and neck so it last a while.

No. 01 Brightening Face Oil to Improve Luster/ Wait. Oil? On my face? I know. Each of the face oils are a blend of seven different plant oils targeted toward specific skin treatments. This one, recently awarded by Allure’s Best of Beauty for 2017, is for brightening––exactly what I want following the sun-drenched season. The No. 1 oil includes Vitamin C and blend of several oils, including rose hip, black currant, and orange. Plus this doubles as a hair serum for frayed ends, a spot treatment for dry patches, and a primer to even makeup application.

Color Pinch Cream Blusher in Caramel to Contour Face/ This one was unexpected, but has climbed to be one of my daily favorites. I swipe it just along my cheekbones and gently rub in as a contouring bronzer. I often dab a little on my eyelids for a quick spot of color, too. Made with Jojoba ester and carnauba wax, the cream blusher blends well, but also condition and hydrate skin.

Sheer Lipstick in Currant to Add Lustrous Autumn Color/ I tend to stick with lighter, more neutral lip shades, but I love this one for Autumn. In the day, I may just dab a bit for a light flush to my lips, but I love the more concentrated color for the evening or nights out.


As a consultant with Beautycounter, I earn a commission on all purchases through my site. I am sharing them with you because I love the products, the transparency of the ingredients, the public mission for safety, and of course, because I have noticed a beautiful change in my skin as a result of using them. If you have any questions or are interested to hear more about the opportunities with Beautycounter, please feel free to email me!  Thank you for supporting my growing space and small business. You are a gift. 

Skin Wellness for Tweens + Teens

Our oldest bridged into the teen years last year, with the next two following close behind. I’ve found myself in a whole new world as a parent, reading books on the teen brain and hormones (this one and this one have been my recent favorites), learning to adjust my parenting a bit, coming alongside them more often with questions rather than directives. Somedays it feels tricky and confusing, filled with emotion and challenging conversations, but I’m truly loving this new season for our family. For all the uncertainty and new terrain, there is so much adventure, laughter, and wonderful depth right now, too. I wrote an article for Wild+Free this month on how we are currently shifting our homeschool with teens, and you can find that here, if you’re interested to read more. But today, I want to talk about skincare and personal hygiene, a common topic around our home these days with all the growing and changing bodies. 😉

My mother has often said, “we’ll sometimes do for others what we won’t do for ourselves.” Isn’t that often the mantra of parenthood? I’ve butted into this truth so many times on this journey, and I was recently reminded in The Soul of Discipline, “Kids pay attention to our actions much more than they do what we say.” This is true about most things in parenting, and as our conversations about self-care and skin begin to deepen, I’m mindful to reflect again on my own personal care. Our children are always watching us––how we handle stress, the foods and drinks we consume, the boundaries we create for myself––all of it. As a parent, I’m learning, this isn’t about being perfect, or only showing them what I want them to see. They need to see my humanity and struggle, too. They need to see how I adapt to unexpected happenings and even the times I make exceptions or bend the rules. Still, I am mindful that as a parent, if I want my children to follow a certain habit, it’s always easier if they notice me cultivating that habit, too.

LIFESTYLE FACTORS

Like many parents, Mark and I have always encouraged healthy self-care practices in our children: regular bathing, teeth brushing, early bedtimes, limited sugar and screen-time, plenty of water, and so on. But as they have grown older, they naturally have more questions about these boundaries, often challenging us with the ubiquitous why?  As a result, our conversations about wellness are deepening, extensions of the same topics, shifting in purpose. As skin breakouts and hormones are becoming a more relevant topic in our home, so are these other conversations. How do we take care of our skin? And what are the factors that affect our skin?

Hydrate / Water. Water. Water. Our skin is our largest organ, made up of cells composed mostly of––you guessed it––water! When our bodies dehydrate, not only does it affect our digestion, circulation, and brain function, but it also negatively impacts our skin, preventing the toxin elimination and even leading to dry, flaky skin and premature skin aging. Proper hydration helps our brain to function more clearly, too, improving cognitive function in children and adults, too. According to the University of Wisconsin Health Center, our skin is the last organ to receive water, so it’s imperative to add water to the skin topically (through baths/showers) and moisturize skin within a few minutes to retain hydration, whether on our face or body. This may seem irrelevant to teens, whose skin quickly rejuvenates collagen, but again, we’re trying to build lifetime habits now!

Protect / While at the beach last week, my sister and I were laughing how we used to fry our skin in our teen years, thinking that was the way to golden, luminous skin. How silly! Baking light skin in the sun for long periods will only lead to sunburn and skin damage. I love this video taken with a UV camera for understanding the importance of sun screen daily (it’s crazy!).

Nourish / Your skin can sometimes tell you something about the inside of your body, too. Inflamed or irritated skin may be provoked by food sensitivities or diets too high in saturated fats and sugars. Skin breakouts in our home have welcomed deeper conversations about the foods we eat and how it is connected to our health. Oodles of books and blog posts have been written on this, and while the details sometimes vary, some basic tenants we return to are: limit sugar, eat whole foods and plenty of veggies, make it ourselves, and drink water. These practices of course affect more than our skin, and I hope they forge habits in my children than continue long after the finicking teen skin years have passed.

 

BEAUTYCOUNTER

I’ve written a bit here before about Beautycounter and their never list, their commitment  to never use over 1500 harmful or potentially harmful chemicals in their products. This has become a larger conversation in our home in recent months as my children have more and more questions about their skin, whether it’s why my daughter’s skin breaks out in a rash when she uses over the counter lip glosses marketed to children, or a more mature conversation about the effects of heavy metals and certain chemicals stored up in our body over time. While the choices to clean our home of toxins by making our own home cleaning products, filtering our water, and purchasing safer products may seem arbitrary to my young adults, they are not. Again, the point is not to cultivate perfection or fear, but to educate them in a natural way that what they do matters. I love the way essential oils and Beautycounter products have naturally opened these conversations within our home.

SKINCARE

Because teen skin can be ask fickle as the hormones beneath it, I love Beautycounter’s charcoal products for purifying and restoring balance to uneven or oily skin.

Charcoal Bar / This little bar contains activated charcoal, coconut oil, and green tea, and can be used on the body or the face. It’s perfect for teens (or adults) who struggle with regular breakouts, or who tend to have oily skin. To stretch it a little bit or to share with more than one child, I put the bar in the microwave for 3-4 seconds and, using a sharp knife, chop the bar into 4-5 smaller rectangular bars (the reason my current bar is a little short). 😉

Charcoal Mask / Masks seem so exotic and special, and they should be a regular part of your own weekly routine, too, mamas. But here’s one you’ll want to share with your teens, although they may be a harder sell for your teen boys. Wink. With a blend of activated charcoal, kaolin clay, and peppermint, this mask also exfoliates, leaving skin feeling cleaner and clearer. You can use it as a spot treatment, too, to help remedy a pimple quicker, or to help the tube stretch a bit farther. Start yourself or your teen at one mask per week, watching how you skin responds.

Nourishing Night Cream or Day Cream / Moisturizing sometimes seems ridiculous to young adults worried about breaking out. I remember thinking moisturizers would cause more breakouts, but our skin needs the topical hydration and moisture retention. The Nourishing moisturizers are lightweight, non-greasy moist

Nourishing Cream Exfoliator / I love this exfoliator and use it myself 2-3 mornings a week, in lieu of my morning cleanser. I encourage my older kids to use it once a week, too. This exfoliator is so creamy and gentle, using jojoba beads instead of harsh abrasives. This is a wonderful option in addition to or in lieu of the charcoal mask, especially for teens with drier skin.

MAKEUP

We haven’t yet bridged into makeup with our girls yet, although they sometimes ask for a bit of lip gloss or blush when we’re at home. But for those of you with older daughters, I highly recommend this book, as it gives a more in depth picture of the cosmetics industry and the businesses and organizations who are working to establish stricter legislation in the US. I love the way Beautycounter is working to create change in our laws for everyone, not just their business. They are also highly selective about their ingredient list and honor their commitment to the never list. Their makeup colors are very natural and fresh looking, opposed to heavy concentrated color, an ideal way to introduce your teen daughters to makeup palettes that are safe to use and also complement their youth.

To help your parenting dollars stretch a bit, here are a few ideas to consider beginning with:

Cream Blusher / The cream blush in the Hibiscus color can be used on cheeks and lips , in the Caramel color can double on the cheeks and eye lids.

Sheer Lipstick / This lipstick can also double on the lips or cheeks, too and has a large variety of concentration. One product, two uses. High-fives.

Lip Shine or Peppermint Lip Conditioner / If you’re not yet ready for your daughters to have color, but you want something out of your own bag to hand them while you get ready for the day.

Mascara / Made with shea butter and beeswax, this mascara goes on light and easy (perfect for younger teens) and builds really well for women who want more definition.

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Nurturing Winter Skin + Reforming the Beauty Industry

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In the winter, my skin tends to feel like the branches outside my door: pale, dry, and brittle. It is more sensitive in the drier, cold air, more prone to patches of flaky skin on my cheeks and pronounced fine lines around my eyes and mouth. I crave moisture, inside and out. After writing about the importance of taking care of our skin and my personal journey with Beautycounter in this post last fall, I thought it might be helpful to share how I am nurturing my skin this season with warm liquids and safer skin care.

HYDRATE FROM THE INSIDE

Two brief notes about me: I am cold-natured and I love coffee. This means when the temperature drops and our home becomes drafty, I really struggle to remain hydrated, often mindlessly swapping drinking water for coffee in effort to keep warm. For obvious reasons, juices and smoothies tend to loose their allure in the cold months, too. I know dehydration is an enemy to our wellness in general, especially our skin wellness, so entering this winter, I needed to find other ways to nourish and hydrate my self and my skin. With the encouragement of a dear friend, I began making a small pot of loose-leaf herbal tea each morning and sipping on it throughout the day. I still have a cup of coffee in the morning, but most mornings not until after I’ve had a full cup of warm herbal tea and a large glass of water, both typically during my morning alone time. Homemade broth, bone broth, and tasty soups are other ways I nourish my skin and keep warm in the winter.

winter_skin_beautycounter_2 Nurturing Winter Skin with BeautycounterHELPING REFORM THE COSMETICS INDUSTRY

As I mentioned last fall, after reading Beautycounter’s Never List, I realized how many “all-natural” and “organic” products were in our home loaded with toxins linked to things like hormonal imbalances and even cancer. Although I had already been using essential oils in our home, even with a few skin care recipes, I felt like my skin needed a little more attention. I tried Beautycounter and immediately loved how simple and light their products are and of course how my skin felt. While I am not typically an MLM fan, I have loved partnering with Beautycounter’s initiative to educate the public about what we’re putting on our skin and their political activism to see change in legislature holding the beauty industry more accountable. Whether you use Beautycounter or not, you can find out more on how to write your senator for cosmetic reform here .

Nurturing Winter Skin with BeautycountDAILY WINTER SKIN CARE ROUTINE

morning / Each morning, I rub a fingertip of the Cleansing Balm into my skin and let it soak in a bit while I brush my teeth. Using warm water, I gently massage a few handfuls of water over my face, removing some of the balm with my fingertips (instead of the cloth). I pat dry with a towel and pump one bit of Nourishing Day Cream onto my fingertip, adding a drop or two of #2 Plumping Face Oil, and gently massage it into my skin. And that’s it! If I’m planning to wear makeup that day, I wait a bit before applying it and give some space for the moisturizers to soak in a bit more. This is a good time to dress and make my bed. Wink.

evening / When it’s time to get ready for bed, I rub a generous fingertip-sized amount of Cleansing Balm over my skin and eyelids (especially if I’ve worm mascara). I often run the cleansing cloth (included with the Cleansing Balm) under hot water, squeeze it out and rest it over my face. This only lasts about 30 seconds, but it always feels therapeutic, a gift at the end of the day. I pat my skin dry and immediately spray my face with one broad pump of Rosewater Mist. The cool contrast to the hot cloth feels wonderful. I finish with one pump of Nourishing Night Cream on my fingertip, adding two drops of Hydrating Face Oil and a dab of Rejuvenating Eye Cream around my eyes (a little creamier in texture to the Nourishing Eye Cream).

THE ALL-PURPOSE CLEANSING BALM

You might notice the emptiness of the jar, but I have loved the Cleansing Balm this winter. Although it is one of the more expensive products, it is still my favorite, with an plethora of uses. I have used it for washing my face, and also as a mask 1-2 times/week for extra hydration. I often use it as a moisturizer on my children’s faces when they become chapped, too. I use it to remove makeup. I have clients who have used it to help with eczema and dry heals, and I recently encouraged one client, who is an avid runner, to try wearing her balm before a run as a mask to preserve the moisture in her skin.
Nurturing Winter Skin BeautycounterCAUSE FOR CONCERN

Did you know many makeup lines (even expensive ones) contain toxins and heavy metals in their products that can affect our endocrine, reproductive, and nervous systems? I encourage you to begin research of your own to make your own decisions, but here’s a helpful start as to which chemicals to be concerned about and why. Although I don’t wear much makeup, I’m grateful for Beautycounter’s initiative to provide makeup that is free of these harmful things. I realize there are many women who choose not to wear makeup, and I say high-fives and way to go. When I go places without a splash of color on my cheeks or a dab of concealer under my eyes, people tend to ask if I’m feeling okay or tell me how tired I look. All to say, I’m not yet to the place where I’m swearing off makeup. Beside the point, I feel better about myself with a little color. Wink.

WINTER MAKEUP ROUTINE

For daily wear in the winter, I prefer makeup that adds moisture and a little natural flush. First, I gently apply Dew Skin Tinted Moisturizer (No. 2) with my fingertips. It has a bit of a sticky texture at first, but quickly adds a dewy look that feels really good in the winter. On a day I need extra moisture, I may skip the Dew Skin altogether and just add a bit of the Cleansing Balm to my skin, letting it soak in like a mask. Either way, I then dab on a little eye concealer (fair, pictured below) to brighten my inherited dark under-eye circles, followed by a few light strokes of mascara. Depending on the day, I use either the cream blusher (Hibiscus, in the picture below) or the blush duo (Tawny/Whisper), with a quick swipe of the lip sheer (Twig, pictured below) to moisturize my lips. I just purchased the Coralbell lip gloss to dab on top for a bit more color this spring. 🙂

Nurturing Winter Skin with Beautycounterwinter_skin-1-5

A GIFT FOR YOU

As a way to say thank you to my readers and to help encourage the use of safer products in your home, I am reimbursing shipping on all orders of $100 or more placed through my personal site until 11:59pm on January 31, 2017. No commitment or membership sign-up necessary. Wink.

JOIN THE BUSINESS

For those of you interested in joining the Beautycounter movement, there are two separate ways to do so:

become a member / The membership does not require you to sell anything; it allows you to receive free shipping on purchases over $100, receive special promotions, and earn 15% credit on each purchase toward future purchases. You also receive a free gift from Beautycounter if you purchase $50 or more when you sign up, currently the Rose Neroli Hand Soap. Right now, for any reader who signs up through my personal site to become a Band of Beauty member and also places a product order $100 or more, I will reimburse 10% of the order in addition to the automatic free shipping and the Rose Neroli hand lotion. Offer ends 11:59pm on January 31, 2017. 

become a consultant / As a consultant, you would officially join my Beautycounter team and have access to several other people on this same journey. Consultants receive a discount on all product immediately upon signing up and generally take a more active roll with the Beautycounter movement. Whether you are drawn to the activism, wellness, or educational aspect of the business, consultants earn income doing something they care about that benefits themselves and their homes. Through my team, you will have access to an assortment of training and business helps and are free to move toward goals however gently or assertively you desire. Plus you will have access to other training and equipping events and socials hosted by the company around the nation. If you are interested to learn more or have any specific questions about becoming a consultant, please email me: bethany <at> cloisteredaway.com I would love to talk!

Nurturing Wholeness | Safe Skin Care

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“a series dedicated to nurturing and nourishing the self from the inside out”

Perhaps I am noticing my own skin more as my children grow older and I help them cultivate their own self-care practices. As in every other area of life, it is easier to lead them if I honor the practice well myself. It’s the hidden gift in parenting: we can’t give what we don’t have. Yet having a conversation about skin care is as much a conversation about genetics, food, sleep, and stress as it is about skincare product; it’s also a conversation about self-image and social norms. Each impacts the other whether we intend them to or not.

I have always been a simplest in terms of skin care, using minimal product and make-up, and for the most part, it has worked for my skin. But in the last year or so, like many other things, my skin has changed. Parts of it have become drier while other parts have become more prone to break-outs. (What the heck?!) Fine lines are forming, revealing where I smile or how I focus with a furled brow. And with my thirty-eighth birthday arriving next week, I am honestly asking myself this: how will my attitude be toward myself as I grow older?

While in a waiting room with my children the other day, my girls noticed a magazine with a Botox ad in it: a beautiful woman, peacefully closing her eyes while a needle pushed into the skin at the corner of her brow. Their expressions told me all. They didn’t remark at her loveliness or her content mannerisms, they only noted the injection with horrified expressions, looking to me to explain whether this would be their fate as women. In a very simplified way, I explained the cultural pressure to look young and wrinkle-less, to which they both looked pained and shocked. Blythe responded, “Why? Wrinkles are the fun part of getting older!” I immediately jotted those words down so I can remember them now and forever. As I head into all the middle years of life, I want to be gentle with myself and my skin. I want to look forward and not backward, to view my forming wrinkles and lines not as an indicator of waning beauty, but an invitation into a deeper one.

This year, I read (and loved) the book Skin Cleanse and initially followed her journal and elimination idea with my food and lifestyle for 7-10 days to begin making note of what might be causing negative reactions in my skin. Taking some time to learn about this part of my body has been teaching me another way to appreciate, nurture, and take care of myself. So it seemed natural to share these thoughts and practices here, too. nurturing_self_skin_care_beautycounter-2nururing_self_skincare_beautycounter-9SKIN WELLNESS

It’s possible to choose the highest quality skincare and yet still negatively impact our skin by living with high amounts of stress, malnutrition, or sleep deprivation. Over-straining the nervous or digestive systems can naturally result in skin flare-ups, rashes, itchiness, flakiness, and so on. Conversely, it’s just as possible to eat and rest well and yet rub harmful products onto our face and bodies. These sort of products––with hidden harsh chemicals or metals––disrupt our endocrine system, negatively affecting our hormone levels leading to changes in mood, sexual development, metabolism, and our skin’s appearance. That’s right, ladies. Here’s an informative article from the Journal of Applied Toxicology.

Although I’ve always known our skin is important, I have never really thought of it as an organ. In fact, it is our largest organ, and according to this article, it makes up 8 pounds or 22 square feet of the human body. With three separate layers, it is both a protectant and sealant, waterproofing and guarding our internal organs against bacteria. It is connected to our nervous system sending and receiving signals to the brain, helping to regulate our body temperature. And the briefest truth is how we take of the inside of our skin is just as important as what we apply to the top of it.beautycounter_nurturing_self_skincare-3beautycounter_nurturing_self_skincare-5 BEAUTYCOUNTER

I have always been particular about the products I use on myself or my children, even making several on my own with essential oils. But with the skin changes I’ve experienced the last month, I wanted something more consistent in quality to help narrow factors in why my skin was breaking out in certain spots or dry in others. I first heard about Beautycounter at the beginning of the year through a friend and was shocked by what I learned about the beauty industry after watching this brief video. I valued the company’s clear ingredient list and their commitment to the never list. As someone who has always purchased natural, plant-based products, I could not believe how many I had around the house with the toxic chemicals listed on the never list. Yikes! It’s been helpful for more than just skincare.

I decided to sign up as a consultant this last summer––a way to share things I’m learning, products I’m absolutely loving, and a way to help support our family. I especially love the business––their emphasis to educate the public about what we use on our bodies and to also transform the legislation around the skin care industry. Naturally, I have slowly been transitioning all of my skincare to Beautycounter and am now shifting my cosmetics as well. I know they are not the only quality skincare around, but I wanted to be clear about what I’m using and why.

SKINCARE / I began with the Nourishing Collection, using the Cleansing Balm to wash and adding a couple of drop of #2 Plumping Face Oil at night. I am slightly obsessed with the Cleansing Balm, so much so that if I could have only one Beautycounter product to use day and night, that would be it. I only use about the amount in my hand shown above, unless I’ve worn more eye make-up, and it removes all of my makeup really well (even mascara) and comes with a washable muslin cloth which helps gently exfoliate my skin each night. It’s a wonderful hydrant, so I can use leave it on my clean skin in lieu of a moisturizer. I’ve occasionally used it for my elbows or heels, something I’ll be grateful for in the winter. It’s perfect for eczema and psoriasis, too. I also keep the Peppermint Lip Conditioner on our bathroom counter, which I swipe on several times during the day (as do my girls).

MAKEUP/ In terms of daily wear at this point. Most days I use Dew Skin, especially if we’ll be outside for a while since it has an SPF. Like it’s name, it leaves my skin with a dewy look that I’ll appreciate more in the winter when I’m sweating less. Wink. I use the Skin Concealer Pen and the Lengthening Mascara daily. The concealer pen has a brush on the tip instead of a wand, which I love. It makes the application so much smoother. And the mascara is the best mascara ever compared to other non-toxic brands I’ve tried. It has beeswax in it, which helps it build really well. Most days I swipe one little stroke for a little definition. And for the evenings I’m going out, it will build really well. The Cream Blusher is next on my list.

I’ll also briefly note here that they’ve just released their holiday collections which can be a great way to try or gift a few products at once. I’m hoping to get this one this year to sample several colors at once. Feel free to email me if you have any questions.  nurturing_self_skincare_beautycounter-8nururing_self_skincare_beautycounter-3

LIFESTYLE FACTORS

But as I noted above, what I’m putting on my skin is only part of the equation. In the last year, I’ve also re-evaluated my entire lifestyle (hence this series), noting how each can positively and negatively impact my skin, too.

sleep / I know there are often other people and circumstances that affect our sleep (I hear you, parents!), but sleep is SO important for all manner of wellness, including our skin wellness. According to this article, beauty sleep is in fact a real thing, as blood flow better circulates to our skin while we sleep, affecting our skin’s dryness, puffiness, and color. If it helps, I shared some tips and thoughts about developing healthy sleep habits here.

hydrate / Our cells are mostly water, and when we become dehydrated it affects everything, including our skin. I have to really watch this in cold months, when I tend to want hot coffee and tea to help stay warm. But I can tell when I’m dehydrated. My tongue feels dry; my brain feels cloudy; my body feels tired. Drink water! To help, I try to start my day with a large glass of water.

protect alone time / Stress affects our skin! And in a very small way, carving out space for yourself in the day can help decrease stress. At the very least, it can give you time to rest or sleep. I often find my own time alone in my morning routine.

exercise / I am learning that exercise doesn’t have to be rigorous, but it can be. A daily walk can be as effective for relieving stress and promoting blood circulation as a run. Try yoga or Crossfit or running or swimming. Do what works for your lifestyle right now, but do something a few minutes each day.

eat or drink your veggies / All of our bodies are unique and uniquely process foods differently. But we all need fruit and veggies. I love all foods and try to eat whole foods with plenty of fruit/veggies as much as possible. Don’t get me wrong. I love a strong cup of coffee in the morning and a glass of wine in the evening. I sometimes eat leftover cake for breakfast on the weekend. Balance is always key. But I’ve found something that always help calm my skin is making a glass of fresh juice a few times a week. Here are two of my favorites:

A Hydrating Glow : 1 beet, 3 carrots, 3 celery ribs, 1 large cucumber, 1 lemon (or orange if I want a bit of sweetness)

The Immunity Boost : 1 apple, 1 orange, 4 carrots, 1 cucumber, 2″ piece of ginger

Like so many other areas of living, the goal is not mastery. It’s not achieving a perfect ideal. The goal is again to pay attention and to quiet the noise of our lives and listen to our bodies. When my eyes begin to puff or carry dark circles, I may apply concealer, but I also want to learn to pause, to ask myself about my sleep and hydration. When break-outs or new lines appear, I may be frustrated and try to fix them, but I also want to consider my stress levels and the foods I’m eating. All of these things are connected, all of these things matter to my well-being.

5 solutions for unruly hair

no.01       |       no. 02       |       no.03       |       no.04       |       no. 05

easy-hairIt’s been six months since my last hair cut, and with Spring and Summer’s humidity looming, I’m preparing for the coming months of unruly hair. The easy solution would be to get a hair cut, but in the meantime, I’ve been looking for a few easy ways to tie up my hair and divert from the typical side braid. Here’s a few simple ideas and tutorials I hope to try over the next few weeks. How about you? Do you have any tricks for taming unruly hair you want to share? I’d love to hear.

Holiday Hair | 10 Braid + Twist Tutorials

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  1. three twisted buns tutorial
  2. half-braided crown tutorial
  3. fishtail braid tutorial (image)
  4. easy + pretty updo tutorial
  5. scrunched braid tutorial
  6. the knotted ponytail tutorial (image)
  7. easy headband updo tutorial
  8. the chestnut bun tutorial
  9. romantic low braid tutorial
  10. messy milkmaid braid tutorial (image)

It’s the time of year for holiday parties and dinners and outings, and as a result, I’ve been hunting for new ways to style my hair. Because my life is so busy, most of the time I throw it into a simple pony or bun or braid. When I say most of the time, I actually mean every. Day. Occasionally, I’ll more intentionally place a bobby pin or style it if we’re going out, but even then, I feel I’m in a bit of a rut, relying on the same tricks (and most of the time, I’m ok with that). However, since I’m again overdue for a hair appointment, I imagine I’ll be wearing my hair up often this holiday season, so I’ve been specifically searching for creative ways to twist and braid this year. In case you also needed a little hair-spiration this season, here’s ten of my favorite braid and twist tutorials right now. Happy Monday, everyone!

 

 

hair trends | good news for mamas everywhere

As some of you have already noticed, my hair is like Rapunzel’s right now, only darker and without the magic, life-giving powers of course. I didn’t plan this; it happened more out of economic necessity, meaning I had one haircut/color in 2011. Ahem. This may in fact be the beginning of what “they” have so maliciously termed “letting yourself go.” But, let’s not go there yet. For women, having a quality hair-cut is expensive (let alone adding any color), yet we do it even when it costs us a week’s worth of groceries. I have cut myself bangs a couple of times this year, and thanks to 2011s ombre lights and braiding trends, my long overdue roots had a miraculous new name and purpose. Some women have or take the time to style their hair daily. I am no such woman. Only for special occasions really. So I’m always looking for ways still to feel good about myself and keep the “routine” short and sweet (not to mention keeping money for food, college funds, or better yet to buy a herd of goats for a family in Africa). So I thought I might mention for all of you out there keeping things simple, this may be our year to shine. Here’s some hair trends from spring 2012 fashion week: slicked back/glistening hair, scarfs, headbands, center parts, and gym hair. For we non-supermodel types, this translates: go to the gym, but don’t wash your hair afterward; if you absolutely can’t stand your frizzy, sweaty hair, wash it and add product to keep the wet look. Slick it back, tie it up, ponytail, braid, cover it with a scarf, or put on a headband. And if you prefer to have a more “finished” look, think big blow-outs with center parts and loose waves.  We can’t go wrong! Here’s some inspiration toward our beautiful simplicity.

For more pics: Harper’s Bazaar or Real Beauty