Go Fund Yourself!

Unfortunately, my Go Fund Me campaign for my e-book did not quite make it to the goal and the money that was raised will not be collected. (I keep joking with myself that Go Fund Me told me to go fund myself. LOL!) I could’ve done better with the whole thing, but I think I let the fears that have been surrounding this whole process sabotage me. I didn’t do a very good job in promoting it and…I’m ashamed to admit I didn’t even work on the book during the campaign. I can see how the universe would not want to support my bad behavior! {wink, wink}

Yesterday, when I realized I wasn’t going to make my goal, I decided to stop waffling and worrying about my lack of appropriate tools for making this book. All I need to do now is focus on the writing. It doesn’t matter if my computer crashes a million times while I’m working – I’m learning to diligently press the Save button and regularly back up the file on my jump drive. When the time comes that I need more supplies, more money, or whatever…they will come. Until then, I have to get to work and be productive!

skincare25

I do want to take a moment to thank the contributors to my campaign. It’s funny – I love crowd-funding because it’s so wonderful to feel like you are helping a stranger realize their dream. I’ve contributed to a few projects now and it was a thrill, each time. My hope was to find other like-minded strangers who would like to help me with my dream project. Instead, I ended up getting contributions from friends and customers. It was very humbling and I am very grateful for all of their support. That includes EcoGrrl, Rachael of Sellwood Soap, Callah, K.P., K.S. and the lovely Marcia of Marci Ann Designs. Many, many thanks to all of you. I can’t sufficiently express my gratitude, but I can at least say that your contributions have helped me keep the fires of this dream burning! Bless you, all!

So onward and upward! Now that summer school is coming to a close, I’m making a writing schedule for the summer. This book is my priority right now, above all the other business projects nagging at me. I am going to finish this! You may hear a little less from me on the blog, but I’ll make up for it with this amazing book, when it comes out!

Enlisting My Peeps

I did something a little crazy just now. Something far outside my comfort zone. I asked for help. In a big, big way.

As many of you know, I’ve been working on an e-book about skincare since last summer. There were a lot of ups and downs, including other commitments (jobs and classes) taking up my writing time. But more than anything, I’ve been waylaid by technical issues.

The sweet, old computer, on its last leg.

The sweet, old computer, on its last leg.

Two years ago, as I was writing on my laptop, the screen went black. After many consultations with computer experts, I found out the screen had burned out. Due to financial constraints, I opted to leave it be and my friend allowed me to use his external monitor as long as I needed it.

Unfortunately, I was to find that this would be the first of many – many – problems. I’m at the point now where I never know when my computer will work or not. It won’t let me move files or delete them. It crashes every few hours – sometimes every few minutes. It won’t open most of my software. Etc., etc., etc. I am often forced to use my friend’s computer in order to get anything done.

I have spent three weeks pondering what to do about this. Several computer techs that I’ve talked to have told me that it would cost far more to fix all these problems than to replace the whole thing. And since this computer is VERY old, I’m ready to turn it in for parts and upgrade with very little eco-guilt involved. [wink]

However, shelling out that kind of money is not possible for me right now. I’m still working three jobs (outside this business) and make assistant wages even though I have a Master’s Degree. It’s all good and fine – I know new opportunities are opening up for me as the school year (and my three jobs) come to an end. But in the meantime, I’m itching to get back to writing my book.

After weeks of prayer and journaling, I decided to go out on a limb and just ask for help. I believe so passionately in this project and am so anxious to get it finished. And you know what? This is such an abundant universe – if it is meant to be, the money will be provided. If not, I will be led to another opportunity.

So if you feel so moved, pleased visit my GoFundMe page and spread the word! I have 60 days to reach my goal – if I don’t, your donation will be refunded.

(Incidentally, I started off at Kickstarter, which is a great website – but like many companies these days, they do not allow any mention of or products related to herbalism, beauty, beauty products or beauty and/or health advice. So I went someplace that has fewer limitations. Thank you, Universe!)

Thank you all for your continued support! I truly appreciate it!

You Create Your Complexion

Last summer, I decided to write an e-book about my skincare journey, revealing all the tips about how I healed from 15+ years of severely bad skin. I was cranking it out as fast as I could, totally high on inspiration and then life struck, so to speak. I had to stop in order to attend a week-long seminar in Portland, and when I completed the last of the online assignments two weeks later, I was in the midst of dealing with Etsy’s new policies. As you can imagine, the excitement I had felt about my book got buried in the anxiety, stress and disappointment I was experiencing at the time.

Thankfully, important projects never let you give up – they just patiently wait until you decide to get your butt back in gear. And I have. I started working on the book again last week and I can’t wait for spring break, when I can really put in some serious writing time. I’m reluctant to set a date of completion, with all that I have on my plate right now, but I sure would like to finish it by the end of the summer. Fingers crossed!

In the meantime, I want to remind you of the power you have when it comes to skincare. Don’t walk around talking about your “problem skin,” and stop referring to your skin as “acne prone.” You might as well order yourself a set of pimples next time you buy something from Amazon.

skincare26

I realize that this probably sounds really New Age-y and possibly totally ridiculous. But bear with me. What happens when you feel badly about your appearance, perhaps thinking you aren’t so pretty? You feel bad every time you look in the mirror. Your feelings affect how you carry yourself and how you interact with people. Your insecurity becomes part of how other people see you and instead of describing you as that gorgeous, glowing woman in the accounting department, you’re the dowdy, shy girl. Why? Because you are actually unattractive? Or because your own perception of yourself becomes what other people see?

If you are the dowdy, shy girl, that’s because you decided to be her. You fed yourself certain ideas and those thoughts became a reality.

See where I’m going with this?

Stop labeling yourself as acne-prone and problem-skinned. Uh-uh. No more. No more feeling anxiety every time you look in the mirror, or piling on the pimple cream, in anticipation of breakouts that haven’t happened yet.

Let’s practice a few new thoughts to introduce into your world:

1. I have beautiful, healthy, glowing skin because I’m a beautiful, healthy, glowing human being.

2. Perfect health is my skin’s natural state.

3. Zit cream? What’s that for?

This may seem like a silly and simplistic idea, but it’s incredibly important for all of you out there fighting with your skin. Just give it a try for 6 weeks and expect it to work. You might be surprised by the results you get!

My Skincare Project

As many of you may have noticed, I’ve been posting about my latest project on my Facebook page: an e-book about how I healed my skin from severe acne that persisted for over 15 years. I’m very excited to share what I have learned, especially since many methods I tried were oppositional to all I had been taught by the advertising industry and my many dermatologists. But it worked, and knowing the suffering such a condition can cause, I wanted to share my story in the hopes that it will help others.

Please stay tuned on my Facebook and Twitter pages. I’ll be posting tips as I go, like the one below. (I have to thank Melanie and Mark Rummel for this amazing idea – thank you, both!) Let me know if you have any questions you would like me to address, as well – I’d love to hear them! I will share your questions here on the blog, on FB and/or in the e-book.

I hope to have the e-book ready by late August or early September. Yay! :)

On another note, I’m off to Portland for a week-long seminar and will have the shop on vacation mode while I’m gone, as of Saturday. I’ve pre-written next week’s blog posts – let’s see if I can get them posted while I’m away from my computer! See you in August!

The right moisturizer for the job

Last week, we talked about how showers tend to dry out the skin, especially at this time of year. It is recommended that you slather on some moisturizer within three minutes of your shower to prevent the loss of your own natural oils and to protect the skin throughout the day. But what to use? You might be surprised.

There are generally four categories of moisturizers: balms/ointments, oils, creams and lotions. Lotions are the most popular of all the moisturizers. The reason is that they contain alcohol, which keeps them from being too greasy. They absorb easily into the skin and generally leave little to no residue. These lotions are not the best solution for dry skin, however – the alcohol (the ingredient that makes it so popular) counteracts the moisturizing ingredients! Further, many popular lotions today are rated a 5 or above at the EWG’s Skin Deep Database.

Take a hugely popular product, Lubriderm’s Daily Moisture Lotion. Check out this list of ingredients:

WATER, MINERAL OIL, PETROLATUM, SORBITOL SOLUTION, STEARIC ACID, LANOLIN, LANOLIN ALCOHOL, CETYL ALCOHOL, GLYCERYL STEARATE/PEG-100 STEARATE, TRIETHANOLAMINE, DIMETHICONE, PROPYLENE GLYCOL, MICROCRYSTALLINE WAX, TRI CITRATE PPG-3 MYRISTYL ETHER, DIMETHICONE EDTA, METHYLPARABEN, ETHYLPARABEN, PROPYLPARABEN, FRAGRANCE, XANTHAN GUM, BUTYLPARABEN, METHYLDIBROMO GLUTARONITRILE

Are there enough petroleum-based ingredients and parabens in here for ya? LOL! According to the EWG, this product is rated a whopping 7 (out of 10). They list the following as high level concerns: Endocrine disruption, Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive), Irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs), Contamination concerns.

Lubriderm is not alone in this. Go check out the Skin Deep Database and see where you lotion rates. You might be unpleasantly surprised!

The second most popular moisturizer is the cream. These are very much like lotions in that they absorb very easily and don’t leave a lot of residue. Why? You guessed it – most of these have some form of alcohol in them! These seem to have a lower rating on Skin Deep (lower is good!), but if you look at the ingredients in these products (Eucerin Cream, Neutrogena Hand Cream, etc.), they are, like lotions, made from petroleum-based products and are full of parabens. Not good!

The next category is oils. This is a great way to moisturize, but as you can imagine, many people don’t like to use oils because of the residue. However, this is a far more natural way to moisturize – assuming you are using a pure oil, that is! (Stay away from mineral oil and anything containing it!) My recommendation would be to use sweet almond oil, grape seed oil, jojoba oil, olive oil, etc. You don’t need a lot – a little goes a long way. Rub it into still-damp skin right after your shower.

Copyright: Five Seed

And if you really need some help for super dry skin, the BEST thing you can use is an oil- and wax-based balm. I think many people cringe when they hear this because we’ve been taught that waxes and oils clog our pores. But these are natural products and they know how to interact with our skin – and vice versa. Oils enhance our skin’s natural moisture and wax seals that moisture in, protecting us for hours after application. In my personal line, I use Coconut Vanilla Bean Balm (or the Tonka Balm) as a body moisturizer and for my face, I use Flower Balm in the morning and Flower Elixir at night (to give my skin some “breathing room” while I sleep). I’ve been doing this for two years now and I believe it has truly healed my skin from years of treating it with benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid.

If you want to make your own, I highly recommend using organic oils and combine them with a semi-solid butter – cocoa butter and shea butter are my favorites. I also recommend beeswax for the skin, though candelilla wax is another favorite of mine and is plant-based for all you vegans out there. If you prefer to buy them, make sure to look for a list of all-natural ingredients. Balms do not need preservatives or petroleum-based products or parabens or any other such nonsense! :)

Yes, oils and balms leave more of a residue, it’s true. This is why they are the least popular moisturizers despite their efficacy. There is a simple remedy for this, however. First of all, only apply a little at a time. You will find that you do not need nearly as much of these products as you would need of lotions or creams. Secondly, you can use a dry washcloth to blot off the excess. Make sure you give your skin a few minutes to truly absorb the oils/balms before you blot – this will help a lot, as well.

What kinds of moisturizers have you found to work the best on your skin?

When Wet Makes You Dry

Many of you who have been following this blog for a while know that I like to get a little dirty. I never shower every day unless I’m really dirty (and I mean that literally – like when I’ve been gardening all day and am actually covered with dirt) or really, really sweaty. The reason for this is simple – showering too often strips your body of its natural oils and dries you out. And the side benefit: showering less saves water!

I’ve mentioned this dry skin issue before and I tend to get a lot of skeptical glances. But it’s true! Showering really does dry your skin. The top layer of our skin consists of dead skin cells and oils produced by the living skin cells. The purpose of this oil is to form a protective layer over our skin, keeping the water of our bodies from drying out. This layer of oil also protects us from irritating substances and germs.

When this layer of oil is stripped away, the water content in our skin decreases, causing the skin to dry out. Do you know the most common cause of the loss of our skin’s oil? Too much soapy, hot water! The more you wash, the more you are drying out your skin.

To remedy this situation, the University of Iowa suggests taking warm (not hot) showers that are no longer than 10 minutes – and never more than once a day. Also, use soap minimally. In most cases, you don’t need to wash your arms with soap, for instance. Save the soap for the underarms, feet and groin areas. Plain old water is sufficient enough for the rest of your body.

When you’re done with your shower, be sure to pat dry – don’t rub. Rubbing exacerbates the loss of oil in the skin. Finally, be sure to moisturize within three minutes of getting out of the shower – this will seal the shower’s moisture into your skin.

What kind of moisturizer? Stay tuned – we’ll talk about that on Monday!

Five natural, eco-friendly skin cleansers

Go natural with your face washing routine. Instead of chemical-laden commercial soaps and cleansers, try one of the following:

Baking Soda
Sprinkle a little baking soda into the palm of your hand, add a few drops of water, and gently rub over the face. This is a wonderful way to exfoliate the skin, and to really get a deep clean. However, it is recommended that you only use baking soda once a week. Daily use can cause dryness or irritation. This is a good choice for oily skin types.


Castile Soap
Dr. Bronner’s castile soaps are effective and eco-friendly. They are made from fair trade, organic oils, and are so highly concentrated that one bottle will last a very long time. Use the bar, or the liquid for a gentle and earth-friendly wash. All skin types would benefit from this product.
Honey
This is another item that all skin types can use. It may sound like a sticky disaster, but honey is one of the best facial cleansers you can use. Simply squeeze a little onto your hand, work into moistened skin, then rinse. It comes off cleanly, and gets the job done. You can use honey as a mask, as well – just leave it on the face for 10 minutes, then rinse. Add a bit of brown sugar for a great an exfoliating paste.


Oatmeal
Soak about a tablespoon of oatmeal in warm water, then massage onto the face, and rinse. This is also great for exfoliation, and is excellent for oily skin. (You can find this in the bulk bins in most grocery stores and avoid the needless packaging.)
Oil
Oil?! Yes, oil! This is the method I use. Some people just spread a light coating of oil (like jojoba) over their skin and then rub off with a warm washcloth. I use jojoba with a touch of castor oil to really cleanse the pores, and I let it steam into my face with the hot washcloth before wiping it off.
The best way to wash your face? Just splash with water. If you wear makeup, gently rub it off with a wet washcloth. Nothing is more natural, eco-friendly, or inexpensive than that!

Updated and reprinted from my article at Examiner.

Trusting Mother Nature

On most days, if you ask me, I would say my faith in Mother Nature is pretty strong. I believe that She is wise and totally self-reliant. She doesn’t need our interference to keep things going or do things right.

My faith was tested two weeks ago, however, when I noticed my garden – one head of lettuce in particular – was overrun with ants. This didn’t happen last year, so I was surprised and worried. Yes, they were on lettuce, so perhaps they were having an aphid feast. But still, I had visions that they would tunnel through my entire garden and destroy everything. (Oh, the drama!)

I immediately ran to several stores in town to buy diatomaceous earth, only to find that no one around here carried it. A few days later, I dropped $30 on a 5 pound box of it that I found online. When I feel my garden is threatened, I pull out all the big guns! (And apparently, lots of money from my poor wallet.)

While waiting for it to arrive, I talked to a local farmer about my ant problem, asking her what I should do. She asked if they had damaged any crops. I said no – even though they were literally covering my lettuce heads, the lettuce appeared to be unharmed. Then she said, “Ants are helpers. They eat all the other little bugs around, and if they aren’t hurting your crops, I’d just let them be.”

Suddenly, I realized what I’d done – lost faith in Mother Nature. This tends to happen when things swing out of balance. I forget that Mother Nature is perfectly capable of rebalancing things all on Her own.

I see this happen a lot with myself and others when it comes to beauty. Our hair gets a little oily one day, and we feel panicky and start to wash our hair more often not realizing that this throws our hair too far in the OTHER direction. We get a pimple and worry that more will follow. The next thing we know, we are smearing on benzoyl peroxide and salycylic acid, not realizing how deeply this is disrupting the balance of our skin, potentially causing MORE pimples.

So guess what happened the day my diatomaceous earth arrived? I went outside to the garden and the ants were gone. Just like that. They had eaten their aphid feast (presumably) and then went along their merry way, leaving my garden as pristine as it was before they had arrived. The picture of the lettuce above is the one they had swarmed for a week – as you can see, it is perfect! (Boy, I wish I could get that $30 back!)

Just a little reminder to trust Mother Nature. Trust your own body to find its perfect balance. Do less to your skin, to your hair and let its natural beauty come out on its own. Mother Nature will always find balance whether its your garden or your body!

Sunshine, Suncreen & Vitamin D

Though I grew up in southern California, I was never a sun-worshipper. I was more of a “sun-ignorer.” I didn’t give much thought to the sun. I usually avoided it, preferring the shade of the trees in our backyard.

I’m sorry to report, however, that I suffered from countless sunburns as a child. Every spring and summer, we would go swimming at our grandfather’s condo in Palm Springs, and though my mother was obsessive about slathering sunscreen on her blond babies, we’d refuse to get out of the pool for reapplications. (Back in the early 80′s few were aware of the need for reapplying sunscreen.) I can even remember lying on Grandpa’s couch one night, unable to sleep from the pain of the sunburn that even hourly applications of aloe vera couldn’t relieve. I wish I could take back those hours in the sun and the damage it may cause in the future, but sadly, I can’t.

The always fashionable Samantha Jones keeps her skin safe under this uber-hat.

However, my past experience doesn’t mean that I cover myself head-to-toe in sunscreen whenever I go out. I feel that our relationship with the sun has become as dysfunctional as our relationships with other parts of the natural world. Some of us guiltily sneak in a few hours here and there to get some color in our skin. And some of us avoid the sun completely, using sunscreens (some of which have questionable ingredients) and covering ourselves with hats and tunics.

I started avoiding sunscreens about two years ago, because of their questionable ingredients. Since then, I’ve read a lot about sun exposure and how we’ve become a nation full of people with serious Vitamin D deficiencies!

Why is Vitamin D important? According to Dr. Frank Lipman:

Although called a vitamin, it is not. Vitamin D is in a class by itself, behaving more like a hormone. It is made in the skin, gets into your bloodstream and then goes into the liver and the kidney where it becomes activated as a key steroid hormone called Calcitriol. It then goes to the intestines, bones and other tissues, effecting metabolic pathways and the expression of myriad genes. Vitamin D’s active form can interact with almost every cell in the body directly or indirectly, targeting up to two thousand genes, or about six percent of the human genome. It is necessary for numerous cellular functions, and when the body does not have what it needs to function optimally, it follows that we experience a decline in health and put ourselves at risk of disease.

If you think you are producing enough Vitamin D, you may want to get tested to be sure. According to a 2009 study in the Archives of Internal Medicine, “70% of Caucasians, 90% of Hispanics and 97% of African Americans in the US have insufficient blood levels of Vitamin D.”

Our fears of getting melanoma have pushed us too far to the other extreme. Is it possible to interact with the sun in a more healthy way?

The quotations above were taken from a wonderful article about sun exposure and Vitamin D deficiency over at Gwyneth Paltrow’s website, GOOP. It suggests that, yes, we can – and should – have a more balanced relationship with the sun. The articles makes a suggestion that is almost completely contrary to the current trends: Go out in the sun without any sunscreen on! Now of course, the key to getting healthy sun exposure (and Vitamin D) is MODERATION. The article gives very specific time frames for people that will keep them safe.

One of the key points of the article is that sun exposure is really the best way to get your Vitamin D. It is very difficult to get enough Vitamin D from food sources (even enriched beverages), and using supplements can be dangerous, as too much synthetic Vitamin D is toxic to the body. You can’t OD on Vitamin D from the sun, however. As always, Mother Nature knows best.

Since you won’t be spending much unprotected time in the sun (hopefully), you are going to need some protection at some point. If you choose to use sunscreen, you need to be sure that you are using one that is safe for you and your family. You can check out the Environmental Working Group’s wonderful information on safe sunscreen here (this is the updated 2011 report which includes links to articles about current sunscreen studies). You can also read a fantastic post on sunscreen at EcoYogini by clicking here.

As for me, I hate sunscreen in general. I don’t like the feel of it, don’t like those chemicals on my skin, and most of all, I don’t like paying $30 for a half ounce of organic, non-toxic sunscreen (yes, I’m exaggerating on the price). I am not out in the sun very often, but when I am, I try to use sunscreen as a last resort (though I have no objections to slathering it on when necessary – I’d rather be Vitamin D deficient than battle skin cancer!).

Hiking in 2009 with MY uber-hat.

My natural sunscreen tips:

::Use an umbrella. Yep, it’s perfectly fashionable, and more importantly, gives your skin some extra protection.

::Wear long-sleeved shirts or wide shawls to protect your arms when you’re out. When it is super hot, this isn’t always practical, but I find this works for me when it’s below 85 degrees outside. Also remember that clothing is not completely effective at blocking the UV rays. If this is your only protection, you might not want to stay out for too long.

::Wear a wide-brimmed hat. Baseball caps and visors are cute and great for keeping the sun out of your eyes, but you want to protect your neck and especially your ears. Believe me, I have seen what skin cancer can do to your delicate ears. Protect them with a huge hat! (Obviously, if you are bicycling a lot and wearing a helmet, your skin will be much more exposed to sun, so sunscreen is a good idea!)

::Eat well. Your diet actually helps you stay safe in the sun for short periods of time. So make sure to eat those veggies!

::Stick to the shade whenever you can.

As Dr. Lipman says, “Have a healthy respect for the sun. It is powerful medicine with potentially dangerous side effects on your skin. Treat it like medication, using the lowest dose necessary, but don’t avoid it completely.” The sun gives us so much life – don’t be afraid of it. Just respect its power and be wise when you’re outdoors.

As always, a disclaimer: Please remember that I am not a medical professional, and that it is best to talk to your health care provider about these issues, do your own research, and make your own decisions about what is right for you and your family. Be cautious, above all.