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Just Say Thank You:  How To Receive A Compliment With Confidence

In etiquette, lifestyle on December 11, 2019 at 2:54 pm

The other day I was with a friend who complimented someone on her beautiful silver gray hair and, in agreement, I co-signed on the sentiment.  Without hesitation, this person turned the compliment into a self bashing session then proceeded to tell us in so many words that we didn’t know what we were talking about because of our perceived youth and that clearly we were clueless.  Standing there listening to this back and forth, I felt insulted and uncomfortable and walked away, leaving the ladies to continue their fruitless exchange.  

To be on the receiving end of a compliment can be an uncomfortable experience.  And although you may desire the affirmation of others, it can be very easy to downplay, deflect or reject the nice things people say to you.  This behavior can be attributed to various reasons.  For instance, you may have been raised to not bask in the glow of a compliment because doing so can be seen as conceited.  Other reasons can be directly related to one’s level of self esteem. Those with lower self-esteem may struggle with feelings of unworthiness and don’t believe there is good in them for others to see.  For some, they think it makes them look humble if they deflect a compliment.  Fear can also be a factor.  For example, if someone compliments you, perhaps in a work setting, you might feel like you’ve been exposed and are now expected to perform on a level higher than you feel you are able to perform.  In addition, (some) women in particular are conditioned to be apologists, to cower and self depreciate so when we do receive praise, we can sometimes be quick to point out self-perceived flaws. 

Whatever the case, when you downplay, deflect or reject a compliment, you may think doing so is noble, that it makes you look good in others eyes, or that your reaction is no big deal.  This isn’t necessarily the case and in fact can have a negative effect (on the giver).  Rejecting a compliment can do several things:

  • It can be insulting and show that you don’t respect the opinion of the giver.  For example, if Nicole says, “Janet, your photo selection for the team’s latest project is excellent” and Janet responds with “Actually the photos aren’t that great” what Janet is saying is that Nicole is not a good judge of quality or that she lacks the ability to decide what she likes for herself.
  • It can make the giver feel uncomfortable. For instance, if Nicole says to Janet “I love that dress on you” and Janet responds with “I think it makes me look like a beached whale with stumpy limbs and the color accentuates my breakouts” Nicole might feel like Janet’s negative comments about her looks is weird and makes her want to run away.  Besides, why wear something you feel makes you look bad anyway?
  • It can lessen your chances of ever being complimented again by the giver.
  • It can make you appear weak or ungrateful. Compliments show that the giver sees something in you and values you. Downplaying, deflecting or rejecting compliments and praise can lessen your value in the giver’s eyes.
  • It can make you appear fake humble when you might actually be quite self absorbed. 

Instead, here are four things you can learn to do to accept compliments with grace and ease:

  • Just say “Thank You”.  It’s simple and acknowledges the good taste of the person offering the praise.  It may feel uncomfortable but say thank you and leave it at that.
  • Don’t feel obligated to return a compliment especially if it’s not sincere.  You don’t owe a compliment to anyone and please refrain from engaging in a compliment war to ease your personal discomfort.
  • Dont delflect or dilute the compliment with self insults.  Remember it can create a tense and weird interaction.  It’s also unfair to the giver because they don’t need you to unload your insecurities on them.
  • Give credit where credit is due in collaborative situations but still accept and appreciate the positive feedback for your input and participation.

Might there be an ulterior motive when some people compliment you?  Absolutely.  In situations like that, you can still accept the compliment and remain aware, trusting your gut.  There are also times when someone compliments you and you really aren’t sure about what was said.  Try to just “say thank” you and move on.

Are you someone who is comfortable with receiving praise or do you struggle with receiving compliments and praise with grace and ease?  Share your comments below.

14 Shoe and Bag Trends To Add To Your Fall/Winter Wardrobe

In style on December 9, 2019 at 7:31 pm

Sure it’s the end of 2019 but the cold weather is still in full effect and you may still need to shop for the perfect accessories for your fall/winter wardrobe.

We stil have a few months left in the fall and winter season and there are still items you may still be looking to complete some of your winter looks or to fill in your wardrobe in general. This season’s accessories (shoes, bags, and jewelry) are not only reminicent of decades passed (hello 90’s) but are bold in shape, color and texture.  Shapes exhibit geometric and architectural elements.  Colors are vibrant. Textures are rich, fuzzy, furry and smooth. You can get the season’s hottest trends anywhere- from your favorite online retailers, brick and mortar stores and even the thrift and consignment stores.

Footwear.  This season’s footwear can be worn with pretty much anything.  All you need is a little imagination and inspiration.

Chunky Heels and Square Toe Shoes.  Chunky heels and square toe shoes were the dominating look for footwear in the 90’s. Regardless of how you feel about this particular look, style elements of the 90’s and have made their way back into our lives and onto the timelines of 2019.  Although I have an affinity for pointy heels and toes, chunky heels (square toes) look great paired with cozy sweaters,  wide leg pants and full skirts.

Animal Prints and Skins.  Although these prints never go out of style, have definitely taken center stage this season.  Level up your footwear game of various prints and textures with varying animal prints and skins found on shoes, boots, sneakers and sandals.

Unconventional Heels.  More than ever, shoes are getting an upgrade with unconventional heels that mimic art sculptures like circles and dollar signs.  While this look may not be for everyone, it is definitely a look to consider when shopping for what innovative and different in footwear.

Over The Knee Boots/Slouchy Boots.  Definitely a sexy option for the season.  These boots can be worn with anything, including an oversized belted Blazers a dress or a sweater and leggings.

Mules. When you literally need to slip on a shoe and go and still be stylish, mules are definitely a stylish option.  This seasons options come in different colors, textures, embellishments and heel height and be worn right into the cooler months with fun socks and hoisery.

Purses and Bags.  This seasons’ it bags will do more than hold your stuff.  Ranging in price, style and size, these bags can take take center stage as the focal point of any outfit.

Furry Bags And Purses.  The furry bags of the season will make you want to get cozy and snuggle up.  Talk about having all the feels. Like footwear, the colors and textures are rich and vibrant and will complement many of your favorite looks of th  e season from casual to dressy.

Croc And Embossed Elements.  These textures are super luxe and glossy and have all the sophistication one can take.  croc and embossed elements show up on purses, clutches, totes and even wallets.

Jewelry-Like Details.  Keep it cute and fancy with chains and embellishments that look like jewelry.

Waist Bags.  Do double duty with waist bags that do double duty as your purse.  They are not only good for storing your belongings while you are out and about but can also cinch the waist of any outfit that you are wearing.

Oversized Clutches And Purses.  First off, who said a clutch has to be small?  Not I.  Pillow sized clutches not only hold all of your things but look great tucked under your arm while wearing a casual or sporty outfit.  Sure it may look like you are literally carrying your luggage but that’s your business.

Micro Sized Purses.  If you aren’t one to carry much at all this particular trend might be just right for you.

Bucket Bags.  This style of bag has been around for some time but they continue to make their mark as necessity in many purse collections and this season is no different.

Double Bagged.  Are two purses better than one?  Many designers seem to think so.  Great thing about this trend is that for some you can wear opt to wear just one or both.  

Geometric and Architectural.  These elements show up in the handles and or the bag itself. Juxtapose against complementary colors or as a bold pop against a monochromatic color scheme these bags are sure to up the ante of any look.

8 Fall and Winter Fashion Trends You Need ASAP

In style on December 9, 2019 at 7:30 pm

The fall/winter season is here and you may still need to add some important items to your wardrobe.  In addition to the staples you should already have in your wardrobe consider adding these 9 hot trends seen all over the runways to your wardrobe.

Belted Blazers.  Blazers, especially oversized blazers, are some of the best finishing pieces or toppers to any outfit.  Although blazers are always going to be an essential piece to any wardrobe, adding a belt to a blazer can really make your look pop.  The good thing about this trend is that you most likely already have a few blazers and belts in your wardrobe to get started.  And depending on the length or how bold you are, belted blazers make great dress, especially with an over the knee boot.

Animal Attraction.  Not sure about you but I will never NOT wear leopard print in some way shape or form.  Although this particular print never really goes out of style, we leopard print lovers can take a more frequent walk on the wild side since it has made a resurgence as one of the biggest patterns of the season.  Be bold and wear a leopard jumpsuit with minimal accessories or use this pattern to mix with other prints since it is actually considered a neutral.  If you like to keep your clothing solid, you can always add accessories like purses and footwear in this pattern.

Checks and Plaids.  There has been a resurgence of plaid, especially in suiting and is the  perfect pattern to incorporate into an existing wardrobe.  Purchase various plaid pieces, including flannels, to incorporate into your wardrobe and even if an entire suit is not your thing, consider purchasing one to maximize your wardrobe:  wear the pieces separately or together.  Like leopard print, plaid is good for mixing with other prints.

Bows and Shoulder Pads.  Travel back in time to the 80’s with these two elements.  I love how large bows can add a feminine flair to a look whereas shoulder pads add a structural/architectural appeal to an outfit for a bit more edge.

Capes.  Capes are great alternatives to traditional coats and jackets as the weather starts to get cooler.  More importantly, they make a number of looks in your wardrobe look more glamorous and can work any body type.

Knitwear.  Knitwear trends are showing up everywher, not only in sweaters but in pants, dresses and skirt so.  The options are endless as this seasons knitwear is not only lightweight but comes in a range of tones and can be worn in many ways: draped over the shoulders in the form of a sweater or worn from head to toe.

Colored, Textured and Printed Hoisery. Including socks, hoisery is one of the quickest ways to update an otherwise mundane look.  A far cry from your mothers boring hoisery for work, today’s look includes various pops of color and unique prints and textures to help you express your you style.

Lame, Metallic and Sequins.  Although these finishes (along with sequins) are usually reserved for holiday or special occasions, you really don’t have to wait until these times to get your shine on.  To get your fix, incorporate pieces into your look by mixing with fabrics such denim, knitwear or suede to balance the vibe.

Leather.  Nothing like leather (or the appearance of said material) to make one look and feel real bad ass.  Incorporate pieces such as leather jackets and pants into an existing wardrobe for day and night.  If genuine leather is not for you, you can also consider vegan alternatives.  

The Rise Of Single Ingredient Skin Care: Does your skin care have to be complex to be effective?

In skincare on December 9, 2019 at 5:15 pm

Simple, effective, and customizable describes the new trend disrupting the skin care industry.

As more people begin to understand the importance of taking care of their skin, many are starting to invest more time and money in pursuit of products to support their skincare goals.  For some that may mean actually putting a routine in place where there was none.  For others, that may mean an upgrade to a moisturizer they’ve used for years or adding a sunscreen or eye cream.  If you are a more advanced skincare user, you might also be one to use an essence, serum, peel, mask and an oil.  And, if you are really fancy pants, you might be a jade rolling, micro needling aficionado who has monthly appointments with your facialist.  All in the pursuit of beautiful skin.

That might seem like a of products (or steps) for someone to use on their face.  In some instances it is which is why it’s important to assess what your skin really needs.  Within the various product categories, most, if not all of the skin care products one uses on their skin has multiple benefits because of the many ingredients they are created with.  Nothing is wrong with that if you are getting the results you desire. Many of our favorite skincare brands spend years in research and development to create products that deliver first in class, highly efficacious products.

But then attached to this multi-step, muti-product routine is the all too familiar hefty price tag.  And the fact that you can still be confused about what may or not work best for your particular skin concerns – even after going to a skincare expert, reading multiple articles and reviews or watching YouTube videos.  To ease the pain of the sometimes exorbitant price tag, there is always the option of going to the local drug store to purchase your skin care.  But have you noticed that even drugstore brands are becoming more advanced, complex and expensive?

With that being said, many people are not opposed to using a $200 serum if it really works.  But what if there is a single ingredient product that gets right down to the heart of your skincare needs?  And what if that single (or fewer) ingredient item costs significantly less than its counterpart where a particular hero ingredient shares space with other active ingredients that your skin may not need at the moment?

Welcome to the trend of what has been considered fast skincare.  Fast skincare usually features a single or hero ingredient and a focus on customization without the hefty price tag.  With customization as one of the key components of this newer trend in skincare, customers know what they are purchasing, are able to target a specific concern and can use in addition to the products they are already using – thus allowing one to address their skin’s ever changing needs without the high price.  Why is this trend considered fast skincare?  Because there are shorter R & D times.  With shorter R & D times, the average product turnaround, from concept to production to market is about 18 weeks vs 18 months – a concept similar to fast fashion.  That, in addition to leveraging the power of social media and using simplistic packaging that’s still Instagram worthy allows brands to come to market faster and get in the hands of consumers ASAP.  Below are 4 brands that fall into the category of fast or less expensive targeted skincare with a single/hero ingredient.

The Ordinary.  Just a few years old, The Ordinary, which falls under the Deciem umbrella, focuses on “clinical formulations with integrity”.   This results driven skin care line is very affordable with prices starting at $6 and is free of parabens, sulfates and mineral oils.  It is still important to know your ingredients – the varying percentages and various ingredients can leave one confused.  It’s almost like staring at a chemistry exam.

Versed Skincare.  Versed Skincare is Who What Wear‘s sister brand and has 19 essential products under $20 that cleanse, seal, boost or treat.  There is a line up of serums, oils, cleansers and peels, all of which are vegan and cruelty free – products are only tested on humans.  The simplistic packaging features pastel colors with symbols that speak to the function or focus of the product:  hourglass – aging, bulls eye – target, sun-dullness and is definitely Instagram worthy.

Good Molecules.  Good Molecules is created by Beautylish as a budget friendly brand.  Products are fuss free and start at $6.  Rest assured that the ingredients are up to standard as this product line was created by beauty industry veterans.  They have worked directly with top labs to create products that address texture, acne, dryness and hyperpigmentation with easy to understand terms.

The Inkey List.  UK based brand The Inkey List focuses on 15 hero ingredients – all $15 and under.  Created by former Boots branding and product development team Colette Newberry and Mark Curry, their focus is on simplifying popular skin care terms.  The Inkey List includes skincare heavy hitters such as retinol, salicylic acid and vitamin C and is cruelty free.  They do not work with suppliers who animal test and they do not enter into any test market where there is no alternative to animal testing.  They also have an environmental and sustainability policy  and are making an effort to source ingredients from sustainable sources.

How To Pack Efficiently For Travel

In travel on August 12, 2019 at 10:21 am

Image Courtesy of Lucas França/Pexels

Going on an extended vacation or short trip can, for the most part, be exciting.  Packing for said vacation or trip on the other hand can sometimes be frustrating, especially if you haven’t cultivated packing a suitcase into an art form.

Packing strategically and efficiently for your travels can be the difference between having everything you need versus leaving items behind and having to make multiple trips to the convenience store or mall to replace items you forgot.  Strategic and efficient packing can also ensure that your items are organized and in good condition upon arrival.  Below are several tips, tools and techniques to help you navigate the task of packing for your travels.

  • Roll Don’t Fold.  How many times have you packed your suitcase only to reach your destination with clothes that have more wrinkles than a bulldog’s face?  We’ve all been there.  Rolling your clothes does two things: it helps to minimize wrinkles and rolled clothes can help maximize space in your suitcase.  When shopping in general and packing specifically, choose clothing in fabrics that tend to resist wrinkles.  If your clothes still have a few wrinkles after you arrive at your destination, try hanging your clothes in the bathroom while you shower and/or use a de-wrinkler for moderate wrinkles. 
  • Use packing tools such as packing cubes (great for rolling) and packing envelopes/folders (great for things like button downs which are better folded). These are also great tools to use to help keep your suitcase/travel bag organized.  You can organize based on undergarments (underwear, socks, hosiery), occasion (sports, dinner, events), day of the week and even color palette – whichever works for you.
  • Have a separate bag for soiled items.  Also, to keep things smelling fresh, use a sachet or even a dryer sheet inside of your luggage.
  • Begin and end with a packing list of items that you can always refer to when traveling.  This way you can plan before you pack.  This is also great if you are one to pack hours before your flight – you decrease the chance of you forgetting something important like your toothbrush or medication.
  • Use a toiletry bag (or Dopp kit).  Make sure you use TSA approved bottles to keep your skin/hair care in.  If you travel often, don’t unpack as you are less likely to forget these items.  TIP:  don’t fill the bottles all the way.  Storage areas of planes are not pressurized and can cause liquids to overflow if the bottle is filled all of the way.  Also, as a precaution, put bottles in a zip lock bag just in case something leaks so you won’t have a bigger mess than anticipated.  You can also put a small piece of plastic over the opening of containers to minimize spillage in case the top comes off.  Add a cotton round to items like foundation compacts to absorb shock and prevent breaking.
  • Leave extra space in your luggage for things you may purchase while traveling.  Also since most suitcases are upright, when packing, put heavier items at the bottom near the wheels to prevent the luggage from tipping over.
  • Keep jewelry from getting tangled by folding items like necklaces in gift tissue paper or 2 sheets of plastic wrap.  If you’re not one to keep the postcard that earrings come on when you purchase them, you can always use an index card or buttons to keep earrings (particularly studs) together.  Use a travel box, jewelry bag or small cosmetics case/bag to keep bangles and rings together.  You can also stuff these items in shoes to maximize space.
  • Use handbag dusters, large zipLock bags or even inexpensive shower caps to keep shoes from touching.
  • Put an identifying mark on luggage and travel bags for easier identification and pick up at baggage claim.  There is nothing more nerve wracking than to wait at baggage claim and realize that several other people have the same or similar luggage as you do.  This increases the chance of hurriedly grabbing someone else’s belongings and taking off in a hurry.  Use a brightly colored ID tag, sticker or even a ribbon to clearly mark your belongings.
  • Always pack an extra change of clothes, particularly underwear as well as important items such as medicine, feminine care, mints, snacks and ID in your carry onjust in case you and your luggage don’t arrive at the same time and place.
  • Wear your bulkiest clothes during travel so as not to take up all the room in your suitcase.
  • Know your airlines baggage fees so you can budget for it and not be surprised when you get to the airport.
  • Keep photos of ID and travel documents in your cell phone just in case you misplace these actual items.
  • Use a gadget organizer for things like chargers and earphones/EarPods.

Do you have a favorite hack that makes packing for travel easier?  Please leave your comment below.

Wardrobe Essentials Every Woman Needs In Her Closet

In fashion, style on July 18, 2019 at 7:40 am


Have you ever looked in your closet and felt like you had a closet full of nothing to wear?  Perhaps you had an interview or dinner to attend and an in a panic went shopping for the “right” outfit.  We have all been there.

Every season we are inundated with the hottest and newest trends off the runway that we are convinced we must have.  While there is absolutely nothing wrong with indulging in said hot trends, it is important to have key or staple items in your closet.  Doing so will be be the difference between feeling like you have nothing to wear and feeling (and being) ready for almost anything.  This concept is also helpful when building or updating your wardrobe and although staples items (and colors) will vary from person to person, the right pieces increase wardrobe functionality as well as creativity when planning outfits.  

Below are 19 essential pieces to add to your wardrobe if you don’t already own them:

  • Jumpsuit.  This one piece can be styled multiple ways, and, depending on the material, can be worn year round.  Pair it with a blazer and pumps/loafer for work or strappy sandals and a clutch for a night out on the town.
  • Lightweight Neutral Blazer.  A blazer can be worn with anything at anytime.  Great for layering over a sheath dress or for wearing with a t-shirt and jeans/skirt.  A tuxedo styled blazer adds instant elegance if you are heading out after work or if you prefer to wear something that is edgy yet professional.  If suits are not your thing, it can still be a good idea to invest in one because you don’t have to wear it together but you can instead take the pieces and incorporate them into other parts of your wardrobe to create other looks.
  • Denim Jacket.  Denim jackets are great for in between temperatures or for when you want an outfit to take on a more casual vibe.
  • Leather Jacket. There is nothing like a leather jacket to add a nice edge to your wardrobe. Leather jackets are great for fall weather and look great with a scarf and of course a great pair of sunglasses.
  • The LBD (Little Black Dress).  It goes without saying that having an LBD (or two) in your closet will keep you ready for a multitude of occasions.  Know your shape for the perfect silhouette.  Keep in mind that styles such as the wrap dress is simple yet elegant and is flattering on most body types.
  • Dark Wash Jeans.  Creates a look that is polished and can take you from casual to elegant depending on what you pair them with.  Keep it simple by avoiding distressed styles which can distract from a clean, polished look especially if you are in a casual “professional” setting.  Pair with a chic blazer or blouse for work and a sequinned top and stilettos for a night out on the town.  If you want an option that is more dressy, consider a high rise, flare leg silhouette in a more flowy denim material.
  • Basic White T-Shirt/Tank top/button down.  These are great foundation pieces that create endless options for anytime and anywhere.  In addition to your basic round or v-neck t shirts, add one in a silky material or with embellishment for a dressy look.  Other basic colors to include in your wardrobe:  black, grey, and cream.
  • Black trousers and black pencil skirt.  Both are great pieces to take you from work to play and can be paired with various tops and accessories.  Again it is important to know your shape to find your perfect silhouette.
  • Hats and Head Wraps.  These items aren’t only for not so perfect hair days but can be that one piece that takes your outfit to the next level.  Include styles such as a classic straw hat and fedora as well as head wraps in black, leopard and pops of color.
  • Kimonos.  Nothing takes a simple outfit like jeans/shorts and tank top to the next level like a kimono.  Explore a variety of textures, colors, and prints to include in your wardrobe.  Want to level up your look, add a belt, head wrap and a nice pair of shoes/sandals to make your look top notch.
  • Pump.  A simple pump can take you from work to play and can be paired with almost anything. A platform pump is a great middle ground and creates great structure for many looks, including wide leg pants.  Pointy toe pumps make the legs look longer and leaner.
  • Loafer. An excellent alternative if heels are not your thing or for when you cant take another step in those pumps.  Opt for loafers in various skins (alligator), colors such as oxblood or even leopard print which can add a little pizzazz to an otherwise neutral outfit.
  • Sneaker/Slip on.  This footwear choice can be a more casual or sporty/athletic alternative to the above mentioned loafer or an addition to your shoe wardrobe.
  • Tote Bag and Clutch.  A roomy, well constructed tote bag is essential for carrying your belongings while on the go.  A basic clutch is the perfect add on for when you don’t want to carry everything you normally carry in your tote or for when you need to make that quick transition from work to play.

What are some of your favorite wardrobe staples?  Do you have go to pieces to keep you looking stylish or do you find that you have some opportunities in your wardrobe?  Please share your thoughts below.

Elevate Your Skincare Game With The Power Of Retinoids

In beauty, skincare on May 30, 2019 at 11:15 pm

Retinols, which are a form of retinoids, have long been the go to when it comes to skincare multi-tasking and anti-aging.  Considered to be the gold standard in skincare, retinoids are like your big sister who can do it all.  Retinoids have been around since the 70’s and were originally prescribed for acne concerns because they help to slough off dead skin and clear pores. Dermatologists and patients began to see that with regular use skin was more clear and smooth, with fewer pimples and less discoloration.  Skin looked better overall.

What Is A Retinoid And Where Does It Come From?
To first understand what a retinoid is and what it does, it is important to understand where retinoids come from.  Retinoids are derived from Vitamin A which occurs naturally in the body and can also be found in animal or plant sources.  Vitamin A is important because it is responsible for things like good vision and healthy bones as well as healthy cell turnover and collagen production.  

The term retinoid is the category name or umbrella under which the terms retin-a and retinol fall under.  Retin-A (aka tretinoin) is available with a prescription.  Retinol, the more common form of retinoid, is known by more familiar terms such as retinol palmitate, retinol acetate and retinol linoleate.  These forms tend to be more gentle and are a perfect introduction into the world of retinoids.   Retinols don’t need a prescription and can be found over the counter – in your favorite beauty stores.

How Do Retinoids Work And How Are They Different Than AHA’s And BHA’s? 

Retinoids, which work in the deeper layers of the skin, help to reduce the appearance of fine line, wrinkles, discoloration and enlarged pores.  They also help with cell renewal and collagen production.  The later two functions are important to note as they relate to anti-aging concerns because when you reach the age of 30, cell renewal begins to slow down, occurring evey 60 days or so as opposed to every 28-30 days when in your twenties. Slower cell turnover leads to dull, lackluster, congested skin.   In addition, collagen production, which is responsible for giving our skin, bones and connective tissues the structure they need, also begins to decline as well when we age.  This reduction in collagen production is responsible for fine lines, deep wrinkles and sagging, less plump skin. Retinoids work to increase skin thickness and elasticity in the deeper layers where wrinkles begin.  They also slow down the breakdown of collagen and curb the production of melanin (brown spots).

So what is the difference between retinoids, AHA’s and BHA’s?  AHA’s work on the surface of the skin to improve what we see while BHA’s work just below the skin’s surface.  Retinoids affect the deeper layers of the skin to push out permanently better skin and are more effective in the long run. 

How Does One Incorporate Retinoids Into Their Skincare Routine?

Start slowly and follow the directions of the brand you choose.  Directions usually instruct to use every other evening or 1-2x weekly, eventually working your way up to every evening.  Always use a sunscreen and keep in mind that results can take anywhere from 3-6 months of regular use to really see results.

What Are The Possible Side Effects Of Retinol Use?  What Precautions Should One Take When First Using Retinol?

Possible drying, peeling, or redness.  However, the new generation of retinoids deliver the same results with less irritation because these formulations include ingredients such as honey and jojoba to help soothe and calm irritation.   If you do experience any side effects, you can reduce dosage/usage but don’t stop completely because you won’t see the benefits.  Make sure you are using a moisturizer/oil to keep the skin hydrated and to counteract any possible irritation associated with retinol use.  Don’t use if you are breastfeeding or pregnant. 

Differin Gel.  Once available only with a prescription, Differin gel is the first FDA approved retinoid gel approved for over the counter use for the treatment of acne.  Differin gel contains adapalene, a form of retinoid that treats/clears acne.  Available in a 30 day and 90 day supply and has an accompanying cleanser and moisturizer. The highest dose still requires a prescription (.3% adapalene)

Peter Thomas Roth Pro Strength 3% Retinoid Plus.  Perfect for normal, oily, combination and dry skin, this lightweight serum helps to get rid of the signs of aging.  A key ingredients include caffeine which helps with penetration and the buffering complex of symitive 1609 and symcalmin to calm irritation.

Dermalogica Age Reversal Eye Complex.   This vegan, gluten-free eye cream is microencapsulated, ensuring potency of the retinol as well as better absorption into the skin.  Niacinimide, vitamin C and peptides help to ensure hydration, reduction of dark circles and plumping of fine lines.

Darphin Ideal Resource Youth Retinol Concentrate.  Infused with nourishing botanicals, this retinol encourages cell turnover, moisturizes and is perfect for face and eye.  To preserve potency and protect from light damage, this retinol concentrate is housed in individual opaque capsules.

RoC Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Night Cream.  This cream has the highest strength of retinol available without a prescription and works overnight to help reduce the signs of aging with pure RoC Retinol and an essential mineral complex.

Paula’s Choice 1% Retinol Booster. This lightweight fluid is a slow release retinol that actually boosts the efficacy of your other skincare products such as serums and moisturizers.  It also helps to even skin tone and improve radiance.  Can also be used alone.

Sunday Riley A+ High-Dose Retinol Serum.   This serum which is perfect for normal, dry, combination and oily skin contains a 6.5% blend of retinoid ingredients to fight the signs of aging as well as Hawaiian white honey, bisabolol and ginger to help balance and soothe the skin.

Drunk Elephant A-Passioni Retinol Cream.  The key ingredients of Vitamin F, triple peptide blend and Retinol 1% work together to help target UV damage and other signs of aging while helping to firm and smooth the skin.

Are you a retinol user or is it something you have considered adding to your skin care routine but haven’t done so yet? Leave your comments below.

The Interview. Karin Rodney-Haapala

In the interview on May 15, 2019 at 4:33 pm

What happens when the ladies get together for a day of makeup-art and conversation?  A wonderful time spent talking about life: careers, relationships, life lessons and of course beauty.  Ideas and laughter permeated the creative space and was the perfect backdrop for encouragement and pushing each other toward greatness.

Karin Rodney-Haapala

Social: @krhaapala, @damesativa

Hometown: Washington, D.C. (Currently residing in Silver Spring, MD)

Occupation:

  1. A/R/Tographer (artist/researcher/teacher) owner of KRH Arts & Academics and Part Time College Professor of Fine Arts at Montgomery College
  2. Depth Psychologist
  3. Cannabis Health and Wellness Educator and Co owner/Chief Creative Consultant of Greener Living Experience

Describe your style in 3 words. Androgynous. Comfortable. Minimalistic.

Where does your style inspiration come from?   Playing in an orchestra from 10-19 years old, I had to wear black all the time.  I am also drawn to the style of the abstract expressionist.

You have amazing skin.  Tell us about your skincare routine and some of your favorite products.  A fragrance free skin care routine is key.  As an aesthetician, I find that people use products with copious amounts of fragrance in their skin care products.  Though they may not develop an allergy from their products at that moment, it is highly possible that they will develop one in the future.

I have very hormonal reactive skin.  To counteract this, I do the following – in the morning, I use Ceravae Face Wash.  Then I follow up with a sulfur wash.  To finish up, I use an acne cream called Aczone,  followed by a Neutrogna Gel Cream and a sunscreen.  In the evening, I oil cleanse with grape seed oil and Ceravae Face Wash.  I then use Ceravae Night Cream followed up with Retin A.  I also get monthly facials.

You mentioned that you wear a sunscreen.   It can be difficult for those of us with deeper skin tones to find the right sunscreen that doesn’t leave that horrible gray or lavender cast on our skin.  What are some of your favorite brands to use?  For sunscreens there are some unsung choices.  Neutrogna Hydro Boost Water Gel Sunscreen is a delightful treat. I believe it comes in SPF 30 and 50.   It’s light and perfect for oily skin.  Black Girl Sunscreen says it all.  It is made for us brown girls by brown girls.  It fits along my “clean” skincare regimen.  It has no fragrance, parabens, oxybenzone or octinoxate. SuperGoop! Unseen Sunscreen is a treat.  It is gluten free and an affordable daily staple. 

I love your haircut/style.  What hair care items do you use and what does your daily/weekly routine look like?  Well thank you!  I use hemp oil to moisturize my hair and scalp daily.  I also use Shea Moisture Coconut and Hibiscus Curl And Shine shampoo and conditioner.  I follow up with the Ouai leave in conditioner.  I often wear protective styles like braids and twists.  After six years of growing my hair, I decided to get it trimmed.  I know…I know…Also, I shave my head every two weeks.

You are truly a multi-hyphenate. Tell us a little bit more about your career and what advice would you give to someone who might want to follow a similar path?  I guess you can say that I am an entrepreneur in many ways.  I do not have one set career field. I have many interests and skills, so I decided to create my own lane.  After ten years of service in the military and 6 degrees under my belt, I decided to never work in a cubicle or work a 9 to 5.  I encourage others to do the same.  It is scary to do but just create a lane and ride!

Tell us more about your work as a depth psychologist and as a cannabis health and wellness educator.   Depth psychology, which studies the unconscious, investigates the inner systems of the psyche and how these processes, such as dreams and/or complexes affect our life or vice versa.  Most of this exploration is visible in mythology, fairy tales, ethogenic experience (the use of psychedelics) and theology.  This work affords me to study the creative process and facilitates my students’ inner processes and, at times, reveals gems that heightens and expands their creative work.

Navigating the realm of cannabis can be overwhelming.  My initiation into using cannabis as medicine and lifestyle lacked when it came to open resources to study so I took it upon myself to do the research.  I now share that journey and knowledge with patients to teach plant based self care management.  As a cannabis health and wellness educator, I facilitate a learning environment that engages patients and helps them see the healing properties of the beautiful Cannabis sativa plant.  My business partner and I assist in the crossing of the threshold of medical marijuana patients who initially have a warped perspective of using plant based medicine (cannabis) in their times of need.  We focus on the science and individual experiences to suggest strains that may benefit the patient. We emphasize and promote a responsible healing culture for all.  Deconstructing and destigmatizing the ugly myth of exploring and consuming cannabis yields a whole new way of exploration and consumption of cannabis and thus the use of some harmful and addictive pharmaceuticals such as opioids.

If you could be any character from a movie, who would it be and why?  Brad Pitt’s character, Tyler Durden from the film “Fight Club” or Tilda Swinton’s character Madame Markos in the remake of Dario Agento’s “Suspiria”.  Practically any villain or anti-hero would be my choice.  Both are flawed and exude a depth of authenticity even in their non-heroic ways.

What advice would you give to your younger self?  “Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.” William Shakespeare

Are you currently working on any projects?   Yes, I am working on a thousand things.  My photographic work, Incidents, is part of the National Veterans Art Museum’s triennial.  I also just came back from Chicago for the opening and gave an artist talk.

I am the curatorial Consultant for the upcoming exhibition in the Fall called “Service, Art and Passion. Six Veteran Artist.”

As Cannabis Health and Wellness educator and Co owner/Chief Creative Consultant of Greener Living, we are preparing to launch our YouTube channel and Podcast.

Photography by @rozzienecole

Makeup by @khalilahneals

Styling by @krhaapala





PIT STOP: What Happened When I Tried Natural Deodorant For 5 Months?

In beauty, clean beauty, skincare on April 29, 2019 at 8:53 am

I have been on a journey of sorts for the past 5 months or so trying to navigate the natural deoderant space.  For years, I have given the side eye to the thought of using natural deodorants (and many beauty products with the word “natural”) because I have considered these types of products to be ineffective.  That coupled with people’s account of their own testy experiences with natural deodorants was enough to make me never want to convert.

Clean Beauty

Natural beauty products and their use is nothing new as these types of products have been around for some time.  However, with greater and more recent focus on the environment and sustainability, people have also been shifting their focus to cleaner living by using products (food, beauty and cleaning products, etc) that are perceived to support better health with fewer to no toxins.  With that said, although there are some products I love that I’m not ready to part with, I decided I would begin my clean(er) journey by starting with my deoderant.  A Degree and Dove user for years, these two deoderants have NEVER let me down with profuse sweating or smelly pits. I have always been confident when raising my hand, hugging people or just being outside of my house for that matter.  In addition, the pits of my clothing have not been ruined with stains or smells and life was good.  So, before stumbling head first into this arena, I felt I needed to do some research.  I needed to be educated and ensure that I wasn’t jumping on some scare tactic bandwagon.  Why should I, or anyone for that matter, consider clean/green beauty products in general and deoderant specifically.  Why is this a good idea?  I also wanted to stop feeling guilty and worthless because I wasn’t interested in making the change – despite what everyone was saying. Cause no one has time for stinky pits.  EVER.

Back To That Research

During my research,  I learned that that one of the active ingredients of concern in traditional deoderant/antiperspirant is aluminum. Aluminum, which is responsible for blocking odor and keeping you oh so fresh and so clean is also stopping a natural process by which your body gets rid of toxins – sweating.  Sweat in and of itself doesn’t cause odor but when mixed with the naturally occurring bacteria on your skin can cause odor.   It has also been found that traditional deoderants/antiperspirants contain other ingredients that can cause skin irritations as well as can be can be linked to certain health issues.  With the application of these questionable ingredients being applied regularly so close to the breasts, there is concern of increasing estrogen related hormones as well as increasing lymph node and breast health concerns.  While organizations such as the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the National institutes of Health (NIH) have not concluded that not using a natural deoderant can negatively impact one’s health, switching over is definitely worth consideration so I decided to give it a try. During my research, I also learned that there can be a significant detox period with your pits as you make the transition which can result in you smelling like a 15 year old boy after gym class.

With that being said,  I decided that I would wait until the fall/winter months to give natural deodorants a try.  I figured that I would be less sweaty from the hot weather.  To me, less sweaty means less funky.  Or so I thought. Not sure what would make me think that I was exempt from the impending detox period. 

So now, a run down of the clean deoderant brands that I have tried thus far…

Tarte Clean Queen Vegan Deoderant. Because I respect Tarte as a brand and enjoy using their Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Blushes and Tarteist Clay Paint Liner, I was excited to try this deoderant.  My initial impression of this deoderant was that it smelled pleasant and applied smoothly.   As I went throughout the day, I was unable to get past the moist feeling under my arms but that was to be expected right? Right.  Then the unpleasant scent began to linger under my arms.  I was definitely uncomfortable but decided to stick to it.  I would also reapply mid day to ensure fresher smelling pits but to no avail.   I also noticed that the deoderant dried out rather quickly and became harder to apply and yes, the cap was on tightly.  My intent was to finish what I started and use the entire tube.  However after a month or so of funk, swamp like wetness and general torture, I figured this particular deoderant was not for me and decided to try a different natural deoderant.

Kopari Coconut Deoderant.  Kopari is still a fairly new brand to me and I do like their Coconut Lip Glossy so I decided to give the deoderant a try.  Let me just say it was love at first swipe.  I loved the way this deoderant smelled and was infatuated with the texture and the smooth way it applied to my armpits.  I looked forward to using this during my am and pm beauty routines.  It did feel more moist under my arm than with the previous deoderant BUT my pits smelled good.  Initially.   The good times lasted for a couple of weeks then one day I got a whiff of myself and was frightened.  How could this be?  I wasn’t going to run away and again decided to stick it out.  I made sure I reapplied throughout the day which curbed odor but I honestly couldn’t get past the fact that my armpits felt like a raging ocean during hurricane season ALL. DAY. LONG.  After almost 2 months I decided to move on.

Farmacy Freshen Up All-Natural Deoderant. Farmacy is a brand that I absolutely love. From their Green Clean Makeup Melt Away Cleansing Balm to their Honey Savior All In One Skin Repair Salve, Farmacy is definitely a brand that I will spend my money on and feel good about it.  So when this deoderant launched I was extremely excited.  I liked the cool, menthol-like scent and feel and loved the way it applied smoothly.  I felt good about the fact that my pits were dry and stayed that way throughout the day.  I felt like I was winning.  Then a few weeks in I happened to get a whiff of my pits. The scent was enough to choke a baby elephant.  Again I was going to stick it out. After a month or so, nothing changed.  NOTHING. Enough already.

So after all that, what did I do?  I went back to my regular deoderant/antiperspirant  – Degree to be exact.  I have received some recommendations for a few other clean brands that I want to try.  But not right now.  I need a break.   I will definitely give an update on this journey because I really want to change but I just can’t right now.

Have you considered switching to a natural deoderant or are you a hardcore traditional deoderant user?  If you have switched over, how has your journey been?   Leave your comments below.

8 Things You Can Do To Incorporate Self Care Practices Into Your Life

In lifestyle, productivity on March 13, 2019 at 6:20 pm
Image Courtesy of Pexels.com

 

In recent years, the term self care and all that is associated with it has become quite the buzzword.  Although not a new concept, with everything that is going on in one’s life and in the world, people are beginning to see the importance of slowing down, re-evaluating their lives, and taking inventory of their mental health and well-being.

When you hear the term self care, what comes to mind?  Going to get your hair and nails done?  Going to your favorite restaurant for a delicious meal?  A little retail therapy?  There isn’t a right or wrong answer per se as self care can mean different things to different people.  These types of activities can definitely be considered a form of self care as they can encourage one to take time for themselves as well as add some fun and beauty to their day. Keep in mind however that some of these same types of activities can be confined to physical part of one’s being and may not deal with the deeper needs and concerns that one may have.

What Exactly Is Self Care?

First, we should re-frame our mind around self care, what it is and who it is for.  Self care is for everyone and there are many ways to do it.  Because it is such a trendy buzzword, it can be easy for it’s importance to get lost in the sea of swoon-worthy Instagram posts of beautifully arranged bath photos (nothing wrong with Instagram and beautiful bath photos).  With that said, self care can be considered to be something you do frequently and intentionally to positively impact your mental, emotional and physical being.  It’s about creating health and wellness habits that will sustain you in the long run.  It’s not a once in a while occurrence – it’s about these tiny habits that you create that lead to living a better life, thus empowering and energizing you.

But I Don’t Have Time.

This is a common statement I hear from many people – women in particular.  Women have been conditioned from an early age that putting themselves first is selfish.  It is your job to take care of everyone else because that is the mark of a good woman but this is not entirely true. Whatever the case, it is important to make time specifically for yourself and not put it on the back burner until you have some sort of crisis, health scare or mental breakdown because you have been running on all cylinders.  You know when you get on a plane and before takeoff they tell you to that in the event of an emergency, put your oxygen mask on first before you help those around you with their oxygen masks?  It’s the same thing in your daily life – take care of yourself and you will be able to take better care of everyone and everything else in your life.

Benefits Of Self Care.

There are many benefits of getting into the habit of taking care of yourself such as the following:

  • Focus.  You will be more focused and in tune to your needs when you take regular time for yourself.  You will also be better able to reflect on things that need to get done in your personal, professional and family life.
  • Better Self-Worth.  Having a healthy relationship with yourself will boost your confidence and self esteem.  You will be able to address those areas in your life that are not at your personal standard so you can make improvements.  You will also be empowered to set boundaries with yourself and others.
  • Stress Reduction.  Being able to step away to reduce stress and anxiety is a great way to lower your risk for things like heart disease and snapping on family, friends, co-workers.
  • Productivity.   Self care can help you set better priorities for yourself so you know what’s important such as doctor appointments, visiting loved ones and even writing that book or taking that class you’ve always wanted to take.

Activities that you can include in your self care practice:

The Art of Saying No.  Saying no can be the most loving thing that you can do for yourself.  When you know your limitations, whether it be emotional, time, or financial, saying no can prevent you from interfering with your well-being.  It may be a hard no which is final (like “no and don’t ask me that again”) or it can be a soft no, (like “not right now” or “I want to be sure that I am able to give you my undivided attention, how is Tuesday evening”)  Only you will know what kind of “no” to give.

Stop Apologizing.  Somewhat related to saying “no”, don’t feel you need to apologize for the decisions you make regarding the need to take care of yourself or anything else in your life.

Be Gentle With Yourself.  Sometimes the thing we say to and about ourselves is not very kind.  Would you speak to others the way you speak to yourself?  Probably not.  Treat yourself like your own best friend.  When you make mistakes or miss the mark, don’t berate yourself.  By making time for yourself, you can examine those areas of yourself and your life that need improvement so you will have a sense of accomplishment and feel good about yourself.

Watch Your Mouth.  Even more important, what are you thinking?  Because what you think shapes what you say.  Your words have creative power and become your reality.  You tend to nurture your reality with words and behaviors and that is what grows in your life – whatever it is.  So speak only the things you want to be true over your life.

Become Still/Incorporate Quiet Time.  Even when you are busy, you need to have quiet time.  As a matter of fact, that is when it is most important.  You might be having the craziest work day ever or you may have to care for rambunctious children and you probably only have 5 minutes to yourself.  Use them to get quiet and re-center yourself.  Quiet time is also the perfect time to pray and meditate.

Plan Time Away.  Be intentional about taking time off for vacation.  Nothing re-energizes you more than getting away from your regular grind and surroundings.  If you dont have the resources of time or money to go far away, do something local like getting a nice hotel room in the city for the weekend and act like a tourist.  Something else you can do is switch up your daily routine.  This keeps your brain healthy by strengthening your neural pathways and this will also help you discover new things.

Set Boundaries/Expectations.  Make it a common practice to let people know what you need and expect from them so that you never feel like you are being taken advantage of.  For example, if you don’t want people calling or texting you after a certain time, let them know instead of being mad about it.  If you don’t want someone borrowing your favorite scarf – ever, say so.  If it angers you when people don’t show up on time, say so.  Furthermore, don’t worry about managing their emotions around said boundaries and expectations.

Be Mindful Of Who You Spend Time With.  the truth of the matter is that some people are energy vampires and can be quite negative.  If you feel depleted instead of empowered when in the company of certain people, it may be time to re-evaluate the company you keep.

Whatever practices you choose to incorporate into your life, be intentional and consistent.  These are practices that may take time to develop and you may have to rearrange some things in your current daily practices for these things to become more permanent in your life.

What self care practice resonated with you?  Do you have some self care practices that not mentioned above that you utilize on a regular basis?  Please share your thoughts below.