Yesterday I woke up early with my list in hand and drove over to Whole Foods to beat the madness of Thanksgiving shoppers and cross this dreaded chore off my list for the day. I'm not usually a procrastinator, but I had been avoiding grocery shopping for the holidays as we have been so busy at LBF. My young niece Isabella reminded me that it's our tradition to cook together, which pulled at my heart strings because I suggested we "do something different" and go to a restaurant for Thanksgiving dinner. So, even though I didn't really want to full on cook there I was driving to find a turkey.
I did my grocery shopping, bought pretty flowers, picked up a few fun games for the kids and was thrilled that I breezed through this experience in 40 minutes! This is not typical for me as I usually chat with the cheesemonger for a bit or the flower lady who is always quick to remind me that peony season is not yet here (long story). I was heading to my car in the lot with three heavy bags in tow and saw what can only be described as a monster mini bus trying to squeeze in compact parking in between my vehicle and someone else's. She was one inch short of taking my whole driver's side out and that is not an exaggeration so I shouted, "Hey, hey, hey, STOP!!!" Trust me, it was loud enough for everyone to hear it, including the driver of the monster minibus who had her windows rolled up tight. She stopped. I began the conversation in my head as I walked towards the driver in the minibus. You know the one that starts with a few choice colorful words, thinking "this knucklehead thinks she can fit that giant mega bus in these little parking spots!" I was annoyed that she also managed to park so close I couldn't even open the car door with a key. Anyway, I arrived to my spot and knocked on the window looking inside to see a frantic woman yelling to me, "I know, I know!" I looked in the back seat and saw two babies in car seats. "Let me back out and you can have my spot," I said, but she didn't seem to hear me. Her face was literally buried in her hands now, she was crying. This was suddenly getting real in a way I hadn't planned.
I didn't want to tap on her window again because the babies looked scared and she seemed, well freaked out. I waited until she un-buried her face and she kind of threw her hands up in the air. I made the motion of "roll down your window" with my hand. She did and quickly yelled. "I'm sorry! My mother is having brain surgery today!" She began to sob. This time loudly and hard.
My heart just kind of melted and suddenly I was apologizing. "Hey, it's okay. No big deal, I'm going to move my car out and then you'll be able to fit okay?" I saw her shoulders bob up and down in between deep sobs. I saw the babies eyes grow wider and just terrified. "Excuse me, but do you need some help? It's all going to be okay. It's just a parking spot and it'll get fixed when I back out and you can move in, but it seems you're very stressed and I understand you're worried about your Mom, but please let me know if you need some help." She lifted her head up and finally looked at me and said something like, "okay, okay I'll be fine, thank you, I thought you were going to yell at me so thank you. Thank you for that" and proceeded to back out so that I could get in my car and back out, which I did. Thing is I was going to yell at her initially! I mean she was about to scrape up my sister's car that I had borrowed to shop at the grocery store. I thought she was being a careless holiday shopper. I was so glad I didn't. I made a loop around the crowded parking lot and as I was leaving saw her pulling her babies out of the mini van and make her way into the grocery store looking exhausted and heavy hearted.
Wondering what my point could be? I have two actually. One is, we never know what someone else, a friend or stranger is going through in their life, but surely we can empathize that their strife is worthy of our compassion. Secondly, no matter how stressed we are in our own lives or busy or consumed with our own little worlds we should make it a priority to extend ourselves to others, even if they are a stranger we will never meet again. I went home thinking of that woman. I wished her well. I also wished she could find some sort of peace or balance because I felt her grief and it was intense, her overwhelming anxiety of caring for someone who was ill, but I wished she could have realized she should have stayed home. Her emotional state was probably not suited to deal with Thanksgiving shoppers at WF or pissed off drivers on the road (or in my case parking lot). Maybe she felt responsible for preparing a meal, maybe she needed to get away, who knows? All I know is that I shared a very raw moment with a stranger and I think we both understood how fragile that moment was and how it could have turned out worse, but it didn't.
Life is a tricky thing. We walk around with chips on our shoulders, agendas in our heads, places to go, things to prove. When it all comes down to it all we really need to show one another is our humanity. We are all the same wherever we are. We all want the same things, we all love someone or something. We want to hug our babies and kiss someone goodnight. I'm glad I was able to put my ego aside and see the person behind the mini bus/parking lot incident. It's not always the easiest thing to do.
It's Thanksgiving day and I have a turkey in the oven already as we get ready to celebrate with friends and family. I feel happy today and am mindful that I am lucky to have so much love, good people around me, delicious food and that I am alive and well right now. I've worked real hard to have a new perspective about life because I have fought difficult battles of darkness (and to be truly honestly, I still fight), but I am happy and grateful today and it counts.It really counts. I am wishing all of you reading this right now, wherever you are and whatever you are going through moments of peace in your life as well. If you burn the turkey or have a fight with your brother's wife or you are in a battle with something I hope you take a moment, breathe deeply and feel some happiness and gratitude to be alive because there is always another opportunity and another chance to make it all better. There is always hope.
There are some words that hold both beauty and power in their meaning and when expressed can penetrate layers of thick skin, vulnerability and can simplify all of our complicated relationships with kindness. Two words in the English language that I try to use daily and appreciate more than any other these days are simple, modest and basic. Thank you. See? Simple and modest and so underrated.
I don't know when or why saying these words have become so old fashioned, perhaps even out of fashion for some, but to me expressing gratitude is an important part of life. When I used to work with kids I taught my students that looking outside the little box we all create for ourselves will eventually expand our boxes and teach us to live in a bigger world. When we are able to appreciate what others do for us and express that, we are showing compassion that every person we come in contact with has the ability to impact our lives. Saying thank you to the woman who wipes our table clean at a restaurant is as equally important as saying thank you to the boss who gave us a hard earned promotion. One doesn't merit this expression of gratitude more just because it benefits us more. Authenticity and gratitude should definitely coincide. Again, a simple act of kindness is a perfect reason to express gratitude. That's what I told the kids and what I wish to practice every day.
In our business we speak to and work with people all day long. Sometimes it's with our customers, but often it's all the behind-the-scenes people that makes our business work. Usually our colleagues consist of editors, bloggers, writers, retailers, sales people, PR people, producers, partners, sponsors and the list goes on. Sometimes we are in demand from some of these folks, sometimes not so much. Most times however, we are in a working relationship and it can become monotonous at times. The busy beauty editor will ask for products they'd like to review a day before a deadline and ask us to rush a product or a retailer will ask for a favor and we all try to work together to do our jobs as best as we can. Believe me when I tell you that it's not always glamorous and I get that we all get super busy daily, but as I notice busy people getting things done I also notice the lack of graciousness that goes into our jobs sometimes. I used to feel hurt when we'd send out samples for a retailer (who asked for products from us) to test or a beauty editor to try and once they received what they wanted or needed, nada. I used to wonder why they couldn't just send an email saying, "thank you, but we're not interested" or "we've tried your products, but they're not for us." I remember the days when I used to submit essays or short stories to the likes of Mademoiselle and Seventeen and also receiving "rejection letters" that stated someone had read my submission and thanked me for sending my story in, it followed with they were unable to publish it at the time. Those rejection letters were extremely precious to me as I valued not just the candor, but the graciousness of an editor sitting down to write it or in some cases adding their signature to a standard letter. It seems this part of our business is now out of vogue. The art of rejection with an appreciation for the effort made. Recently, I wrote a hand written thank you to someone for something nice they did for me and received an email that read, "No worries. It's my job!" I was neither worried or amused by this kind of reply just a bit embarrassed for this person that I still enjoy immensely. It seems accepting the simplicity of appreciation was overlooked and just as when a compliment is made your way it's perfectly appropriate to respond with "You're welcome." Gratitude is kind of just brushed under now and somehow one is supposed to understood that the absence of two precious words is acceptable business practice. Well, I don't accept that and I won't stop sending thank you notes, emails and hell, even a thank you text message if I must because acknowledging gratitude is not a debt for me and I am aware I don't have to do it. I choose to make that part of my individual consequence. It's all an oxymoron if you ask me. The beauty business is all about what we can do to make us all beautiful and nothing trumps beauty from the inside out that emanates from the tender part of your heart. It's just the simplest if not the most overlooked form of beauty there is to be kind, mindful, gracious.
There are a few things that make me really mad and rudeness is one of them. I think it's rude when someone keeps you waiting on them or doesn't return a phone call in a timely manner. I think it's rude when you send an email out and you don't receive a reply. We can probably agree that those are universal rude things, but I think it's the most rude thing of all not to say thank you to someone who has been kind to you or done something nice for you or shared something beautiful with you. It's as though someone makes a choice to receive beauty and not acknowledge it. I am learning though that instead of seeing red I should feel compassion for the person that goes through life without being able to recognize or express gratitude. My Mom used to say, "How long does it take to say thank you? A fraction of a second to say and a lifetime to remember it was said." That smart lady. I never really appreciated those words as much as I do now. As I interact with so many different people I really try my best to be mindful of all the little things we contribute to one another. I try very hard to express gratitude as often as I feel grateful. It is most often for little acts of kindness than it is for the big things that benefit me. Because truthfully that's what I come in contact with more often on a daily basis. I am aware that the kid who bags my groceries is working his way through school with his job and I need to appreciate his work for me and others. So yes, I thank the kid who bags my groceries just as I thank the new business partnership we've just made. Both in my opinion are worthy of the same type of authentic gratitude. One doesn't mean less or more. Gratitude is not the same thing as indebtedness yet I see many people treat it as such. Gratitude is simpler, truer. It is the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness. Gratitude also correlates with our overall well-being. When it is acknowledged and practiced, gratitude can help us sleep better, feel more positive towards strife and lower stress and depression. It is a different pair of glasses that some people wear in order to see the world and live in it more modestly.
It's funny how I seek this out in others now. It's so much simpler than the long list of requirements my youthful arrogance used to make in order to accept others. Now, I'm just acutely aware of what people I work with or share my life with who are genuinely grateful. I avoid getting into long term relationships with those that lack the ability to express gratitude or more often I avoid building relationships with those that don't know better than to accept it. Karen and I have a little hand written note in our office from a certain green beauty bunny who wrote to us. It oozes sincerity with such lovely simple words, "Thank you for your gift of samples. I've enjoyed the products and appreciate your work." This darling took the time to sit down from her busy day to put a pen to paper just to express the simplest and most powerful of emotions to us and for that we're forever grateful.
"I would maintain that thanks is the highest form of thought and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder." -Gilbert K Chesterton
A few favorites by RMS Beauty and Kjaer Weis
I love makeup! I love creamy lipsticks, inky black eyeliner, mascara that gives you Bambi lashes, blushes that sculpt cheekbones and a good foundation that covers, conceals and creates flawless skin. My love of makeup came early much to my Mom's dismay. My sister and I would buy cheap eyeliner at our local Walgreen's and hide them in our school bags to then hurriedly apply in the bathroom before class. We looked like wild raccoons with heavily darkened eyes and big hair. We wanted to look like Madonna. It was the 80's and we were not sophisticated teenagers!
My love for makeup became an obsession after my Aunt who had come to visit forgot her Vogue, Glamour and Mademoiselle magazines at our house. I took a peek. I was a goner. I do wish I could have waited a few more years before reading such provocative magazines. I wasn't ready at 13 for all the affair confessions or cared much about summer romances (a continuing theme in Mademoiselle for some reason), but I did love the images, the models, the fashion and most of all the makeup. Luckily for me I have always had a good sense of self and didn't fall prey to hating myself for not being a 5'10', Caucasian, blue eyed, 105 pound model. I did wish the Salma Hayeks, Penelope Cruzs and Eva Mendezs of the world would have graced those pages then. I wondered where the beautiful women that looked like members of my family were hiding in the fashion and beauty world. I also couldn't quite compare the makeup colors I was loving on the pages to what it would look like on my Mediterranean skin tone. Makeup back then was created for one type of customer on the planet and that was the Caucasian woman. There was no diversity, no political correctness (men, transexuals, transgendered people weren't even considered a viable customer, yet they did buy makeup then as they do now), At least this was the case in the US. Luckily advocates of high fashion and women of color began to shout, "we love makeup too but need a darker shade of foundation!" Thank goodness for Iman and Naomi Campbell. Their megawatt supermodel power had young girls wanting to be like them and the big companies suddenly noticed and there was a bit of diversity with choices on the makeup color wheel. Jump to 2013 and this is now a non-issue. Makeup comes in all colors and for all ethnicities, which is great for us medium toned women or Asian women who had not been represented for a long time in the cosmetic industry. Supermodel Iman went on to start her own brand and create colors that suit dark skin tones and black women everywhere rejoiced and became loyal customers. Right now, as far as we have come the issue with makeup is the toxicity IN makeup. The same brands that my sister and I smeared all over our eyes and cheeks have not progressed enough to formulate healthier products. I'm not going to go into every single toxic ingredient found in makeup because I'm certain if you're reading this post you already know, but I am going to share some of my views which are personal and experienced based.
Because I am a self admitted science nerd (or as I like to say, enthusiast) and I learned that toxins are quickly absorbed into the bloodstream when applied on the skin, I also learned that in 2013 we are carrying more chemicals in our bodies than Americans did in 1950. It worries me so much that biomonitoring is valid scientific research that proves we are overexposed to toxins yet we are not doing much to demand change. You know who conducts biomonitoring research? The CDC, other foreign governments and a few giant cosmetic companies. Surprised? I'm not going to lecture anyone either just point out that change occurs when not only we know better, but we show with the power of our dollar and voices what we are willing to tolerate. We in turn dictate how these companies treat us and I for one want to stop poisoning myself.
Recently, a very well respected friend/colleague and I had a conversation about organic brands not advertising so much in big print magazines. She had accepted a big contract with a not very clean line and maybe was feeling judged. (Hey, I have big wide and intense eyes and was born that way!) She said if only the cleaner brands would "invest" in advertising the way the "other" brands would more celebrities, models and actresses would be inclined to represent. I had a different take on the matter because as much as I love and adore my Vogue magazine (and yes, I still read it like my Bible) and as much as I look forward to the September issues and badass holiday wishlists these forms of educating, enticing and informing the masses of beauty and fashion are not consistently including us in their printed issues. We who own, operate and create organic beauty still have a way to go. We definitely have a market and we love you smart whippersnappers who discovered us and helped us grow. We also have an emerging interest from newcomers to the "clean scene" as well the newly converted who have become ingredient savvy and product-centric because they are learning (in some cases from other publishings like Organic Spa, Natural Health) the levels of quality in pure ingredients. Expensive petroleum based product vs expensive face oil made with organic, cold pressed nutrient rich ingredients? What makes more sense and is likely to give you that luminous glow the "other" company is advertising in your monthly favorite magazine? While many of us running our own businesses cannot afford to spend thousands or millions in advertising or mega campaigns that create natural beauty hysteria we are still quietly reaching out to a modern customer. They are tickled with the quality of our products and sharing with friends via word of mouth or on social media. We are slowly, but surely growing with our brands and in turn willing to invest more into our businesses. It is a process and for some of us a challenge in staying intact or deciding the next move. We need to figure out the gap and how to make the space between business reality and change come closer. Anyone remember A Night For Green Beauty? That was a small step which had huge benefits to our industry and brands and brought some very sophisticated and well dressed beauty editors to see what the fuss was about.
Change is coming! LBF featured in Harpers Bazaar.com
I understand these politics and play a part in them, but I also like to think I'm part of taking a stand and part of wanting my voice as both a consumer and business owner heard to create change. It has been a personal dream of mine since starting LBF to be featured in Vogue. I'd be kidding if I didn't say it is every beauty brand's dream. We'd be like a kid on Christmas morning to see the benefits of barbary fig seed oil splattered over the pages of Harpers Bazaar or Elle. I really don't think we're far off from having these major players featuring more organic and natural brands in monthly articles. The consumer has spoken and the natural and organic cosmetic industry is booming! We're excited to be a part of something better and there definitely are more strides to make and growth to be had. We do need to show our Vogues and Elles that we're serious and we're willing to advertise and support those glossy pages. It's just a matter of having the bigger kid on the block make the first move. For some of us we're boutique brands and need some revision to suit our budgets and growing pains. I mentioned this to a fantastic PR firm that wanted to represent us. They knew what we could do, but we didn't know what they could do so how do we meet in the middle and support one another's industries? We're lucky that a new kid on the block, the beauty blogger has helped our brands collectively widen our customer base. So very thankful for those enthusiasts and their vision of changing it all up. We all know some of our favorite beauty editors are using, trying, testing and loving some of the organic industry's best products and we all definitely know that one of the first changes a pregnant woman makes is to go clean and green for the health of her baby to be. So why isn't this reflecting as serious of an issue as the one I faced in the 80's when there was basically one skin type companies created products for? What is keeping awareness and our industry from becoming more mainstream? The lack of wanting to change for some of the cosmetic giants is the reason I believe it isn't happening as fast as it should and money of course. It costs a lot of money to research and change those formulations. It is an investment for the big guys to figure out how to keep product on a shelf without using all those toxic chemicals that makes them last for years in your cosmetic bag. These giants are instead investing in scoring the biggest celebrity to represent them instead of creating better products that their loyal customers deserve or going on campaigns that companies like ours cannot match...yet. Never being the type of person who can be told I can't do something, we're doing something. We do expect that change is going to happen sooner rather than later though. How much longer can some of these big brands be in "refusal" that consumers deserve better quality products than what they're giving us? How much longer before the studies that are already telling us we're poisoning ourselves gets the attention of lawmakers and policy changers and we change our laws and requirements for the health and well being of people? I don't want to wait much longer. We're going to keep doing what we're doing and pushing through these challenges and coming up with ideas to bring that gap closer.
A few classics in my personal cosmetic bag
Some of our personal favorite clean and quality makeup, skincare and cosmetic brands include:
Raw Elements USA
May Lindstrom Skin
Kahina Giving Beauty
H Gillerman Organics
SW Basics of Brooklyn
and La Bella Figura of course and that's just to name a few because we love so many fellow colleagues and their fantastic products. There are so many beautiful natural and organic brands out there and more on their way into your heart and your cosmetic bag!
If you want to know more about how to change your current regimen for an alternative cleaner one or learn more about toxins in your makeup, please get yourself a copy of No More Dirty Looks by Siobhan O'Connor and Alexandra Spunt.
Every morning that you wake up is another chance to start over, address the day from a fresh perspective, do it again, do it better. Some days are just a bust and it feels as though no matter what you do you are destined for high stress, late night meetings, bumper to bumper obscene traffic, coffee spills, lunch on the run or being chased by wild raccoons while clearing out the garden. (Maybe that part is just me!) There is such a thing as Sunday Night Blues where we are suddenly consumed with anxiety and mild depression over the notion that our low stress, carefree weekend is over and we're getting back to a busy work week. Bless teachers and educators because as soon as 60 Minutes comes on Sunday evening the high gear anxiety hits yet there they are at their desk Monday mornings ready to shine! We all have some point in our days or nights where we begin to feel monotonous. It's quite normal otherwise no one would have invented vacations and we'd never know the joys of lazy summer days reading on the beach.
So how do we cope while we must engage in "monotonous" activities like work, school, raising kids and simply living? This is where the Spaniard in me rejoices and comes out to celebrate little moments and visual beauty. The life of an entrepreneur is not glamorous. Not even a little bit. It's all about super early mornings, late nights, phone calls at weird hours (3am to Morocco or midnight with someone in Australia, anyone?), emails, social media, team meetings, more emails, research, producers, retailers, formulating, employees, events, planes, trains and automobiles. Oh, did I mention late nights? There has to be some time during a busy day where we accept our limitations, take a break from the computer, breathe deeply and immerse ourselves in a touch of beauty. You just must do it! Otherwise you won't have much to look forward to and your skin will fall off your face. That's a joke of course, but not by much! Stress and monotony is gray colored in your mind and soul.
The reason Spaniards won't give up their siestas (midday breaks where naps are taken or long lunches at home with family) are because they prove to be more productive in the quality of life of the Spaniard. Recently, the hardship of Spain's economy have caused some business owners to forego siestas and include the stress of worrying about moneymaking, well the health of many Spaniards has become a huge concern. Looking forward to siesta was the little bit of beauty some folks had and while in our culture we cannot escape for an afternoon nap there are many things we can do to receive the physiological benefits of experiencing a little beauty.
I like to start the day looking out my window to catch the sunrise whenever I can. The sun rising and the colors that explode like fireworks in the clouds is my religion. It also puts me in check that it is the start of a fresh day and a new opportunity for something great. I like buying myself pretty flowers to keep by my bedside table or on my desk. I don't ignore them either and often take pictures to Instagram or just mesmerize in their incredible beauty. I do little things for myself like take my lunch outside to the park to eat al fresco or when I'm lucky I coordinate lunch with my sister so we can catch up and she can fill me in about university life and all of her eccentric academic colleagues. I call my Mom around teatime while I actually make myself a beautiful tea that I serve in pretty cups. I apply a dose of Buenos Aires perfume or Istanbul and refresh my skin with a spray of our coconut, jasmine and rose scented Jardin de Fleurs. The scent of perfume makes a huge olfactive contribution to my mood and takes me away for a brief moment to someplace magical. Sometimes, if I'm having a super tough day I visual travel. Nothing cures a sullen mood more for me than a YouTube video of my beloved Costa Brava where the water is so blue and the sun is shining bright. Music does it for me too, but I tend to get carried away and can easily get lost in the beats and decide to call it a day in search of a dance party. There is always a little something one can do to have a little moment to unwind, to imagine, to experience beauty. The key to surrounding ourselves in beauty every day is to realize we were not meant to be in chronic stress mode and it's okay to take a break once in a while to recharge our batteries and rejuvenate our tired souls. As my smart little Abuelita used to say, "life is for the living and the ones that don't already know that are just dying slowly." So now tell me, what will you do today to surround yourself in beauty? It's going to rewind your spirit and give you that little charge. We promise!
Lauren Hutton has grown even more deeply into her beauty
Who doesn't want to look as beautiful as Angela Basset?
I no longer get excited when my birthday approaches. As a matter of fact, I try really hard to pretend it's not happening. I don't mention it to friends, post it on my Facebook page or make too much of a big deal about it. These days birthday excitement is left to my surprises for my young nieces and nephews and doesn't relate to me at all. It's not because I necessarily despise getting older, it's more that it's not as much fun as it used to be. Basically, I've gotten over it. Don't get me wrong, I look forward to dinner with the same group of friends I've been sharing my birthday with for years because it feels special to spend time with people I love and enjoy seeing. I completely appreciate that part more. I would not, however enjoy it if they broke out in song or made the restaurant rally around us with unaffected smiles just waiting for it to be over. Presents? I take care of myself and the things I need or want so I don't feel the same about presents on a birthday either. I don't want to sound ungrateful, but I think the fact that my busy friends (some who have children) taking a day out of their lives to spend with me is the gift I want. I'm not embarrassed of growing older, I don't lie about my age or fear it they way some women do. You won't see me wrapping my face in a scarf trying to cover up, but I also was not laughing my butt off when I saw a gray hair mocking me in the mirror on the very day I turned 45. I guess I have some complicated and mixed feelings about growing older like most of us do. Yet, I do anticipate the future when I will be that little old lady still climbing mountains and using good face serums. I wonder what will become of all those nieces and nephews and I have a pact with a group of friends that I can't wait to fulfill and it's only going to happen when we're all older. Told you it was complicated.
This year I noticed a lot of things happening to my body, health and skin that I never noticed before. I'm lucky that I have good genes and chronic wrinkles and balding isn't particularly common in my family. My little Abuelita had rosy petal soft skin until they day she died and a head full of thick hair, albeit completely gray. The things I have noticed this year kinda freaked me out. I have always been rather vain about my hands. They are slender with long, slim fingers and smooth, even olive colored skin. They still are, but this year I noticed a spot on my left hand. It was brown, circular and brand spanking new. I pointed it out to anyone who'd listen, My Mom and sister thought I was making a big deal about nothing, but I knew that brown spot was not there just a few weeks prior and now it was. Some call these age spots, some call them sun spots, I called it unsightly and unwelcome. I was anxious that others would follow and my hands would begin to crinkle like paper and age right before my eyes. I began to pay attention and immediately began treating it. It's almost gone, but I have a feeling it will just stay that way, faded like an old photograph, but forever imprinted in my memory. As I mentioned briefly, I also found not one, but two purely silver hairs in August this year and my heart began to palpitate. I know it's not such a big deal to find a gray hair, but I've been lucky not to have them and I have never colored my hair in my life so I suddenly feared having to find a clean hair coloring system and spending gazillions of dollars going to my hairstylist every 6 weeks. I also noticed a creak in my left knee that has slowed me down while hiking up various mountains and of course, the weight gain. This part is the most cruel in my opinion. My whole life I was a skinny, super fast runner that never once worried about eating too much and suddenly I am obsessed with calories and what I can substitute in order to allow myself a few cookies or a slice of chocolate cake. Damn you aging hormones, can you just allow me to eat what I want?!!!
Even though I'm complaining I honestly have to say I have not considered going nuts and running to a plastic surgeon. For me it would be nuts, since I am a certified doctor avoider and not much into discomfort as a general rule. I haven't considered injecting my skin with bee venom, botox or bathing in powdered diamonds. Nope, I invest in my research and create high quality formulas for our line. What we create for our customers and retailers we mostly create for our own needs. I believe in prevention and living well daily will help me pro-age. (If you are unfamiliar with the term "pro-aging", it's simply growing older with grace and preventative measures). I read and I listen to people I trust. I conceal with makeup or good lighting and I cherish the few laugh lines I have around my eyes. I've had a lot to be happy and grateful for and if I had to choose physically showing my gratitude on my face over the rest of my lifetime spent in fear of aging I'd throw in several more laugh lines and smile like a crazy fox all day long. Life is too short to spend being too conscious of preserving one's youth. These days I'm more focused on being a better person. A happy person with a rich life full of great adventures, wonderful friends and exciting experiences. We should take notice on how we feel more and celebrate that we are smarter, more generous, forgiving, open, kinder, reflective, willing, adventurous and internally beautiful as we grow into our better selves. If you are reading this and think: This is utter bullshit! You may still just be too young to fully appreciate this post. You'll see. One day you will wake up and discover your bosom isn't as perky and maybe you'll waste some tears and cry a little, but then you think, "I'm heading over to Nordstrom to get that new super lift up bra" and you'll put on your makeup, step out of your apartment and make a pitstop to Starbucks where the cute young cashier will flirt with you and you'll know...I still got IT! And you always will. Growing older is a privilege and some of us will know that as we use or super serums to maintain our unique beauty and live our wonderful lives.
Cheers to a good Vitamin C product!
Victoria at 45 and maintaining it!
We're in our second week of October and the changing of the seasons is pretty apparent as it takes a toll on our skin. Colder weather tends to bring out chapped, dry and unbalanced skin with the loss of moisture in the air and some seasonal allergies, which can also increase certain skin problems. Well we're here to help and we're going to make it fun with a little Instagram contest that starts today, October 11 and ends on October 30! Read the rules and learn how your uploads and fun questions will all be carefully reviewed by us.
To Enter: You will need to follow us on Instagram and use the hashtags #labellafigurabeauty #octoberskin. Our Instagram account is @labellafigurabeauty
We want to see you post the healthy things you're doing for your skin. Are you using La Bella Figura? Then upload your product shots! Are you juicing or eating better? Show us that too! Each time you upload your healthy skin habits remember to include our contest hashtags: #labellafigurabeauty #octoberskin and ask us questions so we can help guide you to a radiant complexion this fall with our products. The more visible you are by liking, sharing posting and reposting, the better the chances we will notice you and you'll increase your chance to win. (Only Instagrams uploads of LBF products or your healthy habits qualify you. We won't accept tags of other brand posts as part of our contest.)
How We Will Choose The Winner: We will choose a winner based on public visibility and how witty and clever you use our hashtags and are out there sharing the LBF love. Simple. Fair. Fun.
What You Will Win: A super lucky person will win our new Modern Radiance Concentrate, Jardin de Fleurs Skin Aficionado, Skin Aficionado Body Elixir and all three of our new perfume blends, Istanbul, San Miguel and Positano for a value over $540 worth of La Bella Figura products!
Rules: You must be over 18 to enter and receive the ultimate prize. One contest entry per household. This contest is open to US and Canadian residents for free shipping. If you are outside the US and wish to enter you will need to pay the shipping costs of your winnings. Please note that customs may also stipulate some overage fees, which we will not be responsible for.
So, what are you waiting for? Follow us on Instagram and let The Great October Skin Challenge begin!
Can we all look like Cindy as we deboard a flight? Maybe not, but close!
I am the weird woman people stare at who pulls out a cleverly designed TSA approved clear cosmetic bag with all of my bottles of oils, potions and balms as soon as I sit down in my seat. I've actually converted a regular cream moisturizer fan around explaining the value of a direct high grade oil for skin nourishment to one curious woman from Minnesota. I apply a few drops of pure barbary fig seed oil onto my cheeks and forehead which are more prone to experience dryness for me. I then apply a light coat of Decouverte Under Eye Repair Serum under my eyes and above my lips and lightly pat in to nourish and moisturize. Lately, ever since the sweet and lovely Hope Gillerman, aromatherapist and holistic healer sent me her Stress Remedy I've been carrying that everywhere and it's definitely coming along on a long flight. In order to receive the healing benefits of true aromatherapy you need to use as directed. A few drops applied on wrists, temples, on your chest or clavicle are spots I tend to favor. I like when my scarf infuses with the Stress Remedy and ends up smelling fresh of vetiver, lavender and blood orange. Bonus. I also use Alexis Smart Flower Remedies, this time I'll be using the First Aid Kit known to help with anxiety and trauma. I will also test a new face cream formula we're developing at the end of my flight to soothe redness and any inflammation that may have occurred. If it works as I expect it to this may be THE ONE that makes the cut. I wanted to sum up what I bring on board with the picture and list below, otherwise you would be reading all my weird habits and step by step moments that may be too long to sustain your interest.
Our first facial cream is in the works and it's pink!
Check out the contents of my cosmetic bag below. If there is anything I should add that you've used on long flights please comment and share! We want to learn from you.
Inside My Carryon Cosmetic Bag
Gentle Cleansing Wipes
Kusmi Tea (I bring my own tea everywhere!)
Hurraw Lip Balm
Pure Barbary Fig Seed Oil
Decouverte Under Eye Repair Serum
Rainforest Hydration Treatment
This is just what I carry on board for the process of super long flights. Bon voyage beauties! I will miss you, but bring you back a special treat no doubt.:)
Emotions are a funny thing. Some of us say we can't control them, some of us have no problem expressing them no matter what the situation, and some of us never allow our emotions to get the best of us. Sometimes we are very in tune with our emotions and can process them in a healthy way so we aren't reactive when we find ourselves in awkward situations. I've always admired composed types that can hold an emotion until they are comfortable enough to deal with it later, dissecting what caused them to feel hurt, angry or sad and articulately express it if appropriate. I myself am more of the "emotionally expressive" type. I let it out and let it go. I'm not the kind of person to hold grudges, but also not the admirable self composed thoughtful type. The thing with me is I don't believe in waiting around for emotions to keep me prisoner. I like confronting things and sometimes that makes others uncomfortable. So, a few weeks ago when I found myself in a situation where someone rattled me with their explosion of emotions, disappointments, rudeness and refused to talk it out, well it led me to...breakout. I held in my disappointment, my need to let it out, work it out and let bygones be and instead I directed this person's passive aggression at myself and was physically punished for it with an ugly breakout and scaly patches on my face. You may think that's crazy, but there is nothing crazier than what anger, stress and chronic disappointment can do to your skin and body. It can make you look like hell!
Scientifically, it all makes sense. Stress and anger change chemicals in your brain and can induce an influx of adrenaline, norepinephrine and cortisol. In the brain, the part that deals with emotion called amygalda goes crazy when you're angry and you can react in a flash and cause a fight or flight reaction. There is a split second at the time of a triggered event when you feel the physical effect with your "blood boiling" or skin feeling flushed or heated. There is also an actual physiological process when blood rushes to the frontal lobe and the neurological response to anger subsides quickly and you can make significant choices not to knock someone out and behave civilly. Prior to that all heck can break loose and often we say or do things we regret later. What I've just described lasts only two seconds, but produces a neurological change that isn't quite healthy and takes a toll on our body. Our skin always reflects these hits first. It's a true thing that a blemish will erupt when you lose your marbles or does that just happen to me? Our skin is supposed to "detox" and these quick hormone imbalances unregulate the cells that produce sebum which have receptors for stress. If you're a teacher or a parent you have probably helped calm down a hotheaded kid by asking them to count to ten. Well, it works like a charm! Try it on yourself the next time you find yourself in a stressful or angry situation. It may take some practice because it requires one to include rationale and make the choice to calm down and count it down. It may save you from seeing a few blemishes on your face too.
On the opposite side of the spectrum people that are more level headed and aware of their emotions experience less skin trauma. We can all learn skills that can help us stay as cool as a cucumber though besides counting to ten. Meditation, yoga, dancing, writing, painting. For me, adventures in the outdoors is very therapeutic and transformative. Yeah, I'm that person that literally goes for a walk when I get hot under the collar. Going back to the situation in which I was in with a predicament with a person who didn't like confrontation and refused to resolve their problems as rationally as I would have (talking helps people!). I attempted to resolve the situation in every way I could think of, but I was denied and ignored. I had to come to the conclusion that there was nothing I could do about someone else's emotional state even if I was being accused of being their cause of disappointment and strife. We are only responsible for what is within the realm of reason to want to change. I accepted that eventually and damn if my skin didn't clear up quickly and radiate better health in two days! I got over it and it was a momentous feeling. I made the choice to put that strife behind me and step forward instead of bending backwards to fix it or convince someone to talk it out with me and problem solve. (My teacher days are deep instilled.)
Human beings are so fascinating. I'm always caught in between an overwhelming love for mankind and a tragic sense of sadness at how we treat one another. I have learned in this life that more often than not we tend to share more positive attributes than negative ones. Balance is the key to everything right? So after dealing with a person who triggered a revenue of complicated emotions for me I decided to let it go and wish peace upon the anger I experienced and the anger that manifested for that person that was unable to transform. It's the best one can do. We move on, we grow, flourish or we hold root, decay and grow ugly. Doesn't growing and flourishing sound much better?
Hiking in the California forest made my skin beautiful!
After eight months of preparation, A Night For Green Beauty came and went with incredible spirit and enthusiasm from all who popped in and our friends and supportive online community. It was truly inspiring to meet the visionary women behind some of the best natural beauty brands around. The room was packed with curious customers, fans, beauty editors, beauty bloggers and retailers who flew in from different cities and in some cases different countries. Everyone's products looked so gorgeous displayed on white tables or little nooks around the lovely space of James Corbett's Flatiron studio. Pretty much everyone was thrilled to meet the talented and kind Katey Denno as well as health and beauty coach Jolene Hart. Pressed Juicery was a huge hit with their skin beautifying drinks refreshing all of us on a warm NYC evening. My sister volunteered to pour the juices and create delicious cocktails and her humor and fun demeanor had the crowds coming back for more. It was just one of those nights where everyone came together, had fun and wanted more. As soon as it was over we bid sad farewells from one another and wishes for another chance to come together and do it again soon. You can bet we'll make it happen.
I've always been a social butterfly, a connector of sorts. When I meet someone I'm usually pretty quiet as I like to hear someone else's life story and learn about who they are. I am a good judge of character (most times) and I can sense immediately if I want to pursue a friendship or relationship and then I do! When I was a teacher I was always charmed by the friendships a seven year old makes. They do not alter their egos or adjust themselves to fit into someone's expectation. Most seven year olds are quite genuine and are free to be who they really are. I always advise people to go ahead and make friends like a seven year old because it's easy and so much more fun. Karen and I have been able to make some friendships with some amazing people we honor and admire and at our event we were touched by the outpouring of gratitude and appreciation from the brand owners, editors, bloggers and customers who wanted to thank us for putting the event together. I took it as a testament to who we are a business and who we are as people. Karen and I love our community and are extremely supportive to another entrepreneur who may just be coming in to this business or growing their business. We are cheerleaders for other women and their opportunities for expansion that offer even more opportunity to others. We knew collaborating with this fantastic group of kind and powerful women would be a success. It was all a matter of having a vision and the passion to execute it. We had a great team who helped coordinate details and who took care of the little snafus that occur when working with busy schedules and so many people involved. An extra special kudos to Amy Dufault and Susan Linney for being our glue and sometimes hammer. Not an easy task, but they got the job done! Collaboration is wonderful thing when ego is left out and vision is presented. Those with drive can see clearly while those that operate on fear cannot. All of these great brands you met at at the event or participated are visionary and have drive to spare. It is the reason it came together so well and the reason everyone is still talking about it.
We would like to thank special guests Jolene Hart, Katey Denno and Joanna Vargas for participating and sharing their expertise. It is experts like these who guide us in the right direction to create our products and continue to educate those seeking to know more about natural and green beauty. We would also like to thank James Corbett and his team for providing a great space for us to come together and their awesome hairstyling bar that had the fashionistas walking out the door so chic. An extra special thanks must be acknowledged to our incredible sponsors The Chalkboard Magazine and Pressed Juicery who understand that beauty and health are connected. Thank you for donating delicious juices and making the New York crowd delighted with your treats. We couldn't have asked for more wonderful people to work with on our first A Night For Green Beauty pop up. It was a dream come true! We have already been approached about the next one and all we can say is we need a vacation first, but you can count on the next event being bigger and more green beauty packed for sure!
Karen King and Victoria Fantauzzi-Founders of La Bella Figura
Alexandra Zanella, Katherine L'Heureux, Victoria Fantauzzi and Lina Hanson
Our new perfumes, Istanbul, San Miguel and Positano debuted.
The lovely Britta Aragon of CV Skinlabs and beautiful friends
The wonderful Jolene Hart and awesome Mayna aka The Juice Pusher
Blogger Love for Sussanah Compton, Brittanie Faith and Kimberly Wallace
you're wondering what in the heck does it mean to "oxygenate your skin"
worry and wonder no longer. In medical terms it simply means allowing oxygen
molecules to enter the tissues of our bodies. Of course this happens
naturally as we live and breathe, but we can aid and increase oxygen
delivery to skin cells with a few methods that are simple and effective.
Many aestheticians are now providing their clients with oxygen facials
using pressurized oxygen, acid and customized serums to deliver intense
hydration to cells in order to plump up the connective tissue between the cells to create a smoother and younger appearance to your complexion.
While we can't all run out to do these on a monthly basis (Can we?) we can take
steps to increase oxygen flow to the skin. When we moisturize we attempt
to capture hydration in our cells which is vital to skin health and to
prolong free radical damage. Some scientists believe that cancer cannot
thrive in an oxygen rich environment. Some holistic nutritionists
encourage a diet rich in greens, chlorophyll, seaweed, and fermented foods because these all create oxygen rich blood and help balance
PH levels and keep the body alkaline which is believed to resist disease
and sickness. All I know is that the more we care for our internal
health the more likely you will see that reflected on your skin health .All those green loving vegans and vegetarians are on to something! Most green foods such as kale, spinach, broccoli, chard, brussel sprouts contain Vitamin K, which promotes good circulation and helps strengthen blood vessel walls. So eat those green veggies or drink them in fresh pressed juices.
There are other simply ways to increase oxygen flow to your skin besides eating or drinking foods high in Vitamin K. One of my favorites is applying pure raw honey onto the skin for cleansing and treatment. My favorite for this has been manuka honey, but I'm also enjoying cold packed pinetree honey and buckwheat honey which is high in Vitamin C. These honeys all contain some levels of hydrogen peroxide and when you cleanse rubbing the honey "into" your skin in small circular motion helps to oxidize the hydrogen peroxide and therefore increase blood flow to the skin. Hydrogen peroxide comes in several dilutions and the high levels found naturally in some honeys, such as manuka come in extremely beneficial levels because of an enzyme the bees contribute to the honey which cause a slow release action, combined with sodium from your skin this chemical process kills bacteria and infected tissue quite efficiently. On its own hydrogen peroxide is a highly reactive oxygen species, a compound with an oxygen-oxygen single bond and the simplest peroxide. If you try the honey cleansing and rub it in circular motions you can actually see the hydrogen peroxide become effervescent and change color right on your skin. The inclusion of vitamins and bio active factors in honeys contribute antioxidant delivery to cells, which strengthen and repair from free radical damage. Pretty amazing! Do you see why we seek and geek out over natural remedies to cure and heal the skin? You just can't beat science.
These are very simple methods to increase that fresh, healthy glow to your skin and not so difficult, right? You can definitely try those oxygen facials or try a few easy methods that will help bring that coveted I just spent a month at the spa look right at home.
1. Eat more green veggies. Raw is better, hence the reason green juices are so popular. Drink your juices!
2. Try honey cleansing and use the circular rubbing method. Simply applying and rinsing off won't be as effective.
3. Chlorophyll supplements help to create nitrogen rich blood. Or drink chlorophyll daily, but in the realm of honesty I do not have the time to drink a tall glass of chlorophyll in the am nor would I like it if I did have the time. You can be smart and simply add chlorophyll to your green juice also.
4. Give yourself a face massage after applying your face oils or serums. I use the pads on my fingertips and lightly "flutter" or tap the product into my skin. Mostly to increase circulation and bring blood flow to these areas. You can try these tips for a more thorough self face massage. It feels good and it does help make things flow and flush your skin to look healthy.
We hope you try these easy steps to oxygenate and get the results that can really improve your complexion and improve your skin health. Let us know how it works for you!