As Spring has finally arrived and leads us to warmer days and fresher food we couldn't be happier to boost our nutrition intake and see the results with clearer skin and healthier habits. I'm going to be real honest, I eat much better in the warmer months than I do during winter. I tend to shed pounds too because I like exercising outdoors much more than in a gym so I'm constantly walking or working in the garden or taking long weekend hiking trips. Lately, we've received many inquiries about getting the summer glow back onto our Bella's faces and we want to help get you back into shape. We'll be the first to admit that it's not always just about the products you use, but often how you treat yourself from the inside out. Here are three of our favorite recipes and product pairings for clear, glowing and beautiful skin any season. We hope you enjoy our recipes and boosting your glow with delicious whole foods and La Bella Figura Beauty.
Morning Resveratrol And Antioxidant Smoothie (Serves 2)
1 cup almond milk, coconut or cashew milk (make your own as many grocery store brands contain carrageenan, which is not good for you)
1/4 organic strawberries, sliced
1/4 organic aronia berries
1 teaspoon raw cashew butter
1/4 teaspoon sacha inchi oil
1 teaspoon raw honey
dash of cinnamon
dash of nutmeg
dash of cardamom
Blend all the ingredients in a blender and enjoy! Pair this antioxidant smoothie with our Daily Elements Defense Face Oil.
This smoothie is packed with vitamins, minerals, omegas, protein and phytonutrients to help keep you feeling sustained and start your day with whole food benefits. Aronia berries contain over twice the Oxygen Radical Absorption Capacity (ORAC) value than blueberries and more resveratrol than the wonderful acai berry.
Vitamin C Spa Water
2 cups fresh pineapple juice
2 cups fresh grapefruit juice
1 cup fresh orange juice
2 cups purified water
1 lemon thinly sliced
1 bunch fresh basil roughly chopped
1 bunch fresh cilantro or fresh parsley
1 tablespoon freshly sliced ginger coins
Add ginger, lemons, cilantro and basil to a large pitcher and with a wooden spoon muddle all ingredients, add water and citrus juices, then pineapple juice and stir. Allow to sit in the fridge for 30 minutes before serving. Serve over ice. Pair this Vitamin C spa water with our Modern Radiance Concentrate.
Drinking water is wonderful to keep you hydrated and keep skin glowing, however to add a little extra Vitamin C boost to your day this drink is a delicious answer. Vitamin C is a free radical scavenger and helps protect your immune system.
Glowing Goddess Salad (Serves 4)
2 cups sweet potatoes, roasted with olive oil, cinnamon and salt and pepper
1/2 cup chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 cup Israeli couscous
4 cups mixed greens of kale, spinach, baby bok choy, Swiss chard and arugula
1 bunch basil leaves, torn
2 tablespoons raw pistachios, roughly chopped
1 red pepper, cubed
1 tablespoon avocado oil
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper
Add leafy greens to a bowl then add warmed roasted sweet potatoes on top to slightly warm greens, add couscous, chickpeas, basil leaves, red pepper, pistachios and avocado. In a jar add avocado oil and olive oil, garlic, oregano, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, salt and pepper and shake until blended together. Drizzle over salad and lightly toss together. Pair the Glowing Goddess salad with our Aria Nighttime Cell Recovery Treatment.
Vitamin K is an essential vitamin many of us fail to get enough of and needed for important immune function and help with blood clotting. It also helps with minimizing bruising, inflammation and treating skin conditions such as rosacea and eczema. This salad can be served as is or fortified as an entire meal served with fish, shrimp or organic chicken.
If you like our homemade recipes you will truly love the beautifying recipes from our friend and wellness coach, Jolene Hart. Visit her blog, Beauty Is Wellness and order her incredible book, Eat Pretty on Amazon or Barnes and Noble available now.
It's been a harsh winter. We all know it and have felt it from the Midwest to the East Coast, even our southern cities that hardly ever see snow experienced the fright of ice, slush and winter's energy shut down their schools and pile up their highways. All we keep hearing is, "I'm over this winter! SO ready for Spring!" We feel ya beauties. It's been a real dud and we're also ready for a new season to begin. To be perfectly honest, I'm a better functioning human being when the weather is warmer. I wake up with the roosters and am ready to bolt for an early morning walk and a visit to our garden. I'm less cranky and need less coffee. I don't know about you. but I get super excited for new things and want to look my best. It's a great time for renewal, refreshing your routine and trying new things. La Bella Figura has a few new things for you skincare aficionados and we are so happy to share with you.
Let's start with our new Gentle Enzyme Cleanser. We thought long and hard about how we wanted to present a cleansing system that worked effectively to cleanse, remove makeup and gently exfoliate to turn over cells and leave skin hydrated and ready for serums, oils and treatments. Our formula is nourishing with moisture retentive Cupuacu and Marfura butters that are not clogging to the skin in the slightest and holds moisture into skin cells. We also added beneficial enzymes derived from papaya and pineapple to work their magic in gently sloughing off shedding cells. The upper layer of your skin is highly formed with dead skin cells that contain keratin protein that builds up and can cause that lackluster look. While it's important to exfoliate sometimes it can cause more harm than good when we over exfoliate with scrubs that contain shells or microbeads.and if you have sensitive skin or aging skin it's best to keep exfoliation to a few times a week instead of everyday, unless you're using a gentler method like enzymes. We added carrot seed oil and amaranth oil for their beneficial addition of Vitamin A and proteins to encourage skin rejuvenation and brightening. This is an active cleanser and when you apply it onto skin you should gently rub it in to allow the enzymes to perform and as a makeup remover this cleanser works great to remove even the most stubborn makeup. We tested it on waterproof mascara and it worked beautifully. If you like a nice creamy gel formula this is a great product to add to your regimen and we're loving our new daily cleansing experience. (Stay tuned as we've also been developing a cleanser for problem skin.)
If you love a superb nighttime skincare product (who doesn't, we adore our nighttime rituals), you'll definitely be eager to try ARIA Nighttime Cell Recovery Treatment. This product is spectacular and I know it sounds like I'm a Mom complimenting my own kid, but to be frank this product was created with myself and women my age (45) in mind. I needed this is my life and couldn't find a specific cell recovery product that was richer in proteins and antioxidants so I spent time studying skin cells and how they function from newly formed active cells to dying and aging cells and wow was I fascinated! Oil lovers are on the right track with replenishing nutrients and "feeding" oxygen starved cells, but as we get older we need a little more and Aria offers plenty of protein, amino acids, phytosterols, antioxidants, resveratrol and a brilliant composition of cell regenerating actives from saffron, helichrysum, arnica, rose damascena and rooibois extracts and essential oils. It's highly active and a few drops of this concentrated blend is all your skin needs to begin its nightly repair and renewal. This product is truly high performing and like a cashmere blanket for your skin. You'll wonder what you did without it.
Because it's the first day of Spring and we're so excited to introduce these new products to our lineup we are promoting a giveaway on all of our social media. Regram, repost and retweet using the hashtag #LBFSpringBeauty and we'll pick a winner next Thursday, March 27th. If you're wondering what you'll win. well how does a nice bottle of Gentle Enzyme Cleanser and Aria Nighttime Cell Recovery Treatment sound? (We always love surprises so who knows maybe a surprise or two) We absolutely can't wait for you to try this power combo!
La Bella Figura
If you're new to the scene of natural beauty products or confused about the difference between a face oil or a serum, this post is for you. I remember when we first started our line and had to explain to curious beauties that a face oil was a heavenly experience for skin, the odd looks and wrinkled noses we would generate were priceless. It's fantastic to now hear so many lovelies have transitioned from their poison packed serums to more natural alternatives. Recently, I was at speaking at an event and a LBF fan admitted she used to purchase lotions and creams for their scent until she had a severe allergic reaction and her dermatologist pinpointed to a certain product she had tried, (well I won't name the product line, but let's just say it's an extremely popular British brand sold at high end apothecaries) and the ingredient list alone made me dizzy with its toxic fumes! It's just no wonder atopic dermatitis, rosacea, eczema and psoriasis are on the rise. Long term use and the increase of cheap fillers and ingredients are still being heavily used by beauty companies that would rather spend on advertising and packaging and skimp on quality ingredients. Your face, hair, nails and overall health suffers for it. Ah, one day we will catch up with the Europeans who have figured out the correlation between long tern use of overloaded toxic products and the scaly, red and irritated skin conditions that have caused their cosmetic laws to change. In any case, we have put together a few of our most asked and emailed questions to answer and hope this helps you, especially if you're a newbie or looking to change your beauty regimen.
What is the difference between Barbary Fig Seed Oil and Barbary Fig Renewal Serum? (I have sensitive skin with patches of rosacea on my cheeks.)
Barbary Fig Seed Oil is a single ingredient that derives from the seeds of barbary figs, sometimes called prickly pear. The seeds are full of Vitamin E rich oil that gets cold pressed and produces a superstar product perfect for those suffering from rosacea, dermatitis, eczema and psoriasis. Because it's a single ingredient product it's also helpful to those that suffer from allergic reactions to pinpoint reactions. We recommend you try the product on your arm before trying on your face if you're allergy prone first. Vitamin E helps reduce redness and inflammation and the natural occurring zinc, amino acids and essential fatty acids work to repair damaged cells and help lighten dark spots. This oil can also help acne sufferers by balancing the sebum production in oily skin types and controlling "haywire" skin.
All skin types can benefit from BFSO.
Barbary Fig Renewal Serum is a concentrated treatment for already damaged skin to help soften dehydrated (skin damaged) skin, speed up cell turnover, brighten and tone sagging tissue. It contains ingredients also high in Vitamin A, which helps wounded skin greatly plus fights lines and wrinkles and its molecular structure is small to provide for deeper penetration into the skin to work more effectively.
Mature skin or severe sun damaged skin benefits from Barbary Fig Renewal Serum
Is Modern Radiance Concentrate for day or nighttime use?
This has been a pretty popular question and there have been so many answers circulating out there, but we're sticking to this one: Vitamin C offers to boost antioxidant protection and is more beneficial to use during the day when you are assaulted by environmental and UV exposure. It is not necessary to use twice a day, especially since you are getting the benefits of a concentrated complete Vitamin C from our product.
For Mature skin types, hyperpigmentation or anti aging skin benefits
I'm curious about the benefits of facial steaming. What are they?
Facial steaming is not only very beneficial to skin, but can offer sinus clearing benefits as well. If you have oily and acne prone skin, steaming can help push sebum and clogged pores out to the surface to thoroughly clean. The steam helps blackheads soften making them easier to dislodge from pores. Toxins and cell buildup also cause clogged pores and steaming can help dead skin from clogging pores further. Another benefit is increased circulation, which helps to deliver oxygen and nutrients to the skin and that is why facial steaming before applying a nutrient rich mask like our Bio Active Healing Mask or Bio Active Purifying Mask works wonders. Your pores will be filled with perspiration and ready to receive a treatment much better than on dry, clogged skin. You only need to do this a few times a week and at home treatments are super easy and just as effective as spa steaming. Our Facial Steam Teas are made with a healing blend of herbs, flowers and spices to help deliver therapeutic value to your treatment. A must try if you haven't yet.
All skin types, especially acne prone or blackhead and oily prone skin
What is the best way to cleanse my skin before applying your serums and treatment products?
Most of us don't think about cleansing that much, but it truly is one of the most important steps for a good skincare regimen. Cleansing skin with oils works great to lift off heavy makeup, dirt and toxins and doesn't strip skin of precious natural oils. Not everyone is a fan of oils, however so use a gentle method to wash off the day each night. A balm can also work great. We are about to launch a new gentle enzyme based oil gel cleanser next month which truly takes off heavy makeup and gently exfoliates skin with enzymatic properties. Soothing aloe vera helps maintain tone and balance while a collective of lovely ingredients in our formulation work in harmony to nourish your skin while cleansing. It's a lovely way to nurture your skin before applying face oils and products. You will just need to pump a nice amount onto dry skin and rub gently into skin in circular motion and rinse off with a warm washcloth. You can also use as a mini mask treatment and apply onto skin, rubbing in circular motion and leaving on for 60 seconds so the enzymes activate and gentle exfoliate skin. You're going to be obsessed with how fresh, soft and radiant your skin will feel! We can't wait to get this long awaited product to you.
All skin types
Are your products safe enough to use while pregnant? I'm worried about toxic ingredients.
Yes, our products are safe enough for pregnant women. We use only unrefined ingredients which are wildcrafted or organic and haven't been treated with sprayed chemicals. We also are very keen about GMO ingredients and have taken the pledge to never use GMO ingredients in our formulas. We have heard about some women expressing their concerns about retinol in our Barbary Fig Renewal Serum. We do not add synthetic retinoids or retinol acid into our formulas. All of our Vitamin A is naturally derived from high quality unrefined oils and butters. If you feel your skin has been more sensitive with hormonal changes from your pregnancy you may want to discuss this with your doctor and discontinue use of a product like Barbary Fig Renewal Serum and switch to a single ingredient product instead.
If you have any other questions you're curious to learn the answer to just ask us in the comments section. We love hearing from you!
What an incredible year it has been. Maybe I've already written about that, but truly it has been. We're going to bare our souls here a bit so hang on for the ride. We learned so much from both good and bad mistakes, made tons of new friends, hired a fantastic staff, created pretty stellar products, saw some things, discovered a few other things, laughed, danced, cried, pulled our hair out from the roots...this is all called growth. We grew, we continue to grow and with all of that comes a type of juggling act. You probably know the one. You work crazy hours so something's gotta give. Our relationships, marriages, friendships. Heck, I had a terrible decision to make this year that kept me up night, sweating, feeling guilty and conflicted. I had to choose and ultimately I choose the right thing, but not before all the grief had me spinning.
As creators and co-founders of La Bella Figura, Karen and I are like sisters or work wives we say. We agree, disagree, push, pull, comfort one another, allow someone to fall apart sometimes. You have to be there for one another during the errors, complaints, criticisms, rejection, snobbery just as much as the good times, great calls, amazing press and compliments. Some of you call it teamwork, we call it glue. We fix one another when we need to. It isn't always easy and when people ask us for our advice about starting a business or running one, mine is always to get your personal life in check. Have that conversation with your significant other. It's going to be tough now so it can all be great someday. It's hard for a lot of people as ego and instant gratification are both always in the way of change. I've never been a zen-type of person. I don't like exercising in gyms because I like to feel my body moving with change in the background. I am sometimes very impatient. I don't like beating around the bush just get to the point so I can move onward. I need to work on this more. Karen is quieter, more zen with her thoughts and ideas. She is a lover of all things French so you can bet she enjoys her cup of tea at a leisurely pace. She is more patient of the two us. We are both uniquely creative though and that is where the beauty of LBF comes in. We both love to read up about science and art. We get excited and motivated when something great is discovered. It's the real fun part of our business. This year we learned a lot and we have a list that we want to share with you. Maybe you're a fan or customer reading this, maybe you're a blogger or editor or publicist or friend or competitor, retailer or new on the scene, either way you may be able to relate, pick up a good tip or two or even add to our list. Let us know what you think.
1. Think with your head on backwards. Sometimes following the rules does not allow for creativity. Think outside of the box and you may just experience a flourishing.
2. Don't worry about what "the others" are doing. You WILL get stuck if you do and comparing yourself to anyone else is poison for your business. Be smart and updated, but don't focus on what the others are up to. It's wasted time that can never be gained again. "The others" are following one another and following you for their motivation and you've got to be better than that and build your own direction to your destination.
3. Reach out. If you admire a blogger or makeup artist or retailer. Reach out and say so. Being shy never got anyone a date with a hottie and in business there is no growth in being an introvert.
4. Build Your Strategy. Think long and hard of your voice and then go ahead and build it. You have a lot of opportunity in being creative with how you design your strategy.
5. Be nice. Always be kind and courteous to everyone. You should have learned this in kindergarten and you better get back to your roots on this for you never know who you'll cross paths with again and again and again. Trust me, I know exactly who and whom has been a blatant jackass and will never do business with someone who has made me feel bad ever again. How you make others feel and how you treat them is the essence of who you are and I can spot a jerk pretty easy. Always, always, always be a kind person in business.
6. Reciprocate. This is another rule of thumb that some people forget about. If someone does you a favor remember to pay it forward. If you are selfish about doing this it will be noted and you may miss out on some opportunities.
7. Don't be afraid to fall. You are going to fall and sometimes you will even be stumbling for a while. Dust yourself off, get back up and learn how to catch yourself for the next time. It will likely not hurt as much.
8. Stay inspired. Take breaks, rewind, revitalize often. Get inspired by others or music or reading, but don't allow your fire to burn out by not indulging in your extra curricular passions.
9. Re-visualize what No means. No is not always no in business. It's sometimes, "let's wait and see." Sometimes no with someone is a yes with someone else because you learned about why you were rejected and how to avoid a mistake or two.
10. Get thick skin. If you cry when you receive a complaint from a customer or criticism from a retailer you will be crying a lot. It's always going to happen and you need to listen, learn and move on. Don't argue, don't be so defensive, aim to please and correct certain issues with grace and the insight of an elderly person who knows you only get better with age.
11. Love your haters. You are going to have people trying to bring you down on your way up. It's Darwinism at its best and most basic. How do you fight this battle? Fight it with doing better than they can possibly expect you to. This year a little hater wrote us emails so often it became dreadful (I learned how to trace them and found out who it was, sadly) and I thought if only you took that passion and turned it around into your own business you would see massive growth. It's not worth arguing with haters let them motivate you to be better. You can really do amazing things when haters inspire you to do so. Don't think of it as a negative thing exactly and turn it around so you can benefit from it.
12. Thank people. This is along the basic principle of being kind. Thank people you've worked with or you'd like to work with. Thank the beauty editor or blogger that wrote good stuff about you. It doesn't matter if some people don't know how to appreciate the beauty and simplicity of true appreciation, you will and that's all that matters.
13. Passion play. Being a conformist, a follower, a by-the-rules type of person can lead you spiraling downward. Play the game with heart and fierce belief in what you are doing. This can be seen and felt by others around you. The best artists and creators follow passion as though they eat it to sustain themselves because they do! You have to constantly be fueled enough so when all of the other above mentioned things happen you can keep going.
These are some things we learned in 2013 and hope you can use these tips if you need to. We have much more to learn and will likely continue to fall, stumble, get back up and get to working. Which leads me to want to share some sneak peeks into 2014. We're working on some new products now. I'm pretty excited about our first face cleanser, a cream moisturizer, a "makeup" line and something for the boys. Some of these products will come soon in the new year, some mid year and some towards the end. Our ideas are big, but we're still a small and growing company. I am thrilled to share new ingredients we'll be using in our formulas and some old favorites. This year omega rich sacha inchi oil and kakadu plum cell extract made it into your skincare routines and next year it'll be some great new ones that we've been studying and experimenting with for a while. So while we can't wait to share more with you we hope you stay patient with us because as they say, "the best things are yet to come." Thank you for sharing our year in beauty and business with you. YOU, the customer, the beauty lover remain our inspiration to keep our passion burning.
XO, Victoria and Karen
La Bella Figura
It's hard to believe it's bone chilling December and the end of a busy most wonderful year. Seems like a blink of the eye ago I was frolicking in our garden and admiring all the pretty flowers we grew and happy buzzing bees. Time flies when you're having fun! This year was certainly full of fun and incredible growth for us here at La Bella Figura. We have listened and learned so much from you and worked super hard to bring you the best from us to serve your beauty and skincare needs. We introduced seven new products this year and we aren't stopping there! It seems you want to see more high performing, quality products from us and we're researching, developing, reading and learning right now to do just that. We also know our gentlemen fan ship has grown and you are requesting our attention. Well you certainly have it and you are definitely on our minds. If only there were more hours in a day and we could magically produce the products we dream up in a snap.
2013 was a great year for partnerships. We are always welcoming to those who want to share their innovation, creativity and passionate ideas with us. We feel it is vital in our entrepreneurship to open our minds and present new opportunities to our fans and customers. Besides, it's fun to be creative and think of fresh new ways to put ourselves out there and bring you new experiences. It's the major reason we recently announced moving our next, A Night For Green Beauty event to Los Angeles in August 2014. I happen to be a huge fan of California and have spent a lot of time in Los Angeles, so that wonderful creative energy rubbed off on me long ago. We can't wait to share more information about the partners we'll be working with and ideas we're working on. We know you're going to love this party because we listened and we're going to bring you what you want.
We've also been able to work with new retailers that are providing incredible experiences for their customers and being visionary leaders in their mission to bring you the best products available today. We feel so fortunate to have true believers in what we do and are making strides to have our products discovered like a sweet secret with only the best retail shops, boutiques and apothecaries in the world. We will be expanding and notifying you of where we're heading so you don't ever go without your favorite LBF products.
It's going to be an exciting new year beginning with brand new products launching soon. We are thrilled to soon bring you our unique and most effective facial cleansers. We worked on this for over a year going back and forth with several formulations, being super choosy about certain ingredients we felt worked best for your skincare needs. We didn't want to bring you any old cleanser that stripped your skin of its precious oils like many of them can or leave skin dull and dry. We wanted to bring you a cleanser that was joyous to use with its effective ability to deeply cleanse skin as well as provide skin beautifying attributes and boy have we ever! Right now a handful of beauties are currently testing this product and it's music to our ears to hear the squeals of delight and proclamations of soft glowing radiance from daily use. And yes, a cleanser should make you feel joyous as it's one of the most important steps to nurturing your skin. Our cleanser also removes makeup gently with ingredients that perform an opera worthy of any beauty lover, non-toxic or not. We just can't wait to bring it to our line and offer you the complete La Bella Figura experience. It's going to be a fantastic new year!
If we haven't expressed it already we are so ever grateful to YOU. Thank you for making our dreams come true and allowing our products into your homes, cosmetic bags and top shelves. It never gets old hearing how our products have changed your lives. It makes our hearts swell and keeps our passion burning to keep on going! We also want to thank all the other great brands we worked with this year. Our community is a fantastic and warm one. You are all so very inspiring to us. A very special thank you to the beauty bloggers that write so passionately about the products they love. So many truly fantastic beauty writers keeping us busy with tons of things to read on Sunday mornings. You guys rock!
Thank you to some of our favorite collaborations, sponsorships and partnerships this year. Pressed Juicery, The Chalkboard Magazine, Goodebox, A Night For Green Beauty, No More Dirty Looks, Dose Market, Katey Denno, Beauty Is Wellness, Amy Dufault, Susan Linney and so many more. You are all uniquely organic and beautiful. We adore working with you.
May this holiday season bring you peace of heart, joy and beauty in limitless bounty and may the new year fulfill all of your dreams wild and otherwise.
With love and gratitude,
Victoria, Karen and our small crew
La Bella Figura
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!