Category Archives: Product Reviews

Quick and Easy Cat-Eye Liner

“Perfect Eyeliner” by Garann is licensed under CC-BY SA 2.0

 

My favorite way to wear my eyeliner is the “cat-eye.” I find it really opens my eyes, and gives the illusion of larger-looking eyes. I also like that its a more classic and refined look.

In finding a way to create the perfect cat-eye look, there are two major issues:

  1. Finding natural products that actually work (they won’t run or smudge and will hold all day).
  2. Finding the right method to creating the perfect cat-eye that doesn’t take 20 minutes out of your morning routine.

 

Before I switched from using toxic makeup to clean beauty products, I relied on my trusty Maybelline Gel Eyeliner. It was easy to apply using the tiny brush, was waterproof, and lasted all day. Since then, it’s been a challenge to find a natural alternative that works just as well.

 

For a while I was using Zuzu Luxe Liquid Eyeliner in Raven. This eyeliner applies like a traditional liquid eyeliner, so it requires a very steady hand – which I do not have! I almost always had to rely on using a q-tip with a tiny bit of One Love Organics Vitamin B Enzyme Cleansing Oil to clean up any mistakes. Although I loved the polished, sleek look of this eyeliner, I found it was taking a very long time to apply it. It also tends to run easily when getting wet. However, I still enjoy using this eyeliner for more special occasions.

 

Which brings me to my new favorite way to create a cat-eye – it’s fast and easy!

Here’s the trick:

  • Black powder eyeliner
  • An angled eyeliner brush.

That’s it! Simple, right? The powder I use is Nvey Eco High Definition Cake Eyeliner. It’s really pigmented, so even though it is a powder, the color still stands out. The angled eyeliner brush I use is from Sephora. You can pick one up at any beauty store.

 

 

Here’s what I do:

  1. I dip the brush into the powder.
  2. Begin applying along the lash-line (where the pupil begins) and work toward the edge of the eyelid, using short quick strokes.
  3. Pull the outer corner of the eyelid taut, and angle the brush so that the long end of the bristles are pointed toward the outer corner of the eye, and the shorter end is pointing toward where the eyebrow ends. 
  4. Use short, quick strokes to create the line of the “wing.” You can make the wing as long as you would like. Sometimes I dip just the tip/pointy part of the brush in the powder and use only the tip to gain more precision.
  5. Lastly, fill in the wing area, making the liner closest to your eye thicker, and gradually thinner as it connects to the tip of the “wing.”

 

It may sound tricky, but trust me, this is the fastest and easiest way to do a cat-eye! The whole process only takes a couple minutes. The benefit of using a powder, is that you don’t need to be as precise. The powder has a softer look, so mistakes aren’t as noticeable compared to using liquid eyeliner. It also has incredible staying-power, and seems to hold up well to humidity. You can even wet the brush and mix it with the powder to get a liquid before applying. I have not tried this method, as I prefer to apply eyeliner as quickly as possible. I only apply eyeliner to my top lash-line, but you could certainly use a smaller eyeliner brush to fill in your bottom lashes as well.

 

Have you tried powder eyeliner? What is your favorite way to achieve the cat-eye look? Please share!

 

 

Five Tips to a Beautiful Bold Lip

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By Camila Zanon. (originally posted to Flickr as Cherry Lips.) CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

I enjoy a bold lip color during the fall and winter months – colors like deep red, burgundy, and plum are some of my favorites. But pulling off a bold lip can be a little intimidating. What looks good on the runway can come off as clownish in every-day life – especially if you have a fair complexion like myself. Here are a few tips as well as some green, nontoxic product recommendations to making a bold lip part of your look:

Step 1: Exfoliate 

Use a gentle scrub to remove any dead skin cells on your lips and creative a smooth surface prior to applying lipstick. I like One Love Organic Brand New Day Microderma Scrub + Masque. It is a very gentle, yet effective exfoliator and won’t cause any skin abrasions.

Step 2: Lightly Moisturize

Lightly apply your favorite lip moisturizing. I use Meow Meow Tweet Vegan Lip Balm. They are the best lip balms I have ever used! Be careful not to use too much or else it can make your lipstick smear.

Step 3: Apply fine powder

Apply a light dusting of fine powder to your lips such as Alima Pure Satin Finishing Powder. This will give the lipstick something to stick to, and prevent lipstick from bleeding or gathering in fine lines. It will also make your lipstick last longer.

Step 4: Choose a bold color

Choose a color based on your skin-tone and complexion. I am fair and cool-toned, so I avoid anything too orangey or bright. My absolute favorite lipsticks are by Ilia Beauty. They have gorgeous colors for all skin-tones and are long-lasting. For natural, nontoxic lipsticks – nothing beats Ilia for me! My favorite colors are Femme Fatale – a berry/burgundy color. It’s the perfect classic red-lip! My other favorite is Lust for Life – a deep mulberry/plum color.

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Step 5: Go light on eyes and cheeks

Avoid using heavy eye shadow or blush. You want the rest of your makeup to be minimal and allow the bold lip to pop. I use eyeliner along my top lash-line and mascara, add some light contouring, and soft blush.

How do you pull off a bold lip? What natural lipsticks do you wear? 

Three Natural Deodorants that Actually Work

“Homemade Deodorant” by Megan Myers is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Living a healthier lifestyle requires not only taking a look at what you put into your body, but also what you put on your body. Many deodorants, specifically antiperspirants, are filled with toxic ingredients such as aluminum, parabens, synthetic fragrance, and phthalates – just to name a few. These ingredients are linked to Alzheimer’s disease, breast cancer, fertility problems, and seizures.

Sweating is one way our body releases toxins. Antiperspirants block the sweat glands. If you stop your body’s natural ability to sweat, your body will end up reabsorbing those toxins – leading to numerous health issues.

Ditch the antiperspirant and allow your body to do what it is naturally designed to do – sweat out unhealthy toxins! It’s actually good for your body to sweat!

Although you may sweat more when you quit using antiperspirant, there is no need to worry about body odor. There are many natural deodorants you can use that provide long-lasting odor protection.

When I initially quit using antiperspirants, the search for a nontoxic deodorant that actually worked turned out to be an arduous journey. I started with several store-bought deodorants (such as Tom’s of Maine, Thai Crystal, and Jason)  and was quickly disappointed with the results. They did not seem to prevent body odor – but rather poorly masked it.

After lots of trial and error, I am happy to say that I have found several nontoxic deodorants that truly get the job done!

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Soapwalla Deodorant Cream

This is probably one of the most popular deodorants among the green beauty community. It’s become a cult favorite! This deodorant is the most powerful in odor protection. It requires finger application. It provides a lavender-citrus fragrance. My only issue with Soapwalla is that my skin can become irritated if used right after shaving. If you have sensitive skin, this deodorant may be too strong for you.

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Green Body Deodorant

Many natural deodorants require finger application. If you love the convenience of a stick deodorant, this is the deodorant for you – and it really works! The best part is that is comes in six different scents!

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Meow Meow Tweet Deodorant Cream

This is my holy grail deodorant. It provides powerful odor protection, yet is sensitive enough to use after shaving. It does require finger application, but is worth the nuisance due to the simple yet effective ingredients. It comes in two scents: lavender and tea tree. You can also order a mini size for travel or sampling the product.

Have you quit using antiperspirant? What is your favorite nontoxic deodorant that actually works? Please share!

Three Must-Have Supplements for Clear Skin

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Looking to improve your complexion, eliminate acne, and feel your best? Inflammation, redness, acne, and uneven skin tone are results of deficiencies in your health and lack of nutrition. In order to improve your skin on the outside, you need to heal yourself on the inside. Topical skin products that promise relief may only temporarily alleviate some symptoms, but to truly make a long-lasting difference in your skin, you need to increase your nutrition. Even when trying to live a healthier lifestyle, it can be difficult to get all the nutrition you need on a daily basis. Adding these supplements to your routine can make a big difference:

Fermented Cod Liver Oil

Fermented cod liver oil is high in omega 3 fatty acids – the healthy fats! It is also especially high in vitamin D and A. It is packed with more nutrients compared to other types of fish oil. When the cod livers are fermented, the nutrients are extracted without being damaged like in other processing methods. The fermentation also allows the nutrients to be more easily digested. This supplement can be a little pricey – but well worth the money since you will get a lot of bang for your buck. Your hair, skin, and nails will GLOW! Green Pastures Cod Liver Oil is a reputable brand, and it comes in yummy flavors!

Probiotics

Probiotics are hugely important for keeping clear skin as well as overall health. “Good” bacteria is needed in your gut to digest food properly and maintain a strong immune system. Many health problems can be linked back to an influx of “bad” bacteria in the gut: yeast infections, acne, diarrhea, constipation – just to name a few. Having too much bad bacteria can result from taking antibiotics and eating too much sugar and breads. We get healthy bacteria naturally from eating fermented foods like sauerkraut, beet kvass, kefir milk, yogurt, and raw apple cider vinegar. However, it can be hard to eat the amount we need daily, so adding a probiotic supplement is a must! Try Garden of Life Raw Probiotics.

Milk Thistle

Milk thistle is one of the most well-known herbs to help support liver function. The liver is essential to flushing out toxins in the body. Having a healthy liver will heal your skin and keep acne away. Milk thistle contains silymarin, a property which supports the liver by increasing glutathione levels and cleaning toxins out of the blood. It also helps regenerate liver tissue and decrease inflammation. Show your liver some love, boost your body’s healing power, and try taking Pure Encapsulation Silymarin.

Have you tried any of these supplements? What supplements have helped to clear your skin? Please share!

The Best Natural, Nontoxic Sunscreens

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Marilyn Monroe con bañador blanco en la playa” by Antonio Marín Segovia is licensed under CC BY 2.0

There’s a big debate happening over whether sunscreen is actually causing more harm to our health than we realize. We already know too much sun causes cancer and accelerates aging – thus, protection from the sun is a must! But is the sunscreen your using potentially just as harmful? More research is indicating that certain types of sunscreen are linked to increased inflammation, aging, and cancer.

There are two types of sunscreen: physical and chemical.

Chemical Sunscreens

Chemical sunscreen ingredients such as oxybenzone are absorbed into the skin and cause a chemical reaction that is believed to prevent UV damage. When these ingredients are absorbed into the bloodstream, they are considered endocrine disruptors . Endocrine disruptors interfere with our natural hormones. They tamper with estrogen, testosterone, progesterone, and thyroid. Endocrine disruptors can cause undeveloped testicles in small boys, early puberty in girls, low sperm count and infertility, and breast, ovarian, and prostate cancer…. Hmm, no thank you!

Physical Sunscreens

Physical sunscreens include the minerals titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. These ingredients sit on top of the skin and block/deflect UV light. Physical sunscreens can also be dangerous if the minerals are in a form called nanoparticles.  Nanoparticles are small enough to be absorbed through the skin and into the bloodstream.

The best, safest form of sunscreen is a physical sunscreen in non-nanoparticle form. Microfine zinc and titanium dioxide are small enough to apply smooth and even on the skin, but not so small that it will be absorbed into the bloodstream. Zinc oxide is also known for being a little more gentle on the skin compared to titanium dioxide, especially for those who suffer from acne and need a sunscreen for the face.

A common complaint when converting to natural sunscreen is that they frequently give a thick, whitish film on the skin. This is especially common in less expensive brands that do not use microfine zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. I have tried NUMEROUS natural sunscreens before finding some that apply smooth, even, and clear – and I am happy to say that they do indeed exist!

Here are my favorite natural sunscreens:

Grahams SunClear Natural Sunscreen:

This is my favorite body sunscreen for those days I spend at the beach or outside at a BBQ. The main ingredient is microfine zinc oxide, SPF 30. It applies more like a body oil, and is a little shiny at first. However, it absorbs into the skin quickly. It leaves no white film at all! It also contains skin-yummy ingredients such as rose hip oil, grapeseed oil, shea butter, and vitamin E. It is also water resistant. This is truly a sunscreen gem!

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BurnOut Eco-Sensitive Sunscreen:

This is my favorite facial sunscreen. It is SPF 35, and applies clean and clear to the skin with a matte finish (which is perfect for under makeup). It is designed for sensitive skin, so it is great for anyone battling with acne! I carry this sunscreen with me in my purse for times when I am unexpectedly in the sun and need protection on my face and body. It is fragrance free, biodegradable, and affordable compared with other high-quality sunscreens!

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Have you tried these sunscreens? What are your favorite natural, nontoxic ways to protect yourself from the sun?

Two Products to Relieve Dark, Puffy Eyes

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Image 322” by Ierdnal is licensed under CC by 2.0

There’s no better remedy for dark, puffy eyes than to eat well, get plenty of sleep, and stay hydrated. However, we all experience those mornings when we didn’t catch enough sleep, indulged in too much sugar or sodium, or had a few too many glasses of wine the prior evening. I have two products to quickly reduce puffiness, dark circles, and give you fresh, bright eyes!

100% Pure Organic Coffee Bean Caffeine Eye Cream:

This eye cream is packed with anti-inflammatory ingredients such as coffee and green tea to quickly reduce puffy eyes on contact. It also contains antioxidants and anti-aging ingredients such as rosehip oil to brighten the eyes and reduce fine lines. Rose hydrosol is another ingredient – one of my all-time favorite moisturizing properties in skincare.

This eye cream is moisturizing without being too greasy, and will work well under makeup. It smells like a vanilla latte! It’s organic, vegan, and safe for sensitive skin. A full-size tube is $25, and they have a smaller size for $13. I typically order the small size – it will last for months! I find 100% Pure’s eye cream to be much more affordable compared to other organic brands without sacrificing quality.

 

100 percent pure eye cream

Studio 78 Paris ‘Off We Go’ Anti-Dark Circles Concealer:

This concealer seems to have become a favorite in the organic beauty industry – and for good reason! This concealer comes in two colors: At Dawn for cooler skin tones, and Moonlight for warmer skin tones. I ordered At Dawn, which matched well for under my eyes. I have very fair skin, so I was surprised that it was a match considering there are only two colors to choose from. This concealer has a way of blending in with the skin to match a variety of skin tones.

The consistency is thicker and seems less creamy compared to other organic concealers I’ve tried. However, it works really well for under the eyes. It will stay put without melting away or gathering in creases or fine lines – yet, it’s not too drying. A little goes a long way. It will last you quite a while. The pigment is perfect for counter-balancing the bluish hues of dark circles. This concealer is vegan and contains antioxidants and anti-free radicals. It comes in a little pot with a mirror – perfect for on the go.

The only drawback for me is that I can’t use this as a concealer for other parts of my face such as on blemishes. It is a little too dark for my fair skin. However, I have read other reviews where women use this as an all-over concealer without any problems. 

 

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Have you tried either of these products? What has worked for your dark, puffy eyes? Please share!

My Miracle Serum for Clear Skin

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Blissoma Solutions Smooth A+ Perfecting Serum has been a wondrous product for me! This little gem is packed with antioxidants that provide ultimate healing power. My skin has truly changed for the better since I started using this product almost a year ago. I have noticed fewer breakouts, more even skin tone, and smaller pores.

The secret ingredient in this serum is Niacinamide: a topical antioxidant that combats oxidation of the pores.

One of the main reasons we get breakouts is due to oxidation. Oxidation is a chemical reaction that occurs when oxygen damages the molecules of our sebum. You know how an avocado will turn brown if you leave it out? That is oxidation happening. Our sebum contains squalene, a fatty acid. When squalene oxidizes, it becomes squalene peroxide which will clog your pores. Once the pore is clogged, bacteria accumulates and inflammation occurs… leading to acne.

Niacinamide is essentially a topical Vitamin B3. It is a powerful antioxidant – which is the antagonist of oxidation. When a topical antioxidant is applied regularly, it will effectively decrease the likelihood of oxidation, resulting in less breakouts! Win!

This serum is incredibly light and dries with a matte finish. The fragrance is not potent, and smells like roses. I use only one pump for my entire face while it is still damp after applying my toner. It can be used alone or along with an oil or moisturizer. I allow it to dry before applying my facial oil.

 

Have you tried Blissoma? Do you have a favorite acne-fighting serum? Please share!

Beauty Tips for Women with Red Hair

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Meet my good friend Idgy (the beauty in the photo above)! She is a lover of natural, cruelty-free beauty products. I have known Idgy for many years, and have adapted several of her beauty methods into my own regimen. Recently, a coworker of mine expressed some frustration in finding beauty products that work for her red hair,  so I referred to Idgy –  who was so gracious to put together some techniques that have worked well for her:

 

“Print and television advertisements for cosmetics invariably feature dramatic looks. Applied to someone with unusual coloring, these palettes can appear garish. There are some guidelines that can make choosing make-up and skin-care easier for redheads. Most of the products mentioned here are natural and/or organic; a few of them are not. NONE of them are from companies that allow testing on animals. To reliably locate cosmetics companies that are cruelty-free, mybeautybunny.com is very helpful. My favorite resource for product reviews is beautypedia.com

Skin Care

Beginning with skin (as all beauty routines should), it can be thin and delicate. There is also a tendency toward warm tones; this combination explains why the entire world knows when you blush or have been crying. The first tenet of skin care is to treat it gently. Look for products with soothing ingredients like green tea, honey, aloe, neem, lavender, and rosemary. Known irritants, such as alcohol, sulfur, cinnamon, and peppermint should be avoided. Keep in mind that any ingredient can potentially be irritating to any individual. If it turns your skin red, it’s not for you. One skin-care line worth consideration is all-natural Lotus Moon. The Amaranth Gentle Cleanse cleanser and the Organic Honey Purifying Mask are soothing for most skin types.

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Sun Protection

You already know sun protection is important, but two things worth mentioning are that many commercial sunscreens contain chemicals you may not want on your skin; and there is some controversy over whether sunscreens themselves are in fact harmful. I won’t enter into a debate, but will say that Lotus Moon makes an excellent, gentle sunscreen; and regardless of your stance on the sunscreen quandary, I advise a hat with a brim, and large sunglasses during the daytime. Sunscreen leads us to the next bone of contention: self-tanner.

A tanned redhead is typically an odd-looking creature; it’s been pointed out to me that a tan makes me rather resemble a large penny. The best approach is to embrace your pallor and eschew the self-tanner – with one exception. Pasty legs can benefit from a little color. There are several tanning products that are relatively easily applied, with some practice. Layering light, even coats over the course of a few days is the best method. The lotion can collect and turn quite dark in creases, but a cotton swab can take care of this. Nature’s Gate Sunless Tanner is an inexpensive option and available at a discount at vitacost.com.

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Make-up

When selecting make-up, the first decision regards foundation. Most do not need a full face of foundation, at least not for the daytime. A little finishing powder can tone down ruddiness. I like to use a powder that can double as foundation and have found natural, mineral-based products to be the most skin-friendly choice. Honeybee Gardens Pressed Mineral Powder Foundation is an elegant and inexpensive option. I dust it on lightly with a large brush most of the time, and press it on with either a dry puff or a dampened sponge for more polish on special occasions. If your skin is quite dry, a liquid option or a BB cream might be a better choice.

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Concealer is an important item to have on hand. NARS Radiant Cream Concealer has a nice texture and is available in many shades. It works well on dark circles. For heavier coverage, or for oily skin, try Kat Von D’s Lock-it Tattoo Concealer. (Which actually won’t obscure a tattoo, but it’s great for imperfections.) Speaking of imperfections, see those broken capillaries at the base of your nostrils? Tap a little concealer there; it makes a difference.

Appropriate make-up colors can be described as warm and soft. Black eyeliner and mascara are not the best options: try brown mascara instead. Choose eyeliner colors to complement, but not match, eye color. Blue eyes are most flattered by browns and coppers. Green eyes benefit from plums and purples. Younique’s mineral eye pencils are a worthy product to try; Passionate is a nice mid-tone purple. Those with brown or gray eyes can opt for some fun colors: teal, violet, green. Keep in mind that the lighter your hair and skin are, the lighter and more blended your make-up palette should be. For example, a strawberry blonde would be better served by golden brown liner than chocolate, grass green over moss, turquoise instead of teal. Use a cotton swab or blending brush to blur the line for a softer effect. Kriss Cosmetics makes gel eyeliners that apply flawlessly. Black Cherry is a deep aubergine, with flecks of copper, that would be too harsh for strawberries, but it’s very flattering to darker auburns. Keep eye shadows warm or neutral: nudes, golds, browns, plums.

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Think about peach-based colors for cheeks and lips, instead of pinks. One of my favorite blushes is Mineral Blush in Kitten from Honeybee Gardens. Flattering lip colors will be peach instead of pink, coral rather than mauve, and tomato instead of burgundy. Do not take these colors too deep if you are paler. Stick to apricot, coral, and lighter red.

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Once you are comfortable with the colors that are best for you, feel free to branch out and have some fun. A bright berry lipstick may work, if the rest of your make-up is warm/neutral and minimal. You can still do a smoky eye design, but use mid-tone brown or plum shadows, instead of gray and black. If it looks harsh, try softer, lighter colors, and blend, blend, blend. Emphasize only one feature at a time: a bold lip OR a smoky eye OR bright blush. Apply muted shades sparingly to the rest of the face.”

 

 

Have you tried any of these products? What are your favorite beauty tips for redheads?

 

8 Tricks to Make Waking Up Easier

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 “Waking Up” by Vgiie is licensed under CC BY 3.0

I never have considered myself a “morning person.” Most of my adolescence and adulthood involved staying up late (sometimes until the wee hours of the morning), sleeping in whenever I could, and dreading early mornings. I started out in college going to night school, and most of my shifts for work began later in the afternoon. I took pride in considering myself a “night owl.”

During the past year, I started a new job that required me to start my shift at 7am. Needless to say, the transition was challenging! Here are some tricks that have helped me wake up easier, feeling energized and refreshed:

1. Go to Bed Early

This seems like a no-brainer, but there are reasons why going to sleep early can be beneficial to your health. Your body has a natural detoxification process during a 24 hour period. Here is how your body is working to cleanse during the night and early morning:

9pm and 11pm: Lymph nodes and blood vessels.

11pm and 1am: Liver

1am to 3am: Gall bladder

3am to 5am: Lungs

5am-7am: Colon (you should empty your bowel during this time – which means you will need to be awake!)

In order for your body to get the full benefits of natural detoxification, you need to be sleeping in order to spend the maximum amount of energy for cleansing. When our bodies are allowed to care for itself the way nature intended, we feel more energized and positive in the morning.

2. Turn Off Electronics

The National Sleep Foundation reports that electronics are being shown to tamper with our natural circadian rhythm. Our bodies naturally wind down and prepare for sleep when the sun goes down, and we become energized with the sun rising. When we spend a lot of time in the evening staring at lit-up electronics, our bodies confuse it with UV sunlight, and we aren’t able to easily prepare for sleep. Eliminating electronics about an hour before bed can really help us get to sleep faster.

You may wonder – what should you do with an entire hour without electronics?? I enjoy reading. There are so many incredibly-gifted writers. Getting lost in a story also helps me get my mind off whatever anxieties from the day are still floating around. You could also take a relaxing bath, listen to soothing music, talk with a loved one, or cuddle with your dog!

3. Drown Out Sound

I am a VERY light sleeper. Every little creak and noise is likely to wake me. I have found using white noise to be very effective in helping with sleep. Some people leave a fan on, purchase a white noise machine, or download a white noise app on their phones. I use an air purifier and turn it all the way up. A loud murmuring noise can resemble the sounds from being in the womb, and can be very relaxing (ever notice how a baby can sleep through the loudest noise, and tend to like the sound of vacuums, lawn mowers, dryers, etc?). For those of you sensitive to sound – give it a try!

4. Take Some Magnesium

Magnesium deficiencies are one of the most common deficiencies in the U.S. The average American diet contains little to no magnesium. Do you have muscle tightness in your back, neck, or shoulders? Cold hands and feet? Muscle twitches? I do – and if you do too – you are probably deficient in magnesium. Magnesium deficiencies include symptoms such as migraines, muscle cramps, fatigue, asthma, anxiety, insomnia, irritable bowel syndrome, menstrual cramps, and several others.

Magnesium plays a role in staying hydrated, energy production, and – most importantly – the deactivation of adrenaline.  This wonder-mineral helps our GABA receptors (calming neurotransmitters) to function properly. Without GABA working efficiently, we tend to feel anxious, experience racing thoughts, and have difficulty sleeping. It essentially helps our brains to shut-off.

The best part about magnesium? It practically works instantly! Take some magnesium before bed, and you will feel the difference – I promise! My favorite magnesium supplement Natural Calm by Natural Vitality drink powder. It supplies magnesium citrate – one of the most absorbable forms of magnesium. You can also take a bath with Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate). Also try to eat more foods with magnesium such as nuts, collard greens, beans, and sea kelp.

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5. Use Aromatherapy

I strongly believe that our environment plays a large role in how secure, comfortable, and grounded we feel. Colors, textures, scents, sounds, lighting, and the images we surround ourselves with can make us feel energized, calm, confident, etc. Essential oils can greatly affect our moods, including helping us to feel relaxed and at ease. I speak about the dangers of synthetic fragrance here, as well as the health benefits to essential oils. One of my favorite natural oil blends for sleep is Sleep by Essence of Vali. It truly smells incredible, and immediately puts me in a pleasant, easy mood. After using it for several nights, it’s as though I’ve been conditioned to feel sleepy when I use it!

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6. Try a Guided Meditation

Meditation is known for helping with relaxation, quieting the mind, and decrease insomnia. There are several apps you can download that provide a guided meditation. My favorite is iSleep Easy. With this app, a soothing female voice guides you through breathing, muscle relaxation, and visualization exercises while in bed to help you sleep. You can customize the volume of her voice, the background noise (ocean, rain, stream, lake, forest, birds, music), and how long you want the meditation to continue. There is also a brief guided meditation for the “wee hours” in case you wake up in the middle of the night.

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7. Wake Up Gently

The sound of a loud, obnoxious alarm clock is like nails on a chalkboard to me. Being jolted awake by a horrible noise seems to put me in a bad mood first thing in the morning. I have not used a traditional alarm clock for several years. I was thrilled to discover Zen Awake iPhone alarm clock app a couple of years ago. It works to gradually wake you up, as if you were naturally waking up on your own. It plays a series of peaceful chimes, starting about ten minutes before you intend to wake up. The chimes progressively get louder and closer together as the time for you to get up approaches. When you go to turn off the alarm, you are greeted with an inspirational quote for the day, and with one click you can share the quote to your Facebook page. How neat is that?

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8. Quit Caffeine

Ok, so the thought of quitting your morning coffee may seem nearly impossible for you. It was hard for me too – but hear me out. If you are relying on caffeine to give you energy in the morning, you are robbing your body’s natural ability to produce its own energy.

How do you know if you are relying on caffeine too much? Ask yourself: are you drinking caffeine daily (coffee, energy drinks, soda, etc)? Are you nearly late for work in an attempt to get that morning cup of coffee while on the road? Are you overspending in order to get your caffeine fix? Do others not want to be around you in the morning until you’ve had your coffee? Are you feeling tired, cranky, or experience headaches if your caffeine schedule is altered? If the answer to any of these questions are yes, then you may need to consider decreasing your caffeine intake or quitting altogether.

Caffeine, like any addictive substance, alters the brain. When we alter our brain, we are putting our bodies in a state of imbalance. Our bodies will eventually become reliant on coffee to feel awake and energized rather than naturally producing the energy we need to function. Caffeine also dehydrates us, eventually causing us to feel more tired. So swap out that cup of coffee for a glass of water!

Since I have quit caffeine, I have felt much more energized yet calm and focused, without the anxiety-jitters I typically experienced with coffee. Although I miss the taste of coffee, I love my sense of balance even more!


Since I have made these changes, my mornings are much more pleasant. I actually enjoy going to bed earlier and waking up sooner. I simply feel better. Sometimes I miss being a night-owl. However, I still get that quiet, peaceful feeling (as if I’m the only one awake when the world is sleeping) being up early in the morning. I often get to see the sunrise while driving to work. I enjoy longer days at the beach or have more energy for hiking. My days feel longer (in a good way), and I have more time to enjoy the sunshine!

Have you tried any of these strategies? What makes you feel energized in the morning? Please share!

Gressa Minimalist Corrective Serum Foundation Review

Gressa

Finding the right foundation can certainly be a challenge. My skin is very fair, so finding a color that is light enough has been a longtime struggle. I prefer a more natural coverage with my foundation that I can wear daily without looking too done-up. I have generally stuck to mineral powder foundations for the last several years. I like how they are easy to apply and do not look too heavy. However, I found my skin looking a little too dry during the winter months. Liquid and stick foundations sometimes feel too thick to wear everyday, so I reserve such foundations for more special occasions. Tinted moisturizers tend to make my face look greasy, and typically don’t provide enough coverage.

Finding an everyday foundation that provides enough coverage without being “cakey,” works for my fair skin, and has organic ingredients is a lot to ask for!

I read some online reviews for Gressa Skin Minimalist Corrective Serum Foundation, and decided to give it a try. It seems to be the perfect blend between a powder and liquid foundation. It goes on like liquid, and quickly dries to a powder-finish. The consistency is vey runny (be careful you don’t accidentally spill it like I did – it will run out quickly!). It comes with an eyedropper-applicator. I dab the applicator on my fingertips and blend in circular motions. It feels more like a moisturizing serum than a liquid foundation, yet it provides a surprising amount of pigment. I only use about four or five drops for my entire face. What I like most about this foundation is that it gives the perfect amount of coverage (medium) and yet feels very light and airy on my skin. Not too matte and not too greasy – just a gorgeous glow!

This foundation not only provides impressive coverage, but it is packed with nutrients for your skin: milk thistle, neem, horsetail, barberry, sea buckthorn, elder flower, CoQ10, and vitamin C.

This foundation simply makes me smile! It truly is “Nontoxic Glamour!”

Have you tried Gressa? What is your favorite natural foundation?

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