Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Are You Up for a Challenge!?. . .

So we are in the swing of things for 2017 and it is time to check in and see how we are doing with our self care. Rituals are important to living a happy and healthy life and it is good from time to time to check in and see whether we are making "me time". It takes time to create habits and rituals that are lasting so if you had made resolutions that aren't sticking have no fear. That just means it is time to check in and see what it is that you need. Small little shifts really make big changes over the year.

It seems that there are all kinds of challenges these days. I have seen sugar free challenges and plank challenges or even hula hoop challenges. So how can we apply this to skincare you ask?
It's time for the 2017 30 Day Masking challenge.

 Set the clock for 30 days and set a goal to mask every day. If you mess up, forgive yourself and start over. With that said I just spent a wonderful weekend with all the top Estheticians in the nation. It was a true mastermind and allowed me to plug in and really think about my goals and get some great ideas on self-care as well.

We had a module with renowned Global Beauty Expert Mary Schook. She enlightened us to what is going on in Korean and Chinese beauty. This is an area of the world where they are light years ahead of American Skincare. We asked her what is the one tip she would give to us that is successful in Asia that we are not doing in the US.

"You need to mask EVERY day."- Mary Schook, MS Apothecary

She said without hesitation. "You need to mask every day." The one advantage that they have in beauty is a commitment to this self-care ritual.

Masking seems to be an afterthought in skincare routines and after hearing this from her I wondered why it was so important to do this every day. It seems, that the simple answer is just for the same reason it is beneficial in a facial. Basically, when you occlude the skin temporarily with healthy nutrients it kick-starts the skin's innate self-cleansing mechanism. The mask will signal to the skin that it needs to clean itself and will start bringing circulation up to absorb nutrients as well as improve lymphatic circulation to remove impurities.

This technique can be a lot of fun. With so many types of masks and ingredients as well as serums to mix in or apply under the mask the possibilities are endless.

One thing I was taught in school is that clay masks are drying and to only be used on oily skin. Over the years I have learned that actually clay is great for all skin types and it is how you apply it, the type of clay and how you use it that makes the difference. So clay masks can be used daily if customized to your needs. Ingredients and sourcing matter as well especially for a mask because you will be absorbing more of the ingredients than with a cream or serum. I only use premium holistic ingredients in my practice for this reason. There are many options for types of masks and mixing it up will allow you to get the best results.

In addition to clay masks, there are cream or gel based masks, and even more popular lately are sheet masks. Never choose cotton sheet masks as they dry the skin out. It is best to apply a gel or bio-cellulose material for sheet masks. For my challenge I am choosing to use clay masks 3 times a week, a gel mask once a week, and a cream based mask as a sleeping pack 2 times a week and a sheet mask once a week. below are my top picks for my favorite masks. PM me to find out the right combination for your skincare needs!

My top 5 picks for masks

Alitura Naturals Clay Mask $60.25. It has the perfect blend of nutrient dense ingredients to assist in detoxifying, stimulating blood flow as well as stimulating new skin growth. All the ingredients are sourced from the cleanest places and is made with tons of love.
You can mix this mask with a variety of supplements, oils, serums etc. My favorite is to mix it with apple cider vinegar. It gets really frothy and makes your skin feel alive! You can also mix in sea buckthorn oil or pair it with Osmosis StemFactor, Rescue or Correct Serums. Are you short on time? Do a clay mask in the morning. Skip the cleanser and apply the mask while you are setting up your clothes or dry brushing your body. Get in the shower and at the end of your shower gently massage the clay off of your skin and rinse. This will cleanse and lightly exfoliate your skin. Apply moisturizer and go!

Osmosis Polish $50 this delicious cranberry enzyme mask is perfect for gently exfoliating dull skin while it firms with peptides and antioxidants

An easier method of masking is to use a sheet mask. These masks create almost a vacuum onto your skin and this allows you to wear it while you are walking around and doing other things. I use these when I have a special occasion because I can do chores around the house with it on or sit on the couch and lounge. The end result is brightening, tightening and lifting that lasts a few days! It is important to use a gel or bio-cellulose material rather than cotton. Cotton will actually pull moisture out of the skin and give you an opposite effect, eek! My favorite sheet masks are Bioxidea Miracle 24 Face Mask $60. It is great for all skin types Fine Lines, Wrinkles, & Crows Feet, Dryness, Dullness and Uneven Texture/ Dark Spots, Redness. 

Lastly, for my sleeping beauties, try a sleeping pack. This is a gel, cream or lotion based mask that you can massage a thin layer onto the skin. Massage is an important component to stimulate the skin to self-clean as this type of mask won't occlude the skin. Then, go to bed and wake up in the morning completely beautified! My picks are Osmosis Skincare- Repair $56 as it helps to improve your natural barrier function and it's great for healing irritated skin as well as anti-aging.

Ok ready to take the challenge?!. . . 

Talk to your skin care expert about the right combination of masks for you and set a goal for the next 30 days to mask once a day. Aim for 5-7 masks a week, but if your schedule is tough you would still get benefit from any amount of masking. I am excited to try this challenge and would love for you to join me! Contact me at americanapothecaryskin@gmail.com with any questions on how to get started or how to choose the right mask regimen for your skin! Oh, and don't forget to take a before picture!


Friday, January 13, 2017

Is everyone around you getting sick?

It's that time of year again! It seems like everyone around us is coming down with something. The flu, stomach bugs, sinus infections. I know for me it's been a battlefield between work and home exposures! It's enough to make you crazy trying to avoid all these germs. The good news is that you can stay healthy this season with just a few simple tips.

Meditation- Even just a few minutes a day can shift your stress levels. There are studies that show meditation actually changes gene expression and lengthens telomeres. Telomeres are at the ends of the DNA strands and shorten due to aging and extrinsic factors.  High stress can grossly affect your immune system leaving you susceptible to illness and disease. Survival mode is the worst place to be when everyone around you is getting sick! If you think that meditation is all about sitting still and clearing your mind you might be surprised to find out that an empty mind isn't the purpose of meditation. My teacher, Missy Diabilis at Open Space Yoga in Nashua recited a quote the other day in class that "There are as many meditations as there are meditators". This makes the practice completely unique and personal. She recommends a couple of books to help you get started Deep Meditation-pathyway to personal freedom by Yogani and Meditation for the Love of it- by Sally Kempton. (Missy has an amazing gong meditation every Sunday night, which in my opinion is the best way to start your week and be psyched about Monday.)

You can try different modalities until you find the one that is right for you. There are types that focus on breath while you sit quietly, there is walking meditation or you can even meditate while you do a task like cleaning the dishes. If you have a hard time focusing on your breath try a mantra. A mantra is a word or phrase that has meaning and lets you focus on one thing rather than everything at once.  Try "I am in control of my health" or "There is strength within me". A lot of times I hear people saying the opposite. Choosing to repeat over and over I will not get sick actually changes in your to I will get sick as the brain doesn't recognize the "not" part. Recite those positive mantras over and over to keep your mind from wandering and to program your brain of your certainty over your health.

Don't be overly clean- All those sanitizers and cleaners with harsh antibiotic chemical ingredients and chlorine break down your skin's natural defenses as well as mess with your hormones. Your body knows what to do when there is an invader, but when we really mess with how it handles these bugs we don't get the full protection our bodies are capable of.

 Herbal and essential oil blends do a great job of killing bacteria and viruses and are much less a stress on the body than conventional cleaners. Clean Well makes a great alcohol-free hand sanitizer for more extreme cases. Seventh Generation products are really great for daily cleaning as well. Both of these lines use Thyme oil instead of those harsh ingredients with the same efficacy. Using a diffuser to diffuse essential oils that have cleansing benefits to clean the air. There are brands that have essential oil blends that are great for diffusing in your home to help purify the air without throwing off your microbiome. Young Living has a blend called Thieve's Oil which is distributed by Banyan Tree Yoga and Do Terra has. My friend Emma Swears by OnGaurd and Breathe this time of year

Herb it up- There are some really powerful teas on the market to help balance your immune system. I drink Tulsi tea several times a week this time of year and if I come across those who are under the weather I drink more often. In those situations, I also add Goji Berry powder to my tea to super-fy it.
Oregano oil can be really powerful to cleanse your system of bugs and that is another thing that I use in my tool box when I have been exposed. Some other herbs I have tried are Pau d'Arco, and goldenseal. Lastly, chaga and reishi mushroom tea are really great for your immune system as they balance your immune system instead of exciting it.

The worst thing you can do not get good rest and practice self-care. So be mindful with yourself and prioritize sleep above all else!

Friday, January 6, 2017

It's All About Intention not Resolutions

Let's face it 2016 is a year that we can all say we are not sad to see go. I think that in part the reason why it was such a tough year for most of us is that it was a year of completion. In numerology 2016 represents the number  9 which symbolizes endings. Many of us experienced these "endings" kind of all at once which made it a stressful year. What is so exciting about 2017 is that it represents the number 1, a year of beginnings. Many of you may have made some realizations in the last year of things that were not serving you. It was a learning experience and now we are ready to take that information and apply it to a brand new year. The page is blank as they say! With the new year just behind us we can already feel the how the energy has shifted and are looking forward to all of this amazing potential.

So, at the new year the question always is; "what are you going to resolve to do to get back to normal and healthy or to improve yourself?"

The majority of us go through the motions of making resolutions with hopes to make change, but a few weeks or months into the year we find it difficult to keep up. The issue with resolutions are that they are just wishes. They are all expectation and no substance, no true intention. Because there is no true intention your subconscious mind doesn't prioritize these goals.

The best way to make healthier changes and move forward is to get clarity on where you want to be and what will allow you fulfill your highest good. It is impossible to change all at once and change is very difficult without a map. After all if you wanted to vacation on an exotic island there would be a lot of thought put in to planning everything perfectly so you could enjoy your investment.

The best way to gain clarity is to really strip everything back to your intentions. Just wanting to lose weight won't help you achieve the goal. Really sit with yourself and look for your "why". Just wanting to fit into a smaller size isn't enough to sustain the goals. Instead, dig deep. Is it because you want more energy to play with your kids, or grandkids or go on hikes with a loved one? What is really behind the surface? What do those experiences look like and feel like? What choices would that person choose if they were you?

 This is also, a really ridiculous time of year to expect a complete turnaround. It is cold and dark, we just got done enjoying an indulgent season. Winter is not a very motivating time to be setting up new habits and springing into action. It's no wonder why the majority of us will find that the new habits just aren't sticking. I am not saying to not be healthy, however putting expectations on yourself without really digging in and planning to set yourself up for success could be a disaster.

I was listening to Kate Northrup the other day and she made the observation that this time of year is particularly difficult for resolutions and that if you kind take a closer look at the calendar you can see that winter is more a time for hibernating planning and seeding. In the spring, plants will start to bud and produce the work that was done in the winter. This may be a much more healthy way to work on becoming healthier, losing weight, getting financially balanced. So if we allow this quarter to be about journaling and searching for our beliefs and also checking to see where we are congruent we can start making little shifts that by Spring we are more equipped to set goals and make big changes for the year.

With this in mind, it may be a really good time for reflection and journaling. What is it that you want for 2017? Is there a word that represents what you want for the year? Getting really clear on what you want will help you organize an action plan for beginning to act like your future higher-self. This will also set you up so that you can make decisions from that place and forgive when you go in another direction. It takes the concept of cheating out of the equation, There is no "good" and "bad" when you are in touch with your future higher-self. Yes, you will make mistakes, but all you have to do is check back in with her or him and keeping moving in that direction. No guilt and no cheating.

Here are some tips to get you started with your seeding! 

Get in touch with your intuition to help you gain clarity and become more introspective. April Adams and Emotional Healing Expert says "We all have intuition in various forms" Some of us can see visions or colors, some hear messages, some have an innate knowing and some feel emotions or sensations to guide them on their path. April Says "The trick is to discover what skill is the strongest for you and build on those skills. It will take some time, but some ways to move the needle along are to practice grounding, meditation, subconscious reprogramming and energy healing."  Doing this work will help you to get to clarity faster and really be in line with your higher self. To find out more about cultivating your intuition check out April's book Essence on Amazon.com. You can work with April privately at her Retreat on Elm or over the phone as well. 

Get Clarity. This can be fun! First things first to get in the mood (set intention by creating a special ritual around this) I would put on a fun outfit and get a notebook, maybe a glass of wine or green juice. Sit in an inspiring space and think about where you would like to be this time next year and what that feels like and looks like. Pick a word that sums it all up for yourself. If you like structure to help you journal I highly recommend either The Dragontree Dreambook and Planner or The Freedom Journal

Also, to make it fun play with your word of the year. Purchase little reminders of the word and place them in important places to help you remember. If you are artistically inclined you can also make something like a painting or a t-shirt that will help you remember to stay on track. The Giving Keys is a company doing something unique with your word of the year. Once you name your year have it engraved on a necklace and wear it proudly for others to see! I have seen custom temporary tattoos as well or make a fun date with yourself to get a henna tattoo with the word.

If you are looking to become more active try out some different classes to see what resonates with your future self.  Yoga is a great place to start because it is more than a physical practice and can get you connected to your mind, body, and spirit. There are so many different types of yoga that there is bound to be something that speaks to you and there isn't anything that quite unifies everything while working out (or working in;).  Brandy Hill of Banyan Tree Yoga  has great advice for newbies. "Do your research find a studio and type of yoga that speaks to you. Remember that there is no "right way" to do yoga. Take time and practice patience while you learn self-awareness. One of the mistakes new yogi's experience is focusing too much on the physical practice and forgetting to breathe. It is important to remember that no one is judging you. Surrender to the fact that you will always be practicing as there is always something to learn." Brandy has a fantastic Back to Basics Workshop scheduled for January 14th. Or maybe there is another class you want to check out at the studio. Mention THE VANITY ROOM and get a drop in class for $10.

"Accountability will keep you on the road to success." Says Coach Kyle Briere of Veritas Performance Training. "Once you get clarity on your goals the best way to keep accountable is to announce to your community what your intentions are. By announcing it you are sending a message to the world and to yourself that you believe it is possible." Also be specific and clear about the goal and when it should be accomplished" another great tip is to "Invest in an expert to save you time and money and allow you to break down your goals so that you can master success in a more targeted way!"

The most important thing you can do is to "Pick one thing and stick to it!" Says Diana Rogers RD, LDN, NTP  at The Sustainable Dish. She loves programs like the Whole 30 "Because it's not about weight loss or counting calories. It's about resetting your relationship with food." Diana does a wonderful job of helping others change their mindset around food and is running a great program starting January 11th called Find Your Balance you can also work with her remotely or privately by contacting her at The Sustainable Dish

Most importantly, you are the average of the five people you surround yourself with so seek out relationships of people who have the same interests and goals you do so that you can keep each other accountable and hold each other up. I hope that this year brings you much happiness and success and that you resolve to bring intention and clarity to whatever you do!