Drop the rope.

For the better part of the last 15 years, I have been in a virtual tug-of-war. Physically, emotionally, intellectually and financially. Somedays winning, somedays losing, but every day tugging on the rope with everything I’ve got. Yesterday, I received the best advice.

Now, I can’t say I haven’t heard this advice before, but I think yesterday I was ready to listen. Knowing what to do and actually doing it are two very different things. I think I may have known what I needed to do, I just didn’t know how to execute it. Just a few very simple words crafted into a meaningful analogy.

Drop the rope. 

Wait, what? 

DROP. THE. ROPE. 

I can’t just drop the rope. 

Yes, you can drop the rope. You can drop the rope and walk away. You can walk away and be victorious. 

Huh? 

Today is a new beginning for me. No more tugging. No more convincing, no more elaborate explanations, no more need for approval or acceptance, no more wanting, wishing and waiting for things to change. 

Simply 100% acceptance.

The end.

Dim the Lights: Sex and Your Skin

Sex and your skin

So…this is what it looks like? In our heads, maybe.

Did you know that having sex can improve your skin? Neither did I. So, when I recently read an article in a beauty magazine claiming as much, I didn’t start prescribing lovemaking to my clients. Sorry, but it’s not a treatment regimen I’ll soon be suggesting.

The sex therapist that served as consultant for the piece claimed that perspiring and increased circulation could make your skin brighter, your lips fuller, your acne diminished, your wrinkles and age spots staved off, and your skin moist.

Wow, I thought. That is really off.

It’s true that sweating and increased circulation can be good for your skin. But if you’re one of the countless people struggling with acne, wrinkles, and age spots, you may also be struggling with feeling sexy. So, here’s exactly what you didn’t need: Someone telling you to improve your face by having sex. You’ll really love the study she cited, too, saying that a group of people with active sex lives looked an average of 7 to 12 years younger than their less lusty friends. You know what I thought? Maybe the people who look 7 to 12 years younger are having more sex as a result of looking younger and feeling better about their appearances!

How we feel about the way we look greatly impacts our sexuality. Particularly with women, it’s difficult to get in the mood if you don’t see yourself as attractive. That’s why an improved sex life is far more likely to be a side-effect of improved skin, not the other way around. If you’re having sex to improve the way you look, more power to you. It can’t hurt. But if you want to improve your skin in order to feel sexier, I can help with that. I may not in the business of sex therapy, but I’m certainly in the business of making people feel good in their own skin. If that isn’t sexy, I don’t know what is.

 

Turn Around, Bright Eyes: Tips and Tricks for Rejuvenating Your Peepers

Turn Around, Bright Eyes!

Rejuvenation for your eyes won’t involve Bonnie Tyler

Do eye creams work? Yes. Do moisturizers work? Yes. And so do plenty of water, sleep, and sun block. But the fact of the matter is that these daily ways of tending to the skin around your eyes won’t hold off Father Time forever.

A lot of people think that because Botox relaxes or temporarily paralyzes muscles, it would lead to sagging or drooping if used for the skin around the eyes. The reality is that our faces are made up of muscles that are in a constant tug-o-war with each other, and by relaxing those muscles that pull down, a lifting effect can be achieved. Hence, the Botox brow lift.

Have under-eye bags and creases? You don’t necessarily need a surgical eye lift. It’s possible in many cases to knock out this problem with laser fillers. Strategically injected, these can have amazing results that really do mimic eye surgery.

If you’re worried about creping skin around your eyes, skip the Botox. Laser skin resurfacing is an option, but it’s definitely not a first line of offense. Better to start with mild chemical peels and Retin A products. Both can be quite effective in this battle.

A trip to the skincare specialist may not be what you have in mind. If you’re looking for some quick and easy techniques, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • A good brow wax can brighten the eyes by opening up the arch above them. Many people call a brow wax a non-surgical eye lift!
  • Thin or sparse brows should be filled out and defined with a brow pencil, because framed eyes look brighter. Visit a quality make-up counter for a lesson, because this is definitely an art.
  • A little highlighter dabbed under the arch of the brow gives the illusion of brightness.
  • Invest in some Lumiere Bio-Restorative Eye Cream. Many, many, many of our clients love this stuff for dark circles and puffiness.

Something for the Post-Black Friday Blues

Black Friday crowd

This wasn’t you, was it? If so…are you depressed?

Dare I say it? Gift-shopping season is upon us. Ever noticed how the stores start to fill up with more and more junk this time of year? I find it overwhelming, trying to see through all the cheap-o stuff that comes out for the season—tins of 100 nail polishes, pre-packed men’s toiletry bags, telescoping flashlights, trinkets to attach to your mailbox, anything-and-everything on a keychain. I personally prefer to give gifts that show some thought and care went into them. Gift baskets are always nice, because you can design them around a theme and include lots of different ways to make a person feel good. They don’t need to be huge! And so, to you, I present a few nice ideas for putting together your own gift baskets from the skincare world:

Hands

Nail-Revitalizing Hand Soap by Elon. Strengthens nails with every washing. $10

Chilean Rosehip with Tamanu and Red Clover Hand Cream by Pangea Organics. A rich, emollient hand-moisturizer that smells so good you can’t get enough. $12

Oil Therapy by Nailtiques. A blend of natural oils that promotes and seals in moisture to soften nails and cuticles. $12

Pushy and Nail Cleaner by Tweezerman. Use the rounded end to remove gunk under the nails and the flat end to push back cuticles. $17

Hot Ticket I’ll Pink to That Nail Polish by theBalm. A super-sweet strawberry-pink shade in a non-chip formula, just the right way to polish off hand treatments. $10

 

Face

Skin Renewing Facial Scrub by Mineral Fusion. A dual-action scrub that both exfoliates the skin and strengthens it with damage-fighting minerals. $13

White Tea Cucumber Face Toner by Time Balm. A gentle toner that soothes, tightens pores, and conditions skin. $12.50

Daytime Undermakeup Moisture Cream by Atopolm. A unique moisturizer with that mimics natural skin lipids and inhibits evaporation, creating smooth and supple skin better prepared for make-up. $18

Eye Brightener by Colorescience. A puffiness-battling, eye-brightening moisturizer for under the eyes. $17.50

gloExfoliating Lip Wand by glominerals. A smoothing softening exfoliant for the lips with a sweet, peachy scent. $15.50

 

Body

Lemon and Sage Body Bar by Bliss. A citrus-scented soap to exfoliate all over the body. $15

Bath Salts by Zents. Soothing, softening formula with both Epsom and sea salts in a variety of yummy aromas unlike any other line. $20

Pyrenees Lavender and Cardamom Oil by Pangea Organics. A massage and body oil infused with lavender for soul-soothing and cardamom for skin-cleansing. $24

Cleopatra Crema de Corpo Body Lotion by Tocca Beauty. A deliciously creamy body lotion with notes of cucumber and grapefruit and infused with almond, shea butter, and honey. $20

Gratitude

Gratitude makes you beautiful from the inside out.

Gratitude makes you beautiful from the inside out.

Years ago, I read an article by a woman who had just come through a pretty serious bout of depression. Her husband had been sent overseas for a year. Her mom had fallen ill. Her child was in the thick of the terrible twos. “Little” things like a roof-ripping hailstorm, a perpetually unreliable mailman, and 10 pounds of weight gain kept piling atop the bigger things. Oddly enough, the article was about gratitude. At rock bottom, when her energy was at an all-time low, the writer made a conscious decision to mend her spirit by doing for others. She volunteered at a local hospice. She brought clothes and toys to a homeless shelter. She made weekly homemade-cookie deliveries to a homebound neighbor. At first, she did these things to stave off self-pity. But the end result was learning that gratitude is medicine.

Gratitude makes you beautiful from the inside out. It’s better than any amount of homemade chicken soup, better than wine-by-the-fire at the end of a long day, better than Botox on a crunched-up forehead. Sometimes we get so used to repeating thanks for the same ol’, same ol’ (our health, our friends, our homes, our families) that we start to not feel the gratitude in an authentic way. Repeat the same words often enough, and you can lose the spirit behind them. Maybe that’s why it was so helpful to that woman to change her vantage point on the world. In doing so, she saw her life in a new context and managed to cast light on blessings she’d unconsciously been paying mere lip-service to. What’s more, she learned what it feels like to be the object of someone else’s gratitude. Powerful medicine.

Many of us will be sitting around tables this week giving thanks. May I suggest that as we do that, we also think of ways to change our vantage point on our little worlds, to cast new light on all that’s good in our lives? Then, as we step out of the Thanksgiving season and into December, maybe we can bring even more beauty into our lives by becoming the object of someone else’s gratitude—by bringing beauty into the lives of others.

The Truth Inside the Booth

Women in a sauna

Taking care of yourself FOR yourself!

We are a few weeks past the election so let’s not talk politics. I think we’ve all had enough of the campaign calls and the commercials with five-word, out-of-context snippets played to horror movie scores. Yeah, let’s talk about something else.

Like polling booths.

I don’t spend a lot of time in the booth when I vote. Long before I step foot inside, I’ve put a lot of thought and care into what’s going to take place there. Nobody’s watching and few may ever know what I’ve done, but that doesn’t matter one whit. After all, it’s in those times when nobody’s watching, that our choices matter most.

(Honestly, I’m really not talking politics.)

Do you ever do that thing where you sort of let yourself go when you’re not going to work or won’t be seeing anyone special or going out anywhere exciting? You know, when nobody’s watching? Think of those whole mornings or even days when you don’t put on your makeup or an outfit you like. What happens on those days? You don’t feel your best. You might even feel like crap.

When we feel like we look good, we feel better emotionally. That’s why you shouldn’t think of dressing up and fixing your hair and doing your makeup as things meant to make yourself presentable to others. Think of them as things you do to keep yourself feeling good. Take care of yourself for yourself. It really doesn’t matter that nobody’s watching. Just like in the voting booth: Your choices at those times have a direct impact on you. Take good care with them, knowing that you really do count.

“Spring” Cleaning in November? You Bet!

Clean out your old Skin Care products!

Clean out your skincare supplies

Believe it or not, there’s such a thing as National Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day. It happens on November 15, THAT’S TODAY! I won’t blame you one bit if you pretend you didn’t hear that. In fact, I’d suggest you (a) clean out your fridge more than once every year and (b) instead clean out your skincare supplies.

Let’s start with prescription skincare products. Like other prescription products, they come with expiration dates. Contrary to popular belief, these dates aren’t arbitrarily chosen and slapped onto the labels to boost repeat sales. They’re provided to let you know when your products are losing potency. Yes, most skincare products can be used beyond their expiration dates—but not for too long. By the time they reach those dates, they are breaking down and lacking the therapeutic potential for which they were prescribed. Toss ‘em out like old Yoplait from the dark recesses of your fridge.

Next, let’s talk non-prescription skincare products. They go bad, too. Please pay particular attention to your sunscreens. I have a friend who has a bottle of sunscreen that she just won’t let die. Rest assured, after 10+ years, what’s inside that decaying bottle offers about as much sun protection as Adam and Eve’s fig leaves. Throw out your sunscreen at the end of every summer (the end of every season actually), and start anew. Multi-use cosmetic products such as 2-in-1 lipstick/eye-shadow sticks can spread germs across your face. Toss all of these twice a year. Unless you use a sponge to apply foundation, get rid of it every couple of months to avoid bacteria build-up that can harm your skin. In addition, don’t want for your lotions and cleansers to get gunk build-up in their lids. By then, you’ve waited too long. Many cleansers and lotions contain fatty acids, which can go rancid. Rancid stuff is obviously not good for your skin!

Want to know a great way to extend the life of your makeup? Put it in a cool, dry place. You know, like your fridge—once it’s cleaned out, of course.

Imitation as Flattery? Not Always!

Imitation as Flattery? Not Always!

Imitation may be fine for fashion, but it can be troublesome in other arenas.

Imitation is human nature. Often without our consciously realizing it, we copy looks we see in magazines, on television, and in the general popular culture around us. It’s how trends are born. Those who determine trends—the runway artists, if you will—know many seasons ahead of the rest of us what we’re all going to be wearing. They know it because they decide it.

Imitation may be fine for fashion, but it can be troublesome in other arenas. You know the saying imitation is the sincerest form of flattery? The original saying was actually imitation is a sort of artless form of flattery. I bring this up because there’s a troubling contingent of women out there who go seeking fillers and Botox and brow-lifts and nose jobs and—well, you name it—not to upkeep or rejuvenate their looks but because they’re trying to look like someone else. Just think: Angelina Jolie spawned a thousand plumped-up lips around the world. Kim Kardashian’s ample derrière likely gave rise to a bizarre new underground procedure: extreme-size butt implants.

I can’t explain the psychology. That’s not my field. But I can say as a registered nurse and cosmetic dermatology provider that trying to recreate someone else’s look is usually a bad idea. Hairstyles? Fine. Faces? Not so much. It just doesn’t translate. I look at faces all day long, and I see beauty in every one of them. I really do. Each of our faces is an original composition. We’re the most incredible art gallery. I like being a bit of a curator to the artworks, taking good care of them, fighting damage, restoring them to their best condition. It is my hope that those who come to me, come knowing that they don’t need to try to look like someone else to be beautiful. They’re already unique works of fine art.

Five Little Questions: See How Much Mother Nature Rules Your World

Fighting Mother Nature!

Fighting Mother Nature!

Conflicted about getting a cosmetic procedure done? As we age, it’s really common for women to secretly fantasize about getting some work done. Mirrors quickly become a tool for seeing not what we do look like but what we could look like: pushing up those chin wattles, pulling back the skin at our temples, stretching the area around the mouth to un-pucker drawstring wrinkles around the lips. I know a lot of people who don’t bite the proverbial bullet because they’re too embarrassed to fight Mother Nature. They’re afraid it’s just unnatural. If you think about it, there are lots of ways we “fight Mother Nature.” She’s not always kind to us, and we don’t have to roll over onto our backs and take it. Here’s a little quiz to find out just how much you’ll accept what she offers you:

  1. A blizzard blows in. Do you (a) run under a tree or (b) get in your house or throw on your winter gear.
  2. You’re born nearsighted. Do you (a) read only things that you can hold close to your face or (b) get some contact lenses or glasses?
  3. A summer drought is killing your lawn. Do you (a) wring your hands or (b) get out your sprinkler and let it quench the grass?
  4. You have a uni-brow. Do you (a) marry Diego Rivera or (b) get it waxed?
  5. Hailstones damage the siding of your house. Do you (a) start billing your home as the polka-dotted place or (b) get the siding replace?

12 Tips for Looking Your Best in Photos

Mother and child taking photo

Mom’s now can take pictures with themselves in it much easier – and they look better too!

The photo albums from my childhood are crammed with images of everyone in my family except my mom. She was usually the one snapping pictures while the rest of us posed or ran away. I’d venture to say most women spend more time behind the camera than in front of it. So, when you do get a chance to be photographed, you really don’t want to look like a washed-out character from the dustbowl. You don’t want to be remembered like that! Because photographs don’t perfectly reflect the actual image—skin tends to look more washed-out, for example—it’s a good idea to learn how to play nicely with the camera. Here are some tips from makeup and photography experts to help:
[Read more…]