Not AWOL; in England!

Hello,

Just in case you were wondering why I’ve not been posting recently, it’s because I’m on vacay-cay in the UK! I will be back in the New Year, and I wish you all a Merry Christmas!!!

Liv 🙂

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DIY Orange and Clove Pomander for Xmas!

I have such fond memories of making these yummy smelling orange and clove pomanders when I was a kid. They’re an English tradition, and I can’t think of anything that smells more Christmassy.

Simply take an orange and stud it with whole cloves. You can arrange the cloves in a pattern or simply dot them around  the orange.

For children, you can take it a step further. Traditionally, we would put four cocktail sticks or toothpicks in the orange and spear them with jelly candies. We would then wrap a red ribbon around the middle of the orange, and present them as gifts to the kids.

I know this isn’t beauty related, but I’m feeling nostalgic, sipping some cocoa, and wanted to share with you a really easy Christmassy DIY! Enjoy 🙂

Pacifica Aquarian Gaze Mascara and Dreamlit Under Eye Brightener Review!

Pacifica has been one of my favorite brands since starting on my green beauty journey. It’s accessible (Target, au naturellement) relatively cheap (compared to many green/organic brands) and the packaging has this amazing art deco vintage thing going on that makes me want to crack open an Agatha Christie, dig out my flapper costume, and smoke cheroots.

So I was very happy to try out Pacifica’s Dreamlit Under Eye Brightener in “Bare.” ($15.00)

I’m really glad I’ve finally found a decent mineral concealer! This stuff does the trick, and best of all it doesn’t sink into fine lines or look dry. I put this down to my favorite of ingredients which is – as you know by now – coconut oil. This concealer also contains caffeine and reflective minerals, and I think it does a really good job of banishing dark circles. As an added bonus this looks nice on eyelids for a natural eyeshadow, or in the corners of your eye for a wide-awake look. However, it wouldn’t work for covering up zits or scars because it’s too shimmery. Pacifica also sells this in a pinker more translucent shade called “Dreamlight,” which looks more like a bog-standard highlighter than a concealer. Plus you’re then buying a product strangely named “Dreamlit Dreamlight.” 🙂 It’s a shame there aren’t more shades for different skin tones, but for fair skin the “Bare” shade is lovely. However, if you’re after a deeper tone, matte or full coverage, be aware that this ain’t that.

I also bought the Aquarian Gaze Water Resistant Long-Lash Mineral Mascara in “Abyss.” ($14.00) I was excited about this one because my Suncoat Sugar Based mascara is, well, let’s not put too fine a point on it. It’s crap.  Would I have finally found the mineral mascara of my dreams? Weeelll, not really. I guess the crazy long name sounds like it’s overcompensating for something, so maybe I should have been wary…

Though it’s had good reviews, the best thing about this mascara is the color – it’s a deep, deep black and really makes your lashes pop. But it doesn’t really separate lashes that well, nor does it really lengthen. At least, not in comparison to non-mineral mascaras that I’ve used up to this point by Benefit, Too-Faced and Smashbox. It’s a step up from Tarte’s – I can’t stand Tarte mascara because it has a wand with REALLY scratchy bristles, and it’s definitely a step up from the sticky sugar-based Suncoat. But it does tend to flake a bit during the day, and weirdly makes my lashes feel stiff. Also, I just discovered, that it contains one of my ingredient no-no’s: Disodium EDTA (considered low risk by EWG, but I’d rather have no risk thanks!) To be honest, you may as well just use a regular brand mascara as use this. I’ve heard that the best mineral mascara is W3LL People’s, so maybe I’ll just have to bite the bullet and splash out on that once this tube is used up.

How about you? Any mineral mascara joy?

The Sane Diet: What is Joyful Eating?

A good few years back, I went through a really difficult time in my life. I had just moved to America from England, leaving behind my family and friends. I had a newly minted PhD but couldn’t find a job, and had no academic connections in the U.S. And I knew pretty much no one in America, besides my new husband’s family. New house, no job, and an entirely different culture to deal with. Not to mention homesickness. Not surprisingly, I also began to have panic attacks.

Ridiculously (but I was only about 26 in my defense) I did not give myself permission to feel anger, grief, or upset about these changes. Instead, I blamed myself and internalized everything, thinking there must be something wrong with me for not being able to adjust to them. Jobless, I had a quite a bit of time on my hands with which to ruminate on fixing this problem…

The ‘answer’ I rationalized, was to ‘improve myself.’ The anxiety I felt was my fault, therefore I had to become a more serene, healthier, happier person. I really didn’t stop to think that I had very good reasons to feel anxious!

At around this time, I picked up a book on eating healthily with a plant-based diet. I also started attending yoga classes. I became vegetarian and practiced yoga every day, with a view to becoming a yoga teacher. I started reading lots of books on spirituality, especially Buddhism. A trip to Whole Foods could take two hours because I carefully read the ingredients of every single item I picked up in an effort to avoid any processed or refined ingredients.

Now, this is actually a pretty healthy lifestyle, right? Arguably, yes. But, here’s the thing. I was practicing this lifestyle for all the wrong reasons.

I was feeling so out of control of my own life, placing all of the blame for my negative feelings on myself, that I had turned to diet and spirituality as a means of gaining a modicum of control. Every time I checked the food labels, I felt empowered and in control. In reality, I was anything but. And, crucially, it didn’t make me much happier…it certainly didn’t make me a ‘better’ person (what did, IMO, was gaining confidence at work, and being less serious and more lighthearted about life).

Don’t get me wrong, yoga and healthy eating are both great. I still try to practice both. But I’ve quit the obsessive label-checking; the flirtations with veganism (which, again, I think I flirted with only because I was down this path of food control = moral purification. In other words, it was a way to feel ‘in control’ again) and the self-help/diet book reading. I would like to be vegetarian again, however. I fell off the wagon two years back, but I care deeply about animal welfare, and still feel guilty when I eat meat! I think that is the right reason to be vegetarian, though.

What I’m getting at here is that deep down, you know when you’ve been hijacked by your own desire to ‘self-improve.’ You know it because you feel anxious about food, weirdly ‘high’ when you eat healthily for a whole week (or some other self-imposed goal) and, perhaps the biggest giveaway, you feel like you are on some kind of ‘journey’ or ‘quest.’ Let me tell you, this is a quest that you can never achieve, because the only place it leads is more self-doubt, recrimination, and anxiety. Once you’ve reached one goal, all you can do is replace it with another more restrictive one. Where’s the joy in that?

If you’re wondering why I felt compelled to suddenly share my thoughts on this topic, it’s because I just finished reading an article about a new eating disorder that’s appearing on the DSM V: orthorexia. This is defined as an obsession with food and diet as a means to self-purify, to the point where it negatively impacts one’s health or ability to function in the world.

I don’t think I was even CLOSE to this point…orthorexia is a radical condition, and fairly rare. Still, all disorders appear on a continuum and I perhaps splashed about a bit in the paddling pool end of the spectrum.

So, how SHOULD one eat? What is joyful eating? Really, it’s simple. Too simple for control-freaks like me, perhaps, but all the more healthy because of it’s simplicity! As author Michael Pollan suggests, “eat food, mostly plants.” If you’re eating a well-balanced whole-food diet, getting exercise, drinking enough water, and cutting down on sugars, you’ll be just fine. Cook at home. Eat some chocolate when you feel like it. Avoid binges (which is pretty easy when you’re not dieting) and don’t think about food too much. And, by all means, practice yoga. Yoga, in fact, is the one exercise that keeps me feeling sane and balanced. I just don’t obsess about getting the ‘perfect pose’ anymore. I do it for me, and to feel good – not to prove something to my teacher or to myself. I also highly recommend mindfulness practices. It really helped me deal with my anxiety and accept rather than to seek to change it.

Right now, on this green beauty journey I’m on, I’m careful not to get obsessive about ‘purity’ because I know this is a flaw in myself that can be a problem, especially when I’m feeling out of control or low-confidence. So if a product isn’t 100% clean, I’m OK with that. I don’t want my old food issues to simply transfer to another locus of control!!

I hope this advice proves useful to you guys, and that as 2015 approaches you can put it to some use as you crack out the resolutions journal…

Have a happy healthy Holiday season…and eat joyfully!

Liv 🙂

Top Tip: Use Coconut Oil When Applying Mineral Eyeshadow…!

Hi Friends,

Today I want to share a little beauty secret with you. I don’t think it’s life-changing or mind-altering, but it has certainly made me a little bit happier when putting on makeup (I don’t ask for much).

So, when I first got into green beauty I bought a few loose mineral eyeshadows…you know the ones that come in a little pot? I love them, but here’s the thing – they’re messy, they’re hard to apply, and the powder often drops onto my cheeks and under my eyes despite my best efforts. It’s especially difficult to apply shimmery, glittery powders.

I experimented with applying with my fingers (smeary and uneven application) a brush (disaster! Powder everywhere!) and wetting my finger to pick up more shadow so it wouldn’t drop everywhere (back to smeary and uneven application).

But there is a happy ending to my story.

Because, if you dip a finger into solidified (room temperature) coconut oil and THEN into the powder, it glides on like a dream – no creases, no weird uneven application, and no glitter on my cheeks making me look like a ten year old at a birthday party.

Hooray!

Try it. And let me know if it made you smile.

Liv 🙂

Discover The Best Oil For Your Skintype!

I know that I have no right to complain about the weather being as I live in L.A. and all, but I’m originally from Britain and complaining is what we do best. And, even in L.A, where people get excited if they see a CLOUD, there’s a chill in the air and a nip at my nose.

The side effect of colder weather is drier skin, so I’ve been researching more about oils recently. And if you’re looking for the perfect oil to experiment with over the bleaker months, I hope this proves a handy guide!

So…which is the best oil for your skin? I’ve done my own research, plus consulted a great book called “The Idiot’s Guide To Making Natural Beauty Products,” to bring you a great list to choose from:

ALMOND OIL – Sweet almond oil is great for dry, itchy skin – especially if you suffer from eczema, psoriasis, or inflammation. This makes it a great ‘winter weather’ oil. (Also a great carrier oil for essential oils)

APRICOT KERNEL OIL – Like almond oil, apricot kernel oil is great for dry skin, and also used in lots of products for mature skin.

ARGAN OIL – Every green beauty bloggers’ favorite, and for good reason. Argan oil is a great all-rounder, helping with hydration, anti-aging, dry skin and increasing skin elasticity. Another benefit is it doesn’t clog pores.

CHERRY KERNEL OIL – This unusual oil has many of the benefits of almond and apricot kernel oil, but is more nongreasy in feel.

COCONUT OIL – Another beauty blogger favorite (and mine) coconut oil is fantastic! It hydrates, absorbs easily, and leaves skin with a dewy glow that can’t be beat. This is why I love it as an ingredient in lipbalms and beauty products as well; it makes the consistency and finish just lovely. I have an article about the top 10 uses of coconut oil here.

CRANBERRY SEED OIL – Good for anti-aging, it protects skin from damage caused by free radicals. Great for under the eyes too.

EVENING PRIMROSE OIL – Great for dry, itchy skin, acne, and dermatitis.

GRAPESEED OIL – Grapeseed oil is very healing, as it contains vitamin E, antioxidants and fatty acids. Another oil that is used for acne.

HEMP SEED OIL – Good for dry, irritated skin. I love the company “The Wonderseed,” all of whose products contain hemp seed oil.

JOJOBA OIL – One of my favorite oils. And guess what? It’s actually a liquid wax! Jojoba oil is great for dry skin, wrinkles, acne, and a few drops on your hair will help moisturize. The biggest difference I’ve noticed in my skin since using jojoba oil is a lessening of redness around my nose. You can also use it as a make-up remover. BONUS – has an infinite shelf-life, so crack out that four year old bottle you’ve got lying around!

KUKUI OIL – This is exotic sounding, but is really good for sun and wind burns, so if you’re going skiing or snowboarding this winter, get yourself some kukui oil! It’s also a good hair product, especially for dandruff. And despite the exotic sounding name, this is readily available to buy online!

MACADAMIA OIL – I’d love to try this; I have a feeling my skin would love it, because it’s very rich, being high in fatty acids. It’s especially good for regeneration of skin, scars, irritated skin, fine lines, and softening the skin.

MARAJUCA OIL – An anti-inflammatory oil, it helps dry, sensitive skin, and helps balance sebum.

OLIVE OIL – Another favorite of mine! Nothing beats the moisturizing properties of olive oil so if it’s a ton of moisture you want, this is the oil for you.

PASSION FRUIT OIL – Used for acne.

PRICKLY-PEAR SEED OIL – This is the new darling of the beauty world! I haven’t tried it yet, but it’s supposed to be good for fine lines, hydrating, and dark under-eye circles.

PUMPKIN SEED OIL – Another ‘healing’ oil used for rosacea, eczema, psoriasis, burns, wounds, and scars.

ROSEHIP SEED OIL – Known for its anti-aging properties, it renews skin cells, and helps fade age spots.

SESAME SEED OIL – In Ayurveda this oil is meant to be very soothing and grounding. Great for self-massage, and very moisturizing.

WALNUT OIL – Walnut oil has great anti-aging properties. Helps smooth wrinkles and fine lines.

WATERMELON OIL – One for the summer! Very lightweight and balancing; great for T-zone type skin. Not greasy, but very moisturizing, this one is on my wishlist once the warmer months roll back around. Actually, like jojoba oil this has an indefinite shelf life, so you can get it now and just save it for summer 🙂

You can also mix oils to create your own custom blends! Jojoba and olive oil is very nourishing!

Any new oils here you’d like to try? Any I’m missing? Let me know below!

Liv:)

#Giving Tuesday: Support Safe Cosmetics!

Hi Friends,

This Giving Tuesday I received the following email from the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics – I wanted to share it with you guys! I donated – will you? 🙂

December 2, 2014Dear Olivia,
December 2nd is #GivingTuesday, a day to celebrate our nation’s great tradition of generosity and have fun boosting our favorite causes. #GivingTuesday demonstrates that we can do more with our wallets than just shop Black Friday sales, and that we don’t have to be multimillionaires to give back to causes and communities we believe in.

Be a part of the #GivingTuesday movement by supporting our work to make cosmetics safe for all your loved ones.

Did you know it’s legal to use cancer-causing chemicals in cosmetics like shampoo, lotion, mascara, and eye shadows? Outrageous, right? It’s completely unacceptable to us that cosmetics and personal care product makers think it’s ok to expose women, men, and children to cancer chemicals as part of our daily cleaning and beauty routines.W We believe we can change the cosmetics industry for the better and make the use of cancer chemicals a thing of the past.

This year, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics launched the Cosmetics Without Cancer campaign to pressure cosmetics companies to stop using chemicals linked to cancer in their products. We can win this effort, but we need your financial and political support.

On #GivingTuesday, make a gift that makes a difference. Together we can make Cosmetics Without Cancer the new industry standard! 

Thank you. Your support means the world to us.
.

Warm regards,
.

Janet Nudelman
Director, Campaign for Safe Cosmetics