Chicken Skin Begone

Ever since I was in high school, I’ve struggled with what some call “chicken skin”, but is actually a condition called keratosis pilaris.  This means that I get inflamed bumps on the backs of my arms that look like zits. If I ever pick at them, they become huge and unsightly. I always felt super self-conscious about them, because if I left them alone they looked like zits (GROSSS), and if I tried to get rid of them I looked like I had welts on my arms (also GROSSSSSS).  It was a no-win.

I have tried everything to get rid of them.  Eventually I settled on a regimen of exfoliation and moisturizer, because it seemed to help lessen the amount, but they were never truly gone.  I HATE THEM.  Particularly in the summer.

One day, my husband asked me to pick up some affordable simple face lotion that he could use in the winter months.  A few weeks later, I ran out of my normal lotion so I used a pump of his face lotion on my arms.  When I woke up the next morning, my pumps were gone. No joke. I’ve been using this sweet little bottle of awesomeness on the backs of my arms ever since.

Do I have your attention yet?!  What if I told you that the lotion only cost $6?  And it is fragrance and paraben free?  And it is full of antioxidants?  It is the REAL DEAL, folks.  Here it is:

.

For those of you lucky enough to live near a Trader Joe’s, this can be found with the health and beauty items.  It’s a small bottle, but a little goes a long way.  For those of you who don’t have a Trader Joe’s nearby, you can grab a bottle from Amazon.com.

Trust me, I’ve tried it all.  This bottle is worth it.

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Hair Story

A long time ago in a blog far away, I told you about cowashing and my little hair experiment.  Here we are, over a year later, and this is how my hair looks . . .

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I went in a month or so ago to have it trimmed, and my stylist commented that i had almost no split or dry ends, and that my hair was INCREDIBLY healthy.  Clearly, the elimination of shampoo was the right move for me.

Here’s my winter hair routine:

I “wash” my hair once every five days.  When I do so, I get it thoroughly soaking wet at the beginning of my shower, then I coat it with Living Proof Perfect Hair Day conditioner.  **yes, it is expensive, but it seriously rocks and when you only wash your hair every five days you can splurge a little bit.

When I say “coat”, I mean that I use six pumps of conditioner on my scalp alone.  Then, I use another six pumps on the middle section of my hair and my nape.  Another six pumps goes onto my ends.  I use my fingertips to really scrub my head and get the conditioner on every little bit of hair.  Then, I do the rest of my shower duties, and rinse the conditioner off last thing.  When I rinse it, I again scrub like mad, using my fingertips to really work the water into my scalp and get it rinsed.

Next, I wrap my head in an old t-shirt to absorb the extra water for about five minutes (this trick is amazing).  I gently comb out the tangles and apply Living Proof Perfect Hair Day 5-in-1 Treatment, then air dry for about fifteen minutes.  Then, I blow dry, using a ceramic round brush and alligator clips.

My hair has serious volume and shine the first two days.  On the third day, I might need to apply a little hair BB cream to my ends (the picture above is day 3).  On the fourth and fifth day, I can do some great ponytails and braids using some dry shampoo at my roots to get serious volume.

My hair does not smell, nor does it get greasy when I work out.  I think my scalp is regulating itself really well and overall, my hair is far healthier than it has been since I was a child.

Skin Care Dilemma

Hey everyone!

So, I am generally super careful about what I put into my body – we buy organic produce when it makes sense, I cook from scratch as much as possible, and we avoid processed foods and beverages.  When we clean our home, we use vinegar, baking soda, and Barkeeper’s Friend for 99% of the jobs.  We do have a hard core cleanser for emergencies or problem areas (I’m looking at you, kids’ toilet).

There is one area that I really struggle with when it comes to cleaning up my act – skin care.  I have been struggling with my skin for over twenty years – it feels like I have ALWAYS been battling it.  When I was a teenager I had acne.  Not typical teenager pimples, but serious acne.  It was so tough.  In late high school, I was prescribed Accutane, which was supposed to solve all my problems.  While it did improve lots of issues, they were not eliminated.  Since my early twenties, I have battled breakouts in my chin area, blackheads on my nose, and dry skin on my forehead.  I have tried lots of products (seriously, LOTS) and have finally found a regime that seems to work.  However, every time I go to purchase my products, I see the list of ingredients and wish I knew of a more natural product that would also keep my skin clear.

I have been seeing a lot of posts online about Rodan + Fields, and was *thisclose* to ordering their Reverse line, because it looks like it does amazing things for the ladies who use it.  But, then I saw the ingredient list, and did some research.  The results I found were mixed.  However, in my search, I saw an article that noted that the European standards for skincare are more restrictive than those in the United States, and I started researching European products.  When I was in Paris a few years ago, I don’t recall seeing a lot of acne.  So, maybe those French ladies are on to something!

I’ve read review after review, and have narrowed down the field to three:  Avene, La Roche Posay, and Bioderma.  Have you had any experience with any of these?  Is there a brand or product that I am missing that I should try?  I am especially curious about micellar fluid and thermal spring water.  Let me know if you have tried one of these, and should I make the switch?

Apple Cider Vinegar Detox "Tea"

I love our summer at the lake.  I am beyond grateful that I get to take a month off with my littles and unplug, destress, and relaaaaax.  

However.

We do a LOT of entertaining.  We have visitors every weekend and sometimes even during the week.  This means we have lots of cookouts, and beer, and s’mores, and chips with dip.  Not sorry about this, because we are relaxing and having fun with friends.  But, my body does a total flipout, as it is directly the opposite of how we usually eat.  

My go-to fixer upper?  Apple cider detox “tea”.

I say “tea” because there is no actual tea in this drink.  It is a hot beverage that isn’t coffee.  So, “tea”, right?

I adapted a recipe I found on The Skinny Confidential...hers was too intense for me, especially first thing in the morning.  

Apple Cider Vinegar Detox “Tea”

  • 3 T apple cider vinegar (the organic good stuff with the “mother”)
  • Half a grapefruit
  • Tumeric
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Raw honey
  • Hot water

First, put your teakettle on.  While the water heats, put the ACV in a BIG mug.  Squeeze the grapefruit so all the juice goes in the mug, and toss the rind.  Add 2 T of raw honey, then sprinkle in a few shakes each of tumeric and cayenne pepper.  (Caution here – you can always add more tumeric and pepper, but can’t undo it if you go too far!)

Pour hot water in until the mug is full, stir, and enjoy.  I have been drinking this “tea” every morning for a few weeks and I have seen major benefits in bloating, digestion, appetite, and skin clarity.  

Cowash Experiment Update #4

Those of you who have been reading for a while know that I cut out shampoo on January 1.  My hair was dry, brittle and frizzy, and I’d heard that washing only once or twice a week, with conditioner only, was a great way to have shiny hair.  I have tried to update about every month or so.

The April reflection on this experiment is that it is no longer an experiment.  It is just the way I clean my hair.  My hair has never been so easy to care for.  After I swim with my kids on Saturdays, I come home and wash it with conditioner.  I give myself a blowout, which lasts all week long.  A while back I posted that I sometimes needed another wash mid-week, but that is no longer the case.  I can go the entire week without washing my hair.  The same is true of using dry shampoo.  I will still use dry shampoo for some volume from time to time, but I no longer need it to absorb oil.  I believe my scalp has adjusted and is only making a little bit of oil at a time, which keeps my hair from looking greasy.  Don’t believe me?  Here’s my hair on Friday, a full six days after washing it.

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It’s a little crazy from having been in a bun, but you can definitely see that it isn’t stringy, nor is it super greasy.  At the beginning of the week, the blowout keeps it pretty straight.  By the end of the week, sleeping in a bun has given it some serious beachy waves.  Here’s a front shot of it in a bun.  Same day, I promise.  I just changed my clothes.

bun

(Yes, the dress from yesterday’s post.)

If you’re considering giving it a try, I would recommend it 100%.  I have gotten so many compliments on my hair, and the only thing I have done is do LESS to it.  I don’t use any of the old products I needed to keep it under control, just some hair serum to protect it pre-blowout.  After that:  nada.  I am saving big bucks here not buying shampoo and fancy hair products!  This method is a winner.

Loving Kimonos

This time of year, I am all about layers.  I am freezing in the morning, and hot by mid-afternoon.  They key for spring is light layers – nothing too heavy or bulky.  Enough sweaters already!

Have you seen all of the amazing kimonos in the shops currently?  I am seeing them everywhere.  As with all things trendy, I am looking for budget-friendly options.  I save my splurges for pieces that defy trends.  Here are my favorites:

Pom Pom Kimono Jacket - Xhilaration®

Dolman Sleeve Kimono - Fashion Union

No Poo Co-wash Experiment Update #3

As you may know, I started this year with a no-poo experiment.   (If this is news to you, please see my first cowash post).  When I say “no-poo”, I mean “no shampoo”.  I’m not trying to confuse anyone or freak them out!  Below are some Q&A about how this works:

Why No Poo?
I’ve been unhappy with my hair for, oh, all my life basically.  As a teenager I washed it twice a day sometimes, and it was always dry and frizzy.  In college I cut it all off and highlighted it blonde, which was okay because it was short.  But, when I wanted to grow it out again, it was dry and brittle.  I have spent the last fifteen years trying product after product, in an effort to get my hair to look soft and moisturized.  Nothing worked long term.  A few years ago, I read some articles about how overwashing hair actually made it produce more oil at the root but dried out the hair shaft, so I decided to start washing my hair less often.  This had a great effect on my hair and I saw some great improvements, but I still lacked the healthy shine that I craved.  I tried the “no poo” baking soda and ACV method last summer, but I didn’t love it and there were articles claiming the pH of these ingredients are not great for hair.  In an effort to try something new, I did some more internet searching over winter break and found the Co-wash Method.  I decided to give it a try.

What exactly IS co-washing?
So, that’s a complicated answer.  A simple Google search gets you several different options.  Some people use a cleansing conditioner, like Wen or SheaMoisture.  As far as I can tell, these products are mostly conditioner, with a small amount of a shampoo-like substance mixed in to do some cleansing.  I am mostly unclear about how these work, and they didn’t sound like the solution I was looking for, so I passed.  Other people only wash their hair with conditioner, which is the option I decided to try, mostly because I didn’t have to buy yet another new product to try it out.

How do you co-wash?
The blogger Foodie With Family had a great explanation of how to go about it, so I gave it a try.  The basic idea is to get your hair really super wet, then goop a bunch of conditioner on your scalp and scrub it in all over the place.  Let it sit for a while, at least five minutes.  Then, rinse your scalp really well, scrubbing, tilting your head at every angle to be sure the water rinses all the conditioner away.

How is the co-washing going?
There is definitely a learning curve to this process – the first few times I co-washed, I had some greasy spots where I had either (a) not scrubbed conditioner in properly or (b) failed to rinse well.  At this point, I have not washed my hair with shampoo for two and a half months.  I LOVE IT.  I wash my hair twice a week – once on Saturday morning, when I give myself a fancy blowout and style so I look good all weekend.  This blowout lasts until Wednesday night, when I co-wash again and let my hair air dry for a curly, tousled look for Thursday and Friday.

How do you prolong the blowout?
The tip is a sleep bun.  I have been doing a bun at night for FOREVER, as it rejuvenates my wavy hair, but I totally love this explanation of how and why a sleep bun rocks.  Before I go to bed, I comb or brush my hair, put a little conditioning oil on the ends, then wrap it all up on top of my head.  I leave the sleep bun in while I work out in the morning, and then let my hair down once I get ready for my day.  On Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday, it is usually awesome and ready to go.  I will spray a tiny bit of hairspray on for staying power, but the sleep bun makes for amazing hair.  Wednesday is a mixed bag – I usually wind up with some dry shampoo on my roots and some sort of braid or ponytail that day.  Some weeks, though, it looks great even on Wednesday!

Conclusion?  I love co-washing.  My husband has not said anything about my hair looking or smelling gross, which he would certainly do if he noticed anything of the sort. I am losing a LOT less hair in the shower, only a few strands every time I wash.  Previously, every time I shampooed I lost a handful of hair.  My hair is shiny and bouncy, and I even though I usually co-wash twice a week, I honestly think I could get away with only once.  I may try that in the coming weeks, just to see what happens.  I have long hair, so I know what my ends typically look like three months after a cut.  They look great, compared to what I am used to.

If you are interested, I would really encourage you to give co-washing a try!  Your hair will thank you.