Natural Ways to Tighten and Brighten: Topical Vitamin C, AHAs and more

super-woman.jpgWhen a friend asks me a question about a specific skin care concern, I get excited.
And while I do my best to relay accurate and beneficial information, nothing is better that locating a local and knowledgeable professional esthetician that can guide you through the trial and error of finding what works best for your skin. I remember an interview on Oprah many years ago where David Bowie and his wife, the spectacularly beautiful mega-supermodel Iman confessed that she indulged in a professional spa facial once a week. When asked if that seemed a bit excessive, she replied quite directly and the gist of it was, “It’s your skin darling. You better choose to take care of it.”
Iman’s words stuck with me all these years and try to follow it. While I don’t have the budget for facials every week, I set some of my resources aside to pamper myself in this way. For those on a budget (and most of us are on tight ones), getting information via the internet can provide good information too. While I believe that simpler and all-natural is better, there are some stellar products that exist, are affordable and when they are adapted into your skin care regimen can bring great results.
One bit of advice, if you are curious about a product, but have problematic skin and want to sample before you buy, contact the company! Talk to a member of their team or email them about your concerns. If you agree to try a product, request a sample. They may require you to pay for shipping or a small fee for the sample, however, it may prove useful and save you a lot of money in the long run. A good company recognizes this and will honor sending samples!
Unfortunately, we used to be able to believe the reviews and content on online retail company sites for their opinions and experiences with the products. Buyer Beware!! These reviews (and much of what we read online) are written by professional marketers, that use tried and proved strategies to persuade you to click the “Buy Now” button. It’s tough to know what is real or not anymore, and marketing is getting insidiously smarter. The Beauty biz is a multi-billion dollar industry, and it’s a tough one to compete in, yet again, it’s even tougher to be a consumer! Big ocean, a few decent fish, be wary of sharks.
Getting back to it, here is a skin care question from Killeen:
So… I have just been exploring a new skin care regimen. Or, I should say, implementing a skin care regimen, as mine consists only of washing with Desert Essence Thoroughly Clean Face Wash. I’ve loved it for years, but now that I catch my girls literally trying to smooth out the wrinkles on my brow… I think I want/need some extra love beyond just a cleanser!
Since your blog is AWESOME… and full of info… do you have a few articles you’ve written that come to mind for someone who wants a chem-free, cruelty-free, kind-all-around moisturizer/toner/or whatever it is that will give me a bit of that tightness and glow back? :) I thought perhaps you could point me in the right direction.
Let’s Begin! I love the Desert Essence brand and interesting to note, have been using their Jojoba Oil as my evening facial cleanser. I apply and massage it onto my dry skin and either wipe it off with a soft cloth, or rinse off with tepid water (and it’s gentle enough to remove eye makeup!).
For tightness and glow, you will want to add something with Vitamin C, and possibly a routine AHA peel to your skin care regimen.
Vitamin C is the best for brightening and stimulating new collagen, as well as protecting your skin from further damage. Vitamin C serums are not all created equal, you will need to find a product that has at least a 15% potency, so that it can do what it is supposed to, and a product that will keep that potency and not oxidize.
Since you want to go chem-free (yay!), I will make a few top recommendations:
  1. Kim Sevy is a personal friend, beyond that, she is top-notch esthetician and skin care alchemist. I highly recommend her Vitamin C Serum, as well as her entire line, Alkim Me. Simple and straightforward, everything my skin has tried or sampled from Kim, has loved.
  2. Suki (My interview with her in 2007) Suki’s line demonstrates efficacy and integrity, my skin responded brilliantly with her Even Tone Brightening Serum.
  3. While I have not personally been able to try Eminence, I do know that this Hungarian and mostly organic skin care line is highly prized from many in the industry. While researching their products, I became curious about their Citrus Kale Potent C + E Serum, and am hoping to add a review about it soon.
There are many options and price points to consider, however, I really believe your skin will love and glow with a daily dose of Vitamin C.
I could go on and on! And we need to go there, so many interesting topics and products to discuss, like adding a retinoid, chemical or physical exfoliation, ingredients to avoid, sunscreens, and cosmetics to enhance, not distort your beautiful self.
Please share and all my best!!

August 3, 2015 at 8:44 am 1 comment

Unwanted Facial Hair: What’s a gal to do?

Jen Hill:

Such a top beauty topic, I believe this post is worth re-posting. Lots of insights on various methods of facial hair removal, as well as PCOD (Poly Cystic Ovarian Disorder). The comments are worth reading alone.

Originally posted on Mythbuster Beauty:

This is my facial hair dilemma.  

As a younger woman, I dealt with thick eyebrows and upper lip facial hair.  Now, those hairs aren’t as prolific, matter of fact, my eyebrows are thinning and graying.  Come back my thick, dark eyebrows, come back!

Chin hairs are my biggest issue nowadays.  I almost daily pluck these obnoxious stray hairs on my chin.  The amount of hair isn’t enough to warrant waxing or shaving (thank goodness), however, they keep coming back, and sometimes the the plucking causes an irritation or inflammed bump around the hair follicle.  

I looked into a laser hair removal treatment of my chin and upper lip hair, and it isn’t cheap.  The hair removal clinic also informed me if the hairs are light that the laser will not be effective.   And since about 50% of my facial hairs are blond or gray, and I wonder if the cost would still be worth it and…

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January 31, 2015 at 8:02 am Leave a comment

Healthy Ways to Clean Your Hair and Scalp: Shampoo Bars

After many years of using conventional shampoos and hair styling products, I was left with hair that felt dry and resembled straw. And the super sad thing about it was, I spent a lot of time, money and energy to create beautiful, healthy hair, and it still managed to be that way!  At one point, I had enough, and was fortunate enough to be led to some novel hair care ideas, and eventually learn the proper ways of maintaining and loving my own, unique hair.

Any of you fit in this category??

Let’s first talk about shampoos.

One of the most important pieces of advice that I can pass onto you is that most shampoos are entirely too harsh for your hair. Textured or curly/wavy hair types in particular need to hold onto their natural oils (or sebum) to add to its weight and hold onto proper moisture levels.

One method of cleansing is called conditioner washing or co-washing. In Lorraine Massey’s book, “Curly Girl” she recommends limiting or eliminating the shampooing step altogether. Instead of using a regular shampoo, she claims that a conditioner has enough surfactants to effectively wash our hair and scalp. By using a water-soluble silicone based conditioner, you can wash your hair with conditioner, and she termed this process CO-washing. By co-washing, you can effectively clean your hair and not strip the living daylights out of it!

But another idea is to use a gentler form of washing. With a gentler natural shampoo, one that can mildly cleanse without stripping.  I suggest to look for shampoos that contain moisturizing ingredients such as jojoba oil, babassu oil, olive oil, or mango butter. Sounds pretty good doesn’t it?

I have come across a few gentle emollient shampoos, and this particular one doesn’t come in a bottle. Termed a Shampoo Bar, it offers a novel approach to gently cleansing your hair and scalp.

Herbaria Soaps: Traveler’s Choice Shampoo

Traveler's-Choice-shampoo-soapPros:   It cleans your hair without removing its natural oils and leaves hair manageable.  Super gentle on the scalp, this soap is a multi-tasker (thus being named “Traveler’s Choice”) and can be used as a body soap, while its rich lather can also serve as your shaving cream!

Price:  $5.95 for a 4.5 ounce bar (should last you a month), and if you purchase 6 bars of any Herbaria soaps, you will get the 7th  free.

My 2 cents: Using a shampoo bar as an alternative to regular shampoo is something you will have to experience. While using traditional shampoos my hair would generally feel squeaky clean, no bueno! This bar has a lot of natural ingredients including Jojoba Oil, which is actually a natural wax. After using this shampoo bar, I definitely noticed a different feel to my hair.  It felt clean, but mildly coated and slightly tacky when wet, but completely soft and manageable when dry.

As a shampoo, Traveler’s Choice lathers copiously and leaves any kind of hair easy to manage. It contains no detergents, phthalates or synthetic fragrances, so common in other shampoos.  The light scent comes from essential oils of rosemary and petitgrain, which also benefit hair and scalp. Jojoba oil makes hair lustrous. These ingredients are kind to your complexion and clean your skin (and scalp) without drying it out.”

Feel free to comment or share about alternative hair washing methods or products that have worked for you!

Jen <3

November 20, 2014 at 2:08 pm Leave a comment

Drink up! Rooibos Red Tea for Beautiful Skin

Looking for a natural beauty boost? I’ve got a simple, super healthy (and inexpensive) way to do it.

Rooibos tea.

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Drink Up! Skin and Health Benefits from Rooibos Red Tea.

Since the cooler temps have arrived, nothing is better than sipping on a warm mug of an organic Rooibos tea, either blended with natural chai spices, vanilla, almond, or even on it’s very own. Great for overall skin and health, by aiding digestion and hydration. What got me excited, is that in a few weeks, I have noticed a nice improvement in the clarity and appearance of my skin. Being such a small thing, it scores big on the beauty boost scoreboard.

Get these skin-tastic facts!

Rooibos tea – pronounced Roy-boss, is indigenous to South Africa. Derived from the red bush, it is not considered a tea, but is part of the legume family. In nature, Red bush appears green, but then turns red (like our blood) through oxidation during the tea-making process.

Naturally caffeine-free, Rooibos is loaded with antioxidants which help protect from free radicals – those toxic by-products of normal cell function- which can contribute to aging and weaken the immune system. Rooibos contains many minerals such as copper, iron, magnesium, calcium, zinc and potassium, making it very beneficial for healthy bones and strong teeth.

Rooibos can also be applied to the skin topically to help relieve itchy dry skin like eczema, sunburns, and diaper rash. In fact on a recent visit back to South Africa, I noticed that more and more skin care products feature Rooibos as one of their ingredients. Alpha hydroxy acid and zinc both found in Rooibos, are great for promoting healthy smooth skins.

And even more health benefits are listed on Dr. Lipman’s webiste.

Drink up!!

-Jen <3

November 12, 2014 at 10:08 am Leave a comment

Please Help ME! Making Peace with your Hair

Last week I received an email and the subject line said, “PLEASE HELP ME!” and read as follows:

Hi Jen,

I really need some help and I was wondering if you could help me out. I have really REALLY thick curly hair. It’s longer than shoulder length (about half way down my chest). I am so sick of looking at my hair this way. I was never taught how to manage my hair properly because my mother has the exact opposite of what I have (so I blame my father for my torture. haha.) I’m so sick of looking at it that I want to cut….I want it all done. I want to do a short hair style but is there one that you would recommend? (pictures would be helpful so I can take it to a salon) Thanks so much for your time. – S

Oh S you are not alone.  This is my response to her:

Dear S,

I just got your message and would love to help you.  Have you spent any time on the website?  If not, if you could go to the page and tell me what kind of specific hair type you have.

I am a 3A, and it sounds like you might be a 3C or possibly a 4A.  There are a lot of wonderful techniques and products that I would love you to try.   If you can, visit your library and check out the book, “Curly Girl,” by Lorraine Massey, the curly girls BIBLE!

And just hold off for a bit on the haircut until you have researched this out and found a hairstylist that really understands curly hair (not many do).  You will want a dry cut, not a wet one, you need someone who spends time to see your curl pattern and can enhance what you have, and no razors allowed, ever!!!

I grew up in a family where everyone had “normal hair” except me, so they were all as bewildered as I was!  It took me 38 years to discover the curly girl method, and I am so happy you are going to learn to love your own hair, you really will.  Curly girls are IN, we are what is hip and what everyone wants right now, so by learning how to work with it is going to be an amazing experience for you.

I have a ton of articles on Mythbuster Beauty, including the post where I worked with Tracy and she took the three week naturally curly challenge:

The Three Week Naturally Curly ChallengeOn this post, you can read where we talk about specific curly hair rules, like no brushing, no shampooing, no blow frying, I mean drying!

Most importantly, learning to accept and embrace your hair is probably one of the most important and difficult things you will face (hopefully) :).  Thank you so much for trusting me and sharing this part of your life with me.  If you can give me your hair type information then I can search for some photos and continue on this journey to fabulous hair.

Best,  Jen

*This is a picture of a rose in my garden, it is the “Love and Peace” rose, which I think is an appropriate theme to making peace with your hair!

November 6, 2014 at 9:25 am Leave a comment

Face forward! It’s about Progression


“Wherever you are right now, with anything and all things:  your health, family, relationships, career, hopes, dreams, and searching for the answers to the questions that lie in the deep recesses of the cosmos… ;) Respect the process. We are all on this journey, and hopefully making some progress, perhaps slow, but making it.”

One of favorite friends Rai, who continually lifts and bolsters me, reminds me of this phrase whenever I feel like I’m sliding:

“It’s about Progression, not Perfection.”

I’ve done some shifting in the past years because of new informa325894_3248034639346_1531166434_otion, and it changed the way I look at things. This perspective is like polishing the glass in my mirror, and the result is having a clearer, better focus. It’s not like what I did before was “bad” or “good.” I grew up categorizing things like that a lot. Oh yeah, and mix that in with a sizable measure of “guilt.” You know that one too, eh?

I hope to share articles and posts that illuminate, providing new insights into the concept of beauty.

Truth is beauty!

Jen <3

P.S.  To meet up with some of my personal besties, join us on Facebook!!


November 5, 2014 at 9:08 am Leave a comment

Beauty and the “Big Green Purse”

Jen Hill:

Bringing back an eco-principled beauty post this Throwback Thursday!!

The Big Green Purse Shopping Principles:

1) Buy less.
2) Read the label.
3) Support sustainable standards.
4) Look for third-party verification.
5) Choose fewer ingredients.
6) Pick less packaging.
7) Buy local.

Originally posted on Mythbuster Beauty:

Tuesday April 22nd has been designated as Earth Day for 2008. Thousands of individuals and organizations will be taking action to a make positive, healing impact on our world.

This past January, I was able to meet a fascinating and extremely smart woman named Diane MacEachern. Diane MacEachern is the author of, Big Green Purse: Use Your Spending Power to Create a Cleaner, Greener World.” Her book discusses the fact that women make the majority of all purchases, and by their purchasing choices, can make a significant difference in what is being manufactured and protecting our environment.

The Big Green Purse Shopping Principles:

1) Buy less.
2) Read the label.
3) Support sustainable standards.
4) Look for third-party verification.
5) Choose fewer ingredients.
6) Pick less packaging.
7) Buy local.

Diane asks women to take a $1,000 green spending challenge; shifting the money we already…

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October 30, 2014 at 6:31 am Leave a comment

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Jen Hill

Jen Hill

beauty buster a;-)

Yes, I have been described as a social butterfly. Those strong, beautiful wings can really take you places!

What sets me off? Seeking out emerging trends in the marketplace and finding clever ways to fill it.

I enjoy hanging out with my homies, cooking/baking yummy food and laughing, More often than not, you can find me outdoors, without shoes, and my hands in the dirt!


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