23 August 2018

Why Do I Have Acne? And What To Do About It...

Let's talk about acne. Acne is something I am so used to talking about. I used to be so scared to talk about it out of fear that people would see beyond my layers of foundation and realize "this girl struggles from acne!" But now I realize SO many people have the same struggles as me, so why not talk about it?!

At different life stages acne can be caused by different reasons. I talk a lot about adult and hormone-related acne but I haven’t touched on teen acne, which unfortunately many school-aged children have to suffer with. During your teen years your body starts to change, your hormones start raging and you begin to enter “adulthood”. (Lame! Can’t we stay kids forever?)

Similar to adult-acne and hormone-related acne, as teens when your hormone levels become elevated they cause excess sebum (oil) production which can clog pores, eventually becoming infected causing a pimple / pimples to form. Pimples can come in the form of white heads, black heads or cysts. It’s a myth that if you scrub your face with harsh cleansers or wash clothes that you’ll clear your skin. What you’re actually doing is drying your skin out more, which tells your skin to produce more oil (because natural oil is the skins way of creating a protective barrier) so your skin starts to create even MORE oil, and as a result you have full blown ACNE. How annoying?!

Suffering with acne is so frustrating, and I so wish I was one of those people who woke up and didn’t have to put on makeup before I left the house. One day I'll get there. As a teen, I definitely made the mistake in listening to everyone's skincare suggestions. Product after product was recommended to me, when in reality I should have just been patient, ate well, moisturized often and drank LOTS of water to detox the excess hormones. Eventually it would have gone away. Instead, I used harsh cleansers with TONS of chemicals, which dried and irritated my skin. Terrible! The top layer of my skin was definitely damaged.

Over the past year I have been working to STOP using harsh cleansers, and instead nourish my skin with hydrating and calming oils to help rebuild it's protective layer. I always want to help others who have the same struggles as me, so if you suffer with acne, STOP what you're doing and listen to some of my tips. They are tips I wish someone would have to me when I first started getting pimples. Here are a few tips and tricks to clearing acne GENTLY without compromising your skins natural, protective oil barrier. No brands mentioned, just genuine suggestions from someone who knows what you're going through.

Use a gentle washcloth
I do use a lot of face masks (I am careful to choose which ones as many can be overdrying! Ask me if you want some suggestions on gentle ones. They can be great to detox your pores.) and I find some of them wash off most effectively with a towel. The problem is that towels are not made of the most gentle fibres, so to avoid irritating your skin use a warm muslin face cloth to remove your face wash or mask. Muslin is gentle enough that it won't irritate your skin. The bonus? They are quite cheap to buy! I always ensure I buy organic muslin to avoid any bleach that they sometimes use to make fabric white.

Embrace an evening face oil
I used to think that adding oil to my face would make it even more oily, but face oils are not just for dry skin. All skin types can benefit from face oils, you just need to find the right oil type for your skin. For dry skin, oils like Argan and Almond are good for obtaining deep moisture, and for oily or combination skin, use oils such as Jojoba and Rosehip. These are lighter oils that won’t clog pores and will encourage your skin to stop overproducing acne-causing sebum. Many natural skincare companies make oil blends specifically targeted for your skin type. Need some suggestions? This is my forte, just ask!

Tea Tree Oil
Used in moderation, Tea Tree Oil (or Maleleuca) can help kill bacteria. It is however extremely drying so make sure you mix it with a carrier oil or dip a cotton swab in it and gently dab the affected spot. I find Tea Tree toners to be too drying, even for my excessively oily skin, so avoid products containing Tea Tree and use it strictly as a spot treatment! Note: Buy good quality essential oils to ensure they are pure and organic. Cheap essential oils are often diluted and may cause more harm than good.

Use a gentle cleanser
I will never encourage a cleanser with benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid, even though doctor's often recommend these products to teens suffering with acne. The only time MAYBE salicylic acid is okay, is in a spot treatment. Otherwise these products can over-dry and irritate skin causing more than just acne - think Rosacea. Yikes! Instead, cleanse your skin with oil. I know... I am back to the oil cleansing method. It's so effective and really affordable. In fact, lately I have been cleansing with pure coconut oil with a few drops of lavender oil. Why? Because oil binds with oil and balances the skin's natural oils. If you don't believe me, try it. I was skeptical at first too but am so glad I stopped using the harsh cleansers. A bonus? It also removes my eye make up so that's one less product I have to buy :) Note: Lavender oil is calming and reduces inflammation and redness.

At the end of the day, remember that no one else notices your acne and that you are your own worst critic. The more you fuss and pick and touch your skin, the worse it will get. So remember to eat a clean diet, drinks LOTS of water, don’t pick, and be patient. Your skin will clear up and you’ll laugh about the days when you thought your acne defined you. And remember to message me if you’d like product suggestions! I may have tried a few good ones ;)

09 August 2018

Safer Beauty for Men

When I started this journey with Beautycounter I hadn't considered that men would be a part of my clientele, and then I started getting A LOT of questions about safer skincare products for men, by men. I thought maybe some women would want to purchase products for their husbands / boyfriends / kids, but I had forgotten completely about half of my possible clientele. Which is surprising given my brother's attentive personal hygiene routine. So this post goes out to my Bro, who is particularly fond of an "okay" brand I refuse to mention (haha!) and who I really want to convert to Beautycounter - muahaha!

First up, a Cleanser. One of my best sellers for men is our Charcoal Bar. It is particularly great at targeting acne and clearly up clogged pores. I also think it's a great addition to a gym bag, because those after-gym showers are really important. Ensure you're rinsing any post-workout sweat and dirt from your body to prevent your pores from becoming clogged. Nobody wants to deal with b-acne.
If there is one thing I know about men, it's that they HATE the feeling of a heavy, greasy cream - whether it be for hands, body or face. I always suggest the Nourishing Day Cream as the perfect moisturizer suitable for men, day and night. Because y'all are much simpler beings than women, I know you don't want two different creams, and I also know you don't want anything too heavy. So this cream is PERFECT for you!

I know a few guys who really like cooling eye creams. I owe this to Gerard Butler for the old L'Oreal Men's anti-fatigue eye roller commercials - if Steph is reading he knows exactly what I am talking about. I would suggest the Nourishing Eye Cream for men because it has a really nice cool feeling to it, and helps to moisturize and wake up tired eyes.
Mists aren't just for women. Toners reset the skin's pH after cleansing and are crucial for absolutely EVERYONE. They are also a great addition to your gym bag for a post-workout refresher. The Balancing Facial Mist seems to be the best seller for my male clients, likely because of the black (and very manly!) bottle. But, I like to think it's because it's just THE BEST at balancing out combination or oily skin (psst! I use it too!).
I almost always try to get Tyler to do face masks with me. To this day he has only ever allowed me to use one mask on him and it was an aloe sheet mask after a bad sunburn on vacation. Needless to say he hasn't tried the Charcoal Face Mask but if he did he would be obsessed. It has a minty, tingling feeling which is so refreshing, and it works quickly to draw out dirt from your pores. You can actually SEE it sucking out the grime from your pores, which I think is the reason why men like it - guys like gross stuff, right?
Sun protection seems to be a lost cause on most men. I, however, consider it one of the most important parts of a skincare regime. In order to prevent premature aging, sun spots and GASP! skin cancer, it's important to wear at least SPF30 every day ... even on cloudy days! I have thrown a travel-sized bottle of the Beautycounter Countersun Lotion into Tyler's golf bag in hopes that he actually uses it when he is outside for long periods of time!
Switching from Blistex to the Beautycounter Lip Conditioner was the BEST, most expensive decision I have ever made. After I learned about the chemicals in drugstore brands of lip products, and considering how much of it get ingested (I mean, it's hard to avoid when they are literally ON your lips) I had to make the switch, and then I had to convince every person I knew to also make the switch. I think the fact that it comes in Peppermint helps the men get over the pretty packaging... plus the fact that it makes their lips feel buttery soft.

So there you have it! We DO have some amazing SAFE products for men. All of the Beautycounter skincare products are 100% unisex, and of course do NOT contain any of the harsh chemicals listed in our Never List. In fact, Beautycounter has banned 1,500 ingredients from their products to ensure only the safest, most effective ingredients grace your skin.

Today I highlighted some of the bestselling items my male clients LOVE! If you have any questions, or need suggestions, reach out via Instagram or using the Contact Me form to the right of this post :)

xo, Sera

02 August 2018

The Soothing Properties of Lavender

I’ve told you before about how you can rescue your mascara with Lavender, but today I have more Lavender uses for you.

We spent the weekend camping in Prince Edward County, and on Friday morning we went to tour some of the wineries and breweries in Wellington. I had heard it was also Lavender season so I asked Tyler if we could stop in at Prince Edward County Lavender. Of course he said yes! He is such a good sport about visiting local hot spots with me! He even took a few photos! (Forgive the photos, it was very HOT and I was very disheveled. I also discovered that raw lavender rubbing against my leg causes severe hives!!!)

Lavender has so many amazing properties... it is calming, anti-inflammatory and a disinfectant. It also smells AMAZING. All of these properties make it a SUPER flower, and basically mean you can use it for just about anything. It’s one of my favourite scents and the most-used essential oil (besides Tea Tree/ Maleleuca) in my kit.

I’ve shared before that I extend the life of my mascara tubes with a few drops of lavender essential oil. It disinfects and thins out old, dried mascara and gives you a few extra weeks of wear.Which is SO nice when it costs $40 per tube of Beautycounter mascara! You can read that post here

Here are a few of my other favourites uses for lavender and lavender essential oil. Keep reading for a list of my favourite essential oil brands. It’s really important to buy high quality essential oils!

1. Diffuse it to help you sleep.
Lavender is calming and can put your mind at ease. I use it in my yoga classes to help release tension and let my clients fall into a deeper, more focused practice. At home we have a diffuser in our bedroom and one in my yoga room. Almost every evening I diffuse lavender oil to help slow my mind and prepare it for a restful sleep.

2. Add it to your shampoo.
Did you know Lavender can help fight dandruff? It’s an anti-inflammatory, disinfectant and anti-fungal. All 3 properties battle dandruff. So if you don’t want to buy Head and Shoulders, which you shouldn't because it is ick, just add a few drops of Lavender to your favourite shampoo and say goodbye to dandruff (and other scaly, dry patches on your scalp!) in just a few washes. I burnt my scalp a few weeks ago after too many hours in the sun without a hat - ouch! - and I added lavender oil to my shampoo and in a few days the burn was gone and it didn't even peel.

3. It’s great for BO.
Lavender-scented natural deodorants happen to be the only deodorants that work for me. I feel like I am a heavy sweater, and that can cause for some pretty stinky situations especially in this Toronto heat wave — which is actually more steady heat than a wave, per say. So I have been using Native’s Lavender Rose deodorant to help keep me from smelling like I spent the afternoon in a garbage bin.

4. It calms your skin.
One of my favourite toners is a calming toner containing lavender. It is also made in Canada. Surprise surprise, it's from my favourite brand Rocky Mountain Soap Co. I have become such a big follower of this brand and nearly all of my products at the moment are Beautycounter or RMSCo. Their Calming Toner with lavender and arnica is great for sensitive and acne-prone skin. It reduced redness and swelling while restoring skin to its natural pH. It also smells amazing. I use it morning and night - and sometimes midday :)

5. You can cook with it!
One of my favourite recipes is this Blueberry Lavender Jam. But I have had so many amazing cocktails and sweets that contain lavender. Using lavender buds (which you can grow yourself or purchase at a local farm) or food-grade lavender essential oil, you can enjoy the essence of lavender even in your food!

I mentioned earlier how important it is to buy a good quality essential oil. And just because it is labelled "organic" doesn't mean it's of the best quality. Lavender essential oil is often labeled as "lavender oil" when it is not in its purest state. Ensure the bottle clearly states "essential oil" and use price as an indicator. If it is priced low, it is likely to be a poor quality oil.What part of the plant/flower the oil is distilled from and how it is distilled is important and there are THOUSANDS of varieties of lavender (which we learned at PEC Lavender this weekend!) so shopping for an essential oil can get difficult. To make it easier, a few of my favourite brands are Aura Cacia, Divine Essence and DoTerra.
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