softhands
Vegan and Cruelty Free Beauty, vegan lifestyle

3 Steps to Softer Hands: My Experience with Renaud’s Syndrome

I know I’ve talked about this before, but I want to talk about it again! I suffer from terribly, terribly dry hands as a result of Renaud’s Syndrome–my blood circulation is really poor, and the effect of that is most noticeable in the winter time. Being a Cali girl at heart, anything below 60 to me is freezing and my body thinks so too, which is why when winter comes around, it’s like my fingers get frost bites. No joke, I’ve had to wear band-aids just because it gets so cold in my office on a daily basis (winter or not). After years of suffering, I decided to do more than just put a band-aid on the situation (get it?). I sought hand lotion after hand lotion and product and service after another, and this is what works for me! (It may not work for you, but the whole process is kind of like a spa day so make it your own! (Please always consult your physician before starting any new regimen).

Step 1: Get a Regular Manicure

…and not a gel manicure, or acrylics. Just get a regular old fashioned manicure and ask them to pay special attention to your cuticles. Once you get a manicure and your hands feel fresh, free of all hangnails and relaxed after a short hand massage, it’s time to keep up appearances. What I mean is, you need to put lotion on your hands every night and treat your cuticles with some love.

Step 2: Lotion Up! 

I’ve tried nearly every lotion under the sun, and these two have been my holy grails the past couple of months. The Asili Naturals Lavender Shea Body Butter is perfect before bed because of it’s calming lavender scent, and how it sinks into the skin (no messy bedsheets here!). After I wake up and get ready for the day, I then slather on some Green Goo 100% All Natural Hand Goo a few minutes before I head out (so it has time to sink in). My hands definitely drink it in. I bought my Hand Goo from Sierra Trading Post for $10, but you can also find it on Amazon or directly from GreenGooHelps.com. Both products are cruelty-free!

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Green Goo Hand GooANLavender

Step 3: Care for those Cuticles

When I have time to just sit and read or relax, I put on some oil (for the most part, any oil meant for skin will do) and massage the oil into my cuticles for just a few seconds per finger. With Renaud’s my fingertips get really sensitive and makes it hard to do things, like even write sometimes without cringing. Massaging with my rosehip oil really helps my circulation and keeps my hands soft!

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Here are some before and after pictures that prove my method works! You can see that my hands before were peeling, splotchy and red, sometimes also purple due to poor circulation.

Before:

After (posing like a t-rex): 

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Question of the Day

If you have dry hands or skin, or suffer from Renaud’s Syndrome, what works for you?

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Vegan and Cruelty Free Beauty, vegan lifestyle

February Favorites: Makeup & Skincare

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February had the shortest amount of days, felt like it would never end, and yet when March 1st came around I was like, “Where did February go?” Clearly, 2018 is off to a weird start. Thankfully, I can’t say the same about all the products I’ve been trying so far. Aside from the Tarte Shape Tape Foundation, I’ve found so many holy grails and we’re only 2.5 months into the year #winning. Memo to self: remember unforgettable foods for March Favorites (stay tuned–check back in March too!)

Skincare & Makeup Favorites

1. Kat Von D Lock-It Foundation

Nothing helps you realize what’s best in your life until you try it’s terrible, terrible counterpart (of sorts). I tried new foundations and kept going back to the Kat Von D Lock-It Foundation. I’m convinced now that it really is that good. Go to Sephora stat and get a sample to try, and tell them you want a week’s worth because you’re worth it but really because you know your paycheck could go to Sephora in one fell swoop. According to the Kat Von D website, the foundation is part of their #veganalert product line, and I believe their entire brand is cruelty-free.

I bought mine from Sephora.

MFB2. Acure CGF Oil-Free Serum

You can’t tell in the picture above but that bottle of serum is empty to the last drop. I literally pulled it out of the trash for you guys (you’re welcome). I alternate the use of this serum with my rosehip oil every night. The reason I love this serum so much is that I can truly tell the difference in my skin the next morning when I didn’t use it. While I would 100% buy this again, I’m too much of a “need for change” type of girl, and want to try a new serum. Any recommendations?

According to ethicalelephant, Acure is a cruelty-free brand, but not all of their products are vegan (the CGF oil-free serum happens to be): Acure Organics is certified cruelty-free by Leaping Bunny and PETA Beauty Without Bunny Program. This ensures Acure Organics products and ingredients are not tested on animalsduring any stage of product development and manufacturing. Acure Organics also does not sell in foreign markets that require animal testing by law.

I bought mine at Fresh Thyme but you can buy it on the Vitamin Shoppe as well, and select Target locations.

3. Fresh Sugar Lip Caramel Hydrating Balm

The best part of waaaaking up, is Fresh Sugar Balm on your lips (don’t lie, you said that like you were singing the Folgers jingle.) While I won’t buy this again because I am uncertain if Fresh is vegan and cruelty-free, I did enjoy nourishing my lips with the smell of dulce de leche every morning. My husband didn’t mind it either 😉

According to the Fresh website, the entire brand is cruelty-free (woop woop): As a result, all Fresh products undergo very strict tolerance tests using non-animal methods during the development of each product to ensure quality and safety prior to market. 

However, ethicalelephant found otherwise, so I’ll leave it to you to make that decision.

I bought mine last year at Sephora.

Bath & Body Favorites

4. Asili Naturals Bath Bomb

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After a looooooong day, what’s better than some cuddles, Netflix, wine and maybe a bath? I love how these Asili Naturals bath bombs smell (so subtle and not overly fragrant) and best of all, I can definitely feel softer skin. I made hand soap out of the lavender bath bomb one and lurv it.

You can order them on the Asili Naturals site and in select stores throughout Wisconsin.

Random Favorite

5. Dr. Jaikaran’s Herbodent Toothpaste 

I wasn’t sure which category this should go under so it got it’s own. While I’m not 100% if this is vegan, I know with certainty that it is 100% vegetarian (and most aren’t!), according to their site. My uncle-in-law (??) gave this to me, and I used it a couple of times (and I will probably leave it for guests to use because I am uncertain if it’s VCF), but if you are transitioning to a vegan lifestyle, and can’t find a vegan toothpaste you like, the Herbodent toothpaste might be the perfect stepping stone. You can buy it on Amazon.

MFD

Questions of the Day

What is your favorite VCF serum? What would you recommend? What were your February favorites?

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Vegan and Cruelty Free Beauty, vegan lifestyle

5 Steps for Clear & Acne Free Skin Fast

The flu or something like it hit me hard, ya’ll. I’m still only 98% with the remnants of a cough and lingering sniffles and headaches. Now that I got my boo hoos out of the way, it’s time to talk about how to get clear skin and finally enjoy an acne-free complexion. Personally, I struggled (very minimally) with acne as a teenager, but not so much since. Since Valentine’s Day, Galentine’s Day or forget that it’s V-day at all day is a little over a month away, it’s time to show your face some love so you can enjoy a date night at home or out on the town with full confidence. Whether you’re celebrating with Cupid or not, these tips will ensure you get smooth skin fast and keep it that way!

Step 1: Wash Your Face with Natural Cleansers

Simple Skincare is free of all the nasty chemicals you would find in most commercial face washes. They pride themselves on creating, “products [that] have no dyes, artificial perfumes or harsh irritants that can upset skin and contain skin-loving ingredients and added vitamins for natural, healthy-looking skin.” (NOT sponsored!). It’s important to use such chemical-free cleansers so as not to strip the face on your skin of the beneficial things it already does, like turnover skin cells and produce important oils that help prevent wrinkles (hello, natural botox!).

VCF Cleansers

After washing your face, it’s important to exfoliate your face with–and this is important–a GENTLE exfoliator 2-3 times a week when you’re trying to get rid of a pesky pimple, and just once a week to maintain acne-free skin. I’ve been using the Microdelivery Exfoliating Face Wash from Philosophy since my skin had a major breakout from stress in May. I’ve tried a lot of exfoliators and I like this because:

  1. The “beads” are super gentle. If you’ve used the popular St. Ives Apricot Scrub, you know that those are pretty harsh (and hard). While it may feel like it’s more effective, it’s actually causing micro-tears in your skin which can cause premature wrinkles as your skin tries to repair itself.
  2. It includes Vitamin C, which is important for that glowy skin (here we come, JLo).

Step 2: Maintenance Cleanser

Once your skin is clear of acne, it’s important to keep up with a safe cleaner. The cleanest face soap on the market I’ve found (seriously, you should’ve guessed this by now) is from Asili Naturals. The Shea Face Soap is full of nutrient-rich softening oils to help you maintain baby-butt soft skin. The below is the Rose Hip soap I use to help my the skin on my whole body nice and soft.

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Step 3: Moisturize According to Your Skin

If you have oily skin and acne, opt for oil-free serums and lotions. Once your face has cleared up, maintain your skin with the ultimate skincare secret weapon: Rose Hip Oil.

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Step 4: Medicate

This is where the chemicals come in, and the only time it’ll be ok to use them because it will clear your skin fast. Guaranteed. The first thing to do is recognize the type of acne. If your acne is just skin colored or slightly red bumps, you’ll need to treat it definitely than those pesky painful pimples with the little white tops. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Pimples with the white tops: treat with salicylic acid, like the Clear days ahead lotion from Philosophy.
  2. Skin-colored or reddish pimples: treat with benzoyl peroxide.

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Step 5: Maintain Clear Skin

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Now that your skin is free and clear of acne, it’s time for upkeep! In addition to washing your face every day and after sweaty workout sessions (at most 3 times a day–more and you’ll strip your face of its natural goodness) and proper moisturization, use a clay mask once a week. This Spirulina clay mask will naturally pull out the impurities and prepare it for all the right moisturization.

Question of the Day

What is your secret to clear skin? Share!

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Vegan Food, vegan lifestyle

5 Tips on How to Become a Vegetarian or Vegan in 2018

There are two theories on setting resolutions for the New Year: 1. Yaaass honey fresh start clean slate I’m gonna slay this year, or 2. Ahem, you shouldn’t have to wait 365 days to start a new resolution. I hear you both. But there is something especially special (redundant?) about January 1st this year…it lands on a Monday. What’s more resolutiony than that? Whether you decided to stop eating meat (yay you!) On November 25th or want to start fresh at the beginning of a new year, more power to you! It never matters when you start, it just matters that you start a change and most importantly, that you stick to it. Here are 5 steps to help you become a vegetarian or vegan so that you can make 2018 better not only for you, but for the plant and all the animals on it.

Step 1: Tell Everyone

There is absolutely zero shame in you wanting to a) better your health and b) better the planet. The latter is pretty much the foundation of every religion, right? And no one will bash you for what you believe in (go away trolls!). And if you do happen to deal with those negative naysayers who make fun of “vegan food” or act negative around you, just shroud it out with your good vibes cause that’s all you’re putting out and lettin’ in sistah. Some show on Blue’s Clue’s (hi, 80s baby here) told me that if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it. If you’ve tried to nicely explain your way of life or amazing decision to stop eating meat to someone and they just don’t get it…move on. You do you.

Step 2: Expect Bumps In the Road

Giving something up is never easy. If you’ve eaten meat your whole life, it’s hard to go cold turkey. Know that you may have a setback here or there but one setback isn’t the catalyst to failure. Just get back on the buggy.

Step 3: Educate Yourself

Piggybacking on step 2, the main reason most people fail at resolutions, regardless of what it is, is because they’re doing it for the wrong reasons. Someone may want to lose weight because they just want to be skinny and may get there the unhealthy way. Setting up a resolution should come from a desire for change. If you want to become vegetarian or vegan, but aren’t sure why or what to say when people ask you why, then it’s time to educate yourself! Once you feel compassionate about your cause, your resolution becomes less of a goal and more of an intrinsic belief. Check out numerous documentaries on Netflix and YouTube, get a vegan starter kit from PETA, and follow inspirational social media influencers to surround yourself with likeminded individuals.

Step 4: Plan for Success

You may be stuck on your daily ham and cheese sandwich for lunch or chicken and broccoli for dinner. As with every resolution, becoming vegetarian does need some work, but minimal at best. Googling vegetarian versions of your favorite recipes, new recipes all together, finding inspirational meal planners on social media or YouTube, these are all things that can help you plan for success.

The easiest way to start is to take a weekend and meal prep 2-3 vegetarian meals or vegan meals you can use for lunch and or dinner. It’s as easy as even preparing the ingredients you need to pull the meal together in minutes once you get home from work or after picking the kids up from school.

I have some What I Ate Wednesday videos on my YouTube channel with ideas to get you going!

Step 5: Enjoy the Journey

This resolution you set to not eat meat shouldn’t be a stressful one. Your body takes about a month to detox all the blood, spirit and chemicals from the meat products you’ve eaten over the years. Expect withdrawals, bad skin (a part of detox) which turns into amazing skin, stress and pressure. But all this in such a small period of time will lead to your best self.

Please always consult your physician before making any drastic physical or dietary changes.

Question of the Day

What is your resolution for the New Year?

I’m giving up processed sugar of any kind for the month of January. If all goes well, then another month after that and so forth.

Vegan and Cruelty Free Beauty

Vegan & Cruelty-Free Shampoo!

Lookout world–a head of shiny, gorgeous hair coming through! If you have dark hair that gets oily after like half a day (hello), then you know that you have to work your schedule and everything you do around when you wash your hair. Going on a hot date? Ok, need to plan to go to the gym before that so I can wash my hair and let it dry so I can look cute for dinner. The toss up is: How do I not wash it everyday?…because every news, book and Instagram post says it’s bad for us (it’s true). So with that said, I wash my hair every other day, and if I’m lucky, every two to three days. But the secret to maintaining a good lookin’ head of hair (aside from an awesome vegan diet), is what you wash it with!

I’ve tried the apple cider vinegar no-poo option, but all that really does is clean your scalp, and leave oily strands behind. It’s also hard to use that kind of no-poo method if you use styling products–and I use heat protectant, hair spray and mousse. Oil joins the party at times.

Back story done. Onto the main event. So what shampoo do I use to maintain some healthy, no split-end hairs? One I recently found, have been using for a while and am loving (it smells amazing and I secretly smell my hair like a creeper hourly).

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Hask brand products are new to me. TBH I picked it up at Target because I desperately needed shampoo and it was on sale (mind you, it’s still more expensive than Garnier, Herbal Essences and other popular brands for the amount you get). And to be real, I’m cheap so it’s actually not that bad at just $5.99 regular price. But once I got home and jumped in the shower, I immediately fell in love with the smell. This Orchid & White Truffle scent? UGH. STOP. SO GOOD.

Although I looked at it upwards and sideways before I bought it, I thought, this can’t possibly be VCF. So I looked into it. They’re definitely 100% cruelty-free! From their FAQs section:

“We definitely DO NOT test on animals! That’s terrible… I’m hurt that you even think we do – and my puppy Harley is offended too! We make sure our suppliers and vendors supply safety and regulatory information on our ingredients so we don’t run into any issues. We love our furry friends and would never do anything to harm them! (P.S. We’re glad you’re concerned about this too)”

Since some of their products contain honey, I can’t say that all of their products are vegan, but they seem pretty darn close.

As for the consistency, a little goes a long way I’ve found…which makes the extra bucks worth it in the end. I mean really, $5.99 ain’t bad.

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What are your favorite shampoos? I fell in love with one so quickly that I had to share!

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Vegan Food

What is Maca Powder & How to Use It

Always consult your doctor before considering new additions or supplements to your diet.

Maca powder. It sounds like the name of an ancient ruler and looks like dirt. So why is everyone going crazy over this finely milled powder? You don’t have to maca me tell you! #nerdlife #veganpuns

What is Maca? Maca is a plant that grows in central Peru in the high plateaus of the Andes Mountains. It is a relative of the radish and has been cultivated as a vegetable crop in this area for at least 3,000 years. – Webmd

Maca1Maca powder has a sweet-ish smell, reminiscent of butterscotch. You can easily use it in place of cocoa powder or chocolate. It makes a great addition to protein shakes for a mocha like flavor: Add a tablespoon to some almond milk with a banana and some chocolate protein powder (tsp. of coffee crystals optional), blend it up and MM-mm.

Ok, so it tastes good. I know what you’re thinking, But why do I want to put it in my body. My body is a temple, I mean come on.

Health Benefits of Maca Root Powder

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Rich in Vitamins and Minerals

According to Healthline, maca root is high in some essential vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin C, copper and iron. Because of these vitamins, it’s a great supplement when used in the right doses for people suffering from anemia.

Helps Balance Hormones

Rich in flavonoids, maca can help reduce anxiety and put you in a better mood. According to Wellnessmama.com, it is an endocrine adaptogen, meaning that it does not contain any hormones, but rather it contains the nutrients necessary to support normal hormone production. Because of it’s composition, it helps balance hormones and reverse hypothyroidism. Whoa.

Additional Benefits

Since it’s rich in vitamins and because it’s an endocrine adaptogen (throw that in someone’s face today), it’s a hearty root that may also help to*:

  • promote fertility
  • build muscle
  • increase stamina
  • relieve symptoms of menopause
  • boost energy
  • support prostate health
  • increase bone density
  • alleviate depression
  • boost libido
  • balance hormones

What to Look for When Buying Maca Powder

As always, quality matters. Sure you may pay more to get less, but that often means you need to use less, much like matcha powder [what my hubs thought I was talking about this whole time…maca, not matcha ;)]

1 – Date of Harvest

Not unlike other organic goods, you’re going to want to look for powder that’s been harvested within a few months of purchase. This plant can be grown as a perennial, so it really doesn’t have a “season.”

2 – Sealed for Freshness

Make sure it’s vacuum-sealed to preserve it’s quality.

3 – Color

Maca root comes in three different colors, kind of like potatoes. You have purple (black), white and red. The white/cream is the most popular, and so is the most affordable. No shade though, because it still have a high amount of benefits. According to gnowfglins.com:

  • Hormonally, the red (which is the sweetest tasting and has the highest phytonutrient levels) is recommended for women and the black for men.
  • Black is recommended for both men and women for these specific issues: muscle building and stamina.
  • Red is recommended for both men and women for these specific issues: energy, mental focus, depression, chronic fatigue, anxiety/stress, circulation, bone density, hair growth, and acne.

* Bullet list source

Question of the Day

What are your thoughts on maca powder? Have you tried it? Are you interested in trying it? What other natural supplements would you want to learn more about?

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