Self-Care Mood: Olivia Care French Rose Oil

The older I get, the more I want to smell like a retiree lounging on a deck drinking coffee. The kind of ladies who read romance novels, watch Wheel of Fortune and make pork chops for lunch. Basically, I’m slowly transforming myself into my grandmothers and their ilk. That was the most glamorous lifestyle to me as a young girl, one full of good stories and even better smells. They all seemed to float through a hazy mixture of roses, baby powder, and cigarettes, which to my young nose meant culture.

These days I’m avidly against cigarettes and not a huge fan of traipsing around in a cloud of baby powder like I did when I was a kid, but their love of roses has made a permanent mark on my life. I vividly remember sampling perfumes in my grandmother’s room, moving from beautiful bottle to bottle dousing my skin in the fragrant waters. I so loved the rose-scented options that now the only perfumes I like carry similar floral notes. I’ve written before about the power of scent and I believe aromatherapy is one of the best forms of self-care.

valentines day perfume GIF by MSLK Design
Giphy

Enter today’s product: French Rose body oil from Olivia Care.

Olivia Care

I bought this for myself last Christmas when I should have been looking solely for gifts to my family (oops). After sneaking a peak at the little roses and stealing a sniff I knew I had to add it to my self-care arsenal. I do my best to avoid buying things to make myself feel better, instead opting for activities that feel healing, but a product here or there feels right to me, too. This is especially true for this oil. I add it to a bath after a long day to relax, apply it over my shea butter on my body for a perfumed effect, and have recently taken to rubbing just a tiny dollop of it onto my locs for a little perfume. The scent isn’t so heavy that it’s overpowering, yet it sticks to my skin and hair without fading immediately.

The best part about this oil is that it has lasted me almost a year. Just a few drops here or there have made a world of difference in my ability to disconnect from stress and breathe. I highly recommend it or any scented oil if you are looking for new ways to give your mind a rest without breaking your bank account.

What have you been using to relax these days? Let me know in the comments!

ZIIP Beauty Nano Device: Is It For You?

by Jesse Kadjo

I am a certified skincare junkie. I have suffered from chronic acne since I was 13, which immediately sends you on a quest for relief. After trying every acne and skincare product Walgreens had to offer, I graduated to the good stuff. I tried Biologique Recherche’s famed P50 Lotion after reading about it on Into the Gloss. It improved my skin texture by reducing the number of pimples I got. But I still had skin that was extremely oily in the day and dry in the night. I started experimenting with Korean Skincare after going down a YouTube hole of videos from K-Beauty maven, Gothamista. The combination of both a K-Beauty cleanser, essence and serums, along with the P50 has really regulated my skin on a more long-term basis. I still get hormonal acne but much less than before and less acne during the rest of the month.

Image result for P50 racked.com
via Racked

Now at 30, going on 31, my major skin concerns are hyperpigmentation. As with many dark skin women, I have acne scars that take a long time to fade away. I’ve tried creams with hydroquinone to good results, but you can only use it for 3 months in a row before it starts to darken your skin. So that was a bust. I’ve used Vitamin C and still do for all it’s antioxidant properties. It has worked to give my skin better overall clarity but does not fade the scars at a rate that I would like. In comes the ZIIP.

The ZIIP is a nano current device designed by celebrity electrical aesthetician Melanie Simon, that sends waves of electrical currents into your skin to address different skin needs. The device is a small and handheld, looks like a computer mouse and has two positive and negative charged discs on the bottom. It syncs up to an app which offers seven different “electrical cocktail” treatments. It comes with a gel that you put all over your face and allows the currents to be delivered to your skin. My favorite programs are Total Clearing for acne, Pigment Treatment for hyperpigmentation and Instant Gratification for exactly what it says, instantly plumped and brightened skin.

ZIIP
via ZIIP Beauty

At $499, the ZIIP is not cheap. But does it work?

I should start by saying I think it takes 60 to 90 days to see lasting results from any product. That being said, first impressions can be powerful and if you see something at the start, it will likely get better with time. The first night I tried this, I slathered the gel on my face, opened the app and synced the device to the Total Clearing Program. Each program comes with a step-by-step video that is easy to follow along. Initially I felt nothing, but then felt a sting. Melanie Simon says the sting is the electricity killing the bacteria. When there is no bacteria left, you feel nothing. The sting feels satisfying, in the way that extracting a pimple does. I went IN and did a Pigment program and the Instant Gratification. When I was done, my skin was super soft – baby soft – softer than it had been in a while. It was glorious.

After only 7 days, I can say this: I still have the same hyperpigmentation and I just got 2 huge pimples ( period is on it’s way). This was to be expected as it takes 30 days for my skin to turn over and longer for the spots to fade. However, in terms of instant gratification, the texture of my skin has improved, it looks brighter and my makeup goes on smoother and looks better longer.

So do I recommend it? Yes, but with an asterisk. Taking time out of your day to care for yourself is important. If you can do so with a state of the art device that gives you professional results over time, even better. If this is not within your budget, get yourself on a good skincare regimen in line with what you can afford. Skincare is not about getting every new product or treatment.  It’s about using the right products for your skin type with diligent and consistent use. No one serum or device can give you great skin. It takes a good diet, good skincare and above all, sleep to truly get that glow.

 

Jesse Kadjo is an activist and writer living in Oakland. You can follow her healthy life journey on her food blog thechocolatemousse.com or Instagram and Twitter @JesseKadjo

A Breakdown of My Daily Self-Care for 2018

Let me tell you a secret: you deserve to take care of yourself every day. That’s right. Every. Single. Day.

In this post, I’m going to breakdown a typical day in my life and all the ways I practice self-care in each little step. Everything I do for self-care is designed to boost my confidence, because sexual assault not only destroys your sense of self, but creates the belief that you have no value. I’m seeking to undo that conditioning in the way I treat myself Monday thru Sunday. Rather than doing nice things for myself once every blue moon I’m actively creating moments of peace and growth as often as possible on an average day. We’ve talked about what self-care is, how to develop a schedule for it, and now I want to share how I infuse every day with actions meant to heal and steady me for every little battle life throws my way. Let’s dive in!

 

Monday – Friday

6:45 AM : After mumbling some version of get up, bitch to myself 30 times, I roll out of bed to start the day. I retreat to my favorite room in the house – the bathroom – to get everything going. I’ve been working on not looking at my phone straight away, because my days seem to be more productive and happier without being bombarded with news from the outside world. My mind feels more centered on what I have to get done without all the distractions. After cleaning up for the day, I’ll sit on my bed and go over what I need to accomplish to feel good about myself and continue the feeling of personal growth.

Breakfast: I make sure that I have three meals a day no matter how busy I pretend I am, or how much I don’t want to eat. Continuing to have control over my eating disorder means eating well and without guilt. I’ve never been a huge fan of a big breakfast – it make me feel sluggish – so now the meal is either a fruit  smoothie, granola, or cereal. Once I’m done eating, I’ll head off to start writing!

8:00 – 11:00 AM: This might sound lame, but I love working. Thanks to my wonderfully supportive husband, I currently exist in a very privileged position as a full-time blogger. I want to make the most of this gift by writing and working as often as I can without getting burned out. Writing has become not only a potentially future means of income, but also one of the best ways I take care of myself. The page is where I work through pain, elevate joy, or share intriguing information, which has been invaluable for my growth. I jump right into working in the morning, because my energy wanes as the day drags on.

11:30 – 12:00 : My little gym** is like an oasis. Only retirees use it, the front desk staff is very kind and relaxed, and I can move around without bumping into people who might judge my slower pace. I used to look at the gym as the enemy. It was the place I ached, groaned, and scrutinized a body I wasn’t proud of. Through therapy I was able to learn how to step back and look at myself as a unique and beautiful accumulation of parts and pieces taken from the brave people who came before me. Now, I go to the gym for the endorphins. I release the tension of sitting at a desk, run out the stress of digging into my feelings, then head home for the fun parts of the day.

** This is the only step I skip on Wednesday to avoid getting burned out or injured.

Body Care: My shower time would make conservationists scream. I could sit in there for an hour if it wasn’t so frowned upon, relishing the dragon-blooded heat and acoustics. Most of my skin care takes place in the shower to avoid a major mess. I exfoliate and scrub until I feel like I’ve got a good base to work with, then apply a mask and let it sit as I dry off and moisturize the rest of my body. My skin care game has jumped to new heights thanks to my girl Jesse. I love the skin care steps, because I feel the most luxurious as I sashay around in a robe with a mask on. Also, with clear skin I feel the most confident out in the world.

Lunch: This might be due to conditioning in my school years, but I go bananas for lunch. Maybe it’s because in school lunch signified the halfway point in the day? If I crack the code I’ll let you know! All I know for certain is lunch food always tastes just a little better to me than anything else. My lunch is usually big and loud, with lots of the things I like to eat. I’m really proud of the way I eat now – this is the first time in my life I’ve been able to have a meal without feeling like absolute trash after.

meditation GIF

2:00 PM or so: I settle in for some mental rest. My thoughts usually bounce all over the place from waking up until this point, going over writing schedules, dinner prep, article ideas, etc. So, by the time I sit down on the couch I’m ready for a good book or some quiet mindfulness. I’ve created a few playlists on Youtube and in my music library that are designed to help me decompress without numbing. For me, the difference between the two is the feeling of being present in time. When I’m numbing myself I lose all track of time, where I am, what I need to do. When I decompress I am not retreating from reality, but allowing reality to slow down for me to catch back up on my own time. (I hope this makes sense!)

4:00 – 7:00 PM : My husband is usually home by 4:30 or 5, which jumps my energy back up. We make dinner together, with him doing the most as the better cook. I’ll either be taking photos for thechocolatemousse.com or Instagram to share with whoever wants to see his creations. We sit and eat together – ideally without phones – and like to watch a TV show together for a little laughter, or will just sit and talk over our meal. If the weather is nice enough we sit outside on the porch swing to eat popsicles or go for a walk around our neighborhood.

Bedtime: If you could get paid to sleep or lay in bed I would be first in line. I love bed, which is why it’s so hard for me to stay out of it throughout the day. I admit to being bad about bringing my phone to bed and obsessing over Twitter and Instagram! I’m still a work in progress, but for now, I will usually scroll until I’m really sleepy. Then, I’ll plug my phone in across the room before clonking out. In bed, my husband and I will lay together and talk over the day again, trying to arrive at peace for a more restful sleep. It’s been wonderful for my ability to get through the night without tossing and turning.

Saturday and Sunday

My routine for the weekend is identical, except I do it all outside! I walk for exercise, write on the porch or near an open window, meditate in the grass, and spend as much time annoying my husband as possible without creating a divorce situation. We usually try to do things together like the Farmer’s Market, or a trip to the museums in our area. My routine is much more reliant on need during the weekend. If I need a break from blogging, I take it. Need a break from exercise, no guilt. Everything is much more free-flowing.

treat yourself parks and recreation GIF

There you have it! My typical day isn’t as rigid as a person with a regular 9-5 job would be, so take my life as what it is – my unique situation. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t find a way to infuse some care into your daily schedule. Whether it’s leaving your desk for a 10 minute walk, treating yourself with food you love for lunch to recharge yourself, or setting aside time at night for skincare or mindfulness, you deserve to be boosted up every day. Thanks for reading and stay strong out there!

Noto Botanics: The Gender-Fluid Cure To My Self-Care Slump

Anyone out there as addicted to Pinterest as I am? I could scroll through the outfits, inspirational quotes, and art for days – which I’ve done on more than one night when I should have been planning posts! I regularly find myself tumbling down rabbit holes of information, discovering people or concepts that the omniscient Universe just knew would keep me distracted for hours. I floated through my “Hair” board on the site, looking for a little encouragement to keep on with my growing my locs, when I stumbled onto the face of Gloria Noto. It was an old article on Refinery29 about cool hairstyles in LA and her face popped out to me immediately. So, being the internet sleuth that I am, I consulted my partner in crime (Google), to find out more about the captivating character. As always, what I “discovered” was exactly what I needed.

Image result for gloria noto
Image via notobotanics.com

 

Gloria Noto is a makeup artist and business woman who founded Noto Botanics to cater to people with a desire for products that are glam without being harmful. The products are multi-use, i.e. oils you can use on hair, face, and body and good for customers across the board. I’m aesthetically drawn to the clean, crisp packaging, but more so enraptured with the glorious mix of oils and herbs designed to take you to the spa with every use. I’ve always struggled with dry skin, so a big part of my beauty routine is the application of oils, butters, and hydrating serums in order to ease my ashy woes. I’ve found myself in a bit of a slump lately, as my routine seems to have plateaued leaving my skin wanting something different. After being on the hunt for something I can use on my face and hair, Noto is a godsend.

Deep Serum
Deep Serum Image via notobotanics.com

 

I’m looking forward to giving Noto Botanics a try, because stagnation in routines – particularly the self-care variety – seems to lead to abandonment, which I have no desire to do. Even better? Gloria shared with V Magazine that Noto Botanics raised 15k for organizations such as Planned Parenthood and LGBTQ Center of LA. I’m all for a company that is concerned with the exterior and interior betterment of the community.

I’ll keep you updated on the magic as I move forward! What products are you looking forward to trying? What do you do for your beauty routine? Hit me in the comments with your suggestions!

The Balancing Act of Emotional Fortification

Saturday May 5th Donald Glover hosted and performed on Saturday Night Live, which turned out to be a bigger event than I believe anyone was really prepared for. The show was funny – especially that Kanye skit – his musical performances were brilliant, and I was left wondering what in the world Donald Glover can’t do. However, the music video he dropped for “This is America” at the same time he was performing on the show shook me to my core. Check out the video below if you haven’t yet seen it, then we’ll go in.

Note: there are images of violence that may be triggering. Please skip to my commentary if you’re not ready for that right now. 

 

Wow, right? He didn’t come to just entertain us with your run-of-the-mill club banger. He chose to say something to us. Now, I’m not going to break down every single frame with commentary, because that’s been done much better than I can. However, what I will do is challenge you to look at this piece of artwork and apply to your own life with me.

What stands out the most – I believe purposefully – is Childish Gambino (Donald Glover) dancing with the school children as the world around them descends into chaos. They do the most popular dances on the scene right now, smiling and hamming it up for the camera like many of our faves do on Instagram or Snapchat. My first instinct was to think “oh he’s trying to say we naturally look for diversions, because life is so short and we need a little joy”, which on many levels is true, but that’s not where my mind settled. After watching again, and picking up more of the nuance, I realized it goes beyond a simple emotional interlude from the destruction of the world around us. It’s more than resigning to be happy despite your inability to control how things shake out. Instead, I felt challenged to hold myself accountable for the ways I actively choose to ignore bad things to protect myself.

I’ve often heard people talk about self-care as an act of avoidance. You avoid the hard topics with loved ones. You keep your head down on the way to the gym or yoga class. We turn the channel when the news comes on, or mute political commentary on our Twitter accounts. I personally stopped watching anything that didn’t contain some type of sparkle, because I literally cannot with the bad feels. Spoiler alert: I haven’t been made any happier by my conscious avoidance.  Yes, it is important to maintain your emotional health, and sometimes that entails holding off on the bad until you’re emotionally ready to confront it, but what if you never allow yourself to be ready for that confrontation? Think of it like this: an osterich with its head in the dirt might not see the lion coming, but that’s not going to save it from being eaten. That analogy is a little dark for a Monday, but stay with me!

We can’t hide ourselves from the world for the sake of ourselves. Sometimes this life makes me want to build a castle around my mind, with a mote full of sharks that have lasers attached to their heads. Studying history taught me that castles are great for keeping things out, yet they keep things in just as well. Just as I’m free from ugly things, I’m also short-changing the good things I might be able to release into the world once I’ve been able to experience life fully. Growth is the only way we can push our minds toward discovery, and it just so happens that sometimes growth involves confronting the darkness. You don’t have to leave your castle walls unprotected, but consider dropping the drawbridge every now and then.

I support you taking care of yourself and your emotional health, but I hope you show yourself some love by confronting things that have weighed heavily on your mind. Hiding from the pain only prolongs it; you deserve to be happy and that happiness might exist on the other side of a difficult situation. So, I encourage you to engage with the good and the uncomfortable today so that you can continue to grow. Then, after you shake off the dust, pop on a sheet mask.

You got this.