[Top Shelf] Summertime Skin Solutions

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After so many iterations around the sun on our beautiful planet, thirty – if you want to get technical, I’ve begun to tell the changes in the season by the way my body acts and reacts to the world around me.  Slight aches in my knees and ankles in the morning happen more frequently as Fall ebbs into Winter, while my nails feel like they chip more frequently as Spring flows though to Summer.  Not to mention, my skin gets put through the wringer at the shift of each season, and even more if I’m not careful.  The thing about skin, is it’s your biggest organ and you’ve only got the one, weather and seasons and the great outdoors are always going to be a factor, as is your diet, nicotine and alcohol consumption (I’m looking at you, college me).  Now that I’ve entered my thirties, I’ve been a lot kinder to my skin on purpose – making sure to treat my body like the temple that it is.

A swimmer since I was a little one, I would jump in the pool year round – playing around for hours on end without sunscreen and burn once every few years.  I always reached a nice golden brown while my hair faded from brunette to blonde with every dip into the chlorine and back into the sunshowers. Needless to say, I’ve been a bit lackadaisical with my skin care until pretty recently. Back when Winter was kicking itself into full gear, which is not so coincidentally when my birthday hits, I took one long look at the expression lines on my forehead that have etched a permanent place on my body since childhood and the awkwardly ashy cracks in my joints and made a mad dash for the skin care aisle.  Just think – if everything worked out well with hydrating your Winter skin during the blustery cold dry spells, then give back into the urge to treat yo’ face and body and lotion up because it’s going to be a hot Summer.  When the heat comes, like it literally just did this past weekend to Los Angeles, it takes, takes and takes from your body: zapping skin, pulling moisture out of your hair and leaving lips feeling chapped and sad.

Hydration is a Major Key

Back in winter it was about hydrating your face – which is still valid, but lets take this a step further because as my significant other always reminds me: hydration is the key to a long and successful weekend.  When you’re out and about, prancing at the beach, sunning by the pool or simply enjoying some sunshine infused shenanigans – the Sun is busy draining your body of energy and water, as your body fights to not overheat.  Ever had heatstroke, heat exhaustion or saw someone suffering from it?  It’s the exact opposite of a good time and incredibly hard on your internal organs, your cardiovascular system and – your skin.  It’s simply just as important to take care of your body from the heat on the inside as much as we do from the outside.

Water is your friend – but drinks with electrolytes like coconut water, smart water, juices and sports drinks like Gatorade and Powerade come jam packed with nutrients that replenish your body.  You’ve heard of preloading for festivals?  Well, you can preload for anything – including extreme heat. And sometimes, water alone isn’t enough.  Before you bounce out on your adventures this Summer, make sure you drink at least a liter before you step out the door and come prepared with 1L bottle of water or Gatorade for every two hours you plan on being outside.  You might think it’s overkill, but your body – and your friends that forgot their water – will thank you later.

 

Protect Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself

 

Now that we’ve taken care of the internal body, let’s tackle what the sun is hitting directly: Your lips, skin and even your hair are all susceptible to sun damage, so it’s better to be safe than sorry and take some extra precautions.  First things first, SPF.  Those little letters stand for your Sun Protection Factor, which can range from nearly none at all, a 2-5 exists in some tanning lotions, to a ridiculous high of 80.  Now, do you need an SPF of 80? Absolutely not. But if it helps you feel better, go for it. As it turns out, SPF 15 blocks 94% of the rays, while SPF 30 blocks 97%, in contrast -SPF 45 only blocks 98%.

When the sun is out in full force, it sends UVA and UVB light waves down – sunscreens only block out the UVB rays, and some are far more effective than others.Products within sunscreen have shifted dramatically over time, especially with research on skin cancer and melanoma, but it’s still smart to check that your sunscreen is rid of PABAs.  That said, be on the lookout for “physical sunscreens” that contain zinc oxide and titanium oxide – the two compounds reflect light off of the skin instead of filtering the light that hits the skin. Physical sunscreens are only effective up until an SPF of around 50 – which is pretty perfect, since above 50 doesn’t change it’s effectiveness.

For skincare, my personal favorite is actually gift bag swag from Blue Medi Spa:  Fenix Hydrating Sunscreen in SPF 30. I swear by it daily and highly suggest you go grab yourself some ASAP.  If you’re looking for something more generic, I’m also a huge fan of Hawaiian Tropic’s Sport Lotion Sunsreen in SPF 30 – because you can bounce from the ocean to the volleyball court and back to your towel without sunscreen smears and streaky sweat. Not to mention, it smells delightful!  Kiss your chapped, lips goodbye and dive into some lusciously tasty lip balms.  Make sure you snag the ones that have some SPF in them like Chapstick brand.  Their lip balms range from SPF 12 up to SPF 25 and SPF 50+. And don’t forget about your hair – especially if you’ve invested a lot in the color!  I haven’t dyed my hair in over a decade, but when I did – the color would fade so fast in the Summer months.  Enter Oscar Blandi’s Capri Sun Shield Spray – it’s so good, that I spent 20 minutes hunting down a link because I thought it was discontinued, but no – just only available in obscure online stores.  But hey – at least it’s available!

With your after sun care, Aloe Vera shouldn’t just be a want this Summer, it’s a necessity; one luxurious soak in it after a long day at the beach and you’ll understand what I’m talking about.  There’s some great creme after sun lotions out there to use as substitutes to the pure gel like Alba’s Very Emolient After Sun Lotion which comes with 85% Aloe , but baby – ain’t nothing like the real thing and Trader Joe’s has a great one for an incredibly affordable price (though, as a warning – it definitely has a smell, which I now associate with feeling cool as a cucumber).

Think your skin care game is lacking but you’re not sure why? This might sound a little silly – but hear me out: if you have the cash to buy yourself a random Martini on a Tuesday night, then you can definitely treat yourself to a $10 IPSY or Birchbox Subscription.  The boxes come monthly and you can cancel at any time; with each delivery, you get to dive into a package of skin care samples and goodies with highly sought after trial sizes and even a full sized product or two. The last few months, they’ve both been killin’ the skin care game and I’ve discovered some new favorite products to add to my daily routine. Among them, I’ve fallen head over heals for the Coola Classic Sport Face Sunscreen from Birchbox and  HeyHoney’s 24seven moisturizing creme from my last IPSY Bag – it feels like you’re soaking in creme.

What are some of your Summer skincare secrets? Let me know in the comments below!

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[Weekly Dose of Wisdom] Spring Forward

While March marched on into our lives hail paraded down on Southern California, eliciting a sonic onslaught as if it were a troupe elephants gallivanting over tin roofs while blanketing Orange County beaches with a coat of unprecedented snow.  And now?  Spring has yet to be sprung, and it’s been a lovely past few days with a threat of a heat wave flowing in tomorrow.  In a monumental personal feat, this is the first morning since Daylight Savings Time that I’ve woken up naturally and with my usual bounce in my step! For multitudes of reasons, I’m enamored by these few months before Summer – life is passionately on display as blossoms and wildlife color the sky, humans and animals alike couple up in cute, baseball gets into full swing and festival season reigns supreme. In the spirit of Spring’s impending arrival – here are some of my favorite seasonally inspired quotes on blossoms, flowers, nature, love and life with pictures  from various trips to Big Sur, Ventura, Colorado and around Eagle Rock.


[Get Your Earth Day On]

“Hello babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. On the outside, babies, you’ve got a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies-“God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.”

 Kurt Vonnegut

There are currently over 200 Million active users on Instagram and between the lot of us, we load about 60 Million snaps a day, amassing over 20 billion pictures to date; of those 20 Billion, about .2% – or 40 Million – are #selfies,a term that as of last year -not only made it into the Oxford English Dictionary, but was nominated ‘word of the year.’  Last year, the Smart Phone Market overran the PC Market with over 1.75 Billion Smart Phone users in the world, including 56% of Americans –  up from 35% 2 years ago. Of the 1.25  Billion Facebook users, roughly 25% play games on the daily.  Since 2012, the number of Americans streaming digital media like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon has gone from half the population to almost 70%, and digital streaming devices can now be found in 14% of American households; up double from 2011.  Between new developments in gaming systems, social media and technology, it’s become all too easy for the majority of us (including myself) to forget that there’s this amazingly wonderful planet that we have the opportunity to explore. I firmly believe that each day is a new chance to appreciate the beauty that surrounds you, and that goes doubly so for today, Earth Day. Today’s a day to be in awe of your surroundings, fully immerse yourself in your environment, and celebrate the beauty that surrounds you – a day to honor your relatives, both ancestors and those to come, by embracing nature and all it has to offer; and I hope more people choose to pay attention to the details and take the time to smell the flowers.  As tied in as I find myself with all things internet – from my addiction to House of Cards to my love of Caturday pictures, I’ve felt an extreme need to detach myself from these chains that masquerade as wifi signals and find some real, personal connection with my surroundings. Back in 1969, a young environmental activist named John McConnell found himself in front of the UNESCO Conference in San Francisco, pleading with peers and mentors alike that the world deserves a day to both honor the idea of peace and rejoice in the Earth’s beauty – and the year after, Earth Day was born.  In almost half of a century, the event has manifested from a local, California event into a global masterpiece in over 190 countries.There are ample amounts of Earth Day festivities around the globe that you can take part in, but if you want to do something on a smaller and more personal scale – try these on for size:

  • Ditch your wheels! Head out on foot, with skates, on a bike or with public transportation – did you know that there are some gorgeous smelling flowers just three blocks away from your house? Well, now you do!
  • Shop local and try out the Farmer’s Market around the corner or the Mom and Pop shop on the corner
  • Take a thick book into a lush park and don’t return until you’re halfway done; set your imagination free and leave your cell on silent
  • When you’re with company – do the polite thing and turn off your phone, or as a baby step – try just your mobile network. When you’re with good company; not like you need to see how many likes that rant on Facebook got you while you’re enjoying your surroundings, right?
  • Get off the grid and explore – find a new hike or walk in your neighborhood; activity loves company so call a friend or three and get your endorphins pumping
  • Help record the sound of our planet with Global Soundscapes
  • Replace your mobile gaming with a physical board game – or active sports – and invite some friends over for some friendly in person competition
  • Turn off anything with an electronic pulse and cultivate some creativity; arts and crafts shouldn’t just be for elementary school!

[Artist Spotlight] Tomoko Konoike

The other week I was going through my typical mid-week, 2-o’clock-feeling routine: grab a hot cup of tea, surf reddit and other news outlets for ten minutes and see what was going on in this fabulous world that we’re living in.  After minimal scrolling, I found something that made me stop in my tracks – the amazing sculptures of Japanese artist Tomoko Konoike.  Konoike is a graduate of Tokyo’s famed University of Gedai – one of the oldest art schools in all of Japan.   Originally founded in 1949, the University was the result of merging the Tokyo School of Fine Arts and the Tokyo School of Music; both respectively founded in 1887.

Tomoko’s art takes on a life of its own as she introduces it within unique environments and mediums; often using herself as a reference point – whether it’s through manga, pop culture or Shinto animism – Tomoko truly embodies the breadth  of Japanese art.  Though the wolf is extinct in Japan, one of the most amazing things to me are the way she can capture their dichotomy of delicacy and death, of beauty and violence; essentially, they’ve become a spiritual allegory.

I’ve been staring at her works in awe since last Friday and I’m beyond excited to share some of them with the world.  Tomoko primarily works with crystals, but employs different mediums – like using broken mirrors or drawing them with graphite.  The end result is a creative, surreal look at the world around us.  For you Californians – especially those of you up North – you’re in for a super special treat: Gallery Wendi Norris is currently hosting ‘Earthshine’,  Tomoko Konoike’s American Solo Debut in San Francisco.  Her work will be on display until October 26th so be sure to check it out!

Last but definitely not least – as much as I love using my own images I’ve yet to see one of Tomoko’s works live so I’ve scoured the interwebs to get the best shots of her work.  And, as such, each picture will take you to another original post about Tomoko, her sculptures and her shows.

Reflective Six Legged Wolf Covered in Mirror Shards

The making of ‘Earth Baby’

Earth Baby

Hidden Mountain Reverse

Shira—Spirit from the Wild (detail), 2009, Japanese ink, shell powder, gold leaf on Kumohada-mashi paper, 1.82 x 16.32m

Spirit of the Wild: Japanese ink, shell powder, gold leaf on Kumohada-mashi paper (Japanese paper)

The Return-Sirius Odyssey: acrylic, sumi, Kumohada-mashi (Japanese paper) and wood panel

Quotable: The Measure of Success

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“Success: To laugh often and much, to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children, to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others, to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition, to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson