Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Moving Through Loss

We have all experienced loss at one time or another in our lives. Whether it be the loss of a job, a home, our youth, or the loss of a living (now resting in peace) being. Loss and the accompanying grief along with ever-changing emotions can be difficult to maneuver through.

Many of you know I put my beloved cat, Archer, to sleep just a week ago today. A sweet boy who was with me for over 16 1/2 years. This has been a huge loss for me as well as for my almost 18 year old cat and dog of 3 years. Yesterday I picked up Archer’s ashes from my vet and upon arriving home, sank down in the middle of my entry way and sobbed uncontrollably. Although having his ashes gave me a sense of relief and connection, having the ashes in a box in my hands also brought back a whole new level of loss and grief that literally brought me to my knees.

Many say that grief is like a wave. The intense feelings come and go like waves in the expanse of an ocean. This ocean, however, is ebbing and flowing e-motion and the waves can truly come crashing down at unexpected times and places and for an unspecified period of time. My father died 3 years ago and I still find tears coming to my eyes when I see a photo of him or a distinct memory comes back to me.

Archer was an indoor cat and always in my home for all those years, therefore when I’m at home, it’s a constant reminder of his absence. And so the feelings come; then they dissipate and go; and then again, another wave to ride. My commitment to myself is to sit with the feelings vs. trying to move away from them. Without fully grieving this huge loss there will be feelings left unexpressed, which can and probably will come out in less healthy and imbalanced ways down the road.

My point here and my wanting to share my experience is to say to you as well as to myself—feel the feelings. They will come and go, but they are important to process. Gather good friends around and animals if you have them, then laugh and cry and grieve until there isn’t anything left to express. Move through the grieving, feel the loss, ride the waves as they come and go. Eventually they will lessen and so will the pain. This is an individual process, which cannot be compared with anyone else’s grieving journey. The important thing: Grieve. It is the healthiest thing to do after a loss.

To ALL of you who have reached out to me during this time, I am so very grateful. From your cards and flowers to emails and phone calls, whether listening to my tears and remembrances or simply offering hugs—I am forever grateful. Thank you.

Also see:
Grace, 1 year old; Archer 6 weeks old—1995

UPDATE: 7/2015 
UPDATE: 10/2014
UPDATE: 10/2014

I found this book, Going Home by Jon Katz, at a thrift store several months ago. I liked the author and thought the subject matter (loss of a pet) might come in handy some day. And it did. Soon after my thrift store find, a neighbor friend had to put his dog down. I lent him the book, having not read a single word. After another few months had passed, this neighbor was moving out of town and although at the time I didnt understand why I was so insistent about getting this book back, now it is clear to me.

This morning, less than a week after putting my sweet pup to sleep, I was lying in bed, having lazily slept in (no dog to take out to do his morning business) and all of the sudden I got the urge to get up, go to my library, and retrieve this book. I couldn’t put it down.

To read Jon Katzs words about his beloved dogs and the grieving he went through somehow eased my pain to some degree. I suppose its like a club you dont want to joinbut all of us pet owners will and do join. Yet there is something about the company of others who know what I am going through that is soothing to my soul. The book isnt sad though, its uplifting. Sweet and consoling. It has lots of good stories and sound advice.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who is about to go through the loss of a pet, is in the process of grieving a loss, or who is curious about the life, death, and grieving of our so-loved animals. I have now purchased several copies for people I care about knowing it will help them nowor later.

If youre interested in reading a tribute I wrote for my dog, see QUINCY BLUA Beautiful Life. And now (May 2016), another tribute to my 22 year old kitty: Amazing Grace—Such a long, long run.


  1. Linda O'Neill November 16, 2011 at 11:43 AM
    So very sorry to hear about Archer, Carolyn.

    Your blog post was beautifully written, heartbreaking and uplifting at the same time. I think I will pass it along to a good friend who has to put her 21 year old cat, Misty down today.

    You take care...big hugs to you, Quincy Blu and Grace. xox

  2. Carolyn Ash November 16, 2011 at 11:50 AM
    Thank you, Linda. Blessings to your friend and her Misty. My heart goes out to them. xo

  3. Brooke Andrews November 16, 2011 at 3:49 PM
    Thank you sister Kitty. I miss Archer too and when I am with my cat Butler I think how hard that day will be for me so I just love on him even more. I guess having a pet is the one place in our lives we can practice attachment. Love you. Brooke.
    p.s. I love the kitty photo of the two.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Eyebrows: Should you wax or tweeze?

A client recently wrote me with this question:
I need your advice on brow trims. Does it matter if you wax or tweeze?

Have you ever had an eyebrow wax? If not, I am more in favor of you not waxing because it can set up a process you may have to do forever. I prefer tweezing over waxing because you get only the hairs you want to remove vs. all the hair in the area being waxed. However, if you are the type to “pick” instead of tweeze your brows, perhaps waxing is a better option for you. You can really do damage to your skin if you try too hard to get “that darn hair” out; you can cause a little injury to that sensitive skin above your eyes.

Also, if you are not an
artist, going to a professional may be the best choice—even if they tweeze your brows and never wax. In a salon, the expert knows how to shape your brows to fit your face, something you may not know how to do.

Know yourself, and if you decide you are not the best person to be messing around in that area, get a referral from a friend for a great waxing salon. 

For more information, see:

Monday, August 29, 2011

Help for Hot Flashes!—updated

Available at most health food stores and online
**Please read the two updates below. This was originally written in 2011 when I was in perimenopause. Now in 2020 I have graduated to full menopause or what some call post-menopause.

I want to share with you an over-the-counter product that has worked wonders and has almost completely alleviated my hot flashes: Transitions by a company called Pure Essence Labs. Note: there are actually a few products on the market called “transitions. This one by Pure is the only one I can speak about and boy, do I want to speak about it! Here is my story:

I started full-on hot flashes on an unassuming day in July. After a few days of these constant surges, I decided to count to see how many I had in a day. The day I took note, I counted 12. I’m assuming I’d been having anywhere from 10-15 hot flashes per day. Since it was a new phenomenon for me and because I’m completely intrigued about all things that go on with this body, I didn’t do anything to stop them; I just marveled at the changes taking place. If I wasn’t working or driving or doing something that required my attention, I would literally sit back and just fully experience the hot surge of energy (and heat and sweat) exploding throughout my body.

Then it got old. And cumbersome, and at workdifficult. I was out with a girlfriend, who also just celebrated 50, and she told me about Transitions and how it has helped her through her own hot flashes experience. Apparently a sweet older woman at a health food store had told her about it and also added she wished she’d known about this product when she was going through “the change.” It helped my friend and by golly, I was at a point that I was willing to try anything.

I want to interject that there are many products available meant to help “treat” hot flashes. Black cohosh is probably the most widely used herb for perimenopausal symptoms. This herb is most likely in any and all hot flash treatment products, and it is in Transitions (along with many other herbs). I’ve known clients who took straight black cohosh with little results. Many times it is herbs in combination that render the most effective results.

Back to my story. So I immediately went out and got my bottle of Pure’s Transitions. I took it exactly as recommended (two capsules daily; one in the morning and one at night), and I prayed. Well, not really, but I was hopeful for sure.

My friend had told me it could take 2 weeks to feel the effects; I swear the next day my hot flashes seemed different—less than they had been. I was encouraged. But it wasn’t until almost exactly 2 weeks after I started taking Transitions that I noticed the most powerful results: my hot flashes, one day, had all but stopped. I would say they had gone down to warm flashes or really just a warm sensation, not really a flash at all. And now, 4 weeks after taking this product, I go through the day and don’t notice any heat at all. And if I do, it is 98% less than what I had been feeling with the real hot flashes.

So, I had to pass along this information about my experience to you. Herbs work differently on different people so I cannot guarantee this particular product will work for you, but why not try it? Take as directed, and see if you too don’t have a complete eradication or at least a big reduction in your hot flash activity. As I mentioned above, at first I was intrigued by the flashes, but really—who needs them?!?

Best wishes to you on your ever-changing hormonal journey. We perimenopausal gals gotta stick together!
(Thank you, Nancy. You saved me with this tidbit!!!)

UPDATE: 10/2014
It’s true, Transitions really helped me transition into perimenopause. It helped for almost a year. Then my hot flashes and other symptoms just got too severe and I sought medical intervention. I started with an estradiol hormone patch in October 2012. Wow, what a relief! The patch really helped to once again calm the crazy hot flashes, which were really interfering with my life on a daily basis. As I said back then, I felt like a crazy person.

Note: Not all women suffer from extreme symptoms, like hot flashes, while they are going through the change.” I would love to be one of those women, but I was the kind who had severe symptoms that needed outside help. Ive heard that if you had severe menstrual symptoms and periods you are more likely to have more severe perimenopausal symptoms as well. I definitely fit into this category.

Because I didn’t like having a patch on my skin with no control over the hormones I was getting, I looked for another doctor who was more in line with what I felt I needed. And I found one. She did extensive blood work, something the previous NP (nurse practitioner working under an MD) did not do. I started with estradiol cream and subliminal progesterone pills. She also had me taking some other bioidentical hormones (aka BioHRT), but after a few months I was down to just estradiol and progesterone.

Now, after almost 2 years on bioidentical hormones, I started experimenting with reducing and on some days eliminating these 2 hormones from my daily routine. The experiment is proving Im not quite ready to go off hormones completely. After a week the hot flashes started to get almost intolerable (again), sogive me the hormones!

I am in full menopause now (no more periods) and although I have read and understand the benefits of taking BioHRTfor lifeIm not sure what I will do long-term. Along with slowing down on the bioidenticals, I am taking more Ayurvedic supplements that help to support my organs and hormonal production.

This is a process, for sure. The jury is not out yet on how I will move forward with BioHRT, but it is a relief to know it is available to me (and you) if I feel I need to continue down that road.

After truly disliking (immensely) putting on the estradiol cream, my doctor at that time was working through a compounding pharmacy in Golden CO that had a patented process for taking bioidentical hormones in pill form. They say this process bypasses the liver so there isn’t an issue with toxicity over time. I spoke with one of the pharmacists and asked a lot of questions and I felt confident I wouldn’t be doing my body harm by taking pill-form hormones.

So, for the last many years, I now take a very low dose of estradiol (the least I can without experiencing hot flashes) and progesterone each evening. This, I am happy to say, after several years of experimentation, has brought me to a happy place. I definitely do not have the levels of hormones I did 30, 20 and not even 10 years ago, but I feel confident I am not doing any harm and in fact am probably doing a lot of good for my body as it ages. But the real reason I take these hormones is to keep the hot flashes away!

For more information, see:
I hate to say it, but this is pretty accurate.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

NO SWEAT: What happens when sweat dries on your skin?

Rinse the sweat off your face immediately after exercising.
Any time you sweat, especially from exercising, your skin is eliminating acids and toxins from your body. These are things you don’t want to allow to dry on your skin.

When you are exercising outside, you’re wearing sunscreen (I hope). So it’s not only sweat that is going to dry on the surface, but also sunscreen. This can not only cause irritation but congestion as well. It is imperative that you don’t let this mixture dry on your face. If you do, all the toxic junk sitting on your skin’s surface will cause the potential for irritations, tiny bumps (I see this a lot), and small whiteheads under your skin. These problems commonly show up where the sweat drips—the sides of the neck, under the chin, and around the temples.

If you are away from home but have access to water, great. Splash-rinse your face until you have removed all the sweaty residue off your skin. Then as soon as you get home, be sure and do your Basics routine (cleanse, tone, hydrate). Many of my active clients see a definite improvement in their skin after they use this splash-rinse method.

Sometimes you may be out exercising where you don’t have access to water, yet you’ve got to get the sweat off your skin. If you cannot rinse your face, I am going to propose something to you that is not a great practice by any means, and certainly is not the optimum. However, the way I see it, it’s the lesser of two evils.

After exercise that causes sweating (especially heavy sweating), and before the sweat starts to dry on your skin, use an individually wrapped moist towelette, facial cleansing cloth, or baby wipe tissue. Go over your entire face and neck, the back of your neck, and especially the sides of your neck. Keep in mind, this is only temporary until you get home where you can properly clean your skin with good products. These towelettes can have harsh ingredients in them (sometimes alcohol), but I believe it is better to get all the sticky, sweaty junk off your skin rather than let it dry on your face.

You will almost always have access to water, which is the best way to get the sweat off your skin. So the moist towelette route would be the least-preferred way to go. I am not advocating their use all the time or even frequently. But if you have no other recourse (other than letting the sweat dry on your skin), use a towelette.

Keeping bottled water in your car is one way to ensure you will always be able to splash-rinse after exercising. Even if you’re far from home (and your cleanser), at least you can get the sticky goo off your face and get home without causing the potential for breakouts. Keep in mind, you are rinsing everything, including sunscreen, off your face. Your skin, therefore, is totally unprotected. Running errands or otherwise being exposed to the sun is not recommended. Get home, clean your face, and apply sunscreen before going back outside.
UPDATE: 5/2015
Yonka (the product line I use) just came out with a waterless cleanser, which is something that could be used to remove sweat from your face instead of the facial wipes. I have many clients who have purchased the travel size of this cleanser to keep in their gym bags or cars (along with cotton pads) so when they are finished exercising they will have access to a good-quality cleanser right then and there. Obviously, this cleanser along with the baby-wipe method are just temporary fixes until you can get to your skin care products at home. However both methods will keep the sweat from drying on your skinand that is paramount.
For more information, see:

Monday, July 25, 2011

Camping: My “Skin Care”

My “home” for the weekend
After getting home from a weekend of camping and hiking and having fun with friends, I have some honest words to share with you, with an appropriate resolution. As always, good skin care wins in the end!

Full disclosure: During the entire camping weekend I did not do my usual facial routinenot even close! I got to the campground from an event after midnight and climbed into my tent. Did I wash my face—no! Did I wash my face the next morning before going on a hikeno! I forgive myself these things knowing I would take care of my skin when I got home, which I did.

Once I returned home, I got everything out of my car, into my condo, and either into the washing machine or refrigerator or trash or recycling bin and finally took a heavenly bath! I had fallenslid, reallyinto deep mud on a hike earlier in the day and just needed a good soak in the tub after a long weekend of hikes and camping. Once all my things were taken care of, it was time for me

First, I gommaged my face, then got into the nice warm tub and proceeded to do my favorite thing after a camping trip: I used exfoliating gloves with my favorite peppermint liquid soap, and I scrub-a-dub-dubbed my body back to normal!

I gommaged because it gets rid of lots of surface dead skin and grabs onto dirt and debris nestled in the pores (it’s a gel), which was definitely needed after camping and not cleansing. The exfoliation gloves are great to exfoliate all the dirt and grime and sunscreen off the old bod after not being near a shower for a few days. Simply put, I was just helping to get my skin back in shape after a few days of neglect.

After getting my photos on the computer and posting a few on my FaceBook page, I relaxed with a beautiful glass of wine, put everything away from the trip that was ready to be put away, folded camping laundry, caught up on emails, then finally and happily went to sleep in my own bed. Good night!

The moral of this story is: If you can’t (or just don’t) do your normal facial routine due to circumstances beyond your control, be sure to make up for it and give yourself a thorough cleansing (and hopefully a good exfoliation) once you have the chance. All, then, will be forgiven!

For more information, see:
Mount of the Holy Cross seen from the Shrine Ridge trail

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Cleansing Quick Tip

If you don’t have time or are too tired to cleanse your skin at night, before you put toothpaste on your toothbrush, put cleanser on your face. Brush your teeth and then you’ll have to take the cleanser off! Realistically, washing your face only takes a few seconds.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

PLEASE—No Hot Water!

No matter your skin type, age, or gender: Please do not use hot water on your face! You always want to use tepid water on your face—never hot or cold. Tepid means lukewarm, neutral, or moderate in terms of temperature. In fact, tepid water is very close to our own body’s temperature. It shouldn’t feel hot or cold on your skin. Why? Ask your capillaries.

The vascular system for your face is made up of tiny vessels called capillaries, which by nature are very weak. I once heard a doctor say, “Capillaries are akin to wet toilet paper.” Now that’s weak!

Remember: Heat dilates or expands (opening up the capillaries) and cold constricts (or closes the capillaries). Extremes in temperature are simply too much for the capillaries to tolerate. Either one of these extremes, especially over time, can cause the vessels to break or dysfunction. In extreme cases this causes a condition called couperouse or broken capillaries. Along with the redness couperouse causes, your skin may also become very sensitive. 

Illustration by Narda Lebo from Timeless Skin
When you’re in the shower, turn away from the water. Let it drip down your face, as opposed to sticking your face in the hot shower spray. Even cupping your hands and splash-rinsing probably does not give the hot water a chance to cool off before it hits your face. Since you’re in the shower, you could also just put your wet hands on your face and wipe the cleanser off. Yes, this might take a few passes to accomplish, but better 5-10 seconds of cleanser removal vs. a lifetime of red skin. And like this illustration, when removing shampoo and conditioner from your hair, be sure to put your hands up as a barrier so the (hot) water doesn’t drip down your face. Some is OK (and inevitable), but don’t let a flood come rushing down!

However you choose to rinse, be sure to keep your face out of the direct spray of hot shower water. When you’re at your bathroom sink you can easily regulate the water’s temperature. By the way, cold water is equally damaging to the delicate capillaries.

Read the following for more information on the delicate capillaries and things that can cause problems for them:

Thursday, May 19, 2011

MYTH: Foundation is good for your skin

Foundation is actually not good for your skin. It acts as an occlusive covering over the skin. Its purpose is to remain on the surface, not to penetrate like a moisturizer. So it stays on top, just sitting there. 

As you now know, your skin doesn’t breathe from the outside, so foundation doesn’t keep your skin from breathing. It does, however, inhibit elimination. And your skin will absorb some of the foundation. After all, it’s just sitting there all day long. Undoubtedly some of it will seep into your pores. And when this happens, the pores can enlarge. 

Foundation can cause congestion as well, especially if you have an oily skin type. If you have breakout and are using foundation, you are just fueling the very problem the foundation is attempting to cover up.

Foundation serves no beneficial purpose to the skin. Or rather, any benefits you may derive from wearing foundation (shielding you from the environment and possibly adding some SPF to your skin) is totally outweighed by the detrimental effects (clogging, congestion, enlarging the pores, inhibiting elimination).

If you want to cover up your skin, my recommendation is to try mineral makeup. Most brands give good coverage, contain SPF, and are much easier to remove during cleansing. Just say “no” to liquid foundation!

For more information, see:

Thursday, May 5, 2011

A Small Sunscreen Lecture

I was talking with a client today about sunscreen use, a subject I discuss with people all the time. Unfortunately protection from the sun and sunscreen products are all too misunderstood, and even worse they are used (many times) incorrectly. So who really knows how much sun protection we are getting?

Rule #1: You have to reapply your sun cream at least every few hours to be sure you are getting UV protection. For instance, putting sunscreen on during your morning skin routine and then taking a walk outside for lunch just doesn’t cut it in terms of protecting your skin from UV exposure.

Many people want to know about all the high SPF sun products available and if they are more protective than lower values. My answer is perhaps higher SPFs offer more protection, but the higher the SPF, the more chemicals you are getting on your skin. Sometimes more is not better. [UPDATE: Since 2012, the FDA set new rules to limit SPFs to no more than a 50. They did this to stop people from feeling falsely armed against all UV radiation if they were wearing, for instance, an SPF of 100.]

Rule #2: Wear hats! I am a huge proponent of hats, namely wide-brimmed hats. Visors and baseball caps are better than nothing, but they are only really protecting the top of your head, forehead, perhaps and some of your nose and tops of cheeks. They do nothing for the bottom half of your face. A wide-brimmed hat will give you a lot more protectionincluding your ears. You can check how much sun is still getting on your face with whatever hat you have on by looking at your reflection in either a window of your car (as you’re standing outside the car) or a window of a building as you’re walking by. It might surprise you how little sun protection you’re gettingespecially with a baseball cap.

The time of day will also influence how protective a hat will be. At high-noon when the sun is directly above you, you will get the most protection from just about any hat. Wide-brimmed hats will give you more protection throughout the day then caps and visors, but stillyou will most likely be receiving sun somewhere on your face no matter the style of hat you are wearing.

Recently I had a client with a lot of sun damage on her ears from only wearing visors when she’s out in the sun. Please remember to put sunscreen on your ears or face the consequences, which can be not only burning that delicate tissue, but eventually the possibility of precancerous and cancerous spots on and/or around your ears.

My spiel is if I could only wear a hat with no sunscreen or sunscreen with no hat I would 100% of the time choose a hat without sunscreen. However that is just said to make my point; obviously I am a supporter of using both. I think you get where I’m going with this: Protect your skin! Andhave fun in the sun. Life is short and you have to choose your battles.

For more information, see:

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

MYTH: Toners are the second step in cleansing

Toners are not the second step in cleansing. In fact, toners have nothing to do with cleaning your skin. They are used to superficially hydrate the outer skin (toners are primarily water), reacidify the epidermis (your skin is naturally acidic and it’s important to keep it in balance), and prepare the skin for moisturizer (now that the skin is rebalanced and back to acid on the pH scale, it’s the perfect time to hydrate). Just remember: Toners are not cleansers.

For more information see:

Friday, April 22, 2011

Sunscreen: Toss it out!

Don’t get excited! I’m not saying don’t wear sunscreen. What I am saying is if you’ve been holding on to any particular sunscreen for too long, it’s probably time to throw it away.

The ingredients in sunscreen are, obviously, the most important components of this product. Therefore, you always want to be sure the sun protection ingredients are as fresh as possible. Given time, the potential for your sunscreen going “bad” (losing its potency) is likely.

If you use sunscreen on a daily basis, you won’t have to worry about the SPF going bad; you’ll run out of the product through daily use before it has a chance to lose its efficacy. But if you have a bottle of sunscreen that has been laying around for a few years, I would go ahead and toss it out and opt for a brand new, fresh bottle of sun protection.

For me, I usually throw out any remaining sunscreens I used the year before. This pertains to the large bottle of SPF I use on my body—the one I used in October for the last time, but not since. I don’t use expensive sunscreen on my body anyway (there is so much surface to cover that Banana Boat or Target brand sun products do just fine), so it’s not like I will be incurring a huge expense by replacing the old sunscreen with a new bottle or two. Most sunscreens are tested to be effective for 3 years, but since you want your sun protection products to be fresh, I wouldn’t use anything over 2 years old.

If you have any sunscreens that have been sitting in your car all winter, throw those products out now. Extremes in temperature (especially hot, but cold, too) can render the sunscreen ingredients inert (inactive) and can also mess with the other ingredients and cause any cream, sunscreen or otherwise, to go bad.

Take a Sharpie (waterproof marker) and write the date you opened the new sunscreen so you can tell just how old the bottle is. If you find any dates on your bottles older than 2 years oldget rid of them! You want your sunscreens to be as new and as potent as possible, so ditch the old and get yourself and your family some new products to use this summer.

Enjoy the warmer months that are upon us now, and do wear sunscreen daily. Be sure to slather your entire body in SPF if you are a golfer, hiker, runner, biker, gardener, or are doing anything out in the sun for a prolonged amount of time with little clothing protecting your skin. Also remember to reapply. Putting sunscreen on in the morning isn’t going to give you much protection come lunchtime.

For more information, see:

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Aging, “Anti-Aging” and Beauty

I have conversations with my clients all the time about anti-aging products and procedures and all the rest that is waiting for us (to buy) at every turn, with more and more “miracles” coming out every single day. My clients are looking for information and I am wanting to educate. It’s just that what I have to say about the whole aging thing is a complete departure from the norm, especially and even in my chosen fieldskin care. 

I am posting a section from my second book, Skin Care A to Z (published in 2004), that really says a lot about where I am coming from and what I think about the current “anti-aging” phenomenon. I put anti-aging in quotation marks because that term sounds funny to me: “anti” aging? Really? Like there is something wrong with aging. (That may be something you disagree with, but please read on.) The following section, Notes to My Readers, is in the front pages of the book. I hope you enjoy it and I hope it causes a shift, if one is needed. 

N O T E S   T O   M Y   R E A D E R S

Waiting in line at the ticket counter at O’Hare airport, I struck up a conversation with a young man behind me. He was commenting on how unnecessary it was to still designate seat assignments on airplanes as “non-smoking.” I agreed and added that I remembered when you could smoke on an airplane. He said he did not remember “those days”alas, he was too young! I went one step further to say that I even remembered when you could smoke a cigarette in a movie theater! After I said that, I tried not to chuckle out loud due to the surprised look on this young man’s face. I know I don’t look my age, but the movie theater comment probably put me in his parent’s age group. He tried not to show his shock and disbelief, but his expression, as subtle as he tried to make it, was priceless.
Since joining “The Club” (the 40-year-old club*), I have had a new found sense of joy about my age. I am definitely not the person who feels a sense of loss at 40; I actually feel a sense of excitement about being older. I refuse (refuse) to bow to what society says about aging. There is too much that is good about getting older. These things are not physical (no kidding!), but they are profound—and real. I feel better mentally; I have a much deeper spiritual connection than I did in my 20s; I can handle complex situations with a maturity I am just now developing. Psychologically I understand myself and the world around me much better and more realistically, and I have a much deeper sense of appreciation and love for life and for the people in my life than I did even five or 10 years ago.
*As of the 24th of April (2011), I will be joining the 50-year old club! And truly, I continue to look forward to the futureaging and all!!!

I want to share something with you that is an integral part of this message. The way I feel about myself, my life, and about aging is a choice. These positive feelings don’t just happen (believe me!); I have carefully and constantly crafted and cultivated these feelings in order to survive in this world—this youth-driven, anti-aging world. No one is going to tell me how to feel about myself, and I am certainly not going to form my opinion about aging from magazines or commercials on TV. I choose on a daily basis to think, feel, speak, and act in ways that support myself—even as I head down the road of aging.

Over the last 10 years I have consciously and purposefully created a thought process for myself that supports the coming of age. It was, in a sense, a practical matter. I knew I would age (there was no stopping that train), and I knew there would be brighter, more beautiful, and younger people born onto the planet every day. So my choice was: will I let reality drag me down to my knees begging for mercy and perhaps less cellulite and less droopy eyelids, or will I choose to allow the inevitable and find beauty within that choice? Anyone who knows me, be it a client, friend, or family member, knows which path I have chosen to take.

Part of why I started writing in the first place was to give a voice to that choice. I wanted to add volume to my anti-anti-aging paradigm, knowing I couldn’t possibly compete with the anti-aging world around me. But because I felt strong in my convictions about accepting aging, I also wanted to help any of you who wanted to feel the same way and yet might have felt like you’re losing the battle. Today I am here to say stand up strong and don’t succumb to all the hype, media attention to youth, advertising, and (even though it is my chosen industry) the skin care world.

I definitely advocate doing all the right things to keep your skin looking healthy at any age. But then, after getting enough sleep, eating right, drinking enough water, avoiding sugar, exfoliating, and applying your sunscreen, go out and face the day! Do something wonderful (or mundane). Enjoy your breath, the ability to move, and stop focusing so much time and attention on your looks. Be wise and don’t belabor the task of looking good. Your looks can be taken away in an instant, or a lifetime; memories of adventures and life experiences last forever.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

MYTH: Facial exercises help reduce wrinkles and/or firm the skin

Wrinkles are lines of expression. They are formed by the constant animation of your face. Most of these facial exercise regimes encourage you to make faces that, I have to tell you, are just increasing the depth and premature appearance of lines on your face. Don’t rush your wrinkles!

For more MYTHS and ways to keep your skin looking its best, see:

Friday, March 4, 2011

Sugar & Skin Problems

For any of you reading this who know me or have come to my salons for facials, you also know that sugar as it relates to skin care is one of my favorite, if not my biggest, soapboxes to stand on. The reason sprang from my own experiences with sugar and skin problems in my 20s, coming to conclusions, then passing on the information I discovered through trial and error with my own sugar addiction.

I believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that sugar causes skin problems (among other things). Its damage to our bodies is huge, and it continues to amaze me how few people are talking about it, although this is starting to change. Sugar is all-pervasive. It is in everything! It’s in obvious places as well as places you would never expect. I believe if you get rid of or at least reduce the amount of sugar in your diet, whether you can see, feel, or otherwise know it, your body will be better off.

Perhaps you’ve seen the evidence: when you eat sugary foods, your skin breaks out; when you eat less sugar, your skin clears up. When you know consciously that sugar is affecting your skin, you will undoubtedly curb your sugar intake. You will understand the consequences of your actions, and you will take pause before your hand goes to your mouth with that sweet delight. Now you choose and decide whether you want to take the chance and eat the sugar. There’s a saying that if you want to keep on getting what you’re getting, keep on doing what you’re doing. That just about says it all.

Some people are less sensitive to sugar. Men seem less sensitive than women; some women are more sensitive than others. But if you are one of the sensitive ones, watch out! If you continue to consume even small amounts of sugar on a regular basis you will no doubt have the telltale signs written all over your face.

Does it matter that many dermatologists say sugar, chocolate, or junk food doesn’t cause acne or problem skin? It doesn’t matter to me. And it doesn’t stop me from trudging ahead with what I believe to be true and with what I see in my clients’ and my own skin. Some of you may be getting away with eating sugar and having virtually no problems with your skin. But no doubt you are having unseen or unfelt problems due to this tasty toxin; you just haven’t been made aware of ityet. There is nothing inherently good about eating sugar and sugary foods, symptoms or not.

Not everyone will have sensitivity to sugar that causes breakouts, but my experience with my own skin and hundreds of clients I have shared this information with is that cutting out sugar reduces or eliminates breakouts altogether. Experiment and see for yourself. Then you will know, and you can take responsibility for the state of your health. Then you won’t be puzzled by frequent breakouts that seem unexplainable. All breakout has a reason for coming about. It is up to you to determine what you are doing consistently that may be contributing to your skin problems.

For more information, see: