Solful Skincare: Kate's Daily Routine

Full disclosure, my skincare routine is a little wild. I’m unapologetically meticulous about tending to my skin, especially with quality natural products. About 2 years ago I had the realization that I needed to give a shit about what was going on my body - not just in it - and so I began the journey into natural, non-toxic skincare. Because what’s the point of spending money (and a lot of it) on organic groceries, adaptogenic herbs, and Ayurvedic teas while using face wash laced with chemicals and endocrine disrupters? 

Photograph by Arthur Elgort,   Vogue  , December 1989

Photograph by Arthur Elgort, Vogue, December 1989

I'm not naturally blessed with great skin. I have to work hard to keep it calm and clear. Diet and stress management are by far the most effective beauty-boosters, but skincare is not to be neglected. Since finding my near-perfect-for-me skincare routine, my skin has improved dramatically. So for those of you who inquire about whether I use natural products or not (the answer is yes), what my routine looks like, and what products I recommend, I compiled it all here for your reference and inspiration. 

For me, the biggest change when making the transition from toxic to non-toxic was the intention behind how I selected and used my products. In years past, I was seeking out the harshest, most drying face washes and creams, convinced this was the only way to tame my “problem” skin. Instead of punishing my skin, I’m now committed to nourishing and healing it. Working with it, not against it. The gentler the better. And it’s really crazy, because since making the switch to more nourishing products (that I feared would be far less effective), the entire composition of my skin has changed. I no longer deal with super oily + shiny skin, my breakouts are fewer and far between, and (for the first time in ever) my complexion has a glow to it. 

When beginning to make the shift to more conscious products, feel free to start slowly. Quality products can be expensive, so there’s no need to drop a ton of money all at once. My method was (and is, as I venture into natural haircare.. stay tuned) when I ran out of something, I used that as an opportunity to replace it with something more wholesome and natural.

Below, find my (slightly nutzo) daily skincare routine and list of skin essentials. 


CLEANSE

Upon waking, I wash my face. Depending on my skin sitch that day, the weather, and my immediate morning plans, I either cleanse with an oil-based wash or something more purifying. In the evenings (especially if I’ve worn makeup that day), I double cleanse beginning with the oil.

One Love Organics Vitamin B Oil Cleanser: Totally hooked on this stuff, and oil cleansing in general. The oils bind to and remove dirt, bacteria, excess oil, and makeup yet keep all the good, natural oils in tact. Skin feels clean and crazy soft afterwards. This particular cleanser is packed with ultra-nourishig pumpkin and papaya seed oil, and is an absolute must for dry, winter skin. Again, depending on the time of day and what’s going on with my skin, this is sometimes my only cleansing step. 

Tammy Fender Purifying Cleansing Gel: Tammy Fender is the queen of plant-based skincare. Each product is hand-crafted (right here in Palm Beach, in fact) with only the finest plant-derived ingredients, creating a truly divine botanical experience with every use. This cleanser is super gentle yet effective enough to tame even the most irritated and acne-prone skin, as I can personally attest. And the ingredient list, which features spearmint, alfalfa, cucumber, and aloe juice, is as clean as it gets.

Acure Facial Cleansing Gel: Another one of my favorite brands, Acure makes some real deal effective, plant-based skincare products. I switch off between this and the Tammy Fender cleanser. This gel is gentle on my super sensitive skin yet strong enough to wash off makeup - it’s definitely my go-to when I’m feeling a bit too lazy for the whole double cleansing routine. Among an impressive list of organic, good-enough-to-eat ingredients are acai, pomegranate, probiotics, and chlorella (yes, please). And added bonus, the entire line is really affordable.

EXFOLIATE

Once a week or so, I exfoliate (post-cleansing) for extra softness, clarity, and glow. 

Acure Brightening Facial Scrub: Another favorite product from Acure. Hands down, this scrub is the best of the best. It actually feels like it’s working (and not just ripping my skin apart) and always leaves my skin looking brighter and clearer. I know I keep listing ingredients, but I can't help but get excited by all the real-ness - walnut shell powder, lemon peel granules, and french green clay work to exfoliate and draw out impurities while blackberry, pomegranate, and calendula nourish and replenish. 

TONE

After cleansing, it’s time to tone. I do this twice a day, every day. This step is what really makes the skin feel squeaky clean.

Divine Botanicals Gypsy Rose Tea Astringent: This past summer, I stumbled into a random little store in the LES of New York, and on a shelf was a bottle of this toner. I read the ingredients, totally died, bought it immediately, and have been head over heels obsessed ever since. It’s probably my favorite skincare product I own. Prior to using this, I was actually toning with a homemade blend of apple cider vinegar + water, so this felt like a natural upgrade. Laced with Bulgarian rosewater, rose petals, chamomile, sage, and a medley of other herbs and oils, this apple cider vinegar-based toner delicately balances the skin’s pH, heals, brightens, and prevents + treats breakouts gently yet effectively. It’s just the best. 

HYDROSOL

Using some sort of water-based hydrosol helps to prep the skin for your serum and/or moisturizer. Without this step, your facial serum, oil, or cream will just kind of sit on top of your skin and we miss out on all the healing benefits. I spray my face liberally with hydrosol both before and after applying my serum. I swear, the hydration makes such a difference and the skin is able to absorb all the goodness so much more effectively.

Heritage Store Rosewater with Glycerin: I carry this stuff with me everywhere. It’s a super simple but extremely effective blend of rosewater and glycerin. The rosewater hydrates, clarifies, and refreshes the skin, while the glycerin seals in moisture and protects the skin. It also smells like literal heaven. In addition to using this morning and night, I’ll spritz myself with it whenever I need a pick-me-up. It even works to set makeup. 

SERUM

Introducing an oil-based serum into my skincare routine has been a complete game changer. For so long, I couldn’t wrap my head around putting an oil on my already oily skin. I had read so much about the benefits of using facial oils but I was still super hesitant to try it. I finally made the leap last year and haven’t looked back since. I first spray my face with a hydrosol, and while the skin is still wet, massage the serum in with my fingers. I then spritz with the hydrosol a few more times and allow my skin to air dry. 

Herbivore Botanicals Lapis Oil: Pure magic. This oil feels super light-weight yet delivers serious all-day hydration. The gorgeous, other-worldly blue color comes from Blue Tansy oil, which acts as a potent anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial, helping to reduce redness and clarify the complexion. Since adding this product to my daily skincare regime, my skin has improved enormously and I don’t breakout nearly as often. A true essential. 

Benshen Serum No. 1: Another heavenly blend of plant oils, the serum is a bit heavier - perfect for combination/dry skin types, as well as for winter weather. Though the seasonal weather changes are subtle here in Palm Beach, I do feel that my skin is drier and in need of more moisture during the winter months, so I’ve been loving on this product for that extra hydration. This particular blend of oils feels extremely nourishing (especially on less-than-perfect skin), and is designed to not only moisturize but to heal. I swear, my skin glows after every use. Carrot seed, blue chamomile, sea buckthorn, rose hips, and olive oils are a few of the medicinal ingredients that make this serum so effective. 

MOISTURIZE

In the evenings (or if the weather is particularly cold and drying), I top my serum with a moisturizer for a little extra nourishment. 

Simplicity Apothecary Simply Glowing Cream: My go-to for pretty much any skin issue - breakouts, dryness, under eye circles, and wrinkle prevention. I use this every evening over my serum for super clear and soft skin the next morning. Every now and then, I will get an eczema breakout (lucky me) and this clears it right up. I even got my boyfriend hooked, who swears by it for calming his super sensitive skin. 

Tata Harper Illuminating Moisturizer: Anything from the Tata Harper line is such a treat. This particular moisturizer is infused with diamond dust (so lux) which adds a subtle glow to the skin. It also works to blur out the appearance of imperfections (blemishes, discoloration, fine lines, and wrinkles), so many mornings I simply use this in lieu of makeup. The non-toxic, botanical blend also features hyaluronic acid to plump and hydrate the skin for serious radiance. It’s a total indulgence, but I can’t help but feel gorgeous + luminous when I wear it. The cream itself is super light-weight, so I layer it over my serum for a glowy day-time look.

EYE CREAM

I used to think eye creams weren’t necessary until you began noticing wrinkles, but prevention is absolutely essential if you want to prolong the aging process. And as a total sun-worshiper, I need all the protection I can get on this delicate, quick-to-age portion of the skin. 

Acure Rose Hip Oil: Before bed, I apply a few drops of pure rose hip oil on and around my eyelids, as well as on my lashes. In addition to hydrating and healing the skin, it’s also been found to reduce dark under eye circles with regular use. 

Tata Harper Illuminating Eye Crème: The equally glowy and luxurious counterpart to the Illuminating Facial Moisturizer. I love using highlighter around my eyes, on my lids, and just beneath my brows, and this product does just that while also hydrating and protecting the skin. Another multi-tasking, must-have product for achieving a super radiant look. I use this in the morning or before a night out in lieu of or underneath my makeup. 

MASK

Because every wellness babe needs a few hard-working, go-to masks for a glow boost. I have tried a lot of masks, and these are the absolute best of the bests. I try to do masks at least twice a week for increased healing, hydration, and detoxification. 

Uma Deeply Clarifying Face Mask: This is truly the only clarifying mask I have ever used that not only deep cleans my skin and leaves it noticeably clearer, but also soothes and hydrates. Super drying masks will only make your skin produce more oil to replenish what was lost, resulting in increased breakouts, so it's essential to find a balance between clarification and hydration. Uma is one of my favorite brands, using only the finest medicinal essential oils for a truly luxurious botanical experience, and this mask is no exception. It feels really gentle on the skin (no burning or redness) yet is powerful enough leave my skin looking noticeably clearer after just one use. Containing turmeric, tomato extract, aloe, wet clay, and a medley of healing oils, nothing will leave your skin feeling (or looking) cleaner. 

Farmacy Soothing Coconut Gel Mask: I love a good sheet mask, and these are my favorites. Perfect for stressed, dull, dry, irritated skin. The masks combine a variety of ‘farm fresh’ vegetable extracts, including kale, for a potent antioxidant boost. These are a must for girls on the go, as they feel divine on stressed-out post-travel skin. Before a big night out, I prep with one of these for an extra dose of glow. 

SPOT TREATMENT

When my skin is feeling particularly problematic, I use a nourishing spot treatment for some concentrated healing.

Uma Deeply Clarifying Blemish Spot Treatment: True to everything Uma, this product makes even treating blemishes feel luxurious. In lieu of ointments designed to dry-out the skin, I opt for this blend of organic + medicinal essential oils. Tea tree, juniper berry, clary sage, and lavender oils work to eliminate breakout-causing bacteria, reduce swelling, redness, and inflammation, and accelerate the healing process. Within only a matter of hours after applying, my skin is looking and feeling clearer and less inflamed. An absolute necessity for those of us who experience the occasional (or perhaps not-so-occasional..) breakout. 

How a Nutritionist Navigates Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is just a few days away and right now that thought either has you really excited (maybe a little hungry?) or really anxious. Holidays tend to be very food-centered (none more so than Thanksgiving) which alone can be anxiety-provoking for many. Pair that with too much alcohol, traveling, and some good ol’ family drama (political talk, anyone?), and you’ve got yourself one very stressful day. 

If this is sounding way too familiar, rest assured that the majority of us are right there with you. According to a poll taken by the American Psychological Association, 69% of Americans report feeling increasingly stressed during the holidays. And as many of you can probably attest to (myself included), emotional stress can spiral into overindulgence which usually leaves us feeling even worse. So today, I’m sharing my top tips for navigating Thanksgiving healthfully, mindfully, and with balance. As a holistic nutritionist and yoga teacher, these are my personal practices that keep me feeling like my best, most radiant self during the crazy holiday days. 


Prepare yourself. In the days leading up to Thanksgiving, make sure to nourish and love on yourself a little extra. Take a detoxifying salt bath, load up on the leafy greens, and drink tons of water. The liver can take a heavy hit from all the indulgence, so I drink lots of fresh lemon water, chlorophyll water, and spirulina smoothies to prepare my system. 

Get your sweat on. The morning of, I make sure to get some sort of workout in. This is a super important ritual that I try to stay true to on holidays or any indulgent occasion. It cleanses your system, kicks the metabolism into gear, and is an amazing stress-reliever. I love holidays and I love my family, but let’s be real, these occasions can be stressful. I find that by beginning my day with some self-care in the form of a good sweat, I’m better equipped to deal with whatever wine-fueled political debates get later thrown my way. The next morning, same thing. Morning after workouts are never the prettiest, but your body will thank you for it. Yoga is particularly potent, as it targets the digestive organs for a deeper detox. If you’re in the South Florida area, click here to find my current teaching schedule.

Eat your veggies (like, a lot of them). Unfortunately, creamy mashed potatoes and marshmallow-crusted sweet potatoes don’t count. I’m talking leafy green salads, roasted squash, lightly steamed green beans and the like. The live enzymes in vegetables help our bodies better digest the mass amounts of food we’ll be ingesting, as well as provide a fresh dose of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals to our systems. I aim to eat a large portion of veggies/salad first to help myself fill up a bit on the good stuff, so I’m not tempted to overeat the more indulgent parts of the meal. If you’re not hosting Thanksgiving and are unsure of what side options will be available, bring a wholesome, veggie-centered dish along with you.

Keep it real. This is my nutrition (and life) mantra. The real thing is always better than the processed, chemical-laden, factory-made version. If you don’t recognize an ingredient, chances are your body won’t either. And when our bodies are unable to recognize something, it’s treated as a toxic foreign substance, creating inflammation, weight gain, digestive upset, and even autoimmune disorders. Steer clear of boxed or pre-packaged stuffing, potatoes, gravy, desserts, and cranberry sauce. Get back to basics and use real, whole food ingredients to create your meal. Mashed potatoes with organic butter or ghee, not margarine. Apple pie with sugar and butter, not corn syrup and shortening. *This is the one and only time you’ll hear me recommend you eat sugar, so enjoy.*

Stay mindful of your alcohol intake. This is a big one for me. Personally, I know that after that second or third glass of wine, my judgement is skewed and I start making questionable decisions. Before I know it, I’m like 4 slices of pie deep and sneaking back into the kitchen for leftover mashed potatoes. It’s not pretty. We all have our own limits and guidelines that we try to abide by, so I encourage you to stay mindful of them, especially if you’re hoping to make this a healthier, more nourishing Thanksgiving. Hangovers are also the absolute worst, so I always try my best to avoid them in any way I can. However, if you find yourself nursing one Friday morning, cozy up with a tall glass of coconut water and my hangover guide.

Put it in perspective. Don’t succumb to the drama. It’s one day and meal. Albeit, a very large meal, but even so. I firmly believe in the 80/20 rule, and it’s a mindset I encourage my clients to adopt as well. If you’re making healthful, nourishing, and body-loving choices the vast majority of the time, indulging during these special, celebratory moments is a healthy way to ensure your life feels balanced and fun. Drop the guilt and just eat the damn mashed potatoes, girl. 

Cultivate gratefulness (even when sh*t hits the fan). Real talk, don’t rush through your day without cultivating some of the good stuff that this season is all about. No matter what kind of day you have planned, make some time to express gratitude for all the goodness in your life. Living from a place of thankfulness also allows us to keep our cool and keep perspective when things get a little crazy. I have found that without fail, when we are deeply grateful for what we have in our lives, we attract even more things for which to feel grateful. I believe this is a truly magical time of year, so I encourage you to tap into and connect with what gratitude means to you this time around.

Everything You Need to Know: The Deal With Eggs (Part II) and a Recipe for Roasted Eggplant Shakshuka

In case you missed it, my previous post covered the nutritional ins and outs of eating eggs and why I choose to include them as part of my diet. Today, I’m detailing how to choose and prepare them healthfully and consciously, and sharing my favorite egg-centered recipe - a bright, spicy Roasted Eggplant Shakshuka. 

Keep it whole-some.

Part of why I love eggs so much is their versatility - they can be fried, scrambled, baked, boiled, and poached (am I missing one?). I really wouldn't worry too much about how you're preparing them, as long as you’re eating the whole egg. Yes, you should absolutely be eating that yolk. I cringe when I see well-meaning people ordering or preparing only egg whites, thinking they are making a positive choice for their health.

The egg white does contain most of the protein, but the vast majority of the vitamins and minerals are contained within the yolk. The yolk also contains fat and cholesterol, which we now know are two very important nutrients for our brains and bodies. This type of healthy dietary fat will not make you fat, but instead boosts the metabolism and aids in weight loss and/or management (among a long list of other benefits).

How to choose a healthy and humane egg.

When it comes to purchasing eggs, there's a lot of marketing lingo out there - organic, natural, free-range, non-gmo, vegetarian-fed, etc. - making it more confusing than ever to choose your best and healthiest option. My view is that healthy chickens yield healthy eggs, which in turn provides you with nourishing food that will improve your health. Unhealthy and unhappy chickens who are unable to engage in their natural behaviors, roam freely, and eat their native diets are going to yield eggs with decreased nutritional value. 

For this reason, I always try to source my eggs from a local farmer who I know allows them to roam freely in the sunshine and eat a nourishing, natural diet. If you know your farmer personally and have the chance to tour their farm and facility, there’s no question that you’re getting the highest quality food (not mention supporting the planet, humane treatment of animals, and local small business). If you’re located in South Florida, my favorite spot to pick up farm fresh eggs is Celis Produce

If you’re unable to find a local farmer, there are wholesome options at many grocery stores. As I mentioned, there’s tons of marketing lingo and much of it actually tells you little to nothing about the health of the chickens or eggs. There’s really only one label I look for when purchasing eggs: pasture-raised. Pasture-raised chickens are able to roam freely, engage in their natural behaviors, and eata nutrient-rich diet. Labels such as “cage-free” and “free range” are loosely regulated and don’t tell you much about the treatment, living conditions, or diet of the animals, which are important factors to the animals’ health.  

Why you may choose to not eat eggs.

Though I choose to include eggs in my diet and often recommend them to clients, I don’t want to only give you one side of the story. Many people choose to not eat eggs, and there’s a few main reasons I thought I’d highlight for you. 

  • Eggs leave an acidic residue in the body. Some of you may be familiar with the alkaline vs. acidic pH scale that plays a critical role in determining your internal health state. Basically, you want your body to be as alkaline as possible, and this is largely achieved by eating alkaline foods. All plant-based, whole foods are alkaline, and all animal by-products are acidic (eggs included). Personally, I just make sure to balance out the acidity of the eggs by eating them alongside highly alkaline foods, such as greens. 
  • Eggs are a common allergen. There’s a handful of foods that are considered to be common allergens - dairy, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, gluten, shellfish, and eggs. Egg allergies usually go undetected, but if you notice that you feel tired, sluggish, bloated or experience headaches or digestive upset after eating eggs, you may be mildly allergic. If you suspect you may have an allergy, look into having a food allergy test done (they’re actually really cool and informative!).
  • For ethical, animal-rights, and personal issues, many people refrain from eating eggs and all animal products. 

Now that I've hopefully answered all your egg-related questions, let's get to the fun part: food. I’m super excited to share this recipe with you guys today; it’s been a favorite of mine for years. Shakshuka is perfect for serving at brunch, but also doubles as a nourishing lunch or dinner. The dish originated in Northern Africa, and has become a staple in Israeli culture. It’s a one-skillet recipe of fresh tomato sauce, bright and flavorful spices, and baked eggs. The spices used always vary from region to region, so feel free to add in any personal favorites. In true Solful Health style, I strayed slightly from more traditional recipes to add in a few extra veggies. The roasted eggplant and sautéed spinach complement the spicy tomato sauce to perfection. 

If you don’t have a cast-iron skillet, you can modify with any oven-safe skillet or transfer the ingredients to a deep-sided dish when it comes time to bake. 

ROASTED EGGPLANT SHAKSHUKA

Yields 4 servings


Everything You Need to Know: The Deal With Eggs (Part I)

Today I want to address a question I'm asked often by readers and clients: What is the deal with eggs? Are they healthy or not? 

If you follow me on Instagram, you've probably noticed that I love eggs and eat them frequently. I receive a lot of questions about why I eat eggs, because for the most part I do encourage a primarily plant-based diet. I figured I would share with all of you my reasons for including eggs in my diet, the science behind my decision, and some guidelines to keep in mind if you too decide to eat eggs. 

Let's begin with the basics. What's the nutritional draw with eggs?

Eggs provide our bodies and brains with high-quality protein and fat. I know there's a lot of fear circulating around fat, but these types of good-for-you essential fatty acids are necessary for brain health, heart health, balanced hormones, stabilized blood sugar levels, glowy skin, elevated mood, proper digestion, nutrient assimilation, and cognitive function. One egg contains over 6 grams of protein and 5 grams of fat for under 100 calories. I am so not about counting calories - this number tells you virtually nothing about a food's nutritional value - but I mention this because I know weight loss and management is a concern for many of you. Eggs also provide us with a wide array of vitamins and minerals - including vitamins B2, B6, B12, A, D, E, K as well as iron, copper, choline, zinc, and cholesterol.

For me personally, the protein count is a big one. 

I'm currently in the long process of rebalancing my once extremely imbalanced hormonal and endocrine system, and recovering from years of untreated adrenal fatigue. These types of issues don't occur overnight, but instead are the cumulation of years of imbalanced living, poor diet, and acute stress, so the recovery process is lengthy. I have my good days and bad days, but increasing my intake of high quality protein has helped immensely.

Protein, as well as fat, takes our bodies' a bit longer to digest, providing us with a slow, steady stream of energy and stabilization of blood sugar levels. Regulating blood sugar levels is absolutely key to regaining hormonal balance and keeping fatigue and anxiety at bay. Some people can get away with only plant-based sources of protein, but my system currently fares much better with a combination of high quality plant and animal sources, such as eggs. For this reason, I usually eat them at 3-5 meals each week. 

The link between eggs, cholesterol, and heart disease.

The number one concern I hear when it comes to eggs is the cholesterol level. Heart disease sucks and runs rampant throughout our country, so I absolutely understand the concern. Unfortunately, we've been widely misinformed and misled regarding fat intake, dietary cholesterol, and heart disease. But here are the facts: Cholesterol is a soft, waxy substance found in every cell in your body. It helps to produce cell membranes, hormones, vitamin D, and bile acids that help us to digest fat. Without cholesterol, our bodies cannot produce estrogen, testosterone, cortisone, and a host of other essential hormones. Cholesterol is also critical for neurological function, and works to promote and improve memory and cognitive function. 

When your body experiences chronic inflammation, it produces more cholesterol. Cholesterol’s job is to help the body heal and repair. So if you find that your cholesterol levels are high, chances are it's because there's an underlying issue. The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) - the United States’ top nutrition advisory panel - has decided to drop its caution about eating high cholesterol foods. After revisiting the initial research and reviewing countless recent studies, it has been determined that there is no causative link between eating foods high in cholesterol and occurrence of high blood cholesterol and/or heart disease. It's time that we reframe the way we look at cholesterol.

With that said, dietary cholesterol (found in foods like eggs) actually has no significant effect on our blood cholesterol levels. Our bodies carefully regulate cholesterol production, so if dietary cholesterol is detected in the blood, our bodies just produce less. At any given moment, we have about 1,100 to 1,700 mg of cholesterol in our bodies, produced primarily in the liver. Eggs contain about 200 mg of cholesterol, so even eating three whole eggs in a day will 1) still be a relatively small amount of cholesterol compared to what our body produces and 2) will be counter-balanced by decreased cholesterol production by the liver. 

I'm just barely skimming the surface here, so if you're interested in diving deeper into the subject of cholesterol and heart health, I look forward to connecting with you over a nutritional coaching session

Stay tuned for Part II of this post highlighting how to choose and prepare healthy eggs, along with the recipe for my favorite savory egg dish.