Summer Skin Guide: The Essentials

 

Earlier this year, I shared my holistically-inspired skin regime, and was thrilled to hear how many of you felt inclined to clean-up your self-care products as a result! While my routine generally remains the same no matter the time of year or life circumstance, I do shift focuses and incorporate new products and practices during the summer season.

The excessive external - and resulting internal - heat can have an incredibly irritating, congesting, and inflammatory effect on the skin, which is truly just a mirror for the state of our overall health. Many of us also travel more frequently during the sunnier months, which of course only serves to exacerbate a less-than-ideal skin situation. But fear not, for there are some beautifully-effective natural products and practices that work overtime to keep you looking and feeling glowy and confident, even when it's 1000 degrees and humid out. Below, find my tried-and-true essentials for happy, radiant, and lustrous summer skin. 


BEAUTY DUST | Because as annoying as it sounds, beautiful, glowing skin truly does begin on the inside. The blend of adaptogenic pearl, goji berry, schisandra, and rehmannia is designed to boost the clarity and radiance of the skin (as well as hair and nails) and reduce breakout-causing stress from the digestive system outward. I carry the travel-friendly sachets when abroad to add into teas and smoothies. 

TATA HARPER PURIFYING CLEANSER | The ultimate cleanser for removing surface impurities (hello, sweat rolling down my face 24/7) and environmental stressors from the skin. It leaves my skin feeling cool and clean, yet still hydrated and dewy. I oil-cleanse in the am, and cleanse with this post-workout and/or in the evening to wash off the day. 

CALENDULA EYE BALM | For eyes, lips, and cuticles. A blend of calendula oil, mango seed butter, and lavender, this multi-tasking miracle balm plumps the skin, softens fine lines, quells inflammation, and diminishes dark undereye circles. A must for those of you frequenting air-travel this season. 

SURF MUD SPF | The cleanest, dreamiest option in way of sun protection. I sun worship all summer long, so a solid waterproof spf is a necessity. Conventional sunscreen is full of endocrine-disrupters and cancer-causing carcinogens, so make this the summer you switch to something natural. Containing coconut for hydration, zinc for protection, and chocolate for antioxidant-support, this blend is entirely swoon-worthy (and effective). 

BULGARIAN ROSE WATER | I add a splash of this in my water and tea daily for calm, cool, clear skin from the inside out. I also swear by rose water for less anxiety and greater internal equilibrium. And for external use, this is still the best product out there and forever my hydrosol of choice. 

BLUE TANSY RESURFACING MASK | A longtime favorite that just can't be beat. This mask is clarifying and cooling, resurfacing the skin with natural BHAs and AHAs to gently shed the top layer of skin. As powerful as it is, the formula is gentle enough to be used multiple times each week, and always leaves my sensitive, easily-irritated skin feeling refreshed and with a glow. 

TATA HARPER CLARIFYING MASK | Tata's newly-released mask that has already topped my list. Super clarifying and calming for my breakout- and redness-prone skin, yet ultra gentle and nourishing. It has an enzymatic peel effect to resurface and decongest the skin, contains quartz sand crystals for a gentle exfoliation, and draws upon chlorella to impart a hydrated glow. Another must-have travel companion. 

CELLULAR REPAIR SERUM, CLEAROil-based serums are of upmost importance during the summer to ensure skin doesn't overproduce breakout-causing sebum, and to impart a natural dewy glow. True Botanicals is a force of nature - the whole line has captivated me, as it's ultra clean and totally natural, yet scientifically-developed to work exceptionally well. This serum in particular keeps skin clear and decongested, yet hydrates on a cellular level to prevent oxidation and aging.   

CITRINE BODY OIL | A heavenly blend of ultra nourishing orange blossom, rosehip, and neroli oils. I use this daily post-shower and end up with the most divine glow (and scent) for the rest of the day. 

COLD SHOWERS | Especially important during the warmer months to temper internal heat. Equally as beneficial for the skin as for the nervous system. 

 

Solful Guide: How I Became a Morning Person

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In years past, I have never, ever considered myself a morning person. Since a really young age, I've always found it somewhat difficult to wake up, and have favored late nights over early mornings. I accepted this as a part of who I am, and basically did my best to arrange my schedule in a way that allowed for sleeping in. 

As rooted in this identity of a "night owl" as I was, in the last year or so I began noticing how productive, energized, and centered I felt in the morning, versus the late afternoon or evening (which I always deemed my more productive hours). If I could just get myself out of the bed, I felt really incredible and ended up accomplishing so much more that day in a way that didn't leave me feeling drained + depleted. 

I gradually began shifting my appointments, sessions, and classes from the afternoon + evening to mornings with a great deal of success, and just recently committed to teaching a 7 am yoga class twice each week (!). This feels monumental, because for many years I could never make it to a workout prior to 9:30 am (yes, really), let alone teach the class. 

Because I know there are so many others who feel that same soul-deep struggle to make mornings work for them, I felt inspired to share the practices that helped to shift this cycle for me.  


EARLY BEDTIME | This alone has made the biggest impact on my ability to wake up with mor ease. It's incredibly commonsense, but weirdly didn't really 'click' with me for awhile. No one can go to sleep at midnight and wake up at 5 feeling refreshed + energized. Once you've accepted this fact, it makes the idea of becoming an early riser a lot easier to grasp. Everyone I know that wakes up at 5 with seemingly little agony is going to bed way early. It's really the only way to make the shift work long-term. We all require different amounts of sleep, so experiment with what makes you feel best. Personally, I know I need a full nine hours at this point in my life, so sometimes that means going to bed at 8:30. 

BALANCED HORMONES | After being diagnosed with adrenal fatigue, I discovered that a large part of what made it so excruciatingly hard for me to wake up in the a.m. was my imbalanced hormonal system. If you experience this same chronic low-energy, it may be an indication of an abnormality within your endocrine (hormonal) system. There are many dietary and lifestyle practices to support the endocrine system and ease the body into adrenal fatigue recovery, but one tool in particular that totally transformed the quality and duration of my sleep and returned my energy levels to normal was the addition of adaptogenic herbs + mushrooms into my daily diet. I've posted a general overview of these medicinal supplements and which ones I personally use here, but I encourage you to experiment with what herbs work + feel best for your body. 

RITUALIZE BEDTIME | Ritualizing sleep puts you in a really mindful, centered space mentally, which I believe carries through to how you feel the next morning. I spend the last 30-60 minutes of each evening indulging in a handful of wellness practices that prepare my body, mind, and heart for sacred + sound sleep. In my personal toolbox: hydrotherapy, a cup of warmed nut milk, meditation, reading, sex, aromatherapy, and a few deep forward folds / legs up the wall for a calmed nervous system.

BE INTENTIONAL Personally, I find it much easier to wake up if I feel strongly connected to the reason behind the early wake up call. The night before, I spend a few moments setting an intention for what is I want to do and accomplish the next morning. This ranges from allowing myself to meditate for my ideal 40 minutes, fitting a workout in because it's the only opportunity I've have for movement that day, working on a passion project for 30 minutes, beginning my day at the beach for sunrise, or just giving myself the luxury of an hour of peace + silence before sh*t hits the fan for the following 12 hours. Whatever the reason, it has to be good enough to get me up - if not, I'll sleep in until the last possible moment before leaving for work. It doesn't have to be anything particularly special, just as long as you feel connected and committed to the intention behind it. 

HYDRATE | No matter how much water you drank the day and night before, we all wake up in a state of dehydration. When the body + mind are dehydrated, we are way more apt to experiencing fatigue and lack of energy, so it's especially important to drink water upon waking. And I mean like, a lot of water. I'm in the habit of drinking a full liter every morning and you can literally feel your cells coming back to life and energizing the mind and body. Water always before coffee + tea, as caffeine will just further dehydrate + fatigue the body.  

MINDFUL INTERNAL DIALOGUE | Once I stopped the really pessimistic + dramatic conversation happening internally each morning (f*** this, you're not a morning person, this feels unnatural, why the hell is it still dark out, I feel like I'm dying, etc etc.), I was able to relax into my new routine with so much more ease. It's one thing for the body to need time to adjust, but having to deal with my mind fighting my every move made the entire experience feel like a complete uphill battle. What we say + repeat to ourselves matters, so make sure the conversation inside is supporting your growth (or at the very least, not sabotaging it). 

PRACTICE | Like all things in life, waking up early gets easier with time + practice. The body will begin to shift into the new routine, and day-by-day it will feel more natural and easeful.

Solful Guide: Everything You Need to Know About Adaptogenic Herbs

photo of amanda chantal bacon, courtesy of estEelauder.com

photo of amanda chantal bacon, courtesy of estEelauder.com

I’ve written about and mentioned adaptogens quite a bit here on this journal, and if you follow me on Instagram you know I’m dusting almost everything with them as of late. Yet I realized, I've failed to really dive in deep and dish on all the details of what makes adaptogenic herbs so beneficial and how you can begin using them for better health. So here it is, a holistic nutritionist’s take on these buzzy superfoods, why I take them, and why you may want to as well. 

What are adaptogenic herbs?

To be considered adaptogenic, an herb must have a normalizing and homeostasis-evoking effect on the body in the face of stress - physical and psychological. Adaptogens target and support the endocrine and nervous systems within the body, two very overlooked (and perpetually under-attack) systems that work to maintain our internal state of homeostasis. The process of homeostasis kicks in when we experience some sort of external change - temperature change, a traumatic event, an intense workout, a sleepless night - and works to keep things balanced internally. Yet in a world that seemingly presents one stressor after another, these delicate systems within the body can become overtaxed from constant stimulation.

When the body is unable to maintain homeostasis in the face of stress, change, and conflict, we begin to experience hormonal imbalances, digestive issues, nervous system disorders, skin conditions, mental health imbalances, cardiovascular complications, infertility, weight gain, insomnia, and decreased immune function. We have all been there: stressed out, overwhelmed, and feeling like shit. 

I believe there are choices we can make to limit the amount of external stress we expose ourselves to (quit the toxic job, end the negative relationship, confront your self-deprecating habits), but to a large extent we don’t have a lot of control over the pressures of daily life. And so, it's absolutely necessary that we equip ourselves to handle stress in a way that doesn’t negatively impact our mental and physical health (or at the very least, minimizes the damage). Our best course of action is to change our response to these circumstances, and adaptogens have been an absolute god-send in my personal quest to stress less.

Why do I use adaptogens on a daily basis?

Incorporating adaptogenic herbs and mushrooms into my daily diet has been life changing. Years of neglecting my health resulted in some pretty severe hormonal imbalances, a weakened nervous system, and a really stubborn bout of adrenal fatigue. As a result, I have dealt with a lot of anxiety and panic, as is to be expected with these types of issues. For a long time, I struggled to find a way to heal these imbalances, until I found adaptogens. They have supported, bolstered, and rebuilt my nervous and endocrine systems so that I can navigate life in a way that doesn’t deplete me or leave me a complete nervous wreck. 

How can you easily incorporate adaptogenic herbs into your diet?

Blend them into your smoothies, nut milks, and lattes for total body-mind-heart support. You can also get creative and fold these herbs into treats and snacks, both sweet and savory. This journal features a ton of adaptogen-focused recipes (just search 'adaptogens' in the archives), with more added weekly. 


All adaptogens support our minds and bodies in adapting to and offsetting stress, so it’s hard to go wrong when choosing which to incorporate. Each herb, however, does vary in it’s particular benefits and what systems it affects most dramatically. Below, find a list of my personal favorites and the ways in which they boost health and function of mind and body.

Maca: A potent endocrine and nervous system nourisher that has an energizing effect on the mind and body, making it perfect for morning tonics. Maca is a rich source of plant-based B vitamins, which in addition to promoting energy production also enhance beauty and mood. The hormone-balancing qualities have worked absolute wonders on my skin, which is prone to hormonal breakouts. I also find it exceptionally effective at keeping anxiety at bay.

Ashwagandha: Extremely nourishing to the adrenals, thyroid, nervous system, and immune system. It’s a total stress-soother and has a calming effect on the mind, so I use it to temper the fiery, energetic aspects of my constitution. Ashwagandha has been found to promote more restful sleep (by reducing anxiety and easing an overworked nervous system into rest), so this herb tends to find it’s way into many of my herbal night caps. 

He Shou Wu: Promotes cell-deep longevity and beauty by repairing damaged DNA, reversing disease, enhancing outer beauty, elevating energy levels, and increasing production of antioxidants within the body. He shou wu is considered a kidney tonic in Chinese medicine, and by nourishing this vital detox organ, we experience less toxic build-up, radiant energy, and more mental clarity. Also serves as an aphrodisiac, hormone balancer, and adrenal nourisher. 

Reishi: An incredible immune-boosting and rest-inducing tonic for the mind and body. This highly-revered medicinal mushroom is a rich source of beta-glucans, one of the most effective + powerful immune system boosters, and acts as a liver stimulater for improved detoxification. Reishi has an extremely calming effect on the nervous and endocrine systems, working to promote deep and restful slow-wave sleep. 

Cordyceps: My natural caffeine alternative for a potent hit of energy. It actually works to increase the amount of oxygen intake of the body and enhances cellular energy production, making this medicinal mushroom extremely effective in elevating both mind and body. At the same time, cordyceps contains the same stress-relieving, nervous system-soothing qualities shared by all adaptogens, ensuring that you stay calm and grounded. Cordyceps is also a powerful protecter and repairer of the heart and cardiovascular health.

Rhodiola: Contains serious brain-boosting benefits for elevated mood, increased alertness, and heightened mental clarity. Similarly, it boosts energy production both in mind and body. It's my go-to for staying present, productive, and calm during the working hours.  Rhodiola also assists in the burning of fat, particularly around the mid-section.

The Solful Guide to Being Sick

In honor of being sick all last week with the plague/flu, I've compiled a list of my tried-and-true remedies and tools for navigating winter sickness mindfully and naturally. Behold, your complete guide to getting and staying healthy and radiant all cold + flu season long. 

photo by  coco prop shop

COLLOIDAL SILVER | A powerful healing + protective supplement that should be in everyone's medicine cabinets. Colloidal silver is antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-fungal, and is highly effective against even antibiotic-resistant superbugs. No matter what the issue, colloidal silver quickly + effectively eliminates pathogens within the body to restore balance and healing. I take 1 tsp sublingually once daily as a preventative measure, and up to 5-7 times daily when sick. It's also great in a nebulizer and/or neti pot for lung or sinus infections.  

OIL OF OREGANO | Another must-have for the medicine cabinet. Oil of oregano is considered a (in my opinion, far superior) natural alternative to antibiotics - it's highly antibacterial, as well as antiviral, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory - without the harmful side effects. Unlike antibiotics, oil of oregano not only doesn't damage our gut lining, but it works to pinpoint and destroy harmful gut bacteria while simultaneously nourishing the beneficial, good-for-us bacteria. Considering that 70% of our immune cells reside in the gut, it's in our absolute best interest to steer clear of anything that compromises this system (looking at you, antibiotics). Next time you feel something coming on, combine 1-4 drops oil of oregano with 8 oz. water and drink up. Continue 1-3 times daily until illness subsides.  

LEMON WATER | Something I recommend to all my clients and am super diligent about doing myself: warmed water with lemon first thing in the am. Not only are you getting a giant dose of bioavailable vitamin C for increased immune function, but you're nourishing the liver + digestive system for optimal detoxification (which is truly the key to staying healthy). Drink daily, and double up on those days you're feeling less than your best. 

VITAMIN D | For optimal immune system function. Our best, most bioavailable source of vitamin D comes from the sun, so I've been dedicating 30 minutes each day to soaking up this ultra-healing vitamin. They don't call me SOLful health for nothing. it's no coincidence that cold + flu season coincide with the darkest months of the year - low levels of this essential vitamin will leave you with a weakened immune system and at increased risk for illness and disease. Ideally, we'd all be getting 20-30 minutes of unprotected sun exposure each and every day (yes, really), but if time or geographics prohibits this, a high-quality vitamin D3 supplement will suffice. Take daily, especially during these dark winter months.  

MASSAGE | Treated myself to a 90 minute deep tissue massage this week to stimulate and detoxify the lymphatic system. Our lymphatic systems are responsible for flushing + riding the body from infection, toxins, and disease, and swollen, sensitive lymph nodes are a sure sign that your body is hard at work fighting something off. Massages nourish and support this system in keeping our bodies healthy and toxin-free. 

REISHI | Because I obviously had to include an adaptogen. Aside from offsetting the stress of being sick (sigh), Reishi is a potent immune modulator. This highly-revered medicinal mushroom is a rich source of beta-glucans, one of the most effective + powerful immune system boosters. I simply add a packet of Four Sigmatic's Reishi to my morning latte or smoothie for some immune and nervous system love. (If ordering from the Four Sigmatic site, use code 'SOLFUL' at checkout for a discount!)

MINERAL SALT SOAK | I'm convinced there's nothing a hot bath can't fix. Magnesium salt baths draw out toxins, ease aches + pains, boost serotonin production, and reduce stress. Brew some tea, grab a book, and soak your way to better health.

HIBISCUS TEA | My sip of choice for a vitamin C + antioxidant boost. Hibiscus flowers are highly medicinal, containing antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and fever-reducing properties. 

BONE BROTH | Aside from being incredibly rich in immune-boosting vitamins + minerals, something about sipping on a warm mug of bone broth feels super comforting and healing. It also nourishes and heals our gut and digestive system, which again is so crucial for immunity and overall health.