Category: Health & Wellness


Straight from a doctor’s mouth: why we need to make changes to our personal care products especially those we use on our kids

Beautycounter is about cancer prevention. That’s why we always say we’re a movement to get safer products into the hands of everyone.

Each month, our extended team gets together here in San Diego (we also do these in other parts of the country if you’re located elsewhere and interested in attending one) to continue educating ourselves on topics and issues related to health and wellness. Last night, our guest speaker was Dr. Adam Silberman, a naturopath in La Jolla who has trained extensively all over the world and who has an impressive list of celebrity clientele (although you would never know it given his humble and goofy personality).

Dr. Silberman’s talk focused on how toxins found in every day products can negatively impact our endocrine system and produce adverse developmental, reproductive, neurological, and immune effects. He had so many valuable insights to share but here are a few of what I thought were the most important takeaways:

  • He recently treated a 13 year-old patient with severe face, chest and neck acne by having her stop all personal care products for ten days. She wasn’t allowed to use anything on her hair or body except water and apple cider vinegar. By day ten, her acne was completely gone. She was thrilled and immediately wanted to start using her personal care products again to which his answer was “not the same ones you were using before!” 
  • Some toxins never leave the body which is why they’re found in human tissue even after a person is deceased. Even something that seems mundane like walking on grass after it’s been sprayed with pesticides can stay in your body forever. Skin is our largest organ and it absorbs whatever it comes into contact with–just think about how nicotine patches and pain relief creams get absorbed into the skin. The same goes for the shampoo, lotion, sunscreen and makeup we’re using on our bodies every day. 
  • We have to be our own health advocates! The amount of toxins he sees in some of his patients’ blood work is off the charts yet our government doesn’t do much of anything to protect our health when it comes to the personal care industry. Because of the lack of overall regulation and loopholes with things like transparency, reading labels isn’t enough–we must do our research using resources like the Environmental Working Group.

Knowing that we must be our own advocates, I’ll leave you with this: What small changes can you make today that will have a big impact on you tomorrow?

With love, lipstick and lavender,



Spring Clean Your Way to Healthier Skin

When the weather gets warmer, we tend to think about making healthier choices and those choices are often related to food.

As a foodie myself, I feel like I’m in a constant tug-of-war between eating clean and indulging in my love for cheese and chocolate!

But have you ever stopped to think about what you’re putting on your body instead of just what you’re putting in your body?

I recently had the honor of partnering with Athleta to share my thoughts on creating a safer beauty regime. Check out their Chi blog for my three easy ways to become an empowered consumer and start spring-cleaning your vanity!

With love, lipstick and lavender,



Feeling unsettled? Here’s a way to find hope.

As the Greek philosopher, Heraclitus, once said “change is the only constant in life.” Yet in our modern culture, we’re not raised to embrace the varying levels of uncertainty that this adventure called life guarantees us.

On top of our individual challenges, the world around us seems to be increasingly more distressing. Long before the nightly news took a backseat to online news outlets, I had already prohibited myself from watching the sensationalized drama. But even staying connected to more balanced news organizations like the New York Times and CNN is challenging. Last week, it took me several days to muster up the courage to look at some photos from the chemical attack in Syria.

Between our own personal paths and the struggles of the world around us, it’s hard not to feel overwhelmed and powerless. So, how can we find faith in times of turmoil?

It might surprise you to hear the answer is quite simple: by connecting with your inner self. There’s an amazing power within each one of us to choose our reaction to a situation. To choose hope over despair, action over complacency, power over fear.

While it might sound easier said than done, there are many tools available to help you find that inner voice including one of my favorites: meditation. Just so you know, meditation is not something that comes easily to me. Like many people I know, it’s hard for me to settle my mind and connect with my higher self. But when I do, it’s nothing short of magic. I feel calmer, happier and more grounded.

Additionally, there are many meditation resources available for beginners as well as those who are more seasoned. Personally, I prefer to do guided meditations and love the 21-day meditations from Oprah and Deepak Chopra. There are 13 collections to choose from and each time a new one launches, it’s free for a limited amount of time if you’re a registered member of the site. Today, they released their latest series: Hope in Uncertain Times, which was the inspiration for this post and as they describe, “a way to embrace uncertainty as an opportunity to grow and evolve.”

If you’re looking to find hope, strengthen your sense of hope or just simply learn how to quiet your mind and connect with your inner knowing, I highly encourage you to check out this series. Even if you can’t find the time to do the meditation portion every day, the short messages from Oprah and Deepak at the start of each meditation are worth every minute!

With love, lipstick and lavender,





Young Caucasian woman facial massage

Craniosacral what?

If you’ve read my youngest daughter Sasha’s story, then you’ve already been introduced to the phrase craniosacral therapy. Until we moved to San Diego, I had never heard of it and I thought I was pretty well-versed in alternative approaches to wellness given my ongoing fascination with the mind, body, spirit connection.

As a quick overview, craniosacral therapy is a form of bodywork that uses gentle touch to manipulate the synarthrodial joints of the cranium. In other words, joints that permit little to no movement. Practitioners of craniosacral therapy may also apply light touches to a patient’s spine and pelvis. Practitioners believe this manipulation regulates the flow of cerebrospinal fluid (the fluid found in your brain and spine).

So what does all of this have to do with Sasha? In a nutshell, Sasha spent the first three years of her life with chronic ear infections which eventually led to tubes, RSV, two bouts of pneumonia back-to-back and some crazy mono-like virus that sent us in and out of the hospital twice with 106 degree fevers. Because of all of this, the slightest sinus congestion would turn into an ear infection and the slightest cough would move into her lungs.

While trips to the chiropractor paired with essential oils were doing their job in helping her fight through various illness (along with antibiotics when needed of course), we couldn’t get her immune system to a different place until Melinda came along. When my neighbor told me about Melinda, she promptly said “she’s expensive but worth every penny.” I didn’t know what the price tag was nor did I want to know. I was on my last nerve and would pay anything I could to help get Sasha to a better place.

After patiently waiting for two months to see Melinda, in walked a tall blonde woman in her 60s who looked like she had just come from a cover shoot for Vogue. Chic clothes, chunky jewelry and hip glasses were surrounded by a massage table, Chinese herbs and acupuncture needles. I knew immediately that I was going to love this woman.

After a thorough intake, the treatment began. Melinda applied light touches to Sasha’s head, ears, sinuses, neck, chest, lungs and even the inside of her mouth. She went as low as the abdomen and could tell that Sasha also suffered from constipation. That night, Sasha slept like a rock. Having never been a consistent sleeper before, I knew something had taken effect.

Following the initial appointment, we saw Melinda three more times as she continued to work on Sasha’s areas of need. Through it all, Sasha always laid patiently on the table until one session when Melinda touched the left side of her neck. Instantly, Sasha started to squirm and fuss in a way that I had never witnessed before. Melinda looked up at me and asked if the cord was wrapped around her neck at birth and I shook my head yes.

From there, she asked me to hop on the table with Sasha and lay nose to nose with her. Over the next three minutes while Melinda touched the spot, Sasha let out what I can only describe as a raw, caveman like cry. Tears immediately started rolling down my face as she released what I imagine was years of fear and emotion. A few days later when we were playing at home, Sasha suddenly stopped and said to me, “mommy, I was really scared when the cord was wrapped around my neck.” My whole body became covered in goosebumps as I hugged her tight and told her she was safe.

It’s been close to two months since our last appointment with Melinda and we’ve certainly noticed a difference. Sasha’s had two colds since then but neither one went into her ears or her lungs and she was able to fight them off. Knowing that health is always an ongoing journey, I know we still have a lot of work to do especially when it comes to getting her to take vitamins and supplements. But at least I can breathe a little easier knowing we’re making progress!

With love, lipstick and lavender,




Think your skin doesn’t absorb chemicals? Think again!

This morning, Good Morning America did an interesting piece about the lack of regulation in the beauty industry and how the United States government does NOT regulate the safety of all of the shampoos, lotions and makeup that we use on our skin every day.

If you haven’t visited the “learn” section of my site, let me quickly catch you up on some of the scary facts:

  • The average woman uses between 8-10 products on her body every single day and those products get absorbed right into her skin.
  • The United States hasn’t passed a major federal law to regulate the ingredients used in personal care products since 1938!
  • Over the past two decades, the European Union has banned more than 1,400 chemicals in the product formulas of personal care products. The U.S. has only partially banned 11 to date.
  • There are more than 80,000 chemicals on the market today and many don’t have any safety data. This is particularly true of those used in the skin care and beauty industry.

Now back to Good Morning America…

As part of their research, GMA wanted to see if our bodies actually absorb the chemicals in our skin care and cosmetics and they specifically looked at two common chemicals: parabens, which can act as preservatives, and phthalates, controversial chemicals often used to make fragrances last longer. Here’s what happened:

After getting a baseline measurement of the chemicals in ABC News’ correspondent Mary Bruce’s system, for three days, she used only beauty products containing the two chemicals, parabens and phthalates. Then, for five days, she cut them out completely, using only products excluding those chemicals for her daily routine.

ABC News took urine samples at each stage of the experiment and sent them to the California Department of Health for review, then met with University of California-Berkeley researcher Kim Harley for the results.

When Bruce switched to using only products with the chemicals, the level of parabens in her system went off the charts, going up to 386 ug/g, from her baseline of 38 ug/g. The average American woman, according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey has 23 ug/g.

When she changed to the low-chemical products, the “levels basically plummeted,” said Harley. “You went down to 6 [ug/g].”

The same thing happened with phthalates, going from her baseline of 87 ug/g, up to 284 ug/g, and back down to 45 ug/g. The average for women is 43 ug/g.

Not only are the results of this test frightening, but what’s even worse is the CDC says the health effects of low-level exposure to these chemicals are “unknown!”

Make sure to check out GMA’s video for the full story and if you want more information on how you can make healthier choices, feel free to check out the shop section of my site or contact me.

With love, lipstick and lavender,





Why gratitude is the best attitude and how to practice more of it!

When you don’t grow up with much, it’s easy to be thankful for the people, experiences and acts of kindness that come your way. I think (and hope!) I’ve been appreciative of everything and everyone who has helped make my life what it is today.

But even those who live their lives with consistent “thank yous” can lose site of gratitude when the stress of daily life kicks in. Admittedly, I’m one of those people who can be easily thrown off course by the amount of items on my to-do list as well as what I like to call “fear triggers.” These are the big anxiety inducers such as concern for the well-being of loved ones, personal health struggles, finances and fear of death.

With mindfulness becoming more mainstream, I’ve seen an influx of research around the relationship between gratitude and overall health. Many experts claim that actively practicing gratitude can create more optimism which in turn can reduce stress. Additionally, people who are grateful tend to exercise more, take better care of their health and are able to manage stress with more ease.

Because of my ability to go down the rabbit hole in times of stress, I recently started a gratitude practice of my own and have seen a noticeable shift in my thinking to a much more optimistic and peaceful place. While I’m only a study of one, there are a few things that have made implementing this practice relatively easy that I think anyone can try:

  • Kick off every morning by saying one thing you’re thankful for. Yep, that’s it–one thing is all it takes to start your day off on a positive note. This morning, I said I was grateful for having a flexible schedule to take my eldest daughter to an eye doctor appointment. While that might sound insignificant to some, it’s a big deal to me to be physically present with my girls every day.
  • Find a guided meditation that makes it easy for you to get into the zone even if it’s just once a week. Our culture is constantly looking ahead and meditation is all about bringing us back to the present moment. When we’re truly present, we find joy in each day instead of thinking joy hasn’t arrived yet. Like many people, it’s an incredible challenge for me to quiet my mind so I prefer to use guided meditations. I love the 21-day meditation experiences by Oprah and Deepak Chopra. Not only do I relate to both of them as individuals and experts, but I also connect to their content and messages. When they release a new meditation series, which is usually a few times a year, the experiences are free for a limited period of time before a fee is charged. Make sure to register on their site so you’re given a heads-up the next time a new series comes around!
  • Place a gratitude jar in your home and make it a family activity! About a year ago, I came across these cool gratitude jars and thought they were a great way to start teaching my girls about what it means to be thankful and appreciative. Currently, our jar sits in the middle of our dining room table, and we’ll periodically write down what we’re thankful for on slips of paper and drop them in. While Sasha is still too young to make a connection, Natalya has seemed to embrace the idea and I always look forward to what she’ll come up with next. In 2017, my goal is to formalize the process a bit more by making it a weekly activity at the dinner table.

As you think about ways to carve out room for more gratitude in your own life, let me leave you with this final thought: the law of attraction. If like attracts like (and I’m a firm believer that it does), then the more you’re grateful for, the more goodness you attract back into your life.

With love, lipstick and lavender,





My cookbook obsession: pure delicious

At my daughters’ pediatric practice, there’s only one doctor who looks at the body holistically. One out of a total of ten doctors and she just happens to be the head of the practice. I’m not trying to pick on them by any means as my girls receive good care there but this narrow view on how to treat the body is my ongoing issue with Western medicine.

For many years, I’ve been trying to incorporate healthier food choices into our lives for various reasons–from my ongoing issues with indigestion, bloating and IBS, to Natalya’s chronic ear infections and eczema, Sasha’s chronic ear and respiratory infections and constipation, and Eric’s chronic sinus infections. While this might seem like a lot for one family, we are hardly unique knowing that nearly one in five households have at least one member who suffers from a food allergy or intolerance.

From age one to almost age two, Sasha was allergic to eggs. During that year of our lives, I was forced to move out of my comfort zone as eggs have always been a daily staple in our lives. Just when I got comfortable and felt like we had a whole new arsenal of options, Sasha outgrew the allergy and decided she wasn’t going to eat anything but eggs, cheese, noodles, bread and tortillas. Hence, her constipation issues that still exist today.

While we’re not completely gluten-free or dairy-free (how can you be with kids who like hot lunch at school and a husband who loves burritos?), we’ve made significant strides in this past year thanks to the incredible amount of resources out there that are making it easier and less time consuming to make healthier choices.

My current obsession is a relatively new cookbook by Heather Christo called “Pure Delicious.” Heather is a mother and a chef who decided to take control of her family’s health by completely revising the way they ate due to chronic illnesses many of which are the same ones I’ve listed above.

I love everything about this cookbook. Everything. The recipes are simple and easy to make and the ingredients needed are minimal which saves us money at the grocery store. Most importantly, I don’t feel like we’re giving up anything–in fact, I think we’ve gained more than we’ve given up in terms of taste.

It’s hard to narrow down my favorite recipes but here are some of our “Pure Delicious” staples:

  • Pumpkin muffins
  • Lemon-artichoke hummus
  • Spicy Thai curry noodle soup
  • Penne with creamy tomato-vodka sauce
  • Grilled skirt steak with chimichurri
  • Chocolate zucchini bundt cake

“Pure Delicious” also has an eight week elimination challenge which I’m hoping to start this January. I don’t know how realistic it will be for Natalya and Sasha to fully participate but I’ll take anything that helps us keep inching toward more consistency when it comes to healthier food choices!

With love, lavender and lipstick,



Coffee cup on a day window background

Why I quit coffee cold turkey

Coffee is serious business in our house. About four years ago, I decided to surprise my husband with an espresso machine for our anniversary. I thought I was so clever to have pulled off the research on my own, ultimately settling on a machine from Williams Sonoma that wasn’t the most expensive yet still a sizable investment.

Knowing that his gift wouldn’t ship to our house in time for the big day, I printed out a photo and slipped it in his card. About an hour after he opened it, I heard him on the phone talking to his favorite coffee shop in San Francisco. The next thing I knew, he had canceled our order at Williams Sonoma and purchased a different machine and grinder elsewhere for double the price!

I couldn’t really argue with the man as he is a coffee connoisseur. He drinks at least three espressos every day to my one cappuccino. As much as I loved and craved my coffee every morning, I always knew my body was sensitive to caffeine so one to two drinks per day was my limit.

Fast forward to five months ago when I started experiencing some “female” changes that were completely knew to me: missed periods, extreme bloating that never seemed to let up, breasts that ached and had doubled in size, and a five pound weight gain that wasn’t budging no matter how healthy I ate or how much I worked out. Me being me, I immediately thought I was perimenopausal and marched into my doctor’s office. After a slew of tests, she deemed me perfectly healthy and sent me on my way. From there, I went to the acupuncturist and started seeing my craniosacral therapist. While both were helpful in minimizing the symptoms, my intuition said the answer was hiding somewhere else but where damnit?!

Three months into this frustrating experience, I happened to come across a Facebook post from a local nutritionist who had given up caffeine in hopes to help her headaches and fatigue. While our circumstances were obviously different, a little voice in my head told me to do some research which led to headlines like this:

  • caffeine disrupts your entire hormonal cascade for 24 hours;
  • women metabolize caffeine more slowly that men;
  • caffeine causes discomfort and pain in the breasts;
  • caffeine in coffee increases your stress hormones eliciting cortisol and increasing insulin. Insulin increases inflammation;
  • the acidity of coffee is associated with digestive discomfort, indigestion and imbalances in your gut flora.

There’s no need to panic as most of the information out there seems to be in support of coffee. Plus, I was specifically searching for the relationship between coffee and the female body. That said, I couldn’t stand another day of misery and was willing to try anything to feel better so I broke up with coffee and caffeine altogether. Cold turkey.

While I don’t recommend ripping off the band aid like I did, I will say that two months later I’m completely back to myself with consistent periods, regular breasts, normal weight and a flatter belly (I’ll never be one of those women who has a completely flat belly!). Also positive, I have way more energy and no longer experience the highs and lows of caffeine.

Knowing how complicated the body is and how powerful the mind is, I’m sure coffee wasn’t the only contributing factor to my five months of misery but I’m glad I found a solution that’s working. And at least I can still treat myself to a decaf almond milk cappuccino here and there!

With love, lipstick and lavender,




Earlier this fall, my yoga studio launched a social campaign called #whyiyoga. Of course there were the answers you’d expect to see like to balance, cleanse, connect and strengthen. All true and inspiring. And then there were the Chelsea Handler’s of the group who wrote things like to drink beer, empty pie tins and eat more pizza. My kind of girls!

Admittedly, I never filled out a card to share on Instagram. Not because I didn’t want to but because I felt like whatever I said wouldn’t be unique enough. How’s that for irony?! What’s even more ironic is how I always tell people to speak their truth. So I’m going to take a piece of my own advice and speak my truth however normal and unexciting it might be!

Here’s #whyiyoga:

  • To stay strong for myself and most importantly my girls. I hope I’m always able to keep up with them and that one day we’ll be in class together. We do yoga at home but it’s not quite the same experience.
  • To clear my head. There’s a tremendous shift that takes place in my body from the opening sun salutation to the closing savasana. It’s almost as if I can physically feel the clearing and cleansing running through my veins. I always feel lighter, more free and more centered when I step off the mat.
  • To spiritually connect. Because yoga is an active meditation, some of the best information and messages come to me during class. There’s a reason why the “word” flow is so prominent in yoga. When we’re in the flow, we’re completely open to receiving whatever information needs to come our way.
  • And last but certainly not least, to be able to have an extra glass of red wine without feeling guilty! There. I said it.

With love, lipstick and lavender,


Banana smoothie and fresh banana on wooden background.

Chocolate, peanut butter, banana, oh my!

I love smoothies and fresh juices but let me be honest: I don’t take the time to make them as much as I should.

For one, I’m often overwhelmed by the amount of concoctions available to explore and find myself spending double at the grocery store for produce and fruit that might not get used in the way I had originally planned for. And two, because smoothies and juices are trendy right now, there are multiple juice bars within five minutes of my house that are relatively the same price as making one at home.

Excuses aside, there is one recipe that is my go-to that I make at least 3-4 times per week. I don’t start off my day with it because I prefer savory foods in the morning so it usually ends up being my lunch and my girls’ afternoon snack. Additionally, it’s easy to make because I always have the ingredients on hand and can easily swamp things in or out depending on what’s in my fridge and fruit bowl.

1 cup almond milk

1 frozen banana

1 tablespoon peanut butter or almond butter. I love Justin’s peanut butter.

1 scoop chocolate organic plant protein powder. I use Garden of Life’s smooth chocolate.

Usually this has a nice consistency with just the frozen banana but sometimes I will throw in a few ice cubes as well. To mix up the recipe, I’ll switch out the chocolate protein powder for Garden of Life’s smooth vanilla. And if I’m feeling crazy, I’ll eliminate the peanut butter and add in other seasonal fruits and sometimes spinach although my girls are too smart for that version these days.

While I know this recipe isn’t innovative or unique by any means, it’s simple and that’s what the middle ground is all about!

With love, lipstick and lavender,