5 Ways I Make Being a Skincare Entrepreneur and Homeschooling Mama Work

5 Ways I Make Being a Skincare Entrepreneur and Homeschooling Mama Work

When people ask me about myself–about my family, and about my work –and I tell them the short version of “I’m a home-based skincare entrepreneur, and have two busy daughters–13 and 10–who are ballet dancers, one of whom, I homeschool…” the response is usually a blank stare and some version of I “I don’t know how you do it,” “you’re either really brave or really crazy,” (that’s probably true) and “I could never do all that.”

I get asked all the time how I make everything work.

I wanted to share my “how” with you today, because, honestly? I sometimes need to remind myself so I can follow my own advice. But seriously, I am busy. You are busy. We–especially moms–are ALL busy. I have never met a mom who isn’t busy, whether they work from home, are stay-at-home moms who choose to not work, or choose to work outside of the home. So I want to inspire you that yes, you can balance having a skincare business with motherhood, if that’s something you’ve been dreaming of doing.

I talk about how I make being a skincare entrepreneur and homeschooling mama work in depth in this video:

Here’s the nutshell version of my top 5 tips:

1. Have a realistic understanding of your time. You can’t always just dedicate a full day of uninterrupted work time when you have small humans pulling at you or crying, needing to go potty, or wanting to eat, needing help with school, or needing to be taxied somewhere. It’s safe to say that there are usually blocks of hours that tend to be more difficult to work during. There are others that you know you won’t be disturbed (kids in school, at a playdate, occupied with an activity, at a lesson, etc), and then there are your “wild card” hours where you can probably get a lot of busywork-type tasks done that don’t require absolute quiet or laser focus. You also need to take into consideration what hours of the day you work best at specific tasks. For example, I do not do well teaching classes or having client calls before 10 am–so I don’t ever schedule them before that. I also have a nice window of time in the evenings (like right now, in fact) where my kids are at ballet, and I am working quietly and uninterrupted at a local cafe, with a nice cup of tea. This time is really important. I used to stay at the ballet school and chat with the moms or watch the class, and then when I realized that my earlier hours in the day were just a little bit more interrupted than they used to be because my daughter is at home now, that’s when I realized that I really needed to be more strategic with how I was spending blocks of time like these.

2. Think outside the box with your business model. When I first decided I wanted to work from home, I was a little bit disappointed because for awhile, it appeared that I would have to do something like data entry, or envelope stuffing, or something really more just busywork type of thing that wasn’t a way for me to use my creativity. I tried several business models ranging from a private aesthetics practice, health coaching practice, teaching natural and organic skincare formulation in person, having my own skincare line, and then ultimately decided that what worked best for me would be to have both my businesses nearly 100% online. I still travel near and far to teach in person, speak at conferences and attend conferences and continuing education events, but that’s a very small component of my business. You need to decide what works for you, and I encourage you to let go of any preconceived notions or limiting beliefs as to what your business model “should” look like. You get to decide.

calendar3. Ask the right people for help and be REALLY clear on what kind of help you need.  I am a little bit of a control freak (most entrepreneurs are), and I am really introverted. I’ve gotten better at it because I’ve had to, but because asking for help was hard for me, I realized that I needed to learn how to do it clearly, but I also needed to be sure that the people I was asking for help were actually the right people to help me with certain things. Moms often feel overwhelmed and when it seems like everybody needs something from us at all times. But we don’t always ask exactly for what we need. Sometimes we feel that making obvious hints or projecting telepathic messages should be received by those who can swoop in to help us. But unfortunately, that’s not always how it works. It is much more effective for me if I’m feeling overwhelmed or frustrated to say to my husband, “Hey, would you mind cooking dinner so that it’s ready when I get home late with the kids? I have to work tonight and I don’t want to have to cook dinner,” than it is for me to beam him the signals, “Cook dinner when you get home.” Believe it or not, I used to do that. And then I’d get home and yell “Why didn’t you cook dinner! I’m exhausted, I have to work tonight!” It turns out, he’s not psychic. And I’m guessing that your significant other is not psychic either. Also, be sure you’re asking the person for help who has the knowledge and skills to be able to help. Say there’s a glitch with one of my online platforms, and I complain to my husband that it’s not working, I can’t figure it out, and I need help fixing it. It does not do him or me any good. What is much more effective is for me to email my assistant, and say “Hey, we’re having this glitch, can you fix this or if not, can you submit a support ticket for me.” That’s really helpful. If you don’t have an assistant, chances are you might have a tech savvy friend or colleague you can ask, or that there’s a helpdesk or tech support email you can use.

4. Have a support circle of other moms who have businesses who get it. Moms in general need a support circle. Moms who have businesses in particular, need a support circle, because when you have a business and you have kids too, it’s very different from when you have a business and you don’t have kids or when you have kids but you don’t have a business. The challenges that you experience are specific and unique. Having friends who get it, and also having mentors who get that, is really helpful. I have a couple of really close mompreneur friends that have very similar challenges that, if we’re feeling frustrated and we just want to vent, we can vent to each other because we get it.

Clutter5. Choose your battles. It is really hard to kind of keep our supermompreneur cape on all the time. And there are things that are really important to us that don’t always get done because we all have the same amount of hours in a day, and sometimes things come up and things get pushed to the next day. You have to decide what’s most important to you in your business and in your home, and not feel bad about the other stuff. I’m not a great housekeeper. I’m not going to say I’m a slob, although my husband probably would, but I prioritize my kids’ ballet schedule, their schooling, my businesses, my self-care and healthy food. We catch up with chores on the weekends, but during the week, we have clutter on the surfaces, the floors don’t get swept most of the time. There are dishes in the sink, there are heaps of laundry on the couch. I’ve tried all the tips, the apps, and read the books. I even worked with a professional de-clutterer. It just doesn’t work for us all the time and I’m done feeling bad about it, because you know what? My kids are awesome, they’re successful at school and at ballet, and they are kind young girls who love themselves. My businesses are awesome and are growing steadily. And if that means my house is not always spick and span, I’ll take it. Choose your battles, and be OK with whatever you choose to let slide.

If you’re a work-from-home mom, I’d love to hear from you!

How do you get it all done? How do you keep your sanity? Please share in the comments below what your best tips are, and what your absolute negotiables and non-negotiables are.

Like I said in the the video above, if you’re a mom, you’re already awesome and I applaud you. And if you’re a mom who has a business, you didn’t choose the easiest path, but I can tell you that you chose a pretty darn good one. It’s a really rewarding path and it’s something that is yours that you can pass on to your kids, and that is something that I’m really grateful for.

If you want to learn more about what it takes to have a skincare business, please click HERE to take my free Skincare Business Crash Course! 

And if you are interested in becoming a skincare entrepreneur, or want to grow your existing skincare business, and you know you’re ready to commit, I am ready to teach you. Click HERE to learn more about my online course, Create Your Skincare Professional Edition.

*Calendar image credit: Udi H Bauman. Clutter image credit: Chris Tolworthy.

 

Ode to the Multi-passionate Entrepreneur

Ode to the Multi-passionate Entrepreneur

Are you a Jack (or Jane) of all trades? Or what’s now often referred to as a “multi-passionate” person or multi-passionate entrepreneur? That’s me too, and for a long time, I thought it was a bad thing. So many people (parents, teachers, successful friends) asked me why I can’t just focus on one thing? Why do I need to explore more interests, earn more certifications, pivot in my business when I can just focus on doing one thing really well and make a ton of money? First of all, that’s not necessarily realistic–but second of all, it’s just not my nature. And if you’re reading this, I’m guessing it’s not in your nature too. So today I want to celebrate us multi-passionate entrepreneurs and people, because what I’ve come to figure out is that there are a LOT of good things about being like us.

If you are a multi-passionate entrepreneur, I’m sure you can attest to this: when someone asks you “What do you do?” It’s really hard to give a simple answer.

When I was in both nutrition school, and when I studied marketing, branding, and even PR later on, I was asked to give my “elevator pitch,” which is typically an introductory statement that is typically given in one minute or less, to tell people what I do. And like many other people, I was really tripped up with that, because it’s not easy to say everything that I do. I can’t exactly say “I’m an author, blogger, holistic skincare entrepreneur, skincare formulator, skincare educator, herbalist, Reiki practitioner, health coach, aesthetician, metaphysical minister, qi gong practitioner, speaker, mentor, intuitive, skincare business and marketing coach, copywriter, editor, and curriculum developer.” Not if I want the conversation to continue beyond “What?” or “Oh, that’s nice” (with a glazed over gaze).

I was able, years and years later, able to narrow it down to holistic skincare entrepreneur. OK fine, sometimes I get a little more descriptive, and I say holistic skincare coach, educator, formulator, and author. Those are all different descriptors of what I do. But really, my main thing is holistic and integrative skincare, and I run two businesses that serve people in that world.

But my multi-passionate entrepreneur self didn’t want to be pigeonholed.

Luckily, In that holistic skincare realm–which of course is part of the beauty, wellness, and health health industries–there are all sorts of different offshoots in which holistic skincare can spring into, which is a really good thing, because multi-passionate entrepreneurs tend to get bored easily! If this is you, you know what I mean.

Now, there are certainly some entrepreneurs who find their one thing, and they love that thing enough that they make a whole lifelong career out of it. And that is amazing if that’s you. That’s just not me.

Skincare is my thing now, and it probably always will be my main thing, because I keep coming back to it. That’s how I know that the way I’m meant to deliver my life’s purpose in this world. Whatever that “big plan” is, it’s through skincare. I just had to figure out what within skincare I wanted to do and how I wanted to do it.

And before I got to this point, I was one of those people who took a really long time to figure out what I wanted to do when I grew up. And I hear this from a lot of people who have their own businesses now as well. So I’m just going to tell you a little bit about how I got here.

But before I do that, I wanted to tell you that I now offer a free class called Skincare Business Crash Course. If your multi-passionate entrepreneurial spirit has an inkling of desire for starting a skincare business, or if you already have a business in the skincare world, and you want to see what else you can do with that that might include custom formulation, or having your own signature skincare brand, I can help you with that. Register HERE.

Back to the story of how I became a multi-passionate entrepreneur.

I want you to know that if you are a multi-passionate entrepreneur, it’s great. You’re perfect just the way you are. You don’t have to only focus on one thing, and feel like you’ll never be able to experience all of these amazing other things that you’re interested in and you’re passionate about in your life.

It’s really OK to have a lot of things that you love doing; but the biggest pitfall that I’ve seen, that I’ve observed from other multi-passionate entrepreneurs in my life, both friends and family members, as well as some things that I experienced in the earlier stages of my business, is that it can be a little bit distracting. When you find yourself getting bored with one thing and then moving on to another thing, you spread yourself really thin. It might seem like a lot gets done, but it doesn’t always get done effectively, well, efficiently, or cost effectively.

I tell the whole story of some of the challenges I experienced as a multi passionate person in this video:

Click HERE for a list of things I wish I knew before I started my businesses.

The moral of the story is that I found ways to infuse all of my loves–all of my passions–into my two businesses. They don’t always show up in the same ways, and I am sensitive to the fact that people come to me from diverse backgrounds–but I feel that as women, connecting with the Divine creatrix within is something that is so needed in today’s white male-dominated world.

Being a multi-passionate entrepreneur has helped me create a beautiful life.

Both my businesses are doing very well. And, I’m a mom. I have two girls who are amazing. They’re 13 and 10, and they’re ballet dancers, and one of them I actually homeschool. I actually am able to make time for all of that. I have time for these incredible growing businesses, which are like two other children in my life. But I also have time to be a very present mom for both my kids. I have time to be a very present wife for my husband. I have time for my pets and for my volunteer work. And I also do ballet myself, and I have time for that. I make time for it.

I think that being a multi-passionate entrepreneur is fantastic, because it makes you really good at multi-tasking. It makes you really good at coming up with quick solutions, and making strong connections that might not makes sense to everyone. But when you draw from different strengths that you’ve accumulated through all of these interests, and you’re able to unite them, it makes your thing really special and unique. And it makes you able to offer something that other people just can’t, because it is uniquely yours.

So if you are a multi-passionate entrepreneur, pat yourself on the back. Hug yourself. Because you’re awesome.

You have all of these incredible, incredible strengths and talents and interests and messages that you’re just dying to share with the world. And they’ve been sent to you for a reason. You’re the one who’s meant to deliver them.

But what I want to encourage you to do, instead of getting a little bit distracted and jumping around and having that butterfly shiny object syndrome, instead of just hopping from one thing to the next to the next to the next, see how you can connect them. See how you can make them a logical path. And see how all of these things can be your toolbox.

Are you a multi-passionate entrepreneur too?

I’d LOVE to know how you nurture all of your interests and how they enrich your business. If it’s something you find challenging, I’d love to hear about that too. Please share in the comments below!

 

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#HerbalAha Moments and other Highlights from the Herbal Skincare Summit

#HerbalAha Moments and other Highlights from the Herbal Skincare Summit

In case you missed it, last week, I hosted the first ever Herbal Skincare Summit (the live event is over, but you can purchase it and watch or listen anytime HERE!). In this virtual event, I brought together 18 herbalists, holistic health, and skincare experts to offer their stories, wisdom, inspiration, and practical tips for how to use the magic and science of herbs for clear, vibrant skin. I’ve been wanting to do a summit for a long time, but I wasn’t sure what I wanted to offer, since there are so many great summits out there! I didn’t want to say more of what’s already been said (at least not in the same way), and I’ll be honest–I don’t really like doing things the same way that have already been done.

We can always make the argument that there are no “original” ideas, because all creation comes from the same collective source consciousness.

Herbal Skincare Summit--Kami McBrideAnd I fully believe that, but, what I needed to figure out for myself was what message did this source consciousness intend to come through me? And in what way? And who else was meant to be involved? Obviously I was meant to talk about skincare–and skincare in a holistic way, of course. But “holistic skincare” is such a massive umbrella these days, which I am very happy about!

So many people are writing about it, teaching about it, and practicing it both personally and professionally, that the definition I assigned the term in my book Love Your Skin, Love Yourself back in 2013, has now become commonplace. At the Nutritional Aesthetics® Alliance, we had a discussion about what “holistic” really means, and while we were able to offer some different perspectives, we realized that it really still is such a large umbrella term that can mean so many things. And while not all definitions might be “right” to every person who identifies as holistic, all are a step in the “right” direction.

But none of this helped narrow things down for me! I didn’t want to just do a “holistic skincare” summit, because versions of that have already been done. So I began to do what I always do to help me brainstorm–I set my intention during meditation that I wanted to co-create something that was not only beneficial and inspirational, but also that was needed at the time it would be delivered. I also brought in my allies–my bearded dragons, my stones, and my herbs, because they also share in this same source consciousness.

I started spending more time outdoors, and was guided to have more conversations about skincare with plant and stone people, and that’s when I realized four things:

  • There are SO many ways nature can help the skin that aren’t being talked about enough
  • Skincare is healthcare–and not enough people understand that. There is still this misconception that caring about the skin means that you are in some way vain or superficial–even in the holistic and herbal community
  • Many of the lessons that nature teaches can’t be Googled–they are told through stories and must be experienced
  • Live interaction is a must

HSS Quote Card--Sarica CernohousThat’s how the idea to focus specifically on educating people not just about how to use herbs for healthy skin, but also on how to tap into herbal intuition and “earth wisdom” (as Herbal Skincare Summit speaker, Maia Toll would say), to learn from the plants. And to do that, we needed to tell stories. And I needed to do at least some of it live. So I decided to offer a live wrap up session on Facebook every evening of the Herbal Skincare Summit, to connect with people, and celebrate the teachings of each day. I truly think it was one of the best aspects of this summit–and since the videos are still there (click here to find and watch them), they help the good vibes spread farther and last longer.

So while each Herbal Skincare Summit speaker was invited to speak on the subject in the way that most resonated with them, I asked each for two things:

  • Their story–how did the plants first call to them and how did they come to do what they do?
  • Their favorite herb

And what I found when I was going through each interview, and what many Herbal Skincare Summit attendees emailed me to say, was that they learned just as much from the stories, as they did from the actual “content.” 

Personally, I was so inspired by the speakers, that as I went through the videos, I took an entire single subject, wirebound, college-ruled notebook full of notes. I wrote down quotes, herbs, ideas for recipes, and what l later described as “:#herbalaha” moments that came through as I was listening. I realized that in this notebook was something very special–a true treasure chest of collaborative gold that was co-created by the teachers, the plants, our attendees (all attendees were asked to share their favorite herbs and “herbalaha moments from the summit) and myself.

Here are just a couple of #herbalaha examples (and I’ve sprinkled a few others throughout this page 🙂

“As the skin is an organ of digestion, it actually tastes herbs. For each of the doshas, there are particular tastes that bring balance.” —Melanie Sachs

“We need to go back to the basics. We need to go back to what our great grandmothers were using 200 years before the chemical revolution.” —Tammie Umbel

“A lot of the time, we think if we see a little benefit in one thing, more is better. So we isolate it and boost it up–but then we’re missing the more balanced benefits that nature allows for us by using the whole plant.” —Dr. Trevor Cates

That notebook has so much love and positive energy infused into its pages, that I decided early during Summit Week (I did not plan it before), that I wanted to offer it back as a gift to those who purchase the Herbal Skincare Summit kit, as well as our speakers. So I am now working on turning it into the Herbal Skincare Summit Companion e-Book, which will be given exclusively to anyone who purchases the Herbal Skincare Summit kit.

I don’t have a release date yet, because it is a lot of information to compile and organize, and I want it to be a beautiful offering.

But if you already have purchased the Herbal Skincare Summit Kit, or would like to purchase it now (click HERE to do that), you will receive it once it is published. I am so excited to have this opportunity to continue to spread the goodness that was created by the Herbal Skincare Summit, to those who most want to receive it!

As I sit at my desk in a beautiful suite at a retreat in Palm Springs (this retreat was planned before the summit was, but the timing could not have worked out more perfectly that I’m here the week following the Herbal Skincare Summit), I’m reflecting on how peaceful, inspired, and happy I still feel from the summit. I treated myself to an in-room facial yesterday after I arrived (my airplane-dehydrated skin NEEDED it!), and was pleasantly surprised that the aesthetician who came, knew about the summit and had positive feedback. This event had such a positive impact, and it’s my mission to continue that.

After watching the Herbal Skincare Summit, I hope you fall in love–or deeper in love–with both your skin and the plants too!

Did you attend the Herbal Skincare Summit live or purchase the Kit?

What was your greatest #herbalaha moment? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!

A Simple Story About Small Gestures at Whole Foods Market

A Simple Story About Small Gestures at Whole Foods Market

This post is not about holistic skincare. And honestly I didn’t intend to write a blog post today. But something really cool just happened to me on the grocery line at Whole Foods Market that I wanted to share. And by the way, this isn’t the first time I’ve had good things happen at Whole Foods Market, which is the biggest reason I choose to shop there, despite the fact that they are certainly not the lowest priced store. Oh and if anyone from Amazon happens to read this…I truly hope you strive to keep the culture and ethos of Whole Foods that allows for cool things like this to keep happening.

But on this busy evening, I was so affected by this experience, that I put my groceries in my car, grabbed my laptop, and went back inside to write this.

It’s a simple story about small gestures, and I hope it makes you smile.

It was about 5 pm on a Monday evening, on the seventh day of Hanukkah and just days before Christmas. The store was crowded, and every single line was long. I got on what seemed to be the shortest of the long lines, and it was soon made clear that I had not chosen the fastest of the long lines. You know when you seem to get behind the person that has a TON of groceries, and then there are questions, or coupons, and conversation…and it just seems to take forever? Yup, that was the line I chose tonight. But as I looked around, I really had no idea if changing lines would have gotten me out of the store any sooner. So I decided to wait.

My makeshift Whole Foods Market “office” where I wrote this blog post after this event transpired.

I noticed that the cashier was very friendly, and was very chatty with each customer. That might annoy some customers–and I’ll admit, if I was in a rush, it would have annoyed me. But clearly I wasn’t in a rush because I’m literally sitting in the store, writing this now. The customers ahead of me had smiles on their faces as well, so clearly they were enjoying the conversation.

It was finally my turn–and I had a full cart full of groceries unloaded on the belt–when a gentleman came up behind me with only two things. I told him he should go ahead of me. He declined, saying I was there first, and that he didn’t mind waiting. I said, “no–you only have two things, please go ahead.” He thanked me, and as the cashier was finishing up with the customer ahead of me, the gentleman said to me “you know, I never mind waiting for her. She’s a kind and wonderful person.” Still, he went ahead, and the cashier recognized him immediately, came out from around the register to give him his receipt, bag, and a Happy Holidays hug.

I was finally up, and the cashier and I exchanged hellos. I asked how she was, and she said she was grateful to have woken up today, because not everyone got to. The rest of my checkout experience was pleasant–the cashier commented on how yummy this was, and what a great price on shampoo that was, and then complimented me for my fairly low bill, having chosen all organic foods, AND stocking up on shampoo (it was about $160 for a week’s worth of groceries and four bottles of haircare products for my family of four).

She then told me how much the store appreciated kind gestures like mine, and that my organic grape tomatoes were on the house.

I wanted to share this story for a couple of reasons.

1. We don’t always have to be in such a rush. It’s OK to wait on line sometimes, and it’s OK to be patient while others enjoy a nice conversation.

2. Have conversations. In this digital world, we all have a deficiency of human connection and actual conversation using spoken words. Take the time. Use your words. Make eye contact. Smile.

3. Do something nice just because. I didn’t let the gentleman go ahead of me to get free tomatoes. I simply didn’t see why he should have to wait for my big order. But it made him feel good, the cashier feel good, and me feel good. So one small thing positively affected three people.

4. Be kind to people in retail, restaurants, and at the checkout in the grocery store. Be kind to delivery people, sanitation workers, and customer service representatives. Always, yes, but especially during the holidays. They are working ridiculously long hours. Mostly on their feet. I know because I worked retail for a good 16 years of my life. I was yelled at, had things thrown at me, got cursed at, and witnessed extreme selfishness and pettiness–all for what? A few saved minutes? A couple of saved dollars? Come on.

The commercialization of the holidays has turned me into quite a grinch. But small moments like these–people slowing down, having kind conversations, and just being polite and decent, gave me faith that there are still good people out there.

Be one of them. Often.

Got any random acts of kindness or stories of humans being good humans to share?

I’d love to read about it in the comments below 🙂

*Image credit: Kate Ter Haar

 

Should You Use a Humidifier for Dry Skin? Maybe Not…

Should You Use a Humidifier for Dry Skin? Maybe Not…

There are a lot of things that signal to us that the seasons are changing–though it seems lately, the weather isn’t one of them. One of definitive sign though, is skincare articles about how to adjust your beauty routine to account for drier winter weather. Am I right? Once those pumpkin spice lattés start steaming, blogs abound without tips for how to combat common cold season skin woes. I’ve written articles about seasonal skin health here, and also on the Nutritional Aesthetics® Alliance’s blog, but today I wanted to approach it from a slightly different angle. This is also the time of year the humidifier comes out of the hall closet (at least in my house), so naturally, the topic of humidifiers has on my mind. I’ve had friends who swear by using a humidifier for dry skin, to get them through winter without their skin completely freaking out. I’ve even recommended humidifier use for my clients with super-dry skin.

However, it’s always been in the back of my mind–especially when I teach about microbial growth associated with excessive moisture in Create Your Skincare, that humidifiers pose risks as far as bacterial and fungal growth. So I decided to do a bit of research on the subject. Here’s what I found–both the pros and cons–of using a humidifier for dry skin.

Why use a humidifier for dry skin during winter months

During cold, winter months–whether it’s due to the fireplace or your heating system–indoor air has less moisture in it. From a dry throat or hacking cough, to chapped lips and bloody noses, you have surely experienced some of this wrath.

Many people use humidifiers to ease these symptoms. Humidifiers emit mist, thereby increasing the amount of water in the air of a given space. This can especially be helpful when dealing with winter colds (especially if your humidifier has an essential oil well), as the extra moisture helps to ease congestion. Some parents find this useful for easing cold symptoms in children who are too young for conventional medication, or who choose to try natural and holistic means before medications.

Not only can humidifiers help deal with symptoms of colds, some may even lend a hand in preventing them. The moisture in the air helps to maintain the mucus membrane that lines your nose and throat; part of your body’s important defense against respiratory infections.

In certain climates, dry conditions may persist all year long. Dryness can also result from air conditioning and heaters, so if you run yours most months of the year, your house my might be chronically dry.

In addition to your nose and throat, your skin is also affected by how much moisture there is in the air. You’ve probably experienced what your skin looks like in high humidity (for me the effects are pretty amazing). Well, winter dryness has the opposite effect, essentially dehydrating your skin–the dry air actually can “suck” the moisture out of your skin, which is technically called trans-epidermal water loss (known to us aestheticians as TEWL). Not only does this exaggerate the look of fine lines and wrinkles, it can also exacerbate skin conditions such as eczema and rosacea, and affect the skin’s immune function.

A good moisturizer containing rich emollients certainly helps!

Click HERE to learn to create and customize two simple, highly emollient skin moisturizers at home.

But if you’re constantly exposing your skin to dry conditions, it’s going to be an uphill battle. Thus, many people find it effective to humidify a room or two in their homes to mitigate dryness.

Types of humidifiers and their risks

Not all humidifiers are created equal. At the simplest level, humidifiers can be broken down into warm mist and cool mist.

Warm mist humidifiers create steam that cools before leaving the machine. The process of boiling the water before it enters the air kills off bacteria, making this type a generally more clean option.

Cool mist humidifiers vaporize but do not boil water. The pros of using this kind is that there is no risk of burning yourself, and they use less energy.

For parents who uses humidifiers in their kids’ rooms, cold mist if often preferred to prevent accidents. However, bacteria can accumulate quite quickly in standing water, and without boiling it first, this bacteria can be spread through the air, infection people in the room. 

Sicknesses contracted through airborne bacteria emitted from humidifiers is not common, but is more likely among the immunocompromised, children, and the elderly.

Some cool mist humidifiers use UV light to kill microbials. I found this Health article to be a pretty helpful guide to a few different brands and types of humidifiers on the market. Since I have not used these, I’m not endorsing a particular one, but it’s a good overview of some of the price points and features available.

In addition to the threat of bacterial build up, mineral build-up can also be a problem. There was a case study at the University of Utah on an infant who was injured by breathing in airborne minerals from a humidifier. In this regard, distilled water is the ideal choice for filling your humidifier. There are also some humidifiers that claim to inhibit mineral buildup, which you’ll find in the above Health article.

Regardless of which type of humidifier you use, you should wash it every three days or more often to prevent the growth of bacteria, and if it uses a filter, change it often. You should also avoid filling the humidifier with tap water, which is not microbe free. The best option is to boil the water first, or use distilled water.

I’ll also caution you that sometimes humidifiers break–and you won’t always see it coming. I remember one night when my older daughter was really little, she came into our room in the middle of the night because she couldn’t breathe. Why couldn’t she breathe? Because her warm mist humidifier went rogue and turned her bedroom into a tropical rainforest. It was literally raining from her ceiling, and we had to undergo preventative mold remediation just to be on the safe side. I will say though, that this particular humidifier was probably not the best quality–and as with most things in life, you get what you pay for.

But that dewy complexion though…

There are risks associated with using humidifiers, and I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night if I hadn’t communicated them in addition to their benefits. However, with proper usage and cleaning, they really can be an amazing tool for getting through the winter,

The American Osteopathic College of Dermatology recommends a humidity level between 45 and 55 percent. Running central air in your home can reduce it down to a whopping 10 percent! This is a serious difference and can really affect your skin and respiratory health.

So many people trudge through winters, cursing how dry their skin looks and feels everyday. Dull, dry, lifeless… it’s not a fun look OR feeling. I don’t suffer as much now that I make my own skincare and am pretty diligent about my diet, but I still have my days.

In addition to drinking lots of water, using a heavier moisturizer, and limiting your time in steamy showers, consider adding a humidifier to your routine. Choose the type that’s best for you and clean it and change the filters often, and you may be on your way to taking your best holiday photo yet.

Do you notice a difference when you use a humidifier for dry skin? Positive or negative?

Please share your experience in the comments below!

 

Sources:

http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20332894,00.html

https://www.livestrong.com/article/231822-will-a-humidifier-help-my-dry-skin/

https://www.gaiam.com/blogs/discover/why-humidify-and-which-type-of-humidifier-is-best

http://time.com/4685972/humidifier-disinfectants-bacteria-water/

Matt Freije – ‘Home Humidifiers – Reducing Your Exposure to Harmful Bacteria’

Image credits:

“What One Sees” by Ryan Cadby, “Drought” by Katie Tegtmeyer, “Plume” by Ryan Hyde

The Lung-Skin Connection: Part 1

The Lung-Skin Connection: Part 1

Ah, the great outdoors! I wouldn’t be a true holistic health advocate if I didn’t wholeheartedly believe in the power of getting outside and experiencing nature. But in our current climate of car-clogged highways and pollution-exuding factories that never sleep, sometimes outdoor air isn’t exactly fresh. Does that mean we should spend more time indoors? Hardly. Indoor quality is often just as polluted, if not moreso, than outdoor air. When we breathe in polluted air, day in and day out, our bodies must work overtime to remove them. Out of the five main detoxifying organs of the body (kidneys, lungs, colon, liver, and skin), the lungs and the skin tend to become most taxed in the presence of constant air pollution. While all of our organs and systems are interdependent on each other for optimal functioning, the lung-skin connection often gets ignored.

You hear a lot about associations between skin health and heart, liver, gut, and endocrine health. But when our lung health is compromised, we our skin reacts too, often with chronic dryness, eczema flare-ups, and premature signs of aging such as hyperpigmentation, fine lines, and wrinkles. While our organs all perform multiple tasks to keep us healthy, the lungs and the skin have those of respiration and detoxification in common. 

The lung-skin connection is well known in Eastern healing modalities.

Both Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine share the school of thought that says that skin eruptions and flare-ups that occur on certain areas on the face are linked with certain health issues. Sometimes called face mapping, it tells us that we see pimples popping up on a certain area of our face, it’s a signal that we need to be examining different areas of our health.

Acute flare-ups and sudden skin changes are more often associated with the liver, however more chronic skin issues are associated with the lungs. The lungs are associated with air, metal, and movement. When toxicants enter into the lungs, they must be expelled, otherwise they can build up and cause stagnation, mucus build-up, and inflammation. The skin, too, acts as a semipermeable barrier between outside pollutants and our inner organs. If the skin can’t “breathe” due to overexposure to toxicants or improper usage of skincare products, then similar stagnation-related problems also occur.

Lung health and wrinkles

It’s widely known that smoking has a powerful negative affect on the appearance and health of the skin.

Click HERE to read about how smoking affects the skin.

But toxicants in the air also take a huge toll on the way we age, and there have been a couple studies that have demonstrated this.

The Journal of Investigative Dermatology published a study that examined 400 women between 70 and 80 years old for signs of skin aging. They also took into consideration where these women lived and took measurements of general traffic emissions as well as ambient particles from fixed monitoring sites.

Here’s the one I thought was hilarious. They also tested dust in the women’s homes and analyzed it for pollutants. Imagine having your home scientifically analyzed for how clean or dirty it was. What a nightmare!

But I digress. Using what they measured about these women’s environments and how much their skin had aged, they found that air pollution was significantly linked to visible signs of skin aging, including hyperpigmentation, age spots, and wrinkles.

Traffic pollution was associated with twenty percent more age spots on the forehead and cheeks, and all types of pollution were found to be linked with more pronounced smile lines.

Now, women are beautiful no matter how we age, and our worth is certainly not correlated with how deep our wrinkles are. I am, however, realistic in knowing that for many women, this is a concern. If knowing these statistics motivates you to take care of your lungs, I’m happy.

Another study published in the Journal of Dermatological Science reviewed pollution and skin. They looked at research that had been done so far, collaborating with experts on environmental health, clinical research in dermatology and cosmetic dermatology. They looked only at studies that examined the effects of pollution on skin.

Their findings confirmed that air pollution damages skin, ozone depletes skin antioxidants, and that pollution-induced skin damage is a global problem.

The air, your lungs, and your skin

The EPA has a grim list of potential risks associated with breathing bad air. It’s not pretty.

Ozone, nitrogen dioxide, particulate matter, and sulfur dioxide are among some of the airborne materials that can irritate or damage lung tissue, putting you at greater risk for infections. Repeated or high levels of exposure to some of these can cause permanent damage, cancer, or even premature death.

Many of these symptoms aren’t observed right away. During fire events it’s more obvious that air quality is low, but on a normal day you may not be aware that what you’re breathing isn’t totally healthy.

Air quality isn’t something we have much control over, but we can benefit from being aware of our local air quality, its fluctuations, and knowing what we can do to help our lungs stay healthy.

Where’s the good air?

Different factors affect the air quality in the place you live, such as topography (valleys tend collect smog), amount of cars on the road, density of trees, number of factories and other high-emission buildings, and incidents of fires.

My friend Dr. Trevor Cates wrote an article on air quality and health and in it she shared this awesome resource for checking the air quality in your city. Don’t worry– if your city doesn’t score well, you’re not completely doomed. I share this because it’s always better to know what you’re dealing with, so you can put some attention on nurturing and protecting your lungs.

Depending on where you live, the air quality inside your house and can actually be worse! In fact, the EPA ranks indoor air quality among the top five environmental risks to public health. Off-gassing of chemicals from carpet and furniture, household cleaning supplies, as well as toxins brought into the house on clothing and shoes can accumulate and wreak havoc on your home air quality.

Here are some solutions for dealing with poor air quality both inside and outside the home:

Outdoor air pollution:

  • Avoid exercising on high pollution days or near heavy traffic areas.
  • Spend time in your local forests or highly vegetated areas.
  • Do your part to improve the air quality in your region! Reduce your use of wood burning stoves, drive as little as possible and don’t idle your vehicle, and support local efforts to reduce pollution.

Indoor air pollution:

  • Open your windows whenever possible to circulate fresh air throughout your space.
  • Invest in an air purifier, especially if your outdoor air quality is poor and thus opening the windows isn’t always the ideal solution.
  • Fill your house with plants that clean the air such as Spider Plant and Dracaena
  • Vacuum often if you have carpet.
  • Diffuse essential oils, especially those that support the lungs (keep reading to find out which herbs I recommend!)

In next week’s post, we’ll continue this discussion, and I’ll share some herbs with you that you can use to support healthy lung and skin health inside and out.

I’d love to hear from you!

Have you noticed a lung-skin connection in your own health? Please share in the comments below.

References:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3230460/

https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-qualityiaq

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25278222https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20664556

https://www.annmariegianni.com/pollution-and-skin-aging/https://www.annmariegianni.com/plants-that-clean-the-air/

Image credits: Air-pollution.JPG: Zakysant at the German, designmilk 

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