A Natural Beauty Buff…Who, Me?

A Natural Beauty Buff…Who, Me?

natural beauty buff kimberly locI’ve been doing my work for quite a few years now, and I’ve done quite a few interviews and guest features for other blogs and publications. I’m always flattered when I’m asked for an interview or to contribute to an article, and I’m especially tickled when it’s a site that I really love and already read like KimberlyLoc.com. Kim talks about natural beauty and skincare products, sure, but she also talks about fun topics like food and style and has a great writing style. So when she asked to read my book and if I’d like to be featured as one of her Natural Beauty Buffs, it was a no-brainer.

I used to do a lot of product reviews on HH, but since my business has taken off I hardly do them. Plus I really prefer talking about products I love that I already buy and use regularly, so when Kim asked for 8 of my go-to favorite holistic products, why I love them, and how/when I use them I was excited to oblige!

Here are the natural beauty products I selected:


  1. ab.so.lute minerals™ softLINES™ eyeliner pencil by DeVita Skin Care
  2. Lavera Naturkosmetik’s Trend Sensitiv Natural Liquid Foundation
  3. doTERRA® Pepperment Beadlets
  4. Eco Tints tinted lip balm:
  5. Dr. Bronner’s Magic “All-One” Organic Fair Trade Hair Crème
  6. Body Ecology™ CocoBiotic Natural Probiotic with Coconut Water
  7. NeoCell’s Super Collagen Types 1&3 powder
  8. NeoCell’s Hyaluronic Acid Blueberry liquid 

To find out why I love them as well as how and when I use them, click on over to my feature on Kim’s blog:

Natural Beauty Buff, Rachael Pontillo, Holistically Haute

LYS final front coverOn another note, I was extremely touched by Kim’s comments about my book, Love Your Skin, Love Yourself. She liked my “girlfriend to girlfriend” writing style and said “I felt like I was having a conversation with a best friend while reading her book!” That warms my heart because that’s exactly how I hope all readers feel about the book. She also also referred to me as a “pioneer within the broader green beauty industry whom I admire and must reach know more about.” …which I have to say leaves me a bit speechless, I’m so humbled and touched.

I want to extend a huge thank you to Kim Wallace of www.kimberlyloc.com and I encourage you to browse through her blog…it’s so much fun and has such great information!

What We Do for Youth and Beauty…What Will They Say in 100 Years?

What We Do for Youth and Beauty…What Will They Say in 100 Years?

Here I am, makeup-free and unretouched :)

Here I am, makeup-free and unretouched.

I was recently looking on Facebook for some interesting articles and images to share on my page, and I happened to come upon a link that Jennifer Devlin, of Celtic Complexion, shared with her readers. This link shows how the hosts of The Today Show promoted the idea of Makeup-Free Mondays by appearing on screen makeup-free and by showing photos of how they look before and after having professional hairstyling, makeup artistry, and lighting–both the men and women participated! Funny little side note…The Today Show promoted the event on social media using the hashtag #loveyourselfie…maybe I should have named my book “Love Your Skin, Love Your Selfie” 😉

Anyway, this got me thinking about beauty and cosmetics trends in general–especially since it was the theme of my most recent webinar, “Return to Refinement.” In this webinar, Barbara Sherf of Capture Live Stories and I certainly spoke about beauty and fashion trends–particularly how changes in society and world events dictated changes in fashion, the changing images and roles of women in society, and how women presented themselves to the world.

As I researched trends in skincare and beauty over the decades certain themes really stood out.

First, I was actually really happy to see how some of the all-natural ingredients women used decades ago to tone and moisturize their skin, like rosewater, witch hazel, and cocoa butter–are some of the ingredients I use in my all natural and organic skincare products today. I really enjoy keeping old traditions alive and passing along their benefits.

Well…not all traditions.

The second idea that jumped out at me was how CRAZY and downright toxic some of the ingredients and methods used back then for youth and beauty were! For instance, in Edwardian, pre-World War I. times, makeup was scarcely worn–mostly because much of it hadn’t been invented yet–but also because society was very conservative and austere and when it came to skin, pale was in.

Pale was in for a couple of reasons, which we thoroughly discussed in the webinar, but mostly because women wanted to appear high class–regardless of their actual stations in life–and if one’s skin was tan, that implied that she worked either outside or around dirt, soot, or grease. One of the crazy things women did to get their pale pallor was to add white liquid lead-based enamel to a fat and apply it as an early form of foundation.

Atropa belladonna...AKA "deadly nightshade"

Atropa belladonna…AKA “deadly nightshade”

Another trend was to appear “bright-eyed”–which was likened to youthful. To achieve this look, women put drops of belladonna–AKA deadly nightshade into their eyes to dilate their pupils. Belladonna can be extremely toxic, and has been known to cause fits of delirium and hallucinations. Awesome ideas, right? Not so much.

What women did for the sake of beauty…and what we do today.

This led me to consider measures some women take today to enhance their beauty or appear more youthful. Today we look back 100 years and laugh about some of the crazy things women did to themselves for beauty but what will people say about us in 100 years?

Think about it.  Women today wear more kinds of makeup–much of which didn’t even exist 20 years ago, nevermind 100 years ago. Most women today have no worries about the safety of the makeup they buy–well, you might since you’re smarter than most women 😉 But in truth, there are plenty of makeup companies today who still put lead, coal tar, and other CRAZY toxic ingredients in their products, market the heck out of them, and sell them with no care or consequence.

What about skin treatments?

ASCP10_14Getting zapped with lasers, burned with acids, and shot full of botulism and proteins from farm animals? All in the name of beauty and youth. Why is this considered any less crazy today than some of the ingredients and techniques used a century ago? And why is it primarily women who take these risks and endure the discomfort? I know that more men are getting spa treatments and worrying about looking younger these days than they did in the past…but the overwhelming majority of beauty and anti-aging clients are still women, and they start getting these treatments now younger than ever. Look at certain celebrities in the media…why on earth would a beautiful twenty–or even thirty–something actor need Botox or fillers? Come on now.

The funny thing is that none of it will matter, because in 100 years there won’t be any realistic photographs or videos of how people looked today because of the wonders of lighting, editing, and Photoshop.

All women have the ability to be beautiful–I truly believe that–but it must start within.

And there’s nothing wrong with aging. We’re all doing it–it’s inevitable, and the less we stress about fighting it, the better off we’ll be. I don’t know who ever decided that beauty and youth equate goodness and value of character, but I’ll tell you what: that’s just CRAZY.

I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes about how to attain true beauty:

children holding hands“For attractive lips, speak words of kindness.
For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people.
For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.
For beautiful hair, let a child run their fingers through it once a day.
For poise, walk with the knowledge that you never walk alone.
People, more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed. Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, you will find one at the end of each of your arms.
As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself and the other for helping others.”Sam Levenson

Need help figuring out what beauty treatments are right for you?

Click HERE to take the Beauty Archetype Quiz to learn your Beauty Archetype and get your personalized Beauty Archetype Prescription free!

*Image 3 courtesy of the ASCP

Fresh & Fabulous Makeup in 5 Minutes or Less!

Fresh & Fabulous Makeup in 5 Minutes or Less!

11460479-sleepy-womanThis morning I had one of “those” mornings. Between getting the kids fed, dressed and ready for school, feeding the lizards (yes we have two now), starting a fire in the fireplace (it was seven degrees this morning), and opening up my inbox to 100 emails; I nearly forgot I had a shopping date with my friend and co-presenter, Barb Sherf! We had planned to meet at a lovely boutique that sells really wonderful period-inspired clothes, accessories, and home decor items.

Barb and I all dressed up for our event promo

Barb and I all dressed up for our event promo

The store was having a 50% off sale and we needed to find props and supplies for our upcoming Flashback: Beauty and Fashion Through the Ages presentations. This is an event theme we’ve done live and will also do as a webinar where we explore the evolution of beauty and fashion trends from the early 20th century to the present. Barb discusses the fashion and accessories and I talk about the different beauty practices women had during each decade–some are great and I think should make a comeback (like avoiding excessive sun exposure!), and others were downright scary (like mixing white lead enamel into one’s foundation or cocoa butter to “brighten” the complexion–yikes!).

No time for makeup? No problem!

Anyway, I digress…the point is that I completely forgot I had to meet her and didn’t have time to do my usual daytime makeup–I literally had five minutes before I had to leave. So I decided to give my face a super quick and moisturizing oil cleansing, and do my own version of the “five-minute face.” All I used was my mineral foundation, mascara, blush, and lip gloss.

Step 1: I began by using a flat-tipped “buff” brush to apply and the mineral foundation all over my face. Most mineral powder foundation covers quite well, which is great for mornings like today, when I didn’t have time for concealer.

Step 2: I then used a fluffy blush brush to apply the blush (Colour by Osmosis in Summer Rose) lightly to my cheeks, along my hairline, on my nose, and along my jawline.

Step 3: I then applied mascara (also by Osmosis) to my top and bottom lashes.

Step 4: Last, I applied my lip gloss, which had a bit of a shimmer (it was Youngblood‘s lip gloss in Brilliance).

See how easy that was?

‌fiveminuteface1Just four steps in less than five minutes gave me even skin with a natural finish (not shiny, but not overly matte), a little bit of fresh color, lightly defined eyes, and a bit of shine on the lips. By the way, it might seem like a time saver to use regular lipstick or lip gloss to add color to the cheeks and eyes but I DON’T recommend it–you don’t want to use something meant for the mouth on the face and you definitely don’t want to use it in the eye area because bacteria from the mouth can cause breakouts or infections on the face or in the eyes. It’s best to keep these products separate for hygienic reasons.

Makeup flashback…

While this has been my go-to makeup-in-a-rush routine for many years, it’s also similar to a look that was commonly used by women a century ago in the post-Victorian/World War I-ish era. Back then, they didn’t really have much makeup. Most of the different types of makeup we take for granted today hadn’t yet been invented, and color on the skin was kept to a bare minimum.

papier poudre“Proper” ladies avoided the sun and powdered their faces as white as they could get them (rice powder or Papier Poudre–“powdered paper” sheets, which are still available, by the way, were often used), but they did allow little flushes of color on the “apples” of their cheeks and lips. They pinched their cheeks and used little pots of rouge, which was often made using crushed flower petals and beet juice (carmine was used later) to get a rosy glow–never too much though, as wearing color on the face at the time (before the roaring 20s) was reserved for actresses and…gasp…prostitutes. Though mascara as we know it didn’t yet exist, some women did choose to darken their lashes with the black residue left from burning matches.

Though their routine was simple, I’d certainly bet it took those ladies more than five minutes since they didn’t have all the convenient tubes, wands, brushes, and other tools to apply their products with like we have now.

So next time you’re in a rush but don’t want to leave the house bare-faced, try the quick routine above. It’s also great to keep those products in your purse too for quick touch ups during the day if you need them.

*Papier Poudre image from their website.

Downton-Inspired Beauty and Fashion Flashback–Video Inside!

Downton-Inspired Beauty and Fashion Flashback–Video Inside!

I think I need to wear fascinators more often.

I think I need to wear fascinators more often.

Hi, my name is Rachael and I’m a Downton Abbey-aholic.

There. I’ve said it. And I have a bit of a confession…I actually sacrificed my beauty sleep for a few weeks to watch seasons 1-3 on DVD over the past month and a half in an effort to get caught up before season 4 starts in the US in January.

I was interested in the show when I first heard of it, but didn’t watch for whatever reason. I tried to watch it later on when it started winning awards and I saw my friends posting picture of their Downton-inspired tea parties and table settings–and especially when I noticed the return of Edwardian-style accessories in high end department stores and boutiques but I wasn’t able to find it On Demand–I don’t know why it didn’t dawn on me at the time to just go to the library and check out the DVDs!

Well once my friend and colleague, Barbara Sherf, of Capture Life Stories started hosting Downton-inspired events (most for charity) in the Philadelphia area, I finally asked her: “What’s the big deal about Downton Abbey?” She looked at me blankly like “what rock have you been living under?”…and simply suggested I go to the library and rent the first season. Well I did and I watched the whole thing in three nights. It’s not just that the acting and the story and set are gorgeous…which of course they are…but oh my, the fashion and accessories and makeup (actually, the lack of makeup) really drew me in.

Little known fact about me:

Barb and I before our presentation.

Barb and I before our presentation.

When I was a kid, I wanted to be a fashion designer when I grew up. I was fortunate to go to a high school that offered fashion design and clothing construction in addition to regular home economics-type classes, and I spent the first two years of college as a fashion design major. Well my career obviously took a different path, but my love for fashion and fashion history will always remain. So when Barb asked me to co-host the Downton Abbey Fashion Flashback event this past month, I immediately said yes. We went to a local boutique that specializes in high end period-inspired clothing and accessories and got to dress up and have a fun photo shoot to promote the event.

Though I love talking about fashion history, I still wanted to contribute something to the discussion that was more in line with what I do today–holistic skincare. Since the women in the show and in many old photographs had beautiful skin, I decided to do a little research myself and add in a brief history of trends in beauty, cosmetics, and skincare practices of each era of the 20th century, starting with the pre-World War I Edwardian era.

Rocking my Edwardian era-inspired hair.

Rocking my Edwardian era-inspired hair.

It was amazing to see how at first society, caste systems, and lifestyle influenced skincare and beauty trends–not to mention the fact that this was at the very beginning of the Industrial Revolution, so skincare regimens were very simple and often used ingredients from nature that I use in my apothecary skincare products today. Of course they had some beauty practices that were downright scary, since they didn’t know about long-term toxic effects of substances like lead–but it was still cool to see.

Are we better off now, or were the Downton Abbey era ladies better off?

As the years progressed and women became less influenced by social mores and their peers and more influenced by the burgeoning advancements in printed media, film, radio, and later on, television, it was fascinating to see how the trends changed as the social roles of women changed. Ingredients in cosmetics changed too, from nearly all natural to now nearly all chemical. We can also draw comparisons to how changes in the food industry also followed a similar time frame, beginning with 100% whole foods and ending up today with the majority of foodstuffs available being processed and full of chemicals. Given the amount of chronic skin conditions we have today, plus autoimmune diseases, allergies, chronic, an acute diseases…I’m not sure we’re really any better off now than women were back then. What do you think?

Barb and I really enjoyed presenting together, and I loved how some women who attended the event brought along their own collected treasures. We saw vintage lipstick holders, purse-sized perfume atomizers and bottles, combs that folded into tapestry-covered cases, and more goodies.

Vintage ladies' treasures

Vintage ladies’ treasures

Even though I wasn’t alive when ladies used accessories like these, I got a really strong sense of nostalgia from the energies these pieces still carried…who knows, maybe I owned them or pieces like them in a prior lifetime!

Barb and I will continue to host Downton-inspired events locally in the Philadelphia area (get on the list HERE), and we’ll also do a presentation similar to our last event as a HH webinar early in 2014 (get on that list HERE).

Click HERE for a fun video clip from our first Downton Abbey Beauty and Fashion Flashback event.

7 Ways to Have a Healthy…But Still Happy Halloween!

7 Ways to Have a Healthy…But Still Happy Halloween!

jack o lantern Daryl MitchellAre you loving the warm colors but cool weather of October? I enjoy October for several reasons…lots of fun trade shows to attend, collecting leaves with the kids, my older daughter’s birthday…and Halloween. Yes…I still love Halloween even though I don’t advocate a sugar-filled extravaganza. I’m all about having a healthier Halloween that you and the kids will love.

I know Halloween is just one day, but many families choose to celebrate it all month long by decorating with jack-o-lanterns, spiderwebs, and skeletons, having parties, and telling stories. That’s why I decided to share my two cents on how to enjoy Halloween festivities in a healthy but still FUN way–and I’m not just referring to cutting down on sweets!

5 Tips for a Healthy and Happy Halloween

1. Buy candy that you don’t like. This eliminates the possibility of eating the leftovers after the parties are done and trick-or-treaters have passed.

2. Don’t go to a Halloween party on an empty stomach. This applies to kids and adults–if you know your kids are going to have a party at school with candy and other sugary treats, send them to school with a fully tummy of a healthy breakfast. Some ideas are green or fresh fruit smoothies, brown rice cereal or rolled oats with fresh fruit, or farm fresh eggs from pasture-raised chickens. If it’s an after school or after work party, fill up at home with a healthy snack or early dinner. You’ll be much less likely to want to scarf down the candy!

3. Plan traditional games for parties. Did you know that in the days of celebrating Halloween of yore, apples played a big part of the festivities? Try adding fun games like bobbing for apples or “apple on a string.” It’s fun for kids but even more fun watching adults join in…especially after enjoying some home-brewed hard spiced apple cider!

Rachael Pontillo Halloween4. Choose wigs and natural/organic makeup for dressing up. Those multi-colored face paints and hair sprays are full of toxic chemicals like heavy metals, coal tar dyes, parabens, and noxious fumes that get absorbed into the skin and also into the body via inhalation. My kids wear wigs and we use my natural mineral makeup for all our dressing up needs. Check out my spooky Halloween makeup from a few years back.

5. Give out non-candy goodies like stickers, Halloween-colored Rainbow Loom bands, or Halloween-themed pencils and erasers to trick or treaters and for school parties. These will go over way better than handing out boxes of raisins or small change–trust me.

6. Make treats for parties from scratch. Try making pies from fresh, real seasonal ingredients like apples, pumpkins, hazelnuts, and pure maple syrup. Candy apples are as delicious dipped in pure honey or organic dark chocolate as they are dipped in caramel. Homemade applesauce, apple butter, spiced apple cider tea, or even apple wine are other delicious and somewhat healthier Halloween treats. You can also make smoothies or ice pops out of seasonal fruits like apples, pears, cranberries, and pomegranates to balance out your menu in a refreshing, colorful, and antioxidant-rich way.

apple cider tea7. Add extra fermented foods to your diet–this will add more good guys (probiotics) to your system to boost digestion, immunity, and your body’s ability to detox. I’m currently brewing an apple cider-flavored kombucha–my favorite way to take my probiotics 🙂

For more about how to have a healthier Halloween, check out these prior HH Halloween posts:

Halloween is Coming…Time to Prepare for the Madness

Treat Yourself to a Healthier Halloween

*Image 1 credit: Daryl Mitchell

Are Your Products Affecting Your Emotions?

Are Your Products Affecting Your Emotions?

My definition of holistic skincare is: “using nutrition and healthy lifestyle choices in addition to high quality, natural skincare products to nourish and protect the skin from the inside out and outside in.” makeup bag

Part of holistic skincare also involves reducing exposure to toxic chemicals in skincare, household cleaning and personal care products, as well as in the foods we eat. I’ve written quite a bit here on Holistically Haute and in my book, Love Your Skin, Love Yourself, about reducing exposure to chemicals such as pesticides and parabens because of research linking cumulative build-up of these substances to physical diseases in the body. To be honest though, I’ve never really thought about how these toxins affect other aspects of our health—particularly our emotional health.

Fortunately, I have the best readers in the world.

Not only are you gorgeous, like-minded, and supportive, but you also ask really great questions! I received the following email from Desiree*:

CB002069“I just read your blog about the Body Shop and their butters and parabens. I know that hormones can make you feel crazy and lately my moods have been all over the place.  I have now stopped using my Mango and Strawberry butters after learning that they contain parabens and other xenoestrogens. It has only been a few weeks and I already feel calmer, less irritable, less stressed…etc. Could you speak about the effects of xenoestrogens on emotional liability? Is it possible that the body butters caused my ‘craziness?’” –Desiree, age 50

As I started researching this online I found myself drowning in information and not knowing where to start. I decided to call for backup, and I asked my friend and colleague, Alicia Kushmaul, to help me research this topic and organize the findings, so thank you for your help with this Alicia!

As we both delved into this topic, we realized that not only is there a ton of information on the Internet from sources of varying reliability, but also that this topic has several layers. We decided to answer Desiree’s question in more than one post—at this point it might just be two, but who knows…it could be three. We will see.

Let’s start at the beginning. What is xenoestrogen?

“Xeno” literally means foreign. Xenoestrogens mean foreign estrogens. Xenoestrogens are man-made chemical compounds which mimic the effect of estrogen in the human body. These differ from phytoestrogens which occur naturally in many plant foods—certain vegetables, legumes, and grains.

drugsXenoestrogens are found everywhere. They are in conventionally grown foods and non-organic skincare and personal care products (pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, food additives, preservatives, some chemical sunscreens ingredients), pharmaceutical drugs (birth control pills, hormone replacement therapy drugs, certain other medications and vaccines), plastics (food storage containers, water bottles, product containers), household cleaning products, you get the picture. That’s an overwhelming list! I’m not trying to overwhelm you…but I do want you to be aware of the dominance of these substances in products that affect many aspects of our lives.

How do xenoestrogens affect us?

Xenoestrogens are endocrine (hormone) disruptors that interfere with hormonal signaling. There is published research that shows links to increased risk of breast, prostate, and reproductive cancers; thyroid dysfunction, reduced fertility, early puberty in children, menstrual irregularities, endometriosis, heart disease, and other disorders.

Back to Desiree’s question…we know how much hormones affect the emotions and stability of mood without even having to do heavy research. Just think of the mood swings that occur in women during certain parts of the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, while breastfeeding, and during menopause—and that happens naturally on its own without adding any chemicals into the mix.

When you consider a woman’s naturally occurring hormone levels, add in phytoestrogens from food sources and the estrogens consumed via animal food sources, and then add the constant barrage of xenoestrogens in our foods, products, andenvironment, it’s easy to see how health issues—both physical and mental/emotional—are so much more prevalent than they were even 20 years ago.

fearHere are some symptoms of estrogen dominance that don’t get as much attention as some of the “bigger” ones like cancer that may be a result of xenoestrogen overload:

  • Mood swings—sometimes extreme and persistent leading to mood disorders
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Reduced libido
  • Foggy thoughts
  • Cravings for sugar, alcohol, and other substances
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Insomnia

The next post about xenoestrogens will help you further identify them in products you may have in your home, office, or school and will also offer some practical tips for how to reduce your exposure.

What do you think?

Have you ever noticed a difference in your mood after using a certain product or eating a certain food? Please leave a reply below with your thoughts.


*Name has been changed for privacy.

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