Prep Your Legs for Tights Season

Prep Your Legs for Tights Season

It’s time to recognize that there is no good time of year to skimp on leg skin and hair care…

I’m going to let you in on a little secret: I take better care of the skin on my legs and I shave more often in the winter than I do in the summer. Possibly an unpopular practice, sure, but if there is one thing I cannot stand, it is two-day-old stubble trying to fight its way through my tights or pressed back into itself as a result of tight jeans. Amiright?

I may be in the minority here — it seems like everyone thinks you only need to take care of your legs when you’re wearing skirts, shorts and dresses because, well, more of your leg is exposed than when you’re rocking fleece-lined, heattech tights — but I’d argue that a little extra body hair when it’s hot out and no one is touching your legs is preferable to the aforementioned torture chamber combo of dry winter skin + prickly hair + pants. And in case you’re a skeptic, know the internet has my back. There are many subreddits dedicated to getting to the bottom of why leg hair hurts after wearing tight pants and hosiery, and Urban Dictionary even has a definition for what we in the know like to call “Skinny Jean-Leg Hair Syndrome”:

This is not a joke, people! It’s time get on team Winter Leg Care > Summer Leg Care with me. Or at the very least, it’s time to recognize that there is no good time of year to skimp on leg skin and hair care despite that whole “oh, this? I’m growing it out to keep my legs warm while I hibernate this winter” approach to self-care November through March.

Exfoliate like your life depends on it.

Not really, but exfoliating is key to keeping your legs happy and healthy this winter. You already know how skin works  — cells die, new cells generate, circle of life, etc. etc. — which means you know that dead skin need to be taken care of so that new, healthy cells underneath can breathe and see the light of day. If you don’t, dead cells build up on the skin’s surface and leave you looking like an alligator and feeling like sandpaper.

What’s more, the thing about dead, dry skin is that it’s incredibly uncomfortable. That itchy feeling you’re always fighting during cold months? It’s your skin trying to get your attention so it can tell you to moisturize. All of which is amplified when friction and static come into play, both of which are uber-present any time you slip into a pair of fitted pants. Trust me, those patterned tights aren’t as cute when you’re obsessively trying to scratch through them to get to the dry skin underneath.

SO! Exfoliate. Make sure that dead skin doesn’t have a chance to stick around. Depending on how sensitive your skin is, feel free to exfoliate as often as every day (every few days if your skin is reactive). My favorite approach is the good old dry brush pre-shower because it genuinely feels awesome, gets my blood flowing and is a formidable opponent to dead, dry skin. More of a scrub girl? Opt for a sugar-based one (salt may be too drying) that also contains hydrators like coconut or almond oil so it backs a two-for-one punch of exfoliating and moisturizing the skin. 

Hydrate like your life depends on it.

This one is for real. You should be moisturizing your legs in one way or another Every. Dang. Day. Do it in the morning before you get dressed. Do it again at night before bed. Do it after you shower. Do it while you shower. Do it during your lunch break. I don’t care when or how, but you’ve gotta be upping the hydration game come winter or your poor legs will die of thirst and then you will be a healthy skin murderer. Can you live with yourself after something like that?

Not only will proper moisture keep the skin on your legs not-murdered, but it’ll also go a long way when it comes to the health of the hair on your legs, should you choose to forgo shaving/waxing/removal of all kinds.

You see, a lot of the discomfort you feel during winter is due to the fact that when you put on tight pants, leggings, tall socks and tights, they’re actually pushing any existent leg hair in the opposite direction of its natural growth. This means that as long as you’re wearing those bottoms, your leg hair is forcibly being bent “against the grain.” It’s like when you wear your hair in a high, tight ponytail all day and when you finally take it out, it’s as if your hair hurts. Same thing is happening with your legs: after being stuck in an unnatural position, your nerves and skin sensors start to act up.

Unfortunately, this is kind of inevitable if your pants are tight enough and your hair is long enough to poke through the skin’s surface. But a really easy way to make it less painful is to keep your leg hair conditioned. Yup, I said it. Condition your leg hair. No, you don’t need to (nor should you) use the same stuff you’re putting on your head every few days to keep it soft and detangled. Instead, you want to make sure that whatever you’re using to hydrate your skin is also doing something for your hair and follicles to soften ‘em up and make that whole pushed-in-the-wrong-direction thing more bearable. (The softer the hair, the less painful.)

If you’ve found a body lotion or heavy-duty cream or balm you like, stick with it. Products like this work well, sink in quickly and leave skin moisturized. But if you want to really do work on your skin and hair, consider a body oil instead. Since oils are rich in essential fatty acids, they’re kind of like vitamins for the hair and skin of your legs. They’ll keep both moisturized, hydrated and soft, which will leave you free to wear all the hair-pushing tight pants you want.

Your life doesn’t depend on it, but hair removal is a nice finishing touch.

If that’s your thing, of course. If not, do you. But if you’re like me and can’t stand the feeling of stubble dragging against your tights every time you move or do not wish to suffer from Skinny Jean-Leg Hair Syndrome, remove the stuff. Not only will it mean not having to deal with the pain of hair follicles pressed in the wrong direction for hours, but the right razor will also help remove the top layer of dead skin (bonus exfoliant!) and prime your legs to receive moisturizer or oil.

And if nothing else, just think about how fun it’ll be to have secretly awesome-feeling legs in the dead of winter. Take a minute to look around come February and I’d bet good money you’ll be able to spot at least a few poor souls trying to bore holes throught their pants to get at that patch of dry skin. Just smile to yourself, thank the body oil gods you remembered to moisturize that morning, and rest assured that when you peel off those tights tonight, your leg hair will not scream in protest.

+Want to show more love to your legs? Check out these articles here

Free People Blog

Matcha for Inner AND Outer Beauty

Matcha for Inner AND Outer Beauty

What’s green, caffeinated and more ubiquitous than that one speedo-clad guy who shows up at everyone’s yoga class? Matcha!

That’s right, the finely ground green tea leaves that have been part of Japanese and Chinese culture for centuries is fully in the mainstream (you can’t walk around New York without passing a dedicated matcha bar or shop every few blocks), and we couldn’t be more excited. Not only is the stuff delicious, the preparation is incredibly soothing if you choose to make your own — it’s a great alternative to yet another cup of coffee and it is loaded with antioxidants, making it one of the most health-supportive things you can sip.

Still not sold on the wonders that is this gorgeously green powder? Here’s a quick overview and a short history lesson: Matcha is finely ground powder made from green tea leaves that have been grown in the shade, conditions which produce more theanine (a relaxing amino acid) and caffeine than typical green tea. This combination of chemicals is what accounts for the “calm energy” effect people get from drinking the stuff as opposed to the shakes you can get from too much coffee. In the twelfth century, matcha came to Japan care of the Chinese, where an elaborate tea ceremony around its preparation was (and still is) practiced. Zen Buddhists were even believed to drink matcha for meditative focus.

Calm energy aside, matcha also boasts an impressive roster of health benefits. It’s particularly high in antioxidants like polyphenols and EGCG that have been linked to everything from slowing the growth of cancer cells, lowering cholesterol and blood pressure, anti-aging, fighting inflammation, regulating blood sugar and boosting metabolism. And since you’re actually drinking the ground leaves (instead of steeping them in hot water like other teas), you ingest more of the nutrients.

Not too shabby for something you can pour over ice and sip through a curly straw!

By all means, continue to sip out of that curly straw, but there’s no need to let your tastebuds have all the fun. Yes, drinking and eating your vitamins and minerals is almost always the preferred method of getting them where they need to go — into your body — but your skin can also drink up matcha’s goodness. (See what I did there?)

Here are a few matcha-infused beauty products to let the tea leaves work their magic on your face. Throw in a little matcha-fuelfed meditation every once in awhile and you’ll positively glow.

Pangea Organics Facial Mask

When it comes to antioxidants, you’d be hard-pressed to find three more potent purveyors than matcha, acai and goji berries. Lucky for you, all of ‘em can be found in this mask from always-reliable Pangea Organics. Not only does the mask deeply cleanse and detoxify the skin thanks to the inclusion of white clay, it also leaves tired, dull skin rejuvenated thanks to a hefty dose of moisture. The matcha, goji and acai work together to pack skin cells with vitamins, minerals, amino acids and proteins to restore and brighten the skin on your face. And the 10-20 minutes you wear it present a pretty perfect time to practice your matcha whisking skills if the mood strikes.

Flora Remedia Matcha Green Tea Skin Treatment Scrub

Matcha is a whiz when it comes to reducing inflammation in your organs thanks to its status as being chock full of antioxidants. So let it work that same magic on your tired, inflamed skin with a matcha-infused body scrub. Flora Remedia’s version combines matcha powder with raw sugar and sea salt to treat redness, inflammation and body acne, while the eucalyptus oil offers not only moisture but also a gorgeous scent to help you de-stress, refresh and revitalize your shower routine. 

Cocokind MYMATCHA All-Over Moisture Stick

What do you get when you blend organic matcha, organic virgin coconut oil and organic beeswax together? If you answered lip balm, under eye balm, dark circle corrector and spot treatment, get yourself a prize. This stick from Captain Blankenship may be tiny in stature, but it more than makes up for its small size by being a veritable Swiss Army Knife of skincare benefits — and all with only three ingredients. The antioxidants in the matcha help fight off baddies that have taken up residence in the skin and de-puff while the coconut oil offers up deep moisture and nourishment. Then beeswax swoops in the seal the deal, locking hydrating in and protecting the skin from the elements.

Sun Potion White Dragon Matcha

If you want to keep things simple, you can always whip up a good old fashioned DIY face mask with a spoonful of matcha powder and some manuka honey. You’ll look like a swamp creature for a few minutes, but the combination of soothing, anti-inflammatory matcha and acne-and-bacteria-fighting honey can’t be beat, especially if you’re dealing with a pimple situation. What’s more, this type of mask is super gentle while also being incredibly effective, so you should be ok to use it every couple of days if the mood strikes.

One thing to note: This Sun Potion White Dragon Matcha is high grade and of excellent quality, so if you want to save if for sipping, no hard feelings.

Free People Blog

Consider Visiting a National Park, Part 2

Consider Visiting a National Park, Part 2

Just because summer is drawing to a close doesn’t mean all your outdoor activities have to also…

Are you ready for more fall foliage than your brain can handle? A crisp autumnal breeze blowing through your hair? The smell of campfires and hot apple cider in the air? Really cute woodland creatures frantically collecting nuts to hide while they hibernate?

Yes. Yes. Yes. And yes.

Don’t stash your canteen away just yet; we’ve got another roundup of some of the country’s best national parks to consider visiting in the next few months. Now get out there and breathe some fresh air!

If you like variety…visit Olympic National Park.

Just about as far northwest as you can get while still being in the continental United States, Washington’s Olympic National Park has a little (or a lotta) something for everyone. Dramatic Pacific coastlines, temperate rainforests, snow-capped alpine mountains, ancient trees and hot springs are all contained within the 922,000-acre park.

If you like history…visit Yellowstone.

Designated in 1872, Yellowstone was the first national park to ever exist and inspired the idea of a nationwide parks system (not to mention the fictional home of everyone’s favorite tie-wearing cartoon bear). It’s also where you’ll find Old Faithful, undoubtedly the most famous geyser ever and America’s largest hot spring. If water doesn’t impress you much, you can opt to climb El Capitan or Half Dome, two of the park’s most thrilling spots.

If you like ancient history…visit Mesa Verde National Park.

A UNESCO world heritage site, Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado was established to protect and preserve Ancestral Puebloan archaeological sites that date back to 1200 BCE. The park has some nice hikes and beautiful scenery, but the real draw here is the awe-inspiring cliff dwellings.

If you like really ancient history…visit Glacier National Park.

Truth be told, every single national park in the U.S. is the result of ancient history, both tectonic and meteorological. But when the word “glacier” is in the name of the park, you know you’re in for a treat. True to the monicker, Montana’s Glacier National Park is home to mountains that were carved out of the earth by very giant, very old glaciers as they made their way across the country so all you have to do is look around to see rocks that are literally billions of years old. Don’t sleep on this one, though: only about 25 of the 150 glaciers that existed when the park was founded in 1850 remain.

If you want to feel the vast power of nature…visit Denali National Park and Preserve.

With six million acres of lakes, mountains, trails and wildlife, Alaska’s Denali National Park is truly powerful to behold. It also happens to be where Denali lives which, at 20,320 feet, is the tallest peak on the continent. You can hike, climb, camp, bus or fly through, but take your time. There is so much to see and explore in this vast northern land that it would be a shame not to take in as much as possible.

If you like to be stunned…visit Grand Canyon National Park.

Not that you need convincing on this one, but the Grand Canyon and its surrounding parkland is one of the most well-known spots in the entire world, and for good reason. Not only are the views from the top almost unbelievable (and slightly terrifying), but you can also hike 5,200 feet down into the canyon and raft along the Colorado River, both equally stunning experiences.

If you want to hear your own echo…visit Mammoth Cave National Park.

One of the most unique national parks in the country, Kentucky’s Mammoth Cave is the longest known cave system in the entire world. Over 400 miles have already been explored (and who knows how much more is down there), and visitors can tour the caverns and tunnels for a real out-of-this-world-while-being-under-it vibe. If you’re feeling brave, consider a “wild cave” tour which takes the bravest visitors through less-tourist-friendly caves.

+ A lust to wonder? Check out more National Park adventures here!  

Free People Blog

Your New Fave 10-Step Facial Massage

Your New Fave 10-Step Facial Massage

Firming. Lifting. Calming. Brightening. De-puffing. Hydrating. Nourishing. Plumping.

All words I myself have used right here on this very blog to describe beauty and skincare products. And while there are, without a doubt, clean, natural ingredients and formulations that will perform what each of those adjectives promises, there’s also a totally and completely natural way to get roughly the same results without a drop of anything touching your skin.

Any guesses? (Not magic, no. Though that would be very cool.)

If you said facial massage, you either 1) read the headline of this piece or 2) are very wise because yes, the simple act of gently rubbing your own hands over your own face can work wonders on your complexion and the health of your skin. A few drops of oil, five minutes of your time and the brainpower to actually remember to do it every day, and facial massage may just become the best part of your skincare routine.

Before I get into how, let me quickly explain the why. So many of our skin woes are caused by inflammation, both within our organs that then shows up on the skin or closer to the surface in the form of puffiness. When it comes to the former, the only way to control it is diet. But for the latter, much of it can be combatted by making sure our lymph system is free of blockages and flowing smoothly.

When lymph is circulating freely, draining and refreshing optimally, puffiness goes down significantly. It also means toxins that can mess with your skin are being continuously flushed from the body, which keeps the skin clear and glowing. Fortunately (or unfortunately), the lymph system relies mostly on external movement for circulation. When you eat a lot of salty, processed, fatty foods and then go to bed right away, I’d bet you wake up in the morning feeling and looking pretty puffy thanks to all that stagnant fluid that’s taken up residence in your body. But as soon as you really start to move again, getting the blood (and lymph) moving too, that puffiness starts to subside.

Now apply the same reasoning to your skin. Yes, your regular blood flow and exercise is helpful for the health and appearance of your skin. But just like you need targeted movements and exercise to strengthen and tighten muscle groups, you also need targeted care for your face. (No, facial crunches don’t exist…yet.)

Which is where facial massage comes in. By taking a few minutes every day to focus on moving your hands over your face in a specific way, you can help your facial muscles stay active, relieve tension, increase blood flow (hello, glow!), and help that lymph circulate and drain properly so puffiness doesn’t haunt your gorgeous head.

Ok, now the how.

First, a note on technique: You should approach anything having to do with the skin on your face with the utmost care and a very gentle hand. It’s better to underdo it and have it take a bit longer for the results to show up than to overdo it and damage your delicate skin. The pressure you use to massage your face should be similar to that with which you shave your legs — you’re not trying to dig into your skin with the razor (the horror!) and the same goes for massaging your face. A light touch is also better because lymph is close to the surface and responds better to gentle pressure. If you press too hard, you risk bruising that sweet, sweet face.

When it comes to technique, there are many. YouTube is rife with tutorial videos (though proceed with caution) and a quick Google search will also turn up many instructional pieces. Proceed however you like, though one constant you may recognize is direction; you’ll want to start with your fingers in the center of your face and move them out to the edge, then down. That’s because the direction of the lymphatic pathways on the face move from the center, out, then down to just above the collarbone where it all collects to be flushed away. When you empty the trash can in your kitchen, you don’t move the garbage bag into your bedroom — you take it out to the curb. Same goes for your face.

So with all this in mind, here’s my approach to facial massage. I do it every morning after cleansing and applying moisturizer, and every night on clean skin with a few drops of oil. As long as you stick to the basic rules of facial massage (gentle hand, moving from the center out, performing on clean skin with a bit of oil or moisturizer for some slip), you can make up your own pattern. I’m partial to the technique below because it was taught to me by a holistic facialist friend who has the most gorgeous skin you’ve ever seen and, when I skip a day of doing it, I notice the effects immediately, but you do you.

Facial Massage Sequence

Start with freshly cleansed skin and clean hands. Apply moisturizer or face oil as usual and, while it’s still absorbing into skin, start the massage. I do both sides of my face simultaneously since, you know, I have two hands, but feel free to perform one side, then the other.

Place your index, middle and ring fingers at the top of the neck, just below the ears (outer corner of the jaw). Apply gentle pressure and drag your fingers down the neck until you hit the collarbone. Repeat 5x.

With your thumb and index finger in a light pinching formation, start in the center of your chin with the pad of the thumb pushing up into the jawbone and the index finger resting a few centimeters above it. Gently drag your fingers out toward the earlobes along the jaw bone, keeping that slight pinch the whole time so it’s almost like you’re lightly gripping the jawbone. Repeat 5x.

Make peace signs with your index and middle fingers with the pads of the fingers facing you. Rotate the peace signs 45 degrees so they bracket your mouth. Apply gentle pressure and move your fingers out toward the edge of your face, pulling up slightly at the end. Repeat 5x.

Starting at the outer edge of your nostrils, sweep your index and middle fingers along your cheekbones out to the middle of the ear. You’ll be able to really feel where the cheekbone is, so no need to go digging for it. Repeat 5x.

Very gently, press your ring finger into the under-eye area once at the inner corner, once in the middle (beneath the pupil) and once at the outer corner. Repeat the pattern 5x.

With your middle finger, gently press into the eyebrow bone at the inner edge of the eyebrow. Slowly trace the eyebrow out to the temple. Repeat 5x.

Place the palm of your hand on your scalp so your fingers hang over your forehead. From the center of your eyebrows, sweep the fingers up the forehead to the hairline and back. You can even lightly run your fingers through the hair for a mini-scalp massage. Repeat 5-10x.

Starting in the center of the forehead, sweep the fingers out toward the temple. Repeat 5x.

With all fingers but the thumbs, start in the center of your forehead and bring your fingers up to your hair. Then, sweep the fingers along the hairline, out and down toward the temples, behind your ears (like you’re tucking your hair back) and down the sides of your neck to your collarbone, just like that first move.

Free People Blog

Spotlight On: Tela for Curly Hair

Spotlight On: Tela for Curly Hair

It is a truth well known — a woman with straight hair must be in want of curly hair, and vice-versa. Tela just might change that way of thinking…

Or at least that is how I have lived my life amongst the curly-headed sirens that seem to surround me wherever I turn, taunting me with their spiraled, bouncing strands.

You see, my hair is straight-ish. If I do things exactly right, I can tease a little wave out of it that barely lasts until lunch and it’s only with the combined firepower of a curling iron, styling paste and salt spray. And so it was that I found myself bemoaning my plight over dinner with a friend whose hair was so curly, so gorgeously lush with coils that I could not help myself and reached out to lightly touch the springs. (It wasn’t weird, I promise. We’re really close.)

She leaned her curl-strewn head back and laughed heartily, regaining her composure only to tell me how easy I had it. How difficult it is to tame and take care of curly hair without drying it out or creating a large ball of frizz or frying it to death with heat tools. “I love my hair,” she sighed,
“but it is a blessing as much as a curse. Sometimes I wish I could have your hair. My life would be much easier.”

Shocked to hear that her serpentine hair caused her such ire, I begged her to continue. “What else of this hard hair life do you speak of?”

As it turns out, having curly hair is not as fun as I assumed it was, nor was it easy to tame and care for. It required just the right haircut, the willpower to not constantly touch post-wash, quite a bit of finessing, a lifelong search for the right combination of products, and a ton of moisture but not so much that it weighed the curls down.

Which is why — despite having nary a natural curl on my head — I imagine the full line of Tela products is such a revelation for those of winding hair. You see, curl-specific hair care is nothing new; it’s been done before and done often. But from what I’ve heard (and based on the aforementioned lifelong search for the right products), it’s never as good as you want it to be. The conditioner is too heavy or the control spray doesn’t actually keep frizz at bay. The shampoo strips too much moisture or the masque is incredibly high maintenance. It’s a real Goldilocks conundrum, one Tela is here to solve with a full line of curly hair care that’s, dare I say, just right.

Curly Shampoo + Curly Conditioner

The major complaint I hear from curly-headed ladies is that their hair is constantly dehydrated so they need to cut back on the shampooing and up the conditioning. But after a few days of conditioning, residue and gunk is bound to build up and weigh down curls (not to mention clog the pores on your scalp and trap dead skin cells up there) which sort of means you have to shampoo. It’s a vicious cycle, really. And if they want to shampoo and condition organically? Forget it.

But with Tela’s Curly Shampoo and Conditioner, you can wash and hydrate those curls to your heart’s content. The combo leaves hair shiny and clean with no residue, and the shampoo isn’t drying so, if you want to wash every day, go for it. (But maybe stick to every other day to be safe?)

Thanks to a blend of Solomon’s Seal (an herb used in traditional Chinese medicine for its moistening properties), plantain, marshmallow root and reishi mushroom, the duo works to soothe and strengthen curly hair while also revitalizing and restoring shine. And in case that wasn’t enough, Tela has gone ahead and replaced water in the formula with oolong, green and white teas for an antioxidant boost.

Healer Conditioning Treatment

If your curls still need more of a moisturizing kick, or you want to add a layer of protection against heat styling, a conditioning treatment is where it’s at. And true to its name, Tela’s Healer will do just that. It’s multipurpose, too, so you can use it as a heavy-duty masque, a daily detangler, a heat protectant or all of them at once.

With an ingredient deck that reads like the most nutritious salad you’ve ever eaten, it should come as no surprise that the highly concentrated (so it’ll last a while) Healer Conditioning Treatment features antioxidant-rich components that are all meant to strengthen hair while adding texture and shine.

For collagen synthesis and a healthy scalp, there’s pomegranate. Then we’ve got apricot to help the hair shaft maintain moisture and act as a detangler. Burdock root helps tame hard-to-handle-hair while carrot strengthens strands with its large amounts of vitamins A, C and E. Rounding out the hair salad are celery water, which adds weightless moisture to the hair, and tomato, which is packed with strengthening minerals like calcium, iron, potassium and zinc. Basically, everything you’re supposed to be feeding your body every day via food can be found in this conditioning treatment. It’s a shame you can’t find it in digestible capsule form.

Curl of My Dreams + Frizz Buster

Not just a complaint of curly-haired folks, but certainly one they’re prone to what with the directionality of their hair and the constant need for moisture, frizz is no joke. Since frizz is a result of a protein/water imbalance, a surefire way to beat it is to add protein to the mix in the form of nutrient-rich oils and ceramides, both of which happen to be in Tela’s Frizz Buster spray. Quinoa, boabaob, sunflower and lavender seed oils lock in moisture and nutrients without weighing hair down, keeping frizz at bay even in the least hair-friendly conditions.

And if a few spritzes of Frizz Buster still aren’t doing the trick, consider the holy grail of curl products: Curl of My Dreams. Toss the conventional hair gel that you’ve resigned yourself to using for its taming properties even though it leaves your curls crunchy and hard and sort of wet-looking. This Tela elixir enhances natural texture, reduces frizz and results in effortless-yet-long-lasting, shiny curls thanks to the inclusion of quinoa protein, which restores shine and adds bounce back to previously gel-coated locks.

So now that I know the less universally acknowledged truth about what it takes to maintain a gorgeous head of curly hair, am I still so keen on the idea of swapping my wash-and-go wavy mane for something more high maintenance and also more luxurious and bouncy? Abso-curl-utely.

+Loving Tela? Shop the full collection here

Free People Blog

Why You Need: Anima Mundi

Why You Need: Anima Mundi

Not every cure comes with a safety cap or prescription…

Back before a quick internet search could tell you whether your stuffy nose was a routine cold or a rare disease caused by a bug only found on a tiny island you’ve never set foot on (because it’s definitely one or the other), and even before you actually had to pick up the phone to make an appointment with a doctor, people relied on what they could find and forage to help cure their ills. In other words: plant medicine.

If it came from the ground, chances were there was a way to use it that would benefit your mind, body and soul, and no one knew that better than herbalists. For centuries, they studied botany and how to use plants to soothe and cure. Today, even though pharmaceuticals and OTC cures are a dime a dozen, there’s still something to be said for a form of medicine that dates well before Google and phone lines and drug stores. (And if you’re interested, Google tells me there’s archaeological evidence to indicate that using plants as medicine dates back nearly 60,000 years, so this whole internet thing is good for something.)

So given that it’s been a minute since herbal medicine was de rigueur, it’s a rare and special treat to find someone who not openly champions the power of botanicals when it comes to our health, which is where Adriana Ayales, founder of Anima Mundi comes in. As someone who fluently and beautifully speaks the language of the plants, Ayales, a rainforest tribal herbalist from Costa Rica, has dedicated herself to healing and natural elements.

Believing that not every cure comes with a safety cap or prescription, Anima Mundi strives to present pure, powerful, traditional herbal formulations to help the people of today with what ails them, much like the same plants did for our ancestors. To do so, each tonic is a gorgeous, well-researched combination of wisdom from all corners of the earth: rainforest tribal botany, Chinese medicine, Ayurveda.

Let’s break down some of these botanical superfoods to figure out which jives best with your life and needs.

Happiness Tonic

Anxious? Jumpy? Can’t sleep? Try drinking less coffee. Or spend some time on a yoga mat. Or maybe turn to plants in the form of Anima Mundi’s Happiness Tonic.

Why “happiness”? Well, can you think of anything that ruins your mood faster than not getting a good night’s sleep? Which is why this wildcrafted tonic is full of adaptogenic herbs that work together to stabilize hormone function, serotonin and dopamine, and sooth the nervous system so you can rest easier and, in turn, be happy!

(Side note: Don’t remember what adaptogens are? In short, they’re herbs that have been used for centuries in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine to boost energy and resilience. They support your adrenals, the glands that help your body manage stress, anxiety and fatigue, and adapt their function to your body’s needs so they work in gentle harmony with what your system without the fear of crashing—hence the name.)

The herbs in question? St. Johns Wort (known to fight insomnia), mucuna (a bean that acts as a mood booster and nervous system soother), rhodiola (which has been shown to improve brain health), ashwaganda (a plant that supports adrenal fatigue) and albizzia (a plant affectionately known as “the Tree of Happiness”).

Responsible for releasing hormones, it’s easy for stress and sleeplessness to send your adrenal and endocrine systems into overdrive. When your body is stressed, they respond by releasing an overabundance of cortisol and adrenaline which just makes everything worse. So these “happy” herbs work together to relieve stress and anxiety, most importantly by working to aid your adrenal system.

Fat Belly Tonic

In order for your body to properly digest everything you put into it, every part of the digestive system needs to be working well and together. Sure, you know what foods upset your stomach and which ones mess with your gut (hello, probiotics!), but do you ever think about how what you put in your mouth does to your liver?

Since it’s the liver’s job to metabolize fat, it needs to be at 100% to take the food you eat and turn it into the energy your body runs on. More often than not, that A+ liver status isn’t consistent, so a good chunk of fat gets left behind, un-metabolised. You could just let those fat cells be; they’ll make a nice home for themselves somewhere in your body, maybe they’ll even raise some kids and live a long, happy life in, say, your tummy. Then, every time you’re sweating your tush off in a spin class, you can blame your liver.

But if you want to play mean landlord, you could just add Anima Mundi’s Fat Belly Tonic into your daily routine and metaphorically raise that rent so much that those fat cells won’t have any choice but to move out of state. You see, the formula is a blend of herbs that are anti-inflammatory ( turmeric, mangosteen and ginger) and detox (cha-de-bugre and green coffee) powerhouses. They get in there and strip the liver of impurities, opening it up to perform at — you guessed it — 100%. When it’s in tip-top shape, there’s just no room for leftover fat since all of it gets processed the right way.

Feel free to use that newfangled internet to do more research on any of this stuff, but if your computer turns out to be a time machine that catapults you back thousands of years, you can bet the people you’ll find there will be using the same plants and herbs to treat their issues. And a word of time travel advice: Hide that computer ASAP lest someone think it’s black magic sent from another world to mess with their herbalist way of life.

+Want to see more Anima Products? Shop the full collection here

This information is not intended to treat, diagnose or prevent any disease or issue. Please seek your doctor’s advice for any questions regarding a specific condition and before beginning any exercise, diet or health-related regimen.

Free People Blog

Stain Less DIY

Stain Less DIY

A bit more work than simply dumping a cap-full of something blue and sudsy into the washing machine, but it’s totally worth it…and Mother Nature will thank you for it!

So you’ve taken my advice and made the switch to natural deodorant. Good for you! Your armpits and hormones thank you. But while you may be sweating more cleanly these days, one thing that isn’t faring quite as well is the underarm area of your favorite shirts. As a human being with sweat glands and a need to regulate your body temperature, I’m guessing you’re no stranger to sweat stains. They may be annoying, but they’re a fairly routine part of being a person with skin and a quick tumble in the washing machine is often enough to remove these pesky stains from fabric. But now that you’ve introduced your t-shirts and tank tops to natural deodorant….things may be different.

The all-natural ingredients in clean deodorant are undoubtedly better for your health, but the same can’t be said for fabric. The coconut oil and shea butter that serve as the base for most clean deodorants? They like to leave yellow hues behind. Same goes for any essential oils in the formula. Now you’re faced with a conundrum: You switched to natural deodorant to get away from harmful chemicals and additives, but it seems like conventional laundry detergent full of harmful chemicals and additives may be the only way to remove the yellow residue left on your clothes by that natural deodorant! What’s a girl to do?!

I’ll tell you: go the DIY route. It’s a bit more work than simply dumping a cap-full of something blue and sudsy into the washing machine, but it’s totally worth it. Below are a few recipes you can play around with, all of which I’ve tested and give two very green thumbs up! 

Cream of Tartar: More Than Just a Meringue Ingredient

What you’ll need:

  • 2 tbsp cream of tartar
  • Lemon essential oil
  • Water 

How to use it:

In a small glass bowl, combine the cream of tartar, a few drops of lemon essential oil and just enough water to create a paste. Spread the paste on the stains and work it into the fabric with your fingers. Let it dry before laundering as usual.

Why it works:

Cream of tartar is just a funny name for potassium bitartrate, an acid salt. When mixed with another acid (like that lemon essential oil), the combination works to break down the proteins in your sweat that cause stains.

H2O2

What you’ll need:

  • Hydrogen Peroxide

How to use it:

No fancy mixing here; simply pour or spray hydrogen peroxide (3%) onto the stained area. Let it soak in for at least half an hour, then wash.

Another option for really gnarly yellow stains is to make a paste with hydrogen peroxide and baking soda. Rub it into the stain from the back (so, the inside of the shirt to help push the stain out and through rather than further into the fabric), then leave it alone for five minutes before laundering.

Why it works:

The hydrogen peroxide you keep in your first aid kit works wonders on stains — and is way more environmentally friendly than chlorine bleach since the oxygen-based formula breaks down safely in water. When it comes to stains, this same oxygen works to break down color-causing sections of chemical structures, which removes the appearance of a stain. Just make sure your bottle of hydrogen peroxide is fresh: an opened bottle is only really potent for about six weeks before it loses the oxygen that makes it useful.

White Vinegar

 What you’ll need:

  • White vinegar
  • Coarse salt

How to use it:

This one may sound like the beginnings of a salad dressing, but it makes for an easy stain fighter: simply pour white vinegar over the stained area, then rub coarse salt into it, almost as if you’re exfoliating the fabric. Let the whole thing dry before washing it normally.

Why it works:

Aside from removing stains, white vinegar is also a wiz at deodorizing and softening fabrics. A lot of people simply dump a cup into the washing machine every time they do laundry — deodorant stains not necessary. The reason it works? The acid in white vinegar can cross cell membranes in bacteria that causes the release of protons, thereby leading to the cell’s death. Science-y, yes, but effective nonetheless.

+ Want to learn more from Allie? Read these articles here

Free People Blog

No Matter Where/When…Consider a National Park

No Matter Where/When…Consider a National Park

Just because summer is drawing to a close doesn’t mean all your outdoor activities have to also…

Lace up your hiking boots, ladies! Just because summer is drawing to a close doesn’t mean all your outdoor activities have to, too. In fact, fall may just be the best time of year to get outside and explore the country’s national parks: they’re not as crowded since summer visitors have unlaced their hiking boots, it’s not as hot and sweaty, and you’ll get a chance to see some killer foliage if you time it right.

So if you’re in the market for an adventurous next trip, consider checking out one of the gorgeous national parks below: 

If you like the idea of sleeping under the stars…visit Bryce Canyon National Park.

Mostly known for the Hoodoos — pillars of red rock carved out by millennia of erosion — Utah’s Bryce Canyon actually has some of the best stargazing conditions in the country. Far from light pollution, Bryce is a sanctuary of natural darkness with a night sky that’s so dark, 7,500 stars are visible on a moonless night, including the Milky Way and even Venus and Jupiter.

If you’re looking for miles and miles of gorgeous hiking trails…visit Rocky Mountains National Park.

While the Rocky Mountains run for 3,000 miles from Canada down to New Mexico, Rocky Mountains National Park is a 415-square-mile section in Colorado that contains more than 350 hiking trails and over 60 climbable peaks.

If you’re looking for a rejuvenating experience…visit Hot Springs National Park.

Located in Arkansas (which just so happens to be nicknamed The Natural State), Hot Springs National park is true to its name: the park is full of natural hot springs that have been used for centuries as places of healing and rejuvenation. Though it’s a bit less “back to the land” than other parks on this list, due to the fact that many of the hot springs you can visit are housed in manmade bathhouses, it’s still worth a trip if you’ve been coveting your friends’ Insta posts of their time at the Blue Lagoon in Iceland.

If you want to stand under a waterfall…visit Smoky Mountains National Park.

True, the Great Smoky Mountains boasts more than just falling water — it’s the most visited park in the country, is certifiably huge and has over 1,660 different kinds of flowering plants to stop and sniff — but its real highlight is the dozen-plus waterfalls scattered throughout the park. If you only have time for a few, check out Laurel Falls, an 80-foot stunner, Mouse Creek Falls, which is smaller and less-visited but equally impressive, and Rainbow Falls where, you guessed it, a rainbow can be seen in the fall’s mist on sunny afternoons.

If you want to channel your inner archaeologist…visit Badlands National Park.

Mount Rushmore isn’t the only attraction in this South Dakota Park: the Badlands are also home to 37-million-year-old fossil deposits, making it one of the country’s most prominent archaeological sites. And if living animals are more your speed, the park is also full of wildlife like bison, prairie dogs and bighorn sheep that roam freely. The amazing rock formations don’t hurt either.

If you want to climb an active volcano…visit Haleakalã National Park.

Located in a somewhat remote part of Maui, a visit to Haleakalã will literally have you climbing an active, potentially-lava-spewing volcano. At 10,023 feet, it’s full of hiking trails that offer up to 115 miles of visibility from the summit. What’s more, the park is comprised of both barren volcanic landscape and sub-tropical rainforests, making for a gorgeous transition. It’s also home to more endangered species than any other park in the country, so it’s also an animal lover’s dream.

If you want an ant’s eye view of the world…visit Sequoia National Park.

This California park has several claims to fame, all of which are equally impressive and awe-inspiring. Not only is Sequoia the second-oldest national park in the country, it’s also home to the largest tree in the world. Named General Sherman, the 2,700-year-old sequoia is 275 feet tall and 25 feet in diameter. Not to overshadow General Sherman (as if anything could), but the park also has five of the 10 largest trees in the world, so there’s that!

If you’re ready to try real-life rock climbing…visit Joshua Tree National Park.

No carefully placed footholds on a straight vertical wall here: this California park is a rock climber’s paradise. With almost 800,000 acres to its name, Joshua Tree has 8,000 climbing routes, and 2,000 boulder formations through the park.

If you want to wake up with the sun…visit Acadia National Park.

Nestled in Maine’s Mount Desert Island, Acadia National Park offers 50,000 acres of shoreline, coves, mountains, pine forests and meadows. And if you can stop hitting snooze for a day, you may just be the first person in the country to see the sun’s rays. The park’s Cadillac Mountain is far enough east that anyone up before the dawn gets to witness the first hints of a new day breaking over the Atlantic seaboard.

+Read more about National Park adventures here

Photo by Maria Margolies. 

Free People Blog

Skincare for Boobs

Skincare for Boobs

And we don’t mean for fools… your breasts deserve YOUR attention and care. <3

This is not a joke! Love ‘em or hate ‘em, the skin on your chest is just as important as the skin everywhere else on your body. So pay attention to your boobs. Here’s how.

(For the sake of inclusivity, we’re going to focus on everything below the neck and above the belly button: collarbones, décolletage, chest proper, boobs, under-boob. It’s all skin, so why ignore it?)

If you’ve got… acne.

“Chestne” is nothing to be embarrassed about. Everyone with boobs sweats — we’re human, after all. There’s almost no better body part for acne to flourish than your damp, dark, covered-in-clothing cleavage and underboob. This is especially true if you’re a fitness junkie. Just make sure you’re showering right after a sweat sesh (or at the very least use a cleansing cloth to hold you over until you can).

Post-gym, a body cleanser that contains bacteria-fighting ingredients will be your best friend. (This one from LINNÉ is particularly impressive as the charcoal rids your skin of toxins and the volcanic ash naturally exfoliates.) Also be sure you’re exfoliating at least once a week. Whether you use a scrub or dry brush is your call, just be careful around the extra-sensitive parts of your chest.

If you’ve got…ingrown hairs.

Nipple hairs are a thing and as such, so too are ingrown nipple hairs. If you’re dealing with an inflamed follicle situation, proceed with caution. Ingrown hairs are tricky enough as is without the added issue of being located on a very sensitive, very thin-skinned part of the body.

So if you need to dig a hair out of the area around your areola, be gentle and do it the right way. Start with clean skin (fresh out of a warm shower is best as the water will soften the skin a bit and open up pores and follicles). Then gently exfoliate the area in question with a dry brush. Soft, circular motions will loosen up any leftover skin cells, making it that much easier to extract the sucker in question.

First, try gently applying pressure to the areas around the hair. You may get lucky and push the tip of the hair through the skin, which means it’s no longer ingrown. (Ingrown hairs are basically ones that curl back into the skin instead of growing straight out.) At that point, pick up a well-cleaned pair of tweezers and gently tug the hair out.

It’s super important that you don’t go digging for the hair with tweezers if it doesn’t surface on its own! Keep applying warm compresses to the area and exfoliating it — eventually the hair will poke through and you can grab it. You can also use retinoids to speed up dead skin cell removal if you’re really in a pinch, but that’s as involved as you should get.

Once the hair is out, be sure to treat the area with a mild antibacterial like tea tree oil or turmeric.

If you’ve got…dry skin or peeling.

You take excellent care of your face, you slather coconut oil on your legs and arms every night, you even massage salve into your feet when you remember, but what about your chest? The skin on here is some of the thinnest, most sensitive on your body, so it’s incredibly important not to skimp on the moisturizer.

Thin, crepe-y skin like this needs a really, really thick formula to bind water to the skin and trap it in there for good. Look for a moisturizer that contains ingredients like hyaluronic acid or cocoa butter, both of which work wonders at helping water stay put. And of course, don’t skimp on sunscreen. Any time your chest (any part of it) will see the sun, opt for an SPF that’s 50 or higher. You don’t want to take any chances with your skin, especially the skin on your chest.

Finally — and I promise this is for real — don’t forget about masks. Yes, masks are typically marketed for your face, but skin is skin and a product that will moisturize and hydrate the skin north of your neck will do the same south of it, too.

If you’ve got…stretch marks.

Welcome to the club. Stretch marks are a totally natural, totally normal part of having not just boobs, but a human body that changes on the daily. There’s no cure-all for these babies, but skincare products that contain caffeine or collagen can help temporarily. When applied topically — whether through a serum, scrub or soak — the former can help energize blood cell and blood flow, temporarily firming up the skin. And adding more collagen to your diet can help with skin’s flexibility and resilience, meaning it’ll be less prone to additional stretch marks. Add it to coffee, eat it, drink it in water…collagen will go a long way in ensuring the health of your skin all over.

And of course, moisturize the hell out of your chest. When it comes to stretch marks, the more hydrated your skin is, the more pliable it is, which means its capacity to stretch and then bounce back to fighting shape is increased. Get comfortable with the fact that you’ll be massaging your chest every day: the practice will improve circulation and encourage new tissue growth, both of which combat stretch marks.

Free People Blog

How To Maintain Your Summer Tan Long After Beach Season Ends

How To Maintain Your Summer Tan Long After Beach Season Ends

Along with a newfound ability to “tan” comes great responsibility: to keep said tan for as long as possible…

Here’s a fun fact: My skin is virtually incapable of “being tan.” Up until about five years ago, any time I spent more than an hour in the sun, I’d come home crisp and red. Part of it was probably that I was total shit at applying sunscreen properly (stories for another day), but I also just assumed my fair, sensitive skin wasn’t cut out for friendly interactions with the sun and I resigned myself to a life of looking a lot like Snow White if she wore glasses and had ombre hair.

But then a miraculous thing happened: I started taking suncare seriously. I realized that, if I just took my time and did it with care, sunscreen was wonderful…and it worked. If I chose to stand naked in the bathroom while meticulously applying SPF to every inch of my body to make sure I didn’t miss a spot and therefore didn’t fry, who cares if it added 20 minutes to my routine? For the first time in my life, I was TAN. (“Tan” being relative here. I was as bronzed as I was ever going to healthily be and that was A-OK!)

Getting wiser about proper sunscreen and really learning about how my skin interacted with the sun has been nothing short of miraculous. Yeah, I constantly reapply SPF 50 and I have a sixth sense when it comes to finding the part of the beach that also offers shade and I will fight you for the last umbrella, but I have not looked or felt like a cooked lobster in years.

But along with this newfound ability to “tan” comes great responsibility: to keep said tan for as long as possible. There’s nothing worse than going to bed beautifully bronzed only to wake up paler than you remember, as if the color seeped out while you slept. Here’s how I help my color last longer than one glorious day.

Exfoliate.

I know, counterintuitive, right? Why would you scrub away the skin you’re trying to keep color in? But exfoliating is an important pre- and post-glow step. Before you head out, you’ll want to gently scrub away dead or thirsty surface cells to make sure your skin is smooth and ready to receive sunscreen and all that vitamin D. It will also stimulate blood flow to help remove toxins that may interfere with skin cell generation down the line.

Post-tan, you’ll still want to gently scrub your whole body about once a week. Again, you need to remove those dead cells so your skin can breathe and regenerate properly, but this step is also crucial in making sure all the moisturizer I’m about to lay down in the next step is able to sink in and get to work. Don’t go crazy here. A soft sweep of a body brush or an oil-based scrub with very small grains (like sugar) will do the trick.

Take cold showers.

This one might sound odd, but just trust me. Hot baths and showers can dehydrate your skin, which will lead to faster peeling and flaking. You don’t have to stand under a stream of icy water, but try not to turn the temperature past warm. And while you’re at it, opt for a body wash that’s infused with moisturizing oils. Not only will the oils help keep your skin hydrated, they’ll also work to trap the water from the shower in your skin for an extra dose of moisture. If you’re more of a bath person, infuse that water with oil!

Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize.

Get it? Good.

When you spend time in the sun, even if you don’t burn, your skin dries out. The heat and sunlight do a miraculous job of leaching natural moisture from your skin, so you need to make sure to replace it tenfold in the days after.

Immediately after being in the sun, drench every inch of your body in something hydrating that’s designed for after sun care. Even though you’re not red, when skin tans it technically burns, so you need to make sure you’re depositing healing nutrients into your skin right away. Since after-sun products are specifically designed with this in mind, look for products that will speed up skin recovery and have calming, soothing, hydrating ingredients.

In the following days, make sure to coat yourself in uber-hydrating products at least once a day (twice if you’re really good). A body oil will deposit essential moisture to your thirsty skin and then go a step further by locking it in with a moisturizer or cream. The latter will create a protective barrier that will keep the hydrating ingredients in your skin so they can’t escape.

Fake it.

If you’re a) not into the sun but wish you were, b) too scared of the potential to burn (I hear ya) or c) afraid of a life without a tan, my advice to you is to just fake it. That’s right, you heard me: FAKE IT.

Gone are the days of terrible self-tanner that left you streaky and orange, that smelled like a chemical factory exploded and rubbed off on all your towels and sheets, that you had to frantically wash your hands after applying or else it would get into the cracks in between your fingers and never leave. These days, DIY tans are pretty excellent and, if you take the time to use them properly, no one will be able to tell the difference between something you applied yourself or a glow you spent days working on.

The easiest way to fake a tan is with good old bronzer. Find a shade that’s one to two shades darker than your natural skin so it doesn’t look fake, and be sure to blend the crap out of it with a brush or makeup sponge. (There’s nothing worse than that very obvious line of makeup where your skin changes color in the blink of an eye.) Whether it’s a creamy formula you can apply to the high points of your face where the sun would naturally hit it for just a hint of glow, a stick you can use to contour and give some depth to your “tan,” a powder you can lightly dust in a “3” shape on both sides of your face for buildable color, or a loose, shimmer powder you can mix with face oil for an all-over wash, there’s a foolproof bronzing product out there for you.
And if you really want to commit, self-tan your whole bod. Always make sure to test new products out on a small patch of unseen skin so make sure the color jives with your skin tone and that you have control over the product, and then go to town. If you’re using a straight up self-tanning lotion, think about wearing an application mitt so it goes on smooth and even (and doesn’t leave your hands looking like they belong to an Oompa Loompa). Or go the slow and steady route with a 2-for-1, buildable tanning moisturizer.

The best part is that all of the steps I mentioned above (exfoliating, cool showers, moisturizing) are major parts of successful application and care of DIY tans, so do ‘em!

Photo by Jana Kirn.

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