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

#MovementMonday: TRX Arms with Michelle Vahey

#MovementMonday: TRX Arms with Michelle Vahey

TRX is back — this week, Michelle is tackling arms! We think you’ll want to follow suit…

This post comes to you from TRX instructor and co-founder of VIDA Performance Michelle Vahey, who will be introducing us to new workouts all month long! 

Note: For each exercise, aim to do 10-15 reps of each, 1- 3 rounds.

TRX Y DELTOID FLY; 10-15 reps

Stand with your feet together (harder) or apart (easier), arms pulled back to a Y position, tension on the TRX, palms forward. Lower body, keep arms straight, return to start position by slowly extending arms. Try not to bend the arms and keep your body on a plank position.

TRX ROW; 10-15 reps

Start by pulling your shoulders down and back, bend elbows, palms facing each other, hands besides chest. Walk your feet towards the anchor point until there is a squeeze on the back. Lower your body down by extending your arms but don’t protract your shoulder blades. Maintain plank position. Return, pull body toward anchor point by driving elbows beside body.

 

TRX BICEP CURL; 10-15 reps

Start by bending your elbows higher than your shoulders with pinkies aligned to temples. Walk your feet towards anchor point until you feel a squeeze in the biceps. Lower body down until arms are fully extended, maintain plank. Pull body toward anchor point by bringing pinkies to temples. Elbows remain high, eyes on anchor point.

TRX SWIMMER PULL; 10-15 reps

Start with hands besides hips, palms back, tension on the TRX. Offset your feet. Lower body down, keep arms extended, maintain plank. Pull on handles, drive palms back, maintain plank.

TRX TRICEP PRESS; 10-15 reps

Stand facing away from the anchor point. Extend arms in front of shoulders, palms down. Choose appropriate foot stance, keeping in mind that the closer your feet are to the anchor point, the harder this may be. Keep elbows up and stationary, lower body down until thumbs are next to temples. Drive through palms to extend the arms while maintaining plank.

TRX CHEST PRESS; 10-15 reps

Start facing away from the anchor point. Extend arms in front of shoulders, and choose your foot stance. Maintain plank as you lower body down by bending elbows 90 degrees. Drive through the palms while squeezing the chest, maintain plank position at all times.

+ Check back next Monday for more from Michelle, and check out other #MovementMonday routines here! 

Free People Blog

How to Whiten Your Teeth: 17 Ways to Brighten Your Smile

This was originally posted on https://www.allure.com/story/whiten-your-teeth along with the image used.

Want whiter, brighter teeth? Read on to learn how to whiten teeth at home with 15 teeth-whitening tactics, complete with tips from top dentists.

Having trouble with losing hair or thinning hair?  Our blog takes the best around from the internet about hair care and beauty.  Reverse female hair loss with us today!

FP Escapes: To Sardinia & Corsica, With Love

FP Escapes: To Sardinia & Corsica, With Love

Our resident waterborne chef Sandy Ho recalls with magic and humility the emotion found on July’s sailing retreat…

Being a chef holds with it a good deal of responsibility — in essence, you’re looking out for those people who’ve chosen to sit at your table. Nourishing the bodies of seventeen beautiful souls on last month’s Escape through Sardinia and Corsica proved no less a challenge, but more so, an absolute dream.

We met on a hot day in the coastal town of Olbia, eager to immerse our spirits into the intentions set early in the week — To be present. To know your mind. With sails full of wind, water beside, behind and beneath us, I prepared lunch in the galley — clams in organic rose and marinated tomatoes with burrata and bottarga. Everyone was in the water, glistening under the sun. Time lost its rigidity.

Food never tasted better. We soaked up its last juices with fluffy quinoa and wiped up oozing burrata with fragrant leaves of basil picked from our boat garden. Forks and spoons were put aside, because we had our hands. We were full and joyful from this land, from this sea, and we ate like an Italian family.

I watched my fellow sailors practice yoga from atop an ancient fortress we found along the way. A place we would call home for the night. And now with the sun setting over these warriors, I prepared vegetables for dinner feeling the full presence of my purpose for the week. Every day, as our guests studied yoga and meditation, I practised my own meditation through cooking — not knowing what dish would come next, but intuitively healing and understanding what our bodies were craving through conversation.

Some nights we stayed up like children, giggling and dancing out all of our energy. Then we would swim under the stars. floating on our backs. I’m present again with those memories forged, and so thankful to have shared my meditation with new family.

+ Looking to travel? Learn more about our FP Escapes here

Photos by Stefan Wigand.

Free People Blog

Hear Trump Talking About How Ivanka Calls Him “Daddy”

This was originally posted on https://www.allure.com/story/donald-trump-likes-ivanka-calling-him-daddy along with the image used.

President Donald Trump was joined by Ivanka on Wednesday in North Dakota, where he was speaking about tax reform. He said Ivanka asked, “‘Daddy’ can I go with you?”

Having trouble with losing hair or thinning hair?  Our blog takes the best around from the internet about hair care and beauty.  Reverse female hair loss with us today!

Wellness Encyclopedia: Sweet Potatoes + Sweet Potato Toast, 3 Ways

Wellness Encyclopedia: Sweet Potatoes + Sweet Potato Toast, 3 Ways

Learn all the reasons you should be sweet on sweet potatoes…

My love affair with sweet potatoes began with my first Whole30. Before that, I’d never eaten them, save for the occasional, unpleasant Thanksgiving fork-full of sweet potatoes topped with marshmallows at my grandmother’s house (a more confusing dish I dare you to find). For unknown reasons (reasons likely related to their affiliation with marshmallows), they were practically banned from my mother’s table, so it wasn’t until that initial Whole30 that I was introduced to how truly incredible sweet potatoes can be in both flavor and nutrition. Now, these power-packed roots are a staple in my diet, and as fall draws closer and the weather cools, they’re ever more present on my table. Root vegetables like sweet potatoes are packed with vitamins and minerals key to powering us through the colder months. Think of a root as the powerplant to what grows above the earth’s surface, brimming with energy and, in the case of sweet potatoes, rutabagas, turnips, carrots, and their ilk, deep beneficial nutrition. As we enter into September and the leaves begin to turn (no joke: yellow and orange leaves were spotted in Central Pennsylvania this weekend), whether we’re fully aware of it or not, our diets will likely turn towards more warming foods to prepare our bodies for the months that lie ahead. Learn all the reasons you should be sweet on sweet potatoes below, then scroll to the bottom for three easy sweet potato toast recipes.

What are sweet potatoes?

Only distantly related to regular white potatoes, sweet potatoes are a perennial vine that boasts gorgeous trumpet-like flowers and a delicious edible root. Thought to be native to Central and/or South America, remnants of sweet potatoes dating as far back as 8,000 years have been found in Peru. Often confused with yams, sweet potatoes typically have lower sugar content and are smaller than yams, which are native to Africa and are typically not grown in the US. Yams boast white flesh and rough skins, and can grow up to eight feet in length! Additionally, it’s safe to eat sweet potatoes raw, whereas yams are toxic unless cooked properly.

What are the benefits of sweet potatoes?

Rich in antioxidants like beta-carotene, which converts to vitamin A in your body, sweet potatoes could boost cellular turnover for younger-looking skin and help protect eyesight from macular degeneration (pro tip: adding a little fat, like coconut oil or olive oil, to your sweet potato will boost absorption and conversion of beta-carotene). A natural prebiotic, fibre-rich sweet potatoes feed the good bacteria in your gut, promoting better digestion and regularity and helping to eliminate bloat. The anthocyanins in purple sweet potatoes could boost brain function and protect against degeneration of brain tissue and prevent memory loss, these same pigments have been linked to collagen production, potentially reducing the signs of aging. While many are quick to write off starchy root vegetables like sweet potatoes, research has shown that they could actually improve blood sugar regulation. Because we digest them slowly, thanks in part to their high fibre content, blood sugar is kept at a steady state instead of spiking and dropping the way it would with other carbs and starches.

How do I use sweet potatoes?

One of my favorite – and unexpected – ways to use sweet potatoes these days is by tossing a handful of steamed sweet potato into a smoothie. They’re a creamy, low sugar alternative to banana and delicious combined with a dash of cinnamon, a splash of nut milk, and your favorite protein powder. Sweet potato also lends itself well to soups, salads (try roasting some up and serving with arugula), baked goods, and they can be used in place of white potatoes in most cases. And while sweet potato fries are in fact delicious, it’s important to keep in mind the healthiest way to enjoy these delicious roots is as unadulterated as possible: steamed, baked skin-on, or lightly dry roasted. Try the recipe below for a new take on toast that will keep your belly happy and feeling full ‘till lunch:

Sweet Potato Toast, 3 Ways

Ingredients

Sweet potatoes (1 medium sweet potato makes about 3-4 slices)

To prepare the sweet potatoes: Preheat your oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Rinse and dry sweet potatoes. Slice sweet potatoes lengthwise, about ¼ inch thick and place on baking sheet. Place in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until bottoms are slightly browned and pieces are cooked through but firm.

PB-Banana-Cacao:

Natural peanut butter or nut butter of choice

1 Banana

Cacao nibs

Cinnamon

Method

Spread sweet potatoes with nut butter and top with banana slices. Sprinkle with cacao nibs and cinnamon.

Avocado “Toast”:

Ripe avocado

Cumin

Sea salt

Black pepper

Method

Layer slices of avocado on top of sweet potato slices. Sprinkle with cumin, sea salt, and black pepper.

Blueberry-Almond Butter:

Almond butter

Blueberries

Nutmeg

Method

Spread sweet potato slices with almond butter and top with blueberries and nutmeg.

Enjoy!

+ Be sure to check out more Wellness Encyclopedia posts!

Follow Julie on Instagram + check out her blog.

Free People Blog

#MovementMonday: TRX Abs with Michelle Vahey

#MovementMonday: TRX Abs with Michelle Vahey

New season, new you! Welcoming TRX into your fitness routine…

This post comes to you from TRX instructor and co-founder of VIDA Performance Michelle Vahey, who will be introducing us to new workout series all month long! 

TRX SIDE PLANK WITH ROTATION

Start by suspending your feet on to the straps. Make sure your feet are dorsi flexed (toes towards your shins) at all times, your legs and core are active and engaged. To start the rotation make sure your elbow is right under your shoulder and begin lifting your hips as you rotate your chest to face down parallel to the ground and your toes will face downwards to the ground, forming a V shape with your body. Return to the side plank and repeat.

BODY SAW WITH KNEE TUCK

Start with feet suspended and dorsi flexed (as if you where standing on the ground), elbows directly underneath your shoulders. Begin the saw by pulling feet back so shoulders move away from your elbows, important to keep squeezing your gluteus  AT ALL TIMES to protect your lower back. Make sure you don’t sag your hips. As the feet come back toward the starting point,  bring the knees in towards your chest and lift the hips to create a crunch. Extend legs back to initial plank and repeat.

TRX PIKE

Make sure that you dorsi flex your feet while suspended on your plank. Squeeze your gluteus and make sure your hands are directly underneath your shoulders. To begin the pike press the feet on the straps using your leg strength and begin to lift your hips up to the ceiling, creating a V shape with your body while your head naturally will end in between your biceps. Release back to your strong plank, repeat.

TRX OBLIQUE KNEELING ROLL OUT

Start directly underneath the anchor point, facing away from it. Kneel sideways and then turn your torso so your shoulders are parallel to the ground. Start rolling forward, leading with your front hip. Make sure your arms stay straight and never allow biceps to roll out past your ears. Inhale on the roll out and exhale on the roll in. Keep core engaged at all times. Repeat.

TRX SUPINE LEG DROP

Begin by extending your straps about 3 inches from the ground. Lay on your back with your head underneath the anchor point and your feet going away from the anchor point. Press your hands on the cradles with your arms straight by your hips. Press your hands on the cradles as you lift both legs up and lower slowly using your core.
+ Check back next Monday for more from Michelle and check out other #MovementMonday routines here! 

 

Free People Blog

How to Layer Skincare for Optimal Results: Morning Routine

How to Layer Skincare for Optimal Results: Morning Routine

It’s time to focus on sun-in-the-sky skincare…

Back in my uninformed youth, before I started to take skincare seriously (so like, three years ago?), I assumed there was no difference between what I put on my face in the morning and what I put on my face at night. Skincare was skincare…it didn’t matter what I applied when or in what order, right?

But then I learned that your skin does the bulk of its healing at night while you sleep, and so then I assumed my nighttime routine was more important than my morning one. I dutifully spent upwards of 20 minutes over the sink every night, double cleansing and facial massaging and serum pressing and eye cream dabbing. It was quite a bit of work (and quite a few products), but I noticed a difference in my skin almost immediately and so have kept at it all this time, much to chagrin of my very patient, very sleepy S.O.

I was spending so much time focused on my evening skin that I failed to recognize the importance of what I was using in the morning. And while I wouldn’t say my skin suffered for it — those 20 minutes really did work wonders — when I finally did start paying attention, things on and around my face got way better than I ever could have dreamed.

I’ve already walked you through how to layer your nighttime products for optimal results, so now it’s time to focus on sun-in-the-sky skincare. Without further ado, this is how to approach your AM routine:

Step 1: Cleanser

Truth be told, a morning cleanse is totally your call. Since all you’ve done since the last time you washed your face was apply restorative, soothing products and sleep, there’s no need to wash your face in the morning. It’s a personal preference, one you’ll have to figure out for yourself.

Personally, I like to cleanse in the morning as I feel like it starts my day off right and offers a clean slate for what I apply to my face next. But if you have dry skin and can’t risk the extra cleanse, by all means skip it.

If you do choose to cleanse, pick a product that’s gentle and non-foaming. You don’t need something with suds at this point in the day (like I said, you don’t really have anything on your skin that needs washing off), so opt for a cleansing milk or gel that will be soft on the skin. You can also use an oil cleanser here if you’re really intent on removing all traces of the previous night’s products, but be sure to remove all traces of the cleanser thoroughly or any makeup you apply later will slide right off your face.

Step 2: Exfoliate-ish

Proceed with caution here. Again, if you’re prone to irritation or dryness, skip the AM exfoliation and stick to doing it a few nights a week to keep dead skin cells at bay. If not, consider incorporating some very gentle exfoliation with a warm, damp cotton washcloth into your morning routine. Starting at your nose and working out toward your temples, forehead and chin in small circles will help slough away dead skin and massage the skin, stimulating blood flow and reducing facial swelling and post-sleep puffiness. When you’re done, splash some cold water over your face.

Step 3: Toner/Essence

No matter your skin type, this is a step you don’t want to skip. Not only does a facial mist deposit much-needed moisture into your skin, it also helps keep skin balanced throughout the day so you don’t have to deal with the dreaded 3 pm oil slick so many of us are familiar with.

If you are oily, opt for a pH-balancing toner. All other skin types would benefit from either a hydrating toner or facial mist to soothe skin and get skin nice and hydrated for what’s next. Be sure to spray liberally all over your face, neck and chest — this is one thing that you can really never use too much of.

Step 4: Serum

If you’re not using a daytime serum, it may be time to consider adding one to your routine. Since they’re packed with such powerful, skin-changing ingredients, there’s no reason why you wouldn’t want them sinking in throughout the day as well. Just be careful about what you choose to apply during the day vs. the nighttime: certain ingredients like vitamin C and retinoids can increase your skin’s photosensitivity, so wearing them during the day can leave your skin more vulnerable than usual to the sun’s rays.

Save photosensitive serums for your nighttime routine and instead look for ingredients that play nice with the elements, like rose, vitamin E and caffeine. That mist you helpfully spritzed in the last step is crucial for serum absorption: the serum will latch onto the water molecules of the mist and ride them deep into your skin.

Step 5: Moisturizer

Unless you have very dry skin, you shouldn’t need more than a light, daily moisturizer in the morning. That said, pay attention to the formula you pick as it 1) needs to last all day 2) stand up to what your face faces all day long and 3) get along well with your skin type. Prone to irritation? Choose a product with calming ingredients chamomile and rosehip. Oily? You’ll definitely want an oil-free moisturizer. Spend a lot of time outside? Double up with SPF moisturizer. Not big on makeup but want a little coverage? Tinted moisturizer for the win!

Applying moisturizer is another great excuse to massage your face in case there’s any residual puffiness lingering.

Step 6: SPF

As if I have to tell you again, but if you insist: WEAR SPF EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. I’m not kidding. Serums and toners aside, this is the single most important thing you can do for the health of your skin in both the short and long term. Since your face tends to get more play in the sun on a regular day and it’s also thinner skin, you’ll definitely want an everyday SPF that’s formulated specifically for your face. It’ll be less likely to clog pores and more likely to rub in without a trace. If you don’t want to add another product to your arsenal, find a daytime moisturizer that contains SPF.

Regardless of what formula you use, though, make sure it’s the last thing you apply before makeup. SPF forms a film on top of the skin to shield it and putting anything other than makeup on top of it can disrupt that coverage, opening it up to let the sun through.

+ Now that you got your morning routine, check out how to layer your nighttime routine

Photo by Jana Kirn

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

Natural vs. Organic vs. Non-Toxic: What Do They Mean?

Natural vs. Organic vs. Non-Toxic: What Do They Mean?

Do you want natural? Organic? Non-toxic? Is there a difference?…

Once upon a time, in days of yore, finding plant-based skincare and beauty products that actually did what they promised they would was about as difficult as pretending to like a kale-celery-jalapeno juice. But times have changed and not only are gorgeous plant-based products as effective as ever, they’re easy to come by.

As great as it is that these better-for-you formulas are easily accessible, there’s still quite a bit of confusion around the language used to describe them. Do you want natural? Organic? Non-toxic? Is there a difference?

You know reading the ingredient portion of a label is important, but it’s equally crucial that you read — and understand — other parts of a product label as well, namely the adjectives it touts. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by insider-seeming jargon but a little information can be extremely powerful in your quest to decipher the real stuff from the imposters. Ready to get your learning on? Keep reading.

Organic

Highly-regulated by the the USDA, “organic” is one of the only claims you can really be 100% sure about when it comes to skincare and beauty products. (Caveat: While a label can claim a product is organic, if it also doesn’t feature this symbol, that label is LYING TO YOU and the maker is likely in for a world of trouble when the USDA gets wind of their false advertising.) For makers to claim a product as organic, they need to apply for organic certification with the USDA, have an agent come check their ingredients and facilities, and only after all this are they awarded the distinction.

So what does organic mean? Simply put, all or almost all of the ingredients have been grown and processed under very strict conditions. If the product is “100% organic,” everything in that product was grown the good old (old) fashioned way: no pesticides, no fertilizers, no herbicides, no antibiotics, no growth hormones, no GMOs.

An “organic” product means that 95% of the ingredients meet the criteria. One thing to note, however, is that the percentage of ingredients that need to be produced in these conditions to qualify something as organic varies from state to state. In California, for example, only 70% of ingredients are needed for something to qualify.

Natural

At the complete opposite end of the spectrum is the “natural” claim — there are virtually zero regulations around this claim, meaning you should proceed with caution when considering a product that claims to be “natural” or “all-natural.”

Yes, some “natural” formulas are just that: they may contain plant-based natural ingredients that just aren’t organic and so can’t sport that nifty USDA seal of approval. But there are also plenty of products touted as natural that contain highly processed, potentially harmful plant-derived ingredients.

Coconut oil and its labeling is a great example of this issue. You know the product in your hands comes from coconuts, but unless that jar says “organic,” you have no way of knowing if you’re getting the real, raw stuff or if what they’re claiming as “natural” is actually rotten, dried, chemically-treated, dyed and deodorized coconut byproduct.

The best way to figure out if a “natural” claim is legit is to read the ingredient list very, very carefully. Remember that ingredient decks list ingredients in order of highest percentage to least, so if the first 10 ingredients in something “natural” are organic or plants you recognize, you’re probably safe if you’re not overly concerned about something being 100% organic. Many green products contain a boatload of  organic ingredients without the whole thing being certified as organic, so do your research.

Non-Toxic

Though “non-toxic” is another claim with almost no regulation — aka it’s mostly a marketing tool — it’s not necessarily a harmful claim. You see, “non-toxic” just means the product doesn’t contain ingredients that have been linked to toxic responses (like hormone disruption, cancer, etc.) in humans.

So while you should absolutely still be reading the ingredient list on “non-toxic” products, know that ingredients like phthalates, parabens, lead acetate, formaldehyde, petroleum and coal tar likely won’t be listed…and that’s never a bad thing.

If you want to take classifications one step further, you can also consider whether something is vegan, cruelty-free and plant-based.

For a primer on all things vegan beauty, check out this post. It covers everything from the non-vegan ingredients that might be hiding in your jars and bottles to the symbols you should know to look for.

As far as plant-based beauty goes, you’ll want to check to make sure your product is “synthetic-free,” which quite literally means it contains zero man-made ingredients; 100% of what you’re slathering on your face occurs naturally in the world. “Plant-based” means roughly the same thing — the ingredients are botanical — but it’s important to remember that just because something is plant-based or synthetic-free does not mean it’s organic, and vice-versa. If you want to your products to be uber-clean, make sure all the right boxes are checked.

+ Want to learn more about organic beauty? Read more here

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