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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Focus...Focus...Focus

Staying focused throughout your workday can be mighty challenging, especially when your to-do list is a long one. So how do you keep on task and get it all done? Depending on how realistic your daily goals are (you do have to sleep at some point) you may not get to everything, but you can at least check off a few priorities at the top.

I’m a big list builder and for me it’s one of the most useful ways to keep my day organized. I make a game out of it by using my favorite erasable pens to actually remove items from the list as I go. Nothing better than an empty sheet at the end of the day. So gratifying!

Though there will be times when the list includes one colossal task that keeps you from erasing anything else. On those days you’ll need more than the satisfaction of using your erasable pen to keep you going. Here are a few helpful suggestions:

Allow breaks.
Get up, stretch…walk around a little. When I worked in an office building I would take short breaks and head for the stairwell. It’s so important to disengage the mind for a moment and get the blood pumping. It helps to refocus and is like hitting the creativity restart button. And if you’re inclined to use this time to jump on Facebook or Instagram to see what the rest of the world is doing, try not to fall into the dreaded time chasm. I know I’ve tumbled in when I find myself taking a quiz to see which Star Wars character I am.

Eat!
I’m not suggesting you sit and eat all day, but when the daily duties overflow it can be easy to let things like breakfast or lunch slip. You need to feed your body to keep your mind functioning at top performance. Without proper fuel you risk running low on energy and getting the “spacies”. Not so good for staying focused.

Use it or lose it.
The mind is like any muscle that needs exercise to stay in shape. If you feel like you’ve lost your edge try some brain teasers to re-sharpen things. Recite the alphabet backward or do a crossword puzzle. Websites like Luminosity offer games that challenge your brain in a fun way.

Clear the clutter
A messy work area makes it hard to focus, not to mention feels overwhelming. Things can pile up pretty quickly when a busy period hits, so allow a little time each week to reorganize. This also gives your mind a nice break to recalibrate.

Get plenty of Z’s.
Sleep deprivation affects your memory, ability to learn new tasks and creates a not-so-pleasant fuzzyheaded feeling. It also shortens our emotional fuse, which can make interactions with others problematic. Don’t live life in a state of irritable confusion. Go to bed instead.

Adjust your brainwaves
Your brain functions at different speeds, or “waves “depending on what you're doing. They range from high focus Gamma and Beta, to meditative Alpha and Theta, down to the Delta sleep state. I find listening to Gamma and Beta inducing binaural beats an invaluable tool to help bring on a hyper-focused state. There are also beats that encourage slower brainwave patterns and promote relaxation. Download MP3s (or order CDs) from Brain Sync, or search for them for free on Youtube.


At the end of it all remember to prioritize, get done what you can, and know that there’s a coming new day to get to the rest!





Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Naturally Confused

When it comes to skincare the term ‘natural’ is thrown every which way, so much so that it seems to have lost any meaning. In fact, there’s actually no legal definition for the word as it relates to personal care. Even so, the trend for consumers looking for natural skincare is ever increasing, but what does it really mean and say about the integrity of a product?

Just like eating habits, the level of ‘clean’ you require in your skincare depends on your perceptions and desires. Are you vegan? Gluten-free? Only eat organic? Then you probably want to look for products labeled with those certifications. I’m personally not concerned about gluten and while I love to have as many plant-derived ingredients in my skincare as possible, I also want it to be effective and safe. Consider an ingredient category such as peptides, which are often engineered in a lab to give them more bang for their buck and improve stability. Maybe not so natural, but I definitely believe in the power of their benefits and want them on my skin.

Having been in the beauty industry longer than I care to say, I’ve come across the gamut of companies that boast the natural claim—from thoughtful, well-crafted products to blowing-smoke-up- your-you-know-where marketing.  So how do you cut through the hype? One way to encourage your natural confidence is to look for organic products with either the US-NOP (National Organic Program) or Ecocert label. There are also a couple of NGOs, the Natural Products Association and NaTrue, that offer a certification label for natural claims. Though please keep in mind that there are many fantastic indie and small lines out there that may not yet be in a place where they can afford these costly certifications.

So how do you know if your skincare products meet your natural requirements? Start conversations with the companies who make them. Ask about their ingredient supply chains and why they include certain things in their formulas. Do your homework when it comes to ingredients, it’s your right as an informed consumer to know what you’re putting on your skin!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Neroli, Sweet Intoxication

Anyone who knows me knows my obsession with Neroli oil. I simply can’t get enough, and even keep a small vial with me wherever I go. This gorgeously fragrant oil is distilled from the blossoms of the bitter orange tree and offers a myriad of calming benefits.

More than just a “pretty scent”, Neroli is one of the most expensive oils to produce, with at least 1000 pounds of the steam-distilled blossoms producing just one pound of oil. The end result is a sweet, honey-like floral aroma that can have fresh citrus, spice or green notes depending from where it originates.  One of my personal favorites is organically grown in Morocco. I find it intoxicatingly delicious, and you can grab a little for yourself from the folks at Eden Botanicals.

What I love about Neroli—besides the scent—is how it affects the both the emotions and skin. It calms and sedates the mind as well as uplifts, which make it a fantastic ally in times of stress, grief or depression. I like to call it my BFF of essential oils. And its slightly hypnotic affect makes it a valuable asset for any insomniac (myself included). The highly calming attributes of Neroli also work on the skin and is revered for its regenerative properties for both mature and acneic skin conditions. What’s not to love?

This heady aroma gets its name from Princess Anne Marie Orsini of Nerola, Italy, who in the late 17th century was so enamored with the fragrance she soaked in bathwater infused with the blossoms and used the oil to scent her gloves. She made smelling like orange blossoms quite fashionable in her day and hence, the name ‘Neroli’ was born.

I would be completely remiss if I didn’t mention Neroli’s equally gorgeous sister, Orange Blossom absolute. Yes, still extracted from the flowers of the bitter orange tree, yet with a much deeper, richer aroma than her more delicate sibling. The oil is solvent extracted instead of steam distilled, and yields a viscous, intensely aromatic oil. The beautiful, highly concentrated aroma makes it an extremely popular and sought after scent for use in fine and natural perfumery. In fact, in addition to Neroli I also carry a little vial of it with me when I’m out and about. Just a dab has been known to attract some positive attention. A nice side-effect, indeed.

One caveat when using any essential oil or absolute: be sure and dilute them in either carrier oil or alcohol before applying to the skin. Although they smell pretty, they’re not to be used frivolously. These highly concentrated, plant-derived substances have a small molecular size that easily make their way into your bloodstream. Use them with respect and they’ll make your world a more beautifully fragrant place to be.

To learn more on the subject check out these websites:

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

An Inspired Start

Welcome to the launch of my blog, A Beauty(full) Thing. Yes the name is a little grammatically cheesy, though I wanted to get across my point that here you’ll find a resource full of various beauty-related things. Get it? My greater goal is to not only include information on cosmetic ingredients and trends, but also provide bits of inspiration and highlight some cool people doing cool things in the industry.

I'm kicking things off with a post that falls into the “bits of inspiration” category. It contains a few reminders of ways to make your workday more meaningful and is a list of things I find valuable in keeping myself centered amidst the often-chaotic workday.

Stay positive.
I feel like I’m stating the obvious here, but we all know how hard it can be to remain optimistic when life throws a few challenges your way. The more things feel out of control the more important it is to give yourself a break. It's really the only way to keep sane. Even a quick respite can make a huge difference. And focusing on what's working instead of the craziness will help you ride the waves with a little more ease. Which leads me too…

Refill the well.
No matter how busy you get you have to give yourself some down time. I learned this one (and am still learning) the hard way, having ended up completely burned out more than a few times. The only way I've been able to wrap my head around the concept was by understanding that down time is a necessary part of getting anything worthwhile done. Without this mindset you run the risk of your energy well running dry and ending up completely depleted. Not so fun.

Embrace authenticity.
Real is so much better than fake, don’t you think? Acting in a way that’s inauthentic can be awfully constricting and feel horrible—not to mention dishonest. When you act authentically you also give others the space to do the same and sets up greater potential for creating more meaningful relationships—whether at work or home. Give yourself permission to unfurl that freak flag from time-to-time and let your true self shine through.

Hold yourself accountable.
A sure sign of emotional maturity is when you can admit your mistakes and take responsibility for your actions. It reminds me of someone I once worked with who constantly threw their co-workers under the bus for various project mishaps, even when some (or all) of the blame fell on their shoulders. This very talented individual didn’t quite get the concept of “team player”. We’re all human and to err is…well, you know. When you take the high road you gain the trust and respect of those around you—a necessary part of building healthy relationships.

Lead by example.
The most motivational leaders are those that inspire through their actions. We all know the contrasting experiences of positive, supportive leadership vs. the micromanaging and disempowering variety. Lead the way you would like to be led. Want to be respected? Be respectful. Want to create an environment of transparency? Be transparent. And so on, and so on…

Stay connected.
To throw an old cliché your way, no man (or woman) is an island. We’re social creatures by nature and need human contact to thrive. This is even more vital if you work from home or have a position where you fly solo most of the time. Get out, network, or join a class...anything that helps you feel connected.  Allow yourself to be supported and supportive. When I find myself having full-on conversations with my houseplants I know it’s time get out amongst fellow humans.

Encourage creativity.
I don’t care who you are or what you do, YOU are creative. Whether you’re an accountant, painter, programmer or designer allow yourself to do something creative, whatever that means to you. Creativity gets our juices flowing and ignites a sense of passion that spills over into all aspects of life—use it.

Be brave.
I’m not saying be fearless. Fearlessness is not the same as bravery. You can be fearless and brave, but you can also be quaking in your boots with fear and be brave. It’s that moment that you choose to step out of your comfort zone and push yourself—whether it’s rushing into a burning building or making a difficult phone call. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other, even when you can’t see the path. 

So there you have it, the first installment of my weekly blog. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. In the coming weeks look for information on cosmetic ingredients and industry news, along with a few other things. And a special shout out to calligrapher extraordinaire May Key Lee for blessing me with her beautiful handwriting talents for the title of this blog. Please check out more of May Key's incredible works of art on Instagram

Thank you for taking the time read...any and all comments are welcome!

Warmly,
Mollie