Trending Healthy

I walked out of the Indie Beauty Fair feeling more overwhelmed than encouraged. The process of fighting the crowd, going from booth to booth, and hearing about countless products left me exhausted. I wasn’t sure how I could possibly know which product claims were true and, ultimately, which products would work best for me. I’m analytical to a fault at times, and my trip around the Indie Beauty Fair brought out my need for things to be black or white. I flew back to Georgia the following day with many questions still on my mind.

Green, organic, clean, natural, non-toxic. They are buzz words of our generation. We are valiantly attempting to reverse the effects of mass production and consumption while working to provide our children with more simple and cleaner lives. Mindsets and companies are beginning to make changes. It’s encouraging to see changes taking place and the many voices advocating for clean living. Yet, navigating this landscape proves challenging.

I sat reading a few research articles and blog comments on cleaner living the other night. I was shocked to find an absurd amount of hateful talk and fingers pointing here and there about who is right and who is wrong. I closed my computer, looked over at my husband and said, “This is more complicated than I realized. There is confusion surrounding certain ingredients and companies with no definitive answers in sight.” I sat thinking about different arguments swirling around individual ingredients in products labeled as natural or clean, and on a deeper level, I couldn’t help but think about my own life and perceived contradictions.

Like the fact that I occasionally eat the really unhealthy cereals (okay, maybe more than occasionally) or that I take medication for my autoimmune disorder. There is also the fact that my family is involved in conventional farming. Does that disqualify me from having a voice in this area? Does that make my experience less valuable? I felt concerned about products on my blog, figuring it’s a matter of time before the Green Police start disagreeing with my decisions.

My mom is full of wisdom and she makes an effort to live a more healthy lifestyle, so I decided to bring up my thoughts to her. “It feels like there are no clear answers when it comes to living a cleaner and more healthy life. How do I help make a difference when the answers are not clear?” I asked her. She reminded me of the many women struggling with self-confidence and skin issues, and she also reminded me of my own struggles leading to this journey.

Like the time in middle school when I was crying in her arms as we stood in front of the bathroom mirror. My acne was horrible. Kids were mean. There was also the time we traveled to see a prominent esthetician. The results were horrible and made everything about my skin worse.

I also remembered people constantly telling me that I, “need to wash my face,” as if I wasn’t doing that and it would heal all my skin problems.

Most recently, I remembered my first autoimmune disorder related sun rash and walking out of the doctor’s office with the autoimmune disorder diagnosis knowing my life was forever changed. I promised myself that I would make changes in order to give myself the best life possible.

All of these moments and many more are part of my story. It’s so important that we not let confusion or opinions hijack our sense of purpose and passions on any journey. It’s important to hold your story in the forefront so you’re not easily distracted by the many voices lining the road.

I believe, for the most part, we are all living life the best we can with the information available to us–whether that is related to food, children, or beauty products. One of my favorite ideas is the idea of “trending toward” something. That is how I like to think of my life and clean living journey these days. I don’t have all of the answers when it comes to ingredients and products, and I don’t know that anyone ever will. I know that some things are a big “No” while others are still in question. I know that opinions vary on different companies. Most importantly, I know what works for me and what to avoid to prevent autoimmune flares.

I am trending toward making better decisions for my family and personal health one day at a time. My goal here is to help you trend toward a better life. A life where you are confident in your beauty, decisions, and health. Yes, the choices can be overwhelming at times, but this is a journey rather than a final destination. You simply have to start somewhere.

These days I am giving myself some grace and extending that to others. It has helped ease the burden I feel to make the absolute best, right, cleanest, most perfect decision possible.

-Jess

Facial Cleanser Favorites

Let’s talk about Facial Cleansers. It’s one of my favorite beauty products, and I have to be careful not to constantly buy new ones! I used to wash my face with really harsh products, many medicated with acne treatments or full of harsh exfoliators. I later learned that more gentle cleansers are best for everyone…even acne prone skin. Most of my acne cleared up when I switched to cleaner and more gentle cleansers. It was the first step on the journey to better skin for me. You will find my current cleanser routine & links to two others cleansers I love below.

Beauty Swaps.png

Currently Using

Charcoal Bar by Beautycounter: I use this at night to remove makeup, but it could be used both morning and night. Made with organic green tea and coconut oil! It helps clean pores, control blackheads, & absorbs skin impurities. A great, low cost product that makes a HUGE difference. It’s also great for the men and children in your family. I seriously love it!

Shop Here

Nourishing Cream Exfoliator by Beautycounter: I use this in the morning. It has a wonderful refreshing citrus scent. It’s very gentle with aloe and coconut oil and contains jojoba beads to give your face an extra scrub. It’s a perfect morning cleanser for me! I can do samples of this, so let me know if you’re interested!

Shop Here

Other Favorites

Easy Does it by One Love Organics: This face wash is made on St. Simons Island, GA, which is where I got married. It’s super gentle and calming, leaving your face feeling clean and soft. It also doubles as a body wash and shampoo! One Love Organics is one of my favorite brands!

Shop Here

Brightening Cleanser by Indie Lee: The Indie Lee story is pretty amazing. I’m constantly inspired by this company. This cleanser was the first I tried when transitioning to clean beauty, and it’s still a tried and true staple. It removes makeup and helps brighten your skin. This is a great face wash for everyone, but I would especially recommend it for preteens and teens.

Shop Here

When Natural Beauty Fails

I was sifting through old pictures on my phone a few days ago. I found a few pictures from my early days of switching to natural beauty products, and they gave me a good laugh. They reminded me of the phase I went through in elementary school of using hairspray to spray down every single flyaway in my hair. I seriously looked like a greaser. In all fairness, there was no reasoning with me so my mom just let me go at it every morning. My youngest sister also went through this phase a few years back…hair slicked right down to her head. I guess it just runs in the family! It’s a wonder all of my hair didn’t fall out during that period.

As I experimented with natural products, there were definitely items that did not work for me. I thought I looked good but the fact that I did not continue to use those products and the photographic evidence prove otherwise. And, it wasn’t just makeup. I remember my skin feeling like a seashell from the natural body wash I was using. My hair also returned to early greaser days as I switched to natural hair products. Then, there were my attempts at making homemade laundry detergent, which my husband eventually (and so kindly) asked me to step away from. The entire process ended up being wildly disappointing. I looked older and worse than ever and our clothes felt dirty. Great.

Sometimes natural products do not work. 

Like everything in life, we often have to work to find a great fit. What may work for one person may be a total misfit for another. I had to learn to step away from reviews and start trusting my gut on certain products and, for a while, I did go back to my less than natural favorites. I went back to my trusted products that I had used for years because at least I looked okay while using them. I came back around, though, and was determined to discover new favorites that were also safer and without completely breaking the bank. I also had to accept a few things about myself. Like the fact that I am not a maker of products. There are plenty of laundry detergents out there that are safe and do not require me to spend time grating soap. You may be very skilled at that, but it just wasn’t for me.

Sometimes you find a wonderful natural product that you just can’t live without!

I decided to really use samples to my advantage, and that is one of the best pieces of advice I can give to anyone making a transition with their beauty products. I quickly learned that there are a few brands that I love and that work for me. I try to stick with those companies rather than spending all of my time trying new brands and products. Along the way, I’ve discovered some really awful products. Some really disappointing brands. I’ve also discovered that what may be awful for me may be your absolute favorite and that is perfectly okay.

What works for me? 

  • Beautycounter: Seriously my favorite brand at this time. I use so many of their products. Shampoo, conditioner, lotion, facial oil, foundation, lipstick, etc. I LOVE that I can get all of these products in one place. My husband even uses it and loves it. I also love that I get to work as a consultant and connect friends and family directly with items I believe in! Let me know if you’re interested in any samples by emailing prettywellblog@gmail.com. 
  • One Love Organics:  I haven’t used anything by One Love that I haven’t loved. Everything is made in small batches and you can really tell that they put a lot of thought into the quality. LOVE!
  • Indie Lee: I love their glass bottles and I love their products even more. Only one product from them has not worked for me. Everything else has been a dream!
  • Vapour Organic Beauty: I would call Vapour the Cadillac of natural beauty. It’s luxurious plus they offer samples so you can try it before diving right in!

Of course, there are very popular companies that have not worked for me & are not on my list. There are also a ton of companies I have not tried at this point. My best advice: find what works for you slowly but surely. And, for goodness’ sake, do not turn into a greaser! If it’s not working, move on!

-Jess

Redefining Beauty

My history with beauty hasn’t always been clean.

I held my breath as the doctor approached my forehead with a syringe. The waivers were signed. The possible outcomes were understood. Today was the day I would say goodbye to that pesky line between my eyebrows. I was 23 years old and a few years of looking at the computer screen and thinking too hard were beginning to show on my face…specifically right between my eyes. The line had become a catch-all for my makeup and a source of insecurity. I was much too young for this, and I knew there was already a solution in place. So, I called up my esthetician and scheduled a consultation and then an appointment. Within a few days, I walked out of the office with a shiny new forehead.

As I went to sleep that night, I felt a wave of panic come over me as I realized I could not exactly move my forehead. The connection between my brain and muscles had ceased, and it freaked me out! While I spent the next few months more confident in my looks (goodbye forehead crease!), I promised myself I would never go through the process again. I started to ask why this was the latest beauty craze. Sure, we want to look young. Sure, it can help with headaches. But, there was something that was now missing from me..from who I am…my ability to express myself felt completely stifled. Some people are perfectly okay with that, but I was not ready to let it go.

Today, my forehead line has returned. It’s a little deeper than before. I know that no cream or natural remedy will fix it. I even went through a few nights of trying to use wrinkle tape to help smooth it out. Lately, I’ve really been working through accepting the aging process and focusing more on self-care and wellness rather than just outward appearances. Putting something on my skin that is toxic simply is not worth it. I’m already dealing with a compromised immune system, and I am on a mission to give my body the best chance to be healthy.

And, the reality is, this injection was not my first attempt to look better. At a young age, I started having chemical peels and going through Retin-A treatments. I had acid applied to a scar on my chin to help it heal again in a less noticeable way.  My chemical peel journey ended after the peel refused to settle down…leaving me with the worst feeling face ever. All of these moments…all of these instances…made me look at myself and question the underlying insecurities.

What is beauty? Why is our society pushing so hard against the aging process?

And, you may ask, what is the difference between injections and simply using a natural cream with promises of brightening your skin? Honestly, I do often ask myself this question. Isn’t the motivation ultimately the same?

I think the difference ultimately lies within the risks we are willing to take in the name of beauty. There is nothing wrong with wanting to feel prettier but…what happens when prettier means taking major health risks?

What is the definition of beauty? What value has our culture placed on that definition?

For me, I am in the process of redefining what beauty means to me and how I perceive beauty in others. I want to tell young girls that makeup does not define them. That perfectly shaped eyebrows and smooth skin are not necessary. I want to tell them that they are enough, and they are beautiful.

The quest for perfection is trickling down to younger and younger generations. It has to stop somewhere and it’s going to take a generation of young women standing up and saying…

“I’ve got some lines and that is just fine. My skin is not perfect, but I will not sacrifice my health in the name of beauty.”

No one will ever be perfect on this journey. I am surely not. What can we do? We can begin to redefine beauty, and we can begin to encourage our mothers and sisters and friends to trend toward wellness and health. One step at a time.

 

Eyeshadow Favorites

Let’s talk about eyeshadow. Eye shadow is one of my favorite beauty products. It’s versatile, affordable, and really sets the tone of a makeup look. I can barely walk away from a beautiful pink or gold shimmer. I had a nice collection of colors from one brand that I ended up setting aside for cleaner alternatives. I thought it would be hard to replace them, but I quickly found new favorites. The best part? The new ones do not bother my eyes! Ever. I am sharing with you my three favorite eyeshadows to date.

rms

RMS Beauty Eye Polish

This eyeshadow is creamy and full of pigments. A little goes a long way, and it’s super easy to apply even with your fingers. The end result is a subtle, glossy look that leaves your eyes looking fresh rather than heavy. The best part? It pulls double duty and moisturizes the eyes while being worn to help fight aging! If you do have oily skin, just make sure you use a minimum amount rather than using a normal amount. This product lasts forever!

Favorite Shades: Lunar, Myth

100%

100% Pure Fruit Pigmented Eye Shadow

This eyeshadow is most similar to the one I said goodbye to for a cleaner alternative. So easy to apply and blend. You really can’t mess up the application process. Plus, it stays put all day. There is a great selection of shades to choose from…all free from synthetic dyes!

Favorite Shades: Star Bright, Sugared

vapour

Vapour Mesmerize Eye Color

The first day I wore this eyeshadow a coworker stopped me and said, “Your eyes look amazing today! What did you do different?” Well, the difference was the mesmerize eye color. It’s fantastic. It’s creamy but it also reminds me of a powered eyeshadow. It does not crease or run like your typical cream. The pigments in the product are truly amazing, and you are guaranteed to have a twinkle in your eyes! Fig and Flower has an awesome eye palette available with three awesome shades to get you started.

Favorite Shades: Sugar, Firefly

I hope you are able to find a clean shadow for your makeup collection. I think you will be happy with any of these!
-Jess

Review: One Love Organics

One Love Organics is a smaller natural beauty company based out of one of my favorite places–St. Simons Island, GA. The One Love Organic products are ECOCERT, non-toxic, all natural, gentle and effective for all skin types. They were one of the first companies I tried when transitioning to natural products, and I love everything about them! The packaging, the smells, the mission to provide safe products, and (most importantly) the fact that the products work. I’m truly impressed again and again. I recently purchased three new products from One Love Organics, and I want to share with you my thoughts after using them for a few weeks. When I set out on this journey, I promised myself that I would always try any product I share with you. Rest assured that any products you see on Pretty + Well have been in my hands first!

Untitled_design_46_1024x1024

Skin Savior Multi-Tasking Wonder Balm

Uses: Make-up remover & moisturizer

Why It’s Awesome: I was nervous to try this balm since my skin tends to be oily. Oil + oil could be a bad combination, but this has been nothing but wonderful. I’ve used Skin Savior at night and under my make-up in the mornings. You do want to have somewhat damp skin when applying it. My makeup has gone on really smooth without melting down by the end of the work day. I’ve actually had some breakouts clear and seen a reduction in redness. I can’t explain just how silky this product feels. If you have dry skin, you will love it even more! Oh, and the scent? It’s a divine citrus-vanilla.

Tip: I do plan to cut down to using it just at night as the months grow warmer. I don’t know that it will completely hold up during the day during the humid Georgia summers.

Untitled_design_28_83837830-d4b8-4653-b8cd-34fdfc3bd82c_grande

Easy Does It Foaming Cleanser

Uses: Facial cleanser that can also be used on your hair and as a body wash!

Why It’s Awesome: Seriously love this stuff! Face wash is my absolute favorite beauty product to buy. I’ve tried some great ones and some awful ones. The easy does it cleanser makes the top of my list. Again, the scent is lovely. It lathers just right and does a great job of removing all of my makeup. My skin is left feeling clean but not dry. It’s also a great one for your husband to use as well.

Tip: A little goes a long way!

Untitled_design_25_8d307488-cb7c-4fa3-b94e-5570c1877c1f_grande

Brand New Day Microderma Scrub & Masque

Uses: Bi-weekly scrub & masque

Why It’s Awesome: I love a good scrub a few times a week. Brand New Day leaves my skin feeling refreshed and renewed. I mainly use it as a scrub since I am not always patient enough for the masque. I would say to try the small bottle (around $12) before making a larger investment.

Tip: I suggest using it at the sink or in the tub. Using it in the shower can risks getting the entire container of powder wet.

I hope you give one of these One Love Organics products a try. If I had to recommend just one, it would be the Skin Savior Balm. It’s such a unique product…and I am just still amazed by its texture. You can also explore more products by One Love Organics by clicking here.

A Sea of Choices

I tend to get overwhelmed when I have too many choices to make at once. Heck, I even get a little overwhelmed when trying to decide what to eat for dinner. We have so many options screaming at us in all areas of life on a daily basis. There is social media (pick your favorite). Many websites are unusable due to the vast amount of ads flanking the pages. Decisions lurking around every corner and so many things competition for our attention, our time, and our money. It’s becoming our norm as a society and, honestly, sometimes it scares me. I don’t want this place, Pretty + Well, to be a source of confusion for you. I don’t want you to have to feel like you need to go out and buy a bunch of stuff NOW…because you don’t! I want you to be able to make healthy choices for your life in your time and in your way.

After I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder and realized it was time to make some changes, I did feel this urge to change everything  at once. I had moments of filling my online cart with tons of new items to begin transitioning into a more natural lifestyle. I placed unnecessary pressure on myself to make changes really quickly. Throughout the journey, I have experiences times of great success  and times of regret when a product failed after spending good money on it. I realize the journey can be frustrating, and the many options before you can be overwhelming. Here are my tips for navigating through the sea of choices when it comes to beauty products (and anything else for that matter)!

  1. Set a budget! My husband, being oh so wise, decided to give me a budget for buying products to begin with. This helped me set some initial goals and get some of the excitement out of my system.
  2. Set expectations! Do you plan to just transition your beauty products? Makeup? Haircare? Do you also plan to transition to natural household products? It’s important to decide what your goals are for making changes!
  3. Replace one product at a time! Change takes time, and I am more on board with a “slow and steady wins the race” approach rather than a hurried approach that may not stick. For me, I knew mascara had to be first since it was causing me issues every day. For you, it may be another product.
  4. Research before shopping! The Environmental Watch Group has a database called Skin Deep. This was the most helpful tool for browsing products in specific categories. It was also a helpful way to explore my current products to decide what I should no longer use!
  5. Visit a store in person! I was so excited to learn about a natural beauty store in Atlanta called Fig & Flower. My husband and I decided to go check it out, and this is where I spent my initial budget. I felt like I was in heaven. I was able to get some product sample and advice from the store owner, Sara. It also helped me narrow down the product selection. The brands I discovered in Fig & Flower are still my favorite, and I still buy many of my items from the website. Check them out!
  6. Samples are your friend! Many products have a sample option on their website if you do not live near a store. You often have to pay for them, but it’s an affordable way to try out different shades of makeup and beauty products. It’s also useful if you are like me and like to change things up frequently!
  7. Give yourself a break! Lifestyle changes can be hard, so please remember to HAVE FUN! Include friends and family on your journey. Connect with bloggers. Find a way to share your journey and let it be an adventure rather than a burden.

I hope this helps with you with your plans to transition into natural products. I am rooting for you, and I am always happy to answer any questions you have!

-Jess

Sunny Saturday Makeup Day

Saturday mornings at home bring me much happiness. There is nothing like opening the blinds and watching the sun pour in while cooking breakfast. The pace is easy  and there is no pressure to rush off into the world. We haven’t spent a relaxing Saturday morning at home in several weeks, so I was thrilled to sit around in my pajamas and sip coffee (always decaf) this morning. The only thing on the agenda was buying some new plants for the front yard. Feeling inspired by the sun and easiness of the day, I decided to bring out some of my favorite pinks and shimmers while doing my makeup for plant shopping.

IMG_7555.jpg

I recently took advantage of the 21 Days of Beauty sale at Ulta. It’s an awesome way to try out products for half of the price. Not all of their products are natural, but you can shop some great brands like Tarte and Juice Beauty. There are still a few more days left of the promotions! I’ve included a few of the new products in my look today. Ohhhh, my super cute t-shirt is from a company called Milk and Honey Tees. I am really into stylish t-shirts these days as my stomach continues to make room for our little one. It’s perfect for a casual Saturday look and unbelievably comfortable.

RMS Eye Polish, Luna & MagneticTarte Lights, Cameras, Lashes Mascara-6.png

Here’s to sunny Saturdays and easy weekends. It sure is doing this girl some good, and I wish the same for you! Please let me know if you have any questions about the products listed.

New Products

Tarte Double Duty Beauty Confidence Creamy Powder: I am always hesitant to use powder foundations alone. I typically always pair them with a liquid to avoid spotty coverage. I am always looking for an easy powder foundation for days like Saturdays when I don’t want to spend the time applying liquid. I am still on the fence with this Tarte Creamy Powder. You definitely need to moisturize well underneath to prevent any dry spots. My favorite thing is that it tends to look better and better as the day progresses, but I am not crazy about how it looks immediately.

Tarte Lights, Camera, Lashes Mascara: My all-time favorite mascara! I purchase it again and again. This is my first time using the “lashes” version rather than the “splashes” version. This one is not waterproof, and I like it better. Splashes is super hard to remove.

LORAC PRO Matte Lip Color, Pink Taupe: Pink lipstick is my weakness. This one is super silky and stays put for a decent amount of time. There is a great color selection available if pink isn’t your thing!

Other Products

LORAC Pro Contour Palette Plus Contour Brush

Tarte Amazonian Clay 12 Hour Blush 

bareMinerals Eyeshadow

RMS Beauty Cream Eyeshadow – Color – Lunar [Net Wt 4.25/0.25oz]

Juice Beauty Green Apple SPF 15 Moisturizer, 1.7 fl. oz.

One Love Organics Skin Savior Balm 

Quick & Easy Makeup Days

I’ve never exactly been a morning person, and my mornings always end up in a mad dash to get out the door. There are times when I long to be the girl who can hop out of bed and look oh so fabulous. Instead, it takes me a good hour or more each morning to go through my routine. To combat this, I’ve been experimenting with quick and easy makeup routines for my on-the-run mornings. I am all for simple and streamlined. Here is one of my favorite looks so far!

IMG_3966

What’s in the look?

RMS Eye Polish, Luna & MagneticTarte Lights, Cameras, Lashes Mascara-4

Product Links:

One Love Organics Skin Savior Balm

Vapour Organic Beauty Atmosphere Soft Focus Foundation – s115

Alima Pure Satin Matte Foundation

RMS Beauty Cream Eyeshadow – Lunar

RMS BEAUTY – Cream Eyeshadow – Magnetic [Net Wt 5.67g/0.20oz]

Tarte Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Blush Peaceful 0.2 oz

Tarte Amazonian Butter Lipstick Park Ave Princess Nude

Sunscreen Favorites  

It’s awful to admit, but I used to never wear sunscreen. Getting tan was my only goal as I would lather up in anything that may accelerate that process…even baby oil. As I have grown older, I’ve become very aware of the importance of sunscreen and desire to spread that awareness to others. Having an autoimmune disorder also means that it’s important for me to protect myself from the sun as much as possible to prevent rashes and flares. These days, I wear sunscreen and sun protective clothing during the especially warm months. I’ve learned that all sunscreen is not created equal. Sunscreen should protect us, but there are some bad ones out there.

It’s not the case for everyone, but I wear sunscreen most everyday. I was surprised to learn about the nasty ingredients in many sunscreens so, like my beauty products, it has been important to choose wisely. I am rounding up my favorites for you below.

The Environmental Watch Group provides a guide to sunscreens every year. The 2017 one is not out yet, but you can find the 2016 one here. It’s one of the best resources when selecting sunscreen for your family.

TIP: Not ready to commit to a product? Many brands will offer a travel size. It’s a great way to sample products!

My Everyday Favorites 

la roche

La Roche-Posay Anthelios SX Daily Moisturizer with Sunscreen SPF 15, 3.4 Fl. Oz.

This rubs in very well and doesn’t leave any white residue. It’s quick and easy to apply.

solar_body_1024_1-800x800

Devita Solar Body Moisturizer SPF 30+, 7 Oz

A great everyday sunscreen and moisturizer combo. It works great, but you do have to work to rub it in to prevent any white streaks. 

My Heavy Duty Favorite 

suntegrity-body-z

Suntegrity Skincare Natural Mineral Sunscreen For Body, SPF 30

Suntegrity is a go-to favorite. I love all of their products, and they are a guaranteed safe brand for sun protection. I love their sunscreen for days at the beach or when I know I will be out in the sun for an extended period.

My Face Favorites

josie

Josie Maran Argan Daily Moisturizer SPF 47 with Sunboost ATB (Full (2oz/60ml))

I love the smell! It’s super moisturizing and goes on smooth. I wear it under my makeup and even as a moisturizer at night from time to time.

2236872

Juice Beauty Green Apple SPF 15 Moisturizer, 1.7 fl. oz.

This moisturizer helps protect your face from the sun while always brightening your skin. I love it and have continued to purchase it. I like to alternate between this product and the Josie Maran Moisturizer during the week.