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The first time, I was in my teens and at an Introduction to Buddhism & Meditation course which my Dad & I signed up to together. We’d spotted this beautiful, huge Buddhist temple on a family outing once & wondered what it was all about – so we decided to go and find out.
I thoroughly enjoyed the course and still carry some of its teachings with me today (I enjoyed it so much I actually went back a few years later and completed it again by myself). But the ‘meditation’ bit was lost on me.
One particular session I remember, we were sitting in a room full of around 100 completely-silent people on cushions (my Dad was on the cushion next to mine), and all I could hear was his stomach rumbling. It was so loud, and the only noise in the room. A few minutes into the 30-minute meditation, I started laughing under my breath; and that was it. I couldn’t stop. I ended up having to walk out of the room in case my distracted laughing interrupted anyone else’s state of zen.
If anyone sucks at meditating, it's me. I find it really hard. Since that experience I’ve tried to learn again numerous times and tested countless breathing techniques to find the one that’s right for me. Some work a little – but it certainly doesn’t come easily. When I try to meditate, my mind either drifts off and starts reciting to-do lists or recounting the day’s experiences (i.e, I’m ‘too awake’), or, I end up feeling so relaxed that I fall asleep (i.e, I’m ‘too sleepy’). I can never seem to find that sweet spot in the middle where I’m conscious, but calm - that is, meditating.
But, I wholeheartedly believe in the benefits of meditation; and I want the improved mental and physical wellbeing that comes with a regular meditation practice.
....So what’s a girl who sucks at meditating to do?
Well, luckily for me (and for many others who share the same struggle!), there are a number of ways to focus and calm the mind in a similar way to meditation, that don’t involve sitting & doing nothing. Here are a few of them:
You knew it would be on the list! The thing that yoga does that makes it so effective (and it is extremely effective at reducing stress) is that the rhythmic movement of the body during a yoga flow gives the mind something to focus on that quite literally makes all other thoughts disappear. If you're a regular yoga-goer, you’ll know what I mean. Because there’s so much emphasis on the breath and how this coincides with each movement, yoga requires a huge amount of focus. It’s relaxed focus; but it’s focus. Sounding familiar?
Yoga and meditation have a lot in common – and for most people who lead busy lives, the hour or so that you spend in yoga might be the only hour in the past week that you’ve not been thinking, planning or worrying about anything. And, like any meditation practitioner will tell you; an hour of not thinking about anything has incredible health benefits.
Reading (an actual book; not a screen!) also has meditative qualities. When you’re reading, your mind is forced to focus on the words on the page, and comprehend them – leaving very little room for mental monkey chatter. Again, it’s a relaxed form of focus - it takes your mind somewhere else. Just like the muscles in our body, our mind needs exercising and stretching – and reading is a wonderful way to do this.
Finally, it is possible to train your mind to be more present and focussed while you’re doing every-day things. Essentially, ‘mindfulness’ just means concentrating only on what you’re doing in each moment, and nothing else (I’ve talked a little about this on the blog before). It’s such a powerful thing to do, and an easy way to encourage happier living in general. When you’re sitting on the porch having a cup of coffee, really concentrate – on the sights around you, the sound of the birds, the taste of the coffee, the feel of the breeze on your skin. It might sound a little hippyish, but it really works. Train your mind to appreciate the here and now, and eventually you’ll find yourself doing it automatically (and in turn, worrying about the past or the future much less).
Current reading: 'The Little Book of Hygge' by Meik Wiking
Hibiscus is a natural source of alpha-hydroxy acids, which accelerate cell turnover - excellent news for anyone with dark spots, uneven pigmentation or pores that are easily clogged. The natural acids in hibiscus help to clear congestion, renew skin tone and refine skin's texture. Yes please!
Hibiscus contains components that inhibit the breakdown of enzymes in the skin, including ‘elastase’, which contributes to skin’s elasticity. Hibiscus is often included in anti-ageing formulations for this reason.
Hibiscus is rich in antioxidants called anthocyanocides, which not only help to combat the free radicals responsible for premature ageing, but also reduce inflammation and have a soothing effect on irritated skin.
Last but not least, hibiscus has an unusually high mucilage content. Mucilage is a substance produced by plants that helps them to retain water – and it has a similar effect on the skin. Say hello to a hydrated, softer, more supple complexion!
Now that you’re aware of what an incredible all-rounder this pretty flower is; where can you get it? Well, most health food stores will sell Hibiscus Tea if you're a tea lover (it goes a bright pink colour & has a tangy, fruity taste), and you can include powdered hibiscus extract in smoothies & recipes. If you'd rather apply it on the outside, here are some of my favourite hibiscus-themed beauty products:
I’ve always had pets in my life, and I’ve always believed in the physical and psychological benefits of having animals around. One thing I’ve learnt from spending time with them is that they’re extremely adaptive, and there are some things they do or handle much better than us humans. Even if you don’t have any pets of your own, there’s still a great deal they can teach you! Here’s my list of life lessons we can learn from our pets.
One of our cats recently had a major hip operation, and our biggest problem when he was recovering was stopping him from running around (read: hobbling around) on his injured leg while it was healing. He was on the surgeon’s table one day and chasing our other pets around the next.
And I think this applies in more ways than just physical – I remember several instances where we would discipline our dog for something and she’d give us the ‘look of shame’ and cower off – but within five minutes she’d be back at my side socialising & wanting to be pet, as if nothing had happened. Pets don’t hold grudges, or feel sorry for themselves, or ruminate & feel guilt when they’ve done something wrong. Doesn’t that sound like a liberated way to live?! Which brings me to the next life lesson:
This is something we humans are notoriously terrible at – hence the plethora of print & online articles helping us to be more ‘present’. There are an endless number of ways to do this, but what it really comes down to is giving all of your attention to whatever it is you’re doing at any given moment. Sitting down writing a blog post? Then focus on that – and pour all your blog-writing skills & inspiration into it. Listening to your partner talk about their day? Then really listen. Taking a shower in the morning? Focus on the way the water feels, and enjoy the experience of taking care of yourself. Even mundane things can become enjoyable if we learn to quiet our monkey minds and really focus in on what we’re doing. (It’ll also make us a lot more efficient & productive!).
Animals aren’t just great at living in the moment – they’re also hard-wired to express themselves fully and honestly in every second. Whether it’s your dog smiling and wagging its tail profusely every time you come home (or just come back from the other room), or your cat walking away from its food bowl & ignoring you for ten minutes because you didn’t give her the food she wants – pets don’t keep us guessing. Without even being able to speak, they let us know exactly what they’re feeling at any moment. Wouldn’t life be simple if we all did that? We waste a lot of our time and energy worrying about what other people think and not being true to ourselves as a result – and it over-complicates things. If you’re a good person, then you can’t go too far wrong by being honest and being true to your feelings. After all, healthy relationships of all kinds are built on authenticity.
Have your pets taught you anything about living your best life? I’d love to hear your stories!
Until next time...
Uneven pigmentation is one of the most common skin care concerns I’m contacted about. It doesn’t make it easier that every magazine ad from makeup companies shows glowing, even-toned skin with zero imperfections – and obviously this is not a realistic ideal. All of us have areas of varying pigmentation, whether it be from acne scars or sun damage. So how can you minimise this, and create a complexion that’s brighter and more even-toned?
‘Dark spots’ are caused by the over-production of melanin; the pigment that gives our skin its colour. Sometimes after a blemish or lesion, the skin produces too much melanin during the healing process. Over-production can also be caused by UV exposure (resulting in what we commonly refer to as ‘sun spots’). And finally, a specific type of pigmentation called ‘melasma’ can result from excess oestrogen in the system – so it often happens during pregnancy.
Well, a few things. Some ingredients inhibit the formation of melanin, preventing pigmentation and sun spots before they occur. Others work to inhibit inflammation, which in turn has the same effect (it prevents the over-production of melanin). Some ingredients lighten skin that’s already pigmented, either by ‘bleaching’ it, or by exfoliating it at a micro-level so that the darker surface layers of skin are removed.
A big thank you again to all of you for sharing your thoughts and insight. Your comments were such a pleasure to read!
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Until next time!
Now, most of what goes into good skin begins in the gut, and is affected by diet & lifestyle, but speaking from personal experience with my own skin and what I’ve witnessed with others, what you apply topically can and does make a massive difference. These three simple steps take little to no effort, can easily be incorporated into something you do every single day (shower and dress), and you will thank yourself for the difference it will make to your skin not only now, but years down the track.
This is the foundation to any skincare, and can easily be incorporated into your evening or morning routine (whenever you shower). Whether or not you wear makeup, it is important to wash away to day’s environmental build-up, pollutants, dirt and excess oil and dead skin cells for healthy, radiant skin.
You should cleanse once a day, and gently exfoliate every 2-3 days or at least once a week, depending on your skin type (you’ll be able to play this by ear and figure out what suits you best).
My favourite cleansers that are brilliant for clean, clear skin, but super gentle (and will also remove makeup) are the Blissoma Fresh Mild Rice Cleanser (if you have any congestion or acne this a great cleanser) which also offers a very mild exfoliant, so if your skin is super sensitive or break-out prone, this will be perfect for you paired with a weekly exfoliation. Another great option is The Little Alchemist Papaya, Geranium & Lime Cleansing Milk. It will give your skin a deep cleanse with very little effort!
This will of course vary from person to person, but you only need to wash your skin once a day. Any more, and in most cases it’s too much. I remove all makeup in the evening, cleanse and shower, and in the mornings, just lightly rinse my skin by applying a damp wash cloth, before moving onto skincare. Perfect for a lazy routine!
When it comes to exfoliation, I find my skin does best with a 2-3 times a week exfoliation.
You should exfoliate at least once per week. If you find it difficult to keep track of, choose a day (say, Sunday nights) that you exfoliate, and stick to it.
Perfect for anyone that wants glowing skin, but multi-tasking at the same time, I have been loving the Leahlani Skincare Kalima Coconut Cream Cleansing Powder. You just mix a tsp with water and exfoliate, then let sit for 2-3mins whilst you shower before rinsing off. You can of course also rinse it off immediately, but allowing it to sit gives your skin a boost of Vit C, antioxidants and allows all of those magical botanicals to do their work.
If you prefer a pre-mixed option, the Little Alchemist Pineapple & Zeolite Micro Polish is a beautiful option. Just pump, exfoliate and rinse!
No matter your skin type (see my post on Oils for Oily Skin here) moisturising is the simplest and easiest way to keep it in tip-top condition - and also one of the most necessary! Not only will keeping your skin properly hydrated prevent early ageing, but also help to maintain correct sebum levels (the oil your skin naturally produces, which can also help prevent a whole slew of other issues like dryness, breakouts from excessive oil production, dullness and more).
I recommend moisturising twice a day - after cleansing/showering in the evening, and after a quick water-wash with a dampened cloth in the morning. Applying your moisturiser to damp skin enables deeper penetration and better absorption which means all of the good-for-skin ingredients are better able to do their job!
I’m a huge fan of oils, but I highly recommend using a cream moisturiser at least once per day, as they provide better hydration. If you want to keep it really lazy, just opt for a cream, or something like the Leahlani Bless Balm which has a number of butters along with oils to really hydrate the skin.
The Blissoma Sensitive Skin Soothing Complex is a very lightweight, silky yet rich cream, that absorbs fully and never feels greasy. If you have any irritation, redness or breakouts, this cream is super soothing and hydrating all at once. If your skin is in need of deep hydration (showing in dryness, dull or lacklustre complexion, uneven texture), then the Blissoma Deep Moisture Restore Serum is a good option, with anti-ageing benefits! I also love the Leahlani Champagne Serum for glowing skin or pre-makeup.
This is an optional step but I highly recommend masking weekly - even for the laziest of lazy skincare routines. Set yourself a #SelfCareSunday or #MaskingMonday goal (easy to remember), and apply for the specified treatment time (usually 10-45 mins depending on the mask) before showering - so you can just let the steam from the shower soften the mask then rinse!
If breakouts and congestion are your problem, a weekly detox mask will really help to clear and cleanse your skin of any deep-seated impurities. Some of my favourites for a good detox are The Little Alchemist Cacao & Banana Face Glow, Romeo + Madden Detox Face Mask & The Captain Blankenship Petal Gentle Flower Face Mask.
For dullness, dryness, lack-lustre skin or uneven texture, a hydrating and even an enzyme-exfoliating mask are good options. The Leahlani Skincare Mermaid Mask, Meli Glow & Honey Love will all help to hydrate and gently exfoliate the skin, and if your skin is particularly fussy, the Blissoma Lavish Loving Recovery Beta-glucan Mask will soothe, calm and deeply treat your skin. I’d also recommend the Leahlani Meli Glow or Mermaid Mask to anyone that can’t stand the feeling of a clay mask on the skin - these will both still gently cleanse the skin, but without ever setting or becoming uncomfortable on the skin.
Using a weekly mask, the condition of your skin will also improve over time - you’ll thank yourself for the extra effort! And if you’re still not convinced, read my post on everything you need to know about masking here.
Passionate about health and beauty, I began the Liberty-Green blog to prove that green CAN be glam. My aim is to educate women on the safer, healthier alternatives to the mainstream – that work. You needn’t sacrifice your health for beauty, and you don’t have to sacrifice performance for health.
Organic beauty has come a long way in the last few years, and I know from personal experience how overwhelming making “the switch” can be. Along with product reviews and brand spotlights, I share useful tools and handy resources that help make the switch to organic that much easier. Your skin will thank you.
I also have a handcrafted Flower Crown & Accessories label by the same name, so when I’m not writing on organic beauty and skincare, you’ll most likely find me in the studio up to my elbows in flowery goodness.
I’ve been through quite a journey with my skin in my life so far – and one thing I’ve learnt is that there is no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to skin care. Not only do I think it’s a good idea to try products from different brands and tailor your skin care regime to your specific needs; but I also know that skin changes – and what we need this month might not be the same as what we needed last month (or week, or year). It pays to listen to your skin & hear what it’s telling you.
And, the same goes for the way we use our products. Some of the most effective & successful beauty products were mistakes - formulated for something else entirely, until a new unanticipated benefit was discovered. I remember a few years ago I was having some issues with ingrown hairs & irritation post-waxing – and at the time I was using a de-puffing eye cream on my eyes (I use an anti-ageing one now!). One day after a particularly painful wax and without anything on hand to soothe it, I reached for my eye cream and applied some. Within a few hours the area had completely calmed – it was better than any ingrown hair cream I’d ever tried. So, I kept using it this way.
Nobody knows what’s best for your skin like you do – so experiment, and when you hit on something that works, stick at it! I regularly use the same products in different ways and for different purposes – and luckily, with all-natural skin care we’re safe to do this. Here are a few product substitutions I use which you might not have thought of.
Dry body brushing is one of the best things you can do for your health. It’s quick, easy and a fantastic way to boost your body’s circulatory and lymphatic systems. Eco Tan’s Exfoliating Glove is extremely scrubby (without using any product) and so simple to use. Just pop it on and massage all over in firm strokes, always towards the heart.
Few formulas are as soothing, de-puffing & all-round calming as Blissoma’s Pure. It’s a life-saver for all kinds of skin issues, from dryness to eczema to acne. If your skin is unhappy for any reason, Pure is probably the answer! One of my all-time favourites. Applied after waxing, it will soothe, reduce inflammation and redness and help skin to heal itself.
My nails grow extremely fast, so I have to keep on top of them and maintain them regularly. One thing I regularly do is to push down my cuticles and apply a softening oil to them to keep them supple & prevent them from hardening. The Harmonic Healing Oil is perfect for this purpose – and it gives my nails and hands a dose of hydration & nutrition at the same time.
Blissoma Bright is specifically formulated to firm, brighten and de-puff the eye area – and it will have the same effect wherever you apply it. I have some pigmentation spots around my lips, so I apply Bright to both my eyes and lip area nightly to help even out my skin tone in these areas.
Using the same oil as both a body oil & a massage oil doesn’t seem to make sense on the face of it – you want a body oil to sink in, and you want a massage oil to stay fluid and spread easily. By some miracle, the Revitalising Body Oil achieves both. It makes a luxurious, deeply-hydrating body oil (and it smells absolutely gorgeous), but it also works brilliantly for massaging, and you only need the tiniest bit. Don’t ask me how it works – but it does. I use this one regularly for both purposes!