Support Healthy Skin with Topical Probiotic Power

For decades now, cleaning the surface of our skin has been a collective obsession. Germ-free, dirt-free, and oil-free is how we have come to imagine our skin's ideal state, so we scrub, suds, and lather up like crazy. But, as it happens, we have it all wrong. Gorgeous, radiant, healthy skin has a natural balance of oil and bacteria—and a lot of it.

More than 100 trillion microbes live in and on us, influencing so many of the core functions of our bodies that relate to beauty. On our skin, these microbes impact inflammation, immune defense, allergies and sensitivities, and the health of the skin barrier, which is directly related to the radiance and clarity of our complexions—right down to issues like hyperpigmentation and wrinkles! As you might imagine, cultivating and maintaining a healthy population of good bacteria on the skin is one secret to radiance that we're just now beginning to understand. 

I've been a major advocate of probiotics (both via supplements and food) for beauty since i started my own journey to clear my skin many years ago. My microbiome had been negatively impacted by poor diet, food allergies, and antibiotics, and a combo of probiotics and fermented foods helped me restore the health of my skin by rebuilding those beneficial microbes. Probiotic supplements may be yesterday's news, but probiotic treatments for the surface of the skin are actually a brand new thing.

You may say that you've already seen 'probiotic skin care,' but those products (unless refrigerated to maintain their probiotic bacteria) are erroneously named. These products are often effective because they contain prebiotics—ingredients that feed and support probiotic bacteria—but they don't contain probiotics themselves. Both the preservatives in these formulas and lack of refrigeration kill off probiotic bacteria, so they're not delivering probiotics to the surface of your skin.

But—I've found a topical product that does contain live probiotic bacteria! It's called LiviaOne Daily Liquid Probiotics Topical Spray. This water-based organic spray applies just like a toner or hydration mist, albeit one that's packed with 12 strains of probiotic bacteria. This spray gets shipped to you with a cold pack to maintain the live bacteria inside, and you store it in the fridge. I've used it for calming irritated skin and stopping a yeast infection—both cases a huge success! This spray also benefits oral health (sore throat, cavities, mouth sores), as well as skin irritation, infections, and sensitivity. I think it's such an amazing product innovation and imagine that there will be many more products like this to come in the short-term future.

Now you might ask: couldn't you get topical probiotic benefits from applying fermented foods to your face instead? Totally, but if you applied, say, fermented sauerkraut to your face, you'd stink and your skin would freak out from the extra acid and salt. This spray prevents all of that, and it's a great option for restoring healthy bacteria on the skin, rather than stripping it away.

You can purchase this LiviaOne topical spray (2 oz for $29.95) on Amazon or at liviaglobal.com. It should be shipped to you with a cold pack, then kept in the fridge, to protect its probiotic bacteria.

4 Smoothies to Boost Beauty in the Year Ahead

A sweet and gingery beet blend, a dessert-like cherry and chocolate treat for your skin, a fresh and lemony green smoothie, and a creamy, anti-inflammatory mix of turmeric and coconut milk. There's something for every taste preference in this list of 4 beautifying smoothie recipes, ideal for nourishing your skin this winter—or any season of the year. Try one, or all, this week for an Eat Pretty boost!

Check out four of my favorite beauty smoothie recipes, shared with Anthropologie.

You may also want to read my interview with Anthropologie about favorite smoothie ingredients and winter beauty foods!

Smoothie images via Anthropologie

Currently Using: Osmia Organics

The January 2016 Beauty Heroes box is filled with tiny treasures—think of it as an extension of your holiday stocking. These skin-pampering treats, all from organic and wild crafted beauty brand Osmia Organics, deliver more power than you'd expect from their pint-sized packages. In fact, the smallest product of all, the Nectar Vital Rose Drops serum (which is a special gift for Beauty Heroes subscribers—more reason to join!), is my favorite of the three! This serum is a sneak preview of a brand new launch coming from Osmia.

In addition to Osmia's gorgeous new serum, Beauty Heroes features Osmia's signature favorite Black Clay Facial Soap (which comes with stories of having cleared or soothed acne and perioral dermatitis for Osmia customers), a soap-saver perfectly sized for this precious bar (another gift for subscribers), and Purely Simple Face Cream, which, refreshingly, is exactly what it claims to be: pure & simple.

The Black Clay Facial Soap is a super-mild exfoliant that draws moisture to skin and tones (enough that it made my skin tingle when I left it on for a few minutes in the shower). I love Osmia's in-depth story of black soap here.

The Purely Simple Face Cream delivery couldn't have been more perfectly-timed with the cold snap in the Northeast that has left my skin needing a little additional moisture. I'm generally not a face cream devotee, but, admittedly, my skin has been quite happy to have this one!  After applying it to my face, I've been rubbing the extra into my hands at night to keep them from getting dry as well. My skin loves the gentle aloe and jojoba oil, which hydrate without heaviness.

Next on my wishlist to try from Osmia Organics: Amethyst Body Essence. The Osmia Gem Series of oils (the Amethyst is the second in the series) looks so lovely! If you haven't tried the brand, the January Beauty Heroes box is an ideal sampling of treats, at a fabulous price.

2016 Beauty, In One Word

Resolutions come, and resolutions go. They never quite seemed to work for me. So I shelved my old New Year's resolutions three years ago in order to take a new approach: a word of the year. Instead of a particular goal, in anticipation of every new year I choose a single word that sums up how I want to feel that year, or how I want the year's events to feel to me. Almost like a year-long affirmation.

Here's an earlier post I wrote on the idea.

The year I had a baby and released my book Eat Pretty, my word was VITAL, “having remarkable energy, liveliness or force of personality.” It was a lively, energetic, busy time! The year before that, while I was in preparation mode, my word was RELAXED. I needed some major down time in my life at that moment.

This year, my word is 'MAGICAL.'

I've encountered the word 'magical' over and over recently, and I'm taking it as a sign that, rather unexpectedly, it's going to be my word this year. I feel ready to stop trying to micromanage my life and allow more magic to happen organically. I want 2016 to be a year of magical moments and memories personally, at home with my son and husband, and professionally, as I launch two more books and dream up new ideas. So far, I've loved the result of tweaking my mindset as I approach the new year, and I love the creation process of finding that one perfect word much more than coming up with a traditional goal. It's a much better fit for a writer like me!

So, could you change your approach to resolutions this year too? Spend some time thinking about the word that sums up the way you'd like 2016 to feel. One of my clients chose the word 'joyful.' Another gravitated toward 'patient.' There is so much wisdom in your personal word of the year. Display it somewhere where you'll see it regularly, to have it guide your feelings and decisions in the year to come.

I wish you a year of beauty, health, and your best self in 2016!

xo, Jolene

Change your Skin with 'Ferment Your Vegetables'

A few of Amanda's colorful ferments. Recipes found in Ferment Your Vegetables.

A few of Amanda's colorful ferments. Recipes found in Ferment Your Vegetables.

The word 'fermented' doesn't exactly evoke beauty. Which is why it may come as a surprise that fermented foods are one of the essentials in any beauty-boosting diet.

To put it simply, the radiance of your skin mirrors the health and function of your digestive tract. The better you're able to break down and assimilate all of those beauty foods you're eating, the more your skin will glow and your body will thrive. Keeping your gut's population of good bacteria happy supports your immunity, healthy weight, and emotional wellbeing, and it also helps make sure that there are good bacteria living in other places in and on your body—like on your skin, where they defend against a host of skin issues.

Even if you're already growing conscious of your gut health, thanks to all the recent attention on the power of our microbiome to do things like alter our mood and influence our weight, you may not know how to make your daily diet more supportive of your gut. That's where Ferment Your Vegetables comes in.

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My first helping at the Ferment Your Vegetables luncheon.

My first helping at the Ferment Your Vegetables luncheon.

This truly inspirational, delicious, and beautifying collection of fermented recipes was written by Amanda Feifer, an incredibly talented friend. Amanda's been fermenting for years (I made my very first jar of kimchi in one of her DIY classes years ago), so she's way, way ahead of most of us who are just catching on to the fermentation trend. But even though Amanda's an absolute pro with an amazing blog brimming with her fermentation knowledge and recipes, she's incredibly humble, and offers unwavering support about the ability of anyone—truly anyone—to ferment at home. Just talking to her about fermentation is a confidence builder, because she makes it sound so foolproof. Turns out, with her cookbook in hand, it actually is.

To celebrate the launch of Ferment Your Vegetables, Amanda invited her friends to an incredible spread of her fermented recipes. I have to share this with you because it was my dream lunch invitation. She laid out a feast of krauts and kimchis, kombuchas and pickles. I got to taste so many of the recipes she shares in Ferment Your Vegetables, and there wasn't a single bad one in the bunch.

Curried Cauliflower Pickles in progress.

Curried Cauliflower Pickles in progress.

At left is one of my recent recipes in progress from her cookbook—Curried Cauliflower Pickles, made after the original jar of cauliflower pickles she gave me disappeared within days, leaving my household hungry for more. Now, this is my first ferment of cauliflower, and it stinks. Waay more than sauerkraut. I had to leave it in our basement to ferment. But it was worth it. The 4-ingredient recipe couldn't be easier (remember when I said foolproof?!). And the results are delicious. As a bonus, if you make the Curried Cauliflower Pickles on page 52 of Ferment Your Vegetables, you can make the Curried Cauliflower Picnic Salad recipe that accompanies it (I used vegan mayo in my version and it was delicious), which was one of the highlights of Amanda's fermentation spread for me. I could eat it all the time. Come to think of it, my skin would love that.

Just to note, if you're just beginning to incorporate fermented foods into your diet, start slow. Even a few bites or a 1/4 cup serving of fermented kraut or kimchi contains a powerful dose of probiotics! Aim to eat a small serving each day, and you'll be doing something amazing for your health and beauty this year.

And grab a copy of Ferment Your Vegetables to support you in your journey!

Beauty Heroes: Like Having a Beauty Ed for a BFF

While I've received plenty of free product samples in my days as a beauty editor, I haven't monetized my relationships with beauty brands. In short, I have never been paid by a brand to promote their products, period. I don't want to push one brand over another to you, my trusted audience, simply because of $$! While that's still very much the case, I've just decided to sign on as as a brand ambassador with Beauty Heroes, a subscription box that delivers carefully curated natural beauty products. I fell in love with the Beauty Heroes concept because it allows subscribers to experience some of the best products in natural beauty for $39/month—a truly affordable and, frankly, outstanding price for the goods inside.

If you're on the fence about Beauty Heroes, know that's NOT just like every other subscription box out there. In fact, it's completely different. Each month, you get one amazing, full size 'hero' product from a standout green beauty line delivered to your door. For $39, you often get a product that's worth much, much more—that's without taking into account the value of a service that makes you feel like you have a beauty editor as a best friend or penpal!

[Check out my behind-the-scenes Beauty Heroes ambassador interview here!]

Beauty Heroes' December box is a holiday show-stopper. When it arrives on your doorstep, you find a 30mL dropper bottle of Vintner's Daughter Active Botanical Serum tucked carefully inside gleaming gold tissue paper. This serum, for anyone who hasn't tried it or heard the ecstatic buzz from the dewy-skinned women who are already using it, is the definition of a 'beauty hero.'

This Vintner's Daughter serum has become an obsessed-over product with good reason. Skin loves it. The first time I applied it my cheeks turned a peachy pink, which I first thought was an allergic reaction. Then I realized it was actually a healthy, well-circulated glow that I hadn't ever seen from a serum before! It contains 22 botanical ingredients, from avocado and rose to turmeric and sea buckthorn, making every drop incredibly potent. And this serum is priced to reflect that potency—it's typically sold at $185 for a bottle (yes, that makes the December Beauty Heroes box an incredible, incredible deal).

If you're ready to make your beauty routine a little greener month by month, I think joining Beauty Heroes is an ideal gift to yourself and your health for 2016. And if you just want to help your skin or the skin of a loved one take on a more radiant glow, ordering the December Beauty Heroes box couldn't be a better fit at a better price.

In the interest of full disclosure, being a Beauty Heroes ambassador means that I'll get a small kickback (about $5) if you choose to join Beauty Heroes through this link, and I'll get to sample and review each monthly box for you, my discerning audience of natural beauties. Just so you know, my decision to become an ambassador isn't motivated by the promise of affiliate dollars, or free goods. I think this program is a great way to green your beauty routine, for a low price, one month at a time, and I'm proud to share it!

Beauty Heroes ships to the US, Canada, Australia, Spain, Ireland, Poland, South Africa, India, Israel, Japan, the UK, Germany, Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands, Portugal, France, Greece, Singapore, Hong Kong, Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus!

Creating the 'Jolene' Limited Edition Lip Whip for Kari Gran

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Excuse me for a moment while I gush about lipstick.

I'd say that lipstick, stain, tinted balm, or gloss—whatever version you reach for to liven up your lips—is hands down the most fun makeup essential you can buy. Pale as I am, I totally put lip color into the 'essential' category, to be applied even when I'm bringing my toddler to the park or running to the grocery store without a speck of other makeup on my face. Color on my lips instantly wakes up my look, making me look a little more polished and vibrant.

It's surprising that a subtle shift in the tone of a lipstick can create a dramatically different end result. Which, I believe, is why some of us have such a love/hate relationship with lip color. It's hard to find a perfect fit! When it's good, it's transformative, but when it's bad, it's hand-me-a-tissue-so-I can-wipe-off-this-traumatic-moment horrifying. I've been in both camps many times.

So what happens when one of the best natural beauty brands in the biz asks you to collaborate on a limited edition version of their most coveted product? (It goes without saying that you immediately jump at the chance!) You take on the challenge of building a color that flatters and livens up many complexions, and suits many occasions.

This happened to me, and I truly think that the end result— my 'Jolene' Lip Whip collaboration with Kari Gran— delivers!

Introducing the brand new Kari Gran Lip Whip Duo, 'Jolene' (deep fuchsia) + 'Shimmer' (nude peach with subtle flecks of shimmer)...

The limited edition duo goes on sale today, and will be available until 12/31/15, or until stock runs out! It's being sold at karigran.com ($35) and credobeauty.com ($40), among other stores. The 'Jolene' Lip Whip, which is sheer enough that you can apply it without looking, is also available for sale alone ($20). I think it delivers the perfect dose of color.

The best part about working with Kari, besides her talent for creating a genius lip product, is that she has super-high ingredient standards. You may have heard that you ingest pounds of your lip products over a lifetime, so it's essential that the ingredients you apply and reapply to your lips (which end up in your body) are as natural as possible and not contaminated with heavy metals.

Kari blends her creamy Lip Whips from a blend of beeswax and natural oils like camellia, olive and castor, as well as mineral pigments and a hint of peppermint oil.

A note about Kari Gran—I had the pleasure of being one of the first beauty writers to review her line back in 2012 (here's my original post), so it thrills me that our 3+ year friendship has resulted in such a beautiful collaboration! Her Lip Whips have become a staple in the natural beauty industry, and she's built a fabulous natural beauty empire. Thank you Kari!

If you'd like to meet me and Kari, and pick up a Lip Whip duo & a signed copy of Eat Pretty, join us in San Francisco on Dec. 3rd for a special event at Credo Beauty from 5-7pm!

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Above, another shot of the duo and its gorgeous, giftable packaging, and a snap of my lips wearing 'Jolene!'

Best Foods to Eat for the Skin Issues You're Seeing

What foods should you reach for if your skin concern is acne? How about dullness, dryness, discoloration or wrinkles? Rosacea or eczema? Don't miss this excellent Shape article on the foods to eat—and avoid—to target major skin conditions from the inside out. I chatted with Shape for this info-packed piece, and hope that it inspires you to add (or remove) some foods that can truly impact the skin you see in the mirror!

READ: The 8 Best Foods for Skin Conditions

Images via Shape.com

A Spoonful of Sun Protection

At this point in the summer season, you should be filling your plate with colorful veggies that not only energize and hydrate your body, but enhance your skin's sun protection as well. That's right— if you haven't heard the news yet, you can eat your way to an greater level of sun defense!

One of the most effective phytochemicals for summer beauty, lycopene, significantly boosts the skin's natural defenses against UV damage. Tomatoes are a rich source of lycopene, and the current tomato harvest is a signal to get eating to support your beauty. Below, you'll find one of my favorite sun protective summer beauty recipes— a gazpacho that I created for an Eat Pretty beauty food dinner with Whole Foods Market. Enjoy!

Tomato, Basil & Fennel Gazpacho

Cool fennel balances the spiciness of avocado and Italian basil in this light & creamy gazpacho. The addition of olive oil and avocado provides healthy, plant-based fats to allow for absorption of the many fat soluble beauty nutrients in this dish!

Makes about nine 1-cup servings

INGREDIENTS:
2 lbs organic tomatoes

2 large bulbs fennel, cored

1 large organic cucumber, peeled

2 jalapeños, seeds and membranes removed

1/4 cup loosely packed Italian purple basil leaves

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

3 tbsp red wine vinegar

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

1 tsp ground allspice

1 avocado, diced

Cut tomatoes, fennel, cucumbers and jalapeños into large chunks. In a high-powered blender or food processor, combine chopped vegetables until liquefied. Add basil, oil, vinegar and spices and blend until smooth. Transfer to a refrigerator to chill, about 1 hour. Serve topped with diced avocado.

Summer Product Obsessions

what's been on my vanity, tucked in my purse AND stocking my bathroom cabinet during this SUNNY SUMMER SEASON? Here are the natural and organic products that have become my absolute favorites for beauty early this summer...

Axiology Lipstick in Attitude, $26

I'm loving this bright, uplifting shade of pink! Axiology totally hits the mark with this gorgeous natural lipstick, from its sleek brushed gold tube that clicks into place, to the ever-so-slightly iridescent raspberry pigment. Of course the best part is all of the high quality natural butters, oils and waxes that go into the vegan formula. They feel ultra-moisturizing, and deliver smooth, even color. I may not be ready to branch out to the brand's purple Desire shade, but Attitude is sure to be my go-to color for awhile.

 

Gemstone Organics Face Creme in Rose Quartz, $37

I was so intrigued when I first heard about Gemstone Organics. While I don't pretend to know the first thing about gemstones, I find them physically beautiful, and their presence uplifting. I wondered, could their qualities influence the look, feel and results of a facial creme?  I first tried the brand's Jade creme, which actually ended up being a bit too powerful for my delicate skin type. Gemstone Organics partner Sara Clement sagely advised that I give the Rose Quartz creme a try instead, and the experience was a perfect fit. Rose Quartz, intended to soothe and brighten skin while reducing stress and boosting happiness, has been healing and nourishing to my skin, and gentle while still possessing power and potency. I've been using it sparingly, on days when my skin feels in need of an extra moisture infusion. I'd still recommend the Jade cream for dry yet blemish-prone types, since the strong presence of thyme is known to target acne! And when it comes to gemstones, I must say that I am captivated by the hands-on love and ceremony that the brand's partners devote to the creation of their gemstone essences— it most assuredly reflects in the quality of their cremes overall.

Beautycounter Tint Skin, $38

Anyone else find it reeaally hard to come by a perfect natural foundation? Tint Skin comes close to perfect for me, and the fact that it's available in eight skin tone shades makes it a product I can recommend to the vast majority of my clients. (Nobody likes to be left out!) The formula provides a considerable amount of coverage— enough that I can mix it with moisturizer to stretch the small tube just a little farther when I only want a light layer of makeup on my skin. So far, Tint Skin is my top pick for natural foundation that rivals conventional lines— without unwanted ingredients like PEGs, parabens, and chemical sunscreens.

PiperWai Natural Deodorant, $13

I first met my Philly neighbor and co-founder of PiperWai Jess Edelstein when she pulled up to my house on her scooter, toting a bag of deodorant samples for one of my Beauty Food Supper Clubs. Jess is a pavement-pounding real estate agent by day, but she and co-founder Sarah Ribner put more energy and passion into PiperWai than most brands get on a full-time schedule. This team of childhood friends truly believes in their deodorant, and rightly so. It works, thanks to activated charcoal, milk of magnesia and nearly a dozen bacteria-busting essential oils. Now I'm not a product diva, but I don't love that I have to apply it with my hands (the extra 30 seconds it takes to leave my 1 year-old unattended and run to the bathroom to wash up leaves ample opportunity for him to get into trouble).  But a stick applicator may be coming soon. The brand recently celebrated a fully-funded Indegogo campaign, and developing an applicator is one of their major goals. Stay tuned, but if you're in the market for a natural deodorant, this is a must-try today!

Cosmedix Reflect SPF 30 Natural Sunscreen, $45

I have no problem slathering a thick sunscreen all over my face when I'm at the beach, but that approach just doesn't work for me everyday. I was thrilled to find this super-light liquid mineral sunscreen from Cosmedix. It comes in a spray pump, but don't plan on misting it all over your face (too much potential to breathe it in— avoid spraying sunscreen over your face or body). Instead, follow the package directions and spray a few pumps into the palm of your hand, then pat it on. The ingredients are astonishingly simple: the base is micronized titanium dioxide and water, with a few key antioxidants added. On days when I might otherwise forgo sun protection in an effort to streamline my routine, I reach for this quick-applying liquid as a practical solution.

Note: while testing this product, I've been researching whether or not micronized titanium dioxide is truly safe protection. While many sources, like the EWG, vote for zinc oxide as the number one best form of sun protection, titanium is a close second. Both titanium and zinc "provide strong sun protection with few health concerns," and "don't break down in the sun," according to the EWG. And in its micronized form, titanium dioxide appears to be safe. There does exist a 1996 study that raised concerns on nano materials in sunscreen, but subsequent studies have not substantiated those concerns. For the time being, this feels like safe, wearable protection to me!

"EWG carefully studied all scientific publications and government safety assessments on the risk of nanoparticle penetration from zinc and titanium in sunscreen. The current weight of evidence suggests that these nanoparticles do not penetrate the skin, diminishing concerns for their adverse effects for sunscreen users."