Healing from the Hive

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Honey Love— and a Giveaway

I have a longstanding love affair with honey, and it’s no secret. I’ve come a long way— from the grocery store honey-filled bears of my childhood, to discovering local apiaries that source raw honey from their hives, to treasured jars of healing Manuka honey. I’ve probably slathered as much on my skin as I’ve ingested (raw honey masks were a key discovery during my blemish-filled years and to this day honey remains my #1 favorite skincare ingredient). Beyond honey (the raw variety is my personal fave), I love the nourishing, immune-supporting properties of bee pollen, propolis, and royal jelly, which I’ve used for years and relied on for immune support while fighting late stage Lyme disease. There’s so much healing that comes from the hive. Read on for the beauty and health benefits of these bee-born ingredients, as well as an exciting giveaway from one of my favorite bee brands— Beekeeper’s Naturals!

Important note: those allergic to bee venom should proceed with caution. Check with your doctor before using products with bee-related ingredients to prevent allergic reaction.

HONEY: THE HYDRATOR

Suspend your skepticism for a moment and slather on the sticky stuff (be sure it’s raw, unheated honey, which packs the most active enzymes). Wait 20 minutes and rinse away with warm water- your skin will feel softer, tighter and more even. Honey may go on smooth, but it acts as a gentle exfoliant, with mild alpha hydroxy acids that loosen dead skin cells and refine pores for a rejuvenating effect. Combine this with honey’s ability to attract and retain moisture, its naturally-occurring antibacterial hydrogen peroxide and its antioxidant content, and you have a recipe for a natural line-reducer and blemish treatment. While all honey disinfects, the Manuka variety contains a special molecule that is even more potent in its ability to inhibit bacteria growth. It’s an incredible skin healer (with a history of being applied to wounds to speed healing) and potent antibacterial.

ROYAL JELLY: THE FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH

The one lucky larva chosen to become queen bee enjoys lifelong nourishment with royal jelly, a nutritious, milky secretion from the glands of bees. As a result she lives a stunning 40 times longer than worker bees. The queen owes her longevity to the essential nutrients in royal jelly, among them 17 amino acids and a rich store of B complex vitamins and trace minerals. This crème de la crème of the hive is prized as a beauty ingredient for its anti-aging, cell-rejuvenating properties and as a wellness aid for its immune support and energy boost.

PROPOLIS: THE HEALER

Propolis remains the mystery of the hive, a blend of plant resins, wax and essential oils collected by bees to coat the hive as an antiseptic defense against foreign objects. Its role in skincare is similar: to eliminate unwanted bacteria and inflammation, thereby hastening the healing of scars, blemishes, even rashes and eczema. For whole-body health, propolis is prized for its immune-boosting properties and its content of healing flavonoids. It’s as effective as Nystatin against candida yeast, and can kill pathogens without disrupting the good bacteria in your body.

BEESWAX: THE SOFTENER

Beeswax is an emollient wax produced by bees that is rich in fatty acid esters and skin cell-supporting vitamin A. In the beauty world, beeswax is a natural, nontoxic substitute for petroleum jelly and a favored ingredient for lip balm, given the natural moisture barrier it forms on lips. Beeswax protects skin and seals in moisture- leaving you with noticeably softer skin on lips, elbows, cuticles- anywhere you apply.


Ready to try out some of these amazing benefits in and on your body? I’m giving away a set of 4 Beekeeper’s Naturals products that I personally use and love. One (1) lucky winner will receive: Propolis Throat Spray, Kids Propolis Throat Spray, Bee Powered (a mix of honey, bee pollen, propolis, and royal jelly), and Raw Honey.

To enter to win, leave a comment on this post or on my Instagram giveaway post by 11:59 ET on Wednesday, January 30th. Winner will be announced on January 31st. Contest open to US residents only.

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How to Keep your Body and Beauty in Balance when the Sun Doesn’t Shine

Fall is the season of letting go. And of all the things that we say goodbye to at this time of the year— alfresco dinners, beach days, an abundant garden, longer evenings— the sun is the thing I miss the most. I truly am a solar-powered creature. I feel deeply, deeply connected to the sun and to the earth, yet fall and winter gradually force me to retreat indoors, away from those life-giving aspects of nature.

Does this sound like you? What’s the best way to stay in balance in spite of reduced exposure to solar rays and lack of barefoot moments in the grass and sand? Here are a few of my top recommendations for fall and winter habits to keep your body and beauty in balance in the months ahead, if you live in a place that also lacks sunshine. I’ll be practicing these right along with you:

Prioritize morning light. Get 15 to 20 mins of light exposure every morning, outside if possible. It won’t always be sunny, but even a clouded sky in the morning is enough to balance your circadian rhythm and boost your mood. The light from a computer screen doesn't count! The more bright light exposure we have during the day, the more sleep-supporting melatonin is produced at night, studies have found. (Cool side note: melatonin may also impact gut health) Some people swear by a light box or sun lamp in the morning to mimic bright AM light, but I haven’t found this route easy to incorporate into my day. I’d rather aim for some time outdoors or near a window every morning.

Supplement vitamin D. I like a liquid D3, and I boost my dose significantly in the fall and winter to make up for lack of sun exposure. Talk to your doctor about your D level and the dose that will keep you feeling good, with strong immunity this season.

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Bring nature indoors. I like to incorporate elements of nature in my home all year, but in fall and winter it feels like a must because I don’t get outside into nature as often. Pinecones, pine boughs, pumpkins, fall leaves, and branches are natural elements that also work well inside at this time of year. I also love decorating with pretty stones, and any green plants that can’t survive outside that I want to preserve until next year (it makes my home and my south-facing windows feel a bit like a greenhouse!). See what other natural objects you can bring indoors during the fall and winter to boost your connection to the earth.

Know the dos and don’ts of lighting. Sadly, you cant simply turn on more lights around your house or your workplace and get the same physiological boost that you get from the sun. In fact, turning on lots of bright lights later in the evening can prevent your body from adequately preparing for sleep. Your pineal gland begins secreting melatonin, which helps you fall asleep easily, when the sun goes down in the evening, but LED lighting and devices that emit blue light (think TVs, smartphones, tablets) actually interfere with melatonin production, making it harder for you to get restorative beauty sleep.

Get infrared light. The infrared sauna, which uses infrared light to heat the body at lower temperatures than a traditional wood sauna, is rather new to me, but I plan to use it all winter long this year. Infrared saunas emit the same warming-from-within infrared rays given off by the sun, but without the ultraviolet light that we use sunscreen to block. A fire in a fireplace or firepit also emits infrared light that warms from within, so you could plan to get cozy around the fire more often this fall and winter too.  

Rely on other ways to support your immune system. Adaptogens like reishi, chaga, tulsi and astragalus, extra sleep, vitamin C, grounding root vegetables, extra zinc, turmeric, ginger and warm lemon water, manuka honey— there are so many amazing immune-boosters to incorporate at this time of the year to make up for the sun’s immune-boosting effects.

Embrace, rather than resist. Digging your heels in and resisting makes this natural transition even harder for your body (take it from me). This, too, shall pass and spring will of course arrive again. And the sun-filled yang months of spring and summer wouldn't be as balancing without the dark, damp, cool yin months that lie ahead. So I’ll be focusing on the autumn and winter things I enjoy, and staying warm as best as while I let nature take its course in the cycle of the seasons. And I will be following every sliver of sunshine that enters my windows, drinking hot teas, eating warm soups and stews, taking steamy baths, eating grounding foods and spicing them to create inner warmth. How about you?

For more inspiration that will help you stay in balance in autumn and winter, check out the Eat Pretty book series— each of which incorporates the shift of the seasons as it relates to beauty and health. Writing about the wisdom of the seasons and living my own advice has helped me embrace all 4 seasons for their own inherent beauty!

Do you live in a place where the sun shines less in fall and winter? How do you make up for the lack of sun exposure?

A Crunchy, Savory Snack for Clear Skin

Zinc: this beauty mineral is essential for skin healing, the growth of new cells and collagen, clear skin, immunity, and eye health. It's one of my top picks for powerhouse beauty nutrients.

BUT— many of us are missing out on the beauty benefits of zinc, since it's commonly low in our diets!

One reason for our low zinc is that we don't store this mineral in our bodies (and it gets depleted easily if you take a birth control pill). So eating zinc-rich foods is something to be conscious of when you're picking out your daily meals and snacks.

For a list of some of my favorite beauty food sources of zinc, check out my earlier post on zinc (which explains why a zinc supplement is not always a good choice).

And for an easy snack to munch on tonight— here's a recipe for crunchy, savory Roasted Chickpeas (an excellent source of zinc, and a beautifying snack food)...

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Immunity-Boosting Beauty Foods

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Red nose and puffy eyes? Not pretty.

In the midst of cold season, it’s tempting to grab a pill or a vaccine to keep our immune defenses running high. But for most of us, boosting our immunity by incorporating more immune-strengthening foods in our diet gives us adequate natural protection, AND we’ll be getting double the benefits thanks to their natural anti-aging, beautifying properties. You’ll want to put the following foods, which promote both immunity and beauty, on your grocery list for the winter, and any other time when you need a little health and beauty boost. Don’t forget that food IS medicine, and that that powerful healing compounds can also be found in things that we enjoy eating or drinking, not just tasteless supplements that get washed down with a swig of water.

Ready to tackle the flu virus and brush off oncoming cold germs? You’ll do just that, and keep your skin looking radiant, with these immune-boosting beauty foods:

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Beauty Is Wellness Cheat Sheet: Eczema

          Got dry, flaky, kinda-like-sawdust skin?  Is it eczema?  (Image 
Andreanna Moya Photography)

What's a Beauty Is Wellness Cheat Sheet? It's your in-depth guide to a common beauty concern— from weight gain to skin redness, acne and thinning hair— and your plan to remedy it from the inside out. Like everything at Beauty Is Wellness, beauty foods are the foundation, and healthy habits and products support you on your path to gorgeous.

The Beauty Issue:

Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis

This common skin issue (which often flares up during the cold, dry winter) ranges from mild to quite harsh. It can be dry and scaly, moist and blistery, or it can bleed and form rough callouses. It's common to get eczema near joints (behind knees, inside elbows) and on legs and arms.

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Boost Immunity with Spicy Chipotle Farro

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So many of us struggle with weak immune systems during the cold months of the year. We’re endlessly fighting a running nose or scratchy throat, and feeling run-down is simply the way we run our lives. But not everyone battles winter illness. There are always a few who seem to dodge every nasty bug that makes its way around the office. So what’s their secret?

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Which Coconut Water is Best for Beauty?

If you've sipped a coconut water lately, you're in good company. Coconut water drinks are everywhere.

So, is coconut water as healthy as some companies claim?

Which of the coconut water brands on the grocery store shelf packs the most beautifying bang for you buck?

To answer that question, let's look at the reasons we drink bottled* coconut water:

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Zinc: How to Boost This Essential Beauty Mineral

Acne can be caused by poor dietary choices, but there are other, more subtle factors behind persistent skin issues, including a zinc deficiency. Consider that the top sources of dietary zinc come from animal products and it's not a shock that a vegetarian or vegan could be lacking in this essential beauty mineral.

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How to Stay Healthy (and Pretty) This Cold Season

When was the last time you felt attractive with a cold? Before you find yourself curled under a blanket, sleeping away a winter sickness, check out these natural ways to boost immunity, courtesy of Dr. Frank Lipman of Eleven Eleven Wellness Center in NYC:

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