Inner Peace/Outer Beauty: Christine Russo
“I can’t change the day I was born. But I can take care of my skin, my body, my mind and try to live my life and be happy.”
~Olivia Munn (actress)
I read this quote recently in a magazine and it is simple yet powerful. We have choices and we must be accountable for our decisions because they will ultimately impact our lives, inside and out. I choose self-love.
Today, at the end of this mini-series on Loving the Skin You’re In, I’m sharing the final and all-important steps in assuring proper skin care: moisturizing and–you guessed it–wearing sunscreen.
Step Three: Moisturize
When I was 13 years old my mother gave me my first bottle of Olay moisturizer (with sunscreen) and I’ve thanked her every day since. I am a couple of years shy of 40 and I am always told I look like I’m closer to 30. Maybe that’s true, or maybe people are just really kind-hearted. Either way, a lot has to do with my spirit and attitude, but the skin does not lie. I attribute my skin’s health and vitality to moisturizer and sunscreen. They are my greatest allies in my campaign to ward off wrinkles, sunspots and dehydration.
I promised myself I wouldn’t preach, but I feel I would being providing a disservice if I didn’t stress two very important facts. Smoking does affect the body, both inside and out. It wreaks havoc on your skin. Couple this with tanning beds/booths and you have a recipe for disaster. Okay, I feel better now that I got that out. Back to what you can do that’s great for your skin…
You should choose a moisturizer based on your skin type, and you should have one for daytime and one for night. Your daytime moisturizer should have UV-A and UV-B sunscreen protection while your nighttime moisturizer should contain ingredients that nourish your skin and heal it from the environmental aggressors it is exposed to during the day. Nighttime is a time for renewal of mind, body and spirit.
Products I Love: Total Effects Fragrance-Free Daily Moisturizer by Olay for daytime and boscia Recharging Night Moisture. This is where I splurge. This nighttime moisturizer gives me results overnight I never thought possible. It’s also nice to treat myself every once in a while to something I really like.
Products for Men: Kiehl’s Facial Fuel. As they advertise, men’s skin is thicker and less likely to maintain proper hydration levels. Kiehl’s has a rich history here in New York City and continues to create amazing products for men and women.
DIY: Tangerine Dream Moisturizer: This recipe is from Return to Beauty: Old World recipes for Great Radiant Skin by Narine Nikogosian. What you’ll need:
- ¼ tangerine, peel and pith removed
- 1 tablespoon sour cream
- ½ teaspoon flour
- 1 teaspoon rose oil
What you’ll do:
Preparation: In a blender, combine the tangerine, sour cream, flour, and oil. Mix well.
Application: Apply this to your face every morning and evening after cleansing.
Step Four: SUNSCREEN
This is the most important part of your skin care regime. The following are only some of the negative effects of the sun: wrinkles, freckles/sun spots, damage to collagen, sun burn, thinning of blood vessels and skin cancer. There’s more information on how sunscreen can curb these effects on Wikipedia. If there is anything I hope you will take from this post, it that using a little bit of education to be proactive can do wonders.
Products I love for Adults: Neutrogena Suncare with Helioplex. The higher the SPF, the more protection a sunscreen offers against UV-B (the ultraviolet radiation that causes sunburn). I just started using this sunscreen and my skin is still as fair as I prefer. It works.
Products I love for Children: Neutrogena Pure & Free Baby. I put this on my son in the morning and re-apply throughout the day. It doesn’t irritate him other than my applying it. I discovered Banana Boat Kids Max Protect & Play years ago when I needed extra protection for my tattoos (to prevent color fading). After 10 years my tattoos still look vibrant.
DIY Tips: Wear sunglasses all year around (the bigger, the better) with lenses that block 100% of UV Rays–it’s worth investing in a good pair, even as much as I love Target’s vast and affordable selection. Summer is hat season so be creative (floppy a la Nicole Richie for you and Sponge Bob or Dora sunhats for the little ones). Umbrellas are not just for rain. Use one at the beach, the park or if you are feeling like a celebrity, when walking around town. Last but not least, be sure to cover up–wear light clothing that will protect you.
Finally, I would like to leave you with this thought: take a moment, make a moment. Share the joy, spread the sunshine and wear sunscreen!
Hello and thank you for returning to part two in my mini-series about providing skin care practices that are simple yet crucial to include into your daily regime. In Part 1, I introduced why it’s so important to love the skin you’re in, especially in these summer months when the sun is shining bright and we’re all about enjoying it. In Part 2, we’re focusing on two very important steps to your skin care wellness practice: cleansing and exfoliation.
For me, both of these processes have literal and metaphorical healing properties. When I take my nightly shower, I let the water run over me for a few minutes before I do anything else. I focus on my breathing as I enjoy the sound of the water washing the day’s worries down the drain. Then I get to cleansing myself of the actual grime of the day. Exfoliation helps greatly with this process. I gently scrub all that’s blocking me from revealing my true self, inside and out. I come out of the shower feeling refreshed and ready for the next day–a new day.
Step One: Cleansing
Get to know your skin type so that you can follow a regime based on your skin’s unique needs and how it reacts to products. For example, if you have dry skin, consider using a cream wash without water. Just apply and wipe gently with a cotton pad, removing impurities. Many people think that if there is no lather to a wash, then it must not being doing a good job. The reality is that most people tend to over-wash their face. I wash my face at the end of the day and simply splash water on it in the morning. Unless I ran a marathon in my sleep or did some gardening in the dark, chances are my face is still just as clean as it was the night before. The water will remove any excess oil and give me a much needed wake me up.
Products I Love: Dove Gentle Exfoliating Beauty Bar and Bliss Fabulous Foaming Face Wash. While bar soaps are generally not for use on your face, this one works wonders for me. I also love that Dove has a social mission that empowers women and teens. What I love about both of these products is that they are also exfoliate allowing me to skip step two. When you have a toddler, any extra time counts!
Products for Men: Because men also wash their faces, they too deserve some TLC and from what my friends say and what I know about these companies, I suggest the following Neutrogena Men Invigorating Skin Wash and L’Oreal Men’s Expert Hydra-Energetic Turbo Cleanser.
DIY: Honey Cream Cleanser: Though it sounds like breakfast, this recipe is actually a natural and gentle cleanser that leaves your skin moisturized and refreshed. And chances are, you might have these ingredients lying around your kitchen. What you’ll need:
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1 teaspoon natural yogurt
What you’ll do: In a small bowl, combine the honey and yogurt (you may need to warm the honey first). Apply to damp skin with hands, rinse thoroughly with a damp, tepid cloth three times and pat dry with a soft towel.
Step Two: Exfoliate
Simply put, exfoliating assists and actually speeds up the removal process of the top layer of your skin. It’s not as icky as it sounds–this natural process, aided by exfoliation, reveals brighter, newer skin beneath. It also unclogs pores, keeps skin clean and helps reduce acne breakouts. For men, this is a key step before shaving because it exposes the hair follicles in preparation. But you don’t want to over exfoliate or you will dry out your skin. For this reason I prefer mechanical over chemical means.
Products I Love: Aveda Botanical Kinetics Exfoliant. I fell in love with this when I attended the Aveda Institute. It is gentle, easy to use and natural. I always see amazing results after a couple of uses.
Products for Men (and Women): Two words, Tend Skin. When I worked at Sephora, people would come in droves for these products. We were always sold out of this stuff so eventually, I finally tried it for myself. I was instantly hooked. Goodbye razor bumps. Use a little Tend Skin and out comes the hair with no scarring or redness/soreness from aggravating the area. It may be a little pricey, but it’s worth it, especially if you are prone to these conditions.
DIY: Cup O’ Joe Facial Scrub: This easy and refreshing exfoliating recipe is from PETA. Who doesn’t love a cruelty-free DIY product? The coffee will exfoliate your skin while the olive oil provides a good source of moisture to keep your skin soft and hydrated. You can store your coffee scrub in the refrigerator if you prefer a really cooling exfoliant, but it will stay fresh for several weeks at room temperature. What you’ll need:
- 4 Tbsp. olive oil
- 6 Tbsp. coffee grounds (Note: the coffee grounds should be very fine because you will be rubbing them onto your skin. Put the grounds through a coffee grinder two times if you need to.)
- Container for finished product
What you’ll do: Mix the coffee grounds and olive oil. (If you’d like to make more or less, the ratio is 3 tablespoons of coffee for every 2 tablespoons of olive oil.) The scrub should look like a coarse mud when finished. To use, simply take a small dollop of the coffee and olive oil mixture and gently scrub it onto your skin. Then rinse completely with water.
Until next time, try using your bathroom as a sanctuary, even if only for a few minutes. It can make the world of difference. Add in a candle and some music and you are set!
” I’m tired of all this nonsense about beauty being only skin-deep. What do you want? An adorable pancreas?”
~Jean Kerr, American Author and Playwright
Every time I read this quote, I laugh out loud. While I truly feel that it is a person’s heart and spirit that make them who they are, we need to protect what keeps it all together…our skin! During the middle of the summer when the sun is blazing, it is very important that we do our best to make a conscience effort to love the skin we’re in. Though the elements of taking care of your skin are easy enough to execute, all the benefits can take a bit of explaining, which is why I’ll be sharing my thoughts in three parts.
It’s only natural to want to enjoy those same rays of sunshine we want to be cautious of. Many people, including myself, thrive when natural light shines upon us. When it is dark and dreary or fluorescent light is blinding me, I feel different–sort of sluggish and sometimes unmotivated. I find immense comfort in being near windows whether I’m at work or home, whether it’s winter, spring, summer or fall. There is even a term for experiencing symptoms beyond what I just described, Seasonal Affective Disorder (or Syndrome). If you find yourself relating to them, please assess if your symptoms are mild–that is, they don’t interfere with your daily living–or more serious–significantly affecting many aspects of your life. The Center for Environmental Therapeutics offers tools and information on Seasonal Affective Disorder. You can us the Personal Inventory for Depression and SAD (PIDS) questionnaire to help you evaluate and decide if you should consult a clinician. It is not a diagnostic tool, it is a guide.
The sun is our greatest source of energy, yet it is our skin’s worse enemy. Since it shines all year round, we need to take care to protect our skin. I’ll be discussing ways to care for your skin using products I myself use and love, along with some great do it yourself (DIY) ideas. Though different skin care techniques are best for different skin types, I’ll be sharing ideas that are great for all skin types. I’ll be focusing on the face, but remember, it’s just as important to follow the basic skin care steps on your entire body, especially for those parts that are exposed to the sun on a daily basis.
Open up any fashion magazine (I favor Marie Claire because its stories combine fashion with education on human rights and current events) or watch daytime TV (think As the World Turns or Oprah time slots) and you will be bombarded with advertising for the latest wrinkle fillers, lip plumpers and age rewinders. There are images of women with flawless skin and perfect teeth, yet these ads don’t mention that airbrushing is not part of your purchase. It’s an ideal that isn’t ideal at all.
Of course I have tried many of these products in my day because I wanted soft, supple skin. But I realized early on that if I take care of my skin the right way, I will age gracefully without the $200 face lifting cream. So far, so good. It’s quite amazing what moisturizer, sunscreen, a floppy hat and over-sized sunglasses can do for you.
There’s a lot to discuss when it comes to skin care, so stay tuned for the next in this three part series, when I’ll be discussing a couple of the basic elements of loving the skin you’re in.
“It has been said, ‘time heals all wounds.’ I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens, but it is never gone.”
~ Rose F. Kennedy
Hello Joyful Community!
My name is Christine and I am honored to be your new Wellness Warrior. I wanted to share this quote because it is both a beautiful metaphor and a literal description of healing. It ties into my new role as a Wellness Warrior of Inner Peace/Outer Beauty. It’s important to recognize that time holds a different meaning for everyone; this is especially apparent when referring to healing. While continuing on your journey time can be your friend and constant companion or a burden and steady reminder you want to forget. That’s why it is so important that you are gentle with yourself and go at your own pace. There are no guidelines or time limits to follow or that need to be met. Before I move forward I would like to tell you more about myself and just how I came to this place of connecting the inner and outer self on the journey towards healing.
I have been working to raise awareness on the issues of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse for 15 years. I have also assisted thousands of survivors and those affected through my work at Safe Horizon and, for the past 7 years, Joyful Heart. My roles have been many yet they all held the same purpose–to provide compassion and support to survivors and the community affected by these issues.
After several years as a counselor I noticed two aspects of my life that had changed, my passion to do this work and my appearance. I felt as though I was a shell of my former self, I was burnt out and it showed. It was at this point I decided to take a sabbatical and pursue my other passion, Esthiology and Make-Up Artistry, which I did with the Aveda Institute. After obtaining my license something unexpected happened as I began my new career: people were disclosing their stories to me, many of them stories of survival.
Some were just beginning their healing journey while others were far along. They were survivors of cancer, domestic violence, 9/11, sexual violence and so much more. They all had one thing in common: they wanted to feel good inside and out. They wanted to share their pain and triumph. Their fearlessness was inspiring. I was open to listen and honored to play small part on their healing journey. The entire experience had a profound effect on me. I realized the connection within myself. After almost a decade of working in the field, I was experiencing what some call vicarious trauma and others refer to as trauma exposure response, the transformation that takes place within us as a result of exposure to the suffering of other living beings or the planet. Trauma exposure response can result from deliberate or inadvertent exposure, formal or informal contact, paid or volunteer work. I internalized the stories while not taking care of myself or receiving the support I needed. I embraced my new-found epiphany and realized a couple of things about myself. The first and most important lesson was that I wouldn’t be able to assist others if I didn’t take care of myself. For me this means having a solid support system and a physical outlet for my emotions (my favorite is walking with my son), being as transparent as possible with myself and those around me, and finding acceptance and love for myself both inside and out. It was at this point I also realized I wanted to return full-time working with survivors and did so at Joyful Heart.
It was through Joyful Heart I was able to join the concept of inner and outer healing. I presented workshops at a local domestic violence shelter on skincare and make-up application. I also worked with local spas, such as Bliss and Exhale to bring the women there for complimentary beauty treatments. It was breathtaking to see the women transform. Even if it was only for a moment, it was her moment.
We play many roles in our daily life yet we need to nourish our mind, body and spirit. My daily practice of self care is waking up 15-minutes before I have to get my son ready for the day so that I can put my make-up on, try to style my hair and choose an outfit based on my mood that morning. If I am feeling cruddy, I still get up and follow my routine because no matter how I am feeling inside, I want to take care of myself. And truth be told, putting on a little blush and mascara makes me feel better every time I apply. There is a lot to be said about the power of taking care of yourself–nurturing your soul while tending to your body–and I am so thrilled to be the one who says it!
I look forward to sharing my DIY skin-care techniques, cosmetic application tips and products that I love. I’ll also be sharing information like what to do if someone discloses they are being abused, as well as organizations within the beauty industry that are aligned with Joyful Heart’s mission. My goal is to speak to each of you–survivors, healers, teens, men, women–our Joyful Community.