Beauty Bag: Winter Face Masks to Save Dry Skin

What can I say? I'm newly beauty- and health-crazy. And I don't know about you, but my skin is so tragically dried out from all this heinously cold weather we've been having. As it's been alternating between bitterly cold winds and bouts of sunshine within a range of 40 degrees or so, my skin gets so confused that a whole bunch of problems crop up - the most disconcerting of which is dryness, but also my complexion being super dull, patches of acne here and there, and generally just angry redness. No matter how hard I try, my skin seems to drink in moisturizers, lotions, and balms faster than I can apply them. So, I've stepped up my game with some serious face masks. 

While serums and creams are effective, a mask will work harder to seal in moisture while serving double-duty on problems like dullness, acne, and fine lines. Masks always work just a little bit harder to get your complexion calm and glow-y in a short amount of time. Because the outer layer of your skin has to work to keep up with the extra water loss, your skin gets drier than the desert and makes your rosy glow fade because of the dead skin cells that accumulate on the outer layer. While it's important to keep cleansing, moisturizing, and hydrating with cleansers, serums, and lotions, masks can restore and protect that outer layer of your skin that's always so effected, and can even defend against further damage if used regularly.

I use all sorts of different masks that are both drugstore-bought and from specialty beauty stores, but here are the five that I've found to help me the most when my skin is at its thirstiest. As I've said time and time again, everyone's skin is different - so if you're looking for something specific and one doesn't work, just remember that practice makes perfect!
1. Rodial Dragon’s Blood Hyaluronic Mask ($48). Get this ASAP if your skin has got a serious case of the mean reds. Made from the healing red sap of the sangre de drago tree in the Amazon (how it gets it's name), it soothes inflamed skin by drenching it with moisture and infusing it with antioxidants. The hyaluronic acid immediately firms skin and plumps up fine lines, easing the appearance of wrinkles. Bonus: This mask is clear, so it can even be worn overnight and washed off in the morning if you need some extreme help with dryness.

2. Fresh Rose Face Mask ($62). This little tub packs a major punch for dull skin. It hydrates and tones with a cooling gel that's skillfully infused with rosewater and real rose petals (two and half roses per jar!) - and it quickly became a favorite among beauty addicts. It uses cucumber and aloe vera to reduce inflammation and redness, calming the skin to leave it looking dewy and refreshed. After using it over and over, my skin is as soft as a baby's bottom and looks brighter and more even overall.

3. Tata Harper Resurfacing Mask ($55). I'm sorry (#notsorry), but I can't stop recommending Tata Harper products. As I've mentioned before, the entire line is 100% natural, making it ideal for sensitive skin. This incredible jar of jelly goop - because that's what it looks and feels like, no joke - always leaves my skin with an amazing rosy radiance. It minimizes the appearance of pores, sloughing off dead cells and leaving your skin smoother and brighter, and feeling massively fresh. Love, love, love this, and I cannot imagine living without it now. 
4. Consonant Skincare DHE Mask ($45). The three majors of the skin world: Detoxify, Hydrate, and Exfoliate. It's all in the name! This 100% all-natural mask is a serious multitasker, and can be used just once a week over a six week stint in order to see results. Manicouagan Clay from an asteroid crash in Quebec (what in the world?!) is full of minerals that clarify skin, while a variety of oils nourish and hydrate. Add in a batch of fruit enzymes to gently exfoliate, and you get the appearance of your most healthy and refreshed skin ever

5. Dr. Jart + Water Fuse Water-Max Sleeping Mask ($48). Why not get a mask that works for you while you sleep? Made from a quick-absorbing gel that strengthens skin and delivers insane amounts of moisture, this mask gives new definition to the term "beauty sleep." While a mixture of essential oils aids you in getting your best night of shut eye in weeks, hyaluronic acid replenishes and locks in the added moisture deep throughout the dermal layer of skin. You don't even need to rinse it off! Just let it sit for 10 minutes, and slip between the covers to catch some Z's. Oh, and by the way - the fact that you don't have to splash water all over your face also makes this mask perfect for jet-setters on long layovers.

How do you survive winter weather and dry skin? We'd love to hear what masks you're using! Leave a comment below or shoot us an e-mail at hippieteaparty@gmail.com. Stay warm out there, hippies!


Five Things: Aromatic Stress Relievers

I give up today. There are very few days that I mentally tell myself things like this, because I don't ever believe that I actually give up. But today, oh man, it was not my best. Everything seemed to be going wrong - from the cab driver who almost ran me over (it was a red light for him, by the way) to the internet at work which just did not want to work consistently throughout the day (blah, spent the whole day frustrated). All the little things just kept piling up until just now, when I spotted Shep's dried cat vomit under my bed from what must have been immediately after I left my apartment for work this morning. And I saw it, and I tossed the towel in. Universe, you win.

What I'm most looking forward to now that I've cleaned up the Shep vomit is getting into a detox bath later tonight, and adding in some lavender oil to calm my nerves down. I've been getting more experimental with different scents in my detox baths (read more here), but my best bet for stress relief at the end of a long day will always be lavender. Oils like these have been around since ancient Egypt, where essential oils were crafted by soaking things - flowers, bark, leaves, etc. - in oil, and then straining that oil through linen to isolate it. What's created from this process is something highly therapeutic with applications for pain relief, emotional distress, easing anxiety, and more.

So what makes an aromatic so effective? It's because there are over 50 million olfactory receptors in the nose that sync up with the Limbic System in the brain, which controls - among other things - emotions. There are a number of different scents that one can use when it comes to stress relief and restoring mental balance, many of which are found in perfumes like cedarwood, jasmine, rose, and one of my personal favorites, ylang ylang. Lavender is especially cool, though, because of it's unique ability to calm while also stimulating you to be more alert. I use it most frequently in my detox baths because of this balance, and it certainly doesn't hurt that it smells divine (said while singing, that's how lavender makes me feel inside).

Because oils can be so effective, there are many who suggest to only let your holistic professional dictate your daily regimen with them. Which makes sense, since the professionals have been taught specifically which oils help and in what dosages - so I generally follow a rule of never applying straight oils onto my skin and really only adding 100% pure oils into diluted baths in very small amounts. For those moments, though, when you're not at home and you really need a mental break, I've been swearing by some of my trusted brands' pre-made aromatic stress relievers. I wanted to share the wealth to all my other anxiety-ridden hippies who freak out at work, so here are my top five!
1. Clear Mind Tension Remedy Oil from H. Gillerman ($48). For those of us who sit hunched over at our desks, grimacing at passive aggressive e-mails and building up tension with what aromatherapist Hope Gillerman calls "mental fatigue," this mixture is for you. This travel-friendly guy has a hint of peppermint and is a cure for stress-induced headaches. Simply roll onto your wrists and take a few good whiffs. The newly discovered calm will stay with you - and if it doesn't, just apply a bit more.

2. Stress Fix Concentrate from Aveda ($24). Circling back around - if you like lavender, you'll definitely love this one. A miniature rollerball from Aveda, it's ideal for throwing into your purse for easy everyday access. Not only do you get the stress-relieving scent, but it's recommended that you roll it firmly over your pulse points, like your wrist, take a whiff and then massage it into your shoulders and upper neck. Quick little neck-massage ritual at work? Yes, please.

3. Deep Breathe Balm from Buddha Nose ($24). I'm so very obsessed with balms right now, and this is no exception. Whenever you're starting to feel anxious, and your breathing gets shallow and tight, this is an amazing trick to bring you back to your calm center. The balm mixes scents of lavender, peppermint, eucalyptus, and rosemary to enhance the internal feeling of relaxation and can even sooth congestion and sinus irritation. Massage into your hands and smell 'em a few times (inhaling deeply, duh), then back to work.

4. Aromatic Stress Treatment from Tata Harper ($80). I can't say enough about Tata Harper's line. First of all, it's 100% natural, so you know it's legit. This aromatic stress reliever may be one of my favorites from the entire collection because of it's ability to soothe, uplift and promote almost immediate relaxation. A few of the scents in the mix include floral Neroli, which is said to alleviate panic attacks, and Frankincense, which relaxes the mind. And, bonus! Small enough to fit in your smallest clutch.

5. Anxiety Zapper from Sumbody ($15). Another roll-on option for those of us out there reliving the 90's, this mixture of herbs and essential oils is created to calm nerves and restore peace to your body and your mind. Just apply the scent to your pulse points, your temples, neck, and chest, and enjoy the benefits while the rest of your coworkers live in the chaos.

What do you think? Do you use aromatics or essential oils? Tell us which ones are your favorites in the comments below or via e-mail at hippieteaparty@gmail.com!

For more reading on aromatics, essential oils, and how to use them: 
- Natural Living Ideas 
- Health Status
- Natural News
- Spry Living


Flashback Friday: Dreaming of Lugano, Switzerland

It's on cold winter mornings like this one that the wanderlust grabs me by the neck and throws me up against a wall. It's a violent feeling, a gut-wrenching, almost angry urge that rises from my stomach up into my heart and pulsates throughout my chest (possibly a panic attack now that I'm looking at it from the outside). Being a Florida girl - forever and always - the cold weather is not something that I think I will ever get used to. Last winter was bad, but this year it's much, much worse. And whenever I get to feeling like a total hermit for wanting to stay inside and under the covers on a work day, I dream of the summer I spent in Lugano, Switzerland in 2008.

Rewind for a minute. I know what you're thinking. Switzerland?! I don't know why, but it just happened to all fell into place that Switzerland was where I was heading. I've always been a fan of travel - my father implemented a love for far-off places as far back as I can remember with family trips to national parks. But Switzerland was the first trip I would be taking (*gulp*) by myself. No one - from my college, from my circle of friends, from my extended family - would be there to greet me, or to stand by me as I tried to figure out where my abroad dorm was, or who I was supposed to talk to, or what I was supposed to do. I had to figure it all out on my own, and I am so incredibly grateful that I was brave enough to do just that. It was the experience of a lifetime.

The international school that the abroad program was through was an American University, so thankfully I wasn't totally stranded, since... well, I don't speak Italian (the native language) AT ALL. I can't even pretend to. Regardless, Lugano swiftly stole my heart. In the summer, the city is a real-life playground, with lush gardens, beaches on the lake, and cobblestone pathways galore. There are mountains to climb, secret pathways behind enormous Swiss houses to run down, and an array of restaurants ranging from Mexican to Chinese and beyond. And, well, it's on mornings like this one that I find myself looking back through pictures and remembering what the sweet summer sun felt like on my skin while I ran on the walk next to the lake.

That memory alone feeds the wanderlust the most.

How do you deal with cold-weather bouts? Where do you dream of going? Leave a comment below or shoot an e-mail to us at hippieteaparty@gmail.com. I'm planning my next getaway, so any places you have to recommend, I want 'em!


Beauty Bag: Controlling Your Winter Frizz

Back home in Florida, heat and humidity frizz was something I managed year-round. I learned quickly how to tame it, how to cover it up, or how to pretend that baby hairs and fly-aways were "cool" because of how "real" I was (still not sure I convinced anyone). When I moved my life to be up here in New York, I was introduced to a strange phenomenon known as winter frizz. This is a new kind of frizz that I wasn't used to, and had no idea how to tackle it. Whereas in the summer, when morning air drying and some beach spray - combined with some fancy hair-wrapping techniques - helped me to get away with humidity-caused frizz on the reg, cold / wet strands in the winter made me quite miserable.

The result of air drying hair in the winter without product? Flat. Drab. Unhappy. Split ends. Dried out. Frizz to develop shortly, thanks to static cling and straw-like hair texture. And leaving the apartment with wet hair is a death wish - truly. I hate those articles that tell you not to take hot showers (um, yeah right), to wear only silk-lined hats (because those are readily sold everywhere - NOT), or to dry your hair with a t-shirt (sure, I don't create enough laundry as it is), so I wanted to find another way. But never fear, hippies! I've learned some great tips and tricks after residing up north for nearly a decade. And the answer is simple: you've got to protect your hair from the seemingly endless subzero temperatures like you would protect your bare skin from frostbite. And that's where oils come in.

Here are three of my favorite products (DIY and otherwise) that I swear by for shine, even when it's frigid out. They coat strands like a wool... well, coat - keeping hair glossy, happy, and healthy. And again, as I always say: keep in mind what your own hair is like. Mine is thick and slightly wavy, but super prone to frizz, so I tend to over-condition and over-use oils. If your hair is fine, try using just a touch of product. If your hair is curly, maybe you'll need a bit more. It's a science, y'all - trial and error until you hit that perfect medium!
1. Argan Oil ($13). So many success stories start with this golden product. It's good on skin. It's great for hair. It's a massage oil. You can even eat it! The ever-gorgeous and glowy Constance Jablonski uses it. Do you need another reason? How about the fact that all your favorite brands probably have one in their line? I usually try to go organic and all-natural when it comes to this beauty elixir, but I've also heard amazing things about Josie Maran's (it's a cult classic). Just a few drops in your hands, rub together, and apply to hair (wet or dry). Focus mostly on the ends during application - that's where that damaged hair needs the most love anyways.

2. Coconut Oil ($15 or so, depending on where you buy it - I can't live without Nutiva). I've talked about coconut oil before, but it's worth repeating over and over and over again: this sh*t is a straight-up miracle. The fact that it's not more widely known and used is borderline insane to me. It's a heavier oil, so it penetrates the strands at a level that store-bought oils just can't reach. You can apply it at any time - but my absolute favorite thing to do (when I'm feeling fancy enough for a hair mask) is to just apply it to my hair before bed, slap on a shower cap, and shampoo it out during your AM shower. You might need to warm it up before applying it (I usually just rub it in my palms until it melts down), and if you have thinner or fine hair, use less and maybe rinse it out before bedtime. But overall, I could sit down and write a sonnet to coconut oil, that's how much I love it. 

3. Earth's Nectar Mint Leaves Scalp Oil ($19). As you can tell, I use a lot of natural oils in my hair. Sometimes when I get a little crazy and go overboard, I feel a little too oily. But never with this! It's got a mixture of essential oils - like rosemary, sweet almond, and jojoba, combined with peppermint - that makes it not only smell delightful, but also soothing while it moisturizes. The trick with this product is to not use too much of it, and only use it once a day; if it's not absorbing all the way into the scalp, you've applied too much. It only takes a little to make a difference! Just spray it into the palm of your hand, rub together, and massage into scalp. I recommend using it at night, mainly because of the dreamy smell that will linger with you and calm you down at bedtime. Bonus: it also treats dandruff and can prevent breakage and hair loss!

What's your favorite way to prevent winter frizz? Leave a comment below or e-mail us at hippieteaparty@gmail.com so we can try some new oils / DIY hair masks out!


A Happy Home: Cozy Leather Armchairs

It is painfully cold here in New York. So much so that I actually refused to leave my apartment today - and I've been bundled up in blankets on blankets on blankets, burrito-mode style all afternoon long. I do have a habit of being a bit of a hermit in the winter, being from Florida and all, but today was exceedingly rough. And on days like these, I always wish I had a leather armchair to cozy up into.

I didn't grow up with leather armchairs, so I'm not exactly sure where this obsession comes from. But here's the picture as it's laid out in my mind: It's frigid outside. You start a fire in your romantic, hand-laid stone fireplace (something like this), but you're still chilled to the bone. You grab a pile of blankets and throws - some plaid wool, some big chunky ivory knit - and you curl up into an old, worn-in leather armchair. You bring with you a good book, a hot cup of tea, and your favorite lap animal. You sit there for hours, warming up throughout the bitterly cold winter day. Now doesn't that sound just perfect?

Maybe it's my interior love for all things mountain-cabin related. Maybe it's my leaning towards rustic accents. Whatever it is, I've been thinking about those leather arm chairs all day long. Here are some of my favorite inspirations to create a happy (and warm) home with leather armchairs. Enjoy!

Savor Home Blog
Ralph Lauren Home (Writer's Chair)
Simply Grove (Apartment-Living on Avalon)
Blood and Champagne
Savor Home Blog
Milo and Mitzy (EST Magazine)
What's your favorite thing to do on a day with subzero temperatures? Leave a comment below, e-mail us at hippieteaparty@gmail.com, or tag us on Pinterest!


My Recipe Book: No Guilt Cookie Dough (Vegan, Gluten-Free)

I have a very dangerous sweet tooth. It's one of those things where I can be completely fine and go months without craving a sweet; then it hits me all at once - BOOM. Once I have one cookie or one scoop of ice cream, it's never enough - and that's exactly how my patented three-day sugar binges used to begin. Now, since beginning to chronicle what I'm lovingly referring to as The Rabbit Food Diaries (click for more about my ongoing journey), I'm no longer allowed to eat like that. Yes, you read that right - not allowed, as in forbidden. Thank goodness for life-changing events like your doctor banning you from bad eats, right? Not exactly - cravings are still a fairly regular occurrence (waaaah).

Since I'm now cut off from all-purpose flour (gluten, why are you everywhere?!), added sugars (kill me now), butter (dairy, I miss you so, and Paula Deen please don't be mad at me), and eggs (really though, what is life), among a long list of many other things, it seemed something as simple as cookie dough would have to put on hold. But wait, I told myself, what if you could figure out how to replicate cookie dough with body-friendly ingredients? I'm a baker, y'all. I needed to figure it out. Number one priority level, here.

So, one night recently when I was feeling especially melancholy about the lack of sweets in my life, I searched around on the blogosphere. There are a few different options that I found, but by far my favorite was from The Live In Kitchen (to be real here, fellow hippie Jeanette sent it my way when she heard of my quest). I threw it together, but it was still missing the texture that I wanted. After some additions and playing around with the recipe a little, I found my PERFECT creation... and I call it the perfect creation because I know there are a ton of you hippies out there who will want to gorge on this stuff for Valentine's Day. My Hippie Love Fest treat to you.

No Guilt Cookie Dough (Vegan, Gluten-Free)
Recipe adapted from The Live In Kitchen, with Jeanette's input.

- 1/2 Frozen and Smashed Banana
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons of Coconut Oil
- 1/3 teaspoon of Vanilla Beans, Seeded (Vanilla Extract will work, too)
- 1 Tablespoon of Maple Syrup
- 3 Tablespoons of Gluten-Free Flour (I always, always turn to Bob's Red Mill)
- 1/2 Tablespoon of Chocolate / Cacao / Carob Chips (I like Sunspire, but people swear by Enjoy Life)
- 1/2 Tablespoon of Chopped Walnuts
- A Dash of Salt
- Mint Leaves for Garnish

1. Combine smashed banana, coconut oil, vanilla bean seeds, maple syrup, and gluten-free flour in a glass mixing bowl. Stir until fully combined and the mixture is smooth.
2. Fold in cacao chips, walnuts, and salt until present throughout.
3. Serve immediately with mint leaf garnish. If the mixture isn't holding properly, throw it into the refrigerator for 15 to 20 minutes, then stir once and serve.

And there you have it, hippies! Only takes a few minutes, and happily serves only one. Feel free to play with the recipe - I think it would also be lovely with some gluten-free oats, maybe some rum extract, or coconut flakes. And, oh man, it really does taste like cookie dough.

Let us know if you try it! Leave a comment or e-mail us at hippieteaparty@gmail.com.


The Rabbit Food Diaries: Breaking Up With Comfort Food

I just took the final steps towards cleaning out my refrigerator and pantry of all the foods I'm not allowed to eat for the next 5 months, so I'm in a pretty raw emotional state right now. I know I'm 110% overreacting towards this, but honestly? I feel like this is akin to breaking up with someone, and I don't like it. Not one bit. All my cabinets are now partially empty, replaced with foods that, to be honest, I'm not entirely sure how to cook with just yet. I generally don't feel great about all the uncertainty here. Blergh. 

How I feel in the kitchen nowadays.

Since I started weaning myself off of foods like wheat, dairy, and meat for the past two to three weeks, I've noticed a significant decrease in the intense (and random) cravings that I have throughout the day. That much has been helpful. But for some reason I couldn't bring myself to flush my home of all the foods I really shouldn't have around anymore. It was this reassurance, I think, that if I wanted something it was there; that feeling fueled my willpower on more than one occasion. That even though it was an option, I didn't need it - not that I couldn't have it (lying to yourself helps a lot, y'all, it may not be mentally healthy in the long run, but it acts like a band-aid... at least for now).

For some reason, though, I woke up and knew today was the day. The day I had dreaded as soon as my doctor and nutritionist and I had discussed this new, and hopefully temporary, diet. I just needed to get rid of it all and purge. Starting February 11th (just four short days away), all of these foods - foods that I grew up with, foods that I've turned to in times of stress and anxiety, foods that brought me comfort and happiness - they weren't going to be a part of my life anymore, or at least not for the near future. I needed to face the music. I needed to see all of my pasta, my cheese, and my bacon (oh, good LORD the bacon) in the trashcan. I needed the visual to be able to come to terms with it.

It wasn't a great morning, and I'm still kind of reeling from it all. From all the work I've done so far, I do feel cleaner, and I do feel healthier, but I still would really, really love a fried chicken sandwich.

xx, Molly

Blogging tips