Are Nutritional Supplements The Key To Beauty, Gut Health & Mood Maintenance?

vitamins hair skin health

I have long taken vitamins in whatever form they come – tablets, capsules, liquids, powders. If it’s touted to be good for me, there’s every chance I’ll swallow it. I have even been known to make a thick paste of turmeric and gulp it down, or spoonfuls of chilli powder, an entire ginger root chomped through and even garlic bulbs.
I’m sort of the Bear Grylls of nutrition.
When I was a teenager, I had really bad acne. There were days I wouldn’t go to school because my sister had stolen my makeup and I refused to go anywhere without covering up the spots as thoroughly as I could. To this day, I’m super fussy about my skin and if I even get the whisper of a spot, I change what I’m using immediately. At the moment, I’m using Formula 10.06, Medik8 Vitamin C serum, Gernetic and Kryolan makeup. All of these are doing wonders for my skin and none of them will break the bank. I’m also undergoing laser for pigmentation caused by sun damage (and I had a skin check last week to make sure none of my freckles warrants concern).
Back to nutrition though. There’s every reason to believe that clear, radiant skin begins with gut health. Mood and brain function are also related to the gut flora and so is your overall energy. What you eat affects it, but also HOW you eat and your overall lifestyle. Under pressure, I can eat too much and too quickly. This is bloating and makes me feel lethargic and crappy. No matter how many superfoods you eat or how perfectly you’ve calculated your macronutrient intake, if you feel guilty or afraid of food, you eat that guilt and shame and that affects your guts and your mood too.
vitamins hair skin health

So, this is a holistic approach that you must take if you want to feel good, look good, and know you’re functioning in a way that this short life is lived with full energy and joy.
Coming up in May 2019, Melbourne Museum has a show devoted to gut health: Your Mind, Your Microbes.
I’ve been taking supplements daily to improve my overall energy and especially since becoming vegan a year ago, I am mindful that my diet doesn’t always meet my protein requirements, or I overdo the vegetables and legumes and end up feeling bloated and blah. I’ve been taking a probiotic and also magnesium powder daily, as recommended by a naturopath at Natural Chemist. You can get a free health check and ask any questions via their online or phone chat with a naturopath.
I’m also taking Arbonne powder supplements – pomegranate flavoured energy satchets are brilliant for the full spectrum of B vitamins and the magnesium/fibre supplement is great for calm, post-workout muscle maintenance and also improving sleep quality.
Whether you need supplements or not is up to you. I’d rather take them and know I’m plugging any holes that my diet isn’t meeting but I have had a doctor tell me I’m essentially peeing out all my money. Each to their own. Keep in mind that there’s so much we don’t know about the brain, gut and the body as a whole though so only you can know if what you’re eating, drinking, swallowing and doing is making you feel fit, well and alive. If not, change. Send me an email or post on Twitter letting me know if you take supplements and what works for you.

Hair And Scalp Health: Preventing thinning, Repairing Damage. The Tried & Tested Products

hair health scalp health coloured hair damage repair

I've always had a wild mane of LOTS of hair, but it's quite thin and prone to breakage. I'm also prone to an itchy, irritated scalp. Training daily, putting my head on foreign yoga mats and a habit of touching and playing with my hair all make it much worse!

There's a zillion and two hair brands and products all on the shelves right now that claim to treat dandruff, soothe a sensitive scalp, make hair grow longer, halt thinning and more. But how many of them are legit? I can't honestly answer, because I don't have the time or funds to trial a zillion and two things. But I do try a lot of hair products and I only stick with what I genuinely find works for my hair. I have naturally red-brown brunette hair, curly and dry. It's a pain in the butt to style and I insist on dyeing it all the colours (that's my latest "do" below) so it's even more in need of conditioning treatments and care than most.

VIVISCAL

For the past year, I've been taking Viviscal supplements daily. I tend to notice a much greater impact on my nails than my hair, but I have certainly noticed considerably less split ends and the strands appear to be a little thicker than before. Jennifer Aniston swears by it and it has multiple clinical trials to back up its effectiveness so it certainly can't do any harm to try it.

DIET

healthy hair diet plant based
The key to a healthy hair and scalp is much more internal than external. In addition to any supplements, you need to ensure you're consuming adequate quality proteins like beans, legumes, tofu and tempeh if you're vegan or organic beef, fish and eggs if you're not. A rainbow of vegetables and fruits, plus B vitamin rich carbs will also feed your hair, scalp and skin generally.

I eat a super colourful, varied vegan diet with plenty of healthy fats and proteins (tempeh, tofu and veggie burgers plus a vegan protein powder in my smoothies). I have also been washing my hair every 3 to 4 days because too often strips the hair of its natural oils and leaves it damaged and prone to further breakage. I also try to leave it out when I'm not training so that I don't pull it at the roots constantly (traction damage).

TREATMENTS

There's four brands I recommend and their particular ranges that work for my hair. I tried each for several weeks to be sure I saw measured improvement in my hair. The products you don't see listed made a lot of promises and yet, they left my hair greasy, or my scalp was itchy a day later, or they stripped my hair of any moisture and left it brittle. Here's the gold medallists.

alfaparf hair scalp hair growth reconstruction

Alfaparf Milano Reconstruction Range

The whole goal of the Reconstruction range was to protect hair against environmental damage, including pollution and harsh styling regimes. It's perfect for my hair because it also enhances coloured hair and prevents fading. The whole range is formulated with bamboo marrow to strengthen the hair fiber. I won't lie - the deep marine green colour is super chic and displaying it on my bathroom shelf makes me happy. Thankfully it also smells divine and actually leaves my hair really smooth and shiny. It's much easier to dry and straighten and so far, my purple and pink colour has stayed strong. I use the shampoo followed by the masque and one ampoule of the treatment every week. I also use the leave-in serum after styling.
Find the range here.

After using the shampoo and hair mask, my bright purple colour was exactly as bright as it was on the first day. My hair dried smooth and soft too, as opposed to the Kramer-like fuzz I sometimes deal with.


green people vegan organic haircare cruelty free

Green People Organic Irritated Scalp Range


Quinoa in my shampoo? Sure. If Green People says it's the way to go, I'm all for it. It makes sense. It's rich in protein, vitamins and minerals which are all elements the hair needs. I swear by the Irritated Scalp Shampoo and Conditioner. They're certified organic, vegan and cruelty free. Lavender and rosemary naturally soothe an itchy scalp and there's no toxic scents or preservatives. It's perfect for adults but also really good for kids, especially if typical hair products cause scalp irritation or itchiness.

Less Is More organic haircare scalp protein natural hair

Less Is More (Organic and Natural)

Just like Green People, Less Is More is all about a natural, gentle approach to scalp and hair care. The products are all organic, with gorgeous minimal packaging. The big selling point, apart from how genuinely good they are for my hair, is how divine the scents are! I use Chitinspray daily - it smells like a citrus garden with hints of rose and aloe vera. Totally heavenly. Flower Whip is a mix of orange, rose, ylang ylang and aloe - a styling cream that I work into my hair when it's wet and just leave to dry. Perfect for warmer weather. The Herbal Tonic and Protein Spray are ideal for both soothing my scalp and the Protein Spray in particular for after I've had my hair bleached and coloured. 


Stress Hormones: How to combat belly fat, bloating and blemishes

stress hormones belly fat blemishes acne health
In over 10 years of teaching, I've been asked the same few questions repeatedly. Two of the most common are:

  • How do I fix blemishes/acne/dry skin?
  • How do I target excess belly weight?

Now, as we all should know, I don't buy into body hate and shaming and guilt. Women naturally have curves and a tendency to hold weight around the belly and hips because women are designed to create, house and nourish new human life within their bodies. That's pretty amazing. Whether you choose to have children or not, your body is engineered for it.

That said, there's a fine balance to find between functional and healthy amount of particular hormones and the sort of irregularity and imbalance that will lead to a cycle of nasty symptoms that indicate hormonal problems and that lead to MORE hormonal imbalances if not addressed through lifestyle.

The culprit - in all my discussions with medical and natural health practitioners, and in my personal experience - is the stress hormone, cortisol. An excess of cortisol leads to inflammation within the body, creating dramas with digestion, sleep, mood, acne and blemishes, insatiable appetite, cravings, bloating and weight gain particularly around the belly and hips.

Cortisol is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands (in the kidney area). It isn't all bad! Cortisol is produced to enable the body to handle and respond to danger. It is also heightened during exercise or at the beginning of the day to put the body into a more alert state.


Too much cortisol results in a number of symptoms, including weight gain around the face and abdomen, thin and easily broken skin, acne, bones more vulnerable to fracture and breaking, depressed mood, increased facial hair and irregular periods.

Some medications can mimic cortisol, including some asthma medication and topical steroid creams or steroidal drugs.

What can you do to prevent excessive cortisol and a crappy mood, bloated belly and tired, dull skin? Here's some simple steps. Take one at a time, or all at once:

  • Stop the extra long workouts. No wonder your body believes your under pressure and in need of hormones to cope with stress if you're forcing yourself through training regimes that run over 90 minutes
  • Cut the coffee. Sure, addictive, sure. But if you want to sleep and look 10 years younger, stop.
  • Eat wholefoods. Organic wherever possible, but maintain a diet where at least 80% of your food is a plant that you can recognise as exactly the same as it was on the tree or in the earth (powdered beetroot doesn't count)
  • Take high-quality supplements if your diet is restricted at all (vegan protein, omega 3 supplements, vitamin D if you don't get much sun, multivitamins)
  • Did I mention Omega 3 supplements?
  • Eat a high fibre diet to maintain good gut health
  • Take adaptogenic herbs: licorice root tea or medicinal mushrooms are easy to find at health food stores or online
  • Take 5 minutes every morning and/or evening to sit quietly, eyes closed and breathe fully into the belly then slowly out again. Set a phone timer if you need.
  • Get away from screens. Put the phone down.
  • Go to yoga - any type.
  • Do pilates
  • Dance
  • Laugh
  • Omega 3 supplements (seriously, though)
Image from Wholefood Merchants, Melbourne

Beauty Treatments To Heal Summer Skin Breakouts & Make Your Skin Glow

heal breakouts summer skin glow
Did you go hard with the partying, drinking, merriment over New Years? I didn't. But nonetheless, here I am in this ridiculous 30 degrees and upward heat of Melbourne, not idling in air conditioned office space but happily trundling off to Hot Yoga or walking instead of taking the tram.

All of this has an impact on the skin. Fortunately, much research has proven that at any age, exercise strengthens and fortifies the skin from the very deepest layer of the dermis to essentially create "young", naturally radiant skin. There is a catch though - not all exercise is beneficial. Just like healthy food is good for you, even too much of it is...too much. So, while short bursts of high intensity training are good, doing over 45 minutes of intensive training on regular occasions will deplete the skin and body. Especially if that training is outdoors in the elements.

Some people like to get a manicure as their luxury treat-to-self but I'm much more into having my face kneaded with delicious smelling things or having all the nasties sucked right out of it with high powered machines. If it's going to make my skin clear and glowy, bring it on! I've done the hard work for you and tried and tested stuff. Here's the essential treatments in Melbourne and skincare to know now.
natural beauty therapist melbourne

Belinda Hughes is an award-winning organic beauty therapist. She is an absolute master face massager. I was sceptical, to be honest, the first time I saw her over a year ago. Could natural, organic skin products applied gently without a whole lot of high powered lights and lasers and harshness really impact my skin? Turns out, yes.
There's not many occasions when I'm totally bare-faced but after Belinda massaged and cleansed and masked me, my skin was so dewy and fresh and there was zero puffiness around my eyes: I felt absolutely confident with not a skerrick of concealer. I mean, for the rest of the day! I have a tendency to get spots after a facial too, but nothing. Total clarity and dewiness. The key is that Belinda doesn't apply the same treatment and products to everyone. She is an expert at analysing, suggesting and then making the magic happen. Her latest development is the Matcha Treatment. I have used a matcha face mask in the past and nothing tightens my skin like that fabulous green powder. It's like an antioxidant powerhouse. If you are conscientious of sustainable, ethical skincare and products and you have concerns around your skin, I cannot recommend Belinda enough. You can find her via her website, Facebook and Instagram.

claire francoise microhydrodermabrasion

If you have never had Microbrasion with the added benefit of water (hydrabrasion), you have never known the joy of a magic wand exfoliating all the dead skin cells and blockages right off your face, literally. It's fantastic. I have seen Claire for infrared laser and also for skin needling in the past. To meet Claire, with her radiant, clear skin and cut-glass cheekbones, is to know you are in expert hands. This is a woman who takes her skin, and your skin, very seriously. Microhydrabrasion is painless and quite relaxing. The skin is thoroughly cleansed before the wand is applied over the face. Two days later, my skin looks and feels 100% smoother. A few spots I had before the treatment have cleared up too.
Claire Francoise clinic is based on High Street, Prahran and fortunately, you're a simple walk from several amazing cafes, plus a great fruit and veggie store and a whole lot of vintage clothing places. What's not to love? Make a booking via the website, Facebook and Instagram.

makeup to get the glow

Time to glow. After the facial, the microdermabrasion, the skincare that is going to keep your pores clean and clear... that's when the makeup comes into play. As a teenager with terrible acne for a few years, I relied on makeup to conceal, cover, hide. Now, I respect that makeup can be used to enhance great skin and features. Rather than rely on makeup to hide, focus much more on skincare and establishing routines and a lifestyle that protect and nourish your skin. I always find that a diet rich in protein and exercise that is moderate without being excessive and tiresome is the best way to master a natural glow. I'm completely loving the lavender, fresh, pink-based tones right now. Could it be that Valentine's Day is approaching? Or just that I love a fresh, playful pink any time of the year?
Both.
Any excuse.
I'm loving the new MAC Next To Nothing foundation, which gives a sheer coverage so that your natural skin just looks smoother and more even with a dewy glow. If you've got a few post-hot-yoga spots (a small price to pay for enlightenment!) then dot on some MAC Studio Waterweight concealer.
Contour your cheeks (aim for the centre of the cheek, right under the pupil of each eye and brush upwards towards the top of the ear) with shades of blossom but keep a light touch. You want to look a little flushed, not as if you've been slapped. I am loving ZOEVA Blush Palette in Pink Spectrum. Try a combination of MAC Lavender Jade (purple/pink) with nude, coffee coloured ZOEVA Pure Lacquer in Strong Career.I like to use the darker shade as a base with a pop of deeper pink that allows the outline of beige to remain. 

Beauty Foods: The Recipes, The Aussie Skincare Brand To Know & Fake Tan Tried & Tested


Every year at around this time, beauty and fitness experts make their predictions for what will be trending in the next 12 months. I won't bore you with my magical predictions but I will champion some trends that have begun this year and will pick up pace into 2018 because they work.


Beauty Supplements are nothing new - Hair, Skin and Nails tablets and capsules have been around forever but now the trend is for wholefoods, herbal and protein rich powders that can be added to smoothies, infused in water or diluted in juices. Elle McPherson brought out her own brand, The Beauty Chef has her own custom blends and now Vita-Sol have brought out a range of wholefood powders. Each blend combines organic superfoods, traditional and ayurvedic herbs and plants with pure protein to slow down the ageing process. I've been taking the Infinity Blend (vegan, gluten free) with collagen powder and almond milk every morning. I also take Swisse supplements for skin and liver function.

Eating for health, strength, muscular and joint integrity and with an awareness that our skin, hair, nails and overall beauty is inherently the result of how we eat, move, sleep and work. I think the whole "clean" eating moral judgements on food is toxic, don't get me wrong. But there is a lot to be said for choosing foods that we love and also have nourishing properties for our bodies: unprocessed veggies, fruits, seafood, meat, legumes and a moderate amount of coffee (working on that!). I've been luxuriating in Beauty Food by Lola Berry. Recipes are below.



Every day I try to take a moment or several to remind myself I'm very fortunate to live in a time, place and in circumstances that allow me to take care of my body and my mind with freedom. I shower, I moisturise, I dress and I appreciate that for all the criticisms I've had of my own body, it is mine. I live in this skin, I've grown up in this skin, this body is much more valuable than I sometimes remember. I treat my shower and moisturising and makeup and dressing each day as a ritual of preparation for living. As a way to look after my body because she does a lot for me. I've been using new Australian skincare from Olive Oil Skin Care Co. The Rose Geranium Body Wash and Citrus Revival Body Butter smells gorgeous and the packaging is divine.

This time of year it gets super hot, super fast. As someone with naturally pale and an inability to naturally tan (straight to red!) I fake it. My parents have had multiple skin cancer scares and I don't have any desire to risk it. Plus prolonged sun exposure is ageing - I don't need that. I've used a zillion tanning products and there's only a few I truly recommend because they are streak-free, completely natural looking, easy to apply and they don't go all streaky and uneven as they fade. The pick of the pack is absolutely Bondi Sands (Ultra Dark please) and Eco Tan by Sonya Driver.

Recipe Time. Get Beautiful From The Inside Out (Happy Thoughts Will Radiate From Your Skin Like Sunbeams)

Recipes and images extracted from Beauty Food by Lola Berry, published by Plum, RRP $24.99, available now. For further information visit: https://www.panmacmillan.com.au/9781760552671/





Beauty & Wellness October Obsessions


Who doesn't need stirrup barre pants, grippy ballet socks, one-piece leotards and flattering, high waisted capri pants in their life? WHO?

I discovered Zakti Activewear via a British Health & Fitness magazine and haven't looked back. Not limited to UK customers, obviously. They have done a brilliant collaboration with dancer Kimberly Wyatt. Ideal for barre, pilates, yoga and dance classes and - bonus! - you won't see 20 women with the same pants as you in class.

Research backs up the many health benefits of fish oil omega 3. It isn't naturally produced by the body and needs to be consumed, either through fatty fish, walnuts (ideal plant based omega 3!) or supplements. BlackMores Fish Oil is my daily joint, skin, heart, gut, muscle and overall wellbeing supplement of choice.

On the path of essential muscle, joint, bone, skin and gut health, did you know elite athletes and ballerinas take collagen supplements? The alternative is bone broth, but a tasteless collagen powder like GelPro Advanced Marine Collagen in your water, nut milk smoothie or even your acai bowl in the morning is an ideal way to boost your protein intake and feed your cells essential nutrients to build and maintain bone, muscle and skin tissue.

Recovery time demands magnesium. This mineral is present in most cell functions within the body so if you are stressed, getting sweaty a lot or post illness, you're likely in need of a magnesium boost. Taking capsules is okay, except that it's likely you're just going to pee them out rather than really benefit. If you apply magnesium as a cream, spray or even soak your feet in a magnesium salt bath, you absorb a great deal more and the massage effect has additional benefits. Go for pure, high grade stuff like Elektra Magnesium Spray & Flakes

Michael Kors Wonderlust because life is too short to stay in one place and also too short to not smell like heaven in a glass bottle. Plus...Christmas Is Imminent. Time to make a wishlist.

BYS Highlight Palette is my key to GLOW - like a beacon of beautiful good health and because a little bit of contouring (not Kardashian level everyday...) will always be welcome.

Sukin Shampoo & Conditioner because this organic company and their products are all about no toxins, no nasties, no animal testing. Also because it's affordable, Australian and gentle on your skin, scalp, hair and the earth.

My Froothie Blender is the B O M B. I can whizz up my protein smoothie in the morning (try roast pumpkin left to cool overnight with cinnamon, almond milk, big spoonful of marine collagen and a little shake of nutmeg) and also make a whole lot of raw food goodies like purees, dips, sauces and even mashed sweet potato and carrot/turmeric soup. Oh the endless possibilities! 900W or go home.

Last, but not least, my bathroom cabinet is a mecca of wonderfulness. At the ready every week is my Medik8 Clay Mask to nix the nasty stress/pollution and sweaty-face spots that occasionally appear. My nails always benefit from a layer of super glam - loving the cult brand Smith & Cult. Because it's a cult thing, and it's the goddess queen that is Kat Von D... on the daily, long lasting lip colour demands Kat Von D Liquid Lipstick (either Lolita or K-Pop).

Boost Your Digestion, Make Your Skin Glow & Power Your Metabolism

Sound too good to be true?
There's no single pill you can take and carry on living exactly as you are if you want to tick the three boxes:
Glowing Skin
Optimal Metabolic Function
Smooth Digestion

It takes time for these processes to heal and alter too, but the habits you start today are going to kick in within months (some of us will feel the effects within days!) and that's one year sooner than if you started next year. If, like me when I'm not being more careful about what ingredients and fitness work for me, you find yourself tired, easily bloated and feeling uninspired, here's my tried and tested methods.

detox digestion health

Detox Your Digestion

I believe in eating with nutritional balance at the core but ensuring that all your meals are foods you really love to eat and that there are no "bad" and "good" foods as long as you know how they make you feel and you're sure to get all the vitamins and minerals you need alongside your macronutrient balance over a week. If you happen to eat sponge cake for dinner now and again it really isn't a drama.
Consider why you make that choice and then when you eat a meal, feel energised and satiated, consider what you could do to make that a regular practice. Have equipment to make all your own juices, smoothies, shakes and condiments. I love Aussie made Froothie (1000W, no messing around here).Filling your pantry with the ingredients to make good meals, setting out a plan at the start of the week so you have everything you need at hand, reading books or magazines that inspire your food choices and exploring new flavours and combinations? I've been reading Paleo magazine for recipes - I am not paleo nor do I advocate any particular regime or take part in any! Their recipes are excellent though and they don't buy into the nutritional table of calories, protein, carbs etc that so many recipes do. It isn't necessary. Eat well, listen to your body and your appetite and get to know what satiates and what leaves you craving (ie. most diet foods and zero calorie beverages!) if you want a sustainably nourishing approach to food and life.
Daily, aim to get a decent serve of high quality protein (whether it's from food or a supplement) to ensure optimal muscle, bone, joint, skin, hair and organ function. I kick start most mornings with a vanilla protein smoothie and almond milk (I love the taste and I choose a high calcium one). Plus a good dose of coffee, black. Not only an energy kick pre-workout but also allows me to pretend to be Italian/French/ miscellaneously Euro.
To ensure you are getting the best out of your diet and that it is digested in such a way that the nutrients aren't wasted, supplement your diet with a probiotic. You may choose - like one friend - to take a big old spoonfull of kimchi daily, but I prefer a high quality pre/probiotic powder supplement. I add it to my protein shake in the morning.
My pantry is stocked with Nature's Sunshine supplements for preventing, treating and strengthening digestion and gut health. I'm as guilty as you are when it comes to overdoing it or allowing stress, poor sleep or jet lag to impact my food choices.
Try Bowel Calm, Activated Charcoal and Slippery Elm Powder. I also swear by Organic Apple Cider Vinegar (with the Mother!) for the mega dose of protein, enzymes and the energising bitterness at the start of the day and after each meal. My pick is Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar.


skincare quality cosmeceuticals

Use High Grade Cosmeceuticals Alongside Your Usual Skincare

I don't consume many chemicals - my food is majority wholefoods (unprocessed veggies, fruit, seafood, legumes, meat, nut milks) and organic wherever possible. But when it comes to skin, I'm a convert to cosmeceuticals. You can usually only get the best ones in salon and they cost more than your supermarket beauty buys, but they also work. As someone who prizes her skin after teenage years of acne and sunburn, I don't skimp. Totally recommend medik8 for retinol based resurfacing cream (my choice is Retinol 1 TR) and moisturisers (Hydrate 360 please). I'll also be adding the new Dark Circles eye cream to my bedside table... no need to look like I've been tossing and turning for 8 hours!
alpha h cat13gram

Alpha-H does an amazing copper/B vitamin serum that I apply every morning under my moisturiser and makeup.


lean protein health fitness

Maintain A High Quality Protein Intake Daily

Whether you're vegan, vegetarian or happily carnivorous, you must select high quality proteins. This means choosing lean, organic salmon rather than chicken wings deep fried and covered in salt. You want your
proteins to give you bang for their calorific buck, so to speak. Red meat, chicken and legumes are rich in protein. A serve of baked beans or chickpeas is an excellent alternative to meat proteins. While whey and milk-based protein powders are ideal for ultimate calcium and easily-absorbed protein, there's plenty of plant-based proteins that are worthy of cupboard space. Choose powders that have the least amount of ingredients listed and avoid sugar-loaded, toxic tasting candy powders unless you want to bulk up your guts more than your muscles.



crystals rock salt lamps energy
rock salt lamps cat woods

Embrace Rock Salt Lamps & Crystals In Your Home

Sure, I know it sounds all Gwyneth, but I can't tell you how peaceful my space feels when I have my rock salt lamps on and only natural lighting. It feels like bringing an ancient big old chunk of nature into my home. It feels restorative. I have both a 4kg lamp in my bedroom and a smaller sphere that plugs into my laptop USB port and lights up when I'm working.- totally recommended for travel and workplaces.
 Whether you believe the negative ions the salt lamps emit are genuinely beneficial is secondary. Just having that gentle glow emanating near you is calming in itself. My rock salt lamp and a Selenite crystal tower that I keep by my bed for the positive energy it symbolises and channels into my home are from Rock Salt Lamps

Cruelty Free Beauty


Now that the vegan lifestyle is no longer identified with kale-socks-and-sandals and anaemic hippies, there’s a growing curiosity and desire for products that aren’t made of any animal products nor tested on animals. 

Fortunately, there’s no lack of choice and quality in this area. Being vegan can be a challenge when it comes to finding sharp shoes, but when it comes to hair and makeup there’s a treasure trove of brands and products that are guilt-free. Where these brands are not 100% vegan, they are absolutely cruelty free.

INIKA is all organic, all natural Australian makeup. There’s a vast array of mineral eyeshadow shades, certified organic lipstick (Orchid Fields is the perfect shade of violet) and also offers mineral bronzer, foundation, illuminiser and blush. Prefer fluid foundation and in need of an eyebrow pencil? No worries, they’ve got you covered for that too.

Zoeva is high-end makeup (your budget will need to stretch a little here..) and there’s also a range of professional standard makeup brushes. In store, it’s available in Australia via Sephora but there are several online stores that stock it too. While the entire range is not certified vegan, the brushes are synthetic and entirely vegan and every product is 100% cruelty free.

Laura Mercier is entirely cruelty free and does not test products or ingredients on animals. None of their suppliers nor third parties test on animals either. Because Laura Mercier is cruelty free, their products are not sold in China, which requires animal testing on makeup by law. Here’s a hint too...if your favourite brand (perhaps one that has Miley and Lady Gaga in their ads?) is sold in China, there’s a good chance it tests on animals and won’t be ceasing this any time soon.

Kat Von D makeup is not only a cult range fronted by one of the most beautiful, tattooed goddesses on the planet but also entirely vegan.  The liquid lipsticks (especially Lolita) are raved about by makeup artists, instagram makeup stars and beauty lovers internationally. The liquid eyeliners and palettes are one of the top sellers at Sephora both in the US and Australia. While buying Kat Von D makeup won’t guarantee the perfect cat’s eye look, nor that you’ll turn into a 6”4 punk rock goddess, it will allow you to get a small step closer to the dream.
3ina cruelty free beauty

3INA is a Cult Beauty Brand. Three words to send shivers of excitement down the spines of mascara loving maidens and lipstick lovers. 3INA (pronounce it "MEENA") launched in Melbourne in 2016 with stores in Melbourne Central and Soutland. Professional quality Euro-made makeup that doesn't cost your weekly wage. Guaranteed cruelty free, super bold colours and unique collections. The latest UV collection takes on a nightclub attitude under UV lights where it goes all disco under the lights. I love the richly pigmented pink and purple mascaras especially. The Chubby Highlighter is better than two espressos for disguising no sleep. 
elf cosmetics cat woods blog

ELF is the super budget friendly vegan brand you can depend on for all the basics as well as the bells and whistles products. From foundation to concealer, eyeliner to blusher, bronzer and lipstick, ELF products commonly fall into the under $20 basket meaning you can live guilt free and debt free after stocking your makeup cupboard. Beautiful. Literally.



Winter Wellbeing: Body, Hair & Face

As you know - or will come to know - I get excited at anything that sparkles, glows, emanates colour, smells beautiful, looks amazing... whether it's eyeshadow, yoga pants, organic coconut oil, if it's divinely presented and a joy to use, I'm all for it.

Now that Winter Is Here, it's time to ease up on the self tanning if you're so inclined and instead to slather on moisturiser under your socks and sleeves. If, like me, heavily over heated rooms and shops really play havoc with your sinuses, I totally recommend Xlear. I discovered it at a health foods store but it's also in Priceline and other pharmacies. No steroids, no nasties, all natural and it clears up and moisturises at the same time. Alternatively, saline spray might be your best friend.

Life is short, and you only get one, so use all the good things and indulge yourself in beauty and wellness rituals that revive your body and your spirit. Sometimes it's the tiniest luxuries that remind you there are simple joys to be had every single day.

Eminence Coconut Body Firming Lotion is a richly scented, creamy lotion that is perfect for winter. Rather than disguising your scaly little limbs under full length leggings all winter, get out of your steamy shower and smear this all over. Then go forth into your day or night, knowing you are channelling some tropical summer vibes of your own.

I've just had my hair lightened to a very pale blonde ombre at the ends so it is super sensitive and dry. Because I refuse to give up on sleek, smooth and straight, I have to do all the things. Here's my advice regardless of whether you have coloured hair or not:
  • Use a heat-protection spray or leave-in product
  • Don't use the same old straightening irons you've been using for years (they're too hot!)
  • Invest in quality hair care and high tech stylers if you use them regularly (I have recently discovered 100% Australian EVY iQ styler. Never going back - this is the best!)
  • Wash twice a week and use a masque once a fortnight or more often if needed

Plump Your Skin: 5 Treatments To Do In Your Thirties & Forties


As a magazine junkie, I admit I can see how women would gain the idea that an entirely crease-free, plastic-fresh face would seem like a normal goal in life. The airbrushing is madness! But there are images sometimes, like the divine Christy Turlington for Valentino, with her untamed hair and the gentle lines of a lifetime of smiling, where true natural beauty is on show.

In the age of the selfie, where snapping photos of your food and your face and your dog in the middle of conversation is seemingly de rigeur, it's only natural we should be more aware of lines, creases, blotchy skin and spots. There is no particular age at which these start to show... and really, we need some perspective too. These are signs of ageing, which is inevitable and beautiful. The alternative is either never having lived at all, or being dead. Those creases, those lines, those sun-spots are all proof you have lived, laughed and loved. So I am forthwith, not giving you the low-down on how to be entirely frozen faced and line-free! Nobody wants to kiss and cuddle and converse with a puffer fish stuck on a human body. These are treatments, with the benefits and details, that you can consider as an investment in slowing down and reversing signs of facial ageing. Great skin: glowing, evenly pigmented, bright eyes and healthy, hydrated skin and hair are beautiful at any and every age.
beauty 30s blue hair jaime king

Celebrity nutritionist and naturopath, Nigma Talib advises to minimise, and ideally cut, the following from your diet on a semi-regular basis for two weeks to enhance digestion and improve skin health from the gut:
  • Sugar
  • Dairy
  • Gluten
  • Alcohol
 Start with the very insides and then come with me and try the following:

Enzyme Facial

face mask salon beauty baysideI have had the "Time Less Enzyme" facial at Bayside Skin & Laser two months ago and my skin looked firmer and the shape of my face more defined for days afterwards. This has NEVER happened after any other treatment. It can feel like your face and decolletage are being squeezed under pressure from the treatment masque as it absorbs, but this doesn't last longer than 10 minutes before cleansing so hang tight. The Enzyme facial is part of a treatment plan. Ideally, you'll do this facial as part of a program of other treatments which it prepares the face for: hydrating, balancing and stimulating cell turnover.

Laser

Who here hasn't watched Star Wars? Everyone knows lasers are good news!
bayside skin skincare laser 30sBut seriously, get this on your face, stat. All the celebrities are doing it, so you know it must be worth your pennies. Taking less than half an hour, I have a quick cleanse, don eye protection and a laser wand is directed over my cheeks, chin, forehead and briefly over my nose pulsing 40 degree heat deep into my facial skin to stimulate the cells. The heat brings blood flow to the face and causes micro-damage which forces the skin cells to recruit collagen for repair. The result? Plumpness. Right where you want it - cheeks, chin, under-eyes and forehead. Again, Bayside Skin & Laser is my salon of choice. Make sure you entirely trust the clinician you go to (word of mouth counts!)


Skin Needling

I have only had one treatment and so I can't vouch for it being a long-term effective treatment as the recommendation is to have around 6 treatments minimum over a series of months. I'd be more than happy to continue to try this and it has been highly recommended for treatment of acne scarring or pigmentation (or both!). There are also now some tools for at-home use but ultimately, the salon experience will always be conducted by a trained professional and when it comes to needles and your face, consider the approach you want to take.
I went to Claire Francoise in Prahran. I have also had a professional full body tan at Claire Francoise and it was the best one I've ever had - totally natural, dark, non-sticky and fast developing.

If you have experienced a treatment that changed your skin or stopped the clock at 35, tell me. Go on. I'll be on Facebook and Instagram awaiting!

xCat




Blonde - the magazine

I'm in the midst of my blonde ombre transformation via hairdresser extraordinaire, Mariah at Hairhouse Warehouse. My barre and yoga classes have been lucky enough to see the various stages of yellowness on the way to being a clean blonde. I'm definitely keeping my dark roots though - this is how this look becomes sustainable without constant bleaching and maintenance. Even when my hair has grown out in a few years, I'll still have super light ends. To maintain, lots of hair masks and definitely use a purple-based shampoo and conditioner (Redken Blonde Idol) to avoid brassiness from pollution and tap water. I imagined up the magazine I'd want to read for inspo. What do you think? Could it be the new Vogue?
platinum blonde ombre
platinum blonde ombre
platinum blonde ombre

Yoga, Plant Based Eating and Natural Balinese Beauty in Ubud

Plant Based Eating
Plant Based Eating Ubud Bali

On this, my second visit to Ubud in the past five years, I was told over and over again by friends and strangers that I must visit Moksa if I loved raw food. Or even if I didn't know I loved it. 
On their recommendations and with a fierce curiosity, I trekked up Penestanan past Y Resort towards the rice fields and Moksa's incredible permaculture garden and restaurant. I was not disappointed!
Chef Made is a genius, and I don't bestow this claim lightly. I was fortunate to see him at work in the kitchen and when I asked for the recipe for my favourite dish (avocado enchiladas in pumpkin wraps), he sent me the recipe that very evening!
Moksa was founded by Janur and Made after they had worked together at a five-star resort serving raw food in Ubud. With dreams of running their own sustainable farm/cooking school and restaurant, Moksa was the stunning result.
The menu changes seasonally and the space easily accommodates single diners, families, romantic dates and group dinners. With wi-fi and candlelit tables at night, it's not to be missed. Cannot recommend those avocado enchiladas enough. Even if you don't know the slightest thing about raw food, nor plant based food, this is flavourful, decadent food at seriously affordable prices. There's a cookbook coming out this year and I'm hungrily awaiting it. 
Check out their Facebook page for updates and events. Highly recommend enrolling in a class with Chef Made. 

Natural Balinese Beauty
Utama Spice Ubud Bali

There can be no better marketing for Utama Spice than Ria Templer. Her mother began Utama Spice in the 1970s after she had determinedly raised her children and family with traditional Balinese practices regarding natural solutions to skin, health and wellbeing. Using recipes, herbs, spices, fruits and plants to create tailored treatments, it
Utama Spice beauty Bali
wasn't long before her skills and talents spread from friends, family and local community to reach international interest. Soon, she was providing natural, organic skin and body treatments to five-star spas and hotels. Utama Spice provided her with her own business and freedom to create products she knew were essential to wellbeing under her own label. Importantly, Utama Spice employed local women at a time when it as traditional for the man of the house to be the breadwinner and women to stay at home. The business has a renewed vigour and strategy under the loving management of Ria and her partner now. Still producing the highly popular Bug Spray, they also do face, hair and body scrubs, washes and serums. I made my own lemongrass, ginger and bergamot scent and can also vouch the Yoga Spray is THE BEST. I recommend visiting the store but you can also find the products at Yoga Barn, Bali Buda and other quality yoga, organic and natural produce venues around Ubud. 
Go to the Utama Spice website for stockists, story and product info.

Yoga
Yoga Barn Bali

Yoga Barn runs yoga and lifestyle classes throughout the day, every day. The Ecstatic Dance evening has a queue for hours before it begins so if you are inclined to truly get your yoga groove on, get there early! I was fortunate to try Vinyasa Flow with fabulous Nadine and also a really creative, flowy and strong Vinyasa Flow with Murni.
The OMG? OMG! I'll be borrowing that one for my own classes.
I also tried classes I never normally would have if not for the fact I was at a loose end and it was a convenient time. Shamanic Healing which honestly, I wouldn't recommend with the teacher who I experienced BUT still an interesting experience and certainly you meet a lot of international yogis and wellness warriors so that's worth the entry price and more.
I also did Iyengar Yoga with Christine who studied under the late, great Iyengar himself. She is a complete treasure chest of knowledge on the body and yoga. The concept of movement that focuses on joint integrity and health with the AID of muscles rather than a muscular focus really got me thinking about where to place the focus and intention when moving and teaching. Recommend you try this long-time Ubud venue before trekking elsewhere. And Denise Payne is unmissable. Make sure you get to her Yin and Power Yoga. All teachers listed here.




Goodness From Goop : Gwyneth, Guts, and Clean Beauty


Look, let's not live in dreamland. Goop has gotten a lot of hate over its lifetime and I am the most sceptical of all about celebrities touting wellness brands and books. In fact, I believe there are several lines across my forehead that are totally down to grimacing with every new celebrity "how to be well" glossy hardback. BUT.

But.
Goop Clean Beauty (Hachette Australia, Hardback RRP $45; eBook RRP $19.99) really is full of good, substantive advice and knowledge. Gwyneth hasn't written some "drink juice for 20 days, do yoga and you'll look like me!" style tome. Thank goodness. It's actually wry, real and it asks the leading experts in the fields of dermatology, dietetics and digestive health, fitness training, yoga and beauty manufacturing for their opinions and real life advice. Of course, the photos are fabulous. It's a good looking book, but let's face it, you don't buy a book on beauty if you don't value good looks, right?

What I also love about this book is that it doesn't have a holier-than-thou approach to all aspects of beauty. We all want to look and feel as great as we can. That means we can eat an abundance of organic foods and use only all-natural beauty products but we can also accept that age inevitably means a loss of fullness and wrinkles. Some people embrace this fully and accept it. Some of us think we wouldn't mind using the beauty of science and technology to do some plumping and freezing IN MODERATION for a natural lifting effect. The book goes through these options - including Botox, fillers, thread lifts, plasma and stem cell injections and so on. There is a no-judgement approach. I like that. There is an emphasis on being careful in selecting a practitioner and in starting small and maintaining your natural appearance only improved rather than going for a dramatic overhaul. Wise.
gwyneth paltrow tracy anderson

Here's some quick, simple "I Can Do That!" inspiration from the editors of goop.

A detox of your life does not mean you need to rule out everything that gives you some joy. It is not an abstinence regime that is only bearable for a week before you throw yourself into a weeping, wailing despair that can only be healed with organic dark chocolate and cacao smoothies. A detox rules out the most likely culprits for inflammation of the gut - which is most likely the origin of other health and beauty concerns from acne to mood swings to poor sleep, bloating, sensitive sinuses and hair thinning or loss. Here are the rules of Clean Eating according to Dr Alejandro Junger and it is recommended you follow for at least 10 days. After that time, try introducing what you really want to back to your life gradually to see if it may be the cause of mood, skin, hair or digestive problems.

No alcohol
No caffeine
No dairy
No eggs
No beef or pork
No raw fish or shellfish
No gluten
No soy
No nightshades (potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers/capsicum)
No strawberries, oranges, grapefruits, grapes or bananas
No corn
No white rice
No added sugar
No peanuts (all other nuts totally fine!)
No processed oils or butters (stick to nut-based oils and coconut oil)

Before you have a breakdown thinking you'll need to eat apples and kale for 10 days, there's pages and pages of delicious breakfast, lunch and dinner meals and they are all simple, doable and delish.

After you've committed to 10 days minimum of avoiding common inflammatory foods, here's some of the other recommended detox tips and consider this, the body DOES have natural detoxifying tools in the liver and kidney but any way you can optimise their functioning and decrease the amount of pollution internally and externally, the greater energy your body can devote to absorbing the good nutrients you're filling it with and to fuelling your brain, skin, muscles, hair and nervous system. Nobody is toxin free - it's a matter of how well we can manage our own system of detoxifying to feel, look and live as purely and well as possible.

Sweat.
Yup, get yourself into an infrared sauna and sweat it out. This is a highly effective means of sweating out heavy metals as well as providing benefits in alleviating arthritis, musculoskeletal ailments and increasing endorphins (feel good hormones). Wheher it's 10 or 30 minutes, try to get into a regular practice. A regular sauna will do.

Exercise.
Moving fluid through the lymphatic system supports the immune system by filtering out toxins and avoiding retention and lethargy. Exercise also boosts happy hormones, enables us to challenge ourselves physically and mentally, provides an opportunity to do something healthy and fun with people we know or to make new friends. Weight-bearing exercise also builds bones, muscle and enables our bodies o function healthier well into old age.

Meditate.
Calm the mind. Bring yourself into the present. Find a sense of peace that isn't dependent on anyone or anything external.

Get On A Foam Roller.
Get your fascia flexible. Many instructors and personal trainers I know swear by the foam roller as a regular part of their fitness routine. Sure, it can be deeply uncomfortable, especially if you have a tendency towards really tight muscles or you rarely stretch. It's entirely worth it. It is vital to stretch, lengthen and release tightness in the muscles to avoid that tension becoming habitual or loading the joints because the muscles that should be doing the work are too fatigued, overworked or dysfunctional to do their job. Hit up google and youtube - there's loads of guidance online as to how to use a roller.

Sleep.
Everyone knows this - just as you have a routine for beauty, fitness, travelling to and from work daily, so you must have a routine for sleep. Switch off social media at least an hour before bed and if you are panicking over something, write it down and know you can deal with it in the morning.

Try Yoga Nidra.
"Psychic sleep" is an ancient practice that deeply restores, relaxes and rejuvenates the body. It is a guided relaxation wherein you don't actually sleep as the mind is still active, but the body completely melts into blissful quiet. Try downloading Kirit Thacker, head of yoga at Ananda Ayurvedic spa in India.
Also try Elena Brouwer's 10 minute version from Yoga Journal.


Digestion: What We Can Take From Paleo, Raw Food, Vegan and Plant Based approach to eating

From the outset, let me make clear that I don't follow any food regimen strictly and zealously nor do I advocate a restrictive approach to eating, movement or living at all.

I believe - as I hope you will - that each of us needs to make choices that align with our values, our beliefs, our needs and our enjoyment and engagement with life. That means that your approach will likely differ over time and I've known many people who go from meat eaters to vegetarians and have periods of returning to seafood or meat if they feel their nutritional needs aren't being met sufficiently without it, or just because they want it and choose it.

It's not for any of us to say what is right and wrong for anyone else - so this post is not advocating a dietary approach, rather it is looking at the importance of gut health to quality of life and the ideas and lessons we can take from each of these approaches and consider when preparing and sharing meals.

I've been reading The Complete Gut Health Cookbook by Pete Evans and naturopath, Helen Padarin. While the book does strongly follow paleo guidelines to eating, there is a recurring reminder that these are suggestions and not a strict advocacy of one way to eat or live. Regardless of your preconceived ideas around Pete, his genuine desire to share a love of eating well and with awareness of how food affects overall health is contagiously joyful.

The consistent message across paleo, vegan, raw food and plant based eating is that food is more than simply calories and fuel. Food has medicinal and spiritual value. Choosing to eat to truly nourish rather than just to curb the appetite reflects a greater commitment: choosing to live in a way that nourishes our selves and those around us.

However, back to the gut.
gut health foods

Many diseases and lifestyle-based illness including diabetes type 2, angina, leaky gut, obesity and metabolic syndrome are the result of eating diets high in processed foods, lacking in vital micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, enzymes) and the approach to eating food on the run, with little consideration for how important it is to sit down, savour and enjoy food as part of feeling genuinely satiated, nourished and allowing food to digest without the impediment of stress hormones creating a maelstrom of poor digestive consequences: bloating, indigestion, leaky gut, constipation etc.

There's much research to show that gut health is intrinsically connected to brain health and the strength of the immune system and all other systems of the body. When you get a moment, have a look at this TED talk: Food for thought: How your belly controls your brain.



Gut flora is a term that refers to the environment of bacteria within the gut which is highly sensitive to foods, environment, stress and overall fitness and health. The healthier and richer our gut flora, the more energy we have, the greater absorption of nutrients from food and the greater ability to CREATE nutrients. It also feeds the immune system, fending off disease and allergic responses as well as maintaining a fit metabolism and regulating weight.

The most common and preventable factors that damage gut flora are continual use of NSAIDs (ibuprofen, over-the-counter and prescription pain killers and anti inflammatories), chemicals found in processed foods and commonly used in agriculture, household cleaners and beauty products, preservatives and food colourings and flavours, excess fructose and simple carbohydrate consumption, chronic stress and lack of sleep and routine sleep and meal times.

Raw food - food not heated above 36 degrees - contains the richest source of nutrients and enzymes. These enzymes allow for foods to be digested without requiring the body to use up its own enzymes in trying to break down foods and extract micronutrients during the digestive process. With sufficient quantity and diversity of raw vegetables and plant-based foods (nuts, legumes, etc), these simple protein chains create complex chains of proteins that fuel the body adequately and ideally. It is common for vegans to be deficient in iron and B12 though and in these situations, it may be wise to supplement with the recommended daily dosage or with the assistance and advice of a nutritionist, dietitian or medical practitioner.
gut health

Here's the essential spices to start including in your meals to boost gut health

Turmeric
Cinnamon
Ginger
Fennel
Cumin
Coriander
Peppermint
Chilli
superfoods


Here's the essential prebiotic & probiotic foods to include in your weekly meals (bitter and fermented foods are superpowered gut medicine, don't be afraid to try them)


Dandelion Greens
Jerusalem Artichoke
Leeks
Asparagus
Garlic
Onions
Bananas
Apples
Walnuts 
Almonds
Cacao
Flaxseeds
Kelp & Seaweed
Bananas
Pickled ginger
Quinoa
Miso


Beauty & A Tan That Doesn't Cost The Earth

natural beauty cruelty free

The skin is actually one of the largest organs of the body. We often think of heart, kidneys, liver when we think of organs of the body, but actually the skin is a living, functioning organ that absorbs elements of the environment and especially, the products we put on it.

This is why it's so important to choose carefully what you apply when it comes to skincare, shower gels, cleaning agents, hair products and if you're sensitive, laundry products too.

Many cheap and chemical based beauty and skincare products rely on parabens as a cheap, easy preservative to extend the life of products on shelf. Parabens are entirely man-made and synthetic.
butterfly tattoo
They mimic hormones within the body and once absorbed into the skin, can change and warp the natural balance of hormones within the body. The short and long term effect of this has not been thoroughly researched but since hormones rule everything from mood, fertility, appetite, appearance, sleep and immune system, it would pay to be careful with the endocrine system. 
Natural products often opt for ingredients like grapeseed oil as a natural preservative. Pay attention to the ingredients list and there are quite a number of great books out on natural beauty that explain ingredients and what to avoid in common household and body products.

Another excellent reason to opt for natural ingredients in your skincare is to be earth friendly. Less chemicals produced and manufactured into skincare and beauty products means less toxic products released into the waterways, air and earth before, during production and after use.
nutrimetics vegan beauty

Here are some of the products I've discovered recently that align with my goal to use primarily organic, natural and eco-friendly, skin friendly beauty and body products. Nutrimetics makes a whole range of targeted skincare as well as body care from shower gels to deodorant and makeup. I've been using and loving their Black Cherry Shower Gel, Honey and Almond Scrub for face, and the super nourishing apricot based Nutri-Rich Oil


Ink Nurse is a Melbourne-made tattoo healing cream that is just as vital for your freshly done work as it is for years' old work that you want to keep fresh after a bit too much time exposed to the sun. It uses all natural products and is vegan friendly and no parabens. As they say themselves, "A badass, ethical, cruelty-free, product that no one else compares to when it comes to tattoo skin care." True! Hoping to see it at more Melbourne studios.
eco tan natural tanning

Eco Tan is an organically certified, skin loving and naturally derived tanning range that has won awards for its face and body products. As someone who lives in Lycra and doesn't tan naturally, I'm all about the tan in a bottle! Just as with Ink Nurse and Nutrimetics, Eco Tan is fully organic and vegan. Their Eco Tan Face Tan Water is the best facial tanning product I've ever used and I've used plenty of tanning brands over the past 15 years. No nasty smell and the colour of both face and body (my choice is Cacao Firming Mousse) are totally believable: deep enough to look like you've been sunning on St Kilda beach but not so deep it looks like you fell asleep there all day.



February Gym Bag Loves - The Style, Beauty & Body Gear For Now

fitness fashion beauty body
Hello February!
Exactly a month in my new beachside abode and I've still got so much to explore locally. It's been a struggle trying to build more classes into my schedule but (apart from a few hair-pulling, nail biting evenings of angst) I'm feeling hopeful of making this happen. My other goal is to increase my freelance writing and collaborative work. I'd also really love to schedule some more workshops and encourage people to come together locally to share food, stories, inspirations and ideas about life and living it well, fit and joyfully.
hair body fitness body beauty lululemon

There's a bit of a theme going on with my February gym bag - it must be living so close to the salty air! It's...being naked. Now wait! Don't go pulling your top off and risking mega fines just for the sake of solidarity!
Phew.
lululemon naked align pants

It's naked in regards to an approach to ingredients and elements. The Naked Dry Shampoo from Herbal Essences has none of the nasty chemicals usually associated with both dry shampoos and aerosols generally. It took me a while to get on the dry shampoo bandwagon but as someone who gets oily roots within a day of washing, it prevents overdoing it on the shampooing OR walking around with nasty oilslick hair. Important.
Try the whole Naked range - I'm all about the Naked Volume Shampoo and Conditioner.
The Naked lululemon Align Pants II are designed with no ruffles, frills and bows, literally. They are ideal for wearing independently or pairing up with your favourite booty shorts, jogging shorts, slouchy shirt or T, or even going out in your best 90s style with a pair of ripped denim shorts (man, I LOVED that look at the time.)

It's also a mindset I encourage you to adopt in February.
Get naked.
Strip off all the history. Strip off yesterday. Strip off the labels that have been placed on you, or that you've placed on yourself. Daughter, wife, mother, teacher, Australian, American, Young, Old, Friendly, Rude, Determined, Lazy, Fit, Flexible, Friend, Foe.

This is not to dismiss everything that you are, but to recognise that beneath and beyond all these labels and these ideas you develop about your life, you are so much more than that. Come back to your roots. Your heart beats, your lungs pump air, you exist from one micro-moment to the next in a world where we are all so vulnerable. This is quite wonderful - and it doesn't depend at all on any labels you put on yourself or what you own or what you do.

Once you've had a little smile to yourself, ensure that you hold onto these sunbeams of joy in your very core so that they radiate out through your pores and make your face glow with the beauty of being alive and appreciative of it. Then pack your gym bag and get out there. The gym bag featured in above image is the Lululemon Urban Warrior Duffle Bag. Yes, you can attach your yoga mat.

Post showering, keep the fresh scents lasting all day by applying my absolute, all time favourite body moisturiser, Laura Mercier Souffle. There's a few delicious choices but I'm in love with almond and coconut (it gets SO many compliments!) or pistachio. YUM.

How Your Eating Affects Skin and Physical Signs of Ageing

The typical Western approach to exercise and eating is geared towards a More Is More approach - but unfortunately, not more joyful, more mindful, more considered and more strategic. Just More. However, well intentioned as your ambitions to run a full marathon, train for 4 hours a day, eat a gluten free, dairy free, carb free diet and exfoliate three times a day, you may win medals but you could also be asking to look like a mouldy prune by 40.


What best benefits your body and mind is some perspective. 
You have a functioning, well body. You have the intelligence and awareness to be seeking and open to information on how to move and fuel it. Everything begins and ends with that desire to be well. Consider that everything you do must stem from the intention to look after your body because you love it and want it to function, look, feel and BE fit and well throughout your whole life.

A restrictive diet can result in bone loss, nutritional deficiency and an onset of physical signs of ageing and illness.

The vegan diet in particular can be short on protein, iron, B12 and calcium if these nutrients aren't knowingly enhanced in dietary choices. Similarly, if you are genuinely allergic to foods, it is vital to have your levels of iron, calcium, vitamins B & D and iron measured. It would also be worth seeing a nutritionist or dietitian who can advise on dietary sources of essential nutrients based on your age, lifestyle, level of fitness and your goals (whether that's running a marathon, travelling the world, having a child or addressing particular symptoms).

Consider also that combining particular foods can enhance their nutritional power. Many vitamins are fat soluble, including A, D, E and K. Even a drizzle of coconut oil, a handful of nuts or some avocado in your salad will immediately boost the value of these nutrients in your veggie intake. Iron and vitamin C are known partners (a little citrus addition to your spinach in the form of lemon juice or sliced up oranges in your salad...)

My pick for Australian Certified Organic, all natural, tasty coconut oil is The Whole Foodies. Coconut oil not only adds island fresh flavour to salads and sauces, but is ideal for frying, roasting and ALSO as a beauty tonic. Comb it through the hair for an instant mask, or apply it as a moisturising balm to the skin.

Plant-based healthy fats are an excellent addition to your diet for more than vitamin and nutrient absorption. They take longer to digest than carbs and protein and therefore act to fulfil the appetite and regulate hormones such as insulin, ghrelin and leptin which - when imbalanced - can fuel hunger and cravings whether you require fuel or not. Go for avocado, coconut, olive oil, nuts, seeds, milk and yoghurt (obviously not fat-free versions!)

Adequate calcium prevents the face and body from ageing signs.

A lack of calcium can show up in weakened and vulnerable bones. This doesn't just result in the dreaded "hunchback" appearance of osteoporosis and osteoarthritis at its most potent. Consider that the face is a thin layer of skin over...bone.
If the bones are weak and deteriorating, this impacts the cartilage in the nose, eye sockets, chin and forehead. Weak bones leads to an early onset of shrinkage of the bones, wrinkles, a concave effect on the forehead and no amount of fillers and botox will disguise a lack of good nutrition and genuine glowing health. Protect and feed the scaffolding so that you glow for your whole mortal life. If you don't do dairy, consider another calcium rich source of milk such as soy and almond. Check the level of calcium as not all "milk" products are calcium-rich. Don't even bother with rice and oat milk if calcium is your concern.

One major calcium secret for vegans and foodies? Unhulled tahini! It contains four times the amount of calcium in full fat cow's milk. My pick is the organic unhulled tahini from Aussie brand The Whole Foodies which is Australian Certified Organic, paleo, gluten free and 100% vegan.

Facial Wrinkles Linked to Bone Density (WebMD)
Calcium In The Vegan Diet (The Vegetarian Resource Group)

Adrenalin-fuelled exercise leeches calcium from the bones. Extended cardio - from cycling, running, climbing or whatever you may be doing - as well as caffeine and stress are all sources of calcium robbery from your body. While you can ensure a higher intake of calcium through diet, it is also worth replacing some of the cardio-based exercise you do with weight-bearing exercise that builds bone strength (this can be weight-lifting or reformer pilates, circuit training or BodyPump).


Probiotics and Prebiotics for a healthy immune and digestive system

A happy belly is related to more stable mood and appetite, having positive benefits for sleep, relationships, energy for exercise and just living generally.
A healthy gut and immune system are also the basis for healthy skin. The process of shedding the outermost layer of the dermis and allowing new skin to be revealed that is radiant and well nourished depends on a healthy diet, stress management, balanced hormones and adequate sleep. Fuel your healthiest gut with pre- and probiotics found in kombucha, miso, tofu, yoghurt and kefir.

I've been delighted by Adam Liaw's recent book of recipes that embrace fresh, seasonal produce in creative and flavour loaded combinations. Here's a recipe for Sushi Sandwiches - they look so fancy and yet they're so easy to make! The Zen Kitchen by Adam Liaw is published by Hachette Australia ($49.99).

SUSHI SANDWICHES
おにぎらず
SERVES 1, BUT MAKE AS MANY AS YOU LIKE PREPARATION TIME 10 MINS COOKING TIME 0 MINS

INGREDIENTS
1 cup cooked rice per sandwich
1 sheet nori per sandwich
Your favourite sandwich
or sushi fillings (some
suggestions below)

METHOD
1 Place a sheet of nori on a piece of plastic wrap on a cutting
board with the shiny side facing down. Spread ½ cup rice in a
10cm square at 45° to the nori. Top the rice square with your
choice of filling and cover with the remaining ½ cup rice.
2 Fold the corners of the nori sheet into the centre to create
a square with the filling inside. Gather the plastic wrap around
the sandwich and leave wrapped for at least 10 minutes for the
seaweed to soften and stick to the rice. This will help hold the
sandwich together. Use a sharp knife moistened with a little cold
water to slice through the centre of the sandwich to reveal the
filling, and serve.
SOME FILLINGS WE LIKE INCLUDE
Prawn and avocado
Ham, cheese and tomato
Teriyaki chicken and green beans
Salmon, salmon roe, egg and lettuce.

Just like the rice balls, don’t keep these sandwiches in the fridge.
Eat them straight away or pack them in plastic wrap or foil at room

temperature to eat later

Stress Relieving Practices regulate hormones, increase energy and counter a busy lifestyle.

Many people claim their yoga practice is their stress relief. I understand - but it is really only effective if the style, environment, accessibility and cost are all feeding into your practice being a stress relief rather than a source of agitation.

If you feel that doing class is a chore rather than a joy, or you are pushing yourself to do a vigorous and athletic form of yoga when everything else you do is busy, competitive, adrenalin-fuelled and physical then it's hard to imagine this practice is genuinely stress relief for your body and mind.
This is not to say you shouldn't do this type of practice - only that you may also benefit from including other types of yoga practice such as yin yoga, restorative, iyengar, slow flow or pure meditation and pranayama practice.

Other forms of moving meditation that attune your mind, body and spirit and create a sense of peace that you carry beyond the practice itself and into your daily life include anything outdoors - surfing, walking through parks, beach and gardens, tai chi, swimming and sailing.

Use Good Quality Skincare. Incorporate It Into Your Stress Relief Practices.

I don't mean apply your avocado and coconut face mask and get into a headstand, although I am partial to applying my face mask and...getting into a headstand. Because, why not?

Make skincare part of a routine and ritual that calms and grounds you daily. I always wash my face as soon as I get up - it's my wake up call. I wash off my day when I get home too. If I'm in need of some down-time, I slather on a face mask, crack open a book and sit on my balcony to allow the wind and elements to soothe me. A streaming reggae playlist also helps.

My latest discovery is Bobbi Brown for skincare - as a long time fan of her makeup and Bobbi as an entrepreneur and force of good in the world of beauty, skincare and women in business, I am not surprised (but still thrilled) her skincare is worthy of devotion and dollars too.
Try her Coral Grass & Green Algae Skin Nourish Mask


I'm also big on peels but nothing too harsh because being violent with the skin only inflames the blemishes or ageing signs. Rather, do a weekly at-home glycolic peel.  Try cult beauty brand StriVectin LABS 5-Minute Glycolic Peel.





Holiday Gift Guide for Wellness, Fitness and Beauty Addicts

Who doesn't have that last minute panic of What On EARTH Do I Give Jane, Rosie, Steph...etc? Here's the simple, straightforward guide to what's out there that makes a great gift for the wellness oriented pals in your life.

Bobbi Brown Wine & Chocolate Nail & Palettes

It used to be very much that makeup and beauty and supplements were all about what you don't have, what you want to conceal, what you are deeply lacking and need to spend all your hard earned moolah on to ensure you are fulfilled.

In fact, many brands and media still push this idea.

Thankfully, there are some brands out there with a message that is really positive. Sure, they're still selling you things, but there is not that toxic message that you need this because you are inherently lacking and this is the answer.


The latest collection is Wine & Chocolate. Divine, of course! A full range of eyeshadows, lipsticks, blush and to-die-for nail hues in beige, crimson, grape, chocolate and ballet pink. I'm obsessed with nail polish in Chocolate and brightening blush in Pink Truffle.

Onzie Activewear

Made in LA by yoga devotees FOR yoga devotees. I have Onzie leggings and capris that I still wear daily after 5 years and they look exactly as they did when I first wore them. These aren't 3-wears-and-a-wash style activewear that quickly gets consigned to the donation bin. 
There's an all new collection just out for men and women - that's right! Onzie has a men's range and a children's range so you could dress your family, friends and workmates in matching outfits.

My hopes are entirely pinned on those leopard shaper leggings. A burgundy open back hoodie? I wouldn't say no, Santa.

philosophy Fragrance

Every year, philosophy releases limited edition Christmas bath and body goodies which are beautiful to look at and divine to smell. The tried and true longstanding favourite of mine and many others is amazing grace. The box features the philosophy behind the name and the fragrance and on opening, there's a little message: "believe in miracles".
I love being reminded of this each time I go to spritz it on and I do think to myself - be amazingly graceful!



House of Matcha tea

What an awesome discovery THIS has been! House of Matcha does high-grade matcha green tea. It is neon, kryponite coloured and the special set comes with a whisk, bowl and an easy-to-follow set of instructions for preparing your matcha. The preparation is key.
The limited edition gift set is the perfect present for the dedicated matcha lover or your friend, mother, daughter, husband who is all about wellness but hasn't discovered the deep joy of matcha green tea powder. I drink it as a tea and also use the powder as a seasoning for fish and vegetable dishes. I've also seen it used to flavour smoothies and chia seed pudding. Get creative! As they say, "800 years of Japanese practice and perfection" is pretty reliable.


Scents for Your Studio, Your Body and Your Yoga Mat


Don't underestimate the power of the senses in affecting your daily life.

Sometimes it just takes a new soap or rose-scented facial cleanser to pep up the morning and start everything off right. Herewith, my favourite scents for my home, the studio environment, my yoga mat and my limbs.

Home & Studio

Living in an apartment, I have the luxury of knowing a candle or a diffuser will travel. This means, however, that if I pick the wrong scent, I'm stuck with it in every room. So! I am very careful. If you are in a studio environment, you don't want to be overwhelmed by scent nor offended. I find incense really makes me feel congested and claustrophobic and I have avoided going to yoga classes where I know the instructor will be burning it before and during class.
At home, I use MOR Neroli and Clementine diffuser. The beauty of this is that it takes no thought or maintenance. I just set up the diffuser initially and leave it. This is unlike candles where you need to light them and remember not to leave the house while they're still burning.
Neroli and Clementine is citrus fresh but subtle and just leaves a zesty, slightly Mediterranean fragrance lingering.

Body 

There's nothing worse than trying to get your weights workout on when the person next to you is either:
a) not wearing deodorant at all; or
b) wearing a powerful aftershave/perfume/anti-perspirant

Be authentic. Wear a fragrance that reflects your personality, your mood and your style but also be aware that you don't need to intoxicate the people around you. The gym or the yoga studio is not the place for Dior Poison, people.
I love The Body Shop Pink Grapefruit Body Mist because it's fresh, it's subtle and it reminds me of beaches, fresh grapefruit juice, island time and has just enough sweetness to balance the citrus zing. Plus there's no nasty additives and it's ethically produced, you can be sure.



Yoga Mat 



Four Thieves is a combination of organic oils that are designed to not only purify and cleanse, but to uplift the senses and transport you. I use this to cleanse my mat before and after practicing and it has the beautiful, sage-based scent that reminds me of Bali and jungles, beaches, wild nature and beauty. Try Melbourne yoga teacher Amanda's blend - made locally for yogis! Four Thieves by Ananda Aromamist.

Head & Shoulders: Dandruff Causes and Treatment

Just like drinking milk from the carton or wearing your pyjama pants to the supermarket, dandruff is one of those things we just don’t like to fess up to. Fortunately, aisles full of treatments and targeted products suggest it’s a common malaise though!
In working at gyms, studios and various locations where I put my hands all over weights, yoga mats, fitness equipment of all descriptions and so on, I know I’m coming into contact with all sorts of possible allergens, sweat, body oils and bacteria. This is going to be something many people face in their daily life – whether through work or leisure choices. This relentless bacteria onslaught can put the immune system under stress to battle and react daily. Ultimately, an imbalanced and exhausted immune system will start sending signals that it’s struggling. A sensitised, itchy and dandruff-prone scalp is one of those warning signs.

Ultimately, you must take a holistic approach to ensure that any treatment is long-lasting. That means identifying ways you can strengthen your immune system with lifestyle choices as well as topical treatments (targeted shampoo and conditioner). From the foods you eat, to the amount and quality of sleep you get, to your exercise and creative endeavours... choose an approach that makes you FEEL good so that your body has the energy and the strength to function optimally.
Getting plenty of vitamin rich veggies and fruit, protein-rich grains, pulses, milk, eggs and fish are excellent ways to bolster energy. Don’t rule out any food group unless you have a legitimate allergy. Avoid ruling out whole food groups and remember also that the way you FEEL about what you’re eating affects the way you digest. So if you’re going to eat half a pack of Tim Tams, EMBRACE the chocolate goodness and do it with joy.
I’ve tried a few dandruff treatment shampoos and conditioners and found that many of them are really harsh and leave my hair super dry. Thankfully, Head & Shoulders has a new (very budget-friendly!) range out that is designed for everyday use so much gentler on the scalp and hair. This is down to a pH formula that is effective in treating dandruff deep in the roots without upsetting the natural balance of oils. Head & Shoulders Clean & Balanced 3ActionFormula Shampoo and Conditioner is my secret weapon and  as a dark-haired damsel, I am in need of all the fortification I can get!
I was revisiting some articles I contributed to on yoga for beauty and health on BeautyHeaven and came across the recommendation for Head & Shoulders. You can read reviews on their site.

Post sponsored by Head & Shoulders. Product genuinely used, reviewed and promoted with integrity.