I’m embarrassed to blog about beauty and not be super knowledgeable about non-toxic beauty. Yikes! It is something that I care about and try to pay attention to when I shop for all products, actually, but there is a difference between non-toxic and cruelty free, for example.

I’m proud to say that all of the beauty products I currently use and shop for are cruelty free, meaning that no animals were tested on during the manufacturing process.

But non-toxic beauty is another ballgame. And I’ve been on auto-pilot when it comes to buying beauty products because it’s what’s mainstream, unfortunately. Looking at ingredients when buying food is one thing, but beauty products? I rarely did this until very recently.

I knew that some of the items in my stash were potentially hazardous…and to put things into perspective, the E.U. has banned around 1400 ingredients from personal care products, and the U.S. has banned a measly 30). The logic of combining NARS Blush (which I have not repurchased since they started testing on animals) with my non-toxic foundation just didn’t make sense.

I am now slowly but surely adding in staple beauty products to replace the toxic ones.

Before we get into my favorite non-toxic beauty staples, here are the 10 most commonly used ingredients to avoid:

Parabens: Parabens are widely used preservatives that prevent the growth of bacteria, mold and yeast in cosmetic products. Sounds good, right? Not so fast, they do more than that. Parabens possess estrogen-mimicking properties that are associated with increased risk of breast cancer. These chemicals are absorbed through the skin and have been identified in biopsy samples from breast tumors. They can be found in makeup, body washes, deodorants, shampoos and facial cleansers. You can also find them in food and pharmaceutical products. {Source}

Synthetic colors. If you take a look at your product label and notice FD&C or D&C, they represent artificial colors. F — representing food and D&C representing drug and cosmetics. These letters precede a color and number (e.g., D&C Red 27 or FD&C blue 1). These synthetic colors are derived from petroleum or coal tar sources. Synthetic colors are suspected to be a human carcinogen, a skin irritant and are linked to ADHD in children. The European Classification and Labeling considers it a human carcinogen and the European Union has banned it. {Source}

Fragrance. This particular category is pretty scary, because what does “fragrance” mean anyway? This term was created to protect a company’s “secret formula.” But as the consumer you could be putting on a concoction that contains tons of chemicals that are hazardous to your health. Fragrance mixes have been associated with allergies, dermatitis, respiratory distress and potential effects on the reproductive system. It can be found in many products such as perfume, cologne, conditioner, shampoo, body wash and moisturizers. {Source}

Phthalates. A group of chemicals used in hundreds of products to increase the flexibility and softness of plastics. The main phthalates in cosmetics and personal care products are dibutyl phthalate in nail polish, diethyl phthalate in perfumes and lotions, and dimethyl phthalate in hair spray. They are known to be endocrine disruptors and have been linked to increased risk of breast cancer, early breast development in girls, and reproductive birth defects in males and females. Unfortunately, it is not disclosed on every product as it’s added to fragrances (remember the “secret formula” not listed), a major loophole in the law. They can be found in deodorants, perfumes/colognes, hair sprays and moisturizers. {Source}

Triclosan. Tricolson is widely used antimicrobial chemical that’s a known endocrine disruptor — especially thyroid and reproductive hormones, and a skin irritant. Studies raise concerns that triclosan contributes to making bacteria antibiotic-resistant. There also wasn’t enough supporting evidence that washing with antibacterial soaps containing triclosan provides any benefit over washing with regular soap and water. Tricolson can be found in toothpastes, antibacterial soaps and deodorants. {Source}

Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) / Sodium laureth sulfate (SLES). This surfactant can be found in more than 90 percent of personal care and cleaning products (think foaming products). SLS’s are known to be skin, lung, and eye irritants. A major concern about SLS is its potential to interact and combine with other chemicals to form nitrosamines, a carcinogen. These combinations can lead to a host of other issues like kidney and respiratory damage. They can be found in shampoo, body wash/cleanser, mascara and acne treatment. {Source}

Formaldehyde. Formaldehyde and formaldehyde-releasing preservatives (FRP’s) preservatives are used in many cosmetic products to help prevent bacteria growth. This chemical was deemed as a human carcinogen by The International Agency for Research on Carcinogens (IARC) and has been linked to occupational related cancers: nasal and nasopharyngeal. It is known to cause allergic skin reactions and it may also be harmful to the immune system. It can be found in nail polish, body washes, conditioners, shampoos, cleansers, eye shadows, nail polish treatments. {Source}

Toluene. A petrochemical derived from petroleum or coal tar sources. You may see it on labels listed as benzene, toluol, phenylmethane, methylbenzene. Toluene is a potent solvent able to dissolve paint and paint thinner. It can affect your respiratory system, cause nausea and irritate your skin. Expecting mothers should avoid exposure to toluene vapors as it may cause developmental damage in the fetus. Toluene has also been linked to immune system toxicity. It can be found in nail polish, nail treatments and hair color/bleaching products. {Source}

Propylene glycol. Propylene glycol is a small organic alcohol commonly used as a skin-conditioning agent. It’s classified as a skin irritant and penetrator. It has been associated with causing dermatitis as well as hives in humans — these sensitization effects can be manifested at propylene glycol concentrations as low as 2 percent. It can be found in moisturizers, sunscreen, makeup products, conditioners, shampoo and hair sprays. {Source}

Sunscreen chemicals. These chemicals function as a sunscreen agent, to absorb ultraviolet light. These chemicals are endocrine disruptors and are believed to be easily absorbed into the body. They may also cause cellular damage and cancer in the body. Common names are benzophenone, PABA, avobenzone, homosalate and ethoxycinnmate. They can be found in sunscreen products. {Source}

SCARY SHIT, RIGHT?!

♡ FACIAL OIL

ACURE MARULA OIL

If I had to choose one oil and only one to use on my face everyday, morning and night, I’d choose Marula oil. Acure’s Marula oil is rich in proteins and omega fatty acids and is amazing for treating dry skin, healing wounds & scars and reducing redness. “Marula oil packs a huge anti-oxidant power punch to help with anti-aging along with essential fatty acids and proteins to help with firming, anti-inflammatory and anti-swelling support.” Marula is naturally lightweight, meaning it will absorb readily into the skin, leaving it feeling hydrated and smooth.  What’s also cool? Acure’s Marula oil is 100% pure and wildcrafted without pesticides by South African Women as part of an economic empowerment program. I buy mine at Whole Foods (BTW – the Whole Foods Beauty department is pretty amazing if you haven’t checked it out).

♡ BODY EXFOLIATOR

HERBIVORE BOTANICALS COCO ROSE BODY POLISH

Herbivore products are ALL truly natural, vegan, and cruelty-free. They contain no synthetic ingredients— this includes no dyes, no fragrances, and no synthetic preservatives. Additionally, they are concentrated blends containing no fillers and using the minimum amount of ingredients necessary to achieve the maximum results. My Holy Grail Herbivore product is the Body Polish. It smells SO good (no fragrances used, BTW, just Moroccan Roses) and it does the job well to exfoliate the body. I have KP (Keratosis Pilaris) on my arms, and I love how well the Body Polish helps maintain smoothness.

A HUGE plus is that the packaging is so Instagrammy and pretty! If you’re stumped on a gift for a friend, you can’t go wrong with this stuff.

♡ DEODERANT

KOPARI COCONUT DEO

First, do you know the difference between deodorant and antiperspirants? If you check your product, you might be wearing an antiperspirant – which is not good. The difference is, antiperspirants are built to clog and block your sweat glands/pores, and to essentially keep the toxins of your body in…the ones that make you smell like B.O. Antiperspirants are also usually made with aluminum – more not so great news. Not only are the toxins in your body getting stuck (they’re trying to release themselves via sweat, but we don’t let them), but aluminum has been linked to scary AF things like breast cancer and can even accumulate in your brain! UM… WHAT?! Deodorants on the other hand, work to neutralize the smell, but actually still allow the toxins in your system (aka sweat) to release. Which is why you will still sweat wearing natural deodorants. I’d rather sweat than deal with all of the scary shit.

Enter Kopari’s Coconut Deo. It is my favorite non-toxic deodorant, and this is saying A LOT because I have been testing non-toxic deodarants out for about 10 years (the first place I went non-toxic)…and they pretty much all suck. Not this one, though. It is 100% plant derived and non-toxic. Like the name suggests, it’s a coconut-powered product, and the whole line is actually made from coconut. The biggest bonus is that is smells like you’re on a vacay in Hawaii 24/7.

SUNSCREEN

ELTA MD SUNSCREEN

We know sunscreen’s purpose is to help prevent skin cancer, but paradoxically chemical sunscreens use ingredients with links to cancer. 

The easiest way to differentiate between which sunscreens are ‘good’ and which are ‘bad’ is to know the two different types: chemical (BAD) because it penetrates your skin to filter and absorb UV rays. And physical, also known as mineral, which is a physical barrier between your skin and the sun.

Oxybenzone is one of the ingredients used in some chemical sunscreens that causes issues. In 2012, California listed benzophenone as a known carcinogen. Guess what oxybenzone’s other name is? Benzophenone-3. Yes, the ingredient in many sunscreens is a derivative of a carcinogen. That doesn’t necessarily mean oxybenzone is a carcinogen, but it’s close enough to stay the hell away.

Mineral sunscreens are usually formulated with zinc oxide which white in color. But that’s not the case with Elta MD’s Facial SPF. It absorbs right away and is free of parabens, chemicals, fragrance, and the notorious oxybenzone.

♡ FOUNDATION

LAWLESS WOKE UP LIKE THIS FOUNDATION

Where has Lawless been all my life?! I fell in love with the brand after reading about Annie Lawless’ story and her drive to develop cosmetics that are both glamorous, high quality, AND clean. The noncomedogenic, foundation doesn’t clog pores, and it is so comfortable to wear all day. It’s lightweight yet full coverage which is JUST what I like. It’s also rich in antioxidants and has balancing oils—including abyssinica and camellia oils, and hydrating shea butter. I love this foundation so much that I wore it on my wedding day. And it is one that I wear pretty much every single day that I do wear makeup.

Ok, your turn: what are your favorite non-toxic beauty products?

xo, Lynn

It’s WEDDING SEASON!

I am flipping the script for a sec and want to share my tips on dressing for a destination wedding after just being the bride of a destination wedding in Kauai, Hawaii.

Why?

Because so many of our guests asked for style guidance beforehand. Like they did not have a clue what to wear. Men and women. I was surprised by this, but realize that ‘cocktail attire’ might have been cryptic for a beachside wedding.

For example, are heels really necessary? Are pants (on men) necessary? Tevas? (NO), how much white is okay? These were some questions that I got and then some.

So: here is my guide to dressing for a destination wedding.

1. USE THE INVITATION AS A GUIDE: This is the first thing I look at regardless of whether or not the wedding is a destination or not. If it says “Black Tie”, you’re not going to get away with wearing a casual sundress and flip flops, for example. And on the flip side, if it says “Casual Chic”, don’t wear a ball gown.

2. PEEP THE WEDDING COLORS: Pay attention to the color of the wedding invitation suite and try to avoid the colors used when picking your outfit. You don’t want to be embarrassed that you match the bridesmaids.

For destination weddings, I like to mimic the tropical tones with my attire.  Colors like turquoise, sand, fuchsia, lime green, tangerine, and even sunflower are all stunning colors to wear.

Also, let’s talk about black and white for a minute. As a general rule, I love a black moment for weddings. The ‘old’ rules are that black should be reserved for funerals, but that is very antiquated these days. That said, black is more acceptable for black tie weddings and more formal weddings. Yes, you can totally wear black to a beach or destination wedding, but you might be HOT AF or feel a little out of place. Instead, look for a black dress with a fun & subtle pattern.

WHITE: Personally, I avoid white at all costs when I am a wedding guest. Unless the invitation reads “WHITE ATTIRE/WHITE PARTY”, do not wear white. If you have to ask for a second opinion on a dress that has some white in it, do not wear it. I remember when my mom (hi, mo!) was getting ready for a wedding and was going to wear a cream colored crochet dress until I stopped her and told her that the bride would be pretty pissed if she showed up in that dress. Thankfully, she changed. I avoid white accessories too. No white shoes, no white bag, you get the idea. Better safe than sorry.

3. PAY ATTENTION TO FABRICS: Light fabrics are best across the board, for men and women. There is nothing worse than wearing a heavy fabric while standing on the beach, sweating bullets and creating pit or butt sweat marks that everyone can see and that you can feel. Some fabrics that make you look chic and dressed up but kept cool include lace, chiffon, linen, and organza.

4. WHEN IN DOUBT, OVERDRESS: It is ALWAYS better to be over-dressed than under-dressed. In every situation, actually.

…Is a quote from stoic philosopher, Marcus Aurelius on the basis of what stoicism is.

I began studying stoicism a few months ago after discovering The Daily Stoic, a book by Ryan Holiday. Let me tell ya, has been life changing.

You know that saying “you can’t control what happens but you can control how you react”? This is stoicism to a T.

A brief synopsis on Stoicism straight from the source: Stoicism was founded in Athens by Zeno of Citium in the early 3rd century BC, but was famously practiced by the likes of EpictetusSenecaand Marcus Aurelius. The philosophy asserts that virtue (such as wisdom) is happiness and judgment should be based on behavior, rather than words. That we don’t control and cannot rely on external events, only ourselves and our responses.

Stoicism has just a few central teachings. It sets out to remind us of how unpredictable the world can be. How brief our moment of life is. How to be steadfast, and strong, and in control of yourself. And finally, that the source of our dissatisfaction lies in our impulsive dependency on our reflexive senses rather than logic.

Stoicism doesn’t concern itself with complicated theories about the world, but with helping us overcome destructive emotions and act on what can be acted upon. It’s built for action, not endless debate.

{Source}

I’ve written briefly about anxiety here and there on my blog and on Instagram, and I can confidently say that reading The Daily Stoic each day AND journaling my thoughts in correspondence to that day’s reading has significantly impacted how I feel in a positive way. It has helped my anxiety tenfold…and I feel like I’m just getting started.

The book includes 365 “meditations” for every day of the year, and you start on the day you get the book. Each meditation is one page or less, so super easy to digest and take the time to read each morning.

Here are a few excerpts so you can get the idea:

“There’s nothing worse than a wolf befriending sheep. Avoid false friendship at all costs. If you are good, straightforward, and well meaning it should show in your eyes and not escape notice.”

—Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 11.15

It’s pretty obvious that one should keep away from the wicked and two-faced as much as possible—the jealous friend, the narcissistic parent, the untrustworthy partner. At first glance, Marcus Aurelius is reminding us to avoid false friends.

But what if we turn it around? What if, instead, we ask about the times that we have been false to our friends? Ultimately that’s what Stoicism is about—not judging other people’s behavior, but judging our own. We’ve all been a frenemy at one point or another. We’ve been nice to their face—usually because there was something in it for us—but later, in different company, we said how we really felt. Or we’ve strung someone along, cared only when things were going well, or declined to help even though someone really needed us. {Source}

“You have proof in the extent of your wanderings that you never found the art of living anywhere—not in logic, nor in wealth, fame, or in any indulgence. Nowhere. Where is it then? In doing what human nature demands. How is a person to do this? By having principles be the source of desire and action. What principles? Those to do with good and evil, indeed in the belief that there is no good for a human being except what creates justice, self-control, courage and freedom, and nothing evil except what destroys these things.”

—Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 8.1.(5)

What’s the meaning of life? Why was I born? Most of us struggle with these questions—sometimes when we’re young, sometimes not until we’re older. Rarely do we find much in the way of direction.

But that’s simply because we miss the point. As Viktor Frankl points out in Man’s Search for Meaning, it is not our question to ask. Instead, it is we who are being asked the question. It’s our lives that are the answer.

No amount of travel or reading or clever sages can tell you what you want to know. Instead, it is you who must find the answer in your actions, in living the good life—by embodying the self-evident principles of justice, self-control, courage, freedom, and abstaining from evil.

This behavior is beneath us—and worth remembering the next time we accuse someone else of being a bad friend.

“Dig deep within yourself, for there is a fountain of goodness ever ready to flow if you will keep digging.”

—Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 7.59

Today, we could hope that goodness comes our way—good news, good weather, good luck. Or we could find it ourselves, in ourselves. Goodness isn’t something that’s going to be delivered by mail. You have to dig it up inside your own soul. You find it within your own thoughts, and you make it with your own actions.

{Source}

On top of helping with my anxiety, reading and journaling daily in The Daily Stoic has also helped me practice how to stay stoic with unfortunate events, whether it’s when I didn’t get my way, something didn’t turn out the way I expected, or if I lose something important. It is also teaching me to be grateful for everything, even those unfortunate things.

Pick up your own copy HERE.

With that, I hope you have a fabulous weekend!

xo, Lynn

Kauai is the most beautiful place on earth. We did not want to come home! This is the reason that we chose the island as the place we got married. There is just something different and amazing in the air there. The smell of plumerias, the moisture in the air (AMAZING for dry skin), and the chill vibe just makes the island the perfect vacay spot.

I had traveled to Kauai annually growing up, but hadn’t been as an adult, so I was all about asking for recommendations on food, activities, beauty, and shopping. On top of this, we did months and months of research on the best places to go, eat, and stay.

Here is your master list for all things Kauai!

Food

Eating House 1849

Eating House 1849 is a great place to go for date night. We went on our last night on the island. Must tries are the Kampachi Sashimi and the Poke. Their list of appetizers are all amazing (we ordered 5 appetizers to share). The vibe is a little more upscale but still a casual, open-air vibe.

Koloa Fish Market \ The Dolphin

If you want the freshest fish, Koloa Fish Market is your place. They can also make the most amazing poke bowls with the freshest ingredients. We went here several times during our time in Kauai and got fish to grill at our Airbnb as well as poke bowls to take to the beach.

The Dolphin Restaurant is an extension of the fish market, which is open for sushi at dinnertime…and is probably the best sushi on the island. It’s always really fresh & their nigiri and sashimi are SO GOOD. We ordered one roll that came with truffle oil sauce and it was out of this world. A must if you love sushi!

Al Pastor Tacos

Located in the Kapaa Food Truck Court next to Ostuka’s, husband and wife team, Paulino and Faun Hernandez serve amazing Mexican food. I had the best fish tacos of my whole life here on the second visit to their truck. The first time, they were sold out for the day at only 2 pm! 

Little Fish Coffee

From organic, fair-trade coffees to smoothies and acai bowls made with locally grown fruit and veggies, Little Fish Coffee was a spot we visited nearly every day during our trip. My order: an iced americano, black.

Makana Terrace

This breakfast spot/cocktail terrace (it’s both) is the most amazing Lanai experience you will have on the island with breathtaking views of Mount Makana. Whether you come for breakfast or for cocktails, the view is insane. Tip: you must come for a cocktail and watch the sunset. It looks like a painting – so gorgeous!

♡ Shopping & Beauty

Mahina

Mahina has the chicest clothing and accessories for amazing prices. It’s one of those places where you step in and want everything! From dainty jewelry to cute handbags to gorgeous summery clothes, this shop has every fashionista covered. I bought a bunch of jewelry there both for myself and as gifts.

Malie Organics

OMG…this place is pure heaven. Malie means “calm”, and that’s exactly how I’d describe their products. The foundation of all of their beauty products are natural & non-toxic with amazing benefits for the skin. My favorite product: The Pikake Body Gloss.

SoHa Living

SoHa Living carries the best gifts and home decor in the best, non-cheesy way. You know those stores that sell tchotchkes that no one will ever use? Yeah, this is not one of those stores. The girls that work there are so nice, too.

Sunkissed Kauai

If you want an organic spray tan, you have to contact Megan at Sunkissed. I highly recommend her. A spray tan was one beauty appointment that I made in preparation for my wedding, and since I didn’t have a chance to test it out before my wedding day being that this was a destination wedding, I was a little nervous because no bride wants to look like a patchy Oompa Loompa on their wedding day! But Megan DELIVERED. She brought her tent over to the house we rented and tanned sister, sister-in-law, and I, and we were all very happy with the results: even, sun kissed tans! I can’t recommend her enough.

♡ Adventures

Captain Andy’s

Since 1980, Captain Andy’s has taken guests on Kauai boat tours down famous Na Pali Coast. My first cruise ever was actually with Capt. Andy’s when I was a 10 year old on a family vacation. It was a snorkeling cruise, and it’s one of my favorite Kauai memories with my family. I was so happy to go back and experience their sunset cruise on this past trip!

Kauai ATV

This guided adventure takes you through 23 miles of diverse offroad trails, including stops along the way to see famous movie sites such as scenes from Jurassic Park and King Kong. I was absolutely TERRIFIED at first because I thought the ATV was going to flip over. The guide yelled at me at least twice to DRIVE FASTER, and finally, after about 30 minutes, I was comfortable keeping up with everyone else. You will get very dirty on this ride so I recommend wearing clothes you really don’t care about, or using what they offer (I took them up on this and wore clothes they provided).

Princeville Botanical Gardens

Hidden away in the jungle valleys of Princeville on Kauai’s North Shore, dramatic topography, natural landscaping, and tender cultivation have culminated into a sacred garden paradise. The gardens are home to potent medicinals, rare and endangered flowers, and useful economic plants from around the world. This place was breathtaking, and we learned so much about how plants can heal. Plus at the end there is a very informative chocolate tasting and tour! A must if you’re planning a trip to Kauai.

Koloa Rum Co.

The Koloa Rum Tasting Room is located at the historic Kilohana Plantation in Lihue. This was such a fun activity where we got to try several different rums, including coffee rum which was my favorite!

xo, Lynn

Happy Tuesday!

I am so excited to kick off some post-wedding blog posts with you. We’ll be recapping so many details of my wedding here, but first: the welcome party dress.

First things first: Since we chose to have a destination wedding in Kaua’i, having everyone gather before the big day was important to us. You know, to have everyone meet if they hadn’t had a chance yet before our wedding day. A time to just hang out, eat, and drink good food and booze.

I began shopping for my wedding outfits over a year before the wedding. Yep, I’m that psycho. NOT the dress, but the other outfits. Ya know: the welcome party dress, honeymoon outfits, and so on.

For the welcome party, I wanted something different. Not your typical boring white dress. I was looking for two piece sets online to no avail, and then I stumbled upon Dress The Population and their dresses stopped me in my tracks. We’re talking 3D florals, illusions, and gorgeous cuts. And not too wedding-y.

I went for this dress, which is unfortunately sold out, however Dress The Population has so many similar options that I will include below.

I fell in love with the Carla Dress because of the lace, as my wedding dress does not have any lace and I really love the look. Also because it has a bit of drama to it with the navy color on the flowers. Our wedding theme was DARK, and I wanted to tie that into the night before dress too.

Side note: I loved that the lace kind of covered my casper legs because I had a spray tan done after the welcome party due to maximum tan-ness and minimal streaking in the hot Hawaii weather. Ha!

xo, Lynn