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Archive for December 2014

Post from FunctionalBeautyMD

Skin Care Ingredient Hype: It DOES Matter!

So, you’ve probably noticed there’s a lot in the media about the beauty industry lately regarding the toxicity of ingredients and lack of regulation. There are certain skin care ingredients you should learn to avoid. Should you pay attention?  YES.  Here’s why:

SkinYour skin is constantly regenerating from the basal layer.  As the cell layers mover closer to the surface and away from their blood supply, they become keratinized, metabolically inactive, and eventually slough off.  The outermost 25-30 layers of skin cells, called the stratum corneum, are dead and provide barrier protection:  they keep water in and chemicals and microorganisms out.  By nature, human skin has low permeability. TO PROTECT US.  But what do we do?

We mess with nature.  Using SCIENCE.

Science has allowed us to enhance the skin’s permeability with additives and chemicals, both natural and man-made, to allow for penetration through these protective layers moving substances deep into the biologically active layers of the skin.  Penetration enhancers (also called sorption promoters or accelerants) work by disrupting the “glue” that holds skin cells tightly together, dissolving the keratin, or otherwise “punching holes” in the layers.  Some examples are polyethylene glycol (PEG), PEG-amine, carboxylic acid, urea, propylene glycol, DMSO, liposomes, nanoparticles…  This is good when the molecule that’s getting through is one we want.  But what happens when harmful molecules that exist in the same product get through with it?  And, why are the harmful ones in there, anyway?  Isn’t someone supposed to monitor that?

moleculeGood molecules, or “actives” nourish and promote the health and youthful appearance of your skin.  These are things like Vitamin C, Vitamin E, ferulic acid, niacinamide, copper peptides, and hyaluronic acid, just to name a few.  We want those to get in and do the job!

Then there are the bad guys – parabens, phthalates, bisphenol-A, ethanolamines...the list is looooong.  They are put in to improve the smell, texture, or performance of a product. Poison Some are proven to cause cancer, genetic mutation, reproductive harm or birth defects.  Others are simply irritating or cause eczema, acne or rosacea.  These molecules hitch a ride on the penetration enhancers along with the good guys and WRECK your good intentions.  Did anyone get the photo?  It’s Poison.

Why are these companies allowed to put potentially harmful or PROVEN harmful ingredients in our products?  Because it’s legal in the US.  The European Union bans over 1300 hazardous ingredients from use in cosmetics.  United States?  11.  Yes, I said eleven, y’all.  Until there is better oversight, we have to protect ourselves, and that means arming yourself with knowledge!

Download the EWG Skin Deep app on your phone and use it when shopping:

Our “stratum corneum” does an amazing job of protecting us. If we are going to mess with that, let’s make sure we are doing so carefully, critically, and thoughtfully.  Here’s some help with the data – and don’t forget to take your reading glasses to the store!!!

More reading:

List of acceptable ingredients generally deemed as safe:

The NEVER List:

Whole Foods’ Never List:


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Style A to Z: Holiday Decorating Tips

The Holiday season is upon us, whether we are ready for it or not!


Here are some of my tips for last-minute decorating on a budget, to ensure that your life and home are ready for every family gathering and elegant dinner party!

1. Don’t overlook IKEA- IKEA is a fabulous one-stop-shop destination for all of your holiday decor needs. Introduce some seasonal inspired furnishings to your dining and living spaces, pick up some cozy faux-fur throws, or browse the wide selection of textured and fabulous area rugs to add warmth and holiday charm to your home. With unbeatable prices and wide selections, you are bound to find some pieces you will love!


2. Pull out the Sterling- Nothing says winter like sterling silver! Shimmering and sleek, sterling instantly adds seasonal flare to any space. Be it sconces, candle holders, flatware or otherwise, you shouldn’t underestimate the decorative value of a sturdy sterling piece!

3. Browse the local Dollar Store- It may seem counter intuitive, but you will be pleasantly surprised at the level of quality and selection of decorative items available at the dollar store! You can find awesome glass jars that when filled with decorative Christmas balls, become instant center pieces!

4. Deck the Halls!- Garnish your stair case and mantle with traditional pine boughs for a festive and inexpensive look! Save your own tree-trimmings and check the Pinterest boards for inspiration and techniques for getting the most out of the tinsel!

5. Get Creative!- The Holiday season is just as much about family and friends as it is about expressing yourself! Let your home be an extension of yourself. Deck the halls with all of pieces that make you happy. Consignment shops, antique stores and craft stores can give you inspiration to let your creative side show and can offer some really unique and affordable ways to spice up your winter decor!

Kiss of Couture,
Amy xoxo

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When are people most Happy?

I came across a Huffington Post story the other day that talked about what ages and life stages people felt most happy.

Do you feel that the older you get, the less you are held back by the little negativities in life? I know I certainly do. True- I am firmly planted in my forties- but I feel a newfound confidence creeping in! Now don’t get me wrong, aging isn’t an easy thing to do gracefully (or is it? I am too busy fighting it tooth and nail!) Perhaps it’s because I take on things that would have held me back earlier in my life… and I am not afraid to jump in and work on areas of my body and health that made my feel bad about myself in my thirties. Wrinkles? See ya! Creases in my forehead? Good bye! Age spots from too much sun at the beach? Well my dear that’s what the lovely south beach laser treatment is all about- get rid of what makes you self-conscious and get on with all that life has to offer!

There is something about work, home and social life that takes on the sort of ease nowadays that was missing in the crazy years of having my kids in middle school while I was busy outside the house climbing the ‘career ladder’. I think I am beginning to understand that happiness is a choice- and I am so very grateful for health, opportunity and of course all of my family and friends.

Do you appreciate all that you are and all that you have a little bit more these days? Do you think age makes us more aware and grateful? I would love to hear what you think!

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Holidays stressing you out? Here’s your prescription!


Here we go againChristmas music is on the radio, the calendar is filling up, traffic is getting noticeably worse and it’s only November!  How are we going to get through another holiday season and maintain our serenity and unflappable grace?  If you’re like me, you want to book a 3 week trip to a remote island.  No, make that 5 weeks.  I’d leave the day after Thanksgiving, someone else would do the dishes, and I’d come back home all tan and relaxed (and skinny from NO HOLIDAY FOOD, because there aren’t any rum balls on remote islands) on New Year’s Day to a clean house and no sign of holiday decor, anywhere.

Now, back to reality.  Sigh.

Not that the holidays are all bad.  I begrudgingly agree that they can be fun, if you have a sane family and some rich friends that throw amazing parties.  Oh, I know, then there’s the whole joy of giving and fellowship and thankfulness part.  And some people even like shopping for gifts!  But for the rest of us, what can you do to minimize the stress?

#1 Take time for yourself:  Say no to at least one holiday party and get a massage or take a bath instead.

#2 Get enough rest:  Be a “sleep scrooge” and don’t let anyone disturb you.  You are insanely beautiful, and you need your beauty sleep.

#3 Eat well:  Not too much, and not “holiday food”, but real, living food that you have to wash in the sink and cut up.  Use the time it takes to meditate on how grateful you are to know how to take care of yourself.  And while you’re at it, drink some pure, filtered water.

#4 Supplement:  We can’t eat well ALL the time, and some well-chosen nutraceuticals can be an essential bio-hack.  I recommend Magnesium (citrate or glycinate) 200 mg twice daily for the calming effect.  Over 325 enzymatic processes in the body require magnesium, and the average person gets about half of what they need!  Leg cramps, anyone?  A powder form like Natural Vitality Natural Calm is a nice way to end the day mixed in warm water before bed.  Second, a high quality B-complex because stress (and coffee, and alcohol…) deplete your stores pretty quickly.  Thirdly, make sure you are not Vitamin D deficient.  It can wreck you!  Take 5000 units of vitamin D3 every day.

#5 Exercise:  Get some joyful movement into your day, whether it’s a yoga class, a walk with a friend, or turning up the music and cleaning house really really well.  I try to schedule my workouts like appointments, but that all goes to hell when I get too busy.  Forgive yourself, and then get busy being active again as soon as possible.  It’s your body, and no one’s gonna love it like you can.



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