beauty

GUA SHA

image via chillhouse

image via chillhouse

When it comes to skincare, I’ll never give up on my peels, serums, microcurrent, and jade roller, but lately I’ve been loving a more low tech approach that yields amazing results instead, using a super old school Chinese method called Gua Sha. “Gua Sha,” which directly translates to “scraping” in Chinese, is a healing technique in traditional East Asian medicine that uses a smooth crystal tool for facial massage (and other body parts too). 

I had been using a jade roller for a few years intermittently, but prefer the gentle “scraping” motion I’ve learned with this method. It invigorates my skin and I can immediately feel a boost in blood flow, like nothing below the surface is stagnating. Gua sha can relieve facial and jaw tension, promote cell renewal, renews facial contour, firms and lifts sagging skin, reduces inflammation, puffiness, diminishes blemishes, relieves encourage lymphatic draining, provides a great brow lift, and breaks up fascia. I swear I have fewer headaches, and my face looks contoured and more youthful after a session. Research shows the stimulating blood flow through this therapy can have anti-inflammatory and immune-protective effects that last for days following a single treatment. 

Personally, I learned how to do an at-home facial and the proper directional method from pro Kari Jansen of Poppy and Someday in Laurel Canyon and it was so helpful. The gua sha workshop I attended was part of a day long wellness retreat full of yoga, meditation, tarot readings, and fresh seasonal meals so basically heaven. Two big takeaways from the lesson I had was to work until the skin is red and to look for a tool made from rose quartz or jade, rather than acrylic. Kari says, “You want to Gua Sha until your skin turns pink or even red. For it releasing toxins, excess fire or inflammation, increases blood flow, and breaks up congested & cold lymph. When it’s deep red your body is releasing lactic acid and moving stagnation.”

I’m totally giving gua sha credit for clearer, brighter skin that feels and looks invigorated. The larger tool I have is also great for massaging my chest, arms, and thighs, boosting blood flow and improving the look of my skin’s texture. I’d definitely recommend seeking out a gua sha treatment or trying an at home facial.

If you’re looking for inspo, check out holistic skincare Britta Beauty on instagram. Her videos are not only great to have on hand if you're new to gua sha.

How To:

1. You’ll notice how much heat gua sha produces so, you can prime your skin with a bit of facial oil or moisturizer to ease friction. This is not at all a critical step, but it definitely feels great.

2. Starting at the base of your neck, take the flat side of the tool and move upwards towards your chin applying reasonable pressure.

3. Move to the chin. From the base of your chin, take the same flat edge and sweep upwards towards your cheekbones. Repeat this step on each side of your face three times. If you feel particularly tense in your jaw, you might want to focus on this area. The jaw is my favorite part and Kari taught me how to identify and blast the stagnation “crystals” that accumulate there.

4. Switching to one of the smaller angles on your tool (there are usually a few, you can choose the most comfortable for your face shape), begin on the side of your nose and sweep outwards over the cheekbones towards the temples and over your brows for a lift. End with a few swipes up the nose towards the forehead.

THE TROUBLE WITH CELLULITE

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Alright, guys, I promised we’d talk about cellulite this week so here goes! Do you want to know the perfect solution to all of your bumpy thigh woes? My ideal equation for the smoothest skin ever and to eliminate those dimples once and for all? I really hate to break it to you, but the magic pill for cellulite just does not exist. Unfortunately, cellulite is just a part of life and primarily driven by your genetics. But we can look at what it is, and ways to somewhat reduce the dimpled look if it’s making you uncomfortable.

Cellulite is subcutaneous fat that causes dimpling of the skin, and it primarily affects women around our butt, thighs and hips. There seems to be a difference in the structure and interaction between connective tissue and fat cells in males versus females, which is why skin dimpling is much more common in women. Generally, in women, collagen is arranged in vertical rows, while in men the fibers are more closely bound in a latticed pattern. When fat is pressed against the vertical rows, it is more visible on the skin’s surface than the more tightly bound net.

Tons of treatments, remedies and therapies are advertised out there to erase cellulite, but they either provide temporary results or no discernible results at all. Carboxytherapy, endermologie, laser lipo, and subcision are great ways to spend a whole lot of money for minimal outcome that has not been studied or proven effective sadly.

While I said there’s no magic pill, there is actually one tried and true way to improve the appearance of cellulite (and skin in general): stop smoking. Smoking reduces blood vessel flow and disrupts the formation of collagen, allowing connective tissue to become stretched or damaged. Cigarettes are terrible for you for so many reasons, so cut your nicotine habit and your skin will improve without a doubt.

I currently don’t have much cellulite, but I have had it during and after pregnancy and when I’m a few pounds heavier. I find that exercise and a eating a healthy, whole foods diet helps immensely.

Spray tan and moisturizer are your friend! This is something I swear by. Whenever I’m feeling less than confident in the appearance or texture of my skin, a little golden glow gives me a serious boost. I love the pampering aspect of a personal airbrush session, but also love St. Tropez and Kate Somerville tanning towelettes for an at-home solution.

Another practice I’ve recently adopted, and will dig deeper into later on the blog, is Gua Sha. I’ve noticed it can temporarily smooth out my thigh bumps if I’m going to be in a bathing suit or doing a photo shoot. Gua Sha is an alternative therapy that involves gently scraping your skin with a tool to improve circulation. In general, practices like Gua Sha, massage, or body brushing can give short term results for your thighs’ texture and have myriad other health benefits for your circulation and skin.

So I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news when it comes to “cottage cheese” or “orange peel” skin, but if you have cellulite then there’s little proven to do to eliminate it. Instead of battling our genetic makeup and wasting time and money on snake oil, maybe we can embrace our so-called-imperfections. Looking at facetuned, photoshopped and filtered Instagram “models” can get in your head and convince you that everyone else has magically smooth and lump-free legs but remember that’s not real life. Sure, our legs and booty might have some dimples if you’re looking extra close, but they also give us the ability to do thirty reps of squat jumps, side lunges, and hip bridges. They can take us on long hikes, stroller walks, stand-up paddle boarding, and dancing our hearts out. Personally, I’ve chosen to say fuck it about my cellulite, and I rock my short shorts regardless. Life’s too short to sweat a few dimples.

CURIE DEODORANT

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I'm one of the lucky few that doesn't have to wear deodorant, but if I did I would want something natural that works as hard as I do, and I wouldn't want to smell like a pine tree. 

A friend of a friend told me about Curie and I passed it along to Katie so that she could put it to the two+ STUDIO LB workouts a day in LA test. Katie loves that it's natural, contains no aluminum, smells great, and held up after two very intense STUDIO LB workouts.

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Curie was founded in San Francisco by Sarah Moret. As a marathon runner with a demanding career in venture capital, she needed a natural deodorant that could keep up with her active lifestyle and couldn't find one. She spent almost a year developing the formula and launched Curie in April 2018.  Curie is an aluminum-free, natural deodorant made with simple ingredients that your body understands, like coconut oil, shea butter, beeswax, and baking soda...and it works! Curie's signature white tea scent is light, fresh and feminine and smells heavenly :) 

I love that the brand’s name pays homage to French physicist and chemist Marie Curie, the first woman to win a Nobel prize, and the first and only woman to win twice. She was a badass that broke barriers. Curie comes in regular, mini (temporarily sold out) and sensitive skin formulas.

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