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.

LAUREN'S RULES FOR AGE-PROOFING YOUR BODY + MIND

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Is aging backwards a thing? They say that 40 is the new 30 - and for many aspects of life it’s 100% true. But if there’s one area the adage doesn’t totally apply, it’s to our health. You have to consistently work at it.

Working out and eating well to age proof your body (or to become fit) means that you’re strengthening the systems of your entire body for everyday peak performance. It’s a lot like servicing your car. And that’s what your main goal should be.

In my opinion, the ultimate outcome of any fitness and wellness program is feeling GREAT in your skin at any age. Age proofing is a lifestyle, and it’s a high vibes only attitude on every level - more on this later in the post.

So many of you ask me how I look so “young” (THANK YOU) and at 41 I’ve never felt better in my skin and I’m still learning, but I’m excited to see what my 40s, 50s, 60s and beyond bring. These are my current rules of the game when it comes to ageless living and age proofing your body and mind.

Move Everyday Exercise brings blood to skin level and makes you look and feel alive. Do what feels good for you, but aim to eliminate a disordered relationship with exercise. So many people think of movement as solely a means of undoing what they’ve consumed, but It’s much more than that. Get moving and feel the lifeblood.

Water With Lemon Just do it everyday, trust me.

Sunscreen See above re: water with lemon.

CCS & Studio LB Both the method and the programming protect the body by maintaining lean muscle mass, flexibility, muscle balance and endurance via resistance training, cardio, and core strengthening. Whether it’s a cardio or sculpt, a Quick Burn or Full-Length workout, every session has core strength, stability, and muscle balance as it’s foundation.

Joint Care Beyond your thirties, you’ll start to notice wear and tear on some of your joints, which is normal – those joints have been in use for some time – and not anything to freak out about in itself. However, heavy training, especially impactful endurance work like running or high impact cardio, can sometimes exacerbate things. It’s important to really listen to your body and consider a couple of useful supplements like glucosamine, turmeric and collagen – which can work to slow and even reverse joint degeneration. 

Commit To You Consistency is so key. You have to commit to your health and own your choices. What we do everyday counts more than what we do a few times a month. Don’t just exercise when preparing for a wedding, event, or vacation. When health becomes a habit, everything shifts and it becomes your lifestyle. Try to focus less on the end goal and more on what you do daily and watch real transformation take place!

Love Yourself Stop berating yourself and do not compare and despair. Tell your brain to STOP IT. So much precious time is wasted on shaming and judging yourself. It’s your job to break the brain that habitually believes a story that’s hurting you.

High Vibes Only What does this mean? Making the conscious decision to be holistically healthy and happy in all aspects of life. If we are operating at a ‘lower vibration’ then that means that something is blocked. You want nothing to do with anything that makes you feel sh*tty, so when we make conscious decisions to bring our body back into balance, the body will vibrate at its highest potential, generating health and happiness.

Embrace The Power Of A Whole Foods Diet Whole foods literally put your body in a power position. Don’t eat the crap. Basically everything we need is whole and unpackaged.

Make Space Schedule time for both productivity and relaxation in order to lower stress. During your scheduled workout time, clear the way for clarity. When you’re in your home studio you want no trappings of daily life, so move the laundry hampers and take-home work. Clear out whatever isn’t serving you or is weighing on you to maximize your me-time.

Feeling great in our 40s and beyond does take some work. For me, the transition from 30s to 40 was a little challenging mentally, but what happens to women at 40 is nothing short of astonishingly beautiful. Everything changes for the better. Beauty and confidence really starts to radiate from within and you really do love yourself a whole lot more. I notice that I move feely now and I love being myself, and I love being a woman.

Oh, and IMO, a little Botox never hurts, either. ; ) Next up, I’ll focus on the products and clothes that help me glow from the inside out!


LIVING BETTER: CARRIE WHITCRAFT

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If you were a bride in the Philly area between 2004 and 2017, you’re likely familiar with the work of creative powerhouse Carrie Whitcraft. She worked at Philadelphia magazine during that time, and for many years was the editor of the twice-a-year bridal mag Philadelphia Wedding. Her book The Bride’s Instruction Manual is a no nonsense guide to wedding essentials. We talked to her about her own nuptials, new(ish) motherhood, and how our bodies change with the years. Carrie lives in Berwyn, Pennsylvania with her husband Mike and son Jack.

You wrote for Philadelphia Magazine about all things wedding-related. Did this affect how you planned for your own wedding?

Having my life be all about weddings even before I got engaged meant a few things when it came time to plan my own—the absolute best being that I got to skip the whole vendor-research part of the program, which tends to be super daunting right off the bat when brides first dive into it all. My husband and I decided we should do New Year’s Eve before we had downed our first celebratory drink post-proposal, so I texted Alison Conklin, who I knew would be my photographer (possibly before I even called my parents!), right then and there to see if she was free, and then lined everybody else up with a quick email in the coming week or two to tell them I was engaged and say hey, what are you doing New Year’s Eve?

Having done so much with weddings over the course of so many years also meant that I already had things in mind that I knew I wanted, and things that I knew I didn’t feel were necessary. And coming back to my amazing vendors, it also meant that I didn’t stress about a single detail, because I fully trusted them to hit it out of the park. (I didn’t even know a thing about my bouquet! My florist, Sullivan Owen, said she’d love to make that a surprise for me, and I loved that idea.) In fact, many of them were surprised and amused to find that they had to keep reaching out to me to discuss various details of the day. It really allowed me to focus on making wonderful memories with my family and friends and husband-to-be during that time.

You're consistently recognized on the 100+ minutes list in our community facebook group. When and where do you practice Studio LB?

I tend to do my workout right in my living room while my 22-month-old son naps. My TV browser won’t load the workout videos for some reason, so instead I do them on my iPad and use the reflection of the dark TV behind it as my “mirror.” It’s my goal this summer, however, to get into the habit of doing them at least a few days a week in the morning before he’s up (I have been blessed with a late sleeper, but a short napper) so I can use his short naps to get some other stuff done. I’ve been successful a few times so far!

How has having a child changed your approach to your health and fitness?

I feel like when it comes to fitting in my workout now, it’s not just when, but how! On days when nap time doesn’t work out, it takes a lot more effort and finagling to get it done than when I used to just decide on a 7am, lunchtime or post-work class. And when it comes to diet, things have definitely changed since having a baby (and, let’s be honest, since mid-30s turned into late!): what I used to do to drop a few-to-several pounds any time I needed to now does literally zilch. So that part of it definitely takes more effort, and isn’t something I’ve completely figured out just yet.

I also think that now, in addition to wanting to feel strong (I hate when I don’t) and fit into my jeans (I really hate when I don’t) like I always have, I love doing my workouts—especially these workouts, since I used to go to Lauren’s Philly studios—because they’re kind of a constant in my life when lots of other things have changed in recent years. For a really long time, I lived and worked in Philly and worked out at Lithe. Now, I live in the ‘burbs with two boys and don’t go into an office; I smiled about five minutes into my first Studio LB workout because of how oddly comforting it was to be doing the waist rotations and Thriller and bow-and-arrow-jacks (which I hate, btw) that I’d been doing since long before my life looks like it looks now. So that part of it motivates me to keep up with it, too.

What's one beauty product you can't live without and why?

You know, for years, any time I was asked this question, my immediate answer was P50 (Biologique Recherche’s miracle product that they got me hooked on at Rescue when I was in my 20s). But these days I actually think I might be more dependent on Beautycounter’s Facial Oil (I do #3, Balancing). It fixes oiliness, dryness, breakouts, flakiness—seriously any ailment your skin might have. My face literally drinks it in and feels relieved every time I put it on. I plow through it, but much like I’ve always felt about P50, I don’t consider it so much a splurge as an investment. I mean, your face is your face—when something works as well as this, you gotta keep it coming.

Photography by Alison Conklin

5 WAYS TO CELEBRATE THE SUMMER SOLSTICE

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It’s time to level up. The summer solstice arrives in just a few hours. Even though Memorial Day weekend often feels like the official kickoff of summer, the summer solstice, which begins at 11:54am on Friday, June 21, marks the official beginning of our favorite time of the year. The solstice is a celebration of the sun, is a peak of energy for the entire year, and is a perfect time to reflect on your 2019 so far and excitedly usher in a new season.

I’m so ready to play, soak up the light and good energy that summer brings. Spring —and our time of renewal and grey is OVER. At Studio LB, we’ve been gently easing into this new season for eight weeks and now it’s time to shift into manifestation mode and make our goals a reality. Here are five ways to celebrate the much-loved incoming season.

1. Rise Early Watching the sun rise is a powerful reminder of nature’s cycles and our often overlooked circadian rhythm. Wake up early and watch it rise with your coffee or tea and feel how those diamond minutes fill you with light and positive energy.

2. Tune Into Nature The best way to honor the sun is to be in it, so take your Studio LB workout outdoors, eat outside, and buy fresh flowers to celebrate the new season and the abundance of life that the sun gives us.

3. Set Summer Intentions/Resolutions Today is the perfect time to set intentions and re-visit goals for the rest of the year. Reflect on projects and ideas that have been brewing since winter/spring. It’s a great time for a check-in, so make a list or light and candle and manifest what you want and let go of what you don’t.

4. Be Free Summer is an opportunity to slow down, loosen the reigns, and tune into your inner child. The warmer months bring us a carefree sense of freedom, and an expansive energy that propels us into action as we spend more time outdoors.

5. Create A Magical Summer Cocktail Traditionally, elderflowers and their leaves are associated with the summer solstice. Alternatively, you can utilize St. Germain or brew chamomile tea and add a dash of turmeric and ginger.

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.

INTERVIEW WITH LAUREN BOGGI

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How has living on the West Coast affected your lifestyle?

California has always felt like home to me. Whenever I would travel here for work or vacation I’d never want to leave. Jordan says LA is my “Spirit City” which seems about right. My lifestyle has shifted a bit since moving to the West Coast. I feel like it’s quieter in LA - I spend much more time at home in LA than I ever did in Philadelphia. I’m not on edge and running around LA like I was on the East Coast. I’m much more balanced, present, and chilled-out here. In addition to my at-home Studio LB practice it’s also been really nice for me to step outside my house and go for a walking call, or a hike or run at Runyon.

Is routine important to you, or do you prefer to go with the flow when it comes to your schedule?

Routine is important to me when it comes to health and wellness but I’m very much a go with the flow person, which can be both good and bad! Being over-scheduled with work squashes my creativity and I prefer to create and produce one - two workouts on certain days, and then the rest can be more spontaneous. I think leaving room for spontaneity in your life leads you down some pretty awesome roads.

With that being said, do you have any bedtime routines or rituals that help you sleep well?

Every night I put ten solid minutes in on my foam roller and take a bath followed by Papa & Barkley’s Whole Body Releaf 30:1 CBD Tincture.

Tell me about your skincare approach for your face and body.

My routine is pretty simple. I’m a huge believer in the benefits of a healthy diet and sweating everyday. I don’t eat a lot of sugar or dairy. Other than that, daily Gua Sha, and micro-current a few times a week. I’ve been using Dr. Bucky’s Alphaeon and Shani Darden’s Retinol Reform for years.

What’s the best advice your parents ever gave you, and do you actively follow it?

My parents always allowed me to be myself, and told me to do what I love and try to make money doing it. I absolutely follow (most of) their advice.

If stressors in your life cannot be avoided, what are your methods of dealing with them?

It has to be pretty stressful in order to really eat at me, but if I’m sweating something I like to breathe and remind myself that things aren’t always going to be okay, and to accept that.

How’s your relationship with your body? 

OMG I am so in tune with my body. I sorta have this like, body intuition with myself (and other people’s bodies). I can read it really well, and know when I need to cut out sugar or dairy, or back off during a workout. My outlook on my body has changed since turning 40. I feel stronger than ever and my mind and body are super meshed. I know who I am and I love every inch of me, and for me that really came with age.

Can you tell me about a book, movie, or podcast that has influenced you recently?

21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari kinda blew my mind.

In your practice with Studio LB, you always build in a Rest or Yoga day. Can you explain the importance of that day?

Taking a rest day is so important. Your body rebuilds itself via rest. You simply cannot become stronger without it. CCS is intense and so full-body. Every muscle is integrated into the workout and the rest day is so necessary! Yoga is the perfect companion as it really helps with stretching and alignment.

What do you look for in a Yoga teacher?

The main things that I look for is a teacher with great anatomy knowledge, and a willingness to be super authentic. I don’t need someone to be nice and I think it's crucial for teachers to be real and that’s what really attracts me. I want to feel something. When teachers are true educators it’s so palpable. Here in LA, I love Emilie Perz. She’s so gifted!

Do you ever see yourself having a Studio again?

You know, CCS is very niche and unique but the current market is very different from when I started out. It’s so saturated. I’ll never say never, but not right now. I have days where I have a slight itch but operating studios is not what excites me. I love the digital world. I love being able to be a part of everyone’s day wherever they are. I LOVE teaching and creating. That’s my gift. I also love being a part of people’s lives without the need or pressure to be people’s ONLY thing. I think that we’re really in the midst of a huge fitness shift; a cultural moment.

Why do you think people gravitate towards you and Studio LB?

I think it's a mixture of things. First and foremost, the workout and the results. But, it's more than just changing your body. It's always been about empowering women through movement and this movement in particular really fuels confidence and strength. It literally makes you feel like you’re f*ing Beyonce. It’s so powerful. And fun. The Program changes people’s bodies and headspace.

What’s the most common mistake you see when you’re training someone new to Cardio Cheer Sculpting?

Just not giving it enough time to fully master the technique or not committing to learning the basic bio-mechanical principles. CCS is a different type of movement. Discipline is a huge part of success with CCS and there are huge rewards of committing to Studio LB fully, working hard, and seeing the program through. You can’t make excuses and succeed when it comes to fitness.

What advice to women always ask you for?

Number one would be what they should eat to see the best results.

What do you do to unwind or treat yourself?

I unwind by listening to music or reading and I love to hang with my girls or treat myself to a manicure and pedicure at Olive & June or go shopping. And wine…wine and shopping!

What’s your favorite love song?

Ahh! Probably a tie between Born To Run by Bruce Springsteen and Rolling Stones Beast of Burden.

To be continued next week…

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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