SZL gets their favorite NYC-based skincare expert, Negin Niknejad, to spill on some questions we've been dying to ask! Make sure you check out her hand-crafted skincare products on her site, JustBe, and follow her on Twitter, Instagram, and FaceBook for more inspiration and insightful instructions.
SZL: First of all, let us start off by saying that you have a gorgeous, natural look. Any tricks up your sleeve?
NN: That's very sweet; thank you. I'm not into wearing a lot of makeup because my hair takes up so much space and, therefore, foundation and excess makeup make me feel claustrophobic. But I love glitter!
SZL: Do you think your nationality, or the fact that you got to experience other cultures throughout your life, had any influence towards the creation of JustBe?
NN: Yes, I am deeply attracted to natural healing and remedies. In Iran, we have a holistic system called "ataari," which is rooted in holistic healing and herbal medicine. When I began studying Ayurveda, I saw the similarities between the two. I work intuitively so perhaps I am plugged into something universal.
SZL: What is your favorite JustBe product at the moment, and why?
NN: I am switching between the Purifying Mask and the Soothing Mask because, between the summer heat and excess sweating and the advent of autumn, my skin wants to be feel clean without being depleted of its natural oils. I am a huge devotee to all of JustBe.
SZL: Where do you source the items for your skincare line? Do your recipes change based on availability?
NN: It really depends on what it is. My facials are customized with local raw seasonal ingredients but I also do source indigenous herbs and oils from other regions. I work with local farms in New York and New Jersey too.
SZL: What are the most common ailments/skin afflictions that people come to you to be treated for? How quickly do they see results?
NN: It would have to be hormonal and digestive-related break-outs. Results depend on their lifestyle, stress levels, and eating habits. I believe stress is the root of ailment in the body; also in the mind. City dwellers are under constant stress. It's good to spend a lot of time in nature, especially the forest and beach, to reset our buttons.
SZL: Are there any daily/weekly routines/treatments that you recommend for all people?
NN: Have a mask that leaves your skin clean but not dry, and do that twice a week. Masking is a great way to maintain healthy skin for at home beauty care and in between facials. Also, always treat your eyes on a daily basis, as they are the first area on our face to feel the effects of aging. Exfoliating, both face and body, is likewise a very important step in keeping the skin looking fresh, and it allows for better product penetration. Moisturize your face and body with bioavailable oils. Drink lots of water as water is nature's best moisturizer. And do make sure you get your beauty sleep. Keep it natural!
- Maria Vasylivna
We had the honor to interview Shannon Vaughn, the woman behind Pursoma, and got her tips on a successful bathing experience! Check out the Pursoma products features on our website today!
SZL: How is Pursoma changing the way that people look at detox?
SV: Detox is a timely term, 5 years ago detox was looked at as something that was associated with a person that was really sick and needed rehab or had a major chronic condition that needed an aggressive treatment. We coined the term Detox Beauty™ and you hear more and more about Beauty Detoxes which are very relevant today. The idea is that beauty comes from the inside out, it’s a reflection of wellness and detox products and systems work internally to enable real beauty to emerge. So when people understand that we are a Detox Beauty™ company, they understand our approach and what results we are aiming to provide. We encourage a lifestyle of wellness and provide consumers with a supportive community and the detox tools and to look and feel their best.
SZL: Were you always a fan of baths, or did your affinity for them grow as you discovered the healing benefits?
SV: I have always been a fan of self care and taking time to treat my skin with special attention, so bathing is a part of that; I often take a bath to open my pores and then dry off and do a deeply exfoliating body scrub. However, it wasn't until I had to go through an intense holistic healing journey in which baths were a part of my detox that I found how useful they are as a part of wellness and restoration. Not only can you use the bath as a vessel for infusing natural ingredients into the system, but it also forces you to disconnect from all other activities. These aren’t just aromatic bubble baths where you light a candle and read a book or flip through a magazine, Pursoma baths are strong and powerful and you are forced to just let your body relax and rejuvenate. These detox baths have taken on a whole new meaning for me, and I now take one in lieu of a massage or other therapeutic treatment. Plus it’s less expensive and more accessible than a detox spa treatment because I can do it right at home.
SZL: What would you say is the greatest change you have observed in yourself as a result of using the Pursoma bath soaks?
SV: Even though I try to disconnect from tech as often as I can, I am still stuck in the same grind as everyone else that works in today’s fast paced, tech-driven world. I feel this need to respond to all emails and calls ASAP, but the bath soaks totally stop me from doing that. What I love most is that if you take the bath as we recommend, it can function as a 2 hour retreat. When I follow all of the steps (drinking water beforehand, dry brushing, soaking, sweating and resting, and drinking more water) then I have this whole session to myself and I am forced to really give myself some much needed ‘me time.’
SZL: What is your personal favorite from the Pursoma line? Why?
SV: I love Resurrection Bath, it has the best of everything. It has the pure natural sea salt which is warming and detoxifying in the bath, and it has the mineral rich seaweeds, combined with the detoxifying clay which draws out toxins- so for me this bath is detoxifying and nourishing at the same time. When I use it I feel rested and rejuvenated, ready for a new day.
SZL: What would you tell someone who is about to have their first Pursoma experience? Do you have any tips or advice on how to go through the process?
SV: We all need self care as part of our daily routine, not just from time to time, so don’t wait to use the product. We don’t realize how stressed we are until we allow ourselves to be cared for in a massage or a yoga class or some other form of release, so use the bath as soon as you buy it, don’t wait for ‘the perfect night’ or a special occasion, take steps to take care of yourself every day. These are my 10 steps to a great detox:
1. Pick a quiet night for your detox.
2. Eat healthy that day – a light breakfast, salad for lunch and a very light dinner (avoid sugar dairy, soy, legumes, starchy grains, processed foods, red meat, caffeine and alcohol).
3. Drink 2-3 liters of water throughout the day.
4. Exercise – yoga or cardio for at least 45 minutes.
5. Dry brush the body or do a salt scrub to stimulate your circulation and rid the body of dry skin.
6. Select a Pursoma bath or body mask – be sure to follow the instructions, making sure to note whether to rinse off or leave the product on the body.
7. Drink 16 oz. filtered or spring water BEFORE the Pursoma detox treatment.
8. Drink 16 oz. water AFTER the Pursoma detox treatment, while you’re resting in bed. Sweat 20 minutes – we like to wear extra layers!
9. Apply pure oil (coconut, sesame, jojoba, argon) all over your body.
10. Head straight to sleep.
- Maria Vasylivna
SZL's founder, Zoe Twitt, sits down to interview yet another fascinating young lady. Read on for the details!
Z: Who are you?
B: I'm half American & half Australian and lived for a time in Sydney when I was young. I remember playing on the pristine white beaches of Bondi and swimming in the unforgettable turquoise waters. I adore Australia and want to go back soon to visit with my family. They're scattered all around Sydney and the North Coast. My dad was actually born and raised in Guildford, New South Wales and recently discovered through an Ancestry.com
report that we are part Aborigine as well!
After returning to the US, my family owned and operated a bed & breakfast on Mt. Desert Island in Maine for many years. Since college, I have split my time between my homes in Massachusetts and Syosset, New York. I'm a green beauty and wellness fanatic and a voracious reader. I'm a huge dog lover and have two Chihuahuas and one rescued Pit Bull. I'm a renowned natural beauty advocate, bohemian spirited wellness writer, holistic health enthusiast, freelance makeup artist and Rose Program Detoxification Counselor.
Personally, I have the highest of standards (gold!) in all things Green Beauty. This allows me the privilege to review the top brands in natural, eco-friendly, organic skincare & makeup. I'm a proponent of using holistic remedies, healing teas & tonics, and I often share many of my favorite DIY recipes @beautybybritanie.com. There you will find tips, tools for wellness, eco- friendly fashion ideas, alternative health options and personal life musings. All to encourage you to lead your best and healthiest life ever! To look at feel naturally beautiful, you never have to compromise your health and I will show you how to do that organically. After obtaining a college background in Psychology and English, I completed Natalia Rose‘s Intensive Teacher Training Program in NYC. At Natlalia's request, I gratefully accepted a position as her personal intern and assist with various projects, including her book, “Detox 4 Women“, that was published in 2009.
I'm a research nerd! I'm adamantly committed to discovering the myriad ways of incorporating the gifts of Ayurvedic principles, holistic & Chinese medicine, aromatherapy, yoga, meditation, energy healing, diet, herbalism and positive thinking into my life to facilitate healing.I have gained a great deal of knowledge through my dedication to learning as much as possible about chronic health conditions and it was through that research process that I became interested in not only what I was putting in my body, but also what I was putting on my body. I've seen the way a detoxed life is transformational and I will continue to naturally cultivate my life and make it as beautiful (inside & out) and healthy as possible.
Z: The first thing one notices about you is how naturally stunning you are. The second thing is your pristine, flawless skin. All good genetics, or is there a secret you'd like to share with us?
B:Thank you so much for your kind words! I will have to say that my grandmother is 83 and is still has beautiful skin. She takes such good care of herself and I'm inspired by her. The only secret that I can share is to remember that in all things: "Less is Always More". LESS processed foods + MORE high-quality organic foods from the earth = HEALTH. In your diet, concentrate on filling your plate with organic veggies. If you eat meat, choose organic & free-range and eat less of it. Choose quality over quantity every time. LESS stress about things you cannot control + MORE exercise and positive thinking = PEACE OF MIND. One of my favorite quotes to find peace throughout the day is "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference." LESS of a toxic burden on the body's detoxification system + MORE conscious purchasing of organic, toxin-free and natural beauty, household and wellness products = NATURAL BEAUTY. Green beauty, household, and wellness items may often cost more, but all you need to do is research the ingredients to see why. I prefer to support companies that share the same ethos in business and life that I do. ShopZoeLife is an incredible Aussie-owned company whose values align with mine.
Z: Do you have a morning ritual?
B: Funny enough, I never wash my face with anything other than water in the morning. I always use a water filter (both sink and shower), so I splash my face with cold water upon waking. I then spritz my face with a toner or flower water for hydration and follow with a few drops of serum or moisturizer. Remember, for me less is more, for so many reasons. I have super reactive and sensitive skin. So most days I don't even wear makeup. I like to let my skin breathe as much as possible. I also always sit in the sun for approx. 15 minutes to get a healthy glow and my daily dose of Vitamin D. (I avoid the sun during the strongest hours of the day).
Z: Are there any supplements you take for skin, hair, bones, or general wellness?
B: Oh my gosh, that would be a YES! I'm a devoted fan of Sun Potion wellness products. I add the superfood blends to my morning protein shake. I especially love the Ashitaba and Green Adaptogenic blends. I also take probiotics, digestive enzymes, vitamin D, methyl-folate, omega-fatty acids, magnesium and a multi-vitamin. I'm also a devoted fan of Flower Essences, and take flower remedies from Lotus Wei and Alexis Smart daily.
Z: What is your workout regime?
B: I'm an advocate of Pilates and Yoga. Due to some of the conditions I suffer from, I am limited with what I can do in terms of working out. I have found however, that my body responds very well to stretching and strength training and light walking. I always do little exercises like squatting while I am waiting for my tea water to boil or while brushing my teeth. I'll do leg lifts while I am watching TV. I try to move my body whenever I can, even in little ways.
Z: How did Beauty By Britanie start? What is the driving force behind it?
B: I've been on a quest to holistically heal myself due to the challenges of endometriosis, fibromyalgia, GERD, and anxiety disorder issues since the age of 15. Due to an inability to detox properly because of an MTHFR genetic mutation and compromised digestion, I became dedicated to living a clean and green life and limiting exposure to all toxins. All of this has fueled my passion for helping others deal positively and proactively with their own concerns and that is my #1 driving force behind @beautybybritanie.com
Sharing and connecting with my readers is what makes me the happiest.
Z: Why NATURAL beauty?
B: Only natural beauty for me because once I did the extensive research (EWG's Skin Deep has a plethora of info), I was thoroughly overwhelmed by the ingredients (toxic chemicals, parabens, phthalates, fragrance, etc.) in the products that I was using at the time! I made a firm commitment to myself: 'From this day forward, I will never compromise my health or wellness to look and feel beautiful.'
Z: You're half Aussie and half American; has that affected your perspective on wellness and beauty in any way?
B: Being half Australian has influenced me significantly! What I remember about living in Australia was the down-to-earth, free-spirited approach to life, exercise, and cooking. Aussies know how to have fun, enjoy life and they spend a lot of time outdoors with their families. Parks and beaches are full of families on the weekends having barbeques. The feeling I brought back with me from living "Down Under" is one of living naturally, being uninhibited and always speaking the truth. Australians are noted for saying "say it like it is... unfitered," and I don have any shortage of that quality. For wellness, I remember the abundance of open vegetable markets and the biggest cauliflowers I'd ever seen. My Dad bought one cauliflower head that was the size of five we get here in the US. He split that one vegetable with four families! I definitely brought my love of fresh vegetables back with me, along with my love of simplicity in beauty, food, wellness and life.
Z: Name 5 skincare products you can't live without.
B: Dr. Alkaitis Soothing Gel, S.W. Basics Toner, S.W. Basics Cleanser, May Lindstrom Skin The Blue Cocoon, and Zoe Organics Cream.
Z. What are your top 5 cosmetic products?
B. Modern Minerals Foundation, RMS Beauty Buruti Bronzer, RMS Beauty Living Luminizer, Ilia Beauty Neon Angel Lipstick, and Ilia Beauty In My Room Tinted Lip Conditioner.
Have we piqued your interest? You can get more on Tara by reading her blog, following her on Instagram, or visiting her professional site!
SZL: What inspired you to create your own line?
TM: I’m always looking for better, healthier alternatives for myself and my clients, friends and family. Ariel and Leeona – the Founders of Delizioso Skincare – feel the same way. Our missions really aligned and it inspired The Tara Collection to be born! I feel so privileged to work with the best minds in the business. The line is organic, all natural, vegan and gluten free.
SZL:When did you create your line?
TM: Last Christmas Delizioso sent me a bottle of the perfume – our first item – as a present. I loved it so much that we soon decided to share it with the world, and The Tara Collection was born! We launched a few weeks ago, and I am so taken back with all the loving reviews and feedback so far! The Tara Collection is a collaboration with Delizioso Skincare that includes a perfume, solid perfume, blushing mousse, bronzing mousse, glow body oil and crème luminizer. All the makeup smells really good too, which I love!
SZL: How did you develop your line? Where is it made?
TM: It’s made with love in Canada by Delizioso Skincare. Each organic, natural, raw ingredient is poured for you by hand by their highly trained staff and many times the Founders themselves!
SZL: You have a limited number of SKUs, are there more on the horizon?
TM: We do have a few more in the works for release! I’ve shared a photo of our upcoming 5 free nail polish – Swami’s Blue – on my instagram recently, and I’ve been wearing it like crazy. It gets lots of compliments in person. We also have a few more body care products coming out and are working on some color items for you! I love that Delizioso is up for anything! It’s inspiring where a big imagination can take you!
SZL: All of the items that you sell seem to be in this form (mousse). Do you find that this texture is better for application?
TM: I personally really enjoy mousse-like texture in my beauty products, but I hadn’t found any natural beauty products that had this texture until partnering with Delizioso. The application is better and it makes them perfect for contouring and blending. They’re also immediately multi-purposeful. For instance, I can use the Tara Adorned Blushing Mousse on my lips, cheeks and eyes! Same with the bronzer, luminizer, and the body oil! The perfume also functions as an aromatherapy.
SZL: How do you see the future of the brand?
TM: We have big plans for the future of the brand, but personally I envision beautiful, healthier, more vibrant products that people can love and we can be proud of.
SZL: How did you get into the organic and natural movement?
TM: Just over four years ago I came off a series of medication I had been on since I was a kid. This included prescribed medicine for everything from fibromyalgia, precancerous cells, my moods, my anxiety, ADD, depression, pain – you name it! I got really sick from withdrawal and I had to figure out what to do with my life. Since I couldn’t keep any food down, I quit my 9-5 in NYC and decided I was going to move to Los Angeles and pursue my dreams. I’d never been to LA before – or Southern California for that matter – but instead of stopping me, that thought really inspired me to start over. My new life included a healthy diet, a series of supplements to help my body, a clean beauty cabinet, and a mindful mentality. Before I took my roadtrip to LA, I started meditating daily, I switched to a raw diet and I really started to ramp up my healthy practices, positive thinking and began setting higher standards for myself. When my Dad was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer in 2011, this inspired me to delve even deeper into the healing process. I just finished writing about all of this for my first book, Cured By Nature (Skyhorse Publishing). You can read more about it in January when the book is available.
- Zoe Twitt
This smoothie is a great beginner smoothie for those wanting something a little sweeter while sneaking more greens into their diet.
Pineapple is undeniably one of the best foods you can eat for great skin because it is filled with Vitamin C. I combined it with coconut water, to hydrate the body and skin, added some frozen banana for a dessert-like thickness, and then escorted the spinach in through the back door. But, I promise you won't even notice.
Baobab powder is a nice little addition, and a recent beauty fav of mine. It comprises of 50% fibre, more than three times the amount of vitamin C than an orange, twice as much calcium as milk, contains double the potassium of a banana and is rich in iron and magnesium.
Written by Zoe Twitt
A few months ago I was in a rut with my work. I felt really disconnected with almost everything I was doing in my career. Having those moments where I questioned everything and felt uncertain about my capabilities. I felt like I had no strengths, and the ones I did have, nobody cared about. It seemed like everybody around me was thriving and I was stuck. In turn I leaned on my partner far too much and was unable to gain clarity. I wasn't sure what to do, when it hit me that I had so many tools and resources to really get me out of that negative, useless space. I reached out to a teacher of mine who has dedicated his whole life to living and studying yoga. I told him I wanted to chat about the direction of my spirituality, so we did. Hanging out on the floor of the yoga studio after class, we talked about the art of being.
I've learned lately that the art of being involves two things:
+Shifting the language around the state of your life
There was one thought that has stayed with me since that conversation, that has helped me with the "stuckness" of my life. "You cannot think your way into things." That's exactly what I was doing. Every time I felt something was going wrong in my life I said to myself, "ok, what action can I take to get myself out of this place." And it really isn't about actively changing anything, it's about stillness. I was given a homework assignment that was to be completed daily. It consisted of three things:
+30 minutes Asana
+10 minutes Pranayama
+10 minutes Meditation
To be honest with you I don't do these things every day. I strive to, and most days I do. Since setting these to-do's into place, I have naturally added a few more things that help me find stillness each day. I connect with nature, breathe fresh air, read, and write. Finding time each day to breathe and relax helps my life evolve in the way it was intended. You absolutely have to let life's plan unfold on their own. That's not to the same as being passive, let's be clear about that part. But knowing that the universe is supporting your dreams is a really powerful thing to remember. When I ask my mentor how to get the answers, all he says is "practice. practice. practice." These three things I practice. When that feeling of doubt and fear starts to surface, stillness has a place.
I feel like these tools allow me to escape the chaotic mind, the lost feeling, the role of the victim, and mainly the ego. Gabrielle Bernstein said in her lecture last week, "you don't need to be at rock bottom to want more in your life." I love this. I love that even though things can seemingly be going well, you can still want more, you can strive to be better. Try these tips and see what unfolds.
Written by Clare Anderson of Lionheart Whole Living
We all need help detoxing the body but we may not have the time or desire to go on a strict diet, juice cleanse, or fast. Stimulating the lymphatic system is a simple, often overlooked way to maintain healthy skin and a healthy body.
The lymph system is the body’s drainage system and is one of the most important elements of wellness. It’s designed to remove toxic waste from every single cell as well as keep the immune system strong. Almost all conditions and disease can be linked to a congested lymphatic system.
Symptoms of Lymphatic Congestion:
• Acne and rashes
• Puffy eyes
• Bloating, gas, poor digestion
•Achy Joints/Pain and stiffness
• Swelling -glands, hands, feet, breasts, whole body
• Chronic colds, sore throats, decreased immunity
• Autoimmune disease and Cancer
Any of these sound familiar?
How to De-Congest the Lymph: If the body is not able to consistently remove waste we become toxic and that’s when the symptoms of congestion appear. It is imperative that we de-congest the lymph to prevent future damage and illness. Taking daily consistent action to support the lymphatic system will keep the lymph running smoothly and set you up for ultimate wellness.
There are a few ways to de-congest the lymph, but the top two are to stay hydrated and exercise. The number one cause of lymph congestion is dehydration.
The best way to de-congest the lymph and rehydrate is to sip hot water every 10-15 minutes throughout the day for 2 weeks. To make it easy, keep a thermos of hot water with you at all times. In addition to this remedy, aim to drink half your body weight in ounces every day.
Exercise will also help move the lymph and is one of the easiest ways to keep this system working efficiently. The most ideal lymph moving exercises are rebounding on a trampoline and yoga. If that’s not ideal or accessible go for a walk or turn up the music and dance around your house!