i had an epiphany to give back!

when asked if there was a specific charity i know of and want to support, two places immediately came to mind: epiphany center and friendship house. many of my loved ones and close friends have recovered from an addiction to drugs and/or alcohol. i know how hard it is to get sober! there have been times where i felt that without the support of my community, i would not have been able to start my walk on the path towards success. for example, i am not sure if i could have left my previous career to start the journey toward being an esthetician if i didn’t have my loved ones cheering for me along the way!

change is scary and deciding to address an addiction is not only making a commitment to change but also relearning how to interact in this world. for this reason, getting clean is much more than just putting down the alcohol or drugs – and these two programs focus on the human as a whole, versus solely the addiction.

epiphany center provides holistic care to those who are struggling by focusing on multiple types of growth: physical, social-emotional, intellectual and spiritual! they have a residential recovery program for women and their young children that provides everything from vocational training groups to auricular acupuncture. their goals, in their words, are simply: “to keep children safe, to strengthen parent-child relationships and to keep families together by reducing risk factors.” in doing so, they impact the future of our community.

 

friendship house association of american indians is “dedicated to stopping the cycle of dysfunction that has been passed down from one generation to the next”. they don’t see their clients as simply clients, but instead as family. they have an 80-bed residential facility that people can stay in for up to 6 months. during this time, they work to empower themselves through resume development, computer training, job training and housing assistance.

whether or not you or a loved one has struggled with addiction, it is evident that the goals these two companies have are commendable! the goal is to help treat the addiction to empower the human. interestingly enough, skinSALVATION has the same idea – help treat the skin to empower the human. a donation to these organizations expands their programs to reach a greater population in need.

if you would like to help, you can donate directly to the epiphany center or friendship house.

how to be a happy acne-safe camper (plus tips for burning man)

so you wanna be an acne-safe camper, eh? you’ve come to the right place! camping season is well under way here in the bay area. with burning man just around the corner, it’s time for an updated guide to experiencing the wilderness in an acne-safe fashion. i just got back from a week-long camping and backpacking adventure in the glorious yosemite backcountry, where i didn’t let my acne-safe lifestyle ruin my fun. experiencing the bountiful nature that california has to offer is one of the many privileges of living in the bay area, but there’s no need to derail all of the hard work you’ve put into achieving clear skin just for a few days off the grid. here are some essential acne-safe camping tips from a pro backpacker!

camping in the summer heat is a perfect excuse to ice your face. it’s cool, it’s refreshing and once others see how much fun you’re having, they’ll want to join right in. since it’s not always practical to travel with your sS ice pop, we recommend bringing plenty of clean ziplock bags, putting fresh ice directly inside and then placing them in your cooler. when you’re ready to ice, pop out some clean ice cubes and go to town, inflammation be damned!

plan your meals. seriously. just do it. here is a sample meal plan from my last camping trip. planning your meals ahead of time ensures that you bring exactly enough food for the number of days you’ll be camping so you won’t go hungry and you won’t have an excuse to eat a ton of dairy and soy. bring acne-safe packaged foods that don’t need a ton of preparation – epic bars for protein, trail mix for good fat, hard boiled eggs, low-sugar fruit and cans of sardines (truly). and yes, you can enjoy some soy-free smores around the campfire at night, too.

greet the day with some fresh herbal or black tea. revel in your body’s chance to reset its circadian rhythms to match the cycles of the sun and moon.

bathe in the refreshing waters of nearby lakes and streams. this is a great way to reset if you’re feeling like your hygiene game is suffering. you can rinse away any dirt or dust and follow up your dip with a swipe of some sS hydrating toner and sunscreen.

and don’t forgot your product essentials. pick ’em up from the sS clinic before you begin your camping adventures:

  1. for sun protection, along with layers and a hat, we recommend amping up your spf by using sS safeguard spf40 for your face and goddess garden sunscreen for your body. their sport line is water resistant up to 80 minutes and is completely biodegradable so you can splash around in some cool alpine lakes with nary a worry. don’t forget to protect those luscious lips with our lip balm and reapply as needed. always seek shade when possible and get yourself a good pair of sunglasses.
  2. if you’ve been out hiking all day and anticipate sore muscles the next morning, pop a magnesium pill or two before bed. this will ease any bodily tension and help you sleep peacefully.
  3. if you’re worried about mosquitoes, grab some greener ways bug spray, an organic and safe alternative to deet and picaridin.
  4. if you won’t have access to clean water for bathing, bring along our hydrating or sterilizing toners and some toner pads to freshen up throughout the day. if you’re on the road and don’t have access to these products, yes to cucumbers face wipes will work in a pinch.
  5. feeling like your hair is melting into a colossal oil slick? bring along a homemade arrowroot starch dry shampoo in a small jar to apply as often as necessary. combine 1/4 cup arrowroot starch with 5 drops of essential oil of your choice (lavender, cedarwood, etc) and store in an airtight jar for the duration of your trip. for dark hair, combine 2 tablespoons arrowroot plus 2 tablespoons cacao powder with the essential oils. experiment and find what works for you!1

 

but what about burning man? the dusty environment of “la playa” is an entirely different ballpark from heading out onto the foggy, fragrant trails of marin with a few friends. so here are some burning man-specific tips and tricks to stay acne safe.

  1. stay hydrated internally and externally. bring at least a gallon of water per person per day and hydrate your skin frequently with sS hydrating cream to combat the dusty dry landscape. bring along some rosewater hydrosol and spritz your face all throughout the day. and don’t forget to ice your face!
  2. stay sun-safe. bring several hats – you don’t want to be caught in the desert without one! reapply safeguard spf40 sunscreen and sS lip balm often and bring some acne-safe aloe just in case you burn.
  3. deal with the dust. bring sunflower oil in a tiny jar to dab in your nostrils and to moisturize your feet at night – you can avoid “playa foot” by keeping all nooks and crannies of your skin moisturized constantly. wear gloves and goggles to avoid getting too dusty and dirty, and bring a few bandanas as protection when the wind picks up.
  4. stay clean. since you probably won’t have access to a shower (unless you have a very kind neighbor with a solar shower), bring an extra tub to fill with water for makeshift “showers” and foot baths. bring some sS hydrating toner with toner pads to freshen up throughout the day.
  5. plan out your meals ahead of time so you only bring what you need. bring snacks and food that need little preparation and pack your cooler full of acne-safe food so you aren’t tempted to snag a bite of your friend’s dairy-filled lunch.
  6. sleep well. if you’re a light sleeper, pack some ear plugs to drown out the rowdy campers. pack extra pillow cases to switch out over the course of the week and bring layers for the nighttime temperature drop
  7. most importantly, relax, enjoy the festivities, and have a good time! plan to come in for a treatment 7-10 days after you get back so your skin has a chance to heal from the sun exposure.

how do you enjoy nature while staying acne-safe? 

footnotes

1. dry shampoo recipe adapted from mommypotamus

helping our friends of friends of albania

each month skinSALVATION gives to a cause personally close to a team member’s heart. this month we were able to help an organization that has been a huge part of my brother’s life. in 2009, my older brother (who i always thought was a super human) joined the peace corps and started his 27 month assignment in albania. he came back speaking a hybrid of albanian and english, hand-in-hand with his now fiance and bragging about being named “personazh i viti” (person of the year) by the mayor. a piece of his heart was left an ocean away and he wanted to find a way to stay involved. that was when they both found Friends of Albania, a non-profit organization that connects previous peace corps volunteers to current volunteers to support small, community-driven projects.

both have been active members for over five years now and have since taken on leadership roles. alex, my brother’s fiance is president and my brother, brett is treasurer. it wasn’t until recently that i really understood how impactful these projects were to the albanian community. the nation is still adjusting post-communism and this organization encourages community, equality and positive growth.
the most recent grant was used to rehabilitate two community parks to create safe, clean and fun public spaces for the village youth to hang out. not only did this project create a playground for a local kindergarten where more than 80 kids play every day, but nearly 200 members of the community came together to create the space.
the project before that was a youth radio exchange designed to encourage youth involvement with digital media and inspire the creation of diverse creative content. many local tv/radio stations have been running since the 80’s when the country was still under communism and content was heavily monitored and regulated. this opened the conversation of past and present media and got participants excited to create new, quality content.
for information on how you can get involved, feel free to contact me or visit www.friendsofalbania.net.