care for yourself by caring for others

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i have found that when life is busy, even with wonderful things and people i love, it can feel hectic and overwhelming. doing things that aren’t alllll about me ends up being a great way to slow my mind and relax. magically, i’ve found that helping others is an unexpected form of self-care!
for a couple of years i volunteered at project open hand (poh) once a week. poh is a non-profit that was founded in 1985 and delivers food to seniors and people battling critical illness. they also provide daily meals at their locations in san francisco and oakland. this is not your average food kitchen! poh collaborated with UC san francisco school of medicine in a study published in january of 2017. the study demonstrated how nutritious food has healing powers that are crucial for helping the critically ill.
volunteering at poh proved to be a wonderful break from my hectic schedule, where i could play just a teensy role in getting food prepped to be provided to people in need. while helping out in the kitchen, i primarily peeled and chopped vegetables. in the grocery center i sorted and packed food in the warehouse – both activities were super simple but extremely fulfilling!
in addition to the awesome kitchen, grocery center and meal deliveries, poh also has a radical indoor greenhouse at the polk street location. it’s unlike any greenhouse i’ve seen before – reminding me of a science fiction movie! it has veggies planted in these wheels, which rotate at a slow pace around the light in the center.
the greenhouse garden grows veggies like red sails leaf lettuce, freckles romaine lettuce, basil and micro greens. it can produce a lot of leafy greens at once! for example, if they dedicate all space on the wheel for basil and then use all the leaves produced for a sauce, it can be used in up to 1,400 meals! to see the awesome video that explains how it works, click here.
to help the cause, please click here to donate and here for more information on how to start volunteering! also, if you’re in the mood for a tear jerker, here’s a heartwarming video that gives a more complete idea of how project open hand changes lives – https://www.openhand.org/about-us
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empact northwest is a non-profit organization providing immediate disaster response, rescue training and medical education for underserved communities. one of skinSALVATION’s AMAZING clients volunteers with this organization and was in haiti last year helping rebuild the community!
founded in 2010 in response to the haiti earthquake, empact is dedicated to providing technical rescue service, direct medical care and education around the world to those who need it most, regardless of national or political affiliation.
they strive to complete their mission with minimum bureaucracy and a maximum involvement of volunteers. empact also offers training to fire department, law enforcement, search and rescue, and other emergency response personnel. they welcome input, so if you have suggestions please contact them by sending an email here.
 on sept 9th, empact posted this update on their facebook page regarding relief and aid provided during this brutal hurricane season: 

-hurricane harvey: all empact personnel have returned from the texas/louisiana border area.-hurricane

-hurricane irma: empact is actively monitoring the situation in partnership with the cajun navy and offering what assistance we can. It is our hope that residents of florida have heeded the warnings and evacuated.

-mexico earthquake: empact continues to monitor the situation in southern mexico in partnership with INSARAG and the UN OCHA. no request for international assistance has been made yet.

as you can see, empact is helping communities all over the place and needs support! to donate to their mission click here.

clear skin: back to school edition

september is right around the corner and we all know what that means. at the first signs of brisk mornings and fallen leaves crunching beneath our feet, we know it’s time to pick up some last-minute supplies and head off to school once again. we have a ton of clients who attend high school or college, or who take night classes here in the bay area as a step towards a new career. whatever your educational status, we’ve got some tips for staying acne-safe while hitting the books. 

first things first: schedule your face treatments. if you are moving away for the school year, get yourself into the clinic for a treatment asap! our estheticians are popular and their schedules book up fast, so try to make your appointment for a face treatment sooner rather than later. if you’re sticking around the bay area, but you know it’s going to be increasingly difficult to make the trek to the clinic because of rigorous school deadlines, try to book your appointments in advance and away from more hectic times like finals and midterms. coming home for the holidays? think ahead and make an appointment as soon as you buy your plane ticket. that a way, you don’t have to worry about booking an appointment at the last minute when you’re already in town. 

okay, what about caffeine? caffeine is okay in moderation, but our number one rule is: no coffee. not only can the particular acids in coffee (including decaf) contribute to acne, coffee causes cortisol spikes that can throw your hormonal and adrenal functions off kilter. i know it’s tempting to chug some fortified espresso beverage just to push through that 3am essay-writing frenzy, but there are so many other caffeinated options out there! matcha is nearly ubiquitous these days, so try to find a cafe that offers this delicious brain booster. chai tea lattes with almond milk are another great option. i know that it can be difficult to abstain from coffee while studying to be the world’s next best lawyer/philosopher/doctor, but you can do it! i stopped drinking coffee cold turkey smack dab in the middle of my graduate program, and it wasn’t easy at first. but after the adjustment phase, i found that my energy sustained much more evenly throughout the day while consuming only green tea. after a while, i didn’t need any stimulants and i could focus on my work much more intently. try it out!

if you don’t have a hot plate for boiling water, invest in an inexpensive electric kettle. make your morning matcha, stow it away in a hydro flask and skip to class with boundless energy! in the evening, sip on some tea with calming herbs like lemon balm and chamomile to bring your cortisol levels down.

how about food? i bet you are wondering how to cook an acne-safe meal in your dorm room when you only have a microwave, maybe a hot plate. this is where trader joe’s comes in. if you lack the space and tools to prep veggies, grab a pack of tj’s mini carrots, some pre-spiralized sweet potato or zucchini, saute them in some ghee or pop them in the microwave with some tj’s chicken thighs and you’ve got yourself an acne-safe meal in minutes. grab a handful of trail mix to snack on throughout the day or become a cheese-less sandwich master. if you have a freezer in your dorm room, stock up on their inexpensive organic frozen vegetables. pair their frozen riced cauliflower with a dairy-free vegetable curry or steam some frozen spinach in the microwave to serve over brown rice pasta with tomato sauce. get creative! their packaged frozen meals can be helpful in a pinch, but watch out for hidden dairy and soy in the ingredients. you can also save some extra cash by heading to your local natural grocer and hitting the bulk bin section. stock up on snacks, granola for breakfast (with almond milk, of course), rice, dried fruit, etc. 

just remember: when you live in a dorm, canned food is your friend. if you’ve got the space, keep some essentials on hand for when you are too busy to cook a huge meal. if you have access to a dining hall, use it! most colleges offer fresh vegetables and grilled meat, tacos, even dairy-free pizza – tons of acne-safe options if you look for ’em! but if you prefer to cook for yourself, you might need a couple of gadgets to get the job done. scour amazon for a magic bullet if you are a smoothie person, invest in a hot plate if you prefer sautéing your veggies to microwaving, or better yet, get an instant pot, which allows you to do everything from sauté to steam to slow cook!

but school is stressful! yes, school can be a deeply stressful environment. it’s quite romantic to dream of the academic atmosphere steeped in late nights, bottomless espresso drinks and strict deadlines. but this high-strung lifestyle is anything but acne-safe. managing your time and practicing self-care are essential for maintaining both your sanity and your calm. why is stress management so important? because stress, like coffee, causes our adrenals to churn out more cortisol than we need floating around our bloodstreams. this creates an inflammatory state in the body while elevating male sex hormones, like dht, which contributes to oily skin and acne. so check your stress at the dorm door! if you are getting ready to endure a particularly stressful time, take some zyflamend (the herbal supplement we love that combats systemic inflammation). find the time to take up a relaxation practice – look into free or sliding-scale yoga and meditation classes on campus and try to get rid of those nasty procrastination habits. waiting until the last minute to complete papers and to study for exams can lead to unhealthy behaviors that are not great for the skin, like skimping on sleep, relying on caffeine to stay awake and eating foods with dairy. schedule extra time for essays and projects so that you don’t run into these stressors. 

exercise and community are also important for stress-reduction. join a club or a sports team to get some extra social time in if you are feeling overwhelmed. combining socializing and movement in one go can be a huge time-saver – take a yoga class with a friend or go on a hike with some classmates to talk about midterms. and if you go to the gym, remember to pack travel sizes of your sS products for your gym bag so you can rinse off after working out. school is stressful, so always contact student mental health services to chat with a counselor for some help wading through the difficulties of student life. check out this post for more stress-relief tips!

 

how do i take care of my skin? stocking up on skin products before you leave for school is always a good idea. but if you forget, or if you just don’t have time to make it into the clinic, remember that you can always order products online through our website and have us ship them to you. so easy! if you are moving to a colder, drier climate for school, stock up on extra moisture – hydrating cream and safeguard spf40 will do wonders to keep your skin glowing throughout the darkest months. and if you’re lucky enough to be heading to a warm place with lots of sun, try a lighter sunscreen like tizo2 or tizo3 – these products will help soak up any extra moisture on your skin leftover from hot and humid climates.

questions while you’re away? if you find that you need some extra help from your esthetician while you’re gone, never hesitate to email her – we are always happy to answer skin questions and troubleshoot issues from afar. we love the virtual popzit appointment! and remember to always check back on our blog and instagram for new info related to clear skin and tips for leading an acne-safe lifestyle. it’s a great resource – if you’ve got a question about acne, chances are, we’ve written about it! 

stay healthy, stay clear and enjoy the school year! 

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.

gratuity questions answered

over the years, many clients have asked for guidance when it comes to gratuity given the clinical nature of our work. hopefully, this post will shed some light on the subject.
in general, 20% of the service price is the industry standard for tipping estheticians but many clients tend to leave more or less based on their own comfort level. our estheticians rely on tips to make up about 25% of their yearly income in order to afford living in the bay area.  we tip 20% for restaurants, hair stylist, massage therapist, why not your esthetician that changes your life by helping you clear up your skin?
your tips go a long way to support our therapists who would otherwise be making much more in a traditional day spa setting where they would be receiving 20+% tips on every service in addition to sales commissions on products and upgraded services. estheticians at sS do not receive any commission or percentage of product sales because this type of incentive encourages selling products that our clients may not need.
we appreciate your continued support!

 

extra help in the kitchen for eating acne-safe

with our busy lives we are all looking for ways that make it easier to stick to an acne-safe diet. here are some kitchen appliances and recipes that can help!
must haves:

vitamix: making soups, smoothies, sauces and dips is a breeze. you need a high speed blender in your life. vitamix blenders are pricey but they are worth every penny. think of all the money you’ll save once you start making fancy juice bar smoothies at home.

favorite recipes:
quick and easy smoothie – 1/2 frozen banana (i cut it into chunks before freezing), 1 scoop of this protein powder, 8-10 oz of this almond/cashew milk – run on the smoothie setting.
refreshing lovely skin smoothie – 2 scoops collagen powder, 10 oz coconut water, frozen fruit of your choice
 
delicious dessert smoothie – 3 dried black mission figs (soaked in warm water until soft), 12oz of this almond/cashew milk, 1-3 TBSP raw cacao powder (depending on how chocolatey you like it), 1/2 tsp vanilla extract, pinch of salt. run on the smoothie setting.
refreshing easy smoothie – 8-12 oz coconut water, a handful of frozen fruit – run on smoothie setting

instant pot: i use this 4-in-1 steamer/slow cooker/pressure cooker/saute pot everyday, sometimes several times a day. it gets way more action than my stove or oven. you can cook a whole chicken in 30 minutes, make amazing soups, pot roast, acne-safe indian food, spaghetti squash noodles and just about anything else you can think of.
 favorite recipes:
tikka masala – i use this acne-safe yogurt in place of the coconut milk/heavy cream
saag paneer – i use kite hill’s soft fresh original variety of acne-safe cheese alternative in place of paneer and the coyo – acne safe yogurt alternative in place of the yogurt in the recipe. for the cheese, cut it into 1 inch cubes, coat with some olive oil, dust with garam masala and bake on parchment paper at about 350 for 10 minutes, then turn the cubes once and bake again for another 10 minutes.
mexican meatloaf – serve with cilantro springs, chopped green onions and a squeeze of fresh lime juice.
all these are really good over spaghetti squash, cauliflower rice or zucchini noodles, cauliflower mashed “potatoes” (use ghee instead of butter if you can)
nice to haves:
rice cooker : for making kasha or buckwheat groats, the most delicious gluten-free breakfast porridge that you never heard of. my husband and i take this little gadget with us when we travel and it’s been a life saver. you can also make buckwheat groats in the instant pot but it’s a little tougher to travel with.
 favorite recipes:
sweet breakfast groats – 2 cups coconut milk, one cup toasted buckwheat groats (sold as kasha), a little cinnamon, salt, raisins and whatever else sounds yummy. you just put all the ingredients into the rice cooker and turn it on. it stops cooking automatically when it’s done. if you make it in the instant pot then you lock the top and set it to high pressure for 10 minutes and then do the quick release when its done.
savory breakfast groatsbasically make these the same way as the sweet ones (without the raisins, cinnamon, etc) but instead of coconut milk, use chicken broth, beef broth, bone broth or veggie broth and add salt to taste. it’s also really good with a soft cooked egg on top.
spiralizer and/or food processor: i have witnessed the inflammatory effect of simple carbs like pasta first hand and i’ve seen it time and again with our clients. as you may already know, the first things acne sufferers need change about their diet is avoiding soy, dairy and coffee. a very close second is cutting way down on sugar and simple carbs. this is so much easier when you have a substitute for those comforting pasta and rice dishes. enter the spiralizer and food processor. with the spiralizer you can make oodles of zucchini and summer squash noodles or you can get really fancy and try cucumber noodles, carrot noodles, rutabaga noodles and sweet potato noodles. with the food processor making cauliflower rice is a breeze. i also love to make the carrot and fennel salad listed below with the food processor about once a month.
 favorite recipes:
carrot and fennel salad – i don’t bother with the mandolin slicer. i just shred the carrot and fennel together in the food processor.