5 Healthy Summer Skin Habits

I hope you enjoy this article - it features some Angelica & Peony skin care products, but as always, I include DIY alternatives. This went out to my subscribers last month - sign up here to get my monthly newsletter with articles like this, product specials and sales and interesting news in natural beauty and wellness. -Kirsten

A classical principle of Chinese medicine and many holistic systems is to be in harmony with our environment - what our body needs at midwinter is not the same as midsummer, in a tropical rainforest not the same as a windswept prairie, at 25 not the same as at 65! Approach your skin with this attitude and you'll be rewarded with happier, healthier skin.

Habit 1: Smart Hydration. If it's hotter you're sweating more, and if you're in a dry or windy climate, you'll be even more likely to need water. If you'd like some ideas of cooling drinks that are acupuncturist approved, check out this article I wrote last summer during a heat wave.

Habit 2: Cleansing with Oil. Smog, makeup, dust, sunblock... there's lots of reasons to want to wash your face in summer! The oil cleansing method uses natural oils to gently cleanse your skin while maintaining its natural balance and leaving it moisturized and soothed. Watch my video about how to use facial serums to cleanse and treat your skin. If you find your skin is more oily or acne prone during humid summer weather, or if a facial serum feels too oily in the heat, switch to this method and forgo separate moisturizing. I use 3-in-1 Serum during the summer, especially at the end of a grimy day, but you can also concoct your own oil blend as described in this great article about OCM.

Habit 3: Facials from the Farmers Market. Use seasonal produce to whip up some yummy face masks for your skin type: (follow any of these decadent treatments with an Angelica & Peony facial serum)

Nourishing Peach Mask for Dry & Mature Skin: puree peaches and add sesame oil. Apply to face for 5-10 minutes and then rinse clean.
Renewing Strawberry Mask for Dull Skin: mash fresh strawberries with yogurt and apply to face for 5 minutes before washing clean.

Join me at the Manzanita Collective open house July 16 where I'll be demo-ing farmers market facials in the afternoon!

Habit 4: Tea Treatments: Ease summertime issues like bug bites, allergies and sunburn with herbal washes aka cooled tea. Try chrysanthemum blossom to rinse itchy, irritated eyes, mint for itchy bites, and black tea to ease a sunburn. Make a cup or mason jar of tea, and let it cool completely before using.

Habit 5: Practice Safe Sun: Sun damage takes its toll over time, as well as increasing skin cancer risks. However sun exposure is vital to our health, both physical and emotional,and there's increasing understanding that our 'sun-phobia' has led to unexpected health problems, especially in Northern countries. Many experts recommend 10-15 minutes a day of sun on your bare skin, depending on where you are on the globe and your skin tone. This overview of the science and debates about sun exposure is a fascinating read, and has more information and guidance.

As always, treat your skin with love and respect, and consult a practitioner for any medical concerns (email me if you'd like help finding someone in your area.)

Shine on!

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TCM Talk for February: Radiant, Natural Skin Care!

Did you know that the average woman in the industrialized world is directly exposed to hundreds of carcinogenic, hormone disrupting and skin and organ harming chemicals every day? With virtually no oversight, cosmetic and personal care companies, especially in the US, are able to use a toxic cocktail of ingredients in products that are applied directly to the body, where they immediately affect our whole systems.

There are alternatives! With savvy product choices, dietary changes, alternative treatments and big doses of self-love and acceptance, we can break out of the skin care toxin trap and get our glow naturally!

Join Denise Cicuto of Cicuto Acupuncture and I for TCM Talk, our Periscope channel where you can join us for live discussions, demos and Q&As, focusing all February on radiant, healthy skin, naturally.

On February 11 at 4 pm PST, we'll be talking about detoxing your skin care, showing you how to use natural daily routines to get beautiful skin without the junk, and how acupuncture and herbs can help tackle serious skin issues like eczema, psoriasis, acne, rosacea and more.

On February 25 at 4 pm PST, we'll answer viewer mail about natural skin care, Chinese medicine for skin issues and whatever else you want to know - so please send questions! Comment here, ask on social media, or email TraditionalChineseMedicineTalk@gmail.com.

Find recordings of all our broadcasts, as well as links to everything we mention on the show, on our Pinterest Board, bit.ly/periscopepins.

Follow TCM Talk on Twitter and Facebook, and send us questions or ideas for future shows!


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Friday Roundup: December 4

What I've been reading, writing, thinking about and indulging in this week.

There's never any shortage of awful things happening in the world. This week I decided to use my skills and my business to try to make a difference. Read about LOVE Balm and purchase some if you'd like to help me support Black Lives Matter and the National Network of Abortion Funds. (The first batch sold out in a few hours, but I'm making more!)

Positivity: Wow, I really appreciated reading this article about 9 good things that happened this week.

Getting Hairy: Since I started selling beard oil, I've gotten to know the world of beards in greater detail than I ever imagined! I enjoyed this myth-busting article about ridiculous things we heard about beards in 2015. No, they are not full of poop (but you should still wash your beard!)

Press for Emotional First Aid: AcuTake Health has a great series on acupressure. Their latest post is a timely one on Pericardium 8, a point that can relieve emotional distress. I like to do this with a friend and add a little healing acupressure to the comfort of holding hands.

And... Angelica & Peony's Healing Oils got a great review from Behind The Scenes Beauty, gift sets  have popped up in Southern California at Enspirit Wellness, and A&P is part of the new Bloom Box handmade botanical subscription box!  If you'd like to try some handmade skincare, healthcare and pampering, now's the time! Use code LOVERULES to get free shipping on everything in the store until December 18!

Have a great weekend!

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Friday Roundup, November 13

What I've been reading, writing, thinking about and indulging in this week

This week has been a lot of getting ready for the Opal Street Center Holiday Fair tomorrow! I'm excited to meet and try the wares of all my fellow herbalists and makers. Check out the whole list here.

Chennai's Traditional Medicine Kits for Mums: Hospitals in Chennai, India are distributing 'kits' to expectant mothers, with herbal medicine and tonic foods for health during pregnancy and after birth. "Under the scheme, a woman who seeks medical care for pregnancy in a government hospital can opt for supportive care from a Siddha practitioner in the institution. The woman will be evaluated by the practitioner and provided a kit containing herbal tonics, tablets and in later stages of pregnancy and post-delivery oils for external application."

Behind the Scenes Beauty: This week I got to meet up with an awesome local talent - Amy Bobeda - a cosmetologist and theatre professional, Amy runs the Behind the Scenes Beauty Blog. As a sometimes scruffy herbalist who longs for perfectly groomed brows, I am digging her most recent article about how to get perfect brows on the cheap!

Have a great weekend!

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Friday Roundup - August 28

What I've been reading, writing, thinking about and indulging in this week.

True Beauty: It was super awesome to lift up my friend and colleague Prajna Choudhury, L.Ac, and get her inspiring take on the meaning of beauty when I talked with her about Acupuncture for Beauty, aka facial rejuvenation acupuncture (and she uses A&P facial serums to help her do it!)

Sleeping well: I shared this Western research from a study showing that acupuncture can relieve menopausal insomnia. I believe there's limitations to what Western style studies can show us about the effectiveness of acupuncture and other holistic treatments, but it still always interests me to see the results of this kind of research.

Toxic Cover-up: My products are part of my own and my customers quest to lessen the toxic load we're asking our bodies to deal with. But this horrifying article about Teflon from The Intercept shows the limits of personal choices when corporations are hiding the truth about the individual and environmental effects of their products.  

Fig Delight: I revelled in the seasonal bounty of California with this amazing dessert, no recipe needed: fresh figs stuffed with goat cheese and lemon zest, topped with honey and pinenuts. YUM!

Have a great weekend!

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Acupuncture for Beauty - "I'm Loving my Face!"

My friend and colleague Prajna Choudhury L.Ac, is a healer, herbalist and thinker that I love and respect - so I’ve been wanting to share some of her wisdom with Angelica & Peony! We chatted a few days ago about the acupuncture facial rejuvenation work she does in her practice - and dove into issues of Chinese Medicine, healing, feminism, self-acceptance and the vibrational frequency of facial serums!

Prajna practices in Oakland California at Energy Matters Acupuncture and Qi Gong, and she’s my acupuncturist as well as my friend.

How did you first become interested in facial rejuvenation acupuncture?

I began doing facial rejuvenation as a student intern at Yo San University. I studied with Dr. Yue Ying Li, a gifted dermatologist and facial rejuvenation practitioner, and patients began asking me for it. I continued my training and practice of facial acupuncture after graduation when I worked on a cruise ship.

In the first years of my practice, I began studying with Virginia Doran, teacher of constitutional facial acupuncture.That really changed everything! Her techniques are amazing. Her teaching is truly grounded in the medicine, and politically and spiritually I really resonated with her approach.

Can you say more about the politics and spirituality of  facial acupuncture?!

People hear about facial rejuvenation acupuncture and they sometimes put it in the same box as surgical face lift, or botox, which are the opposite of what we do here.  I’m thrilled to give people safe, natural, and health-promoting alternatives to these kinds of treatments.  We all care about beauty - and we don’t need to buy into the belief that that requires doing harm to ourselves, physically or psychically.

There’s a certain feminist philosophy, rooted in the second wave of the seventies, that really opposed practices that were perceived as being about external looks or conventional ideas of femininity. It was the “flip side of the coin” of notions of feminine beauty that came from a patriarchal system. In most things, I’m more interested in the ‘grey areas’ between black and white thinking.

Instead of rejecting beauty altogether because of oppressive standards that exist, third wave/post-colonial feminism celebrates and encourages our diversity and external expressions of our inner life. To me, it's about reclaiming what beauty is: that beauty is not skin deep, not superficial, not about making ourselves into something that we're not. Beauty to me is really about allowing the radiance of our spirits shine through our countenance. Beauty is all around us in nature. And that beauty is also inside of us.

It bugs me that beauty is so gendered in our society… true beauty is important for people of all genders! I've had cis-gender, straight and gay men, as well as transgender men come to me for facial rejuvenation - it's not just for women. To me facial rejuvenation is about increasing happiness and well-being of body, mind, and spirit and allowing that to radiate outward through our face, through the spirit that shines out of our eyes.

Wow! That’s a great way of framing it. Can you say more about what the experience of this kind of treatment is like?

Well, we get body work on our bodies, massage, acupuncture - but who touches our face?! It's very nurturing and nourishing - we use our facial muscles more than any other muscles - and we hold a lot of stress and tension in our faces. So it's about allowing some relaxation of the tension in our faces, allowing nurturing and nourishment. From a Chinese medicine standpoint, dealing with excesses like muscle tension, and also deficiencies, allowing the yin and the blood to really innervate the face. You can see that by way of increasing collagen and moisture.

I do two kinds of treatment - Virgina Doran's style which is very intensive and at Energy Matters we call ‘Facelift Acupuncture’. I also do Acupuncture Facial Rejuvenation or AFR which is less intensive, uses fewer needles, and is combined with an herbal facial treatment. The AFR series brings an overall glow to the face, increases collagen, reduces fine lines, and evens out colouring. Facelift Acupuncture really addresses the effects of gravity and a lifetime of stress and emotions showing up in our faces - so, deeper wrinkles as well as sagging. It lifts everything - in Chinese medicine terms it treats the falling of spleen qi constitutionally, not only in the face. It's a strongly raising treatment - so I screen out folks with yang rising symptoms including high blood pressure or migraines - they are better suited to the AFR series. And in both treatments, I incorporate facial massage. In AFR, the herbal facial is followed by a tuina massage, which is gentle and has an energetic healing component, and with Facelift Acupuncture, it's more of a deep tissue massage to help release muscle tension in the face, using essential oils that are beneficial for the skin.

How do people typically respond to the treatment? And what age can folks start this kind of care?

Yes, that's me getting a treatment!

Yes, that's me getting a treatment!

As with all acupuncture, different people respond differently, and people respond better when they do a course of treatment and follow that with maintenance. In general, I see all of my patients have increased collagen and a ‘dewiness’ to their faces. You can start at any age! I used to sometimes say 'you don't need this!' to younger patients, recommending the milder AFR rather than the more intensive Facelift Acupuncture treatments. But one of my Facelift patients, who is 60 years old, said to me ‘I wish I knew about this 20 years ago - it really works and would have been a great preventative!’ And she is right! In classical Chinese medicine texts, around 30 is when the yang ming channels of the face stop bringing nourishment to the face, so that would be an ideal time to begin - that age would be a great time to start, with a preventative focus - once a season, or once a month, and then incorporating a treatment series/course if needed as time goes by. Preventative treatment is always the best!

What are some unexpected benefits you see? 

It's acupuncture! Every facial rejuvenation treatment, we're doing a health intake, I'm looking at tongue and pulse, recommending herbs if needed, so it’s just regular healing acupuncture with an added focus on the face. So patients find that their energy is better, stress and aches and pains reduced, digestion and sleep improved; everything acupuncture is good for, this is good for!

Patients also often tell me, 'I'm loving my face!' which makes me so happy to hear! Unfortunately, what often brings people in to this kind of treatment is that they're not feeling happy with themselves and their faces. Besides the tangible or visible results, something happens where people are able to be more loving towards themselves. I often hear patients say they 'feel their face' - they used to feel a disconnection between their head and their body, and now they feel the energy in their face. One of my long term patients decided to stop colouring her gray hair following treatments - she discovered a new place of self-acceptance, feeling good about herself and loving herself as she is. And this is something I see again and again. It's not like people are getting facial rejuvenation and then progressing to botox or facelifts. I don't really see that. In other words, the benefit of these treatments is not just superficial, but is happening holistically and on a deep level. These treatments can harmonize the shen or spirit and address underlying issues of non-acceptance and lack of self love. 

As a practitioner, these treatments are also a gift! When It's a busy day and I'm going from patient to patient, the pace can be intense. Doing facial acupuncture gives me a time out to really be present, loving the patient - touching their face with intention and channeling love. I really enjoy giving that kind of nourishing treatment - and of course my patients love receiving them! Facial treatments are my patients’ favourites - health, beauty, and pampering all in one!

You're a long time user of and inspiration for Angelica & Peony products. How do they connect with your facial rejuvenation practice?

I use A & P facial oils in my AFR kit, with the jade roller massage.  I select the serum most suitable for each patient.  And I recommend them to my patients for their own at-home care.  I use the Nourishing Serum for myself, which I love for everyday use. Besides being awesome for my skin, I actually feel happy when I use it! The more experienced I get as a practitioner, both of Chinese Medicine and of meditation, I feel very sensitive to the energies of things - if I use products that are not good energy, I can feel the difference. I know the quality of the ingredients that you use and the love you put into it, and I feel that in my face - the serum vibrates at a high frequency (I know that is so woo-woo!). It's very similar thing to what we’ve been talking about with facial acupuncture - putting loving attention towards the face, morning and evening, and combining effectiveness with a more spiritual or soulful dimension - they are a great adjunct and support to my facial acupuncture treatments.

Read more about Facial Acupuncture with Prajna (and book a treatment!) on her website

If you’re a practitioner and would like to incorporate the loving energy of Angelica & Peony products into your services to patients, visit my practitioner page and contact me to receive samples or place an order!


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Friday Roundup - August 21

We had some more super hot days here in the Bay - record breaking temps on several days, and that has influenced what I've been reading, writing, and thinking about!

Keeping Cool: I cracked into my Chinese Medicine bookshelf and wrote an article about SummerHeat - the pathogenic factor that Chinese Medicine sees in heat stroke, sun poisoning, heat prostration etc.  It's the illness of summer!

The materia medica includes a category of herbs that treat it, and I suggest some treatments for acupuncturists and folks at home.

Ayurvedic Beauty Tips: I've been re-reading Melanie Sach's Ayurvedic Beauty Care, and toning up my agni (digestive fire) by drinking water with fresh ginger steeped in it before meals. In Chinese medicine we might understand this as the clear yang energy that rises up to the head from properly digested food. There's no argument that what happens in your gut shows on your face! I especially like this quote: "It is agni that powers the mind to be intelligently disciplined to achieve inner beauty." 

Business Boot Camp: I 'powered my mind to be intelligently disciplined' this week mainlining Diane Sanfilippo's How to Build A Badass Business podcast. I have a major brand crush on Diane, who has created a social media empire around her book, Practical Paleo and her 21 Day Sugar Detox program (both of which are awesome).

Have a great weekend!


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