Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Ah-Choo! Tips for Staying Healthy This Season

The season's have definitely been changing. Fall has set in with it's chillier mornings, cool winds and rain showers. But, it's not just fall and the upcoming winter season that we're all experiencing. We've also moved into cold and flu season.

Whether you're one that believes in the value of a flu shot this year or not, getting sick when you're pregnant is no fun. Not only do you feel miserable, you're limited as to what medications you can take and your baby could be at risk, too.

To help you stay healthy this season, here are some simple tips that you can put into practice right away.

1. Wash your hands! Frequent hand washing is the number one way to prevent the spread of germs. Pick up a travel size container of hand sanitizer to keep in your purse, diaper bag, or in the car, too. In the event that soap and water isn't available, you'll still be able to keep germ free!

2. Quit touching your face! You'd really be surprised how many times you touch your face each day. Since viruses have to enter your system through your mouth or nose, touching your face is an easy way to accidentally introduce them to your system. Unless you're eating or bathing, try to stick with a hands-off approach throughout the day.

3. Gargle with salt water. This is a simple and inexpensive yet very powerful preventive method. After initial infection in the throat/nasal cavity, viruses typically take a couple days to proliferate and show characteristic symptoms. Simple gargling twice a day can prevent this.

4. Cleanse your sinuses daily. This is the same concept as the gargling tip above but needs only to be done once a day. You can use a simple saline spray found at most drugstores or use a neti pot. If the thought of water up your nose is something you can't bear, simply blow your nose hard once a day and follow it up by swabbing both nostrils with a cotton swab dipped in warm salt water.

5. Get plenty of vitamin C. During fall and winter, it's easy to fall short of adequate vitamin C levels. Pick up some oranges or grapefruit at the store to boost your daily intake. Check with your doctor/pharmacist to determine if taking a vitamin C supplement is right for you, too. They come in a variety of forms from tablets to powders that can easily be added to tea or water.

6. Drink plenty of warm liquids. Just as gargling prevents proliferation of viruses in your throat, so does drinking warm liquids such as tea, coffee, broth, etc. The warm liquids wash proliferating viruses away and into the stomach where they cannot survive or do harm. Plus, it's a good excuse to take a few minutes for yourself while you sip away!

7. Get some sleep! Sleep is so critical to our health but an area that we often overlook. Be sure you're getting plenty so that your body is well rested and healthy.

8. Eat a healthy diet. We're all busy but steer clear of processed foods that provide little to no nutritional value. Keep healthy snacks such as dried fruits and whole grain crackers nearby and be sure to eat plenty of veggies, too.

9. Hydrate! Just because it's not 90 degrees outside doesn't mean that you don't have to keep properly hydrated. Continue to keep that water bottle close at hand.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Stretch Marks - A Dermatologist's Advice

I'm basically covered in freckles, so going to the dermatologist for an annual check to make sure there's nothing there that I should be worried about is not unusual. My doctor is great and she's got her special little hand held magnifying glass thing that she uses to check all over and look at individual spots that interest her. Like I said, I'm covered in freckles so the whole process takes awhile, which leaves us plenty of time to chat. As the conversation came around to em at one visit, I asked her three rather pointed questions.

The first question was, "Is there any way at all to prevent stretch marks?" Her response was a resounding, "no," which I already knew. Unfortunately, though, there are many products available in stores everywhere that claim to prevent stretch marks; and these companies, I'm sure, make thousands upon thousands of dollars each year cashing in on that promise. However, it's simply not a promise that they can keep.

To understand this a bit more clearly, though, you have to understand our skin. By nature, it's basically elastic like a rubberband. A new rubberband will stretch and spring back to its original shape without problems. However, skin loses it's elasticity in a number of ways, whether that be due to dry skin or age or any other number of reasons. Think of the rubberband again. If it's an older one, it may be dry with visible cracks in its surface and, if you try to stretch it, it will likely break. When the skin has lost it's elasticity and is then asked to rapidly expand due to weight gain, swelling, or, of course, pregnancy, the tissue under the skin can be pulled beyond it's ability to stretch. The result is scarring that we can see and call stretch marks.

So, if you already have them, is there any way to get rid of stretch marks? I asked that very question of my doctor. "Is there any way, any way at all, to 'erase' them or make them go away after a person gets them?" I asked. Once again, I knew the answer even before I asked, but I let her answer anyway. Another resounding, "no." And, again, it's a shame that there are products and services out there claiming to remove them. The truth is, they may fade over time just like any other scar might, but they won't ever go away completely. And, as far as the claims of removing them by laser, those aren't true, either. The laser therapy only reduces the appearance of them by reducing their color.

At this point, you may be thinking, "Great, well, I might as well just sit back and watch them appear since there's nothing I can do." Not so! This brings me to the third question I asked of my dermatologist..."Is there anything that a woman can do in the quest for a stretch mark-free pregnancy?" Although it is important to understand that your genes have a lot to do with whether you're body is predisposed to developing stretchmarks, you do have the power to minimize your chances of getting them. Like I said before, our skin is, by nature, elastic. The key to minimizing your chances of stretchmarks lies in maintaining the elasticity of your skin. Proper hydration from the inside and out is vitally important. Make sure you are getting plenty of fluids each day and make sure you're keeping your skin hydrated, too. Using a product like our body oil or body balm on a daily basis can help your skin regain and maintain the elasticity it will need when your belly begins to bloom. Equally important to remember is to begin this regime before your belly begins to blossom so that, if your skin does need to regain some elasticity, it has time to do so before the stretching begins. Treating yourself to a bellyfacial now and then is a great way to hydrate your skin throughout your pregnancy, too!

I left the dermatologist that day with a clean bill of skin health and a renewed sense that, at em, we're offering women some great products to help them maintain beautiful, glowing skin throughout their pregnancies and beyond. If you still have questions regarding stretch marks, though, be sure to ask your doctor for his/her professional advice.

Fall 2011 Color Trends - Part 4 of 4 (Tribe)

It takes a village to raise a child, right? As our economy has slipped, it's no surprise to see people coming together to help one another more.  It's about a real sense of community; your tribe, so to speak.  So, it's not a surprise, either, that our final color trend pulls from tribal influences.

When I think of "tribal" I think of a variety of things.  The actual color trend is that of deep browns, coppers and bronzes, rich oranges and deep reds.  Texture and pattern plays a large roll, too.  Rich hued natural woods, papers, and fibers all work well.  Personally, when I think of this trend, I imagine a beautiful African tapestry of rich browns, tans and black. Those colors may feel a bit dark for a nursery but consider a creamy off white color with accents of browns, black, and metallics. Tribal masks may seem a bit scary, too, but consider those that are giraffes or zebras.  A shade for the window made of natural materials like bamboo help to the pull the theme together.

If African tribal isn't to your liking, it's okay to stray from the color trend while still keeping a tribal theme. Why not travel to the jungle?  Imagine yourself in the Amazon rain forest; surrounded by the lush deep green canopy and the brightly colored birds and butterflies.  It's okay if you break the rules of reality and include animals that don't really live in the jungle, too, like lions and elephants and giraffes.  Your little Tarzan or Jane will learn the truth soon enough.


Monday, October 3, 2011

A belly facial? What the heck is that?

We hear questions like that all the time when people hear us talking about doing a belly facial during pregnancy. You may very well be asking the same thing right now. A belly facial? Yes, a belly facial.

You know what a facial is; it's a beauty treatment for your face. It's designed to cleanse, hydrate, and, in some instances, repair your delicate skin. If you've ever gotten a facial, you also know that the benefits of a facial typically go beyond the physical. The relaxation you experience and the permission that you've given yourself to take the time to nurture and pamper yourself are far reaching.

So, just like a facial for your face, a belly facial is a beauty treatment for your blossoming belly. It's designed to address the very unique skin issues that pregnant women have during pregnancy - dry skin, itchy skin, and... the dreaded stretch marks. And, just like a facial for your face, the physical benefits are just the beginning. Taking a quiet moment to focus just on yourself can do wonders for your mental state.

But what do you need to be able to give yourself a belly facial? Glad you asked. All you need is the bellyfacial™ by em! Available in a simple standard form or as a deluxe kit, we've given you everything you need so you don't have to stand in the beauty products aisle of your local variety store wondering what to pick. You'll also have everything you need for not one but up to three applications so you'll really get your money's worth (number of applications varies depending on the size of your tummy)!

The standard bellyfacial™ is made of our specially formulated facial powder made from coconut milk, honey powder and ground oats. It helps to gently exfoliate your skin while easing that itchy skin that is so common during pregnancy. Just add water and you're ready to go! 

But, if you're a deluxe kind of girl (and we know you are), then our deluxe kit is just for you!  Not only do your get a full size jar of facial powder, you also get our exclusive facial oil.  Combine the two and the bellyfacial™ is truly born. The rich blend of five natural oils will moisturize and hydrate your skin like nothing you've ever experienced before. Applied with the included brush, this belly facial is truly a one of a kind experience.

Typically only offered in upscale spas, experience a belly facial in the luxury of your own home. A belly facial? Yes, a belly facial. A bellyfacial™ by em.