A blog chronicling skin care, DIY beauty products, wishes and daydreams, life transitions, and other random stuff...

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Hey Ladies: Stop STRESSING OUT! Hints for Glowing Skin

I'm already performing facials and let me tell you, looking at skin up close is teaching me a lot.  I've always been my own guinnea pig.  Now I see how different everyone is and it's fascinating.  But there's one thing that we all have in common: STRESS.  

Women's skin has changed over the decades.  We now have full time careers (often the breadwinners), while taking care of kids and partners, trying to be healthy and pretty, on top of dealing with traffic, debt, processed office air, crazy people on the street, crime, office politics, housekeeping and pollution.  I'm getting stressed just thinking of the numerous ways that our daily lives are assaulted by ugly situations.  And most women put themselves last on their list of priorities.  Who has time for pampering?  The skin shows it.

Stress takes it's toll in a variety of ways.  First, we stop doing the things that are good for us:  drinking lots of water, working out, eating healthy, avoiding alcohol, smoking or caffeine.  Some nights, we collapse in to bed and the last thing we want to do is wash our faces and floss our teeth.  I totally get it.

Well, this causes break-outs (stress and hormones cause congestion specifically around the chin area).  Stress also causes dehydration, blotches, allergies, puffy eyes and (shriek!) wrinkles.  So, the fight for equality has some pitfalls.  Whatever. We're smart enough to look amazing while taking over the world, right?

So I have a few tasks that should help ease you in to getting prettier skin while kicking the world's ass:
1) Drink a lot of water, especially if you like to party!
2) THIS IS ONE IS CRUCIAL: Wash your face with a gentle cleanser (no soap) for at least ONE FULL minute, every morning and night and follow with a good fragrance-free & dye-free moisturizer.  Your face will get clean, and the massaging action stimulates circulation to get rid of a lifeless complexion.  This also massages out those worry wrinkles - seriously.  DO IT.
3) If you have acne or break-outs, BE GENTLE.  People tend to attack their skin with harsh products to dry up the break-out quickly, over exfoliate and touch, pick and obsess over the pimples.  Nobody's perfect, let the pimple run it's course or you will make it worse and possibly create a scar.  Over-cleansing and scrubbing causes the skin to overreact and perpetuates the problem.  A break-out is your skin saying "I need TLC, not punishment."  Be patient, it  has it's own schedule.
4) Take a multi-vitamin every day.
5) Take deep breaths when you feel overwhelmed.
6) Put yourself first every once in while.  Scratch that.  Put yourself first EVERY DAY, even if it's for only ten minutes while you wash your face and treat yourself with a little kindness.  You deserve it.

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WOW! Esthetician School is Awesome but I'm BUSY!!

Hi everyone!  I've been having so much fun going to school that I haven't had time for the Viva Bella Forte Blog.  I'm not having fun working full time during the day, but the schedule isn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be.  Extra-curricular activities like blogging, partying, cooking, socializing, etc. are sacrificed, however.

The esthetician program is teaching me so much about skin care, I am pretty overwhelmed by all of the new information.  It's humbling to realize how much I don't know.  It's been really eye opening and exciting.

Taking a hobby to the next level is turning out to be a really good decision for me.  The only regret is that I wish I would have done this a long time ago.  Like, five to ten years ago.  But, alas, I cannot live my life saying "I shoulda...".  Now is the right time and I can't wait to get this party started!

I'm going to dedicate myself to one posting a week.  Happy Holidays!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Bella Forte SPA KIT Survey!! I NEED YOUR HELP!

I have a daydreaming addiction.  I have a problem with wrangling my hypomanic brainstorms.  I have a thousand gradiose ideas, and loads of enthusiasm, but I often lose steam mid-project because I am overwhelmed by the big amazing tasks I've set up for myself. 

So, I need your help.  I've created a survey of my latest and greatest ideas for holiday gifts.  If you can spare a few minutes, PLEASE take my survey and help me narrow things down a bit, otherwise, I will lose my mind by Thanksgiving. 


Bella Forte SPA KIT Survey:
Click Here to take survey

Thank you!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

I Start Esthetician School on Wednesday!

After about two years of pondering, researching, reconsidering, interviewing, visiting, and worrying, I finally sealed the deal yesterday.  With the generous trust and financial support of my boyfriend, I handed over a check for $8,238.75 to Zenzi's Cosmetology Training Center for Hair, Skin and Nails.

I finally decided on this school for a few reasons:  It's the least expensive of the "good" schools; the schedule is more flexible and fits with my still-full-time day job; it's in a nice neighborhood (Hayes Valley in SF) where I hope to meet a good range of clients; Zenzi seems to be a super-kind, motherly type who has been very encouraging (well, yeah, it's still a business);  I know a couple of people who are either currently attending, or who have graduated from Zenzi's, and they seem satisfied with their education.  Not jumping up and down full of praise, but I haven't encountered that type of alumni reaction for any of the schools.

My worries: The schedule might make me crazy, as I'll be on-the-clock for 55 hours a week;  I will surely be older than every other student;  I am sometimes fiercely independent and the mothering-type might drive me nuts at times;  I don't do Saturday mornings;  my hands shake when I try to put eyeliner on other people;  I am going to have to wax bikini lines;  I have back problems;  I'm often very tired after work;  after I get my license...then what?  Jobs don't seem to be very lucrative or abundant right now.  Am I strong enough to overcome these things?

But I am passionate about learning more about skin care.  I have twenty-five years of work experience.  I am motivated.  I miss helping people.  I'm really excited about making good products;  I'm forty years old and ready to change direction in my life.  

One or two years down the line, I see myself as an entrepreneur.  I want to own my own business (Bella Forte), whether it's a partnership or completely on my own.  A day spa, a skin care line, a boutique...

Right now, I really love the idea of a neighborhood boutique that offers workshops and treatments, with a storefront selling products.  Business ownership is a ridiculous amount of work.  But if I am loving it, will I finally be content with my life?  Will I regret not learning to edit video like a pro or pushing myself to upper management in the media field?  Will I wish that I chased the dollar signs with more vigor?

I have absolutely no idea.  But I'll never know if I don't try.  So here goes...
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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Neem Oil - Amazing Oil that Stinks Like Sh*t!

Neem Oil is amazing.  It treats several of ailments and skin issues, from psoriasis to hair loss.  It's a cure-all like Tea Tree Oil.  But, again, I learned another thing from my last serum-making experiment.  Neem Oil STINKS! I used a very tiny amount in my failed Anti-Wrinkle serum.  I wish that I had known about the odor increasing with time.  I was excited about the amazing stories and somehow never came across an article about the smell.  So, not only did my big experiment clog my pores and give me a rash, it wreaks.  I considered making lip balm or combining it with more aloe and essential oils, I don't know if anything will make this stuff smell better.  I think I had better call it a loss and appreciate what I've learned.  I might give it one last try as an anti-septic / anti-fungal ointment for bug bites or athlete's foot.  But I don't want that crap near my face again.  http://www.discoverneem.com/neem-oil-smell.html

Saturday, September 12, 2009

DIY Beauty: Learning from my Mistakes at 2am - Face Serum and Body Scrub

I stayed up until almost 2am on a product-making mission:  Face Serum and Exfoliating Body Scrub.  

First, the serum:  It came out way too thick and oily.  I wanted it to be super rich, but not too greasy or drippy.  I combined two previously-made recipes, one a serum, and the other a face cream.  Now I have 10 ounces of "balm" that will create an oil slick on most people.  I have dry skin, but I don't imagine most people will tolerate it, even as a night treatment.  I put it all over my face, especially around my eyes before bed, and woke up with really nice, dewy skin.  I honestly believe that my crow's feet have vanished!  But I have a stained pillow and a greasy hairline.  Not good.  Today's rainy day project is to keep a little bit of the balm for the eyes, then throw the rest back in to the double-boiler, melt it down, and whip in more aloe vera juice and fresh aloe vera gel from our giant aloe plant outside.

I could just toss it, but the ingredients are expensive and I had to special order them.  You might recognize some of these from other expensive products:  Meadowfoam seed oil, shea butter, plum kernel oil, carrot seed oil, avocado oil,  neem oil, aloe oil and rosehip seed oil, plus essential oils of chamomile, lavender, geranium and lemon.  Then, to give it emulsion:  aloe vera juice, glycerin, distilled water infused with green tea and bees wax as a thickener.  I created a balm, not a cream or a serum.  So, back to the laboratory!  Maybe aloe will come to the rescue.  That's what aloe does, right?

For the body scrub: I found a bunch of cocoa butter and shea butter body balms that I made a while ago.  It was just too rich to use on a daily basis, so it sat in my room feeling neglected.  I melted it all down again, whipped it for a while with the stick blender to give it emulsion and body (like whipping oil to create mayonnaise), added a little liquid soap to cut down the greasiness (and slipping in the shower).  Finally, I added a bunch of white and brown sugar and spearmint essential oil.  It's a chocolate-mint treat!  Now, I won't feel guilty about slathering it on in gobs, because the shelf life on the shea butter is winding down and it needs to get used in the next few months.  It's a great excuse to be indulgent and scrub off my summer-weathered skin at the same time.  My next recipe will use healthy carrier oils like olive, jojoba or avocado.  Shea and mango butters are pretty expensive and better for lotion-making.  I don't like to wash money down the drain.  One of the many benefits of DIY beauty is saving money, especially when you're still in the learning stages.  I promise to share my recipes when I get it right!

Update: 9/16/09 - My face "balm" made me breakout!  I have more pimples that I did when I was a teen!  Livin' and learnin' the hard way...

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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Follow Your Nose: Perfume and an Addiction to Lemon

I took a great class at The Nova Studio in Point Richmond a few weeks ago called "Making Natural Perfumes" and I learned a lot about natural scents, how they make us feel, how long the top, middle and bottom notes last, etc.  I had a headache from so much sniffing, but it was well worth it.
I realized later, after wearing all of my perfumes, that I used way too much lemon in all of them.  And those light, citrus-y notes fade the fastest.  Like, they hit you once and make you feel good, but the scent is gone in 20 minutes or less.  The middle and bottom notes last longer, but are usually more woodsy or floral, like rose and cedarwood.  I learned that, although I really like citrus, my perfumes smell like Pledge furniture polish. 
Anyway, that's what learning is all about.  It's important to not get in to a "smell rut":  stuck on one scent or scent family.  There are so many different beautiful, natural creations out there, and they smell a lot different once they've mixed with our own unique body chemistry.  You can totally make perfume at home using items from the drug store.  I'll publish another post after I've experimented a little more, and hopefully won't end up smelling like I've been polishing floors.
Here's a cool diagram of different notes:

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Friday, August 28, 2009

The Italians are Bella Forte, too - Bring it on!

My sister sent me this - I think it's pretty cool!

Looks like beauty runs in the family...and so does the joy of sharing beauty secrets with the less fortunate! haha

"Ciao!! - Welcome to the House of Bella Forte!

Born from the Italian Royal Family Tradition of True Craftsmanship, Quality and Deta
il. The Forte Family was the Fashion and Style Designers of their Day in Naples,Italy in the early 1800’s. They put their great Love of Fashion in everything they touched from Head to Toe on everyone in the land….Today that Legacy lives on and has been passed down to the generations that represent the Forte family’s impeccable Signature Designs. For the great History left in the hands of the Forte Woman Today, this new adventure into the Style and Creation of making Beautiful Hair Styling Tools, along with all the Fabulous Baubles that go with it…will turn You into the Modern Day Princess!"

only bad news...the "bella forte" name might already be taken :(
but i thought you still might enjoy this!

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

I'm a Blog Virgin! Introducing Bella Forté!

Hi Friends,

If you know me well, you're probably surprised that it's taken me this long to have my own blog. I am a Gemini: a lover of communication, blabbing, expressing myself, etc. But I was really inspired to finally create a blog of my own because I want to document and share my newest and greatest adventure: I'M GOING TO BEAUTY SCHOOL and am starting a product line based on everything that I learn.

I'm going to use this blog space to share everything that I experience, worry about etc. I'm going to provide tips, DIY beauty recipes, product reviews, new ideas and random thoughts. I'm going to reach out for a lot of help and opinions about my product line.
I'll probably share a lot of photos of my dog, Pistol, for no good reason except that she's extremely cute and makes me happy.

I finally came up with my "brand" name: Bella Forté. I've been making bath and beauty products for several years now, and had a lot of name ideas, such as Bitchen Beautician (old logo above, stolen from my old cooking show, Bitchen' Kitchen); Spoiled Rotten; Pistol Whipped, to name a few.

Bella Forté translates to "Beautiful and Strong".  I like it because it represents how I want to be. The "Forté" part is easy, because, well, I can be a loud, stubborn hard-ass, and Forté is my last name. The "Bella" part takes some work.  It's not easy being beautiful!  My new career goal is to help to make beauty an easy accomplishment: on the inside and out.

Bella Forté is what I aim to be, and I want to help others feel strong and beautiful, too.  

Please join me on my new adventure!
(Your Bitchen Beautician)

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