My Favorite (and healthy!) Skincare Products

safer skin care

I realized I was pregnant with W after throwing up Thai food and a pride-themed birthday cake that I baked for a colleague using a Pinterest recipe…at a gay marriage fundraiser while Mary Bonuto was speaking…in someone’s kitchen…on my hands and knees near the dog’s dish that someone tried to get me to puke into…until someone else thought a mixing bowl was a better idea…then to be ushered out the back door by a stranger in attendance…who turned out to be a nurse that lived across the street…who nonchelantly toted and disposed of my puke bucket…and got me a glass of water while I lay on her couch.

It was absolutely one of the weirdest things that’s happened to me.

And turns out, one of the best things, too.

But, recalling that lovely mix of colorful regurgitation really hammered home the fact that I could no longer neglect my body.  Coffee for lunch?  Nope, not going to cut it.  That probably meant cake for breakfast wasn’t the best choice either.  The moment that stick brandishes two pink lines, we’ve been programmed to think about what we eat, drink and ingest:  “No alcohol!  No unpasteurized cheese!  No deli meats!  Not too much tuna!”  (all of which my doctor said was pretty much OK – but that’s a post for another time…)

But, I hadn’t given much thought to what my largest organ – my skin – was ingesting.  

I was most definitely nervous to dive and see what would have to go.  And, welp.  Let’s just say that what you slop on by the container matters.  It matters now, it matters down the line and it especially matters when you’re growing un bebe.  So, I started to check out my products on the Environmental Working Group’s “Skin Deep” consumer guide and read just how terrible some products were (things are rated on a scale of 0-10…10 being the worst for you…and things in the 0-3 range being relatively safe.  AKA “in the green,” as I like to call it).   It was major motivation to add more healthy choices into my skin-care regimen, too.

The twist?  Acne.

Yeah, the raging hormones gave me acne and (ugh) back-ne that (in my possibly over-exaggerated state of mind) could rival a 13 year-old boy.  And per my (ahem) condition, the usual go-to treatments of salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide were suddenly on the no-no list.

So I went to my favorite lab-tech-chemist-turned-esthatician at Nirvana and asked.

The long and the short of it was that most of what I was experiencing was hormonal, so there wasn’t a ton I could do about it topically.  Add in the fact that my skin’s main job was to keep things out of my body meant that I was, well, shit out of luck for the most part.  Except for time.  Oh, and some manual and chemical (sugars, lactic acid found in milk, etc.) exfoliation might would help a bit.  Rapidly reproducing skin cells + increased oil production = a pileup of dead skin = clogged pores.  And you know what that means?  Breakouts.  And the more dry and flaky my over-multiplying skin was…the more oil it produced and the more clogged my pores got.

Can a girl get a break!?  Yeah, unlikely for the next, oh, 30+ years…but I digress.  The temporary solution for the pregnant lady who couldn’t use the heavy-duty-bad-for-you-stuff?  Pretty simple…

1.  Keep my skin clean.  My skin was super dry and flaky, so I needed a cleanser that wasn’t too harsh.  As contradictory as it seemed, I absolutely loved using jojoba oil or a mixture of coconut oil and baking soda to cleanse my skin.  Keeping it clean also meant no picking.  So much harder than I thought it would be.  I also used coconut oil as a moisturizer since I was prone to using so much lotion.  So. Much.  Both jojoba oil and coconut oil are a 0 on the EWG scale – not harmful at all!  I also really loved The Honest Company’s shampoo + body wash for keeping the rest of me clean.  The sweet orange vanilla scent was so subtle but delicious!  Added bonus?  Also only a 2 on the EWG scale…so still in the green.

2. Keep my skin super hydrated.  I loved the lightweight but uber moisturizing effects of this moisturizer with hyaluronic acid but it is a level 4 (out of 10) on the EWG’s scale…so I used a small amount mixed with a few drops of jojoba oil and sometimes just jojoba oil.  Fun fact:  Did you know hyaluronic acid can hold something like 1,000 times it’s weight in water!?  Or that jojoba oil is actually a wax that’s liquid at room temperature and most closely mirrors your body’s own sebum?  Yeah, amazing, I know.  And, for body lotion, I opted for Lubriderm Sensitive – incredibly hydrating but without any perfumes or dyes.  I especially loved this once baby W had arrived (since he was often always snuggled up against my skin and I knew that fragrances and yucky stuff weren’t good for him!)  Once the little bundle did arrive, we started using coconut oil or BabyGanics Eczema Care for his dry winter skin – and a combination of the two was even more hydrating!

3. Keep my skin baby-butt smooth with regular, gentle exfoliation.  I made my own scrubs with natural ingredients – whatever I had in the fridge or pantry!  I never follow a recipe too closely, but I threw together baking soda, oatmeal and or granulated sugar, mixed with natural sources of extra-skin-cell-disolving glycolic acid (like strawberries) or lactic acid (milk, yogurt) and some type of moisturizers (coconut oil, olive oil, avocado, honey).  Throw in some antimicrobial treatments (local honey) and I was on my way to feeling a bit better about my baby acne.

Thankfully, I’m almost 2 years postpartum and I’ve been enjoying relatively clear skin almost immediately after giving birth and my hormones leveled out a bit.  But, since we’re still nursing I’m much more cautious about my lotions, face creams, etc.  I absolutely swear by jojoba oil and coconut oil for absolutely everything imaginable.  Everything.

So just because you choose to be more cautious in your skin-care regimen doesn’t mean you have miss out on fabulous products and skin!

Glowingly yours,




Spring cleaning


My parents came home from a week in Mexico, and upon walking through my door, the first thing my mother exclaimed was, “Ohhhh, yummmm, what is roasting in the oven!?” It was Sunday, so that wasn’t totally out of the question.

You know what it was?

The Seventh Generation disinfecting wipes in the Lemongrass Citrus (Thyme) scent.  Clearly I used a ton of them.

The night before, I’d pretty much wiped down the entire house after my husband spent the day with the flu and we figured out that little W had the Hand Foot Mouth (HFM) virus. So far, no one else has the flu or HFM, so I’m chalking that up to a major win.

And, the house smells wonderfully delicious thanks to the germ-fighting-thyme-essential-oil. Loving these things right now.

Cleanly yours,


10 New Baby Must Haves

Bringing Home Baby: New Baby Must-Haves
Our neighbors and our best friends both welcomed baby girls this past week!  So exciting.  I couldn’t help but reminisce about W’s arrival and the terror excitement we felt about bringing him home.  And, of course, the few items that we relied upon to get us through the first sleep-deprived, adrenaline-fuled and bursting-at-the-seams-with-joy weeks.
Simply put, new babies eat, sleep, poop and cry.  As a nursing mom, here is what made my world go ’round…what I actually used…every hour, every day…after bringing W home.
[Oh, and also.  These would make for one heck-of-a-baby-shower gift.  Toss some of these items in a cute storage bin or basket along with a bottle, pacifier or diaper she didn’t register for (see below for why!) and she’ll be calling you Week 1 thanking you for the most-used-baby-shower-gifts.  Ever.]
  1. Nipple cream: the LC  (mommy-blog-o-nym for Lactation Consultant) recommended I nurse, then rub expressed milk on my nipples, let ’em air dry, then apply the nipple cream…and procede to let the boobs hang freely in the open.  My cracked bloody nipples finally healed at about Week 3!  I used Lansinoh or the Medela brand, but I hear that MotherLove is awesome, too!  I used their More Milk pills to help with milk production.
  2. Hydrogel pads – these felt OH SO GOOD.  They were about the only thing I let touch my nipples in the first three weeks.  See my hospital bag must-haves for other medicine-cabinet needs post-baby.
  3. Snacks – Remembering to eat is harder than you think in the first few weeks, but if you’re nursing, it’s critical.  I lived on Larabars (super healthy, fill you up, minimal/whole ingredients and delicious flavors like Cherry Pie and Coconut Cream Pie), bananas, cheese sticks and the meals my neighborhood made for me!  I made little snack baggies and kept them beside my bed to munch on while I was nursing in the middle of the night…I was always STARVING (and I still am…)
  4. Water bottle Camel Pack: the second W latched on to nurse I was ravenously thirsty.  Instantaneously.  And obviously, I’d forgotten to get water before getting set up amidst pillows and the boppy.  Next baby, I’m forgoing the water bottle and just wearing a camel pack.  Sounds easier 🙂
  5. Boppy: in my first two weeks with W, I was nursing 9-12 times a day for about 30 minutes a session.  That’s a lot of time sitting and nursing.  The more comfortable you are, the better for you and baby.  So, find something like a boppy that works for you!
  6. Nursing/Cozy Tanks:  see above.  You’re pretty much nursing all the time, so find some tanks that are fuss-free and comfortable (even with nursing bras, I never used the snap function – I just wore bras and tanks and shirts with a stretchy enough neck that I could just yank it down over my boob…still do).  My nipples were pretty sore, so super-soft material was a must.  I usually just wore my underwear, a comfy tank and a cozy robe from Brookstone…it seemed to go well with the bags under my eyes…and made snagging a quick nap less of hassle since I was already in my PJs 🙂
  7. Plain onesies: you can never have too many white onesies.  At the rate W pooped through his diapers and clothes, we were changing these things a few times a day.  I was all about easy, and this is where that started.
  8. Zippered, footed sleepers or elastic bottomed dress thingys: add a cute footed onesie (with an adorable face on the butt and feet) to a white onesie and we were dressed and ready to go.  Why they EVEN make baby clothes with buttons baffles me.  There’s nothing worse than trying to change a diaper at 3am, bleary eyed and sleep deprived, and trying to line up 12 teeny-tiny buttons over teeny-tiny squirming arms and legs.  Nope.  Zippers are the best.  And, W didn’t just sleep in these.  He wore them 24/7.
  9. Something to wear baby with – Ergobaby / Moby:  in the 4th trimester we spent most of our time cuddled together, both day and night.  But, for the few hours here or there where my arms needed a break, the Moby I borrowed from my neighbor was a perfect way to keep W close, snuggled and have my hands free.  We now use the Ergo, and in hind sight I probably would have used the baby insert much earlier.  Because it’s so versatile it can be your carrier from birth to 45lbs.
  10. Something to put baby in – Rock N Sleep:  For an off-the-body place to let the little one sleep, the Fisher-Price Rock ‘n Play Sleeper was AMAZING.  It’s SO simple, but the slight incline and deep seat really hugged W when I wasn’t, and he spent a ton of time checking out the scenes from this little yellow seat, napping and sleeping.  Before he transitioned into his crib, this was the only place he’d sleep!

Enjoy your precious new baby, mama!  And remember, keep it simple 🙂

Yours truly,


PS – I didn’t include things like a carseat, diapers/wipes, bottles, pacifiers or crib/co-sleeper/basinette because those are either obvious, optional or a personal preference.  You might choose to do disposable diapers or cloth…or co-sleep or put your baby in a basinette for the night…or give your baby a pacifier or not…or try a bottle at three weeks…or earlier…or later.

For what it’s worth, here’s my two cents on all of the above: before you invest in a whole bunch of anything, try them out and make sure you and your baby like them.  We made the mistake of registering for a bunch of bottles that, in the end, W didn’t take to.  Same with pacifiers.  It took some trial and error (and swapping with my other mommy friend) to find the right fit.  We also bought a co-sleeper that we used once and hated, which seemed like a waste.  If you have the chance to borrow from a friend to try it out, do it.  If you can live with baby for a bit and then decide what you really need and want, you’ll save some money!

Hospital bag must-haves

Hospital Bag Must-Haves

When I packed my hospital bag (obviously a month in advance), I packed with my idea of “labor” in mind.  What happened next was, as you might know from my previous post, an entirely different reality that required a different wardrobe.  (Not that I packed high heels or anything, but I didn’t end up wearing much of anything I packed…much to my hubby’s chagrin after he hauled everything into the hospital on that frigid morning.)  So, when my neighbor asked me to send along some thoughts on hospital bag must-haves (she’s due in a few weeks!), I was so excited to share what I would have done differently…and what I actually used.  With a few more friends due in the coming weeks, and to remind myself whenever Baby #2 comes along, I wanted to get it all written out.

For the list-lovers, here it is in a condensed version.  Below is more of an explanation why I think these are helpful items…so read, digest, modify and decide what’s best for you.

Hospital Bag Must-Haves:

  • Juice, coconut water and/or Vitamin Water*
  • Tylenol and ibuprofen*
  • Stool softeners*
  • MediPlast*
  • Ultra-thin pads*
  • Tuck pads*
  • Coconut oil*
  • Vaseline*
  • Nipple cream*
  • Hydrogel pads*
  • Medical Info (keep a folder ready to go with your insurance, any necessary paperwork, your birthplan if you have one, etc.)
  • 4-5 pairs of comfy pants (again, this is in the event you dirty a bunch!  You might only wear 2 pairs…lucky you!)
  • 4-5 nursing tanks with shelf-bra (if those aren’t comfy for you, pack some nursing bras and cozy, long tanks)
  • 4-5 cozy t-shirts (VS makes a burnout, v-neck cotton T that I’m obsessed with.  That’s what I wore the whole time I was there.  Super soft.  Awesome.)
  • 4+ pairs of roomie undies (you’ll be shoving pads and ice-diapers in there…so space is nice…but the hospital undies are AWESOME.  Mesh boy shorts.  Score.  And I’m NOT being sarcastic here.)
  • 2 sweatshirts/long sleeve shirts (again, layers are KEY – you have no idea what you’re going to be in the mood for!)
  • 1 cotton robe/wrap sweater (I wore a super-soft, short robe the whole time I was there.  Loved it.  Got it at Target.)
  • Socks/slippers/flip flops or all three.
  • Bathing suit (if a water birth is in your birth plan…)
  • Any other clothing articles you love ❤
  • Toiletries: The usual suspects and I especially loved my Dry shampoo, Baby wipes, Face wipes, Gum/Wisps, Chapstick.  I brought my favorite BB cream, a bronzer, brown eyeliner and mascara – think 2 minute application when your 5th visitor is on their way!)
  • Misc. (it’s up to you from here on out…pack cameras, phones, chargers, books, games, iPads, whatever!)

*These are items I’d recommend stocking the medicine cabinet with BEFORE the baby arrives!  No fun having to make a pit-stop on the way home from the hospital.

Get now and keep on hand: Some liquids and medical supplies.  

If your water breaks, the person on call will tell you to drink a glass of juice, lay down on your left side and count the baby’s kicks and movements.  They want you to get 10 kicks in an hour to make sure the baby isn’t in distress due to your water breaking.  We don’t really drink juice at our house so we didn’t have any…thankfully, my grandparents had just sent Florida oranges so my hubby juiced some fresh OJ, made me toast and peanut butter while I relaxed and counted kicks.   Ew.  I was also all about the REVIVE Vitamin Water during and after labor – I cut it with water, so a few big bottles lasted for labor and my post-baby stay at the hospital.  While on the topic of food, mind you, about 1 hour after my nice little morning snack I was puking up orange juice, cinnamon raisin toast and peanut butter all over the hospital floor…so, maybe pick a snack that’s bland but filling – you’ll need energy but no thanks to OJ and PB puke.

You should also stock up on items you’ll want when you finally bring baby home.  We had to stop on the way home from the hospital and that was annoying.  I’ll save you a trip: thin, extra-absorbant pads, mediplast spray, tuck pads, Tylenol/ibuprofen, stool softener, coconut oil, nipple cream and hydrogel pads.  These are all essential vag-care and nip-care items you’ll likely want.  Because, I’ll be honest, you won’t do much other than breastfeed and “sleep” those first two weeks…so not much else is necessary.

When it’s time to go / If your water breaks: Comfy Outfit #1

As soon as my contractions started getting closer together, I dashed upstairs and got into my “it’s go-time” outfit.  I would consider setting aside whatever you’re most comfortable in and layer up…because cutting out any and all annoyances (tags, underwire, funny seams, etc.) is key.  With layers you can strip down or bundle up with ease depending on how you’re feeling at the moment.  Next time, I’ll set aside a nursing tank with a built-in bra (I love the shelf-bra nursing tank from Target), a comfy burnout T-shirt from VS, a long sleeve shirt/sweater/zip up, a pair of sweat pants/comfy pants, a pair of grannie-panties and a major pad (I actually have hospital undies left over from baby W that are AH-mazing so I’ll be wearing those for Baby #2).  I mention the pads because if your water breaks, it gushes a bit with each contraction.  I didn’t really think the pads were for ON THE WAY to the hospital so I didn’t have any here, and needless to say, crawling into the hospital with paper towels stuffed in my undies wasn’t the most comfortable thing…but it did come in handy when I pooped my pants WHILE puking upon arrival.  Awesome.

In labor: Comfy Outfit #2  

Again, you never know if you’re going to puke, pee, poop or bleed all over the first pair of undies, pants and shirt.  I did.  However, I just took my pants and undies off when I got there and went the rest of labor with no pants 🙂  While sitting on the toilet…puking, pooping and bleeding…”discussing” pain management options with the nurse (to which I vehemently growled that I wanted an epidural), she then asked if I wanted to labor in a hospital johnny.  I’m not even sure I replied.  I just got off the toilet, leaving my underwear and pants behind me.  I managed to waddle over to the bed wearing only my tank, t-shirt and headband, got on my hands and knees, buried my face in a pillow, and didn’t emerge but to mouth “ice” to my doting husband and to roll over when the doctor presented me with little baby W.  So, you never know what you might want to wear or not wear.  Pants are totally optional, though 🙂  Also, if you’re thinking a water birth or the tub is a possibility, bring a bathing suit top if that’s your thing.

After the baby is born: Comfy Outfit #3 and #4, plus a belly band

My stomach felt strangely hollow and jelly-like after the baby, so I really liked having something tight around it.  I wore one of those stretchy bands that I wore during pregnancy (you know, the kind that hold your pants up well past the point you should be wearing regular pants.)  It worked pretty well, and I think they even make postpartum ones that I’ll probably get for Baby #2.  I also kept on the same shirt and tank top on that I’d come to the hospital in and labored in for that day.  I slept in it, too, I think…But, having another nursing tank, t-shirt, undies and pants/shorts will be a good idea.  Now you’ll start having visitors, too, and your boobs/nipples might be REALLY sore so I just hung out in a cotton robe with nothing underneath.  I could cover up, loosely, if I wanted to.  But at that point, I just kept my boobs out and visitors had to deal with it.  My nipples hurt too much and needed to air dry to heal!

Going home: Comfy Outfit #5 and an outfit for baby 

Again, a pair of comfy pants, underwear, top/sweater/sweatshirt.  I say pack one specific for going home just so you know you have something clean to wear.  Also, bring something seasonally appropriate for the baby on the ride home.  Remember, though, that you can’t put bulky sweaters underneath the car seat straps, so pack a hat and a blanket to put over the baby if it’s cold out.  Also, since skin-to-skin time was so important, we didn’t really dress W in much other than a blanket and what the hospital had for him.  So, feel free to pack clothes for the baby or not many at all!

Toiletries, duh.

Really just pack what you would for any other overnight trip.  The only caveat is, try to bring along items that aren’t heavily scented or, even better, are unscented and natural.  The first hours and days with your babe are key to their ability to “imprint” and that requires their natural scent and yours!  I like to think that’s another reason why I didn’t shower for three days.  Toothpaste, toothbrush, mouthwash, gum, body lotion (coconut oil would be a super healthy option here, and it even doubles as nipple cream if you want!), face wash (though I’d have gone with face wipes and Jojoba oil if I had to do it again), wash cloth and unscented baby wipes for your body (I didn’t shower the whole time I was there because the thought of getting my stitched vagina wet wasn’t happening, so I “showered” at the sink), shampoo (again, dry shampoo was my saving grace – didn’t shower the whole time I was there…this was pretty scented, though, so for Baby #2 I’m going to try to find a more natural one or make my own dry shampoo), HAIR THINGS – elastics, headbands – whatever you might want for during and after the baby is born.  Nothing more annoying than not being able to find a hair thing when all you want is that god damn hair out of your face.  Ugh.

Stuff for your feet.

A pair of slippers, a few socks…whatever you like on your feet.  Remember you could be in your room or roaming the halls.

Sleep stuff.

Your own pillow, eye mask, sound machine, etc. –  it was really nice to have these things 🙂  I was trying to catch a few winks wherever and however I could, so the comforts of my own pillow, a mask to block out the light if need be and some white noise was GREAT.  The hubby should bring a few pillows, too, cause that hospital pull out bed aint too comfy…


I’ll leave this up to you!  You’ll probably want your phone, camera, video camera, chargers, etc.  I didn’t have time for reading or games, etc., pre-baby…and I sure wasn’t interested in that post-baby!  But, as long as you’re not dragging 3 suitcases to the hospital…better to have more than less 🙂

Happy labor, mamas!  All the mothers of the world are there with you in spirit 🙂

Yours truly,


If you found something else super-helpful during your labor and delivery, please comment!  The more experiences the better.

Top 10 mommy “blog-o-nyms”…and how to decode them!

Who knew I would have needed a third degree just to decipher the acronyms that pepper the world of mommy blogs? I wasn’t prepared for this…a trend I’m starting to notice…

I’m no stranger to acronyms. I can pick them up and throw them down with the best of them. I mean, I’m on maternity leave from one of the top non-profits in the country where we practically speak in acronyms. When people join staff we give them a million-pager as part of their on-boarding process. But, where was that one-pager for new moms? Where was the chapter in “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” that told me I’d first need to master a new language before I could extract any shred of information from any one of the thousands of blogs? I’m your typical Type-A, over-achiever and I HATE feeling out of the loop – especially when it’s something I could have prepared for. I mean, if I’d known about these crazy acronyms, I might have made some flash cards. I probably would have color coded them. I definitely would have quizzed myself in the weeks leading up to my due date. Yeah, that’s just the kind of student I am. And yeah, there are that many acronyms that this kind of measure would have been an appropriate action step.

So, ladies, let me share a few of my favorite mommy blog-o-nyms so that YOU don’t have to experience the same outsider-ness that I did when I turned to the web to answer some of my most burning, post-baby questions. Selfishly, too, I’ll probably be obnoxious and use some of these in my future posts and that would be unfair to not provide you the code beforehand! Be sure to read these, and more at the link below, before venturing into the world of mommy blogs:

1. LO = little one
2. DH/DF/DP = dear husband, dear fiance, dear partner
3. BIP/NIP = breast feeding/nursing in public
4. EBF = exclusively breast feeding
5. FF = formula feeding
6. FTM = first time mom
7. SAHM = stay at home mom
8. WOH = work out of home
9. BM = breast milk (but be CAREFUL!! can also mean bowel movement…)
10. EBM = expressed breast milk

Yours truly,

You can find even more here: