Sunday, January 29, 2012

Antioxidant Power

         In India, the selection of produce is incredible, and super affordable. Pomegranates, which typically sell for 2/$5 in the US (if there is an amazing sale) are 3 for $1. Unfortunately, due to the nature of germs and the fact that I have never been exposed to many of them before, I have to be very careful about the raw fruits and vegetables I meet. Gone are the daily, fresh, raw salads, much to my dismay. However, vegetables and fruits with peels are certainly allowed, and this week at the market, I bought practically every one in sight. My choices are all considered “superfruits”, with major antioxidant power and health benefits.

Papaya – With 313% of your daily vitamin C in a serving, this buttery fruit is sure to please your tastebuds and your doctor. Also present are Vitamins A & E, as well as papain, an enzyme that helps digestive health. Papayas have anti-inflammatory effects, provide immune support, and preserve lung health. They are especially delicious when spritzed with a touch of fresh lime juice and eaten like a melon.

Pomegranate – While cutting and peeling pomegranates is quite a bit of work, I’d say that enjoying this ancient fruit is well worth a little intensive labor. The antioxidants in pomegranates include polyphenols, such as tannins and anthocyanins, in higher amounts than in green tea and cranberry juice. There are even studies the delicious fruit may help prevent heart disease. Although I can’t promise any immediate benefit, I can personally guarantee that when put on top of plain frozen yogurt (especially Yogurtland’s, they make a yummy treat.

Oranges – Everyone knows that oranges are chock full of vitamin C, but what else can they do for your health? Low in calories (when eaten alone, avoid orange juice unless it is fresh-squeezed – there is too much added sugar!), they are fiber-rich, and provide complex-B vitamins such as thiamin, pyriodoxine, and folates, which the body needs from outside sources. Citrus fruits have been found to be helpful in the reduction of risk for cancers, arthritis, obesity, and coronary heart disease.

Carrots – Whenever I’m craving something sweet, I grab some carrots and go hog-wild. Especially delicious dipped in almond butter (which unfortunately, I have yet to find in India), these root vegetables contain, quite obviously, beta-carotene, known to improve eyesight. Another great pick for your daily dose of Vitamin-C, a recent study in the Netherlands found that orange vegetables help to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. So, make like a rabbit, grab a peeler, and get crunching!

Watermelon – Ah, the fruit that brings back the memories of warm summer days, childhood, and sunburns. Thirst-quenching and inflammation-lessening, the pink fruit from “down by the bay” (anyone remember that camp song?) contains a high amount of the antioxidant lycopene, which helps to neutralize free radicals in the body, lessening cell damage. While watermelons are most delicious in the summer season, they are available year-round in warmer clients, so I got very lucky studying here in India, as they are one of my favorite fruits!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Special Skincare Finds in Herbal Paradise

           So, how long do you think I can be in a new country before exploring what unique cosmetics they have to offer? Yes, if you guessed barely one day, you are correct. I can’t help it – I’m a makeup junkie.
          Thus far, I’ve only gotten as far as checking out the skincare – makeup will be next! I’m always searching for the “miracle product” to cure my acne-prone yet extremely dry skin, and with 10,000 years worth of knowledge of herbs, I figured the Indian lines may know a thing or two about what they are doing.

Chant Hydrating and Balancing Gel – I picked this up at The Rebirth Store, a franchise specializing in organic, natural bodycare products. Free of parabens, sodium laurel sulphate, and other harmful chemicals, the active ingredients in this unique clear gel moisturizer are Aloe Vera Juice, paprika, tumeric, and a host of essential oils – frankincense, lavendar, juniper berry, and cedar wood. For approximately $2, it is quite the steal! It is the ideal morning moisturizer, keeping oilies at bay while hydrating my skin. It would also be an ideal after-sun moisturizer. I can’t wait to put this in my makeup kit – it’s perfect to mix with foundation to create a tinted moisturizer.

Himalaya Herbals Purifying Neem Face Wash – Himalaya Herbals is the holistic Neutrogena of India – you can buy it almost anywhere, and their products are widely known to be non-irritating and highly effective. I saw that this product contained “Neem” and I was sold, as the best nail product I have ever used is Dr. Haushka’s Neem Nail Oil Pen, so I assumed the antibacterial tree leaf ingredient would cure it all. When combined with the anti-inflamatory Turmeric, it packs a major pimple-fighting punch. It sells for about $1, and it works better than other face washes that I’ve paid an arm and a leg for, removing all traces of makeup, including mascara, without stinging. The added bonus, of course, is that it has helped clear my skin dramatically, and it has only been about a week and a half.

Khadi Natural Rose Water - I’ve heard for quite some time that Rose Water makes the best toner, but never had the chance to try it. I wish I had started sooner! I picked up this Khadi product at a natural foods store near where I live, drawn to the fact that the ingredients were only rose petals, and, obviously, water. After washing my makeup off, I applied it all over my face and neck with a cotton pad. The intoxicating scent would be enough to keep me hooked, but I think it has tightened my pores and added a bit of moisture to my skin. I also soaked cotton balls and used them as compresses on my eyes for about ten minutes, which was supremely relaxing. For $2.50 (in India), this is a must-buy.

Kama Ayurveda Les Jardins D’Inde Sunscreen Lotion SPF 15 – I never thought I would be able to love another sunscreen as much as Josie Maran’s, which I stocked up on before coming to India.  I despise the typical “Banana Boat” coconut-chemical scent, and many mineral sunscreens leave a strange white cast and weird texture, and Josie’s Argan Oil sunblocks were the only ones I have been able to find that are void of these properties. Well, I think I just found a much cheaper, and even more wonderfully-scented alternative. Besides the lime, ginger, and nutmeg scent that is reminiscent of my favorite Jo Malone cologne, this lotion doesn’t break out my sensitive skin or lose effectiveness when applied under makeup. So far, I’ve only tested it walking around during the day in Mumbai, I can’t truly prove it’s effectiveness until I head to Goa for a holiday in the sun.

Kama Ayurveda Kumkumadi Miraculous Beauty Fluid – I saved the best for last. I’m fairly certain that this is a gift from the Hindu gods to give women perfect skin. When applied after toning with Rose Water, to the forehead, cheeks, nose, and chin, this blend of oils and herbs makes skin glow, without an oily texture. In ayurveda, saffron oil is used to help illuminate skin color, while sandalwood, vetiver and lotus clear blemishes. This is an incredible product that is supposed to work on all ages, and I am certainly hooked. Unfortunately, it costs about 3 times as much in the United States as it does here in India, but I think it’s worth it.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Bombay Dreams

          I can safely venture to say that in the past week, I’ve learned more than I have in 20 years. India has been incredible, and this is just the beginning.
View of the Arabian Sea from a coffee shop in Bandra
         Last night, on a terrace atop a sixteen-story building with an uncompromised view of the Arabian Sea, I contemplated how blessed I was to be somewhere as incredible as Bombay. lt’s a city of contrast, change, dreams, opportunity, devastation, poverty, wealth, and above all – an enchanting magic.
         Because my courses have yet to begin, I’ve had a little time to explore, but I’ve only scratched the surface. From the Gateway of India to Marine Drive to the fabulous seaside enclave of Bandra, there are numerous hotspots in Mumbai that I have already fallen in love with.

         My day isn’t complete without a fresh coconut water, and the colors of the city have inspired my dress and makeup style tremendously. The weather thus far has been a dream: about 80 degrees during the day, and a breezy 65 degrees at night. This means that all of the spring/summer trends I’ve been dying to try out since I saw them in September are wearable without potentially contracting frostbite, as they would have been at this time in New York.
Very chic girls wearing stunning saris
My finds so far: an embroidered pillow, jewelry
An Indian-style arm party
These earrings reminded me a bit of Chanel pre-fall: Paris Bombay
         I’ll end this post with pictures, because I think they express far more than my words could. Tomorrow I am doing makeup for a photoshoot, so a post about that should soon follow!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Oddities Abound at the Alameda Antiques Faire

Strange, strange troll

           New Years Day is typically spent comfortably in bed, soaking up the last bit of holiday relaxation and nursing a hangover. Instead of rising at 12:00PM or later this year, however, I was up bright and early and 4:00AM and in a car heading towards the tiny, naval base island near San Francisco called Alameda. Every first Sunday of the month (which just so happened to be New Years Day) a gigantic antiques fair with over 500 dealers is held on a large lot on the island, and diehard antiquers (and giddy newcomers, like my mom and I) arrive before 6:00AM to get first access to the best goods.
The scene, Oakland docks visible
         We ended up arriving around 5:30 AM – which allowed us primo-parking and a few minutes to apply a tiny bit of makeup before getting on line. A word of advice – don’t forget your flashlight! We ended up walking around looking at antiques in complete darkness until 7:00AM hit, which can be a little difficult. However, since I have properly trained myself to apply makeup in complete darkness, I was able to get a feel for the “good stuff” and scooped up a bunch of vintage rhinestone necklaces – which I’m planning to paint electric colors a la Tom Binns – bright and early.
            As the sun rose, we realized what a wonderful event we’d discovered. From the picturesque view of San Francisco to the unbelievable deals ($50 for a full set of stunning antique silverware, complete with box! Still kicking myself for not picking that one up), it’s an event to remember, regardless of whether you buy anything. This sheer oddities of the place are enough to make your mind begin to wonder the stories of the people who once owned such strange little things…

I ended up finding some fun little items:

  •        -  Two vintage pictures of the Virgin Mary in hand-decorated frames – I love the sparkly, handmade quality and I’m always attracted to art featuring Mary. Blame Catholic School.
  •           A lipstick holder in the shape of a girl – as a makeup artist, I’m always looking for new storage ideas. My grandmother gave me several mirrored trays that hold lipstick and perfume beautifully in a bathroom or on a vanity, and I think that this fun, sixties girl will compliment them well in the eerily-cute sort of way
  •        A bunch of vintage rhinestone jewelry – Love vintage rhinestone necklaces! I own a ton in weird colors and shapes and I love to layer them. The clear ones in this batch I want to paint with neon nail polish for even more of a Tom Binns look, as I mentioned before. The poodle and rabbit pins were just too cute (and cheap - $4 for both!) to pass up, and the snowflake pin would make a great pendant on a necklace once painted. The green and crystal earrings reminded me a lot of the over-exagerated, toy-like jewelry Miu Miu has for spring. 

          The biggest find of the day was this vintage MCM men’s leather overnight tote. MCM has recently had a bit of a revival, and I adore how this bag is worn in and it’s size and shape (which you can’t tell in this photo). I think it will be great to take with me to India.

It was a unbelievable steal at $40!

If you live in the Bay Area or are visiting San Francisco on vacation, I recommend checking the Antiques Faire out.

Alameda Point Antiques Faire, operates the first Sunday of every month. Located at 2900 Navy Way, Alameda, CA, 94501.