One Full Year as a Homeowner

One Full Year as a Homeowner

On August 17, 2016, Frank and I closed on our first home. It’s in Richmondtown, a beautiful and historic neighborhood of Staten Island. It has three bedrooms, one of which we converted into our lab/office, the other is a hodge-podge of a guest room-meets-storage, and the third is our bedroom. One and a half bathrooms, with the full bathroom having a very annoying separate tub and shower (my Mom loves this, I hate it, Frank couldn’t care less).  We have all the necessary amenities like a super-advanced washer and dryer who sing to us when finishing a load, dishwasher, full eat-in kitchen, dining room, living room, lots of closet space. We live in a community so there is a pool, people to mow our lawn and shovel our snow. The biggest drawback is no backyard.

In the past year, I thought it would feel more like my home at this point, but there is this eerie sense of impermanence and silent fear of something catastrophic breaking. We have filled the house with decorations and photographs, an electric fireplace, all new flooring, freshly painted walls, a whole new outdoor landscape, but it always feels unfinished.

I kid you not, I spent 7 hours painting the very tiny front gate last year. I was so meticulous not to spill one drop of paint on the ground. It was cathartic – covering up the rust of the house’s past, a fresh coat of white symbolizing our fresh start, and by April of this year, it was completely rusted again. Our hose has nowhere to go so it lays sloppily right in our front walkway. Instead of buying one of those springy hoses, or trying to roll it up, I just walk over it – I don’t know why I just don’t fix it, but looking at it makes me feel exhausted and exasperated.

The house always feels dirty to me. It didn’t feel like this in the apartment. Maybe it’s because we have Lucy now and my attention is elsewhere, or maybe cleaning just feels like one of those uphill battles. I know, why don’t I just hire someone, but it’s as simple as now we have a mortgage payment, double the electric bill, and so much insurance for so many things I don’t even know what’s covered.

The closet doors constantly break off. The doors in the lab are off the hinges and instead of fixing the closet, I have to physically move the door out of the way anytime I need access to the closet. The closet doors holding the washer and dryer fell off right into my toilet paper holder, so now they have a giant, gaping hole.

Having a home has made me feel so inadequate. I don’t know how to fix anything. I am consciously aware of how much of a Xennial I am. I am still calling my Dad to help me fix everything. I think this bothers Frank even more than it bothers me. But I have been wanting an extra shelf in the bathroom for so long, and I don’t know how to anchor screws to do that. If it weren’t for my Dad, I wouldn’t even know I had to anchor screws. I still have the shelf, but it’s not up on the wall…it sits on another shelf somewhere else.

Our couch rubs up against the wall and cuts a hole right through it. I’ve patched it twice already. I’m actually really good at wall patches. I fill with plaster and smooth it over, plaster again if needed, sand, and paint. I love the feeling of filling an empty space. I hate when the empty space keeps returning.

Still, with all of the idiosyncracies, it’s peachy-keen compared to the apartment we were in. We were rained on…for four months. The hot water heater broke at least a dozen times in the two years we were there. We were breathing in mold. We had drain flies. The tiles were falling off the bathroom walls. We had a ghost.

I actually think we still have a ghost.

In the apartment, the hallway lights would turn on and off by themselves. I would joke that we had a ghost, but in my gut, I figured all the roof leaking and being rained on probably damaged the wiring. That’s until we moved into the new house where the hallway lights turn on and off by themselves. Now I somewhat believe we may have a ghost. I don’t mind him/her, I just wish he/she would help us lower the electric bill.

Household maintenance is seriously annoying. As I write this, I am reminded that I should make an appointment to have the dryer vents cleaned out, check the fire and CO2 alarms, fire extinguisher, pour some drain cleaner down just to keep it all flowing.

Plus, there’s never enough money to actually fix anything. People tell me to give it time since we just bought the place, but it’s seriously overdue for new windows. And that bathroom. Eek. Can Bath Fitters drop a whole new bathroom in? How much does that cost?

Still, the place is ours, overflowing with boxes from my daily supplies deliveries and from the things I ask Frank to carry upstairs for me since I have the strength of a 98-year-old. When did we accumulate so much…stuff? Sometimes the inner neat-freak in me (who hides deep within reality) has a breakdown and just wants to walk around with black garbage bags and dump everything.

I can’t believe it’s been only a year. In many ways, this year felt like it was 10. I don’t know if this makes sense, but the days are short and the year is long. I need to learn how to just relax and allow everything to happen in its own time, but I am always so anxious to be finished that having a house unravels me because it’s never done.

I think I need to light an Unstressed Candle and drop in a bath bomb...might as well, there will still be things to fix tomorrow.

 

Kristen Fusaro-PizzoPresident

Mindful Moments for the Overly Anxious

Mindful Moments for the Overly Anxious

I am an anxious person. I am consistently riddled with various anxieties. If someone were to open the door to my mind right now, this is what they would see:

  • Must write a blog post
  • Should get to sleep because it’s past 1am
  • Less than a month before school starts
  • Did you even think about your lessons for next year?
  • Did you review the summer reading?
  • Where is your summer reading book?
  • Are the clothes still in the wash – they’re going to smell and need to be rewashed…
  • The bath bombs aren’t drying
  • When does the dog need Heartguard again?
  • Why did I eat so much at dinner again?
  • Is dust waging a war against me?
  • The water bill is due this quarter
  • I should really just relax
  • Now it’s 1:15
  • Hellllloooooo…time to blog!

For me to write this post about being mindful is a bit paradoxical. I have to be mindful of my own thoughts in order to write, but I need to be cognizant of my crazy to write about regrouping to mindfulness. And people wonder why I’m anxious.

Anxiety comes from living in the future. We lose our sense of mindfulness when overrun with thoughts about the next moment(s). Of course, we need to plan for our future and consider different future results for our actions; however, the anxiety we feel is not for us to control. 

I have to repeat this to myself when trying to gain mindfulness. I cannot control the future, but I can control right now. Ultimately, if we look to control “right now,” we shape our future.  For example, I have anxiety about the upcoming school year, which I get every single August. I cannot control September and my new schedule, but right now I can review my “first-day-of-school” lesson.

Mindful Practices

  1. If you’re rattled about something, what can you say or do right now to make progress? This applies to almost every anxiety.
  2. Cut off every distractor, whether it’s the TV, radio, phone, other people, etc. and ask yourself: “How are you feeling? Why are you feeling this?” – Treat yourself like you would your best friend in crisis.
  3. Stop and listen to your body. Are you tired, hungry, dehydrated? Drink a tall glass of water before making a decision or taking the next step. Give yourself some breathing room.
  4. Meditate by immersing yourself in a hot bath with calming scents like lavender and chamomile. Feel the steam open up your pores. Pay attention to how the water feels between your fingers. Just rest in the tub without worrying about washing, rinsing – allow yourself to soak.
  5. Clear your space to clear your mind. Spend time to clean one room completely and stay in that room for 10 minutes to appreciate your work. Notice how your mind feels in a clean environment.
  6. When you begin to feel anxiety, stand up, stretch, and walk outside. Do not look at your phone or watch. Take a walk while breathing in fresh air. Be alone.
  7. Tilt your neck to the left so the left side of your face is touching your left shoulder. Place your left hand on your head above your right ear. Place your right hand on the right side of your neck. Gently stretch until you feel the tension release. Repeat on the opposite side, reversing left-to-right.
  8. Take a bottle of Rest Easy, shake, spray right above your head and let the droplets fall onto you. Spray as much as you like. Close your eyes and just take deep breaths – breathe in through your nose slowly, and exhale through your mouth slowly.

When it comes to mindful practices, it’s all about retraining your mind to focus on the here and now. It’s a necessary step towards stress reduction and building new, good habits. If you had a bad habit you would like to break, stop and be mindful of your behavior, try one of the steps above, and do the positive behavior instead.

This takes time and mindfulness doesn’t just happen overnight, but with a continued promise to yourself to be mindful, you can reduce your stress, anxiety, and change your habits.

Kristen Fusaro-PizzoPresident

 

 

Tales of an Angry Handcrafter: Rude Soap, Candle, & Skincare Questions with Answers

Tales of an Angry Handcrafter- Rude Soap, Candle, & Skincare Questions with Answers

I like to present myself as a jovial person full of laughs and jokes. Put me in the right crowd and that’s exactly who I am.  I am also capable of fear-rendering rage, but this Hulk only comes out when 1) Driving – because I am obviously the only person who knows how to drive in the whole world, 2) Facing Arrogant Ignorance – because nothing grinds-my-gears quite like a person preaching from a soapbox (no pun intended) about wrong information.

I was vending at an expo earlier this week and it was uncharacteristically slow. On top of the lack of foot traffic, the number of rude people out of the few dozen people who stopped by was blisteringly high. But today’s post is not just about the rude commentary from the expo event; it also includes a collection of various rude comments I have received about my business and the answers I wish I would have had at the time.

Before I begin, I want to acknowledge some facts: 1) My business is not for everyone, 2) My personality and demeanor are not for everyone, 3) Those who appreciate both are the best people on Earth.  Now that we cleared that up…but seriously, it’s okay if my products don’t appeal to you – I may not understand your opinion, but I will always respect it. That said, a little respect goes a long way, and if you’re at a show and not loving the products at a vendor table, simply say “thank you” and walk away.

The following statements have been made to me at vendor events over the years by people who lack couth, were raised in a barnyard, or just sadistically enjoy rudeness. In an effort to minimize these comments in the future, I also have answers… I hope you appreciate my snark.

  1. Why should I buy your soap when I can buy a bar of soap at the grocery store for 99 cents?
    1. Why buy a Ferrari when you can get a 1974 Gremlin? The reality is that wherever people spend money is where they find the greatest value. If a person doesn’t value a product that is carefully formulated and hand-crafted, free of parabens, phthalates, detergents, animal by-products, is certified cruelty-free, vegan (OR sustainable palm-oil vegetarian), that is made specifically to moisturize skin, then I won’t be able to change your mind.
  2. Oh no, your products are not “all-natural”!
    1. No, and we never claim them to be “all-natural;” however, we do use natural ingredients mixed with SCIENCE. Why aren’t we touting ourselves as “all-natural”? Well, because poison ivy, scurvy, mold, and the bubonic plague are “all-natural,” and yet, we don’t want our bodies rubbed in them. There’s a reason people live well into their 80s now and not during Paleo times – it’s called SCIENCE.
  3. I can buy candles at XXCANDLE STOREXX for much cheaper.
    1. Yes, you probably could, and we’re sure they’re wonderful. So, what makes our candles stand out? Well, for one, we use USA soy wax, ensuring American farmers remain employed. We skip on paraffin because it’s petroleum-based, and we don’t believe big-oil needs any more money, plus soy burns much cleaner; we skip on beeswax because we’re a vegan company and love plants. Our wicks are cotton, not lead or zinc, so you won’t be burning any metal pollutants in your home. Our fragrances are always phthalate-free, minimizing the risk of allergic reaction and indoor air pollution. Our jars are Libbey-glass, which are American-made and high quality; they’re not going to combust on you. We assemble and hand-pour each and every candle with love and concentration to quality. So, you could spend less somewhere else, or you could support our small business that always has YOU (and not the almighty dollar) at the center of our vision.
  4. Oh yeah, I saw a video on how to make XYZ product myself; that’s easy to make.
    1. Awesome! We love supporting other makers! Let us know when you’ve bought all the ingredients, created a Good Manufacturing Process lab, purchased packaging, created a website, obtained liability insurance, designed and printed your labels, maintained batch numbers, followed FDA regulations, received a county business license, federal tax-ID, state tax-ID, and tested your products – then we’ll be super-psyched to purchase and try your products out, too!
  5. I make soap/scrubs/etc. also, can you share your recipe?
    1. In a word, nope. We’ll gladly share our ingredients (because we 1. have to legally disclose them, and 2. like to be transparent), but our recipes – sorry, friend, we went through a whole lot of testing (=time & money) to ensure our recipes are superb. However, we’ll happily private label our products for you to sell and make money with!
  6. You use lye in your soap. I can’t use soap with lye, it makes me itch/squirm/dance-on-bars, etc.
    1. So sorry to hear you’re unable to use SOAP – what do you wash with? Oh, you see, all soap is made with lye (even way back when great-great-great granny made her own soap). No lye = no soap.
  7. I only use natural essential oils which are chemical-free.
    1. We love essential oils, too! We use them in many of our products, but we also love phthalate-free fragrance oils. You see, there are only so many scents that can be recreated with essential oils, and we like to have the ability to tap into all fragrances.
    2. Also, essential oils are not “chemical-free” – if it’s chemical-free, it doesn’t exist on Earth.  For example, Lavender essential oil is comprised of “a total of 47
      compounds representing 98.4 – 99.7% of the oils were identified. 1,5-Dimethyl-1-vinyl-4-hexenylbutyrate was the main constituent of essential oil (43.73%), followed by 1,3,7-Octatriene, 3,7-dimethyl- (25.10%), Eucalyptol (7.32%), and Camphor (3.79%)” – African Journal of Microbiology Research.
  8. Are your products homemade, like in your kitchen?
    1. Our products are “handcrafted,” and maybe we’re just being picky about connotation here, but the implication of “homemade” versus “handcrafted” implies a product with less sterility and stability. And no, we actually have a dedicated LAB where we create our products.
  9. Why do you donate to rescuing animals and not something important like cancer research?
    1. We believe any cause for the freedom, health, and well-being of Earth’s creatures is a justifiable cause. Our focus happens to be animal rescue because we’re advocates for those who don’t have a voice and because we personally rescue pit bulls. However, we’d love to be a part of any charity event, and in fact, we currently support various religious, historical, civil-rights, and animal groups through vending.
  10. I don’t use soy because of all the GMOs and your products have soy.
    1. Yup, some of our products, and all of our candles do use soy wax or soybean oil. Truthfully, we don’t mind GMO soy for wax candles because it allows for a larger production to support American jobs – and since you don’t eat your candles, it’s not going to alter your body. As for our skincare products, we use organic soybean oil (and according to USDA standards, you cannot label something organic if it has GMOs) because we know that’s important to you and it’s going directly onto your body.

Yes, believe it or not, we have received all of these questions, and usually presented to us in a rude manner, but we remember the heart of it comes simply from not knowing our brand yet. Hopefully, this gives you a better idea of who we are…and a better way to ask questions when you don’t know!

Do you have “rude” questions for us? Please feel free to go rogue and ask away!

Kristen Fusaro-PizzoPresident

Taking a Moment Away from Social Media

Taking a Moment Away from Social Media

I love social media. I love reading funny updates from friends and family, watching videos of adorable pets, staying abreast of momentous occasions from people I don’t speak with very often. But despite all of the wonderful news I learn from social media, and the glorious “unfollow” button, I am still bogged with political banter, tortured animals, and nefarious messenger-chain-letters.

Even with all of the annoying aspects of social media, I still enjoyed scrolling through Facebook (which is where I spend most of my social media time)…until one day about a month ago. A friend of mine posted a candid photo of a bunch of us working on a project. The photo of me was awful – my hair was in a messy bun, I have gained a bunch of weight this year, and I overall looked like something from “The Worst of Jerry Springer.” I asked the person to take down the photo, but they kindly insisted that I was my own worst critic and it was “such an awesome candid photo of us all working together.” Finally, I decided she was probably right and I was thinking too much into it.

Until someone commented: “Who is that fat beast on the right?”

I was so shocked and hurt, and figured my friend would delete the comment, but no, instead came a mixed barrage of agreements, laughing emojis, and a couple of “you’re a jerk’s.” I quickly untagged myself from the photo and blocked the initiator, but I realized it wasn’t enough.

Something about social media perpetuates the cruelty of humanity. More so, the indignant, maligned sense of righteousness that comes along with the commenter. To him, I am subhuman, an unwieldy mass to be extinguished.

Of all the moments I try to recreate in my products, I never anticipated empathy as being a required sentiment.

I decided I would quit social media.

The hardest part of quitting social media as a business owner is that I drive 96% of my business from my business’ Facebook page and VIP group; without social media, my business would drown.  I thought about having someone else manage my business social media while I took a hiatus, but I realized I would lose the core of my business, and that’s the raw honesty and the community I built around that. When I decided to quit, I could only do so half-heartedly, and that hurt the most. I needed to keep my own page so I could manage everything with my business.

I decided I would quit posting and hide as much as possible from my timeline unless it was directly related to my business.  Part of me thought that I might be giving him power by shutting down, but I was reclaiming my sense of self – my right to not live my life on the web.

Since I stopped posting over the last month, I feel like I have washed off an enigmatic, parasitic need to prove myself. It’s as though I have spent the last 20 years (I’m going way back to AOL profiles and AIM away-messages here) documenting the fun and friends that I have. I spend so much less time searching for the next witty comment or cute photo that I am actually enjoying the little moments.

Now, I’m making it sound like I was hyper-addicted to social media, and that was never true, but I did find myself trying to make people laugh or showing off some fun activity I participated in. Worst of all, though, I would allow myself to keep going through photos of my past and compare my ever-fluctuating weight. I know what I am, but I felt like the consistent reminder of what I was was starting to break me.

I long for the opportunity to just delete my profile and make a strictly-business account, but there is so much good that comes from the ability to quickly message a group of people, create an event, or ask a question in my soaping groups – obliterating social media altogether would just isolate me from my time era.

With that said, it was high time I took a moment away from social media to find a moment of balance.

Kristen Fusaro-PizzoPresident

How to Enjoy Soy Candles Without Lighting Them

How to Enjoy Soy Candles Without Lighting Them

It’s fairly common for us to have a customer come up to one of our tables at our vendor shows, smell the candles, fall in love with the fragrances, and then explain that the customer “doesn’t burn candles.” We can completely understand and respect this for a variety of reasons: Small children in the home, curious pets, not allowed (such as dormitories or regulated apartments), fear of forgetting to extinguish the candle.

While highly unlikely, especially if following proper candle burning procedure, candles can potentially be dangerous – but this doesn’t mean you need to swear off candles.  There are a number of ways you can enjoy candles without ever actually lighting them.

  1. Simply decorative. Candles are beautiful all on their own. Their labels, their shape, the smoothness of the wax; having a candle located in the right place of the home can prove to be a lovely decoration.  Curate the colors, name of the candle, or the cold throw (the fragrance you smell when the candle is unlit) with the right room to create a full set.
    1. Candles as Decoration
      Photo Courtesy of Irene DellaCroce
  2.  Make a car smell amazing. Leave a candle with its lid off in a car, especially on a warm day, and the fragrance will emanate all throughout the vehicle. Try keeping it in a cupholder or securing it while the car is parked.
  3. Keep your candle by a window that gets a lot of sunlight. Your candle will warm up and the fragrance will gradually seep into the room. Note that the sunlight may cause discoloration of the wax and/or label.
  4. Place your candle on an electric candle warmer to gradually heat up the jar and melt the wax to make the fragrance come through for everyone to enjoy.
  5. Start a collection for aesthetic purposes. Everyone loves to collect things – it’s a natural desire to have all the parts of a whole. You can create a beautiful and impressive collection of candles for a variety of purposes – same color, same fragrance, same brand.
    1. IMG_0366
      The full collection of Bath, Body, Candle Moments natural soy candles
  6. Need a quick-fix fragrance? Try using a heat-gun or blow-dryer on your soy candle. Use the lowest setting possible, point at an angle at the wax (not directly at the wick), and circle the candle around while you’re warming the wax to be sure to create an even melt pool. This will warm the wax and bring in some gorgeous scent into the room without the fire! **(This is also an awesome fix if your candle was previously tunneling.)
  7. Keep one at your desk while you’re at work. Depending on the type of fragrance, a good quality soy candle will have a strong cold throw (the scent when unlit). This cold throw can create a light fragrance right at your desk. Pro tip – keep the lid on until you’re ready to take a whiff of scent so your nose doesn’t become “scent-blind” to the fragrance.

For millennia, people have been enjoying candles – okay, sometimes they just needed them for light – even unlit, candles are one item that has never gone out of style.

Kristen Fusaro-PizzoPresident

The Best Moments Products During Pregnancy

 

The Best Moments Products During Pregnancy

Pregnancy is an amazing time for future moms, but it can also be incredibly nerve-wracking. There are so many rules involved about what you can and cannot ingest, wear, smell, etc.; it may feel like pregnant women should be walking around with a caution label.

The Cautions

When it comes to fragrances and skincare for pregnant women, there’s a lot of information warning women against the use of essential oils or certain fragrances. The reality is that most of this information applies to ingesting essential oils – which we never recommend unless under the direct care of a certified medical professional.

The second major precaution for pregnant women is the warning against the use of phthalates. Phthalates are a chemical compound are often found in vinyl flooring, toys, detergents, lubricating agents, and fragrance in cosmetics.  While the FDA has declared they have found no conclusive evidence that phthalates are endocrine disruptors, phthalates are still under strict evaluation. The problem is that the FDA does not require the cosmetic industry to clearly indicate whether or not the fragrance used has phthalates, which is why Bath, Body, Candle Moments always takes extra precaution to always formulate WITHOUT phthalates. Rest assured, we are a 100% phthalate-free fragrance soap, skincare, and candle manufacturer.

In general, because of hormonal shifts in pregnant women, some fragrances a woman used to love may become irritating, and vice-versa. It really comes down to personal preference, and not safety, for pregnant women and fragrance. Fragrances are generally safe to use for pregnant women.

The most important point here is to be sure you’re gathering your information from credible resources.

For Sore Mommy Belly & Nipples

Carrying a baby is hard enough without the skin stretch irritation, which is why I recommend Butter Me Up Body Butter and/or our Body Lotion. Rich in butters and nourishing oils, it will help keep the skin supple, especially while it’s stretching to accommodate baby’s growth.  The Body Butter and Body Lotion will not necessarily help with stretch marks, as that really depends on genetics, and how hydrated momma keeps her skin, but consistent moisture is key to creating skin elasticity.

For sore nipples before giving birth, Butter Me Up and the Body Lotion will work wonders.  However, we recommend using organic extra virgin olive oil or organic raw cocoa butter while nursing and/or breastfeeding.  This is because we don’t want to risk baby ingesting any fragrance, but before baby comes, slather on that Body Butter and Body Lotion!

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For Hormone-Fickle Face

The hormone shifts in pregnant women can do all sorts of crazy things to your facial skin. You may have not seen a pimple since you were a teenager, and all of a sudden you’re breaking out like crazy, or suddenly your life-long acne has cleared up completely. The most important steps to take during this shift is to consistently stay well-hydrated, exfoliated, and moisturized.

Give your face a beautiful cleansing with our Resting Beach Face Dead Sea Mud Vegan Facial Bar Soap which is scented with soothing lavender, geranium, and ylang ylang essential oils. Follow up with Evanescence at night to keep your skin soft and supple. Two-three times per week use Face the Day to exfoliate and moisturize.

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For Relaxation

Our number-one recommendation for relaxation is our Rest Easy Aromatherapy Spray gently formulated with witch hazel and benzoic acid, scented with the essential oils of Lavender, Roman Chamomile, and German Chamomile. Completely alcohol-free, you can use this lovely spray on your body, face, linens, or you can use it to remove make-up, as a facial toner, and you can even use it to spray baby’s crib – that’s how gentle it is.

rest easy 2

Our phthalate-free cotton-wick soy candles are another wonderful way to just kick-back and relax while you’re pregnant. We highly recommend grabbing the remote, putting on your favorite fuzzy slippers, lighting the perfect Moments Candle, and just taking a deep breath of complete and utter calm and relaxation.

unstressed-candle

For Cleansing

For both momma and baby, the purest and most gentle soap we offer is the Purely Free Vegan Soap. Formulated without any fragrance and rich in cocoa butter, known for its super-moisturizing properties, this soap is absolutely an ideal way to cleanse while pregnant or to cleanse baby. It’s completely pure and natural with a luxurious and gentle lather that will leave skin feeling clean and soft with no irritation because it’s free of fragrance and detergents.

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As I mentioned earlier, the best thing you can do while you’re pregnant is to gather as much information as possible and test your own tolerance for different fragrances.


This article is in no way meant to treat or diagnose any disease, nor does it take the place of a consult with a medical professional. Please be sure to speak with a medical professional before using any essential oils while pregnant.

Kristen Fusaro-PizzoPresident

Balms, Lotions, Cremes, Butters…OH MY: Which Moisturizer is Best for You?

Balms, Lotions, Cremes, Butters...OH MY- Which Moisturizer is Best for You-

Let’s start with the basics here.  According to a simple Google search of the definition of moisturizer, this is what you will get:

Capture

The first important point to recognize is that each of these products has been created to moisturize the skin in some way, and they are all considered humectants – which is a substance that promotes the retention of moisture.    Seems like simple rhetoric, but in the cosmetic industry, there are subtle differences.

Balms: According to the FDA, balms have the connotation of healing, so they really shouldn’t be used for cosmetics, but more cosmetic-like drugs – for example, a “healing lip balm.” Technically, this would need drug clearance by the FDA, but assume the product does have this clearance, balms are waxy in texture. Many balms are made with beeswax and vegan balms are often made with candelilla, soy, or carnauba wax.  Balms are created to leave a waxy coating for healing or protection. You want to go for these if your skin is really damaged or you will be in an extreme climate.

Butters: Butters are very nourishing for extra dry skin. They work especially well after exfoliating or after a hot shower/bath when the pores are open for absorption. Butters are usually made with a 75% hard oil (or butter) to 25% liquid oil ratio. Butters don’t have water, so they don’t need a preservative, but be very careful not to put wet hands into a butter jar or you could be introducing bacteria and mold. With butters, a little goes a long way, so start small and add as needed. Be sure to thoroughly rub in a butter or it can feel greasy on the skin.

Creme versus Cream: Focusing on denotation, a “creme” is literally the French word for “cream;” however, when it comes to cosmetics, a creme usually has a lighter consistency compared to a cream. Creams are usually in jars and are focused on the face, under the eyes, or extremely dry skin; they usually have a high consistency of butters (like shea, mango, or cocoa). Cremes are also usually for the face, but are a little lighter in consistency and may have a greater focus on liquid oils over butters (like olive, grapeseed, jojoba, etc.). Most creams/cremes also have some water consistency. Choose a heavier cream if you have very dry skin, for harsher climates, or people with fair skin. A heavier cream also works well on the body for people with “ashy” skin. Opt for a creme if you have medium/dry or combination skin; you may need to switch for summer months.

Lotion: Lotions are lighter in consistency and texture. They are mostly comprised of purified water making them easily absorbed for nearly every skin type. Lotions can vary a great deal based on what types of oils and/or butters are being used, but high-quality lotions will use oils rich in antioxidants like avocado oil, mango butter, shea butter, cocoa butter, olive oil, sweet almond oil, jojoba oil, argan oil, rosehip seed oil (etc.). Lotions are also made with emulsifying wax to ensure the oil and water combine, as well as cetyl alcohol and/or stearic acid to create a fluffy consistency; don’t worry, these are all non-toxic chemicals derived from plants. Lotions also require a preservative since they are made with water; if you ever see a lotion without a preservative, run the other way because it absolutely will grow mold and/or bacteria. Lotions are easily spreadable and are perfect for quick, non-greasy moisture, or for skin that tends to get oily or sweaty.

Salves: If you’re seeking a salve, you’re probably in need of some topical medical treatment. Salves are in-between creams and balms; they are softer than balms but waxier than creams. Salves are often created for medicinal purposes, often called ointments; a common example that many of us have used is Vicks VapoRub. They are often infused with essential oils believed to suppress certain aches and pains – like a muscle salve, an after-workout salve, a clear breathing salve, etc. As with balms, please be sure the salve/ointment has FDA drug clearance before making any medicinal claims!

Serums: Serums are very thin in texture and are created to work beneath a regular creame/creme or lotion. They function to protect and encapsulate skin with extra soothing and moisturizing properties. Serums are almost completely comprised of botanical liquid oils and usually only require a few drops. You wear serums on your face and decolletage because they are rich and specifically made for that gentle skin. Be careful not to use too much, or it can definitely make your skin feel oily. Serums are especially useful for filling fine lines and wrinkles while helping the skin rejuvenate lost moisture, usually for dry skin or mature skin.  If you tend to have oily skin or acne, you probably don’t need a serum.

Hopefully this blog helped to clarify all your moisturizing needs! If you have any questions, please comment below!

Kristen Fusaro-PizzoPresident

The Six Wellness Alarms You Need to Program Into Your Phone Right Now

The Six Wellness Alarms You Need to Program Into Your Phone Right Now

I was at dinner with some friends when my phone alarm went off at 8:00 p.m.; it has rung at the same time for the last 14 years. People look at me strangely, and sometimes it has been awkward, but that alarm has saved me from myself, reminding me that I have to take an incredibly important medication at the same time every day.

Since the dawn of the industrial age, some people have criticized and villanized technology, most recently the use of smartphones. But the purpose of all technology has always been to improve lives, and if it’s used as a tool and not a substitution, it can be especially useful for our health and wellness.

You already probably track your steps and/or your food with your phone, and I’m sure you use it to wake you up, but you can use it to be proactive for a multitude of healthy behaviors.

Here are the six alarms I want you to program into your phone TODAY to remind you of your health and wellness.

  1. Any medications that you take! Program your phone to remind you to take your medications. Almost all medications are the most effective when taken at the same time every day. This is especially useful if you have to be mindful of being on a full or empty stomach.
  2. An hourly reminder to take a deep breath. Deep breathing helps to calm and relax you. This can also be great if you’re using an aromatherapy spray, such as Rest Easy; your deep breathing can be filled with lovely essential oils!
  3. An hourly reminder to stretch or take a quick walk. So much of our lives requires us to sit down, especially with the American work-through-lunch mindset, that a quick reminder to get up and keep the circulation moving in your body is healthy and rejuvenating.
  4. Call/Text a friend or family member reminder. The best way to keep your spirits up is by maintaining happy and healthy relationships. Setting a phone reminder is a great way to make sure you’re doing your part to show the people you care about that you’re thinking of them.
  5. Set a water reminder. This is best done in the middle of the day. Once you set your water intake goals, a reminder in the middle of the day can help you remember you should be about half-way to your goal.
  6. Bedtime reminder. The new iPhone actually has a bedtime feature which allows you to program how much sleep you need and reminds you to go to bed. This is really helpful to ensure your body is getting enough rest and maintaining a regular schedule.

Utilizing your phone (which has become an appendage for most of us) as a tool for wellness is yet another way you can ensure you’re taking the best steps towards a healthy life.

What alarms do you set on your phone?

kristen-fusaro-pizzopresident-2

Brewsome Bar Soap: Making Soap With Coffee, Beer, Wine, and Tea

Brewsome Bar Soap - Making Soap With Coffee, Beer, Wine, and Tea

A normal cold-process soap recipe calls for distilled water as one of the main ingredients. But what happens when you decide to kick your water to the curb? Apparently, brew soap is what happens. I was tired of the same distilled water base for my soap recipes, so I decided to see what the outcome of brew soaps would be. (In short, pretty awesome.)

Like millions of other Americans, I start my morning off with a cup of freshly brewed coffee. During the months when I teach, I’m usually harried and run to a local coffee shop to grab my fix of morning joe, but during the summer months, I like to brew my own coffee and sip it outside on my porch while reading.

Bath Body Candle Moments Mocha Coffee Break Soap

The Mocha Coffee Break Soap has been part of our permanent line. Inspired by sipping coffee, the love of the smell of chocolate, and the desire to create an exfoliating, scratchy bar of soap, Mocha Coffee Break was born.  Screenshot 2017-06-02 23.25.49

Mocha Coffee Break Soap soon became a fan favorite – with myself and my husband included. I love the scratchiness and exfoliation, plus the extra caffeine boost from the soap made with real Colombian coffee helps to tighten pores.

The spring I figured – why stop at coffee? I decided to expand my soaping horizons and explore the skin benefits – and the fun – of using other brews to make soap.

I tried out beer soap. I use Samuel Adams Oatmeal Cappuccino Stout to make Monday Night Football Vegan Soap.  Because of the sugar, beer soap produces a beautiful, fluffy lather. I thought this would be especially perfect for Father’s Day, so I scented it with cedarwood essential oil, with a dash of patchouli. Between the hoppiness of the beer and the woodsiness of the cedarwood, this soap smells masculine, strong, but still elegant.

 

Mondayy Night Football Vegan Beer Soap
Monday Night Football Vegan Soap

 

I really loved using the cocoa butter in this bar soap because it’s extra firm, and I truly wanted to give the impression of a “manly” soap. Working with the beer was a lot easier than I anticipated. After boiling off the alcohol, it actually behaved very well in the soap to produce a bar that was smooth, beautiful, fragrant, and easy to cut. I sincerely believe using a high-quality beer made all the difference.

 

Girls' Night Out Wine Soap
Girls Night Out Wine Soap

 

The name of this soap was born before the idea. I always loved the concept of a “Girls Night Out” theme for one of our moments, but never could quite grasp what that scent was. That’s when I got an invitation from my friend to come over to her house to play board games and sip wine. Boom. To the brew-mobile, Batman! GIRLS NIGHT OUT WINE SOAP! 

Working with wine was a real challenge. First, I had to boil off the alcohol but had to watch not to boil it too long or I would actually burn the wine. Then I had to let the wine cool, freeze, and finally, I could mix it with the lye. The amount of sugar in wine is so intense that mixing it with the lye without freezing would cause the temperatures to go over 300 degrees Fahrenheit – completely making a burning mess.  On the flip side, the sugar creates a beautiful fluffy lather, and the Cabernet gives the soap such a floral fragrance. This soap did start to seize on me pretty fast when mixing, so it’s a bit more rugged looking than others, but an absolutely gorgeous bar of soap.

 

Tea Time Soap
Tea Time Vegan Soap

 

Finally, I wanted to work with one of my favorite comfort beverages – Early Gray Tea. I love the natural bergamot that comes through with Early Gray, and the softness the tea makes for the water. In soap, that soft water translated to a lustrous, smooth bar of beautiful Tea Time Vegan Soap.

I scented this one with crisp cranberries and lemon poppy, so the top notes are bursting with a freshness closing off bottom notes that have a light, sugary edge. I chose to make this bar with shea butter to give it an extra firmness with lovely moisturizing properties. I sincerely love the way this bar smells and wish I would have made a bigger batch!


Overall, I really enjoyed working with different mediums to make soap and will continue to experiment in the future.  I would love to hear your ideas on what I should make next!

kristen-fusaro-pizzopresident-2

Introducing Twenty Paws Rescue: Our New Charity Organization

Introducing Twenty Paws Rescue- Our New Charity Organization.jpg

Frank and I had been thinking about adding a dog to our family for a long time.  We were waiting for the right moment…pun intended.  When we first got married, we lived in an apartment that wouldn’t allow pets, so it was out of our hands. But when we finally bought our house this past August, it was only a matter of time.

I admit I was hesitant at first. I LOVE dogs. I’ve raised two dogs in my life: Rocky, a lab-beagle mix, and Daisy a pit bull mix, but I was living with my parents and completely aware of how much help they offered. Dogs need tons of love and attention and working two full-time jobs and one part-time job, I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to give enough of myself.

And then there was Lucy.

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Frank and I saw this little “pocket pittie” (as she was described by Twenty Paws Rescue) and fell in love. Her bio read she was good with other dogs and kids, perfect for us since we have a niece and nephew, and tons of other dogs in our neighborhood. We put our application in, and after a rigorous interview by Rachel and her team at Twenty Paws, we drove to the Upper East Side of Manhattan on May 6th to pick up our Lucy, who had traveled all the way from North Carolina.

After a visit to our vet, we learned that little Lucy, who is only two (and shares the same birthday as our niece…which is also our dating anniversary, April 17th), was used for breeding purposes. She had also suffered from Lyme Disease (cured now). This poor baby had been through so much.

Now coming into our fourth week with Lucy, she is vibrant, alive, and not a pocket pittie anymore, but very much a full, healthy girl at around 58 pounds.

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Lucy loves her walks! We take her on three a day and hire Wag to take her on a fourth while we’re at work.   (Disclosure: Click the link for Wag to get a free week of walks for your dog and a free week of walks for Lucy!)

So, after many conversations, we decided that it would be most beneficial for pups to make our priority charity Twenty Paws Rescue, a not-for-profit Brooklyn-based charity focused on emptying shelters and saving dogs. We loved our time with Staten Island Hope Animal Rescue and hope all of our donations have served them well, but we are moving forward to help rescue the dogs now.

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A portion of all of your purchases from here on in will be donated to Twenty Paws Rescue and we are so excited to begin this new partnership in honor of all the good they do for dogs, and in honor of our Lucy.

kristen-fusaro-pizzopresident-2