Self-care is something that I've been very interested in over the past few years.  The idea of treating and nourishing your outer and inner self was just too attractive not to pass up.

I fell in love with the idea of enjoying facials, massages, and various other beauty rituals as a means of taking care of myself.  All of these things are really great. But they fall into the category of what I call "self-care 101." These are the easy activities that we enjoy doing but they only scratch the surface of the layers that make up one's self-care journey. 

Let's talk about some of the not-so-easy self-care activities that are just as important as getting a mani-pedi. 
But first, I'll tell you a quick story. 

Back when I worked in corporate America, one of my responsibilities was to address employee complaints.  Often times, employees would request a transfer from one location to another because of disputes with their supervisor.  They'd complain that their manager was too strict or had too many rules.  Sometimes they'd ask to go to a location where they knew that manager was much more lax about following every rule.  The person assumed that they'd be happier working in an environment with less accountability.

More often than not, once the transfer was granted, the employee would soon realize that they made a mistake. Because they already know the value of working in a well-run environment, the difference at their new location is like night and day. They assumed that having fewer rules would make them happier but they were mistaken.

The truth is, many of us thrive in an environment that consists of daily rituals, clear expectations, and various routines that support optimal outcomes.  A well-run organization is one where a solid foundational structure is in place.  In our personal lives, however, we often live unregimented lives.  Don't get me wrong, we do follow some routines.  But most of them are in place because if we don't do them, we will suffer a consequence (example, we go to work every day otherwise, we will lose our job).

On the flip side, there are rituals and routines we should incorporate and follow because they support our overall well being.  Those are the first ones to suffer whenever laziness creeps in.  Why? Because the consequences aren't immediate. Since the consequences seem far away (or non-existent) these self-care activities take a back seat.

Some examples of self-care rituals that tend to fall by the wayside are:

A portion of the items on the list are enjoyable, but many of them aren't.  It's kinda like working for a boss who's making you do things you don't feel like doing.  But, there's a reason why she has such high standards.  It's because she knows that a great running operation will generate greater rewards.  Many of the employees didn't realize it, but transferring to another location where the manager didn't run a tight operation meant that they'd probably receive a smaller performance bonus (because the other location was underperforming in sales results).  In the end, they were only hurting themselves.  

We have to get really serious about our self-care.  It's more than just splurging on skin products or treating yourself to your heart's desire.  What we truly desire is to feel fulfilled.  And most everything I listed above will contribute to your fulfillment.  

Do you have to do everything on that list at once? 

Nope. 

Just pick the one or two habits missing from your life that could really make a huge impact on your overall wellbeing.  Once you get rolling, you'll continue to build on your self-care routine as time goes on.  But, let's not forget that sometimes, the harder actions can contribute to you the most.  
As a woman with tiny little eyes, I'm forever grateful for the advent of mascara.  Unfortunately for me, simply coating my lashes with mascara doesn't always produce the result I want.  I'm pretty sure that I own over 20 tubes of mascara.  Each one of them promised to give me the appearance of false lashes but many failed to deliver.

Over the years, I picked up a few tips to help improve the end result. Some worked well, others, not so much.  But today, I learned a new trick that made an immediate difference.  Best of all, the solution is absolutely free and takes only a second.
This answer that I've been waiting for is so easy that I kick myself for not figuring it out sooner.

Most of us have half a dozen or more mascaras in our possession.  The reason for this is because we're steadily looking for the absolute perfect mascara.  Little did we know that we may already have our holy grail mascara in our possession without even knowing it.

Let me explain.

My top 3 favorite mascaras are:
1. Heroine Make 
2. L'Oreal Telescopic
3. Charlotte Tilbury Legendary Lashes

I adore these three because each of them has something to offer. I'm addicted to Heroine Make's long lasting, ultra black formula, but in all honesty, the wand is quite basic.  Telescopic has this tiny little wand that has the ability to find and enhance my tiny lashes.  And Charlotte Tilbury's mega wand gives me volume like no one else but the formula isn't all that great.

If only I could combine my favorites into one.  That would be a dream come true.   Today I realized that combining their qualities is actually possible.  All it took was dipping Telescopic's wand into Heroine Make's tube.  The combination of my favorite wand and my perfect formula created magic, unlike anything I've ever experienced before.  My lashes were ultra defined (thank's to Telescopic's wand) and very pronounced (shout out Heroine Make's ultra black pigment). This combination far surpasses all the mascara's I've ever tried.

Ever.

If you have a mascara with an amazing formula but a so-so wand, it's ok to experiment to find your perfect combination.  Do a little swapping and see what difference it makes.  This could be a real game changer.

I adore when celebrities give us a glimpse of products they're loving.  Some of them are very generous with sharing some of their #notsponsored favorites.  Karrueche Tran is a favorite on this blog because (1.) she's really into her skin and beauty routine and (2.) she shares what snapshots of the products she loves.

The other day, she shared a simple image of a product with no caption.  As usual, I took a screen shot.  After taking the screenshot, I did something I've never done before.  I immediately went online and purchased without even researching any reviews.
Luckily for me, I found a sample size to try.  The product is not cheap so I wanted to test it out for minimal investment.  Also, the sample is perfect for travel.  A few days later, the mask arrived.  At this point, I still hadn't researched reviews so I had no idea what to expect.

Farmacy's Honey Potion behaves much differently than your typical honey mask.  I've masked with pure honey before and loved it! This face mask is nothing masking with honey alone.  When you visually inspect the mask, it has the look, texture, and thickness of golden honey.  The best way to describe the consistency is like a gooey (luxurious) balm.

But once the product touches the skin, magic starts to happen.  During application, the mask quickly transforms into a rich cream.  Moments later, you start to feel a warming sensation on your skin as the mask begins to activate.  You heard me right, this is a warming mask that stimulates the skin upon application.

Some of the hero ingredients include honey (of course), royal jelly, and echinacea which is rich in antioxidants.  They also source the honey from bees who pollinate echinacea plants.  Studies have found that echinacea is effective at reducing the appearance of wrinkles in as little as 1 month of use.   Basically, this mask is not only hydrating but has potent anti-aging benefits as well.

So far I've used the mask twice.  I'll share my thoughts by first starting with the drawbacks.  Honey potion is marketed as a hydrating mask.  I'll be honest with you, it's not all that hydrating.  Honestly, using plain honey (or better yet, manuka honey) on my face produced superior hydration.  I'd describe this more as a nourishing mask. 

Even though it's didn't deliver with regards to its promise to hydrate the skin, I still love this mask and here's why.  With most masks, you apply then wait patiently and passively to finally rinse it off.  With Honey Potion, you are expected to actively participate in the masking experience by massaging the skin while you wait.  THIS IS THE PERFECT MASSAGE MASK.  Your fingers easily glide over the skin without feeling sticky.  The more you massage, you more you engage the warming sensation.  The warming sensation is so valuable because that means that blood flow is being directed to the face.

This precious blood flow to the face is worth its weight in gold.  I believe that younger skin receives more circulation to the face than mature skin.  It's part of the reason why younger skin has a certain glow while mature skin appears flat and lackluster. With Honey Potion, you manually promote facial blood flow via massage while enjoying a little extra help from the product itself.

NO OTHER FACE MASK PRODUCT IN MY ARSENAL DOES THIS.

For that reason, I absolutely adore this mask and plan on investing in the full size. I also believe this is one of those products that provide cumulative benefits with consistent use.  I say this because that has my experience from only using Honey Potion two times.  Once I get the full size, I plan on using it regularly while executing a full facial massage routine.

I adore when celebrities give us a glimpse of products they're loving.  Some of them are very generous with sharing some of their #notsponsored favorites.  Karrueche Tran is a favorite on this blog because (1.) she's really into her skin and beauty routine and (2.) she shares what snapshots of the products she loves.

The other day, she shared a simple image of a product with no caption.  As usual, I took a screen shot.  After taking the screenshot, I did something I've never done before.  I immediately went online and purchased without even researching any reviews.
Luckily for me, I found a sample size to try.  The product is not cheap so I wanted to test it out for minimal investment.  Also, the sample is perfect for travel.  A few days later, the mask arrived.  At this point, I still hadn't researched reviews so I had no idea what to expect.

Farmacy's Honey Potion behaves much differently than your typical honey mask.  I've masked with pure honey before and loved it! This face mask is nothing masking with honey alone.  When you visually inspect the mask, it has the look, texture, and thickness of golden honey.  The best way to describe the consistency is like a gooey (luxurious) balm.

But once the product touches the skin, magic starts to happen.  During application, the mask quickly transforms into a rich cream.  Moments later, you start to feel a warming sensation on your skin as the mask begins to activate.  You heard me right, this is a warming mask that stimulates the skin upon application.

Some of the hero ingredients include honey (of course), royal jelly, and echinacea which is rich in antioxidants.  They also source the honey from bees who pollinate echinacea plants.  Studies have found that echinacea is effective at reducing the appearance of wrinkles in as little as 1 month of use.   Basically, this mask is not only hydrating but has potent anti-aging benefits as well.

So far I've used the mask twice.  I'll share my thoughts by first starting with the drawbacks.  Honey potion is marketed as a hydrating mask.  I'll be honest with you, it's not all that hydrating.  Honestly, using plain honey (or better yet, manuka honey) on my face produced superior hydration.  I'd describe this more as a nourishing mask. 

Even though it's didn't deliver with regards to its promise to hydrate the skin, I still love this mask and here's why.  With most masks, you apply then wait patiently and passively to finally rinse it off.  With Honey Potion, you are expected to actively participate in the masking experience by massaging the skin while you wait.  THIS IS THE PERFECT MASSAGE MASK.  Your fingers easily glide over the skin without feeling sticky.  The more you massage, you more you engage the warming sensation.  The warming sensation is so valuable because that means that blood flow is being directed to the face.

This precious blood flow to the face is worth its weight in gold.  I believe that younger skin receives more circulation to the face than mature skin.  It's part of the reason why younger skin has a certain glow while mature skin appears flat and lackluster. With Honey Potion, you manually promote facial blood flow via massage while enjoying a little extra help from the product itself.

NO OTHER FACE MASK PRODUCT IN MY ARSENAL DOES THIS.

For that reason, I absolutely adore this mask and plan on investing in the full size. I also believe this is one of those products that provide cumulative benefits with consistent use.  I say this because that has my experience from only using Honey Potion two times.  Once I get the full size, I plan on using it regularly while executing a full facial massage routine.

My tummy has always been my problem area.  Not only do I store a lot of belly fat in my midsection, I'm also prone to bloating.  Recently, I decided that I've had enough.  Instead of sitting back and hoping the bloat would go away, I implemented what I call the "bloat protocol" to massively reduce my daily bloating.

My tummy is rarely ever completely flat.  The culprit is a combination of excess belly fat and bloat.  Because I was bloated most of the time, I couldn't accurately assess the amount of belly fat I was dealing with.  In order to get to the truth, I had to eliminate the bloating once and for all.
I created a regimen of sorts to directly fight the bloating.  For me, it wasn't as simple as removing a specific food from my diet.  I had to attack it from multiple sides.  This is what worked for me.

Fight the Stagnancy
I hypothesized that a root cause of my bloating had to do with stagnancy.  The approach I took was to utilize multiple tactics that promote healthy circulation in the midsection.  I noticed that the bloating was the most obvious when I was drinking the least amount of water.  Sometimes we think that consuming a bunch of water will contribute to bloat.  It may, but only for a short period of time.  In the long run, water is an ally in the war against bloated bellies.  Water is a must because it stimulates the colon and promotes toxin removal.  When you're dehydrated, digestion is put on hold. For this reason, adequate daily water intake is key if you want a flatter belly.

When I get really serious about bloating, I transform my water into a detox water simply by adding lemon and apple cider vinegar.  This helps stimulates the gut even more than water alone.  I'm now realizing that I'm prone to bloat and that I have to enjoy a lemon water tonic on a regular basis.  I can't just take it reactively when the bloating gets bad. I have to make it a regular part of my routine.

The other way I attacked the swelling of my belly was to engage in a daily routine of walking.  This was done to also counteract stagnancy and promote circulation.  Walking for 20 minutes or more after a meal (or on an empty stomach) really stimulates the midsection.  Whenever I felt sluggish and bloated, I knew it was time to for a walk.  One hundred percent of the time, I feel better after walking because some of the discomfort related to bloating is lessened.

Water, lemon water, and activity usually helps a lot.  But when I really want to promote a flatter tummy, I need to implement phase II of the bloat protocol.

This is where I address my eating habits.

If I want a flatter belly, the most effective strategy I can take is to manage what I eat and how I eat.  There were only a few instances when I had an effortlessly flat tummy.  One of those times was when I practiced conscious eating.  Basically, that's where I chewed eat bite thoroughly (between 20-30 chews per bite).  Doing this made me eat much less than ever before.  I got full from the tiniest meals.  Eventually, the size of my tummy adjusted my new food intake levels.  And because I consumed fewer calories, I lost weight naturally.   Conscious eating actives the digestive process early on.  All that chewing preps the stomach to easily digest the food. By the time the food reaches the belly, much of the work is already done.

It's a good idea to nix the food that your belly doesn't like.  For some people, it's dairy, meat, or high carb foods.  Pay attention to what you eat and how your tummy reacts.  I know that if I eat 3 large meals a day, I'll get bloated.  There's no getting around that.  My best bet is to counteract it with lemon water and frequent walks.  It also makes sense to stay on top of your probiotic and enzyme consumption to keep your tummy healthy.  For example, if I eat a lot of meat, I make sure to take this.  Once you know your bloat triggers, you then have to make a choice if you're going to keep consuming those foods.  If so, you should also develop a strategy to counteract the ill effects of those foods.

When I consistently follow these rules, my bloat is a non-factor.  After managing the bloat, I could actually see how much belly fat I actually had.  This is super helpful because then I could move on to my belly fat elimination protocol (which I'm currently working on).  Once I have that down pact, I'll be sure to share.