Lately I have gotten really into dry skin brushing. Why? Well, I heard that you can dry-brush when pregnant. Now there are sooo many things that you can’t do when pregnant, aka basically everything, so I thought to myself, if this is something that is allowed, well then I’m going to do it! I’ve always been an obsessive exfoliator, and while I’ll always continue with that routine, I have made time, at least once a week, for this slightly more holistic treatment.

Important note for those who are expecting: get the OK from your doctor first before dry-brushing. Also make sure to be extra gentle, especially around the stomach. Use very light strokes or avoid the stomach area completely if it feels uncomfortable.

What is dry-brushing?

Dry skin brushing is one of the most natural, effective and inexpensive methods for reducing cellulite and promoting healthy, glowy skin. It buffs away dead skin, boosts circulation and lymphatic drainage and rids the body of toxins. Interested? Uh, who wouldn’t be.

I spoke with Joanna Vargas, New York City based esthetician, celeb facialist (clients like Michelle Williams and Rachel Weisz, NBD) and skin care expert, for the low-down on dry brushing.

Why: “The main purpose of dry brushing is to stimulate collagen production, which will help thicken the skin and lessen the appearance of cellulite. It also increases blood flow to the skin, and helps the lymphatic system release toxins by aiding digestion and kidney function. It also dramatically increases elasticity, so it’s great for lifting and toning problem areas. Results usually appear within the first two weeks!”

How often: “Dry brushing every day on heels, elbows and knees considerably improves their texture. Dry brushing immediately increases circulation, so you will feel warmer when you are done—perfect for winter! Try it before you get into the shower in the morning and you will see a difference in your skin quality and cellulite in days. But you can also just attempt to do this once a week.”

Type of Brush: “Look for a course bristled brush. The bristles should be natural, not synthetic, and preferably vegetable-derived. Find a brush with an attached handle for hard to reach spots.”

Direction: “Start at the tops of the feet and brush upwards towards the heart, making long sweeps, avoiding an overly harsh back and forth motion. Start at your feet, moving up the legs on both sides, then work from the arms toward your chest. On your stomach, direct the brush counterclockwise. Spend extra time on areas that tend to be more stagnant, like the inner thigh, and don’t forget to include the backs of the arms and your back.”

Post brushing: I like to follow with a nice body butter containing Shea and Cocoa Butter, especially in the winter for ultimate softness and hydration.”

Thanks Joanna for your incredible insight! I recommend this brush from Cap Beauty and clean body butters by Tata Harper, Earth Tu Face and Susanne Kaufmann.

When I found out I was pregnant, I started tossing all the products in my cabinet that weren’t totally clean. I really believe that, when possible, it’s smart to incorporate natural and organic beauty into your routine during pregnancy. Since this month marks the beginning of my 2nd trimester, I decided to get down to business and share my latest routine with all of you. Whether you’re also expecting or just looking for some ultra-clean substitutes to rotate into your regimen, scroll for major inspiration.bella hadid by ben rayner for wonderland september / october 2015

Spacemasks Self Heating Eye Mask – I am obsessed with these! Each single pouch contains a self-heating eye mask that basically transports you to another dimension. These babies relieve relieve eye strain and restore a restful glow. Pro tip: I love using these when I fly!

8 Faces – finally got my hands on this! 8 Faces is an all-in-one balm that is truly one of a kind. Made with Amla Berry, a super-fruit rich Vitamin C, this transformative solid oil boosts collagen, fights free radicals and brings a fresh glow to the skin. I absolutely adore the smell. The grapefruit, geranium and lavender blend is super calming. I use it right after masking to lock in the moisture.

Trilogy Certified Organic Rosehip Oil – I am using this oil just about everywhere. Jessica Richards of Shen Beauty got me really into Rosehip and I’ve been addicted ever since. I add a few drops to my moisturizer and a few drops into my stretch mark oil. This beauty oil is totally clean and clinically proven to improve skin evenness, add brightness and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

Patyka Intensive Moisturizing Mask – I popped into the coolest French beauty store Oh My Cream! and asked them what the best facemask is. This was their answer. This French brand is totally new to me, but I have been super happy with the results of this intense mask. It’s the kind of mask that you can use bi-weekly to plump and firm the skin. Highly recommend.

David Mallett Hair Serum #DM027 – another recent Paris find. David himself recommended this product to me (right after he told me that I remind him of Jennifer Connelly!!!). The serum is great for girls with not-so-thick hair. Apply to wet hair post-shampoo and conditioner. It’s also a dream for taming flyaways.

Tata Harper Crème Riche – I honestly don’t think there is a better nighttime moisturizer out there. If you do, can you please let me know what it is? This super rich cream is formulated with sixteen sources of hydration and twelve sources of age-defying botanicals that lift and plump the skin. Hyaluronic and essential fatty acids help lock in moisture for an instantly soft, supple, youthful appearance. Pro tip: make sure to really massage the product in your fingers before applying it to the face. (You know, it’s the same with La Mer.)

RMS Beauty Myth Eye Polish – I just picked up this baby in Paris last weekend and how was I living without this for so long??? UGH it’s good. It’s flesh colored so it gives the lid a slightly darker, more dramatic look. It feels a little 90s in the best way ever and gives that wet look too. I use it without any liner both day and night.

The Nue Co. Plant Protein + Gut Food – I was devastated to learn that the Clean Program shakes were a no-no during pregnancy. I emailed them myself and they said that Vitamin A levels were too high. During my 1st trimester and pre-pregnancy, I was following a strict TCM diet and so I gave up smoothies. Starting this year I am back on them and NOTHING makes me happier to get out of bed in the morning. This pea/ hemp mix has been the perfect replacement.

Tata Concentrated Brightening Essence – Pre-pregnancy, I was addicted to the SK-II Facial Essence Treatment (who knows maybe I’d still be using it but I literally just ran out). I used it for years and I still swear by it. In place of the SK-II version, I starting using Tata’s. I’ve been using it for about 3 weeks and it too is incredible. The lightweight essence is infused with Alpha and Beta Hydroxy technology and gives the complexion a toned and refined look, helping minimize the appearance of dark spots for a more even, luminous glow. It also boosts the performance of whatever serum I’m using. Need I say more?

Anything by Dr. Barbara Sturm…ok, her Glow Drops – Ok, so I know that this isn’t technically clean, BUT, I did watch Dr. Sturm apply these products onto her very own child and she used all her own products on herself when pregnant. And if anyone knows what is in them and the effects of this, it’s Dr. Sturm. Im going to take her word and incorporate her Glow Drops into my routine for added dewiness. It’s something I could really use a little more of right about now (hello, pale me). The point of her newest product is to transform and revitalize tired, dull skin and restore its radiance. Light reflecting pigments instantly create a visible youthful radiance and even cut out irregularities in complexion. I am mixing a few drops in with my serum and applying all over my face, eye area and neck. Voila.

Images, Bella Badid by Ben Rayner for Wonderland September / October 2015.

When I found out I was pregnant, I started tossing all the products in my cabinet that weren’t totally clean. I really believe that, when possible, it’s smart to incorporate natural and organic beauty into your routine during pregnancy. Since this month marks the beginning of my 2nd trimester, I decided to get down to business and share my latest routine with all of you. Whether you’re also expecting or just looking for some ultra-clean substitutes to rotate into your regimen, scroll for major inspiration.bella hadid by ben rayner for wonderland september / october 2015

Spacemasks Self Heating Eye Mask – I am obsessed with these! Each single pouch contains a self-heating eye mask that basically transports you to another dimension. These babies relieve relieve eye strain and restore a restful glow. Pro tip: I love using these when I fly!

8 Faces – finally got my hands on this! 8 Faces is an all-in-one balm that is truly one of a kind. Made with Amla Berry, a super-fruit rich Vitamin C, this transformative solid oil boosts collagen, fights free radicals and brings a fresh glow to the skin. I absolutely adore the smell. The grapefruit, geranium and lavender blend is super calming. I use it right after masking to lock in the moisture.

Trilogy Certified Organic Rosehip Oil – I am using this oil just about everywhere. Jessica Richards of Shen Beauty got me really into Rosehip and I’ve been addicted ever since. I add a few drops to my moisturizer and a few drops into my stretch mark oil. This beauty oil is totally clean and clinically proven to improve skin evenness, add brightness and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

Patyka Intensive Moisturizing Mask – I popped into the coolest French beauty store Oh My Cream! and asked them what the best facemask is. This was their answer. This French brand is totally new to me, but I have been super happy with the results of this intense mask. It’s the kind of mask that you can use bi-weekly to plump and firm the skin. Highly recommend.

David Mallett Hair Serum #DM027 – another recent Paris find. David himself recommended this product to me (right after he told me that I remind him of Jennifer Connelly!!!). The serum is great for girls with not-so-thick hair. Apply to wet hair post-shampoo and conditioner. It’s also a dream for taming flyaways.

Tata Harper Crème Riche – I honestly don’t think there is a better nighttime moisturizer out there. If you do, can you please let me know what it is? This super rich cream is formulated with sixteen sources of hydration and twelve sources of age-defying botanicals that lift and plump the skin. Hyaluronic and essential fatty acids help lock in moisture for an instantly soft, supple, youthful appearance. Pro tip: make sure to really massage the product in your fingers before applying it to the face. (You know, it’s the same with La Mer.)

RMS Beauty Myth Eye Polish – I just picked up this baby in Paris last weekend and how was I living without this for so long??? UGH it’s good. It’s flesh colored so it gives the lid a slightly darker, more dramatic look. It feels a little 90s in the best way ever and gives that wet look too. I use it without any liner both day and night.

The Nue Co. Plant Protein + Gut Food – I was devastated to learn that the Clean Program shakes were a no-no during pregnancy. I emailed them myself and they said that Vitamin A levels were too high. During my 1st trimester and pre-pregnancy, I was following a strict TCM diet and so I gave up smoothies. Starting this year I am back on them and NOTHING makes me happier to get out of bed in the morning. This pea/ hemp mix has been the perfect replacement.

Tata Concentrated Brightening Essence – Pre-pregnancy, I was addicted to the SK-II Facial Essence Treatment (who knows maybe I’d still be using it but I literally just ran out). I used it for years and I still swear by it. In place of the SK-II version, I starting using Tata’s. I’ve been using it for about 3 weeks and it too is incredible. The lightweight essence is infused with Alpha and Beta Hydroxy technology and gives the complexion a toned and refined look, helping minimize the appearance of dark spots for a more even, luminous glow. It also boosts the performance of whatever serum I’m using. Need I say more?

Anything by Dr. Barbara Sturm…ok, her Glow Drops – Ok, so I know that this isn’t technically clean, BUT, I did watch Dr. Sturm apply these products onto her very own child and she used all her own products on herself when pregnant. And if anyone knows what is in them and the effects of this, it’s Dr. Sturm. Im going to take her word and incorporate her Glow Drops into my routine for added dewiness. It’s something I could really use a little more of right about now (hello, pale me). The point of her newest product is to transform and revitalize tired, dull skin and restore its radiance. Light reflecting pigments instantly create a visible youthful radiance and even cut out irregularities in complexion. I am mixing a few drops in with my serum and applying all over my face, eye area and neck. Voila.

Images, Bella Badid by Ben Rayner for Wonderland September / October 2015.

In January of 2017, I had a miscarriage. It happened on a flight going over the Atlantic Ocean traveling from New York to Zurich. It was a route I had taken many times before when I had visited my husband Henry’s family at their home in Switzerland. But this trip was very unusual.

I’ll rewind and tell you the full story.

She's in the Glow Pregnancy AnnouncementI was back in New York hosting a baby shower at my apartment for my best friend Caitlin. Two weeks prior I had moved from New York to Switzerland with Henry and therefore this week was to be used very productively: I scheduled all the necessary appointments, my dentist, doctor and, of course, my facialist Dangene. I saw my doctor the Thursday before the shower and asked her to give me a pregnancy test. I didn’t actually think I was pregnant, but I had lost track of my cycle (you know — flying, stress, moving to a new continent) and just wanted to make sure I could booze over the weekend. There were moments of light bleeding before I arrived in New York, but I didn’t think anything of it. I brought this up to my doctor and she said it could be implantation bleeding, something that occurs when your egg actually gets fertilized. This obviously caught my attention, but I quickly dismissed the idea while leaving her office. She promised me the results by the following day.

For the next day and a half I ran around the city getting ready for the party and tying up all my loose ends. I also greeted one of my best friends Taylor who was visiting from Charleston. She was staying with me and I was thrilled! On Friday evening, a little before 6pm, I got a text from my doctor that read, “Annie. You are pregnant.” My heart dropped. I couldn’t believe the words I was reading and my body collapsed into the wall. Without speaking, I walked over to Taylor and showed her my phone. I was stunned.

The weekend flew by and before I knew it I was getting ready to leave New York. I had already shared the news with my friend Caitlin and my sister but the person I really needed to tell was Henry.

Henry wasn’t in Switzerland. He was on an annual trip with some of his friends in Georgia and completely out of reach. I wanted to tell him SO badly, but the thought of telling him on the phone and then having the call drop wasn’t the romantic story that I had dreamed up. I decided that I would wait until he arrived back in Zurich to tell him in person. I knew he would be beyond ecstatic (and that he would probably cry) and it would be beautiful and perfect and there was just no way I would want to miss that moment. The last thing I did before leaving was call my doctor to ask if it was okay to fly. She said yes, so off I went.

What went down on the plane is something that I wouldn’t wish for anyone. I woke up from a long sleep and went to the bathroom to find a tiny bit blood where there shouldn’t have been. While this was my first pregnancy, I still had some idea of what was happening. Of course, my mind jumped to the worst case. Was this a miscarriage?

I was alone and unable to use my cell phone to anxiously Google (“What does bleeding mean at 5 weeks pregnant?” “What does a miscarriage feel like?”). I was totally frozen. For the next 5 hours, I lay awake, staring at the blank TV screen in front of me. I just couldn’t be having a miscarriage, right? The plane eventually landed, but the bleeding had not stopped.

I’ll never forget the snowstorm that welcomed me home that day. I waited until it was past 9am New York time before calling my doctor to confirm with her what I had feared most and what I should do. She calmly told me that I had probably suffered from a miscarriage, and that I should go to the hospital just to be sure. I held onto the word “probably” with my dear life. Maybe there was a chance it didn’t really happen?

I had to find a hospital. At this point, I barely knew where the grocery store was, let alone the hospital and I didn’t even have a doctor. On top of that, there was the snowstorm escalating outside. And, let’s just say, my driving skills were rusty. The world was caving in on me.

I sat on my couch in a living room full of boxes and sent Henry a message that he needed to call me immediately. He did. It was heartbreaking telling him the news and my words were covered in tears. After the call, Henry sent me the address of a clinic that was just a few minutes from our house, so I dragged myself into my car and drove there slowly. Luckily, I didn’t have a wait more than a minute or two to see a doctor who spoke perfect English. Lucky me. After taking a quick look, she confirmed that I had suffered from a miscarriage, but because I was only five weeks pregnant, she assured me that this was very normal and I shouldn’t expect any other side effects. I asked her why this happened to me. Was it the flight? Was it my diet? Did I have too much to drink over the past few weeks? Was it the move? Is it stress? Is there something wrong with me? Why, why, why, why? Sometimes there is just no explanation.

Over the next 9 months we tried to have another baby. I tried everything: acupuncture, lymphatic massage, yoga, meditation, hypnotherapy, a fertility diet, ovulation sticks, long walks, I gave up coffee, I gave up Matcha, I used essential oils, I drank bone broth, I met regularly with a Traditional Chinese Medicine doctor, we bought a dog. Everything, but still nothing. I cried every month after unsuccessful pursuits. Henry and I went in for all kinds of testing and there was nothing they could find that could be preventing us from becoming pregnant. Unexplained pregnancy. As a consolidation I would often hear, “for many women it can often take one year to get pregnant.” Dude – this doesn’t help.

In August, my doctor asked me what I thought about in vitro fertilization (IVF). I hadn’t really considered it. It felt like such a last resort, like the end of the line. But it wasn’t the first time I’d heard of it. Many of my close friends in Europe and back in the states have used IVF both with successful and unsuccessful outcomes, and many were struggling with infertility, so I was of course very familiar with the concept. I knew that my impatience was getting the best of me and without a second thought we said let’s do it. So we did. And it worked. (More on my IVF experience to come. It was an experience in and of itself.)

Today marks my 15th week of pregnancy and I am so beyond thankful. My family, friends, the doctors, nurses, fertility specialists, acupuncturists (Esther Denz, you’re an angel)… I am so grateful for all your support and humility. Getting pregnant is a really funny thing. For some, it comes so easily, and for others, it takes patience, a lot of tears, even more work and an incredibly supportive partner. There were so many nights, too many to count, that I’d cry myself to sleep wondering what I could have done differently.

What I took away from this year-long experience is that sharing my story helps. Miscarriage, IVF and problems conceiving shouldn’t be so concealed. We shouldn’t be afraid or embarrassed to tell the not-so-bright side of our story. My bond grew tighter with old friends through shared stories and I was able to make new friends by talking over our parallel experiences. So here I am opening up to all of you. I hope that my story will inspire you to never give up on what you want, to never feel ashamed, to find patience, and to find the happiness, even when you feel like there is nothing left. Because there always is. If you are going through something similar, I encourage you to be open and talk to people you trust. This is what really nurtured my soul.

This seasonal, heart-warming recipe was adapted from this recipe by the Queen herself, Ina Garten. I just love her recipes (who doesn’t) because they are ALWAYS delicious and quite easy to follow. But because I really don’t do dairy or gluten and I try to avoid excess amounts of sugar, I always have to replace Ina’s love for butter and sugar with something else. Ina loves her sugar. I actually followed her recipe pretty closely the first time I made this recipe (cutting out butter though) and it was just a bit to sweet, even for me. I think you will really love my version. It’s super creamy, filling and oh so good for you.

It’s fall in Switzerland, and it’s actually my first fall since moving to Europe in January. The leaves here turn bright orange and yellow and the air is super crisp. It reminds me of New England fall, but just grander. One Sunday afternoon, I whipped up this simple, delicious and nutritious purred soup for Henry and I, and we have been making it ever since. Like literally once a week. I will make it over the weekend and it will last me throughout the whole week for lunch or easy dinners. I like this recipe because it uses ingredients that are seasonal. I bought everything from the bio stand a the farmers market, so I know that nothing has been effected with chemicals. Butternut squash is so awesome – its low in fat and is full of fiber. It also has lots of potassium and Vitamin B6 which is essential for the proper function of the nervous and immune systems.

Ingredients

4 tablespoons good olive oil
4 cups chopped yellow (or white) onions (3 large)
3 cloves garlic
5 pounds butternut squash (2 large)
1 1/2 pounds sweet apples (4 apples)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 cups water
2 Tbs vegetable bouillon
Hefty splash of white wine

Directions

Warm the olive oil and onions in a large stockpot uncovered over low heat for 10-15 minutes, until the onions are tender. Stir often, scraping the bottom of the pot. Peel the squash, cut in half, and remove the seeds. Cut the squash into chunks. Peel, quarter, and core the apples. Cut into chunks. Add the squash, apples, pepper, water, vegetable bouillon and the white wine to the pot. Bring to a boil, cover, and cook over low heat for 30 to 40 minutes, until the squash and apples are very soft. Remove from the heat and puree the soup (in intervals) using a heavy-duty blender or Vitamix. Pour the soup back into the pot. Check the salt and pepper and serve hot, or let it cook and store it in your fridge for the rest of the week. If the soup is too thick, add in water to change the consistency.