Saturday, December 29, 2012

Sales Parties

I am about to write a post that will not be popular among my friends but here goes.

If you want to sell cosmetics/ candles/ cooking supplies/ sex toys/ the latest pyramid scheme to supplement your income, that's great. Have your party, but leave me out of it. I buy the things I want from either the store or the internet. I research the things I want and make an informed decision. The last thing I want to do is be pressured by a friend to buy something I don't need/ want because they are throwing a party. I don't care if the party is a great way to get out of the house or a fun time hanging out with friends. The real reason for the party is to sell me something. Even if you say "no pressure, just come and hang out" I will personally feel pressured to buy something simply because you are my friend and that's just not cool. I feel like the whole premise behind these parties is rude. I don't beg you all to buy Bonne Bell cosmetics to support my income.

That's basically it. Every time I've gotten an invite for the latest "party" I've wanted to say something but I didn't want the person to feel like I was singling them out. Since I'm not currently invited to any of these types of parties I figured it was a good time to get it off my chest. Obviously this is just my opinion. I'm sure there are plenty of people out there who don't mind being pitched to by their friends. I'm not one of them. The next time you are having a party to sell something, feel free to leave me off the invite list.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Skin Care: Anti-Aging Products

Wrinkles and aging skin are a fact of life. There are many things that contribute to aging skin:

  1. Sun Damage: Like it or not, repeated exposure to UVA & UVB rays whether from the sun or a tanning bed dramatically speeds up the aging process of the skin. UVA rays penetrate more deeply than UVB rays. UVA is responsible for destruction of collagen and elastin and when they are destroyed, your skin gets saggy and wrinkled. UVB rays are primarily responsible for sunburns. Unless your sunscreen product say "Broad Spectrum coverage, it will only block UVB rays not UVA. Make sure you are blocking both.
  2. Genetics: People with darker skin tones are less susceptible to wrinkles caused by sun damage.
  3. Hormones: Women who have gone through menopause frequently begin to notice thinning and more saggy skin due to the hormonal changes. 
  4. Getting Old: Gravity is a bitch. Every year you are on this earth gravity pulls down on your skin and stretches it more.
  5. Muscle Movement: The muscles you use the most, be it smiling, frowning or squinting into the sun, wrinkle the fastest and the deepest. 
This is certainly not an exhaustive list but these are some of the major causes of aging. Now I'm going to tell you the bad news

There isn't a miracle vitamin, plant extract, or any other ingredient anywhere in the world that can change one wrinkle on your face. Stop looking for one ingredient that does it all, because that just leads to disappointment. There are thousands of anti-wrinkle products available around the world with claims that are either misleading or just plain false about what they can do for your skin.

So now that we have that out of the way- what can we do to care for aging skin?

  1. Wear broad spectrum sunscreen every day before going in the daylight. EVERY day, not just in the summer, or on days you're at the amusement park, 365 days a year. Sun has been proved to be a huge contributing factor to aging and an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
  2. Exfoliate! Removing the thickened outer layer of skin can increase collagen production and help your skin form a better structure. You don't have to exfoliate with a scrub (indeed many commercially available products have particles that are too large or too hard to do anything other that tear at your skin). You can also exfoliate with AHA (alpha hydroxy acids like glycolic acid or lactic acid) and BHA (beta-hydroxy acids like salicylic acid). As I discussed in my post about acne, any product using AHAs or BHAs to exfoliate your skin must have a pH between 3 and 4. Anything outside this range is either too irritating or simply won't work. 
  3. Retin-A, Renova, Avita and Tazorac are prescription topical products to improve sun damaged or wrinkled skin. These products are cell-communicating ingredients. They can "talk" to your skin and tell it what to do. Niacinamide (Vitamin B3 or nicotinioic acid) is a great non prescription cell communicating ingredient. It increases the level of cerimide in the skin which helps regulate water loss and stimulates microcirculation in the dermis. Some other cell communicating ingredients to look for include: milk thistle, Filipendula glaberrima (Nakai root extract), retinyl palmitate, retinol, peptides, and phospholipids. Using cell communicating ingredients in skin care is in it's infancy. This area of research is sure to expand in the coming years. 
  4. Maintain your skin's barrier. Think of the barrier as the mortar in between the bricks. Technically known as the extracellular matrix, the skin's barrier helps to keep your skin soft, smooth, moist and of course keep the bad stuff out. When the barrier is damaged, you get rough, dry and dehydrated looking skin. Maintaining the barrier can be done in several ways. Don't use water that is too hot or cold. Don't using products that contain irritating ingredients. Your skin should NEVER burn or tingle when using a skin care product. It doesn't mean it's working- it means it's irritating your skin. Avoid unprotected sun exposure (I know, I'm beating a dead horse here but it really is important). Some important skin-repairing ingredients to look for include ceramides, lecithin, glycerin, polysaccharides, hyaluronic acid, sodium hyaluronate, sodium PCA, amino acids, cholesterol, glycerol, phospholipids, glycosphingolipids, glycosaminoglycans, glycerides, and fatty acids.
  5. Use antioxidants. This is a broad statement that covers a vast amount of ingredients. Antioxidants reduce inflammation, repair DNA damage, restore the skin's surface barrier, help defend against environmental stress, allow skin to build more collagen, and improve skin's ability to heal.
The price of the product means nothing. Good and bad skin care products come in all price ranges. Look at the ingredients. Compare it to the things that are needed to maintain healthy skin. Maintaining healthy skin is the only way to prevent and reduce the appearance of wrinkles. 

There is no one BEST ingredient. There are a lot of great ones but don't buy a product because of it's claims, buy it because it's a well formulated product that will make you look and feel great.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Pint-Sized Bullies

When Makayla started Montessori preschool this fall, I anticipated dealing with separation anxiety, potential tantrums and maybe some negative feedback about her stubbornness. Instead, we are dealing with an issue I never anticipated- bullying. It's not Makayla who's being bullied, she's the bully.

It started about a month after school started. She started getting even more obstinate with us at home and then the first report from school- Makayla bit another kid because he was washing his hands and she wanted to wash her's first. Jeff and I were both pretty shocked. We haven't really been doing the "play-date" thing and she is an only child so her interactions with other kids were fairly limited but whenever we were playing at the park, out at the store or in Sunday school at Grandpa's church she was nothing but loving to other kids. She freely gives hugs (whether wanted or not) and really adores babies. Nothing about her behavior prior to the start of school would have made me anticipate this. Two days after the biting incident, she hit a kid for not doing what she wanted and pulled another girl's hair because she wanted the work the other girl had.

So we went in for a parent-teacher conference and worked out a plan in which after a "touching" incident Makayla would be sent to the "rethinking chair" after which she would be asked to apologize to the kid she wronged. The next week she struck again. She got sent to the rethinking chair and seemed appropriately apologetic when we talked to her about why what she was doing was wrong. She knew that she wasn't supposed to hit but she said "she couldn't help it". Grandma instituted a reward system in which Makayla got 1 quarter on days that she kept her hands to herself but on days she hit she had to give Grandma 2 quarters. It's here where I point out that Makayla is wise beyond her 4 years. She quickly figured out she could still be bad 2 days a week and come out ahead in the quarter system. So every week, 2 or sometimes 3 times a week, Makayla has hit, poked or pushed another kid at school. She doesn't seem to be limiting it to one particular child. She gets angry and immediately strikes out with her hands. So we continued with the plan at school and at home we started taking things that she loved away on days that she hit. We talked to her about what she was doing and why it was wrong. We tried to make her put herself in the other kids' shoes. She said she would be very sad if someone else hit her but she couldn't extrapolate that into "what I'm doing is making the other kids sad".

Meanwhile, her behavior at home continued to slide downhill. She got even more stubborn. She refused to clean up after her messes. She doesn't understand bargaining- she wants what she wants and that's it. So we started using the "counting" system where we count to three and if she's still refusing to do what needs doing, she gets a spanking.

After a month of no improvement we talked to the teachers at school again and made some modifications to the plan. They too are completely baffled by her continued hitting episodes. They said that normally, kids who are lacking verbal skills to express their feelings are the hitters but Makayla is very advanced verbally and she tells them why she hits (she was angry) and yes she knows she shouldn't (but she can't help it). They also said that most kids respond right away to the rethinking chair but it seems to be having no effect on Makayla. So they are teaching her to cross her arms tightly across her chest when she feels like she's getting angry and they are moving the rethinking chair to a place away from the rest of the class to make it feel more punishing. I plan to give this another month and then re-evaluate. Every day I ask her if it was a "good friend day" and if she says yes, I let her know how proud I am that she made good choices today. If she says no, I tell her that I am disappointed that she made bad choices today and that I hope she makes better ones tomorrow. Then we discuss what happened, why and why it was wrong. Time will tell if it helps.

Yesterday, I was talking to my sister who was telling me a story about one of her friends that was complaining about how her kid was being bullied in preschool. She was mad at the parents because obviously they weren't being strict enough or parenting well enough or something similar. Makayla's school tries to keep everything confidential about who hits and who gets hit but Makayla will tell me right off who she hit so I'm sure the other kids go home and tell their parents who hit them. So I'm the parent of the bully. I find it terribly embarrassing but I don't know what else to do. I'm not strict enough? I feel terrible every time I spank her- would beating her harder help? I don't think so. I am I ignoring or encouraging the behavior? Not by a long shot. I honestly think that with more time, Makayla will mature out of this but I'm not sitting around waiting for her to "grow out of it". I am actively trying to change her behavior so that other kids don't get hurt. Hell, I was bullied in middle school, I hated every minute of it, there is no way I want my daughter to turn in to one of the "mean girls". I can understand why other parents would be upset even, I probably wouldn't be looking at from the bully's side if Makayla were the one coming home telling me someone hit her at school.

I don't know, I don't have the answers. But we are trying.