My New Favorite Beauty Products

Beauty products are a funny thing. When I was young and wrinkle free with nearly perfect skin, I spent a lot of money on products to correct problems I didn’t even have. Exfoliants, anti wrinkle creams, blemish coverup, you name it, I tried it.

Now I am older, and dealing with all the fun that goes with being in my 40s. I don’t know what this season of life is like for men, but for a lot of women, this is apparently the time in your life when you get to deal with wrinkles and pimples AT THE SAME DAMN TIME. Not cool. Anyway, my skin has a lot going on right now, and so, I actually find that it is happier with products that do less.

I have also learned that price is no indicator of quality or safety in a lot of cases. You could spend $30 on a bottle of skin toner only to find that the only active ingredient is a chemical normally found in nail polish remover. A little healthy dirt starts seeming like less of a problem when you read the ingredient lists on some of these products.

Basically, I am looking for products that “do” as little as possible. The skin is what it is, and the more I leave it alone, the better it seems to look. My new and absolute favorite beauty product is actually an old favorite from my 20s that I forgot about: witch hazel.

It’s cheap, it’s safe for sensitive skin, and it works for many applications. It tightens pores and refreshes tired skin. It soothes burns, bruises and bug bites. It make your under eye circles go away, for heavens sake! It even seems to help with some new redness that has recently started cropping up on my cheeks. What’s not to like?

It is actually pretty amazing all the things witch hazel can do. Everyone should have a bottle, as it is extremely useful.

And the best part is you can get the generic witch hazel at any drug or grocery store for about $2 a bottle. Sold!

My next favorite is another oldie but goodie that I had forgotten about. Back when I used to be a big spender on beauty products, I had a roommate who used cheapo Dove beauty bars. You know the stuff – it’s not soap, it’s basically a bar of lotion. I always wondered why she used it until I once ran out of soap and had to borrow hers. I had to admit that it made my skin feel pretty nice.

I never converted over to it though. I liked how it felt, but was still convinced that spending more meant I would find magic in a bottle. So I forgot about his little gem until recently. Ever since I started swimming, I have been struggling a bit with dry skin that is irritated a bit by the chemicals in the pool. So I’ve been looking for a soap that is unscented, good for dry and sensitive skin and doesn’t contain parabens or other cancer causing chemicals.

On a whim I decided to give Dove another go. I went with the Dove Unscented Beauty Bar for Sensitive Skin, and was immediately sold on it. After washing, my skin didn’t feel dry or tight at all – it almost felt like I didn’t even need moisturizer. It’s so gentle I can even use it on my kids (one of whom has somewhat dry and itchy skin) and it makes their skin soft and clean too. It seems to be a lot more gentle, and makes my skin feel less tripped and dry than the Olay and Basis bars I had been using before.

So that is the basis of what I am doing to keep my skin happy these days – Dove bar and witch hazel. I top it off with color correcting moisturizer with SPF, slap on the Fresh Sugar Rose Lip Treatment and I am out the door.

If I were going on a date or to work, I might also throw on some eyeliner, mascara and a red lip but otherwise I am just looking for a fresh and natural look.

That Time I Caught Crabs

No, not that kind of crabs.

As you know from the title of this blog, I like to eat. One of the things I like to eat is crab. It’s expensive, but fresh local Dungeness crab is just about the best thing to eat around here in the summer.

However, I never buy it. It’s expensive, like as said, and usually if you get it at the grocery store, it isn’t all that fresh. It can be sort of a crapshoot. Plus, I’ve always wanted to catch one myself. Crab – not “crabs.” So one of the things I determined I would do with my kids this summer is to go crabbing.

On Sunday, our family spent the day at the Kayak Point fishing pier. In 6 hours, we caught about 20 crab – unfortunately, not one of them was a keeper. They were all girl crabs or undersized. But we got bitten with the crabbing bug and learned a few things.

One thing we learned was that cat food will attract the crab better than just the chicken we were using. We caught a couple of crab with just chicken, but not many. We were watching what other people were doing though, and the setup we saw people using with a lot of success was cat food in the bait box, and chicken outside the bait box where the crab can actually eat it. The cat food attracts the crab to the trap, and the chicken keeps them in until you can pull the trap up. Theoretically.

We also discovered when we got there that although we had plenty of food, we had forgotten plates and silverware, so we had nothing with which to eat the food. So since we needed those items we decided to get some cat food too.

Two hours later just as the tide was starting to run (crabs move with the tide, apparently) we had cat food and put it in the bait box, with chicken outside on a big metal hook. We finally started to see some real success. In the next 3 hours we caught a lot of crabs – which was a fun biology lesson for the kids even if we didn’t get to keep any.

We had enough success so that the boys and I wanted to go crabbing again in the afternoon on Monday. We had to go to a fishing pier closer to home and we got skunked again, but we still had a good time. The boys don’t seem to care about actually catching anything we can keep – they just like to see and touch the crab, eat ice cream and play at the beach. They told me they are down to go crabbing pretty much any time we have a few spare hours – so I would say our first foray into crabbing was a success even if there are no crab in the fridge yet.

Hips and Glutes – Also Important in Swimming

Being somewhat bitter about having to swim in the first place, I am determined to get the most out of being banished to the pool. So, even though I am not actually a swimmer or particularly interested in becoming one over the long term, being stuck with it short term has made me get interested in various points of technique.

Right now my big area of concern is my kick because it has no power. Why does it have no power? Because of the exact same problem I have as a runner – tight hips and weak glutes. These are two problems that make me a 9 minute mile runner instead of the 8 minute mile runner I’d like to be.

Not coincidentally, it is also likely part of my issue with the posterior tibial tendinitis. It’s an overuse injury, but one that I might not have been prone to if my hips and butt were doing what they are supposed to.

This hip and glute problem carries over into swimming, apparently. So, I figure that if I can fix it in the pool, it might also help my running.

From what I have read, it’s a two-part problem – in order to get more power from the kick, I need to engage my glutes and have more flexibility in the hips (glutes apparently can’t engage when the hips are stiff – which makes sense since they are in opposition).

How does one do this? There are 3 things to focus on:
1) Keep the knees straight – don’t let the knee do the work the hips should be doing. The knees shouldn’t be locked, but they shouldn’t really be bending much either. Straight but soft.
2) Think about squeezing the butt while kicking- this gets the glutes activated and puts the kick motion into the hips instead of the knees.
3) Point the toes. This helps the water move in the right direction, and keeps the ankles from acting as a drag anchor.

I’ve always been relatively good about the knees and toes, but the butt squeeze seemed to be the missing piece of the equation. Without it, keeping knees and toes straight meant I wasn’t getting power from them, but I wasn’t getting it from the hips either. So I had no power coming from anywhere.

Incorporating the butt squeeze definitely added some speed to my kick but I also note that it makes me WAY sorer than I’m used to being when I swim. So, it must be doing something, right?

The other piece is to loosen up the hips. I try to stretch them but most of the stretches I know don’t seem to do all that much. They always seem to get the quads – the hip flexors get sore, but they never seem to get more flexible.

So I decided to consult the trusty internet and found this helpful video.

I tried it and it seems like one I can actually do on the pool deck. Also, it feels like it gives a good stretch to the hips without stretching or tightening the wrong things.

It’s Working!

Well, it may look funny, but it seems like it is working – the brace on my ankle, that is. I’ve been wearing it for about 3 weeks, and I can honestly say that my ankle feels markedly better. Very little discomfort remaining even when I walk around a lot. There is a little – so no running – but lots better.

It also almost never makes makes the crunchy noise, the technical term for which is apparently “crepitation.” I literally am decrepit I guess.

I haven’t been blogging due to several factors. I am working on a project which I will eventually unveil on this blog – but not yet. It will be a surprise but Im really excited about it. I also haven’t been able to work out due to the ankle and pool closures at my gym. And finally, because of a family vacation over the last week, from which we returned yesterday.

I am hoping to get back to swimming now that the pool is more available. I am also planning to continue wearing the brace through end of July. If things are feeling good at that time, with no pain or crepitation, I will start easing back to dry land exercise and PT, and maybe begin running again by September.

Fingers crossed that it keeps working because I really miss being able to run on these sunny days!