Clear Complexions Happen With Chamomile (Like…Who Knew, Right?!)

…Okay, maybe you did. But sure didn’t!

Not to sound like a vain little Prima Donna, but I always prided myself on having smooth, blemish-free skin. Throughout my teenage years, when just about every other high schooler was preoccupied with popping pimples or slathering on Proactiv, I rarely even bothered with concealer. Yup, for some ever-so-fortuitous reason, puberty was kind to this face.

However, the onset of adulthood wasn’t so generous.

Basically, from the first moment I stepped onto a college campus, my hormones went haywire. Suddenly, I became that girl – avoiding mirrors, trying every fad product on the market, and cringing at any mention of the word “zit” (just in case those devious little dermis cells were listening in). Suffice it to say, my undergraduate studies were interrupted by constant dermatologist visits.

So, kids…that’s what happens when you inwardly gloat about so-called “perfect skin.” Beauty karma is one ugly bitch!

Over the years, I’ve applied every topical ointment that I could get my hands on, invested in every “zit zapping” gadget that a celebrity brand ambassador talked me into, and even popped (no, not really…just swallowed once a day) prescription pills that my doctor swore by. But, while they provided a temporary fix, nothing seemed to work as a long-term solution.

From all outward appearances, adult acne had won this war.

That is, until a brownish rectangular miracle came along.

Enter: chamomile cleanser. A.K.A. my skin’s new BFF: all-natural, non-GMO, three-ingredient, chemical-free  amazingness. (And it’s also made with LOVE, so there’s that…)

chamomile soap 1I discovered this little beauty last weekend, while wandering around the – yup, you guessed it! – farmer’s market. Within 5 minutes of chatting with the extremely knowledgeable and fantastically bohemian product developers, I was sold. Thus, yours truly became the proud owner of a scentsy, sudsy bar of chamomile soap. For only $7! Compare that price with the $15-$20 you’ll typically drop at a drug store.

Plus, we’re talking 100% organic here – another perk you won’t find just anywhere.

chamomile soap 2Alrighty, then. So, later that evening, I took this purchase on a test-run.

And it definitely was NOT an impulse buy.

Almost immediately, I noticed a transformation in how my skin both looked and felt. I’m not even exaggerating. This face, which has caused so much frustration and self-consciousness over these past few years, finally met its match. An invigorating tingle spread throughout my pores, resulting in baby-soft smoothness. Seriously, after 1 application!

chamomile soap 3Not my most attractive look by a long-shot (in my own defense though, I’d only been awake for 10 minutes), but this is moi after Day 5 of religious chamomile soap usage. And here are some remarkable changes I’ve experienced since switching over to this skin-care sensation:

  1. EXFOLIATION of dryness/flakiness
  2. REDUCTION of post-acne scarring
  3. And, most importantly, HEALING of blemishes.

Like, my complexion is clear now!


Free and clear.

But don’t just take my word for it…snag some chamomile cleanser for yourself.

Do it. Order a soap bar from the Florida-based aromatherapy business, Essence of the Heart. According to this company’s masterminds, here’s what you can expect: “Each product is handmade with Love as the first intention to enhance, benefit, and honor all life. The products created by Essence of the Heart play a role in facilitating a complete balance within the body, mind and spirit.”

So, yeah. You should probably go check out their Etsy shop.

Suggestions for Staying Active on a Shoestring Budget

I’m in my early twenties and have only been able to claim “college grad” status for 10 months. I earn an unsteady – albeit enjoyable – living as a freelance writer. I spend most week nights watching Netflix, since that’s about all I can afford.

So, you connect the dots: this girl’s expendable income is questionable, at best.

However, these twenty-something financial woes (basic white girl problem, anyone?!) haven’t stopped me from discovering fun – and ideally, FREE – weekend pastimes. And nothing recharges my batteries quite like some physical exertion.

Fortunately, near my stomping grounds, there are several inexpensive and off-the-beaten-path activities, just waiting for a broke girl to take advantage of.

Exhibit A: hit up a local farmer’s market.

Exhibit B: explore a seaside nature preserve.

I’ll start with Exhibit A. First, here are some photos from my stroll among South Florida’s gloriously organic, locally-sourced, and seasonal produce (a.k.a. an au naturel lover’s dream!):

farmers market 1

eat organic!!!

farmers market 2

downtown Bradenton, FL locally grown fruit/veggie stands

farmers market 3

downtown Bradenton, FL fair trade product stands

farmers market 4

organic plants, holistic remedies, and homegrown spices/herbs

farmers market 5

my sister sipping homemade guava and sugar cane lemonade

Call me a “foodie” geek, but I just love the pulse of a downtown farmer’s market – even on a small-scale like this one I visited.

The air surrounding these produce stalls feels fresher somehow…more invigorating. The fruits taste juicier, and the vegetables crisper. There is an easy-breezy vibe and tight-knit sense of community.

It’s the textbook definition of autumn.

Which brings me to Exhibit B. I only live 10 minutes away from the Gulf of Mexico (rough life, huh?), and there’s a 487-acre nature preserve near the Anna Maria Island beaches.

This breathtaking coastal and wetland habitat is probably the area’s best kept secret, but I’m among the lucky few, who have stumbled upon its pristine beauty.

So, enjoy these snapshots from my Sunday afternoon spent hiking along winding waterfront trails, lined with postcard-perfect palm trees and marsh grass lazily lolling in the breeze. (Can’t help the alliterations…I am a writer, after all! Sorry not sorry.)

Robinson Preserve 1

Gulf of Mexico inlet

Robinson Preserve 2

natural wetland habitat

Robinson Preserve 3

trail to the 360-degree view observation tower

Robinson Preserve 4

view of the bay from the observation deck (St. Petersburg Skyline Bridge in the background)

Robinson Preserve 5

view of the wetlands from the observation deck

Robinson Preserve 6

another view of the wetlands

Robinson Preserve 7

that’s me on the tower’s top level

Robinson Preserve 8

Gulf of Mexico with the Skyline Bridge in the background

Robinson Preserve 9

view of the Gulf of Mexico from behind a mangrove

Robinson Preserve 10

coquina path through natural foliage

Robinson Preserve 11

inlet with overhanging mangroves

Robinson Preserve 12

Gulf of Mexico beach with sailboats in the background

This regionally protected environmental gem features several recreational – and yes, absolutely free – opportunities, from hiking/biking trails to canoe/kayak launches. The diverse scenery reminded me of an African savannah or a deserted tropical island.

For awhile, I even forgot this was still my hometown.

Whether you’re a Southwest Florida resident or occasional vacationer, if you ever find yourself tooling around these parts, I highly recommend a Robinson Preserve pit-stop.

And, next time you’re looking for cost-efficient weekend fun, check into local farmer’s markets or nature preserves in your own backyard. Both are fantastic ways to get moving without breaking the bank!