Conscious organic skincare brand: Annmarie Gianni Skin Care

I’m grateful to be featured in Annmarie Gianni Skin Care‘s Beautiful Voices blog!

I’ve been using Annmarie Skin Care products for over 3 years now and LOVE IT!

In honor of being featured, I’m happy to look back on the products I’ve used, and which I overall highly recommend you check out.

As I’ve gotten older and reflected on my use of makeup, I’ve become more dedicated to taking better care of my skin. This was not because of any particular issues I had (which in my case, is usually dryness in some areas), but rather to develop good habits to prevent (or at least delay) potential issues. After all, as with many things in life, it’s usually easier to treat / catch something early on, than to treat it once it’s already more developed.

I gravitate towards natural ingredients, so discovering Annmarie’s line was right up my alley. My heart jumped even more when I found the line entails products that include frankincense and myrrh–ingredients that carry meaning for me as a person of Holy Land Christian descent.

Given the range of products available, it can be hard to know where to start, so I tried the Sample Kit – Restore for Dry and Mature Skin. At the time, that sample consisted of the Purifying Mud Mask (now replaced by the Aloe Herb Cleanser), the Anti-Aging Facial Oil, and the Anti-Aging Serum. Since a little goes a long way, I got at least a handful of uses out of it, and I was instantly a fan. I loved the facial oil which, like many other essential oils, didn’t feel thick and ‘oily’ at all and absorbed well into my skin. But my instant favorite was the Anti-Aging Serum, whose scent I adore and has become my go-to. It figures as my most luxurious skincare product, and it’s absolutely well worth it. Whenever I have any kind of flare up, I apply it (usually during my evening routine) and always wake up feeling like I got a nice treatment during my dreamtime (Haha 😀 Also I wouldn’t be surprised if the various ingredients and scent also contribute to a nice sleep 🙂 ) As mentioned, a little goes a long way, so that one or 2 pumps are enough to do the job. This can also be followed by a moisturizer; all as per experimentation with what works for you.

I don’t necessarily use this product every day, as I tend to alternate in different patterns–perhaps one week I’ll use it, then switch off, or use it every other day, or every 2 days, etc. All these factors only contribute to making this a worthy investment and not a product that is used up overnight. One estimate I have is that, when I was using it almost everyday, it lasted me at least 6 months. My latest ‘switching’ habits would naturally only extend that time period.

The products come in dark glass bottles that I believe helps in keeping light out, thus preserving its contents. Another added bonus is that they are, of course, recyclable! I love to use them for other essential oils.

The conscious company ethics, great customer service and appreciation, topped with amazing products make this a company highly worthy of consideration.

Visit the website at:

Thoughts on Easter fasting

Being that Orthodox Lent is approaching (and Catholic Lent season has already started), I find myself contemplating the subject of Easter fasting.

Last year (2015) marked the third time that I completed the Easter fasting for Lent. For Christians, Lent refers to the period of 40 days prior to Easter, during which you restrict yourself from various pleasures—be they dietary and/or lifestyle—with the intent of purifying yourself and turning to God as we recall the ordeal Jesus went through for us. I find that it can serve as both an intense and rewarding learning experience, provided you approach it with the right set of mind (and isn’t that true of everything in life! 😉 )

Doing the actual fasting usually means not having any meat or dairy for that time period, which basically leaves you vegan. With that said, if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years it’s that the various church specifics of Christian fasting can vary. For instance, the Catholic fasting may differ from the Orthodox fasting… and even the Orthodox churches themselves (Greek, Russian, etc.) may each do things their own way! For example, some allow fish 1-2 times during the Lent period; others say it’s ideal to do a total fast (aka no eating at all) on Good Friday, and maybe have some fruits and wine on Saturday… and so on, and so forth. So if things seem confusing—and inconsistent—on that front, it’s because they are!

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Oil pulling with safflower oil

HOORAY!!!! I’ve finally gotten around to trying oil pulling with safflower oil–although I have a reason for my semi-paranoid approach following my frightening coconut oil OP experience.

I’m SO HAPPY to say we have a *WINNER*, seeing as it’s been a trouble-free experience!! So for the time being, I shall stick with it (or at least until I finish my bottle, haha). In the future I may also experiment with other oils like olive and grapeseed, but for now I’m satisfied.

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Potentially less than pleasant side effects of oil pulling with coconut oil – and update

*3/7/14:- Exploring alternate views of oil pulling

As with many health practices that become popular in society–and are therefore subject to becoming ‘fads’ and, in turn, corrupted in nature–I think it’s worth it to check out alternate views on oil pulling. White debateable, some concepts that have sparked my attention include the following:

–Oil pulling may be most effective when implemented as part of an Ayurvedic diet

–Issues involved in limited Western understanding of the Eastern Ayurvedic tradition from which oil pulling derives

–While oil pulling may be great at reducing bacteria present in the mouth, it may not be as ‘amazingly detoxing’ to the rest of the body as some (if not most) sources claim

Following my coconut oil pulling, I took a break, then started again with safflower oil and sesame oil. Both of these were fine–no problems whatsoever–and I can actually say I enjoyed doing it. However, I have since decided that I no longer ‘need’ to oil pull–and quite honestly, perhaps I (and many others out there) never needed to in the first place. My personal decision is based on the fact that I’m not convinced it yields many of these ‘benefits’ I’ve read about. Most importantly, I’ve been observant and feel as great when I don’t oil pull as when I do–so then what’s the point of doing it? So in this case I’m choosing to listen to my body and realize I most likely don’t need it (assuming anyone actually does?). In our quest to live healthy lives, it also helps to remember that just because something may be good and helpful doesn’t necessarily mean *you yourself* need to implement it. Would you take medicine when you’re healthy? Exactly. In the end, it was definitely a learning experience (which I suppose most things turn out to be 😉 ).

My experience has been an important reminder to OBSERVE AND LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. If something doesn’t feel right, STOP! And that’s exactly what I did and hope others will consider doing too! And just as much as I enjoyed exploring oil pulling with other oils, I’m also listening to my body yet again and concluding that it’s something I can set aside. 🙂

*2/4/14 Update to the below, with further scientific insight on my experience*:

I’ve just stumbled upon a forum/thread where potential negatives of coconut oil are discussed and–lo and behold–it is mentioned that high MCT (medium-chain triglyceride) levels, which are present in coconut oil, may produce in some people an effect similar to a hangover. READ: EXACTLY what I experienced. The thread seems to have a Dr. replying to questions, and based on one of the answers given, it’s also stated that if you have a high carb diet and react negatively to coconut oil, you may be allergic to it. I’m not sure if my diet at the time was considered ‘high carb’, although I assume it was, since I was not–and still am not–on a strict diet (but do pay attention to what I eat).

The answers posted by the Doctor are understandably quite packed with scientific terms and explanations. It just goes to show that I’m not alone in having had a less than pleasant experience with larger amounts of coconut oil, and that others have also experienced the weird, intense hangover-like effect.

Forum link:

*7/22/13 Update to the below*:

The events listed below highlight my less-than-ideal reaction to oil pulling with coconut oil. I decided to make this post after noting an utter lack of information on such a drastic reaction, and therefore in hopes of letting others know of potential warning signs. It’s one thing to experience generally harmless, mild cleansing effects such as bowel movements, increased energy, vivid dreams, etc. than to be rendered practically dysfunctional.
Since then, I’ve had other instances involving coconut oil that have pretty much confirmed to me that I may indeed be allergic to this kind of oil. I’ve also taken up OP with safflower oil, which you can read about here.

The 2 events–which occurred months after coconut oil pulling–are as follows:

1. Coconut oil has been shown to be an effective treatment in reducing cellulite, and so I decided to try it out one evening as a ‘dry brushing’ scrub method on my thighs (seen in the linked article). As expected it made my skin super soft and I was very excited about continuing with it and seeing results. However, my plans were cut short. Why? Because the next morning, I woke up with a weird dizziness that sadly instantly felt all too familiar. The day prior had been a simple, typical day and so it didn’t take long at all for me to narrow it down to the exact culprit. Now, I do note that it was not the same extreme dizziness I experienced during oil pulling, but it was definitely worrisome and just felt downright unusual and unpleasant. I don’t get dizzy… ever! I’m a very healthy person and am in tune with my body, so that when things pop up like this, I definitely do pay attention (and think we all should! Our bodies are amazing at communicating with us =)).

This was the ‘last straw’ experience that made me say: OK, no more coconut oil for me. I loved this oil, really. I used it mostly for hair, face and my hands (I love growing my nails long and I noticed it helped made them strong!), and would also take spoonfuls of it. I never had any negative reaction to coconut oil until after the oil pulling. Or at least, I didn’t think I did, because the reaction I may have gotten may have been too small and not ‘unusual enough’ for me to notice. Also keeping in mind that oil pulling entails a larger quantity of oil than would other things like a few drops for your hair, nails, etc.–perhaps making it easier to miss some warning signs.

Which leads to #2:

2. My skin is definitely more on the sensitive, dry side. I can’t recount the times I’ve gotten rashes from wearing certain kinds of jewelry, and apparently I may also be allergic to certain materials like latex–if that’s the true source of the irritation. I would use latex gloves to wash dishes, and for quite a while, I had a tiny little rash on the knuckle on my right hand. It wasn’t itchy and it was small so that I’d usually forget about it–until I mentioned it to my dad and he believed it to be an allergy to latex. I couldn’t understand why I’d have this rash on the right hand but not the left–if indeed I am allergic–but I’ve been told that you don’t need to have it break out all over for you to show signs of an allergy. Given my sensitive skin, I just chalked it up to another small demonstration of my sensitiveness that would eventually go away (although when, I obviously didn’t know LOL)

I switched to latex-free gloves and for a while, I didn’t see much difference. Until… it dawned on me that I was still using coconut oil as a moisturizer for my hands and nails every night before going to bed. Could this be the source of my tiny, virtually harmless yet ever-persistent rash? It may have been indeed, because all I can say is that I haven’t had a rash since I stopped using coconut oil. Yes, I realize that it might simply be the switch to latex-free gloves, or it could also be the combined approach of changing the usage of both. All I know is that all the funky reactions are gone and I’d like to keep it that way. =) (Ironically, I’ve also discovered that latex-free gloves seem sturdier and last much longer than ‘regular’ gloves anyways, so that’s another unexpected yet welcomed *economical* win in this whirlwind of experiences!)

So there we have it. To add the cherry on top, a good friend of mine recently OP’ed with coconut oil and she couldn’t believe when I told her about what had happened to me. She definitely didn’t think it was a normal reaction nor a ‘cleansing reaction’ (LOL!).

Aside from coconut oil, the other oil that comes highly recommended is safflower oil. My brother has been doing it with this oil and has been loving it, which definitely makes me want to try it. And when I do, I shall update yet again!

 A better, safer alternative to coconut oil perhaps?


3/28/13 original post:

A few months ago, I was looking up stuff on how to whiten your teeth, and I eventually stumbled upon a method known as ‘oil pulling.’ This is a simple, affordable method that basically requires taking some kind of vegetable oil–such as olive oil, sunflower oil, or coconut oil–and swishing it around in your mouth from 15-20 minutes (not gargling and no swallowing!). This is actually an ancient Ayurvedic method that is supposed to have great health benefits–only one of which is teeth whitening–and a method I thought would be worth checking out.

Although I’d known about oil pulling for a while, I’d never actually tried it until about a week ago. Since I had quite a violent reaction to oil pulling–or perhaps more accurately, to the oil I used–I wanted to do a post on it to warn others  to watch out for certain things. It’s my opinion that not enough has been said about its potentially harmful effects, and while I reiterate that I now realize I might have an allergy to a certain oil, I still feel it’s important enough to make a post for readers.


My experience entailed a total of 4 ‘sessions’ of oil pulling before my stomach reacted rather violently. I used coconut oil due to its many health benefits, and because it’s an oil I am very familiar with and use for other things (usually for my hands/nails, feet, and had experimented with it for my hair, though it’s not my favorite oil to use for my hair).

Ingesting oil is not at all weird or awkward for  me: I’ve been taking spoonfuls of olive oil since I was rather young, again due to health benefits. I would probably say that out of all the oils out there, olive oil is likely my favorite. So while coconut oil obviously has a different taste, I felt fine and not in the least intimidated by the idea of going through with it.

In the process, I would swish the coconut oil in my mouth for a little over 15 minutes. I experimented with different amounts of coconut oil, and I personally felt that a smaller teaspoon amount was better to use than a huge spoonful that I’d seen some people do/recommend. This huge spoonful quantity made little sense to me, especially seeing as after 15 minutes, your mouth’s saliva content increases and would therefore add to the coconut oil already in your mouth. I would rather not spit out anything during the process (seems pointless and wasteful to me), so I only tried a large spoonful once.

After the very first time, I felt a kind of ‘mucous’ lining/glob form and kinda ‘stick’ inside my throat, which I’d heard was probably one of the first ‘side effects’/benefits of the treatment. When I did it at night before bed, I did sometimes get the impression that it took me a while to fall asleep. That wasn’t so surprising to me seeing as coconut oil is projected to be an energy booster. Conversely, I did also experience profound, deep sleep after my 3rd treatment.

I did my 4th treatment in the morning, and felt great and very energized. I still hadn’t eaten anything when, a few hours later, I suddenly experienced a dizzying feeling that seemed to come from my stomach and moved up to my head. I’m not sure how, but I immediately attributed it to the coconut oil, especially since I hadn’t eaten anything to trigger that kind of reaction. Just going by the weird feeling in my throat and sudden distaste at the thought of anything coconut, I was convinced that was it. What followed was a brief vomiting session unlike any I’d ever experienced. I didn’t vomit any food; all that came out was clear in content, and while it’s never a pleasant experience, afterwards I want to say I felt… fine? I definitely bounced back faster from this than any other vomiting experience I’d had before, but it still wasn’t exactly a reaction I’d expected to have. I did some quick research and saw that nausea seemed a common reaction to oil pulling, but I wasn’t sure that vomiting fit into the nausea category either. So, I simply dismissed it as a semi-harmless, perhaps transitional reaction. However, I did decide to immediately stop oil pulling, since I didn’t want to risk being sick that upcoming week-end. I did wait several hours before eating to make sure my stomach was balanced again, and I was glad when that evening I was able to eat well and without any problems.

I believed the issue had resolved itself, but boy was I in for a big, and very painful, surprise.

I woke up the next day and as stated, did not oil-pull since I’d decided to put that on hold for a while. So by now it had technically been a day since I’d last oil-pulled.
I got up, felt fine, and had an apple with some almond butter.

About an hour later, I got the same tell-tale dizziness and this was followed by vomiting that lasted for hours. Basically the whole apple and almond butter I had found their way out of my body, and instead of feeling better after each vomiting session, I either felt just as bad, or worse. Vomiting sucks, but at least you usually feel better after getting rid of the offending elements, but this wasn’t the case here. It always felt like there was still more of it in my body, no matter how much I threw up. This was a gut-wrenching pain, where I thought my organs were minutes away from coming out of my body, and it hurt like nothing I’d ever experienced before. I basically wanted to die =( And I promise I’m not a drama queen, and generally have a pretty high pain threshold.

The proof of this intense reaction was made clear the next day, when I had actual cramps in my stomach muscles from the vomiting!!!! [Even my workouts don’t give me that kind of cramping!–what the…?!]

The vomiting had started at about 11am, and I’d thrown up several times between then and around 4pm or so. Even after throwing up, I maintained intense dizziness throughout the day, and I know this really worried me because it obviously affected my balance, performance, etc. All I could do was lay in bed and nap, trying to pass the time and hope my body would heal itself. I did get to a point where I worried that I wouldn’t be able to keep anything down, and because I had conflicted feelings of wanting to eat to keep myself energized somehow, but also had pretty  much lost taste for any foods whatsoever.

Later in the day, I ate a few pieces of raw vegetables so that I could try to get some energy and hopefully keep the food down. I drank a lot of water too to re-hydrate myself. It wasn’t until evening that I had some chicken noodle soup, and even then I was initially worried that I’d just end up throwing it all back up. Thankfully, the soup really helped and it seemed that my body was slowly starting to calm down.

The next day I made a point to only have certain foods, such as white toast and a glass of water with lemon for breakfast to limit acidic content in my stomach. I thankfully no longer threw up, but this second experience with intense vomiting was definitely frightening to me and enlightened me to the double-edged potency of oils. I do think I might either have an allergy to coconut oil, or that for some reason it doesn’t work well in my body in large quantities (since the small quantities I’ve had before never seemed to pose a problem).

The bottom line is that there can be adverse reactions, and it’s clearly not recommended to try the method unless you happen to be home for a given amount of time. I couldn’t imagine how horrible it would be to start this treatment, and either be at work or on the way to work, only to end up with a dangerous dizzy spell like the ones I had!!

While I am still curious about its reported benefits, I know that I’ll be taking a cautious approach to oil pulling when I try it a second time. But even that is a bit ironic for me to say, seeing as I followed the required steps the first time around. I’m not completely discarding the possibility that I may have accidentally swallowed a bit of oil as I OPed, but I’m not sure that that in itself would trigger vomiting. I also read that you’re supposed to do it on an empty stomach, which I did for sure on 2 occasions in the morning. I do feel that I’d allowed ample time in the evening for digestion, but perhaps something went wrong there? (although I note that nothing of what I ate in the evening was ever vomited).
If and when I do decide to try oil pulling again, I will be trying with olive oil (an oil I love and can never get tired of) and which I would hopefully have a better experience with.

I did also stumble upon a few things stating that a person’s blood type may dictate the kinds of oils they should use. If that is true, then it’s interesting seeing as my blood type of O+ is said to ‘dislike’ coconut oil and favor olive oil instead. But then again; I’ve also seen conflicting information saying that recent studies show that coconut oil works well with any blood type? A conundrum indeed: seems like information is ever-changing and that even studies themselves can leave you just as confused. Regardless of that being true or not, the blood issue may offer a potential explanation.

Clearly, my experience had to be halted to cater to my health. Overall, I had oil-pulled for 2 days, and was then sick for 2 days. I’ve definitely gathered experience to use for future reference, but if oil pulling isn’t something my body tolerates, then I definitely won’t be losing any sleep over it, nor is there a shortage of things people can do to enhance their health.
While I do think it’s a method worth trying out, I can only hope people are careful and watch for any negative signs, and stop as soon as these come up. I’d read things saying that ‘many people stop OP when they get nauseous and should just keep going.’ But I mean, can you blame them?! As I’ve said before, if that’s supposedly a ‘normal’ part of the process, than not only do you have to have the right time to do it, you also have to psychologically prepare yourself for some of the craziness that may come along with it. While it’s true that it might be worth it in the larger scheme of things, it doesn’t mean that these side effects should be downplayed and/or overlooked.

Best +