Poor & Pretty Travels: Portland & New Orleans

Poor & Pretty Travels - Portland New Orleans feature

I was going to post about something completely different today, but I’m too excited about my upcoming travels! I have to share them with you. :)

Poor & Pretty Travels - Portland New Orleans

Next month, I’m heading to Portland, OR for The Hello Sessions (I won a ticket!) and the week after, I’ll be in New Orleans for the Being Boss meet-up. I can’t wait! I have a few must-see’s/must-do’s on my list, but I’d love for your input too!

I’m even more stoked about Portland because my friend Brittany is joining me, so we’ve got this whole girlfriends’ getaway planned. Here are a few things that are definitely on our list:

  • Grab doughnuts at Voodoo Doughnut
  • Sniff around the International Rose Test Garden (hopefully they’re still in bloom!)
  • Ice cream Salt & Straw
  • Sip tea in Lan Su Chinese Garden
  • Eat at Pok Pok
  • Nerd out at Powell’s City of Books
  • Shop in Union Way

New Orleans 2008 via @poorandpretty

And New Orleans — I have been wanting to go back there ever since Suzi and I went in 2008. The food, the music, the voodoo, the culture! We had such an incredible time. I’m really bummed that our tour guide, Lloyd Sesat, passed away a few years ago. He was so fun, and I was hoping to tour with him again. ♥ Besides attending the Being Boss events, here’s my agenda for NOLA:

  • Beignets at Café du Monde (and buy the beignet mix to make at home)
  • Get a tarot card reading
  • Do a walking tour
  • Take a ride on a streetcar
  • Eat. A lot.

Have you been to Portland or New Orleans? I’d love to hear your recommendations in the comments!


My Natural Skincare Routine

My Natural Skincare Routine feature image via @poorandpretty

My Natural Skincare Routine via @poorandpretty

I’ve gotten to the point where everything I use on my face on a daily basis is handmade by me, which is pretty exciting. I’m often asked about my skincare routine — what products I use, how often I exfoliate, etc. So today, I’m sharing my 100% natural skincare routine with you!

On a daily basis, I…

1. Cleanse: Twice a Day. Every morning and evening, I wash my face with my all-natural homemade face wash. Our skin is constantly attracting dirt, excreting waste, and shedding dead skin cells, so it’s important to keep up with it by cleansing twice a day, especially if you wear makeup. If you don’t wash your makeup off in the evening, it will clog your pores and result in acne. My mild facial cleanser is made with castile soap, jojoba oil, rosewater, and lavender essential oil (I’ve also begun to add a few drops of tea tree oil to it). It contains no harsh surfactants, so it doesn’t strip away my skin’s natural oils. Instead, the jojoba oil and castile soap combine to gently remove dirt without drying out my face. 

2. Tone: After Washing. Immediately after I wash my face, I follow up with my Rose + Tea Facial Toner. Many people skip toners and astringents and go straight to moisturizing, but this is a crucial step in my skincare routine. Using a toner clears up any dirt left behind by my cleanser, restores my skin’s natural pH level, tightens my pores, and hydrates.

3. Moisturize: After Toner. Once the toner dries on my skin, I follow up with either my homemade body & facial oil or homemade shea butter facial cream. Recipes for both of these will be in my natural beauty eBook! Sign up for my emails to be notified when it launches.

My Natural Skincare Routine — exfolating sugar scrub and chocolate face mask via @poorandpretty

On a weekly basis, I…

4. Exfoliate: Once a Week. To get rid of dry skin cells, I’ll use one of my salt or sugar scrubs — I’m really digging my Vanilla Sugar Scrub right now — or if I need something gentler, I go with my oat & cornmeal facial scrub. I exfoliate once a week — any more than that would be too harsh on my skin.

5. Mask: Once or Twice Week. Depending on my skin’s needs, I use one of my clay face masks 1-2x a week. If it needs an extra dose of vitamins, I use my Chocolate or Rose Facial Masks. If it’s on the oily side or I have a few blackheads, I take care of ‘em with my Charcoal Facial Mask. Or if I have an extra avocado laying around, I whip up my Avocado Hair & Face Mask.

What does your skincare routine look like? Do you make any of your own products?


Local Love: Randi & Jolie of Rayne Home Decor

Local Love Rayne Home Decor feature via @poorandpretty

Local Love Rayne Home Decor interview with @poorandpretty

We’re continuing my Local Love entrepreneur interview series with Jolie Vazquez and Randi Bayne, the candlemakers and abstract artists behind Rayne Home Decor. I first met Jolie and Randi at a Hartford Prints! Mother’s Day event this year, and instantly fell in love with their minimalist packaging, zen display, and of course the smells! I was surprised at how much I loved their blends of fragrances I’d never think to put together — but hey, that’s why they’re the candlemakers, and not me. ;) Let’s get to know them!

Rayne Home Decor About photos (1)

Sami: What scents are you burning right now?
Jolie & Randi: We’re burning our new Ruby Rose candle (grapefruit & rosemary), which we named through a social media contest, as well some Sensual Hut (caribbean teakwood) tealights.


Sami: That sounds heavenly. So what got you started in candle making?
Jolie & Randi: Lighting candles has become an important daily ritual for us for years now. We started looking into how many waxes, additives, etc… that could possibly be in candles and we weren’t very pleased. So we we decided to start making soy wax candles so that we could know what we’re burning and so that we can offer quality made candles for others at affordable prices.

Continue reading…


10 Toxic Chemicals to Avoid in Your Beauty Products

10 Toxic Chemicals to Avoid in Your Beauty Products feat2 via @poorandpretty

10 Toxic Chemicals to Avoid in Your Beauty Products image via @poorandpretty

As promised, I spent most of Labor Day Weekend working on my natural beauty eBook, so my head is spinning with hard-to-pronounce toxic chemicals and their effects on the human body. It’s incredible to me how much we can’t rely on the Food & Drug Administration to police the cosmetic industry here in the US. The European Union has banned over 1,300 chemicals from being used in cosmetics, compared to the FDA’s paltry 11. 

The 10 chemicals below — including formaldehyde, people!! — are not currently banned by the FDA. Thankfully, we have resources like the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep® Cosmetics Database, where you can read more about the chemicals below (and many others), plus toxicity ratings for over 60,000 beauty products. I’ve included their ratings of each ingredient below — 0 is harmless and 10 is highly hazardous. Do yourself a favor and chuck out any beauty products that contain these:

1. BUTYLATES (BHA & BHT) — These endocrine-disrupting preservatives are found in food and beauty products, including cereals, cookies, shaving creams, deodorants, and antiperspirants. According to its Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS), prolonged exposure to or repeated ingestion of BHT may affect the liver, kidneys, thyroid, and central nervous system. EWG Score: 6-7

2. COAL TAR — Derived from burning coal, coal tar is primarily used as a colorant in hair dyes and textiles. It contains a mix of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, chemical compounds deemed by the EPA to be environmental pollutants and carcinogens. This might be hidden in ingredient labels as tar, coal, carbo-cort, coal tar solution USP, crude coal tar, estar, impervotar, KC 261, lavatar, picis carbonis, naphtha, high solvent naphtha, naphtha distillate, benzin B70, or petroleum benzin. EWG Score: 10

3. ETHANOLAMINES (DEA, MEA, TEA) — Ethanolamines are used in soaps, shampoos, lotions, paraffin waxes, and makeup as emulsifiers or foaming agents. These chemicals have been on lists of known carcinogens by the International Agency for Research on Cancer and the National Toxicology Program for decades. Look out for ingredients that say DEA, MEA, and/or TEA, especially cocamide DEA and diethanolamine. EWG Score: 5-10

4. FORMALDEHYDE — Used in many nail polishes, hair-straightening treatments, and nail and eyelash glues, formaldehyde is most infamous as an embalming chemical. If that’s not enough to creep you out, it’s recognized as a human carcinogen by the United States National Toxicology Program and the International Agency for Research on Cancer. But the FDA still permits it and many formaldehyde-releasing preservatives (FRPs) in our beauty products. Look out for FRPs quaternium-15, DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea, diazolidinyl urea, sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol (bromopol) on labels. EWG Score: 10

5. FRAGRANCE — If you see the word “fragrance” or “parfum” on a beauty label, with no description of what’s in that fragrance, put it down and walk away. Because fragrance recipes are considered “trade secrets,” cosmetic manufacturers do not have to disclose what’s in their fragrances. Many of them are created from petrochemicals and contain phthalates (see below). Fragrance oils can irritate the skin, strip it of its natural protection, give the wearer headaches or asthma attacks, and have negative effects on the reproductive system. EWG Score: 8

6. OXYBENZONE — UV light inhibitor oxybenzone and its sibling benzophenone are common in sunscreens. The ironic thing about these two chemicals is that they cause photoallergic reactions — they release chemicals into your body, which sunlight converts into toxins, which your body then has to fight off. This will typically result in a rash or increase your chance of getting sunburn. EWG Score: 8

7. PARABENS — These tricky chemical preservatives sneak themselves into a lot of otherwise “natural” beauty products – even LUSH (I know, I’m heartbroken too). As endocrine disruptors, effects of continued paraben use are as mild as rashes and as lethal as cancer. Hundreds of scientific studies have linked parabens to cancer, and topical parabens have been found in human breast tumors. AVOID THEM AT ALL COSTS. They’ll show up on labels as butylparaben, ethylparaben, methylparaben, and propylparaben. EWG Score: 7

8. PHTHALATES (DBP, DEHP, DEP & DMP) Endocrine disruptors commonly found in manmade fragrances and nail polishes. The most common is dibutyl phthalate (DBP), a plastisizer that prevents nail polishes from becoming brittle. The European Union classifies DBP as very toxic to aquatic organisms. In humans, DBP has shown to cause developmental defects and impair fertitlity. EWG RATING: 10

9. TALC Primarily found in baby and body powders, talc (talcum powder) is similar in compesition to asbestos and can even be contaminated with asbestiform fibers, which are rated 7 by EWG. This poses a risk of respiratory toxicity and cancer. Even non-asbestos talc has shown to be toxic and carcinogenic. EWG Score: 3-7

10. TRICLOSAN You’ll find this in many antibacterial gels, hand washes, and lotions, even though the EPA has registered it as a pesticide. Scientific studies have shown triclosan to be an endocrine disruptor even at very low doses. EWG Score: 7

Want to learn more about how to avoid toxic chemicals in your cosmetics, and how to make your own 100% natural, 100% safe beauty products at home? Sign up for my DIY Natural Beauty workshop at Hartford Prints! on Saturday, September 19. We’ll talk about these chemicals + more, we’ll make our own masks, scrubs, and body oil, and you’ll receive a sneak peek at my eBook. Today’s the last day to reserve your spot. 


Outfit: Blue & White Pattern Play

Blue and white pattern play outfit feature via @poorandpretty

Blue and white pattern play outfit 2 via @poorandpretty

I’m mentally tossing confetti in celebration of this three-day weekend. I love how Labor Day just sort of sneaks up on you. I’ve been getting a lot done for my natural beauty eBook, so I’m planning to do even more this weekend. Side note – I can’t even tell you how hard it is to do a photo shoot for an eBook when your entire office is in boxes. I’ll be so glad when our renovations are done and I have my new office!

Blue and white pattern play outfit via @poorandpretty

Our clothes are mostly in boxes, too, but I’m finding that oddly satisfying. I’ve been reading Do Less by Rachel Jonat, and she talks about how having a lot of things tires us out because we spend way too much time deciding between things (what to wear,  what to watch, etc). Psychologists called it Analysis Paralysis. Having less stuff these past few weeks has made my mornings so much easier! I have to sift through way less clothing to find something to wear, and I end up wearing my favorites more often. You might recognize this eyelet tank from my Summer Vacation Outfit.

Blue and white pattern play outfit closeup via @poorandpretty

I also love the pattern play I’ve got going on here. My polka heart jeans are tied for my favorite pair of jeans (tied with these from Madewell), my polka dot Timex Originals gets a lot of wrist-wear, and I’ve already gushed about my diamond-patterned crossbody bag from Bicycles & Buttons.

Blue and white pattern play outfit details keds timex via @poorandpretty

My navy Keds (gifted to me by my lovely Auntie Kathy) complete the navy and white look pretty perfectly, don’t you think? And what outfit wouldn’t be complete without a little (or a lot) of confetti from The Confetti Bar?

Blue and white pattern play outfit 3 via @poorandpretty

What are you doing to celebrate Labor Day weekend? Soaking up the last of the summer sun? That sounds like a good idea. On second thought… maybe Stan and I will spend a day lounging around by the pool or tubing down the Farmington River. ;)

Outfit Details: Polished Apprentice Top: ModCloth, $35. (similar, similar). Heart skinny jeans: Kancan Jeans, ModCloth, $50 (similar). Navy Keds: gift, but you can get ‘em hereDiamond Crossbody Bag: Bicycles & Buttons, $74. Polka Dot Watch: Timex Originals Dots, courtesy of Timex. Confetti + Studio: thanks to The Confetti Bar.

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