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Is Mercury Retrograde Really So Bad? A Vedic Astrologer on Seizing Opportunity & Staying Positive


It all started with a book, and an unassuming one at that. Dog eared, missing its cover and filled with numbers, there was little obvious appeal to a 12-year-old girl. But it was that book — filled with symbols and planetary degrees — that would lead Alexia Neonakis to astrology, which she still practices today. Lexie, a NYU alum who lives in upstate New York with her family, is a NAMA-certified Ayurvedic Practitioner. She creates Vedic charts in the Indian tradition to give people personal, practical advice on how to manage changes in their own energy and the world around them. On a typical day, she herself balances work and motherhood, doing her readings while her children are at school. Focusing on Jyotish, the “science of light,” Lexie’s passion is finding positivity for her clients in both exciting and challenging moments. With a 2018 holiday collection inspired by the stars, it seemed like the perfect time to sit down with Lexie for some tips on how to navigate this busy holiday season — plus a little something for each sign to keep in mind through the end of the year. Here, we ask the celebrated reader for some tips on beautifully navigating the end of 2018.

So, what exactly does ‘Mercury retrograde’ mean?
We’re currently in the middle of that infamous Mercury retrograde. It’s a time when the Earth passes Mercury as both orbit around the Sun, making Mercury look briefly like it’s moving in the opposite direction of its usual path. It’s also a time when everything from people to technology allegedly go haywire.

But according to Lexie, there’s no need to panic. “I know everybody freaks out when Mercury goes retrograde, sometimes for good reason, but I think of it as a moment to stop and pause and reflect and take two steps back. Double check: is the path I’m on an appropriate path to be on? And sometimes we will make shifts and changes — and that’s appropriate! Often times, too, retrograde brings up people, things, ideas, events from the past. And the way I look at it is: it’s just an opportunity to say thank you and move on, or get right with whatever might be off still. With the holidays coming up, and Mercury retrograde upon us, this is a great time to do things like purging and cleansing — and going through your stuff and donating! It’s a great time to donate to people, especially with this retrograde, because it’s sitting with Jupiter, which is connected to children. If there are parents who have a lot of things they don’t need any more for their kids, this is a good time to go through those bags and donate them.”
FYI, this period is going on until the middle of December.

People are super busy, and often anxious, right now. Any quick things you recommend to stay positive or get out of a bad day?
Sit and breathe
“Sometimes we just need to pause. Mercury retrograde is giving us an opportunity, reminding us, that sometimes what we need to do is just sit down, put our feet on the floor, put our hands on our belly and just close our eyes and breathe into the belly. Just let it fill up, and let it drop down.” You don’t need to lie down to do this (though that’s great for kids, according to Lexie). You can do this sitting up in your car — eyes open of course — or at your desk. “It might take a few minutes to let the junk you just dealt with, the uncomfortable interaction or whatever it was, to be cleared away,” she says.

When life gets hectic, go simple
“This is from an Ayurvedic perspective, and helpful with the chaos of the holidays. Life is about digestion — not just digesting what’s on your plate, but digesting what’s in your life, so when life gets hectic outside of your food, you make your food simple. So, think 1-bowl meals, think creamy vegetable soups — things that are grounding. No salads, no cold stuff, no ice. Keep it really simple, keep it warm, like hot water with lemon. These kinds of things are going to keep you nourished, and keep your digestive system from having to work too hard.”

Oil up!
Yes, you read that right. Lexie recommends applying oil before a shower, then sealing in that moisture with Shea Butter once you’re out. “This is a very Ayurvedic thing that we do all the time, and it helps create this level of support that’s immense. The word for oil in Sanskrit is Sneha, and Sneha also means love, so the idea of oil and love having the same word, and putting that on your body, it’s really about coating yourself in a layer of love, and sort of protection as you go into your day. I’ve had so many clients say that this alone is life changing.”

It’s almost 2019! What can each of us keep in mind over the next few weeks to end this year on a positive note?Aries
“Embrace your individuality, Aries, while continuing to appreciate others.”

“Rise above and uphold your ideals around love, Taurus.”

“Keep your connections simple, Gemini, always flowing from the heart.”

“Self-care is paramount and deeply supportive, Cancer.”

“Allow time for dreaming, Leo. Action then easily follows.”

“Create space for your intuition, Virgo, as it informs all choices.”

“Real joy is rooted in growth, Libra.”

“Shower others with positivity. This is your strength now, Scorpio.”

“Stay steady, Archer. Consistency in your efforts is key.”

“Lift up and turn your lens towards the horizon, Capricorn.”

“Nothing is more healing than taking action, Aquarius.”

“See through the veil, Pisces; that’s where the truth resides.”

Learn more about Alexia Neonakis and Vedic astrology.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

6 Daily Tips for Finding Your Inner Glow

Our new Clean Glow collection lets you customize levels of color and illumination in three simple steps: bronzing and highlighting with glitter-free liquid and powder formulas, and awakening the skin with a Kombucha-infused setting spray. But when it comes to achieving an inner glow, feeling strong, at peace and in the moment are what will get you there. Here are our favorite tips for achieving a daily inner glow from wellness experts who radiate from the moment they wake up.

Embrace Positive Affirmations

“One of the hardest parts about being on the journey to living your best life is figuring out what it is that you want to achieve throughout your lifetime,” says Koya Webb, an internationally recognized yoga teacher, holistic health coach and author of the upcoming title Let Your Fears Make You Fierce: How to Turn Common Obstacles into Seeds for Growth.

We hear a lot about how a positive attitude can go a long way, but how does one begin to practice this? Write yourself a sticky note at the end of each day that says something like “You’ve got this!” and tape it to your computer. Prefer to talk things out? Schedule time on your calendar — whether it be early morning or midday — to go somewhere quiet and remind yourself that yes, you can work through even the most difficult of tasks. Record your words for those days when you need an extra push.

“It can be difficult to visualize your goals, but once you do, positive affirmations can bring you closer to achieving them. We’re all too familiar with the feelings of fear and doubt. Through positive affirmations, fear is driven away because you are replacing that fear with the power of self-love and acknowledging your worth,” says Koya. “This is why it is important to practice daily.”

Give Your Body a Reset Day

Just as you need to take a day off of exercise, you need to give your body the fuel and recovery time that it needs to push forward emotionally. “You can do this by cutting out the processed foods you eat … logging off of social media for a day to focus on self-reflection and what your soul really wants, spending time in nature to just observe the beauty and magic all around you, increasing your intake of water and submerging yourself in water via a warm bubble bath,” says Koya. “Even a cool shower will help you recover from a stressful day. These are all ways that you can reset your body … [and] take on life in a more balanced way.”

Practice Gratitude

A gratitude practice is the act of acknowledging the things in life that you are grateful for, either just by noting them silently, saying them out loud, or journaling about them. “My practice consists of thinking about three things I’m grateful for today such as the blue sky, my morning coffee [and] the friend that I spent time with last night,” says Chuck Rockey, a life coach and yoga instructor. “I try to choose things that have not been included in my practice before. This trains my brain to be on the lookout for new things to be thankful for. Then I think of three things I hope to be grateful for in the future. The wrinkle here is that I say them to myself in the present tense — as if they had already come true. This allows me to set those intentions without my mind automatically thinking about how I’m going to get there.”

“Experiencing more gratitude is easy to do and doesn’t take a lot of time,” says Chuck. If you do it on a regular basis; it will improve your outlook and make your days more enjoyable as you start to think positive thoughts. It’s natural to focus on what’s going wrong in life. But where attention goes, energy flows. The more you express gratitude for what’s positive in your life, the more positivity you’ll feel and radiate, lifting others around you as well.

Be Aware of Your Breathing

The quickest way to muffle your inner glow and sense of peace is to succumb to stress. One natural, easy way to reduce anxiety and remind yourself to be present is to simply become aware of your breathing. One quick exercise to help get you there is called the Four-Part Breath, also known as Square Breath. “[This] is a great tool to re-center yourself, and helps combat physical and emotional stress,” says Lauren Zoeller, a life-balance expert and Motivational Speaker. This technique can be practiced both at work and at home:

1. Close your eyes and visualize the four sides of a box.

2. Breathe in for a count of four, hold your breath for a count of four, exhale for a count of four and then hold your breath at the bottom for a count of four.

3. While you practice this breathing exercise, visualize tracing a box with your mind’s eye as you breathe. This will help keep you focused.

Zoeller recommends setting a timer for two minutes, or completing three rounds total to minimize your stress and calm your nervous system.

Try Yoga-on-the-Go

If you have a moment at home, in a hotel or even a vacant meeting room, make like a butterfly. “Supta Baddha Konasana, also known as ‘reclined butterfly,’ is a great yoga posture to revive your mind and body, ease stress, and decrease anxiety,” Lauren says. She recommends starting or ending your day with this posture to help ease into your day or to get yourself ready for bed.

1. Lay on your back and place the soles of your feet together.

2. Let your knees fall out wide in a butterfly position. If this pose puts strain on the outside of your hips, you can place blocks or pillows underneath your knees to ease the pressure.

3. Place one hand on your belly and one hand on your chest and practice a breathing exercise. Four-Part Breath, as mentioned above, is a great place to start.

Fill the Energy Cup

Self-love is the most important thing you can do to maintain your inner glow. “Think of your available energy as a cup full of water,” says Lauren. “You are always in an act of giving or receiving energy. Each day, we are involved in activities that require us to give our energy away [and] drain the cup of water. The act of self-love … gives us the time to refill our energy bank: pour water back into the cup,” Lauren says. “Involve yourself in actions that will bring about these emotions on a daily basis.”

Although there are many ways to show yourself self-love like meditating, taking the scenic—albeit longer—route home or calling up grandma for a one-hour positivity sesh, it’s important to remember that loving yourself simply means refreshing your energy, which is needed to accomplish all that you do in a given day. Lauren recommends taking the time to treat yourself to a solo date, whether it’s at a local restaurant or ordering in your favorite meal. If you’re feeling particularly self-loving, put on your favorite music, grab your latest favorite read and/or tune in to that podcast you haven’t had time to finish and lay on the couch in a pool of your softest blankets or soak in a fragrant bath. The important thing is that you relax your mind and indulge in thoughts that make you genuinely happy. Need help finding your positivity center? Close your eyes and think of the last time you gut-laughed or felt completely at ease. Summon that feeling and go from there.

Earth Day Checklist: Little Choices You Can Make Today

With Earth Day approaching, it’s the best time to focus on creating a healthier environment and showing more respect to the earth. That’s wonderful, of course, but it’s also intimidating, so we’re focusing on small changes you can make today that build up to true lifestyle changes — and, ultimately, a big impact.

Eat & Drink Mindfully

It’s our job to protect the planet and leave it in good shape for future generations. One easy way to do this is to reduce food waste — especially since the USDA estimates that 30 – 40% of food supply in the U.S. goes to waste. “Before you go grocery shopping, check what leftover ingredients you have lying in the fridge or in your cupboards. Think of new, healthy recipes to take advantage of the food you already have, helping the planet and saving money in the process,” says Caleb Backe, a certified health and wellness expert for Maple Holistics. Naturally, you still have to buy some groceries even if you cut down. Luckily, the “milk man” model is coming back into style with companies like Loop that refill empty food containers, reducing packaging waste.

But it’s not just about buying less. Before you throw away your food scraps, see if they can be regrown. Even if you don’t have a garden, herbs can be planted in jars or pots. Your next best option is composting. Find your nearest community collection point, freeze food scraps to minimize the smell, and put a weekly drop-off reminder in your phone.

Just like food itself, keep an eye on your food-related waste. Most of us are aware that buying bottled water is bad. But morning coffee cups add up, too. Purchase a reusable travel mug that collapses for easy storage. Another bonus? “Most cafes will give you a discount for using your own,” says eco-conscious blogger Meera Jain of the thegreenmum.net.

If you prefer coffee at home, skip wasteful plastic pods and buy a reusable pod coffee filter. Alternatively, use a French press, pour-over, or moka pot for an artisanal, low-energy way to feed your coffee habit. You can also make cold brew in a French press, which doesn’t require the energy of heating water.

When dining out, say “Thank you, no thank you” to the waiter next time you order a drink. “Straws are made of plastic and are not recyclable,” Jain reminds us. If you’re not quite ready to give up your straw habit, purchase edible straws that make a nice snack once you’re done with your meal. (Seriously — they’re edible!)

Refresh Your Beauty & Wellness Routines

“A simple change you can make to maintain a more sustainable beauty routine is to swap out your exfoliating scrubs that may contain microbeads that are really harmful for the environment and sea creatures,” says Amy Nicole, founder of Chic Studios School of Makeup. Instead, shop brands (like yours truly) that are microbead-free, or create an all-natural substitute using ingredients you may already own. “A simple combination of raw sugar and coconut oil makes a great lip and body scrub that you can use without worrying about putting harsh or harmful chemicals on your skin,” says Nicole.

Unfortunately, not all beauty products have an easy DIY alternative. For items like sunscreen, look for ingredients that are safe for the environment. Chemical sunscreens can threaten corals and other marine life, so opt for mineral sunscreens like Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide (the active ingredients found in our best-selling ORIGINAL Foundation).

Instead of tossing your empty beauty products, recycle them! bareMinerals has a program for Friends and Benefits members that allows you to bring your empty makeup containers to a store location in exchange for points toward your next purchase.

When it comes to personal care items, use recycled materials as often as possible. Opt for 100% recycled toilet paper, tissues and paper towels. You can also choose eco-friendly feminine products, like organic cotton tampons or reusable menstrual cups.

Shop Sustainably

When it comes to shopping for groceries (or anything, really!), always bring your own bags — you can even purchase reusable produce bags, and tuck them inside your shopping tote. To keep yourself from accidentally forgetting your bags, invest in the ones made from recycled materials that fold up and store easily in your purse.

As for food, furniture, appliances and more, “When you need something, make an effort to source it from a secondhand store,” says Jain. Resale sites are becoming more common for fashion, furniture and more. This will save you money in the long run too.

Greening your wardrobe can powerfully improve your life in several ways. “It minimizes waste and production of throw-away clothes. Also, buying clothes made from recycled materials, or with a commitment to sustainability, helps grow the industry and combat climate change,” says Annabel Hertz of Goodbuysugar.com. If you don’t luck out at a secondhand store, choose ethical brands that source recycled materials and promote clean practices. Unlike fast fashion realtors, brands like Alternative Apparel, Reformation and Outdoor Voices use sustainable materials and minimize their energy and water footprints.

Rethink Your Home Goods

Greening your home can have a big (and easy) impact. “See what you can do to save energy, from bulbs to heating settings and unplugging electronics when not in use, to replacing your standard cleaning products with green products, and recycling, composting and reducing junk mail — you will be making a difference!” says Hertz. If you can, air dry your clothes and use reusable cloths instead of paper towels.

Travel Smarter

Green your rides by replacing your drive with public transport, biking, walking or shared car service. If you work for a big company, suggest a Waze carpool, where you and coworkers can ride together (besides, driving can be a drag!).

Modern travel can be highly polluting. “Choose sustainable tourism options and carbon offsets (for flights) and carry a water bottle with a filter (so you don’t have to buy and waste plastic water bottles),” says Hertz. Plus, go by the same rules you have at home: do you really need fresh towels daily? Better yet, instead of staying in a hotel, try booking an Airbnb or tiny house, where you can control exactly how much energy and water you use throughout your stay. Not to mention the endless Instagram photo ops…

Spread the Word!

Every time you decline a straw or pull out your produce bags, explain your choice to any curious onlookers. “The more people are making these small, easy changes, the more of an impact we can have!” says Jain.

Spring Clean Your Makeup Bag – Part II


This is Part II in our Spring Cleaning series. If you’re just catching up, be sure to check out Part I where we teach you to Marie Kondo your makeup bag.

So you’ve gone through and ditched your expired, passé and impossible makeup, leaving just the most beautiful goodness. Feeling better? We sure are. But your spring cleaning work isn’t quite finished. Today we’re here to tackle maintenance: how to take care of the beauties that were worth holding on to, ensuring the best results, and a clean, happy face. You do know to clean your makeup brushes regularly, right…?

One of the reasons we love love love (and strongly advocate) using brushes is that it’s more hygienic than dipping your fingers directly into a product over and over again. But that’s only if you’re cleaning those brushes on a regular basis. We’d recommend a shampooing every 1-4 weeks, depending how often you use the brush.
How to Shampoo a Makeup Brush
You should wash a brush like you wash your hair: soak the fibers first, then lather it in a mild shampoo and rinse, pointing the brush downward and keeping all the bristles in one direction so the pigment runs out and the fibers don’t tangle.
To dry your makeup brush, press the water out, reshape it and lay it off the edge of your sink or on a towel so it regains its natural shape. Visual learner? Check out the video of this technique on our Brushes page.
Can you use dish soap to wash a makeup brush?
Nope—you wouldn’t get that stuff near your own hair, so please keep it off your brushes too.
Can you use facial cleanser to wash a makeup brush?
Sure, if it’s good at removing the makeup from your face. If you use a very mild cleanser post-face wipe (or three), it’s not a good choice. A good brush shampoo lathers well and is only lightly conditioning, so if you love our PURE PLUSH or BLEMISH REMEDY cleansers, go for it. On the other hand, OIL OBSESSED (which is amazing at removing makeup) shouldn’t be used on your tools—it contains moisturizing essential oils that are so great for your face, not so great for your brushes.
Daily Cleaning Tips
If you’re a fan of the smoky eye or have been working on your contouring skills, you probably learned this one the hard way: you should clean a brush every time you use it for a new color. Those gorgeous shades become grey if you mix them together, so be sure to use a quick change brush cleaner between every shade: spray a tissue until it is slightly damp and rub it lightly into the bristles—you should never spray a brush directly. If you find yourself smashing the brush into your damp tissue, it’s time for a good old brush shampooing (see above).
What Not to Do
Please don’t soak your brushes (if you want them to last). We recommend pointing the brush downward when you rinse it to keep water from penetrating and disintegrating the glue that’s holding that baby together.

Your favorite makeup gets you through dream-job interviews, terrible dates, unexpected breakouts… time to give it a little TLC in return.
Caring for Loose Mineral Makeup
Our minerals need to stay dry to last, but we know that swirling in the cap can cause discoloration over time. Get that pristine, fresh-from-the-box look by wiping the inside of the cap (NEVER the top of pot) with a tissue spritzed with alcohol. Rubbing alcohol works well—make sure it’s over 70% alcohol to disinfect as you clean, and wait until it dries fully before closing the product.
Caring for Compact Powders
Keep. Them. Dry. This is absolutely key, but if you notice your compact has changed color, you spill a different product on it, or otherwise feel compelled to clean, spritz a tissue with alcohol and remove the upper film to uncover new product.
Caring for Eye + Lip Liners
Keeping pencils sharp prevents them from falling apart. But when you fish out your sharpener, only sharpen the pencil tip to about 90%. Otherwise, yup, you’re back to increasing the chance the tip will break off. If this sounds weirdly high-maintenance, don’t worry—if you apply your liner by gliding it at an angle, you’ll naturally maintain a gentle point. Just sharpen a little bit when you need to expose more product—which sounds/is way more manageable.
Caring for Creams
Wet products tend to expire faster, and the best way to slow this progress is to screw the cap on fully after every single use (no matter how late you are).
What Not to Do
Cleansing wipes can take makeup off your face, but you don’t want to use them on your beauty products. Not only are they very wet (without the fast evaporating quality of alcohol), but they contain humectants for retaining moisture, and you certainly don’t need to moisturize your makeup.

Happy cleaning!

Spring Clean Your Makeup Bag – Part I


We’re here today to tackle a neglected (but necessary) Spring Cleaning activity: sorting through your makeup bag. We purge our closets, double mop our floors, cut out French fries and … keep putting expired makeup on our faces? Not OK.

Maybe you’re thinking, My makeup bag is on point, I fly through those products, I’m fine. But what about that drawer with your “backup stuff?” You know, the place you go for wedding makeup, your waterproof mascara for the pool… we’d venture to guess that some of those beauties have seen better days.

Faces get better with age, but your beauty products most certainly do not, and they have legally regulated expiration dates for a very good reason. (And it isn’t so companies can sell you more makeup). Over time, all products can change color, texture and consistency — especially products that are good for you, like the ones with added antioxidants, and that lack scary chemical stabilizers. Products can also start to smell. If any of these things happen, toss them immediately.

So how do you know what to expect and how to avoid being wasteful (and when to replace your lipgloss before it turns orange)? Take a product, flip it over and you’re likely to see a little drawing of an open pot and a number, like “6M.” That means that 6 months from the day you opened that product, you should be replacing it.

Now, let’s get started on cleaning up your makeup stash, and we’ll explain how paying attention to those little numbers can keep your body safe.

(Plus, a few suggestions to fill your newfound space).

So you’ve gone through and ditched anything with a funky texture or smell, or that you can’t even remember buying (bravo!). There are two more essential steps to take for a safe beauty drawer:
1) Throw out aging SPF products ASAP.
If you only take one lesson from this guide, let it be this: SPF expires. After about a year, the mineral SPF in our foundations will be less effective, and (going into full PSA mode here) even your non-makeup SPF expires. So please do not slather 6-year-old baby sunscreen on your second child or, you know, yourself.
2) Protect your eyes—they’re delicate.
In general, the highest turnover items in your bag should be the ones you put around your eyes. First off, sharing is not caring when it comes to eyeliners, mascaras, eye brushes and shadows. You’re basically asking for an eye infection, so if you gave your girlfriend a swipe of mascara last night, dump the tube stat. Also, it’s spring, so you’re probably about to whip out last summer’s waterproof mascara. Don’t. Eyelashes may be flirty and gorgeous but evolutionarily, they’re actually present to trap dirt, not a significant other. So… if you’re brushing over your lashes with a wand, returning it to the tube and storing it for a year? Yikes. There’s a reason we recommend a 3-month cycle for mascara auto delivery.

Fill the void:
If you don’t have SPF built into your daily routine (or if you did, but just threw it away), new COMPLEXION RESCUE Hydrating Foundation Stick is ridiculously easy to use as foundation, concealer or contour and contains broad spectrum SPF 15. Looking to double up on protection? MINERAL VEIL Translucent Finishing Powder is also available with broad spectrum SPF.

For year-round dream lashes, we love LASHTOPIA Mega Volume Mineral-Based Mascara. It’s nourishing, smudge-resistant, flake-resistant, paraben-free, phthalate-free, fragrance-free and dermatologist and ophthalmologist tested — and safe for contact lens wearers.

In fashion you can just store those cropped, wide-leg jeans for 5 years until it’s time to dig them out again. Beauty has cyclical trends too, but you really don’t want to rub 5-year-old product on your face. Think about how many times you’ve washed your face in 5 years. Now think about how many times you’ve washed that almost-forgotten eyeshadow shade. Get it? Great. Now go through and say goodbye to all of those cringe-worthy trends of old.

Fill the void:
Every beauty bag should have a little fun, so find a new trend to test out. Matte lips are having a major moment and unlike the last generation of matte lipsticks, our Matte Liquid Lipstick is super moisturizing so your lips don’t have to suffer for fashion. Prefer a traditional lipstick bullet? BAREPRO Longwear Lipstick provides that perfect soft-matte finish in a lasting vegan lipstick formula. Highlighters are another hot topic, and our BAREPRO GLOW Liquid Highlighter is an easy to use (AKA hard to mess up), versatile formula that can be mixed with your liquid foundation, or dabbed on for a targeted glow.

A wiggly liquid liner, that allegedly-easy contouring kit… if you’re physically incapable of good results, we recommend clearing it out of the way so you can see the fun stuff you have mastered. All this cleaning may be awakening your desire to simplify, so identify any impossible products and say goodbye to unnecessary beauty drama and clutter.

Fill the void:
Get back to beautiful basics with a GET STARTED Complexion Kit. Or streamline your mornings with COMPLEXION RESCUE Tinted Moisturizer for moisture plus coverage in one step. And if you just dumped 5 years of eyeliner fails, try ONE FINE LINE Precision Eyeliner — it’s a twist up pencil with intense mineral color that’s super smooth and easy to use.

Now that you’ve cleared out the clutter, learn to clean and maintain your makeup brushes, makeup and more in Part II of our spring cleaning series.