Hi there. I’m Lily. I’m 35 years old. Since I’m about to download a whole boatload of info about how I live into your mindspace, I thought you might like to know a little more about me than, say, what you might glean from the average green juice recipe on K&C. Ready? Set? Here goes!
I was born in a tiny Northern California town called Bolinas, grew up on a tiny island called Maui, went to Waldorf school through fifth grade, studied literature at the not-so-tiny Yale, and since then have lived on Maui, and in Michigan, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. My parents were honest-to-goodness hippies who became honest-to-goodness entrepreneurs thanks to my mom’s witchy ways as an aromatherapist and herbologist and my father’s savvy as a businessman.
Before I was a full-time writer and photographer (thanks to you), I spent seven years studying and teaching yoga, meditation, and eastern philosophies. Yoga and I had a big break up after my mom died. I had a massive shift in world views (a story for another time), and I spent the next six years working with individuals and brands as a copywriter and editor. I also wrote a book about my time with my mom in her illness and death (again, story for another time).
In May 2017, I published my first book: Kale & Caramel: Recipes for Body, Heart, and Table with Atria/Simon & Schuster. The book features 80 vegetarian recipes, over 100 photographs, and countless stories about healing from grief and loss through the wisdom of plants. Kale & Caramel has since been featured in The New York Times, the Independent, Oprah.com, mindbodygreen, Bon Appetit’s Healthyish, Food52, Spirituality & Health magazine, and many more.
Though I’ve lived in cities for the past seven and a half years, I just made the move to Topanga Canyon, a verdant wild-land nestled in the Santa Monica mountains above Malibu, California. At heart, I’m a big, giant, plant lover. I learned, from the time I was a wee thang, that plants are our allies. I grew up exploring the world through my mother’s lens as an herbologist: She taught me to see the world as a place where plants and flowers offered both wisdom and healing.
Though I’m not strictly vegetarian, I do believe in a plant-heavy diet. I also believe in doing what feels good. I learned—the very, very hard way, through great loss—that rigid adherence to one way of being can be stressful at best, and health-endangering at worst. Bottom line: I believe in listening to my body.
Today’s guide is a result of the glut of questions I regularly receive about living an all natural lifestyle: Questions about the products I use, my daily habits, and my approach to living what I aim to call a balanced life.
The truth is, I live as simply as I possibly can, and I eliminate as many complex, unpronounceable, unnecessary, and unhealthy products, ingredients, thoughts, and relationships from my life as I can.
Here are some of the principles that make my world go round:
Detox your emotional consumption.
Real talk: I’m a super emotional human. I laugh a lot. I cry a lot. I like holding hands. (I swear I’m not 12, though…maybe?) This also means I’m keenly attuned to how things in my world affect me. Particularly on the internet. Because of how networked we are, many of us are bombarded sixteen to eighteen hours a day by subtle and blatant messaging that affects how we talk to ourselves.
What to do? Be ruthless in crafting your digital world. Unfollow, unfriend, and unsubscribe to anything that doesn’t make you feel super groovy, chill, happy, and abundant. You don’t have time for that ish.
More on this below, but I go in hard on plant life and superfoods. Superfoods are a group of nutrient-dense herbs and plants that either provide mega high doses of vitamins and minerals or have the capacity to act as adaptogens—agents that actually help to balance your body’s biochemical and physiological systems.
Go easy on the guilt.
Didn’t eat your spirulina (blue-green algae) today? Missed your morning walk or Pilates class? Accidentally bought non-organic eggs? Ate four donuts on the way to shop your feelings out at Forever 21? Girl. Chill. Stop with the guilt. We all have days. Don’t stress yourself more than you already have. Take a deep breath, and make an agreement with yourself to leave excuses, guilt, and shame out of the picture.
Permanently evict cruel self-talk from your mind. What to say to yourself instead? How about, “I love you.” Start there.
Use skin products whose ingredients you can identify.
Interested in slathering a little polypropylene all over yourself today? Your skin is your largest organ. What you put on your skin goes straight into your body, your blood, your brain, your digestive system. Nature is abundant with single ingredient sources of cleansing and moisturization. Get rid of all the other stuff. And good lord, please, in the name of all that is holy, stop spending hundreds and thousands of dollars on “beauty” products that just aggravate your skin. More on what to replace them with below.
What is nourishing to you? I need seven to eight hours of sleep a night. I need hours each day where I’m on my own, and hours where I’m surrounded by people I love. I need to write. I need to move my body. I need to take a multivitamin every day (it actually changed my life). I need to see the sky. I need to be kind to myself. I need to surround myself with beauty. I need to have days when I do absolutely nothing. These things help me stay sane.
What small rituals or habits nourish you? Even the smallest thing, like anointing your heart with rose essential oil before bed, can be deeply rejuvenating.
Become hyper aware to small changes.
The more years I spend in my body, the more quickly I became aware to small changes in my biosphere: A tickle in my throat, an ache in my back, a particular limitation in my spine, a distinctly crappy series of thoughts. The earlier I’m aware of these, the more quickly I can adjust accordingly to boost immune (and mental) health.
Get your immune system pumping.
…and when I do feel a nasty bug or a simple immune depression coming on, here are my top immune fighters:
Apple cider vinegar.
All the superfoods mentioned in the guide below.
Wherever possible, surround yourself with beauty.
I know, I know. I grew up on Maui and my barometer for beauty may be skewed in a slightly extreme direction. But. I live in the middle of very concrete Los Angeles right now, and I do all I can to surround myself with small things that I find beautiful. For me, that means bringing flowers home, spending time in my nearest community garden, and making the trek to swim at Malibu in the summer. It means using my favorite indigo-dyed linen napkins at dinner. It means giving myself permission to spritz myself with orange blossom water whenever I want.
Don’t worry, be Yoncé.
This is probably my most important piece of advice. When I’m having a day where I’m not sure how much longer I can be a human on earth, Beyoncé reminds me that it’s possible to be, well, everything.
Now that we’ve got the basics out of the way, let’s dive in deeper. First up:
HOW TO BE AN ALL NATURAL FACE & BODY CARE BAD-ASS.
Face care do’s and don’ts.
More on that below.
• Do use a facial oil.
Even if you tend to have oily skin. Your epidermis over-produces oil to compensate for dryness. Give it what it needs, and it’ll balance naturally.
• Don’t use coconut oil on your face.
Coconut oil is comedogenic, meaning it clogs pores. It’s fine for the rest of your body, but not so fine for your punim.
• Don’t use a lot of makeup.
I hear so many people who use makeup regularly complain about their skin. Stop. Stop complaining and stop using all that makeup. Your skin needs to breathe. Always remove makeup before bed. My go-to: Bare Minerals loose powder.
• Don’t use overly complex products.
Unless you have severe skin problems (in which case you should be seeing a dermatologist), you’re just irritating your skin.
The beauty products I use and love.
Read the in-depth post on the science and practice behind honey face washing.
Unfiltered and organic, I use about ½ teaspoon as a face wash. Also great as the base for various face and body masks and scrubs. Aesthetician recommended, antibacterial, anti-aging (it’s a natural preservative). I’ve been using this miracle worker for 10 years. Also of note: A jar costs about $5.99 at Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods. Score.
Rose water, orange blossom water, lavender water.
Hydrosols (water distillations of flowers and herbs) are lovely as a toning spritz, post face washing, but as you’ll learn in the guide to washing your face with honey, a toner isn’t necessary.
Custom blended face oil.
Either straight up sweet almond or apricot kernel oil, or a blend of those with essential oils.
For dryer skin: I like a blend of jasmine, rose geranium, and lavender.
For oilier skin: I like a blend of jasmine and sandalwood.
Orange Blossom Body Wash with MSM from Griffin Remedy or Blood Orange Vanilla Body Wash from John Masters.
Simple. Good. MSM softens the skin, reduces inflammation, and improves joint health.
Orange Blossom Body Mist and Skin Serum from Sol Flower Botanicals.
This is a line of products made by a friend on Maui—and some of the most exquisite face and body care products I’ve ever encountered in my life. A K&C x Sol Flower collab may be in the works, stay tuned!
Fantastic for uber dry skin, burns, and skin irritations.
Sweet Almond Oil.
Great for face and body, in scrubs and moisturizers.
Great for drenching dry skin.
Raw Coconut Oil.
Makes your skin feel like velvet. Also great for your lady parts.
Coconut Rose MSM lotion from Sun Food.
Ditto on MSM above—also one of only a few lotions I consider pure enough to put on.
Rotating roster of natural deodorants with varying levels of success.
Annoying, but better than anti-perspirants and gross perfumes.
Label M Organic Orange Blossom Shampoo & Oatmeal Honey Conditioner.
Love love love these. Super affordable, organic, salon-grade products available on Amazon.
Beautiful Curls Shea Butter Leave In Conditioner.
Super light softening and curling support.
Lavender sea salt hair spritz.
It’s mega easy to make your own: Blend water, salt, a dollop of leave-in conditioner, and essential oils of your choice in a spray bottle. Shake and get that beachy wave on.
The Body Shop Grapeseed Glossing Serum.
Works like a charm, smells like a bright, yummy burst of citrus. (Not sure why, but guys seem to L O V E the smell of this. Serious. Like they want to make out with my hair whenever I put it on.)
Ok. Ready for step two?
HOW TO BE AN ALL NATURAL BAD-ASS IN THE KITCHEN.
To begin, let’s return to the idea of packing nutrients and tapping in to the amazing resources that are superfoods. You’ll find links above to the K&C guide to my favorite superfoods, explained with Beyoncé GIFs. CUZ WE CAN. I incorporate at least one of these foods into my meals almost every day, even if it’s just throwing some spirulina in a jar with lemon juice and stevia and shaking up a green lemonade for myself.
Click through above to get the download on all the magic they have to offer. And then make fun things, like this Sea Greens Smoothie with Coco Dulse Sprinkles!
Next up: Greens. I’m kind of obsessed with them. I often feel like drinking a good green juice is like guzzling the most wholesome, nourishing milk in the universe. It instantly wakes me up, gives me a jolt of energy, and gives me a nice dose of plant life. Take note: I don’t have a juicer. I make all my juices in the Vitamix.
Another favorite way to integrate a ton of veggies into my daily routine is with a super green soup like the one below, which has a bajillion leafy greens in it and tastes like a warm, nourishing dream. Plus: GARLIC CARAWAY BREADCRUMBS.
Remember what I said before about not beating yourself up? I love Mexican food. I also love pizza. And sometimes you deserve to indulge and have Mexican food on your pizza. I present to you: The Mexican Pizza!
And finally, playing around with sweets is probably my all-time favorite thing to do in the kitchen. Below are two desserts that have all my fun in them—plus the superfood powers of spirulina (in the Green Ice Cream) and chia seeds (in the vegan Gingersnap Chocolate Cream Pie).
And on that sweet superfoods note, my all-natural modern babes, I will leave you with one last dose of Yoncé.
I’d love to hear your thoughts—please let me know if you have any additional questions in the comments below.