Over the last ten days I've been traveling non-stop. At one point, I think I was in 5 states, 1 US territory and 2 countries all within a four day span. When I stepped off my 7th or 8th flight, a friend told me my skin looked great and asked how I travel "so well" and encouraged me to share some frequent traveler skin tips. Full disclosure: my skin is not that great at all nor do I think I actually do travel that "well" and I am definitely no aesthetician. That being said, I've learned a few tips along the way that I do find helpful. Maybe you will, too! Here they are:
1. The nose. Ok, I'm going to start with a kind of "ewwww!" type of tip but it works! Years ago, a fellow actress who travels a lot said she puts a thin layer of vaseline in her nostrils before a plane flight to protect the delicate nasal membranes from drying out. She swore it helped prevent catching a cold from the nasty recycled airplane air as well. I am not a big vaseline fan (petrochemicals, yadda yadda) but I will take a thin swipe of Burt's Bees Baby Bee Multipurpose Ointment and swipe it around the inside of just the tip of my nose. It's petrochemical/paraban free and safe for sensitive skin and it doesn't make me break out or anything and it does seem to work very well. The key here is moderation. Do not snort it like it's cocaine.
2. Cherries. Oh yum, yum, yum. I buy bags of those "Just Cherries" freeze dried cherries with no sugar added and eat a bag per flight. Supposedly, a good source of melatonin, they prevent jet lag or at least decrease its effects. I believe it. They definitely work for me. Also, because I eat a bag of cherries per flight, I don't usually go nuts from hunger and feel the need to order a bunch of overpriced, unhealthy potato chips from the flight attendant. Win-win! Oh, yes, and cherries are also supposed to be a natural anti-inflammatory so that can only help. If you hate the taste, sorry. I've got nothing for you.
3. Support stockings. Yup, I am going to sound like your grandparents. I totally wear compression stockings whenever I fly. If you don't believe it will make your legs feel better, try one leg of the journey (no pun intended) in them and one not and, if you're anything like me, you'll feel a huge difference. You don't have to look like your grandma when you're wearing them (although I would be flattered if someone told me I looked like either of my grandmas; they were both super snazzy fashionistas) nor do you have to spend a ton of money. You can buy a pair of compression stockings or socks on the cheap from a drug store like CVS or Duane Reade and then just wear cute pants or a skirt over them. Nobody will be able to tell. If you're going to a warm tropical destination, wear hose so you don't have sock lines and pull 'em off as soon as you land (well, go to a bathroom or something first - I don't recommend trying to divest yourself of your clothes as soon as the plane lands, to the dismay (or joy, I guess) of your fellow passengers.
4. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Drink tons of water and if it makes your trips to the restroom more frequent, so what? It's an excuse to stand up, move around and get out of those insanely tiny little airplane seats. I bring my glass water bottle (empty of course so TSA doesn't deport me) and, once I am through security, I go to the nearest food kiosk and ask if they'll just fill it with regular old water for me. I have never been turned down. And there you go! Free water, no plastic aftertaste and you can feel all environmentally friendly, righteous AND hydrated. Boo yah!
5. No makeup. For me, makeup makes my face feel like it's melting after a long flight. I just dab on a spare amount of Josie Maran's Argan Daily Moisturizer with SPF 40, chapstick and, maybe I'll do makeup on my eyes but leave the rest alone. I'll bring a little Koh Gen Do powder as well. I love Koh Gen Do. No animal testing, all natural and they seem clinically good in the sense that they never make me break out and I feel like my skin is better after using their products, even when they're makeup or powder. No, Koh Gen Do isn't paying me to say that. They have no idea I am alive. Darn it. I wish they did so they would give me free products. They're expensive! Worth it, but expensive. Oh, yeah, and Josie Maran is also very natural and doesn't test on animals (important to me).
6. Oil cleansing. This one is very tricky and I recommend googling "Oil Cleansing" and doing your homework before trying this while traveling. A friend introduced me to the oil cleanse method (thank you, Becca) awhile back and, it took a lot of time and trial and error but once I got it right, I would not go back. Basically, you make your own cleanser out of oil. I was taught to use castor oil and a 2nd oil. The amount of castor oil depends on how oily your skin is - the more oily your skin is, the more castor oil you use. The drier it is, the less castor oil you use. Then, you use a 2nd oil to make up the difference. Some of my friends with drier skin swear by olive oil but it made me break out and I didn't like it. I also tried coconut oil, which a lot of people like, but found it too heavy for the face (I put it in a spray bottle and mist it after a shower on the body though, and it's really nice). One woman I recently met said she is going to try avocado oil. I've never tried that one but it sounds good. There are so many you can try (again, google "oil cleansing method" and you'll see a ton of website and blogs that explore all the pluses and minuses of various oils in detail). My go-to now is a blend of 30% castor oil and 70% jojoba oil (I have oily/combination skin). I add a drop of essential oil to match what I am looking for - lavender to relax and detox; tea tree if I feel a break out coming on, rose if my skin is dry, etc. You can put mix the oil in a small glass jar and bring it with you when traveling. I rub a quarter-size amount on my face, dry, and then put a hot wet washcloth over my face for a couple seconds to "steam" it a little and then gently wipe the oil off with the washcloth and rinse my face. Once you get your ratios right, it's the best cleansing method ever!
7. Loose, layered clothing. Nothing constricting (other than those compression stockings - ha!) and layers to deal with temperature changes. I like soft, natural fabrics like silk and linen and cotton. That's it! I hope there's a tip in here that's helpful to someone on their next foray into the friendly skies.
I’ve been called a bitch a few times in my life – mostly behind my back. When I was younger, I used to confront people if I'd heard they'd said such a thing. In college, for example, I took a debate class and my female partner and I slaughtered the (all male) competition in a classroom debate. Afterwards, I heard that one of the girls in our class said that we may have won but that we were total bitches. I confronted her and asked why and she said we were just “so aggressive and bossy.” I pointed out it was debate and that’s kind of the point; besides, weren’t the guys aggressive and bossy, too? She said she they were more “assertive” and “determined.” In vain, I tried to convince her she was describing the same attitudes and personas but using a word with a negative connotation to describe me and my female partner and a word with a positive connotation to describe the males on the other team. It wasn’t the first time something like that happened, nor would it be the last. As I got older, I, for the most part, stopped following up with people who I’d heard had called me a bitch because it seemed generally like a waste of time.
The word "bitch" came up again for me in February when my friend, the wonderful actor, James Kyson, invited me to his home to engage in a poetry group made up of a small group of about 5 artists (actors, writers, musicians, comics, etc.) and led by an incredibly talented poet. I was a little nervous and intimidated by the greatness of this group but I love poetry and I was eager to share and collaborate with fellow artists. The event was amazing and one event in particular stood out to me so much that, 4 weeks later, I was still ruminating on it.
At one point, the woman moderating the group told us to take out notebooks and write down a single word we associated with a long list of words she read out to us. One word she said was “bitch.” Immediately, I wrote down, “Strength.”
After we’d finished writing down our first word associations with each of the words on the moderator’s list, she asked us to choose one association we’d written that surprised or interested us and to do a “free write” about that for a few minutes. I thought it was funny the first word I thought of in conjunction with “bitch” – a negative word – was “strength” – a positive word and began to free write about that. Afterwards, the moderator asked us to share with the group what we chose and what we wrote. One of the other women there, a neuroscientist and musician (read: super smart!) had also chosen “bitch.” She associated it with the color red. She wrote a gorgeous story of being labeled by others and being able to disregard and discard those labels. Her story inspired me to share what I had written with the group as well. Here is a part of what I wrote:
She is a bitch. Bold and ferocious; angry and true. She is honor and integrity and she speaks aloud. Never humbled but often shamed. She is hit and tormented, hated and mocked. Blood runs down her face and into her eyes. But she is defiant and stone and truth. She is love and elegance in a warrior’s mold. You can bend her and cut her but she will not break. You can frighten her and lock her up and rip out her tongue but her eyes will still speak and she will never give up. She’s soft on the outside; iron within. Refusing to yield, she can be stubborn and dark, cruel and cold. Most of all, she is strong. Strong within and strong without. If she takes your hand, she won’t let go. If you fall, she will catch you, no matter your weight. She is shy. She is innocent. She is a bitch. She is alone, filled with power that she wants to share. She is fire and light, darkness and liquid. She will attempt flight without wings and welcome the fall. She sees risks and takes them, refusing to be bound by social constructions and social constraints. She is a bitch. She’ll fall down the stairs and tell stupid jokes. She’ll be the toast of the town and then let everyone down. She is an explorer, a wanderer, a teacher, a judge. She fights for peace but belongs to war. She is a bitch.
A few days after that, I was part of a panel of three women interviewed on women taking on power roles – writer, director, producer – in the entertainment business. One topic that came up was women being our own worst enemy by competing too hard with one another and back stabbing one another. I really took issue with that, perhaps because my “bitch” essay was still on my mind. I asked why blame other women for not holding our hands as we try so hard to smash the plexiglass ceiling when we don’t blame men for doing the same thing? Why view other women as our competition always for every resource, but not men? Why see other women as a roadblock, and not men? Why bother with in-fighting and blaming our gender when we could be focused on rising and moving ahead?
Malcolm X once said something to the effect of, “we don’t need to change the white man’s mind, we need to change our own minds” and I think that is very apt for us as women. We are raised from an early age with different sets of values and judgments – social constructions, if you will – that we consciously and unconsciously apply to men and women throughout our lives.
Women are held to far higher standards and far harsher judgments. Don’t believe me? Look at the stats and studies showing that both men and women are far more critical of women bosses than men bosses (a 2013 Gallup poll found that Americans of all education levels and of both sexes prefer a male boss by an average of 33%); that assertive women are consistently described with negative words like “bitch,” “sharp-tongued” and “crazy.” Their male counterparts, on the other hand, are described as “commanding,” “determined,” and “confident.” See, e.g., LeanIn.org, Duke University Women’s Initiative of 2002, Catfight by Laura Tanenbaum, Why Are We So Hard on Women Bosses, Cosmopolitan Magazine April 2014 (http://www.cosmopolitan.com/advice/work-money/women-bosses); https://shine.yahoo.com/healthy-living/female-ceo-gets-hit-on-in-email-from-potential-employee-153536376.html (noting that sixty percent of women aged 18-34 say that they believe men are paid more than women for doing the same amount of work, and 51 percent say that society as a whole favors men over women).
So, going back to Malcolm X, maybe we need to work on putting aside the (often ridiculous) standards our society places upon our backs and put aside perceptions of how men and other women view us and try to focus more on making ourselves better and happier and stronger people – whatever that means to each one of us as an individual – in moving forward in our lives and doing what we think we should with dignity and honor and, of course, strength.
Actor, Author, Attorney