Life[style]: Sept. ’16 — Back-to-School Goodies for Mom

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Now that we’re mid-September and in the shadow of back-to-school everything, I thought I’d share a few goodies that have helped me make the transition.  Now, my little one is only in a half-day preschool program twice a week, so I cannot empathize with the Xena Warrior Mamas who shuttle to/from school 5 days a week, coach/attend practice, and then simultaneously cook dinner/pack lunches for the next day.  I haven’t yet been able to relate to that big back-to-school stress, BUT I can empathize with adjusting to the change of swinging back into a routine…  getting up a bit earlier, meal planning, being more productive, and saying sayonara to the unstructured days of summer.  Here’s my review on a healthy snack option, a drink for my fitness friends, and a nifty refresh pack that comes in handy MacGyver-style no matter where your mom-mobile takes ya.

Crunchies:  This new & tasty line of all-natural, freeze-dried fruit and vegetable snacks contains just one simple, authentic ingredient:  fresh produce.  Crunchies has developed a snack food that’s not just addictive and delicious but packed with impressive nutrition to boot.  Hello, my new lunchbox go-to!

crunchies

Available in both single-serve packs and larger grab-n-go resealable pouches, Crunchies freeze-dried products provide a much-needed respite from junk foods and other processed snacks.  They contain no added sugar and no artificial flavors or coloring and are non-GMO, gluten-free, vegan, kosher and halal certified.  Crunchies’ product line includes strawberries, mango, pineapple, blueberries, raspberries, grapes, cinnamon apple, strawberry banana, mixed fruit and beets.

Jet Set Kit by Savvy Travelers:  Originally designed for frequent fliers, this handy box o’ beauty & wellness is just as valuable for on-the-go moms.  Savvy Travelers offers a no-rinse line of disposable yet eco-friendly products –Made in Cali– that help keep us feelin’ so fresh & so clean clean.  Their individually wrapped cosmetic wipes are curated for the sophisticated savvy travelista!  savvy-traveler

No Water?  –No Problem!  This line of pre-packaged kits with single-use individually wrapped beauty wipes, such as the “Jet Set Kit” (featured here) contains 4 antiperspirant deodorant wipes, 4 mouth cleansing wipes, 4 cleansing and moisturizing wipes for the face and 4 lens and screen cleaning wipes.  These are a savior in the school pick-up line when you’re stuck in the car but still want freshen up, making all that running around we do more convenient and healthier all around.

CitraGreen Sport:  As we continue to face the new school year head-on, many parents are concerned with keeping illness away, especially with the fall and winter months approaching.  CitraGreen is a way to maintain the essential nutrients and vitamins we need daily just by simply dissolving a tablet in 8 ounces of water.  Now, I’ve reviewed CitraGreen before, but I wanted to be sure and share their gym supplement offering, too!

citragreen-sport

Benefits of CitraGreen Sport:

  • Sports recovery offered during and post-exercise with electrolytes POTASSIUM, CALCIUM, MAGNESIUM, PHOSPHOROUS, IRON + 4 more essential minerals.
  • Contains Vitamin A, Vitamin C and Iron for a healthy immune system.
  • Contains Vitamin E, Manganese and Selenium antioxidants which contribute to the protection of cells from oxidative stress.
  • Complete Vitamin B complex (6 B Vitamins) to combat Vitamin B deficiency and boost energy levels – with Vitamin B2, Vitamin B3, Vitamin B5, Vitamin B12 and Iron which contribute to the reduction of tiredness and fatigue. Also contains Vitamin B1.
  • Contains Vitamins D2 (ergocalciferol) which, like many Vitamin D foods, fights to combat symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency or low Vitamin D.
  • Suitable for vegetarian and vegan diets with organic wheatgrass.
  • No artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.

Life[style]: August ’16 — late summer loves

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I’m not in back-to-school mode just yet…holding onto these last few days of summer with these August favorites:

Nerium Firming Body Contour Cream:  Body cream — because I’m still rocking the shorts & will still be wearing them for probably another month, maybe two!  There’s no question that our gym routines directly affect how toned, firm and tight the skin appears, but a sun care regimen is equally important for keeping the skin healthy and youthful looking.  So this summer, load up on sunscreen AND antioxidants— whether you’re gym or beach bound.Nerium
Skin can only withstand so much exposure to UV radiation, pollution, and smog before it starts to reveal signs of aging:  loss of elasticity, leathery texture, freckling or hyperpigmentation—all can eclipse the benefits of that hard work at the gym!  Enter Nerium International Firming Body Contour Cream, NeriumAD Formula, $120, which nourishes and soothes dry, sun-exposed skin while also providing anti-aging benefits (unlike other body creams). Nerium Firming Body Cream packs some powerful ingredients—Forskohlii root oil and Caffeine—to help smooth and tighten skin’s appearance. An exclusive, patented ingredient, NAE-8—with antioxidant properties—helps firm and tone problem areas for sleeker, more youthful-looking skin. In an independently conducted clinical trial, 92% of participants showed positive improvement on their thighs and 83% noticed an improved appearance of skin smoothness and cellulite.

Little Black Dress Wines:  Have y’all tried a taste of LBD?  The company takes its name from the iconic little black dress, celebrated for its timelessness, playful elegance and versatility.  They’ve just released new modern, sophisticated packaging and I’m drawn to the sleek black & white look!  But, the brand is more than looks – it’s about confidence.  It’s about knowing you’ve chosen something fantastic, and not having to shout it from the rooftop.  I brought this bottle over to a recent Girls’ Night In and it went fast!  LBD wine

Still synonymous with understated elegance, LBD can easily go from casual evenings in to fancy nights out.  Accessorized with fruit-forward aromas, hints of dazzle, an impeccable sense of balance and a body to die for, LBD Wines cover every mood, from spirited to sophisticated.  Masterfully crafted from California grapes, these wines appeal to confident, fashionably-minded women (ahem, read: the PERFECT hostess gift!) and includes Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Diva Pink Pinot, Diva Red, Merlot, Moscato, Pinot Grigio and Pinot Noir.

BullFrog Mosquito Coast:  Y’all, I’ve been praying it would’t come here but the Zika virus has officially landed in the U.S. with our first home-grown cases appearing in Miami.😦 Admitting the mosquito-borne disease was “scarier than we initially thought,” the CDC says knowledge is lacking about which drugs or vaccines may be effective. Then, there is the northward expansion of the mosquitoes which transmit the virus. Aedes aegypti has been seen as the main Zika culprit, but Culex quinquefasciatus also may be a vector — and that mosquito is 20x more common.Bull Frog.jpg

August in Texas reaches a fever-pitch of heat, sunshine, and yes…mosquito activity.  So, I’m into the added value of lotions that combine sun protection with effective mosquito protection.  BullFrog was the world’s first mass-marketed fusion of sunscreen with insect repellent and today, BullFrog Mosquito Coast — proudly made in the USA— is America’s #1 selling sunscreen/bug spray combo.  DEET-free, too!

Mixing Pearls + Leather with designer Wendy Mignot

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I’ll admit, I haven’t always loved my birthstone.  As a June birthday girl, I used to think the pearl wasn’t as fancy or precious as say, the ruby (the stone for my mother’s July birthday).  But, as I’ve gotten older & wiser –and my tastes have refined!– I’ve come to love the pearl and delight in wearing it with my summer whites all season long.  I relish in the fact that each & every pearl is unique and are found in different colors and shapes around the world.  I was honored to receive a unique fine pearl and leather bracelet from designer Wendy Mignot for my birthday this year and wore it all during my recent weekend away in Vegas…

pearl bracelet brunch.jpg

No one takes the classic white freshwater pearl out of its shell and into fresh, trending jewelry settings better than designer Wendy Mignot.  For over a decade, she has been the leader in fashioning pearls found naturally in freshwater rivers and seas with naturally tanned and hand-rolled leathers.  I’m wearing the Coastal Single Freshwater Bracelet in White, size 6.5″ — the pearl is HUGE and the handmade quality is so good!

Pearl bracelet airport

What I like about her designs that that they are a fresh mix of materials that work well with various looks & locations.  My piece was just as fab with a dress at brunch as it was  poolside.  I’m rocking it in the pic above stacked with my watch for a casual but upscale airport look.  View all of Wendy Mignot’s artistically designed creations at www.wendymignot.com

pearl bracelet box

Life[style]: July ’16 — Summer Essentials

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A few of my favorite finds from summer so far:  an all-natural bug spray to keep families safe from outdoor pests, a line of summer-friendly scents for workouts & errands, and a new bubbly beverage on the market.

Buzz Away:  With growing concern this year surrounding mosquito-borne diseases, it is more important than ever to protect our families from these biting pests. Buzz Away Extreme is an all-natural insect repellant made with essential plant oils that delivers the same protection as many chemical DEET-based repellents, without the negative effects on individual health and the environment.Buzz Away*Giveaway:  Use the hashtag #bugfreefun to be entered to win a Buzz Away Extreme Super Pack which includes an 8oz bottle of Buzz Away Extreme, container of child-friendly towelettes and a $50 Amazon Gift Card.  Plus, Blog Joie de Vivre readers can use the code 10OFFBUZZ to get 10% off any Buzz Away Extreme product at quantumhealth.com. The code is valid through September 30 and can be used once per customer.

ActivESSENCE:  Now that summer is finally here, we can shed our drab winter wardrobes and replace them with our favorite warm weather prints and colors. Since we all treat ourselves to a new fashion wardrobe each season, why shouldn’t we indulge in a refreshed and updated fragrance wardrobe?ActivESSENCEThe full spectrum of colorful scents offered by the collection boast time-released fragrance, suited for lasting all through a sweltering summer day.  These mists allow you to completely revamp your fragrance arsenal while simultaneously providing your skin with essential oils and vitamins A, C, and E, leaving it feeling nourished, hydrated, and supple.  Ah, yet another product that harnesses the power & goodness of essential oils…I’m seeing a pattern here!

smartwater sparkling:  In this extreme heat, I think we can all agree that hydration is key!  My favorite still water brand, smartwater, is always my first choice.  The vapor-distilled bottled water with added electrolytes for a crisp, pure taste is the perfect accomplice for my daily routine. smart water sparklingThe newly launched smartwater sparkling offering is a beverage option that will elevate any dining experience.  Y’all know I love the bubbly, but when you simply cannot ‘Rose All Day,’ this is the perfect alternative for some bubbles in my life😉

3 skincare lessons I learned from natural beauty trailblazer Tata Harper

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Tata Harper event.jpg

Early last week I had the opportunity to sit in on one of Tata Harper’s ‘master classes’ at Neiman Marcus Austin.  While sipping iced coconut green tea from The Steeping Room (my favorite!), a small group of beauty influencers got to experience Tata Harper‘s amazing offering of next generation beauty products.  The morning’s events were quite hands-on:  Tata herself flew in from Vermont and guided us step-by-step as we removed our make-up, double-cleansed, multimasked, moisturized, and even inhaled our way through her full line.Multimasking

Here are the top 3 takeaways from my morning with Tata Harper:

Check for antifreeze:  Non-toxic active ingredients matter more than we probably realize.  A popular ingredient found in many ‘anti-aging’ skin care products is propylene glycol — which basically antifreeze.  When are we going to stop putting this stuff on our FACE?!  Tata imagines one day we’ll look back on chemicals like this in our homes as we look back on lead paint now.  Tata says of her products:  “We provide clinical anti aging results without a single drop of synthetic chemicals.”

Formulations matter:  Say you do find a product without antifreeze or other nasty synthetics, now you have to look at the amount of good stuff they’re putting in to fill that bottle.  For example:  Hyaluronic acid is an active ingredient in Tata Harper’s Hydrating Floral Essence, an ingredient that costs a whopping $9,000 euros per pound!  Many products may tout Hyaluronic acid in their contents, but are only using a teensy-tiny little bit and watering it down with fillers.  100% free of fillers is crucial to getting real results from these high-quality active ingredients (and is important in getting the most bang for your buck!)

Daily regimen:  They have a prescribed set of steps for beautiful, youthful skin:

  1. Cleanse:  she recommended double cleansing with an oil cleanser first and then a regular cleanser to follow.
  2. Essence:  No more alcohol based astringent — spritzing an illuminating or moisture boosting ‘essence’ takes the place of old-school toners.
  3. Anti-aging serum:  If you’re serious about getting results from your serums, you need to use them a.m. and p.m. = every 12 hours.
  4. Moisturizer:  In the summer months, I usually forego moisturizer in lieu of my sunscreen or foundation, knowing my natural oils will soon take over in this heat.  However, Tata stressed that oily skin absolutely NEEDS moisturizer, too.
  5. Eye Care:  Tata takes time during this step to lightly massage her eye sockets & under eye area during application to reduce bags & puffiness.

Safe to say, I walked out of Neiman’s that morning feeling like I got the world’s finest organic facial.  I also absolutely LOVE the scent of everything…I noticed one of the lines on their brochure says their fragrance comes from flowers, not chemicals and you can really tell the difference!

Selfie from Tata Harper event

Mid-mask selfie!  In the middle of my Purifying Mask treatment.  This was actually step 4 in our process: first, Nourishing Oil Cleanser; second, Purifying Cleanser and third, the Resurfacing Mask.  Tata suggests keeping the Purifying Cleanser on under the Resurfacing Mask to heighten your glow.

So yeah…I want pretty much everything they make:  it’s all 100% free from synthetics, GMOs, fillers, gluten and synthetic fragrances.  Now, higher price points come along with that higher quality, so I limited myself to getting my one favorite thing from class which was the Hydrating Floral Essence to join my Elixir Vitae (natural botox, I swear!) at home.  So, have you tried Tata Harper skincare?  What’s your favorite product?

Camp Gorgeous at Neiman Marcus begins tomorrow

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Summertime & the living is GORGEOUS

As a wannabe beauty blogger, I must remind y’all that tomorrow starts the annual Camp Gorgeous event at Neiman Marcus.  Starting Thursday, June 9th, make a $100 cosmetics or fragrance purchase in store or online and receive a beach-ready tote with summer samples.  Couldn’t have been better timing…we’ve been out of town the last two weeks and the weather back home has officially shifted to melt-your-face-off hot.

I really adore the beauty department at my local Neiman’s (Neiman Marcus Austin in The Domain) — I feel like I can rest assured that they are offering the absolute best beauty products out there.  Plus, their gifts with purchase are usually pretty awesome and this summer’s Camp Gorgeous tote is no exception.  I love both colors, and looking closer at the pic, I can see at least three deluxe samples.Camp Gorgeous Totes

What products are on your summer beauty wish list?  Moisturizers & makeup with SPF?  CC creams?  A new summer scent?  I’m in the market for some new non-shimmer bronzing powder and easy-glide eyeliner that stays put.  Let me know your haute weather faves!

Life[style]: May ’16 – Spring Cleaning from the Inside Out with CitraGreen, Epsoak & Woolite Darks

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Happy Spring!  Love this season of rebirth and renewal.  I like a clean home, but I’m getting more & more into clean living these days.  I really want to be the healthiest version of myself for my family.  No matter if I’m sleep-deprived or overwhelmed emotionally, if I’m feeling healthy & strong I know I can take on the day.  Here are some new products I’ve tried to do a little spring cleaning from the inside out:

CitraGreen:  As a superfood, the potential health benefits of wheatgrass are numerous, but reaping them can be hard to stomach given the supplement’s bitter-tasting notoriety. Enter the world’s first effervescent wheatgrass tablets that transform the superfood into a convenient, palatable superdrink.  CitraGreen wheatgrass supplement reviewThe benefits of this mighty little wheatgrass supplement include:

  • 20 essential nutrients
  • Antioxidant cell protection
  • Immune support
  • B Vitamins for energy
  • Electrolytes for recovery
  • Suitable for vegans and gluten-free
  • No artificial colors, flavors or preservatives
  • Re-hydration and recovery both during and post-exercise

In addition, CitraGreen is ultra-easy to use. Simply drop one tablet into a cup (eight ounces) of water, wait one minute and voila. Gritless and mess-free, just literally add water and enjoy.  It’s easy as that & ready to go, with no mixing or stirring required and has a nice natural lemon flavor.

Epsoak:  Any other mamas love a good long bath???  These days, that time to myself enjoying a good soak is basically equalivent to a spa day.  I’ve found that Epsoak Epsom Salt from San Francisco Salt Company offers the best quality epsom salt at the best value. Epsoak epsom salt for bath review

They even make varieties that include essential oils like lavender and eucalyptus!  Epsom salts help soothe muscle pain, cleanse pores, and detoxify the skin and contain Magnesium and Sulfur, which helps:

  • Ease stress and improve sleep and concentration
  • Muscles and nerves function properly
  • Regulate activity of 325+ enzymes
  • Reduce inflammation to relieve pain and muscle cramps
  • Improve oxygen use
  • Flush toxins
  • Improve absorption of nutrients
  • Form joint proteins, brain tissue and mucin proteins

Woolite Darks:  And finally, a new product to keep my clothes clean without the worry of fading, shrinking or stretching!  Apparently this Woolite formula has an active ingredient that is especially excellent at preventing color fade and transfer.  Plus, the company recently paired with Dress for Success to create the #ShareConfidence campaign, encouraging women to be confident and pay it forward — check out the heartwarming video here.Woolite darks

Keeping the Faith During an Infertility Struggle

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I imagine going through infertility treatment is very much like going through any other major medical care. While the end-goal here is not to find a life-saving cure for yourself, the similarity lies in that finding a cure still equals life…not for you, but for the potential of life for your future child. You as the patient are bound by the condition of your physical body, the prescribed medical treatment plan, and the will of God/the universe/karma/chaos. –Whatever you chalk it up to, it feels as though powers outside of your control hold your fate.

As evidenced by the title, this post is about leaning into faith in God during an infertility crisis. I know not everyone shares my Christian faith or follows this doctrine, but I personally believe my Savior is in control. It doesn’t mean that we don’t have our faith tested and certainly a negative medical diagnosis can bring even the most devout follower to doubt.  After going through a three-year struggle to become pregnant, here are some personal truths I’ve realized after making it to the light at the end of the tunnel.Pregnancy Announcement #6

God’s ideas were better than mine: It never quite comforted me when a fellow Christ follower would advise, “It may not be the Lord’s will right now” or “God does things in His own time.” While this was disheartening to hear, I forced myself to take comfort in knowing that His plans for me & my family are greater than I could imagine. — After all, how limiting it would be if the extent of our life’s richness was limited to our simple human mind’s own vision! The Bible says, “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.'” (Isaiah 55:8-9 NIV)

Prayer can give life to His plans: I don’t think we as Christians give enough credit to the power of our prayers, especially during a health crisis when it can feel like our hands are tied. There is life-affirming power in the words we speak and there is weight in the fervent prayer of children to their Father. What’s more, there are instances in the Bible when man’s communication with God appears to persuade Him onto an alternate course of action, i.e. Moses asking to spare the Israelites (Exodus 32:9-14), Abraham speaking on behalf of Sodom (Genesis 18:22-33) and Hezekiah pleading for his own life (2 Kings 20:1-7). While He is sovereign, omnipotent, unchanging and doesn’t bargain, I do believe prayer was an integral factor in my path to pregnancy.

Cling to the Lord’s promises: After receiving the frustrating diagnosis of ‘unexplained infertility,’ the fear of the unknown drew me closer to God, my rock. Somehow, in my heart of hearts, I knew that He wanted me to have children and I held steadfast onto that intuition. I wholeheartedly believe our Lord wants us to receive the desires of our hearts…especially when that desire is to build a family. In the end, I think the strongest notion –my saving grace throughout treatment– was the promise conveyed in Luke 11:9 (NLT): “And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.”

National Infertility Awareness Week #StartAsking

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No better time than National Infertility Awareness Week (April 24-30, 2016) to finally begin sharing my personal journey through infertility on social media.  Even after crying tears of joy, making it to some major motherhood milestones —successfully getting pregnant, a smooth birthing experience, and even upon celebrating my daughter’s one year birthday– still, I wasn’t ready to openly discuss it.  Pregnancy Announcement Photo

However, I received an email today about Kaya Singer — entrepreneur, mentor, and author of the book Wiser & Wilder.  Singer says that success comes to those who focus on being authentic, in the right circle of people, in a balanced and actualized way, with a strong voice.  It also means being willing to face the unhealed parts of yourself that hold you back.

I have no reason to remain held back by my infertility, I have beat it once and I can beat it again.  Kaya’s mission is to support visionary women to wake up, stop hiding and invest in themselves so they can reach their true potential and make a bigger difference in the world.  So, I’m following Singer’s advice and facing my experience head-on by sharing that tough part of my life as openly and honestly as possible.  Look out for a more personal post here later this week, as well as one I wrote to go live soon on Austin Moms BlogPregnancy Announcement #4

Back to this being National Infertility Awareness Week:  the theme for this year is #StartAsking.  Awareness is important as there are so many women and men (7.5 million suffers) that don’t know where to begin.  Every day people with infertility are asking real and important questions. “Why me?” “How can we afford this?”  National Infertility Awareness Week is not only an opportunity to raise awareness about this disease, but also motivate all that are touched by infertility to commit to the cause.

#StartAsking

Employers for insurance coverage.
Your lawmakers and legislators to support issues important to the infertility community.
Friends and family to support you.
The media to cover infertility and the real challenges we all face.
Your partner to get involved.
Those who have resolved their infertility to stay involved.
OB/GYN or healthcare provider to talk about YOUR reproductive health.
For affordable care for treatment of a disease.
Legal access to all family building options nationwide.
About men’s reproductive health

Life[style]: April ’16 – Energy edition

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April’s theme is all about sneaking in a little extra energy — to get ya going in the morning, during that afternoon slump, and even at night!  Here are a few products that provide a wonderful little boost:

Morning:  Community Coffee CompanyCommunity Coffee Company private reserve blend review

But first, coffee.  –OF COURSE this would be the first on my list!  As the largest family-owned coffee company in the U.S., Community coffee has an indulgent scent & rich depth of flavor.  From the bold and slightly fruity flavor of the Louisiana Blend to the earthy aroma of Sumatra, Community’s Private Reserve coffee line is made from 100% specialty-grade Arabica beans and reflects the company’s strong relationships with farmers worldwide.

Afternoon:  il Morso Morso chocolates pic

Called ‘Coffee as a Bar,’ il Morso is delicious little afternoon treat and a new alternative to your afternoon coffee or energy drink.  Small enough to carry in a purse or pocket, these little bite-size wonders are super convenient, too.  Basically, they are an all-natural energy food that’s revolutionizing the art of grabbing coffee on-the-go with every one of their 100% organic, fair trade Coffee Bars!  Boasting only 1 g of sugar & 15-25 calories per serving, they are made with organic whole food ingredients that provide just enough boost to help finish the day strong. With flavors like Matcha Green Tea (7 MG caffeine), Mocha (14 MG), Americano (18 MG), or basic Coffee & Cream (16 MG), you can enjoy a dose-able energy kick that’s easy to estimate for any body type.

Night:  Pure Energy Night Cream by Junetics Junetics pic

OK, so this last energizing trick isn’t just for nighttime…there’s a whole regimen with products for both day & night.  Junetics is a new energy-powered skincare line recently hitting the market & I tried out their Pure Energy System with great results!

Their formulas are powered by what they call the “E24 Complex” – a revolutionary combination of Gluco-E, Plant Stem Cells, Copper and Amino Acids, Hyaluronic Acid and Silicium – creating a system of skincare that works non-stop to boost cellular energy and cell-to-cell communication, which works to refine and strengthen the skin.  After 7 days of using the Pure Energy System, users reported more hydrated, luminous, & smoother skin.  After 28 days:  less lines & wrinkles, more youthful & healthier skin overall.