Dear Congress,

Dear Congress,

Yesterday, 17 people were slaughtered. I know you know this, because it’s impossible not to. But I want to write to you, to each of you–Senators and House Representatives, men and women, parents, friends. I want you to know how angry I am. How scared and sad and worried and confused. I want to write yo you as your employer. Remember me? The person who hired you?

You see, there are lots of statistics floating around right now. About how many school shootings that have already happened 45 days into the year. About which shooting was the deadliest, about how we’re averaging about one school shooting per week since Sandy Hook. Remember Sandy Hook? When 21 first graders were shot to death? Yeah, I thought so. I don’t know if it’s better or worse that you do remember, because how could you not have taken action then?

I’m going to say some things here that might make you get really defensive, but let’s drop all of those pretenses and just be honest, okay? We know you’re funded by the NRA. We know that, you know that, the NRA knows that…it’s fact, not opinion. So we know you have a *vested* interest in making them happy. That’s just how it is. They keep your pockets full, and you need your pockets full. We all do. It’s the beauty of capitalism.

But. BUT. Mommies need their babies to come home. Daddies need to hug their littles and tuck them in at night. Wives and husbands need their spouses, their best friends, to wake up tomorrow. High school students need to know they’re safe at school. FIRST GRADERS need to know they’re safe at school.

Can I pay you to change? I can’t pay you the millions (billions?) of dollars that the NRA can, but I can give you everything I have. Please. I’m begging you. I’m selling my soul to you so that you’ll do something.

If it’s not money you’re after, but pride and recognition, then imagine the publicity and support you’ll get by DOING SOMETHING. We will stand behind you!! We will say YES! Change! Reform! Protection! You won’t be alone, Congress. Sure, some of your colleagues will balk at the challenge, and continue to fund their campaigns and vacation homes and you might even wonder how you’ll survive (or how your campaign will survive, or how your vacation home will survive) if you’re not on the NRA’s good side. I get that. It doesn’t make it okay, but I get it.

Congress, you’re going down in history. Whether you know it or not, you’re on the cusp of a time that in a few generations, people will look back and say “what took them so long???!” They’ll wonder how we let so many kids die on our watch. On your watch. They’ll write books about this time, analyzing what could’ve been done differently. Don’t you want your name on the right side of that story? To be written about as the lone person who took a stand to protect our babies? Don’t you want to be a hero?

And, in case you think it won’t matter, let me present to you a case study. In 1996 Australia experienced their worst mass shooting. 35 people were killed. In the days after this shooting, the Prime Minister started putting together the strictest gun reform in the world. They banned automatic, semi-automatic, and pump-action shotguns. More than 640,000 weapons were turned in and destroyed. It took just 14 days–14 days!!!!!–for the gun reform to be written and passed. The best part? Since the 1996 reform was passed, guess how many mass shootings Australia has had? ZERO. Zero!

This doesn’t mean Australia doesn’t experience gun violence. Because we have guns, we will have gun violence. But we can stop the carnage where dozens of CHILDREN are being murdered. We can do it, Congress! I promise! And don’t you want to be involved in that?

I want to believe that you’ll do the right thing here. As your employer, I want to make sure you do. I think you sometimes forget you have a boss. And that boss is me. So fix this ridiculous situation, or I will do everything in my power to fire you. To make sure you’re never given the honor of “serving your people” again. To make sure you can never tweet things about “thoughts and prayers” and choke on your own hypocrisy.

Statistically, it’s unlikely it’ll be your kid who is shot by a murderer wielding an AR-15 and emptying 45 bullets a minute. There’s only 535 of you, and theres 323 million of the rest us. But can you imagine if it was your child? Can you picture getting the call? Can you feel the bile in your stomach rising, the scorching tears spilling? The nightmares you’ll have, picturing a bullet entering your child’s body? The pain of burying your baby’s body in the ground? Because there are 17 parents dealing with that today. And countless more from the crimes committed by these military grade weapons that have happened on your watch. THESE ARE NOT DRAMATICS, THAT IS THEIR REALITY.



An angry parent & YOUR BOSS

PS: I’m fuming mad. I know this won’t change anything and you WON’T LISTEN TO US and I don’t understand it and I don’t know how you can sleep at night and let this continue to happen. Jesus come.



Holiday Gifts Under $50

Hi friends! I get a lot of questions about holiday gifts that you can *slyly* hint to your husband, boyfriend, mama that you want for Christmas! And some of you are making wish lists for Secret Santas and White Elephant gift exchanges and need some inspiration. So here are five suggestions (and three splurge ideas!) from Beautycounter that will get you high quality, safer skin care and makeup in your stocking or under the tree!


For the makeup newbie:

Nude Eye Trio

$38 // Includes Volumizing Mascara, Liquid Eyeliner, Silk Cream Eyeshadow. Made with safer ingredients, this timeless eye trio delivers glimmering lids, dramatic definition, and full, fanned-out fringe.  All-new Liquid Eyeliner in black creates precise definition, from classic lines to cat eyes. Silky smooth with a hint of shimmer, new Silk Cream Eyeshadow glides on seamlessly, blends like a dream, and lasts all day (and night).



For the makeup pro:

Smoky Eye Trio

$38 // Includes Volumizing Mascara, Liquid Eyeliner, Silk Cream Eyeshadow. Made with safer ingredients, this timeless eye trio delivers glimmering lids, dramatic definition, and full, fanned-out fringe.  All-new Liquid Eyeliner in black creates precise definition, from classic lines to cat eyes. Silky smooth with a hint of shimmer, new Silk Cream Eyeshadow glides on seamlessly, blends like a dream, and lasts all day (and night).


(& if you’re looking to splurge…)

Ultimate Nudes Palette

$88 //  This ultimate anytime, anywhere eyeshadow palette includes 18 all new neutral shades, a double-ended brush, and a removable mirror. A trifecta of finishes—satin, metallic, and matte—creates endless looks for every skin tone. All shadows get their luxurious texture from naturally-derived cocoa seed butter.


Winter Jewels Palette

$58 // A jewel-toned color collection for the entire face, this limited edition palette includes 11 all-new shades —8 eyeshadows, 1 eyeliner, 2 highlighters—and a removable mirror. It’s an ideal palette for any occasion, day or night, all wrapped up in gold-foil artwork exclusive to Beautycounter.


Best of Brushes Set

$58 // These are the four brushes every beauty needs—in one giftable (or keepable) set. Powder Brush is designed for applying blush, bronzer, or finishing powder. Angled Blush Brush fits the angles of your cheeks for easy color application and contouring. All-Over Eye Brush blends base shadows over eyelids and brow bones, while Crease Brush precisely blends contour shadows. Each brush is made with soft, animal hair-free taklon bristles.



For the no-makeup, let-the-skin-breathe junkie:

Glow and Go Mini Oils

$28 //Reveal your best skin yet with these potent treatment oils in take-anywhere, try-me sizes—all wrapped up in a red sliding-drawer gift box. No. 1 Brightening Facial Oil blends hydrating  marula oil with vitamin C, which helps illuminate and even skin tone. No. 2 Plumping Facial Oil contains jasmine oil to replenish moisture and omega-rich argan oil to help minimize the appearance of fine lines. No. 3 Balancing Facial Oil features ylang ylang flower oil and wild chamomile to calm and nourish skin.

Shop One, Share One. With every purchase of this set, Beautycounter will donate a set to patients at the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center (JCCC)—a trailblazing destination for research, education, and patient care.



If you’re thinking you’re getting coal in your stocking:
(OR for the fella in your life)

Clean Slate CharCOAL Duo

$48 // Formulated with binchotan charcoal from Japanese ubame oak, this duo of best-selling products gently washes away impurities without harsh surfactants. No. 3 Balancing Facial Mask absorbs excess oil and unclogs pores. Charcoal Cleansing Bar detoxifies skin without drying it out, resulting in a smoother, clearer complexion. Both come packaged together in a red sliding-drawer gift box.



For teacher gifts, stocking stuffers, etc:

Holiday Soap Trio

$30 // This is a GREAT gift set to buy and then break up, creating smaller gifts for teachers, stocking stuffers, or coworkers. Includes Lavender & Vanilla, Ylang & Mandarin, and Citrus & Chamomile scented soaps. Each finely milled formula contains organic shea butter, and organic coconut oil to gently cleanse, hydrate, and soften from head to toe.


As I write this, we’re sitting waiting for Hurricane Irma to hit. Writing about the hardest period in my life (the postpartum period) seems fitting to do while we wait for one of the worst natural disasters to hit. #eyeroll. This is a long post, and full of heavy stuff, but I think I’m only starting to feel okay because of other moms who’ve walked alongside me and shared their stories. So here’s mine. I so, so hope it helps another mama know she’s not alone.

I’m three weeks postpartum today, and I finally feel like the fog is starting to lift—if the fog was a toxic, deadly fume that came with total sleep deprivation and anxiety like none other.

I’ll start at the beginning and work my way towards today…

Emory was born at 9:43am on Sunday, August 20th after a borderline traumatic labor experience. But there was a magic to the hour or two following her birth; her daddy and I were smitten, she was beautiful and healthy, and I was unbelievably thankful to have the pain of labor behind me. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the end of things.

You always hear stories about how in love you fall with your baby as soon as you see them. And there were definitely feelings I’ve never experienced, and I would’ve definitely given my life for that sweet child immediately, but there was not this beautiful afterglow of labor where I spent time ooh-ing over every feature, falling in love with her and feeling this immeasurable bond. In fact, none of that happened. I had a pretty significant tear that required some extensive suturing, I was exhausted beyond all understanding, and  I was emotionally starting to process what had unfolded and how we didn’t get the home birth I had so wanted.

Within a few hours (I think?) we were moved upstairs to the mother & baby unit. We said goodbye to our sweet nurses, and said hello to a new set that were…well…less than that. I mean they were nice, but our L&D nurses really set the bar high.

Once we got “settled” into our new room, things started to really hit. My hormones were plummeting, and as someone who suffers from anxiety disorder to begin with, I was starting to get super emotional and scared over everything. Was Emmy breathing? Was she cold or uncomfortable? And mostly…was she eating?

We had latched her on within an hour of birth. And by “we”, I mean the baby nurse. I honestly don’t even remember it. But let’s just say, it did some damage. And when we tried again once we were in our new room, she refused to latch to my other breast, so we went back to the damaged side and, not surprisingly, did even more damage.

Emmy was going 6-ish hours between “feedings” and my anxiety was skyrocketing because I knew I wasn’t doing something right. The night nurse had me try a nipple shield, which actually just messed up the other breast instead of helping. I was still in a huge daze and would watch her sleep, picturing the clock ticking by each minute that she hadn’t eaten. Eventually, the lactation consultant came by and her words were, “Oh man, your nipples look terrible.” Thanks. So comforting.

Since Shands is a “baby-friendly” designated hospital (super pro-breastfeeding, pacifiers are a no-no, and formula is definitely not the standard), we knew breastfeeding would be pushed hard and fast. So to hear that we needed to start supplementing her was kind of shocking. Since I had so much trauma to my breasts already, there was no way we could keep trying to get her to latch. So that started a cycle where I’d pump to stimulate milk production, hand express what little colostrum I could get out, feed that to Emmy via a syringe, and then finger-feed her formula (using a syringe to feed her through a feeding tube against my finger, so she’d still have to suck for food). It was exhausting and emotional and painful.

Once the pediatric team came for her 24-hour evaluation, they weren’t happy with how little she was feeding. There were talks of us having to stay another night until we could figure it out. The pediatrician mentioned a lip/tongue tie, but she didn’t think Emmy had that issue.

But the lactation consultant did.

And so began the battle of whether or not we needed to “fix” a tie that did or did not exist. Eventually, an OT who was also a lactation consultant came in and cast the deciding vote–that she did not have an issue and was just too tense to feed. We were to try and coax Emmy to relax her shoulders, but my tissue was still too traumatized to even attempt feeding her at the breast.

Eventually, we were told we could be discharged, as long as we saw our pediatrician and a lactation consultant the next day. I was exhausted, emotional, scared, and just had a general feeling of malaise. My parents and sister came to visit us in the hospital, and I just remember feeling so sad. For no real reason. I wanted to go home and I didn’t want to go home. I was so scared that Emmy wasn’t okay. When the nurse came in to do her heel stick, and Emmy wailed, I sat on the bed next to her holding her hand just weeping. I felt like I could throw up. I knew it was just a little prick, but I felt every cell in my body writhing in anxiety and fear.

I was also surprised at how much pain I was in physically. I remember hearing that once the baby is born, you go from “a ten to a zero on the pain scale.” As my cousin said, I’m calling bullshit on that. It was so hard to walk to the bathroom, and even sitting up hurt.

Finally, around 7pm, we were “discharged” and told we needed to wait for the transport team to wheel us out of there. Our nurse gave us an insane amount of information, from everything on SIDS to when to call 911 to “bonding” with your baby.

Then shift change happened, and we were forgotten about. We waited for over an hour for the transport team to come, and they never did. We kept asking, but we didn’t have a nurse assigned to us anymore since we had been “discharged”, and we just sat in our room waiting. I started sobbing. I was so tired, hadn’t slept, and was slowly being consumed by a fear and anxiety that was growing like weeds. I couldn’t stop crying. Matt finally took Emmy and walked down the hall (a MAJOR no-no) which caused the nurses to freak out immediately. Which, frankly, was exactly what he wanted, and told them they needed to find someone to get us out of there ASAP.

Within ten minutes, we were finally wheeled out. Matt went to go get the car, and I held Emmy, still sobbing, wondering why this wasn’t this magical “going home” moment I so often saw. It was past 9pm, and was dark and silent and hot out. While waiting for Matt with the car, the nurse who had wheeled me down proceeded to tell me about the last mom who had to wait 2 hours to get discharged and how it was even worse for her because her baby had just died.

I think I broke at that point. I stopped crying and just fell into myself. I was terrified putting her in the car seat, and cried all the way home because I didn’t know if she was breathing or not. When we got home, I got in the shower and had a complete panic attack. I felt like I was losing my mind. I vividly remember wanting to climb the walls, wishing Emmy would just go away so we could have our old life back. I didn’t want her anymore. I just wanted Matt and I to be able to crawl into bed and snuggle and watch TV, not deal with our crying baby who I didn’t even know how to feed.

I didn’t want to hold her. I didn’t want Matt to hold her either, because I wanted him to hold me. But she was hysterical (um, who wouldn’t be at less than 2 days old and in a totally new place and pretty freaking hungry). Thank God for my sweet husband, who turned a steamy shower on and sat on the bathroom counter for three hours with her because the steam and noise calmed her down.

I laid in bed feeling like the worst mother on the planet. I couldn’t calm my baby, I couldn’t feed her, I didn’t want to even hold her, and my poor husband –who was also sleep deprived–was now being forced to sit for hours on end on our bathroom counter. Just writing it makes me sick to my stomach.

I’m not sure I’ve ever felt such a combination of fear and anxiety and sadness. I couldn’t breathe, and I couldn’t stop crying. I would just shake and feel like I was going to vomit. And it didn’t stop.

I remember wanting to take this picture during a meltdown, because I just KNEW that there would have to be another side to this season and that I’d want to reach back and hug this girl.

The next day I knew something was wrong. I knew I wasn’t doing okay, and that I needed help. I’d cry and cry and cry each day, because I just couldn’t do it. Unknowingly, we weren’t feeding Emmy enough because we didn’t know anything about formula feeding, and didn’t know that we needed to be quickly increasing her feeds. God had his hands on that girl since she somehow didn’t starve.

Our pediatrician saw us the day after we got home, and helped us understand that we needed to feed her more. And gave us the contact information for an amazing lactation consultant, who came to our home the next day, after giving me tips on how to quickly heal my damaged nipples.

When she arrived, she got Emmy to latch immediately. It was a miracle. We did a weighted feed: For perspective, we were feeding Emmy between 5-10mL of formula at each feed. From one feed at my breast, she ate 68mL. 68!!! Poor baby really was starving.

I finally felt like I was doing something right. Emmy didn’t scream after eating, her color was less red and she was totally calm and drowsy after eating. I wish I could say our breastfeeding journey was magical from that point on, but it wasn’t. It’s still full of pain and exhaustion and not knowing if she’s eating enough, but I think I’m too traumatized from our early induction to formula to switch.

About a week and a half postpartum, when Matt was back at work, I was still in the throes of reeling anxiety and finally decided I needed help. We made an appointment for me to see a nurse practitioner at UF, and she quickly adjusted my anxiety meds and got me a referral with a psychologist. Within two days of the adjusted dosage, the tunnel vision started to lift and I felt like I wasn’t drowning. I even made it a few days without crying! Things started to look up.

You’re probably wondering if I suffered/am suffering from postpartum depression or anxiety. None of the practitioners I saw thought so, they just thought I was dealing with the normal (albeit terrifying) thoughts and emotions that come with the postpartum period, but that because I suffer from an anxiety disorder, those feelings were amplified and I wasn’t processing them well.

We’re three weeks out today and let me tell you, it’s still hard. Really hard. Nothing prepared me for this. I think I knew I’d be emotional. I knew breastfeeding would be hard. I knew I’d have a physical recovery. I knew I’d be sleep deprived. I knew things would be scary.

But what I didn’t anticipate was having every moment in time where I felt all of those things at once. It is simply engulfing when you’re sleep deprived, anxious, terrified, in pain and trying to keep your new baby alive. There’s no room to breathe.

People tell you “you’re doing such a great job!” and “you’re a wonderful mom!” and you just want to slap them because sure, that’s really sweet, but you don’t feel like either of those things. You feel like a terrible mom, and someone just telling you otherwise doesn’t exactly help.

So what am I doing that is working? One day at a time. Stay on my meds. Reach out for help when I need it. Let Matt take an early morning feed so I can sleep a little more. Get out of the house. Write about it. Pray. Let other mamas hold me up and listen to their stories. Know I’m not alone.

I keep praying that each day, each week, it gets a little better. A little easier. And I hear it will. But for now, I’m sitting trying to remember all of the “things that work” tactics as we sit with our sweet newborn, awaiting one of the worst hurricanes to hit Florida in the last 25 years. Nothing like a little natural disaster to keep the postpartum period interesting, eh?

If you’re a new mama, and feeling any of these things, please reach out. I want to hold your hand and walk with you. I’m still in the weeds, but we can be in the weeds together. We can do these hard things, I promise.





Why Beautycounter?

Last week I announced that I joined Beautycounter. I’m a total introvert, so this is wayyyyy out of my wheelhouse. But you guys, this mission is so important to me.

I wanted to share some more background on why I chose Beautycounter. A few months ago, I learned that my hormone levels were all over the place. At the advice of my doctor, I started eating hormone-free meats and dairy and slowly switching to “clean” products that go on/in my skin. Around that time, my friend Madison started posting about Beautycounter products. The timing was impeccable, so I purchased some lipstick and tinted moisturizer (more about why those products later).

Y’all, I wasn’t expecting much. I don’t know why I thought “natural” products wouldn’t work. But these products truly wowed me. I bought more products and have yet to find something that I don’t LOVE. I think I expected some Mary Kay-esque products, but this is far from your mother’s makeup. It’s high end, with modern packaging (I’m a sucker for packaging),  and IT WORKS. Like really works. Look, allure agrees!


Madison had talked to me about partnering with Beautycounter but I was insanely hesitant. Here’s why:

  • I’m an introvert.
  • I HATE when people DM me on social media about their makeup/oils/jewelry/clothing.
  • Just the word “sales” makes my skin crawl, so there’s that.

She never pressured me, and we just kept talking about it over a few weeks. But then I read more about Beautycounter’s powerful mission, and about their cool partnerships with J.Crew and Target (hello, my two favorite stores).

This process was helped by the fact that my master’s degree is in health education & behavior. We learned so much about health policy, so I was shocked to learn in my research that the US hasn’t passed a major federal law regulating the cosmetics industry since 1938. That’s 78 years, folks!

Why does that matter? Because most of the chemical compounds used in skin care have been created in the last 50 years or so. That means that the laws have not caught up to the science. And that’s kind of scary.

I love what CEO and founder Gregg Renfrew said: “Like many of you, I’m a wife and mom—and, like many of you, I didn’t know what I didn’t know. As I applied sunscreen, lotion, and any number of beauty products on myself and my kids, I never thought for a second they might not be safe: After all, I thought, we live in a country that regulates everything. So imagine my surprise when I learned that when it comes to the personal care industry, that’s simply not the case. Companies are allowed to use harmful ingredients and make their own judgments about safety.”

And that kind of did it for me. I want to be a part of this mission because I want people to simply have the knowledge about safe beauty.

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I mentioned earlier that the first two products I bought were lipstick and tinted moisturizer. Why?

Because the easiest way to “go clean” is one step at a time. It’s not to replace every product in your makeup bag or shower all at once. The best way to make the change is to do it one product at a time. Ran out of mascara? Buy a clean version. Need moisturizer? Buy a clean version. Running low on face wash or blush or eyeliner? Buy a clean version. Need to get a gift for a girlfriend? Buy a clean version.

I want y’all to join me on this mission. So much so, that the first three people who place an order will get a free goodie from me! Huzzah!

Here’s a handy shopping list for my personal “go-to” products:

  • Dew Skin Tinted Moisturizer (an allure Best of Beauty award winner!): I’m shade No. 2 for reference
  • Lip Sheer (best seller, and another allure Best of Beauty award winner!): I use the Twig shade for everyday use. This lip sheer was a game changer for me since I have super chapped lips and have never found a lipstick that doesn’t accentuate that, until I found this.
  • Nourishing Cream Cleanser: Safe to use to remove eye makeup!
  • Charcoal Cleansing Bar: This is a gentler version than what you might be used to, because it also uses green tea and coconut oil.

Want a sample of something? Just message me!

And shop all of their amazing products here:

I’m so excited for y’all to fall in love with their products and their mission.

PS: Have kids? This is equally (if not more) important. Baby products are not held to a higher standard–the same toxic ingredients found in your skin care and makeup can be found in your baby wash and oils. Feel better about what you put on your littles by clicking here: Beautycounter Baby & Kids

In good health,


2016 Gift Guide: Girlfriends!

I *think* I’m done with Christmas shopping, and that’s mainly thanks to online gift guides. I don’t know why I can’t figure out what to buy people, BUT if you’re in the same camp, here are some fun gifts for your girlfriends/sister/mom!

PS: All of these gifts are under $75!

1. The Leather Pouch Wallet from Madewell


This is SUCH a classic gift to give, and you can even go a step further and get it foil-pressed monogrammed. This is 100% on my Christmas list.

2. Beautycounter Winter Warmth Palette


This is a great option for two reasons: 1) women love makeup and 2) this makeup brand is totally SAFE and free of harmful chemicals. Getting this for your girlfriend/sister/mom shows that you not only understand their love for beauty products, but also that you care about them and their safety.

3. Threshold Art from Target


Getting someone art is such a unique gift. It’s a bold statement that will provide a lasting reminder of your gift-giving skills. Plus, this is a huge piece of art for only $70 (with free shipping!), so you’ll look like much more of an impressive gift-giver with this luxurious piece.

4. “Thankful” Print by P + Co


Show your lady how thankful you are for her with this “Thankful” print by P + Co.

5. Beautycounter Band of Beauty Membership


This gift takes it a step further with the makeup deal, because your lady friend will get some serious perks just for buying (safe!) makeup and skin care. For $29, she’ll get:

  • 15% product credit with every order
  • Free shipping on orders over $100
  • Complimentary gift just for signing up
  • Special offers exclusive to members


PS: Want help picking out makeup/skin care products for your girlfriends? Email me at and put “Gift Guide” in the subject line!


xo, A