A Thanksgiving PSA

A little PSA as we approach Thanksgiving and all the holiday things. This morning I heard my first calorie shaming comment of the season – you know, the whole “REMEMBER! The average American eats X calories at Thanksgiving dinner. That DOESN’T EVEN INCLUDE dessert.” Followed by the requisite “better make time for the gym on Friday!” To do what? Pay penance on the treadmill? Burn off X calories in one session? (It doesn’t work that way, in case you were considering it.)

Please do yourself a favor – don’t. We’ve normalized it because our country has a totally skewed perception of what’s healthy. Don’t perpetuate it. There’s no need to “make up for” one day of food. There’s no need to feel SHAME for enjoying food. There’s no need to make comments about food being good or bad. (It isn’t either one – it’s food.) And remember, there’s no need to listen to anyone else do it, either. Making comments about gluttony isn’t what bonds and connects us at the holidays. It’s probably not politics or religion either, but please, please – leave food/body shaming out of your festivities. You’re better off taking in the food than the toxicity, I promise.

Check out these fantastic goals from Jennifer Rollin, a therapist who specializes in eating disorders:



Posted in Body Image, Body Positivity, Body Shaming, Eating Disorders, Food Fight, Healthy Holidays, Holidays | Leave a comment

All about those rays


For a star that’s six billion-year old, the sun can still be a source of major confusion. While we know some exposure is necessary and even healthy – think boosted mood and vitamin D, which we can all benefit from – too much time soaking up ultraviolet B (short-wave) and ultraviolet A (long-wave) rays can cause us to feel sick, burn, develop wrinkles, lines and spots, and even cancer. With more people being diagnosed with skin cancer each year than all other cancers combined, it’s clear that we need to protect our skin and respect the sun.

UVB = burning rays

Sunburns are the result of UVB exposure: the rays damage the skin’s more superficial epidermal layers. They also play a key role in skin cancer development. The best way to avoid UVB rays? Be extra careful in the sun between 10am-4pm from April through October, when UVB rays are most intense.

UVA = aging rays

We get the most exposure to UVA rays; they’re present all the time and can penetrate glass and clouds. They are the primary “tanning” ray – while we may like the initial look of a golden tan, it’s actually the result of injury to the skin’s DNA. Skin darkens to prevent further damage. UVA rays penetrate the skin more deeply than UVB; these are the rays that ultimately lead to longterm skin damage and aging

Blue light = high energy rays

So we know that UVB and UVA rays from the sun require protection. But mounting research shows that blue light, which is emitted from the sun and – believe it or not – from screens, may be causing cellular damage too. Screens emit blue light, which has the shortest wavelength and highest energy of the spectrum. Because we’re in much closer proximity to that light from our computers and phones than from the sun, our rapidly increasing time exposed is beginning to cause some concern. The free radicals generated from the light cause damage to collagen and elastin – think inflammation, color changes, weakening of the skin’s surface, and damage to the DNA of our cells. It’s this DNA damage that leads to skin cancer.

Now it should also be noted that some blue light exposure can actually be used to treat certain skin conditions. Confusing? Absolutely. But for most of us, limiting blue light exposure is a wise way to protect our skin in the long run.

Regular daily use of an SPF 15 or higher sunscreen reduces the risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma by about 40 percent, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. The question then becomes – which sunscreen to use? How do you ensure you’re getting adequate protection without introducing a whole new set of issues from nasty chemicals? And what about children, what’s safe to use on them? Should babies wear sunscreen? Next, we’ll explore exactly what to look for – and what to avoid – in sunscreen options for the whole family.

Posted in Better Beauty, Clean Beauty, Earth Friendly, Wellness | Leave a comment

Sun care is self-care


I am a firm believer that taking action to educate and protect yourself is the most empowering form of self-care. And yes – that extends to skincare and sun safety.

As we welcome summer, it’s also an awesome opportunity to say hello to safer sunscreen. The Environmental Working Group is a fantastic resource – they’re a tried and true organization that has analyzed over 1,700 products for their annual Guide to Sunscreens. If you do your research, you’ll come to a quick conclusion:

Not all sunscreens are created equal.

And that can get confusing! One of the first things to help shed some light on sunscreen is identifying the category – physical sunscreens versus chemical sunscreens.
Physical sunscreens, or “sunblock,” contain natural minerals – titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, for example – that cover the skin’s surface to physically block or reflect the sun’s UVA and UVB rays. It’s effective, but often thick and a little messy – leaving behind a white cast that can clog pores. More on that in a moment.

Chemical sunscreens contain synthetic ingredients – like oxybenzone and octinoxate – that absorb into the skin to filter and absorb UV rays and protect deeper layers of skin. Unfortunately, this absorption often leads to skin irritation and other adverse reactions.

Personally, I’d made the decision over the past few summers to accept the white chalkiness of physical sunscreen. New technology is rapidly changing the formulas, though, and I’ve witnessed some pretty incredible progress even in the last year. I recently found several new products that not only eliminate the white cast, but also feel fantastic on my skin – a combination I wasn’t sure I’d ever find. No more white ghosts on the beach!

Tomorrow we’ll be talking about different kinds of protection and why it’s so important – UVA? UVB? UVhuh? I’ll continue to share information on Instagram too, so be sure to join me there.

And in honor of the summer solstice, I have a special Beautycounter deal happening now through June 30th: with any purchase of $100+ pre-tax and shipping, I’ll send your choice from my favorite Countersun Mineral Sunscreen line:  a .5 oz Sunscreen Stick OR 3 oz Sunscreen Mist for free. (Mist available for local Chicago folks only so I can hand-deliver it!) Just use this link to shop with me as your consultant and send me a screencap of your receipt.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me at kpsummers514@gmail.com with any questions about products – I know safer skincare option can get overwhelming, and I’m here to help however I can. We all deserve better.


Posted in Beautycounter, Better Beauty, Clean Beauty, Self-care | Leave a comment



It’s one of those life lessons I’m constantly relearning, but never as much and in so many ways as in my first year (!) of motherhood. It applied to nursing (slow and steady progress), sleeping (even slower…and not so steady) and what I put on his skin and mine. Progress feels necessary when you have a baby chewing on your face.

The goal isn’t to live in a bubble, of course, but I’m a firm believer in making conscious choices and that when you know better, you do better. I began to dabble with “greener” products several years ago as I became aware of the fact that there is very little regulation for ingredients in our skincare, makeup and cleaning products. The federal cosmetics law hasn’t had a makeover since 1938, and unlike drugs, food and medical devices, the FDA doesn’t require cosmetic ingredients to be assessed for safety before hitting the market. The US has banned 30 ingredients from personal care products, while the European Union has banned or restricted over 1,400. Some of those are known allergens, hormone disruptors, and have links to serious long-term health issues.

You can’t unlearn these facts, but…convenience. Budget. Effectiveness. For a long time I struggled to find legit safer products (and not just ones adding “organic” or “natural” to the bottle – those words aren’t regulated either) that really worked – and didn’t cost a fortune. It was frustrating to spend more money on things that didn’t get the job done, and I’d sometimes find myself going back to certain old products. But still…progress, right?

Once I was pregnant, I committed to the swap. Even if it meant I wasn’t always thrilled with the way my makeup, shampoo or deodorant (sorry, guys) performed, it seemed like a small and very fair tradeoff. It’s important to remember that chemicals are not inherently bad – in fact, most of them are useful and very necessary. But knowing that babies are being exposed while they’re still in the womb – over 200 environmental toxins have been found in newborns’ cord blood – it was a good reminder that we should do what we can when we can. To me, that meant committing to products and companies that are equally committed to lessening our toxic load – and even more importantly, advocating for change so that, in the not too distant future, “safer” products are just everyday products anyone can find in any store.

When I discovered Beautycounter, it felt like kismet. I was thrilled to find a line of safer skincare, hair care and makeup that actually worked – and more importantly, a company with a mission to get safer products into the hands of everyone. With a “Never List” that includes more than 1,500 questionable or harmful ingredients they will never use, Beautycounter is a B Corp that works hard to meet the standards they’ve set for themselves – sustainable sourcing and rigorous testing on natural ingredients and safe chemicals to ensure that the final product is not only better for you and the planet, but performs better too.

Maybe you’re curious about making the swap, but it feels like a really big (and really expensive) undertaking. The beauty is that it truly doesn’t have to be. There’s no perfect way to do this: it’s okay to start slow and make safer swaps over time. Every time we use a product with fewer questionable ingredients, we lessen our toxic load. Every purchase is a vote with our dollar, and it sends a strong message about what we want to use and what we won’t tolerate.

I’m proud to have joined Beautycounter as a consultant, because it’s not just about Beautycounter. Or beauty, even. It’s about countering the status quo. It’s about education, and the mission to get safer products – whatever they are – into the hands of everyone – whoever they are. We all deserve better.

Posted in Beautycounter, Better Beauty, Conscious Living, Earth Friendly, Empowerment, Living Life, Motherhood, Wellness | Leave a comment

Love and laundry

Before you become a parent you think you know things.

Like, I knew there would be a lot of laundry. I thought I did a lot of laundry before, but I had no concept how much more laundry one tiny person with even tinier clothes would generate. Sometimes I feel like I spend more time in our (downstairs, shared, sigh) laundry room than I do in my bedroom. I probably do. Because you also think you know you’ll be tired. But you don’t fully understand the mind-numbing, deep in your bones exhaustion that eventually becomes your status quo until you realize that your phone is in the fridge. Or that your memory is shot. Or that you read the same email 8 times and still don’t know what it said. Or that trying to follow a conversation while your eyelids are drooping down into your lap is fruitless.
I’ve been asked many times what was the most surprising thing about becoming a mom. And I’ve considered mentioning the laundry. Or the exhaustion. But if they really want to know what the hardest, most surprising thing was for me, it was the surreal end of innocence. For a time it felt like mourning, heavy and consuming. I was grateful and in awe and, yes, I was also truly happy.

But I mourned the time before my son became an indelible part of my trajectory. When I could be selfish. Before I knew what it was like to have a love that also has the power to destroy you, in a different way than you’ve ever loved. Before I knew what it feels like to have part of my heart outside of my body. All things I may have thought I knew before…but I had no idea.

I can’t unknow those things, but it finally feels less raw. The edges have become softer. And I know I would never go back.

Posted in Motherhood, Postpartum | Leave a comment

Nurturing instinct

Ah, maternal instinct. Another aspect of motherhood we often think we should have honed the moment our newborn is in our arms.

Is there a new mom on the planet who feels fully confident in her ability to keep her baby alive in those early weeks? Between the hormonal dips and spikes, the exhaustion, and all of the conflicting advice – you must breastfeed! Don’t force yourself to breastfeed! Co-sleep! Don’t you dare fall asleep with your baby! It’s enough to make any mom question her instincts.

Couple that with depression or anxiety, and your brain becomes a minefield of shame. I remember questioning everything, not only because it was all so new, but because I was viewing it through the lens of anxiety – something that automatically tells you you’re doing it wrong. Was I blowing everything out of proportion, or would I miss something obvious because I was telling myself not to worry so much?

The one thing that helped, and that I had to tell myself over and over again, was that we were learning together. My baby was not, in fact, judging me, and I was doing it right because I was doing it out of love. Do I still question my “maternal instinct”? All. the. time. I’m learning to accept that this may just be part of being a mom. Every age, every stage goes so fast that you’re constantly having to readjust. And so we move forward, learning together.

Posted in Anxiety, Mental Health, Motherhood, Postpartum | Leave a comment

Still life: Kitchen Sink



This is my reality today, because life.

Not long ago the sight of this would have sent me into an anxious spiral – I wouldn’t have even wanted my husband to see it, much less post it on social media. Letting dirty dishes pile up in the sink, clean dishes sit in the drying rack – you know, every day reality for most people, especially with a baby – would set off a chain of internal shaming. I judged myself the way I was sure the rest of the world would judge me, because it meant I was lazy. Ungrateful.

I had an “easy baby” after all, so it shouldn’t be tough to keep up with basic housework. Especially if I wasn’t physically going to an office every day. I was home, I had it easy, and I had no reason not to do the dishes. If the kitchen was dirty, or the floors, or the doorknobs, or his baby gear wasn’t spotless it obviously meant that I was a useless person, a horrible mother, my baby was going to get sick and I could have prevented it.

To his credit, my husband tried to help. Many, many times. In my mind that made me even more of a failure and I absolutely refused. I remember staying up between late night feedings to clean the floor, my mind racing too fast to ever really “sleep when the baby sleeps.” I truly believed I didn’t deserve to have my son if I couldn’t do something as simple as keeping the house clean – while simultaneously hating that the need to be busy, to prove my worth in such ridiculous ways, dominated my thoughts and often prevented me from being present for what really mattered.

While the intensity of those thoughts have lessened some over the months, it takes a conscious effort to reframe the shame. I’m finding it a little easier to accept the effort that I put in during the day, accept that I’m doing the best I can, and acknowledge that no one is judging me as harshly as I judge myself. (Especially my son.) It’s true – my kitchen is a mess. It’s true – sometimes I am a hot mess myself. It’s still okay to let people in.

Posted in Anxiety, Living Life, Mental Health, Motherhood, Postpartum | Leave a comment

1 in 5

1 in 5 women will suffer from a maternal mental health disorder like postpartum depression.

That is a lot of women struggling in silence.

It’s Maternal Mental Health Week, and it’s so important they are heard. It’s important to realize, too, that perinatal mood disorders cover an entire spectrum. While we generally think we’re familiar with postpartum depression, what I didn’t realize – until I was in it – is that 10% of women may instead experience postpartum anxiety, and about 3-5% develop perinatal OCD symptoms. I had no idea there was a name for my intrusive and repetitive thoughts and fears, only shame. Still other women face postpartum PTSD, bipolar mood disorders, and postpartum psychosis. It’s an incredibly complex spectrum that many are too ashamed or exhausted to explore. That’s why I’m so grateful there are women who are willing to talk about it, and that there are resources to help women see that they aren’t alone. There is help without judgment. Motherhood is a major physical, mental and chemical shift. Asking for support doesn’t make you a bad mom. It makes you human.

Posted in Motherhood, Postpartum | Leave a comment

A series of small things

Van Gough

And it really is the small things.

Earth Day is a call to action, but it’s what we do every day that makes the impact.

  • Ditch the plastic (bags/bottles/excess packaging) for good.
  • Turn off the water when you brush/suds/shave.
  • Eat more meatless meals.
  • Walk instead of drive when you can.
  • Make your dollar count – buy local, support small businesses with sustainable practices, swap in beauty and cleaning products without the toxic load.

Teach your children well. There are a lot of things in this world that are out of our control, but doing our part to take care of it isn’t one of them. We can do great things. Our planet depends on us.

Posted in Clean Beauty, Conscious Living, Earth Friendly | Leave a comment

Fresh start


Screen Shot 2018-04-04 at 9.16.41 AM.png

Feeling especially grateful for a fresh start this morning (even if it does involve a fresh layer of April snow). Yesterday was one of my most challenging days yet as a parent. I know, I know – I’m not even a year in. I’ll probably look back on this and think it was cake. I am incredibly lucky that this is the worst of our concerns. I recognize that, and I also recognize that it’s all relative. I think that’s something new moms need to give themselves a break about. Every new experience, every new test, is valid. Your feelings and your fears are valid.

We took Rhys in for the recommended allergy testing and, while we did get the official confirmation via scratch test that he is currently allergic to sesame, the basic nature of food allergies also left us with a lot of unknowns and a 9-month-old who was absolutely traumatized by what now feels like excessive and unnecessary blood work. On the way home he immediately fell into an exhausted sleep, and I tried not to fall down the rabbit hole of guilt. I regret not questioning more, not stepping in more, not listening to my gut that this particular procedure didn’t feel right. My brain started going to some really dark places, but I’ve been there enough to know that wouldn’t serve any of us.

Today, I’m especially grateful for his smile and trying to trust: that he won’t remember this, and that it’s okay for me to trust my gut. It was a tough lesson in listening to that mama bear instinct and challenging the process when something doesn’t feel right. It doesn’t mean that you don’t want the best care for your baby, or that you aren’t grateful for the access, it just means that you’re honoring your instincts. They’re stronger than you might give yourself credit for.

Posted in Motherhood | Leave a comment