Saturday, May 28, 2016


By Dominick Hiddo

So this picture was taken first thing in the morning. All my soft and subtle blemishes. The lines in my face: in the corners of my mouth and the ever so light one in my forehead. The super light, bump-bity bumps canvasing my face that are reminiscent of goosebumps you get when the room is chilly.  All my freckles, moles, and birthmarks. And unfortunately, there's that slight darkness under my eyes from living in this crazy world. It's all here. No photo filters or special applications used here to make me look a certain way. Nope. Nothing at all. I just washed my face with a little warm water to wipe the gunk out of my face so you wouldn't think I was a crazy person. And I have to say, at this moment in time I'm the happiest I've ever been with my skin. In my early teens through high school, I was plagued with pimples and acne all the time. Even as I made my way into my early to mid-twenties, acne and pimples would never leave me alone. Then, there was more drama: cracks in my face, clogged pores in my nose and in my skin. And to top it all off, my greatest fear of all came to the surface. I saw a gray hair.

One morning back when I was 25 years old I made a routine trip to the bathroom: to shave of course. I had a look at my chin. And then a shockingly even deeper look at my chin. And there it was. The White Lotus, Pai Mei in the flesh. The shiny silver one itself protruding through my skin to say hello. Yes, a gray hair. At 25? I nearly died. It was at that very moment I made a decision. And that one decision led me to make several other decisions over the course of a couple years that would affect my life from then until now. I decided that I didn't want to put things on my skin that didn't agree with me. I decided that I didn't want to put anything inside of my body that would weaken me. I decided that I didn't want to be around any uncomfortable situations and environments, neither did I want to be a part of any lifestyle that would add to my already accumulating stresses from the world. It is known that stress is the leading cause and main reason why our body tends to experience challenges, both internally and externally. And in this particular case, it's probably why the skin on my face was pretty much going to shit. It was a very hard time for me. So I then decided that I would take the health of my skin way more serious for years to come. I wanted to look good. I wanted to feel good. And I didn't' want to be 25 looking like I was 45. So here's where I placed focused.

The Rejuvenation Phase
Around the time I discovered that gray hair in my chin, I began meeting people that believed in the idea that what we "consume and eat" on a daily basis has an immediate impact on our lives. And it made complete sense to me. I was raised in a family that believed heavily in the power of herbal remedies, extracts, and special concoctions (or as they say in Jamaica, "bush"). The purpose of "di bush" was to keep the body in balance and heal any sort of ailments and maladies. So being that I was surrounded around this way of life all throughout my childhood, hearing people in today's world talk about food and products affecting our body and mind all just clicked for me. So naturally, I began to embrace it. I became very interested in the power of green juice. And not green juice mixed will all sorts of sweeteners and powdered supplements. I mean the real deal, dirty greens. The good shit: mustard greens, collard greens, rainbow chard, spinach, kale, dandelion leaf, parsley, celery, sea algae (like E3 LIVE). Yea, bitter stuff: UGH. Not at all fun to drink but amazingly powerful and therapeutic for the body. I was on a green juice kick that consisted of a mix of these greens for months on in. And I combined that with a vegan diet. Not easy by any means. I just wanted feel better and get that damn gray hair away from my entire being (for now at least). And, guess what? You'll never guess what happened. Is it way too cliché to say that the gray hair vanished? Yes, tis' true. Away it went. And never to be seen again. Somehow, my body either magically "got rid of it", or rejuvenated itself with the help of the intense diet shift. It was at that very moment when I realized that the gray hair was no more, that I figured out that there must be a strong connection between eating healthy while drinking greens, and maintaining a well groomed, healthy appearance. I was ready to face the world again.

Feeding My Face
Yes indeed.  Your face eats too. And as important as it may be to eat the right foods with your mouth, you also have to "eat the right foods" with your skin. Food can take many forms. The foods that we consume with our mouths (for the purposes of this discussion) are designed to help the skin reach a healthier and firmer state. But to give it that relatively luminous and brilliant look of health, we need products. Not the crappy stuff that has all sorts of destructive alcohols, unnatural agents, and chemical mixes that you can't even pronounce. That stuff will perpetually keep your skin dry, cracked, and aged looking. We don't want that. What we do want are products that will keep the skin properly nourished and free of impurities. So as you can imagine based on my past experiences of skin sensitivities, this hasn't been easy for me. But I hunted near and far to find the right mix of products that work for me. And I found them.

Aura Cacia Avocado Oil
In addition to the fact that I probably eat about 1-2 avocados a day, I also use the oil externally on a daily basis. Avocado is a superfood. There are a slew of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that are essential for our bodily systems, as well as for our skin (click to learn more). This oil keeps my skin smooth, silky, and firm. I've been using it for the last 7 years, and it's really helped me. I use it on my body, in my hair, and in small doses on my face. I use it in small doses because my skin in particular has a natural tendency to be oily. I don't need more than a dime size of it every day. Maybe someone with a drier or a coarser skin quality might want to use a bit more than I would use. This superfood is amazing and it's really helped me with maintaining that luminous feel in my face. Wash your face with a gentle soap, dry it leaving a little moisture, then add your avocado oil. Your face will love you.

Shea'wa Natural Soap
I have found that based on using a wide variety of soaps (bars and liquids), many soaps will dry out your skin and wash out the natural oils that our bodies produce. And unfortunately, it could leave the skin on your face dry and cracked. Many soaps tend to have chemical compounds that not only dry our skin, but also ages it over time: it sucks, I know. But, I have found that using soaps that contain more natural ingredients are better for my skin in the long run. Over the last 7 years or so, I have found that soaps containing natural ingredients like oatmeal, rose, shea butter, honey, and olive oil are super beneficial to the health and longevity of our skin. A few years ago, I came across Shea'wa soaps. And, these soaps do just that. In addition to other facial cleansers and lotions, I find these soaps to be the best for my skin with regard to retaining a balanced amount of moisture in my skin. Also, these soaps help in keeping my skin soft, smooth, and firm. Believe it or not, our skin is so sensitive. And everyone's skin reacts very differently to any variety of products. But one thing is for sure, natural soaps like those from Shea'wa are bound to help with the skin's health and longevity in the years to come. Of course if you are allergic to a particular ingredient--natural or not--you should never use it. But do try using natural soaps. They've helped me so much.

Santa Maria Novella's Rose Water
God bless the Italians and their amazingly tanned, soft and silky skin. Sometimes I feel like they just wake up like that. But after spending last summer there (Florence in particular), I realized that there is a deeply rooted spiritual power in their beliefs of health, wellness, and longevity.  Back in the 13th century, Dominican Friars began experimenting and studying herbs, balms, and ointments in the garden of the monastery of Santa Maria Novella. These were mainly used to keep friars and other members of the community in good health. Eventually, these well mastered treatments and concoctions were shared with the public at large turning it into a widely visited apothecary. In this apothecary today, you may find everything from lotions and oils to body milks to soaps and shampoos, and of course their ever so popular Aqua Di Rose (rose water). This is what I use. And let me tell you, nothing keeps your skin tighter and firmer than a few splashes of this powerful rose water. It's alcohol free, so it's gentle on the skin. And I usually put it on before bed or before I put any sort of oils or creams on my face. I never use a lot. I usually put a few dabs on a cotton ball: or I simply take a small handful and splash my face with it. It removes any sort of dirt and oil from the skin. It also helps clear my pores in general. And fear not, you don't have to go all the way to Italy to rejuvenate and revitalize your skin. The Officina Profumo Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella has a location here in my stomping grounds. New York, New York.

And, that's how I keep my skin tight. It's what works for me at this phase of my life. Now that could change in the years to come. But until further notice, this is how I rock. So whether you use these exact products or their varieties, find the best mix for you and your skin.

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