Simple Things: Blue-Light Blockers by The Book Club Eyewear

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure to learn more.

When I was a child, I was (subconsciously) vastly irritated by external stimuli. Jarred by sounds, I could not watching movies or television. Stymied by shyness, I preferred not to go out of my way to make friends. In an effort to be left alone, I burrowed my nose in books (quiet things) and spent much of my childhood avoiding tussling with other kids or listening to adults gossip.

At family gatherings, of which there were many, I would sneak into bedrooms to read, or otherwise take up space on the couch, refusing to relinquish my place once settled. On car rides, with typically hours long, I would pack two to three chapter books and read, staying up the entire way using a dim book light. Even at the school playground, I would sit cross-legged on the cement floor with the heaviest novels I can get my hands on. There was no time to waste falling on tanbark and chasing people to tag when there were many other worlds to travel and see. Some children may have found this habit haughty, but I didn’t care what they thought. While they found joy in rough housing, I made myself a personal book club.

A one member only book club.

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This is the Twelve Hungry Bens with the clear Chunk Chain.

Adults in my life would comment the same thing anytime they found me engrossed in a book, face inches away from the page (only the better to smell the yellowing mustiness with), eyeballs tethered to words. “You’ll ruin your eyesight if you aren’t careful.” Reasoning ranging from, “You’re reading much too close” to “The light is hardly bright enough”, landed on my ears as adults prompted me to immerse myself in society the normal way – playing with children my age. In retrospect, they had a point, not about the importance of social interaction (for books can teach you more about society than kids can) but rather about the risk of losing my vision, and I surprise even myself to say that after all these years of incessant reading, my eyesight is still registering 20/20.

This is a shocker considering that 75% of America using some sort of device for vision correction. Perhaps, it was the books that saved me.

You see, I was quite an imaginative child. Reading a book meant lifting my head every few minutes to process what I’ve just read. This would cause me to look at a point farther away from where I was sitting while my  eyes glazed over and my mind transported me to another place. Since I did most of my reading in my room or outdoors, these mini-breaks meant staring at a far-away tree, or watching a sibling across the hallway in play.

When I am engrossed in a truly gripping tale, you’ll find me scatter-brained, flipping through the pages back and forth, trying to skip parts, piecing the story together impatiently. My eyes were trained to constantly move around, not lock in on one distance or place. According to research, this is a good thing. We need  to stimulate our eyes to different focal lengths to prevent fatigue. Thanks to my spacey brain, I unknowingly protected my eyes by doing just that.

Additionally,  I spent a majority of my time away from screens. Saturday mornings didn’t mean early cartoons, because I usually stayed up too late on Friday nights trying to finish a book under the covers. I didn’t watch TV, I didn’t use computers too often (until my junior year of high school when AIM took over my life), and I didn’t play video games. I didn’t own a smart  phone until I was graduating from college. It was a hand-me-down I-phone 4 when the I-phone 6 was coming out. I didn’t take notes on a laptop like 90% of students. I hand-wrote everything, all the way through dental school at the ripe old age of 26 years old, when my classmates took photographs of Powerpoint presentation on their phones instead of write actual notes. I still had pen and paper in hand. I have had about 8 part-time jobs in my lifetime (Jamba Juice worker, Banana Republic Visuals Specialist, Dental Assistant, Math tutor, School Librarian, Dog-Sitter, Baker), none of which relied on computers, and my actual profession, dentistry, has me mostly occupied in an operatory room rather than at a desk

My only screen-time vice would be this space – my beloved blog. Quarantine has made me especially aware of the impact increased screen-time has on my vision. Stuck at home the past few months guilty of habit-scrolling and incessant COVID-update-refreshing coupled with more blog work, I’ve come to notice a slight strain on my eyes that could only indicate fatigue.

Which makes me wonder, does 75% of Americans need vision correction because of eye damage due to an increasingly digital age?

Enter The Book Club. I fell down a rabbit hole of searching for protective eye wear after I started to notice the symptoms of a stressed vision. I first heard of blue-light blockers from Dr. Hyman’s Farmacy podcast episode with Dave Asprey, who created the simile, “It’s like noise-cancelling headphones for the eyes” when describing a similar product. Both the podcast and TBC reported studies that alluded to the fact that blue light exposure has been linked to disruptive sleep patterns (melatonin regulation), headaches, dry eyes, and reduced attention span. After being in quarantine for only three weeks, I knew that I had to get some.

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When I found The Book Club, I fell in love with the Warby Parker-like chic frames that they had to offer. The price range was very affordable considering the health benefits of the product and the fact that it could save you from years of upgrading prescription glasses. If you already have prescription eyewear, not to fear for they also offer differing grades of prescription lenses. Plus, each pair comes with a fabric case to keep your new frames safe.

Lastly, and most importantly, I appreciated the eco-conscious efforts of the company. Their frames are made of 100% recyclable plastic, and their site demonstrates a fairly easy way to recycle so that it is an accessible act to all. Simply pop out the lens and remove the two screws holding the temples in place. Even the chunky chain and accessories that they produce are recyclable! Their frames are packaged in a box in the shape of a novel made from 100% recycled cardboard. The only plastic present was a small window that I assume is for marketing purposes when the product belies stockist shelves.

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After a day of use, I would vouch that there is a difference in the way screens affect my eyes. The glasses are said to block 30% of UV light and screens have a warmer hue when these glasses are in use. I wear them when I use my laptop, scroll through Instagram, or even watch Netflix or Hulu series on the projector. I try not to use them for regular activities or when I am outdoors. I also do not recommend using them when reading a regular book, as the glasses may cause more eye strain than reading without them. Since the main goal of the glasses is to reduce exposure to blue light from screen use and studies are still being done around its full effects or repercussions, I choose to wear them for only times during the day that I use screens.

Perhaps the best solution, however, is to reduce screen-time, but in a world where separation from our screens have become difficult, I am not sure how valid that noble solution may be. All I know is that I am lucky to have had the history regarding eyesight that I had. I am blessed to have a profession that does not require staring at multiple screens for eight hours a day, five days a week. And I am grateful for TBC Eyewear, who has my back when it comes to protecting my eyes.

This post is in partnership with TBC Eyewear. All content, thoughts, and opinions are my own. The mug is from East Fork Pottery in Morel. The glasses pictured are Fan of Seen Labels in Sky with a Chunky Chain and Twelve Hungry Bens in Bourbon

Less Waste: Facial Skin Care with Aesop

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure to learn more.

I’d be the first to admit that in an effort to rid our house entirely of plastic waste, I’ve been neglecting many aspects of skin care, and after a year and a half of doing so, it has started to show. In all honesty, walking down aisles of grocery stores in search of self-care products can be a bit nauseating for the environmental enthusiast. Almost every bottle promises some magical cure packaged in plastic capsules, listing a number of chemical compounds that stray far from being natural. Not a big fan of beauty products anyway, I decided it would be easier to rid my life of this added complexity by just ousting the need to buy. And while that has worked well with some aspects such as make-up routines, and substituting bars of soap and refillable aluminum bottles for daily necessities such as shampoos, conditioners, and lotions, I’ve found that when it comes to facial skin care, my skin has suffered and has started to rebel.

Admittedly, this past winter in California was the driest that we’ve had in a while. I woke up some nights with an itchy throat that needed clearing, and made a habit of having a glass of water by my bedside easily within reach. I recognized the dryness when our adopted toothless cat started to have asthma attacks in the evenings, waking us up and worrying us to death. And I couldn’t deny it any more when my facial skin started to itch, form a rash, and flake, when it has never reacted like that before.

Part of the irritation lies in the fact that I wear a dental mask every day, and the itchiness is localized around where my mask touches my skin. A visit to a dermatologist told me that it’s nothing that a good skin care routine couldn’t fix. She prescribed me a routine that required buying moisturizers, facial cleansers, sunscreens and ointments in plastic bottles, and at first I resisted. The resistance only lasted so long until my body signaled with fervor that it’s in need of some attention. Eventually, I did get her prescribed regimen, and I saw some improvement right away. My skin seemed satisfied, but I was not. I could not, in good conscience, bear to buy another round of plastic bottles filled with chemicals.

Then I remembered that when we went to Melbourne in January, we stayed at an apartment that was furnished with only amber glass bottles. I quickly started researching Aesop and was quite pleased with what I found. Packaged in those amber bottles were little doses of formulations created with meticulous attention to detail for one’s body needs. Their focus was to source plant-based ingredients mixed with lab-made ingredients that have proven record of both safety and efficacy. Headquartered in Melbourne, I was glad to learn that they had a store here in Southern California.

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Searching for something to soothe sensitive, dry skin, the knowledgable staff at the store was able to guide me towards a selection of bottles lined up on their walls, but only after offering me tea and refreshments. They then helped me sample the products and the experience was akin to being at a spa and being waited on hand and foot. They massage the oils into your hands while talking you through the best treatment methods and tips. They detail the differences in ingredients and explain why each one has a purpose. Every item smelled heavenly, and best of all, they were packaged in glass! The only plastic to be seen are the caps and lids, which is much better than the alternative options. Plus, when you take them home, they are sent home in beautiful linen bags that can be re-purposed for such things as jewelry bags and stationary tool kits.

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Off course, the price point is a little bit higher, but to be honest, not much different from the prescribed routine by my dermatologist. And you may call it a misperception due to my obvious affinity towards the brand, but I do believe it worked wonders much better then the Western medicine that was prescribed. Either way, I received these as gifts and took them home with care. Using them in my own bathroom elicited the same type of spa-quality that I experienced in store due to the fresh aroma and high tactile quality of the products. Lighted candle use, optional.

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So here’s to new facial skin care routines. Mine specifically:

This Gentle Facial Cleansing Milk  – panthenol, grape seed, sandalwood. $35 for 3.5 fl. oz.

This Parsley Seed Toner – parsley seed, lavender stem, blue chamomile. $43 for 3.4 fl. oz.

This Primrose Moisturizer – sage leaf, rosemary leaf, lavender stem. $49 for 2.1 fl. oz.

Mr. Debtist also walked away with this hand balm, for hard-working hands.

 

Intentional Living: The Practice of Hair Humility

Every two years, around this time, I chop off my hair. I have been doing this since I was in my early twenties. It’s an act against vanity, as well as a reminder to be gracious, giving, and humble.

When I was a really young girl, I was always asked the question, “What do you love most about yourself?” Not socially aware enough to say non-physical traits (I wish I was wise enough to say “my smarts!” or “my courage!”), I always answered with “My hair.” Mostly, it was socially learned. Adults would always croon over my hair, begging to braid it or comb it. They’d exclaim how long, straight, and glossy my hair looked, how well it behaved. No one ever wanted to croon over my smarts.

In middle school during my pre-teen years, I would wake up at 6 a.m. every day and curl my hair with a curling iron. I learned how to curl my hair at 12 years old. It would take me an hour or so, which wasn’t bad considering I had so much of it and I had not-so-nimble child-like hands. My hair is stick straight, so by the time I showered after school, I would have straight hair again and I couldn’t wait to re-curl my hair the next morning. Oh the joy of being young and having so much time on your hands! When I started high school, I always had my hair done up. I would check my hair during every break to make sure it still had volume, and would curse the weather (or the gods) whenever my hair fell short. I took pride in getting haircuts frequently, every month or so, and changing up my hairstyle often.

At some point, in high school, I read the book The Little Women. When I read of Jo sacrificially cutting off her long locks in order to buy medicine for ailing Mr. March, a chord struck. I started noticing advertisements of children with illnesses, adults with cancer, elderly people suffering from alopecia. I felt oddly sickened by my own behavior towards my hair, the way I prize it, revere it almost. In a way, I was made aware of my vanity, and knew that I wanted to live a different way.

So I chopped off my hair. I packaged it neatly and sent it in to Locks of Love. The first time I did this was in my late teens.

In my early twenties, I decided to start making it a habit. I would dutifully grow my hair to a long length, only to cut it again. Typically, it takes me two years, and the yearning to cut it falls somewhere around the New Year. Sometimes, I want to cut it or trim it when it’s in it’s awkward stages, but doing so slows down the re-growing process, so I resist. Sometimes, when it’s short, I want it to stay short, but I don’t allow myself the luxury. And sometimes, when it’s long and I am heading in for a haircut, a small part of me wishes I could keep it long for a while longer. But the urge doesn’t last.

Cutting my hair keeps me grounded, and it keeps me humble. Additionally, it simplifies my life. I generally know when to cut my hair, and when to grow it. When I do cut it, the options are limited. Most times, the minimum required length determines the hairstyle I receive. I usually don’t care too much about it. I try to remember that hair is just hair and it will grow back. The act of cutting my hair reminds me to care more about who I am and how I treat others than about how I look. It’s an extreme form of intentional action. I am grateful for the gift of hair, but am even more grateful that I am able gift it and let it go. It’s all just another part of creating a lifestyle by design.

Minimalist Make Up Routine

If you know me at all, you would know that I am not a make-up person. Flashbacks to nightmarish beauty pageants in the Philippines and getting poked in the eyes with liner pencils at the age of 5 probably shaped my current stance on wearing makeup. That stance being, the less make-up the better. I remember family photo shoots and birthday parties, going to beauty salons to get completely done up. I am talking foundation, eyeliner, mascara, eye shadow, blush, lipstick, the whole nine yards. Eyes burning from the mascara when I momentarily forgot that rubbing my eyes was not smart. Tasting lipstick when I licked my lips in preparation for my birthday cake. It makes you not want to eat cake. In fact, my entire face felt like cake.

Exposure to this type of make-up experience would make any teen happy to live without. I entered the make-up scene late, compared to my peers. I started wearing eye-liner in 11th grade, when I was sixteen years old. And I am talking eye-liner in the most modest sense, a wooden pencil that traced the inside of my lower lid. I wore lip gloss because it was cool, but quickly swapped it for chap stick, which was much more comfortable. I did not start wearing mascara regularly until my third year of college, around when I was 20 years old. Everyday, I wore only eye liner and mascara, with lip balm. Granted, on special occasions, I dabbled in foundation and whatever eye shadow my aunts would gift me (typically going for neutral colors over, well, colors). Please note that I have never in my life bought foundation or eye-shadow, let alone blush or that glimmery stuff that makes you look bronze? I only happen across them as people gifted them to me, probably thinking that I was in need of it. I would occasionally wear lipstick too (a few of which I’ve bought myself), and while I love the look, it usually resulted in chapped lips. By the end of the night, I would have switched back to my trusty lip balm, all thoughts of glamour discarded, put on the shelf for another night out.

On such occasions deemed special, I look at myself in the mirror and and can’t help but feel clownish, at best, and a fraud, at worst. Overall, there’s a level of discomfort associated with putting my face on, as some would do everyday. Luckily for me, I look almost exactly the same with make-up as I do without make-up. My sister has that Belle ability to transform her image whenever she applies makeup. For some people, the effects are dramatic. For myself, minimal, as with all other aspects of my life. My husband literally cannot tell the difference between when I have make-up on or when I don’t. The only time he has been able to note the difference was when I placed so much on that I myself felt like I was part of a circus. He called me alien, which was the most perfect  description I have ever heard for what it feels like to wear make-up. It doesn’t mean I refuse make-up all together. Just that my comfort zone falls between eye-liner, and maybe a dash of mascara. On days off, I feel just as comfortable going bare.

With age comes wisdom, or at least a better understanding as to what I like and what I don’t like. Right on the heels of that thought, there comes the courage to do solely what works for me. On my days off, I’ve made an effort to go without. Some would say it wouldn’t be fair for me to project this on everyone, since we’ve all got different needs, and that’s fine. I’ve had people tell me I could “get away with it” because I was lucky enough to have fairly decent skin and doe eyes and a small face, or whatever. For the record, there was a long time when I felt like it was not okay to go without. To be honest, the way I see myself is completely different from the way others see me. I consider myself having a boyish face with bulldog cheeks and a large forehead. But hearing others compliment me on certain features made me realize that we as a society are way too harsh on our own reflections. Due to societal standards and peer influences, going bare makes one wonder if everyone else sees them as the ugly duckling they think they are. I had my own share of minor freak out moments when I realized I stepped out the door without a drop of make-up on me. It takes a lot to let it go. Even now, there are certain times when I feel uncomfortable going somewhere without at least a dash of eyeliner, work being the most common example, but also get-togethers and parties. We must all remember that this is nothing but a social construct, ingrained in our cultures way back when indigenous people painted themselves with all sorts of berry juice and seed mulch. Once I strengthened my resolve and embraced that fact, I’ve found the courage to step through that door, head held high. I’d like to think that the cliche of a genuine smile is enough to carry me through the day.  I recently went through my make-up collection, mostly consisting of expired goods that I hardly touched, and got rid of everything that I did not use. I came across the following items to purge:

2 foundations, 2 blush, 3 lipsticks, 4 eye-shadow palettes, 2 bronzers, and 2 primers.

While I don’t know how to properly apply half of that stuff, I do know how useless they’ve been sitting in my drawer for an embarrassing number of years, waiting for those just-in-case occasions that never came. The only make up that I kept are:

1 eyebrow pencil, 1 eyeliner, 1 mascara, 1 lipstick, and lip balms Galore, which may or may not count.

Related to my issue with the lack of benefits of make-up products are the cringe-worthy moments when I see that a majority of these make-up products are packaged in plastic. Single-use plastic containers, and always sold in small packaging, which further increases plastic waste. Arguably the make-up industry has a far ways to go to improve their packaging of cosmetic goods. Even after much research, I have found it difficult to find alternative products that I am actually satisfied with. Luckily, with my minimal stash of cosmetics, I am already diminishing my effects on the environment. However, the whole thing still leaves much to be desired.

Here are a few essentials that are environmentally friendly (-er). It would be ideal to have products that are cruelty-free, produced with all natural ingredients, and come in recyclable packaging. These are not perfect, but we try.

What I Already Have

  1. Chanel Crayon Sourcils Sculpting Eye Brow Pencil – Only to be worn when I roll out of bed feeling a bit more sophisticated, or diva. Maybe once every week. I still have the same pencil that I bought two years ago, and there’s enough to last another half a year perhaps. I prefer this over eyebrow pencils in plastic containers. Just a traditional pencil that could be sharpened the good old way. Yes, the bristly end could be improved. In all honesty, it could be discarded all together.
  2. Chanel Le Crayon Kohl Intense Eye Pencil – Eyeliner is the one thing I am picky about because it’s the one thing I wear pretty much on the daily, and not all eye-liners are created equal. Due to minimal use, it can also last me close to a full year, which makes my decisions even more important. Just like the eyebrow pencil, I traded in my favorite eyeliners packaged in plastic tubes for a plain old pencil. It took me a long time to find what I liked, with the first few (cheaper) pencils that I’ve tried feeling similar to sharpened colored pencils that poked at my eyes. This is soft enough to easily apply and does not irritate my lids. It shares a sharpener with its friend, the eyebrow pencil.

What I Want

  1. Meow Meow Tweet Vegan Lip Balm – Lip Balm is a standard item in my purse or pocket. Packaged in a 1oz compostable paper tube instead of plastic cartridges, these address that plastic issue. They are made of pure organic essential oils and comes in three scents, Coconut Cacao, Sweet Orange Tangerine, and my preferred scent, Rosemary Eucalyptus.
  2. Vapour Organic Beauty Siren Lipstick – A natural, non-toxic, cruelty free lipstick that could be used for those rare special occasions. Even rarer for this product is the 100% recyclable outer packaging.

Unfortunately, mascara is the item in my collection that I can’t find a non-plastic solution to. And yes, Chanel has not actually released whether or not they test their products cruelty free, so I feel short of satisfied using their products, but for now, it’s what I’ve got. For those wondering about my beauty clean-up routine at night, bar soap and water is all I use. Zero waste for the win!

Anyone out there want to share their ethical and waste free go-to beauty products? Please do.

For those who have much left to be desired with this post, check out the following for your other make-up routine needs. Unfortunately, I can’t give much advice on how to use them.

+To Create The Foundation

+A Refillable Blush

+A Face Mask

+This Face Oil

+Protection Against the Sun

+Reusable Cosmetic Poufs

+Facial Cleanser

+Facial Cloths

+This  article for more.