4 lbs of laughter. That’s what I brought home from my annual week-long girls trip.

Really, it was 4 lbs of fat but hey, tomato/tomatoe, what’s in a word?

Truth is, I spent the entire week non-stop laughing with six of the most amazing industry friends. We meet every year. Same time, same location.

What started off as a business mastermind group of business owners three years ago has morphed into a lifeline in this Twilight Zone reality we find ourselves in.

When I was younger, the thought of a friend vacation (defined as being with like-minded individuals who share common interests and goals, sitting on a couch just talking) would have had me saying “thanks-but-no-thanks!”

I would have rather seen the sights, eat at a trendy restaurant, or go shopping in a foreign land. All of which I did as a young woman.

But…none of those vacations will ever compare to the joy and acceptance of being real with a tribe you resonate with.

There is something to be said for not being so familiar with each other, not knowing every detail of each other’s lives that allows us to be 100% truthful with each other. Well, at least 99%.

In this day and age of having to be aware of other people’s  truth, feelings and being pc with cultural land mines, the very act of being able to say what you want without fear of judgement, is as refreshing as a cold cocktail on a tropical beach.

We laughed at ourselves and each other and in five days, it felt like a pile of bricks was lifted. The bricks of current events, expectations and the seemingly unending supply of depressing news headlines.

When was the last time you laughed so hard it felt like your face was falling off?

Let me tell you, it was the same feeling you get riding a motorcycle without a helmet …pure freedom.

And the endorphins it produces are like rain in a drought. You don’t know how much you need it until you have it.

I made a declaration while I was there to these six women: You have my permission to speak freely to me, even if you think it will hurt my feelings.

There was a time not so long ago, when you didn’t have to explicitly say that to a friend, when you could speak openly, but not so much these days.

Today it seems like the world only wants to be told what they want to hear because a sweet lie tastes better than the bitter truth. 

Those sweet lies run rampant in my little neck of the woods, the beauty industry.

Maybe I believed those lies when I entered the beauty industry at the ripe old age of seventeen, but as a grown woman of fifty-four, I know better now.

Take aging for instance.

How you age is determined by these factors:

Genetics, diet, stress, hormones, exposure to toxins (which are found in processed foods, water, personal care products, cleaning products, and the air we breathe), physical activity level and your belief system.

By the way – the three things that you probably thought were healthy are actually among the most toxic to your health; chemical sunscreens, laundry detergents and water (both what you drink and bathe in).

So when any beauty company says you can turn back time simply by using a product, it’s a sweet lie. Can it make your skin look better than it currently does? Yes, but unless you are addressing the other factors, it can only do so much.

Here are my best summer skin recommendations for you:

Find someone to laugh with, to be real with (in person). Practice radical truth with yourself and others. Let go of any dogma or per-conceived ideas. The stress of wearing a social mask, keeping up appearances and going with the flow takes a toll on your health (and your sanity!).

Fun fact: 10+ years ago, I met a sage woman Paige Clarke. She was a holistic practitioner in Dunedin Florida. She told me I needed to get sun exposure for health benefits.

She might as well of told me to jump of the Brooklyn Bridge because I had been faithfully avoiding the sun since 1985. Much of my ideology about that was taught to me by the big cosmetics companies I had worked for.

I wasn’t ready to hear it then, but when the student is ready, the teacher appears.

Last year, I joined a private coaching group by a naturopathic doctor, Jeremy Ayres and the biggest part of his program is about why getting sun is so important. This time however, I was open to the information and started following the recommendations.