Keeping The “I” In ValentIne’s; Self Love, Going Beyond The Chocolate


As we enter the dimension of Valentine’s Day and the frenzy of gift giving and proclamations of love, we at O&N Collective can’t help but start first at the notion and awareness of self-love.  We asked O&N Collective VP, NYC Yoga Teacher, LivWell Editor and friend, Michelle Barge, to talk about self love and how her daily beauty and wellness regime equates to just that. ~ Love to you beautiful ones, Organic Contessa

Living in New York City, there are very few things I can control when I leave my home.  Subway delays, traffic, and high energy at all times – it’s easy to get down on yourself or feel sluggish due to the stress levels.  Even though NYC is an exhilarating place to be, sometimes we let our needs fall short, so before I step out of my apartment – self-love has begun!

Though it may sound cliché, it is so true when you don’t take care of yourself or love yourself, loving or caring fully for anyone else is near impossible.  When I take care of myself, I feel so much better that the love flows.

I run around a lot, but spend almost equal time working from home, so my first act of self-love begins when I wake up.  You will never catch me working from home in sweats and not pulled together.  This affirmation is in no way connected to vanity; it is about routine and feeling good. I also want to feel that I can run to a meeting at a moment’s notice, so I get up and get going.  I just feel more productive.

I also play a little game with myself that I call the organic point system.  I see how many products I can use that stay within the natural and organic space from skincare to food.  By the end of the day it’s cool to see how I did, and makes me mindful of what I’m using.  I usually gain a point when I have a coffee on the run, (however, always keep my bkr water bottle on hand to stay hydrated) but there are many days when I’ve scored a zero thus having a super clean day.

Part of self-loving for me is making the mundane or everyday activity ritualistic, a word I love because it represents time, care and ATTENTION. I’d love to say I wake up and juice (I’ll do that at some other point in the day) but I am a coffee person –coffee has its own ritual.  I know coffee’s hazards too, but I have one good cup, two max, and use organic and low acidic coffee beans.  I grind the beans each morning and use a French press or on the weekends the Chemex coffeemaker from Kaufmann Mercantile.  I love that store!   I then am pretty light in the morning food wise.  I love yogurt.  I start with Noosa Yogurt and maybe a little fruit or spelt bread and almond butter.  I keep it light, as I could be heading off to teach, a lunch meeting, or sitting quietly doing my marketing job.  I need to stay nimble.

The greatest gift of love and respect for myself is meditating each morning.  Taking time to be with one’s self, whether that be for a moment or 15 is an integral part of building self-love. So, after eating, I light a candle, I love the mōksa organics lavender and mint one. This simple, but dedicated act makes such a difference, and I feel good about myself immediately after.

I’ve always felt using certain products made the beautifying process so uplifting. Wellness is my thing, and how we can achieve this mindset through even our most basic everyday tasks.  Thankfully working with O&N Collective, I have access to great products, so it’s exciting to start and end the day with brands that I know are making a difference for my skin, my health and the world.

I wouldn’t say I’m fanatical about my skin but I will do what I can to keep the years from showing up too harshly. I like to say I’m pro-aging versus anti-aging! (Self-love there…)  I do use a Clarisonic once or twice a week, especially living in NYC!  The beauty of this tool is that reduce the need for extra products – a scrub or an exfoliant.  As far as cleansers go however, I currently rotate between a few; the Blissoma mild cleanser you just can’t beat and Tata Harper refreshing cleanser when I need a little aromatherapeutic boost.  I always use some sort of toner or hydrosol because I use serums and oils before any moisturizer.  I’ve been a long advocate of oils on the face and body.  I use Kahina Giving Beauty toner  and serum.  I tend to use Kahina’s night cream for day and night.  Talk about self-love!  It’s pricey but WORTH it. In the a.m. it makes my skin really taut and healthy looking, and at night, I just feel like I’m totally pampering my skin after a long day.

Like everyone there are days when you just feel run down and could succumb to a huge pizza and mindless TV watching, but I usually feel guilty after those episodes.  What I do instead, when I can think of nothing else to do to turn life around, is an Epsom salt bath with a few drops of essential oils mixed in. I’ve been working a lot with grapefruit essential oil for its detoxing and uplifting qualities.  I’ll also mix yogurt and honey together and make a mask. Once I have fully submitted to a relaxed mind and body, I retreat to my bed.  Sleep is so important and is the greatest gift you can give yourself. New Yorkers thrive on running hard and long, and fast. That demand will age you, so I sleep now.

Although I do take time to cultivate beauty from within first, I do think beautiful makeup that enhances you is also so important.  I love when people think I’m not wearing any.  But I always do!  All my makeup is devised to help me look pulled together and produce a healthy glow.  I LIVE in products from the organic and all natural line RMS Beauty, which I get at ABC Carpet in NYC.  I just feel so good wearing it.  Before applying any makeup however, I always start off with a really moisturized face.  I was never a “matte” girl, even more so now as I get older. I just want SKIN to show through.

Healthy skin cannot be achieved by using great products alone. I perform a lymphatic drainage massage each day using my moisturizer. When choosing a moisturizer I look to an Organic Contessa favorite, makeup artist, Beverly Fink. She has so many helpful tips and loves prepping skin with the Kahina’s night cream I mentioned earlier.  Its versatility shows it as more of a cream, with no time of day needed to designate its use!

Another tip from Beverly that has greatly helped my under eye area is 100% Pure Organic Coffee Bean Eye Cream. If I have to teach really early and then have a long day, preventing puffy eyes is a priority. This cream works like a charm and I can do my makeup in five minutes. Saving time is helpful for anyone on the go like me, so Suntegrity 5-in-1 BB Cream, also a Beverly must, is EVERYTHING your skin needs in one tube.  It works great as a base and to have on the go for touch ups and sun protection.

Another highlight of this cream is its availability in shades dark enough for mixed races and people of color. Most people of color tend to stay away from suncreens because of the ashy or white mask effect.  Not this product.  Once I let my sunscreen sink in I use Vapour Atmosphere Luminous Foundation in 130 only as a concealer or where needed.  Then I follow with RMS Buriti Bronzer everywhere.  It just brightens the face.  Then Bloom on the lip and cheek.  Mascara I use RMS, too!  And then I need a brow.  I’ve been using a Shiseido brow compact for years.  It is not organic but that’s ok! When this runs out I will have to troll on eBay.  If I’m going out to dinner or a party, for the extra punch I wear Ilia Deep Arabian Knights– the perfect burgundy – and Kjaer Weis’ Radiance.  In those two products, I feel like a million bucks!  Now who wouldn’t love someone who feels like a million bucks!


Finally, I cannot leave out my beloved yoga teaching and practice, as I feel love when I’m teaching for myself and my students, and amazing self love when I’m on the mat practicing.  The discipline and repetition reminds one to be mindful, which, to me, is love personified, and makes me so in love with my body’s capabilities. Through ritual, whether that be in how I brew my coffee, curl my lashes or open my eyes from a moment of meditation, I give to, and honor myself, and in doing so encourage self love, which awakens a glow no heart box of chocolates will ever achieve.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

With Love, Beauty & Wellness ~ Michelle Barge

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