Beautiful Voices: Sharon Shiner

Beautiful Voices is our ongoing blog series that highlights inspiring, empowering women. Our most recent Beautiful Voice is Sharon Shiner. See what she says when Annmarie asks her some questions about her own personal beauty.

sharon shiner

My name is Sharon and I’m a divorced mom of 2 (a tween and a teen). I’m a fitness professional, a nutrition coach/personal chef and a doTerra wellness advocate. Through food, fitness and essential oils, I try my best to improve my client’s lives, as well as my own. My home base is Boston 🙂 You can find more information about Sharon’s nutrition coaching here

What was your biggest challenge and how did you overcome it?

The biggest challenge I’ve faced is raising and parenting a child with special needs. My son Max, now almost 14, was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome at age 6. Parenting Max was extremely challenging; because everyday brought new challenges, I had to have plan A, B, C, D etc to ensure that I could be equipped to handle anything that might come up. I was able to keep my sanity with exercise; I’m a fitness professional and I began lifting weights. As I became physically strong, I became mentally strong as well, and it powered me to handle any situation. Max is doing fantastic today, and I continue to lift weights to keep myself both physically and mentally strong.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve received?

The best piece of advice is actually a saying a friend told me, as I was leaving a career in corporate America and starting my own personal chef business. It was said by Anais Nin: “Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage”. This quote basically became my mantra, and I would repeat it to myself all the time. I even printed it out and put it above my desk to remind myself that I’m strong and that I can achieve anything I set my mind to.

What are your words of wisdom to other beauties out there?

Keep going. Even when things may not seem like they are going to get better, keep going. I’ve been at low places before and have climbed back up. There’s always a solution, so seek it out. Lean on friends and family, ask for help.

Where and when do you feel most at peace?

The gym, lifting weights is where I feel most at peace. The empowerment I get from lifting a heavy weight up off the floor, or over my head, and back down to the floor is unmatchable. It makes me feel totally calm, and that everything can be taken care of. For me, there’s nothing like it.

What do you do when you want to pamper yourself?

My go to for pampering is a pedicure – I love getting them!!! However lately, just dropping some essential oils into a diffuser, setting a hot bath with epsom salts and oils and soaking for a bit is the best pampering.

What is your favorite beauty secret or tip?

Annmarie’s Coconut Body Oil!!! I put it on head to toe every day! I am convinced it is what keeps my skin looking so young.

Isn’t she beautiful?

Much Love,

Annmarie Gianni
“Teaching People About Beauty From the Inside Out”
(If you’re interested in being featured as one of our Beautiful Voices, please email us at

The following blog post Beautiful Voices: Sharon Shiner was originally published to: Annmarie Skin Care

3 New Ingredients You Should Get to Know

ingredients apple extract


We have been in full swing production mode for almost two years with our Wild Fruit Serum – Brightening Facial Complex so you can imagine how excited we are to announce it this week. Everything from choosing the ingredients to coming up with the perfect label design to making sure it smells good (that was our favorite part!)

We’re using some new ingredients that we’ve never had in our products before and we wanted to tell you a bit about them because we think they are top-notch ingredients!

Kakadu Plum

We have a fun time with this one because saying it makes us giggle. The kakadu plum (said like cockadoo), or Terminalia ferdinandiana (way less fun, we know), is a flowering tree native to Australia. It grows like a weed in the subtropical woodlands and is total bushwacker food – eat it right off the vine!

It has a grey, flaky bark and big pale green leaves with small white flowers that form on spikes toward the ends of the branches. The plums are small, almond shaped and yellow when they’re ripe. They are pretty sour, but they grow sweeter as they ripen.

Kakadu plums are usually eaten raw, but because they’re so common where they grow, the locals found ways to use them in everything from jam to juice to medicine.

Out of this world vitamin C – Okay, maybe not out of this world, but definitely the highest vitamin C content ever recorded. The kakadu plum is 3.5-5.5% vitamin C, compare that with orange or grapefruit that come in around .5% at their highest, we’re super impressed. We’ve written at length about how vitamin C is a wonder-ingredient for your skin before and we’re really excited to be able to use this ingredient!

The antioxidant game is on point – The research is preliminary but with antioxidants like gallic acid, ellagic acid, chlorophyll, lutein, and vitamin E, it is super promising. Antioxidants like these compete with the environmental pollutants that cause oxidative stress, a major source of aging.

Everyone wants to soothe dry skin, right? Because kakadu plum soothes the feeling of dry and temporarily uncomfortable skin too! While this isn’t the only thing that gives this fruit the ability to reduce the appearance of redness, an important constituent to mention here is the glucoside quercetin, which is well-known for its soothing properties and absorbability. Quercetin scavenges for free radicals that can incite flare up responses in the body internally and environmentally. This is helpful for taming redness and helping with irritation caused by pollutants.

Oh yeah, the mineral content – Kakadu plum is high in magnesium, zinc, copper, calcium, potassium and a whole slew of other essential minerals that keep your body healthy and your skin radiant.

Apple Extract

Another one of our new ingredients is the apple extract! It’s not exactly a wild fruit, but it’s being used in a big way in the skincare world and there are tons of reasons why.

They help with oxidative stress – In other words, aging. Not only are apples rich in nutrients like vitamins A and E, they also have a high concentration of flavonoids that are commonly used for their anti-aging effects. In fact, according to a 2004 study, apples contain a variety of phytochemicals, including quercetin, catechin, phloridzin, and chlorogenic acid, all of which act as powerful antioxidants.

Exfoliate naturally – Apples contain natural alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) that help to gently exfoliate your skin. Called “fruit acids,” these ingredients help break up those tough bonds that hold dead skin cells to the surface, so that you can wash them away when cleansing. Your skin will glow, appearing brighter and smoother.

Diminishes pores – The apple acts as a natural astringent, which means it helps to shrink the appearance of pores.

Balances vital oils – the AHAs and natural tightening properties are great for helping to balance the oils in the skin, which is absolutely lovely for those of us that suffer from clogged pores.

Japanese Knotweed

Do a google search for Japanese knotweed and you’ll find words like “killing,” “invasive,” “dreaded,” “nightmare,”—the list goes on.

This is one of those plants that can take over a garden and become a scourge for homeowners. An Asian native, Fallopia japonica, is listed by the World Conservation Union as one of the world’s most invasive species. The root system is so strong that it can damage roads, retaining walls, and concrete foundations as the plant forms thick, dense colonies that crowd out other plants. It has hollow stems, oval leaves, and small cream or white flowers.

Lucky for us, we’re not concerned about how it looks or grows. We’re actually glad that it grows in such abundance because this plant may actually be really good for you—both internally and externally. You can eat the young shoots, which are said to taste like rhubarb raw or cooked (though most people cook them and some say they are great in pie) and the stems can also be sliced and steamed or simmered in soups.

The roots (rhizomes) have also been used in traditional medicine to treat many different ailments. Because of its healthy components, the plant is also being embraced by alternative health practitioners today.

Here’s how this invasive weed can make your skin much more beautiful!

Helps give skin an ageless appearance – Knotweed is a great source of resveratrol. You may have heard of this ingredient in relation to red wine and grape juice but knotweed is known to be an even more potent source of resveratrol! One of resveratrol’s known benefits is that it visibly plumps the look of skin. It helps to fight off the effects of gravity and prolongs a more youthful appearance.

Natural skin protector – Resveratrol’s high antioxidant activity will naturally protect your skin from both collagen breakdown as well as environmental factors.

Improves the appearance of skin tone – Resveratrol, the apparent miracle ingredient, will not only re-energize the look of your skin, but it will also clarify and balance your skin’s tone, leaving it luminous and glowing.

Alleviates temporary redness or discomfort – Knotweed soothes the feeling of temporary flare ups and can lessen the appearance of redness.

Have you used any of these natural ingredients? Let us know in the comments below!


NCBI – Apple phytochemicals and their health benefits

Taste of Australia – Kakadu Plum

NCBI – The chemotherapeutic potential of Terminalia ferdinandiana: Phytochemistry and bioactivity

NCBI – Potential antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and proapoptotic anticancer activities of Kakadu plum and Illawarra plum polyphenolic fractions.

Journal of Young Investigators – A Review of Quercetin: Chemistry, Antioxidant Properties, and Bioavailability

NCBI – Apple phytochemicals and their health benefits

The article 3 New Ingredients You Should Get to Know was originally seen on: Annmarie Skin Care

6 Skin Benefits from Hemp Seed Oil

hemp seed

Hemp seed oil has a bit of a cult following. As an incredibly nourishing oil for skin on many levels, it plumps the skin, improving the appearance of elasticity and provides powerful antioxidant activity to help promote beautiful skin.

But this oil’s benefits don’t stop there. People with oily skin and clogged pores swear by it because it’s moisturizing without adding to the problem. Those with sensitive skin love how gentle it is—widely tolerated by all skin types—and some even use it in their hair, because it’s so naturally conditioning.

If you’re looking for a new oil that can do all these things and more, look into hemp seed oil.

What Is Hemp Seed Oil?

Hemp seed oil comes from the seeds of the hemp plant, which is a variety of the Cannabis sativa plant species. You’ve probably heard of Cannabis as it relates to marijuana, but the species used to make the drug contains higher levels of the component “tetrahydrocannabinol (THC),” which is the component that contains psychoactive properties.

Regular hemp, however, has much lower concentrations of THC, and higher concentrations of “cannabidiol (CBD),” which actually reduces or eliminates the psychoactive effects. In fact, the standard hemp plant has been used for centuries to make rope, clothes, food, paper, plastics, insulation, textiles, and more, while the seeds were eaten raw or ground into a meal.

In addition, the hemp seeds don’t contain THC.

Cold pressed hemp seed oil is dark to light green with a nutty flavor. The refined oil is clear with little flavor, and also contains fewer skin-nourishing qualities. As with all oils, the cold pressed is the most healthful.

How Does Hemp Seed Oil Benefit the Skin?

As we mentioned, Hemp Seed Oil is full of elements that essentially act as food for your skin, leaving it nourished and healthy. Here’s what that means as far as the look and feel of skin:

  • Plumps tired, dry skin: Rejuvenates the skin, creating a more youthful glow.
  • Provides-long lasting moisture: If your skin gets dry halfway through the day, you may want to try this oil, since continued use over time will help your skin’s ability to retain moisture.
  • Balance Oily Skin: Because hemp seed oil doesn’t clog pores, it’s often thought to be the ideal moisturizer for skin that has suffered from these issues.
  • Skin calming: If you could use some relief from the feeling of skin irritation, this may be the oil for you. Hemp seed oil is naturally calming and the moisture it provides combats temporary discomfort.
  • Reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles: Hemp seed oil can protect against different environmental factors and can help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
  • Suitable for all skin types: What do you do if your skin is just struggling? Maybe you have clogged pores or dryness all at once. Hemp seed oil is calming and soothing while providing just the right amount of moisture.

Have you used hemp seed oil? Let us know in the comments below!


PubMed – Efficacy of dietary hempseed oil in patients with atopic dermatitis.

6 Skin Benefits from Hemp Seed Oil is available on:

10 Amazing Reasons Dark Chocolate is Good for You

dark chocolate

Here in the office at Annmarie Gianni Skin Care, we all love dark chocolate. It’s pretty normal to find at least one of us sharing a bit of it for an afternoon snack.

Thing is, we know that we can indulge once and awhile because we get the good stuff—the kind that has 70 percent or more real cacao. When you eat a little of that, you might as well be eating kale or berries or something, because of how many healthy antioxidants it has.

We thought it would be fun to share with you some of the health benefits of dark chocolate. When we started digging, even we were a bit surprised by how many there were—and how diverse. We’re not just talking about antioxidants.

In fact, now we know why we crave the stuff on stressful days. Read on to find out why you may want to stash a bit in your desk as well!

What Kind of Chocolate Are We Talking About?

First, let’s be sure that you get the right kind.

After the studies came out showing that dark chocolate was actually good for you, a lot of companies stepped up their marketing to try to win customers over. Suddenly everyone, including all the brand names you’re familiar with, had dark chocolate.

The problem is, a lot of them didn’t (and still don’t) have much of the quality stuff. Check the ingredient labels and you’ll see frighteningly low percentages. What you want is the kind that has 70 percent or more of real cacao.

Think milk chocolate will do the trick? Sorry. It just doesn’t have the same benefits. Dark chocolate contains about two to three times the amount of cacao as milk chocolate, and has healthier fatty acids.

You’ll also get less sugar when you eat dark chocolate, which is important because you don’t want something that’s just going to make you crave more sugar.

To find the quality dark chocolate, follow these tips:

  • 70% Or More Cacao: Cacao beans are harvested from the cacao plant—as opposed to “cocoa,” which is the powder made from roasted, husked, and ground cacao seeds.
  • Avoid Alkalinization: If you see this word in the ingredient list, stay away. This process strips the chocolate of its healthy flavonols.
  • Few Ingredients: You want a bar that has only 3-4 ingredients—things like cacao beans, sugar, cocoa butter, and a flavoring that is natural. If there are more than that, the company most likely used cheaper ingredients in their manufacturing processes.
  • Other Ingredients to Avoid: Cocoa butter equivalents (CBE), hydrogenated oils, and vegetable oils.

Buying a quality product with quality ingredients will likely cost you a little more, but you get what you pay for. Your health is worth it!

You’ll find a lot of products that fit these criteria. When you do, just go with what tastes best. Once you’ve tried it, we doubt you’ll want to go back to the other stuff!

10 Ways Dark Chocolate Benefits Your Health

1. Reduces Risk of Heart Disease

Want to snack on something good for your heart? Dark chocolate is the answer!

Several studies over the past several years have shown that dark chocolate is good for your heart. In 2007, for example, researchers showed that it increased the diameter of coronary arteries, improving blood flow.

A 2009 study found it benefitted blood pressure, insulin resistance, and blood lipids, indicating that it may also help prevent type 2 diabetes.

2. May Lower Cholesterol Levels

High cholesterol levels can be dangerous, as all that cholesterol in the blood has a tendency to gather in the arteries, harden, and gradually narrow the arteries and increase risk of blood clots.

Dark chocolate may help to reduce your chances of experiencing this. A 2012 study found that participants eating 50 grams of dark chocolate for 15 days had lower levels of LDL “bad” cholesterol and higher levels of HDL “good” cholesterol.

3. Provides a Powerful Antioxidant Punch

Real dark chocolate is a good source of some of the same disease-fighting antioxidants found in tea, red wine, and apples. These special nutrients help protect cells from damaging free radicals, which can cause premature aging and increase risk of things like heart disease and cancer.

In fact, dark chocolate rivals many other so-called “superfoods” in its antioxidant content. A 2010 study reported that cocoa powder and dark chocolate had the same amount or even greater amounts than various fruit powders and fruit products tested, and was a “significantly more concentrated source” than fruit juices.

4. May Help Control Blood Sugar Levels

Diabetes is a growing concern for many of us these days. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that in 2012, 29.1 million Americans had diabetes. They added that an additional 1.4 million are diagnosed each year.

Most sweet and even salty snacks spike blood sugar levels, but this is where dark chocolate is different. It doesn’t raise blood sugar as much as other sweet snacks. It has a glycemic index of only 23, which puts it in the “low glycemic index” category. To compare, consider that a regular Snickers bar is rated at 68, and honey is rated at 87. In fact, the Glycemic Index Foundation listed dark chocolate as the “Low GI Food of the Month.”

5. Can Help Curb Hunger

One of the reasons we love dark chocolate as a snack is because it is satisfying without being too filling. Turns out that it has a natural ability to suppress the appetite.

A 2011 study also reported that dark chocolate promoted satiety, lowered the desire to eat something sweet, and suppressed the urge to eat more.

And get this: In a 2010 study, researchers found that simply “smelling” dark chocolate helped participants to feel less hungry!

Just be sure you’re eating a “reasonable” amount. Most experts recommend 1.5 ounces a day.

6. Protects Your Brain as You Age

Dementia is not something any of us want to think about, but the truth is that as we live longer, we have to be more aware of the health of our brains.

The Alzheimer’s Association states that one in three seniors die with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, and that more than five million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s right now.

How wonderful to find out that a sweet treat like dark chocolate contributes to brain health! In a 2015 study, researchers found that dark chocolate improved attention and blood flow to the brain.

7. Helps Boost Your Mood

Stressed? Anxious? Feeling overwhelmed?

Reach for a piece of dark chocolate. You’ll likely start feeling better right away.

Natural flavonoids in dark chocolate actually boost the “good mood” transmitters in the brain, and boost brain levels of endorphins, too! You know how you feel after a good run? That’s endorphins pumping through your system. A small piece of dark chocolate can mimic this effect.

8. Protects Your Skin

We’ve talked about a lot of natural herbs and oils that help protect the skin from the sun on this blog. Did you know that dark chocolate can do the same?

In a 2006 study, for instance, researchers found that long-term consumption of cocoa powder helped the skin better protect itself from dangerous UV rays, and also improved skin density and skin hydration. In another study three years later, participants who ate 20 grams of dark chocolate a day increased their skin’s own ability to protect itself from sun damage.

Could this be your new beauty food?

9. May Help Battle Belly Fat

If there’s one thing we all hate, it’s that extra fat showing up around our middles. It can be so stubborn, and so difficult to get rid of.

Dark chocolate isn’t going to magically make it disappear, but it might help in your efforts to lose weight around your waist.

A 2013 study found that those people who ate dark chocolate more frequently had a lower body mass index (BMI) than those who consumed it less often. And another 2013 study strictly on women who had excessive body fat found that women who ate dark
chocolate containing at least 70 percent cocoa for seven days actually reduced their waist circumference!

10. My Contribute to Eye Health

If you happen to stare at the computer all day for your job, you know how hard it can be on your eyes. It’s so detrimental that there is a new name for it: computer vision syndrome. Gradually, all that screen time results in dry eyes, excess tearing, headaches, and blurry vision.

We don’t know if our afternoon snack helps us see better, but it’s possible! A 2011 study found that eating dark chocolate may improve visual function, at least temporarily. Visual sensitivity was enhanced by up to two hours later in people who ate the dark chocolate bar.

What is your favorite kind of dark chocolate? Let us know in the comments below!


Circulation – Contemporary Reviews in Cardiovascular Medicine, Cocoa and Cardiovascular Health

The BMJ – Chocolate consumption and cardiometabolic disorders: systematic review and meta-analysis

NeuroRegulation – The Acute Electrocortical and Blood Pressure Effects of Chocolate

Cleveland Clinic Wellness – Eating Chocolate can be Healthy!

Reuters – Chocolate may cut cholesterol but only in some people: study

Chemistry Central Journal – Cacao seeds are a “Super Fruit”: A comparative analysis of various fruit powders and products

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition – Short-term administration of dark chocolate is followed by a significant increase in insulin sensitivity and a decrease in blood pressure in healthy persons1,2,3

Glycemic Index Foundation – Low GI Food of the Month

NCBI – Eating dark and milk chocolate: a randomized crossover study of effects on appetite and energy intake

NCBI – Appetite suppression through smelling of dark chocolate correlates with changes in ghrelin in young women.

Alzheimer’s Association – 2016 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures

Newsman Health – Harvard Researchers: Chocolate Protects Against Alzheimer’s

ABC News Australia – Study finds chocolate has anti-depressant qualities

NCBI – Long-term ingestion of high flavanol cocoa provides photoprotection against UV-induced erythema and improves skin condition in women.

NCBI – Effects of dark chocolate in a population of normal weight obese women: a pilot study.

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