By Stephanie Jade Wong
What do you do when you’re alone with your thoughts? Do you think about how to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle? Do you feel lost or consumed in the billions of thoughts scattered around inside your head?
No matter how you may feel, know that there is a community of people out there who may feel the same way you do. That’s what we’ve learned from Mai Nguyen, blogger and mental health advocate.
“There was an emptiness to my whole being, yet I couldn't pinpoint exactly what it was,” Mai shared on her blog. “I'd encounter certain situations where I felt completely disconnected with others or the thoughts in my head were lost in heated translation, then left to collect dust in the dark corners of my mind. I just knew something about me was ‘off’ or not ‘normal.’”
By day she’s a creative insights analyst at a digital media company, and by night she runs a blog called, Little Mai Sunshine.
We chatted with Mai about sustainability, clean beauty, and mental health.
LIB: Can you tell us more about Little Mai Sunshine?
MN: At first, I started it as a way to document my personal style. I wanted an outlet to express my strong affinity for fashion and a means of experimenting with my creative ideas.
Then it expanded to other areas that really energized me, and I wanted to share those passions out loud.
I ventured into sharing:
It’s become a home of my ideas and passions to voice out loud in hopes of inspiring or encouraging others to live the best they can for themselves.
LIB: How do you live a sustainable lifestyle?
MN: By no means do I consider myself an expert or well-knowledged sustainability advocate because I’m still learning as much as I can every day on the topic, but it is a work in progress to make the full lifestyle change.
I try to give myself daily goals that slowly build up to bigger efforts so I don’t feel as overwhelmed by green fatigue or eco anxiety.
Starting out with little things such as:
Then working on incorporating bigger efforts such as:
There are so many dynamics and nuances to sustainability and I think the more I can educate myself, the more I can share what I’ve learned to inspire others as well.
LIB: How did your sustainable and clean beauty journey begin?
MN: I think it started when I began researching more into eco-conscious living. It just became a dual effort, as with finding sustainable alternatives to other aspects of my everyday living.
LIB: What are 3 ways that you think makeup and skincare can help your mental health?
MN:1. Gives me control over something in my life.
LIB: What does your skincare routine look like?
MN: Lots of water! Haha, JK. But I do always preach that as much as I can.
My daytime and nighttime routines are slightly different, but the main steps are:
Step 1: Cleanser
Step 2: Toner
Step 3: Serum
Step 4: Eye cream
Step 5: Moisturizer
Step 6: Sunscreen if it’s the day time, or sleeping mask if it’s at night
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No one: (okay maybe one or two) Me: So a lot of you have been asking about my skincare routine... . Products used: 1. @tataharperskincare Nourishing Oil Cleanser 2. @yesto 2-in-1 Cleansing Stick 3. @thayersnatural Facial Toner with Witch Hazel 4. @botanicsusa Concentrate Serum 5. @renskincareus Overnight Recovery Balm 6. @glowrecipe Avocado Melt Eye Sleeping Mask 7. @botanicsusa Night Cream 8. @peachandlily Overnight Sleeping Mask . What does your skincare routine look like? #skincare #beauty
LIB: What does your makeup routine look like?
MN: I’m really not the best with makeup, so I try to keep it as simple and minimal as possible. But also because I believe in focusing on maintaining good skincare first over makeup!
Step 1: Under-eye concealer
Step 2: The Au Naturale Anywhere Creme Multi-Stick in the shade Destiny to add some dimension and color to my lids
Step 3: Mascara
Step 4: Bronzer
Step 5: Highlight
Step 6: Mattifying powder to set everything
LIB: Is there a beauty product or ingredient you’re loving lately?
MN: I wasn’t always into highlighting my face but when I started experimenting with the Au Naturale Anywhere Creme Multi-Stick, just swiping light strokes on the main areas (cheekbones, nose bridge, and inner corner of my eyes), I realized how much it really made a difference!
I completely understand the obsession with the “glow-up” now because it really does just add that extra shine that makes me feel so subtly beautiful without doing too much.
LIB: Au Naturale Cosmetics provides vegan, organic, paraben-free, and ethical products to consumers. Can you tell us why this is important when it comes to beauty products you use?
MN: As I began learning about sustainability and eco-conscious efforts, I started viewing my everyday habits and routines a little more thoughtfully. Each one of my actions has an eco-conscious alternative if I just researched it.
Through my own research and the ways in which the beauty industry crosses lots of ethical boundaries, I realized this is not what I want to bring into my life. As a consumer, I can be more mindful about what my money is representing and supporting.
It’s also a dual effort in my own self-love journey because as I am working to better myself internally, through my mind and my nutrition, I also want to manifest that holistic and healthy mindset with what I put on my body, including beauty products.
LIB: After discovering your phases of anxiety and depression, why is advocating for mental health important to you?
MN: I wanted to learn more about my mind. I realized there was power in sharing our stories with one another in a collective effort to better ourselves and answer to our own demons, while finding support in community.
This journey has not only helped me but has inspired others around me to welcome vulnerability as peace and solitude, and not through fear.
LIB: You’re so open with your audience in sharing personal aspects of your life on Instagram. Where do you find that courage?
MN: I think at some point, I realized the more I shared my truths and my vulnerability, the more natural it was to cultivate a community that I actually felt connected and a part of through social media, that’s otherwise a rarity.
I find that it’s so easy to get lost in the social media world based on perfectionism and aestheticism that in the end, I’ve only inhibited my own growth and confidence rather than contributing to them.
The more honest I am about who I am and how I feel, the more that same sort of energy will respond through the people and communities via the digital world that would otherwise be missed or repressed.
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Some wise words from my yoga instructor this morning: “Instead of trying to be 100% your best, why not focus on being 1% better everyday? How about focusing and improving on one aspect at a time?” And shitttt, I really felt that...right before I fell over while doing warrior three 🙃
MN: I really love telling stories and listening to stories from other people. The world feels a lot less lonely and a lot more bearable when we can support one another through empathy and honest conversations, and I think my blog is a manifestation of that belief.
LIB: How do you use social media and blogging to engage with and educate your audience and community?
MN: Social media and my blog have become further vessels of communication to reach out to as many people as I can. I wanted to cultivate a sense of community that a lot of us lack when we’re so caught up in our routines and day-to-day, and these digital platforms became my avenues of creating online communities to support and inspire one another.
I’m all about storytelling and raw conversations; the more I can utilize social media in ways to benefit our wellbeing rather than hurting it, the better we can thrive alongside in this modern world.
LIB: Who or what inspires you?
MN: Oh man, it’s so hard to narrow it to just a few because I really do find inspiration everywhere and through everything!
I try to be intentionally aware of my surroundings and learn from everything around me but I do find a lot of my inspiration through my communities and various networks of friends and creatives.
I truly thrive from raw and real conversations that keep me motivated and constantly ideate and brainstorm. Whether through panel discussions or IRL events, there is just so much to pull from.
Contrary to popular opinion, social media is actually a great resource for me, too. I create my own community of people I aspire to be like or look up to — to teach me and offer new perspectives on things. It can really be a beneficial asset!
LIB: What are your other passions?
MN: I have way too many! I love: live music, connecting with other creatives and collaborating or having deep conversations, dancing, spoken word, and poetry.
This can really go on, but these are just a few at the top of my list. 🙂
LIB: What 3 words describe you?
MN: Creative, ambitious, and sociable.
LIB: What are the top 3 Instagram accounts you follow for sustainability inspo?
Mai says that mental health = mental wealth, and we definitely agree.
Whether you’re new to sustainability and clean beauty or you’re an expert, there are always ways to learn from others and share your knowledge.
About the Author:
Stephanie Jade Wong is a NY-based freelance writer. She likes long walks to coffee shops, trying new beauty products, and petting strangers’ dogs.Instagram | LinkedIn | Facebook