Bianca Jones Marlin is a neuroscientist and postdoctoral researcher at Columbia University’s Zuckerman Institute.
My husband and I try to adhere to a one day "Sabbath" where we set aside protected time to be present with friends and family. He is Jewish, and I'm Christian, so it's a day we both agree to reflect on our busy lives.
Her secret: Micro-pens
By 6 p.m., we are usually on our way home from church or from visiting family on Long Island. After a glass of wine and some time with our one-year-old daughter, I get myself settled at my desk and prepare to organize my week. I'm big into planning, so I find joy in setting out my pens, stickers, and micro pens (.15 mm tip, makes for beautiful micro writing!) to list the things I need to accomplish in the coming week. I have a little golden Kate Spade book that I call my "secretary." It's where I list everything from lab work, to answering emails, to things to buy and people to contact. I also keep a small book by my bed, just in case any last minute thoughts come up that didn't make it into my planner. (I even have a waterproof paper and pencil hanging on the wall in the shower. There have been many cool scientific experiments I have thought up in the shower and I don't want to risk forgetting them!)
I focused my doctoral studies on neuromodulators—chemicals naturally released from the brain. They change your brain, body, and behaviors. So when I have a thought that may be associated with anxious feelings, I write it down so my mind doesn't have to hold the burden of remembering it. Writing these tasks down in nice ink is therapeutic and turns the task into art.
Her Ritual: Showers and Lots of Product
After the planning is done, I take a nice, long shower. I am a big fan of simple soaps and exfoliation. I use Dr. Bronner's Unscented Castile Soap on both my face and my body. I alternate between Dr. Bronner's and Shiseido Perfect Whip, a creamy wash I found in Japan. I exfoliate with Frank Body Original Coffee Scrub on my face and body. I had eczema as a child, and it still flares every once in a while, so I use scrubs to deal with hyperpigmentation around my mouth and the nape of my neck. I also enjoy a homemade honey, oatmeal, and brown sugar scrub that I use on the more delicate parts of my face and neck for both enzymatic exfoliation and color correction. Finally, I massage my body and hair with Now Solutions Sweet Almond Oil. I like that it is hexane free (hexane is sometimes used in the process of extracting oils). I work with many chemicals in the lab, so I try to limit my exposure otherwise. Almond oil is my favorite moisturizer; my skin stays so soft and supple, and I'm confident that it is a good ingredient for my body's largest organ to absorb.
I wipe my face with two favorite toners, Burt's Bees Tomato Toner and Thayer's Witch Hazel. I use oil on my hair and skin every day, so I like the alcohol in the Burt's Bees toner to avoid clogged pores. My grandmother was from Guyana, South America, and was a strong believer in herbal remedies from the earth as part of her beauty routine. She believed in witch hazel, and I have used it since I was young. Before the witch hazel evaporates, I apply a thick layer of Skyn Iceland's The Antidote, a moisturizer. It is cooling, so it gives me a quick tingle that makes my skin feel alive. I also top it off with a thin layer of oil especially around my eyes for extra moisture.
I wear latex gloves every day in the lab, and wash my hands very often with harsh soap necessary for lab cleanliness, so I like to keep my hands and feet moisturized. At night, I use Vaseline on my feet and cover them with socks. And I slather a thin layer of A&D ointment on my hands just in case I touch my face when I'm sleeping.
Her Obsession: Books and Tea
After moisturizing, I fix myself a cup of tea. My favorite is Harney and Sons Hot Cinnamon Spice tea. When I'm feeling unbearably tired, that little bit of caffeine gives me the boost I need to get myself into bed. If I have rested well, I will drink some dandelion or burdock tea to give my liver a good cleanse from a weekend of rich food, drinks and fun. I settle in with my tea and a good book. I'm a big fan of non-fiction autobiographies and self-help books. I enjoy reading about leadership and team organization on Sunday evenings to set my mindset for the week. Right now I'm reading Radical Candor, but I have The Five Love Languages and Born a Crime started as well. I also love the book of Proverbs in the Bible, so I will pick a chapter to meditate and reflect on.
I usually fall asleep just before midnight.