Adulting 101: How to Save for the Future and Still Live Your Best Life

Here in Chicago there are no shortage of ways to quickly blow a paycheck on both essentials and frivolities. After paying rent, a stop at the organic food market, your quarterly balayage, the gift for your bestie’s bridal shower and cocktails with the girls from work, do you find yourself with little or nothing left for savings? You may not yet be in full-on retirement planning mode, but it would probably (just kidding – we KNOW it would) be nice to have something left over to put away for a rainy day. Here’s how to create a budget and still live your best life.

Make a budget (leave room for the unexpected).

It’s not always fun to “get real” when it comes to how your money will be spent, but winging it or pretending you have means that you don’t, isn’t a practical way to get ahead. You could wind up with low or zero balances in your account, going into overdraft which comes at a hefty price, or racking up credit card bills. Make a list of the 10 most pressing monthly expenses in your life including the essentials like rent/mortgage, phone, utilities, loan payments, groceries and also the “extras” like your salon visits, and membership fees. Try to include an amount that is as close to accurate as possible.

Once you subtract the must-spends from your monthly income, you’ll have an idea of what you’ll have left for your social life, vacation planning, and savings. If you’re a whiz at spreadsheets, you can organize that way for free assuming you already have the software, otherwise there a lots of Apps out there that make it easy-peasy to plan and keep spending in-line. Try Fudget or Goodbudget Budget Planner, which have both free and paid versions.

Watch credit card spending.

The average US household has more than $15K in credit card debt. It doesn’t usually happen overnight, and it can be very difficult to get out of once you’re there. One credit card is really enough, perhaps two if you are a responsible credit card user and are looking to build your credit score for future events like purchasing a home or financing a vehicle.

Too many cards with unpaid balances reflect negatively on your credit score so if you don’t have any more cards than you can afford to pay the balances in their entirety on every month. The advantage of having more cards (if you’re good at managing them) is that you can earn cash back and rewards such as airlines miles, and cash back from certain purchase. Just remember, reward cards usually come with annual fees and have higher APRs, so paying off balances monthly is critical.

Shop wisely.

Practicality isn’t always as much fun as say, having a closet filled with shoes or bags, but in the end, those Jimmy Choo’s aren’t going to pay your student loans and definitely don’t make you a nicer person. Think before you buy impractical things and save the extra money, so at the end of the month you can reward yourself with a great night out, a good bottle of wine, or a few extra bucks in the vacation bank. You’ll only regret NOT having the shoes for a minute or two, but you could regret the purchase greatly if you don’t have enough to cover a “surprise” expense like a broken-down vehicle or a last minute overnight with your college friends that you so needed!

Take advantage of free and low cost events.

This city is chock-full of free and/or cheap stuff to do! Especially in the summertime… festivals, concerts, “Taste-Of-Some-Neighborhoods”, movies in the park, and oh yeah a 18 mile path along a ginormous lake, to name a few, can keep you busy for little to no cost at all.

In cooler months, there are still lots of fairs and festivals, but you can also check out the Goldstar App for lots of complimentary and heavily discounted theater, comedy and music events all around the city and suburbs. You’ll be super cultural and save a ton of money while impressing your friends with all you can do for a few bucks. Or you can even stay in and treat yourself to a snazzy at-home spa day – complete with essential oils, candles – the works!

The bottom line:

Only you know what your priorities are. Not everyone is planning for a wedding or buying a home, but it’s often the things we don’t plan for that wind up costing us because we didn’t hold some money aside for “emergencies” (even if the emergency is that you forgot your Mom’s birthday).

Save money for sunny and rainy days, spend money on feel-good things you value like your airbrush tan and your gym membership, and pay your bills in full and on time whenever possible, and you’ll be on your way to wherever or whatever your future heart might desire.

Benefits of an Airbrush tan throughout your life

The Perfect Skin Solution for Ladies of ALL Ages

When you think about spray tanning, the first things that may come to mind are proms, weddings, and vacations. You’d be right in thinking these are the some of the most popular reasons our rooms are filled in the spring and summer months. Given the nature of these events, you might also then place spray tans in a category reserved for young(er) people perhaps in their teens and twenties. But think twice before you brush off the idea of a getting a custom tan in your thirties, forties, and fifties! As a matter of fact, while your youth might be the best time to start a healthier skin routine, there is NO stop clock for taking good care of your skin.

Through the Decades

In our 30s, our skin starts to thin and tiny fine lines will begin to appear around the eyes and forehead once our estrogen levels begin to dip. Once we reach our 40s, elasticity, firmness and moisture begin to decline. And by the time we hit our mid-50s most women experience menopause – at which time the production of estrogen halts, and we begin to see changes such as sagging, age spots, spider veins and deep lines. From the inside we have learned to shine, but on the outside our skin can look dim and dull.

Cover It Up or Let It Glow?

Many of us don’t think twice about putting on makeup and purchasing quality clothing, which will cover up those areas we might feel self-conscious about. So why not consider an all-over body makeover that only takes about 20 minutes and lasts nearly a week? A custom airbrush tan will hide “imperfections” under a simple layer of color, making your skin glow and fine-tuning it (literally) from head-to-toe. The product applied allows your skin to breathe and thrive, unless some over-the-counter products that can cake and look orange giving you quite the opposite of a “glow”. At Ortanic we take the time to consult with you about exactly what you’re looking for and always guarantee a tan that is perfect just for you.

Whatever you do, don’t hide and don’t stay home simply because a little age has sprinkled its magic dust on you. All the wisdom and confidence we gain through our life experiences give us the right to walk tall with pride in our accomplishments. So, put on that amazing outfit, wear your brightest smile, and get out and glow!

Wedding day tanning 101 with Ortanic Chicago

Your Wedding Tan: For Better or For Worse

You’ve planned every last detail, from the guest list and the favors to the appetizers and music playlist, right down to the font on the place cards. You spent hours trying on dresses until you picked the perfect one; even your future MIL approves. Now think about slipping into that dress on your big day, looking in the mirror and seeing a) a sunburn b) pale skin or c) an uneven skin tone on your most photographed spots – neck, face, shoulders, arms, or worst of all… d) a blotchy and orange “tan” from a booth.


Don’t let this be you! With custom airbrush tanning any shade can be yours with a little advanced planning. Whether you want a look that’s super-subtle, sun-kisssed, contoured and toned or tropical, you CAN have the perfect color on your wedding day.

First thing’s first, don’t wait until the day before your wedding to get an airbrush tan for the first time. To be sure the airbrush artist knows exactly what you are looking for, we recommend two visits before wedding week comes. At the first visit about a month before your wedding, you’ll describe your desired shade. On the second visit, you can try either lighter, darker, more contouring, etc, and then decide which of the two you prefer for your wedding.

Next, schedule your wedding tan for about 36 hours before the big event. This will give the tan time to develop to the desired shade, but not fade before the big moment arrives. So, a tan on Thursday night for a Saturday wedding would be perfect.

Third, make sure to take proper care of your tan. If you’ll be going on your honeymoon, you’ll want to get a personal bronzer that matches your tan for touch-ups on your face and hands. Also, don’t use harsh scrubs and heavy lotions on your skin in the days following your tan and make sure all your waxing is done beforehand.

Lastly, take a big deep breath and enjoy your wedding day! Don’t forget to pack sunscreen and a wide-brimmed collapsible hat for your honeymoon. Oh, and book yourself another tan for about 3-6 days after you return home to keep that romantic glow going!

April Tanning Special: Take $20 off any Deluxe Ortanic tan Mondays & Tuesdays!

(Offer expires April 30, 2018. No two discounts apply. Available only at West Loop, Gold Coast, and Lincoln Park).

4 compelling reasons you should tan before your vacation

4 Reasons You Should Tan BEFORE Your Vacation

Even if you enjoy the Midwest winters, I’m sure we could all use a little getaway the last month of the season, right? If you close your eyes, you can feel the warm sun on your face, hear the waves crashing on the beach and taste that frozen margarita on your tongue. You’re also probably picturing yourself basking in the sun… but what if, when you get back to your room, you’ve turned a lobster shade of red?! You then spend the next few days of vacation covered up and slathering yourself in aloe vera and moisturizer. Not what you planned, right?!
Sunburn is dangerous and especially common during the first sun bathing days of a vacation on pale/dry skin that hasn’t seen the sun in months. Have no fear!  You can still come home with a great bronzed look – in fact, you can even leave home with a great tan! The trick is to leave already tanned, so you don’t have to worry about over-exposure from working on that bronze glow. Consider these points for coming in for an airbrush pre-vacay:
  1. You will arrive at your vacation destination looking relaxed and sun-kissed. No need to spend your days trying to achieve a tan, you already have one! This will free up your time for other vacations activities as well.
  2. You’ll look great in your vacation pictures, right from day one.
  3. If you can’t tone it, tan it! As hard as we might work out, sometimes we have those spots that just don’t get as toned as we like. An airbrush tan can help minimize the appearance of cellulite and stretch marks. Everyone wants to feel good on vacation.
  4. The tan lasts up to 7-10 days, so you are set for your whole vacation.
Come into Ortanic to see me and I’ll give you one of the best-looking, natural airbrush tans whether you are taking a vacation or just want to look like you did!
See you soon,
Tracy Alexander
Ortanic Gold Coast

Why You Should Tan During Winter

Sub-zero temperatures, snow, and ice don’t immediately come to mind when one thinks of a “sun-kissed glow” although, arguably “skier’s tan” is a real thing… but not likely the look most are going for.

During the winter, much of our skin remains covered up under ponchos, turtlenecks, and assorted North Face accessories. So why, you might ask, would anyone feel compelled to get an airbrush tan in January? If you need some rationale, here are 3 pretty darn good reasons to come out of hibernation for an appointment:

Brunches, parties, and vacays… oh my!

On the occasions that you find yourself peeling off the parka and the mukluks, you’ll want to reveal smooth, toned skin, right?How many of those cute little dresses are short and sleeveless?  Plus fireplaces and heaters warm everything up inside, and the layers start to shed. Whether it’s a wedding, work event, brunch, or caribbean cruise, it’s a great excuse to get a little boost of color!

Cozy nights in with your S.O.  

OK, so your bikini body will go a few more months before hitting the beach, but hanging with your honey with a nice bronzed body that accentuates your curves and contours can always add a little confidence, right? Living single? When you go clothes shopping and bare all in front of the bright lights in the dressing room, your spray tan will help paint a better picture of what that outfit will look like in real daylight!

To look good is to feel good.

Sometimes, just doing a little something that makes us feel better can lift our spirits for hours, or even days. Lighting a candle, getting a massage or buying a new lip gloss don’t seem life changing on the surface, but anything that can improve your mood will create a happier you. A daily practice of treating yourself to something nice, even if it is just a cup of coffee, will go along way. Include an airbrush tan in your repertoire of mood-lifters and you’re bound to feel better even on the gloomiest days!

Remember, take good care of you… all year long. We’ll see you at Ortanic!

Why You Should Be Dry Brushing Daily

We’ll admit there are some daily rituals and spa services that seem quite indulgent, eccentric and over-the-top, if not completely unnecessary. Dry brushing is NOT one of those!
Dry brushing is an ancient practice in cultures on at least four continents, who have been employing it with slight variations for centuries. Nowadays, it’s all the rage among popular celebrities and athletes. Never heard of it? Don’t worry, here’s the quick scoop on why now is as good of a time as any to start:
  • It helps detoxify the body. The skin is the largest organ in the body. When you exfoliate it properly through dry brushing you allow the open the pores to allow waste to be released.
  • It smooths the appearance of cellulite. The dry brushing improves blood circulation everywhere, but most noticeably in areas where fat is commonly deposited (hips, legs, tummy, etc) and tones the skin and superficial muscle.
  • It helps boosts your immunity. By increasing the flow of lymph and stimulating your lymphatic system, you are likely to reap the reward which comes along; improved immunity. It won’t rid you of a cold, but it will probably help you to fight one off.
  • It exfoliates your skin. Particularly in harsher weather months (ahem, winter!), dry brushing accomplishes exfoliating unwanted dead, dry skin cells from every part of your body that you brush!  (Plus, it makes your Ortanic tan apply more evenly and last longer!)
The technique is simple. 
  • Purchase a new, clean brush and replace it every 30 days to maximize benefits. Brushes with a handle will help keep the technique quick and from you dropping the brush, plus gives you a way to hang it afterward.
  • Brush just before you shower. Because you’re already in the buff so why not?
  • Brush firmly, but don’t hurt yourself.  It shouldn’t tickle, it should feel stimulating, but not painful.
  • Brush toward the heart for maximum effectiveness. Don’t forget to do your tummy (go easy on sensitive skin), and your lymph areas: hips, pits, neck and décolleté, and inner thighs)
  • Do it daily. ‘Nuf said.
  • Follow up after your shower only with organic body oils or creams with few ingredients so as to allow the skin to absorb all the goodness!

February Events in Chicago We Think You’ll Like

Hey friends! Brrrrrr it sure is cold out there and the groundhog says there will be six extra weeks of winter this year. The cold weather may have you hibernating but you know, you can’t stay inside forever! Valentine’s Day is on its way, and there are plenty of ways to commemorate the holiday whether you love LOVE or you think cupid is stoopid.

Cupid’s Undie Run – Wrigleyville – 2/17

Consider baring (almost) all and head out for Cupid’s Undie Run in Wrigleyville on the 17th.  Run for prizes like flasks and, you guessed it – undies,  as you raise money for charity. A little friendly advice?  Don’t get down to your skivvies without getting an Ortanic tan beforehand!  🙂

“Naked” Scavenger Hunt – Art Institute of Chicago – 2/11

If culture is your thing, head over to the Art Institute of Chicago for “The Naked” Scavenger Hunt on the 11th, where you can check out some of the most famous nudes in art history.

Makeout Party – The Hideout – 2/11 – 2/12

If you want a little romance (or not), head over to the Hideout for their Makeout Party and have a listen to some local artist playing original tunes on both 2/11 and 2/12.

Whether you’re flying solo or cozying up to someone special, above all else, find a way to love YOURSELF!  Take time to do things you love with people you love…. be your own Valentine!

Using Essential Oils for Healthier Skin Part 2 – The Recipes



As you read in Essential Oils Part I, essential oils such as frankincense, tea tree, and rosehip have been used for centuries all around the world to heal the skin. There are thousands of recipes that people from east to west rely on to care for their unique skin types and specific skin conditions. Since we, as a society, are increasingly looking to more natural and organic ingredients and actives in our skincare products, I’ve put together a short list of essential oil recipes to give you an idea of how these oils are being used to treat acne, sun damage, dry patches, oiliness, cell regeneration and signs of aging.

An important note: as you begin to work with essential oils and experiment with different recipes, please remember to never place essential oils directly on your skin. They should be mixed with into a serum, a moisturizer, a foundation or into one of several carrier oils.

As with any new skin care product, make sure to do a patch test and steer clear of any oils that are not cold-pressed or that are mixed with other ingredients that you cannot pronounce. Remember, we want pure essential oils without preservatives or other additives.

Rosehip: The Firming, Toning and Anti-Aging Super Star

Rosehip seed oil is perfect as an anti-aging oil because it penetrates deep into the skin, much like a serum. Its molecules are small enough to travel through many layers of skin and make a real impact on the skin’s elasticity. It aids in collagen production and cell regeneration, which in turn helps to plump the skin!

Did I mention rosehip seed oil also fades age spots and tiny red lines (capillaries that appear most prominently around the nose, chin, and cheeks)? Here’s a perfect little recipe to mix up and add to your daily skincare routine.

  • 2 tbsp rosehip seed oil
  • 2 tbsp sweet almond oil
  • 10 drops geranium oil or cypress oil
  • 7 drops frankincense oil

Mix ingredients in a small airtight bottle/vial (preferably darker in color to keep the sun out).

Each morning and night, apply a few drops to your fingertips and sweep across your entire face. You’ll love the scent and within a few weeks (depending on your age, as cell turnover ranges) you’ll notice a more youthful, tighter and brighter appearance to your skin.

*Recipe from Pinterest

Acne Away Essential Oil Recipe

  • 6 drops frankincense essential oil
  • 4 drops lavender essential oil
  • 2 drops tea tree essential oil

Add ingredients to a 1-ounce amber bottle of jojoba oil. Apply a few drops to acne prone spots before bed as needed. Visit for more information and recipes.

Dark Circle & Brow Lines

  • Sweet almond oil
  • Organic rosehip oil
  • 10 drops of frankincense oil
  • 15 drops of Roman chamomile oil
  • 20 drops of lavender oil

Add the frankincense, Roman chamomile and lavender oils in the bottle. Add the almond oil and rosehip oil as a 50/50 ratio until the bottle is filled. Screw the lid on and shake. Apply a few drops under each eye and between brows at night. Recipe from the

As always feel free to speak with your esthetician about the benefits of essential oils in your skin care routine. Feel free to email questions and comments to me at! 

How To Use Essential Oils For Healthier Skin


You may be thinking, “Wait, I thought oily skin was bad!” Yes, oily skin can be problematic; however, using essential oils for skin conditions has been shown to have amazing effects on the health of your skin as well as providing anti-aging benefits.

First, let’s talk about what essential oils are. Essential oils are pure oils extracted from plants that have been used for treating skin conditions from acne to scars to elasticity for centuries. The most well-known essential oils are tea tree, lavender, peppermint and rose, but the list of essential oils used in skincare is impressive and growing in popularity.

As we turn more toward organic ingredients and treatments for our skin, essential oils have become, well, essential components of a relaxing and effective skin treatments.

Think back to your last facial. Did the esthetician begin the session with an aromatherapy treatment…asking you to close your eyes and inhale deeply?  Did you smell lavender, rose, or maybe a citrus scent?

Inhaling certain oils like lavender can have an immediate effect on the mind and body, putting both more at ease by activating the nervous system that sends signals to the brain to relax.

Frankincense, geranium, lavender, myrrh, neroli, patchouli, and rose are excellent oils for supporting skin that is beginning to show the first signs of aging. Mixed with a carrier oil (more about these in the next paragraphs), these essential oils can be used daily to fight dryness, loss of elasticity, refine skin texture and tone, retain water in the skin, and regenerate skin cells.

Before stocking up on essential oils, it’s important to understand your own skin and what it needs. Is it dry, showing the first signs of aging or oily and acneic? Schedule a facial consultation with your esthetician and discuss what essential oil would be best suited for your skin.

Doing a patch test is a necessary step to make sure you’re not allergic to an oil and all essential oils should be diluted in a carrier oil such as olive oil, grapeseed oil, or almond oil.

Not only used for skin care, essential oils are also an excellent way to keep your home clean without having to use toxic chemicals. Peppermint on cotton balls tucked inside closets, under the bed, or sprayed around windows and doors will keep spiders away.

Being that I’m an arachnophobia, I always have peppermint oil fully stocked in my home! You can also use essential oils diluted with apple cider vinegar or distilled vinegar to create flea and tick repellents for your four-legged friends.

The bottom line is that essential oils can be used in a number of ways, incorporated into your life to make it safer, cleaner, and in our skincare to heal, improve, and strengthen the skin. For specific recipes using essential oils to cleanse, hydrate, exfoliate, and renew your skin, check back later this month for a follow-up post!

Mid-Summer Days & Nights: How To Incorporate Summer Color Trends

Earlier this spring, fashion-devotees watched the runways in Paris to see what colors would dominate this year’s spring and summer collections. Would this summer be ruled by bold, bright hues? Colorful designs inspired by photography? As we soon discovered, this summer took on a much lighter, fresher, nature-inspired palette that ranges from soft rosy hues to champagne and water lily tones.

Fashion writers, designers and lovers of all that rule the runway were not disappointed with this year’s palette of colors that inspire tranquility and designs meant to calm the mind. Natural fibers like cotton, bamboo and linen, as well as colors taken from nature such as soft greens, teals, and blues (reminiscent of the Mediterranean Sea) found their way into many designs and many closets this year.

With a healthy tan, these softer colors make pulling an outfit together a breeze! So let’s talk colors. Among the list of the most popular colors is blush-  a lighter shade of rose that has found its way into many bridal party dresses.

Now, there are definitely mixed feeling about rose or blush colored dresses (particularly from several bridesmaids that I airbrushed!) Many clients felt that their fairer toned skin almost matched the dresses they would be wearing. The answer? A sunless, healthy looking tan, of course! With a little color, all of a sudden the softer shades of the season could easily be worn and the tan was the showstopper- a natural glow perfect for highlighted the blush/rose colored dresses.

Other colors designers have incorporated into their designs this summer include peach, blue, buttercup, lilac gray, and “iced coffee.” These warm and soft colors are often found in nature (think rain forests and balmy vacation getaway resorts!) This year’s trend may reflect a need that designers see in turning away from the technology-driven world we live in for a simpler look at life. Yes, technology is wonderful, but so is the ability to unplug from it. And, if wearing a buttercup dress or Mediterranean blue tie calms the mind, then what better way to celebrate summer fashion and highlight your tan than to wear the season’s most popular palette this year?!

But what if you don’t want to commit one of these hues to your entire outfit? For women, who tend to shy away from these more “natural” hues, an easy way to incorporate the colors of the season is into a manicure or pedicure. Likewise, for men, it’s easy to reach past the bold red tie for a softer red, a lighter blue, or even a lilac tie to bring a little fashion into the office.

Keep in mind that the softer hues have also been shown to reduce stress levels and are often used in color design in bedrooms and home offices, where calm minds inspire rest and reduced stress levels. This summer the colors are taking the stage and the color palettes are reminding us to take time to stop and smell the roses (or lilacs!)
Questions, comments, suggestions? I’d love to hear from you, simply email me at! Want to book your next appointment online? Visit this link!