Let’s get real—makeup and beauty products are expensive. In 2017, sales of prestige makeup in the U.S. totaled $8.1 billion, according to research by the NPD Group (1). That figure was up 6 percent from 2016. In fact, a survey conducted by Groupon revealed that women spend an average of $225,360 on beauty products in their lifetimes (2).
When shopping online or visiting cosmetic counters or specialty retailers, women are faced with a staggering amount of products and choices. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed. But before you empty your wallet to try that new contour powder or that trendy lipstick color, take stock of what you have and consider using your makeup in multiple ways.
The following seven beauty hacks will show you how to get creative and make the most of your makeup.
7 Ways to Make the Most of Your Makeup
Use Liquid Lipstick to Color Correct
Before you purchase a color-correcting product to combat dark circles, try using a red or orange-colored liquid lipstick. Dab a little bit of the lipstick under your eyes and blend it out, or use it over dark spots on your face to help balance out the darkness before you cover problem areas with foundation and concealer.
Liquid lipstick formulas are recommended over regular lipstick formulas because they dry down and won’t smudge and smear easily. If you’re using liquid lipstick to color correct dark circles under your eyes, make sure the formula is eye-safe.
Use Eyeshadow to Contour and Highlight
Sure, eyeshadow is meant to go on your eyes, but there are no rules that say you can’t use the powders on other areas of your face. Look for a matte-brown eyeshadow in your collection that is approximately two shades darker than your skin tone and use it to contour out your cheekbones, jawline, forehead area and nose. Make sure to blend it out so that there are no harsh lines, and look for a slightly cool undertone in the eyeshadow so that the shade doesn’t look too orange or warm on your skin.
You can also use a metallic or foiled eyeshadow as a highlight. Look for high-shine gold, light pink or champagne shades in your collection and dust some on the tops of your cheekbones, the bridge of your nose and your cupid’s bow. Avoid using shadows with too much glitter, as these will emphasize texture on the skin.
Use Concealer as an Eyeshadow Primer
There are tons of eyeshadow primers on the market that are meant to help your eyeshadows last longer and resist creasing. But what most cosmetic sales associates won’t tell you is that concealer works just as well to create a smooth surface and prime your eyes. Make sure to use a light application, blend it evenly across your lids, and set the concealer down with a translucent powder before applying your eyeshadow.
Use Eyeshadow to Create Your Own Lip Gloss
You can create a unique and personalized lipstick shade by combining your favorite eyeshadow or pigment with some clear lip gloss, balm or petroleum jelly (or a petroleum jelly substitute). To do this, lightly scrape the eyeshadow with some tweezers so that it becomes a loose powder. Scrape it over a small mixing bowl or use the back of a mirror or makeup palette as a mixing area.
Once you have about a dime-sized amount of powder, add your gloss, balm or jelly and use the end of a makeup brush to mix it together with the eyeshadow powder. Use a lip brush or your finger to apply the color to your lips.
Use Lipstick as Blush
There’s no need to go out and buy cream blush if you already own some pretty lipstick shades. Lipstick can easily be applied to your cheeks to create a natural flush. It’s best to use semi-matte shades that have a little bit of sheen, since matte formulas may look chalky on the skin. The easiest way to apply lipstick as blush is to sweep your finger across the product, warm it between your fingers, and dab the product onto the apples of your cheeks. For a more natural look, use a damp makeup sponge to sheer out the color. If you’re using lipstick as blush, apply it before you apply powder to ensure a smooth finish.
Use Mascara as Eyeliner
Since mascara is already eye-safe and formulated not to smudge and smear, it makes a great eyeliner if you’re in a pinch. Use an angled brush and dab it onto the mascara wand until the flat side of the brush is covered. Then use the brush to create a wing and drag it along your lash line. You can also smudge it out to create a more smokey look.
This is an awesome way to get more use out of colored mascaras that you may not use on a daily basis.
Use Eyeshadow to Fill in Your Brows
Makeup store shelves are filled with brow powders, gels and pomades, but if you’re in a hurry and need a quick way to fill in your brows, eyeshadow works just fine. Make sure to use a matte shade—without any shimmer or shine—and find a color that complements your skin tone and hair color. If you have blonde hair, use a warm taupe or light brown color. If you have brown hair, stick to a medium brown shade. Redheads should use auburn brown eyeshadows, and those with dark brown or black hair should use deep, chocolate brown colors or even matte black shadows.
Use a small angled brush and dip it into the eyeshadow powder, making sure the end is coated. Then take the tip of the angled brush and apply the powder into your brows using short, quick, upward strokes. Repeat this motion until your brows are filled in and look full. You can clean up the edges with concealer if you need to. Set the powder in place with a clear brow gel or a clear mascara so it stays put throughout the day.
Grandmothers are known for their folksy fixes—some of which are more legitimate than others. Have a cold? Chicken soup may actually reduce inflammation, so go ahead and take her up on a nice big bowl. Have a fussy baby? Think twice before opening the “magic teething whiskey.” Have a bad hair day? Start taking notes, friend.
Yes, grandmothers are the original beauty hackers—from skincare shortcuts to blowout-saving secrets, they know a thing or two about looking good for less. Here are seven simple, straightforward and thrifty vintage beauty tricks the experts (and, likely, your grandma) still use today.
7 Beauty Tricks You Need to Know
Don’t tell your gloss, but shine-free lips are having a moment. The low-key matte look, which first surfaced on Instagram and runways, is now officially out in the wild. If you’re not quite ready to trade in your favorite cream shades, try the trend using this old-school trick from Elizabeth Johnson, co-owner of Delaware-based cosmetics boutique Houpette.
“After applying the lipstick, place a tissue over your lips and let it stick,” she says. “Then, brush setting powder on top of the tissue over your lips. It will mattify the lip color and make it more long-wearing.”
These days, a brow pencil is a beauty basic. But before beauty megastores and one-click shopping, a little repurposed eye shadow did the trick just fine. Despite the hundreds of options available in 2018, Johnson still finds herself subbing in shadow when she wants to perfectly match a client’s hair color.
“There are so many more shades available!” she says. “Take an angled brow brush and apply the eye shadow starting in the middle of the brow arch, working back toward the start of the brow and then, finally, through the brow to the ends.” (Eye shadow is messier than a pencil, so make sure to tap any excess pigment off the brush prior to applying.)
Have unruly brows? Skip the specialized brow gel and use Johnson’s quick fix: lip balm. Take a small amount on your fingertip, dab through your brows, then comb through gently with a clean spoolie brush.
Grease Be Gone
Dry shampoos are a great way to freshen up your hair between washes. But, as your grandmother would be obligated to point out, the main ingredients are baby powder and corn starch—both of which were used to extend expensive salon blowouts long before dry shampoo (and hand-held hair dryers) hit the market. Simply sprinkle some powder or starch at the roots, comb through, and be on your way.
Dark circles have never been in style. Although there are endless illuminators (and, ahem, filters) on the market, take a cue from Old Hollywood makeup artists and try using red lipstick to brighten things up. Johnson recommends opting for a coral shade and dabbing a tiny bit under the eye where the purple undertones are prominent, keeping the application light and sheer. Then, top with your usual under-eye concealer and setting powder. “Voila—dark circles no more!” she says.
Something to Smile About
Before modern teeth whitening treatments, Hollywood stars turned to their kitchen cabinets for a brightening boost. Baking soda, which is still used in many whitening toothpastes, releases free radicals that break down stains on tooth enamel. Brush it on a couple times a week, rinse thoroughly, and smile often.
The Magic Eraser
Grandmom used petroleum jelly for everything—including removing her eye makeup. As strange as it sounds, petroleum jelly swipes off makeup like magic, and at a fraction of the cost of specialized makeup removers.
However, petroleum jelly can easily clog pores and lead to acne, depending on your skin type. And, as a byproduct of the oil refining industry, it’s an unsustainable resource with varying degrees of purity. For a gentler, more Earth-friendly alternative, try coconut oil, suggests Philadelphia-based makeup artist Deanna O’Hanna. Simply whip the coconut oil in your palms to get it to an almost liquid state, then gently rub onto your face, paying special attention to any areas that have more makeup (such as your eyes). Rinse with warm water, pat dry, and say goodbye to those wasteful makeup wipes.
A Freezing Facial
Legendary screen queen Joan Crawford was known for her high-maintenance beauty routine. While we wouldn’t recommend her “secret” to a sculpted jawline—chewing gum, constantly, to strengthen the muscles—her DIY facial stands up today. After removing her makeup, Crawford would splash her face with ice water 25 times to reduce puffiness and tighten skin. Model Kate Moss still swears by the trick and takes it one step further, filling a sink with ice cubes and submerging her face for a quick refresh.
In most areas of my life, I try to be conscious about what I put in and on my body. I buy organic groceries when possible, seek out natural beauty products, and use environmentally friendly cleaners around the house. One glaring exception to my green routine? Antiperspirant. Like paying taxes or pretending to care about other people’s vacation photos, I consider smelling good to be part of the social contract.
Like most conventional antiperspirants, my trusty brand—which has been keeping my pits spelling like a tropical smoothie for 10-plus years, thank you very much—uses a questionable cocktail of chemicals to block sweat ducts and kill bacteria. Although the research isn’t conclusive, ingredients including parabens and aluminum have been linked to breast cancer and Alzheimer’s, and some question the wisdom of trapping toxins beneath the skin’s surface. As for me, I’m wary—but the last time I tried a natural deodorant, the options were limited and, quite literally, stunk.
These days, however, natural deodorants are more refined, and there are a ton of formulas to choose from depending on your body’s unique chemistry. With this in mind, I reluctantly agreed to hand over my go-to antiperspirant stick for two weeks and try out three natural deodorant alternatives.
Making the Switch to Natural Deodorant
First up was Schmidt’s Natural Deodorant Sensitive Skin Formula in Coconut Pineapple. As much as I loved the idea of replacing aluminum and artificial fragrances with Schmidt’s plant-based powders and essential oils, I was skeptical—my life, after all, is pretty active. Most days, my morning begins around 6 a.m., when my 11-month-old daughter shoots up out of her crib like a cross between Dracula and the Energizer Bunny. Before noon, we’ll walk the dogs, cover every square inch of the playground, splash around in the pool, make a mess in the garden, and find a new way to avoid napping. The afternoon brings more of the same until my husband gets home from work, at which point I either go on a run or hit up a yoga class (full disclosure: sometimes “yoga” is a glass of wine in the shower). In short, my summer is a sweaty, messy, potentially smelly one.
To my surprise, Schmidt’s was up to the task. It glided on smelling absolutely heavenly, then kept my underarms neutral throughout the day. Like all natural alternatives, Schmidt’s is a deodorant, not an antiperspirant, so it doesn’t actually prevent perspiration—but that said, I wasn’t unreasonably sweaty. After using it for a week, there was only one occasion when I felt the need to reapply multiple times (and in all fairness, nothing in Philadelphia smelled particularly fresh that day—East Coast humidity is the real deal).
Feeling good about the experiment, I decided to try out two cream deodorants for the second week: Primal Pit Paste’s Level 2 formula (which promises to stand up to high-level stinkers such as crossfitters and teenagers) and PiperWai, a charcoal-based paste that my friends and coworkers have been raving about for years. Although not quite as convenient as Schmidt’s traditional stick, I didn’t mind rubbing in either of the creams—they went on smoothly and didn’t leave any sticky residue on my fingers. While I loved the strong tropical fragrance of Schmidt’s, the cleaner, less flowery scents of Primal Pit Paste and PiperWai were also refreshing.
Both Primal Pit Paste and PiperWai did the job reasonably well. However, by the end of a long, hot day, I noticed a smell unless I had reapplied. According to the very small group of people I’m comfortable asking to sniff me, I didn’t smell bad—the word “natural” was suggested—but I also didn’t smell like nothing, which is what I’m going for.
Am I ready to permanently break up with my conventional antiperspirant? Maybe not—on the hottest, stickiest, down-and-dirtiest days of the summer, I’ll probably still reach for it from time to time. But it’s great to have a few more options, and Schmidt’s has officially been promoted to my pit crew.
Americans are odor-obsessed. There’s no other way to explain the fact that the domestic deodorant and antiperspirant market is projected to hit nearly $3.5 billion in 2019 (1). For those in search of alternatives that are less irritating or potentially toxic, there is some good news: The natural deodorant market has grown steadily in recent years to reach $42 million in late 2017, according to research firm Mintel (2). Granted, sales are a mere fraction of the overall market, but the fact that major players like Procter & Gamble and Unilever have acquired natural brands (Native and Schmidt’s, respectively) suggests that the alternatives are gaining traction as more people become concerned about what’s going into their bodies—and on to their underarms.
Like any strong face wash or laundry detergent, traditional deodorants and antiperspirants use strong chemicals to get the job done. “Depending on a person’s skin sensitivity, sometimes these harsh chemicals can cause skin irritation,” says Beverly Hills dermatologist Dr. Tess Mauricio, CEO of MBeautyClinic.com.
An even greater concern is whether one of the main ingredients in your favorite antiperspirant could down the line negatively impact your breast or brain health. If you’re one to err on the side of caution, or if your pits react negatively to the ingredients in conventional antiperspirants and deodorants, a switch to natural varieties may be in order.
How Does Natural Deodorant Work?
Before we get into the nuts and bolts of the sticks and sprays that banish odor and sweat, it’s important to define the difference between a deodorant and an antiperspirant. “An antiperspirant literally stops the flow of sweat by blocking underarm pores, whereas deodorant, which kills bacteria on the skin, covers up any smells that come with sweat,” says Caitlin Hoff, health and safety investigator at ConsumerSafety.org. “Some brands will combine the two for maximum protection from sweat and odor.”
The problem with blocking the pores in your underarms, says Dr. Mauricio, “is that they are then blocked from performing their intended function—purging toxins and regulating temperature.” Natural deodorants cover smell from underarms with antimicrobial ingredients such as sage or other essential oils as well as powders like baking soda or arrowroot that absorb odor.
The first natural deodorants to market may not have been nearly as reliable as conventional brands. In fact, many provided little more than a momentary blip of scent. But over time, chemists have experimented with various natural ingredients, and Dr. Mauricio believes that natural deodorants have definitely improved as the natural beauty space has grown. Those white streaks natural deodorants used to leave on your T-shirt? That’s caused by baking soda, a common deodorizer. “But this ingredient isn’t as commonly used in natural deodorants today,” she says. A good thing, since, for some people with sensitive skin, baking soda is a known irritant.
Hoff believes a lot of the negative reviews of natural deodorants early on came from a lack of understanding of the difference between deodorants and antiperspirants. “Many people try natural alternatives and find the product lacking because the deodorant didn’t stop them from sweating or the antiperspirant didn’t cover up the odor well enough,” she says. Hoff suggests that you read labels and know exactly what your natural product claims to do.
Ingredients to Avoid in Conventional Deodorant
So, just what has a growing percentage of Americans up in arms about the antiperspirants and deodorants they trusted for years to fight both odor and wetness? In a word, aluminum. Conventional brands contain aluminum compounds for the purpose of blocking sweat ducts. “Aluminum is the most controversial ingredient when it comes to antiperspirants,” says Hoff. She cites claims that the metal contributes to the development of breast cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and kidney disease. However, she cautions, “there is little evidence proving a link between antiperspirant use and these diseases.” Nor has it been proven that, as was once rumored, cancer-causing substances in antiperspirants are absorbed through razor nicks from underarm shaving.
Backing up Hoff’s claims, the American Cancer Society (ACS) reports that “there are no strong epidemiologic studies in medical literature that link breast cancer risk and antiperspirant use.” In fact, the ACS website cites one study published in 2002 that compared 813 women with breast cancer and 793 women without the disease (3). The researchers found no link between breast cancer risk and antiperspirant use, deodorant use, or underarm shaving.
“Researchers have found that even after shaving, the body doesn’t absorb enough aluminum to do significant damage,” says Hoff. In fact, one study that looked at how much aluminum from antiperspirants containing aluminum chlorohydrate is actually absorbed when applied to the underarms (4). The researchers found that only a tiny fraction (0.012 percent) was actually absorbed.
The potential link between aluminum found in antiperspirants and Alzheimer’s first emerged during the 1960s and ’70s. Since then, however, studies have not confirmed the connection, and according to the Alzheimer’s Association, few believe that everyday sources of aluminum pose any threat.
That said, aluminum can cause skin irritation, “which is one reason that some people prefer to use aluminum-free traditional deodorants or natural deodorants,” says Hoff.
When it comes to skin irritation, another major culprit in traditional deodorant is the catch-all term “fragrance.” The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) has confirmed that, more often than not, this term refers to not one, but multiple ingredients. Unfortunately, this blanket term found on a multitude of deodorants gives little information as to whether the ingredients are synthetic or natural, or if they could produce an allergic reaction. More often than not, it’s a cocktail of chemicals that comprises the scent.
A few known irritants found in some traditional deodorants include parabens, compounds used as preservatives that can mimic the activity of the hormone estrogen in the body’s cells; propylene glycol, an ingredient used in antifreeze that allows the deodorant to glide smoothly over the skin’s surface; and triclosan, which was originally developed as a pesticide in the 1960s and has since made its way into cosmetics, deodorants, soaps, and lotions thanks to its ability to kill germs and odor-causing bacteria. In 2017, the FDA banned the use of triclosan in soaps and antibacterial washes due to concerns over long-term health effects. However, triclosan is still allowed in deodorants.
If the thought of having suspect ingredients touching your skin is a turn-off, you should definitely consider switching to natural alternatives.
Types of Natural Deodorant
Natural deodorants come in many formulas, including sticks, creams, charcoal, sprays, and roll-ons. Here’s what you need to know about each:
Sticks. Many of the natural stick deodorants on the market use waxes like beeswax and cadelila so that they go on smoothly and leave skin moisturized. Depending on the brand, ingredients run the gamut from coconut oil, shea butter and fruit oils to peppermint, eucalyptus and kaolin clay (to absorb sweat and moisture). If you’re skin irritates easily, look for brands that make sensitive skin formulas.
Creams. Most are comprised of some combination of the following ingredients: coconut oil, shea butter, baking soda, clay, corn starch, and essential oils. They are very similar to a moisturizer with the addition of odor-zapping powders and antiseptic ingredients like coconut oil, neem oil, and essential oils. There’s far more flexibility as to what ingredients a cream can contain since it does not need to retain its shape like a stick. In addition, far more product makes contact with the skin (and stays there!) as it gets absorbed and creates an emollient layer, much like a body butter.
Charcoal. If odor’s your true nemesis, activated charcoal deodorant may become your new BFF, and it will keep you dry all day. Unlike other natural deodorants, activated charcoal is carbon-rich so it can extract oil and dirt from clogged pores. It can also absorb 1,000 times its own weight in moisture.
Sprays. One big benefit of dry sprays is that they don’t feel wet or sticky when you apply them. Plus, the natural sprays available today dry fast and don’t stain.
Roll-ons. These deodorants glide over skin, which is great if your pits are on the sensitive side. Another bonus: The Internet is filled with recipes for DIY natural roll-ons, which include ingredients such as baking soda, corn starch, essential oils and distilled water. So if you’re looking to save a pretty penny while still smelling fresh, this could be a good option.
Before you rush off to purchase (or produce) your own natural deodorant, Hoff offers a caveat: “As a consumer, you should scrutinize a natural deodorant just as much as a traditional one for the ingredients used rather than blindly following labels. Just because a product claims that it’s “natural” or “organic” doesn’t mean it is. Read up the ingredients and confirm that they are safe for you and your family.”
How to Transition from Conventional to Natural Deodorant
When switching over to a natural deodorant, it’s wise to allow for a transition period. “The period of transition from a traditional antiperspirant to a natural deodorant can be a smelly experience,” says Dr. Mauricio. “Thankfully, its short lived! Your underarm pores will unclog and detox themselves for three-ish weeks, releasing all the toxins you’ve trapped there since you started wearing antiperspirants.” However, she adds, as soon as your body adjusts, “you’ll experience minimal sweat and minimal smell (yes, even less than the days when you forgot to apply your antiperspirant).”
Patience is key here; you are going to sweat and smell more than usual for about two weeks. Still, it helps to remember that you are only resetting your bodies natural functions, so you’re really just getting things back to working the way that they’re meant to function.
If time is of the essence, you can jump start the transition process by exfoliating your armpits and using a clay mask. Exfoliation helps by opening your underarm pores so they can more quickly clear and the clay mask starts the detox/deodorization process by helping to remove some of the harmful toxins clogged in your underarm sweat glands.
If you can possibly help it, don’t default back to your antiperspirant just because things get uncomfortable. Like everything else in life, good things—and far better results—come to those who wait.
Detoxes aren’t limited to body cleanses…you can (and should!) detox your home of harmful chemicals.
There are synthetic chemicals in everything from cleaning products to personal care items, and those chemicals can affect everything from how well you breathe to the health of your pregnancy to your focus at work.
Common Household Toxins
There is substantial evidence linking toxic environmental chemicals to neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism spectrum disorder, attention deficits, hyperactivity, intellectual disability and learning disorders, according to the collaborative organization Project TENDR (1). The group identifies these seven pollutants that affect children’s development (2):
Combustion-related air pollutants, which include polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter
Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)
If you have dust in your home—and if you don’t, seriously, what’s your secret?—chances are you’re being exposed to toxic chemicals. In a 2016 meta-analysis of the composite of dust in U.S. homes, researchers reported that “some phthalates, fragrance, flame retardants and phenols are consistently found in 90 percent or more of dust samples across multiple studies” (3).
As scary as all this sounds, we’ve got you covered!
“It’s pretty normal if this all starts to feel a little daunting when you first begin to look into it,” assures Katie Hussong, a registered nurse and holistic health and culinary nutrition coach in Baltimore. “The best approach, I think, is to focus on one thing at a time, to really take the time to understand it, and then to create a healthy swap. Little by little, these small changes can have a huge impact, and it can be an incredibly empowering and enjoyable process.”
So how can we reduce our exposure to harmful chemicals? Here are some smart, simple ways to eliminate toxins at home.
How to Detox Your Home
Learn what you’re facing. “Most folks simply don’t realize how harmful so many products and practices can be,” Hussong says. “We shouldn’t have to think about the chlorine and fluoride in our water or how the germs on our shoes, the closed windows and excessive time spent indoors, or the harmful endocrine disruptors in our favorite skincare, haircare, deodorant, perfume, cookware, cleaners, candles and furniture are all negatively impacting our health.”
Scan your home and make note of potential toxins. You can check the ingredients in your personal care and cleaning products on websites like the Environmental Working Group (EWG). Figure out the biggest offenders in your home, then make a plan to address them one step at a time.
Tackle your personal products. Sunscreen, toothpaste, face wash, lotion—anything you put on or in your body should be detoxified first since it gets directly absorbed. This can seem like an expensive proposition, but focus on one swap at a time. As you use up one product, replace it with a toxin-free alternative. Try using the Think Dirty app to find cleaner options.
Swap out your cleaning arsenal. “Harmful, hormone-disrupting, toxic, synthetic fragrances and chemicals are everywhere, and most of them come from the personal and cleaning products we bring into our homes with the best of intentions,” Hussong says. Eliminate chemical products as you finish them up. Use the EWG list or make your own non-toxic cleaners. Use wet rags to collect dust instead of spraying an unnecessary, chemical-laden dusting product. Make sure your vacuum has a HEPA filter.
Toss your dryer sheets. “In the laundry room, get rid of those dryer sheets (one of the most toxic items in our homes) today,” Hussong advises. As an alternative, she suggests purchasing (or making your own) organic wool dryer balls. “It’ll cost you less than $20, and they’ll last you years and years. You can also add essential oils to the balls for your own real fragrance, courtesy of Mother Nature. It’s easy to DIY your own laundry detergent and fabric softener, too, if you’re up for it.” You can also use vinegar for a fraction of the cost.
Eat clean. Choose fresh fruits and veggies that have lower levels of pesticides. EWG has created shopper’s guides to help identify which produce you should buy organic and which are safe to buy conventional.
Furnish wisely. When it’s time for a new sofa, or you’re decorating your child’s bedroom, look for products that don’t have toxic flame retardants (4).
Use essential oils. “Because of their many diverse properties—antimicrobial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, soothing, uplifting, cleansing, etc.—we can use high-quality, ethically-sourced essential oils to replace so much of the toxic stuff we bring into our homes, slather onto our bodies, and put into our air, and it can be easy, fun, and super cost-effective,” says Hussong, who is also a doTERRA Wellness Advocate.
Purify the air. Make sure your HVAC, vacuum, air filter and so on utilize HEPA filters. Open windows on a nice day to let fresh air in—and toxic air out. You can also harness nature’s air purifier—plants!—by scattering them around the home. Or, work in essential oils. “Instead of that plug-in air freshener or candle laden with toxic hormone-disrupting chemicals, imagine being able to put a few drops of your favorite essential oils in the diffuser to shift the aroma, energy and mood of your home after a long day of work,” Hussong says. “As they diffuse, the natural antimicrobial properties of the oils will also work to cleanse the air of germs and odors.”
Creating a Healthy Home
Bottom line…yes, our homes are probably full of toxins. But, just like a detox or cleanse for your body, you can detox your home with these simple swaps. Make them one at a time to avoid burnout. Then, when you find one thing that works, keep it up, then shift your attention to the next offender on the list!
“That’s the beauty of the world of natural health. One door opens another, which opens another, and so on. It’s not about being perfect. It’s about progress and creating safe habits that support lifelong health, happiness and vitality,” Hussong says. “And here’s the thing: Once you know this stuff, you can’t un-know it. But there’s power in that, because as the great Ms. Angelou taught us, we do the best we can until we know better. And then, when we know better, we do better.”
They say you can tell a lot about a person by their eyes. And these days, that worries me.
For starters, although I sometimes forget I’m not 25, my eyes don’t—they remember each and every one of their 33 years, and have some pesky fine lines to prove it. There’s a little extra damage thanks to a history of fake-bake tans (forgive me—I went to prom in 2002) and one Legitimate Wrinkle that I blame on a super-stressful “Game of Thrones” finale (I call him Jean-Luc—he’s actually kind of charming once you get to know him). As for the puffy dark circles, I suspect those have something to do with my 10-month-old daughter, who has endless amounts of energy despite napping once every other week.
I do what I can. I get the occasional facial, moisturize on the regular, mask on the weekends, and recently bought a very expensive “miracle broth” lotion from a very expensive-looking French woman. That said, there’s plenty of room for improvement—which is how I ended up with a jade roller.
What Is a Jade Roller?
The latest gadget to hit Instagram #selfcare vanities, jade rollers are hand-held facial massagers crafted from their namesake gemstones. Although the origin story is hazy, according to Internet beauty lore, women in China have been using them since ancient times to promote circulation, increase lymphatic drainage, and stimulate anti-inflammatory properties in the skin. More recently, celebrity makeup artists began name-dropping jade rollers a couple of years ago, citing the tiny tools as the secret behind bright, youthful eyes (see also: Botox). Fast-forward to 2018, and they’re on the beauty VIP list.
These days, you can buy a jade roller pretty much anywhere with a decent assortment of skincare products. Big-box stores sell versions for under $10, while higher-end department stores stock models that run close to $75; I chose a mid-priced $25 roller with impressive online reviews. Made from natural jade, it promised to “help reduce fine lines, minimize pores, and tighten the skin” as well as “assist the lymphatic system by helping drain lymphatic fluids and toxins.”
Putting the Jade Roller to the Test
I’ll try anything once—especially for $25—so I was excited to put it to the test. The instructions recommend using it in the morning and evening for up to 10 minutes per session, which is a little longer that I usually devote to skincare (as in, 9 minutes longer). But in the name of science—and Jean-Luc—I resolved to commit to the routine for a week.
First things first: I washed my face and applied my usual eye serum and moisturizer (some say jade rollers massage these in deeper so your skin soaks up the benefits). Then I got to rolling. Starting at my neck, I rolled upward and outward as recommended using gentle pressure. Allegedly, this motion best stimulates circulation and toxin removal, but toxins or no toxins, common sense dictates that you never want to pull down the skin on your face—especially in your mid-30s.
Although 10 minutes was a bit of a stretch, I immediately bonded with my new jade roller—as it turns out, my face has been begging for a massage. My skin didn’t look any different after one session, but my entire face felt refreshed and relaxed. Even my forehead and eyebrows—which are always conspiring to furrow—took it easy for the morning.
About halfway through the week, I began popping the roller in the fridge, as many advanced beauty buffs advise. The idea is that the cool stone will better treat puffiness, similar to how ice reduces swelling. While I can’t say that I noticed any immediate difference, it did feel amazing, especially in the morning, and my jade roller earned a permanent spot next to the orange juice.
By the end of the week, I had to admit what I had begun to suspect: the aesthetic difference was minimal. I did notice a slightly more even skin tone immediately after rolling, but that didn’t seem to last into the day. My eyes may have appeared a little less puffy, but an extra hour of sleep probably would have done a better job.
To confirm, I asked my boyfriend the question that every man dreads: “Do you notice anything different about me?” He panicked, took a long scan of my face, and told me my hair looked great. Was it a bad answer? No. But it wasn’t a great endorsement for my jade roller, either.
Despite the time commitment, I enjoyed jade rolling—so much so that I only missed one session, which is more than I can say for every other step of my haphazard skincare routine!
Eyebrows frame your face. They’re one of the first facial features people notice when they look at you, so it’s always nice to define or highlight them. I want to share with you a really natural, easy eyebrow tutorial that you can’t go wrong with. Let’s get into it!
The first thing you want to do is use a spoolie to shape your eyebrows and brush them into place. I like to feather mine a bit in the front, because I find it makes them look more natural. This will also show you where you have holes in your eyebrows. This is where you want to fill in with an eyebrow pencil.
I’m using my Saint Cosmetics eyebrow pencil in Tantalizing Taupe. Start in the front of your brow and wiggle the pencil around, filling in any bare spots and creating your shape. Keep in mind, you want to use very light brush strokes.
Follow the growth of your eyebrow hairs to get the most natural look. If you have thinner brows, you can extend the tail of your eyebrow out a bit with your pencil. I don’t usually do that because I am doing pretty good in the eyebrow department, if you see what I mean!
If you do have bare spots, you can go back in with your spoolie and lift up to see if there are any other areas you’d like to add more product to.
As a basic rule of thumb for a nice eyebrow shape, you want to follow this little guideline. The front of your brow should line up with the inner corner of your eye. The arch, or the highest point of your brow, should line up with the outer edge of your iris. And the tail end of your eyebrow should match up with the outer corner of your eye. You don’t have to follow this exactly, but it’s definitely a great reference when you’re just starting out. (Makes me feel like I should have paid attention in math class when they taught arcs and slopes in geometry!)
Once you’ve filled in your brows, you can go back in with your spoolie again to make sure everything is flowing nicely. If you want a more precise, polished brow, you can add a little concealer underneath. If you’re not in a time crunch, you can always follow up with a clear brow gel to help hold them in place. It’s literally like a hairspray for your eyebrows!
And that’s it! I hope this leaves you with a great set of eyebrows. These are going to stay on all day and make you look great!
What natural or vegan eyebrow products do you love right now? Let me know in the comments below!
Hawaii becomes first state to ban sunscreens containing harmful chemicals like oxybenzone and octinoxate
Legislators hope this move will protect endangered coral reef
Remembering to slather on some sunscreen is vital when you are going to be exposing your skin to sunlight for long durations. While the importance of sunscreen has been well-researched by scientists for years, leaders in Hawaii are hoping recently-passed legislation will make the products safer for the environment.
Though sunscreen helps to protect the skin from melanoma, skin damage and an array of other conditions, many brands contain dangerous toxins that can have a seriously negative impact on the environment. In Hawaii, where tourists and locals alike use copious amounts of sunscreen, the chemicals have found their way into the water.
In recent years, researchers have discovered oxybenzone and octinoxate, two active ingredients in most sunscreen brands, in the water surrounding the chain of islands. Worst of all, oxybenzone and octinoxate have been linked to causing serious, lasting damage to coral reefs(1). According to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, coral reefs around the world are dying from a number of human-related causes. Without an active coral reef, the ecosystems surrounding Hawaii will fall apart and lead to serious issues with local flora and fauna, and even run the risk of damaging Hawaii’s tourist scene.
By banning sunscreens that contain oxybenzone and octinoxate, Hawaii legislators hope to undo some of the damage and become the first state to make lasting change on this front. “Everyone has come together to support this legislation, from local nurses and doctors, to resorts and airlines, as well as the entrepreneurial spirit of new sunscreen companies to supply reef-safer products,” Craig Downs, the executive director of the Haereticus Environmental Laboratory, told TheNew York Times.
With summer around the corner, many consumers will be purchasing sunscreen in the coming months. To remain a smart shopper and do your part to protect the oceans, you want to opt for brands that do not contain harmful agents like oxybenzone or octinoxate. Use a discerning eye to find brands that contain chemical alternatives like titanium oxide or zinc oxide. It can also be helpful to educate yourself on ways to protect your skin with natural sunscreen.
Dry, flaky skin on your face and around your mouth can cause irritation and discomfort. If you’re suffering from this condition, medically referred to as xerosis, you’re not alone. According to research from the International Society of Dermatology, over 40 percent of Americans claim to have dry or sensitive skin (1).
“Dry skin is characterized by an impaired skin barrier, which allows increased water evaporation from the skin’s surface,” says Dr. Mara Weinstein, assistant professor of dermatology and dermatologic surgery at the University of Rochester Medical Center. “A regimen tailored to nourish dry skin should involve protecting and replenishing the skin’s lipids.”
Dry skin is caused by a variety of factors including aging, changes in the weather, and certain skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis, which are characterized by flaky, red patches. If you want to boost moisture levels and effectively heal dry skin on your face, follow these simple steps.
Dry Skin Roadmap: Essential Steps to Take
1. Use an oil- or cream-based cleanser. “I advise people with dry skin to start with an oil-based cleanser,” says Dr. Kachiu C. Lee, assistant professor of dermatology at Brown University. “It is less likely to strip your skin of natural oils compared to a water-based cleanser.”
When choosing a cleansing product for dry, flaky skin, avoid foaming cleansers and gel-based options. “Foams and gels tend to be alcohol-based,” says Weinstein. “Foaming cleansers contain detergents, which strip our skin of its normal lipids.”
2. Wash with warm water. Turning the faucet to a hot-water setting is not conducive to treating dry skin. Instead, make sure the water is mild before cleansing your face. “Hot water removes your natural skin oils more quickly,” Weinstein says. “Warm water is best.”
3. Use an antioxidant-based facial oil. Lee suggests applying a facial oil every morning as an important step before moisturizing. “I recommend facial oils that contain vitamins C and E since these antioxidants also help to protect against sun damage,” she says. “The key is to seal in these oils with a moisturizer on top.”
4. Choose your moisturizers carefully. The most important step in any dry-skincare routine is to moisturize in the morning prior to applying makeup and at night before going to bed. But not all moisturizers on the market will work for dry skin. Dr. Rebecca Tung, chair of the division of dermatology at Loyola University Chicago, recommends looking for moisturizers that contain natural oils such as argan oil, coconut oil and shea butter. Other natural ingredients such as hyaluronic acid and plant-derived glycerin can also help the skin retain moisture, she says.
Make sure your daytime moisturizer contains SPF, or apply sunscreen prior to applying makeup. This simple step will “slow the development of fine lines and wrinkles and prevent premature aging, brown spots, blotchiness, and uneven skin tone,” Weinstein says.
At night, your best bet is to find an emollient-rich moisturizer with ceramides, which are natural lipids found in the skin. “Ceramides help to repair our skin’s lipid barrier and also put some moisture back into the skin,” Lee says.
5. Use Vaseline for tough-to-treat dry patches. “If your moisturizer isn’t working and you have persistent dry patches, Vaseline can help to heal the dryness,” Lee says. It’s especially helpful if you have flaky, peeling skin around the mouth or extremely chapped lips. If your mouth area is dry, Lee suggests using Vaseline as an overnight treatment. Just make sure to apply it sparingly, she says, since Vaseline can lead to clogged pores.
Precautions When Treating Dry Skin
If you have dry skin or suffer from eczema, there are certain skincare ingredients you should avoid. “I would not recommend highly fragranced [products] or those with high concentrations of exfoliants, such as hydroxy acids, because they may actually bring out dryness and inflammation,” says Tung.
And be extra cautious when choosing anti-aging moisturizers and serums, because ingredients such as retinol can further dry out your skin. “Tread lightly with anti-aging products,” she adds. “If you have dry or sensitive skin, some products your friends rave about may be too irritating for you and can actually inflame your skin rather than making it appear more youthful.”
Finally, with any skincare routine, it’s important to closely monitor how your skin is reacting to different products and ingredients. “If you’re breaking out with acne, rashes or redness, it’s time to switch up the routine,” Lee says. “You may be over-stressing your skin with too many products, clogging pores or causing irritation.” If problems persist, schedule an appointment with your dermatologist to find a solution that works for you.
Beards can totally change your appearance and are a great way to further express your personal style. Whether you’re going for a corporate or castaway look, it’s important to support that look with regular attention. Here are my five beard care commandments to ensure you put your best face forward.
Brush Your Beard
To keep your beard looking nice and neat, you’ll need to brush and comb it on a daily basis. I use a natural, boar bristle brush for my beard, which stimulates the skin and promotes blood flow to the hair follicles. Then, I use a natural wood comb to finish it off.
Trim Your Beard
Even if you’re trying to grow out your beard, you still need to trim it periodically for maintenance. I trim my beard a few times a week, because I like to keep it at a certain length and keep it looking sculpted. I don’t use clippers on my beard, because it doesn’t give me the look that I want. I just trim it with scissors to manage unwanted flyaways and take a little bit off the sides and bottom. One of the most common mistakes is shaping your beard to your jawline instead of your neckline. Find your neckline by placing your finger on your Adam’s apple and go from there!
Oil Your Beard
Beard oil helps nourish the hair and keeps it soft and smooth. I oil my beard at night before I got to bed, and I also oil it after I get out of the shower in the morning to help my hair and skin retain moisture. I use Every Man Jack hydrating beard oil in Cedarwood—it smells awesome. Avoid beard products containing alcohol, as they can dry out your hair and skin.
Wash Your Beard
Although beard hair is coarser than head hair, it’s still hair and needs to be washed. A little bit of conditioner won’t hurt either. I wash my beard three times a week to keep it clean and polished.
Take Supplements for Your Beard
If you’ve never tried growing a beard because you think you’d have trouble, supplements can help. I take LuckyVitamin Pure Collagen powder twice a day as my new protein supplement. I used to take whey proteins and plant proteins, but now I’m sticking with collagen. It’s a great protein source, and you get all the added benefits of healthy hair and skin. I also take two tablets of LuckyVitamin Hair, Skin & Nails formula daily. It’s got a great dose of biotin, plus 24 other ingredients to help support hair growth.
So, those are my five beard care commandments. I used to be a guy who thought he couldn’t grow a beard, and look at me now! You too can grow a thicker, healthier beard by following these easy tips.
As tempting as it is to bask in the sun on a warm summer day, you’ll want to protect yourself from its rays every time you head outdoors.
The best way to prevent a sunburn, of course, is to not get one in the first place. But we all know that things happen, even to the savviest SPF advocates.
As soon as you notice a burn, cover up, head inside and try one of these natural healing remedies:
The Right Moisturizer
Dr. Jeremy Wolf, LuckyVitamin’s lead health advisor, recommends using calendula lotion to treat sunburns or even urtica urens, a plant-based cream that can be used to treat first-degree burns.
Stacey Rex, creator and owner of Pure Stella Skin Care in North Carolina, suggests using aloe vera to soothe and hydrate sunburned skin. If possible, she recommends using aloe straight from the plant, but it can also be used in a gel or lotion.
In addition, Wolf cautions against using lotions or creams that contain petroleum, benzocaine, or lidocaine. Moisturizers with petroleum trap heat in your skin, he says, and benzocaine and lidocaine can also be irritating.
“Stick to moisturizers that are free from fragrances and preservatives, which may further irritate your skin,” Rex adds.
Florida-based beauty chemist David Pollock considers tea to be the greatest at-home remedy for sunburns.
“You can brew a strong pitcher of black tea using several tea bags, then bring it to room temperature,” says Pollock, founder of JustAskDavid.com. “The tannic acid in the tea will instantly restore the acidic nature of your skin, take out the stinging and help to prevent peeling.”
He suggests using a compress to dab the tea across your burn, or run a bath and pour the pitcher of tea into the tub to soak in.
Baking soda can have a similar soothing effect on sunburns. “It helps balance the pH of your skin to promote healing and soothe your skin,” Rex says.
Add a cup of baking soda to a cool or lukewarm bath and soak for 20 to 30 minutes, Rex says, or apply a paste of baking soda and water to clean skin with a cotton ball. Let it sit for up to 10 minutes before rinsing with cool water.
Like tea, white wine vinegar is acidic and can be used to soothe a sunburn naturally, Pollock says. (It just has a stronger smell.) In addition, Rex recommends using apple cider vinegar as a sunburn-treating solution.
“Mix equal portions of water and apple cider vinegar in a spray bottle and spray on skin,” she says. “I also recommend adding lavender essential oil; not only will it mask the vinegar smell, but lavender is also great for soothing burns and speeding up the healing process. You can also add a cup of vinegar to a warm (not hot) bath and soak.”
The acidic nature of yogurt is close to that of our skin and can help promote natural healing, Pollock says.
In addition, Rex says that the probiotics in yogurt help moisturize and reduce pain. “Make sure you find a plain, full-fat version, then apply to the skin, wait 10 minutes and rinse off in the shower.”
Hydrating Foods and Beverages
One of the most important things you can do to help heal a sunburn is to stay hydrated, Wolf says. Drink plenty of water, and even consider adding a scoop of electrolyte powder to your water bottle to maintain hydration, he says.
You can also consider trying certain foods to help ease your pain. “Snack on foods that are high in vitamin C, like oranges and watermelon, to promote healing,” Rex adds. “As an added bonus, they also help keep you hydrated.”
Though trends in the world of health and beauty might come and go pretty fast, there are some products that can withstand the tests of time. Castor oil, for example, has been used for so long that there is a ton of anecdotal evidence suggesting Egyptian ruler Cleopatra regularly relied on the oil to keep her skin and face fresh (1). Whether you’re presiding over an entire nation or you’re simply looking to get rid of some acne before a date, castor oil might be a great fit.
Take a look at some of the exciting ways you can incorporate castor oil into your daily routine. The more you learn about its benefits, the easier it will be for you to grab yourself a bottle and see for yourself.
1. Heal Your Skin
To begin, let’s look at the example of Cleopatra. In order to keep her face moisturized and protected against the harsh climates of Ancient Egypt, the ruler was said to have used castor oil regularly. There is a lot of scientific evidence to suggest that this would have been a very sensible move for anyone living in this region at the time. The fatty acids found in castor oil can do wonders for dry, irritated skin (2). The fatty acids keep the skin moisturized while simultaneously helping to heal any wounds or abrasions on the skin’s surface.
Several studies also suggest that castor oil can help to reduce inflammation of the skin. By using castor oil on your face, you might be able to reduce the odds of an acne breakout by reducing inflammation and encouraging healthy skin cell growth (3). For best results, rub a small amount of castor oil on your face before you go to bed. You can wash it off right away or leave it on until the morning. Some health experts suggest using a warm cloth to open the pores on your face before applying castor oil to see the best results.
2. Protect Your Hair
Your hair can also benefit from a bit of castor oil. As with your skin, the fatty acids found in this oil can help to keep your hair hydrated. These same fats reinforce hair follicles, making it far less likely you’re going to see breakage or feel like your locks are in an unhealthy place (4). You can also expect your scalp to benefit from using a bit of castor oil when you wash your hair. Some studies have suggested that you can lower the odds of developing dandruff by using a little of this oil (5).
The best way to use castor oil on your hair is as a conditioner. After washing, apply a small amount of the oil on your hair and vigorously rub it in. Start with warm water and slowly switch to a cold rinse. The colder water at the end helps to lock the oil into your hair. For best results, be sure to condition in this fashion two or three times a week.
3. Ease Stomach Troubles
Castor oil is also useful by the spoonful as a laxative. No matter how much time you dedicate to cultivating a healthy diet, there are plenty of surprises that can come along. When you find yourself feeling constipated, it can make you feel terrible and prevent you from going about your routine with the same vigor. Castor oil is perfect in this situation. The oil itself is a fantastic natural laxative, helping to encourage muscle movement in the intestines (6).
While there is a ton of evidence out there suggesting that castor oil can relieve constipation, there are also some drawbacks to stay mindful of. Using castor oil might actually be too much of a good thing when unblocking your system and cause diarrhea. If you go from being backed up to being in the bathroom every five minutes, you might want to reduce how much castor oil you’re using or try another method.
4. Dental Health
You might not like hearing it, but your mouth is swarming with bacteria (7). For the most part, the germs that lurk in the mouth are safe. Some simply exist on the tongue and teeth to encourage healthy digestion. Of course, you also want to get rid of most of this bacteria when you brush. Some substances that grow in the mouth can lead to serious dental issues like plaque. By swishing some castor oil around in your mouth before brushing, you can clear our some of this bacteria in an effective manner (8).
Castor oil is a simple product with a ton of uses. When you want to add an extra level of protection to your teeth, hair, and skin, this is definitely an option worth your consideration!
Got diarrhea? Take a probiotic. Irritated skin or acne? Again, probiotics. Bad breakup? Why not try a probiotic!?
There’s no denying that probiotics have a cult-like following. They’ve been taking over the supplement aisle for the past few years, thanks to a surge in research revealing the massive extent to which the health of our gut microbiome influences pretty much every other aspect of our health—from our mood to our digestion to our weight to our skin. Problems in these areas may arise when the “bad” bacteria in our gut start to outnumber the “good.” But some studies—and plenty of anecdotal accounts—suggest taking a probiotic supplement can ease health woes such as diarrhea, yeast infections, urinary tract infections and weight gain by fortifying your gut with good bugs and restoring balance.
But now, probiotics are extending their reach beyond supplements and into the snack, beauty and pet food aisles. Which begs the question, do you really need a probiotic face cream or granola? Or, uh…does your dog? Here, we reveal some of the more surprising new places that probiotics are popping up—and whether they live up to the hype.
Consuming probiotics via food used to mean opting for naturally fermented stuff like sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir and yogurt. But now, they can be found in everything from granola to popcorn to chocolate. Essentially, probiotics can be added to anything edible.
Nearly all probiotic-enhanced packaged foods today contain GanedenBC30, which is a proprietary preparation of the probiotic strain Bacillus coagulans (1). The good news: Research has shown that this type of probiotic protects itself in a spore-like casing that allows it to withstand (at least to some extent) the manufacturing process, time spent on a shelf and the acidic conditions of your stomach (2). Meaning, it actually stands a chance of reaching and colonizing your gut.
But does it help you once it gets there? After all, not every probiotic strain treats every ailment. Some studies suggest GanedenBC30 has promising digestive benefits and can reduce symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), including gas and bloating (3) and diarrhea (4). But still, it’s very difficult to know just how beneficial these probiotic-enhanced foods actually are in reality, says Jen McDaniel, RDN, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. A lot of that depends on whether there’s enough present in the food to begin with (1 billion CFUs is a good minimum number to aim for, she says). But because many foods don’t list a probiotic quantity on the nutrition label, it’s often a bit of a gamble.
Probiotic Waters and Teas
When you think of a probiotic-packed drink, you probably think of kombucha, which naturally contains gut-friendly bugs. But now, you can find probiotics in beverages like flat and sparkling waters, and even in tea bags.
Like probiotic-enhanced foods, many (if not all) of these drinks contain the probiotic strain GanedenBC30. So the benefits are likely to be the same. However, based on our research (aka scrutinizing lots of labels), bottled drinks are more likely to list the number of probiotic CFUs on the package than foods or tea bags, with counts ranging from 2 to 4 billion CFUs at time of manufacture. If you do opt for one of these drinks, just be sure it’s not loaded with sugars, artificial sweeteners or any other questionable ingredients that could counter the probiotic health benefits.
Bottom line: Both foods and drinks containing added probiotics could potentially be beneficial, but probiotic supplements and foods or drinks naturally rich in probiotics likely offer more bang for your buck, says McDaniel.
Probiotic Face Creams and Body Lotions
Turns out, our skin has its own microbiome that’s teeming more than 1 trillion bacteria, many of which are beneficial and help keep your skin clear, vibrant and healthy. But if your skin’s microbiome is out of whack (say, from harsh cleansers or a poor diet), this can compromise your skin’s natural barrier, which could result in painful and embarrassing skin conditions such as acne, rosacea and eczema, according to Whitney Bowe, MD, clinical assistant professor of dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Medical Center and the author of The Beauty of Dirty Skin (5).
Bowe believes that increasing the variety of healthy bacteria species on the skin can help reduce inflammation and minimize these conditions, and that one way to do this is via quality probiotic-enhanced skincare products (6). A few beneficial bugs to look for in skincare products: Streptococcus thermophilus, which may help retain moisture (7); Bifidobacterium, which may help reduce skin sensitivity (8); and Lactobacillus plantarum, which may help prevent acne (9). Just make sure that the other ingredients in these products are gentle and preferably natural—no harsh chemicals, which will only compromise your skin’s barrier further.
So, if probiotics are good for your face, are they good for your pits? There are a bunch of new probiotic deodorants on the market promising fresh underarms without the chemicals. How it supposedly works: The good bacteria in the deodorant fights off the bad, odor-causing bacteria in your armpits, leaving you fresh as a daisy (or something like that). Unfortunately, there are no studies proving this benefit, and the strains of bacteria used in these deodorants (typically Lactobacillus acidophilus) aren’t naturally found on the skin—so, odor experts say, their deodorizing effects would likely be very short-lived (10). And who wants to reapply five times a day? If you’re looking to use a more natural deodorant, that’s cool…there’s just no obvious reason to make it one that contains probiotics.
Probiotic Supplements for Dogs
Probiotics for dogs are a thing now, too. And the research is promising. In a 2016 study, dogs given a probiotic supplement containing various strains of Lactobacillus bacteria maintained their appetite and recovered faster from a bout of acute diarrhea than dogs given a placebo (11). There were also fewer pathogens in the feces of the probiotic-treated dogs, making them less likely to pass on this harmful bacteria to other dogs. In another study, dogs with diarrhea that received a specific strain of Bifidobacterium animalis recovered faster and were less likely to need antibiotic treatment compared to the placebo pups (12). Many vets agree that probiotics are harmless for dogs and likely offer some digestive benefits (13).
While bugs aren’t inherently evil, they can be harmful. Not only can they sting or bite, they can also spread disease.
When summertime rolls in, you can’t help but run for the store-bought bug spray for repel, relief and rescue, but there is a safer option that is chemical-free and just as effective: DIY bug spray!
Benefits of Homemade Bug Spray
That’s right, you can totally make your own bug spray using natural ingredients (like apple cider vinegar and witch hazel) and essential oils. And the best part is, your homemade solution can also nourish your skin while it repels these pesky critters. Plus, it’ll smell better than traditional bug sprays.
Essential Oils That Repel Insects
“Many essential oils have properties that are known for repelling insects,” says Jessica Klingbaum, certified aromatherapy specialist. Consider using the following for your homemade concoction: arborvitae, cedarwood, cinnamon, citronella, clove, geranium, lemongrass, spearmint, peppermint, rosemary and thyme.
There are also some oils that are said to be more effective in repelling specific kinds of insects, Klingbaum adds. For example, citronella, peppermint, lemon, lemongrass, geranium and lavender repel mosquitoes. Grapefruit, juniper berry, thyme and oregano can keep ticks at bay. For spiders, you can use peppermint, melaleuca, eucalyptus and cinnamon.
Vanilla is a great addition to any bug spray because it not only will make it more effective, it’ll also add a nice aroma, Klingbaum says.
Klingbaum warns that essential oils are volatile and aromatic compounds can dissipate fairly quickly. “It’s very important to have a fixative ingredient, like fractionated coconut oil, to help keep the essential oils on the skin longer,” she says. Doing so will then help to increase the efficacy of the bug spray and help it last longer.
DIY Bug Spray Recipe
Ready to make your own bug spray? Here’s a recipe from Klingbaum, founder of BeHipandHealthy.com: Start with a 4-ounce bottle. Add 2 ounces of fractionated coconut oil and 2 ounces of distilled water. Then, add 30-40 drops of essential oils in any blend that you prefer from the list above. And voila! It’s that easy!
Tending to your own needs can often be the last thing on your mind. Life is loaded with responsibilities, obligations and things you really don’t want to do but do out of necessity. In-between long hours at work and running endless errands, you probably find yourself feeling frustrated that you don’t give yourself the same level attention as you do to, say, paying your bills. While taking care of your utility costs is essential, so is taking time to focus on yourself and engage in a bit of self-care (1).
Most people go about their days without taking a second to stop and wonder whether they are doing what is best for their bodies, minds and spirits. The problem is so prevalent, that researchers have spent years analyzing how a lack of attention to the self can be damaging to people who work in medical and legal fields (2). Luckily, figuring out a solution is as simple as remembering to take care of some of the basic functions of your body.
Here are five simple ways to make time for self-care.
1. Be Mindful
The first tip on how to practice self-care cuts right to the core of the matter: mindfulness. Purposefully focusing on the present moment is one of the most difficult tasks a person can be asked to perform, even though it only requires stopping actions and thoughts for a few minutes. Mindfulness might be hard to achieve because “our brains really like stimulation,” wrote Gary L. Wenk, professor of neuroscience, immunology and medical genetics at Ohio State University, in Psychology Today (3). Biologically, the human mind responds well to stimulation. Sadly, this information is also used a lot with creating advertisements.
While marketing professionals and the media as a whole assume bombarding the senses with videos, images and text is the best way to grab attention, all of the noise might be in vain. According to several studies conducted in recent years, the same over-stimulation distracting you from mindfulness may actually make people less likely to buy products or further research services (4). If you can wade through the madness and find a moment of serenity, you’re heading in the right direction for self-care.
2. Pinpoint Problems and Distractions
Distractions are a problem to both mindfulness and the idea of self-care. The more your attention is split between different tasks, the more impossible it becomes for you to slow down and focus on the present. Though you might not be able to actively change the world and how many distractions are thrown at you in a single day, you can definitely do your best to keep your head above the water. You simply need to get into the right habits and stick with them.
What distracts you individually is going to be different than what distracts someone else. The first step toward eliminating what breaks your focus is by figuring out the exact culprits. If you tend to laze in front of the television and watch endless streaming programs after work when you should be focused on yourself, the problem is somewhat evident. Pinpoint your biggest distractors and work toward cutting back on these habits or eliminating them altogether. You might really want to binge that show, but you’ll feel better taking care of your own needs before anything else.
3. Eat Better Food
OK, so this is going to sound obvious: you need to eat better. While most people try to pay attention to the ingredients in what they buy or want to know the source of meat or produce, these details are not as important to your diet as the actual act of eating. You definitely want to make sure you don’t eat too many processed foods, sure, but it is more important to eat something when your body gives you the impulse. Eating when you’re hungry, regardless of the meal, might help your body create energy and regulate hunger overall (5).
The reason for this is simple: survival. Your body is designed to work the best when it is being given sustenance and nourishment. Ignoring hunger pangs because you can’t find organic options is working against your health in subtle ways. Unless you always have access to the specific snacks and meals you prefer, you need to make compromises now and again for the benefit of your health. This doesn’t mean you need to hit fast food when you feel pangs of hunger, you just need to remember you might not find exactly what you want.
4. Take a Stroll
Getting out of your house is also a fantastic move to make when you want to practice a little bit of care. Some people enjoy the great outdoors and some people find all the fresh air to be too much. Regardless of where you fall on the spectrum, there is overwhelming evidence to suggest taking a walk outside can do wonders for your wellness. The act of walking is enough to engage your cardiovascular system and keep oxygenated blood flowing (6), but that is only the beginning.
In Japanese culture, there is a popular activity known as forest bathing (7). Essentially, the mentality behind this action is to simply exist within a forest and see how it improves a person’s mood, ability to think and overall health. Research on forest bathing suggests it can do wonders for a person’s overall feelings of wellness (8). Some studies believe this actually has to do with the green found in the leaves of each tree (9). No matter the reason, experiencing a bit of nature for your health seems like a sensible choice.
5. Get Sleep
The idea of getting extra sleep can be laughable to people who have packed schedules. Still, the whole point of this article is to remind you to take care of yourself! No matter how busy you might be, you absolutely must get a full night of rest. Consistent sleep is incredibly important to your physiology. Without ample sleep, you are increasing the odds of developing a number of psychological and cardiovascular disorders (10). You might even die far sooner by pushing sleep off (11). Whatever you need to do can actually wait when the time comes to snooze.
If you have a difficult time sleeping, there are plenty of tactics to explore. Essential oils might be the natural, effective solution you have been searching for. As long as you stay aware of the importance of sleeping, eating and engaging in healthy practices, you are going to have a far easier time showing yourself the self-love you deserve.