NuFace For a New Face

giphyAging can be super scary, and unfortunately, a lot of people go to the wrong places to try and reverse the signs of their time on earth. Here I review an alternative to needles and scalpels, the NuFace microcurrent device.

If you aren’t familiar, microcurrent devices are like a boot camp for your face muscles, unlike Botox which literally freezes them in place. It sends waves of current through your skin similar to the current already present in our body to wake up collagen and elastin production. The treatment doesn’t hurt at all and does not leave your face red or burning and it’s something you can do for five minutes a day or more. The catch is, you have to keep up with it, they recommend five times a week for the first 60 days and then you can start ramping down, but honestly, with the results I’ve had, I will use it each and every single day for the rest of my life.

giphy2Every morning after washing my face with a non-oil based exfoliator (oil will block the microcurrent!), I apply my eye cream and the NuFace Booster Copper Complex. Then I use my NuFace for five minutes and follow up with the rest of my routine. The NuFace has honestly shocked me with how well it works, I am only 31 years old but I have started to get a few lines on my forehead and smile lines that were bothering me. I’ve been using the NuFace for over a month now and I know that with continued use I can push the hands of time, the lines that have been taunting me are almost completely smoothed out. I’ve also noticed that my cheekbones have been more defined and my skin tone is glowing!

The NuFace also helps with product absorption, so using your favorite serums before a session will amplify them that much more. One caveat is that you need to use a conductive gel while using the NuFace to help the device glide on your skin and to allow the microcurrent to reach your skin. The gel primer that comes with the device has to be rinsed off which doesn’t work if you want to layer your serums underneath. They do have a hydrating leave-on gel primer but it burned a little on my face. I started using an aloe vera gel with vitamin C which does not need to be rinsed off and allows me to layer my serum underneath.

giphy3Adding this simple step to your day can really reverse many signs of aging and make your skin glow. I tried the device on my mother when she was in town and it did wonders for her mature skin in just three days. It does take commitment and a well-rounded beauty routine to get the best results along with continued use. The results were enough to convince me to use it daily so that I don’t have to meet men on my back like Blanche here.

Have you tried a microcurrent device facial? Do you think it’s worth the time, money and effort?

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Best of Body: What I Love

Yes, this looks like a lot of stuff and yes I use almost all of them daily because I am obsessed with pampering myself because if I don’t who will? Little luxuries like these don’t have to be expensive, but the time you dedicate to keeping your skin and body happy and healthy is priceless.

giphy7Body Lotion – Your skin is your largest organ, and it does a lot to keep the good stuff in and the bad stuff out. It takes a lot of stress from the sun, heat, cold and wind all while keeping you safe and alive. Find a great body lotion to pay it back for all that hard work. If anti-aging is a concern for you, as it should be at any age, then the St Ives Renewing Body Lotion with Collagen Elastin is your new best friend. It smells like cucumber melon and can be found at any drugstore for a super reasonable price. It absorbs nicely and leaves your skin nice and hydrated. Another favorite of mine solely based on scent is the Hempz Original body lotion, I am a sucker for that floral banana smell!

Body Oil – I use a body oil on certain parts that need a little extra TLC. For me, that is the back of my upper arms and the back of my thighs and butt. I have a little bit of that pesky keratosis pilaris that manifests as little red, flaky bumps, so a good body scrub in the shower followed by Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula Skin Therapy Oil keep it all in check and help fade any scarring that can happen.

Bust Cream – I am by no means a big busted girl, but since the bust can show a lot of signs of aging, it’s not a bad idea to have a cream dedicated to tightening and firming that delicate skin. Again, Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula Bust Cream makes it easy to get familiar with your breasts and perform self-breast exams.

giphy6Self Tanner – Everyone needs a little boost in the cold, winter months. I only use self-tanner when my tan starts to fade in the late fall and when I need to start showing my legs again in the spring, and the Alba Botanica Sunless Golden Tanning Lotion is the perfect product to give you a chemical-free glow with a pleasant scent and no orange tone.

giphy8Body SPF – I was at a BBQ one summer and ambushed a girl to find out what she was using that smelled so good, turned out to be this Alba Botanica Hawaiian Coconut Dry Oil Sunscreen SPF 15 and I’ve been using it ever since. I love that it is in an oil form so I look great at the beach, and my skin feels and is very moisturized.

Hand Lotion – For a super moisturizing, non-sticky hand lotion without any icky ingredients AND supports a good cause, look no further than Out of Africa Shea Butter Hand Lotion. It comes in a variety of scents, but the Vanilla, Almond and Lavender are my favorites. With every Out of Africa purchase, you help provide education and medical care to children and women in West Africa.

Body WashDr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Liquid Soap in Tea Tree is by far my favorite body wash. The tea tree scent gives me that spa experience every time I shower, plus its antibacterial properties help with body acne. I got a pump for the bottle so it’s easy to dispense.

IMB_WaFhdz.gifBody Scrub – I like my super simple DIY Coffee Coconut Scrub, which is really just ground coffee, coconut oil and maybe some sugar if you’d like some more grit. You can totally customize the amount of oil to scrub to your liking! The caffeine works wonders on cellulite while the oil helps to moisturize while you exfoliate. You can add some essential oils if you’d like but the coffee and coconut combination is heavenly.

Body SprayRose Water is the best full body spray you will find. You can use it head to toe without worrying about any greasy feeling or getting oil all over your bathroom. It is very refreshing, hydrating and soothing for all skin types.

Deodorant – Native makes hands down the best all-natural, aluminum-free, effective deodorant on the planet. They come in great scents and they actually work.

Eczema CreamAvalon Organics Eczema Relief Body Cream helped me when I needed it the most late this winter when the skin on my arms and back decided to freak out and get all red and flaky. The colloidal oatmeal is soothing and made my skin feel like silk, I was tempted to use it all over!

Cellulite Cream – I am obsessed with the scent of this Sol de Janiero Bum Bum Cream. Not only does it smell good but it has some good things coming for your rear. Moisture is your booty’s best friend.

Foot Cream – Yes I use a foot cream nightly, I hate it when dry foot skin scratches against the sheets when I’m trying to sleep. Our feet do so much for us so we should repay them with a mini foot massage regularly. There are a few I’ve tried, and as long as they are pepperminty they’re all the same to me. Burt’s Bees Peppermint Foot Cream, J.R. Watkins Peppermint Rejuvenating Foot Cream and Out of Africa Peppermint Menthol & Tea Tree Foot Cream are all great options, the J.R. Watkins one may be the biggest bang for your buck though.

Foot Care – I have seen first hand how important it is to take care of your feet. You literally walk all over them every day all day and all they get in return is to be crammed in pointy high heels and exposure to athlete’s foot. There are a lot of preventative steps you can take to ensure that your feet are happy and healthy for a long time. YogaToes Gems are one of my favorite nighttime rituals, wear them for 10-15 minutes per day to give your feet a nice stretch and realign some common issues. Bunions, hammer toes and plantar fasciitis are all remedied with a little TLC.

tumblr_owkhsvp8qx1veenguo3_540FitnessClassPass needs no introduction as I am always talking about it. So many people get expensive gym memberships and then never go. This is beyond me, what a waste of money! Plus you aren’t going because you don’t want to go, so why pay for it in the first place? This is why ClassPass is genius, sign up for classes you want to go to, only pay for classes you actually go to and nothing in between. I have found my perfect balance of realistic and enjoyable types of classes at studios that I love to meet my fitness goals. Personally, that is ballet, hot yoga, dance, barre, row, kickboxing, rock climbing and booty boot camps.

What is your perfect class combo? Do you have any body care products that you swear by? Let me know!

Header Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

Best of Face: What I Love

This list is subject to change since new products and gadgets come out and I get obsessed with the newest thing, but the following are either products I’ve gotten from my beauty box subscriptions like BirchBox and Petit Vour, or just oldies but goodies that have never failed me.

giphy1Face Wash – I got a travel size of the OSEA Ocean Cleanser in the Follain Start Kit (which comes with an adorable travel pouch!) and I’ve been enjoying it so far. It definitely shows that it’s working with a bit of a tingling sensation if you leave it on too long, but my skin has really felt clean after using it. Another cleanser that I have had a good experience with is the Tarte Rainforest of the Sea Deep Dive Cleansing Gel.

Face ScrubSt Ives Exfoliate & Nourish Facial Oil Scrub is not the harsh scrub you’re thinking about. This is the oil version that is more gentle while still being effective, I use it every morning and the grapeseed oil leaves a nice moisturized barrier.

giphyFace Towel – It may seem silly to have a favorite face towel, but what you dry your face with 2+ times a day is pretty important! I got these Muslin face cloths and they are so soft, thin and gentle on my face. I also got a 10 pack so I can swap them out every few days which prevents me from using the same towel for too long (which I admittedly neglect to keep track of).

Face Wipes – I love the Simple Kind to Skin Facial Wipes but I hate that they don’t have a snap closure. For better packaging, I get the e.l.f. studio makeup remover cleansing cloths.

TonerThayers Alcohol-Free Witch Hazel in Rose Petal or Lavender gets your skin feeling clean without any stinging or dryness.

giphy2Face Spray – I always fall back on my basic Rose Water for a nice refreshing spritz, but I have a nice DIY face and body spray recipe that you can tailor to your skin. I have these tiny travel spray bottles to keep them with me on-the-go as well.

Face Mister – I am all about any gadget that will give me hydrated skin. This is essentially a portable humidifier that you can point directly at your face on-the-go, it will even take toners, rose waters and small amounts of viscous essential oils (so no carrier oils!) at an 80:20 water to oil ratio. Perfect for travel, your desk at work, the car etc!

giphy3Eye Cream – I will never stop singing the praises of the Juice Beauty Smoothing Eye Concentrate. I have seen a noticeable difference in the line around my eyes, smile lines and forehead lines.

Acne Serum for Day – The Evologie Intensive Blemish Serum is a nice, natural, multi-tasking serum that feels like a traditional acne serum. If you like a more nourishing, moisturizing balm then check out the Zabana Essentials Tamanu Calendula Face Balm, I got a sample of it from Petit Vour and I love it so much. I may even splurge and buy it when my sample runs out!

Retinol for Night – I’m basic and got a generic tretinoin prescription from my dermatologist. I use it every other day or else my skin starts to flake, but a retinol is imperative in the anti-aging journey.

Face Moisturizer – There are a lot of great moisturizers out there but Kiehl’s Skin Rescuer Stress-Minimizing Daily Hydrator really is a life-saver for angry skin. Its base ingredient is Squalane Oil which on its own is very calming for irritated skin.

Face Oil – I have read a few posts about how many oils that have a high concentration of polyunsaturated fats can harbor free radicals and further age your face, which to be fair there is a lot of debate about this. If it is true then a lot of our favorites oils, basically anything derived from a nut or seed (almond, rosehip seed, etc) is aging us while we use them. Now with proper use and storage of these oils, I don’t think there is much to worry about but to avoid it all together you can stick to jojoba oil (which is actually a wax), plant-derived squalane oil, vitamin e oil and coconut oil. This works for me because I happen to be a big fan of the Biossance Squalane + Vitamin C Rose Oil, but I also use Josie Maran Argan Oil when I travel when my skin is most compromised and my skin never looks better.

Face SPFJosie Maran Argan Daily Moisturizer SPF 47 with Sunboost ATB is so moisturizing that it doesn’t’ even feel like a sunscreen.

giphy4Face Mask – My favorite DIY face mask is simply blending Aztec Secret Indian Deep Pore Cleansing Healing Clay with either water or Apple Cider Vinegar if your skin needs some extra blemish targeting. Get it into a nice paste consistency and apply, it will dry and make your face look crazy, but while you rinse it off it acts as a nice exfoliant as well!

Lip Color – I don’t wear bright colors on my lips, so the Fresh Sugar Lip treatment in Nude with SPF 15 is my go-to. I’ve posted about this one before and it glides on so well, leaves the best nude color that matches my skin tone and a little goes a long way. Plus I love that it has SPF 15!

giphy5Lip Treatment – I have been using the Fresh Sugar Advanced Therapy Lip Serum with the Lip Treatment and my lips have been very happy, plump and moisturized.

Do you have any go-to face products or tools you can’t live without? Let me know in the comments!

Header Photo by Anna Sastre on Unsplash

Best of Hair: What I Love

I must admit that I don’t put a lot on my head styling wise, but I do have some favorites that I go back to every time I need to restock.

Shampoo – When I was home for the holidays my mom had this shampoo and conditioner set and my hair never felt better, especially when washing it in her well water. The Jason Natural Restorative Biotin Shampoo doesn’t have any fancy smell or cost a lot of money but it really does restore! The conditioner is great too but I have one I like a lot more…

Conditioner – The S-Factor Smoothing Conditioner smells so good and makes my hair feel amazing. I get it in big pump bottles from Marshalls or TJMaxx on the cheap.

L'Oreal Total Repair 5

Hair Mask – The L’Oreal Paris Advanced Haircare Total Repair 5 Damage-Erasing Balm hair mask is a great deal and really does feel like it erases years of damage from your hair.

Scalp Mask – I’ve perfected my DIY Scalp Mask and like to use it at least once a week to keep the hair coming out of my head nice and strong from the start.

giphy7For Bleached Hair – If you get your hair bleached at a salon, I hope they are using the Olaplex system. If you do it at home like I do, then buy it for yourself too. Olaplex no. 3 is the at-home version they can sell you in salons, it’s great to use as a hair mask every so often and the week before a color treatment to get your strands ready. It rebuilds the protein bonds in your hair, scientifically rebuilding the hair shaft. it is truly an incredible product and I would probably be bald without it.

Leave-In Oil – I love to use the L’Oreal Extraordinary Oil on dry hair before walking out the door. I have fine, damaged hair and it never weighs it down or makes it look greasy, but it seals up the split ends so that it looks a lot smoother.

Air Dried Waves – When I want to enhance my natural wave I use the DevaCurl Whip It Good Wave Maker Texture Whip to tame frizz and give volume.

Dry Shampoo – Alterna Caviar Anti-Aging Dry Shampoo is my favorite but it’s no longer available, when I’m done with the bottle I plan on trying the Bumble and Bumble Pret a Powder Shampoo to check out the hype!

giphy8Heat Protectant – This Suave Keratin Infusion Heat Defense Leave-In Conditioner is a super value option that won’t weigh your hair down and protects before you heat style.

Leave-In with SPF – Don’t forget that the sun can damage your hair just like it does your skin! In the summer I like to use Sun Bum 3 in 1 Leave-In Spray to protect my already fragile hair. Coconut Oil and Argan Oil also have natural SPF in them and are good for the hair! Slather some on at the beach as a hair mask, style and protection.

Alcohol-Free Volumizing Mousse – Anything with alcohol in it is going to be very drying on your hair, that’s why I like this TRESemme 4+4 Styling Mousse, it’s alcohol-free but still nice and foamy which gives me great volume and no sticky feel.

giphy9Hair Brush – I know it seems ridiculous to spend this much money on a hairbrush, but the Mason Pearson hairbrush is very gentle and detangles without pulling or tugging. My mom uses these wooden brushes and it’s like getting a scalp massage everytime you brush your hair. Also great if you suffer from static!

Do you have any hair products you can’t live without? Let me know!

Header Photo by Alex Blăjan on Unsplash

Winter vs Skin: How to Combat Dry Air

kfalpezWhether you are heating your home with central air or radiators, dry winter skin only gets worse once that heat kicks in. If you are lucky to live in a nice new home with a built-in humidifier then you may not know what I’m talking about, but living in an NYC apartment means I have noisy radiators. There is the bowl of water trick to disperse some humidity in the air with the heat, but mine are all covered up. I had to invest in a good humidifier to make my skin, sinuses and plants happy this winter.

IMB_kL23aq.gifI had a small essential oil diffuser which doubled as a humidifier, but once I got a larger bedroom it wasn’t cutting it anymore. I have since moved the small one to work which my co-workers are very thankful for. I did a lot of research and fell on this warm/cool mist humidifier by VAVA, not only does it look cool but it had all the features I wanted in a humidifier. It has a water filter but if you are concerned about the quality of your water the warm mist feature will take care of most of the impurities for you.

It also has a sleep mode to disable the screen light and sounds and a remote for all the controls. I have it running pretty much 24/7 and I have to refill it once a day. My plants seem to be suffering a little bit less and my lips aren’t as parched every morning. You’ll know it’s overkill if your rugs and carpets are damp or if your windows seem to be fogging up. If your bed is in a large living space, like say a studio, try to keep the humidifier close to your bed and on a higher surface, at least two feet from the ground.

If your face and sinuses seem to be suffering the most, you can also invest in a face steamer for a direct hit. I have this same facial steamer in pink which comes with a sinus attachment as well if you don’t want to smudge your eye make up. It boils water in the metal pan below and gives your face a nice steam facial, you can also add a drop of your favorite essential oil to make it an aromatherapy steam! Eucalyptus would be great for the sinuses while Lavender or Geranium would be lovely for the skin. I like to follow it up with a clay mask since the pores are open. Start with a clean face and use a toner after rinsing the mask to close the pores back up.

What do you do to combat dry air in your home? Any humidifiers or tools that changed your life?

Header Photo by Breather on Unsplash

The Order of Things

giphy5The Koreans have a 10-step beauty regimen that has become more of a lifestyle. Their obsession with perfect skin and the latest products has made the K-Beauty scene very popular, but how early are you willing to wake up to accommodate a sheet mask every morning? Below is a more realistic plan that can maximize the best products that are available to give you your best skin day every day.

Morning

1. Exfoliate

Exfoliate with a scrub to prep your skin for makeup, it is super important to exfoliate in some form every day. Just ask Beyonce’s dermatologist, I’ve been meaning to read his book!

2. Tone

Tone your face with a cotton round and alcohol-free witch hazel. This step makes it feel like my face is really truly clean.

3. Face Mist

Spray with DIY glycerin face mist, let dry. In the Korean 10-step routine, it is also imperative to never let your face dry, the mist is a good way to prevent that.

4. Eye Cream

Apply your favorite eye cream, I sing the gospel of Juice Beauty Smoothing Eye Concentrate, I also put whatever is leftover on my fingers on my laugh lines and forehead lines. They have honestly gotten smoother since I started using this eye serum.

5. Serum

Depending on your skin concerns, find a serum that works for you. I need one for acne, discoloration, hyperpigmentation and scarring like this one by Evologie Intensive Blemish Serum. I’ve been trying a lot of serums out lately from Birchbox and Petit Vour, I am a big advocate of trying as many samples as you can for a fair period of time in order to find what really works for you. There is something for every skin type!

6. Chemical Sunscreen

This only goes before your facial oil if you use a chemical sunscreen. It needs to be able to soak into your skin to be fully effective.

7. Face Oil

Oils seal in everything you layered on to your face and is why this is the last step (unless you use a mineral sunscreen). For day I like to use a face oil that has a natural SPF in it because, why not? Carrot Seed Oil and Red Raspberry Seed Oils both have naturally high SPF factors. This is also a good time to get in a little facial massage while applying and distributing your face oil!

8. Mineral Sunscreen

If you use a mineral sunscreen with zinc oxide for example, this needs to go on last. I would let the face oil absorb for a few minutes before applying. Mineral sunscreens work by physically blocking out the suns rays so it needs to sit on top! I have probably mentioned before, but the Josie Maran Argan Daily Moisturizer SPF 47 with Sunboost ATB is by far my favorite.

Night

1. Double Wash

The double wash is very important if you have makeup and/or sunscreen on. This shouldn’t be an exfoliant since they can push the grime and makeup from the day further into your pores. Take a nice sulfate-free face wash and do one thorough wash, rinse, then wash again! If you have acne concerns find one with salicylic acid, using the acid in a wash is better than in a cream since that can be very drying. This way the salicylic acid has a chance to get into your pores for a brief moment. The Neutrogena Naturals Purifying Facial Cleanser With Salicylic Acid is so gentle and removes makeup while clearing out pores.

2. Remove Eye Makeup

I know most will say to try and remove makeup before washing, but I like to get it wet so that it comes off more easily instead of tugging at my skin and delicate eye area with a face wipe. Once you wash and pat dry, then you can go in with a wipe and remove your eye make up thoroughly. I just focus on the eye makeup with the wipes and make sure the skin is clean in the next step.

3. Toner

Just like in the am, tone your face with a cotton round and alcohol-free witch hazel to make sure that your pores are not going to be bogged down by any dirt overnight under your hydrating serums and creams.

4. Face Mist

giphy15Spray with a face mist, I like to make my own DIY glycerin face mist with lavender and tea tree oil. After cleansing and toning it’s a nice step to start layering the humectants and get the skin hydrated. Let dry.

5. Eye Cream

I use the Juice Beauty Smoothing Eye Concentrate day and night. I like to apply it first before any serums since the eye area is so delicate and shouldn’t really have harsh retinols or serums applied.

6. Serum or Retinol

I alternate between my serum and retinol every other day since the retinol can make my skin pretty dry, especially in the dryer winter months.

7. Moisturizer

Find a nice hydrating moisturizer to work it’s magic overnight. I have a ton of samples I’m always trying to get through, but one of my favs is the Josie Maran Whipped Argan Oil Face Butter.

8. Face Oil

In the evening I opt for a nice thick oil like tamanu or squalane and do an extended face massage that extends down to my neck and chest. This Aura Cacia Organic Tamanu Face Oil Serum with lavender and tea tree oils is so nice to apply before bed. Another wonderfully luxurious option is the Biossance Squalane + Vitamin C Rose Oil.

Shower

I have been plagued by little bumps and pimples on my chest and back and for the longest time and I could not understand why. No amount of tea tree or salicylic acid would help. Turns out the order of things in the shower matters just as much as your routine once you get out.

giphy2If you are like me, you do most of your business in the shower while your conditioner is settling in on your head. This means you are rinsing your head last, and all that comes down from your head then settles on your back, shoulders and face. Conditioners have silicones and panthenol which can clog the pores on your skin. Get ready to have your mind blown.

Wash your face and body last.

Ever since I started doing this the back and chest acne has considerably gotten better. My routine now looks something like this (mind you I shower at night unless it’s after a ClassPass class on the weekend):

1. Wash Face

giphyWash face, shoulders and chest with salicylic acid face wash, I like this one by Neutrogena (the pump is convenient in the shower!). Remember we are double washing since I shower in the evening, second wash comes last. If It’s the weekend I’ll use a face scrub instead like St. Ives Coconut & Coffee Scrub, it’s pretty coarse so it is best used ~ once a week! It does smell like you mashed a slice of tiramisu on your face.

2. Shampoo

Any sulfate-free shampoo for your hair type works! If you are a blonde invest in a good purple or blue shampoo to use every other wash to keep those blonde tones bright.

3. Conditioner

One of my favorite conditioners is S-Factor Smoothing Conditioner, it smells like a green jolly rancher and makes your hair feel amazing.

giphy6Now normally I would have washed my body, washed my face again and fit in any other things like shaving or pumicing my feet, but now I needed to find something else to bide the time while my conditioner did its magic.

4. Body Scrub

I made a glorious DIY Coffee Coconut Body Scrub that I like to use on my thighs and butt, but any body scrub is a good time waster!

5. Miscellaneous

Pumice your feet! I literally do this every day in the shower and my feet look like a newborn’s. It may seem excessive but again it’s just another way to pass the time while your conditioner sits. This is a good time to shave as well (optional, especially in the winter).

7. Rinse Conditioner

Now we can rinse the conditioner and clip up your hair to move on.

8. The Final Wash

Wash your face again and then move on to your body, you want to work top down here to make sure you rinse all residue. Dr. Bronner’s Tea Tree Liquid Castille Soap is my jam, it will make your home smell like a spa and since tea tree is naturally antibacterial it will help with body acne!

9. The Final Rinse

Take hair down and do a full body cold rinse, this is great for the hair and seals your pores.

These all should be pretty self-explanatory but when you really break it down and pay attention it all makes so much more sense. Why spend so much money on all these products if you aren’t going to use them correctly? Any order life-hacks you have to offer? Let me know in the comments!

Header Photo by STIL on Unsplash

No Needle Lip Plumping

giphy24The key to working what you already got is hydration. Shocking right? The key to that youthful glow will always be hydration and preventing dehydration of your skin and lips. Drink plenty of water, stay out of the sun, don’t consume too much salt or alcohol. But there are also topical ways to keep lips plump and youthful.

Fresh Sugar Lip Line

IMB_7sbdmf.GIFI am obsessed with the lemon tart scent of Fresh’s Sugar lip line, they have an array of products that are absolutely worth the money with the way they make your lips look and feel. My all-time favorite is the Lip Treatment with SPF 15 in the color Nude. It has the perfect nude color to get you through the day. The Fresh Sugar Lip Serum Advanced Therapy is meant to be layered under a balm, it feels a little dry on its own. I’ve been using it after I brush my teeth morning and night, then follow it up with the Fresh Sugar Advanced Therapy Lip Treatment in the morning and the Fresh Sugar Lip Polish at night. The serum has really made a difference in how smooth my lips are. If balms aren’t your jam then they also have the Fresh Sugar Cream Lip Treatment that comes in a tube. To me, it has the same smell and consistency as the balms. If you like dipping your finger into a pot, the Fresh Sugar Caramel Hydrating Balm is a dream. There is a Fresh Sugar lip treatment for everyone!

Lip Masks & Exfoliants

These gel collagen lip masks are a nice pampering treat. I’m not too sure if they work, but they look cool and claim to seal in hydration and give a dose of collagen to your lip area. Fresh also has a Sugar Lip Polish that works great as a lip mask and exfoliant duo. As stated before I like to apply it over the Fresh Lip Serum right before bed, no need to rinse. If you wake up with flaky skin in the morning you exfoliate, and it shouldn’t be any different for your lips! You may have heard to take a basic toothbrush to exfoliate your lips, but I think they are too harsh for the delicate skin around your lips. I like to take these simple little silicone scrubbers and gently rub them over my lips after I apply my face oil to wipe away any dead skin. The stimulation also plumps and pinks!

DIY Lip Plumper

Many store-bought lip plumpers are too sticky and make very lofty claims for the price they are selling for. With a few ingredients, you can make one at home and customize for your needs, everything has to be edible since it’s going on your lips. Just grab an empty lip balm pot and follow along.

  • Honey is antibacterial and hydrating, it will also give this balm some consistency. Manuka Honey specifically is said to be a godsend for beauty and hydration though I have not tried it before. Any honey should do.
  • Vegetable glycerin is a great humectant and will make sure the balm lasts
  • Ground cinnamon will act as a bit of an exfoliant while also irritating your lips enough to plump and get all nice and rosy. Do not cinnamon oil since this can be too irritating.
  • Peppermint oil is optional and can be used in small amounts as a breath freshener. The oil will also act as an irritant to plump your lips.
  • Olive oil for moisture
  • Alcohol-Free Witch Hazel or Rose Water for mixing and consistency
  • Vitamin E is very nourishing and also acts as a preservative.

The following instructions are for a lip scrub and treatment. I like to put it on in the bath and let it sit while I soak. This is a little runnier and will set a bit on your lips once you stop scrubbing. You can adjust this recipe to fit your needs, for example, less ground cinnamon will not be as harsh of an exfoliant. Or more honey and less oils/rose water will be more of a balm.

  1. IMB_xucU3h.GIFPut equal parts ground cinnamon, olive oil and rose water or witch hazel in the bottom 1/4 of the pot. Add the optional peppermint essential oil here, but use very little! Mix with a fork.
  2. Fill half the pot with honey so you are at 3/4 of the way up. Mix well.
  3. Top it off with a few drops of vitamin e and vegetable glycerin. Mix a little then put the cap on and shake well before each use.

How do you keep your pout perfect? Any life-changing products I’ve missed?

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What Not To Wear: Ingredients To Avoid

giphy3There is nothing worse than looking at a favorite product and realizing it has sulfates or parabens or petrochemicals. Ever since I have become more conscious of the ingredient list on my beauty products I’ve been able to educate myself on what is worth using and what to toss or retire.

Petrochemicals

Petrochemicals can come in many forms: mineral oil, petrolatum, paraffin, petroleum, propylene, ethylene, butadiene, benzene or xylene. These are found in most candles, many beauty products such as Neosporin type gels and of course, Vaseline. The scary thing about petrochemicals is that they cannot be metabolized by your body, which means once they go in, they don’t come out. Ever. They just accumulate in your body, and on top of that they aren’t nourishing, are possible carcinogens, hormone-disruptors and they don’t let your skin breathe. There are so many alternatives out there, so pay attention to the labels and try to swap out any products with petrochemicals for ones that don’t mess with that ish.

Parabens

animated 4.GIFLook for any word ending in -paraben on a label and you will find a product that uses this hormone-disruptor as a preservative. It is usually found at the end of the ingredient list, which means the ratio is small, but still not worth risking. To my dismay one of my favorite angry, winter-skin products the Yu-Be Moisturizing Skin Cream for Dry Skin had parabens. I haven’t decided if I won’t replace the tube once it’s gone, you have to decide for yourself if it’s worth it to hold on to the products you love.

Sulfates

giphy3Sulfates are used as a foaming agent is many shampoos, face washes and hand soap. It strips the moisture out of your skin and scalp and can also make your hair color fade faster. It is very easy to find products that don’t have sulfates, it’ll usually be the second ingredient but most shampoos will advertise sulfate-free right on the bottle! Sulfate-free shampoos won’t be as foamy and it may feel like your hair isn’t getting squeaky clean, but this is better in the long run. I like to use a buildup removing shampoo every other wash since blonde hair likes to cling to the minerals in the water. Fairy Tales Lifeguard Clarifying Shampoo doesn’t have any nasty ingredients and smells like Juicy Fruit gum. You use the clarifying shampoo first then your regular shampoo and you’ll notice even if it’s sulfate-free the shampoo you follow up with will be very foamy. That’s because you’ve removed the product and mineral buildup and it can do its clean thing.

Aluminum

giphyAluminum is an ingredient found in most deodorants to serve as an antiperspirant. It does so by blocking your sweat glands from perspiring, which already sounds pretty bad since your body needs to be able to release some steam that way. It has also been linked to breast cancer and disrupts the lymphatic system, which is unfortunate given the proximity of the breasts to the armpit. I love these deodorants by Native, the scents are great and they are all-natural, effective and aluminum-free. While I have tried to make my own deodorant with coconut oil, arrowroot powder and essential oils, this stick is way more convenient.

Oxybenzone

giphy1Chemical sunscreens are very effective and convenient, but oxybenzone can contribute to cellular damage and hormone disruption. Mineral sunscreens are a great alternative but they require some more babysitting and reapplication. Chemical sunscreens work by being absorbed by your body while mineral sunscreens using, for example, zinc oxide, sit on your skin and block the rays that way. My fav mineral sunscreen is Josie Maran Argan Daily Moisturizer SPF 47 with Sunboost ATB. It is so moisturizing and does not feel or smell like a sunscreen at all.

Triclosan

giphy2Another hormonal nightmare, triclosan is often found in anti-bacterial washes, toothpaste and mouthwash. It also has been linked to having a negative environmental impact when it gets into the water supply on UV contact as well. My favorite triclosan-free toothpaste is Tom’s of Maine Luminous White, it has fluoride which my cavity-prone teeth need and whitens wonderfully.

While we’re on the topic of teeth, do yourself a favor and get a new-gen Philips Sonicare toothbrush (with the clip on heads, not the screw tops) and get the DiamondClean heads. My teeth have never been whiter and they feel like I just left a dental cleaning.

Dedicating yourself to paying attention to and adhering to avoiding chemicals in your beauty products is hard work. Looking at a beloved product hoping that it has been serving you well all this time only to find that it is filled with parabens or petrochemicals will absolutely break your heart. It can feel like losing a best friend, a confidant, someone you have relied on for so long and now you have to find a replacement. Which means you get to go shopping!

What ingredients do you look out for? Are there any I’m missing? Let me know!

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Keeping It Clean: Natural Home Products

giphy20If you hate turning on all the fans and opening all the windows to escape the fumes from your cleaning products, then read on. I don’t like to think that my cleaning products are lacing my home with chemicals so I’ve slowly been transitioning to natural options, even if it costs a little bit more. I don’t have any kids or pets, but I think this is even more pertinent with kiddos and animals crawling around!

Baby Products

giphy22It’s kind of messed up that we use all natural, gentle products for babies and then promptly start using more and more chemicals on ourselves and our loved ones as adults. Beauty and cleaning products aimed at babies are usually fragrance-free, natural and gentle for skin and don’t include any hormone disrupting, cancer-inducing chemicals. I am a big fan of the Babygenics line, they have a natural tub cleaner that I use before I take my weekly detox bath, and all surface wipes which don’t have any ammonia, bleach, phosphates, phthalates, sulfates, artificial fragrances or dyes. Perhaps my favorite is the unscented, alcohol-free foaming hand sanitizer because the absence of alcohol means you don’t dry out your skin and the lack of scent means I’m not offending a subway car full of people. Your hands feel very clean afterward instead of sticky and caked with chemicals.

Antibacterial Tea Tree Oil

Sulfates and Triclosan lurk in a lot of our body and hand washes (and toothpaste and other products sigh). Sulfates are very stripping and will dry out your skin, while Triclosan is an anti-bacterial agent that is a hormone disruptor. I am a big fan of this antibacterial hand and face wash with tea tree oil which is naturally antibacterial, so no need for Bath & Body Works. Dr. Bronner’s tea tree soap can also be used for all over cleaning. The Tea Tree scent is so refreshing and makes me think I’m in a spa, plus using it as a body wash can help curb bacne.

Apple Cider Vinegar

giphy21Apple Cider Vinegar is a natural disinfectant, all you have to do is mix it with equal parts water to naturally disinfect surfaces in your home, no rinsing required. Have your mix ready in a spray bottle to have it on hand! It can also be used as a natural produce rinse to clean off pesticides and dirt. The vinegar smell will not linger for long, and you can take solace in the fact that the fumes aren’t causing you any harm. If you need something with a little more grit you can mix cornstarch in the ACV to give your tub a good scrub. Baking Soda may seem like a natural choice but actually, it neutralizes the acidity in the vinegar and doesn’t make it as effective.

giphy19Don’t stop until you feel like this! This is one of my all-time favorite bad day movies, Baby Mama. No need to throw away products, just replace them when they’re empty with natural versions.

Do you have any favorite cleaning products? Any natural home hacks? Let me know!

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Relieving Pain Naturally

Many of the following options have been used for centuries, we got it right the first time and have been trying to make pain relief easier ever since. Drugs are great when used properly and very convenient, but if you can try one of these methods it will most likely bring long-term relief instead of just putting a band-aid on it.

Detox Bath

I love taking a weekly detox bath to carve out time for myself, put on a hair mask, a face mask and to soak uninterrupted for 40 minutes. Soaking in hot water no matter what you add to it can help relieve pain, lower blood pressure and make arteries more flexible for vascular health.

DIY Detox Bath

giphy17Mix all these ingredients in the hottest water you can stand to sit in and soak for anywhere between 20-40 minutes. Your heart rate will go up and you may get a little sweaty, but power through it. Initially, you may only be able to handle 20 minutes but if you make it a routine you will be able to watch an entire episode of your favorite show. Drink a ton of water before, during and after.

The Epsom salt relieves inflammation that could be causing pain, and soaking in it can also helping with bruising and allow you to absorb magnesium through your skin. Magnesium can help give you some good feels and offset depression. Apple Cider Vinegar can also help with joint pain but I really add it for the skin benefits. It’s also a fungus fighter and can help with hemorrhoids since sitting in the bath is kind of like a big sitz bath. We all know and love Bentonite clay as a face mask mixed with water or apple cider vinegar, but your skin if your largest organ and extends past the face! Soaking your whole body in it is great for the skin and is a big part of the detox process since it draws out the toxins.

Topical Lotions

Boiron Arnica Gel is one of my favorite topical muscle pain relievers. This one is not greasy and it doesn’t have a strong scent like tiger balm, yet it still is nice and cooling. As a bonus, it works on bruises and stiff joints as well!

Peppermint lotion is a nice, natural way to soothe soreness due to it’s tinging and cooling sensation. I love this one by Dr. Bronner’s, their products are all natural and use high-quality oils very liberally. You can also take any one of your favorite lotions and add Peppermint essential oil to it, just don’t be too heavy handed with it and make sure you mix well before every use! One of my favorite combos is Palmer’s Cocoa Butter and peppermint oil, it smells like mint chocolate!

Infrared Sauna

giphy16Infrared Saunas use a modest 115-130 degree heat that penetrates your skin to heat you up internally, sounds scary but it’s really not compared to a traditional dry sauna that can get between 170-200 degrees. It helps relieve pain by improving circulation while detoxing and aiding in weight loss. The benefits are huge and you don’t even have to leave your home to get to one, you can get one of these portable infrared saunas that fold up under your bed when you aren’t using it.

Acupressure

Acupressure consists of laying on a mat of plastic spikes, or a “bed of nails”. This stimulates the skin and accesses pressure points that release endorphins to relieve pain. You can lay on it, you can stand on it, though admittedly that is hard, and the neckroll pillow feels great. They also have a neck and head pillow that cradles the back of your head and an acupressure body strap you can apply anywhere, even at work.

Foam Rolling

Anyone who has been in a gym or a physical therapists office has seen a foam roller, but they are great for targeting muscle pain from lactic acid build up. Those couple days after a hard workout can be pretty brutal, so invest in a foam roller and embrace more pain because foam rolling is not a walk in the park. I contributed to a Kickstarter for this travel foam roller called Neofit, and it’s now on pre-order.

Heating Pad

Yes, the heating pad has been around for a while, but its effectiveness in soothing a variety of muscle pain makes it a popular option for many people. Just don’t rely on it too much or you put yourself at risk for toasted skin syndrome! This is when you slowly and minimally burn the top layer of your skin and it creates and splotchy pattern. This can happen if you sit in front of a fireplace for too long as well. Using a heating pad before stretching or foam rolling can help loosen up those muscles.

Swearing

giphy18Yes, folks, studies show swearing can get you through a painful situation. So when all else fails, use your favorite expletive, it increases your heart rate and decreases your pain reception.

How do you deal with muscle aches and pain? Any tips I missed?

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