Face Oils For All Seasons and Reasons

giphy10I‘ve never been a big makeup buff, I don’t like the way powder feels on my skin, gets all over the place and makes my skin flaky. I only ever used makeup to cover up things I didn’t want to show like blemishes, under eye circles or to contour my face. I’ll never give up contouring, but the key to using less makeup is to get your skin in order so that you don’t even need it. Finding the right combo of facial oils takes a little time but once you find the recipe for you, your skin will be glowing from within that only plump, hydrated skin can offer.

Winter Skin

Once it starts to get cold and dry my skin does this fun thing where it gets red, flaky and angry. It’s usually the worst around my mouth and under my nose, and for when it gets really bad I have to deploy Kiehl’s Skin Rescuer. Regularly using oils to target your winter skin woes can help protect you from that initial shock of cold wind burn.

Almond Oil

giphy14Almond oil is a super hydrating base that is perfect for flaky winter skin. You can use it alone, mix it with one of the anti-aging oils below or an essential oil to target specific issues with your skin. It’s the essential neutral base that you can use as a vessel for other oils. You can use it under your eyes to combat dark circles, even better when you infuse coffee grounds in it, but that’s a post for another day.

Squalane Oil

Squalane Oil is the main ingredient in Kiehl’s Skin Rescuer and it is great for angry skin year round. Not to be confused with squalene oil which is the natural, vegetable-derived version of squalane oil. Yes, in this case, the unnatural version is best due to the hydrogenation process that the squalene oil goes through to remove the instability that can make the oil go rancid. Rancid oil = free radicals aging your skin. One issue I have with this oil was that my blackheads got a little worse when using this alone, but maybe if I added some tea tree and lavender oils to it that would counteract them. It is a very hydrating oil that even helped with the little bumps on my chest that are caused by dry skin.

Summer Skin

giphy12This is the time of year when things start to get a little greasy, so more lightweight oils do the trick. We want oils that absorb quickly and nourish our skin when we inevitably get too much sun. Do not be afraid to put oil on your face even in the summer!

Jojoba Oil

Jojoba Oil can be used directly on the skin or as a hydrating face wash. It is actually a wax that imitates the bodies natural sebum production, so if you have an oily skin problem this will be your best friend! It’s kind of reverse psychology since if you apply jojoba oil to your face, it will curb the production of oil. Finessed them. If the thought of putting oils on your face freaks you out, you can use jojoba oil as a face wash which will still give you the benefit of reducing your sebum production while also giving you hydration you can rinse off. Just apply it to dry skin, rubbing it in gently in a circular motion and you will start to feel all the gunk pill under your fingertips. Then you can wet your hands and rub a bit more before rinsing off.

Argan Oil

Argan oil is great for the summer since it absorbs very quickly. I never understood why anyone would pay so much for Josie Maran Argan Oil when you can get a huge bottle from Vitacost or Whole Foods for a fraction of the price. But I did get sample sizes of Josie’s that I used for travel when my skin acts up the most, and my skin had never felt better. It also comes in a Light version that is great for day use.

Anti-aging

Rosehip Seed Oil

giphy13Rosehip Seed Oil is very restorative and has essential fatty acids for skin regeneration. Miranda Kerr’s skincare line Kora uses a lot of rosehip seed oil and we all want to look like Miranda Kerr no? Rosehip Seed Oil should be in an airtight container with a pump to minimize since it can go rancid easily. It’s also best kept in the refrigerator.

Red Raspberry Seed Oil

Red Raspberry Seed Oil is an amazing anti-aging oil because of the anti-inflammatory properties, both vitamins E and A and a natural retinoid. I like to use this one in the day since it has a naturally high SPF factor. I still recommend using a chemical or mineral sunscreen regardless of an oils SPF factor.

Carrot Seed Oil

Carrot Seed Oil is another oil with naturally high SPF, so another great daytime oil with many other benefits. Aside from also being high in vitamins A and E, it is perfect for angry, aging skin since it is very soothing and also can help with discoloration and hyperpigmentation. It kind of smells like dirt but that fades very quickly.

For All Seasons and Reasons

Vitamin E Oil

Vitamin E Oil is a great addition to and DIY oil concoction since it acts as a preservative, but it is also an antioxidant that protects your cells from free radicals. I’ve never used this oil alone but only in conjunction with others, but it can be dabbed under the eyes or on other spots that need a little extra boost of hydration.

Vegetable Glycerin

giphy15While Vegetable Glycerin can be used on its own, it is pretty sticky and has a thinner honey-like consistency. In fact, it can also be used as a natural sweetener. It is an excellent humectant and is great for DIY face and body mists to use in your beauty routine.

Tamanu Oil

I love using this Aura Cacia Tamanu Oil with Tea Tree and Lavender at night because the scent is soothing and creates a little aromatherapy paradise on my face. This oil has a lot of healing benefits for scars and wounds while being hydrating and easy to absorb.

imb_faydxbSo many oils, so little time. I have to restrain myself from buying more and more before I use what I still have. My advice would be to buy small bottles to see if it is the best oil for you. You should find your perfect fit before settling down with a subscription.

What oils do you use for your skin? Anything I should try? Let me know!

Header Photo by Katherine Hanlon on Unsplash

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Sleeping Your Way to Better Skin and Hair

giphy7We all lead busy lives, we do what we can in the way of lotions, potions, habits and diet, but what if you could also utilize those eight hours of shut-eye to prevent aging and repair your skin? I’d give all the money in the world to wear Melisandre’s necklace and be done with it but unfortunately, we have to take other precautions.

Satin Pillowcase

giphy8Bedhead no more, if you hate showering in the morning (or would slip fall and die like I would), then a satin pillowcase will be your best friend. Non-satin fabric will tangle your hair and make it a bird’s nest by morning, but any satin fabric is going to let your hair slip and slide to prevent tangling. Beauty-boosting pillowcases by mē Glow or illuminage have double the benefits because they are also good for your skin (more on that next). But if your hair is your only concern then any satin/silk fabric pillowcase will do.

Copper Oxide Infused Cloth

The copper oxide fabric works by improving elasticity in your skin on contact. Anti-aging gloves, socks, pillowcases, eye masks; can they please also make whole sheet sets and clothing? I don’t feel a need for the socks by illuminage, but I did get the anti-aging gloves because I’m getting a few age spots on the back of my hands. I sleep with them every night and have only occasionally ripped them off somehow. I’ve been using them for a few weeks and the back of my hands have much less hyperpigmentation. The eye mask by mē Glow also ends up slipping off in the middle of the night, but I’ll take whatever fleeting benefits I can. It’s meant to help smooth out wrinkles around the eyes but the way it lays I don’t see how it can reach some areas around the eyes to do its magic. It is probably more effective on the crow’s feet area and the forehead lines. These products may seem silly to a partner you share a bed with, but seeing as I am single I have not yet encountered this issue. In some of the reviews for the gloves women have stated that they wear them at work (???) which is a commitment…

Anti-Aging Pillow

giphy6This crazily shaped pillow by Save My face! will help alleviate wrinkles by not letting you smush your face into the pillow for hours while you sleep. Your face ends up in the cut out so that it floats instead of creasing. This works great if you are a stomach or side sleeper, but it also works for the back sleepers by keeping your head in an optimal position so your double chin doesn’t create neck wrinkles all night. It always ends up on the floor by the time I wake up but at least it helps while it can. I also like to fold it in half and have both crescent ends cup my neck when I am reading or watching something in bed.

All of these items are machine washable, just don’t use fabric softener or dryer sheets, I air dry mine. I think they do specify a limited amount of washes before you should replace them to be effective, but seeing as all of these options come into personal contact with your skin they would probably need to be replaced regularly anyway.

giphy9On a final note, aging is inevitable, even for Melisandre who is some sort of red witch. It’s never too early to start thinking about how your habits and lifestyle will affect your aging and what you can do to slow it down, but embracing the way your body reacts to your time spent on this earth is a privilege!

Do you have any crazy products, tools or techniques you use to stave off aging? Tell me about them in the comments!

Header Photo by Kinga Cichewicz on Unsplash

Natural Ways to Keep Your Home Smelling Fresh

giphy1Most chemical air freshers, plug-ins, mists and scented candles have a cocktail of chemicals that are known to be hormone-disruptors and cause cancer. They’re easy and cheap to deploy but the results are not worth the health risks. There are so many natural ways to scent a room, so put down the aerosol can and read on.

Soy Wax Candles

Most candles are made out of paraffin wax unless otherwise specified, and using them is equivalent to burning plastic in your home. Next time you are picking up a candle, pay attention to the wax it is made out of (soy and beeswax are safe) and how it is scented. Naturally scented candles may not be as potent as the chemical laden ones but your lungs will be happier. You can try making your own candles with soy wax and essential oils, I’ve made a few but the effort was not worth it. Some of my favorite brands for candles are Scentsational and Meyer’s.

Automatic Air Freshener Hack

You know those timed automatic air fresheners in public bathrooms that spray right in your face and get in your mouth? I’ve found a great hack to replicate this effect (sans the terrible parts) for your small spaces, like bathrooms that have a flip top or swing top lids.

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I take some cotton coil and soak it in essential oil, here I’m using Eucalyptus essential oil because it’s a very refreshing, spa-like scent. Any citrus or strong smelling oil will work, try to avoid woodsy or mellow smells since it may not have as potent of an effect. Then you take this soaked cotton and put it under your trash can liner. This way every time you throw something away you get a nice whiff when you open your trash can. I re-soak the cotton coil every time I replace the trash can liner. This won’t work very well on open trash cans since the scent will evaporate much too quickly.

Carpet Powder

I love sprinkling carpet powder to deodorize carpets and rugs in my home, but they too are filled with carcinogenic ingredients that you could be breathing in. If you have children or pets, they could also come into contact with the powder since it is impossible for you to vacuum it all up. Luckily you can simplify the ingredients to the most basic and make a DIY version that is safe to use.

DIY Carpet Powder
  • Baking Soda
  • Essential Oils
  • Borax (optional)

Pretty simple and easy to throw together. You can also customize and change up the scent based on the seasons or your mood. Just sprinkle it on like you would any other carpet deodorizer, wait for as long as you can and vacuum it up.

Essential Oil Diffusers and Nebulizers

There are a few ways to propel essential oils to fragrance your home. Diffusers are a popular option, plus they double as a humidifier by diluting essential oils in water. They come in a lot of pretty shapes and colors to compliment the space they’re in, I have this one on my desk at work by Smiley Daisy. These work best in smaller spaces so if you have a large room a diffuser will neither scent or humidify your space. For that, you need a larger humidifier and an essential oil nebulizer.

IMB_5H7heGI have no idea what it’s doing in there, but it looks super cool! Well, I have a small idea of what it’s doing, the pressurized air is atomizing micro-particles of essential oil when they come into contact with each other, whatever that means. This SpaRoom AromaLuxe Micro-Air Nebulizing Diffuser has a two-hour automatic shut off and runs for two-minutes with one-minute off. You can put any mixture of ~15 drops of essential oils in the opening and let her rip. It has a battery you can charge so it does not have to be tethered to a power cord. If you need a humidifier recommendation I love the look and features of this one by VAVA!

Himalayan Salt Lamp

IMB_kJowtv.GIFHimalayan Salt Lamps already purify the air on their own, but you can buy one with an additional feature to give it a little extra kick. These Himalayan Salt Lamp Essential Oil Diffusers have little metal trays on top that you can put essential oils in, the heat from the lamp over time will distribute the scent. It’s subtle but it’s another way to fragrance your home naturally.

I am partial to Lavender essential oil because it makes my room smell like a spa, but in the evening I add Cedarwood since it is good for sleepytime.

DISCLAIMER: I have read that essential oils can be harmful to cats, I do not have a cat but please take caution when using essential oils in your home if you have a cat! Take care not to allow them to inhale the oils or have it come in contact with their skin, their livers and lungs are sensitive to them. Unfortunately, this means the diffuser, nebulizer and carpet powder are a no-go for cat owners, but the other hacks should be fine unless they knock over/drink from the salt lamp tray or come in contact with the cotton coil soaked in EOs.

How do you keep your home smelling great? Got any other natural hacks? Let me know in the comments!

Header Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash

Wonder Woman Made Me Do It

giphy2I started by doing a little research on what Gal Gadot did to get in shape for the film (while pregnant??) and vowed to work it all into my routine. Okay so a lot of it admittedly requires a full gym and a trainer to keep you on track, but I picked out some realistic activities I could see myself enjoying. I’ve been a huge ClassPass fan for almost a year now and I quickly found studios near me that could help me get that Gal Gadot-ness, even though I’m not a 5’10” Israeli bombshell.

Row

giphy5Rowing is not only a great workout, it’s also a great skill to have in life just in case you are thrown into a boat to row for your life like Gendry here. I had no idea what I was getting myself into but it ended up being one of the hardest and most rewarding workouts ever, and as a cardiophobe, this is a sneaky way to get my heart pumping. It helps that my fav instructor is so wonderful, beams positive energy and has a great playlist. The 50-minute class consists of a combination of wave songs, off the row circuit and races. At the start of class, you figure out your low, medium and full pressure row metrics which you use in the wave songs. Typically it’s low pressure on the verses and high pressure on the choruses.

I like to compare it to a spin class on a rower but you aren’t chugging away on the machine the entire time, which is a nice break and also a killer workout on its own. You’ll use the sliding seat for abs and the oars for arm/back strength, along with weights and squats for full body toning. Then you get to the fun part, the races; a race against time, and a race against yourself. Using the built-in screen on the machine you push yourself as hard as you can for 90 seconds and then try to beat your own distance a second time by at least 10 meters. By now your limbs are trembling and you can’t imagine putting forth any more energy but you somehow make it through and may even surprise yourself.

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I highly recommend some sort of grippy fingerless gloves to protect your palms from calluses and to enhance your grip so you can relax your hands a little. I have something like these weightlifting gloves but anything that covers the heel of your hand and grips the oar will suffice. The rower has a screen to track your meters rowed and other metrics which keep you accountable when you inevitably come back for more delight/torture. I may even take it up a notch and find out where I can find the real deal once summer comes along to row on actual water but until then check out ClassPass to find a row studio near you!

Kickboxing

I have always wanted to try kickboxing, but after watching Wonder Woman kick so much ass I finally got the courage to try a beginner class at a small, instructor-owned studio by my apartment that I found on, you guessed it, ClassPass. I ended up buying my own gloves after the first class, not only because the rental gloves were kind of gross but because I loved the meditative quality of punching and kicking a heavy bag and knew I would be back soon.

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Since then I have also been going to CKO Kickboxing which has locations all over the US, Canada and is a ClassPass studio! It’s a much larger gym but both studios have a similar MO. First, they get your heart racing with some jumping jacks and burpees, then you get to some simple drills that build on each other as they add on more complicated punches and kicks. I have a ballet background so the kicking is by far my favorite part, but the boxing compliments the strength I have built up from rowing and yet my arms have not gotten as bulky as I thought (which is a good thing).

As for equipment I bought these 12oz Everlast Gloves at Target for under $30. I rented 14oz gloves in my first class but my wrists are quite small so the velcro fastener on the 12 oz fit better. I also recommend wraps, they did not offer them in my first class and my left wrist was a bit sore afterward. I’ve tried gel wraps but don’t like how stifling it can get around the fingers. I bought these Everlast Hand Wraps at Target as well for under $7, and after a quick YouTube tutorial I figured out my best wrap. Plus they’re machine washable, I just toss them in a garment bag and air dry them. To keep the gloves fresh I got little sachets of cedar shavings to pull out moisture and bacteria, this little Cedar Storage Set had a great selection that I ended up using in my closets and drawers as well.

Have you ever taken a row or kickboxing class? Tell me your experience in the comments! Let me know if you have any other Wonder Woman worthy workouts to share.

How to Detox Through Your Skin

They all have one thing in common which is to stimulate the lymphatic system and create blood flow to your skin to move and transport toxins out. This can help with existing and budding acne (even the deep cystic kind), promote healing, anti-aging and create that healthy glow only a good rush of blood can offer. Here are a few ways to detox and flush out your system without a cleanse.

Jade Rolling

Jade Rolling and Gua Sha trending.The Jade Roller is a great tool keep handy in the fridge for those times when you have a headache, hangover or puffy eyes from watching This Is Us. Rolling the cool stone on your skin feels lovely, but I wasn’t able to work it into my routine. Taking the time to roll in front of an open refrigerator door isn’t realistic in the long term, I need one of those refrigerated medicine cabinets! I have not tried Gua Sha yet but it seems to be the 2018 buzzword, this crystal place by my office has it on their chalk sign. It takes the stone part from the jade roller but instead is shaped into dull blades that you can use to give yourself a smooth facial massage. With both of these tools, you start at the center of your face and swipe outward with as much pressure and speed as feels comfortable. Do not wipe them back and forth, you want to drain everything OUT of your face. The good thing about the Jade Roller is that you can also gently roll it over your eyes, and has the smaller end to get into the nooks and crannies around the eye socket.

Honestly, instead of using all these tools, I like to take my last three fingers (middle, ring and pinky) to do a quick facial massage after I apply my facial oil morning and night. This low maintenance, tool-less technique is free and ensures that you actually get the thing done and get that blood flowing! Just make sure that you start at the center of your face and work outward with every stroke. Don’t forget the jaw and neck!

Cupping

I found out about cupping from Farah Dhukai, her Instagram is amazing and she slathers all sorts of weird things all over her face and hair (but beware of Tumeric, it will stain your skin and everything you love). I won’t give a step by step instruction, just the video below. Note: this is not Michael Phelps cupping, if you google it you will see scary bruises and blood. This is nice and gentle facial massage that you can do for five minutes a few times a week.

I use chia oil as a lubricant for these, any edible oil is best since you will be applying this on your lips, and make sure it is not too thick like castor oil so that the cups can glide smoothly on your skin without tugging. One note about chia oil is that it can stain a little bit, my cups and the white bag they came in are a little yellow, but it is full of Omega-3s and is very nourishing for your skin. After coating your skin with it and massaging it in, you use the two small face-sized rubber cups to suction and massage the skin in outward motions. Just make sure to avoid thin-skinned areas like under the eyes and eyelids. Keep the cups moving, don’t let them sit on your face as you will give yourself a hickie!  This is best done before bed since you will get flushed, but it shouldn’t persist. BONUS: Steaming your face before cupping is a nice way to open up the pores and stimulate the skin even more.

You can also cup your body! Get yourself a cup set that includes all size cups for different areas of the body. The large cups can be used on your thighs and butt to help remedy cellulite and spider veins. The face cupping doesn’t hurt at all (or at least it shouldn’t if you are doing it right) but the thigh cupping can pinch a little bit. Videos online will show them moving the cups in circles, but I think it’s best to push stuff towards the heart so that it can get pumped out. I haven’t noticed a difference in my spider veins behind my knees but maybe I’m not doing it frequently enough. Again you apply an oil like chia oil and suction the cups to your skin and sweep them around to bring toxins to the surface and hopefully out.

Dry Brushing

IMB_7INTZv.GIFLast but not least, dry brushing can be done all over your body aside from the face. You take a natural bristle brush and starting with your limbs brush your skin in circular motions towards your heart, circling around it once you get to your abdomen. This is best done before hopping in the shower since you will be exfoliating a bit and might want to rinse off the dead skin cells. As much as I like the sensation of this, I NEVER REMEMBER TO DO IT when I’m standing naked outside the shower. I get in and curse myself for forgetting yet again even though the brush is in a basket next to the tub. The one time I do remember is before I take my weekly detox bath since that whole process is a little more deliberate. It’s such a quick easy thing to add to your routine that can really have great health benefits.

giphyIf you want to pay someone to do all this for you there are plenty of people willing to do it! You can find jade rolling and gua sha facial massages, body cupping and good ‘ol massages that will get those toxins flowing right out of you. And while it must feel hella nice to have someone else rub stones on your face, unless you’re Gwenyth Paltrow you are probably going to have you maintain it on your own with whatever tools you choose. Look at this cow, she knows dry brushing is good for her.

Have you tried any of these techniques? Any magical results? Any other recommendations? Let me know!

Cheap Hair Masks That Work: from Drugstore to DIY

giphy1I mix it up depending on how I will be spending my time when said hair mask is applied. For example, if I am going to hot yoga I like to apply my DIY scalp mask and some coconut oil through to the ends so that the heat and time can allow the oil to penetrate the hair shaft and do its magic on my scalp. The good thing about this combo is you can get up and walk around since it is an oily hair mask, not drippy. Most hair masks need water to apply and that can get a little messy.

DIY Scalp Mask

For great hair, you need to start at the root. Your scalp needs love and TLC if you want it to support and grow beautiful hair, so why is it the one place that we neglect the most? You can mix and match different oils to make your perfect scalp mask, but there are a few staple ingredients that are best for your scalp.

IMB_G2QOkS.GIFThis lineup consists of Coconut Oil, Castor Oil and some essentials oils: Cedarwood, Lavender, Rosemary and Tea Tree. The fats and omegas in Coconut Oil and Castor Oil are a wonder for the scalp, aiding with dandruff issues and sebum production to combat scalp acne. When combined with Tea Tree oil you have a nice refreshing scalp mask that can stop all your dandruff woes. Lavender is the most universally useful EO, Rosemary has antimicrobial properties and Cedarwood is very moisturizing for the hair. As a bonus, you can add Red Raspberry Seed Oil which will help with any psoriasis and eczema afflictions on the scalp. You are also welcome to add Jojoba or Almond Oil if those are your favorite oils if they work on your skin your scalp will likely be a fan too! Yes, I have a 54 oz tub of coconut oil, don’t @ me.

Mask Proportions

Most of these can also be used on their own to target specific issues, but keep in mind that the essential oils need to be diluted with a carrier oil (jojoba, almond, coconut etc), so do not apply them directly to the skin.

L'Oreal Total Repair 5If you aren’t the DIY adventurer, try L’Oreal Paris Advanced Haircare Total Repair 5 Damage-Erasing Balm. This little tub of gold promises to erase 10 years of damage and I certainly feel results when I slather it on and leave it on for ~45 minutes while I take my weekly detox bath. It smells lovely and makes me believe that Blake Lively may actually be using the products she is a spokesmodel for.

Got any hair masks you swear by? Share your secrets Blake Lively! Because you’re worth it.

Welcome

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So what’s with the gifs? The gif turned 30 this year and is a millennial just like me. Who am I? My name is Sarah and I am a 30-something gif queen and beauty hack enthusiast, and I’ll be serving you beauty in the most millennial way, with gifs.

This blog has been a new years resolution of mine, and as the first month of the year comes to a close I believe I have found the best way to present the content I have in store for giphora. The year doesn’t officially start until February 1st, right?

I should probably mention that any suggestions you may follow from a giphora post is totally at your discretion. Know your fitness limitations and potential product allergies or talk to your doctor if you’re not sure.

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Now join me on this journey as I combine two of my favorite things, gifs and beauty.