Food For Your Face: Choosing the Best Facemask for your Skin

Facemasks are like ice cream; you can never choose just one kind. Facemasks are also treats for our skin like ice cream is a treat for our taste buds, but the similarities really end there. See, facemasks are healthy, detoxifying, glowy, nourishing “food” for our face and ice cream, well, let’s just say it doesn’t quite do all that for us.

Facemasks are truly wonderful tools to help us supplement our skincare health and daily routine. They help us zero in on, and target, our specific needs, and concerns. However, the most wonderful thing about facemasks is also the scariest (I use the term scary lightly here). You can never have too many masks; you really can’t. There are a hundred different masks for a hundred different uses and we can have them all, well, the ones we feel we actually need anyway. Let’s not get greedy. It’s useless and wasteful to buy a facemask, or really any skincare product for that matter, just for the sake of buying it or for the hype, the almighty and powerful hype. Because not every facemask is designed to help our skin, it can become very easy to go a bit crazy and one day find yourself staring at a shelf entirely filled with facemasks (this is a real-life example from my own life).

Facemasks fall under several different categories (Calming, Moisturizing, Detoxifying, Acne Fighting, Brightening and Anti-Aging) and I think it’s safe to say that having one mask in each category, or several masks that fall under multiple categories, is a reasonable, and dare I say, a sensible thing to do. It’s important to do some research and find the best mask for our skin type and needs. If we have sensitive, dry, or acne prone skin, etc., we need to take these factors into consideration when choosing a mask.

I will say that many masks have multiple functions and benefits. If we’re tight on cash, or just don’t want the clutter of so many products in our medicine cabinet, it’s easy to choose just a couple masks that have multiple uses and benefits. Multifunctional masks can be great, healing and combating multiple problem areas at once is both time efficient and smart. There is no one cure-all mask for anyone; we need to test and research to find the right combination for ourselves.

Advanced Hydration Mask – Josh Rosebrook

The Advanced Hydration Mask is a wonderfully hydrating mask that will nourish even the driest of faces with super hydrating ingredients including Aloe Vera (regenerates skin), mango seed butter (moisturizing and tightening), senna seed extract (hydrates and repairs) and blue tansy oil (calms irritation). This mask is like a cool drink of water for our parched face. It even looks like water with its blue color, from the blue tansy flower oil, and silky texture. Packed with rich plant oils and botanicals it helps replenish and retain skin cell hydration. The mask helps to lock in moisture, plump, condition and improve skin circulation, which protects and supports healthy skin function and slows signs of aging in the skin.

Nutritive Greens Mask – Aster & Bay

Aster & Bay describes their Nutritive Greens mask as a green smoothie for your face, and I think they hit the nail on the head with that one. This mask contains nutrient-dense natural herbs and superfoods like peppermint, matcha, spinach, and spirulina, which are all blended with French green clay and raw wildflower honey, creating a facemask that detoxifies, tones, and nourishes. Packed with chlorophyll and amino acids, the mask also helps fight free radicals, which can cause premature aging in our skin.

The raw honey inhibits bacterial growth and can help heal many skin conditions such as acne, inflammation, and redness. The honey also helps to nourish and protect skin, making it an excellent choice for all skin types.

Clearing Mask – Indie Lee

The Clearing Mask helps purify clogged pores and congested skin with its gentle, yet effective detoxifying formula. The mask leaves skin feeling tightened and firm, but still nourished. This is most likely due to the hyaluronic acid in the mask, softening the face and enhancing circulation.

The Clearing Mask is ideal for congested and acne-prone skin. The clay and fruit acid formula helps eliminate dead skin cells and removes toxins from our pores, helping to reduce inflammation and redness, while helping to promote healing from acne scarring.

The mask can also be used as a spot treatment for those stubborn breakouts we want to get rid of fast. The mask is both detoxifying and hydrating, so it won’t dry out our skin if we leave it on for several hours, or even overnight.

Clarifying Mask – Tata Harper

The Clarifying Mask is a great mask for almost any skin imperfection. This mask is great for helping our skin get back to looking healthy, balanced and clear. The mask has an enzymatic peel effect that helps reduce the appearance of breakouts, redness, and excess oil without drying or irritating the skin.

The mask also contains chlorella, which nourishes and hydrates the skin; it also gives it a vibrant green color. When washing off the mask, warm water activates the effect of quartz sand crystals in the mask, which exfoliates and soften our skin as we gently massage it off of our face. This is an amazing added bonus that I really love; it leaves the skin feeling smooth and soft as well invigorated.

3-Minute Flash Mask – Ursa Major

The 3 Minute Flash Mask is a gentle but effective “flash” enzyme face treatment that quickly exfoliates dead skin built up on the surface of our face. It also helps to accelerate skin cell turnover, enhancing the appearance of skin tone, brightness, elasticity, and firmness.

This mask is very gentle and gives the same amazing effects as an intense scrub or light chemical peel without the irritation. The gel-like texture and amazing tropical pineapple and orange fruity smell only help to elevate the amazing benefits of this mask.

This mask has really helped to brighten my skin and gives me a wonderful glow, thanks to brightening ingredients like pineapple and hibiscus. Other natural ingredients that work wonders in this mask are pomegranate enzymes that help remove dull, dead skin cells, leaving behind smoother softer and brighter skin.

The Flash Mask is gentle enough for all skin types, even those with sensitive skin that might be a bit wary of an enzymatic mask should give this one a try.

Buchu Botanical Enzyme Polish – African Botanics

The Buchu Botanical Enzyme Polish is an amazing and gentle facial polish that deeply exfoliates and purifies the skin by lifting off dead skin cells leaving skin clean, soft and radiant without irritation.

A combination of dried Buchu plant and crushed Baobab fruit are combined with healing micro-algae and fine granules of volcanic minerals to improve texture and soften the look of fine lines and dark spots by buffing away dead skin.

The polish is also loaded with papaya and pineapple enzymes to clear pores while minimizing their appearance and improving radiance. Essential oils of Bergamot, Rose Geranium, and Tea Tree are stimulating and soothing, which helps to detox and calm the skin with their anti-inflammatory properties.

I love using this polish in the shower; you only have to leave the mask on for around 5 minutes to reap all the amazing benefits. I massage it into my face right when I get in and wash it off after I finished all of my other shower tasks. Multi-tasking in the shower, while getting a smoother, plumper more radiant complexion all at the same time, that’s what I call a true win-win right there folks.

Healing Manuka Mask – La Bella Figura

This hydrating Healing Manuka Mask works wonderfully for dry, irritated and mature skin conditions. The mask is formulated with mineral rich manuka honey, which nourishes and calms the skin with its antibacterial properties. Manuka Honey can also help fight acne and acne scarring and reduce redness and inflammation in the skin. The mask also contains Aronia berry extract, an excellent source of antioxidants and Vitamin C, as well as rosehip seed oil that helps in speeding up skin’s regenerative process which can help combat the signs of aging.

This is a hard-working and powerful mask that has a very potent formulation. While this is wonderful for revealing radiant and fresh looking skin, it can cause a strong reaction and therefore isn’t recommend for those with sensitive skin.

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Fresh Faced: Vitamin B Enzyme Cleansing Oil

I am very picky about my cleansers. Well, if we’re being honest, I’m very picky about everything. But cleansers are an integral step in our skincare routine. We start and/or end our days with our cleanser. We are counting on them to remove dirt and grime from the day and to wipe off the makeup we rocked all day long and are now desperately ready to free ourselves from. They need to clean our face and make us feel fresh and invigorated. It’s a tough gig, but I think I found the gal for the job.

The Vitamin B Enzyme Cleansing Oil by One Love Organics is my holy grail of cleansers. Do I have an entire shelf filled with other cleansers in my bedroom? Maybe. But, do I reach for this one 90% of the time? Totally. This cleanser removes dirt and impurities while also restoring skin’s natural moisture barrier, which is one reason why I love this oil cleanser so much. So does my dry and acne prone skin. The Vitamin B cleanser contains papain, a fruit enzyme that helps to exfoliate and soften. It also contains a natural Vitamin B complex to detoxify and tone.

It may seem like a foreign concept to some out there, but oil can be a great combative to both oily and acne prone skin; crazy but true. This cleanser leaves my skin feeling fresh, dewy and clean. I’m not a huge fan of that squeaky-clean feeling left behind by some cleansers. If you do that’s great, but maybe shy away from an oil cleanser. The oil moisturizes and cleanses the face all in one, which is wonderful for me. As an added, awesome bonus, the Vitamin B cleanser is killer at removing makeup; yes, even that pesky eye makeup. We just have to use a little extra product to get all the mascara off our eyes, but it definitely works. I use 1 pump when I’m just cleansing and 2 pumps when I’m trying to remove makeup as well as cleanse.

Picture from Credo Beauty, online

I love giving my face a massage while applying the cleanser. It feels great and helps to get circulation flowing, which helps tighten our skin. Say goodbye to all those annoying wrinkles we’re all convinced we have. Obviously, this doesn’t happen overnight, but a face massage every night over the course of a few months, to a year,  will definitely improve our overall skin tone. Also as an added sense of pampering and luxury, it smells fantastic.

I apply the cleanser to my hands and rub them together to evenly distribute the product. I then massage it into a dry face anywhere from 30 seconds up to 1 minute. When it comes to removing the cleanser, it can be done in several ways. We can simply remove it with warm water, then pat dry with a washcloth. But, if we’re looking for a deeper clean, and a small amount of exfoliation, just saturate a washcloth with warm water and press it over your face, holding it there until the cloth loses most of its heat. Then repeat this process, but this time gently rub the cloth to remove the rest of the oil, hence the light exfoliation. This technique helps the cleanser to enter deeper into our pores, creating a deeper and more effective cleanse. However one decides to use the cleanser, it’s sure to be effective. I highly recommend checking it out!

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DIY: Natural Toothpaste

We’re probably all guilty of not really thinking too much about what is in our toothpaste. We squeeze it onto our toothbrush and 2-3 minutes later we’re done, with minty fresh breath and a set of pearly whites to show for it. However, a lot of ingredients used in conventional toothpaste can be harmful to our bodies and our health.

The Tooth About Conventional Toothpaste

Most conventional toothpaste is filled with artificial colors and sweeteners, like aspartame. Do we really need to have red and blue stripes swirled into our toothpaste? I don’t think we’re getting any marks for patriotism there.

These conventional pastes also contain fluoride, which can cause tooth discoloration and stomach problems. The FDA actually requires a warning label on every tube of toothpaste sold in the US that contains fluoride, true story folks.

So, you know that rich foamy/bubbly lather you get when brushing your teeth? That stuff is made possible by Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS), which is a surfactant that is used in a range of products from industrial cleaners to toothpaste, its main purpose is to provide a foaming lather. The problem with SLS however, is that it may cause canker sores, mouth ulcers, stomach issues, and cancer.

Call me crazy, but something that we are putting into our mouths upwards of two times a day, and inevitably ingesting, shouldn’t be dangerous to our health, right? This is why I switched over to natural toothpaste several years ago, and eventually started making my own, because ain’t nobody got money to pay $5 for a tube of toothpaste that you can make for less than $1. Can I get an Amen?

Brush It Off

If DIYing just isn’t for you, here is a list of natural toothpaste recommendations. These toothpastes are all from respected and trusted natural brands. Number 5 on the list is actually the toothpaste I used and loved before I started making my own.

Anyway, I was mindlessly scrolling Instagram just about a year ago now, when I came across a post from SW Basics, where they shared a simple, and boy do I mean simple, toothpaste recipe. When I saw this I thought to myself, shit I can do that, so I did. And I’ve been making a slightly modified version of their toothpaste recipe ever since.

Here is the recipe I found:

  • 2 Tbsp baking soda
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 20 drops peppermint oil
  • 1 tsp sea salt (optional)

Combine all the ingredients into a paste, store in a sealed container. It will last up to six months.

In my version, I omit the salt altogether as the baking soda has enough of a salty taste to me and I didn’t feel the need to add it in; the taste just wasn’t as appealing to me. I also use around 25 drops of peppermint essential oil, to boost the minty flavor of the paste. I am a huge peppermint fan, but if you aren’t there is no need to add more, 20 drops is sufficient in helping to freshen your breath reduce bacteria and mask the majority of the baking soda taste.

It’s always important to remember too that a simple recipe like this can easily be adjusted and modified to fit the needs of each individual person. Add a little more, or less of each ingredient until it has the consistency and taste you like best. It is your toothpaste after all; you should make it how you want!

I will say it did take me several weeks to fully adjust to the new taste and texture of my new homemade toothpaste. This stuff doesn’t foam and bubble, nor does it have a fake overpowering spear-minty flavor. It may not taste great to you at first, but trust me you will get used to it, and let’s be real for a second, does our toothpaste really need to taste good? As long as it freshens our breath and gets rid of plaque and bacteria we’re all good, and this stuff definitely does that.

So, please guys, let’s get brushing and give this stuff a chance. I promise your teeth, health, wallet and the environment will be thanking you! And the satisfaction you’ll feel from making your own health/body care products is such a great feeling in and of itself.

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This Too Shall Pass: Treating PMS Symptoms Naturally 

Alright, ladies, it’s that time of the month again, let the collective groans begin. Yes, I’m talking about PMS, shocker, I know. We all get it, but that doesn’t mean it needs to ruin our day, week, or even the entire month for some of us. Fortunately, there are ways that we can help reduce the symptoms and stress of dealing with PMS in natural and healing ways. 

It always feels like the beginning of a long hard battle each month when we start gearing up to deal with our PMS symptoms; it’s a bit ridiculous. All the time and energy we put into thinking about when we are getting our periods and how that will affect our activities for the month. Can I go to the beach this week? Can I schedule a bikini wax? Do I need more cover- up, for the acne, I’m bound to get? The questions and problems quite honestly, are endless. Having a period is already an inconvenience on multiple levels; we shouldn’t have to struggle any more than we need to.  

Sure, there are things we can’t change, or magically make disappear with a single downward dog or a big whiff of essential oils, but there are definitely steps and actions we can take to dramatically reduce PMS naturally.  

The Good, The Bad, And The Bloaty 

We’ve all experienced the sweat-inducing struggle of trying to squeeze into a pair of pants that fit last week and are now straining at the seams. Bloating is a losing battle that we as women are constantly fighting. This, while a minor PMS side effect, is definitely one of the most irritating ones to deal with. Fluid retention can be the result of fluctuating hormones and can leave us feeling like Violet Beauregarde, post blueberry incident. 

Snacking on bananas, tomatoes, celery and citrus fruits pre-period, can help to alleviate bloating and other symptoms. 

Coconut Oil is amazing for hormonal health. It can assist in weight loss, reduce inflammation, and even has antimicrobial and antibacterial properties. 

While eating certain foods can help to reduce or even diminish some PMS symptoms, other foods can actually aid in, or bring on more symptoms. We should try to avoid certain foods around the time of our periods, such as inflammatory foods like grains, dairy, and vegetable oils, which can actually create inflammation in the body. 

Go With The Flow 

Exercise, in general, is always a good idea, to help relieve stress and anxiety, or just to get a good sweat in. Case in point, working out not only releases pain-busting endorphins, but it also triggers serotonin (a depression and anxiety fighter), which can be a major help during times of PMS, and hormonal mood swings. However, intense exercise leading up to our periods can actually make our PMS symptoms worse. It’s actually better to practice mild forms of exercise such as yoga, swimming, or going on walks to better help alleviate our symptoms.  

Doing hip and back stretches can increase blood flow to abdominal and lower-back muscles, easing the tension that leads to cramping. It would be helpful to practice yoga stretches that help to relieve tension and get our blood moving, such as child’s pose, pigeon or happy baby during the week before our periods to avoid PMS.  

Stick It To The Man, And PMS   

Acupuncture is not a new practice by any means, but it is starting to become more mainstream as of late, even in the western medicine world. Getting stuck with a needle has never felt so good! Hear me out here guys, research shows acupuncture is very effective at treating PMS. One study found that acupuncture quelled symptoms in 78 percent of women. They believe acupuncture may increase circulation and elevate endorphins, which enhances mood and alleviates pain. Most women experience PMS relief within 24 hours after a session.  

With results such as these, it’s definitely worth checking out at least once to see if acupuncture would be a good solution for you. There are so many great acupuncture facilities around that offer great deals, such as Brooklyn Open Acupuncture in downtown Brooklyn, that operates on a sliding scale, meaning you pay between  $20-$50 for an appointment; you get to choose what you pay depending on your financial situation.   

Poppin Pills Like Candy 

Supplements are a great way to get a ton of extra nutrients and beautifying superfoods by simply adding them to a smoothie or taking them as pills with our other daily vitamins. There are so many great superfood supplements out there that can help to naturally relieve PMS symptoms; it seems silly to not take advantage of their awesome healing powers. 

  • Vitamin D– We can get our daily dose of Vitamin D from the sun, but in most places it’s hard to get enough exposure on a regular basis, which means that many of us are actually deficient in Vitamin D. Fortunately, in this case, there are many ways in which we can supplement our vitamin D intake. We can do this my taking Vitamin D supplements, or by consuming foods and other supplements that are high in vitamin D, such as cod liver oil, margarine, egg yolks and oily fish. 
  • A recent trial discovered that Vitamin D supplementation significantly reduced anxiety, irritability, and sadness in young women with associated mood disorders linked to PMS. “Researchers found that vitamin D levels fluctuate during the menstrual cycle. In addition, studies have shown vitamin D levels are related to anxiety and depression. Based on these observations, researchers conducted a study to assess whether Vitamin D supplementation reduces the severity of mood disorders associated with PMS in young women,” spoiler alert, it does. 
  • Maca– Maca has a history of boosting hormone production. Many women notice fewer PMS symptoms, increased fertility, and improved skin. Maca is also high in minerals and essential fatty acids, making it great for hormones. As an added bonus Maca has a rich caramel taste, making it a great add-on in a sweet smoothie! 
  • Magnesium– Magnesium often contributes to better sleep (which is great for our hormones). Natural Calm is a great magnesium product to help calm and relax our bodies and often greatly helps both PMS symptoms and menstrual cramping, especially during stressful times, such as that time of the month (wink, wink.) 
  • Calcium- Calcium is a very effective supplement in helping to reduce PMS symptoms. In a recent study, researchers found that women with PMS who took a 500-milligram calcium supplement twice a day for three months had significantly reduced levels of fatigue and appetite changes. Another study revealed that taking 1200 mg of calcium a day helped reduce women’s emotional and physical PMS symptoms.  
  • Vitamin B– B Vitamins are essential to cellular functions throughout the body including metabolizing carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. In addition, they balance mood, reduce anxiety and soothe irritability. 

Smells Like Teen Spirit 

Essential oils are blowing up right now and for good reason. These potent little guys are natural remedy powerhouses. Essential oils have benefits ranging from cleaning products, bug repellent, anti-depressant, and yep, you guessed it PMS relief

Essential oils can be an effective natural treatment for PMS. Clary sage oilhelps to naturally balance hormones, by rubbing 2-3 drops of oil on our lower abdomen. Cypress oil can improve circulation and lessen pain from cramping by applying several drops onto our lower abdomen as well.  

Several drops of ylang-ylang oil along with lavender oil can be applied to the back of the neck to help reduce tension and stress. Peppermint oil can also be used with a warm compress to help reduce pain. 

Whichever method you choose, just remember that we are all different and some of these natural remedies may work better for you than others, but make sure to do what is best for you and your body. If you feel good and are happy with what you are doing, then that’s all that matters!

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The Healing Powers of Himalayan Salt Lamps

Himalayan Salt lamps are all the rage right now, and for good reason. Not only are they visually pleasing to look at, but they are also known to carry plenty of healing powers and health benefits, ranging from purifying the air to helping boost energy levels. With all of these amazing benefits, it’s crazy to think that all you have to do to experience these wonderful therapeutic powers is to simply plug it in.

By nature salt is hygroscopic, which means the lamps attract water molecules from the air; trapping dirt, pollen, and smoke particles, which are carried in water vapor, thus having a purifying effect on the air around it.

This purifying effect also helps in reducing allergy symptoms that are related to dust and dander, since the cause of the allergy is being eliminated in the air, the symptoms will dramatically subside.

By releasing negatively charged particles into the air the lamps can help to reduce electromagnetic radiation from household electronics, such as computers and cell phones. This means that having a lamp on your desk or near where you use your electronics frequently, is a good idea.

Speaking of electronics, research has shown that the blue light given off by phones and other electronic deceives can mess with our sleep hormones and disrupt our sleeping patterns.  Alternatively, salt lamps give off a warm orange glow similar to that of fire or candlelight, giving our eyes a rest from the harsh glow of our computers and cell phones.

  • ProTip, make sure to utilize the NighShift option on your cell phones, this will automatically switch your phone from blue to orange light, according to the rising and setting sun.

For this reason, Salt lamps are great light sources in the evening to help us relax while trying to fall asleep and can be used as a nightlight without negatively affecting our sleep.

These soothing lamps may also help boost mood and energy levels, the soft orange hues are one of the soothing colors often used for calming and to increase focus.

Using salt lamps for color therapy can help to increase energy levels, and induce a clearer mental state,  not to mention, we could all do with more beauty in our lives and there is no denying the beauty and calming effect that these lamps can have on us.

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