Summer Skin Woes? This Soothing DIY Gel Can Help

Ah, summer. We’ve waited all year for your sunny days, jacket-free temperatures, beach weekends, and watermelon-filled barbecues. The skin issues, like sunburn, thousands of bug bites, and shorts chafing, though? Not so much.

If you’ve got a fair complexion, ‘sweet’ mosquito-magnet blood, or just all-around sensitive skin, your summer skin-care routine needs to be jam-packed with soothing ingredients. We love this DIY skin-soothing gel recipe for when we’ve spent a little too much time in the sun or gotten eaten alive by bugs in the backyard.

Show your skin some TLC with these three simple ingredients:

– 4 drops chamomile essential oil
– 5 drops lavender essential oil
– 4 Tbsp aloe vera gel

Aloe vera, our go-to summer skin savior, contains vitamin A (which supports cell health and growth), vitamin C (an antioxidant that fights the cell damage involved in aging), and a compound called barbaloin (another antioxidant). Plus, because aloe is made up mostly of water, it helps hydrate your skin, too. Meanwhile, both chamomile and lavender have long been used in schools of traditional medicine for their calming qualities—and they give this gel a lovely scent!

All you have to do is mix your ingredients and store the gel in the refrigerator for an instant cooling, soothing sensation whenever your skin is crying out.

Pin this recipe card to your fridge or bathroom mirror for quick reference all summer long:


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I Took Collagen ‘Beauty Shots’ For A Month—Here’s What Happened

With my 30th birthday approaching sooner than I’d like, I’ve spent a lot of time recently looking into how to switch up my beauty routine in order to stave off the inevitable wrinkles. I tried Botox about eight months ago, and while I liked how smooth it made my forehead, it’s not exactly the most cost-effective method to keep lines at bay. So when I heard about Reserveage Nutrition’s Watermelon Mint Beauty Shotsantioxidant and collagen protein-packed beauty drinks that can be taken daily to support healthy, youthful skin—I knew I had to give them a, well, shot. I decided to down one every day for a month in hope of more youthful skin on the horizon.

What’s In A ‘Beauty Shot,’ Exactly?

The star of Reserveage’s beauty shots is the ever-trending collagen protein. “Collagen, an essential building block of healthy skin, is the protein matrix that keeps skin firm and strong,” says Bobby Buka, M.D., board-certified dermatologist and contributing founder and chief science officer of First Aid Beauty. “This collagen can become easily damaged as a result of our daily exposure to environmental factors such as sunlight and pollutants.” And when collagen breaks down, you can say hello to wrinkles.

Each beauty shot (three ounces) contains five grams of hydrolyzed collagen, along with a few other skin-loving ingredients like 90 milligrams of vitamin C (which protects against environmental damage that causes aging), 15 milligrams of biotin (the B vitamin that supports strong skin, hair, and nails), and hydrators like hyaluronic acid, cucumber extract, and aloe vera extract. The label references a study that found that 2.5 grams of collagen per day increased skin elasticity after just four weeks, so considering the beauty shots contained twice that amount of collagen, I was optimistic!

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“When we take collagen, it gets broken down into amino acids by our digestive system,” says Monique Chheda, M.D., board-certified dermatologist. “These amino acids are then absorbed through the gut.” Once absorbed, collagen can be utilized throughout our entire body—not just our skin—so there’s no guarantee where it’ll end up, she explains. (Collagen is also important for gut and joint health.) Though more research is needed on collagen’s skin benefits, both docs I spoke with said there certainly wouldn’t be any downsides to getting more of it!

Shots, Anyone?

As a beauty writer, I have access to the best skin-care products (#workperks) and know I have to be very diligent with sunscreen, so my skin started off in pretty good shape. That said, though, I have started to notice itty-bitty lines forming at the corners of my eyes, and that my face looks more tired and dull than it did in my early and mid-20s.

So given how important collagen is for skin health—and how much pollution I’m exposed to living in New York City—I was pumped to add these beauty shots to my daily routine and see whether I’d notice any differences after a month.

Related: Which Type Of Collagen Is Right For You?

I kept the rest of my relatively low-maintenance beauty routine exactly the same so I could measure whether or not the collagen shots were doing anything: I used a gentle facial cleanser morning and night, applied sunscreen in the morning, and continued my usual retinol serum before bed (retinol is the gold standard wrinkle-fighting ingredient). Once a week, I slathered on a brightening face mask.

I’m always in a rush to get to the office on time in the morning, so I stashed my shots in my bag the night before so I wouldn’t forget to take them. Still, I got home from work most days that first week only to find the shot still in my bag—so I had my first few shots for dessert. Once I started taking them out of my bag as soon as I sat down at my desk, though, getting into the routine grew easier. On crazy-busy days, I often didn’t get around to imbibing until the afternoon, so instead of going out for my usual iced hibiscus tea at three o’clock, I made the beauty shots my afternoon treat. (I consider the four bucks a day I saved a major perk of the experiment.) I even packed a few shots with me on a long weekend of traveling for a friend’s wedding, and knocked them back before moving onto more traditional celebratory beverages (a.k.a. actual shots).

I expected the shots’ watermelon mint flavor to be overly sweet and artificial (when I hear anything is watermelon-flavored, I automatically assume it’s going to taste like a Jolly Rancher), but it was really delicious! Nice and subtle with no weird aftertaste. And despite all of the ingredients in there, the shots went down like water. I worried they’d be goopy or chalky, but they had a thin, pleasant texture. I came to really enjoy drinking my shot every afternoon, and was sad when my 30 days were up.

My Complexion, A Month Later

After 30 days of dutifully downing my shots, I didn’t notice a change in the wrinkles around my eyes—but I did, however, notice that my complexion looked all-around glowier than usual. Prior to the beauty shot experiment, my entire face had been looking pretty lackluster, but the area underneath my eyes had really been riding struggle bus (which probably has something to do with the fact that I don’t always get a full eight hours of sleep) and I often sported dark circles.

By the time my month-long shot habit came to a close, though, not only did my entire face look brighter, but my under-eye area looked much more, well, alive. I even stopped applying under-eye concealer! Since dullness was something I was looking to address, I was really happy to see that these shots had some effect.

Plus, there was another surprising benefit from taking the shots: My nails suddenly felt harder and stronger. (Chheda told me that research suggests biotin may be helpful for strengthening nails, so I credited the biotin in the shots for the unexpected perk.) I bite my nails and they normally break very easily, but by the end of the 30 days, I realized I hadn’t dealt with a cracked nail since before I started guzzling the shots.

Glowy skin aside, I’d continue drinking the shots just to keep my nails strong year-round!

Want to try Reserveage’s Beauty Shots for yourself? Treat yourself to a six pack or two.

Castor Oil Is Making A Comeback—Here Are 4 Health-Boosting Reasons To Use It

If your pantry is already stocked with natural superstar ingredients like apple cider vinegar and coconut oil, there’s another multi-purpose staple that should be on your radar (and on your shelf): castor oil.

Castor oil, which hails from Africa and India, has been used for health and well-being—especially for hair, skin, and digestion—for hundreds of years. The oil contains high concentrations of a hard-to-find fatty acid called ricinoleic acid that experts believe is responsible for many of its benefits, explains Traditional Chinese Medicine specialist Elizabeth Trattner, A.P.

Want to reap the benefits of this ancient oil for yourself? Here are five ways castor oil can do your body good, inside and out.

1. Boosts Lymphatic Function, Detoxification, And Immunity

Our lymphatic system, which consists of a network of hundreds of connected lymph nodes, is responsible for dispersing immune-boosting white blood cells throughout our body and filtering out waste and toxins. But if our lymph nodes don’t drain and transport their lymph fluid properly (which can be caused by high doses of medication, lack of activity, and certain diseases), they can affect our liver’s ability to detoxify our body.

To boost lymphatic function, Trattner recommends applying DIY castor oil packs. Research published in the Journal of Naturopathic Medicine shows that castor oil triggers our body’s production of lymphocytes (a.k.a. white blood cells), and thus can support proper lymphatic drainage and immunity. “I used to use castor oil packs to support my liver through all the asthma medication I was on,” she says. “I would soak old rags in castor oil, wrap them around my midsection over my liver, cover them with towels, plastic wrap them, and apply heat.”

Research suggests castor oil packs need to be applied for two hours, so try wrapping yourself up before your next weekend Netflix session.

2. Supports Regular Toilet Time

Castor oil has long been used to ease constipation, and now researchers know how it works: The oil’s ricinoleic acid binds to certain receptors in the muscles throughout our digestive system and causes them to contract, which helps move waste through and out of our system. (Fun fact: Because of this effect, castor oil was also traditionally used to induce labor!)

If you’ve never taken castor oil before, start with just an eighth of a teaspoon, and gauge how your system reacts, recommends Mariana Daniela Torchia, Ph.D., R.D., M.P.H. Otherwise, take up to half a teaspoon to help you go.

3. Nourishes Skin

Want dewy, soft skin? Consider adding castor oil to your skin-care regimen.

Because it’s made up of fatty acids—especially that ricinoleic acid—castor oil helps to soothe and lock moisture into the skin, explains Trattner. In fact, castor oil is a popular ingredient in tons of cosmetic products already on store shelves—it may even be in a lotion or moisturizer you already use! (It’s typically listed as ‘Ricinus Communis.’)

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Since castor can be allergenic for some people, apply a small amount to the back of your hand to test for any allergic reaction or sensitivities before slathering it all over your body. If you’re good to go, mix a little castor oil into your moisturizer or massage the oil into your skin before bed (rinse off any excess in the morning).

4. Conditions Scalp And Hair

Castor oil can also be used as a natural conditioner, and can bring moisture back into dry locks and nourish your hair follicles. “Castor oil and its benefits for scalp, hair, and eyebrow health have been believed and followed for ages,” Trattner says. In addition to its moisturizing fatty acids, vitamin E also contributes to the oil’s conditioning effects.

Related: I Tested 8 Different Health And Beauty Uses For Apple Cider Vinegar

To use castor oil as a scalp treatment, wet your hair, massage a few teaspoons into your scalp for about two to three minutes, and rinse. To condition your strands, you can either add a few drops of castor oil to your usual conditioner or deep condition by rubbing the oil directly into your hair. If deep conditioning, let the oil work its magic for about 30 minutes and then rinse.

Intrigued? Pin this infographic for future reference!

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All The Ways I Use Castor Oil In My Beauty Routine

Castor oil has been used in beauty and wellness rituals for centuries, particularly in India and across Africa. My mother, who is Romani, has always used castor oil liberally on her skin, from head to toe, and I was lucky to learn her beauty tips.

Castor oil is made by cold-pressing the ricinis communis—or castor—plant. It contains triglycerides (a type of fat), so it’s thick and gooey. Some people find that castor oil, because of its texture, feels a little tacky on the skin. Personally, I’m down with the thickness. If I do want to lighten it up, I’ll combine it with other nourishing oils, like sweet almond, jojoba, or coconut oil, which are less viscous (and add a sweet scent).

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Here are all the ways I use castor oil in my beauty and wellness routine:

For my hair

I’ve noticed that thick, glossy, and hydrated hair is a bit more achievable with a little help from castor oil. Here’s how I pull it off:

Nourishing Scalp Oil Treatment

I massage this warm oil elixir into my scalp to nourish my roots and keep my scalp flake-free and moist:

I warm this mixture briefly on the stove (I don’t boil it—I just warm it up). Next, I massage the warm oil into my scalp, using my fingers to work the oil into the roots, which stimulates blood flow (and supports healthy hair!). I leave this to sit for 20-30 minutes before I rinse it out.

Hydrating Overnight Hair Mask

My hair tends to be thick and dry like a horse’s tail, so overnight hair masks are an integral part of my hair care—keeping it soft, shiny, and voluminous.

Here’s what I use:

I shower, towel dry my hair, warm the mixture on the stove, and then apply it to my hair—from root to ends. I then wrap my hair in a warm towel (or Saran Wrap) and settle into bed. In the morning, I shampoo it out and then use conditioner.

Hair Gloss & Split End Sealer

Even after washing and conditioning, the ends of my hair are often still dry. I don’t cut my hair nearly as often as most folks do—partially due to cultural reasons, and partially due to being cheap!—so I always need a little help with my split ends.

While nothing but a trim can truly get rid of split ends, a few drops of castor oil worked into the ends of my hair will make it appear smooth, shiny, and soft. I also try not to wash my hair more than twice a week, and when I’m in between washes, I’ll add a couple of drops to enhance its shine and softness.

Full Lashes & Brows

Before I was allowed to wear makeup, my mother pacified my desperation by teaching me how to smooth a drop of castor oil into my eyebrows to make them darker, and to carefully cover my lashes with castor oil to make them appear fuller and more defined.

The best part? The oil seems to encourage hair growth, so I actually noticed thicker and longer lashes and fuller brows. These days, I do this treatment at night before bed. On my no-makeup days, I still use the trick to add a natural pop to my eyes.

For my hands and feet

Hands and feet get a lot of wear and tear. This is why I sometimes massage castor oil into my hands and feet as a bedtime ritual.

First I’ll exfoliate with pumice and a good sugar or salt scrub, and then I’ll apply the castor oil. And if I’m really committed, I’ll also wear cotton socks and gloves to trap the moisture. In fact, my mother, who suffers from scleroderma, a painful disease that hardens the organs (including your skin), always goes to bed while wearing castor oil and little white cotton gloves.

Related: All The Ways I Use Tea Tree Oil In My Beauty Routine

For my nails

To keep my nail beds strong and conditioned, I often rub a few drops of castor oil into my bare nails after filing and buffing. The oil softens my cuticles, so I can easily push them back down to encourage nail growth.

For my Skin & face

Facial for Dewy Skin

Everyone’s skin is different, of course, but castor oil never seems to clog my pores. Instead, it leaves my skin smooth and hydrated. Sometimes, at the end of the day, my skin will feel irritated and dry from wearing makeup. When that happens, I pat warm or room-temperature castor oil into my face, neck, and décolletage after cleansing and toning.

Other times, if my skin is feeling very dry or irritated, I’ll leave the oil on all night, waking with smooth and plumped skin in the morning. Oh, and for any spots I might have, I’ve found castor oil especially effective for soothing irritated skin.

Fading Scars & Stretch Marks

I apply castor oil nightly to scars, or to skin that may scar later on. I’ve noticed that the oil keeps scars and stretch marks moisturized, which helps fade their appearance. The scars I do have are definitely less visible after being diligent about this particular beauty practice.

Healthy Lips

I love a good lip mask and treatment, but castor oil is my trusted standby. I smooth a very thin layer of castor oil on my lips before applying lipstick to keep them moisturized (though not necessarily slick). If they feel dry during the day, I sometimes add another drop of castor oil on top of the color, keeping it highly pigmented—with a touch of shine.

The Oil You’ve Never Heard Of That Saved My Face

Anyone who has dry skin knows that managing it can be a never-ending, often painful challenge. The most uncomfortable permutation of my own dry skin is the malar rash I get on my face. A malar rash is also known as a “butterfly rash”—an irritated patch of skin that stretches across the cheeks and over the bridge of the nose.

Two years ago, I had flaky and sore neon-pink triangles on either side of my nose. After a wash, the dead skin would peel off leaving the skin raised and inflamed. This was the kind of enemy that could not be defeated by mere soap and coconut oil. 

Fed up with the affliction, I wanted to finally nail down an effective skin routine that didn’t take hours or leave me feeling raw. My skincare-enthusiast friends expertly assembled an assortment of expensive, high-quality products that promised to fix my face: cleanser, gentle exfoliant, toner, and moisturizer. What could possibly go wrong?

Well, first of all, all those excellent products didn’t work. The rash persisted. Moisturizers failed, making me feel like I was wearing a cling-film mask. And the toner dried out my damaged skin even more.

But everything changed when my friend sent me a bottle of maracuja oil. The contents of the enticing little bottle hadn’t worked for her oily skin type, so when she heard about my skincare struggles, she passed it along.

After just one application, I was hooked.

Maracuja oil comes from the seed of the passionfruit, known to scientists as Passifloraedulis, which is native to tropical and subtropical areas in South America. Products bearing the same name may also come from Passiflora incarnata, more commonly referred to as a passion flower, which is a wild vine that populates the southern United States. Both varieties are packed with nutrients known for promoting skin health, most notably the antioxidants vitamin C and vitamin B, as well as oleic and palmitic fatty acids.

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For optimal results, I rub an approximated silver dollar amount over my hands and massage it into my face. Since I use so much oil, it does take a minute or so to work it in, but my desert-dry face absorbs the moisture like a dehydrated sponge. To finish the job, I like to apply a vitamin E cream on top.

I apply the oil after cleansing in the morning and before going to bed. Using it gives me an extra layer of protection against the elements and keeps my face feeling supple and healthy.

Though my skin sometimes maintains a little redness, the hydration provided by the maracuja oil has helped manage the flaky dryness and keeps the area smooth. I’m also pleased to note that long-term use has not resulted in any pore clogging or increase in pimple activity!

Related: All The Ways I Use Tea Tree Oil In My Beauty Routine

Maracuja isn’t the only oil I use to tame the horsemen of the apocalypse doing their best to wreak havoc on my face. I also love camellia oil as a make-up remover and cleanser. I have experimented with various other oils as a primary staple, but many make me feel greasy, rather than hydrated.

Ultimately, this oil has been a lifesaver. Total game changer. My holy grail skincare product. After implementing it into my routine, I was suddenly taking selfies without a filter and admiring the natural glow my skin developed after regular applications.

Before, using makeup to cover the bright patches on my cheeks was necessary but frustrating, as the texture was visibly unpleasant and removal was always painful. Now, if I do wear concealer or foundation, my face isn’t a disaster zone when it comes time to take it off at the end of the day. I’m like, “Foundation-who?”

Many people I’ve encountered say they avoid maracuja oil because they’re familiar with it only through the super-expensive versions sold by luxury brands. This breaks my heart, considering that you can find affordable versions—like this oil from Shea Terra Organics—without dropping all your cash.

Best of all? I was able to forego the million-step skincare routine so many others before me have endured. Maracuja oil spares my face and my fragile attention span by keeping things neat, clean, and simple.

All The Ways I Use Tea Tree Oil In My Beauty Routine

One of the greatest things about the beauty world is the diversity of methods, products, and natural ingredients from all over the world—along with the amount of cultural exchange it can foster.

With my family being half Italian and half Romani (a diasporic ethnic group from India, more commonly known by the racial slur “Gypsy”), I was lucky to grow up with a lovely mish-mash of beauty rituals involving oils, flower essences, and sometimes elaborate practices.

In fact, my Romani mama is a former bikini model and aerobics instructor, so she was always looking to improve her beauty routine. In the ‘70s she discovered tea tree oil, and when I was in middle school she introduced me to it, telling me that tea tree oil was the key to clear and healthy skin, hair, nails, and even teeth. I don’t remember her having any blemishes to speak of, so I assumed it either worked well or she was a witch of some kind.

I, on the other hand, did have some blemishes to test on, and got right down to it. And it turns out that she was right! I saw noticeable improvements in my skin, and it has been a fixture in my beauty arsenal ever since.

My mother and I love it, but the science speaks for itself: Studies have found that tea tree oil has cleansing and purifying properties. In fact, people indigenous to Australia have recognized the stuff’s efficacy for a long time.

Here’s how I incorporate tea tree oil into my beauty routine. Tip: Just be sure to test it out on a small patch of skin before you use it!

1. As a cleanse

I tend to get acne if there’s even a trace of makeup left on my face at night. Since I model, I often have a full face of makeup on and get home late at night completely exhausted. I have to fight the urge to just crawl into bed, no matter how wonderful that would feel.

I find that I can get excited about my skincare routine if I’m excited about the products I’m using. This makes my beauty routine feel less like a chore and more like self-care. (FYI: An oil-based cleanser, like Shea Moisture Sensitive Skin Facial Cleansing Oil, does an excellent job of getting off tough to remove makeup.)

After I’ve removed my makeup, it’s time to cleanse with tea tree oil. I turn this into a little bit of a facial massage by rubbing together some warm water and a few drops of tea tree oil along my jawline, nose, and cheekbones. Then, I rinse.

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2. As a mask

I use a tea tree oil-based clay face mask about once a week to draw out any impurities. My mother has been using Aztec Secret Bentonite Healing Indian Clay since the ’70s, and passed the secret on to me.

Like a lot of beauty gurus and bloggers do, I mix a tablespoon of the clay in a bowl with a tablespoon of Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar for clear skin (I love the fizzing sound it makes!), a dollop of royal jelly honey for moisture, and a drop or two of tea tree oil for its added benefits.

I apply the mixture to my face (it will probably tingle a little from the tea tree oil), leave it on for 10-20 minutes, and then remove with water to reveal a glow.

3. As a toner

Some toners can really dry out the skin, making oil production and acne even worse in the long run. Today, I use what my mother prefers: Thayer’s Witch Hazel Alcohol Free Toner. She taught me to swipe it—along with a drop of tea tree oil—over my face after cleansing to remove any remaining residue and to tighten my pores.

4. As a spritz

Spritzing facial mist throughout the day is one of my most beloved beauty discoveries. It keeps me looking fresh and awake. Here’s a spritz recipe I make on my own:

I combine it all in a spray bottle, shake, and spritz my face a couple of times a day when I need a pick-me-up.

Related: 5 DIY Skin Treatments Beauty Experts Swear By

5. As dental care

Tea tree oil can also help support dental health (and it’s got a great fresh scent). I like this Desert Essence Tea Tree Oil and Neem Toothpaste in Wintergreen and their Tea Tree Oil Floss. I follow it all up with a mouthwash like Desert Essence Tea Tree Oil Mouthwash Whitening Plus.

I also like to make my own mouthwash with naturally cleansing ingredients.

DIY Mouthwash

6. As hair care

In the winter, I tend to get a dry, flaky scalp and it drives me absolutely crazy. Over the years, I’ve come up with a few different ways to combat it, and tea tree oil’s cleansing properties make it a star ingredient. I simply mix a few drops of tea tree oil into my shampoo or condition and then smooth it through my hair as normal.

7. to support nail health

Due to tea tree oil’s cleansing properties, it can be great for nail health. When my nails are looking a bit yellow or brittle, I add a few drops of tea tree oil to my hand and foot cream and rub into my cuticles and nails.

8. to support beauty sleep 

Aromatherapy always makes me feel a little better. When I’m stressed out, I like to add three drops of lavender oil, two drops of tea tree oil, two drops of eucalyptus oil, and one drop of peppermint oil to my diffuser. I feel like it helps me breathe more deeply, reduce my congestion, and catch up on my beauty sleep.

I Tried A Charcoal Peel-Off Mask—Here’s What My Skin Had To Say

From pimple-popping to drag queen transformations, there’s something inexplicably satisfying about watching the Internet’s unusual assortment of viral beauty videos. But none ignites my fascination—and horror—more than a charcoal peel-off face mask trial. (If you haven’t witnessed YouTuber Tiffany’s disastrous peel-off experience, stop reading this and go watch it now.)

Painful mishaps aside, these black goo-like masks promise to reveal smoother, blackhead-free skin. The charcoal found in peel-off masks is activated charcoal, which has been heated to a very high temperature to make it more porous. The idea is that the pores produced during the process help the activated charcoal absorb extra bacteria and other molecules from your skin. “In a peel-off mask, charcoal can draw out bacteria and dirt from the skin to the surface, so it can then be washed off,” explains Gary Goldenberg, M.D., of Goldenberg Dermatology.

Related: 5 Health And Beauty Uses For Activated Charcoal

I’ve been genetically gifted (*sarcasm*) with an acne- and oil-ridden complexion—and though my acne was much worse during my teen years, I continue to deal with lingering purple-y blue scars, bulging cystic time-of-the-month pimples, and random whiteheads that pop up for no reason at all. And though my current skin-care routine includes a cocktail of creams, toners, and moisturizers, I don’t really do much to remove impurities—I just try to cover and moisturize them. So the notion of quite literally ripping them from my face certainly appealed. Curious (and slightly afraid), I decided to try the trend out for myself and see if it benefited my complexion.

Application #1: My Mask Doesn’t Look (Or Feel) Right

On morning one, I stood at my bathroom mirror before work with a bottle of BioMiracle’s Detoxifying Charcoal Peel-Off Mask in hand, ready to make the pore-purification magic happen. The bottle promised ‘a visibly clearer, smoother, more clarified complexion.’ Yes, please.

I’m a total baby when it comes to pain, so as excited as I was to detox my face, I couldn’t help but think back to the cringe-worthy YouTube videos of painful peel-offs I’d seen. As I started to spread the mask across my freshly-washed face, my heart rate kicked up a bit. With the piercing screams of beauty vloggers ringing in my ears, I continued to cover my face with the thinnest possible layer of the mask.

The directions on the bottle said to apply an ‘even and thin, but opaque’ layer of mask, and as the mask dried I learned that ‘opaque’ was the key word there. Because I applied such a thin layer, the mask just crumbled off in pieces and had no discernible effect on my skin, other than leaving behind a few black specks that I had to rinse off. Fail.

Application #2: This is Surprisingly…Cathartic?

As instructed by the bottle’s directions, I waited a few days to use the mask again—even though I was pretty sure my first attempt didn’t count as an actual application. This time, I made a point to smear myself a nice opaque layer of mask despite my lingering nerves.

As the mask dried, I could tell it was appropriately thick this time; it felt tighter and tighter over my skin—especially when I tried to move my mouth or crinkle my forehead. After 30 minutes (during which I guzzled wine), my phone alarm alerted me it was time to remove the mask. I trudged to the bathroom, took a deep, deep breath, said a prayer, and began to peel away at the edges. This time it came off in (mostly) a single sheet.

The removal process was surprisingly cathartic—somewhere between the sensation of peeling off dried glue (you did that in school, too, right?) and ripping off a Band-Aid. I did experience some minor pain at first—something I attributed to extra hair around the outside of my face—but I could practically feel the mask stripping my pores of blackheads and oil, and it was so, so satisfying.

I analyzed my freshly-peeled complexion in the mirror, noticing a newfound smoothness as I ran my fingers across my oil-free face. Ahhhh. The little redness I noticed faded quickly, but my blackheads still persisted. (The mask also ripped off a whitehead I had, which was bleeding a little bit, so I made note to avoid putting the goop over any sensitive-looking pimples the next time around.)

The Next Few Applications: Instantly Gratifying Complexion Fixes

By the time I reached my third, fourth and fifth applications—about five, nine, and 14 days into my trial—I had perfected proper mask application and consistency. With each application, my confidence grew, and I applied an increasingly thick layer. The thicker the layer, the more painful the peel-off—but I found myself almost enjoying the pain.

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The results continued in a fairly predictable pattern: I’d remove the mask to find a smooth and grease-free complexion. Any redness would subside in the next hour or so.

The Final Verdict

Like most of the buzzy beauty products I’ve tried out, the charcoal peel-off mask seemed to be more of a short-term magician than a long-term miracle-worker. That being said, though, I will absolutely use this mask again—probably the night (or a few hours) before an event, so my skin will be fresh and shine-free when it counts.

Want to test a charcoal peel-off mask for yourself? Try BioMiracle’s Detoxifying Charcoal Peel-Off Mask.

6 Skin Issues Caused By Working Out—And How To Get Rid Of Them

Exercise does our bodies (and minds) a ton of good. But let’s be real: A hardcore sweat session doesn’t always have the greatest effect on our skin. All that sweat means lingering bacteria, which makes breakouts and rashes more likely to pop up—especially if you’re not wearing the right gear.

So what’s a fitness devotee supposed to do? Follow this expert advice for beating the most common workout-related skin issues out there and hopefully you’ll never have to deal with a butt bump—yep, they’re a thing—again.

Skin SOS: Chest And Back Acne

What it looks like: Scattered red and pink bumps of various sizes.

What’s happening: All sorts of culprits can cause body acne, but often it’s a result of oil, sweat, and bacteria getting trapped in the pores, says Elyse Shelger, R.N., area medical lead for the skin-care center Skin Laundry. You’re especially prone to body breakouts if you don’t shower right after you work out. And even if you’re not hanging out in sweaty clothes post-workout, the skin-care products or fabrics you’re wearing, or even your sheets and towels, could be irritating your skin.

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What to do: When you work out, wear materials that are breathable and moisture-wicking (like bamboo, cotton, GORE-TEX, and Spandex), and toss ‘em in the laundry ASAP post-sweat. Then, properly cleanse your skin as soon as possible with a soap or wash that contains salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide—both of which exfoliate, unclog pores, and fight acne.

Skin SOS: Face Breakouts

What they look like: Surface-level whiteheads, deep blackheads, small red bumps, or deep (and often painful) cystic pimples.

What’s happening: Like with your back and chest, when the pores on your face get clogged with oil, dirt, and bacteria, pink, inflamed bumps or pustules can pop up, says Julia Tzu, M.D., founder and medical director of Wall Street Dermatology.

Related: 4 Possible Reasons Why You’re Still Breaking Out As An Adult

What to do: First thing’s first: “Try not to wear makeup while working out, as the sweat and makeup can remain in your pores and lead to pimples,” says Shelger. Then, “Sanitize your yoga mats, wash any gym or yoga towels, and try not to touch your face after your hands have been in contact with dirty surfaces.” And—no ifs, ands, or buts—wash your face with a noncomedogenic (‘non-pore-clogging’) skin-care product as soon as you’re done working out, says Tzu. Micellar cleansing water or facial wipes can come in handy if you’re in a real time crunch.

Skin SOS: Chafing

What it looks like: Red, irritated skin that can be painful when exposed to the elements (including your shower).

What’s happening: Chafing simply indicates that a sensitive area of your body—usually your underarms, nipples, thighs, or the skin beneath tight sports bra or waist bands—has fallen victim to friction. Whether from your skin rubbing against itself or against irritating clothing, too much friction can lead to redness, bumps, and that awful stinging, says Shelger.

What to do: The best way to deal with chafing is to prevent it from happening in the first place. Before you sweat, apply petroleum jelly or chamois cream to spots that are prone to irritation, and avoid wearing textured clothing. If you do develop chafing, it’s important to keep the area clean and dry to prevent further irritation, Shelger says. Apply petroleum jelly regularly to help speed up the healing process.

Skin SOS: Athlete’s Foot

What it looks like: A dry, scaly rash that’s often accompanied by super-fun symptoms like itching, burning, stinging, and redness.

What’s happening: “Athlete’s foot is caused by a fungal infection,” says Shelger. “Like other fungi, it lives and grows best in damp environments. Wearing damp socks or shoes is the most common cause, but since it’s contagious, it can also be spread by walking barefoot in gyms, locker rooms, showers, and spas.”

What to do: Antifungal creams and powders are your best bet here, says Tzu. You can grab an over-the-counter tube at your local drugstore, but if the rash gets worse, you may need to see a doctor for a prescription-strength treatment. At home, you can also try soaking your feet in diluted vinegar, which creates an acidic environment that wards off bacteria. Fill a foot tub or bucket with one part water and one part vinegar, and soak your feet for up to 10 minutes a day until your skin clears up, she suggests.

To avoid getting the rash in the first place, never share shoes or walk barefoot on mats and floors, and remove sweaty socks as soon as your workout is over so your feet can breathe, suggests Shelger.

Skin SOS: Heat Rash

What it looks like: A red, inflamed rash or tiny pink blisters.

What’s happening: Typically, heat rash happens when heat and humidity block our sweat ducts, causing them to swell, says Shelger. It’s most common in areas where the skin folds (which are harder to keep dry), or where clothing creates friction.

What to do: If you already have those tiny heat rash bumps, all you can really do is keep the area clean to prevent further irritation. “Heat rash is usually self-resolving, requiring no treatment,” Shelger explains. But if you’re dealing with any uncomfortable symptoms—like itchiness, pain, or redness—a topical OTC steroid like cortisone cream may help, says Tzu.

Skin SOS: Butt Bumps

What they look like: Clusters of inflamed bumps on the buttocks that resemble pimples or terrible razor burn. They’re often itchy and can become crusty and sore-like in more serious cases.

What’s happening: Say hello to folliculitis, a.k.a. irritated hair follicles on your booty that are likely wigging out because of sweat, dirt, or bacteria clogging your pores. This can be caused by tight pants that cause friction and prevent your skin from breathing, or hanging out in sweaty workout gear for too long, says Shelger. Your backside is one of the most common spots for folliculitis, but it’s not the only place the bumps can pop up; any spot that’s cut off from oxygen and sitting in sweat and bacteria can fall victim.

What to do: Use a gentle benzoyl peroxide skin cleanser to help banish the bumps, suggests Tzu. Otherwise, make sure you’re wearing loose, 100-percent cotton undies when you work out (or consider going commando), and change out of damp clothes as soon as you’re finished.

5 DIY Skin Treatments Beauty Experts Swear By

We all have our go-to skin-care products—you know, the ones we always have stashed in our purses—but sometimes it’s fun (and super-effective) to play beauty chemist and whip up our own natural recipes. That’s why we asked five beauty pros to share their best DIYs; here are their favorite formulas for face masks, soothing spot treatments, and more.

 

1. Hydrating Facial Mist

When you’ve been out in the heat or just worked up a sweat at the gym, spritzing on a facial mist is a great way to calm and cool down your skin. The following recipe—courtesy of Shannon Smyth, founder of the beauty blog A Girl’s Gotta Spa!—contains aloe vera (which research has shown to have moisturizing properties) and a nourishing oil of your choice. (We suggest lavender oil, since studies have found it to be relaxing.)

Ingredients:
95 milliliters spring water
1 Tbsp pure aloe vera gel
5 drops pure lavender essential oil or pure orange essential oil
1 to 4 drops virgin olive oil or coconut oil

Directions: Combine all of the ingredients in a 100-milliliter spray bottle. Choose how much olive or coconut oil you add based on how dry your skin is, and leave it out altogether if you’re very oily. If you have sensitive skin, start out with just a drop of essential oil, since their concentrated potency can be irritating. Once your ingredients are all added, give the bottle a shake and spritz your face a few times whenever you need a pick-me-up. If you’re misting post-workout, just make sure to wash your face (you can use a towelette if you’re in a rush) first to get rid of any dirt and grime. Otherwise, you can spritz yourself whenever—it shouldn’t mess with any makeup you have on.

 

2. Moisturizing Face Mask

One of the sweetest ingredients in your cabinet—honey—has some serious skin-care benefits, with research published in An International Quarterly Journal of Research in Ayurveda supporting its ability to moisturize and soften skin. Makeup artist and beauty blogger Hillary Kline loves this face mask when she’s feeling dried out.

Ingredients:
2 tsp honey
3 drops rose water

Directions: Mix honey and rose water together to create a thick paste. Apply a thin coat all over your face. Let sit for 15 minutes, rinse off with cold water, and then follow up with moisturizer.

Related: 8 All-Natural Goodies To Make Your Face Glow

 

3. Soothing Spot Treatment

Dry, itchy patches of skin are a downer for anyone—unless you know a way to nix the discomfort. Enter this spot treatment recipe from Eliss Halina, esthetician and owner of Saul’s Beauty Shop in Toronto. The recipe features oatmeal, which a study in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology has shown to effectively soothe dry, itchy skin, and peppermint for instant cooling relief.

Ingredients:
1 cup milk
1 peppermint tea bag
¼ cup plain oats

Directions: Warm a bowl of milk in the microwave until hot, then steep a peppermint tea bag in it. As it steeps, grind your oats in a food processor. Place the ground-up oats in the center of a few layers of cheese cloth and pull the corners together to make a ball. Tie a string around the top of the ball to hold it shut, and place it into the milk. (When your finely-ground oats are placed in the hot liquid, they become ‘colloidal oats,’ the form that has been most widely studied and used in skin-care products.) Once the milk has cooled, dab the cheese cloth onto and itchy, dry patches.

 

4. Skin-Softening Body Scrub

One of the best ways to smooth rough patches of skin is by exfoliating—and body scrubs are quick and easy to whip up with ingredients you have at home. Roberta Perry, founder of ScrubzBody Skin Care Products, shares a simple scrub recipe made with moisturizing coconut oil and exfoliating sugar.

Ingredients:
1 cup white table sugar
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp grapeseed oil
2 Tbsp coconut oil
4 to 6 drops essential oil

Directions: Pour sugar into a bowl and add the oils one at a time. (For a grittier scrub, use one less tablespoon of each oil.) Stir the mixture thoroughly and add your essential oil fragrance a couple drops at a time until you’re happy with the scent’s potency.

 

5. De-Puffing Face Mask

Ever used cucumber slices to relax the skin below your eyes—or at least seen it in a movie? Well, there’s a reason this natural remedy is so popular: Cucumber contains vitamin C, an antioxidant that can soothe skin, says Zondra Wilson, creator and founder of the USDA organic Blu Skin Care. Her de-puffing face mask pairs cucumber with nourishing honey.

Ingredients:
1 cucumber, peeled and sliced
1 tsp honey

Directions: Puree cucumber slices in a food processor and pour into a bowl. Mix the honey in with a spoon. Massage the mask in a circular motion all over your face and lie down on your back with a towel under your head in case the mask drips. After 10 minutes, rinse the mask off with lukewarm water and follow up with your regular moisturizer.

6 Possible Reasons Why Your Teeth Are Yellowing

If recent toothpaste commercials prompted you to try the ‘tissue test’ and hold a bright white tissue up against your smile, chances are your suddenly lackluster-looking chompers made you feel self-conscious. After all, most of us aim for pearly whites—especially since research shows someone’s teeth influence our first impressions of them. But before you spend your paycheck on laser or at-home treatments, you should probably figure out what’s yellowing your teeth in the first place—because prevention is much cheaper!

It’s most likely one of these six culprits.

1. Medication Mayhem

That’s right, the very medicine you trust to support your health could actually be standing in between you and whiter teeth.

“Medications such as anti-histamines and anti-hypertensives can leave people with a dry mouth, which leads to staining,” says Mazen Chehab, D.M.D., of Town Center Family Dentistry. (Being on multiple medications at once can also have this effect.) You see, your saliva actually helps protect your teeth from stain-causing bacteria, acids, and leftover food—and without enough, your teeth are left unprotected.

Since giving up medicine isn’t always an option, the Mayo Clinic recommends drinking plenty of water—but not coffee or soft drinks, which also dry out your mouth—and chewing sugar-free gum to stimulate saliva production.

2. You Are What You Eat (And Drink)

If you’re a connoisseur of tea, coffee, soda, wine, curry, or literally any food or drink that has some color to it (processed foods included), chances are you’re staining your teeth. Even those innocent-looking blueberries in your morning oatmeal can contribute to discoloration!

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No one expects you to give up your nightly glass of Pinot Noir, but you should rinse your mouth out with water after eating or drinking anything particularly pigmented, says Gene A. Sambataro, D.D.S., F.A.G.D., of Julian Center Dentistry. You can also try a whitening activated charcoal toothpaste like My Magic Mud to ward off some inevitable food and drink staining, he says.

Related: I Brushed My Teeth With Charcoal For 2 Weeks—Here’s What Happened

3. Reflux Redux

As if the discomfort of acid reflux isn’t crummy enough, that gurgly acid can also discolor your teeth.

“Acid reflux, bulemia, and even vomiting during pregnancy, lead to acid erosion of the outer white enamel layer of our teeth, exposing the naturally-yellow inner dentin layer,” says Chehab. (Drinking a lot of soda can also have this unfortunate effect.)

Unlike food-, drink-, or dry mouth-related stains, a yellow smile caused by acid erosion is difficult to correct because you can’t bleach the inner layer of your teeth. “Some companies have developed pastes and gels using ingredients like tri-calcium phosphate to try to re-mineralize the white enamel layer, but that’s as close as we can get to ‘reversing’ the process,” Chehab says.

4. Wear and Tear

If you brush with a firm toothbrush, handle with care; all that extra elbow grease in the name of clean, shiny teeth can do more harm than good. In fact, many of our seemingly harmless day-to-day behaviors can contribute to unwanted stains over time. Grinding or clenching your teeth, using abrasive teeth-whitening remedies too often, and brushing too vigorously with a hard-bristled brush can wear down your enamel, revealing more and more of that yellowy inner tooth layer, says Chehab.

Treasure your chompers by brushing gently with a soft toothbrush, seeing your dentist if you clench or grind, and avoiding DIY teeth-whitening treatments that use abrasive ingredients, like baking soda, he recommends.

5. Age Effects

Like it or not, we all get older—and each passing birthday affects the state of our chompers. “As we age, the nerves in our teeth shrink and the teeth become darker,” says Scott Asnis, D.D.S., CEO and founder of dentistry franchise Dental365.

Since we can’t stop the clock, Asnis strongly recommends consistent dental cleanings to help your teeth stand the test of time. “Regular dental visits and professional-strength whitening products can help with yellowing, and your dentist can help you find the care options specifically catered to your needs,” he says.

6. Smoke

Any dentist will tell you that if you smoke, you’re going to end up with stained teeth. In fact, one study found that 81 percent of daily smokers reported having oral health issues within the last six months, with discoloration being their greatest concern (followed by dry mouth).

Do your smile—and overall health—a favor, and avoid nicotine and tobacco. But if the damage is already done, professional teeth whitening can help restore your smile.

10 Products That Can Save Your Flaky Winter Skin

We’re smack dab in the middle of winter—and that means there’s a very good chance your skin has reached the point of no return. We’re talking chapped, irritated, flaky, and dull. Dry winter air—and blasting central heating—seriously sap the moisture from your skin, making it essential that you use ultra-moisturizing products.

Here are 10 skin-care essentials that will soothe winter skin, along with a few expert tips for holding onto dear, dear hydration.

 

1. The Vitamin Shoppe Hyaluronic Acid Booster Serum ($6.29)

One of the best ingredients you can look for in skin-care products during the winter is hyaluronic acid, because it helps the skin retain moisture, says Julia Tzu, M.D., founder and director of Wall Street Dermatology. For an added layer of moisture, slather this hyaluronic acid serum on before applying your moisturizer.

 

2. Kiss My Face Olive & Aloe Ultra Moisturizer ($9.89)

You probably reach for aloe vera in the summer when you’ve gotten a little too much sun, but it can be useful year-round. Research published in the Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine found that aloe vera’s soothing properties can help with skin irritation. Plus, this moisturizer also features olive oil, another naturally potent moisturizer.

Expert tip: “Always apply moisturizer to damp skin,” says Tzu. “Moisturizers serve not just to hydrate the skin, but also to serve as a barrier from evaporative water loss.” Lotion up when your skin is mildly damp, like just after showering and toweling off, to retain as much moisture as possible.

 

3. Organic Doctor Manuka Honey Face Mask ($18.49)

Another great winter skin-care ingredient? Honey! The sweet, sticky stuff has been found to have emollient and humectant properties—meaning, it softens skin and draws moisture in, according to a study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology. So while this face mask deep cleans your pores, the honey also nourishes your skin. Twice a week, apply an even layer of this mask over cleansed skin, wait 10 minutes while it gets to work, and then rinse it off for softer, smoother skin.

 

4. Derma E Hydrating Eye Cream ($17.20)

Don’t forget about your delicate under-eye area—the skin there is thinner, so it’s definitely susceptible to winter dryness. This hyaluronic acid-rich eye cream is also jam-packed with antioxidants like green tea (to help protect against skin-damaging free radicals) and vitamin C (to boost brightness). Lightly dab a small amount around your eyes morning and night.

 

5. Heritage Rosewater & Glycerin ($5.99)

Similarly to hyaluronic acid, glycerin also draws moisture in to the skin, says Tzu. Rosewater, on the other hand, has been shown to have soothing properties. A spritz of this spray here and there can go a long way towards moisturizing your complexion. Apply it whenever your face needs a midday pick-me-up.

 

6. SheaMoisture 100% Virgin Coconut Oil Daily Hydration Body Wash ($9.99)

Push your moisture-stripping foam shower gels to the back of the shower and clean up with a coconut oil-infused body wash instead this winter. A study published in the journal Dermatitis found that applying coconut oil can help improve skin hydration. This body wash also contains coconut milk for an extra luxurious and silky feel.

Related: 12 Health And Beauty Uses For Coconut Oil

 

7. Okay Pure Natural Coconut Oil Ultra Skin Moisturizer ($4.99)

Make the most of coconut oil in every step of your skin-care routine by applying it to some of the most neglected skin on your body—your scalp. This oil (which also contains glycerin) feels heavenly when massaged onto your dry scalp. It’s also a great way to add moisture back into your hair—which, let’s face it, is also bound to dry out in the winter.

 

8. Nubian Heritage Raw Shea Butter Body Lotion ($9.99)

Another one of the most popular—and effective—ingredients you can use to moisturize dry skin this winter is shea butter, which contains essential fatty acids and vitamin E, and has been lauded for its ability to maintain skin’s suppleness. Research suggests it also helps sooth irritated skin. In addition to shea butter, this rich lotion is also infused with other nourishing ingredients like soy milk, jojoba oil, cocoa butter, and macadamia seed oil.

 

9. Dr. Bronner’s Naked Organic Lip Balm ($2.89)

Often the least protected from the elements, your poor lips probably take the biggest hit during the winter. That’s why you should stash a lip balm in every jacket pocket and bag you own. This one’s chock-full of nourishers like beeswax, avocado oil, jojoba oil, and hemp oil.

 

10. Duke Cannon Bloody Knuckles Hand Repair Balm ($10.99)

Your hands also bear a lot of the brunt of winter—especially if you wash them constantly to avoid getting whatever nasty bug is currently circulating around the office. That’s why coating your hands in moisturizer is a must. This one is made with lanolin (a.k.a. wool wax), a popular emollient (skin soother and smoother).

If your hands are particularly dry or chapped, apply a generous amount of balm before bed, and then slip on a pair of gloves. Applying this physical barrier over the moisturizer may help enhance hydration, says Tzu.

Besides using moisturizing products, Tzu also recommends drinking lots of water, using a humidifier, and avoiding hot-hot showers, which can strip natural oils from your skin.

Vitamin C Is As Important As Ever—And Not Just For Immune Support

You’ve probably popped a vitamin C-loaded tablet before flying or downed an extra glass of orange juice when you felt the sniffles coming on, but vitamin C does so much more than support your immune system, affecting everything from how well you absorb other nutrients and respond to injury to what your skin looks like.

Vitamin C may not be brand new or as trendy as reishi mushrooms, but it’s just as important as ever. Here’s everything you need to know about vitamin C, including the many ways it benefits your body, how much you need a day, and how to get your fill.

Key Health Benefits

Also known as ‘ascorbic acid,’ vitamin C is revered for its role in keeping our immune system healthy—which is why we talk about it so often during cold and flu season. Vitamin C is one of the most potent antioxidants out there, fighting off damaging particles called free radicals that can put our body in a state of oxidative stress, which has been implicated in illness and diseases like diabetes, Parkinson’s, and cancer. Plus, vitamin C can also help other antioxidants (like vitamin E) regenerate and keep fighting the good fight.

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Vitamin C also plays a role in the formation of collagen, a protein that’s crucial for connective tissues like skin, tendons, ligaments, and blood vessels, making it essential for our body to heal injuries or wounds, says dietitian Amy Goodson, M.S., R.D., C.S.S.D., L.D. In this same way, vitamin C is involved in maintaining healthy bones and teeth. (It’s no wonder that scurvy, the condition that occurs because of a severe lack of vitamin C, involves gum disease, bruising, and skin issues.)

Related: I Drank Collagen For 30 Days—Here’s How It Turned Out

Another key function of vitamin C is that it boosts our absorption of plant-based, or ‘non-heme,’ iron, which is about 10 percent less bioavailable than animal-based (‘heme’) iron. Iron helps carry oxygen to our muscles, cells and organs, and without an ample supply, our various body systems have less oxygen to work with, often leading to fatigue or lightheadedness. (This makes eating vitamin C—and pairing it with iron-containing foods—especially important for vegetarians and vegans.)

Long-term research suggests that those who eat higher amounts of antioxidant-packed foods have a reduced risk of high blood pressure, while low intakes have been linked with increased risk of peripheral artery disease, heart attack, and stroke.

Beauty Benefits

Not only does vitamin C bolster the function and health of body systems we can’t see, but it can also have a huge impact on one we can: our skin. You see, the free radicals that wreak havoc on our cells also affect our appearance, with ultraviolet light and pollution damaging the collagen in our skin and leading to premature wrinkles and dark spots, according to Joshua Zeichner, M.D., Director of Cosmetic and Clinical Research in Dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. One of our greatest weapons against these negative skin effects? You guessed it: vitamin C.

“Topically, vitamin C can help attain more youthful-looking skin with a brighter, more even skin tone,” adds Michelle Henry, M.D., clinical instructor of dermatology at Weill Cornell Medical College. The antioxidant targets two key factors in the aging process: It promotes healthy collagen production and inhibits enzyme action that spurs the formation of melanin (the pigment that adds color to skin and causes ‘dark spots’).

A study published in the American Journal for Clinical Nutrition also found that middle-aged women who consumed more vitamin C were more likely to have more youthful-looking skin (marked by less dryness and appearance of wrinkles).

How To Load Up

The National Institute of Health recommends 90 milligrams of vitamin C per day for men and 75 milligrams per day for women—but those who smoke may need an additional 35 milligrams per day. Plus, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding need 85 milligrams and 120 milligrams a day, respectively, according to Goodson.

Our body can’t produce this vitamin on its own, which means we have to get it through our diet or supplementation to reap its widespread benefits. And since vitamin C is water-soluble, it can’t be stored in the body, so we need to consume it regularly.

Luckily, many fruits and veggies are loaded with vitamin C, with red bell peppers (95 milligrams per half cup), oranges (70 milligrams per medium fruit), and broccoli (51 milligrams per cooked half cup) ranking as some of the top sources. There’s also a wide range of C supplements for people who aren’t always able to eat well-balanced meals.

To maximize your iron absorption, Goodson recommends adding a vitamin C-containing food (like citrus fruit, tomatoes, or strawberries) to meals that feature plant-based sources of iron (like spinach, nuts, and beans). For example, if you’re having a spinach salad topped with nuts and seeds, top it with mandarin orange or strawberry slices. You can also find supplements containing this important combo, like The Vitamin Shoppe’s Iron Complex.

If you want to slather vitamin C’s goodness straight onto your skin, Zeichner recommends reaching for serums, which contain high concentrations of the vitamin and are designed to enhance its delivery into the skin. (We recommend Derma E’s Vitamin C Concentrated Serum.)

One warning: “Vitamin C does not always play nicely with other ingredients,” says Zeichner, who doesn’t recommend combining vitamin C products with topical retinoids or alpha hydroxy acids. He also urges caution if you have very sensitive skin, since vitamin C may cause some irritation.

Keep vitamin C’s benefits top-of-mind with this quick infographic:

This Maple Syrup Mask Is Literally Breakfast For Your Face

As a lifestyle and beauty writer, I’m always down to try the latest trends—especially if it’s DIY and has anything to do with skin-care. I especially love face masks, not just because they’re easy to apply, but because they repair and protect my skin while giving it a soft and smooth finish. (It’s also important for me to make time once or twice a week to treat myself—and pampering my skin with a mask always provides the pick-me-up I need.)

My new favorite mask is one that’s quick and easy to whip up, and good enough to eat. For real. It’s got three simple ingredients: maple syrup, milk, and oatmeal.

Here’s why it works: The maple syrup is moisturizing and cleansing, and it contains antioxidants and free radical-fighting polyphenols. Oats are known for their gentle skin-smoothing abilities, and the milk contains skin health-boosting lactic acid.

The author before the face mask.

Before applying the mask, I wash my face with a simple cleanser to make sure my skin is receptive to the mask’s super-powers. After washing the mask off with warm water, I immediately feel a difference. My cheeks tend to get very dry in the colder months, but after applying this mask, they feel so soft to the touch. I also notice a decrease in facial redness the following day.

Here’s the recipe so you can try it out for yourself:

DIY MAPLE SYRUP FACE MASK

Ingredients

PREP

  1. Measure out your ingredients.
  2. Microwave the maple syrup in a bowl for 15-20 seconds. You want the maple syrup to get warm and pliable so it mixes with the oats and milk nicely.
  3. Add in the rest of the ingredients. Mix them together until they form a paste-like consistency.
  4. The texture of the mask will be thick and sticky—that’s good! It’s supposed to be that way. If you want a thinner texture, add a little bit more milk and stir. Just don’t add too much or the mask will become watery.

APPLICATION

  1. You can apply the face mask with your hands or a brush, but make sure you do it on clean skin.
  2. Wait 15 minutes before rinsing the mask off. You can go about your business (a.k.a. watching Netflix) until the 15 minutes are up.
  3. Rinse off with warm water and lightly towel dry your face with a cloth.
  4. I do this about once per week. You can do it more often if your skin feels dry or dull.

IMPROVISE!

The author after the face mask.

 

Here are some ways to double up on your mixture, in case you have leftovers:

  1. This mask isn’t just for your face. It can be used to soften dry skin on the back of your arms, your legs, or feet—anywhere you want to show a little extra love.
  2. Want more texture? Add a tablespoon of brown sugar to the mask for a more exfoliating experience.
  3. Apply the mask more regularly—twice a week is a great way to add moisture to skin that might be severely dehydrated, especially in the winter. Discontinue if you notice any irritation!

 

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4 Daily Habits That Are The Fountain Of Youth For Your Face

In a time when we’re all busy going, going, going, it’s tempting to look for quick fixes—especially when it comes to anti-aging and healthy skin. Nowadays, it seems like there’s a procedure to remedy just about any cosmetic grievance—but there are equally as many simple, scientifically-proven ways to slow down the hands of the clock. 

Maintaining that youthful glow doesn’t necessarily mean you need to splurge on expensive procedures or products. There are a bevy of daily habits that you can incorporate into your routine that actually provide great benefit to your skin. 

1. Wear sunscreen.

There’s a reason why you feel like you’re constantly being hit over the head with the directive to apply SPF: It works.

Sunscreen is probably more important than any nighttime moisturizing crème or pre-makeup oil, since wrinkles, freckles, and sun spots (and skin cancer) come from the sun. “Everyone must use a sunblock every day,” says Dr. Khalil Khatri of Skin & Laser Surgery Center of New England. “UV rays of sun can make changes in collagen in the second layer of skin, which leads to loose skin and wrinkles.”

It’s not just the summer sun putting you at risk—sunscreen should be used all year round.

Another pro tip: Just because your moisturizer says it contains SPF, it isn’t enough to protect you all day long without reapplication. According to the Mayo Clinic, we can get the most protection from sunscreen by applying it frequently, and with gusto. They advise that using two tablespoons of sun protection (about the equivalent of a shot glass) will adequately cover your face, neck, and the back of your hands. More is necessary to cover the rest of your body. Sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours if you’re outdoors.

Related: How To Choose The Best Sunscreen For You

2. Seriously, get some sleep.

Even if it feels impossible to hit the hay at a reasonable hour, your skin will thank you for it.

A study published in the journal Sleep focused on the “facial cues” a person may display when they are sleep-deprived. The results are enough to make all of us get under the covers earlier: “The faces of sleep-deprived individuals were perceived as having more hanging eyelids, redder eyes, more swollen eyes, darker circles under the eyes, paler skin, more wrinkles and fine lines, and more droopy corners of the mouth,” read the study results.

The observers involved also noted the sleep-deprived participants looked “sadder” than those who got seven-eight hours of sleep per night. So get your zzz’s—and cheer up!

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3. Stop scrubbing so hard.

Washing greasy dishes may require steel wool and elbow grease, but cleaning one’s face does not. Instinctively, it may feel as though the better we scrub, the cleaner our pores, but not so fast! That abrasiveness, even if using a seemingly soft washcloth, can damage the skin.

“One should keep the skin clean with mild, gentle soaps and apply light moisturizers immediately after taking a shower,” says Dr. Khatri.

Additionally, you’ll want to take care not to dry your face by rubbing it with a towel. Dr. Khatri recommends patting it dry instead of creating friction with rubbing. This gentle approach results in less irritated skin and a smoother, more youthful, appearance.

You can go all- or mostly-natural, too, when it comes to caring for the skin on your face. DIY facial toners almost always include apple cider vinegar, while beauty enthusiasts swear by turmeric, honey, and charcoal face masks.

Related: I Tested 8 Different Health And Beauty Uses For Apple Cider Vinegar

4. You are what you eat (and drink).

“There are many daily things that one can do to slow down the visible signs of aging—such as avoiding unhealthy, fatty, fried food,” advises Dr. Khatri. Also, you’ll want to drink tons of water, quit your tobacco vices, and limit your intake of alcohol—all things that dry out and harm our skin.

This brings us to our next point—water. Making hydration a priority in your day will reap endless rewards for your skin. It may sound like a broken record, but before you start rolling your eyes, you’ll want to know about a 2015 study published in Clinical, Cosmetic, and Investigational Dermatology. The study was designed to measure the impact of water intake on a person’s physical composition, particularly on the body’s largest organ: skin. A group of 49 females were categorized into two groups, with Group 1 consuming less water and Group 2 consuming more.

“Approximately two liters of water were added to the daily diet of Group 2 individuals for one month to quantify the impact of this surplus in their skin physiology,” explained the study authors.

Related: 8 Fun Ways To Drink More Water If You Hate Water

After measuring factors like deep hydration and transepidermal water loss [water loss from inside the body through the skin], researchers feel the results confirm “higher water inputs in one’s regular diet might positively impact normal skin physiology, as expressed by its hydration and biomechanical behavior, and in particular in those individuals with lower daily water consumptions.”

Sure, you can argue with science. But why bother? Pick up a glass of water and drink it—preferably several times a day. Mayo Clinic advises women drink 2.7 liters of water a day (the equivalent of 11.5 cups) and men gulp 3.7 liters (15.5 cups).

I Tried Coconut Oil Dental Care For A Week—Here’s What Happened

I don’t have the most comprehensive oral care routine. I brush twice a day with Sensodyne Pronamel Gentle Whitening Toothpaste, usually for about two minutes. Once a week, I floss and watch with dismay as blood fills up my mouth, sort of like I’m a satiated vampire.

It’s been a while since I’ve seen a dentist (my husband says it’s been over two years, though I think it’s only been one) so when I was given the opportunity to try some new and natural oral healthcare products from Desert Essence, I figured there would be no harm in it. 

I was sent a package of three products: Desert Essence Coconut Oil Toothpaste, Desert Essence Coconut Oil Mouthwash, and Desert Essence Coconut Oil Pulling Rinse (luckily I like the taste of coconut) and was instructed to use the products together for one week. According to the labels, the products provide “complete care for teeth and gums” and help your mouth to feel “clean and fresh.” Sounded good to me! 

The first night, I started with the Coconut Oil Toothpaste, then followed up with the Coconut Oil Mouthwash, which reminded me of a tropical adult beverage. What a shame to have to spit it out! These definitely didn’t taste like your average toothpaste and mouthwash—while there’s a tinge of mint flavor, it is subtle and mild. 

The final product I use was entirely new to me: the Coconut Oil Pulling Rinse. I was vaguely familiar with the concept of oil pulling, an ancient Ayurvedic tradition that involves swishing with oil for long periods of time, but had never actually considered trying it. A New-Age-y friend had recently started swearing by its oral-cleansing powers; however, I am not very New-Age-y, so I’d scoffed a bit at her zeal.

Related: I Tried Oil-Pulling for 2 Weeks—Here’s What Happened

 The instructions on the bottle said to work up to 20 minutes of swishing.

 “Are you kidding me?” I asked the bottle. I am not a patient person. I look for quick fixes. 

Well, I thought, I can do one of two things: I can either double-task and do something concurrent with swishing or I can try and be mindful and slow things down. So I lit a candle, sat on the bath-mat, and slowly swirled. For 20 minutes.

The oil rinse tasted mildly of coconut and had a pleasant consistency. When I was done, my mouth felt awesome—smooth, clean, and soft. And when woke up the next day, my mouth still felt great.

I liked the idea of incorporating oil pulling into my nighttime routine. As a person who suffers from insomnia, I have a lot of nighttime rituals. Most nights, I wash my face with ice-cold water and apply a variety of oils and creams. I drink a glass of water and take various vitamins. Then I crawl into bed, listen to a podcast, put on the sound of rain hitting the ground at medium speed, and occasionally pop an Ambien. It made sense to add a mindfulness exercise that also benefited my health.

The next night, I took a swig of the oil and started washing my face. Then I went through my other rituals. Ten minutes later, I was ready to crawl into bed, so I spat out the oil and called it a night. I still woke up with a mouth that felt fresh and teeth that felt oddly—but pleasantly—smooth. Not bad for 10 minutes!

I continued to brush and rinse with the Coconut Oil Toothpaste and Mouthwash, and they did their job well, but it was the oil pulling rinse that really surprised me. At the end of my week-long experiment with the products, I even decided to continue on with the oil pulling rinse as a part of my nightly routine. (I would be lying if I said I was going to use it every night for 10-20 minutes, but I will probably use it a few times a week for five minutes.) My mouth and teeth felt cleaner and healthier after having used it, and my breath even stunk less in the morning. Double-win!

8 All-Natural Goodies To Make Your Face Glow

When you’re attempting to lock down the perfect skin-care regimen, finding the products that will address your specific concerns can be extremely overwhelming. Simply investigating ingredients on every box and tube is enough to make your head spin. Thankfully, certain power-nutrients and natural kitchen staples can be utilized for a plethora of facial skin concerns, from acne to aging spots. Here, eight go-tos that experts love and research backs.

1. Vitamin C

Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is also one of the hottest nutrients in skin-care—with good reason.

“Every day our delicate skin is exposed to environmental pollutants, such as radiation, sunlight, cancer-causing free radicals, inflammation, and smoking,” explains Rebecca Lee, RN, founder of the natural health resource RemediesForMe.com. “Pollution breaks down our precious collagen and accelerates the aging process. Collagen is the bouncy structural protein that keeps our skin youthful and firm. As we age, the amount of collagen in our skin declines.”

Enter ascorbic acid. “Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant and collagen builder used in many skin serums,” says Emaline K. Brown, ND, a naturopathic doctor at Bastyr University Clinic in San Diego, CA. “Topical ascorbic acid has been shown to improve the appearance of age-related hyperpigmented and photodamaged skin.”

We recommend: The Vitamin Shoppe’s C-1000 Complex

2. Apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar can be used as a facial toner or mixed into face masks,” Lee says. Some ACV fans even swear it can reduce spots.

To make your own toner, add one tablespoon of ACV to one cup of warm filtered water. Use this mix to lightly clean your face with a cotton round. Depending on how sensitive your skin is, add more or less ACV.

If you’d like to experiment with DIY face masks, there are plenty out there that feature ACV—like this activated charcoal mud mask. (And if you just can’t get enough of the stuff, here are eight more health and beauty uses for ACV.)

We recommend: Bragg’s Raw Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar 

3. Vitamin B3

The B vitamin referred to as nicotinamide (or niacin) can help to minimize the appearance of age spots, according to a study in the British Journal of Dermatology. This is due to vitamin B’s ability to inhibit melanin transfer to skin cells, explains Dr. Brown.

We recommend:  Solgar’s 100 mg Niacin tablets

4. Honey

Brimming with amino acids, vitamins, minerals, iron, zinc and antioxidants, honey is an all-natural skin-cleansing and skin-soothing agent, says Dr. Lee.

Apply honey (organic and raw, like this YS Royal Jelly, is best, since it contains all-natural ingredients) directly to the skin, she recommends. “Leave the mask on for a few minutes, then rinse it off with warm water.” We recommend these Internet famous Manuka honey mask and scrub recipes.

Pro-tip: Include cinnamon in your mask mixture, as it can help the skin look younger, according to an article in Evidence Based Complimentary Alternative Medicine.

We recommend: YS Royal Jelly’s Raw Manuka Honey 

5. Zinc 

Though you might only associate zinc oxide with sunblock or antidandruff shampoo, it’s more than that: Zinc may actually help promote a balance in the production of oil in the skin—on top of helping to modulate some of the hormones that could lead to pimples, says Neha Suryawanshi, a nutritionist.

We recommend: The Vitamin Shoppe’s Zinc Capsules

6. Probiotics

You’ve heard of taking probiotics to bolster gut health, but good bacteria is also popping up in everyday skin-care products, thanks to its ability to boost the skin’s natural defense barriers, according to a review published in Beneficial Microbes.

There is increased evidence that probiotics can be used to promote skin health, Lee explains. In fact, a review in Clinics in Plastic Surgery suggests the skin’s microbiota is just as important as the gut’s—which is why probiotics may be useful not just inside, but out.

We recommend: The Vitamin Shoppe’s Ultimate 10 Slow Release Probiotics

7. Vitamin A

Also referred to as retinol, vitamin A in topical form is often used to give the skin a boost, says Suryawanshi. “Vitamin A promotes proper repair and maintenance of the skin and deficiencies that can result in a dry, flaky complexion,” she explains.

It’s no wonder it’s such a popular ingredient in anti-aging skin-care products. Research published in the journal JAMA Dermatology concluded that topical retinol improves the appearance of fine wrinkles associated with natural aging by boosting the production of collagen.

We recommend: Ann Webb’s Super Retinol Slow Release Cream

8. Coconut oil

Coconut oil has received much acclaim (and some controversy!)—but there’s no doubt that it’s a rock star when it comes to skin-care. “Coconut oil has several properties that can help improve your complexion,” says Lee. For one, she explains, it’s an emollient, “which increases skin hydration, making it an effective moisturizer for dry skin.”

According to the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, the lauric acid found in coconut oil can be used as a skin health-boosting tool. Some beauty enthusiasts have even sworn by coconut oil as a makeup remover, skin moisturizer, and facial cleanser.

We recommend: Garden of Life’s Organic Virgin Coconut Oil 

What Is African Black Soap—And Why Does Everyone Swear By It?

There are plenty of trendy health and natural skin-care products on the market (hello, apple cider vinegar!) these days—and black soap (a.k.a. African black soap) is now emerging as the latest star. Purported to provide ultra-deep cleansing of the skin and praised by people with skin conditions like rosacea and eczema, black soap is quickly accumulating super-fans, with beauty experts extolling its virtues.

A quick scan of the beauty-care aisle will tell you that black soaps, like Shea Moisture’s Organic African Black Soap, contain a few leading ingredients: plant ash (such as cocoa pod ash), shea butter, and various oils. Each brand may carry products with slightly different ingredients, but it’s the ash that plays a core role due to its skin-cleansing abilities.

Originating in West Africa, black soap comes from something called agro-waste—or, parts of plants (ashes from shells, husks or barks of plantain, palm, cocoa pod, or shea trees) left out in the sun to dry. The ash from these parts is mixed with water, shea butter, and oils (like coconut oil or palm oil), and is then cooked, saponofied (made hard, like sap), and cooled.

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Though more conclusive studies are needed on African black soap’s seemingly magical skin-cleansing properties, research in the Journal of Bioresource Technology found that the ash in black soap, which gently exfoliates the skin due to its makeup from dried plants, offers “excellent solubility, consistency, cleansing, and lathering abilities.”

On top of its skin-cleansing properties, the shea butter in African black soap is lauded for its moisturizing abilities. “Shea butter can help soften cracked dry skin on heels, elbows, and knees,” says Brian Tanzer, Manager of Scientific Affairs at The Vitamin Shoppe. “It also contains essential fatty acids, along with vitamins A and E, which help maintain your skin’s elasticity and suppleness.”

The oils found in black soap, which can vary by the region in which the soap was made, are also highly moisturizing.

Who Should Use It?

Most people can use African black soap on their face and body for general skin cleansing. And according to a survey published by the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, people also use it for minimizing acne, dark spots, and razor bumps. This could be due to its deep-cleansing abilities, although more research is needed to validate its mechanisms and its effectiveness on specific skin conditions.

Try This Skin-Loving DIY Charcoal And Turmeric Face Mask

You’ve got a lot going on this holiday season, from office parties to New Year’s celebrations—so why not treat yourself to a facial with this decadent DIY mask? It’s got all the natural ingredients you know and love, like apple cider vinegar (which can tone your skin), turmeric (which can soothe your skin), and tea tree oil (which can cleanse your skin). Plus, it includes two buzzy beauty products everyone should have in their arsenal: Aztec Secret’s Indian Healing Clay and Ancient Earth Secrets’ Activated Coconut Charcoal Powder. 

You’ll need:

Ready for healthy, glowing skin? Watch this video for step-by-step instructions:

All About Your New Favorite Cleanser: Micellar Water

If you’ve shopped for skin-care products any time within the past year, you’ve undoubtedly spotted the beauty industry’s latest darling: micellar water. Just like regular ol’ H20, micellar water is a clear liquid—but what is it, exactly? And how do you even pronounce it?

Have no fear, beauty junkies—we had the experts break it all down for you. (And for the record, it’s my-SELL-ar.)

What is it made of?

Micellar water is made with something called micelles, which are tiny balls of molecules that react to water.

“Micellar water is micelles suspended in soft water, creating microscopic oil molecules that are great for cleaning the face by attaching to dirt, grime, and makeup,” says Dr. Rhonda Klein, a board-certified dermatologist with the Connecticut Dermatology Group. “Unlike soap, micelles dissolve impurities without stripping the skin, and since it has the same viscosity of water, the face feels clean and rejuvenated after treatment.” Also, unlike soap, it doesn’t require water in order to work, so no rinsing is necessary.

The product isn’t a new concept, despite its recent rise in popularity. In fact, its origins trace back to the coveted beauty regimen of a certain European country: “The French have been using micellar water for ages,” says Dr. Klein.

Is it a toner, a cleansing water, or a makeup remover?

There are a lot of cleansing products on the market and it can get confusing! So what’s the difference between cleansing water (another popular item) and micellar water? Micellar water contains those oily micelles, while cleansing water is usually made up of purified water.

Related: Shop skin-loving micellar water products. 

And then there are toners. Toner is usually used after cleansing to refresh and tone the skin (although many contain alcohol and leave skin feeling dry and tight, unlike micellar water). While micellar water is primarily used to cleanse the skin, many beauty enthusiasts happily use it as toner, as well.

Bonus: It can also remove makeup (although heavy makeup is probably best removed with traditional makeup remover).

Should you Try it?

Given that the main ingredient in micellar water is water, it’s a safe option for most people. (Other ingredients might include vitamins, glycerin, and rooibos, like in this Derma E micellar water.)

“Almost all skin types can use micellar water without risk of drying out—even those with acne or oily skin can use micellar water to clean skin thoroughly without inflamed acne pimples,” says Dr. Rachel Nazarian of Schweiger Dermatology Group in New York City. However, if your skin is very oily or covered in extremely thick foundation, micellar water alone may not be strong enough to remove all of the impurities.

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According to Dr. Nazarian, micellar water’s biggest benefit is that its oil droplets are hydrating (but don’t feel oily)—without disrupting the natural pH of skin, a problem that comes with some classic foaming cleansers.

In a study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, it was shown that micellar cleansing water “showed lower irritation potential than traditional high-lather face cleansing formats.” The research also noted that the pairing of micellar’s moisturizing benefits and its low potential for irritation makes it a promising option for those with sensitive skin.

Related: The Best Skin-Care Tips And Products For Your 20s, 30s, And 40s

“The fact that it doesn’t require scrubbing makes it great for sensitive skin, which tends to be easily irritated by harsher scrubs or rubbing typically needed to remove makeup,” she says.

A word of warning for anyone allergic to surfactants (which is a scientific word for “oil in water” molecules): Avoid micellar water. It’s not dangerous, but someone with an allergy might become red, itchy, or puffy with repeated use.

How Do You Use It?

Using micellar water is just as straightforward as its ingredients.

Dr. Nazarian recommends saturating a cotton ball with the micellar water, then gently swiping it over your skin. Use a second dry cotton pad to wipe over your skin to absorb the micelles, which will have attached themselves to the dirt and oil on your face.

Whatever you do, don’t scrub your skin while using the product. These little work horses take the elbow grease out of washing your face, so just let them do their thing. Simply repeat until the cotton ball appears clean, at any time of day.

Gifts For The People Who Make Your Life Easier

You know those people who keep your life running when you can’t get your to-do lists straight? Whether it’s your on-the-ball assistant, motivating fitness trainer, or hair colorist who doubles as your therapist, these special folks warrant a special gift that says I value you. Here are a few to choose from.

1. Evolution Salt Co’s Himilayan Salt Lamp, $13.79


For the person who always has your back, this gift offers warm, radiating light for their own self-care. Perfect for creating a relaxing, subdued ambience in their office, bedroom, or living room, salt lamp lovers swear by their ability to cleanse the air of pollutants—which you can read all about right here.

2. Evolution Salt Co’s Himalayan Crystal Fire Bowl Salt Lamp, $35.99


If your recipient already has a salt lamp—and many people do, because they’re awesome!—why not give them their first salt lamp bowl? These pretty crystalline lamps can be used at the office or even as a nightlight. Bonus: They can be left on 24 hours a day without skyrocketing your electricity bill.

3. Now Foods Lavender Essential Oil, $26.99


Lavender oil is known for its relaxing, soothing, and calming qualities—perfect for that someone who always keeps your head on straight when things get crazy. If you’re unsure about essential oils, you can read all about them right here—from how to use them to what they actually do.

4. Nubian Heritage African Black Soap, $4.29


Treat someone special to a pampering skin experience. Used to detox and purify the skin, this natural soap is made with shea butter, oats, vitamin E, papaya, and other goodies. It exfoliates the skin without stripping it of its oils, which is key—especially during the harsh winter months.

5. Soi Company’s Soy Lavender Candle, $26.95


Give the gift of relaxation with this lavender-scented candle. It boasts a whopping 140 hours of burn-time, which means your gift will go the distance. Plus, lavender is a soothing scent, perfect for those after-work downtime hours or lazy weekends.

6. Aiya America’s Ceremonial Matcha Gift Set, $69.99


For the person who makes your life simpler, easier, and happier, why not give them some matcha love? With this tea set, they’ll get a tin of matcha tea (packed with antioxidants!), bowl for drinking, whisk, scoop, tea tin, and ceremonial tea-making instructional DVD. Each bowl is handcrafted in Japan.

7. Desert Essence Jojoba Oil, $9.89


This gloriously-hydrating oil is a hit with all beauty junkies. Made from natural plant extracts, it can be used as post-shower body oil, makeup remover, hair mask, or even as a scalp moisturizer. Plus, it’s got no synthetic or gross ingredients. A little goes a long way.

8. Takeya Thermoflask, $24.29

This is the sleekest, most well-designed bottle out there—perfect for anyone who works out, travels, or is always on the run. So, you know, just about everyone. With its leak-proof lid and easy-to-drink spout, it’s perfect for carrying or hanging off a bag.

Shop the full selection of gifts for people who make your life easier at VitaminShoppe.com.