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.

Gifts For The Hipsters In Your Life

We all have that friend—the one with the trendy but laid-back wardrobe, who listens to the cool new bands and bakes vegan chocolate cookies. Whoever this person is—your brother, sister, co-worker—they deserve a thoughtful, unique gift that reflects their creative, independent spirit. Here’s your very own hipster-approved, totally hand-curated gift list. It’s, like, super bespoke, you guys.

1. SheaMoisture Beard Softener & Skin Protector, 10.99


This one’s for the coolest guy you know, with his flowing facial hair and a serious dedication to keeping it looking effortlessly good. A small price to pay for the envy he’ll draw.

2. Badger’s Beard Grooming Kit, $29.99


Let’s say your hipster buddy wants to crank his facial hair maintenance up a notch. This grooming kit is for the gent who also wants to keep those stray hairs in check. First he’ll apply the leave-in oil to his beard, followed by the balm (about a pea-sized dollop) in order to give it shape and hold. Bonus: Its pocket size means it’s travel friendly!

3. Evolution Salt Co.’s Himalayan Salt Lamp, $13.79


For the hipster who likes to work or play in a relaxing, inspired environment, a salt lamp is key. Enthusiasts of these decorative lamps say they also offer health-boosting perks, like cleansing the air and providing a respite from the damaging blue light of our phones and computers. Mostly, though, they’re just really pretty.

4. The Dirt’s Oil Pulling Mouthwash, $18.99


Why only brush your teeth when you can also promote extra mouth cleanliness with oil pulling? If you’ve not heard of this oral health trend, rest assured your hipster friend has. It keeps your breath fresh, your lips soft, and it may reduce germs, too. And, it’s full of wonderfully-scented essential oils, like pepperminttea tree, and rose.

5. Green Foods Organic Matcha Green Tea, $14.99


Perfect for the hipster who gave up coffee or who simply wants to dial up their intake of health-boosting antioxidants, this soy-, dairy-, gluten- and GMO-free green tea is the perfect mixture of tasty and rejuvenating. Just mix with six-eight ounces of cold or hot water—and voila! You’ve got a super-delicious treat. P.S. It can be used to make smoothies, cookies, and puddings, too.

6. SpaRoom’s Aromaharmony Diffuser, $59.99

Prepare to give your best gift ever. This brilliant machine blends music and fragrance (yep, you heard that correctly) for an ultra-sensory, totally relaxing experience. The AromaHarmony speaker works alongside a diffuser so you can chill out to instrumental guitar while surrounded by calming scents. Folk rock and lavender, anyone?

7. Takeya’s Cold Brew Iced Coffee Maker, $23.79


Cold brew is the newest (and coolest) coffee craze, no matter the season. Most people like their coffee hot or cold—as long as it’s strong. And cold brew leaves behind a potent, clean coffee without the bitter, acidic flavors you tend to get when brewing normally.

8. Nutribiotic Rice Protein, $33.59


Not everyone eats meat or drinks dairy, so it can be hard to get all the protein necessary to feel strong, mentally alert, and ready for the day. With this vegan and gluten-free rice protein, you can gift someone a supplement that keeps them healthy and happy—while tasting delicious, thanks to its vanilla flavoring.

9. Orgain’s Smooth Chocolate, $37.99 for 12 drinks


We’ve got the chocolate lovers out there covered, too. With Orgain’s high-protein vegan nutritional shake, you’ll gift someone plant protein (16 grams per drink) galore. It’s made with organic brown rice, hemp, chia, and pea protein, ingredients sure to get any hipster excited. Yum!

10. D’s Naturals No Cow Bars, $29.99 for 12 bars


Everyone—not just hipsters—loves healthy food that also tastes great. After all, you shouldn’t have to skimp on flavor in order to eat well. With this yummy lemon meringue bar, you’ll get 22 grams of plant protein with only one gram of sugar. It’s also got probiotics in there, so your gut can feel good, too. Perfect as a post-run snack or during a concert in the park.

Shop the full selection of gifts for hipsters at VitaminShoppe.com.

Gifts For The Beauty Junkies In Your Life

Whether you’re seeking a few items for your vegan sister, who uses all-natural products exclusively, or your mom, who’s constantly on the search for the best hydrating facial crème, you’re in luck. This holiday season, get the beauty junkie in your life some thoughtful, top-quality, and inexpensive products that are praised by bloggers and flying off The Vitamin Shoppe shelves.

1. Aztec Secret Bentonite Aztec Healing Clay, $8.79

A.k.a. “the world’s most powerful facial,” as it claims on the packaging. Made with 100 percent natural calcium bentonite clay, which is thought to absorb excess oils and dirt from the skin, you’ll literally feel your face pulsating as the stuff does its work. Mix it with equal parts raw apple cider vinegar (we recommend Braggs—see below) or water for the perfect mask.

2. Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar, $6.99

Whether you’ll be purchasing this as a set (along with the Aztec Secret Bentonite Aztec Healing Clay) or on its own, you really can’t ever go wrong with ACV. This natural, inexpensive elixir of life is beloved by health and beauty enthusiasts worldwide, since it contains plenty of vitamins and minerals along with antioxidants. (Here’s everything you can do with it to support good health (and good looks!).

3. Reviva’s Alpha-Lipoic Acid cream, $18.99

This miracle cream is loaded with antioxidants alpha lipoic acid and vitamin C, which can help keep skin looking firm, healthy, and supple. It’s blended with Palmitoyl Tripeptide-5, which boosts its anti-aging magic, too, by decreasing the appearance of those pesky fine lines and wrinkles.

4. Derma E’s Hydrating Night Cream, $29.99

What did your grandmother always tell you? Yep, that’s it: “Don’t skip your night cream!” She was right, since the stuff keeps your face looking oh-so hydrated and glow-y. Derma E’s Hydrating Night Cream feeds the skin hyaluronic acid (a natural substance that supports hydration), vitamins, and aloe.

5. Vital Proteins’ Lavender Lemon Collagen Beauty Water, $49.99

This one’s for your most dutiful skin-care buff. Made with marine collagen peptides, which help to keep our skin supple, organic ingredients (like lavender, lemon, beets, and honey), probiotics, and hyaluronic acid, this powder packs a serious beauty punch. All you’ve got to do is mix it with eight ounces of water, and you’re fast on your way to glorious skin.

6. Zuze Luxe’s Truth or Dare Lipstick, $7.74

Forget lipsticks made with gross ingredients. This Natural Products Association-certified, vegan, and gluten-free lipstick comes in a daring shade of kiss-me pink, perfect for anyone who wants to get glam in an ethical, clean way.

7. Life-Flo’s Replenishing and Renewing Rosehip Seed Oil, $7.19

Move over, argan oil—you’ve got some competition. Packed with rosehips and retinol (vitamin A), this heavenly-scented oil is perfect for anyone who wants to give their skin some dewy, natural (and sweet-smelling) love.

8. My Magic Mud Activated Charcoal Whitening Toothpaste, $8.99

Why settle for boring old toothpaste when you can hop on the activated charcoal train? Sure, the idea might sound a little weird—but for anyone interested in naturally effective ways of cleansing the mouth and brightening the chompers, this is a steal. Plus, it tastes like peppermint!

9. SanMedica SeroVital-hgh Liquid Concentrate, $98.99 (on Sale for $78.99 in December!)

This one’s for anyone interested in feeling and looking better (so, you know, all of us). Made with a human growth hormone (HGH), secretagogue, this unique product promotes the increase of HGH levels—potentially leading to improved mood, higher sex drive, and more energy.

10. Jason Natural Cosmetics’ Vitamin E Oil, $8.79

For natural body-care lovers out there, this is a gift that can’t go wrong. Made with vitamin E to nourish and moisturize the skin, it also stars almond, apricot, avocado, and wheat germ oils—a treasure trove of skin-loving goodies designed to promote the appearance of glowing, elastic, wrinkle-free skin.

Shop the full selection of gifts for beauty lovers at VitaminShoppe.com.

5 Health & Beauty Uses For Activated Charcoal  

Activated charcoal is trending right now, lauded for its ability to purge the body and skin of general uncleanliness. We’ve seen it popping up in products like ice creamtoothpaste, shampoo, and even lemonade!

Essentially, activated charcoal is charcoal that’s been heated to a very high temperature to make it more porous. The idea is that the many pores that are produced during this process make it possible for the activated charcoal to absorb all the nasties that might be floating around in your body and on your skin.

According to Brian Tanzer, Manager of Scientific Affairs at The Vitamin Shoppe, AC was originally used in emergency rooms to address toxicity issues related to poisoning and overdoses. “Activated charcoal can bind to toxins, reducing their absorption into the body,” Tanzer explains. “It carries a negative charge and traps positively-charged molecules that are potentially toxic.”

But activated charcoal has applications outside of the hospital, too—like in your bathroom! Here are the many ways lovers of AC use it for health and lifestyle purposes:

1. On your skin

Beauty aisles are lined with cutely packaged products starring activated charcoal, including soaps, face masks, skin peels, and more—and it’s not just a marketing gimmick: AC has skin-cleansing properties, according to research. Just note that it can also absorb good things, like the oils your skin actually needs, so always use a moisturizer afterward.

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2. As a deodorant

While there’s no specific research on how activated charcoal can combat general body odor or sweating, beauty bloggers swear by it. And, a 2008 study from the Indian Journal of Dermatology found that AC may cause a reduction in odors associated with skin blistering. So it’s probably not a bad idea to test out a deodorant that lists AC as an ingredient. You can also make your own, if you’re the DIY type.

Follow this tried-and-true recipe from blogger French Pixie. You’ll need just a few ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon activated charcoal
  • 1/2 cup arrowroot 
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons baking soda
  • 1/4 cup liquid coconut oil 
  • 2 tablespoons magnesium oil 
  • 1 tablespoon  witch hazel 

3. Hangover preventer

Had one-too-many the night before? Good news: AC may help. According to a study in the Journal of the Indian Medical Association, there is some strong evidence linking alcohol poisoning reduction to activated charcoal. The Bulletproof Coffee blog recommends taking an AC supplement after or while drinking to help prevent hangover symptoms.

Related: Shop activated charcoal products, from soaps to peels. 

4. Teeth whitener

For anyone who prefers natural oral care, AC users have touted it for its teeth-whitening and surface stain-removing qualities. You can use a charcoal toothpaste, or powder like My Magic Mud’s Tooth Whitening Powder, but it’s also easy enough to pop open a capsule and just rub it onto your toothbrush with water. 

Just be warned: It can be quite messy. RIP bathroom sink. 

5. Gas reducer

Tanzer says AC may also be used for tummy troubles: “As a dietary supplement it is used to address some issues related to GI health, such as occasional digestive discomfort—and particularly gas that results from the digestion of food in the GI tract.”

Plus, a study in the American Journal of Gastroenterology found that it may also reduce abdominal cramps and bloating. If you want to support a healthy tummy, the Vitamin Shoppe’s activated charcoal capsules can be taken after or during meals to help keep the flatulence at bay.

One note: Activated charcoal can interfere with the efficacy of some medications, so if you’re taking anything regularly, you should speak with a healthcare provider before going all in.

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

The 6 Best Supplements For Healthy Hair

Are your locks looking a little lackluster lately? Maybe your once-thick mane is now noticeably thinner, and it seems no fancy conditioning treatment can resurrect your brittle strands.

The truth is, our hair can tell us a lot about our general health, so if your strands seem to have lost their strength and shine—particularly if you’re not actively damaging your hair with, say, problematic heat styling or chlorine on the regular—it could be your body’s way of letting you know that it needs some TLC. Here are six supplements that can help.

1. Multivitamins & Multiminerals

Dr. Daved Rosensweet, founder of I Wonder, Doctor, a website about nutrition and supplements, recommends both a high-quality daily multivitamin to support overall health and a multimineral complex, which will offer up minerals like zinc, copper, selenium, magnesium, and calcium. When used to supplement a well-balanced diet, these can help bridge the gap between any potential nutritional deficiencies.

Inadequate amounts of minerals have been shown to play a key role in hair loss. For example, a lack of zinc and copper both have been associated with hair loss and thinning, according to a study in Annals of Dermatology.

Just take note: If you don’t want to increase your iron intake due to an iron disorder, there are some multiminerals that come without iron.

2. Protein

Next, Rosensweet says it’s a good idea to take stock of whether or not you’re getting enough protein throughout the day. If not, he advises adding protein powder to your daily regimen, as well. After all, our hair is made out of protein and minerals.

So how much protein do you actually need? About 0.8 grams of protein per every kilogram of bodyweight, according to the USDA. So a 130-pound person would need 48 grams of protein per day.

However, that’s just a baseline. If you’re a weightlifter or an endurance athlete—or even if you’re trying to lose weight without losing the muscle you’ve packed on—you’ll need more (somewhere between 1.2 and 3.5 grams of protein per every kilogram of bodyweight). More on that here.

3. Biotin & Collagen

You’ve probably seen dozens of biotin- and collagen-based shampoos, conditioners, and beauty supplements out there—and there’s a good reason for that (besides the two ingredients being super-on-trend these days): Studies suggest that age-related hair loss is associated with a lack of collagen, while research in the International Journal of Trichology found that biotin promotes overall hair health.

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4. Vitamin D

People tend to associate vitamin D with bone health, but it may also play a role in our hair’s health. In fact, a study in Dermatology Online suggests that vitamin D is integral in the cycling (or regrowth) of our hair follicles.

Vitamin D is also something plenty of people are short on—especially those living in less sunny environments—so it’s key that you get enough for your overall health.

5. B Vitamins

B vitamins play a key role in promoting hair health. We already know that biotin (B7) is crucial, but so is cobalamin (or B12), the lack of which is connected to excess hair loss in some cases of anemia.

Pantothenic acid (B5) helps to prevent early graying, and boosts the hair’s natural color. But its benefits are more than, well, strand deep: Vitamin B5 also promotes hair growth and regulates the function of sebum glands.

Folate or folic acid (B9) helps support hair health by creating red blood cells and hemoglobin, both of which transport oxygen to hair, helping to promote the growth of new hair follicle cells.

6. Viviscal

Viviscal is an oral marine protein supplement many people use to promote hair health. It features a blend of AminoMar complex, biotin, and zinc.

Related: Shop supplements, topical products, and more.

Other Considerations

If your diet is on point but your hair is still an issue, there could be another culprit: your hormones. Hair loss on the scalp and the body may indicate hormonal issues, like with people who have severe hypothyroidism or other endocrine system disorders.

The endocrine changes that occur after giving birth can result in postpartum hair loss, and may last for as long as 15 months. And for women experiencing menopause, the hair follicles are also affected.

With hormonal hair issues, you might notice thinning hair or strands that fall out in large clumps when you brush it. If you suspect your troublesome tresses might be related to a hormonal imbalance of some kind, consider making an appointment with your doctor.

The Bottom Line

“When someone’s hair is not healthy, there are underlying problems, and very often they’re nutritional,” says Rosensweet. This means that healthy hair begins with healthy nutritional habits.

The very best place to start is with a diet rich in organic (versus non-organic) foods, says Rosensweet—particularly fruit, vegetables, and dairy, which studies, like this one in the British Journal of Nutrition, have shown contain more antioxidants (which protect against oxidative stress that also affects hair) and omega-3 fatty acids (good for your hair, skin, an overall health) than their non-organic counterparts. So, the more nutrients we can get naturally–and organically—from our meals, the better.

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

We Put 5 Natural Deodorants To The Test—Here’s How They Held Up

There’s a nasty little rumor floating around out there that natural deodorants just plain, well, stink. Anyone who tells you otherwise? They haven’t gotten a whiff of their pits lately.

No one wants to smell—even in the name of going natural—but just how much truth is there to the rumors? Is it so impossible that we might be able to keep our pits chemical-free without offending other people’s senses? Five of our bravest Health Enthusiasts volunteered their underarms in the name of giving natural deodorant a fair trial—and the results are in.

Nubian Heritage 24-Hour All-Natural Deodorant in Indian Hemp and HaItIan Vetiver

Tested by What’s Good associate editor Lauren Del Turco

“I have been a longtime lover of my Dove Go Fresh Cool Essentials. It keeps my underarms dry, even when it’s absurdly hot out (and I’m a sweaty person), plus it smells like squeaky-clean cucumbers. The Nubian Heritage deodorant felt a little wet and gloppy going on, but it had a light and pleasant scent. My pits felt a little stickier than usual when I was outside in the summer heat, but otherwise I didn’t really notice a difference throughout my normal day.

The real test would be wearing this stuff to the gym, so I wore the deodorant for my usual morning strength-training session. I was dripping more than usual from my underarms, but I still didn’t feel self-conscious about how I smelled, which was a huge win. (Other natural deodorants I’ve tried have all failed the gym test.) I felt confident in this stuff, so I decided to do something bold: I wore it to hot yoga. I sweat everywhere, but was surprisingly stank-free! Seriously impressed.

I also really loved that this deodorant didn’t leave a hard-to-get-off residue on my armpits that I’d have to ferociously scrub away in the shower. I’m not sure if I really love the scent of this one enough to use it every day, but I plan on trying out another scent from this brand now that the experiment is over.”

Related: I Stretched For 30 Days With The Goal Of Touching My Toes—Here’s How It Went

Schmidt’s Natural Deodorant in Lavender + Sage

Tested by What’s Good video producer and editor Jennifer Pena

“I’ve been using Secret Powder Fresh solid for years because it’s the only one that hasn’t let me down in the stank department.  I perspire a lot under my arms, especially when it’s hot and humid out or when I work out.

In comparison to my usual product, I was really surprised at how well the Schmidt’s natural deodorant held up while I slept and throughout my day-to-day stuff. Because the deodorant went on so nice and light—and I’m extremely skeptical about natural deodorants—I kept reapplying it just to be sure.  But it survived all sorts of outfits, busy days at work, and long walks outside. The lavender made me feel really fresh—major bonus!

The big test was an outdoor workout on a very hot summer day. Honestly, I’m not sure how well any deodorant could handle those conditions. I definitely had some stink pouring out of me, so I’ll probably stick to my Secret before workouts.”

Schmidt’s Deodorant in Bergamot + Lime

Tested by Head of Content and Customer Engagement Lisa Chudnofsky

“I normally use Secret Invisible Solid, and don’t find my pits sweaty or smelly (at least I don’t think?) unless it’s really humid outside. I tried the Schmidt’s Bergamot + Lime jar, and was shocked by how much I liked it. Delicious smell (I actually found myself sniffing my pits when no one was looking, just to get a whiff!), and the same coverage I get from the Secret.

The only reason I wouldn’t give it a 10 out of 10 is because of the whole jar situation. I much prefer using a stick to get even and quick distribution. The spatula included was tiny, and although the deodorant spread on okay (like a room temperature butter), it took a while to cover the entire armpit. Definitely more of a process than my usual swipe-and-go. But luckily the product also comes in stick form—I already placed my order on VitaminShoppe.com.”

Related: Why Do Some People Sweat More Than Others?

Crystal Stick Body Deodorant

Tested by editorial graphic designer Samantha Dimsey

“I usually use a basic Dove deodorant—and the Crystal natural deodorant was definitely different! The Crystal deodorant was a clear, solid stick, but it wasn’t wet at all, so it felt like I wasn’t putting anything on. It didn’t have a scent and didn’t leave any marks on my shirt. I realized after the first day that you’re supposed to lightly wet the deodorant stick before applying it—but it had worked really well even when I applied it dry!

I don’t normally sweat a lot, but I didn’t feel insecure about sweating or smelling at all when using this—I really didn’t feel any different than I did wearing my normal deodorant. Now that I know the natural stuff works so well, I’ll probably switch over.”

Tom’s of Maine Long-Lasting Stick Deodorant in Lavender

Tested by What’s Good senior editor, Lisa Basile

“Here’s my deal: I usually either don’t use deodorant at all or use a powder antiperspirant when I’m worried about smelling bad. A huge part of why I limit my antiperspirant use is to keep my body as chemical-free as possible—so I was eager to try the Tom’s deodorant, since it’s more natural. I have to say, it smelled really, really, really good (sort of like a light, airy, lavender-filled field). It went on smooth—not gloppy— and it didn’t irritate my sensitive armpit skin at all.

I’d definitely use this again, since my sweat usually isn’t profusely gross-smelling and my main workouts happen in water (which sort of keeps you fresh-smelling). However, for VERY sweaty people or people who are constantly active, I’d say this might be a little light. If I were outside in 90-degree weather a lot or working out really hard, I think I would probably want something a little more heavy-duty. But for every day, this is great.”

Related: Shop the full selection of health-conscious bath and beauty products.

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

Everyone talks about the many miracles of coconut oil, but you’ve probably also gotten an earful about the beauty and wellness benefits of apple cider vinegar (ACV). This pungent mixture isn’t the stuff of old wives’ tales, either—it’s a legit multitasker.

ACV packs vitamins and minerals including B vitamins, calcium, and potassium, as well as antioxidants called polyphenols. Research has found that consuming it can support heart health and blood sugar function. And after a quick Google search, you’ll see that ACV is just as popular to use on the surface of your bod as it is to consume.

I’m all for natural beauty ingredients, so I was more than eager to incorporate some of this liquid goodness into my routine. Of all the different uses for apple cider vinegar out there, the following seven are said to be the easiest—so I put them to the test.

Related: 14 Practical (And Unexpected!) Uses For Apple Cider Vinegar

1. Apple Cider Vinegar Toner = Awesome

“Apple cider vinegar contains alpha hydroxy acid, which helps to exfoliate the skin,” explains board-certified dermatologist Debra Jaliman, M.D. “It also helps your skin maintain a good pH balance,” she adds.

Knowing the benefits of alpha hydroxyl acid for the skin, I was more than willing to use ACV as a toner.

I will say that my skin is a little sensitive, so I diluted two tablespoons of ACV in four tablespoons of water before I used it. (If your skin is sensitive, I’d recommend going with this dilution to avoid any potential irritation.) I used a cotton ball to apply the vinegar mixture onto my face so that my skin could soak up all those awesome acids. Once the ACV had dried, I went on with my regular skin-care routine and applied my moisturizer.

Overall, the diluted ACV proved to be a really awesome toner for my skin. Not only did my face feel clean and refreshed, it wasn’t overly dry afterward, which is a common issue I have had after using other toners.

2. ACV Makes For A Semi-Helpful Mouthwash

Some mouthwashes are filled with harsh and/or artificial ingredients, making ACV a pretty attractive alternative for anyone trying to clean up their daily routine. Same goes for your oral care. Again, diluting your vinegar is key here—I made the mistake of slugging back a good mouthful of undiluted vinegar and immediately had to spit it out. (I think my mouth went into shock from the intense flavor.) I did, however, manage to successfully gargle with three tablespoons of water and one tablespoon of vinegar.

As far as odor control goes, I can’t say that the vinegar made my (sometimes noticeably) bad breath go away entirely. It certainly didn’t make it worse, but I do feel like I gave off salad dressing vibes for a little while there…so I’m not sure I’d swish again.

3. ACV Is Worth Pouring ALL Over Your Hair

I’m all about DIY hair rinses—I’ve dumped everything from beer to soda over my head in a quest for the hair of my dreams. Unsurprisingly, those two sensational Internet-beloved rinses didn’t work out as well as I hoped, so I was curious to see how apple cider vinegar would rise to the occasion. Plus, Dr. Jaliman told me that ACV can support a healthy scalp because of its pH—so my intrigue was doubled!

Like my DIY apple cider vinegar toner, I wanted to dilute my ACV first so it wouldn’t be too harsh on my scalp. I found that adding ¾ cup of vinegar to a half a cup of water was a good ratio for me. (My hair is a little wavy, a bit oily, and bleached.)

I shampooed my hair as usual and then poured the ACV mixture over my hair. I’d seen online that this rinse could help get rid of product residue shampoos aren’t able to nix. I let it sit for about 10 minutes before rinsing my scalp and hair and conditioning as usual.

I use dry shampoo a lot, and tend to get a sticky residue in my hair after a few days. So, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the ACV did a good job clarifying my hair and scalp (I actually used it twice with good results!)  The mixture removed all that gunk on my dry-shampooed scalp with ease—and without irritating my skin.

I’ll continue to use my ACV hair rinse—and if you’re a big hair product-user like me, try it out! Just be sure to dilute your vinegar in water if you have a sensitive scalp.

4. I’d Use Vinegar As Deodorant If I’m Not Going To The Gym

Now, I’m not a big natural deodorant fan to begin with, because I want maximum odor control all day long. However, I did successfully use a lime as a natural DIY deodorant once (yes, really), so I figured I would have a similar experience with apple cider vinegar.

I wet a cotton ball with undiluted ACV and dabbed it across my armpits—and then I hit the gym. Let’s just say the experience didn’t go well. As soon as I started sweating, any effect the stuff may have had totally went out the window. I definitely smelled by the time I finished my workout. But since I didn’t notice any stink before I hit the gym, I think a few armpit dabs of ACV could be a decent deodorant swap if you’ll just be lounging around the house.

5. Have A Zit? Apple Cider Vinegar To The Rescue

I was a pretty big fan of using ACV as a toner, so I was intrigued to see how it would hold up as a spot treatment for zits. I’ve tried my share of pimple-shrinking skincare products, and unfortunately, a lot of them have made my skin super dry or red.

Unlike my diluted hair rinse and toner mixtures, I used straight-up vinegar for this one. My zits stung a little when I applied the ACV directly onto them—and for a minute I feared this experiment would end badly. But I figured this couldn’t be as bad as popping them, right?

I used my ACV spot treatment once a day for five days total. I can’t say it made my zits vanish completely, but they definitely dried out faster than they would have otherwise. In short, my store-bought acne-vanishing products worked quicker, but the ACV did naturally help.

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

6. Never Again: ACV For Razor Burn

With a few solid apple cider vinegar remedies already under my belt, I decided to try one of the more intense uses I’d seen online: ACV as a razor burn-reliever. I shave my legs pretty frequently, so I definitely know the woes of pesky razor burn. So, after a long workout and shower at the gym, I put it to the test.

I got a little bold (and maybe also a little lazy!) and used my ACV undiluted. This was huge mistake. The stinging sensation on my legs was really bugging me, and I ended up rinsing my legs off just to make the burning go away.

I think I should have waited a little longer after shaving before applying the vinegar, but either way, the stinging was so uncomfortable that I don’t think I’ll try this one again. Licensed esthetician Lora Cordon warned that the acid would be too harsh to apply to wounds or irritated skin, and boy did I learn my lesson. I’ll be sticking with my trusty post-shave coconut oil instead.

7. ACV + Baking Soda = Easiest DIY Scrub Ever

A lot of conventional face scrubs are too abrasive for my sensitive skin, so I was happy to learn that a mixture of baking soda and apple cider vinegar could make a gentle—but still effective—face scrub. Just mix the two ingredients until you get a good pasty consistency, and voila.

This concoction was honestly all kinds of awesome. Making the scrub wasn’t super complicated, and my skin felt velvety smooth (without any redness) afterward. I’ve been making this two or three times a week since my first test run—it really gives my skin a nice healthy glow.

That’s not all! The baking soda-ACV combo makes for some useful other remedies. “Baking soda and apple cider vinegar also make a great foot bath to soften the skin and calluses,” says Condon. I haven’t tried this one out yet, but it’s definitely on my radar if I’m ever in need of a good at-home pedicure.

FYI: Baking soda (a.k.a. sodium bicarbonate) is an inorganic salt that’s been used to do everything from gently exfoliate the skin to whiten teeth, to make natural deodorant—and is considered safe for use, according to the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep® Cosmetics Database. Its abrasive quality is what makes it effective for exfoliation—think of the beads or coarse grains in your favorite scrubs, but finer and gentler.

8. ACV and Clay Make For A Powerful Face Mask

After all my experimentation, it seemed like the only thing I hadn’t used ACV for was a face mask. So I called in some backup from the hot beauty ingredient that is bentonite clay. I grabbed a jar of Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay to combine with my ACV for a clarifying facial mask. (Bentonite clay helps to absorb excess oil and sebum from the skin, according to board-certified dermatologist Debra Jaliman, M.D.)

Apple cider vinegar had served me pretty well so far, so I had a feeling that ACV plus clay would be just the skin-perfecting team my problem skin needed.

To make my mask, I mixed two tablespoons of vinegar with two tablespoons of clay in a small bowl. The two ingredients made a cool fizzing sound as they came together!

I spread the thick paste across my face and set a timer for the 20 minutes recommended on Aztec Secret’s packaging. The clay dried as the minutes passed, and the mask tightened up so much that I could barely move my mouth. (It sounds freaky, I know, but it’s par for the course with most clay masks.)

When my 20 minutes were up, I spent a minute or two rinsing the mask off with lukewarm water. Consider yourself warned: The clay makes a mess in the sink. It really clumped together, so I threw some chunks out in the trash because I was afraid of clogging my sink.

I sighed with relief at being able to move my face again, and took a long look in the mirror. My face felt velvety smooth and completely free of the oil that usually lingers there. It was like all the gunk in my pores had been vacuumed out. I’m sold! For a good, deep clean, I’ll definitely continue using this power duo once or twice a week.

The Final Vinegar-y Verdict

Apple cider vinegar’s versatility continues to impress me—who’d think you could get quality salad dressing and a good clarifying hair rinse out of one pantry staple? If you haven’t already added this to your routine, it really doesn’t hurt to give it a try. The toner, hair rinse, face scrub, and clay mask were my personal favorite ACV uses, but the opportunities for natural beauty ACV uses are endless! Just consider skipping the whole post-shaving scenario and spare yourself the pain.

Related: Get yourself a big ‘ole bottle of ACV.

7 Gym-Related Skin Issues—And How To Deal

Working out is great for your bod—but it can really do a number on your skin. From uncomfortable chafing to back breakouts, chances are you’ve dealt with your share. While some sweat-related skin conditions are just annoying, others can be more serious—like herpes or staph infections. Not good.

Here, find out what causes some of the most common gym-related skin conditions, and how to prevent and treat them.

  1. Heat Rash

When you feel super itchy mid-run, you might be breaking out in a heat rash (don’t worry too much, though—it’s irritating, but it’s common). “This pink, bumpy rash can develop on the neck and body when working out in a super-hot environment, whether it’s outdoors or in a spin class without air conditioning,” says Tsippora Shainhouse, M.D., board-certified dermatologist and clinical instructor at the University of Southern California. How exactly does heat rash happen? Your hair follicles become inflamed by sweat that gets trapped beneath them, explains board-certified dermatologist Esta Kronberg, M.D.

The fix: If you’re sprouting bumps, move to a cooler area and apply a cool compress (like a cold, wet washcloth) to relieve the irritation, says Shainhouse. “If the rash is very itchy and uncomfortable, apply a thin layer of hydrocortisone cream twice a day for a couple of days,” she adds. It’s also a good idea to skip the gym until the rash heals—sorry!

  1. Body Acne

Bacne is a total pain in the you-know-what—and it can rear its ugly head after an intense training session. Body acne (which most commonly pops up on the chest, back, and butt), usually makes an appearance when you wear super-tight spandex gym clothes that aren’t breathable and lock in moisture, says Shainhouse. Why the breakouts? When you exercise, the glands in your body start secreting sweat—and then the sweat builds up in your hair follicles and clogs them, explains Kronberg.

The fix: Step one: Make sure you change out of your sweaty workout gear ASAP after you exercise, says Shainhouse. Then, shower right away and use an anti-bacterial body wash that contains benzoyl peroxide, suggests Kronberg. (Look for a cleanser with 2.5 percent benzoyl peroxide—anything stronger may just cause further irritation.)

If an immediate shower isn’t in the cards, wipe down your acne-prone areas with a salicylic acid towelette, says Shainhouse. (Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid that exfoliates dead skin cells that build up, clog pores, and cause zits.) Skincare products may contain anywhere from 0.5 to 2 percent salicylic acid. These 2 percent Clearasil Rapid Action Pads make for a strong acne-fighting option.

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

  1. Chafing

Many a gym goer is familiar with this pesky issue. “When skin rubs against itself or clothing, it can chafe, leaving it pink and sore,” says Shainhouse. Ouch! Chafing usually occurs around the armpits, inner thighs, and under sports bra straps and bands, says Shainhouse. But it can also happen around your ankles if your shoes aren’t snug enough!

The fix: Say goodbye to shirts, leggings, and sports bras that are too restricting. “Make sure that all clothing fits and that you don’t feel any rubbing during movements like swinging your arms,” says Shainhouse. You can also apply a thin layer of Vaseline or coconut oil before working out to reduce friction in those trouble zones, says Shainhouse. If you sweat a lot, she recommends applying an absorbent, like Zeasorb Super Absorbent Powder, to dry skin.

If you do experience chafing, you can use an OTC cortisone cream to ease irritation, says Kronberg. She also recommends slathering on a fragrance-free lotion to keep the area moist and to curb any further friction. (Fragrance may cause irritation, so it’s best to avoid scented moisturizers if your skin has chafed.)

Related: 12 Health And Beauty Uses For Coconut Oil

  1. Sunburn

It makes sense that you’d want to take your workout to the park when the weather is nice—but just be mindful of the sun! “Working out outdoors—including walking, running, swimming, or bike riding—leaves your skin vulnerable to damage by the sun’s UV rays,” says Shainhouse.

The fix: Apply sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher 30 minutes before heading outside, says Kronberg. Look for a sunscreen that’s ‘non-comedogenic’ or that’s specially formulated for acne-prone facial skin. You’ll need to reapply every two hours—or more frequently if you swim or get sweaty, so keep the SPF handy.

If possible, try to avoid getting your sweat on outdoors during peak sun hours (11 A.M. through 3 P.M.), advises Shainhouse. And try to stay as covered up as possible—that means no shirtless runs, adds Kronberg. All fabrics offer some sun protection, and there are even special workout clothes (labeled ‘UPF’) that offer UV protection.

Sometimes even the most diligent of sunscreen users get a burn, though. Taking an OTC anti-inflammatory and applying emu oil or a one-percent cortisone lotion may help soothe the pain, says Kronberg. Wait, emu oil? Kronberg likes this out-of-the-ordinary oil for sunburn because it moisturizes the skin and contains omega-3 fatty acids, which support immune health. (A 2013 study published in the Journal of Research in Medical Sciences found that emu oil could be useful when dealing with itchy or irritated skin.)

  1. Athlete’s Foot

So you forgot to put your flip flops in your gym bag—and now you have to shower sans sandals. Sounds like NBD, right? Er, not quite. “If you walk around the gym changing room, pool area, or showers barefoot, you may pick up fungus from other people’s feet,” says Shainhouse. Athlete’s foot is marked by dry white scales on the sides and bottom of your feet or mushy white skin between your toes, explains Shainhouse. “Once it gets into your toenails—leaving them thick, yellow, and crumbly—it can be harder to treat,” she says.

The fix: This one’s a no-brainer, but it’s worth repeating: Always wear flip flops around the locker room, says Kronberg. If you notice any of the symptoms we mentioned above, make an appointment with your derm. You’ll likely need to use a prescription anti-fungal cream twice a day for three weeks or so until the infection goes away, says Kronberg.

  1. Herpes

Yep, it’s possible to catch an STD at the gym, says Kronberg. More specifically, we’re talking about the herpes simplex one virus (HSV-1), which is transmitted orally and most often causes cold sores around the mouth. Think about it: If someone touches their cold sore and then puts their hands on a mat, then they’ve just transferred the germs, leaving you susceptible to coming into contact with them, says Kronberg.

The fix: We know this sounds freaky, but a few easy protective moves can reduce your risk. If you’re taking a yoga or Pilates class, consider bringing your own mat. If you have to rent a mat from the gym, or will be using other gym equipment or machines, wipe everything down with a disinfectant wipe before you get started. (Dispensers are pretty much all over the place in most gyms.)

Once you have HSV-1, it stays in your symptoms for the rest of your life. The good news is that prescription meds can knock out an outbreak pretty quickly, says Kronberg.

  1. Staph Infection

Thought only people in hospitals contracted staph infections? Not the case. “Staph bacteria lives on our skin and is easily transferred to shared gym equipment,” says Shainhouse. “If you have any open cuts or sores on your skin that come into contact with that bacteria, you can develop a localized staph infection, called an abscess or boil.”

According to the Mayo Clinic, these abscesses are often warm to the touch, full of pus, and accompanied by a fever. (And yep, it’s pretty much as unpleasant as it sounds.) Methicillin-resistant Staphyloccus aureus (MRSA), a common type of staph infection that is resistant to some antibiotics, is one you should be especially aware of, says Kronberg. The infection often looks like a really bad spider bite, so people may not realize it’s actually a staph infection.

The fix: Preventing a staph infection isn’t complicated. Just cover up any open sores while you’re at the gym and be sure to wash your hands really well—preferably while showering after you work out, says Shainhouse. The thing is, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, when left untreated, MRSA can be deadly.

That’s why it’s critical to book it to your M.D. immediately if you think you might have MRSA, says Kronberg. In addition to starting a course of antibiotics to treat the infection, you may need to have any abscesses lanced by your doc if they don’t go away on their own, says Shainhouse.

Related: Shop supplements to support your immune system.

How To Keep Your Chompers In Check—The Natural Way

People invest in 100% natural products because they want to live their best lives, free of chemicals, additives, and other nasties. There are loads of natural beauty and wellness essentials out there, but lately, natural oral care products are experiencing a boost in popularity.

Are you looking to clean up your oral care routine? Here, Dr. Philip Memoli, a holistic dentist with over 30 years of experience and a member of the Holistic Dentistry Association, offers his tips for healthy chompers:

Brushing and Flossing

For a more natural approach to oral care, Memoli advises veering away from conventional dental products. “Try to avoid fluoride, glycerine, sodium lauryl sulfate, sweeteners, and preservatives,” he says. In fact, the fewer ingredients in your toothpaste, the better. Some people opt for xylitol-based toothpastes (since xylitol is a natural sweetener), which Tom’s of Maine carries.

As for the actual brushing, it turns out less is more there, too: A softer brushing technique is more effective because it’s gentler on your tooth enamel. And be sure to use a soft toothbrush, as well, so you don’t affect the enamel, Memoli says.

Related: Try Tom’s of Maine products for your all-natural oral health care routine.

Your dentist has probably told you this a hundred times, and Memoli agrees: “People who floss regularly tend to have a lot less dental problems.”

Memoli suggests using dental flosses made with essential oils (like this Desert Essence tea tree floss). The tea tree oil promotes purification and cleansing, and includes no synthetic ingredients, artificial colors, or alcohol. Win!

Mouthwashes and Rinsing

Memoli advises that anyone stocking up on mouthwashes or rinses avoid products made with alcohols and dyes. Looking to try a natural mouthwash? The PerioWash Alcohol-free mouthwash includes Co-Q10, folic acid, oregano, cinnamon, and clove to support gum health.

And The Natural Dentist’s Healthy Gums Antigingivitis Rinse boasts a stellar lineup of other all-natural ingredient goodies, including spring water, aloe vera, Echinacea, calendula, bloodroot, grapefruit seed extract, and goldenseal.

On top of brushing, flossing, and rinsing, you may want to try oil pulling, an ancient Ayurvedic dental care habit that requires swishing a tablespoon of oil in your mouth for up to 20 minutes. The Dirt’s Oil Pulling Mouthwash is alcohol-free and made with oils of clove and sesame. Memoli strongly suggests oil pulling (which, on top of cleaning your mouth, makes you more aware of your oral health in general), but cautions anyone with mercury fillings to limit the swishing to two to three minutes.

Related: I Tried Oil Pulling For Two Weeks—Here’s What It’s Like

Whitening

Memoli advises staying away from conventional bleaching products, which may include harsh ingredients that could wear away at the enamel of your teeth.

Instead of reaching for the whitening strips, try Memoli’s yummy-tasting all-natural whitening routine: “Put strawberries in a food processor and combine them with baking soda to create a paste. Brush it onto the teeth and leave it for a while. Some people see great bleaching results with that,” he says. All you need is a few strawberries, a couple of tablespoons of baking soda, and 15 minutes. Turmeric and activated charcoal have also been used to potentially brighten the teeth and promote oral health.

Diet

Eating well not only promotes overall health, it can keep your pearly whites in good standing (beyond simply preventing cavities). “Holistic dentistry is always concerned with preventing dental problems rather than fixing them once they occur,” Memoli says. “One big way to prevent issues is through a healthy diet. No matter what diet you’re on, eating whole foods is what keeps people [including the teeth] healthy.”

According to the Journal of Biomedical Biotechnology, eating unhealthy food has been definitively associated with chronic diseases that impact oral health. So, it’s important that you nosh on whole foods, limit alcohol and candy consumption, and get all the nutrients you need through your diet or supplementation.

I Tried Oil Pulling For Two Weeks—Here’s What It’s Like

As someone who has at least one new cavity every time I visit the dentist, I’d been considering adding oil pulling—the ancient practice of swishing an oil in your mouth for about 20 minutes in order to promote oral health—to my daily routine for some time. So, when What’s Good asked me to try out a new oil-pulling mouthwash on the market, I signed up without hesitation.

I was sent The Dirt Oil Pulling Mouthwash (a combo of coconut oil, natural extracts, and essential oils) and asked to swish with it every morning for two weeks straight. Here’s how it all went down.

Mouthwash bottle.JPG
photo: Christina Heiser

It took a few days to get used to oil pulling—but then it became enjoyable.

I’m not much of a morning person, but since I’d heard that oil pulling on a full stomach makes some people feel nauseous, I set my alarm for the ungodly hour of 6 a.m. in order to do it before I got hungry.

At first I was a little put off by the strong earthy taste of the mouthwash, which is full of essential oils like peppermint, tea tree, and rose, as well as extracts like turmeric and cardamom. After four days, though, my taste buds got used to the flavor and I actually started to like it!

To pass the 20 minutes, I’d usually just chill in my PJs on my couch. That quiet chunk of time helped me relax—and I noticed that I wasn’t as stressed out later during the day. Maybe there was something to this whole ‘morning person’ thing after all…

Related: 7 Ways To Become A Morning Person

My breath was fresh all day long.

I hate traditional mouthwashes—not only do they dry out my mouth (since most of them contain alcohol), but they also tend to leave a funky aftertaste that makes my nose burn a bit. But that wasn’t the case with this coconut oil-based mixture. My breath felt fresh for hours without any of the artificial ickiness I had come to associate with mouthwash.

Spoonful.JPG
photo: Christina Heiser

My lips felt softer than they’ve ever been.

As a beauty editor, I’ve known about the moisturizing superpowers of coconut oil for years—and this mouthwash definitely delivered. During my 20 minutes of swishing, a small amount of coconut oil always seeped out onto my lips, and it had a major conditioning effect. Normally, I apply balm throughout the day because my lips tend to get flaky—but as I got into my oil-pulling groove, I noticed I didn’t need to tend to my lips all that much.

Related: 12 Health And Beauty Uses For Coconut Oil

I started paying more attention to my mouth.

Halfway through my oil-pulling experiment, I called April Patterson, D.D.S., a cosmetic and restorative dentist in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to find out if there was any scientific evidence that the trend works. Patterson told me that while she’s tried oil pulling before and is a fan, it won’t change your mouth’s pH level—which determines whether bacteria can survive in your mouth. (The higher the pH, the harder it is for bacteria to thrive.)

There are some small-scale studies on oil pulling—which suggest it can help nix stinky breath and help keep some bacteria at bay—but larger studies are needed to support its effectiveness.

Still, Patterson pointed out that patients of hers who oil pull tend to pick up better dental habits across the board. “When people oil pull, they often become more attuned to their mouths,” Patterson told me. “They start doing a better job brushing and flossing.” And that’s exactly what happened to me.

While I’d listened to my own dentist extol the virtues of brushing for a full two minutes twice a day (and flossing at least once a day) time and time again, I always used to rush through the process without much care. Oil pulling for those 20 minutes each morning forced me to really think about what was going on in my mouth. For example, I realized just how much tartar buildup I have on my bottom teeth—which I could’ve easily gotten rid of before it hardened if I had just brushed and flossed as much as I was supposed to. And that’s why I plan to keep up with my new oil-pulling habit—although probably not every day, to be honest, because I just love sleep too much.

Since dedicating such a large amount of time to my morning swish, I’ve found it a whole lot easier to hit the two-minute mark with my toothbrush. After all, compared to 20 minutes, two feels like a breeze. And that in itself is good news for my mouth.

Related: Check out a number of oral-care products for a happy mouth.