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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. As a cleanse

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

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

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

Featured Products

2. As a mask

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

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

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

3. As a toner

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

4. As a spritz

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

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

Related: 5 DIY Skin Treatments Beauty Experts Swear By

5. As dental care

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

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

DIY Mouthwash

6. As hair care

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

7. to support nail health

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

8. to support beauty sleep 

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

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

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

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

Related: 5 Health And Beauty Uses For Activated Charcoal

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

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

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

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

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

Application #2: This is Surprisingly…Cathartic?

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

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

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

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

The Next Few Applications: Instantly Gratifying Complexion Fixes

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

Featured Products

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

The Final Verdict

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

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

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

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

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

Skin SOS: Chest And Back Acne

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

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

Featured Products

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

Skin SOS: Face Breakouts

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

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

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

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

Skin SOS: Chafing

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

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

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

Skin SOS: Athlete’s Foot

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

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

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

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

Skin SOS: Heat Rash

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

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

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

Skin SOS: Butt Bumps

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

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

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

5 DIY Skin Treatments Beauty Experts Swear By

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

 

1. Hydrating Facial Mist

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

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

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

 

2. Moisturizing Face Mask

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

Ingredients:
2 tsp honey
3 drops rose water

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

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

 

3. Soothing Spot Treatment

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

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

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

 

4. Skin-Softening Body Scrub

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

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

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

 

5. De-Puffing Face Mask

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

Ingredients:
1 cucumber, peeled and sliced
1 tsp honey

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

6 Possible Reasons Why Your Teeth Are Yellowing

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

It’s most likely one of these six culprits.

1. Medication Mayhem

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

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

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

2. You Are What You Eat (And Drink)

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

Featured Products

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.

Featured Products

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!

 

Featured Products

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!

Featured Products

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.

Featured Products

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.

Featured Products

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.

Featured Products

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.

Featured Products

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.