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


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.


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.

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.

What Can You Really Do About Stretch Marks?

Many of us—guys and gals alike—have stretch marks. And although they’re so common, they can be pretty frustrating—especially when you’re getting ready for a summer of swimsuits.

“Stretch marks are pink, red, or purple indented streaks that most commonly appear on the abdomen, breasts, upper arms, buttocks, and thighs,” says Fayne L. Frey, M.D., a dermatologist in West Nyack, New York. If you have ‘em, you know exactly what we’re talking about.

Why We Get Stretch Marks

Stretch marks are caused by the breaking of elastin and collagen in the dermis (the thick layer of tissue below the epidermis, the outermost layer of skin) when your skin stretches quickly, says Tsippora Shainhouse, M.D., a dermatologist in Beverly Hills. (Elastin is a connective tissue found in the skin that allows it to stretch and bounce back, while collagen is a protein found all over the body that basically acts as your skin’s support structure —not only strengthening your skin, but keeping it smooth-looking.)

There are a number of reasons these marks might show up on your skin. For one, stretch marks are genetic, Shainhouse says. So if your parents have them, you’re more likely to develop them, too.

First noticed stretch marks as a teen? That’s because they often form on both guys and girls during quick growth spurts, says Esta Kronberg, M.D., a dermatologist in Houston. They can also pop up during pregnancy, after quick weight gain, because of hormone abnormalities, and even as a result of lots of exercise, says Kronberg.

One such stretch mark-causing hormonal disorder is Cushing’s syndrome (which is marked by excess levels of the stress hormone cortisol), explains Frey. According to the Mayo Clinic, cortisol which is pumped out by your adrenal glands, weakens elastic fibers in your skin, making it easier for stretch marks to form.

Related: Could You Have Adrenal Fatigue?

And, yes, you heard us right—your stretch marks might also be an unexpected result of your dedication to the gym. You can be fit and have stretch marks. “They are fairly common in bodybuilders, who develop significant muscle mass over a short period,” says Shainhouse, noting that stretch marks caused by muscle growth are often seen in the biceps.

Are Stretch Marks Permanent?

If you have stretch marks—wherever they are—you’ve probably wondered: Is there anything you can to do to get rid of ‘em? Eventually most stretch marks fade to white or gray, but they rarely disappear completely, says Frey. Womp. That being said, there are a few treatments that may help minimize their appearance.

One option: pulsed dye laser treatment. This non-invasive, relatively painless laser treatment takes just a few minutes per session and can be very effective, says Kronberg.

The procedure uses a concentrated beam of light to target blood vessels, according to the Baylor College of Medicine. “Pulsed dye lasers can help reduce the color [of stretch marks] more quickly,” says Shainhouse.

Many patients begin to see results in two to four sessions, says Kronberg, who recommends sessions on a biweekly or monthly basis.

Just keep in mind that this is a cosmetic treatment, so you’ll have to pay out of pocket. According to the online cosmetic surgery community RealSelf.com, the average cost of a pulsed dye laser session comes in around $800 (although price may vary by location). Kronberg recommends seeing a dermatologist who specializes in cosmetic treatments for the procedure instead of visiting a spa.

Related: 15 Natural Ways To Hang On To That Youthful Glow

Another in-office treatment: microdermabrasion. While this one might lessen the appearance of stretch marks, it’s not a given. “Microdermabrasion is used to gently remove the top layers of skin with the hopes of stimulating underlying collagen formation,” says Frey —“but little scientific evidence exists showing the efficacy of this treatment.” (Remember: When collagen breaks, it can leave behind stretch marks.)

As far as at-home options go, lotions with alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) like glycolic acid are your best bet, because they stimulate collagen, says Kronberg. Topical retinoids also stimulate collagen, says Kronberg. But they can be irritating—and may only work on new stretch marks that are less than a few months old, adds Frey.  Your best bet is going to the derm, since a prescription product will have higher-strength ingredients than anything you’d find at a drugstore, says Kronberg.

Stick with your treatment option of choice for three months, suggests Kronberg. If after three months nothing has changed and your stretch marks haven’t faded, it’s likely a sign they’ll pretty much stick around for good.

The bottom line: We’re all about embracing the skin we’re in—but of course, if you’re unhappy or frustrated with how your skin looks, talk with your derm to weigh your options. Otherwise, we say flaunt what you’ve got—stretch marks and all! After all, summer only lasts so long, and you deserve to enjoy every moment of it.

Related: Check out a number of body care products to pamper your skin with.

People Are Whitening Their Teeth With Turmeric—Obviously We Had To Try It

Turmeric, a golden yellow spice popular in Indian cuisine and a long-used natural remedy in ancient Eastern systems of medicine, is, well, everywhere. (And rightly so, since it’s packed with a powerful antioxidant called curcumin.)

First came ‘golden milk’ (a latte made with coconut milk, turmeric, and honey), then came turmeric face masks, next an explosion of turmeric teas, and now—turmeric teeth whitening?

Yep, Pinterest junkies and DIY beauty lovers are slathering the brightly-colored spice all over their chompers to whiten them. Here’s how it works, according to the many ‘experts’ of the internet: Mix two parts ground turmeric with one part coconut oil (and sometimes one part baking soda, too), brush your teeth with the paste for two minutes—and voila—(potentially) pearlier whites.

So, is this a fad or is turmeric a long lost cousin of Colgate? Well, according to a review published in Molecular Nutrition and Food Research, turmeric does possess some oral health potential: Both turmeric water rinses and turmeric paste have been used in Chinese and Indian traditional medicine for minor mouth maladies, like irritated gums. And a 2015 study published in the International Quarterly Journal of Ayurveda found that turmeric gel supported gum and oral health. However, while the antioxidants in turmeric might support healthy gums, the only ingredient in this mixture that bears any real whitening potential is the baking soda, says Jonathan Levine, D.M.D., program director of advanced aesthetics in dentistry at NYU School of Dentistry. “Sodium bicarbonate [that’s baking soda] is a great ingredient for the mouth,” he says. “It’s not very abrasive and won’t scratch teeth, can deodorize the mouth, and lift some of the stains off of teeth.” Turmeric, though? There’s very little research to support its whitening powers, Levine says. Womp.

Facts aside, I still had to try it for myself—if just to compare it to brushing with activated charcoal…

I wouldn’t call my teeth yellow—I don’t miss a millimeter when I brush, and I floss pretty much every day. But I would call my teeth dull. Perfectly meh—a lameness that seems especially obvious against my translucent-pale complexion.

after teeth

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

So I raided the kitchen to make my own turmeric teeth-whitening paste. I mixed turmeric, baking soda, and coconut oil in a small bowl and headed to the bathroom. Here goes nothing. I dipped my toothbrush into my golden paste, and got to work.


The mixture was pretty gloppy (more like mud than paste) and the smell of it hit me before my brush even touched my teeth. My minty toothpaste-accustomed taste buds were surprised by the savory flavor. Definitely weird—not unpleasant, though.


I glanced in the mirror: My teeth were a frightening mustard color. I kept brushing, with golden goop dripping into the sink and oozing out of the corners of my mouth. Ew. What a mess.

turmeric teeth

When my two minutes were up, I spit out the turmeric paste and rinsed my mouth with water. It took four rounds of swishing to wash everything out. I spent a minute or two scrubbing my sink (which is white) to get rid of the faint orangey hue the paste had left behind. I tried washing it out of my toothbrush, but that turmeric tint was going nowhere—so I just accepted the fact that the bristles would be permanently stained. Another place the turmeric color lingered? The corners of my mouth. Two little patches of jaundiced-looking yellow—how cute. So began round three of scrubbing. Luckily, the color disappeared with a wet paper towel and a little elbow grease.

But my teeth! After all that, I inspected the final result: bright and shiny. They felt squeaky clean and perhaps looked even a little bit whiter. This skeptic was quite surprised—though I knew my sparkly-looking smile was likely thanks to the baking soda, not the golden turmeric.

before teeth

I won’t be making this a new nightly ritual, but I’d certainly try it again…on a rainy day when I’ve got some time on my hands for clean-up.

As long as you are still on top of your usual brushing and flossing routine and checking in with the pros regularly, using a DIY treatment every so often (like once a week or so) can be totally safe for your mouth, says Levine. For optimal at-home whitening, he recommends brushing with a mixture of baking soda in diluted hydrogen peroxide (one part peroxide, one part water) once a week. “Hydroxide is the only true teeth whitener, because it oxidizes the surface of the tooth,” Levine explains.

Related: Not feelin’ the golden toothpaste? There are plenty of other ways to get more turmeric in your life.

8 The Vitamin Shoppe Health Enthusiasts Share Their Best On-The-Job Moments

It’s The Vitamin Shoppe‘s birthday! And, to celebrate 40 years of thriving, our very own Health Enthusiasts are sharing their most rewarding, on-the-job moments.

Besides being incredibly knowledgeable about our many products, every Health Enthusiast aims to truly connect with our customers. From helping you draw a map to your personal wellness goals to explaining the benefits of any given supplement, they’re always there to nourish and inspire—which is clear from the stories they tell. Take a look.

Store #287 South Burlington, VT

Cal Rawlings Blog

Right after New Year 2017, a young woman came into the store with a determined mindset and a list of resolutions. Her main goal was to manage her weight and get healthy.

We talked through her current goals and past weight-management attempts, and I learned she had tried everything: Atkins, Paleo, fasting, Weight Watchers—but she was still struggling. She was frustrated, understandably.

Together, we talked through a diet and weight-management plan. She was going to start slowly increasing her physical activity from once a week to four times a week (she was going to start taking Zumba, because, like me, straight-up cardio bored her). She also mentioned she was struggling to get enough protein in, so I told her she had come to the right place. We grabbed her a dozen Quest bars to get her started and a few sample packs of the Next Step single-serving packets. She also picked up a sample container of AppeFit to jumpstart her new diet plan.

Amazingly, that very same customer came in again recently and looked very different. She was picking up more Quest and Next Step products, as well as a plnt product to help get more greens in! It is amazing to see a customer’s progress and to think that I played even a small role in it.

These interactions really motivate me to do my best and help every single customer to the best of my abilities.

Store #575 East Rutherford, NJ

QA POS Analyst, North Bergen, NJ (CSC)

Erick Solis Blog

Becoming a Vitamin Shoppe Health Enthusiast has been a life-changing experience. I have a background in science, and I wanted to work for a company that allowed me to use my knowledge in that area. Before I worked in corporate for The Vitamin Shoppe, I worked in the field. I learned so much! The team I worked with taught me to be positive about challenging situations, to be resourceful, and to have patience, which helped to make my moments with customers that much more rewarding.

I remember working with a middle-aged couple that came into the store for the first time. They mentioned they were sleeping enough and eating well, but still feeling very tired. They also mentioned that they were preparing to send their son away to college in a few months. I got the sense that they’d been struggling with a bit of stress—so I let them know that The Vitamin Shoppe carries a few products that may help promote stress relief. That night, they went home with a jar of The Vitamin Shoppe brand turmeric.

A week before my last day in the field, they both came in again—and they hugged and thanked me. They mentioned that at their age, it’s easy to just overlook feelings of tiredness, to just ‘power through it’. They also said that they learned that it’s necessary to listen to our bodies, and I think I helped them do just that.

It can be overwhelming to walk into a store with thousands and thousands of products surrounding you, but I believe I helped make their experience simple and gratifying. I was overwhelmed with their happiness, and it reminded me just about how important it is to communicate my knowledge.

They promised they would continue to be loyal to their health—and to The Vitamin Shoppe. I thanked them for their loyalty and promised them that we are a brand that can trust.

Store #040,  Levittown, NY

#531 Westminster, MD

Alexandra Hoffman Blog

I get a lot of mixed reactions when I tell people I work in retail. They assume it’s a lot of hard work (and it is!), but they don’t know how rewarding it can actually be. I love telling people about The Vitamin Shoppe’s culture and values, and that every day I leave work knowing that I made a difference in someone’s life—that’s what makes this career experience so fulfilling.

I think back on the man who came in ready to give up on his diet plan because it wasn’t yielding results and was just too expensive. He felt hopeless, worried that he’d eventually have to turn to surgery to manager his weight. But when he left my store, he was filled with renewed hope. I helped him find a new set of supplements, protein shakes, and healthy snacks that didn’t break the bank—and could help get him back on track. It was so incredible to see his dedication to his health in this moment.

When he came back in weeks later, he was so excited. In fact, he’d already lost 10 pounds and was feeling great. He was so incredibly thankful that he’d decided to stop by The Vitamin Shoppe weeks earlier. Those are the kinds of stories I tell when people ask me what I do for a living. Those moments give me a sense of purpose and joy.

Store #218 Hurst, TX

Stefanie Peacock blog.jpg

One of my best moments at The Vitamin Shoppe occurred when a very, very thin young man came into the store and shared with me that he was fresh out of rehab from drug use. On top of that, he was struggling to conquer feelings of stress and anxiety.

We immediately connected. I shared my own story of recovery with him (I am now 13 years sober), and I talked to him about the importance of nutrition in the process. I told him a little about the things (like supplements) that helped me feel better physically and mentally. That day, he purchased a multivitamin, a B-complex, and the L-Theanine. 

Nine months later, a very fit young man entered my store and said he was glad I was there. He asked if I remembered him (of course I did!) and held up an Alcoholics Anonymous One-Year Chip. He was sober and healthy.

He told me he was grateful for my help months earlier, and thanked me for sharing my story with him. He’d even been working out at a gym, had gotten himself a nutritionist, and had been coming back to The Vitamin Shoppe for refills on his supplements.

He asked if he could give me a hug, and I just burst into tears.

Knowing that I had helped someone who had walked a similar path to my own is one of the most precious gifts working for The Vitamin Shoppe has given me.


#747: Colonial Heights, VA

sabrie flores blog.jpg

A married couple came in looking to manage their weight together. They were both feeling pretty discouraged, so I listened to their story and aimed to get them the best setup for their health. I set them up with fish oil, CLA, L-carnitine, BCAA’s, pre-workout, isolate protein, and multivitamins. 

I explained to them why each of these products were beneficial to their overall health, and how they might help promote health and weight management. The couple was so happy that I took the time to really explain everything for them. In fact, the woman was so excited that she hugged me! They told me they had really never met someone who cared so much about their goals, and I let them know that I did care and that I believed healthy eating, exercise, and supplementation would definitely yield results. I also asked them to come back and let me know how it was going.

Related: Shop for products to support your unique health needs.

A month later, they both came in to see me. They had both lost 15 pounds and wanted a re-up on their products. On top of that, they wanted to tell my manager how I’d helped them!

It felt amazing to know they had put their trust in me and ended up happier for it. They also told me they’d been telling their friends and family about me and the store. It’s always a great feeling to be a part of someone’s journey toward a healthier life.

5 Bee Products That Are Worth All The Buzz

The mere site of a bee may throw you into a tizzy, but these industrious little insects are responsible for a lot of good in the world. Bees pollinate most of our crops, and they lend many potential health benefits to humans.

From royal jelly to bee pollen, here are five bee products that deserve all the buzz they’re getting.

raw honey header

Raw honey is, essentially, honey that has not been processed or pasteurized. It’s straight from the hive—and that’s one reason why it has such a variance in color, from white to raw honeypink to dark yellow. Raw honey is not strained or filtered, so it often has ground-up parts of honeycomb, pollen, and other bee products in it (don’t be alarmed—this is totally normal and good).

Raw honey is a go-to for people during the colder seasons because of its health-boosting properties, according to a study by Biotechnology Research International. To reap the benefits, swallow raw honey straight from a teaspoon or mix it into a cup of warm tea for a daily health-boosting regimen.


Manuka honey, which is derived from bees that pollinate the Manuka bush in New Zealand, is getting a lot of attention right now—and that’s because this honey is packed with a powerful compound called methylglyoxal (MGO).

raw manuka honeyMGO is key because it supports skin health, moisture, and clarity, according to Molecular Nutrition and Food Research.

Manuka honey is found in many beauty products to promote beautiful skin and hair. It’s also taken by mouth to promote intestinal health, according to Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine. Most products recommend 1/2 tablespoon twice a day (or more as needed) to reap the intestinal health benefits. You can take this raw or mixed into a beverage.

Related: Shop Manuka honey products for beautiful skin. 

 royal jelly header

This bee secretion is a substance used by bees to feed baby bee larvae. It’s kind of like bee breastmilk—which is what makes it so powerful.

royal jellyRoyal jelly has been shown to have powerful cleansing and purifying properties when used topically, according to Microbiological Research. But most commonly, royal jelly—like this one from YS Organic Bee Farms—is used in skin-care, as it is very moisturizing.

You can take royal jelly on its own as a supplement, or you can drink one or two teaspoons twice a day, with or without honey, in warm tea.

bee pollen header
Just as it sounds, bee pollen is pollen that’s been collected from inside the hives of bees. It is a nutritionally-diverse substance, containing protein, fat, B-vitamins and folic acid.

bee pollenA recent study in the journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine found that bee pollen offers potential uses in promoting skin health and repair, but most pollen devotees also take it as a supplement due to its nutritional content. Bee pollen has been reported to boast antioxidant properties, in addition to be being immune-supporting.

Related: Shop bee pollen products, from tablets to granules.

If you’re interested in trying bee pollen, you can find it in tablets or granules. Take the tablets once per day or add the granules to smoothies or yogurt. You can also whip up a bee pollen smoothie using a teaspoon of this potent powder.

 bee propolis header

Bee propolis is made when bees combine the sap they pick up from plants with their own wax and secretions. Bee propolis packs a punch because it’s full of polyphenols, which are powerful health-supporting antioxidants.

bee propolisAccording to Phytotherapy Research, it may promote skin-healing and health, while a study in Clinical Reviews in Allergy and Immunology suggests plenty of other immunity-boosting properties. You can find bee propolis in capsules, but it’s also available in liquid form, or even as a lozenge.

A word of caution: If you’re allergic to bee stings, consult your doctor or a The Vitamin Shoppe Health Enthusiast before using bee products.

Related: What Happened When I Drank Golden Milk For 30 Days Straight

Aromatherapy For Beginners: How To Jazz Up Your Life With Essential Oils

Our senses play a huge part in how we experience and react to the world around us. Hearing a displeasing sound can trigger anxiety, while breathing in a beautiful scent may send you back in time, consumed by an equally lovely memory.

In fact, our sense of smell is so powerful that certain essential oils—which are typically extracted from parts of plants and then distilled—can promote feelings of wellness.

What Is Aromatherapy?

Aromatherapy is thought to work by stimulating smell receptors in the nose, which then send messages through the nervous system to the limbic system—the part of the brain that controls emotions.

Essential oils can be used for a myriad of reasons,” says Leslie Cohen, an aromatherapist and owner of The Blissful Heart wellness collective in New Jersey. “They can help with respiratory issues, evoke a mood—calm, happiness, sensuality—and deepen a meditative practice.” Cohen says they can also be used to help clean surfaces and dissipate not-so-nice odors.

There’s science behind the power of aromatherapy, too. According to the journal, Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, it’s been shown to provide stress relief, promote healthy sleeping patterns, and ease symptoms of anxiety.

Related: 5 Essential Oils You Absolutely Want In Your Life

Pick A Few Favorites

Getting the most out of aromatherapy means honing in on the oils that are best for your needs.

When you first start investigating essential oils, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all of the options and combinations.  “Start with only five to 10 primary essential oils for your basic natural healthcare kit,” recommends Stephanie Tourles, a licensed esthetician, certified aromatherapist, and herbalist in Maine. “Try truly multi-purpose oils, like Roman chamomile, eucalyptus, geranium, lavender, sweet marjoram, sweet orange, peppermint, rosemary, and thyme.”

Many oils come in standard or milder versions, so be sure to look out for that, as well.

Use Wisely

  1. Diffuse or directly inhale

You can buy a diffuser to disperse the essential oils into your space.

But Cohen prefers direct inhalation, if you’re game. “Put a few drops of your favorite oil or blend on your palm, rub your hands together briskly, cup around your nose, and breathe deeply,” she instructs. “This is by far the quickest and most effective way to enjoy the benefits of many oils.”

Related: Shop diffusers for your aromatherapy experience.

That said, you should be cautious with which oils you apply directly to your palms—or any part of your body—and breathe in. Many are caustic and almost any essential oil can cause a reaction (like sun sensitivity, allergic reactions, or skin irritation) if you are sensitive to it, she explains.

The solution? Dilute them with oil or cream (more on that below)! “Some need to be diluted more than others to make them safer,” Cohen notes. “In general, think about how it might taste or how it’s used in its complete form. For instance, oregano, black pepper and cinnamon are hot when you eat them.” So, you wouldn’t want to put ‘hot’ oils directly onto your skin.

If you’re planning on directly inhaling a strong oil, start with one drop only and cautiously bring your hands to your nose to make sure it’s not too overpowering for your respiratory system, Cohen advises. “Those hot oils can burn your sinuses. Also be careful not to touch your hands to your face if you’re using a strong oil.”

2. Apply directly to your skin

If you want to apply an essential oil to your skin, your best bet is to dilute it to a very low concentration—one to three drops per ounce of an oil with a preferably organic, fat-soluble base or “carrier” oil like sunflower oil, coconut oil, or jojoba oil. You can also use an unscented cream. After diluting it, you can test the blend on a small area of your body before using it as a massage oil, for example.

After the patch test, you can work with different concentrations. Generally, you want to mix a drop with at least a teaspoon of a carrier oil.

Related: Shop essential oils, from eucalyptus to lavender—and everything in between.

 A Note of Caution on Formulations

Use age-appropriate oils, avoiding eucalyptus and rosemary, in particular, for children under 10, advises Tourles.

“Children are not small adults and cannot handle the same dilution ratios as adults,” she says. So, do your research before concocting your blends!

The National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy is one particularly reputable resource that provides details on how to dilute your oils appropriately (depending on what you’re using them for and who you’re using them on) and how to locate a certified aromatherapist in your area.

You can also find a practitioner by searching on the Aromatherapy Registration Council site.

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

I’ve gotten pretty lucky with my skin. I haven’t had much acne in my life, and at 31, I’ve got no signs of wrinkles. But my skin is remarkably dull, like that of a tired ghost. It’s ruddy, uneven, and it tends to look dry, even when it’s moisturized.

Thanks to an unhealthy addiction to Sephora and a ridiculously Olympic skin regimen, I’m able to work with the flaws I’ve got, but I’m always on the hunt for that “glow” you read about on magazine covers. Oral collagen supplementation has been shown to prove efficacious in improving the hallmark signs of skin aging, according to a study by the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, so I was more than willing to take it for a test drive.

When I got my hands on Reserveage’s Collagen Replenish Powder, I was immediately in love with the packaging. The pretty coral color, the leafy design, and the “Hyaluronic Acid & Vitamin C” boost sold me. What can I say? I’m a sucker for smart packaging.

The powder includes something Reserveage calls Deluxe Peptide Plus, which provides nutrients for the skin. And it boasts a 20 percent reduction in eye wrinkles within eight weeks. I’ll take that, any day.

Related: 6 Healthy Habits I Wish I’d Learned When I Was Younger

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Let’s get something out of the way, though, shall we? This stuff certainly doesn’t pretend to smell good. The jar itself says “odorless” (which is not entirely true; it’s got a faint scent of dried milk). So you’re not going to be drinking in the flavor or scent of flowers or anything. But we can get past this!

I mixed the powder into drinks for a morning beverage, which instantly solved the issue. No, not my precious coffee; I’d whip it into protein shakes or fruit smoothies, and you’d never know it was there.

I admit that I saw no change in the first few weeks. After week one I started checking my skin in the mirror. Plumper? No. Firmer? Nope. What was this collagen even doing, I wondered? Same for week two.

But by week three I did notice a significant shift. The skin under my eyes got considerably brighter and my cheeks seemed softer, smoother. Where my skin tends to “sag,” at all, is near my jowl. I noticed that it became a little less noticeable (cue my mother’s voice: “You DO NOT have jowls! I have jowls!”). Still, it really looked better.


All in all, I felt like the product did its job well. It’s quick and easy to mix up into a beverage, and its inexpensive (less than $20) price point makes it alluring, considering so many collagen products on the market are quite pricey.

And, you’re skipping out on all the other sometimes wacky ingredients that come in a jar of skin lotion. My skin definitely has a bit of a glow to it now, and having to drink collagen every day gave me an excuse to make a healthy smoothie each morning. Final verdict: I’m staying on the collagen train.

Related: Shop collagen to promote healthier-looking skin. 

Does Light Therapy Actually Work?

There’s been a lot of buzz lately about light therapy—specifically red light and near-infrared light, including infrared saunas. Celebrities are all over the relaxation and detoxification trend—even quarterback Tom Brady is on board, endorsing infrared pajamas (nope, not a joke!) that are said to help you recover from sports-related injuries while you sleep.

But does light therapy truly have legit health benefits? Let’s start from the beginning.

What Are Light Therapy Saunas?

Firstly, there are several types of light therapy. You probably have heard about red light, which hits the surface of the skin. And then there’s near-infrared light, which penetrates deeper into your skin. 

According to Dr. Michael Hamblin, principal investigator at the Wellman Center for Photomedicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, associate professor of dermatology at Harvard Medical School, and worldwide expert on light therapy, infrared light works sort of like the sun does to stimulate plant growth—only, in this case, humans are the plant.

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

Light therapy saunas actually heat and penetrate your skin (not the room, like a regular sauna) and convert the light to cellular energy.

What Can Light Therapy Do For You?

According to a study in the journal Annals of Biomedical Engineering, red light and near-infrared light therapy offer a host of rejuvenating benefits at the cellular level, including activating the lymphatic system, increasing circulation, forming new capillaries, and repairing tissue.

So, when certain wavelengths of light hit the skin, one might experience a reduction in inflammation, wound healing, and skin rejuvenation, among other potential benefits, according to the journal Photomedicine and Laser Surgery. And, according to a study done by the journal Canadian Family Physician, it may even promote cardiovascular health, normal blood pressure, and weight loss, though more studies are warranted.

Related: Shop products to support cardiovascular health. 

Hamblin says the light has remarkable effects on the brain, as well. According to the journal Photomedicine and Laser Surgerybrain surgeries using LED may promote cognition and reduce the treatment cost of traumatic brain injury, since someone can apply red light therapy at home. Hamblin says hand-held light therapy devices can be used at home for sports injuries, arthritis, joint pain, skin-smoothing, and more.

Related: Shop collagen products to help promote smooth, supple skin. 

What Scientists Don’t Know

It’s important to note that the research on light therapies is still developing. Scientists don’t totally understand the molecular or cellular mechanisms responsible for turning light into energy. Also, it’s not entirely clear just how light therapy should best be used in terms of regularity, how intense the light should be, or how skin should be prepared beforehand. If that sounds too risky to you, stick with a good ol’ sweat-inducing spa sauna. 

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

Everyone knows that taking care of your skin is important, but a one-size-fits-all approach is not the answer. Your skin type, environment, and age play huge factors in determining just how you should care for your skin.

There being a ton of products out there, and sometimes it seems you need an advanced chemistry degree just to understand the ingredients. Cut through the confusion and get your very best skin with these decade-specific tips from derma experts:

Skin-Care for Your 20s

Your old college habit of falling into bed with a face-full of makeup isn’t doing you any favors. Got it? Now is the time to start building a basic skin care routine that will pay off in the future, according to Board Certified Dermatologist Dr. Tsippora Shainhouse.

“Get in the habit of washing your face at bedtime to remove make-up, grease, and grime from the day,” Shainhouse says. “These can all clog pores and cause inflammation that can trigger acne. If you’re acne-prone, consider using a face wash or body wash with salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide to unclog pores and kill bacteria, respectively.”

Related: Shop skin-loving facial cleansers.

But don’t stop there! Shainhouse recommends following up with a moisturizer (choosing something light-weight if you have acne-prone or greasy skin). Lastly, wearing sunscreen every day is a non-negotiable. “If you start now,” Shainhouse says, “you [can] look way younger than your friends when you are older.”

Related: 6 Healthy Habits I Wish I’d Learned When I Was Younger

Skin-Care For Your 30s

In your 30s, keeping up with a consistent skin-care routine is going to be your first step to maintaining healthy skin. But the 30s is also a great time to add a few anti-aging habits. You may also want to reevaluate the products you are using, making adjustments to accommodate changes to your skin.

For instance, unless you’re still fighting with acne, this decade is a good time to adjust your cleanser to a gel-based product. The primary responsibility of this sort of product is to remove any makeup or other sort of dirt before heading to bed.

“Makeup that sits in your pores can clog and irritate, triggering acne, and it can, theoretically, stretch out pores,” says Shainhouse. “The soot and particulate matter that are outside can cause inflammation in the skin and free radicals can oxidize DNA and damage collagen.”

At this age everyone should also be using a toner, according to licensed advanced esthetician, Melissa Allen. She suggests the addition of a hydrating mist toner with hyaluronic acid in it, which is used after cleansing but before moisturizing.

Related: 6 Floral Waters That Can Totally Replace Your Skin Toner

A broad-spectrum SPF should follow your cleanser, toner, and moisturizer, according to Shainhouse, who doesn’t believe the protection provided by your moisturizer or foundation is adequate. Go with an SPF 30, like the Antioxidant Natural Sunscreen by Derma E.

Skin Care for Your 40s+

In your 40s, slower cell turnover—along with changes to your hormones—may change the needs of your skin, according to Shainhouse. If you are noticing dryness and sensitivity, now is a good time to make the switch to a non-soap or cream cleanser.

If you haven’t begun to address your skin’s specific needs with topical treatments, your 40s is the time to make this habit. This is where serums with active ingredients come into play. There isn’t a one-size-fit-all recommendation, so you’ll likely need to chat with a dermatologist, health enthusiast, or esthetician to find the right cocktail for your skins needs. Some of the most common serums include hyaluronic acid for hydration, vitamin C for reducing inflammation, and rosehip seed oil for uneven skin tone.

Related: Shop fluids, oils, and serums for your skin care needs.

Retinoids, which are derived from vitamin A, are used to encourage cell turnover (and, in turn, a reduction in fine lines). “To help bring new skin cells to the surface and encourage new collagen growth, you may want to start using a retinoid serum or cream a few nights a week,” says Shainhouse. Collagen is also available in the form of capsules and powder.

Specialized treatments, like oils or retinoids, should follow your cleanser and toner but come before moisturizer and sunscreen. Shainhouse suggests adjusting your moisturizer based on your skin’s needs. “For warm-weather months, use a lightweight moisturizer on the areas that need it, and for cool dry months, switch to a heavier cream,” she says.

Related: Browse beautifying moisturizers from every skin type.

6 Healthy Habits I Wish I’d Learned When I Was Younger

When my alarm goes off each morning, an elaborate ritual begins. If you were to watch my routine, you’d think I was incredibly detail-oriented, and then you’d think it is taking way too long for me to get out the door.

First, it’s the face wash (which I’ve finally figured out isn’t just, you know, hand soap). That’s followed by a serum, a moisturizer, and an SPF (50, thanks —I’m translucent; my Mediterranean genes betrayed me). Next comes the stretching (and cracking), the apple cider vinegar concoction (yes, it does work), the handful of vits I remember to take, and the occasional YouTube kickboxing workout. All said and done, I behave like a pretty legitimate grown-up. Thing is, this whole song and dance only recently started.

At 18, I was more concerned with how dark I could tan (peer pressure from the local tanning salon, circa 2005), or how much I could party before going to class the next day. I 100 percent never wore SPF or moisturizer, and any workout I did was definitely negated by an I-deserve-it carb explosion. The worst thing I did? Ordered a Venti latte (made from—this is not a lie—half and half) at least once a week. Half. And. Half.

I just wasn’t concerned with basic self-care techniques. I’d stay up all night during college and it followed me to when I started working in the “real world.” Who cares, I thought? I’d lived on four hours of sleep since I was 15; why not keep it going?

Related: I Quit Drinking Alcohol For A Month—Here’s How It Went

Turns out there were plenty of reasons not to, actually.

I didn’t realize how these behaviors would affect me now, at age 30. I’d run full steam ahead on bad eating habits, way too much wine (“at least it’s not tequila…”), and I had a distaste for working out. If I was stressed, I ate. If I was tired, I ate. If I was busy, I’d snack on empty calories. And when I woke up for work, I’d brush my teeth and run out the door.

Then I’d wonder why I felt sluggish all the time. My skin was always broken out. I was constantly dealing with shoulder cramps. And I was gaining weight. I made no time for me—no time to just be alive, to take care of myself, to listen to my body.

Just saying the words “listen to my body” makes me cringe (I’m not one for self-care-isms), but the reality is that I didn’t listen to my body. I actively turned away from care habits because I was “busy” or “I didn’t need them.”

But when I was 25 I was diagnosed with arthritis and I realized I needed to wake up. My actual body was falling apart, and the extra weight on my joints was a problem. I needed to start stretching, to start working out, to start eating well. I needed to quit the amount of sugary alcohol I was drinking and I needed to start taking care of my skin. I needed energy. I was tired-looking and worn out. I became a zombie with a robust social calendar and a refrigerator full of garbage.

Related: What It’s Like To Have Arthritis In Your Twenties

I fought this reality with a stubbornness that ought to be applauded (really, I win at being stubborn), but I eventually succumbed to the necessity of self-care and now I’m better for it.

So what did I do?

I started eating better.

This was the hardest change. I became more cognizant of calories and portions, which is tough when what you want to do is eat all the cheese and all the bread. I began making salads and cooking veggie dishes and turning to whole foods. I stopped eating chocolate cereal and bagels at midnight (I live in NYC—I can order anything I want at any hour), and I started checking the side of the box for nutrition facts. It’s incredibly easy to eat double your daily caloric need every day, I realized. I mean, it’s simple. If I was more aware earlier, I could have avoided the weight gain, the stomach issues, and the bad habits I fight to kick these days.

I started being kind to my skin.

This may seem trivial and vain, but it’s not. We have to live in our bodies all of our lives, so why not nurture them? I’m not the hugest fan of dry, cracked skin—and I certainly don’t want to age prematurely, so why shouldn’t I do what it takes to care for myself? I try to use products that come from mostly natural sources, and I make sure I cover my face and skin in SPF when I’m in the sun. Cancer is the pits, and I’m not going to risk it because I’m lazy.

Related: Keep your skin in tip-top shape with these bath & beauty products

I learned to love water.

I used to think lots of coffee and milk was the key to hydration. Somehow, I was wrong; I constantly felt terrible. Water is so epically underrated that it’s no surprise people have to remind others to drink it. First, with a meal it helps to keep you full (so you don’t go back for several servings you don’t need). And then it helps hydrate your skin, and it flushes toxins from your system. A huge glass of water first thing in the morning has changed my life for the better. Pro-tip: Set a reminder to take your vitamins with your first glass of water. Turns out, vitamins actually work. (I was apparently the last person to figure this out.)

I started going to bed before midnight.

I love staying up late and am most productive during the witching hours. But once I decided to stop fighting sleep, I felt like a human being—radiant, energetic, happy, engaged, responsible. What is lost from those magical evening hours is gained ten-fold the next day. Had I done this earlier on, I don’t think I would have had so many rough days and so little energy.

Related: Shop weight-management products to help you reach your goals.

I took time to hang out alone.

I used to cram my schedule with engagements: work, post-work work, post-work networking, weekend work, late-night social events, parties, meet-ups. It was like I was always on, always scheduled. Sitting on the couch in silence became a foreign thing to me; I was lost, and I didn’t even know it. Once I began understanding the difference between productivity and success (success doesn’t simply come from work; it comes from balance), I felt so much more alive. I could see more clearly, and I could see what I’d been missing all along: my self.

I stopped caring about the rules.

Everyone always says that they have all the answers. And sometimes I say I have all the answers. But I’ve learned that self-care and personal happiness are unique for everyone. Do what works best for you (but I really am telling you that water, working out, and vegetables are good for you). I wish I had known this earlier; I would have spared myself a lot of cranky, tired, overstimulated years.

6 Floral Waters That Can Totally Replace Your Skin Toner

Toners have, for a while now, been touted as a necessary step in our skin-care rituals. And that’s because they’re made to balance your skin’s pH levels while brightening, cleansing, and toning it. A little flower water, however, can provide all of that, while also offering up the unique properties of natural ingredients.

Floral waters are made from various types of plants and flowers that are generally used to make essential oils—such as chamomile, rose, or lavender. The flower is boiled in distilled water, and the resulting steam (once it has cooled off) becomes the floral water. The water carries the same properties of an essential oil, but because the plant or flower is diluted in water (rather than concentrated like essential oils are) they are safe to use directly on the skin. Plus, floral waters smell like a dream!

Here, six of our favorites—and the beauty benefits of each.

roseRose Water

According to a study in Current Microbiology, the essential oil of rose and hydrosol boast both antioxidant and cleansing properties when applied topically. And, rose water is known to be gentle on skin that tends to be sensitive to other ingredients.

Try: Organic Bulgarian Rose Water

mintMint Water

If you’re looking to finish your cleansing routine feeling invigorated and uplifted, mint water is your go-to. According to Toxicological Research, mint can be used to condition the skin, leaving it hydrated and refreshed. Also, a cool splash of mint is a great no-caffeine-needed way to wake up during those early mornings.

Try: Moroccan Menthe Beauty Water

tea treeTea Tree Water

Tea Tree oil has been used in dozens of ways, from helping to keep bugs away to cleansing the home. But it’s also great for the skin (especially sensitive skin), due to its mega-cleansing properties, according to Europe PMC.  With its fresh cooling properties, it can also be used to awaken dull or tired skin.

Try: South African Tea Tree Beauty Oil

chamomileChamomile Water

Chamomile is beloved for its super-soothing properties. Whether in the form of a relaxing tea or as a calming floral water, this gentle giant of an herb can be helpful to having good health. According to The Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, chamomile also shows some antioxidant properties, which the skin loves. Win! Beware ragweed allergy sufferers, however: Chamomile can occasionally trigger reactions in people with ragweed allergies, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.

                                                       Try: South African Cape Chamomile Beauty Water

lavenderLavender Water

Lavender has an incredibly relaxing scent, which makes it an ideal nighttime skin toner. As a floral water it’s both cleansing and soothing to the skin, making it ideal for sensitive skin that can’t handle other heavier facial skin products.

Try: South African Lavender Soothing Facial Water


witch hazelWitch Hazel Water

Many people don’t even realize that witch hazel, which, as a toner can be made with lavender or rose, is actually a flower! Without the alcohol and other potential ingredients, you’re left with an astringent floral water that is soft and gentle on the skin. Not only can it tone and cleanse your skin, it can also protect it with its antioxidant properties, according to Chemical Research in Toxicology.

Try: Certified Organic Witch Hazel Astringent  


You Had No Idea Epsom Salt Could Do All Of These Things

Chances are, you’ve got a bag of Epsom salt hidden in the back of your sink cabinet, ready to pull out when your muscles are sore. But have you ever wondered why this simple salt is so soothing—and if there are any other ways you can reap the benefits?

Epsom salt (also called magnesium sulfate) is essentially a form of the vital nutrient magnesium. Bruce Roberts, MD, an integrative medicine physician, explains: “Epsom salts are a magnesium salt. Magnesium is a co-factor in over 300 different metabolic processes in the body including energy production, detoxification, muscle, and nerve function.”

So, when you soak in a bath filled with Epsom salt, you are essentially replenishing your magnesium stores—and that’s why it’s so ahhh-worthy.

Here are some solid benefits found in this special salt.

1. Promotes Relaxation

“[Magnesium] tends to be one of the first minerals to be used up during times of stress,” says Roberts. And we’ve all experienced its dreadful symptoms: “When people are under stress they tend to get depleted in magnesium resulting in tight, sore muscles, irritable nerves, insomnia, high blood pressure, and constipation,” says Roberts. That’s where Epsom salt comes in. The calming effect of the magnesium can make a big difference in times of stress or upheaval, too.

2. Supports Regularity

Having trouble going number two? Epsom salt is a proven gentle laxative. A small amount of salt, mixed with water, can be taken internally (check the directions on your box and speak with your doc). Dr. Roberts warns that some people cannot tolerate magnesium orally because of the bowel effect, though. Not to fear! “Epsom salt baths are a good alternative way to get magnesium into the body without going through the GI tract,” says Roberts. (But don’t think a bath has the same effect as taking it internally).

Related: 8 Foods And Drinks For When You Just Can’t Poop

3. Exfoliates Dry Skin

Rub a little Epsom salt on your body (combined with an oil, like coconut or jojoba), to moisturize cracked, scaly skin on knees, elbows, and elsewhere!

4. Aids Healthy Sleep Patterns

Magnesium is also a powerful sleep aid (no)—a study in the Journal of Research in Medical Science found that magnesium supplementation helped support sleep in elderly people. But you don’t have to pop a pill to feel its effects, as an Epsom salt soak before bed can calm you down and prep your body for a solid night of slumber.

5. Soothes Bruises & Aches

Soaking in an Epsom salt solution can help relieve sore muscles, minor strains, general aches and pains, and post-workout pulls.

Related: Shop our Epsom salt products and get your relaxation on.

6. Helps Plants Grow

Epsom salt can be applied to the soil in your garden or houseplants, as it helps to promote a healthy soil composition (after all, magnesium is a mineral!). An Epsom salt solution can also help keep bugs away, when sprayed on plants.

7. Cleans Your Home

As a cleaning aid, Epsom salt works wonders on dirty tile and grout (just combine with a liquid soap). They’re also useful for scrubbing gunk (think caked-on food on your plates and pans). Another bonus? If you find that your washing machine is in need of a clean, a quick cycle with a healthy scoop of Epsom salt can also remove detergent buildup.

15 Beautifying Ingredients That Are Sitting In Your Kitchen Pantry

Natural beauty products and practices are growing in popularity—and for good reason. Plenty of drugstore products are filled with unpronounceable chemicals, fillers, and irritants, which is why from-the-earth ingredients are so valued, especially ones for the skin and hair.

And guess what? You probably have a good deal of beautifying ingredients sitting right under your nose. Like, right in your sandwich.

Here, 15 items you can find in your kitchen pantry that have serious beauty benefits.

1. Olive Oil: It totally makes sense that this do-everything kitchen favorite has serious skin benefits, as well. Extra virgin olive oil is an amazing moisturizer, makeup remover, and overall skin protector, according to the journal Clinics in Dermatology . Add it to masks or scrubs (you can even make your own scrub with a two tablespoons of olive oil and honey and a half cup of sugar) or just plain slather it on when you’re skin is feeling parched (and no, it’s not true that oil will block your pours).

2. Coffee grinds: You may have seen coffee scrubs in upscale skin-care stores, but they’re just as easy to use in your own DIY exfoliating blends. Make sure you use fresh, unused grounds, and combine them with an oil or other emollient. Then, scrub away! This is terrific to use on dry or rough body parts, like elbows, knees, or even lips. A word to the wise: You better enjoy the smell of coffee, because it’s strong!

3. Honey: As good as honey tastes, you should know it’s just as good for your skin. The sweet treat has been used for centuries for skincare, in scrubs, as a bath soak, and even to wash your face. Organic manuka honey is a terrific variety to try, prized for its purity.

Related: Why Has Manuka Honey Become So Popular–And What Do You Actually Do With It?

4. Avocado: Avocado is full of healthy fats (like monounsaturated fatty acids) and Vitamin C, both of which help your skin stay healthy-looking and supple. Mash it up and pop it on your face. (And make sure to save some for guacamole—the best time to snack is as your mask dries!)

5. Egg whites: Sticky, goopy egg whites are actually a bit of a miracle worker for your face, helping to pull gunk from your pores while toning, and tightening the skin. In fact, egg whites are a craze in the Korean beauty world! They contain both collagen and protein, two powerhouse ingredients for skin-care.

Related: Is Matcha Really A Miracle Worker?

6. Mayonnaise: Women have been using mayo hair masks for decades to get enviable super-shiny hair. Ask your grandma—she might have slathered some Hellman’s on her tresses back in the day, too! Yes, you may smell like a potato salad while you’re doing it, but the healthy fats and moisture in the condiment are super-nourishing for hair. Leave in for at least 20 minutes and then shampoo it out.

7. Coconut oil: Coconut oil is the workhorse of the natural world, and for good reason. This incredibly healthy oil is great for baking, cooking, and even oil pulling. It’s also a powerful moisturizer for both hair and skin, and can be used in a variety of treatments. Buy a big tub of organic coconut oil and keep it in your bathroom to use when skin is dry, makeup is stubborn, or hair needs a little oomph.

8. Yogurt: The lactic acid in this kitchen staple (also a super-healthy treat) is an amazing exfoliator, helping to slough off the blah skin and reveal the bright skin underneath. If you want to try a yogurt facial, be sure to use an unflavored option, though! Then, rub in a few teaspoons and let it soak in for 10-15 minutes.

9. Apple cider vinegar: It’s easy to find apple cider vinegar, which is good news for your skin and hair. ACV (as it’s often abbreviated) makes a terrific natural skin toner and it promotes a healthy scalp. This type of vinegar also helps clarify hair, especially when you’ve got a lot of product buildup. It’s also not uncommon to use it as a shampoo!

10. Cornstarch: Cornstarch, frequently used as a thickener in soups and stews, can do double-duty on both your face and your body. It can be used as a setting powder after makeup application (or just to mop up oil) and its super-absorbency makes it a quick, easy fix for other areas where you find yourself getting damp, like inner thighs or armpits.

11. Cucumber: Most people have seen this crunchy veggie used as an eye de-puffer, but did you know it can tone the skin and help to relieve the sting of sunburn? According to the journal Fitoterapia, the jury is still out on how the particular compounds in cucumber help the skin, but they do contain high water content (while boasting a soothing scent), which can help to moisturize the skin.

Related: We Tried 5 DIY Body Scrubs—Here’s What Happened

12. Turmeric: Turmeric is a star these days, adored for its digestive and immune systems support. Some evidence, according to Phytotherapy Research, points to skin health benefits, and it makes a great addition to a facial mask or scrub.

13. Mustard powder: Mustard is much revered in the Indian Ayurvedic health (considered the world’s oldest holistic healing system), both for its culinary and medicinal properties. The powder, made from the mustard seed, can be a great exfoliator for the skin.

14. Banana: DIY hair devotees swear by banana hair masks, and studies in Phytojournal have shown that the fruit favorite can add to the endurance, shine and softness of your hair. Blend the fruit up with an oil of your choice, plus some honey, and let sit for 20-30 minutes. Rinse out and enjoy the tropical vibe left behind.

15. Green tea: You already know that green tea is great for your insides (hello antioxidants!) but its benefits can be reaped on the outside, too. Try it as a toner, mix it with other ingredients to make a mask, or put it into action as a hair rinse. According to the Journal of the German Society of Dermatology, green tea has shown remarkable efficacy in skin-care.


What You Should Change About Your Beauty Routine If You’re Pregnant

Most women know that certain foods become off limits once you’re pregnant. Soft cheeses, lunch meats, and sprouts are all on the “do not eat” list, largely due to the risk of food poisoning.

But many women don’t realize that their beauty routines may be rocked, too. Not only do pregnant women have to look out for a number of ingredients in popular cosmetic products, but they also have to deal with a host of brand-new skin issues.

I spazzed during my first pregnancy when I discovered three months in that salicylic acid face wash is on the “no go” list—and promptly tossed the wash I’d been using since I was a teen in favor of an all-natural scrub.

To keep other expectant moms from having the same freak-outs, we’re breaking down the products you may want to stop using when you’re with child, as well as ones you may want to consider adding in order to deal with the many body changes that hit.

Take A Closer Look At Your Face Wash

“Most women that are pregnant may think that they need to avoid certain foods, and don’t realize that topical products can be absorbed and cause harm to their growing baby,” says Susan G. Murrmann, M.D., F.A.C.O.G., co-founder of the McDonald Murrmann Women’s Clinic.

Common acne-fighting ingredients like tetracycline, salicylic acid, and any retinoid product should be avoided because they may be associated with birth defects, she says. Instead, opt for washes that contain alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), glycolic acid, and lactic acid, which are considered safe alternatives.

Related: This Reviva Glycolic Acid Facial Cleanser is soap and oil-free.  

Rethink Your Mani/Pedi

Manicures and pedicures can feel amazing—especially when you’re pregnant and have crazy-sore feet—but Murrmann urges caution. Many nail polish formulas include a chemical known as TPHP, which is commonly used as a flame retardant, that can be absorbed into the body through the nail, according to a study published in Environmental International

That doesn’t mean you need to avoid nail polish altogether—just look for polishes labeled “all natural” or “TPHP-free.”

“I felt lousy during the first two trimesters of my pregnancy, and getting a monthly pedicure really helped me feel pampered,” says Amy L. “The salon near me didn’t have nail polishes I felt good about, so I just brought my own.”

Related: Mineral Fusion’s nail polishes are 100 percent vegan.

Combat Skin Changes

Skin discoloration, or melasma, a common condition in which people get dark patches on their skin, can occur during pregnancy and is triggered both by hormonal changes and sun exposure. That’s why Tsippora Shainhouse, M.D., F.A.A.D., board-certified dermatologist and clinical instructor at the University of Southern California, says it’s especially important to wear sunscreen when you’re pregnant.

If you do develop melasma patches and they bother you, talk to your dermatologist. Kojic acid and soy are two ingredients that can lighten the patches and are considered safe to use during pregnancy, Shainhouse says, but there are other treatments that can be used after your pregnancy and when you’re done breastfeeding.

Related: Try Reviva’s Brown Spot Night Gel

Have A Razor Handy

When Laura P. was pregnant, she noticed something unusual with her body hair: “I suddenly had to shave my legs every day. I used to shave every two days.”

That’s not uncommon, Shainhouse says. “Pregnancy hormones can make hair darker and boost both its thickness and speed of growth,” she says. “This can occur not only in the pubic area, but on your legs, underarms, face, abdomen, and legs.” Laser hair removal isn’t FDA-approved during pregnancy, she says, so you’ll have to stick to shaving or waxing.

Up Your Moisturizer Game

Pregnant women often suffer from dry, itchy skin, which is why Murrmann recommends increasing your water intake during pregnancy. This can be due to either hormones or dehydration—pregnant women are drinking for two, after all. (According to the Mayo Clinic, women who are pregnant should aim to drink 10 cups of water a day.)

Since expectant moms are also at a risk for stretch marks, Murrmann recommends hopping on the cocoa butter train as early as possible. That, and gaining weight at a slow, steady pace, can help keep stretch marks at bay. Some marks may be unavoidable, but regularly spreading cocoa butter across your belly, hips, and thighs can help to minimize the stretches.

Related: 15 Parents Name The Products That Saved Them When Their Children Were Newborns