Moisturizing 101

I’m going to be honest here, I don’t like the winter! Along with not being able to show off cute dresses and shorts and skirts, crazily increased heating bills, and seemingly endless colds and nose-blowing for the sniffles, the winter months really take a toll on our skin. The raised heat in our houses and apartments, constantly blowing our noses, drinking more coffee and hot cocoa than water, and taking long, hot showers are all culprits of dull, dry skin. Luckily, there are quite a few things you can do to combat dryness.

First of all, and don’t hate me for this (!), try cutting your shower time to about 15 minutes of warm, not hot, water. Trust me, I know how good those scalding hot, half hour long showers feel- but is it worth the itchy, dry skin? Also, try using a body wash that features ‘moisturizing’ on the front. Some ingredients you’ll want to look for are: cocoa or shea butter and aloe vera. Avoid: Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Silicone, and castor oil.

Now, I’ve mentioned this before, but I can’t reiterate enough how much of a difference it makes. Within three minutes of getting out of the shower and patting (not rubbing!) dry, apply a thick body lotion. Time is really of the essence here, as after three or so minutes your pores start to close, so the lotion won’t penetrate as well. Another tip is to rub your lotion into each section of skin for about 15 seconds (for instance; left lower leg 15 seconds, left thigh 15 seconds, etc…) to help your skin better absorb it. Some ingredients to look for in your body lotion are pretty much the same as in your body wash, and the ingredients to watch out for are the same too. Not too hard to remember!

I’m sure you’ve heard this a million times over, but I would be lying to you if I said it wasn’t so important. PLEASE drink enough water every day! A good equation to figure out how much water you need for your personal body weight in a day is: your current weight divided by 2 equals the ounces of water you need. (Of course different lifestyles call for different amounts- for instance, athletes need more, while sedentary people can drink just about the equation’s worth) There are so many benefits of drinking enough water, it’s great for your health and it has countless beauty benefits, as well. Think of your skin this way. It’s your largest organ, at an average of 18 sq ft. To hydrate, replenish, and feed it, you need to drink water. Absolutely no beauty treatments, creams, or lotions are going to make your skin look as great as staying hydrated will.

A few additional tips:
-Try to keep the heat in your house or apartment down. Definitely don’t go above 75 degrees F!

-If you have super chapped areas of skin, such as your nose, cheeks, elbows, even lips, try adding some vitamin E oil to your regular lotion. It works wonders, and it’s also great for scar healing (read: acne scars begone!)

-Pure honey can work as an amazing mask for super dry facial skin that’s prone to breakouts. It will hydrate and replenish your skin leaving it bright and kissable without the fear of pimples.

-Remember to exfoliate, be it by dry brushing, a scrub, or a loofah! Exfoliation removes dead, dry skin cells on the top layer of your skin, exposing the fresh, bright skin underneath. Even with all the lotion in the world, you won’t see a difference unless you exfoliate on a regular basis.

Happy moisturizing, and stay warm! If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, feel free to write a comment and I’ll be sure to address you :)

Coffee Again? A DIY Recipe for an Amazing Coffee Body Scrub

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I’m really on a coffee-kick! Can you blame me? I honestly believe coffee is a wonder-substance all around (not to mention it smells and tastes divine!) Along with the benefits of coffee I mentioned in my earlier post, the caffeine in coffee is great for temporarily getting rid of cellulite. It works by eliminating the excess fluid in fat cells that shows up as cellulite. Amazing, right? So here’s an amazing scrub you can use in the shower that incorporates coffee, brown sugar, and olive oil (read: silky smooth, moisturized, cellulite-free skin!)

What You’ll Need:

-Olive oil
-1 cup ground coffee
-1/2 cup brown sugar

What To Do:

1. Mix the coffee and brown sugar in a medium-sized bowl, whisking together with a fork or whisk so that each ingredient is fully incorporated.
2. Add the olive oil a little bit at a time until the scrub reaches whatever consistency suits you best. (I like to have my scrub pasty, not too runny!)
3. After soaking in a warm (not hot!!) shower for a couple minutes, massage the scrub all over your body in small circles. Make sure to rub each area for about ten or fifteen seconds to really reap its full benefits.
4. Thoroughly rinse off the scrub.

A Few Tips:

*Only stay in the shower for about 15 minutes, as the water will start to leech moisture from your skin after that amount of time.
*When you get out of your tub, gently pat yourself dry, do not rub! Rubbing dry is another thing that will dry out your skin.
*I’ve mentioned this before, but just to reiterate, applying a body lotion within about 3 minutes of drying off is very important, as after 3 minutes your pores start to close up, allowing less moisture to penetrate the skin.
*Rub your lotion in for about 15 seconds on each area for your skin to really soak it up.
*Your tub might look a little messy after using the scrub, but don’t fret! It easily washes away an down the drain with a quick burst of water around the basin.

Happy scrubbing!

Java Mask for Oily Skin

We all love our coffee, (a dash of honey and soy milk, please!) but did you know that the delicious wake up drink holds many benefits for your face, too? It’s true! Coffee is great for:
-Exfoliation
-Increasing circulation (read: rosy, glowing skin)
-Keeping skin silky smooth
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This mask also incorporates egg whites, which are amazing for:
-Tightening the pores
-Healing damaged skin from acne
-Removing excess oil from the skin

Mixed together, coffee and egg whites produce an amazing mask you’ll want to use again and again! However, you’ll only want to use this mask about once a week, and only if you have oily skin, or it may dry out the skin on your face.

What You’ll Need:
-A washcloth
-Finely ground coffee
-1 egg

What to do:
1. Mix about 2 tbsps finely ground coffee with 1 egg white (just separate the white from the yolk by passing the yolk back and forth in the two sides of the broken shell with a small bowl underneath.)
2. As usual, wet your washcloth with warm water and lay in over your face for 2-5 minutes to open up your pores.
3. Spread the coffee/egg white mixture over your face, avoiding the eye-area. Leave this on for 10-15 minutes.
4. When you’re done, gently wash the mask off your face with lukewarm water, making sure it’s all off. Follow up with your favorite toner or green tea to really make sure.

And there you go, have fun!

Benefits of Tomato for Skin

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Tom-may-to, to-mah-to!

Whichever way YOU say it, try using it on your skin to…

-Clear away blackheads

-Fight Acne

-Get glowing skin

-Sooth sunburns

Phew! Yep, tomatoes can do all that. Thanks to a high concentration of vitamins A and C, and AHAs (alpha-hydroxy acids, a natural exfoliant) in this plump red vegetable, the skincare benefits are too numerous not to try it out! Read on for the easiest way to cleanse your skin using tomato.

What you’ll need:

-Washcloth

-Thin slice of tomato with the skin intact on one side (far less messy this way)

What to do:

1. Soak your washcloth in warm (not hot!) water, ring out the excess and apply it over your face, leaving it on for 2 to 5 minutes to open up your pores.

2. Pat your face dry, then take the tomato slice and simply rub it all over your face and neck, making sure to avoid the eye area. Try pushing lightly on any areas you may have blackheads, to really help the juice sink in. Leave this on for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on how sensitive your skin is.

3. After it has sit on your face, re-wet your washcloth with warm water and very gently rub off the tomato juice. Splash your face with water to make sure all the juice is really off. Though the acids in tomato is what’s good for your face, leaving it on for too long can be very irritating.

4. Moisturize, and you’re good to go!

As usual, please remember to test this out on your inner wrist before applying to your face, just in case you’re allergic or have a bad reaction.

Happy cleansing!

Powdered Milk and Honey Bath for Baby-Soft Skin

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With winter coming up, everyone’s skin needs a little pampering. When I suffer from really dry skin (you know, scaly legs, itchy arms, the whole nine yards) my favorite thing to do is take a bath with milk and honey. It’s sooo relaxing, and takes care of dry skin lickity split!
Milk has an ingredient called lactic acid in it- a natural exfoliant, and honey, along with being an amazing antiseptic, is also incredibly healing and moisturizing. For the softest skin of your life, read on!

You’ll Need:
-1/2 cup full-fat powdered milk, or 1 cup regular whole milk
-1/2 cup raw honey

While you fill your bath with warm water (not too hot! This can dry out the skin further), pour the milk and honey into the running water and mix it thoroughly. Soak and relax for fifteen to twenty minutes… and voila! Radiant, soft, and glowing skin!

Remember when you get out of the tub to gently pat your skin dry. Do not rub yourself dry, as this will leech moisture from your skin, negating all the wonderful benefits from your bath. You’ll be extra soft if you apply a thick body cream within three minutes of leaving the water. After about three minutes your pores start to close, making moisturizers less effective. For your skin to fully reap the benefits of your lotion, try rubbing it into each body part for about 15 seconds, then follow with a tiny amount of baby oil all over.

For extra-smooth skin, try this:
Take an old (but clean!) nylon sock (you can use stockings, too- just cut off a sock’s worth from the end) and fill it with oatmeal, tying it off at the end. Use it in your bath as a loofah for gentle exfoliation.

Enjoy!

Yoga for Insomnia

I have insomnia. Though I take medication for it, sometimes I just can’t fall asleep. I’ve tried a lot of things, from bubble baths to Sleepytime Tea, but nothing quite does it for me like a few simple yoga poses. After researching a lot of different yoga poses for sleeplessness and trying them out, I’ve come up with a routine that works really well for me.

I start out sitting cross legged, leaning against my pillow and do some simple neck stretches. I bring my head to one shoulder, then the opposite, then I do half circles several times. (Tipping your head all the way back actually compresses the very top of your spine, so don’t try that!)

Next I move into Viparita Karani, or Legs Up the Wall Pose. Lie on your back with your butt about 6 inches away from the wall (or closer if you’re more flexible) and slowly raise your legs up the wall.

You can stay in this pose for as long as feels comfortable. I like to stay in Viparita Karani for about 5 minutes.

After that, I slowly release the pose and move into Supta Baddha Konasana, or Bound Angle Pose. Ease your way into the pose by sitting up straight and touching the bottoms of your feet to each other in front of you, at whatever distance feels comfortable (you shouldn’t feel stress or pain in any muscles). Gently lye backwards so that you are reclining on your back with the bottoms of your feet touching, your legs forming a diamond in front of you.

Again, stay in this pose as long as feels comfortable. I usually stay in Supta Baddha Konasana for 5 to 10 minutes.

The last thing I do is stretch my legs out in front of me, transitioning into Shavasana, or Corpse Pose. Corpse Pose is just lying flat on your back with your legs relaxed and your arms at your side, palms up.

From here I do a short body scan. A body scan just means going through every part of your body, but by bit, and relaxing each section. For instance I’ll start with my feet, take a deep breath in through my nose while scrunching my toes and then flexing my feet, and then totally relax them. I continue to my calves, my thighs, etc.

After this practice you should feel more relaxed and ready for a restful night’s sleep!

Happy posing!

The Best Foods for Healthy, Glowing Skin.

Though it’s generally accepted that to get radiant skin we need to slather on the products, truly healthy skin comes from the inside, and depends greatly upon your diet. I try to eat these foods at least several times a week. Some I eat every day! The good news is they’re all delicious, and I’m going to share some tricks and ideas to help you fit them into your regular diet.

The Foods:
- Blueberries. They have been found to hold the highest activity of anti-aging antioxidants.
- Spinach. A nutritional powerhouse! The vitamins B, C, and E, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, and omega-3 fatty acids keeps your skin looking flawless.
- Walnuts. A high content of vitamin E and Omega-3 Fatty Acids in walnuts will keep your skin looking youthful and pretty. Collagen depletes (read: wrinkles) as we get older and exposed to UV rays and free-radicals. Omega-3s help prevent collagen breakdown.
- Kiwifruit. Chock-full of vitamin C, kiwis can do more than just help ease a cold. Vitamin C does wonders for the skin, including rejuvenating dry, damaged skin and fighting collagen breakdown.
- Dark Chocolate (70% cocoa or more). Okay, okay. We all love our Hershey’s milk chocolate, but think about this. Just 1-2 squares of dark chocolate a day gives you the amount of Flavanols (A naturally occurring plant substance) you need to fight free radicals and UV rays that can cause wrinkles and sun spots, and increase blood flow, resulting in rosy, dewy skin.
- Greek Yogurt. There’s more protein in one serving of greek yogurt than regular. The protein in dairy keeps skin plump and glowing.
- Sweet Potatoes. These are probably my favorite food! They are delicious, and pack a punch of beta-caratene, an anti-oxidant that combats dry skin and helps your skin look smoother and younger.
- Almonds. A healthy dose of Vitamin E in almonds helps protect against harmful UV rays from the inside-out. (Please don’t skimp on your sunscreen, though!)
- Carrots. Besides being great for clear, healthy eyes, carrots are full of vitamin A which helps clear up breakouts.
- Flaxseeds. If you want an amazing source of Omega-3s to keep your skin hydrated, youthful, and glowing- here it is! Flaxseeds are one of the best and easiest ways to eat your Omega-3′s, you can sprinkle in on pretty much anything.

How to Incorporate:

Here are some ideas to incorporate these foods into your diet!

1. For breakfast, try a single serving greek yogurt with sliced almonds or walnuts, blueberries, and cut up kiwi (you can even sprinkle a half teaspoon ground flaxseed in there, it’s really yummy!)
2. Another similar breakfast idea is oatmeal with walnuts, almonds, kiwi, and blueberries. The flaxseed tastes really good with this one! I like to cook the blueberries with the oatmeal to make them mushy, but if you prefer the pop of fresh blueberries, just add them after you’re done cooking.
3. Sweet potatoes are so easy to prepare and they’re so, so delicious! I prepare my daily sweet potato by cutting it in half and microwaving it for 7 minutes (five if your microwave is powerful). Then I put a tiny bit of Smart Balance Buttery Spread on each half, some honey, and cinnamon. It’s like dessert for lunch!
4. Another way to eat your sweet potatoes also incorporates carrots. In a rimmed baking sheet, toss 1/2 a cubed sweet potato and half a bag of baby carrots cut in half with grapeseed oil (or any other oil of your choice- safflower oil is actually amazing for your skin, too!) and a bit of salt and pepper to taste. Roast them in a 400 degree oven for 45 minutes to an hour, flipping them halfway through and adding a few tablespoons of maple syrup. Wait to cool slightly when done and voila! Scrumptious!
5. I have two favorite ways to eat spinach. One is creamed (just sauté the spinach with heavy cream), and the second is in a smoothie. Yes, veggies in a smoothie. The great thing about adding spinach to your smoothies is that though it makes it green, you literally cannot taste it. At all! So why not add it? My favorite recipe is; a cup of raspberries, a medium banana, half a cup of water, and three cups of baby spinach.
6. I have found the best way to get myself to the gym or yoga is to reward myself afterwards. As a double-whammy of health, I try to go for a square or two of dark chocolate.

And there you have it! Happy eating.

Autumn and walking

I love autumn. It’s my favorite time of year, hands down. It’s the perfect temperature, the leaves are beautiful, and who can forget apple cider and pumpkin pie? Big sweaters and tights? A good book and a mug of yummy tea?

A couple of days ago I visited my parents in Westchester. It was so great. Every morning I went on a half hour walk around town and marveled at the beautiful fallen leaves and the halloween decorations.

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I found that starting my day with a walk really helped me begin my day motivated, clear minded, and happy! Something about the crisp air and the sound of my boots crunching against the colorful leaves was so uplifting. If you’re ever in a rut or feeling down, it could be really helpful to just throw on a jacket and shoes and get out your door for a nice walk. Even just ten minutes with the sun shining on you and the breeze in your hair could really help!

Honey Lemon Face Mask

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Do you ever have those breakouts that just will NOT go away no matter what you try? Recently I had one of those. My skin was covered in acne, dull, and generally just looking awful. I tried every salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide cream I could get my hands on, and still nothing! So I decided to give this a try: a lemon and honey face mask.
Honey is actually a powerful antiseptic, and when applied directly to the skin its incredible for getting rid of the bacteria in zits. I had used just pure raw honey as a face mask before and it worked wonders, but this breakout was particularly bad so I thought I’d try mixing a bit of lemon in, too.
Lemon juice is chock-full of AHAs, alpha hydroxy acids. AHAs work as amazing natural exfoliants that brighten the skin wonderfully. They also reduce the appearance of acne and blackheads, fine lines, wrinkles, and acne scars.
After just one application of this mask I could swear my skin looked a little better! I applied it two days in a row and poof! Breakout gone. It’s my new miracle mask!
Here’s what I did:

You’ll need:
-Gentle cleansing wash
-Clean washcloth
-2 tbsp Raw Honey (regular honey works, too but I find raw honey works a bit better)
-1/2 a lemon or 1 tsp lemon juice

What to Do:
1. Wash your face with a gentle, non-exfoliating cleansing wash. I use Cetaphil, the stuff is amazing!
2. Run the tap until the water is quite warm (not hot!!) and soak the washcloth through. Put the damp washcloth on your face and leave it there for 2-5 minutes. This helps to open up the pores so that the mask can better do its job.
3. After two to five minutes, remove the washcloth, and when your face is still a bit damp rub the honey/lemon mixture all over your face, avoiding the eye area. You want a generous layer, but not so much that it drips into your eyes- ouch!
4. Leave the mask on for 10-15 minutes. If you have very sensitive skin, try just leaving the mask on for 5 minutes.
5. Wash the mask off using warm water, it comes right off. Finish with your favorite toner (I use green tea!) and moisturizer and you’re good to go!

*PLEASE remember, before you use any product (even all natural ones!) on your face, apply a small patch to your inner wrist to see if you are allergic to any of the ingredients.

Happy masking!