Father and daughter dancing on bed

Fun Family Exercise Routines

Obesity rates are a growing problem, especially among the new generations of children who prefer spending their days indoors behind a screen, rather than being active outside.

This is why exercising as a family is so important. It not only teaches your children the importance of staying physically fit, setting a good example for them, but it can also be such a fantastic bonding experience for the whole family.

Not sure where to start?

Here are some fun ways to exercise with your family that everyone will enjoy…

Get Dancing

Dancing is such a fantastic workout, and this is an easy one for getting the whole family involved.

All you need to do is put together a playlist of songs that your family love, turn up the volume and get moving! If you do this in the evening, adding in flashlights in lieu of strobe lights can make the activity even more special for young children.

You will likely find that this is an activity that your family could do for hours, enabling all of you to reap the many benefits of dancing, such as:

Walk the Dog

This may seem simple, but children tend to have such a fascination with animals.

An activity as basic as walking the dog will likely seem so much more exciting to kids than to you, making this a great way to get the whole family (as well as the dog) moving.

Family running with the dog

To keep things interesting, try to pick new routes and locations each day. Areas where your dog can run free and properly play and interact with the entire family would be a bonus.

Don’t have a dog?

Borrow a friend or neighbor’s dog instead. Even if you do have a dog, adding in an extra one can really change the dynamics of your walk.

There are also many apps out there that connect dog owners with people who enjoy walking them. This will give your family the chance to interact with many different pooches, although you would need to ensure that they are each child-friendly.

Commercial Break Workouts

Are there any television shows that the entire family watch together?

Well, since you already have everyone in the same room, this is a great opportunity to sneak some exercise in too.

How?

You will need to wait for the commercials to come on, but, as soon as they do, get everyone doing a certain exercise. From high jumps to planking to push-ups, this is a great way of ensuring that your children don’t end up too sedentary when watching TV.

You could also arrange for each family member to take turns being the “leader” of the workout for each commercial break. This will make things more interesting, as everyone will be able to have their say when it comes to exercises that they enjoy.

Jump Roping

Is jump roping something that your children do?

This simple activity actually brings with it a number of benefits, such as:

  • Improved motor coordination
  • Improved agility, speed, reflexes and balance
  • Provides cardio benefits
  • Helps with brain development and boosts creativity

Plus, the fact that jump roping is a low-impact activity means that it will not put any unnecessary pressure on the joints.

Family jumping rope in the park

There are plenty of jump roping games and rhymes to be found online, so equip yourself with some of these before introducing the activity to your family.

Grow Some Food

No matter what age you are, being able to grow something and then eat it gives you a huge thrill of satisfaction. The fact that you can also enjoy organic produce at a fraction of what you would have paid for it is an added bonus. 

This is something that your whole family can take part in, with each family member choosing a few of their favorite foods to grow.

Wondering where the exercise part comes in?

Gardening itself is actually a fantastic workout!

Did you know that gardening for an hour can burn as many calories as if you had jogged for four miles? 

Gardening requires your body to perform such a wide range of motions, from squatting and bending to lifting and digging, giving you the ultimate workout. It also triggers your brain to release feel-good endorphins, while teaching your children a sense of responsibility.

Wondering how to get started?

Have a family meeting to discuss the foods you want to grow. Then, go out and get some seeds or plants, and get growing!

Some easy foods to start off with include:

  • Peas
  • Carrots
  • Strawberries
  • Potatoes
  • Garlic
  • Different types of lettuces
  • Herbs

Don’t forget to teach your family how to properly warm up before gardening, especially if you have a few strenuous tasks ahead of you that day. Due to all of the muscles that are used when gardening, gardening-related injuries are actually more common than you would think!

Go for a Swim

Swimming is often referred to as the perfect exercise.

Why?

Because it provides you with all of the benefits of a full aerobic workout, but without putting any pressure on the joints. Swimming is an exercise that can be done by just about every member of the family, no matter their age. 

When it comes to deciding where to go for a family swim…

You can either opt for a local swimming pool or the sea, although this does depend on where you live. While the sea usually tends to be more fun, this can often be impractical in the colder months, so make sure that you have a few back-up options too. 

Can’t imagine your children getting on board with the idea of swimming laps?

Don’t worry, they don’t need to!

You can either just leave them to splash and play about in the water, which will bring them pretty similar health benefits, or you can get everyone involved in a family pool game.

Jumping or diving competitions are always fun, as is Starfish Tag. Younger children tend to love underwater mirror games, while balancing competitions on a floating mattress will get everybody’s muscles working.

Cycling Adventures

While it may be easy enough to cycle with your kids to school instead of driving them, or cycling to the shops on the weekends, this list is all about ways to make exercise fun.

The best way to do that when it comes to cycling is by turning the journey into a little adventure.

Family cycling outdoors

This means planning new routes and cycling through new areas, so that the views and scenery are different each time. Try to alternate between urban and rural areas, as this contrast will keep things interesting.

Planning your route so that there is something special and rewarding at the end of it will help to give your kids some extra motivation. Treating them to a hot chocolate at a cafe, or visiting a pond to feed some ducks, will help to make the activity even more special.

Turn Household Chores into a Workout

Ok, so the idea of turning household chores into a workout may not seem like much fun at first, but hear this out…

Just like with gardening, household chores require the body to perform such a wide range of motions, giving you a great workout.

The trick to getting the whole family involved is to make it fun, by adding in some music and a competitive edge.

The music needs to be energetic and fast-paced, and you should try to get each family member to contribute to the playlist, as everyone will have certain tunes that motivate them.

You need to make sure that you also time this chore workout well…

You don’t want to do it before a mealtime, when everyone is hungry and cranky. You also don’t want to do it after a meal, when everyone is full.

Wondering how to actually turn those boring chores into a competitive workout?

Here are a few ideas:

  • Wash the car within a certain length of time, competing to see whose side is the cleanest
  • See who can tidy away the most items in a certain amount of time, but make sure that everyone squats instead of bending down normally
  • Everyone takes a window or a wall to clean, competing to see who can do the best job the fastest
  • Play a guessing game with laundry items, before giving each family member their own items to fold
  • Get everyone making some bread, as the kneading process gives the arms a great workout
  • Use step trackers to see who takes the most steps when doing chores for 20 minutes. Many smartphones already have a step tracker in them, saving you from having to purchase dedicated trackers for each family member

Try Different Sports

Sports games can be so much fun, to the point where you often forget how long you have actually been exercising for.

Learning a new sport can be even more exciting, and there are so many different sports out there that you and your family could try.

In addition to providing some good ol’ fashioned fun, regularly playing family sports games will result in the following:

  • Better learning skills, and therefore better academic results
  • Improved problem-solving and teamwork skills
  • Gives the body a workout, keeping it healthy
  • Improved self-esteem and confidence
  • Reduced stress

So, which sports should you try playing with your family?

Well, that depends…

If there is already a sport that every member of your family enjoys playing, you could try to improve your skills in this. Sign your family up for a class, or enter yourselves into a local tournament.

On the other hand, if your family isn’t naturally inclined to sports…

Keeping things varied will help to make the activities more fun.

Try having each family member pick a sport that they would want to try, and then you could alternate which one you do each week.

A few ideas would be:

  • Cricket
  • Boxing
  • Baseball
  • Basketball
  • Soccer
  • Frisbee
  • Table tennis

Father and child playing basketball

Even something like bowling would still ensure that your family are on their feet for a few hours.

You could make things more interesting by having rewards for the winning team or “punishments” for the losing team. For example, the losing team would need to cook the family meal that night, or the winning team would be able to decide what to watch on TV for that week. This will give everyone the motivation to put their all into the activity.

Make Some Exercise Cards

Have you heard of exercise cards before?

They’re an increasingly popular way to plan a workout.

Each card in the deck would feature a specific workout, whether this may be a bodyweight exercise, a stretch, or anything else.

Exercise cards are available pre-printed, but since this is an activity that you are basing around your family, you may find it more useful to create your own deck of cards.

Why?

Because this way you can incorporate exercise that fit your family’s specific skills and requirements. You can add in plenty of fun games, such as the jump roping mentioned above, to keep your kids interested.

Once you have your deck of exercise cards together, set aside some time for your family workout. Then, get everyone in the family to pick one or two cards from the deck, before combining these all together to create your unique routine.

You can keep things interesting by alternating the location of your workouts. While there is nothing wrong with doing these at home or in your backyard, taking your deck to a local park or hiking trail will instantly make the workout seem so much more exciting.

Exercising is something that every family should be doing together, but it can definitely be tricky to find activities that the whole family can enjoy. Each of these activities will provide your family with a fantastic workout, while keeping them motivated and engaged at the same time.

Woman touching face in front of mirror

Jojoba Oil is Biocompatible with the Skin

There are only a handful of ingredients out there that are genuinely suitable for all skin types, and jojoba oil is one of these.

What makes this ingredient so great?

The fact that jojoba oil is biocompatible with the skin, meaning that the skin readily accepts it and puts it to good use.

What is Jojoba Oil? 

Jojoba oil

Jojoba oil is extracted from the seed of the jojoba plant – a shrub that is native to certain parts of southern USA and Mexico. Around 50% of the seed contains the oil, which looks like a thick golden liquid when it is pure, with a subtle nutty scent to it.

Although this liquid is referred to as an oil, it is technically a wax, making it even softer than a normal oil.

Unlike many of the other oils out there, from almond to safflower to squalene, jojoba oil is quite stable when it comes to resisting oxidation, making this a fantastic oil to incorporate into skin care products when you need them to have a longer shelf life.

Wondering what else the oil is used for?

Since the jojoba plant itself is quite slow and difficult to grow, jojoba oil is only really used for small-scale purposes.

Historically, it has been used by Native Americans to treat skin wounds and other similar conditions, and is now also currently being explored as an alternative sustainable fuel source.

The Biocompatibility of Jojoba Oil

So, what exactly does it mean when an ingredient is said to be biocompatible with the skin?

It basically means that the molecular structure of jojoba oil, along with the natural fats within it, are extremely similar to the oil that the skin naturally produces.

This means that, when jojoba oil is applied to the skin, the skin is tricked into thinking that this oil is actually its own sebum. This results in the skin absorbing much more of it, and at a much faster rate, than other ingredients.  

Jojoba is the only plant out there that creates an oil that is so similar to the skin’s natural sebum, making this ingredient rather special.

If you have oily skin, you are probably thinking…

Why would I want to be putting even more oil on my skin?

The idea of applying oil to oily skin may seem counter-intuitive at first, but hold on….

When you apply the oil and trick your skin into thinking that the oil is its own sebum, this then causes the skin to cut back on the amount of actual sebum that it is producing.

Intrigued?

Keep reading…

A Fantastic Anti-Acne Ingredient

Oily skin is also usually prone to breakouts. This is due to the excess oil settling in within the pores and mixing together with dead skin cells, dirt and other impurities. This then forms a clog, blocking up the entrance to the pores and resulting in inflammation, which manifests as a breakout.

Well, as mentioned above, jojoba oil quickly helps to rebalance the amount of sebum that your skin produces, leaving your skin significantly less oily.

Worried that the jojoba oil itself will clog your pores up?

Jojoba oil is noncomedogenic, meaning that it is unlikely to lead to clogged pores on its own.

There are a few other ways in which jojoba oil can help to treat and prevent acne too:

  • Antibacterial – the oil’s antibacterial qualities mean that it is able to destroy the acne-causing bacteria on the surface of the skin, preventing it from triggering a breakout. Don’t worry, research has shown that jojoba oil leaves all of the good bacteria alone, targeting just the bad ones instead
  • Anti-inflammatory – jojoba oil contains anti-inflammatory properties that help to soothe irritated skin. Since acne is largely caused by inflammation, this goes a long way in preventing breakouts
  • Cleansing – many people don’t realize that jojoba oil boasts cleansing properties too. It is able to dissolve away any sebum that has been deposited within the pores, clearing the pores out and preventing blockages. This is all down to the fact that it can penetrate so deeply into the skin’s layers, thanks to its biocompatibility

How do you cleanse with jojoba oil?

Good question! Lots of skin and body products are infused with jojoba oil to enhance the cleansing properties, so all that sebum and clogged pores can be effectively and gently removed.

Are soaps infused with jojoba oil effective?

Handmade soaps

These are soaps used for the skin on the body, and can be highly effective as an anti-acne measure, especially if you struggle with body acne. Resveralife recommends the Coco N’ Oats Soap and the Hemp Soap if you are looking for a swift, effective cleanse.

An Effective Sunscreen

Moisturizers are designed to support the skin’s protective barrier, enabling it to do its job better.

What does the skin’s barrier actually do?

It has two main responsibilities:

  • Keeping moisture in the skin by preventing it from evaporating
  • Blocking dirt, impurities and more from entering into the skin

Infographic on skin barrier function

Wondering why you need a moisturizer if your skin already does that on its own?

Because your skin’s outer protective layer is quite fragile and susceptible to damage. There are so many different factors out there that cause harm to this layer, from sun exposure and wind to pollution and certain cosmetic ingredients.

This then means that this protective barrier will not function as well as it should, resulting in everything from dryness to breakouts to other blemishes.

How does jojoba oil help with all of this?

Due to the fact that it is a waxy oil, jojoba oil forms its own protective layer over the surface of the skin. This enables it to perform both of the roles mentioned above, therefore effectively moisturizing the skin.

Helps to Treat Inflammatory Skin Conditions

The way in which jojoba oil can help to treat acne has already discussed, but there are other inflammatory skin conditions that this oil can be used for too…

Eczema and psoriasis are perfect examples of this.

Both of these skin conditions produce dry, itchy and sensitive areas on the skin, with those patches being highly susceptible to infections.

How does jojoba oil help?

Well, the way in which it forms a protective moisturizing layer over the surface of the skin helps with both the dryness as well as with preventing infections.

The oil also boasts antibacterial and antifungal properties. This means that the oil destroys any harmful bacteria and fungus it comes across, keeping infections at bay.

The oil’s anti-inflammatory properties help to soothe irritated skin, reducing inflammation enough for the skin to start healing.

Those who suffer from eczema and psoriasis also commonly deal with open skin wounds.

Again, jojoba oil can help with this too…

It is highly effective at speeding up wound healing. Research shows that, when the oil is applied to a wound, the skin cells in that area bind together so much more effectively, enabling them to heal faster and better. 

A Powerful Anti-Aging Ingredient 

Looking for a new ingredient to add to your anti-aging arsenal?

Jojoba oil may be just the thing…

A powerful anti-aging ingredient needs to be a good source of antioxidants.

Why?

Because each and every day, free radicals are created in the body. These are unstable molecules that are formed due to everything from exposure to the sun or pollution to exposure to certain chemicals or cosmetic ingredients.

What do these free radicals do?

They attack the cells and tissues that surround them, causing serious cumulative damage that then ends up permanently harming the DNA within your cells. Free radicals are responsible for everything from accelerated wrinkles to dark spots and hyperpigmentation.

Wondering how you can stop free radicals from causing all of this damage?

With the use of antioxidants!

Antioxidants are pretty much the only thing that can neutralize free radicals. They turn them back into healthy molecules, where they can then function to support the skin, rather than attack it.

Jojoba oil contains quite a few different antioxidants, and in addition to neutralizing the free radicals in the body, they bring with them several other benefits too: 

  • Vitamin A – a powerful antioxidant that also stimulates skin cell turnover and provides the skin with a mild exfoliating effect. Vitamin A is one of the best anti-aging vitamins out there
  • Vitamin E – known for its healing properties, vitamin E is extremely effective at keeping the skin moisturized
  • Phenolic Compounds – protects the collagen and elastin in the skin, preventing them from being broken down

Speaking of collagen and elastin…

These two proteins are so important when it comes to the health and appearance of your skin. They are key components of your skin’s structure, giving your skin its firmness, smoothness and elasticity.

Both collagen and elastin are naturally produced by the skin, with the skin creating an abundance of this when it is young. However, as you progress through life, the amount of collagen and elastin that the skin produces decreases quite significantly. This is why fine lines, wrinkles and sagging skin are such common symptoms of aging.

Infographic on collagen in the skin

Free radicals damage the collagen and elastin in the skin, so by making use of the antioxidants within jojoba oil, you are already taking steps when it comes to protecting these vital proteins.

However, jojoba oil can help with your collagen and elastin in other ways too…

Thanks to its many powerful antioxidants, jojoba oil is able to stimulate the skin’s production of collagen and elastin, speeding this back up. This is one of the most effective ways to tackle the visible signs of aging, as there aren’t really any topical ingredients out there that can match the effects that your skin’s own collagen and elastin have.

Using Jojoba Oil on Your Skin

Convinced that your skin would be able to benefit from the powers of jojoba oil?

You have a few different options when it comes to using this ingredient…

The easiest way is by purchasing skin care products that already contain jojoba oil in their formulas.

Fortunately, there are several of these to choose from, ranging from serums to moisturizers to oils. All of these are quite effective, so long as they contain a high quality source of jojoba oil.

Using essential oil for body massage

How do you know if the jojoba oil in a product is high quality?

Ideally, it should be cold-pressed. This means that it has been extracted with minimal use of heat, which then preserves all of the skin-boosting compounds within the oil. An organic oil would be even more beneficial, as this ensures that the oil contains the minimum amount of toxins.

Wondering if jojoba oil can be used pure on the skin?

Unlike many of the natural essential oils out there that cannot be used on the skin, it is safe for pure jojoba oil to be applied to the skin.

The oil can also be used as a carrier oil for other essential oils, meaning that you can dilute other pure oils with jojoba oil to create your own unique formula.

Does Jojoba Oil Have Any Side Effects? 

Jojoba oil is a hypoallergenic ingredient, meaning that it is safe to be used topically by all skin types, with little chance of it causing a negative reaction. It is even safe to be used around the eyes, which is why this ingredient is so popular when it comes to oil-based eye makeup removers.

Of course, there are always exceptions, and the possible side effects you might experience from using jojoba oil on your skin are:

  • Itching
  • Redness
  • Hives

Fortunately, these side effects are very rare, with most people able to use the ingredient without any problems at all.

However, if your skin is particularly sensitive with new ingredients, you would be best off performing a patch test first before using jojoba oil on your skin.

What is a patch test?

It simply requires you to apply a small amount of the product onto your inner arm, before waiting for 24 to 48 hours. If, after this time, there is no sign of any irritations or reactions, then that means that you are safe to continue using the product.

Jojoba oil really is such a universal ingredient, which sets it apart from many of the other ingredients that are commonly used in skin care. No matter your skin type or the skin concerns you may be dealing with, it is likely that jojoba oil would be able to benefit your skin in some way, making this an ingredient worth incorporating into your daily skin care routine.

Woman feels sick while eating lunch

What’s the Difference Between Wheat and Gluten Intolerance?

Gluten-free and wheat-free diets have become increasingly popular lately, and it is estimated that around 15% of the population is actually intolerant to gluten.

Why have these dietary requirements become so prevalent all of a sudden?

For a number of reasons, such as:

  • Better awareness and diagnostics mean that doctors are recognizing these dietary requirements more
  • Modern varieties of wheat are completely different from the varieties that our ancestors used to grow
  • People are now consuming more and more wheat-based products, many of which haven’t been prepared in a healthy way

So, is a gluten-intolerance and a wheat-intolerance the same thing?

Definitely not. Although the two terms are often used interchangeably, there are some big differences between the two…

What Exactly Are Gluten and Wheat?

Let’s begin by going back to basics and taking a closer look at what gluten and wheat actually are…

Wheat is a cereal grain that is milled into a flour and then used to make a variety of different foods, such as:

  • Bread
  • Pasta
  • Noodles
  • Cakes
  • Snack foods
  • Sauces

Gluten is a composite protein within the wheat, but can also be found in barley and rye.

Therefore, while all foods that contain wheat also contain gluten, gluten can come from sources other than wheat too.

Infographic on the content of gluten in different foods

What is a Wheat Intolerance?

A wheat intolerance, which is also referred to as a wheat sensitivity, refers to the body creating an inflammatory response when it comes across the proteins (including gluten) contained in wheat.

Symptoms don’t necessarily manifest immediately after the wheat has been eaten…

It can sometimes take up to 72 hours for symptoms to arise, and this can be diagnosing a wheat intolerance slightly tricky.

Wondering what the symptoms of a wheat intolerance are?

They vary between individuals, but often include:

  • Digestive problems – such as bloating, stomach pains or IBS
  • Skin problems – such as acne, eczema and rashes 
  • Neurological problems – such as migraines and headaches
  • Fatigue – a noticeable lethargy and lack of energy
  • Psychological problems – such as depression and anxiety

Is Wheat Intolerance the Same As Wheat Allergy?

A wheat intolerance is an inflammatory response, while a wheat allergy is a real allergy.

If you have a wheat allergy, you will likely experience the symptoms of this either immediately after consuming wheat, or just a few hours after.

Symptoms include:

  • Skin irritations
  • A blocked nose
  • Watering eyes
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Anaphylactic shock

As you can see, the symptoms range from quite mild to life-threatening

Fortunately, true wheat allergies are extremely rare. They are most commonly found in children, but most kids grow out of this once they reach the age of five. In some cases, the allergy does continue on into adulthood.

Wondering if wheat allergies are triggered by the gluten within wheat?

They can be, but there are around 30 other potential allergens within wheat too. This means that a wheat allergy could be caused by any of these.

What is Gluten Intolerance?

Many people think that a gluten intolerance is the same as an allergy, but this isn’t the case…

While a gluten intolerance is a physical condition, it takes place in the gut.

What causes it?

Sometimes gluten isn’t digested properly, meaning that undigested proteins enter into the intestines.

This triggers your body into treating them just like a foreign invader. This results in an irritated gut lining, as well as flattened microvilli.

What are microvilli?

They are compounds that increase the surface area of each cell, enabling them to better absorb nutrients. When these end up flattened against the wall of your intestines, your body becomes unable to properly absorb the nutrients within the food that you eat.

Symptoms of a gluten intolerance include:

A gluten intolerance is often referred to as a non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS).

What About Gluten Allergies?

Have you heard people mention gluten allergies before?

Well, let’s get one thing straight…

There’s no such thing as a gluten allergy. It is definitely not an official medical condition.

Instead, people sometimes use the phrase gluten allergy to refer to a gluten intolerance, or even to Celiac disease.

Where Does Celiac Disease Come Into All of This?

Just like a wheat allergy, Celiac disease is an official medical condition.

What exactly is it?

It is an autoimmune disorder that arises when a person who suffers from the condition eats wheat. Their body basically creates an immune response that causes it to attack its small intestines, which then damage the microvilli that line the gut.

As you know, the microvilli are essential for the body to properly absorb nutrients, meaning that those with undiagnosed Celiac disease could potentially suffer from some serious health problems in the long run.

Infographic on celiac disease

Wondering how common Celiac disease is?

It is believed that Celiac disease affects about one in every one hundred people worldwide. However, one in eight of these people do not realize that they have it, or have not been officially diagnosed, which would be extremely problematic for them in the future.

What causes Celiac disease?

It’s hereditary, meaning that it would be in your genes and there’s not really much you can do about that.

Is there a cure?

Unfortunately not, at least not yet.

The main treatment for the disease is a gluten-free diet, which will be discussed more further down.

Diagnosing Wheat and Gluten Intolerances

As you can see, the differences between all of the intolerances and allergies mentioned above can be a little confusing.

Think you may be suffering from one?

The best way to find out for sure is by seeing your doctor, so that proper diagnostic tests can be run.

Wondering how these conditions are actually tested for?

It depends on your systems, but it usually goes as follows:

  • Diagnosing Celiac disease – this is usually the first step when dealing with any of the symptoms mentioned earlier. This involves a blood screening, as well as a biopsy of the small intestine. Your doctor will also likely want to see whether your symptoms reduce or disappear if you follow a gluten-free diet for a while
  • Diagnosing a wheat allergy – this is carried out in the same way that other food allergies are diagnosed, with a skin prick test or RAST. You may also need to undergo blind pacebo tests that make use of wheat
  • Diagnosing a gluten intolerance/ NCGS – Celiac disease and a wheat allergy, along with other disorders that could be causing your symptoms, would first be ruled out. You would then likely need to try following a gluten-free diet for a while to see if this helps. If it does, then this may be enough to diagnose you with a gluten intolerance 

All three of these conditions are medically recognized. However, there isn’t a cure, meaning that this is where gluten-free and wheat-free diets come in…

Gluten-Free and Wheat-Free Diets

With the only way to treat the above conditions being a specialized diet, and with all of the above conditions on the rise, it comes as no surprise that both gluten-free and wheat-free diets have become so prevalent.

A wheat-free diet does not contain any wheat, but can still contain rye and barley.

On the other hand, a gluten-free diet does not contain wheat, rye, barley, or anything else that contains gluten.

Does that mean that a person who requires a wheat-free diet could safely eat a gluten-free diet?

Not necessarily…

As mentioned earlier, there are around 30 potential allergens that have been identified in wheat, and gluten is only one of these. All of those other wheat-based compounds could still be used to create certain gluten-free foods, so long as the gluten itself is not used.

It works the other way too – a person requiring a gluten-free diet wouldn’t be safe eating a wheat-free diet. Those diets may still contain rye and barley, or even just the gluten from them, and this would trigger a reaction.

Don’t suffer from a wheat or gluten intolerance or allergy, but want to know whether you can still eat a gluten-free or wheat-free diet?

With these diets becoming quite trendy, so many people believe that they are the healthy way to go. They end up following a gluten-free diet, even though they don’t necessarily need to.

Although this isn’t necessarily dangerous, there are a few reasons as to why you may want to think twice about this:

  • Whole wheat is a great source of dietary fiber, and the average American is already deficient in fiber. Yes, it’s possible to get this fiber from other sources, but you would need to put more effort into this
  • Many bread and cereal products are fortified with important vitamins that are difficult to get elsewhere, such as the B vitamins. However, gluten-free and wheat-free products don’t tend to be fortified with these, meaning that you may need to turn to a dietary supplement
  • Truly being gluten-free can be extremely difficult. Gluten is found in so many foods, from flavorings to vitamins to soy sauce, and even in toothpaste and certain medications. You may have to make quite a few lifestyle choices to go down this route
  • Even though these diets are not necessarily any better for you, they will still likely end up costing quite a bit more than your regular diet

If you are just trying to eat in a healthier way, there are plenty of other ways in which you could do this so much better than following a gluten-free or wheat-free diet. 

Ancient Wheat Varieties

Fresh loaf of bread on chopping board

Many experts believe that wheat itself isn’t the problem when it comes to the health conditions mentioned above.

Wheat has been feeding humans for more than 10,000 years, so something must have changed!

Well, there could be some logic behind this thinking…

The wheat varieties grown today are so different from the varieties of wheat that our ancestors used to grow. Ancient wheat is genetically different and has less chromosomes, and this makes it easier for the human body to digest. Ancient varieties have also been found to cause a lower immune reaction than today’s wheat.

While those with Celiac disease would still need to avoid these ancient wheat varieties, those with a gluten intolerance may potentially be able to slowly introduce these varieties into their diet.

Even if you don’t suffer from a gluten or wheat intolerance, ancient wheat varieties could still benefit you, as they have been proven to be far more nutritious. They contain higher levels of minerals, including selenium, zinc and copper, than modern wheat, making it no surprise that so many people now suffer from deficiencies in those minerals. 

Why have the wheat varieties grown by humans changed so much over the years?

It happened quite recently, in the 60’s, with today’s wheat mostly being a form of dwarf wheat. This wheat is basically a cash crop when it comes to the high yields they provide, and this is something that ancient wheat has a hard time competing with.

Can’t find any breads available that have been made from ancient grains?

You can always buy the grains yourself, and then make your own bread.

Key grains to keep an eye out for include:

  • Einkorn – one of the oldest of wheat varieties with the simplest genetic structure
  • Emmer – also known as farro, emmer can be harder to find
  • Spelt – can also sometimes be referred to as farro, and is quite similar to wheat in terms of flavor and gluten content
  • Kamut – originated in Egypt, kamut is quite low in gluten, and has a beautiful buttery flavor 

With gluten and wheat intolerances becoming so much more common, it is always useful to understand the differences between these conditions. If you think you may be suffering from any of their symptoms, it would definitely be worthwhile to pay a visit to your doctor so that you can be properly diagnosed.

Focused woman writing in journal, on sofa at home

How Journalling Improves Your Mental Health

While many people keep a diary in their teenage years, this is a habit that so many tend to lose as they progress into adulthood. Although this may be a habit that you have never thought twice about since, journalling can really make a huge difference to your mental health. 

What is Journalling?

Journalling has been going on since ancient times, with the first known journals dating back to Japan in the 10th century. 

To put it simply…

Journalling is the practice of recording your thoughts, emotions and reactions to different events and situations. It differs slightly to keeping a diary, in the sense that a diary is more of a record of daily occurrences, whereas a journal is more about reflecting on life in order to gain some clarity. 

The advantages of journalling have been recognized by many famous faces over the years, with everyone from Oscar Wilde to US presidents choosing to keep a journal. 

In the past couple of years, social media has brought journalling back into the spotlight. Everything from bullet journals and gratitude journals to digital journals and journalling apps (all of which will be discussed in more detail further on) are becoming more popular, but why exactly is this? 

The Mental Health Benefits of Journalling

When you take a look at all of the many mental health benefits that journalling can bring, it is easy to see why this practice is now becoming increasingly popular. 

Reduces Stress and Anxiety

Stress and anxiety are two mental health conditions that can really take their toll on a person’s overall health. 

Chronic stress, along with the anxiety that this causes, can lead to: 

  • High blood sugar and blood pressure 
  • Increased risk of diabetes and heart attacks 
  • Depression 
  • A weak immune system 
  • Sleep deprivation 
  • Digestive issues 
  • Fertility problems

People are constantly looking for ways in which they can manage their stress and anxiety levels, and journalling is a great place to start. 

How does journalling help with stress and anxiety?

Well, research has found that journalling enables people to release their worries and anxieties from their mind, rather than suppressing them or dwelling on them.

Not only does this reduce stress and anxiety, but it also frees up the mind and allows it to properly focus on the task at hand. 

Contemplative woman writing in a journal

This works for dealing with your thoughts and feelings about stressful events that have happened in the past, as well as for stressful situations that are coming up in the future. 

It is also a great way to help you to avoid particular stress triggers in the future. 

How? 

By writing them down, you will be able to better identify exactly what it is that is causing your stress, meaning that you can then take steps in the future to avoid those triggers. 

Reduces the Symptoms of Depression

Around 15% of the adult population will experience depression at some point in their lives, making this a very prevalent illness that needs to be dealt with as early on as possible. 

Wondering how journalling helps a person to deal with depression? 

In a number of ways, such as: 

  • Perspective and control – getting your thoughts on to paper is a great way to look at a situation from a different perspective. It is also quite empowering, and due to the way in which it will make your problems seem more manageable, you will then feel as though you have a better sense of control over your life 
  • Increases awareness – you may not realize at first what it is that is making you feel depressed, but journalling can help you to identify this, bringing subconscious thoughts and feelings to the surface. This then makes it easier to deal with your triggers 
  • Tracking depression triggers – if you take note of your symptoms each and every day in your journal, it won’t be long before you begin to notice a pattern in the triggers that exacerbate your depression symptoms. This then makes it easier to avoid them in the future and keep your symptoms at a low 
  • Gratitude – regularly reminding yourself of the things you are grateful for you in your life can help to keep depressive symptoms at bay

There have been a number of studies carried out on the connection between journalling and depression. 

What did they discover? 

That those who were suffering from depressive disorders experienced a significant decline in their symptoms after journalling for just a few days, with these effects continuing on for the four weeks in which the participants were required to keep a journal.

Improves Memory

As mentioned above, journalling is such an effective way to reduce stress and clear your mind of all of the negative thoughts and emotions that are running through it. 

How is this linked to your memory?

Because freeing your mind of all of that negative clutter enables your working memory to function much better. It means that your brain does not have to use its cognitive energy focusing on stress or worries, and can instead use this to create memories. 

The fact that writing your experiences down on paper also helps to improve the way in which your memory retention works is an added bonus! 

Combats Sleep Deprivation

The quality of your sleep and the state of your mental health are so closely related. 

Sleep deprivation not only has a negative effect on your mental health, but mental health issues can also lead to sleep deprivation, resulting in quite the vicious cycle.

How does journalling help with this? 

Research shows that those who spend just five minutes before bed journalling are able to relax and fall asleep much faster than those who do not.

Happy woman smiling and sleeping in bed

Think this sounds like an easy way to tackle your sleep deprivation? 

There’s one thing that you need to know if you want to use journalling to help with this…

Rather than journalling about what went on during the day, the improvements in your sleep patterns will only really come about if you journal about tasks that you still need to accomplish. In other words, writing a to-do list for the next day will bring about better results than writing about tasks you have already completed. 

Why? 

Because all of your to-do tasks are the ones that will keep your brain active in the evenings. Writing these down, and therefore offloading them, will then put your mind at ease, enabling your brain and body to fall asleep so much easier. 

The Different Methods of Journalling

Ready to give journalling a try? 

As mentioned earlier, there are now so many different ways in which you can do this, whether you prefer to go old school with pen and paper, or opt for something more high-tech and digital. 

It goes without saying that a blank notebook and a pen is all you really need to start journalling. 

However, if you need some extra help getting started, then you may want to look into some of the other journal types out there that provide all of the inspiration you need to really get your thoughts on paper. 

There are many journals out there that already contain journalling prompts, and these can sometimes make it easier to get started in terms of actually writing something down. 

Want something more high tech than pen and paper? 

There are several digital journalling tools and apps out there to choose from. 

Here are a few of the most popular: 

  • Ohlife – this free service will send you an email each day, asking how your day went. All you need to do is hit the reply button and type out a reply, which can be as short or long as you want. Send your email and then log on to your account to see all of your past replies 
  • Grid Diary – this program will send you eight question prompts a day, laying out your answers in an easy-to-view grid-like format 
  • Five Minute Journal – this app will send you timed prompts, asking you to list different things, whether this may be three things that you are appreciative of or five things that happened that day. This app was developed around psychology research, and is a great one for reflection 
  • Day One – offers a wide variety of features, from being able to add metadata and music information to the way in which you can customize it to send multiple prompts at certain times of each day 
  • Momento – Momento not only gives you the opportunity to jot down your thoughts and memories, but it also draws together all of the information you have posted each day on each of your social networks

What Should You Write About?

If you go for a journal or app that offers up writing prompts each day, then this makes it easy to know exactly what you should be writing about. 

However, going with just a blank notebook and a pen, or even a blank page on your computer, can sometimes leave you with writer’s block. 

So, how do you decide what to actually write about? 

Well, as mentioned earlier, if you want to use journalling as a way to help improve your sleep, then try to jot down a quick to-do list of your upcoming tasks the next day. 

However, in order to gain all of the other mental health benefits mentioned above, you need to delve a little deeper when journalling…

Here are some ideas of what to write about: 

  • Your accomplishments, no matter how small these may seem 
  • Five things that you are grateful for 
  • A recollection of the events that occurred that day 
  • Reflections, meaning sentences that begin with “I want”, “I think” and “I feel”
  • How things are going at work and in your personal life 
  • A bucket list 

Don’t worry about your spelling, grammar or punctuation when journalling. You need to be able to write freely from your mind, without having to worry about any of those things. 

If you don’t really enjoy writing, a bullet journal may be a better option for you. 

What is a bullet journal? 

If you do an online search for this, you are likely to feel a little overwhelmed. So, to put it simply, a bullet journal is basically just like a normal journal, except that you write things down in bullet points and lists rather than sentences and paragraphs.

This is referred to as rapid logging, and you would make use of different symbols to categorize your notes. 

Writing in a journal

It may seem complicated, but this method of journalling can actually be extremely helpful when it comes to improving your mental health. 

Making Journalling a Habit

Many people make the decision to start journalling, and go out and buy themselves an inspiring new notebook or journal, as well as some new pens, to get them started. 

While it may go well for the first day or so, turning journalling into an actual habit can be tricky. 

One of the best ways to do this is by keeping your journal near your bed. Set aside just five minutes each night before you go to bed for journalling. Doing this first thing in the morning can also be a great way to start your day. 

Alternatively, if you would like to let loose and freely write for longer, set aside 20 minutes of journalling time three times a week. If you consciously set days and times for journalling, this will make it much easier to incorporate the habit into your existing lifestyle. 

Keep doing this for a while and it won’t be long before journalling becomes a natural habit! 

As you can see, not only can journalling be so useful when it comes to improving your mental health, but it is also such a fun and creative practice to make use of. Even if you think that journalling may not be for you, give it a try for a week or two, as you will likely witness its benefits for yourself by then.  

Makeup artist applying blush on beautiful woman's cheek

Is Your Makeup Affecting Your Skin?

Do you wear makeup on a regular basis? 

If so, have you ever stopped to think about the effect that your makeup could be having on your skin? 

While makeup in general, when used correctly, does not really cause any severe skin issues, it can still affect your skin in a number of ways, and this is something well worth knowing more about. 

Allergic Reactions

One of the most common problems that people have with makeup products is that they can often lead to allergic reactions. 

When it comes to these reactions caused by makeup, they can usually be categorized into one of the following: 

  • Irritant Contact Dermatitis – this is when you experience an itching or burning sensation, and tends to only affect the outer layer of the skin 
  • Allergic Contact Dermatitis – this is a deeper and “truer” allergic reaction, resulting in the allergens triggering an immune response from deep within your skin. This usually shows up as swelling, itching, or even as blisters 

Think you’re safe because you haven’t yet experienced an allergic reaction to any of the makeup products you use? 

Think again…

Both forms of contact dermatitis can arise after years of using the same product. The reactions can be caused by repeated exposure, so you can never be certain that you will not experience a form of contact dermatitis from your makeup.

What should you do if you ever experience an allergic reaction from your makeup? 

Immediately stop using the product, and look for a cream or treatment that contains plenty of anti-inflammatory ingredients. A cool compress held against the affected area can also help, but, if your reaction is quite severe, you may need to visit a doctor for some medication. 

You are probably wondering…

Is there any way to prevent these allergic reactions from occurring in the first place? 

Unfortunately, there are so many common allergens often used in makeup products, and this makes prevention quite challenging. 

However, avoiding as many of those allergens as you can can definitely make a difference, especially for those who are prone to allergic reactions. 

Toxic Ingredients

As mentioned above, many makeup products contain allergens and other toxic ingredients that are definitely no good for your skin. Not only can they lead to poor skin health, but they can also have more serious repercussions for your overall health too. 

The list of these ingredients can seem almost endless, but here are a few of the most common ones to avoid: 

  • Parabens – this group of preservatives has earned itself quite a bad rep lately, and for good reason too. Parabens interfere with the way in which your natural hormones function, affecting everything from reproduction to the immune system to the growth of cancer cells 
  • Butylated Compounds – often referred to as BHT or BHA, these ingredients are preservatives that are found in a wide range of makeup products. Not only do they cause skin allergies, but they also mimic estrogen in the body, disrupting hormonal functions while promoting the growth of cancerous tumors 
  • Lead – the use of lead in many different products, such as paint, has been banned, due to the fact that it has been proven to be a harmful neurotoxin. However, many makeup color additives have been contaminated with lead, which can cause havoc to your skin and health. Try using products that have been produced in small batches, and make use of natural color pigments, instead, as this helps to minimize the chance of coming across lead contamination 
  • Fragrance – since cosmetic brands claim that their fragrance formulas are trade secrets, they are not required to disclose the ingredients used to create each fragrance. This means that there are usually hundreds of different chemicals hidden under this label, and these are some of the most common causes of skin reactions

When purchasing a new makeup product, be sure to check the ingredients list to ensure that none of the common allergens mentioned above have been used. 

Acne Cosmetica

If you have noticed an increase in breakouts whenever you wear makeup

This could mean that you are suffering from acne cosmetica. 

Never heard of this condition before? 

It is actually an extremely common type of acne, and is caused when cosmetic products build up inside hair follicles. This leads to clogged pores, resulting in a breakout.

Infographic on clogged pores

How do you know which of your makeup products is causing your acne cosmetica? 

Well, take a look at where your breakouts tend to occur. If they tend to accumulate around the eyes, then the culprit is likely to be one of your eye makeup products. On the other hand, if they are spread quite evenly across your face, take a closer look at your foundation. 

Once you know which product it is that is causing your breakouts, you can stop using it. 

Wondering why these cosmetic products cause acne in the first place? 

It is usually down to the oils that have been used within the product’s formula. 

One way to avoid purchasing makeup products that could potentially lead to breakouts is…

By looking for products that have been labelled as non-comedogenic. This means that their ingredient will not clog up your pores. 

Common pore-clogging ingredients that are often used in makeup products include: 

  • Cocoa butter 
  • Grapeseed oil 
  • Coal tar 
  • Coconut oil 
  • Lanolic acid 
  • Linseed oil 
  • D & C red dyes

Another tip would be to make sure that the skin care products you use are also water-based, rather than oil-based. Adding excess oils to your skin before applying your makeup will only exacerbate the problem. 

Bacterial Infections

Many people don’t realize that the use of makeup can sometimes lead to bacterial infections on the skin. 

How? 

In a couple of ways…

Firstly, cosmetic companies are not required to display expiration dates on their products, although a few still do. While this may be the case, it can be difficult to ascertain when a makeup product has expired, especially when it still seems to be working after a couple of years. 

However, even though it may seem as though that forgotten-about product is still doing its job, what you won’t be able to see is all of the bacteria that is now living in that product. 

To avoid unnecessarily infecting your face with bacteria, follow these guidelines when it comes to throwing out expired makeup products: 

  • Liquid Foundation – 2 years 
  • Powder – 2 years
  • Blush – 2 years 
  • Lipstick – 1 year 
  • Eyeliner – 1 year 
  • Eyeshadow  Powders – 2 years 
  • Concealer – 2 years 
  • Eyebrow Pencils – 1 year 
  • Lip Liners – 1 year 
  • Mascara – 6 months

Of course, those shelf life guidelines will be even shorter if you don’t store your makeup products correctly…

Make sure that you tightly screw on any caps and lids once you are done using them, to prevent the products from drying out and to also prevent the ingredients from oxidizing. Keep your products away from extreme temperatures too, as this will only have an effect on their consistency. 

Don’t forget, the tools that you use to apply your makeup, from brushes to sponges, can carry bacteria too. These need to be regularly cleaned in order to prevent bacterial skin infections. 

How often should you be cleaning them? 

Ideally, give them a quick clean after each use, and then a deeper clean every couple of weeks, or at least once a month. Brush cleaners are available for this, or you can simply use some warm water and a gentle soap. 

Accelerated Skin Aging

While makeup itself does not cause accelerated skin aging, failing to remove it before you go to bed at night definitely does. 

How are the two connected?

Well, each and every day, your body produces thousands of free radicals. These are basically unstable molecules within the body that go around attacking healthy cells, and this includes your skin cells.

Free radicals are created by exposing the body to so many different environmental factors, from the sun’s UV rays to pollution, making them pretty much impossible to avoid. 

What does this have to do with your makeup? 

Well, your makeup actually holds on to free radicals. When you remove your makeup at night, you are clearing away those free radicals along with it. However, failing to remove your makeup means that the free radicals end up causing even more damage than usual to your skin. 

Leaving your makeup on at night can lead to: 

  • A breakdown in the collagen and elastin in your skin 
  • An increase in fine lines and wrinkles 
  • A rough skin texture 
  • Skin dullness 

Of course, leaving your makeup on at night also means that there is more chance of your pores becoming clogged, resulting in breakouts. 

When it comes to removing your makeup…

A simple swipe of a cleansing wipe simply will not do. 

Although these wipes may be super convenient, they only end up smearing your makeup across your face, along with the dirt, oil and dead skin cells that were also on your skin. 

While a cleansing wipe is better than nothing on those evenings when you are just too exhausted to properly cleanse your face, you would be far better off with a proper cleanser for all of the other nights.

When using a proper cleanser, make sure that you massage this into dry skin, rather than damp. 

Why? 

Because damp skin means that the water that is already on your skin will end up diluting the cleanser, meaning that it will not do as good a job of removing every single makeup particle. Instead, massage it into dry skin for about 30 seconds, before adding a bit of warm water and continuing to massage for another 30 seconds or so. 

After that, rinse the cleanser off and follow up with the rest of your skin care routine. Make sure to never leave your skin bare after cleansing, as it is quite vulnerable at this time and will be prone to dryness and sensitivities. 

Young woman washing her face at the sink

One more thing to keep in mind when removing your makeup…

Make sure that you are extremely gentle when handling your skin. It may be tempting to tug at parts of your skin, such as your eyes when removing mascara, but avoid doing this. The skin on your face is so thin and delicate, and any extra tugging and tension will only lead to an increase in facial sagging and fine lines. This is especially the case when dealing with the fragile skin around the eyes. 

Dry Skin

Not only can certain makeup products exacerbate dry skin, but they can sometimes even cause this in the first place. 

How? 

Well, if you have dry skin, then this means that your skin has a lack of natural oils. These help to prevent moisture from evaporating out of the skin. 

Certain makeup products, such as powders, actually absorb the oils on your skin. If you already have a lack of these oils, then losing the little that you do have means that you will quickly experience the symptoms of dryness. 

Fortunately, there are plenty of hydrating powdered makeup formulas available now. You could also try applying a moisturizer onto your skin and then waiting for a few minutes before applying the powder over the top of that. Not only will this keep your skin more hydrated, but it will also give your makeup a fresher and dewier finish. 

In general, creamy makeup formulas tend to be better than powders for those who have dry skin. The creams will be so much more moisturizing and nourishing, and there is little chance that they will cause your skin to dry out. 

For most people out there, wearing makeup will not really cause any skin problems. However, it is always good to be aware of the potential side effects, so that you can recognize the symptoms and deal with them as soon as they start to appear. 

Smiling woman looking at herself in the mirror

8 Signs You’re Not Cleansing Your Skin Properly

With how busy life gets and the number of tasks and responsibilities that keep piling up, it is easy to neglect skin care habits that take some of our time.

There are days where we don’t have the energy to go through even a 5 step cleansing routine and go straight to bed. You probably experience a phase wherein some days you would forget to take off your makeup because you were super exhausted from work and the morning after your skin will feel sticky and greasy. Gross right? As a college student or a working adult, you can definitely relate. 

However,  you will realize the time that costs you a few minutes every morning and every night are an investment making your skin retain its youth. Doing otherwise may sentence you to suffer some consequences such as these: 

1.    Breaking Out

Although acne is a skin condition that both the rich and poor experiences, there is an underlying stigma making people who have it feel insecure and uncomfortable with their looks. Though somehow, having the hormonal misfortune of triggering acne is inevitable, there are some preventive and remedial measures we can take. 

What Happens to Your Skin?

Before going into detail on how to cure and prevent acne, it is best to learn about this skin condition for us to have a better picture. 

The cause of acne is very simple. The pores are like the vents that help our skin to breathe. It helps our skin by disposing some of our bodies’ excess in the form of oil. Pimples then are formed when oil gets clogged in our pores. 

Furthermore, these residues clogged in the pores may be infected by airborne bacteria brought by exposure to external agents such as dust. The bacteria that infects pimples and triggers acne is called Propionibacterium acnes. 

Infographic on clogged pores

Causes of Acne

One prevalent cause of acne is a hormonal imbalance. The main factors that come into play are the hormones known as androgen in adolescents and estrogen in adults. As the level of androgen rises, oil glands under the skin grow. Enlarged oil glands produce more sebum. Excessive sebum causes clogged pores and bacteria.  This hormonal imbalance can be traced from internal bodily processes caused by:

    • Medications and prescription drugs
    • Stress
    • Hormonal changes in adolescence
    • Greasy cosmetics
    • Menstruation
    • Dehydration

What to Do to Prevent Acne?

Types of acne vary. Of course, severe acne will require more intensive medication. But for mild to moderate condition, there are easy and practical ways to go about your everyday skincare routine:

  • Wash your face twice a day: It is best to use warm water, and mild cleansing products made for acne. Try to avoid antibacterial soaps because these products tend to make the skin coarse and dry.
  • DO NOT pop your pimples: Although it is very tempting to do so, please refrain from popping because these will leave marks on your face that may be permanent scars. 
  • Be very selective of your cosmetics: Choose the makeup that is suitable for your sensitive skin type. Also, do not put too much makeup on your face especially when you are still recovering from acne. Chemicals in them may clog the pores and trigger more pimples. 

2.    Your Skin is Super Dry 

The roughness of the skin is due to the low amount of natural oils and lubricants that should keep the skin soft and smooth. Although, this condition is most common among the elderly, dry skin can be triggered by various environmental factors such as temperature and humidity.

Development of Cracks and Dry Patches

The epidermis, the outer layer of our skin, is made up of lipids and proteins. They prevent skin dehydration and retain moisture. Thus, deficiency of proteins and lipids makes the moisture evaporate quickly leading to rashes and cracks on the skin. 

Xerosis (dry skin) is very common especially during hot weathers. However, leaving it untreated may lead to bacterial infections and severe skin diseases.

How to Treat Dry Skin?

Although in the offset of developing dry skin is usually mild, it is important to take caution to treat this skin condition as soon as possible. Here are some essential tips for your skin care routine:

  • Do not over wash your face.
  • Avoid using harsh soaps and cleansers.
  • Do not over exfoliate.
  • Religiously use lotions and moisturizers especially when going out. 

3.   Your Skin is Too Oily

People with this condition will likely develop acne. For the most part, having persistent oily skin has to do with stress, hormones, and genetics. Having oily skin is practically harmless, but it may sabotage your fresh look and makeup effort when you go out.  

Common Symptoms

Other than the obvious fact that the face looks shinier more frequently than most people, there are a few telltales of having excessive oil production in your pores:

  • Prevalence of whiteheads and blackheads
  • Persistent development of pimples
  • Skin looks rough and thick

These signs may also be caused by various factors such as frequent exposure to heat and humidity which makes your pores get used to producing more oil to hydrate the skin. In time, even in cold places, oil glands may switch to autopilot and generate unnecessary oil. 

How Do I Manage Excessive Facial Oil?

As having oily skin is inevitable for people who are born with it, proper skin care handling might as well be the key to look fresh as much as you can. This includes the right routine with the right products that should be done on an everyday basis:

Woman applying skincare with cotton pad

  • Consider using a toner. A toner is always best used after washing your face for deeper cleansing. Toners have soothing properties for the skin such as natural astringents. For oily skin, the best products to use are those with witch hazel contents. 
  • Facials masks. The facial masks are good deterrents for oily skin. They contain minerals that can absorb oils, sebum levels, and shininess without causing irritation. 
  • Use moisturizers regularly. Some people steer clear of moisturizers because they think these will make their skin greasier. On the contrary, moisturizers are very important in preventing oiliness. As it was mentioned earlier, oil glands tend to produce more oil when dehydrated. Moisturizers act as an external aid to prevent dehydration striking a balance in the body’s processes. 

4.    Redness of Skin

Swollen and reddish skin is often a symptom of acne, seborrhea, and rosacea. It is usually caused by irritation due to too much exposure to dust and the sun. Facial redness comes with itching and rough skin texture that can be very painful.

Things You Don’t Know Causing This Skin Condition

Although facial redness can be the side effect of other diseases such as lupus and eczema, there are certain practices and pet peeves that can trigger this type of irritation:

  • Drinking too much alcohol. Although our faces turn reddish when we are drunk, frequent and excessive amount of alcohol in the body makes small blood vessels to widen in your skin and causes capillaries to break leading to irritation.
  • Using low-quality cosmetics. Beauty products do not need to be expensive to be considered of high quality. Be very selective in buying your beauty cosmetics what use is a great deal if it irritates and damages your skin?
  • Skipping your daily cleansing routine. We are inevitably exposed to airborne chemical agents that are harmful to our skin. These may build up in our skin and cause irritation. Yes, it is tempting to go straight to bed after a hard day’s work, but you should not neglect washing up. It will make your skin look better, and you will be refreshed and get a better good night’s sleep.

5.    Burning and Stinging

Pain receptors are our bodies’ signal to tell us that there is something wrong. These sensations in our skin may entail damage or allergic reactions to external agents we have been exposed to. The same as facial redness, burning and stinging may also be side effects of various skin diseases or irritation from harsh skincare products. 

How to Soothe Your Skin 

To be able to get to the bottom of this, you should first figure out what is causing this irritation. Whether it is allergies or the use of harsh skin care products, it’s better to consult first your doctor or dermatologist for you to know proper remedial and preventive measures that are suitable for your condition. In the meantime, before you visit your doctor, try to:

  • avoid scratching damaged areas (no matter how itchy it may get);
  • use unfamiliar skin products; and
  • always wash the areas properly with mild cleansers only.

6.    Presence of Milia

Milia is a type of acne that is caused by skin disorders such as bullous lichen planus and bullous pemphigoid. These tiny white bumps are nothing to worry about because usually, they disappear after a few days. But of course, it would be better to sport a smooth, flawless skin. 

Types of Milia

There are four types of milia. These are practically the same kinds. The only difference is where in the body does it appear.

  • Primary Milia: The most common and typically appears on the face.
  • Secondary Milia: This can appear anywhere in the body.
  • Eruptive milia: This appears as small white bumps in the neck and head.
  • Milia en Plaque– This is the rarest type, and it appears near the ear and upper eyelids.

Milia are practically harmless but if you notice any abnormalities such as the unlikely size and prevalence to your body, be sure to pay a visit to your doctor right away. 

7.    Peeling

Peeling is caused by other skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema and essentially dry skin. It is also called exfoliative dermatitis when the peeling has spread in a large portion of your body. This may cause discomforts such as itchiness and bruises.  Skin can also be rough, patchy and affected areas may be swollen.

Some Effective Remedies

Organic home remedies are always one of the best ways to medicate mild skin condition. Although as much as it is fun to play beauty guru in the kitchen, consult your doctors before trying anything new to treat your skin. 

However, if you do not have time to make organic facial masks, here are some tips that will be useful to heal and prevent peeling:

  • Use lukewarm water in your bath to open up your pores.
  • Use a gentle exfoliator as a facial cleanser.
  • Use soft towels to dry your skin.
  • Apply topical anti-inflammatory cream with aloe vera after cleansing your face.

8.    Signs of Aging

These are those wrinkles and fine lines that will eventually grace our facial features. Having these earlier can be side effects of stress, hormones, genetics and also dry and coarse skin.

Worried woman looking at her face in mirror

Aging, of course, is inevitable and every second that passes makes our bodies older by the moment. It is not a skin condition, but this is what most of us try to delay its telltales. To do so, we must be very particular not just in our skin care routine, but also in our day to day activities. 

Essentials in Fighting the Signs of Aging

Preventing wrinkles and fine lines to show does not only take topical moisturizers and night creams. This goal requires a good and healthy lifestyle. Because what we do to our bodies manifests through how we display ourselves and looking younger means looking healthier and happier. Therefore, here are some tips that you definitely have to live by to achieve that younger looking skin:

Follow these tips and make it part of your daily routine and in no time, you may be surprised to look five years younger!

Taking care of your skin is both a lifestyle and a sacred commitment to your body. It does not only entail your morning and evening cleansing routine but also your diet and day to day activities.  So before skipping that sunscreen, ditching the evening routine to go to bed and neglecting to wash your face because you are already super late for work, think about the consequences that may show in your skin.

Remember, wanting to look good is not vanity, it is simply our right to feel confident with our bodies. So, do things that make you look your best and be kind to your skin, always. 

Workout friends high-five each other, resting

Setting Realistic Workout Expectations

When it comes to working out, consistency is key. Pushing yourself too hard will only damage your motivation, making it far less likely that you will stick to a regular workout routine. 

This is why it is so important to set yourself realistic workout expectations, as this is what will give you the best results. 

How do you make sure that your aims and goals are realistic? 

Here are some tips: 

Smart Goals

When it comes to setting goals, SMART is an acronym that can really help you. 

What does SMART stand for? 

  • Specific – your goal should be clear and succinct. Read on for advice on choosing these specific goals 
  • Measurable – this basically means that you need to add a number to your goal. Make sure that there is a way to numerically track your progress 
  • Attainable – this is the tricky part. Your specific, measurable goal needs to be difficult enough to challenge and motivate you but attainable enough for you to actually achieve 
  • Realistic – make sure that your goal is realistic and relevant to you, and that it is the right time in your life to be putting your time and focus into achieving it 
  • Timely – give your goal a realistic deadline 

Infographic on SMART goals

Confused? 

An example would be “I will go running four days a week for an hour each time, so that I can lose 5% of my body weight in six weeks time.”

Choosing Realistic Goals and Expectations

For many people, especially those who are new to working out, the main goal tends to be weight loss. 

There is nothing wrong with this, but you do need to make sure that you are still being realistic…

How can you set a realistic weight loss goal? 

You need to first take into account your current weight, along with your body fat percentage. The heavier you are, and the more body fat you have, the faster you will be able to lose this. 

Once your body fat percentage and weight starts to decrease, it will then take you longer to lose the rest. 

For many people out there, a good expectation to aim for would be to lose about one percent of your body weight a week. 

How about for those who are trying to build muscle and strength? 

Well, as above, those who are new to strength training will make progress faster. 

Ideally, you should be able to add five pounds to the amount you lift each week. 

For those who are beginners, you could aim to increase your body weight by between 1% to 1.5% each year. Those who are intermediate lifters should aim for about 0.5%, while those who are experts should aim for around 0.25%. 

As you can see, there is quite a bit to take into account when setting your goal. You will need to do some research into making sure that your goal is a realistic one, so that you know that you will be able to achieve it. 

Measuring and Documenting Your Progress 

To begin with, you need to write your goals down. 

Why? 

Because not only does this make them more definite and real, but research shows that those who write down their workout plans and aims exercise around twice as much as those who do not. 

Once you get started with your workouts, it is important to keep monitoring your progress. This will go a long way when it comes to keeping you on track to accomplishing your goal. 

How should you monitor your progress?

Here are a few ideas: 

  • Keep a log book – your log book should contain the following information: your workout schedule, the actual exercises you have done, the amount of time you spent working out and numbers relating to your goal. This could be weight loss numbers, fitness levels, or anything else. Keeping track of your energy levels and your mood can also be beneficial 
  • Use an app – there are so many different workout apps out there that will help you to track your progress. Many of these can be accompanied by pieces of wearable technology, enabling you to obtain the highest in accuracy 

Checking watch and mobile phone app for workout statistics

  • Keep a calender – this is similar to a log book, but laying it all out on a calendar will make it easier to visually see your overall progress 
  • Take pictures – taking pictures throughout your workout journey will enable you to compare any aesthetic changes side by side. They will also provide you with extra motivation when it comes to continuing on to making improvements to your body. Posting these photos on a social media account can also help to keep you accountable when it comes to sticking to your aims and goals 

Sticking to Your Goals

For those of you who already regularly work out, you have likely had those days where you just can’t seem to muster up the motivation to exercise. 

Sticking to your workout goals can be tough, but here are a few tips to help you out: 

  • Reward yourself – set yourself mini goals and then reward yourself each time you achieve one of these. The rewards could be anything from a pampering spa session to a short break away, depending on how much motivation you need 
  • Keep your workout bag packed – this makes it easier to just “grab and go” before a workout, rather than having to waste time sorting through your belongings and packing your bag 
  • Work out with friends and family – this not only makes working out more enjoyable, but will also hold you more accountable to your goals 
  • Plan some form of exercise for each day – even if you only plan to work out in the gym four times a week, you should still try to plan an active exercise for the remaining days of the week. This could be as simple as a bike ride, a hike with the dog, or even an evening stroll around your neighborhood 
  • Go public – whether you simply announce your goals to your friends and family, or set up a social media account where you post your progress, putting your goals out there in the big wide world makes it much harder to ignore them when things are feeling difficult 
  • Work with a personal trainer – this will give you some extra motivation, while the advice given to you during your workout will help to make your workout even more effective 

Aligning Your Diet with Your Workout Goals 

You are likely already well aware of the fact that your diet will have a huge impact when it comes to achieving your workout goals.

Eating the right foods before your workout will give your body the energy it needs to really thrive and be active, while eating certain foods afterwards will help when it comes to building muscle and reducing fat. 

So, which foods should you be eating? 

Well, before a workout, try to eat foods that are low in fiber and fat, but contain a moderate amount of protein and carbohydrates. Stay away from anything fried, greasy or filled with sugar. 

Drinking plenty of fluids with your food is also important. 

Why? 

Because the water in these fluids acts as a cooling mechanism for your body, while also preventing it from becoming dehydrated. 

What about sports drinks? 

All you really need is water. However, if you tend to sweat quite a bit, or are working out in a humid environment, then a sports drink could be quite beneficial. Of course, if weight loss is your end goal, then make sure that the sports drink you choose does not contain too many calories. There are many diet versions of sports drinks available, so these may be better suited to you. 

What should you be eating after your workout? 

Ideally, you want to be eating foods that contain plenty of protein. This is what your muscles need in order to recover from all the exercise, as well as to grow. 

However, don’t go overboard…

Your body only needs about 10 to 20 grams of protein after a workout.

Do you struggle to stick to a healthy diet? 

Here are some tips to follow to make it easier: 

  • Eat smaller meals, but eat these more frequently throughout the day. This will help to naturally raise your metabolism, enabling you to burn more calories in the end 
  • Give food prep a try. Sorting your meals from before will make it much easier to stick to a healthy diet 
  • Try not to skip meals. This may seem beneficial in the short run, but it only means that you are much more likely to over-eat during your next meal 
  • A journal that documents your diet will help you to eat healthier 

Keep Your Workouts Enjoyable

Working out can sometimes seem a bit tedious, and this only makes it so much harder to achieve your goals and expectations. 

The key here is to make sure that you are keeping your workouts fun and enjoyable. 

How? 

Well, to begin with, choose some exercises that you genuinely enjoy. For example, if you hate going to the gym, then coming up with a workout plan that revolves around the gym isn’t something that is going to fill you with excitement. 

In fact, working out outdoors can really give you a mental boost. Spending time in nature is extremely therapeutic, and you will likely find that you have a much clearer head after an outdoor workout. Research shows that exercising outdoors is much more effective at reducing feelings of stress than exercising indoors.

Yoga group in the park, morning

Try to keep mixing your workouts up, so that you aren’t doing the same exercises day in and day out. There are so many new and inventive exercises constantly being put out there, and trying something that you’ve never tried before will not only help in stimulating your body and muscles, but also your mind. 

This is especially the case for those who haven’t been seeing the results that they have been expecting. This could be a sign that the exercises you have chosen aren’t quite right for your goal, and it would be worth exploring other options. 

Listening to music while working out can also really be a game-changer…

Music has been shown to improve performance while also boosting motivation. 

Wondering if there is a particular genre of music you should be listening to? 

This all depends on the type of workout you are doing…

If you are warming up, something with a slightly slower tempo would be beneficial, while speed or endurance exercises would require a faster tune. 

There are many BPM (beats per minute) calculators online that can help you to work out the tempo of a particular song.

Here are some guidelines to follow: 

  • Warming up – 100 to 110 BPM
  • Stretching – 90 to 100 BPM 
  • Strength training – 110 to 120 BPM 
  • Endurance, agility and speed training – anything over 120 BPM 

Another way to make your workouts more fun is to exercise with someone else. As mentioned above, this also has the added advantage of giving you some extra motivation while also making you more accountable to your goals. 

Don’t have any friends or family who want to work out? 

That’s ok because there are plenty of workout groups that you can join. Whether you join a more informal workout meet-up or an actual class, working out with others will give you a support system that will make your workouts so much more enjoyable. 

Not only can it be difficult to decide upon workout expectations, but then you also have to make sure that you stick to your goals in order to actually achieve your expectations. This is why it is so important that any goals or expectations you set for yourself are realistic, as setting yourself up for success is key when it comes to successfully making progress with your workouts. 

Smiling woman enjoying coffee indoors on a winter day

10 Scents to Warm Your Winter Mood

Has the winter cold been getting to you? 

Try turning to some of these warming scents to lift your winter mood back up…

Ginger

A plant native to Asia, ginger is a spice that has long since been recognized for its medicinal properties, and these qualities are reflected in its essential oils too. 

The oil is created from distilling the root of the plant, which is the same part of the plant that is eaten. This gives the oil a hot and spicy aroma, making it perfect for the cold days of winter. 

Ginger is also such an energizing scent, and will help to keep your spirits high. This is so important in the winter, at a time when loneliness and depression are more common. 

Wondering how strong the scent of this oil is? 

That all depends on the quality of the oil, as well as how the plant was distilled. The better the quality, the stronger the scent. With that being said, even the strongest scented ginger essential oils can still be relatively light, especially when compared to the aroma of the root when it has been freshly sliced. 

What’s the best way to make use of ginger essential oil? 

An aromatherapy diffuser is the easiest way to enjoy the distinct scent of ginger, especially since this means that you can easily create your own essential oil blend.

Ginger works especially well with citrus oils, as this gives it a sweeter scent. Sweet orange oil, which will be discussed further down, is a great choice. 

Cinnamon

Cinnamon essential oil comes from the bark of the cinnamon tree, and is known for its warm and sweet aroma. 

It also brings with it a number of health benefits that are particularly important in the winter months, such as: 

  • Preventing colds and coughs 
  • Relieving pain 
  • Fighting off infections 
  • Boosting circulation 
  • Reducing stress 
  • Improving digestion

This is a great oil to use in a diffuser, because its earthy and spicy scent is one that tends to linger around in a room for hours.

A bundle of cinnamon sticks, with a small vial of cinnamon oil

One thing to know about cinnamon essential oil is that it features quite a strong scent, and it can often be overpowering when used on its own. Try mixing the cinnamon with sweet orange, jojoba or bergamot oil for a softer and more delicate fragrance. 

Juniper Berry

With a sweet, woody and crisp aroma, juniper berry is known for being quite a stimulating scent. If you drink gin, then you will recognize the scent immediately, as these berries are what give gin its unique flavor. 

This is a cleansing and purifying oil, and was used for years by Native Americans as a way to clean the air. It will give your immune system a boost, which is always helpful in the winter months. 

In addition to cleansing, the scent of juniper berry is also a relaxing one, making it great at calming the mind and body while inducing sleep. 

Try mixing this refreshing oil with one of the following to maximize its effects:

  • Grapefruit 
  • Sweet fennel 
  • Cypress

Sweet Orange

Sweet orange is such a versatile essential oil, with its uplifting scent able to quickly disperse through a room. Although it is often referred to as just orange oil, make sure that you are not purchasing bitter orange oil instead, as this oil has different qualities. 

Sweet orange oil is cheerful and happy, making it perfect for a gloomy winter’s day. It is commonly used in aromatherapy as a way to encourage feelings of warmth and happiness, as well as for detoxification purposes. 

Unlike most other essential oils, which are extracted through steam distilling, sweet orange oil is usually cold pressed, with the oil coming from the rind of the fruit. While there are steam distilled versions available, a cold-pressed sweet orange oil is the one to go for. 

Why? 

Because the heat produced by the steam in the distillation process degrades the content of citral within the oil, which is an important compound when it comes to the oil’s therapeutic properties. 

Are you allergic to citrus fruits? 

If so, sweet orange oil is not one that you should be using. Even if you are just diffusing the oil into the air, it could still cause irritations or allergic reactions. 

Clove Bud 

Cloves are a spice that come from a tree native to Southeast Asia.

There are three types of essential oils that can be created from cloves, and these are:

  • Clove leaf oil
  • Clove bud oil
  • Clove stem oil

Which one is best?

Many would say clove bud oil. This is because of the fact that the leaves and the stems of the plant contain a much more potent chemical composition, which can often result in those oils causing irritations.

When it comes to medicinal uses, clove oil is known for its anesthetic, antiseptic and antimicrobial properties, and is a popular remedy when it comes to soothing toothaches, mouth infections and even bad breath.

What about its scent?

Warm and spicy, clove essential oils are able to help with common winter ailments, including colds, coughs and sinusitis. It can also help with digestive problems, such as nausea, making it quite the therapeutic oil.

Not only that, but clove oil increases blood circulation, which can go a long way in boosting heart health during the winter.

All of these properties come down to the eugenol content within the oil, which makes up around 90% of the oil. This is what gives the oil its warming and stimulating qualities.

Want to create a clove oil blend?

Clove oil works well with other spicy oils, such as cinnamon, as well as citrus and floral oils.

Nutmeg

Sweet, warm and slightly woody, nutmeg essential oil comes from the seeds of the Myristica fragrans tree, which is an evergreen tree that is native to Asia. 

Its scent is quite a well-rounded one, being spicy and light but deep and musky at the same time. 

When used aromatically, this oil has the ability to boost circulation, which is so important in the winter. 

Nutmeg oil surrounded by loose nutmeg

Why? 

Because the cold weather causes blood vessels to constrict, which means that your circulation is reduced. Your heart then has to pump so much harder in order to get your blood flowing around your body, which can put a lot of strain on it.

The stimulating scent of nutmeg is also known for being able to improve cognitive function. It clears away feelings of stress and exhaustion, while improving concentration and productivity. 

Want to create your own unique blend with nutmeg? 

Try mixing it with some of the following essential oils: 

  • Black pepper 
  • Cinnamon 
  • Clove 
  • Rosemary 
  • Clary sage 
  • Coriander 
  • Frankincense 

Cedarwood

Distilled from the bark of the cedarwood tree, cedarwood essential oil has such a pleasing aroma, which is why it is incorporated into so many different perfumes. 

However, in addition to its distinctly woody and sweet scent, cedarwood essential oil brings with it a few other benefits…

One of these is the way in which it can help the respiratory system. Being a natural sedative, cedarwood can help to soothe certain respiratory conditions, such as asthma and chronic coughing. 

Its sedative properties also mean that this oil is effective at relaxing the body and inducing sleep. 

How does it do this?

Its aroma triggers the body to release serotonin, which the brain then converts into melatonin. This extra melatonin is what will give you a long and restful sleep. 

The serotonin also helps to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety, improving and stabilizing your mood. 

Not only are all of these qualities reasons as to why cedarwood is so often used in perfumes, but it also blends really well with other scents too, making it so versatile. 

If you would like to create your own cedarwood blend, try mixing the oil with one of the following: 

  • Lavender oil
  • Chamomile oil
  • Citrus oils 

Is there anyone who shouldn’t use cedarwood essential oil?

Yes, if you are pregnant. 

Why? 

Because of the way in which it can induce menstruation, which can be dangerous during a pregnancy.

Cardamom

A plant belonging to the ginger family, cardamom is a spice that comes from the seed pods of the plant. Not only is it used for cooking all over the world, but the scent of the oil is perfect for the winter months. 

The oil has quite a bold and punchy fragrance, with notes of sweetness, spiciness and nuttiness all at the same time. It exudes an air of mystery and exoticism, which is partly what gives it its energizing and uplifting qualities. 

While its scent may seem strong and potent, cardamom is actually quite a gentle essential oil. Its fragrance stimulates neurotransmitters in the brain, which not only give it a relaxing effect, but also helps to prevent nausea, especially from chemotherapy or pregnancy.

This oil is also able to soothe the mind, reducing depression and exhaustion while increasing concentration and focus. It is known for being able to provide motivation, which many find themselves in need of during the winter. 

Although cardamom is such a beneficial oil, many find its scent to be too spice-like. 

If this is the case for you, try mixing cardamom essential oil with one of the following to tone its scent down a bit: 

  • Ginger essential oil 
  • Fennel essential oil 
  • Chamomile essential oil 

Vanilla

The sweet scent of vanilla is instantly recognizable, and so many find this fragrance extremely comforting. 

This isn’t a coincidence either…

Vanilla essential oil is known for being able to lift the mood and promote feelings of happiness. It provides a calming effect to the brain, countering any anxiety and restlessness. It does this to such a great extent that it has been used by hospitals for decades to keep patients calm and prevent claustrophobia before an MRI scan.

Essential oil with vanilla sticks

Vanilla is also able to lower blood pressure and encourage a restful sleep, which is why this is an oil often used in the evenings. 

For those who find that their sex drive tends to take a dive in the winter months, vanilla can help with this too. 

How? 

Thanks to its aphrodisiac effects. The scent of the oil is able to increase levels of estrogen and testosterone in the body, encouraging physical intimacy. 

When purchasing vanilla essential oil, there is one important thing to keep in mind…

Many vanilla oils have been created synthetically. This is understandable when you consider the fact that vanilla is the second most expensive spice in the world to produce. 

Why is it so expensive? 

Because it is a difficult one to grow, and the drying, curing and extracting process is also extremely time-consuming and labor-intensive. 

With that being said, synthetic versions of the oil only contain a tiny concentration of vanillin, which is the compound that gives the oil its therapeutic effects, as well as its distinct scent. 

While it may be quite costly to purchase a natural vanilla oil, this is definitely worth it if you want to experience the spice’s true health benefits. 

Scotch Pine

Distilled from the pine needles of the Pinus sylvestnis tree, Scotch pine oil is woody, earthy and fresh, as well as incredibly warming. 

This is a cleansing and clearing oil, not only in terms of air quality but also when it comes to a cluttered mind. It is often used before a meditation session, as it uplifts the mood and clears away negative thoughts. 

It is also able to help reduce feelings of fatigue, which is something that many experience on a dreary winter’s day. 

If you do decide to purchase Scotch pine oil, keep in mind that it contains around 90% monoterpenes. This means that the oil degrades easily when it comes into contact with heat or light, so you are best off storing your oil in the refrigerator. 

There are hundreds of essential oils out there, but some are definitely better suited than others to the winter months. These ten warming oils are perfect for the colder season, and will leave you better equipped to deal with all that the winter throws at you. 

Two glasses of coffee with cinnamon sticks

How to Spice Up Your Coffee This Holiday Season

The holidays are back and it’s time to spice up your beverages! That includes your regular cup of joe. Wondering how to do this? Fear not. From Moccocan spiced coffee to cinnamon brews, we have the best recipes for you to put the kick back into your caffeine hit.

Cinnamon Brew

This is a tasty coffee makeover that adds fragrance to your brew. The trick is to add powdered cinnamon to the coffee grounds before you start brewing. The end result is a warm spicy drink that will kickstart your morning.

Ingredients

  • For a 6-9 cup serving: 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon will do. 
  • For a pour-over coffee: About 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon for every 16 ounces of water.

Instructions

  1. Mix the spice into the coffee grounds in the filter. For a more aromatic brew you can also add a little nutmeg into the brew; mix the nutmeg grounds and cinnamon in the ratio 1:1.
  2. Add sugar or cream and adjust to taste. A more exotic taste can also be achieved by substituting cinnamon with ginger grounds. You can also experiment with a mixture of cardamom and ground ginger for a more herbal taste.

Vanilla Syrup   

Vanilla is one of the easiest spices to come by. With a little know-how you can turn your coffee into flavored drinks using these beans. Vanilla extracts will do for either hot or cold coffee; it can also come in handy when brewing your own cappuccino or latte. 

Ingredients

Vanilla beans (one or several will do depending on your serving)

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/3 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

The trick here is to dissolve vanilla (extract and the insides) in your sweeter before adding it to your coffee. 

  1. Split the bean long-ways and pour out the insides, scrape off to get every ounce of the creamy spice.
  2. Place the scrapped vanilla insides in a pan, add sugar and water. Heat the mixture over medium heat, stirring until the sugar is completely dissolved or turned into thick slurry. 
  3. Remove the creamy mixture from heat and add the vanilla extract to enhance the taste. Let the mixture cool down completely.
  4. Use a fine sieve to remove the beans’ fragments as you transfer the slurry into a serving (pourable) container. 
  5. Use the extract to your taste whenever you need to sweeten your coffee. 

The mixture can last for up to 2 weeks by keeping it cool it in a fridge 

Mint Syrup Coffee

Cold brew coffee with mint and sugar

Mint will not only flavor your drink but it will also leave your kitchen with a sweet, fresh fragrance. This delightful recipe calls for a herbal mint of your choosing. We recommend sprig leaves which are known to be highly concentrated with the minty aroma. 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 10 sprig mint leaves

Instructions

  1. Heat the water to boil and add sugar, stirring until the sugar dissolves.
  2. Add the leaves and let them steep in the mixture as it cool down. To get all the flavor by ensuring the leaves are completely submerged.
  3. After 3-5 hours, remove the leaves and store the liquid in a lidded container.
  4. Pour to taste whenever you crave a cup of coffee.

The mixture is good for up to a week if kept cold in a fridge.

Spiced Eggnog Coffee

Adding eggnog in your coffee will add a little over 100 calories to your drink, but the taste is well worth it. Take a cup of this creamy delight in the morning; this will do for most of your energy needs during the rest of the day.

Ingredients

  • A few teaspoons of eggnog
  • A pinch of nutmeg (optional)

Instructions

  1. Place the nog in a sauce pan and cook while stirring (do not let it boil)
  2. Add a pinch of nutmeg if you desire.
  3. Pour in a cup of black coffee and you are ready to go.

The drink can be taken with whipped cream for a more holiday feel

Moroccan Spiced Coffee

A touch of African coffee could be the warming up your body needs this holiday. This Moroccan brew ups your coffee’s flavor by adding a bit of peppery taste. Yes, that’s right… ground black pepper corns can be added to beverages. The brew is made spicier by adding freshly ground cardamom, cloves and cinnamon into the mix.

Ingredients

Ground coffee to your taste

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black peppercorns
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • A pinch of ground cloves
  • A pinch of ground green cardamom seeds
  • 1 cup roasted coffee beans
  • Hot milk, sugar or cream as desired

Instructions

  1. Mix the freshly ground pepper, cardamom ginger, cloves and coffee beans in a blender. Whirl the mixture until it’s finely ground.
  2. Boil 4-5 cups of water.
  3. Pour milk in a saucepan and heat it but don’t let it boil.
  4. Pour the coffee plus spice mixture into the filter and pour the boiling water over it to extract the different flavors. Continue adding the water slowly allowing it to drip through the coffee grounds.
  5. When using a French press: pour the coffee plus spice mixture into the press pot. Pour in the boiling water and let the mixture steep for about 5 minutes. Bring the plunger down and serve.
  6. Add milk and sugar or cream as per your desire.

Spiced up White Coffee

Eggnog with cinnamon stick

A cup of white coffee can be made more enjoyable by adding a few simple spices. The recipe for this requires a one-time serving for a small gathering. Think of this recipe as a better alternative to chocolate flavored coffee. 

Ingredients 

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • A pinch of ground ginger, cinnamon and cloves
  • A pinch of nutmeg (optional)

Instructions

  1. Warm the milk over medium heat (do not let it boil)
  2. Add the spices and stir to make a thick cream
  3. Whisk the mixture if you wish to make a light froth
  4. Pour the cream in a serving container and let your guest add it to their cups of black coffee.

The mixture will not last even when put in a refrigerator; serve all of it in one sitting.  

Almond Spiced Coffee Blend

Not everybody is up for milk; if you’re lactose intolerance or if you simply enjoy animal products, almond milk will do for a cup of creamy coffee. While you are it why not spice it up with a few ground flavors.

Ingredients

  • Almond milk to your taste
  • 2 teaspoons roasted ground coffee
  • 2 teaspoons ground allspice
  • A pinch of nutmeg and cardamom 

Instructions

  1. Add 8 cups of water to your coffee maker 
  2. Add coffee and the ground allspice 
  3. Brew as per machine instructions and use a paper filter to get rid of spice fragments
  4. Add almond milk and sweeter to taste 

Spiced Marmalade Coffee

Bring out the holiday cheer by making some fruit-spiced coffee. Orange marmalade in particular will add a citric-taste and sweet aroma to your brew. So the next time you are at the farmers’ market, be sure to pick up a few ripe oranges ready for marmalade coffee. Add some spices to your shopping list and let the holidays come to life.

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup ground coffee
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • A pinch of ground cloves
  • 1/4 cup of marmalade
  • 3 cups of water

Instructions

  1. Mix the ground cloves, cinnamon and coffee and place them in your coffee filter. 
  2. Add the marmalade into the coffee in it semisolid form.
  3. Add water and let the mixture brew as per instructions.    
  4. Stir before serving to ensure that the marmalade is well dissolved and thoroughly blended 

Honey Spice Latte

A cup of latter with a small jar of honey

By combining several spices you can create a magical latte. In addition to sugar, add a little honey to your coffee. Honey is packed with amino acids and several other minerals that are extremely beneficial for your metabolism. If you have a sweet tooth you can add some molasses; this will also give the brew a richer texture and add on flavor. 

Ingredients  

  • 1/2 cup ground coffee
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoon molasses
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • A pinch of nutmeg
  • A pinch of cloves

Instructions

  1. Mix the spices, sugar, honey, milk and molasses in a saucepan.
  2. Cook the mixture over medium heat while stirring for consistency (Do not let it boil). Remove from heat and blend the mixture for a few seconds until it’s foamy.
  3. Add the ground coffee to 5 cups of water in your coffee maker and brew as per the manufacturer’s instructions.
  4. Pour the coffee brew into five cups and divide the spicy mixture among them. 
  5. If whipped cream is your thing, use it to garnish this homemade latte.

Cinnamon Mocha Coffee

This is one of those brews that can be quite expensive at your local cafe. So instead of spending precious dollars over just a single cup, consider buying a few spices to brew a serving worth at least 5 cups. 

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup ground coffee
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons ground cocoa 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Mix the sugar, milk, cocoa, and vanilla in a saucepan.
  2. Cook the slurry in medium heat for about 7 minutes. Stir occasionally to ensure the granules and milk get to blend completely. 
  3. Mix coffee and ground cinnamon in your coffee filter and 4 to 5 cups of water. Brew the mixture according to your liking or the manufacturer’s instructions.
  4. Serve the hot milk mixture and pour in the cinnamon spiced coffee 

Thia drink can be garnished with whipped cream or with a few cinnamon sticks.

Tips for Better Coffee

Using the recipes above you can whip up a few spices and really go beyond the ‘coffee with cream and sugar’ routine. However, to get the best out of your coffee brew, here are a few tips and tricks to spice it up further:

  • Make patterns on your latte; this is a fun way of getting people into the holiday mood. If a barista can do it, why not you?
  • It takes time for hot coffee to cool down, so when you are pressed for time, just make a ‘cold power’ brew.
  • Use ‘Robusta’ coffee when going for maximum caffeine brews – ‘Arabica’ packs about half the caffeine levels of the former.
  • When using ‘drip’ to make coffee, first run hot water through the coffeemaker to heat it up before you start brewing- this makes the end result more desirable.  
  • Prefer French press over drip coffee when you want a strong brew.

The Take-Away

You can make your coffee time more memorable by adopting the above recipes. These are coffee brewing methods that are meant to make your drink spicy, strong and flavored. Some of the spices that will help you in this include cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, cloves, peppercorn, cocoa and nutmeg. To enhance the taste of your brew, you can go with natural sweeteners such as honey and molasses. If minty is how you like your cup then try freshly ground green sprig leaves and to cap it all, consider making your coffee fruity by adding some orange marmalade.

Botanical skincare with ingredients

The Best Botanical Ingredients for Smooth, Glowing Skin

While botanicals may have become quite the skin care buzzword lately, these natural ingredients have been used on the skin for decades. Botanical extracts are derived from plants, whether it be the flower, fruit or leaves, and this gives each one some truly powerful and unique properties. 

Wondering which botanical ingredients you should be adding in to your skin care routine? Here are 10 of the best.

Grape Seed

Derived from the seeds of grapes, grape seed tends to appear as either an extract or an oil in skin care products, and can also be taken as oral supplements.

Whichever one you go for, this botanical has some incredible skin-boosting properties, such as:

  • Contains potent antioxidants – not only does grape seed contain vitamins C and E, but it is also high in plant compounds known as OPCs. These have been shown to have 20 times the antioxidant power of vitamin E, along with 50 times that of vitamin C
  • Anti-aging benefits – when applied to the skin, grape seed bonds with collagen to strengthen it. This then makes a huge difference to smoothness, wrinkles and elasticity
  • Reduces sun damage – when applied to the skin before sun exposure, grape seed is able to help protect against the sun’s UV rays, boosting the way in which a sunscreen works. Some studies also suggest that grape seed can even protect against cancer
  • Softens and moisturizes the skin – grape seed is a rich moisturizer, but is also extremely gentle

Aloe Vera

You have likely heard of, or even used, aloe vera before, but did you know that this plant contains more healing compounds than most of the other plants out there?

This is why aloe vera is often referred to as the miracle plant, as there are so many different issues that this botanical can treat. 

Dripping aloe vera juice into a clear jar

When it comes to the skin, aloe vera is most commonly used for its calming and soothing properties, which is why you will often find it formulated into products for sensitive skin. 

In addition to this, aloe vera has a few other benefits, such as: 

  • Speeds up wound healing – due to its anti-microbial properties. This is also why the gel is a common treatment for sunburn 
  • Hydrates the skin – aloe vera has the ability to store huge amounts of water, as this helps the plant from drying out in the desert. These water-storing abilities translate to the skin as intense doses of moisture and hydration 
  • Packed with antioxidants – aloe vera contains a number of nutrients, and many of these are powerful antioxidants that can help to treat skin cell damage while preventing premature aging 
  • Can treat acne – this is thanks to the plant’s anti-microbial properties, as well as the way in which it can calm inflammation 
  • Has anti-aging effects – many of its nutrients, including vitamins C and E, are key when it comes to keeping the skin looking youthful

No matter your skin type, and whether you are suffering from acne, psoriasis, or anything else, aloe vera is a botanical that can probably help. 

Witch Hazel

If you have oily, acne-prone skin, then you have probably already heard of, or even used, witch hazel before.

The botanical itself comes from the bark and leaves of the witch hazel shrub, a plant that is native to North America.

Why is it such a popular acne treatment?

Because, firstly, witch hazel is an anti-inflammatory. This means that not only can it reduce acne breakouts, but it can also treat other inflammatory skin conditions, such as eczema and psoriasis.

Witch hazel is also an astringent.

What does this mean?

That it causes the tissues in your skin to contract, resulting in the opening of your pores shrinking. This then prevents oil, bacteria and everything else from settling into your pores and causing breakouts.

If all of that wasn’t enough, witch hazel is also packed with tannins. These are plant compounds that boast antioxidant properties, meaning that they are able to neutralize free radicals in the skin. Research shows that tannins are also able to act as an effective barrier on the surface of the skin, preventing unwanted particles from entering into the skin’s layers.

Chamomile

A plant that produces small flowers that look similar to daisies, chamomile has long since been used for its healing properties. 

Cup of chamomile in water surrounded by loose chamomile flowers

As you probably know, chamomile tea is often consumed for its calming effects, and these are the same benefits that your skin will experience when this extract is applied topically. 

In a way, the skin effects of chamomile are quite similar to that of aloe vera, with chamomile also being an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant-rich and skin-soothing ingredient. 

Just like aloe vera, chamomile is great for healing the skin, and is also often used for treating burns. It is also hydrating and gentle, making it ideal for all skin types, even for babies. 

Green Tea

While all of the teas are fantastic for your skin, green tea is just that little bit more powerful, making this the tea to go for. 

Studies show that green tea contains the most potent of all the antioxidants known to mankind. Known as EGCG, this antioxidant not only has anti-cancer properties, but is also a fantastic anti-aging compound. 

Green tea is also highly anti-inflammatory. This is due to the polyphenols, known as catechins, within the extract. 

If you’ve got acne, green tea can help with this too since it is an antibacterial agent, while those with dry skin will love the hydrating properties of this botanical. 

Do you suffer from puffy eyes and dark circles? 

Green tea contains tannins that are able to shrink blood vessels, reducing puffiness and redness, which is why this ingredient is often used in eye creams and serums.

Rose

Roses are quite an amazing plant, and so many parts of this plant are beneficial when it comes to the skin. 

These are just a few of the products that can be made with roses: 

  • Rose water – a great cleanser and toner 
  • Rosehip oil – incredibly hydrating and moisturizing 
  • Rose extract – gentle but potent 

No matter which type of rose product you choose, they all share similar properties, such as: 

  • Antibacterial – this makes rose an effective cleansing agent, especially for those who suffer from acne 
  • Anti-inflammatory – roses are fantastic for reducing redness and swelling while calming the skin 
  • Antioxidants – roses are packed with antioxidants, including especially high levels of vitamin C 
  • Astringent – roses have astringent properties, meaning that they are able to tighten up the pore openings 
  • Moisturizing – roses contain an array of natural oils that help to soften and condition the skin 

As you already know, roses also have a beautifully distinct scent. For this reason, many skin care companies choose to use this botanical instead of a fragrance in their products. 

Marine Algae

Often referred to as the superfood of the sea, algae, along with seaweed and kelp, is fantastic for the skin. This is something that is becoming more and more widely known, with over 40% of millennials in the USA already using a skin care product containing marine algae.

Marine algae floating freely in the ocean

So, what makes algae so effective?

To begin with, algae is one of the most nutrient-dense crops in the world. These are just a few of the nutrients that can be found in marine algae: 

  • Vitamins A, B, C, D and E 
  • Minerals including copper, magnesium, manganese, iron, potassium, zinc, iodine, calcium and phosphorus 
  • Amino acids and proteins 
  • Peptides 

What does all of this do for your skin? 

Quite a bit, such as protecting against cell damage, hydrating the skin, nourishing the skin with antioxidants and providing the skin with plenty of anti-aging compounds. 

There are many different types of marine algae out there, and while they all share some similarities, they also each have their own distinct properties. 

Jojoba

Jojoba is a plant that is native to North America, and the oil that is derived from it is already an extremely popular skin care botanical. 

Why? 

Well, most importantly, the structure of jojoba oil mimics that of the sebum that is naturally produced by the skin. This means that jojoba is an oil that can even be used by those with oily skin. Rather than exacerbating oiliness, jojoba oil tricks the skin into thinking that it has produced enough oil, resulting in its sebum production slowing down.

Thanks to its unique structure, jojoba oil also has the ability to penetrate deeper into the skin than other oils, meaning that it can bring about more significant changes. 

What does it actually do once it is in the skin? 

A number of things, such as: 

  • Antibacterial properties – able to kill bacteria and fungi on the surface of the skin 
  • High in antioxidants – can fight free radicals, while its vitamin E helps to heal the skin 
  • Noncomedogenic – this means that it won’t clog up your pores 
  • Anti-aging benefits – jojoba oil can help to increase the rate at which your body produces collagen 
  • Speeds up wound healing – the oil encourages skin cells to bind back together again after they have been damaged and separated 
  • Anti-inflammatory – calms and soothes the skin, making it especially effective for eczema and psoriasis 

Jojoba oil is extremely gentle and safe, meaning that not only can it be used by all skin types, but it can even be used on the more sensitive parts of the skin, such as around the eyes. 

Oats

While oats may not be as exotic as some of the other ingredients on this list, this botanical has some amazing skin-boosting properties. 

You probably already know that oats are a great ingredient to use if you need to soothe and calm your skin. This is due to the botanical’s anti-inflammatory and moisturizing properties, both of which are so effective when it comes to treating conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, dry skin and itching. 

It is also packed with antioxidants, proteins and lipids, all of which help to protect the skin from damage while encouraging skin cell healing. 

Wondering if you can just apply the oatmeal in your kitchen to your skin? 

Technically, yes, but this won’t have much of an impact. The oat extracts contained in skin care products consist of molecules that are small enough to be absorbed by the skin, and this is something that won’t happen with standard oatmeal. 

Pomegranate

Pomegranates have been around for over 3000 years, with ancient cultures being well familiar with the health benefits that this juicy fruit can bring. 

Loose pomegranate surrounding a small vial of pomegranate extract

When it comes to the skin, pomegranate has a number of effects, including: 

  • High in antioxidants – research shows that pomegranate is very capable of protecting skin cells from damage. It also contains ellagic acid, which increases the rate at which the body produces its own antioxidants 
  • UV protection – while it shouldn’t replace your sunscreen, studies show that pomegranate is quite effective when it comes to protecting the skin from UV damage and sunburn 
  • Anti-inflammatory properties – this is down to the omega-5 punicic acid in pomegranates 
  • Anti-aging benefits – pomegranate is able to boost skin cell regeneration, as well as circulation, both of which keep the skin looking youthful 
  • Moisturizing properties – not only is pomegranate highly moisturizing, but the skin absorbs it easily, and it does not leave a greasy feeling behind
  • Packed with vitamins and minerals – these include everything from vitamins C and K to potassium, iron and zinc 

As more and more people are recognizing the benefits of botanicals, these ingredients can now be found in such a wide range of skin care products. They are able to help with so many different skin concerns, making it well worth incorporating more botanicals into your skin care routine whenever possible.