Herbal Teas for Sleep, Insomnia, and Easing Anxiety

Herbal Teas for Sleep, Insomnia, and Easing Anxiety

As a follow-up to my post 5 Remedies that will Change the Way You Sleep, here’s a list of my favorite bedtime teas. You won’t find the classics like Chamomile and Lavender on here because, let’s be honest, I’d be wasting everyone’s time. So, here is my short list of some not-so-obvious bedtime tonics.

BUT FIRST, let’s talk about tea blends.

Tea Blends

If you’re into tea blends, you’re not alone. I like them too. The problem is, not all blends are created equal and it isn’t always immediately obvious.

In the case of bedtime tea blends, the first thing to look out for is how much of the main ingredient they include – or whichever ingredient you’re most depending on to knock you out. Some tea blends include such a scanty amount of certain herbs that I wonder why they even bother at all.

Let’s consider Valerian root.

Valerian is excellent in an evening tea. I’m not going to talk a whole lot about Valerian specifically though, because I feel like the interwebs has sufficiently covered its sleep benefits. However, if Valerian root is news to you, then definitely read more about it here, and go get you some Valerian tea bags.

Anyway. Tea blends.

Let’s consider the amount of Valerian in a couple of popular nighttime blends.

Yogi Bedtime tea has 20 mg of Valerian root. I’m not hating on Yogi – I actually love Yogi Soothing Caramel Bedtime – but like, c’mon, 20 mg of Valerian? That’s no Valerian. Yogi teas have a great flavor and a relaxing herb blend, but I could never depend on a Yogi Bedtime teabag to induce any sort of sleep benefits on its own.

Still, adding a Yogi teabag to your cup is a great way to disguise the flavor of a pure Valerian teabag that packs more of a punch but tastes like your unkempt back lawn.

Anyway, to give you an idea of just how little 20 mg of Valerian is, take a look at the Nighty Night Valerian Tea by Traditional Medicinals.

So, 450mg of Valerian. Kind of a MASSIVE jump. Looking for an even bigger kick of Valerian? Then, you’re going to have to go pure.

In my opinion, pure is the best method if you’re prioritizing the effects of a single ingredient like Valerian. As you can see, a single teabag of Buddha Valerian Root Tea has 1.5 grams of Valerian. See uuuuu. The only downside of pure teabags is they taste like Scheiße by Lady Gaga, so this is where tea blends like Yogi come in and work their magic to hide the taste of leaves.

Loose Leaf Tea Blends

Besides making sure that your teabags aren’t trying to fake it til they make it, I just want to mention loose leaf tea. I get that it’s a hassle and you end up having to clean out the little strainer for a whole 25 seconds – ugh, the worst. But, if you’re into it, stick to loose leaf blends.

One of my favorite brands is Tea Tonix.

They have blends for all types of moods and purposes, but in our case Be Sleepy is most fitting. Plus, it includes 3 of the 4 herbs I recommend in this post. Cha-ching.

Herbal Teas

CBD Infusion

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If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it ten gazillion times. CBD is the answer to your sleep problems. And guess what? You can drink it as a tea!

Where to buy

Green Road’s CBD Chamomile Tea contains 7mg CBD along with other relaxing ingredients and aromas like chamomile, vanilla, and peppermint. So, if you’re looking for a little something to help unwind, this is a great bet. You can also get it as regular and decaf coffee.

If you’re looking for something more in the range of a poison apple or magic spinning wheel, then The Brother’s Apothecary Hemp-Derived CBD Infusion Tea might be for you. These teas pack 60+ mgs of CBD in their teabags, which come in a variety of flavors such as Chai and Kava root (oh, we’ll get to Kava root).

Vervain (verbena officinalis) or Blue Vervain (verbena hastata)

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If you’ve ever watched Vampire Diaries, then you’ve probably heard of Vervain. For the rest of the world, Vervain is a purple plant with numerous benefits that include improved mood, aiding digestion and headaches, reducing PMS and menopause symptoms, poisoning a vampire, and insomnia.

Few clinical trials have been done to test Vervain’s health benefits, so this is one of those, hey this worked for me and a bunch of other people on the internet, maybe it’ll work for you kinda things. I mean, it’s not poisonous to humans, so at the very least, it’ll do nothing but leave a bitter taste in your mouth and protect you from being compelled by a vampire.

**Unless, you’re pregnant or breastfeeding (or a vamp…you get it). According to WebMD, there isn’t enough evidence to determine what sort of effects Vervain could have on preggos – so, that’s your call.

Where to buy

For your tea-party-slumber-party, go with Common Vervain or Blue Vervain. They have similar benefits, including the sleep-inducing function. But for some reason, neither are as easy to find in the United States as they were for me in the UK. If you do a Google search for Vervain here, you’re mostly redirected to Lemon Verbena, which is not the same thing as Vervain.

Lemon Verbena and Vervain are two entirely different plants, semi-related only by being in the same family of Verbenaceae plants, along with some 250+ other verbena plants. I don’t fully understand the whole genus, family, species plant world myself, which is fine because it’s not super relevant here other than to say that Common Vervain (verbena officianalis) and Blue Vervain (verbena hastata) are not equivalent to Lemon Verbena (aloysia citrodora).

Lemon Verbena, get the fffffff out.

So, where can you get the real stuff in the US? You can get Blue Vervain loose leaf herb from Mountain Rose Herbs. You can also get it in the Tea Tonix Be Happy blend, and the Be Sleepy blend mentioned above.

But honestly, if it’s too much drama finding Vervain teabags or loose leaf here in the US (and it kinda is), you could just say fuck it, and get it in capsule form here or tincture form here. If you really want tea, you could always squirt some tincture into a mug of hot water, and pretend it’s tea just like Lemon Verbena pretends it’s Vervain.

Catnip

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Thought it was just for cats?

Nope – catnip has a number of benefits for humans, although it doesn’t get us high as a kite like our feline friends. Benefits of drinking catnip include easing anxiety, indigestion, and – yep – insomnia.

Where to buy

Celebration Herbals Catnip Leaf & Blossom teabags are a good bet. There isn’t specific listing of the amount of catnip per teabag, but dividing the net weight (30g) by the number of teabags (24) gives you 1.25 grams of catnip per bag – which is a nifty number of grams. You can also find catnip in the Tea Tonix Be Sleepy blend.

Kava Kava Root

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Kava kava is a plant native to the Pacific Islands, where it is drank both ceremoniously and recreationally like alcohol. According to the National Institute of Health, it has similar effects to alcohol, such as euphoria and relaxation, but brings them about without impairing cognitive and sensory awareness.

Among it’s many possible benefits, research has shown Kava can reduce symptoms of anxiety and be used to treat stress-induced insomnia.

Be aware that Kava does have a list of potential side effects, including liver toxicity when taken as a dietary supplement, namely in cases of frequent use at high doses (aka overuse) or when mixed with alcohol and/or other medications that can affect the liver. As of 2002, 25 cases of liver toxicity associated with Kava intake had been reported across Germany, Switzerland, the UK, Canada, and France. Since then, there appears to be between 50-100 cases reported.

For context: in 2014, the number of deaths from alcohol-induced liver disease was 19,388 in the United States alone. But, as always, do your own research, check for drug interactions with any current medications, talk to your doctor, drink in moderation, and never forget that I’m just a girl on the internet with a Google Scholar tab and not a healthcare professional.

Where to buy

If you want Kava in a big dose (maybe you suffer from severe anxiety and insomnia), go for the Buddha Kava Kava Root Tea. It has 1.3 grams of Kava per teabag. As a general sleep aid, I personally like to go for a Kava-inclusive tea blend, such as Be Sleepy loose leaf (see above) or the Yogi Kava Stress Relief Tea, which contains a much milder dose of 78 mg.

Conclusion

I hope this can help you find the sleeping beauty slumber you’ve been searching for.

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There is no sunrise so beautiful that it is worth waking me up to see it.

Mindy Kaling, Is Everyone Hanging Out With Me?

5 Safety Tools For Women Who Run

5 Safety Tools For Women Who Run

For women who run, safety is as much a part of the package as a good pair of running shoes and a killer playlist.

And that sucks.

No, really. It sucks that women aren’t at liberty to throw on their kicks and run off into the moonlight without a second thought or care in the world. Instead, we’re stuck contemplating a slew of questions and weighing our options before we can feel comfortable heading out.

Is it too dark? Too late? Too early? Are there enough people around? Should I avoid that trail? Is that road too deserted?

On top of that, female runners are given a nifty list of safety tips that aren’t always applicable or practical.

Don’t run in the dark. Don’t run alone. Don’t wear headphones. Always run where there are people. Cover up. Switch up your route. Stay in a well-lit area.

Of course, if you can or want to take these precautions, go for it. But what about the women who can’t squeeze in their run until the evening? Or the women who can’t find a buddy to bring along? I actually prefer running alone and couldn’t possibly enjoy myself without my sneaker-emoji-titled running playlist blaring through my headphones.

Still, women are concerned about safety. According to a 2016 survey conducted by Runner’s World, 63% of women chose their running route based on where they were least likely to encounter harm compared to 23% of men, 60% of women only went running in daylight hours compared to 14% of men, and 71% of women determined their route based on how many people would be around compared to 35% of men. Time reported that more than half of the women responding to the survey had experienced harassment while running, with 94% of their harassers being men.  

So, what additional precautions can female runners take to enhance their safety and peace of mind while out on a run?

Disguise yourself as a man.

Safety devices! Self-defense tools!

Here are 5 handy safety devices to enhance your means of self-defense and give you a greater sense of security while running. All can be easily purchased online and are designed to be practical and convenient for women (and all people) who run.

1. Pepper Spray with Adjustable Hand or Wrist Strap

Pepper spray is a girl’s go-to safety tool. Carrying it in your hand while walking alone from the station or to your car at night can provide that added sense of security and potentially necessary means of protection. But what about runners? Clutching a bottle of pepper spray in your hand for a whole run doesn’t sound like the most comfortable or convenient idea, but it would be the most effective place to have it in a circumstance requiring quick reaction speed. That’s what makes the wrist-strap style so useful for runners.

Unlike most pepper sprays that come with a clip or a key ring, designs like the SABRE pepper gel spray for runners come with an adjustable strap that secures the bottle to your hand in a ready-to-use position. That way, you don’t have to think about holding onto it while you run, nor do you risk wasting precious seconds scrambling around for it in your pocket or waist clip should you need to use it.

In an emergency situation, this could make all the difference.

2. Clip-on Personal Alarm

Personal alarms like the SABRE alarm clip (pictured above) give you the ability to press a button and release a loud, high-pitched siren, typically between 120-150 decibels. Imagine standing just 200 ft. from a Boeing 777 turbofan aircraft as it prepares for take-off. Well, that’s 118 decibals. The Taiker Personal Alarm is 140db.

Such a sudden and dramatic sound could scare off an attacker or momentarily stun them, giving you a chance to get away. It can also alert others nearby if you’re in danger or hurt.

Most alarms are no bigger than a car remote and they come in a variety of styles such as keychains, lanyards, or rip cords. For running, I find clip-on alarms to be the most convenient.

Clip-on alarms easily attach to armbands, sports bras, or running tops and remain securely in place as you run. Most alarms have a flashing light feature, which can be a useful for alerting vehicles of your presence when it’s dark or foggy.

3. Emergency Whistle

Don’t want to shell out for a personal alarm? You could try an emergency whistle like the NOOPEL 2-pack instead.

Like the personal alarm, this is a standard safety whistle with a lanyard that can be worn around the neck and tucked into a sports bra or running top. This prevents it from bouncing up and down while you run, but keeps it easily accessible should you need to use it.

4. Folding Key Knife

As you can see, this is a folding pocket knife disguised as a key. Pictured is the Sog Key Knife available here.

If carrying a weapon as a form of protection makes you more comfortable, this might be the tool for you. Sure, you could always get a regular pocket knife, but what’s great about the key knife is that it’s small and thin, and can literally be attached or stored anywhere your regular house key would go. The blade is easy to unlatch once you familiarize yourself with the mechanism; just don’t forget to run it through a sharpener occasionally, as you would any other knife.

5. Personal GPS Tracking Device

Personal tracking devices are a great way to let friends and family monitor your location via an app on their phones. Most devices are small enough to be concealed in a pocket or shoe, making them less detectable than other types of tracking options, such as phones or fitness bracelets.

There is a variety of different device options online and most offer numerous additional features. For example, you can find trackers that include 911 call buttons, built-in siren alarms, and/or two-way speaker communication. The Silent Beacon Tracking Device (pictured above) has all of these features, plus a 1-week battery life and a clip on case that makes it convenient for runners. While virtually all trackers are waterproof, battery life varies between devices, starting at around 48 hours and lasting up to a week. Pricing of quality tracking devices begins around $50.

Conclusion

Personal safety and peace of mind are important considerations for any female runner. Each of us is different, so we must assess for ourselves the best precautions and self-defense methods to take so we can keep our runs safe, happy, and healthy.

5 French Songs For Your Summer Playlist

5 French Songs For Your Summer Playlist

In honour of July 4th, I spent the morning putting together this list, lest we forget that, following the Declaration of Independence, our French allies pretty much sealed the deal.

So, Vive la France. God bless the USA. The British are coming. Give me liberty or give me death, but please never give me MAGA.

🇺🇸🇫🇷

**Disclaimer: literally one person on here is actually French from France (Møme). Stromae is Belgian; Loud, Coeur de pirate, and Zaho are French-Canadian. I suppose I should have said French language, but shit gets wordy. Sooo…vive la France, Belgium, and Canada.

🇫🇷🇧🇪🇨🇦

Loud, Toutes les femmes savent danser

This is a multi-faceted summer jam. It applies to countless summer scenarios. Hanging out by the pool? This song applies. RiDiN WiTh tHe ToP dOwN? Applies. Heading on vacation? Applies. Going out dancing? Applies. Fourth of July BBQ? Applies. Beach party? Applies. Drowning in the sea? Applies.

I’m telling you. This is a summertime win-win.

Møme, Aloha (feat. Merryn Jeann)

Let me paint a picture for you (and for the purposes of this picture, your sexual orientation is/includes men).

You’re 23, you’ve just graduated from college, you have rich parents, so for a graduation present, they’ve sent you and two friends traveling around Europe for a month so you can take pics for the gram and start a travel blog (aka live the dream).

Week 2. Southern France. You’re looking sharp/dolled up/fly/fierce/hot/on-fleek – however you look, it’s good. You and your accessories (friends) head over to La Coquille Vide, the most happening open-air rooftop lounge on the Mediterranean coast. It’s chic and shiny and totally white. The tables are decorated with Persian cats. Everyone is sun-kissed and beautiful (including you, so you fit in just fine). All the men have been freshly shipped from the clone factory in the styles of Hugo Philip, Sacha M’Baye, and Richard Deiss. The dancing occurs in slow motion, and everyone’s sweat glistens like 35-carat diamonds.

A Sacha M’Baye standing near the balcony sipping his lychee-hibiscus-watermelon-rose-water mojito spots you, and smiles. His teeth are white and his eyes sparkle like he’s been Photoshopped, but you know he hasn’t, obviously, because this is real life. As he makes his move, you hope he speaks English so you don’t ruin the night with your filthy American-French.

Anyway, this song ^ has been playing on repeat in the background the whole time.

Coeur de pirate, Prémonition

This is the song you listen to when you want to convince yourself that your whirlwind on-again-off-again summer romance is actually based on the most passionate kind of love, and not emotional toxicity and verbal abuse like all your friends say. They’re just jealous that you’re spending you summer having sex and crying like Lana Del Rey.

And remember, the wise Taylor Swift has taught us that love should make you cross the line, waste your time, and lose your mind. If it doesn’t, you ain’t doing it right. So, next time you and your summer love-match end up drunkenly screaming at each other in a parking lot over a text from your sister, you’re on the right track. If it’s a waste of time, you must be doing it right. #summertimesadness

Stromae, Tous Les Mêmes

This is one that’ll put the Not-All-Men brigade up in arms.

Basically, it’s the song you listen to AFTER you realize summertime sadness is not actually that great, and you’re ready for some summertime gladness.

So, screw that toxic relationship. YOU’RE ALL THE SAME. Where my bitches at?

Zaho, Laissez-les kouma (feat. MHD)

If your guilty pleasure is a classic JLo-Pitbull collaboration, this one’s for you.

BONUS JAM

Stromae, Je Cours

Because I love you guys, and I love Stromae.

ADHD is Not a Learning Disability

ADHD is Not a Learning Disability

5 min read

ADHD is a mental illness.

You may not agree, and I could hardly blame you. It’s not like you ever see attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) classed alongside major depression (MDD), post-traumatic stress (PTSD), generalized anxiety (GAD), bipolar, borderline personality (BPD), or schizophrenia. You know, the real mental illnesses.

Maybe you think that’s because it’s not a mental illness; it’s a learning disability. It’s not, though. Not according to the Learning Disabilities Association of America or the National Institute of Mental Health or the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (p. 21). You can read more about ADHD not being a learning disability here or here or here or here.

I’m not saying mental illness and learning disabilities can’t be related or equally present; I’m just saying they aren’t the same thing. If you want to know more about learning disabilities, you can do so here.

***Full disclosure checkpoint***

I’m not a mental health professional. SuRpRiSe. I’m just a regular old person presenting an argument based on personal research and experience with adult ADHD (or adult ADD). You have the prerogative to deny my claims and dismiss this post. But before you do, I hope you’ll check out some of the sources I’ve linked because you don’t have the prerogative to dismiss science.

What is mental illness?

According to the American Psychiatric Association, the term mental illness “refers collectively to all diagnosable mental disorders – health conditions, involving

  • Significant changes in thinking, emotion and/or behavior
  • Distress and/or problems functioning in social, work or family activities.” [1]

The Mayo Clinic describes adult-ADHD as a “mental health disorder that includes a combination of persistent problems such as difficulty paying attention, hyperactivity and impulsive behavior…[and] can lead to unstable relationships, poor work or school performance, low self-esteem, and other problems.” [2]

Adult-ADHD is a mental illness.

Trigger warning: I acknowledge that labels and classifications – especially, those pertaining to mental health or mental-not-so-healthy – are useful to some and not so useful to others. If you’ve been diagnosed with ADHD and the idea of it being considered a mental illness is triggering to you, don’t read past this paragraph. I’m not trying to upset you or convince you to think about your condition in a certain way. Obviously, how you do or don’t define yourself and your experience is between you and your doctor, and nothing to do with me.

For those of you still with me, hey.

Adult-ADHD is a mental illness.

So, why is there so much grey area? Why is adult-ADHD so commonly thought of as a learning disability? Why is it so rarely included in groupings of mental illness? Why is it being denied public recognition as one of the big crazies?

Why.

I don’t actually know. No one seems to know what to do with adult-ADHD.

Is it a jam, a jelly, a marmalade, or a spread???

Maybe adult-ADHD just floats in its own sphere of existence, neither mental illness nor learning disability, but simply “other health impairment.” A mental enigma.

WRONG.

Adult-ADHD is a mental illness, but for all intents and purposes, isn’t recognized as one. This is a problem because if we don’t acknowledge adult-ADHD to its full extent, then we risk dismissing and downplaying the challenges of those who live with it. You might think ADHD already gets the attention it deserves. Everyone’s heard of it. All the kids have it. All the college kids want it (well, the meds for it). Everyone has trouble focusing sometimes. We’re all a little ADHD, right?

WRONG.

This is exactly why adult-ADHD needs to be acknowledged for the mental illness it is. It’s not just a noisy kid or a scatter-brained adult. It’s a mental illness.

Adult-ADHD comes with learning challenges, but it also comes with emotional and behavioral issues, and in many cases, a nifty cohort of comorbidity. If neglected, these issues can escalate and lead to negative consequences, inability to effectively function in daily life, and exacerbate other health conditions.

Adult-ADHD requires the same amount of care and understanding as any other mental illness. It does not deserve to be treated like bipolar’s third step-cousin once removed. You know, sort of in the family, but not actually related, so you can feel okay about bumping it down to table 6.

No, no, no, no. ADHD is a mental illness as much as major depression, anxiety disorder, and bipolar.

Now, I can’t speak for anyone else, but I can speak about my personal experience with adult-ADHD. And it feels a hella lot like something that causes significant changes in thinking, emotion, and/or behavior that can lead to distress and/or problems functioning in social, work or family activities.

So, what does adult-ADHD feel like?

It feels like being in a tiny room while a thousand bouncy balls shoot all around you at the speed of bullets. You’re expected to catch them all and organize them by color in ten minutes. Everyone else can do it, so why can’t you?

ADHD is sitting in a classroom while the professor explains that birds fly and fish swim, and some animals fly and swim. Should be fine, except, PLOT TWIST, the professor is speaking in tongues and writing on the board in obsolete Anglo-Saxon hieroglyphs.

ADHD is needing to return an email that requires three sentences at most, what should be a mundane, thoughtless task, but the thought of it creates such overwhelming anxiety that you put it off for days, inducing guilt and further anxiety. In many cases, the email is important, and neglecting it creates further negative consequences such as late payments or missed opportunities, and you end up hating yourself.

ADHD is being late to every appointment because your general absent-mindedness has you so paranoid about forgetting something that you’re too paralyzed to leave the house.

ADHD is having to choose between looking someone in the eye or processing what they’re saying.

ADHD is being unable to get out of bed, make breakfast, or get dressed because you forgot to refill your medication, and now your brain is deficient and improperly utilizing the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine.

ADHD is sitting down at your computer to get an hour’s worth of work done, then remembering you need to wash your hands. You may as well grab those dirty socks and toss them in the laundry on your way back.

And take those coffee mugs to the dishwasher.

Wash your hands again.

Replace the toilet paper.

Add soap to the shopping list.

Grab a drink from the fridge.

Add apples to the shopping list.

All the while, you’re desperate to sit at your desk and start your work, but you can’t because the motor inside you is driving you everywhere but where you need to go. And you’re not in control of the wheel.

Sometimes this is the bit that people struggle to understand about mental illness, the bit they can’t see. That sometimes we’re not in control of the wheel, and there’s nothing we can do about it.

How about we agree right now to stop treating adult-ADHD like the virgin daiquiri of mental illness? It’s packed full of tequila-rum and hangovers like the rest of them. So, let’s start acknowledging it for what it is.

ADHD is just a mental illness standing in front of the world, asking it to love her.

**Note: Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is another one that I think deserves some greater respect and understanding. It’s not just light switches, faucets, and meticulously organized desks.

7 Amazing Alternatives to Big Brand Skincare

7 Amazing Alternatives to Big Brand Skincare

Big brand skincare is convenient, and it’s familiar. We know brands like Clinique and Estee Lauder. We’re prepared for what we get with Neutrogena and L’Oreal. But do we actually experience the firmer skin and wrinkle reduction we’re promised on the label? Do we see visibly diminished dark spots in just 4 weeks?

Obviously, that’s a subjective question. This post isn’t about hating on the big brands. I mean, my favorite face wash is Clean & Clear Deep Action Cream Cleanser. It’s oil-free, goes on smooth, has a cooling effect, and works. For me, at least. That’s why I’m not going to sit here like a keyboard vigilante and tell you that big brand skincare is a load of shit when my whole bathroom is full of it. If you’ve got a good thing going with your big brand products, keep at it. Everybody’s skin is different. Do you.

But if you’re like me, there comes the point when you get super sick of buying overpriced, over-hyped products just because they’re there. Just because they’re convenient, recognizable, and they pack no surprises.

I feel about these skincare lines the way I feel about the Billboard Top 100. There’s some quality stuff, but mostly it’s just okay and pretty underwhelming. Then there’s the garbage that so obviously sucks, it should be discontinued immediately, and we keep buying it (Olay Total Effects Anti-Aging Moisturiser for $26.99, Ed Sheeran, all drugstore “dark spot correctors,” Chris Brown ft. Drake). Get. In. The. SEA.

So if you’re in the market to try out some new skincare products, here’s a list of affordable alternative options. They can all be bought online, and most are conveniently located on Amazon. All have been tested in the lab of my face and can be applied from the comfort of your home.

Essential Oil Moisturizer

Specifically, my own sweet little combo of Tea Tree + Rosehip + Rose Geranium. I won’t get too deep into specifics here because this is my number one face serum, and in my skin-salvation-bible, it is second only to drinking 3L of water a day. This essential oil moisturizer combined with daily water tracking is so important to my life that they each require their own separate post. You can find all the details about this nectar-of-the-gods essential oil combo here, and my post about water being the holy grail next week. So hold onto your wagons, guys.

Note: when using essential oils on the face, always check if what you’re using requires carrier oil before you slather it all over your skin and melt it off. Also, buy quality products if you’re putting it on your skin or ingesting it. In my experience, USDA approved organic essential oils are pretty reliable, so I would start there and check reviews.

Hyaluronic Acid

Hyaluronic acid (hyaluronan) is a natural substance produced by your body that functions primarily to retain water and keep tissues hydrated. It’s a popular skincare method that can be applied to the face as a serum or taken orally as a supplement. It’s also used in cosmetic dermal fillers like Juvederm. I’ve had Juvederm lip fillers before and let me be very clear: they are everything.

Users of hyaluronic acid report wrinkle reduction, increased elasticity, suppleness, firmness, and brightness. Since introducing hyaluronic acid into my skincare regime, I’ve definitely noticed the dark circles under my eyes lessen, and the overall suppleness of my face improved. There is some scientific evidence to indicate hyaluronic acid’s benefit in anti-aging, wrinkle reduction, and moisturizing.

My preference is to apply it as a serum. I’ve used Cosmedica Skincare Pure Hyaluronic Acid Serum for almost two years now. It’s natural, organic, vegan, paraben-free, oil-free, and has no dyes, fragrances, or fillers. So, there you go. It’s the purest purity a madgirl earth goddess is going to find without extricating it straight from another person’s watery tissue matter with a syringe.

Margarite Tinted Zinc Cream

Yall. I’ve been using this religiously for like six years now. You can buy it on Amazon here.

You will buy it on Amazon there.

When I break out, the first thing I want to do is slather on the concealer and forget all about it. Out of sight, out of mind, out of memory, out of the eyes of anyone else. But I know – I know – you’re not supposed to do that, just like you’re not supposed to pop zits no matter how satisfying it would be. I know the rules, so back off.

What makes this cream so great is that it’s an acne treatment, but it’s also the texture and tint of concealer. So, instead of worsening acne with makeup, you can cover it with zinc cream and also be treating it. I mean, if that’s not the American dream…

The active ingredient is 4% sulfur. In terms of acne treatment, sulfur works similarly to benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid in drying the skin surface to soak up the excess sebum. See uuuuuuu.

Beauty Nymph Spa Home Facial Steamer

No really, that’s what it’s called. This is the beauty nymphs’ gift to humankind, and their chosen distributor is Amazon. You can check it out here.

Basically, this is a humidifier that you can stick your giant face into like Harry Potter sticks his giant face into that memory bowl in Dumbledore’s office. Y’all know what I’m talking about. Don’t play.

It’s called a Pensieve, and you can’t afford it. Move on.

So, what can steam offer besides a 10-minute treat-yo-self session? Turns out, quite a bit.

Benefits of Steaming

Photo by Artem Mizyuk on Pexels.com
Cleansing

Steaming cleanses the skin by opening pores and removing excess dirt and grime accumulated throughout the day. This is especially great if you live in a city or a town, or a suburb, or basically anywhere that has air and isn’t a rainforest. Oh yeah, we’ve got a pretty dire air pollution problem. Whaaat.

That’s right. Air pollution is so terrible and widespread that 91% of the global population lives in places that exceed the World Health Organization’s air quality limits. Remember in 2017 when London reached its legal annual air pollution limit within 5 days of the new year? Again, that’s annual legal limit. In 5 days. LOL. No wonder I developed asthma and had to wear a surgeon’s mask over my face. Currently, I live in Houston, TX. which is ranked 9th in the nation for ozone pollution.

Cute, cute, cute, cute, cuuuute.

So yeah, wherever you are, there’s a veil of pollution forming over your face right now. Obviously, this is doing wonders for your skin, so wash your face, then steam the remnants of that grimy shit off.

Acne

Steaming can improve acne by clearing away impurities, trapped sebum, and acne-causing bacteria. Add a couple drops of tea tree oil to the water for the added antibacterial benefits.

Hydration & Moisture

Steaming hydrates and moisturizes skin. It increases permeability allowing for greater absorption of topical ointments and serums, and it promotes collagen production, which is the key to youthful skin.

Allergies, Sinuses & Respiratory Health

Steaming is great for clearing sinuses and congestion because warm water vapor helps loosen mucus and soothe inflammation in the nasal passage, throat, and lungs. This makes it a handy device to have around when you catch a cold or any other upper respiratory infection, as well as when allergies flare up.

I use my steamer when I feel an asthma attack coming on, and add a few drops of eucalyptus oil to help soothe my airways and aid breathing.

Note: I am NOT saying that a plastic steamer from Amazon can act as a substitute for inhalers or cure respiratory infections. Please chill.

And remember to be safe, not stupid.

The Beauty Nymph steamer comes with a nasal mask and a facial mask that twist on and off easily. Just make sure you secure the mask into the locked position before lifting or carrying the steamer while it’s on. Trust me. That water is boiling. You may think this obvious since it’s a steamer, but some of us forget and end up carrying those burns with us as permanent reminders of our stupidity.

To reiterate, never lift the Beauty Nymph steamer without ensuring the mask is in the locked position.

Dermal Face Masks

I’m not going to lie to you. These are Korean face masks, but I promise the fad is warranted. They’re great. It’s like laying a sheet of hyaluronic acid on your face for twenty minutes. You can get a 24-pack for like $14, and it comes with a variety of masks that have names like Rose, Apricot, Aloe, Cucumber, Royal Jelly, Vegetable Placenta, Snail, and SYN-AKE. So, they’re pulling no punches. You know exactly what you’re getting with these babies.

To prep my skin, I like to use the Beauty Nymph facial steamer for 10 minutes first, then apply the mask and lie on my bed for 20 minutes looking like Leatherface.

SKINovative Microdermabrasion Exfoliating Skin Scrub

Exfoliating (in moderation) is a crucial part of skincare routines because it helps remove dry and dead skin cells and that sweet layer of grime.

Now, this is a serious exfoliating scrub. It’s what they use in marine training camps to toughen up new recruits (it’s not). If you’ve waxed any part of your body or been run over by an eighteen-wheeler, you’ll breeze right through this. Just imagine rubbing your face with a gloop of mud that has tiny crumbles of gravel in it. That’s all this is.

And now that I’ve sold the shit out of this product, you can go ahead and buy it here.

Honestly, it’s a good scrub. I wouldn’t use it more than once a week, but my face feels flawless as silk after I do. Probably because I’ve shed an entire layer of skin like a reptile, but that’s what it takes to be reborn.

Microneedle Derma Roller

More specifically, Sdara Skincare Microneedle Derma Roller .25mm. This was the first brand of dermaroller I ever bought, and it really was a win on the first try. Since you’re supposed to discard the rollers after about three months, I ended up trying three other brands before realizing Sdara > everyone and everything.

If you’ve never tried microneedling, you can read more about it here. Basically, you roll the spiky wheel over facial areas you want to smooth, brighten, or firm, and it creates little puncture wounds that stimulate collagen production. Sounds fun, I know, but of all the skincare approaches I’ve ever tried, I’ve never seen such immediate visible results.

Listen, I don’t want to bullshit you. I have no motive. It’s not like I work for these companies, and I’m not getting a commission, unfortunately. So believe me when I tell you that jade rollers are a joke, but dermarollers are king.

I use the dermaroller on my lips, forehead, and under eyes. Within 24-hours, the shadows and bags are gone from my eyes – I mean gone – and the creases in my forehead are noticeably smoother. I have an overall facial appearance that is just brighter and healthier. Make sure you use some sort of serum with a dermaroller, like the hyaluronic acid serum or a Vitamin C serum like this one. Never roll spikes over a dry face, my gaad. After microneedling, I like to apply a touch of Neosporin ointment, so nothing gets into my tiny wounds. Then I wait a bit before nourishing my face with the gift of Palmer’s Cocoa Butter. Delish.

Note: for a few hours after application, your face will be red and sensitive, so I wouldn’t recommend microneedling an hour before your boss’s gallery opening charity gala benefit ceremony. You’ll look rough. Also, don’t get carried away. Put at least two weeks between each use. Give your poor skin a break.

Conclusion

Hopefully, there was something in this post that you don’t already use, and that managed to intrigue you. As I mentioned before, I don’t work for these companies so you can be sure I actually believe in the products. My sole motive for sharing is the hope that something on this list might benefit you on your road to health and beauty.

Mainly because I don’t want to look at your ugly faces.

Homemade Essential Oil Moisturizer that Benefits Every Skin Type

Homemade Essential Oil Moisturizer that Benefits Every Skin Type

You knew this was coming. You can’t read posts about skincare and not have essential oils shoved in your face. Not in this day and age. And while my life’s work is to avoid being basic in every way, the truth is…I’m basic. I have a pair of grey Uggs that aren’t even real Uggs. They’re some random knock-off brand that look and feel shitty. My point is, I ride the essential oil train with the rest of them. Know why?

  1. I’m basic
  2. Essential oils are fucking fantastic.

That’s right.

Essential oils are fantastic.

Come on. They smell good, feel good, address certain ailments, improve your skin, and some even taste good. You can wear them as a perfume, mix them into your lotion, or add a few drops to your humidifier or vaporizer to freshen up your home instead of burning overpriced and potentially harmful candles.

Plus, essential oils offer a whole host of wellness gifts. Aromatherapy has been shown to support healthy moods, minimize stress, and help relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression (but, like, don’t get carried away – you should definitely call up your doctor if you’re thinking of tossing out your antidepressants because you bought some lavender oil at Whole Foods).

All I’m really trying to say is that essential oils are fantastic, okay.

But you didn’t come here for a comprehensive overview of all the ways essential oils RULE. You came here for fabulous skin, and you’re going to get it.

Essential Oil Moisturizer Combo

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Okay, so this is a special gathering of the essential oil skin society because everyone is welcome. Dry skin, oily skin, normal skin – doesn’t matter. Whether you’re looking to improve elasticity, reduce wrinkles, clear acne, smooth blemishes, or just give your skin a sweet blast of hydration, you’re in for a treat. This recipe has something for everyone.

Because essential oils are fucking fantastic.

Tea Tree + Rosehip + Rose Geranium = Bliss

Tea Tree

Tea tree oil is antibacterial, antimicrobial, antiviral, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory – so, basically the AR-15 of essential oils. It’s great for acne and irritation, and better for eczema than zinc oxide. And guess what? It works for dry skin and oily skin. I tend to be an oily-skinned grease monster. If you have oily skin like me, then you may have thought it best to steer clear of putting oil on top of oil on top of oil. But actually, tea tree oil reduces oiliness and pore size. It really is an elixir straight from the clouds of Mt. Olympus (no source for that, but I know what I know). Tea tree oil should never be applied directly to the skin, so unless you want to end up like Viserys Targaryen, you’re going to need a carrier oil.

Rosehip

Rosehip oil is the color of sun drops and the most beautiful flower dew mountain of carrier oils. It actually comes from the fruit of a rosebush (who knew rose bushes produced edible fruit? Not me). My face goes through some sort of Benjamin Button transition after I apply it because I swear I’m momentarily made of baby skin. Rosehip is packed with hydrating fatty acids and antioxidants, with Vitamin A and anti-inflammatory properties. In 2015, a clinical study published in Clinical Interventions in Aging reported that 8 weeks of treatment with rosehip oil “showed statistically significant improvements”[2] in wrinkles, crows-feet, skin moisture, and elasticity. And, like, it does. Trust me. I mean, if the science wasn’t enough to convince you.

Rose Geranium

Rose geranium oil is extracted from rose-scented geranium plants. Studies have shown it to have anti-inflammatory properties, which can reduce eye puffiness and signs of aging. It also has anti-fungal properties. And it gives off a great fragrance meaning you can wear this sweet three-oil moisturizer as a perfume too.

But honestly, the rose geranium is disposable. I just like it. I think it adds to the recipe, but you can toss it if you only want to pay for two oils. Tea tree + Rosehip = done deal.

What to buy

I use Zongle Therapeutics Tea Tree and Rose Geranium oils. Previously, I used their Rosehip Oil too and would totally recommend it. Recently, I switched to Teddie Organics Rosehip Oil because I’m a child of the Millenial revolution, and when I ran out of my most recent bottle, I wanted the new bottle to arrive with Prime delivery speed. I wanted it now, okay. So, after scrutinizing what Amazon had to offer, I settled on Teddie and never looked back.

Of course, there are tons of quality essential oil brands out there. There’s also a lot of garbage. In my experience, USDA approved organic brands tend to be reliable, so I would start there. Both the Zongle tea tree and rose geranium were extracted using steam distillation, which is fine, but if you’re looking for something as close as possible to the chemical composition of the plant from which it was extracted, look for essential oils that use CO2 extraction. Cold-press extraction is great for fruits, particularly citrus peels. Both the Teddie and Zongle rosehips are cold-pressed. You can find out more about extraction methods here.

A final perk of using essential oils as a moisturizer is that they last so long. I bought my rose geranium six months ago, and I’ve only used about half – and that’s in the small 15 ml bottle. You buy a 4 oz bottle of tea tree oil, and that’s it. You’re done. Set for life.

Method

Drop the oil straight into your palm and swirl in around with your finger. Don’t get fancy with a Petri dish. It’s not worth it.

Morning

6-7 drops rosehip

3 drops tea tree

2 drops rose geranium

Rub into face.

Note: if you’re putting on makeup straight after, good. It makes it look so much better. However, since the oils are so fresh, you could look a little shiny, so it might be worth investing in a softening, anti-shine primer. My favorite is Revlon Photoready Perfecting Primer.

Evening

5-6 drops rosehip, 3-4 drops tea tree, rub into face.

5-6 drops rosehip, 2-3 drops rose geranium, rub into face.

Keep rubbing until your skin feels as smooth as a Benjamin Button.

Note: you may need to alter the number of drops depending on what brands you use and what suits your face.

Conclusion

That’s it. That’s all I wanted to tell you. Combine tea tree, rosehip, and rose geranium, and you’ve got yourself a great moisturizer. Probably could have told you that in 50 words or less. But where’s the fun in that?

Anyway, I hope you’ll try this out so we can share the benefits of having Aphrodite-Apollo sunstar face skin. Otherwise known as the curious case of Benjamin Button.

References

[1] Phetcharat, L et al. “The effectiveness of a standardized rose hip powder, containing seeds and shells of Rosa canina, on cell longevity, skin wrinkles, moisture, and elasticity.” Clinical interventions in aging vol. 10 1849-56. 19 Nov. 2015, doi:10.2147/CIA.S90092

10 Songs To Spark Your Inner Boss Bitch

10 Songs To Spark Your Inner Boss Bitch

Ain’t worried ’bout no shit that don’t pay my bills.

Raja Kumari, Mute

Did you start your day by hitting the snooze button one time for every year you’ve been alive? When it was time to get up, did you petulantly slide down the side of your bed like Alex Mack morphing into goo? Did coffee make you feel more awake but also more aware that this day is shit and can get in the sea? If this sounds like you, look no further.

The following is the fuel you need to spark your inner boss bitch. Because you own today. You own rush hour. You own parallel parking on a street 5 miles from your job. You own having to hustle to avoid being late. You own being late. You own your desk. You own the water cooler. You own Snide Theresa in human resources. And if you have a shit boss, you own them too.

Here are 10 jams by badass women to give you the boss mentality you need to own the day.

Shook, Raja Kumari

Vibe: Bitch resilient.

Highlights: Crushed flax seed in the green tea / Life infinity

Takeaway: Shook when you see a deity.

Bossy, Kelis

Vibe: I’m the bitch y’all love to hate.

Highlights: Tell that man you’sa boss bitch / Make some noise, raise your hand if you’sa boss bitch / I don’t think he understands you’sa boss bitch

Takeaway: You don’t have to love me. You don’t even have to like me. But you WILL respect me.

Tomboy, Princess Nokia

Vibe: My little titties be booking cities all around the world.

Highlights: Missy Elliot can’t stand the rain.

Takeaway: My little titties and my phat belly.

Chewing Gum, Nina Nesbitt

Vibe: I could be your worst mistake.

Highlights: I’m a made-up mess / in a backless dress

Takeaway: I’m just chewing gum until the flavors gone.

Werkin Girls, Angel Haze

Vibe: All about me, bitch, fuck what you doing.

Highlights: I have been the realest since my exit near the clit.

Takeaway: I’m an undefeated bastard.

There You Go, Pink

Vibe: There you go, looking pitiful.

Highlights: I got a new man, he’s waiting out back / now what, what ya think about that?

Takeaway: Sometimes it be’s like that.

Black Panther, Lady Leshurr

Vibe: I wish a gyal would.

Highlights: Dig you out the grave I put you in and rebury ya / That’s the only time you’ll be all over social media

Takeaway: Tell a gutter gyal leave the area.

Thunder Thighs, Miss Eaves

Vibe: I’m looking good.

Highlights: Mom jeans all day why you mad tho?

Takeaway: Thighs thick, thighs juicy.

Django Jane, Janelle Monae

Vibe: This is my palace.

Highlights: Celebrated, graduated, made it pass/fail / Sassy, classy, Kool-Aid with the kale

Takeaway: We fem the future.

Did It On’em, Nicki Minaj

Vibe: Move back bugs.

Highlights: All these bitches is my sons / and I’ma go and get some bibs for ’em.

Takeaway: More talent in my mother fuckin’ left thumb.

BONUS TRACK

Flawless (ft. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie), Beyonce

Vibe: Bow down, bitches. H Town bitches.

Highlights: Feminist: the person who believes in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes.

Takeaway: I woke up like this.

Image by Natalie Cawthorne on Madgirlcity.com