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.

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

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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

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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

5 Remedies That Will Change The Way You Sleep

5 Remedies That Will Change The Way You Sleep

We’ve all been there.

Tossing and turning through the night. Lying awake in bed as the minutes tick by. Each passing hour, we tell ourselves if I fall asleep now, I can still get 4 hours’ sleep…3 hours…2 hours…

We know sleep is fundamental to our health. It regulates mood, energy levels, and cognitive function. Without it, our health risks increase, and our abilities to concentrate and think creatively suffer. It takes a toll on our mental health, affects our school/job performance, and is just all around the worst. But you knew that – it’s why you’re here. You’re tired. And you know what? You’re not alone. Roughly 1 in 3 Americans aren’t getting enough quality sleep. So what can you do to increase your chances of getting the blissful sleep you need?

Consider the following 5 supplements. All are easily attained, and pure magic when it comes to the zzz’s.

DiScLaImEr: Consider speaking with your doctor before taking any new medications or supplements. If you’re on other medications, do your own research or check with your doctor before introducing new supplements/medications to avoid negative interactions.

CBD Oil

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Okay, YES. CBD oil changed my life. When I was finishing my Ph.D., I was so unbelievably stressed and wired and overwhelmed that sleep became a 3-4 hour thing every other night. On top of that, I only managed to get to sleep at all by taking Melatonin + some OTC sleep aid like Unisom or Advil PM, all of which I hate because they’re no good for your health long term and make you groggy and tired the next day (but I figured, not as tired as not sleeping for 6 months). It was terrible, so please don’t try this at home. Let’s just smack a Surgeon General’s Warning on that life.

When a friend suggested CBD oil, I was all for it because I’m a goddess of the earth, so I’m always up for trying new natural remedies. She swore by it, and while I wasn’t convinced it would be enough to get me to sleep without the Unisom, I bought a bottle, and oh. my. gaaad. It was everything.

By taking one dropper an hour before bed, I fall asleep easily without being struck by overwhelming tiredness. I sleep through the night, the quality of sleep is amazing, and I always wake up feeling fresh. I don’t think anything has changed the way I sleep more than CBD oil.

I started out with 250 mg and took anywhere from half a dropper (0.5 mL) to a full dropper (1 mL). After a while, I upped to 500 mg, and that’s been working well. I buy from Sacred Leaf, either the CBD VG Tincture or CBG Oil. They have a variety of flavors, and you can drop it straight into your mouth or mix it into a drink. I’ve also bought from Bluebird Botanicals, which is another quality product and a bit cheaper than Sacred Leaf, but they don’t have all the tasty flavors.

**Update 07/12/2019: I’ve just had the brand cbdMD recommended to me by a local CBD tea line distributor in my area. I’ve done some research and checked reviews, and it’s definitely a quality product in a more affordable price range. I haven’t had a chance to try it myself yet, but I’ll post updates when I do.

The downside

High-quality CBD oil is pricey. You can find cheaper CBD products on Amazon, but they’ll almost certainly be diluted and less effective than the real stuff. Still, that doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from it. I’ve bought CBD oil on Amazon when money’s been tight, and it still did something. Basically, it was better than nothing.

Note: Before buying any CBD products (especially the ones on sites like Amazon), do your research. Make sure it’s a reputable product. Read the reviews. Do an external Google search about the company or seller. Make sure they list any additional ingredients. Read up on any ingredients you don’t recognize. Don’t get conned into buying a tiny bottle of mint-flavored olive oil for $25. Or worse, something potentially harmful.

5-HTP

5-HTP (5-Hydroxytryptophan) is the precursor to the neurotransmitter serotonin, otherwise known as the “happiness hormone.” While there is not enough scientific evidence to support the use of 5-HTP as a treatment for any condition, there have been some indications of its potential benefits in minimizing symptoms of depression & anxiety, migraines, insomnia, and even promoting weight loss. Because serotonin is converted into melatonin, 5-HTP is potentially useful as a sleep aid.

I take 5-HTP for both sleep and mood. If I’m having trouble getting tired or winding down, 5-HTP is my number one. Unlike CBD oil, it’ll hit you with that sleepiness and have you dropping off before you know it.

I buy NOW Foods 5-HTP capsules on Amazon, both in 50 mg and 100 mg. They can also be found at pretty much any health food store. I tend to stick with 50 mg for sleep, and only take 100 mg if I’m extra wired.

The downside

Take 5-HTP too late, and you’ll be sleepy the next day. Also, use it sparingly. Try not to take it too many days in a row because overly-elevated serotonin levels can lead to anxiety, agitation, and restlessness. If you develop any of these symptoms after taking 5-HTP, stop for at least a week. If symptoms persist, this could indicate Serotonin Syndrome (Toxicity), which is incredibly dangerous and potentially life-threatening. Speak to your doctor immediately.

Magnesium

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Magnesium is a natural mineral with a zillion benefits, so don’t be surprised if it pops up on every single post I write about health/mental health/well-being – especially, because 50% of Americans don’t consume the Estimated Average Requirement (EAR).

I take 200 mg of magnesium 3x daily (morning, midday, evening). It won’t induce sleepiness or put you straight to bed, but magnesium is essential for regulating neurotransmitters and melatonin, which will help calm your body and mind. So, if it’s racing thoughts keeping you up at night, magnesium might be just what you need to shut them down.

My go-to brand is Doctor’s Best High Absorption Magnesium, 100% Chelated. My morning dose comes in my multivitamin, which I customize on VitaminLab to include my preferred type (magnesium glycinate) and dosage (200mg).

Theanine

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L-Theanine is an amino acid found in certain tea leaves and mushrooms. It promotes relaxation without causing drowsiness or a surge in energy, meaning you can take in the morning and/or night.

I use NOW Foods L-Theanine, 200 mg or Doctor’s Best L-Theanine with Suntheanine, 150 mg. I take it in the evening to help shake off the stress of the day. The effects are subtle – so subtle that sometimes I’ll think it’s not doing anything and stop taking it. That’s when I realize how effective it really is at taking the edge off.

Inositol

Initially, I introduced inositol into my supplement regime after reading about its potential benefits for PCOS and ADHD. When I took my first ever dose, it was around 2 PM as I sat down to get some much-needed work done. Thirty minutes later I was like OH NICE, I can take this to go to sleep at night, and my work was done for the day.

Note: there is scientific evidence to suggest benefits of inositol supplementation for PCOS, but insufficient evidence that it has any effect on ADHD or insomnia. So again, do your own research, speak to your doctor, enroll in a master’s for holistic medicine – whatever you need to do – because all I can tell you on this one is my experience, and *spoiler* my experience isn’t backed by science (though sleep benefits of inositol aren’t disputed by science either). Anyway, my experience is that inositol brought on a noticeable cloud of drowsiness when I took it at 2 PM and has been a reliable sleep-aid for me ever since.

My method is to take two capsules of NOW Foods Choline & Inositol, 500 mg about an hour before I want to sleep. I take the inositol-choline combo because of evidence indicating choline can benefit asthma. If you have no need for choline, there are plenty of inositol-only capsules, including NOW Foods Inositol 500 mg.

The downside

The sleep-inducing effect of inositol isn’t as overt as the 5-HTP, but don’t be fooled. Take it too late, and there is a possibility you’ll feel some slight grogginess the next morning.

Conclusion

If you’re sleepy and you know it, shake your meds. Goodnight.

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