Under Review: Face Masks

One of my favorite ways to wind-down after a long week is with a nice, 15-20 minute face mask. It’s one of those easy activities that makes you feel good because you’re doing something nice for your mindset and your body through making time for yourself AND doing your skin a favor!

Face masks are also something I’ve done a lot of experimenting with, since there are a wide variety to choose from. And, depending on what you want your skin to physically get out of the experience, it’s a good to have a general intention with your face mask practice going into it.

I wouldn’t have enough space in one post to talk about every face mask I’ve ever tried, especially between homemade and store-bought kinds. So here I’ve picked a few purchased masks that I’ve tried out to share my thoughts with all of you, hopefully to make the selection process easier for you the next time you’re looking for a treat at the end of a long week.

Image courtesy of amazon.com/…ent-Oil-Control/dp/B071WBXXSR

The Charcoal Mask (“Detoxifying”)

This one was all over the internet for a long time, so obviously I had to give it a shot! I tried the Cidbest Suction Black Mask. The hype around this mask was that it would actually rip the dirt that causes blackheads out from pores, and this concept made for really crazy looking videos that became crazy popular on Facebook and Instagram.

My overall opinion of this mask was confused. I thought it looked cool to have on, and it’s definitely a mess-free experience since this is a peel-off mask that dries glossy and smooth. I didn’t get the insane cleaning results promised in the viral videos, which I didn’t totally mind since I care more about the feeling of having a face-mask on. Sometimes just having one on makes you feel like you’re doing something good for your skin, and I’ve found this placebo effect to be pretty effective for maintaining a clear complexion.

My other issue with the mask was that, though having it on was a cool experience, taking it off was physically painful. Peel-off masks cling to your skin pretty tight, but it’s my understanding that I’m not alone in comparing taking this mask off to waxing. It’s not the most comfortable experience, but definitely a way to hit two birds with one stone if you’re thinking about kind of clearing your skin and DEFINITELY removing any hair on your face!

Image courtesy of anjou.com/anjou-dead-sea-mask

The Dead Sea Mud Mask (“Nourishing”)

This one actually came in a really big container, and I have to say I’m not disappointed! I’ve used my Anjou Dead Sea Mud Mask almost every week for the last year, and I really enjoy the experience every time I use it.

The only thing to get over about this mask is that there aren’t any fancy floral smells that accompany it. It doesn’t smell bad, but it doesn’t smell glorious either. It just kind of smells like a face cream. The good news about it this is that I totally believe the claim that they do not put any artificial scents into their masks, which is a plus when it comes to trying to maintain a mostly nature beauty routine.

Smells aside, this mask is very rich and creamy to apply, which I love. It’s not a peel-off, so it’s very gentle on your skin and doesn’t leave any bizarre residues after you take it off. These masks tend to fall under the “nourishing” category of face masks, and this one always leaves me feeling exactly that! There are also lots of fabulous brands out there to experiment with, and all with very consistent skincare benefits!

Image courtesy of ulta.com/cucumbers-soothing-calming-sheet-mask

The Cucumber Mask (“Calming”)

Finally, I’ve tried the Yes To Cucumber Calming Sheet Mask a few times, and overall it’s a fun mask to change things up every once in a while. I like the way it smells, but while the scent that accompanies it is pleasant, it’s also very strong. The strength of the smell can be a little overwhelming, which is why it’s not a regular part of my skincare routine.

Otherwise, this mask was great to use right before bed. Sheet masks tend to be damp and leave a shiny, sticky residue on your face, and this mask is no different. If you let the residue sit on your face overnight, though, you wake up the next morning feeling like a princess. By the next day the smell is also just a lingering scent, which is much more manageable and very calming to experience throughout the day.

Breakfast for Your Best Self

I’ve always been a grand advocate of eating breakfast. There are lots of benefits to starting your day early, and there are even more benefits to powering your early start with a good breakfast.

It’s so important to me, in fact, that I am dedicating an entire blog post to the benefits and importance of breakfast, as well as how to convert yourself to a breakfast-person if you’re not one already!

If You’re “Not a Breakfast Person”

First, I totally understand where you’re coming from, especially if you’re expected to get to work or class early. Eating at 7am doesn’t always sound exactly appetizing, especially if the night before you had a hard time sleeping or if you’re feeling under the weather.

The good news is, there are lots of ways to ease your body into enjoying food in the morning. For starters, don’t eat dinner super close to when you go to bed. The more time you give yourself to digest your dinner before you sleep and then through the night, the more likely you are to be hungry the next morning. So stay away from the late-night snacks, and who knows, you might even find yourself craving a good breakfast the next morning!

Also, if food in the morning generally is difficult for you to stomach, there are both supplements and baby steps you can take to getting to a point that food in the morning is a digestible concept. Blessed Thistle is a fantastic herb to put in tea that can help regulate digestion, along with bringing tons of other health benefits like improving your wound healing abilities and overall respiratory health. I would also recommend starting your breakfasts’ light, such as with Naked Juice smoothies or over-night oats.

Breakfast Combats Jet-lag

Not only does breakfast help you jump-start your day, it can actually help you combat jet-lag when you’re traveling! I recently had the pleasure of sitting down to talk with Dr. Jerome Menet, who does research on circadian rhythms in mice at Texas A&M University. Many of his recent studies have shows (along with countless others) that mammalian circadian rhythms are not only dictated by when we wake up, go to sleep, or what type of light we are exposed to, but also when we eat and how much we eat.

He explained to me that actually eating in the morning allows our bodies to start our metabolism at the same time that we have to start functioning, both mentally and physically. He then told me that this was why, on international flights, guests are often served meals according to the time of their destination city, not where they were coming from.

“It helps get your body on track. Even if you have to wake up to eat food at the right time in a new time zone, do it! It will help your body better understand when it is supposed to wake up and go to bed,” Menet explained.

I also asked him if he thought that, overall, breakfast was an important meal.

“Obviously!” he responded. “People are not lying to you when they say, it is the most important meal of the day!”

Breakfast Aids in Weight Loss

As many of you have probably heard, breakfast can also help aid in weight loss. Breakfast helps your body turn-on metabolism faster, which means you have more hours of the day that you body is looking for calories to burn!

Breakfast also replenishes the supply of energy you lost during the night before. In order for your body to start burning fat, you need carbs or glucose to start your body on the using-energy-train so that eventually it will start using some of your fat stores to keep you going as well.

Breakfast also helps keep you feeling full throughout the day, and when you feel well-fed from the start of your day, you’re more likely to make good choices as the day goes on about food and exercise practices!

Breakfast Food is Fun

Honestly, this section is just going to be tempting photos of breakfast food because TRULY there is something for everyone!

A Guide to “Minerals” Part 1

One of the reasons why I got into writing in the first place was to be able to communicate science to a wider audience. My degree is in molecular and cellular biology, and through my writing my goal has always been to reassure people that science is around to do more good than bad.

A big thing that took me a long time to understand about nutritional science was the concept of “vitamins and minerals”. I thought this phrase was so vague. In school, they teach you the basics, like the way we get vitamin D from the sun and vitamin C form oranges. But the second half of that statement (“minerals”) is barely ever addressed, and all the way from my high school education through my undergraduate program, STILL no one has really explained what this means to me.

So I decided to investigate myself, and the results have been very interesting! Thus, I’m going to try my best to relay what I’ve learned here. And since there are so many great things to talk about here, this is sort of a part one to a saga of posts aimed at answering the questions: what are minerals, and why do we need them?

Methyl Folate: Happy Blood

Methyl folate is a compound that people take with the goal of providing their bodies with folate. Folate is found naturally in lots of foods, like asparagus, beets and Brussels sprouts. It’s super important to get enough folate in our diets because it’s important for the healthy formation of lots of cell types in our bodies, but specifically, it’s required to make red blood cells.

Folate helps red blood cells form to the correct size and shape. It sounds like no big deal, but if red blood cells don’t come out round (instead of oval shaped) and the right shape (not too big, not too small) they can’t carry oxygen to the muscles the way that they are supposed to. The outcome of not having enough folate in our diets can actually lead to a type of anemia!

So folate is important, and methyl folate is the form in which our bodies can get supplemental folate as well as what we get form our diets (like the ones made by Douglas Laboratories, which is a great company for more informative vitamin and mineral facts!).

Calcium Citrate: Happy Bones

I’m sure it’s not surprising to anyone to hear that calcium is very good for your bones. I had no idea just how good though! Studies have found that bone diseases such as osteoporosis can be treated with a base of vitamin D and calcium citrate, which is great because both of those things can easily be found in our diets and lifestyles already!

Specifically, calcium is in foods like milk, figs, broccoli and kale.

Calcium plays a key role in a process generally called “bone remodeling”. Our bodies constantly remove small amounts of calcium from our bones, and replenish it with fresh calcium. It does this because, while calcium helps our bones out probably the most by keeping them structurally sound, it also has a lot of other roles in the body like helping our muscles contract and our blood clot.

Our bones act as a sort of storage area for calcium so that we always have some if we need it, so it’s important to give the body enough calcium to replenish our bones with to also keep them strong. Calcium citrate happens to be the way, through a supplement, our bodies can get the calcium it needs.

Magnesium Oxide: Happy Everything

Finally for this post, I’m going to talk about a rockstar mineral: magnesium! Again, magnesium oxide is the way to get this element into your body if not through foods like dark chocolate, smooth peanut butter, and brown rice.

It’s kind of insane how much magnesium does for our bodies. It’s a multitasking mineral that shows up in our hearts, immune systems, bones and nerves. In addition, it plays a role in regulating blood glucose levels, and because of this can help with diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure.

It does so many things in our bodies, it’s actually involved in over 300 chemical reactions that take place throughout our cells every singe day. That fact alone was one of the ones that convinced me that not only should I know about all these things my body needs to stay healthy, but actually that it’s super cool to get to read about and learn more about.

So if you’re ready for more science-y posts like this one, get ready! I’m ready to learn more and I can’t wait to tell all of you all about it!