• Take a Day Trip (out of the City)!

    📍Dia:Beacon

    If you and your “Instagram Boo” are looking for new backdrops (*cough* holiday cards *cough*), look no further.

    I dragged mine—willingly, of course—to Beacon, New York.

    Tucked neatly alongside a slight bend in the Hudson River, 89 minutes north from Grand Central Terminal, Dia:Beacon, a modern art museum and enclave of all things trĂšs chic, is the perfect destination for a Saturday getaway.

    Home to 21 exhibits, both visiting and long term, the museum, a former Nabisco box-printing facility, spans 160,000 square feet in exhibition space. With collections that include Dan Flavin’s untitled (to a man, George Mcgovern) 2, Robert Irwin’s Excursus: Homage to the SquareÂł, and Walter De Maria’s 360˚ I Ching / 64 Sculptures, Dia:Beacon—its expansive grounds and impressive artwork—served as an ideal date destination.

    Robert Irwin‘s garden entrance to Dia:Beacon—a quaint nod to the manicured lawns in Paris, don’t you think?

    To make the 9:43 a.m. Poughkeepsie train, I was kindly reminded to wake up at 8:30 a.m. Coffee downed and scrambled eggs devoured—a little past 9:00 a.m.—my handsome date and I were out the door.

    Pro tip: if you’re taking the 9:43 a.m. train from Grand Central Terminal to Beacon, New York, prepare to board by 9:30 a.m.

    With the amount of ambitious hikers ready to conquer Bull Hill, you’ll be fighting them for a seat on the train. The majority of these early morning passengers get off at Cold Spring, a stop or two before Beacon, so the idea is to SIT DOWN FAST before you have to stand for the majority of your ride.

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    Sol LeWitt’s Wall Drawing #1211. The man drew the lines by hand. Bless.

    Train tickets roundtrip, off-peak, are $32 per person and the museum entrance fee, for adults, comes in at $15.

    There’s a Metro North Getaway deal for $36.50 total, but unfortunately, I couldn’t figure out how to work the system. Still, $94 for a day trip worlds away from the hustle and bustle of the city was completely worth it.

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    Michael Heizer‘s North, East, South, West.

    Dia:Beacon has a pretty relaxed photography policy so as long as you’re mindful of your flash, all snapping—except for pictures of Walter De Maria’s 360˚ I Ching / 64 Sculptures—is fair game.

    Regardless whether or not you’re shy, there will be visitors dressed to the nines posing next to the various installations.

    At the same time, there will also be visitors who are genuinely there for the artwork so regardless where you fall on the vanity spectrum, you’re guaranteed to have a good time.

    Debating whether or not to go for the pose? I say you channel Nike and just do it!

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    Dan Flavin’s untitled, 1970.

    G and I wandered the four-story establishment without much of a method in mind. I enjoyed anticipating the artworks that waited ever-so-patiently behind every corner, staircase, and wall.

    If you prefer to plan, strategize, and optimize your route, you can pick up a floor plan at the entrance of the building.

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    We, for example, stumbled across this Dan Flavin early on and by accident.

    Three hours, one cappuccino, one latte, and one chocolate-dipped macaroon later, we were both ready to go home.

    I napped so soundly on the 2:08 p.m. train back that I actually drooled.

    For those eager to rally, however, Storm King Art Center, the super cool sculpture park, is well within driving distance and also worth a visit!

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    Go with someone who indulges your crazy. You’ll end up with better pictures and better memories!

    What to read up more on Dia:Beacon or the Dia Foundation? Click here and here respectively.

    Otherwise, I bid you adieu with a successful Instagram taken by my Instagram Boo.

    No paparazzi, please đŸ™đŸŒ || đŸ“· @gthemen29

    A post shared by Paula (Not Your Average) Ho (@paulayjho) on

    [googlemaps https://www.google.com/maps/embed?pb=!1m18!1m12!1m3!1d2988.1641267998098!2d-73.98482968501688!3d41.500717979253864!2m3!1f0!2f0!3f0!3m2!1i1024!2i768!4f13.1!3m3!1m2!1s0x89dd33d553ec0015%3A0x8ef011fb802a94fe!2sDia%3ABeacon!5e0!3m2!1sen!2sus!4v1478027935106&w=750&h=400]

     

  • What is Lanolin?

    A magical oil made from rainbows and pixie dust. Okay, maybe not quite, but it does come close!

    Kirsten Carriol Headshot

    Kirsten Carriol, founder of Lano.

    The older I’ve gotten, the more careful I am with what I put onto my skin. Perhaps cystic acne put the fear of God in me, perhaps the thought of impending wrinkles and fine lines make me cringe, perhaps the very idea that our skin, yes, our skin, drinks up 60 percent of whatever we slather onto it in 26 seconds or less, shed light on the alarming indifference I once placed on my body’s largest organ. Either way, gone is my naĂŻvetĂ©, and in its place, an insatiable thirst to beautify with only the most natural, human and animal-friendly products.

    Enter, lanolin–a truly magical and moisturizing ingredient I’ve never heard of until Kirsten Carriol, founder of Lano, talked about it at her US launch party with Net-a-Porter this past spring. Besides the very basics of rescuing chapped lips, it’s also commonly used to heal a variety of wounds.

    A multi-purpose beauty product that does it all? Seriously, who would have thought that actually existed?

    What is lanolin and how is it different from petroleum jelly?

    Lanolin is a substance found naturally on the coats of sheep. Sheep need lanolin to keep their fleece protected and dry throughout the year. Lanolin is removed from shorn wool, after a sheep’s annual shear, without harm to the animal so it’s 100 percent developed by nature.

    The molecular structure of lanolin closely resembles your skin’s lipids more so than any other ingredient on earth, natural or synthetic.

    It’s also semi-occlusive which means that the substance is a brilliant, breathable barrier that helps hydrate your skin from within!

    Lano has a super advanced grade of lanolin. Can you walk us through how that’s harvested?

    Sheep are shorn every summer otherwise they get hot and their fleece gets heavy as it continues to grow. After shearing, the fleece gets washed and the lanolin is removed in the process.

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    Exhibit A: Chris, the insanely overgrown sheep.

    Lanolin is essentially an oil on the wool that when washed, rises to the top of the water, and is skimmed off the top during the washing process.

    The wool is then used by the garment industry to make jumpers and woolen fabrics. The lanolin, on the other hand, is purified at different levels for different uses. Industrial grade, or very raw lanolin, is used to lubricate machinery while medical grade, or hyper pure lanolin, is used in hospitals for wound healing.

    At Lano, we use an ultra medical grade of lanolin that is three times more pure than regular medical grade. Not only is it the highest quality of lanolin in the world, but it’s also made exclusively for Lano.

    When purifying lanolin, the main gist is to remove all impurities and pesticides that have also collected on a sheep’s wool–think tractor exhaust fumes.

    Why is lanolin so highly praised in the medical world and prescribed for skin conditions like eczema?

    Medical grade lanolin, the best grade of lanolin, is named rightfully so because it’s safe to use in a medical capacity. Every hospital in the western world uses this substance to heal surgical wounds and burn wounds. It can also double as newborn nursing cream!

    Instead of settling for medical grade lanolin, I one-upped what already existed.

    I wanted to create a product that offered all the benefits of lanolin without any of the negative traits that made lanolin, well, unappealing.

    You don’t see lanolin of this quality in any other products on the market because the refining process is both timely and costly.

    Because lanolin is semi-permeable, penetrates deep into multiple layers of the skin, and has a molecular structure that mimics human skin oils, it’s an excellent treatment for eczema where severe dryness is the number one problem.

    Okay, but question: is lanolin thick or sticky? I’m always nervous about using products that will weigh on my skin and rub off on my clothes!

    Our lanolin is completely colorless and odorless. It’s a non-sticky and creamy goodness that doesn’t weigh heavily on your skin so need to worry about that! A fine layer will absorb just fine!

    Can you tell us a little bit more about your personal attachment to lanolin and how Lano came to be through your quest for the perfect lip balm?

    Sure! I grew up around lanolin. My grandparents have a sheep farm in southern Australia so my family and I would always visit them during school holidays.

    My father’s a DNA scientist who prefers to use natural and effective products. He’s been using lanolin on my siblings and me since we were kids! He taught me that the molecular structure of lanolin most closely resembles human skin lips, making it very compatible for skin uses.

    As the years passed, I left the farm for bigger cities like London and Sydney. There, I discovered lip glosses, lipsticks, and lacquers. They were just so pretty, bright, and lovely. Surely they had to be even better than the lanolin I used when I was a child! Sadly, they weren’t.

    It wasn’t until 2003 when I was was about to board a plane for my honeymoon that I realized the thought of dry air-conditioning, and the lack of lip balms to protect my lips from chapping, was extremely depressing. It dawned on me that nothing I’ve tried ever matched the results of lanolin. Why was there no product on the market that was simple, pure-lanolin-based, and nourishing? It was upon boarding that plane that I decided to create Lano and make lanolin a “hero” ingredient.

    You have this magical way of curing chapped lips. It’s honestly better than any exfoliating scrub out there! Why does leaving Lano‘s Original 101 Ointment on for a couple minutes before slowly rubbing off the dead skin work so effectively?

    The lanolin will absorb into the healthy skin as well as any dead skin layers sitting on top. It’s the dead skin layers that you want to gently remove without any hash scrubbing (which will damage your fragile lip skin).

    The lanolin will make the dead skin layers soft and crumbly so when you do rub the ointment off, the dead skin cells break away more easily without grabbing healthy skin with it. It’s like rubbing your heels down after soaking in a hot bath. The white, swollen dead skin cells just rub away!

    Besides lip care, what else can lanolin be used for? Do you have any beauty tips or tricks?

    I use lanolin for everything! Our hero product, the Lano 101 Ointment has an endless amount of uses. Use it to heal cracked cuticles, tame flyaways, add a glossy look to your cheek bones, or keep your brows in place! The possibilities are endless!

    I also use the 101 Ointment over the top of my lipstick for a glossy finish. It helps keep my lips hydrated.

    Lano, however, extends beyond lip care to hands and all over. Our Everywhere Multi-Cream is a great daily moisturizer and our Golden Dry Skin Salve helps rescue seriously dry skin!

    Last question! What’s next for Lano?

    We just launched in 800 Ulta stores in the United States and have plenty of exciting news to come!

     

    Do you have any beauty questions that need answering? Myths that require some investigating? Ask away in the comments below!

  • True Botanicals and The Truth Behind Aging (GIVEAWAY!)

    Our insecurities have fueled a multibillion-dollar business. At this point, aging with grace may be just as much about knowledge as it is about using serums.

    [Editor’s Note: We originally published this Q&A last Monday, August 8th, but because it was so well-received, we’re republishing it with a giveaway! Enter your details at the end of this post for a chance to win a True Botanicals face oil!]

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    Hillary Peterson, Founder and President of True Botanicals

    In an effort to better understand aging, general preventative and curative measures, as well as the products we use to alleviate our many ailments, I turned to Hillary Peterson, Founder of True Botanicals, to help me dispel some beauty industry myths.

    A melanoma and thyroid cancer survivor, Hillary created True Botanicals to fill a safety measure often ignored by the beauty industry. Her products—natural, effective, and environmentally friendly—are challenging the toxin-filled equivalents of many leading brands.

    If it takes 26 seconds for your bloodstream to absorb 60% of what you put on your skin, aren’t you wondering what you’re really slathering onto it?

    Why are the telltale signs of aging marked by wrinkles and fine lines? What does this have to do with the life cycle of our cells?

    The loss of both function and structural stability in our skin is unavoidable as age. The epidermis, or the outer most layer of our skin, thins, and our cell turnover rates slow dramatically. Together, they contribute to wrinkle formation and sagging. Understanding the causes of this process and addressing them at the source, however, can make a big difference.

    In that case, the 10-step Korean facial care routine, seems to be a trendy, popular, and pricey method of treatment loved by many. Is the extravagant and time-consuming routine really necessary?

    If budget is a consideration, my philosophy is always to buy fewer, great products.

    Less is more and quality is everything.

    I am not a big fan of the 10-step method because I personally prefer an effective and luxurious routine that is also relatively simple. True Botanicals’ philosophy is to deliver high-impact ingredients straight into your skin so they, in turn, can address the source of your aging cells. Through our research, we have found that you simply don’t need 10 steps to do that.

    I’ve always been curious about these next two question: Is there a right age to “start” taking care of the skin? Does it become a losing game when people don’t take preventative measures?

    The right age to start taking care of your skin is from birth! The key, through your early years at least, is to protect your skin from excessive sun exposure. For most people, their first wrinkles start appearing in their twenties. They then start a comprehensive skin routine as a result. When they do, we recommend a minimal routine of three simple steps:

    1. CLEANSE with a gentle cleanser that removes the daily accumulation of dirt and grime without stripping the skin of its natural oils.
    2. MOISTURIZE with an antioxidant-rich, nutritive face oil.
    3. PROTECT your face every day, rain or shine, with a non-nano zinc oxide sunscreen.

    Oh, and just a little bit more about face oils: As it turns out, that the skin care ingredient we’ve all feared most, is incredibly good for our skin. Oils, also known as lipids or essential fatty acids, occur naturally in our skin. In fact, they’re responsible for giving our skin that “healthy glow.”

    Lipids create a protective barrier that holds moisture in while keeping elements like the sun and wind out. When we age, our bodies produce fewer lipids, dehydrate the skin, and make us more prone to wrinkles. When oils are applied directly to the skin, without the interference of waxes found in lotions and creams, they are immediately absorbed into the top layers of the epidermis where they work to improve barrier function.

    By replenishing the oils you’ve lost through the natural aging process, you enable your skin to do what it does naturally–retain moisture and repel assaults from sun and wind.

    While it may seem counter intuitive to apply oil to even blemish-prone skin, it turns out that oils are far more effective than scrubs, harsh soaps, and other treatments in strengthening your skin’s barrier function, eliminating infections, calming irritations, and reducing inflammations. Because lipids dissolve lipids, the topical application of a carefully curated mix of oils can actually break up your skin congestion at its source.

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    From Left to Right: The True Botanicals Clear, Renew, and Calm Pure Radiance Facial Oil

    Why is it important to care about natural products when there are easy and cheaper alternatives?

    Ahhhh!  There are so many issues with easy, cheaper alternatives that is hard to decide where to begin. First, unfortunately, cheaper ingredients tend to be the ones that are most toxic. Second, while we do use some high-quality, safe synthetics that are actually quite expensive, the best ingredients still come from nature.

    There is a perception that ingredients created in a lab are more potent than carefully researched and curated ingredients from nature but that is not true. When we think of our bodies and what we eat, it is clear that whole ingredients from nature are the most nourishing. The same is true for our skin and the products we apply to it.

    Oh no! What then, would you say, are some chemical ingredients to steer very clear from?

    The Campaign For Safe Cosmetics Red List highlights chemicals that we should all look to eliminate from our personal care routines. It is a lot of work for to learn what to avoid and to check labels but it is well worth it.

    We, at True Botanicals, recently took an important step to seek MADE SAFEℱ certifications for all of our products. This decision reinforces our overall mission to deliver results without toxins and to push the beauty industry to do the same. Amidst a sea of misinformation, MADE SAFE is offering the most comprehensive product safety evaluation available today. We are proud to be making products that meet or exceed these rigorous standards.

    How, then, would you define beauty?

    Beauty comes from many sources, both from outside and from deep within. Beauty is authenticity and presence. It is the ability to see, connect, recognize, and appreciate all that is around us.

    Last one. Why the campaign for safe cosmetics and why True Botanicals?

    We are setting higher expectations for what you, as a customer, can expect from a product. We are teaching people to look beyond marketing hype and to focus, instead, on ingredient labels backed by solid clinical trials. After all, those tried-and-true products ultimately have the greatest impact on your skin.

    It is so rewarding to hear positive feedback on our customers–many of whom say they’ve never used a product quite like ours that has made such a big impact on their skin. Our collection of super luxurious, super concentrated, bio-active formulations delivers unparalleled results without compromising health. By eliminating the costs of the traditional distribution model and selling direct to our customers, we are able to exceed the industry norms and put a far higher quantity of high quality ingredients into our products.

     

    Do you have any beauty questions that need answering? Myths that require some investigating? Ask away in the comments below!

     

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  • How to Achieve the Perfect Fake Tan

    Orange you glad we asked an expert?

    My mother’s the Asian woman who carries a sizable umbrella, open and unapologetic, in the middle of the summer when it’s sunny, 92 degrees, and blistering hot out. Go ahead, chuckle. Laugh even. God knows that for 20 years, I did the same.

    Of course, everything changed when I realized my ugly band of freckles, the same one that oh-so-prominently lines the bridge of my nose, is permanent. Whether it the mark of a defiantly stubborn daughter or the walking proof of ultraviolet light-exposed skin, I never quite appreciated outdoor tanning as much as I did in my teenage years.

    Enter sunless tanning. My savoir! Asian I might be, but absolutely not a pale one at that!

    For those of you scared equally senseless by the thought of unnecessary hyperpigmentation, I sought out the tanning industry’s leading expert for his exact how-tos on at-home tanning.

    Hi, James! Can you tell the LoDown family a little bit more about yourself? I heard that you were drawn to self-tanning at a young age!

    James Read 2016 Head Shot for web

    James Read, founder of James Read Tan.

    I started using tanning wipes when I was 12 or 13 years old and loved the results.

    I always burn in the sun but loved being tan so self-tanning was the best option.

    I spent more than 15 years in the tanning industry building my name, creating both trends and seasonal tans.

    Since starting my own brand, I’ve introduced products that combine skincare and tanning with a specific concentration on facial tanners.

    I think we all know the dangers of actual tanning. Sun damage is no joke. Are the chemicals we’re applying to our skin via self-tanners that much better?

    DHA only reacts to the top layer of your dead skin cells. The tan doesn’t actually penetrate your skin. That’s why it fades after six or seven days when you exfoliate away the dead skin cells.

    My products incorporate skincare and tanning. Because DHA can sometimes be drying, my products simultaneously hydrate the skin.

    [Editor’s Note: DHA or dihydroxyacetone is an active ingredient derived from sugar beets and sugar canes through the fermentation of glycerin. It’s a colorless chemical that interacts with the amino acids in our dead skin cells to make them turn brown in color.]

    What are some general tips and tricks at-home tanners should know?

    For the most natural bronzed look, you should:

    • Shave and exfoliate a day before applying your tan.
    • Moisturize all dry areas to prevent them from absorbing too much tan and drying patchy.
    • Always, always, always use a tanning mitt when applying your self-tan. This makes for an easier application process. It also prevents your hands from ending up a shade or two darker than the rest of your body!
    • On that note, remember to look out for the opposite problem. Wait for as long as you can, six to seven hours after applying your self-tan, before washing your hands. This way, you won’t end up with extra pale palms.
    • Remember to apply your self-tan in sweeping motions starting from the top of your body and ending with your hands and feet.
    • Apply talcum powder around your chest and armpit area to maintain your color if you exercise frequently or sweat easily. This will stop your tan from breaking down and streaking.

    Say, for some reason, I mess up. We’re talking the fake-sick-and-hide kind of mess up. Do I really have to wait for my color to fade or can I do something to fix my problem?

    The easiest way to fix a dark tan is to find yourself a steam room and sit in it for 20 minutes. This will help take your tan down a couple shades. Otherwise, you can rub Nivea wipes over your skin to reduce the color and blend out patchy areas.

    Soaking a wash cloth in a mixture of lemon and lime juice, microwaving it for a minute or so until it’s warm, and rubbing it along your skin can also help break down the tan.

    How about Oompa Loompas? How can some people end up with such orange tans?

    They over-apply their self-tans!

    The easiest way to avoid this is to apply your tan in layers. Once you’ve reached your desired color, stop! If you aren’t sure whether or not you need an extra layer, check by taking a selfie with the flash on.

    Sometimes people can end up with unnatural colors if they forget to remove a pre-existing tan before applying a new one. It’s important to exfoliate at least once a week to remove both dead skin cells and old color. If that’s too much of a hassle, however, let current your tan fade evenly before re-applying a new one!

    Why do self-tanners have a distinct smell? Is there a way to avoid it?

    The smell you’re describing is simply your skin reacting to the tanner. You can minimize the smell by washing and moisturizing your body with fragrance free products.

    My H20 Tan Mist, for example, has a 96% natural formulation. Its scent is rosy and refreshing!

    It actually is! Can you tell me a little bit more about the magic behind your mist?

    My H20 Tan Mist is a 3-in-1 mist that combines skincare with cooling technology and a touch of self-tan. It’s created with 96% rose water, minerals and vitamins, and a small percentage of organic DHA which will give you that subtle bronzed glow.

    The formula doesn’t highlight pigmentation or age spots and doesn’t transfer onto clothing so feel free to spritz generously over your face up to three times a day. Because the mist is so fine, you won’t ever make a mistake.

    Speaking of mistakes, isn’t your Gradual Tan collection super beginner-friendly?

    Yes! I designed the product to be fool proof and to suit all skin tones, not too dark and not too light. When you apply it, it isn’t too strong on the skin. If you make a mistake, it’s not highlighted as much.

    Okay, last question! How do I go about self-tanning my face? There are all these YouTube tutorials on how to self-tan your body, but your face? Not so much.

    Ready?

    1. Rub an ice cube along your face to close your pores and prevent dark, uneven patches of color from forming before applying your self-tan.
    2. Dab coconut oil to your eyebrows to prevent self-tan buildup on your brow hairs.
    3. Apply the self-tan to your face with your hands! It’s best to use a gradual tanner so that you can feel its texture as you apply it onto your skin. Remember to wash your hands immediately after the application!
    4. Dab cotton balls with your self-tan and lightly pat them over your neck and jawline to blend your new face color in with the rest of your body.
    5. Rub a cotton bud dipped in toner along your hairline to complete the natural look.
    6. Use a hydrating face mask a few days after applying your self-tan to make it last longer.
    7. You can even use my Tantour Sculpting Duo to highlight your cheek bones and create that subtle contoured look.
    8. If you’re new to self-tanning, the H2O Tan Mist works just fine. Spray it a few times across your face and you’ll see results in about 3 to 4 hours!

     

    Do you have any beauty questions that need answering? Myths that require some investigating? Ask away in the comments below!

     

  • Everything You Should Know About Dark Under-Eye Circles

    Panda, Panda

    Panda, Panda, Panda, Panda, Panda?

    Hello there, Beautiful!

    Are you plagued by a severe case of panda eyes? Do your dark under-eye circles give you the blues? Is it safe to assume that you’re like me, at wits’ end with concealer, confused about how to remedy the situation and frustrated by your general confusion?

    Fear not. I did some much needed research.

    Medically speaking, the skin around our eyelids is called the periorbital skin. Significantly thinner than the skin that covers the rest of our bodies, the periorbital skin only measures 0.5 millimeters in thickness.

    Believe it or not, there are actually two types of dark under-eye circles. The best way to diagnose your ailment is to look straight into a mirror under natural light, lower your chin slightly, and study the shadow under your eyes. If your under-eye circles have a bluer tint, you have “Blue Circles.” If your under-eye circles have a browner tint, you have “Brown Circles.”

    Okay, cool, but what does this all mean?

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    It’s a general misconception that all under-eye circles are the result of sleep deprivation. While exhaustion may be the culprit behind most panda-eye cases, it’s not always the only one.

    Other common causes include:

    • Allergies
    • Atopic dermatitis (A condition that makes your skin red and itchy)
    • Contact dermatitis (A rash caused by a substance that comes in contact with your skin)
    • DNA (Yes, under-eye circles can be hereditary)
    • Pigmentation irregularities
    • Excessive rubbing or scratching
    • Sun exposure
    • Loss of fat or collagen

    Blue Circles

    Blue circles are most noticeable when you wake up in the morning. Because your body has been resting horizontally for an extended amount of time, oxygenated blood pools beneath your periorbital skin. When this happens, your veins expand to make room for the fluid accumulation.  The periorbital skin, thin and translucent in nature, is often unable to mask your pump veins. They, in turn, look blue because your skin only allows blue and violet wavelengths to pass through it. Depending on your skin color, your blue circles may even look greener or browner in respect to the light that is reflected back.

    If you’ve ever wondered why elderly people have prominent periorbital dark circles regardless how much they sleep, keep in mind that as we grow older, we lose the subcutaneous fat that masks the blueness below the surface of our skin. Simply put, our blue circles may get worse with age because our skin loses its elasticity and ability to regenerate.

    What you should do: There are a few over-the-counter medical options you can pursue. Topical creams with stimulating ingredients like caffeine, for example, can constrict blood vessels and temporarily boost circulation. Potent hydrators like those with hyaluronic acid, for example, pump the periorbital skin, pushing it away from the pooled blood. If you’re more into homeopathic remedies, however, placing sliced avocados, cucumber rounds, cooled black or green tea bags, or crushed mint leaves under the eye area will do just the trick.

    Brown Circles

    Brown circles or periorbital hyperpigmentation, on the other hand, is caused when more melanin is produced directly by the skin below the eyes. Triggered by chronic eye-rubbing, sun exposure, or genetics, brown circles are usually more prevalent among Asian and African American skin tones.

    What you should do: You can use a daily cream or serum with skin brightening elements like soy or citrus that will lighten the circles over time. Be sure, however, to avoid hydroquinone—lighteners for sun spots and scars. Dermatologists agree that they’re too heavy-duty for the delicate eye area. Otherwise, a natural remedy like sliced raw potatoes or a paste made from turmeric and pineapple juice left on the eye area fro 10-15 minutes and wiped off with a damp cloth will work equally well.

     

  • Eat Your Way to Healthy Summer Skin

    Five Foods That Fight Sun Damage

    For a picker, I’ve always been incredibly blessed with forgiving skin. Regardless whether I poke, prod or pick at my pimples, I rarely often scar. Naturally, when the first batch of stress-induced cystic acne broke out across my face a little over a month ago, I attempted the impossible: relieving my clogged pores of what I believed to be dead skin cells.

    Boy, oh boy, was I wrong to squeeze.

    Not only did I cause the infection to spread, but I also failed miserably at removing the “heads” from my poor face. Cystic acne, as I soon learned, is an infection that lies much deeper under the skin. Unlike white head pimples or black head pimples, they manifest in the form of red, tender bumps. And, the cysts, full of pus, often never surface.

    Scared half to death by my stern dermatologist and officially taking my first round of Roaccutane, I am now incredibly weary of everything that comes near my face—including my good for nothing itchy fingers. Sunscreen, another dislike of mine, thanks to its thick, oily formula, is currently a no-no that’s only used under extreme circumstances when I really can’t be my vampire-y self and avoid sunlight.

    Thankfully, if you’re like me, suffering in a personal hell of abstinence from SPF because of sensitive skin, or if you really hate sunscreen in general, there’s another way to protect your skin from sun damage.

    Before I jump into why you should increase your tomato consumption, I think it’s necessary to first illustrate the dangers of excessive UV ray exposure. Too much sunlight, unfortunately, activates free radicals in our skin. The activation, in turn, accelerates the aging process of cells (hello, wrinkles!) by puncturing them and tearing them apart, and generates a wild chain reaction that makes us more susceptible to skin cancer. That said, when our skin “burns” our bodies are actually generating an immune response-inflammation to the free radicals.

    Sun protection is best achieved when consuming an antioxidant-rich diet and when using a non-chemical protective sunscreen on a daily basis. This is simply because the amount of antioxidants in your blood decreases when your skin is exposed to sunlight.

    Okay, now the tomatoes!

    Tomatoes contain lycopene, or, an important antioxidant to have in your diet. The rule of thumb is, the redder the tomato, the more lycopene it contains. If you’re not too keen on eating tomatoes, try your hand at some watermelon!

    Sweet potatoes are packed with beta-carotene and storage proteins called sporamins that have unique antioxidant properties. Once digested, beta-carotenes turn into Vitamin A which ultimately helps with skin cell regeneration.

    Crimini mushrooms, or the cute little things you find on kebabs, are packed with skin-protecting nutrients like selenium. In fact, crimini mushrooms have the highest selenium content in all the foods that we eat. This, of course, is important because our bodies use the vital mineral to create potent antioxidants that fight the free radicals that form in our skin during sunlight exposure. Best of all crimini mushrooms are packed with Vitamin B—the key to youthful-looking skin cells.

    Fatty fish contain carotenoid antioxidants that help keep the skin radiant. Omega 3 essential fatty acids, like those found in salmon, also act as powerful and protective anti-inflammatories.

    Like strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries, green tea is an antioxidant food high in catechins. The deeper and richer the color of your tea, the higher its catechin content. So, steep those leaves and drink up!

     

  • Try These 4 Home Remedies for Hyperpigmentation

    Out, damn spot!

    Said Lady Macbeth and every girl ever

    Have you been frowning at your hyperpigmentation spots in the mirror? I know I have. With summer fast approaching and the weather warming up, the last thing I want to do is cake on a load of foundation.

    While I find myself yearning to use sheerer BB Creams, I know, in the deepest part of my heart, that no matter how much I will them to cover up my dark spots, they simply can’t and won’t do my spotty complexion justice. Unless I resort to thicker foundation formulas, there’s no hiding how I somehow still like the 102th Dalmatian.

    So, makeup aside, I’ve ventured into the realm of homeopathic remedies to alleviate my ailment. So here ya go, thought I’d share what I learned:

    What is Hyperpigmentation?

    And how do you get it?

    Hyperpigmentation is the darkening of an area of skin caused by the overproduction of melanin. It can come in the form of freckles, sun spots, age spots, liver spots and melasma—hormone induced splotchiness. Triggered by anything from overexposure to the sun to picking at the skin, hyperpigmentation is usually a cosmetic nuisance to those who have it.

    That said, the nuisance does not discriminate. While it tends to appear on the face and the hands more so than the rest of the body, it really can pop up anywhere. Unfortunately, there is no cure for the darkening. There are, instead, options to treat the blemish.

    On that note, hyperpigmentation is not to be mistaken for acne scars. The easiest way to tell a post-inflammatory hypigmentation mark from an acne scar is to see if it fades or not over time.

    Treatments

    Blemishes be gone

    There are numerous over-the-counter creams, chemical peels, and facial treatments known to improve hyperpigmentation but if those chemically-loaded products aren’t quite your style, here are some natural kitchen-sourced remedies that equally effective.

    Potatoes

    Potatoes house a treasure of nutrients: vitamins B and C, minerals like potassium, magnesium, calcium, phosophrus, and zinc, as well as essential fatty acids and phytochemicals. The sugar, starches, and vitamin C present in potatoes can be used to exfoliate dead skin cells while the vitamin B present immediately encourages cell renewal.

    Cut thick slices of potatoes wedges from a peeled potato and rub those slices on your skin for 8-10 minutes on areas where you have hyperpigmentation. If you feel that the potato is too dry, sprinkle water on the vegetable. Repeat this rubbing process up to 4 times a day for a month for results.

    Lemon

    Lemon juice is rich in antioxidants and antioxidants can help reduce the amount of melanin produced by your skin. Moreover, the citric acid found in lemon juice is also an amazing exfoliating agent.

    Besides making a lemon, egg white, and brown sugar scrub that is 2 tablespoons brown shower, 1 egg’s worth of eggwhite, and 1 teaspoon of lemon juice mixed well, you can also incorporate the lemon juice solo, like a toner to a cotton pad, on the area of need. Leave the juice on for 10-15 minutes before washing it off with plain water. Repeat the step twice a day.

    Tumeric

    If you didn’t already know *cough, cough, hint, hint*, turmeric is an anti-inflammatory agent equally perfect for exfoliating the skin. The spice’s curcumin component can fight off oxidative damage done by free radicals from harmful sun rays.

    Make a turmeric-gramflour mask by combining 1/2 a teaspoon of turmeric powder with 2-3 tablespoons of gramflour, add 1/2 a teaspoon of oil (almond or olive), 1/2 a teaspoon of milk, and 1/2 a teaspoon of lemon juice. Mix well before applying and letting dry on the affected area. Once doing so, wet your hands and rub the paste in circular motions before rising off with lukewarm water. Repeat this treatment 2-3 times a week.

    Note: Take care when using, turmeric stains.

    Aloe vera

    Aloe vera gel promotes the regeneration of new skin cells. The mucilaginous polysaccharides in the plant are known to moisturize and clean.

    With the help of cotton pads or simply your fingers, apply aloe vera gel to the affected area and leave overnight. Wash off in the morning and repeat this procedure every night before going to bed.

     

  • It’s Tuesday and That’s Reason Enough to Shop Til You Drop!

     

    Things you didn’t even know you needed

    ...until now

    I like my money where I can see it… hanging in my closet.

    –Carrie Bradshaw

    Dreary weather got you down? Well, that’s nothing a little retail therapy can’t fix. Here are some of the team’s top picks:

    Home

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    PAIGE:My cousin is a big reader. It’s something I’ve always admired about her. In continuing my New Year’s Resolution (to be an all around more awesome person), I went to The Strand with her list of must-read books. Franny and Zooey, a compilation of two short stories about a brother, Franny, and his sister, Zoey, happened to be on that list. While Zooey is going through a weird spiritual breakdown, Franny does his best to help her find her way.

    The vegan Hostess cupcake, on the other hand, rightfully dubbed ‘Chlostess’ by its makers at By Chole, is the absolute highlight of my week.”

    CHRIS:This phone case is so dope. It doesn’t make the phone too bulky and the texture has a nice grip. And, it’s simple enough that it still looks professional.

    The Lacoste keychain was a gift from my nana. I always think about her and am reminded to call her whenever I fish for them.”

    Beauty

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    PAULA: “I usually gravitate towards the Asian dewey makeup look. The Dinoplatz line by Too Cool For School really helps me achieve that highly sought after fresh and hydrated glow. Somewhat like a compact cushion, the foundation, a BB balm, can be applied and adjusted to suit coverage need. But, on days where I don’t need as much extra help, I get by just fine with the CC highlighter.”

    PAIGE: “In today’s chapter of I-bought-this-because-someone-on-YouTube-told-me-to, I present you the NARS Radiant Concealer. Ugh, and it’s seriously amazing. I’m not usually a fan of NARS products because their formulas err on the thick side, but this baby here is a game changer. When you apply it in an inverted triangle shape under your eyes, the concealer immediately brightens your face. I would 100000% tell you to invest in this. PS. I wear the ‘custard.’

    Okay, so maybe I fell for the cute egg-shaped packaging. But hey, the Egg Pore does get rid of blackheads!

    Lost somewhere deep in the realm of Korean beauty product reviews, I ordered the Apple Smoothie Peeling Gel off Amazon. It’s an extremely rewarding part of my beauty regimen because when I rub the gel in circles around my face, little balls of dead skin cells form. You can basically see all the magic happen.”

    Hats

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    PAIGE: “I needed a baseball cap for my Europe trip but refused to get a Yankees cap like every other girl because everyone knows I despise sports. Ye was naturally the next best thing.”

    CHRIS: “Not to toot my own horn, but I love these hats because one, I designed them, and two, they’re fun. They’re playful, expressive, and go well with any outfit.”

     

     

  • I got a Hydro Microdermabrasion. Here’s What I learned.

    Confessions of a Pimple Popper

    Why You Should Make the Most of Spa Week

    Hi. My name is Paula and I’m a picker.

    Much to the dismay of estheticians around the world, I love to pick at my zits. Whiteheads, blackheads, big ones, small ones—I’ve picked them all. Truth be told, there’s nothing quite like helping a swollen, throbbing, already-to-a-head pimple burst. Maybe it’s the excretion of pus from my pores that makes me as giddy as a kid in a candy store. Maybe it’s the sense of accomplishment that always accompanies a satisfying pop. Either way, the amount of time I’ve spent coaxing a mixture of sebum and dead skin cells out from my pores, along with the unsightly brown marks left behind as hard evidence of my untiring will to do so, proves one unfortunate fact: I’m an addict and I need help.

    The best story to illustrate my affliction, if I may, has to be that one time I ran into an old acquaintance from middle school. I was struggling to graduate college, running around lower Broadway waving thesis notes like a chicken with its head cut off, while she—calm, cool, and collected—just so happened to stroll down the same street, prepared to start her Masters at the same university.

    “Paula, is that you?”

    After exchanging a couple pleasantries, each of us eventually parting our separate ways, I was surprised to receive her text, shortly after, that read something a long the lines of:

    By the way, do you know what I remember best about you? There was this one time you told me that if I squeezed my nose hard enough, white stuff would come out. It changed my life.

    Responding with way to many “ha-s” in the “hahaha” chain I sent back, I died of mortification. Is Paula Pimple Ho who I’m reduced to? Of the many things she could have remembered like talented artist or hash brown lover, did she have to cling on to the memory of Paula Ho, acne savior? I mean, did I really save her? Or did I contaminate her with my penchant for popping?

    After playing myself an emotional rendition of Tchaikovsky’s Op. 35 on an extra tiny violin, I eventually laughed. Who was I not to share the wisdom of my ways? After all, I am Paula “Life Changer” Ho.

    A year and a half older, none the wiser, but perhaps more open-minded, I recently tried a hydro microdermabrasion treatment at the White Tea Med Spa by Union Square. Tired of my hyperpigmentation, the ones I’ve accumulated from years of giving into my nasty habit, I finally sought out professional help.

    Hydro Microdermabrasion

    What is it?

    Unlike a regular microdermabrasion that relies on crystal exfoliants to remove dead skin cells, the hydro microdermabrasion treatment uses water jets to even out congested, blemished, and dull and discolored skin. With the help of a diamond-tipped wand, the esthetician performs a vacuum massage that simultaneously exfoliates and hydrates the face. Gentle enough for all skin types, the the hydro microdermabrasion is known to increase blood circulation and improve both collagen production and skin tone.

    Pressing Questions

    (I Had to Ask, Albina, My Esthetician)

    Q: What are the settings on the hydro microdermabrasion machine and what do they do?

    A: “I used the medium on you. It’s slight strong, slight not. Some places I used strong, like your forehead, where your pigmentation and scarring is. Under your eyes I did a medium. Sometimes if I see that the skin is reacting, I go low, but barely. For you, I did a medium.

    Q: What does the treatment really do?

    A: “It gets rid of dead skin. It sucks out all the damaged layers. So, that will be your blackheads and your whiteheads. It’s the top facial I recommend to all my clients. It’s a great facial for the winter, spring, and summer because it’s not a peel so it’s safe.”

    Q: And the difference between this and a regular pore-cleansing facial? What would you recommend to facial virgins?

    A: “If it’s their first facial ever, I always recommend a regular facial. It’s called a deep pore-cleansing facial or we have a great “High-Tea” facial where we use the steam and analyze the skin. If I see blackheads or white heads, I clean the skin. If I see that their skin has a lot of blackheads and scarring and acne, I recommend the hydro microdermabrasion.”

    Q: Why is a professional facial important?

    A: A facial is important every 4 to 6 weeks. Even though you’re at home and you do use a cleanser, an exfoliator, a toner, a serum, a moisturizer, an esthetician will be able to tell you what you did right and what you did wrong. It’s important to use good products. Let’s say you do come see me every 4 to 6 weeks. You come and you tell me, ‘Albina, I don’t see any results on my skin.’ I’d say, ‘Okay, but what are you doing at home? Do you cleanse? Do you exfoliate? how do you treat your skin? How is your diet?’

    Q: You mentioned all-natural products as being generally “better.” Can you elaborate?

    A: “Unnatural products are stronger. They’re stronger for wrinkles and for fine lines. They’re stronger because they have a lot of chemicals in them. What we put on our skins daily to cleanse and to exfoliate, to tone and to moisturize, is better if they’re organic because it’s made of fruits and vegetables. Of course, you see faster results with chemicals, but I always say go with organic first.

    Q: Okay, so now the me, or people like me, pickers, why shouldn’t we do what we do?

    A: “It causes scarring. It causes pigmentation. You’re opening up your pores when you pick. I have a couple of clients who when they feel that it’s ready, when the pus is ready to come out, they pick [the pimple] without taking it to the root, to the follicle. The next day, that pimple may go to your forehead or your lip because the pore is open. I always tell my clients don’t pick because it’s always bad for scarring and for pigmentation. You’re young, you’re beautiful.”

    Q: How is your picking different from my picking?

    A: “I use gloves and 4x4s cotton pads. After picking, we estheticians close the pores. I put a mask on you. The mask that you had on you closed your pores. When you’re at home, be honest, you pop the pimple, and that’s it. You put no toner, you put no moisturizer—maybe you put alcohol on—but that’s not the way to do it. It’s about analyzing and extracting professionally.”

    Q: Why do we have to drink water after getting facials?

    A: “It’s important to drink water everyday. Water moisturizes your skin, not just your face. It keeps you hydrated. A lot of my clients who don’t drink enough water come in with dark circles under their eyes.”

    Q: What is a good age to start getting facials? Is there an age to start?

    A: “Facials are good for any ages. If you’re 16 and I don’t see fine lines but I see hormone changes, I would give you a deep pore cleanse to exfoliate and scrub your skin. I always tell my clients that it’s super important to come for facials especially if they’re already going through puberty. You’re going to see great results. Massaged skin is very important for the circulation. It stimulates the collagen.”

    Q: What do you think about preventative care?

    A: “I have clients who come in a little over 30 who say ‘I wish I started earlier.’ 30 isn’t old but they’re starting to see fine lines. It’s really important to start early and to take care of your skin. Once you hit a certain your skin doesn’t produce collagen as quickly.”

    It’s Spa Week

    Here's How to Make the Most of It

    If you’re wondering whether or not the hydro microdermabrasion reduced my hyperpigmentation, it did! If you’re wondering whether that was enough to help me quit pimple popping, on the other hand, I plead the fifth.

    But hey, this week is officially SPA WEEK, so I say leave the extracting to the professionals!

    From today through Sunday, April 17, spas across the country are offering their various services for only $50. Rejoice! Oh, and take advantage of the crazy discount by booking yourself a facial (or more extravagant) here.

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    TOODALOO,

    Your ever faithful pimple fanatic

  • Your April Guide to Netflix and Wine

    Wine Pair Your Way

    To Bliss

    There is nothing quite like snuggling under the blankets, on your couch, with your laptop balanced precariously on you stomach, and a glass of wine somewhere well within arm’s reach. Maybe you call it, “relaxing after a long day of work,” maybe you call it, “me time.” Regardless the title, there’s no questioning that true feeling of bliss. Trust me, this wine connoisseur and movie junkie-at-large would know.

    I started drinking wine at age 12. My father figured it was best to teach and monitor me in the safety of our home. I, on the other hand, was just grapeful (see what I did there?). He was open-minded and I was lucky. Little by little, I built my tolerance, and honed my palette. Drinking to get drunk? Oh, honey, that’s what beer’s for.

    I like to think of wine as this delicate and sophisticated drink that enhances emotions. Happy? A Riesling will do. Brooding? Try a Pinot Noir. There is little in the world wine can’t fix or make better.

    Debating whether or not to Netflix and Chill? With these wine pairings I’ve put together Netflix and Wine might just be your better and more dependable bet.

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    Oh, and just in case you need extra convincing, here I am at 21, getting my zen on at the Silver Oak Winery in Napa Valley. I know what’s up.

    Somm

    Cabernet Sauvignon

    Rotten Tomatoes: 77 %

    Synopsis: What better way to drink than to drink to a documentary about Sommeliers? Centered around the extremely difficult Master Sommelier examination—a test with one of the lowest pass rates in the world—the film follows the lives of Ian Cauble, Dustin Wilson, Lynn Proctor, and Brian McClintic, four sommeliers who are nervously preparing for their three-part (theory, taste, and service) exam. To give the difficulty some context, only 230 people have been recognized as Master Sommeliers in the past 39 years. A wide range of studying tactics are employed throughout the story. Color-coding wine regions, making absurd amounts of flashcards, and Skyping at 2:30 a.m. for mock quizzes makes all other standardized testing look like child’s play.

    Best paired with: a nice bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon. The rich, full-bodied taste—a metaphoric nod to the depth of the exam—plus or minus a chunk of steak or two, will help keep your eyes glued to your screen as you anticipate the results.

    Mystic River

    Rotten Tomatoes: 87 %

    Synopsis: A mystery drama directed and scored by Clint Eastwood, the movie stars Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Kevin Bacon, Laurence Fishbone, Marcia Gay Harden, Laura Linney and a cast of extremely talented actors and actresses. A story about friendship and retribution, Jimmy (Sean Penn) seeks out his daughter’s killer. Guns are pointed, fires are shot, and relationships are questioned. What does it mean to be a friend?

    Best paired with: a couple glasses of Syrah. The rich flavors of black-fruit coupled with overtones of spice make this hearty red the perfect go-to drink. The abundance of fruit sensations complemented by warm alcohol and gripping tannins will certainly mimic all of the movie’s emotional feels.

    Boogie Nights

    Rotten Tomatoes: 92 %

    Synopsis: Ah, the golden age of the porn industry. When Eddie Adams (Marky Mark), a high school dropout, makes it big as “Dirk Diggler,” his life changes. Officially the adult industry’s leading man and prized possession, Diggler lands role after coveted role thanks to his good looks and large size. Life, however, takes a turn for the worst when Diggler falls off his pedestal. Addicted to cocaine without the income to sustain it, he dabbles in prostitution, and later acting. Funny and not funny. Shallow and simultaneously deep.

    Best paired with: a big glass of Sauvignon Blanc. With dominating flavors that range anywhere from green apples, to melons and mangos, the bright aromas and strong acid finishes are a true testament to the ups and downs of Diggler’s life.

    The Shawshank Redemption

    Rotten Tomatoes: 91 %

    Synopsis:  When people use “shawshank” as a verb, they are often referring to banker Andy Dufresne’s incredible escape from prison. Living out two life sentences for the murder of his wife and her lover at the Shawshank State Penitentiary, Dufresne (Tim Robbins) befriends fellow inmate “Red” (Morgan Freeman). Together they begin a money-laundering operation from behind bars.

    Best paired with: two glasses of Pinot Noir—one for Dufresne and the other for Red. Harvested from one of the noblest red grapes (difficult to grow and blended without roughness), the wine speaks volume of the delicate and fresh nature of life confined.

    Buen dĂ­a, RamĂłn

    Rotten Tomatoes: 100 %

    Synopsis: When a young man travels from a small town in Mexico to Germany in search for a better life and a means to support his family, the last thing he needs is to be left stranded without shelter or money. As life would have it, that’s exactly what happens to RamĂłn. The generosity he ultimately receives from Ruth, a lonely senior citizen with whom he develops an astonishing friendship that transcends borders and prejudices, reminds us—heartwarmingly, of course—that there is still good in the world.

    Best paired with: a bottle of Merlot. Known as the “introductory” wine, Merlot is both soft and round. Easily paired with anything and everything, the drink reminds us that the world has no room for discrimination.

    The Princess Bride

    Rotten Tomatoes: 97 %

    Synopsis: Set to marry Prince Humperdinck, Buttercup is kidnapped by a trio of bandits the day before her wedding. Yearning for her one true love, Westley, whom she believes died at the hands of Dread Pirate Roberts, Buttercup laments her future. A wild goose chase ensues when it is soon revealed that the trio of bandits was hired by none other than Prince Humperdinck himself as a ploy to wage war with his rival country. Who is dead, who is alive?

    Best paired with: Riesling—however much you desire. Fresh in flavor, Riesling is also light-hearted in nature—much like the narrative of the love story.

    We Need to Talk About Kevin

    Rotten Tomatoes: 76 %

    Synopsis: This suspenseful psychological thriller explores the concept of nature versus nurture. What makes a killer? Eva (Tilda Swinton) grapples with the difficulties of motherhood and the travesty her teenaged son, Kevin, has committed. Looking back on all the memories of him growing up, she questions the many signs she ignored. Is she to blame for playing an active role in allowing his innate evilness? Could she have done something differently?

    Best paired with: a bottle of Chardonnay. The wider, velvety body of the wine boasts hints of toasty and creamy characters. Often hidden behind those textures are hints of melon, vanilla, and citrus fruit flavors. What makes a Chardonnay? What makes a person?

  • 3 Investment Pieces Worth the Splurge

    If you had to pick one thing that changed your life this month, what would it be?

    Paula

    Managing Editor

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    Three months in and I’m still quite committed to the whole New Year, new you craze. Single and very much focused on myself, I’ve taken a fond liking to cardio—the most recent type being cycling. As a result, I’ve tried out a handful of cycling bikes and boutiques across the city.

    In terms of bikes, atmosphere, and instructors, Flywheel truly won my heart. Their bikes have monitors to record your torq, speakers and music to really give it that club-y vibe, and Emily Burkhardt—the, hands down, coolest and the most energetic instructor you’ll ever meet.

    While most places let you rent cycling shoes (Flywheel lends them to you for free), I invested in my own pair because it is cheaper and more hygienic in the long run. Most boutiques have bikes that are delta cleat-accessible, but I’d call them to make sure. I got my cleats fitted professionally because I wanted everything to sit right. If you’re a pro or more of a DIY kind of gal, you go ahead and screw them on yourself!

    Paige

    Marketing Director

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    Chanel ballet flats are seriously worth the investment. The two-tone style is such a classic. Coco Chanel loved two-toned shoes because the tan part elongates the leg and the black tip protects visible scuffs and makes the foot look more petite. Cute, right?

    It took a couple of wears for the flats to stretch out and warm up to my feet but they’re really comfy now. I would definitely recommend them if you’re looking for an investment piece.

    Chris

    Photographer

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    This Saint Laurent cardholder was a big investment for me. I normally don’t buy things like this but I owned a really think wallet and carried a ton of things I don’t normally need. I wanted to cut back on the hoarding—like the way I should with my Easter candy. It was a little on the pricier side but I work super hard and I think it’s important to treat yourself. Every time I fish for it in my pocket, I am reminded to do just that.

    I almost got the smooth finish but I decided to go with the pebbled leather because I figured it would scratch less. The pebbling also gave it a nice texture. Of course, I very much recommend it if you’re on the hunt for a new cardholder.

  • How Well Do You Know Your Color Correcting Concealers?

    Make Like an Artist

    And Use the Color Wheel to Conceal

    Maybe you’ve noticed, maybe you’ve haven’t, either way, color correcting is taking the makeup world by storm. With a quick dab or precise dot of the right colored primer or concealer, saying goodbye to dark circles, pasty dullness, and all around redness is just that much easier.

    Believe it or not, it doesn’t take a genius to master the art of concealing. Remember the color wheel from art class in elementary school? Remember how we were taught that colors directly across from one another cancel each other out? No? Well, here’s a quick refresher:

     

    Color Wheel

     

    As you can see from the color wheel above, the color red sits directly across from the color green. On that same note, the color purple also sits directly across from the color yellow. Red is to green as purple is to yellow—they’re complementary and completely opposite colors that when mixed together, make a neutral gray—hence the cancelling out.

    Keep reading for how to use this nifty color theory trick to your concealing advantage!

     

    Green

    Best for: neutralizing redness. Think annoying zit or acne scar.

    If you have widespread redness on your face—anything from rosacea to sunburn—a green color correcting primer can significantly reduce the flush and even out your skin tone.

     

    Yellow

    Best for: hiding dark veins and under eye circles.

    Because yellow sits directly across from purple on the color wheel, yellow concealers are perfect for masking purpley-blue bruises, veins, and under eye circles. Depending on your skin tone, they can also serve as a brightening agent for your foundation.

     

    Purple

    Best for: eliminating yellow undertones.

    By cancelling out dull, pasty, and yellow complexions, both lavender and lilac-colored concealers and primers can often help fake the appearance of a healthy glow. Opt for a purple primer when looking to remove yellow tones from your entire face and a spot concealer when targeting specific yellow spots.

     

    Pink

    Best for: brightening around the eye area.

    Ideal for masking signs of fatigue, pink or peach-colored concealers—those made from a mixture of red, orange, and yellow hues—directly cancel out blue, purple, and green undertones. The salmon pigments can also offer a boost of radiance to those with sallow or olive skin tones.

     

    Neutral

    Best for: minor imperfections and occasional pimples.

    If you don’t have too many problem areas to target, a concealer similar or one shade lighter than your skin tone will do the trick. Consider yourself extremely blessed!

     

    White

    Best for: contours and highlights.

    White concealers, while tricky to use, are always a risk worth taking. The key is to use them in moderation. When contouring cheekbones, dab some under your eyes and blend outward towards your ears. A dot on the inter and outer corner of your eyes can also help feign alertness. Otherwise, smudges on your brow bone, down the center of your nose, and on top of the cupid’s bow can offer the perfect highlight.

     

  • 13 Team-Approved Reasons to Spend More Moola

    Treat Yo Self

    You Know You Want To

    Itching to spend your hard-earned dough? Chris, Paige, and I have dropped our dollar bills on these these tried and true items. We’ve tested them out so you don’t have to.

    Shop away if your bank account permits!

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    Lifestyle

    Things that get us through the day

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    PAULA: “I’m a huge fan of Everlane, especially the price transparency model the company stands behind. I’ve had their Slim Zip wallet for almost 3 years now—a record considering how quickly I go through my small leather goods. Still looks awfully new, doesn’t it? I recently bought their Modern Snap Back Backpack to use instead of my regular shoulder bags. It fits my 13-inch MacBook Pro, agenda, and cycling shoes rather nicely with room to spare.

    After three months, it’s safe to say that I am as in love with my Jawbone Up as much as I was when I first bought it. The sleek fitness tracker has helped me monitor my steps, heart rate, and sleeping habits. Overall, it has served as a stellar fitness companion.”

    PAIGE: “I was eating this vegan kale caesar salad when we were shooting. It ended up in the photo because I’ve been having the same meal throughout midterms—roughly 7 days. C’mon, shiitake mushrooms that taste like bacon bits? Next level shit.”

     

     

    Beauty

    Products we haul everywhere

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    PAULA: “Now that I’m obsessed if not slightly paranoid with skincare, I’ve made it my mission to avoid getting sunspots and other unnecessary blemishes. As a result, I’ve gravitated towards sunless tanning products that can help me fake a sun-kissed glow. I came across James Read in my quest to find the perfect, super-easy-to-use solution to my pale skin woes. Their face and body products are made without parabens, sulfates, or phthalates. How amazing is that?

    Lano lips is an Australian beauty company that swears by the magical healing and hydrating properties of lanolin. After using their 101 Ointment to help heal a scrape on my upper lip from that one unfortunate time I accidentally fell on my face, I can say this product truly works wonders. Best of all, the products are for sale at a super affordable price point.

    For someone whose dewey makeup can get too dewey halfway through the day, I’ve found Too Cool For School’s Dear Brachisuarous Blotting Paper to be super helpful at minimizing the oily sheen around my t-zone area.”

    PAIGE: “I read about this lip mask online and ordered it from Amazon. It comes with the cutest applicator brush. I put it on every night and wake up with soft, plump lips. My friends realized how high maintenance I really am when I brought it on the plane with me when we went to Europe.”

     

     

    Clothes

    (and accessories) Chris Swears by

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    CHRIS: “I love this Calvin Klein tee not only because the ‘C’ and ‘K’ serve as a nod to my initials, but because it’s also a graphic tee that pairs well with everything. I just love how it goes so well with black jeans, blue jeans, and anything really.

    Lately, I’ve been relying on this Adidas hair band. Because I’ve been going to spin class everyday, this band, with its rubberized inside, does an amazing job keeping my very long hair out of my face.”

     

     

  • It’s Spring—Now, Buy These Products Quick!

    Hoarders Anonymous

    Things We've Been Coveting

    Happy Monday and Happy Spring, Everyone!

    Chris, Paige, and I rounded up some of our favorite things from the past few weeks. Ch-ch-check ’em out!

    AESTHETICS March 21

    Beauty

    Tried and True Must-Haves
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    PAULA: “Hand creams can either be a big hit or miss. Good ones keep your hands moisturized. Great ones keep your hands moisturized WITHOUT leaving a sticky or slippery residue. From my experience, this one from Radical Skincare has been godsend.

    Because I’m not exactly blessed with the best eyelashes—they’re short and stubby at best—Fusion Beauty’s Stimulash products have helped me cheat my genetic disposition. The lash enhancing lengthening mascara helps me create these gaga eyes by day and the conditioning lash enhancer treatment works the same magic by night. #Winning”

    PAIGE: “I was at Sephora with Paula spending way too much money when she recommended that I try this maple water serum. I got the mini bottle because I wanted to try it before forking over an arm and possibly a leg for the larger bottle. After toning, I dab a teeny bit into my hands and apply it to my face in an upwards motion. Because I struggle with acne around my chin and mouth, I avoid those areas because serums have a tendency to make my breakouts worse. I love how bright and refreshed my skin looks now that I’ve started incorporating the serum into my routine. Definitely going to splurge on the the larger bottle when I run out.

    It has taken me forever to try out the Becca’s Champagne Pop highlighter that every beauty guru raves about, but now that I’ve tried it, it’s safe to say I’m hooked. The powder is super concentrated so a little goes a LONG way. I’m especially excited to use it in the summer when my skin is more bronzed. The highlighter’s peachy golden shade is so flattering.”

    CHRIS: “This Clean Reserve scent is incredible. Honestly, all the scents in this line are. I am a huge fan of their unisex scent concept. Sueded Oud, for me, comes across both masculine and fresh. 10/10 would highly recommend.”

     

     

    Apparel

    (and Accessories) that spell S-W-A-G

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    PAULA: “This Hello Crewneck Fleece has been my go-to for running errands. It’s plain, black, basic, and easy to pair with leggings. The rings, on the other hand, are from CharxChen. I don’t accessorize much, but when I do, I opt for unique statement rings, like these ones.

    CHRIS: “I bought these sunglasses on the side of the street for $7 and I love them. I’m a huge fan of the whole flat-lens-sunglasses trend. I can pull off both an edgy and relaxed look when wearing them.”

     

    Home

    Is Better With These Purchases

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    PAULA: “I finished Jojo Moyes’ Me Before You in two days. It was THAT good. I think she brings a believable element I often find lacking in Nicholas Sparks Novel. Because of the ending of the first book, I took a break before starting this sequel, After You. Having finished it in an equally short amount of time, I have to say it’s just as riveting.

    I’m not an earphone kind of girl. I bought these Caeden ones as part of a bundle deal for their soon-to-be-released fitness tracker. Besides the beautiful geometric design, I really like how audio cable is protected by a braided fabric shell.

    PAIGE: “A Superfood foodie, I’m a big fan of the 100-calorie Health Warrior Chia Bar. Not only is jam-packed with chia seeds, omega-3s, plant-based protein, and fiber, but it’s also incredibly filling!

    CHRIS: “This Woods-scented spray was one we previously featured in candle form. I went to go buy another candle and saw that the room spray was half off so I went ahead and bought three.”

     

     

  • Coconut Oil: What’s the Fuss?

    Loco For Cocos

    Should You Hop on This Nutty Bandwagon?

    I grew up with coconuts. And, by “grew up,” I mean by the fridge full. Yes, coconuts in their pure, green, ginormous form. Whether it a morning pick-me-up before school or an after sports replenishment, I just needed to open the fridge, grab my fruit, puncture one of the softer eyes with a chopstick, stick in a straw, and call it a day. Ladies and Gentlemen, that’s Thailand for you.

    In my scorching hot country, coconut manifests in everything from salads, to curries, to drinks. Needless to say, it has been quite a pleasure watching America catch up with our age-old trend.

    But while I’m familiar with the ins and outs of coconut water, milk, and meat, coconut oil, or the rise of it, threw me for a loop. Is it a hype or is it actually healthy? Here’s what I found out:

    The Facts

    Throughout the 80’s and 90’s, coconut oil, the highly processed version that contained a lot of trans fat, made up the majority of junk foods. In fact, coconut oil was commonly associated with the dangers of saturated fat. As a result, olive oil, it’s heart-healthier counterpart, often took center stage.

    It’s important to know, however, that not all coconut oil is created equal. The partially hydrogenated version of the past has since been swapped out for a cold-pressed virgin option that now lines the shelves of supermarkets. Even though coconut oil is 90% saturated fat, most of that fat is made up of lauric acid (medium-chain fatty acids) which is known to improve levels of HDL or good cholesterol. Absorbed in the stomach, the triglycerides are immediately transported to the liver where they are metabolized into energy.

    Before you freak out about the 90%, know that saturated fat, when heated, stays stable. Unlike mono or polyunsaturated fats (olive oil) that alter their chemical formations when heated at a certain termperature, saturated fats do not become harmful to the body when cooked at 356°F or higher.

    If you’re still hung up about the high percentage, the Annals of Internal Medicine came out with a study suggesting that saturated fat may not contribute as directly to heart disease as we once thought. If someone replaces the saturated fat in their diet with refined starches or sugar, then the risk of heart disease remains the same.

    Ultimately, it’s not so much about swapping out one cooking oil for the another, but using all of those oils in moderation.

    The Uses

    Besides cooking, coconut oil can also be used for these beauty-related purposes:

    Hair Mask

    At room temperature, coconut oil sits as a creamy solid. When heated to around 76°F, however, the oil liquefies. To use it as a hair mask, run the closed oil jar under warm water until the oil inside is melted to a manageable consistency. After shampooing, apply a generous amount of the oil to your wet strands and let sit for five minutes before rinsing it out.

    Tip: I generally apply the oil from mid-shaft to tip to avoid over-oiling my roots.

    Body Oil

    The creamy texture of coconut oil makes it the perfect lightweight moisturizer. Scoop a quarter-sized dollop into your hands, right after you get out of the shower, and apply it to your body so that it can sink into your warm skin.

    Tip: Feel free to add a couple drops of essential oil to the coconut oil. Peppermint oil is great for kick starting the day and lavender oil is amazing for winding down.

    Lip Balm

    All about the natural stuff? Guess what! Coconut oil can also replace beeswax as an ultra-hydrating lip balm. Scoop some into a small container and call it a day!

    Tip: Make your own lip tint by mixing in loose blush or eye-shadow powder.

    Shaving Oil

    Using coconut oil instead of shaving cream allows for a super close shave. Again, run the jar of coconut oil under warm water to liquefy it, before applying it to your legs and shaving.

    Tip: Because the oil is very slippery, I recommend shaving outside the shower. You’ll have an easier time holding on to the razor if your hands are dry.

    Makeup Remover

    Believe it or not, you can even use coconut oil as a makeup remover! Scoop a small amount of the oil into your hands and warm it by rubbing. Apply the liquefied oil to your skin and massage away the impurities. Rinse with warm water and follow with your normal face wash routine.

    Tip: To make your own coconut oil makeup remover wipes, melt a teaspoon of coconut oil per cotton round in a microwavable container. Then, soak the cotton pads evenly in the solution. Let them sit overnight. Store the soaked rounds in a Ziploc bag until ready for use.

  • TheLoDown