April Beauty Goodies

By Kenza

Hey all!

I've been super busy with classes, finals are starting next week (eek!) and I am nowhere near mentally prepared for that so I decided I'm going to review some beauty products I've heard some great things about. Obviously, EOS is hugely popular right now and I just HAD to try it out for myself. Since summer is just around the corner, finding a great shaving cream is pretty necessary for my sensitive skin. Not only that, but I've been in the market for a new mascara. Previously, I had the Lancome slanted wand mascara but it didn't hold up very well. I bought the Maybelline Pumped Up! Colossal Volum'Express and to wipe all that off at the end of the night I went with the Almay Oil Free makeup remover wipes because I've grown far too lazy to wash my whole face some nights and it's really a disaster if I wake up in the morning with a semi-full face of makeup. *Affiliate links used*

EOS Shave Cream

EOS has awesome lip balm that I love to use and I'm so excited to try the shave cream. Check them out! Purchase here.

"IT SMELLS SO GOOD" was my first audible reaction to this stuff. I love the packaging and it's supposed to be extremely moisturizing so we'll see how it goes!


Maybelline Pumped Up! Colossal Volum'Express

Purchase here.

You know when mascara stops being a black liquid that grows your lashes and becomes a mildly chemical-y smelling paste that you really feel like you shouldn't put on your eyes? Well mine is at that stage and I just couldn't rationalize spending another $40 on mascara that I'm not sure I love. SO I've heard some great things about the Maybelline Pumped Up mascara and decided to try it out! 


Almay Makeup Remover Towelettes

Purchase here.

Finally, I have been using coconut oil lately to remove my makeup which works SO well and I love how well it works but I wanted to try something new and a little easier so I went with the Almay Oil Free makeup remover wipes and I'm sure it'll be less likely that I go to bed with liquid eyeliner still stuck to my lids. 

I'm going to review these products and do a follow up  post about them in a couple of weeks!

So What's the Deal With Oil Pulling, Anyway?

By Camilla

Oil pulling is trendy. And I tend to be slightly turned off by health trends, because people just follow them blindly without even understanding WHY they're doing these crazy things. I especially don't like it when things are touted as "miraculous". But oil pulling has always been different for me. As soon as I learned about the ancient ayurvedic practice, it made sense to me. Like dissolves like, a basic principle, and much of the bacteria and toxins in our mouths are hydrophobic, meaning they can't be dissolved by water. Oil, on the other hand, can do a marvelous job of pulling those toxins out, should leave your teeth and gums healthier than before.

So what does the American Dental Association have to say about this? Well, nothing great. It's my personal opinion that the lack of structured scientific studies done makes it hard for the ADA to feel comfortable in promoting this 5,000 year old practice. They recommend ADA approved mouth rinses to combat plaque and gingivitis. But to be honest, this doesn't sit well with me. Those mouth rinses almost always leave my mouth burning and blistered. So if there is a different way to improve my oral health, I'm down to give it a try. 

The most common effects people seem to see are whiter teeth (huge bonus because I HATE conventional teeth whitening methods), healthier gums, and fresher breath. All things I am way into and all things I've seen when I regularly practice oil pulling. Others have reported improvements in skin, moods, energy levels, digestion, immune system function, and even hangovers! The jury's still out on those things for me, but I do feel like it's a valid substitute for harsh chemical mouthwashes.

I truly wish there was more scientific evidence behind this practice — you all know how I like my science. All of the personal anecdotes I've read indicate that it does a lot of good, and I can't seem to come up with a possibility for any real harm coming from it, which is why we've included it in our February health challenges. We want to try it for ourselves and come up with our own personal anecdotes. :)

So here's where I stand right now: along with regular brushing and flossing, oil pulling can't hurt. In fact, it may prove to seriously help a lot of the issues that I have dealt with. Kenza and I will report back at the end of the month with our own experiences!

Here's how you do it — take a teaspoon of good healthy cold-pressed oil, we like coconut oil because it tastes better and has antimicrobial properties due to the lauric acid, in the morning. Swish it around in your mouth gently for about 20 minutes (that sounds like a lot so we started with 5 and increased everyday by 5 minutes). I personally oil pull while doing the dishes, making coffee and breakfast. It makes it easier if I'm distracted. Spit everything out into the trash or outside — do not swallow or spit into the sink!! Rinse your mouth out with water and go on with your feeling proud that you got your oil pulling done for the day.

Do you guys pull oil? What oil do you use and what have your experiences been? Please share!

Cinnamon + Honey Facial Mask

By Camilla

Nothing crazy new or enlightening here: cinnamon and honey are really good for you, inside and out. But while these two pantry staples have been around for ages (literally), I'm constantly surprised and impressed by the science behind why they're so healthy.

I've been giving myself honey and cinnamon facial masks for quite some time. It started a few years ago when money was tight and I didn't have the funds to buy expensive skin care products for my very broken out skin. Knowing that honey had antibacterial and healing properties and that cinnamon was anti-inflammatory, I mixed the two together and spread the sticky stuff on my face and hoped for the best. I was so surprised with the results. I wrote about my skin problems recently, and while I've tried many things, nothing seems to calm my face down as much as this face mask. Of course I need to get to the bottom of why I have acne in the first place, but when I do get bad, painful pimples, this concoction helps immediately. I can feel the inflammation reduce and I can literally feel the wounds start to heal. What's more is that my skin feels soft and soft and clean after this face mask, as if I don't even need a moisturizer (though I always dab some nigella oil on afterwards). And what's so great about these ingredients is that I always have them, they always work, and I can use them often without worrying about any harmful ingredients. So what's the science here?

Let's start with cinnamon, shall we?

Cinnamon is actually the bark of a tree. How cool is that? The reason it's so flavorful and spicy is because it has a very high content of oil, mostly made of cinnamaldehyde (chemical structure to the right because I like science). A study in 2007 demonstrated that cinnamaldehyde and the proanthocyanidins within cinnamon have strong antibacterial properties against several types of bacteria, indicating that these may be able to fight off the bacteria that causes acne. This is pretty great, right? It gets better. Other studies, including this 2008 one, have shown that cinnamon has pretty impressive anti-inflammatory capabilities! Specifically, trans-cinnamaldehyde inhibits the production of nitric oxide which is an important piece of the inflammatory process in our bodies. This would explain why after these facials, I literally feel the inflammation go down and the pain reduce. One last thing — in addition to being antibacterial and anti-inflammatory, cinnamon is also an antioxidant, which can also help with skin issues.

OK, a little more science. Let's talk about honey now. 

Honey is an ancient wonder compound made from the very creatures that help us grow food and keep ourselves fed. First — honey is a humectant. A humectant is a compound that attracts and retains moisture. Yay for our skin! Next, natural enzymatically produced hydrogen peroxide in honey acts as an effective antimicrobial agent. Some honey, like the very powerful Manuka honey, retains its antimicrobial properties even when the hydrogen peroxide is destroyed by heat or catalase. In fact, the antibacterial capacity of honey is so powerful, that it is used to treat wounds that don't respond to conventional treatments, and it has even been effective against MRSA. That blows my mind. So while Manuka honey is the more impressive and effective variety, all raw honey is beneficial. Read more here. Raw honey also contains a lot of antioxidants, which can also help with inflammation and promote wound healing. I truly believe in the power of honey.

So let's see: moisturizing, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidizing properties. Sounds like a dream mixture for problem skin, not to mention an affordable one! And indeed, I have found that it works wonders.

To make this quick and easy facial, mix raw or Manuka honey with ground cinnamon and apply gently to a clean face. Let it sit for 10-20 minutes, while you oil pull (February health challenge! More on this soon) or watch a few of your favorite youtube videos. Wash your face with warm water. Be gentle because the cinnamon works to exfoliate a little bit. Sometimes after this facial, my face feels flushed for about 5 minutes afterwards but a bit of nigella or coconut oil help to calm that right down.

Use leftover cinnamon-honey mixture on toast with butter for a yummy treat, or stir into a cup of hot water for a healthy, sweet tea. I usually keep any extra mixture in the refrigerator and bring it to room temperature before using it for more facials.