The Importance of Digestive Enzymes and the Need for Supplementation for Some People

Digestive enzymes are naturally occurring and crucial to your digestive system, helping to break down foods and allowing the absorption of nutrients. Without adequate enzymes, you can become malnourished and start showing signs of gastrointestinal distress, even when consuming a balanced and healthy diet.

Understanding Digestive Enzymes: Natural and Synthetic

The mouth, small intestine, and stomach can produce digestive enzymes; however, the pancreas is the main production factory in the human body. The enzymes are particularly vital in breaking down more complex and nutrient-dense foods and compounds, such as carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Without digestive enzymes, your food will not provide sufficient nutrients because the body cannot break it down. Therefore, your health can wain.

Most people do not have an issue with enzyme production, but some conditions lead to an inadequate enzyme supply, such as exocrine pancreatic insufficiency. Thankfully, there are prescription and over-the-counter digestive enzyme replacements. Replacements mimic natural digestive enzymes to counteract the effects of poor production.

Using Digestive Enzyme Replacements

As a replacement for natural digestive enzymes, replacement enzymes need to be consumed before a meal to be effective. The enzymes in the stomach can begin breaking down the food as it enters the stomach and exits to the small intestine, allowing critical nutrients to absorb through the small intestine wall for distribution through the bloodstream.

You can split an enzyme replacement dose to make it more effective, especially for larger and longer meals or if you are a slow eater. For instance, it is usually acceptable to take half the dose at the start of a meal and the rest halfway through it.

Digestive enzyme replacements must be taken with food. If you take them without, they will simply work their way through your system without any real benefit.

Assessing Needs for Digestive Enzyme Replacements

While most people do not need digestive enzyme replacements, there are many conditions that can result in a lack of enzymes, such as EPI. Some of the other conditions include:

  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Diabetes
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Pancreatic surgery
  • Chronic pancreatitis
  • Pancreatic cysts or benign tumors
  • Narrowing or blockage of the biliary or pancreatic duct

EPI is the most common cause for digestive enzyme supplementation, but not everyone realizes they have the condition immediately. EPI leads to uncomfortable and slow digestion, and some of the symptoms include:

  • Bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Excessive gas
  • Cramping after meals
  • Foul-smelling stools
  • Yellow, greasy, floating stools
  • Unexpected weight loss

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, talk to your primary care physician. Do not attempt to self-diagnose digestive enzyme disorders. While OTC enzyme replacement options exist, it is always best to consult your physician before dietary changes.

Reviewing the Potential Side Effects

Digestive enzyme replacements are often helpful to those who need them, but there are potential side effects like any other supplement. The most common side effect of enzyme supplements is constipation. Still, there can be more uncomfortable side effects, like diarrhea, nausea, and abdominal cramps.

While the body needs digestive enzymes, not every body creates a sufficient amount, leading to potential digestive and nutritional problems. Before looking for OTC remedies for digestive concerns, talk to your doctor about other possible issues or solutions.

Do you know of any other reasons someone would need to take digestive enzyme replacements, or do you have anything to add to the conversation? Comment below.

Save Your Scalp From Breakouts

Nothing ruins a good hair day like discovering a blemish on your scalp. The abundant oil glands and hair follicles are at the root of acne in this area. Over time, a buildup of oil along with dirt and dead skin cells can clog the pores, leading to pimples. Styling products such as gel, hairspray and mousse compound the problem by leaving residue behind. 

If you regularly experience acne around your hairline and beyond, you know how frustrating it can be. These smart strategies can help you banish scalp breakouts.

Switch Up Your Routine

Start the process of clearing up your scalp with a new hair care routine. Any products you use, including shampoo and conditioner, should be oil-free. Look for labels like anti-acnegenic or non-comedogenic to find formulas that won't clog your pores. This also applies to cosmetics like foundation and powder, as well as moisturizers, lotions and other skincare products.

You can try medicated shampoos with ingredients that help with the causes of scalp breakouts, such as:

  • Benzoyl peroxide and tea tree oil, which fight bacteria that leads to acne
  • Ciclopirox and ketoconazole, which combat fungal causes of acne
  • Glycolic acid and salicylic acid, which remove dead skin cells that clog the pores
  • Jojoba oil, which alleviates inflammation associated with acne

Skip hair products when you plan to stay home and try to use fewer formulas in general. Using multiple cosmetic items increases the chances of irritating and inflaming your scalp.

Step Up Your Schedule

If you tend to go more than a day or two without washing your hair, consider shampooing more frequently to stay on top of breakouts. It's especially important to wash your hair after you work out to get rid of excess sweat, dirt and oil. 

When you shampoo, focus your efforts on your scalp to clear away clogging materials. You can also use a soft-bristled brush to gently exfoliate the area. After washing and conditioning your hair, be sure to rinse completely. Soap and product residue can cause breakouts along the hairline.

Keep It Clean

Contact with bacteria causes acne, so anything that touches your face, neck or head should be washed often. This includes pillowcases, bedding hats, headbands, visors and scarves. Clean phones and headsets frequently with antibacterial wipes.

Let the Scalp Breathe

If you spend several hours wearing a headscarf or hat each day, try to choose a looser garment to let air flow circulate to your scalp. When you're at home, leave your head bare if possible to prevent sweat and oil from becoming trapped.

Support Skin Health

Getting the right nutrients helps maintain the health of your skin, which means you'll experience fewer breakouts. Make sure you consume at least the recommended daily amount of vitamins A, D and E, either in your diet or with an over-the-counter supplement. Eating plenty of fresh fruits, whole grains and veggies supports overall wellness, which in turn keeps the scalp healthy.

Take Notes

Scalp breakouts sometimes result from allergic reactions. When you notice a blemish, write down your recent food and beverage intake. You may begin to see a pattern of acne that occurs when you eat certain ingredients, which will allow you to prevent the issue by avoiding these triggers. 

See a Dermatologist

Some cases of scalp acne require medical treatment. Your dermatologist may prescribe stronger acne medications, light therapy, antibiotics or steroids to resolve serious breakouts that don't respond to self-care at home.

Keep in mind that it can take up to six weeks to notice a difference in your scalp with these strategies. See your doctor if your acne continues with treatment or causes more severe symptoms, such as inflammation, infection and hair loss. 

5 Easy Tricks To Fight Under-Eye Bags

Do you ever get startled when you look at your reflection in the mornings? Dark and heavy bags under your eyes can make you look more like a zombie than a living, breathing person. Fortunately, there are things you can do to fight under-eye circles and puffiness. Here are five easy tricks that work well for me. Hopefully, they’ll help you get your youthful under-eyes back as well!

1. Reduce Your Salt Intake

Sometimes, water retention can lead to inflammation in various parts of the body—including under the eyes. If you notice your under-eye bags seem to get more noticeable after eating high-salt meals, take steps to reduce your salt intake. I know, salt makes everything taste better and it’s hard to cut back on it. However, there are a lot of great substitutes for salt, including salt-free seasoning blends that pack in lots of flavor with the use of herbs and spices.

2. Try a Neti Pot

This tip may sound weird (what does your nose have to do with your eyes, right?) but it might be your secret solution to getting rid of your under-eye bags. A neti pot is a pretty simple (and ancient) remedy you can use to clear out your sinuses. Sometimes puffiness under the eyes can be a direct result of sinus inflammation from seasonal allergies, infections or colds.

Neti pots use saline water to rinse out your sinuses. Just follow the instructions that come with your pot to get started. Be careful not to use tap water, since this increases your risk of contaminating your sinuses with a dangerous amoeba. Instead, always use distilled water with your neti pot.

3. Supplement Your Diet With Collagen

Collagen is the protein that’s responsible for keeping our skin elastic and stretchy. It’s the most abundant protein found in the human body, but we start producing less of it as we age. Decreased collagen is one of the main causes of under-eye bags.

You can get more collagen in your diet or boost your body’s production of collagen by eating foods like chicken bone broth, leafy greens and wild-caught salmon. If you already eat these foods and still struggle with under-eye bags, it may be time to add a collagen supplement to your diet.

4. Try a Cold Compress

When you need to reduce under-eye puffiness right away, one of the best things to do is apply a cold compress to your eyes. I personally like to use cucumber slices because they contain antioxidants that can help fight the effects of aging. They also feel very soothing to the entire eye area. It may seem weird to put food on your face, but give it a try. You won’t regret it!

5. Remove Your Makeup at Night

My final tip for fighting under-eye bags is to remove makeup at night—without exceptions. It’s easy to fall straight into bed after a night of partying or a busy day running errands, but leaving all that stuff on your face can irritate your eyes. It only takes a few minutes to remove your makeup, so get into the habit today.

These tricks are all pretty simple, but they can become powerful tools for combatting under-eye puffiness. Give them a try today. Your eyes will thank you.

Surprising Fruits That Have Almost Zero Fiber

Most Americans need to get more fiber in their diets. According to the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, only 1 in 20 people in the U.S. eat enough fiber every day.

There are some people, however, that have the opposite problem. They have to limit certain types of fiber in their diet to prevent painful health problems. This can be very tricky because it means finding a careful balance between nutritious natural foods and low-fiber options.

Why Do Some People Need To Control Fiber Levels?

Fiber plays an important role in gut health and digestion, softening stool, lowering cholesterol levels and balancing blood sugar levels. Unfortunately, some health conditions are sensitive to fiber:

  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Ulcerative colitis (UC)
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Diverticulitis (an inflammatory condition of the colon)

Sometimes, your doctor will tell you to follow a low-fiber diet after surgery or before a colonoscopy. Make sure to ask your doctor before reducing the amount of fiber you eat.

What Kind of Fruit Is Low in Fiber?

The purpose of eating less fiber for a while is to give your colon a chance to rest and heal. After that, you can usually go back to eating a normal amount of fiber. Here are the best fruits to eat while following a low-fiber diet:

  • Watermelons: 0.8 g (1 cup)
  • Papayas: 2.5 g (1 cup)
  • Cantaloupes: 1.3 g (1 cup)
  • Peaches: 1.7 g (1 peach)
  • Plums: 1.0 g (1 plum)
  • Cherries: 1.3 g (10 cherries)
  • Nectarines: 2.2 g (1 nectarine)

Real fruit juices (not the concentrated stuff with added sugar) without pulp are another great source of vitamins. These juices have next to no fiber.

What Type of Fiber Should You Limit With IBS?

If you have IBS, you don’t need to rush to cut all fiber from your diet. It’s smart to talk to your doctor first. In reality, you may not need to cut many fruits or veggies out of your diet at all.

Fiber comes in two forms: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber dissolves in water. It’s there to help your gut and smooth things out. People who have IBS need more soluble fiber, not less. Where can you get it?

  • Low-FODMAP veggies: Broccoli, carrots, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, fennel, bell peppers, avocados and olives
  • Low-FODMAP fruits: Bananas, blueberries, strawberries, lemons, limes, oranges, pineapples, kiwis, cantaloupes and honeydew melons
  • Cooked/sauteed greens: Bok choy, spinach, arugula, collard greens and cabbage

On the other hand, insoluble fiber doesn’t dissolve; it’s the roughage that pushes waste through the intestines. For people who have IBS, insoluble fiber can sometimes trigger symptoms such as pain and bloating.

How Long Should You Follow a Low-Fiber Diet?

Normally, you should only limit fiber intake for as long as your doctor tells you. If you're recovering from a specific surgery, for example, you may follow a low-fiber diet for about a month. After that, go back to eating good levels of fiber so your digestive system stays happy and healthy.

In the case of IBS, it's not a question of following hard and fast rules. You need plenty of fiber normally, but you also want to avoid flareups. Usually, you need to discover which foods trigger problems personally and look for healthy alternatives. If you're sensitive to raspberries, eat cranberries or blueberries instead.

5 of the Biggest Coffee Myths Debunked!

For a long time, coffee was a guilty pleasure. Now, you can raise your head proudly and tell the whole world that you love coffee! Don't let these five coffee myths stop you from enjoying a cup of dark and delicious java.

Myth: Coffee Dehydrates You

Drinking more water is always a good thing, but your morning cup of joe isn’t responsible for dehydration. Coffee is a mild diuretic, which can make you go to the bathroom more, but the effect is so slight that it doesn’t make a noticeable difference. In case you were wondering, the water in coffee does count toward your goal of 2 liters of water per day.

Myth: Coffee Isn’t Healthy for You

Coffee is rich in antioxidants, nutrients that help protect your body. Many people get more antioxidants from their daily dose of coffee than from fruits and veggies!

All of these antioxidants can add up to major health benefits. People who drink coffee regularly have a far lower risk of many diseases:

  • Heart disease
  • Liver problems
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Alzheimer’s disease and dementia

Plus, caffeine from coffee can increase your metabolism and help you burn more fat from exercise. Coffee can improve your energy level, alertness, memory and mood!

That said, you can have too much of a good thing. Excess caffeine can raise your blood pressure. How much is OK? Stick with two to five cups a day and you’ll be fine.

Myth: Dark Roast Has More Caffeine Than Light Roast

Dark roast coffee has a stronger flavor, so it must be higher in caffeine, right? Wrong. Actually, light roasts usually have a bit more caffeine ounce for ounce because the beans are smaller.

Myth: Coffee Is Addictive

Some people have given up drinking coffee because family members say the person is “addicted.” Honestly, this one gets me upset. Comparing coffee to other addictive substances is a real stretch of the imagination. There’s no reason to feel guilty for liking coffee (or dark chocolate or other perfectly natural foods with caffeine).

Why the whole “addicted” shtick? Caffeine is a stimulant, so it can technically produce a tiny amount of physical dependence. If you stop drinking coffee abruptly, you may get a headache or have trouble concentrating for a few days. That’s it.

On the other hand, addiction to alcohol or opioids requires professional rehabilitation and has life-threatening health risks. There’s just no point of comparison between those things and a harmless cup of coffee.

Myth: The Freezer Is the Best Place To Store Coffee

You bought a few bags of your favorite coffee beans from a store you only visit every few months. You want to keep that oh-so-irresistible aroma smelling fresh. Where should you store the beans? Not in your freezer!

For the freshest coffee, keep those magical beans in a cool, dry place. Your freezer may be cool, but it’s not dry. Freezers have a lot of moisture. They can strip your coffee of its delightful freshness and ruin its flavor with weird smells.

The best place to keep coffee beans is in an airtight container in your cupboard. Give each bag its own container and enjoy rich, intense flavors for months!

Flock to Fonio for Whole-Grain Goodness

While few outside West Africa find fonio among their usual fare, this ancient grain is gaining popularity because of its exceptional health benefits. Pierre Thiam, a restaurant owner from Senegal, touted fonio as the next big alternative to quinoa and brought the grain to the menus of his Brooklyn restaurants back in 2008. Today, you might be able to pick up fonio in your neighborhood if you live near Whole Foods or are lucky enough to have a local African food market.

Africans who consume fonio frequently often consider it a celebratory meal, particularly in Togo, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Senegal. If you're curious about this world whole-grain staple, this guide provides the knowledge you need to incorporate it into your diet.

Nutritional Content of Fonio

Half a cup of cooked fonio has just 170 calories and limited fat, salt and cholesterol. It also has 4% of your recommended daily value of both fiber and iron, as well as plenty of nutritious B vitamins, magnesium, zinc, iron and copper. If you need more calcium in your diet, fonio can deliver with more of this nutrient than any other grain.

Health Benefits of Fonio

First, good news if you're gluten-free; fonio provides a safe alternative for those who can't digest wheat protein. It's also rich in amino acids and micronutrients you won't find in wheat, corn or rice. These compounds help with the growth of new skin, nail and hair cells. Your body cannot make these nutrients, so you must get them from your diet.

The B vitamin content supports the function, growth and development of the body's cells. Iron and copper build connective tissue and red blood cells while magnesium helps the body produce energy. Zinc assists with synthesizing proteins and supporting immunity.

Fonio consists of complex carbohydrates that the body digests all day long, which helps you feel full and keeps blood sugar steady. As a whole grain, it also has the proven ability to reduce your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and stomach, pancreatic and colorectal cancer. Research also associates whole-grain consumption with avoiding obesity and keeping the body's gut health in balance. 

Fonio also has a low glycemic index. That means it can help people who have diabetes control their blood sugar levels.

How to Enjoy Fonio at Home

Many describe fonio as combining the texture of quinoa with the nutty earthiness of couscous. If you're familiar with cooking grains, you're ready to cook fonio. The grain is just as versatile as its more common cousins, such as rice, farro and barley. You can use it in place of any of those choices in salads, soups and stews. It also works well in a traditional preparation as a porridge. If you can get your hands on fonio flour, you can even use it in your favorite cakes, muffins, and baked goods.

Aren't sure where to start? Use these simple steps for perfect fonio every time:

  • Boil 1 cup of salted water over high heat.
  • Stir in 1/4 cup of dry fonio and cover tightly.
  • Reduce heat to low.
  • Cook for about 15 minutes or until the grain absorbs all liquid. 
  • Remove lid and fluff with a fork. The fonio is done when it's tender yet firm, without excess moisture.

You can also look for any recipe with millet since fonio is part of the same family and offers a good one-to-one substitute. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says that whole grains should make up about half of the bread and grains you eat each day, so spice up your routine by adding fonio to the mix.

How Cutting Out Alcohol Can Impact Your Energy

After a stressful day at work or an evening spent listening to kids fighting, a few big swigs of alcohol can sound pretty appealing. A lot of people think there’s nothing wrong with enjoying booze regularly and watching your worries melt away. Sure, they’ll still be there in the morning, but the brief reprieve can be really nice.

But before you reach for a cold one, you should realize the impact alcohol consumption can have on your overall energy levels. Since we’re at the cusp of another new year, I figured it’s the perfect time to talk about how cutting out alcohol can impact your energy and improve your quality of life.

What Alcohol Does To Your Body

Do you live for Happy Hour? If so, have you ever stopped to wonder why drinking regularly actually causes you to feel less happy and more lifeless? Do you notice a huge slump in energy after a night of partying? That’s because alcohol is a sedative. It can make you drowsy, but it often leads to low-quality, interrupted sleep (which can leave you looking and feeling like a zombie the next day).

If you feel physically drained all the time, it may be time to take a good, hard look at alcohol (just a look, not a drink!) It may be the sneaky villain you didn’t realize was stealthily sabotaging your life while pretending to be your best friend. That’s pretty rotten.

What Happens When You Cut Out Alcohol

If you’re still not convinced that alcohol is the archenemy of your energy levels, here are a few of the amazing things you could experience if you cut it out of your life. Just pretend it’s your ex-boyfriend and there’s no way you’re letting him weasel his way back into your heart. Once you kick alcohol out for good, you’ll likely experience:

  • Increased Energy: Without the constant impact of morning hangovers, you’ll be amazed at how energetic you feel when you wake up. You’ll also experience higher-quality sleep when you don’t drink alcohol.
  • Fewer Food Cravings: Did you know booze can trigger food cravings? It activates AgRP neurons, which trigger intense hunger and can make you crave unhealthy things.
  • Easier Weight Maintenance: Alcohol is not a low-calorie drink, which means you’ll have a harder time maintaining a healthy weight if you consume it regularly. When you stop drinking those extra calories, your waistline will respond in kind.
  • Decreased Risk of Dehydration: Alcohol is dehydrating because it’s a diuretic and flushes water out of your body. Replacing alcohol with a healthier choice (such as fruit-infused water) is a great way to increase hydration.
  • Improved Digestion: One of the surprising drawbacks of alcohol consumption is that it can alter the gastric motility of your stomach. This means it can make it harder for you to digest the food you eat. When you stop drinking alcohol, your digestion will most likely improve.
  • Reduced Risk of Disease: Excess alcohol consumption is linked to diseases such as heart disease and liver disease. When you stop indulging in booze, you reduce your risk of developing these life-threatening health conditions.
  • Healthier Skin: Since alcohol is a diuretic, it can dry out your skin and cause it to look dull and saggy. Fortunately, you can reverse this effect by simply staying away from alcohol. It only takes a few days of abstinence in most cases to notice that the skin looks and feels plumper and more hydrated.

This list is just a small snapshot of how your life could improve if you decided to cut alcohol out of it. Not everyone can quit cold turkey, and that’s OK! As long as you’re consistently making efforts to consume less booze, you’ll eventually find it easier to replace alcohol with healthier options. When things get hard, just remember you’re doing this to improve your health and energy.

Lip Flip Versus Lip Filler: Which Option Is Right for You

Full, luscious lips are a trademark of beauty all over the globe. Because of the beauty standard, many people will try anything to increase and perfect the look of their lips, including the application of excessive makeup or even plastic surgery.

One of the most popular methods for achieving a fuller lip is with Botox treatments, traditionally lip filler. However, there is a growing trend that focuses on flipping the top lip upwards, providing a similar result. The option that best suits you might vary from that which suits your friends.

Understanding Lip Flip

The lip flip procedure uses a neuromodulator injected above the upper lip into the orbicularis oris muscle — the muscle that allows you to roll your lips under or make a kissy face. The injection of the Botox or Dysport will cause the muscle to relax, which results in the upward roll of the lip, exposing the vermillion and creating the appearance of more volume.

Despite the relative newness of the term "lip flip," the procedure is not new. Therefore, any hesitation you might have regarding a lack of data is unfounded. Doctors have been successfully performing lip flips for years. While there are some warnings floating around on social media, the professional consensus is when working with a qualified injector, there are minimal risks.

Understanding Lip Filler

While a lip flip requires the injection of a neuromodulator into the area above the lip, a lip filler uses a dermal filler injected directly into the lip area to increase volume. A lip filler is a gel-like substance, and according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, there are various brands that all achieve unique aesthetics. For instance, polylactic acid-based products are excellent for adding volume to thin lips, while hyaluronic acid-based fillers help plump and redefine borders.

Fillers will also change the firmness of your lips. The thicker the filler is, the firmer the lips. Also, the longer the filler lasts will also have an effect on the texture of the lips, with longer-lasting options resulting in firmer lips.

Additionally, lip fillers tend to be more versatile than neuromodulators like Botox. Fillers allow surgeons to accentuate specific parts of the lip, such as the Cupid's bow. It is also possible to fill parts of the lip that help accentuate dimples. Finally, fillers can be used on both the top and bottom lips to add volume.

Choosing Between the Two

The lip flip is a more subtle option, and it is most beneficial for patients with an upper lip that tends to tuck under when smiling. Lip filler is the brute force option, and you will notice the difference.

While choosing is difficult, it is essential to note that it is unnecessary. You can use both options concurrently. However, if you are on the fence about changing your look, consider starting with the lip flip to see how you like the subtle change. Also, remember that neither option is permanent, so no harm, no foul.

Do you think you will try a lip flip or use lip filler? Comment below.

My Top At-Home Beauty Devices

I firmly believe you don’t have to undergo expensive surgical procedures or visit the spa every week to have incredible skin. My skin used to look pretty wrinkly, dehydrated and dull, so I decided to take matters into my own hands. Through trial and error, I discovered which at-home beauty devices work well and which aren’t worth my time and money.

To help you avoid making the same mistakes I did, I decided to compile a list of my favorite at-home beauty devices. They actually work and can transform the appearance of your skin. You’re welcome.

Jade Facial Rollers

OK, I have to admit that I used to think jade facial rollers were just a scam. After all, what could rolling an elongated jade stone across your face possibly do for your skin? But after reading articles about all the benefits jade rolling can provide, I decided to at least give it a try before I dismissed it as a waste of money. I was pleasantly surprised by what I experienced.

Though jade rolling didn’t give me miraculous results right away, after doing it for a few weeks I started to notice a difference in the appearance of my skin. It turns out that jade rolling helps to stimulate lymphatic drainage, reduce puffiness and promote blood circulation.

All of these benefits helped make my skin look firmer and less puffy. Plus, the cold roller feels amazing on your face first thing in the morning.  Since a jade roller is such an inexpensive beauty tool and provides such great benefits, it makes it onto my list of top at-home beauty devices.

Facial Steamers

If you’ve never used a facial steamer before, you’re in for a treat. These fairly simple beauty tools aren’t complicated to use. You just fill the steamer with purified or distilled water, turn it on, and put your face over it. Easy-peasy. Here’s what regular facial steaming sessions can do for your skin.

  • Promote blood circulation
  • Hydrate the skin
  • Open up your pores and soften blackheads so they’re easier to remove
  • Promotes production of elastin and collagen
  • Helps your body absorb skincare products more effectively
  • Relieves sinus congestion
  • Releases sebum that’s trapped in your skin’s pores
  • Soothes and relaxes the skin

There are different techniques you can try to get the most out of your facial steamer. Try putting a big fluffy towel over your head while you’re steaming to trap the steam around your face. For best results, keep your steaming sessions to between five and 10 minutes.

Microneedling Tools

Microneedling is incredible for stimulating the production of elastin and collagen. A microneedling tool (also called a derma roller) is a handheld tool with a roller that’s covered with tiny needles. Though that may sound scary, it’s not very uncomfortable (depending on the size of needles you use). For at-home use, you should stick to derma rollers with needles that are no larger than 0.5mm. This will help ensure you don’t injure yourself or increase your risk of infection.

To use a derma roller, carefully follow the instructions that come with your roller. With appropriate use, you can expect to see improvements in your skin. Some people report improvements in the following:

  • Acne scarring
  • Stretch marks
  • Wrinkles and fine lines
  • Thinning hair
  • Enlarged pores

If you feel like you could use improvements in these areas, consider investing in a derma roller. Just make sure you carefully sanitize your derma roller before and after each use. This will minimize the chances of infections.

There are so many great at-home beauty devices out there, but these are just a few of my favorites. I recommend them to anyone who is serious about improving the health and appearance of their skin at home.

Top 3 Reasons To Support Cruelty-Free Products

When looking at your favorite little furry friend, cat, dog, bunny, etc., can you ever imagine doing anything to harm them? Animal testing subjects familiar animals and breeds to unnecessary and inhumane torture for the sake of profits.

According to the organization Cruelty-Free International, over 115 million animals, including dogs and cats, are subject to tests and abuse in labs worldwide. The best way to protest such practices is to purchase cruelty-free products. There are at least three reasons to support cruelty-free brands.

1. Animal Testing Is Unnecessary

While many brands, including cosmetics producers, claim animal testing is necessary to prove human safety and efficacy, this is a lie. There are over 7,000 ingredients producers can choose from to formulate their products that are deemed safe. The extensive list is more than enough to create many products, but producers want to make more money.

The only reason manufacturers still favor animal testing is for financial gains. If a company can find a new chemical or compound, it can call itself innovative, regardless of the uniqueness of the discovery. Animals are often mistreated in the pursuit of chemicals and compounds that act similarly or identically to other proven and known compounds, meaning testing is abuse for profit.

Additionally, alternative testing practices, including in vitro and computer model testing, are equally effective compared to animal testing and are frequently more advantageous. Animal testing is unnecessary.

2. Animal Testing Is Cruel

Many people do not realize the extent of the cruelty animals experience during testing. The animals are often locked in inadequately sized cages. They are blinded, maimed, tortured, and killed. Their lives are nothing but suffering and fear.

Governments worldwide are beginning to recognize the mistreatment, torture, and abuse of testing, placing bans on the practice. Israel, New Zealand, Norway, India, and the EU have banned animal testing. Unfortunately, the U.S. still allows the practice.

In many laboratories, beagles are favored as test subjects because of the breed's docile nature. In 2013, 67,772 dogs and 24,221 cats were subjects of tests. As with any other laboratory animal, these domesticated species were deprived of the fundamental rights we allow our pets.

Choosing cruelty-free products is not an immediate resolution to animal testing, but it does send a message to brands that consumers are against the practice. With enough focus and pressure from consumers about cruelty-free options, businesses, politicians, and brands might take a closer look at animal testing and reassess it.

3. Cruelty-Free Is Environmentally Friendly

Many consumers want natural products, items with fewer additives and formulated compounds. Truly natural products can have less impact on the environment when produced or eventually discarded. Average cosmetic products can lead to toxic interactions with the environment when washed down the drain or discarded.

Additionally, the parabens and sulfates used in many products can be harmful to you in the long term. They can lead to increased signs of aging and other skin issues.

Cruelty-free products are better for you, the environment, and animals. The number of animals residing in labs and subjected to abuse and neglect is staggering. You can make a difference.

Do you use cruelty-free products? If not, will you start? Comment below.