5 Hacks To Get Rid of Belly Bloat Quickly

I HATE trying to slip on that amazing pair of jeans I bought for girls’ nights out (the ones that make my butt look AWESOME) and not be able to close the zipper because of bloat. I know those jeans fit, but my tummy won’t cooperate! Sound familiar? If so, try these 5 secrets to getting rid of a bloated belly quickly.

1. Shake Your Booty

I know that going for a jog doesn’t sound very appetizing when your stomach feels bloated, but physical activity is one of the best ways to help get things moving inside. Even light exercise is fine, such as talking a walk, stretching or dancing for 5–10 minutes.

2. Massage Your Tummy

A fun way to calm a bloated belly and encourage your bowels to do their thing is with a gentle abdominal massage. It’s really easy.

Start by placing one of your hands on the right side of your belly, near your hip bone. Slowly move upwards, rubbing softly using a circular motion. Once you reach the top of your tummy, follow this movement straight across to the other side. Then move your hand down the left side of your stomach.

In other words, you’re massaging your tummy in a square pattern while making little circles with your hands. Repeat this several times. You don’t need to press hard for it to work.

3. Enjoy a Warm Bubble Bath

Believe it or not, bloating is often caused by stress. Anxiety can mess with your hormones and cause digestive problems that lead to a bloated tummy. My favorite solution? Pampering myself with a warm bath and some scented oils (or Epsom salt).

This is great for relieving bloating for several reasons. The warm water soothes sore muscles and helps with abdominal pain. It’s also incredibly relaxing, especially with aromatic oils or candles. If bloating is a regular occurrence, try to schedule some private bubble bath “you” time once a week.

4. Drink Some Tea

Several herbal teas are wonderful for alleviating gas, bloating and abdominal pain. Here are a few of my favorite teas for times when you have a bloating emergency:

  • Star anise

  • Peppermint

  • Ginger

  • Lemon balm

  • Chamomile

  • Fennel

Peppermint tea may even help people who have irritable bowel syndrome to feel better. Studies show that peppermint oil helps to relax the gut in IBS patients.

5. Get More Fiber

“Fiber?! But I’m too young!” you say. Actually, all of need to get plenty of fiber in our diets. Bloating can happen to 18-year-old women with perfect curves as well as working moms with two kids and … slightly less perfect curves.

Most people don’t need fiber capsules; you can get what you need from a healthy diet. Add these fiber superstars to your meals or enjoy them as healthy snacks:

  • Whole grains: Oatmeal, quinoa and popcorn

  • Fresh fruits: Pears, strawberries, apples, raspberries and bananas

  • Veggies: Carrots, spinach, beets, kale and artichokes

  • Legumes: Lentils, black beans, chickpeas and kidney beans

  • Nuts and seeds: Chia seeds, almonds

Your body depends on plant fiber to keep its digestive system working properly. Smooth, regular trips to the bathroom are one of the best ways to enjoy a flat tummy and prevent bloating. Great nutrition is, not surprisingly, the key to fitting into those jeans every time.

5 of the Best Dance Classes for Weight Loss

Dance class

For me, what makes dancing amazing for exercise is the way it keeps you motivated. A great beat keeps you energized and helps you push through the burn for even better results. Here are five of my favorite dance classes:

1. Hip-Hop

Do you love to bounce and sway when your favorite songs come on the radio? I do. If you're like me, a hip-hop dance class is perfect for you. It involves a range of motion for your entire body, including arm punches, shoulder moves, high steps, hip slides, spins and jumps. These classes are a blast, and they’re amazing for slimming your waistline. You can easily reach 400–500 calories burned per hour or more.

Dance class

2. Freestyle

Freestyle classes are a great choice for people who love to dance but don’t like having to remember steps. Whether you’re into hip-hop rhythms, Latin music, electronic vibes or even classical music, freestyle lets you do your own thing. The important thing is to stay active the whole time, but you can move your feet, arms, hips and tummy however you feel like.

3. Belly Dancing and Bollywood

If your goal is to specifically target stubborn tummy fat, then belly dancing is hard to beat. This exotic dance comes from places such as Morocco and Egypt. It involves precise movements of the hips, belly and buttocks, from slow gyrations and twists to sexy slides and vibrations. All of these movements are heaven for your midsection, burning fat while toning abdominal muscles and glutes like no tomorrow.

Bollywood dances use some of these motions while including whole-body moves and unique hand and arm flairs. Think hip-hop with a touch of gracefulness. These are some of the best feel-good dance activities out there. Trust me, you will have a huge smile afterwards.

Tango

4. Tango

Ballroom dances such as tango may burn less calories than intense aerobic activities, but they’re also gentler on your body. It takes some practice to learn the steps, but showing off your tango prowess is kind of the point. Other options include foxtrot and waltzes.

5. Salsa or Merengue

Latin dance rhythms can help you burn TONS of calories. You only need to learn six simple steps and the rest is up to your mood! Salsa is a high-energy, fast-tempo dance that gets your feet moving. It’s excellent for cardio and moves your lower body and hips a lot.

Merengue has a slower tempo than salsa and is lower impact for people with tender joints, but it still gives you a great workout. Salsa and merengue exercise your legs, glutes, hips and abdomen. Add in some arm movements and you’ve got a great whole-body workout that keeps you pumped.

Dancer

All the Benefits of Dancing

One hour of dancing can help you burn 400 calories or more, which is what you get from riding a bicycle, jogging or swimming. That makes it great for weight loss. In addition, you get tons of other benefits:

  • Better flexibility
  • Stronger bones
  • Higher energy levels
  • Happier mood
  • Less stress
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Improved cardiovascular health
  • Lower risk of memory problems

Want some extra fun? You can do most dances with a partner for excitement (or some romance). Burning calories as a team is a great idea. No matter what dance class you’re interested in, my advice is just try it! You won’t believe how awesome you feel and how many calories you sweat.

5 Tips for Fuller, Smoother and Shinier Hair

Full hair

In a recent study, a whopping 98% of women said that gorgeous hair makes them feel more confident. I feel that way, too, but using 1,000 different treatments isn’t easy as a busy mom. Fortunately, according to science, you can keep your hair shiny, healthy and breathtaking with these five hair secrets:

Girl with long hair

1. Brush Your Hair

Brushing hair isn’t just something teen girls do at slumber parties. This relaxing activity should be a regular part of your beauty routine (or as close to one as a mom with kids can get). The action of brushing is vital for hydrating hair strands since it spreads natural oils from your follicles all the way to your tips.

Girl with shiny hair

2. Make a Nourishing Hair Mask

What’s not to love about treating your hair to completely natural ingredients? Here is my favorite DIY hair mask recipe:

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The SoCal Hair Mask Extraordinaire:

This is ideal for damaged or dull hair. It combines energizing omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidant-rich olive oil. For extra shine, replace avocado with 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar.

  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 avocado, mashed
  • 1 tablespoon honey

First, get your hair wet. Take some of the mixture in your fingertips and gently apply to your hair from bottom to top. Let the hair mask do its magic for 30 minutes before showering.

Girl with wet hair

3. Treat Wet Hair With Care

Whenever you apply haircare products, do it gently, even if you’re in a hurry. Start with your roots and work outward. Let your fingertips glide effortlessly through the strands without tugging. Also, be gentle when toweling off. Don’t tie your hair tightly with towels.

Woman with long hair

4. Look for Naturally Healthy Haircare Ingredients

What you put on your hair makes a big difference for how brilliant, strong and full it looks. Here are my faves:

  • Honey extract: Honey can soothe irritated hair follicles, flakiness and itchiness. It’s a great ingredient for natural dandruff care.
  • Coconut oil: This luxurious oil penetrates deep into the scalp and hair strands, hydrating your hair and protecting it from sun damage.
  • Avocado oil: Like whole avocado, this rich oil is a wonderful conditioner for shine, giving your hair plenty of vitamins B and E.
  • Seaweed extracts: These exotic stars control oiliness and stimulate healthy hair growth.

Avoid hair products that use dangerous chemicals such as parabens and sodium lauryl sulfate. Trust me, it’s completely possible to stick to your budget and still focus on good, natural shampoo ingredients.

Woman drying her hair

5. Make Time for Your Scalp

You need to pamper your scalp! The hair follicles in your scalp are the moms of your hair strands. And when mom is happy, everybody is happy. At least once a month, make time for yourself. Draw up a bubble bath and start with a relaxing scalp massage using natural oils.

I prefer using olive oil (I like to close my eyes and imagine I’m in Italy), but you can also choose jojoba oil, coconut oil, aloe vera gel or shea butter. These ingredients replenish your scalp’s natural oils, repair damage and hydrate your hair.

Woman walking in garden

Those are my five hair hacks to give busy moms vivacious and vibrant hair. Do you have other tips? I would love to hear about them. Leave your secrets in a comment below!

The Best All-Natural Face Masks Made From Things You Already Have in Your Pantry

Woman with skin care mask

There’s no question that a good face mask can do wonders for rejuvenating tired skin and making you look more youthful. But purchasing commercial face masks can get expensive, which is why many people reserve them for special occasions. The great news is that you can enjoy a luxurious face mask whenever you want, without breaking the bank. Here are some of the best all-natural face mask options you can make with things you already have in your pantry!

Egg white Face Mask

Egg White Mask

Egg whites are so versatile and are good for much more than making cookies. In fact, the humble egg white is highly nourishing for your face and makes a great face mask. They are high in protein, which your skin needs to stay tight and firm. You can add some oatmeal to your egg white mask to restore moisture to your pores and help the egg whites stick.

This mask is exceptionally easy to make. All you do is separate an egg white from the yolk. You can reserve the yolk for a recipe or throw it away. Whisk the egg white until it is nice and bubbly, then add enough oats to the mixture to help make it a little stickier. Then, slather the mixture onto your face and leave it there for 20 minutes. Rinse off with warm water and add a quality facial moisturizer as needed.

Coffee Face Mask

Coffee can help you feel awake and enlivened in the morning, and that’s exactly what a coffee face mask will do for you, too. It has wonderful benefits for the skin and can help combat redness and inflammation. To create a face mask with this energizing substance, mix about a quarter-cup of ground beans with a dash of milk and lemon juice until it forms a thick paste.

Smooth the paste onto your face and leave it there for between 10 and 15 minutes. Make sure you avoid your eyes, since the lemon juice will sting them. Rinse the mixture off with warm water and pay attention to how much better your skin feels!

Bananas

Banana Face Mask

The thought of smearing mashed bananas onto your face might make you cringe, but don’t knock it until you try it! Bananas are rich in potassium, and they are also a good source of manganese, vitamin C and biotin. These are all great nutrients for the health of your skin.

To create this mask, mash up one banana and add in a teaspoon or so of honey and a dash of lemon juice. Once the mixture is thick enough to stick to your face, apply as you would a regular mask. Leave it on for 10 minutes before rinsing off with warm water.

Avocado Face Mask

Avocado Face Mask

Avocados contain healthy fats that can help make your skin more supple and soft. They also contain plenty of skin-friendly vitamins. To create a mask using this impressive fruit, mash up half an avocado and add a pit of honey and hot water to the mixture until a soft paste forms. Smooth the paste onto your face and leave it there for 10 minutes before washing away. Use this mask a few times a week for maximum skin-tightening and moisturizing benefits.

Woman looking in the mirror

Brown Sugar and Honey Scrub

This exceptional face mask functions as a scrub as well and will leave your lips and face baby-soft. To make it, mix ½ tbsp. honey with 1 tsp. of lemon and ½ tbsp. of brown sugar in a bowl. Gently rub onto the lips and skin using your middle and ring fingers in a circular motion. Allow to sit on your skin for 5-10 minutes before rinsing off with cool water.

Woman peeling face mask

These masks are so simple and easy to make. And the best part is that you don’t need to purchase any expensive ingredients, because you already have what you need right there in your kitchen!

10 Days and 70 Ounces of Water — This Is What Happened To My Body

Glass of Water

For the past 10 days, this brave work-at-home mom with nerves of steel made sure she got exactly 70 ounces of water a day. Over this time, I learned why doctors insist people drink more water. Here’s what you can expect:

1. I Peed … a Lot

The first thing I discovered is that if your body isn’t used to drinking so much water, you’re going to use the bathroom at least a couple of times a morning. One interesting side note is that my pee was much clearer than usual. After a quick Google search, I learned that this meant my kidneys were working great. So, thanks water for protecting my kidneys!

Woman drinking Water

2. The Munchies Disappeared

This is one of the things that surprised me the most. During my 10 day experiment, I gradually noticed that my cravings for chocolate started to disappear. I wouldn’t turn down a few scoops of chocolate ice-cream if you offered, but I don’t feel the same pull for chocolate or snacks as before. It turns out this is real science. The munchies are often caused by dehydration, not because you’re hungry. Yeah, the brain is pretty weird sometimes.

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Potato Chips

3. I Have More Energy

As someone who LOVES coffee with her heart and soul, I was pleasantly surprised to see that drinking more water meant I didn’t need to brew a pot for the afternoon. I wasn’t sleepy, depressed or dragging my feet. My mind is more alert. I rely less on pick-me-ups during the day. Dehydration is one of the main causes of fatigue, so it’s no surprise that staying hydrated feels SO FREAKING INCREDIBLE for your muscles, your brain and your mood.

Woman Running

4. My Skin Looks Phenomenal

I’m not the kind of person who spends tons of time with makeup. I tend to focus on my “natural beauty,” AKA pray that my hair doesn’t get tangled as I toss on my pajamas for working from home. However, I made a surprising discovery after upping my water intake: My skin is shockingly lustrous and smooth! Apparently, staying hydrated on the inside directly leads to the amount of moisture your skin gets. In fact, drinking plenty of water can be more effective than applying moisturizer to dry skin. Who knew?!

Woman Looking in Mirror

The Secret To Staying Hydrated

I’m not normally forgetful, but remembering to get those eight glasses of water was more of a challenge than I expected. Here are a few ways to stay on track:

  • Set a BUNCH of water alarms on your smartphone: After a while, you’ll start to remember.
  • Use a squeeze bottle and keep it with you: No idea why, but squeeze bottles made it more exciting to drink water.
  • Drink water BEFORE you eat: This helps you remember and helps you lose weight, too.
  • Eat more fruit: Fresh fruit has water, keeping you hydrated. It also comes with tons of nutrients for your body.
  • Make it fun with an infuser: I started infusing my water with grapefruit, peaches, cucumbers and kiwi. It was so tasty that I actually looked forward to it.
Water infused with cucumber

In case you’re wondering, 70 ounces of water is basically half a gallon a day. It’s about eight glasses, but eight of those tiny plastic cups, not eight huge drinking glasses. I definitely recommend taking on your own 70-oz. water challenge!

Beauty Products I’ve Ditched This Year (and What I’m Using Instead)

Beauty Products

It seems like a good year for cleaning out closets, redefining priorities, and generally doing a big life edit. If you've been feeling this way, too, you may not have thought about decluttering your beauty cabinet. It's a good thing to do a couple of times a year because every cosmetic product has a shelf life. When you start poking around in there, you may be shocked by how old some of your stuff is. Time flies, right? The age of a product isn't the only benchmark to consider when ditching beauty products, though. Consider the following when making decisions about what to keep and what to toss.

Toxins and Other Unhealthy Ingredients

You may have heard of the dirty dozen list that tells you which types of produce are most likely to be contaminated with pesticides, but did you know there is also a dirty dozen list that pertains to beauty products? The list includes sodium laureth sulfate, formaldehyde-releasing preservatives, and parabens. You may be shocked to learn that these potentially cancer-causing ingredients are not prohibited in products that touch your skin. It's up to you to educate yourself and avoid these products. You should also steer away from products that are comedogenic, such as coconut oil, or too harsh for your delicate facial skin, such as pore strips.

Chemicals

Unethical Practices

If a cosmetic label says "not tested on animals," that means it's not tested on animals, right? Not necessarily. Such a claim may apply only to the finished product. Some cosmetics producers contract with other companies to do their animal testing for them, or they may use ingredients that are currently tested on animals. If cruelty-free products are important to you, find out about certifications such as Leaping Bunny and what the certification guarantees. You may find that some ingredients have been extensively tested on animals in the past, but are no longer used that way because their safety has been proven for decades.

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Needle

Non-sustainable Packaging

Sheet masks, disposable wipes, and non-recyclable packaging add a considerable amount of pollution to the earth when you throw them out. Look for packages that can be recycled at home or find a beauty supplier that takes back packaging for industrial recycling. Another option is to purchase durable containers that you can reuse when the product is gone. Many high-end beauty products come in glass containers that can be refilled or used for crafts or to hold small items on your desk.

Sustainable packaging

The bottom line is that you should know what's in the products you're using. Read ingredient lists and claims you find on labels. Know which claims have standardized meanings and which are only marketing speak. When you know what's important to you and you understand cosmetics labels, you're in a terrific position to make good choices about what you'll allow into your home and onto your skin. Although it may be difficult to throw out containers that still have product in them, your body and mind will thank you for taking a stand.

How I Unwind After a Stressful Day

Happy Lady

Although no one enjoys feeling stressed out, anxiety is a natural response to stressful situations. It helps us protect ourselves and be more alert to danger. However, living in the modern world probably creates more stress than is useful. Sometimes you just need to decompress, and it's important to find healthy, sustainable ways of doing that. Healthy ways of unwinding help to renew you. They don't simply make you forget your problems or make things worse in the long run.

Strategies for Renewing Your Energy

Breathwork:

You hear it everywhere these days: Practice mindful breathing. Do you know why everyone is talking about it? It's because it works, and it's not a mind trick. Studies have shown that breathing mindfully can decrease negative thoughts, reduce stress hormones in your body, and help regulate your heart rate and blood pressure.

Breathwork

Treating yourself:

No, it's not about going on a shopping spree. Instead, nourish your body and mind with something you enjoy, such as a warm cup of tea, a hot shower, listening to your favorite music, or snuggling with a partner or pet. The key is to set aside time to do these things without distractions, even if it's only for 10 minutes. Be fully present in the moment.

lady in bath

Getting your blood pumping:

You may think that raising your heart rate would make you more anxious, not help you relax, but the opposite is true. You don't need to knock yourself out running a marathon after work, but a brisk walk or a round of jumping jacks can reduce stress hormones and raise your endorphin levels.

Taking a break from bikeride

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Temporary Stress Relievers To Avoid

Junk food:

Although having a sweet treat is fine once in a while, reaching for processed foods every day will make you feel worse overall.

Person eating chips

Alcohol:

Some health professionals recommend a glass of wine for its physical benefits. However, if you find yourself reaching for a hard drink every time something doesn't go your way, you risk forming a dependency that's hard to break. Alcohol also clouds your judgment and is full of empty calories that can leave you feeling sluggish.

Alcohol

TV binging:

If you want to unwind while watching a movie or TV show, fine. If you find yourself staring at the screen for hours on end, though, this probably isn't the stress reliever for you. Too much TV can easily make you feel worse instead of better.

Watching TV

Procrastination:

Stress at the end of the day is bad enough. Don't make it worse by procrastinating on prepping for the next day.

Person sleeping on couch

As with anything, moderation is your best bet. Too much relaxation can cause you to get behind on things that help your life run smoothly, and once your routine is thrown out of balance, you get more stressed out. The solution here is to get organized, not to take more time off. On the other hand, structuring every minute of your day in the name of productivity is a surefire path to burnout. It's natural to get off balance once in a while. The key is to catch yourself, reexamine your priorities, and make needed adjustments.

Amazing Health Benefits of House Plants

Houseplants

House plants are incredibly popular as decorative elements, but did you know they have health benefits, too? It's true! Those pretty plants add more than just a splash of color to the room. It makes sense, though, when you think about how the earth we live on is naturally full of plants. Read on to learn about the ways house plants are good for you, and you just might decide to pick up a few more for your favorite living spaces.

Children with plants

Cleaner Air

Just like you learned in third-grade science class, plants clean the air. Not only do they release oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide, but they also remove toxins, including volatile organic compounds, from the air. Between increasing the amount of oxygen in the room and purifying the air, your humble plants may be making it easier for you to breathe.

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To boost the level of air purification, increase the number of plants. One plant for every 100 square feet is a good rule of thumb. A few common house plants that have been proven to remove VOCs are gerbera daisies, spider plants, peace lilies, and chrysanthemums.

Houseplant

Higher Humidity

Plants take in water through their roots and release it into the air through their leaves. This process, called transpiration, can increase the humidity level of your home. You don't usually see your plants releasing moisture into the air because it's very subtle, but it can make a difference to your indoor environment. If you live in a dry climate, try placing several plants together near your bed or workspace, and see whether you experience fewer symptoms of dry air.

Plants around the computer

Increased Concentration

Although the exact cause is not well-understood, several research studies have shown that students concentrate better and retain more information when their learning spaces include plants. When choosing house plants for your learning or working space, consider how much natural light enters the area as well as how often someone will be around to water and care for the plants.

Plant by window

Lower Blood Pressure

You likely already know that eating more plants may help improve cardiovascular health, but did you know that simply adding them to your environment may also help lower blood pressure? Studies have shown that hospital patients tend to have lower blood pressure when their rooms are filled with plants. They also tend to heal faster from surgery and trauma. Even if you aren't unwell, adding house plants to your living space may help you relax and feel better overall.

Plant close up

A Sense of Accomplishment

There's something about caring for plants that gives some people an immense feeling of purpose and accomplishment. For some, tending to house plants can also provide a sense of companionship, especially if they live alone and don't have any pets. No matter how seriously you take your indoor gardening hobby, being responsible for a living thing and seeing it thrive and grow under your care can be a powerful experience.

If you're new to keeping house plants, start small. Choose plants that are hard to kill. As you get the hang of it, you can add more exotic house plants, one at a time. When you find a plant you really like, research how to propagate it. Then, you can either give away starts or use them to green up more rooms in your home or office.

Kombucha Tea: Good for You or Just a Fad?

Kombucha

My first sip of kombucha was honestly more delicious than I expected. It tastes like peach tea mixed with extremely tart green apples. Kombucha has a refreshing sourness, slight sweetness and just enough fizz to tickle your nose. What exactly is this drink popping up around coffee shops and store shelves?

Kombucha: A Tangy and Tasty Tea

Kombucha is a tangy, fermented tea. According to tradition, this exotic drink originated somewhere in Japan or China. People in Asia have been drinking it on a daily basis for thousands of years.

Kombucha is made using black or green tea leaves, but it’s not prepared like any tea you’ve ever seen. After boiling the leaves with lots of sugar for several hours, a special combination of yeast and good bacteria called a SCOBY is added.

This makes the tea ferment, similar to what happens to grapes as they turn into wine. This process changes the flavor of the tea and adds certain beneficial health properties.

Cold Kombucha

The Benefits of Kombucha Tea

So far, what we know for sure is that kombucha is packed with probiotics — healthy bacteria for your gut. That means that drinking kombucha tea may offer similar benefits to eating yogurt. Probiotics help to improve your digestive health, restoring your intestinal flora and taking great care of your immune system.

Also, kombucha has tons of antioxidants since it comes from green tea leaves. These natural compounds protect all of your cells and especially your heart. Antioxidants in kombucha can reduce bad cholesterol levels and help you balance your blood sugar. Some studies suggest that kombucha can reduce your risk of heart disease by as much as 30%, in addition to helping your liver and kidneys. Here are a few other possible benefits:

  • Better fat burning
  • Slimmer waistline
  • Stronger resistance to infections
  • Increased mental focus
  • Reduced risk of cancer

You know how doctors and scientists can be when it comes to the health benefits of anything natural. They won’t say that something is beneficial unless they do TONS of studies to prove it 100%. In the case of kombucha, not all health professionals are convinced, though there are countless testimonials from people who drink the tea regularly.

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Should You Make Kombucha Tea at Home?

If a friend of mine offered me some homemade kombucha, I probably wouldn’t accept it (unless it’s someone who has been brewing it for ages as a family tradition). Experts don’t recommend making your own kombucha because of the potential for contamination. If any bad bacteria get mixed in with the good, it can lead to stomach infections or worse.

Store-bought brands are perfectly safe, however. Of course, you may want to start slow if you have a sensitive stomach. Keep in mind that kombucha tea can have some alcohol from the fermentation process.

Kombucha Bottles

The Bottom Line

I’m a fan of kombucha. I think it shows a lot of promise and it tastes refreshing. You can even choose kombucha tea made with extra natural ingredients, including ginger, basil, coconut, strawberries, almonds and cherries. Of course, I check the label and choose varieties that are low in sugar.

My advice? Try kombucha for yourself. You know your body, and you can see if you feel healthier after a few months drinking this energizing, antioxidant-rich tea with a probiotic kick.

Is It a Mole or a Freckle? When To Worry

Woman with birthmark

The other day I noticed a strange mark on my skin that didn’t look like a regular freckle. Naturally, I was intrigued and (if I’m being honest) a little scared. My mind took me away to all sorts of undesirable scenarios, including the scary “c” word. Fortunately, skin cancer is usually highly treatable when it’s caught early, but it’s still a diagnosis no one wants to receive.

I went into “sleuth” mode and started researching moles and freckles on the internet. Though I’m not technically an expert on the subject, I’m pretty confident that my hours of research yielded some useful information. Here’s what I learned about the differences between moles and freckles, and when you should start to worry about a strange mark on your skin.

Woman's Back

How To Identify a Mole

Moles are quite common, and are typically nothing to be worried about. They form when skin cells called melanocytes grow in a cluster rather than spreading outward. Moles usually form during the first 25 years of your life, but they can form after that as well. Most adults have between 10 and 40 moles. Who knew?
It’s normal for moles to grow a little bit over the years. They may even develop one or more hairs (unfortunately!). It’s normal for moles to become darker during pregnancy, during teenage years, or after prolonged exposure to the sun. Other moles may actually get smaller or even disappear during your lifetime. Some people have moles that grow in groups, while others have moles that grow in isolation on different parts of the body. Moles may bleed when nicked while shaving, but most don’t cause any pain on a regular basis.

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How To Identify a Freckle

A freckle is a cluster of pigment cells in the skin. Like moles, freckles often become darker after sun exposure. But unlike moles, freckles are completely flat, which means you can’t feel them when you run your finger across them.
Freckles can come in different colors, but they are usually light-brown or tan spots on the skin. They’re especially common in red-headed people and those with light complexions. Freckles are generally harmless, and I actually think they’re quite charming! The only time to worry about a freckle is if it starts to exhibit strange growth patterns, which I’ll talk about in the next section.

Doctor

Signs You Should Start To Worry

In most cases, freckles and moles are completely harmless. However, it’s important to keep an eye on them and watch for any strange changes. Use the “ABCDE” rule to figure out if you should worry about a freckle, mole or other skin spot.

  • A (Asymmetry): Most moles and freckles are symmetrical. If you notice that half of a mole or freckle looks different from the other half, it’s time to see a doctor or dermatologist.
  • B (Border): Look at the border of the freckle or mole you’re concerned about. If it looks jagged, blurry or irregular, it’s time to worry.
  • C (Color): Most moles and freckles are a solid color. If you have one or more that are colorful, it’s generally a sign of a problem. Look for spots that are different shades of black, brown, red, pink or even blue.
  • D (Diameter): Most melanomas are larger than 6mm across (about ¼ inch). If you have a freckle or mole that is this large, have it checked out right away. Keep in mind that some melanomas can be smaller, which is why you need to watch out for the other indications of melanoma as well.
  • E (Evolving): If you have a freckle or mole that changes noticeably in color, size or shape, see your doctor asap.

Other warning signs include bleeding, oozing or lumpiness in a mole or other skin spot. You’ll also want to pay close attention to a skin sore that never heals. These are common indications of melanoma and should be addressed immediately.