The Vegan Post

Fitness/Health, Food

Let me start by stating that I am not vegan. I feel compelled to write this post because of a documentary my family watched which caused my parents to go cold-turkey on all animal-based foods.

Before we watched the film, my parents loved fish, chicken, cheese, milk, ice cream… you get the idea. Now? They are doing their best to eat a “whole foods, plant-based diet” and trying to convince everyone they know to do the same. (As for me, I’m choosing vegan and vegetarian options more often, but I can’t bring myself to give up cheese or milk in my coffee quite yet.)

The movie is called Forks Over Knives and it’s currently available on Netflix. “Forks Over Knives examines the profound claim that most, if not all, of the degenerative diseases that afflict us can be controlled, or even reversed, by rejecting our present menu of animal-based and processed foods. The major storyline in the film traces the personal journeys of a pair of pioneering yet under-appreciated researchers, Dr. T. Colin Campbell and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn.” (read more here)

Basically, these two doctors spent their careers experimenting (independently… they didn’t meet each other until later in life) and each came to the conclusion that people who eat a plant-based diet with no animal-based products have a significantly lower chance of getting cancer. The film even features some patients who were able to survive their cancer death sentences by changing their diet. And it’s not only about cancer. The film also interviews patients who got rid of diabetes, high cholesterol, and other health problems by switching to a vegan diet.

You’d think this would be all over the news, because we are always searching for a magical cure to cancer, right? Well, here’s the thing about this possibly magical cure. It’s easy, and it’s cheap. No one is getting rich off this breakthrough. There’s no fancy pharmaceutical drug that a company can charge millions for. It’s just a lifestyle change that anyone can make, with or without the help of a doctor. Frankly, it’s cheaper to eat a plant-based diet than an animal-based one.

“It is time to let food be our medicine.”

What do you think? Are you familiar with this film or with the claims it makes about a plant-based diet? Have you made the switch to veganism?

-L

Period Problems

Advice, Awkward Girl, Feminism

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(Click picture for link to article)

With this BBC article, I was inspired to write about the period.  Don’t run away yet!  I promise this will not be a gorey post.  Menstruation and the taboos surrounding it have been common topics recently among my friends and I.  The subject was most recently broached when discussing having our period at work, and the embarrassing feeling that comes along with having to walk to the bathroom with a tampon in our hand.  God forbid people might know we are on our period!  How did this generation of women become this way?

In a broader sense, women’s menstruation in India is stigmatized heavily.  So much so that they do not have access to proper sanitation.  Women’s rights in India are altogether a huge issue, however just this one basic need is not met partly due to the taboos surrounding it and a lack of education.  If we expect to be able to make a change on the other side of the world, it is important that those who are able around the world leads by example.

I’m glad to see women like Rupi Kaur, starting a conversation about the topic.  Women have had a period since the beginning of time, you’d think it would be a comfortable topic at this point.  I think a lack of education and communication, both in and outside of school, has lead societies around the world to create this awkward bubble around periods.  So I say to girlfriends, talk to your boyfriends about your period, to mothers, talk to your sons about periods, sisters, talk to your brothers.  Open communication is key.  On my part, I refuse to hide my tampon in my sleeve on my way to the bathroom.

-S

Foolproof Smoothie Recipes

Fitness/Health, Food, Recipes

Whether your New Year’s resolution was to eat healthier, you got a blender for Christmas, or you just love smoothies, check out our favorite smoothie recipes.

These are super simple and foolproof because they only contain a few, easy-to-find ingredients, and don’t require exact measurements.

(image source)

My Berry Green Smoothie
spinach + berries + banana + Greek yogurt

  1. Blend up a couple handfuls of spinach with a little water.
  2. Add a couple handfuls of berries and blend. I usually use strawberries and blueberries (frozen or fresh depending on the season).
  3. Add a whole banana and a big dollop of plain, whole fat Greek yogurt for delicious creaminess, and enjoy!
    4. Extras: In the summer, add fresh pineapple, kiwi, or any other fruit you have on hand. You can also add some avocado for extra green color and creaminess. Add a scoop of protein powder if using as a meal replacement or after a workout.

My Strawberry Banana Smoothie
milk + strawberries + banana + oats + peanut butter

1. Blend about 1 cup of milk, a handful of strawberries (fresh are best), one whole banana, a sprinkle of dry oatmeal, and a scoop of peanut butter.
2. That’s it! This is such a quick, delicious, and comforting breakfast smoothie.
3. Extras: Feel free to swap out an alternate milk or nut butter. You could also add protein powder if desired.

My Tropical Smoothie
almond milk + spinach + frozen pineapple and mango + protein powder

1. Blend a couple handfuls of spinach with about a cup of almond milk, plus a scoop of protein powder if desired.
2. Toss in some frozen pineapple and mango and blend.
3. Extras: Add some coconut, papaya, or banana.

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Yum! Enjoy!

What are your go-to smoothie recipes?

-L

Fashion Blogs to Follow

Beauty, Dating, Fashion, Quick Read, Travel, Workplace

These are my most visited blogs and I’ll tell you why!

purse 'n boots

pursenboots.blogspot.com

Written by: Ashley Glorioso

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Senior Stylist for Nasty Gal.  She is a bad ass boho chick, who knows how to make fun of herself and some of her off the wall fashion choices.  I love the little tidbits she writes at the bottom of her photo’s that chronicle a bit of her life and how/why she put that particular outfit together.  She wears lots of Zara, For Love and Lemons, Nasty Gal and amazing vintage finds.  Her style faves seem to be booties, ripped tees, sequins, fur jackets, lace/knits and a touch of well layered and simple jewelery.  Check out her feature on the Nasty Gal Blog as well.

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talesofendearment.com

Written By: Natalie Joos

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I think of her as the real life Carrie Bradshaw.  A real, New York City casting agent and consultant to fashion brands across the board.  She’s a street style favorite and has a look that is so uniquely her own, I have yet to see anyone else master it quite as well.  With pieces of clothing that look more like artwork to me, she is able to mix and match bold prints and shapes that many would never think to do.  She pulls it all off, always, with simple hair and makeup that rivals all the gold and glitter I’m usually attracted to.  A must read from vintage to modern fashion lovers.

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chicityfashion.com

Written By: Jena Gambaccini

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I am not totally sure how I stumbled upon this blog, but I think it was through the popular page on Instagram.  I’d love to live in Chicago at some point, so I started following chicityfashion with the idea that I could get a feel for what the fashion there is like.  Turns out Jena is a girl after my own heart who loves food, fashion and living the city life!  Her style has a bit of a structured, tomboy feel, with lots of girly details.  She loves everything over sized, simple gold jewelry and mani Monday.

Above are my top three, that I literally look at almost everyday.  Here are a few others to check out.

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thezoereport.com

Written By: Rachel Zoe & Team

The Zoe Report is less of a blog and more straight to the point fashion and beauty recommendations.  The reason I don’t frequent it more often is because the products are often out of my price range, which just makes me sad.  I am not a fan of window shopping, which is what it feels like to oggle over designer goods on The Zoe Report.  What I do like is the the coverage of fashion trends and happenings in the fashion world.

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refinery29.com

Founded By: Philippe Von Bories, Justin Sefano, Christene Barberich & Piera Gelardi

This site has many writers now, but started from a small team of four friends.  Their posts are definitely aimed at the mid-20’s gal which obviously appeals to me. The overall tone of the site is best described as cheeky.  Most of their articles have a fun/naughty twist which makes reading about things like cures for acne more tolerable.  I’ve put to good use much of their beauty and fashion advice.

 

 

My Skincare Routine: Night

Beauty, Skincare

As I told you in my last post, I am obsessed with reading about other people’s skincare routines. Mine is constantly evolving, but these are the basics I pretty much stick to these days, with some variations (such as a heavier moisturizer in the winter).

These things are so subjective, so I am certainly not advising anyone to copy my skincare routine word for word. But these products work for me, so much so that I feel confident recommending them to people with similar skin concerns.

To recap from my last post, my skin concerns include some scarring and PIH from acne over the years, and sensitivity (I still struggle with a pimple a few times a month). My skin type is smack dab in the middle: can be oily with the wrong products, and can be dry in cold/dry climates.

Warning: this post is long. Grab a coffee and settle in for a few minutes.

My Nighttime Skincare Routine

1. I remove my makeup with Bioderma Sensibio H20 Micellar Solution using a cotton pad. This is a very gentle, unscented solution that is great at removing makeup. There is no need to rinse it off afterwards and it leaves my skin feeling soothed and hydrated. I like to use this to remove makeup & sweat when I get home from the gym, even if I’m not planning to cleanse my face for a few more hours. I have gone through a couple bottles of this stuff, and I will definitely keep repurchasing it, but I am interested in trying an oil-based makeup remover. If you have any suggestions, please let me know.

2. Next, I wash my face with my favorite cleanser of all time, the Korres Milk Proteins Foaming Cream Cleanser. So gentle, non-drying, keeps my face calm. I think I gushed about it enough in my last post.

3. Once a week or so, I exfoliate with the Korres Wild Rose Buff Cleanser. I don’t swear by this stuff (I tend to experiment with different exfoliants) but it works. It’s natural, gentle, and doesn’t irritate my face, plus the bottle lasts forever. I always come back to this one after trying different exfoliating products, because it’s reliable.

4. I spray my face with the lovely Yonka Lotion PS (which I talk about more in my last post). This is a hydrating toner with natural ingredients. Astringent toners, stay away from me.

5. Next, I apply Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant. This is a new step in my routine, but it seems to be effective so far. Because I recently stopped taking spironolactone, which I had been on for two years for my skin, I wanted to add a product that would directly target and prevent breakouts. It contains salicylic acid, which I know works well with my skin (personally, I stay away from benzoyl peroxide). It hasn’t completely stopped breakouts for me, but it does seem to help. Also, because it is a chemical exfoliant, I cut back on using a physical exfoliant (step 3) to only once a week or less. I can’t cut out the physical exfoliant completely, because my skin seems to need it. Everyone’s different, though. (p.s. If you have questions about my experience with spironolactone, feel free to ask.)

6. Then comes Estee Lauder’s Advanced Night Repair. I hate that this product works so well, because, well, it’s expensive. Please note that I NEVER pay full price for this product. I always find it on ebay at a discount. Even though this is technically an anti-aging product, it works SO WELL for curbing breakouts. I break out much less when I’m using this product. That is purely why I use it. I’ve tried stopping, and I break out more frequently. This is my love-hate HG product. I have read that there is a Korean product from the Missha brand that is essentially the same formula as the Advanced Night Repair. I have yet to try it, but it is about half the price, so I will definitely give it a try one day. I think Estee Lauder knows that this product is basically a miracle and that is why they charge so much for this baby. Ugh. Darn you, Estee Lauder. (But also…thank you.)

7. Oh my, am I really on step 7 already? I’ve never taken the time to count my products until now. Welp, #7 is another amazing product that is about a billion times cheaper than #6! The one, the only, rosehip seed oil.

I am currently using this one from Shea Terra, but I have also gone through a few bottles of this cheaper one. I got the Shea Terra one simply because the cheaper one only comes in 1oz bottles. Someone please make, like, an 8oz bottle of this stuff. Please?

I use rosehip seed oil for its anti-aging and brightening properties. Honestly? I will use this stuff forever. After 2-3 weeks of using this product, I noticed that my scars and PIH had faded and that my skin just looked so bright. I thought about it for a minute and the only thing I had changed recently was adding rosehip seed oil to my routine. It really does work, folks. My skin is living, breathing, shining (in a good way) proof.

I use one drop a night and it’s enough to cover my whole face & neck. There are a couple unfortunate things about it: it does leave your face shiny (that’s why I only use it at night), and the smell is not super great. But the smell fades after a few minutes, plus you get used to it (trust me). If there is one product I hope you try, it’s rosehip seed oil. It’s cheap, all natural, and brightening. (I’m hoping I’ll see those anti-aging effects a few years down the road.)

8. Next, I apply a couple drops of jojoba oil. I get mine at Trader Joe’s for about six bucks. This is another product that made a huge difference for my skin. I used to get a tad oily by the end of the day, but now that never happens. My skin is balanced now. Do I look oily when I go to bed at night? Well, yeah. I’m layering oils on my face. Does it pay off? Definitely. My skin loves this stuff, and yours likely will too. It’s science. I did try the more expensive argan oil before trying jojoba, and I liked that too, but the steep price just isn’t worth it, especially when jojoba is so much cheaper and just as effective, if not more so.

9. In the winter, most nights I will apply a heavier moisturizer after letting the oils sink in. I don’t have a favorite yet, but I am currently using Paula’s Choice Moisture Boost Hydrating Treatment Cream.

10. Eye cream. Oh, eye cream. Still struggling with this one. I mostly just use samples from Sephora, or use the Moisture Boost cream under my eyes. I definitely need undereye hydration (hello, fine lines appearing at age 25), but I also wish there was a magic product that would act like makeup and cover my genetic dark circles while hydrating the area. Let me know if you have suggestions!

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Phew. That’s it, folks! Ten steps in my nighttime routine. Who knew? Well, now we all do, and I’m not ashamed! Taking the time to apply these products gives me time to wind down each night and acts as a reminder that it’s important to slow down and take care of yourself. Plus, it’s pretty great that after a lifetime of skin struggles I can finally wake up and admire the skin I see in the mirror.

What skincare products do you swear by?

Thanks for reading!
-L

Products mentioned in this post:

Bioderma Sensibio H20 Micellar Solution – $25-30 for 500ml (about 17oz)
Korres Milk Proteins Foaming Cream Cleanser – $22 for 5.07oz
Korres Wild Rose Buff Cleanser – $28 for 5.07oz
Yonka Lotion PS for normal to dry skin – $30-35 for 6.8oz
Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant – $22.10 for 4oz
Estee Lauder’s Advanced Night Repair – $62 for 1oz (I buy mine on ebay for cheaper)
Rosehip seed oil – $28 for 2oz here or $6.79 for 1oz here
Trader Joe’s 100% Pure Jojoba Oil (similar here) – about $6 for 4oz
Paula’s Choice Moisture Boost Hydrating Treatment Cream – $22.10 for 2oz

Disclaimer: I am not in any way affiliated with these companies or compensated for mentioning their products. These are purely my opinions based on my own experiences.

My Skincare Routine: Morning

Beauty, Skincare

Whenever I’m reading through a new blog, one of the first things I look for is a skincare and/or makeup routine post.

Even if it’s a food blog, I have to check. I guess it’s because I’m a product junkie, always looking for something I haven’t tried or something new to learn. You never know what you’ll find. A few months back I found myself on a gorgeous personal travel blog called The Wanderlust Project where, thanks to Sheryll’s beauty reviews, I learned about Korean skincare practices for the first time. Fascinating stuff!

All that to say, I’m going to share my own skincare routine with you today, because I know I’m not alone in finding these things useful and interesting. This will be long, so I’m breaking it up into two pieces. First up, morning.

My Morning Skincare Routine

Mine has been a routine many years in the making, and it is ever evolving. For example, now that we’re getting into the winter months I am experimenting with heavier moisturizers. But for the most part, as long as I stick to these basics, on any given day I’ll have the best skin I’ve had since my first pimple appeared at age 12.

First, a little about my skin: it is sensitive and combination – not very dry, definitely not oily. I used to struggle with moderate acne; it was never severe, just a cluster of zits here and there in a never-ending cycle. Because of that, I now have some scarring and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) on my cheeks. As I’m (a) getting older, and (b) learning how to take care of my skin, I am now mostly acne-free, but because my skin is so sensitive I do still get the occasional short-lived pimple a few times a month.

Now onto my routine.

Morning

1. Depending on the day, I will either rinse my face with water or cleanse with the Korres Milk Proteins Foaming Cream Cleanser.

This stuff changed my skin. Throughout my teen years I used harsh Neutrogena cleansers that left my face red and tight after cleansing. I thought that was just the way my skin was! Enter the Korres cleanser. In college, one of my best friends had flawless skin, and when I slept over at her house I made a mental note when I saw this cleanser in her bathroom. I bought it the next day and have never looked back. I do try other cleansers now and then (mostly when this one is out of stock – it’s popular), but I always come back to this one.

2. Next, I spray my face with this Yonka Lotion. It is a hydrating toner, that, honestly, just feels and smells so luxurious, I can’t get enough. It’s a big bottle so it lasts forever, but I might try a cheaper hydrating toner when this one runs out. I stay far away from drying, astringent toners that are most typical when we think of toners here in the US. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that hydration & balance are key, no matter what type of skin you have. I keep harsh products away from my face.

3. I apply a couple pumps of Aveeno Clear Complexion Daily Moisturizer, mixed with a drop or two of jojoba oil. (I’ll talk more about jojoba oil in my nighttime routine.) This Aveeno lotion is one thing I got right back in high school. My sister and I still swear by it. It’s gentle, hydrating, has a lovely smell, and it works. I occasionally get some bumps on my chest, and if I put this on, by the next day my skin will be so smooth I can’t stop touching it. (Maybe that’s why I get the bumps in the first place…) Anyway, the only thing that would make this daily moisturizer perfect would be some SPF.

4. Speaking of which… The last step in my morning routine is SPF. Unfortunately, I am constantly searching for THE ONE. The one that’s not greasy, doesn’t break me out, and doesn’t break the bank. Who can afford to spend $40+ for an ounce of a product you glob all over your face every single day? Not me. I’m currently trying out a Paula’s Choice moisturizer with SPF but I won’t say which one because I’m not sure how I feel about it yet.

That’s it for morning. After these 4 steps I head on to my makeup routine (which may turn into a blog post of its own).

Things get real exciting in my nighttime routine (at least in the opinion of this skincare nerd) so check back soon if you’d like to read about those products.

Thanks for reading! If you have a favorite SPF, please tell me in the comments!
-L

Products mentioned in this post:

Korres Milk Proteins Foaming Cream Cleanser – $22 for 5.07oz
Yonka Lotion PS for normal to dry skin – $30-35 for 6.8oz
Aveeno Clear Complexion Daily Moisturizer – $15 for 4oz
Trader Joe’s 100% Pure Jojoba Oil (similar here) – about $6 for 4oz

Disclaimer: I am not in any way affiliated with these companies or compensated for mentioning their products. These are purely my opinions based on my own experiences.

Happy, Healthy, Curls

Beauty

Curls for blogMy curly hair routine has been my life’s struggle, so I’d like to think it is the subject I have the most expertise on.  Ever since a fatal chop my sophomore year of college, I’ve been trying to grow my hair out.  And looking through pictures, it never seems to be any longer than shoulder length!  Meanwhile, straight hair seems to grow like a weed.  I’ve done quite a bit of research (Pinteresting) to get to the bottom of this crucial dilemma.  Take a look for yourself: http://www.pinterest.com/sophiamargolis/hairstyle. You’ll find my hair section littered with braids, purple hair, and tips for growing long, healthy, curls.

My Routine:

1.  Sulfate free shampoo.  Sulfate strips the scalp of it’s natural oils, which for dry, curly hair, are essential to it’s health and in turn the growth of hair.  The product I use, solely because of it’s affordability is L’Oreal Paris sulfate free.

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2. Moisturizing conditioner.  I use Tresemme Moisture Rich Conditioner, also because of the price and recommendations from other curly girls.

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3.  Oil or leave in conditioner.  This one I switch up quite frequently.  I used MoroccanOil for a while because my hair stylist gave me a deal on it, then switched to various drug store brands that have Moroccan oil in their product.  As of late I’ve been using a thicker leave in conditioner to add some volume to my hair.  Clearly this step is something that varies for each person depending on the end result desired.

Last but not least!  The most important step I’ve learned this year is to not over do it with products and drying.  I have cut back to washing/conditioning every 2-3 days and drying my hair upside down with an old t-shirt which is less harsh on curls and spreads the scalps natural oils.  In general I am of the go natural philosophy, and from my research have concluded that the best thing for a curly girl’s hair is the natural oils your scalp produces.  My curls have never been happier =)

What are your curly hair tips?

-S

 

Nothing Worth Having Comes Easy

Fitness/Health

Yea, yea, that’s what everyone says.  But really, I can lose my belly pooch in 10 days!  And make healthy meals in minutes every day!  No, no I can’t.

When I decided to apply this saying to my health and fitness habits, it enabled me to wade through the bull s*** I hear and read about.  If being in tip top shape were easy we’d all be doing it!  This is not a new concept, and to some it may be obvious, but for me it takes saying this in my head some days to get through my work out or make a healthy dinner at the end of the day.

I hope with this post I can spread the word and knowledge that putting time and effort into a healthy body will have long lasting benefits that are worth achieving!

The top two healthy habits I have picked up this year are strength training and home cooking.  Muscle is so under appreciated, when in fact it aids in weight loss because muscle burns more calories than fat.  Along those lines, doing strength training before cardio will contribute to burning more calories during your cardio workout.

The home cooking part is a great way to cut out unnecessary calories.  You just never know what goes into your food at most restaurants and portion sizes tend to be bigger than anyone needs.  When grocery shopping I aim to get mostly produce, and only products that don’t have a long list of ingredients that I’ve never heard of.  Being conscious and aware of what you are putting into your body will hopefully lead to healthier food choices.

Here is one of my favorite body weight workouts:

Source: POPSUGAR Studios

 

Please take this all with a grain of salt as I am no expert, just trying to find my own way!  And I’d like to think it’s the right way 😉