5 Natural Skincare Favorites

Thursday, May 26, 2016

By: Ariana Palmieri
I have combination skin: Sometimes oily, sometimes dry, and definitely prone to acne. However, since I started using these 5 natural skincare products, my skin has improved quite visibly. I still have acne, but it's minimal and goes away within a day or two (it used to take at least 5 days to go away). Want to see the same results? Have a little extra cash? Love natural products? What ever your reason, be sure to add these goodies to your bucket list (ASAP).
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The Organic Pharmacy  

Why you want it: This oil-based cleanser not only makes dirt disappear right before your eyes, but it also moisturizes your skin (instead of drying it out).

What it costs: $75 (pricey, but worth it - lasts a while!)

My review: By far, this is the most effective cleanser I have ever used. Trust me when I say I've tried a lot from Burts Bees makeup wipes to 100 Percent Pure cleaning foam. Featuring sunflower oil, jojoba oil, Shea butter, and 15 other natural ingredients (including carrot!), this product is void of icky chemicals. All you need to do is take a dime-sized drop of the stuff and rub it into your skin. Since I mainly use eye makeup, I usually start by applying a dab of this cleanser to both my eyelids, then rub it in while spreading it around my face. It's super gentle, so there's no need to worry about it irritating my eyes (which is awesome). After a while of rubbing and spreading it all over, I just wash off my face with lukewarm water. It's that simple. It literally dissolves makeup away (poof!). Plus, like I mentioned earlier, it never dries out my skin. Instead, I'm left with smooth, glowing skin that has a subtle, but pleasant smell.

Jurlique

Why you want it: This milky lotion is perfect for hydrating dry skin, reducing wrinkles, and combating dark spots/uneven skin tones.

What it costs: $65 (Worth it - it'll last a while too!)

My review: Since I'm young, I can't say I suffer from wrinkles. However, since I started using this product (in combination with the carrot butter cleanser) my skin has cleared up unbelievably. Sure, I'll break out every once and a while, but they're even more minimal than previous breakouts and don't last nearly as long (a day or two, tops?). The website that sells this does not specifically mention this product is good for acne, but I'm convinced it has helped my skin with getting rid of acne, regardless. Since it hydrates the skin and is loaded with powerful (and natural!) ingredients, I'm sure it helps keep skin healthy in more ways than it lets on. The best part is that I don't even need that much for it to work. Similar to the cleanser, I just take a dime-sized amount and pat it onto my skin in the morning and the evening everyday. That's it. It leaves my skin feeling a little funny (and it kind of smells like sun lotion), but it's so worth it!



Aqua Reveal  
Why you want it: Like magic, this exfoliator makes dead skin cells you don't even know you have peel away right before your very eyes (no, it's not painful - it actually feels really cool!).

What it costs: $58

My review: I had no idea what I was in for when I tried this the first time. I received it as a sample, so I wasn't prepared when all of a sudden, as I'm rubbing it into my skin, dead skin cells just started peeling off. It felt so weird, but strangely satisfying (sort of like the satisfaction I get from popping zits - but this is a much better habit, I admit.) It's a great, lightweight exfoliator that doesn't dry out my skin and actually makes it look brighter right away. I use it once 2-3 times a week after cleansing my skin with the carrot butter. I just take a little bit of it (usually 3 or 4 dabs will do - one for each area of my skin, like my forehead, cheeks, chin) and massage it in. Almost immediately I see (and feel) results. Dead skin cells are icky, so I quickly wash my face in intervals after each spot on my face is exfoliated. What I love most about this product is that it has over 95 percent natural ingredients, is cruelty-free, paraben-free, and sulfate-free, which is awesome!


Zyderma

Why you want it: Great for zapping zits on the sly, you can rub this stuff in during your morning routine and wash it off with your makeup at night.

What it costs: $38

My review: I'll be real here - the only acne treatment I used before this was Clearasil, which is loaded with not-so-natural chemicals. While this acne treatment contains ingredients that you probably can't pronounce, they are all naturally-derived and each is explained on Credo's website, which is where I got my free sample from. This little goodie is one step ahead of Clearasil because not only is it powerful and natural, but it doesn't make my zits look like I caked concealer all over them in an attempt to cover them up. It's got a grey color that blends into my skin (as if it weren't even there) when I rub it into my skin, perfect for treating acne while out and about. If you like to wear concealer over your acne, that's fine too because this won't conflict with any makeup you put over it. All I do is take as much as I need and rub it into my problem spots. Then I just wash it off at the end of the day with my nightly cleanser. The first time I used it, I was amazed at the speed of the results: one pimple that had been bugging me for days was gone the next day.


Tata Harper
Why you want it: This facial mask is sure to leave your skin soft, smooth, and radiant all over!

What it costs: $58

My review: While I don't use this product as frequently as the rest, I still adore it. At least once a week I use it because of how nice it makes my skin feel. I also love the fact it's 100 percent natural,  non-GMO, and cruelty-free. Plus it smells great (and kind of fruity!). When I put it on, I apply a thick layer all over my face and just let it sink in for 20-30 minutes. It makes my skin feel really tight (not in a painful way), but once I wash it off my face feels nice and smooth. My skin even looks better (kind of like its just been renewed). I definitely recommend it, but only if you can afford it or want to give yourself a well deserved treat. It's not as essential in my routine as the cleanser and conditioning lotion I mentioned earlier, but it is certainly something I will buy in the future.

10 Spring Fruits and Vegetables to Stock Up On

Friday, May 13, 2016

By: Ariana Palmieri
Today we can find all the produce we need in the supermarket year-round (tomatoes, anyone?). However, food tastes its best when it's in season and can provide some serious nutrition benefits. Here are some fruits and vegetables you should be putting on your plate this spring.
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Fruits

1. Apricots
A great source of Vitamin A and C, apricots are a great additions to your spring diet. In season during the end of spring into summer, this low fat, sodium free, and cholesterol free snack is perfect for anyone seeking to lose weight. You could even get creative and make apricot sorbet (a perfect treat for warm springtime weather). Just make sure to get apricots that are plump, firm, and uniformly colored for the best flavor!
2. Cherries 
A personal favorite of mine, cherries are the perfect snack for those who want something sweet, but not unhealthy quick. Sweet cherries (such as Bing and Rainier varieties) are at their freshest from May to August. Just like apricots, sweet cherries are loaded with Vitamin A, but they also contain anthocyanin antioxidants, and melatonin, an antioxidant which combats annoying insomnia and jet lag (perfect for people constantly on the go). Try making your own cherry jam if you have some extra time (you won't regret it).
3. Grapefruits 
Prefer some tart with your sweet? Grapefruit is available from January to summer, making it fresh for several seasons (including spring). This aromatic fruit tastes great topped with some sugar or honey, but it can stand on its own too. Packed with Vitamin C and A, this treat makes a great morning breakfast (gets the motor going!). Try making this cardamom citrus fruit salad if you'd rather balance out the grapefruit with other flavors. 
4. Strawberries

Cute, and actually not a berry at all, strawberries are at their peak April through June. In fact, strawberry festivals (yes, that's a thing) tend to pop up most during these months. These bite-sized fruits are high in Vitamin C and folate while being virtually fat, sodium, and cholesterol free (score!). Just make sure you buy organic for these - normal strawberries now claim the #1 spot on EWG's 2016 Dirty Dozen list (that means they're grown with the most pesticides - yuck!).
5. Lemons 
These sunny citrus fruits are at their best from winter into early summer, which includes spring. Also, they're full of vitamin C, folate, fiber, and potassium (all good things). Not many people will eat a lemon as is (except my dad), but they're great for baked goods (lemon bars anyone?) and drizzling over salad (try mixing it with some olive oil, black pepper, honey, and parmesan cheese - you'll thank me later).

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Vegetables

1. Artichokes
 Artichokes have two crop seasons (one in the fall and spring), but the spring harvest is the main one. These veggies are loaded with fiber, copper, calcium, potassium, iron, manganese, phosphorus and antioxidants, so incorporating them into your lunch and dinner is a great idea (plus, they are low in fat and calories). When picking your artichokes, look for ones with compact leaves and fresh-cut stem ends.

2. Asparagus

Asparagus is harvested from March to June. Loaded with fiber, folate, vitamins A, C, E and K, as well as chromium, this veggie is a powerhouse. Its even said to be a brain booster (who knew?). When buying asparagus, look for smooth skin, a bright green color, compact heads, and freshly cut ends for the best taste. Not sure how to cook them? Give this simple but tasty recipe a try.

3. Beets

In season from fall through spring, you can get fresh beets almost year-round. The freshest beets are often sold with their greens still attached (like in this picture). You won't believe how many health benefits these red veggies have: Potassium, magnesium, fiber, phosphorus, iron; vitamins A, B & C; beta-carotene, beta-cyanine; folic acid just to name the basics. They're even said to be aphrodisiacs (crazy? Maybe not.) Try making them into crispy chips or add some homemade pickled beets to your salad.

4. Spinach
 Spinach is a little tricky: It's available year-round in temperate areas, during summer and fall in cooler climates, and fall through spring in warmers regions. However, it's definitely a veggie you want on your list. It's packed with iron and calcium and even flavonoids — a phytonutrient with anti-cancer properties (known to specifically provide protection from prostate cancer). So ditch the iceberg lettuce for a change and swap it with spinach for an even healthier salad.

5. Carrots
Anyone can grow carrots (I did - they were too cute!), and these veggies are harvested year round in temperate areas.  With so many different varieties (purple, gold, and red carrots are a thing!), it can be hard to tell which to chose from. You can't go wrong with any of them: No matter their color, they're loaded with beta-carotene, Vitamin A, and soluble fiber. They can be eaten raw (I like to dip them in hummus), added to salads, or cooked (try these gazed carrots with brown sugar - trust me).
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