How to Sleep Better: 4 Surprising Sleep Hacks You Haven’t Heard Before

“How can I sleep better?”

I get this question all the time from new clients. By the time clients hire me for coaching, they’ve typically tried a few things to improve their sleep on their own, such as taking a melatonin supplement or even using prescription sleeping aids. Both of these approaches are quite ineffective, primarily because they do not address the root cause of poor quality sleep. Even worse, prescription sleeping aids have been significantly associated with the risk of development of all forms of cancer. 

So what can you do if you struggle with sleep?

I’ve been biohacking insomnia for a couple years now. I’ve had insomnia for as long as I can remember, even when I was a child. I understand how frustrating it is to lie in bed tossing and turning for hours before falling asleep. I also understand that it’s even more frustrating to have zero energy the next day! But don’t worry; through plenty of trial-and-error combined with what I learned to become a Certified Holistic Health Coach, I know what sleep hacks will give you the biggest ROI. 

So if you’re wondering how to sleep better, read on to learn 4 surprising sleep hacks that you probably haven’t heard before!



Prep for good sleep

Before I reveal my 4 surprising sleep hacks, I think there’s a few simple things you can do to prep for good sleep, including:


  • Determine your sleep chronotype

  • Maintain a consistent sleep schedule 

  • Don’t stress about getting 8 hours of sleep

Below I’ll talk about each of these points in more detail.

Determine your sleep chronotype

A person's chronotype is the propensity for the individual to sleep at a particular time during a 24-hour period. [1]

It is based on your circadian rhythm, the internal clock that your brain uses to control your sleep/wake cycle. According to sleep expert and The Power of When author Dr. Michael Breus, we each have a unique chronotype that determines our most energetic times of day. You can take a quiz to determine your chronotype. 


Another way to determine your sleep chronotype will require you to take off one week from morning obligations. During this week, allow yourself to go to sleep only when you’re tired (not when you’re “suppose” to), and wake up naturally (without an alarm clock). If you’ve been following my Instagram stories, you may know that I just finished up a week long sleep experiment (if you haven’t been following along, go check out my ‘Sleep’ highlight on Insta!). This sleep experiment allowed me to figure out that I should go to bed at about 10:30 PM and wake up at 7:00 AM.


Maintain a consistent sleep schedule 

After identifying your sleep chronotype and adjusting your sleep schedule accordingly, it’s important to stick to that schedule every day. Many people with inconsistent sleep schedules report restless sleep, meaning you never enter the stages of deep, quality sleep your brain and body need to restore themselves. [2] Maintaining a consistent sleep schedule (going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, even on weekends) supports your circadian rhythm, helping your body settle into a regular sleep-wake cycle.

Track your sleep

Before you make any lifestyle change or try any sleep hacks, I would recommend choosing a method to track your sleep. Why? Because tracking the quality of your sleep will let you know which hacks are working and which aren’t! This can help save your time, money, and, of course, sleep!

Oura ring

In regards to sleep tracking, I think the gold standard is the Oura ring. At the time of writing this blog, I do not have an Oura ring yet, but I plan on ordering one soon because the amount of insight this tiny ring provides is amazing. You wear the Oura ring on your finger all day and night, and it tracks so many things, one being the amount and timing of deep, REM, light sleep, and possible awake time during the night. The Oura ring even guides you to find and maintain a bedtime that suits your daily rhythms, which may help you feel more energetic during the day. Okay, so writing this section has convinced me that I need to get one… I will update this post once I do :)

Smartphone apps

If you’re not ready to invest in an Oura ring, there are many free sleep tracking apps available, including Sleep Cycle, Sleepzy, and Pillow Automatic Sleep Tracker. There are also several apps you can download to use with an Apple Watch to track sleep. However, as we’ll discuss below, sleeping with your phone in your room is not the best idea (even if it’s on airplane mode).

After you have determined your sleep chronotype, maintained a consistent sleep schedule, and figured out which sleep tracking method is right for you, you may want to try one (or all) of my 4 surprising sleep hacks. 


4 surprising sleep hacks you haven’t heard before


1. Stop wearing sunscreen

Pretty surprising sleep hack, right? So what the heck does wearing sunscreen have to do with sleep?

As you know, sunscreen is intended to block the sun’s ultraviolet rays. And this is a good thing… or is it? 

Unfortunately, many people nowadays are afraid of going out into the sun without sun protection because of its ties to skin cancer and premature skin aging. These are both possible outcomes if you spend too much time in the sun. However, a growing body of scientific research suggests that completely avoiding sunlight isn't such a good idea. Sunlight can benefit your eyes, brain, mitochondria, and even your skin- in the right amounts, of course. 

After evaluating research and personally experimenting with this sleep hack, it is my opinion that adequate daily sun exposure is one of the most impactful sleep hacks to promote better sleep.

This is because the human eye contains photosensitive cells in the retina that directly affect the brain’s hypothalamus region, which controls our biological clock. Stimulation of these important cells comes from sunlight, in particular, the blue unseen spectrum. [3]

Going out in the sun first thing in the morning is important because your body will increase production of serotonin. Serotonin regulates mood, appetite, memory, and sleep. It is also the precursor to melatonin, which helps control your sleep and wake cycles. 

Bright light in the morning (e.g. sunlight) also increases production of cortisol like it does with serotonin, which further helps us to wake up. [4] 

Lastly, when your skin is exposed to sunlight, it makes vitamin D from cholesterol. Specifically, the sun's ultraviolet B (UVB) rays hit cholesterol in the skin cells, providing the energy for vitamin D synthesis to occur. [5]

But did you know that sunscreen lowers your body’s ability to make vitamin D by up to 95 percent? [7] Low levels of vitamin D are linked with poor quality sleep. There’s a strong chance you’re deficient in it — more than half the world’s population isn’t getting enough of this vital nutrient. [8]

It’s typically recommended to spend 10 to 30 minutes in direct sunlight every day (in the morning if possible). If you start to burn, you’ve gone too long. Scale it back by a couple minutes next time.


Read more about why you should stop wearing sunscreen.

barefoot-beach-blur-1173804.jpg

2. Play in the dirt

I’m not kidding with this one; playing in the dirt can actually improve your sleep! I’m talking about earthing (also known as grounding). Earthing is direct physical contact with the vast supply of electrons on the surface of the Earth. This can be as simple as walking outside into your yard barefoot!

The earth naturally has an endless supply of negative electrons that pulse out in a pattern. Your daily routine builds up a positive charge in your body, and things like wearing shoes and walking around inside prevents you from discharging this positive charge you’ve built up into the ground. [10]

Free electrons from the Earth neutralize the positively charged free radicals (highly reactive molecules that damage cells), which are the hallmark of chronic inflammation. [11] In addition to reducing inflammation, science-backed benefits of grounding include improved regulation of cortisol, reduced stress, reduced pain, and better sleep. [10]

In fact, grounding has been shown to help with every aspect of the sleeping process: improved morning fatigue, less nighttime pain, higher daytime energy, decreased cortisol levels, and falling asleep faster. [12]





3. Try a magnesium supplement

In pharmacy school, I learned that melatonin was the best OTC supplement to promote sleep. So when patients asked me how to sleep better, I would usually recommend melatonin.

Now that I’ve been biohacking insomnia for several years, I know that taking melatonin every night for sleep may not be the best idea, mostly because the supplements available offer a much higher dose of melatonin than necessary. 

The proper dosage of melatonin is 0.3 milligrams. There are OTC melatonin supplements with 10 times that suggested amount in a single dose. While this high of a dose is not harmful, it can lead to higher plasma melatonin levels the next day. This may cause a “hangover” effect that leaves users groggy. [13]

Plus, melatonin supplementation is not very effective. Consumer Reports said melatonin supplements helped users fall asleep “only 7 minutes faster and sleep 8 minutes longer on average,” according to a 2013 analysis. And the same report notes that “about 20 percent of users in our survey reported next-day grogginess”. [13][14]

A better solution is a magnesium supplement.

Did you know nearly half of all Americans aren’t meeting their daily magnesium needs?

This is quite concerning, especially considering that magnesium is needed for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body. 

Magnesium plays a role in supporting deep, restorative sleep by maintaining healthy levels of GABA, a neurotransmitter that promotes sleep and reduces stress. Research indicates supplemental magnesium can improve sleep quality, especially in people with poor sleep. [15] 

Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, adults are recommended to take about 300 to 400 mg daily. [16] Individual dosing will vary, and can vary widely depending on an individual’s magnesium levels.


I take a magnesium supplement called Natural Calm. It is available in a powder that you mix with water or chewable gummies. I have tried both and think they both taste great, but I personally prefer the gummines. You can get them on Amazon.


4. Sleep as far away from your phone as possible

My final surprising sleep hack is to sleep as far away from your phone (or other electronic devices as possible). Use a real alarm clock instead of your phone’s alarm clock. You can also shut your Wi-Fi down whenever you're not using it, and certainly at night when you're sleeping.

EMF exposures from cellphones, routers, cordless phones, smart meters, baby monitors and other wireless devices causes massive mitochondrial dysfunction due to free radical damage. If you want to understand the science behind the damaging biological effects of EMFs, I suggest reading this article by Dr. Joseph Mercola. [17] 

If you still want to sleep with your phone in the room, at least put it in airplane mode for the night. When a smartphone is put in airplane mode, the connection to radio towers is cut off and radiation due to wireless transmission will cease. However, the electrical components of the cellphone will still emit small amounts of radiation.


10 more science-backed sleep hacks

I wanted to start this blog post on how to sleep better by discussing the 4 surprising sleep hacks above because I bet you probably haven’t heard them before! But since I have been biohacking insomnia for several years now, I obviously have way more sleep hacks to share with you! Below are 10 more science-backed sleep hacks that are pretty simple yet effective!


  1. Know what time to stop drinking caffeine during the day - typically 2 PM or 8 hours before bedtime, whichever comes first


  2. Keep your bedroom between 64 to 69 degrees Fahrenheit (18 to 22 Celsius)


  3. Reduce exposure to blue light in the evenings by wearing blue blocking glasses or putting away electronic devices at least an hour before bed!


  4. Create a completely dark bedroom with blackout curtains and by unplugging electronics (or covering any lights on devices that cannot be unplugged with electrical tape)



  5. Meditate daily


  6. Exercise daily (but avoid exercising within 3 hours before bed)



  7. Create a relaxing nighttime ritual (reading, listening to calm music, light stretching, meditating, journaling, practicing gratitude, chamomile tea etc.)


  8. Try inversion therapy. It is well-documented that hanging upside down can help you fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly



  9. Limit alcohol. If you’re going to drink alcohol, stay hydrated, increase intake of antioxidants and B vitamins, and consider taking activated charcoal



  10. In addition to magnesium, the following supplements have evidence that they can be helpful for improving sleep: GABA, 5HTP, tryptophan, L-theanine, potassium ornithine



If you want to read more about these sleep hacks, I have written about many of them in detail in my free ebook “Biohacking on a Budget: 15 Biohacks You Can Try Today (For Little or No Money) to Upgrade Your Life”.

Did You Know Saturated Fat is GOOD For You?

Butter, bacon, steak…. all of these foods can be good for you? Say whaaat?

saturated fat is good for you

            

It’s true! These foods have been demonized in the past due to their high content of saturated fat. However, our bodies actually need a balance of BOTH saturated and unsaturated fats for optimal health. Read on to learn why saturated fat has received such as bad rep in the health industry, and how this has led to an epidemic of misdiagnosed health issues, over-prescribing of medications, and inappropriate diet recommendations. Plus, I’m also going to explain why saturated fat is good for you and the right way to incorporate saturated fat into your diet. 

What is saturated fat?

A saturated fat is a type of fat in which the fatty acid chains have all single bonds (the carbon atoms are saturated with hydrogen atoms, hence the name). Saturated fats tend to have higher melting points than unsaturated fats, which is why saturated fats are typically solid at room temperature and unsaturated fats are liquid.

Saturated fat is also the most stable of all fats, which makes it great for cooking. Cooking with high heat with oils that contain fragile fats like omega-3s, omega-6s, and monounsaturated fats can be inflammatory because these fats break down when you expose them to heat. Saturated fats maintain their integrity, even when you heat them to roughly 400 degrees F. 

What does saturated fat do for your body?

Moderate amounts of high-quality, organic saturated fats from grass-fed/grass-finished meats, butter, and ghee, or plant-based sources such as coconut oil, avocados, olives, nuts and seeds, can offer big benefits to the body. Below are the top five benefits of saturated fat. 

1. Brain health

Saturated fats are essential to keeping your cell membranes strong. In fact, saturated fat makes up nearly 50% of all cell membranes in your body, and the majority of fats in your brain are saturated. Eating a diet that is low in saturated fat deprives your brain of the building blocks it needs to grow, regenerate, and stay healthy.

2. Nervous System health

Saturated fats are necessary to maintain a healthy nervous system, the network of nerve cells and fibers which transmits nerve impulses between parts of the body. A blog post on The Model Health Show uses this analogy: “Think of saturated fat as the “insulation” coating for your nervous system (aka your internal wiring). When you lack this insulation you become more susceptible to external and internal stress. Certain saturated fats even function as signaling messengers themselves.” Thus, a diet with little or not saturated fat can cause poor communication between the cells of your body, and resulting in pretty big problems. 

3. Cardiovascular health

Saturated fats improve the quality of your LDL, reduce levels of lipoprotein(a), and certain saturated fats (i.e. lauric acid and stearic acid) can help regulate cholesterol  levels. But wait - doesn’t saturated fat cause heart disease? The next section below is all about why this is simply NOT TRUE!

4. Bone health

Saturated fat is necessary for calcium to be effectively incorporated into bone. Without fat, your bones will be weak. And with poor bone density comes increased risk of degeneration and injury.

5. Immune health

When white blood cells don’t have sufficient saturated fats, their ability to recognize and destroy foreign invaders like viruses, bacteria, and fungi is impaired.

Doesn’t saturated fat cause heart disease?

Beginning in the 1960s, saturated fat was demonized for two main reasons: the work of scientist Ancel Keys and the Sugar Research Foundation (SRF). Ancel Keys had done some preliminary research about a possible link between saturated fat consumption and heart disease. Being charismatic and politically savvy, Keys confidently presented this preliminary research while publicly mocking any hypothesis that contradicted his own. His research was also very flawed, for example, he combined poorly designed studies with misguided statistical analysis and heralded his findings as the absolute truth. Other researchers pointed out these flaws almost immediately, but they didn’t get enough attention to stop the misinformation from being spread. 

The Sugar Research Foundation (SRF) is a major lobbyist group for the sugar industry that was also researching heart disease during the 1950s and 1960s. The SRF wanted to "refute" concerns about sugar's possible role in heart disease, so they sponsored research by Harvard scientists that did just that. The result was published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1967, with no disclosure of the sugar industry funding. The research downplayed the role of sugar in heart disease and promoted saturated fat as its cause instead.

You may be wondering about other studies that have found a link between saturated fat and heart disease. Well, it’s worth noting where most Americans that are included in these studies get their saturated fat (i.e. pizza, ice cream, grain-based desserts like cookies and cake, processed meat, etc.) So, in studies that have found a link between saturated fat and heart disease, is it the saturated fat itself? Or is it the fact that the saturated fat is coming from processed junk food, like pizza, ice cream, cookies, cake, and candy?            

According to an article on the Bulletproof blog, in the last ten years, 4 large-scale independent review articles (one including data from more than half a million participants) found no link between saturated fat and heart disease.

While studies show that saturated fat raises LDL (your so-called “bad” cholesterol), it improves the QUALITY of the LDL, causing a beneficial shift in the types of LDL-particles, from small, dense LDL particles (the kind that are correlated with heart disease in some studies) to higher numbers of larger LDL particles (which are not harmful and can be useful metabolically). Saturated fat also raises HDL (“good” cholesterol). 

Why you need just the right amount of cholesterol

As I just mentioned above, saturated fat WILL raise your total cholesterol. This is a good thing because it improves the quality of LDL cholesterol and raises HDL cholesterol. 

In conventional medicine, when someone has high cholesterol, they are often immediately prescribed a statin (a type of medication used to lower cholesterol, such as Lipitor and Crestor) and are told to avoid foods high in saturated fat and cholesterol. But is high cholesterol really the problem? According to Dr. Stephen Sinatra, the author of The Cholesterol Myth, only half of the patients hospitalized for heart disease actually have high cholesterol. In fact, more current research doesn’t even support the idea that high levels of cholesterol contribute to heart disease. 

The real culprit… damaged arteries and chronic inflammation. 

You see, one of the most important roles of cholesterol in the body is to heal and repair. It has to be present in order for new cells to be made. And inflammation is a reaction to injury or infection in the body meant to also heal and repair. In a generally healthy body, when there is an injury, inflammation is triggered, which then communicates to the liver to release more cholesterol into the blood to help repair the injury site. The cholesterol works to cover the site and form a scar or “plaque” as a way to repair the injury. 

Now here is where the confusion comes in… when the body is under constant attack and in a state of chronic inflammation (due to toxins, excessive sugar intake, etc.) cholesterol is always busy forming these “scars” trying to repair the injuries leading to elevated cholesterol levels in the blood and an accumulation of plaque. So say a patient suffers a heart attack, in conventional medicine, when a physician sees high levels of cholesterol circulating in their bloodstream afterwards, they conclude that it — not the underlying damage to the arteries — is the cause of heart attack. When in fact, its intention was to HELP repair the damage to the arteries.

This kind of conclusion often results in physicians prescribing statins and other unnecessary medication, along with a diet with little to no saturated fat or cholesterol. The problem with that is, they are not addressing the issue of inflammation and now there will be less healthy fat and cholesterol to help repair. In addition, lowering cholesterol levels too much can lead to disruption in healing, Vitamin D production, the making of important hormones, and a number of other factors. 

The final verdict: saturated fat is GOOD for you!

Overall, eating a balanced diet that includes both saturated AND unsaturated fats from high quality sources is key for optimal health. Saturated fat is necessary for your brain, nervous system, immune system, bones, and even your cardiovascular system. Saturated fat improves the quality of your LDL cholesterol and raises HDL cholesterol. Below are some of the best sources of saturated fat from both animal and plant sources:

Animal sources of saturated fat

  • Grass fed/grass-finished meats

  • Grass fed butter or ghee

Plant sources of saturated fat

  • Coconut oil

  • Cocoa butter

  • Avocados

  • Olives

  • Macadamia nuts

References:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saturated_fat

https://blog.bulletproof.com/is-saturated-fat-bad/

https://blog.bulletproof.com/high-cholesterol/

Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 Mar;91(3):535-46.

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/ldl-cholesterol-size-does_b_8372366

https://drhyman.com/blog/2016/04/06/is-coconut-oil-bad-for-your-cholesterol/

https://themodelhealthshow.com/benefits-of-saturated-fat/

8 Drugs That Cause Nutrient Depletion

When I was working as a retail pharmacist, one of my primary responsibilities was to dispense medications and counsel patients on the potential adverse effects of those medications. Most often this would include explaining whether the medication cause GI distress (nausea, diarrhea, constipation, etc.), headaches, drowsiness, things like that. It wasn’t until I went through my program to become a Certified Transformational Nutrition Coach (CTNC) that I realized I was forgetting to counsel my patients on one major side effect: nutrient deficiencies!

There are SO many drugs that deplete the body of essential vitamins and minerals, which can lead to the worsening or development of other health conditions (not exactly what you want your medicine to be doing, right?) In this post, I’m going to cover some of the most common drugs that cause nutrient depletion.

8 drugs that cause nutrient depletion


Antacids + Acid reflux meds

Antacids (i.e. Maalox, Mylanta) work by neutralizing stomach acid, thereby reducing the effects of acid in your stomach. Unfortunately, this reduction of stomach acid interferes with the breakdown of the ingested food into its component nutrients. Antacids can deplete Calcium, Phosphate, and Folic Acid. 

H2 blockers (i.e. Zantac, Pepcid) reduce the amount of acid your stomach makes. This class is known to deplete Calcium, Folic Acid, Iron, Vitamin B12, and vitamin D. 

Proton pump inhibitors aka PPIs (i.e. Prilosec, Prevacid, Nexium, etc.) reduce your body’s production of acid by decreasing the action of proton pump, which are part of the stomach lining and required for acid product. In fact, PPIs can reduce stomach acid production by up to 99 percent! This, however, can have a major impact on nutrient absorption. PPIs are known to deplete Magnesium and Vitamin B12. 

Antibiotics 

Many types of antibiotics can cause nutrient deficiencies. In general, antibiotics are known to deplete biotin, inositol, vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B12 and vitamin K. And more specifically...

  • Fluoroquinolones (i.e. Cipro, Levaquin, etc.) deplete Calcium and Iron

  • Tetracyclines (end in -cycline) deplete Calcium and Magnesium

  • Bactrim depletes folic acid

  • Aminoglycosides cause imbalances of Calcium, Magnesium, and potassium


To make matters worse, antibiotics can disrupt the normal gut flora (the microbe population living in our intestine). This makes sense since the purpose of antibiotics is to kill bacteria. However, killing the “good” bacteria that make up the gut flora, such as Lactobacillus acidophilus (L. acidophilus) and Bifidobacterium bifidum (B. bifidum), can be very problematic. These are “good” bacteria or probiotics are responsible for nutrient absorption and supporting your immune system. 

Antidepressants (SSRIs) 

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are a type of antidepressant that work by restoring the levels of serotonin in the synaptic cleft by binding at the serotonin reuptake transporter preventing the reuptake and subsequent degradation of serotonin. This re-uptake blockade leads to the accumulation of serotonin in the synaptic cleft and the concentration of serotonin returns to within the normal range.

SSRIs are known to deplete sodium, which can lead to hyponatremia. In addition, fluoxetine can decrease levels of melatonin. 

Beta blockers 

Beta blockers (i.e. metoprolol, atenolol, etc.) reduce your blood pressure, as well as treat abnormal heart rhythms. Beta blockers work by blocking the effects of the hormone epinephrine, also known as adrenaline. When you take beta blockers, your heart beats more slowly and with less force, thereby reducing blood pressure.

Beta blockers deplete the powerful antioxidant coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) by interfering with its production. The mitochondria inside cells need CoQ10, thus, a depletion in this enzyme can result in heart failure. 

Beta blockers also reduce production of melatonin, the hormone that regulates your circadian rhythm and promotes sleep. It is produced from serotonin at night in the pineal gland by stimulating adrenergic beta1- and alpha1-receptors. By blocking beta receptors, these drugs may inhibit the release of the enzyme serotonin-N-acetyltransferase, which is necessary for the synthesis of melatonin, resulting in sleep disturbance.

Birth control pills

Researchers have known that “the pill” depletes women’s bodies of essential nutrients since at least the 1970s, although most women do not hear about these risks when prescribed hormonal birth control. The pill can deplete several key B vitamins, such as B2, B6, B12, and folate (B9). Some researchers theorize that the lower levels of vitamin B6 seen in women using oral contraceptives play a role in the increased risk of thromboembolism (blood clots). According to University Health News, “studies suggest that other nutrients can also be depleted in oral contraceptive users, including vitamin C, vitamin E, magnesium, selenium, zinc, and coenzyme Q10.”

Diuretics 

Diuretics like hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ) and furosemide help rid your body of salt (sodium) and water. Most work by making your kidneys release more sodium into your urine. The sodium then takes water with it from your blood. That decreases the amount of fluid flowing through your blood vessels, which reduces pressure on your vessel walls.

Diuretics are well known to deplete potassium, which is why physicians often prescribe a potassium supplement with these types of diuretics. However, these diuretics are also known to deplete other minerals, such as calcium, magnesium, sodium, and zinc. Loop diuretics (i.e. furosemide) can also deplete vitamins B1, B6, and vitamin C. 


Metformin 

Metformin is the first line drug for the treatment of Type II diabetes. It decreases hepatic glucose production, decreases intestinal absorption of glucose, and improves insulin sensitivity by increasing peripheral glucose uptake and utilization.

Metformin is known to significantly deplete vitamin B12. A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine showed that diabetics on metformin had B12 levels that were less than half those of control subjects. The longer the drug had been used and the higher the dose, the greater the drop in B12.

Metformin also depletes folic acid and CoQ10.

Statins 

Statins are drugs that are used to lower the “bad” LDL cholesterol. Statins are well known to deplete CoQ10, which can lead to heart failure, muscle pain and weakness, and more. 


What can you do about drugs that cause nutrient depletion?

Unfortunately, these are just 8 out of the many drugs that cause nutrient depletion. So what can you do? My recommendation would be to get comprehensive lab work done to check for these nutrient deficiencies. For example, if you take Metformin, you will want to test your B12, folic acid, and CoQ10 levels. If your levels are low, talk to your doctor about starting supplementation.

References:

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/is-your-medication-robbin_b_691711

https://pharmacysolutionsonline.com/drug-induced-nutrient-depletion.php

https://www.aafp.org/dam/AAFP/documents/about_us/sponsored_resources/Nature%20Made%20Handout.pdf

https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/are-your-medications-causing-nutrient-deficiency




Should You Stop Wearing Sunscreen? 6 Health Benefits of Sunlight

Should You Stop Wearing Sunscreen? 6 Health Benefits of Sunlight



After years of working in the skin care industry, one common piece of advice I’ve heard over and over again is that you MUST wear sunscreen every day, rain or shine, to prevent both skin cancer and premature skin aging.

Unfortunately, this advice has led many people to be afraid of going out into the sun without sunscreen. These are both possible outcomes if you spend too much time in the sun. However, a growing body of scientific research suggests that completely avoiding sunlight isn't such a good idea. Sunlight is important for so many biological processes, such as vitamin D production and supporting your circadian rhythm.

In this post, I’m going to explain the benefits of safe sun exposure, as well as discuss whether or not you should stop using sunscreen.


Should You Stop Wearing Sunscreen? 6 Health Benefits of Sunlight

Have we been deceived by the sunscreen industry?

Like many other industries, the sunscreen industry has one primary focus: MONEY. Sunscreen was initially created to allow people to tan without getting burnt, not because we needed protection from the sun. However, when the sunscreen companies realized how profitable it was, they turned the sun into our enemy. We have been deceived by the sunscreen industry to believe the sun is bad for us for their commercial gain. [1]

According to Dr. Al Sears, MD, “any evidence that exposing yourself to the sun is harmful evaporates under scrutiny. It’s nothing more than conjecture and slivers of evidence blown out of proportion for commercial interests. What’s worse; if you follow this “no safe level of sun exposure” dogma, you’ll put yourself at greater risk of numerous deadly cancers, depression, bone loss, heart disease, diabetes and more.” [1]

Dr. Sears goes on to explain that “the sun is our best friend when it comes to feeling good, staying fit and avoiding disease (even skin cancer) because it is our primary source of vitamin D.” [1]

Now that you’ve had a glimpse of how important the sun is to our health, let’s discuss the specific benefits of sunlight.

6 Health Benefits of Sunlight

1. Vitamin D production

Did you know that sunscreen lowers your body’s ability to make vitamin D by up to 95 percent? [2]

When your skin is exposed to sunlight, it makes vitamin D from cholesterol. Specifically, the sun's ultraviolet B (UVB) rays hit cholesterol in the skin cells, providing the energy for vitamin D synthesis to occur. [3] Vitamin D promotes calcium absorption and is essential for bone growth and formation. [4] Vitamin D also improves the immune system, helps prevents cancer, and is important for brain function. [5]


2. Decreases risk of getting cancer

As mentioned above, one of the benefits of getting vitamin D from the sun is decreased risk of cancer. Check out these studies that have found how sun exposure and vitamin D are associated with lower chances of getting cancer:

  • A study published in the journal Anticancer Research says very clearly that the more you make vitamin D from UVB rays, the lower your chances are of dying from 15 kinds of cancer. [6]

  • A study published in the Lancet Journal states that the skin's exposure to ultraviolet radiation of short wavelength (UVB) has been associated with a decreased risk of melanoma. [4]

  • A study published in the European Journal of Cancer assessed a study cohort that consisted of 416,134 cases of skin cancer and 3,776,501 cases of non-skin cancer as a first cancer extracted from 13 cancer registries. The conclusion of this study states that Vitamin D production in the skin seems to decrease the risk of several solid cancers (especially stomach, colorectal, liver and gallbladder, pancreas, lung, female breast, prostate, bladder and kidney cancers). [7]

3. Maintain circadian rhythm

The human eye contains photosensitive cells in its retina that directly affect the brain’s hypothalamus region, which controls our biological clock. Stimulation of these important cells comes from sunlight, in particular, the blue unseen spectrum. [5] Going out in the sun first thing in the morning is important because your body will increase production of serotonin. Serotonin regulates mood, appetite, memory, and sleep. It is also the precursor to melatonin, which helps control your sleep and wake cycles. Bright light in the morning (i.e. sunlight) also increases production of cortisol like it does with serotonin, which further helps us to wake up. [8]

4. Boosts your mood

Moderate sunlight exposure helps improve your mood and focus by boosting the levels of the feel-good neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine. Higher levels of serotonin correlate with better mood and feelings of satisfaction and calmness, and lower levels link to depression and anxiety. [9] Dopamine influences vital brain functions that affect mood, sleep, memory, learning, concentration, and motor control. The right balance of dopamine is vital for both physical and mental wellbeing. [10] There’s also evidence that UV light can push melanocytes (the cells that produce dark pigment in skin) to release endorphins, a feel-good chemical. [9]


According to an article published by Time, the correlation between sunlight and mood emerged with a condition called Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. The term was coined by Dr. Normal Rosenthal at Georgetown University to describe the “winter blues” aka the lethargy and feelings of sadness and hopelessness that come when the weather forces people to spend more time indoors and the season provides little opportunity for exposure to natural light. It is even speculated that our modern lifestyle, which keeps people indoors under artificial light for so many hours, may be encouraging a form of SAD year-round. [9]

5. Promotes weight loss

Another interesting benefit of safe sun exposure is its ability to reduce body fat. In a University of Alberta study, researchers found that subcutaneous fat cells (white fat cells found right beneath your skin) shrink under sun’s blue light. Peter Light, senior author of the study, explains, “When the sun’s blue light wavelengths—the light we can see with our eye—penetrate our skin and reach the fat cells just beneath, lipid droplets reduce in size and are released out of the cell. In other words, our cells don’t store as much fat.” [11]


6. Boosts immunity

As mentioned above, sunlight stimulates vitamin D production, and vitamin D plays a role in immune function. Research also indicates that low levels of blue light, found in sun rays, makes T cells move faster. [12] A T cell is a type of lymphocyte which develops in the thymus that plays a central role in the immune response. A study published in Scientific Reports shows that sunlight directly activates key immune cells by increasing their movement. [12]

Negative consequence of sunscreen

Of course, one of the main negative consequences of using sunscreen is that you’ll deprive your body of all the benefits described above that sunshine naturally provides!

But did you know that certain sunscreen ingredients come with many undesirable health effects? I am talking about sunscreen ingredients that are classified as “chemical sunscreens”, such as avobenzone, oxybenzone, octocrylene, homosalate, and ecamsule. These ingredients are absorbed into the skin and work by first absorbing UV light, then transforming that light energy into some other form of energy, such as heat.

A recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) confirms these active sunscreen ingredients seep into your bloodstream after just one day of use. [13] In addition, most sunscreens contain fragrances and stabilizers that mimic hormones, irritate your skin, and mess with your system in other ways.14 Here are some facts on specific chemical sunscreen ingredients:


  • Oxybenzone: linked to hormone disruption and cell damage that may lead to skin cancer. [15]

  • Octyl-methoxycinnamate: causes oxidation damage of the skin, which ages your face. [15]

  • Butyl Methoxydibenzoylmethane: releases free radicals into the body. [15]

  • Benzophenone 2 (BP2): decreases the function of the thyroid. [15]

So should you stop using sunscreen?

While this blog post has outlined the very important benefits of getting safe sun exposure every day, it should be noted that excessive sun exposure is still deleterious to your health. UVA radiation penetrates deeply into the skin, where it can contribute to skin cancer indirectly via generation of DNA-damaging molecules such as hydroxyl and oxygen radicals. Too much UVB radiation causes sunburn and also leads to direct DNA damage and promotes various skin cancers. Both forms of UV radiation can damage collagen fibers, destroy vitamin A in skin, accelerate aging of the skin, and increase the risk of skin cancers.16

So what exactly is ‘safe sun exposure’? Well, there’s no clear cut answer since everyone is different! One recommendation is to spend 10 to 30 minutes in direct sunlight every day (in the morning if possible). If you start to burn, you’ve gone too long. Scale it back by a couple minutes next time.


If you’re going to be in the sun longer than this amount of time, use a broad spectrum SPF 30 sunscreen. I personally recommend a mineral sunscreens since they are much safer than the synthetic chemical sunscreen ingredients mentioned above. Mineral sunscreen ingredients (i.e. zinc oxide and titanium dioxide) work by blocking or deflecting UV light, rather than being absorbed by the skin.  Here are some of my favorite mineral sunscreen products:



Paula’s Choice ESSENTIAL GLOW MOISTURIZER SPF 30 (Amazon, $29)

Paula’s Choice Essential Glow Moisturizing SPF 30 is a fragrance-free, illuminating face moisturizer that shields skin with all-mineral sun protection (Titanium Dioxide 5.25% and Zinc Oxide 6.12%) plus antioxidants to help protect against the effects of environmental damage.  I love this moisturizer because it not only provides sun protection, but also provides skin-soothing and replenishing ingredients, such as licorice root extract, argan kernel oil, linoleic acid, niacinamide (vitamin B3), bisabolol, phospholipids, lecithin, and more.

Coola Mineral Body Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30 (Amazon, $36)

Coola Mineral Body Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30 is a fragrance-free, hydrating body sunscreen that utilizes “genre-defying technology” to help disperse non-nano minerals (Zinc Oxide 14.0%) evenly, for a sheer application with a lightweight and eminently wearable finish. This sunscreen also provides several skin-soothing and replenishing ingredients, such as algae extract, bisabolol, shea butter, meadowfoam seed oil, avocado oil, raspberry seed oil, and more.





Biohacking on a Budget: 15 Biohacks You Can Try Today

BIOHACKING ON A BUDGET.png

What do you think of when you hear the word “biohacking”?


Do you think of expensive procedures and products, such as stem cell treatments, red light therapy devices, cryotherapy, etc.?


That’s what I thought of when I first started learning about biohacking. From what I’ve read, I think that these treatments offer a ton of benefit, however, they just don’t fit into my budget right now. While I think that investing in myself and my health is the best investment I can make, I also know that I need to stick to a budget in order to pay my bills every month!

But over the years I’ve come to realize that some of the best biohacks are actually pretty affordable, or even better - FREE!

This is why I wrote my NEW e-book, “Biohacking on a Budget: 15 Biohacks You Can Try Today (For Little or No Money) To Upgrade Your Life”.

I started implementing these hacks about 3 years ago when my health was at its worst. I had been struggling with several health issues, such as ADHD, adrenal fatigue, and anxiety. Initially, I sought help from a conventional doctor for these issues. Unfortunately, the “help” I received was a prescription for Adderall, which I was on for two years. While Adderall will improve attention, boost focus, and lead to better productivity, it also comes with numerous side effects. I was severely underweight, had terrible anxiety, and developed horrible skin rashes. After seeing how my health had declined, I decided Adderall wasn’t worth it anymore and I took my health into my own hands.

It has been a slow process, but learning to biohack has truly enabled me to take control of my own biology and transform my health, happiness, and overall well-being.

And I want to help you do the same!

Click the button below to download my FREE e-book! Oh and please let me know what you think :)




Why I Use Nicotine Gum as a Nootropic

If you were to do a haul of my desk, you would find my pack of nicotine gum.

Upon hearing this, I bet you’d assume that I was a smoker and I use nicotine gum to help quit.

But guess what? I’ve NEVER been a smoker.

So why do I chew nicotine gum? Well, it turns out that nicotine is actually a powerful smart drug (nootropic) that can be used for improved performance and cognitive enhancement.

Many of my friends and family seemed shocked and gave me a strange look when I told them I occasionally chew nicotine gum. However, the science behind the benefits of nicotine is solid.

Read on to learn why I use nicotine gum as a nootropic, plus the pros and cons of this biohack.*

*Disclaimer: By writing this post I am definitely NOT suggesting to start smoking or using tobacco as a means for nicotine consumption.

What is nicotine?

Nicotine is a naturally occurring alkaloid produced in the nightshade family of plants. Of course, you most likely know that nicotine can be found in tobacco, but it can also be found in several more nightshade plants, such as tomatoes, potatoes, and eggplant. Similar to caffeine, nicotine serves as one of the plant’s defense mechanisms to prevent being eaten by animals, insects, or fungus. Since nicotine is bitter and toxic in large doses, it keeps these predators away.

After being absorbed into the bloodstream, nicotine readily crosses the blood brain barrier (BBB). It then binds to nicotinic acetylcholine receptors, specifically, alpha-4, beta-2, and alpha-7. Nicotine mimics the effects of acetylcholine (an excitatory neurotransmitter) in the brain. Binding to these receptors not only enables nicotine to act upon the brain, but also the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest). Nicotine also increases levels of dopamine, norepinephrine, serotonin, GABA, glutamate, and endorphins.


Benefits of nicotine

Before we get into the benefits of nicotine and why I use nicotine gum as a nootropic, I first have to say that it is true that too much nicotine is not a good thing. However, low doses of nicotine have actually been proven to be beneficial.


Here is a quick overview of the benefits of nicotine, which I will discuss in detail below:



  • Increases your motivation, ability to pay attention, and creativity

  • Provides faster, more precise motor function

  • Improves your short-term memory

  • Neuroprotective

  • Promotes wound healing

  • Suppresses appetite



Increases your motivation, ability to pay attention, and creativity

One of the main reasons that I use nicotine gum as a nootropic is because of its ability to increase my motivation, ability to pay attention, and creativity.


Brain imaging studies have demonstrated that nicotine acutely increases activity in the prefrontal cortex, thalamus, and visual system consistent with activation of corticobasal ganglia and thalamic brain circuits.


According to SelfHacked.com, nicotine puts users into an alpha brainwave state, which is characterized by effortless alertness, attention, and creativity. Nicotine also increases wakefulness, mood, and motivation via activating orexin (a neuropeptide that regulates arousal, wakefulness, and appetite).


Nicotine can help to increase your attention. Multiple studies have shown that both nicotine patches and nicotine gum helped study participants pay attention to a mentally tiring task longer than controls could. Nicotine activates the occipital and parietal cortices, which are the command centers for sustained attention and visual processing tasks. Nicotine is also capable of increasing processing speed for complex tasks.



Improves your short-term memory & provides faster, more precise motor function


Research has found that nicotine can improve both immediate and long-term memory. One study found that participants who took nicotine better recalled a list of words they’d just read, and also repeated a story word-for-word, making fewer mistakes than participants given placebo made. Nicotine also improves fine motor skills, such as handwriting.



Neuroprotective

Nicotine is considered to be “neuroprotective”, which means it to protects nerve cells against damage, degeneration, or impairment of function.


There are several mechanisms through which nicotine is neuroprotective:


  • Anti-estrogenic effects

  • Decreasing inflammation (regulates prostaglandin production: prostanoids promote or restrain acute inflammation).

  • Stimulation of nicotinic cholinergic receptors in the brain


Promotes wound healing

Nicotine at a low concentration promotes wound healing by stimulating vasculogenesis and angiogenesis (growth of tissues and blood vessel capillaries). Nicotine also helps to repair damaged blood vessels and increase blood circulation, which speeds up wound healing. This effects are accomplished with nicotine patches.




Suppresses appetite

Nicotine is well known to be an appetite suppressant. It works by first interacting with the β4 subunit of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors that are expressed by pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) neurons, thereby activating the POMC neurons and causing the release of the hormone melanocortin. This increase metabolism and decreases hunger. Nicotine can also lower insulin levels in the bloodstream, which can reduce cravings for sugary foods.


Plus, combining nicotine with caffeine could provide even more appetite-suppressing benefits. One randomized, double-blind study demonstrated that combining low-dose nicotine gum with caffeine enhanced appetite suppression.


In sum

Due to all of these beneficial effects, researchers have are now evaluating the role nicotine could play in improving conditions such as ADHD, anxiety disorders, depression, dementia, Alzheimer’s, and various other health problems This blog post is not going to cover how nicotine can specifically benefit these conditions because I just wanted to share the general benefits of nicotine and why I occasionally use nicotine gum as a nootropic. However, this doesn’t mean nicotine doesn’t come without any drawbacks.  


Drawbacks of nicotine

As a biohacker, it’s important to know both the pros and cons of using nicotine gum as a nootropic before trying this biohack.


Addictive potential

You’re probably aware that one drawback of nicotine is its addictive potential. What’s interesting, however, is what researchers have discovered about the addictive potential of tobacco and nicotine. While tobacco is quite addictive, animal models indicate that nicotine on its own is much less addictive than tobacco.


Potential to increase tumor growth

Nicotine has been found to make tumors grow faster and spread more quickly in mice. However, the cancer link has never been demonstrated in human studies, so it’s difficult to say whether nicotine is a cancer risk for people. If you have or previously had cancer, it is probably not a good idea to use nicotine gum as a nootropic.


Stimulant effects

Since nicotine is a stimulant, it can raise blood pressure, increase heart rate, and constrict blood vessels. If you have cardiovascular conditions, it is probably not a good idea to use nicotine gum as a nootropic. Of course, always consult with your physician first.


Toxic in high doses

When using nicotine as a nootropic, I am talking about using low doses and only doing so occasionally. This is because nicotine is lethal if ingested in high enough doses. Always store and treat any nicotine products with care so pets and/or children cannot get ahold of them.



My experience with using nicotine gum as a nootropic

Using nicotine gum as a nootropic is one of my favorite biohacks. I will chew one piece of 2mg nicotine gum typically in the afternoon since I drink coffee in the morning. I do not chew nicotine gum every day, and I do not feel addicted or dependent on it. If I run out of nicotine gum, it’s no big deal; I do not have cravings for it. One drawback of nicotine gum that I have noticed is that it can cause me to have an upset stomach if I chew the gum on an empty stomach. Another drawback of nicotine gum is that most brands contain artificial sweeteners, such as acesulfame potassium, aspartame, and/or sucralose. Apparently nicotine lozenges and nicotine spray have very little amounts of artificial sweeteners. Overall, I think using nicotine gum as a nootropic is valuable when used appropriately.




References:

https://selfhacked.com/blog/28-proven-health-benefits-nicotine-4-potential-risks/

https://blog.bulletproof.com/is-nicotine-the-next-big-smart-drug/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2946180/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicotine

https://arstechnica.com/science/2011/06/researchers-learning-how-nicotine-works-as-an-appetite-suppresant/


Caffeine for Skin Tightening: Does it Work?

Did you know that caffeine is the world’s most widely consumed psychoactive drug?


I have to admit that I’m a bit of a caffeine addict; you don’t want to mess with me before I’ve had my morning cup of coffee!


In addition to being a caffeine addict, I am, of course, a skin care fanatic, which is why I am definitely interested in skin care products that contain caffeine. While caffeine is purported to provide numerous skin benefits, it is most often used for skin tightening in products such as eye creams and anti-cellulite products.


So can caffeine really help to tighten the skin? Keep reading below to find out!



What is caffeine?

Caffeine is a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant that is well known for its presence in coffee and tea. Additionally, caffeine is known to be present in approximately 60 different plant species. The most common sources of caffeine are the beans of the two cultivated coffee plants, Coffea arabica and Coffea canephora, cocoa beans, tea leaves, and guarana (Paullinia cupana). When consumed, caffeine reversibly blocks the action of adenosine on its receptor, which prevents the onset of drowsiness induced by adenosine.


In addition to the energy-boosting effects gained from consuming caffeine, there are also benefits of applying caffeine topically. Caffeine penetrates the skin barrier and is absorbed by the surrounding blood vessels, which is why it provides several benefits to the skin. The use of caffeine in skin care products is becoming more and more popular. According to 2018 survey data from the FDA’s Voluntary Cosmetic Registration Program (VCRP), caffeine is reported to be used in 1033 formulations, 882 of which are leave-on products and 151 are rinse-off.


Caffeine for Skin Tightening

After topical application, caffeine has the ability to tighten and firm the skin through multiple mechanisms, which include:

Antioxidant properties

Caffeine functions as an antioxidant, which means that it helps to protect the skin from free radical damage. Free radicals are highly reactive molecules that can attack important cellular components, such as DNA, cell membranes, proteins, etc., causing damage. This damage is known as “oxidative stress” and over time this stress can lead to signs of aging, such as fine lines and wrinkles.

Specifically, the main mechanism involved in the direct reactive oxygen species (ROS) scavenging activity of caffeine is known as radical adduct formation (RAF). This means that caffeine can effectively scavenge the hydroxyl radical (-OH) and the -OCH3 free radical. It is thought that caffeine can help maintain tight, firm skin due to its antioxidant activity.

Additionally, dermatologist  Dr. Judith Hellman told Organic Authority, “Caffeine's properties enhance other antioxidant ingredients such as green tea, white tea and resveratrol, providing a boost to those ingredients which neutralize free radicals and improve the texture of the skin”.


Natural stimulant

As a natural stimulant, caffeine causes vasoconstriction (constriction of the blood vessels) and stimulates blood flow when applied to the skin. Vasoconstriction can tighten and firm the skin due to the removal of excess fluids and possible stimulation of the lymphatic drainage system. This function also aids in reducing the amount of blood that accumulates under the eyes (a major factor that contributes to dark circles). Due to these effects, skin care companies often use caffeine for skin tightening in anti-aging eye creams.


Dehydrates Fat Cells

Companies frequently use caffeine for skin tightening in anti-cellulite products because it prevents excessive accumulation of fat in cells. According to a publication in the journal Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, caffeine stimulates the degradation of fats during lipolysis through inhibition of the phosphodiesterase activity.

Furthermore, dermatologist Julie Russak, M.D., explains to Women’s Health, “Caffeine dehydrates the fat cells and stimulates circulation, therefore making the skin appear tighter and smoother, says Russak. However, she notes that these effects are temporary and shouldn't be relied on as long-term solutions.




Other Caffeine Benefits for Skin & Hair

In addition to using caffeine for skin tightening, this natural stimulant can be used in both skin and hair products to provide many other benefits.

UV protection

Clinical studies have found the caffeine can help to protect cells against damage caused by UV radiation and slow down the process of photoaging of the skin. Studies on mice exposed to radiation examined the effects of topical caffeine application. Results from these studies revealed that caffeine has a sunscreen effect on the skin of mice and also inhibited UVB-induced skin carcinogens. Other studies have shown that caffeine helps block the protein ATR (ataxia telangiectasia), therefore protecting skin against UV damage and, ultimately, reducing the risk of skin cancer.


Helps with rosacea

Rosacea is a common skin condition that causes chronic red flushing, primarily on the cheeks, nose, chin, or forehead. Skin care products that contain caffeine are thought to help improve the symptoms of rosacea. This is because caffeine constricts small blood vessels and improves circulation, helping to reduce redness.

Anti-inflammatory

Caffeine has natural soothing and anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce swelling and redness. These properties are particularly helpful for those with acne, rosacea, and other inflammatory skin conditions.

Stimulate hair growth

Caffeine has the ability to stimulate hair growth through inhibition of the 5-α-reductase activity. 5-α-reductase is an enzyme in the body that converts testosterone into DHT, which then goes on to cause hair loss. By inhibiting this enzyme, caffeine is thought to prevent hair loss. Additionally, caffeine acts as a vehicle to penetrate into the cells and therefore can help to deliver active ingredients into the hair follicle.



Using Products with Caffeine for Skin Tightening

If you want to start using caffeine for skin tightening, I would recommend trying the following products:

B-TIGHT Lift & Firm Booty Mask (AMAZON, $54)

B-Tight Mask is an anti-cellulite mask that is said to reduce the appearance of cellulite, restore and tighten skin, and increase skin firmness and elasticity. One of the key ingredients in B-Tight Mask is pink pepperslim, an oil obtained from Schinus terebinthifolius berries. After topical application, pink pepperslim improves microcirculation and reduces the protection on fat reserves to make them more available to lipases. Ultimately, this provides a slimming effect. Another key ingredient in the B-Tight Mask is Ecoslim, a green coffee extract that is formulated to allow caffeine to be included in a higher quantity in a formula (up to 3.5%) without adding alcohol. Ecoslim is a lipolytic agent used for slimming and removing toxins.

Red grapefruit oil, another key ingredient in the B-Tight Mask, contains large amounts of the anti-inflammatory enzyme bromelain, which helps break down cellulite. Red grapefruit oil also helps reduce fat accumulation and enhance circulation to reduce the appearance of cellulite, creating a firmer, fuller look. The final key ingredient in B-Tight Mask is guarana, a plant native to Brazil that contains 4 to 6 times more caffeine than a coffee bean. Guarana contains an impressive range of stimulants and antioxidants that contribute to the fat burning process.



100% PURE Coffee Bean Caffeine Eye Cream (Amazon, $26)

In addition to caffeine, this eye cream contains numerous all natural ingredients that are very beneficial to the skin, such as green tea, aloe, rose water, and rosehip seed oil.

HERBAVANA Exfoliating Body Scrub - Coconut Hemp Coffee Scrub (Amazon, $14.95)

What I really love about this product is the simplicity of the ingredient list, which includes:

Dead Sea Salt, Organic Kona Coffee, Hemp Seed Oil, Organic Olive Oil, Organic Sweet Almond Oil, Organic Avocado Oil, Coffee Arabica Seed Oil, Organic Shea Butter, Argan Oil, Coconut Extract


Have you ever tried using products with caffeine for skin tightening? If so, have they worked for you? Leave me a comment below!





Do You Know The Skin Care Benefits of Ghee?

Did you know that ghee is not only a highly nutritious food, but also an excellent skin care ingredient? In this post, you’ll learn all of the skin care benefits of ghee!

What is Ghee?

Ghee is a type of clarified butter.

Butter is composed of three main components:

  • Fat

  • Water

  • Milk solids

Heating butter until it melts cause the water to evaporate, and the solids, having nowhere else to go, break down and float to the surface where they can be skimmed off.



The process of creating traditional clarified butter is complete once the water is evaporated and the fat (clarified butter) is separated from the milk solids. However, the production of ghee includes simmering the butter, which makes it nutty-tasting and aromatic. According to Healthline, ghee was originally created to prevent butter from spoiling during warm weather.


Since ghee does not contain water, it has a very long shelf life and does not need to be refrigerated. In fact, according to ayurvedic teaching its quality and healing properties improve with age. Ayurveda recognizes ghee as an essential part of a balanced diet and is considered to be the very best oil one can eat. It has been used for centuries as a digestive and elimination aid, as well as for energy, sexual vitality, skin and eye health, as a lubricant for the joints and for alkalizing the blood. 

Ghee is completely free of the milk sugar lactose and the milk protein casein, whereas butter contains small amounts of each. Therefore, ghee is considered to be safe to use for those who have allergies or sensitivities to these dairy components.

Ghee composition

Ghee is composed almost entirely of fat, 62% of which is saturated fat. Palmitic acid and oleic acid are two of the main fatty acids in ghee. Palmitic acid is the most common saturated fatty acid found in animals, plants, and microorganisms. Oleic acid is a monounsaturated omega-9 fatty acid that occurs naturally in various animal and vegetable fats and oils, for instance, olive oil.


Another type of fatty acid in ghee is butyric acid. Butyric acid is a saturated short-chain fatty acid. In addition to ghee, butyric acid can be found in butter, milk, animal fat, and plant oils. It’s also formed in the human colon through the bacterial fermentation of carbohydrates like dietary fiber. Butyric acid supports digestion and promotes healing of cells in the small and large intestine. Butyric acid also provides benefits to the skin, which I will discuss in detail below.



Yet another beneficial fatty acid that can be found in ghee is conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). Linoleic acid is the most common omega-6 fatty acid. According to Healthline, the “conjugated” prefix has to do with the arrangement of the double bonds in the fatty acid molecule. There are 28 different forms of CLA. While the majority of research on CLA is on the ability of this fatty acid to support weight loss, there is emerging research that suggests CLA can benefit aging skin when applied topically.


Ghee also contains a significant amount of cholesterol (approximately 250 mg per 100 grams of ghee). Cholesterol can be classified as a sterol, a type of lipid molecule. It is an essential structural component of all animal cell membranes, functioning to maintain both membrane structural integrity and fluidity. Cholesterol is also naturally found in the stratum corneum (the uppermost layer of skin).


Ghee contains the fat-soluble vitamins A, E, and K. All three of these vitamins have potent antioxidant activity, which I will discuss in detail below.



Ghee Skin Benefits - Moisturizing

Ghee functions as an excellent moisturizer for all skin types, especially those with dry skin. It works by replenishing the skin’s natural barrier. The skin barrier is composed of ceramides, cholesterol, and fatty acids combined with corneocytes (dead skin cells). A strong, intact barrier is important to keep moisture in, as well as keep things like allergens, bacteria, and irritants out.


When the barrier is weakened, these intruders can pass through the top layer of skin, causing damage that ultimately leads to common skin conditions such as acne, rashes, sensitive skin, and even signs of aging. A weak barrier also allows moisture to escape from the skin’s surface, leading to dry, flaky skin.


Topical application of ghee provides fatty acids and cholesterol, which both work to replenish the skin’s barrier. Additionally, the conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) in ghee helps skin retain moisture by boosting ceramide synthesis. Overall, ghee fortifies the skin barrier, resulting in hydrated, soft, smooth skin that is better protected from harmful environmental factors.



Ghee Skin Benefits - Anti-Aging

According to StyleCraze, “Ghee is considered as one of the best natural anti-aging solutions.”

I’d have to agree with them.  


Since I have been applying ghee to my skin I’ve noticed that my complexion is brighter and that my skin looks (and feels) softer and more plump.


The anti-aging skin benefits of ghee are thanks to several different components. First, the fatty acids, cholesterol, and CLA help to keep the skin moisturized (as mentioned above), which is crucial since the skin loses moisture with age.

Additionally, ghee contains that antioxidant vitamins A, E, and K. Antioxidants work by scavenging and neutralizing free radicals. Free radicals are the unstable molecule that can react with our important cellular components, such as DNA, proteins, carbohydrates, or the cell membrane. When this happens, the cells become dysfunctional or undergo apoptosis (cell death). Collectively, the damage to cells in our body is referred to as oxidative stress. Oxidative stress in skin cells leads to premature signs of aging, such as lines, wrinkles, and age spots. Antioxidants help to prevent signs of aging because they break the chain of reactions caused by free radicals.


Ghee Skin Benefits - Calms Inflammation

Have you ever heard the term “inflammaging”?

I hadn’t until I started to research the skin benefits of ghee.

“Inflammaging” is a term used to describe chronic, low-grade inflammation that is associated with age-related changes in the body. Inflammaging has been linked to numerous age-related diseases, one being skin aging.  

One way to combat inflammaging as it relates to skin aging is to incorporate anti-inflammatory ingredients in your skin care routine. There are several anti-inflammatory compounds found in ghee, such as butyrate and conjugated linoleic acid.


Research performed on cell cultures has demonstrated that butyrate does reduce inflammation. According to SelfHacked.com, butyrate suppresses the activity of cells and proteins driving inflammation. It also strengthens barriers between the cells, thus preventing invasion of microbes.


The conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) in ghee also helps to calm inflammation. It is believed that CLA isomers have the ability to inhibit the transcription of pro-inflammatory cytokines by the upregulation of PPARγ expression. Pro-inflammatory cytokines are signaling molecules that promote inflammation. By reducing the transcription of these molecules, inflammation is reduced.


The ability of ghee to help calm skin inflammation not only helps reduce signs of aging, but can also alleviate the symptoms of other inflammatory skin disorders. Examples include acne, eczema, rosacea, etc.



Personally, I have noticed that if I apply ghee on a blemish, the redness and inflammation surrounding the blemish is diminished.



In conclusion

Overall, I think the skin care benefits of ghee are pretty impressive. If you are looking for a natural moisturizer, I’d pick up a jar of organic ghee (I purchased mine on Amazon for $11.95) and try making a DIY moisturizer.

There are several how-to videos on YouTube, such as this one:





Mad Hippie Cream Cleanser Review

Mad Hippie Cream Cleanser is an all-natural cleanser that effectively removes makeup and other impurities, leaving the skin feeling soft and looking bright. After testing this product on my combination skin, I think it is best for those with normal, dry, or combination skin types. This product may not be effective for those with oily & acne prone skin as it does not contain active ingredients to treat acne breakouts. For my full review on the Mad Hippie Cream Cleanser, keep reading below!

What is the Mad Hippie Cream Cleanser?

I’ve been really wanting to try the Mad Hippie Cream Cleanser because there are so many things that I love about this brand. I find the packaging to be very appealing and I love that the products all come in glass bottles with pump dispensers. I also appreciate that all of the Mad Hippie products are free of harmful chemicals and unnecessary additives.

The Mad Hippie Cream Cleanser is formulated to be mildly acidic in order to support the skin’s natural pH, which is typically about 5.5. This acidity of the skin is termed the “acid mantle” and is maintained by sebaceous glands, sweat glands, and normal skin flora. The acid mantle provides a film of amino/lactic acids and oils that effectively protect skin from environmental factors (bacteria, pollutants) that contribute to premature aging and irritation. It is important to regulate the pH of cosmetics and personal care products so as not to shift the skin’s normal pH too far from normal. If a product is too acidic, it may irritate the skin or cause a stinging sensation. If a product is too alkaline, like many facial cleansers are, the skin can be depleted of vital, natural lipids.

The Mad Hippie Cream Cleanser is also formulated with antioxidants and hydrating oils that leave the skin soft and smooth while gently washing away dirt & impurities.

Key Ingredients in the Mad Hippie Cream Cleanser

Organic Jojoba Oil 

Jojoba oil is one of the best oils for skin because its chemical composition mimics the skin’s natural sebum more closely than any other oil. It is mostly comprised of long-chain fatty acid esters, but also contains small amounts of vitamins, minerals, triglycerides, phospholipids, and tocopherols. Upon topical application, jojoba oil forms a protective barrier that helps to keep skin hydrated and nourished.

Orchid.jpeg

Orchid Extract 

Orchid extract comes from the purple orchid known as Orchis Mascula. It is rich in minerals, antioxidants, and moisturizing compounds. Orchid extract definitely provides some flower power to this Mad Hippie product!

Organic Macadamia Oil 

Macadamia oil is a lightweight oil that is absorbed quickly by the skin without feeling greasy. The high content of oleic acid found in macadamia oil is very moisturizing, regenerating, and softening on the skin. The linoleic acid enables this ingredient to nourish and hydrate the skin by replenishing the skin’s barrier. A strong, intact skin barrier helps to prevent water loss and keeps harmful environmental irritants out of the skin. The result is smooth, moisturized, healthy skin.

Sodium Hyaluronate 

Sodium hyaluronate is the water-soluble sodium salt form of hyaluronic acid, a glycosaminoglycan that is capable of holding up to 1,000 times its weight in water! Sodium hyaluronate has been shown to have better skin penetrating capabilities than hyaluronic acid. Once absorbed by the skin, sodium hyaluronate helps the skin to absorb and hold moisture, leading to more hydrated skin.

Sesame Oil 

Sesame seed oil is composed of several beneficial fatty acids, including linoleic acid and oleic acid. These fatty acids replenish the skin’s lipid barrier, which prevents water loss and keeps harmful environmental irritants out of the skin. Sesame oil is also rich in several potent antioxidants, including vitamin E and vitamin A. These antioxidants help to even skin tone and reduce the appearance of wrinkles.  

Green Tea 

Green tea extract comes from the steaming and drying of the Camellia sinensis leaves. One of the most important components in green tea extract is the polyphenol epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). When applied to the skin, EGCG has been shown to provide significant preventive effects against photocarcinogenesis and phototoxicity in mouse studies. Furthermore, a 2001 study in the journal Carcinogenesis found that topical application of EGCG to human skin resulted in decreased oxidative stress and an increase in antioxidant enzymes after UV irradiation. Overall, green tea extract is an excellent ingredient to provide preventative anti-aging benefits in skin care products.

Sodium PCA

Sodium PCA is the salt form of pyrrolidone carboxylic acid, which is derived from amino acids. Within the stratum corneum, PCA along with small compounds including sugars and electrolytes, form the natural moisturizing factor (NMF). Together with the naturally-occurring lipids in skin, NMF components work to keep skin’s surface intact, supple, and hydrated. Topical application of sodium PCA works to effectively hydrate the skin by absorbing and binding moisture to the skin.

Shea Butter 

Shea butter is a fat extracted from the nuts of the shea tree, which is native to Africa. Shea butter has been used for centuries for its excellent moisturizing and soothing properties. Since shea butter melts at body temperature, it is able to coat the skin and form an occlusive film. This film helps to prevent evaporation of the skin’s natural moisture and increases skin hydration by causing buildup of water in the stratum corneum. Shea butter is also a rich source of the powerful antioxidants vitamin A & E, fatty acids, and cinnamic acid.

Full ingredient list:

Deionized Water, Sesame Oil (Sesamum Indicum), Caprylic/capric Triglycerides, Shea Butter (Butyrospermum Parkii), Cetearyl Glucoside, Carrageenan Gum, Vegetable Glycerin, Caprylhydroxamic Acid, Caprylyl Glycol, Sodium PCA, Green Tea (Camellia Sinensis Leaf), Jojoba (Simmondsia Chinensis), Squalene, Organic Macadamia Oil (Macadamia Ternifolia Seed Oil), Organic Jojoba Oil (Simmondsia Chinesis), Yeast Extract, Glucosamine HCL, Vitamin E (Tocopheryl), Sodium Hyaluronate, Algae Extract, Orchid Extract (Orchis Mascula), Titanium Dioxide

Final Thoughts

Overall, I really like the Mad Hippie Cream Cleanser. One of my favorite aspects of this cleanser is that it effectively removes makeup, even mascara and eyeliner. After using this cleanser, my face feels very soft and smooth. The only drawback of the Mad Hippie Cream Cleanser is that I don’t think it removes excess oil from the skin, which could be problematic for those with oily & acne prone skin. Since I have combination skin, I alternate using the Mad Hippie Cream Cleanser with the Mario Badescu Glycolic Foaming Cleanser to ensure my pores are cleared of all excess oil, dead skin cells, and other impurities.

Have you tried the Mad Hippie Cream Cleanser? If so, leave your thoughts about this product in the comments below!

Bulletproof Collagen Protein - What Are The Benefits?

I love everything about the Bulletproof brand, from Dave Asprey’s podcast Bulletproof Radio to all of the high quality products created to “biohack” your life. This blog post is all about Bulletproof Collagen Protein, a product that I have been using for about 6 months now. I’m pretty impressed with the results I’ve seen from this product and I want to share with you what Bulletproof Collagen Protein is and how it can benefit you.


What is Bulletproof Collagen Protein?

Bulletproof Collagen Protein contains just one ingredient: hydrolyzed collagen powder. The term “hydrolyzed” means that the collagen protein has undergone hydrolysis, a process that breaks the collagen protein into smaller chains of amino acids by reaction with an enzyme. The enzymatic hydrolysis ensures that the collagen is not damaged by heat.  Hydrolysis creates a low molecular weight product, which makes digestion, absorption, and distribution of the amino acids throughout the body easier.

One of the main advantages of Bulletproof Collagen Protein compared to other brands of collagen proteins is that the hydrolyzed collagen powder comes from pasture-raised, hormone-free cows. It is odorless and does not have any taste once mixed with coffee or some other type of beverage. I typically mix my Bulletproof Collagen Protein in my coffee along with grassfed butter + Brain Octane Oil in my NutriBullet. Of note, when I just stir the collagen into my coffee without the help of my NutriBullet, it sometimes forms small clumps.

What are the benefits of Bulletproof Collagen Protein?

Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body. It is a major component of connective tissues that make up several body parts, including tendons, ligaments, bones, muscles, and skin. Collagen is often referred to as the “glue” that holds the body together. Here are some of the benefits of taking Bulletproof Collagen Protein:

  • Support overall bone and joint health

Collagen plays an important role in the building of joint cartilage and it may have anti-inflammatory effects. Taking a collagen supplement has been suggested to help those with osteoarthritis since this disease is caused by the breakdown of the cartilage matrix, which is made up of collagen.

  • Promote healthy, firm skin

Collagen plays a role in strengthening skin, plus may benefit elasticity and hydration. After the age of 20, a person produces about 1 percent less collagen in the skin each year. Moreover, environmental free radicals, such as UV overexposure and cigarette smoking, can degrade collagen proteins. The result is skin that becomes thinner and more fragile with age. By taking Bulletproof Collagen Protein, your skin should appear more firm, plump, and hydrated.

  • Stimulate hair growth

Similar to how collagen affects the skin, supplementing with collagen protein can help to promote stronger hair that grows faster. Specifically, the amino acids in hydrolyzed collagen enable the hair follicle to produce keratin, the protein that makes up 95% of the hair shaft.

Benefits I’ve noticed after taking Bulletproof Collagen Protein

  • Decreased cellulite

The reason why I initially started taking Bulletproof Collagen Protein was to help decrease the appearance of cellulite on my legs. Cellulite is caused by the herniation of subcutaneous fat within fibrous connective tissue of the hypodermis. Since the root cause of cellulite is breakdown of connective tissue, I figured using collagen to help repair my connective tissue would decrease the appearance of my cellulite. And I was right! I still have some cellulite, but I attribute this to slacking on my diet. Overall, I would say I have definitely noticed a decrease in my cellulite after taking Bulletproof Collagen Protein.

  • Improved skin tone

This may sound cliche, but I have definitely noticed a “glow” to my skin after taking Bulletproof Collagen Protein. My skin is clear, bright, and firm. Plus, if I do get a blemish, I’ve noticed that it heals much faster than when I was not taking collagen.

  • Stronger nails

The first sign that indicated my daily intake of Bulletproof Collagen Protein was working effectively was my stronger nails. They also grow much faster, too!

  • Longer eyelashes

I didn’t start to notice my longer eyelashes until several months of Bulletproof Collagen Protein. It looks like I have mascara on even when I don’t! I’m very pleased with this result and I am hoping the same thing will happen with my eyebrows, however, I haven’t noticed any difference as of yet.

Where to buy Bulletproof Collagen Protein

You can buy Bulletproof Collagen Protein on the Bulletproof website or on Amazon.

Bulletproof offers several varieties of their collagen protein:




Five Reasons to Quit Sugar Now

This article first appeared on Sweetdefeat.

Why it’s so important to cut back on your sugar intake—and take back control of your health.

Over three-quarters of packaged food in grocery stores today comes with copious amounts of added sweeteners, making it easy to overindulge, even if you pass on dessert. Most Americans eat over 82 grams of sugar daily, which is triple the amount recommended by the American Heart Association.

Over the course of a year, that equals 150 pounds of added sugars per person. Feeling gross yet?   

Top Five Dangers of Added Sugar

It’s time to resolve to cut your sugar consumption levels down this year. Below are five health risks of overeating sugar and sugar substitutes, and the damage that they wreak on your body.

1. Driving Force Behind Type 2 (and Type 3) Diabetes

The results are in: eating too much sweet stuff raises your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. According to the CDC, an estimated 100 million Americans have the disease, and millions more are at risk. Insulin resistance is the trigger for diabetes, and foods filled with fat and sugar reduce your sensitivity to insulin, meaning your blood sugar levels go unchecked.

Sugary drinks tend to be the most dangerous. When the British Medical Journal conducted an analysis of fruit juice and soda, they found that even eight daily ounces raised diabetes risk by 13 percent. Likewise, research published on PLOS One shows that every extra 150 calories of sugar (the amount in a single can of soda) every day increases diabetes risk by one percent, compared to just 0.1 percent for non-sugar calories.  

Now, new evidence from the Journal of Diabetes Science and Technology shows that sugar-filled diets might increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. In fact, the link between insulin resistance and Alzheimer’s is so strong that some scientists are considering renaming the disease as “type 3 diabetes.”

2. Promotes Addiction and Brain Fog

Eight times more addictive than cocaine. That’s what research from Princeton is reporting about the sinister side of sugar. Your body craves this sweet substance like it’s a drug because, well, it is. And like many other drugs, sugar only hurts your body in the process.  

The taste of sugar triggers signals in your brain that light up its reward pathway and create a surge of feel-good hormones. Too much stimulation reduces their effectiveness, meaning you start needing larger amounts of sugar to feel the same way. Likewise, sugar-induced insulin resistance weakens the synaptic connections between brain cells, leading to impaired cognition, higher depression rates, and emotional mood swings that leave you depleted.

3. Develops into Dangerous Belly Fat

Eating refined sugar overloads your liver with fructose, and anything you don’t immediately burn is turned into fat—predominately around your belly. Not only does this leave you looking bloated, but it also leads to lingering health challenges. In fact, reports from Harvard reveals that abdominal fat can raise your risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, strokes, and premature death.

4. Triggers Premature Aging

Wrinkly, saggy skin is hardly the fresh start you want this year. Yet, sugary snacks might make it a reality. A study conducted at Dartmouth Medical School states that overindulging on sugar leads to glycation, a process where excess sugar molecules attach to collagen fibers, causing them to lose flexibility and strength. As a result, your skin loses elasticity and becomes more vulnerable to skin damage and sagging. A high-sugar diet also deactivates your body’s natural antioxidant enzymes, which leaves you more susceptible to sun damage and skin cancers.   

5. Zaps the “Good” Bacteria in Your Gut

Your digestive system is a zoo of beneficial bacteria that keep things functioning as they should. Research funded by the American Cancer Society show that sugar alters gut bacteria in ways that affect mental performance and potentially raise toxin levels in your bloodstream. Because most sugars are digested without microbial help, these hungry bugs turn to nibbling on your intestinal lining instead. Permeating this barrier allows food particles into the rest of your body, which can cause inflammation and fungal growth like candida.

Further research from Tel Aviv University also shows that artificial sugar might promote the growth of harmful gut bacteria, which can lead to irritation, allergies and skin conditions, as well as digestive distress.

This Year, Cut Out Sugar for Better Health

The facts don’t lie.

Sugar is terrible for your health, and cutting it out only does your body a favor. So, commit to eat less sugar, and you’ll experience profound benefits in the process.   



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Top Period Hacks to Improve Mood + Decrease Cramps, Bloating, etc.

Did you know that PMS, the dreaded bloating, headaches, mood swings, cravings, cramps, etc., affects 75% of women?

It certainly takes a toll on me once a month, which is what inspired me to find out ways to “hack” my own biology in order to stop feeling so miserable during this time of the month (and to save my boyfriend from my crying spells and irritability!). If you’re looking for ways to alleviate symptoms of PMS, keep reading below for my top period hacks derived from science!

 

What Causes PMS?

Simply put, PMS (premenstrual syndrome) is caused when a woman’s hormones become unbalanced. During a woman’s cycle, the hormones estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone all fluctuate in response to different changes in the body. Below is a graph of the typical times when these hormones peak during a 28 day cycle.

 

Image  source

Image source

In addition to cramps and mood swings, these fluctuations in hormones are also what lead to acne breakouts during PMS. Specifically, the rise in progesterone stimulates sebum production, skin swelling, and compressed pores. This is a recipe for blemishes as the excess sebum gets trapped beneath the shut pores.  As a skin care lover, this is one symptom that I really would like to avoid!

While many people rely on oral contraceptives and/or anti-inflammatory medications (i.e. Advil, Aleve) to help with PMS symptoms, there are well known risks that come along with both of these types of medications. Therefore, I believe in first making lifestyle changes, such as adjusting your diet or taking supplements, that will support your body (including your hormones!) Below you'll find my top period hacks that I've derived from reading the science and literature on how to better balance hormones and PMS symptoms. 

 

Top Period Hacks

 

1. Support Your Liver for Better Estrogen Metabolism

When you think of period hacks, supporting your liver probably isn’t the first thing to come to mind. But did you know that the liver plays a very important role in estrogen metabolism? The liver converts excess estrogen into compounds that can be excreted by the body.

One way to support your liver is to clean up your diet. Eliminate refined carbohydrates and sugar, which are toxic not just to the liver but to your entire body. Then, add in foods that support the liver, such as:

 

  • Sour/bitter foods: According to Dr. Axe, bitter green vegetables, such as mustard greens, arugula, chicory, and dandelion root, aid in liver detoxification. Dandelion root also acts as a diuretic, which can help if water retention is one of your PMS symptoms.

Product recommendation: Try Nature's Way Dandelion Root 525 mg Vegetarian Capsules.

  • Flax seed: According to Dr. Mark Hyman, MD, flax seed contain plant compounds known as lignans, which help balance hormone metabolism and block the negative effects of excess estrogens. 

Product recommendation: Try Viva Naturals Ground Flax Seed

Product recommendation: Try Pureco Organic Milk Thistle 6,000 mg Capsules.

 

2. Increase Levels of Serotonin

As you can see from the image at the beginning of this post, there is a drop in estrogen that typically occurs right before your period starts. This drop in estrogen may lead to decreased levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter (also referred to as 5-HTP, 5-hydroxytryptophan) that contributes to feelings of well-being and happiness. Moreover, lower levels of serotonin are also associated with the carb cravings that come with PMS (hello, Ben and Jerry’s ice cream!)  


One way to increase serotonin levels is to supplement with 5 HTP. Cycle Harmony suggests taking a 5HTP supplement with a small carbohydrate snack at bedtime for optimal absorption. Be sure to take a break from taking 5HTP from time to time to prevent the build-up of tolerance, which will make it much less effective.

Product recommendation: 5HTP 200 mg Capsules

If you don't want to take a 5 HTP supplement, there are natural ways to boost your serotonin production, such as:

  • Going out in the sun

  • Exercising

  • Eat foods that are high in tryptophan (the precursor to serotonin aka 5-hydroxytryptophan)

 

3. Supplement Nutrient Deficiencies

My next period hack is to supplement any nutrient deficiencies that you might have. Deficiencies in certain vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients may contribute to PMS symptoms. Below are some supplements that have been shown in studies to help with PMS symptoms. Of course, please check with your doctor or healthcare provider before taking any supplements. 

Magnesium citrate 

Magnesium citrate supplements can help to decrease PMS symptoms like cramps, irritability, fatigue, depression, and water retention.

Fabio Facchinetti et al from the Universities of Modena and Pavia, Italy found that low levels of magnesium are prevalent in women who experience menstrual problems. In a two-month trial, 32 women with PMS received 360 mg/day of magnesium or placebo from the 15th day of each menstrual cycle to the beginning of the next menstrual period. Women who were given magnesium supplements had lesser menstrual complaints.

I take a magnesium citrate supplement called Natural Calm and I have definitely noticed an improvement in my PMS symptoms, most notably my cramps are much less severe. Natural Calm also helps to decrease my anxiety and get better sleep at night. I take 325mg every night before bedtime.  

 

 

Vitamin B6 

Vitamin B6 acts as a cofactor in the production of the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin, both which affect mood. 

A double-blinded placebo-controlled clinical trial compared the effects of supplementing with magnesium vs. magnesium + vitamin B6 vs. placebo for PMS symptoms. While all three groups saw improvements in their symptoms, the magnesium + vitamin B6 group had significantly decreased PMS symptoms. 

Researchers believe that the right dose of vitamin B6 for PMS is above 50 mg and not beyond 100 mg.

Product recommendation: NOW Foods Vitamin B6 100 mg Capsules

Calcium citrate

Studies have found that low dose supplementation with calcium citrate (500 - 600 mg) can reduce PMS symptoms. Note: the body needs vitamin D in order to absorb calcium, so taking a combination of calcium + vitamin D is a good idea!

Product recommendation: Caltrate 600 mg + D3

 

4. Eat Some Chocolate

My last period hack is probably going to be your favorite because if you're anything like me then you definitely crave chocolate during PMS! Luckily, there is evidence that dark chocolate can alleviate PMS symptoms in several ways. First, dark chocolate is full of beneficial antioxidants that trigger the walls of your blood vessels to relax, lowering blood pressure and improving circulation, according to an article by Health. That may be why research has shown that enjoying about an ounce and a half of dark chocolate daily for two weeks can reduce stress hormone levels. Dark chocolate also contains magnesium, which, as mentioned above, can relieve PMS symptoms.

 

 

Do You Have Any Period Hacks?

Those are all of the period hacks that I have for now. Do you have any period hacks that have helped you to deal with PMS symptoms any better? Leave me a comment below! 

 

 

Try the Ketogenic Diet for Healthy Skin

I’ve been following the ketogenic diet for the past several months and I must say that my skin is looking better than I’ve ever seen it!

I haven’t had any acne breakouts (besides the one or two blemishes that I get during PMS) and I’ve noticed a glow to my complexion that I’ve never been able to achieve before. At first, I didn’t even realize that my new style of eating was contributing to my healthy, vibrant skin. Since I haven’t changed anything with my skincare routine, however, I knew the ketogenic diet was the reason behind my improved complexion.

If you want to learn more about how to try the ketogenic diet for healthy skin, keep reading below.

ketogenic diet healthy skin pin.jpg

 

What is the ketogenic diet?

The ketogenic diet involves following a low carb, high fat diet in order to shift the body from a sugar burning state to a fat burning state. According to Diet Doctor, the “keto” in a ketogenic diet comes from the fact that this style of eating leads the body to produce ketones as its fuel source, which will put the body into a state of ketosis.

When people follow the standard American diet (high carb, low fat), the body depends on glucose (blood sugar) for fuel. The problem with this style of eating, however, is that excess amounts of glucose in the blood signal to the pancreas to release insulin. Subsequently, insulin signals for the body to store glucose in the form of fat. Yes, that’s right, carbs and sugar are what cause you to get fat! 

 

Therefore, one of the many benefits of the ketogenic diet is fat reduction and weight loss. Additional benefits of the ketogenic diet include:

  • Decreased brain fog

  • Higher energy level

  • Improved hormone balance

  • May decrease risk of cancer

  • And many more!

 

Now that you know the basics of the ketogenic diet, let’s dive into one of my favorite benefits of this style of eating: healthy skin!

 

The benefits of cutting out carbs and sugar

The ketogenic diet can give you healthy skin by helping with acne symptoms.

There are several factors that contribute to the formation of acne, one being consumption of high glycemic index foods (bread, soda, cake, pasta, rice, etc.) These types of foods have a negative impact on your skin because they cause major spikes in blood glucose levels, which leads to insulin secretion. Studies have found that insulin can increase sebum production as well as lead to the colonization of the stratum corneum by Propionibacterium acnes (the bacteria that causes acne). Both of these insulin-mediated actions lead to inflammation and blemishes.

 

According to a review published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, evidence from several studies reports that the prevalence of acne varies significantly between different populations and is substantially lower in non-Westernized populations that follow traditional diets, a common factor among these traditional diets being a low glycemic load.

 

While the evidence is not yet conclusive, cutting out sugar and carbs by following the ketogenic diet could improve your acne symptoms.

 

The benefits of including healthy fats

Healthy skin needs healthy fats. Period.

Specifically, the skin needs essential fatty acids (EFAs) like omega-3 fatty acids. These are the building blocks of healthy cell membranes and also help produce the skin's natural oil barrier, which is critical in keeping skin hydrated, plumper, and younger looking. According to WebMD, if you're not getting enough EFAs in your diet, your skin may be dry, inflamed, and prone to whiteheads and blackheads.

The good news is that the ketogenic diet encourages eating a lot of fat. Examples of foods that are full of healthy fats include the following:

  • Avocados

  • Fish (salmon, trout, mackerel, sardines, herring)

  • Nuts

  • Olive oil

  • Coconut oil

  • Animal fats (butter, eggs, meat, etc.)

If you want to add even more omega-3 fatty acids into your diet you could also take a fish oil or krill oil supplement. According to the Bulletproof blog, krill oil is superior to fish oil because because the polyunsaturated fats are packaged as phospholipids, which can be used immediately by your body. The healthy fats in fish oil, on the other hand, are typically packaged as triglycerides and have to undergo additional processing in order to make them bioavailable.

I take this krill oil supplement to ensure that I'm getting enough omega-3 fatty acids! (Amazon, $16.98)

Increasing your intake of healthy fats can help to give your skin a more youthful look!

The benefits of eating your veggies

Low carb vegetables, such as leafy greens, broccoli, kale, spinach, etc., are permitted while following the ketogenic diet. The bonus to eating these types of veggies is healthy skin!

 

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Specifically, deeply colored vegetables and low fructose citrus fruits can help to give you glowing skin due to their vitamin C. Vitamin C is necessary for the production of collagen, the protein that keeps your skin looking firm and young. Additionally, vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps to protect your skin from free radicals that your skin is exposed to during the day, such as too much sun exposure, environmental toxins, etc.

The benefits of drinking Bulletproof coffee

Bulletproof coffee is a staple of my ketogenic diet. I drink a cup (or two!) every single morning. If you’re not familiar with Bulletproof coffee, it’s coffee with grass-fed butter + Brain Octane Oil blended together to make a delicious drink that gives you a boost of energy and staves off hunger for hours.

Image via  Bulletproof

Image via Bulletproof

 

So how does including Bulletproof coffee in my ketogenic diet improve my complexion? In addition to the healthy fats that are found in grass-fed butter and Brain Octane Oil, the caffeine in coffee improves skin health by reducing inflammation, boosting circulation to the skin, repairing DNA, soothing sun damage, and reducing redness from irritation.

 

Try the Ketogenic Diet for Healthy Skin

Trying the ketogenic diet has honestly been the best thing I’ve ever done for my health. As I said, the stable energy all day long is what really got me hooked, but seeing improvements in my complexion is an exciting bonus! In my opinion as a skincare addict and pharmacist, I would definitely recommend trying the ketogenic diet for healthy skin!

 

 

 

Retinoids vs. Retinol

Hi friends!

So as I was writing this post, I realized that a more suitable title may have been retinoid vs. retinol vs. retinoic acid vs. all-trans-retinoic acid vs. retinyl palmitate vs. OMG WTF?!

As you can see, all of these terms look and sound the same, but they are all slightly different.

Since retinoids are the gold standard for giving your skin a youthful, glowing appearance I’m going to help you to understand the difference between retinoids vs. retinol (and all of those other names, too!)

Retinoid vs. Retinol vs. ETC.

In pharmacy school, we were taught that retinol is another name for vitamin A. As you know, vitamin A can be found in certain foods (kale, sweet potatoes, carrots, etc.). Vitamin A can also be synthetically made as a dietary supplement or for use in skincare products. 

carrots.jpg


Retinyl palmitate is the ester of retinol. Throwback to o-chem (literally my favorite class in pharmacy school!): an ester is a compound that is derived from an acid in which at least one of the hydroxyl (-OH) groups is replaced by an alkyl (–O–) group.

A carboxylate ester

A carboxylate ester

When retinol is metabolized, it forms retinoic acid. Once again, retinoic acid can also be man-made and used in prescription drugs, such as brand name Retin-A (generic name = tretinoin) and brand name Accutane (generic name = isotretinoin). Since tretinoin is the all-trans isomer of retinoic acid, it is also referred to as all-trans-retinoic acid.

The term retinoid encompasses all of the aforementioned derivatives of retinol and is considered a class of chemical compounds that demonstrate vitamin A activity.

When it comes to OTC anti-aging creams and serums, skincare experts consider pure retinol to be the most effective of the retinoids.

How does retinol benefit the skin?

Retinol is one of the best anti-aging ingredients because it has so many functions:

  • Retinol can minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles

  • Retinol can improve uneven skin tone

  • Retinol can increase skin firmness

  • Retinol can shrink the appearance of pores

So how does retinol provide your skin with all of these benefits? Let's look at the science. 

Retinoids have a very complex mechanism of action. According to the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology, all retinoids, not just retinol, are very effective at slowing and preventing the aging effects of UV exposure.

In the nucleus of cells there are retinoic acid (RAR) and retinoid X receptors (RXR). When retinol interacts with these nuclear receptors, the production of procollagen is increased and the release of inflammatory mediators is blocked. Thus, retinol can improve any collagen deficiency that exists in the skin when applied topically. Furthermore, since vitamin A (retinol) is an antioxidant, applying a retinol product to your skin works to combat the damaging effects of free radicals. Retinoids also act as comedolytic agents and work by unclogging blocked pores. So retinoids are not only excellent anti-aging ingredients, but they can also help with acne!

My favorite retinol products

Paula's Choice SKIN RECOVERY Super Antioxidant Serum with Retinol (Amazon, ~$36)

Paula’s Choice SKIN RECOVERY serum combines retinol with a ton of beneficial ingredients, including vitamins C & E, green tea extract, chamomile extract, grape seed extract, evening primrose oil, and more!

SkinCeuticals Retinol 1.0 Maximum Strength Refining Night Cream (Amazon, ~$59)

This SkinCeuticals product is high-concentration pure retinol cream for experienced retinol users to improve the appearance of visible signs of aging and pores while minimizing breakouts.



 

So do you have a better understanding of the difference between retinoids and retinol now? Is there anything that is still unclear? Please leave me a comment below or reach out to me by email - I'd love to answer any questions you have!

 

 

6 Tips to Get Rid of Acne That You Haven't Heard Before

Hi friends!

I was inspired to write this post because I'm so happy with how clear and smooth my skin has been lately! 

I hope saying that doesn't come off as bragging, I'm honestly just relieved and happy that I've finally found the right products to clear my skin! Can you believe that just 6 months ago I was dealing with cystic acne?! It was a nightmare. 

If you’ve ever had to deal with acne, you understand that it's a difficult battle. Blemishes are embarrassing and frequent breakouts can lower your self-esteem. I felt so ugly that sometimes I didn't even want to leave the house!

I tried everything that I knew to try. Pretty much every OTC cream, gel, cleanser, etc. I even went to the dermatologist to try prescription creams. Nothing worked!

Since there is so much conflicting info out there on how to treat acne that I decided to ditch what everyone else was saying and think about how to clear my acne based on my knowledge on how acne forms in the first place. 

Why do blemishes form?

The first step in the formation of a blemish occurs when the skin’s sebaceous glands produce excess amounts of sebum. Sebum is a naturally occurring oily substance that moisturizes, lubricates, and protects the skin and hair. Even though sebum production is normal, when it is produced in excess it can clog the skin’s pores. There are numerous factors that can increase the skin’s sebum production, including cosmetics, smoking, stress, foods and drinks with high sugar content, and many more.

The next step in the development of acne is follicular hyperkeratinization. While the name may sound complicated, this simply means that follicles in the skin are not exfoliating properly and are more prone to becoming clogged. When the follicle becomes clogged, a species of bacteria called Propionibacterium acnes accumulate and multiply in the follicle. The follicle becomes inflamed, thus leading to pimple formation.

Considering how acne develops, effective treatment options should accomplish the following:

  • Normalize the skin’s sebum levels

  • Destroy the P. acnes bacteria

  • Calm the skin and reduce inflammation

With this in mind, I finally cleared my skin by finding the products + lifetstyle habits that work for me

It’s important to understand that there is no cure for acne. However, through what I've learned as a pharmacist and my personal battle with acne, I've discovered the best tips to get rid of acne. In fact, I bet you haven't even heard of some of them before! Check them out below.

1. Try a sulfur cleanser

I have to start with this tip because sulfur cleansers have been by far the best thing to help get rid of my acne. After using a sulfur cleanser for just a couple weeks my cystic acne significantly improved!! I started with the R+F UNBLEMISH Acne Treatment Sulfur Wash & still use this today to keep my skin under control.

I also love the Mario Badescu Drying Mask, which contains sulfur as well as a ton of other ingredients that are excellent for acne prone skin! It's one of my favorite masks. 

[Related: Pharmacist Approved Face Masks for Any Skin Type]

6 Tips to Get Rid of Acne That You Haven't Heard Before

The reason I had never tried one before was from what I learned in pharmacy school! According to the American Academy of Dermatology, "There is limited evidence to support recommendations for sulfur, nicotinamide, resorcinol, sodium sulfacetamide, aluminum chloride, and zinc in the treatment of acne." Knowing this, I dismissed the thought of ever using a sulfur cleanser. I guess this goes to show that everyone's skin is different and what works for the majority of people might not work for you (& vice versa!) So while the AAD may not consider sulfur to be effective, it worked extremely well for me. 

Sulfur products get rid of acne so well because sulfur is a keratolytic agent, which means it causes the uppermost layers of skin to loosen and shed. Ultimately, this action clears out dead skin cells and other debris from pores that can cause acne. 

2. Reconsider your fabrics

With this tip, I'm suggesting that you reconsider the fabrics you use in both your bed sheets and towels. Did you know that certain fabrics are better for your skin than others? In fact, choosing the wrong type of fabric will not only lead to acne breakouts, but also causes lines and wrinkles that could become permanent!

One of the worst fabrics that you can use is cotton. 

COTTON.jpg

Cotton is a soft, extremely absorbent fabric. In fact, cotton has the ability to absorb up to 27 times its weight in water! This is due to cotton's composition of mostly cellulose, a hydrophilic (water-loving) polysaccharide. So what's the problem with a highly absorbent fabric? Our bodies naturally lose moisture and oils as we sleep, which ends up being absorbed into the cotton pillowcase. This becomes a problem when our skin sticks to the fabric, causing friction that can lead to creases in facial skin. Also, the buildup of sweat and oil in the fabric can cause or worsen acne.

3. Don't be afraid of oils

Many people with oily skin avoid oils due to fear of breaking out. Skin needs oil to help maintain its hydration, especially when it is stripped of its own natural oils, such as from using too harsh of a cleanser. 

If you have oily or acne prone skin try to avoid oils that are known to clog pores, such as mineral oil, olive oil, and coconut oil. One of the best oils for these skin types is jojoba oil because its structure so closely resembles human sebum (the natural oil produced by skin). By mimicking the body’s natural oil so closely, applying jojoba oil will signal to the skin to stop overproducing sebum, which is one of the major causes of acne.   

Additionally, there’s an oil that specifically treats acne and can help reduce the size of pimples: tea-tree oil. This oil has been proven to be an effective treatment for mild to moderate acne due to its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. (Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol. 2007) However, tea-tree oil can irritate the skin, so keep in mind that a little goes a long way.

[Related: How to Use Face Oils for Naturally Clear, Glowing Skin]

4. Don’t skip the moisturizer

A common skin care myth is that people with acne-prone skin should not use moisturizers because they will further clog the pores and contribute to more breakouts. Quite the opposite is true! Moisturizing prevents your skin from feeling like it’s too dry, which would ultimately lead to even more oil production. As mentioned above, too much oil is part of the process of acne formation. Thus, using a moisturizer that is light, oil-free, and noncomedogenic will help to better manage your acne symptoms.

 

5. Be cautious of what touches your skin

Many people forget that little things, such as letting your hair rub against your face throughout the day, can trigger breakouts. Try to keep your hair clean and off your face. Also, avoid resting your hands or objects, such as your cell phone, on your face.

 

6. Always protect against the sun

While protecting skin from damaging UV rays is important for all skin types, it is especially important for those with acne-prone skin. The sun’s ultraviolet rays can increase inflammation and worsen breakouts. UV rays can also cause post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (dark discoloration).

Many patients convey they are worried that sunscreen will cause them to break out. While this may be true for certain sunscreens, you can still have superior protection against the sun by knowing which ingredients to look for. Look for a sunscreen that is in a lotion form. It should be light, oil-free, noncomedogenic, and provide broad spectrum protection.

 

Ok friends, those are my best 6 tips to get rid of acne that you haven't heard before!

If you know anyone who would benefit from these tips, please share this post with them! :)

The Role of Peptides in Skincare

Hi friends!

If you are any kind of skincare junkie like I am, you've definitely heard of peptides being used in various anti-aging products, claiming to solve pretty much every skin flaw imaginable. 

But what exactly are peptides? And how do they work?

The role of peptides in skincare

In pharmacy school, I only learned about peptides as they relate to the mechanism of action of various medications. So understanding the role of peptides in skincare is something fairly new to me also!

But ever since I learned that peptides are the reason why my favorite eye cream can make my crows feet disappear and why my lips look so plump after applying my nightly lip serum, I just had to learn more. So after doing my research I've written this post to teach you all about the role of peptides in skincare!

 

What are peptides?

In simple terms, peptides are fragments of proteins.

Peptides are formed when amino acids bond together. For example, when two amino acids are joined together by a single bond it is called a dipeptide. Three linked amino acids are a tripeptide, followed by tetrapeptides, etc.

Many people ask what the difference is between peptides and protein. While they are both made of the same building blocks (amino acids), it all comes down to size. Peptides typically contain approximately 50 or fewer amino acids. Proteins consist of 50 or more amino acids and can be made of polypeptides (a long peptide chain).

The role of peptides in skincare

The role of peptides in skincare

The reason why peptides are used in anti-aging skincare products is due to their ability to increase collagen production. Collagen is the protein that gives your skin a firm, smooth, youthful appearance. Natural and environmental factors, like sun exposure and free radicals, cause collagen to degrade over time. The result? Lines, wrinkles, and sagging skin. Therefore, since peptides can increase collagen production they are able to minimize these signs of aging. While many clinical studies have proven this to be true, the mechanism(s) by which peptides accomplish this is still unclear. [Related Post: What is Collagen?]

Controversy exists over whether peptides actually work in skincare products because their size breaks the 500 Dalton Rule. According to this rule, a substance can only be absorbed into the skin if its molecular weight (MW) is under 500 Daltons. So if peptides are larger than 500 Daltons, how can peptides even work if they aren't absorbed by the skin?

One theory is that peptides work through signaling. Cells have the ability to communicate with each other to coordinate certain actions, which is known as "cell-signaling". Peptides can mimic certain cell-signaling processes. Specifically, peptides that are used in skincare products mimic the same peptides that you’d find when collagen is broken down. According to research from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), when collagen is degraded it produces peptides that signal skin cells to generate more collagen. Synthetic peptides have been developed that can mimic these naturally occurring peptides, thus causing your skin to “think” collagen is deteriorating. The result? New collagen production! Mimicking natural cell-signaling is one way that peptides can overcome the 500 Dalton rule; even though they don’t penetrate the skin barrier, they still work effectively. 

 

Peptides to look for in skincare products


Palmitoyl oligopeptide.

Palmitoyl oligopeptide can significantly stimulate collagen production in human fibroblasts, as shown in a 2007 study published in Dermatologic Therapy. Firmer skin can be seen when palmitoyl oligopeptide is used twice daily for a significant period of time (about six months).

Tripeptide-1

Tripeptide-1 is a type of synthetic peptide. As the name indicates, tripeptide-1 is a three amino acid peptide with the amino sequence of glycine-histidine-lysine, or GHK. Tripeptide-1 is categorized as a messenger peptide because it works by sending messages or signals to cells.

Palmitoyl pentapeptide-3.

Palmitoyl pentapeptide-3 has been extensively studied for its ability to stimulate new production of types I and II collagen as well as fibronectin, all of which are important for the firmness and elasticity of the skin. 

Palmitoyl tetrapeptide-7.

According to a 2017 publication in Cosmetics, this palmitoyl tetrapeptide-7 serves as an anti-inflammatory after exposure to the sun's harmful UVB rays. 

My favorite peptide skincare products

Paula's Choice BOOST Peptide Booster (Amazon, ~$49)

I love Paula Begoun because all of her products are created based on ingredients that are scientifically proven to be safe and effective. The Peptide Booster serum delivers a concentrated dose of eight highly-targeted peptides, hydrating amino acids & repairing ingredients to help skin feel firmer & more resilient, while also reducing the appearance of fine lines.


CeraVe Skin Renewing Night Cream (Amazon, ~$12)

I’m pretty impressed with this CeraVe product! In addition to Caprooyl Tetrapeptide-3 and Tripeptide-1, this night cream contains several other very beneficial ingredients, including hyaluronic acid, glycerin, niacinamide, & ceramides.

The best part is that its cheap & can be found in pretty much any drug store (or Amazon!)

 

What are your favorite peptide products? Leave me a comment below!

 

Dr. Lin Skincare Daily Hydrating Gel

On a recent trip to Ohio to visit my family, I was looking forward to nothing more than taking a few days off to relax and enjoy their company, the nice weather, and my sisters pool! 

Dr. Lin Skincare Daily Hydrating Gel

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links.

I could not put down the novel I was reading [Camino Island by John Grisham, highly recommend it!], I fell asleep on a swan float, and I allowed myself to soak up a little sun [with sunscreen on, of course].

The relaxing day was most certainly needed to restore my clarity and focus. My skin, on the other hand, could have done without the sun exposure + hours of swimming in chlorine. But, hey, it's all about balance, right?

I had diligently put on my R+F broad spectrum SPF 30 sunscreen prior to my day in the sun, so luckily I did not burn. However, my skin was still extremely dry by the end of the day, basically screaming for some type of moisture. To my delight, this was the same day I received a package containing my latest product to test: the Dr. Lin Skincare Daily Hydrating Gel

I purchased the Dr. Lin Skincare Daily Hydrating Gel after finding Dr. Lin's Instagram account. My favorite products are those created by healthcare professionals because I believe they develop products with the goal of helping people to solve their skin issues (unlike some cosmetic companies who are just in it for the $$$).

Dr. Lin is a board-certified dermatologist practicing in California who has devoted his 16 years of practice to providing his patients with continuously clear skin. After reading this, I knew I had to try one of his products. Plus, the Daily Hydrating Gel is only $13.99!! You seriously cannot beat that. 

The Dr. Lin Skincare Daily Hydrating Gel promises "to soothe and rehydrate dry, irritated skin". Exactly what I needed! Keep reading to learn how the ingredients in the Dr. Lin Skincare Daily Hydrating Gel work to restore skin moisture + my results after using this product!

Dr. Lin Skincare Daily Hydrating Gel

Dr. Lin Skincare Daily Hydrating Gel: Key Ingredients

In this review, I’m going to explain the following key ingredients found in the Dr. Lin Skincare Daily Hydrating Gel:

  • Hyaluronic acid

  • Bearberry leaf extract

  • Glycerin

  • Allantoin

Hyaluronic acid

Hyaluronic acid is the new buzz word in the skincare industry. You’ll hear hyaluronic acid being referred to as a “hydration miracle” and called “the fountain of youth”. The Dr. Lin Skincare Daily Hydrating Gel features sodium hyaluronate, the water-soluble sodium salt form of hyaluronic acid.

Both hyaluronic acid and sodium hyaluronate can naturally be found throughout the human body. They are part of a class of molecules called glycosaminoglycans. In simple terms, this means they are a type of sugar molecule that can attract water. Since your skin’s dermis layer consists of about 70% water it claims nearly 50% of your body’s total hyaluronic acid. The role of hyaluronic acid in the skin is to support and hydrate the skin, resulting in a healthy, firm complexion.


Unfortunately, the amount of hyaluronic acid in the body decreases with age. In fact, adults have only 1/20th the amount of hyaluronic acid of a baby. As hyaluronic acid levels decline, your skin becomes more prone to dryness, roughness, flaking, wrinkles, lines, etc. Therefore, using a moisturizer with hyaluronic acid, such as the Dr. Lin Skincare Daily Hydrating Gel, can help to keep skin hydrated and looking youthful!

 

Bearberry leaf extract

Another exciting ingredient in the Dr. Lin Skincare Daily Hydrating Gel is bearberry leaf extract. Specifically, this product contains arctostaphylos uva-ursi, otherwise known as the common bearberry.

The foliage of the bearberry plant is most commonly used in cosmetic and skincare products because studies have found that it is an effective free radical scavenger. Free radicals are highly reactive substances that can damage important cellular components, such as DNA, proteins, carbohydrates, cell membranes, etc., which can lead to signs of aging.

[Related: Free Radicals and Antioxidants: Breaking it Down]


In fact, a 2004 study published in the journal Food Chemistry found that bearberry leaf extract had even more powerful antioxidant properties than licorice extract (Glycyrrhiza lepidota), echinacea extract (Echinacea angustifolia), and horsetail extract (Equisetum spp.). Thus, the bearberry extract in the Dr. Lin Skincare Daily Hydrating Gel can help to prevent future skin damage from free radicals as well as calm and heal skin damaged by free radicals. 

 

Glycerin

Propane-1,2,3-triol, aka glycerin (also called glycerol), is a colorless, odorless, viscous liquid. It is non-toxic and is used in many cosmetic products and pharmaceutical formulations as a humectant.

A humectant is a substance that is able to attract moisture from the air and retain it on or under a surface. Therefore, the Dr. Lin Skincare Daily Hydrating Gel is able to draw moisture in from the air around us and keep our skin moisturized all day long.

 

Allantoin

Allantoin is a botanical extract from the Comfrey plant and can also be chemically synthesized. When allantoin is an active ingredient in skincare products, such as the Dr. Lin Skincare Daily Hydrating Gel, it exerts a keratolytic effect, meaning it helps to loosen and shed any dead skin cells. Allantoin is an excellent ingredient for a moisturizer because it increases the water content of the extracellular matrix, leaving skin hydrated and smooth. According to a publication in the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, allantoin can help to soothe irritated skin due to its anti-inflammatory properties.

 

Final thoughts 

Applying the Dr. Lin Skincare Daily Hydrating Gel leaves a cool, fresh sensation to my skin. I love using this gel as a moisturizer because it does not leave the skin greasy at all, which is a problem I often come across with moisturizers. Also, some moisturizers can sting and irritate my skin, but this is not the case with the Dr. Lin Skincare Daily Hydrating Gel. Instead, my skin is left feeling smooth, refreshed, and hydrated!

Overall, I'd recommend this product if your skin is lacking hydration and you want a moisturizer that will not make you skin feel greasy. I think this product is especially perfect for those with oily or acne-prone skin, but I'd recommend it for any skin type!

Buy it > here for only $13.99!

Ingredients in Dr. Lin Skincare Daily Hydrating Gel: Water, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Arctostaphylos Uva Ursi (Bear Berry) Leaf Extract, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract, Anthemis (Chamomile) Nobilis Flower Extract, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Peel Extract, Sodium Hyaluronate, Glycerin, Pentylene Glycol, Allantoin, Arbutin, Panthenol, Caprylyl Glycol, Ethylhexyl Glycerin, Hexylene Glycol, Phenoxyethanol Polysorbate 20, Sodium Hydroxide, Carbomer, Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/VP Copolymer.