Beauty Pageants and Body Positivity

The efficacy of beauty pageants is often debated. Some people argue that pageants contribute to self-esteem and self-worth, while others say the process is degrading and can lead to prolonged and permanent psychological issues. 

According to pageant operators, the purpose of these events is to promote body positivity and to encourage self-care, but are pageants doing anything to ensure girls and women of all shapes, sizes, colors, and creeds are viewed through an objective lens?

Efforts Toward Change

In recent years, the world has witnessed transgender participants both disqualified and welcomed to compete in pageants. Additionally, many pageants are now presenting more diversified talent, and efforts have been made to include pageantry options for plus-sized individuals. Finally, the Miss America pageant eliminated its swimsuit competition in 2018. While many positive changes have occurred and continue to occur, are they enough to distract from the pedestal of commercialism that seems to dictate the terms of beauty?

A Steep Hill To Climb

It is impossible to ignore the underlying problem of conventional beauty pageants: women are rated on their appearance, which dictates their success. It is a cynical message, to say the least. The idea that a select few women represent the cultural ideal of beauty and that all women must alter their appearance to conform to such standards if they wish to be deemed beautiful is ludicrous and insulting.

A platform where women compete based on appearance is degrading, and it has a long history of promoting body-shaming, low-self-worth, and eating disorders. While pageants stand by their mission to promote body positivity, the reality is counter to the desire.

Winners of beauty pageants might feel the sense of self-worth and accomplishment that comes from taking home a prize and trophy but is that self-worth built on the individual presence or outsider appreciation. 

Finding Worth From the Inside Out

Beauty pageants are trying to create more inclusive environments, and some of the messaging is starting to include a more body-positive focus. However, the presence and popularity of pageants are still problematic from a self-esteem standpoint. As a woman, the constant and daily battle is proving you are more than your body.

The sexualization and objectification of the female form is nothing new; it is engrained in society. Pageants epitomize the belief that physical form means more than psychological value. While telling women to look inward to find their beauty and power is simple, it is not a straightforward process. 

Women are bombarded every day with magazines, social commentary, and any number of mediums and personal relationships telling them how to look and act. The idea of physical beauty becomes an obsession, and unfortunately, pageants continue to promote it.

There is no way a beauty pageant can ever promote the idea that inner beauty — confidence, intelligence, compassion, etc. — is more valuable than external beauty because it is a competition based on physical attributes above all else.

Realizing All Women Are Beautiful

All women, all people really, are beautiful; it is a message everyone should get behind. Your physical appearance does not and should not represent your worth to yourself or society. Your goal in life should be to be as healthy and happy as possible so that you can live as long as possible.

Beauty pageants are trying to change. Still, as long as they promote physical worth as equivalent to self-worth, they continue to fail. 

How do you feel about recent beauty pageant changes, and do you think it's enough? Leave a comment.

Personal Sleep: Understanding the Best and Worst Ways To Sleep for You

For most people, finding a sleep position is about finding the most comfortable position possible. Sometimes, you end up sprawled out across the mattress on your stomach, and other times, on your side with your knees tucked into your chest. However, despite the various options, you likely favor one position over others, and that position will typically fall into one of three categories: back, side, or stomach sleeper. Which position is right or wrong depends on the individual.

The Back or Supine Position

Sleeping on one’s back is often touted as the superior sleep position because it reduces stress on the body, improving muscle or joint pain symptoms. Additionally, adjustments to this position, like raised feet, can reduce swelling and risks associated with congestive heart failure. However, the supine position is not for everyone.

People who struggle to breathe at night or are diagnosed with sleep apnea will find this position challenging and even life-threatening. The position allows the tongue and lower jaw to shift backward, potentially obstructing the airway. Sleeping on the back can also lead to louder snoring.

The Side or Lateral Position

Sleeping on one’s side, either the left or the right, can circumvent the potential problems of the supine position. Many side sleepers find it easier to breathe in the lateral position and report less snoring and reduced sleep apnea symptoms. Additionally, for individuals with joint or knee pain, especially when it affects one side more than the other, sleeping on the opposite side with a pillow between the knees can relieve pain and improve sleep.

The primary cons of sleeping in the lateral position are increased pressure, shifting organs, and the potential of increased shoulder, hip, and lower back pain. When you sleep on your side, gravity automatically pulls on your internal organs, putting pressure on the heart from the lungs. The effects of pressure on the heart include heart strain and increased kidney output.

The Stomach or Prone Position

Not many people sleep on their stomachs. The prone position often requires the head to be turned to either side, with the arms in any number of positions and the legs straight out. The advantages of prone sleep include the avoidance of many of the supine problems and the organ shifts of the lateral position. Additionally, a prone position can provide greater comfort, especially when the sleeping surface is not ideal.

However, the prone position is not the best position to sleep because of the risks of neck, shoulder, and back injuries. The need to twist the neck to one side or the other puts pressure on the neck, shoulders, and upper back. It can also make it hard to breathe. Sleeping on one’s stomach means the body’s weight is restricting the motion of the ribs and pressing down on the lungs, making it hard to breathe.

Which sleep position is best? Unfortunately, there is no straight answer because everyone is unique. You might not have a problem breathing at night, meaning that a supine position is superior, or you might struggle with knee pain, making a lateral position more favorable. Essentially, the position that is best for you is the one that allows the most comfortable and uninterrupted night’s sleep. You can visit a sleep specialist if you want a more specific answer.

What is your favorite sleep position? Leave a comment below.

Is Deodorant Dangerous? 5 Ingredients To Watch For

Whether you prefer spray-on antiperspirant, roll-ons or classic stick deodorant, these beauty products come with a long list of chemical ingredients. Some of the names are so long and confusing that you can’t even pronounce them, like aluminum zirconium tetrachlorohydrex. Should you be worried about these chemicals? Is deodorant dangerous?

How Dangerous Is Deodorant?

The answer backed by many scientists is that you have nothing to worry about. According to the available data, most women can whatever deodorant or antiperspirant they like without worrying about developing serious health issues such as breast cancer.

According to the American Cancer Society, there aren’t any solid studies linking cancer and antiperspirants, and “very little scientific evidence to support this claim.” The National Cancer Institute takes things a step further, saying that “no scientific evidence links the use of these products to the development of breast cancer.”

Why Do Some People Worry Anyway?

Just because scientists can’t definitively prove a link right now doesn’t mean there isn’t one. Also, there aren’t many studies on deodorant because it’s not a priority.

Even the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) can make mistakes. A study found that out of over 200 products approved as safe by the FDA, about 30% needed to have safety warnings added later. Three of those products that were “safe” ended up being pulled from the market.

Something similar happened with Teflon, which used a chemical called PFOA to make nonstick cookware (remember those pans?). For almost 60 years, this chemical was considered to be perfectly safe. Now, scientists understand it’s linked to everything from cancer to diabetes.

Another problem is that the US approaches chemicals as “innocent until proven guilty.” It takes a lot of evidence to get a chemical banned in the United States. More than 40 countries worldwide have banned 1,400 chemicals used in cosmetic products. What about the U.S.? Just 9 chemicals are prohibited here.

What Deodorant Chemicals Do Some People Avoid?

Now, I’m not telling you about this to scare you. After all, it's impossible to completely avoid chemicals in today's world. I just think it's important for you to be able to make an informed decision that you’re comfortable with. Here are a few ingredients some people prefer to live without:

  • Parabens: These preservatives are used in many skincare products, including some deodorants and moisturizers. Some scientists worry they may mimic female hormones and contribute to cancer problems.

  • Phthalates: These chemicals help fragrances stay on your skin. They may interfere with hormones and potentially cause problems with fetal development.

  • Denatured alcohol: Cheap alcohol ingredients such as denatured alcohol, isopropanol and propanol are very irritating for skin.

  • Aluminum: Some scientists think that aluminum (found in most antiperspirants) may make it easier for breast cancer to grow. If you have severe kidney problems, you should talk with your doctor before using antiperspirant because your body may have trouble getting rid of the aluminum.

  • Fragrance: Manufacturers can include practically any ingredient and label it as “fragrance.” That makes it hard to know what chemicals you’re putting on your skin. For some people, synthetic fragrances cause skin irritation or allergic reactions.

The good news is that If you prefer to avoid certain ingredients, there are plenty of options on the market. You can choose a fragrance-free alternative or look for “paraben-free” and “phthalate-free” on the label. Put simply, the fewer strange chemicals on a product’s label, the fewer things you have to worry about.

 

5 Surprising Ways You Can Use Ginger in Your Health and Beauty Routines

I just recently learned that ginger is one of the best-kept secrets for your skin and immune system. It’s very effective at minimizing inflammation (which we all know is one of the most common causes of skin blemishes, joint pain, and premature aging). And the best part is that it won’t cost you a fortune as some top-of-the-line beauty products will.

It’s one thing to know that ginger is a great health and beauty ingredient, but it’s another thing to know how to use it. So I’ve put together this guide of five surprising ways you can start incorporating ginger into your health and beauty routines, starting today.

1. Anti-Inflammatory Skin Cream

To get the skin-healing benefits ginger has to offer, try creating your own anti-inflammatory skin cream. To make it, peel two, 2-inch pieces of fresh ginger, then place them in a pot with 2 teaspoons of apricot kernel oil and 2 teaspoons of light sesame oil. Add ½ cup of cocoa butter and 2 teaspoons of vitamin E. Warm on low heat just until the cocoa butter softens and all the ingredients blend together.

Pour the mixture into a lid-sealed container, then put it in a cool, dry place where you can use it often! I recommend applying it after you wash your face. The ingredients are very moisturizing and soothing.

2. Ginger Massage Oil

We all know how quickly excessive stress can cause us to look and feel much older than we really are. But a good massage has a way of melting all our troubles away as it restores our vitality and sense of well-being. To enjoy the relaxing benefits of massage as well as the anti-inflammatory benefits of ginger, recruit someone you love to massage your back, neck, or feet with diluted ginger oil. Your skin and mood will feel so much better!

3. Mint and Ginger Mouthwash

As we age, our bodies become more susceptible to gum disease and other oral issues. While regular mouthwash can help rid our oral cavities of unwanted bacteria, it can also leave our mouths feeling dry. That’s why I prefer making my own mint and ginger mouthwash. Both mint and ginger are known for their antibacterial properties, which make them a great duo for oral health.

Here’s how to make my surprisingly refreshing and effective mint and ginger mouthwash recipe. Start by pouring about 1 ½ cups of filtered water into a pot, then adding approximately 10 fresh peppermint leaves and one sliced 3-inch ginger root to the water. Bring the mixture to a light boil, then turn the heat down and simmer for about 20 minutes.

Add about 35 drops of peppermint essential oil to the mixture, then cover the pot and simmer for about 10 more minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature before transferring to a sealed jar. You can store this mixture at room temperature for about a month, or put it in the refrigerator to extend its shelf life.  

4. Natural Pain-Reliever

Would it surprise you to hear that ginger is a natural pain-reliever? Some research shows that it’s very effective at relieving migraines. So the next time you feel a headache coming on, sip ginger tea or try munching on some candied ginger.

5. Ginger Detox Bath

Ginger is known to help the body fight off bacterial infections. So if you feel like your immune system is fighting something off, grate about ½ cup of fresh ginger and sprinkle it in your hot bathwater. Soak for at least 15 minutes to get the full effects of this detox remedy.

So, what do you think about these unusual uses for ginger? I’d love for you to give them a try and see if they work for you!

My Thoughts on “Natural” Deodorant

I think most of us agree that natural is generally best when it comes to beauty products. Utilizing the best ingredients Mother Nature has to offer can help us improve our health and appearance. But I am of the opinion that natural isn’t always better and may not always be effective.

So if you’re wondering where I stand on natural deodorants, well … it’s complicated. Let me explain why.

The “Natural” Movement

There is a large demographic of people who are migrating toward natural products. I generally think this is a great thing. Most natural deodorants are free from dyes, sulfates, parabens and phthalates. They also use responsibly sourced botanical ingredients. I say “most,” because the definition of “natural deodorant” seems to be fluid, depending on which company you talk to.

Honest, well-meaning companies work long and hard to come up with safe, natural formulas that do what they’re marketed to do. But of course, there are some bad apples that label their products as “natural” even when they contain many of the same chemicals you’ll find in traditional commercial beauty products. So it’s important to do your research and pay close attention to labels when you buy “natural” deodorants.

The Debate About Natural Deodorant Effectiveness

When it comes to body odor, it’s often a two-headed beast. On one hand, you have bacteria that love the atmosphere your underarms provide. But those bacteria don’t often start to smell until you introduce them to perspiration. Our underarms are notorious for emitting perspiration when we exert ourselves or when our bodies get too hot.

When perspiration and underarm bacteria meet, the result is a not-so-pleasant smell that can be mild or overwhelming, depending on who you are. The problem with many natural deodorants is that they are not considered antiperspirants. Instead, they are formulated with anti-bacterial agents and fragrances to help block body odors. This means they don’t stop perspiration, which is viewed by many as the underlying cause of body odor.

How Antiperspirants Work

Most commercial antiperspirants physically block the secretion of sweat by plugging the sweat glands with an aluminum salt. This means most of your underarm sweat won’t ever reach your skin. Many people see this as a positive thing because it cuts back on body odor, but others think the body’s natural method for sweating out toxins shouldn’t be prevented. I tend to agree with the latter group. Additionally, research shows that continued use of antiperspirants changes the balance of bacteria in the armpits and may reduce the “good guys.” But the jury is still out regarding whether or not deodorants with antiperspirants are safe or dangerous for long-term use.

The Case for Natural Deodorant

If you don’t like the idea of messing with your body’s natural sweat processes, or if you have experienced any kind of reaction to commercial deodorant products, you may want to give natural deodorant a try.

You should understand that when you first stop using regular deodorant/antiperspirant products, your sweat production and odor will likely increase for a couple of weeks. Don’t mistakenly attribute this reaction to your natural deodorant. It happens because you’re no longer blocking your sweat glands, so all that built-up sweat and bacteria will release within the first two weeks.  

If you can be patient and make it through the initial sweaty and stinky stage, you may discover that your body naturally starts to produce less sweat. You may also notice your body odor decrease or become milder as a result of the antimicrobial ingredients in your natural deodorant and the changes to your underarm bacteria.  

Having said all this, you may find that some natural deodorant works much better for you than others. Natural deodorant that works for my best friend doesn’t work well for me, and vice versa. Take some time to test out different brands until you discover the type that provides the best results.

3 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Brush Your Teeth Right After Breakfast

Hopefully, brushing your teeth is a staple of your morning and bedtime routines. (If it's not; it's past time to start!) Brushing at least twice a day like this is crucial for both your oral health and your overall health. While getting into a brushing routine that includes brushing first thing in the morning and last thing before lights out is great, it’s time to stop brushing your teeth right after breakfast. Here are three reasons why:

1. Your Morning Breath Is Trying To Tell You Something

Morning breath — or “dragon breath,” as my grandkids like to call it — isn’t just the side effect of a dry mouth. It’s due to the massive amount of bacteria that has quietly multiplied in your mouth overnight. In other words, your mouth is kind of gross when you first wake up and a literal breeding ground for tooth decay.

As such, most dental health experts recommend brushing your teeth before breakfast, first thing when you wake up. You might think of it like hitting the “reset” button on your mouth.

2. Your Mouth Needs Saliva, STAT

Right about now, you’re probably thinking, “Why in the world is more spit a good thing?” Three reasons:

  1. It eliminates harmful bacteria roaming around your mouth. After multiplying all night long, they’re running wild by sunrise.

  2. It helps breaks down what you eat. This takes stress off your teeth and jaws.

  3. Saliva plays a pivotal role in protecting your teeth by re-mineralizing your enamel.

Who knew spit was so essential to your health?

3. Many Breakfast Foods Are Acidic

If you must brush your teeth after breakfast, the American Dental Association strongly suggests that you wait an hour before doing the deed. The reason for this can be found on your breakfast table: Several breakfast staples, including coffee, sugary cereal, toast, citrus fruits and many juices are acidic. Brush your teeth too soon after the most important meal of the day, and you’re just spreading that acid around your mouth, helping it weaken your teeth and stripping off your tooth enamel with your very own toothbrush.

Unsurprisingly, this is terrible for your smile. It not only erodes your tooth enamel and damages your gums, but it also stops your saliva from beefing up your teeth’s natural defenses. Your teeth enamel is the hardest substance in your body, but even it can’t stand up to the potent combination of acid and bristles. Over time, enamel loss can lead to a host of undesirable side effects:

  • Yellow teeth

  • Higher risk of cavities

  • Increased tooth sensitivity when consuming hot, cold or super-sweet foods and drinks

  • Abscesses

  • Tooth loss

Tooth erosion isn’t reversible, either. Once that enamel is gone, it’s gone for good. Depending on how far things progress, you may need fillings, crowns, veneers and even a root canal or two to maintain your smile. While you wait to brush, drink plenty of water or pop a piece of sugar-free gum into your mouth to start safely precleaning your chompers.

Why Not Just Skip Breakfast?

This isn’t a healthy alternative to smart brushing. Your body needs those morning nutrients to propel you through your day. Instead of skipping breakfast all together, enjoy acidic foods in moderation and chow down on plenty of calcium-rich, non-acidic fare such as yogurt and chia seeds.

While we’re at it, it’s not smart to skip brushing your teeth, either. While brushing after breakfast is far from ideal, it’s better than leaving your toothbrush in the medicine cabinet until bedtime.

If you’ve been brushing your teeth right after breakfast for years — decades even — it can be hard to revamp your morning routine, but it’s worth it. Daily brushing right after your morning coffee or OJ can do more harm them good. Keep your winning smile — and your original teeth — by waiting an hour after eating breakfast to fire up your electric toothbrush.

Why I Won’t Be Fascia Blasting

Fascia blasting is one of the most popular health and beauty trends of the past five years. It’s also one of the most mysterious, one that picked up steam after making a cameo on “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” and one that I don’t intend to try anytime soon.

What Is Fascia?

Fascia is a thin layer of fiber-rich tissue woven throughout your entire body. It's what puts the “fasciitis” in “plantar fasciitis.” In that instance, the fascia found beneath the arch of your foot is inflamed, which causes pain. Fascia exists all throughout your body, though, including around both muscle and soft tissue areas. Some of these soft-tissue areas are fat, and that’s where fascia blasting comes in.

What in the World Is Fascia Blasting?

The basic idea is this: When your fascia gets too tight, it can cause discomfort (see sore arches above), and it can also encourage the growth of cellulite. Loosen up that fascia, the theory goes, and you’ll curb pain and reduce the appearance of cellulite.

The name for that process is fascia blasting, and it's performed in a variety of ways. The most common method involves warming up the area and then rolling or rubbing a fascia-blasting device across it for several minutes. These tools can take assorted shapes as well, but the most popular design looks like a baton with rubber claws on it. These claws do the actual “blasting.”

Does Fascia Blasting Work?

If an end to dimpled thighs sounds too good to be true, it’s because it probably is. Scientists have only scratched the surface when it comes to understanding what fascia is and what it does. They know that it’s primarily collagen and that it both gives your body its shape and helps its various parts move. Some evidence suggests that it may play a role in cellulite as well.

When it comes to actual fascia-blasting results, however, science is split. Some physical therapists and other health professionals feel that fascia treatments do improve the flexibility of your fascia, which, in theory, could decrease cellulite. Others disagree.

Interestingly, one of the biggest issues with any form of fascia treatment is the fact that fascia is virtually impossible to handle in isolation. In other words, since it’s wound all throughout your body like a giant net, it’s difficult to study or to say with any certainty what its exact role is in a given health condition.

Should You Try Fascia Blasting?

Probably not, and I’ll give you three reasons why. First, much more research needs to be completed. The evidence that suggests fascia blasting works for both cellulite and pain is promising, but it’s just a start.

Second, many physicians strongly recommend that any manipulation of the fascia be done by a trained professional. Experts know better which areas to target and how to handle them (literally in some cases).

Third, there are safer and gentler ways to relieve pain and potentially bust up cellulite-boosting tissue. Commercial fascia blasting tools are often extremely rigid. Add a well-intentioned but total lack of expertise into the equation, and you have a recipe for lasting damage. In fact, one of the most popular fascia-blasting devices has been subjected not only to FDA complaints but also to multiple class-action lawsuits by parties claiming blaster use led to inflammation, violent bruising and altered menstrual cycles.

I’d be lying if I said that I wouldn’t like to have the same figure that I had when I was 22. The thing is, I’m not willing to literally beat myself up to get it! If you’re considering fascia blasting to remove cellulite, do your homework first. Better still, learn to love yourself. Those aren’t dimples, those are battle scars, and you’ve done some incredible things to earn them.

Seven Spa-Ready Recipes for a Professional Facial at Home

With a bit of prep and the right ingredients, you can achieve an at-home facial that rivals the services at the swankiest spa in your area. Get ready for a day of pampering without leaving your abode with this guide to our favorite tips, tricks and recipes. 

Remove Dirt With Raw Honey

If you're into natural beauty, you'll appreciate this no-fuss cleanser. Simply rub raw honey into your skin then remove it gently with a warm, damp washcloth. If you prefer not to put the sticky stuff right on your face, try shopping for skincare products that incorporate honey. This ingredient has antiseptic properties that sweep your skin free of bacteria. Fans of honey also report that it helps hold in moisture without making the skin oily. 

Banish Blemishes With Banana

This mask blends 1/2 tsp. each of turmeric and baking soda with a single mashed banana. The vitamin A in the flesh of the fruit helps keep pores clear and encourages skin cell turnover, which helps rid your complexion of acne. Baking soda soaks up excess oil for an ultra-matte finish while turmeric kills germs that contribute to blemishes. Turmeric also reportedly helps even skin tone and reduces the appearance of acne scars and sunspots. Let this mask set on your skin for 20 minutes and then rinse with cool water.

Tone Up With Vinegar

Effectively remove bacteria and residue from the skin after cleansing without the harshness of traditional alcohol-based toner. Try adding 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to 2 cups warm water for a custom facial rinse that's as gentle as it is powerful. 

Calm Skin With Lavender

You already know lavender has mood-boosting effects with a calming scent that can help you sleep better at night. This flowery herb can also soothe redness and inflammation that impact your complexion. Make a paste out of a ripe avocado, which delivers moisturizing, disease-fighting antioxidants. Add a few drops of your favorite lavender oil along with a teaspoon of coconut oil for even more hydration and a bit of honey to keep acne at bay.

Enhance Texture With Yogurt

Plain old yogurt from your fridge can encourage rapid cell turnover that keeps skin looking soft, supple and youthful. This basic dairy product is packed with lactic acid, which you might recognize as an active ingredient in high-end skincare lines. Mix it with equal parts turmeric and honey and let dry on your skin for 10 to 20 minutes.

Brighten and Glow With Papaya

This tropical fruit is your antidote for dull skin. For an even, glowing complexion, mash a quarter of the pulp with a bit of aloe vera gel and a tablespoon of cacao powder. The aloe is packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that heal and hydrate while sloughing off dead cells that can clog the pores and lead to breakouts. Cacao helps repair the skin's moisture barrier, which declines in quality as we age. 

Exfoliate With Sugar

This sweet scrub combines sugar and honey to remove bacteria, dead skin and other debris. Measure out 3 tablespoons of raw honey and mix in brown sugar until you get a paste-like consistency. Add a tablespoon or two of coconut, olive or almond oil, which adds hydration and helps create a spreadable texture. You can use this on your face or anywhere on your body as long as you don't have sensitive skin. Leave on for up to 10 minutes before rinsing with warm water. 

For the price of a bag of groceries, you'll have a complexion that looks its absolute best and an easy, affordable skincare routine to maintain.

When Was the Last Time You Pampered Your Scalp?

Your hair probably gets a lot of tender, loving care, and you may spend time every night moisturizing your hands or face. When was the last time you pampered your scalp? You won’t believe the difference it makes!

The Benefits of a Healthy Scalp

The scalp has approximately 100,000 hair follicles, each one responsible for a single luxurious strand. When your scalp is healthy, so is your hair.

You can see the results in the mirror. Taking great care of your scalp makes your hair stronger, longer, shinier and brighter. The way it looks and bounces practically shouts to the world “I feel amazing!”

Tips for Great Scalp Care

1. Know Your Scalp

Every woman’s scalp is unique, just like her skin. Pay attention to the specific needs of your scalp. Does it tend to feel oily or dry? Even hormonal changes can make your scalp more sensitive to ingredients at certain times of month.

If you notice dandruff after using certain shampoos or hair coloring products, try avoiding them. There’s nothing embarrassing about using products designed for sensitive skin. It’s just part of listening to your body.

2. Exfoliate At Least Once a Month

You may not think of exfoliation as something important for your scalp, but it’s one of the most vital steps. Even if you don’t have oily hair, you still need to cleanse your pores of dead skin cells and bacteria. I promise your scalp will love this revitalizing care. Here are my favorite options:

  • Scalp mask: These gentle options remove dead skin cells, grease and grime. If your scalp is on the oilier side, try a clay mask.

  • Olive oil and baking soda: This blend exfoliates and moisturizes at the same time, perfect for dandruff relief. Mix equal parts olive oil and baking soda, then massage into your scalp and let sit for five minutes before rinsing.

  • Apple cider vinegar: This natural ingredient is antimicrobial, so it can calm itchiness, irritation and inflammation. Mix 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar with 1 cup of water. Use your fingers to apply it directly to the scalp.

3. Shampoo Your Scalp, Too

Don’t ignore your scalp when you’re shampooing and conditioning your hair. Ideally, most of your time should be spent massaging your scalp, moving your fingers in a circular motion.

4. Moisturize

You know how important moisture is for your skin. It’s just as important for your scalp. That’s why using conditioner after shampooing is a great idea. You get the cleansing you need, but you also ensure your scalp stays hydrated.

Personally, I like to use a few drops of essential oils at bedtime. Rosemary, tea tree and lavender smell amazing and help keep your skin moist and healthy. Just massage them gently into the scalp. As an added benefit, I’ve noticed this routine helps me fall asleep more quickly.

5. Pamper Yourself

Pamper yourself. Enjoy a soothing massage. Take a bubble bath. Watch a romantic movie with someone special. Less stress translates into a healthier scalp, too.

Scalp health is also related to good nutrition. Your skip needs the right “ingredients” to repair, nourish and rejuvenate itself. If your hair and scalp don’t look as vibrant as you want them to be, add more omega-3 fatty acids to your diet with fresh fish or supplements. Probiotics also make a huge difference.

Why I Prefer Exercise Out of the House

It’s no secret that exercise is good for the body and mind, but when I see so many people choosing to exercise indoors on treadmills or stationary bicycles, I don’t understand it. While I may be a little old-fashioned, I think there’s nothing better than getting your heart pumping while enjoying the great outdoors. Here are some of the reasons why I prefer to exercise out of the house.

It Helps With Insomnia

Now, hear me out. When you exercise outdoors with natural sunlight surrounding you, it helps to regulate your body’s internal clock (also known as your circadian rhythm). If you’re always inside soaking up artificial light, your body can become confused and you may have trouble sleeping at night. Plus, breathing fresh air regularly may help improve the quality of your sleep at night!

It Helps Your Body Create Vitamin D

Vitamin D is one of the most important vitamins for your body’s immune system. It also helps the body absorb calcium from dietary sources. Unfortunately, many adults in the United States have low levels of vitamin D, which can lead to a deficient immune response and can affect bone health in a negative way. Since exposure to the sun is necessary for our bodies to create vitamin D from cholesterol, regular outdoor exercise sessions are important.

You don’t have to do typical “exercise” to benefit from the sun, either. Working in the garden, doing yardwork or playing with grandkids outside are all great ways to get outdoor exercise and boost your vitamin D levels without feeling like you’re “working out.”

It Provides a Natural Mood Boost

If you’re feeling grumpy or sad, spend some time outdoors on a lovely day and watch how quickly your mood improves. There’s no doubting that natural light and fresh outdoor air help provide the mind and body with positive energy. I’ve noticed that when I regularly exercise outside of my house, I’m less likely to feel down or depressed. Being outside is one of Mother Nature’s most under-utilized natural mood-boosters.

It’s Free!

The cost of a gym membership adds up over time. If you’re looking for ways to save money, ditch the membership and ride your bike or take a walk outside. It’s completely free of charge!

It Reduces Stress and Lowers Blood Pressure

Whether you take a simple stroll outside or you engage in a vigorous hike, you’re doing your body good in a lot of ways. Studies show that people who engage in physical activity outdoors lower their heart rate and blood pressure. If you’re not in peak physical activity, just take things slow to get started. As your cardiovascular health improves, you’ll be able to exercise longer and harder than before.

It’s Fun

I’ve tried working out on a treadmill with dozens of other people working out on either side of me. I got bored really quickly. Even when you have a television show in front of you, walking on a treadmill without going anywhere just seems like a waste of time. Walking outdoors, on the other hand, is always interesting and fun. Whether you take a stroll around your neighborhood or along a walking trail at a nearby park, you’ll find plenty of people to talk to or small creatures to watch. The entire experience is much more fulfilling than exercising indoors, in my humble opinion.  

These are just a few of the top reasons why I think exercising outside is one of the best things people can do for their health and sanity. If you’re not convinced, give it a try! I have a sneaking suspicion you’ll decide exercising outside is a better choice than working out in your home.