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coffee beans and tea leaves

Surprising Facts About Coffee, Tea, and Their Uses In Skincare

Novel skincare ingredients have a way of turning up in a variety of places. The real question is frequently if they have any truth behind their inclusion in a product. A surprise ingredient is interesting, but if it doesn’t help, why include it?

Many companies rely on this sort of novelty ingredient to capture the imagination of potential customers. Coffee and tea are two particularly popular additions to products these days. It actually isn’t that odd if you look at it closely.

Here’s the deal:

Tea and coffee both possess positive benefits for your skin when used properly. These benefits can help you work towards overall healthy skin. The catch is that the ingredients also have a flip side where they’re not as good for your skin.

That’s true of most skincare ingredients. Learning how to use ingredients the best way is ultimately what the skincare industry is about. We learn about how to best incorporate ingredients for maximum benefit.

Admittedly, it tends to be a fairly opaque process to most people. Those outside of the industry tend to be left wondering how we know something is good for skin or what exactly it does. This is particularly true for novel skincare ingredients.

skincare ingredients

Images like this are often used to advertise products, but tell us nothing about their true content.

That’s why we’re going to take a close look at some of the interesting facts surrounding tea and coffee in this post. It will let you know what they can do for you and some of the more novel aspects of the ingredients.

We’re going to focus on the following:

  • Interesting Facts
  • Benefits
  • Potential Drawbacks

This will help us all stay focused and ensure we know what we’re looking at at any given time. Let’s get started.
Interesting Facts
Both coffee and tea enjoy the reputations for being among the world’s favorite drinks. So many of us rely on coffee as a way to wake up in the morning that it is hard to overstate the appeal. Tea’s varied flavors make it equally popular.

We often don’t know much about them beyond that though. They’re simple drinks we buy or prepare regularly. That’s a shame given they’re actually fascinating if you take a moment.

For instance:

Coffee “beans” are actually seeds extracted from berries rather than independently grown beans. The name bean is applied to them because other beans are also seeds, but typically share a more recognizable look.

Tea’s different varieties are equally interesting. We here people recommending white, green, or black teas with some regularity, but what do those mean?

The names actually tell you when the leaves were plucked from the tea shrub. White teas are plucked when the shrub is blooming with new leaves and flowers while green tea is made from fully grown leaves. Black tea is made from aged and fermented green tea leaves.

Those are far from the only interesting things about them either. Let’s look at where they come from next.

tea plantation

This is what tea looks like long before it reaches your cup or skincare product.

Origins

While most of us have an idea of where coffee and tea are grown these days, we don’t always know where they came from before the modern era. All plants started somewhere and that affects a lot about the plants as well as the culture surrounding them.

Tea, for instance, is one that many of us already know started. China is its home as much as it is the cultural center of tea drinking in many ways. This is particularly important to remember thanks to England also enjoying a reputation for tea drinking.

Most experts place the tea shrub as developing in southeast China. There people eventually came to cultivate the plant and develop the various preparations we take for granted today.

Interestingly enough:

Black tea is comparatively popular in the West thanks to its comparative long-lasting nature. It stays both usable and fully flavored for far longer. As a result, this is what was traded to Europeans first.

Coffee is a bit harder for people to pin down though. We’re so used to talking about where the best coffee comes from that we’ve forgotten where it started. It wasn’t Columbia or Hawaii.

The coffee plant has been traced back to Africa. Culturally and biologically, coffee has its roots around Ethiopia and Sudan. That’s not where most of us end up thinking about when we think of coffee though.

It feels like a historical joke in some ways, but it is the truth. We can trace coffee back to the general area and Arabic countries for the earliest roots. The end result is the drink we enjoy today.

All of these facts have dealt with the past of coffee and tea rather than the now though. That’s worth looking at too.

The Benefits

Not only great as drinks, coffee and tea are also beneficial for skincare.

Countless little nutrients are available from them as well as potential perks from the compounds in each of the raw ingredients. It is simply a matter of extracting them properly. That’s where professionals come in.

Here’s the thing:

Almost every one of us has heard of one of the major benefits of both coffee and tea for your skin lies in their potential as an antioxidant. The idea is only surprising if one is relatively new to skincare.

This potential as an antioxidant is highly important to skin health. It helps to protect the skin from various signs of aging as well as helping counteract potential lingering low grade damage. There is more to talk about than that though:

  • Anti-inflammatory properties
  • Exfoliation
  • Oil Control
  • Anti-bacterial properties

All of these benefits are worth talking about and often end up being overlooked. That’s why we’re going to take a good look at where these benefits come from and what they can do for you.

Anti-inflammatory

Perhaps the best to look at in detail are the anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties of each compound. These are what help them boost the skin’s healing properties the best. In turn, this is what makes them particularly valuable.

Green tea extract is particularly known for these properties in skincare circles. That’s why you’ll find it on the ingredient list of a variety of products. Both of these properties are thanks to the tannins found in coffee and tea.

Tannins are a collection of compounds that naturally occur within a variety of plant life. These compounds are protective in nature, but that protective nature isn’t exclusive to the plants themselves.

We appear to be able to make use of these tannins both through imbibing or eating them and through application on the skin. Imbibing them is part of where the antioxidant-rich nature of coffee and tea comes from though.

aloe vera

Regardless, tannins have a noticeable anti-inflammatory property whether they’re in coffee, tea, or red wine. These properties allow them to help soothe the skin and reduce overall levels of irritation. This in turn allows the skin to repair itself better.

Want to know the best part?

This same property allows you to get control of inflammation induced redness in the skin as well. In effect, it helps you to smooth out complexion problems. That’s all before we get to the potential anti-bacterial properties as well.

Antibacterial

Antibacterial properties are an important part of skincare products. As much as we share our skin with friendly bacteria, we also have to deal with the constant attempts of less than friendly bacteria to colonize our skin.

Our friendly bacteria tend to do what they can to protect our skin, their home, to ensure they’re healthy too. The downside of all of this is that the interaction of each set of bacteria sometimes causes us problems. Acne, for instance, is typically born of this conflict.

Antibacterial products tends to be a fairly broad spectrum approach that kill most of the bacteria in the area. That allows your skin’s natural healing processes to clean up the area as well as ensure your products work that much better.

Tea and coffee-based products offer this benefit. It makes them particularly well-suited for acne control and healing products. Admittedly, these benefits aren’t necessarily as pronounced as formulated products for the same reason.

Both of the previous benefits ride along with another, though.

Oil Control

Tannins are interesting in that their potential to help is clearly there, but it is paired with a potential for harm as well. They tend to dehydrate the skin if you’re not careful. That’s what a lot of warnings around them lean on.

The truth is this can help work in the favor of some skin types. Topical application can help to reduce the overall amount of oil on the skin. While they can’t reduce the amount your skin secretes, preventing it from building up and clogging your pores is possible.

It gets better:

This benefit is relatively easy to use and typically fairly prevalent in most products utilize tea extracts or coffee extracts. That allows them to help minimize the chance for a dull complexion as well as supporting healthier skin.

It isn’t perfect though. Generally this means needing to make sure you stay on top of properly moisturizing your skin to ensure it doesn’t get too dry. Abusing any of these products could dehydrate your skin if you’re not careful.

oily vs dry skin

Your sebaceous glands do what they can to protect your skin, but sometimes go overboard.

That will in turn cause a surplus of oil that can cause many potential skin problems. So make sure to maintain good moisturizing practices when using products including coffee or tea. The good news is the right preparations can extract yet another benefit.

Exfoliation

Not every ingredient is suitable for exfoliating. Sometimes the chemical properties aren’t quite right or the ingredient isn’t the right level of gritty to do the job properly. In this case, you generally aren’t going to find tea being used as anything other than an anti-inflammatory.

Guess what:

Things are entirely different when it comes to coffee. Those fond of the drink are already aware that there are varying ways to grind the beans to get them to the right consistency. Some of those consistencies are perfect for use in body scrubs.

These products allow the ground coffee to shine by providing more or less comfortable exfoliation. You can also temporarily smooth out rougher areas of the skin too. Think of it as a quick, if temporary fix, for cellulite and similar issues.

Don’t ever use coffee-based exfoliating products on your face though. The grounds are almost never smooth enough to avoid harming the skin. Stick with your body and your should be fine.

Potential Drawbacks

We’ve touched on some of these as we’ve gone, but it is worthwhile to give these their own space. Coffee and tea-based ingredients are incredibly good when targeted well, but like all ingredients they have their downsides.

The predominant downside is the potential for drying out your skin that we touched on above. While this can be good for oil control in some cases, it can also damage and sensitize your skin if you’re not careful.

Similarly, we need to stress that most of these benefits are from when the products are used in proper products. Applying tea or coffee soaked things to your face isn’t going to do your much good. It could hurt your skin if you’re not careful.

You’ll also wanted to be mindful that these benefits are largely from topical use. The antioxidant benefit is one of the few things you can get from drinking coffee and tea. However, this comes with a few caveats.

Many of us like to add sugar or other flavoring agents to our coffee and tea. This can be a problem if you drink too much of either with this ingredients. Ingredients such as creamers, sugars, and dairy products can all aggravate the skin if you take in too much.

Keep this in mind:

Coffee and tea are a healthy addition to most diets. All we need to do is remember that they are best enjoyed in moderation. This is similar to knowing when and how often to use products using coffee and tea as ingredients.

Loving Your Skin and the World

Your skin does a lot for your body. That’s probably why you pamper it so much. Remembering this and being more selective about the ingredients in your skincare products is a way to show you care.

Coffee and tea aren’t the weirdest skincare ingredients out there, but they remain relatively novel. We recognize their names on a product label compared to more complex ingredients with more obscure names.

parcel on map

Skincare ingredients come from around the world to support all sorts of skin types.

Just like our skin, someone cared a lot about those ingredients and spent time figuring them out. They have a long history too. Their histories and what they can do for us are all interesting facts.

Some facts are just more usable than others. Hopefully you’ve learned a few things from this article and you’ll have a greater appreciation for your next cup of coffee or tea. After all, now your know a bit about them and their potential.

It makes it all the more fitting that they can help you live up to your own in so many ways.

 

 

The Many Benefits of Raw Honey

honey on green table

Do you ever yearn for a simpler time? A time when you could eat your breakfast of cereal, milk, and orange juice unaware of the possible health dangers? In a world where food that you once thought nutritious is now regarded as possibly fatal, and foods that were once considered dangerous are now hailed as superfoods, it’s hard to tell what’s what. So let’s check on the status of good old honey. Honey has been used as a folks remedy throughout history. How does it measure up to today’s standards?

Honey
If you are a fan of honey, you will be pleased to hear that its reputation remains untarnished. It is still a very popular food, and unpasteurized honey is even used as a medical treatment for wounds in some hospitals. However, when honey is manufactured, it is heated. While this improves the texture and color, and removes excess crystallization, it also destroys much of the honey’s beneficial properties. That’s why you may be interested in the many benefits of raw honey.

Raw Honey Benefits

woman with two jars of honey

Source of Antioxidants
Raw honey has antioxidants called phenolic compounds, and some types of honey are just as potent as fruits and vegetables when it comes to protecting the body from cell damage by free radicals. Honey can help to prevent the oxidative effects of free radicals such as aging and cancer, and the polyphenols in honey may also help prevent heart disease.

Antibacterial and Antifungal
If you have hydrogen peroxide in your bathroom cabinet, it may come as a surprise to hear that it also can be found in honey. Raw honey contains hydrogen peroxide, which kills unwanted fungus and bacteria. Hospitals in Europe have been able to fight Staphylococcus aureus, an antibiotic resistant bacteria, using Manuka honey. Different types of honey have varying degrees of antibiotic qualities.

Heals Wounds
Honey’s germ killing properties also make it useful in medical settings for the treatment of wounds, and researchers believe that these properties go beyond honey’s natural hydrogen peroxide content. Studies have shown Manuka honey’s ability to decrease time in which wounds heal and reduce the probability of infection. However, you should know, this Manuka honey is medical grade before you begin slathering your store bought honey on open cuts.

jar of honey in a woman's hands

Packed with Phytonutrients
Phytonutrients are plant compounds that help to protect the plant, often shielding it from UV radiation, and may do the same for humans. Phytonutrients have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and since honey is derived from plants, it too is rich in phytonutrients. However, it should be pointed out that these nutrients disappear when honey is processed.

Helps Digestion
Honey has been proven as an effective treatment for Helicobacter pylori, which is a common cause of peptic ulcers which often occur in the digestive system. One or two teaspoons of honey taken on an empty stomach may soothe pain and assist in healing.

What do you use raw honey for? Let us know what you know about this sweet healer.

Surprising Foods With Benefits

Can life possibly get better? First, you find out you can practically live on a diet of stuffed grape leaves and Greek yogurt, and then you find out that dark chocolate can fight free radical damage. At this rate, you’re certain that one day you’ll read a report touting the health benefits of donuts. Unfortunately, if you are counting on this article to be the bearer of that news, you may be sadly disappointed. However, although the perks of fried dough have yet to be discovered, there are some other foods that, you may be pleasantly surprised to find out, are both delicious and nutritious. Here are a few foods with benefits.

Hair
cheese

Cheese
Need a good excuse for ordering extra cheese on that pizza? According to Beautyflash.co.uk, cheese is rich in nutrients that can promote the growth of a long healthy mane.

Oysters
Is it the oysters or is it how good your hair looks? Oysters are rich in zinc which helps strengthen the protein structures in hair follicles, encouraging thick, healthy hair.

Poultry
Keep that head of hair lustrous by eating some poultry. Lack of protein causes the body to ration the protein, which may mean less of it goes to your hair, causing potential hair loss. Eating protein-rich poultry can help counter the damage.

Skin
Avocado and Yogurt

Soy Beans
The high protein and mineral content in soy beans make it a great food for reducing blemishes and evening out skin tone.

Avocados
The healthy fats in this wonderful fruit can help keep your skin plump and moisturized while protecting it from sun damage.

Greek Yogurt
Want to reduce those wrinkles? Get some Greek in you. (Greek yogurt, that is). This protein-packed superfood can make skin firmer and more resistant to wrinkles and lines.

Teeth
green tea

Green Tea
It may be green, but it will keep your teeth white. Studies show that green tea reduces plaque, lower the acidity of saliva, and controls bacteria levels. Research suggests that drinking green tea will make you less prone to tooth decay and gum disease.

Cheese
Now there’s a real reason to say “cheese.’ Cheese is a great source of calcium, which is one of the most vital nutrients for supporting healthy teeth. The gooey stuff is also believed to play a role in raising the pH in your mouth, reducing likelihood of tooth decay.

Strawberries
These beauties contain malic acid, a natural cleanser with enamel whitening abilities.

Nails
Chia seeds and borccoli

Mackerel
The omega-3 fatty acids in mackerel is a great way to put an end to dry and brittle nails.

Chia Seeds
Not only are these seeds packed full of protein, calcium, and magnesium, they also support the production of collagen in your body, helping your nails stay strong and fortified.

Broccoli
If growing long nails is on your list of goals, you should start eating your broccoli. With the aid of an amino acid called cysteine and the benefits of protein, this green veggie may be your key to a perfect 10.

If you’ve got a food that you would like to find out surprising health benefits about, well, we can’t really guarantee it; but, if you’ve been pleasantly surprised to find out your favorite food may be satisfying more than your taste buds, we’d love to know! Tell us what you’re loving to eat and all the fringe benefits that you’re getting while doing it.

Add Cabbage Juice To Your Healthy Drink List

Some may say that the popularity of home juicers and food processors have brought out a bit of the mad scientist in us. Increasingly, the question seems to be not what you can put into these new contraptions, but what you can’t. Indeed, something in these new kitchen innovations have awakened our inner eighth grader, leaving very little off limits. Among the more eyebrow-raising to meet their fates in the juicer: cereal grasses, cucumbers, celery, potatoes and now, a new addition to the list; cabbage.

Cabbage

Cabbages
Why cabbages, you might ask? They don’t seem to be too high on anyone’s favorite food list, and even smell a little funny, but it turns out, cabbages can do the body a surprising amount of good.

Cabbage is low in saturated fats and cholesterol and is also rich in vitamins such as B6, C, K, and folate. It also has a high fiber content and contains protein, calcium, phosphorous, and omega -6 fatty acids. However, it is not the nutritional content of cabbage that makes it so impressive, rather it is the health benefits.

Health Benefits of Cabbage

Fights Cancer
Cabbage juice contains isocyanate, known for its ability to prevent great, stomach, prostate, lung and colon cancer. It also contains sulforaphane, which blocks carcinogens. For these reasons, it is often prescribed to patients recovering from cancer.

Controls Ulcers
In addition to having cancer-fighting properties, cabbage juice is also effective in controlling peptic ulcers. The juice of the cruciferous veggie contains glutamine, which is a type of amino acid associated with the promotion of cellular growth it the stomach, and may aid in helping peptic ulcers to repair itself.

Cabbage juice

Weight Control
Because cabbage juice is beneficial to the digestive system, it is known to aid in weight loss, converting sugar and carbs into energy, rather than fat.

Heart Disease
Cabbage contains omega -6 fatty acids. Although once believed to block arteries, the American Heart Association has now found Omega-6s to be heart healthy and recommends that individuals get 5-10% go their daily calorie intake from these fatty acids.

Fights Anemia
Anemia is characterized by a decrease in red blood cells in the bloodstream, resulting in feelings of fatigue and exhaustion. The folic acid in cabbage juice has been shown to help generate new red blood cells vital to anemia sufferers. Cabbage is also rich in Vitamin C, which assists in the body’s absorption of iron.

Skin Care
Cabbages are rich in phytochemicals, like alpha and beta-carotene and contain the retinol equivalent of vitamin A. The antioxidant properties in these nutrients cam destroy free radicals that damage skin cells and age skin and are probably a better source of skincare than many products available on the market today.

Let us know if you’ve tried cabbage juice? What do you think? Is it the next must have smoothie ingredient?

Certain Sunscreens May Harm Corals

Coral reefs

You’re finally going on your Hawaiian vacation. You’re going to party the week away eating kalua pork and huli huli chicken, working on your hula moves and drinking exotic cocktails from coconuts with umbrellas sticking out of them. You’re going to go snorkeling in the crystal waters of Waikiki Beach and you’re going to hit the white sands of Honolulu running. And of course, you’re going to slather on that sunscreen. Right? Well, you may want to think again.

You know that your Hawaiian vacation would not be complete without checking out those amazing coral reefs. Not only are these beauties responsible for housing 500 species of algae which provide food and sustenance to Hawaii’s vast marine life, they’re also going to keep you hangin’ 10 by creating those big Hawaiian waves. Unfortunately, when it comes to these natural wonders, your sunscreen may be doing more harm than good.

Dangers of Sunscreen to Corals
Although sunscreen may be fully beneficial to humans, it may be anything but for the coral reef. Chemicals in sunscreens that wash off the body off beach goers wreak havoc on the precious reefs, bleaching the coral, hindering its growth, and often, outright killing it. In the aim of damage control to one of Hawaii’s most profitable natural resources, Hawaiian Senator Will Espero presented a bill to congress on January 20 that would ban sunscreens with octinoxate and oxybenzone from the Hawaiian island.

Sunscreen Harms Corals
The chemical and mineral filters in sunscreen, used to block the sun’s radiation are the most damaging to the reefs. They wash off the skin of surfers, swimmers, spear fishers, and even those using the beach showers, and find their way into the ocean. Oxybenzone, concentrations have been measured at 30 times the concentration level safe for the corals. Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources says, “(These chemicals) cause deformities in coral larvae making them unable to swim, settle out, and form new coral colonies. It also increases the rate at which coral bleaching occurs. This puts coral reef health at risk, and reduces resiliency to climate change.”

Woman on a hammock

Craig Downs, researcher on stunted coral growth at Haereticua Environmental Laboratory in Virginia says that oxybenzone “kills (coral.) It turns them into zombies if it doesn’t kill them outright. It makes them sterile and you do not get coral recruitment.”

Not Just A Hawaiian Problem
Hawaiian corals are not the only ones being endangered. In fact, about 80% of all corals in the Caribbean Sea have died within the past 40 years. Although factors such as temperature anomalies, predators, pollution from cruise ships and coastal runoffs all contribute to the endangerment, the fact the approximately 14,000 tons of sunscreen has been found to wash into the world’s ocean each year is not helping matters.

The Other Side
Of course, there are two sides to every story. Sunscreen manufacturers, such as L’oreal uphold the benefits of their products and oppose the ban claiming there is not enough supporting evidence. However, Espero rallies, ” We have advocates and science on our side. Fisherman, boat owners, ocean sports enthusiasts, ocean-tour operators, and environmentalists rely on the ocean for recreation and jobs. Opponents will be out there, but supporters as well.

What Can You Do?
If your wondering how to keep these creatures safe without risking your delicate complexion, you can check out the Environmental Working Group’s guide to safe sunscreen, but be aware that they do advise, “Sunscreen should be your last resort,” and urge you to consider long sleeved shirts, Uv blocking attire, sunglasses, shade and well time jaunts into the sun to keep exposure to a minimum.

So what do you think? To screen or not to screen? Let us know where you stand!

The Best Plant Extracts For Skin

Usually, when we think of the plights of ancient civilization, acne does not top our list. However, that does not mean skincare was not a problem for our forebears. After all, if there was a sun, was there not sun damage and, if there were pregnancies, were there not stretch marks? While we can pretty much assume our forefathers and mothers all battled with skin issues, there is a noticeable absence of the mention of benzoyl peroxide and hyaluronic acid in the history books. So what did our ancestors use to ensure skin health before the advent of “science-based skincare?” Plant extracts. And if they worked back then, shouldn’t they work now?

Let’s take a moment to investigate the best plant-based extracts for your skin that are still available.

Aloe vera

Aloe Vera
This extract has been around since time immemorial. Best known as a remedy for irritation and minor burns, this desert plant is known for its ability to fight bacteria, protect skin cells from damage, soften skin, and rebuild new tissue. Aloe is an ideal ingredient for mature skin and improves collagen levels when ingested or applied topically.

Tea Tree Oil
Ideal for moisturizing and cleansing, tea tree oils reduces sebum production in the sebaceous glands and reduces the amount of bacteria that cause blemishes to form. Its antiseptic properties make it an effective healer, it is known for its ability to safely remove dead cells from the skin and decrease the appearance of wrinkles.

Shea
Shea butter evens skin tone and protects and moisturizes the skin and scalp without clogging pores. Extracted from the nut of the West African karate tree, shea butter is naturally rich in vitamins A and E and helps restore elasticity to the skin and soothe irritation.

Shea butter

Olive Oil
Hailed as a skin care remedy by the ancient Egyptians, olive oil is still regarded as one of the most effective natural oils for skin care. It has been associated with everything from aiding in digestion to acne prevention and anti-aging. The words “Extra virgin” or “cold pressed” on the label should indicate that the olive oil contained within is the purest of all extract and have more nutritional components to improve skin appearance, but beware falsely labelled products!

Avocado
One of the finest extracts found in nature, the oil from the avocado is an extract long found in face masks, bath oils, and cleansing cream. Avocados are rich in vitamin A, which is effective at removing dead skin cells and contain amino acids which protect skin against environmental damage.

Cocoa Butter
Cocoa butter is known for the ability to reduce scars and is often recommended by surgeons to patients to reduce evidence of surgery incisions. It is credited with boosting collagen in the skin and reducing stretch marks and the appearance of wrinkles and frown lines. Cocoa butter is an active ingredient in most moisturizers and is useful in combatting rough skin where dryness is common.
Cocoa butter

Coconut Oil
Great for both hair and skin care, coconut oil is an effective moisturizer for dry skin and scalp. It can also delay the appearance of wrinkles and has been proven to be effective in the treatments of psoriasis, eczema, and dermatitis. The antioxidant properties of the coconut prevent premature aging and degenerative disease and it is available in a variety of skin care products, such as lotions, soaps, and creams.

Do you know of any plant extracts we haven’t mentioned that do wonders for your skin? Let us know your favorites. We’re all ears!

What Makes A Product Noncomedogenic?

Noncomedogenic. N-O-N-C-O-M-E-D-O-G-E-N-I-C. Noncomedogenic. It sounds like the word that stumped the runner up in the fourth grade spelling bee. If you’ve been hearing this word used a lot lately in the cosmetic industry and thinking it sounds impressive, its meant to. But is it, really? Let’s break it down.

Woman squeezing pimple

A comedo is the mildest form of acne, otherwise known as a pimple, whitehead, or blackhead. So technically you could say, “Wow, that’s a rather large comedo on your face.” as a more polite way of saying, “Wow, that’s a really big zit you have.” Non, of course means without, hence, noncomedogenic, when applied to a skin cleanser essentially means the product does not clog pores and will break down excess oils on your skin without stripping necessary moisture.

What Does “Noncomedogenic” Mean?
Although the term “noncomedogenic” sounds scientific, the truth is that the effectiveness of noncomedogenic products has not been proven in clinical trials, nor has it been tested by the FDA. This is not, however, to say that such products are without merit; in fact, there is some evidence that non comedic products can reduce acne. There is, after all, proof that blocked pores can produce acne, and therefore, a product preventing occlusion of pores, may help prevent it. However, some forms of acne may be a result of other causes, such as a high presence of bacteria on the skin, and, in these cases, noncomedogenic goods would not have much effect.

In other instances, products are labelled noncomedogenic, but, in fact can cause skin rashes an irritation.

Woman cleaning face

Chemistry of Noncomedogenic Products
Noncomedogenic cleanser usually contain benzoyl peroxide, sulfur or salicylic acid. Some have ingredients to treat acne, and others are simply formulated to not aggravate pimples and clog pores.

Benzoyl peroxyde kills bacteria which causes acne and does not produce oil on the skin. Salicylic acid does not kill bacteria, but does unclog pores without creating additional oil. It also dissolves oil in the hair follicles. Sulfur washes away dead skin cells and excess oil and is also believed to be able to break down blackheads and whiteheads.

Pros and Cons Of Noncomedogenic Cleansers
Noncomedogenic. How bad could it be, right? Anything purported not to clog pores, couldn’t be too bad, right? Well, you be the judge.

Benzoyl Peroxide
If you’ve ever used benzoyl peroxide to treat acne, you probably found it to be effective. However, you will need to use it for a few weeks before you see results, and, if you discontinue use, the acne will return. Also, while you can combat the drying effects of benzoyl peroxide on skin with moisturizer, other side effects are not so easy to deal with. Itching, rashes, burning, and swelling have all been associated with the use of benzoyl peroxide and are best handled professionally.

Woman checking skin

Salicylic Acid
Like benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid requires continuous use to see results, as pores will clog up again when the skin is no longer receiving treatment. Although it can cause irritation and stinging, it is usually mild enough to work without causing serious side effects.

Sulfur
Sulfur has very few side effects, if any, and, although some may find the smell disagreeable, the odor is usually not detectable when mixed with other ingredients.

What do you think of noncomedogenic products? Does the term reassure you? Let us know!

How to Pair Chocolate With Wine

You’re planning a romantic evening for you and your honey, and you want to invite two of your best friends – food and wine. You need to get the right balance though. After all, you don’t want to wake up the next morning with a horrible hangover and a pooch. Which wine would go best with which chocolate? You need to investigate properly. You’ve decided to buy a huge box of Russell Stover assorted chocolates. The dark one might go well with the Cabernet, but you need to be sure. Just one more bite, a little more chocolate, and a little more wine. You wake up the next day surrounded by chocolate wrappers and an empty wine bottle.

Sure, experimentation is a great way to find the best wine and chocolate combinations, but it may not be the best idea to attempt to get it all figured out in one night. If you are a novice to the wine and chocolate marriage, it may be a good idea to give yourself a little bit of a starting point before taking on.

Chocolate and wine

The Chocolate Should Not Be Sweeter than the Wine You Pair It With
If you’re planning to pair a syrah or merlot with your chocolate, the wine should be as sweet as the chocolate. You’ll need to do an advanced taste test, but this shouldn’t be too much of a pain. If the wine is not as sweet as the chocolate, the wine will taste bitter, and you don’t want that.

Purchase Quality Chocolate
When pairing with wine, your chocolate should be of impeccable quality. No generic chocolate bars for this. Go for the premium ones instead. They cost more, but they’re worth it.

Pair According to the Darkness of the Chocolate
The general rule is that the darker the chocolate, the darker the wine, so a dark chocolate calls for red. If you are pairing with a white wine, an intense and fruity variety is the best match for the bittersweet and occasional acidic taste of chocolate.

Look for Wine with Smooth Tannins
Smooth wine goes with smooth chocolate. When it comes to pairing wine with chocolate, soft, rounded tannins work best.

Full-bodied Wines Go with Intense Chocolate
If ganache brownies are on the menu, make sure you have a wine that can stand up to them.

Go From Light to Dark
Obey the rules of wine-tasting by starting with the light stuff and intensifying the experience gradually. Begin your odyssey on a light note with white and milk chocolate, moving gradually to a medium intensity. End with the darkest and most bitter of chocolates, and matching your wines in ascending order of darkness and weight.

White chocolate and wine

White Chocolate
When it comes to white chocolate you want a wine that will pick up more buttery tones of the confection. Best bets include Chardonnay, Sherry, Muscat, or Moscato d’Asti.

Milk Chocolate
Dessert wines, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Reisling, Muscat and Pinot noir are all great matches for milk chocolate, as is champagne. Bubbly provides a crisp dry contrast for the creaminess of the milk chocolate, as the fruitiness of red wines may be cancelled out by high sugar levels, leaving the wine tasting bitter.

Dark Chocolate (50-70%)
Intense chocolate calls for intense wine. Savignon, Cabernet, Zinfandel, and Pinot Noir are all good complements for dark chocolate and a Chianti matches well with a chocolate with a 65% content of cocoa.

Bittersweet Chocolate (70%-100%)
Chocolate gourmands consider bittersweet chocolate the creme de la creme, so you need a wine that can take on the range of flavor. Think Beaujolais, Shiraz, Bordeaux, Orange Muscat, and Zinfandel for the bitter stuff. Also, feel free to try a sparkling wine or champagne with a variety of chocolates. Dessert wines are also generally well suited to chocolate.

How did your wine-and-chocolate pairing go? Let us know once you’ve hit the sweet spot – we’d love to hear all about it!

The Benefits Of A Sprinkle Of Chia Seeds

SNL enthusiasts may recall the ‘Chia Head” sketch, featuring Kevin Nealon, Chris Rock, and David Spade as balding men who have “tried everything” and failed miserably in their futile attempts to regrow hair. The commercial spoof shows the actors throwing ineffective hair products in the garbage only to be pleasantly surprised by the discovery of “Chia Head.” This product, much like the “Chia Pet” novelty, requires the men to rub the gloppy formula on their heads, only to wake up the next morning having sprouted plantlike follicles in varying afro-like shapes – the most hilarious of which is probably Chris Rock’s Marge Simpson-inspired beehive-like do.

Funny as the sketch was, it is perhaps more amusing to realize that hair growth is one of the many health benefits of chia seeds. If only the SNL alum had known; a little sprinkle of chia really could’ve gone a long way.

Chia seeds

High in Nutrients, Low In Calories
It’s no accident that “chia” is the ancient Mayan word for strength. These tiny black seeds, related to the mint, contain 11 grams of fiber, 4 grams of protein, 5 grams of omega-3s, as well as a decent percentage of calcium, magnesium, manganese, and phosphorous. Chia seeds are a gluten-free, GMO-free, whole grain food, and one ounce contains a low 137 calories and one gram of carbohydrate.

Antioxidant Rich
The antioxidants in chia seeds prevent the production of free radicals that can cause damage to cell molecules and contribute to cancer and aging.

Fiber Rich
Although chia seeds have 12 grams of carbs per ounce, 11 of those are fiber, which means that these 11 grams are not digested by the body, do not raise blood sugar, and don’t require insulin for disposal. The high-fiber content means that the seeds can absorb as much as 10 to 12 times their weight in water, thereby increasing fullness, slowing food absorption, and decreasing feelings of hunger. Chia seeds are one of the best fiber sources in the world, helping to feed good bacteria in the intestine and promoting proper digestion.

High In Protein
Chia seeds are about 14% protein by weight and contain a good balance of amino acids, which assists in helping our body to process the proteins in them. High protein can reduce appetite and is shown to lower food cravings by 60% and the need for nighttime snacking by 50%.

Can Improve Athletic Performance
A recent study was conducted to find out if there was truth to the legend that Mayans and Aztecs used chia seeds as high-performance fuel. Six participants were given carb-loaded Gatorade or a mix of Gatorade and chia seeds. After a workout involving an hour on the treadmill followed by a 10-kilometer run, it was discovered that both groups performed equally well, suggesting that the chia seeds were just as effective as Gatorade in fueling athletic performance.

Incorporating Chia Seeds In Your Diet
Chia seed can be eaten raw or added to puddings, porridges, and baked goods. They can be sprinkled on yogurt, cereal, vegetables, and rice and can even be used as egg substitutes because of their ability to absorb water and fat. Recommended dosage is 20 grams, or about 1.5 tablespoons, twice daily.

Do you have any chia-seed recommendations for us? We’d love to hear from you!

Cinnamon sticks and powder

Sprinkle On A Little Cinnamon

Comedian Jerry Seinfeld once said, “Cinnamon. It should be on tables in restaurants along with salt and pepper. Anytime someone says, “Oooh, this is so good- what is this?’ The answer invariably comes back, ‘cinnamon.’ Cinnamon. Again and again.” Indeed, one can’t go too wrong with cinnamon. It goes with everything from toast to apples, tea to coffee, rice pudding to noodle pudding. Even Pizza Hut can hardly deny the boost to their sales caused by the addition of cinnamon sticks to their dessert menu. And now cinnamon can add another feather in its cap. It’s good for you!

Source of Antioxidants
Cinnamon is full of antioxidants that protect against free radical damage and slow the process of aging. Researchers have found forty-one protective compounds in the spice, and that’s only to date!

The OTAC scale, used to measure antioxidant concentration ranks cinnamon a respectable number 7 in all herbs, spices, and foods and was the hands down antioxidant- concentration winner in the herbs and spices category, beating out rosemary, thyme and oregano.

Cinnamon in a mug

Inflammatory
The antioxidants in cinnamon also contribute to its anti -inflammatory effects, which can help decrease the risk of cancer, diminish decline of brain function, and heart disease. Research has revealed the presence of over seven kinds of flavanoid compounds in cinnamon, which are known for their ability in fighting disease -causing inflammation throughout the body. Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, cinnamon is also an effective source of pain relief, helping to soothe muscle soreness, allergic reactions, and PMS pains.

Heart Health
Another health benefit of cinnamon is its ability to reduce cholesterol levels and high blood pressure, two of the most common factors for heart disease. Compounds in the spice can reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol while stabilizing HDL (good) cholesterol, promoting heart health.

Research also shows cinnamon boosts blood circulation and aids the body in its ability to repair tissue after it’s been damaged, including heart tissue.

Fights Diabetes
Also an effective anti-diabetic, cinnamon can help lower levels of blood sugar and improve insulin sensitivity. This is because cinnamon is capable of blocking enzymes that allow the blood to absorb glucose, decreasing the amount of sugars that enter the bloodstream, which is especially beneficial to diabetics.

Cinnamon powder

Prevents Cognitive Decline
Cinnamon protects cognitive function by activating proteins that protect brain cells from damage and reduces oxidative stress. Furthermore, its high concentration of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds make it a candidate for possible therapeutic treatment in preventing age-related disease.

Lowers Risk of Cancer
You can also add the ability to lower cancer risk to this spice’s already impressive resume. Cinnamon protects against cell mutation, DNA damage and tumor growth, Studies show that is the compound cinnamaldehyde that is responsible for the inhibition of cancer growth and also the cause of apoptosis, the self-destruction of cancer cells.

Protects Against Bad Breath
Cinnamon Trident, anyone? Studies show cinnamon contains extracts that protect against bacteria that cause bad breath, cavities and tooth decay. Furthermore, the essential oils in cinnamon have proven more potent than any other known plant extracts. It can be used naturally as an anti-bacterial mouthwash and as a flavoring agent in chewing gum to remove oral bacteria.

What do your sprinkle your cinnamon on? Let us know your innovative ways of spicing things up!