I’m surviving self-quarantining through beauty meditation.

Hey, self-quarantine, nice to know ya.

Now that you have so much time on our hands, might as well do something productive for ourselves Between baking, FaceTime sessions, re-watching The Office (generally surviving) it’s time for us to stop, unwind and do things for ourselves. I, for one, am venturing into beauty meditation. Yes, beauty meditation. It’s a thing. There have been countless articles about glowing skin just from being intentional about it. Could I truly meditate myself into a better complexion? Now was the time to truly put this to the test.

Full disclosure, I’ve rarely meditated before. Outside of the wellness retreats (for stories, of course) and hyper-millennial press events that serve overwhelming positivity straight up with a shot of kombucha, I’ve never been one to really disconnect. In a fast-paced NYC world, meditation seemed relatively futile.

SEE ALSO: How to manage coronavirus-related stress and anxiety

That all changed last week when news of COVID-19 reached fever pitch in the U.S. It was re-branded as a pandemic with hundreds of confirmed cases across the country appeared overnight. ‘“Social distancing” became the buzzphrase that birthed a million memes. Seemingly rational people began stockpiling. For me, the paranoia set in.

Black teen meditating

That’s when I realized skin meditation was necessary for not only my routine, but life. I discovered a couple of brilliant YouTube videos to lead me along my journey. The combination of breath work and many of the videos’ melodic voiceover became self-care, and whether or not I was completely delusional, I felt my immune system strengthening with each exhale.

Meditating for something specific — like a clear visage — for 15 or so minutes a day, seemed doable when I began last Monday. Placebo or otherwise, I felt like I saw results within several days: old acne was healing faster than ever, milia self-corrected, and the overall texture of my skin altered. But mostly, my mind started to calm down.

As more cities shut down and the mandate remains to limit regular activities to confines of your home, we’ve been forced to fill what feels like a never-ending abyss of time. Couple that with the cabin fever-induced hypochondria, boredom, financial stress, or even just pure loneliness, and you have yourself a breeding ground for anxiety. So what do you do? I’d suggest practicing skin-meditation, it truly changed my life. Here’s how I’m surviving this week.

Head on over to YouTube, and hypnotize yourself out of your funk with the most-effective meditation practices. Here’s what I used, below. 

For great skin

Ah, where it all began. After trying several guided meditations, I stumbled on this bad boy. It’s bridges the gap between meditation and hypnosis, which almost makes it easier to buy into. The voiceover gives you a free few minutes at the end of the video to consider your intentions and let go of any remaining stress. I felt an immediate flood of serotonin post-session — something I can only relate to accomplishing a workout.

For a healthy body

If you’re browsing meditation videos and wondering how on earth anyone can commit to a six-hour meditation — never fear, many are intended to focus your subconscious on healing and promoting health overnight. This clip (which has racked up a remarkable 10 million views), relaxes you for sleep while it reiterates the power of the mind when it comes to fixing the body — awakening the mind, surviving the next day– to transform any medicine you’re already consuming into the ultimate weapon to fight what does not serve you.

For lessened anxiety

So you’ve entered a state of panic and are in need of a quick fix: stop, and put this on. It’s a five minute meditation coupled with an instrumental that takes you through breathing exercises to take you out of your head and into your body. It incorporates a repetition component, so you’re forced to fully engage with the meditation — give it a try, we can guarantee you’ll feel instantly at ease.

For financial relief

With a wave of lay offs across the country, the Coronavirus is having an immeasurable impact on the lives of working Americans. If you’re feeling nervous about potentially losing your job, have already been let go or are confronting dwindling work prospects amid the madness, this meditation will train you to attract prosperity. It’s also 8 hours, so pop it on before you sleep and feel free to knock on out.

For a better mood

It may be that what you need most in trying times is just little morale boost. This endorphin meditation invites you to dedicate a quick 10 minutes daily to pivot you toward positivity, let go of what’s concerning you and surrender to what you can’t control — we guarantee you’ll feel better for it.

Photo by Marco Trinidad from Pexels

You can face map your pimples to tell you why you’re breaking out

Not all acne is the same, but have you ever noticed that some zits keeps popping up in the same few places?

Whether your acne occurs once a month or it’s decided to become a permanent resident of the United States of You, recurring blemishes can be your body’s special way of communicating with you. To find out what your acne is so desperately pleading with you, we sat down with Dr. Y. Claire Chang. A board-certified dermatologist at Union Square Dermatology in New York City, AKA a professional pimple whisperer, Dr. Chang told us how you can decode and listen to your acne.

SEE ALSO: This $7 acne gel destroys your cystic bumps in a day

All acne, whether it’s on your face or your body, can be narrowed down to the same root causes. The culprits? A blend of excess oil production, clogged pores, bacteria, and inflammation. If you keep breaking out in certain spots, it could point towards a range of things from lifestyle patterns to fluctuating hormones, so mapping your acne can be beyond helpful so you can figure out exactly what’s going on.

Forehead

If you’re past the teenage hormonal stage, forehead acne could be due to your hair – or hair products. Yep, greasy hair or oily hair pomades, gels, creams can be a major cause of breakouts. This, due to it blocking your pores or increasing bacteria on your forehead area.  “Long hair, bangs, or oily hair may exacerbate sweat and oily, clogging the pores, worsening acne,” says Dr. Chang. And completely avoiding doing your hair by wearing a hat doesn’t help, either. According to Dr. Chang, wearing caps or hats can also clog pores and trap bacteria. Yikes. To decrease your forehead acne, Dr. Chang says to wash your hair regularly (and also your dirty hats!) If that’s not helping, cut it short.  “Oftentimes, cutting the bangs shorter and avoiding hair products can treat forehead acne.” And cut out forehead acne, for good.

Chin and Jaw

Did you know your beard could be why you struggle with acne along your jaw and chin? Isn’t that so rude? If you have a beard, ingrown hairs may irritate the skin into breaking out, but shaving your beard off isn’t the answer either. Shaving can inflame the skin, even leading to infection if you’re very unlucky, which means more acne. So, what’s a guy to do? According to Dr. Chang, prevention is key. She recommends, “using a moisturizing shaving cream, using a single blade or electric razor, shaving in the direction of the hair follicle, and keeping razors sterile before use.” Prevention isn’t a perfect science, so if your break outs still continue to flare up, you could always opt for these very effective treatments such as benzoyl peroxide and tretinoin, topical steroids, and oral antibiotics.

Deep cystic acne, and sometimes small pink bumps and whiteheads, along the jawline can point towards hormonal triggers such as the menstrual cycle. In short, your period could be the reason for your monthly pimple pop ups. Although the hormone train that is your menstrual cycle can’t be completely stopped, Dr. Chang suggests slowing things down with oral contraceptive and even some forms of high blood pressure medication (oral spironolactone treatment).

Cheek and Nose

There’s nothing worse than waking up to a giant pimple in the middle of your face, but it is also one of the most common areas people break out in. One downside to how common cheek and nose acne are is that there are many different causes for the breakouts. The most likely reason, however, probably has to do with the fact the notoriously pesky T-Zone runs through your cheeks and nose. The T-Zone, where most people get shiny and greasy throughout the day, produces an excessive amount of oil and sebum. Your over-achieving oil glands make the cheek and nose area more vulnerable to clogged pores and acne. An quick and easy solution? “Avoid bacteria buildup by washing your pillow and bed sheets frequently, which can touch the skin while you sleep and flare the acne,” Dr. Chang advises.

Back, Shoulder, and Chest

According to Dr. Chang, the shoulder, back, and chest are areas with high concentrations of sebaceous glands.Unfortunately, this means they’re more prone to acne, just like the T-Zone. An obvious issue is puberty because your hormones cause higher levels of oil production in the sebaceous glands. Although you can’t fast-forward through puberty, simple swaps like opting for loosely fitting clothes rather than tight ones can make a big difference. Sweating during exercise or in the summer can also contribute to body acne, so be sure to immediately, and I mean immediately, get out of your sweaty clothes when you’re done at the gym or when you get home and shower. Why not make it a luxurious shower with your favorite shower gel and fancy shampoo while you’re at it? It’s not like you don’t deserve it! When breakouts still occur, which they could because you’re human, Dr. Chang says, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial medications can help significantly with chest and back acne. So take that salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide wash and use it stat!

Butt

Everybody’s favorite past time, Netflix in bed, could be contributing to acne on your tush. Unfortunately for us, “sweating and sitting for long periods of time can clog the pores,” Dr. Chang shared with us. Clogged pores, as we all know by now, increase susceptibility to breakouts. Ass acne (which will now be known as assne) can also come from folliculitis. What is folliculitis? Simply put, it’s an inflammation of the hair follicles that is commonly caused by bacterial infections or from shaving. To combat this, don’t skimp on the soap down there, and if you shave for a bare butt, be sure to follow the crucial steps you would when shaving your face. Use a nourishing shaving cream, sterilize your razor, and go forth.

Our Takeaways

While some acne can be easily remedied with simple solutions such as showering after the gym or prepping your skin before shaving, recurring blemishes can also have internal causes such as hormones. Although hormones aren’t something you can control, they are something you can regulate with the help of a doctor. Even still, Dr. Yang’s recommendation may not work for everyone, but there’s no need to worry because not every single breakout is one that needs to be banished. Acne is nothing to be ashamed of because it is something everybody deals with. Whether your skin is flaring up in breakouts or you’re having the clearest skin day in weeks, you are still you and you are still incredible.

Reporting by Blair Cannon

This $9 hydrating gel will instantly quench your thirst.

If you’re a penguin and love subzero temperatures, no need to read any further.

For all others, this is required reading.

SEE ALSO: This skincare made me SO lazy and that’s a good thing. 

If you haven’t noticed, there’s something called a “winter storm” happening across the country. Her name: Indra. Her game: putting you on ice. As I’m typing this I wonder, is it possible for something to have too much chill?

Symptoms of freezing weather: frozen toes, flushed cheeks, slushed out tears and possibly worst of all, chafed skin. If you bathe every day, you’ll probably notice that your skin during this winter season is a little scalier than usual. Some would say ashy. If you’re chronically itching and scratching, you’re not alone. While there are plenty of oils, creams and body gels on the market, I’ve been testing one for the past few weeks that’s REALLY FREAKING GOOD.

Neutrogena Hydroboost

(Neutrogena’s Hydro Boost Body Gel Cream goes for $8.99 and may be the biggest steal of your life. Photo by David Yi/Very Good Light)

Yes, we’ve named Kiehl’s own Creme de Corps, the best cream of the year for our Lightning Awards. And there are certainly amazing oils out there as well to soothe the scaliest of skin. But sometimes these creams and said oils can be a little too thick and dare I say too oily. I, for one, hate using something that makes me feel as if I’m drenched in canola oil.

Which is why I was jumping for literal joy when I came across Neutrogena’s Hydro Boost Body Gel Cream ($9). It’s an offshoot of the brand’s bestselling Hydro Boost Water Gel, which is a hyaluronic acid-based formula. The body gel – which is paraben-free – is equally as hydrating but formulated not for your face, but for your entire, well, body. The hyaluronic acid-filled formulation boosts your skin’s hydration and then seals it in like *THAT*. It’s also lightweight and so the cream absorbs almost instantly.

Neutrogena Hydroboost

(The formula is super lightweight, absorbs instantly and is hydrating AF. Photo by David Yi/ Very Good Light)

It’s also non-sticky, oil-free and so lightweight that you won’t even know you put anything on – until hours later when you realize your skin isn’t itching. The bottle says it’s fragrance-free but I’d actually say that misleading. There is certainly a fragrance – it’s sweet, fragrant and feint. But it’s definitely there. Okay, the best part is that it’s $9 for 16 oz. (okay, fine, it’s actually $8.99 – every cent matters in this economy!). That’s roughly $1.78 for every ounce and will certainly last you a couple of weeks.

If you’re itching all over and suffering from Indra, I’d say this Neutrogena option is a fantastic – and affordable – remedy.

Buy Neutrogena Hydro Boost Gel Cream, here, $9

The best beauty advice going into 2019

cameron fuller

(Photo by Jessica Chou/Very Good Light)

2018 came, conquered, did its thing and now … #thankunext.

Now who’s ready for 2019? If you’re like any of us, you’ve realized this year has been one filled with highs and lows. But what’s for certain is that in the midst of it all, our skincare is something that we can always have as a constant. Though we can’t necessarily control how our skin looks every day, we can treat it whenever it throws a left curve (or, uh, bursts into cystic acne – screaming as I type this). Here’s a few things that you can think about going into 2019 to treat your skin in the best way possible! Let’s ring it in GLOWING like that Chrissy Teigen’s forehead. It glistens.

Pat instead of slapping

See any of those videos of men slapping skincare into their pores? Ouch! Turns out, your facial skin is more sensitive than you thought. And so slapping on that toner or essence isn’t going to necessarily bring your complexion back to life. Instead, gently pat, pat, pat it in. It’s something our editor, David, discovered in Seoul on a skincare trip last year. He noticed that all aestheticians gently pat in skincare instead of slapping it mercilessly. So instead of being cruel to your pores, be a little (okay, a lot!) gentler to it.

Toners do make a difference

Okay, so maybe doing 10-step K-beauty is on its way out. This may be a good thing for the lazies out there (we’re talking about ourselves, ahem!). But the one thing that shouldn’t be replaced is still a toner. As we know, toners balance out the pH levels of your skin after cleansing (your water is alkalized!) and a toner brings your face back to its acidic state (that’s 4.5-5.5 on a pH scale). It also allows your moisturizer (that is, if you use a moisturizer, tell us you’re using a moisturizer??), to soak through into your instead of sitting there on top. Toners are the unsung heroes of skincare it’s something you should definitely consider. <3

Skipcare may be good for you

There’s a huge trend in Seoul where men and women are going on the “Skincare Diet.” That is, a diet that includes skipping out on products like essences or serums. The thought behind this is to allow your skin to breathe and to recalibrate on its own. So says the makeup artist, Maki Ryoke to us, who’s been a MUA for high fashion brands and magazine covers fo decades. It’s also the thought that too much skincare might actually hurt your skin barrier and cause more problems than good. And so, skipping on some of your skincare steps – or using a smaller portion – may be great for you. You don’t need a dollop of cream for your face, nor to you need an entire droplet of oil – portion control, guys, portion control.

Your SPF could be breaking out your skin

The worst part of SPF is that gray cast that some leave behind. This, especially for those with deeper skin tones. Which is why chemical sunscreen (that is, the more liquid-y form of sunscreen). These include ingredients like: oxybenzone, octinoxate, octisalate, and avobenzone. While a physical sunscreen protects your skin almost like an umbrella from UVA/UVB rays, chemical translates UVA/UVB rays into heat, soaks into the skin and emits it back out. That means that a lot of the times, chemical sunscreens will cause inflammation and break you out. If you’ve been religiously glopping on sunscreen (which is great!) but have seen your skin breaking out (which isn’t so great!) perhaps change to a good physical sunscreen for the new year.

Hate sheet masks? There’s a solution

If you’re literally opposed to sheet masks (it’s too cold! It’s too messy! I have no patience!), that’s totally okay. Instead, try using a sleeping mask – one that feels like a moisturizer – before bed. Sleeping masks seal in your skincare products, soak your skin with delicious nutrients and also allow you to GLOW the next morning. All you have to to is, well, sleep. Try sheet masks in the new year – it’ll do WONDERS. And yes, you’ll look like Chrissy Teigen’s forehead the next day.

Salves double as highlighters

For your best Rihanna glisten, you don’t NEED Fenty (sorry, Rih Rih!). All you need is a salve or balm. Or, as we learned at Tom Ford’s fall 2018 show, beard oil! That’s right, these can also act not only as moisturizer, but highlighters to make your skin shine under any and every spotlight.

Lotion can serve as … hair cream?

We were slightly shaken as well when we heard this from celebrity hairstylist Kristan Serafino. The stylist behind the looks of Shawn Mendes, Ryan Reynolds, Daniel Craig, Jake Gyllenhaal and more, told us at our boy beauty masterclass that yes, you can use lotion as hair cream. If you think about it, lotion is simply soothing ingredients for your skin. And what’s better than using soothing skin products than for your own hair? Might seem weird at first, but Kristan says that lotion can be an excellent hair styling product – it moisturizes, heals, protects, too!

The surprising reason why some people don’t produce body odor

(Giphy)

(Giphy)

I once watched a Korean variety show when a Korean pop star admitted to using deodorant. The entire audience proceeded to erupt in laughter. 

“You use deodorant? Poor thing,” a female announcer went on to say. “You must really smell.”

It was a conversation that was completely jarring to me as an American, even though I’m of Korean descent. Are Koreans super unhygienic, I wondered, or do they really just not smell badly? It’s interesting to note that when I went to Seoul, deodorants were nowhere in sight, not sold in drug stores or retailers or anywhere. There’s even countless articles from foreigners who search far and wide for deodorants in Seoul to find that, well, there is none. 

Then, last summer, my crude friend Nich, also a Korean American, dared me to sniff his under arm. It was the middle of a heat wave and we had just wandered around Bushwick, sweating like cats giving birth, if cats sweat. Being the daredevil that I am, I then stuck my nostrils onto his hairless pits, which resembled an ostrich’s eyelashes, sticking out sharply in random places.

The conclusion? To my dismay, they really, truly didn’t smell. At all. 

It’s a sentiment that I found difficult to believe in. All people certainly produce body odor, don’t they? At least, that’s what the cosmetic industry has been selling to us for, well, forever? After Googling “Koreans don’t smell,” I came across several articles explaining how and why. I also realized how much I’d been scammed by the cosmetic industry into reapplying deodorant multiple times throughout the day (not even considering how much I spend on it!)

According to a LiveScience article from 2013, scientists discovered there was actually a gene called ABCC11, which determines if a person is smelly or not. Those who produce a dry version of earwax apparently also lack the same bacteria that festers in underarms and causes odor. Huh. The reasoning, this Guardian article explains, was because those who produce dry earwax also don’t produce the protein that transports sweat out of pores in our armpits, which attracts bacteria that cause body odor.

“While only 2-percent of Europeans lack the genes for smelly armpits, most East Asians and almost all Koreans lack this gene,” an expert named Ian Day, a genetic epidemiologist at the University of Bristol, told the publication.

Still, in the Western world, the study by LiveScience found that more than three-quarters of people who don’t actually smell still use deodorant. Like me, an apparent luddite who’s been continually scammed. But even as I’ve read this information, it’s proven difficult for me to ween off of the sweat stick out of fear that if a crowded subway train ever shuts down ~I’m~ the one that stinks it up.  

So I spoke directly to a third party dermatologist named Dr. Joshua Zeichner, director of cosmetic and clinical research at the Department of Dermatology, Mount Sinai Hospital. I wanted to see if these findings were, in fact, true.

“A high percentage of Korean patients have the mutation called ABCC11 which alters the composition of sweat so that they do not produce body odor,” he confirms with Very Good Light. “Body odor is produced when sweat is broken down by bacteria that live naturally on the skin.  Depending on the composition of the sweat, odor may be different or have no smell at all when broken down by bacteria.  The mutation does not alter the production of sweat at all, so wetness itself is not affected.  Antiperspirants may be still necessary to reduce sweating, even if a deodorant effect is not needed.”

Okay, cool. So I know I still sweat (a lot actually, just see me during Crossfit, lol), but good to know that I can walk into a meeting right after and no one will say a damn thing. This definitely makes up for the fact that I can’t drink (get the Asian glow, aka allergic to alcohol aka totally a party pooper). Case closed.

If you’re wondering if you, too, carry the genes (or absence there of!) that produce B.O., the article simply says to check your earwax. Dry? Chances are, you, too, are Korean! We kid. But maybe – just maybe – you don’t smell like what we’d imagine Hodor smelling like, either. RIP, Hodor. RIP.