There’s something so self-indulgent and luxurious about creating the ultimate bath experience.
A bathtub is a prerequisite in every home I’ve ever lived in and the very first thing I admire in a hotel room. On work and holiday trips, I’m so determined to make use of a lovely tub—freestanding with a view surely would be ideal—that I’ve been known to soak for hours to simply unplug from the world. In this current global pandemic, baths have become my safe space away from the headlines. In a bath, I can lay completely motionless with a quiet mind and still come out feeling like I accomplished something. My body is clean, my skin feels soft, and my mind feels refreshed.
The pleasure of a bath lies in the luxuriating, not the practicality. It’s no wonder that designer Tom Ford infamously said he takes all of four baths in a day. But in order to maximize relaxation, the conditions have to be just right. My perfect ultimate bath involves a book in my hand, a candle flickering on the side, and my boyfriend on FaceTime.
Running the perfect-temperature bath boils down to (no pun intended) an actual science. So, what are the conditions for the ultimate bath experience?
Dr. JoAnna Nguyen, a board-certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon in Beverly Hills and avid bather outlines the basics.
Normal body temperature is 98.6°F and the ideal temperature for the ultimate bath is between 104°F and 113°F. “The water should feel warm, but not uncomfortably hot,” says Dr. Nguyen. The stratum corneum, or the outermost layer of the skin, forms a barrier which protects the deeper layers of the skin, preventing the entry of bacteria and toxins, while maintaining moisture. Dr. Nguyen says that at temperatures higher than 113°F, this layer breaks down, which can lead to dryness and inflammation of the skin.
Baths are also a great opportunity to soothe dry, irritated skin by adding comforting compounds such as oats, salt, or bath oils. Dr. Nguyen suggests adding avocado or sunflower oils to the water to moisturize your skin while soaking. You can also add your favorite essential oils to further stimulate the senses. My pick: Fur Bath Drops. The soothing blend of oils feels super luxurious in the bath and leaves your skin feeling silky soft. BUY HERE ($34)
According to Dr. Nguyen, baths should last no longer than 15 minutes. Any longer and the skin is stripped of its natural oils, which can lead to irritation and inflammation. Keep your baths short and sweet to save your skin, but feel free to bathe as often as you’d like. A bath a day keeps the stress away.
It is also important to moisturize your skin when it is still slightly damp to seal in the moisture. This can be done with your favorite moisturizing lotions or body oils. Whether you are enjoying a bath or a shower, Dr. Ngyuen suggests moisturizing immediately after for soft, supple skin all over the body. I love the Glossier Body Hero Daily Perfecting Cream. BUY HERE ($22)
We all know that a nice bath can melt away the stresses of the day, but scientific studies have shown that a simple bath can reap great health benefits. One study found that baths increase the body’s core temperature, which in turn helps regulate the circadian rhythm. “The ideal time to take a bath is 90 minutes prior to bedtime, as this has been shown to decrease the time it takes to fall asleep by 10 minutes,” says Dr. Nguyen.
In a small study, depressed volunteers demonstrated a greater reduction of depressive symptoms from taking a bath each day compared to those who exercised. Imagine the compounding benefits of exercise and baths on helping those with depression.
“Physiologically speaking, baths condition the circulatory system, improving cerebrovascular health. Think of it as exercise, without the exertion,” adds Dr. Nguyen.
Exercise from dunking your body in hot water? Goodbye, indoor treadmill – possibly forever!
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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
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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’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.
(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.
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!
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“I wanted to create something that was sexy and inclusive,” he said. “I wanted to make sure that I hired and cast diverse body types and all different ages and ethnicities.”
What’s notable about Company XIV is that while it’s anchored in traditional burlesque, it’s anything but old fashioned. Take, for instance, that most of the performers are men. Seen through their bodies, traditionally feminine forms of dance like strip tease, pole dancing, and ballet (en pointe) take on new meaning. The fluidity is striking but any statement being made is up to the audience to interpret, insists McCormick. “I try to not be preachy with our gender bending,” he says. “For me it comes from a place of fantasy and beauty and fun. I hope that the audience leaves a little more expanded or a little seduced or less judgmental.”
Company XIV’s most recent production Ferdinand is all of that: fantastic, sensual, beautiful. You may remember the story. It’s based on a the children’s book about a sensitive Spanish bull who would rather play among the flowers in his field than fight in a ring. His refusal to fight, while disappointing to the people of Spain, ultimately ends in a story of acceptance and finding your own path. It is overwhelmingly positive. For McCormick, that’s the grounding philosophy of burlesque and why he was drawn to it in the first place. “Burlesque always feels very body positive and very much about support,” he said.
Sitting in the audience of a recent production of Ferdinand, I witnessed that support. I can see how empowering a show like this is for both the performers and the audience. Sure, it’s sexy, but it’s more than that. The novelty of the bodies on display quickly wore off and as I watched these powerful performers dance across the stage – in heels and toe shoes – tango with each other and soar through the air with confidence and freedom, I was transfixed.
We spoke to the Company XIV dancers about their relationship to their bodies, their own gender fluidity and what burlesque really means. Below, our photographer, Heins Evander, capture them in their natural element.
Company XIV’s next production, Nutcracker Rouge, is a take on the classic holiday show and begins November 9. For tickets, head here.
“Burlesque is about finding the sexiness inside rather than putting it on. You have to settle into it. It gives you more confidence and helps you accept the things that you don’t always feel comfortable with about your body.”
“I’ve always been very comfortable in my own skin, but when it comes to burlesque, the sexiness comes from what you don’t see. So many people think it’s about nudity, but adding a little mystery is sexier.”
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With a gazillion beauty hair products out there, it’s impossible to find ones that do a fine job without being overly oily, drying, or leaving you with flakes behind. In today’s awards, we give the best hair products some love while also giving some shout outs to our favorite body products. Hair and body go hand in hand in the bathroom, so we thought we ought to lump them together.
As your trusted source, we took the Lightning Awards very seriously***. We went through all of the potions out there, testing concoctions for four entire months to see if their claims were real. The results? We’ve never had better, glistening, healthy skin from using the products we’ve deemed Best Of. We’ve named these products below and hope they work for you as much as they have for us. Now get going! Good skin can be yours – in a flash!
***It goes without saying, these are honest reviews and our opinions were not based on any relationship, monetary gain, or a pay for play situation. AKA we weren’t paid to write any of these we simply are obsessed over these products and hope you love them too.
BEST HAIR MOUSSE: R+Co Pomade Mousse
Remember Justin Timberlake’s *NSYNC ramen hair? He can thank bad hair gel. Lucky for you, gel technology has come a long way. R+Co Pomade Mousse gives you the support and control of a gel with the flexibility and shine of a wax. The lightweight formula provides great hold without the crunch factor. Read: No ramen hair for you.
BEST AFTER SHAVE: Kiehl’s Razor Bump Relief
This after shave is a bestseller, what’s been a favorite for guys for a long time. That’s because its Ginger root extract soothes and absorbs excess oil, Willow herb wards of bacteria, while its no-fuss formula just works. For those who want to say goodbye to razor bump, get this.
This oil quickly absorbs into the skin to hydrate and soften without feeling greasy. Sandalwood and bergamot ingredients create a rich fragrance that’s more “refreshing stroll through the forest” than “sunburnt in South Beach.”
BEST BAR SOAP: Baxter of California Vitamin Cleansing Bar
This pumice infused soap bar provides the smoothing results of a traditional body scrub without the mess. That means you won’t have to clean tiny beads from your shower stall after use. Both a cleanser and scrubber, the product is convenient and effective with a sexy cedar wood and oak moss scent.
Free of sulfates, parabens, phthalates, the Clean line by Ouai is our absolute favorite. It gently cleanses your scalp without over-drying, has a fresh, rose fragrance, while hydrating. After testing this for a week alone, we saw shinier, healthy, less damaged hair. The best hair you’ve ever had, just one shower away? Ouai not?
There are many razor brands out there, which do a decent job at shaving your stubble. But Harry’s razors (Truman and Winston models), aren’t only affordable ($9 and $12, respectively), but sharply made. That’s because they’re manufactured at a German factory that’s been making razors for the past few decades. Not only will you have less strokes, these razors will last you a longer time. Meaning, a faster, cleaner shave that will save you major $$$$ in the long run.
Look, guys need to blow dry their hair too, ok? It helps straighten, de-frizz and lay down the foundation for easier styling. Our pick? Hot Tools Tourmaline Tools 2100 Turbo Ionic Dryer. The ultralight, weighs-less-than-a-water-bottle dryer features an extra quiet but powerful motor that dries hair 50% faster without sounding like a jet taking off. Plus, the bright punchy color and soft touch finish feels good in the hand.
This antiperspirant and deodorant spray seems to absorb almost instantly, leaving skin lightly moisturized but not wet. The invisible formula won’t cause chalky clumps to gather in your armpits or on you shirts, but it will keep you feeling and smelling fresh from AM to PM.
BEST BODY WASH: Lab Series Pro LS All-In-One Shower Gel
There are all-in-one products that seem to be decent at best at their functions. There there’s Lab Series’ Pro LS All-In-One Shower Gel, which does a superb job at cleansing your body, hair and face without over drying. The best part of this gel is that’s it’s really innovative. You can actually make a makeshift bar of soap in the palm of your hands. The gel won’t break its solid form unless you rub it with water. It’s this cool innovation that makes it extremely versatile and for your every need.
Rudy’s matte pomade goes in like butter and washes out like water. The gentle, paraben-free formula has beeswax for moisture while Carnauba wax makes the entire application process smooth. The hold lasts you all day and easily recreates that “just out of bed” look, one that will have your friends guessing if you woke up like that or if you spent hours on end perfecting your look. Keep them guessing.
Open the jar and you’ll swear you’re staring into a juicy acai bowl instead of a body scrub. The product looks good enough to eat but you won’t find a sweet or savory fragrance to match. Formulated with 100% natural ingredients the scent is light but earthy. The scrubbing particles gently polish and hydrate, with most of them absorbing directly into the skin and the rest dissolving easily under water. Both your body and your tub will be glowing afterward.
BEST FRAGRANCE: Maison Louie Marie No. 4 Boi de Balincourt
Oh, Maison Louis Marie, let me count the ways I love you. The brand’s No. 4 Boi de Balincourt fragrance bests any fragrance out there. With top notes including: sandalwood, cedarwood and midnotes of vetiver, nutmeg and cinnamon, base note of amberwood, it’s fresh, sensual, and completely sexy. Roll on the fragrance on your pulse points for a lasting smell that will keep up all day.
The closest shave you’ll get is a catchphrase we’ve heard in shaving for a long time. But Cremo’s shave cream really gets your razor there. That’s because its uniquely thin, foam-free formula is concentrated against your skin, giving it an incredibly slick feel. Meaning, your razor will give you a super smooth, comfortable shave that not only moisturizes, but fights off razor burn and overall irritation.
BEST WET POMADE: Baxter of California Hard Water Pomade
For your best hair ever, try this Baxter of California pomade. First off, it’s completely water-based, meaning you won’t have that all-day greasy feel. It’ll also come right off with water – no shampoo needed. But while other water-based pomades may fall flat when holding your hair together, this formula’s elastic fibers keep your ‘do looking its best all day, without any stiffness.
There may be deodorant snobs who don’t shop drugstore brands. That’s cool. But they’d be remiss if they didn’t at least stop and smell Old Spice’s Lasting Legend. It’s really ~that~ good. The refreshing fragrance is like walking into a forests and breathing in a rainbow waterfall’s mist, where a unicorn is bathing. In all seriousness, this odor-blocker/anti-perspirant duo will keep you fresh your entire day and is the best smelling deodorant we’ve come across.
Coarse kinks? Naughty knots? This leave-in conditioner is awesome at detangling and softening even the most unruliest of hairs. Just a tiny spritz eliminates pulling, breaking and snagging on strands. Bonus: It provides added heat protection!
BEST SALT SPRAY: Sachajuan Ocean Mist Spray
When you want surfer hair, but can’t hang ten, reach for Sachajuan Ocean Mist Spray. The unique salt and sugar combination formula won’t dry out your hair or leave a gritty residue. Spritz on for soft waves, extreme texture and breezy volume. It’s the next best thing to having the ocean right in your backyard.
BEST HAIRSPRAY: Bumble and bumble Strong Finish Firm Hold Hairspray
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We need to talk about your KPOP Idols and their mental illnesses.
I always have and I probably always will. They aren’t particularly prominent these days but they’re there. Even if no one else noticed them or cares, I do, and the childhood scars haven’t gone away.
When I called Dr. David Stoker, a plastic surgeon based in Los Angeles who has been featured on Extreme Makeover Weightloss Edition, the slang he had heard most often was “moobs.” While I’m usually not one to argue with a surgeon, I’ll stick with “man boobs.”
That’s how I ended up being called “Mr. Tits” and “Titty boy.”
I’ll defer to the good doctor on everything else, though. The technical term for man boobs is gynecomastia. It can refer to excess fat, excess breast tissue, excess skin, or even prominent nipples and areolae. Adolescents can have prominent nipples that will go away with age. Older men taking testosterone blockers as part of prostate cancer treatment can develop man boobs. In cases of extreme weight loss, excess skin needs to be removed and the procedure is similar to a mastectomy.
While I should be grateful that I don’t have an extreme case, it doesn’t help much with my own self-image.
Sunscreen smells like shame to me. Whenever I catch of whiff of it I’m transported instantly back to childhood summers, either at a pool or a beach, and having to take off my shirt, apply sunscreen, and, worst of all, reveal my man boobs.
Unfortunately, in childhood, permission to generate cruel nicknames is not granted to those with the greatest wit. That’s how I ended up being called “Mr. Tits” and “Titty boy.” Neither one a bon mot of the highest order.
Once at soccer camp, as I was about to take a throw-in, an opposing player shouted at me, “throw it, you fat lard.” At boy scout camp, as I walked shirtless toward the lake someone said, “boom-baba, boom-baba” like they did for Lardass in Stand By Me.
“Dude, come on, take off your shirt, what is wrong with you?”
That’s another thing, in the dog eat dog world of kiddom – cruelty cascades down. At that same soccer camp, a kid who was larger than I was had to be skins in a scrimmage. He was even more afraid than I was of taking of his shirt, so, he rolled up the sleeves of his t-shirt to his shoulders, creating a makeshift muscle shirt. I had the good fortune to be called shirts, so, naturally, I took the opportunity to mock him. “Dude, come on, take off your shirt, what is wrong with you?” In retrospect, I should have been kind because I knew what he was going through but I saw my chance to deflect some attention from me and I took it.
I asked Dr. Stoker, if most men are comfortable talking about this. He said they weren’t and, in fact, most patients exhibit, “shyness and shame and just heaviness about it that to me frequently seems out of proportion to the condition.”
I know I don’t like talking about it. I was afraid to do a crowdsource post about man boobs on Facebook. So, there was no, “Hey friends, would any of you like to talk about your man boobs for an article I’m writing?” I didn’t want to risk having no one respond nor did I want to put anyone in the position of thinking about their own man boobs if they didn’t have to.
I texted a close friend who had suffered the same fate as mine in high school. I told him that I was writing an article about man boobs and wondered if he wanted to talk to me about his experience. I wouldn’t give his name, I just wanted to get some more perspectives.
He texted back “WHA?” and then avoided all follow up texts.
So, the sample size of the man boobs population that has been interviewed for this article is one. Me. But I think I feel confident speaking for my man-boobed brethren.
Can we laugh about it? Well, sort of.
There are plenty of pop culture references that poke fun at “moobs.” There was an episode of Seinfeld where George worried about his man boobs. He felt them shake while in a bouncing car? He even asked his mother if his grandmother was “bosomy,” trying to suss out if this was genetic. (According to Dr. Stoker, it isn’t. A more relevant indicator for man boobs would be a family history of obesity.) Kramer and Mr. Costanza even went so far as to create the bro/manzier. Will Ferrell did a sketch on SNL holding his man boobs (along with Sarah Michelle Gellar holding her, for lack of a better word, standard boobs). Louis CK even had a bit in which he talked about his man boobs growing in.
And yet none of that made me feel like, “Haha! That’s so me!” It just reminded me of my man boobs and then I immediately wanted to forget about them. I chuckled and then tried to think about anything else.
Even with all of this in my life, I’ve never really considered surgery. I suppose I never hit a point where I said to myself, I have to take care of this. I asked Dr. Stoker if there was a catalytic event that brought people in to see him.
He said many people just come in once they “figure out that there’s a solution to their problem that is very doable.” Another reason is because of a life transition. He had two patients come in who were graduating high school and college. Some patients come in after a divorce. Others come in because they are finally able to afford it. (The surgery will cost you in the neighborhood of five to fifteen thousand dollars. Also, for the record, Dr. Stoker urged using a board certified plastic surgeon who has several examples of before and after photos.)
The doctor asked me if I was considering the surgery.
“No,” I said. “I’m planning to live with my body as is at the moment.”
This isn’t necessarily a happy tale of self-acceptance, though.
The irony of my adult life that I have essentially the same amount of fat on my body as I did as a child. It’s just that the children that I knew who were once so wiry in gym class have grown larger than I have. I’ve even described me as “slim.” This is no doubt helped by the fact that I live in The United States and in a part of the country where it is cold at least seven months out of the year.
I can still see my man boobs, though. Even if no woman I’ve ever been with has said anything, even if I haven’t been taunted for it in over twenty years, I still know they’re there.
“This is how I look and I need to take this damn shirt off.”
Something happened a week or two ago, though. I went for a long run in Prospect Park, a little over six miles. It was really humid and by the end of my run, I was just putting one foot in front of the other to finish. I was drenched with sweat and my shirt was uncomfortable. And so, on this particular day, I did the unthinkable. I took my shirt off. In public. My pale pasty man-boobed self was on display for all to see. As I walked back to my apartment building, I encountered a few neighbors. I was still shirtless. I didn’t run inside. I stretched, then walked slowly up the stairs to my apartment.
As I’ve gotten older, the line between acceptance and resignation has gotten blurrier and blurrier. I thought, “This is how I look and I need to take this damn shirt off.”
I still check my reflection in store windows as I’m walking down the street. I wear dark t-shirts for the slimming effect. But I feel okay about myself, man boobs, love handles, and all.
Now I can direct my attention where it belongs: on my male pattern baldness.
Rob Penty is a writer, improviser, storyteller, and web developer living in Brooklyn, NY. Check out his blog here. Follow him @robpenty.
I'm almost 32-percent positive Daenerys uses this mist to save her pores from dragon filth
I finally embraced my man boobs.
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What’s the sexiest way to get ready for Valentine’s Day?
Apparently, it’s shaving your pubes. And your crotch hair isn’t even what I’m talking about. That’s a given. I’m talking about your backside bush. The ones that seem to be your cushion when you sit down. Yes, your ass hair.
Okay. Cool. If the men’s style bible tells me to shave my buttocks, who am I to disagree? So, for V-Day, I took it upon myself to take their step by step guide and this is what happened.
First thing I did was get an electric clipper, one that GQ suggested. Theirs was a Philips Norelco Bodygroom. I went out and purchased Philips Norelco OneBlade just because it was more affordable. It’s meant for beards, and trimming them, so I figured it would work for my other beard. Ahem.
Nay, it was fxxxing weird.
“Designed with a rounded head to navigate the body’s contours, like those in your asscrack, it’ll help get things tidy right quick,” GQ reviewed of the buzzer.
I buzzed my butt fur and at first, I must say it was a foreign sensation. First off, the vibration was a little weird. Nay, it was f***ing weird. Then, I was super freaked out that I was somehow cut myself back there. No where in the article did it write if I was supposed to clean my hair or cut it while it was wet. I figured it was safer to cut with clippers while dry. Something about lubricating my ass hair with shaving cream with a clipper just didn’t seem safe.
I buzzed my butt fur and at first, I must say it was a foreign sensation.
I don’t know if the GQ writer has a flexible head that twists and contorts like a 90’s Stretch Armstrong doll, or has the ability to gouge out his eyeballs so they can see any angle at any time, or is just, well, boneless. But when I went to look at my behind, I was like, um, lol, I can’t see a thing. Like, was I supposed to prop a mirror somehow to see what I was doing? Should I have asked my girlfriend to come over and do this intimate act of love for me? Or put it on Instagram Live so that at least I could witness my reflection and ask my followers (hi grandma!) to help me find my anal pubes? Or simply close my eyes, shave down there and hope for the best?
Should I have asked my girlfriend to come over and do this intimate act of love for me? Or put it on Instagram Live so that at least I could witness my reflection and ask my followers (hi grandma!) to help me find my anal pubes?
I chose the latter and wished that I actually went and sought out a professional (or my grandma). Not only did I think I was going to scrape my inner anus, I thought it would bleed, I’d get an infection and then surely die, blood gushing from my open wound. So I stopped immediately and went on to the next step.
GQ‘s next move was to “Shave It Away.” Okay, pretty straightforward. The writer instructed that I use a cartridge razor “as opposed to its single-blade safety counterpart.” The reasoning: “While the latter may provide a closer shave on your face, the former will be about a million times easier to navigate the narrow valley of your ass.” Okay.
The article instructed that I use a handheld mirror for a visual on more “hard-to-picture” places. This would have been ideal, except I really didn’t know where to prop the mirror. Was it on my toilet? Was I then supposed to bend over backwards (lol) and look between my legs upside down while looking in the mirror and simultaneously navigating a razor? Like, was this the triangle pose from yoga? This was so much work, guys.
I ended up using shaving cream that was too good of a lubricant that my razor started slipping out of my hands. I started scratching the surface of my anus picturing that it was like my facial hair and went up and down side to side. But after a good few minutes of clumsily shaving, I called it quits as I started scraping and felt a little pain. I panicked and a little blood began mixing with my shaving cream. Absolutely horrified, I could imagine the disaster of a 9-1-1 phone called I’d have to make.
“9-1-1 emergency, how may I help you?”
“I am bleeding to death!”
“Sir, why are you bleeding? Have you been stabbed?”
“Yes, I was shaving my anus and now blood is everywhere!”
“Yes, I was shaving my anus and now blood is everywhere!”
Mortified, I completely stopped what I was doing. For those squeamish like me, GQ suggested perhaps waxing it off was best. Which is a huge f***ing no. To ANYONE reading this, I IMPLORE you to stray FAR from doing this to yourself. Can you imagine waxing somewhere you can’t even see, let alone then ripping your anal skin onto a piece of paper that now has part of your intestines attached to it? Same goes for the publication’s next option: using an epilator. Wait. Epilator? Have you actually used one? That s*** hurts even for your underarms let alone somewhere tender like your buttcrack. NO NO NO NO NO.
Can you imagine waxing somewhere you can’t even see, let alone then ripping your anal skin onto a piece of paper that now has part of your intestines attached to it?
In conclusion, dear readers, I survived. Barely. I licked my wounds and rinsed myself off. Sore, a little confused and absolutely mortified, I realized that GQ certainly cannot be trusted. At least when it comes to shaving your dingleberry tree.
A week later, my ass hair was growing back and I was happy to say that all was scabbing. I then sat down to get back to some emails when I felt a prick. Oh, yeah! I realized. My ass hair was growing back and now it was pricking my anus like that of a prickly cactus. OH FOR THE LOVE OF GOD THIS BURNS. Thanks, GQ.
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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.
Double masking is now officially a thing.
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