#needit: acupressure mat
happy thursday, and welcome to the #needit series! this isn’t really a new series… i’ve just renamed the “healthy lifestyle staples” series… #needit is just way easier to say [it flows better, no?] and feels waaayyyyyy more me [yes, i speak in hashtags sometimes… sue me].
so, let’s get down to business, shall we?
about a year ago, i was introduced to the concept of the acupressure mat by my old boss. he kept one at his desk and the first time i saw it my reaction was, “wtf is that?!” it literally looks like a little pillow with needles on it… not something you immediately would think you would want to own.
he explained to me what it was, the benefits, and how he used it, but i wasn’t really convinced… so, i just forgot about it.
flash forward to a few months ago, and an acupressure mat starts poppin’ up on one of my favorite lifestyle bloggers’ snapchat and instagram stories.. and then, she did a post all about what they are, the benefits, etc., so i figured that an acupressure mat was something i should at least give a try. but, i didn’t feel a real sense of urgency for it, and kind of put it out of my mind… again.
and then… the straw that broke the camel’s back: i was in a car accident [rear-ended on the 10, effing LA] about 2 months ago, and as a result, started having some neck and back pain. i’ve been seeing a chiropractor for treatment, but also felt like i should be doing something daily to help with the recovery and pain management… enter: the acupressure mat.
so, what is an acupressure mat, exactly? so glad you asked! an acupressure mat is pretty much how i described it before… a small mattress and neck pillow set, both of which are covered in little plastic spikes… yes, that’s right… plastic. spikes.
i know that this sounds like pretty much the worst thing ever, but the spikes have a purpose: to stimulate pressure points along the meridian line of the body, which in turn does things like:
- activates feel-good endorphins
- reduces muscle pain and tension, including headaches
- promotes blood circulation and oxygenates the body
- relieves stress and anxiety
- aids in the digestive process
- increases energy and helps with general fatigue
- improves overall sleep quality
not really much that this thing can’t do when it comes to improving your overall health and wellness… and it’s been a go-to in the alternative and eastern medicine communities for a verrrrryyyyyy long time.
so, how do you use it? you lay on it. that’s it. for about 10-20 minutes per day… on your back with your neck on the pillow, on your stomach… you can also sit or stand on the mat to help relieve pain in the lower back, legs, and feet.
over the past month and a half or so, i’ve incorporated this bad boy into my morning routine… i meditate for 15 minutes immediately after waking up each day, and then i go right to the mat for 20 minutes… 10 on my back/neck and 10 on my stomach. i’ll either read or journal while i’m laying there, which makes the time just fly by…
… and i always feel amazing after.
specifically, since i’ve started doing this, not only have i had some relief from the pain and stiffness in my neck caused by the car accident i was in, but i’ve also felt an increase in my energy levels throughout the day [not getting that 2 o’clock feeling anymore!], and have been sleeping much better than i typically do [less waking up throughout the night, it’s easier to get out of bed when my alarm goes off].
i bought this thing for one reason, but i don’t see myself discontinuing the use of it any time soon… if ever.
want to get one for yourself? they’re only $19.99 on amazon, and they’re available on prime, meaning you can start feeling allllllll of the benefits listed above in just 2 days… for less than $20! [this post isn’t sponsored… i seriously just love this thing and want everyone to have one!]
questions? ever used an acupressure mat? if so, how has it improved your life? any other must have products i should try out? i want to hear from you! you can leave a comment below or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!
i went without make-up for 1 week + this is what happened
make-up. one of the things i love to hate and hate to love. i’ve never been one of those girls who cakes on the foundation, chisels out her cheekbones a la kim kardashian, or even knows how to create a smokey eye [but if you are, more power to you], and i’ve always taken a pretty simple approach to my make-up routine. i try to stick to as few natural products as possible… bb creme with spf, a little cheek stain, mascara… done. maybe a little more than this for a night out… but you get the idea.
part of the reason i don’t have a very extensive make-up routine is because i’ve been blessed with pretty clear skin. i never experienced acne the way some people do, but i’m human, after all, and still get the occasional breakout. also, it’s safe to say that i’m not always [re: never] good about taking my make-up off before working out, or before going to bed after a late night… not exactly the best approach to skincare.
… and over the past couple of months, i started seeing exactly the type of things you would expect when you’re working out and sleeping with your make-up on… breakouts… dullness… weird discoloration… and for the life of me i couldn’t find a way to “fix” any of it.
all of this obviously frustrated me… a lot. i started thinking about going back to using face wash and lotions that are full of harmful chemical ingredients… something i’m totally against… but, at least those types of products tend to work… right?
because using these types of products go against just about everything i stand for, i decided to do a little experiment first. what would happen if for a week… just one whole week… i stopped wearing make-up completely, and allowed my skin to breathe… all day every day?
sound scary? it was. make-up has become a crutch for so many of us. i always joke that i can’t go anywhere, including my own kitchen, without having at the very least bb creme and mascara on… and i have friends that are notorious for showing up to go hiking… yes, hiking… in full make-up. i wish i was kidding. i really do.
so, i went for it. no make-up. one week. here’s what happened:
day 1: fully uncomfortable. i felt like i had to give just about everyone i came in contact with a disclaimer that i was purposely going make-up free for a week because i was aware of how bad my skin was, and ask them to not judge me. in retrospect, this is pretty sad… but kind of where we are as a society, right?
day 3: okay, wow, i definitely feel like my skin looks terrible, but this is exactly why i’m doing this. my skin needs a chance to breathe and heal itself. but still, this effing sucks.
day 5: oh, sh*t! all of these blemishes are starting to clear up, aren’t they?! great, this is working.
day 7: damn. my skin hasn’t looked this clear in months. and not only am i noticing the difference, my friends have noticed, too! that must mean things have seriously improved. the blemishes are just about gone, i can actually describe my skin as “glowing” rather than “dull”, and you know what else…
… i feel more confident. weird, right?
after i went without make-up for a week, i realized that it literally doesn’t effing matter. it just doesn’t. my friends didn’t give af when i told them i wasn’t wearing make-up, they didn’t judge me [and they wouldn’t have judged me even if i hadn’t asked them not to]…
… and if they had judged me… then that would have been an entirely different conversation.
this post has turned out to be waaaaayyyyyyy longer than i expected it to be, so, here’s the moral of the story. make-up is great. i’m not giving up make-up. i’m not alicia keys, and this isn’t a new way of life for me. i enjoy using make-up and always will, but i do plan to use less make-up, especially on a day-to-day basis. my daily routine is going to consistent of the bare minimum: bb creme with spf, cheek stain, mascara, maybe a little colored lip or highlighter. easy peasy. nights out? events? i’ll go all out when i feel like it.
this little experiment has taught me that wearing a full face of make-up every single day is just not necessary… unless i want it to be. going forward, i’ll be much more comfortable not only wearing less make-up, but wearing no make-up on the days where i wake up a little late, or my skin needs a break… or when i just don’t effing feel like it.
and never forget: it’s not about whatcha look like, it’s about the kind of person you are. anyone can make themselves look pretty, but if they’re a sh*tty person… that’s way harder to change. and no one likes a sh*tty person.
want to try going make-up free? do it! and then tell me about it! i’d love to hear how it goes… so email me! email@example.com.
5 tips for glowing skin all year round
well, summer is almost officially here and one thing [of the many, many things] i love about summer is how easy my skincare and makeup routines become because… let’s face it… everyone looks better with some color! don’t you wish you could carry around that summer glow all year round?
well, i have good news! you can! here are my tips for glowing skin, even after summer is gone.
1. slather on the sunscreen. okay, this is a no-brainer. i don’t think i really need to elaborate. it’s summer. if you’re going to be outside for an extended period of time, just wear you’re effing sunscreen. please and thank you.
2. go natural with your skincare regimen. when it comes to taking care of your skin, less is more. not only in the number of products you use, but in the ingredients that are in the products you use, as well. i recommend finding an all-natural, toxin-free cleanser, making your own toner from a few simple ingredients and moisturizing with coconut oil. that’s all you need! if you do find yourself needing a spot treatment for those pesky breakouts, tea tree oil works wonders.
3. wear less makeup. makeup… while it does make us look good [in most cases, not all] and many of us can’t imagine going without it, it’s pretty terrible for our skin. foundations and concealers can clog up our pores and make it hard for our skin to breathe and people with sensitive skin will sometimes break out because they are using too much makeup. the summer is a good time to start experimenting with wearing less makeup because, like i said, everyone looks better with a tan! use the next few months to start feeling comfortable leaving the house without being plastered with makeup and if you are going to wear it, invest in high quality, toxin-free products. i personally love just about everything from both tarte and josie maran.
4. start skin brushing. i’ve talked about the benefits of skin brushing before, but there is no better time to start doing this than in the summer, when more of our skin is exposed to the elements than usual. check out this post for the full scoop!
5. eat right. believe it or not, what you put into your body is just as important as what you put on your body when it comes to taking care of your skin. experts recommend eating lots of berries [the antioxidants make our skin look younger], tomatoes [loaded with lycopene, which fights hormones that cause breakouts] and kale [loaded with both a + c vitamins, known for helping to firm the skin up] to fight dryness, redness and breakouts.
diy aloe spritz for sunburnt skin
having been hashtag blessed with the gift of fair, sensitive skin [that was sarcastic, incase you didn’t pick up on that] no matter how high the spf i wear or how often i re-apply sunscreen, i will always, without fail, end up with a sunburn if i expose my skin to the sun for over 30 minutes. if i’m being diligent about applying sunscreen throughout the day, usually my burn will eventually turn to a tan, but the transition from bright red, burnt skin to a healthy, bronze glow can be quite painful.
i’m headed to miami this weekend and in addition to the natural sunscreen i’m packing, i’m also bringing along this homemade post-sun aloe spritz. aloe vera is an obvious choice when it comes to soothing sunburnt skin, but i also added a little lavender essential oil, which has many healing properties, and eucalyptus essential oil, an anti-inflammatory, both of which can help ease the pain of a sunburn and speed up the healing process.
this aloe spritz takes about 15 minutes to make and will definitely be coming along with me on all beach trips from here on out. to make your own, you will need:
- 1 part pulp of aloe vera leaf [see steps 1-3]*
- 2 parts filtered water*
- 10-15 drops lavender essential oil [optional]
- 5-10 drops eucalyptus essential oil [optional]
*ex: if you are using 1/4 c. aloe vera pulp use 1/2 c. water.
to make the aloe spritz:
step 1: first, you’ll need to scoop the pulp from the aloe leaf. to do this, cut the bottom of the leaf off and prop it upright in a bowl/cup for about 10 minutes to allow the yellow resin to drain out. the resin can be a skin irritant, so make sure you don’t skip this part!
step 2: once the resin has been drained from the leaf, slice the skin from the inside of the leaf with a knife or a vegetable peeler, being sure to cut through to the gel-like substance that’s inside.step 3: with a spoon, scoop the desired amount of pulp from the leaf and place it in blender. it may have a pinkish hue to it – this is normal!
step 4: add the water and oils to the blender and blend until well-combined.
step 5: pour the mixture into a spray bottle and spritz onto sunburnt skin!
a couple of things to note: because aloe vera is perishable, this will only keep for about a week, so i don’t recommend making it in large batches. also, the mixture might settle and separate naturally, so shake it up a little bit before spritzing!
my top 3 essential oils + their uses
over the past several weeks, i’ve received a handful of emails from you guys asking about what essential oils i use. i’ve mentioned some different essential oils in a few blog posts here and there, but thought it would be more beneficial to dedicate a post to talking about my favorite ones and what i use them for in more detail.
the three oils that i always have on hand [lavender, tea tree, eucalyptus] are great because they each have more than one benefit and more than one way they can be used, so there’s no need to keep your medicine cabinet stocked with twenty different essential oils at all times [although i would kinda love that, not gonna lie]. here are three essential oils that i recommend having in your home at all times.
- lavender oil: this is definitely my favorite essential oil. it smells amazing and really helps with a few different things. most importantly, it can be used to aid relaxation and promote healthy sleep patterns. staying asleep throughout the night is something i struggle with regularly, so heating a little lavender oil in an oil warmer before i go to sleep can really help me relax and set me up for a restful night’s sleep. i’ll also put a few drops in my humidifier to keep the aroma in the air throughout the entire night. lavender oil can also be used to ease headaches by inhaling the aroma or applying it directly to the temples.
- tea tree oil: i use tea tree oil for so many different things at this point that i don’t even know where to begin! tea tree oil is a natural anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-septic, so it’s uses and benefits cover a lot of ground. it does have a little bit of a harsh scent that takes some getting used to, but i still recommend keeping this one around. personally, i use tea tree oil in my homemade facial toner and as a spot treatment, as it’s anti-bacterial properties help to fight breakouts. i’ll also use it to ease cuts, scrapes or burns in place of neosporin.
- eucalyptus oil: i find that i use eucalyptus oil most often in the winter months when i’m feeling under the weather, as it offers relief to the respiratory system. there are a few ways you can use it, but what i recommend is placing a few drops at the back of the shower as soon as the water is hot, which will create a steam that when breathed in can help ease a cough, sore throat and irritation in the sinuses. because it’s anti-inflammatory, eucalyptus can also soothe sore muscles when applied and massaged directly into the affected area.
if you’re going to start experimenting with essential oils, i recommend investing in high-quality, therapeutic grade, u.s.d.a. organic versions. while they will be a little more expensive, you’re going to experience more of the benefits these babies have to offer with a higher quality oil. i personally love aura cacia products, which you can order online directly from their site or pick up at most health food stores. a few other essential oils that i also recommend checking out are peppermint oil for indigestion [place 2-3 drops in an 8 oz. glass of water] and lemongrass as an insect repellant.
have you experimented with essential oils before? what ones? how did you like them? would love to hear from you in the comments below or via firstname.lastname@example.org!
avocado hair mask for healthy hair
in an effort to eliminate harsh chemicals and other nasty products from my beauty and self-care regimen, i have started experimenting with making my own products here and there. i make my own facial toner and eventually want to try the d.i.y. option for pretty much everything i use on a daily basis. it’s so much safer and actually really fun, fairly easy and allows me to know exactly what i’m putting on my body on a daily basis. if i’m careful about what i eat, shouldn’t i be monitoring what i put on my body as well?
i’m kind of obsessed with my hair [what girl isn’t?] and try to make sure i’m taking really good care of it so that it looks, feels and most importantly actually is healthy. i’ve started using natural shampoos and conditioners and through trial and error have found a company the works for me, but sometimes i still want my hair to have that smooth, silky, just-left-the-salon feeling without all of the harsh chemicals that are typically used to achieve that. this avocado hair mask does just the trick. you only need three ingredients and about 30 minutes… you’ll be blown away by the results. the benefits of this avocado hair mask look like this:
- avocado: avocados are loaded with healthy fats, so they act as a moisturizer when applied to the hair, promote hair growth and prevent hair loss
- egg: a natural source of protein, the egg will help to strengthen your locks and help prevent split ends and broken strands
- coconut oil: i’ve talked about coconut oil before, but here, it will help to heal damaged hairs and leave your hair super shiny
for one avocado hair mask you will need:
- 1/2 of an avocado [at the same point you would eat it at]
- 1 egg
- 2 tbsp. coconut oil [melted, so that it’s in liquid form]
crack the egg into a bowl and whisk the coconut oil in, adding the avocado last and mashing all three ingredients together with a fork. apply the mixture to damp hair [really work it in there, the same way you would with shampoo/conditioner] and allow it to sit for 20-30 minutes. it’s a little bit messy, so i wrapped my hair up in an old towel to prevent the mask from dripping everywhere. after the mask has had some time to sit, hop in the shower and wash your hair the same way you normally would. if possible, allow your hair to air-dry instead of using a blowdryer.
voilà! silky, shiny, strong and healthy hair sans chemicals!
healthy lifestyle staples: skin brushing
the healthy lifestyle staples series here at bananas + bellinis is something that i think is really important. not only do i get to give you a glimpse of some of the things i do/use on a regular basis, i also get to show you how easy it can be to incorporate healthy habits into your day-to-day life.
today, i want to add another item to my list of healthy lifestyle staples: skin brushing. skin brushing is known to have many health and beauty benefits, such as reducing cellulite, stimulating the lymphatic system, aiding digestion and detoxification of the body, increasing energy and circulation and exfoliating the skin.
the skin is the largest organ in the body and its job is essentially to protect us from anything that might be harmful [toxins, germs, viruses, bacteria, etc]. if the skin is not well taken care of, it’s ability to protect us decreases. skin brushing is an easy way to keep the skin in tip-top shape as a part of your regular skincare regimen.
so, how does it work? by stimulating the skin, you’re essentially getting a bunch of the other systems in your body working. it’s best to do first thing in the morning before showering when your skin is dry and your system is relaxed. you should always brush in the direction of your heart, as this is the way the lymphatic system naturally flows. start with the soles of your feet [the nerve endings there are connected to your entire body], working your way up your legs, over your stomach, booty, hands, arms, chest [ladies, be sure to avoid the ladies, if ya catch my drift] and down your back [see the diagram below]. because you’ve just exfoliated, showering after skin brushing is the best way to go so that you can wash away all of the the dead skins cells. apply some lotion [or coconut oil!] after your shower to soothe the skin and moisturize. you should notice a difference in how your skin looks and feels almost immediately.
a few things to keep in mind when skin brushing:
- don’t brush too hard, you don’t want to irritate the skin
- skip over any cuts, rashes, irritations or varicose veins
- leave your face and neck alone since the skin there is so sensitive
ready to give skin brushing a try? you can buy a skin brush at most drug or health food stores for under $20. you can always order one online, too!
diagram courtesy of healthy lifestyle choices 101
3 reasons you should start oil pulling
oil pulling is one of those things i had known about for a really long time before taking the plunge and trying it out for myself. i mean… who wants to swish a tablespoon of oil around in their mouth for 20 minutes? not me… or so i thought.
after doing more research and reading about all of the amazing health benefits of oil pulling, my curiosity got the best of me and I decided to give it a try. oil pulling is an ancient ayurvedic practice that is said to rid not only the mouth, but the entire body, of harmful toxins while restoring balance throughout your system. as you might have guessed, once i started oil pulling, i became obsessed with it.
basically, all you do is pick an oil [i recommend coconut oil because of it’s strong anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties and mild taste], swish around a tablespoon of it in your mouth for 15-20 minutes on an empty stomach and spit the oil out into the trash can, not the sink. it was easiest to work into my daily routine by taking a spoonful of oil right before brushing my teeth and hopping in the shower in the morning. here are three reasons you should make it part of your day-to-day routine, as well!
- it improves oral health. after just a few days you should notice whiter teeth and better breath. over time oil pulling will also build up the strength of your teeth and gums.
- it can reduce the symptoms of allergies. this includes sinus congestion, mucus build up in the chest and that terrible dried out feeling you sometimes experience in your sinuses.
- it can improve skin issues. because oil pulling rids the entire body of toxins, many have experienced clearer skin and reduced severity of eczema after oil pulling regularly. this can be super helpful even if you don’t experience severe acne, especially in the cold, dry winter months.
other reported benefits of oil pulling include reduction of sleep issues, elevated energy levels, reduced inflammation, improved kidney function, correction of hormone imbalances and, my personal favorite, alleviated symptoms of a hangover.
i recommend trying this out for at least a week to see what kinds of changes you notice before making a decision about it one way or another. the first few times can be kind of rough [swishing around a spoonful of oil in your mouth is definitely something that takes time to get used to] and if you can’t make it through the entire 20 minutes at first, don’t worry! you’ll slowly get used to it and once you start seeing and feeling the benefits, you’ll probably wonder how you ever lived without it.
image courtesy of green med tv
healthy lifestyle staples: tongue scraping
okay, i know what you’re thinking. tongue scraping? is she serious? what even is that?! well, i’m 100% serious and after you read this article, i guarantee you’ll go buy yourself a tongue scraper and love it.
so, why is this a healthy lifestyle staple? tongue scraping, or jiva shodhana in sanskrit, is an ancient ayurvedic practice that is known for not only keeping your mouth extra clean, but can help to detoxify the entire body, as well. here are three great reasons to start using a tongue scraper asap:
- it improves oral health. because tongue scraping removes the bacteria that forms on your tongue throughout the day, it will ultimately leave you with fresher breath, less plaque buildup and healthier gums. it can also reduce your chances of getting cavities.
- it aids digestion. tongue scraping will clear up your taste buds so that you can really taste the food you are eating and begin the digestion process smoothly. digestion begins with salivation and if you can’t truly taste your food, your body won’t know how to properly begin to break it down, which can screw up the whole process. and no one wants that.
- it boosts your immunity. because the tongue is the first line of defense in your immune system, removing toxins and bacteria from it can prevent them from being reabsorbed into the body, which is especially important during cold and flu season.
i know that this sounds really weird, but give it a try. i guarantee once you start you will wonder how you have ever gone without doing it. it’s best to do it twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening, right after you brush your teeth. i personally use this tongue scraper by dr. tung’s. the stainless steel versions are preferable to the plastic ones and you can purchase one on amazon for around $5-$7.
image courtesy of the chalkboard
relax with a detox bath
well, it’s finally friday. after a particularly brutal week, when the clock hits 5, i plan on heading straight home and just relaxing. i know we all have those weeks where friday night = sweats, couch, seamless, netflix. i’ll be honest, this is how most of my friday evenings are spent these days. friday night is the perfect time to unwind, put the week behind you and head into the weekend on the right foot. if your friday night relaxation routine could use a little something extra, a detox bath might be just the thing you need.
a detox bath is a great way to cleanse your system, reduce the physical and mental manifestations of stress and stimulate the metabolic process by draining toxins from your system, replenishing important minerals and re-balancing your pH. ready to [literally] jump in?! you will need:
- 1 c. epsom salt
- 1/4 c. sea salt or natural, organic bath salts [i use this one]
- 1/4 c. baking soda
- 1/3 c. raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar
- 10-20 drops of your favorite essential oil [i love lavender or lemongrass]
draw a bath as hot as you can stand so that you can sweat all the toxins out [i like mine super hot] and pour all of the ingredients into the tub. swirl the water around with your foot a few times to make sure that everything is evenly distributed. light a few candles, put on some relaxing music, [optional: pour yourself a glass of wine] and soak for 30-45 minutes. i like to rinse off in a cool shower after i soak, but this isn’t necessary. also, make sure you drink plenty of water before and after to avoid dehydration.
photo courtesy of green chi cafe
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