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Category : Health & Wellbeing

Beauty & Wellness Beyond The Products: A Best Of Charlotte’s Book Round Up

beauty and wellness beyond the products

Fall is in full swing! And since inner and outer beauty rely on so much more than the products we slather all over our face, body and hair, (make no mistake, effective products have a part to play) we wanted to share some other important facets of holistic beauty we’ve been reading up on lately surrounding the importance of keeping up with daily beauty and wellness regimens, nutrition as well as an exploration of the definition of beauty itself. We hope you enjoy this Charlotte’s Book wellness round up as much as we have.

Sometime Frozen Is Actually Better Than Fresh

Frozen doesn’t mean what it used to. While the idea of frozen food might bring to mind processed pizza or freezer-burned chicken nuggets, when it comes to produce, frozen is actually better. According to Michael Pollan, Author of Omnivore’s Dilemma, “The nutritional quality is just as good-and sometimes even better, because the produce is often picked and frozen at its peak of quality.” Read more.

Facial Fitness: Scam or Glam?

From the ancient Egyptians (you guessed it—another Cleopatra trend) to the Chinese to the French, women have been working on their facial fitness for centuries. It’s already a huge market in Asia—in fact, Christiano Ronaldo endorses a facial fitness tool in Asian markets. But adoption of facial fitness into American skincare regimens has been slow, perhaps because of some healthy skepticism. That said, celebrity facialists from coast to coast swear by it (there’s even a FaceGym inside Selfridges in London!). Read more.

Your Morning Routine Just A Bit More Stimulating

The temperature is dropping, making it a prime time to focus on exfoliation. You’re no longer dealing with summer heat and humidity, which can make skin very sensitive—plus, your tan has gone from fab to drab; it’s time to work on that body glow. Fall is the perfect time for dry brushing! By now you might have heard of the great exfoliating benefits of dry brushing, but there’s more. Thanks to its stimulation of the lymphatic system, you might also start to consider it as part of your wellness routine. Read more.

The Case For Being #Unpretty – Or, Why It’s OK To Take A Break From Perfection

In a world driven by likes and filters, it’s safe to say we are probably the most self-conscious, most objectified, and therefore most tired, disillusioned, and perhaps cyclically depressed generation ever. But that’s just a guess.

And why wouldn’t we be?

We begin our days oh just casually scrolling through flawless #iwokeuplikethis posts, chew our lunches to Facetuned food coma bellies for #foodcoma or #skinnyfat posts, and conclude our pretty standard, unworthy-of-a-post days with popular #makeup selfies of double-filtered, double plumped, fully made-up people, in bed, hash tagged #longday and #tired. This cycle is BEAUTY HELL! Read more.

Hungry for more? Visit our friends at Charlotte’s Book.

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What You Need To Know About Cupping Therapy

what you need to know about cupping

When Michael Phelps prepared to dive into the pool this past summer at the Olympics, millions of spectators were stunned by the rows of large purplish circles that adorned his back. In an instant the ancient modality of cupping resurfaced on a global stage. The record breaking olympic gold medalist practices cupping therapy to heal and support his muscles, joints and immune system which are pushed to the limits all year long by his intense training and then days of competition during the games.

Save Michael Phelps, I knew nothing about cupping and wanted to learn more. I sought a master practitioner in New York City and was introduced to Anton Lee, a third generation licensed acupuncturist with extensive cupping training. Acupuncture is an integral part of cupping. Anton educated me on the basics.

What Is Cupping?

Born of a culture that considered surgery, the act of cutting the body, an affront to their ancestors, (I found this particularly interesting as Judaism forbids the practice of tattoo and most piercings precisely for this reason) until the introduction of antibiotics, cupping was the principal modality of healing not only muscular pain in the body but ailment of major internal organs as well. In fact, prior to the introduction of antibiotics boils were the leading cause of death. Cupping was partly developed as a method for removing the toxic fluids that were contained within the boil. With the introduction of antibiotics cupping began to fall by the wayside where it would become classified, at least in western medicine, as an alternative therapy.

Dispelling Myths

You will read almost everywhere that the practice originated in China. Not true! Anton insisted. It has been practiced all over the world for a few thousands years throughout Asia, Europe, the Americas and the Middle East. Cups were made out of whatever natural resources were available in the region. In the middle east, cups were made of goat horns, while in China they were fashioned from Bamboo. The modern day versions are made of glass and silicone.

What Does This Have To Do With An Olympic Athlete?

Every time we move energy is created which makes blood and fluids circulate through the body. This in and of itself is a good thing. But like anything, too much of a good thing can turn bad. When muscles and tissue are over exerted, it creates a trauma. When there is a trauma to the body, typically blood and fluid flow to the affected area in an effort to repair it. If The body is functioning healthfully, it is extremely efficient and directs energy, blood and fluid to where it is needed to support and heal the area. When this excess fluid is not completely absorbed by the body it can get deposited onto the muscle. This fluid bonds like glue to the muscle and creates a blockage. This can be in the form of a knot that you might get in your neck, or back. This causes pain and is toxic to the body. Just as the person loses his or her typical range of movement, this blockage is stuck. If you’re not an olympic athlete, you may be be susceptible to extreme weather, which can also cause trauma to the body. When it’s cold we condense our bodies physically and this energy creates stagnation. This stagnation is perceived by us as pain.

How Can We Break Up The Blockage?

cupping therapy

By hand. A needle is inserted at the point of pain (Acupuncture is an integral part of cupping) to create the movement of energy, fluid and blood, within the tissue – to break up the proverbial “glue”, then a cup is put over and suction is applied to draw it out into the skin. The skin is not only the largest organ of the body, but the largest filtration organ of the body. Just like the liver filters blood, the lungs filter air and the stomach filters food, similarly the skin filters excess fluid. Skin contains millions of micro vessels – this is why, when we get cut, we heal so quickly. Using the skin’s filtration system the body disposes of what it does not need and recycles what it can use.

The Basics

The more toxic your body is the darker the cup marks will be. In general men tend to present with darker marks as women’s bodies are cleaner due to the menstrual cycle which circulates and cleans out blood and tissue from the body regularly.

My Mini Consultation

Anton is the real deal. Towards the end of our almost two hour meeting, Anton turned to me and asked if he could take my pulse. He told me that I am a worrier. Worry and stress cause the digestive system to slow down. The stomach is considered the mother organ as it filters food that is then distributed to the other organs of the body in order to nourish them. The odd thing is that I have colitis. It turns out that cupping can be used as part of a regimen to heal colitis and other digestive ailments. He also told me to keep an eye on my posture as bad posture wreaks havoc on the body – yes, causing trauma. The odd thing is, as soon as I walked into Anton’s office, I became acutely aware of my posture. It almost felt as if he was communicating telepathically to me nudging me to sit up straight.

Just Scratching The Surface

Cupping is a practice that is tailored specifically for each individual depending on his or her needs and there are many more tools involved in the modality that I did not delve into here. Above I have merely scratched the cupping surface. To schedule a consultation or appointment with Anton, please call Yasmine Djerradine Institut de Beauté at 212-588-1771.

By: Alyssa Barrie Weiss, Twitter: @AlyssaBarrie

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The Effects of Stress on The Body

The Effects of Stress on The Body

I stumbled upon an infographic by The American Institute of Stress stating that almost half of all Americans feel more stressed now as compared to 5 years ago, and 75% of doctor’s visits are due to stress-related ailments. This is not unique to The United States. It is a far reaching global phenomenon. I was intrigued and decided to learn more about how to detect the early signs of stress and how to counteract them.

External Signs of Stress

Those affected by stress tend to look and feel tired and worn down. Under eye puffiness can become more pronounced, skin tone can look dull and become more susceptible to breakouts, hair can begin to thin and the scalp to flake. Though this can be remedied, to an extent, with personal care products, the reality is that you’re stressed and steps must be taken to protect your body inside and out.

The Invisible Effects of Stress

What’s really troubling is that stress has worse effects, which are invisible. When your stress levels are consistently high, there are consequences that can be disturbing, and even life threatening if left unchecked. Hence, it’s important to unwind, laugh, spend time with friends and learn to manage stressful situations.

Effects of Stress on The Body

Stress has effects on all systems of the human body, for instance, studies have shown a direct correlation between chronic muscle pain and musculoskeletal disorders in people who experience chronic stress. 

The respiratory system may also be affected, making breathing somewhat more difficult. This becomes especially problematic for people that suffer from asthma as well as those who are prone to panic attacks. 

Chronic stress is also widely linked to heart ailments. Stress contributes to an increased risk of heart attack, stroke and even inflammation in the circulatory system, affecting vital blood pathways in the body such as the coronary arteries. 

The liver and adrenal glands are another set of organs affected by stress. Elevated stress levels lead to the release of ‘stress hormones’, which result in the production of more glucose. An increase in glucose production means higher blood sugar, which puts individuals at greater risk for diabetes.

A blog post by Aboca highlights the effect of stress on the digestive system, describing how stress can interfere with the entire digestive process and result in gastrointestinal disorders like IBS and constipation. 

Stress Compromises The Immune System

The immune system suffers as well from high stress levels. As explained by Executive Medicine, the natural defense of the body is compromised by stress, which makes individuals more susceptible to viral illnesses like flu.

In short, constant stress has serious impacts on every aspect of the body. Here are some remedies to help overcome and counter stress.

How To Minimize Stress

Exercise is proven to promote wellbeing including stress reduction mentally and physically. Activities like yoga, strength training, jogging and walking can all keep stress in check.

Playing mindless video games for approximately 30 minutes a day aids in stress management. Believe it or not, games like the popular cut and slash Fruit Ninja is an excellent stress reliever. Then there’s classic games such as Slingo which has received positive feedback because of its relaxing attributes. And who could forget the multi-awarded Plants vs. Zombies? These games can effectively help lower overall stress levels.

Getting enough shut eye is perhaps the most important part of the equation. Sleep deprivation is correlated with increased stress levels; therefore, getting the right amount of rest is vital.

While stress can adversely affect our outward appearance, it has more detrimental effects on the internal organs and activities of the body and can lead to serious complications.

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Ovarian Cancer Research Fund Alliance’s 19th Annual Super Saturday

Ovarian Cancer Research Fund Alliance's 19th Annual Super Saturday

On Saturday, July 30th, over 2000 people attended the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund Alliance’s (OCRFA) 19th annual Super Saturday. The highly anticipated event took place in the heart of The Hamptons, on the lush grounds of Nova’s Ark Project in Water Mill, New York. It was hosted by Kelly Ripa, Donna Karan and Gabby Karan de Felice. I spotted loads of other celebrities too including Christy Turlington, Molly Sims, Ingrid Vandebosch, Kristen Taekman and Star Jones.

From humble beginnings

The first Super Saturday took place in 1998. It was held in the backyard of the late Liz Tilberis’ (former Editor-in-Chief of Harper’s Bazaar) home in the Hamptons. She was the then-president of OCRF, and had been diagnosed with the disease herself. From these backyard beginnings, the event has evolved into a day-long, star-studded designer shopping extravaganza attended by over 2,000 people. In addition to 30 – 50% off premier designer brands, there is a children’s carnival and delicious catered lunch (and cocktails, of course). There are always fun “experience tents” as well – you can enjoy an Essie manicure, get a psychic reading and more!

This year’s selection was fantastic! Designers included Ralph Lauren, Vince, Theory, Alice + Olivia, Vilebrequin, Magaschoni and Michael Kors. Beauty brands such as B. Kamins Laboratories and Ahava were also in attendance among many others. All Super Saturday proceeds fund OCRFA’s research initiatives.

So what is behind all the glitz and fanfare?

A not too glamorous story, I’m afraid. For the past 15 years I have been involved with Ovarian Cancer Research Fund Alliance in different capacities. OCRFA has led the way in research, advocacy and support for patients and their families for over 22 years. The organization’s mission is to fund critical research on ovarian cancer and its work has led to earlier detection of the disease and will ultimately lead to a cure.

I was introduced to the organization by a dear friend of my mother’s who ultimately lost her battle with this terrible disease after many years of perseverance. There are people we cross paths with that leave a distinct impression and Ina Feuerstein was one of them. She was such a lovely, warm, positive woman. I admired the joy and kindness that she exuded especially in the face of such a debilitating disease. She inspired me to learn more. I was shocked to learn that most women never presented with symptoms, and by the time the cancer was detected, it was so advanced that it usually amounted to a death sentence.

Moreover, for years, and unfortunately to this day, when women go to their physicians complaining of lower abdominal cramps or bloating, they are usually dismissed and told that they probably just have gas. If women report a change in their eating habits – either a sharp decrease in appetite or feeling full quickly, they are often told that they are probably just stressed or anxious. If they have an increase in the frequency or urgency of urination, women are again brushed off and told that this is what happens with age. Though the tide is beginning to turn, it seems that even amongst the healthcare community’s elite, lady parts and diseases associated with them, tend to be overlooked or dismissed. Many women feeling ashamed that they now fit the stereotypical emotional woman archetype, go home quietly not realizing that these are symptoms of ovarian cancer. Down the road when the disease is finally diagnosed, it’s too late.

Ovarian Cancer seemed to be an important women’s issue that does not receive nearly enough attention and I’m a woman! I wanted to help change that and joined the Jr. Board.

To learn more about Super Saturday and OCRFA, please visit OCRFA.

By: Alyssa Barrie Weiss, Twitter @AlyssaBarrie

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Health Benefits Of Infrared Saunas

Infrared Sauna Health Benefits

I love me some sauna. And when I go in, I go hard. I stay in as long as I can tolerate, and happily spend hours doing a sauna—steam room—cold shower circuit. This ritual doesn’t happen nearly enough for my liking, though.

Here in the U.S., saunas are considered a special treat—a luxury. In many other parts of the world, however, saunas are an integral part of life (there’s basically a sauna for every household in Finland!). Unfortunately for me and my fellow sauna-obsessed Americans, stateside sauna use is reserved for spa days.

Now, if the Higher Dose team has its way, all that will change. And they don’t just want us all sauna more often, they want us all to experience the (heat) wave of the future. Higher Dose’s mission is “to bring the benefits of infrared therapy to health, fitness and yoga”, and I think they’re onto something. Cool-girl yoga spots around New York City are installing Higher Dose’s infrared technology in their studios for the ultimate “hot yoga” classes…wellness meccas like the The Herban Alchemist and Gravity East Village are installing infrared saunas on site for clients’ use and well-respected wellness companies are even installing them in their offices. Just ask Sakura Life, who are elated with their decision to take the in-office infrared plunge.

Intrigued? So was I. I was fortunate enough to experience both and an Infrared Hot Yoga class at Y7 Studio and an infrared sauna session at Gravity East Village. Read on to discover what infrared technology is and why the entire wellness community is feeling the burn.

What is Infrared?

Higher Dose’s patented infrared technology combines full spectrum infrared with clay and carbon/ceramic heaters. Each element in this system boasts its own specific benefits, and they all combine to create a wellness wonder product. Higher Dose uses full spectrum (near, mid and far) infrared, as each type is beneficial in its own way. Near infrared waves penetrate the epidermis, making them optimal for skin rejuvenation, wound healing and overall skin health. Mid infrared wavelengths are beneficial for increasing circulationmimicking the benefits of a passive workout. Regular use of mid range infrared saunas has even been shown to significantly stimulate blood flow, even after the sauna session is completed. (This means you’ll still be reaping the benefits of your sauna sesh when you get home and binge watch Peaky Blinders.)

As the name suggests, far infrared waves have the longest frequency, allowing them to penetrate deep into human tissue. Unlike traditional heat, infrared heat directly warms your body to the core, even though infrared saunas are set at a lower temperature that traditional saunas. In a traditional sauna, you sit in a hot (180-220 degrees) room, and get super-sweaty. In an infrared sauna, the heat (about 150 degrees) heats your body directly, with only 20% of the heat warming the air. Your body absorbs this infrared heat and reacts to it by raising your core temperature. This results in a deep, detoxifying sweat from the cellular level of the skin, where many toxins and heavy metals hide out and accumulate.

Infrared Sauna review

Then there’s the clayyay! From Amazonian to Australian White, clay in its many forms is a long time skincare superstar. If you’re like me, you have a favorite clay mask (or three) you slather on when your pores need decongesting. As part of an infrared sauna system, however, clay does so much more than unclog pores. The clay cleanses and purifies the sauna air, protecting against germs and environmental stressors. It gets to work internally, too: The clay increases the flow of oxygen to the brain, grounds and balances the nervous system, speeds up the oxidation of serotonin, helps the body more efficiently absorb and use oxygen (by emitting negative ions), strengthens the immune system andclay it ain’t soimproves metabolism. Holla!

The last component is a carbon/ceramic combo heater. Combined, this duo produces long wave infrared waves with a high infrared output. This heat penetrates deeper into your body and is more readily absorbed.

I’d be remiss not to mention the gorgeous, fragrant cedar of which the sauna is made. Saunas have long been constructed from cedar, and for good reason: cedar contains aromatic oils known for their healing, cleansing and naturally antibacterial properties, which aid in detoxification during your sauna sesh.

Why is Infrared SO GOOD?

Simply put, Infrared makes you look and feel your best. Far infrared heat provides all the healthy benefits of natural sunlight without any of its dangerous side effects. As infrared heat raises your core body temperature, it stimulates your lymphatic and immune systems. Your body’s response is to sweat profusely. This ain’t just any sweat: Sweat induced from infrared heat is comprised of 20% toxins, whereas sweat induced from traditional heating systems is comprised of only 3% toxinsmaking infrared 7x more detoxifying than traditional heat. How? The far infrared heat causes the water in our bodies “vibrate”, releasing more toxins than regular heat does. This is why far infrared is optimal for detoxification, weight loss and blood pressure reduction.

Even though this all sounds intense, the infrared panels are actually less aggressive than a traditional heating system. While conventional heat is an unnatural process, infrared heat mimics the sun. “Think hot, smoggy Miami heat vs. a fresh, sunny day.” says Higher Dose Co-Founder, Lauren Berlingeri. (I’ll take the latter, thanks!)

Up in the Sauna

As stated above, I love saunas, so I was thrilled to try the infrared sauna at Gravity East Village (where I’d been before for colonics). Gravity East Village is a low-key wellness center run by the knowledgeable and passionate Donna Perrone. Your sauna session is solo, which is great because you can get nekkid (the only way to sauna, IMHO). They give you a towel to sit on and another softer chamois-type cloth to wipe your face with. YOU WILL BE USING THIS CLOTH.

GEV’s unit is equipped with different colored lights for light therapy as well as speakers so you can listen to spa music, if you’re so inclined. The recommend session length is 30 minutes, butalpha female that I amI went for 40. I can see why they recommend 30, though. For those last 10 minutes, I had to put down my magazine and just be in my sauna experience. I was sweating so profusely that, logistically, holding and/or looking at a magazine no longer worked…it was soaked! But you know what? I loved every sweaty second of it. It was intense, yet relaxing…and after, I felt invigorated, rather than so relaxed I’m almost sleepyhow I usually feel post-sauna.

After the Sauna

Once I toweled off, my skin didn’t have the gross, sticky feeling it usually does after a major schvitz session. This was great, since there’s no shower at GEV. There is a bathroom next to the sauna where you can freshen up, however. (Speaking of bathroomsTMI alert: When I peed right after my sauna sesh, it was super dark and…pungent. Coincidence? I think not. Later, toxins!)

I came prepared with Mio Skincare and Ursa Major Wipes. Next time I’ll also bring a bottle of Vine Minus Ion Care Water. I brought a hydrating mist with me, which was great, but the extra antibacterial boost provided by Vine would have been clutch after all that sweating. I was pleasantly surprised when I looked in the mirror after my session. Instead of my skin looking super red and flushed, it looked healthy and glowy. Since any makeup I had on melted off within about 10 minutes in the sauna, I thought for sure I’d need to reapply before I faced the world…but I didn’t. I combed my eyebrows, put on lip balm and walked out the door.

It’s important to rehydrate after the sauna (and really, to walk into the sauna hydrated as well). They recommend coconut water, but I prefer green juice (also recommended). Luckily there is a Juice Press just a few blocks away from GEV, so I downed a Mother Earth, and got on the train home feeling healthy AF.

By: Claire McCormack, Twitter & Instagram

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