These days, everyone wants to be vegan! And gluten free! And all natural! But when it comes to beauty products, are these just bullshit marketing ploys to convince you to buy the products, or do they actually hold value? Well, thanks to major loopholes in federal laws (and according to the FDA’s website), the FDA doesn’t have a list of approved or accepted claims for cosmetics—odds are, they’re most likely meaningless. But *extremely JLo voice* because we’re real, we’re here to clear up all of the confusion about the misleading beauty terms associated with some of the products on the market right now.
So if you’re overwhelmed with trying to figure out which products contain ingredients that are actually safe for you, and which are using fancy buzzwords and misleading beauty terms to try to trick you, keep an eye out for these words and phrases.
1. All Natural
What you want “all natural” to mean versus what you think it means is a lot like those “you vs. the girl he tells you not to worry about” memes. If a label claims a product is all natural, all it really means is that some of the ingredients are plant or mineral-based versus synthetic. That itself in no way guarantees that the product is safe since the FDA doesn’t regulate it. If you want to know if a brand is really committed to being natural, check for certifications by organizations like the Natural Products Association, BDIH and EcoCert. Unlike the FDA, these third-party organizations have standards that products have to meet in order to earn their approval.
By FDA standards, a “non-toxic” label literally just means that the company left out ingredients in the product linked to toxic reactions in humans: neuro or hormone-disruption, cancer, and death. Cool, thanks for looking out! In general, a good rule of thumb is to check the ingredients list for major no-nos like formaldehyde, petroleum, hydrous magnesium silicate (aka asbestos) and lead acetate.
What does “chemical-free’ on beauty products mean? Nothing, that’s what. It’s really one of the most misleading beauty terms out there. A chemical-free label really makes the marketers behind the products look like incompetent people that didn’t pass seventh grade science, because it’s literally impossible to have a chemical-free product since chemicals are any forms of matter or pure substances. To illustrate this point, I asked my friend with a B.S. in chemistry about this, and she said, “Excuse me. Water is a chemical. Its name is dihydrogen monoxide. Just because you can’t pronounce it doesn’t mean it’s scary.” What these companies probably want you to believe is that the product is free of synthetic chemicals, and maybe it is. But there’s nothing inherently bad about synthetic chemicals, the same way there’s nothing inherently good about many non-synthetic chemicals.
If a product claims it’s vegan, then it’s saying that the product does not contain any animal products or byproducts. To ensure that that claim is true, look for logos by Vegan Action or Vegan Society, third party organizations that actually regulate the term and confirm that the product does not contain any animal-derived ingredients. However, just because a product is vegan, that doesn’t necessarily mean the product wasn’t tested on animals. To make sure that the product wasn’t tested on animals, look for PETA’s little pink and white bunny logo.
Once again, the FDA does fuck-all when it comes to regulating the term “organic” on beauty product labels. If a product claims it’s organic, all it really means is that the raw ingredients contain no chemical pesticides. But the products themselves? They could (and probably do) still contain preservatives. If you want to know if a product’s really organic or not, check the label for terms like “parabens,” “phenoxyethanol,” and “benzoic acid/sodium benzoate.” Those are signs that some inorganic shit is in there.
6. Dermatologist Approved
A dermatologist may have approved the product, it’s true. But that dermatologist could be literally any Tom, Dick or Harry from Nowheresville, U.S.A. It also doesn’t mean that the product has gone through any standardized testing. “Dermatologist approved” most likely means that said derm knows that the product may work. But it doesn’t mean that they’ve evaluated the safety of the ingredients in the product.
The takeaway? If you are conscious about what you’re putting on your body, good for you! It’s a good idea to read the label to check for ingredients that you might not want to put on your skin.
Images: Shutterstock; Giphy (6)
Kourtney Kardashian is proof that your body can actually look better with age. She’s also proof that people seriously buy that shit you pass in Whole Foods and ask, “Organic mushroom cordyceps? WTF has this world become?” Aside from working out on a daily basis and adhering to a strict gluten-free, dairy-free diet, Kourtney Kardashian’s diet includes shit-ton of weird supplements and wellness tricks. Like, it’s worse than you’d think. I’ve always been down to try different wellness routines and health tricks, so I took a look at Kourtney’s daily routine and picked five wellness rituals I thought I’d be able to stick to for a solid amount of time. I quickly eschewed the spoonful of ghee butter every morning, but I found five that seemed realistic. Here’s what I learned.
1. Probiotic Supplement
I’ve already raved about the benefits of daily probiotics on this site, so this one was easy for me to take on. I’ve taken different multivitamins and iron supplements in the past and had never actually felt their effects, but when it came to taking a probiotic, it was a game-changer. Probiotics are basically healthy bacteria for your gut, and they help balance the microbiome in our bodies. They’re supposed to improve the immune system, lower blood pressure, and help regulate digestion. I took one in the morning before my coffee, and within a couple days, I already felt like my digestion was better and my stomach didn’t hurt at all during the day. IDK what brand Kourtney Kardashian’s diet includes but I assume they’re all pretty similar, so get on board.
2. Apple Cider Vinegar
Kourtney has raved about this one for a while now: The daily ACV. Kourtney drinks a tablespoon of organic apple cider vinegar mixed with water in the morning, and she claims it does wonders for her skin and body. I was kinda skeptical about this one because the idea of drinking vinegar on an empty stomach makes me wanna hurl, but I sucked it up and did it. Honestly, I’m not sure if it did anything for me. It actually made my esophagus feel pretty acidic and weird, and mixing it with water just made it taste like watered down vinegar. Not a fan.
3. Vegan Probiotic Shot
A key part of Kourtney Kardashian’s diet is the vegan probiotic shot that she takes in the morning before her avocado pudding, and honestly I still don’t know what this is. Luckily I live down the street from Pressed Juicery so I asked them for anything that related to a vegan probiotic shot. They gave me their Digestion Shot, which turned out to be a tiny bottled concoction of ginger, probiotics, parsley, aloe vera, celery, moringa, and yup—that goddamn apple cider vinegar again. The actual shot tasted pretty good and it wasn’t hard to get down. I’ve taken ginger shots in the past when I’ve felt a cold coming on, and this was a piece of cake compared to those things. But like, not actual cake, obviously. It’s essentially a shot of celery and aloe vera. Keep expectations low.
4. Gallon Of Water
I know a gallon of water seems like a lot, but if you’ve watched enough episodes of Keeping Up, you know what the Kardashian’s supply of refrigerated Smart Waters looks like, so it’s not that surprising that this girl is chugging water all day. If I had a designated fridge for water I’d probably drink more of it, too. Anyway, drinking a gallon of water everyday was difficult, especially in the winter. When it’s warm out it’s probably easy to get more water down, but I live in New York City and I don’t really feel like chugging a 24-pack of Poland Spring when I’d rather be sipping on a hot cocoa. I was also running to the bathroom to pee every five minutes. Why don’t they show that on the show?
5. Vegan Protein Supplement
Kourtney eats a lot of lean protein sources, like grilled chicken, fish, and eggs, but she also adds vegan protein powder to her post-workout shakes for some added protein. Once again, IDK what brand Kourtney uses, but I bought an organic blend of pea protein and brown rice protein from Whole Foods and mixed it with vanilla almond milk after my workout. Honestly, it was pretty good. Vegan protein is known for being a little more grainy and not as creamy as whey protein powders, but after an aggressive shake, the powder mixed pretty well and tasted kinda like a watered down vanilla milkshake. It sounds gross but like, it’s a vegan protein shake… IDK what I expected. Whatever, I’m getting cheese fries.
Images: Giphy (5); Shutterstock
Sometimes I scroll through Instagram and wonder if someone switched my settings to only show posts about people’s diets. Like, I don’t care about your Sunday meal prep, your gluten-free Paleo bread, or your #Whole30 results. I feel personally victimized by diets. I eat pretty healthy on my own and I don’t like being told what to eat. But recently, a couple of my friends started raving about a diet that caught my attention: Intermittent Fasting. In case you’ve never heard of it, you essentially eat whatever you want in a specific window of time, and then you fast for the rest of the day. The alleged results? Increased energy, better long-term health, mental clarity, and weight loss. I did some research and decided to try it out for myself. Here’s what I learned.
Before trying the diet, I did a ton of research on IF (lesson one: that’s what the cool kids call it) and it turns out people structure their fasts differently. Most people fast for about 16 hours and eat for eight, but some people take their fasts for even longer than that. Unlike many modern diets that advise you to eat small meals every few hours to keep your metabolism on its toes, IF preaches the opposite.
The idea is to fast for most of the day, and then eat 2-3 big meals within your eating window. So, instead of ordering a Skinny Latte and a scooped out bagel within minutes of waking up, I would have to wait it out and break my fast around 1 pm like the rest of the IF elitists. And yes, that dieting superiority complex totally comes with it. Like, are you seriously eating breakfast right now? Have some self-control.
You can drink zero calorie beverages and sugar-free gum during the fasting phase, and some people say you can even have a few nuts or berries if you need to, but for the most part, you’re consuming nothing. Let’s just say that by the time the eating window comes and you’re allowed to break the fast, you literally cherish those eight hours like they’re your last eight hours on this planet. I mean, unless you’re willing to split a deluxe sushi boat with four appetizers and no talking whatsoever, we’re not making lunch plans.
When I first heard about IF, I immediately called bullshit. I mean, there’s no way that consuming all your calories in an eight-hour window is good for you. It went against everything I knew about eating every few hours and listening to your body. Then I did some research and spoke to a few people who swear by it, and it turns out there might be some magic to this shit. I decided to be a responsible adult and look into the science behind the diet and its claims before starting. You should also know that I needed my sources to dramatically dumb this down for me, because well, I took science pass/fail freshman year and barely passed.
So let’s talk about what happens to your body during intermittent fasting. When you fast, your insulin levels drop and your growth hormone increases. That means your body is more likely to burn fat, reduce oxidative stress, and reduce inflammation. Oxidative stress is what ages your body and could cause chronic diseases, so people say fasting has long-term benefits for your heart health and bodily functions.
Aside from preventing chronic illness and increasing your energy levels, there’s also the weight loss promise. People on social media swear that they’ve lost half their body fat by fasting, and I honestly wasn’t sure if this diet was some code we were using for Lipo. I mean, those before and after pics are so annoying but I can’t seem to look away.
Anyway, losing weight on this diet is two-fold. Firstly, your actual caloric intake for the day will probably go down if you’re not eating for most of the day. It’s that simple. If you’re eating fewer calories, you’ll probably lose weight. Secondly, when your insulin levels lower and your growth hormone levels increase, the noradrenaline in your body increases the breakdown of body fat and uses the fat for energy. So, you’re actually boosting your metabolism in the process and allowing your body to burn more fat while at rest. Take that, apple cider vinegar shot.
To be clear, I did intermittent fasting for no more than four days and basically gave up before the whole “it takes a few days to get used to it but then it gets sooo much easier” stage. To really get the most out of IF, you need to do it for at least a week or two to train your body. It takes a while to get the hang of it, and I was impatient and frankly just over the whole thing.
I fully acknowledge that I did it wrong, but I thought I’d share my experience anyway.
The first day was the hardest. I was told that at first I’d obviously be starving, and for me, this was especially prevalent. I’m a huge breakfast eater, and I’m also a regular snacker. If I don’t have packets of raw cashews and mini M&M’s in my handbag at all times, I’m not well. I could go through each day individually, but all four days were equally as difficult. Like, really difficult. First of all, I tend to work out in the morning and I need food directly afterwards. It’s kind of a non-negotiable for me, and frankly I don’t even understand people who aren’t starving after the gym. One 45-minute workout and I literally feel like Jennifer Lawrence after dieting a month before the Oscars.
I realized on the second day that once it was time to sit down and do work with nothing in my system but a black iced coffee, I had already gone somewhat crazy. People told me they felt increased mental clarity and an overall energy boost during their fasting periods, but I was too busy Googling pictures of grilled cheese to even think about that.
You probably think after reading my experience that I wouldn’t recommend IF to anyone, but here’s the thing I realized: Even though I almost died of starvation and had to quit a few days in, I think a lot of people I know would actually kill it on this diet. If you’re not a breakfast person and you’re not much of a snacker, you’ll have no problem waiting until your eating window. And if you’re unemployed and you can sleep until noon on a weekday, you’re golden.
I’m not saying this diet is for everyone, but if it has this many proven health benefits and cult followers, it’s worth a shot. Plus, people who stick with it for a long time end up looking and feeling amazing. You can even try it for yourself and let me know how it goes. Just please don’t Instagram a before and after pic. For everyone’s sake.
Images: Brooke Lark / Unsplash. Giphy (7).