Celebrities Music Pop Culture

“You’re probably with that blonde girl”: Olivia, Sabrina, and Joshua’s PR Triangle

I’m going to blame society’s collective obsession with Olivia Rodrigo, Joshua Bassett, and Sabrina Carpenter on the fact that most of us are stuck in our homes and have nothing else to do or talk about. But surely everyone realizes it’s all a publicity stunt? 

When my friend messaged me asking if I had heard “Drivers License” (still bothers me how it’s missing an apostrophe…) I told her no. Immediately, she sent me the music video and proceeded to text me about the celebrity teen’s heartbreak. If you, by some miracle, don’t know what I’m talking about, here’s the 411. Seventeen-year-old Olivia Rodrigo is heartbroken because Joshua Bassett, her HSMTMTS co-star, is now rumored to be with fellow actress-singer Sabrina Carpenter. 

Let’s fast forward to now where Olivia Rodrigo’s song is now one of the biggest hits ever. 

I have nothing against this song. It’s an enjoyable teenage breakup song, but let’s be real here: this song would not be this popular if it weren’t for the drama that surrounded it. I can never prove this, but there are hundreds of good songs about heartbreak that haven’t received even half the attention as “Drivers License”. While Olivia has a following due to High School Musical The Musical The Series, this song has reached way beyond that realm of fans.

Why? This song created a drama beyond some lyrics about random, obscure people.

The original version of the song, that Olivia sang live last year, was meant to have the word “brunette” when singing about her love’s new beau. When the official version was released this month, fans were quick to figure the “blonde” must be Sabrina Carpenter. People are accusing her of ruining Olivia’s relationship with Joshua and are unimpressed with this year’s Forbes’ 30 under 30 winner, Sabrina. 

But let’s all get one thing straight, fame is fickle. Being a successful celebrity means you just need to be talked about. There’s a reason the phrase “there’s no such thing as bad publicity” exists. And frankly, all of this was just a publicity stunt. 


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Olivia Rodrigo (@olivia.rodrigo)

Thousands of people are still talking about “Drivers License” and Sabrina’s new single “Skin”. People have rallied behind Olivia’s heartbreak, posting memes disappointed with Sabrina’s response. However, Sabrina has recently stated that, while her song may reference Olivia, it is not solely about her. She posted on her Instagram: 


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Sabrina Carpenter (@sabrinacarpenter)

Despite the “drama” being due to a boy, few have fully discussed Joshua Bassett amid all the hate towards Sabrina (the usual double standards, because of course the girl gets all the blame). That being said, ironically, Joshua’s new release “Lie Lie Lie” is doing the worst out of all three songs.

That’s right: all three of these people happen to have new songs out all within days of each other. Due to this juicy PR stunt, Joshua’s worst is still better than it would have been without all the gossip. On top of that, Joshua has also just released a second new song today, “Only a Matter of Time“. The song is supposedly about his experience with haters on social media in 2020, but of course, people are still trying to dissect the lyrics for more references to the triangle. 

It’s too soon to know the success of “Only a Matter of Time”, but people were talking about it all over the internet in anticipation and as of right now it has more than 70,000 views on YouTube in less than 20 minutes.

His other song from last week “Lie Lie Lie” made its debut on the Billboard Bubbling Under Hot 100 Chart within about a week of its release. There are millions of songs in the world and I doubt this one would have made it on this list at all without the love triangle gossip. I personally would have listened to Sabrina Carpenter’s song since I follow her music, but would it have thrived so much so quickly? Would it have been #6 on the US iTunes, #4 on the US Spotify chart, #33 on the worldwide chart and have received 1,857,698 opening day streams? Probably not. And then we have the song that started it all, Olivia Rodrigo’s first debut single. “Drivers License” has broken records and is currently #1 on Billboard’s Top 100.   

I won’t say the song doesn’t deserve to be on top charts, but her marketing team knew that pushing the narrative of Olivia’s ex and his new girl would be a great way to get the song on everyone’s playlist. Sabrina and Joshua obviously didn’t mind because their songs also benefit from the attention, despite it being pretty negative. 

All of this to say, the internet and fans may just be a little too invested in drama that isn’t as big as we think because this tweet sums up the reality: 

Nearly a year of quarantine has truly done a number on us.

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Makeup Skin Care History Ancient Practices Beauty

Did women in Ancient Greece have a skincare routine?

Throughout quarantine, I have become mildly obsessed with skincare and taking care of my skin. And by mildly, I mean I have completely changed my skincare routine about 20 times in the past few months. I’ve learned a lot about skincare over the summer, and used that information to alter my routine accordingly. And unfortunately, I cannot even tell you how many hours I have spent watching YouTube videos on skincare and reading the endless amounts of beauty reviews on Sephora’s website.

My newfound love for skincare made me curious about what skincare and beauty ingredients have been used throughout history. So, as a lover of skincare and Greek mythology, I thought I would take a look at the beauty and skincare beliefs, practices, and techniques used in Ancient Greece. And most importantly, try to figure out how to make my skin glow like a Greek goddess!

Skincare has been important in many different cultures and each culture has its own unique techniques to keep their skin glowing and healthy. Cosmetics and physical beauty were especially important in Ancient Greek culture, so having clear, smooth, and soft skin was a must. Clear and smooth skin is something that I definitely strive for at all times.  I’m not always successful, but I give it my best try.

Unfortunately, not all the tips and tricks I found were super helpful. Ancient Greek societies did have some unsafe practices. For example, they used harmful chalks and lead to whiten their skin due to their society’s beauty standards that idolized light skin.  With that exception, a majority of the ingredients that they used are still found in plenty of products today.

Women in high society in Ancient Greece culture wore makeup daily. Their cosmetic products used different flowers, herbs, pigments, and natural resources. To make eyeliner, they would use olive oil and charcoal. They even used olive oil and charcoal to fill in their brows. For their lips, they would mix beeswax and red iron oxide for a shiny lip balm. Iron oxides are still used in cosmetics products today,  but, thankfully, are now made in a lab for safety! Naturally produced iron oxide in uncontrolled settings typically contain heavy metals. Beeswax is still a popular ingredient in lip moisturizing compounds and products today. The Mayo Clinic reported that it is one of the best ingredients to lock in moisture and even helps block the sun.

In terms of taking care of the skin, Ancient Greek women certainly had impressive DIY skills. Olive oil was an essential ingredient in Greek skincare. In products today, olive oil is still used to moisturize and renew skin cells. Herbs, flowers, vegetables, and fruits indigenous to Greece were used in addition to olive oil. The rose was considered to be the “queen of flowers.” Rose oil and rose water were used in a lot of products to soothe, cleanse, and nourish dry skin. Additional benefits of rose oil and rose water include anti-aging, hydration, repairing skin cells, and balancing pH levels.

Along with beeswax, honey was another beneficial and well-used ingredient in their skincare products. It was used in their face masks and body scrubs. Honey has anti-inflammatory properties and helps with the removal of dead skin cells. Lastly, milk and yogurt were considered to be luxury ingredients in Ancient Greece because of their skin-softening properties. Milk was often mixed with honey in many products, while yogurt was viewed as a special ingredient that soothed sunburns and helped remove dead skin cells.

With the help of modern technology and sciences, skincare and cosmetics brands have found their own ways to incorporate the key ingredients of  Ancient Greek skincare into their products. In actuality, the basics of skincare in Ancient Greece and today are not that different, which means I’m basically already a Greek goddess. There are plenty of rose water toners, olive oil lotions, and milk and honey scrubs out on the market for us to try. At this point, I’ve probably tried about half of them, but cannot wait to try more!

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Shopping Gift Guides Unique Parents Kids 2020 Gift Guide

31 stunning Eid gifts you can get from women-owned businesses

If you’ve still got Eid gifts to buy, eyes bleary from scrolling through shops online, then you’re in luck. These brands have you covered with one-of-a-kind gifts for family, friends, and loved ones. We’ve gathered some of our favorite products and treated you with some special The Tempest discount codes and offers!

1. Daily Glow Collection from By Noussou

A woman wearing the Maskquerade Facial Mask holds up the black tub of Noussou product.
[Image Description: A woman wearing the Maskquerade Facial Mask holds up the black tub of Noussou product]. Via @misspalettable_ on Instagram.

Give the gift of an everlasting glow with this cleanser, toner, and serum combo. Trust us when we say that the Army of Youth Serum is out of this world! By Noussou is founded by UAE-based sisters on a journey to provide a range of all-natural, vegan and chemical-free skincare products so that women can safely pursue clearer skin.

Get it on their website for 180 AED. Or use the code: FRESH15 for a 15% discount!

2. Noor Heritage Clutch from Organiq Living

[Image Description: A gold and red metal clutch.] Via Oraniq Living
[Image Description: A gold and red metal clutch.] Via Oraniq Living
Support sustainable fashion with these beautifully ornate handmade metal clutches, made out of eco-friendly materials. This red and gold clutch is an accessory like no other. Organiq Living is an in-line store selling Ethical & Sustainable Lifestyle Products. Browse their clothing and accessory line for more great options.

Get it on their website for 150 AED.

3. The Paintlet from Rock Paper Project

A hand holding a paintbrush painting on the canvas provided in the Paintlet.
[Image Description: A hand holding a paintbrush painting on the canvas provided in the Paintlet.] Via @ripemarket on Instagram

The Paintlet is a bespoke painting kit that includes everything you need to make a beautiful acrylic painting. This is not just for the artistically inclined people in your life! Anyone can have fun painting with this kit. With the rise in DIY culture as we spend a lot more time indoors, this would be the perfect gift to help someone pass the time in a creative and enjoyable way.

Get it on their website for 129 AED.

4. Natural Henna Cones from Aniq Henna

Image description: Two arms, showing henna designs on the back of the hands and forearms with roses in the background. The designs include patterns of whorls.
[Image description: Two arms, showing henna designs on the back of the hands and forearms with roses in the background. The designs include patterns of whorls.] Via @ladiesmarket_dubai on Instagram.

Henna is a wonderful gift to give to loved ones. Especially this henna, which is all-natural. It’s beautiful when applied, fun to learn and draw, a unique way to channel your creative self, and when you apply it with others, it’s an opportunity to bond as you spend time together.

Order for 10 AED per cone (you can customize a gift hamper of various products!) by direct-messaging their instagram account.

5. Chocolate-filled Gift Box from Co Chocolat

A selection of chocolate bars and a jar of Gianduja spread displayed in a crate full of flowers.
[Image description: A selection of chocolate bars and a jar of Gianduja spread in a store display in a crate full of flowers.] Via @ripemarket on Instagram

This gift box is a treasure trove of delicious chocolatey goods!  Packaged beautifully, this gift includes one packet of ground cacao, one packet of cacao nibs, one family sized Chocolatl, and one Gianjduja chocolate spread. These are all guaranteed to be delicious, but possibly the most exciting one is the Chocolatl, with which you can make traditional hot chocolate made from pure cacao. The varying levels of dark chocolate in these artisanal delights that come in many different flavors make for a lovely gift box to enjoy. Whether it’s for someone with a sweet tooth or just someone you know who would enjoy a stellar cup of hot coco, this is a sweet, thoughtful gift.

Get it on their website for 172 AED.

6. Comfy Loungewear from Dimension

A woman wears a white hoodie with the words 'Let's continue social distancing' in black lettering on the back.
[Image Description: A woman wears a white hoodie with the words ‘Let’s continue social distancing’ in black lettering on the back]. Via @Dimensionae on Instagram.

Stay comfy this lockdown with loungewear from Dimension. These hoodies not only have a good social message but can be worn around the house and to run small errands. No one said staying in could look this good! Dimension is a UAE-based brand with a mission to bring oversized LA inspired streetwear style to the Gulf. They also sell trendy silk scrunchies and beautiful art prints.

Get it on their website for 40 AED. Or use the discount code for 15% off using the code: TheTempest

7. Lgaimat Mix from Treat Me Gluten Free

Lgaimat with sesame seeds in a platter next to a packet of the lgaimat mix
[Image Description: Lgaimat with sesame seeds in a platter next to a packet of the lgaimat mix]. Via @treatmeglutenfree on Instagram.

Who doesn’t love lgaimat? The crisp fried dough balls coated with dates syrup are loved by all. Digging into the traditional Emirati dessert is what makes Eid so special. But what if you could make your own at home? Treat Me Gluten Free is a licensed home business that sells a nut-free and gluten-free lgaimat mix that everyone will love. Make it on your own and gift a platter, or gift the mix for a thoughtful and fun Eid present.

Order it on their website for 32 AED. Or use the code: tempest10 for 10% off, valid from today until Aug 24, 2020.

8. Perfume Set from Arcadia

 Two bottles of perfume on a book next to pink roses
[Image Description: Two bottles of perfume on a book next to pink roses]. Via @sahar_reviews on Instagram.
It may be intimidating to buy perfumes online, as the scents can be hard to imagine. But Arcadia makes online perfume shopping so enjoyable with the carefully crafted narratives that accompany each scent! Their curated gift set of the best-selling scents is sure to win over the lucky person that receives it. Arcadia by Amna prides itself on bringing unexpected sensory experiences by mixing and distilling quality essences. The company’s commitment to sustainably sourcing its ingredients makes it even more worth supporting.

Shop their gift set on their website for 500 AED. Get 20% off entire online order using our exclusive discount code: TEMPEST active from July 29 until September 15.

9. Soap Sampler from Mint + Laurel

Wrapped damask jasmine soap bar and citrus candle in glass jar.
[Image Description: Wrapped damask jasmine soap bar and a citrus candle in a glass jar.] Via @olivenheart on Instagram.

A soap sampler is a perfect set to give someone special as they can try out an array of special scents and even take it with them on-the-go. Give a gift with a cause. Not only does this soap bar set look good and come in aromatic scents like damask rose and lavender bay leaf, but also, every purchase supports artisan partners from vulnerable communities in Syria and Lebanon and helps preserve an ancient heritage. The bags and packaging are all eco-friendly as well.

Get it on their website for 58 AED.

10. Textured Cotton Blanket from Curate Labs

An assortment of pillows and blankets on a bed.
[Image description: An assortment of pillows and blankets on a bed] Via Curate Labs on Facebook.

This beautiful saffron cotton blanket with its textured weave, kantha stitching, and frayed edges would be a statement addition to any home. It comes in a wide variety of colors such as navy blue, forest green, and pale pink. Whether used as a blanket or a throw, its refined, light touch can make any room feel cozier. Anyone who receives this is sure to feel thankful that their living space is that much brighter.

Get it on their Facebook page for 400 AED (it’s usually 500AED, but there’s a special summer discount!)

11. Luxury Gift Set from Urban Quill 

The Noir gift box which includes the Starry Eye Mask, Renew Bath Salts Loqaimat chocolate, and Charcoal soap
[Image description: The Noir gift box which includes the Starry Eye Mask, Renew Bath Salts Loqaimat chocolate, and Charcoal soap] Via Urban Quill.

Urban Quill is a luxury gift studio that aims to simplify your gift-shopping experience by curating gift boxes based on themes. Got a friend that is using this lockdown to follow along to Chloe Ting workouts? There’s a fitness guru box perfect for them. Or for the person that just wants to Netflix and chill. Or a handsome dad. There’s something for everyone. But, if you want to go the extra mile you can even customize your own box. 

Shop the Noir gift box on their website for 305 AED. Their range of ready gift boxes starts at 130 AED. Get 10% with the exclusive discount code: Eid10. 

12. Custom Embroidered Gift Set from HuDeBoutique

[Image description: A customized golden prayer mat and Wudhu Towel with the name ‘Fahad’ embroidered on, as well as prayer beads. ] Via HuDeBoutique. 
[Image description: A customized golden prayer mat and Wudhu Towel with the name ‘Fahad’ embroidered on, as well as prayer beads. ] Via HuDeBoutique.

Who doesn’t love a gift made especially for them? This UAE-based Instagram store specializes in making every gift unique by embroidering names onto its selection of products. The new collection of Customized Prayer Mat gift sets would be a great Eid gift for couples, mother & daughter, friends, and family.

Order the gift set for 205 AED by direct-messaging their Instagram account. 

13. Hand-crafted cheese boards from Carpe Diem Space

[Image description: A wooden cheeseboard with bamboo designs. A key is tied around its handle and there are plants in the background.
[Image description: A wooden cheese board with bamboo designs. A key is tied around its handle and there are plants in the background. ] Via Carpe Diem Space

These handmade cheese boards are a creative gift for the ones that love being in the kitchen and preparing aesthetic dishes for their family and friends. Carpe Diem Space has been created with a lot of passion and love for art, nature, and craftsmanship. Each product at Carpe Diem Space is designed to add color, style, and personality to your space.

Get it on their website starting at 80 AED.

14. Trendy bag from Boutiqna

A woman in a white turtleneck and satin skirt holding a burgundy croc exterior semi-circle handbag.
[Image description: A woman in a white turtleneck and satin skirt holding a burgundy croc exterior semi-circle handbag. ] Via @sofyabaker on Instagram

For the one that is always ahead of the fashion curve. This mini handbag is so trendy and will instantly elevate any outfit. Boutiqna is UAE-based but delivers worldwide and its collections are at affordable prices so that every lady can feel fashionable.

Get it on their website for 79 AED.  

15. Beauty Box from Haul in One

A box containing beauty products: Glam and Glow cleanser, coffee scrub, highlighter, Arcadia perfume, face mask, and brow product.
[Image description: A box containing beauty products: Glam and Glow cleanser, coffee scrub, highlighter, Arcadia perfume, face mask, and brow product. ] Via @officialhidubai on Instagram

Brighten someone’s day with this beauty haul box containing all the best products from a variety of different beauty and skincare brands.  Haul in One is the hottest beauty subscription box in the UAE and there is just enough time to give one of their special, customized hauls for the upcoming Eid. Just go onto their website and fill in your loved one’s information for this out-of-this-world gift.

Gift a haul on their website for 299 AED. Get 10% with the exclusive discount code: TEMPEST10. 

16. Portrait Session from Nithya Rajkumar Photography

A portrait of a woman with long hair wearing a blouse.
[Image description: A portrait of a woman with long hair wearing a blouse.] Via Nithya Rajkumar Photography.
Sometimes gifting an experience, rather than an object, is the way to go. This photographer is offering a special Eid discount of 50% off to female entrepreneurs who wish to have their business portraits or lifestyle branding images done. Whether it’s for revamping their online presence or they’re just getting started on a new professional venture, this will be an unforgettable gesture of support to a loved one. The session will include four portrait shots and is currently only available to women based in Dubai.

Gift a session on their website for 495 AED (this is an Eid special, regular prices are 990AED – what a great deal!)

17. Judgement-free Decluttering and Organizing Services from Decluttr Me

There is a bed behind which there is a bedside table with a lamp and a closet that shows neatly arranged shirts hanging up, towels folded, a hamper, and shoes and handbags lined up on the shelves.
[Image description: There is a bed behind which there is a bedside table with a lamp and a closet that shows neatly arranged shirts hanging up, towels folded, a hamper, and shoes and handbags lined up on the shelves.] Via @decluttrme on Instagram.

There’s definitely someone in your life who came to mind when you read this, right? Sometimes we don’t realize just how many items we hold onto without ever really finding a place for them. Or maybe you have a friend or family member who just moved and is struggling to figure out where things go in the new place. Either way, decluttering is a daunting task. With the gift of Decluttr Me’s services, you can gift consultation and hands-on help (ranging from the half to full-day options!), as well as expert tips for the future.

Gift any of these three packages on their website by filling out the contact form with the details you want to provide. You will then be informed of the exact cost. Be sure to quote temp10 for a 10% discount!

18. Dress from Modest Me

A woman wearing makeup and a black hijab stands in front of a building with arches. She is wearing a long-sleeved, high-collared dress with embroidery.
[Image description: A woman wearing makeup and a black hijab stands in front of a building with arches. She is wearing a long-sleeved, high-collared dress with embroidery.] Via @modestme_ae on Instagram.

Since we’re spending more time indoors (sigh), we’re probably wearing pajamas more than ever before. Giving the gift of a glamorous outfit is sure to make someone’s day, encouraging them to celebrate their beauty. This is probably more suited for friends or family whose dress sizes you know, but either way, Modest Me has a wide range of loose, flowing clothing that will make any woman feel like a queen. Be sure to check out their Eid collection especially!

Get it on their website starting at 80 AED.

19. Earrings from Statement by Nisha

A woman wearing amethyst drop earrings.
[Image description: A woman wearing amethyst drop earrings.] Via Statement by Nisha

Hesitant about dress sizes but still want to get something that your loved one can wear and cherish? Jewelry is another great gift option! These earrings from a bespoke jewelry designer in Dubai will be an elegant statement piece to any outfit.

Get it on their website for 68 AED.

20. Silk Pajama Set from Sleepjs

A woman running her hand through her hair leans back on a bed with pillows. She is wear a long-sleeved silk pajama top and bottoms.
[Image description: A woman running her hand through her hair leans back on a bed with pillows. She is wearing a long-sleeved silk pajama top and bottoms.] Via Sleepjs on Facebook.

A classic silk pajama set are the perfect gift for that cool older sister in your life. The luxurious feel of the silk along with the cute look of a matching set is sure to make your loved ones feel extra comfortable at home and ready for bed. 

If you’re not exactly sure about the size or color they would prefer, you can still go for a gift card from Sleepjs. It still shows that you put thought into the gift and that you care about your loved one’s comfort and practice of self-care.

Get it on their website for 220 AED.

21. Pure Mulberry Silk Pillowcase from Sleep in Beauty Silk

A book, wineglass, necklaces, and silk pillowcase are strewn on bedding.
[Image description: A book, wineglass, necklaces, and silk pillowcase are strewn on bedding.] Via @aceandboogie on Instagram.

Keeping with the sleep theme, silk pillowcases are an incredible treat to gift to a loved one. Coming in sleek packaging, the mulberry silk pillowcases makes for much less friction compared to traditional cotton pillowcases. This is great for so many reasons. It’s hypoallergenic, thermoregulating, and gentle on both your skin and hair. Maybe most importantly, it feels so luxurious! Who doesn’t love to be pampered for a good night’s rest?

Get it on their website for 277 AED.

22. Silk scrunchie set from Beauty Silk

Three silk scrunchies in beige tones against silk pillowcases.
[Image description: Three silk scrunchies in beige tones against silk pillowcases.] Via @beautysilkdubai on Instagram.
These 100% silk scrunchies protect against hair damage, reduce frizziness, and naturally repair hair– all in your sleep. What more can you ask for? Whoever is the lucky receiver of this gift will be over the moon with the results. They come in packs of 3 in two different color schemes “Oreo” and “Vanilla”. 

Get it on their website for AED 110.

23. Organic Handmade Cold Processed Soaps and Scrubs from Adrita

Two of the available ‘Zaytun’ organic soaps made from dried olive leaves for soft and supple skin.
[Image description: Two of the available ‘Zaytun’ organic soaps made from dried olive leaves for soft and supple skin.] Via @adr_ita on Instagram.
If you think soap can’t be a great Eid gift, that’s because you haven’t tried the ones made by Adrita. Coming in beautiful colors and made of all-natural ingredients, these handcrafted skincare products are made in small batches and produce zero waste.

Whether you have loved ones who are already interested in organic, eco-friendly skincare, or maybe some who have yet to be introduced to the amazing benefits of using such products, these beautiful artisanal soaps are sure to be a well-received gift. As a special Eid bundle offer, you can get two organic soaps and one organic scrub.

Order the Eid bundle for 150 AED by direct-messaging their Instagram account.

24. Eid Cake Toppers from Party UAE

[Image description: Gold Arabic Eid cake topper on a chocolate cake.]
[Image description: Gold Arabic Eid cake topper on a chocolate cake.] Via @_the_party on Instagram.
Add the Eid spirit and a sparkly flourish to any baked treat with these Eid cake toppers. Choose from 7 different colors and finishes, from matte gold and bamboo to white, birch, and mirror gold. There are also different size packs to choose from, with the standard being 5 pieces and going up to 50. These will be sure to please anyone as well as look great on their social media feeds. 

Order this on their website for 75 AED. 

25. Arabic Teapot Pop-up Card from Abra Cards

[Image description: A pop-up card with a silver Arabic teapot and small cups on a brown platter.]
[Image description: A pop-up card with a silver Arabic teapot and small cups on a brown platter.] Via Abra Cards.
Not everyone is taken by material gifts, some prefer thoughtful presents like greeting cards. Surprise your loved ones with this pop up Arabian teapot that is sure to amaze them and make a great ornament on their coffee table.  Abracards were named the Middle East’s leading handcrafted pop-up card company and looking at their products, that comes as no surprise. 

Get it on their website for 59 AED.

26. Home Fragrance gift pack from You Rock Dubai

A soy wax candle wrapped in a black bow beside a reed defuser also tied with a black bow. Both are on a wooden table and behind them is the black gift box.
[Image description: A soy wax candle wrapped in a black bow beside a reed defuser also tied with a black bow. Both are on a wooden table and behind them is the black gift box.] Via @yourockdubai on Instagram

Send out this beautiful gift set to your loved ones and share the happiness of togetherness. You Rock Dubai offers beautiful and stylish gift boxes for every occasion. Their limited edition Eid soy wax candles and reed diffuser gift set is scented with traditional Oud and aromatic Amber Noir.

Order it on their website for 195 AED. Get a 20% discount with the promo code: tempest20. 

27. Photobook from Instorya

Image description: A photo of a family on the cover of a photobook. It is on a wooden table next to a cup and some colored pencils.
[Image description: A photo of a family on the cover of a photobook. It is on a wooden table next to a cup and some colored pencils.] Via

Preserve your cherished memories with this customizable photo book. This is a gift that will never be forgotten. Instorya is all about looking back at all your memories and sharing them with others. All you have to do is download the app, select the photos and size, and the rest is taken care of!  

Order up to 105 pages of a softcover photobook on their website for 135 AED. Use the code: INSTANTSTORY for 20% discount on your first order!

28. Personalized Tote Bag from Sew A Gift

[Image description: A colorful tote bag made out of a patchwork of different fabrics and patterns.] Via @sewagift on Instagram.

The perfect gift is one that’s both useful and carries sentimental value. With a personalized tote bag from Sew A Gift, which comes with a zippered pocket inside the lining, give your loved one a gift that they will always cherish. You can specify exactly what design, colors, words, and pattern you have in mind, and Sew A Gift will do their best to work with you and sew it into reality. 

Get it on their website for a price range of 12-85 AED.

29. My Handy Workshop from Factory Price

[Image description: Four photos of My Handy Workshop showing small wooden wrenches, hammers, screwdrivers, rulers, nuts, and bolts.] Via Factory Price.

Here’s a gift for any young ones that you’re shopping for! This children’s wooden toolbox set presents endless opportunities for kids to play, be imaginative, and learn problem-solving strategies. With such carefully crafted miniature wooden tools in their own toolbox, each one painted with a non-toxic finish safe for kids, this makes a great hands-on toy for children.

Get it on their website for 75 AED.

30. Personalized Agate Keychains from SG Letters

[Image description: Various agate keychains in different colors with different names written in calligraphy one each one.] Via Instagram / @sgletters

It’s pretty easy to see why these went viral during the last holiday season, and we’re here for it. The agate comes in a wide range of beautiful colors, making for elegant, eye-catching keychains. Get matching ones for family and friends or many uniquely different ones for the loved ones you have in mind. The keychain can include any few words in lovely calligraphy – it could be a name (or even just the initials if you want it monogrammed), a special date, or maybe a word or a quote with personal significance.

Get it from their website for 35 AED (comes with gift box)

31. Engraved Himalayan Salt Lamp from U Own Calmness

[Image description: Himalayan salt lamp on a wooden side table with three candles. Next to the table there are the corners of some pillows and some plants visible.] Via U Own Calmness

Himalayan salt lamps are a unique statement piece to any household and create a calm, relaxing atmosphere. As we’re all spending more time indoors, a gift like this to make someone’s living space more enjoyable would be much appreciated. To make it even more special, you can contact U Own Calmness about the engraving service they offer in both Arabic calligraphy as well as English.

Get this by direct-messaging their Instagram account. Prices start at 60 AED and the lamps with Arabic calligraphy are 200 AED.


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Health Care Skin Care Love Wellness

Getting clear skin wasn’t worth the drastic measures I took

After a day out in the city, my friends and I gathered lazily around our common room swiping through the photos we’d taken. “Look at this one! It’s cute, should I post it?” One of them exclaimed, stretching her arm out to show me her phone. “Stop moving, let me see,” I laughed, holding her hand steady. It was a really nice group photo, even though sunlight was beating on our faces, making us squint a little. But then I looked at myself.

We all do this when inspecting group shots, and for a moment I was stunned. “Oh my god, look at me,” I said, zooming in on my face. I was grinning, leaning on one of my roommates, but I was more focused on my skin. My skin looked rough along my cheeks, faint red bumps that peeked out from my foundation. “Do I always look like this?” I asked, in despair.

Skin problems and acne were not at all new to me, but I had just turned 20. Wasn’t that period of my life supposed to be over? I had a brief period of respite in the past two years where my skin cleared up. I had assumed that the days of imperfections and waking up with red splotches were over and that my skin finally decided to act right, but I was wrong. It came back with a vengeance, and I tried almost everything possible to return to ‘normal’. 

I cycled through different topical treatments, face-washes, and diet changes to little avail. I didn’t like to bring it up to anyone because I was afraid of drawing attention to something I already assumed was my most prominent feature. Plus, I dreaded the classic answer of “just drink water!”

I always heard of other people taking these pills called Accutane. Everybody I knew who spoke about it, made it sound like a miracle drug. I remember a friend enthusiastically telling me that she noticed her nose getting smaller as a result of taking the medicine. But I always stood against it, because I had also heard stories of liver failure and other scary side effects. I swore I would never put beauty over my health, would I really damage my organs just to look ‘better’? I was convinced it wasn’t my risk.

However, as my acne refused to fade away, with even the Ordinary failing to give me any results, I began to cave in. At first the dermatologist hesitated to prescribe me the strong treatment as she didn’t think my skin issues were as severe as they seemed to be in my head. After all, this is a drug that is only supposed to be a last resort given how potent it is and the way it completely dries out the skin. But I insisted. So I started taking Accutane.

From then on, I went about my day with perpetually cracked lips and dizziness that would come and go. But it was all worth it, because after two months, my skin started to clear. I was beyond elated. A typical timeline with Accutane was six months, on a gradually higher and higher dose, so I continued to take the pills even as my skin grew drier and drier and my hair started to fall. But my monthly blood tests were coming out fine, so I knew I wasn’t at risk of anything serious.

My wake-up call finally came when I woke up with swollen legs, my body speckled with red dots. I had suddenly gotten a severe allergic reaction to the medicine. That was when I knew it had to stop.

When did I get so carried away? When did perfect skin become so important to me that I put my health at risk? I really got lost in the ‘beauty is pain’ mantra and forgot that my ultimate priority should be my wellbeing. I’m just thankful that it was a lower-risk health scare that brought me back to my senses, as it could have been a lot worse. 

This experience showed me the drastic measures and sacrifices women make to achieve a perfect look. Most women’s skin acts up, and that’s normal. It’s natural. We weren’t all made to have porcelain skin, that’s just bullshit made to sell us dozens of pots of clay masks and acids over serums.

Skincare is important, but it doesn’t have to be so high-stakes.  All it can take is something simple like seeing your imperfections in the mirror or what you see as an unflattering photo to launch you into a possibly dangerous path.

I’ve been there, and I can tell you it’s not worth it at all. 

Editor's Picks Race Inequality

South Asians have been guilty of anti-Blackness for so long – it’s time we question our own selves

In late May, the nation erupted in protest as every state in the country and countries around the world opposed the brutal murder of George Floyd and the system that enabled it to happen.

While many celebrities have been beacons of hope, others have exposed themselves as performative allies, jumping on the racial justice bandwagon only when it became trendy and convenient for them. As an Indian immigrant, I am particularly disturbed by the hypocrisy in the responses to Floyd’s death from my South Asian friends and Indian celebrities.

Priyanka Chopra Jonas, for instance, a Bollywood and Hollywood actor, posted on her Instagram in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. Later her husband, Nick Jonas, tweeted out that they both were distressed by the events and had donated significantly to the ACLU. On the surface, the actor’s post was nothing more than a generous post from a prominent figure.

However, if we delve into Chopra Jonas’s history, an unmistakable pattern of ignorance and discrimination emerges: Chopra Jonas has always supported the far-right Modi government, which is directly tied to racist, casteist, and Islamophobic violence. In addition to being complicit in this oppressive regime, Chopra Jonas openly praised the Indian Army in a tweet that came right after the Indian government ordered a retaliatory airstrike against Pakistan.

In 2019, a Pakistani-American beauty influencer, Ayesha Malik, confronted Chopra Jonas about the ignorance of her tweet at Beautycon. Chopra Jonas belittled Malik, implying she was “venting” (and thus playing into the trope of the hysterical woman) and saying “Girl, don’t yell at me.” All this happened as guards seized the microphone from Malik and dragged her away. It’s also worth noting that Chopra Jonas is no ordinary celebrity. She’s a UNICEF ambassador. Someone who is supposedly supposed to advocate for justice everywhere, not just when it benefits them.

Colorism has long been ingrained in South Asian society, leading to overt discrimination against darker-skinned individuals

Chopra Jonas’s statements do not exist in a vacuum. Rather they are indicative of a much larger issue of systemic discrimination in South Asian communities. For example, fairness creams are an incredibly lucrative business that exploits and weaponizes India’s obsession with fairness. Chopra-Jonas is just one of several South Asian celebrities who have endorsed fairness creams and in doing so, perpetuated racist and colorist standards. Others include Sonam Kapoor, Disha Patani, and Deepika Padukone.

As a child, family members would tell me not to play in the sun, to take exceptionally good care of my skin. All these messages reinforced to me that, ultimately, fair was lovely; dark was ugly. My experience is not isolated.

Colorism has long been ingrained in South Asian society, leading to overt discrimination against darker-skinned individuals. Tarun Vijay, a politician of the Bharatiya Janata Party, once claimed that Indians can’t be racist because they’ve lived with South Indians for so long. South Indians are often darker-skinned than many North Indians. All this to say, South Asians are obsessed with color, infatuated with light skin, set upon pedestalizing and aspiring to whiteness.

South Asians in the US largely subscribe to the model minority myth, a uniquely manipulative tool of white supremacy.

This aspiration towards whiteness goes further than just skin-deep fairness creams. South Asians in the US largely subscribe to the model minority myth, a uniquely manipulative tool of white supremacy. The model minority myth depicts Asian Americans as hard-working, intelligent, and highly productive members of society — and, most sinisterly, pits them against Black people, who the myth portrays as the opposite. Neither of these images is true, and falsely present both Asian and Black Americans as monolithic groups. The truth about the model minority myth is that it is solely a tool of white capitalism intended to blame the oppression of Black people on their own ostensible shortcomings (the “pull yourself up by the bootstraps” fallacy that ignores systemic racism and institutional oppression) while ignoring the root of their disadvantages.

Of course, this all happens as the South Asian community continues to exploit Black culture for our own entertainment. Young South Asians are avid consumers of Black music and culture. South Asian figures such as Lilly Singh routinely exploit Blackness for their own profit.

Clearly, I’m not saying don’t listen to or support Black artists (far from it!). But I am saying that the pattern of appropriating Blackness while simultaneously endorsing explicitly anti-Black ideologies is a prime example of both racism and hypocrisy. We can’t love Black culture and oppress Black people at the same time.

We can’t love Black culture and oppress Black people at the same time.

While discussing the issue of anti-Blackness in South Asian communities with others, dangerous rhetoric about the merits of the model minority myth and disturbing colorist remarks have shown up, which raises an important question. How can one be pro-Black and pro-Black Lives Matter while also maintaining these inherently anti-Black ideas? Oftentimes South Asians are unaware of their own internal biases. We’ve been raised in a community that values colonial standards of whiteness so greatly that they’ve become normalized to us. We may say, do, or think things that explicitly go against our supposed beliefs.

Anti-racist advocacy starts with you. It starts with actively decolonizing your mind so that you can truly believe what you endorse. It’s impossible to be a true ally to the Black Lives Matter movement while also maintaining problematic standards.

When I say that we must examine our own internal biases, I don’t mean to say that you shouldn’t openly voice solidarity. I wholly believe that right now we should be doing everything to amplify Black voices. But you cannot truly support Black communities while endorsing colorist, casteist views. You cannot endorse change without condemning systems that have explicitly oppressed Black communities.

Before we can decolonize our systems and institutions, we must decolonize our minds.

To all South Asians who have yet to acknowledge and address their own anti-Black biases yet continue to post on social media in support of Black people: before preaching to others, focus on yourself. You cannot support casteism, colorism, Islamophobia, or perpetuate the exploitation of Black culture and be anti-racist. Education and understanding how your own biases have shaped your view of the and your treatment of others.

Advocacy starts at home. With you, your loved ones, and your community at large. And before we can decolonize our systems and institutions, we must decolonize our minds.

Culture Life

Why I am constantly drawn to lavender

I find that my most blissful moments remind me of the strong, calming scent of lavender. For one reason or another, I relate it to a lot of the more meaningful aspects of my life. To me, lavender is like a feeling; like the wind brushing up against your skin.

While I think that lavender is largely optimistic, I also find a certain sorrow that is comfortable, even humble, in its presence. I’ve come to appreciate it in every shape and form – the color, the flower, the scent. Its hard to place; not sweet or bitter, but rather musty. 

Lavender manages to incorporate itself into my life seemingly on a whim and in the most fleeting of moments. We have a peculiar relationship. I am stomach-knottingly anxious in the presence of many, especially when I first meet them. But, with some, I sense lavender, and I know that something great is about to happen. It is more of a feeling than anything else. Just talking to some people can be rejuvenating, and perhaps it is because our meeting reminds me of that warm, soft smell of a mid-spring day when the sun is bright and pure, and the entire day lies ahead.

Nowadays, when I am feeling an emotion that is simply beyond words, I say that I am overflowing with lavender. 

According to etymology, the English word “lavender” is derived from the Latin “lavare,” which translates to “to wash.” It is a necessary refinement – a cleanse. I am purified with every utterance of the word. 

Perhaps it’s not just me. In literature, lavender has been used significantly as a token of love. To me, it’s more like a notion of love at first sight. Shakespeare offers a bouquet of “hot lavender” in The Winter’s Tale. Cleopatra also roots lavender with love, as she is said to have used its sultry perfume to seduce both Julius Caesar and Mark Antony. Christians are also known to have used it as a repellent of evil. The plant is said to have been taken from the Garden of Eden and is sometimes found hanging in a cross shape above the doors of some Christian households as a means of protection. There are so many songs with the title lavender, my favorite being by The Beach Boys, and there have also been many poems written about it, too. Take, for example, this quote by an anonymous writer, “as rosemary is to the spirit, lavender is to the soul.” 

Lavender is swift, like a movement, carrying me in and out of perfectly imperfect moments. The vision of it is rather uplifting as well. It stands delicately tall among the rest, but it is not intimidating either. I adore its confrontation. In fact, I look forward to it. 

Skin Care Lookbook

My acne acts up when I’m really stressed — and I’m really stressed right now

All throughout my preteen and teen years, I’ve been locked in battle with my acne. I just feel like I’m never able to get it right for any substantial period of time before it flares up again and I’m left right back where I started: confused, frustrated, and uncomfortable. I tried everything I could before consulting with a dermatologist, who guided me in the right direction in terms of managing my skincare. But still, my skin is nowhere near perfect, especially right now. 

It’s hard to maintain and keep up with a solid skincare routine when I’m worried about keeping track of everything else. On top of that, my acne acts up when I’m under stress. So needless to say, quarantine has been a never ending fight between me and my skin. And I am losing terribly. The worst part is that my acne just makes me even more stressed – it really is a terrible, endless cycle. 

It feels ugly, too, because no one on TV or in magazines really has acne. Their skin always seems to be smooth, radiant, and totally flawless. I know that most of it is probably photoshopped, but still, it doesn’t really help my self-esteem. Plus, some people I know just have better genetics for skin, which means that they don’t really have to worry about it. When I see these things, though, I almost always feel like I’m doing something wrong, like my acne is something that I should be embarrassed about or ashamed of. Sometimes, I even feel like I want to hide. My acne has held me back from making progress in building my confidence because every time I look in the mirror, I see something wrong and flawed. 

Most of the time, when my acne gets really bad, I try to drink an exorbitant amount of water, eat healthier, and use a ton of aloe. During quarantine, however, I have fallen back into old habits. I don’t really eat very healthy and I am not exercising a bunch or getting much sunlight. This has not only brought out the worst of me, but also the worst of my skin. I thought that giving my skin a break from makeup and the wear and tear of everyday life would be good for it, but of course I was wrong. With all of the added stress of living through a pandemic on top of my normal stressors, my acne has gotten progressively worse. Surprisingly, I’m more dehydrated than I was before, and I eat much more junk food too. I’m also guilty of not really doing much to take care of my skin right now because I’m not seeing anyone or getting dressed up, and have just been incredibly lazy these past few weeks.

But now, I’m fed up. I don’t want to feel unattractive or upset with myself anymore. If I don’t do as much as I can to feel beautiful, both inside and out, then I won’t make any progress elsewhere. In any case, my skin certainly won’t heal itself. Basically, what I’m trying to say is that if I want to take care of my skin, I have to take care of myself and my mind first. So what I’ve been doing lately to work on this is listening to a lot of soothing music, doing some yoga in the mornings, and sitting by the window while I work so that I can feel the sun on my skin. I try not to go overboard with my skincare regime during a breakout because it will drive me crazy. Especially since the results are not immediate, which can become very frustrating after a while. I’d rather focus on doing things that make me feel good or feed my soul, because that is what will help me achieve an overall sense of beauty and confidence.

My issues with acne definitely won’t be going away anytime soon, so I think it’s important for me to realize that dwelling on it won’t solve anything. I just have to keep on keeping on.

Skin Care Lookbook

5 skincare misconceptions, debunked

Today, having an extensively-researched, seasonal-product-switching, multi-step skincare routine is not uncommon. In fact, most people have jumped aboard the skincare train with sunscreen, sheet masks, and various acids as their guiding lights. But as with most things regarding humans, skin is specific to each individual – something that needs to be adapted to and gently experimented with through trial and error. With that being said, the skincare industry’s popularity has made it a magnet for trends that seem to stick no matter how bad they really are for you. Here are some skincare fads that seriously need to be re-evaluated.

1. Makeup wipes are overrated

A girl says, "Yeah, well, I've always thought 'easy' is completely overrated".
[Image description: A girl says, “Yeah, well, I’ve always thought ‘easy’ is completely overrated”.] Via Giphy.
In almost every nighttime skincare routine I watch, I see a pack of makeup wipes whipped out. After months of accumulating skincare knowledge, watching a makeup wipe move across someone’s skin makes me cringe. People of the skincare world: wipes are NOT enough to get all your makeup off. Have you never noticed how roughly you’re pulling at your skin? Constantly tugging on the über-sensitive skin around your eyes to try and remove your makeup without realising that you’re just smearing crusty concealer remnants all over your face? There is a time and a place for makeup wipes, but they are not the be-all end-all of makeup removal.

Instead: Try the double cleanse method! To really get a day’s worth of junk out of your pores, first use a cleansing oil or balm and work it into the face, allowing your makeup to melt and loosen off. Wash it off and follow with the second cleanse, your regular face wash. This will ensure that the following products you use, like serum or toner, are actually able to seep into your skin and amplify their effects.

2. Cleansing waters aren’t always great

A Simpson character yelling, 'Think again!'.
[Image description: A Simpson character yelling, ‘Think again!’.] Via Giphy.
Yet another product that is sometimes way over-hyped. A lot of us see makeup artists use this product and assume it’s enough to completely remove our makeup. What we don’t realize is that cleansing water is supposed to contain ‘micelles’, the technology that should essentially remove your makeup. You can’t just buy any kind of cleansing water because if it doesn’t contain the right technology, you’re basically rubbing soapy water on your face. Always look at the ingredients before buying – even if it is marketed as ‘micellar’ water.

Instead: Using micellar water as a first cleanse and following it up with a face wash is much more effective. However, micellar water’s best use seems to be in correcting your makeup as you apply it. A lot of people do swear by this product though, so maybe just make sure you’re using the right kind and quality for your skin.

3. Physical scrubs do more harm than good

A woman brings her hands to her face with a shocked expression.
[Image Description: A woman brings her hands to her face with a shocked expression.] Via Giphy.
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned on my journey as a skincare junkie is that exfoliation is key. However, I’ve also learned which types of exfoliators are safe to use. Physical scrubs, the ones with large, coarse beads, are too abrasive for our faces. When you’re rubbing these beads all over your face, they’re essentially scratching your face over and over again.

Instead: If you’re someone who doesn’t want to give up on physical exfoliants, use one with a powdery or sandy base instead. Otherwise, chemical exfoliants are the way to go!

4. Eye-creams aren’t really necessary

A woman with a confused expression mimes a '50/50' action'.
[Image description : A woman with a confused expression mimes a ’50/50′ action’.] Via Giphy.
This is usually the final step in a nighttime routine. But has anyone ever noticed that eye-creams are just a thicker moisturizer? This one’s a bit tricky, but if you have a super thorough skincare routine, after a face moisturizer and all the other products you’re putting on, eye-creams won’t do much. What’s more, using a water-based eye-cream before you sleep has sometimes shown that your eyes appear puffier in the morning.

Instead: If you still want to use an eye-cream, try a gel-based one to avoid excess puffiness. Find what works for you.

5.  Coconut oil is NOT good for your face

A boy in a Hawaiian shirt and fedora is crosses his arms and says, 'CANCELLED!' while seated in a hot tub at the beach.
[Image description: A boy in a Hawaiian shirt and fedora is crosses his arms and says, ‘CANCELLED!’ while seated in a hot tub at the beach.] Via Giphy
To people who like to slather raw coconut oil all over their faces: stop doing that! Coconut oil straight from the jar will in no way seep into your skin. Instead of being absorbed and hydrating the skin, it simply sits on top of it like a thin film, blocking the skin from breathing and from being able to absorb any other products. Raw coconut oil is not as hydrating as you were led to believe.

Instead: Use skincare products that have been formulated with coconut oil. These are products that have been specifically made for the skin and contain more ingredients besides raw coconut oil. A good example is Solved Skincare’s coconut oil cleansing pads. Or instead, use face oils that have been formulated to hydrate your skin, such as Naturopathica’s Carrot seed soothing facial oil!

Skin Care Lookbook

4 acids every skincare newbie should know about

Skincare acids are some of the best ways to exfoliate your skin. Usually, however, when you think of the word ‘acid’, the last thing you think of is something that could help clear up or brighten your skin. Skincare acids fall under the category of ‘chemical exfoliants’, and are a non-abrasive way to slough of dead skin cells or unclog your pores. “Your dermatologist can evaluate your skin and determine if one of the [acids] is good for you to help with reversing sun damage, evening out skin tone, clearing acne, and more,” explains dermatologist Dr. Doris Day. Here’s the lowdown on four acids found super commonly in skincare products, and how best to use them.


Glycolic Acid

One of, if not the most popular exfoliating acid ever, glycolic acid is derived from sugarcane and is an AHA – an alpha hydroxy acid. Alpha hydroxy acids are exfoliating acids that work at penetrating the uppermost layers of our skin and removing dead cells to reveal healthy, fresh skin underneath. What makes glycolic acid the holy grail of AHAs is its molecule size – the super small particles are able to penetrate deeper into those upper layers of our skin and buff away dead skin cells more effectively. Glycolic acid also has the ability to lessen sun damage. It’s usually people with oilier skin who derive the best results from using this product since they’re better able to withstand the deeper penetration of molecules into the skin. Using this acid consistently and making it a part of your skincare regime can lead to skin that’s more even in tone and texture, as well as help prep and cleanse your skin for other products you may want to apply. It’s important to note that people who have dry or extremely sensitive skin should be careful when incorporating this specific acid into their skincare routine because the deeper penetration of the acid molecules into the skin may feel too harsh for them. Dr. Adarsh Vijay Mudgil, a board-certified dermatologist and dermatopathologist and founder of Mudgil Dermatology in NYC, says that glycolic acid might irritate dry or sensitive skin, and that those with oily skin can use low-percentage washes daily, but that medical-grade glycolic acid peels should be limited to once a month.

Lactic Acid

For everyone who falls into the sensitive/dry skin category, this is the acid for you. Lactic acid is also an alpha hydroxy acid and works the same way glycolic acid does. Lactic acid molecules are slightly larger than glycolic acid molecules, however, and although they still do a great job at exfoliating the top layer of skin, they aren’t able to penetrate as deep and are therefore a gentler exfoliant.

Ever do a yoghurt mask at home? Well, the lactic acid found in cosmetic products is a bit different as it’s usually synthesized to be a more stable substance than the version derived from milk and yoghurt. Another great thing about lactic acid is that it can help increase the water retention in our skin, which helps increase hydration and prevent your skin from drying out.


Salicylic acid

On the other side of the spectrum of the most commonly-used skincare acids are beta hydroxy acids. Salicylic acid is a BHA, and what makes it different to AHAs is that it’s oil soluble. This means that BHAs are able to cross the skin’s lipid (oil) barrier and move into the pores of our skin, where they not only slough off those uppermost dead skin cells, but also dissolve the oil inside our pores, removing all the gunk that commonly leads to acne. Salicylic acid is very beneficial in working towards clearing acne and blackheads because it’s able to control or decrease sebum secretion in the skin, which is why it can leave a drying feeling after application.

“I would suggest starting once or twice per week, increasing the frequency as tolerated,”  says Hadley King, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in NYC. “This will depend on how sensitive your skin is and what other products you are using … If your skin is excessively peeling, becoming irritated or very dry, then decrease the frequency of salicylic acid, or stop using it.”

A case where salicylic acid won’t always be effective is in preventing cystic acne. This is because cystic acne lies underneath the skin and is usually related to hormonal issues. What’s more, women who are pregnant cannot use salicylic acid as research has shown that it can lead to birth defects during pregnancy.

Hyaluronic Acid:

Although hyaluronic acid isn’t an exfoliant, it still warrants a mention due to its popularity – it’s a highly sought-after ingredient in many skincare serums and can do wonders for skin.

“It’s a humectant that attracts water, hydrating the skin without making it oily,” explains William Kwan, MD, a San Francisco-based dermatologist. For this reason, serums that contain hyaluronic acid are ideal for those with oily skin. “Many moisturizers are too heavy or can cause acne [for people with oily skin], which is why I love hyaluronic acid gels,” he says.

Hyaluronic acid is a sugar molecule naturally found in our skin and acts as a humectant, something that helps in adding or retaining moisture in the skin. Although whether the acid can actually add moisture into skin is debatable, what has been proven is its ability to hold up to a thousand times its weight in water, making it a phenomenal hydrator.  What’s important to stress is that hyaluronic acid isn’t a moisturizer, it’s a hydrator, meaning that it draws moisture from its surroundings and then tries to retain said moisture in the skin.

So the next time you read the ingredients label on your cleanser or toner and are super confused as to why there’s acid involved, look here for your answers!

Health Care Love Wellness

Unlock the secrets of your body with these 5 podcasts

There is so much information on the internet about health, however, it can be hard to find sources that are reputable, and easy to understand. Podcasts are a super helpful and an effortless way to learn more while on the go.  Some health professionals are using podcasts to educate a greater number of people across the globe. All you need to start learning is an Internet connection and maybe a pair of earphones.

If you’re interested in learning about how your body works or looking for ideas on self-care, look no further! Below are some of the most exciting, informative, and easy to listen to podcasts that will keep you updated on the latest health news.

1. The V-Word

The V-Word is revolutionary for people who haven’t had a proper sexual education or for those who are just curious about lady bits. This podcast is hosted by two gynecologists who talk about all things vaginas. With episodes between 20 – 40 minutes long, these two women cover a lot of ground tackling topics ranging from birth plans to human trafficking.  This is a great place to go if you want to become more acquainted with women’s health and the stigmas around it.

2. Birthday Skin

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Birthday Skin is a podcast that is dedicated to your largest organ, your skin! Two friends with a passion for skincare have teamed up to create a podcast that answers all your skincare queries. They discuss the latest fads, everyday skin care as well as skin conditions such as rosacea. The podcast feels like an informative, yet light and casual conversation between friends.

3.  It’s Not About the Food

Image result for it's not about the food podcast

A lot of people have succumbed to diet culture and have a strained relationship with food. This podcast on intuitive eating will get real about the dangers of societal expectations on human bodies. The host, Dr. Stefani Reinold, is charismatic and is a certified psychiatrist and eating disorders specialist. She talks about how our bodies are smart and know their needs better than the nutritionists, sports gurus or magazines. This podcast is great for anyone who has a problem with food and body image.

4. Body Kindness

Image result for body kindness podcast

Want to start loving and being kind to your body, Rebecca Scritchfield can help with that! Her podcast Body Kindness focuses on loving yourself in the form you are in at the moment and pursuing health instead of unattainable body standards. Bernie Salazar, a former Biggest Loser “winner”, is a regular guest on the show and he shares why he’s happier and healthier as a fat man.

5. Ali on the Run

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Ali Feller interviews influential fitness figures and delves into their psyches on her podcast “Ali on the Run “. Sometimes the conversation turns away from fitness, but nonetheless, the conversation remains inspirational. Maybe you can stretch, meditate, or run while listening to this podcast? The conversation is always professional and easy to keep up with. This podcast may motivate you to begin moving more!

This list is not exhaustive, however, it’s a starting point for those of you who want to learn more about your bodies, health, and fitness. Delve into these podcasts to discover the biological miracle that is the human body.

Science Now + Beyond

Is henna actually safe for you to use?

You either love or hate the smell of henna, and I love it.

For me, it has only ever meant good times. My earliest memories of henna entail weddings, moon sighting parties before Eid, and my mom trying to teach white kids about our culture by bringing something fun to school. Friends of mine have said on separate occasions that it smells like Christmas and, while I don’t know exactly what this means, it is certainly a positive association.

So what a surprise it was when I learned that there were instances where people had in fact been harmed by henna.

Maybe you have an aversion to the smell and stain sure, it’s not for everyone, or maybe you don’t want to wear it for fear of drawing unwanted attention at work. But allergic reactions? Those were new to me.

And then I heard about black henna which is a very real and potentially harmful concern.

Right now in the United States, it’s wedding season, and part of wedding season is lots of henna.

But what about black henna? What is it exactly? How does it work, what’s the science behind it, and should you be concerned?

Henna in its most basic form is actually relatively conditioning on the body.

It is made by grinding up the leaves of the henna plant and mixing them up with water and a mildly acidic liquid like black tea to form a paste. It is only after this paste is made that the leaves will release lawsone, which is key to the stain. Lawsone is a red-orange pigment, and when henna is applied to the skin, it is lawsone bonds to keratin in the skin to produce a stain. People who have used henna before may have noticed that its color appears stronger on the palms of hands as opposed to their backs. This is due to the fact that the skin is thicker here and therefore more layers of lawsone can be absorbed into the deeper layers of skin. This is also possibly one of the reasons henna tends to turn out darker on women of color than on white women, because skin that already has melanin in it tends to be thicker than skin that does not.

Once the henna has dried and the paste has been removed, the henna oxidizes. This is why it can take a few takes to get that sought-after rich hue.

Black henna tends to work much faster than natural henna, and one of the reasons for this is that black henna typically contains less actual henna and more PPD. PPD, or paraphenylenediamine, is a chemical used in black hair dye (hence the name “black henna”). When black henna comes in contact with the outer layer of the skin, it can cause a reaction in some individuals though not everyone reacts. On people with particularly delicate skin, black henna can cause the skin to erupt in red blisters that can sometimes lead to permanent scarring. Some can become sensitized to black henna as well, meaning that, if you come into contact with black henna once, you can later experience a strong adverse reaction to it even if you did not experience one the first time around.

So what does this all amount to? Should you be worried?

Well, it’s a bit hard to say is everyone should be the same amount of concern. There’s not a great wealth of information as to if and how black henna affects different types of skin. However, it’s safe to say that it is certainly best to avoid if possible.

How can you tell black henna from more natural henna? If it’s coming to you in a powdered form, it more likely to be natural if it is of a greener shade as opposed to a deeper black or brown one. Real henna is also never actually black, neither as a paste nor on the hand, but closer to an orange or reddish-brown, so if it looks black, be wary. Some individuals have also said they can tell a difference in the smell between black and natural henna, but there is more research to be conducted on this whole topic.

Many henna cones sold at your local South Asian foods store lack accurate ingredient lists, so it can be hard to tell what’s in them before use. That’s not to say to avoid them entirely, but rather to test them out on a small patch of skin before a full design. If you’re really concerned, you can also look into getting an allergy test done by a professional. In the meantime, if you’re willing and able to find some, there are some local and independent businesses who make their own natural henna cones so you can know and trust exactly what’s in them.

To be honest, I will probably keep using the low-quality cones I get at my local South Asian store. It’s what I’m used to.

But knowing all of this, when faced with the option, I might try instead to go for the organic option. Either way, I don’t know that I’ll ever want to give it up completely.

Via [Image description: A henna design is applied to an outstretched palm.]
Via [Image description: A henna design is applied to an outstretched palm.]
Love Wellness

I thought picking at my skin was just a bad habit. It wasn’t until college that I learned the truth.

It wasn’t until halfway through my psychology bachelors program that I realized it had a name.

I always figured it was just an incredibly bad habit I’d acquired as a child; about as equally bad as biting your nails or popping zits. A habit that, for some reason or another, hadn’t gone away.

I mean, old habits die hard, right?

But I haven’t seen many people who pick and scratch the sides of their thumbs until caved indents are formed with little pools of blood in them. People who pick and pull any sticking bit of chapped lips until they peel it off and make it bleed profusely.

Who can ignore the sharp stinging and pain they put themselves through, but have to repeatedly pick at any uneven little bump on their body and even the scabs formed over as a recovery from the last assault.

Whose bodies are littered with the remnants of each assault, that just never seem to go away.

It’s way more than just a bad habit. It’s Excoriation Disorder. It’s classified under “Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders” in the latest DSM.

For many, many years, the sides of my thumbs have been mercilessly victimized by this problem. It still surprises me that considering how often my nails, no matter how short I cut them, have dug at the skin on my thumbs, that I haven’t reached the bones yet. My cheek, thighs and arms sport some patches of dark brown spots where an unfortunate pimple or ingrown hairs had shown up and even the hardened skin created over them was repeatedly attacked, like an enemy force trying to break through the walls of an impenetrable (and speedily rebuilt) fortress.

For me, I’ve noticed it’s affected by stress and anxiety.

As if I’m taking out all my pent up frustration and nervousness onto my own skin, putting myself through burning pain on certain parts of my body to put my overall mind at ease.

I guess you can say that excoriation is one of life’s many cruel ironies.

When the damage is done, the scars remain for a long while before time fades them away. The heart, mind, and skin are pretty much the same that way: little time and effort to hurt, but more time and effort to recover and heal. And definitely, a lot more time if they’re relentlessly attacked by no one else but your own self.

It really does hurt, physically and emotionally. But I just couldn’t stop.

Excoriation is a repetitive behavior of the negative kind that is carried out with little or no control at all. And like all other psychological disorders, you simply can’t tell someone to stop it.

But you can help them to control it.

My best friends have taken it upon themselves to slap my fingers away anytime they see that I’m about to itch.

As for helping myself, I keep my thumbs (or any fresh scab that can be picked) covered with band-aids for as long as possible. I’ve also found that covering up any darkened patches on my face and with a little concealer takes away my unneeded attention I give them when I look in the mirror, along with the urge to pick at them.

It also helps me not to feel bad about my appearance.

But I generally don’t like applying makeup if I don’t have to. So my objective is to avoid getting anything that can be picked on my skin in the first place: I try to consume as much water and healthy foods as I can, make a light exercise as part of my daily routine, and exfoliate so I don’t have any ingrown hairs on my body.

I find that it kills two birds with one stone since it reduces my anxiety, especially when I feel better about my overall person after some self-care.

However, environmental stressors are beyond anyone’s control. In that case, I ball my hands up into fists and keep my thumbs inside of them. Not only does it save their literal skin, but it prevents my fingers from picking on anything else on my body too.

I’m aware, of course, that this problem exists on various extents for different people who also have different (possibly better) ways of dealing with it. But my point is that no matter how strong the urge is, you are, you can, and you will emerge stronger than it.

I’d be lying if I say my compulsiveness has gone away, but I feel like I’ve managed it better than I have in the past. I’m still learning to do so, but I’m also learning to love myself through it and not be overcome by the guilt and regret.

It was beyond my control back then, through no fault of my own, but now I’m taking control.

And you will too.