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Dahvi Shira

Beauty

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things—Skyelyfe’s Beauty + Wellness 2020 Holiday Gift Guide

November 25, 2020

Whether the epic year of 2020 has left you feeling high or low, it’s almost over, and you’ve made it through. If there’s one year to reward yourself with something special or show gratitude to the most important people in your life, this is it. Given the unexpected stressors imposed on literally everyone this year, a beauty and wellness gift guide only seems the most fitting.

While 2020 was an angst-ridden time for all of us, there were some material goods that allowed us to temporarily relax and reset. From game-changing skincare to show-stopping scents and so much more, it’s the perfect time to celebrate the things that did elicit a smile during this stressful year.

Keep reading for skyelyfe’s beauty and wellness holiday gift guide (listed in order of price from low to high).

christmas tree and gifts
(via Unsplash)

Beauty

Juno & Co. Junoskin Clean 10 Cleansing Balm: $14.50

I’ve raved about Juno & Co.’s microfiber sponges, so I was every bit curious when the brand forayed into skincare this fall. I was fortunate enough to receive the full line to try (it also includes a CBD + niacinamide soothing mask, and kale + probiotic deep cleansing mask). While I genuinely enjoy all three products (and at unbeatable prices with effective, natural ingredients), the cleansing balm is my standout pick. When it comes to cleansers, what’s more satisfying than feeling a full face of makeup melt into a buttery consistency and off of your skin? This product is packed with Japanese Pearl Barley Magic+ and Vitamin E, which brighten, hydrate and nourish the skin. The perfect stocking stuffer or standalone, this is a foolproof purchase for any recipient.

*Buy 1, get 1 for $1 Black Friday deal (on brushes and sponges)

NAILS OF LA Press-On Nails (The Muse): $16

Among the unexpected beauty trends of 2020 is the adhesive nail. What was once a cheap, one-time-wear, costume accessory, has morphed into a chic, lesser expensive way to up your hand game. Due to the pandemic and salon restraint, brands have emerged with innovative, long-lasting temporary nails. The latest to take the plunge? Celebrity nail artist, Brittney Boyce. With sleek, modern designs and manageable lengths, there’s really no telling these press-ons aren’t straight from the salon. Added bonus? Each pack comes with a set of 24 nails, file/buffer duo, cuticle stick, adhesive tabs and nail glue.

*Black Friday: (11.26 – 11.29) 35% off sitewide. No code necessary.

Cyber Monday: (11/30) 1 free set of press-ons for every 2 sets purchased. No code necessary.

Giving Tuesday: (11/31) 10% of sales from Giving Tuesday will benefit Ken-Mar Rescue, a Los Angeles-based small dog rescue non-profit group, in loving memory of the founder’s late dog Louie.

Sola Look Brenda ❤️ Dylan ❤️ Kelly 90210 Makeup Collection: $20

If you know a fellow self-proclaimed biggest-Beverly Hills, 90210-fan-ever (a la me), this is just the gift for them! Complete with three liquid lipsticks and a six-shade eyeshadow palette with names that speak to the soul, this is sure to tug at the heartstrings, drumming up memories of the most gut-wrenching love triangle in teen TV drama history.

ORLY Mini Gel Lamp: $24.99

As mentioned above, we’re living in a DIY world right now—and yes, that very much includes nails. If someone you know can’t live without their gels, now they can do them from home (and for cheap!), thanks to ORLY’s mouse-sized mini LED lamp. All they need is the brand’s GELFX polish and they’re good to go!

*Up to 60%-off ORLY gel color bundles

Jafra Royal Jelly Radiance Foundation: $31

While foundation may not seem like your quintessential holiday gift, hear me out. I came across Jafra cosmetics this year, and since getting my hands on their Royal Jelly foundation, my skin hasn’t looked the same. This magical, under-the-radar product provides full coverage, while still managing to make me look somewhat natural. It also has added glow, and I get compliments on my “skincare routine” every time I wear it. It’s also affordable and lasts a long time. And with built-in SPF 20, this item is a no-brainer.

Nudeskin Lemon-Aid Detox & Glow Micro-Peel: $34

Nudestix launched its debut skincare line in October—and of the five-piece collection, this clarifying, detoxifying micro-peel is hands down my favorite. When it comes to face masks and peels, there’s nothing more satisfying than watching particles of dead skin instantly come to the surface. Apologies for the visual, but anyone who receives this as a gift will understand the instant gratification—while feeling smoother, softer skin in less than two minutes!

Makanai Pure Beauty Travel Kit: $35

Longtime JBeauty brand Makanai just launched in the U.S., and after only a few weeks of using their deeply hydrating products, I’m totally sold. It’s hard to pick a favorite (it’s a tossup between the 24K gold Skin Jewel Oil Serum and the Kanazawa Beauty Face Cream)—but luckily the brand makes it easy to try everything at once with this handy travel kit. It even comes with a pretty carrying accessory. With chic packaging and luxe ingredients, whomever you’re shopping for will have no idea you didn’t break the bank!

Seiso JBeauty Fuwafuwa Foaming Cleanser: $38

With the unexpected skincare boom amid the pandemic, I tested more cleansers this year alone than in my total lifetime. So, when I say this one tops them all, you know it means something. Packed with coconut amino acids, fermented rice extract and glycerin, this product gently cleans, conditions, softens, clears and hydrates. Applied to dry skin, you can feel the dirt particles disintegrate as you gently use the product in circular motions. Once rinsed, you’ll instantly notice brighter, elevated skin.

*Purchase with Water Velvet Cream and use code CLEANSERFRIDAY to get the cleanser for free. Must add both items in your cart to redeem.

Native Atlas Universal Oil (Nairobi): $39

Native Atlas launched a collection of world travel-inspired universal oils. Omnis, Sanaa, Nairobi and Cocoa Beach are the four offerings, and each is a gender-neutral, plant-based formula made for the hair, skin and body. I’ve been using Nairobi for the last few months, and it’s become a staple in my skincare routine. It gives my face just the right amount of added shine, while keeping my often dry cuticles hydrated.

Boscia Berry Blend Smoothing Facial With 28% Acid Complex: $44

If you’re looking to give the gift of professional-level skincare at a fraction of the price, I highly recommend this product. Its 28% acid complex is something usually only found in spa-grade products, making this a first for the Boscia brand. This innovative formula exfoliates dead skin cells away, eradicates dullness and resurfaces the skin. While there’s a slight sting upon use, it’s only a sign that the product is working its magic.

RAINCRY Advanced Hair Mist (Blanc): $53

If you spent any time with me this summer, there was no escaping a spritz of hair fragrance, courtesy of RAINCRY’s Blanc scent. The sleek glass bottle from the luxe hair brand is packed with notes of soft floral, heliotrope, jasmine, morning dew and rose. Fitting for either sex, this alluring aroma is the perfect on-the-go addition for everyday use. And don’t expect the formula to dry out your ‘do. It actually infuses and hydrates your locks with amino acids. The line also carries three additional fragrances if you’re yearning for more!

Pureology Strength Cure Holiday Kit: $70

I have thick, damaged, color-treated hair, so it’s been a lot of trial and error finding products that actually make my mane look healthy. Especially with the chilly days of recent weeks, my hair is brittle as ever. I received Pureology Strength Cure shampoo and conditioner by chance in a gift bag, and I haven’t used anything else regularly since. Key ingredients keravis and astaxanthin fortify and repair damaged, color-treated hair—and a signature aromatherapy blend of raspberry, peach and water flowers leaves the locks with a refreshing fragrance. Complete with a multitasking leave-in spray and dry shampoo, this kit, valued at $101, should appease your pal with even the wildest of hair woes.

Pixi Beauty Glow Treatment Bundle: $72

While this year’s holiday season hits a wee bit differently, in a normal circumstance, we’d all have party upon party to prep for. Therefore, this five-part skincare bundle (valued at $90) provides that on-the-go glow we’d need for a night on the town. But whether we’re out and about in normalcy or locked indoors, no one will be disappointed to receive this set that gently exfoliates, refines pores and energizes complexion. Even if it’s solely for the sake of IG, a girl’s gotta glow!

MARA Beauty Sea Vitamin C Serum: $96

What beauty and wellness gift guide would be complete without a solid serum, amirite? When clean skincare brand MARA first launched in 2018 with its Universal Face Oil, I was drawn to its deeply hydrating properties. Fast-forward to a few months ago, the brand launched a Chlorella + Reishi formula that provides the same all-day hydration, but with the added effects of Vitamin C and other powerful ingredients. It’s a perfect gift for the skincare lover worth splurging on, and you can’t go wrong with that sleek glass packaging.

WEN by Chaz Dean Bella Spirit ReMoist Hair Mask: $180

When it comes to my breakout beauty star amid the pandemic, it’s hands down this product. I never understood the power of a hair mask until just one use of this magical formula. And months later, this remains my go-to. I’ve praised this nourishing mask countless times on Mane Addicts—and thanks to its blend of lavender, cucumber, eucalyptus herbal botanical waters, extracts, oils and amino acids, I’m left with good as new hair after each rinse. While the price point is indeed steep, Chaz explained to me firsthand that each tub provides approximately 16 treatments-worth of a $50 in-salon service. While this probably won’t be the gift you buy for everyone on your list, it’s definitely worth it for a special someone.

Wellness

Manna Kadar Hand Sanitizer & Anti-Bacterial Soap Caddy: $24

For the girly-girl in your life, this rose gold hand-cleansing duo not only looks darling atop a beauty counter with its accompanying caddy—but it smells absolutely divine. Featuring a combo of pomegranate scent and soothing sea water, this light, feminine fragrance is sure to please.

SERUMKIND Black Blossom Hand Serum: $27

As a K-beauty brand known for, well, serums, it only makes sense SERUMKIND launched a hand serum to accompany its face products. Fit for the dryness brought on by the winter months ahead, this new, deeply hydrating formula caters to the skin barrier with the healing effects of black tulip from the Netherlands. The result? Instantly silky hands. This product has stocking stuffer written all over it!

Som Sleep Zero Sugar 12-Pack: $29.99

If you know an insomniac (and we all do!), grant them the gift of sleep! I discovered these Som Sleep canned drinks in a self-care essentials kit from PitchBox Media, and I’ve got to say, I wasn’t disappointed. The gluten-free, non-GMO, berry-flavored beverages knock you out easily, without leaving you groggy the next day. While they certainly won’t fix any longstanding sleep issues, they’re perfect for those occasional restless nights tossing and turning sans Zzzs.

Trücup Coffee Pods: $39.95 (48-piece, three-roast sampler pack)

If there’s one wellness routine that got me through 2020, it was waking up early, showering, brewing a hot cup of coffee and taking 10 minutes to cozy-up in bed and meditate before kicking off my day. Coffee is a huge part of my daily life, and I include Trücup here in particular because their low-acid, boutique coffee blends are not only rich in flavor, but they’re less harsh on the stomach, creating a more seamless sipping experience.

Le Labo Body Lotion, Exclusively for EDITION Hotels: $58.65

Unpopular opinion, but I’m not the biggest Le Labo fan. That said, their black tea-infused body lotion made exclusively for EDITION Hotels makes up for any past fragrances that haven’t tickled my fancy. I love tea-inspired scents more than anything else, and this body lotion seriously speaks to me. Much like the vibe of the trendy hotel, this aroma is dark, mysterious and sexy. If you’re not sold by now, welp, more for me!

*Free four-piece Le Labo travel set with every ShopEdition.com purchase.

BX Glow Pure Energy Fitness Kit: $68

With L.A. going into lockdown all over again, you better believe this at-home fitness kit will come in handy for the workout junkie or simply the girl stuck at home with nothing to do. Designed by former Basketball Wives star Evelyn Lozada, this easy-to-transport set comes with all the essentials: three levels of resistance tube bands, three levels of resistance loop bands and a set of one-pound ankle weights. There’s no excuse now!

Moen Aromatherapy Hand Shower With INLY Shower Capsules: $129

For the loved one who’s still owed their housewarming gift, or for the one who simply needs a shower upgrade, lap them in luxury with this sleek, easy-to-assemble chrome shower head, complete with four aromatherapy capsules to match their mood. Adjustable settings are built into the shower head, so they can use however much of the refreshing fragrance as they wish.

MiHIGH Infrared Sauna Blanket: $499

This detoxifying, mind-calming, calorie-burning blanket is just the trick for your partner or close family member. Now only does the leather material keep you bundled, but you get the benefits of infrared saunas from the comfort of your own home. Complete with infrared heating and waterproof layers, about an hour a few times a week is all you need to be on your way to better sleep, less stress, rejuvenated skin and increased blood flow.

Looking for more skincare purchases this holiday season? HERE are some new CBD-infused beauty products to have on your radar!

Angelenos

The Happy Place Just Launched as an Immersive Drive-Thru Experience in L.A.—Here’s What You Can Expect

November 20, 2020

With COVID-19 cases rising as we near the end of 2020, our activities are becoming more limited than ever. With all of the madness in mind, The Happy Place drive-thru launched as a way to temporarily distract us. In doing so, the pop-up provides a safe, interactive, family-friendly L.A. experience at the beloved outdoor Westfield Century City mall.

I was invited for a sneak peak of the attraction just before today’s official launch (Nov. 20). I invited Identify LA‘s Meagan Sargent to join me—we grabbed our masks and hit the road!

Keep reading for everything you can expect at The Happy Place drive-thru.

1. Getting Situated on Site Is a Seamless Process

As mentioned above, THP is located in Westfield Century City’s parking structure (on the third level, to be exact). Before arrival, you’re instructed to proceed through the Avenue of the Stars entrance. From there, you’ll see easy-to-follow signs that eventually lead you to the exact start of the attraction.

Prior to arrival, you purchase tickets on the website for $49.50 per car. Yes, you can have as many (fitting) attendees for just one fee. When you go to purchase your ticket, you’ll also see a calendar that lists open slots to attend. Your ticket includes two hours of free parking at the mall, encouraging you to shop and dine before or after if you want to make a full day of it. The experience is currently listed through Jan. 10, 2021.

2. The Experience Is 100% COVID-Compliant

Despite the multitude of stationary attractions that make for perfect photo opps, no one is allowed outside of their vehicle. Masks must be worn at all times, and any photos must be taken from inside the car. While this part is a bit of a bummer (the decor is just begging to be photographed with you in front of it), we appreciate the extreme safety precautions taken to ensure this lives up to its worry-free-zone message.

3. Kids Will Especially Love It

While my friend and I are definitely drawn to every Instagram photo opp, kids will be more than satisfied just cruising through each of the 18 (!) attractions (50,000 sq. ft.), which include everything from a simulated car wash, to a candy row and “Christmas tree” line. Additionally, upon arrival, we received a box with goodies that coincided with some of the stops. Kids will without question dig the freshly baked cookie, bag of Hershey’s kisses and other sweet treats packed to perfection.

4. It Won’t Take Much Time Out of Your Day

While I can’t speak for how the experience will go on a busy day, our drive-thru lasted all of 20 minutes. Granted, it was just us two, so perhaps if other people had been with us, it may have taken longer. But not being able to get out of the car certainly cut the time down a bit.

5. A Lot of Effort Went Into This Production

From the way we saw it, no expense was spared for this experience. From the lights to the intricate detail, to the variety of attractions, there really is something for everyone here—and it doesn’t appear cheap. You’re basically taken on a simulated road trip, hitting various points that include a beach, a camping area, the super bloom, San Francisco and plenty more.

The experience was conceptualized by Jared Paul, a live entertainment veteran, who has managed the careers of New Kids on the Block, Sabrina Carpenter and Lea Michele. He’s also responsible for America’s Got Talent Live! and GLEE! Live.

Curious about what else is going on in the City of Angels amid the pandemic? Click HERE for the best L.A. lifestyle newsletters to keep you afloat!

Food

Best Instagram Captions for Pics of You and an Ice Cold Beer

November 17, 2020

If you’re reading this, there’s a pretty good chance you live for sipping an ice cold brewski. If such is the case, you obviously need the perfect beer Instagram captions to flaunt your favorite hobby all over social media.

If an ice-cold, yeast-filled beverage is everything your heart desires, keep reading for the seven best quotes to use as beer Instagram captions.

(Instagram via @campbellhawk)

For that mirror selfie of you holding up—what else?—a beer:

“I’ve only been in love with a beer bottle and a mirror.” 

-Sid Vicious

For the pic of you covered up in sweats while sipping beer:

“I’m gaining weight the right way: I’m drinking beer.”

-Johnny Damon

For the shot of you clinking beer bottles with a pal:

“In a study, scientists report that drinking beer can be good for the liver. I’m sorry, did I say ‘scientists’? I meant Irish people.”

-Tina Fey

(Instagram via @friscowildpitch)

For the shot of you sipping beer with no cares in the world:

“Not all chemicals are bad. Without chemicals such as hydrogen and oxygen, there would be no way to make water, a vital ingredient in beer.”

-Dave Barry

For the cheeky pic of you looking all dolled up with a brew in hand as your best accessory:

“Milk is for babies. When you grow up, you have to drink beer.”

-Arnold Schwarzenegger

(Instagram via @savain016)

For the photo of you clearly a bit tipsy from one too many brewskis:

“24 hours in a day. 24 beers in a case. Coincidence? I think not.” 

-H.L. Mencken

For the shot of you staring adoringly at your stash:

“To some it’s a six-pack. To me it’s a support group.” 

-Leo Durocher

If you love beer as much as we do, click HERE for six delicious hard ciders you need to try immediately!

Beauty

Dry Brushing Isn’t Just for the Body—An Expert Explains Why You Should Do It to Your Face

November 17, 2020

Dry brushing your face may sound like a foreign concept—it did to me until recently.

Last week, I received a mailer from Daily Concepts, which included their brand new Daily Facial Dry Brush ($20). At first glance, I thought it was another body brush, but after looking closer I realized I wasn’t previously familiar with a product like this.

(Instagram via @dailyconcepts)

By now, wellness gurus know that dry brushing the body helps exfoliate dead cells from the skin surface and enhances blood flow. The drier the brush and skin, the more friction is increased to better exfoliate. As for dry brushing the face? Well, I imagine it has similar benefits.

Eager to learn more, I reached out to Daily Concepts’ founder, Emilio Smeke. Below, the skincare expert explains the benefits of dry brushing your face, and how to do it effectively.

skyelyfe: What, exactly, is a dry brush for the face?

Emilio Smeke: It’s a soft divide that will drain the lymphatic system starting in all the pathways we have in our face. It also helps reduce fine lines and wrinkles by exfoliating dead skin cells and stimulating circulation.

(Instagram via @threetideswellness)

SL: How does a dry face brush differ from a dry body brush?

ES: They’re similar in their performance, yet really different in the level of abrasiveness of its components, making the facial a delicate brush that won’t be harsh on your skin.

SL: Is a dry face brush for everyone?

ES: If you have any breakouts or irritated, broken or sunburned skin, then this definitely should not be used. But in general, this is designed for all skin types.

(Instagram via @dailyconcepts)

SL: How do you properly use one?

ES: We’ve created a step-by-step process:

Step 1: Stroke along your lymphatic pathways

Step 2: Stroke downward along jawline

Step 3: Brush upwards along your cheeks

Step 4: Stroke around your eyes

Step 5: Brush forehead/nose downward

Step 6: Brush cheeks downward

Step 7: Brush neck downward

How to clean: Sprinkle cornstarch or clay powder and massage gently into bristles

If you’re looking for info on other new skincare products, HERE‘s my review of Nudestix’s skincare line, Nudeskin.

Beauty

Is Gold in Skincare a Gimmick or Actually Good for You? I Asked an Expert

November 10, 2020

Ah, gold… the metallic yellow chemical element that screams all things luxe. But gold in skincare products—is it all for show or actually effective?

I reached out to Maryann McManus, Director of Sales at Makanai, a longtime J-beauty brand that just launched in the states. As a company known for featuring 24K gold in skincare products, I had to understand what this ingredient does, aside from looking pretty.

Keep reading for everything to know about the benefits of applying this precious metal to your face.

(Instagram via @makanai_beauty)

skyelyfe: What are the benefits of 24K gold in skincare? 

Maryann McManus: 24K gold leaf helps improve elasticity through increasing dermal fibroblast production. It helps refine skin texture through collagen production when applied to the skin. 

SL: What makes Makanai’s products different from other 24K gold-infused skincare on the market? 

MM: Makanai contains only the purest form of gold—999.9%—which is made in Japan, with clinical studies to backup the science. *editor’s note: 999.9% is the way gold purity is measured.

SL: What’s Makanai’s hero product and why? 

MM: The Makanai Skin Jewel Oil Serum is formulated with 24K gold leaf flakes produced in Kanazawa, with a skin-compatible blend of seven botanical oils that absorb quickly to leave skin hydrated with a youthful luminescence.

(Instagram via @makanai_beauty)

SL: Is 24K gold always beneficial in skincare or does it need to be formulated in a certain way?

MM: If it’s the right quality, gold can be beneficial to skin on its own. Although, it’s even more beneficial when used together with our delivery system of botanical oils so that the ingredients fully absorb.   

SL: What makes 24K gold more or less expensive in skincare? Is it actually due to the benefits or formulation, or more about the luxe association of the ingredient?

MM: This is a difficult question to answer since we don’t know how other brands source their raw materials or formulate them into their products. At Makanai, we’re committed to choosing only ethical and sustainable sourcing, as well as only using premium quality gold leaf. Hence, our products are fair-priced. 

SL: Is 24K gold an ingredient for everyone? Or will certain skin types react differently to it?

MM: While we haven’t experienced customers having any reactions to using the gold leaf, we can’t be completely certain. We recommend either doing a patch test or consulting with a physician for those who may be concerned about skin reactions. 

(Instagram via @makanai_beauty)

SL: Is there anything else consumers should know about Makanai or 24K gold in skincare? 

MM: Makanai offers a full line of cleansers, face creams, toners, soaps and dedicated hand care products. Most of the products feature a proprietary KaESS complex, comprised of persimmon (kaki) leaf, rich in vitamins and antioxidants; eggshell membrane for hydration and collagen elasticity; and soybean sterol to combat dryness and the appearance of wrinkles and dark spots.

A collection of specialty products, including Goldays 24K Perfector Sheet, Skin Jewel Oil Serum and Goldays Magic Glow Balm harness the goodness of 24K gold leaf and shower the skin with moisture and luminosity. Our products are proudly made in Japan, cruelty-free, paraben-free, phenoxyethanol free, synthetic color or perfume-free, silicone-free, carbomer-free and BHT free. All ingredients comply with EU cosmetic regulation standards, the most stringent in the world.

For more expert info on buzzy ingredients, click HERE to find out if CBD-infused skincare is right for you.

Lifestyle

5 Things You Should Buy Your Boyfriend—Just So You Can Steal From Their Closet

October 28, 2020

Nothing’s worse than feeling like your S.O.’s garb is cramping your style (no pun intended). Whether you cohabitate or simply spend a lot of time together, your overlap of clothing is bound to get in the way. That’s why, if you’re dating a dude, make your life easier by figuring out what to steal from your boyfriend’s closet.

While gender norms have greatly gone out the window (at least in L.A.), plenty of clothing articles are obviously still designated for men. Therefore, we’re here to help you keep your man’s wardrobe growing, while benefitting in the process. Especially with holiday season around the corner, why not swoop up something that will (secretly) appease both of you?

(Instagram via @deepikaa_malikk)

To break down the best items to buy for your BF (only to steal them from their closet), we reached out to BJ Panda Bear. BJ is the cofounder of fashion and lifestyle e-commerce space, QooA—keep reading for his 5 musts!

1. Oversized Sweater

An oversized sweater on him is an oversized sweater for you waiting to happen. If you’re lucky enough, it’ll be so oversized that it fits you both.

(via Dries Van Noten)

2. Eyewear

Eyewear is always a shoo-in when you’re fake shopping for the boo. Edgy on him is bound to be fashion on you. Try unconventional shapes and colors.

(via Loewe)

3. Mini Bag

The democratic experience of the mini bag is something anyone can enjoy and embrace. It’s a statement of love if you really know the persons taste, or rather the value of neutral colors to steal into your own selection.

(via Issey Miyake)

4. Hoodie

When you think about what to steal from your boyfriend’s closet, the classic hoodie’s the most natural first thought. The ’50s-era equivalent of wearing of your BF’s letterman jacket in today’s TikTok times is surely the worn-in hoodie, is it not?

(via Reese Cooper)

5. Bold Printed Button-Down

Versace Versace Versace/Gucci Gucci Gucci… We kid… sorta. But really, any brand with the most boisterous prints will do. Play with the XXL size. It might be a luxuriant and playful gift for him, but it will soon be a wrap dress belted for you.

(via Versace)

Now that you know what to steal from your boyfriend’s closet, be grateful because you also get to avoid THESE obnoxious dating profiles.

Food

Get to Know Fairfax’s New Plant-Based Eatery, Extra Market, Inc.

October 23, 2020

Launching a business amid a pandemic is obviously hard enough. Doing so during the height of the Black Lives Matter movement and its accompanying riots… in the thick of the chaos? Sounds impossible.

Skateboarder and $ clothing designer Jamie Story was on the verge of opening his plant-based eatery Extra Market, Inc. Then the unthinkable hit the Fairfax District of where his spot is based. Following a new plan, the multifaceted artist is well into fall with a successful new business under his belt.

Jamie spoke to skyelyfe about his challenging launch experience and how Extra Market, Inc. stands out from the slew of other vegan dining establishments in L.A.

Photo Credit: @sdj

skyelyfe: What was your experience initially launching a new business at the height of rioting on Fairfax?

Jamie Story: I’m not sure any experience could prepare anyone to open amid whatever was or is happening now. When the protests were happening here it was more fear of possible destruction of what we’d been building over the past year. My friend hit me at 1 p.m. Saturday and said I should check my spot and they were going to march up Fairfax. I was totally unaware they started at noon. I rushed down and had to seal up a ceiling door. When I came out, the protests were heading up the back alley. We were lucky, though many of our neighbors were not. It made an already difficult time much rougher. The whole neighborhood came together to rebuild, and some are still working to get open. Foot traffic is slowly picking up every day.

Photo credit: Benjamin Story

SL: What made you decide to open your restaurant in the area you chose?

JS: Fairfax is a familiar neighborhood. I’ve worked with many of the brands on the block over the years.

SL: How does Extra Market differ from other popular vegan eateries in L.A.? 

JS: Extra Market is more of a conceptual project that will be collaborating with other restaurants, brands, artists and more. Once things get back to whatever the new normal is, we’ll be able to utilize our back space for galleries, events and pop-ups. 

SL: What are the restaurant’s specialties?

JS: That would be up to the customer. We’re excited about the burgers and people are excited about our pickles. More and more people are ordering a burger with a salad as opposed to burger, fries and soda. We offer the balance of indulgence and health. You can have Chili-Cheese Fries and a Broccoli Salad so you can have a little less guilt. Also everything is plant-based, and offering items like pressed juice and ginger shots brings healthier options to the block. 

Photo credit: Jamie Story / Extra Market, Inc.
Photo credit: Jamie Story / Extra Market, Inc.

SL: How did this project come to be?

I’d been looking to open a restaurant, but only if it was kind of the right space and time. This just felt right, being able to balance my creative and culinary sides. I’ve been making many of the dishes you see on the menu for my family and friends for years, and I grew up working in kitchens in New York. I was initially nervous, but I’m really proud of what I’ve built, and the feedback has been amazing.

SL: Who are some of your influences in the foodie/restaurateur space?

JS: Anthony Bourdain.

If you’re looking to explore more spots unique to the City of Angels, then you’ll appreciate THIS list of L.A. shopping gems a tourist wouldn’t know!

Beauty

My Honest Review of Nudestix’s Brand New Nudeskin Skincare Line

October 22, 2020

I’m always fascinated when a popular makeup brand forays into skincare. It seems like the most natural next move, but it’s still interesting to see which products and ingredients they choose to hone in on, and how they plan to hold their own in a heavily concentrated space.

When I received an invite to Nudestix‘s virtual soft launch of their Nudeskin skincare line, (which officially released Oct. 10), my interest was immediately piqued. First, there’s the colorful packaging and clean, vegan ingredients. I also like that the four-part (five-product) system is easy and straightforward, and each size adheres to travel guidelines.

My mailer arrived in a sleek Nudestix branded box with all of the packaging marked “biodegradable.” It came with full sizes of each product, and a branded face towel. There were also easy-to-follow descriptions placed in the order of application. But how did I feel once I put the line to use? Keep reading for my honest Nudeskin review.

Citrus Clean Balm & Make-Up Melt: $34

This citrus-infused cleansing balm includes rose hip fruit oil, essential oils and pore-cleansing oils. This is step one in the two-part cleansing process. This first step is optional, but I made it a point to test the line on a day I was wearing a ton of makeup. So yes, this makeup-melting step was indeed necessary.

I’ve got to say, these are my favorite types of makeup removers. I love feeling thick mascara disintegrate into my fingers. And even though it’s not the prettiest, makeup melts typically get the job done—and this is no exception.

Gentle Hydra-Gel Face Cleanser: $18

As the second step (but first on a minimal makeup day), this non-foaming clean water gel was made to remove natural makeup. It also clarifies skin tone and gently cleanses skin impurities without harsh surfactants and chemicals. It’s developed with bergamot fruit oil, natural AHAs and actives. It’s made to be suitable for the most sensitive skin, reducing inflammation, irritation, blemishes and dryness.

I’m glad this option exists in the line because after product one, I still felt like I needed an additional cleanse to fully remove any lingering makeup. Once this application was complete, my face looked fresh.

Lemon-Aid Detox & Glow Micro-Peel: $34

The third step is a skin clarifying peel that detoxes pores of excess oil, dirt and pollution. Papain enzymes allow for the peeling process, and apple and pomegranate extracts enable deep pore cleansing action. And, of course, Vitamin C renews and brightens the skin.

This is hands-down the best part of my Nudeskin review. This isn’t the most Insta-worthy aspect, but it’s certainly the most satisfying. Who doesn’t love balls of dead skin coming to the face’s surface? And, most importantly, my skin looked even more revived after the process.

5% Citrus Fruit & Glycolic Glow Toner: $28

Next up is the toner, made with a 3% glycolic acid and 2% fruit acid complex. This spa-strength resurfacing treatment is made to accelerate the skin’s cell renewal process by smoothing and brightening, minimizing the appearance of lines and pores, and leaving a plump-and-glowing complexion.

This comes with a push pump that makes the product easy to distribute, and the product’s 3-in-1 formula saves time and effort of having to apply a serum with similar benefits.

Citrus-C Mask & Daily Moisturizer: $38

The final step in the process is the active-rich hydrator. This can be used daily under makeup or overnight as a mask. Fermented yuzu oil and turmeric extract make up the cream. It’s formulated to deeply moisturize skin, gently boost collagen and help reduce environmental inflammation.

I feel a mild sting when I use this product, but that’s a sign the actives are hard at work! My skin feels instantly bouncier and hydrated after its application. There’s a very faint, expected citrus scent, but it goes away a few moments after the product is rubbed in. After completing the five-product process, my skin looks cleansed, hydrated and healthy as you can see in the image below.

Now that this Nudeskin review has you all caught up on your bathroom basics, HERE are the newest CBD skincare products to have on your radar!

Music

10 Introspective Albums to Listen to While You Light Your Pumpkin Spice Candles

October 17, 2020

Isn’t it funny how we can go from blasting Cardi B and The Chainsmokers (JK on the latter) on Labor Day weekend to suddenly going solemn three weeks later? Yeah, Invasion of Privacy isn’t exactly up there with albums that feel like fall.

But anyway, when the leaves are turning and the sun’s no longer burning, music just feels different. While pool parties and backyard BBQs full of bass are surely a good time, nothing compares to cozying up with hot coffee in sweats to the sounds of moody music and the scents of pumpkin spice.

If you’re on the hunt for songs that will elicit your emotions during this time of year, keep reading for 10 introspective albums that feel like fall.

a couple walks through leaves in the woods or forest
(via Unsplash)

1. Strange Tales – Lord Huron

Strange Tales is here for all your dreamy folk desires. On the 14-song album, dark topics, including death, are intertwined with breathtaking melodies, making this melancholy collection slightly easier to digest.

2. Thank You for Today – Death Cab for Cutie

Everything about Death Cab epitomizes fall vibes, but since Plans’ iconic 2005 release, none of the band’s albums spoke to the magic of the season until 2018’s Thank You for Today. It most closely resembles the aforementioned—after all, there’s even a song called Autumn Love. Need we say more?

3. Strange Pleasures – Still Corners

If you’re going for a dreamy, ethereal vibe, this album will speak to you. Light and luminous, it’s the perfect background music for your next pumpkin carving picnic or fall-themed dinner party.

4. Nocturne – Wild Nothing

This is without question one of the best indie albums of all time. Each song is filled with beautiful, serene melodies without tearing us apart. It’s hopeful, light and timeless—and while we most classify it with fall, it’s truly suitable year-round.

5. Goddess (Deluxe) – Banks

We’re not quite sure what happened to Banks after releasing her insanely promising debut—but either way, Goddess disrupted what we considered pop norms. Her music began to define the new “alternative,” and the melodies from this album are dark as a crisp fall night.

6. Bon Iver – Bon Iver

If you want to transport your mind to an enchanted forest in the middle of nowhere, one listen to anything on this 10-track album will do just the trick. The cohesive selection of songs flow effortlessly, taking you on a spiritual journey from start to finish. And once you’re done, you can step back a few years and listen to 2008’s For Emma, Forever Ago, which, thankfully sounds every bit the same as the aforementioned.

7. Cruel Intentions Original Soundtrack – Various Artists

Much like the provocative, dark ’90s film, its alluring soundtrack still holds up today, and each track evokes curiosity and mystique. To this day, not a film or accompanying soundtrack has done what Cruel Intentions has. Both beautiful and melancholy, every song from start to finish will make you feel something.

8. Fumbling Towards Ecstasy – Sarah McLachlan

If you’re a child of the ’90s you know the massive impact Sarah McLachlan had on music. The Lilith Fair cofounder was a pioneer of making thoughtful albums that, yes, feel like fall. Her 1997 album Surfacing garnered huge mainstream success, but 1993’s lesser known Fumbling Towards Ecstasy resonates with us in a deeper way.

9. Shore – Fleet Foxes

Don’t let the title of Fleet Foxes’ new album fool you—there are no beachy vibes to found on this 15-song selection of folk-rock melodies. But that doesn’t mean they’re not uplifting. If you’re looking for a serene album with a light tone, this is your best bet.

10. Badlands (Deluxe) – Halsey

Halsey has always maintained her disposition as an angsty, brooding artist. But just on the brink of mainstream fame, she released Badlands, a raw, organic look into past relationships and mental health struggles. With no collaborations or buzzy production credits, this melancholic selection of thought-provoking tracks is not only the singer at her finest, but the closest thing to fall-sounding pop out there.

 

Now that you have plenty of albums that feel like fall, mix things up with THIS playlist of best songs from artists at Coachella 2017!

Lifestyle

I’ve Started Using Virtual Sound Baths to Put Me to Bed in Minutes Each Night

October 14, 2020

I’m all about natural forms of healing. I struggle with anxiety and I subconsciously hold on to the past, so this affects my day-to-day life. I’ve received reiki many times, I’ve used healing crystals and I’ve even taken a special full moon healing bath which required tons of preparation. And, as of a month ago, I’ve been using virtual sound baths because I can’t fall asleep.

Sound healing is a powerful form of meditation. This is a different turn for me because I’ve never been a meditation kind of gal. It’s hard getting out of my head and sitting still for so long. After completing a traditional meditation session, I’ve never felt any differently—but you need to do it consistently. Recently, the founder of a major meditation studio in L.A. reached out about trying her new app. And that’s when things changed.

(via Pexels)

I likely have more restless nights than the average person, but there was a recent evening in particular that my mind was all TikTok’d out and I would’ve given anything to fall asleep. I downloaded the aforementioned app—and rather than opt for a guided meditation, I clicked on one of the sound healing selections. The 40-minute session required nothing more than for me to lie down, close my eyes and be able to hear. I kid you not, it knocked me out in five minutes. Sleeping pills wake me up in the middle of the night after they wear off; sleepy teas make me have to use the restroom in the middle of the night; CBD products give me crazy dreams. In other words, nothing’s worked up to this point.

I’ve gone to sound baths at various L.A. venues, and I’ve fallen asleep pretty shortly into the sessions. But honestly, I thought my simple snooze-fest resulted from my workplace, which zapped all my energy. The office always left me exhausted, but now I realize I actually fell asleep for a deeper reason.

I’ve been so excited to share my life-changing discovery with others that I reached out to Roxie Sarhangi, better known in cyberspace as @roxiesoundhealing. Keep reading for Roxie’s amazing tips on how to use sound healing to fall asleep.

skyelyfe: How did you get involved in sound healing?

Roxie Sarhangi: The first time I recall hearing the powerful sound of a gong in person was in a yoga class during Savasana. This was about a decade or so ago. It was a momentous visceral experience. I felt the vibration deep within my chest, and it brought my mind immediately to the present moment. I remember leaving, wanting to experience the gong for a longer period of time. 

The first sound bath I experienced was in Ojai with Tibetian bowls, and it felt so calming and deeply relaxing. The ethereal sound really captivated me, so from there, I went to sound baths all over L.A. I decided I wanted to learn how to share it with others, so I became a certified sound healer practitioner in 2018.

SL: What were your initial experiences with it when you were exploring just for fun?

RS: I touched upon this above, but essentially, I always like to stay curious and have a learner’s mind. Sound healing is esoteric, unique and feels powerful. I loved the idea of everyone getting together to better themselves in this unique environment. I definitely wasn’t planning on becoming a sound healer!  

SL: What’s the science behind sound healing and its ability to ease tension and assist with sleep ailments?

RS: Sound healing affects brain waves to slow down to a profoundly relaxing and restorative state. Notes of the crystal bowls are tuned to the seven chakras and energy centers. These help recenter us when we’re out of alignment. They’re also tuned to 432 hertz, the vibrational frequency of nature. If you think about it, everything has a frequency. Every living element in our body emits a frequency. The frequency of the crystal bowls is often described as a sound of the “universe.”

I’ll also play the symphonic gong, one of the oldest instruments. Its roots trace back to around 3500 B.C. The gong is used to release tension and blocks in the body, stimulating a higher functioning of the glandular and nervous system. I’ve heard many attendees share that they have the best sleep after sound healing. They’re in a deeply relaxed state primed for sleep, so that is why. As I understand it, you’re essentially moving from alpha and theta brainwave state. This occurs during sound healing to the next state—delta brain waves—which occurs during sleep. That’s one of the reasons why sound healing feels so magical to me!  

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The next virtual session of 11 Days of Sound Healing begins on the New Moon, next Tuesday, August 18 aligning with the lunar cycle of new beginnings. Thank you for the beautiful notes, kind messages, and love. I am thrilled you want to do this again! Me too! 🙂 It has been nothing short of a beautiful, transformative and profound journey together. Your heartfelt feedback and how these sessions are impacting you, continue to inspire me to do more!🌞 —————————————— What is 11 Days of Sound Healing? Feel deeply relaxed, calm, and cultivate a sense of well-being. For 11 days we begin each session with the profound wisdom of Persian mystics Rumi and Hafez as our guide. We practice five minutes of diaphragmatic breathing, experience 15 minutes of sound healing, and are held accountable for daily self-care activities. Self-care is more important than ever right now! This is a heart centered experience, connecting the mind, body, and soul. The sessions are 35-45 minutes total and a sliding scale: $1 a day to $11 a day. ($11-$121). Attend all 11 Days or as many as you can. Each experience is unique! I love sharing this with you. It is such an honor to connect and share this healing energy all over the world– souls from New Zealand, Vietnam, Romania, London and across the United States. This is powerful! Let’s transcend together to another dimension. 💫 —————————————— What time does it start/How to join? Simply Venmo Roxie Sound Healing and include your email and Instagram handle and you are part of our private amazing group! The sessions begin at 7 pm PST and will be recorded and available the entire 11 days. For those souls in different countries, you can also use Paypal. DM me for details.🤍 —————————————— Who should join? Anyone who wants to feel calm and heal. This is an opportunity to reconnect to your essence. During these 11 days of Sound Healing you will begin to allow more mindfulness into your daily life. You will likely feel your attitude shift as your vibration raises and you become more grounded. This work encourages a free-flowing energy of love and lightness of being from within. 🤍 #soundhealing #soundbath #souljourney #selfhealers #selfcare #rumi #11

A post shared by Roxie Sound Healing (@roxiesoundhealing) on

SL: What’s the best way for a newbie to maximize their experience with sound healing?

RS: One of the many reasons I love sound healing is that it requires very little doing of the participant, mainly showing up! I approach it as easy, effortless, and transcendent. The more you can relax, the more you can receive the sounds. I recommend giving yourself the gift of coming into the experience as relaxed as possible, without pushing. If you go to an in-person session, allow plenty of time to drive to the location, park and get settled. Bring items that can allow you to feel cozy and good. A blanket, pillow, and perhaps an eye mask. Set yourself up to feel your best.

If you do an at-home sound bath, then light a candle, sage, or palo santo. Put yourself in a physical space that feels relaxing and healing. When I do in-person sessions, they’re always at inspiring locations such as the 1 Hotel West Hollywood on their rooftop deck under the night sky. We’re under a stunning large-scale sculpture, Dream Catcher by Janet Echelman. Our brainwaves when we dream is what inspired the sculpture. How perfect for sound healing! 

When you can walk into an environment and feel uplifted, it makes an impact. If the space feels inspiring, you begin to feel inspired. Your space is very important. Another location I enjoy is at a museum style gallery, Barakat Gallery. Centuries-old artifacts, sculptures and life-size Buddhas surrounded us during our event last year. There’s an ineffable sense of depth and soul in a space like that.

SL: Are there any particular sound healing apps or YouTube videos/channels you recommend people listen to as they fall asleep?

RS: I don’t know if there are any apps only for sound healing, but that’s a great idea! I know there are sound healing sessions on Calm app, Insight Timer and YouTube. I also have a YouTube channel and IGTV with free sound healing sessions that I know souls listen to before bed.

SL: Is there anything else you’d like to add about your specific practice or sound healing in general?

RS: I feel truly honored to share sound healing. Sound is primordial. It’s the first vibration ever experienced. It is so powerful. I am constantly in awe of the power of sound. Thank you for asking me to share more about sound healing! See you under the influence of sound.

*Roxie is launching her 11 Days of Sound Healing this Friday (Oct. 16) in honor of the New Moon. To learn more or sign up, click HERE.

For more incredible healing tips and techniques, click HERE.

Lifestyle

I Struggle With Mental Health Like the Rest of Us—Here Are 6 Habits That Help Clear My Head

October 10, 2020

Today is World Mental Health Day, and after a frustrating sleep and dreams that plagued my mindset, I woke up feeling kind of crappy. I generally maintain a positive disposition and have a bright outlook on life. But that doesn’t mean I’m not a victim of thoughts in my head that spiral out of control.

Mental health isn’t a one-size-fits-all type of issue. Sometimes it’s affected by chemical imbalances; other times it’s situational. Sometimes even the slightest occurrence or thought can trigger our minds into a war zone. I’ve never had suicidal thoughts, but I’ve definitely been debilitated by what’s gone on in my mind.

When I was growing up, we were instructed to go to the dentist every six months and get our yearly physical at the doctor’s office. No one ever talked about the other stuff. If you saw a psychologist, you were crazy. If you took meds, there was something deeply wrong. I’m glad that present times have made our mental health an important conversation, because let’s face it—no one is A-OK 100% of the time.

(via Unsplash)

Just because you don’t have a psychological diagnosis doesn’t mean your mental health doesn’t take its toll from time to time. We don’t have emotional memory, so when we’re at a low point, we don’t remember the feeling we had just yesterday, for example, when we were at a high.

There are days when things just feel off and sometimes all you can do is accept the situation and live in it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat in bed all day and wallowed lonesome because people have their own lives to live. The harsh reality is I’m no one’s priority but my own. I have some amazing close friends, but no one can be at my beck and call consistently. And let’s face it: People are attracted to vibrant energy. It’s not always easy for someone to set aside their happy-go-lucky afternoon to devote their own energy to your bad day. It’s not because they don’t care, but they have their own stuff to deal with.

As tough as those dark days are, things get better—they always do. As low as I can feel one moment is as high as I can feel two days later. On the days when I feel the world caving down on me and can barely get out of bed, I remind myself that I’ve made it through 30-something years—I can make it one more day. Sometimes it’s easier said than done, but it really is possible to crawl out from the darkness.

Whether I’m struggling or not, here are six effective habits that help clear my head.

(via Unsplash)

1. I Keep Instagram Story-Watching to a Minimum

If you follow me on IG, you might think I’m obsessed with the app. I post pretty regularly and engage frequently on photos that pop up on my feed. Simply being on the app isn’t an issue for me. I love having a platform to showcase my skills and passions, and to connect with amazing people and brands I may have not otherwise.

That said, being too consumed with others’ Stories is where the issue lies. I taught myself early on that seeing what everyone is doing at all times of the day isn’t going to get me anywhere. Some people are fulfilled by knowing everyone’s every move. I, on the other hand, feel like being privy to that information only clouds the head more. So yes, while I’m happy to share my life on the app, it’s important for my mental health that I pick and choose what I let into my space from others.

2. I Press the Reset Button Every Six Months

My twice-yearly Whole30 journey can definitely be seen as extreme, and I don’t think it’s for everyone. But in general, I do think it’s imperative to press the reset button from time to time. We all have our vices and distractions that keep us from being our best selves and seeing our goals come to fruition.

By removing some of my biggest roadblocks for 30 days (or two weeks or however long you deem necessary), I’m re-centering myself. It’s a fresh start with a new perspective. Our bodies and minds are like internet or computers—they often stop working effectively until you power down and restart. The reset button doesn’t mean deep-rooted issues dissipate; it just gives you time to work on yourself without the outliers that cloud the mind.

(Photo Courtesy of SweatNSK)

3. I Protect My Energy

Now more than ever, the universe is forcing us to be selective in every aspect of our lives. A pandemic gives you the easy way out to just about anything. But aside from forced mandates, all this time spent at home and not in traffic (hallelujah) has allowed me to restructure my priorities. I no longer feel obligated to partake in something or spend time with someone just because it’s the right thing to do. I’m only doing what feels right for me. I don’t need to do things to “be nice” if it’s only compromising my energy and headspace.

4. I Partake in Activities That Raise My Vibrations

It’s no secret that the minute you put alcohol or any other mild-altering substance into your body, your vibrations go way down (even if you’re having the time of your life). If my mental health is taking a hit or I simply just want to feel my best, there’s no way I can incorporate alcohol into part of my plan.

But outside of that, when I’m cooking, walking, working out, writing, sharing information with people or spending quality time with people who bring out the best in me, I’m naturally raising my vibrations. And those high times are when I attract the best things in life. There are simply those days in which my energy is at a low and I can’t seem to change it. But that’s okay—the more I practice high-vibrational routines, the quicker I can get back up to speed.

On World Mental Health Day and beyond, it's important to acknowledge the struggles that take place in our minds. Here are some effective practices I follow to clear my head.
(via Unsplash)

5. I Take a Shower and Wash My Hair

You may be thinking uhh to this one, but hear me out. Showers and something we take for granted. And a lot of the time they’re super rushed. But the next time you find your head clogged, have a good rinse (including hair) and actually pay attention to how different you feel. It’s pretty awesome to notice much of that angst wash away down the drain with some of your split ends.

6. I Remember That I’m on My Journey and They’re on Theirs

I’m very fortunate in that I’m surrounded by incredibly hard-working friends who are all successful in their own right. And a number of them are not only thriving in the workplace, but in their romantic and domestic lives, too. That can at times be daunting when you stack up your lifetime accomplishments to theirs. But it’s not worth it. Yes, there are days that are hard, or times when I’m like, wait, why wasn’t I handed that deck? But not everything is easy for anyone. We’re all figuring it out. I have to remind myself to just keep doing my best and (No. 5) keep those vibrations high. The rest will come.

 

If you’re feeling a bit down and out, HERE are some of the best ways to heal your energy.

Lifestyle Featured

Expert Shares the 6 Things You Must Get Rid of When Decluttering

October 6, 2020

Some people stick to traditional spring cleaning, but I’m personally a huge proponent of doing it during autumn. There are always more things to get rid of when decluttering towards the end of the year than during Q2.

So yes, currently, as temps drop and leaves fall, I’m at peace going through endless drawers and closets filled with what I once thought I couldn’t part with. It’s the most freeing feeling, and I’m thisclose to being where I want to be with my environmental energy.

Whether during spring, fall or any season at all, getting rid of lingering belongings is always a good idea. That’s why I reached out to Decluttering for Dummies author, Jane Stoller. While doing this is important, like any other big project, it’s a daunting, time-consuming task.

“We’re busy—when we come home, we’re too tired or overwhelmed to even think about decluttering,” Jane tells skyelyfe. “I hope to change that mindset gradually, and not only show that decluttering is fun but it can be incorporated into your daily routine naturally. Though, nowadays we’re all working from home and many have made time to declutter!” 

Kicking off a round up of decluttering is much like starting anything else.

“Ease into it the same way you would when starting a new exercise routine,” Jane explains. “Schedule daily or weekly decluttering into your calendar to hold yourself accountable and beat the overwhelming feelings. The goal is that decluttering will happen naturally once you make this process a habit.” 

Keep reading for Jane’s list of six things to get rid of when decluttering.

(via Unsplash)

1. Anything That Steals Your Energy

This is the time to get real. Look at each space in your home and workspaces and dig deep. They may look okay on the surface, but I want you to really acknowledge where disasters lie. Hidden drawers, piled magazines from three years ago, or antique furniture you can’t get rid of, haven’t used for years, but definitely steals your energy each time you have to dust its intricate details. Get real with yourself. Allow the energy you feel when you enter rooms and go towards each item to help you. 

2. Most of What’s Packed Away in Closets or Other Storage Spaces

Anything taking up space is therefore taking up precious real estate. There are some common items that many of us store at home and they never see the light of day, or, we even have a separate off-site storage unit (and we shouldn’t be paying for it).  

Furniture 

Furniture should be used, not stored. If you don’t use it, why are you keeping it?

Electronics 

By the time you find them, they’re either too old, are no longer relevant, or have been ruined by dust or the elements. Technology moves fast, so don’t store electronics. 

Old Travel Bags

Not a week goes by that I don’t see an ad for the latest new travel bag or suitcase that’s lighter, more functional, has wireless charging, you name it! Holding onto old suitcases and travel bags is unnecessary. Keep your travel items up-to-date if you travel frequently—and if you don’t travel, then why do you have these in the first place? Plus, airlines are getting stricter with weight and sizes, so traveling with your old huge and heavy suitcases probably isn’t the best idea.

Photos 

It always bothers me when photos are stored in attics because no one can ever see them! Photos are meant to be viewed, especially if you took the time to print them. They should be taken care of, not stuffed in a box where they’re likely getting ruined. 

Packing Material and Empty Boxes 

Get rid of these ASAP.

3. Photos of Your Ex (and Their Items)

This is definitely in the past! Memories and items, especially from past loved ones, are precious, and I completely respect that and want you to keep whatever brings you the most happiness. The key is to be selective in what you keep. Going through your sentimental items should be a joy, and the more selective you are about how much you keep, the better the process will be. 

4. Anything That Can’t Be Used

While we know that trash is the most obvious clutter, everyone’s definition of “trash” can also be different. As the saying goes, “One’s man’s junk is another man’s treasure.” But a rule of thumb is anything broken or expired that cannot be donated should be quickly decluttered. 

5. Paper 

If it’s a document you need, scan it and upload it to the Cloud or any online drive of your own preference. Recycle all of your loose papers and shift to a digital mindset going forward.

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Ever thought about going paperless but were't sure where to start? Well, I have a F-R-E-E training for you coming this Sunday, August 23rd at 4pm ET! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ In this 1-hour training I am going to share my TOP 8 SECRETS for going and staying paperless! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Knowing the ‘paperless secrets’ helped…⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Jeri clear over 12 feet of shelving by transferring her information to one digital app 📲⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Teri declutter her physical space, and find time to do more of what she loves, which is sewing 🤗⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Linda instantly pull up medical information on her phone, which was helpful when her pet had a medical emergency 🐕⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ And Lis get ready for tax season 4 months EARLY 🎉⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ … Think of what these will do for YOU! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ What I teach in this training are the foundational principles that you MUST know to have paperless success. (And they’re probably NOT what you think they are).⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ I’d love to have you join me LIVE on ➡️ Sunday, August 23rd at 4 pm ET.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Learn my secrets and get ready to go paperless by registering for this FREE TRAINING by clicking the link in my bio! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ps- What's your biggest challenge with simplifying and going paperless? Tell us below and then I can talk about it LIVE on Sunday!

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6. Multiples

Rethink buying in bulk in the first place. On the same theme of determining how much you should keep, I encourage you to change your mindset and keep only one of something where you have many, and make it count. Hanging onto multiples or bulk-saving will not make your items more special.

Especially bathroom products! I think being prepared for anything is important, from earthquakes to having spare toothpaste so you don’t have to run to the store at midnight. However, I don’t agree with storing multiples of all your bathroom products and certainly not more than one extra of each. If you’re at Costco and you see your exact moisturizer on sale in a set of 20, think twice. Will they expire before you’re even ready to use them? Will you switch moisturizers next month? Will your skin type change? Are you willing to give up your precious real estate in the bathroom for these to sit for possibly years?

Now that you know what things to get rid of when decluttering, click HERE for expert tips on how to take the best #OOTD selfies.

Beauty Featured

The 5 Best and Worst Affordable Skincare Brands, According to TikTok

September 24, 2020

TikTok is a treasure trove of beauty tutorials, reviews, tips and tricks. I downloaded the app thinking I had a good hold on makeup and skincare, only to realize my sorely limited knowledge. Little did I know I’d quickly uncover the best and worst affordable skincare, which is frequently covered on the stimulating platform.

TikTok brings us the likes of resident skincare guru Hyram, who dominates the app. Other influential aficionados in the space include JC Dombrowski, Dr. Shah (@dermdoctor) Charlotte Palermino (@charlotteparler) and Young Yuh (@yayayayoung). I’ve impressively learned more about skincare during my short time on the platform than during the course of my life.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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These experts’ massive followings swear by their actions: micellar water is always a yes, whereas makeup wipes are always a no. But to get into it a little deeper, I’ve rounded up a list of what the TikTok experts generally classify as the best and worst affordable skincare brands on the market.

Keep reading to find out!

(via Unsplash)

5 Best:

CeraVe: Leading the pack of best and worst affordable skincare brands is CeraVe. A drugstore staple, the brand is known for its generous supply and effective ingredients. Like many, I quickly brushed their products to the side, due to lackluster packaging. But if the experts sway my desire to experiment, I’ll look into fan favorites, the Hydrating Cleanser and Moisturising Cream. The brand’s products are frequently sold out, and have been proven to work wonders on the skin. CeraVe is truly the all-star in the TikTok skincare space.

@skincarebyhyram

bruh the GLOW 🤩 ##duet with @uglyboimiguel ##skincarebyhyram ##glowup

♬ Spongebob – DrumCorpsKat

First Aid Beauty: This brand is heralded by the experts as a go-to for sensitive skin. But additionally, it’s touted for its antioxidant-rich sunscreen, which blends seamlessly. Hence its name, the clean beauty brand is also known for targeting specific skincare woes, including Keratosis pilaris (KP), eczema and acne.

@mellluuuu

This stuff is amazing!!!! HIGHLY recommend!!! 😍😭 @skincarebyhyram ##skincarebyhyram ##firstaidbeauty ##niacinamide ##fyp ##skincare ##dermatology ##skin

♬ She Share Story (for Vlog) – 夕依

La Roche-Posay: With such a fancy name and sleek packaging to boot, I’m always shocked to see La Roche-Posay posted up in CVS. The French skincare brand boasts an array of effective and affordable products geared toward sensitive skin. Derms swear by this brand, and its popularity is more evident than ever on TikTok.

@selenatepepa1

Obsessed✨ What should I try next?? ##larocheposay laroche ##skincare ##target ##skincareroutine ##oilyskintips ##fyp

♬ Breathe – What’s That’s Supposed To Be About Baby – Years & Years

The Ordinary: I’ve always abided by the saying, “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.” And in the case of The Ordinary, it may just defy the odds. It’s one of the most remarkably priced brands at Sephora, chock-full of effective ingredients and a wide array of products for varying skin types. To top it all off, its packaging, albeit simple, is sleek and professional. The Ordinary—most renown on TikTok for its AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solutionkeeps its products focused on prime active ingredients (like niacinamide and zinc, for example) and ditches the fancy frills.

@yayayayoung

A quick AHA+BHA “how to” with my tips! ##skincare ##beauty ##theordinary ##ahabha ##exfoliation ##fyp ##foryoupage

♬ original sound – yayayayoung

The Inkey List: Taking cues from The Ordinary, brand new The Inkey List is another ridiculously affordable skincare brand at Sephora. Known to include your standard buzzy ingredients (hyaluronic acid, retinol and collagen, to name a few), they’ve also released innovative formulas previously unknown to the common consumer: Polyglutamic Acid, Multi-Biotic Moisturizer and Heptapeptide Serum.

@whatsonvisface

Hyram inspired me! This routine by @theinkeylist is only $42. Check out their recipe builder to make your own! ##learnontiktok ##tiktokpartner ##ad

♬ original sound – whatsonvisface

5 Worst:

St. Ives: If you live by the “any press is good press” motto, St. Ives can thank TikTok for making it one of the most talked-about skincare brands on the app (even if it happens to be a best and worst affordable skincare list). St. Ives is the butt of every joke in these 15-second videos, but nevertheless, it has gained relevancy. Roasted for its ridiculously high concentration of fragrance, its harmful scrubs (which have been proven to cause tears in the skin), and the brand’s recommendation to exfoliate every single day, using St. Ives in your skincare routine is considered the ultimate no-no by the experts.

@akoniphoenix

Just don’t do it! 😅 @dermdoctor & @skincarebyhyram DON’T recommend! ##stives ##skincare ##poc

♬ FEEL THE GROOVE – Queens Road, Fabian Graetz

 
 
 
 
 
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Clean & Clear: While I’ve never been a Clean & Clear user, it’s definitely synonymous with my childhood and acne commercials I saw every day as a kid. Having been around for so long, you’d think the company would have their formulas down by now—but according to the skincare experts, such is not the case. Clean & Clear’s products contain heavy concentrations of fragrance and other harmful ingredients for the skin, including alcohol and menthol. Also, in cases where beneficial ingredients are included, they’re often counteracted with other ingredients that make them either harmful or obsolete.

@skincare.noob

they won’t be missed🤢🤢 ##skincare ##badskincare ##cleanandclear##neutrogena ##teatree ##foryou ##foryoupage ##fyp ##theordinary ##hyramapproved ##cerave

♬ original sound – caleb

Bioré: Who doesn’t love a good peel-off mask or nose strip? Watching gunk seep out of your skin is oddly satisfying. It isn’t, however, actually doing anything for you. While yes, you may see a temporary removal of blackheads from a Bioré nose strip, these strips do absolutely nothing to treat or reduce blackheads longterm. Pore strips aside, many of the brand’s formulas are advertised as fitting “for all skin types,” when, in fact, they’ve been proven to cause redness, breakouts and excess oil production when used on dry or sensitive skin.

@skincarebyhyram

Great routine! 🤩 Use ##skincarebyhyram so I can react to yours 🥰 ##duet with @sammcgraww

♬ original sound – Sam McGraw

Thayer’s: Thayer’s is up there with St. Ives in the TikTok skincare space. Just about every expert swears against it, insisting that tannins-infused witch hazel is unacceptable on the face, no matter your skin type. Thayer’s is known for its array of witch hazel products, which have gained popularity based on their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. But their high concentration of alcohol only causes the skin to produce more oil and trigger more breakouts. Steer clear at all costs!

@careclarkbsn

##dermatology ##dermatologynurse ##witchhazeltoner ##myskincaresecret ##myskincaretip ##productreview ##budgetskincare ##ulta ##witchhazel

♬ euphoria s1e1 OST – devyn

Mario Bedescu: When I think of this brand, Urban Outfitters immediately comes to mind. Trendy and affordable, it never dawned on me that experts deem Mario Bedescu one of the most hated-upon skincare brands. In fact, the company settled a class action lawsuit in 2013 for failing to disclose the inclusion of strong steroids in at least two of their products. Generally speaking, the brand’s ingredients lists are misleading and cheaply made.

@skincarebyhyram

He will be missed 😔🙏 ##duet with @no_no_care_ ##skincarebyhyram

♬ Cyber Sex – Doja Cat

 

 

For more skincare content, HERE are some of the newest CBD-infused beauty products we recommend trying!

Beauty

Should You Be Using CBD in Your Skincare Routine? An Expert Explains What You Need to Know

September 14, 2020

We’re no stranger to the CBD space. From applying The Good Patch Nite Nite to help us catch some Zzzs, to dropping tinctures of SMPLSTC CLM under our tongues to ease anxiety, we’ve certainly toyed with variations of this hyped ingredient.

While we usually feel immediate results from mood-enhancing CBD products, the skincare side of the phenomenon is a different story. What does CBD-infused skincare actually do, and is it safe on all skin types?

To help us get to the bottom of this, we spoke to Dr. Manisha Singal. The expert and Aethera Beauty ambassador is also the author of The CBD Skincare Solution: the Power of Cannabidoil for Healthy Skin. She answers all of our burning questions below.

skyelyfe: What are some general benefits of CBD in skincare?
Dr. Manisha Singal:

There are well-identified anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of CBD. Topical formulations aim to deliver this natural plant-based compound to cool inflammation due to common toxic exposures, such as UV rays, environmental pollution and makeup. It also has properties to stimulate skin plumpness by its influences on collagen and elastin production, diminishing appearance of fine lines. Similar to aloe vera, topical CBD is proving to also take the sting out of skin injuries due to minor cuts and reduce the itch experienced from mosquitos bites.

SL: Are there any benefits CBD offers to the skin that other powerful ingredients do not?
DMS:

CBD is not a one-note natural compound. Chemically, it is akin to our own cannabinoids that we have been reliant on for health and balance since we were born. Whether CBD is applied topically or ingested, it works on the same Endocannabinoid System (ECS), network of receptors, neurotransmitters, and enzymes found throughout our body, including our skin. In the beauty and skincare industry, benefits are seen in skin healing, pain relief and youthful glow. What’s exciting but as of yet not regulated is the added benefits of combining CBD with other well-known ingredients for our skincare. Education and attention to details in these formulations is key for any consumer. 

SL: Is CBD comparable to other skincare ingredients on the market?
DMS:

The antioxidant powers of vitamins A, C, and E are comparable to CBD. For example, vitamin A, from which retinoic acid is derived, is credited with cell regeneration, skin firmness; vitamin C stimulates collagen production, and vitamin E fights those nasty free radicals. CBD is rich in all these properties.

SL: Which skin type(s) work most effectively with CBD? Which skin type(s) work least effectively with CBD? What can be the result of a negative reaction to CBD skincare?
DMS:

We’ve barely scratched the surface when it comes to understanding the science behind CBD’s many observed benefits. This is true as well for skin types. What we do know is that all skin types are susceptible to injury from UV rays and other environmental pollutants. CBD is well-poised to help us in our skin’s battle to protect from these and other exposures irrespective of our skin type.

Where we need to be extra cautious is to know what chemicals or oils are in topical CBD formulations. If one’s skin is prone to over-oil production, certain moisturizing creams may exacerbate and cause reactions. Always perform a skin patch test to see if the particular CBD product is right for your skin type. Avoid layering multiple products, as it will likely promote an unpleasant and undesirable response. If one does have more than a mild redness to a product, stop and contact your doctor for care and possible allergy tests.

SL: Are there any products you recommend in particular for people easing into CBD skincare for the first time?
DMS:

For people interested in exploring CBD as part of their skincare, I would recommend starting with a product containing CBD isolate. I have come to learn from amazing chemists that it’s very complicated to formulate broad spectrum CBD topicals, often leaving a consumer to experience the chemical additives and not CBD itself. I also recommend starting with a low mg dose concentration, as we all have our own unique genetic makeup. What suits one person may be an entirely different experience for another. Start low and go slow.

I would also start by introducing just one CBD product, such as a moisturizer, into your daily regimen. See if it has an effect and, if it doesn’t, replace it with a similar product containing a greater amount of CBD. Once you’re comfortable with that product, you can consider adding another one. CBD is the big new thing, and it’s expensive to process. Reputable beauty companies are understandably charging a premium for many of these new products, so it also makes good financial sense to ensure that you’re getting a noticeable result as a return on your beauty product dollar.

SL: What should consumers be looking out for on a CBD skincare label? (both good and bad)?
DMS:

You should make sure that your product has the amount of CBD that is stated on the label and without toxic impurities. A 2017 Journal of the American Medical Association that analyzed 84 CBD products sold by 31 different online companies found that 1 in 5 contained marijuana components. Other studies have shown that the CBD concentration in products is much lower or non-existent versus what brands have claimed on their packaging. I would make sure to only use a trusted manufacturer and ask to see their Certificate of Authentication. Legitimate companies test their product for potency and purity.

SL: Are there other ingredients that go particularly well or poorly with CBD?
DMS:

Since the passing of the Farm Bill in 2018 and the legalization of CBD extracted from hemp plants, there’s been an explosion of products in the skincare industry. Unfortunately, without full cannabis legalization by the federal government, consumers are in the wild west with dangerous product claims that CBD can be mixed with any ingredients. It’s highly advisable for a manufacturer to partner with chemists to do safety and sustainability testing when formulating products with CBD.

It’s also important to understand the relevancy of mixing certain ingredients with CBD. For example, CBD has great antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. The addition of CBD to other natural active vitamins, omega fatty and amino acids will have wonderful boosting and calming effects on our skin. On the flip side, we don’t have enough information on the relevancy of adding ingredients such as DMAE and kinetin.

SL: Are there CBD-free products you recommend that can still provide similar effects? 
DMS:

At Aethera Beauty, we’re aware that many consumers would not be comfortable using CBD and we have replicated our entire line of CBD skincare products in a hemp seed version. Hemp seed oil is rich in the omega fatty acids, amino acids and antioxidants—all nourishing topically as well as internally, as seen in salad dressings. Hemp seeds and hemp seed oils contain none or minuscule amounts of CBD.

(via Unsplash)
SL: How did you start working with Aethera and why do you support its products? If you could recommend just one of their products to consumers, what would it be?
DMS:

As a consumer, I’ve had my fair share of reactions to various creams and body washes. As a doctor, I’m knowledgeable on the terrible side effects which my patients may suffer from the very medications we prescribe. My dive into CBD was due to both my own extreme skin reaction to hair dye and my husband’s need for relief from his Crohn’s disease. My research was eye-opening as to CBD’s powerful anti-inflammatory benefits. My husband has an inflammatory bowel disease. My skin rash was an extreme presentation of inflammation of my skin. CBD helped calm both of our bouts with inflammation. The aha! moment was the added glow on my skin, and this led to development of CBD skincare SKUs at Aethera.

Aethera is unique, as it’s a partnership with chemists at a reputed green lab with years of experience in formulating non-toxic prestige skincare lines. We take pride in using the highest quality CBD isolates and other well-studied active botanicals to create our line. It’s important to ensure the ingredients in our formulations go through rigorous testing and make sense for the expected user experience.

Our hero, my hero, is the Everyday Botanical Brightening Concentrate with CBD

Curious about other leading CBD beauty brands? HERE‘s what to know about American Vanity, the very first science-based CBD skincare line.

Lifestyle

4 Important Self-Care Tips You Probably Don’t Think About

September 10, 2020

When we think of “self-care,” what initially comes to mind are doctor and dentist appointments, working out, cutting out toxic people and meditation—to name a few.

While indeed our mind and body are of utmost importance, there are actually a handful of lesser considered actions that will not only make you feel better about yourself, but will exhibit to others that you value who you are and how you’re presented. After all, caring about yourself encompasses how you treat the things you own, too.

Because self-care is crucial now more than ever, keep reading for four important self-care tips you probably don’t think about (but should!).

1. Ditch the Cracked Phone

We’re all guilty of walking around with a cracked phone at some point. It’s kind of a rite of passage. Have you really lived if you’ve never rocked a shattered iPhone? But part of “self-care” is properly looking after your belongings (especially expensive ones!). Your phone is almost as prominent of an accessory as your hair. There are times it’ll be tucked away in your handbag, but let’s not kid ourselves—for the most part, our phones are always on full display. Not only does a cracked screen probably stress you out each time you look at it, but it exhibits to others that you may be lazy and careless. Keep your screen (and its accompanying case, for that matter) clean and pristine.

(via Unsplash)

2. Keep Your Car Clean (Inside and Out)

Think of your car as an extended version of your bedroom. Depending on how much you drive, you could spend almost equal amount of time in both! When your living space is cluttered or dirty, it stresses you out, right? Well, likely same for your car. Get rid of the empty soda cans, the old piled-up papers, books, cups, weird cords, whatever the case may be. It doesn’t matter if you drive a brand new BMW or a 2001 Honda Civic—keeping your car completely decluttered clears out energy and gives you a more relaxed mind while you’re on the road, which is stressful enough in itself. And while you’re at it, give that bad boy a regular exterior wash as well. Does it ever feel good looking like you just drove through the Dust Bowl?

(via Unsplash)

3. Don’t Wear Clothes With Stains, Tears or Wrinkles

How you dress is up to you. While not everyone has the budget to dress to the nines, nor does everyone even enjoy dressing up, there are some things in everyone‘s control. Whether you rock a casual tee and jeans or you’re decked out in designer duds, put in minimal effort by avoiding items with obvious stains, tears or wrinkles. Again, part of self-care is looking after your belongings, not just your mind and body. Your clothes are a part of you, so wear them well. Put in the extra work by dropping things off at a dry cleaner or tailor—and most importantly, always keep a hand-held steamer by your side. These on-the-go gadgets work wonders—wrinkle-free is the way to be!

(via Unsplash)

4. Make Your Bed Each Morning

You hear this one all the time, but it’s easy to overlook. Based on our hectic schedule or the fact that we live alone or don’t expect anyone to see our bed, we let this task fall to the wayside. But next time you consider passing it by, try making your bed (it doesn’t have to be perfect), and pay attention to the difference you feel when you get under the covers that night to go to sleep. Everything’s in the right place, allowing you to slip under the sheets and rest easy. Additionally, it really throws the whole room together. A clean room with a messy bed is simply a messy room. You don’t want that, right?

(via Unsplash)

 

For more tips to bettering yourself, click HERE for best wellness practices suggested by experts during the pandemic.

Angelenos

This Is What UCLA Sorority Recruitment Will Look Like Amid the Pandemic, According to the VP of Membership

September 5, 2020

Hitting the books again can be a major drag, but one of the perks of going back to school in college is rush week. Especially at an L.A. university, with so many students and so many things to do, Greek life reigns supreme. But as we’ve learned, coronavirus-tainted 2020 is making things quite different in all aspects of life—sorority recruitment included.

Because of the importance this plays at prominent L.A. schools, we just had to know how the process will go down this year. So we reached out to Ryley Holdridge, Vice President of Membership, UCLA Panhellenic Council.

Keep reading to learn about all the changes prospective (and current) Panhellenic sorority sisters will experience during rush this year.

skyelyfe: What is the present living situation with Panhellenic sororities? Given the pandemic, are people currently staying in houses together? 

Ryley Holdridge: The housing situation will differ depending on the sorority. Some have decreased the amount of women living there, so that less people share a room. Others have decided to close the chapter facility entirely, so that no members will be living there in the fall.

SL: Will 2020 recruitment still take place during the normally scheduled time of year?

RH: Fall 2020 recruitment will take place during the normally scheduled time, from Sept. 28 to Oct. 4.

SL: If so, what will that process look like now compared to “normal” years in the past?

RH: Clearly, the biggest difference is that recruitment will be virtual. Besides that we are mirroring the same four-round, multiple-theme structure, and emphasizing a values-based recruitment as in past years. The first round is the only significant departure from normal recruitment, and will consist of interview-style videos from both the chapters and the potential new members, answering the same five questions.

SL: What other changes will there be with Panhellenic sororities in general, given the present times?

RH: UCLA Panhellenic has prioritized creating a community of inclusivity. We want to hold ourselves accountable, continue to educate our members, and progress towards a more diverse and welcoming organization. For example, we created an Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee. Led by two of our Panhellenic Executive board members, they are working on a recruitment recommendations letter, in addition to having regular meetings to discuss crucial issues in our community. Furthermore, for recruitment this year we are providing implicit bias training for all chapters, potential new members, and recruitment counselors. These actions are only a small part of the long term change we are hoping to make in the UCLA Panhellenic community.

SL: Has interest in joining a house decreased due to the present circumstances?

RH: The number of women registered for recruitment is lower this year, likely due to the lack of in-person events and UCLA closing the dorms. However, a virtual format makes it accessible for more women to go through the process and has allowed us to significantly lower the registration fee, which may help spike interest. 

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it’s ALPHA PHIcial ♥️🌹

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SL: How are houses ensuring safety at this time?

RH: As mentioned above, some chapter facilities are completely closing, but even ones that are staying open are limiting who can enter the house, only allowing members living in to eat meals, and other safety measures. For events, chapters are abiding by UCLA and L.A. County regulations, and will hold mostly or entirely virtual events this upcoming fall.

SL: Is there anything else you’d like readers or perspective pledges to know about this matter?

RH: Although the Panhellenic community looks drastically different this year, there’s a reason we’re still operating and engaging our members. This organization is much more than our in-person social events—we strive to empower our women, providing them with a support system as they navigate the challenges of college life, in addition to academic, and professional opportunities. Especially in these uncertain times, I believe Panhellenic will continue to impact the lives of our members and the larger Bruin community.

For more coronavirus-related content, THESE are the five stores we’re most devastated about closing permanently due to the pandemic.

Lifestyle

How to Take the Best #OOTD Selfies If It’s Become Your New Quarantine Hobby

July 16, 2020

We all know that person (maybe it’s you)!

The one who was once seemingly timid or didn’t care that much about Instagram, and is suddenly posing in front of the mirror every chance they get. Weird, right? Well, maybe not so much.

Amid quarantine, we’ve been restructuring our friend groups, behaviors and what we do in our spare time. If you’re suddenly showing off your outfit every single day, let yourself live. Not only is it fun to get others’ feedback (and hopeful approval), but it’s a way to express yourself, and you shouldn’t be ashamed.

But if you’re going to do it, you may as well do it right… right? We reached out to blogger Sydne Summer of SydneStyle.com, who explains how to ace that solo shot. The fashion influencer just started selling her own line of gorgeous face masks, so if you’re having trouble posing perfectly while incorporating your protective COVID gear into the shot, look no further.

Keep reading for her decade-long expertise on how to take the best #OOTD selfies if it’s become your new quarantine hobby.

skyelyfe: Why is now a better time than ever to show off your outfits on IG?

Sydne Summer: With so much time on their hands, people are more engaged than ever on Instagram. It’s a great time to for content! Outfits bring hope that better days are to come. 

SL: Because we’re inside the majority of quarantine, what are your best tips for taking indoor shots?

SS: Lighting is key. If possible, stand in front of a window or balcony. Try to shoot when the sun is the brightest outside, around midday. If you don’t have natural light in your space, there are tons of inexpensive light options you can order on Amazon: https://shopstyle.it/l/bfllg. If you use a light inside your home, decrease the warmth in your photo or video to get rid of the yellow light. 


SL: What are necessary props, colors or anything else you have in mind to amp up an otherwise mundane shot?

SS: People respond really well to color on Instagram. If you’re more into neutrals with your outfits, think about adding a bright color lip. 

SL: What are your tips for amping up an athleisure or loungewear look?

SS: Accessories! A statement earring instantly glams up a loungewear look. A fun scrunchie or headband makes an athleisure look more stylish. 

SL: What are your tips for taking mirror selfies?

SS: Again, lighting, lighting, lighting. Always try to make sure the light source is directed at your face. 

SL: Anything else of note on selfies or #OOTDs?

SS: I have a whole video on how to pose for photos! Practice makes perfect. Now is a great time to perfect your poses for the best outfit photos of the day! https://youtu.be/pUYoL36rUTg And don’t forget to smile! We could all use more smiles over RBF in our feeds. 

Music Featured

Skyelyfe’s Quarantine Soundtrack, Featuring All New Songs Since Lockdown

July 7, 2020

Since lockdown, there’s clearly been much more spare time to dig through new music press releases and Spotify playlists. So, naturally, I’ve been adding and subtracting to my “April 2020” ever since.

As of today, I decided to officially change the name to “Quarantine Turn-Up” and post this overdue list of songs. This has literally been the soundtrack to everything I’ve done in the last four months.

If this song is on the list, that means it made it through all the ups and downs leading to this publish date. I will continue to update the list as the months of quarantine continue, so feel free to continue checking back for new tunes.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CB-hqDGoY25/

For now, here are almost 30 brand new songs that make up the soundtrack to my quarantine experience. From The Magician and Aluna, to Kaskade and even some Migos and Tyga, scroll below for your listening pleasure.

https://open.spotify.com/playlist/3fBzMt2QAo9PjVgLErqJWq?si=mo1o3qyvQgic-zqSlsvp6A

 

Lifestyle Featured

Relationship Expert Explains the Longterm Effects of Quarantining With Your Significant Other

July 7, 2020

Quarantine and social distancing has done a number on every relationship (romantic or otherwise)—but more than ever, couples who just started dating, or who didn’t necessarily plan on living together just yet have been put to the test.

When lockdown demands first came into play, not only were people quick to cohabitate unexpectedly, but even longtime couples were given their own set of hurdles. Adapting to being with someone literally 24/7 is challenging for anyone, especially depending on the demands of work, allotted living space and individual lifestyle.

More than three months into social distancing and people are reflecting on where their relationship stands. For better or worse, is how you dealt with your partner amid quarantine an indicator of where you stand longterm? We reached out to Dr. Terri Orbuch (aka The Love Doctor®), a professor at Oakland University in Michigan, who explains what the outcome of your quarantine means for your relationship. Keep reading for what she had to say.

(via Unsplash)


skyelyfe: What kind of relationships thrive in quarantine conditions with their partner?
 

Terri Orbuch: There are relationships that were already distressed or not doing well before quarantine. When these distressed relationships are stressed from things outside the relationship—like the coronavirus pandemic, this stress can exacerbate the issues and problems. Also, when distressed relationships are stressed, the stress makes it more difficult to connect with each other, less likely to see the positives in each other and the relationship, and less likely have empathy and understanding for the other partner. However, people who were in relationships that weren’t already distressed—those relationships can survive and even thrive if they do some simple strategies.

SL: What are keys to making these situations work effectively?

TO: A) Share your anxieties, concerns and fears with each other. Whether you’re living together or not, you can share your concerns with each other, because otherwise, the anxieties fester inside of you, and then work on your physical health. Don’t talk about the fears nonstop 24/7, but instead set a specific time to share.

B) Accept that you and your partner may have different reactions to the stress and quarantine. One of you may watch the news all the time, the other partner may not. These differences in how you handle or react to the situation don’t mean that your relationship is in trouble or should end. These differences are common to all romantic relationships.

C) Find fun activities to do together. These are very challenging times, but couples who do fun things together are more likely to thrive. Take a virtual cooking class online together, start a puzzle together, play board games, do an exercise class together online. Or if you’re not living together, make regular virtual dates where you do something you both enjoy together (e.g., take a virtual tour of the local zoo, play Pictionary, watch a movie “together” on Netflix.

D) Give each other space. It’s important in any romantic relationship that each of you have time, space and privacy from one another, particularly now. Don’t say “I need space” because it sends confusing signals. Instead: “I need some time to do X this afternoon”. Enjoy your space and don’t feel guilty.

(via Unsplash)

SL: What does it mean if you and someone you truly love aren’t cohabitating effectively amid quarantine? 


TO: It’s challenging to live with your partner 24/7 amidst quarantine. Most couples have never spent this much time together, just the two of you, with no other distractions or people. This is a very different time. It takes great patience, understanding, empathy and understanding that relationship challenges are inevitable, no matter how much you truly love each other! Remember to share, accept, find fun activities to do together, and give each other space.

SL: What are some ways to take a break from your partner amid quarantine if you’re cohabitating? 

TO: You can walk outside separately. You can read a book in your room or on a couch. You can listen to a podcast, watch a movie, exercise, do an online course, or FaceTime with your friend—separately. It’s okay to take a break from each other, even if you’re living [in a small space].

Music

How to Make the Most Out of COUCHella

April 11, 2020

What was supposed to be weekend one of America’s biggest music festival has been derailed by a pandemic, of all things—leaving Coachella ticket holders trading music, dancing and dosing for a weekend on their couch.

While absolutely nothing matches the experience of dancing to Diplo (just throwing a name out there) under clear desert skies with 100,000 of your closest friends, you don’t have to sidestep the aggressively anticipated weekend altogether.

Keep reading for how to make the most out of COUCHella.

1. Blast a Playlist of Intended 2020 Coachella Performers (or Bust Out a Playlist From Your Fave Coachella of Years Past)

If you were hyped for this year’s fest, chances are you’ve had a playlist going for months. Don’t let that go to waste! Turn up those tunes—or, if it tugs at your heartstrings to play songs from the Coachella that never was, take a time warp to a favorite festival year by throwing on a different playlist. You can also replay specific sets or years on YouTube if you really want to relive magical years past.

2. Support Small Businesses and Order Delivery From an Intended Coachella 2020 Vendor

There are two types of people who go to Coachella: people who eat there and people who don’t. That said, we’re in unique times, and as you galavant around your living space, you’re bound to get hungry. You were likely going to order food anyway, so keep it thematic and order (if you can) from a vendor who was supposed to be at Coachella. Not only are you adding to the “feels like I’m there” vibe, but you’re supporting a small business. If you live in L.A., there are tons of options. For some inspo, click HERE.

3. Throw on a ~Festival~ Ensemble and Take Pics for the Gram (Trust Us, No One’s Judging at This Point)

Three weeks deep of quarantine and anything goes at this point. We’ve seen people dance alone in their living room, we’ve seen people get dolled up as if they’re going to prom—how’s a cute shot of you and your S.O. or roommate appearing Coachella-bound gonna hurt anyone? You probably have a ton of prepped looks ready to go. Put one (or two, or three) to use, flash a peace sign and call it a day. Have a palm tree on your street or a backyard? Added bonus! And be sure to hashtag #couchella or #coachellafromhome so you can attract all those fellow DIY Coachella-ers like yourself!

4. Organize a Zoom Extravaganza With Your Intended Coachella 2020 Crew

While not quite the same as exchanging sweat in 110-degree weather, hangin’ with your presumed festival squad via video chat isn’t totally pointless. Especially if you guys all follow the whole dressing up thing, you can all debut your looks while sipping cocktails, with your favorite Coachella artists playing (via Spotify or played back performances from the past).

5. Bust Out Some Cocktails (or Whatever Else You Have Up Your Sleeve—We Kid, of Course)

Everyone’s already drinking amid quarantine anyway, so it’s not like this COUCHella celebration should spike your intake, but you can still make it especially fun! This is your chance to make drinks you probably wouldn’t opt for otherwise. We suggest wine or champagne popsicles (we like THIS recipe, but obviously you can alter to make it your own), or you can spice up your traditional White Claw with one of THESE specialty WC cocktails—or, you can simply just drink White Claw. Think: REVOLVE party vibes. Heck, did someone say Piña Colada?

6. Make a Drinking Game Out of the Coachella Documentary

If you’re reading this post, chances are you’ve already seen the just-released Coachella documentary (or maybe you haven’t, but now’s the perfect opp). To make it even more entertaining, perhaps make a drinking game out of it (every time they reference this artist, or every time this person shows up on the screen). This is really up to you, but make the most of that viewing. Once you’re done watching, head over HERE tonight (April 11) for a Q + A with the director and producer of the doc at 7 p.m. PST.

7. Create Something Sentimental

A little late to the game, but we recently discovered the Canva app (thanks, quarantine!), and it is a game changer. It gives you rearrangeable templates to design anything, so with a little extra time on your hands, why not use it to put together a sentimental graphic for your Coachella besties? Perhaps a collage of greatest moments? Or even a group shot of you guys superimposed into a fake April 2020 Coachella? And then there’s always the option to make your crew friendship bracelets that you can throw into a quarantine care package next week!

Lifestyle Featured

My Friend Set Me Up on a Blind FaceTime Date—Here’s What Happened

April 8, 2020

Remember when swiping to find your soulmate was a foreign concept? Welp! That’s way old news.

Enter: dating in the era of social distancing. As the coronavirus has everyone quarantined, we’re becoming much more resourceful with how we “get acquainted” with people. It’s like we’re all adults living (hopefully only temporarily) as teens, refusing to communicate by any means other than video chat—dating included.

Woman on FaceTime with string lights surrounding phone
(via Unsplash)

I had my debut bout with the 2020 era of digital dating on the first official weeknight of isolation. A happily married friend of mine has a flowing pool of singles she knows through a variety of avenues. She’s set me up on dates with her friends before—ones in which she eyed as potential matches. This time, however, she said from the get-go this wasn’t someone she necessarily saw me running off into the sunset with. More time on her hands means more energy to arrange things like this apparently, and she thought it would be fun to set some of her friends up on very random FaceTime dates.

After a little bit of thought, I agreed to it. Honestly, what do I have to lose? There aren’t really any ways to meet new people at this very moment, and, for lack of a better word: YOLO. Next thing I knew, my friend sent me *Evan’s phone number, along with a reminder to dress accordingly” and “have fun with it!” I chuckled. Thanks, coach!

Evan’s number had a 503 area code, which was perfect because I went to school at the University of Oregon, so if all else failed, I could ask about… living in Oregon? Boring. But anyway, I made it through my typical WFH office day, but had angst all throughout. I texted a couple girlfriends about my jitters, while nervously getting ready (trying to look nice, but not too nice). Time was ticking. Cue the stress.

On top of that, I did Whole 30 all of March, so there’d be no White Claw to help ease tensions. When 7:29 approached on my phone, I totally felt like I was calling a potential employer for a job interview. I’ve gotta be exactly on time, I thought.

The scariest part of this experience is those three insanely long seconds where it says “Connecting…”—you have so many thoughts running through your head. What will he look like? How should I hold the phone? Should my hair be in front of my ears or behind? Can he see my stray greys through the screen? It’s also important to note that I despise video chats and avoid them at all costs. With the exception of an occasional mandatory work Zoom, you’ll rarely spot me sitting in on these now-common gatherings.

At long last, our faces both made their way to the screen. I was greeted with a jolly, “Hi!” in that “I-know-this-is-awkward-but-here-we-are” tone. While yes, indeed awkward, Evan seemed gentlemanly and could hold a conversation. We shared some laughs, but as FaceTime would have it, sometimes responses and reactions are delayed or have weird echoes. Additional awkwardness.

girl poses with white phone at home with pomeranian dog
(via Pexels)

There’s really only so much you can do on these first-time FaceTime dates. Especially sober. And you really only get a pixelated, headshot-version of the person you’re talking to. Our convo didn’t hit any lulls, but after a while, we both wanted to get to the rest of our evenings. Before I knew it, an hour had gone by. I was shocked! We ended with a lighthearted mutual agreement to hop in the kitchen and whip up a home-cooked meal—one we each sent to each other via text when finished.

I was so relieved when the call was over. Not because of anything he did, but because these things are scary and uncomfortable. Body language is 55% of communication, so there was a lot left undetermined without it. That said, the discomfort was just what I needed. Sometimes (a lot of the time), my nerves get the best of me and I play things too safe.

In case you’re wondering, we agreed we’d meet for a drink in person once we’re set free from quarantine. To be honest, as my friend predicted, I don’t think Evan and I will be a romantic match—but, meeting someone for drinks who I don’t have a lot in common with will be that much-needed step out of my comfort zone!

*name has been changed to protect privacy

Food

The Only 5 Main Ingredients You Need to Make It Through Whole 30 Successfully

March 31, 2020

Doing Whole 30 during coronavirus-induced quarantine is quite the divisive topic.

Some say it’s the best time to do it because you’re locked away in your home with no outside distractions or temptations, and nothing to do except cook. Others say you’re bored out of your mind and all you want to do is drink, while sitting on the couch, eating Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, watching Tiger King. Another big issue of discussion is obtaining the necessary ingredients to cook appropriate meals for the program. With grocery stores scarcely stocked, it can potentially be a big issue.

(via Brooke Lark / Unsplash)

But as someone who completed the program (for the fourth time!) all of this March, I can tell you it’s completely doable. Not only did the clearheadedness brought on by the experience help me get through this first month of isolation, but because I cooked almost every meal from scratch, I really got acquainted with my most commonly used foods, what’s most versatile, most flavorful, most immune-boosting and what can last you the longest.

Sure, there are plenty of fun ingredients to have around that you don’t necessarily need. For example, I had a several cans of pumpkin puree lingering from fall. I hopped on to Pinterest (as I did with pretty much all my ingredients) and found out ways to make use of what I had. Suddenly it was a springtime Thanksgiving in my kitchen. But ultimately, there were only a handful of staples I felt it necessary to have on hand at all times.

With the exception of spices (you must carry an array of spices—they’re a game-changer), below are the only five main ingredients you need to make it through Whole 30 successfully.

1. Cauliflower

This versatile veggie is the ultimate breakout star of Whole 30. I went from attempting mashed potatoes cauliflower my first time doing the program, to making cauliflower smoothies and mastering the art of cauliflower rice during this fourth go. The best thing you can do for yourself (mid-Whole 30 or otherwise) is stock up on bags of pre-diced cauliflower. Trader Joe’s has aplenty. I recommend non-frozen if you want to make rice or mashed cauliflower. And then purchase a bag of frozen if you want it for your smoothie. This veggie blends with everything seamlessly, so your smoothie won’t smell like anything but berries!

2. Broth

This brings me to my next ingredient… if you hop on the cauliflower bandwagon, you’ll need broth of some sort by your side at (almost) all times. I personally opted for chicken broth, but really any full-flavored broth will do. This ingredient is crucial to mastering cauliflower rice. I posted a lot about this on Instagram Story, as it’s a very underrated, overlooked necessity. In the past, like many others shared with me, I depended on olive oil to cook my tiny cauliflower pieces, but it was never enough to cook all the way through, and always left the pieces burnt. Additionally, broth can make a fantastic addition to a homemade sauce or sauté recipe, a soup, a mash, you name it. If you have plenty left over, just pop it into Pinterest and see what you can strum up with what you’ve got.

3. A Protein or Mixed Veggies

This is a given, but important to note anyway. Having a meat of some sort or mixed veggies will make up the crop of your heavier meals. These are great to soak up the sauces you make, to slather with spices, to place atop coconut rice or mix in with zucchini noodles. It’s important to remember that soy products aren’t allowed, so if you don’t eat meat, grab on to the most versatile, flavorful veggies (mushrooms, onions and bell peppers were my go-tos this time around). Also, you can use any meat, so take advantage of that freedom (though some are encouraged more than others and you still need to read the labels for nitrates, sugars and other unapproved ingredients). I didn’t touch beef or pork, but I ate a lot of chicken and turkey bacon.

4. Eggs

Much like No. 3, it’s probably a given that eggs are key to this plan. But you’re forbidden from (most) baking, so it’s not like you need eggs for your favorite paleo banana bread loaf. Eggs, during this eating regimen, are like an old reliable friend you can call on either when you’ve got nowhere to turn, or you want to spice up the party. I had my standard moments of whipping up a turkey bacon, mushroom, onion omelette; whereas, other times, eggs were great to place atop cauliflower rice and stir-fried veggies. I’m pretty sure you don’t need me to sit here and explain all of eggs’ uses—just be sure to keep ’em handy!

5. Full Fat Canned Coconut Milk

Much like cauliflower, canned coconut milk isn’t necessarily something we actively seek out at the grocery store unless a specific recipe calls for it. Well, take on a month of Whole 30, and this coveted item will be at the top of your list. If you’re making any rendition of a cream sauce, this is your go-to. But I also found that even an unnoticeable drop here and there was called for in so many recipes.

It’s important to note the difference between Coconut Cream and Coconut Milk—they’re indeed similar, but will alter your recipe if you get the wrong one. If you can’t get both for whatever reason, always go for the milk because sometimes the top layers of the can will have the creamy consistency you can use if a recipe calls for the cream. Also, emphasis on canned and full fat. Full fat cans of these consistencies are what’s required for the majority of these recipes, so make sure you stick to them because they differ immensely from what you typically add to your coffee.