10 sneaky ways to drink more water (it’s the cheapest, quickest way to look AND feel great!)

I did a post on acne (What is your acne telling you?) and the role that various bits and bobs of our bodies play in its horrid takeover of our faces. Amongst the 24,36,987 visitors who stopped by this post in a week, over 40% wrote in to say that they have pinpointed much of their spottiness to a lack of adequate water.

Which makes sense. Water is not called the ‘source of life’ for nothing… it is crucial for every body function, right from metabolising fat and regulating temperature to facilitating important bio-chemical reactions, lubricating the joints and limbs, aiding digestion, hydrating the skin and helping the body flush out waste and toxins. So, it stands to reason that without regular top-ups, our skin (actually our whole body) will go into crisis mode. The simplest solution? DRINK MORE WATER!

Yet, 99% of us don’t heed this advice. H2O is bland, it’s boring, it’s always “just there”… maybe if water becomes more expensive, we will start paying more attention! But till then, I would be the first to admit that sometimes drinking the requisite “8 glasses” (find out exactly how much water you need HERE) can be a real challenge! So, after much interviewing, thinking, researching and experimenting, here are 10 tips to help you accomplish that feat (and I have personally tested every one of them – they work stupendously!). Click through, then tell us the sneaky ways you trick yourself into drinking more water in the comments. We could all use the help!

Drink your water! Stay well hydrated! Stay healthy! Stay pretty!

drink-waterIn case you can’t see the image above, here are the tips in text form

1. Add two glasses of drinking water to your daily skincare regimen: Drink, cleanse, moisturise, then drink again.

2. Don’t purchase any other drinks: let’s face it, if you have your favourite soda chilling in the fridge, are you honestly going to opt for water?

3. Drink at least one glass of water for every alcoholic drink you down. (It’s also a great way to prevent a hangover!)

4. Set an alarm to beep every hour – this is your reminder to down a glass of water. If you drink only small (6 ounce or 180 ml) cup per hour, you will consume 48 ounces (1.4 liters) in an 8-hour workday.

5. Eat water-rich foods, such as watermelons, which are 92% water. A tomato is 95% water, while an egg is 74% water.

6. Add ice or freeze water in a sports bottle before taking it with you. Tt will eventually melt and stay cold, thereby creating a pleasant frisson on a hot day.

7. Purchase a water bottle that holds the amount of water you need to drink each day, or use a combination of 1-liter and half-liter bottles. This will allow you to see exactly how much water you are consuming on a regular basis.

8. Fill a glass jar with water, pop in some fruit-infused tea bags in a glass jar and place it in the sun for naturally brewed tea that has an intense flavour. Drink it chilled for loads of flavour and antioxidant protection.

9. Prefer a sweet sip to plain ol’ water? Fill 1/4 of your glass with 100 percent fruit juice and top off with water or seltzer.

10. Bring a touch of the exotic: Add mint leaves, slices of apples, strawberries, lemons or limes to a pitcher of water; serve chilled. Keep a jug in the fridge so you always have great-tasting and great-looking H2O available. For an even greater kick, drink it out of champagne flutes!

How much water do you manage to drink on a daily basis?

What stress (or anger!) does to your face… and how to fix it!

Lately, despite the twice daily cleansing and moisturising, an hour at the gym, weekly scrubs and face packs, adequate beauty sleep and copious amounts of water, I have been noticing that my skin has never ever looked this terrible. It’s reached a point where strangers at the malls are asking me if I am sick and need help… not kidding!

stress-and-skinTime to visit the dermatologist – who takes one look at my blotchy complexion, flaking chin, dark circles and the monstrous zit on my forehead and decides what I need is a “life questionnaire” rather than a session of Blue Light. And through gradual prodding and poking, we arrive at the root cause – stress (and a lot of being pissed off, to boot), which is literally killing my skin cells.

I have always known that stress leads to high blood pressure, depression, migraines, heart disease, obesity… yada yada yada! But honestly, it never bothered me because all that’s in the future. Skin problems, however, are in the here and now! Hence, this required some serious research. And what I found is that given our increasingly crazy lifestyles, there is actually a new field of medicine called psychodermatology, which focuses on the mind-beauty connection. Experts of psychodermatology treat skin problems that are caused or worsened by stress and here I am summarising what they say happens to our complexions when we are emotionally troubled.

But remember, these “quick fixes” are just that – quick fixes. To actually reverse the beauty (and overall health!) effects of stress, you need to go much deeper than lotions and potions!

Stress and skin #1: Dullness

Stress triggers a hormone called cortisol (a stress hormone), which slows down skin cells, making them take longer to reach the surface and flake off. Hence, dead skin cells build up, making your face look dull and lifeless.

Quick fix: Drink more water and exfoliate regularly.

Stress and skin #2: Sagging

Furthermore, prolonged cortisol production leads to loss of collagen and elastin, resulting in slackness, sagging and loss of elasticity. Not a good beauty look at all!

Quick fix: Consume foods that increase collagen production and benefit the skin. For example, soy products help block enzymes that break down and age the skin. Also, try topical beauty products containing Vitamin C (l-ascorbic acid) or hyaluronic acid (sometimes listed as sodium hyaluronate). Skip the retinoids though – they will further irritate stressed skin.

stress-and-skin-3Stress and skin #3: Dryness

Stressed skin has a very low lipid (protective) barrier, so fluids evaporate more easily. In addition, cortisol also reduces the skin’s ability to retain water, leading to excessive dryness.

Quick fix: Try a weekly moisture mask and apply a hydrating serum along with moisturiser. Also, avoid using toners and cleansers that contain harsh ingredients such as Ammonium Laurenth Sulphate, Sodium Lauryl Sulphate and Sodium Laureth Sulphate, which can dehydrate and irritate the skin.

Stress and skin #4: Skin infections

The epidermal skin cells are packed tightly together, forming a strong barrier that blocks the entry of bacteria and other toxins. When you are under stress, this protective layer becomes less effective, allowing harmful bacteria to reach the deeper layers of skin.

Quick fix: Keep skin scrupulously clean with a mild soap. Use warm, not hot water, and pat skin dry instead of rubbing; put moisturiser on immediately.

Stress and skin #5: Itchy rashes

Stress decreases skin’s self-repairing abilities, while also releasing histamines (which create allergic reactions) into the bloodstream. The result? Flareups of immunity-related conditions such as hives, rashes, cold sores, psoriasis and eczema.

Quick fix: Look for beauty products that contain soothing ingredients like avocado oil, almond oil, aloe vera, Shea butter, sunflower oil and chamomile. Also, cut down on the number of skincare products you use –  fewer products means lesser ingredients and hence a lower risk of an allergic reaction.

Stress and skin #6: Blemishes

Stress increases oil production, which blocks the pores and results in breakouts.

Quick fix: Keep skin clear of surface dirt, oil and dead cells. Use oil-free beauty products and wash your face gently with a soft cloth. Don’t scrub, as this can further irritate acne and make it worse.

stress-and-skin-2

Stress and skin #7: Premature ageing

During times of crisis, our body redirects the flow of blood to areas that are vital for reacting to stress – such as lungs and heart. This leaves skin without essential blood and oxygen. The result? Increased production of free radicals and tissue-damaging oxidants, which speed up wrinkles, lines and other signs of premature ageing.

Quick fix: Try some facial exercises and massage. These help release tension along with increasing oxygen-rich blood flow to muscles, tissue and skin, making the complexion look vibrant and healthier.

Stress and skin #8: Sallowness

Stress hurts the digestive system. This means essential nutrients are not digested properly, allowing build up of impurities. As a result, stressed skin looks dull, lifeless and sallow.

Quick fix: Step up intake of leafy greens, fruit and high protein grains and lentils as well as healthy fats like those found in avocados and olive oil; cut down on caffeine. Skipping meals is a complete no-no!

Stress and skin #9: Inflammation

Prolonged stress creates chronic internal inflammation, which leads to premature ageing, uneven skin tone and texture, lack of radiance and hyperpigmentation.

Quick fix: Sleep is anti-inflammatory – a time of healing, when cortisol levels are at their lowest. Getting enough will keep your body’s best coping skills at hand.

Stress and skin #10: Skin cancers

In a study at Yale University, it was found that people with melanoma – the deadliest form of skin cancer – were more likely to have gone through stressful life events during the years leading up to their diagnosis than people who did not have skin cancer.

Quick fix: Remember to not skip the sunscreen – even if you are indoors. Rule of thumb is that if the natural light is bright enough to read, it’s bright enough to damage your skin.

Have you ever felt your skin take a nosedive in the face of stress? Or anger? Or anxiety? Or depression?

Beauty recipe: Super-easy DIY detox juice from the Mandarin Oriental

Gooooood morning, ladies and gentlemen. Hope you had an awesome weekend! And if it was as full of boozy cocktails and stacks of greasy burgers, help is at hand in the form of this detox juice, which is a great way to rid your body of toxins while replenishing it with nutrients it needs. It’s been concocted by Chef Toni Robertson for The Spa at Mandarin Oriental, New York and he recommends drinking a glass whenever you need a refreshing pick-me-up.

Added bonus: it tasted delicious and takes about 10 minutes to make and gulp down… which is a definite blessing on hungover mornings!

Detox juice: Ingredients

2 green apples
2 large cucumbers
1/3 stalk lemongrass
1/3 small piece (thin slice) fresh ginger
1 freshly squeezed lime

Detox juice: How-to

1. Using a juicer, press the apples, ginger and lemongrass. Include the skin and stalks because these contain the highest concentration of antioxidants.

2. Add cucumbers with skins and strain the juice through a very fine sieve.

3. Mix with the freshly squeezed lime juice in a cocktail shaker; shake the juice with crushed ice and serve cold.

How was your weekend? And what’s your go-to detox remedy?

From Brazil to you: DIY beauty recipes for glossy, glow-y, super flawless skin (no waxing required!)

Alessandra Ambrosia, Adriana Lima, Isabeli Fontana, Isabel Goulart, Barbara Fialho, Lais Ribeiro, Daniela Braga… when almost every second Victoria’s Secret model turns out to be Brazilian, you know the country is on to something.

So, it’s not surprising that I spent much of the Rio Olympics trying to figure out the secret behind a whole nation’s worth of glossy, glow-y, flawless women both on and off the stage.

Seriously, what is it about these Brasileñas? How do they manage to look so effortlessly beautiful? Those taut limbs, that glossy skin, the sexily tousled hair… they must be spending hours at the spa, right? Wrong.

These gals take their skincare way too seriously to be content with once-in-a-while spa visits. Beauty is a way of life. Turns out they are doing it every day, all the time: By the beach, at work, while prepping for bed. Seriously, ALL the time.

This has made Brazil the third largest beauty market in the world after the USA and Japan. One of the biggest lures for beauty brands is the treasure trove of ingredients found in the country’s lush vegetation, making it no surprise that the rest of the beauty world is following where Brazil leads. Subsequently, many breakthrough beauty rituals have been developed here, some of which you may love already, and others you need to know about… like sand. And carrot juice. And sea salt.

And then shhhhhhhh… I am off to put these glorious beauty tips in action. You?

A photo posted by Adriana Lima (@adrianalima) on

Brazilian beauty secret #1: Sand

Yup, that’s it. Plain and simple sand. Used as a foot and body scrub right on the beach! Don’t be so shocked: massaging sand into the skin stimulates circulation, thereby busting toxins, breaking up fat tissue and chasing away cellulite. It’s also a terrific exfoliator that gets rid of dead skin. To be 100% Brazilian, simply grab a handful of sand and rub into damp skin in gentle, circular motions (as you would with a body scrub). For a more spa version, mix 1 cup of dry sand with 1/4 cup of olive oil and 5 drops of almond oil. Use this as a body scrub that both exfoliates and moisturises the skin.

Brazilian beauty secret #2: Carrot juice

These women have complexions so glowingly gorgeous that the Brazilian tan has become the hottest catwalk and celeb trend worldwide. But Brasileñas are also super sunscreen-savvy and you won’t find them baking in the sun sans some foolproof skin protection. So how does this reconcile with those tans of gold? The answer lies in carrot juice. Carrots, you see, are packed with beta-carotene, which is super-good at promoting a tan and giving skin a natural glow. Plan for at least 2 glasses of carrot juice a day and don’t forget the sunscreen.

Brazilian beauty secret #3: Açaí berries

Even as fashionistas and health-savvy celebs are increasingly swapping their cappuccino for superfood packed smoothies across the globe, beauty juices (or sucos in the native lingo) have been away of life for Brazilians forever. The most powerful (and popular) ingredient? Açaí berries. These pulpy berries areloaded with antioxidants that neutralise environmental damage and help you ditch signs of ageing like wrinkles, age spots and fine lines. For a truly Brazilian power smoothie (called batida de tai or açaí smoothie), take 2 cups of açaí juice (or 2/3 cup of dried açaí berries), 1 cup plain yogurt, 1 teaspoon honey, 1 banana and 3 tablespoons oatmeal. Blend, slurp, be a goddess !

Brazilian beauty secret #4: Babassu oil

With half of Brazil being home to the Amazon, this country is ripe with skin and health boosting plants. And increasingly, global beauty brands are reaping them for their products, including Kiehl’s Açaí Damage Repairing Skincare, Aveda’s Uruk makeup and MAC’s semi precious stone laced Mineralize collection. True Brasileñas, however, believe in going straight to the pure, unadulterated source, with simple ingredients like babassu oil (also known as cusi oil). This clear vegetable oil is terrific at nourishing the skin and regulating sebum (skin’s natural oils) sans greasiness. Simply do as the Brazilians: Rub a dollop of babassu oil straight into your skin to keep it soft and hydrated through the day.

Brazilian beauty secret #5: Cupuaçu

Cupuaçu (coo-poo-ah-SOO) is another hot favourite with the golden limbed. This fruit is super-rich in flavonoids – in fact, it has two flavonoids that can’t be found anywhere else on earth. Cupuaçu also has five fatty acids, including a powerful Omega-3, which dramatically improve skins tone and texture. So, this chocolatey-vanilla tasting fruit packs a solid 1-2 punch by both fighting environmental damage and improving skin quality. And it’s available fresh or frozen in many speciality stores around the world. When you find it, try this easy smoothie recipe: Mix 1 cup of cupuaçu pulp, 2 tablespoons chopped lemongrass leaves, 2 tablespoons honey and 2 cups cold milk in a blender. Blend on high, then strain out the floating solids. Drink chilled. PS: Also look for cupuaçu butter in health stores. It feels smooth and decadent, has a deliciously sweet aroma and helps lock in moisture for super-silky, supermodel skin.

Brazilian beauty secret #6: Sea water

Sea water gives you more than just sexy beach hair. It actually coats your strands with 26 minerals that make them ultra-soft and create oodles of natural volume, sans the need for any chemicals. It also adds loads of texture, making it easier to hold a style (hello curls and tousled waves!). No sea insight? Pour 1 cup plain water, a tablespoon of coconut oil, a tablespoon of sea salt and a tablespoon of hair gel into a spray bottle. Shake and spritz through your hair. Channel Adriana Lima. Voila!

A photo posted by Lais Ribeiro (@laisribeiro) on

Brazilian beauty secret #7: Sea salt

I would have never believed this one without actually seeing it in action: Sea salt actually helps heal acne, cold sores and minor wounds. That’s because sea salt is a strong antiseptic and if you can take the sting, this simple DIY recipe will clear up those blemishes: Mix 1 tablespoon sea salt with tap water; apply as a paste on the spots.

Brazilian beauty secret #8: Seaweed

The sea has even more in store: Seaweed is a potent combo of vitamins and minerals that are easily absorbed as this gelatinous substance’s unique molecular structure is very close to that of human skin. This makes seaweed a terrific ingredient to help purify, firm up, nourish and rehydrate the skin. It also slows down ageing and boosts cell generation, all while improving skin texture and tone. Plus, it makes tresses super shiny and stimulates blood circulation to promote hair growth. Enough for you? Then take 1 cup seaweed, 1 ripe avocado, 1 tablespoon plain yogurt and 1 tablespoon olive oil; blend apply to hair and/or face for 20 minutes.

Have you tried any of these ingredients in your beauty rituals? What’s the key beauty ingredient in YOUR culture?