Friday, May 13, 2016

No blog updates until 18th May 2016

My apologies, I'm not feeling well and won't be able to commit 100% here. Life sucks a little for females every month due to this natural occurrence called Menstruation and mine is always the heavy and painful variety and the pain always lasts for exactly almost 1 week in all. However, if the pains do slowly subside, I'll resume blogging at the earliest convenience. Meanwhile, posts will be limited to only Facebook posts related to sampling redemption. Have a wonderful weekend and stay positive :)

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

The real reason you can't lose weight

Why do most dieters put all the weight they lose back on ... and often a bit more too? It's not lack of willpower or not enough exercise. Nor is it motivation. So why is it so hard ... and is there any point ever going on a diet again?

~Image Source: Fitness Bin~

It's easier to quit smoking than lose weight. What's more, the nicotine in cigarettes is as addictive as heroin – so that means one of the most potently addictive drugs is easier to kick than losing weight. And yet chocolate and other fattening foods are not actually addictive (though they may feel like it sometimes). So why do only 4 or 5 percent of dieters succeed, while between 20 to 30 percent of those who try to quit smoking stay off cigs for good?

It's partly because to quit smoking, you just stop, if you can. But with food, it's impossible. You have to eat. Food is something we both use and abuse; abuse in the sense of taking in more than we need, using it for pleasure beyond physical need. That's why so many of us in the Westernised world have a weight problem: food has moved way beyond mere survival.

But our brains still program us for survival, to find calorie-dense food – such as high-fat foods – the most attractive of all. Our brains don't yet know that for us, there's an abundance of such food freely available and if anything, we need to re-program our brains to find healthier foods such as fruit and vegetables equally as attractive.

Big bodies, big biz

Obesity is now a major health problem for all Westernised countries, making a major contribution towards death from heart disease, strokes and diabetes. And this at a time when the pressure to be thin has never been greater. Americans, for example, spend between US$30-50 billion a year on weight-reduction, yet 90 to 95 percent of people who lose weight put it back on – two-thirds within a year, and the rest within five years. Failure brings feelings of guilt and self-hatred. Ever more desperate means are tried to lose weight, including drugs that may have harmful side effects.

So why is it so hard, given that we know the health benefits to being around the right weight for our height and age? The reason seems to be related to a system far more complex than a simple conflict between energy intake (calories) and energy expenditure (exercise).

For example, the average man or woman between the ages of 25 and 55 gains 9.1kg over 30 years. This represents an excess energy intake of only about 0.3 percent over energy expenditure. It seems that a person's weight is stable around a set point that is defended ruthlessly by a control mechanism in the central nervous system.

Your weight tends to go back on after a diet because your brain works like crazy to make sure it does. And some of us, due mainly to the genes we inherit, have a higher set point than others. Sounds pretty hopeless, doesn't it?

Bluffing your body

Your set point can be overridden but only by severe calorie restriction combined with rigorous exercise. That's how the likes of Jennifer Aniston, Calista Flockhart maintain their reed-like figures. Excessive exercise. Little eating. But as soon as you stop these measures, the weight will go back on. So those stars will look like real women again the minute they let up!

Far better than dieting is to prevent the extra weight going on in the first place, if you can. But if it's already there, it is best to concentrate on a healthy diet and enjoyable, not excessive exercise. Those who are only mildly overweight are best advised to maintain their current weight with these measures rather than trying to lose it.

There are many psychological reasons that militate against successful weight control. One major way is how our brains program us to eat. It's all done via a neuro-transmitter called dopamine. Neuroscientists still don't have the entire picture of how the chemical soup that is our brains. But they do know that dopamine is responsible for flooding our bodies with feelings of pleasure and enjoyment each time we eat. It's a reward mechanism (we get similar sensations when we have sex because the brain recognises this as something that promotes the continuation of the species).

Without the dopamine reward, or “hit”, we wouldn't have the same desire to eat. There is definitely a psychological reason why it is hard to restrain ourselves from eating and that reason involves neurochemicals. But the story is not yet fully understood.

But what we do understand thus far is that many of our most basic human drives come from the desire to get that natural dopamine “hit” even though we're mostly unaware of it. We just know it feels nice! Because our brains run on chemicals, we can fool them by using chemicals to hijack the process behind our survival drives. Drugs work by mimicking the dopamine hit without doing anything to promote our survival. And that's why some dieters take amphetamines to try and reduce their appetite – the amphetamines increase the dopamine in our system, thereby fooling the brain into thinking we've already eaten, or eaten enough when we haven't.

Diet dependencies
~Image Source: Weight Loss Miss~

Diet dependencies

Amphetamines, like cocaine and heroin, are addictive and have powerful side effects, such as feelings of paranoia. This is why they tend not to be prescribed for weight control, though they were in the past. However, they are still taken by some for recreational purposes and weight control. Drugs obtained this way carry great dangers as there is no way of knowing their exact contents. But some dieters are that desperate.

This desperation could also be one of the reasons why many young women take up smoking and refuse to give it up – they think it will help them stay thinner. Smoking does increase the body's metabolic rate and nicotine may act as an appetite suppressant. Nicotine may also encourage the heart to beat faster thus burning calories more quickly.

However, a smoking-induced increase in metabolic rate only accounts for about half the difference in weight between average smokers and non-smokers. Smoking can also lower the body's set weight point so the weight gained on stopping reflects a return to the body's natural weight.

Also, it's been found in fact that on average the gain for ex-smokers is at most 2-3kg and those who increase their physical activity after they give up gain only 1.3-1.8 kg. Furthermore, it's been found that the weight gain is most common immediately after stopping. In the longer term, an ex-smoker's weight can return to normal.

Alcohol is also a short-cut to a dopamine high. But if you're of Chinese descent, you may have a problem metabolising alcohol. Whereas Westerners have somehow evolved a series of liver enzymes to metabolise alcohol and its breakdown product, acetaldehyde, Eastern populations have not been so lucky. About 50 percent of Chinese and Japanese people lack the enzyme acetaldehyde dehydrogenase and so just one glass of wine taken by people without this enzyme gives them a very unpleasant reaction.

Due to the build-up of acetaldehyde they become flushed, dizzy, nauseated and may even collapse. And without any of the pleasant feelings of intoxication.

And in fact, cutting back on alcohol should make it easier to control your weight because as well as alcohol flooding our bodies with useless calories and filling us up with poison, alcohol lowers our blood-sugar levels making us hungrier. This is why we drink appetisers before a meal and also why you can feel so ravenous for food after a night out on a pub crawl.

So if you have the enzyme that lets you drink freely, try not to. And if you're constantly losing the battle to lose weight, why not experiment with cutting out alcohol for a few weeks? It can make a massive difference, for example, singer Robbie Williams said, in his own words, he was really “lardy” until he went into rehab for his drink and drug abuse. The weight fell off when he stopped drinking.

Starving doesn't help

There's one further main reason why diets don't work: they actually lower our metabolic rate and so make it easier, not harder, to gain weight. It works like this: you start restricting calories and your body think there's a famine going on – which for many thousands of years of human evolution was very likely and sadly still is very likely in many parts of the world. So the dieter's body slows down the metabolism to try and make the most of what food is available. The brain pushes and pushes you to eat more and eventually, most of us can't exist for long on semi-starvation diets so we do what our brains want us to: we resume normal eating. Bang goes the weight back on because our metabolism has been lowered.

Oprah Winfrey once said she had completely ruined her metabolism by constant dieting and bingeing. But none of us should blame ourselves for the inevitable binge that follows the diet. If you go too low on your calorie intake, your brain simply won't let you stay there. The few who can override the constant hunger signals from their brain either become anorexic or go crazy from the effects it takes.

Imagine all the energy Elizabeth Hurley and her Hollywood size 0 friends must use not eating. They fight their bodies every day. They fight the message their brains send out. They become terrified of food. Glorious, wonderful, gorgeous, fabulous food. Seriously, is that any way to live?

Surely the way forward is to become as comfortable as we can with our bodies. To exercise for healthy and enjoyment, not weight control, and to eat for pleasure as well as survival. Many women find that once they get off the diet-binge merry go round, nothing terrible happens. Their weight settles down its set point and they release tons and tons of energy to enjoy life instead of fearing it.

Diets don't work. Evolution is against you. So chuck out the calorie counter and just relax. Food won't kill you. But constantly cutting down on one of the most pleasurable activities known to humans can make life really miserable. Even then, it's unlikely to give you the slyph-like figure you crave. Give it up. Enjoy life.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Innisfree Bija Anti-Trouble Spot Essence R Review

WHAT IS IT: Innisfree Bija Anti-Trouble Spot Essence R
Innisfree Bija Anti-Trouble Spot Essence R

Innisfree Bija Anti-Trouble Spot Essence R
Innisfree Bija Anti-Trouble Spot Essence R: This spot essence rapidly calms down sudden apparent breakouts with its torreya seed oil and green calamine ingredients.

Enriched with torreya seed extract, bija anti-trouble helps control blemish for clear skin. Use cotton swab to gently apply to troubled areas.

As you can see, this spot essence have a slight whitening effect when applied. I purposely refrain from applying with a cotton swab so readers can see what the spot essence is like, if not the cotton swab will probably soak up the essence itself and nothing much will show up.

VERDICT: Well, the first reason I got this product is that, my chin area is mostly prone to breakouts. When one pimple heal, another will pop up within the chin area to replace it's previous fallen comrade. Every. Single. Time. It is really frustrating when you thought you've dealt and get it over with one pimple, only to have another show up. Sometimes, it's a heal 1 and get 2 more "promotion" going on though. As you all might have probably noticed, I got the Spot Essence R as it's meant for pimples that are more red and angry. And besides, the Innisfree in Singapore that I've been to only carries the "R" version, instead of both "R" and "W" version.

The color is similar to dark algae-green color, and the texture and consistency is actually rather creamy and powdery at the same time . The nearest and closest example I can name on the spot is the Oxy Cover Acne Pimple Medication, slightly thick and this "R" version is also slightly whitening so it actually works rather decently in covering up pimples and acne if you are wearing makeup as well. But because my skin tone is more towards the pale variety and my pimples tend to look rather red and angry, it doesn't really cover well even when I wear makeup. I would still have to dab Oxy Cover Acne Pimple Medication on top to literally make the pimple look really less obvious.

Normally, my body and skin doesn't react at all to products that are of the weaker variety. Allow me to explain in another way: When I fall sick and visit the doctor, I always ask for stronger medication as my body doesn't react to medication that is "mild". "Mild" medication simply meant I would take even longer to recover, for example, from a fever. But with stronger medication, my fever literally can go down in as fast as half a day's time after medical application. That is exactly what I meant when I say my body and skin do not react to products that are "weak and mild". It's the equivalent of wasting money on a product that I know do not work. And I think it's also because Singapore is humid all year round and it's actually easy for majority of the under 35-year-old population to have pimples and acne problems that are of the red and angry variety too.

I would say that I am rather "pro" at noticing new pimples that haven't quite turned red on my skin yet, so I practically knew when I should start using this product as soon as I "feel" a pimple coming. But because I'm working, I can't simply go to the toilet during break-time for the sake of washing off a layer of makeup just for the sake of re-applying this product. Only to re-apply another layer of makeup to cover it all over again. It's rather troublesome to go through so much trouble just for the sake of re-applying throughout the day. So most times, I just simply skip applying makeup altogether. This means it's actually easier to see if the product does actually work. And it does work for me rather well.

Although 15ml sounds like a lot, since I'm only dabbing a really small and adequate amount to cover and apply on the pimple itself, it can pretty much last me quite a while. But also because I tend to re-apply this product at least twice a day when my pimples seemed extra hyper, it really doesn't last that long in the long run. I gave it probably around 6 to 7 months before I have to re-stock this product again. All in all, the scent isn't much of an issue as I only apply a really thin and sparing layer on my angsty pimples.


WHAT I THINK: For readers with sensitive skin, you might want to enquire more at Innisfree to check if they do have sample sachets for both the "R" and "W" version as the "R" version can be too strong for the skin to handle. But it works quite good for me though, as I have oily/combination skin. It has a whitening effect and literally covers new pimples rather well, but doesn't do any decent coverage if your pimple is really reddish-looking. Be careful to apply only to affected areas or it may dry out the skin around the pimple.

WHERE TO REDEEM SAMPLE: No sample for redemption. But you can pop by any Innisfree retail outlet and test out the tester tube.

Why not like my Facebook page at to be informed of latest samples I found, which is duly updated? Also includes updates to health, beauty & lifestyle tips regularly. It will definitely save you the trouble of having to hunt them down :)

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Benefits of Face Steaming

Although it might sound scary, but it is a relatively simple procedure in one of the many steps in ensuring your skin reap some benefits from it. If you happened to be someone who is suffering from mild acne from time to time, the biggest benefit of facial steaming is that, it helps clear up your skin. Because the gentle heat softens the surface layer of dead skin cells called the stratum corneum, this simple process helps to free any dead cells, dirt, bacteria and other trapped gunk that could be causing that breakout that keeps showing up unexpectedly. Facial steaming actually helps and allow the skin to better absorb any other products you are using immediately after the steaming, in short it opens up the pores for cleaning while cleaning it at the same time. But if you suffer from a bad case of severe acne, steaming might make it worse on the other hand, so it's best to check with your doctor or a dermatologist first.

Face Steaming
~Image Source: Only My Health~

The gentle warm humidty from steaming may increase perspiration and at the same time stimulate blood circulation, depending on how easy it is for your skin to "sweat". To look at a human body's natural cooling system in a little more detail, our sweat consists mostly of water. But it is also mixed with a small amount of our body's waste and toxins, hence sweating literally washes these waste and toxins away. And also, increasing blood circulation in our facial skin can help to give a warm and colorful glow, all complimentary of a facial steaming. This is better than layering on layers of blush repeatedly throughout the day.

But also be aware, skin that is suffering from sweating or blood circulations, such as rosacea or fungal infections may actually do more harm than good. So, always check and check with your doctor and/or dermatologist. It helps if you are aware of your latest skin conditions in the event that you are considering facial steaming.

If you're someone like me who tend to want to save money via the do-it-yourself route, the other benefits wil be the cost and convenience of facial steaming. There are plenty of at-home facial steaming products, like the one you can buy at any Watsons outlet in Singapore, and it's less than S$30 the last time I checked. And the best part, you don't even need any special lotions just to do a DIY facial steaming in the comforts of your own home. Even if you do not have the intention to plonk down S$30 for it, as long as you have running water, a kettle, a small wash basin large enough for your face and a big towel, you're already set to start doing a facial steaming immediately.

Facial steaming might sound easy, but at the same time, there is a wrong way and a right way to go about doing it. Below are a couple of steps to steam your face without doing your skin any harm.

DIY Face Steaming
~Image Source: Afrophire Magazine~

Method 1: Steaming your Face

  • Because a basic DIY steam involves only water and your skin, it doesn't require much water
  • Simply fill up a small pot with 1 - 2 cups of water and bring it to a full boil

  • While the water is boiling, wash your face using a gentle cleanser to thoroughly remove all traces of makeup, dirt, oil and sweat that is sitting on the surface of your skin
  • It is very important that your skin is clean prior to steaming it. As your pores will open wide during the steaming process, any dirt or makeup on your skin will actually cause irritation. Avoid cleansing your face with exfoliating scrubs or using harsh soap, as this is to reduce the chance of the steam treatment further irritating your skin. Simply pat dry with a soft towel after cleansing.

  • Pour the boiling water into a bowl and let it cool for a minute or two. If you're doing the steam treatment as a follow up to any at-home spa treatment, pour the water into a big ceramic or glass bowl. The prettiness of the bowl is optional
  • If it's only a quick steam that does not involve any DIY at-home spa treatment, you can just leave the water in the pot and place the pot on a flat surface. Avoid using a plastic bowl to hold the water as you do not want small plastic molecules getting involved in your facial steam.

  • Add your favorite essential oils or herbs to make the treatment a little special and luxurious. Be sure to add extras after you've taken the water off the oil as the scents will evaporate quickly
  • If you do not have any special oils or herbs nearby, try using tea instead. Put a few herbal tea bags in the water, mint, chai, chamomile are excellent choices.

  • Place a towel over your head and drape it so that it drops down on either side of your face. This traps the steam so that it will concentrate near your skin. Place your face just close enough to feel the steam on your face, but not too close to the point where your skin feels like it's burning or you are having trouble breathing in fresh air
  • A typical steam lasts for only 10 minutes, even if you have a 5 minute facial steaming, you can still receive many benefits as if you are doing a 10 minute steam. Don't steam past 10 minutes as steam can cause the face to swell while can exacerbating acne, especially if you have acne or other known skin issues.

  • As the steam treatment leaves your pores wide open, this is the perfect time to draw out dirt and other impurities by following up your steam treatment with a clay mask suitable for your skin type. Simple apply the mask over your face in a thin layer, let sit for 10-15 minutes and wash away with warm water before patting dry with a soft towel
  • If you do not want to use a clay mask, use plain honey or a honey and oatmeal mask instead. If you do not wish to use any mask treatment, just simply wash your face with warm water after the steam treatment. Do not use a strong exfoliant or harsh soap on your skin after steaming, especially if you have acne problems. Since your face will be slightly swollen and your pores will be open, scrubbing it could cause it to become inflamed.

  • After rinsing your mask away, use a facial toner to help your pores close back up. Apply gently to your face using a cotton ball
  • Lemon juice makes a great natural toner. Mix 1 tablespoon with 1 cup of water. Apple cider vinegar is another great option. Mix 1 tablespoon with 1 cup of water.

  • Steam and heat can cause our skin to dry out, so it's the most important step to follow up after your steam treatment with a good moisturizer that is right for your skin type. Use a moisturizer that has soothing oils, such as aloe vera or butter to prevent your skin from getting too dry after the steam treatment. Let the moisturizer completely absorb into your skin before applying makeup

Method 2: Cold Relief Steam

Steams can help to clear sinuses when you have a cold, especially when your nose is so blocked that you are practically breathing through your mouth like a koi. Not a pretty sight, right? Simply use herbs such as Mint, Chamomile or Eucalyptus and/or essential oils such as Eucalyptus, Bergamot or Mint. Follow the steps in Method 1 while using the forementioned herbs or essential oils.

Method 3: Stress Relief Steam

Herbs such as Lavender, Chamomile and Lemon Verbena and essential oils such as Bergamot, Sandalwood and Passionflower are wonderful scents to help you to alleviate your stress while calming and soothing your nerves, mind and emotions. Steaming can also help soothe the soul as it is a relaxing procedure that lets your breathe in wonderful scents while you sit back and relax. Again, follow Method 1 and use the forementioned herbs and/or essential oils for a stress-relieving steam.

Method 4: Sleeping Aid Steam

If you are someone who tend to lose sleep easily, suffer from insomnia once-in-a-while, doing a facial steaming for at least 10 minutes can actually help you to relax and sleep more peacefully. You can consider using herbs such as Chamomile, Lavender, Valerian or essential oils such as Geranium Rose, Lavender, Patchouli. You can add all of the herbs/essential oils or add the the scents you referred to help you to sleep more easily. Best of all? No sleeping drugs needed.

NOTE: You should steam your face no more than once a week. If your pores are particularly clogged, you can steam your face twice a week until your condition improves. Steaming your face too often can actually lead to more breakouts.