DIY Body Scrub for Smooth and Cellulite-Free Skin

If you’re anything like me and are counting down the days until summer, you’ve probably started to panic about your summer body (or lack thereof much like myself.) My body may be a work in progress, however, my skin is always ready with this incredibly easy body scrub. I’ve been using this recipe for YEARS and not only is my skin incredibly smooth but my stretch marks have nearly vanished and my skin is super firm.

Now, there is no way to banish cellulite and “thigh jiggle” without exercise and a healthy diet but the caffeine in this scrub reduces the appearance of dimples and divets by stimulating blood flow which aids in collagen production thus leading to a visibly tighter and firmer texture. Recently, you may have seen caffeine appearing in eye creams and facial products meaning not only does it work but you can use this scrub on your face too. Grapefruit essential oil is my other miracle ingredient that helps to firm the skin and provide healthy antioxidants. “Toxin buildup and fluid retention create cellulite in fat cells. When toxins are not flushed out of the body, they accumulate in cells. Grapefruit oil flushes out the free radicals that create cellulite.” For even better results, or if you’re just as extra as I am, try dry brushing. Dry brushing promotes healthy blood circulation, rejuvenates the nervous system, reduces cellulite, exfoliates, helps define muscle tone, unclogs pores, and gives you a boost of energy.  Just always be sure to brush towards your heart and counter-clockwise on your stomach (helps with digestion.)

 

I use this scrub three times a week but you can use it more or less depending on your skin type. I would suggest no more than four times a week as over exfoliating can actually damage your skin. For best results, I always recommend using organic products.

DIY Coffee Scrub

 

1 cup of Ground Coffee

  • Don’t use instant coffee. I use leftover coffee grounds from my morning coffee. The caffeine does absorb into your bloodstream, however, I use this at night and find it has no effect on me although I am an avid coffee consumer.

1 cup Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil

  • Liquid or solid form is fine but you can use any carrier oil of your choice. In the summertime, I use grapeseed oil.

15 – 30 drops of Grapefruit Essential Oil

  • You can get creative and add other oils like tea tree or lemon. Grapefruit is an energizing essential oil so it’s great for morning showers. Again, I use it before bed and find it doesn’t hinder my nighttime routine.

 

Have you tried a coffee scrub before or have a different variation to this recipe? I’d love to hear it! Let me know in the comments below or ask any question you might have about beauty or skincare.

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Xoxo,

Riss

 

Three Tips for Better Breath

Recent Harvard studies show that when someone offers you a mint, it’s not to be nice but rather a passive way to hint that yo breath stanks. Okay, so that’s not actually a true study, however, it should be because I am a subtle hint mint peddler. Bad breath is unpleasant, unattractive, and it’s killing your social skills. However, all is not lost, with these three simple tricks, you could totally change the overall health of your mouth with just a little effort. Of course, the utmost basic steps for a healthy mouth are brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing daily, and getting a cleaning every six months.

 

So what causes bad breath? Bad breath is caused by a build-up of bacteria in the mouth. According to WebMD, “If you don’t brush and floss teeth daily, food particles can remain in your mouth, promoting bacterial growth between teeth, around the gums, and on the tongue.” Which is why brushing, flossing, and cleanings are so important. However, even with the basics, bad breath can still occur. So here are my three tips for better breath and an overall healthier mouth…

Oil Pulling

If you haven’t heard of oil pulling you’ve been missing out! Oil pulling is the process of swishing oil around to detox your mouth. What are the benefits? Coconut oil is said to detoxify by pulling out impurities and bacteria that over time build up in the mouth. It eliminates bad breath bacteria, whitens teeth, reduces inflammation, soothes sore throats, prevents cavities, heals dry cracked lips, strengthens gums, and more. It’s recommended to do in the morning before even brushing your teeth but occasionally I skip this when I’m in a rush. So, if you do it mid-day or before bed, that’s okay too. I like to oil pull while I’m in the shower or getting ready. Plus it’s easy. You take a tablespoon amount of extra virgin coconut oil, swirl it around your mouth for 10-15 minutes, spit it out (in the garbage), brush teeth as normal.  You can do this 3-5 times a week, I typically do more than that but I’m OBSESSED with having good oral hygiene. So oil pull to your heart’s content. This is the coconut oil I use, Trader Joe’s Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil.

 

Alcohol-Free Mouth Wash

No, Listerine is not alcohol-free. Why does that matter? Well, recent studies in the medical field have revealed that mouthwash containing alcohol can actually cause bad breath. Alcohol is a drying agent which means even a small amount can dry out your mouth making it ineffective at flushing out bacteria. Do you brush your teeth before bed and wake up in the morning to find that you have “morning breath?” You didn’t eat anything and your teeth are clean so how is this possible? Sleeping with your mouth open or in a room without proper humidity causes dry mouth which then leads to airborne bacteria that multiplies and causes a bad case of funky breath. Which is why you can find my humidifier and essential oil diffuser all the way up every night. However, I live in a pre-war apartment in NYC with an old heating system so I still have dry mouth in the AM every now and then. Most of the mouthwash products you buy at the local drugstore contain alcohol and even other harsh chemicals like Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) which is used in ACT mouthwash to create a foaming effect similar to toothpaste. They do this so that you associate the foam to toothpaste and think, “It must be working.” However, this too is actually causing you to have dry mouth and has been known to cause microscopic damage to the lining of oral tissue, aka canker sores. My favorite mouthwash is TheraBreath Fresh Breath Dentist Formulated Oral Rinse. This stuff works and there’s absolutely no burning sensation like the classic Listerine flavors. Most mainstream drugstores now sell TheraBreath but if you can’t find it there’s always Amazon.

 

Tounge Scraping

Is this reaaaaal extra? Yes, but it works! Do yourself a favor and go to the closest mirror and look at your tongue right now. What color is it? Is it white, grey, or even a little yellowish? It’s covered with, you guessed it, bacteria! Yuck. Your tongue should be a pale pink or light reddish hue. Your dentist will tell you to brush your tongue but do yourself a favor and just TRY a tongue scraper. I’ve been tongue scrapping for years and I will never forget my first time seeing layers of a white film come off my tongue.  The appearance of a white coating is caused by debris, bacteria and dead cells getting lodged between the enlarged and sometimes inflamed papillae, fingerlike projections (papillae) on the surface of your tongue. After a few scrapes (think long brush strokes from the back to the front, rinse clean, repeat) your tongue will be unrecognizable, in a good way. I got mine from whole foods but a great option is Dr. Tung’s Tongue Cleaner, Stainless Steel. Stainless steel works best and is preferred over plastic and copper versions.

 

Do you already practice some of these tips? Did you learn something you didn’t know before? Do you have any questions? Let me know in the comments below. I’d love to hear your feedback. If you have any other great tips please share! I love learning and trying new things. That’s all for now!

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Xoxo,

Riss

 

 

Three Tips for Healthier and Longer Hair

The number one question I get asked daily, besides how do I travel with no money, is how do you grow your hair so long?  It looks so healthy, do you get it cut every six weeks? The short answer to that question is no. I just recently got a haircut and my hairdresser mentioned to me that it had been ten months since my last cut. TEN! Typically I cut my hair every six months but sometimes life happens, you know? What about the dead ends you might ask?  I keep my ends healthy with three simple tricks but first, let’s examine the every six weeks haircut myth.

I invite you to look back at a time when the world was obsessed with “The Rachel” haircut from friends. Jennifer Aniston’s hairdresser revealed that he trimmed her hair every six weeks religiously. Since Jennifer Aniston was hair goals, this became the status quo for haircuts. After some extensive research and my own personal experience, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this. If you have a specific hairstyle or short hair and want to maintain a certain look definitely get a trim every 6 weeks. However, if it’s length you seek, we have to look at some basic facts.

When you think about growing your hair, length isn’t really a factor since hair grows from the scalp. The average person’s hair grows about a quarter of an inch to an inch per month. So, if you trim your hair every six weeks you’re not giving your hair enough time to grow. This is why keeping your ends healthy is so important! I’d recommend getting a haircut once every two and a half to three months for starters. Then, once you incorporate this routine and remove excess dead ends you’ll be able to prolong the cut longer and longer each time.

So without further ado here are my three tips for keeping your ends healthy…

Deep Condition

Once a week, take an extra 10 minutes in the shower and treat yo self. A deep conditioning hair mask will add some much-needed moisture to your strands. Your hair gets easily dried out by heat from various elements, blow dryers, and any other styling products you may use. I like using the Shea Moisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Deep Conditioning Mask.

Hair Oil

I didn’t learn this trick until much later in life but hair oil should be your hairs new best friend. There’s a reason why in recent years Moroccan Oil and various other lines all came out with hair oils, they work! Organic is best in my opinion. I personally make my own hair oil but you can easily purchase one at your local drugstore these days, Sephora, or a salon. When applying the oil, apply from the ears down and avoid your roots as a greasy scalp can look less than appealing. You can always use dry shampoo if you get a little heavy-handed. Your ideal oil will absorb into your strands and leave a light residue of shine.

Hair Mask

When I say hair mask I’m not referring to the same deep conditioning mask as before. A hair mask is for when you’ve been curling and blow drying your hair multiple times in a week repeatedly. Our bodies are actually great storytellers and if you know what to look for you can read the signs. For me, when I use a lot of heat my hair starts to resemble a pile of hay. It gets really dry and it seems that no matter what I do I can’t achieve that enviable Victoria Secret straight off the runway flowy goddess vibe. A hair mask will fix this quick. If you visit your salon a glaze or a gloss would be the equivalent, however, if you’re boujie on a budget, like me, a DIY is the perfect remedy. There’s plenty of DIY’s out there but my personal favorite is organic carrot juice! Carrot juice contains vitamin A which is super hydrating. Leaning over the tub, I drench my hair with juice, wrap it in a shower cap with a towel around my shoulders (sometimes the juice will leak out), and let it sit for 20 minutes. Then wash it out, let it air dry, and enjoy your noticeably softer and shinier new hair! I do this once a month but once every two months works just as well too. Be sure to test a small patch on a small amount of hair first.

Let me know if you have any questions or any other great hair tips! I love learning new tricks. Also, if you try these tips and love them let me know in the comments below.

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Xoxo,

Riss

The 15-minute Laser Facial

 

If you haven’t heard by now, the word on the street is that skin is IN! Your skin is the largest organ on your body. Think of it as a coat of armor that protects the most vital contents of your inner self. Like any armor, over time, it can begin to develop a few chinks in the chain. Factors like the sun, acne, and hyperpigmentation are all contributors in damaging your skin. Which is why skin care is so important as it’s the first thing people see upon meeting you. Of course, with any canvas, you want to start with a smooth surface. Which leads me to my latest obsession, as well as the topic of this post, laser facials!

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What are Laser Facials?

Laser Facials use cutting-edge technology to penetrate deep into your pores and vaporize any dirt or bacteria. It’s effective in treating acne, redness, unevenness, dullness, and hyperpigmentation. In addition, it also improves skin’s smoothness, tone, texture, radiance, and clarity. Side effects are smaller pores, reduction of fine lines, wrinkles, and firmer skin.  It’s different from a topical facial because the laser can reach farther into the skin and remove twice the bacteria without stretching your pores, which can happen with traditional face masks.

 

How Does it Work?

After filling out a skin survey, your facialist will review your survey and discuss what your personal skin needs are. At Skin Laundry, the process is divided into two parts. First, a YAG laser penetrates 2.5 mm below the skin to the dermis layer, which can only be reached by laser, to remove debris and excess oil. Then, an IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) is used to fade sunspots, get rid of acne scars and broken capillaries to achieve a dewy smooth finish.

 

The Verdict

Recently, I went to Skin Laundry and had my first laser facial after it was highly recommended to me by a friend. To my surprise, the laser didn’t hurt at all. You definitely feel a tingling sensation that is noticeable but nothing more intense than a slight pinch. They also offer numbing cream if you’re extra sensitive.  The entire facial only took 15 minutes with no recovery time needed! The sessions are simple and gentle enough that in theory, you could get one of these treatments every other day. The norm is typically 1 session per week but you can choose a plan that works best for you depending on your skin needs. Typically, you don’t see results until your third session. For scarring and hyperpigmentation, it usually takes about eight sessions. After one session, I noticed a difference immediately. My skin was glowing and instantly smoother. The winters are brutal here in NYC, I had some weather-induced redness on my cheekbones and nose. The redness had vanished after one treatment and my acne looked significantly diminished. Your first session at Skin Laundry is complimentary and in my opinion, worth it. I definitely see a few more sessions in my future and will keep you updated with results on Instagram, @citygirlriss. Have any questions? Have you tried a laser facial before? What were your thoughts? Tell me in the comments below.

 

Sincerely,

Self-care Sunday

& Riss

 

 

 

The Easiest 2 Ingredient Face Mask Beauty Bloggers Swear By

Now that the holidays are over, it’s time to reorganize, refocus, and detox. In 2018, it’s back to eating healthy, clearing out the clutter, and working on my skin!  Although this face mask has been a staple in my routine for several years now, I had to share it with everyone because it’s cheap, easy, and effective. I’m not the only fan of this 2 ingredient miracle, beauty blogger Lauryn Evarts Bosstick, creator of, “The Skinny Confidential,”  is a fan of this tip as well as makeup guru Huda Kattan, creator of, “Huda Beauty.” To start, you’ll need a small bowl and flat brush. I typically will use my clean hands to mix the ingredients together, however, a brush is best. Our first ingredient has recently taken the beauty scene by storm…

Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay

Have you started noticing all your favorite skincare lines adding clay to their products? It’s because clay is so good for your skin! This healing clay is effective in that it detoxes your skin by pulling out dirt and oil stuck in your pores. Which means its great for acne.  I don’t think I’ve ever done a face mask where I could feel the effects of the mask on my skin working as well as this one has. When the mask begins to dry you can feel the clay hard at work drawing out those toxins. It’s a funny feeling the first time you try it, however, it’s safe for even the most sensitive skin. My skin is extremely sensitive, which is why I love all natural products. After this mask, my face gets red but nothing a little moisturizer can’t fix. Our next ingredient is also a local celeb in the healthcare world…

Apple Cider Vinegar

Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay mixed with equal parts Apple Cider Vinegar is all you need to make this mask. Used once a week or every two weeks, this mask will keep your pores under control. Why is it so good? In addition to the healing properties of clay, apple cider vinegar balances pH, detoxes, and possess anti-aging benefits. Just to name a few.

Of course, for additional benefits you can add lots of other ingredients to aid in any other skin care emergencies you may need to address. I personally will sprinkle in a little turmeric when I feel like my skin could use an extra boost of brightness. Or I’ll add a few drops of tea tree oil if I have a lot of breakouts. The possibilities are endless. I always do this mask whenever I come back from traveling. It’s saved my skin more times than I can remember and is now in my weekly skincare routine.

 

Happy New Year,

Riss

 

How to Naturally Lighten Your Hair

How to Naturally Lighten Your Hair

Hey Ladies! This week’s “tip of the week” is a beauty tip! Since summer is in full swing I’ve been spending every second I can in the great outdoors. My favorite outdoor spot like most people is…the beach! I am a beach bum through and through. The best part about summer is soaking up some vitamin D and…not having to always do my hair! During the months of June through August, I use minimal heat on my hair. I constantly wear my hair wet and in braids. Then I comb it through and add a little, okay a LOT, of dry shampoo to achieve beachy waves for my night-time look. I also, don’t cut or color my hair until after summer. Why? Heat can damage your hair and since I’m heat free for three months my hair grows long and strong naturally. In addition, I don’t color it because the sun naturally lightens my hair. Sometimes I’ll color it at the beginning of may and let the sun touch up my roots. However, there are plenty of things you can do to help aid the process. My all time favorite hack is…lemons! I LOVE LEMONS! I put them in my water, use them to marinate chicken and fish, and even in my beauty routine! Just apply some organic freshly squeezed lemon juice to your hair, hit the beach, and enjoy! You can brush it through, toss it in a bun, etc. There’s really no wrong way to do it. Growing up I remember a lot of girls using the sun-in spray. But I never used it because it turned every girl’s hair orange. So I took to the internet to find a natural solution and tada…the secret was something I already had in my fridge. The more consistent you do this treatment the lighter your hair will become. Of course, it’s not a dye so it won’t dramatically alter your original color. So if you have black hair, a drop of lemon juice won’t make you blonde. However, hair that naturally lightens from the sun, i.e. light brown or blonde will benefit from this hack. The overall effect is natural highlights and face framing lighter shades for a sun kissed look. It’s a gradual effect so don’t be frustrated if you don’t see a dramatic change after a one time use. Let me know how this tip works for you!

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Enjoy your summer!

City Girl Riss

Step by Step Halloween Makeup Guide

Step by Step Halloween Makeup Guide

It’s almost Halloween! Which means by now you’re putting the final touches on your costume…or in a panic because you still don’t have a costume. Let me make your life a little easier with this Step by Step Halloween 2016 Makeup Guide I wrote for CBS. Makeup artist Vito Palazzolo breaks down how to do some of the trendiest looks this Halloween for the ultimate costume. Here are some more Best Halloween costumes for Fall 2016 to check out as well! You can read the full makeup article here.

Step-By-Step Halloween Makeup Guide

Happy Halloween!

8 Reasons to Bring Coconut Oil on Your Next Vacation

8 Reasons to Bring Coconut Oil on Your Next Vacation

As a girl, I find it hard to travel anywhere without my makeup bag. On a recent trip to London, my heart was broken when airport security made me fit all my liquids into one zip bloc bag. I said goodbye to a lot of valuable travel sized liquids that day. Since the idea of paying for a checked bag makes me cringe, I started becoming more resourceful with the products I choose. I found one product in particular that I used for almost everything, coconut oil! I’ve posted a beauty hack using this product before but I figured it was so incredible that it needed its own article. I only use organic extra virgin coconut oil and an old essential oil bottle or plastic bottle to carry it in. To melt the oil back into a liquid, place it in a mug and microwave on high for 2 minutes or until the oil is completely melted. If you’re short on time, Shea Moisture sells a travel size available for purchase at Bed, Bath, and Beyond.

 

Here is a list of 8 things to replace with coconut oil…

  • Lip Balm
  • Make Up Remover
  • Moisturizer
  • Tanning Oil (In addition to regular SPF sunscreen)
  • Deep Conditioner
  • Cuticle Cream
  • Toothpaste (Oil pull, I do this in addition to regular toothpaste)
  • Detangler / Heat Protection

Any other uses I missed? Leave a suggestion in the comments below.

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Happy Traveling,

City Girl Riss

 

Tip of the Week: Beauty Hack

Tip of the Week: Beauty Hack

Packing can be so stressful. I always question the weather, what I really need, and how I’m going to fit everything in a carry-on! The less I can bring with me the better! Recently I ran out of makeup primer and was frantic to find an alternative using something around the house. I hate putting makeup on my skin without it because I tend to break out and get oily. You could say my skin and I have a love hate relationship. After a little research I came across this great find…Aloe Vera! Turns out it’s actually been the answer to my prayers. If you’ve read some of my other blogs then you know how much I love to use all natural products. The less chemicals the better in my opinion. The Aloe Vera certainly didn’t disappoint either. I’ve been using it religiously and I always bring a travel size with me on vacation because nothing puts a damper on your holiday like sunburn! Now I don’t have to spend a ton of money on primer and I get to save room in my makeup bag!

Benefits of Aloe Vera

  • Antioxidants
  • Antibacterial
  • Accelerates healing of burns
  • Improves skin elasticity
  • Increases collagen production
  • High in Vitamins and Minerals
  • Natural Astringent
  • Hydrating and Moisturizing
  • Softens Skin
  • Reduces inflammation

AND MORE! Have you tried it? Did you like this tip? Let me know in the comments below!

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Happy Traveling

City Girl Riss

TIp of the Week: Beauty Hack

TIp of the Week: Beauty Hack

As I realise that summer is coming to an end, I start to reflect on all of the great experiences I’ve had in 2015! I’ve also made the revelation about all the great tips that I’ve been keeping secret! Okay, maybe not keeping a secret but just oblivious that some of my summer rituals are actually beauty hack GOLD! Or worth a try in my opinion. If you didn’t know, I’m a bit of a health nut. I try to eat as clean as I can and I try not to drench myself in toxic chemicals. I struggle between being super strict and lazy! I want to be the healthiest person I can be but some days its just WAY easier to go to the drugstore and pick up whatever I can get my hands on. This hack, however, is super simple. I recently became aware that most sunscreens are toxic and chock full o’ chemicals. NOT COOL. So I went on EWG*, a non-profit organization dedicated to educate people on the cleanest produce and consumer products, and looked up clean sunscreens. Unfortunately, I don’t have access to all of the great sunscreens this website recommends but I was shocked to find out that banana boat was one of the most toxic products available! I’ve been using banana boat for years! My favorite product was ALWAYS their tanning oil SPF 4. I did some more research on safer alternatives and came across using coconut oil! TA DAAAAAAAAA!! The answer to my prayers! It naturally deflects some of the suns rays and works just as well as any other tanning oil I’ve ever used. Not to mention that it’s extremely moisturizing so that my legs feel silky smooth after the beach and not like sand paper. It’s perfect for summer and it makes you smell good enough to eat! So go to your grocery store and buy extra virgin organic coconut oil right away! You won’t be sorry!

If you get around to trying this hack, leave a comment! I’d love to hear your feed back!

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As always,

Happy Traveling

City Girl Riss