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

 

 

Swimming with Sharks in the Bahamas

The One With the Bloody Nose

Yup, you read that right! No better time to get a bloody nose than when you’re scuba diving with over 40 sharks. Earlier in the summer, I had two sinus infections as well as an ear infection. When you’re scuba diving and you descend deeper into the ocean, you have to equalize the pressure build up from your sinus cavities by popping your ears. Similar to what you experience when you descend on an airplane. The nosebleed was most likely caused by my left ear’s inability to equalize. Obviously, I made it through the experience in one piece but what I came away with was something far more valuable than just another log in my dive book. I finished my second dive, at Stuart Cove’s Dive, with a whole new outlook on a beautiful creature that once upon a time I feared to no end. When I think about it, in every shark movie I’ve ever seen, the tiniest scratch of blood will turn any shark into a cold-blooded killing machine. While it is true that some sharks have killed before, it may be possible that these massive creatures are just severely misunderstood.

So let’s look at some facts about the Carribean Reef Shark…

“While it is considered dangerous to humans, this shark does not have a history of attacks on humans.”

“Although laws ban the hunting or fishing of this species, the fishing industry in South America still finds these sharks in about 40% of their fish catch. While the catches are unintended, there has still been a drastic impact on the population and the population continues to dwindle.”

When we look at facts about sharks as a populous…

“The odds of getting attacked and killed by a shark are 1 in 3,748,067. In a lifetime, you are more likely to die from fireworks, lightning, drowning, a car accident, or heart disease.”

“There are 70 to 100 shark attacks worldwide every year, 5 to 15 result in death.”

“Over 100 million sharks are taken every year by humans. That is approximately 11,000 sharks killed every hour.”

In conclusion, these beautiful creatures are being hunted to the point of extinction. Without sharks, the ocean’s ecosystem will collapse. With no large predators to monitor the fish population, the ocean’s plankton will, in theory, go extinct as well. Scientists believe that phytoplankton is responsible for creating 50 to 85 percent of the world’s oxygen. These tiny ocean plants use photosynthesize – that is, they use sunlight and carbon dioxide to make food. A byproduct of photosynthesis is oxygen. So for every other breath you take, you can thank these tiny ocean plants.

My hope is that by watching this video you’ll see just how majestic these creatures are and why they’re worthy of our protection. The dive master, Evan (who you can see feeding the sharks in the video), explains that not only do the sharks remember the boats that belong to Stuart’s Cove, but they also remember the dive masters. I witnessed one shark snuggle under his arm and sit on his lap waiting to be pet, just like a dog. The sharks are naturally inquisitive of you and their eyes will move and follow you, meaning they show signs of curiosity and intelligence.  You may even notice some of the sharks have scars and scratches from hooks used and left by fishing boats. I managed to get one close up of a shark who they’ve dubbed, “The Joker,” after the sides of his mouth were altered from embedded hooks. Once every few month’s, the dive masters will remove these hooks in their efforts to conserve and protect these species. I would rate my experience and satisfaction with Stuart Cove’s Dive a 10/10 and would highly recommend.

 

Thank you, Stuart Cove’s Dive!

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 Ultimate Valentine’s Day Roundup

Panicking for last-minute V-Day Ideas? I got you covered. From date ideas to DIY gifts to a delicious home cooked meal there’s a little something for everyone. Then on Thursday, we can celebrate the real holiday. You know, when all the candy at CVS goes on sale for 50% off. One time a CVS worker joked with me about how you could buy the candy half off now and save it for next year, HAHA. If you don’t want to be single for Valentine’s Day in 2019 I would advise against this. Regardless, wishing all you love birds a very happy Valentine’s Day!

 

The Best Free Valentine’s Date Idea in NYC

Valentine’s Day Dinner for Two

DIY Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas to Make for Your Loved Ones

Valentine’s Day Activities for Singles

Romantic Valentine’s Day Destinations

 

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(Photo of myself and my Galentine’s Day bestie, Brittany, on a beach in Norway under the Northern Lights. Our attempt at a heart, haha.)

 

XOXO,

Riss

The Best Free Valentine’s Date Idea in NYC

If you live or have ever visited NYC, you know that it’s one of the greatest cities in the world. However, in addition to being one of the greatest cities, it’s also one of the most expensive. Between rent, Ubers, and your seamless bill, a holiday that’s centered around celebrating your loved one via overpriced meals and novelty teddy bears can easily put a strain on any financial plan. Mix it up this year by taking your significant other to the Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park. Bryant Park is the only free admission ice skating rink in NYC making it a great budget-friendly v-day spot. You can rent skates for a small fee or bring your own for free. Skating under the NYC skyline is not only romantic, it’s also fun!

Of course, after you work up an appetite you can stop by the Winter Village Eatery, Public Fare, for some casual cuisine and cocktails. Just be sure to save room for dessert as you indulge your sweet tooth at DŌ, Cookie Dough Confections. DŌ’s cookie dough concoctions are easily the most Instagrammed dessert of 2017 with their first store opening in NYC hosting lines that seem to be a mile long. In other words, it’s really really good. I’d say it’s the perfect way to end Valentine’s day.

 

 

Wishing all you lovebirds a Happy V-Day!

Riss

 

Super Bowl Sunday Party Recipes

The biggest football game of the year is almost here! I wrote this article for CBS in November but these easy to make recipes are relevant all season long. My personal favorite is my jalapeno bacon guacamole. My family is addicted and threatens to uninvite me to Christmas, yes Christmas, if I don’t bring it. They wouldn’t really do it but I think we can all agree guac is life! Plus seven other recipes that are just as good. Make your Superbowl the party of the year this upcoming Sunday. Who are you rooting for to win this year?

You can find the CBS article here.

8 Dishes to Enjoy While Watching Football

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Happy Super Bowl Sunday,

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

 

Decluttering tips for a New Year, New You

This 2018, don’t let mess ruin your success. Get ahead of your goals by starting off the year with a clean slate. You’ve heard of spring cleaning, but here’s why New Years Day is the best time to get the ball rolling on your NYE goals. As we start to take down the holiday decorations and ring in the new year, we can’t help but reflect on all that we’ve done in the months prior. Thus, the NYE resolution is born. Although our goals may vary in details, we all strive to accomplish one thing…living our best life. Whether it’s getting in shape, eating healthier, or striving to be a better version of you, we all go into a new chapter of our lives with the best intentions. Achieve your aspirations by getting organized this year. Ultimately if you declutter your home, your mind will follow suit leaving you more time to focus on what you set out to achieve. To start, I tackle the biggest projects first, using the most of my extra days off, and work on the smaller projects as the month progresses, however, you can do what works best for you. To start, I tackle my biggest project, the…

Pantry

Trying to commit to a healthier lifestyle this January? Then start with the basics. Your pantry! Even if you are content with your eating habits, a pantry cleanse is a great way to take inventory of everything you have and get rid of everything you’ve been stockpiling from your experimental cooking days. For example, I haven’t had white rice in over two years, yet in my pantry was 2 lbs of white rice. You don’t even have to waste all that unused food, donate unopened pantry items to a food drive or local shelter. Any opened items I found are typically no longer good or unhealthy in the first place. Unfortunately, they won’t be making the cut in 2018. Once my pantry was cleared, I was able to see what I needed to restock, also great when planning to buy in bulk,  and make room for healthier choices in the new year.

 

Bathroom Cabinets

Self-acclaimed beauty junkies, such as myself, are frequent offenders of having overflowing bathroom cabinets. In my cabinets, they’re overflowing with free samples. I’d say Sephora is to blame but I’m also not exactly turning down anything free. Not to mention, the abundance of unused products that haven’t been touched in well over a year. Keep the essentials, clear the clutter, and donate any unused products to a shelter near you. Women shelters are especially in need of makeup and feminine products. Use dividers, baskets, and trays to keep your cabinets neat all year long. In addition, any cleaning supplies that may be under sinks that you no longer use could be downsized or upgraded. Toss old sponges, gloves, and the hoard of plastic bags you get from the local store, as well. You have a whole year to start anew.

 

Closet

My closet gets three cleanings a year, once in the spring, once in the fall and in the new year. In spring and fall, I clear my closet of anything damaged, tattered, or not worn in the past two years. In the new year, I organize and arrange for all the new items I received post-holidays. Take the time to get anything hemmed, mended, or resoled. In addition, my sock and winter accessory drawers also receive a good cleaning as well. Gloves and socks are famous for losing their better half in my house. It’s also a great time to take inventory of basic items you need. The new year is a great time to put those gift cards to work and stock up on basic clothing items such as socks, t-shirts, underwear, etc. Don’t forget about your hallway closet, too.

 

Jewelry Box

If you’re not on top of your game when it comes to your jewelry box, (and let’s be honest I’m most definitely not,) your boxes, stands, and catch all trays can quickly turn into bottomless pits of tarnished jewelry, mismatched earrings, and broken chains. Out with the old and in with new, as they say. Sell any jewelry items that are out of date for cash. I once made $300.00 after cleaning out my jewelry box. Hello, vacation money. Clean the items you keep so that you walk into 2018 looking like a million bucks.

 

Computer

When we think of traditionally organizing our homes, technology is often overlooked. Your computer and cell phone are great ways to store important documents, helpful apps, and thousands of pictures. However, just like my patience, our storage has a limit. Especially my icloud! So with a new year filled with busy schedules and great new memories ahead, get rid of any old photos, documents, or unused apps you don’t think you’ll need in 2018. If you really have a hard time letting go, aka me, you can upgrade your icloud storage for a monthly fee, use a third party source like Dropbox, or get a back up hard drive and store everything on there. Beware of storing everything on a USB. I only use USB’s for short-term projects and even then, I back up everything on the USB as they can be unreliable and unexpectedly crash, trust me on this. Finally, be sure that everything is in working condition. Fix any minor technical malfunctions, get a new battery for your phone, and/or UPGRADE to the newest operating systems.

 

The “Messy” Drawer

The “messy” drawer goes by many names but can easily be identified by an overflowing supply of knick-knacks, pens, and takeout menu’s that should have been disposed of or put in its proper place ages ago. Keep the essentials and toss anything you have in excess.

 

Bonus Points

If you have the time, your car and attic/storage space could use a good decluttering as well. But can also be postponed until the spring depending on your upcoming schedule.

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Best of luck in the new year,

City Girl Riss

Show-Stopping Thanksgiving Side Dishes

If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably been dreaming about sinking your teeth into that delicious roast pheasant this upcoming turkey day. However, there’s plenty of room on your dining table for more than one star! I’ll be cooking the side dishes for my family feast this Thanksgiving. Speaking of giving, you can find my show-stopping side dish recipes on CBS local, here. When I think of sides, I think about my favorite vegetables and what I grew up eating during the holidays. Next, I pick out the vegetable, learn a classic recipe and build a flavor profile that compliments the main ingredient in a new and exciting way.  My cheesy Brussel sprout casserole, for example, is a modern take on creamed spinach, which has always been a long time favorite in my family. Using fresh herbs and easy to follow recipes, I’ll show you how to make this Thanksgiving a memorable one. Be sure to follow me on Instagram @citygirlriss for more tips, tricks and to see how my family reacts to the new and improved versions of their favorite side dishes! Be sure to scroll down for more Thanksgiving articles.

 

Show-Stopping Thanksgiving Side Dishes

 

8 Gluten-Free Recipes for Thanksgiving

 

Thanksgiving Dinner Alternatives to Turkey

How to Turn Your Thanksgiving Gathering Into a Party

8 Dishes to Enjoy While Watching Football

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Happy Thanksgiving,

City Girl Riss