The Benefits of Aloe Vera

a close up of a green knife
© Courtesy of Adobe

You’ve probably seen an aloe vera plant somewhere high and dry in the desert before and wondered what it is about that specific succulent that people can’t seem to get over. It’s on the front label of so many lotions and gels at the drug store and you’ve even heard of some people drinking its juice?! What’s up with that?

There are many benefits of aloe vera from its moisturizing capabilities to its healing powers, and it’s high time you become aware of them. Why does it seem to be a key ingredient in so many lotions, conditioners and balms? Why does everyone reach for a bottle after a wicked sunburn? We’re going to explore the many benefits of aloe vera usage and the plentiful ways you can apply it to your daily routine whether it’s for your skin’s benefit, to soothe your digestion or to increase your wellness in other ways.

From the juice to the gels and the plant itself, there are many ways to enjoy and reap the benefits of the aloe vera plant. We’ll cover them all and point to a few products we love that’ll give you a chance to make aloe a key healing modality in your kitchen, bathroom cabinet and beyond.

What is Aloe Vera?

Aloe vera is a succulent plant with many medicinal and healing qualities that can aid your body internally and externally. Known for its thick, fleshy green leaves aloe vera stores water in its tissues that turns into the gel we’re all familiar with. This gel contains bioactive compounds that are packed with vitamins, amino acids, antioxidants and minerals. Each leaf can grow up to 12-19 inches in length, giving you plenty to work with.

You can buy your own aloe vera plant and harvest the gel directly from the plant or buy it in gel form or mixed in with lotions and conditioners to receive the benefit that way.

It’s also sold in capsule and liquid form for consumption to aid digestive troubles and other ailments, more on that later on.

How to Grow and Harvest an Aloe Vera Plant

Taking care of an aloe vera plant is very similar to other succulents. They prefer bright, indirect sunlight and do best when watered heavily every 3 weeks or so, and even less in the winter.

You’ll need to wait until your aloe vera plant is at least a few years old before harvesting to ensure a high enough concentration of the key active ingredients. Once your plant is ready for harvest, remove 3-4 leaves at the same time cutting from as close to the stem as possible, there are more beneficial nutrients at the base of the leaves than the tip.

Wash and dry your leaves before using a knife or your fingers to separate the gel inside from the harder exterior of the outer leaf. Cut the gel into slices, cubes or blend up in a blender for smoother gel.

Benefits of Aloe Use

Aloe is a powerful medicinal plant in that it can be used both topically directly from the plant and internally as a medicine taken orally. 

1. Aloe Soothes Burns

Aloe has naturally cooling and soothing qualities that make it a great topical treatment for sunburn, cooking burns and other skin ailments. It can be applied directly out of a leaf from your plant at home or bought at the drug store. Applying aloe a few times a day may help soothe burns and help the damaged skin heal faster, while also providing some relief from the pain and irritation.

2. Aloe Moisturizes Your Skin

The aloe vera plant is great at storing water in order to survive and thrive in the hot, dry and unstable climates it’s used to existing in. The water-dense leaves also contain complex carbohydrates in them that help skin absorb and retain the moisture as well. Aloe is great for applying to burnt and damaged skin but can also be used everyday by itself or in a lotion to keep skin supple and healthy.

Aloe vera is also an active ingredient in many shampoos designed to ease dandruff due to its moisturizing capabilities.

3. The Aloe Vera Plant Has Antibacterial Properties

Aloe vera contains antioxidants that are under the polyphenol umbrella of substances which may inhibit the growth of infection-causing bacteria in humans. We’re not saying it should replace your antibiotics, but it’s no friend of germs. That’s why humans have used aloe vera to treat wounds and burns for thousands of years, all thanks to its moisturizing capabilities as well as the antiviral, antibacterial and antiseptic properties it possesses.

4. Aloe Vera May Provide Heartburn Relief

Aloe vera has low toxicity and studies have shown that it’s a great natural remedy for GERD or Gastroesophageal reflux disease that often causes heartburn as a symptom. Consuming 1-3 ounces at mealtime may limit this acid reflux and limit heartburn as it eases digestive troubles in general. Consuming aloe gel can happen via a liquid or in capsule form for convenience.

5. Aloe Vera May Help Your Digestion System

Regularly consuming aloe vera, rather than applying it topically to your skin, may aid in a healthy digestive system and ease symptoms of IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). Studies have shown that aloe vera has significantly improved symptoms of IBS when compared with a placebo with little to no adverse effects. The natural remedy may diminish the growth of H. pylori a bacteria that can cause ulcers in the digestive tract.

6. Aloe Vera May Help Keep Produce Fresh

Aloe vera may help fruits and vegetables stay fresher, longer through providing a coating against certain harmful bacteria that would otherwise grow and harm the produce. The high concentration of vitamins and enzymes in the natural, gentle formula also can help boost your plant’s immune system and help it ward off pests and other harmful pathogens. Many plant experts recommend applying gel straight from the aloe vera plant to your watering routine in order to fortify your plant’s soil with all of the benefits of aloe vera.

7. Aloe Vera for Oral Health

Aloe vera natural toothpaste and mouthwash have become trendy alternative options for taking care of oral hygiene, getting rid of plaque and lowering levels of candida and gingivitis. Aloe vera has natural antimicrobial properties that may be contributing to this as well as the high levels of vitamin C which can block the growth of plaque. It can also speed up the healing of cuts in your mouth, bleeding or swollen gums.

8. Aloe Vera’s Effects on Blood Sugar

Aloe vera juice may benefit individuals with diabetes. According to a study published in the International Journal of Phytotherapy and Phytomedicine, consuming two tablespoons of aloe vera juice per day can lower blood sugar levels in patients with type 2 diabetes. The results of this study were also confirmed by another study with similar results. This could make aloe vera a pivotal part of alternative diabetes treatment in the future.

9. Aloe Vera Benefits for Acne

Acne is a tricky business, and aloe vera may be able to help. It’s all about finding what works for you and if you haven’t tried remedies with a key ingredient of aloe vera, it might be time to try. Aloe vera has moisturizing effects for skin as well as soothing effects in the form of toners, creams and cleansers. These products may be less irritating than products with harsher ingredients. In fact, a 2014 study found that using a cream with aloe vera in combination with conventional acne medication was more effective in treating mild to moderate acne and produced lower levels of inflammation and fewer lesions.

Article by Taylor Galla for SPY©

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The 3 biggest mistakes tourists make when visiting national parks

Article by (Talia Lakritz) for Insider©

A former park ranger reveals the 3 biggest mistakes tourists make when visiting national parksa young boy standing next to a body of water: Ash Nudd spent three seasons as a park ranger. Dirt In My Shoes© Dirt In My Shoes Ash Nudd spent three seasons as a park ranger.

Ash Nudd has gotten a lot of dirt in her shoes over the years, but she doesn’t seem to mind.

The Utah resident spent three seasons giving tours, teaching safety instruction courses, and even participating in search and rescue efforts as a National Park Service Ranger in three different national parks across the US. Now, she runs a blog called Dirt In My Shoes where she continues to share trip itineraries full of expert recommendations.

The CDC still recommends avoiding non-essential travel, but national parks have become a popular vacation option during the pandemic since road trips and socially distanced outdoor activities are relatively low-risk. But before you go, you should be prepared and know the do’s and don’ts.

Here are the three most common mistakes Nudd saw tourists make when visiting national parks.

Don’t wing it — plan your trip beforehand

a man standing in front of a counter: Park rangers can give you guidance, not an itinerary. Jacob W. Frank/NPS
© Jacob W. Frank/NPS  Park rangers can give you guidance, not an itinerary.

Exploring a national park requires advanced planning like any other trip. Park rangers are happy to offer guidance, but they can’t write your whole itinerary for you.

“A lot of people show up to the park thinking that they can just have a good time without making any plans,” Nudd said. “People would come up to the desk and ask, ‘What do we do now?’ It’s really important to make a good plan before you get there.”

Getting too close to wild animals isn’t worth the photo-op

a brown bear walking across a snow covered road: Wildlife has the right of way. Jacob W. Frank/NPS
© Jacob W. Frank/NPS  Wildlife has the right of way

A national park is not a zoo. People often forget that the parks and animals are, in fact, wild.

Nudd remembers one instance when a photographer crept too close to a mother and baby moose. The photographer brushed off her warnings and insisted he was fine, but Nudd could tell that the mother was getting dangerously agitated. (He lived to tell the tale.)

“I think everyone wants that Instagram-worthy photo of them when they’re there, and it can put the wildlife and the resources at risk,” she said.

Don’t stray from marked paths

a group of people standing on top of a mountain: Stay on the path. Jacob W. Frank/NPS
© Jacob W. Frank/NPS Stay on the path.

Everyone thinks they’re the only one to stray from a path and carve their own way, but millions of people visit national parks each year (327.5 million in 2019, to be exact). Wandering off a trail damages the ground around it, obscuring the real path and making it difficult for future visitors to find and follow.

“Maybe the smaller things don’t seem like as big of a deal, but if everybody did it then it would ruin the landscape,” she said. “I’d rarely see huge rule-breakers when I worked in the parks. Usually it was just the little stuff that adds up when you have millions of people there.”


Turn a Box of Blueberries Into 8 Healthy Breakfasts

By Jaime Osnato for©

Blueberry muffins
Image Credit: GEOLEE/iStock/GettyImage

Summertime is the season for fresh fruits, and blueberries are among the best when it comes to serving up scrumptious flavor and good-for-you nutrients.

Loaded with vitamins A, C, potassium and folate, one cup of blueberries offers up nearly 4 grams of gut-supporting fiber (that’s 14 percent of your daily value) for just 84 calories, per the USDA.

“Blueberries have a water content greater than 80 percent, which can help you maintain your hydration levels,” says May Zhu, RDN, LDN, founder of Nutrition Happens. This is especially important on hot summer days when you sweat a lot and your body needs extra fluids.

What’s more, these small but mighty berries are a good source of polyphenols and flavonoids, including anthocyanins — an antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties — which is linked to helping decrease the risk for heart disease and improving brain function, Zhu says.

Ready to reap the big gains of these tiny berries? From muffins to smoothies and parfaits, these eight healthy breakfast recipes are stuffed with juicy, fresh blueberries to brighten up your mornings.

1. Blueberry Protein Power Smoothie

Blueberry Protein Power Smoothie blueberry breakfast recipes

This blueberry smoothie serves up a stellar serving of protein. Image Credit: pilipphoto/Adobe Stock

This blueberry smoothie will give you a reason to rise and shine.

“At 350 calories, this smoothie contains all beneficial ingredients and a balanced macronutrient profile to keep your blood sugars stable and energy steady,” Zhu says. In other words, it’ll help you power through the morning and keep you full until lunchtime.

And with a whopping 32 grams of muscle-building protein per serving, it’s the optimal brekkie option after your a.m. workout. Just remember, “When choosing a protein powder, make sure to check the label and opt for a version without additional added sugars,” Zhu says.

Get the Blueberry Protein Power Smoothie recipe and nutrition info here.

2. Blueberry-Banana Protein Muffins

Blueberry-Banana Protein Muffins blueberry breakfast recipes

Protein powder and Greek yogurt supply 20 grams of protein for one serving of these not-so-average morning muffins. Image Credit: fahrwasser/ Adobe Stock

Who doesn’t love a mouthwatering muffin in the morning? And this one, packed with protein (20 grams) and fresh blueberries, will hit your sweet spot without sending your blood sugar spiking.

“At 8 grams of sugar, this recipe is significantly lower in comparison to your average store-bought muffin,” Zhu says.

Plus, the high-fiber whole-food ingredients including blueberries, whole-wheat flour and bananas all serve as sources of prebiotics, which are foods that can help support the probiotics we eat in our diets for good gut health, Zhu says.

To better balance out the macronutrients in this recipe, Zhu recommends pairing this with one tablespoon of nut butter to provide an additional fat source, a hard-boiled egg for more protein or, alternatively, an extra cup of fruit to increase fiber.

And with two muffins per serving, you get a lot of bang for your breakfast buck.

Get the Blueberry-Banana Protein Muffins recipe and nutrition info here.

3. Steel-Cut Oatmeal Berry Breakfast Bake

Steel-Cut Oatmeal Berry Breakfast Bake blueberry breakfast recipes

This blueberry breakfast bake is a fresh way to eat your morning oats. Image Credit:

“This breakfast bake is brimming with beneficial ingredients such as oatmeal and quinoa, both a good source of fiber to support digestion, and fresh fruits like bananas, blueberries and raspberries, which all contain a diverse, varied amounts of vitamins and minerals that work together to promote good health,” Zhu says.

For an even better balanced breakfast, Zhu recommends pairing this tasty bake with an extra source of protein like plain Greek yogurt or eggs to help you stay fuller for longer, or sprinkling in some seeds like chia or ground flax before serving to boost the fiber content.

“Alternatively, if you want to reduce the overall calories and fat, try swapping the full-fat dairy milk for an unsweetened almond or soymilk,” she adds.

Get the Steel-Cut Oatmeal Berry Breakfast Bake recipe and nutrition info here.

4. Chia and Quinoa Blueberry Breakfast Parfait

Chia and Quinoa Blueberry Breakfast Parfait blueberry breakfast recipes

This parfait combines superfoods like chia seeds, quinoa and blueberries for a brilliant breakfast .Image Credit:

There’s good reason why parfaits have become a staple breakfast food — and this one, layered with nutritious ingredients, is the prime example.

The combination of blueberries and chia seeds provide a solid source of healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which may help support your body’s response to inflammation, Zhu says

With a jaw-dropping 17 grams of fiber, this recipe will certainly stave off the stomach rumbles until your midday meal. But keep in mind: “When you’re eating more or introducing more fiber-rich foods into your diet, make sure you’re also drinking extra water to help support your digestion,” Zhu says.

If you want to reduce calories and increase protein, Zhu suggests swapping out the quinoa for plain Greek yogurt.

“By doing so, you’ll bring down overall calories and carbohydrates while bumping up the protein,” resulting in a beautiful balance of macros that’ll keep you more than sufficiently satiated, she explains.

Get the Chia and Quinoa Blueberry Breakfast Parfait recipe and nutrition info here.

5. No-Flour Blueberry and Oatmeal Three-Minute Microwave Muffin

No-Flour Blueberry and Oatmeal 3-Minute Microwave Muffin blueberry breakfast recipes

Ready in three minutes, this microwaveable muffin helps simplify hectic mornings. Image Credit: Getty Images

Ideal for busy mornings, it only takes three minutes in the microwave to make this healthy blueberry oatmeal muffin.

Oatmeal is a great base for this single-serve muffin because it’s a stellar source of soluble fiber, which research shows may help to lower cholesterol and support heart health, Zhu says.

And since you can control the portion — one mug-full versus a tray of 12 muffins — you can crush your baked goods cravings without the concern of overindulging.

For even more nutrients, toss in an extra teaspoon of ground flaxseeds, Zhu recommends. This addition keeps the recipe under 300 calories while it helps increase fiber and omega-3 fatty acids that promote both brain and heart health, she says.

Get the No-Flour Blueberry and Oatmeal Three-Minute Microwave Muffin recipe and nutrition info here.

6. Creamy Berry Quinoa Parfait

Creamy Berry Quinoa Parfait blueberry breakfast recipes

Greek yogurt and quinoa pack this blueberry parfait with plenty of protein. Image Credit:

Greek yogurt and quinoa are the all stars in this simple yet satisfying breakfast parfait with 25 grams of protein per serving.

Indeed, a high-protein diet is linked to greater satiety and less body fat, plus it helps you maintain lean muscle mass, according to a November 2014 study in Nutrition & Metabolism.

Containing all nine essential amino acids, quinoa is a particularly important plant-based food for those who don’t eat animal protein and a good option for those with gluten intolerances since it’s naturally gluten-free, Zhu says.

Meanwhile the walnuts in this recipe provide “prebiotics to feed the good bacteria (probiotics) found in the Greek yogurt and support a healthy digestive system,” she adds.

Get the Creamy Berry Quinoa Parfait recipe and nutrition info here.

7. Whole-Wheat Blueberry Protein Muffins

Whole-Wheat Blueberry Protein Muffins blueberry breakfast recipes

These healthier, homemade blueberry muffins have the ideal combination of fiber, protein and healthy fats. Image Credit:

“While overall calories appear to be on the higher side, this recipe can still work as a breakfast option because of the combination of fiber, protein and healthy fats that come together to keep your blood sugars stable and promote satiety,” Zhu says.

But if you’re concerned about calories, a simple swap is the solution: “One cup of applesauce can be used as a full substitute for the half cup of vegetable oil to reduce fat and offer additional fiber and nutrients,” Zhu says. When shopping for applesauce, always opt for unsweetened varieties without extra sugars.

You can further boost the nutritional profile of baked goods like this muffin by incorporating seeds like flax, chia or hemp for extra fiber and plant protein, Zhu adds.

Get the Whole-Wheat Blueberry Protein Muffins recipe and nutrition info here.

8. Blueberry Chia Jam

Blueberry Chia Jam blueberry breakfast recipes

You only need blueberries, chia seeds and clementine to whip us this healthy, homemade jam. Image Credit: Sarah Pflugradt, RDN/

This jaw-droppingly delicious jam is jam-packed with nutrients and filling fiber thanks to three simple ingredients — blueberries, chia seeds and clementines.

“As far as jams go, this homemade version is low in sugar and a great way to utilize the natural sweetness of blueberries,” Zhu says. In comparison, just one tablespoon of store-bought blueberry jam serves up 7 sugars (more than twice the amount for only half the serving of the natural homemade stuff).

Spread this jam on a slice of whole-grain sprouted bread with a spoonful of almond butter or layer it into a parfait with Greek yogurt for protein, Zhu recommends. Every half-cup of plain Greek yogurt provides around 20 grams of protein.


8 Best Lawn Mowers to Buy in 2020

best lawnmowersCOURTESY

Buying a new lawn mower or tractor can be a serious investment, so the experts at the Good Housekeeping Institute teamed up with Roy Berendsohn, Senior Home Editor at Popular Mechanics, to give you the best recommendations on the market right now. Overall, our top picks for the best lawn mowers to buy in 2020 are:

Best Overall Lawn Mower: Honda Variable Speed 4-in-1 Gas Walk-Behind Self-Propelled Lawn Mower
Best Value Gas Lawn Mower: Troy-Bilt Gas Walk-Behind Push Mower with 3-in-1 TriAction Cutting System
Best Value Electric Lawn Mower: Greenworks 40V Cordless Electric Lawn Mower
Best Walk-Behind Gas Lawn Mower: Toro Super Recycler Gas Walk-Behind Self-Propelled Lawn Mower
Best Walk-Behind Electric Lawn Mower:EGO Cordless Electric Walk-Behind Self-Propelled Mower
Best Robotic Lawn Mower: Husqvarna AUTOMOWER 315X Robotic Lawn Mower
Best Riding Lawn Mower: 
Husqvarna Hydrostatic 46-in. Riding Lawn Mower
Best Compact Riding Lawn Mower: Cub Cadet 30-in. 382 cc Gas Rear Engine Riding Mower

What is the best type of lawn mower for my needs?

The size and slope of your yard will be the main factors for choosing the right option, plus your willingness for physical exertion and the time you have to dedicate to mowing your lawn. The two main classifications are walk-behind or riding mowers:

  • Walk-behinds come in three basic types: manual lawn mowers, where you’re doing all the work without any assist from a motor or engine; push lawn mowers with an engine or motor to power the blades; and self-propelled lawn mowers, where an engine or motor powers the wheels and the blades.
  • Riding mowers are available in both manual and automatic transmissions (much like how you control a car) as well as hydrostatic, which uses fluid instead of belts for power transfer. Zero turn tractors are essentially suped-up riding mowers and enable better handling and higher speeds than traditional tractors, as you control rotation with a pair of levers as opposed to a wheel (i.e., turning one will move you in a circle). If you’re looking for a more detailed breakdown of the types of mowers, we recommend you check out Popular Mechanics‘ lawn mower buying guide.

As a simple rule of thumb, you should get a walk-behind mower if you have less than ½ an acre. Berendsohn says instead of considering the overall lot acreage, it’s better to look specifically at how much cutting space you have. When factoring in just grass, he recommends a walk-behind for anything less than 10,000 square feet, which is just shy of a quarter of an acre for comparison. Anything more and you’ll want to opt for a riding option.

What other features matter when it comes to lawn mowers?

Once you determine the type of mower or tractor you’ll want, there are a slew of other considerations you should be mindful of:

  • Bonus and advanced features: For riding mowers, extras like an ergonomic seat and cup holder may not be lead determinants, but sure are nice to have! While we’re at it, cruise control is definitely another nice-to-have, as is automatic drive for adjusting speeds. Some tractors have the ability to switch mowing modes without a manual blade change required – super handy! For cordless electric walk-behind machines, some have removable batteries which makes storage and charging simpler.
  • Warranty: This is a product category where you want to look for a robust warranty to ensure if something goes wrong you’ll be covered.
  • Wheel size: You’ll want to consider both the front and rear wheels. You’ll want taller rear wheels if you’re going over rougher surfaces.
  • Cutting options: Mowers can mulch, discharge (either to the side or rear), or bag clippings. Some mowers can only support one type of cutting option, some two, some all three. Depending upon what you are trying to accomplish and how frequently you cut your lawn will determine what’s ideal for you.
  • Storage space: Most electric push models can be placed vertically to save storage space, but only specific gas models can handle vertical storage, as it requires special engine seals to ensure gas won’t leak out.
  • Budget: Of course, you’ll have to factor in your budget when weighing these features out. In the end, it will be a trade-off of performance, comfort and durability. Lawn mower models start at a few hundred dollars, but prices can climb well into the thousands.

The Good Housekeeping Institute’s engineering team has looked at lawn mowers in the past for ease of use and performance capabilities. While a full battery test has not been completed recently, based upon brand experience, speaking with other industry experts, and knowledge of specifications and engines, these are the picks we feel are worthy of beautifying your lawn:

Article by Rachel Rothman, Good Housekeeping Institute and Lynn Redmile, Good Housekeeping Institute

5 Things to Remember If You’re Working Remotely Right Now

Months ago, millions of us packed up whatever gear we could grab from the office, went home, and, overnight, began life as remote workers. From taking regular breaks to sticking to a schedule to establishing a dedicated workspace, there are plenty of strategies for making working from home work. But there’s a huge difference between choosing to go remote and being forced to do so during an emergency. As remote work becomes more of a long-term or even permanent situation for many during the COVID-19 pandemic, what can we do to prevent burnout? We got experts to give us their best tips, advice, and things to keep in mind.

1. Take the plunge and invest in a more comfortable set-up

If you’ve spent the last few months hunched over the kitchen table or curled up on the couch, avoiding investing in home office gear in hopes you’d get back to the real office soon, it might be time to reconsider. Even after just a short time, your body may be feeling the effects (stiff neck, back, and shoulders, anyone?). “The ergonomics of home offices are absolutely horrible,” according to Laurel Farrer, founder of the Remote Work Association. “There are hundreds of rules that go into keeping us healthy and safe at [on-site] work, from which watt of the lightbulb is used, to the length of carpet and how high desks are. When we go home, we don’t know what those are or that we should be implementing them,” potentially putting our health at risk. 

Farrer, who also runs Distribute Consulting from her home in Connecticut, said it can be liberating to realize that we don’t need a lot of office odds and ends we thought we did, from stodgy office furniture to giant file cabinets. But making sure your pared-down remote set-up supports your well-being is still critical (see how yours measures up with this checklist from the National Institutes of Health). And you don’t necessarily have to spend a lot to feel better. “Small, simple, and cheap changes,” she said, like putting your laptop on top of a box (to raise it closer to eye level) or simply standing up more, can make a real difference. If you are ready to invest, though, Farrer suggested a riser or standing desk of some sort for your laptop, plus a real keyboard and mouse. Some fun extras? Arranging a good video call backdrop, and buying a good microphone and ring light, “things we’ve never thought about before” that can make video meetings look way more professional.

2. Continue to reinforce boundaries, but remember to (virtually) socialize 

“You wouldn’t barge into someone’s office and expect them to drop everything they are doing for you,” a teammate once told Julie Chabin, who heads product design at Product Hunt and YourStack remotely from Paris. It’s the same with remote work. In the virtual workplace, with requests cascading in through email, instant messages, and calls, “it’s OK to say ‘thank you, I’ll take a look at this after I’m done with my current task,’ when you get a notification,” advised Chabin, who has worked remotely for five years. 

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t connect with colleagues. It just has to be more intentional, said Daisy Chang, professor of organizational psychology at Michigan State University. Though she misses walking down the hall to chat with colleagues and checking in with her graduate students in person, her department, like all newly remote teams, have to carve out time to “talk to each other, exchange ideas, maintain social connection” and get support virtually. From scheduling chats to more formal ways of getting on the same page, like syncing digital calendars to focus on a project at the same time, Chang said it’s important, especially for people who particularly crave in-person connection, “to find ways to inject that back into their work life.”

3. Over-communicate and be proactive 

A lot can get lost virtually, especially when the shift happens abruptly, so it’s important to be super clear when discussing a project, idea, or request with coworkers. “In remote work, over-communication is just communication,” said Farrer. Even if it feels like you’re talking a ton and over-explaining, keep at it. “That’s how you stay connected.”

Chang, who recently conducted a study on the hasty transition from in-person to working at home and some of the unique challenges that workers face in the COVID-19 context, agreed it’s harder to communicate effectively. But the self-described optimist said she actually sees this as an opportunity to be clearer. Being apart could force us to be more thoughtful and challenge us to consider a problem more deeply before crafting an email or speaking up on a call, rather than throwing out a half-baked idea in passing.

Something both Chang and Farrer agree on is the need to be proactive, especially if a new colleague joins virtually or you’re the newbie yourself. Managers and companies should ideally be providing training and channels to get to know people, but some are still playing catch-up with the remote situation, too. In the meantime, “we really have to rely on ourselves,” said Farrer, whether that’s mustering the courage to hit “send” on an email to a potential mentor or simply scheduling a virtual coffee chat with someone you don’t know well. 

4. Mix things up 

Hated your hours or dress code? More productive in the early mornings? One benefit to remote work is that, on your own turf, there are opportunities to make your job work better for you. “We all sort of fall into a routine, something that’s comfortable, but it doesn’t hurt to learn new habits or change it up,” said Chang, who also suggested sharing what worked or didn’t with coworkers, from blocking out mornings for focused work to changing up your online hours. 

After all, Farrer said, “you don’t have your employer sitting next to you telling you what to do,” so it’s important to work on being more self-reliant when it comes to getting things done and how you do them. Employees (even those with amazing supervisors) have to “take initiative to be their own boss for a little while,” making calls about what works for them.  

5. Embrace kindness and vulnerability 

It’s time for us to get real at work—at least a little bit. While keeping things professional is paramount, it’s important to recognize that everyone has their own struggles and personal demands, especially now. “The reality of working from home is it’s not all sunshine and rainbows all the time,” Farrer said, even in normal times. Being yourself and being open “is how you create a sense of culture in a remote team.” (In fact, Chang said, a number of studies show that being allowed to be your authentic self at work may lead to higher performance and engagement while feeling inauthentic at work can lead to burnout). 

In other words, your coworkers are your coworkers, but we’re all human. “It’s essential to care about people, genuinely. Ask them how they are doing, let them be people, not just colleagues or clients,” Chabin said. “As we’ve seen with this global pandemic, we all have families, pets, children… it’s okay to have candid conversations.” And if you’re a freelancer or solo business owner, it may be helpful to find people in your field to reach out to for that same sort of support. 

If you’re not ready to open up or your company’s culture doesn’t allow for it, acts of kindness can go a long way virtually. Whether that’s shouting out someone’s success with a client, or recognizing a birthday or work milestone, Chabin suggested, these simple acts still go a long way toward building trust. Extend those kindnesses to yourself—this is an incredibly difficult time for everyone (even remote work experts, Farrer said, were struggling at the beginning of the pandemic). If self-care has slipped as the months have gone on, recommit to claiming those extra hours you spent commuting as personal time, Chabin emphasized, whether that’s reading a book, working out, going for a walk, chatting with family or trying out a 15-step skincare routine

If you’re struggling with remote life or feeling burnout creep in, above all, it’s important to remember: “This is not working remotely,” Farrer said, “this is trying to maintain economic and business continuity during a global crisis.”


Every hand sanitizer the FDA has flagged as dangerous and potentially deadly

Article by (Julia Naftulin) 

a hand holding a bottle: Crystal Cox/Business Insider

© Crystal Cox/Business Insider Crystal Cox/Business Insider

  • Since June 19, the FDA has been warning consumers of dangerous hand sanitizers that contain the fatal chemical methanol. Methanol is a type of alcohol that can be deadly if ingested or absorbed through the skin.
  • The FDA found some hand sanitizer producers putting it into their products. In some cases, methanol wasn’t a listed ingredient.
  • Here are all of the hand sanitizers the FDA has warned consumers of so far due to their methanol or potential methanol content.

Since June 19, the FDA has been building a list of hand sanitizers that they say could contain the deadly chemical methanol.

As hand sanitizer production increased during the pandemic, more companies pivoted to producing the high-demand product. Ethanol and isopropyl alcohol, the two types of alcohol commonly found in sanitizers and the ingredients that make them effective at killing germs, were in short supply.

That’s why the FDA believes some producers starting swapping in methanol, another type of alcohol, and an ingredient used to produce antifreeze and fuel.

Unlike ethanol and isopropyl alcohol, methanol can be deadly when inhaled or absorbed into the bloodstream through your skin. In the United States, any product that contains more than 4% methanol must be labeled as “poison.”

That’s why health officials flagged nine methanol-containing hand sanitizers that all came from one producer in Mexico. In many cases, these products listed ethanol as the effective ingredient, but once the FDA tested them, they were found to contain methanol

But since then, more dangerous hand sanitizers have emerged, and the FDA said it will continue to flag these products to consumers.

Here are all of the hand sanitizers the FDA has warned against so far:

Click the above link to see all dangerous hand sanitizers.


Dr. Pimple Popper’s summertime skincare routine

Yes, there really is a Dr. Pimple Popper. She has a tv show and YouTube channel that features a segment on removing a cyst. And here she is:

Article by (Julia Naftulin)  

Sandra Lee smiling for the camera: Hollis Johnson/Insider© Hollis Johnson/Insider Hollis Johnson/Insider

  • Dr. Sandra Lee, a California-based dermatologist who is also known as Dr. Pimple Popper, has tailored her skincare routine for summertime concerns, like extra sun and oily skin.
  • She uses a powder sunscreen, face wash, and dark spot treatment daily.
  • She also abstains from putting makeup on the lower half of her face to prevent bacteria buildup and breakouts while wearing a face mask.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Dr. Pimple Popper has dedicated her career to treating the blackheads, cysts, and lipomas of people across the country, so it only makes sense she’s perfected her own skincare routine.

In the summer, the dermatologist, whose real name is Dr. Sandra Lee, told Insider that she adds a few extra products to account for the extra sun and heat that can lead to sunburns, wrinkles, and acne.

She alternates between two face washes, including one from the drugstore

Lee washes her face daily. If she feels like her skin is in need of exfoliation, she uses her own skincare line’s salicylic acid cleanser, and if her skin feels dry, she uses a drugstore favorite: Cerave’s Hydrating Facial Cleanser.

Dr. Pimple Popper prefers a mineral-powder sunscreen

Dr. Pimple Popper always uses an SPF-containing product to protect her skin from the sun.

She told Insider that even those who spend lots of time indoors should use a sunscreen, since the wrinkle-causing rays can get through windows and affect your skin.

Lee prefers a mineral sunscreen in powder form because it “keeps my skin protected from sunburn and more severe skin damage like signs of aging and skin cancer.” The powder formula also reduces shine if you have an oily complexion.

She uses her skincare line’s SLMD UV Bounce powder sunscreen because it comes in an-easy-to-use brush that she can take anywhere and reapply.

She treats existing dark spots

But Lee’s skin isn’t spot-free, so she incorporates a dark-spot corrector to treat discolored areas on her face.

“I have been incorporating a skin color correction cream I created, Dark Spot Fix, which helps improve the appearance of any discoloration resulting from acne, sun damage, and melasma,” she said.

Minimal makeup prevents face-mask acne

Recently, Lee has considered how the coronavirus pandemic could affect her skin and adjusted her routine accordingly.

“During the day, because of having to wear a mask, I try to wear minimal face makeup,” Lee said, because it prevents bacterial buildup in the pores that can lead to acne.

She only puts makeup on the top half of her face and keeps acne wipes with exfoliating ingredients on hand so she can remove any dirt or other debris that may have settled into her skin while wearing her mask.


Oprah Winfrey’s Advice for Success

  • Slide 1 of 31: Oprah Winfrey is royalty among the world of celebrities—highly-respected, the image of grace and class, and a true role model. As a TV host, CEO, author, actor, producer, and philanthropist, it seems she's won every outstanding achievement award under the sun, and luckily she's also one of the most relatable and accessible billionaires out there, having shared so much of herself with the public over the years.Beginning as a low-income woman of color, she's had a tumultuous ride filled with hardships and breaking points. In this gallery, check out the most valuable pieces of advice that have paved her path to success. Click on!

Photo credit: Getty Images

Oprah Winfrey’s secrets to success

Oprah Winfrey is royalty among the world of celebrities—highly-respected, the image of grace and class, and a true role model. As a TV host, CEO, author, actor, producer, and philanthropist, it seems she’s won every outstanding achievement award under the sun, and luckily she’s also one of the most relatable and accessible billionaires out there, having shared so much of herself with the public over the years.

Beginning as a low-income woman of color, she’s had a tumultuous ride filled with hardships and breaking points. Check out the most valuable pieces of advice that have paved her path to success. 

When people show you who they are, believe them

Winfrey has said that this is her favorite piece of advice—a lesson she learned the hard way about a partner, with the help of Maya Angelou—that if someone shows you they are untrustworthy, selfish, etc, believe them the first time.

Be authentic

Winfrey is someone who constantly seeks self-improvement through a relentless examination of her own life, but it took her some time to first realize that people just wanted her as she is. “I had no idea that being your authentic self could make me as rich as I’ve become. If I had, I’d have done it a lot earlier.”

Fight prejudice with excellence

In a field of white male news anchors, a black woman who didn’t fit beauty standards was an easy target for prejudice. But she was the best at what she did, and made her talent impossible to deny: “Excellence is the best deterrent to racism or sexism.”

Find the good in the bad

Winfrey’s past is full of unimaginable struggle—she grew up poor, was sexually abused as a child, and had a son at the age of 14 who died in infancy—but she credits these events for giving her more capacity to relate to the pain of others. “Turn your wounds into wisdom,” as she says.

The “power of service”

For her commencement address at Smith College, she advised students to focus on how they can serve. She wants you to ask yourself, “How can I be used?”

There’s no such thing as failure

“Go ahead. Fall down. The world looks different from the ground.” Winfrey looks at what most people consider failure to be a chance at seeing things from a new perspective, learning a new lesson, or finding a new route. She told Harvard’s 2013 graduating class that “failure is just life trying to move us in another direction.”

Challenge the status quo

Obedience we learn in school is sometimes the antithesis to success in business, and Winfrey is a great example of that. At her first job as a news anchor, she didn’t read the news in a dry, objective tone as everyone else did, but rather delivered emotion and empathy. It was a risk, but producers and audiences loved it.

Believe in the “why”

If you don’t know why you’re doing your job, it will not give you fulfillment. Understanding the “why” behind the “doing” gives both you and the work meaning, which is why Winfrey advises you only do things in alignment with your truth.

Try, try again

Winfrey encourages everyone to run head-on towards the thing they’re scared they cannot do, and to keep trying after they fail. “Do the one thing you think you cannot do. Fail at it. Try again. Do better.”

This article by Stars Insider  has more Winfrey advice here:

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