Probiotics: Go With Your Gut

I’m not sure Nietzsche actually said it, but it pops up frequently on the @NietzscheQuotes Twitter account I follow: “The abdomen is the reason man does not easily take himself for a god.”

The truth is real. To keep it in the philosophical realm of for a minute before we get to actual digestion, I also find myself thinking about Aristotle’s concept of the golden mean—the idea that extremes found on either side of a good, normal thing can become problematic. A classic example: movies. Watch too few and your favorite director is Michael Bay. Watch too many, and you start speaking in Lynchian non-sequiturs, becoming very hard to talk to at parties. Just the right amount of well-curated movies, though, and you’ve got a few good references in your back pocket when you need them without being smug about it.

So if we take this model and apply it to the digestive tract and its possible and inherent woes (where one extreme would be an excess of production and the other extreme a total lack), I didn’t end up the perfect mean. More like my gut was left to wander between these two unhappy lands in a bloated, rumbling purgatory.

That is, until probiotics.

It started with pills—a gateway drug. The first ones I saw were advertised in-between Maury episodes—Culturelle (which would be a great name for a young women’s magazine) and that yogurt Jamie Lee Curtis likes. They’re the probiotic options you can get in any grocery store.

Then you progress to the more health-foody ones you can only get in a store that smells like wheatgrass pulp and dirt. The really good kinds are the ones kept behind the cashier’s counter in their own little cheese cave/mini fridge. And please don’t try to tell me they drove here from Mexico in a 125-degree semi truck—I really don’t need to hear that.

The probiotic mainlining doesn’t stop there. Now, as you know, I make my own kombucha, and I also make my own sauerkraut. I made kimchi once so acidic my tongue was numb. Anything that’s fermented, I’m into. That includes sourdough bread (although that’s not really helpful).

Of course, as with all the comforting developing sciences and their devices, actual research is split on the issue of exactly how much probiotic you should use. There’s a new faction that whole-heartedly believes in the efficacy of them, going back to a kind of microbial atomism—that we’re all just walking appellations of these tiny atomic lives, our bodies just a hive of their current activity. This isn’t just me talking—this is The New Yorker, too.

Sure, probiotics have helped me, but they’re not the only variable in my equation—I’ve changed up my diet, stress levels, and sleep patterns, too. How much of my current abdominal success could I ascribe to probiotics? I spoke with Dr. Lisa Ganjhu, gastroenterologist and clinical associate professor of medicine at NYU’S Langone Medical Center, for a more official take than mid-afternoon commercials.

First, the basics: “We all have our own thumbprint of microbiomes, and everyone’s microbiome in their gut is subtly different,” she said. Probiotics work “by realigning the digestive tract’s bacteria to help with digestion and to break down food. It’s another army to help extract nutrients and digest food,” Dr. Ganjhu added. They may be the first army to actually be greeted as liberators.

Of course, once you feel more in control of your body (as I did with probiotics), there’s always the chance that the power might go to your head (as well as your gut). Once I started getting a good GI thing going, I started overanalyzing—the thought always, “Wait, am I still doing OK?” I was desperate to maintain how great I was feeling. If there is one, this seems to be the only dark side of probiotics.

I mentioned this to Dr. Ganjhu in what I thought was just a small aside. Turns out, mental health and instability is as major a component in GI troubles as food intolerance. She introduced me to the term “mind-gut axis,” which sounded very namaste-and-crystals to me at first, but it made sense the more she spoke. “If you’re going to keep focusing on your digestive tract—every little gurgle and burble, wondering if that’s a problem,” Dr Ganjhu explained, “that anxiety just provokes more GI hormones, which causes more anxiety and more GI symptoms, and the whole thing just keeps feeding on itself,” which is not what that mercenary army of flora is there to do. “I tell people who are gut-sensitive and who have that mind-gut axis to re-channel their energy away from their digestive tract because they’re not supposed to be focused on that.” So it turns out that the benefits of probiotics aren’t all in my head—but possibly the causes of all my gastrointestinal problems are.

Also worth noting: If you feel like you’re doing fine, you are. Keep moving, nothing to see here in this probiotic mini-fridge. “Not everyone needs probiotics. If you’re happy, healthy, not bloated, feel great, there is absolutely no need to take a probiotic.” Dr. Ganjhu said. “You only take an additional probiotic because you’re not feeling well—that usually means your microbiome is just off” due to certain foods, alcohol, stresses, antibiotics, or travel. Probiotics are not a permanent cure, and they’re not the only component necessary for a happy GI—water, fiber, and healthy food and thoughts are important, too. I’ve tried going without probiotics, but I’m much happier with them. It’s been several years and probably too much money, but the peace of mind (and gut) is worth it. Just ask Jamie Lee.

—Trace Barnhill

Image via Getty.

Probiotics for your face exist, too. Read about what probiotic skincare can do for your skin.

The post Probiotics: Go With Your Gut appeared first on Into The Gloss.

Don’t You Wish Estée Lauder Packaging Still Looked Like This?

Of all of the K-holes to fall into on the internet, vintage makeup is probably the most dignified. It’s a door to all the glamour and exclusivity you feel is missing from your life at the moment (although a Saks card can bring all of that back real fast). Estée Lauder’s work in the 1940s is the tip and most beautiful point of this iceberg. The ads speak to a worldly woman in an era where air travel was reserved mostly for the birds. The packaging is stately. It could be holding healing waters, virgin tears, or whatever it is we used to use to keep our skin supple and young. (Now, it’s things like resveratrol.) If only it still looked like this! Petition to bring it back, anyone? Let us know where to sign.

Images courtesy of Estée Lauder.

See all of ITG’s favorite picks in packaging right here.

The post Don’t You Wish Estée Lauder Packaging Still Looked Like This? appeared first on Into The Gloss.

A Farewell To Microbeads?

This past Monday, December 7, the House of Representatives passed the “Microbead Free Waters Act,” which prohibits the sale of products that include microbeads in their formula. Now the bill heads to the Senate where, if approved, it will effectively ban microbeads in the United States as soon as July 2017.

ITG tackled the topic of microbeads back in August—what might the ban mean for you, your products, and the environment? Read on below:

When microbeads were first invented, they were a cosmetic dream. The small, smooth beads were cheap to manufacture, and they offered the kind of soft exfoliation that’s hard to come by without spending a fortune. In terms of your skin, the perfectly spherical plastic balls are gentler than scrubs with ingredients like walnut shells in them, which can irritate the skin and cause tiny microabrasions. But in terms of the environment, they’re even worse than those plastic six-pack rings that everyone knows can strangle dolphins to death.

Microbeads became a national issue a few years ago, when Mother JonesThe New York Times, and others reported on their environmental damages. The problem with the beads is their material: They’re made of non-biodegradable plastic. And when they get washed down the drain after your weekly scrub, they end up dumped in local rivers and lakes. This is sort of like dumping a million plastic water bottles into the water—except it’s actually worse. Because unlike water bottles, microbeads are small enough that fish can swallow them. The plastic is toxic for the fish that are eventually eaten by other aquatic species and humans, who in turn are poisoned by the microbeads. Eventually, we all die from ingesting too much plastic. Wonderful.

Take a look in your bathroom right now, and you’ll probably find them: Microbeads are in everything—from face wash to body scrub to moisturizer to toothpaste (the kinds of products that people use on a daily basis). That means they get flushed down the sink in massive quantities where they end up polluting local water sources. So many microbeads are flushed down sinks in New York, according to state officials, that it has overwhelmed the state’s water-treatment plants. The plastic beads also make up a large part of the pollution in the Great Lakes, which means we’re slowly poisoning the world’s largest source of fresh water.

Washington, Oregon, Ohio, and Hawaii are considering legislation to phase out microbeads. CaliforniaMinnesotaConnecticut, Maine, Colorado, Indiana, MarylandIllinois, New Jersey, and Wisconsin have passed legislation that prohibits the sale and manufacturing of microbeads. Congress is currently working to mandate “microbead-free waters” nationwide, following in the footsteps of the Netherlands, where they plan to eliminate microbeads in Dutch cosmetics by 2016. [ed note: the Microbead Free Waters Act has passed the House of Representatives and now faces a vote in the Senate.]

There have been changes within the industry, too: Lush removed all microbeads from their products last summer and recently started a social media campaign encouraging others to #BantheBead. Bigger companies—including Procter & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson, L’Oréal, and Unilever—followed suit in starting to phase out the beads from their products (Unilever’s Dove already removed microbeads from its soaps earlier this year).

Other cosmetic companies have tried to come up with synthetic biodegradable alternatives, but experts warn that, without adequate testing, we don’t know if these beads will disrupt the marine ecosystem in other ways. After all, everything is biodegradable eventually—but if the microbead alternatives can’t biodegrade within a reasonable amount of time, then what’s the point?

There are already so many natural exfoliants worth springing for in lieu of microbeads like Arcona’s Cranberry Gommage, which uses jojoba beads, or Lush’s lovely, limited-edition Life’s A Beach Body Scrub, which goes au naturel with sea salt and sand. There are also great nonabrasive exfoliants like Dermalogica’s Gentle Cream Exfoliant and AmorePacific’s Treatment Enzyme Peel, both of which use acids and natural fruit enzymes to slough off dead skin. You’ll still glow, I promise—and you’ll also save the planet along the way.

—Arielle Pardes

Photographed by Tom Newton.

Good for the earth and your skin, 32 all-natural skincare products to considerRead more from Water Week here.

The post A Farewell To Microbeads? appeared first on Into The Gloss.

What To Do With $20 At The Drugstore

Drugstore purchases can go one of two ways: impulsive and fanciful or the most trustworthy of standby products. Both are valid, and both can tell a lot about a person. “Oh, I see you picked up a $2 glitter nail polish—how adventurous and simultaneously risk-averse of you!” So, in keeping with the “get to know a person through their products” theme of this whole site, we’d like to introduce you to ITG’s new Senior Editor, Jen Steele, through her most essential drugstore recommendations. Take it away, Jen: 

OK, here’s the scenario I have in mind each time I approach drugstore shopping: You’ve got $20 and change on your person and you need to replenish all the critical aspects of your bathroom. Now, it’s not that I don’t want to spend more—I just enjoy the challenge of maintaining a thoughtful budget and also getting strategic with what I need in my cosmetics bag. In other words, I aim to be resourceful. So you walk into Duane Reade and the pressure is on—and let me tell you, I’m great at this kind of thing. Here’s how it shakes out:

1. Maybelline Great Lash Mascara: $5.49
I’ll never forget when makeup artist Troy Surratt told me that Great Lash Mascara was his one and only, the product he trusted most and always used. I think he’s right—the wand and formula provide clean and defined lashes and for the price…sold.

2. Aquaphor Healing Ointment: $2.99
Years ago, model Taylor Warren turned me on to the benefits on Aquaphor. I started using it on my lips, cheekbones, temples, and under my eyes…it feels hydrating and protective. This tub container is also ideal for travel and fits into pockets and purses of most sizes.

3. Johnson’s Baby Oil: $4.99
Alright, this one’s a stretch but hear me out. Baby skin does well with this mild and gentle oil, and your skin will, too. Summertime bare legs and arms, a little sheen—baby oil does the trick, and its hydrating effects last.

4. Johnson’s Baby Powder: $1.99
My best-kept beauty secret: baby powder. I’ve used it in my hair to sop up excess oil when testing the how-long-can-I-last-with-unwashed-hair look. I’ve used it sparingly to mattify makeup like lipstick and cream blushes. I’ve also, in a pinch, used it as deodorant. You can slip baby powder in your shoes, too, if your feet swell up.

5. Gillette Sensor2 Plus Disposable Razors, travel pack: $2
I don’t use women’s razors. I find them to be too expensive and too flashy. A men’s single or double-blade razor is as clean a shave for your legs as any other hot pink number.

6. Lubriderm Daily Moisture Lotion For Normal To Dry Skin: $5.49
I’ve tried every drugstore body lotion, and I’ve also read up on everyone else’s point of view regarding what is best. When it comes down to it, in my opinion, Lubriderm sets the standard. Opting fragrance-free is also important. Keep it simple.

OK, I went over a bit: $22.95 in total (but close enough.) After laying it all out, I also noticed each of the products fell into the iconic packaging realm. I’m definitely attracted to vintage aesthetics but not entirely swayed by design (what’s inside is important, too). Each product feels tried and true, and that’s what makes (and keeps) them trustworthy. So if there’s a lesson here, it’s respect the standards. They’re still here for a reason.

—Jen Steele

Photographed by Tom Newton.

For more drugstore roundups, check out the best Duane Reade, CVS, and co.  have to offer in concealers, mascaras, and foundations.

The post What To Do With $20 At The Drugstore appeared first on Into The Gloss.

My Manicure, Myself

A friend of mine likes to tell the story of how, while working as an assistant at The New York Review of Books, he met the writer Janet Malcolm. Like all great anecdotes, it can be appreciated only by a particular audience, to the extent that it is appreciated at all. It goes like this: Malcolm walked into the office of the Review. It was late March; he was on Gchat.

“Hello, I’m Janet Malcolm,” said Janet Malcolm.

He looked up.

“Yes,” he said. My friend stood up from behind his desk. Malcolm removed her scarf, folded it, and placed it carefully in her bag.

He reckons they stood staring at one another like this for some time.

And that’s his story of meeting Janet Malcolm. It seems likely that his helplessness inspired genuine pity. He was at a loss. It is possible she realized, even before he did, that he had in fact played his entire hand. She moved on long before he might have been able to redeem himself. (He does not remember any details about the scarf.)

It’s a funny joke. Not funny ha-ha certainly, but a warm and fuzzy story that perfectly encapsulates what it’s like to meet a niche “celebrity” one admires in New York. It’s heartening to know that despite not being a physically imposing or impatient person, Janet Malcolm cannot help but be at all times Janet Malcolm: a natural-born reporter who feels no need to fill the air. A real cool customer she is!

Since I do not have the credentials nor personality to support quite so freestanding a personality as an American celebrity, I have done what I could to approximate it by adopting the logical shortcut: a unique, but ultimately flattering, uniform that offsets somewhat less controllable mannerisms. I occupy myself, however superficially at times, as best as I know how. Which is to say not very well, as I’ve not yet settled on a clothing style that suits either my environment or my body, nor am I known for having a particularly measured social presence.

What I have found, though, are some props that have carried me through time and space: my Blackberry, brown leather Chloé bag, black turtlenecks in the winter, high-waisted Acne jeans, a silver Bedat & Co. watch from my friend Helena’s mother, a dogged refusal to move out of Manhattan, an improvisational verbal patter, and…my nails—which I change constantly, usually in the first gesture toward whatever facet of my persona most needs highlighting.

Manicured nails are not unlike tattoos, albeit temporary. They’re either tasteful, tacky, or innocuous. My mother, more often than not, hates my manicure. People labor over their application, or they don’t. You really never know who’s going to sport them! I had a roommate in Chinatown who starched her jeans, wore high-waisted, pleated-linen shorts all summer, did the dishes with gloves, and started every day with a cup of coffee and a to-do list written in cursive. No curveballs here! Or so I thought. Instead of an engagement ring, she got a tattoo of her fiancé’s initials on her upper arm “for fun.” She didn’t do her nails for fear of “chemicals.” (One imagines Janet Malcolm does not do her nails because it is a waste of time.)

Like my most heavily tattooed friend, I believe nails are addictive. I’ve gotten more and more elaborate variations—from shellac to gel to gel tips to gel tips with art—from more and more skilled technicians at an ever increasing cost. A quick perusal of Instagram from the last six months reveals my varying degrees of employment, reading habits, and special events. Working as a glorified secretary for an aging society woman, I tended toward short, square nails of the “bridesmaid” variety, in the dull, matte coral pink of the Williamsburg bridge or pretty Ballet Slippers. I opted for hot pink the month an old n+1 editor of mine emailed me that much-coveted PDF of Eve’s Hollywood (the coat was fresh when a friend left a copy of Spy magazine at my house after a party); I reread Jane Bowles’ Two Serious Ladies while wearing the red polish that is modeled on the cover. I celebrated quitting said job last month by donning the longest gel tips in gray. I called it my “pavement” look, since I’ll do nothing but walk the streets of New York from now on! When my friend Rachel lent me a gown with large, golden, little-girl puffy sleeves for a ball, I took pictures and carefully matched the shade.

Of course, it’s impossible to look at these photos and not think of the women who—while I perfected my “manicure resting face”—entertained me. There was Sarah, the part-time astrologist from Long Island, who fired me after insisting I get my birth chart done because she “can’t trust a double Gemini.” Melissa, from the 24-hour nail salon near my old freelance cubicle at Departures, who talked mostly about how her large dog and even larger boyfriend no longer fit in her apartment, gave me my first ever gel tips. I found out later she was removing them illegally, but who can forget the time she convinced me to get “tan mom nails”: square extensions the color of a sepia latte. Or Michelle, from next door to my favorite deli on the Lower East Side, who would fit me in between appointments (as long as I came in having removed the last polish myself), giving me a quick coat for $5 a pop, which I changed every three days in 2013.

I type this with manicure-free nails. A gesture I made recently (cough, last week) toward some financial solvency as an unemployed (freelance!) writer. I like that—unlike my clothes, my address, or my iCal—my nails always readily reflect exactly the state I’m in.

—Kaitlin Phillips

Kaitlin Phillips is a writer living—unfashionably East!—in Manhattan. She likes taking her Blackberry on long walks. She has never figured out how to put on eyeliner and feels really left out as a result. 

Photo courtesy of the author. 

The cheapest way to stop biting your nails brought to you by your old pal Sally Hansen.

The post My Manicure, Myself appeared first on Into The Gloss.