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An Esthi and a Derm Explain Ceramides and Why You Need Them STAT

There are a few ingredients that you probably see used over and over again in every cult-favorite skincare product: hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, retinol, and vitamin C are just a few. But another one you’ll probably encounter frequently is ceramides. But what are ceramides exactly?

If you’re someone who is constantly battling dry skin or you have chronic skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis, chances are you could use some ceramides in your routine. I have struggled with eczema breakouts since college, and ceramide-packed skincare products are always on rotation in my routine to help calm down my inflammation and dryness. 

Ahead, we asked Vanessa Lee, RN, skincare expert and the founder of The Things We Do, and board-certified dermatologist, Dr. Corey L. Hartman, founder of Skin Wellness Dermatology to break down what ceramides are, why your body and skin need them, and how to incorporate them into your routine. 

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First up, what are ceramides?

According to Lee and Hartman, Ceramides are lipids also known as long-chain fatty acids that link with other important molecules to promote cellular function. In fact, ceramides make up to 50% of the skin composition to form the natural skin barrier and help to prevent permeability—this locks moisture into your skin, which helps prevent dryness and irritation.

Additionally, ceramides—even more than retinol, niacinamide, and peptides—are one of the anti-aging “powerhouses” responsible for supporting skin’s dynamic nature. Two particular Ceramide precursors—phytosphingosine and sphingolipids—actually help skin make more ceramides. They’re often described as the body’s natural moisturizer to prevent dehydration. They also act as a natural antioxidant, protecting the skin from environmental aggressors like pollution and dry air.

Ceramides are essentially the glue that holds our skin cells together to keep our skin barrier intact and healthy.

A healthy skin barrier helps seal in moisture and seal out impurities, keeping your skin looking and feeling hydrated, youthful, and supple.

What are the benefits of ceramides?

As the skin’s natural moisturizer, Hartman explains that ceramides aid in preserving the skin by creating a protective layer that helps prevent the loss of moisture and shields the skin from environmental aggressors. They play an essential role in keeping dryness, dehydration, and premature signs of aging at bay. Hartman adds: “Ceramides act as linkers between epidermal skin cells—like the cement between bricks in a wall—to help seal up the skin barrier, to protect the deeper layers, and to prevent moisture loss.”

How do they stack up against other ingredients like it?

Ceramides are superior to similar ingredients because they are a natural component of a healthy skin barrier.

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What are the benefits of topical ceramides?

Well-formulated (and properly packaged) skincare products containing ceramides will help reinforce your skin’s barrier and increase hydration, giving you plumper, smoother, firmer-feeling skin with fewer visible lines and wrinkles, as well as fewer signs of sensitivity. Lee notes that one of the best parts of the ingredient is that it’s compatible with all skin types—that is, every skin type needs and wants ceramides, so you don’t have to worry about topical Ceramide-laden products sensitizing your skin. 

Why do you need beauty products that contain ceramides?

Age and sun damage reduce the effectiveness of your skin’s natural ceramides and can eventually deplete them, which weakens your skin’s barrier. The results are drier, rougher skin, wrinkles, irritation, redness, and visible signs of dehydration. As your ceramide levels naturally decrease, you can replenish them with topical skincare products.

What happens when you don’t have enough?

When your skin is lacking ceramides, the barrier gets compromised and you’ll experience dryness and irritation. Studies show that low ceramide levels could be the leading cause of dry skin conditions like eczema. When your skin lacks the right ratio of ceramides, the barrier doesn’t perform the way it’s supposed to and your skin’s health goes haywire.

Who should use them?

Hartman believes everyone should use ceramides, but especially those with dry skin, eczema, or a compromised skin barrier. They should be used in daily moisturizers that are applied after a bath or shower to lock in the moisture.

Below, Hartman shares his top products with ceramides…

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Mario Badescu AHA & Ceramide Moisturizer 

Ideal for those with sensitive, dry skin. The nourishing formula won’t leave a greasy feeling nor will it clog pores making it an ideal product for even those with acne breakouts.

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Paula’s Choice Clinical Ceramide-Enriched Firming Moisturizer

This product contains vitamin C, retinol, and ceramides and provides 75% of the ingredients that I deem important to a comprehensive, preventative skincare regimen.

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Skinceuticals Triple Lipid Restore 

This is a cult favorite that combines ceramides, free fatty acids, and cholesterol to hydrate damaged, dry skin and provide an instant plumping effect to mature skin that tends to suffer sagging.

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Cerave Moisturizing Cream

An affordable staple that should be a part of any dry skincare regimen for the body. It provides the hydration and protection of a thick emollient without the mess. In fact, the finish is quite elegant.

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First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream

This product combines ceramides, colloidal oatmeal, and shea butter to protect, nourish and hydrate even the driest, most sensitive skin. It is ideal for severely dehydrated skin.

Now, some of my personal tried-and-tested favorites…

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Dr. Jart+ Ceramidin Liquid

If your skin is on the drier side and you’re looking for a way to incorporate more moisture into your routine, try out this ceramide-packed hydrating liquid. This toner is a staple in my nighttime routine because it falls somewhere between an essence and a serum, giving my skin a supple bouncy glow. It also contains fig, Centella Asiatica, and Phyto extracts to help treat dry and flaky skin whenever I’m experiencing an eczema breakout. 

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The Inkey List Ceramide Hydrating Night Treatment

You don’t have to spend an arm and a leg on a treatment serum that actually works. This hydrating booster serum combines ceramides with hyaluronic acid to really infuse your skin with moisture overnight. It has a lightweight texture that layers well with the rest of your products—though truthfully, you might not need any other serums besides this one. 

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Drunk Elephant Lala Retro Whipped Moisturizer With Ceramides

The reformulation of this cult-favorite moisturizer only made it better thanks to the new inclusion of ceramides. This thick, whipped formula is deeply hydrating and packed with hydrating ingredients like African oils and plant-derived lipids. This serves as an ultra-nourishing last step in your evening skincare routine to really seal in hydration so you wake up with glowy, dewy skin. 

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CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser for Normal to Dry Skin

As you probably know, CeraVe gets its name from the fact that all of its products are formulated with a high concentration of ceramides. So naturally, I love anything and everything they come out with—including this cleanser. It’s the perfect go-to for daily use or whenever your skin is feeling a little sensitive. Plus, you really can’t beat the price point for how much product you get. 

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Youth To The People Dream Eye Cream With Vitamin C and Ceramides

If your under eyes are looking a little dull and sallow, try out this brightening eye cream from Youth to the People. Like The Inkey List’s serum, this cream combines hyaluronic acid and ceramides to plumpen the area around your eyes. It also contains vitamin C to brighten and firm the skin, as well as goji stem cells to help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. 

Now that you know the benefits of ceramides, you can invest in products that will help keep your skin hydrated, fresh, and glowy. It’s a powerful ingredient that you’ll be using in your routine for many years to come. 

Originally found on Camille Styles Read More




“I’ve Had to Work Hard for What I Have”—Shani Van Breukelen Is Redefining Success on Her Own Terms

How do you spend the first five minutes of your day? There’s no better time than the morning to ground yourself and prepare your body and mind to set the tone for the day ahead. And since we only have about 25,000 mornings in our adult life, it’s time we made them count. In our Wake Up Call series, we take a look inside the morning routines of people we admire to inspire our own AM rituals and put our best foot forward. Up next, AYOND’s co-founder and creative director, Shani Van Breukelen’s morning routine.

“Nothing has felt like an ‘ah-ha’ moment—I’ve had to work hard for what I have.”

In a world that seems to praise unicorn startups and 30 under 30 lists, it’s refreshing to meet a founder who is rejecting the status quo and doing things on her own terms. Creative director, Shani Van Breukelen, along with her partner and fellow co-founder, Porter Yates, is seriously breaking the mold with their game-changing skincare line, AYOND. Inspired by the beautiful yet resilient plants that thrive in Santa Fe’s extreme desert conditions, the couple set about bottling their magical medicinal qualities and transformative scents into a skincare line—and it’s safe to say, they nailed it.

In my line of work, it’s safe to say I’ve tried hundreds of beauty brands and products so I had high expectations when I tried their Metamorph Cleansing Balm. Let me tell you, it was nothing short of an invigorating sensory overload. The unique balm-to-milk salve quenches your face’s thirst like a desert monsoon while also dissolving any dirt and debris—it’s basically a refreshing downpour in a bottle. But this innovation doesn’t stop at ingredients and formula. Their conscious approach spans across their manufacturing and packaging too, prioritizing eco-friendly, recyclable, or reusable materials that minimize post-consumer waste. Brands like AYOND might be small, but they’re having a big impact on the industry as they pave the way for the future.

We were so inspired by the brand’s mantra and mission that we reached out to share more of their inspiring story. Van Breukelen graciously invited us into their stunning NYC apartment to give us the lowdown on her morning routine, tips for success, and life advice. Prepare to be inspired.

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On a typical day…

A typical day for me looks like a lot of time on my computer working, taking calls, good coffee breaks with my boyfriend, Porter, and playtime with my dog, Linx.

On her wake-up call time…

Anywhere from 6:30-7 am. I try to get eight hours of sleep every night, but that doesn’t always happen.

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On the first thing she does when she wakes up…

I like getting up early because I have time to myself. Usually, my dog Linx likes to get up around 7:30 to 8 am so if she is willing to get up with me the first thing I do is let her out in the backyard. Then I will take her back upstairs and continue with my routine. This is varied as sometimes I may stretch and workout or spend extra time doing my skincare routine. I am not too structured in the morning as I like to listen to how I feel and do any one of these things before getting into work. 

On her workout routine…

During lockdown, workout sessions became more intense and essential. I am not really a yoga person but I love good cardio. The right music is the most important step for me as it gets me motivated. Once I have that selected I can continue my pre-workout routine by stretching with some yoga moves, vagus nerve work, and then I start to go into my squat routine, elliptical, and weights. If it’s nice out, I like to run the Prospect Park perimeter. 

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On how her morning routine changed in quarantine…

Both 2020 and 2021 have been such challenging years personally and professionally that I found exercise to be critical to keeping myself feeling positive or letting go of frustration due to the state of the world. I also dedicated more time to speak with family in the morning, especially my twin sister who lives in Stockholm. My skincare routine changed a bit too. Previously, I used Metamorph Cleansing Balm at night as a gua sha slip but, I realized that with the added stress and monotony of lockdown, I started to use it as a gua sha massage in the morning—it helped to gently wake me up and ease any stress I may be feeling.

On her morning beauty routine from start to finish…

I begin with a gentle hand massage using our Metamorph Cleansing Balm. Once this is evenly applied, I start to gently massage the contours of my face using a gua sha tool. The areas I spend the most energy on are between my eyebrows, cheekbones, and neck. Once the massage is complete I like to let the cleansing balm sit for a bit and then work it in with warm water, letting the balm transform into milk, then using a damp washcloth to remove.  

After this step, I will press cold water onto my face to fully wake me up.  I really enjoy how calming the cold water feels. Lately, I have been testing a toner that I made but before this, I would use Heritage Store Rosewater Toner

Once my skin is almost dry, I will use three to six drops of Rock Rose Face Serum. This serum has one of the most unique scents. When it’s applied to my face I like to take deep breaths into the palms of my hands before applying. I use this generously on my face and neck.

After the serum has fully absorbed, I continue with about a dime’s worth of Taos Blue Day Cream. This cream is extremely easy to layer with other products and the scent always reminds me of the desert. Sometimes when the weather is extremely dry, I will add a few drops of the Amber Elix Face Oil to this cream before applying (if it is a humid day, I will omit the day cream and follow up with Supergoop SPF and Amber Elix Face Oil). 

If I’m going outside I will add a small amount of mineral sunscreen (Supergoop) after the Taos Blue Day Cream. While I wait for the cream to fully absorb on my face, I will take a couple of drops of Amber Elix Face Oil and start by rubbing the oil onto my neck and décolleté. Using more drops if needed, I will gently press the face oil onto the highest points of my cheekbones, gently rub around the eyes, the middle of my brow, and spot treat any scarring I may have. This face oil is fantastic for any scarring old or new and it has a beautiful slightly spicy and uplifting scent which makes it perfect for the last step of my routine. Any leftover oil on my hands I will use on the end of my hair to make sure nothing is wasted. 

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On her breakfast meal…

I practice intermittent fasting so I do not eat breakfast in the morning. I will have water with vitamin tablets, take L-Serine Powder or Whole Foods L-Theanine pill supplements, and I have a coffee or tea. 

On her morning media rituals…

The first thing I open is BBC News or NPR and check Ayond’s Instagram. Then I usually pop on a podcast while I check emails. 

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On her favorite books…

I enjoy different types of books for different reasons. At the moment, I am reading The Other Slavery: The Uncovered Story of Indian Enslavement in America by Andrés Reséndez and an aesthetician’s book on skincare. 

On what she always has on her nightstand…

Slip Eye Mask or Simply Organic Sleep Mask, ear plugs, water, and my phone. Before I sleep I like to play sudoku on my phone. 

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On her favorite getting-ready soundtrack…

In the AM, it’s usually The Daily podcast. Any other time I like to select an artist and play similar music shuffled. An artist I have been listening to lately is Kokoroko.

On her morning workout…

Since I run a small business and wear a lot of hats I can’t dedicate too much time to working out in the morning but I do a light workout of 30 minutes most days. On the weekends I like to work out in the afternoon instead of the morning and train for about an hour or more. 

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On her daily uniform…

I like to keep things simple—a bit of jewelry, Toteme jeans or VINCE jeans for those loose-fit days, and probably a black top. During lockdown, I just preferred loose-fitting jeans but kept everything else the same. 

If she had one extra hour every morning…

I would spend more time working out or talking to my twin sister on the phone.

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On what she does to live a more present, mindful, and joyful life…

Taking a moment to spend time outside and speaking with loved ones. The outdoors is the best way for me to clear my thoughts and speaking with my family and friends always makes me feel better and happy. 

On her secret to success…

I don’t think I have had that moment, things have progressed based on present choices and perseverance—nothing has felt like an “ah-ha” moment and I have had to work hard for what I have. 

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Sentence Finishers:

I never leave the house without… keys and my phone.

If there were more hours in the day, I would... travel more.

Healthiest morning habit… skincare and water!

Worst morning habit… Some would say Intermittent fasting, but I like my morning routine.

The one thing I fear the most is… missed opportunity.

When I feel that fear, I… think about doing what I can with what I have.

The book I always recommend is… The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin.

The 3 traits you need to succeed in life are… letting go, resilience, and perseverance.

Bath or shower? And what’s your favorite shower/bath product? Shower and Rahua Shampoo + Conditioner

When I’m creatively blocked, I… go for a run or walk with my dog. 

My hidden talent is… quickly picking up a language.

The best advice I’ve ever received is… do what you can with what you have.

The biggest sacrifice I’ve made for my career is… changing paths from fashion to skincare.

Originally found on Camille Styles Read More




What’s in Season in August (and Exactly How to Eat It)

As I write this, I’m savoring every last bite of a perfectly juicy watermelon that I combined with mint and feta for perhaps the simplest salad ever. This time of year in Texas, melons are out of this world, so it feels like a fitting way to set the scene for an article about eating with the seasons. I find that heading to the market knowing exactly what is in season in August makes for the perfect shopping experience.

In the past, I never understood the point of obsessing over seasonal produce. Let’s be honest: given the global reach of most grocery stores, you can find almost any common fruit or vegetable at any time of the year these days. Squash, tomatoes, berries, citrus, and asparagus… the list goes on. And, if what you’re searching for isn’t in the produce section, chances are you can find a high-quality frozen option.

But, as it turns out, there are actual health benefits to eating seasonally, not to mention it also tastes better at its designated time of year. Now that I know what fruit is in season in August, not only am I enjoying perfectly delicious locally-grown ingredients, but I get such a kick out of going to my local farmers market and picking out the freshest seasonal produce.

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Benefits of Eating In-Season Produce

So why should you put forth the extra effort to eat seasonally? Well, there are a few reasons. But let’s start with the most straightforward one: produce tastes better when it’s in season. It’s as simple as that.

If you want incredibly flavorful food, you should start with produce that’s in season and not kept frozen as it travels across continents or hemispheres.

But there are a couple of other good reasons to focus on seasonally appropriate produce. When fruits and vegetables are in season, they’re able to fully ripen and develop in the sun without any unnatural assistance. That means more flavor and higher quality. And finally, it’s important to eat produce harvested in its prime because it retains more of its inherent nutritive value.

A Really Helpful Chart

Right now, we’re in the final month of summer. There are still a good number of typical summer foods in season, but we can also expect to see some foods typically associated with fall on the shelves.

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image by reader’s digest

What fruits and vegetables are in season in August?

Acorn squash
apples
apricots
blueberries
butternut squash
cantaloupe
corn
cucumbers
eggplant
figs
green beans
kiwi
kohlrabi
lettuce
mangoes
okra
peaches
peppers
plums
raspberries
strawberries
summers squash
swiss chard
tomatoes
watermelon
winter squash
zucchini

That said, it’s important to keep in mind that seasonal produce varies based on your location. For instance, tomatoes were at their prime for us in Austin at the end of June, but seem to be at their prime right now for more northern (and temperate) cities such as New York and Oregon.

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Recipes to Cook This Month

Okay, so it’s easy to know the right information, but it’s a whole different matter to actually put it into practice. So to give you a nudge, we’ve rounded up some of the tastiest recipes that use the prettiest fruits and veggies in season right now.

Scroll on, and we’d love to hear what seasonal recipes you’re cooking up this month.

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How to buy strawberries

A fresh strawberry has a strong fragrant taste and vibrant color. Look for the berries that are firm to touch, medium-sized, and free of bruises.

What to cook with strawberries

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Smoky Beet & Strawberry Salad With Gorgonzola

Why we love it: There’s nothing quite like this flavorful combination, it’s earthy, bright, and tangy—a total feast for the senses. It’s a restaurant-quality recipe we can’t get enough of.

Hero ingredient: Creamy goat cheese complements the rich flavors of this salad.

Get the recipe here.

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How to buy butternut squash

When it comes to finding what vegetables are in season in August, you might be surprised to see butternut squash on the list. Keep your eyes peeled for a squash that feels heavy for its size. You’ll want one with a fat neck and a small bulb since those yield the most meat.

What to cook with butternut squash

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Roasted Butternut Squash Stuffed With Goat Cheese, Figs, and Pesto

Why we love it: Not only is this recipe out of this world tasty, but it’s perfect for those of us who detest the physical labor of having to peel and chop butternut squash. It’s as beautiful as it is delicious and easy to make.

Hero ingredient: Another August ingredient—figs!

Get the recipe here.

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How to buy apricots

Ideally, we’d pick our apricots right off a tree. But in lieu of that, try to find plump, firm apricots with just a little softness to them. Avoid ones that are pale orange or yellow, they should have a deep orange-gold color.

What to cook with apricots

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Honey Roasted Apricots + Vanilla Bean Mascarpone, Pistachios & Coconut

Why we love it: You won’t regret turning on your oven for these fresh, warm apricots. Once the sugars caramelize it creates a deep sweetness that is juxtaposed perfectly with creamy vanilla bean mascarpone. They are so simple and beautifully highlight the best of summer produce.

Hero ingredient: Pistachios and toasted coconut give this treat a delicious nutty crunch.

Get the recipe here.

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How to buy eggplant

Be on the lookout for eggplants with smooth, shiny skin. Test for ripeness by pressing a finger lightly against the skin—if it leaves an imprint, the eggplant is ripe. Smaller eggplants tend to be sweeter, less bitter, have thinner skin, and have fewer seeds.

What to cook with eggplant

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Charred Caprese Eggplants

Why we love it: It’s the perfect alternative when you’re craving the delicious flavors of an eggplant parmesan but want to skip the carby filling. It also couldn’t be easier to make, just throw it on the grill and stuff with classic Caprese fillings.

Hero ingredient: Toasted pine nuts add a tasty bit of crunch.

Get the recipe here.

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How to buy mangoes

Surprisingly, color is not the best indicator of ripeness when it comes to picking a mango. You’ll want to gently squeeze the mango, and pick ones that have a slight give. They become softer as they ripen and sometimes have a fruity aroma at the stem.

What to cook with mangoes

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Mango & Coconut Soba Noodle Salad

Why we love it: If you’re craving Thai flavors like lime, peanuts, and herbs, then check out this glorious soba noodle salad. You can grill up a steak and toss it into the salad or keep it veggie and light and top with a creamy avocado for a hint of richness.

Hero ingredient: Crunchy coconut takes this salad over the top.

Get the recipe here.

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How to buy watermelon

When it comes to picking the perfect watermelon, its coloring helps to indicate how ripe it is. Pick a melon with a strong, consistent pattern. The green stripes should be a deep, dark green, and the pale stripes a ceamy, light yellow. You should also give it a bit of a thump. Tap the watermelon—if you hear a deep, hollow sound, then it indicates that it’s juicy and ripe.

What to cook with watermelon

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Watermelon Salad with Cucumber & Feta

Why we love it: It’s a refreshing, classic, ultra-summery salad that is perfect for those hot, long August evenings. The subtle taste of the cucumber and creaminess of the feta enhances the salad without overpowering these sweet, gentle flavors.

Hero ingredient: A shallot adds a bit of crunch, sharpness, and aroma.

Get the recipe here.

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How to buy figs

You’re going to want to give your figs a whiff. Ripe figs should smell fresh, not funky or fermented. Pick soft figs but avoid any squishy ones.

What to cook with figs

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Fig & Burrata Salad

Why we love it: This salad is perfection on a plate, if you ask me! Creamy burrata and sweet, lovely figs make for a simple, yet incredibly refined dish. Fresh mint adds a bit of herby brightness and ties the whole thing together. I’ll be eating this one on repeat!

Hero ingredient: Candied nuts add a bit of crunchy sweetness that can’t be beaten.

Get the recipe here.

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How to buy peaches

Give your peach a gentle squeeze, you’ll want to feel a bit of softness. Avoid peaches that are shriveled, and make sure to sniff it to ascertain that it has a pleasant, classically peachy scent.

What to cook with peaches

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Honey-Grilled Peaches With Ice Cream

Why we love it: It doesn’t get much easier (or more scrumptious) than these honey-grilled peaches and cream. Camille recommends buying them on the firmer side so they hold their shape and don’t fall apart when they hit the hot grates.

Hero ingredient: Give your peaches a sprinkle of flaky sea salt to really elevate the whole dish.

Get the recipe here.

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How to buy tomatoes

Look for a tomato that feels firm but with a slight give. It should be very aromatic near the stem and have a good hefty weight for its size. Make sure you avoid any tomatoes with blemishes, dark spots, or bruises.

What to cook with tomatoes

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Heirloom Tomato Tart

Why we love it: It doesn’t get much better than this pitch-perfect tart. It has a base combo of cream cheese and goat cheese, so it’s ultra-creamy and tangy. It highlights the sweet, sunny quality of the tomatoes beautifully, and makes for a delicious summer dish.

Hero ingredient: Everything Bagel seasoning gives it a little special something.

Get the recipe here.

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How to buy zucchini

Keep a watch for small, firm zucchini with bright green skin. The smaller the better since zucchini gets bitter as they grow larger.

What to cook with zucchini

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Lemony Pasta Carbonara With Peas & Zucchini

Why we love it: If you’re a carbonara lover, then you’ll definitely want to try this twist on the classic pasta dish. It’s a creamy dream that is packed full of veggies, texture, and flavor.

Hero ingredient: Frozen peas are Camille’s favorite shortcut veggie for pasta, they add color, nutrients, and kids love them.

Get the recipe here.

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How to buy blueberries

Assess your blueberries to ensure they’re even in size, smooth, dry, plump, and firm. A reddish tint could mean they aren’t fully ripe, so make sure they’re a deep purple or nearly black shade.

What to cook with blueberries

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Coconut, Banana & Blueberry Baked Oatmeal

Why we love it: There’s no better way to start off the morning than with some delicious oatmeal, and this baked reicpe is easy, healthy, and delicious. It’s basically a cross between bread pudding and banana bread—ideal!

Hero ingredient: Seeds and nuts help to give you tons of energy to power through the morning.

Get the recipe here.

This post was originally published on August 8, 2020, and has since been updated.

Originally found on Camille Styles Read More




Your Ultimate Guide to Honey and Its Healing Properties, Explained

I never thought much about honey growing up. It was always just there in our panty, sitting sweetly in its bear-shaped bottle. I had no concept of what it meant for honey to be “raw,” or the array of health and wellness benefits that went along with it. To be totally honest, I didn’t really even like honey. But just as my eyes were opened to the beauty of chardonnay when I finally tasted a decent one, dipping into locally made honey in its purest form completely leveled up both my taste and my wellness game.

Honey isn’t just a sweet substance that won’t leave you with a sugar hangover–it’s practically medicinal in its antibacterial, healing nature. It’s a complex, sensory treat that might even be able to cure your acne.

With my eyes finally opened to the wonders of pure, raw honey, I suddenly had a million questions about how to buy it, what to do with it, and how to support a creature that’s, frankly, in a bit of trouble. I tapped two experts, Maya Feller, a registered dietician and nutritionist, and Carla Marina Marchese, founder of the American Honey Tasting Society and co-author of The Honey Connoisseurto cover everything from honey skincare and reading labels to whether or not manuka honey is worth the price (spoiler: it totally is). And for a little extra sweetness, we rounded up some must-make honey recipes, so you can enjoy the good stuff in all its forms.

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Breaking Down Honey’s Natural Wellness Benefits For…

Gut Health

Honey is prebiotic which essentially feeds the good bacteria (or probiotics) in your gut. And a healthy, balanced gut is a happy gut.

Acne

Honey’s antibacterial, anti-inflammatory powers make it the perfect ingredient for a DIY face mask or facial cleanser. “Raw honey has been used for centuries as an aid in wound healing. The antimicrobial and antiseptic properties found in honey support the healing process,” Feller says.

Energy

Although honey is made of sugar, there’s a fairly even amount of glucose (which is already found in your body) and fructose (naturally found in fruit). Your body digests honey’s sugar combination far more slowly than refined white sugar, which helps you avoid a sugar crash. “And the thing is, when you really start tasting honey, sugar is only sweet,” Marchese says. “Honey has flavor—it’s sour, it’s bitter, it’s woody. It’s so much more complex.”

Allergies

For instant allergy relief, nothing does the trick quite like a teaspoon of honey. “It coats your throat. It’s like a hug for your throat. There’s not really any scientific on why it helps, but it feels really good,” Marchese says. “It doesn’t eliminate or cure anything, but there’s something about honey that really makes you feel better with allergies.”

General Antibacterial Needs

Now for a little science lesson: Marchese points to the chemical composition of honey (essentially sugar, water, and the healthy enzymes bees put into it) for its antibacterial powers. The better the honey quality, the more potent the benefits. “Honey is very acidic and has a low PH. If there are bacteria in your throat, and you coat your throat with honey, a certain amount of it will die,” Marchese says. “Honey is also supersaturated, and it soaks up a lot of the moisture from the air. If you put honey on a wound, it will suck up the water and suffocate any bacteria.”

How to Buy the Real, Raw Deal

The demand for honey far outweighs what’s currently able to be produced in the United States. (Marchese estimates that we’re only able to make about 1/3 of what we need.) To make up for this, a lot of honey is imported, which means a good deal of it is pasteurized—a heating process that can filter out the pollen and healthy enzymes.

The easiest way to find good-quality honey is to stop by a farmer’s market or visit a local beekeeper. That way you know it was bottled close to the source and has never been tampered with.

Read Your Labels

Much like greenwashing in skincare, using the words “raw” and “organic” on food labels is a deeply unregulated practice. The most beautiful, thoughtful-looking packaging sadly doesn’t always guarantee you’re getting the best sweet stuff. A good plan of action, as we mentioned above, is to check where your honey is made.

“The country of origin must be stated on the label. Ideally, you want it to be made in the U.S.,” Marchese says. “Even better: find honey made in a small town by a family or local beekeeper. That stuff is the best.”

Honey from more commercial brands may also be cut with other ingredients or synthetic sweeteners. Check to make sure the ingredient is simply “honey.”

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All About the Bottle

Ideally, honey would all be bottled in glass containers, but that can be expensive. And since so many U.S. beekeepers are hobbyists, investing in glass isn’t always an option.

“I know a lot of beekeepers are making really good honey, but they put it in plastic,” Marchese says. “You can buy great honey in plastic, but just don’t leave it in your pantry for over a year.”

Location, Location, Location

We know that checking where your honey was made is one of the best ways to ensure you’re getting the good stuff, but what location is bottling the best stuff? “I would go with Italy,” Marchese says. “People always comment on how wonderful the tomatoes, and the wine, or the bread is in Italy, and it’s because they take care of their environment. They take care of the soil and don’t spray banned chemicals. We have good honey here, but European countries like Italy, Spain, and France may have the best.”

Other Tips for Helping the Bees

Perhaps you don’t have time (or space, or fearlessness) to become an ethical beekeeper. Fair enough! How else you can help? “Support your local beekeepers. A lot of them do this as a hobby on the side because they genuinely like bees and want to help the environment,” Marchese says. “Supporting them rewards their general love of taking care of an animal.”

Honey Brands to Check Out

Now, you should be armed with the knowledge to shop for the good stuff wherever you are, but it’s always nice to have a nutritionist’s recommendation. In addition to honey she finds at her local farmers’ market, Feller recommends the following brands:
Wee Bee Naturally Raw Honey
Bee Flower & Sun Honey Co.
Y.S. Eco Bee Farms.

Is Manuka Honey All It’s Cracked Up to Be?

When I think of Manuka honey, I think of startling price points at Whole Foods and one of my favorite scenes from Broad City. But is it really worth it? “Manuka honey is very powerful honey—it really is medicine. It’s made from the nectar of a tea tree called Leptospermum. It’s great for people with ulcers,” Marchese says of honey’s antimicrobial properties. “Manuka is produced almost exclusively in New Zealand, and a bit in Australia. It’s very expensive because only a certain amount is produced.”

Like raw honey, some products labeled “manuka” aren’t always the real deal. (Sigh.) Check to see exactly where it was bottled (if it is real, it’s most likely from New Zealand).

Manuka honey is typically packaged in a dark container and can often be found crystalized evenly throughout. Homogenous crystallization is always a good sign that honey hasn’t been tampered with.

Must-Try Honey Recipes:

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Hot Honey from A Couple of Cooks

Reasons this recipe rules: “hot” means “spicy” and you can make it in one minute. Sold.

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Honey Nut Baked Oatmeal Cups From Life Made Sweeter

The versatile breakfast recipe includes gluten- and nut-free versions, but it’s the quick-and-easy nature that hooked us.

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Turmeric Honey Shot From Willamette Transplant

Want to dial the powers of honey all the way up? Add ground turmeric and a dose of apple cider vinegar for a quick wellness shot.

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Honey Cookies From Cupcake Project

If you prefer your cookies crisp on the outside and soft on the inside, these chewy confections courtesy of Cupcake Project will curb your honey cravings.

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Yogurt Salted Honey Pops From Not Entirely Average

Recommended to be made with full-fat Greek yogurt, these fresh frozen treats will help you level up your popsicle game this summer.

Originally found on Camille Styles Read More




It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere—The 20 Best Summer Cocktail Recipes to Sip On

Whether I’m poolside, beachside, or imagining that I am, refreshing summer cocktail recipes are my favorite way to beat the heat. Oftentimes, for me, drinking a cocktail is less about the alcohol and more about experimenting with unique flavor combinations and summer produce provides all the inspiration. Out here in California, the produce from my family’s backyard has been the foundation for so many summer cocktail recipes. Our lemon trees are in full bloom, so naturally, we’ve had lots of homemade lemon juice to play with. The kumquat plant is the most prolific plant in our yard, which inspired us to find a recipe for kumquat mojitos recently. Minus one mishap with our mint plant being mistaken for weeds and ripped out, our surroundings have encouraged us to make five o’clock happy hours unique. 

My Instagram DM chain with my mom is full of recipes that we’ve tried and loved, so it was easy to round up a list of the 20 best summer cocktail recipes on the internet. Read on to try some of our favorites or let them inspire your own creations, and comment below with what you’ve been drinking. 

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1. Aperol Spritz 

This is Camille’s official drink of summer, so it’s only fair that this is the first summer cocktail recipe on the list. “This light, bubbly cocktail with a pleasant hit of bitterness just feels like sunshine and adventure and takes me back to this perfect day we spent in Italy,” she says. “I’ve worked to finesse my own classic Aperol spritz recipe and IMHO, I’ve got it nailed.”

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2. Watermelon Margarita from Minimalist Baker

This three-ingredient summer cocktail recipe is restaurant-level good and amateur-level easy. It’s made with exactly what you’d think: blended watermelon, lime juice, and tequila. That’s it. So you have no excuse not to make this for your next summer happy hour. 

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3. Raspberry Lemon Frosé from Inherited Salt

I usually prefer drinks on the rocks instead of frozen, but sometimes it’s so hot only a cool glass of Frosé will do the trick. This specific Raspberry Lemon Frosé recipe is so simple to make and is sure to impress your guests. I like to add a few drops of stevia instead of simple syrup to give the cocktail just the right amount of sweetness. 

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4. Limoncello Gin Cocktail With Fresh Thyme from The Forked Spoon

This cocktail makes me miss Italy, where every meal is concluded with a sip of chilled Limoncello. Only four ingredients and ready in 5 minutes, serve this fresh summer drink at your next Italian night to transport all of your guests. 

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5. Honeyed Prosecco

This summer cocktail recipe is excerpted from Sheela Prakash’s cookbook, Mediterranean Every Day. “Multiply the honey, water, and lemon juice depending on how many you plan to serve,” says Prakash. “Combine the three ahead of time and, when needed, shake with ice, divide among glasses, and top off each glass with prosecco. It’s a drink that feels a little fancy yet is wildly fast to prepare.”

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6. Spicy Grapefruit Margarita

It’s the summer of the spicy marg. With exciting new tequilas (has anyone else tried 818?) and endless flavor combinations, this has been my go-to restaurant order, and now I can’t wait to make this recipe myself. 

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7. Blueberry Mint Bourbon Lemonade from What’s Gaby Cooking

While I’m admittedly not much of a bourbon drinker, this cocktail took me by surprise. It really accents the floral tones of the bourbon without being too overpowering. Plus, the final product of the blue/purple drink with the mint and blueberry garnish is simply picture perfect. 

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8. Cucumber Mint Vodka Cocktail from Whitney Bond

This cocktail is like an adult version of my childhood favorite Citrus 2 juice from Pressed Juicery. Using lemonade instead of simple syrup gives it the perfect kind of natural sweetness, making it ultra refreshing. 

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9. Strawberry and Peach Rosé Sangria from What’s Gaby Cooking

Nothing screams summer like Rosé Sangria. Especially when the recipe includes three of summer’s produce superstars: strawberries, peaches, and basil. Now is the perfect time to take advantage of the season and make this light, refreshing, and gorgeous summer cocktail. 

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10. Watermelon Limeade Cocktail from The Defined Dish

I couldn’t put my finger on what this cocktail reminded me of until I looked back at the recipe. The Defined Dish herself agrees that it has all the vibes of a watermelon Jolly Rancher in only the best ways. This is the perfect cocktail for a hot day by the pool… or just a regular day inside. 

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11. The Palm Springs Spritz 

The recipe features vodka and zesty pineapple juice (does anything taste more like a vacation?) topped off with crisp and fruity Prosecco. I could drink this refreshing spritz allll summer long. 

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12. Tito’s Colada from The Defined Dish

Call me crazy, but I’ve never been a huge Piña Colada girl until I tried it with vodka (extra props for this one using one of Austin’s best local businesses). This delicious and three-ingredient cocktail also has no added sweeteners, which your hangover will thank you for.

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13. Ginger Citrus Spritz 

This simple recipe is a perfect base for adding any combination of garnishes that you’d like. We kept this one fresh with clementines, blueberries, cucumber, and basil. Yum!

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14. Strawberry Lemon Mojitos from Short Girl Tall Order

Classic mojitos were my first venture into cocktails, so it’s only natural that a strawberry (my favorite food) twist on the drink makes this one of my favorite summer cocktail recipes. As I said, summer is the time to use up all that fresh fruit in creative ways, so don’t let a recipe box you in. Try this same recipe with any berries you have on hand, and I can guarantee it’ll be a crowd-pleaser. 

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15. Plum and Thyme Prosecco Smash from My Diary of Us

You’ll never settle for a basic mimosa after trying this Plum and Thyme Prosecco cocktail. My Diary of Us reinvents the overlooked plum by incorporating it into this delicious drink that I will now crave at every brunch. 

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16. Thai Basil and Kumquat Mojitos from Wanderings in My Kitchen

This Thai Basil and Kumquat twist make the classic mojito cocktail that much more refreshing, which I didn’t know was possible. Like I mentioned, we have a kumquat plant flourishing in our front yard, so when my mom came across this recipe on Pinterest, we both knew that it would become a summer staple. 

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17. Cucumber Cooler Cocktail from Minimalist Baker

If you’re looking for a refreshing cocktail with just a hint of sweetness, this is it. It feels fancy, yet is simple to prepare, and looks amazing in a glass. Next time I make this drink, I’d dying to try it with a light sugar rim. Plus, it shows off cucumbers in their prime season!  

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18. Blackberry Champagne Mule from Half Baked Harvest

This might be the summer brunch cocktail to end all summer brunch cocktails. With both ginger beer and champagne, it’s extra fizzy and extra delicious. If you don’t have blackberries or aren’t a fan, this recipe would be just as tasty with strawberries, raspberries, or blueberries, too.

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19. Spicy Serrano Pineapple Margarita from Half Baked Harvest

Oh, the things I would do to be sitting on a beach with one of these spicy serrano pineapple margaritas in my hand. Luckily, the flavor alone is enough to get my imagination going. It’s somehow spicy, sweet, and smokey all in one, and the Tajin rim really just makes my heart sing. 

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20. Espresso Martini from Preppy Kitchen

The espresso martini is being called “summer’s most divisive drink” over here at Camille Styles, but I know where I stand on this matter– I’m without a doubt on Team Espresso Martini. Not only do I love the coffee flavor, but after a long day in the sun, sometimes it’s the only thing that will keep me going through the night. I have yet to make one for myself, but this recipe emphasizes well-made espresso (I always confirm a restaurant uses real espresso before ordering) and gives you that perfect frothy finish. 

What should I try next? Drop your favorite summer cocktail recipes below.

Originally found on Camille Styles Read More




These Mini Ice Cream Cakes Are Perfect for Every Celebration, Big or Small

As the self-proclaimed ice cream lady in all my friends’ lives, it’s no surprise that when it comes to birthday cakes, I’m a fan of the frozen variety—especially in summer when the last thing I really want to do is turn on the oven and bake a cake. Having a handful of solid no-bake options in my arsenal makes celebrating every occasion that much more fun. Enter: mini ice cream cakes.

With my mom’s birthday coming up next month, I knew I wanted to create a fun recipe that was both festive and a nod to summertime. While I’m basically a sugar monster, she could go the rest of her life without ever eating dessert again. I know, blasphemy. It’s become a tradition for us to get a cake of some kind—sometimes homemade, sometimes from HEB—then for her to have one tiny bite after we sing happy birthday before my brother, dad, and I demolish the rest of it.

But because birthdays absolutely require cake, the idea of making mini cakes for her minimal sweet tooth felt like just the right move. After some flavor brainstorming and engineering consideration, I created these miniature ice cream cakes that are perfect for any and all celebrations you’re sharing this season.

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I’m all about shortcuts these days that save time without compromising on flavor. If I can use some pre-made ingredients and upgrade them a bit, I’m all in. For these ice cream cakes, I used store-bought pound cakes in two flavors; vanilla and chocolate, and two different flavors of ice cream; summer strawberry and my favorite vanilla ice cream.

To keep things from being too sweet, I used a generous helping of my favorite tangy jam from Ayako and Family and then topped everything off with some homemade chocolate magic shell complete with some chocolate shavings and fresh strawberries for an extra bite of summer flavor.

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So yes, technically this is a no-recipe recipe, but those are some of the best ones because they leave so much up to interpretation and customization!

Here are a few other flavor combinations I want to try:

Chocolate and Hazelnut: Use a brownie or chocolate cake base, double chocolate ice cream, layer with Nutella, top with magic shell, and chopped hazelnuts

Vanilla and Chocolate Orange: Use a pound cake base, vanilla ice cream, layer with orange marmalade and fresh orange zest, top with chocolate magic shell

Summer Fruits: Use a pound cake base, raspberry ice cream, strawberry ice cream, and cherry ice cream, top with whipped cream and fresh berries.

The combinations are endless!

To get clean and even layers, I highly recommend using ring molds. These will help you layer everything to the exact same size and thickness and get clean sides when you unmold them. If you don’t have ring molds, you can layer everything into a mason jar and eat straight from the jar for easy transportation!

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These cakes really couldn’t be easier and I can’t wait to make these for my mom to celebrate her summer birthday.  Even if you’re not making these for some big celebration, they are the perfect individual-sized treat packed with flavor.

If you eat them all yourself, I promise I won’t tell.

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Originally found on Camille Styles Read More




Skin Feeling Dry? A Dermatologist and Nutritionist Share Their Tips for Dewy, Hydrated Skin

Whether you suffer from dry skin or not, it’s always a good time to brush up on the myriad ways to keep it healthy and moisturized from the inside and out. It can be easy to forget that when it comes to hydrating your skin, it’s just as important to be mindful of what you put inside your body as the products you use topically. That’s why we tapped a nutritionist and a dermatologist to give us the full scoop on how to hydrate skin, regardless of age or skin type.

The changing of the seasons, genetics, diet, hormones, and the natural aging process all cause shifts in your skin’s needs. What worked last week, month, or year might not necessarily be what your skin needs today, and that’s okay!

Things like acne, redness, inflammation, dry skin, and more are all signs that your skin might not be hydrated enough, so it’s important to listen to the body’s cues and make a note of what it may currently need. One of the best things you can do is invest in self-care—take some time out for yourself to ensure everything is balanced, healthy, and functioning as it should.

To get further clarity, we spoke to Dr. Y. Claire Chang at Union Square Laser Dermatology and certified Integrative nutrition health coach, Edie Horstman about how to hydrate skin, and their thoughtful answers give a lot of clarity on what could potentially be a frustrating and confusing issue.

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What part does nutrition play in skin hydration?

There are numerous studies that have looked into how nutrition affects the skin—mainly in the form of wrinkles, dryness, and loss of elasticity. Horstman tells me vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, healthy fats, and protein all contribute to skin health and suppleness. In addition to drinking H20, water-rich foods like watermelon, tomatoes, cucumber, and strawberries also support skin hydration. While it’s not as pivotal as drinking water, these ingredients are also nutrient-rich and absolutely make a difference in upping your daily liquid intake.

So the question is, how much water should we be drinking for optimal skin hydration? While it varies from person to person, Horstman says you want to strive for at least eight glasses of water per day. But the most important thing to remember is that consistency is key. She notes that drinking eight glasses one day and then two the next isn’t going to necessarily affect your skin’s hydration. Additionally, what’s in your water matters. When possible, use a filtration system and try to steer clear of plastic water bottles.

Skin hydrating vitamins and minerals to add to your diet:

Biotin
Keratin
Vitamin A
Collagen
Vitamin D
Omega-3 fatty acids
Vitamin E
Fish oil

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Skin hydrating foods

Healthy fats like walnuts, coconut oil, avocados, olives, and egg yolks.
Hydrating fruits like watermelon, red grapes, papaya, and coconut water.
Omega-3 rich proteins like wild-caught salmon and herring.
Hydrating veggies like cucumber, celery, bell peppers.

Foods to avoid

Foods that are highly processed, contain inflammatory oils (seed oils like canola and safflower), and are loaded with artificial ingredients and preservatives aren’t going to do your skin any favors. Noted!

Horstman’s tips for how to keep skin hydrated from the inside out

You might be surprised by how much you can do for your skin’s hydration levels from a health and nutritional standpoint. Choose organic produce that is in season, pasture-raised protein, and wild-caught fish—Horstman recommends perusing the frozen aisle! Stick with minimally processed foods that will aid in skin health and hydration.

Beyond nutrition, everyone’s skin is different, but certain factors like weather, air conditioning, and stress can impact the skin universally. Getting adequate sleep, sweating via exercise, steam, or sauna, and exfoliating your skin helps remove toxins while locking in moisture from a hydrating skincare routine.

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Let’s talk skincare with Dr. Chang

Dry skin (AKA xerosis) can be caused by a variety of different factors, including genetics and environmental triggers. Potential environmental triggers include weather, heat, air conditioning, harsh soaps, hot baths, or certain skincare products. Deodorant soaps or harsh scrubs can also strip the skin of its natural oils and dry it out. Internal factors include age and genetic conditions, like eczema.

Dr. Chang also says our skincare routine should shift to match the change in seasons and humidity. The air and our skin tend to be driest in wintertime, and frequent moisturizing throughout the day is important. She recommends using moisturizers that have a mix of humectants, emollients, and occlusive ingredients. You can also mix and match hydrating toners, serums, and moisturizing creams for a boost of hydration. 

Keep scrolling for Dr. Chang’s tips for how to hydrate skin:

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Switch from a lighter lotion to a thicker cream

If the weather changes or you find yourself suddenly in a drier environment, make sure to swap your lighter lotions for a heavier-duty cream that will help to seal in moisture and protect the skin.

Keep showers short and lukewarm

Long, hot showers can dry out the skin. Limit them to no longer than five to 10 minutes. Pat dry and apply moisturizer immediately when your skin is most primed to absorb the hydration.

Use a humidifier

A humidifier can keep the air moist and decrease the likelihood of drying out the skin during dry weather, winter, or when experiencing frequent air conditioner use.

Avoid drying, irritating topicals or chemicals

Anything from natural astringents like tea tree oil to strong acids and peels can make skin dry and damage the natural moisture barrier.

Use a hydrating face mask regularly

If you aren’t masking as part of your weekly skincare routine, consider adding a moisture-rich option to your repertoire.

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Look out for these hydrating and skin-repairing ingredients

Ceramides—Dr. Chang notes that ceramides are a natural lipid in our skin. Ceramide levels drop with age and dry weather, making it important to replace these lipids in the skin with skincare products.
Glycerin
Hyaluronic acid
Niacinamide, a strong antioxidant that can help repair and brighten the skin.
Fatty alcohols like cetyl and stearyl alcohol
Squalane

Read on for Dr. Chang’s favorite products to hydrate skin:

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SkinFix Barrier + Lipid Peptide Cream

This peptide-rich cream contains a triple lipid complex, hyaluronic acid, shea butter, glycerin, and jojoba seed oil that gives skin a dollop of moisture and glow.

Buy it here.

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Cerave Daily Moisturizing Lotion

This lotion is formulated with ceramides and hyaluronic acid to repair and protect dry skin.

Buy it here.

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Canopy Humidifier

Using a humidifier can make a huge difference when trying to keep skin hydrated. This one promotes healthy, glowing skin while also alleviating cold, flu, and allergy symptoms and reducing the spread of viruses indoors.

Buy it here.

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Skinceuticals Triple Lipid Restore 242

This anti-aging moisturizer has essential lipids like ceramides and fatty acids to restore the skin’s protective barrier, along with vitamin E and essential oils.

Buy it here.

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EltaMD Am Therapy Facial Moisturizer

One of our and Dr. Chang’s faves, this non-comedogenic formula moisturizes the skin with the help of hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and niacinamide.

Buy it here.

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La Roche Posay Double Repair Facial Moisturizer

Dr. Chang recommends using this moisturizer on sensitive skin. It’s formulated with prebiotic thermal water, ceramides, glycerin, and niacinamide to relieve dryness while soothing and repairing the skin barrier.

Buy it here.

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Skinceuticals Hydrating B5 Gel

Get a boost of hyaluronic acid and vitamin B5 to help bind moisture to the skin and leave it smooth and revitalized.

Buy it here.

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EltaMD UV Facial Broad-Spectrum SPF 30+ 

This moisturizer hydrates dry skin while also defending against harmful UVA and UVB.

Buy it here.

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Augustinus Bader The Rich Cream

This cult-favorite is a luxurious, ultra-hydrating cream that has been clinically proven to improve skin hydration, reduce wrinkles, and improve firmness.

Buy it here.

Originally found on Camille Styles Read More




Are You Team Espresso Martini? Why the 90s Cocktail Is Summer’s Most Divisive Drink

It began innocently enough. A friend’s husband randomly ordered an espresso martini at the end of a group dinner. “What is that?” everyone asked. Then, the caffeine-fueled cocktail began popping up on menus. Soon, recipes for the distinct drink (a simple tonic of vodka, coffee liqueur, and espresso) were filling my Instagram feed, and the entire group was ordering the cocktail at the end of dinner. The message was clear: the espresso martini is having a moment. When I floated the idea to a group of Camille Styles editors, however, the drink proved polarizing. “Ew not again,” someone memorably responded.

Having been well below the drinking age in the ’90s—the heyday of the espresso martini—I didn’t realize the vodka cocktail’s return was just part of our current obsession with that decade’s trends. And I certainly didn’t realize how many feelings people would have—both positive and negative.

There are several theories as to why this particular ’90s-era cocktail—and not, for example, an Appletini or Carrie Bradshaw’s Cosmopolitan—is enjoying a resurgence. The New York Times considers the recent obsession with coffee culture (particularly on TikTok). They also point to my personal favorite Bravo show, Summer House, where the cast’s drink of choice on any booze-fueled episode has proven to be a harbinger of sorts for alcohol trends. (In the article, castmate Kyle Cooke boldly claims the group’s obsession with rosé in 2016 may have led to Whispering Angel’s popularity, which is exactly why he’s one of the reality TV greats.) Cooke and castmate Amanda Batula launched a ready-to-drink espresso martini under their canned cocktail company Loverboy this fall. Recently, a friend even floated the idea that the espresso martini is just a slightly more sophisticated take on the buzzy Red Bull vodkas we drank in college. Fair enough.

The real reason behind the resurgence may be even simpler: cold brew coffee has become more universally available in recent years, and it’s a great alternative to the espresso that was so often substituted in martini recipes of the past (a habit that may have given the drink its reputation as being, to put it plainly, not very good). Coffee liqueurs have also come a long way since the 1990s.

So if your first response to the espresso martini’s comeback was less than enthused, consider giving it another go. After decades of little evolution, the current craft cocktail craze has helped produce far more complex and exciting versions.

And if you like to dabble in the arts of the caffeinated cocktail from the comfort of home, consider these excellent espresso martini recipes.

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A Perfectly Frothy Espresso Martini

Emphasizing the importance of strong, well-made espresso, the Preppy Kitchen helps you nail the cocktail’s picture-perfect foam topping.

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Tidy Mom’s Easy Espresso Martini

Tidy Mom’s traditional recipe includes a few tips for the best craft cocktail experience, including a vanilla syrup alternative and the best dishes to serve with an espresso martini.

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A Decadent Espresso Martini

This recipe adds a touch of caramel and features an Irish Cream liqueur.

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PHOTO: courtesy of Kayla’s Kitch & Fix

A Clean, Dairy-Free Espresso Martini

By nature, espresso martinis should be naturally vegan-friendly, but if you want to ensure the cleanest version of the cocktail, this dairy-free recipe is as easy (and tasty looking) as they come.

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The Defined Dish’s Traditional Espresso Martini

The health-conscious Texas-based food writer behind some of my favorite tequila cocktails offers a classic take includes advice on creating a perfectly chilled martini glass.

Are you a fan of the Espresso Martini comeback? Or does it make you cringe? Sound out below.

Originally found on Camille Styles Read More




Level Up Your Ice Cube Game—These 4 Recipes Will Make Your Drinks Even More Delicious

With summer in full swing, there’s no time better to celebrate the season for what it is: bold colorsbright flavors, sweet treats, and cold drinks. So when Camille asked me to create some fun ice cube recipes that would level up our cocktails, mocktails, and lemonades this summer, I was all in. With a season that’s all about celebration, I leaned into beautiful florals and bright flavors that could enhance our favorite summer drinks. I wanted to feature beverages that were refreshing but still packed with flavor and easy to assemble.

Use these ice cube recipes as your guide, but feel free to adjust and adapt to your own tastes! Add a splash of bubbly or use different fruit and flower combinations. These are supposed to be fun and bring a small moment of joy into your summer days–so enjoy!

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Chamomile and Jasmine Herbal Ice Cubes

Okay, so we’re starting off with my favorite ice cubes of the bunch. Not only are these beautiful, but they step up the flavor (and visual eye candy) in any basic lemonade recipe.

For the ice cubes:
1. Fill an ice tray with small chamomile and jasmine flowers and herbs of your choice. I used mint, thyme, and basil. Fill the tray with water and freeze until solid.

For the drink:
1. Fill glasses with frozen ice cubes and pour over either your favorite lemonade for an elevated summer lemonade packed with extra flavor or pour over sparkling water for a refreshing summer afternoon treat. Enjoy!

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Sparkling Orange Marigold Ice Cubes

Marigolds are some of my favorite flowers, especially growing up in an Indian household. These orange and golden blooms are considered auspicious and bring good vibes to the home during celebrations. So adding these to a drink felt extra special to me. If you’ve never had a marigold, they actually have a very subtle citrus flavor that pairs so well with the drink, and the orange hues feel extra special for the golden hour summers.

For the ice cubes:
1. Fill an ice tray with marigold flowers, putting one or two blooms in each cube. Pour over water and freeze until solid.

For the drink:
1. Place ice cubes into glasses.
2. Pour over orange soda of choice (I like this one) and add a big splash of orange juice. Enjoy!

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Matcha Ice Cubes

I am a huge fan of matcha and tend to drink it more often than coffee in the mornings. If you’re not a fan of the flavor, make sure you’re investing in really good quality ceremonial matcha. I’m a huge fan of the Paru Tea Single Origin at Methodology. And using the matcha in ice cube form keeps the flavor a little more subtle while also being a very fun way to celebrate the green tea.

For the ice cubes:
1. In a matcha bowl, add 2 tsp of matcha powder. whisk with 1 cup of water until smooth and there are no lumps, the matcha should be dissolved.
2. Pour the matcha into an ice cube tray, freeze until solid.

For the drink:
1. To serve, place ice cubes into a glass. pour over milk of choice, I used almond milk. Enjoy!

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Sparkling Pink Rose Ice Cubes

This one might be the most beautiful of the bunch. Not only are the roses just gorgeous to look at, but the combination of the rose petals and the bright pink of the hibiscus tea really make this one feel like an extra special treat.

For the ice cubes:
1. Make the first set of ice cubes, place edible rose blossoms into ice cube tray—I used a round ice cube tray but you can also make it in a regular large ice cube tray. Pour over water and freeze until solid.
2. Make the second set of ice cubes, a berry version. I used blackberries, raspberries, and pomegranate seeds in an ice cube tray. Pour over water and freeze until solid.

For the drink:
1. Place ice cubes into glasses.
2. Pour over sparkling water until glass is 3/4 of the way full, then pour over cold steeped hibiscus tea. Enjoy!

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Shop our favorite ice cube trays and makers:

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Cubette Mini Ice Cube Trays, Set of 2

Is there anything better than mini ice cubes in your ice coffee or matcha? Yes! Making actual matcha or iced coffee ice cubes to put into your matcha or iced coffee. So meta!

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Easy Release Ice Cube Trays Stackable Design With Lid, 2 Pack

No more struggling with popping out your ice cubes thanks to these easy release trays.

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W&P Everyday Ice Tray

We love that this tray has a lid and is a square design to keep things interesting.

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W&P Sphere Ice Tray

One always needs options when it comes to ice cube varieties and spheres ice trays will always have a place in our freezer. Hot tip: Use them on your under-eyes and face in the morning to depuff and waken up the skin!

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Speckled Extra Large Ice Tray

We love an extra-large ice cube especially when it comes in a chic speckled tray. There is nothing more satisfying than pouring hot matcha over a big ice cube in a cup. 13 of 13

GE Profile Opal Countertop Nugget Ice Maker

This one is a little on the pricier side but we’re all about having ready-made ice on our countertop. Of all the ice makers out there, this one has a lot of positive 5-start reviews on Amazon and a good friend tells me it’s worth the price. So, if you’re in the market, this one is worth looking into.

Originally found on Camille Styles Read More




Catt Sadler Shares Her Feel-Good Morning & Skincare Routine—Plus, “The World’s Most Complicated Smoothie”

How do you spend the first five minutes of your day? There’s no better time than the morning to ground yourself and prepare your body and mind to set the tone for the day ahead. And since we only have about 25,000 mornings in our adult life, it’s time we made them count. In our Wake Up Call series, we take a look inside the morning routines of people we admire to inspire our own AM rituals and put our best foot forward. Up next, mom, producer, television, and podcast host, Catt Sadler’s morning routine.

One of my favorite quotes says, “Be the energy that you want to attract,” meaning, if you share kindness and positivity with the world, it’ll come right back to you. Catt Sadler is one of those people who exemplifies this law of attraction in action. If you’ve followed her on Instagram or watched her many red carpet interviews as one of the hosts on E! News, Daily Pop, and other E! shows, you couldn’t be blamed for assuming she lives a charmed life. There’s no doubt that Catt is gorgeous, whip-smart, and hilarious. But a closer look reveals a woman who’s worked incredibly hard to build her decades-long career, chooses kindness and positivity in the face of challenges, and prioritizes her relationships above all else. In other words, she puts a lot of goodness out there and gets a lot of goodness back.

I’ve been a longtime fan of Catt’s podcast (she launched her newest, It Sure Is a Beautiful Day earlier this year and just recently kicked off a weekly show, A Drink With Live! where she interviews incredible women before a live virtual audience) and felt like we were already friends although we’d never met in person. So, of course, I pulled the “Wake Up Call” card and asked if we could interview her on her morning routine. You know, so we could hang out IRL. It worked! Catt invited us into her light-filled Hancock Park bungalow and spilled the details on her favorite books for AM inspo, her on-point skincare routine, and her unexpected career highlight.

Read on for Catt Sadler’s morning routine…

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Tell us about your new podcast, It Sure Is A Beautiful Day. What inspired it?

I’ve created an upbeat inspiring space for people who want more joy in their lives. For people who want to feel less alone in their struggles. It’s girl gab-sesh meets enlightenment sprinkled with stories, as shared by my various guests.

It is completely unfiltered, and for me professionally, it’s very rewarding to share more parts of myself with the world. It feels like by me doing more of that, others are given permission to do the same—and there’s powers in that!

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It’s been inspiring to see you continue to evolve through these different stages of your career. What has been your biggest learning over the past year?

Thank you! When the pandemic forced me to slow down, I took real inventory of my life. The stillness taught me to take better care of myself, so in turn I could be of better service to others. Also, I learned commitment through various disciplines that molded me into a happier human. More consistent exercise. Consistently saw my therapist. More writing and praying.

Sticking with healthy practices day after day, week after week, really does work if you’re wanting to stretch into your most powerful self.

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Let’s get into your morning routine. What time is your wake-up call? 

I generally wake up between 6:30 and 7:00am. I don’t like less than seven hours sleep anymore. The older I get the more sleep I require. I make listening to my body a priority. Luckily my boys are 16 and 20 so they set their own alarms (and generally sleep much later than me), so this time of day is quite calm and serene.

What’s always on your nightstand?

My SLIP eye mask, lavender room and linen spray, a large glass of lemon water in my YETI (stays cold longer), and my phone on a charger.

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What’s the first thing you do when you wake up?

The first thing I do is pet and cuddle up with my rescue, Nipsey. He’s my small dog who sleeps with me. Luckily, Scarlett my German Shephard prefers her bed on the floor next to us.

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What does a typical morning look like for you?

First, I let the dogs outside into our backyard. Then I beeline to the kitchen to make coffee. It’s a sweet ritual for me. I grind the beans, boil the water for the press, and even steam my own oat milk. Divine! Afterwards, it’s straight to my desk in my home office where I’ll journal for a few minutes. It sets the tone for my day before I open up my inbox and things get crazy.

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Catt’s living room is an oasis of calm—perfect for a moment of reading and mindfulness.

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What morning rituals set you up for success?

My pre-work rituals are making my bed (most days), opening the curtains (I love the Cali sunshine!), making my coffee, taking my supplements, and writing in my two journals with some easy, chill, instrumental music accompanying me. One is a gratitude journal, the other is where I keep letters to my spiritual guides. In this journal I ask for guidance, how to be used or directed on the right path, or I share anything else that’s on my mind or weighing on me. I once heard that in order for the universe to really listen to your desires, you must not only think about them, but write them down. It shows commitment.

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What are your favorite books?

Currently I’m obsessed with How to Do the Work by Dr. Nicole LePera and Quit Like a Woman by Holly Whitaker.

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Describe your morning beauty routine from start to finish:

Somewhere between the coffee and writing and first few work emails, I will make my way to the bathroom and enjoy my morning beauty routine.

First I wash my face with Mario Badescu Gentle Foaming Cleanser.

Before I add any other products I’ll use Nurse Jamie’s Instant Uplift Massage Roller to get the blood flowing and bring some color to my face. Reduces puffiness, too.

Then I use REN Ready Steady Glow AHA Tonic on a cotton ball.

I follow that up with various serums (I alternate a lot.) Some of my favorites are Skin Ceuticals CE Ferulic and Dr. Barbara Sturm Hyaluronic Serum.

I never skimp on eye cream. I like GOOP Beauty’s GOOPGENES All-in-one Nourishing Eye Cream or Kate Somerville Lifting Eye Cream.

After that I use my lash serum: Vegamore.

My favorite daytime moisturizer is Murad Essential C with SPF 30.

Sunscreen is the holy grail so I’m often reapplying Kate Somerville Mineral Sunscreen SPF 40 and also Sun Bum Sunscreen Lip Balm SPF 30.

If I’m not heading out the door I often wear 111Skin Rose Gold Illuminating Eye Masks while I work in the morning.

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Catt’s incredible fragrance collection includes several picks from Byredo.

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What do you eat for breakfast? 

I don’t eat breakfast, only coffee first thing. I guess by default I’m technically intermittent fasting most days. I listen to my body and typically get hungry or need some fuel around 11am. Some favorites at home are the world’s simplest avocado toast or the world’s most complicated smoothie (I add so many superfoods and super powders it’s ridiculous—recipe below.) I also have Think! bars at my desk as easy snacks I can grab that are good for me.

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Catt’s (It’s Complicated) Smoothie

3/4 cups frozen berries
1 banana
pinch of spinach
1 tablespoon Navitas Superfood and Adaptogen Blend (maca + reishi + ashwaganda)
Dash of chia seeds
Dash of hemp seeds
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 scoop Form Superblend Plant Based Protein
1 tablespoon almond butter
Dash of honey
1 cup almond milk

Blend it all up, and drink!

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What will we always find in your refrigerator?

Sound sparkling waters, almond butter, oat milk, eggs, hummus.

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What are your morning media rituals?

When I’m at my desk, I listen to the Productive Morning playlist on Spotify. If I sneak out to walk the dogs or walk myself (ha!) I don’t miss The Daily podcast.

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What’s your favorite getting-ready soundtrack?

I generally play the TOP HITS soundtrack on Spotify which is always changing. Usually peppered with energetic songs from my favs like Dua Lipa, Cardi B, Saweetie, Justin Bieber, Harry Styles, Ava Max, Lil Nas, Billie Eilish.

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What has been the highlight of your career so far and why?

Whoever thought quitting a job would be the highlight of one’s career? But for me, it was. Taking a stand and walking away from an unfair situation felt like a singular story but the response was so massive that in the end, my leap meant something for many women, not just me.

A necessary conversation about equal pay got louder because of my decision, and that is pretty damn cool.

Originally found on Camille Styles Read More