Monthly Archives: April 2015

7 Things Your Hair Says About Your Health

What your hair can tell you about your overall health.

If it seems like you’re having more than your fair share of bad hair days, it might be time to take a closer look. The state of your strands can give you insight into what’s going on inside your body—from psychological issues to physical maladies. And that can be valuable for catching problems and seeking the help you need to prevent them from becoming bigger ones. If you feel like your hair is going haywire, the 7 causes below might be to blame.

1. You’re a perfectionist.
A tendency to (literally) pull at your hair, brows, or lashes when you get stressed can signal a perfectionist personality, suggests a Canadian study in the Journal of Behavioral Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry. The researchers explain it this way: When you don’t meet your own impossibly high standards, hair pulling can be a way of alleviating the frustration and dissatisfaction. But this coping tactic goes a little deeper than run-of-the-mill perfectionism—it’s a compulsive disorder known as trichotillomania, and if you’ve got it, cognitive behavioral therapy (learning a less overwhelming way to organize your workflow and deal with frustration) may help.

2. You’re going through some MAJOR stress.
A stressful event can cause hair loss 3 to 6 months later.
It’s normal to shed 80 to 100 hairs a day, says New York City dermatologist and psychiatrist Amy Wechsler, MD. But if it looks like you’re losing more than what’s normal for you, it could be a sign of telogen effluvium, a period of (totally reversible) hair thinning brought on by psychological and physical stressors, like an illness, pregnancy, or a period of depression. The thing is, this shift often isn’t noticeable until 3 to 6 months after the event—so it can be tough to associate the cause with the hair loss.

No need to panic: If a big stressor is behind your hair loss, it’ll grow back on its own, though it can take another 3 to 6 months before it’s back to normal. In the meantime, Wechsler suggests focusing on overall wellness: Get 7.5 to 8 hours of sleep a night, do stress-busting activities, and consider taking 5 mg of biotin a day to stimulate growth.

3. You’re eating too much junk food.
If your hair looks lackluster, dull, brittle, or is thinning, it may be time to rethink what’s on your plate. “When it comes to healthy hair, your overall diet is critically important,” says Wendy Bazilian, RD, author of The SuperFoods Rx Diet. “If you’re eating a highly processed diet, any nutrients you do get are shuttled to your body’s crucial operations, like your heart and other organs,” she says. Your hair won’t turn brittle and dull after one burger-and-fry combo, but over time, strands can suffer from lack of nutrients. To prevent the issue altogether (or make up for past bad behavior), Bazilian recommends a diet heavy on whole, rather than processed foods, and full of color—that’s where fruits and veggies come in. That will give your body—and hair—what you need to stay healthy.

4. You’re not eating enough fat.
Without adequate fat intake, your hair could become dull and brittle.
If you’ve recently slashed fat from your diet in the hopes of losing weight, your hair may respond by becoming lackluster and weak, says Bazilian. Not only does dietary fat contribute to the health of your hair, it also helps your body absorb key fat-soluble nutrients, like vitamin D, which has been associated with hair loss in women that don’t get enough. Luckily, you can eat your fat and be healthy, too—if you choose the right ones. “Focus on eating foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids and monounsaturated fats,” says Bazilian. Consider this your license to load your cart with satisfying goodies like oily fish, avocados, dark chocolate, and olive oil.

5. You have too much testosterone.
If you notice hair loss at the crown of your head (where you’d secure a high ponytail) and dark facial hair sprouting on your upper lip or thickening hair on your arms, see if your waistline also seems wider than usual. Excess belly fat stores testosterone, which in turn stimulates hair follicles to perk up and take on the growth patterns we usually see in men, says Diana Bitner, MD, an obgyn at Spectrum Health Medical Group in Grand Rapids, Michigan. What you can do: eat less sugar (the American Heart Association recommends women eat only 6 added teaspoons a day, but most of us are getting far more than that) and exercise regularly to help decrease belly fat, one of testosterone’s favorite hideouts, thus reducing its alarming side effects.

Note: A condition known as Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), can also be a cause of unwanted hair growth, so if you notice any fellow symptoms like obesity, irregular periods (5 months without one and you’re not menopausal), acne, and insulin resistance, see your doctor.

6. You’re at risk for dental issues.
Weird but true: a study in the Journal of Clinical Investigation reveals that people who have hair disorders (like loose anagen hair syndrome, where you can pull out hair easily) due to mutations of key hair protein keratin are also more prone to cavities. Here’s why: Keratin is also key in the formation of tooth enamel, so issues with the protein result in a softer surface that has a tougher time standing up to decay-producing bacteria. Though you can’t change your genetic stars, if you have a known hair disorder, it pays to be on top of your oral hygiene game (like flossing daily and regular dental visits).

7. You’re not drinking enough water.
Your hair could lose its lustre if you're not drinking enough water.
If your lackluster locks are accompanied by hot flashes, night sweats, and lack of energy, the common denominator is likely dehydration. “Dehydrated hair is brittle,” says Bitner. As for the hot, “Muscles that are dehydrated get hotter quicker,” she explains. The Institute of Medicine recommends getting 2.7 liters a day from beverages and water-rich foods. (That’s about four 24-ounce water bottles.) “Your skin, hair, and muscles will soak it up and you’ll love how you look and feel,” Bitner says.

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Top 10 Cancer-Fighting Foods

Cancer-Fighting Foods

Foods Associated with a Lower Cancer Risk

The countless books and news articles about cancer-fighting foods might lead you to think you can ward off this dreaded disease simply by eating better.

Alas, it’s not that simple. Anytime you see a headline stating “Cure cancer naturally,” you should run. Running, in fact, will be more beneficial to your health than whatever that news article is pushing.

There are foods associated with a lower risk of getting cancer. While that’s positive news, remember that this is based merely on what goes on in Petri dishes and in mice and in human epidemiology studies revealing, largely in retrospect, that people who ate A, B and C for “x” years had a y-percent reduction in a cancer risk compared with a bunch of slackers who did nothing to stay healthy.

So, there are no guarantees. Consider that among the leading proponents of the macrobiotic diet — the grain- and vegetable-based diet purported to cure cancer — Aveline Kushi and her daughter Lilly died of cancer, Michio Kushi had a tumor removed from his intestine, and founder George Ohsawa died at the relatively young age of 73, likely of a heart attack.

Many causes of cancer are environmental, largely from tobacco, excessive sun exposure and workplace hazards such as chemical solvents and fumes. Avoidance is the best prevention strategy here.

Aside from that, if you want the odds on your side, the foods in this list do seem to carry some cancer-protection properties.

wine glass

Wine

Wine — and, in particular, red wine with its high concentration of the chemical resveratrol from the grape skin — is anti-cancer and pro-heart, at least in moderation. Alcohol can be toxic and is associated with liver, breast and stomach cancers. Somewhere there is a balance, though, with resveratrol contributing in some unknown way to suppress metabolites associated with cancer growth. More and more researchers have become comfortable in recent years inrecommending a glass of wine a day to prevent cancer and promote a healthier circulatory system. If the concept of wine seems too radical to include on a list of anti-cancer foods, consider having that wine with an Italian pasta meal with tomato sauce (high in lycopene, somewhat associated with cancer prevention), sardines and a dark leafy green salad (high on the anti-cancer food list).

Cruciferous Vegetables

Cruciferous Vegetables

Cruciferous vegetables are those in the mustard or cabbage family, and the list is exhaustive. Unfortunately, most U.S. markets only carry a few: cabbage, broccoli, kale and collards. Step into a good Asian market for an entire aisle of offerings. These vegetables, in varying degrees, are rich in anti-cancer properties such as diindolylmethane, sulforaphane and the element selenium. The punch comes with the crunch: Chewing, more so than subsequent digestion, releases these chemicals. Thus, it is important not to overcook these greens. Even tough collards, if fresh, can be chopped thin and pan-fried in a few minutes, as opposed to the traditional southern methods of boiling the hell out of these.

green tea

Green Tea

Start drinking up to a half-gallon of green tea a day, cold or hot, caffeine be damned. (Tea only has a third of the caffeine found in most coffee.) Green tea has epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) and catechins, as tough on cancer cells as they are on the tongue to pronounce. EGCG retards cancer growth; and stomach and lung cancer rates in Japan would likely be even higher considering all the cancer-promoting salty food and tobacco there.

Note that in the United States it is extremely difficult to get real green tea. What you are buying is green tea drink (sugar, water, and someone whispering the words “green tea” over the bottle) or green tea mix (a blend of teas to ease that natural bitterness of green tea). The most potent green tea comes from Japan; and Asian supermarkets carry many varieties, with the best brands being in boxes with letters you can’t read. Note also that black teas lose healthy catechins in the fermentation process; and decaffeinated teas lose catechins in the washing process.

salmon dinner with greens

Vitamin D

Vitamin D isn’t a food per se; it is a proto-hormone that seems to interfere with cancer growth. Many studies on humans have shownvitamin D is instrumental in reducing the risk of colon and breast cancer and improving the survival rates of lung cancer. The precise mechanism is not known, but most researchers in recent years have become increasingly convinced that few of us get enough vitamin Dthrough sunlight or diet. There are few vegetarian sources other than eggs and UV-irradiated mushrooms. Your best bet comes from the waterways: catfish, salmon, sardines, or mackerel.

folate-rich beans

Folate

Folate, and the related folic acid or vitamin B9, is part of the vitamin B-complex family, which as a whole has cancer-preventive properties. The cancer-folate relationship is complex. People with diets low in folate seem to have higher rates of cancer. Diets high in folate don’t necessarily prevent cancer, but they don’t seem to hurt. The lack of folate might enable cancer to get the upper hand, allowing mutations to occur unchecked. Leafy green vegetables, asparagus, beans, peas and lentils are all generally high in folate.

green vegtables

Dark Green Vegetables

This category of vegetables overlaps the cruciferous family and includes chard, spinach and beets (by virtue of the leaves, but the red root is healthy, too). These vegetables contain, among other goodies, beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin — each of which are powerful antioxidants that can block early cancer development. They are also high in folate. Best yet, Swiss chard in particular is extremely easy to grow in pots. It’s the plant that keeps giving: You can clip off leaves for months upon months as new ones keep shooting up. Fresher greens are more tender and tastier.

ginger powder, spice

Ginger and Turmeric

Ginger and turmeric are about as close as you can get to good-tasting medicine. Ginger has powerful anti-inflammatory properties and can slow cancer growth. Turmeric, the spice that forms the base of most curries, is from a root in the ginger family. The active ingredient iscurcumin, which can kill cancer cells quickly, albeit in a test tube. Ginger and turmeric enhance the flavor of most any meal and come with a long list of healthful benefits. Yes, you can get both ginger and turmeric/curcurmin in a pill form. But pill supplements are usually dumb American ideas. Add these to your spice rack, not medicine cabinet.

folate-rich beans

Beans and Lentils

Add the aforementioned ginger or turmeric or both, and you’re in for some good, healthy eating. Beans and lentils contain numerous phytochemicals, far too cumbersome to read in one sitting, that have been shown in the laboratory to slow or prevent damage to the DNA, the basis of cancer. The added benefit comes with the fiber, associated with lower risk of digestive cancers such as colon cancer. The tricky part, for many Americans, is learning how to cook these properly. Make friends with someone from India who can cook, and you’ll be amazed how you can get through much of your week without beef or pork.

chocolate candies

Chocolate

Chocolate has endured countless studies by scientists determined to prove this can’t possibly be healthy. But it is healthy, provided the cocoa-to-candy ratio remains high. Reach for a dark chocolate bar with at least 70-percent cocoa (often spelled cacao), preferably more. The closer to its bitter bean state, the better. One again we see those antioxidants and therapeutic polyphenols at work. In particular there is a class of chemicals in cocoa called catechins, also found in tea, that seem to offer protection against heart disease, stroke and cancer, according to studies of South Americans who consume the cocoa bean generously.

bowl of mixed berries

Berries

Just about any food with word “berry” in it is extremely healthy, with the primary exception being Cap’n Crunch’s Crunch Berries. Most berries contain ellagic acid and other polyphenol antioxidants that inhibit tumor growth. Don’t get too caught up in one kind of berry and the “best” polyphenol with a name you can’t pronounce. Focus on a variety of seasonal berries and add them to plain, no-fat yogurt.

fruit smoothies

Scrumptious Smoothie

Try mixing most of the items mentioned in this anti-cancer food list intoa smoothie with non-fat yogurt or silken tofu. You’ll be amazed the amount of healthy junk you can cram into a smoothie — flaxseed, wheat germ, and even bitter vegetables — and still come up with something tasty as long as you include berries, kiwis, bananas, peeled carrots or any combination thereof.

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Cancer Tech: New Devices Could Speed Up Treatment

A device with eight needles is held just over the skin, where a tumor lies beneath.
The CIVO device injects a tumor with multiple drugs at once, allowing doctors to see which drugs are working.

Treating cancer is sometimes a process of trial and error, because any given drug or drug combination does not work the same for all patients. Precious time can be lost while doctors seek the right chemicals to beat back a tumor.

Now, two research teams say they have found ways to speed up the process by allowing doctors to try multiple treatments at once: One is an implantable device, and the other is a special injection device.

In Seattle, researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the company Presage Biosciences designed a device called CIVO that includes up to eight needles arranged in an array. The device can be used to inject multiple drugs into tumors that are close to the surface of a person’s skin.

First, the needles are loaded with drugs, pressed into the tumor and then withdrawn, with each needle leaving behind a columnlike trail of a drug that spans the full depth of the tumor.

Then, one to three days later, researchers can remove a piece of the tumor and examine the cells to see the effect of each drug — whether itkilled the tumor cells, slowed their growth or had no effect. That analysis can tell doctors whether a certain drug or set of drugs will be more effective.

“Ordinarily, when I write a prescription, I have no way to know if the cancer is resistant” to the drug that’s being prescribed, said Dr. James Olson, a pediatric oncologist at Fred Hutchinson and the senior author of the CIVO report, published today (April 22) in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

With CIVO, doctors “can compare drug A to drug B,” Olson said. The device could also be a boon to drug development, as it allows for controlled experiments that don’t require flooding a patient’s system with experimental chemotherapy drugs, he said.

So far, the device has been tested on mice, 20 dogs and four human patients. The four human patients all had lymphomas, which are cancers of the lymph system, and had enlarged lymph nodes. The patients said they had very little pain with the injections, according to the report.

Meanwhile, researchers at MIT have built a cylindrical device the size of a rice grain that is riddled with microscopic tubes. Each tube can contain a different drug, and the device can carry up to 30 drugs, according to the researchers’ report, also published today in Science Translational Medicine.

Unlike CIVO, the cylinder is designed to be implanted into the tumor, and then diffusion allows the drugs to move from the tubes into the surrounding cancerous tissue. A biopsy of the tumor is taken a day or two later — a doctor removes the cylinder and a small amount of the cancer tissue around it.

As with CIVO, the aim is to let doctors look at the cancerous tissue, to see which drugs worked better or which ones didn’t work at all. “It’s a way to predict whether the patient will respond to the drug or not,” said Robert Langer, a professor of bioengineering and chemical engineering at MIT who is one of the senior authors on the report.

So far, the implant has been tested only in mice, so it will likely take longer than CIVO to get into clinical testing. But the implant offers a way to attack cancers that are deeper in the body and thus less accessible to injections. Langer said his team is putting together study proposals for clinical trials.

Olson said the ability to test out drugs using such devices could make chemotherapy more comfortable for patients because doctors will know early on whether certain drugs will work for a given patient. That would make it less likely that patients would have to endure ineffective chemo treatments — with all of their associated side effects — and would also save time in the process, Olson said.

Even knowing that no drug will help a patient could be a good thing, he said, because then doctors could make him or her comfortable, and the patient would avoid enduring the side effects of drugs that wouldn’t end up treating the cancer.

“Some drugs make patients sick,” he said. “It would be great if we could do nothing more than prevent that.”

The Seattle researchers’ work was funded by the National Institutes of Health and Presage Biosciences, and the MIT researchers’ work was funded by the National Cancer Institute and Massachusetts-based biotech company Kibur Medical.

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A friend is very important to us.

friends

I need you.

The company you keep says a lot about you. Friends have a big influence over how you feel, think, and behave. Here are five reasons you should be careful who you surround yourself with:

1. Strong-willed friends can increase your self-control.

If you struggle to resist temptation, surrounding yourself with people who possess a high degree of self-discipline can help. A 2013 study published in Psychological Science reports that when people are running low on self-control, they often seek out self-disciplined people to boost their willpower.

Since self-control is vital to reaching long-term goals, befriending people with willpower could be the secret to success. Whether you’re tempted to skip that workout at the gym, or you’re considering blowing this month’s budget, spending time with a disciplined friend could boost your motivation to maintain healthy habits.

2. Fewer friends increases the likelihood you’ll take financial risks.

When people lack adequate social interaction, they’re more likely to take bigger risks with money, according to a study published in the June 2013 issue of Journal of Consumer Research. Researchers discovered people who feel lonely or rejected were most likely to take the biggest financial risks.

Whether you’re dealing with a recent breakup, a fallout with family, or a failed business venture, be aware that your emotions could affect your spending habits. Uncomfortable emotions can increase the chances that you’ll behave recklessly, which may have a negative impact on your bank account.

3. Too many social media connections can increase your stress level.

When it comes to social media, “the more the merrier” may not be the best approach. A report from the University of Edinburgh Business School says that more Facebook friends means more stress. Researchers linked an abundance of social media connections to increased anxiety about offending people.

4. Close friends could be the secret to longevity.

When older adults have close confidants, they’re likely to live longer, according to a 2005 study conducted by Australia’s Flinders University. After following 1,500 people for 10 years, researchers discovered that people with a large network of friends outlived their counterparts by 22 percent.

5. Friends can greatly influence your choices.

A 2014 study published in the Journal of Consumer Research found that friends often bond by providing one another withmoral support to resist a temptation. However, friends also commonly conspire together to enjoyindulgences. Researchers discovered that when it came to resisting temptations — like eating chocolate — sometimes friends were more likely to become partners in crime as they decided to indulge together.

Your likely to start acting like the people you surround yourself with. Pick friends who make poor choices, and you could get dragged down fast. But, if you choose friends who inspire and challenge you to become better, you’ll increase your chances of reaching your goals.

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These movies have made much money

Fortune decided to take a look at the 3 highest-grossing science-fiction movies of all time, using data from Box Office Mojo and adjusting for inflation.

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3. Avatar (2009)

In terms of raw dollars, James Cameron’s “Avatar” is the highest-grossing movie of all time, at $761 million. After adjusting for inflation, its total is $829 million, thereby leaving the movie two slots shy of the top prize. But don’t worry; they’re going to make three sequels anyway.

In the unlikely event that you haven’t seen this 3-D epic, it’s an intergalactic take on “Dances With Wolves,” with the blue indigenous people of the planet Pandora standing in for the Lakota. It’s also the reason that every major event movie released since then has been in 3-D, a phenomenon of which even Cameron has said he’s had enough.

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2. ET: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

In 1982, Steven Spielberg was already the star director of such blockbuster fare as “Jaws” and “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” But when “E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial” was unleashed upon the masses that summer, he became abona fide cultural phenomenon, the rare director who can get mainstream movie fans into theaters simply because his name is on the poster.

The story of a lovable alien stranded on earth, the movie was an immediate hit, and it earned $435 million at the domestic box office, the equivalent of $1 billion today. Spielberg has since gone on to win a reputation as one of the greatest directors in history, but “ET” is most likely to remain his most beloved film.

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1. Star Wars (1977)

The original “Star Wars” tops our list, with a $461 million domestic box office take that translates to $1.8 billion in 2015. Not bad for a movie that faced a huge uphill battle simply to get made. Such major studios as United Artists, Universal and Disney DIS -1.15% all passed on George Lucas’ peculiar little science fiction project, and finally it was 20th Century Fox that grudgingly said yes.

It turned out to be a good decision, as well as a good lesson on the importance of getting in on the ground floor. Walt Disney, one of the original naysayers, bought George Lucas’ production company, Lucasfilm, in 2012 for over $4 billion, considerably more than they would have had to pay if they had just said yes to the first movie, whose budget was $11 million. Their first order of business is a new trilogy of sequels, which starts in December 2015 with “Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens.”

Of course, if they had just said “yes” to the first movie, they would have had a ground floor opportunity to own the whole enchilada, but hey — better six episodes late than never.

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Have been grown up!

“The day the child realizes that all adults are imperfect, he becomes an adolescent; the day he forgives them, he becomes an adult; the day he forgives himself, he becomes wise.”

 

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1.
when you need reasons to smile!

2.
When your parents stop worrying about your safety and you start worrying about theirs.

3.
You wish you were a kid.

4.
When you know in your heart that no one is coming to rescue you or save the day. Success or failure, it’s all up to you.

5.
The first time you use the phrase, “When I was your age …”

6.
When you realise you’ve still got heaps to learn. Most 17 year olds know everything. Most 87 year olds think they still have a lot to learn…

7.
You feel ashamed asking money from your parents.

8.
You start keeping check on the money you spend.

9.
When the famous actors/actresses/singers/celebrities are younger than you.

10.
You realize everything your mom ever said is true.

11.
When you fall asleep on the couch and then wake up on the couch.

12.
You stop having nightmares about monsters, and start having nightmares about bills, employment and obligations!

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ModCloth Staffer Cryss Moonlights As a Pinball Pro

Sure, you’ve seen snapshots of our employees on our blog and Instagram, but have you ever wondered what makes them tick? Today, we’re focusing on a fab ModEmployee that makes ModCloth the amazing place that it is.

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A Book DIY Project Your BFF Will Love


It’s starting to feel a lot like fall here in Pittsburgh, which makes me want to sip warm drinks and laugh with my bestie, Alicia. The problem is, she lives across the country, and we don’t get to see one another as much as we’d like. That’s where this project comes in!

With September being National Literacy Month, the ModCloth Charitable Giving Committee hosted a book sale featuring all the thrifted hardcovers we used on our Geek Chic photo shoot back in July. All the proceeds were donated to the Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council. I’m not an avid reader, but in the interest of helping a good cause, I decided to use one of the books in a new way — as a super-fancy case for a fall mix I’ll send my friend in California. Check out the tutorial, and use your imagination — what other little presents could you package in this clever box? -Marne O., Photo Producer

Supplies:

Old hardcover book (deep enough for a cassette)
Ruler
Scissors
Craft paper (or a paper grocery bag, like I used)
Photo corners
Sharp craft knife
Mod Podge
Sponge or brush
Pencil
Washi tape
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Reaction GIFs That Work Overtime

We love versatile styles — pieces that can pull their weight during the work week and fit in flawlessly on a night out with friends. And the same goes for GIFs. These little looping images are the perfect way to add panache to an email or text thread, but what if you don’t want to sweat the storage space to save a gazillion GIFs for every occasion? Focus on ones that do double duty! We found GIFs to suit some familiar work and play scenarios — check ‘em out, and share your fave reaction GIFs (and the moments they capture) in the comments below!

When you’re leaving for lunch, and your song comes on in the elevator.
OR
When you’re about to leave the party, but your song comes up on the playlist.

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LG G4 preview: Fashion and firepower collide in a flagship

Between LG and the rest of the leakers running wild these last few weeks, there’s not a whole lot we didn’t know about the G4 before today. Screen details? Leather? Word of that sweet, sweet f/1.8 camera lens? Common knowledge, dear friends. Now that LG’s G4 has crossed the boundary between leak and actual, honest-to-goodness product, though, let’s take a quick first look at how those elements — and quite a few more — have come together in the company’s finest flagship.​

To recap what we already know: You’ll be able to buy a G4 next month with three different rear finishes: the leather we’ve all seen, a white (ceramic-coated) back and a hammered, “Metallic Craft” look that’s actually just textured plastic. Pick up a G4 with that latter, plastic back and it’ll feel instantly familiar, like a very slightly curved G3 (for extra durability, natch), or a flattened-out G Flex2. Trust me, though: If you’re in the market for one of these things, you’re going to want one clad in LG’s vegetable-tanned leather. The company’s event invitation showed off its fashionista ambitions to anyone interested, but it’s even more handsome in person. We spent most of our time pawing a G4 with a deep caramel-colored leather back — it was sturdy and unyielding, with less springiness than the leather you’ll find on the back of the 2014 Moto X. To hear LG’s brass tell the tale, it takes a full three months to convert a cow’s skin into a cover for your phone, and some fetching stitching with Gütermann thread acts as icing on the cake.

Hands-on with the LG G4

There’ll be four colors at launch — beige, black, sky blue and yellow — and LG plans to have more on the market in time to match your jaunty summer outfits. Frankly, they can’t come soon enough. While the bog-standard G4 feels purely all right, the tester units clad in leather felt absolutely phenomenal, not to mention a little thinner than their cousins. I know that’s ridiculous. At 76mm wide, and with its 5.5-inch “Quantum” quad HD display — more on that later — the G4 will completely fill all but the meatiest of palms. Still, the G4’s gently sloping back settles much more comfortably into your hand when it’s decked out in cowhide.

Now, about that screen. LG’s channeling the world of arcane science with its Quantum IPS screen, a 4K panel that plays nice with the film industry’s DCI color standard. To date you’ve had to shell out thousands of dollars for DCI-compliant reference monitors (if you’re in broadcasting, anyway), but LG was eager to bring that sort of accuracy to our pockets. The “quantum” angle is almost prohibitively complex, but no worries — it means the screen has very accurate red, blue and green light sources all the while looking better outside and sipping more conservatively on power. So how does it actually look? At first glance, it wasn’t immediately or necessarily better, just… different. Seeing an image of fresh, ripe strawberries on a G4 and a Galaxy S6 was perhaps the most telling example — they looked purely red on LG’s display, instead of the slightly out-there orange cast they took on thanks to the S6’s super-saturated AMOLED screen. Alas, we reporters were stuck in a not terribly well-lit meeting room with these things, so stay tuned for more impressions to come.

I’ve given LG plenty of props in the past for reining in its once-overwrought interface and shaping it into something more reasonable, but after spending plenty of time using Samsung’s Galaxy S6, I find myself wishing LG had used an even lighter touch this time around. Even with that said, there’s not a whole lot to dwell on here: The version of Android 5.0 Lollipop baked into the G4 is awfully similar to the one I encountered on the Flex2, save for just a few small touches. Remember how you could close your hand in front of the front-facing camera to trigger a selfie? Well, now if you clench your fist twice, the camera will snap four selfies in quick succession to make sure at least one of them looks good. LG has also cozied up to Google more here than it has before, replacing its stock browser with Chrome, preloading Google Office and giving G4 owners 100GB of Google Drive space free for two years. The end result is a bright, light, Material Design-y version of Android to dig into, but one that can still feel a little clumsy. Still, the hexa-core Snapdragon 808 and 3GB of RAM thrumming inside the G4 did a fine job keeping things running smoothly, and app launches and operation were as fast — if not a little faster in some cases — than Samsung’s own flagships.

Sadly, we didn’t get a great handle on some of the G4’s most notable features. Take the camera, for instance — LG built it from the ground up with a 16-megapixel sensor and an f/1.8 lens around the back, which the company gleefully calls the brightest available in a smartphone. Throw in faster laser autofocus, RAW support and a color spectrum sensor that helps Auto mode scan and adjust to the colors and lighting of your subject and you’ve got a pretty powerful pocket camera. Too bad the inside of our meeting room didn’t offer many vistas to shoot; what photos I did snap were crisp and well-exposed, but keep an eye out for some more nuanced impressions when we get our review unit.

LG teamed up with Qualcomm to dramatically boost positioning performance, too, and they claim the system is twice as accurate as phones using a more “conventional platform.” That’s all thanks to how the G4 leans on the gyrometer and other built-in sensors for extra locational context. It sure sounds good, and Google Maps locked onto the hotel we were in quickly, but we’ll see how well this really works soon. I’m also not entirely sure why LG gave up on Qualcomm’s QuickCharge tech after I fell in love with it in the G Flex2. Sure, the G4 has a removable 3,000mAh battery, but I’d still love to juice the thing up in a jiffy, wouldn’t you?

Whew, okay. LG’s done well in crafting a very handsome flagship smartphone that smartly addresses the shortcomings of its direct predecessors, and I suspect a decent chunk of people will take a shine to this thing. Still, I can’t shake the feeling that LG might have played it a little safe this time. The camera improvements were a logical next step; just like the chipset choice was; just like the Flex2-y design was (leather experiments notwithstanding). All told, the G4 is a lovely device — just not an immediately thrilling one. Maybe, like the leather stuck on the thing’s back, this phone will only get better with time. Stay tuned for our full review to find out.

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