Author Archives: Susan Wang

6 Things That Happen When You Stop Using Nail Polish

nail polish

I gave up biting my nails 3 years ago after seeing my 4-year-old son chewing away at his own digits. How could I encourage him to break his bad habit if I didn’t do the same? But with biting behind me, I became obsessed with polishing my nails to candy-colored perfection. It seemed like a good tradeoff until my youngest son snapped me back to reality: “Ewww, what’s that smell?” he declared, pointing his nose at the polish I was holding. I froze mid-swipe.

That smell was a chemical cocktail of endocrine disruptors and possible carcinogens I wanted nowhere near my kids, let alone my own lungs. After years of slapping on coat after coat of vibrant varnishes, it was time to give my nails a break. Along the way, I discovered a couple of other benefits to letting my nails go naked.

Your Nails Will Get Stronger
Without the glossy distraction, at first it felt like there was a giant spotlight on my finger flaws. My unflattering nail ridges, uneven half-moons, craggy cuticles, and brutally brittle, weak nails glared back at me. But it turns out it wasn’t my naked nails that were to blame for the blemishes; it was all that polish remover. Nails are made of layers of keratin, similar to hair, and although fingernails don’t actually need to breathe, the strong solvents in polish remover dry out the nail and surrounding cuticle, says Dana Stern, a dermatologist and nail specialist in New York City. “With frequent exposure, the nail can become more prone to peeling, splitting, and general surface irregularities.” Gel polishes may be even worse. A study out of the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine used ultrasounds to demonstrate that gel manicures cause nail thinning.

Nails Lose That Yellowish Undertone
Another thing I noticed when I ditched the polish was how yellow my nails looked. According to Stern, continuous polishing can be to blame for this unsightly shade of yellow. Fortunately, just like cutting back on coffee and red wine makes your pearly whites whiter, a varnish vacation lets nails get back to their natural healthy hue. After only 1 week, mine lost that jaundiced look.

Those Rough White Patches Disappear
When you keep polish on for a long time, the keratin granulation can cause white patches and surface irregularities to appear on the nail, notes Stern. Basically, too much polish and remover strips the superficial layers of the nail, leaving a roughed-up mess. Keeping nails free and clear gives those chalky blotches a chance to fade or grow out.

You Lower Your Chemical Load
There’s a reason mommies-to-be skip manicures. A lot of nail polishes are a chemical cocktail of ingredients tied to miscarriages, birth defects, cancer, and lung diseases, and it’s not just the toxic trio of formaldehyde, toluene, and dibutyl phthalate that’s to blame. A joint study by Duke University and the Environmental Working Group found that another common polish chemical, triphenyl phosphate (a hormone disruptor linked to early-onset puberty and obesity), can actually be absorbed by the body.

You Get a More Accurate Window into Your Health
Did you know that nails are like a window into your health? Changes in your nails—think discoloration, thickening, or changes in nail shape—can signal rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, liver problems, heart disease, and even vitamin deficiencies. Polish-free nails give you and your doctor a clearer window into your health.

Naked Nails Can Still Stand Out + Be Stylish

buffed nails

After a week of being annoyed by my exposed, naked nails, I discovered something that changed everything: a buffer. Rubbing back and forth with the four-sided tool (start with the rough side and work your way down) gives nails a high-gloss finish as shiny as any clear polish. Top nails with cuticle oil or a dab of coconut oil and—presto!—natural beauty at its best.

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8 Secrets Every Nutritionist Knows (And You Should, Too)

Learn these healthy eating secrets that every nutritionist knows.

We asked a panel of nutritionists to disclose their must-know, insider tips about healthy eating. Here’s what they had to say:

1. The one thing that matters more than what you eat is…
“People get fixated on what they eat, but how much you eat matters so much more,” says Lisa Young, PhD, RD, nutrition professor at New York University and author of The Portion Teller. In other words, you can have everything in moderation—but it’s all too easy to overshoot that ¾-cup serving of cereal or 2 tablespoon glug of salad dressing. “Keep a food diary for a week or two and do your best to measure how much you’re having,” Young says. “Measure out one cup of cereal so you don’t pour yourself three cups.”

Another portion control minefield are restaurants. “Don’t expect yourself to control those portions by just putting your knife and fork down,” says Hope Warshaw, RD, author of Eat Out Eat Well. “Practice portion control from the point you place your order. Don’t feel compelled to order an entrée. Choose from healthier appetizers, soups, salads, and small plates instead.”

2. The one food that you should be eating but may not be…
One thing’s for sure: We’ve been bombarded by lots of anti-carb rhetoric over the years. “But not all carbohydrates are evil,” says Gina Consalvo, an RD based in Pennsylvania. “In fact, some are essential. The carbs in fiber-rich whole grains provide your body with its preferred source of energy. They’re also high in phytonutrients, which help fight off disease, and high in fiber, which is filling and helps with portion control and blood sugar management.” Plus, research shows that whole grain fiber may have a unique ability to protect against chronic disease—perhaps even more so than vegetable fiber.

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5 Ridiculously Tasty Warm Winter Smoothies

pear ginger smoothie

News flash: You’ve been making your winter smoothie recipes wrong. No judgment, but who really wants to choke down a cold and frosty drink when they’re already shivering? Not us. That’s why we whipped up these 5 warm, comforting, and super-filling blends packed with seasonal produce and spices. Consider them creamy, cleaned-up alternatives to hot cocoa. Pro tip: If you’re taking these drinks to go, sip them from an insulated travel mug to keep them warm. All recipes make one meal-worthy blend or two snack-size smoothies.

WARNING! Hot liquids create steam and thus pressure in your blender, so be sure to vent the lid (holding it down while blending) and start the blender on a low setting.

Warm Pear-Ginger Smoothie

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8 Ways You’re Still Eating Trans Fat When You Think You’re Not

8 ways you are still eating trans fats

Did you know that trans fats are pretty much now illegal in packaged foods? Yep, it’s true: Last summer, the FDA finally took action and ruled that the fats, which lower good cholesterol, raise bad cholesterol, and increase risk for heart problems, must be removed from all food products by June 2018.

And while that’s all well and good for Future You, there are still many months before that deadline hits. In the meantime, many foods still harbor dangerous trans fats, even those with a label that says “0 grams trans fat.”

How the heck can that be? Manufacturers are allowed to say a food contains no trans fat if each serving has 0.5 g or less. But eat more than one serving size of, say, chips—and really, who sticks to nine measly chips?—and you could be eating 2 g or more of trans fat in no time, which is over the limit for good health, according to the World Health Organization.

For more proof, peep at this scandalous report from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) that exposes just how many products contain trans fat—more than a quarter of the items in the non-profit’s database of 84,000 grocery store products. Even worse: Some 87% of foods that contain partially hydrogenated oils—the most ubiquitous source of trans fat in our food supply—don’t disclose their trans fat content anywhere on the packaging. (Take back control of your eating—and lose weight in the process—with our 21-Day Challenge!)

How to avoid trans fat? Until 2018, when trans fats finally go the way of the dodo bird, read the ingredients list (where manufacturers can’t lie) and avoid anything that lists partially or fully hydrogenated oils. Here are the eight biggest offenders that are still sneaking trans fat into your diet, plus truly trans-fat-free options to buy instead.

1. Microwave popcorn

microwave popcorn trans fats

Popcorn enjoys a health halo since it’s a whole grain, but what it’s poppedin matters just as much—and microwave popcorn usually comes with lots of trans-fatty oils. The EWG found that some brands had 5 g of trans fat or more per 3-oz bag—more than double what’s recommended by the WHO.

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5 Ways To Cool Down And Keep A Fight From Escalating


You can have every intention of keeping your cool during a fight with your partner, but it’s hard to keep that resolve in the heat of the moment, when—hold on—what did you just say?! No, you listen to me!

“The reason fights escalate is that we’re not really thinking anymore,” says Sharon Rivkin, MA, MFT, a licensed marriage and family therapist in Santa Rosa, CA, and author of Breaking the Argument Cycle. “We get so enraged that we don’t take time to think about what we’re saying. And those moments where we just think without speaking are where damage gets done in a relationship.”

To prevent a spat from doing permanent damage, try the following tips. If you control your emotions, your partner will be more likely to follow suit.

Take a seat.
“It sounds simple-minded, but always make sure you’re seated when having a discussion,” says W. Robert Nay, PhD, a McLean, VA–based clinical psychologist and author of Taking Charge of Anger: Six Steps to Asserting Yourself Without Losing Control. “It sends a message to your brain that you are relaxed,” he adds. Even more effective: If you’re in a heated fight with your partner, try lying down on your bed and continuing the discussion. This position signals safety, security, and rest—it’s an instant rage-quasher.

Tell your body to chill.
Your chest tightens. Your throat feels constricted. Your face grows warm. When you’re angry, adrenaline triggers all of these fight-or-flight responses—making a calm, measured discussion all but impossible. To return your body and mind to neutral state, close your eyes, take a deep breath into your belly, and let it go slowly, counting backward from 10 to 1. “When you breathe like that, it tricks your brain into believing you’re in a much safer place and you need to be in a much lower level of arousal,” Nay says.

Ask questions.
Instead of rushing to strike back when your partner says something outrageous—”You hate spending time with my family!”—ask what they mean, Nay suggests. “Say, ‘Excuse me, I’m confused; could you clarify that?’ Almost always the other person will reframe it and rethink how they staged it.” Also, if you don’t hold your tongue and hear your partner out, you can’t expect him or her to, either.

Take a time out.
When confronted, remember you don’t have to engage immediately. “If you tell yourself, ‘I can take some time to think about what’s going on—I don’t have to express everything I’m feeling right now,’ you can really change the energy,” Rivkin says. And forget that tired adage “don’t go to sleep angry.” Some time spent cooling off is almost always a good thing. The next morning, that argument that seemed like such a big deal the night before may not even be worth revisiting.

Remember you love each other.
“Take a minute to remind yourself, ‘My partner’s a good person. They’re probably not really out to get me,'” says Rivkin. “If you believe this, you can tell yourself, ‘I don’t have to take this all so personally.'”

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4 Ways To Save On Pet Costs

Save Money on Pet Costs

As a doting fur parent, I know pets aren’t cheap. With vet visits, medication costs, and food purchases—not to mention treats and toys—I spend over $5,000 a year on my “kids” alone, a cost that seems to rise each year.

More than half of my fellow pet owners agree, saying they’re shelling out more than they have in previous years. Pets don’t have to cost a fortune, though—here are four tips from experts to keep your wallet (and your pet’s kibble dish) full.

1. Choose a low-maintenance breed.
If you have an active lifestyle, you wouldn’t get an English bulldog, right? (Right.) The next time you pick a new pet, it’s OK to consider budget, too. “Some breeds have more health issues and could be costly,” says Jennifer Welser, chief medical officer with Blue-Pearl Veterinary Partners. For example, Labs are prone to orthopedic issues; bulldogs are susceptible to allergies.

2. Schedule checkups early and often.
It sounds counterintuitive, but routine exams can prevent spending more in the future. Vets can spot small changes, like hidden lumps or bumps, early on so they don’t turn into something more serious, says Welser. Regular exams can also help you bond with the vet and work with her to create a budget-friendly, customized health plan.

Save money on your pets

3. Start a rainy day fund.
Unexpected illnesses (like cancer) and injuries can happen anytime, so set aside some money each month. Another form of forced savings is pet insurance, says Andrea Woroch, consumer savings expert. As with health insurance, you pay a monthly premium to cover certain costly procedures should a pet require them.

4. Spot the savings.
Sites like Groupon and Living Social offer deals on pet sitters, walkers, and boarding facilities. Rover,com lists pet lovers who can take in and watch your pets—complete with reviews and price comparisons. You can also save major money through store reward programs and websites like

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Your Easy Black Friday Hair Tutorial Is Here

Happy week, gang! The holiday season is finally upon us, which means it’s time to eat lots of yummy things, drink lots of yummy things, and, of course, shop a little (did we mention our Black Friday sale is happening NOW?). For those of you waking up at the crack of dawn this Black Friday, we’ve got a no-fuss hairdo to help get you get out the door fast and still greet the crowds feeling glam. Now that’s a hairstyle we can get behind.


Step One: Dry Shampoo

Wake up second-day strands with a couple spritzes of your favorite dry shampoo. Apply it at the roots, around your crown, and behind your ears, but avoid spraying any on your ends.


Step Two: Curl

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9 Traits Optimists Have In Common

traits optimists share

When it comes to the issue of optimism vs. pessimism, public opinion—and science—have long held that optimists have it better. After all, they famously focus on the bright side of things and (according to the dictionary at least) believe that good ultimately predominates over evil in the world. So in 2009, when a study of more than 100,000 over-50 American women proclaimed that optimists live longer, upbeat people everywhere got even more cheery—and pessimists, more grumpy.

Then in 2013 came research saying the opposite: Pessimists are the ones who live longer, because they’re more careful and don’t take the silly risks that those wacky, fun-loving optimists do. While that news probably didn’t make the pessimists any happier (they’re pessimists, after all), optimists, no doubt, chose not to let it get them down.

Confusing? Certainly. So later that same year, the National Institutes of Health published a verdict of sorts on the who-lives-longer debate. Turns out (surprise, surprise), “our survival and wellness require a balance between optimism and pessimism.” Since we here at Preventiondefinitely fall in the “optimism” camp (preventing is all about believing you can keep negative things from happening), we wondered: Are there any qualities optimists really do share?

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4 Natural Foods That Aren’t Really Natural At All

With no FDA definition or standards for use of the term, it’s easy for companies to create the impression of a straight-from-the-farm product. Here are 4 foods that aren’t as “natural” as they claim to be.

Almond Milk
It seems like a win-win: a low-calorie dairy substitute made from one of nature’s nutritional powerhouses. Except there are actually very few almonds in this mostly water beverage, and pretty much none of their natural goodness—including protein, fiber, healthy fat, and antioxidants—survives the processing into “milk.” Instead, what’s added is a whole bunch of fortified nutrients, thickeners and stabilizers like carrageenan, which scientists warn may cause gastrointestinal inflammation. The same goes for rice milk.
Better choice: Coconut milk or real dairy.

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3 Ideas For Festive Holiday Makeup

I love everything about the holidays: exchanging gifts, spending time with loved ones, and most of all, wearing dressier makeup. Whether you’re heading to an office get-together or a black-tie ball, here are 3 holiday makeup tips for flattering and easy ways to shine this season. You can tweak each of these looks to suit your style (subtle or bold) and the soiree. Plus, see quick, easy ideas for day-to-night makeup updates for the holiday party season.

Richly Bejeweled

Jewel tones and festive holiday makeup

Deep jewel tones such as sapphire, magenta, and emerald make eyes pop. Balance this look with a soft mouth.

Subtle style
Sweep a light shadow like champagne or bone over eyelids. Trace the upper lash line with a jewel-toned gel or liquid eyeliner. Try Almay Intense i-Color in Purple Amethyst or Bobbi Brown Shimmer Long-Wear Gel Eyeliner in Denim. Flick on one coat of black mascara. Keep the rest of your face neutral with a flesh-toned lip gloss and pinky brown blush.

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