Creative Alternatives to Christmas Gift Wrappers and Decorations to Use at Home

Christmas is around the corner, and because Singapore is coming to life with the spirit of the holidays, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t up the ante with your own ideas for gift wrappers and decorations this year.

However, you don’t always have to buy new ones every year – or even at all. Follow this guide for some awesome ideas for gift wrappers and decorations you can easily use.

Gift Wrappers
No need to rush to the department store – here are a few creative ideas for gift-wrapping that you can do with materials that you already have at home:

1. Recycled Cloth
Recycled cloth is can be just as ornate as any store-bought gift wrapper when paired with a color-coordinated ribbon, but cord or twine would also do just fine, especially when it comes to gift-wrapping wine bottles.

2. Music Sheets
Music sheets will always be a favorite for paper gift bags, if you or the recipient of the gift has a penchant for playing sweet tunes.

3. Newspaper/Magazine
Who knew two sheets of newspaper, cardstock, and cord would also make for interesting wrapping with the eye-catching headlines and fonts?

4. Gift Card Envelopes
Origami paper and paper doilies are a great way to give your gift envelopes a unique and more personal touch.

Decorations
In lieu of a Christmas tree and store-bought decorations, there are many ways you can spruce up your home for the holidays without rushing to the department store or straining your budget too much. Here are some ways you can do that:

1. Book Trees
If you have too many books at home to count, you can arrange them into a Christmas tree of your own and string lights around them to light up your living room. Just be careful to not rip out their pages.

2. Music Sheets
Music sheets aren’t just great as gift wrappers – they can also be versatile as decorations that you can separate into separate sheets and hang as banners on the wall for a more musically-themed December.

3. Mirror Trees
Stack anything from old shoeboxes of the same color to books of different sizes to form a triangular half of a Christmas tree, and let the mirror do the rest. This is perfect if you prefer to add a slice of optical illusions to your quirky holiday decor.

4. Old Picture Frames
Picture frames can also be a great way to add to the Christmas cheer – you can paint them in any combination of bright colors that you want, or even add photos of past Christmas celebrations if you’re the nostalgic type.

(Disclaimer: This list is compiled in no particular order.)

Cultivating Productivity

It’s almost the end of the year and you feel like you want to do a little more next year. You’ve probably realized that although you’ve done a lot, you would rather be able to do more. Whether it be reading more, focusing more on your health and fitness, doing better at work, or generally becoming a better person, you’ve realized that you have to be more productive.

Now, productivity is a hard trait to cultivate especially when you’ve already had quite a heavy and well packed routine. Sad to say, what you need to do is to get rid of those small things that make it unproductive. Whether it be spending too much time on your phone, listening to too much music, taking a longer time deciding on what to wear, or any task that is useless, you’ve realized that you have to make the most out of your day in general.

The start of a year usually begins with a New Year’s resolution but then again, what are the certain things you are willing to give up? You see, there are certain tasks that take up more of our time than other less important tasks. For example, you spend at least two hours a day surfing the internet not doing anything that productive and you’ve promised yourself that you’d work on your cooking more next year. Well, maybe it’s time to give up a chunk of your time in surfing the internet for quality time in the kitchen. Another way for you to really maximize your time is to organize your kitchen for you to be able to cook more efficiently knowing where everything is and where everything should be. The last way for you to be able to maximize your time is to prepare in advance everything you can so when you start to cook, you wouldn’t have to spend a huge chunk of your time preparing everything.

See? With a simple example, there are so many ways for you to be able to cultivate productivity. Sad to say, this does not happen overnight. Instead, this happens over discipline. Focus your time and effort on cultivating a disciplined habit rather than motivating yourself to be productive. Let’s face it, sometimes we just run out of motivation. But when we have the right amount of discipline within us, no matter how unenthusiastic we feel, we will always be able to do what we have to do.

Productivity is something we should all learn to cultivate. Sadly, we do not have the luxury of time. This is why we have to make every second count!

Avoid Drinking too Much

It’s okay to have fun but then again, there will always be limitations. Well, none of us like the feeling of waking up after a long night of having too much to drink. Also, none of us enjoy the struggle of having to go to sleep without a clear head.

Drinking is a great way to socialize and to relieve stress but once you’ve drank too much, it would be hard for you to make the right decisions and you might even do something you’d regret in the long run. You should always drink responsibly.

Here are a few ways for you not to drink too much:

1. Eat Beforehand
It is never a good idea to go out drinking on an empty stomach. Not only is this bad for your health, this also makes you weaker and more vulnerable to alcohol which would mean that you would get drunk easier. Have a good healthy meal before you start drinking. Make sure to eat at least an hour before you start drinking to make sure that you are not full anymore and that your digestion is ready for it.

2. Drink Water
Keep yourself hydrated while you are drinking. Drinking water along with whatever other beverage you are drinking does not only keep you hydrated, it also stops you from drinking too much. The advisable amount of water you should take is the same amount with the liquor you are drinking. Keeping it at a fair ratio helps you stray away from the urge of drinking too much since your stomach is already kind of full.

3. Self-control
Last but not the least, once you feel like you’ve had enough, stop. There’s no need to push yourself beyond your limits which would obviously not end up well for you later on that night. Know when you’ve had enough or maybe even when to take a break is something you should cultivate. It is never healthy to drink more than you can take.

We’re not saying that you shouldn’t maximize the night you are out with friends or family, all we are saying is to take control and keep yourself safe when you are having fun. It might be hard for some to control their drinking habits because of constant negligence but once you’ve cultivated a very healthy and strict self-discipline, you’ll be able to maximize the fun you’re having while minimizing the risks and damage done to your body. Too much of something is never good for us. The only way for us to fully enjoy what we are doing is not by taking it to the extreme but by balance.

How to Take Painkillers Safely

Painkillers are our best friends because they are cheap and are readily available at the nearest pharmacy whenever we have headaches, menstrual cramps, toothaches, and body pain. But this friend becomes a silent killer when taken too often and at wrong doses, so it’s not unusual to hear news about cases of overdoses and addiction.

So how can you use painkillers safely without overdosing or getting too dependent?

Types of Painkillers
There are three types of painkillers or analgesics that can be brought over the counter or given only with a prescription from the doctor. Painkillers can be taken through the mouth in the form of tablets, capsules, and liquids; administered through injection; applied topically using ointments and creams; or given to the patient as suppositories.

1. Paracetamol
Paracetamol is valued for its mild or non-existing side effects, but this is a misconception because you can overdose on paracetamol. There are sad cases of overdosing which led to liver failure after taking paracetamol at high quantities over a long period of time. People who experience chronic pain such as migraine should be careful not to become too dependent on painkillers for relief.

2. Aspirin and NSAIDs
Aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are recommended for mild to moderate body pains and is also used to lower temperature and relieve inflammation. These are prescribed to people who suffer common ailments such as fever, headache, dysmenorrhea, arthritis, trauma, and others. Aspirin is valued for its blood-thinning effects and antipyretic qualities, but be careful not to exceed the daily maximum dosage of aspirin because they can cause stomach ulcers. NSAIDs on the other hand are used for musco-skeletal pain and are distinct from steroids. You should never combine NSAIDs with other NSAIDs, however, because an overdose can also cause stomach ulcers. Examples of NSAIDs are naproxen, ibuprofen, and diclofenac.

3. Opioids
Opioids are used to treat chronic pain and specifically target the opioid receptors in the spinal cord and brain. They can be combined with other painkillers to target different receptors and are classified based on their overall effect. Low-efficacy opioids are used for light to moderate pain, but it can cause sedation. Moderate-efficacy opioids are recommended for treating moderate pain, but should never be taken with other medication for the central nervous system, alcohol, sedatives, and sleeping pills. Strong-efficacy opioids are usually given to the person by injection to relieve severe pain, but should never be combined with other opioids because of the nasty side effects. Examples of opioids are codeine, dihydrocodeine, oxycodone, morphine, tramadol, and pethidine.

How to Take Painkillers Properly
Remember the following points when taking painkillers, especially if you’re suffering from chronic pain:

• Always consult your doctor and follow instructions carefully.
• Never combine drugs or switch to another painkiller without asking your doctor.
• Don’t wait until the pain becomes too severe to start taking your medication.
• Take note of all the side effects of the medication.
• Don’t drink or smoke when you’re on medication.
• Don’t hoard medicine and throw away expired drugs.

Treatment Procedures for Acne

Acne is one of the most common skin illnesses, but is also one of the most difficult to treat. For a dermatologist to devise a treatment plan, the patient must understand its different causes and why some people are more susceptible to acne than others.

Causes of Acne
The different types of acne are caused by a person’s overactive sebaceous glands that produce excessive amounts of oil. But that is not the only factor the dermatologist looks into; genetics, hormonal changes, stress, and medication can also contribute to acne. To add to the confusion, there are also several myths that pertain to the cause of acne such as eating sweet and oily food and having poor hygiene, but acne is not affected by the food you eat or how often you wash your face.

Different Acne Treatments
Fortunately, there are many ways to treat acne effectively based on the severity of the case. That is why it’s important to get the help of a dermatologist so that the person with acne doesn’t end up experimenting with different creams, ointments, toners and cleansers that will only aggravate the problem. Not all acne treatments will work one every skin type and severity of the condition, but mild acne cases can be treated with products that do not need prescription.

1. Mild Acne Treatment. For those with mild blemishes such as blackheads, whiteheads, pustules and papules, products with salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide are recommended. Continuous treatment from 4 to 8 weeks is needed, however, before you can see any improvement on your skin.

2. Moderate to Severe Acne Treatment. Moderate to severe acne made up of cysts or nodules cannot be treated with over-the-counter medication and ointments. For such cases, you will need a prescription from the dermatologists and undergo other special treatments to avoid scarring.

3. Topical Treatments. Topical treatments, or ointments and creams that are applied to the skin, are used to kill bacteria that aggravate the skin condition. The ointments and creams usually contain retinoid, antibiotic, or prescription-strength salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide that kill bacteria and reduce oil production. If you’re also suffering from dandruff too, your dermatologist will also prescribe medicated shampoo to treat the condition.

4. Prescribed Medication. The dermatologist will also prescribe medication that will treat swollen and red acne not just found on your face, but those that affect other parts of the body such as the back, chest, and neck. Medication that are prescribed for cysts and nodules are antibiotics that reduce the inflammation and kill bacteria. Others recommend isotretinoin and/or birth control pills that will work on your hormones.

5. Other Procedures. Other treatment procedures might also be performed if you have a severe case of acne. Chemical peels are specially-formulated by the dermatologists to remove papules and blackheads. Acne removal is the drainage and extraction of cysts that did not respond to medication. Lastly, laser and light therapies are designed to target the P. acnes bacteria on your skin.

What You Need to Know About the Korean 10-Step Skincare Routine

Korean skincare has been popular recently, with avid followers coming from neighboring Asian countries and the rest of the world. In Singapore, for instance, it’s not uncommon to see Korean beauty shops in major shopping districts. More and more people flock there over the weekend to buy some of the best-selling products they offer, which are directly shipped from Korea.

The thing is, we all have different skin types and condition. Finding an ideal routine may then be difficult to do, especially if you don’t know where to start. This is why getting acquainted with the basics can be of great help. If you are seriously considering to get into Korean skincare and beauty, this brief go-to article will provide you a run through over the popular Korean 10-step skincare routine — devised to address a myriad of skincare issues.

The 10-step skincare routine
1. Oil cleanser – Using an oil-based cleanser is encouraged since the product can cater to all skin types. The oil in the cleanser also breaks up all the accumulated dirt and make-up residue left on your face throughout the day.

2. Water-based/foam cleanser – One cleanse isn’t merely enough. A second facial cleanse is your ticket to ensuring there is no dirt and cosmetic residue left on your face. It is important to keep your face truly clean.

3. Exfoliator – This is used weekly to exfoliate dead skin cells. The first three steps together maximize the effect of the succeeding steps in this skincare treatment.

4. Toner – The toner balances out the pH levels of your skin. Thus, it prepares the skin to effectively take in the benefits of the other products used.

5. Essence – This is one concentrated yet watery formula which promotes fast cell-turnover rate. As a result, it prevents the occurrence of wrinkles and other facial lines.

6. Serum – The product is notably more concentrated than an essence. It contains active ingredients to address specific skin-related problems. Serums are often water-based, so they penetrate deeper than a moisturizer too.

7. Face hydrating mask – A cloth mask is soaked in serum which can bring benefits to one’s skin, such as giving collagen levels a boost and brightening the skin in general. These sheets are often left on the face for about 15 minutes.

8. Eye cream – Though the cream is highly concentrated, it is still gentle so as not to irritate the extremely sensitive eye area. It is used to combat aging and dark circles and to moisturize the face.

9. Moisturizer – Moisturizers are often mistaken as serums, but the big difference between them is that moisturizers help retain the skin’s moisture even after it has hydrated the skin.

10. Sunscreen – Last but not the least, sunscreen is applied on the face to protect it from the harmful UV rays and also to prevent premature aging.

BB Cream vs. CC cream: How Are They Different?

Using a BB cream or a CC cream became a recent beauty trend which rose to popularity in South Korea and neighboring countries such as Singapore and Japan. It has been dubbed as the ‘miracle product’, considering its many benefits to the skin. Cosmetic lovers continuously patronize the product, opting beauty brands to manufacture creams of their own.

Regardless, figuring out which cream is best for your beauty needs can be confusing especially if you’re new to cosmetic trends. So how do you exactly figure out what to choose between a BB cream or a CC cream? One way is to know what they’re for and figure out if the product can cater to your skin needs.

BB Cream
The BB cream, or Beauty Balm cream/ Blemish Balm cream, is considered to be a jack of all trades in cosmetics. They serve as a face primer, foundation, sunscreen, and moisturizer — all packed in one! It also helps that they possess anti-aging properties and collagen enhancers, which keeps the skin rejuvenated and youthful-looking.

The product is a bit heavier (in comparison with CC cream), and it is mostly designed for people with dry skin. It also focuses on the prevention of fine lines and wrinkles on the face as well as maintaining the natural vigor of your skin. Although the BB cream is guaranteed to give your skin a quick boost, they still do not have the very same impact as applying separate products like face serum, sunscreen, and moisturizer on the face.

CC Cream
CC cream stands for Complexion Correcting or Color Correcting cream. The product generally provides great coverage. While it has the same primary properties as that of the BB cream, it is noted to focus better on skin care. Thanks to its color-correcting ingredients, it can as well resolve age spots, wrinkles, and uneven skin tones.

In contrast with BB cream, the CC cream is actually a tad lighter which makes it better for skin types which are prone to acne breakouts. It focuses on concealing existing facial issues like pimples, light scars, and other forms of fine lines. Regardless, the product does not come in a variety of shades — so it cannot flawlessly cover imperfections at all times.

Bottom line: there is actually no major difference between the two products. They generally work the same as you apply it on the face, but the main catch is, they cater to specific skin types which you are better off taking into account if you want to take advantage of the benefits. BB creams are often heavier and suitable for combination and dry skin, while CC creams are much lighter and best suited for oily, acne-prone, and pigmented skin.