Truth be told, I am the target consumer when it comes to buying products I don’t need. I’m a sucker for anything on sale, hoard knickknacks like nobody’s business, and always find at least one thing I have to have in the “As Seen on TV” aisle. However, when it comes to wellness, I like to think I’m pretty good at deciphering what’s a worthy investment of my time and money and what’s a passing fad. I’ve spent way too much time geeking out over nutrition studies and ancient medical practices to be wooed by the latest diet or workout class. But I do try a lot of products, and sometimes I don’t expect a product to be as good as it is. Here are eight products that, frankly, seemed silly or unnecessary to me until they totally transformed my health (and might transform yours too).
1. Tongue Scraper
Honestly, I never thought I’d be here, swearing that scraping sh*t off my tongue has transformed my life, but here we are. Tongue scraping means using designated tools to remove extra particles and bacteria from the surface of the tongue. While it has been #trending on social media the past couple of years, it’s nothing new. It’s actually really, really old. Tongue scraping is a practice from Ayurveda, which teaches that we can learn a lot from our tongues.
Besides just reducing bad breath, according to Ayurveda, tongue scraping can stimulate digestion by activating the salivary glands and can even improve immunity because it prevents toxins from being reabsorbed into the body. Call it placebo or call it coincidence, but I swear I’ve gotten sick less often since starting tongue scraping a couple of years ago. Even if that doesn’t sell you on the idea, once you scrape your tongue once and see the ~gunk~ that comes off, you’ll never be able to go a day without scraping again.
2. Ice Roller
Since I’m highly basic, I’ll try just about anything that influencers, aestheticians, and beauty experts recommend on their Instagrams, but this is one of the few things that has made a lasting impact on my life. A couple of years ago, it seems like everyone was rolling their face with an ice roller, which promised a reduction in puffiness, smaller pores, and less inflammation. While I do believe that all of these things are true, the benefits for me didn’t stop at a glowy complexion. It is one of my go-to hangover cures to decrease overall puffiness and soothes headaches when I roll on my temples (soothing AF!). Also, you know those days when you decide to do an inner thigh workout after not lifting a weight for months? An ice roller helps soothe even the sorest muscles and feels so satisfying.
3. Blue-Light Glasses
Like most of the workforce in the 21st century, I stare at a screen from morning to night. 2020 didn’t help screen usage, now that meetings are over Zoom and happy hours are over Facetime. I used to get consistent headaches and chalked it up to tension or allergies. When blue-light glasses (or lenses that block the blue light exposure from screens) became popular, I obviously had to get them for myself (read: basic). After just a few days, I immediately noticed my headaches had gone away, as well as eye dryness and strain. Now, my blue-light glasses are as essential to my workday as a cup of coffee and a killer playlist to keep spirits high, stress low, and headaches at bay.
4. Facial Massage Tools
Facial massage has become such a part of my life that I literally crave it and find myself randomly rubbing out my cheeks and jawline without even noticing. Everyone has their weird ticks, right? The practice has made my skin glowier, reduced inflammation, and even prevented/healed breakouts when I’m really consistent. I used to go to town with my Gua Sha in the mornings so my face is de-puffed and sculpted for the entire day, but I started Gua Sha-ing at nighttime instead as a relaxation technique.
I used to think facial massage meant under the eyes, along the cheekbones, etc., to sculpt the face. But I’ve learned the neck and shoulders are just as important, if not more important. I Gua Sha my shoulders and neck at night because it makes me feel like all the tension in my body is immediately released. Try jade rolling, gua sha, or self-massage to reap the physical (and mental) benefits for yourself.
5. Resistance Bands
I’ve never been a big home workout person. In fact, the only reason I started working out years ago was for the lavender-scented cloths, fun music, and the limitless opportunities for chic mirror selfies (barre studios have the ideal I-work-out-but-can-still-look-cute vibe). Also, I live in a studio apartment, so any hopes for an at-home gym are completely unrealistic. I want to fill my tiny space with fuzzy blankets and candles, not dumbbell sets. However, I purchased a set of resistance bands since my trendy gyms closed back in March to revive my at-home workout routine, and I have no idea why it’s taken me this long to get on board. They’re good for any exercise, can work any muscle group or body part, and are perfect for traveling because they take up very little space.
6. An “Easy” Blender
Listen, I would love to be the girl with the huge blender. You know the type: the girl who makes her own green juices every morning and blends things like soups or sauces instead of just smoothies. Maybe I just need to step up my soup game or put a little more effort into juicing, but as hard as I try, I swear I just don’t have big blender energy (BBE). I know if I were to get a complicated, legit blender, it would just sit there unused. I need something small enough to fit in my tiny kitchen, easy to clean so I don’t have to think about using it multiple times a day, and that doesn’t feel overly complicated to use.
Enter: a single-serving blender or hand-held blender. My Nutribullet has rocked my world because I can blend a smoothie in the same cup I’ll use to drink it (yay for fewer dishes!) and is small enough to froth up a cup of coffee and almond milk. The lesson here is to find the kitchen tools that work for your lifestyle, preferences, and needs.
7. Superfood Coffee Alternatives
Speaking of coffee, I have a confession: coffee does not make me feel good. Rather than energized, any amount of caffeine makes me feel jittery, weak, and nauseous, but I desperately crave coffee for the ritual and taste. Is there anything more satisfying than a warm cup of coffee in the morning? Thank goodness for the modern wellness world that offers a plethora of “coffee alternatives” that are not only better for you than the high-caffeine and overly-processed coffees of latte past, but are full of superfoods and adaptogens that can bring extra health benefits to your body. I’m all about maximizing health and fitting in as many nutrients as possible, so these alternatives have become delicious replacements to my morning cup of coffee.
8. Foam Roller
I’ve always had tight hip flexors that hurt after every ab exercise or uphill walk (which is an extra bummer because I currently live on a steep hill). My doctor recommended I try foam rolling (a wellness practice I always thought seemed stupid), and my whole body felt better after just a couple days. It came at a good time because my back and hips have felt tighter than ever before, probably because of either: A. I’m getting old, or B. I’ve been doing nothing for seven months except sit on the couch and rewatch Riverdale). It’s one of the few practices that has helped my hip flexors feel better, but my posture gets better the more I roll out my back and shoulders, and overall, I feel lighter and healthier. File “foam roller” under things I was wrong about.