Body News, Health & Fitness, Wellbeing

6 Surprising Health Benefits of Foot Reflexology

When it comes to pain management, there are two types of people in the world: those who grin and bear it, and those who don’t manage it well at all. And the best place to spot these two camps? At any foot reflexology centre, of course! Tan Lili speaks to two co-founders of recently opened parlours to find out why more and more young people are drawn towards this holistic therapy.

If there’s one guilty pleasure I don’t ever wish to give up, it’s gotta be my almost-weekly visit to a foot reflexology centre. I can’t even remember when or how my obsession with this treatment began, but it’s become one of my favourite ways to decompress – and probably the closest I’ve been to experiencing the delicious tension between pain and pleasure.

For the uninitiated, Chinese practitioners believe that the different nerve-rich areas on the soles of your feet correspond to specific parts of your body, so by applying pressure to targeted points, it stimulates the body’s natural healing ability. This helps rebalance the body’s Qi and promote a sense of wellbeing.

Different parts of the feet are said to correspond to different parts of the body.

Different parts of the feet are said to correspond to different parts of the body.

Interestingly, what was once deemed as an ancient 3000-year-old Chinese practice has recently gained a foothold among the younger crowd as a form of modern holistic therapy. Jumping on the bandwagon are The Good Sole at Quayside Isle, and Feet Haven at Serangoon Garden. “I guess the main reason is due to the proximity of various operators and shops,” says Nicholas Poh, co-founder of The Good Sole. “More shops are opening in shopping malls in Singapore and, naturally, they are able to reach out to a wider audience. Not to mention, it has amazing long-term benefits. I’m one who goes for foot reflexology regularly since I was young, and I absolutely love it.”

Below, Nicholas and Dennis Toh, CEO and co-founder of Feet Haven, tell us more about the different health benefits you can enjoy from foot reflexology:

Boosts blood circulation

The skilful techniques of practitioners are said to improve blood flow and circulation, carrying along oxygen and nutrients to your body’s vital organs to promote organ function and cell growth. An improved blood flow and circulation brings with it a whole host of health benefits, some of which can be found below.

reflexologyReduces pain

An experience backed up by countless studies, pressing certain points on the feet prompts the release of endorphins – a class of neurotransmitters that is often referred to as the body’s natural painkillers.

Alleviates insomnia

Because foot reflexology brings about a relaxed state of mind and relieves stress, it can help improve improve the quality of your sleep in the long run. The Good Sole’s Nicholas used to have insomnia but he swears he’s been sleeping like a baby ever since he got hooked on foot reflexology!

Improves digestive system

The digestive system is a pretty complex one; it involves a whole lot of organs and other systems (nervous and endocrine), which is why all of us experiences digestive problems at many points in our lives. There are several digestive reflexes on the feet that, when pressed, give your digestive system a real workout, relieving common problems like constipation, indigestion, flatulence and bloating.

Kicks up energy levels

If feeling sluggish after lunch is a near-daily struggle, you might want to consider getting a foot rub. Exhaustion and fatigue can be due to low blood sugar levels; by working certain points on the feet, it may help regulate the levels over time. Foot reflexology also stimulates the production of adrenaline to give you an instant perk-me-up.

Enhances memory and concentration

When pressure is applied to the brain reflexes on the feet, it helps facilitates blood circulation and the delivery of nutrients to the brain, resulting in increased mental clarity. In fact, a study conducted in China found that foot reflexology helped enhance the memory of senior patients suffering from dementia.

The Good Sole is located at #01-19 Quayside Isle Sentosa Cove, Tel: 6268 4842; Feet Haven Reflexology is located at #01-01, 136 East Coast Road, and 4A Maju Avenue, Serangoon Gardens.

About The Author: A founder of Material World, Tan Lili has previously worked in magazines The Singapore Women’s Weekly and Cosmopolitan Singapore, as well as (now, the online counterpart of Her World). She is now a freelance writer who works on this website full-time. Lili hopes to travel the world, work with wild animals, and discover more awesome Twilight fan-fiction.

Body News, Health & Fitness, Wellbeing

How To Nurture A Positive Body Image

Avoiding negative thoughts about the way you look may not always be easy, but learning to love yourself—inside and out—is a beautiful thing. This article by Canyon Ranch will help you take that all-important first step.


Cultivating a positive body image can be challenging. We are often our own worst critics. When you look in the mirror, you may zero in on one area of your body that you wish was smaller, smoother or just plain different. But chances are you’re the only one being so hard on yourself. The people who love you aren’t looking at your thighs or your crow’s feet—they only see the person who always makes them laugh, the one who cooks magnificent meals and lights up the room with a smile.

Recognizing and celebrating the inner beauty that others see shining through rather than focusing on “fixing” your perceived flaws is an important step toward cultivating a positive body image. Removing the phrase, If only I looked like… from your vocabulary is another. “We all spend huge amounts of time comparing ourselves to others,” says Ann Pardo, M.A., L.P.C., B.C.C., director of life management at Canyon Ranch in Tucson. But in the end, these comparisons often do little more than lead us further down a path of negative thinking, of striving for some unachievable body ideal. So, the next time you notice yourself engaging in self-criticism, consider using these suggestions to shift gears and change course.

1. Focus on You
With the daily barrage of “perfect” bodies we see in magazines and on television, comparisons are all but inevitable. But research shows doing just that can lead to a negative body image. Whenever you catch yourself playing the comparison game, consciously decide to stop. Let your logical brain take over: Remember that no one is perfect—the images you see in magazines have likely been airbrushed and retouched. And don’t forget that everyone is unique; try not to use others as a reference point for who you should or can be.

Try this: Stay away from the mirror if you're not feeling so good about yourself today.

Try this: Stay away from the mirror if you’re not feeling so good about yourself today.

2. Step Away from the Mirror
Constantly checking (and obsessing about) your appearance and perceived physical flaws also reinforces a negative body image. If you find yourself often sneaking a peek at your reflection, consider setting limits. Allow yourself to look in the mirror as you get ready to go out, but only once or twice. If you give yourself fewer opportunities to critique your appearance, you may find that you think less about your looks and spend more time thinking about other things.

3. Look at the Positive!
Self-esteem improves when you begin looking at yourself as the sum of all your parts, not just your looks. This “whole person” approach means not focusing on what you lack, but on everything you have to offer and that you do right. Every few days, jot down a different set of five positive attributes: personal strengths, abilities, achievements, things you admire about yourself and like about your looks, things you did or do well, and so on.

4. Exercise, Eat Well and Pursue Your Passions
Taking care of your health and allowing opportunities for personal fulfillment sends the message—both to others and to yourself—that you are worthy and valued, which helps increase self-esteem. Be sure, however, to think of workouts and your diet as a way to stay healthy, not a means to the perfect body. “Our culture is extremely misinformed about weight and body image,” Pardo says. “Very few people understand that mental and physical fitness are what really matter.”

5. Tweak Your Self-Talk
Listen carefully to what you tell yourself. My skin is horrible. I am uglyHow did I get so fat? Some people are so used to putting themselves down they don’t even realize they do it. But it’s never too late to change the dialogue. Try this: Don’t say anything to yourself that you wouldn’t say to a close friend. Also remember that feelings aren’t facts; just because you may feel unattractive one day doesn’t mean you are. This isn’t easy, especially if you’ve been engaging in negative behaviors for years, but once you learn to recognize the negative self-talk, the next step is to alter it. Make an effort to put a positive spin on whatever you otherwise would have criticized.

6. Dwell on Solutions, not Slip-ups
Focusing too much on mistakes can deal your self-esteem a major blow, Pardo says. If you fall off the diet wagon, for example, don’t label yourself a failure and give up. Instead, consider that the diet you chose may not have been right for you. Explore what went wrong, but in the context of how you can change or do better next time. A mistake or failure is an isolated incident, not indicative of who you are.

Bottom line: “Living in joy and contentment is a much better goal than correctly following some diet based on vanity rather than on self-improvement for the greater good,” Pardo says. Be kind to yourself, and set your sights on happiness, not perfection.

Make Happiness your goal today!

Make Happiness your goal today!

This article was contributed by Canyon Ranch. Canyon Ranch is a pioneer in the field of health and wellness will be bringing its integrative and customized wellness programmes to Treasure Bay Bintan, a resort destination on Bintan island.

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Career, Character & Soul, Health & Fitness, Self-Improvement, Wellbeing

10 Signs You Need A Break – Tan Lili

But if you find yourself agreeing to all 10 of them, Tan Lili reckons you might want to consider going on a year-long sabbatical. 

We may all be busy running the same rat race, but some of us are so hellbent on completing it (haha) that we forget to stop and rehydrate along the neverending journey. Here are 10 telltale signs you need to take a break before it’s too late.

1. You find yourself vacillating between stewing in unbridled rage over non-issues …

Need. To. Strangle.

Need. To. Strangle.

2. … and laughing hysterically for absolutely no reason.

This clicking pen makes the funniest sound!

This clicking pen makes the funniest sound!

3. And heaven forbid last-minute changes to your schedule.

I can't.

I can’t.

4. You live for Beer O’Clock.

Did someone say "beer"!?

Did someone say “beer”!?

5. You’ve forgotten how your best friend looks like.

What she said.

What she said.

6. Instead of counting sheep, you mentally check off your to-do list.

6. Checking off to-do list - check.

6. Checking off to-do list – check.

7. You are seriously considering the feasibility of snorting coffee powder.

Because, why not?

Because, why not?

8. You wish someone could pee on your behalf.

Peeing is so overrated.

Peeing is so overrated.

9. The energy it takes for you to summon up a smile has officially become your way of keeping fit.



10. Vacation pictures make you want to curl into the foetal position and drown in your own pool of tears.



Jokes aside, though, I’m sure you don’t need any reminders about stress and its link to a myriad health problems. Apart from physical illnesses like heart-related diseases and weakened immune system, stress can also lead to mental disorders. “If you don’t end up identifying a method to handle your stress then it eventually can lead to a heightened sense of dysfunction,” says Dr Steve Bressert, author of The Impact of Stress on Psych Central. “This may result in increased anxiety or a sense of depression because you’re not mastering your world.”

Know that taking a break every now and then is a necessity, not a luxury. And I’m not just talking about work; we all need some time away from the hustle and bustle of life to recharge our mind so we can come back and take on the madness with renewed vigour.

About The Author: A founder of Material World, Tan Lili has previously worked in magazines The Singapore Women’s Weekly and Cosmopolitan Singapore, as well as (now, the online counterpart of Her World). She is now a freelance writer who works on this website full-time. Lili hopes to travel the world, work with wild animals, and discover more awesome Twilight fan-fiction.


Health & Fitness, Wellbeing

Habits So Bad, They’re Actually Good For You – Tan Lili

Teetotalers, you may want to reconsider your choices. Don’t quote Tan Lili; this study says it all!

bad habits 2

A 2010 study on the link between alcohol consumption and mortality has resurfaced on the Internet the past couple of weeks. Boy, am I glad for it – and I’m pretty sure some of you would share my sentiment, too!

In a statement that goes against what we were led to believe for a very long time, the findings showed that moderate and even heavy drinkers tend to live longer than those who abstain from alcohol. Here’s a breakdown of the mortality rate of the 1,824 participants aged 55 to 65, over a 20-year period:

Abstainers – 69%
Heavy drinkers – 60%
Moderate drinkers – 41%

These findings have stunned many, even the researchers. One possible explanation for the results is that alcohol is associated with social interactivity, which, in turn, plays a big part in maintaining mental and physical health. But before you break out the bubblies, it’s crucial to note that alcohol has an effect on your brain chemistry, which can lead to a whole host of problems, including dependency. The rule of thumb is to stick to moderate drinking – i.e. no more than three drinks a day. Well, that’s good enough for me!

This study got me curious about other seemingly nasty habits that actually boast certain health benefits. Read on.

Get angry

When channeled appropriately, anger not only results in better decision-making but also keeps your wellbeing in check! By “appropriately”, I mean not lashing out. The trick is to give yourself some time to (A) figure out the trigger; (B) regroup your thoughts; and (C) come up with a course of action. Read this article for more ways to rein in your inner Hulk.

bad habits 3Get (a little) dirty

Mothers, the next time your child gets his hands dirty at the park, STOP FREAKING OUT. A 2012 Finnish study found a link between biodiversity and human health, claiming that immune systems rich in biodiversity – be it because you are constantly surrounded by biodiversity or because of the microbes on your skin and in your stomach – are more resilient and, therefore, at a lower risk of allergic, inflammatory and autoimmune conditions. This is all due to the primary role of our immune system – to detect and distinguish pathogens from harmless, healthy tissue. For the role to function properly, our immune system needs to be exposed to a wide range of organisms early in life. We old folks may have missed that window, but it’s still not too late for our kids.

On the same note, keeping your house overly sanitised means destroying all the nasty and harmless germs, which makes way for more serious strains to invade the environment. In other words, a little messiness is not a bad thing! (I hope you’re reading this, Mum.)

F**k, yeah!

Separate studies found that swearing can provide short-term relief from pain as well as help employees better cope with stress and develop team solidarity. Not suggesting we should start cursing like a sailor, of course – the pain relief was significantly less apparent for those who swear a hell lot. So, as with all indulgences, swear in moderation, my friends.

Sleep in on weekends

My love for my bed has never changed all these years. Turns out, my bed loves me back! Sleeping in on weekends has been found to boost your immune system, improve your memory, reduce stress as well as help you live longer. Interestingly, a recent study also proved that those who wake up to an alarm are three times more likely to be overweight than those who wake up naturally to their body’s internal clock – relying on the former messes up with your sleep schedule, which causes you to eat at irregular times and slow your metabolism.

Drink your kopi

See, I knew Garfield was an excellent role model. Two to three cups of coffee a day can actually help lower the risk of depression by 15% in women, revealed a recent study. Not only that, coffee is rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, which may help protect against chronic diseases like Parkinson’s disease, diabetes and cancer. Now, excuse me while I make myself my third cup of coffee for the day.

About The Author: A founder of Material World, Tan Lili has previously worked in magazines The Singapore Women’s Weekly and Cosmopolitan Singapore, as well as (now, the online counterpart of Her World). She is now a freelance writer who works on this website full-time. Lili hopes to travel the world, work with wild animals, and discover more awesome Twilight fan-fiction.

Health & Fitness, Wellbeing

I’m No Longer Hostage to Fluctuations In My Weight … and Happier For It – Denise Li

Why do so many of us allow a number on the scale to dictate our happiness, wonders Denise Li.


Despite telling myself I will avoid doing so, I stepped on the scale this morning. The number was slightly higher than when I first arrived in Belgium a few weeks ago. Previously, this would have precipitated a full-blown freakout on my part: Vowing to cut out sugar and dessert, making sure I work out more than usual, going on an insane guilt trip every time I put food into my mouth, etc.

But today, I found myself calmly assessing the situation.

Since arriving in Belgium three weeks ago, I have encountered, eaten and drank copious amounts of the following:

1. Fries and mayo

2. BEER!

3. Fries and creamy hot sauce

4. Chocolate

5. More chocolate

6. Giant-ass waffles

7. Deep fried sausages

8. Fries and some unidentifiable sauce

9. A snack known as bitterballen (deep fried balls with an oozing liquid centre … yes, I laugh every time I eat it too cos I’m mature like that)

I also happen to be with a man who has made it his mission to keep me well-fed during the six weeks I’m here (“We know what happens when you get hangry …” he says), and we’re not impervious to the “happy couple weight gain”.

As I ran through in my head all the factors that made me gain weight, I found myself doing something I have never done before: Shrug it off.

Why? Because I refuse to let a number on the scale dictate my happiness. Because I know my body well enough to know that the weight gain is temporary, and that it will go back to what it was when I return to Singapore and revert to my usual schedule and workout routine. Because I know that the number on the scale really doesn’t mean that much in the grander scheme of things: I am still keeping myself healthy through regular exercise and MMA training. Because I know I really don’t want to give up Flemish stews with bottomless fries and chocolate just so I can be at my perceived “ideal” weight on the scale.

It’s funny how one little number can rule over so many of our life choices. I spoke to someone recently who had established a pretty good workout routine. She was incorporating a lot of weight training, in addition to regular cardio workouts. From how she described it, it was a really well-rounded training routine that I believe more women should do. The problem? She had just decided to stop weight training because it was causing her to gain weight.

I had experienced the exact same thing a few years ago and I know how demoralising and scary it can be. When I first started working out a few years ago, I started bulking up two months after I’d started my thrice-a-week muay thai training regime. A lot of clothes suddenly didn’t fit. When you’ve finally committed to a regular exercise regime, putting on weight – the opposite effect of what you’d wanted – is really the last thing you need. It is downright discouraging. But I decided to stick with my regime, and a couple of months later, I leaned out. The reason for the initial weight gain was because I gained muscle before I lost fat. I think this is especially true for a lot of women.

A lot of people have asked me how I manage to stick to my workout regime. It really comes down to this: I don’t plan my workouts based on numbers on a weighing machine. The number on the machine doesn’t tell you: How fit you are; your proportion of fat to muscle; whether you are able to complete your first 5k, or survive a gruelling session of boxing training. Once you realise this, you’ll find OTHER reasons to work out:  For the love of it, for the increased levels of energy, or because it helps build mental toughness, for instance. These will be the reasons that’ll motivate you to stick to your workouts over the long run.

About the Author: Denise Li is a founder of Material World and a freelance writer-editor. Before that, she spent a few years in the Features section of CLEO and Cosmopolitan Singapore. She considers Chiang Mai her spiritual home and makes it a point to head there for a yearly pilgrimage. She’s also a fitness buff and enjoys training in MMA, and doing conditioning workouts. Follow her on Twitter @DeniseLiTweets and Instagram @smackeral83.

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Body News, Health & Fitness, Wellbeing

When It’s More Than Just A Stomachache – Tan Lili

How do we know if that nagging discomfort is simply a symptom of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), or something worse? Tan Lili speaks to a gastroenterologist and an urologist to find out more.

This abdominal pain is not a first-world problem, thank you very much.

This abdominal pain is not a first-world problem, thank you very much.

All of us experience abdominal pain many times in our lives, but because stomachache is so common, diagnosing the cause of it can be difficult. At best, it is mild and can be effectively treated by self-medication – which is usually the case; at worst, it could be a sign of something sinister and lead to life-threatening consequences if not managed early.

The most common cause of abdominal pain, according to Dr Lim Lee Guan, Specialist in Gastroenterology & Consultant, Raffles Internal Medicine Centre, is irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Studies showed that the prevalence of IBS in Singapore was 8.6 percent in 2004 – up from 2.3 percent in 1998. But how do we know if the pain is caused by something more serious?

“Abdominal pain may be sometimes be caused by serious conditions, such as acute appendicitis (severe pain in right lower abdomen) and acute cholecystitis (inflammation of gallbladder, usually with pain in right upper abdomen),” says Dr Lim. “In females, abdominal pain may also be caused by gynaecological conditions, such as ectopic pregnancy. These conditions may be life-threatening if they are not managed early. These conditions require specialised treatment in a hospital, and could involve surgery.”

Below, Dr Lim explores the different causes of abdominal pain and their symptoms.


A condition in which you suffer from abdominal discomfort that’s often accompanied by diarrhea, constipation, or alternating diarrhea and constipation, IBS is the most common cause of abdominal pain in Singapore. Management includes lifestyle and dietary adjustments as well as medical treatment. Some of the former include avoiding stimulants such as caffeine, dairy products and artificial sweeteners; drinking lots of water and avoiding carbonated beverages; and maintaining good physical fitness.


A burning sensation felt around the lower chest area, heartburn is caused by gastric acid refluxing into the oesophagus/food pipe. It can be treated via over-the-counter antacids, which work to quickly neutralise acid and soothe the burn. Lifestyle changes can also be adopted to improve your heartburn symptoms, like eating slowly and avoiding trigger foods such as caffeine.


Stomach and duodenal ulcers are caused by variable factors such as Helicobacter pylori and medications (e.g. NSAIDs), which result in the thinning of the layer of mucus that is supposed to protect your stomach from digestive juices. This, in turn, causes painful sores in the stomach lining or small intestine. Medications are usually prescribed to alleviate the symptom; if the ulcers perforate and bleed, an endoscopic treatment would be required.

Gastroenteritis (stomach flu/food poisoning)

Common symptoms of patients with gastroenteritis include abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhea. In severe cases, you can get dehydrated, in which case you may need intravenous hydration. Most acute gastroenteritis cases improve with symptomatic treatment, although in some cases antibiotics may be needed.


The pain is felt over the lower right part of your abdomen, and it can either come on slowly or manifest as sharp, stabbing pains that worsen with movement. Caused by an inflammation of the appendix, it requires immediate medical attention and surgery to remove said appendix (don’t worry, we can all live without it). If not treated quickly, the inflamed appendix may perforate or burst, which could lead to peritonitis – a potentially fatal inflammation of the abdomen’s lining.

Since the abdomen constitutes the part of the body between the chest and pelvis, you should never rule out urological conditions when experiencing abdominal pain. Here, Dr Fong Yan Kit, Specialist in Urology & Consultant, Raffles Urology Centre, explains two possible causes:

Bladder Infection

It is very common among women – most would have at least one infection in their lifetime. The typical symptoms are lower abdominal pain, associated with painful and frequent urination. Bladder infections are generally not serious and can be treated with antibiotics.

Kidney Stones

Pain caused by obstructing kidney stones is one of the worst pains one could ever experience. It typically starts from the loin then radiates to the groin. The treatment depends on the size and location of the stones. While small stones can usually pass through the urinary tract, larger stones would need to be fragmented through either shock wave or laser therapy.

This list, of course, only serves as a general guide to the more common causes of abdominal pain. Always consult your doctor if your, um, gut tells you your condition requires medical attention.

About The Author: A founder of Material World, Tan Lili has previously worked in magazines The Singapore Women’s Weekly and Cosmopolitan Singapore, as well as (now, the online counterpart of Her World). She is now a freelance writer who works on this website full-time. Lili hopes to travel the world, work with wild animals, and discover more awesome Twilight fan-fiction. Follow her on Twitter @TanLiliTweets.

Health & Fitness, Wellbeing

Cool Ways To Beat The Heat – Tan Lili

Our tropical climate leaves us plenty to be grateful for, but sometimes the heat can get unbearable – even for Tan Lili, who’s always preferred sunny weather to a cloudy sky. Read on to find out some interesting ways you can use to cope with our hot and humid conditions.

Nope, not exaggerating at all.

Nope, not exaggerating at all.

To get to work, I take three different buses. By the time I walk to the first bus-stop from home, I would already be wiping sweat off my face, carefully avoiding my freshly-concealed under-eye area. By the time I arrive at my office, I’m a walking tower of perspiration. I know it’s horribly unladylike of me to air my armpits in public, but if you had to spend 10 minutes walking up a slight slope in this heat, you’d be long past caring too.

And don’t get me started on my nightly hot and bothered affairs. Not in the figurative sense, obviously.

Since confining myself to an air-conditioned room 24/7 is out of the question – (a) it’s environmentally unfriendly, and (b) my Sahara-dry skin might actually start to crack – I decided to look up ways to cope with this unbearable heat.

Sweat It Out To Cool Down

It may seem counterintuitive – and not to mention, rather embarrassing – to ignore the sweat that’s coming out of every pore on your skin, but wiping off sweat actually causes your body to produce even more. Reason: Sweat doesn’t cool you down, but the evaporation of it does. To cope with heat, the human body sends more blood to the surface of the skin to release heat. At the same time, the heat kicks your sweat glands into overdrive, which helps cool the body because of the subsequent evaporation of sweat.

Sweaty and sexy: Only in photoshoots, otherwise mutually exclusive

Sweaty and sexy: Only in photoshoots, otherwise mutually exclusive

Be Aerobically Fit

The human body has an ability to acclimatise to heat stress and, according to a researcher, the more aerobically fit you are, the better your ability to do so. “Training induces a lot of the characteristics that you typically see in somebody that is actually heat-acclimated,” says Heather Wright, a research officer at the National Research Council Canada in Ottawa, Canada. “With heat acclimation as well as with training, your resting core temperature decreases. As your temperature increases with exertion … it takes a longer period of time before your temperature reaches high levels, which are of concern.”

So, the fitter you are, the more sweat you produce and the faster you cool down. Using the same explanation as above, an unfit person “heats up” faster during an exercise because his body is less acclimatised to heat stress but takes a longer time to cool down. In other words, I should probably get my ass off the couch and start exercising. Damn.

Use An Anti-Perspirant

Okay, so sweating is wonderful and all, but looking like I’d just finished a marathon doesn’t exactly make for a good first impression when meeting a client. Recently, Denise wrote about Triple Dry, an anti-perspirant that contains active ingredients to regulate the amount of sweat released by the body. The way to use it is rather specific – you have to apply Triple Dry for four consecutive nights before you sleep at night and, subsequently, you only need to apply it every two or three days. Material Mom Deborah Giam also reviewed it in this post (you get to win a set for yourself!). I haven’t tried it yet, but I suppose there’s no harm giving it a shot.

Cool Your Pulse Points

Pulse points are essentially the areas of your body where you can feel your pulse. By lowering your blood temperature in those spots – neck, wrists, insides of your elbows and knees, and the area close to your temple – it has a cooling effect on your body. Grab an ice cube from your office freezer, wrap it in a towel, and apply it to any of the pulse points for a minute. Repeat this step every other minute until you feel less Human Torch and more Iceman.

Daisy Dream Marc Jacobs, from $88 for 30ml

Daisy Dream Marc Jacobs, from $88 for 30ml

Take A Shower

When it’s especially hot, try this fail-proof method of lowering your body temperature: take a cool shower once or twice a day. It is effective, efficient and, more importantly, an essential part of personal hygiene. It’s a well-known fact: The less you sweat, the fresher you smell. However, what many don’t realise is that sweat is actually odourless; it’s the combination of sweat and bacteria found normally on your skin that causes the bad smell, which is why maintaining your personal hygiene is so important.

To smell even fresher after your shower, spritz on the new Daisy Dream Marc Jacobs (from $88 for 30ml, available from August 2014). This fruity-floral fragrance smells so light, refreshing and, for want of a better word, pretty, it might just make you forget about the insane weather!

About The Author: A founder of Material World, Tan Lili has previously worked in magazines The Singapore Women’s Weekly and Cosmopolitan Singapore, as well as (now, the online counterpart of Her World). She is now a freelance writer who works on this website full-time. Lili hopes to travel the world, work with wild animals, and discover more awesome Twilight fan-fiction. Follow her on Twitter @TanLiliTweets.

Health & Fitness, Wellbeing

Is Osteopathy For You? – Denise Li

If you have a sports injury and prefer a non-invasive approach to healing, why not give osteopathy a go? 


I’ve been living with a knee injury that I sustained during muay thai sparring awhile back. I wasn’t sure if it was a meniscus or ligament issue … but the reason that I’d been putting off getting checked out properly is because I feel that many doctors tend to be a bit “conservative” in their approach. The last thing I want to hear is them telling me that I should lay off the martial arts – I can’t imagine anything worse than a life without it! Also, my impression is that some doctors might be a little enthusiastic in recommending surgery. Again, this is not something I’m personally a fan of as I feel that it should be a last resort.

Now, I’m not saying that doctors are bad or that I personally recommend living with pain, cos that can really affect the quality of your life! I was, however, on the lookout for an alternative solution that could speed up the rehabilitative process without requiring any drastic action, so when the opportunity to try osteopathy came up, I jumped at the chance.

Prior to my visit to The Osteopathic Centre, I had only a vague idea about what osteopathy entailed. I know they did things like realign the spine to fix certain back problems … but that’s it really. But as I’ve been even more active than usual of late, I knew I had to have my knee checked out as it was limiting my progress in certain areas of martial arts (not being able to kick properly or executing certain grappling moves due to difficulty in bending my knee joints).

I visited The Osteopathic Centre’s clinic at Chevron House and was greeted by Jenny Mullen, an osteopath with over 13 years experience as a rehab specialist.

She first made me do a series of movements to determine what exactly was causing the pain, after which she concluded that it was likely a meniscus issue. She then went on to tell me that my weak glutes and some stiffness in the hamstrings was likely worsening the issue; osteopathy works on the principle that various parts and functions of the body are closely related. Weakness and stiffness in one part could have a knock-on effect on other parts/joints. Jenny also pointed out that the injury was worsened by the fact that there was some imbalance on one side of my body – probably due to me overcompensating for the injury.

Next, she massaged the area around my injury and my glutes to loosen up the muscles. Before our session ended, she prescribed a series of four exercises that are supposed to help strengthen my glutes and the muscles around my injury to better protect it. She also reminded me that it was important to do these exercises religiously at home to aid in the recovery.

The massage really helped (especially in relaxing my super tense glute muscles), and though I felt a slight soreness in the days that followed (as she predicted), I definitely saw some improvement. I continued exercising as normal, but the pain was alleviated somewhat. Of course, I did my best to follow through with the exercises that she had prescribed, as you need to be diligent with doing your “homework” to see any real improvement.

As with most types of treatments, you cannot expect miracles after just one visit. But I’d definitely recommend osteopathy if you have any muscle, joint, or ligament issues and prefer a gentler, non-invasive approach to treatment.

Jenny Mullen, osteopath with The Osteopathic Centre

Jenny Mullen, osteopath with The Osteopathic Centre

Here’s Jenny to tell you a bit more about osteopathy’s all about:

What exactly does osteopathy entail?

Osteopathy examines posture, muscle length and strength, range of motion at joints and integrity of joints. The emphasis of osteopathy is on the interrelationship of structure and function of the body.  Osteopaths take an in-depth medical history to gain an insight into the overall health of the individual. Osteopathy is based on the theory that the various parts and functions of the body are closely inter-related, and that health depends on the integral functioning of the various body parts. Osteopaths aim to find the root cause of the problem, often they will assess the joints above and below the site of pain to ensure the body is functioning optimally. Osteopathy predominantly utilises a hands-on manual treatment approach although other modalities such as rehabilitative exercise prescription and taping are also used. The osteopathic training includes joint manipulation techniques.

Osteopathy seems to be considered an “alternative” therapy. Why is that?

Osteopaths are now considered primary healthcare providers. Within the UK they are now integrated within the National Health Service. The osteopathic curriculum has changed over the past ten to fifteen years to incorporate more evidence based research to follow a similar pathway as general medicine.

What sort of ailments can osteopaths help with?

Osteopathy aims to restore normal function to the body by utilising treatment modalities that assist the bodies natural healing process. Some of the common ailments that people seek osteopathic treatments for are:

Muscle and joint injuries of the upper and lower limb, ligament injuries, neck pain, back pain, repetitive strain injuries, sports injuries, postural abnormalities, osteoarthritis, sinus problems, pre- and post-natal neck and back pain, feeding problems for babies, torticollis.

What sort of ailments can’t osteopaths help with?

Osteopaths use a holistic approach by considering your past medical conditions, diet, levels of activity and emotional state to consider the whole person. Through this process it may become apparent that referral is needed to a specialist in that area – as osteopaths we refer to GPs, podiatrists, orthopaedic surgeons, dentists, Pilates and yoga instructors depending on the needs of the individual. Osteopaths cannot prescribe medication or administer steroid injections.  If you are suffering with a general medical condition such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, lung disease then a general practitioner should be your first port of call.

You mentioned that osteopaths can also help newborns who have trouble latching onto their mother’s nipple during breastfeeding. Do tell us more.

Osteopathy can help babies who are experiencing problems latching when breastfeeding. At the Osteopathic Centre, we work closely with mothers and children. We receive referrals for babies with tight jaws, tightness in the neck muscles and tongue tie. Very gentle and simple osteopathic techniques can be used to loosen out the muscles of the jaw and neck and to encourage the sucking reflex. We teach the parents simple exercises to encourage moving the jaw forward and stretching out the neck muscles. Usually, for latching problem,s the babies respond very quickly and may only require 2-3 treatments.

What can a patient do to ensure that she benefits as much as possible from osteopathic treatment?

The philosophy of osteopathy it is a tool to aid the body’s natural healing process, hence the patient also needs to work with us to accelerate healing. This may involve being prepared to break bad postural habits, increase activity levels and follow an exercise rehabilitation programme.

The Osteopathic Centre is at Body With Soul, 44 Rochester Park, 6779 0660; Level 23 Chevron House, 9760 1556; and 22 Siglap Drive, #01-02 Bowmont Centre, 6446 7236

Material World was invited for a trial at The Ostepathic Centre and was not paid for this review. All opinions are the author’s own. 

About the Author: Denise Li is a founder of Material World and a freelance writer-editor. Before that, she spent a few years in the Features section of CLEO and Cosmopolitan Singapore. She considers Chiang Mai her spiritual home and makes it a point to head there for a yearly pilgrimage. She’s also a fitness buff and enjoys boxing, running and the occasional yoga session. Follow her on Twitter @DeniseLiTweets.


Food News, Gyms & Trainers, Health & Fitness, Lifestyle, Wellbeing, Workouts

Material World’s Sunday Sizzle: The Third Edition

A great workout, healthy juices, and a delicious brunch … all the ingredients you need for a fabulous Sunday. Find out more about what went down at Material World’s latest Sunday Sizzle event.

Over here at the Material World HQ, we’re all pretty big on fitness and living healthily. When you eat right and move frequently, you have more energy to do the things that matter. In a bid to encourage holistic living, we’ve organised a series of fitness and healthy eating events we call Sunday Sizzle. The event held on June 8, was our third installation.

First up on the agenda was an invigorating willPower & Grace workout held at Momentum Lab. This hour-long barefoot workout combines the disciplines of dance, yoga and more to create an energetic routine that aids in functional movements and strengthens the core. During the class, participants’ awareness were continually brought to their feet and how their feet moved in tandem with their whole body. After all, the feet form the base of all bodily movement – a strong base will lead to improved overall strength, flexibility and agility of the body. Trainer Shira kept everyone’s spirits up with her energy and occasional quips.

The super spacious Momentum Lab can comfortably accommodate about 17 people.

The super spacious Momentum Lab can comfortably accommodate about 17 people.

Within half an hour, it was clear that everyone was working up quite a sweat, but we really have to give it to our participants for putting in 100% effort. We’re proud to say that no one gave up! “I could really feel my core muscles working hard,” said Xiuyun, 26, executive. “Plus, the workout is a great way to kickstart a lazy morning.”

Everyone was immediately rewarded for their hard work in the form of organic, cold-pressed Beauty Cleanse juices! From tasty veggie-based juices, to satisfying nut milks, and refreshing watermelon-mint-coconut juices (a hot favourite!), it was the perfect way to rehydrate after an invigorating workout. “I love the interesting juice combinations,” said Chalene 29, executive. “They are a tasty way to get essential vitamins and nutrients too.”

What better way to rehydrate than with a refreshing cold-pressed juice from Beauty Cleanse?

What better way to rehydrate than with a refreshing cold-pressed juice from Beauty Cleanse?

The Sweet & Chic salad at The Lawn

The Sweet & Chic salad at The Lawn

With everyone in high spirits and quickly making new friends, it was time to adjourn for brunch at The Lawn at Biopolis. What awaited the participants: Wonderfully fresh, generously-portioned salads topped with a selection of grilled meat or seafood. The spacious, serene surrounds of Biopolis in a quiet Sunday morning proved to be the perfect backdrop for brunch. Although some participants had mentioned to us that they were not usually fans of salads, we were glad to see everyone tucking in heartily and enjoying their brunch.

Everyone also got to take home a goodie bag, which included a Triple Dry Anti-Perspirant Roll-On – which you’re supposed to use at night to help regulate excessive sweat production – and a sample of Collection Cosmetics’ Bright & Glow BB Cream (that promises to give you a healthy, radiant complexion). Talk about the icing on a cake!


Triple Dry and Collection Cosmetics

The goodie bag, courtesy of Triple Dry/Collection Cosmetics!

If you didn’t manage to sign up for yesterday’s Sunday Sizzle, not to worry. We’ve got a few more events planned for this year, so watch this space for more details!

We would like to thank our partners for making this event possible:

Momentum Lab
354 Alexandra Road, #01-15 Alexis
Tel: 6339 2210

Beauty Cleanse

The Lawn
31 Biopolis Way, #01-07 Nanos
Tel: 6478 9739

Triple Dry (available exclusively at Guardian) and Collection Cosmetics (available at selected Watsons stores and BHG [Bugis and Clementi])

Character & Soul, Health & Fitness, Self-Improvement, Wellbeing, Workouts

Running: Suffering Is Optional – Tan Lili

“Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional,” wrote Haruki Murakami in What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. How can runners relate to this? Founder Tan Lili, who ran the recent Sundown Marathon, explains. 

Photo taken from the Official Sundown Marathon Singapore Facebook page.

Photo taken from the Official Sundown Marathon Singapore Facebook page.

You might’ve noticed a flood of Sundown Marathon photos on your Facebook news feed the past couple of days. While 30,000 runners pounded the pavement through the night, you were probably lying in bed thinking, “Hah. Suckers.”

Yeah, well, I was one of those suckers.

Come to think of it, I’ve been a willing participant of these running events for a while now. It started with the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore in 2007, which apparently brought out the non-sexual masochist in me and got me hooked on endurance running. (By endurance running, I mean a distance of 10km, not 21km or – heaven forbid – 42km. I’m not that masochistic.)

It doesn’t matter that I’m surrounded by tens of thousands of runners. The moment I start my music player and cross the start line, it’s me against the distance. I revel in this solitude and freedom; how I run my race is up to me and me alone. I feel alive in my own thoughts.

Just as well, because what goes through my mind isn’t exactly the stuff motivated runners think about. Here’s what my thought process generally looks like during my 10km runs:

At the start line: (all pumped up from the energetic emcees and party music) WOOT! LET’S GO!

1km: Huh? Only 1km?! Shit. I probably shouldn’t have sprinted. 

2km: What evil possessed me to sign up for this again?

4km: Oh, hello U-turners. The halfway mark is near!


5km: 100Plus banners and standees: the grownup equivalent of the much-loved Milo truck.

6km: Just 4km to go. I CAN DO THIS!

7km: I can’t do this anymore.

8km: What’s 2km compared to the 8km I just did? Piece of cake! Ooh … cake …

9km: I’m never believing in my own lies again.

9.9km: Ah! The finish line! Okay, must look pretty for the cameras.  

At the finish line: I AM AN INVINCIBLE WOMAN OF STEEL. And I can’t feel my legs.

Honestly, I cannot imagine the kind of torture full-marathon runners go through. But despite all that internal turmoil, I will dutifully sign up for yet another run and put myself through yet another mental and physical challenge. (I truly have; Denise, Vanessa and I will be participating in the Great Eastern Women’s Run 2014.)

I seriously don't know how it's possible for my boyfriend's hair to remain well-coiffed after a run.

I seriously don’t know how it’s possible for my boyfriend’s hair to remain well-coiffed after a run.

Am I a sucker for pain? Perhaps. Do I get a perverse sense of gratification in suffering? No. As Haruki Murakami wrote in What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” And that is exactly why I run – to find my strength in the experience of pain. See it as a metaphor for life, if you will. Allow me to explain.

Physical pain consists of two components: biologically, a pain signal is transmitted through our body’s central nervous system to alert us that something is wrong; psychologically, we give meaning to the pain signal, which translates to our emotional responses. Suffering is born from the latter – it is a response to pain. The obvious problem with choosing to suffer is that it sets off a self-fulfilling prophecy that leads to even more suffering, prolonging the recovery process.

But because pain is inevitable – be it when you run or in life – you can’t not have a response to it. You can either let pain defeat you then wallow in your suffering, or you can use the pain as leverage to overcome it, to help push you forward one step at a time. This is also probably why the sense of achievement you get after completing a big run is almost transcendent.

Of course, it’s easier to internalise all these feelings after my run. It’s still a struggle for me to motivate myself with positive self-talk during a long-distance run, to be honest. Any tips? Do share!

About The Author: A founder of Material World, Tan Lili has previously worked in magazines The Singapore Women’s Weekly and Cosmopolitan Singapore, as well as (now, the online counterpart of Her World). She is now a freelance writer who works on this website full-time. Lili hopes to travel the world, work with wild animals, and discover more awesome Twilight fan-fiction. Follow her on Twitter @TanLiliTweets.

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Body News, Food & Supplements, Health & Fitness, Wellbeing

The 9 Secrets of Hollywood Diets Uncovered – Matthew Fam

Hollywood celebrities often tout novel dieting techniques for a fabulous bod – be it fasting or the exclusion of certain food groups. So what ARE the star-approved diets out there, and what are the health precautions you should be aware of when undertaking your quest for body beautiful? The 9 health facts of Hollywood diets, here.

Gwyneth's boldly chic outfit at the L.A. red carpet premiere of Iron Man 3.

Gwyneth’s gams are the REAL showstopper at the L.A. red carpet premiere of Iron Man 3!

1. The 5:2 Diet
Can’t stand the thought of dieting 24/7, but want slender stems like Gwyneth Paltrow? Behold the 5: 2 diet. The part-time regime works as such: you eat whatever you want during a 5-day period, then stick to a 500-calorie intake for each of the remaining two days.

The celebrity-backed fad (Gwenyth Paltrow and Jennifer Lopez among its devotees) keeps weight down while boasting long term benefits of preventing Alzheimer’s, heart disease and cancer.

2. Why should I fast?
The answer lies in IGF-1 (no, it’s not a strand of avian flu). Insulin Growth Factor-1 is a hormone that boosts the reproduction of cells. As we age, the production of this stimulant wanes, so less new cells in our body are made and the older, wearied ones work harder.

What fasting does is to kickstart the sensitivity of IGF-1, keeping cells youthful and pretty while fending off age-related diseases. Sweet.

3. So how much IS 500 calories?

Brace yourselves: a single portion of hawker centre-bought char kway teow alone is 742 calories. So imagine having less than that for an entire day! Your 500-calorie fast can either be broken up into bite-sized meals, or consumed in a single feeding at the start of the day. However, in order to reap maximum benefits of fasting, the latter option is advised. (Fat-burning perks of fasting reportedly commence only after 18 hours into a fast.)

"Give me my lemon cleanse or I ain't performing for no Super Bowl," we imagine  Beyoncé would say.

“Give me my lemon cleanse or I ain’t performing for no Super Bowl,” we imagine
Beyoncé would say.

4. The Lemon Water Diet
Think solid food diets are for scaredy cats? Beyoncé attests her regular bouts of lemon water cleanses to being absolutely bootylicious.

These intense lemon cleanses- each lasting for up to one week- reportedly wipe the health slate clean by allowing your body to completely remove any toxins within your system. Majority of your mass lost will be water weight, but it leaves your complexion surprisingly clearer. Fans of the lemon cleanse- now put your hands up!

5. The ‘No Dairy’ Diet
Get this: the ability to digest lactose past the age of three is actually considered a genetic mutation! (60% of adults cannot digest this naturally-occuring sugar found in cow’s milk.) Not only that, excess diary in your diet reportedly causes higher frequencies of adult acne. Cue screams of horror.

PS, Megan Fox says she doesn’t do dairy. Period.

6. So what alternatives are there to cow’s milk?
Soy, almond, and rice milk are par for the course, but keep an eye out out for carrageenan. According to this article, several of your USDA-approved organic foods contain- and don’t freak out- these cancer-causing nasties. So when in doubt, always check the ingredients list!

Uma Thurman's a total softie for desserts!

Uma Thurman’s a total softie for desserts!

7. The Ice Cream Diet
Uma Thurman once claimed she ate nothing but desserts and ice cream in order to slim down for her role in Kill Bill. Sounds crazy? The diet works on the basis that consuming less calories than what you need would result in weight loss. So technically, you can lose weight by eating small portions of Ben & Jerry’s throughout the day.

However, what this fad fails to alarm is the poor nutrition afforded by desserts alone. Good for a quick weight loss, maybe. But not for a long term healthy lifestyle.

Kim swears by Atkins to maintain her killer curves.

Kim swears by Atkins to maintain her killer curves.

8. The Atkins Diet
With a slimmed midsection, Kim Kardashian keeps her hourglass-figure in check with this famous diet. The grand old dame of weight loss techniques was popularised by a research paper titled “Weight Reduction” by Dr. Atkins himself in 1972. Essentially, all you need to know is that “carbs are the enemy” (Yes, Rihanna totally said this before!)

The Paleolithic (‘Paleo’) diet follows the same carb-banishing route: meals are characteristically free from any type of carbohydrate, focusing instead on intakes of protein, fruits and vegetables.

9. Protein Overkill
Now before you bite into that steamed chicken breast, STOP RIGHT THERE. Studies by Dr Valter Longo, Professor of Cancer Research at the University of Southern California support the no-protein camp. According to him, high protein consumption is as bad for your body as smoking!


The allure of Hollywood fad diets are undeniable. However, we can’t simply assume that they work just because a celebrity who endorses it looks fab on the red carpet. What we may not realise is how these calorie-crunchers were probably supplemented with a rigorous fitness regime in the first place.

Moreover, as with any diet, consistency is key. Sure, some of these diets can promise a reduction in dress size or a slimmer physique; but these may also come with a series of health setbacks. So shake off those rose-tinted lenses the next time you go gaga over a celebrity weight loss fad.


What other Hollywood diets do YOU know of? Share with us in the comments section below!

About the Author: Matthew Fam is a contributing writer of Material World, and has worked at Cosmopolitan Singapore as an intern and Contributing Beauty Assistant. He writes, teaches, and performs for the stage. Matthew enjoys museum visits, Singaporean Theatre, and spends too much of his undergraduate allowance on magazines.


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1. 6 Ways To Lose Weight Without Stepping Into A Gym – Matthew Fam

2. Top Weight-Loss & Nutrition Myths, Debunked – Tan Lili

3. The Yummiest Salad Place In Town! – Denise Li

Beauty & Shopping, Body News, Health & Fitness, Skincare, Wellbeing

[Infographic] What Does The Colour Of Your Nails Tell You? – Tan Lili

For starters, if your nails are whitish, it could be an indication of kidney or liver disorders. Find out more about nail colours and their associations with health, as well as what you can do about them.

Some women are obsessed with painting their nails, so much so that they feel bare without the sight of bright-coloured nails on their digits. But this infographic isn’t about that kind of nail colour.

Nail abnormalities – including discolouration – can sometimes be a sign of an underlying health condition. “The skin is the largest organ in the body,” explains Dr Paul Chia, Specialist in Dermatology & Consultant, Raffles Skin & Aesthetics. “Therefore, any underlying ill-health can also affect the nails and their appearances.”

Find out if your nails display any of the colours below, then read on for our interview with Dr Chia for nail health tips.

Infographic provided by Dr Paul Chia, Raffles Skin & Aesthetics

Infographic provided by Dr Paul Chia, Raffles Skin & Aesthetics

When is it a concern to see a dermatologist?

Nails often reflect our general state of health. Changes in the nail – discolouration and thickening – can signal health problems, such as liver and kidney diseases, heart and lung conditions, anaemia and diabetes.

Although rare, melanomas and other skin cancers can grow under the nail. Melanoma is a form of cancer that begins in melanocytes (cells that make the pigment melanin).

The most common early presentation of a melanoma of the nail unit is a dark-coloured streak within the nail plate. Occasionally, skin cancers in the nail unit can also present as a deformed nail or bruising under the nail.

See your dermatologist if you notice any changes in your nail to check for any underlying medical condition.

Are ladies more susceptible than men about these health conditions?

Women and men are affected similarly by nail disorders. However, certain nail disorders are more commonly seen in women.

Brittle nails, frequently accompanied by nail splitting, are more common amongst women. Frequent wetting and drying of the hands is the most common cause of brittle nails and nail splitting; this condition is common among homemakers, nurses, and hairdressers. Nail splitting may also be caused by nail cosmetics (hardeners, polish, polish removers/solvents) and pedicures/manicures.

Besides, don't you find artificial nails horribly disturbing?

Besides, don’t you find artificial nails horribly disturbing?

Women are also more likely to wear nail polish and artificial nails. Besides brittle nails, nail cosmetics have been known to cause contact dermatitis (skin rash resulting from sensitivity to nail polish constituents), discoloured nails and onycholysis (separation of the nail from the nail bed).

Women who wear high heels and pointed shoes with small toe-boxes are also more likely to develop nail problems. These include ingrown toe nails, subungal hematoma (bruising under the nail, appearing as a blue-black discolouration), and fungal nail infection.

What are the available treatments?

The treatment depends on what the nail disorder is. If you notice any changes in your nail, you should consult your dermatologist to check for any underlying medical condition. Depending on the nail findings, your dermatologist may do other investigations to check the state of your health.

Occasionally, a nail biopsy (procedure to obtain tissue for pathological examination) may be required, especially if a skin cancer of the nail unit is suspected.

Nail problems commonly seen in women like brittle nails, nail splitting, ingrown toenails and contact dermatitis are often treatable and preventable. This can be achieved by educating the patient on ways to keep her nails healthy.

Here are some tips:

  • Cut your fingernails and toenails straight across and rounded slightly in the center. This will prevent the development of ingrown toenails.
  • Ensure that your nails and skin are well moisturised by applying moisturising cream regularly, to prevent brittle nails and nail splitting.
  • Wear proper-fitting shoes. Tight shoes can cause ingrown toenails.
  • Do not try to self-treat ingrown toenails, especially if they are infected. See a dermatologist.
  • Do not bite your fingernails. You can transfer infectious organisms between your fingers and mouth. Also, nail biting can damage the skin around your fingers, allowing infections to enter.

For ladies who always paint their nails, their nails may be discoloured. How are they able to tell if they possibly have certain health conditions from their nails?

Nail plate discolouration occurs with prolonged use of coloured nail varnish, particularly with deep red nail polish. This staining will usually fade spontaneously 14 days after the nail varnish has been removed.

Nail discolouration from health conditions usually do not resolve by themselves. Moreover, people with underlying health conditions usually have accompanying symptoms to suggest their health condition (e.g. in people with liver problems, they may have jaundice), in addition to their nail changes.

Are there any health risks from the prolonged use of nail varnish?

There are concerns that some nail polish might contain toxic chemicals like dibutyl phthalate, toluene, and formaldehyde. These chemicals can cause cancers, birth defects and developmental problems in children of pregnant women who have had extended exposure.

Even if they are present, the levels of toluene and DBP found in nail products are generally at levels considered safe. Generally, they are a minor health concern for nail varnish users.

However, nail varnish is a relatively common cause of contact dermatitis. This is the inflammation of the skin that occurs when you come into contact with a particular substance. The chemical most responsible for allergic reactions to nail varnish is tosylamide formaldehyde resin. Sensitivity to the offending agent may cause a rash not only around the nail area but also around areas that are commonly touched, such as the eyelids, mouth and chin, and sides of the neck.

What are the health risks of nail biting?

Woman biting nailsAlthough nail biting is unlikely to cause long-term nail damage, it is not without risks. Nail biting can result in inflammation and infection of the nail fold (the skin around the nails). It can also increase the risk of transmission of germs from the nails and fingers to the lips and mouth.

More importantly, compulsive nail biting is sometimes a sign of an underlying mental health condition, such as anxiety or an impulse control disorder.

Tips to stop nail biting include:

  • Avoid factors that trigger nail biting, such as boredom
  • Find healthy ways to manage stress and anxiety
  • Occupy your hands or mouth with alternate activities, such as playing a musical instrument or chewing gum
  • Discuss with your doctor if fingernail biting persists along with anxiety and stress

About The Author: A founder of Material World, Tan Lili has previously worked in magazines The Singapore Women’s Weekly and Cosmopolitan Singapore, as well as (now, the online counterpart of Her World). She is now a freelance writer who works on this website full-time. Lili hopes to travel the world, work with wild animals, and discover more awesome Twilight fan-fiction. Follow her on Twitter @TanLiliTweets.

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