Book Review: Body Of Truth

body of truth

Title: Body Of Truth: Change Your Life by Changing the Way You Think about Weight and Health
Author: Harriet Brown
Pages: 304
Price: hardcover $19.25; kindle $13.09

Over the last 25 years, our longing for thinness has morphed into a relentless cultural obsession with weight and body image. You can’t be a woman or girl (or, increasingly, a man or boy) in America today and not grapple with the size and shape of your body, your daughter’s body, other women’s bodies. Even the most confident people have to find a way through a daily gauntlet of voices and images talking, admonishing, warning us about what size we should be, how much we should weigh, what we should eat and what we shouldn’t. Obsessing about weight has become a ritual and a refrain, punctuating our every relationship, including the ones with ourselves. It’s time to change the conversation around weight. Harriet Brown has explored the conundrums of weight and body image for more than a decade, as a science journalist, as a woman who has struggled with weight, as a mother, wife, and professor. In this book, she describes how biology, psychology, metabolism, media, and culture come together to shape our ongoing obsession with our bodies, and what we can learn from them to help us shift the way we think. Brown exposes some of the myths behind the rhetoric of obesity, gives historical and contemporary context for what it means to be “fat,” and offers readers ways to set aside the hysteria and think about weight and health in more nuanced and accurate ways.

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“What if you were ok with your body the way it is right now?”

That’s what a therapist asked a sobbing Harriet Brown. Brown could hardly believe her ears. She was seeking treatment in the hope of discovering how to control her appetite and retain control of her body (and mind). Instead, she was asked to accept the body she had hated for so long.

As much as she would have liked to forget them, Brown couldn’t get those words out of her head. It took years, but eventually, Brown learned to shift her relationship with food and her body. All the while, though, she kept seeing people suffering for the same reason. There is not a woman in America, or the Western World for that matter, that hasn’t learned to hate her body.

We’re told that thin = healthy, and that we should do whatever it takes to lose the extra pounds. If we don’t, we are shamed and humiliated. We may live in a free world, but when it comes to weight, we are constantly policing one another, letting those overweight know they are doing something wrong, and praising those who lose weight.

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Even when they do so because they are ill. Brown’s own daughter suffered from anorexia nervosa, and often received complements when she was perilously thin. But those comments started to quickly dry up as she thankfully recovered and gained back the precious weight she had lost.

It’s shocking, but that’s where a culture so entrenched in the fat-is-bad/thin-is-good dichotomy leads us. But is fat bad anyway? Surprisingly, scientific research doesn’t support this. In fact, “people considered ‘mildly obese’ had roughly the same risk of dying as those in the ‘normal’ category. Death rates went up for those on either end of the scale – underweight and severely obese – but not by much.”

So, if fat is not the problem, what is? Poverty. Inequality. Lack of access to fresh produce and parks. Stigma. We’re taught that shames encourages people to get off the couch, eat healthier and exercise, but that’s not true. Shame only increases stress, prevents people from exercising (have you noticed how fat people are often mocked when they do?) and prompts them to go through dangerous diet cycles.

We tend to consider diets as good, but are they? Hardly. For starters, they don’t work. Only 5% of people who lose their weight this way can keep it off for good, and “anecdotally, for those few who do it becomes the primary focus of their lives”. Everyone else gains more weight in the long run. Dieting changes our metabolism, teaching it how to operate with fewer calories, and may even be responsible for some of the health conditions associated with obesity.


But wait, if that is true, why so many doctors still blame fat for every disease, and think that being even slightly overweight is so bad? Well, a lot of doctors have ties with dieting companies that skew their judgements. Others see how much money is there to be made by performing dangerous bariatric surgeries. Others still have believed the myths for so long that they just can’t admit they are wrong anymore.

And that’s true for most of us too. You’d think that after spending so much money, effort, and time hating our bodies and trying everything we can think of to lose weight, finally learning that diets don’t work and that thin doesn’t equal healthy should be liberating. But if often makes us feel stupid, losers who have wasted years pursing the wrong goal. And so we prefer to believe that every study that doesn’t support what we already know (fat is always bad) must be wrong.

Brown explains all this, and a lot more, in her new book Body Of Truth: Change Your Life by Changing the Way You Think about Weight and Health. She debunks weight myths, explains why they are still believed and supported by many, reveals where the modern obsession with weight comes from, and suggests a new approach: we should stop focusing so much on fat and dieting, and instead come up with ways to encourage people to develop good habits, like exercise (a much better indicator of health than weight), that will improve both their health and their lives.

Body Of Truth is well-written and well-documented. Although all Brown’s claims are supported by science, she explains everything clearly. Far from boring, her style is engaging and her insights wise. She educates you with compassion, without preaching. An eye-opening read, I highly recommend Body of Truth to anyone who is struggling with weight and self esteem issues.

Available at: Amazon

An insightful and informative read, Body Of Truth debunks common myths about weight, explains why diets don’t work (and make things worse) and proposes a new approach to help us live healthier lives.

Rating: 4/5

Disclosure: this item was sent by PR for consideration. In addition, the review contains an affiliate link. For more information, please see my disclaimer.

Product Review: The Body Shop White Musk Sumptuous Silk Shower Gel

the body shop white musk sumptuous shower gel

Name: White Musk Sumptuous Silk Shower Gel
Brand: The Body Shop
Size: 8.4 fl oz
Price: $15.00

From The Body Shop’s website:
Turn your shower into a sensual, lather-filled indulgence with a sumptuous, soap-free cleanser that has a silky-smooth gel texture and soft, velvety scent.

What I liked:
– cleanses skin well
– gentle, doesn’t irritate nor dry out skin
– beautiful scent

What I didn’t like:
– if you don’t like musky floral scents, this is not for you.

I wasn’t initially going to review The Body Shop White Musk Sumptuous Silk Shower Gel. TBS only gave me a small sample with an old purchase, and it didn’t last long. But then I figured that since a) shower gels don’t need to be tested for long periods, and b) this stuff is pretty good, I might just tell you about it.

I have dry skin, so I need a shower gel that cleanses it well without drying it out even more. This fits the bill very well. The combination of sodium laureth sulfate (not to be confused with its much harsher cousin sodium lauryl sulfate) and cocamidopropyl betaine produces just the right amount of lather and gently removes all traces of dirt and other impurities from my skin. The addition of glycerin, an humectant that draws water from the environment into the skin, keeps it soft.

Its musky flower scent is lovely. Flowery enough to still be somewhat feminine, but musky enough to also make it appealing to your man (he won’t mind if you leave it in the shower for him to use), it features notes of lily, iris, and ylang ylang, mixed with musk, vetiver, and patchouli.

Cleaner and soapier than the ETD version, it is quite subtle but still manages to cling onto the skin for a few good hours. If you’re tired of the usual sweet fruity floral shower gels that saturate the market, you may want to give this a go.

Water, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Glycerin, PEG-7 Glyceryl Cocoate, Fragrance, Sodium Benzoate, Phenoxyethanol, Hydroxyisohexyl 3-Cyclohexene Carboxaldehyde, Citric Acid, Honey, Maltodextrin, Methylparaben, Benzophenone-3, Disodium EDTA, Polyquaternium-7, Butylparaben, Ethylparaben, Hexyl Cinnamal, Alpha-Isomethyl Ionone, Linalool, Propylparaben, Isobutylparaben, Hydroxycitronellal, Hibiscus Abelmoschus Extract, Coumarin, Isoeugenol, Benzyl Benzoate, Geraniol, Benzyl Salicylate, Farnesol, Citronellol, Benzyl Alcohol, Eugenol, Limonene, Benzyl Cinnamate, Citral, Violet 2 (CI 60730), Red 33.

Available at: The Body Shop IT, The Body Shop UK, The Body Shop USA

The Body Shop White Musk Sumptuous Silk Shower Gel gently cleanses skin, leaving it clean and soft. And it smells great!

Rating: 4/5

Disclosure: the review contains an affiliate link. For more information, please see my disclaimer.

Product Review: Benefit That Gal Brightening Face Primer

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Name: That Gal
Brand: Benefit
Size: 11ml
Price: $29.00

From Benefit’s website:
Our silky pink primer takes your complexion from dull to darling! Simply blend it on for the look of brighter, smoother skin. Contains light-reflecting pigments to help brighten all skin tones and raspberry & chamomile to soothe skin.

What I liked:
– provides a radiant glow when used alone or on top of foundation
– helps even out the skintone a bit
– longlasting
– silky texture, blends easily

What I didn’t like:
– doesn’t work well when used under foundation
– not suitable for very oily skin

That Gal is such a tease! She hooks you in with promises of beautifully glowing skin. But does she deliver? Only when she feels like it. Do what she wants, and she’ll take your tired complexion from dull to darling. But hide her under a layer of foundation, and she’ll sulk so much, she’ll just refuse to glow.

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That totally defeats the purpose of a primer, doesn’t it? But then That Gal, despite its claims, is not a primer. It does nothing when used as a base. It doesn’t brighten your face, and doesn’t even make your foundation last longer. It does help even out the skintone and hide very small imperfections, but only a little bit.

So, what is it? A highlighter. The pink shade is infused with light-reflective particles that catch the light and give your complexion a subtle glow, but only when used alone or on top of foundation. Applying a primer all over foundation is just too weird for me. I prefer to just dab a little on the areas that are naturally hit by sunlight, like my cheekbones and bridge of my nose.

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I also use That Gal on those days when my skin is good enough to skip foundation. Then, I apply it all over my face, which is instantly brightened up. I’m not talking about a discoball effect (although it accentuates oily patches if your skin is very oily). That Gal gives a radiant, subtle, and healthy glow.

Its texture is lovely. It’s silky, neither runny nor thick, and blends really easily. Once applied, it last for most of the day. It first starts to fade, after about 8 hours, from my slightly oily t-zone, and then, slowly, from the rest of my face. Its fruity, raspberry scent, instead, disappears almost immediately. Shame, cos it’s delicious!

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The packaging is adorable, colourful and fun. But I’m not sure I’d like to use the full size, glue-like container. My sample, part of a gift set sent me by my friend Janessa, is housed in a simpler, classic tube. It’s just as pretty, and much more practical.

Available at: Boots, Feel Unique, Sephora, and Ulta

As a primer, That Gal does nothing. But, as a highlighter, it gives skin a natural and radiant glow that lasts for hours.

Rating: 3.5/5

Disclosure: the review contains affiliate links. For more information, please see my disclaimer.

Are They Dupes?: Skinceuticals Hydrating B5 Moisture Enhancing Gel VS Cosmetic Skin Solutions Hydra B5 Gel Advanced Formula +

skinceuticals hydrating b5 gel dupe

I don’t mind splurging on skincare products chock full of all kinds of goodies, such as antioxidants and AHAs, that help to my keep skin in top condition. But for a basic formula, such as Skinceuticals Hydrating B5 Moisture Enhancing Gel, that just hydrates skin?

Not really. I’d rather look for a cheaper dupe. Like Cosmetic Skin Solutions Hydra B5 Gel Advanced Formula +. It’s pretty much identical to the Skinceuticals gel, and just as good a godsend to dry skin, but it’ll save you a lot of money.

Ingredient analysis

hyaluronic acid molecular structure

Sodium Hyaluronate & Hyaluronic Acid

Sodium Hyaluronate is the more stable sodium salt form of hyaluronic acid, a substance found in all tissues of the human body. It is used in the Skinceuticals serum, while the Cosmetic Skin Solution Gel contains Hyaluronic acid. There isn’t much difference between these ingredients. Both are humectants (the can attract water from the environment into the skin) able to hold up 100 times their weight in water! Like that weren’t impressive enough, they also work well in any climate, in both high and low humidity conditions.

Pantothenic Acid

Pantothenic Acid, also called Panthenol and Vitamin B5, has moisturizing properties too. It helps slow down water loss, thus keeping skin hydrated, soft and elastic. But that’s all it does. It can’t help fight wrinkles, nor treat any other skin problems.
Phenoxyethanol molecular structure


Phenoxyethanol is one of the most effective and safe preservatives used in skincare. It can kill and prevent the growth of yeast and  bacteria, such as E. coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

Further considerations on the formula

Both Skinceuticals Hydrating B5 Moisture Enhancing Gel and Cosmetic Skin Solutions Hydra B5 Gel Advanced Formula + are very hydrating. And when skin is hydrated, it is softer and smoother to the touch, and looks plumper. The appearance of fine lines and wrinkles is temporarily reduced as well. But that’s all these gels do. Neither contains antioxidants, niacinamide, retinoids, and other ingredients that are beneficial for skin and helpful in the fight against premature ageing.

Skinceuticals Hydrating B5 Gel Moisture Enhancing Gel Ingredients

Water, Sodium Hyaluronate, Pantothenic Acid, Phenoxyethanol

Cosmetic Skin Solutions Hydra B5 Gel Advanced Formula + Ingredients

Water/Aqua/Eau, Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B-5), Hyaluronic Acid, Phenoxyethanol.


Available at Derm Store, Skinceuticals Hydrating B5 Moisture Enhancing Gel retails at $78.00, which is an outrageous price for such a simple, basic formula. Cosmetic Skin Solutions Hydra B5 Gel Advanced Formula +, available at Amazon, is a much more reasonable $29.85. Both are packaged in a 1 oz bottle with a dropper applicator.

The Bottom Line

If you have very dry skin, both Skinceuticals Hydrating B5 Gel Moisture Enhancing Gel and Cosmetic Skin Solutions Hydra B5 Gel Advanced Formula + will give your skin the hydration boost it badly craves. But there is no need to pay a lot of money for it. The cheaper option will do just fine.

Have you ever tried Skinceuticals Hydrating B5 Moisture Enhancing Gel or Cosmetic Skin Solutions Hydra B5 Gel Advanced Formula +?

Product Review: Maria Galland Silky-Soft Lotion

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Name: Silky-Soft Lotion
Brand: Maria Galland
Size: 200ml
Price: €27,00

From Maria Galland’s website:
Pure innovation: this out-of-the-ordinary facial lotion – for normal and sensitive skin that tends to be dry – fascinates with its special gel texture. Algae and Baikal skullcap extracts supply intensive moisture, soothe the skin and, at the same time, give it more fullness. For instant comfort every time the skin’s been cleansed!

What I liked:
– may provide some hydration to dry skin
– practical packaging

What I didn’t like:
– did nothing for me
– water-like texture is runny
– expensive

I never understood the appeal of toner. It may help remove the last traces of impurities left on your skin, but what does that say about your cleanser? Some toners hydrate skin, but if you need more moisture, why not switch to a richer moisturizer? And don’t get me started on astringents. They dry out my skin like crazy, and irritate it too.

So, I’m not exactly eager to add a toner to my skincare routine. Maybe that’s why it took me a couple of years to try the small sample of Maria Galland Silky-Soft Lotion, which I had found in a Glossybox. Thankfully, the formula hasn’t changed, so it’s not too late to review it. Did it make me change my mind about toners?

Sadly, not. Maria Galland Silky Soft Lotion is supposed to have a gel-like consistency (that’s what their website says anyway), but that’s not how I would describe it. It’s just slightly thicker than water, and very runny, which can make application a frustrating mess.

Unlike the sample bottle, which has a large opening, the full size packaging comes with a pump dispenser, which should make it easier to get the right amount of product you need. But how much is that?

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I tried a little, I tried a lot, but I always had the same results. Or, better, lack of results. This toner is supposed to soothe and hydrate skin, but it does absolutely nothing for me. I feel like I have applied nothing. Maybe that’s because this lotion is not formulated for my skin type.

Maria Galland says it is for normal and sensitive skin that tends to be dry. Mine is combination (and definitely not sensitive), but I didn’t notice an improvement even on my driest areas. Could it be because my moisturizer (Olay Total Effects Day Cream SPF 15), which I apply afterwards, does a great job of taking care of them as to make the small hydration provided by the toner go unnoticed?

The toner contains Glycerin, a humectant able to draw moisture from the environment into the skin, helping it to stay hydrated and soft. If your skin is drier than mine and your moisturizer doesn’t help much, then this may provide a little extra boost. But even so, I don’t find it so hydrating to justify its high price tag.

And that’s why I gave it such a low rating. I wondered whether I should give it at least a 3 instead. After all, it’s obvious this stuff is not formulated for my skin type, which undoubtedly affected the way it worked (or didn’t) for me. If you have dry, sensitive skin, you may get better results. But, as I just mentioned, it’s not nearly enough as hydrating and special for the price it charges.

Ingredients (in alphabetical order)
Alpha-Isomethyl Ionone, Aqua, Benzyl Alcohol, Butylphenyl Methylpropional, Carbomer, Chlorphenesin, Chondrus Crispus (Carrageenan) Extract, Ci 14700 (Red 4), Citric Acid, Dehydroacetic Acid, Eugenol, Glycerin, Hydroxyisohexyl 3-Cyclohexene Carboxaldehyde, Laminaria Digitata Extract, Limonene, Methylisothiazolinone, Parfum (Fragrance), PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, PPG-26-Buteth-26, Scutellaria Baicalensis (Root) Extract, Sodium Benzoate, Sodium Carrageenan, Sodium Hydroxide, Sodium Phytate, Trehalose, Ulva Lactuca Extract, Xanthan Gum

Available at: Shannon Cosmetics

Maria Galland Silky-Soft Lotion is said to have a gel-like texture that soothes and hydrates normal and sensitive skin that tends to be dry. Instead, it has a water-like, runny consistency that did nothing for my combination skin.

Rating: 2.5/5

Product Review: Bella Oggi Love/s Romantic Eyeshadow Palette

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Name: Love/s Romantic Eyeshadow Palette
Brand: Bella Oggi
Price: couldn’t find the price online, but it should be quite cheap

From Bella Oggi’s website:
Love is the driving force of the most generous acts. Generosity of a spontaneous gift connected to a feeling is the inspiration for “Love”; a kit capable to speak a lot in such a contained space. Contains 12 eye shadow 2 double applicator

What I liked:
– I love the mix of neutral and colourful, satiny and glittery, shades
– most of the shades have good, but soft, colour payoff
– the satiny shades are very soft to the touch
– all the shades are very easy to blend
– last long when used with a primer
– pretty, sleek packaging

What I didn’t like:
– the yellow and glittery shades are quite sheer
– the glittery shades are hard to the touch
– some of the shades are just a bit powdery
– in-built mirror is too small

My mom always complains that I have too much makeup (like that were even possible ;) ), yet she also make sure I find a small palette or brush set neatly wrapped up under the Christmas tree every year (thanks mom!). Last December, the little package contained Bella Oggi Love/s Romantic Eyeshadow Palette. I had never heard of the brand before, so I was even more eager to put it to the test. How did it fare?

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Bella Oggi Love/s Romantic Eyeshadow Palette contains 12 eyeshadows divided in 4 colour families: gold, blue, purple, and brown. Each family is represented by a light, medium, and dark shade, in different finishes. One shade in each family is glittery and very sparkling, while the others are satiny.

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This wide mix of shades allows you to create both natural and colourful looks that are suitable for any occasion. A neutral, satiny brown look for the office. A delicate purple look for a romantic date. Or a sparkling blue one for a fun afternoon with your girlfriends. But all these looks have something in common. They are quite soft.

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That’s due to their pigmentation. While the glittery and two darker gold shades are quite sheer, the others have decent, but buildable colour payoff. You can get the colours to show up nicely, but they’re never going to be very intense. That just makes the palette more versatile and easy to use. Blue eyeshadow is easier to pull off if it isn’t too bold, I guess.

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Texture-wise, the satiny shades are much softer to the touch than the glittery ones. Some are just a tad powdery, but overall, they are very easy to blend. Applied over a good eyeshadow primer, they last for most of the day, with no creasing nor fading. I wouldn’t use them without a base, though, cos some of the shades do need that extra help to show up well.

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The long, black packaging is very sleek, but not that practical. The small see-through windows allow you to easily see what colours are housed inside, which is nice. But that has also greatly reduced the space available for a mirror. It is so narrow that you can hardly see what you’re doing. And the two sponge applicators are completely useless too.

Available at: Italian drugstores

Bella Oggi Love/s Romantic Eyeshadow Palette features 12 neutral and colourful shades in satin and glittery finishes. Although a few are sheer and hard to the touch, most have good, but soft, colour payoff and a smooth texture. They all blend easily and last long on top of a primer.

Rating: 3.5/5