Thursday, October 30, 2014

Acne? Get TTO.


Acne is the most common problem that affects humanity. The prevalence of acne was 85% in the 12-24 year age group in the US census conducted in 1996!
Acne might seem a trivial issue to some, but it actually affects mental health (anxiety and depression), self- esteem, confidence, social interactions and employment problems even in its mildest forms!
Over the years, there have been  many topical solutions and antibiotics formulated to target the bacteria Propionibacterium acnes, but they are becoming less effective with time probably because of the emergence of resistant strains.
The search continues to find the effective remedy to combat acne.


Tea Tree Oil has been shown to have broadspectrum antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. This volatile essential oil is derived mainly from the Australian native plant Melaleuca alternifolia and has been used since centuries by the Aborigines!

A clinical trial conducted in 2007 concluded that :"Topical 5% tea tree oil is an effective treatment for mild to moderate acne vulgaris". The low and minimal side-effects of TTO treatment render it as a suitable treatment option for mild to moderate acne vulgaris.*

 Another study showed that both "5% tea-tree oil and 5% benzoyl peroxide had a significant effect in ameliorating the patients' acne by reducing the number of inflamed and non-inflamed lesions (open and closed comedones), although the onset of action in the case of tea-tree oil was slower. Encouragingly, fewer side effects were experienced by patients treated with tea-tree oil." *

Uses of TTO:

(Use as a topical application, gargle or steam inhalation with hot water, not to be swallowed! )
  • bacterial and fungal skin ailments: Oily skin, acne, abscess, blisters, sun burns, athlete's foot, insect bites, rashes, dandruff and other minor wounds and irritations. 
  • respiratory problems ranging from common sore throats, coughs and runny nose and may help in  severe conditions such as asthma, tuberculosis, and bronchitis.
  • Viral infections: chicken pox, shingles and measles, flu, cold sores and verrucae/warts
  •  strengthens the body's immune system
  • Used in mouth washes as it combats oral candidiasis.
  • Used to treat lice


  • pregnant and breast feeding women must avoid TTO
  • May cause redness, irritation, itching on sensitive skin so dilute it with olive oil or any other oil base if you have sensitive skin!
  • should not used near eyes, genitals
  • dilute well before using as a mouthwash
  • DO NOT CONSUME TTO! can lead to diarrhea, impaired immune function, drowsiness and Coma!

 My Favorite Tea Tree Oil products:


  • clear lotion like consistency
  • applies smoothly - has a matte finish- really seals those open pores!
  • has a minty strong fragrance which might be a little overwhelming at first.
  • can be used as primer before Makeup.
  • Available at all Body Shop outlets. (7.6 OMR)
  • Contains tea tree water (tea tree oil is dispersed in water)  dissolved in grapefruit water
  • Particularly effective for oily, combination or blemish-prone skin
  • alcohol free
  • Spray directly on the face (with eyes closed!) after cleansing skin. To tighten pores, let the toner air dry. 
  • It also helps combat the drying effects of airplane travel and air-conditioned offices.
  • not only a toner, but is aromatherapy in dilution. 
  • Available on for 21.95$
  • 100% pure tea tree oil
  • Its my go -to product in those Acne emergencies!
  • To be used as an antiseptic on minor cuts, wounds, abrasions, pimples, bites and stings
  • Treats fungal infections such as athlete’s foot and nail infection
  • Has demonstrated to be as effective as Benzoyl peroxide in the treatment of mild to moderate acne*
  • Cleaning: Kills 99.9% household germs

I really love TTO! It works magically in zapping those pimples which appear out of the blue at the wrong times!
Have any of you used Tea Tree oil? What products did you use? Post your comments/suggestions in the comment box!

Until Next time, take care ladies

Reference Researches*:
  • Enshaeih S, Jooya A, Siadat AH. The efficacy of 5% topical tea tree oil gel in mild to moderate acne vulgaris: A randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled study. IJDVL 2007;73-1; 22-25.

Bassett IB, Pannowitz DL, Barnetson RS. A comparative study of tea-tree oil versus benzoylperoxide in the treatment of acne. Med J Aust 1990;153:455-8

 First picture is from!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Recipe Log: Winter-Chicken Stew!

As the weather is changing, most of us are down with either flu or sinusitis. Yes, its that annoying time of the year when all we want to do is, stay at home with a cup of tea AND the Magical Elixir- chicken soup!

I wanted to make something different this time, more like a full meal , yet incorporating all those Immune- boosting ingredients of the traditional chicken soup. I ended up making Chicken Stew, which was full of flavor and kicked the congestion out of my sinuses!

Chicken Stew Recipe:

You Need:
800gm Chicken Drumsticks
2 tbsp Canola Oil
1 Red Onion, chopped
1tbsp freshly prepared Ginger Garlic Paste
2 cloves
1 green cardamom
1 shard of cinnamon
10-12- whole black pepper
1/2tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp coriander seeds
salt to taste
Sprigs of Fresh coriander leaves

  • Heat the oil in a large saucepan under medium heat.
  • Saute the onion until soft and then add the Ginger Garlic paste
  • Grind the cloves, cardomom, cinnamon, black pepper, coriander seeds in a mortar-pestle and add to the saucepan along with the turmeric powder and cook for 2 minutes.
  • keep stirring so that the mixture doesnt stick to the bottom of the saucepan or add splash of water when necessary.
  • Now, add the chicken and the salt and cook for 5 minutes on medium heat.
  • Add 2-3 cups of water-(depending on the consistency you like)- and let the chicken cook on low heat for 20 minutes.
  • Check the seasoning, garnish with fresh coriander leaves and serve with toasted brown bread!

Did You Know?

 -   Studies have found that hot chicken soup can improve the ability of nasal cilia, to protect the body from bacteria and viruses.
 - Ginger is packed with virus-fighting agents against cold and flu viruses. One such agent is gingerol which has been studied as a cough- suppressant. It helps in clearing congestion and clearing nasal passages.  Ginger is well known for its use in nausea, motion sickness, stomachache, diarrhea, cholera, rheumatism, and headache!
- Garlic has antimicrobial and immune-stimulating properties and may give you slight relief from congestion. Raw garlic works as  a powerful antibiotic that fights bacteria, viruses and parasites. Good for preventing heart disease and stroke, and it contains many preventive anticancer compounds and antioxidants.
 - Turmeric is a spice that contains Curcumin- anti-inflammatory agent.

Let me know if any of you guys have tried this recipe! Post your pictures on Insatgram and hashtag with #hzarswomen!

Until Next time, Take care ladies!
- Zara

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Travel log: Paris in September '14

One fine day, out of the blue, me and my husband, decided to go to Paris (for a week). It was something we both decided so randomly and everything fell into place one after the other. We just booked the tickets and the Hotel and got the Visa almost in a flash.
With less than a week for us to leave for Paris, we both were in a fix as to what to pack.
We weren't going for  camping/trekking or just any other trip where we could fare well with a couple of jeans and sneakers. We did not want to look "touristy" even though we were and we were worried about dress-codes especially in restaurants.

So finally we decided to play safe and kept loads of black -had heard Parisians love black, grey, taupe with little pops of color in the form of scarves. If you are in Paris, you must add a scarf either around your neck or your bag to look chic. Probably the only city in the world (after the middle- east, of course) where scarves are loved! You do not need to buy a Hermes scarf, any simple chiffon, silk or Pashmina will do.

We were also worried about the weather, anything could be cold for us since our innate thermostats are in tune with the Middle-eastern weather! However, the weather in Paris in September was really pleasant, mornings were warm yet breezy and the evenings got a little cooler. It never rained there throughout our trip (yayyy! )

So what did I pack?

-Jeans obviously, black slacks, semi-casual tops, maxi-dresses (can never get enough of those)
-blazer, lightweight sweater for the cool evenings
-LOADS of scarves ;)
-Clarks shoes,Cozy knee length boots, neutral Fit Flops (did not take my sneakers)
-Aldo Black Handbag (large, light, completely zippered and strong with double straps- had heard pickpocketing is very common in Paris as in all the large cities! )
-Basic toiletteries- I usually take the cheap ones and leave it in the hotel on the way back.
- Givenchy Perfume, moisturizing Cream, My favorite Bvlgari sunglasses.
- Cosmetics - Something I never compromise on ;)
(Clean &Clear Moisturizer, Loreal UV perfect, Elvive Loreal Hair serum, Sephora Primer, Clinique Anti-blemish Foundation, NARS concealer stick, Maybelline Fit me under eye concealer, Maybelline anti- shine Powder, Borjouis Bronzer, MAC prep+prime illuminator, Bobbi Brown blusher, Bobbi Brown Neutrals Eyeshadow Palette, Mikyajy Eyebrow kit, Maybelline Gel liner, Essence eyeliner, Benefit They're Real Mascara, Mikyajy lip liner, 3 basic makeup brushes- one for powder, foundation and blush.)

Mikyaji Coral Eclairs, MAC girl about town, Bobbi Brown True pink, MAC Russian Red

Where did we stay?

Hotel Ibis, 2, Rue Cambronne
Very close to the Eiffel tower and the Rue de Commerce
Choose the rooms with a view of the Eiffel Tower!


Must- see Places:

- Eiffel Tower Tour (1st floor plus summit views)
-Louvre Museum housing the famous Mona Lisa
- Orsay Museum
- Notre Dame
- Pantheon
- Avenue des Champs Elysees
- Arc de triomphe
- Place-de- la- Concorde
-Pont Neuf
-Les Invalides
- Grand and petit palais
-Center Pompidou
- River Seine sunset cruise
- Disneyland resort, Paris
- Chateau Versailles
- French Riviera (Monaco, Cannes, Nice)- South of France

What did we eat?

  • Lots of restaurants, cafes, bistros on every street. Enjoy a cup of warm coffee and a Croissant and watch the Parisians swarm by! 
  • The world's best ice-cream "Bertillon Icecream " Is located on the Île Saint-Louis, small island in the middle of the River Seine. Absolutely Delicious and rich!
  • Paris is also famous for their Macaroons- Stop by Laduree on Champs Elysees and get yourself and your loved ones, boxes of these heavenly macaroons!
Must say that the desserts are hands- down the best I have ever eaten!

Enjoying Gelatos atop the Eiffel Tower!

At Laduree, Champs Elysees

The best Molten Chocolate Cake I had

Macaroons @ Laduree

Yummy triple cheese Pizza


- Big Bus Tours: We took the Big Bus Tours on the first day to get oriented to the  place and also to cover the major -tourist sites.
- We used the Paris Metro for the rest of the week. Very fast, efficient and cheap means of travel.
We bought the Paris Passport online before we left. It included the Paris Visite Metro card (zone1-3), the big bus tour for one day, and passes to almost all important museums. (For more information, check the website for Paris passport)

Paris Passports

Places for shopping:

- Rue du Commerce (Lots of shops on this street- local as well as international)
- Galleries Lafayette
- Printemps
- Champs Elysees- one of the most expensive streets in the world, But it has a Sephora! :)
- Monoprix- like your local Hypermarket- we grabbed quick meals/drinks/water from here. Good selection of locally manufactured clothes, shoes, cosmetics, bags, toiletteries etc.

Buy loads of souvenirs for yourself and your family at the local small souvenir shops you can see everywhere as the larger souvenir shops at the Tourist sites can be a bit pricey.

Must-buy stuff from Paris:
-Cheese, Dijon Mustard
- Argan Oil
- Cosmetics

At the end, I totally fell in love with Paris. With Love in the air, Fashion on the streets, historical stories etched on each and every brick and delicious authentic desserts, who wouldn't fall in LOVE with this magnificent city?

A few snapshots of our stay in Paris:

Morning coffee at starbucks
Delightful flower shop
River seine view from the top

Champ De Mars

Eiffel Tower

On the Big Bus

The Louvre

Lock your love ;)

Notre Dame from the Big Bus
Place de la Concorde
Champs Elysees

Chateau de Versailles

Chateau De Versailles

Disneyland Resort


Center Pompidou




Until Next time , Take care Ladies
- Zara

Friday, October 17, 2014

Matte Eyes Everyday!

Matte Eyes Everyday? 

Yes! I am talking about the Naked Basics Palette by Urban Decay. It is a set of 6 beautiful matte colors great for creating a day-time look.

Price: 27$

Packaging: small , compact, synthetic case, large mirror, 6 vertical rectangular pans

Quality: highly pigmented, not chalky at all, blend easily

Venus: satin smooth white, applies like butter, good color payoff. Can be used as an all-over-lid color or as a highlight. I love it especially on my brow- bone, really gives my eyebrows the necessary lift!

Foxy: yellowish beige, smooth matte

Walk of Shame: cream color with light pink undertone,  matte

Naked 2: soft taupe - a bit of brown , a bit of grey , so smooth and blends beautifully.

Faint: soft smooth dark- brown, amazing as a crease-shade.

Crave: dark smooth black, very pigmented, can be applied wet as an eyeliner or can be used for creating a smokey eye look.


-all matte shades in one palette -great for daily/office use
-AMAZING quality, highly pigmented, no fallout, no chalkiness
- apply smooth with a buttery texture
-long- wearing even without a primer
- compact, lightweight, great for travel purposes

-heavy on the wallet (27$ for basic matte colors!)
- If you already own the other Naked palettes, you probably have all these shades spread out across those palettes. (For example, Crave is similar to Blackout in Naked 2.)

Final Verdict: 
Very good quality, I cannot say that enough!
If you are a fan of Nudes/ Neutral shades and you stay away from shimmer/glitter shadows, then this palette is for you.

My Everyday Eye-makeup Routine:
- I usually do not use eyeshadow primer with this palette or on a daily basis.
- I apply Venus all over the lids as a base
- W.O.S. over the centre of the lids
-I apply venus again in the inner angles of my eyes
-I then apply Faint into my crease and blend it well into W.O.S. with a blending brush.
-I use Venus again on the brow bone as a highlight. 

-Winged liner with the Maybelline Colossal Kajal! (Amazing, intense black, smudge proof eye liner)
- Rimmel Wonderfull Mascara with Argan oil.

What do you guys think of this palette? What other matte eyeshadow palettes do you guys  recommend?

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Super-Sweet Super-Spice Aids in Weightloss!

 Obesity is on the rise and holding on to our current weight or probably getting rid of those extra pounds may seem daunting at the beginning. The biggest challenge we face at the very beginning of any weight- loss program, is how to stay away from those mouth watering cakes, chocolates and sweets!
Somehow our sweet cravings kick in and off goes the diet! *snob*

This is when Cinnamon comes into the picture. It is naturally very sweet,  adds lots of flavor to food and can be used as a replacement in place of sugar.

 What is it?

It is derived from the dried bark of the Cinnamomum zeylanicum (Ceylon cinnamon) or Cinnamomum cassia (Chinese cinnamon) tree.

How cinnamon works in controlling Blood Sugar Levels?

1.  High-carbohydrate meals increase blood sugar quickly because they are emptied rapidly by the stomach. Cinnamon reduces the rise in blood sugar after eating because it slows the rate at which the stomach empties after meals. (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition)- This makes us feel full for a longer period of time- eat less, lose weight!

2.  Cinnamon may work in another way to help lower glucose levels. It affects the way blood sugar is processed in the body, thereby preventing the conversion of excess blood sugar to fat. This occurs due to the ability of compounds in cinnamon to stimulate insulin receptors. In addition, these compounds inhibit an enzyme that inactivates insulin receptors, so cells are better able to use glucose effectively. (Insulin converts sugars-->fat!)

3.  Certain studies find that abdominal fats react more to cinnamon than other fats and this also promotes weight loss.

Other Benefits: (US. National Library of Medicine)
  • "consuming up to 6 grams of cinnamon per day "reduces serum glucose, triglyceride, LDL cholesterol, and total cholesterol in people with type 2 diabetes." and that "the inclusion of cinnamon in the diet of people with type 2 diabetes will reduce risk factors associated with diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. " Diabetic Care Journal
  • aid in digestion and relieve bloating
  • cinnamaldehyde - a chemical found in Cassia cinnamon - can help fight against bacterial and fungal infections
  • prevent Alzheimers Disease, help reduce the destructive process of Multiple Sclerosis
  • Cinnamon is also surprisingly high in the nutrients- iron, manganese and vitamin K.

How Cinnamon can be Used:

  • Mixture of cinnamon (stick or ground) and honey in warm water before breakfast and before sleeping at night.
  • Cinnamon can be sprinkled on oatmeal, toast, breakfast cereal or even added to a cup of morning coffee.
  • Low- Fat Cinnamon Rolls (Recipe Coming soon!)
  • Cinnamon Ginger Detox Tea : 1 red tea bag/powder, 2sticks of cinnamon , 1/4tsp grated ginger, 3crushed mint leaves, 1/4 tsp lemon juice, honey (optional). Brew this mixture for 5 minutes and have it early in the morning. Detoxes and cleanses your bowels!

Nutritional Profile (from Medical news today)

 According to US Department of Agriculture, 10g of ground Cinnamon contains:
- Energy: 24 kcal
-Fat: 0.12g
-Carbohydrates: 8.06g
- Protein :0.4g


Natural - no established dose. 1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon /day is said to have a dramatic effect on the Blood sugar levels.
 Very high doses may be toxic. 


  • Usually no side effects.
  • Sensitive people can have mild irritation of the mouth or even allergic reactions.
  • Skin irritation on contact with skin. Irritation is caused by cinnamaldehyde.
  • Avoid in pregnant and breast-feeding women.
  • Cassia cinnamon contains coumarin could cause liver problems. 
  • Hormone- dependent Cancers patients e.g. Breast Cancer should not take cinnamon.
  • Drug interaction with antibiotics, diabetes drugs, blood thinners, heart medicines, and others. Consult your doctor before using high- dose Cinnamon. 

What are your thoughts on this amazing Spice? How have you guys used this/ incorporated this into your diet?

*First Image is from Google images, can be removed upon request! *

Clinique: Antiblemish Solutions

Makeup that beautifies and treats the skin at the same time! 

Product: Clinique Anti Blemish solutions liquid makeup
Price: OMR 16, 40$
Quantity: 1 fluid ounce, 30 ml

Skin types: 2, 3, 4 Dry- Combination, Oily 

Claims: Anti- blemish, Treats Acne, controls sebum- secretion without disturbing the skin's moisture balance.  Allergy tested, 100% fragrance free, Oil free, Dermatology and ophthalmology tested.

Notable Ingredients: Salicylic acid to exfoliate, Laminaria sachacrina to control oil secretion, hydroxydecanoic acid- to control spread of blemishes, Caffeine to minimize irritation.

Made in Belgium
Packaging: light weight, plastic tube

Color selection: 8 shades, 01- alabaster, 02- fresh ivory, 03- neutral , 04- vanilla, 05- beige, 06- sand, 07- golden, 08- amber

Consistency: liquid to creamy, light on the skin

Application: Applies easily with your fingers, stippled brush, or a beauty blender. Blends easily into the skin, is NOT cakey. Minimizes appearance of pores and lines and can be used without a primer.

Coverage: Medium coverage, buildable to a full coverage if needed.
Finish: Satin-Matte, Natural finish

With time (throughout the day): long -wearing and light weight, does not dry over the under-eye area, controls the oil effectively especially over the T- zone. Transfer resistant, Does not oxidize on my skin.
Does not have SPF- so no white cast, Looks great in Professional Photos.

One drop swatch- unblended- liquid- creamy

Slightly blended with my fingers

Buffed into the skin with a beauty blender, Smooth Matte finish

Final Verdict:  
No matter how many different high-end or drugstore foundations I try, I always reach out for this one! Why not? Its oil free, non comedogenic, anti- blemish, long wearing, has a Matte finish and doesn't oxidize at all on my skin! I have no break-outs whatsoever, and my skin feels clearer and unclogged.
Good light-weight packaging makes it easier to take for travel.
This is probably one product which according to me has NO cons.
Highly recommended if you have combination- oily, acne prone or blemished skin.

What do you guys think about this foundation? What is your favorite foundation of all-time?