Blog Posts by Real Simple Magazine

  • Why Your Body Does Odd Things

    Find out why you cough, sneeze, get goose bumps or a sore throat, and more.
    By Kate Rope


    An Eye Twitch or Other Tic
    George Marks/Getty ImagesGeorge Marks/Getty ImagesWhat's happening?
    The term "tic" in medicine can mean any number of involuntary things your body does. In this case, we're talking about those annoying little muscle twitches you get in your eye or other parts of your body, such as your knee, that bug you for a day or two for seemingly no reason. "A muscle is firing under your skin, because you are in a state of excitement or stress," explains Jeffrey Cain, M.D., president-elect of the American Academy of Family Physicians and the chief of family medicine at Children's Hospital Colorado in Denver.

    Why is your body doing it?
    "Your body is telling you that it is stressed or tired," says Cain. "In the case of eye twitches, they can happen from fatigue, such as staring at a computer screen all day."

    What should you do?
    "For most of us, these twitches are not a serious problem," says Cain.

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  • What to Look for in a Sunscreen

    Find the right product for you with this helpful list of sunscreen terms.
    By Sally Wadyka

    Patricia Heal


    1. Active ingredients.
    These are what absorb and/or reflect rays, as opposed to the ingredients that soothe skin or enhance the texture of the product. Avobenzone: A common active-chemical ingredient, it penetrates the skin's surface and helps absorb harmful UVA rays. If avobenzone is on the label, also look for ingredients such as octocrylene and octisalate, which stabilize avobenzone so that it remains effective longer. Some sunscreens contain Helioplex, a fancy name for a technology that stabilizes avobenzone. Zinc oxide or titanium dioxide: These "actives" are physical compounds. Rather than absorbing rays, they reflect them away from the skin. They're a good choice for those with sensitive skin.

    For our sunscreen recommendations, plus seasonal skin-care advice, see The Best Sunscreens (and Summer Skin-Care Tips)

    2. PA rating.
    This Japanese rating system (which is growing in popularity in

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  • How Can I Get My Dog to Smell Clean?

    Real Simple answers your questions.

    Monica BuckMonica BuckQ. How do I keep my dog smelling fresh?
    Cindy Mullis Hampton, Virginia A.

    If repeated trips to the groomer don't keep the stench away, smelly fur may not be the problem; a medical condition, such as an ear infection, could be the cause. Unlike our straight ear canals, dogs' L-shaped canals are hard to clean, says Janet Tobiassen, a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association. Floppy-eared dogs, like cocker spaniels, are even more susceptible to infection than those with pointed ears. Be sure to check these breeds regularly. When you look at your dog's ears, observe the color. You should see a natural pink pigmentation. If the ears are red or look inflamed, call your veterinarian. Once a medical issue has been ruled out, turn to the bathtub. Use a gentle soap and a conditioner that is made specifically for your breed. In between washes, use an all-natural dog body spray, such as Lani Body Spray ($15, lanidigyourdog.com). Bonus:

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  • Work Rules You Should Break

    Most people think they know the keys to career success: Keep your head down and nose to the grindstone. Avoid personal, emotional, or awkward subjects (in fact, any elephant in the room) at all costs. Well, guess again. Here, experts reveal five on-the-job maxims that are worth challenging.
    By Patrick Doyle


    Jetta Productions/Getty ImagesJetta Productions/Getty ImagesStay Away From Emotional Topics
    In my opinion, you should always bring a problem out into the open, even if it's personal, difficult, or awkward. Say you and a colleague have different work styles or have clashed over a project, and as a result there is serious tension between the two of you. Tiptoeing around the issue may cause your productivity to suffer, so it's crucial that you confront your coworker. You can say, "You seem to dispute every point I make, and I don't understand. Did I do something to upset you?" If you talk about it, the situation won't spiral out of control or become a pattern.
    Sean O'Neil is a management consultant based in Pelham, New York, and

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  • 6 Motion-Sickness Remedies

    If you're susceptible to air-, car-, or seasickness (wooaah), calm the queasiness with these doctor-approved solutions.
    By Sharon Liao



    Focusing on a Fixed Point
    John LawtonJohn Lawton
    Best for
    : Mild dizziness and general nausea.

    How it works: Motion sickness occurs when the ways your brain and your inner ear perceive movement don't match up. Your inner ear can sense that you're moving, but if your eyes are focused inside the vehicle (on the dashboard, for example), they will send a signal to your brain that you aren't moving, says Michael Zimring, M.D., the director of travel medicine at Mercy Medical Center, in Baltimore. Looking at a stationary spot outside the vehicle-say, a building in the distance-helps your inner ear and brain get in sync.

    Good to know: Sit in the front seat if you can so it will be easier to focus on an object outside the vehicle.


    Also See: Quick Cures for Kids' Illnesses


    Acupressure
    Grant CornettGrant CornettBest for: An upset stomach.

    How it works: According to Chinese medicine,

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  • How to Improve Your Memory

    Wish your powers of recall were as powerful as this elephant's? Here are nine mind-sharpening strategies that can help.
    By Alice Oglethorpe

    Christopher Griffith Memory lapses can be both embarrassing (what's my neighbor's kid's name again?) and troubling (is senility coming on?). But a few slipups don't necessarily doom you to a future of utter forgetfulness. A memory is made by linking two or more of the 100 billion nerve cells in your brain, called neurons, then solidifying the connection so you can use it later, says Neal Barnard, an adjunct associate professor of medicine at the George Washington University School of Medicine, in Washington, D.C. And "your brain continues to develop neurons and build new connections to strengthen memory as you age, a phenomenon called neuroplasticity," says Brianne Bettcher, a neuropsychology fellow at the University of California, San Francisco, Memory and Aging Center. "So it's never too late to improve your powers of recall." That's where these nine strategies

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  • How Much to Tip for Summer Expenses

    Want to avoid awkward moments with the hotel bellhop or your child's camp counselor? Simply follow this handy advice about when to pay a gratuity-and how much to fork over. Bonus: In a few instances, you won't even need to open your wallet.


    By Yelena Moroz


  • Common Vices that Aren’t so Bad After All

    Find out which bad habits might actually be good for you in the long run-in moderation, of course.

    A version of this article originally appeared on Learnvest.com.

    You swore off coffee-then caved when you hit a particularly stressful deadline. You don't eat any chocolate anymore-unless there's no one around to see you. We took a deeper look into ten bad-habits-that-aren't. Turns out all these little things you may have been berating yourself for can actually benefit your health, your money, and your motivation.

    Anna WilliamsAnna Williams
    1. Splurging
    Study after study shows that money doesn't make us happy. We'll make an addendum: Money doesn't bring you lasting happiness, but there's no denying the rush of a splurge.

    Research shows that our increase in happiness isn't proportional to the money we spend, so treating yourself to a $50 blouse may actually bring you less total happiness than spending the same money on a small accessory every week or two. After the initial wave of delight, we adjust to our new

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  • Creative Marshmallow Recipes

    Everyone loves s'mores, but these tasty marshmallow recipes offer inventive, gooey alternatives to the traditional fireside treat.
    By Sue Li


    Chocolate Chip Cookies With Marshmallows and Pistachios
    Turn ordinary chocolate chip cookies into a fun dessert that will delight both kids and adults.
    Serves 1 | Hands-On Time: 05m | Total Time: 10m
    Levi Brown Levi Brown
    Ingredients

    -2 marshmallows
    -2 chewy chocolate chip cookies
    -1 tablespoon chopped salted roasted pistachios

    Directions
    -Heat broiler. Place the marshmallows on a foil-lined baking sheet and broil, turning once, until golden brown, 30 seconds per side.
    -Top one of the cookies with the marshmallows and pistachios. Sandwich with the second cookie.

    Calories Per Serving: 201

    Also See: 20 Delicious Classic Cookie Recipes




    Molasses Cookies With Marshmallows and Peaches
    Give roasted marshmallows a sophisticated spin by pairing with sweet summer peaches and dark, spicy molasses cookies.
    Serves 1 | Hands-On Time: 05m | Total Time: 10m
    Levi Brown Levi Brown
    Ingredients

    -2

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  • Great Places to Adopt a Pet

    Looking for a furry addition to your family but don't know where to start? Try these top sources for pet adoption.
    By Josey Miller


    How to Find a Pet
    GK Hart/Vikki Hart/Getty Images GK Hart/Vikki Hart/Getty Images Ready to add a four-legged or winged friend to your home? Pet adoption is a great way to go: Not only does adopting a pet-whether it's a cat, dog, pig, or parakeet-from an animal rescue organization save a life, it can save you money, too. Purchasing an animal from a pet store or breeder can cost thousands of dollars, while adopting-with fees averaging in the low hundreds-is a bargain by comparison. "Most of the time the pet will be up-to-date on vaccinations, checked out by a veterinarian, and sometimes neutered and spayed [and microchipped]-and all of this is built into the adoption fee," says Katya L. Friedman of Adopt-a-Pet.com.

    The pet adoption approval process typically involves an application and interview; some organizations also require a home visit and a veterinary referral. If you think you're ready to find the perfect

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