Product review: Zak Detox’s natural deodorant!

Per the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) rules (see useful FAQ on the topic here), I wish to disclose that this post was written in collaboration with Zak Detox, who has sent me some of the products I write about for free. Opinions are my own. 


I was recently contacted by Zak Detox, who asked me if I’d like to try one of their products – natural, plant-based and non-tested on animals deodorant. I try as much as possible to favor these kind of products when it comes to my beauty routine, so I was super happy to say yes! A lot of drugstore brands test their deodorants on animals and use chemicals ingredients (notably, aluminum). There is no scientific certainty on the topic yet, but some scientists suggested that the aluminum-based compounds in antiperspirants may contribute to the development of breast cancer – better err on the side of caution while more research is done by experts! The deodorants are also paraben and GMO-free. They are also made in the USA, not in a sweatshop in a developing country. And they smell super good! Seriously, it’s so hard to find a brand that combines all of those elements. Sometimes, I find a brand that doesn’t test their products on animals, but the products contain some chemicals, or vice-versa.

The brand currently has 3 different deodorants – Elevate, Energize and Unscented. The one they sent me, Elevate, is made with an essential oil blend of rose geranium, sage and vanilla, and other great ingredients like aloe vera, shea butter, cucumber extract and coconut oil

If you’d like to have the change to win one of their products for free, go on my Instagram and follow the steps described on this photo. You can also buy the deodorants directly on Zak Detox’s website, for 11.99$.




Product review: Rodan+Fields skin care products!

Per the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) rules (see useful FAQ on the topic here), I wish to disclose that this post was written in collaboration with Rodan + Fields, who has sent me some of the products I write about for free. Opinions are my own. 

A few weeks ago, I was contacted by a Rodan + Fields representative who asked me if I would like to receive a few products to test and write about. I had already heard good things about this company and was looking to diversify my current skincare products so I was happy to say yes. On top of that, Rodan + Fields‘ products are not tested on animals, which is always a plus for me when I am debating between beauty brands!


The Rodan + Fields Enhancements Micro-Dermabrasion paste (78$/125 mL) exfoliates the skin really well. I often have black pores on my “T-zone” face area so exfoliation is a must for me and this product was really good for that. The smell is a bit surprising at first, it’s a rather ‘medical’ smell different than what we are used to for beauty products; but it doesn’t stay on the skin after use so it’s not a problem.

The Rodan + Fields Redefine Acute Care patch (220$/10 pairs) . It’s made out of a technology that uses peptides to remove wrinkles. I used it overnight. I personally haven’t noticed or felt anything different after using it; but I don’t have very visible wrinkles and have only used it once, so that might be why. If you do have wrinkles and use this product to try to reduce them, Rodan + Fields advertise this product as visibly reducing expression lines in 4 weeks.

In the transparent cube on the photo, there are two serums: Rodan + Fields Lip Renewing Serum (that’s the silver one, 54$/60 capsules) and Rodan + Fields Night Renewing Serum (the blue one, 90$/60 capsules). I used the lip serum overnight so I was able to try them both at the same time. I really like the effect of the lip serum on my lips – it really hydrated well. The night serum had a nice effect as well, it really left my face skin feeling super soft. If you use this one, don’t forget to wash your face well before applying to remove dirt and other things that might be in your pores 🙂


(Oh, and if you’re wondering – I often get asked – my sunglasses from the picture above were bought at Lulus – they’re not available anymore but you can find similar ones here, here and here!)

Product review: Graze’s healthy snack box!

Per the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) rules (see useful FAQ on the topic here), I wish to disclose that this post was written in collaboration with graze, who has sent me some of the products I write about for free. Opinions are my own. 

A few weeks ago, I receive an invite from Graze to try their snack delivery boxes. I’m a huge fan of snacks (I eat at least 3 snacks per day to keep my metabolism running) so I obviously said yes!


The concept is simple: For 11.99$/box, you receive a box with 8 snacks (so that’s less than 2$/snack). You can have the box delivered at home or work. There are over 100 snacks to choose from, and none of them contain GMOs, trans fat, artificial colors/flavors or high fructose corn syrup. Depending on your tastes, you can exclude certain snacks – for instance, in my case, I don’t like chocolate so I exclude the snacks with chocolate in them.

The snacks I received included Wholegrain Banana Caramel Dippers, Spicy Thai Sriracha Crunch, Peachy Orchard, Zesty Chili Lime Cashews, Sesame Garlic Crunch, Vanilla-Almond Protein Granola Topper, Garden of England and Pumpkin Spice Flapjack. I liked all of them, except the first one. I would really recommend Spicy Thai Sriracha and Pumpkin Spice Flapjack!

What I liked is that the price is really reasonable (not much more than buying snacks at the grocery store), and there’s so many different snacks – even after a few receiving boxes, there’s no way to get bored. Even if you choose the “vegan” option, there’s still 55 different snacks!

Graze currently offers a promotion to get a sample box (4 snacks) free. You can also use my promo code ‘MYR16’ to get a free Graze box (8 snacks). Happy snacking 🙂

Product review: Doughbies’ 20-mins delivery cookies!

Per the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) rules (see useful FAQ on the topic here), I wish to disclose that this post was written in collaboration with Doughbies, who has sent me some of the products I write about for free. Opinions are my own. 

A few weeks ago, Doughbies, a new San Francisco startup, got in touch with me and asked me if I’d like to try their cookies delivery service… I obviously said yes 🙂 who would say no to free cookies?

The concept is simple: the cookies are freshly baked daily, you always have  a few different kinds to choose from (traditional flavors such as chocolate chips as well as original ones like gingersnap cookies dipped in white chocolate), and they will be delivered to you in 20 minutes or less. They currently only operate in the main part of SF.

Welcome to the bake squad! 🙂

I tried Salted Caramel Choux and Chocolate Chip Cookies with Sea Salt. They were both delicious, although I have to admit I preferred Salted Caramel Choux 🙂 – I had a bit too much for me so I shared with a few friends and they liked them a lot as well.

The prices are relatively reasonable (8$ for 4 cookies), if you compare to what it would cost you to buy freshly baked cookies in a San Francisco bakery, and you get the extra luxury of having them delivered to you! Obviously, it’s cheaper to cook cookies yourself or to buy them in bulk at the grocery store, but the former will cost you more time and the latter will lower the quality. All in all, it’s a good deal for a once-in-a-while treat for you and your friends or coworkers!

Cheers 🙂



Product review: Rocksbox, a jewelry subscription box startup!

Per the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) rules (see useful FAQ on the topic here), I wish to disclose that this post was written in collaboration with Rocksbox, who has sent me some of the products I write about for free. Opinions are my own. 

Hi all!

Sorry for the lack of updates, it’s so hard to write regularly on a blog while being a full-time law student!

A few weeks ago, Rocksbox reached out to me to invite me for a trial of their new service. I love jewelry, so I said yes right away!

The concept is original and really interesting. For a fixed price (19$/month), you receive a jewelry set of 3 pieces. The pieces are selected based on your tastes (you fill in a quick survey about what kind of jewelry you like and you pre-select a few pieces of your choise on their website when you subscribe). The 3-piece set you receive is worth about 200$ in total and includes pieces from designers such as Kendra Scott, Slate, Sophie Harper and Trina Turk. I’m still a student so I obviously don’t buy jewelry from these kind of brands on an everyday basis, so this concept was perfect for me! And I think that even if you can afford those brands, I believe that those kind of rental startups are still an attractive option. Fashion and trends change so quickly, and it’s always fun to have new pieces to wear, so I think everyone has something to gain by using these services!


FullSizeRender 2
Trina Turk bracelet included in my Rocksbox set

The three pieces that were including in my first set were a Trina Turk bracelet (worth 128$, shown on the picture above), Kendra Scott earrings (worth 45$) and a Sophie Harper necklace (worth 75$). I loved every piece that was included so I was super happy. An aspect I particularly like about the service is that you never know what will be in your box – but Rocksbox will always include one of the pieces you have pre-selected while registering, and two other pieces based on your tastes, so there’s an element of surprise, and you can still rest reassure that at least one of your piece will perfectly fit your tastes. And if you don’t like the pieces you got in your set, or if you’re tired of wearing them after a while, you can just send them back in the mail for free (they give you a prepaid UPS shipping label), anytime you want and. So with your 19$/month membership, you can literally change your box every couple of days if you feel like it, without any additional charge.

Also, if you really like one of the pieces you get, you can buy it (at a slightly cheaper prices than the retail price) – and you also get 10$ of credits to apply towards purchases for every month you are on the service, so that lowers the price as well.

Finally, if you feel like signing up for the service, use my code “myrdenisxoxo” to get a free month trial and thus save 19$ 🙂




Review: Crobar’s bars made with cricket flour!


Per the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) rules (see useful FAQ on the topic here), I wish to disclose that this post was written in collaboration with Crobar, who has sent me some of the products I write about for free. Opinions are my own. 

A few weeks ago, I got an email from an entrepreneur who recently launched a brand of energy bars made with… (wait for it!) cricket flour, made of blended dried crickets! I already knew that crickets and insects in general are very high in protein and other nutrients, and I am not grossed out by the idea of eating bugs, so when she proposed to send me a few samples of her products, I was happy to give Crobar it a try!

The two bars Crobar sent me!

Why should we eat products made with crickets? Two reasons: they are full of amazing nutrients AND farming crickets doesn’t harm the planet as much as most agricultural production. 100 calories of dried crickets contain 15g of proteins and 4g of far, compared to 11g of protein and 8g of fat for dried cattle (although if you compare dried crickets with regular meat, beef wins). There’s also 3 times more iron in the former than in the later. A FAO report states that crickets “nutritional powerhouses, high in protein, fat and the essential amino acids lysine and tryptophan, which are scarce in cereal proteins like soy”. And the environmental impact is quite substantial: cricket production requires significantly less water and feed than cattle, and also produces 80x less CO2 than cattle.

A TEDx presentation by Megan Miller, CEO of Bitty Food, put forward the argument that “insects are probably the most sustainable form of protein we have on Earth”. We’re either already in or in the verge of a global food crisis. Relying on traditional animal-based protein sources is not sustainable – especially given the growing food demand from developing countries. We need to come up with innovative ideas to provide humans with the proteins they need. Vegan and vegetarian proteins such as soy, vegetables and nuts are a great way to address this. Eating crickets and other insects might be the other part of the solution. As mentioned on the Crobar website, “there are more than 1900 edible insect species available, and the kind of food products that could incorporate insect flour and, in due course, whole insects, is limitless.” In my opinion, the only barrier to mainstream adoption of this product in the Western world is the grossed-out reactions most people have when you mention eating insects. But there’s definitely a difference between live, whole insects and powdered dried insects – so maybe all we need is enough adventurous people to give these products a try and spread the word out.

So, the most important question you must be wondering… “But is it good?” I guess it depends. So the 2 bars I tried are “Cacao & Chia” and “Peanut Crunch”. I thought the first one was really good; but as I have mentioned previously, I am not grossed out by the idea of eating bugs, but I can understand how someone repulsed by the thought would have trouble getting over it and eating this kind of product. I don’t like peanuts nor anything made with peanuts so I’m obviously not a great judge of the second one.

“Is it healthy?” Yes! A lot of bars that “appear” healthy are actually loaded with added sugars, but not this one. For instance, the ingredients of the “Cacao & Chia” bar are as following: Cashews (22.8%), Sunflower Seeds (17.3%), Sultanas (13%), Dates (10.4%), Chia Seeds (7.3%), Goji Berries (7.3%), Cricket Flour (6%), Cranberries (5.9%), Cacao Powder (5.4%), Humectant Glycerol, Pineapple Juice, and Cacao Butter (1%). Absolutely no added sugars, and most of these ingredients are natural and healthy. Actually, now that I think about it, I think that aside from Larabar products (which I am absolutely in love with), these are the first bars that I see that are truly without any added sugars!

Crobar’s Cacao & Chia

You could also buy only the cricket flour (not available on Crobar’s website, but other retailers sell it) and bake yourself your own bars, cookies, pancakes, or anything that comes to mind!

Cheers and happy snacking 🙂

The hardest thing about giving up alcohol isn’t stopping drinking

It took me months to write this blog post because I wanted to do it right and most importantly, to be certain I was not to be misinterpreted. For several weeks, I have been noting thoughts and ideas in my phone and on my notepad.

As most of my friends and social media followers know, I took the decision to stop drinking alcohol over two years ago. I came to that conclusion at the end of a ten-month trip around South-East Asia, the Indian subcontinent, Turkey and Greece. I first contemplated reducing drinking when I found myself in some dry parts of Malaysia (alcohol is not illegal everywhere in Malaysia, only in some specific parts of the country where local rules are sticker than the national standards). I kind of forgot about it when I continued my journey and traveled in Sri Lanka and India. I gave it some thought when I was in Turkey but quickly forgot about it once I made it to Greece. I eventually decided I wanted to stop drinking in my very last days of my 10-month adventure around the world.

Notice that I write “took the decision to stop drinking” and “decided I wanted to stop drinking” – not “I stopped drinking”. When I first took that decision, in what seems now like forever ago, I did not even think about what other people’s reactions to someone not consuming alcohol as a personal choice (I am obviously not a pregnant woman, not under any medication, etc. so people obviously know it’s a purely personal decision) might be. I had never given much thought about the topic of alcohol back when I was still drinking, but on every occasion I would encounter someone refusing a drink, not only would I not care about what their reason for doing so was, but I knew it was grossly impolite to ask. I just figured if the person was simply not drinking out of a personal choice, chances are being bugged to justify themselves will annoy them; and if they’re not drinking because of a more serious reasons – such as being an alcoholic or having witnessed family members struggling with alcohol addiction – it’s probably not something they feel like mentioning in a casual conversation. It just sounded so natural to me not to ask this question, that I did not consider for a minute it could even be an issue.

Despite this (to my eyes) conventional wisdom, people do ask. The perpetual weird looks and personal questions are pervasive to the point that a few weeks ago, when I was visiting home, I actually felt the need to thank a friend (whom I hadn’t seen in a long time) for not saying anything or asking why, when I mentioned I was not drinking at the bar we we’re having our Happy Hour at.

The list of potentially awkward answers to the question “why don’t you drink” is beyond endless: “I’m pregnant” (nothing embarrassing in itself, but not everyone feels the need to tell other people the second they find out about it); “I have a drinking problem”; “I have alcoholics in my family” (which could refer to the genetic aspect of alcoholism and/or to the traumatic effect of witnessing a family member struggling with their addiction); “I did something awful once when I was drunk” (for instance, one of my favorite musician wrote a song about how he cheated on his girlfriend one night while drunk and how that prompted him to never drink again); etc. The reasons go on and on. I thought those were all things any sensible person doted with basic cerebral capacities could and would think about. I figured even people who do not have any close friends or relatives dealing with any of the mentioned-above situations have probably heard about those things and know they are sensitive topics, despite not personally dealing with any of them. But apparently, no.

I Googled “how to tell people you don’t drink” when drafting this post to see what would turn up. The search results are a bunch of similar websites or blogs, all attempting to give tips on how to act in social situations where alcohol is usually present, but you do not want to drink. There’s even a Wikihow page about it. What is interesting about these articles/posts is they all pretty much come down to the same suggestions – which pretty much all involve making stuff up instead of getting straight to the point and telling people you just don’t drink alcohol. For instance, Succeed Socially mentions telling people you run a marathon in two days or you’re trying to get in shape and avoid the calories. The Wikihow page suggests making up stories such as “No, thank you. I have to drive myself home” and “Thanks, but I’m still hung over from last night” or carrying something that could look like an alcohol drink, such as a coke. The article mentions “If you simply don’t enjoy drinking, people may have a hard time understanding this, so you may be better off making an excuse.” A Thought Catalog post suggests bringing a friend who will also stay sober – as if it was simply impossible not to drink alcohol by yourself.

Shortly after taking the decision of stopping drinking, I didn’t feel confident enough to just tell the truth to the people I was with – and I am usually a pretty confident person, so this says a lot about how judgmental our society can be. But after a few months of making stuff up, I realized every “lie” I came up with created its lot of problems. Most importantly, I realized there was nothing inherently wrong with not drinking, nothing to be ashamed of and thus no point in lying.

I first tried telling people I was trying to lost weight so I was avoiding alcohol because of the calories. This led to a bunch of unpleasant conversations – namely, 1) friends arguing with me that I was already thin and good-looking and didn’t need to do this 2) friends thinking I had some sort of eating disorder, freaking out and staging weird interventions  3) uncomfortable (read here: slightly judgmental) looks from people who were not a thin as me.

After I realized the weight loss excuse was not working for me, I decided to lie about fitness regimes, thinking no one would argue with that. I started by telling people I was training for an upcoming marathon. Then when I realized that it was not enough and people still bugged me to drink, I told them I was training to be a bodybuilder – it did work (nobody can argue with that one – bodybuilders really aren’t allowed any alcohol during their training), but, unless I was telling this lie to a total stranger, it was only a short-term fix because people would eventually come back and ask me how my training was going, when I would be competing, etc. I basically realized those fitness excuses weren’t really going anywhere in the long-run with the people I knew, even it if was just acquaintances I do not know well.

I do think making up those kind of stories can be useful for certain people, i.e. alcoholics who are currently struggling to stay sober and do not want people in their entourage knowing they have a drinking problem. One can reasonably understand how someone in this kind of situation would want to avoid his entire social circles, including colleagues and other professional contacts, learning about a drinking problem. But for a person simply not drinking because they don’t enjoy it, these excuses are not necessary and I realized after a while that it was simply ridiculous to keep them up.

As I was debating which excuses to use, I finally realized there was no point in lying. So I stop doing it. It took me over a year to get there. It would have taken a lot less time if people in our society knew our to respect personal boundaries and stay out of sensible topics.

By the way, you might have noticed that nowhere in this text have I mentioned why I stopped drinking. That’s just the way it should be – and you should not feel the need to ask.

Lastly, just to end this post on a lighter touch, here the Top 5 of the funniest, weirdest and/or most annoying (depending how you look at them) reactions I’ve experienced ever since I stopped drinking:

#1 (On a first date):

Bartender: Can I get you anything to drink?
Guy I was on a date with: Yes, I’ll have a [insert here the name of the cocktail he chose]
Me: I’ll just have a sparkling water.
Guy I was on a date with: *puzzling look*
Me: I don’t personally drink alcohol so I’ll just have that.
Guy I was on a date with: OMG! I feel so bad! Alcohol is bad – you’re right! I’ll go cancel my drink order! *runs off to go get the bartender before I could answer anything*

#2 (on a different first date):

Waiter: Can I take your order?
Guy I was on a date with: Yes, I’ll have a [insert here a cocktail name]
Me: I’ll have a sparkling water.
Guy I was on a date with: You don’t want a cocktail or a glass of wine?
Me: I don’t drink, but thanks for offering
Guy I was on a date with: Ah come one! Have one with me!
Me:  But. I. don’t. drink. alcohol. *exchanges an exasperated look with the waiter*
Guy I was on a date with: Is that why your body is so chiseled?
Me: Erm… I don’t know about that! Maybe!
Guy I was on a date with: *starts asking me 8549 questions about my body fat percentage, my eating habits and my workout routine*

#3 (also on a different date – those were stretched over more than a year, I swear!)

Waiter: Can I take your drink order:
Guy I was on a date with: Yes, I’ll have [insert here the name of the wine he chose]
Me: I’ll have a sparkling water.
Guy I was on a date with: You’re not even having one drink?
Me: Erm no. I’m a bodybuilder! [This was in my I’m-making-up-a-ton-of-fitness-excuses phase]
Guy I was on a date with: AH! I thought you looked like one! *reveals he is thinking about starting bodybuilding too and starts asking me a ton of insanely precise questions I had no idea how to answer*

#4 (NOT on a date – with a friend!)

Me: I don’t drink alcohol
Friend: Ah but you do know wine is healthy right? There’s antioxidants in wine.
Me: Oh yes, I *think* they come from the grapes and you can get the same benefits by eating grapes. I’m not 100% sure though.
Friend (apparently allergic to sarcasm): Oh ok. Look it up and let me know!
Me: (silence)

#5 (I can’t remember who that person was – I think someone attending an event I was at)

Person: Why don’t you have a drink?
Me: Because I don’t drink alcohol.
Person: Ah. Why? You’re Canadian right? Is that why?
Me: *mind-blown for a few seconds* Yes. We’re in the process of building a nation 100% sober.