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Mel Kassel

Mel Kassel

Mel writes about food and beauty trends. She would rather give up chocolate than onions.

Latest articles by Mel Kassel

Why Taking a Mud Bath Might Be Good for You


Prepare to sink into the wet and dirty world of mud treatments.

Is LASIK Safe?


Is LASIK safe? Learn about the possible side effects, how long the surgery lasts, and what to expect for recovery time.

Are Heels and Flip-Flops Always Bad For Your Feet? We Asked a Podiatrist.


Dr. Donna Hayes tells us how to know when shoes actually fit and which shoe she’d like to wish out of existence.

Eight Travel Tips for Traveling Anywhere


Whether you’re heading to Argentina or Alabama, you’ll want to know these essential travel tips.

The Spa-Goer’s Guide to Five Common Facial Treatments


A breakdown of facials, peels and microdermabrasion—read this before your next spa visit.

Laser Hair Removal Is Not In Fact Magic


It sounds like a science-fiction pipe dream: a crystal-powered light that shuts down hair growth on almost any body part. But, as thousands of clinics around the country can attest, laser hair removal is a popular reality. You don’t have to be a supervillain or a spaceship to understand how the lasers work, either. Here’s the science behind laser hair removal.

Six Overlooked But Awesome Exhibits at the American Museum of Natural History


You’ve seen the dinosaurs, but what about the dragons? Or the sapphire that was stolen in a 1960s jewel heist?

Eat Chicken Like Chips and Other Fitness Tips from a Personal Trainer


Sari Weis has 10 ideas for getting in better shape, whether you’re working out, cooking, or just watching TV.

Why Wax?


Because it leaves your skin smoother longer, it doesn't cause nicks, and all you have to do is lie there.

Your Burning LASIK Questions, Answered


How does it work? And more importantly, what if my eye moves while the laser is on?

What Do You Wear Under Yoga Pants? I Asked 400 People.


It's a question as old as spandex: commando, thong, or plain old underwear? We break down the responses to our poll.

The Distinct Styles of 10 Designer Eyewear Brands


Profiles of 10 top glasses brands that will tell you what to look for when you want to look sharp.

Why You Should Take the Plunge into Pole Fitness


Whether you call it pole dance or pole fitness , you can’t argue about its benefits. We spoke to two studio owners about this sexy sport.

A Guide to Ordering the Perfect Fish


Don’t know the difference between snapper and cod? Allow a fishmonger to explain.

The Most Romantic Cities in America


Devotion might be unquantifiable, but awesome dates aren’t. Find out which cities are really feeling the love.

Would You Like Your Octopus Grilled or Still Moving?


The tasty cephalopods are trending in America, as chefs from Boulud Sud and Japonais can attest. But would you eat a live one?

How to Tie a Tie Video (with Eels!)


Our musical video tutorial will show you the best way to tie your tie: by pretending it’s an eel.

10 Questions You Wish You Could Ask Your Nail Artist


If you’re worried that your feet are too gross (or too ticklish) for a pedicure, let this professional nail artist put you at ease.

What’s for Dinner Across America?


Many places in America have an edible claim to fame. For Philadelphia, it’s the cheesesteak; for Savannah, it’s the peach; and for Chicago, it’s a deep-dish pizza topped with ketchup-free hot dogs. But which city has the biggest sushi fans? And where do people really love brunch?

America’s Top Cities for Tattoos—and Tattoo Removal


We found out which city loves its body ink most and which one adores its ink-removing lasers.

Things to Do in San Francisco: Saturday, October 11, to Friday, October 17


This week, there’s a Litquake reading wherever you look, sand castles spring up on Ocean Beach, Oakland goes to the dogs, short horror films play at The New Parish, and Iliza Shlesinger performs at Cobb’s Comedy Club. As always, check Groupon for more great things to do in San Francisco.

Things to Do in San Francisco: Saturday, September 13, to Friday, September 19


This week: gourmet chocolate floods Ghirardelli Square, a kimchi expert teaches you to jar your own cabbage, a pop-up film festival screens nine shorts, the San Francisco Improv Fest enters its second week, and Disney’s leading ladies are on display. As always, check Groupon for more great things to do in San Francisco.

How to Fold a Fitted Sheet


Learning to fold a fitted sheet will open up storage space in your home—and give you the ultimate party trick. Follow our video tutorial to make those elastic edges disappear.

How to Wear Paperself’s Amazing Paper Lashes Any Day of the Week


What do the London skyline, the ocean floor, and a rose garden have in common? Thanks to Paperself, you can wear all of them on your eyelashes.

Things to Do in San Francisco: Saturday, August 23, to Friday, August 29


This week: insufferable foodies break into song, Indian chariots parade through Golden Gate Park, UC Berkeley’s Caltopia offers free massages, the Exploratorium examines sound, and you can dance if you want to. As always, check Groupon for more great things to do in San Francisco.

Things to Do in San Francisco: Saturday, August 16 to Friday, August 22


This week: street-food stalls invade the Mission, street-soccer teams compete in tournaments, a movie consists entirely of cell phone calls, a pop-up market gathers goods for the swapping, and Bill Bellamy grabs the mic. As always, check Groupon for more great things to do in San Francisco.

Things to Do in San Francisco: Saturday, August 9 to Friday, August 15


This week: K-Pop bands take the stage at the Korean Day Cultural Festival, Deer Tick plays an Outside Lands night show, John Dean recalls his talks with Nixon, cool cars gather in Danville, and Audium creates sonic art. As always, check Groupon for even more great things to do in San Francisco.

Things to Do in San Francisco: Saturday, August 2, to Friday, August 8


This week: the Ballet Folklórico performs Mexican dances in incredible outfits, the Cartoon Art Museum displays pages from The Punisher, the aquarium holds a Shark Week event for grownups, Glen Hansard sings in Oakland, and a 5-foot-1 actress embodies a 5-foot-10 boxer. As always, check Groupon for more exciting things to do in San Francisco.

Things to Do in San Francisco: Saturday, July 26, to Friday, August 1


This week: giant fish fly over Berkeley, Rufus Wainwright plays at Stern Grove, Rob Delaney proves that he’s just as funny off the web, travel agents plan outer-space vacations, and Eat Drink SF showcases chef favorites. As always, check Groupon for even more things to do in San Francisco.

Things to Do in San Francisco: Week of July 21, 2014


This week: games of Twister in Jessie Square, a DJ set from Chromeo, spooky stories at a hidden locale, standup comedy at the Pacific Pinball Museum, and too many old postcards to count at the Vintage Paper Fair. As always, check Groupon for even more things to do in San Francisco.

Things to Do in San Francisco: Week of July 14, 2014


This week: Filter brings the noise, a carnival takes over Candlestick Park, a theater ensemble plays with Macbeth, the symphony teams up with Pixar, and Japanese pop-culture icons pay the bay a visit. And if that’s not enough for you, check Groupon for more fun things to do in San Francisco.

Things to Do in San Francisco: Week of July 7, 2014


The Fourth of July has come and gone, but there’s plenty left to celebrate—the power of pony friendship, for instance. This week, get close to some bronies, support local hip-hop artists, watch artists as they draw, judge air-guitar performances, and drop by Petaluma for an outdoor festival. Of course, you can also check Groupon for more things to do in San Francisco.

Fasten Your Safety Pins: Punk Fashion Hits the Met


Andrew Bolton admits that he tried to spike his hair as a kid, but the look didn't suit him. "Whatever I did, I looked preppy," he told the New Yorker.

Things to Do in San Francisco: Week of June 8, 2014


This week: John Waters chats about riding in cars with strangers, Aimee Mann and Ted Leo rock out, and outdoor festivals fill up the weekend.

Nine Fashionable Ways to Carry Your Phone During a Workout


Surprise: exercise armbands can be stylish, and pockets can be ironed onto almost anything.

Five Important Lessons for Beginner Gardeners and People Who May Have Killed the Only Houseplant They’ve Ever Owned


When I moved into my college dorm room, my mother’s gift to me was a jade plant. She said that they were notoriously hardy, and that I would only need to water it every once in a while, when its leaves looked parched.

We Brought Back Bedazzling


Look at how happy the woman in this commercial is.

Should You Cover Your Skin in Gold or Caviar?


Sometimes, it’s not enough to simply appreciate the finer things in life—you also have to spread them on your face. Here are five ultra-luxe skincare ingredients.

Best Food That Could Kill You If It Wasn't in Food Form


At Uni Sushi, I wanted to order my sea-urchin gonads with rice in case they proved too intense. However, I mixed up “sushi” and “sashimi,” thereby committing to the roe and nothing but the roe. Luckily, instead of a fishy aftertaste, the urchin had an unobtrusive, nutty sweetness (almost like pumpkin!) that lingered and convinced me to try the restaurant’s ice-cream variant. The dessert was a deliciously crisp take on the roe and much lighter than regular ice cream.

Yes, Bathing With Eels Is a Thing. Apparently It’s Exfoliating.


Of course, not everyone can afford a trip to the China spa that does it. Luckily, there’s also DIY body scrubs.

10 Steps to a Flawless Runway Walk


A mesmerizing walk is the mark of a great model and a pretty good hypnotist. Here’s how you can master the technique now that schools no longer consider it part of the core curriculum.

What is Ayurveda, Anyway?


Are you a vata, a pitta, or a kapha? Think carefully, because your answer could determine what oils you use for your daily abhyanga.

Seven Lucky Lip Balms for Winter


The annoyances of winter are many: cold temperatures, slush-filled streets, and mittens that make it hard to peel an orange while skiing. Thankfully, some of the obnoxious effects of the season—dry, chapped lips, for example—can be easily rectified, given the right tools. Here are seven lip balms capable of standing up to Jack Frost.

The Many Ways to Whiten Your Teeth


If you've ever wondered how to get white teeth, part of the problem may be that it's not just tobacco and coffee that stain our pearly whites—foods such as carrots and oranges can cause teeth to yellow over time. And even if you’re hyperconscious of oral hygiene, your genetics and age still have a hand in your tooth shade.

Geek Out Over These Gift Ideas from Chicago Comics


Raphael Espinoza talks midnight movies, must-read horror comics, and the nerdiest TV remote ever made.

Peterson Garden Project’s Holiday Market Isn’t Just for Green Thumbs


To some gardeners, each winter might seem like a mini-apocalypse, a time when plants wither and spirits droop. But the folks at the Peterson Garden Project aren’t gloomy. “Wintertime is the time for planning,” says program coordinator Lindsay Shepherd. She outlines several projects that planters might undertake when the snow hits: composting, taking a class on seed starting, or flipping through seed catalogs, which tempt gardeners with pictures of plump vegetables, or as Lindsay dubs it, “seed porn.”

Found a Hip Sneaker Company, See the World


Bucketfeet founders Raaja Nemani and Aaron Firestein have trouble staying put. Together they’ve been to dozens of foreign countries across six continents, often settling down for months at a time. So it makes sense that they’d want to protect the most sacred of traveling tools: feet. Since founding their business in 2011, the pair has worked with designers and street artists from around the world to design canvas sneakers whose wild patterns seem to draw attention wherever they tread.

A Midnight Visit to Fantasy Costumes


Just before midnight on October 25, the last Friday before Halloween, Fantasy Costumes (4065 N. Milwaukee Ave.) in Portage Park is still swarming with customers. Wandering a store that’s more than a city block long, they shuttle past walls of hanging masks, shelves of superhero spandex, and model heads sporting fantastically colored wigs. Some pause occasionally to duck into the black spaceship escape pods that are the store’s pop-up changing rooms.

Lincoln Park Zoo's Demon Monkeys, Naked Mole Rats, and Other Creepy Creatures


A trip to the Lincoln Park Zoo proves that the cult of celebrity exists even in the animal kingdom. Crowds flock to the lions, bears, and gorillas, or to see the newest baby as it teeters about on four adorable legs. But what about the animals that prompt ewws instead of awws? Lincoln Park Zoo has its share of them, too: snakes, cockroaches, bats, and rodents that rarely see the spotlight. Though they might not be as attractive as the more popular beasts, they have their own quirks, as well as caretakers who are eager to refute their unsavory reputations.

Up Close and Supernatural: Chicago-Style Tricks and History at "The Magic Cabaret"


Ask anyone to name three great magicians, and you're likely to hear a combination of Harry Houdini, David Blaine, and David Copperfield. Ask a lifetime Chicagoan, and they might drop some less familiar names, including Bert Allerton and Marshall Brodien. But if you ask Joe Diamond and David Parr, be prepared for a full-on history lesson.

Stitched in Chicago: A Journey Through Stock Manufacturing Company


About the last word that comes to mind when you hear "Chicago factory" is "fashionable." But the five men in charge of Stock Manufacturing Company are aiming to change that. Inside a weathered building in Garfield Park, Jim Snediker, Jason Morgan, Tim Tierney, Mike Morarity, and Areill Ives are developing and producing clothes to sell through their online store. Jason says he and his partners prefer Chicago to the "clutter and cutthroat" vibe of New York's Garment District. Here, he says, "Everyone wants to help elevate the whole industry and see each other succeed."

The Triumph of Tradition at Club Lago in River North


Lago means lake in Italian, but Club Lago co-owner GianCarlo Nardini doesn’t put too much stock in names. “No one in my family has ever owned a boat," he says, scrutinizing the sailboat paintings on the walls. “The maritime paraphernalia was here when my grandpa bought the place.” Along with the red vinyl booths, terrazzo flooring, and checkered tablecloths, the pictures are old-school holdovers from the 1950s. They might not reflect the presiding family’s maritime hobbies, but they’re authentically old-school nonetheless.

Manual Cinema Casts Shadows in Onscreen Stories


The five company members of Manual Cinema don't need a stage to put on their brand of theater. What they do need is a portable screen, around three overhead projectors, and hundreds of paper puppets to serve as characters in stories scored by live music. The company’s puppeteers move these cutouts across transparencies on the projectors, creating scenes that range from simple to mind-bending. In one, a figurine traverses a desert full of rock formations. In another, a woman loses herself amid distorted images in a carnival mirror-maze.

Curiosity Shop: Vintage Taxidermy and Antique Oddities at Andersonville’s Woolly Mammoth


Woolly Mammoth's taxidermy collection creates a "motionless zoo" amidst the antique shops of Andersonville.

Five Finds: A World of Odd Objects at Surplus of Options


Twice a month, Sarah Kraut and Carlos Chavarria get in their pickup truck and go hunting for vintage knickknacks, furniture, and art. But make no mistake—they aren’t pack rats. "We've been in enough places to see what can happen if you keep taking things home," says Sarah, referencing the abandoned houses and estate sales that yield much of the stock at Surplus of Options. The duo will scout more often during flea-market season, but otherwise, they wait for sellers—and their quirky treasures—to come to them.

Hunting Down a Story in Hyde Park’s Bookshops


Every year, the University of Chicago hosts one of the world's largest scavenger hunts, sending students after "items" such as live tigers or an appendix in a jar. The surrounding neighborhood of Hyde Park, however, offers one of the oldest and most perpetual scavenger hunts of all time: the pursuit of a good book. From ancient texts bound in monastic vellum to the latest issue of an X-Men spinoff, the hunt's prizes are just as varied as the stores that hold them.