Shedding Some Light on Sunscreen Protection: What You Need to Know in the Heat of Summer



Summertime is heating up and that means another confusing trip to the sunscreen aisle. But not all sunscreens meet the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) criteria. A recent study found that 40 percent of top consumer rated sunscreens sold on Amazon did not adhere to AAD guidelines, including not being water and sweat resistant. Many others are also facing legal challenges alleging they are not performing up to their marketing claims. Board Certified New York Dermatologist Dr. Kally Papantoniou gives you what you need to know before you lather or spray.

Do you really need SPF 50 or higher?

SPF refers to the ability of a sunscreen to block ultraviolet B (UVB) rays, which cause sunburns, but not UVA rays, which are more closely linked to deeper skin damage. Both UVA and UVB contribute to the risk of skin cancer.

Dr. Papantoniou explains that, “The SPF rating is a measure of the time it would take you to sunburn if you were not wearing sunscreen as opposed to the time it would take with sunscreen. “SPF is not a consumer-friendly number,” says Dr. Papantoniou. “It is logical for someone to think that an SPF of 30 is twice as good as an SPF of 15 and so on. But that is not how it works.” According to Dr. Papantoniou, “An SPF 15 product blocks about 94% of UVB rays; an SPF 30 product blocks 97% of UVB rays; and an SPF 45 product blocks about 98% of rays. “After that, it just gets superfluous,” she says. Sunscreens with higher SPF ratings block slightly more UVB rays, but none offers 100% protection. Dr. Papantoniou recommends SPF 30 – 50 products to her patients, depending on their skin type and medical history.

How much sunscreen should you use?

You’ve probably heard people say to use an amount the size of a quarter. Wrong! You’re supposed to use a shot glass full of sunscreen on all exposed areas to get the full benefit. “And here’s something else you probably don’t know,” says Dr. Papantoniou.  “SPF only refers to UVB rays. There is no ratings scale for UVA protection. So look for the words “Broad Spectrum” on the label and specific ingredients. The most important ingredients to for UVA protection are avobenzone, titanium dioxide and zinc oxide.”

DO wear sunscreens rich in antioxidants

Natural antioxidants are the latest breakthrough in sunscreens and are a safe way to boost our natural immunity to the sun’s harmful rays. When layered or combined with a sunscreen, they add an extra level of protection. Some known antioxidants are green tea polyphenols, vitamin C, raspberry seed oil, astaxanthin, ferulic acid and reishi mushrooms.

Me with sunburn on my upper chest/neck area. OUCH!

Me with sunburn on my upper chest/neck area. OUCH!

MYTH: Your daily facial moisturizer needs to have SPF.

FACT: “Only one of the products you use each morning needs to have SPF of 30 or higher,” says Dr. Papantoniou. “SPF is SPF, regardless of whether it’s in your foundation or moisturizer.”

MYTH:  Using multiple products with SPF gives you greater protection.

FACT: “SPF isn’t an equation,” says Dr. Papantoniou. “You can’t use an SPF 15 primer and an SPF 20 foundation and get SPF 30 coverage. Your sun protection is only as strong as your highest SPF, which in this case would be 20.” Of course, if you’re dabbing foundation or moisturizer on only small areas of your face, it’s wise to double up on products that contain SPF to ensure total coverage.

MYTH: “If you’re wearing foundation, you don’t need sunscreen. A layer of makeup will protect your skin from the sun.”

FACT: Makeup will not act as a barrier for UV rays, even if it has an added SPF. “Testing has shown that the SPF protection from a makeup product alone is insufficient. That small amount of SPF is always a nice addition, but not enough to protect your skin,” says Dr. Papantoniou. Always apply sunscreen (or a moisturizer with broad-spectrum sun protection) under your makeup. If you’re worried about your skin looking greasy, there are plenty of great mattifying options for the face.

Here’s a reminder of how to properly protect yourself:

  1. Always wear a hat and sun protective clothing if you’re going to be out for long periods of time.
  2. Avoid the mid-day sun.
  3. Don’t be tempted to use that tube of sunblock you didn’t quite finish last year.  New summer, new sunblock.
  4. Slather on generous quantities of sunblock at least 30 minutes before you head outdoors: To achieve the SPF level on the label, you need a teaspoon on your face, and a shot glass-worth for your body. Don’t forget your ears, your lips, your hairline, and your scalp or part lines.
  5. Reapply every couple of hours, especially if you’ve been swimming or exercising.


About the author:

Dr. Kally Papantoniou is a Cosmetic Dermatologist, Board Certified by the American Board of Dermatology. She specializes in Injectables, Lasers, Body Contouring, Surgical and Medical Dermatology. Dr. Papantoniou is also a clinical instructor at Mount Sinai Health Center in New York City. She applies expert techniques and the newest technologies to treat her patients. Dr. Papantoniou focuses on providing her patients with the highest level of care, with special interests in natural and healthy alternatives to treatments and disease prevention. Connect with Dr. Papantoniou  via twitter @DrPderm or her website www.DrPapantoniou.com

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Do you or a loved one suffer from Mental Illness? You are not alone…



It saddens me in this day and age that there is still a stigma associated with mental health conditions. Why do people have to place a negative label on another person just because they suffer from a form of mental illness? People are people. Just because someone suffers from a mental health issue doesn’t mean they are any less of a person or that they are “flawed.”

According to the National Allience on Mental Illness Approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. (43.8 million, or 18.5%) experiences mental illness in a given year. One in five!

Think about you and four of your best friends, or four relatives. Statistically one of you will experience mental illness in a given year.

To be honest, that statistic seems pretty high. I would have thought it would have been 1 in 20.

Mental illness comes in many forms – depression, schizophrenia, bipolar, dementia, anxiety and schizophrenia to name a few.

Did you know that OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder) is considered a mental illness too?

I have dealt with anxiety since I was a little girl. To counter act it I used to sway back and forth when I was little or bite the inside of my mouth. Hugging something soft, like a plush animal, also brings me comfort when I feel anxiety.

I’m an adult now but there are times I catch myself swaying back and forth. I don’t even realize it when it happens. I also find that I still bite the inside of my house and if you saw how many stuffed animals I have around my home it’s clear that I still find comfort in them.

My son has anxiety too. When he was little he used to grab a tuft of his hair and twist it when the anxiety kicked in. I was worried he was going to start to pull his hair out.

depression, teen depression, pain, suffering, tunnel

I don’t know what causes my anxiety. I never had it checked out. I can pin point things that cause it. For example, I cannot stand repetitious sounds. Car alarms, people tapping their fingers on a table, people humming… thing like that bring on a lot of anxiety. My son has the same issues with sounds.

I also have a bit of an OCD. I cannot leave our home without checking to make sure the burners are turned completely off on the stove. We have a gas stove and I have a fear of the burners not being turned off resulting in a fire or gas leak. It doesn’t matter if I checked it already – I check it at least 2-3 times before I leave our home.

I may have forms of mental illness, but I do not consider myself “different.” I’ve got “quirks.” We all have quirks. That is nothing to be ashamed of and it’s not a good reason to bully anyone, label someone or put someone down. Guess what? NO ONE is perfect. We are all unique. Just because some suffers from a form of mental illness does not mean they are “diseased” and cannot function. Those are just myths made up by people who don’t really understand.

Bring Change to Mind  (BC2M), is a nonprofit organization built to start the conversation about mental health. It was co-founded by actress Glenn Close. The organization is hoping to amplify its mission by bringing this discussion about mental illness online to build the awareness, understanding, and empathy necessary to inspire action to end stigma and discrimination.

Check out this brief video about the stigma of having a mental illness.


I have a dear friend who suffers from chronic depression. I love her to bits. I wish there was something I could do to help her not have to take the medication she needs to keep it under control. She is an amazing person. Sweet, loving, funny and an extremely talented artist.

Bring Change to Mind would like to encourage people to share their stories about mental illness. It can be your own personal experience or the experience of a friend or loved one.

Feel free to share your stories on the Bring Change To Mind website, BringChange2Mind.org/stories/Share-Your-Story. You are also encouraged to share your stories on social media using the hashtag #MindOurFuture.

You are welcome to read and watch other people’s stories on these links – Read StoriesWatch Stories.

To coincide with this mission, Bring Change To Mind has created videos that showcase various stories, set to the song, “Ghost Story,” by Whitney Woerz, 


This is a powerful video. I really hope that you will take a few minutes to watch it, hear their stories and take in the beautiful song.

If you suffer from a mental illness, please know that you are NOT ALONE. There are organizations like Bring Change To Mind that are here to help you, or your loved one.

For more information please visit BringChange2Mind.org. They can also be found on social media. All of the link are found at the bottom of their website.

BC2M Logo


*I have partnered with Bring Change To Mind to bring you this information. Although compensated the opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way.

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Addiction: Understanding How it Impacts Families

When someone you care for is suffering from addiction, it can have a grave impact on you and others who love and care for them. You’re watching someone you treasure change physically and mentally. They’re no longer the same person you once knew. They often make reckless decisions without regard for how it will affect others. Their mood has changed and eventually it becomes harder and harder to get through to them. Essentially, this can take a toll on everyone from the children and spouse to parents and friends.

Seek Help for Everyone

Addiction really is a family disease. While the focus at the moment may be to address the issue and get help for your loved one, it is very important that you and those closest to them also get help. There are facilities such as Crestview Recovery, which offers drug rehab in Portland that can help everyone get through this trying time.

They will focus their attentions on helping your loved one to get sober and equipping them with tools so that they can maintain sobriety after leaving the program. However, most rehab facilities also offer family counseling which can prove beneficial for helping you to sort through your emotions as well as get the understanding you need to help them once they complete the rehab program. Therapy is an instrumental tool in helping all involved to understand the underlying cause of addiction and how they can rebuild their relationships.

The Impact of Addiction

Even if your loved one is not ready to seek help for their addiction is it important for you to seek help for yourself and other relatives that are negatively impacted by this disease. Below, is a breakdown of how addiction impacts the family to further your understanding for why you should seek help.

  • The Addiction is the Focus – Someone who is suffering from addiction has one main focus – finding a way to continue their bad habit. They become consumed with chasing a “high” that they begin to neglect other things that were once important to them. This leaves you feeling left out, uncared for, or unappreciated. It can essentially make you feel as if you’re secondary to their addiction which can lead to arguments and broken relationships.
  • Financial Stress – If you happen to live with an addict you may soon start to feel the impact of financial stress. Again, the addiction has become the focus. Whether they are addicted to drugs or alcohol, the costs to keep using them is high and it can lead to money issues. They can begin using more of their income to pay for the substances and therefore neglect bills causing a myriad of issues. If they begin to perform poorly at work causing a loss of employment, this too can wreak havoc on your finances causing stress.
  • Psychological Stress on Children – If children are involved, you can rest assure that addiction will have a psychological impact on them. Children don’t understand addiction entirely and this can cause underlying emotional issues that manifest in varying ways. Children may isolate themselves, start acting out in school, and even start participating in reckless activities as a way to express themselves. Understandably, someone they love and care for has changed and are no longer reliable.
  • Relationship Troubles – When your spouse is suffering from addiction it will have an impact on you. Not only are you watching them do harm to themselves, but you’re watching how it has impacted your finances, your children, and you. Financial troubles lead to arguments, not to mention that the changes in your partner’s behavior can cause you to stress.

When addiction is not taken care of, it can have long lasting effects on a family. You never want to see someone you care so much about go down a path of destruction, and knowing that there is essentially nothing you can do to help them (until they want it), makes it even harder. Trying to function, provide support, while still being there for the rest of your family can be emotionally draining. If you or someone you know is suffering from addiction, the best thing you can do for everyone is to seek help.


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Laugh All You Want With Always Discreet

“I am participating in a sponsored campaign hosted by Always Discreet®. I received I received free samples from P&G. All opinions stated are my own.”


Older Women

I’m a forty-something-year old woman. I don’t always like to admit my age. In my heart and mind I am much younger than my actual age. Sadly, I am starting to look my age. I am seeing wrinkles pop up here and there and I am always coloring my hair to rid it of the gray, white and silver that keeps coming back.

Growing up I used to listen to my mom, her friends and other older relatives talk about things that happen with age – in addition to the wrinkle and gray hair they would also talk about menopause and bladder leakage. Back then I told myself I would never let those things happen to me – or at least I’d try to hold them off as long as possible.

Fast forward to today. I see the wrinkles, I fight the changing color of my hair and I occasionally have to deal with bladder leakage.

The bladder leakage started about a year ago. It’s not a huge problem, and I hope it will never be, but its still concerning and I always worry about having a leak at the worst possible time.


I find that it happens at a lot at night. I get up at least once a night to use the bathroom. Sometimes I don’t wake up soon enough and even if I race to the bathroom there might be some leakage. Then I have to clean up and change underwear. It’s not something I want to do at 3:00 in the morning.

Trust me, it’s NOT a subject I am comfortable talking about. In fact, it’s embarrassing. But I know I am not alone. There are more than 40 million American women of all ages who experience bladder leaks, ranging from women who are middle aged or menopausal, have been pregnant, and are obese or diabetic.

I think I might have a sensitive bladder. Even when I was young I always had to go to the bathroom. That drove my dad crazy on a road trip from New York to Florida. We must have stopped at every rest stop along the way just for me. That is why he sent my sister and I back home on a plane rather than drive back to New York with me.

When you have a sensitive bladder the littlest thing can cause a leak including sneezing, laughing, coughing and exercising. 

One in three women have a sensitive bladder, and only one in seven women are using the right products designed for bladder leaks. Many women use products designed to handle periods, which are not designed for bladder leakage. I know this to be true from experience. I have used regular panty liners to protect against the occasional leak and they have not worked out well.

Always Discreet makes several products to help women who deal with bladder leakage including liners, pads and underwear. Always Discreet are from the Always brand, a global leader in feminine care that’s protected women for over 30 years. Always is my brand of choice when it comes to period protection, so it makes sense to choose them for bladder leakage too. 

Always Discreet products absorb leaks and odors in seconds, thanks to a super absorbent core that turns liquid to gel in seconds. The Advanced Core Technology absorbs leaks in seconds and locks away wetness for hours. The OdorLock™ Technology helps to neutralizes urine odor instantly and continuously. 


I have tried Always Discreet liners. I was concerned that they might be big and bulky. I was pleasantly surprised to find that they are very comfortable to wear. In fact, I barely feel like I am wearing any protection at all.

Now I can feel confident when I am out and about. There is no need to worry about something happening if I sneeze, cough or anything else that could trigger a leak.

Don’t let bladder leakage ruin your fun or affect your confidence. Give Always Discreet a try. You’ll be glad you did.

For more information visit the Always Discreet website. You can also check out the brand on Facebook. You can also see what others are saying about this subject by checking out the hashtag #LaughAllYouWant.

Are you having issues with bladder leakage?

Have you tried Always Discreet products?

Feel free to share your thoughts. I always love to hear from readers.


*I am participating in a sponsored campaign hosted by Always Discreet®. I received I received free samples from P&G. All opinions stated are my own.

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Off to Camp! Tick Prevention Summer Camp – Survival Kit for Parents

*WARNING: This post contains images of Ticks.

Tick Insect

Ticks are horrible, nasty, gross critters. I can’t stand them.

Growing up in the country our dogs were allowed to wonder freely in the woods. They would almost always come home with ticks. They are not easy to get rid of either.

One of my first blog posts was about how our dog (then a puppy) picked up A LOT of ticks from a stroll in a local park. I still remember driving home with him on my lap and the ticks crawling all over me. Gross!

Have you ever seen an engorged tick attached to a dog or cat? It’s disgusting. Even wore when you have to try and pull it off your pet.

Ticks can cause Lyme Disease. That is something you don’t want to get (or your pet either). My stepmother suffers from Lyme Disease. I see what she has to deal with on a daily basis. It’s horrible. It not only effects your life, but it changes it forever.

Have Lymes Disease is also very expensive, both for pets and humans.

This time of year many children and young adults are heading off to summer camp. Most camps are located in or around the woods where ticks are often found.

Below you will find many great and useful information and tips on how to prevent your camper from contracting Lymes Disease. This information is provided by ProjectLyme.org.

Project Lyme

Essential Tick Facts

Prevention is key. The focus is on preventing the bite in the first place to stop ticks in their tracks. Parents can protect their families from Lyme disease through daily tick checks and the use of tick repellent clothing.

Ticks are now in almost every state and are most active in the warmer months April-September. Each year, over 300,000 people in the US catch Lyme disease, which is caused by bacteria from a tick.

In 2014, 96% of confirmed Lyme disease cases were reported from these 14 states: Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maryland, Maine, Virginia, Minnesota, Delaware, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Wisconsin.

Learn to identify ticks: They come in small (larvae), medium (nymphs) and large (adult female/male) sizes. Nymphs are as small as a poppy seed and are around in the spring and early summer, and larger adult ticks come later in summer and fall. Their life span is approximately 2 years. Tick Identity Chart is here.

Most ticks crawl onto people from the ground – from the grass, brush, bushy areas, and leaf piles. Have your children wear closed-toed shoes with socks (not sandals or flip flops), and even better, pre-treat their shoes with permetherin spray before they go.

The sooner a tick is removed, the better. (It is still unclear if ticks must be attached for longer than 24 hours to pass on the Lyme disease infection). If a tick is infected, the chance of transmission increases with time.

Tick bites and tick-borne diseases are preventable.

Tick on Finger

Where do ticks live?

Ticks thrive in humid, dark, shady, wooded areas and taller grasses, leaf piles and along grassy creek beds.

Ticks can easily dry out, so the woods provide them with protection from the sun and wind where they can thrive longer.

Ticks do not drop on you from trees, jump or fly; they mostly attach at ground level and crawl up your leg.

Let your kids know it’s best to stay in the middle of the trail when hiking.

Note: Many people get bitten in their own backyards, or close to home.


3 Weeks Before Camp

Begin having Tick Talks and Tick Checks with your children so they learn how to be their own advocate and know when to ask for help.

Know your ticks: Tick identification Chart

Ask your camp how they handle ticks and Lyme prevention – and what precautions are in place.

Order Tick Kits that contain tick identification cards and removal supplies from Mainely Ticks: http://www.mainelyticks.com/supplies-kit.html

Order tick repellent clothing, gear and sprays (Information in links below).

Dog Tick


Teach your kids how to conduct a full body check when returning from outside: Video how to on YouTube here.

Check head, hair, on the back of your neck and in and around your ears

Inside your belly button

Around your waist

Between your legs

Under arms and on the backs of your knees

Your feet and toes

Maybe even get a tick check buddy (for those hard-to-see places!)

Unfortunately, a tick bite is painless – ticks like to burrow into the skin and suck on a person’s blood, but you don’t feel a thing

If your child thinks they have a tick embedded, they should go straight to their counselor to get it properly removed.

Tick Size

What to Pack

Wearing lightly-colored clothing makes it easier to spot ticks – long sleeves and pants are best.

You can purchase clothes that come treated with permethrin, a repellant that kills ticks on contact. (Clothes commercially treated keep their effectiveness for up to 70 washes).

Pre-treated clothes can be purchased directly from companies like Insect Shield, ExOfficio, or you can order Insect Shield clothing directly from Project Lyme to get a 20% discount with 10% going to tick prevention here.

Or you can even send your child’s own clothing directly to Insect Shield to be treated with permethrin – this also lasts for 70 washes. Information here also good for 20% discount.

Or you can treat them at home using a permethrin soak or spray kits available from Amazon. (NOTE: these last only about 3-6 washes).

Don’t forget their shoes! Since ticks hide in leaf litter and tall grasses, protecting their feet is really key. Tick repellent-sprayed shoes are the best defense against tick bites; just spray with Permethrin before the trip. How to here.

Sleeping bags and tents should also be sprayed. You can also purchase an Insect Shield Travel Sheet here.

Male Tick

All About Tick Repellents

No repellent is 100% effective. But DEET and Permethrin are well-known and effective repellents against ticks. Repellent clothing is more effective and less toxic to people than DEET sprays or lotions.

DEET is approved by the EPA and many brands come in easy-to-carry travel sizes that are perfect to take on camp adventures.

Health agencies offer conflicting advice about the DEET concentration safe for children. CDC recommends DEET with maximum concentrations of 20-30% for children’s protection from Lyme disease borne by ticks. Health Canada recommends DEET with concentrations no greater than 5-10% for children. But this weaker concentration may not offer a strong defense against ticks bearing Lyme disease.

We recommend DEET only when your kids do not have pretreated clothing, or they will be in a heavy tick area. For the best protection, spray DEET on exposed skin, and wear treated clothing.

Deer Tick

After Camp

Be aware of tick bite and Lyme disease symptoms: Symptom checklist is here.

If you’re worried about potential tick-transmitted diseases, place the tick in a plastic bag after you remove it. If any symptoms develop, you can bring the tick to your doctor’s office so that it can be properly tested.

Don’t let the fear of ticks keep your family from enjoying the outdoors this summer! Take these steps before you send them to camp for a little peace of mind.

For more information, visit us at www.ProjectLyme.org. Project Lyme is a global awareness non-profit organization dedicated to the prevention and early diagnosis of Lyme and other tick-borne disease. #TalkAboutTicks



*I posted this for the benefit of site readers. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are that of the author’s and do no necessarily reflect my own. 

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New Fiber Choice Flavor Drops



Do you eat a healthy diet? Do you make sure that you eat the recommended amounts of vitamins, minerals, protein and fiber on a daily basis?

I know we all try to eat a healthy, well balanced diet, but sometimes we need a little extra help. Especially when you are a busy person who is always on the go-go-go. It’s not always easy to make sure to eat a proper diet.

One thing I know for a fact I am lacking in my diet it fiber. Fiber is found in grains, fruits and vegetables. I’m not much of a grain or fruit eater, so the bulk of my fiber comes from the vegetables I eat. Sadly, that is not enough.

Fiber is important because it helps to keep your digestive system working properly to avoid constipation. Fiber can also make you feel fuller so you don’t feel the need to snack as often. Fiber also aids in your immunity.

I have tried several over the counter Fiber supplements in the past. Some of the fiber supplements you add to water tastes grainy and unpleasant. Fiber chewables often taste like you are eating chalk. They are dry and not very flavorable.

I found that Fiber Choice Gummies are tasty and I enjoy taking them every morning.

Now Fiber Choice has another fiber supplement available that is not only delicious, it’s also very convenient, portable and you honestly can’t tell that you are getting your fiber (no grainy or bad taste).

Fiber Choice Flavor Drops

The new product is Fiber Choice Flavor Drops, which is now available at your neighborhood Rite Aid.

Fiber Choice Flavor Drops come in a convenient, portable squeeze bottle. You can easily tuck it in your purse, gym back or suitcase and take it with you where every you go. This is especially great to have if you are traveling this summer. There is no need to take up room in your bags with bulky bottles.

To use the Fiber Choice Flavor Drops you simply need to squeeze 1 1/2 teaspoons (approx. 2-3 squirts) into 8 ounces of water, four times per day.

Not only does Fiber Choice Flavor Drops provide you with the fiber your body needs, it also encourages you to drink plenty of fluids during the day to stay hydrated. You should be drinking eight 8 ounce glasses of water on a daily basis.

I am fortunate that my family and I drink enough water each day (especially my son and husband who drink over a gallon a day). I have talked to friends and family members who struggle to drink enough water because they find water to be boring and flavorless. I have always encouraged people to try fruit infused water (your can easily make your own) or add a squirt of lemon juice to a glass of water.

Fiber Choice Flavor Drops adds an orange flavor to your water, making it less boring to drink.

Fiber Choice Orange Drops

You won’t believe you are drinking fiber. All you’ll notice is a refreshing, fruity taste that you can enjoy up to four times per day.

I received a sample of Fiber Choice Flavor Drops to try out for myself. Each container has approximately 14 servings.

I actually finished up the entire container. I need to zip over to our local Rite Aid to buy more. My teenage son wants to try it too.

If you would like to learn more about the new Fiber Choice Flavor Drops visit FiberChoice.com. You can also find the brand on Facebook and Twitter.

To find a Rite Aid location near you visit RiteAid.com. You can also check them out on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Do you feel like you get enough fiber in your diet? Do you take fiber supplements?

What do you think about the new Fiber Choice Flavor Drops?



*I have partnered with Rite Aid and Fiber Choice to bring you this information. Although compensated the opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way. 

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