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10 Life-Changing Things To Try In August

Because we tried them for you in July!

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Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed Life

The BuzzFeed Life editors are always trying new products, apps, tips, and DIY projects, and we decided it was time to start sharing the best of them with you. Each month, we'll post our recommendations for what's actually worth it. For the sake of transparency, items under "Things We Bought" and "Tricks We Learned" were purchased with our own money and/or were not the result of a PR pitch. Those under "Things We Tried" are items that were provided to us at no cost for the sake of review. (But: We didn't write about any stuff we scored for free this month!) Let us know in the comments what sorts of things you'd like us to review next month!

1. How to cook perfect bacon

Rachel W. Miller

For years, every time I cooked bacon, it ended up as curly (and pleasant) as the hair in every Glamour Shots photo from the '80s...a style that's not ideal for breakfast sandwiches. It was also unevenly cooked, and each batch left a coat of grease all over my stove. After years of disappointing bacon, I finally found a way around it: taking the bacon out of the fridge about 20 minutes before I plan to cook it. I let the bacon go from chilled to something closer to room temperature, put it into a cold pan (instead of a preheated one), and cook it over medium/medium-low heat. Turns out, cold bacon + a hot pan makes the bacon sizzle, splatter, and curl up. I've been using this trick for a few months now and my breakfast sandwiches are so much better for it. —Rachel W. Miller

2. How to remove wax from old candle jars

Last week, after a blissful four months of the best replication of pine trees I've ever smelled, the wax and wick on my beloved Roland Pine candle from the Soap And Paper Company were finally low enough that they could no longer carry a flame. It feels like a total waste to just trash a whole glass jar, but my previous attempts to clean out candle jars always ended in a waxy, sticky, and/or shattered mess. After a quick Pinterest search, I came across this DIY method that had never occurred to me.

The author suggests placing the jar in the freezer for at least an hour, though, like her, I forgot about it and left it there for about two days. The moment I took a knife to the thoroughly frozen wax, it cracked and pulled away from the jar. A couple more stabs and the wax fell out completely. I was worried that the soot and bits that remained would be a struggle to clean, but with just a quick wash in hot water and soap, the jar was clean as a whistle. And just like that, I have a new drinking vessel! I'm so excited about this method because 1) it was insanely easy, 2) it was insanely free, and 3) I now feel totally justified in buying a great-smelling candle that will last a long time and provide me with a new jar/bowl/vase when it's used up. —Lauren Paul

3. How to make perfect sugar cookies and icing

Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed Life

Getting sugar cookies to STAY in the shape you cut them in is perhaps the biggest struggle any amateur chef has ever faced in the history of human baking endeavors. Or at least, it's really freaking hard. So when I was tasked with making cookies shaped like boobs and butts (for WORK, obviously), it was important to find the perfect recipe.

All Recipes, one of the greatest and most overlooked recipe databases on the web, came to my rescue. I searched "best rolled sugar cookies" and this was the second link, but after reading a number of the 6,600-plus rave reviews, I realized the name was more than accurate. The actual best part of All Recipes, aside from having so many reviews that include extra tips on the execution, is how easy it is to change any recipe's serving size. This one made more than six dozen as the default, and while I do love cookies and boobs, that seemed like a bit much.

I still needed a recipe for royal icing that would take food coloring well, stay exactly where I put it, and, most important, harden quickly for cookie stacking. All Recipes saved the day again with this super easy icing recipe that was delicious and turned easily into little cookie bras.

Although this might have been my favorite baking project ever, I will definitely be pulling these recipes back up for Christmas to make some slightly more family-friendly shapes. —Jessica Probus

4. Murchison-Hume Garment Groom Stain Remover — $12

Natalie Brown

Dry cleaning is a chore that I take no pleasure in doing, and I'm a sweaty person prone to BO if I don't reapply deodorant halfway through the day. That means I put off cleaning and wearing some my favorite dresses for months at a time, especially during the summer. At least that was the case until I grabbed some of this Murchison-Hume Garment Groom Stain Remover on the clearance table at T.J.Maxx.

I've been using it regularly for a little over a month now. It's a plant-based stain remover and clothes refresher that somehow magics away the smell in the underarms in my dresses and all the other smells that end up in my clothes after wearing them on a hot day. I always spray it on my clothes the night before I plan to wear them so it has time to dry. It doesn't leave a scent on my clothes at all (so it doesn't compete with my perfume), it just takes away the bad smells that were already there. And while I will eventually take my clothes to the dry cleaners again, this is a lovely way to extend the length of a professional cleaning. —Natalie Brown

5. Stress Doctor App — $4.99

Alanna Okun

I've written before about the anxiety-tracking app I use almost every day; it's been the most effective way I've found to keep a log of my mental health, and to remind myself that the good days still outweigh the bad ones considerably. But there are still bad days — mornings when I wake up and am so overwhelmed by the tasks ahead that I can't get out of bed without a rush of nausea, moments at work when I don't know if I'm going to yell or burst into tears because my heart is pounding so fast. For those times, when panic attacks are imminent, I use an app called Stress Doctor. A wonderful friend recommended it after I described the dry heaving and the shortness of breath that creeps up on me whenever I need it the least.

It's a simple exercise that functions almost as a game. You put your finger over your phone camera in order to track your heartbeat (witchcraft!) and try to match it with the rise and fall of your breath. The app tells you when you're doing well by rewarding you with these little sideways yin yangs. It logs your progress over time and there's a section where you can add notes for context. (I never do, so I'm always left wondering what, exactly, it was that made my heart go so raggedly on April 9.)

It's no replacement for therapy or medication, but it is a small, sharp weapon. Just knowing the app is there makes me feel so much more in control; recently I was at drinks with my best friend and felt an attack starting to come on (work, a boy, too little sleep, too much world). I pulled out the app right there at the table and started my breathing. I did not win any little yin yangs, but I did manage to swallow the panic and also most of a beer. —Alanna Okun

6. Simple Human 30-Liter Step Trash Can — $40

Trash cans are not something I ever thought I would care about. Or spend money on. Or talk about at parties. But when I finally shelled out the $40 for this Simple Human model, I realized that my entire trash life up until that point had been fraught with misery. I talked myself into it because it's pretty (for a trash can — the bar is very low) AND it was the cheapest one in the fancy trash can section, which somehow felt like a bargain.

But this baby gets the job done in ways I never thought possible. The step function never breaks. There's a special lid mechanism that holds the bag in place so it never falls down along the side. It's easy to clean. It's sturdy, so prying pets can't get inside. And it keeps the smells ~inside~ where they belong. All the things I never knew I wanted from a trash can. —Jessica Probus

7. BodyGuardz ScreenGuardz Pure Premium Glass Screen Protector — $35

Arianna Rebolini

I drop my phone literally every day. It's a good day if I drop it only once. So when I bought my new Samsung Galaxy S5 (which I needed because I walked out my front door one morning, dropped my phone, and watched it bounce down six concrete steps) and the salesclerk asked if I wanted a case for it, it was a no-brainer. When he asked if I also wanted a screen protector — which was $35 — I was hesitant but went along anyway.

It's a good thing I did, because just over a month later, while walking across West 86th Street, I tripped in a pothole, completely wiped out, and basically used my phone to break my fall. It was bad; I was all bloodied up, my new tights were torn, and while quickly assessing the damage I realized my brand-new phone was shattered, again. OR SO I THOUGHT.

Turns out the ScreenGuardz Pure Premium Glass Screen Protector is a miracle worker. It shattered in the corner and right across the middle, but underneath it my phone was pristine. Instead of dropping a couple hundred on a new phone (or just living too long with a broken one), I spent another $35 on a new protector. Also cool: They offer low-cost replacements for life if you register your product and return the damaged one. I didn't realize this in time to take advantage of it, but it'll be good to know next time I inevitably lose my balance. —Arianna Rebolini

8. Jockey Women's Skimmies Slipshort — ~$20

BuzzFeed Life

I live in New York City, which means I do a LOT of walking. I love wearing skirts and dresses, but in the summer the whole sweaty chafing situation happening on the inner thighs can be a real issue. It's gotten to the point where I figure out what I'm going to wear for the day based on how much walking I think I'm going to do, because too much walking + a skirt or dress = swift and merciless chub rub discomfort. Just a fact of life.

WELL. I was complaining about this to my very wonderful mother-in-law, who told me that these Jockey Skimmies are the answer to all my problems. She then sent me a few pairs as a gift. I was skeptical at first but was basically converted within two seconds.

To answer some questions: No, they're not hot at all. No, they're not too tight and they don't feel like Spanx. No, they don't feel like you're wearing a diaper. You can get them in a longer version that comes about halfway down your thigh (my preference), but you can also get them shorter, if you prefer that. They kind of feel like you're wearing tights, but they're not as tight and restrictive. And they're really soft. And maybe the most important thing: I can wear skirts any damn day now, no matter how much walking I plan to do. It's awesome. —Carolyn Kylstra

9. MDSolarSciences Quick Dry Body Spray Broad Spectrum SPF 40 — $19

Jessica Probus

As a pale person who grew up in Florida, I've been searching for the perfect sunscreen since birth. Possibly even before. And while my pale and highly sensitive skin has been protected by any number of creams and sprays, none have really managed to be both pleasant to use and effective. Most creams are sand magnets and succeed in making my white skin look almost translucent when they fail to rub in all the way. Most sprays still need to be rubbed in and leave such a greasy residue that you become instantly slippery. Which is not as fun as it sounds.

But now that I've tried MDSolarScience's Quick Dry Body Spray, I will never use another brand again. It is legitimately quick dry — as in dries almost instantly — and doesn't leave ANY greasy residue. And it works for hours, even when swimming, without needing to be reapplied. I used SPF 40, stayed outside in direct sun for several hours, and even went in the water several times with no sign of a burn. At $19 a bottle, it's not a cheap investment, but it's totally and completely worth it. —Jessica Probus

10. Two\B Fit 31-Day Workout Plan — $39.99

instagram.com

Last month, BuzzFeed Life's Health Editor introduced me to the mesmerizing Instagram videos from training duo Two Bad Bodies. About a week later, I found myself really wanting a new workout routine; I'd been lacking motivation over the past few months, and neither my trusty yoga podcasts nor my gym membership were thrilling me. So I decided to see if Two Bad Bodies had any sort of workout plan I could try and was delighted to learn that they do. And the plan met all my criteria: The workouts are just 30 minutes, can be done at home, focus on strength training (but still include cardio), and don't require any equipment.

instagram.com

I accessed the workout videos through the new-to-me website Cody. Each of the four workouts (which you repeat once a week for a total of 16 workouts) consists of a 10-minute warm-up, two tabata workouts with three movements each (think: curtsy lunges, planks, and jumping-jack-esque cardio moves), and a five-minute cooldown. While I typically hate that sort of workout, the fact that these trainers are so chill and there's no high-intensity music removed the boot camp vibe that tends to stress me out.

Bonus: Once you buy the program through Cody, you can access the videos forever, and the fact that there's an app (which lets you save videos for offline use!) sets it apart from the many similar websites I've used.

There are minor things about the workouts that are less than ideal: One of the trainers mysteriously never speaks, the counts for one of the tabatas in the first video are wonky, and, after three weeks, the 10-minute warm-up started to feel really long. But I've just started doing five minutes of the warm-up and doubling up on either one or both of the tabata routines to keep things engaging and challenging. As my 31 days come to a close, I'm proud to say that I've completed 14 of the 16 workouts, which is possibly more workouts than I'd done in all of 2015. While I'll definitely start mixing some yoga back in in August, this program effectively got me off the couch and excited about working out again. —Rachel W. Miller

Every. Tasty. Video. EVER. The new Tasty app is here!

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