ClassPass is offering a one-month free trial for the new year—and here’s how it works

January 21, 2020

If you’re looking for a budget-friendly way to experience trending fitness classes—from cycling to boxing to yoga to rowing to barre, and more—then you might want to think about ClassPass.

With over 30,000 health clubs in 28 countries worldwide to choose a class from, the three-year-old company, based in New York City, offers the chance to sample different workouts, depending on your mood, fitness level, and schedule.

Their standard introductory offer is typically two weeks, Business Insider reports, but now, Class Pass is offering a one-month free trial for the new year. You can take up to six classes during your free month, and you can cancel your membership whenever. If you don’t cancel, though, you’ll be auto-enrolled in a monthly membership. That’s all you’ll need. You won’t need a membership to any of the clubs.

And since budget-friendly options can often mean second-rate options, it’s nice to know ClassPass typically features popular studios, including a majority of the fitness classes you’ve likely heard of from word-of-mouth or have actually been meaning to try.

According to Business Insider, after your free trial, you pay a monthly membership fee that’s based on your city and how many classes you want to take each month. The lowest tier membership starts at $9, but you should expect to pay something closer to $39 (the rate in cities like Minneapolis) to $49 (the rate in New York City) per month for four to nine classes.

Research contact: @businessinsider

Yelp’s top restaurant for 2020 actually is a food truck

January 20, 2020

With more than 3 million restaurant listed on its crowd-sourced review forum, , determining the top eatery nationwide was no small chore for Yelp—but a food truck serving Middle Eastern fare has been named number one on the service’s list of “Top 100 Places to Eat in 2020,” CBS News reports.

And it’s so popular, if you’re interested in ordering, you should save a little extra time for lunch: In San Diego’s South Park, the line of customers to get to the Shawarma Guys food truck stretches around the corner.

They don’t have an exclusive address or a single Michelin star—but they do get 530 reviews and five full stars on the site. Iraqi-American chef Bryan Zeto opened up in front of his friend’s liquor store 11 months ago after he quit his job selling cell phones. His father Samer is a sous chef.

The key ingredient in their popular beef plate is wagyu beef from Australia.

“We would have regulars come three to four times a week. Some people would come twice a day,” Zeto stold CBS News. “We have been working 12 to 13 hours a day, every day for the past year. But it is fun. I love what I do now.”

Currently, he serves up to 900 plates a day. “The business quadrupled overnight. We had lines a block and a half up,” Zeto said.

But he said the best part is driving a dream, with his dad in the passenger seat.  “Anything for my kids,” Samer said. “Anything for my son to be successful.”

Research contact: @CBSNews

Spotify offers to generate a playlist that your dog will love

January 17, 2020

Some romantics fondly remember making mixed tapes and CDs for their objects of affection in days gone by. But for the furry, four-legged kind?

If hand-curating a playlist that you and your pup can agree on seems like a daunting task, streaming digital music and podcast service Spotify thinks it’s up for the job, Fast Company reports.

The Stockholm, Sweden-based music service—which currently operates out of 16 nations worldwide—released Pet Playlists on January 16. The company says the project considers both “your listening habits and your pet’s attributes” to generate playlists “you both can enjoy.”

And ass you might have guessed— no, there’s not a ton of research out there to back any of this up.

However, some studies have suggested that that Fido might prefer a few musical genres over others, Fast Company notes. Indeed,  recent research conducted by the University of Glasgow and the Scottish SPCA has found that dogs chill out while listening to reggae and soft rock. Classical music also “appears particularly beneficial” for dogs, while heavy metal seemed to encourage them to bark.

While Spotify acknowledges that “music for pets isn’t an exact science,” the Pet Playlists tool considers whether your dog is relaxed or energetic, shy or friendly, curious or apathetic. The company says it consulted with cellist and musicologist David Teie, who’s built a business selling music to cat owners, to shape “how the algorithm was programmed.”

Privacy-conscious pets may be reassured by Spotify’s promise to only use the information you share about your pet to make your playlist. According to Spotify’s FAQ, “the information is not stored and is not used for any other purpose.”

Spotify’s new tool also caters to birds and hamsters. Have a different kind of companion animal? The company encourages you to try it anyway:”You may find your rabbit really likes hamster music!”

Spotify: @FastCompany

NutriDrip to offer aging and hangover IV infusions at Wynn Hotels and Equinox

January 16, 2020

At Clean Market, New Yorkers have a wide menu of healthy offerings to choose from, such as “superfood smoothies” and bowls. Also available à la carte: vitamins delivered intravenously at the NutriDrip bar, CNBC reports.

They are not cheap, but the 30-minute IV infusions—administered by medical professionals—are growing in popularity.

And lately, CNBC says, they’ve been attracting new business partners, too, from the Wynn Hotel, which plans to start offering NutriDrip in Las Vegas early this year; to fitness and lifestyle company Equinox. Indeed, Equinox executives Jeffrey Weinhaus and Harvey Spevak were early investors in NutriDrip.

NutriDrip sells 15 vitamin infusions. The classic Nutribody drip aims to support fat loss with a combination of l-carnitine, taurine, vitamin C, and B complex, among others.

There also are popular hangover remedies—Basic Recover, Super Recovery, and Mega Recovery— which range in price from $119 to $199, depending on how much you’re hurting from the night before.

What’s more, the Nutriyouth drip claims the ability to “help stop cellular aging in its tracks” with a mixture of anti-aging enzymes, molecules and vitamins for $599.

Founded five years ago, NutriDrip is looking to expand in 2020 with a Series A funding round in the first half of this year. Executives declined to say how much money they’re looking to raise.

“Over the last three years, IV nutrient therapy, specifically NutriDrip, has grown, at like a 60% to 80% year-over-year growth rate, even while opening new stores,” co-founder Asa Kitfield told the cable business news channel. “So we’re really excited to see what sort of saturation the market can see on like a local and national basis.”

“As many of our guests now expect a more holistic set of wellness options, we have evolved to include broader wellness themes related to functional wellness, physical fitness, and healthy cuisine,” a Wynn Hotel spokesperson told CNBC; adding “providing IV therapy is one more way to help our guests maintain personal wellness routines while they are traveling.”

Celebrities, including Madonna, Rihanna and Simon Cowell, are reportedly fans of IV vitamin treatments, but it’s drawn some controversy.

“Anytime you poke a hole in somebody’s vein, there is some risk that they’ll bleed excessively. There’s also some risk that they will clot excessively,” Dr. David Katz, founding director of Yale University’s Prevention Research Center told CNBC. “So the risks are not great. And the risks are not very common, but there are risks, and the only way to justify any risk in medicine is by a greater likely benefit.”

The doctor said there is “minimal evidence that there is any meaningful benefit for most people.”

On the other hand, Kitfield said NutriDrip doesn’t make grand promises about its treatments—but the company and customers clearly believe in its benefits.

“When you look at our business, where 50% to 60% of our revenue comes from regulars, and that’s why we continue to grow, the proof is kind of in the pudding,”Kitfield said.

According to the Global Wellness Institute—a nonprofit that tracks the $4.5 trillion industry—while IV therapy and alternative medicine is a small portion of the overall spending, it’s among the fastest-growing sectors.

Research contact: @CNBC

What’s the difference between a $7 hyaluronic acid and one that costs $300?

January 15, 2020

Hyaluronic acid is a skin care ingredient that is said to hydrate, plump, and protect the skin from moisture loss. Its moisturizing properties have been widely promoted—and it is trending as the key ingredient in products from drugstore and budget-friendly face cream brands like Neutrogena ($21) and cult favorite The Ordinary ($7); to prestige lines like Dr. Barbara Sturm, a brand that sells a 30 ml bottle of hyaluronic acid serum for $300.

But because you can pick it up, literally, at thousands of outlets, consumers are find it challenging to understand which products give the best results, The Huffington Post reports.

What’s a skincare junkie to do?

First, says HuffPost, consult such online beauty communities as Reddit and Makeup Alley, as well as the Sephora message boards, where buyers share what is and isn’t working for them.

One of the top questions on the message boards discussing hyaluronic acid is, “Is it worth it?” Does it really make a difference whether you purchase a $7 product or upgrade to a $300 serum? HuffPost talked to dermatologists to find out.

“Hyaluronic acid is a natural sugar found in our skin,”  Joshua Zeichner, director of Cosmetic and Clinical Research in Dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, told the news source. “It is what provides bounce and plumpness to the skin. Think of it like the stuffing in your mattress. As a humectant, hyaluronic acid is essentially a sponge that binds to 1,000 times its weight in water.”

But, even though the humectant is a powerhouse, that doesn’t mean it can do it all.

When it comes to fully moisturizing and plumping your skin, “hyaluronic acid alone might not do the job,” Victoria Fu, who is half of the chemist duo at skin care brand Chemist Confessions told HuffPost. “Look for products that pair with other types of hydrators such as glycerin, glycols, urea, panthenol, [or] sodium PCA. One ingredient won’t solve all your moisturizing troubles—skin hydration is a team effort.”

What drives up the cost of hyaluronic acids? A few thing—among them: molecular weight, added ingredients, and product packaging.

“There are some studies that suggest smaller molecular weight HA can penetrate somewhat better and can have long-term anti-aging benefits on top of hydration,” Fu said. The Ordinary’s $7 HA formula combines low, medium, and high molecular weight hyaluronic acid, while Dr. Sturm’s $300 HA uses short- and long-chain molecules (low and high weight).

For those of us who weren’t paying attention in chemistry class, Zeichner kindly breaks the science down for us. “Smaller molecules can better penetrate through the outer skin layer to give more of a plumping effect,” the doctor told HuffPost, explaining that the smaller molecules can go farther into the skin.

“Long-chain HA, because of its large size, does not penetrate well through the skin and provides a hydrating effect to the outer skin’s layer.” Zeichner says many over-the-counter products stick to high and medium molecular weights because “there is some data that low molecular weight HA may actually promote inflammation in the skin.”

Fu told HuffPost that molecular size “can certainly drive up the cost of the product. However, it also heavily depends on concentration, support ingredients or any sort of special testing that was done on the HA product.”

Does the percentage of HA in a product play a role in pricing, like it does with retinol, glycolic acid. and vitamin C?

“It’s hard for us personally to shell out $300 for a hyaluronic acid serum,” Lu and Fu told HuffPost. Speaking to the Dr. Barbara Sturm product, they said, “While having exotic antioxidants like purslane can certainly make it more effective than the average economical HA product, we’re just not sure it’s $300-worth effective.”

Michelle Wong, a chemist behind the blog Lab Muffin, uses her social media platforms to share the science behind product development while giving tips on which products are worth buying. Wong agrees that “hyaluronic acid products do not need to be very expensive,” adding, “the pricing of almost all beauty products are based on marketing and consumer perception rather than the actual cost of ingredients.”

But Lu recommends that readers “[look] … for products that have gone through actual clinical testing” if you are in the market for a prestige-priced HA. “Clinical testing means that a brand paid to test their product on a group of subjects with a third party clinic and take measurements to show actual efficacy. We think this is a great and meaningful way to substantiate marketing claims,” Fu told HuffPost.

Research contact: @HuffPost

Will adjustable pillows be 2020’s weighted blankets?

January 14, 2020

You can customize your car, your pizza, your sneakers, and now, your pillow. If you get “all bent out of shape” when you lay your head down for a night’s sleep, this might just be the product for you.

While adjustable pillows may not generate the buzz weighted blankets did a couple of years ago, manufacturers are banking on their popularity. “Some 50% of the pillow models released in the last six months have some sort of customizable feature,” Bill Tuck, co-founder of Tuck.com, a sleep resource website, told The Washington Post recently.

While mattresses usually get the blame when you don’t sleep well or when you wake up with a sore back, a pillow is as (or more) important, Philip Schneider, an orthopedic spine surgeon practicing in Chevy Chase, Maryland, told the news outlet. “Without a comfortable, appropriate pillow, you’re likely not to have a good night’s sleep.”

 Those sentiments are echoed by Gil Kentof, a chiropractor in Franklin, Tennessee, who specializes in neck and shoulder pain, the Post says. “The problem is not your head, but your neck, and finding something to fill the gap between your head and shoulders so your head and spine are aligned.” He and Schneider agree that side sleepers are the most likely to benefit from a customizable pillow.

Adjustable pillows typically fall into two types: fill or insert. Those sold by LaylaCoop Home Goods, and Snuggle-Pedic are stuffed with small chunks of shredded memory foam and microfibers. Unzip the cover, remove the fill to suit and store the excess in a zip-lock bag.

Others—such as the ones made by LeesaHelix,and Brookstone (sold through Bed Bath & Beyond)—offer removable inserts.

Either style allows you to increase or decrease the loft (thickness) and/or firmness. Expect to pay between $50 and $125, or about the same as a premium down or memory foam pillow.

A stiff, sore neck sent Julie Ward hunting for a new pillow, the Post recounts. The Nashville-based public relations consultant was convinced that she could find the perfect one at a bargain price from a big-box retailer. Complicating matters: She wanted king-size pillows, which are not only larger, but also thicker.

“I scrutinized all the regular pillows, bought the one that seemed best and brought it home. What seemed perfect in the store would be too thick when I went to bed,” she recalls. “I would return to the store, find another promising pillow, lay it on a flat surface, awkwardly rest my head against it and leave full of optimism.” None worked. After three shopping trips, Ward had nothing to show for her efforts except three new pillows for overnight guests.

At that point, she told the newspaper, she turned to online retailers for customizable options and found a Snuggle-Pedic adjustable model. Ward unzipped the cover and removed some of the stuffing, repeating the process several times until it was her preferred height. “You can’t go wrong with a pillow that is totally adjustable. It’s a foolproof option,” she says.

Think an adjustable pillow will fill your needs? The Washington Post recommends that you consider the following before putting your money down: .

 Take your sleep position into account. According to Schneider, side sleepers need a fuller pillow to prevent the neck from tilting. Stomach sleepers need a thinner pillow, so the head doesn’t hyperextend backward. Back sleepers should opt for a thin to midsize pillow so as not to flex the head forward. Consider body size as well. Those with really big shoulders or chests may have to adjust accordingly to find a pillow that supports the nape of the neck and keeps the head aligned with the body.

Be prepared for a trial run. Multiple factors affect sleep, including temperature, noise, light, what you ate for dinner, and even the day’s news. If you are restless that first night, give your pillow a chance. You may have to play with it a bit. Expect a break-in period of a week or so as your body adjusts.

Ensure it is washable. While it’s important to wash your pillowcase on a regular basis, if you are investing in an adjustable pillow, which is likely to last several years, experts advise that you get one that is machine washable or at minimum has a removable cover that you can wash.

Research contact: @washingtonpost

IRobot to expand from Roomba vacuums and lawnmowers to household helpers with arms

January 13, 2020

Need a little more help around the house? Bedford, Massachusetts-based IRobot, maker of the disc-shaped Roomba robotic vacuum cleaner, hopes to have a product on the market within five years that will have arms to load dishes, pick up clothes, or bring food from kitchen to table, The Boston Globe reports.

Indeed, prototypes of the arms have been produced in the told the Globe in an interview on the sidelines of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last week. IRobot’s main new hardware launch for 2020 will be its Terra lawnmower.

The company, which has been in business for 20 years, previously developed robotic-arm technology for its military business unit. The company sold that business in 2016 but kept the arm assets.

At the time, the company didn’t know how to adapt the technology for mainstream use, Angle said, but new advancements in computer vision and the ability for robots to map out a person’s home make such devices possible.

Other technology companies also are working on home robots, including Amazon and Samsung Electronics, according to the Globe—but so far they are focusing on devices with video conferencing and voice assistants, rather than the ability to actually perform physical tasks.

The trade war between the U.S. and China could put a damper on iRobot’s ambitions in the near term. Angle said it’s had a “negative impact” on business. “We are having to scale back R&D and profitability” targets, he said. The company started shipping its lower-cost Roomba vacuum cleaner robots out of Malaysia, instead of China, in November, he said.

Research contact: @iRobot

Make-up that is ‘self’-centered is L’Oreal’s next big bet

January 9, 2020

France’s fashion sense is timeless, simple, and elegant—but it is not entirely unobtainable. In fact, L’Oréal—the Paris-based beauty group— is betting big on its next product to help women everywhere transform themselves in a style that is uniquely and solely their own.

It’s a tiny device that’s only 6.5 inches tall and weighs just over one pound, but will enable makeup mavens to create personalized cosmetics at home, Fortune Magazine reports.

At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this month, the French cosmetics and personal products giant will debut a new hardware device called Perso, which whips up compressed beauty formulas from physical cartridges to create on-the-spot skincare, lipstick, and foundations.

Think of it like a mini makeup Keurig, Fortune suggests—but, instead of getting a specialized espresso drink, you’ll be creating a unique pink lipstick or skin cream.

It’s a long-term relationship with the consumer,” Guive Balooch, head of L’Oréal’s Technology Incubator, told the magazine in an interview on the show floor.

For skincare, Perso’s app will take into account the local air quality, temperature, humidity, and other factors that fluctuate and affect the skin. It then creates a recipe that even adjusts depending on if you are applying the skincare formula in the morning or the evening.

Perso’s hardware features a proprietary motor system located at the top of the device, which moves and compresses the formula from the cartridges at the base of the machine in an upward motion to the dispensing tray above for a clean application.

The lipstick option is more focused on playful trends. Perso has a base of three different colors: light pink, red, and purple, and to create a shade, users can take a picture of themselves and the app will then recommend a shade based on hair color, clothing and skin tone. Users can also create shades based on what’s trending on social media at the time.

Perso is essentially all about tech-enabled personalization, a trend making waves in a variety of consumer product categories, including apparel, food and beverage, and footwear.

“Everyone understand the value of personalization and no one owns that more than beauty because it is in their foundation,” Genevieve Aronson, VP of Communications at Nielsen told Fortune Magazine.

Embracing personalization is a way for beauty makers like L’Oréal to boost the industry’s sales. In-store beauty sales total approximately $37 billion in the U.S. market, but annual growth is reported at just 1% over the past two years, according to Nielsen. And yet personalized products are 1.7 times more likely to drive sales, says Aronson. So placing a greater emphasis on personalization can potentially help jolt beauty sales.

“The only way to achieve beauty for all is through technology,” says Balooch. “You can go to a [makeup] counter and find 40 to 50 shades of foundation. But the reality is, there are far more people with different shades than those options.”

In fact, testing for Perso hit a bit of a snag during the development process when Balooch and his team realized that the application wasn’t quite nailing skincare recommendations for individuals with darker skin tones. “It was a lot harder than we had anticipated,” Balooch says, adding that for foundation, 50% of women say they can’t find the exact shade they’d like at the store.

So L’Oréal spent an additional six months testing the product with 400 women, varying from very light to very dark skin. “We realized we had to measure peoples’ skintones, put the product on skin, and then achieve the match,” says Balooch.

Still, some key details need to be ironed out for Perso. Balooch says L’Oréal hasn’t yet solidified distribution for the Perso system and no-pricing structure has been set for the device or the cartridges that would need to be re-ordered over time. The goal is to launch the technology in 2021.

Research contact: @FortuneMagazine

H2-whoaaa: This genius water bottle will help you reach your hydration goals

January 8, 2020

If “drink more water” is among your list of goals for 2020, this could be the year you actually keep a resolution, thanks to a new-fangled water bottle from Uncommon Goods.

According to a report by House Beautiful, the bottle—which is made of sturdy glass with a stainless steel cap—has cute markings and motivational phrases that will keep you on a strict drinking schedule throughout the day.

If you follow the bottle’s schedule, you’ll finish two full bottles between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. At that rate—since the bottle holds 16 fluid ounces—you’ll get at least 32 ounces of water in per day.

There’s even a little water faucet graphic at the bottom to remind you when it’s time to refill, and the font is particularly catchy. It almost looks like handwriting, so it’s like a little affirmation to yourself.

And if this bottle sounds like your new favorite gizmo, there’s more good news: it’s under $20! That’s right, for just $19.99 you can be the best, most hydrated version of yourself in 2020. Let’s all drink to that.

Research contact: @HouseBeautiful

Throwing shade and some chill: Someone put air conditioning in a baseball cap

January 7, 2020

At the Consumer Electronics Show—the humongous trade show hosted annually by the Consumer Technology Association in Las Vegas— there’s something new to wrap your head around this year (or should we say, to wrap around your head?)

In years past, the show has seen everything from walking cars to smart diapers. And this year is no exception to the glorious strangeness, Fortune Magazine reports.

Pretty much everyone wears a baseball cap for protection from the sun and heat at one point or another—even when they are not at the ballpark. Now, entrepreneur Steve Feher is taking things to the next level—showcasing a cap that has air conditioning built in.

This is not his first “cool” device, either. Feher—who founded Feher Research in 1993 in Honolulu—has previously produced a personally air-cooled mattress pad, seat, pillowcase, and steering wheel,

The cap that he brought to CES this year foregoes refrigerants and instead uses thermoelectric technology to produce cooler air that, in turn, lowers the temperature of the scalp—as much as 22 degrees below the ambient temperature, he told Chris Morris of Fortune during an interview on the show floor.

The cap is a prototype, and Feher is looking for licensees at the show. It’s not exactly a fashion-forward item, as the cap needs to hook up to a battery system (which, Feher notes, weighs less than a “high quality pair of running shoes”).

The hat prototype itself weighs 305 grams, a bit more than a mini-can of soda. (The production model is expected to weigh a bit less.) Throw in the battery pack and you’re looking at more than 800 grams (just shy of 2 pounds.)

The cap is not in production yet, but with global warming affecting weather worldwide, it may be worth both the “wait” and the “weight.”

Research contact: @FortuneMagazine