As a self-described sleuth of Instagram trends, my eyes immediately perked up when I saw collagen- and chromium-infused beverages on my feed. “WHAT ARE THEY DRINKING AND WHY!!!” Upon further research, I learned that the aesthetically-pleasing bottle in the hands of Sophia Bush, Hailey Baldwin and Kate Hudson is Dirty Lemon — the organic lemon juice brand that is “dirtied” with different healthy ingredients.
Founded in August of 2015, the NYC-based brand currently offers nine flavors. They recently launched a drink (which is now discontinued) with CBD (cannabidiol) in 2018 — which sold out in under two days — as well as an immunity-boosting elixir in collaboration with Vogue.
Dirty Lemon targets millennials and Gen Z’ers alike by exclusively selling their products via text message, which allows them to build relationships with their clients. In New York, the brand’s parent company opened its first cashier-less store, “The Drug Store,” where you grab a bottle, text your “purchase” to the Dirty Lemon number, and your card is charged later.
Each 16-ounce bottle comes with a base of organic lemon juice (with 1 gram of sugar), ocean minerals and sea salt. For $65, you receive an elevated six-pack at your doorstep enclosed in a thermal sleeve. Intrigued, I reached out and Dirty Lemon sent four different flavors to complement my daily routine, which is how I ended up drinking four bottles a day for a week — chromium in the morning, collagen and turmeric in the afternoon and valerian at night! Six days of Instagram clout? Sign me up.
Flavor: +chromium – Thermogenic Elixir
Four large boxes arrive at the office. My coworkers are worried … they gasp and ask if I am going on a juice cleanse as we have quite a few fad diets roaming around. I explain the concept to them and proceed to hoard an entire shelf in the fridge with no remorse as the drinks must be refrigerated because of the all-natural perishable ingredients. I then debate sending a company-wide email notifying everyone to keep their hands off my juice but decide against it and take out my first drink of the day, +chromium.
Generally, I drink hot water with lemon each morning (thanks to Miranda Kerr) so making the switch over to +chromium was not too difficult for me. The drinks can be enjoyed at any time of the day; however, Dirty Lemon does recommend drinking this flavor at the beginning of the day to capture the benefits.
This formula contains glucose tolerance factor chromium (chromium GTF), blue spirulina, dandelion root, Himalayan pink sea salt and guarana. Our founder, Sunday Riley, often says the line “all good things” when you ask her about her day, and that is what plays through my mind as I look through the ingredient list. This elixir is built to boost your metabolism (chromium), reduce stomach bloating (dandelion root) and help build lean muscle mass (guarana).
Verdict: This was the tastiest flavor of the bunch! I liked starting off my morning with something that is good for me. The bottle also contains only 1 gram of sugar and 85 milligrams of natural caffeine (comparable to one cup of coffee), so I felt energized throughout the day.
Flavor: +turmeric – Immunity Blend
Post-lunch, I grab the orange +turmeric bottle from the fridge. I felt slightly ill last week, and chugging eases my qualms as turmeric is known for its anti-inflammatory and immunity-boosting benefits. Turmeric is also great for upping your beauty game — the super spice can boost skin glow and decrease/soothe acne. Dirty Lemon gets its turmeric root from India because it has the strongest dose of curcumin, the active healing compound of turmeric.
Verdict: A few seconds in I was met with a chalky sensation in my mouth. Make sure to shake the bottle properly! I have had turmeric before (golden milk lattes, anyone?), but it is usually diluted in milk. Thankfully, the distinct flavor was masked by cinnamon, black pepper and red pepper.
Flavor: +collagen – Beauty Elixir
This is the flavor I was most excited to try purely because of the word “beauty” in the title. Collagen is having a moment lately, finding itself in everything from peptide powders to granola bars. In fact, it is estimated that the global collagen market size hit $4.27 billion in 2018.
I will often drop a scoop of collagen peptides into my coffee, so this was a nice switch up. This beauty elixir contains marine collagen, which is formulated to reduce wrinkles, increase skin elasticity and promote hair growth. As the spicy concoction tickles my throat, I wonder if my chase for the perfect glow is a deep-rooted self-esteem issue or just plain fun.
Verdict: I choked on this drink for three minutes because I was unprepared for the strong kick of cayenne pepper, which is known for its metabolism-boosting properties. PSA to read ingredient labels before blindly drinking anything.
Flavor: +valerian – Sleep Tonic
Around 10 p.m., I grab my valerian tonic and head to my bed. It feels a little strange winding down with lemonade, but this bottle attests to be a natural sleep aid. As someone who struggles with anxiety, I rejoice at the idea of falling asleep at night quickly.
This zebra-striped brew improves sleep quality (valerian root), eases anxiety (lemon balm and magnesium bis-glycinate chelate) and promotes glowing skin (Bulgarian rose and chamomile). I pull up my weighted blanket, count some sheep and doze off to sleep.
Verdict: This drink had subtle hints of chamomile and rose water, which made it quite enjoyable. I fell asleep pretty quickly each night and would order this flavor again. Maybe it is a placebo, maybe it is antioxidant-filled water.
I walk into the office on Monday greeted by “you are glowing today!” But, scientifically, I can’t pinpoint if it is the fact that I had a full night of sleep, that I mixed my new face oil into my foundation or that I drank 24 bottles of wellness juice.
All in all, four lemon drinks a day is not sustainable. While I feared the amount of acidity in these drinks, the acidity in Dirty Lemon beverages is 10 times less than most kombucha, sodas or juices. “The pH of lemon juice is 2, which is complementary to the acidic range of our stomach’s pH level that is required to break down food. When we consume citric acid from lemons, it aids the body in emulsifying fats and more efficiently moving food throughout the digestive tract. Adding regular lemon juice to your routine keeps cells hydrated and relieves bloating due to its mild diuretic effect,” says Laurie Brodsky, N.D., a New York-based naturopathic doctor.
My body was not prepared to handle that many liquids, and I deserve frequent flyer miles for all the trips I took to the restroom because of the excess water. I would recommend these to anyone who enjoys drinking juice with their meals and wants a healthy substitute. They are also perfect for recharging after a night of hitting the town — or before hitting the town, as you can create your own dirty lemon martinis!
Do I feel as though my life has changed? Not really. Would I drink these again for the possibility that things may get better? Absolutely. When life gives you lemons, dirty them up and chug in the name of wellness.
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