Keep Calm…

Our Alchimie Forever marketing calendar says that April is the month of Calm. As in calm skin, and calm spirit.

Calm skin. April is National Rosacea Awareness month. Those who suffer from rosacea know this is the antithesis of calm. Red, angry, irritated, uncomfortable, are words that describe rosacea skin; calm is not. Helping to calm your skin looks like this:

  • Avoid triggers. These will vary somewhat individually: heat, alcohol, spice, and more.
  • Protect your skin. From the sun (always), but also from the cold and the wind.
  • Treat your skin gently. Avoid harsh products, cleansers and otherwise. Look for anti-inflammatory ingredients. Remember that less is more.
  • When all else fails, apply makeup to cover up the red. I so rarely recommend makeup other than for color… but sometimes it really is necessary.
  • Your dermatologist is your friend. Listen to his / her recommendations, follow his / her prescriptions, trust the expert.

Calm spirit. Is there a calm spirit month? This is the time of year when my spirit is the antithesis of calm. Tired, overwhelmed, irritated, uncomfortable, are words that describe an agitated spirit; calm is not. Helping to calm my spirit looks like this:

  • Avoid triggers. I know what mine are, I trust you know yours.
  • Protect my energy. Be more quiet. Spend more time in nature (as I write from the gardens of Salamander Resort & Spa).
  • Treat myself gently. Sleep more, drink less, exercise more. Cancel appointments (responsibly).
  • When all else fails, smile until I make it. A Saturday with absolutely zero commitments is 3 days away. Tinos is 64 days away…
  • My therapist is my friend. For me, that means my massage therapist… thank you Brian!

Calm – of skin and spirit!

 

Spring Rituals

Today is my first day of Spring. Finally, the sky is blue, the sun is shining, the birds are singing, and the flowers are blooming. After our Polar Vortex Winter, it feels like life is finally beginning anew.

I wrote earlier this year about the rhythm of the seasons, and once again I was reminded this morning, walking to and from SoulCycle, of how this natural cycle impacts my focus, and my activities.

Here are some of the ways I have begun to celebrate Spring, and how I will continue to.

  • I opened the windows in my house and let in fresh air. Simple, and glorious.
  • I cut 4 inches off my hair and I have never felt lighter. Thank you, Jason Snyder!
  • I cleaned out my closet, thanks to the inspiration of my dear friend Jennifer Mapp Bressan, who is constantly reminding the world that we need less clothing than we think we do.
  • I took a good look at my to-do list and got rid of two items that had been sitting on there since January; one task I (finally) completed, and one task I decided I was never going to complete and just deleted.
  • I switched my evening cream to the lighter Kantic Calming cream from what I use during the winter, our Kantic+ Intensely nourishing cream.
  • I had coffee in my yard, listening to the sounds of Spring, watching the sun rise over Georgetown, watching the world wake up.  
  • I incorporated abs in my exercise regimen, per the inspiration of my friend Anne who does 200 of them five times per week. This should be a year-round ritual (because summer bodies are made in the winter!), but for now, it will start as a Spring / Summer ritual.
  • I went to yoga. I don’t do yoga, but when my friend Kelly DiNardo, owner of Past Tense in DC, invited me. I figured at the very least it would help me get rid of the winter cobwebs in my body.
  • I finalized a new partnership for Alchimie Forever, which will yield its fruit a little bit later this season.
  • I still need to get my first Spring pedicure… I am hoping to make time this weekend to go to Mia Bella, my favorite nail place in New Orleans. 

How do you celebrate the first few days (weeks) of Spring?

One Product, Every Single Morning

Growing up, some might say my parents were quite “lenient.” My sisters and I never had curfews. We were never forbidden from going to parties or having parties at home. We were allowed to have a sip of champagne for special occasions before the legal age.

However, there were some rules that we had to follow to the letter. Good grades in school (just because). No smoking (because it ages you). No tattoos (because they don’t always look good when you’re older). No desserts (because sugar ages you). And no sun, no tanning, no sunburns (because the sun is your enemy – at best it ages you, at worst it kills you).

From an early age, we were taught to wear hats, sunglasses, and a moisturizer with SPF. Every single day. To this day, I cannot walk out of my house without a product with SPF, regardless of weather, season, temperature.

Here’s why:

  • The sun ages your skin – this is called photo-aging, or UV-induced skin aging. Think dark spots, fine lines, broken capillaries, laxity of the skin.
  • Chronic sun exposure increases your risk of skin cancer (even without sunburns). Indeed, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation: “Both intermittent, intense exposure (the kind you get on vacation on a sunny isle, often leading to sunburn) and chronic lifetime exposure add to skin cancer risk. Studies have shown that chronic sun exposure is most associated with the development of squamous cell carcinoma, the second most common skin cancer, while both chronic and intense, intermittent exposure are believed to play a role in basal cell carcinoma, the most common skin cancer.”
  • Darker skin types, while not as prone to skin cancer as lighter skin types, should also wear SPF protection daily to prevent dyspigmentation.
  • UVA and UVB are both nefarious to the skin. SPF is a measure of UVB protection only – it does not address UVA. Make sure any product with SPF you use is “broad spectrum”, the official indication that the product will protect your skin from both wavelengths.
  • What SPF number should you look for? My father always said SPF 20+ is perfect for “normal life.” Per the Skin Cancer Foundation states: “In vitro tests have shown that SPF 15 sunscreens filter out 93 percent of UVB rays, while SPF 30 protects against 97 percent and SPF 50 98 percent.”
  • Chemical screen or physical block? You choose – what matters is that you use a product with SPF 20 or above every single day.
  • My pick? You guessed it: Alchimie Forever Protective day cream SPF 23. In addition to containing SPF protection, this lightweight moisturizer is packed with antioxidants including blueberry and edelweiss extracts, and vitamin C. No ashiness, no oily residue, no shine. Just antioxidant and SPF protection.

Every single day.

 

Big Apple highlights

I spend a lot of time in NYC. Every 6-8 weeks, I take the train from DC (usually train 180 leaving at 5:20am) and spend two or three days working in the Big Apple. While I could never live here, there are some unique places that make this city truly glorious. Here is where you might find me on any given day in New York City, in between client and press meetings.

My friend Trisala’s apartment in Tribeca. We have known each other since we were 12, could talk for hours on end, and her home-cooked meals are to die for.

SoulCycle Tribeca. To work off said home-cooked meals.  

Edward’s. Also in Tribeca. My favorite place to catch up on emails (free and fast WiFi) with a glass of wine (they serve it European style, in tall “water” glasses) or have apéro with a friend. The terrace is a delight in the summer, the bar is a delight year-round.

Felidia or Il Bucco for the best Italian dinner in the city. I have a sentimental attachment to Felidia, but my Italian father would tell you to head to Il Bucco instead.

You have your choice of amazing museums, but my go-to if I need to clear my head, be inspired, is the Guggenheim. The space itself is like a work of art and usually has me thinking in a different direction by the time I leave. Another wonderful museum, a little more off the beaten track of the “classics” (The Met, MoMa, Whitney, etc) is the Neue Galerie, which was co-founded by Ronald S. Lauder.  

The Highline. This repurposed railway space (almost 1.5 miles long) was inspired by a similar project in Paris (Promenade plantée) and is truly peaceful, regardless of the weather or the crowds.

Heyday. A trip to New York City is not complete without a facial at one of five Heyday locations. Sprinkled throughout the city’s various neighborhoods for convenience, this is the perfect place to get your skin in order and learn about home care and products  (and yes, Alchimie Forever is featured at Heyday).

Julien Farel Restore Salon. Inside the Loews Regency Hotel, this is my favorite spot for the perfect blow-dry. And if I’m lucky, I’ll run into the uber-glamorous Suelyn Farel (CEO of Julien Farel the company, wife of Julien Farel the man).

You may be surprised that there are no stores on this list… Indeed, I am not a shopper. But if I happen to walk by ABC Home I can’t not go in (amazing for gifts). And I feel the same about any beauty boutique

The Podcasts That Make Me Smarter

I started listening to podcasts to make it easier to run on the treadmill, one of my most hated things, yet something necessary if I am going to stay in shape on the road. These days, I listen to them while flying, while driving, and sometimes even while getting ready in the morning.

Here are some of my favorites. Please share yours!

The Knowledge Project by Shane Parrish.

This is the first ever podcast I listened to. The Angel Philosopher episode with Naval Ravikant is still one of my favorites ever, I have now listened to it twice.

Living It by Kelly DiNardo and Amy Pearce-Hayden.

This is a new podcast, started by my friend Kelly, a project that came out of her book Living the Sutras. I love the theme of “living life on purpose” and particularly enjoyed this week’s episode with Michelle Gielan.

How I Built This with Guy Raz by NPR.

These are interviews of entrepreneurs and how they built their business. I got turned on to this podcast because of an episode featuring Marcia Kilgore and her story about Bliss – and have been addicted ever since. The episode with the two founders of SoulCycle is also amazing.

Freakonomics Radio by Stephen Dubner.

This podcast definitely takes me out of my comfort zone and introduces me to topics I don’t typically think about. One of my favorite episodes is How to Catch World Cup Fever, from this past summer.

And here are some podcasts I downloaded but have yet to listen to…

Best of Both Worlds by Laura Vanderkam and Sarah Hart-Unger. I got turned on to this one after reading Laura’s book Off the Clock, which I loved.

The Business of Fashion. This is one of my favorite daily newsletters (I wrote about these here). I just need more hours in the day.

What are your favorite podcasts? And when do you listen to them?

ada polla shows redness on her face

Skincare Tips For Stressful Situations

I feel fortunate that most of the time, my skin is not a cause for stress or concern. I am nice to it, and in return it is nice to me. We happily coexist. Sometimes, however, my skin likes to remind me that it is the boss of me, and that I need to be extra gentle with it. It can’t use words, so it “speaks” to me with zits, redness, dry patches, and dark circles. Here are my go-to tips and products for stressful skin scenarios.

Reaction from another product.

  • Case in point, the very unflattering photo of me here, trying out a mask (that shall remain un-named) on half my face to compare the effect with our Kantic brightening moisture mask. Instant redness and irritation.
  • The best thing to do is nothing, or apply a very calming, trusted moisturizer. I used our Kantic calming cream and was fine the next morning.

Travelling.

 Stressed.

  • Stress will come out on your skin in various ways. For me, I get dry red patches in symmetrical areas, often in my wrist area. This may sound bad, but Neosporin is then my go-to – the kind with pain relief properties.
  • Our Dry skin balm also helps calm the inflammation of stressed skin and is ideal if your stress comes out as dry flaky patches (body, not face).

 Hungover.

  • The eye area is key on such mornings, and our Tightening eye contour gel works miracles in lifting and opening my tired eyes.
  • A tiny bit of Kantic Brightening moisture mask mixed in my favorite moisturizer will help give my skin an all-day glow to counteract the “morning after dullness.”

 Sunburnt.

  • Think healing, gentle, anti-inflammatory, and anti-redness. Our Kantic Calming cream helps reduce redness and calm the heat in your skin, and you can even use it on your body.
  • If you peel, do not “pick” at your skin. Once the redness is gone, our Gentle refining scrub will help accelerate the skin’s recovery.

 Breakout before a hot date.

  • Never, ever, ever pick. It only makes it worse.
  • The Mario Badescu Drying Lotion is a miracle worker. Ideally overnight, but even if it is for an hour or so before said “hot date,” it will help.
  • Dab a tiny amount of concealer to hide the redness, but don’t overdo it as that will only attract attention to that area.