Sun, sunscreens, sunburns…

The sun is (or at least should be!) shining, it’s that time of year. And May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month. All in all, it is time to review sun, UV, sunburns and sunscreens. Here are some tips to help you separate fact from fiction when it comes to this burning topic (no pun intended…).

Myth: I don’t need to wear sunscreen on a cloudy day.

Truth: Up to 85% of UV can penetrate light cloud cover

Myth: I have a tan, so I won’t burn.

Truth: Having a tan is only the equivalent of about SPF 4, and does not mean you won’t burn.

Myth: I am young, I don’t need to worry about skin cancer.

Truth:  Melanoma (skin cancer) is the number one cancer seen in ages 25-29

Myth: I need more vitamin D so I shouldn’t wear sunscreen.

Truth: You only need about 10 minutes of sun exposure per day to get enough vitamin D for your wellbeing. (And remember, even with sunscreen on you will get sun exposure).

Myth: Getting just one sunburn won’t really harm my skin.

Truth: A single sunburn in childhood will increase the risk of melanoma. And it can take up to 5 years for the skin to fully recover from a single sunburn!

Myth: Tanning beds are sage.

Truth: UVs matter inside and out; indoor tanning may increase the chance of getting melanoma up to 75%

Myth: Sunscreen will block all UV

Truth: “Sunscreen is not enough” as said Dr. Karen Burke. Remember to layer your antioxidants under your sunscreen, so you have a second line of defense (try our Diode 1 + 2 serums for your face, and our Alexandrite gel for neck and bust for your body).

Other interesting facts about the sun and sunscreens…

UVA versus UVB:

  • UVA damage DNA and lead to skin cancer (damages not initially visible to the naked eye)
  • UVB lead to redness and ultimately wrinkles (the visible sunburn effects)

Chemical versus physical sunscreens:

  • Chemical sunscreens absorb the UV rays. These are typically lighter sunscreens.
  • Physical sunscreens (really known as sunblocks) reflect UV rays. Ingredients such as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are used in physical sunscreens. The usual “thick, white, sticky” feel of sunscreens comes mostly from physical sunscreens.

Water-resistant versus waterproof sunscreens:

  • Water-resistant sunscreens maintain their SPF levels after 40 minutes of water exposure
  • Waterproof sunscreens maintain their SPF levels after 80 minutes of water exposure

The sun’s reflective powers are great:

  • 17% on sand
  • 80% on snow

If you want to learn more about the sunscreens I like, watch this week’s segment on Let’s Talk Live. And remember, no sun is safe sun. And you earn the skin you’re in!

Self care advice from my Mom

In the US, there’s an inherent fascination with European women. How can they be so thin despite eating so much cheese? How can they be so healthy despite drinking wine, often at lunch? How do they achieve their quintessential elegant look? How come they seem to age more gracefully?

While I don’t pretend to have answers to the first two questions, I do believe that the European woman’s approach to skin care has much to do with the answers to the third and fourth questions. While speaking about European women is obviously a gross generalization, here are some tips on skin care habits that my Swiss mother engrained in me from my early teens:

  1. Skin care is a part of self care, part of health care. Facials are not luxuries, and a good moisturizer is not a frivolous expense. Indeed, I was taught that going to the spa should be considered as necessary as going to the dentist on a regular basis.
  2. Prevention is more important than correction. Don’t wait until you start seeing wrinkles, brown spots, and sagging skin to incorporate anti-aging products into your routine. If you are old enough to drink (and remember, in Geneva, this is 16), you are old enough for an eye cream.
  3. Spend time in your bathroom; it is your sanctuary. Growing up, I watched my mom take long baths, apply lotions and potions, and  spend a lot of time in her bathroom. That was her special time each morning–her way to get physically and mentally prepared for the day, and in the evening, it helped her remove the effects of the day.
  4. For every year you grow older, spend an extra 30 seconds in your bathroom. When you are 20 years old, you can jump out of bed, tie your hair in a ponytail, and leave the house in 5 minutes looking fresh and beautiful. As we age, getting to that look takes more time and more effort. Don’t fight against it, embrace it, and spend more time in your bathroom.
  5. Look at yourself in the mirror. Really look–don’t just glance. This will enable you to see every wrinkle starting to form, to see the appearance of very light brown spots and watch them turn darker with the passage of time. The process of looking, observing, and assessing will give you a feeling of control over the changes happening on your face and body and will ensure that you don’t just wake up one morning and think, “I have just aged 20 years overnight.”
  6. Taking care of your body is as important as taking care of your face. Treat your neck and décolleté with specific products. Nourish the skin of your body. Take particular care of your hands and feet. Not just once a week, but every day, twice a day.
  7. Makeup is meant for highlighting and color, not to treat skin. If your skin looks good, you don’t need to cover it with foundation. Show your skin. Use makeup to brighten and color.
  8. The worse you feel, the brighter your lipstick should be. Red is the color of power, wearing it will not only have people commenting on how great you look, but will make you feel powerful and in control, hence better. Find the shade of red that suits you, and use it.
  9. Keep your nails real, short, and oval. Did Princess Grace of Monaco have long fake nails? I don’t think so. Short is elegant. Nude is the best neutral, but bright red works on short nails too.
  10. Smile. You will look better, feel happier, and everyone around you will too.

Dare to dream…

Last year was the first time I attended the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) annual gala. Some of you might remember that I blogged about it, about the inspiration that came with that evening. Yesterday, NFTE held its 2011 Dare to Dream gala. Just as in 2010, I was re-inspired, re-energized, moved to tears. And yesterday, I was also honored as a locally-grown entrepreneur. It was a magical evening. An evening filled with amazing students, teachers, and entrepreneurs. An evening filled with great friends. An evening filled with soundbytes. Here are some of my favorites.

“We can educate our way to a better economy.” Julie Kantor, the Executive Director of NFTE DC Region

“I have an MBA. A Masters at Being Amazing.” Also by Julie Kanto

“Entrepreneurs can do anything with persistence, perseverance, and passion.” Edie Fraser, Diversified Search Odgers Berndtson

“Your first business may fail, but that doesn’t mean that your second, or third, or fourth won’t be successful.” Aaron Batallion, Living Social

“No fear. There is no reason to fear.” Michelle Lee, STG International

“Hire for attitude over smarts. Attitude is everything” Mark Michael, Occasions Caterers

“The person who says it can’t be done shouldn’t interrupt the person who is doing it.” Seth Goldman, Honest Tea

The keynote address was by Rodney Walker (pictured below with his Alchimie Forever goodie bag). The entire video presentation of his journey was so powerful and moving it is impossible to capture it in a soundbyte. I saw seasoned business men discreetly wipe the corners of their eyes (I was doing the same, less discreetly) as he spoke of overcoming drugs, homelessness, poverty, with the help of NFTE. Rodney inspired me to do more with NFTE, and today I re-iterate the commitment I silently made last night to play more of a role in the life of these young students. As soon as I stop typing, I will be calling my girlfriend Minal, who is the one who introduced me to NFTE a few years ago, to make this commitment a reality. Once again, thank you NFTE.

Why did we create Alchimie Forever?

I have had more questions this week about “why did we create Alchimie Forever,” “what is your unique selling proposition,” and recently in Cincinnati from an ex P&G executive, “what is the unmet need your line is filling.” These are all million-dollar questions for a consumer brand, questions that I fall asleep thinking about, dream about, and wake up pondering. These questions are always at the back of my mind. I know the answers – let me share them with you.

Why did we create Alchimie Forever?
We created Alchimie Forever to make men and women feel better about themselves – and thus make the world a better place. My father’s dermatological career has been first and foremost about making his clients, male or female, look younger, look more beautiful. Ultimately, however, whether through treatments or at-home use of Alchimie Forever products, our goal is to make people feel better. When you look better, you feel better. When you look better, you feel more confident. When you feel better and feel more confident, you are happier, nicer, kinder, you smile more… you are, in effect, a better person. That is why we created Alchimie Forever.

The Alchimie Forever mission
Our mission at Alchimie Forever is self care through skin care. We work to encourage people to take better care of themselves. The disease of our century as we see it is the dearth of self care. We don’t sleep enough, we eat overly processed foods, we drink too much, we don’t exercise enough, we don’t take the time to take care of ourselves. The results of this lifestyle can be seen in obesity, stress disorders, depression, and more. While skin care is not going to solve all of these problems, Alchimie Forever products play a key role in reminding people to slow down; reminding people to touch and be touched; reminding people to take care of themselves, to spend a few extra minutes in their bathroom, to apply lotions and potions that will make them look better, hence feel better.

This is so relevant today, I believe David Cameron, the new Prime Minister in the UK said it best:
“It’s time we admitted that there’s more to life than money and it’s time we focused not just on GDP (Gross Domestic Product) but on GWB – general wellbeing.”

“Wellbeing can’t be measured by money or traded in markets. It’s about the beauty of our surroundings, the quality of our culture and, above all, the strength of our relationships. Improving our society’s sense of wellbeing is, I believe, the central political challenge of our times.”

Our Unique Selling Proposition and the Unmet Need
What does the beauty consumer want today? She wants it all. She wants to look as young as she feels (anti-aging results). She wants to use products that make her feel special (luxury). She wants products she can feel good about using (responsibility). In the crowded skin care market, numerous lines answer one or the other, maybe two out of three of these needs. We, at Alchimie Forever, fulfill these three needs in a single jar.

  • Results: Visible, immediate anti-aging results. Without side effects. Without inflammation.
  • Elegance: Products that look good, feel good, smell good, and that you want to use. Twice a day. Everyday. Forever.
  • Responsibility: A botanical approach to ingredients, a commitment to sustainability, and a commitment to community involvement. All at a reasonable price point.

Affirmations and accountability

If you ask people who know me to list 5 adjectives that describe me, more likely than not they all would say, among other things, reliable, accountable, and hard working. I think that comes with birth order, I am a pretty typical eldest child. Yet, one can always be more reliable, more accountable, more hard working. One can also always have a bigger vision, and work more effectively to make that vision a realits. In the last two weeks, I put in place two new systems in my life: affirmations and an accountability partner.

My husband thinks I have taken things to a whole new level of crazy, but I am enjoying it. For both of these new initiatives, I have to thank my girlfriend Anne, who is an inspiration and role model, and who taught me about these two systems.

First – affirmations. My Mom used to tell me when I was grumpy: “Force a smile, if you force it long enough it will become reality.” I think affirmations somehow follow the same concept  – say it out loud and it will become true. Affirmations are statements that either represent a current reality that needs reinforcement, or a future aspiration. Saying these affirmations out loud every morning somehow makes the statements truer, the goals more attainable, and generally shifts the energy in the Universe so that I behave more easily according to these statements. I have 18 affirmations. I wrote them down on small white notecards a week ago today, and I say them out loud (not too loud, I am still shy about them) every morning. They range from business, to family, to personal, and encompass goals (for example, “Alchimie is on the Inc 500 List”) as well as behaviors I want to live every day (for example “I am grateful for what I have.”).

Second – an accountability partner. We all have goals. My friend Heidi has 137 goals, broken down in annual, quarterly, monthly, and weekly milestones. I am not quite there yet, but working towards it. Goals are great. Goals are even if you make sure that every week you work to achieve these goals. Sometimes, life takes over, better and sometimes on a Sunday evening I find myself wondering what I accomplished all week that really mattered to me, to my family, or to the business – what have I done to reach closer to my goals? Now, I have Kassie, my accountability partner.  We have a weekly call every Friday morning, and a Google Goals Excel sheet that needs to be updated regularly. Every Friday, we discuss our past week’s goals, go down our lists, and have to explain to each other why certain things didn’t get accomplished. And every week, we discuss our goals for next week, and how we are going to accomplish them. Now, as accountable as I am to myself, it’s a whole lot harder to make excuses to another person… not wanting to have to explain to Kassie why I didn’t do something means that amazingly, this system has enabled me to accomplish a couple projects that have weighed on me for a long time.

Crazy? Maybe. Useful? Definitely. Fun? Of course. I encourage you to try both systems, and be amazed at the difference they make. Thank you Anne.

 

A milestone to adulthood

Today, I feel like a real adult. I have been able to vote for 15 years. I have gotten married. And divorced. And re-married. I have bought my own new car. I have bought my own real jewelry. I run my own business. Yet today, I feel like a crossed a serious adulthood milestone. Today, for the first time, a housekeeper cleaned my house. Not just “a” housekeeper, “my” housekeeper, who calls me “Miss Ada”… I still can’t quite believe it.

This all happened very quickly over the last 10 days. The last two weeks have been so incredibly busy that two week-ends ago I welcomed my husband into a less than pristine apartment. I just didn’t have time to do my usual pre-husband-visit cleanup. Not wanting to have that happen again this past week-end, I spent Thursday night cleaning, until about half past midnight. All I wanted to do was go to sleep, but I was determined to clean. I cleaned so late that the next morning I decided that 2 extra minutes of sleep was more important than making my bed. I think this was only the fourth time in my entire life that I have left my house without making my bed…

I crave a clean house, and I love to clean my house. Dusting, scrubbing, even cleaning the floors is incredibly satisfying and relaxing to me – that is my go-to self-therapy when I need to de-stress. Still, I have never been attracted to the idea of a housekeeper. What if she doesn’t clean as well as I do? What if she doesn’t put everything back exactly in its place? And then, of course, I hate the idea that I have to give her keys to my house. And that I have a stranger in my house. And somehow a housekeeper has always seemed like such a luxury, something for people with multiple kids and large mansions…

Then, as often happens, a sign from the Universe. I subscribe to an amazing Georgetown neighborhood online forum. It is filled with the most amazing community feel and useful information. Last week, there were two posts about this amazing housekeeper who had some extra time. I read on… Given my hesitations and concerns (above), this housekeeper sounded like a true gem. She works only in Georgetown. Has a very specific list of cleaning products she requests her customers keep in her house. She fixes things. She sews. She charges more if no ironing is involved, because she loves ironing so much. And she worked for Richard Holbrooke (which is why all of a sudden she has a free afternoon… only in Georgetown!).

I called her, met her last Friday, but in my mind had hired her before the meeting. Somehow it was meant to be, and I began fantasizing about polished silver (has been on my list of things to do for about 6 months now), ironed sheets (one of the reasons I love staying at my parents’ house), and clean windows… Today, she started. I am on the road (as I am so often), and I cannot wait to go home tomorrow and see the results of her magic. And appreciate adulthood for one reason more.