BeautyView: LeeAnne Cress, Studio Manager, Barre3 Georgetown

Earlier this spring I discovered Barre3, and I now don’t know how I ever lived without it. I needed to get back into a regular exercise routine, I needed to get more toned, and I needed to find a better morning routine. Barre 3 did all three for me. I go to the 6:30 am class every week day that I am in DC (2 to 3 per week, typically). I love the workout (it nostalgically reminds me of my 7 years of ballet and still makes me sore everyday), and I love LeeAnne, the manager and my favorite instructor. While I always have found her gorgeous, I guess we all look a tad less glamorous at 6:30 am, in workout clothes, sweaty and without makeup than in a model-like photo!

AP: What city were you born in? LC: I was born in Salisbury, MD.

AP: What city to do you live in? LC: I live in McLean, VA.

AP: What is your middle name? LC: Rebekah.

AP: What is your astrological sign? LC: I’m not sure; I think it’s the goat one. I never seem to pay attention to that stuff.

AP: What is your favorite thing about the beauty industry? LC: I love being a strong woman and empowering other women to be strong. Physically and emotionally.

AP: Least favorite thing? LC: My least favorite thing about the beauty industry is the superficial vanity. I have modeled off and on since I was 12 and the pressure for perfection is daunting. I believe all women are beautiful when they are kind and compassionate. It does not always have to do with the outside.

AP: What is your most prized possession? LC: Right now? My engagement ring! Not only because it’s so shiny but because of what it stands for!

AP: What is something about you most people don’t know? LC: I have a pacemaker. I’ve had it for 2 years and I can’t live without it. Being healthy saved my life. My heart would have stopped beating years ago if I had not been living a healthy lifestyle.

AP: Do you wear a watch? If yes, what model? LC: I do not wear one but I love Le Mer watches! They are so fun and casual. I don’t wear watches to dress up.

AP: Diamonds or pearls? LC: Both! Love my ring but I love the sophistication of pearls.

AP: If you could have dinner with the person of your choice, who would it be? LC: Meryl Streep. She’s strong, educated, and amazing at her craft.

AP: What is your secret to work/life balance? LC: Loving what I do! When you love what you do everyday it doesn’t always seem like work. I also make sure to leave the phone in the other room or on silent and focus on what or who is in front of me. And I fall of the grid every now and then. I go to my family’s farm in DE where I grew up and don’t bother with technology for a few days.

AP: What are your three top tips for travel? LC: 1. Only travel with those you completely trust. 2. Pack light so you can bring things home. 3. Try something new!

AP: What is your favorite book? LC: That’s difficult because I love to read! It’s between To Kill a Mockingbird (I’ve read it 200 times at least) and anything by Neil Gaiman.

AP: What is your cocktail of choice? LC: Champagne or a dirty Sapphire Blue Gin Martini.

AP: What is your #1 beauty secret? LC: No SUN! Just fake it, there are wonderful products on the market that don’t make you look like a pumpkin.

AP: What fragrance do you wear? LC: I have worn Coco Mademoiselle Chanel since my brother bought me my first bottle at age 17.

AP: Botox or not? LC: I don’t like the sound of toxins in my face, but I’m only 26 what do I know?

AP: Hair color: natural or not? LC: %100 natural color curl and all! I love my hair 🙂

AP: 3 songs on your iPod right now. LC: “Loca”by Shakira, “Intergalactic”by Beastie Boys, and “Girls fall like Dominoes”by Nicki Minaj.

AP: Quote to live by. LC: “Time is a tree (this life one leaf)” E.E Cummings.

AP: Who is your mentor? LC: My fiancé Alvaro. He’s smart, successful, kind and he makes really good decisions. I value his opinion very much.

AP: Words of advice for young women starting their careers today. LC: Be prepared to start at the bottom and prove yourself. You have to work hard and be creative to stand out. Find something you love to do everyday (remember that may take some time).

Warm weather skin care tips

While the first official day of summer is still almost two months away, as I sit in my hotel room in Miami (taking a quick break from the amazing Tuff Love Aveda / Neill hair show taking place this week-end) and watch the people lying out by the pool, the topic of summer skin care comes to mind.

My mother always told me that the change of seasons was the perfect excuse to do a deep cleaning of my house, more specifically of my closets. My father, on the other hand, always told me the change of seasons was the perfect time to take another look at my skin care products and skin care routine and adapt it accordingly.

How do late spring and summer affect our skin? Of course, sunburns come to mind. Sweating, heat rashes, and clogged pores are also typical concerns of warm weather skin care. Sunshine and higher temperatures also mean dresses, shorts, sleeveless tops, open toed shoes and flip flops…. Here is how I deal with warm weather skin:

  1. I switch to a gel-based cleanser. My skin type is pretty normal, and as is typical, I am dryer during the winter months and oilier during the warmer months. To get rid of all traces of sweat and to avoid clogged pores, I love a “squeaky clean” feel, and our Excimer purifying gel cleanser is perfect for that.
  2. I take cooler showers. Really, hot water, while delightful and relaxing, is not great for the skin, in any season. In warmer months, I find it easier to enjoy slightly cooler water, which is great to tighten pores, stimulate circulation (my Mom swears it is her daily cold showers that have given her her cellulite-free legs…), and give my hair some added shine.
  3. I make sure to exfoliate regularly, both face and body. I find that regular (aka twice weekly) exfoliation helps to keep my blackheads under control, and actually ensure a longer, more even sun-kissed look. While I don’t use self-tanner, exfoliation is indeed crucial prior to applying tanning lotion, to ensure it goes on smoothly and avoid streaks.
  4. I switch to a lighter moisturizer. Whether I am in DC or in New Orleans, there is plenty of moisture in the air starting April. While humidity can be awful for hair, it truly is wonderful for skin. Skin will absorb some of the moisture in the air, and as such, most skin types can benefit from a lighter moisturizer during the warmer months. Our Yttrium protective morning cream is particularly ideal and leaves a very matte finish on the skin.
  5. Sunscreen is a must. Indeed, while sunscreen is a must every day, it is a MUST when out by the beach, the pool, or the river. My father always recommended SPF 50+ on the face and body, and until we develop our own sunscreen, his favorite is LaRoche Posay’s Anthelios. He also taught me to avoid the sun between 11 am and 3 pm, and to be particularly careful when in the water, as sun gets reflected and is then twice a dangerous.
  6. Don’t forget your lips – they too are prone to sunburn. Whatever sunscreen you apply on the face, don’t avoid your lips or lip contours. And make sure you use a lip balm that contains an SPF.
  7. Don’t forget your eyes – sunglasses will help protect your eyes from the sun, and will help prevent squinting, which leads to wrinkles.
  8. Shorter dresses and arm-bearing tops mean that I am particularly conscious of my body. Our Alexandrite firming gel for neck and bust and our Q-switch optimizing body contour gel take care of my upper and lower body respectively, preventing sagging and minimizing cellulite. Of course, a couple extra sessions of Barre3 will help more than any product…
  9. For many, summer means more frequent shaving. If you experience post-shaving irritation or ingrown hairs, remember to shave only after you have been in the shower for a few minutes (your hairs will be softer), to change your blade often, to exfoliate, and to shave with a cream-based product (shaving cream or hair conditioner work best).
  10. Don’t forget your feet – for me, open-toed shoes mean more frequent pedicures, but also dryer feet and the propensity to cracked heels. I use our 532nm antioxidant relief for hands and feet religiously every evening.
  11. Last but not least, hydrate from the inside out. With warmer weather comes more sweating, which means it is doubly important to drink those recommended 8 glasses of water per day. Emergen-C in my water helps it go down better…

Finally, my father always reminded me not only of what to do, but also of what not to do during the summer. Avoid photo-sensitizing products such as retinols (or use them less frequently), avoid laser treatments on tanned skin, and avoid stronger peels on tanned skin.

Happy bathing suit season!

BeautyView: Alexandra Gonzalez, Beauty Assistant, Real Simple

In my world, beauty editors are magicians, so able to influence the trajectory of my brand and the success of my products that they sometimes seem intimidating. Alexandra Gonzalez, Beauty Assistant at Real Simple magazine (to which I have subscribed since the very first issue), is absolutely a magician. Having had the pleasure of getting to know her better, I realized that while she is indeed all-powerful, she is also kind (I love her last piece of advice), endearing (in particular in her state of bliss over being engaged and wedding planning), and truly fascinated with our industry, always trying to learn more (during her facial in my Georgetown showroom she couldn’t help herself but pick the brain of my aesthetician Rosario – in her native Spanish – rather than relaxing). Cherry on the cake? She is native to the DC area!

AP: What city were you born in? AG: A suburb of Washington DC, Bethesda Maryland.

AP: What city to do you live in? AG: New York City. I moved here for college (I went to Fashion Institute), fell in love and never left.

AP: What is your middle name? AG: Rebecca, my brother picked it out. He wanted it to be my first name so we’d have the same initials but our mom and dad compromised by making it my middle name.

AP: What is your astrological sign? AG: Aquarius.

AP: What is your favorite thing about the beauty industry? AG: I have to admit, I love seeing new products before they hit the market. Meeting these creators who are passionate is fascinating. It’s also such a happy industry… I also really enjoy writing or pitching a product, then hearing that it made a difference for a reader.

AP: Least favorite thing? AG: There isn’t a real routine, every day is different. That keeps me focused, but it can be frustrating when emails are piling up and need get answered.

AP: What is your most prized possession? AG: Probably my grandmother’s cross and engagement ring. Well, and now my own. They just symbolize so much more than what they seem.

AP: What is something about you most people don’t know? AG: Most people would probably be surprised to know I am completely obsessed with CSI–yes, the cheesy TV show. I can watch any of the seasons. The marathons on SPIKE TV are my favorite pass time on a rainy or cold Sunday afternoon.

AP: Do you wear a watch? If yes, what model? AG: Nope, I’m such a child of my generation and only carry around my phone. I would be lost without my iphone–literally and figuratively.

AP: Diamonds or pearls? AG: Diamonds! Who doesn’t like a little sparkle in their life?

AP: If you could have dinner with the person of your choice, who would it be? AG: Can I get a few people? Ha! J  For example, a round table of Editor-in-Chiefs from publications I admire…  That would be delightful. I’d ask them a million questions.

AP: What is your secret to work/life balance? AG: I don’t have a balance…I’m still figuring it out. But the weeks that I do, I make sure that it’s a combination of dinner with friends and relaxing.

AP: What are your three top tips for travel? AG: 1. Don’t bring a map. 2. Eat way more than you need to. 3. Visit at least one unknown museum in every city you visit.

AP: What is your favorite book? AG: Anything by Jodi Picult. Her stories completely transport me to a different place. And I have to admit… who doesn’t love a little Harry Potter?

AP: What is your cocktail of choice? AG: Cava; there is always something to celebrate.

AP: What is your #1 beauty secret? AG: All natural virgin coconut oil. It hydrates, cures blemishes and refreshes all in one night. I am all for oils of all kinds–hair, face, cuticles.

AP: What fragrance do you wear? AG: Mademoiselle by Chanel. My aunts, grandmothers and mother all wear Chanel perfume. They were the ones who ingrained in me my love for beauty, so I can’t part with it.

AP: Botox or not? AG: Not now, but maybe later.

AP: Hair color: natural or not? AG: Absolutely not. My natural color is so dark it makes my features look weird. When I was thirteen I really wanted to color my hair, so my mom took me to her hairdresser (absolutely love Manual in Georgetown!) and I haven’t stopped since.

AP: 3 songs on your ipod right now. AG: I listen to my Pandora Stations, so whatever is playing on the Adelle station these days.

AP: Quote to live by. AG: “We live not according to reason, but according to fashion. ~ Seneca, Roman Philosopher.

AP: Who is your mentor? AG: Didi Gluck, our beauty director at Real Simple. She is an amazing person and manager. I go to her for everything, probably more than I should considering she is my boss. I learn something new from her every day and she makes work so much fun.

AP: Words of advice for young women starting their careers today. AG: Never assume you have learned everything or that you have the job in the bag, always continue to try to impress people without being pushy. Also, find a balance between confidence and humility. Finally, always open doors and smile at people. Being nice can go a long way.

Ranunculus and other farmer's market delights

Two of my commitments are to support small businesses whenever possible, and to commit to wellness on a daily basis. Last night, I realized that my Sunday trips to the Dupont Circle farmer’s market (a relatively new tradition) are really the coming together of these two commitments.

I love the Sunday visit to the market more than I could ever have imagined. I look forward to seeing the male couple that runs Firefly Farms, where I buy my favorite (non-Swiss) cheese. I even look forward to the slightly grumpy man at Blue Ridge Dairy Company where I now buy butter. The mushroom lady makes me laugh. And the ladies as EcoFriendly Foods, where I have been buying meat, discusses sausage and bacon fat in ever innovative ways. Going to the market makes me feel good in so many ways: shopping local and supporting small businesses; purchasing healthier produce; learning what some vegetables look like in their natural state (this is coming to me later in life…); learning what fruits are in season when; and feeling like I am doing something fabulous for my health and my waistline.

Last night, I realized that having all of this fresh, expensive, locally-grown produce in my fridge actually made me want to make myself dinner (instead of just having cheese and crackers, which is my standard). If you know me, you know that I really don’t cook. I own two pans and three different wine bottle openers, if that gives you any idea. Yet last night, I made myself a salad (fresh tomatoes, a boiled egg, and a bit of cheese), and I roasted some kale (sprinkled in coarse salt and olive oil). I actually used my oven for the first time since I moved into my apartment… And it was delicious.

With a glass of chardonnay and a beautiful bouquet of ranunculus (going to the market even teaches me new English words!) in front of me, eating delicious greens, I remembered the trips to the farmer’s market in Geneva my grandmother took me to when I was little – and I wondered why I waited so long to regularly visit the one in Dupont Circle. Is it Sunday yet?

National rosacea awareness month

Rosacea affects 14 million people in the US, men more severely than women, including famous figures such as Bill Clinton and W. C. Fields. However, to this day, 78% of Americans have no accurate knowledge of this condition and wouldn’t know how to recognize it.

April is National Rosacea Awareness Month, which is the perfect excuse and opportunity to review this skin condition, and share some tips about how to best manage the symptoms of rosacea (unfortunately, there is no cure for rosacea).

Causes of rosacea: The pathogenesis of rosacea is multi-factorial (translated in English: we don’t really fully understand what causes rosacea). Indeed, rosacea is precipitated by multiple causes including:

  • Genetic factors
  • Vascular factors
  • Immune-mediated factors
  • Emotional factors
  • Environmental factors
  • Infectious factors

There are various triggers that will aggravate this condition, including:

  • Environmental stimuli:
    • Exposure to temperature extremes
    • Moving to a warm or hot environment from a cold one
    • Heat from sunlight and severe sunburn
    • Cold wind
  • Emotional stimuli:
    • Stress
    • Anxiety
  • Physiological stimuli:
    • Some foods and drinks, including alcohol, caffeine, spicy foods
    • Strenuous exercise
  • Exogenous stimuli:
    • Microdermabrasion
    • Chemical peels
    • Products containing alcohol, witch hazel, menthol, peppermint, eucalyptus, clove oils, and other irritants

Diagnosis of rosacea: When diagnosing rosacea, it is important to look for the following:

  • Presence of one or more of the following primary features:
    • Flushing (transient erythema)
    • Long-lasting erythema
    • Papules and pustules  (red or yellow little bumps)
    • Telangiectasia (visible broken red blood vessels)
  • May include one or more of the following secondary features:
    • Burning or stinging
    • Plaque
    • Excessive dryness
    • Edema
    • Ocular manifestations (burning, redness)
    • Peripheral locations (rosacea on areas other than face)
    • Phymatous changes (e.g. rhinophyma) enlarged nose extremity

Rosace is typically classified in three stages:

Stage 1: Mild rosacea

  • Predominantly vascular symptoms
  • Characterized by recurring flushing on the face, neck and upper chest
  • May include facial edema and erythema
  • Telangiectasia may appear

Stage 2: Inflammatory rosacea

  • This stage is marked by the appearance of follicular-based papules and pustules
  • In addition to the symptoms of Stage 1 rosacea, there are also increasingly prominent facial pores

Stage 3: Severe rosacea

  • Characterized by a proliferation of sebaceous, connective, and vascular tissue
  • Typically results in the bulbous hypertrophy of the nose known as rhinophyma
  • This stage is most commonly found in men

Treatment options The first treatment option is truly behavioral, focusing on avoiding all of the triggers identified above. A typical treatment course for severe rosacea will however also include medications, such as:

  • Oral antibiotics (tetracycline, doxycycline, minocycline)
  • Topical antibiotics such as metronidazole (Metrogel)
  • Topical azelaic acid such as Finacea (15%) or Skinoren (20%) may help reduce inflammatory lesions, bumps and papules
  • If papules and pustules persist, isotretinoin can be prescribed

Finally, for the treatment of the erythema and redness specifically, the pulsed dye laser remains the gold standard.

From a product standpoint, it is essential to use products formulated for sensitive skin and to avoid harsh ingredients such as acids or vitamin C (and certainly no peels!). Furthermore, vaso-constrictors (ingredients that tighten our red blood cells and protect their capillary walls) are ideal for rosacea-prone skin (think blueberries for example). Finally, from a cosmetic standpoint, makeup bases that have some green in them will help to alleviate the look of redness.

For a webinar on how to treat rosacea-prone skin, please click here.

Sources: National Rosacea Society, The Treatment of Rosacea with Glycolic Acid, Cleveland Clinic Foundation, JAAD, April 2002, Vol 46, Number 4, JAAD, June 2004, Vol 50, Number 6

Beautiful in Seattle

I travel a lot for work. Mostly to the same places (NYC, LA, New Orleans, Charlotte), but once in a while I have the opportunity of discovering a new city, as I did this week-end. There are two ways I like to discover new cities: through their beauty boutiques and spas, and through their culinary offerings. This week-end, I did both in Seattle. To read about my culinary experiences, please click here. If you want to learn more about Seattle’s unique beauty destinations, keep on reading.

The goal of my trip was to visit two existing Alchimie Forever clients that I had not yet had the pleasure of meeting face to face – I have to admit I am old fashioned that way, and I love knowing my clients “for real” as opposed to just by email and Facebook. My first meeting was with the beautiful Suzy, who took a leap of faith and brought Alchimie Forever to That visit took me to the Seattle suburb of Bellevue, to the corporate headquarters of this beauty giant (which also encompasses, and another favorite Alchimie client, While not a beauty destination per se (you can’t really go there and purchase products), I always love touring beauty companies’ corporate headquarters… the air always smells like products…

The second Alchimie Forever client I visited with is our first and only bricks-and-mortar client in the Pacific Northwest, men’s grooming boutique Ward & Co., located in Rainier Square. During my coffee meeting with the owner, Mark, I learned that while his core customer is the downtown business man, tourists are a significant client segment (almost 1 million tourists visit Seattle due to cruise ship stopovers starting in May). We talked about how tools (all types of razors and more) had become his most significant revenue category, and about how much more loyal the male beauty consumer is when compared to his fickle female counterpart. From Café Migliore, we walked over to the boutique, a chic, 400+ square foot haven of men’s grooming products and accessories. Michael runs the day-to-day operations (Mark’s day job is to be an architect) – and clearly knows what he is talking about. Savvy about skin care, about shaving methods and tips, and with a background in upscale men’s fashion, he is the go-to expert customers come to visit time and time again. Alchimie products are in good company: you will also find such unique men’s grooming products as Taun (a new line out of NYC) and Kyoku.

Right around the corner from Ward is a Calidora Skin Clinic. This Seattle-based medical spa chain (they have 7 locations in Washington state and California) has been on my radar for a while as one of the few that has somehow managed to grow and successfully roll out across multiple locations (some of you may remember Sona Laser Centers for example, with a similar yet unsuccessfully implemented business model). While Alchimie Forever products are not (yet!) in Calidora, the clinic I visited was beautiful, busy, and the front desk manager truly pleasant.

Also on my list of places to visit, in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood, was Essenza. Since 1998, Essenza has been supplying the area with hard-to-find skin care, fragrances, and makeup, as well as unique jewelry, baby gifts, and bathrobes. There, I had the pleasure of meeting Becky, the owner and brain behind the store (she also owns a clothing store right around the corner). Obviously, she understands her customers’ wants and needs, having owned this indie boutique for 14+ years. She was intrigued by Alchimie, hopefully my next visit to Seattle will be to train her and her team on my line!

In planning this trip, and in doing research as to which hotel to stay at, I came across Hotel 1000 thanks to its Spaahh. I was introduced to Juanita, the spa manager, by email, and thanks to her discovered this fabulous hotel with fabulous service. And a fabulous Spaahh. A must for any jet-lagged, travel-weary business woman (aka yours truly).

Finally, randomly across the street from the hotel, I discovered Parfumerie Nasreen, a European-style jewel-like boutique with hard to find fragrances (they even had Jicky, my ever-harder to find perfume by Guerlain!). A testament to the boutique and its eponymous owner, Nasreen: it has been there for 26 years and business is going strong.

If you ever are in Seattle, do stop by these unique beauty destinations. Of course, there are more, which I didn’t get to this trip. I am saving Gene Juarez Salon & Spa (true Seattle institution), Frenchy’s (a Parisian inspired day spa and boutique), and Blackbird (in Ballard) for my next visit…