The products I Cheat On Alchimie Forever With

Not surprisingly, my skin care routine is quite involved and I use all Alchimie Forever products. Once in a while, however, I cheat on my brand with other brands and products. Here are the non-Alchimie skin care products I am currently using. 

Biologique Recherche Lotion P50 Pigm 400. I admire this brand and have heard a lot of wonderful feedback on their products yet have never used anything personally. Just last week, Sara Akram talked me into this exfoliating and brightening lotion to help even out my pigmentation. I don’t love the aroma, but the jury is still out in terms of the results. 

Naturopathica’s Rosehip Seed Regenerating Facial Oil. I love Naturopathica, and I love a good face oil… and so far I am loving this one (almost as much as I love the Vintner’s Daughter facial oil, which is my favorite oil so far).  

Veneffect Anti-Aging Lip Treatment. This is a product that I have frequent requests for from Alchimie fans: something for the lips and / or lip contour. This treatment is nourishing, anti-aging, not too greasy, and the taste does not bother me. In particular in the dead cold of winter, this helps cure and prevent chapped lips. 

Trish McEvoy Correct and Brighten Weekly Peel Pads. Another frequent request from Alchimie fans are peel pads. I am thinking about it, and decided I had to experiment with this category beyond the classic Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Daily Peels. I have used these a few weeks, once a week in the evening. I can’t say that I see a huge difference in my skin, but it is certainly not looking worse. 

My 2020 Wellness Plan

I have a business plan. I have a financial plan. I have a reading plan. And now, I have a wellness plan – a plan to help me stay healthy and look and feel my best (both on my 2020 goals list). If you don’t, might I suggest you think about it… 

Weekly: 

  • Three days without alcohol 
  • Two workouts minimum 
  • One 10-hour night of sleep 

Monthly: 

Every other month: 

Two to three times per year: 

Annually: 

  • 21-day cleanse in January (read more about my first one here)
  • Preventative doctors’ appointments (always in July, OB, GP, dentist, eye) 
  • A couple weeks in Greece to rest my mind and soul (yes, this is a key part of wellness) 

And, this year, I am going to add something I have never done before – either micro-needling, PRP, or a Soft Lift… at Forever Institut of course. It’s time…  

January Detox

I am all about New Year’s Resolutions. I love making that list and working through it. This year, at the top of my list, is to be and feel healthier. What does that mean, you ask? I am not quite sure… but I know I want to feel better than I did in 2019. Lighter (literally and figuratively). Fresher. Stronger.

To set myself up for success for the next 12 months, I am starting with a 21-day cleanse, a Swiss version of the popular Whole 30.

What does this entail?

  • No alcohol
  • No carbohydrates
  • No sugar
  • Limited dairy
  • Limited fat

I am on day 4, and while I am somewhat hungry, I feel great. No headaches. No cravings. I am eating lettuce, green vegetables, cornichons, tuna, ham, bouillon, shrimp, steak, and eggs. Cottage cheese (only dairy allowed). Apples (only fruit allowed). A little bit of olive oil, and a little bit of mayonnaise (my cheat). Raw almonds. I am drinking a whole lot of tea, and in an emergency, a Coors Edge (nonalcoholic, minimal carbs).

What am I hoping to accomplish?

  • Prove (to myself) that I can do it, that my willpower and self-control are stronger than any cravings I may have
  • Lose a couple of pounds
  • Reset my metabolism
  • Shift my cravings
  • Refine my rituals

For this cleanse to have long-term benefits, I have realized just four days in that it is all about the habits and rituals. A glass of wine when I get home to unwind. Cheese and crackers every time I am in an American Airlines Lounge (which is many times per week), sometimes even when I am not hungry. The list goes on. And that’s why this cleanse is 21 days. It takes 21 days to change a habit.

Step 1 to feeling and being healthier: changing some of my habits, refining some of my rituals.

4 days in, 17 days to go. And then forever healthier.

Taking my own advice

On Saturday, I turn 42. And today, I received perhaps the best birthday gift ever: Sarah Akram herself told me I looked 30. “Good genes and good skin care,” I responded. When I then confessed that I didn’t remember when my last facial was, however, she did remind me that these facial treatments are a necessity to stay youthful-looking and that Botox does not replace the need for facials (Amen, sister. I preach this every day…).

Much like the cobbler’s daughter, while I work in the world of facials and skin care products, I do not take my own advice frequently enough. While the last time I had Botox was in June and the last time I used our Advanced retinol serum was this past Monday evening, I truly cannot recall when the last time I had a facial was.

With my birthday looming, I decided it was time to complement great home care with a really good facial. On the recommendation of a friend of mine who has particularly glowing skin (and I realize now somewhat naively) I called Sarah Akram Skincare to schedule a facial with the eponymous founder for mid-November. While I I thought this was lots of advance notice, I was gently told the next availability was January 30, 2020. “Not meant to be,” I thought, while putting my name on the wait list. Yesterday, the lovely Nyles called me back to let me know of a last-minute cancellation for this morning – so I rearranged my meetings, all the while thinking “totally meant to be, this is my early birthday gift to myself.”

Extravagant, yes. Worth every penny, absolutely. Akram is everything I love in a facial therapist: gorgeous with flawless skin, super knowledgeable about her craft, serious, friendly but not too talkative – and has magical hands. This treatment was 90 minutes of a beautifully balanced combination of technology (LED, microdermabrasion, cryo, something warm I forgot to ask about) and touch (the facial begins and ends with amazing massage). Akram uses products from Environ and Biologique Recherche, two brands I admire yet had never experienced firsthand (I did of course bring her some Alchimie to try).

I left with glowing, bright, plumped, rejuvenated skin (this photo is immediately post treatment, zero makeup) – ready to enjoy my last three days as a 41-year old and looking forward to 42 – and to my next facial at Sarah Akram Skincare, scheduled for February 2020.

Blueberries: Queens of the Berry World

Blueberries have the best of reputations: they are filled with antioxidants, colorful, round, and delicious. The Vaccinium myrtillus L. fruit, known in English as bilberry or European blueberry (very similar to the American blueberry), has powerful protective properties which have been known and utilized since the Middle Ages. Today, blueberries are even claimed to be “the most powerful antioxidants of all.”[1]

The European blueberry is Alchimie Forever’s signature ingredient – and not just because they are purple… Here are their three main benefits at the level of the skin.

1.Anti-redness benefits.

Blueberries play a role in the management of flushing symptoms: they tighten and protect fine capillaries thanks to anthocyanins,[2] and are thus ideal in skin care products targeting redness-prone skin. The vaso-protective effect of the European blueberry was first described in the 1960s, when the fruit’s capillary resistance and permeability were first analyzed. Since, studies have confirmed that blueberries increase capillary resistance and thus decrease redness.[3]

2. Antioxidant benefits.

Antioxidants aim to prevent, stop, or repair the damages that are caused in our skin by free radicals. Specifically, the flavonoids found in European blueberries (more specifically the anthocyanosidic extract) are powerful neutralizers of free radicals,[4] with the following benefits: they inhibit lipid peroxidation[5] (leathery coloration of aged skin) and prevent the degradation of collagen (fine lines, wrinkles, loss dehydration).[6]

3.Iron chelating activity.

Iron has often been featured in the health and consumer press in the context of anemia (i.e. iron deprivation). While many have discussed the various ways of ensuring appropriate iron intake, whether through diet (red meat and various fruits and vegetables), or through the daily use of supplements, few realize that excess iron is an accelerator of aging (skin and otherwise). Read more here (ADD LINK TO https://adamantaboutbeauty.com/2013/06/24/iron-in-skin-aging-less-is-more/ )

or watch this YouTube video (ADD LINK TO https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QsDr1d1pQhw ) if I have piqued your curiosity.

Indeed, excess iron is involved in various chemical reactions that lead to the production of the hydroxyl radical, one of the most harmful free radicals.[7] Once again, the European blueberry comes to the rescue and plays a key protective role. Both quercetin and myricetin (two types of flavonoids found in this fruit) have iron chelating properties, meaning that they minimize the formation of free radicals stimulated by excess free iron and UV light and prevent accelerated aging.8

So eat your blueberries, but put them on your face too!

[1] Wu X, Beecher GR, Holden JM, Haytowitz DB, Gebhart SE, Prior RL. Lipophilic and hydrophilic antioxidant capacities of common foods in the United States. J Agric Food Chem. 2004;52(12):4026-4037.

[2] Bagchi D, Sen CK, Bagchi M, Atalay M. Anti-angiogenic, antioxidant, and anti-carcinogenic properties of a novel anthocyanin-rich berry extract formula. Biochemistry (Mosc). 2004;69(1):75-80.

[3] Morazzoni P, Bombardelli E. Vaccinium myrtillus L. Fitotherapia. 1996;67(1):3-29.

[4] Lichtenthaler R, Marx F. total oxidant scavenging capacities of common European fruit and vegetable juices. J Agric Food Chem. 2005;53(1):103-110.

[5] Sakagami H, Asano K, Takahashi K, Terakubo S, Shoji Y, Nakashima H, Nakamura W. Anti-stress activity of mulberry juice in mice. In Vivo. 2006;20(4):499-504.

[6] Morazzoni P, Bombardelli E. Vaccinium myrtillus L. Fitotherapia. 1996;67(1):3-29.

[7] Polla AS, Polla LL, Polla BS. Iron as the malignant spirit in successful ageing. Ageing Res Rev. 2003;2(1):25-37.

8 Svobodová A, Psotová J, Walterová D. Natural phenolics in the prevention of UV-induced skin damage. Biomed Papers. 2003;147:137-145.

 

Dr. Polla (aka Dad’s) top skin care tips

Earlier this Summer, I had the chance to share my Dad’s (aka Dr. Luigi L. Polla, Switzerland’s leading dermatologist) favorite tips about how to age gracefully with consumers and influencers across the country. For those of you whom I did not have the chance to preach in person, I would like to preach in writing… thank you for humoring me.

Here are my Dad’s top dos and don’ts to age more gracefully:

  1. No smoking. Ever. It increases the presence of free radicals in your skin, accelerates aging, gives your skin a leather look, and creates terrible upper lip wrinkles.
  2. No straws. Just don’t do it. These are bad for the environment and bad for your upper lip wrinkles.
  3. Sleep on your back. And yes, you can teach yourself to do it. Even if you sleep half the night on your back, your face and décolleté wrinkles will thank you. (My Dad can always tell how a woman sleeps by looking at her facial wrinkles… deeper on the side you sleep on).
  4. SPF daily. From January 1st to December 31st. When it rains, When it snows. Every. Single. Day. No excuses, no exceptions.
  5. If you’re old enough to drink, you’re old enough for a good anti-aging eye cream. Prevention is key, and the skin around the eyes is so thin it needs more help and earlier help than the rest of our face.
  6. Your face ends on your décolleté. Treat your neck and bust as you do your face, with effective anti-aging products and SPF every day. Nothing is worse than your face saying “I am 37” and your décolleté saying “I am 44.”

What tips would you add to these? I can’t wait to hear!