Sisters = Antioxidants

An antioxidant is a molecule that inhibits the oxidation of other molecules, minimizing the production of free radicals, and thus protecting cells. Antioxidants = anti-aging, antioxidants both prevent and correct signs of (skin) aging. They are at the core of my skin care brand, Alchimie Forever. We use both plant antioxidants (such as blueberries, rosemary, red clover), and synthetic antioxidants (such as vitamin E, vitamin C). We always combine antioxidants in our formulations, because they have synergies. Some prevent the formation of free radicals, some neutralize existing antioxidants, some protect and potentiate other antioxidants. Indeed, in the world of antioxidants, 1+1 = 3, 3+3 = 10, and so on. This is the power of synergy. This is the power of the whole being greater than the parts. 

Over the past ten days, I have realized that sisters are like antioxidants. In the world of sisters, 1+1+1+1 is not equal to 4. Instead, 1+1+1+1 = 10. Or more. Or infinity. We, together, the four Polla sisters, are greater together than our individual parts. We are stronger together. We are smarter together. We are funnier together. We bring out the best in each other. We protect each other. Antioxidants work to prevent and correct signs of skin aging. When we are together, we prevent and correct signs of (our) life aging. I feel more youthful, more childlike than I have all year. (And my first Botox of 2020 is not until tomorrow). 

Merci mes soeurs.

Self care and silver linings

Self care is having a moment. Some even say that the COVID-19 virus is transforming the “lipstick effect” into the “self care effect.” 

I was raised to believe in self care, and specifically in self care through skin care with my brand Alchimie Forever. But what exactly is self care? Over the past couple of weeks, I connected with Britta Cox, the founder of Aquis hair, about beauty, hair care, skin care, and most recently self care. We shared our respective ways to care for our selves, in general and more specifically during this time of confinement. Here are the highlights of our conversation. 

Britta’s self care wisdom: 

  • “Being in nature, moving and breathing deeply clears my mind and rejuvenates me. It’s also when my best ideas come, it’s when my subconscious and thoughts can float freely. 
  • Sleeping with the windows and doors open and breathing fresh air makes a big difference in how my skin looks and how well I sleep. It makes all the difference to feeling well-rested and fresh in the morning. 
  • Dry brushing. It’s a Swedish thing. Use a dry brush on dry skin, brushing towards your heart to keep lymphatic fluids and blood flowing to enhance circulation, remove toxins and keep skin healthy. Sunday is my self care day when I’ll dry brush and exfoliate from head to toe before taking a nice soak in the tub, with a few drops of oil in the water to replenish moisture. 
  • Detoxing my scalp. The scalp also develops sebum build up. We have a wonderful Detoxifying Scalp and Hair Wash with charcoal. It cleanses deeply without stripping the hair of natural oils, and is pH balanced for the hair and scalp specifically.
  • Spending time in the garden. I love spending time in the garden which is abundant with life, learnings and miracles of nature. I’ve been a certified organic gardener for 14 years, living on almost two acres, which brings such joy. You can just step outside, close your eyes, and experience life and nature everywhere. It makes you appreciate and tune into the small things in life and be in the moment. 
  • Beauty is all about what we put inside. I saw my first aesthetician at age 21, she got me hooked on fish oils. All of the omegas they have are one of the best things you can do for your skin, hair, and mental clarity. And I eat smoked salmon as another source.
  • Drinking water and tea to stay hydrated. Warm tea at night helps with digestion. Chrysanthemum tea is amazing for skin and reducing inflammation & the warm tea water is cleansing. 
  • Music. A good playlist can help you find your Zen, and completely change your mood.” 

I shared some of my current self-care rituals as well, which include: 

  • Stepping outside and breathing  fresh air. I try to spend part of every day outdoors, for my mental and emotional well-being.
  • Exercising 3-5 times a week. It has a positive effect on my skin. Exercise activates blood circulation, it’s good for my mental state, and for my physique. Normally I’m a morning exerciser but had a challenging day and decided to go for an evening run. I needed to shift my mental state and sometimes to do that I have to engage my body and shift my physical state.
  • Masking it up. I sleep with the K18Peptide™ Masque overnight. It’s so good for my hair and amazing at mending split ends. 
  • Scrubbing my body. My alternative to dry brushing (although I may have to embrace this technique) is Aveda’s Beautifying Radiance Polish. When we’re young our dead skin cells naturally fall off. As we age, those natural processes get a little lazier and don’t function as well. The older you get the more important it is for you to help your body naturally shed dead skin cells. Be super gentle with the skin on your face and neckit’s delicate, but the body benefits from a good scrub. Always scrub against gravity, so from the feet up your legs, from the hands up your arms, it’s good for lymphatic drainage. 
  • Smelling the roses (or magnolias in this case). My husband brings flowers into the house. We’re in Louisiana right now and he brought in a magnolia from our tree.
  • Soaking it up. I’ve been taking baths almost every night which I don’t normally do. It feels so good for my head, and I love the feeling of weightlessness. Kneipp bath salts make the baths feel like a real treatment.  
  • Being mindful of what I eat and drink. What we eat and drink is reflected in our skin. I’m trying to eat extra healthfully, and be very diligent about going three days each week without alcohol. A trip to the fridge is the most tempting trip. My girlfriends and I joke about the COVID-19. I don’t want that.
  • Taking care of others. The other aspect of self-care is care of others, your children, your spouse, your partner, care of people who can’t care for themselves.

 Last but not least, we both agreed that gratitude is a powerful form of self care. To read more about our respective silver linings, click here

How are you taking care of yourself during these times? 

 

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.