At Book Club earlier this week, my girlfriends and I started comparing notes about the changes in our beauty routines brought about by COVID-19. Mostly, these changes are “minuses” – we are doing less – and DIYs. We are wearing less (or no) makeup. We are wearing extensions (hair and lash) less. We are washing our hair less frequently. We are doing our own pedicures. We are coloring our own hair. We are no longer wearing heels. After all, we are working from home, we are not attending glamorous events, we are not being photographed out, indeed, some of us are not going out at all. We are being seen by so fewer people, despite constant Zoom calls.
This conversation led to another one – one about what we do (and continue to do) for ourselves, versus what we do for others. And we identified a number of rituals we are sticking to, even though they are seen by no one other than ourselves.
Many of us still light fragrant candles in our homes. Not because we are inviting people over, but because we love how they smell and they make us happy.
One of us still buys fresh flowers for her home on a weekly basis. For her own pleasure. This may be something that I need to start doing…
One of us continues to buy art for her home, despite not hosting her usual fabulous dinner parties.
Has your beauty routine changed? And which rituals are you sticking to, even though no one sees them?
I am a creature of routine and rituals, in everything including skin care. Earlier this summer, I shared with you my morning and evening skin care routines.
I do the same skin care steps every morning, and every evening. Except when I am in my happy place, Tinos, Greece. Here, the sun shines every day, and I spend more of my day outside than inside. The wind blows, and the sea is extra salty – all elements that have an impact on the look and feel of my skin.
While most of my routine remains, some things do change.
- Most importantly, I stop using my Advanced retinol serum. I will use it year-round, including during the summer, but not when spending 80% of my waking day outside in the sun (and I don’t mean lying at the beach in the sun – just walking around and eating meals outdoors is enough).
- I double down on my anti-pigmentation routine. In addition to my Pigment lightening serum and the Biologique Recherche Lotion P50 Pigm 400, I use Skinceuticals’ Discoloration Defense Serum. Three layers of serums to keep my complexion even… or try to!
- Also to prevent an uneven pigmentation, I layer Coola’s Classic Facial Sunscreen SPF 50 over my Protective day cream SPF23. Can you tell I’m obsessed with having an even complexion?
- And of course, eye care and a midweight moisturizer. I use my Tightening eye gel morning and evening: its cooling feel and light texture are the best for warmer weather. And my Kantic Calming cream in a daily evening ritual, to heal my skin post sun exposure.
- Finally, twice weekly, a deep treatment with my Gentle refining scrub and Kantic Brightening moisture mask. Sun exposure makes my skin thicker, so regular exfoliation is absolutely key (and no, exfoliating will not make your tan go away faster – on the contrary!). And the mask is magical, year-round of course. This time of year, if feels cooling and refreshing, and the antioxidants work to prevent any sun damage that may have occurred despite my obsessive sunscreen use.
- Sun care is my theme. La Roche Posay Anthelios XL 50+ oil is my go-to sunscreen. I love the slick feel and the sun protection is the most effective.
- In the same oil family, Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse Or is such a treat. Body, hair, even sometimes face – it nourishes and the gold particles create a beautiful discreet glow. And the delicate aroma says summer like nothing else.
- Post sun, my Soothing body lotion calms any redness and rehydrates my skin (remember water, chlorine, salt, are all drying ingredients to the skin).
- And finally, because I spend my time exclusively in flip flops or (preferably!) barefoot, I apply my Dry skin balm to my feet religiously morning and evening.
How do you tweak your skin and body care rituals when spending time in sunnier, warmer climates?
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 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 neck—it’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?
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.
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…
- Three days without alcohol
- Two workouts minimum
- One 10-hour night of sleep
Every other month:
Two to three times per year:
- 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…