Self-love. And self-care.

I have a confession to make: I don’t love Valentine’s Day. My heart can’t help but think of all of those who don’t have a Valentine, or can’t be with their Valentine. This year, I am shifting my thinking about Valentine’s day, in two ways.

First, I sent out a number of Valentine’s Day cards – to my single girlfriends.

Second, I am focusing on self love. After a challenging week, I am being extra kind, careful, and gentle with myself. I am implementing, re-implementing, self-love and self-care rituals.

Here is how.

I look at myself in the mirror and tell myself I am beautiful

My mother always told my sisters and me to look at ourselves in the mirror. To see ourselves. To observe, and embrace, the changes in our faces and bodies. While I still sometimes get carded for a glass of champagne, I don’t look like I am 21 anymore. I scrutinize myself in the mirror and embrace my 39-year-old face; the fine lines around my eyes remind me of how much I have laughed; my “freckles” (brown spots are two ugly words!) remind me of my time on Greek beaches. I look at myself and I tell myself I am beautiful. And stronger and wiser than when I was 21.

I take Nitika Chopra’s advice from Valentine’s Day 2014 and create a self-love ritual.

“Turn off the TV and unplug from social media for 15 minutes to get centered while self-pampering. My favorite way to do this is to moisturize my skin with intention. As I massage my feet I thank them for getting me to where I need to go; as I moisturize my hands I love them for all the transactions and introductions they’ve helped me with throughout my life.”

I perform an (not necessarily random) act of kindness.

Kindness is not merely altruistic, but something we all should practice for selfish reasons – because it makes us feel better. Being kind to others is like a gift to myself, it creates a mad rush of endorphins in my body and makes me feel good.

I schedule my self-care.  

The week of Valentine’s day, I always make sure I have one beauty or wellness appointment scheduled. A pedicure. My monthly eyebrow appointment. Even an annual medical checkup. Something that is good for me to do – for me. Something that I will thank myself for. When I look good, I feel good – and when I feel good, I do good. Sometimes I forget that I am my own priority… but not this week!

Vanity Fair's favorite masks

Why our Kantic brightening moisture mask is a Vanity Fair Favorite

Last week our best-selling Kantic brightening moisture mask was included in a roundup of best masks on VanityFair.com. Here is what the beauty experts at my favorite magazine said about our product:

Get the ultimate glow with this cult-classic product. Extremely creamy in texture, it contains natural botanicals and oats to soothe and brighten dull skin. Plus, your skin will feel extra-soft.

This product has received many accolades and is an editor favorite – it was written in In Style as the “best pre-party mask,” in Redbook, in Organic Spa, and it even made it in Travel & Leisure Magazine as one of the best things to come out of DC!

While you can read here all about the amazing ingredients, I thought this was the perfect opportunity to share a few lesser known secrets about this product:

  • Actress Necar Zadegan maintains her glowing complexion with this mask, applying it between taping episodes of Girlfriend’s Guide to Divorce.
  • Before “sleep masks” and “nighttime masks” and “overnight masks” were a thing, I was getting calls from our fans telling me they loved applying this product in the evening and leaving it on overnight, waking up to flawless skin and the perfect glow.
  • My Mom’s favorite trick with this mask is to add a little to her Alchimie Forever moisturizer every morning. She thinks of the mask as a “booster” for her favorite cream.
  • As In Style figured out early on, it is the best “pre-party” mask because it evens out the skin, fills in fine lines, and gives the complexion a gorgeous glow – making makeup application easier and your makeup look better. Before a big event, apply a thin coat of the mask, almost like a primer, to your skin, then proceed with your makeup routine, and be amazed!
  • One of my favorite uses of this mask is on airplanes. I travel with samples of this product and apply it right when we takeoff. No “I just got off the airplane and my skin is blah and dehydrated” look for me when I land!
  • The color of this mask makes the above doable without seeming freakish: it is a soft shade of purplish (this is from the whole red grapes we use) which almost blends in to your skin, so you can wear it around the house when your other half is present, or like I do on airplanes…

If you have not yet tried it, add the Kantic Brightening Moisture Mask to your skin care routine today!

And if you already love and know it, you can start looking forward to it arriving this late fall in travel size…

 

Pigment problems? We now have a product for that

I am in love. With the new Alchimie Forever Pigment Lightening Serum. Any launch is always exciting to me, but our latest one is a particularly fabulous one. About a year ago I started seeing my first brown spots appear. Once in a while when in Geneva, I might have Maria (laser goddess) treat them with a laser at Forever Laser Institut. But what I really needed is a daily regimen to combat sun spots. Hence the need for our Pigment Lightening Serum. I love its texture, which is light and almost gel-like. I love that it layers beautifully under our Daily Defense SPF 23. I love the results it gives (sorry Maria, you might see me less often). And I love the ingredients it features.

-vitamin C is the ultimate ingredient for achieving brightening and antioxidant effects. This antioxidant vitamin is a critical determinant of skin’s resilience, which significantly is reduced through aging. Vitamin C is a potent agent in combatting wrinkles and reverse some of the signs of aging, as it affects the body’s production of collagen and elasticity, which is lost through collagen’s disintegration over time. The inclusion of vitamin C allows this serum to increase collagen production and work against the formation of wrinkles. It also treats age spots from sun damage by healing cells that are sunburnt and damaged.

-vitamin E is also an antioxidant nutrient that works synergistically with vitamin C. UV light from the sun depletes the skin’s vitamin E stores, but this is combatted when combined with vitamin C since it provides sun protection. Similar to vitamin C, vitamin E combats and provides protection against damage from free radicals.

-citrus is an ingredient that has anti-brown spot and complexion lightening properties, making it ideal in the treatment of pigmentation and uneven skin tone due to aging. It also reduces free radical production and helps to prevent signs of skin aging.

-hop strobile provides brightening effects by decreasing hyper-pigmentation and irregularities caused by sun, stress and aging.

-green tea (photoprotective properties, anti-brown spots effects) has a plethora of benefits when consumed internally but its effects can also be reaped when applied topically. Green tea contains epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), a powerful molecule that prevents the disintegration of collagen and supplies photo-protective properties. Green tea also helps to repair existing UV damage.

-alpha-arbutin has a powerful brightening effect, and unlike other skin brighteners on the market, is not irritating.

-sodium hyaluronate and jojoba oil both work to deeply hydrate skin cells while simultaneously infusing the skin with anti-aging properties. Jojoba oil (which is non-comedogenic) additionally provides long-lasting moisture, tames redness and irritation, and soothes skin, while sodium hyaluronate has a plumping effect on the skin.

-blueberries are Alchimie’s signature ingredient, imparting the skin with vibrancy with their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Blueberries also have vaso-protective properties that help to reduce redness, making this ingredient ideal for rosacea-prone skin.

tone foundation

Why Alchimie Forever Doesn't Tint

I frequently get asked to create a BB cream and why we didn’t add a tint to our newest product, our Pigment Lightening Serum. I also get asked why I don’t wear any foundation or tinted moisturizer (fine print disclaimer: when my face is really blotchy, I will use the Laure Mercier Tinted Moisturizer in Nude).

The answer is two-fold.

First, I believe in taking care of one’s skin and complexion. Which means there should be no need for foundation or moisturizer. It is almost a dare I make with myself – let me see if I can have such good skin care rituals that I don’t need foundation.

Second, I avoid tinted anything because the color in foundation, BB creams, tinted moisturizers is created by metal oxides. Mostly iron oxides. Look at the ingredients in your tinted product and let me know what you find. Who cares, you might ask… Here is the scientific truth (do not keep reading if you don’t want some real scientific jargon; or grab a coffee first): excess iron is bad for our health, in many ways (it is involved in Alzheimer’s, glaucoma, and more), including on the skin.

Excess iron accelerates aging. Don’t stop taking iron supplements if you have a medically-diagnosed iron deficiency. But don’t increase your iron intake if you don’t need to. That means no supplements with iron in them. And no skin care products with iron or iron oxides in them, including tinted anything. How is excess iron bad? Excess iron is a catalyst for a chemical reaction called Fenton chemistry, which leads to the creation of one of the worst free radicals, the hydroxyl radical. We know this to be true: free radicals are bad and accelerate aging. Do you really want to use anything that will increase the level of free radicals on your skin? I didn’t think so. It kind of defeats the purpose of all of those anti-aging and antioxidant products you use… (As a side note – think about this: one of the theories about why women live longer than men is that we have a generally lower iron status because of menstruation and delivery… Just saying.).

So there you have it. The science behind why I prefer not to wear tinted face products.

This is what has been keeping me busy…

The last time I blogged was May 10th in honor of Mother’s Day. It has been a busy month. A busy year actually! I might blame this writing hiatus on the redesign of my blog (I hope you love it), or on running out of time. But as my Mom always told me, “you don’t have time, you make time.”

And I did not make time for blogging. Instead, I made time for this:

The arrival of the newest member of the Alchimie product family – our Pigment Lightening Serum. I worked on this product for 3 years, and it finally launched at the end of April. As always happens with a new product, the first few weeks after launch kept me busy with press interviews, reaching out to our partners to follow-up on the The three most common questions have been:

  • Is there any silicone or any silicone derivative in the formula? The answer is no – the silky texture comes from the hyaluronic acid.
  • Will this serum sensitize my skin to the sun? The answer is no. There are no sun-sensitizing ingredients in this formula, so it is safe to use year-round, including during the summer (and of course, remember to layer our Daily Defense SPF23 on top of it).
  • What form of Vitamin C does this serum contain? The Vitamin C we chose is Ascorbyl Glucoside, which once it penetrates into the skin, is converted into L-Ascorbic Acid. This form of Vitamin C is more stable (hence easier to formulate with and retains its efficacy in the formulation longer), and non-sensitizing to the skin.

The launch of our partnership with the pharmacy chain Look Boutique. On May 29th, we launched in 21 boutiques throughout the country, bringing greater awareness and approachability to Alchimie Forever. Having had success in pharmacies in France, and in New York City (including favorites Clyde’s, New London, Carnegie Hill, and more), this is the next step in our penetration in this channel. We are thrilled to be next to brands including Nuxe, LaRoche Posay, Avene, Dr. Haushka, and innovative brands such as Vincent Longo, and to be working with an amazing team of Beauty Advisers.

Ada and her mother.

Thank You Mom

My mother does not embrace Mother’s Day. If you know her, you know she is quite exceptional, and quite non-traditional. And you know I adore her. I don’t celebrate her today, because that would not be to her liking. But I do celebrate all of the things she has taught me over the years. My most valuable lessons. I have written about these over the years, including here – these lessons are not new, yet like most lessons in life, they are best heard over and over again. And certainly, they are lessons I think of every day

  1. You don’t have time. You make time. If it is important, it will make it on your calendar. Don’t use that excuse.
  2. On that note – schedule everything. Schedule time with yourself (for quiet, daydreaming thinking), schedule exercise time, schedule friend time. If it makes it on your calendar, it will happen.
  3. Red lipstick fixes everything. Find the red lipstick that suits your skin tone, and use it. Often.
  4. Have champagne to celebrate the big things, and the small things (translation: if you save the champagne to celebrate the big things, you won’t have enough champagne in your life).
  5. Guilt is an emotion invented by men to make women feel bad. Don’t ever feel it.
  6. The success of one woman is the success of all women. Always celebrate other women’s successes. Truly, and genuinely.
  7. The only path to happiness is to find harmony between your values, your actions, and your thoughts and feelings.
  8. The consequence of rule #7 is that you should never do anything just because society expects it – it will lead to conflicts between your values, actions, and thoughts and feelings.
  9. Spend time alone, taking care of yourself. You can’t take care of the world if you don’t take care of yourself.
  10. Be kind to yourself. First, and always. You can’t be kind to others if you are not kind to yourself.
  11. When you feel overwhelmed, cancel two things in the upcoming week. Just do it. Be in control of your schedule, not the other way around.

I love you Mom.

Thank you for being an inspiration, every day. Even if I chose Mother’s Day to tell you.