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.

Suelyn Farel

“Life is too short to eat salad without dressing” – advice from Suelyn Farel

Almost a year ago, I met Suelyn Farel, CEO of Julien Farel Group at the WWD Beauty CEO Summit. I was struck by her oversized black sunglasses (we were at the Breakers), her connection to France, and the air of kindness about her. We made plans to connect back in NYC, which finally happened a month or so ago when she treated me to a salon service and to amazing Julien Farel hair products, including the Magnifique Fortifying Serum. During our simultaneous blow-drys and over coffee, we shared stories of the beauty industry, compared notes on our favorite products and spas, and became friends, discovering we have much in common (including a 5 am wakeup time, the necessity of having champagne in the fridge at all times, and the fact that working with family means work/life balance is not something we can even begin to comprehend).

AP: What city were you born in? SF: White Plains, NY.

AP: What city to do you live in? SF: New York, NY.

AP: What is your middle name? SF: I do not have a middle name. My maiden name was “Bogdanoff” and with Suelyn being my first name, my parents couldn’t find something that would fit in between the two!

AP: What is your astrological sign? SF: Sagittarius.

AP: What is something about you most people don’t know? SF: I graduated from college in 3 years.

AP: What is your most prized possession? SF: My family.

AP: If you could have dinner with the person of your choice, who would it be? SF: My husband.

AP: Describe your fashion style in three words maximum. SF: Elegant, sporty, and black.

AP: Do you wear a watch? If yes, what model? SF: Yes. I switch between a Panerai / Bulgari for work, and wear a diamond Cartier Pasha for evening.

AP: Diamonds or pearls? SF: DIAMONDS ALL THE WAY!

AP: What is your #1 beauty secret? SF: Sleep.

AP: What fragrance do you wear? SF: I’ll never tell!

AP: Botox or not? SF: Not but I’m weighing the options as I age.

AP: Hair color: natural or not? SF: Hair color definitely NOT NATURAL.

AP: What are your special diet tips, if any? SF: Diet tip #1: Starbucks for breakfast. Diet tip #2: Eat everything in moderation. Don’t limit yourself in the foods that you eat, just eat the right quantities. Life is too short to eat salad without dressing!

AP: What do you do for exercise? SF: I have a fantastic personal trainer, Christina De Almeida, at JF Fitness at Julien Farel Restore Salon & Spa.

AP: What are three things that you always have in your fridge? SF: Pommery Champagne, Evian and mustard.

AP: What is your cocktail of choice? SF: Tigre Blanc vodka with a splash of cranberry and two slices of lemon.

AP: What is your secret to work/life balance? SF: There is no such thing as balance in my world. Work permeates every part of my life, being that I work with my husband. There is no separation between who I am and what I do!

AP: How many miles do you fly per year on average? SF: 50-60,000 miles.

AP: What are your three top tips for travel? SF: 1) Pack lots of layers and scarves, 2) For my hair: Julien Farel Smooth Crème to smooth flyways, Janeke mini travel brush+always have an elastic on my wrist, and 3) Alchimie Dry Skin Balm for my super-dry ‘airplane hands.’

AP: 3 songs on your ipod right now. SF: Blank Space by Taylor Swift, which I sing with my girls plus two workout songs always on my iPod are Survivor by Destiny’s Child and Lose Yourself by Eminem.

AP: What book are you reading right now? SF: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr which takes place in St Malo, France.  I loved the book so much that I’m bringing my mom there this year, because she gifted that book to me after having read it!

AP: Quote to live by. SF: “Work hard, play hard!”

AP: What is your worst pet peeve? SF: Laziness and dishonesty compete for the top spot.

AP: What time do you usually wake up in the morning, and how many hours of sleep do you usually get? SF: I wake up at 5:00am because my husband goes for a run every morning and I am an early riser! I usually sleep about 6 and a half hours a night.

AP: What is your favorite thing about the beauty industry? SF: The beauty industry is filled with amazing women who are supportive, smart and savvy. The mentality is that “we are all in it together,” which is very different from fashion and what’s in many other industries. I really admire most, if not all, of the women I have met in beauty. It is a great club to be a part of.

AP: Least favorite thing. SF: Well, as the mother of young girls, I worry about the influence this industry may have on my girls… the look of perfection in an industry where everything is so nipped, tucked, buffed and perfect. I love the Dove Real Women campaign where they show true beauty by being yourself regardless of imperfections. A lot of marketing around beauty and fashion is so airbrushed and plastic. I love looking great but most days of the week I don’t wear makeup. And I’m okay with that real image being presented.

AP: Who is your mentor? SF: I’m not much of a follower, so I honestly haven’t really had a mentor. I do have women in beauty who inspire me and who I admire like Essie Weingarten, Jane Lauder, Debbie Perelman. And Bobbi Brown!  Bobbi remains so tied to her brand and down to earth. When I met her, a few years ago, she smiled and gave me one piece of advice and that was, “Don’t fuck with your face.” Since we are in the beauty industry, it is hard to stay away from the invasive options out there!  But, hearing that from Bobbi Brown, that will stay with me forever.

AP: Words of advice for young women starting their careers today. SF: Find what you love. If it feels like work, change jobs or careers. Nothing replaces hard work. There is no real magic. If you keep working hard, you will get there. Never stop dreaming. If you keep dreaming, you can make it happen. Don’t be afraid to stick to what you believe in. Young women have many innovative & interesting ideas and insights that they bring to companies, that are completely different from the insights of professionals more senior in their career. Don’t be afraid to share them!

The politics of fashion…

This past Tuesday evening, I realized something important to me. I realized that I am not the only one to whom people raise eyebrows and ask “but why would you base your business in DC.” I get asked that because I am in beauty. I realized many, many others get asked that because they are in fashion. And I realized that we are all in this together.

On Tuesday evening this week, The Politics of Fashion. premiered at Mazza Galerie. The baby, the brainchild of my amazing friend Elaine Mensah. Well – truthfully, she had “real” baby Sage in fewer months than it took her to conceive and birth this movie.

This movie was both a political statement and an industry overview. Elaine captured the thinking of designers, retailers, marketing and PR experts, stylists, fashion and beauty entrepreneurs, and more, who all get the question about “But, why in DC.” And we all answered, in our own way.

While some of the specifics of our answers may have differed, we all agreed on the following:

  1. DC is amazing and should not wish to be what it cannot be (i.e. New York).
  2. We should all stop giving DC a bad fashion rap (us insiders and you outsiders). And DC should stop being so defensive about its fashion status. We look great, and wear outfits that do not include dark suits or flat shoes.
  3. We are all in this together. The success of one indie brand or boutique is the success of all indie brands or boutiques.
  4. DC is special – for many reasons, including for the fact that we do not have a presence in Congress similar to that of the other states’. And yes, that does influence our industry (and many others).
  5. We can do anything we set our mind to. Elaine is the perfect example. “I want to make a movie about the fashion industry,” she said one day not that long ago. In various iterations, haven’t we all said something like that some time? And how many of us actually do what we say we want to do? Not many. Thank you Elaine for reminding us we can do anything we set our mind to. If we work hard.

And to DC, to my fashion and beauty industry friends, who said no to New York and many other cities, who chose DC,  I say, I love you. And I love our city.

(Next screening is on 6/17 at E Street Cinema and tickets can be purchased here.)