Big Apple + Little Sister = Best Day

I go to New York every few weeks, and I write about my visits every few years (including here and here). This week, I had the pleasure of spending a day in the Big Apple with my youngest sister Roxane who was visiting from Switzerland. Here is what our perfect day together looked like.

Mimosas at the Loews Hotel

On Park in mid-town, this is one of the most civilized places in NYC, whether for coffee, lunch, or drinks. I love it for meetings, I love it alone when I need to catch up on emails or write, and I love it for everything in between.

A facial at Heyday Upper West Side

Despite family businesses involving a spa and skin care, Roxane is not a facial aficionado… so I had to gift her a Heyday facial. Not surprisingly, she loved everything about it – the setting, the treatment itself, the post-facial glow, the wonderful team members. No better way to start a day in the city!

A stroll through Nordstrom 57th street

Both of our first times in this gorgeous new store, we were in awe of the beauty offering. Not just the ground floor beauty store (which was packed with shoppers by the way), but also the first floor Beauty Services area. Featuring various “shops in shop” including Heyday (yes, they are in all the right places), Drybar, Face Gym and more, as well as wonderful niche brands, this area gave off a cool, chic, inviting vibe that made you want to shop and treat yourself.

A haircut at Fourteen Jay 

Roxane is addicted to her short haircut, and to Aveda. When she asked me for the best Aveda salon in the City, I had to recommend Fourteen Jay, a project my friend (and celebrity hairstylist) Frank Rizzieri was involved in creating.

Apero at the “new” Pastis

Pastis reopening last year after a five-year hiatus was to me some of the happiest 2019 news. Breakfast, lunch, or dinner there still feels like a party, something utterly “New York” that can’t be replicated anywhere else. A must.

We didn’t have a chance to visit all of the places on my list… here are a few left for her next visit.

The bar at Morandi

Another Keith McNally creation, Morandi in the West Village is on my list of places to try.

An afternoon at Great Jones Spa

One day I will make the time to have a long and perfect massage at this legendary spa, and I will take advantage of their amazing amenities, including the River Rock Sauna, the Chakra Light Steam Room, the Jacuzzi, and the Cold Plunge. One day…

Our Kantic® Brightening Moisture Mask: Better than Ever!

One of the things that I love about the skin care industry is the constantly evolving body of knowledge and the ingredient innovation that keep things exciting, and keep me forever working on our product formulations.

When we created our first Alchimie Forever products, back in the late 1980s, we used parabens (we also loved big hair and worked out to Jane Fonda). We no longer use parabens anymore of course, and the process of removing them from our formulations was not easy (imagine making your grandmother’s tomato sauce with cherry tomatoes instead of heirloom tomatoes and wanting it to taste exactly the same). That was Alchimie 2.0.

The improvements continue, as we move from Alchimie 2.0 to Alchimie 3.0.

Recently, we updated our Purifying gel cleanser formulation, removing sulfates, and replacing them with more natural, gentler alternatives – while preserving the beautiful foaming texture of this product.

We also just improved our hero SKU, the Kantic® Brightening moisture mask. For all of you out there who have used and loved this product for decades, and who do not like change (I am in this group), here is more information on exactly what we changed (starting with Lot Numbers 10151J21 and 11041K21).

We removed the following ingredients, in our continued effort to make our formulations as clean (yet still effective) as possible:

  • Phenoxyethanol (preservative, slightly controversial)
  • Dimethicone (silicone derivative, texture ingredient, can clogg pores)
  • Trimethylsiloxysilicate (silicone derivative, texture ingredient, can clogg pores)
  • PPG-15 Stearyl Ether (ethoxylated ingredient, slightly controversial)
  • PPG-20 Methyl Glucose Ether (ethoxylated ingredient, slightly controversial)

We replaced these ingredients with the following cleaner alternatives:

  • Coco-Caprylate/Caprate (non-controversial alternative to silicone)
  • Dimer Dilinoleyl Dimer Dilinoleate (non-controversial texture ingredient)
  • Caprylyl Glycol (non-controversial texture ingredient)

Rest assured: while we have made the formula “cleaner,” we have not changed any of the active ingredients that give the mask all of its wonderful properties and benefits. You will still get the same glow, hydration, calming and anti-redness effect, as you have for years.

And remember, as our products do not contain artificial dyes, the color may vary slightly with each production batch. Similarly, the viscosity (how thick the product is) is a range, as it cannot be replicated 100% batch to batch without a purely synthetic formulation. This means that sometimes the mask will be a little thicker, and sometimes it will be a little more watery.

But the Kantic® Brightening moisture mask, in all of its iterations, remains our best-selling, first ever product, and hero of our brand. And your favorite!

 

21 Day Cleanse…Was it Worth it?

On January 5th, I started a 21-day cleanse, which I described here. I did it. I did not cheat. I loved it. And while I am glad it is over, I am maintaining many better, healthier habits.

Here are my key takeaways.

    1. I feel better. In my head and in my body. I am thinking more clearly, my belly is more comfortable, my early mornings are more pleasurable.
    2. I need a lot less food than I think I do. My “normal” calorie budget is 1,300 per day (according to my Lose It Apps anyway). On average, over the three weeks, I ate about 1,000 calories per day and I was not hungry except on the days I exercised.
    3. With these new eating and drinking habits, I need less exercise. During the past three weeks, I exercised only twice per week, which seems to be plenty both mentally and physically.
    4. I did lose weight, 8 pounds to be exact, which is a lot for me and hard to do in three weeks.
    5. I did not miss alcohol, but I did miss the rituals. I missed the ritual of a glass of wine during a lunch date with a friend (replaced by non-alcoholic beer) and the ritual of a glass of wine in the evening to wind down (replaced by many cups of all kinds of different teas).
    6. My evening beauty routine has improved. Somehow exfoliating and masking and “retinol-ing” go better with three cups of hot tea than with three glasses of wine.
    7. My skin is clearer. I don’t know if this is from the liters of tea (herbal mostly) I consumed, from my more regular use of my Advanced retinol serum (see above), or from the lack of alcohol, or all of the above, but I am definitely more “glowy.”
    8. I spent a lot less money on food and beverage, partly because going out did lose some of its appeal, and partly because when I did eat out, there was mostly lettuce and certainly no alcohol on my tab.
    9. I went to the grocery store twice in three weeks (versus my average of once every two months…). With these new habits, having the right food at home and in my purse at all times is essential to avoid “mistakes due to hangry emergencies.”
    10. I discovered a love for apples. I have probably eaten an apple a day since January 5th (the only fruit allowed on this cleanse) and I plan to continue. They keep the doctor away, are easy to travel with, and are available in American Airlines lounges!
    11. My new rituals and habits have stuck beyond 21 days. I have not added milk back to my coffee. I have not added carbs or sugar back to my diet. I am still limiting dairy. I did enjoy mimosas with brunch and a great cabernet with dinner this past Sunday, the first day “post cleanse,” but I have not had any alcohol since. I will certainly splurge on date nights and on weekends, but these new healthy habits are here to stay – and that is the best possible outcome of these 21 days.

I cannot think of a better way to have started 2020!

January + Reset + Intentions

In 8 days, we enter the second month of this new decade. Am I almost 1/12th done with what I set out to do this year? I can’t say that I am; yet I can say that I have loved this month so far.

I cleansed. I am 3 days away from the end of my 21-day cleanser (read more here), and I feel lighter, stronger, and healthier than ever (yet also hungry and somewhat unsatisfied…).

I reset. This past weekend was Serious Business, the annual personal and professional development conference ideated by Debra Neill Baker of Neill Corporation. This year’s theme was Reset, particularly applicable to a new decade. My highlight was Neil Pasricha’s admonition that “action creates motivation” (instead of the other way around).

I organized. I handled end of year paperwork, started getting things ready for Aprils’ tax deadline, threw away old bills and bank statements, and purged paper.

I unsubscribed. From so many email newsletters I delete before opening, my inbox feels lighter. And I cancelled magazine and entertainment subscriptions I no longer benefit from.

I recommitted. To my evening skin care routine, and to using my Advanced retinol serum twice weekly. I can’t help but think that there is a correlation between this behavior and recent compliments on my “fresh” and “glowing” look.

I tried something new. My workout rituals involve running and SoulCycle, and have for years. This month, I decided I to add strength training and tried Orange Theory Fitness for the first time. I was mostly in the red, have hardly ever been so sore, yet I have another class booked for this Friday!

Before February arrives, here are some intentions for the next 8 days:

  • Read two more books (which will bring me to one per week)
  • Finalize the Alchimie Forever 2020 budget (yes, I am very late on this)
  • Buy some extra drip colored candles and use some empty wine bottles as candle holders to decorate the mantle (something my parents used to do, which a recent dinner at The Columns in New Orleans reminded me of)

Sugarcane packaging – what does this mean?

If I had to choose a 2020 beauty industry buzz word, it would have to be Sustainability. Sustainability has been identified as a key 2020 beauty and fashion industry “trend” by numerous trade news outlets, including The Business of Beauty, Beauty Independent, BeautyMatter, and more.

What does “sustainability” mean? This is what the dictionary says:

  • the ability to be maintained at a certain rate or level
  • avoidance of the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance

What does sustainability mean to my brand Alchimie Forever? It means that we pay attention to the environmental impact and carbon footprint of everything we do, from sourcing packaging and raw materials to avoiding plastic water bottles in the office. It means that we are constantly striving to improve our practices to be more Earth-friendly.

This week, we introduced more environmentally-friendly packaging, with the arrival of our Purifying gel cleanser in a new sulfate-free formula, and in a new sugarcane plastic bottle. Since this announcement, many of you have reached out with questions about sugarcane packaging. Here are some answers.

  • Our supplier is a family-owned Italian manufacturer – given how the Italians perhaps best know how to craft beautiful things and how we love to work with other family-owned businesses.
  • The sugarcane plastic we use is a bioplastic obtained from renewable sources, specifically a poly-ethylene derived from sugarcane ethanol rather than from petroleum.
  • The production process of sugarcane plastic results in lower carbon dioxide emissions as compared to the production process of “normal” plastic.
  • The performance of this material is the same.
  • Yes, this type of plastic is more expensive than “normal” plastic. And no, we did not pass this cost on to you as the price of our Purifying gel cleanser is remaining $41 (as it has been for years).

Next up, our Gentle cream cleanser will be repackaged in this same sustainable packaging later this Spring, with more steps towards sustainability to follow!

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.