ada polla shows redness on her face

Skincare Tips For Stressful Situations

I feel fortunate that most of the time, my skin is not a cause for stress or concern. I am nice to it, and in return it is nice to me. We happily coexist. Sometimes, however, my skin likes to remind me that it is the boss of me, and that I need to be extra gentle with it. It can’t use words, so it “speaks” to me with zits, redness, dry patches, and dark circles. Here are my go-to tips and products for stressful skin scenarios.

Reaction from another product.

  • Case in point, the very unflattering photo of me here, trying out a mask (that shall remain un-named) on half my face to compare the effect with our Kantic brightening moisture mask. Instant redness and irritation.
  • The best thing to do is nothing, or apply a very calming, trusted moisturizer. I used our Kantic calming cream and was fine the next morning.

Travelling.

 Stressed.

  • Stress will come out on your skin in various ways. For me, I get dry red patches in symmetrical areas, often in my wrist area. This may sound bad, but Neosporin is then my go-to – the kind with pain relief properties.
  • Our Dry skin balm also helps calm the inflammation of stressed skin and is ideal if your stress comes out as dry flaky patches (body, not face).

 Hungover.

  • The eye area is key on such mornings, and our Tightening eye contour gel works miracles in lifting and opening my tired eyes.
  • A tiny bit of Kantic Brightening moisture mask mixed in my favorite moisturizer will help give my skin an all-day glow to counteract the “morning after dullness.”

 Sunburnt.

  • Think healing, gentle, anti-inflammatory, and anti-redness. Our Kantic Calming cream helps reduce redness and calm the heat in your skin, and you can even use it on your body.
  • If you peel, do not “pick” at your skin. Once the redness is gone, our Gentle refining scrub will help accelerate the skin’s recovery.

 Breakout before a hot date.

  • Never, ever, ever pick. It only makes it worse.
  • The Mario Badescu Drying Lotion is a miracle worker. Ideally overnight, but even if it is for an hour or so before said “hot date,” it will help.
  • Dab a tiny amount of concealer to hide the redness, but don’t overdo it as that will only attract attention to that area.

My Rendition of Vanity Fair’s ‘My Stuff’

Clothes

Beauty products

Living & inspiration

Stop Adding Sugar to Your Diet to Look Younger Longer

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day so a post on sweets (aka sugar) seems timely (it was that or a red roses rant).

Summary: Sugar is a (skin) aging accelerator. Stop adding sugar to your diet to look younger longer.

Sugar is hidden in almost everything we eat – including fruits and vegetables, yogurt (except plain), processed meats, salad dressings, sauces (yes, the best tomato sauce has added sugar), bread, pasta, crackers, wine, and more. Knowing this, we are all getting our “recommended sugar dosage” by eating and drinking “normal” substances – so no need to add juice, soda, sports or energy drinks, cereal, desert, cookies, muffins, smoothies, or other sugar-forward foods in our diet.

I am not speaking about the correlation between sugar and tooth decay, excess weight, diabetes, heart disease (and those connections are real). I am speaking pure skin here – excess sugar makes you look older sooner. Here is a summary of the pesky process called Glycation.

  • Excess sugar molecules attach themselves to proteins including collagen
  • Said collagen loses its strength and flexibility
  • Skin thus looks slacker, more wrinkled, less plump

Ironically, the culprits in this process are called AGEs – advanced glycation end products (compounds that result from a combination of sugars and proteins). And yes, they age you. For a more in-depth understanding of the impact of glycation on aging, read this article.

Here are easy tips to incorporate in your daily lifestyle today:

  • Stop drinking sugar – fruit juice, sodas, energy drinks, sports drinks  
  • Forego pre-made or store-bought salad dressing, at home and at the restaurant; instead, have oil and vinegar on the side
  • If you must have desert, do it the European way and eat fruit and nuts (and cheese!)
  • Put down that piece of chocolate – unless it is dark chocolate (packed with antioxidants), small, and the only one you will enjoy this month.

Conclusion: Sugar is a (skin) aging accelerator. Stop adding sugar to your diet to look younger longer.

Morning Rituals

Mornings. I love them. I became a morning person in college when I was introduced to crew at Harvard. The stillness of the city, the sunrise over the Charles, and the camaraderie of 5:30 am meets at the boathouse forever changed me.

I am often asked about my morning routines – beauty and otherwise. I wrote about this a couple of years ago here, some things are the same, some have evolved.

For many years, I woke up at 5 am. For the past year, I have been waking up between 4:30 and 4:50 am on weekdays. Somehow, those minutes before 5 am seem particularly precious. By 6 am, I am working (in the office or on the road), or working out (running or SoulCycle).

What I do:

  • I get out of bed immediately. No snoozing for me.
  • I light a candle. I love Aveda Shampure candles and have them all around the house. Lighting them makes the house smell good and feels like an act of kindness and sophistication that I do just for myself.
  • I make my bed. It looks good, it makes me feel like I have accomplished something, like I have control over my surroundings. (Even Navy SEALS feel this way about this small task)
  • I check my phone (emails, social media). Everything I have read about morning routines says not to do this. For a while, I tried not to do it – but that frustrated me to no end and did not contribute positively to my mornings. So I do it, unapologetically!

What I think about:

  • What am I looking forward to today? This can be a work project, a meeting, a trip, date night… Starting my day with something specific to look forward to helps me get out of bed.
  • What are the three most important things I need to accomplish today. I have an endless to-do list, so prioritizing three daily goals helps me stay on target.

What I eat and drink:

  • A tall glass of water with one Emergen-C Super Orange packet. If the rest of the day goes crazy, at least I will have done something good for myself!
  • I have the same Krups coffee maker I bought during my freshman year in college, and I love it! It makes the best coffee. Milk if I have it in the fridge (which is infrequently!), otherwise black.
  • No breakfast. I stopped eating breakfast a few years ago, when I realized that the Danone vanilla yogurts I was eating every morning were nothing but sugar. I have not missed them (or breakfast) since.

My beauty routine (post workout if I work out that morning): 

One ritual I am trying to add to my routine is to use the free weights I got over a year ago to strengthen my arms and shoulders. So yesterday I took them out of their dark closet and put them by my full-length mirror… let’s see seeing them helps me use them…

 

 

 

Our Business Didn’t Start as a Business… Our Origin Story

Alchimie Forever does not exist because one day my father, Dr. Luigi L. Polla, sat at his desk and decided to start a skin care brand.

Alchimie Forever does not exist because a consultant ran focus groups, identified white space in the market, raised some money, and created a business.

Alchimie Forever exists because my father is a softie and can’t stand to see children suffer.

Alchimie Forever exists because 30+ years ago, my father couldn’t find the perfect product to help heal the skin of his young patients post procedure.

Let me tell you our “origin story.” (Thanks, Marc Ross, for teaching me this terminology.)

My father opened his dermatology practice in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1986, and was the first dermatologist to offer pulsed dye laser technology to treat children suffering from Port Wine Stains and hemangiomas. Parents brought their children from near and far to have Dad erase these debilitating birthmarks, an endeavor that required numerous treatments over a period of months, sometimes years.

I was already working with my father back then (at the front desk) and I remember hearing the children crying from the pain, as the laser treatment created heat and discomfort, redness and inflammation, and a burning sensation. And if there is something my father can’t stand, it is a child in pain (he switched his medical specialization from pediatrics to dermatology after realizing he could not handle seeing terminally ill children). He needed a product to help make them feel better – to help heal their skin.

Not finding the right product, he created his own “recipe.” He would send his patients’ parents to a neighborhood pharmacy with a compounding prescription, the pharmacist would whip up a magical product in little white jars right there and then, and the child would stop crying. The prescription was for what is known today as our Kantic Brightening moisture mask. This compounded product, meant to help heal the kids’ skin post procedure, smelled so good that the mothers ended up also using it, and asking for more at the follow-up appointment: “it makes my skin glow,” they would say. For their convenience, we ended up “pre-making” the product.

One product led to another, and to another, and finally to the brand that became Alchimie Forever.

Alchimie Forever exists because of what is still our hero product, our Kantic Brightening moisture mask.

Long before this mask had a name, it had a loyal following.

Long before we had a brand, we had skin care solutions.

Long before we had a business, we had a mission.

The Email Newsletters That Make Me Smarter

I spend time daily unsubscribing from email newsletters. I also spend time daily (or weekly) relishing email newsletters. Here are the ones that keep me thinking, questioning, learning.

WWD

This is the classis source of news for anyone in beauty or fashion. I enjoy the fashion aspect, but my favorite articles are not surprisingly the beauty pieces by Jenny Fine, Ellen Thomas, and Allison Collins. Also, the print issue of Beauty Inc. is a treasure. And yes, I pay for this content.

Business of Fashion

Imran Amed is a genius. He is on my list of five people I would like to have dinner with. I love everything about the Business of Fashion – the daily emails, the podcasts, the print issues (more treasures), and BOF Professional. And yes, I also pay for that content. The articles by Sarah Brown are just by themselves worth the price.

Retail Dive

I love this daily email because it keeps me updated with overall retail trends – not just beauty. It helps me learn from outside my industry – and influences the stores I visit during my travels to get a feel for the current reality of retail.

Beyond the articles, I love the ‘What We’re Reading” section of every email.

Racked

I love the blend of business and beauty, and Racked does it best. This article on Amazon beauty is an example of why I stay subscribed to their newsletters.

BeautyMatter

Kelly Kovack is my friend, so I am biased. But she does have one of the most beautiful brains in the beauty industry. So, when she started BeautyMatter a couple of years ago, I subscribed from Day 1 and have not missed a day. I love her quarterly beauty M&A recaps, her white papers, and the daily beauty news. Smart, short, on point.

Harvard Management Tip of the Day

I look forward to this email every single day. This is the daily email I forward the most. To my sisters, to my team, to my friends. The tips range from management advice (for example how to delegate), the importance of vacation time, and my all-time favorite, the need to put a “meeting-free day” on your calendar every week. That is top on my goal list!

Marc Ross

Brigadoon is Marc Ross’ brain-child. The best annual conference I have ever attended. He keeps me thinking beyond my “comfort and industry bubble” in between these conferences with his daily emails (Marc Ross Daily), but what I get the most out of are the Brigadoon Weekly emails. The Ross Rant is particularly delicious. Also, his reading lists are inspiring.

Shane Parrish

Weekly brain food. Literally, that is what he calls his Friday emails. I came across him because of a podcast I listened to from The Knowledge Project – an interview with Naval Ravikant. This is possibly my favorite podcast of all times, I have actually already listened to it twice. Shane’s weekly emails include articles, a note on the book he is currently reading, and a quote he is thinking about.

Scott Galloway

I must admit, I only like about one third of his No Mercy / No Malice emails, but I can’t bring myself to unsubscribe because when I like them, I love them. If you don’t know him, he is a Professor of Marketing at NYU Stern School of Business, and founder of the digital intelligence firm L2 (I also get their emails, but those feel more like homework). Try it.

Thomas Oppong, curator of Postanly

I can’t recall how I found Thomas – but I look forward to his Friday emails every week. I don’t always find the inspiration I crave, but when I do, it is quite amazing. This is one of my favorite articles shared.

I stopped watching the news a long time ago. My husband fills me in on the things I must know, I listen to NPR while driving, and I get The Skimm every day. A girlfriend of mine told me it makes her feel dumb when she reads it – like they are not taking their readers seriously. I have been thinking about this a lot, but I have not unsubscribed yet (also I love their Instagram account).

What I just subscribed to: The Cut. I just couldn’t resist, after the whole “Gwyneth Paltrow doesn’t know about The Cut” saga. Also, I love Jane Larkworthy’s articles.

What I am thinking of subscribing to: Glossy. There is now a paid version, which I have committed to signing up for by the end of this month. I love their podcasts, and Jill Manoff, Editor-in-Chief of Glossy who is both smart and sassy.

What I am still trying to figure out: Beauty Independent. I get these emails daily. I enjoy them. I am still trying to understand the background, what the connection to IBE means, the agenda.

What I recently unsubscribed myself from: Tim Ferriss (I just can’t), Total Retail (Retail Dive is so much better).

What are your must-read email newsletters? What am I missing?