Remote Inspiration

This week (quarantine week 3) has been particularly challenging because the current reality has lost its novelty and is starting to sink in. I finally realized on Monday that life is going to be this way for another 4-6 weeks (hopefully not much longer, please). 

I wrote last week about my new sanity rituals, which while I am (mostly) following, are not helping (much). I do not feel inspired. I do not feel productive. I do not feel creative. When this happens during “normal life,” I go out in the field and visit Alchimie Forever customers. Nothing re-engages me in my brand, in my work, than being out in the field, listening to our brand ambassadors, learning from them, feeling their enthusiasm rub off on me. 

In “current life,” however, that is not possible. So instead, I turned to customers, business leaders, brand owners, for some remote inspiration. Here are four things that have helped me re-engage. 

 A remote training session with Heyday. This was almost as great as being in the field, visiting with the Heyday therapists IRL. Their questions, their feedback, their enthusiasm was contagious even “just” on the screen. And this gave me an opportunity to wear lipstick (first time in two weeks…), which felt wonderful. 

The COVID-19 speech by Marriott International President & CEO Arne Sorenson. I am a Marriott girl through and through, and will forever be after this speech, possibly the best crisis communication I have heard. Honest, realistic, hopeful, compassionate, emotional. 

The wise and honest words of Jennifer Yen, Founder & CEO of Purlisse, as quoted in Glossy today (article written by Emma Sandler). 

“As a brand founder who experienced the 2008 financial crisis and recession, the experience taught [me] lessons which [I have] applied for the past 12 years, including the importance of keeping a lean team, focusing on profitability versus growth, and reinvesting profit into hiring and product development. … Scrappy is the new sexy. It’s hard to see when the party’s over when times are still good, but I’ve been preparing for another moment like 2008 because it was so traumatizing.” 

The community efforts by Mathilde Thomas, Founder of Caudalie. Her brand sent hundreds of products to hospitals throughout France to help with chapped, irritated skin. In her LinkedIn post about this, she encouraged everyone: FAITES CE QUE VOUS POUVEZ POUR AIDER (Do what you can to help). Her example inspired me to reach out to MedStar Georgetown University Hospital to offer to donate some Dry skin balm, some Kantic Brightening moisture mask, and some Kantic+ Intensely nourishing cream. Because that is what I can do right now, right here, to help. 

How do you stay inspired and engaged in your work, in your brand, during these strange times? 

 

One step at a time…

Summer is the time for barbeques, beaches, sundresses, and most of all sandals and flip flops, and even spending time barefoot. Our feet get to come out of closed shoes and show themselves… Indeed, I have spent the better part of the last ten days sans shoes as I am in Tinos, Greece, and am spending my days at the beach. I have a renewed appreciation for feet, often viewed as the lowliest part of our anatomy, and how essential it is to take good care of them. 

Did you know: 

  • There are 52 bones in a pair of feet – almost one-quarter of the total number in the human body. 
  • Socrates once said, “When our feet hurt, we hurt all over.” 
  • The typical American woman owners 27 pairs of shoes, and spends $277 on shoes annually. (Although Carrie Bradshaw estimated she had spent $40,000 on shoes in a season four episode of Sex and the City…) 
  • The average shoe size of American women is 8. 
  • 23% of women get a monthly pedicure. 
  • And yes, feet rank #1 on the list of most common sexual fetishes. 

(All data from Allure Magazine). 

My foot care rituals include cuticle oil nightly (I love CND’s Solar Oil and SpaRitual’s Cuti-Cocktail Nail and Cuticle Oil), my Dry skin balm daily, and using a nice foot file weekly (SpaRitual’s Soul Mate Eco Foot File is the best). What are yours? 

 

Our Newest Product is Almost Here…

New product development may be the most fun part of my job. It is scientific, creative, challenging, satisfying. There is research, there are prototypes. There are misses and bad skin reactions. And then one day, everything comes together and a new member of the Alchimie Forever family is born.  

Our newest product will be on shelves mid-July, and I can’t wait. Ask and you shall receive! It is a calming, soothing, hydrating, anti-aging body lotion, its name will be (very literally) Soothing body lotion – because it soothes the skin, and soothes the soul. This all-over body cream will complement our existing body product assortment, comprised primarily of targeted problem solvers (Firming gel for neck and bust, Optimizing body contour gel, Dry skin balm).

Much of the new product development process involves looking at products from other brands that fall in the same category. I have been testing body lotions for months… and here are some of my favorites.

Goe (for Garden of Eden) Oil by Jao. This semi-solid oil transforms into liquid oil as you massage it into your skin. It is composed of 28 fruit and flower oils and butters, and the medicinal aroma reduces my blood pressure. The directions say to use sparingly, that less is more – but I can’t help myself and slather it generously over my entire body.

Body Salve (Geranium Cedarwood aroma) by Spa Rituals. I adore Shel Pink, the woman behind this brand, and I love the texture of this product, which is not quite a cream, not quite a balm.

Stress-fix Body Lotion by Aveda. The best part of this lotion is its lavender aroma, formulated to reduce feelings of stress. (Side note, I also love the Stress-fix Soaking Salts in a hot bath before bed.)

Stress Relief Moisturizing Lotion by Aveeno. Can you see the theme here? A competitive product test has to include at least one drugstore product, and I must admit I like this lotion, although I know I shouldn’t because the ingredients aren’t great (did anyone say petrolatum?). Once again, the lavender aroma is a big part of it. I also love the pump packaging.

Herbalderm Sensitive Body Lotion by Rausch. Of course, I had to test a brand from Switzerland. This product is based on Swiss plant extracts and leaves my skin hydrated no matter the climate or dryness.

What’s your favorite body lotion? And are you as excited as I am for the arrival of our Soothing body lotion? July is almost here…

15 Beauty Rules

I was invited by Progressions Salon and Spa last week to participate in a Wellness and Stress Management event. In thinking about the theme, I was reminded of the core of our brand’s DNA, and of the reason why my parents decided to create a product brand so many years ago: because looking good, means feeling good, means doing good. Indeed, looking good is a way to relieve stress, and increase wellness.

The question, of course, is what can we do to look good, to look better? Here are 15 rules, strategies, rather, that I learned from my parents – and that I follow religiously.   

  1. Prevention is everything. Don’t wait to see wrinkles or have bad skin to use great products, get regular facials, and go to your dermatologist at least once per year. Think of your skin care the way you think of your dental care – you don’t wait to have rotting teeth to brush your teeth daily; you don’t wait to have cavities to go visit a dentist twice annually for your checkup. The same behavior applies to skin.
  2. No smoking. Ever.
  3. No sun. Ever. If you must sun, remember: no “unprotected sun.” And no tanning beds either.
  4. Never go to bed without washing your face. I recently learned from a very credible source (a German R&D specialist) that every day you sleep with your makeup on you age your skin 7 days…
  5. Exfoliate once per week. Every week. This not only helps your skin look its best, it also will help all of your skin care products work better. Using expensive serums and masks on skin that is never exfoliated is like taking a shower with your rain coat on. It’s a shower… but it’s not exactly have its full desired effect…
  6. Use a product with broad-spectrum SPF protection every morning. January 1 through December 31. Yes, that includes the winter months.
  7. Use an antioxidant product every day, ideally twice a day. This will help your skin age as gracefully as possible.
  8. If you’re old enough to drink, you’re old enough for a good eye cream. The skin around the eyes is the first to show signs of aging, so prevention is even more important.
  9. Sleep on your back. You can train yourself to do this. Even if it’s not all night, every night, it will truly make a difference. My dermatologist father can always tell on which side a woman (or man!) sleeps because the wrinkles are deeper on that side of the face.
  10. Use products on your neck and décolleté. Your face does not end at your jawline, but rather just above your chest.
  11. The hands are a woman’s second face. Treat them like you treat your face, with anti-aging products and sun protection.
  12. Use more skin care and less makeup as you grow older. Makeup ages you. Except mascara and lipstick.
  13. Make an extra effort to look good on the days you feel bad, sick, tired, sad, upset, or are in a bad mood. Nothing brightens those hard days as regular compliments throughout the day about your lovely outfit, great hair, or fabulous necklace. It works every time!
  14. Look at yourself in the mirror. Really look. That way you will never wake up thinking “how did this line just appear, it was not there yesterday….” Wrinkles take time to form. If you see them forming, you’ll be less shocked or upset when you realize they are fully formed.
  15. Every year you grow older, spend 1 more minute in your bathroom.

Warm weather skin care tips

While the first official day of summer is still almost two months away, as I sit in my hotel room in Miami (taking a quick break from the amazing Tuff Love Aveda / Neill hair show taking place this week-end) and watch the people lying out by the pool, the topic of summer skin care comes to mind.

My mother always told me that the change of seasons was the perfect excuse to do a deep cleaning of my house, more specifically of my closets. My father, on the other hand, always told me the change of seasons was the perfect time to take another look at my skin care products and skin care routine and adapt it accordingly.

How do late spring and summer affect our skin? Of course, sunburns come to mind. Sweating, heat rashes, and clogged pores are also typical concerns of warm weather skin care. Sunshine and higher temperatures also mean dresses, shorts, sleeveless tops, open toed shoes and flip flops…. Here is how I deal with warm weather skin:

  1. I switch to a gel-based cleanser. My skin type is pretty normal, and as is typical, I am dryer during the winter months and oilier during the warmer months. To get rid of all traces of sweat and to avoid clogged pores, I love a “squeaky clean” feel, and our Purifying facial cleanser is perfect for that.
  2. I take cooler showers. Really, hot water, while delightful and relaxing, is not great for the skin, in any season. In warmer months, I find it easier to enjoy slightly cooler water, which is great to tighten pores, stimulate circulation (my Mom swears it is her daily cold showers that have given her her cellulite-free legs…), and give my hair some added shine.
  3. I make sure to exfoliate regularly with our Gentle refining scrub, both face and body. I find that regular (aka twice weekly) exfoliation helps to keep my blackheads under control, and actually ensure a longer, more even sun-kissed look. While I don’t use self-tanner, exfoliation is indeed crucial prior to applying tanning lotion, to ensure it goes on smoothly and avoid streaks.
  4. I switch to a lighter moisturizer. Whether I am in DC or in New Orleans, there is plenty of moisture in the air starting April. While humidity can be awful for hair, it truly is wonderful for skin. Skin will absorb some of the moisture in the air, and as such, most skin types can benefit from a lighter moisturizer during the warmer months. Our Protective Day Cream SPF 23 is particularly ideal and leaves a very matte finish on the skin.
  5. Sunscreen is a must. Indeed, while sunscreen is a must every day, it is a MUST when out by the beach, the pool, or the river. My father always recommended SPF 50+ on the face and body, and until we develop our own sunscreen, his favorite is LaRoche Posay’s Anthelios. He also taught me to avoid the sun between 11 am and 3 pm, and to be particularly careful when in the water, as sun gets reflected and is then twice a dangerous.
  6. Don’t forget your lips – they too are prone to sunburn. Whatever sunscreen you apply on the face, don’t avoid your lips or lip contours. And make sure you use a lip balm that contains an SPF.
  7. Don’t forget your eyes – sunglasses will help protect your eyes from the sun, and will help prevent squinting, which leads to wrinkles.
  8. Shorter dresses and arm-bearing tops mean that I am particularly conscious of my body. Our Firming gel for neck and bust and our Optimizing body contour gel take care of my upper and lower body respectively, preventing sagging and minimizing cellulite. Of course, a couple extra sessions of Barre3 will help more than any product…
  9. For many, summer means more frequent shaving. If you experience post-shaving irritation or ingrown hairs, remember to shave only after you have been in the shower for a few minutes (your hairs will be softer), to change your blade often, to exfoliate, and to shave with a cream-based product (shaving cream or hair conditioner work best).
  10. Don’t forget your feet – for me, open-toed shoes mean more frequent pedicures, but also dryer feet and the propensity to cracked heels. I use our Dry skin balm religiously every evening.
  11. Last but not least, hydrate from the inside out. With warmer weather comes more sweating, which means it is doubly important to drink those recommended 8 glasses of water per day. Emergen-C in my water helps it go down better…

Finally, my father always reminded me not only of what to do, but also of what not to do during the summer. Avoid photo-sensitizing products such as retinols (or use them less frequently), avoid laser treatments on tanned skin, and avoid stronger peels on tanned skin.

Happy bathing suit season!