Self-care + skincare + looking at yourself in the mirror

To me, skin care has always been more than skin deep. 

At the heart of our origin story is self-care 

“Self-care through skin care.”™

Also at the heart of our origin story is the idea that how you look impacts how you feel, which in turn impacts how you act. 

“Looking good, means feeling good, means doing good.” 

You can learn more about our tag lines by watching this video

In a time that seems defined by over-work, over-connectedness, stress, and mental health concerns, taking care of one’s self is an absolute must. Self-care, of course, takes many forms (exercise, meditation, religion, food, and more), and means something different to everyone. 

In my world, self-care relates to beauty, skin, and looking at myself in the mirror with kindness and gratitude. 

In my world, self-care means applying creams, lotions, potions. Self-care means spending time in my bathroom focusing on myself, and only on myself (my bathroom is a phone-free zone, the only one in my home). Per my mother’s advice, I spend a lot of time looking at myself in the mirror. I inspect all of the infinitely minute changes that take place every day. Changes in my skin, my face, my body. I look at them, I acknowledge them, I welcome them. I smile at myself. I tell myself I am beautiful. Not in a vain way, rather, in a kind way.  

In a time when we all need to be reminded about the importance of self-care, I am grateful for the many brands (beauty and otherwise) that focus on this message. The most recent example (which inspired this blog post) is Birchbox – and their new You-Time campaign 

Next time you look at yourself in the mirror, ask yourself “Who do you see?” Answer with positivity and kindness. 


New at Forever Laser Institut: The Exilis…

My father, Dr. Luigi Polla, leading Swiss dermatologist, was the first physician to offer laser technology for dermatological conditions in Europe. In the mid-1980s, he opened his solo dermatology practice after spending time at the Wellman Laboratory at Massachusetts General Hospital, with Professor Rox Anderson. After 10+ years in his traditional dermatology practice, he opened Forever Laser Institut, Switzerland’s premier medical day spa, in the heart of Geneva, in November of 1997 (we actually just celebrated the Institut’s 15th anniversary, click here for a great video).

Forever Laser Institut has many claims to fame – it is where Alchimie Forever products were born; it was designed by visual artist and architect Andreas Angelidakis; it offers the largest laser and device platform in all of Switzerland, including hospitals. My father continues to update the technology offered to his patients by investing in the leading avant-garde devices. His latest addition is the Exilis, which arrived at our Institut less than a month ago. Our team is being trained as I type, treatments will be available starting next week.

So what is this new exciting machine? How does it complement what we already offer? While this device can be used for the face and body, my father purchased it specifically for use on the body. The Exilis will complement other body therapies we offer, including massage, cryolipolysis, mesotherapy, and more.

The Exilis is a non-invasive treatment system for the reduction of targeted fat deposits and skin tightening. It provides effective body contouring by utilizing a new platform for volume reduction and re-contouring of problem areas. The results include marked improvement in cellulite, skin tightness, tissue volume, tone and elasticity. The Exilis patented technology uses controlled heating to the tissue through radio frequency in conjunction with mechanical action of ultrasound and skin cooling. The combination of the mechanical effects of ultrasound and the radiofrequency energy allows access and treatment of previously resistant tissue, including deeper fat layers, while contact cooling of the surface regulates the temperature of the skin and protects the fine dermal structures. As part of the process, the mechanical energy of ultrasound helps to open up fibrotic matrix fat structures, causing the separation of the fat-cell defensive formation into individual units. The exposed fat cells are then more isolated and accessible and more responsive to treatment. The energy causes targeted deep thermal tissue heating; metabolic activity is thus initiated and localized fat tissue lipolysis is accelerated. Fat cell volume decreases and the fat layer is reduced.

At Forever Laser Institut, we will recommend 5 sessions every 10 to 14 days. Each zone requires about 30 minutes of treatment. A zone can be arms, belly, thighs,  etc.

Translation: firmer, tighter contours, and a more beautiful silhouette.

An interview with the Swiss Doctors Polla

People are always asking me about Georgetown, about my favorite beauty tips, and my favorite Alchimie Forever products. For once, I thought I would take advantage of my parents’ stay in Georgetown to ask them these questions (in addition to being my parents, they are the co-creators of our skin care line, Alchimie Forever, and both medical doctors). Indeed, while I could have picked their favorite products correctly, I would not have been able to guess at their favorite Georgetown spots!

What do you love about Georgetown? What is your favorite place in Georgetown?

Dr. Luigi Polla:

I love Georgetown because it is so filled with the history of the United States. I love the harmony between the urban feel of this neighborhood and the tall and lush trees. When I am in Georgetown, I feel at the same time in a city and in the country.

My favorite place in Georgetown is the Ritz-Carlton Hotel on South Street, where I always stay when I come to D.C. The space and architecture are beautiful, again bringing together the past and the present, conveying both a feeling of history and of contemporary style.

Dr. Barbara Polla:

I love Georgetown because to me it represents the perfect blend of the best of Europe with the best of America. The people in Georgetown look beautiful and happy. There are no McMansions here, but houses that are small and that touch each other – I love row houses.

I love Georgetown University, one of the best in the United States (which is why two of my daughters went there). I love it because there are as many squirrels on campus as there are students, which brings a lightness of spirit to the campus. Specifically, I love the University’s writing program. As a writer, I am fascinated by how many writers are Georgetown University alumni. I want to read all of the books they have written!

My favorite place in Georgetown is the Alchimie Forever showroom, where art blends with beauty, where I love to work while in DC, sharing the space with my daughter Ada, whether in person, or just looking at her portrait by contemporary artist Vanessa Beecroft.

What are your top tips for beauty?

Dr. Luigi Polla:

1.       Eat healthy, which to me means eating real food, mostly vegetables and fruit, and stay away from processed foods.

2.       Work out to enhance the strength and suppleness of your body. I work with a strength training coach for specific strength and muscle group, and I also play golf twice a week, never with a golf cart however – walking is one of the most essential parts of the game of golf.

3.       Have a positive outlook on life. Visualize positive outcomes and events. This may sound non-scientific, but I truly believe in the effect of such visualization not only one’s own happiness, but also in how good someone looks.

4.       Work to preserve the health and beauty of your skin, in a harmonious way. Avoid the sun, use antioxidant products, visit your dermatologist regularly for various non-invasive procedures, but never go too far. I always tell my patients they want to look the way they feel, not look like they are 20 when they are 50.

Dr. Barbara Polla:

1.       Smile. A beautiful face with perfect skin and a flawless complexion cannot be beautiful without a smile. Smile to yourself, smile to strangers, smile with your eyes and with your lips. Smile lines are so much more beautiful than frown lines. (A corollary to this, wear lipstick … that is the one makeup item I never leave the house without. I am loving the glosses from Haughty Cosmetics for the summer.)

2.       Move every day. Walk fast whenever possible. Leave your car at home, take the stairs instead of the elevator. Dance. I also think moving is energizing in terms of moving cities, moving jobs.

3.       Take baths. I have never gotten used to bathrooms without bathtubs. I don’t like showers, I treasure my time in the bathtub. I take the time to exfoliate, to put a mask on my face, and oils in the bath water. The time in the bath is a time of wellness, but also a time of reflection, a time of quiet, a time for you to take care of yourself. When stepping out of the bath, massage every inch of your body with your favorite lotion, from the tip of your ears to the tip of your toes.

4.       Look at yourself in the mirror. Every day, twice a day. Really look. Looking at myself in the mirror with love and attention enables me to see the subtle changes in my skin, in my face, so that I never wake up and feel that I have aged 10 years overnight. And of course, smile while you are looking at yourself …

What is your favorite Alchimie Forever products?

Dr. Luigi Polla:

1.       As a dermatologist, the products that I recommend to every single patient are our Brightening Moisture Mask and our Firming Gel for Neck and Bust. The mask is a treatment product that I use on all of my patients after peels and injectables, and it truly helps to heal the skin, give it an immediate glow, and minimize redness. It is a product that is both effective and results-oriented, and a sensorially delicious product to use. Our gel for neck and bust is the best product to maintain the health and youthfulness of an area of the body that women tend to neglect, namely neck, décolleté, and arms. It is both tightening and helps to even out pigment.

2.       As a man, I love our Antioxidant Defense Gel. I use it every day after shaving. It is oil free, it penetrates immediately in my skin, and I love the fresh, masculine scent. I truly believe this is one of our best products.

Dr. Barbara Polla:

1.       I love our Gentle Exfoliating Scrub. It is a face product, but I use it all over the body. The beads of cranberries and jojoba, and the papaya enzyme, physically exfoliate my skin and leave it soft, and the shea butter nourishes it. I use it up to four times per week.

2.       Our Brightening Moisture Mask is also one of my favorites, indeed I believe it is our hero product. I follow the scrub with an application of the mask to treat my skin, nourish it, and keep it supple and youthful-looking.  I love this product so much that I even mix a little bit of it in my favorite moisturizer, our Intensely Nourishing Cream.

3.       Our newest product, which we are launching next week, is a professional-only peel. I have been testing it on myself for the last two months, and I have to admit I am in love with it. It will be available at the end of the month in D.C.’s best spas, it is a fabulous treatment to help heal the damage of the summer, even out pigment, and prevent signs of aging.