Alchimie Forever… The Story Behind Our Name

It is Marketing 101 that when choosing a brand name, something short, easy to pronounce and spell, and memorable in various cultures and countries is the way to go.

My sister Cyrille and I chose Alchimie Forever as our brand name, many years ago in a delightful tea shop in the Old Town of Geneva. If I had a penny for every time our brand name was misspelled or mispronounced… What were we thinking?

Watch me tell the story here or keep reading.

As we started brainstorming, we identified four guiding principles:

  • We wanted a name that started with A (first letter of the alphabet, A like Ada, who knows…)
  • We wanted a link to Forever Institut, the medical spa our skin care brand was born in
  • We wanted a word in French (elegant, Swiss, international), and a word in English (universal, American, approachable)

We started listing French words starting with A… and suddenly my sister lit up and said “Alchimie!” And then we switched from drinking tea to celebrating with champagne!

It made sense for so many reasons. Alchimie (pronounced al-shee-mee) is the French word for alchemy. And alchemy is very much at the heart of our skin care philosophy.

  • Alchemy is the medieval science that became chemistry. And how can you formulate skin care products without chemistry, without labs, without clinical studies? There can be no skin care without science.
  • Alchemy is also part magic. The Alchemists were involved in such mystical pursuits as transforming lead into gold and finding the stone of eternal youth (both endeavors somehow related to beauty and youth). And skin care is indeed part magic…
  • The Alchemists were also among the first to identify plants as having healthful benefits. And potent botanicals are at the core of our formulations.

So yes, our brand name is hard to pronounce, and hard to spell – and now you know why: science, magic, and powerful botanicals!  

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.

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.

Ada wears purple in 2007

Purple Does Something Strange to Me

“Purple does something strange to me” said the German-American poet Charles Bukowski. Purple does something strange to me too.

Purple, whose aura began because of its rarity in nature and the expense of creating the dye, is often associated with spirituality, mystery, and magic – which is exactly why it became our brand color.

Alchimie (pronounced al-shee-mee) is the French word for Alchemy. And alchemy, is the medieval science that pre-dated chemistry. Part of alchemy was chemistry, part was magic. My sister Cyrille and I chose our brand name specifically because skin care is part science, and part mystery. (We also loved the fact that the alchemists were the first to look at plants as having healthful benefits). And we chose our brand color because of its association with magic.

The more I learn about purple, the more it continues to fascinate me. Apparently, I am not alone, as Ultra-Violet (a shade of purple) was chosen as the 2018 color of the year by Pantone.

Why is purple so special?

So next time you come across something purple, notice its magic. As one of the characters in Alice Walker’s The Color Purple said, “I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it.”

What Should Our Next Product Be?

The very day I announced that our newest product, our Advanced retinol serum with time-release technology was hitting the shelves, I was asked what our next new product would be. I felt like how I imagine a woman feels who has just given birth being and is asked when she is having another child…

Today, exactly two months post launch, I am ready to think about newness again. Here is what is on top of  my mind – I would love to hear your insights, requests, ideas, and input.

It if were entirely up to me, I would create a facial oil. Of all of the product categories that are represented by other brands in my skin care routine, oils are the most significant as I am always using two or three depending on the day. The Vintner’s Daughter Active Botanical Serum may be my favorite of all time (and certainly the most expensive product I have purchased in a long time!). I grew up using Clarins facial oils, which I still use today. I love the oils by Goldfadden MD, Indie Lee, Naturopathica (the carrot oil in particular). Can you tell I have a thing for oils?

Even better, a facial oil in capsules.

And, I love capsules. My Mom used oil capsules on her skin when I was little, and I remember seeing her open one delicately every evening – like it was a treasure of pure liquid gold for her face. She loved an obscure French brand that is no longer in business, and in trying to replicate that memory, I recently purchased the Advanced Ceramide Capsules by Elizabeth Arden. Maybe this purchase also has a little bit to do with my girl crush on Reese Witherspoon? I love opening up those little bubbles of deliciousness and love the feel on my skin, but don’t love the fragrance, or that they contain dimethicone. Could we create an even better product?

Another mask. After all, our Kantic Brightening moisture mask remains our hero product, top seller, and editor favorite, so it would be strategically sound to expand the “mask franchise.” Plus, we have had requests for a mask that is more focused on purifying and detoxifying. (I can tell you it won’t be a sheet mask however, I hate those). The pressure is on  – a second mask would have to be as perfect, as magical, as this first one…

A toner / mist / antioxidant spray. We don’t have a toner in our line because our cleansers are pH balanced to the skin. Having said that, there is something so refreshing about a mist, and it is one of the non Alchimie products I use. I love the Yonka Lotion PS mist that smells like lavender and often use it during travel…

At-home peel pads. Estheticians everywhere love our professional-only Brightening peel. I do too, and I must confess to sometimes using it on myself at home. So it is only natural to think about a “real” at-home version. Yet I have mixed feelings. Can we make better at-home peel pads than the Dr. Dennis Gross top-selling product? If we make them “safe” for consumer use, are they still effective? And if we make an at-home version, will consumers forego our professional peel treatment?  So many questions…

Mid-Year Reflections…

I am a planner, a list maker, a goal tracker. I start new years with a list of goals, some new, some left over from the previous year. And usually, sometime in the middle of the year – typically during my vacation in Greece, or around Labor Day weekend – I re look at my goals and set myself up for success for the fall.

This year, my mid-year reflection happened this past Saturday, August 18. I was in Magnano in Riviera (Italy), where my father is from, a place I have not visited in over 20 years. I was there with my husband, my three sisters and their partners and children, and with my father – per his request, to celebrate his 70th year of life, and have our annual Polla Family Council meeting. Such a family gathering, and such a birthday, were conducive to reflection.

So, I reflected.

The first few months of 2018 were challenging, for reasons I still had a hard time processing. I acknowledged this to myself and thanked myself for getting past it. I thought about a note I made for myself at the end 2017 about strengthening my tolerance for tension. I certainly can check that off my list.

I thought about what I am most proud of professionally, namely continuing to grow Alchimie (look for some new distribution this fall), launching our newest product (Advanced retinol serum), continuing to lead Neill Fulfillment.

I reflected on my relationships and the people closest to me. Am I contributing to their happiness, to their growth, to their personal and professional development? These goals are important for the rest of 2018 (and beyond).

I reaffirmed my commitment to my self-care and reminded myself how part of the reason I started feeling better late Spring was more running, more water, more sleep, more reading. I re-commit to ending the year healthy and strong, physically and emotionally.

I thought about some very specific goals I have yet to achieve: redoing our YouTube videos; working on my book idea; reaching 10,000 Instagram followers for Alchimie; reading the books remaining on my “Marie Kondo-ed book pile.”

Finally, I think about what I am looking forward to for the rest of the year. These next few days in Italy, maybe becoming a home owner, lots of productive work travel, my god-daughter Jade’s week-long visit, the holiday season.

So much to be grateful for, so much to do, so much to look forward to…