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.

All About Eyes

In the battle to continue to get carded when I order a drink even though my 39th birthday is fast approaching, the eye contour plays a key role. It is typically the first area that starts showing signs of skin aging, partially because the skin in the eye contour area is the thinnest (thus the most delicate), and partially because of the constant movements the eyes make (blinking, crinkling during laughs, and more). So good eye contour care is key.

Here is a breakdown of how I take care of this essential area.

Skincare: My go-to products are of course by Alchimie Forever. (And one of my favorite pieces of advice to give you young women is that if you are old enough to drink, you are old enough to use an eye cream!).

  • I apply our Tightening eye contour gel religiously every morning. The apple and mate extracts tighten and lift, and open my eyes. This is like a shot of espresso for my eye contour.
  • I apply our Rejuvenating eye balm in the evening, for hydration and anti-dark circle effects (thanks to the European blueberry extract and the Vitamin K found in alfalfa).

Both of these are applied gently (no need for more tugging in this area) with my ring finger (the weakest of our fingers).

Makeup: I am a makeup minimalist, but I can’t imagine leaving the house without mascara. My go to is Trish McEvoy High Volume Mascara (I love that it tubes off) and Dior DiorShow Iconic High Definition Lash Curler Mascara. That’s it.

Brows: The eye contour area will only look as good as your eyebrows. I am an eyebrow waxing fanatic, and have Erwin Gomez from Karma on my speed dial (he might be the man with who I have had the longest relationship – we started “seeing each other” in 2002). I also use the Blinc Eyebrow Mousse in Light Blonde daily.

And, because my eye doctor says I have dry eyes (indeed I am not a crier LOL!), I use Similasan Dry Eye Relief eye drops daily, and especially on the plane.

What do you do about your eyes?   

Get to know Victoria Levitan, Beauty Blogger and Owner of Viciloves

Meeting a DC-based beauty entrepreneur is always a pleasant surprise – we are a small

community. Meeting one who was born in Switzerland is even rarer, and even funner! So when

a common friend suggested I meet Victoria Levitan, owner of the beauty blog Viciloves, I could

not wait. We hit it off immediately over two Nespresso espressos (no American-sized coffees

for us!), sharing skin care tips, DC gossip, and laughs.

 

AP: What city were you born in? VL: Zurich, Switzerland.

 

AP: What city to do you live in? VL: I live in Alexandria, VA and love it because it has a European

flair and is very historical.

 

AP: What is your astrological sign? VL: Cancer.

 

AP: What is something about you most people don’t know? VL: I started my career in banking

and worked in the industry for three years.

 

AP: What is your #1 beauty secret? VL: Keeping my skin hydrated at all times.

 

AP: What are your special diet tips, if any? VL: Eat in moderation, no fast food/soda and drink

plenty of water. I also make sure to balance out my diet throughout the week if I know I have a

special event coming up where I may eat more than usual.

 

AP: What do you do for exercise? VL: I do Pilates 3 times a week and alternate between

running, cycling and Zumba for my cardio exercise.

 

AP: What is your favorite thing to eat and drink? VL: I love to eat and try out new cuisines so

this is very hard to answer! My favorite protein is duck so any time I see something with duck

on the menu, I will order it. I love Elderflower so a St. Germaine Cocktail is right up my alley.

 

AP: Botox or not? VL: Not for me but I don’t mind other people getting it done.

 

AP: What is your secret to work/life balance? VL: I’m still figuring it out but as long as your work

is something that you enjoy, it’s a lot easier to achieve that balance. Your work should blend in

with your personal life in a healthy way and not have a negative effect on it.

 

AP: How many miles do you fly per year on average? VL: Flying home to Europe at least once a

year plus any work trips and vacations round up to be at least 13’000 miles per year. This year

I’m going to Australia so it’s going to be a lot more than that.

 

AP: What are your three top tips for travel? VL: 1. When you pack, roll the clothes in your

suitcase because you’ll have so much more space. 2. Tell the hotel you’re staying at if it’s a

special trip, such as an anniversary or birthday trip and chances are you’ll get a complimentary

upgrade and / or a special amenity 3. Check out TripAdvisor for great restaurant and activity

recommendations. I use them every time I travel and their recommendations are spot on.

 

AP: What is your worst pet peeve? VL: People who chew gum while in a conversation with you.

 

AP: What professional beauty/fitness/wellness experts do you have on your speed dial? VL: I

don’t have any experts on speed dial, but I do turn to my Pilates instructor for any fitness-

related question.

 

AP: What time do you usually wake up in the morning, and how many hours of sleep do you

usually get? VL: I usually get up between 7-7:30am and get 7-8 hours of sleep.

 

AP: Who is your mentor? VL: Since I’ve started blogging I haven’t been able to find a mentor yet

but there are certainly entrepreneurial women that I look up to. Women who have transformed

their blog into a full fledged business and have done so by following their passion and never

giving up. I specifically admire Julia Engel’s blog from Gal Meets Glam because she’s my age and

has done an incredible job with staying true to herself while continuing to produce stunning

and engaging content for her readers.

 

AP: What is your skincare routine (products, facialists, etc)? VL: I LOVE skincare. I start out by

using a face serum (right now I’m using the Pigment Lightening Serum by Alchimie Forever),

then an eye cream (Origins GinZing Eye Cream in the morning and Kiehl’s Avocado Eye

Treatment at night) and then finish it up with the the Clinique Dramatically Different

Moisturizing Lotion. At night I like to treat my face with a hydrating and brightening mask

followed by a face oil, such as the Josie Maran Argan Oil or an overnight mask. My all time

favorite is the Origins Drink Up Intensive Overnight Mask.

 

AP: What do you do to relax? VL: I love spending time with my husband and our dog Daisy or

reading a good book with a cup of tea. I also enjoy being near the water and feeling the

calmness come over me.

 

AP: Quote to live by. VL: “Happiness depends upon ourselves” by Aristotle. That quote has

stuck with me for over 10 years and it still motivates me to this day.

 

AP: Words of advice for young women starting their careers today. VL: Don’t be in a job you

that don’t enjoy, it’s not worth the frustrations – trust me. Also don’t be afraid to speak up and

negotiate for yourself. No one else will do it for you.

 

AP: Describe your dream day. VL: A day that includes spending time with the people I love,

good food and conversations, and time with my dog Daisy is everything I could ask for.

 

AP: What makes you feel beautiful? VL: Knowing that I’m seizing every opportunity and that I’m

actively working towards becoming the best version of myself.

Catching up with Kayla Childress: Founder of Mindful Luxury

While I felt like I already knew her, it was the highlight of my week to actually meet Kayla Childress, Founder of Mindful Luxury. I felt like I knew her because of so many connections, through Neill Corporation and SpaRitual, among others. Finally, in person, we met at the Ballantyne Resort and caught up over coffee…   

AP: What city were you born in? KC: Atlanta, GA.

AP: What city to do you live in? KC: Charlotte, NC.

AP: What is your astrological sign? KC: Aries.

AP: What is something about you most people don’t know? KC: I don’t love flying, but have become used to it. I still get nervous every time I fly saying a little prayer before take off and landing.

AP: What is your #1 beauty secret? KC: Use professional products always!

AP: What are your special diet tips, if any? KC: Eating clean as much as possible. Home cooked meals!

AP: What do you do for exercise? KC: I train with a trainer 2-3 days a week, run and spin. Spin is my favorite. I have a spin bike at home so there are no excuses!

AP: What is your favorite thing to eat and drink? KC: I could live on sashimi sushi daily. I’m a wine fan!

AP: Botox or not? KC: I believe if you want it to look and feel better, do it! I have done it several times, but currently do not have it.

AP: What is your secret to work/life balance? KC: I am an early riser giving myself a few minutes in the morning to center myself as best as I can for the day.

AP: How many miles do you fly per year on average? KC: Approximately 50,000.

AP: What are your three top tips for travel? KC: Always travel with a light sweater/wrap, boarding pass on my phone and uber!

AP: What is your worst pet peeve? KC: Liars.

AP: What professional beauty/fitness/wellness experts do you have on your speed dial. KC: My trainer!

AP: What time do you usually wake up in the morning, and how many hours of sleep do you usually get? KC: Usually between 5-6am. I struggle with sleep. Some days I sleep 8 hours others 3 or 4.

AP: Who is your mentor? KC: I have so many! But the first that comes to mind is my grandma who recently passed away.

AP: What is your skincare routine (products, facialists, etc)? KC: I use Privai with my Foreo a few times a week. I need to incorporate facials more!

AP: What do you do to relax?  KC: Meditate and work out.

AP: Quote to live by. KC: So many! “You’ve got what it takes but it will take everything you’ve got” is my current favorite one.

AP: Words of advice for young women starting their careers today. KC: Stay laser focused. Give with passion. Love what you do down to your core. Never give up.

AP: Describe your dream day. KC: I would start this day by sleeping in the most comfy bed somewhere in the Caribbean listening to the waves crash in. I would eat the most delicious and fresh food all day while reading a great book, walking on the beach collecting shells and just being.  

AP: What makes you feel beautiful? KC: My daughter.

Preparation H for the eye contour? Dr. Polla doesn't recommend it!

Being in the skin care industry, I love to hear about people’s skin care routines, beauty tips and tricks, and product use and mis-use. One of the strange things that I have heard on more than one occasion has to do with the use of Preparation H in the eye contour area to alleviate puffiness. I heard this one too many times this past week, and had to research this. Does Preparation-H really help the eye contour area? Here is what I found out.

Of the Preparation H family of products, I have really ever heard of two being used for “anti-aging” and “beautifying” purposes in the eye contour area: Preparation H Cooling Gel, and Preparation H Ointment. Here are the ingredients:

PREPARATION H COOLING GEL

ACTIVE INGREDIENTS Phenylephrine HCl 0.25% Witch hazel 50.0%.

INACTIVE INGREDIENTS: Aloe barbadensis leaf juice, edetate disodium, hydroxyethyl cellulose, methylparaben, polysorbate 80, propylene glycol, propylparaben, purified water, sodium citrate, sulisobenzone, vitamin E acetate.

PREPARATION H OINTMENT

ACTIVE INGREDIENTS: Mineral oil 14% Petrolatum 74.9% Phenylephrine HCl 0.25%.

INACTIVE INGREDIENTS: Benzoic acid, butylated hydroxyanisole, corn oil, glycerin, lanolin, lanolin alcohols, methylparaben, mineral oil, paraffin, propylparaben, purified water, thymus vulgaris (thyme) flower/leaf oil, tocopherols excipient, white wax.

Dr. Polla’s comments?

When in doubt about anything skin related, I turn to my dad. What does he think of this? I asked him first about the Phenylephrine HCl ingredient. “It is an adrenergic derivative known for its decongestant and vaso-constricting properties.” Translation into lay speak, this means this ingredient may indeed reduce swelling or puffiness. However, my father cautions: “This is a temporary effect, and when it subsides you often see the opposite, i.e. vaso-dilation of the capillaries, which increases the look of redness” (think darker under-eye circles in the eye area).

The cooling gel contains witch-hazel, which is known to also have decongesting properties. This ingredient is actually often used in facial skin care formulations, so no concerns there.

The ointment contains ingredients that, well, make it an ointment: mineral oil, glycerin, paraffin, wax. “These ingredients are meant to sit on top of the skin,” my father explains, “rather than penetrate. They are thick, oily ingredients that can clog pores.” Imagine putting Vaseline on your face. Possibly beneficial if you suffer from serious dry patches, but not recommended on a daily basis.

Other than not being ideally formulated for the eye contour area, I finally ask, would using this product in this way potentially be nefarious? “There are a couple ingredients that may over time irritate the eyes,” replies my father, “including sulisobenzone in the cooling gel, and various alcohol-derived ingredients in the ointment.”

Conclusion: using Preparation H products in the eye contour area won’t kill you – but it is not “Dr. Polla-recommended.”

BeautyView: Neil Scibelli, Celebrity Makeup Artist

One of the things I enjoy the most about the beauty industry is the amazing people I have a chance to meet, and stay in touch with through the years. I met Neil (or Aniello, as I still like to call him) back in to 2008, when I needed help with the Alchimie counter at Henri Bendel’s. Over the years, we have stayed in touch (even though neither of us are at Bendel’s anymore), and I have come to think of him as my little brother. He has since become a celebrity makeup artist, and now I can say “I knew you when…” We caught up in NYC last week, enjoying some wine and guacamole at Sarabeth’s.

AP: What city were you born in? NS: Queens, NY.

AP: What city to do you live in? NS: I live in Manhattan, NY, down in Little Italy.

AP: What is your middle name? NS: Alessandro.

AP: What is your astrological sign? NS: Virgo.

AP: What is something about you most people don’t know? NS: Two things: I hate elevators (and always have). And I am a songwriter.

AP: What is your most prized possession? NS: My dignity. It slips away sometimes but I always find it again!

AP: If you could have dinner with the person of your choice, who would it be? NS: Oprah. Love her. Or Britney Spears.

AP: Describe your fashion style in three words maximum. NS: Classic, edgy, comfortable.

AP: Do you wear a watch? If yes, what model? NS: Yes. It is a gold Timex with a fun vintage-looking band.

AP: Diamonds or pearls? NS: Diamonds!

AP: What is your #1 beauty secret? NS: WATER! Concealer is also a beauty must-have. And confidence.

AP: What fragrance do you wear? NS: Molecule 01 by Escentic Molecules.

AP: Botox or not? NS: Not. Lots of serums instead.

AP: Hair color: natural or not? NS: Natural. Lots of leave-in products.

AP: What are your special diet tips, if any? NS: I eat low-carb. I remove the bun from everything. Protein and veggies is the answer.

AP: What do you do for exercise? NS: When I do it, I do 20 minutes of cardio at the gym and then I lift.

AP: What are three things that you always have in your fridge? NS: 1. Some kind of fruit, usually oranges. 2 White wine. 3. Coconut water.

AP: What is your cocktail of choice? NS: Tequila ginger with lime. Maybe with Cointreau.

AP: What is your secret to work/life balance? NS: Staying humble and being true to yourself. Also, cardio is like a therapist – totally necessary.

AP: How many miles do you fly per year on average? NS: Not as many as I would like…

AP: What are your three top tips for travel? NS: Love to travel, would love to travel more.

AP: 3 songs on your ipod right now. NS: My Kind of Love by Emeli Sande. The entire album by Sara Bareilles. And The Truth about Love album by Pink.

AP: What book are you reading right now? NS: I always read three at a time… All non-fiction, all have lessons to them. The latest is Creative Mind and Success by Earnest Holmes.

AP: Quote to live by. NS: I’m a big believer in The Secret and whenever I need to re-focus I always think: “where energy goes, energy flows.” It reminds me to put my thoughts in the right direction.

AP: What is your worst pet peeve? NS: Rudeness.

AP: What time do you usually wake up in the morning, and how many hours of sleep do you usually get? NS: As a makeup artist, that changes a lot. I have had 3:30 am call times for which I have slept 2 hours, and later mornings. On average, I try to get at least 6 hours.

AP: What is your favorite thing about the beauty industry? NS: That we all have an appreciation for beauty and art and want to further that vision.

AP: Least favorite thing. NS: Some of the egos…

AP: Who is your mentor? NS: Christina Zilber, the founder of Jouer. I have gotten to know her personally and it has been wonderful.

AP: Words of advice for young women starting their careers today. NS: Always follow your vision and find your passion.