Beauty: Silk Pillowcases, the Jen Atkin-Endorsed Luxury You Need Immediately...

It's no secret that lying down is a fresh blowout's sworn enemy. To combat this, many a girl has invested in Egyptian cotton sateen sheets & pillowcases to extend the life of her 'do. What you may not know is that those high thread count cotton sheets also leech hydration from your skin and your hair while you get your beauty sleep. Yes, the slumber you so crave is actually drying out your hair and leaving your pretty skin parched. The fix is easy and wonderful, but does come at a small price.

Silk pillowcases. I've been a fan of Slip for a while and have worn silk eye masks for about a decade now (don't judge, it's the Zsa Zsa Gabor in me) and can tell you they absolutely make a difference. Especially when paired together. Hair glides effortlessly over the surface of the pillowcase and skin unharmed during sleep. Effective immediately, famed celebrity hair guru Jen Atkin is brand ambassador for the brand Slip, maker of luxurious silk pillowcases and eye masks in a range of stunningly subtle colors. This brilliant pairing is genius, as it now thrusts this boutique brand to the forefront of our cultural obsession with silken tresses and age-defying skin care.

Hairstyles are not going to go back to complication... I’m teaching women to find something in their day to help with their hair health.

If you've not seen Slip mentioned here or in other places, it is a growing Australian line of silk goods created with proprietary fibers. Beauty editors everywhere have fallen for their high quality and soft sorbet-like color range (think blushy pink and creamy vanilla) that fits in with anyone's decor.

Why Atkin? She's the go-to tress tamer du jour for the Kardashians, Jessica Alba and many other Hollywood stars, Her debut hair care line OUAI has won acclaim from customers and critics alike.

According to the hair expert herself...

What I’ve noticed the most is that women want to take care of themselves and are focused on overall health.
— Jen Atkin

Bottom line, if Jen Atkin tells us to stop sleeping on cotton once and for all, it's time to listen and obey. Why lovingly care for skin and hair by day and cause (avoidable and unnecessary) damage by night? Here's what I'm loving form Slip right now...

SHOP MY SLIP & OUAI FAVORITES

Why black, you ask? Simple: you'll never accidentally put it in the laundry with your other linens. Pink for the same reason. I feel the difference in color will prolong the life of your investment as you will see the pillowcase (or mask) as unique and special. They also come in creamy white, caramel and charcoal.

I love the idea of a black mask for optimal light blocking why trying to sleep in and pink for the pillowcase for the reasons stated above. It's pretty, makes its presence known and you'll never accidentally leave it behind at the hotel while on vacation.

Which colors would you choose? Shop Net-a-Porter, Sephora, Bloomingdales, Nordstrom & Anthropologie and say bye bye to creased skin and bed head for good an wake up to your gorgeous, silky haired self.

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Get Gorgeous in Dallas: An Interview With Dr. Stephanie Teotia

Get Gorgeous in Dallas

Hello, friends! As promised, I have a wonderful new interview with Dr. Teotia. So many of you are passionate about skin care, treatments and looking your best. I tapped Dallas’s finest skin care guru (who is a total knockout herself) to tell us what’s changing in her industry and what’s hot with her clients. Like any great doctor, she also dishes some solid medical wisdom as well.

I hope you enjoy this follow up to our previous conversation…

Hello, Dr. Teotia! We met three years ago to talk about skin-saving strategies and the fascinating world of in-office procedures. How have things changed for your medical practice since then? 

I continue to offer both cosmetic and reconstructive surgical procedures. However, the cosmetic side of the practice has really taken off. The focus is on facial rejuvenation and breast procedures.

I’ve noticed incredible advancements in beauty treatments in such a short period of time. What new treatments or procedures are you really excited about right now? What are your clients loving?

Patients are thrilled about the Mini Necklift and Mini Facelift procedures. Most of my patients have busy lives and cannot have extended downtime. They love these surgical procedures, because they offer beautiful, natural and rejuvenated results. These two procedures are performed in my office under local anesthesia as opposed to general anesthesia (being "put to sleep"). In addition, they are almost half the cost of a full neck and facelift, and the recovery time is only one week. 

In your opinion, how has the perception of injectables changed over the past few years? How has the “selfie” culture impacted your clientele?

The consistent increase in popularity of injectables over the past several years is remarkable! The longer these products are on the market and proven to be safe, the more comfortable patients become with facial injections.  

What treatments are they seeking? 

Our younger generation of patients typically inquire about nonsurgical rejuvenation and correction techniques. I offer a variety of nonsurgical procedures including facial fillers (Juvederm, Restylane, etc), Botox, Sculptra, chemical peels, Cellfina (cellulite treatment) and Ultherapy for skin tightening. 

As a patient, you need to do your research.
— Dr. Stephanie Teotia

I hear people are asking less to look like this celebrity or that one. And more like their own FaceTuned or filtered selves. Has this been true for your clientele and how do you feel about that shift? 

Fortunately, it has been quite awhile since a patient requested to look like a celebrity! Thankfully, that request does not happen very often. I’m very upfront with my patients regarding the expected outcome. My goal is to enhance their appearance and provide correction. Committing to a celebrity look-alike result or a "filtered" appearance is unrealistic. My goal is to make my patient a refreshed version of him or herself.

The proliferation of medispas on virtually every corner cannot be ignored. You are a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon. I certainly know why I trust you, and I recognize your innate and professionally honed gifts. But what can you tell my fellow readers who are also just seeking a little Botox or lip plumping? Why is it important to see a Board Certified physician for these treatments? 

The state of Texas allows non-physicians to inject patients. Unfortunately, these injectors may not be well trained or supervised. It may be tempting to use a Groupon at a medical spa…until you end up with a poor result. There are also complications that are much more serious than an overfilled lip. There are reports of patients who have experienced blindness and tissue loss from soft filler injections into blood vessels.

I cannot overstate the importance of knowing facial anatomy. Surgical procedures should always be performed by a surgeon. Board Certification matters.
— Dr. Stephanie Teotia

I cannot overstate the importance of knowing facial anatomy. Surgical procedures should always be performed by a surgeon. Board Certification matters. A Board Certified Cosmetic Surgeon is not the same as a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon. A Cosmetic Surgeon is trained in an area other than plastic surgery (OB/GYN, ED, Pediatrics, etc). A plastic surgeon has a minimum of six years of surgical training in the field. As a patient, you need to do your research.

You mentioned a few innovative in-office treatments you provide for some of your surgical clients. These sound game-changing for ladies (or men!) seeking procedures with reduced down-time. Would you mind sharing more details with readers? Who is the ideal client for this type of procedure?

This would be the Mini Facelift and Mini Necklift that I discussed earlier. The ideal client has mild to moderate skin laxity. The patient is in good health, a non smoker and has realistic expectations. I also perform a Mini Brachioplasty (arm lift) for upper arm skin laxity. This procedure is also performed in the clinic. Unlike a traditional brachioplasty, the scar is well hidden in the axilla (arm pit). 

Skincare: at my last visit you introduced me to the new skincare line available at your office. SkinBetter. I can hardly explain how much I love this collection. The facial cleanser alone is a miracle product for my often confused combination skin. Why do you love this line? What makes it different?

I’ve had several skincare lines over the years. I have liked specific products, but not an entire line. Then I found SkinBetter. I’m very results driven and SkinBetter delivers. Our most popular product is InterFuse Lines. This product reduces the appearance of wrinkles through the topical application of Hyaluronic Acid. The majority of the facial soft tissue fillers that I use in my practice are made of Hyaluronic Acid. Many of my injection patients begin this product to supplement and prolong the injection results. This is a medical grade skincare line that can only be purchased through a physician. {Editor’s note: I’ll be writing a separate post about this line!. I’m tough to please or persuade when it comes to skin care, but I LOVE this line. }

Dr. Stephanie Teotia

Dr. Stephanie Teotia

Hot tip to readers:

Follow her on Facebook for her monthly specials on treatments.

Dr. Stephanie Teotia MD
4231 Cedar Springs Road | Dallas, TX 75219
(214) 823-9652
drstephanieteotia.com

From the Window Seat: My On-the-Go Luxuries...

I had the pleasure of being featured in the spring/summer issue of Ligné Magazine showcasing all manner of jet set chic features and luxurious travel stories. They asked me to share the products I can't live without when I head out on a trip, a topic I'm clearly passionate about (8 years of blog posts can confirm this!) and hold many tips I'm eager to share.  

Below are what I shared with the lifestyle magazine as my jet set all-stars. The reality is that most of these products are winners at home, too. I hope you'll discover a few gems to add to your private arsenal for journeys far and wide. After all, every day in itself is an adventure and an opportunity to experience new things. 

With that... enjoy my list of personal luxuries...

IN-FLIGHT LUXURIES

The Chic Multiwheel Cabin Bag
When it comes to a carryon, it’s all about the wheels and protecting those precious goods inside. I’m loving the hardbody of this sleek bag. Best part? It’s TSA approved and navigates those airport turnstiles like a dream. Bonus: your beauty goods & fabulous shoes won’t lose their precious shape inside. Options abound for small in-flight workhorses. Hard-bodied Victorinox Swiss Army luggage is hard to beat (and easy to spy on the carousel, should you decide to check it), as is an ever-reliable black Tumi. But my heart will always be with a classic Vuitton carryon, as it speaks to the heritage of travel itself. 

The Universally Flattering Black Jumpsuit
Some things you can just count on. Death. Taxes. My love of packing an all-black travel wardrobe. Give me a fabulous jumpsuit and I’m a happy girl. Dress it up, play it down. You can’t go wrong with these wardrobe workhorses. My favorites are sleeveless and black. This one is absolutely perfect. Pro tip: this Norma Kamali version is perfect for a long day of wrinkle-free travel but looks dinner-ready when paired with jewelry and heels. The Swiss Army knife of your wardrobe.

The Chic Ballet Flat
Nothing makes you appreciate a good flat like travel. I love the easy on / easy off quality of a ballet flat but they usually lack any arch support. These Cole Haans are not only comfortable, they are light as a feather and allow your feet to breathe. Yes, this high heel diva has learned to love (and enjoy) a hard working flat for long travel days and exploring the city on foot. 

Saint Laurent Monogram Crossbody Tassel Bag
I’m a firm believer in a cross-body bag that can go from day to night and tarmac to rooftop. This Saint Laurent bag does it all - not to mention it slides neatly into a larger tote during the flight. 

Chloe “Marcie” Sunglasses
Never underestimate the power of oversized sunglasses. They disguise tired eyes (hello, jet lag!) and add instant polish and intrigue to your look - day or night. My current faves the lightweight acetate frames with vintage-styling & glam gold hardware. Very Rachel Zoe.  Shop them here.

iPhone 6
There is no better travel luxury than my beloved iPhone 6. All the technology a girl could hope for right at my fingertips. From instagramming my coffee moments to keeping tabs on clients to capturing precious family moments on video, the ultimate travel accessory rests in the palm of my hand. How did we ever survive before? I would never go anywhere without this lovely golden modern miracle! 

PRE & POST-TAKEOFF ESSENTIALS

Eric Javitz Squishee Sun Cap
If I’m going anywhere sunny, a hat is a must. I love that this one can be tossed in a bag and still retain its shape perfectly. Better yet? This one allows for a ponytail in the back. Yes, long-haired girls can rejoice and those of you with short & chic 'do's can enjoy the stylish silhouette! You have to love a chic hat that keeps the harsh sun at bay and helps you have fab hair. Winner!

Clarins Broad-Spectrum UV Plus 
Speaking of sunshine… nothing will ever replace Clarins UV Plus in my cosmetic pouch. This tiny bottle lasts forever and is my saving grace for the delicate skin of my face, décolletage & hands. I can’t say enough great things about it and would never board a plane (or leave my house) without it. This is my main squeeze when it comes to sun protection and I basically hoard it for fear they'll discontinue it. Fortunately the small bottle is TSA-friendly (read: small enough to carry on) and makes for invisible, easy application. If you've been looking for "the one" this is it!

Clarins Sun Care Milk SPF 50+
Somewhere between the best moisturizer ever and the most lightweight body SPF ever, this dreamy bottle appears. I discovered it last summer and am now a dedicated fan. A few easy sprays by the pool and I’m ready to catch up on my reading without fear of too much sun. Bonus: it leaves skin as smooth as silk and beautifully hydrated. Don't be tempted to use it on your face - the formula is completely different from the facial formulation. This falls squarely into the "great from the neck down" category. 

The Glam Lightweight Cashmere Scarf
Whether it’s a weekend getaway or a month long journey, I always pack scarves. Right now I’m loving Diane’s leopard version. It’s featherlight and goes with anything. Toss around your neck pre-flight for a pop of pattern and a way to keep that cold cabin air at bay. During the trip its uses will be nearly limitless. Not to mention they weigh almost nothing and can be tossed in your tote the moment you want to take it off. For me, these gauzy creations are the absolutely perfect travel accessory. DVF makes high quality versions that are truly timeless and will make you look and feel like a million bucks in any city. 

The Large Black Nylon Tote
Travel bags must be roomy and incredibly lightweight. I prefer nylon totes that can take the abuse they will inevitably face on a trip. Let's face it, air travel and car rides aren't good for our precious bags. I’m a big fan of Longchamp’s understated appeal and nearly bulletproof construction. This one has a zip top (for added security) and is roomy enough to hold my magazines, iPad, water bottles and anything else I’d love to keep on hand. 

Omorovicza Plumping Cream
My facialist and the gugus at the brand's counter call this “Cinderella cream” for good reason. One simple treatment and your face looks dewy, plump and youthful, like a fairy tale. Boom! Instant Plumping Cream is my go-to special occasion moisturizer for combating the dry skin and unsightly dehydration that always accompanies air travel. Frankly, I love this at home as well. It's an investment, but well worth its myriad benefits.

A Powerhouse Beauty Elixir Mist
Now that I’ve discovered the magic of beauty mists, there’s no turning back. These dew-inducing, skin-plumping miracle workers refresh your face and boost your mood in mere seconds. The best of the bunch are filled with anti-aging powerhouses that work hard to fight free radicals and turn back the clock. Another perk? A light fragrance is mood elevating and tells your senses "you've arrived" once it's wheels down in your destination of choice. This version from Caudalie is tiny enough to toss in your tote for the flight. Also try Omorovicza's Queen of Hungary Mist - a spectacular version of the mist category that is to be used in conjunction with their Instant Plumping Cream mentioned above. A serious one-two punch for revitalizing your face. 

Molton Brown Pink Pepperpod Body Scrub
Body scrubs are a favorite beauty product for me at home. When traveling I like to kick it up a notch with a more invigorating variety of body exfoliator. Molton Brown’s Pink Pepperpod scrub turbo charges my showers with its exotic fragrance and body-tingling (hello, ginger!) qualities. This beauty staple never fails to get me in a vacation state of mind. 

Cris Notti Silk Eye Masks
Seriously, I live for these lovely little creations. I use a silk eye mask every night at home and on trips I always pack more than one because (I’ve learned this the hard way) losing one along the way means losing precious sleep. These soft silk masks are absolutely perfect for mid-flight catnaps but more importantly, they guarantee you’ll be able to sleep in long after the sun peeks through the sheers at the hotel. 

Illuminage Skin Rejuvenating Pillow
In lieu of taking my own pillow while trailing, I opt instead for a high-tech (and silky soft) pillowcase. This one is constructed from copper-oxide rich fibers and is not only easier on your lovely visage,it actually combats the signs of aging. Those are all qualities I’m going to say “yes, please” to, especially after a long flight. Say "nighty night" to creases, lines and other would-be beauty enemies. 

Don't miss the rest of the superb issue of Ligné Magazine which features many familiar faces and exciting places. I look forward to receiving the next issue to discover which luxe topic they tackle next. Have a great day, everyone! Life life fabulously.  

Beauty: Getting Fresh-Faced & Fabulous...

I'm one of those late night readers that saves every article on flawless French girl skin and dermatologist recommended products. I research brands and ingredients as though my life depended upon it. You can bet that before my fingers hit "place order" on a new product I have done ample investigation, read dozens of reviews and likely requested a sample at the nearest beauty counter. While I'm fiercely loyal to a few products, your skin care needs do evolve and new technologies do emerge.

Lately my complexion has been displaying that end-of-season "blah" look and could use a little zhuzh to revive its vitality. Nothing crazy, just a little AHA action to gently slough off those dull summer cells without harsh scrubbing and a high quality multi-tasking moisturizer to bring vibrancy back to lackluster skin. Add in a hydrating booster and a few other tried and true tricks and this so-so skin should be back on track and ready to more radiantly exude that no-makeup necessary Lily Aldridge glow.

Here's what I'm absolutely loving right now to give my skin a much needed seasonal boost...

1. CHANEL Le Weekend // 2. Vinoperfect Radiance Serum // 4. PTR Retinol Fusion PM Serum // 5. Omorovicza Rejuvenating Night Cream

Beauty: My Blissful Nightly Hungarian Skin Care Ritual...

As many of you know I am a huge Omorovicza fan, always keeping a few products in my stable. Yet as often happens, we periodically drift off to a new counter at the department store or begin acquiring various potions and promising cures from our dermatologist. But remember I'm a results-oriented girl and am very selective about what products occupy my vanity. After considerable trial and error I'm once again committed to the healing properties (yes, healing) of those legendary thermal waters in Budapest and the skin care line that celebrates them. Frankly, they heal the skin and deliver such beautiful results they deserve to be the core of my skin care repertoire. 

OMOROVICZA: THE BRAND HISTORY

Omorovicza's brand history is as beautiful as the soft, clear skin it produces on legions of loyal customers. A rare professional opportunity to move overseas led the American-born co-founder to discover an all-natural cure for her complexion woes and (perhaps more importantly) an introduction to her now husband and co-founder Steven von Heinrich Omorovicza. Like many of us, Margaret struggled to find the remedy for blemishes and other skin issues. She soon discovered that the simple cultural ritual of spending time in the local baths (open air spas) was transforming her skin into something marvelous. That chance introduction to Steven blossomed. In addition to discovering their love for one another, they developed a shared passion for the unique health benefits provided by the mineral rich spring waters of Budapest. Working as a team, they developed innovative technologies to deliver the miraculous powers of the thermal waters from his family's spa to the world. A game-changing brand and a beautiful marriage were born.  

MINERAL-RICH WATER: THE SOURCE

Omorovicza products are all made without parabens, without chemicals and (save for precious retinol) the ingredients are completely natural. What is it about the water in this international city? The Earth's crust in Budapest is thinner than anywhere else in the world, making the waters indulgently rich in minerals. Richer than any other spot on the planet. Heat from the earth's core rises up, pushing precious life-giving elements to the surface. Over centuries travelers have come from far and wide to dip their bodies in the heated baths that offer ease and healing to the body and mind. Minerals are essential to your health and your skin's radiance, so short of hopping on a jet to Budapest yourself, these little bottled wonders are the next best thing to the fountain of youth. 

Why does the water matter? Because about 70% or more of the contents of every elixir, serum & miracle moisturizer sold by every brand is water. it's the first ingredient on every ingredient list. It makes sense then that different water would yield different results. This was the change Margaret saw naturally in her skin when she moved to Budapest. This is the change I've begun to see in my own skin. 

MY NIGHTLY RITUAL

I begin each nightly ritual with clean skin, and for me that means mild exfoliation. I feel it's wasteful to apply high quality products to clogged pores and unprepared skin. So my Refining Skin Polisher is the product of choice to gently buff away the day and encourage cell turnover. Buh-bye lackluster complexion! I use very little (here's a previous mention of it) and have been using the same generously sized tube for many months. It will last and serves as a mask as well when you need an extra dose of "pretty" in your routine. 

My initial favorite from the collection (several years ago) was the award-winning Instant Plumping Mask. Forget fillers, this little jar of wonders will leave your skin hydrated and plumped to perfection without a needle in sight. It works by way of ushering water into thirsty little hyaluronic acid spheres that swell and add volume to the skin. It's a thing of wonder when used before an event or as an overnight treatment, but over time it serves to add more bounce to the skin and deliver visible lift. I love using it on my upper cheekbones and under the eyes. I use it every other night to keep things looking fresh. After application spray generous amounts of the Queen of Hungary mist to soak the mask and give it fluid to absorb. Sit back and await as your skin rejoices & plumps in just the right places. 

On alternate nights I really go to work with a one-two punch of encapsulated retinol. The Gold Night Drops serum is non-irritating and goes to work fighting those pesky fine lines and early signs of aging. You'll never, ever worry about waking up with tender pink skin, as this luxurious serum is so gentle. The second weapon of choice is the Rejuvenating Night Cream. Oh, how I love this little jar! The cream is silky and soft and contains (again) encapsulated retinol to ramp up your anti-aging arsenal. Used lightly on face and neck I love the way this emollient formula leaves my skin feeling pampered. The best part? Waking up to perky skin that enjoyed the benefits of jojoba, antioxidants, anti-inflammatory ingredients and that wondrous thermal water as a base.

WHAT'S IN THE MIX

USEFUL TIPS & TRICKS 

I've learned to only use the Instant Plumping Mask on my cheekbones, cheek pads and under the eyes. It's where I want volume and I see no reason to place it on my forehead, nose or upper lids. I have experimented with applications on the lips but can't determine if I'm seeing any volume change there or not. But for the cheek area it is sheer bliss. Experiment with it as you see fit and get to know the contours of your face. Adding water is a MUST to see results. The cream alone needs added moisture to work effectively. I like their Queen of Hungary mist for purely personal reasons, but have consistently had excellent results with pure water. In fact, perhaps because I'm more free wheeling with the tap water I see greater results. The Queen of Hungary mist is a FABULOUS product on its own for setting makeup or giving yourself a lovely pick me up during the day. It smells fantastic and is packed with good for you ingredients like orange blossom, rose, sage and apple pectin alongside (you guessed it) rich minerals. 

The Gold Night Drops come with an innovative dropper system making it pretty much impossible to waste this precious fluid. Due to cost I use it sparingly and prefer to mix mine with my fingertips with the Rejuvenating Night Cream. I find that just a bit of both go a long way and combined make a decadent treat for my skin overnight. Retinol with no redness or flaking? I'm in! 

MY BEAUTIFUL RESULTS

Now that I've recommitted I am absolutely seeing more radiant, more healthy skin. My fine lines are reduced, there are no dry skin patches, my skin feels plump and healthy. Healthy being the operative word. I am convinced I look better today than I did five years ago - and that's saying something with two small children in the house! 

DISCOVERY SETS & SPECIAL BUNDLES

Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Selfridges, Harrods, Sephora, Cult Beauty, MankindOmorovicza.com and many others all carry the line. Look for value sets and bundled products as they typically offer huge savings on full-size products. There are also smaller introductory sets smartly priced which allow you to discover which products are your must haves. Ladies in the Plano area should definitely swing by Willow Bend's Neiman Marcus and ask for the lovely Maria at the Omorovicza counter. I credit her with introducing me to the line and a new way of thinking about skin care. She'll steer you towards the right products for your unique needs and perhaps have a small sachet sample on hand to let you experience Omorovicza at home. You just might just find your Holy Grail in a bottle as I have done. 

Feel free to ask questions, ladies! I always love dishing on the topic of beauty and skin care, so don't be shy with questions or inquiries about how I use them. xoxo 

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Beauty: Quenching My Skin's Thirst with Dolce & Gabbana's Aurealux Collection...

Last summer I discovered the incredibly indulgent Aurealux sheet mask from Dolce & Gabbana. Drenched in a magical fluid infused with their exclusive Gold Flavo-silk Tricomplex™ (gold silk sericin, Italian olive oil extract and Vitamin B3 are key components listed) that simple introduction opened my eyes to the beauty of hydrated skin. While I wouldn't call my skin dry, my combination complexion is always happier when I pamper it with the right serums and penetrating moisturizers. 

A few months back as I was running low on serums and moisturizers of another brand, I bit the bullet and decided it was time to commit to the entire Aurealux line. From the essence to the eye gel, I stopped using all other products for a few weeks as I dove deep into the Dolce program. The result? Very happy skin and a few irreplaceable products I can't imagine living without. 

FIRST: THE GOLDEN GOODS

 
 

Aurealux Cream // Aurealux Essence // Aurealux Sheet Mask // Aurealux Serum // Aurealux Eye Gel

NEXT: THE FEEDBACK

If you've been looking for a luxurious skincare line, this one will not disappoint. From the packaging itself (think: gold foil lined boxes and perfectly designed bottles and jars), the Dolce & Gabbana skincare experience is extremely upscale. But you're smarter than that and want to know all about those products, so let me dive in and share. 

PRODUCTS: ONE BY ONE

I'm not sure how I survived without an essence, and now that I've been completely spoiled by the skin quenching qualities of the Aurealux Essence I'll never want to skip this step. The best way to describe it is thick water. It glides over clean skin like silk and preps it for whatever you follow it with. This single product brings a smile to my face every day as I thoroughly enjoy the ritual of putting it on my skin. The fluid seems to be the exact same one the wondrous Aurealux Sheet Mask is soaked in, so having access to this daily is a treat to my skin. What does it do? Hydrate, smooth and refine. I am IN LOVE with this magical fluid and will not be without it again. Miracle! 

The essence is followed by the luxurious and creamy Aurealux Serum. I definitely ran out of this too soon, a sign that I loved it. Thicker than the essence, this lightweight product is loaded with plumping Hyaluronic Acid, my favorite skin care additive. Those of you with oily complexions might find the serum to be all you need for daily hydration, but I needed to follow up with the all-star Aurealux Cream. This was the single product I was most excited to try and it did not disappoint! Loaded with their Gold Flavo-silk Tricomplex™ (a constant in the line), this thick gel-cream seems apt to use any season of the year. It left my combo skin dewy in all the right places and never the slightest bit oily. I absolutely loved this for both day and night, but opted to save it for daytime in order to make the product last longer. I loved it, and highly recommend it to those of you with combo skin. Your pores will drink it in and visibly thank you. 

Last but not least, the Aurealux Eye Gel. This one seemed a bit off-putting at first as its gel formula was unusual for me. I decided to use the La Mer emulsifying method to see if the friction and heat of my fingertips could liquify it. Bingo! This transformed the springy gel into a decadent serum-like fluid read to soak into my skin. I liked it so much I experimented with it in a variety of ways. As an eye cream it kept lines and creases at bay. As an overall serum it was hydrating and gave me an enviable glow. I even found success patting it onto the cheekbones & eye area after makeup application as a strobing/setting product. Again, it knew no bounds. I found the gel in this little jar to be a multi-tasker in my arsenal ready for action at a moment's notice. 

MY TAKEAWAY

For a brand known for fashion and leading-edge cosmetics I was truly surprised by the quality of the products and the visible results they produced. My skin was moisturized, happy and calm using every one of these beautiful products. The Aurealux CreamAurealux Essence & Aurealux Sheet Mask are my clear favorites but the entire collection is strong and fabulous. My advice? Give one of these sampler sets a try to dip your toes into the golden pool and see the healthy skin results for yourself. Your pretty face will be healthier, plumper, softer and happier - and what more could a girl dream of? 

Skin Discovery Set // Skin Luxury Set

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Beauty: Sulwhasoo, My First Foray Into the World of Korean Skin Care...

{All images in this post are property of & taken by yours truly, Franki Durbin}

{All images in this post are property of & taken by yours truly, Franki Durbin}

The widespread popularity of Korean beauty has been a lovely thing to observe. The prized features and key elements are all in line with my own approach to skin care. Dewy, bright, moist, plump skin and an obsession with sun protection. This is what I seek in my own skin care and this is precisely what almost every K-beauty product promises. While there are many, many choices on the market, Amore Pacific's Sulwhasoo has risen to the top of my radar for its ready availability and growing fan base, 

Two weeks ago I dove in head first via their medicinal herb driven brightening sheet masks, ultra-hydrating serum and clarifying mask. Oh, what a treat my skin has received! Smooth, cleansed, radiant skin that happily absorbs my new moisturizer (more on that in an upcoming post) and smiles at me when I look in the mirror. 

Let's chat about these different products one by one. First, let's talk about the Clarifying Mask. Think: honey. The color, texture and consistency remind me of the deepest, darkest honey. I have been using it pre-shower which allows me to take it off easily. Note that this product is meant to be peeled off. Knowing this you'll want to begin peeling right away, before the steam works its normal magic. I like it pre-shower so I can let the steam penetrate my pores after removal of the mask. The results: dull skin, be gone! Much like mud masks, this worked to clarify my skin and clean my pores - all without stripping it of hydration (which most mud masks do). You know how normally a mask leaves your skin tight and dry? Not this one. I am convinced it plumps and moistens. LOVELY product. Don't let the brown sticky texture throw you off. Your skin will appreciate the results. 

Post-shower I do one of two things: use the 'Hydro-Aid' Moisturizing Lifting Serum (a miracle in a bottle) or lie down for a few minutes with a 'Snowise EX' Brightening Mask on. Let's talk about the sheet mask first. Rather than the thick tissue style masks to which I've become accustomed, Sulwhasoo uses a mesh fabric. Yes, you still look like a mummy come back from the dead, with eye, nose & mouth holes, but the fabric of this mask is different. Each side of the mesh features a peelable film, allowing a multi-phase use. Those meshy quality of the mesh seems to work to retain the moisture of the mask for a longer period of time.

I like to lie on my back until the mask has dried a bit then remove the outer film from the front of the mask. In about 25 minutes your skin will have absorbed most of the fluid. The results? PLUMP! Fermented ginsing and a cocktail of other medicinal herbs work to stimulate collagen and "brighten" the skin. I don't have specific spots to lighten, but I can say with certainty that my skin was more dewy and clearer on the days I used this sheet mask. Less "muddled" and more evenly toned. I don't know about you, but I place a high value on even skin tone once I see it - and with this I definitely saw pretty results. This simple (and relaxing!) mask seemed to calm any redness and hydrate my combination skin. My favorite part? After use I apply the rest of the serum from the pouch onto my face and décolletage to extend the luxurious experience and maximize the benefits. 

Next up, my new favorite serum. The 'Hydro-Aid' Moisturizing Lifting Serum had me at hello. With a pump top (thank you, Jesus) I fell for it with my first use. The scent, the consistency, the dewy results - this is a treat to use. Olive oil, peony extract, honeysuckle, licorice and dozens of other natural botanicals plus my fave ingredient... hyaluronic acid combine to make this silky serum work miracles to plump and renew the skin. LOVE, love, love this silky miracle liquid. If you're serious about your hydration I would definitely consider adding this to your repertoire. That Korean obsession with adding "bounce" back to the cheeks must have inspired this amazing fluid. It is divine. And the pump top allows perfect and even dispensing every single time. Big fan.  

What I learned from this experience.

  1. Slow down & take your time. I've used masks before fairly frequently, but this one took longer to dry down. This was a pleasant exercise in patience and allowed my mind to drift and my body to relax. Think of this as an at-home spa experience. 
  2. Be open to new things: The honey-like clarifying mask & mesh-style brightening face mask were both different in texture and appearance than other products I've used, but the results spoke for themselves. Experimenting is a valuable tool and these are two new powerhouses in my beauty arsenal. 
  3. Eastern beauty products & techniques work: Korean medicinal herbs, honeysuckle extract, fermented ginseng, the ingredients on these products differed from any lists I'd examined before. And I liked it. My skin loved it. I want more of this old-school east-meets-west beauty action in my life. 
  4. Luxury comes in many forms: I truly enjoy the application of the serum and the "feel" of the brightening mask fluid. It is as if my skin is literally drinking in the minerals and nutrients. The ritual of application is not lost on me, and with each use I develop a greater appreciation of the legendary multi-step Korean skin care application process. Those girls are really on to something. 

This will not be my last deep dive into the world of K-beauty. In fact, I consider this just a tiny little dip in the pool of skin care potential. I can't wait to share more with you! Available at Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman

Beauty: Micellar Water, The Simple Secret to Fresh-Faced French Complexions...

It's pretty clear from experiences traveling and reading the never ending gamut of articles touting the "secrets" to French beauty that the French approach to beauty is not similar to our personal "war" on beauty. Our Parisian counterparts appear to keep stress low and beauty routines simple (the polar opposite of the 12, or perhaps 15, step Korean beauty rituals). This is not to say that they don't put in effort, but they are not running to the dermatologist's office for this exotic treatment or that new injection. Yet French women possess enviable skin that exudes youth, health and radiance. How, pray tell, do they do it? 

Some attribute this to a key component we've been missing from our skin care process. Micellar water. Everyone from Vogue to Huffington Post has written about this liquid Holy Grail. A simple liquid that removed makeup, clears away impurities and deposits nutrients on the skin while toning? It sounds absolutely dreamy. So why aren't we using it?  Perhaps we are non-believers in its powers. Perhaps our "work harder" mentality prevents us from a more gentle, mineral-rich approach to skin care. But perhaps... just perhaps, we're doing it all wrong and our scarf-wearing, ballet-flat bearing sisters have a secret we need to be exploring.

Used à la parisienne, micellar water REPLACES the use of any tap water. The thinking behind this approach is that water from the faucet is harsh and taxes skin with buildup and additives that advance the aging process. Rather than scrub-a-dub-dub twice daily over your basin, what about a softer, gentler approach? What if you swabbed a cotton pad loaded with this simple (and largely inexpensive) liquid and washed away the cares of the day while balancing, toning and nourishing skin? What if? 

According to a Vogue article:

“It’s the modern soap,” explains New York City facialist (and Paris export) Isabelle Bellis, who regularly uses it in her bespoke treatments. Acting like a multitasking solution, most formulas don’t require additional rinsing with water, which can further strip sensitive skin in the colder months. Bellis, however, uses it almost like a toner, swiping a soaked cotton ball over the skin after cleansing, then following it with a gentle mist of thermal water, which contains more nourishing minerals and fewer chemicals than what comes from the tap.

The beloved product, which has become increasingly available stateside in recent years, has been spotted in the kits of backstage makeup artists and the bathrooms of models worldwide, with Bioderma’s Sensibio H20 and Orlane’s brightening, antioxidant-rich formula topping the must-have list. But micellar water’s magic properties don’t stop there. Paris-based makeup artist Violette also relies on it to master a sleek cat-eye. “To perfect the line, I use it on a Q-tip and clean up the edges,” she says. “No need to rinse—it’s superfast and efficient.” Enough said. Here are the nine formulas worth considering for your own medicine cabinet.

Am I ready to give it a go? Yes. yes, I am. By and large the brand mentioned most by beauty editors (especially those in Europe) is Embryolisse, boasting a loving and gentle product line to boot. I'm reading reviews on it as well as the others listed here below. I'm loving the idea of a nutrient-dense fluid to smooth over skin that can somehow, someway serve as a cleanser. Is it possible? Parisians (and skin pros) confirm it is. And I can't wait to add this luxurious, less aggressive step to my daily beauty ritual. 

How about you? Are you already hip to this marvelous method? I'd love to hear from you! 

MIRACULOUS MICELLAR WATER


Beauty: The Life-Changing Mineral Sunscreens You've Been Seeking...

You situation may be different, but there's just not a chance I'll be able to completely dodge getting sun this summer. It's Texas. It's sunny. It's hot. And try as we might to do most of our outdoor activities in the shade or early mornings/late afternoons, it is inevitable that Mr. Sun will find a way to shine his light my way. And that's a good thing, since catching those rays buoys your mood and boosts your health. But there is a dark side to too much sun exposure: premature aging and the very real risk of skin cancer. 

Truth is, sunscreen is needed year-round no matter where you live. Even car and office windows can't keep you shielded from the harmful effects of those strong UVA/UVB rays. And please don't tell me I need sun to produce vitamin D. I assure you, I'm getting plenty through my exposed lower body. But can you blame a girl for wanting to keep her face, décolletage and arms free from speckles, spots and damage? My doctor (this gorgeous one) would agree, prevention is the best cure and no on is immune to potential damage.

But what if the sunscreen itself is more harmful than the dreaded ailments you're trying to prevent? Ahhhh. Therein lies the problem. Chemical sunscreens are loaded with questionable substances. Look for a lengthy list of complex names typically ending in -one, -ate or -ene. Oxybenzone is an endocrine disruptor and octinoxate (aka octyl methoxycinnamate) has periodically been labeled a cancer causing ingredient. Retinyl palmitate - another common ingredient "may increase photocarcinogenicity, the rate of developing cancerous lesions or tumors from sun exposure, according to a 2009 study (1)" , You might have never given this a second thought before, but spraying or rubbing this into your skin gives these active ingredients the opportunity to get into your system and cause a range of problems. 

Why are chemical sunscreens more popular? It's simple: they are invisible, readily available and never leave that ghastly white cast on skin.

What exactly is a mineral sunscreen and what's the difference? I can't wait to share...

The all-star ingredients here are Titanium dioxide (TiO2) and Zinc oxide (ZnO). Whereas chemical sunscreens work by absorbing the suns rays or scattering them, they take 20 minutes to begin performing. So no spraying it on and jumping in the pool feeling protected. 

Mineral sunscreens, by contrast, are a physical barrier that sits on top of the skin and prevent the rays from actually penetrating the skin. They begin working immediately upon application. Good news - the best of the bunch are also loaded with antioxidants which have been proven to work synergistically to protect your from damage caused by exposure to the sun. 

I have done exhaustive research and come up with my top recommended high spf (30+ sunscreen fluids & creams for face & body. Used properly, none of these will leave you with a kabuki-faced appearance (although you may have to work them into the skin a bit) and all are paraben free. I'll be frank - this is a SHORT list because I've eliminated even some old favorites once I dug into the ingredients list. Let's go: 

MY FAVORITE MINERAL FACIAL SUNSCREENS 

For my face & upper body I need a water-light formulas with SPF 45+ that melts into the skin. These top my list with Josie Maran & Omorovicza being tied in first place for being by far the most natural and skin nourishing of those I discovered. 

Omorovicza UV Shield // Josie Maran Argan Oil SPF // Colorscience Powder Sunscreen

FAVORITE MINERAL SUNSCREENS FOR THE BODY

For body, this Avene lotion is my personal choice but the three creams listed below are hydrating, top quality and terrific performers. They just require a bit more rubbing in, being thicker formulas than the thinner facial liquids. For kids, Hampton Sun is the way to go. No doubt. Yes, they are pricey - but nothing is as sacred as your health and avoiding expensive treatments or reparative efforts later on. 

Avene SPF 50 Mist // Omorovicza UV Shield // Supergoop SPF 40

THE BEST MINERAL SUNSCREEN POWDERS FOR THE FACE

One other secret weapon for saving your gorgeous face? SPF powder for reapplying during the day. Remember, they recommend we reapply sunscreen every two hours for effectiveness and I'm not about to put a fluid on top of my makeup once I'm ready for the day. Hence the need for powders. Yes. It works and is largely free from unnecessary ingredients. I LOVE the Chantecaille, but it is almost always sold out. So I've added two other winners I love. Note: these are NOT grainy formulas. These are finely milled and can be dusted on like an invisible veil. No - you will not have powdery face, but you might just avoid some major sun damage by tossing one in your tote. Pro tip: purchase the Chantecaille Refill while you wait for your handy brush/dispenser combo to arrive. 

Chantecaille Protection Naturelle SPF Powder // Colorscience "Sunforgettable" SPF Powder // PTR Instant Sunshield Powder

I'll be candid here: my dad is a skin cancer survivor. My maternal grandfather regularly has to go and have melanomas removed. Having grown up in the Carolinas I can tell you I wasn't so sun safe. To say that prevention of future damage is a priority for me is an understatement. Couple that with my love of exercising outdoors and generally having fun and you get a girl who is obsessed with finding fantastic products. 

So if I seem passionate about the topic of "safe sun" and a bit obsessed with maintaining my youthful glow, I'll agree with you. I am. Better late than never, right? I'm not advocating hiding indoors - I'm encouraging to find high quality products that allow you to live your dreams in the safest and healthiest way possible. 

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