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Cupping Therapy Basics

cupping therapy

When Michael Phelps prepared to dive into the pool last summer at the Olympics, millions of spectators were stunned by the rows of large purple circles that adorned his back. In an instant the ancient modality of cupping resurfaced on the global stage. The record breaking olympic gold medalist practices cupping therapy to heal and support his muscles, joints and immune system which are pushed to the limits all year long by his intense training and then days of competition during the games.

Save Michael Phelps, I knew nothing about cupping and wanted to learn more. I sought a master practitioner in New York City and was introduced to Anton Lee, a third generation licensed acupuncturist with extensive cupping training. Acupuncture is an integral part of cupping. Anton educated me on the basics.

What Is Cupping?

Born of a culture that considered surgery, the act of cutting the body, an affront to their ancestors, (I found this particularly interesting as Judaism forbids the practice of tattoo and most piercings precisely for this reason) until the introduction of antibiotics, cupping was the principal modality of healing not only muscular pain in the body but ailment of major internal organs as well. In fact, prior to the introduction of antibiotics, boils were the leading cause of death. Cupping was partly developed as a method for removing the toxic fluids that were contained within the boil. With the introduction of antibiotics cupping began to fall by the wayside where it would become classified, at least in western medicine, as an alternative therapy.

Dispelling Myths

You will read almost everywhere that the practice originated in China. “Not true!” Anton insisted. It has been practiced all over the world for a few thousands years throughout Asia, Europe, the Americas and Middle East. Cups were made out of whatever natural resources were available in the region. In the Middle East, cups were made of goat horns, while in China they were fashioned from Bamboo. The modern day versions are made of glass and silicone.

What Does This Have To Do With An Olympic Athlete?

Every time we move energy is created which makes blood and fluids circulate through the body. This in and of itself is a good thing. But like anything, too much of a good thing can turn bad. When muscles and tissue are over exerted, it creates a trauma. When there is a trauma to the body, typically blood and fluid flow to the affected area in an effort to repair it. If The body is functioning healthfully, it is extremely efficient and directs energy, blood and fluid to where it is needed to support and heal the area. When this excess fluid is not completely absorbed by the body it can get deposited onto the muscle. This fluid bonds like glue to the muscle and creates a blockage. This can be in the form of a knot that you might get in your neck, or back. This causes pain and is toxic to the body. Just as the person loses his or her typical range of movement, this blockage is stuck. If you’re not an olympic athlete, you may be susceptible to extreme weather, which can also cause trauma to the body. When it’s cold we condense our bodies physically and this energy creates stagnation. This stagnation is perceived by us as pain.

How Can We Break Up The Blockage?

what you need to know about cuppingBy hand. A needle is inserted at the point of pain (Acupuncture is an integral part of cupping) to create the movement of energy, fluid and blood, within the tissue – to break up the proverbial “glue”, then a cup is placed over it and suction is applied to draw it out into the skin. The skin is not only the largest organ of the body, but the largest filtration organ of the body. Just as the liver filters blood, the lungs filter air and the stomach filters food, similarly the skin filters excess fluid. Skin contains millions of micro vessels – this is why, when we get cut, we heal so quickly. Using the skin’s filtration system the body disposes of what it does not need and recycles what it can use.

The Basics

The more toxic your body is the darker the cup marks will be. In general men tend to present with darker marks as women’s bodies are cleaner due to the menstrual cycle which circulates and cleans out blood and tissue from the body regularly.

My Mini Consultation

Anton is the real deal. Towards the end of our almost two hour meeting, Anton turned to me and asked if he could take my pulse. He told me that I am a worrier. Worry and stress cause the digestive system to slow down. The stomach is considered the mother organ as it filters food that is then distributed to the other organs of the body in order to nourish them. The odd thing is that I have colitis. It turns out that cupping can be used as part of a regimen to heal colitis and other digestive ailments. He also told me to keep an eye on my posture as bad posture wreaks havoc on the body – yes, causing trauma. The odd thing is, as soon as I walked into Anton’s office, I became acutely aware of my posture. It almost felt as if he was communicating telepathically to me, nudging me to sit up straight.

Just Scratching The Surface

Cupping is a practice that is tailored specifically to each individual depending on his or her needs and there are many more tools involved in the modality that I did not delve into here. Above I have merely scratched the cupping surface. To schedule a consultation or appointment with Anton, please call Yasmine Djerradine Institut de Beauté at 212-588-1771.

By: Alyssa Barrie Weiss, Twitter: @AlyssaBarrie

6 Must Have Beauty Products For Summer

6 Must Have Beauty Products For Summer

Though we are still experiencing chilly weather in the northeast, summer is just around the corner. Many of us will be spending endless hours outdoors in the sun and heat. Whether we are running errands, sitting on the beach, barbecuing, hiking or just day dreaming, it is important to protect ourselves from the elements during the day, and then nourish our skin later in the evening. Here are some of our favorite products to keep you covered from head to toe all summer long.

For face

Whether you are hitting the golf course or preparing to worship the sun, a sunscreen that will protect your skin from the elements is a must. If the sun is out, sunscreen is in order. Sun tends to accelerate the skin’s aging process so for face, I love Institut Esthederm Bronz Repair Sunscreen For Face SPF 15. This French cult favorite is high tech, anti-aging sun care that enables you to enjoy the benefits of the sun without experiencing its harmful effects. There’s real science behind this line of bio-cosmetics that takes a completely different approach to sun care. It works with aging skin’s biology and the sun’s properties, instead of against these factors, enabling your skin to protect itself from the elements. Institut Esthederm’s sun care products are bar none — the best you can find on the market. And because of active ingredients like beeswax and rice bran oil that moisturize and nourish skin, containing anti-free radical properties, Bronz Repair can be used as your daily anti-aging moisturizer all summer long.

For body

Institut Esthederm Sun Care Oil Extreme Sun is the best sun care for body you can find and also doubles as a luxurious body care oil all year long. It ensures safe prolonged sun exposure in severe conditions, including the intense tropical sun. It allows a deep, intense natural tan to develop without any harmful UV damage. Sun Care Oil Extreme is formulated with UV in-Cellium Technology to protect the skin from the inside by strengthening its self-defense systems. This hi-tech sunscreen is extremely moisturizing and can be used to protect hair from the harmful rays of the sun as well, making it a multi-tasking sun care dynamo.

For eyes

During the summer months, our eye area is usually in need of a little more than just a great under eye cream. Consider Institut Esthederm Lift & Repair Eye Contour Lift Patches your mother’s little helper. This treatment contains caffeine, sodium hyaluronate (the same active ingredient found in injectables) and algae extract to wake up your eyes from the inside out. You won’t believe the difference ten minutes make. They are perfect for après airplane travel or for transitioning from work/beach activities to nighttime play. They are an instant eye opener!

For hair

If you plan on sitting out in the sun, playing outdoor sports or even hiking, Christophe Robin Moisturizing Hair Oil with Lavender is a must. Fact: Your hair and scalp can burn in the sun. This leave-in hair treatment contains SPF 6 to protect your crown from getting scorched and moisturizes your hair in the process. It even provides for a convenient way to style your hair while on the beach or by the pool that keeps it off your face. I apply it in sections and then braid my hair. For short hair just apply and slick hair back. Trés chick! When you wash it out at the end of the day, your hair will feel silky, smooth and nourished.

Après sun

Whether you finished your day a little crispier for the wear or not, remember to treat your skin to some extra added tender loving care. Cosmetics 27 Baume 27 is great as an après sun moisturizer. It is cooling and calming, especially after a day outdoors or in the sun. During the summer, this balm is particularly well suited as a restorative and reparative nighttime face cream. It quite literally slows down the oxidation or aging process as it protects against free radicals, one of the main causes of aging. Don’t forget to massage into your décolleté as well.

Not just lip service

Be sure to pick up B. Kamins Laboratories SPF 20 Lip Balm. In extreme cold, wind or sun, lips are usually the first place to suffer. Just a few minutes of exposure to extreme weather can lead to days of chapped, cracked lips. Reapply your lip balm frequently to keep your lips comfortable and protected all day and night.

By: Alyssa Barrie Weiss, Twitter: @AlyssaBarrie

Protect The Skin You’re In

Protect The Skin You're In

May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month. Beyond your mother nagging you to death to apply sunscreen before you brave the great outdoors, it’s nice to know that there have been many advancements in the field of skin cancer detection. The level of awareness for the disease has skyrocketed within the last generation alone. I still have visions, from my childhood, of my father sitting on a lounge chair, covered in Johnson & Johnson’s baby oil, holding a bright yellow sun visor inches from his face to maximize his exposure to the sun. Whereas today, I apply SPF 30 sunscreen before I slip into my bikini to ensure that I don’t miss an inch on my face or body. I also apply an SPF hair mask and wear sunglasses as both your scalp and eyes can burn and are not immune to Melanoma either. Ocular Melanoma can present as a freckle within the eye.

But let’s go beyond the sunscreen

It’s critical to visit a board certified dermatologist for an annual skin screening and not only if you fall into the high risk group of those with light skin, eyes and a family history of skin cancer. It’s crucial that everyone go. Often, those with dark skin and eyes assume they are immune from skin cancer and wind up with serious issues down the road due to a lack of screenings and late detection. But don’t go to see a derm only because 1 in 5 Americans will have skin cancer in their lifetime, nor because Melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, causes one death every hour. And not only because it’s the most common cancer diagnosis in adults 25 – 29. And certainly not only because children that have experienced 5+ sun burns in their lives are 80% more likely to develop skin cancer, nor because each year there are more instances of skin cancer than lung, breast and colon cancer combined. You must go because this is an easy one to prevent.

A technological leap forward in skin screening

Until recently the protocol for conducting skin screenings was a manual, imperfect process. Even with the expertise of a highly-skilled, board certified dermatologist armed with the appropriate screening tools, a manual process left physicians piecing together notes from the year before with no standardized method for tracking changes in the skin over time.

Enter DermSpectra, a revolutionary new breakthrough in technology that has standardized the skin screening process with digital imaging capable of tracking even the most minute of changes in the skin over time. When it comes to skin cancer, picking up the smallest change in a mole or growth can mean the difference between life and death.

DermSpectra skin cancer awareness monthYour 10 minutes of fame

DermSpectra, or The Box, as Dr. Mitchell Kline, a board certified clinical dermatologist who specializes in Melanoma surgery and staging, lovingly calls it, uses high speed, professionally focused cameras and lenses, customized for the patient’s skin type, to capture a 360 degree view of the skin in its entirety. Its akin to E! Live’s 360 degree camera used on the red carpet at The Oscars to give us a virtually 3 dimensional view of the haute couture fashions that the the A list actors are dressed in. DermSpectra is the very first full body digital imaging system in the United States that captures standardized, high definition photography of the skin. This imaging tool enables physicians to objectively review and monitor critical skin changes over time.

How does it work?

You strip down to your underoos at the very least – if you feel at ease bearing more – even better! Melanoma can pop up in the least expected of areas, even in places where the sun don’t shine. Climb into the DermSpectra Imaging Unit and move through a series of 9 poses while dozens of cameras capture 36.7 MP high resolution photos of the body from a 360 degree vantage point. These images are instantly available and become a baseline for the long term evaluation and tracking of even the smallest changes in the skin over time. All the information is stored securely for the patient’s and physician’s eyes only.

DermSpectra can only be found in three locations in The United States – at Travel Beauty’s go to dermatologist, Dr. Mitchell Kline’s Park Avenue practice on the upper east side of Manhattan, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland and Oregon Health and Science University in Portland Oregon.

So what are you waiting for?

By: Alyssa Barrie Weiss, Twitter: @AlyssaBarrie

Last Minute Mother’s Day Gift Guide

Mothers Day Gift Guide From Travel Beauty

Is there anyone in your life more deserving of a little love and luxury than mom? Often, though, mom is so busy managing the family like a well-oiled machine that she has no clue what she wants or may be in need of. Even if you press her for ideas, you’re given an “oh, I don’t know” and are thus left to guess for yourself what she would actually use.

Enter our collection of luxury kits and revolutionary beauty products from some of the world’s best beauty brands. You will find the perfect something for even the most difficult to shop for moms out there.

The fountain of youth

There are anti-aging and then there are anti-aging skincare product. While antioxidants are important to maintaining healthy skin, the ability of ingredients to boost the skin’s capability to produce collagen and elastin is where it’s at. If your mom is anywhere from 55 – 75+, a gift of any of these clinically tested and proven anti-aging skin care products will elevate you to beyond favorite child status:

  • Cosmetics 27 Plasma 27 Bio-Lifting Cell Restoring Mask: It nourishes and hydrates the skin, calming inflammation and stimulating it to produce increased collagen and elastin on its own. It is a 15 minute facial in a pouch. All the work is already done for mom – it’s presoaked with just the right concentration of ingredients and pre cut, so all she has to do is open the pouch and put it on.

Heaven Skincare Long Weekender Kit: for the ageless beauty

We’ve curated a collection of our favorite anti-aging superstars from Deborah Mitchell’s Heaven Skincare lineThe Long Weekender Kit is a comprehensive starter kit just for you. It covers all the skin care bases: there’s a cleanser, an exfoliator, a 2-in-1 toner/serum, a daily anti-aging moisturizer and, of course, the world famous Silver Bee Venom Mask (which is a great gift in and of itself) If mom feels she’s too busy to shop for skin care, you’ve just done all the legwork for her.

Last Minute Mother's Day Gift GuideFor the mom who loves her mane

It has been said that if your hair looks great you’re 90% there. If hair is your mom’s mane event, we’ve got some kits she will dye for. French native, Christophe Robin is the colorist of choice of the world’s most celebrated actresses and top models including Natalie Portman, Catherine Deneuve, Tilda Swinton, Kylie Minogue and Kristin Scott Thomas. His revolutionary, award winning line of natural hair care products will bring the absolute best out of mom’s hair. Christophe uses powerful, rare ingredients inspired by traditional recipes to address the needs of all hair types, textures and conditions. Two of our favorite collections are Restoring Hair Ritual, formulated with rare prickly pare oil to nourish and restore color-treated, dry, damaged, thick curly and/or course hair. And Detox Hair Ritual, a universal collection of exceptional travel companions formulated for those with dry, sensitive or oily scalps.

Wrap mom in luxury from head to toe

With Lavido’s Inspired by Nature Head to Toe Collection, a luxurious anthology of plant-based skin and body care infused with the ancient healing powers of the Sea of Galilee. Our favorite products in this gift box are: Alert Eye Cream, Gentle Exfoliator Peeling Cream and Thera Intense Body Cream. Lavido is a natural skin and body care line made with the best raw, plant-based ingredients and purified waters from the Sea of Galilee. This is Israel’s best kept skincare secret.

By: Travel Beauty Editors

A Curly Encounter at The Yves Durif Salon

A Curly Encounter at Yves Durif Salon

I was recently introduced to Yves Durif, the founder of The Yves Durif Salon at The Carlyle Hotel. Yves was born in Grenoble, France and by the age of 17 had already begun his hair dressing career at the legendary Jacque Dessange Coiffure in Paris. By 21 he was working in Montreal where he mostly cut and styled hair on the set of films and television. At the age of 30, Yves moved to New York City expressly to work with the legendary Bruno Pittini at the Bruno Dessange Salon. In the mid 80s and early 90s Dessange was ground zero, turning out what was akin to the brat pack of celebrity hairdressers. These included Frederic Fekkai, Michel Aleman, Odile Gilbert, Serge Normant and many of the other coiffeurs that subsequently became the most sought after hairstylists of their time.

The Yves Durif Salon

The space is extremely luxurious and welcoming. The entrance has a distinctly old world European sophistication and warmth about it while the cutting room itself is bright and modern. I encountered a number of television personalities during my visit.

The consultation

First thing, I was whisked away for a brief consultation with Yves. He insists on meeting his clients, sans a salon robe, so he can assess their style and energy. He does this all in minutes. Yves explained that facial geometry is perhaps one of the most important details. Is the face oval? Round? An upside down triangle? Yes – those exist! If one has a perfectly oval shaped face, no hair is needed to complete a beautiful look. Yves remarked that many Ethiopians, for example, have characteristically oval shaped faces and so these women can easily pull off a short buzz cut or completely bald look gracefully. If the head is any other shape, the hair must be manipulated to form an oval in tandem with the face. A long face, like mine, needs volume on the sides to create an oval, whereas a round or upside down triangular shaped face requires volume at the top.

Instead of asking the client what she has in mind style-wise, Yves will first tell you what he thinks. Yves remarked:

“Many people come in with a strong sense of what they want,  but often what they want is not well suited to their features and lifestyle. Let me tell you what I see… There is nothing wrong when people come in with a picture of a style they like. It is my job to interpret that style and adapt it for them.”

When looking at my hair, Yves asserted “curly hair is typically the last texture that professionals master. It can be difficult to gage because it is unpredictable. You don’t know where it is going to land. I know curly hair.” Lucky for me, Yves does know curly hair!

Yves’ signature shampoo technique

After the consultation I was dressed in a robe and lead to a sink where my hair was washed using Yves’ signature shampoo technique adapted for thick, curly hair like mine. As basic as it might sound, the majority of people do not know how to shampoo their hair properly. The most important part of any shampoo regimen is cleansing the scalp and roots properly. Typically, too much emphasis is placed on sudsing up the lengths of the hair and not enough on the scalp and roots which need the most attention as this is where the sebaceous glands are producing toxins and oils that can affect hair adversely. The washer started by running a pre-shampooing hair oil through my hair and then brushed it through with The Yves Durif Vented Brush ends first and then gradually brushing down the lengths of my hair. She let it sit for 5 minutes and then rinsed.

She then mixed two pumps of shampoo with water in Yves’ signature applicator bottle, shook the mixture and applied it directly to my scalp in sections. This process keeps the shampoo concentrated on the scalp and roots where it is needed. She then massaged the entire scalp thoroughly for a full five minutes. This stimulates circulation and hair growth. She then ran The Yves Durif Comb from my scalp to ends - once again applying pressure at the scalp to stimulate circulation and then combing through the hair to distribute the shampoo evenly through the length of my hair, gently cleaning the tips without causing abrasion. Next, she applied a walnut sized amount of conditioner, avoiding the roots and scalp, distributing the conditioner through the lengths of my hair. She once again, used Yves’ Comb to distribute and rinse the conditioner. She finished with a cold water rinse to seal the cuticle.

Yves’ realm

Yves Durif Salon Carlyle HotelI was escorted back to Yves where he asked me to stand and turn my head upside down. From there he cut some strategic layers. Though my hair is curly, it is straight underneath in certain sections. Yves took those pieces and texturized them with a razor so that they would blend in to match the other 97% of my mane. I was impressed because though I was keenly aware of these rebellious straight patches, no one else had ever mentioned them. After applying some styling products – one of which is a new staple in my hair care regimen, Shu Uemura Touch Of Gloss, Yves twisted the bottom straight strands in small hair clips to dry to further assist in texturizing them to match the rest of my curly locks.

No cell phone please

Yves is a big believer of being in the moment and brings this philosophy to his work. Though early in his career, he would see up to 42 clients a day, devoting 15 minutes to each, his practice has evolved. Today he is dedicated to creating a mindful space. Cutting hair is an art form and Yves strives to create a safe space to be creative. Yves also believes that the client has his part to play too. “The experience is an exchange” Yves noted. And so Yves has one rule. When you sit in his chair –  no cell phone! If you brought a picture to show a style you want on your phone, that is fine but Yves believes in creating the conditions necessary to produce great results requires mindfulness on both sides. Yves desires his clients to be present with him while he is cutting. He needs them to be in the moment, otherwise the connection between Yves and his client is severed.

It’s all in the hands

One last detail that I found charmingly haunting was a visual symbol of how much Yves’ work is quite literally etched into his body physically. The hand that he holds his shears in has permanently taken on the shape of his hand grasping them, whether he has them in hand or not. Very telling. As for me, this was quite possibly the best haircut I’ve ever had.

By: Alyssa Barrie Weiss, Twitter: @AlyssaBarrie

Photo credit: Alexander Berg