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Monthly Archives : July 2014

Benefits of Tongue Scraping For Dental (And Overall) Health

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There’s been a flurry of articles recently about the ancient ayurvedic practice of oil pulling. Everyone from fashion blogs to CNN have been extolling the benefits oil pulling and recommending the best oil types with which to swish. Perhaps it is our newfound collective obsession with a holistic lifestyle (of which organic oils are an integral role) that had oil pulling become so on-trend. Not that I’m knocking it – I’ve tried it and found it beneficial, albeit gross.

An Alternative to Oil Pulling

There is however another ayurvedic practice that has not received the same love and attention that oil pulling has, but that has proven benefits to which I can personally attest. I’m writing this to set that record straight and shed some light on…tongue scraping.

Tongue Scraping? Sounds Painful…

It’s not. It is a quick, simple and extremely inexpensive practice (all you need is a $7 tongue cleaner!) that reaps many benefits. I call tongue scraping the “unsung hero of oral health.” I have been enthusiastically tongue scraping for years now, and I don’t see how anyone could try tongue scraping once, see the gunk you remove from your tongue, and not become an enthusiast as well. I therefore urge you to go out and start scraping today.

How About a Professional Opinion?

Kim Shamoun, a veteran registered dental hygienist and fellow tongue scraping zealot, says “I can’t live without tongue scraping. Without a doubt, it should be a part of our daily oral hygiene regimen. I stress to my patients, friends, family and strangers alike how important it really is. A tongue scraper is the one thing I would want with me on a deserted island…forget the lipstick!”

Why Else Would I Do Something that Sounds Like Medieval Torture?

We all know about, and to some extent suffer from, morning breath. (Am I the only one that performs a huge eye roll when movie lovebirds play kissy face immediately upon waking? No one is doing that IRL. Get a grip, directors.)

Well it just so happens that tongue scraping is one of the best defenses against halitosis, period! And if you scrape regularly, especially before bed, your morning breath will be drastically reduced. Why? Think about it: It’s called “oral hygiene”. So you brush your teeth, you floss your gums, but that big plush carpet that sits on the bottom of your mouth gets ignored. Doesn’t make much sense, does it? Actually, the soft, spongy, bumpy texture of the tongue is the perfect little breeding ground for bacteria! What you scrape off your tongue is this bacteria along with various other toxins (ick). This bacteria is odor-causing, so the less bacteria, the less smell.

How Else Does a Dirty Mouth Affect Overall Health?

Taste. Housing our taste buds is the tongue’s best-known role. But when your tongue is coated in gunk, your taste buds have no chance to fully enjoy that wild mushroom risotto, molten chocolate cake or any other delicious morsel. And decreased taste actually leads to decreased…

Digestion. We all know that digestion begins in the mouth; saliva is filled with enzymes that start breaking down food. And, you know, there’s that chewing thing as well. The cleaner the mouth, the better you can taste your food (i.e., the more “mouth-watering” it is) the better your digestion is!

Plaque. The more soft plaque you have on your tongue, the more hard plaque will form on your teeth. This leads to – yup – bad breath, but also tooth decay!  As an aside, every time I go for my biannual teeth cleaning, my dentist compliments me on my home oral care. She’s actually told me “There’s really no plaque here for me to clean.” Thank you, tongue scraping!

Immunity. Among its other functions, the tongue is part our immune system. The more bacteria you remove from it, the less chance there is of that bacteria getting into your body and causing trouble, disease, etc.

Overall health. According to the Mayo Clinic (just one of many sources on this subject),  oral bacteria and poor oral hygiene are linked to several other diseases, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease and even infertility. At less than a minute a day, tongue scraping is the ultimate ounce of prevention worth a pound of cure!

You Might Be Saying…

You may read this and say (perhaps a bit smugly), “I do clean my tongue, with my toothbrush!” Well, your heart’s in the right place, but you’ve got the wrong tool in your hand. “An ordinary toothbrush is not recommended; it does not remove the micro-organisms from the tongue properly” says Shamoun. Just as the malleable surface of your multi-bristled toothbrush is optimal for cleaning the hard surface of your teeth, you need a solid surface (like a stainless steel tongue scraper) to really clean the squishy surface of your tongue. A U-shaped tongue scraper is where it’s at. I really like Dr. Tung’s stainless steel tongue scrapers; Shamoun recommends Breath Rx.

A Tongue Scraping How-to Guide

As I said, it is quick and simple, though timing does matter. Ideally, you want to tongue scrape as soon upon waking as possible, before you’ve eaten anything, drank anything or brushed your teeth. Just open wide (you don’t want to hit your teeth with the scraper), stick your tongue out and, starting from the back, glide the scraper over your entire tongue. Rinse it after each scrape. Do this at least five times, and/or until your scrapes come up clean, meaning you’ve gotten all the gunk off! You may want to do it in the bathroom mirror over the sink at first, so you can make sure you are getting to the back of your tongue. Then, once you’re familiar with the feeling of that, you can do it sans mirror.

“The most posterior portion of the tongue collects the most buildup, so you really have to make sure you reach far back. The frequency should be a regular basis, morning and evening.” advises Shamoun.

I also tongue scrape at night, right before I brush my teeth before bed. I’m appalled to see what accumulates on my tongue in the course of the day, and appreciative to get rid of it!

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M.B. York’s Paint by Numbers Eyeshadow Kit

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Having done the makeup of thousands of women over the years, I can say with authority that most women have no idea how to apply eye makeup. I hear it from every woman I work on and see it firsthand when they sit in my makeup chair. They are either:

  • unclear what looks good on them and how to apply it so they do little or nothing OR
  • have a set routine that they do every day that is not flattering…yet they don’t know it’s not flattering!

How We Get Stuck in Bad Makeup Routines

Often, women will be attached to a liquid liner, or some kind of frosty shadow combination that they apply every day without fail, and have no idea how to break the cycle – or that they even need to break the cycle! At one point or another, many women had a department store makeover. Usually, the amount of colors used during this makeover – and inability of the salesperson to teach them how to duplicate the look at home – results in a half-baked makeover attempt that is utterly lacking, yet still becomes a woman’s routine for the next 10 years.

Keep it Simple

I am shocked that most women who apply lots of shadow seem to think it looks good, when more often than not, it actually makes them look worse. This, in my opinion, is why most men don’t like makeup. They see so many women applying makeup heavy-handedly in all the wrong places, using all the wrong colors and all the wrong tools. I always wonder why no one tells these women that their makeup is wrong and making them look older and/or desperate and/or or cheap. Especially older women, who seem to be especially stuck in their ways and don’t know who to trust to help them update their look.

One of the biggest obstacles is that there are waaaay too many options out there, leaving a lot of room for error. If you go into a store, you have to trust the salesperson that is picking the colors for you. I am shocked when I walk through the enormous makeup department at Bergdorf Goodman and see so many salespeople, who badly need makeovers themselves, giving makeovers to customers! Who do you trust? If you do get lucky and have a talented makeup artist doing your makeover, you are then faced with a multitude of colors, brushes, not to mention a huge bill, if you have the courage to attempt the look yourself at home. Maybe you spring for just one of the shadows, or just the liner. Then when applying the makeup at home, you wish you had spent the money on all the products because you loved looking that good and feel hopeless that you’ll ever be able to recreate the look yourself.

Enter Paint By Number Eyeshadow Kit

It is with these issues in mind that I created my Paint by Numbers Eyeshadow Kit. This eyeshadow kit comes with a makeup palette containing 6 shadows, all numbered 1, 2, or 3. There’s a row for daytime and a row for night. It also comes with 3 brushes, also numbered 1, 2, and 3, and a foolproof diagram showing you exactly where each color goes. I have created the perfect base, crease, and liner colors that work on all skin types, tones and eye colors.

An Eyeshadow Palette That Works for Everyone

My client’s loyalty, rave reviews and amazing looking eyes prove the concept works. It is so important that a base color not be too light, too dark, too pink or too peach. You want it to be the perfect base to make the eye open and pop, without making lids look wrinkled. The crease colors I created are more like blush colors, kind of a soft champagne bronze that opens the eye but doesn’t distract from your natural beauty. The shadow liners I created also compliment all eye colors, work with anything in your wardrobe and make you look younger and more vibrant. I sold these same shadows separately for years before creating the kit, and every woman I put them on would buy them. I would always draw the diagram, and write exactly which brush to use. A lot of times they would say they already had brushes, but if they didn’t buy them from me would more often than not come back and say it just doesn’t look the same as when I did it.

Everything You Need for Easy Makeup Application

I decided to include everything in one eyeshadow kit: diagram, shadows and brushes to simplify the process and make it easy and fun. The whole eyeshadow application should take a couple minutes, tops! My clients come back and tell me this is the first time they have ever had their makeup done and been able to recreate the look at home. Plus, the kit is great for travel!

Everyone gets tired of fishing each color out of her makeup bag, opening and closing all the lids, and digging out the right brushes. This little book-shaped eyeshadow kit opens up with everything neat and organized. My clients love being able to throw out all their old colors.

The Paint By Numbers Eyeshadow Kit is also truly multi-generational. My best friend who is in her 40s uses it along with her 15 year old daughter and 65 year old mom. And they all have different hair and eye colors! What better way to bond with your daughter or mom than sharing your newest beauty secrets?!

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Travel Beauty Travel Diaries: Italy

travel beauty travel diary italy

Our travels through Italy took us to some charming places that we thought were worth noting…and sharing! So if you should find yourself in any of these regions, read on for things to do, eat or experience.

Where to Stay in Lake Como

The first stop was Lake Como. Originally built in 1568 as the summer residence of Cardinal Tolomeo Gallio, Villa d’Este is the quintessential must-experience hotel. The property sits on 25 acres of magnificent gardens overlooking Lake Como. The décor is impeccable; a true icon of old world luxury. It is impossible to be here and not feel like you are on a magical vacation.

Where to Eat in Lake Como

If you are looking for a fabulous place for lunch, make sure to stop at the elegant Ristorante Navedano. This structure is an old windmill converted into a restaurant! It is situated in a lush, tropical setting near Villa d’Este. The authentic local cuisine changes seasonally and is prepared using fresh local produce and ingredients from the region. You must indulge in a glass of wine, even if a liquid lunch is not your norm. The wine list is dynamite and the food is superb.

On The Way to Florence

Next we headed to Asolo where we visited the Palladio Villas in the Veneto.  This site provides a unique glimpse into the lifestyle of 15th century Italy.

We then headed to Tuscany for a couple of days. Fifty minutes from Florence we arrived at the Antinori Vineyard. It is a picturesque place to slow down and relax in the countryside after days of driving and running around. Over 26 generations of The Antinori family have dedicated themselves to the art of winemaking. This vineyard is nothing short of majestic and the vino is spectacular.

What to See in Florence: Art & Culture

On to Firenze! Let’s start with a little culture; this town is rich in that department.

travel-diary-italyThe Palazzo Vecchio

Florence’s majestic town hall. Overlooking Piazza della Signoria, it is one of the most significant public places in Italy, boasting an impressive collection of paintings and sculpture. It was originally the home of the Grand Duke de’ Medici prior to his move to the Pitti Palace. (Another great landmark to visit while you’re in town.)

The Vasari Corridor

This almost kilometer long covered passageway, which crosses the Arno river, originally connected The Pitti Palace with The Uffizi Gallery, the Duke’s office. In 1973 the corridor was reopened to the public and can be visited by appointment only. It houses one of the most unique collections of art, dating from the 16th – 20th centuries. This magnificent collection is continually updated with new additions. Over 1000 paintings completed by master artists call The Vasari Corridor home.

Where to Eat in Florence

While in Florence, book a dinner at The Alle Murate. This is a unique Tuscan restaurant located in The Palazzo Dell’Arte dei Giudici e Notai (the 14th-century seat of the city’s magistrates’ and notaries’ guild) where a series of frescos from the 1300s have been uncovered. The restaurant also boasts a vaulted basement with plexiglas floors suspended over a Roman archeological site. Audio cassettes explaining the archeological site are available to listen to while you dine.

Where to Stay in Florence

The Portrait Hotel: This ultra luxe, 34-suite hotel is owned by The Ferragamo family. While views overlooking The Arno River and The Ponte Vecchio lend an old world feel, the luxurious interiors are modern and sleek.

Hope that this mini-tour of the region gave you some ideas of where you might want to spend time, should you find yourself in Italia. Keep a look out for part II or our Italian travel diary.

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Protect Your Scalp From The Sun

sun care for scalp

If you are like most, you have been spending hours in the summer sun perfecting your tan, reading, going for leisurely strolls along the beach and cat-napping. You are also probably well versed in the art of applying sunblock. I, for one, have different SPFs for different parts of my body; Factor 50 for my face, 35 for my arms & shoulders and 20 for my legs and back. But what about our scalps?

Can You Get a Sunburn on Your Scalp?

I recall a friend telling me how she went hiking in Switzerland, slathered herself from head to toe in sunblock, and got home to find her scalp was very red and sore to the touch. The next morning, it was excruciating to shampoo, and within 4 days, giant flakes had started to work their way down her hair shafts. Lovely! I tut-tutted down the phone, and explained that she was suffering from ‘scorched parting syndrome’. Not a real diagnostic term, but it sums it up pretty well. I asked her to imagine what would happen to her nose if she went into midday sun sans block? Redness, peeling and perhaps blisters. ‘Ah!’ she said, and wondered why she hadn’t connected the dots before. This sensitive part of our body is so often neglected and prone to the same sun associated risks as the rest of us.

Sun Care for Your Scalp

Apart from the unsightly aspect of scalp burns, very seriously, accumulative damage and degradation over the years can eventually lead to skin cancer on your scalp. This is especially true if you have fine or thinning hair, or are bald, as more of your scalp is exposed. It’s a good idea to get yearly checks, and if you notice any lesions, or marks that were not there before or have changed in appearance, bring it to the attention of your dermatologist. Your trusted, long-term hairdresser can also be quite a useful tool with regards to this, as they will see parts of your scalp that you cannot. Ask them to let you know if they see anything suspect, or notice a difference.

Tips on How to Protect Your Scalp From the Sun

There are a few things you can do to protect yourself:

  1. Wear a hat, although this can be a bit of a bore when it’s hot and humid.
  2. Alternatively, you can apply your regular sunblock to your parting.
  3. I prefer using Philip Kingsley Swimcap Cream. It’s moisturizing, and also guards your hair from sun, salt and chlorinated water discolouration and damage if applied throughout your lengths.
  4. If you have already burnt your scalp, a hat is an absolute must.
  5. To soothe mild burns, apply chamomile or an after-sun product recommended by your pharmacist; and for associated flakes and irritation.
  6. Use our Flaky/Itchy Scalp Shampoo, Flaky Itchy Scalp Toner and No Scent No Colour Conditioner.
  7. For severe burns, please see your doctor promptly, as there is an increased risk of getting a secondary bacterial infection, which may require topical and/or oral antibiotics.

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Toiletry Bag Packing Tips

toiletry bag packing tips

When you travel with as many expensive toiletries as we do, you learn – rather quickly – which packing strategies work and which leave you with a toiletry travel kit coated in night cream. Here are our roadtested methods for arriving at your destination with your products – and your beauty regimen – fully in tact.

It’s What’s Outside that Counts

First and foremost, choose your toiletry bag wisely. We designed our Travel Beauty Travel Bag to be slightly padded, zipper-enclosed and plastic-lined. The padding protects products from breakage, but if the unfortunate happens, the plastic lining and zipper stops it from getting unfortunate all over your vacation wardrobe!

Dust Off Your Dust Bags

More and more beauty products come in eco-friendly glass bottles every day. And though they be beautiful on our vanity, they are perilous in our carry-ons. Enter the smaller size dust bags you’ve likely amassed…you know, the ones that come with large jewelry pieces (hello, Alexis Bittar bangle) and small leather goods. These are your beauty products’ best friends. Put each glass product in its own bag (the thicker, the better) to protect them from banging against each other and then breaking.

Know Your Products’ M.O.

What spills easily and what does not? For example, there’s an oil we love, but it seeps out of its bottle very easily. We learned (the messy way) that this particular product has to stay home. (We are not fans of transferring containers, especially with oils. Too much gets lost in transportation!) Also, pump bottles – the types you have to press down to lock – are all-around bad travel buddies. The pump almost always opens, and then the darn thing is pumping product out the entire time you’re in transit, unbeknownst to you! As much as possible, go with tubes that have tightly-closing flip tops. We also love powder formulas for travel, like Juvena Pure Lifting Peeling Powder. The less liquids to worry about, the better.

Pack Products that Pack a Triple Punch (Or More)

Most of the products we really love do many different things…and do them all well. A quality multi-purpose oil, like Huile 27 can be used from scalp to soles, and works fabulously wherever you apply it. When thinking of which products multi-task well, don’t forget about those that are unisex! Ursa Major Essential Face Wipes are traditionally a men’s product. But these wipes are so cleansing and refreshing, we love them just as much as our husbands do! Then there’s Vine Minus Ion Water, which is so high tech and multi-talented it could probably fly the plane if need be. It is a great refresher/primer for hair and face, it moisturizes and has antibacterial properties. You can even brush your teeth with it!

Always Pack a Dream Cream

Bring one product you can keep with you (in your purse) and that can go anywhere on you. Heaven Skincare Black Label Vanilla Pod Hand & Nail Cream is made with such high quality organic ingredients you can use it not only on your hands and nails (and arms and legs and feet) but also on your face. Plus, the luscious scent has the aromatherapeutic benefits of being calming, comforting and stress reducing! ‘Cause, you know, travel can be a bit stressful sometimes…

Bon Voyage!

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