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The best beauty products from around the globe

Monthly Archives : February 2016

Benefits of Hyaluronic Acid for Your Skin

hyaluronic acid skincare benefits

As an avid reader of all things beauty (it’s not just my job…it’s my passion), I hear every week of a magical new skincare ingredient that’s going to transform my skin. These days, it’s often an oil with an exotic name that is derived from a rare flower that only grows in South American rain forests. Or something like that. It’s dubbed a “game-changer” and we beauty writes lose our collective minds until the next game-changer comes along.

All this hullabaloo has really made me appreciate the skin care stalwarts—those ingredients that have been around for a while, aren’t going anywhere and, most importantly, do what they’re supposed to do. Hyaluronic acid is one such ingredient.

Hyaluronic Acid

If you’ve used hyaluronic acid products, and/or had HA fillers, I’m sure it comes as no surprise that this molecule is so popular (The New York Times just wrote a feature about it). Though HA is a naturally occurring “cushion” throughout the human body (from your eyeballs to your toe joints), its skin benefits that make it an anti-aging all-star.

The Magic of HA Lies in Its Ability to Retain Moisture

It has a greater capacity to hold moisture than any other natural or synthetic polymer. In fact, one gram of hyaluronic acid is able to hold up to six liters of water! This is significant in regard to aging because one of the hallmarks of youthful skin is its moisture content…think plump, taut and dewy. As we age, our skin loses moisture, resulting in a loss of firmness, luminosity and pliability. Because of its unique ability to hold in so much moisture, hyaluronic acid plays a critical role in overall skin health.

As hyaluronic acid boosts the skin’s ability to retain moisture, it also strengthens its barrier—or outer layers. A sturdy skin barrier looks and feels plumper, softer and smoother—all characteristic of young skin.

Now that you know why HA is such a popular skin care ingredient, are you ready to get your hyaluronan on? Here are some of our favorite products that contain this all-star ingredient.

For Face

Emma Hardie Midas Touch Face Serum & Amazing Face Age Support Treatment CreamEmma Hardie is an ingredient queen. From algae extract to avocado peptides, if Emma included it, it works.

Institut Esthederm E.V.E. Serum Source – The hyaluronic acid in this best-selling serum will help reverse signs of sun damage and aging.

B. Kamins Laboratories BB Cream – Provides sheer, luminous coverage with a light tint, moisturizing agents and light-reflecting particles. It also fights damage caused by UV, stress and aging, corrects inconsistencies in skin texture and targets sagging, dullness and wrinkles.

For Eyes

Lavido Alert Eye Cream – Our best-selling eye cream is clinically proven to show significant improvement in skin hydration, elasticity, texture, and firmness. It brightens, moisturizes and relieves puffiness around the eye area, while diminishing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

For Body

Mio Skincare Get Waisted Sculpted Body Shaper – This dream cream tightens, tones and boosts elasticity. Medical-grade caffeine enhances circulation to invigorate tired and puffy skin for a more firm and contoured appearance while hyaluronic acid hydrates to impart a healthy glow.

For Hair – Yes Hair!

Caretrico After Treat Enrich Milk - If you color treat, or even frequently blow dry, your hair, you know how easy it is to dry out strands. This genius styling product brings the moisture-adding benefits of hyaluronic acid to your stressed tresses. It also has the most subtle of rose scents that is downright divine.

By: Claire McCormack, Twitter & Instagram

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Beauty Essentials for Your Gym Bag

how to pack the perfect gym bag with beauty products

As a working mom who likes to work out, I often leave my house at 7:30am with all the supplies I need for my 7:30pm gym class…I don’t have time to go home between work, kids and class. Because of this hustle, packing my gym bag with the proper products has become a crucial life skill. What do I ABSOLUTELY need? What’s extraneous? What’s a little bit of a luxury that will make a big difference to me at 9pm? All this and more is taken into consideration.

Vine Minus Ion Care Water Does. It. All.

Fixes post-gym crazy hair. Is a great antibacterial pre-workout skin prep and post-workout skin refresher. Due to its germ-killing abilities, you can even use it to wipe down your yoga mat after class. (Read more about the benefits of Care Water.)

Mio Skincare Clean Slate Swipes & Ursa Major Essential Face Wipes

I’ve gushed about both of these products so many times, I’m hoping you’re already packing them in your gym bag on the regular…both are spreading like a virus among my fellow gym members. They come individually wrapped, so they are super compact. I shove a few of each in my bag on Sunday night so they’re there when I need them. Each jumbo Mio Skincare Clean Slate Swipe is formulated with natural ingredients to help prevent blemishes and post-gym breakouts, as well as aloe vera and omega oils to exfoliate and moisturize skin. They efficiently & effectively remove makeup, sweat and oil. Their cucumber and mint infused scent makes me feel like I’m bathing in a huge glass of the cucumber water I sip while at the spa. Mio Swipes are suitable for both face and body, so I like to use one all over post-workout (it is THAT big). Pre-workout, when just my face needs a cleaning, I bring an Ursa Major Essential Wipe specifically for that task. These award-winning wipes also cleanse, exfoliate and hydrate skin to leave it (and you!) feeling refreshed and so clean, clean.

Yu-be Moisturizing Skin Cream

I love kickboxing for so many reasons. What it’s doing to my knuckles is not one of them. To prevent farmhand hands, I make sure to coat my knuckles in this ultra-protective, healing cream before I put my gloves on. If you’ve used Yu-be Moisturizing Skin Cream before, you know its myriad uses, from nose to toes. The one ounce tube is convenient enough to keep in my handbag, so I have it even on my rest days.

Mio Skincare Workout Wonder Invigorating Muscle Motivating Gel

My shoulders have been a tension center for years. Building muscle in that area has only exacerbated the situation. Well, this little bottle earns every word in its name. It is perfect for pre and post-workout, as it not only invigorates muscles, but also helps to soothe them. Extracts of Arnica, Horse Chestnut, Murumuru Butter, Spearmint and natural Magnesium increase circulation, ease aches and inflammation and help speed up recovery. This uplifting cocktail of herbs and extracts leaves my body feeling cooled, soothed and ache-free. Though it’s called a gel, Mio Skincare Workout Wonder is a cream…and a creamy cream at thatzero annoying stickiness. And like every single Mio Skincare products, it smells fantastic.

DERMAdoctor MED e TATE Antiperspirant Wipes

Believe the hype around these wipes! They really stop the schvitz without the gross, caked-on feeling of traditional antiperspirants. They are also so gentle. Trying to apply even natural deodorants right after shaving has often made my underarms feel like fire pits. MED e TATE Wipes are Hypoallergenic, non-irritating, non-comedogenic and oil, fragrance, dye, paraben, gluten and phthalate free.

Shower At The Gym? You Need These

Binchotan Facial Cleansing Mask – This 3-in-1 face wash is downright magical. It is simultaneously the gentlest yet deepest cleansing wash I’ve ever used. It also works in 30 seconds flat. And EVERYONE will tell you how amazing your skin looks. Trust me.

Alchimie Forever Dry Skin Balm – What no one told me about working out was how callused my heels would get. Slathering this balm on them straight out of the shower has really helped. Don’t stop there, though. If you shower in the gym, go ahead and apply this rich balm from the neck down.

Philip Kingsley Try Me Kit – This trio will take up hardly any real estate in your gym bag. Pick the shampoo and conditioner that best suits your hair type; all kits come with the award-winning Elasticizer pre-shampoo treatment. Ready for the best trick EVER? Apply Elasticizer pre-workout, then throw your hair up in a ponytail. Elasticizer will help keep your hair in check and the increased body heat will help the product work better. BOOM. Easiest multitasking you’ll ever do.

By: Claire McCormack, Twitter & Instagram

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Minimizing Static Hair & Hat Hair

minimizing static hair hat hair

Three amazing phenomena of hair (and I could name many!) are its electrical properties, insulation potential and ability to change shape with the addition of heat and/or water. Sadly, however, these also mean the occurrence of static flyaways and horrendously frustrating hat hair. No one is immune, but from my many years of experience, both personally and from helping my clients, I have accumulated useful methods of minimizing their occurrence.

Static Hair

Hair is trybo-electric i.e. it generates electricity from rubbing or friction. In this way, strands can accumulate electricity over a period of time and eventually fly away from one another; similar to what happens when you try to push two magnets of the same charge together. The amount of charge your hair generates will depend on how clean your hair is, if it is wet or dry and also the climate around you. For instance, dry air and higher altitudes usually worsen it. The best way to reduce static is to keep your hair clean and to use a leave-in lightweight conditioning styling cream that clings to the hair shaft, reducing friction between the hairs and therefore the build-up of electricity. I in fact formulated both my Preen Cream (for finer hair) and Smooth Cream (for coarser hair) with this in mind, and they reduce fly-aways as well as add shine. Using an anti-static comb or brush will also go a long way in preventing rogue wisps.

Hat Hair

Hats cause your scalp to sweat, and the resulting moisture causes the hair underneath to change shape and then set in place. Depending on the shape and size of your hat, your hair’s natural form, and just how hot your head gets, this dishevelment can range from a few kinks to a full-blown bad hair day. Add static electricity to the mix and you have an even bigger issue. To deal with the fly-aways, use the methods I described above. Sadly, hat hair is never 100% avoidable, but there are some very good products you can use to quickly re-shape you hair into a more pleasing style. Carry around a good quality dry shampoo in your handbag and, when hat hair strikes, economically spray into your roots, leave for a few minutes and then brush through. This will remove excess moisture and will also re-vitalise body. I make one called One More Day that, as well as all the aforementioned benefits, soothes the scalp of itching. You can also use a weatherproof hairspray or froth or Daily Damage Defence before wearing a hat to minimize frizz.

Alternatively, and my daughter likes to do this, go for the Audrey Hepburn look and simply place your hair into a smooth bun, then set and add gloss with a finishing serum, such as Minimizer.

General Advice

In both cases, keeping your hair in good condition will improve how it fares during the winter. Hair that is snapping and damaged will always appear frizzier as the shorter, broken strands will stick out in varying places. Once a week, use a pre-shampoo conditioner, like Elasticizer, and apply a post-shampoo conditioner for your hair texture every time you shampoo.

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Best European Toothpaste Brands

best toothpaste to buy when traveling

As a child, I traveled a great deal with my parents, mostly to Europe, the Caribbean and Middle East. Whenever we arrived at our destination, the first thing my mother would do was take my brother and I to the local pharmacy (or pharmacie). Whether we were in Tel Aviv, Paris, St. Barths, Berlin or Florence, somehow my mother always knew which pharmacy was the best. These outings felt like an adventure: The pharmacies overseas were different from those in New York City. They were fancy and old world and I loved them.

It Was All About the Toothpaste

I was always fascinated by the toothpaste. Each country had different colored and shaped packaging, with writing in different languages that made them seem so much more special than tubes of Aim, Crest or Colgate. My mother would buy 5 or 6 tubes each of several different brands to take home. In fact, I don’t remember a time when we had American toothpaste in the house. I usually brushed with brands like Elgydium, Elmex, Tayadent and Inaden. (At that time you could not purchase Elgydium in the U.S.)

Banish Hairy-feeling Teeth for Good

These exotic toothpastes contain ingredients that have successfully helped me defeat that morning hairy-feeling teeth phenomenon. Not literally hairy. You know the feeling – you wake up with your teeth feeling coated in gunk yet after you brush they don’t feel all that clean. They feel cleaner, but still a little hairy.

Each Toothpaste Has Its Own Specialty

Elgydium, from France, makes a whitening or Blancheur version, as well as one for sensitive teeth and gums. Elmex, from Germany, makes a sensitive formula as well but also has a special travel kit with a handy dandy put-it-together-yourself toothbrush. It is incredibly charming! Inaden hails from Greece with a uniquely minty flavor. Tayadent is an Israeli two-in-one toothpaste and mouth wash that comes in a plastic triangle-like box…in liquid form. It suds up like soap in your mouth! You have never seen anything like it. Many Israelis make fun of me for liking this toothpaste; they would rather best toothpaste from overseasuse Colgate or Crest. But again, this is another toothpaste that banishes that not so fresh, hairy teeth feeling. If you really want to boost the efficacy of these babies and pack an extra fresh punch, use a Binchotan Toothbrush (Its infused with Binchotan Charcoal from Japan). Spray a schpritz or two of Vine’s Negative Ion Care Water on the toothbrush and squeeze some toothpaste on top. You won’t believe how clean your entire mouth will feel.

Insider Travel Toothpaste Tip

Most full size toothpaste is actually TSA travel size. Remember any product that is 3.4 fl oz or 100 ml or less is technically travel size. Most toothpaste tubes are 75 ml or less.

Everyone Wants What They Can’t Have

I guess everyone longs for exotic, hard-to-find products from overseas. The grass just always seems greener on the other side of the ocean, and if brushing with toothpaste from around the world makes me feel a little more special, well, aren’t I a lucky girl!

By: Alyssa Barrie Weiss, Twitter: @AlyssaBarrie

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Health Benefits Of Infrared Saunas

Infrared Sauna Health Benefits

I love me some sauna. And when I go in, I go hard. I stay in as long as I can tolerate, and happily spend hours doing a sauna—steam room—cold shower circuit. This ritual doesn’t happen nearly enough for my liking, though.

Here in the U.S., saunas are considered a special treat—a luxury. In many other parts of the world, however, saunas are an integral part of life (there’s basically a sauna for every household in Finland!). Unfortunately for me and my fellow sauna-obsessed Americans, stateside sauna use is reserved for spa days.

Now, if the Higher Dose team has its way, all that will change. And they don’t just want us all sauna more often, they want us all to experience the (heat) wave of the future. Higher Dose’s mission is “to bring the benefits of infrared therapy to health, fitness and yoga”, and I think they’re onto something. Cool-girl yoga spots around New York City are installing Higher Dose’s infrared technology in their studios for the ultimate “hot yoga” classes…wellness meccas like the The Herban Alchemist and Gravity East Village are installing infrared saunas on site for clients’ use and well-respected wellness companies are even installing them in their offices. Just ask Sakura Life, who are elated with their decision to take the in-office infrared plunge.

Intrigued? So was I. I was fortunate enough to experience both and an Infrared Hot Yoga class at Y7 Studio and an infrared sauna session at Gravity East Village. Read on to discover what infrared technology is and why the entire wellness community is feeling the burn.

What is Infrared?

Higher Dose’s patented infrared technology combines full spectrum infrared with clay and carbon/ceramic heaters. Each element in this system boasts its own specific benefits, and they all combine to create a wellness wonder product. Higher Dose uses full spectrum (near, mid and far) infrared, as each type is beneficial in its own way. Near infrared waves penetrate the epidermis, making them optimal for skin rejuvenation, wound healing and overall skin health. Mid infrared wavelengths are beneficial for increasing circulationmimicking the benefits of a passive workout. Regular use of mid range infrared saunas has even been shown to significantly stimulate blood flow, even after the sauna session is completed. (This means you’ll still be reaping the benefits of your sauna sesh when you get home and binge watch Peaky Blinders.)

As the name suggests, far infrared waves have the longest frequency, allowing them to penetrate deep into human tissue. Unlike traditional heat, infrared heat directly warms your body to the core, even though infrared saunas are set at a lower temperature that traditional saunas. In a traditional sauna, you sit in a hot (180-220 degrees) room, and get super-sweaty. In an infrared sauna, the heat (about 150 degrees) heats your body directly, with only 20% of the heat warming the air. Your body absorbs this infrared heat and reacts to it by raising your core temperature. This results in a deep, detoxifying sweat from the cellular level of the skin, where many toxins and heavy metals hide out and accumulate.

Infrared Sauna review

Then there’s the clayyay! From Amazonian to Australian White, clay in its many forms is a long time skincare superstar. If you’re like me, you have a favorite clay mask (or three) you slather on when your pores need decongesting. As part of an infrared sauna system, however, clay does so much more than unclog pores. The clay cleanses and purifies the sauna air, protecting against germs and environmental stressors. It gets to work internally, too: The clay increases the flow of oxygen to the brain, grounds and balances the nervous system, speeds up the oxidation of serotonin, helps the body more efficiently absorb and use oxygen (by emitting negative ions), strengthens the immune system andclay it ain’t soimproves metabolism. Holla!

The last component is a carbon/ceramic combo heater. Combined, this duo produces long wave infrared waves with a high infrared output. This heat penetrates deeper into your body and is more readily absorbed.

I’d be remiss not to mention the gorgeous, fragrant cedar of which the sauna is made. Saunas have long been constructed from cedar, and for good reason: cedar contains aromatic oils known for their healing, cleansing and naturally antibacterial properties, which aid in detoxification during your sauna sesh.

Why is Infrared SO GOOD?

Simply put, Infrared makes you look and feel your best. Far infrared heat provides all the healthy benefits of natural sunlight without any of its dangerous side effects. As infrared heat raises your core body temperature, it stimulates your lymphatic and immune systems. Your body’s response is to sweat profusely. This ain’t just any sweat: Sweat induced from infrared heat is comprised of 20% toxins, whereas sweat induced from traditional heating systems is comprised of only 3% toxinsmaking infrared 7x more detoxifying than traditional heat. How? The far infrared heat causes the water in our bodies “vibrate”, releasing more toxins than regular heat does. This is why far infrared is optimal for detoxification, weight loss and blood pressure reduction.

Even though this all sounds intense, the infrared panels are actually less aggressive than a traditional heating system. While conventional heat is an unnatural process, infrared heat mimics the sun. “Think hot, smoggy Miami heat vs. a fresh, sunny day.” says Higher Dose Co-Founder, Lauren Berlingeri. (I’ll take the latter, thanks!)

Up in the Sauna

As stated above, I love saunas, so I was thrilled to try the infrared sauna at Gravity East Village (where I’d been before for colonics). Gravity East Village is a low-key wellness center run by the knowledgeable and passionate Donna Perrone. Your sauna session is solo, which is great because you can get nekkid (the only way to sauna, IMHO). They give you a towel to sit on and another softer chamois-type cloth to wipe your face with. YOU WILL BE USING THIS CLOTH.

GEV’s unit is equipped with different colored lights for light therapy as well as speakers so you can listen to spa music, if you’re so inclined. The recommend session length is 30 minutes, butalpha female that I amI went for 40. I can see why they recommend 30, though. For those last 10 minutes, I had to put down my magazine and just be in my sauna experience. I was sweating so profusely that, logistically, holding and/or looking at a magazine no longer worked…it was soaked! But you know what? I loved every sweaty second of it. It was intense, yet relaxing…and after, I felt invigorated, rather than so relaxed I’m almost sleepyhow I usually feel post-sauna.

After the Sauna

Once I toweled off, my skin didn’t have the gross, sticky feeling it usually does after a major schvitz session. This was great, since there’s no shower at GEV. There is a bathroom next to the sauna where you can freshen up, however. (Speaking of bathroomsTMI alert: When I peed right after my sauna sesh, it was super dark and…pungent. Coincidence? I think not. Later, toxins!)

I came prepared with Mio Skincare and Ursa Major Wipes. Next time I’ll also bring a bottle of Vine Minus Ion Care Water. I brought a hydrating mist with me, which was great, but the extra antibacterial boost provided by Vine would have been clutch after all that sweating. I was pleasantly surprised when I looked in the mirror after my session. Instead of my skin looking super red and flushed, it looked healthy and glowy. Since any makeup I had on melted off within about 10 minutes in the sauna, I thought for sure I’d need to reapply before I faced the world…but I didn’t. I combed my eyebrows, put on lip balm and walked out the door.

It’s important to rehydrate after the sauna (and really, to walk into the sauna hydrated as well). They recommend coconut water, but I prefer green juice (also recommended). Luckily there is a Juice Press just a few blocks away from GEV, so I downed a Mother Earth, and got on the train home feeling healthy AF.

By: Claire McCormack, Twitter & Instagram

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