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My Remodeling Facial Treatment at Yasmine Djerradine Institut de Beauté Spa

best facial NYC

First Impressions

Your first trip to Yasmine Djerradine Institut de Beauté can be a curious thing…a bit like entering a secret club. You walk through a building lobby to a plain white door that in no way belies the oasis waiting for you behind it.

A Beauty Haven

But an oasis it is. The Moroccan-themed skin care mecca is a lush, intimate space filled with hanging lanterns, exquisite tile work and some of the best facialists in town. I saw Lilly for a 90 minute Remodeling Facial, the spa’s hallmark treatment. In the immaculate treatment room I was given a stylish pinstriped robe to change into, a welcome departure from the plush housewife-type usually given at spas. Lilly pulled my hair back in a headband and got to work.

The Treatment

A staple of spa facials is steaming to open pores and ready skin for extractions. Yasmine Djerradine Institut de Beauté skips the steam, though, as it can be too much for more sensitive or reactive skin types. Instead, Lilly cleaned my face and then applied Biologique Recherche’s purifying Mask Vivant to my face, mixed with a bit of baking soda. Can a mask adequately replace steaming, you ask? Oui! Mask Vivant is a probiotic mask packed with live yeast extracts, amino acids and Vitamin B. It deeply cleanses pores and dissolves blackheads. A few minutes in the mask and my pores were open and extraction-ready.

A Note On The Top Notes

A personal preference that was pleasantly appeased during my treatment was the overall olfactory experience. I’ve long abhorred super perfumy-flowery scented skin care. I’ve always felt that putting fake-smelling schmutz on clean skin was akin to dirtying my skin up again. The scents of the products used at Yasmine Djerradine Spa are the antithesis of that fake-floral. They smelled clean, earthy…almost medicinal. This may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I loved it. Even the lotion Lilly used for my shoulder massage (more on that in a bit) was very lightly scented.

Ex-Squeeze Me

Lilly’s extraction technique was gentle yet thorough. She used lancets, a comedone extractor, and of course her fingertips. However, when she squeezed a spot, it wasn’t the usual long, hard squeeze that many facialists use to get all of the gunk (technical term) out. Rather, she administered several small, quick squeezes. This gentler approach left my pale skin less red than it usually is post-facial. As I mentioned, Lilly also gave me a wonderful shoulder massage. This is always welcome as I hold nearly all of my tension between my shoulder blades.

Electric Youth

With the deep cleansing done, it was time for the remodeling. If you’ve never had a remodeling facial, it is thus called because it uses electric current to revitalize, reshape and tone the muscles and skin of the face, as well as activate circulation. It’s totally painless; in fact, this portion of the facial was so relaxing I fell asleep for most of it! Unlike the metal prongs used in other microcurrent facials, the machine Lilly used was equipped with thick, round sponges. Lilly massaged my face continuously with these, concentrating on the contour of my jaw, around my eyes, etc. Because she was constantly massaging my face with the pads, it was very soothing…hypnotic, really! The result was more pronounced bone structure, reduced puffiness and a youthful glow. Magnifique!

Imparted Wisdom

While complimenting me on the overall condition of my skin, Lilly did say I was “congested” around my nose and chin. Go tell it on the mountain – I’ve been dealing with that for decades! She offered some new advice on this old problem, however: Don’t use a moisturizer with SPF in it as the first layer you put on your skin. The SPF will clog your pores, leading to congestion. She advised applying a moisturizer without SPF first, so it would lay between my skin and the sunscreen, therefore preventing the SPF from clogging my pores. Good to know!

Parting Gift

Though she asked me what products I currently use on my skin, there was no hard sell at the end of my treatment. Though I appreciated this, I’ve yet to leave a facial empty-handed, so I made sure to pick up the Biologique Recherche cult favorite, P50V. This is the toner to end all toners that skin-savvy sisters across the globe are gaga over. I already love mist toners like Vine’s Care Water and Institut Esthederm’s Eau Cellulaire, so I thought it wise to add a more astringent-type toner to my collection.

If you are looking for a special treat for yourself or another, or a solid surgery and injectable-avoidance strategy, the Remodeling Facial at Yasmine Djerradine Institut de Beauté will not disappoint.

Best Lipstick Colors & Tips from Celebrity Makeup Expert M.B. York

best lipstick colors and tips

Everyone can relate to the challenge of finding the perfect lipstick color. It is next to impossible, which is why many women mix 2 or 3 together to get the right shade. Some unknowingly just wear the wrong shade. As an opinionated professional makeup artist, I must say that very few women wear a flattering shade of lipstick. A major part of the problem is there aren’t many truly flattering shades out there, and there are too many available that shouldn’t be worn by anyone.

Finding the Right Shade of Lipstick

I constantly scour stores and beauty counters to find what I think is a great universal color that I would go to first for both myself and my clients. Unfortunately, I usually can’t find one! If I do find one I like, more often than not it ends up being really drying, or looks totally different once I get out of the department store lighting and see it in real light. So what is my idea of a perfect lipstick color? Something like a rosy-bronze-blush color that works with and balances out your other makeup colors.

Don’t get me wrong, there is a case for a bright red or fuchsia lip – and that would be New Year’s Eve or a black tie/red carpet event. I am talking about a color you can wear everyday, that works with almost everything in your wardrobe and makes you look beautiful and natural. We all know that the wrong lipstick can be as bad as the wrong haircut and can certainly age you by 10 years.

A Word About Dark Brown & Deep Burgundy

Unless you’re Lorde (remember, she’s under 18), there’s no reason for any woman to wear dark brown or deep burgundy lipstick – especially as she gets older. It looks too harsh and accentuates any fine lines around the lip area. This is a trend I see often in NYC, and the women wearing it seem stressed and angry! Their dark brown lips just amplify the harsh energy. When I see this, I can’t help but think how much a lighter lipstick would change their life! Or at least change how others perceive them.

Keep It Light and Simple

My best selling lipstick color is a pinky-peachy-bronze that is truly the perfect compliment to all skin tones. I will sometimes add a pink champagne gloss on top for added highlight. Any woman I put it this combo on buys it- or their husband buys it as a gift!

Men especially love how I do make up. They often tell their wives to go back and buy everything I put on them. That is because I do lighter, softer colors that make women look younger.

It is amazing how 5 minutes and a few strokes of the right makeup colors can transform a woman’s face. There is nothing more gratifying to me than seeing how happy I can make someone in such a short amount of time. We all want to look beautiful and makeup is the easiest way to make tiny adjustments that can take off years from your look!

5 More Steps to Getting a Great Night’s Sleep: Sleep Strategies Part 2

5 sleep strategies to get you to sleep

If you’re still burning the midnight oil in spite of Tuesday’s tips, don’t worry! I have more sleep strategies to share!

Drown Yourself in White Noise

You may be reading this from a rural sanctuary, where you are lulled to sleep each night by a chorus of crickets. If so, good for you! But for my fellow city dwellers, you know the relentless noises of a metropolis can keep you up, and often even wake you from a sound sleep! A white noise machine (a loud fan works, too) will help drown out noises that would otherwise startle you awake or keep you awake. I prefer ones that sound like swooshing air, but you can download white noise apps for your phone or tablet that have several different sleep soundtracks. Choose the one that best entrances you!

Clear the Air

Invest in an air purifier with a negative ion setting. Purportedly, negative ions have myriad positive effects on us psychologically and physically. I can’t really speak to that, but I can say that breathing freely has made it infinitely easier for me to fall asleep – and I’m not even a serious allergy sufferer. All the dirty little bits floating in the air around us can irritate even the stoutest of us, so an air purifier can benefit everyone. For serious allergy sufferers, I would say it’s close to a necessity. It really does purify the air – I was shocked at how “clean” my room smelled within a few hours of switching it on! I keep my house clean as a whistle, so I didn’t realize it didn’t smell as fresh as possible until the air purifier made it smell like my dentist’s office. Added bonus? It doubles as white noise machine!

Rescue Sleep Spray

I cannot say enough good things about Dr. Bach’s flower remedy products. Rescue Sleep is made specifically to help you- you guessed it- fall asleep. And it works! Just two sprays on your tongue are all you need – like a bedtime Binaca. Dr. Bach’s products are totally natural, safe and non-habit forming.

STILL Awake?!

You may need to call in the big guns. Valerian root tea is always very effective at knocking me out. But caveat emptor! While Valerian root tea definitely puts me to sleep, it also makes me totally loopy and woozy, so I only use it when I really need to sleep, and once I’ve done everything I need to do that requires clarity of thought or grace of movement. It also has a very strong, almost pungent smell that some people may find too displeasing to tolerate. A supplement I’ve had success with is L-Theanine. I have taken 1-2 150 mg. capsules about 30 minutes before bed. It doesn’t knock me out or make me feel cuckoo, there is just an absence of the usual flashing beeping mental dashboard that keeps me up at night. Caveat emptor: I wouldn’t use this for a prolonged period of times or several days in a row. It seems to put your bowels to sleep – if you know what I mean. I hope these sleep strategies help you get your well-deserved good night sleep so you can look and feel your very best. If you’ve employed any of these sleep strategies, please let us know how they worked for you! And don’t forget…

Fake It Till You Make It

While you’re waiting for one (or all) of these strategies to kick in, you can grab some of my favorite skin care products that approximate the effects of a good night’s sleep. These creams and serums leave me looking dewy and glowing – even when my sleep has been scarce.

Claire McCormack Twitter & Instagram: @clairemcmack

8 Sleeping Strategies to Get A Great Night’s Sleep

travel beauty blog 8 sleeping strategies

There is No Substitute for Sleep

You can’t scroll through your Twitter feed these days without reading an article extolling the scientifically-proven esthetic benefits of a good night’s sleep. We get it! Not even our most beloved creams and serums can recreate what eight solid hours does for our faces. I resent these articles, because like Firefly pose and the perfect cat eye, easily falling asleep is a challenge for me. I also go to bed each night next to a husband who falls asleep so immediately upon getting in bed, I swear he’s hiding an anesthesiologist in the closet. While my husband is snoring up a storm, the wheels in my brain feel like they’re vying for first place in the Tour de France. I feel compelled to ponder the meaning of life, my kids’ educational trajectory and how to get that ink stain out of my favorite Phillip Lim bag. Oy. This is nothing new, either. I’ve been this way as long as I can remember.

Sleep Strategies

Since “accepting the things I cannot change” has never been my forte, I have accumulated several sleep strategies that I think beat counting sheep any day of the week. In the name of looking and feeling beautiful, I share them here with you now. Whether you are battling a temporary bout of insomnia, or are regularly reading at 2 AM, I hope these tactics help deliver you to La La Land.

Commit to a Bedtime Beauty Routine

We’ve all done it – fallen asleep with our makeup on. I have only ever done this out of sheer exhaustion – feeling like I couldn’t possibly stand at the sink for those extra two minutes and wash my face. But what gets me into bed quicker actually ends up keeping me awake longer. Washing my face at night is a matter of integrity for me, so when I don’t do it, I lie there thinking I should have and worrying that I’ll end up in the morning with a huge zit.

Also, when I don’t wash my face, I don’t use any of my fabulous creams and serums that I know make me wake up all dewy and glowing. So an essential step to a good night’s sleep is going to bed with a clean face. For emergency situations, I keep cleansing wipes on my nightstand so I can still do a quick clean, no matter what. After my face is clean, I apply my skin care with a delicate and relaxing touch. I especially like to take a moment to massage my oft-tense temples. Face clean and conscience clear, I find it much easier to fall asleep.

Dim All the Lights

Donna knew what she was singing about! I dim the lights all over the house at least 1 hour before bed. I started doing this once I had kids, as a way to signal to them that it’s wind down time. I’ve found that it works wonders for me as well. My husband and I actually start talking more quietly once we dim the lights! And who needs hundreds of watts to put on PJs anyway?

After 9 PM, I put all dimmers at half-mast so my brain starts to slow down. If you’re reading in bed (I always am), grab a small book light or dim the screen on your tablet to a pale glow.

Permanent Midnight

Once you’re ready to fall asleep, you need total darkness in the bedroom. Physiologically, this helps your body produce melatonin, which then makes us drowsy. I have blackout shades on my bedroom windows. I’ll admit – Elle Decor worthy they are not. BUT, they go right next to the window pane, so they’re easily hidden by a more stylish window treatment.

Next, move any electronics with little charging lights OUT of the bedroom. That orange light on your MacBook may seem like an insignificant speck during the day, but in an otherwise dark room, it can give off quite a stimulating glow. Move anything giving off even a little light to another room while you’re sleeping.

Upadate: I have found the most amazing product that is basically like blackout shades for your eyeballs. This Binchotan Charcoal Eye Mask puts me in the deepest, most restorative sleep I can ever remember experiencing. This is a must-have for any insomniac, party animal and/or anyone that stares at screens for most of the day. (That pretty much covers everyone, right?)

Stay tuned for Part II on Thursday…

Claire McCormack Twitter & Instagram: @clairemcmack

Sunless Self-Tanning Tips from Travel Beauty

travel beauty tips for best self tanning at home

How to Get Your Best Self Tan At Home

Ned Stark warned us that winter is coming…could someone please summon his ghost to find out when, exactly, winter is LEAVING?!?! When you wake up one morning to discover that spring is upon us, will you look like a white walker? Start self-tanning now so you can sport a skirt on the first spring day. Here’s a foolproof plan to get you from ghostly to glowing likety-split.

Keep All Your Supplies In The Shower

We are talking scrub, body oil, body lotion and self-tanner. Apply it in the shower. The result: minimal mess, easy clean up and let’s be honest, you need to be as naked as your name day when slathering on self-tanner.

Don’t Hate…Exfoliate!

I use a body scrub twice a week year round. If you don’t regularly scrub your bod, this is the best time to start! Do it at the beginning of your shower, when skin is damp but not saturated – this helps the scrub to work optimally. If skin isn’t wet enough, the scrub won’t spread across your skin as easily (and can hurt!). If skin is too wet, the granules in the scrub will dissolve before they can really do their best work.

After Your Shower

Remove any excess water from your skin. No need to completely dry off – skin can still be damp. Use a body cream or oil (I use an oil for this) to gently cover knees, elbows, hands (especially in between fingers and palms), ankles and feet. The idea is to cover the places where self-tanner tends to collect, causing not-so-cute concentrated dark spots.

Alright Stop…Tanner Time!

The Travel Beauty Team is devoted to Institut Esthederm Sun Sheen Self-tanner because it is truly foolproof: never streaky and always natural-looking. If you have pale skin (as I do), you may want to ease yourself into self-tanning season by mixing your tanner with a body cream – at least for the first few applications. This allows for a subtler effect that you can build gradually. The new BB and CC creams for body are tailor-made for this task! They have a hint of hue and are designed to perfect skin tone and mask blemishes. They soften the self-tanner just enough to give a light, flawless application, while also providing the moisture your winter-ravaged skin is still craving.

Cover Everything

The tops of your toes, sides of your feet and every part of your skin leading up to your underarm – and don’t forget the backs of your legs. So many parts of the body can be exposed that you may not think of. Better to be safe than sorry.

Don’t Get Caught Tan-handed!

If you covered your hands well with oil or cream, you shouldn’t end up with deep-fried looking fingers. Still, it is important to wash hands thoroughly with soap and water immediately after applying self-tanner. Make sure to clean in between fingers and on the inside of wrists- two spots that are easy to overlook, and therefore easy to look over-tanned. You can even give your hands a quick exfoliation with your scrub if you think they need it.

Make sure product has fully dried before getting dressed so you don’t rub any tanner off on your clothes.

Follow these steps and you’ll be ready to show some skin as soon as The Winds of Winter stop blowing.

By Claire McCormack Twitter & Instagram: @clairemcmack