Thursday, December 27, 2007
What can be a better way for a Type A beauty addict to celebrate Christmas than a SPA weekend. I have the sweetest husband who surprised me with a SPA weekend in the Italian-Swiss Riviera for Christmas (and a year-long ELLE subscription in addition!). Being an American, my hubby has a natural talent for getting great deals and upgrades so we enjoyed a lot of add-ons to our reservation. Here is my review of the trip and on two Swiss SPA hotels.
On 24 December we headed to Lugano, the main city of The Tessin, the Italian speaking part of Switzerland. It was a bit of a discovery SPA trip as we stayed at two Lugano hotels with SPA facilities. Both hotels are located on a breathtakingly beautiful Lugano Lake.
First we checked out The Grand Hotel Eden located a 10 minute-walk from downtown Lugano and situated right on the Lugano Lake. The name speaks for itself! It was truly Grand. We got an upgrade to a room with a Lake View which was absolutely fascinating and hypnotizing. The view gives you a feeling of flying over the lake and you simply cannot take your eyes away. The room’s interior was nice but nothing too striking. I also have to mention another nice detail: we received a complimentary plate of traditional Christmas Swiss delights (sweets, cookies, traditional Italian cake Panettone and nuts) and a basket of fruit.
Normally room fee includes the use of hotel’s spa facilities such as a beautiful heated indoor swimming pool, sauna, steam bath and Jacuzzi. For an additional fee you can get various beauty treatments. Hotel staff were absolutely 5-star attentive and the atmosphere created at the spa was most relaxing and comfortable. Bottled water and green tea were always available for re-hydration, as well as healthy snacks such as almond nuts together with unhealthy but so right for Christmas traditional cookies. This was an amazing retreat from the cold and gloomy Zurich winter and stresses of everyday life. Got me totally relaxed! The only remark I have to make that when guest leave the spa area to go to their room they have to go through an unheated corridor which I found a bit uncomfortable.
To keep the wonderful relaxed feeling for the longest time possible we decided not to venture out into the cold Lugano night but to continue Xmas splurging and went to the hotel restaurant for dinner. The cuisine was more French than Italian. The quality of food and service were excellent. What made the experience even more special was the panoramic view over the lake with Lugano lights reflecting on its glassy surface.
Next morning after a rich Christmas buffet breakfast accompanied by a fairytale lake view and served in a somewhat chilly breakfast room we headed to our next destination - Swiss Diamond Hotel. Swiss Diamond is a truly luxury hotel located 15 minutes’ drive from Lugano near the medieval village of Marcote. We have already stayed at Swiss Diamond so we knew what to expect: everything from service to facilities is top-quality. We got an upgrade to a Lake View Room (hotel has 2 types of rooms: with mountain view – smaller and somewhat darker, and with lake view – much bigger, brighter and decorated just like a small palace). My husband booked an “I Prefer SPA” package for us so we had a massage included into our fee. After booking our massage treatments we headed to the SPA area that includes: Hammam, Steam Bath, Sauna, Jacuzzi and Swimming Pool. Drinking water and apples were available to keep you hydrated and for a vitamin-charged snack.
Massage was a very nice experience and took place at a separate Beauty Salon area decorated to create a feeling of a medieval Italian village. Rooms and corridors were made to look like Italian villas and had house numbers and names, painted pillars, statues, and pictures of relaxing Roman Gods. The salon had a relaxation area with a lake view. Nice meditation music was softly playing in the background. Swiss Diamond Beauty SPA Salon offers a lot of packages and beauty treatments: starting from facials and finishing with SPA and Beauty Week-Long offers.
In the evening we decided to go and see what was going on in Marcote at Christmas. That was a big mistake. We definitely underestimated the importance of Christmas day and family to Italians. Marcote was a ghost town and we were the only ones walking its streets in the dark at 7 p.m in the evening, our steps echoing from the medieval walls of the town and dying away in its winding streets.
Back to the hotel, we were faced with no other choice but another splurge on a 5-star restaurant dinner. Well, it’s Christmas night after all! And this way I can review the restaurant as well. Swiss Diamond Hotel Restaurant Panorama is located on the 6th floor and is open for winter period. In summer an open restaurant on the lake is available for guests. Swiss Diamond Hotel's Restaurant Panorama creates a feeling of a stage performance where you are a queen or a king having a dinner in your castle. Waiters are like actors moving gracefully around the tables, attending to any need even before it arises and magically refilling your glass of water so that you never notice. Cuisine is an unusual mix of Swiss, Italian and French. For example my husband’s dish included deer sirloin with blueberry sauce, accompanied by, baked pear with cranberries (I believe), mushrooms, spaetzli (traditional Swiss pasta-like garnish) and sauerkraut. Mine was a Mediterranean style Seafood Grill with various vegetables which I would recommend to any fan of seafood.
This was the best winter retreat ever and the greatest way to celebrate Christmas.
For more reviews on Lugano Hotels as well as other Swiss Hotels and destinations check out our website Europe Travel.
Sunday, December 16, 2007
Product Tag Line:
“Every morning, soft, perfectly clean skin, and a fresh, glowing complexion”
Product Profile in short:
(as described on Sisley Website)
“Rich in natural botanical extracts and essential oils, Buff and Wash Facial Gel cleanses skin, removing in a single step the surface dead cells and impurities which dull the complexion”
What’s Inside: Close-up: How active are the active ingredients?
Natural botanical extracts (Poppy)
Essential oils (Verbena and Lavender)
Glycerin - a humectant, attracts water to epidermis
Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein (HVP) - vegetable protein that has been broken down into its component amino acids. HVP has conditionaing effect on the skin but is also widely used as flavor enhancer in food products
Silk Amino Acid – Derived from secretion of silkworm, has anti-oxidant and water-binding (moisturizing) properties
PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil - polyethylene glycol naturally derived from castor oil. Can be used as a thickening agent as well as an emulsifier and surfactant
Polyethylene – these are the exfoliating particles
Citrus Medica Limonium Fruit Extract - Lemon Fruit Extract is an astringent, reduces irritation and oiliness, has toning, cell stimulating and anti-bacterial properties
Propylene Glycol – humectant and emulsification agent
Papaver Rhoeas Extract – Corn Poppy Extract, emollient and a soothing agent
Carbomer - emulsion stabilizer
Towards the end of the list we find Lavender Oil – balances skin, stimulates cellular growth and regeneration
Litsea Cubeba Fruit Oil - has antiseptic and astringent properties
finishing up with a couple Parabens - commonly used preservatives which according to FDA are safe.
Close-up: How active are the active ingredients?
So as I can see Buff and Wash Gel contains a number of moisturizing, conditioning and astringent ingredients. A couple of astringents are responsible for the look of tighter pores. It definitely is quite mild and balancing. I could find only one ingredient that was mentioned by some sources to have surfactant properties (ability to “dissolve” oil and remove dirt from surfaces).
Texture: very nice gel like with a less concentration of exfoliating particles than normally in scrubs
Smell: extremely light natural herbal smell, you just feel like inhaling it over and over again (which is actually great to improve blood circulation in the skin)
I use very small amount and massage the Buff and Wash Gel gel onto skin with light circular movement without using to much pressure. (while doing it, enjoy the light and fresh smell) Then I remove it with plenty of water. I like the effect very much: Sisley’s Buff and Wash Gel makes the skin look stimulated, energized, bright and more radiant, pores are tighter and less visible. Skin feels clean and comfortable without any feeling of tightness.
I think Sisley’s Buff and Wash Gel is an amazing product because it actually combines the properties of a washing gel, mechanical exfoliator and a toner. In addition to all this, it is suitable for every-day use!
The only remark I would make is that when I would wash it off with water, no mater how much I try I would still often feel some particles on my skin when applying my moisturizer. However I consider it as a very small discomfort.
Sisley recommends this products for all skin types. I would especially recommend it for those who have dull tired complexion, uneven skin tone due to the slowed down cell turnover, those with oily/ medium oily skin types with visible enlarged pores. Note, those who are cuperose and redness prone should be extremely careful about every-day scrubs. Even though these products are mild, they can potentially worsen cuperose and irritation.
Price can range from 60 to 80$. It is a bit high for a daily use product but the effect can be worth it.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
To get more energy into your under-slept and over-partied body, try drinking a Vitamin C rich fresh juice. Orange, kiwi, blackberry or mango juice will make you feel recharged. You can also take a Vitamin C supplement but be careful not to overdo it, so that you don’t end up with red eyes from allergy.
To energize your body Harper’s Bazar recommends to “oxygenate” it. Try Dr.Andrew Weil’s Stimulating Breath exercise “Inhale and exhale rapidly through your nose, keeping your mouth closed. Keep the breath short – three in-and-outs in one second – and noisy.” (Harper’s Bazar, Dec 07)
THE RADIANCE TEAM
Let’s revive your skin’s healthy complexion, give it a real wake up call. Here are some products you can consider for getting radiance and energy back into your skin.
Serums and Moisturizers:
Makeup artist Lucia Pieroni resorts to a lymphatic-drainage minifacial to give catwalk models a radiant look just before the show. She recommends this facial for the morning but basically it is show-time prep facial. Here is how you do it: put moisturizer on your fingertips, “gently massage the pressure points along the tops of your brows, around the sockets, and across your cheeks. Fan out to the temples and work your way down your neck. Then repeat in circuit.” Takes minutes and gives you a brighter, more radiant and awake look. (Elle, US August 07)
DON'T FORGET PROTECTION
Make sure you apply a powerful antioxidant to protect your skin from smoke and stressful environmental factors at a bar or a club. There are several specially developed products you can consider. Clarins offers Expertise 3P Screen Mist which protects your skin against “Electromagnetic Waves & Urban Pollution”. You spray it over your skin after applying the usual skin care and makeup. The mist contains Rhodiola rosea, White tea and other extracts to build a protective barrier against “artificial electromagnetic waves”, “indoor and outdoor urban pollution.”
Another product with a similar idea is Ecological Compound from Sisley. It protects your skin “against environmental stresses (pollution, cigarette smoke, UV rays)”. In addition, it prepares your skin for the benefits of your usual skin care products, improves skin’s tone and suppleness.
If after all the efforts you still see signs of tiredness, you can strategically apply your makeup to erase the last traces of the night before. Here are some wonderful tricks featured in Elle (US July o7) and InStyle Magazine (US Dec 06):
Liven Up Your Complexion
* Add some color:
- apply a tiny bit of self-tanner to your face OR
- brush matte bronzing powder “over the high points of your face”
- avoid orangey shades (can reinforce sallowness) and shimmery powders (can look sweaty)
* Wear blush:
- go with warm colors, for example - peach or salmon cream blush.
*Erase the tired look and get an additional lifting effect:
-Makeup artist Jennifer Daranyi dusts Shu Uemura Peach 42 blush beneath the eyes and across the T-zone which “helps lift the area” (Elle, US July 07)
- Makeup artist Jo Strettell recommends “blending a luminizing concealer into the crease above the chin, between brows, on tear ducts, around nostrils and in the laugh lines above the mouth” to eliminate the shadows and get a rested look. (InStyle, US Dec 06)
“Open-up” Your Eyes:
* Get an arch:
- give your eyebrows a tweeze and a brush. Creating a nice arch will make you look more awake and bring attention to your eyes
- to get a brighter, more prominent and more open eye, curl your lashes as close to lash line as possible, then curl again in the middle. Recommended by makeup artist Troy Surratt (InStyle, US Dec 06)
* Offset redness:
- line inner eye rims with a light nude eye pencil to offset redness
* Go with warm colors:
- wear warm brown eye shadows to wake up your eyes
-“Avoid smoky eyes when you are tired,” recommends makeup artist William Murphy
Add Color Back to Lips:
- To disguise pale chapped lips apply gloss with plenty of pigment instead of a lipstick. “Bright pink is an instant pick-me-up.” recommends makeup artist Mally Roncal (InStyle, US Dec 06)
HELPERS IN YOUR PURSE
Help your skin to look fresh, radiant and smooth through the whole night out. Here are some products you can take to a party for a quick touch up.
Midnight Star from Guerlain. This product comes in small capsules. You can just slip one into your bag for an express beauty treatment. It also provides powerful protection against free radicals. Can be applied over makeup.
Super Aqua-Day Cooling Facial Stick from Guerlain can be applied over make up for a refreshed look and sensation
Moisture Surge Face Spray from Clinique refreshes and moisturizes
Vichy Thermal SPA Water Spray provides soothing and refreshing effect.
Try to keep to pure drinks. They cause a bit less problems than multi-coloured sugar and artificial flavors charged cocktails
Oh, and don’t forget that anti-aging advice Dr.Brandt once gave at LiveWith Regis and Kelly Show: “Don’t use straws to drink your liquids… The pursing activity, when you use a straw, will cause wrinkles around your mouth.” Well, I think if you drink so many cocktails that you are starting to develop wrinkles around your lips, you might need to start worrying about something else but straws!
Read First Part of the Guide for tips on how to deal with the-morning-after-symptoms: relieve puffiness, get rid of eye bags, red blotches and sooth irritation.
Saturday, December 8, 2007
So you have a lot of friends, get many party invitations and are a passionate party-goer? This definitely involves keeping long hours and indulging in delicious cocktails as well as smoking more cigarettes than usual or subjecting your skin to that second-hand smoke at clubs and bars. Such treatment will not go unnoticed by your skin. Dull complexion, pale skin color, irritation, red patches or even broken capillaries can become your everyday enemies for the holidays. You will need some extra strategies and fix-it techniques to keep your skin looking healthy and radiant through the whole party season.
The Morning After:
Afraid to look into the mirror? Your skin is stressed after too little sleep and too many martinis but tonight or tomorrow is another party, so you need to revive it in almost no time. As model and actress Cheryl Tiegs once said “There are days I feel beautiful and days I don't, and when I don't, I do something about it.”
Lack of sleep and too much alcohol cause your body to retain water. To fight after-party morning puffiness dermatologist Dr.Frederic Brandt recommends to apply a cold compress onto the skin for about 10 minutes. You can soak a towel in ice cold water and press it to your face: “this constricts blood vessels and there’s less fluid accumulation”. (In Style, US Dec 06)
If your skin is not only puffy but also looks red and irritated, sooth it and bring down the swelling by making a similar compress but with very cold milk. Make-up artist Kristofer Buckle uses this express method for an early morning skin treatment. He explains: “Milk proteins reduce redness and the cold takes down the swelling” (Elle, US July 07). If the flushing and irritation persist, NYC dermatologist Francesca J. Fusco recommends to suck on an ice cube. “Receptors on the roof of the mouth respond to cold by constricting blood vessels,” she explains. (In Style, US Sept.06)
Get rid of your eye bags. Experts at In Style recommend to relieve the puffiness by placing potato slices over eyes or to brew two packets of black tea, cool them down and place on your eye lids for 10 minutes. (In Style US Dec 06) Caffeine contained in tea will tighten skin in the eye area and help to take away the puffiness. What I would add to this is make sure to use just black unflavored tea and be careful not to let it get into your eyes.
You can also use some specially developed products with caffeine, such as
For a finishing de-puffing touch massage your eye cream in with several anti-clockwise circles.
Dark circles under your eyes are a much bigger challenge. You won’t be able to make those disappear and will have to apply your concealer smartly. But there is still something you can do. Experts say that dark circles are genetic. However age and free radical damage resulting in capillary leaks contribute to the shade and deepness of eye circles. Vitamin K and Arnica are believed to strengthen capillaries and to help you disperse bruising. Vitamin K and Arnica come as a supplement or as an ingredient in an eye creams. Drink a lot of water to help your kidneys purify the body. According to some experts “stressed kidneys can cause under-eye shadows”. (Glamour, UK Dec 06)There are some products specially developed to fight dark circles. For example: Talika Eye Detox Purifying Capsules - a supplement that promises to help fight dark circles and eye puffiness by improving “lymphatic and vascular system located in the eye contour area”. To increase effectiveness of this product, Talika recommends to use it together with Talika Eye Contour Gel which fights eye bags and dark rings with the help of such ingredients as proteins of sweet white lupine, proteins of sweet almond, cornflower water and extract of horse chestnut.
MORE SOOTHING SOLUTIONS
Invest in a couple emergency products for your after-party recovery in advance. Here are some products for your consideration:
Quick helpers against irritation:
GO EASY ON PEELING
Save your skin additional stress from peeling. If temptation is too strong because you just cannot stand the dull colour of your skin, go with milder exfoliating products. Some of them are mild enough for everyday use.
TAKE IT EASY AND DETOXIFY
To stimulate cleansing of the lymphatic system, help your body get rid of toxins, and improve microcirculation, do a 20-second dry brushing before you step into the shower.
To further stimulate your skin and the lymphatic system apply body moisturizer with massaging movements (long sweeping strokes and circular movements) always moving upwards and towards your heart.
It is not recommended to stress your body after the night of the party with a work out even though you might start feeling those martinis and canapés building up around your waist.
What to drink:
Start your day with a liver cleansing drink of hot water and grated ginger. You can also add a bit of honey to stabilize your blood sugar.
Harper’s Bazar recommends Milk Thistle as the “first aid for over partied liver”. It is available as a supplement or as a drink. And of course to counteract the dehydrating effect of alcohol drink a lot of water in the course of the day. (Harper’s Bazar, Dec 07)
What to eat:
Don’t start snacking on junk food or sweet Christmas treats this will only distress your already misbalanced blood sugar level and stomach. Go with healthy choices of fresh or cooked vegetables, fruit and lean protein. BBC.co.uk and Harper’s Bazar recommend an egg fry-up or grill-up with some mushrooms, tomatoes and meat as an excellent “sustained-energy pick-me-up”. According to an article featured on the BBC website, this dish is also rich in amino acid, cystein, “which is thought to be good at clearing out toxins”.
If you don’t have to go to work this day, take a nap to help your body regain the energy. You need just 20-30 minutes to give your body an energy recharge.
Read Second Part of Socialite's Survival Guide to Beautiful Skin for tips on how to get energy and radiance back into your skin, camouflage tiredness (tips from pros), while-at-party tips and products.
Some useful tips on how to get your skin ready for the party in a matter of couple weeks.
Sunday, December 2, 2007
BBC reports that by blocking a specific protein related to the processes of ageing scientists achieved the effect of age-reversal in mice.
The protein in question is NF-kappa-B. It regulates a number of genes responsible for ageing processes in our body and makes these genes to be more or less active.
Incredible rejuvenating results were achieved by blocking this protein in older mice for two weeks. Their skin became thicker and “more cells appeared to be dividing, much like the skin of a younger mouse.” In addition the skin appeared to have similar genetic characteristics to the skin of newborn mice.
However don’t get too excited about the opportunity to reverse the aging process and to have skin of a newborn forever. It is extremely complicated to manipulate genes. By controlling certain genes, one can achieve positive results in one aspect but at the same time undermine other important and vital functions in a human body. For example NF-kappa-B “has also been implicated in cancer and regulation of the immune system”. As Dr Chang, lead researcher from the Stanford School of Medicine in California, explains: "You might get a longer lifespan but at the expense of something else." Currently, scientists are intending to use the results of the research to improve healing in older patients and they emphasize that the treatment will be short-term.
Source BBC News