Cheat Sheets

Unfortunately, there is no simple way to make traveling completely stress-free. No facewash will hold your jacket for you as you’re putting on your shoes and belt on the other side of security. No toner will de-ice the plane any faster. No moisturizer will keep the baby from screaming for all. five. hours. But Clean &Clear’s Oil Absorbing Sheets, available at CVS for $5.79, did make my trip to Boston this past weekend significantly more enjoyable. Between the hassle of security, stale airplane air blowing in my face, and donut or pretzel dog that I’m usually scarfing down during my layover, my skin tends to acquire a greasy sheen to it. That’s why I picked up a pack of these sheets on the way to the airport. Dabbing  just one sheet  on my t-zone, nose, and chin was surprisingly effective in removing the excess oil. It left my face feeling so much lighter and smoother without leaving any patches of dryness. Along with drinking plenty of water, these sheets are the secret to looking effortlessly refreshed after a long day of travel. And when your college roommate or long-distance honey is waiting for you on the other end of your flight, the last thing you want to be thinking about is rushing to wash your face.

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Spa Week (and Spring) is Just Around the Corner!

Breathe…you made it through the winter and spring is just around the corner. (Yes, as I’m writing this, a cold rain is hitting my window and yes, I’m cuddled under a blanket, but I promise it’s coming…really!) It’s time to move the navy blues and greys to the back of the closet, and pull out the yellows and pinks. Time to start thinking about blended drinks and beach weekends. I may be getting a little ahead of myself, but there is no better way to usher in the season of rebirth than by letting the professionals buff away all the dead, dry skin and reveal the healthy layer underneath. When it comes to spa treatments, I am all for saving money and recreating the experience at home with relaxing candles and cucumber mint water. Once in a while though, it is just so nice to slip into the comfy spa robe and slippers and let someone else do the work. I recently booked myself a Signature Massage at an Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa and the whole experience was spectacular–it left my body feeling so awake and refreshed. If it wasn’t so expensive, I would be back once a month. But here is the good news! April 11 – 17 is Spa Week! Participating spas across the country are offering special treatments, including massage, facials, and pedicures for just $50. Not exactly cheap, but so much cheaper than what you would normally pay. Browse through the Spa Week website to find a spa where you live, sign up for giveaways, and browse through their blog. What’s a better way to spend an early spring Saturday than catching up with a girlfriend over brunch and then letting everything melt away for an hour? For less than you probably spend on groceries in a week, that sounds pretty good to me.

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Skinsational Product of the Week: The Grapeseed Company

I am so excited to tell you about this product! As much as I love time-tested companies like Origins and Neutrogena, I also love discovering smaller companies with innovative ideas and unique products. I stumbled upon the website for The Grapeseed Company and was so intrigued by their story. Kristin and Peter founded The Grapeseed Company in 2004 in the wine-rich countryside of Santa Barbara, California. Their products are derived from the byproducts of winemaking, (giving rise to the concept of vinotherapy) and many of the ingredients are organic and local. What is clear from their website is just how much thought they put into every step of making their products, from using aloe juice instead of water (water is more bacteria-friendly), to bottling their products in a color that will help keep the product fresh. This thoughtfulness and commitment to their customers is also evident in their excellent customer service. Kristin recommended that I try their lavender and rose toner when I asked about their products on their blog. When the package arrived, the toner was beautifully wrapped in green tissue paper, and was accompanied by several free samples. Down to a handwritten thank you on the receipt, their attention to detail and care is unmatched. I am absolutely loving this toner! The smell is such a therapeutic blend of florals, and it settles very gently on my skin after I have cleansed and before I apply moisturizer. I am traveling for work at the end of the week and I think this will be just the product to stick in my purse so I can spritz at the end of the flight, when I’m feeling tired and greasy. Pour yourself a glass of merlot and do a little browsing through their products or their blog. Who knew red wine could be good for your heart, your soul, and you skin? I’ll drink to that!

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Have a Nice (Mon)Day

This weekend was the official to start to DC’s Cherry Blossom Festival which means a few things: 1) the tourists are back in full force so be prepared at all times to offer directions; 2) restaurants and shops are putting themed drinks and treats on their menus (I had the most incredible cherry blossom cupcakes from Crumbs on Saturday!) and 3) you’ll be spending more time outside, so you’ll want to be extra sure that you’re applying moisturizer with SPF as part of your morning routine. I like to use SPF products even during the colder weather months to prevent damage from harmful UV rays, so I have quite a few products to recommend, and a few new ones that I’m excited to try this spring! I thought I’d start with one of my absolute favorites, Have a Nice Day from Origins ($37.50). What I love about this moisturizer in particular is that it is perfect for the late winter/early spring transition. Rich in texture, it evens out the dry skin that is left over from winter, while the Titanium Dioxide and Vitamin E protect your skin while you’re sipping a margarita at a patio happy hour or going for an early evening jog to admire the cherry blossoms. I find that many moisturizers with SPF in them make my skin feel a little greasy, but this–like so many Origins products–just feels light and refreshing. And when you start you morning on such a positive note, how can you not Have a Nice Day?

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A Double-Shot for your Eyes

The good news: after an excruciatingly long Thursday (meeting, lunch meeting, meeting, conference call…) Friday is just eight hours and one deadline away. The bad news: the weekend forecast is nothing but a mix of rain and snow. Did March come in like a lamb? Because it is certainly going out like a lion. A cold, wintry lion. I was looking forward to going for a run around the Tidal Basin to mark the official start of the Cherry Blossom Festival, but it looks like it might be more of a read in bed sort of Saturday morning. To brighten up my weekend, I am thinking of picking up some fresh spring flowers along with a loaf of  Atwater’s cranberry pecan or kalamata olive bread at the FRESHFARM farmer’s market in Dupont. To brighten up my eyes before work tomorrow morning, there is one product that I will be reaching for: Origin’s GinZing eye cream ($29.50). Origins is really great about letting you take samples with you, which is how I discovered this product. I had never faithfully used eye cream before, and was a little unsure about where to start, especially since the skin around my eyes is so sensitive. GinZing is light, but packs a very powerful punch. It actually contains caffeine! Massaging it into the tops of your cheekbones and right below your brow bones will wake you up with a refreshing tingling, and will lighten up the shadows beneath your eyes better than an actual mug of coffee (although the two go together quite nicely). I’d also suggest sticking a little sample of it in your purse and reapplying after lunch to get you through the home stretch. If we can’t have sunshine, we can at least have bright eyes!

What are your plans for the weekend?

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There’s a new product from Neutrogena gracing the shelves of your local drugstore that I would strongly suggest picking up on your way home from work tomorrow. (Just add it to your shopping list under eggs and milk and if you’re short on cash, a week of water won’t hurt right?)  With only a few days left on a 25%-off coupon to CVS, I decided to stop in tonight and browse the skin care aisle. The Neutrogena naturals products on the top shelf caught my attention, particularly the two-in-one cleanser and make-up remover, which is priced at $7.99 for a 6 oz bottle. I have been searching for a makeup remover that is effective on dark mascara, but without being excessively oily (I wear contacts) or harsh around the eye area. After working up a sweat at the gym, I used this as a pre-wash before my normal cleanser. It is JUST what I have been looking for. It’s silky smooth and so gentle that you can use it on your eyes to remove the layer of makeup, oil, and sweat (lovely, I know) that has collected over the course of the day. The scent of the cleanser is sweet and rich, with a hint of coconut. And, I like to see well-established brands being innovative with their identity. As the name suggests, Neutrogena naturals products are almost entirely natural. On the back of the bottle is a list of the ingredients and where they are derived from, giving you a sense of transparency that is almost as refreshing as the product itself.  One of the most interesting ingredients is Peruvian Tara Seed, a natural moisturizer.  My skin feels softer after just one use than it does after a normal wash, and the skin between my eyebrows and eyelids is not irritated at all! After a little shuffling (my current eye makeup remover got demoted to underneath the sink), I am ready to make this product a part of my nightly routine.

When is the last time you tried a new product on a whim and ended up falling skin love??

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Doctor, Doctor

I still haven’t quite figured out whether I prefer working out in the morning before work or in the evening. When I can resist the snooze button and actually get myself on the bike or treadmill while it’s still dark out, I tend to have a very productive morning but then crash around 2:30. If only I didn’t work in an open cubicle, a 20-minute power nap would be the obvious solution…but a tall mug of black tea and making plans for my suddenly free evening is exciting enough to wake me up. What will I do with that extra hour (extra hour and half including travel time and shower)? Pour myself a glass of wine and catch up on Glee? Paint my nails? Call a girlfriend who I’ve been meaning to catch up with? However, I also love the feeling of burning off the long day at the gym and then letting that good-sore feeling sink into my body as I climb into bed. I have always been really active, so it was a bit of a shock adjusting to a job where I sit for most of the day. When I actually have an office someday I am serious about wanting to bring in an exercise ball to sit on, but until that day, it’s just me, my rolly chair, and my sore lower back. While my brain is usually drained by 5 o’clock, the rest of my body is cramped and begging to move. I also find myself more relaxed and focused on my workout when it’s at the end of the day, since I’m not thinking about everything I have to get done before my afternoon meeting.

But my absolute favorite part of working out at night is taking a short but relaxing shower afterward. It’s so therapeutic to make the water extra hot and lather my facewash into a mask, letting it work with the steam for a minute or two. My favorite post-workout body wash is Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap. In a shower where products are changing faster than Anne Hathaway at the Oscars, Dr. Bronner’s is my one constant. I do like to change the fragrances though. While Peppermint is my favorite, I am currently loving Rose ($9.99 for a 16 oz bottle, available at It is so incredibly fresh-smelling, and leaves you feeling clean and refreshed without drying out your skin. You can feel good about what you are putting on your body  because all the oils in the soap are organic, and you can also feel good about buying Dr. Bronner’s products because they are certified fair-trade. All their employees, including the farmers who produce the ingredients that go into their products, are paid fairly. A word of warning though: although their bottles are awesome because they are made from recycled materials, you will get dizzy trying to read all the small print that covers them!

What is the one product you always have in your shower?

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