Archive for June, 2010

Jane Iredale Launches New Brow Kit

Brow shaping is an important part the beauty routine, and Jane Iredale has made it easy for makeup artists and clients to achieve the perfect brow with its recently launched Bitty Brow Kit. The kit consists of a brow wax, a blonde or brunette water-resistant mineral powder, and three grooming tools for easy, instant brow enhancement. Each kit includes two angle brushes for applying wax and powder and a brush for shaping the brows. What’s more, it’s small enough to slip into a handbag or suitcase for on-the-go touch-ups.

Chiva-Som Serves Up Scrumptious Salad

Ask anyone who knows me, and you will quickly find out that I am a really picky eater. I have weird issues with texture, taste, and seeds, so it’s often hard to find food I like that is actually good for me. Today, the team from Thailand’s acclaimed Chiva-Som destination spa came to New York City to treat a group of journalists to a healthy lunch concocted by their incomparable executive chef, Paisarn Cheewinsiriwat. When he announced that we would be having Banana Blossom Salad to start, I got nervous. Bananas rank as one of my least favorite fruits (back to my texture and seed problems), and I was not looking forward to a salad made with them. Turns out, I had nothing to worry about. Banana blossoms are delicious, and the salad was divine. I loved it so much, I wanted to share the recipe here. In New York City, most of these ingredients can be picked up in Chinatown or at Whole Foods. Outside the Big Apple, head to your local Asian specialty food store.

Banana Blossom Salad
2 ½ TBSP Lime Juice
2 TBSP Soy Sauce
1 ½ TBSP Honey
1 TBSP Roasted Chili Paste
2 Bird’s Eye Chilies, Finely Chopped
4 ½ oz Banana Blossom, Peeled
4 ½ oz. Chicken Breast, boiled for 10 minutes and shredded
3 TBSP ground roasted almond, coarsely chopped
2 TBSP Sliced Shallots
2 TBSP Chopped Spring Onions
1 TBSP Finely Diagonally Sliced Lemongrass
4 TBSP Roasted Coconut Flakes, To Garnish

To prepare the dressing, whisk lime juice, soy sauce, honey, chili paste, and chilis in a large bowl. Set aside. To prepare salad, gently toss all remaining ingredients with all of the dressing in a mixing bowl until evenly mixed. Sprinkle over coconut flakes and server.

This is just one of the wonderful recipes in the spa’s latest cookbook, Chiva-Som’s Thai Spa Cuisine. I received a copy at lunch, and I can’t wait to test out more healthy dishes to see if I can overcome some of my other food quirks. To order your own copy, click here.

Guerlain Spa at The Waldorf=Astoria
Confirms Its Status as an Urban Sanctuary

A few weeks ago, I was invited to indulge in a massage at the posh Guerlain Spa at The Waldorf=Astoria. I had toured the spa when it first opened about two years ago but had yet to experience a treatment there. Deciding it would be the perfect way to end a particularly stressful week and ease into the weekend, I scheduled the massage for 5pm on a Friday afternoon. Fortunately, the spa is just a few blocks from my office. Of course, that didn’t keep me from arriving drained and out of breath from having to tie up some last-minute loose ends at work. Within minutes of my arrival, I was happily ensconced in the lounge with a glass of champagne in hand. Personally, I’ve always been a fan of spas that offer a glass of vino in addition to the usual teas and cucumber water. Anyway, it wasn’t long before I was feeling more myself thanks to the decadent foot bath and healing hands of my talented therapist. And because the last thing I wanted to worry about after a sensationally soothing massage was doing math, I was pleasantly surprised to find that it’s the spa’s policy not to accept gratuities. It was certainly a blessing in my blissed out and arithmetic-challenged state.

Hot Tip: Free ESPA Firming Eye Treatment

If you’ve ever been to—or have even seen photos of—The Peninsula Spa by ESPA at the Peninsula Chicago or of the ESPA at Acqualina, you’ll realize that every extra minute you can enjoy at these spas or at any ESPA location around the world, the better. During June and July, ESPA spas are offering a complimentary Firming Eye Treatment with any Facial. That amounts to 15 extra minutes of bliss and vitamin-rich renewal at some pretty swank retreats. Not a bad way to spend your summer days!

Romance Seekers Can Experience Star-Style
Couples Retreat at St. Regis Bora Bora

Couples seeking an amorous escape need look no further than the world-renowned St. Regis Bora Bora resort featured in “Couples Retreat,” the romantic comedy starring Vince Vaughn and Kristen Bell. The prestigious hotel located in idyllic French Polynesia has introduced an exclusive “Couples Retreat” getaway package for those looking for the perfect setting to rekindle a romance or to simply relax. The package (starting at $1,042 per night) includes accommodations in an overwater villa, champagne and pastries upon arrival, daily breakfast at Te Pahu Restaurant, one 50-minute couples massage at Miri Miri Spa, a three-course dinner for two, and romantic flower turndown service with monoi oil gift. This exclusive deal is based on a minimum four-night stay and is valid from June 14 to March 31, 2011.

New Website Helps Combat Cosmetic Industry Misconceptions

Talk knowledgeably with your clients about their product concerns with help from Personal Care Truth, a comprehensive new website that reveals what hidden ingredients may be in their favorite foundation or eye cream. Lisa M. Rodgers and Kristin Fraser Cotte, founders of their own natural bath, body, and personal care lines, have created the site to fight misinformation in the cosmetics industry. Personal Care Truth is dedicated to providing consumers with factual data about their products, including information about FDA regulations, legislation, ingredients, and scientific data. Rodgers and Cotte have sought out a variety of experts including chemists, researchers, and formulators to provide insight and answers to consumers’ questions. These top industry experts provide Personal Care Truth with reliable information based on scientific fact, which enables consumers to make informed decisions on products they purchase. Says Cotte, “The response to our site has been nothing short of amazing, further validating the fact that consumers want the truth about what goes into and on their bodies.”

Massage Elements Partners with Pure Living

Massage Elements, a comprehensive online retailer of products and equipment for the spa industry, has partnered with Pure Living, a line of organic bath, body, and beauty care products. Through the partnership, Massage Elements will serve as the exclusive distributor of Lucia and Beautea products. The Lucia collection includes a range of fragrant shea butter soaps, mini soaps, and candles, while Beuatea is a line of organic bath and body products formulated with L-theanine, a powerful natural antioxidant contained in tea that works to prevent aging and help heal tissue damage. The Pure Living products, along with the other spa necessities offered by Massage Elements, can be ordered 24/7 via the website,

The Other Side of the Sunscreen Debate

Last week, I wrote about a recent study that claimed sunscreen could possibly increase incidents of skin cancer. It was not good news to my ears, as I’m sure it wasn’t to others who happily slather themselves from head to toe with sunscreen before stepping foot outdoors. It did, however, spark some healthy debate on the topic. I’m happy to say that many of my fears have been put to rest, as I learn more. Here, Larry Lockhart, R.P., CEO of Bionresearch, offers his take on the topic:

In a widely distributed article written by Andrew Schneider and published in the AOL News, the author references “documents and interviews” that he claims will show that the inclusion of Vitamin A in sunscreens will speed the formation and spread of malignant skin cells. The author claims, again through “documents and interviews” that the FDA has been aware of this problem for 10 years. The FDA denies this allegation. Mr. Schneider also references an article published by the Environmental Working Group. This group’s mission is to review government data, legal documents “scientific studies and our own laboratory tests to expose threats to your health and the environment, and to find solutions. Our research brings to light unsettling facts that you have a right to know.” This last sentence tells it all. They are a little like the National Enquirer.

The study used both male and female hairless mice with 34 to 36 animals in two separate groups, plus a control group. As was reported in the article “testing included two concentrations of retinyl palmitate, 0.1% and 0.5%, administered topically in a cream vehicle.” The author added “In FDA’s 1-year study, tumors and lesions developed up to 21 percent sooner in lab animals coated in a vitamin A-laced cream (at concentrations of 0.1% to 0.5%) than in control animals treated with a vitamin-free cream. Both groups were exposed to the equivalent of nine minutes of noontime Florida sunlight each day for up to a year.” Environmental Working Group stated the study “analyzed differences in the number of days recorded for each animal’s survival, a proxy for rate of tumor or lesion development. Animals treated with retinyl palmitate were withdrawn from the study 11-to-21 percent sooner than animals whose skin was treated with a neutral cream and exposed to the same doses of UV. These findings were statistically significant for both sexes and for each exposure group. Mice treated with only UV or only neutral cream combined with UV survived longer than animals exposed to vitamin A.”
The study they reported on did not list an author for the study or experience of the research team. This was not a double blind study where the researchers did not know which group was which. The groups were very small with only about 3 dozen animals tested. But the most surprising part of the study, and a true indicator of the validity of this study, is that the vitamin A was tested in a “neutral cream” and not in any type of sunscreen! Whoever did the study wants us to assume that the results would be the same between vitamin A/neutral base and vitamin A/sunscreen, but they never bothered to test the vitamin A/sunscreen combination that they claim is harmful. Instead of the title of the article being “Study: Many Sunscreens May Be Accelerating Cancer”, the title should have been “Study: Many Neutral Creams May Be Accelerating Cancer.” What they could have done was made up 5 separate groups, one with just sunscreen, then 4 that contain vitamin A plus: one with sunscreen containing Octinoxate; one with sunscreen containing Avobenzone; one with sunscreen containing titanium dioxide; and one with sunscreen containing zinc oxide. At least in this way they would have been testing the combination that they are condemning.

The FDA data are preliminary; the agency will publish its evaluation and conclusions in a report expected in October 2010. Before then, disregard this “news” report. BiON’s Titanium Dioxide Sunscreen has a very small amount of retinoic acid that is used as an antioxidant. The product is safe. In fact, if the study group had used sunscreen on top of the neutral base/vitamin A, they probably would have had significantly fewer malignant skin cells.

Summer Services to Make Spa-Lovers Swoon at
The Phoenician

Renewal doesn’t have to be relegated to the spring–summer is a great time to refresh and spice up routines. Spa-lovers looking to try something new this season can head to The Centre for Well-Being at The Phoenician and sample any of its new offerings to tantalize the mind, body, and spirit. Available through September 30th, these new offerings and deals will have guests relaxing in no time and making them realize that nothing compares to a summer’s day.

•Stress can be kissed goodbye thanks to the 50-minute Royal Rejuvenation massage. This 50-minute tweak incorporates marma-point technique to relieve sinus pressure and ends with a soothing scalp massage for some head-to-toe relaxation. And, for only $99, guests won’t be paying a king’s ransom when they opt for this new service.

•On deck for a little fun with cards? For $99, spa-goers can opt for a Tarot Reading to gain insight and direction in life.

•When booking a 50- or 80-minute facial treatment, guests receive a complimentary Nu-Face Quick Lift upgrade to their service when they mention “Summer Lift.” This add-on reduces fine lines and wrinkles, creating a youthful appearance.

Consider a Sports Massage to Treat Your Inner Athlete

While the NBA playoffs are almost over with just one or two more games left to determine who will claim victory in the battle between the Boston Celtics and LA Lakers, sports enthusiasts needn’t fret. The World Cup kicks off tomorrow in South Africa, guaranteeing another month of good-natured sports rivalry. For those who prefer to participate in more active ways than chugging yet another beer in their favorite sports bar, well, there are a host of spas ready to accommodate their every sore muscle with a therapeutic sports massage. Here are just a few we wouldn’t mind trying ourselves:

Exhale Mindbodyspa (national)

Exhale’s signature mind body therapy, Body Enlightening, incorporates yoga contact work, assisted stretching, relaxation, and body alignment. It’ll leave [you] feeling balanced, elongated, and spirited.

Ivy Spa Club (Minneapolis)

The spa’s Before Workout Massage lengthens and loosens muscles, increases circulation and nutrient flow, and helps sports fans gear up for activity…even voracious cheering. Ivy Spa Club’s After Workout Massage flushes toxins, increases nutrient flow, and helps weekend warriors regain muscle length and range of motion.

Red Mountain Sagestone Spa (St. George, UT)

A must for adventure-seekers, the Red Rock Hiker’s Massage focuses on the legs. A potent fusion of peppermint, menthol, and eucalyptus provides muscle and joint relief while a marine mud pack on the legs draws out toxins and improves circulation.

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