........A Chicago area beauty blogger's foray into day-spas, med-spas, and countless beauty counters........

(Anything in BLUE or GRAY within the text is a LINK to more information)

Sleep: Nature's Free Beauty Treatment

I've read in multiple magazines over the years that since everyone is different, to find out how much sleep your body needs you're supposed to sleep 3 nights in a row without an alarm or anything to wake you, and on the 3rd day you wake up, the number of hours you slept that 3rd night is how many you should be getting each night.

I don't get a lot of sleep, I know  I know---it's good for your health, your looks, your weight....blah blah blah, but ever since I can remember, even as a teenager, I've slept anywhere from 4-7 hours most nights (6-7 always seems to feel best--when I get more than that I feel groggy all day) with an occasional 9 or 10 hour night when I'm completely exhausted after a trip or something. Still, I decided to give this experiment a try.

Due to the holiday weekend, I was able to do this experiment Friday, Saturday and Sunday. No alarm clock. No one to wake me. Phone turned off.

Friday night I slept 10 hours! Wow...I was tired! (and I felt tired  all day long.)
Saturday night 6 hours of sleep followed.
Sunday night I had a total of 7 hours of sleep.

So, apparently, the optimal number of hours my body needs is 7 hours. 

I realize 7 hours doesn't sound like much, but considering my addictions to Facebook, Twitter, Chelsea Lately and 2am infomercials, 7 is going to be rough! I'll do my best to cut back on those 4-5 hour nights, but no guarantees. (blame Chelsea ;)

You're Probably Not A Natural Beauty: Make Up Forever HD

When asked what is the biggest makeup mistake women make, Dany Sanz, the French creator of the fabulous cosmetic line Make Up Forever replied:

"Skipping foundation. If you go outside without any makeup, that's a mistake. Everything is green, and you look ugly." (ElleMagazine/Feb.2011)  

Don't shoot the messenger, ladies...
Don't shoot the messenger. ;)

Have a good Memorial Day Weekend! See you next week!

I'll Make You Love Me: Escentric Molecules Molecule 01 Perfume

So apparently there's a new(ish) scent out there that will make me irresistible to men (you know, when I'm having an off week.... ;)

Escentric Molecules Molecule 01 is the latest scent spotlighting the oh so sexy Iso E Super molecule! (yeah, I dunno what that is either...)

Doesn't sound as sexy as L'eau D'Issey Florale (birthday coming up, people...gifts accepted. ;) Maybe the manufacturer should have translated it to French.... (I totally checked, it's the same.)

Apparently it's sensitive to body chemistry and smells different on everyone. According to the description: "The velvety woody note is highly sensitive to body chemistry and twists and turns as it evolves, enticing the wearer with an almost pheromone-like fascination."


Some people describe the scent as a light cedar, but studies say that some people can't smell Iso E Super at all, so every man, woman and child will flock to me finding me ridiculously charming and intoxicating and not even know why.


One reviewer even described it as "a stealth bomber hovering over your skin!"

Is that a good thing? Not sure. But since I'm looking for birthday gift ideas for myself, maybe a stealth bomber is just what I need.

Have I mentioned that I will believe nearly any ad that suggests I will look younger, thinner, prettier, more attractive, or have more energy? It's true---I'm a victim of my own profession: marketing....and I love it!

That said, I'm totally ordering a $5 (plus $4 shipping--are you kidding me?) teeny tiny little 0.7 ml sample of Escentric Molecules Molecule 01.

I'll let you know if I get any marriage proposals.

Follow up HERE!

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Maybe I'm Addicted To The Fumes: Acrylic Nails vs. CND Shellac Manicure

10 years ago I tried acrylic nails for the first time....
....and I've never looked back.

The strong chemical smell. The friction of a buffer or sander on my finger tips.
Ahh yes....I love it!

Ok, I don't love any of those things, but I DO love long, colorful, manicured nails! Beautifully groomed hands make me happy. Maybe it's my Gemini nature, we're supposed to have a thing for hands. Who knows? ;)

I didn't get acrylic nails because my natural nails wouldn't grow--I had always been able to have nice long nails, which is why I never used nail tips like some women do, I just had the acrylic applied to my natural nails. The reason I started acrylics is because nail polish wouldn't stay on my natural nails for more than a day. I'd go to the spa and get a manicure, walk out with beautiful, shiny, colorful nails, and by the end of the night they'd already be chipped. It just wasn't worth the time or money spent.
Thus, an addiction to acrylic nails was born.

NOT my nail. Eww!
Of course there can be problems with acrylic nails: sometimes they (painfully!) pop off, sometimes they stay on but lift a little and water gets trapped causing mold spots on the natural nails (gaaaah!), they can cause ridges in natural nails, and depending on the type of acrylic used they can become discolored giving nails a yellowish appearance.

The worst part for me is that it weakens natural nails so stopping the use of acrylic has become impossible because my fingers hurt when I type or text when the natural nail is exposed. Plus they immediately break when the acrylic is off and then my beautiful long nails look like a nail biter got a hold of them! (nooooo!)

Even though I love the look of acrylics (I've tried gel nails too and didn't like them), I can't stop thinking about the damage they're doing to my natural nails. I've thought about giving them up, but a day or two with an acrylic that I've (painfully) pried off makes me doubt I can make it through months of a grow out phase.

.........there may be hope!

Recently my nail salon started offering Creative Nail Designs (CND) Shellac manicures.
Had this product existed 10 years ago, acrylic never would have touched my nails!

CND took 5 years to develop the Shellac product. The process is done much like a regular manicure with a base coat, 2 coats of color, and a top coat, but in between coats the product is cured for 2 minutes under a UV lamp. The nails aren't buffed and "roughed up" like they are for acrylic or gel so there's no damage to natural nails, there's zero drying time, and unlike colored gel polish there's no soaking or sanding to remove the product, instead the removal process takes only 10 minutes using CND Remover Wraps.

Right now there are only 24 Shellac colors, but more are in the works. The polish lasts for at least 14 days and at most salons it costs about the same as a regular acrylic fill, but takes only 30 minutes and is dry instantly instead of the usual 45 minutes plus drying time.

The product is stronger than regular nail polish, which means for someone who is trying to give up acrylics or gels, the nail surface is protected while the nails recover. This should also add a little bit of strength to the natural nails so that they can still grow long.

Add to all of this that the product is free of formaldehyde, toluene, and DBP, and I can't imagine why anyone who hasn't had artificial nails would ever get them! It's my opinion that this is a much better alternative to acrylics and gels.

Don't be fooled by salons advertising "no chip manicures" that are using products other than CND and have to be sanded off. A list of Shellac certified salons is available here.

.....as for the pungent acrylic smell I'll be missing?
Well, maybe I can just take up painting...... ;)

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Exfoliate Me Now: Personal MicroDerm System (PMD) & Microdermabrasion

I've already diagnosed myself as a skincare junkie. I can't help myself----I'm covered in skin, how am I not supposed to be obsessed with it? It's everywhere! ;)

I've always loved getting microdermabrasion treatments at the medspa. If you don't know, microdermabrasion is a treatment that uses either aluminum oxide crystals, diamond crystals, or sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) crystals to exfoliate the skin. It's safe, effective, there's no down time, and it leaves the face looking radiant after the treatment. They run anywhere from $95-$130 at most professional offices in the Chicago area, and depending on a person's needs they may get a treatment every week for 3-6 weeks to reduce wrinkles or acne, or just a couple times a year to make skin look fresh when it starts to dull during the season changes (that's what I do).

My obsession with skincare treatments and microdermabrasion increased in January when I found Personal MicroDerm System (PMD) for home use.

No, it's not a substitute for, or as good as getting a professional microdermabrasion treatment at a dermatologist's office or medspa (those are hard to beat), but it is good for in-between visits, and I actually don't use it much on my face, which is what you would do at a pro's office.

Instead, I buy the PMD medium grit replacement disks and use it to make the skin on my my neck, legs and arms even more silky smooth...

Yep, that's right, I've taken to sand-blasting my skin from head to toe. :-D

And I LIKE it!

No, it will never beat or replace microdermabrasion by a good aesthetician at a medspa or dermatologist's office, but it is definitely a fantastic complement to those treatments.

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Freezing Fat: Zeltiq & Zerona

I drove to the suburbs to a dermatologist-owned medspa the other night for an Open House. On top of his medical practice, the doctor had a handful of of lasers, injectables, and skincare products....I was in heaven. Two of the people who work there told me I know more about skincare products than they do. Skincare is kind of...ummm... a hobby for me. Weird, I know. We all have our thing. I like lotions and potions.

After my visit to the Open House, I'm now fascinated by FDA-approved Zerona....could it be too good to be true? I was told by the doctor's staff that in just 2 weeks (6, 40 minute treatments every other day) that hips and thighs can shrink 3.5 cummulative inches and cellulite can be a thing of the past (not FDA approved for cellulite reduction though). Of course, for $2600, I'm skeptical (even more skeptical when I was told there may be a Groupon for $1200---what a mark up! Sell it for that price all the time!). "Shrinking" fat cells is what happens when you diet, so doesn't that mean resume your regular eating habits and you'll be back to where you were before you handed over your miles Visa for $2600? Damn you, Zerona company PR-approved before-and-after photos for making me think that there's an easy way to get ready for bikini season! Damn you!

The open house didn't include Zeltiq, although I hear it's around $3500Zeltiq is a FDA-approved treatment to permanently destroy fat cells in the belly and thighs by freezing them. Spend and hour (on each side for thighs) with a freezing cold machine pinching your fat together and then over the next few months your body gets rid of broken down fat cells naturally. Considering there's a new study out by Mayo Clinic saying that adults actually do reproduce fat cells in their thighs when they gain weight, but the cells in the belly only expand, killing off 20% of them sounds pretty good to me. The machine doesn't damage skin, just the fat beneath. It can't get to cellulite areas though, so no affect on that. I don't know anywhere around me that does it to even investigate, but I also heard they need to be able to squeeze 2 inches of fat between the machine to treat an area and I'm not sure my thighs have that kind of excess in 1 spot. Hmmm....

Anyway, this dermatologist's Open House was filled with big hopes pinned on high-tech equipment for a lot of money but no guarantees, money back policy, or his own patient's before & after photos (notice when you search online they're all the same pix no matter where they're done).... It makes me wonder what percentage of treated patients leave the office thinking their money was well spent? There are no statistics on that, but it would surely be a selling point if there was.

Sorry Mr. MedSpa, but until you can prove it to me, or give me or my friends free treatments so we can tell others, I'm going to keep my money and use it toward a nice beach vacation. Aloha!

To spend or not to spend.
THAT is the question.

Either way, the unchangeable answer remains:
Diet and exercise are always a sure thing....

Have you tried Zeltiq, Zerona or any other laser treatments to reduce fat or cellulite? Tell me about your experiences on Facebook

Hair Product Bliss

I don't usually get excited about hair products, I rarely fall in love with them, and I don't share product information unless I think it's spectacular...well I've met 3 haircare products that are beyond amazing:

This product makes hair look thicker, but even better, due to patented technology created by MIT scientists (what?!?) it feels like there's no product on your hair, YET it bounces back into place through wind blowing, ponytail holders, sleep, etc. No stringy hair in need of brushing throughout the day, no ponytail crimps, nothing!

Add your own word for "fabulocity" here! ;)

(available online & at Sephora)

Makes split-ends a thing of the past by binding them back together! Yes, it actually seals split ends together and it lasts through a couple of washings.
This product repairs 92% of split ends--it actually heals your hair! It's like always having a fresh blow out--who doesn't want that? 


There's shampoo, conditioner, overnight treatment, and a heat spray as well, but I haven't tried those.

Weekly use for 15 minutes or longer on dried out, bleached, or color-treated hair makes it soft, shiny, and moisturized. It's THE BEST home deep conditioning treatment I've ever used.

My bleach-blonde locks drink it up! Nom nom nom.

Confessions Of A Skincare Junkie: Clarisonic Mia Facial Cleansing System

Some people like electronics, some like food, some like clothes....

.....me, I like skincare products.

Show me a new lotion or potion or ultrasonic tool with the promise of eternal youth or beauty, and I'm like a kid in a candy store!

Don't get me wrong--I like electronics too (they hate me...a story for another day), I like food (anyone got a cupcake I can have?), and oh yes I looooove clothes, but skincare, it's not judgmental. Having a fat day? Skincare products don't care. Not good setting up electronics? *raises hand* Skincare products could care less.

That's why I love the Clarisonic Mia Cleansing System ($149). It comes in all the colors of yummy sugary treats in a candy store, but without the calories and future cellulite. ;)

What does the Clarisonic Cleansing System do, you ask?  Without spinning or turning which could possibly irritate skin, it uses sonic waves to breakdown makeup, dirt, and oil in the skin so your face gets 6 times cleaner than cleansing with out it. For you this means anti-aging products work better (20% better for vitamin C serums!), moisturizers can penetrate deeper, and cleaner skin means less breakouts. It's a revolutionary way to wash your face!

One tip-- make sure to remove the brush every day or two, rinse the inside of the head and let the system dry or there's a build up of soap scum.

Any cleanser can be used with the Clarisonic Cleansing System, but I like to use creamy, vegan, cruelty-free MD Skincare All-In-One Cleanser, then some de-puffing, organic,100% Pure Coffee Bean Caffeine Eye Cream, a light lotion, and SPF 30+ and POOF I'm good to go!

(Update 4/17/12: Since this post, the Clarisonic Mia has been reduced in price to $119!)