Mario Badescu and Clarisonic -- A Match Made in Skincare Heaven

Mario Badescu is one of my favorite skincare brands. I have reviewed and recommended several products over the years.  Pair that with Clarisonic, the sonic care cleansing brush that started it all, and it's a match made in skincare heaven.  This match seems like a no brainer so my only question is why did Mario Badescu and Clarisonic take so look to hook up? (I need answers!)

Now that the Mario Badescu and Clarisonic celebrity hook up is official, let's look at what we get out of this union: (Of course it's about us. Duh.)

Clarisonic Mia 2 Sonic Skin Cleansing Brush

Clarisonic Mia 2 Sonic Skin Cleansing Brush has two speeds, and like all other Clarisonics, it gently oscillates back and forth over 300 times per second providing a clean that is clinically proven to be 6 times better than cleaning with hands alone.  When you use the Clarisonic, all your lotions and potions absorb better into the skin so you get more from your skincare products. The Mia 2 is waterproof,  so feel free to get your cleanse on in the shower. It also features a proprietary T-Timer to help you to not over cleanse -- it goes for a minute:  20 seconds on the forehead, 20 seconds on the nose/chin and 10 seconds on each cheek. I know plenty of people who think longer is better, so, a timer is a genius move.  The brush comes with the Clarisonic pLink Charger, Sensitive Brush Head and White Protective Travel Case.

Mario Badescu Enzyme Cleansing Gel

Not only is this one of my favorite cleansers of all time, it just so happens to be Mario Badescu's best selling cleanser.  This non-foaming gel cleanser thoroughly removes dirt, grime and makeup without drying out the skin. It contains papaya and grapefruit extracts that provide very gently exfoliation that lead to more radiant skin.  [Kit will include a 2 ounce bottle.]

Mario Badescu Vitamin C Serum

If you use this Vitamin C serum on its own you'll more than likely notice a change in your skin in two to three weeks.  It contains 7.5% Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C) to help protect the skin from pesky free radicals and it also reduces discoloration to reveal brighter skin.  The Hyaluronic Acid in the formula helps the skin to hold on to its moisture. (This is great when used before sunscreen -- especially as the weather warms up.) [Kit will include .3 ounce bottle]

Mario Badescu A.H.A. & Ceramide Moisturizer

Is described as "a gentle, AHA-based moisturizer formulated with Lemon Extract and soothing Aloe Vera Gel helps rejuvenate dull, congested and pigmented skin." (I haven't tried this yet but it sounds promising.) [Kit will include a 1 ounce bottle.]

Some celebrity hookups seem to be about hype and tend to fizzle out leaving losers on both sides. Not this one. The Mia 2 Mario Badescu Skin Favorites Set is the start of something special, I can feel it! The set has everything you need to be super hydrated and radiant this spring!  It is available at Clarisonic.com and retails for $149.

Posted on April 19, 2016 and filed under Skincare, Beauty.

3 Products to Treat Hyperpigmentation (Dark Spots)

Hyperpigmentation is caused by an increase melanin production and can affect all skin tones. While it can take only a few days for a dark spot to  form, it can take months to get rid of them (trust me, I know).  Though we all know we shouldn't pop those pimples, it can be hard to resist when they are literally staring you in the face.  While hyperpigmentation as a result of broken skin (popped pimples, cuts and scrapes) is common, so is darkening of the skin due to age and sun exposure.   Whatever the cause of your hyperpigmentation, there are  products that can help fade those dark spots and return skin to its natural, even tone.  Here are a few that work for me:

Murad Rapid Age Spot and Pigment Lightening Serum 

Murad Rapid Age Spot and Pigment Lightening Serum uses three key ingredients to treat dark spots - Glycolic acid to exfoliate dead skin cells and allow other actives to penetrate, hydroquinone (2%) to help fade the spots and hexapeptide-2 to help lighten skin and prevent excessive pigment formation. The serum is lightweight and works well under other moisturizers and sunscreen.  Simply apply the serum and allow a few minutes before added another product. (Sephora.com, $60)

Ambi Fade Cream

Ambi Fade Cream also uses three active ingredients to deliver results - Alpha Hydroxy Acids to exfoliate and facilitate maximum absorption of other actives, vitamin E as an antioxidant to soothe and moisturize skin, and hydroquinone to fade dark marks.  Hydroquinone is also used in 2% concentration. The maximum amount allowed in over the counter treatments for hyperpigmentation. (Walgreens, $6.49)

Neutrogena Rapid Tone Repair Dark Spot Corrector

Neutrogena Rapid Tone Repair uses Accelerated Retinol SA and vitamin C to brighten skin. According to Neutrogena, “Retinol SA combines the highest concentration of Retinol with Glucose Complex and Hyaluronic Acid.”  This is done to stabilize the retinol and make it gentler on the skin. I saw a difference in my skin after about two weeks of use. If you are currently not using any products to even tone and texture, you may see results even sooner. (Ulta.com, $23.99)

What I have noticed is that the effectiveness of all these products depend on how you use them, the condition of your skin (the age and kind of dark spots you have,)  and whether or not you are using an effective sunscreen in conjunction with each product.  If you suffer from hyperpigmentation, one of the first lines of defense is to wear a broad sunscreen everyday...seriously, everyday! Here are a few basic tips to follow when treating dark spots:

  1. Start treating spots the minute they form. The older the dark spot, the more difficult it is to fade.
  2. Follow the directions and usage amounts -- more doesn't always equal better and less might mean delayed results.
  3. Use a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen every single day and reapply as needed. Dark spots get even darker when exposed to the sun's rays. 

We all want flawless skin, hopefully these products and tips will help you get there that much sooner.

Have a hyperpigmentation product you LOVE?  Please share in the comments.

Posted on March 25, 2016 .

Destination Beauty: Vivrant Beauty - Harlem's Newest Gem

I admire dream chasers and even more so, dream catchers. Desiree Verdejo, founder of Vivrant Beauty is a dream catcher. After working as a lawyer for 7 years, Desiree hopped off the corporate ladder and decided she wanted to become an entrepreneur. Her passion for beauty was so much that no law degree and career could hold it down and thus, Vivrant Beauty was born. 

Vivrant Beauty Interior

Vivrant Beauty Interior

Vivrant Beauty is Harlem's newest beauty gem and the first boutique beauty shop.  It stocks beauty goodies from dozens of retailers and provides consumers with carefully curated list of items from well known labels such as Mario Badescu to newer more niche brands like Girl + Hair. Desiree also seeks out products and brands that are "ingredient-conscious, women-owned, person-of-color owned and local beauty brands."

Desiree Verdejo

Desiree Verdejo

Desiree is more than a beauty junkie -- she's is putting her money where her mouth is, literally. I recently caught up with her for a quick chat:

What was your biggest challenge in starting Vivrant Beauty and how did you overcome it?

One of the biggest challenges to launching Vivrant Beauty was to get products on the shelves. It’s a bit of a process figuring out how to connect with brands and an added hurdle was that I needed to convince some brands that Vivrant Beauty would be a good retail home for them. I was new to the beauty industry, and Harlem until now had not been a destination for premium beauty brands so it was an uphill battle. 

Figuring out the process just involved a commitment of time and research. Regarding the brands, I was persistent (read: annoying) and gave them updates on the boutique at different stages. I was ultimately able to convince folks that the boutique would be something different that they would want to be a part of.

How has Harlem responded to Vivrant Beauty?

Our customers are in the know beauty lovers from throughout NYC but our Harlem customers are super supportive. The Harlem girls don’t just text their friends to spread the word about us, they literally drag them in. Most of the customers that I’ve talked to love supporting uptown establishments and seem happy that they don’t always have to go downtown to update their beauty arsenal.

What differentiates Vivrant Beauty from other beauty supply stores/boutiques?

There are a lot of things that differentiates Vivrant from the rest but one bit of feedback I always get is that our inviting setting, thoughtful curated mix and product organization makes the shopping experience with us very calm and approachable. A lot of other beauty retail shops can be more overwhelming.

How do you decide which products to stock? 

It’s important to have a balanced selection of products regarding price points, organic versus technologically enhanced, and products for all skin tones and hair textures. I am always thinking about whether an item adds something new to our selection. Also, I always think about the other stores where my customers shop- if something is too readily available in those stores than it makes no sense at Vivrant.

Who is your ideal consumer?

My ideal customer is committed to hair, skin and overall health, is knowledgeable about products and ingredients, and has a balance of a desire to try new things and loyalty to what works.

Do you offer any personalized in store service like makeup tutorials or skin analysis? (if yes, please explain how it works. If no, is it something you have planned for future?)

Most of our customers come in with specific skin and hair concerns so part of our typical customer service involves product and regimen recommendations. We also have a make-up artist on board for those customers that want a glam look before their shower, birthday dinner, press event, etc.

I couldn't wrap this without asking, what are your favorite skincare products of the moment and why? 

A few of my favorite items right now are:

Shea Terra Organics Rose Hips Rose Plenishing Face Cream. I adore this brand because they manage to offer organic products at a very approachable price. This face cream is rich with rose water and rose hip oil and feels so luxe and creamy going on. It’s a great winter moisturizer.

Indie Lee’s Clearing Mask because I have breakout prone skin and this mask keeps things under control.

Ren’s Micropolish Cleanser My skin is noticeably duller in the wintertime and this glycolic-based gentle scrub keeps my face bright.

Desiree  Verdejo is proof positive that it's always worth it to chase your dreams -- even after making great strides down another path. 

Visit Vivrant Beauty at 220 Saint Nicholas Avenue New York, NY 10027.  You may also find and shop Vivrant Beauty online at www.vivrantbeauty.com as well as on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Posted on January 4, 2016 and filed under Beauty, New Beauty.