Stories by: Grace

Bath & BodyBudget Beauty

21532620Being on a budget does not mean your beauty regimen must suffer! I happen to love quite a few products that are effective and work just as well as the “investment” lines. One of my faves that has saved me a trip to the spa is the PediSpa Gentle Exfoliating Foot Mask ($9.99 for a pair), a foot exfoliate plus treatment filled in a pair of wearable and disposable foot masks for your feet. Key ingredients like chamomile and natural botanical fruit extracts help control callus build-up for visibly smooth feet within two weeks. A few days after application, dead skin will actually slough off on its own, sans pumice or a file of any sort! The first time I tried it, I actually forgot that I had done the treatment and a couple days later, was pleased to notice some dead skin rolling off (painlessly, I might add).

A tip on application- I would recommend treating this like a home-spa ritual- lie down, and do a mask at the same time, and relax. I tried to move around and clean up while wearing the masks, and felt a little sloshy and slippery. There was no noticeable discomfort, only some mild tingling while the formula did its job. I ended up encouraging my baby soft heels to reveal themselves by exfoliating a bit after I noticed the sloughing, which required much less force than without the treatment.

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Insider's Obsessions, InternationalPalais des Thés

961-jardin-suspendu_3I’ve had a long love affair with Palais des Thés after gleefully discovering it many years ago in my Paris hotel room on the Left Bank. I recall fingering the delicate muslin tea satchel and taking in the deep, sweet, and herbal aroma of a finely crafted tea. Since then, I’ve found some way of bringing loads of it back from Paris, as I can’t imagine going for any period of time without it. As you can imagine, I was overjoyed when Palais des Thés opened their first boutiques in New York. My love was renewed this spring with their new collection of herbal teas, which defy any notion of tea I’ve held in the past. Spring is synonymous with blooms, sun, fresh fruit, and the essence is captured beautifully in the bright orange tins. Upon opening the tops of the floral and fruity Jardins collection, the colorful dried fruits mingling with tea enchanted me with eyebrow-raising aroma. I’ve tried three well-rounded flavors so far, and have found each to have its own personality and can fit into and enhance the mood of the day.

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Beauty, MakeupGuerlain Summer 2016

guerlain_cover2I’m a perpetual admirer of the House of Guerlain, one of the most storied French cosmetics and perfume houses which remains at the cusp of fashion today.  Guerlain defines the haute-couture of beauty, and with each thoughtfully created collection, my notions of a classic product are redefined with fresh trendsetting ideas. The Color Collection 2016 is truly amazing and luxurious, and I’m excited to share with you my favorite highlights.

G042203It’s such a pleasure to unwrap and discover one of the ever-evolving Terracotta bricks which have an incredible cult following. The Terracotta Pause D’Éte is a limited edition, and my favorite of this summer’s bronzing powders for the face and décolleté. It warms beautifully, and magically produces cheekbones that remind me of Christy Turlington’s glamorous photos. The long-lasting blush/bronzer gives that nuanced glow deepened by a fine sun-kissed hint of gold which does an amazing job of hiding my freckles. The Duo Shades are flexible depending on the look you want to achieve. If I’m going for more of a flush to go with a brighter day outfit, I concentrate my brush in the middle for more of the pink-coral shade (which is a bit more powdery), and for a more sophisticated evening look, the medium-brown tone (the best-selling Terracotta shade 03) mixed with a shimmer of gold is stunning. An element of the swirl is inevitable, and for good reason: the blend is formulated to capitalize on natural skintone. The contouring “3” is perfect for applying the terracotta from forehead scooping in to cheeks to pop cheekbones and down to the chin. The magnetic case is a work of art in itself and is made of sustainably harvested wood. The top is held on by magnets but can be lifted off completely. A light fragrance of orange blossom, vanilla and musk makes for a delicate ending to an impeccable product.

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Food, InternationalPrintemps! A Taste of France

maille-760x428The French countryside in the spring is one of my favorite places to visit in person or in my daydreams. Picturesque lavender fields set against a perfect blue sky are paradise on earth, and the beauty and romance are never quite fully captured in pictures and words. I treasure each and every delicacy from France, whether it is gorgeous chocolate or a gooey cheese. This spring, French mustard expert Maille’s garden-inspired trio of mustards captures the spirit of France- the focus on the most beautiful and aromatic herbs and high quality ingredients. Michelin-starred chef Bruno Loubet  collaborated with Maille to create each flavor, drawing inspiration from his childhood garden in rural France. Maille has been the expert on all things mustard since 1747, and I still have the clay pot which years ago held my first tastes of the exquisite Maille condiment. I recall savoring every bit of it, and spread it on anything I could find. Who knew mustard could be so addictive? The new trio comes gift-ready in a beautiful box fit for the treasures it holds, and the three varieties include Mustard with Carrot and a Hint of Shallot, Mustard with Olives and Herbes de Provence, and Mustard with White Wine, Beet, and a Hint of Honey.

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Home, Insider's Obsessions, InternationalProject Rebel Walls

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I’m so excited to share with you the results of my project with Rebel Walls to transform a bedroom that badly needed a heavy dose of personality and whimsy. I absolutely love how it turned out, and it’s quickly become my favorite room in the house to relax in. A few weeks ago, I introduced the creative Swedish company which has taken upon itself to transform the way the world sees wallpaper. They encourage the inner artist and make it possible to design your own wallpaper or choose from their growing bank of texture and designs, with themes like travel, nature, and architecture. I adored the Bellewood paper at first sight, and now that it’s been installed, the effect on the room is even better than I expected. The description paints the background story:

There is something indescribably beautiful about a classic toile pattern based on small hand-drawn strokes painting up romantic scenes usually consisting of lovebirds ​talking in the shade. We wanted to create a modern toile but maintain the traditional craftsmanship. This inviting and a little mysterious forest ​are ​based on several toile designs where we only ​picked the trees from the romantic ​sceneries. If you want fill the woods with a love message of your own, you can always ​use our ​designstudio to carve your beloved’s name in one of the tree trunks.

The mural was custom fit to my wall, and the resolution and color are vibrant and sharp. I will admit that I had a professional installer come in, but the paper arrives with instructions and paste for the brave DIYers.

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Spas & Salons, Washington DCSalon Bisoux

b3276138-8720-4d87-b857-07564f45ecde A few weeks ago, my hair and I went on an adventure to a chic little boutique nestled in the quaint neighborhood of Del Ray just outside DC, Salon Bisoux. I was honored to spend some time and glean some pearls from the expertise of owner Philippe Depeyrot, who has spent decades perfecting his craft in the styling industry. During his years styling in DC at the famous Christophe Salon, his clientele included local celebrities and was even frequented by the Clintons during their time in office. As soon as Phillippe and I started talking, I knew I trusted him with my hair- it was the most in depth consultation I’ve ever had. By the end of the conversation, he knew my daily schedule, my handiness with styling tools (I can use them in my sleep), and even how long ago I gave birth! He gave me his opinions while letting me have the final say with length and style, and was able to inject a hip factor into my otherwise ordinary layers. I believe he has an eye for determining the right length to complement facial shape, which is one clue as to why clientele migrate from near and far to see him for regular styling. Philippe’s wife and co-owner Krista, is an expert in coloring, and pulls patron from all around the DC-metro area.

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Beauty, Skincare4 Steps to Prevent Aging

anti-aging-clinics1-1024x671I always admire people who take aging in stride, looking beautiful and confident at any age. That being said, I believe in taking care of what we are born with and taking steps to reduce damage to facial skin. I’m lucky to count a few dermatologists as friends, and I’m always picking their brains about skin, products, and that elusive formula for turning back the clock. Here are a few pointers that I try to incorporate, and it’s never too late to start!

Prevent sun damage. No matter what history of sun exposure you’ve had, today is Day One. I have many happy childhood memories of frolicking in the sun but I never wore sunscreen on a daily basis until college. I’m religious about it now, and even if I go outside for a few minutes without sunscreen, my mind runs to the dangerous UV rays penetrating my skin damaging elastic fibers and allowing wrinkles to appear. Of course, I get those annoying spots on my cheeks despite wearing sunscreen, so wearing a hat with a wide brim is important too.

caudalieThe lightest but most efficient sunscreen moisturizer I’ve come across (and I’ve tried dozens!) is the Resveratrol Face Lifting Moisturizer SPF 20 from Caudalie. It blocks the sun’s rays, and also contains a powerful antioxidant in grapes and red wine, called resveratrol, which may help lower your odds of getting cancer, heart disease, and premature aging. I like to use this as encouragement to drink a glass of red wine each day! The hydrating daily moisturizer is a part of Caudalie’s Resveratrol Lift Collection, products developed in collaboration with Dr. David Sinclair of Harvard University powered by a patented molecule proven to reverse visible sings of aging. Key ingredients include Stabilized Vine Resveratrol, micro hyaluronic acids, anti-slackening peptides and soft-focus pigments. It is an amazingly weightless and airy sunscreen, which is perfect for spring and summer. The scent is very faint and won’t bother even the most sensitive noses. Pores can breathe and the light moisturizer does more than double duty, providing protection and fighting environmental stressors which age skin quickly.

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Home, Insider's Obsessions, InternationalRebel Walls

cityI have a penchant for all things European, especially when it comes to design. The edgy, effortless cool resonates with me, and I’m excited to share my latest obsession, Rebel Walls. Wallpaper has never seemed fresher than when it comes from this cool Swedish company, transforming any space and endowing it with personality, a touch of nostalgia, or texture. If you weren’t already looking to upgrade a wall or splash some personality into your home, you will be after browsing the image gallery. Imagination takes flight, and I will be following up with a post about a special project of my own, so stay tuned.

I had a virtual sit-down with the creative director and artistic force behind Rebel Walls, Irene Gimmersta. I think you’ll be as smitten as I am…

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SkincareEve Lom White Collection

eveEvery year around this time, I am thirsting for a little bit of warmth and sun (the blizzards just don’t do it for me, and my skin takes the brunt of the harsh weather!). The weeks creep by slowly but surely with the promise of spring just around the corner. This bit of foreshadowing prompts me to do some prep in anticipation of brighter days, and my face is just itching for a pick-me-up. I love EVE LOM for its quality and effective innovations, and the Brightening Cream is no exception. The idea behind the cream is to bring radiance to skin while tweaking hyperpigmentation and hydrating. I’ve been using the cream for over four weeks now, and am enjoying my even, brighter skin tone and a smoother complexion. My routine each evening includes cleansing and exfoliation (twice a week), and applying the brightening cream in a circular motion concentrating on upward strokes and covering my neck as well. While I sleep, the cream is hard at work, and I wake up feeling youthful and hydrated!

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Obsessions, SkincareAll Eyes All the Time

future-response-age-defense-dual-eye-creme-2The deluge of snow we’re slowly digging gave us a great time to rest and recharge, but was also a reminder that especially in the dead of winter, our skin needs around-the-clock protection from the icy winds and sun damage. For the skiiers and snowboarders out there, it’s imperative to use a good sunscreen since a combination of high altitudes and UV rays reflecting off the snow make it a risk for overexposure.  While I’m sticking to dodging snow piles to get around the city, I’ve been extra careful to protect my face, and especially my eye area. I love Amore Pacific’s Future Response Age Defense Dual Eye Creme, which ensures that the uber-delicate eye area is protected 24-hours a day whether out in the sun or recharging for the evening. Celeb favorite (ahem, Emma Roberts) brand Amore Pacific is rooted deep in Korean tradition utilizing the powerful polyphenols from green tea leaves among other antioxidants, and I’ve noticed the efficient bundle of ingredients improving my eye area. Using a tiny bit of the day and night creme every 24 hours, the thin skin under my eyes is looking healthier in just a few weeks with a younger plump to it instead of dark and line-ridden skin.

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