The Best Kind Of Skincare

Sunday May 18, 2014 | Skin Care

The best kind of skincare is the simplest kind of skincare. I know that.

But somehow, in preparation for THE big day, I’ve allowed my skincare routine to go all topsy turvey.

I fell into the trap of quickly switching from one product to another, hoping to find that one miraculous product that will give me perfect airbrushed glowy skin you find in stock photos. (Hint: never gonna happen.)

And you know what happened? My skin got really mad.

A Skincare Routine In Disarray

An array of skincare products

Two weeks ago, my skin broke out into angry giant cystic pimples and it felt raw and it looked dry and flaky. The exact opposite of what I wanted it to look like!

A retinol serum did that. Obviously the concentration was too much for my skin to handle. So I stopped using that ish right away.

When your skin hates a product, there is only one thing to do. Cold turkey STOP using that product.

Don’t keep going at it with ideas like, “Oh, my skin will get used to it.” or “It’s just making the bad things come up to the surface.”

Listen to your skin. It’s begging you to stop!

It took about two weeks but my skin is finally back to normal again.

Phew…

Two more weeks to go!

My Truest True Love: Rose Floral Water

Sunday May 4, 2014 | Beauty Skin Care

Simplicity In Skincare

Aroma Zone Rose Hydrolate

Nothing embodies simplicity and beauty in skincare like a pure rose floral water.

Floral water, more generally known as hydrosol, is the condensate water left over after extracting the essential oils from flowers and plants through the process of steam distillation.

The water retains the aromatic essences of the plant plus many of the hydrophilic parts of the plant that are not captured in the extraction of the essential oil.

Hydrosols carry the scent of the plant, though the fragrance is much softer and more rounded. As such, it is wonderful for aromatherapy.

It is often the first thing you will find in the ingredients list of many natural cosmetic products, though it may go under the name of essential water or water distillate.

There is a whole universe of floral and herbal waters to discover, each with their own unique properties.

But above all, my favorite is Rose Floral Water.

A Rose Is A Rose

A rose is a rose

It’s almost a cliché how much roses have come to symbolize beauty and romance.

But there is something in all of us that knows beauty when we see it.

What may not be so obvious is the many ways roses can be used.

For example, rose water can be used in cooking. Many North African recipes call for rose water. I’m thinking especially of those small rose-flavored Algerian nougats. Mmm

When it comes to skincare, rose floral water has many beautifying properties.

It has a toning, hydrating and nourishing effect on the skin.

It can soothe inflamed skin and calm allergic reactions. Because of this, rose water can be a real godsend for people with sensitive skin.

Before applying moisturizer, your skin should be slightly damp in order to enhance absorption and seal moisture. And rose water is perfect for this.

For hot days, after exposing your skin to the sun, you can take a chilled bottle of rose water and spritz it on your face. Seriously, you must try this! The sensation is incredibly refreshing and rejuvenating.

In aromatherapy, the soothing scent can help relieve anxiety. In fact, the main reason why I love rose floral water is because it smells so divine.

Of course, not all floral waters are created equal. So when looking for rose water, I recommend you look for ones that are labeled as “pure hydrosol” or “pure hydrolate.”

Many products labeled as “floral waters” may be nothing but regular water mixed with essential oils. But true hydrolates are obtained through the process of steam distillation which I described above. 

A True Hydrolate

Aroma Zone Rose Hydrolate
One of the purest rose floral waters I’ve ever come across is the Damascus Rose Pure Hydrolate by Aroma Zone.

The scent is amazingly natural. You can’t mistake it for anything else. It’s rose! In all its glorious watery essence.

The brand, Aroma Zone, is not really a brand but a specialty shop in Paris. They sell the most basic natural ingredients & equipment with which you can make your own beauty products.

Normally, it doesn’t take long for a hydrolate to lose its aromatic properties. But the quality of the roses used in this bottle (grown and picked by organic, fair trade farmers in Morocco) and the technique involved in the distilling process must have been rather superior, because it has managed to maintain its aromatic essences for months.

Also, keeping hydrolates in the fridge helps to preserve them for much longer.

Nowadays, with the proliferation of so many super complex skincare products that boast of the most cutting edge technology and the rarest plant from the remotest corners of the world…

Sometimes it’s just nice to go back to basics…

Rose floral water. Ingredient: Rose.

Of Spontaneous Road Trips And Magnetic Poetry

Sunday February 16, 2014 | Musings

Celebrating love is fun and sweet.

It should be done every day. Not just on Valentine’s Day.

But yesterday’s Valentine’s was perhaps one of the best I’ve ever had!

When Oliver got back from his business trip from Paris, I’d accidentally gotten a peek inside his luggage and saw there was something wrapped in plastic bubble. I knew it had to be a Valentine’s gift!

But since I am a civilized and decent human being, I restrained myself from tearing the wrapping with my claws and teeth like a scavenging raccoon.

Even the night before Valentine’s day I was already trying to convince him that we should exchange our gifts (I’m like this on Christmas Eve too.)

We woke up yesterday and I immediately began to jump around with excitement and clamor that we should exchange gifts.

I gave him his gift, which was a tin box with a French magnetic poetry kit inside…

French Magnetic Poetry Kit

Then I opened the gift he’d given me.

Which was…

A family of owls

The cutest family of three little owls!

He had bought them for me at an antiques market in Paris. They feel so soft and are made from real feathers.

Confession: I had felt a slight pang of disappointment because there had been a secret part of me that had hoped it would be a ring even though it was me who had told him not to get me one for our engagement.

Of course I was being silly.

Actually, there is a lot I could say about the silliness of weddings and the pressures of following certain traditions, which can come up even for couples who don’t really care much for conventions.

But I will save that rant for later.

Back to Valentine’s Day. I let the silly feeling go, adopted the family of owls and named them “The Muggies.”

Entre l'enfer et la piscine

Later, while eating our breakfast sandwiches and drinking our Starbucks coffees in the car, I had the spontaneous urge to go for a very very long drive.

So we did.

We drove north, without a destination in mind.

It was both a sunny and foggy day. We drove along Ocean Beach, over the Golden Gate Bridge, and looked at how the fog blanketed the bay.

Then we followed Route 101 for a bit, before turning our direction to the left, towards the coast. Past the smallest, quaintest little towns in the heart of Marin county.

Along windy little roads, under the shade of redwood forests.

Un chapeau miniscule

We hit upon the entrance of Point Reyes, where we stopped and looked at a map. We wondered what Sir Francis Drake was doing out here, all the way from his little English island across the Atlantic across the continent.

How long must that journey have taken back then, on little ships with little sails!

Our drive eventually led us back on to the California 1 Highway.

Imagine the most narrow and twisted little roads, and on the right, sheer cliffs dropping off into the rocky ocean below!

I’d never driven on such ridiculously dangerous roads before. So I drove like a little daredevil. A cautious daredevil at that, enjoying the lurching sensation as the car hugged the sharp curves of the road.

We stopped a few more times to enjoy the feeling of the air and the wind on our faces.

j'ai envie du champagne

The whole drive lasted for around two and a half hours. The rest of the afternoon was not as exciting, as we spent the time taking care of the things we needed to take care of.

But later in the evening, we opened a bottle of wine, lit some candles, danced to Sade’s “Smooth Operator” and had a good laugh at ourselves.

The Muggies

Cheers to the times that we spend with our best friends!

Wishing you Happy Valentines, from “the Muggies” !!!