Monday, November 7, 2011


(Volume 2011.5)


…I realize it’s been awhile since publishing my last article, but with your indulgence and understanding, I have been otherwise engaged…among the various creative things I'm involved in besides writing, I’m also a professional singer; I auditioned for and became a part of the cast of Stephen Sondheim’s “Follies” at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater (two understudy roles)…between rehearsals, wig and costume fittings, and performances, I had to re-prioritize my entire schedule…the production has now been extended, and also forced me to cancel my plans for attending the International Spa Association (ISPA) Conference in Las Vegas…I was to have attended this important industry annual event in my capacity as a member of the media representing my ezine...this year’s conference would’ve marked my fourteenth…I do plan on writing an article about this year’s conference for an upcoming edition…sometimes one’s passions converge…a mixed blessing, for sure…

This article continues my “FALL POTPOURRI” article, which reviewed an extensive array of spa, beauty and wellness related products. Dynamics of technology, ingredient accessibility, socio-economic and environmental consideration, professional and consumer demand, and aspects of competitiveness in a free market system, have contributed to a dizzying array of products available to both professionals and consumers, that are based on their own set of criteria, preferences, and needs. Factoring all of these aspects into one dynamic for choice can lead to the selection process becoming daunting. Hopefully my continuing product reviews represent options for you to consider that will address some of your needs.


Clarisonic Sonic Cleansing is preferred and recommended by many dermatologists and estheticians because it is more thorough in facial cleansing because it removes more pore and surface debris than conventional manual cleansing methods; over time, skin condition improves and pore size appears to diminish. I’ve been using the compact Mia Sonic Cleansing device for four weeks and have definitely noticed a more refined appearance to my overall texture. I love how clean and fresh my skin felt after using the device and found it gentle enough to use twice a day; the vibrating brush head is also gentle and non-irritating. I’ve been using the Sensitive Brush Head with my cleanser and occasionally will alternate and use the Normal Brush Head. The Mia maintains its charge for quite some time, making portability easier. Clarisonic Sonic Infusion is an extended step solely for the delicate eye area via the orbital bone.

The Clarisonic Opal is gentle enough for this delicate area, but is also recommended for the lip, eyebrow and even forehead area. The Opal infuses serum in the eye area more effectively than manual application of eye serums. The unit comes equipped with the recommended Opal Anti-Aging Sea Serum; a small-dispensed amount of the serum is applied to the vibrating head and then applied in small circular patterns to evenly distribute the serum on the orbital bone area. After use, I lightly tap into the tissue any remaining serum. The results include a more even distribution of treatment product, minimized lines, and improved overall texture; it also helps to reduce puffiness and dark circles. I was also able to apply my regular eye cream on top of the serum without any irritation. The serum is formulated with mineral rich marine extracts and botanicals and is paraben-free. The Opal also maintains its charge for some time and makes portability easier. Both products were outstanding and a must in one’s “arsenal” of skincare.

Joanna Vargas Skincare ~ This in-demand skincare guru and successful owner of Joanna Vargas Salon, Skin Care Sanctuary in New York City on tony Fifth Avenue, now offers her line of green, natural and organic skincare and body care treatment products. I got a chance to try the Daily Serum, Rejuvenating Serum, and Exfoliating Mask. The Daily Serum is formulated with Argan oil, green tea, vitamins A, C, E, and F, oat grass juice, and larch tree extract (aids the immune system). The formulation helps to reduce inflammation and irritation, while protecting the skin from the assault of environmental damage (e.g. sun, pollution); the base of oils in the formulation moisturized my skin effectively. The serum was quickly absorbed and didn't leave any tacky residue. I enjoyed using the product; its fresh aroma was somewhat fruity. The product also eliminated the need to use a moisturizer, as the serum provided sufficient moisturization; this helped minimize my overall skincare regimen by eliminating an additional step and product. The Rejuvenating Serum, which I used at night, is formulated with Argan, neroli, rosehip, olive, jojoba and rosewood oils, larch tree extract and vitamin C. The formulation helps reduce inflammation, irritation and photo aging, while also detoxifying. The combination of these oils didn’t leave any oily residue on my face, and was quickly absorbed. Its aroma was also fresh and somewhat floral. The Exfoliating Mask is formulated with larch tree extract, kaolin clay, volcanic rock, vitamin C, lemon and orange extract, pineapple enzyme, kojic and lactic acid. This gentle exfoliator is more like a polish and left my exceptionally clean and smooth; my skin glowed. The aroma was fresh and somewhat fruity.

Kate Somerville ~ If you’ve been following my writings since the mid-nineties, you’ll know that I generally shy away from skincare that falls under the category of “cosmeceutical”. I wanted to try this line because of the accolades from consumer devotees I kept coming across. The products I tried included the ExfoliKate Intensive Exfoliating Treatment, Quench Hydrating Face Serum, and Deep Tissue Repair Cream with Peptide K8. After using these products for about four weeks, I thoroughly enjoyed using the product and its effectiveness; I noticed an improvement to my skin’s overall texture, firmness, luminosity, and hydration levels. Absolutely no irritation resulted from using any of the products, which has been the primary reason why I tend to shy away from cosmeceuticals. ExfoliKate polishes the skin with microspheres while delivering a cocktail of high performance fruit enzymes that target pores and dissolve any of the “nasties”. The powerhouse ingredients include salicylic acid, papaya, pineapple and pumpkin enzymes, rosewood and cinnamon extracts, aloe vera, honey and vitamin E. After cleansing, the product is applied and left on the skin for only a half minute and then rinsed off; the skin is polished, renewed and scrupulously cleaned. The Face Serum is a fabulous product with key ingredients that includes retinol, hyaluronic acid, vitamin E, wheat germ oil, and proprietary complexes that improve elasticity, firmness, while diminishing fine lines and wrinkles. The Face Serum was applied sparingly to my cleansed skin; after completely being absorbed, I then applied a small amount of the Repair Cream. I also loved the Repair Cream and found my skin’s texture smoother and luminous. The Repair Cream stellar ingredients include macadamia seed, jojoba seed, and hemp seed oils, plus silk powder; additional proprietary complexes also help to minimize hydration loss, as well as minimize fine lines and wrinkles; the skin was also firmer. Both products had a silky texture, were quickly absorbed and had no discernable aroma. While my skin type isn’t excessively dry, or laden with a lot of fine lines and wrinkles, overall, these products noticeably improved my skin’s overall condition. The skin definitely looked noticeably improved after use of products.

L’Occitane Divine Eyes ~ Organic Immortelle essential oil is known for its wrinkle and free radical anti-aging properties. A number of L’Occitane’s skincare anti-aging products include this precious organic essential oil. Divine Eyes contains organic Immortelle essential oil which also aids in collagen synthesis, organic myrtle essential oil for longevity, buckwheat wax to combat puffiness, ash tree extract to minimize dark circles and rose floral water to soothe the delicate tissue around the eye area. I fell in love with this product because it was gentle, non-irritating, moisturized well and minimized fine lines. It also made the overall eye area appear brighter and fresher and truly delivered on it performance promises.


L’Occitane Limited Edition Hibiscus Flower Shea Butter Hand Cream and Cocoa Flower Shea Butter Body Cream ~ Leave it to L’Occitane to one-up its Shea Butter line to include ramped up versions of one of its most popular ingredient and delivery system, Hand Cream and Body Cream. This time around they’re getting their inspiration from Africa with additional ingredients like Desert Rose, Hibiscus Flower and Cocoa Flower. The limited edition products also come in containers with indigenous designs that resemble vibrantly colored tribal cloth and unique patterns. I tried the Hibiscus Flower Shea Hand Cream and the Cocoa Flower Shea Body Cream. The Shea Hand Cream formula includes twenty-percent of the highly prized and super moisturizing shea butter treatment, along with the delightful fresh infusion of Hibiscus Flower. The Shea Body Cream formula includes twenty-five percent shea butter, along with the delicious fresh infusion of Cocoa Flower. Both products provide lasting moisturization without leaving any tacky residue, while naturally protecting and replenishing lost moisture to over-worked hands and tired feet.

red flower ~ red flower infuses global cultures into everyday lives with natural and organic derived products. I tried the japan sento set, a travel set which included travel sizes of their larger full-sized version of yuzu mimosa sea algae wash, ohana ginger grass bamboo scrub, wild cherry blossom rice buff, rose camellia plum soft-water mist, kinmoxei wild lime silk oil and plum blossom silk cream. The set comes in a lovely reusable bag. Overall, I enjoyed using the products, while letting my mind wander to distant Japan, luxuriating at an Onsen, while attendants catered to my every need. All of the products were gentle, non-irritating and performed well; I also enjoyed the fresh aromas for each individual product. Usually when I try skincare or body care products, I prefer at least a three to four week supply to gauge the overall efficacy of the product being tried over a consistent period of time. Because this was a travel set and I was only able to get about three to four uses, I wasn’t able to fully gauge longer-term effectiveness in terms of improving my overall skin quality.

Thymes Bergamot Vert ~ I have always enjoyed this brand. It offers a wide variety of products for the home including fragrance diffusers, candles, soaps, hand and body washes, lotions and creams. Within the line, there is a wide range of fragrances that are subtle. I tried two of their newer products, Bergamot Vert Hand Wash and Bergamot Vert AHA Body Lotion. The Hand Wash ingredients included lemon peel extract, honey, and glycerin. The Body Lotion ingredients included shea butter, lemon and orange fruit extract, sugar maple extract, glycerin and vitamin E. Product was quickly absorbed and didn’t leave any tacky residue. The crisp citrusy aroma of both products was fresh and invigorating. The products are also paraben-free. No matter which product or aroma I’ve tried from this brand, I’ve never been disappointed.


emerginC Red Carpet Primer ~ This product is getting a lot of buzz because it delivers results it promises. I don’t wear much makeup, but when I do, I prefer a minimalist approach, wherever possible. As I age, I enjoy finding products that prep and prime my skin, despite it being in excellent good condition. The Red Carpet Primer, formulated with vitamin C, acacia plant-based filling spheres, hyaluronic acid, and hydrating micro-spheres, was an exceptional product. It delivered exceptional coverage in a neutral tinted base. My skin was incredibly smooth and glowed. I actually found that once the Primer was applied, I didn’t need to apply a foundation, only finishing powder. This was a very impressive product.

Talika Eyebrow Extender Light Brown ~ While my eyebrows aren’t plucked over, parts of them can use a little help. I fell in love with this product the first time I used it. The clear gel is infused with tinted volumizing fibers that fill in any sparse areas to the brows. The handy twist applicator dispenses just the right amount of product, which is then applied using the soft brush tipped applicator. The Extender keeps the brow beautifully groomed and is also non-drying. While I tend not to use even an eyebrow pencil, I couldn’t believe how much better my eyebrows looked after only one use of this exceptional product. Besides Light Brown, other tints include Dark Brown and Black. This is a must-have in your make-up arsenal.


While I don’t follow what celebrity-dom is doing and not a fan of TMZ or other celeb-tell-alls outlets, I do enjoy the opportunity of trying new scents. Two new scents hitting the crowded fragrance field include Celine Dion Signature EDT and Shine By Heidi Klum EDT. Celine Dion Signature is a light scent with top notes of mimosa blossom, guava and pink lady apple; heart notes include jasmine, rose and magnolia blossom; dry down includes musk, amberwood and sandalwood. Shine By Heidi Klum is another light scent with top notes of mandarin, pear, and pink peppercorn; heart notes include mimosa absolute, Muguet and sunflower; dry down includes vanilla, Tonka bean and musk. Both fragrances had a fresh fruity-floral aroma, without being cloying or syrupy sweet.


Neuma ~ The hair care company with a conscience that is committed to beautiful hair through sustainability and environmental responsibility. Product formulations are based on ingredients that include certified organic extracts, renewable plant-based ingredients, and are free of synthetic fragrances, sulfates, parabens, phthalates, carcinogens, formaldehydes, and other pollutants. I had the pleasure of experiencing some of their various shampoo formulations; I deferred trying any of the corresponding conditioners, only because I have oily and fine hair to begin with and conditioners just weigh the hair down more. That said, I found the overall properties of these shampoos added just the right amount of conditioning in their shampoo formulation, eliminating the need to also use the corresponding conditioner. Shampoo varieties I tried included their Volume Shampoo, which is geared towards fine hair, such as mine. I also tried Moisture Shampoo for those days when humidity levels were minimal and contributed to drying out the hair. I also tried Renew Shampoo, which is geared towards for those that need to revitalize their hair or just want to “perk” up their hair and refresh it. All varieties cleaned well and rinsed well, leaving my hair in a renewed and healthy state. And while I enjoyed all of the shampoo varieties, I especially liked the Renew variety; it contains organic peppermint, corn mint and coconut oil, and not only smelled exceptionally fresh, but also made my head of hair feel “bright” and fresh. I also enjoyed the refreshing aromas of the other two varieties. I tried one of their hair treatment products, Argan Treatment, which helps to restore, tame and strengthen the hair’s overall vitality, while giving it a healthy shine. All of the products performed exceptionally well.


(Restaurant Spotlight for the Health Conscious)

Giordano’s Famous Stuffed Pizza ~ This popular multi-location restaurant franchise ordinarily would pose some eating dilemmas for the health-conscious, especially when it comes to choosing from a menu of cholesterol and calorie-laden primarily deep-dish pizza choices; however, I recently had the pleasure of joining one of my dear friends at the Giordano’s in Oakbrook Terrace, IL for lunch. Perusing the menu and their selections of appetizers, salads, sandwiches, pasta and pizza, we settled on several items to taste and share that included their Chopped Salad with balsamic and olive oil vinaigrette, Minestrone Soup, Thin Crust Spinach Pizza with Light Cheese, and Chicken Oreganato; the chicken was lightly sautéed and finished off in a sauce of fresh tomatoes, mushrooms, leeks, and oregano; it was served on a bed of linguine. We skipped the bread and butter, as well as dessert. The menu selections we chose were definitely healthier choices. The majority of today’s restaurants offer menu choices that include healthier options. Some restaurant menus are like mini books, and while it may take time perusing everything, and then making a value judgment, it’s worth the effort. And, when in doubt, always ask your server; our server was very helpful in clarifying aspects of ingredients and preparation. Although we didn’t go with the Stuffed Pizza, which this restaurant is known for, their varied menu and our menu choices added a new aspect to this restaurant, which exceeded the dining possibilities beyond the great Stuffed Pizza dimension. It is possible to enjoy healthy food choices in a stuffed pizza restaurant and leave without feeling guilty.

Now that fall has arrived and the colder months are approaching, our inclination to hibernate and stay indoor, all cozy and warm also becomes inevitable. Consider trying some of these products to help pass the time on those dreary days, and serve as a nice diversion from feeling cooped-up. You may just discover a new product that will have you wondering why you hadn’t tried it sooner. Enjoy the new season and all it has to offer. Until the next time….

By Terry Herman

Terry Herman is a recognized expert in the industry, and regularly covers issues that include business, management, operations, customer care, treatments, products, and trends. In addition to writing and reviewing, she is also a management consultant and motivational speaker. She also serves on EXPERIENCE | PREMCHIT Journeys In Retreat To Wellness Advisory Board, which is comprised of ten international experts in various fields of wellness and spa. She also serves as a Group Manager for the popular LinkedIn group, The Spa Buzz. You can email her at


(Photo credits as represented from the specific brand.)

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