The arrival of Summer, for the most part, is a joyous occasion that always seems to have taken forever to make an appearance, but when it does finally arrive it is not without a few results of beauty woes…I like to call them Summer’s Bummers. One such woe is the breakouts that seem to be the result of sunscreen usage, of course I would much prefer to deal with a few pimples than to have a skin cancer scare, but I would love to be both protected from the sun and have a clear complexion. Read more
Other than sunscreen and salty beach air, nothing smells quite like summer than light, refreshing, citrusy scents. True, the last thing you want to do in the sweltering weather is lounge in a bath for hours, but that’s no reason to skimp on pampering, and grapefruit bath products are on our radar to let you lather in a way that will leave you feeling clean and refreshed, even if you’re keeping your shower short, sweet, and on especially hot days, lukewarm.
Think of grapefruit as a sophisticated step up from the summer lemonade stands of your youth — it’s still sweet, punchy and summery, but with a bittersweet kick that keeps it wearable as a fragrance and not too sugary-sweet to lather up or lotion with. Plus, grapefruit itself has plenty of skin-boosting properties, from revitalizing vitamin C, moisturizing fatty acids, and toning oils. Whether you’re in it for its skin-smoothing abilities or just the summery aromatherapy, grapefruit will have you feeling refreshed and revitalized, no matter how hot the day!
From left to right: Niven Morgan White Grapefruit & Lime Hand Lotion, REN Neroli and Grapefruit Body Wash, Philosophy Blushing Pink Grapefruit Shower Gel, LaVanila Vanilla Grapefruit Body Butter, and The Body Shop Pink Grapefruit Puree Body Lotion.
– Alex Gambardella
One of the reasons I get insanely excited about Spring and Summerâ€¦besides the obvious warmer weather of course, is that this is the time of year when I actually have multiple and very valid excuses to go shopping for not only a new wardrobe but also new makeup and beauty products.Â I mean you canâ€™t really expect a girl to venture into Spring/Summer with products that are strongly scented and feel heavy.Â While they might have been great for Fall/Winter, when used in Spring /Summer they might attract some very unwanted attention (ever been chased by Bees?) and can also leave you looking a hot messâ€¦literally.Â So I was looking forward to trying out a new line of bath and body products called Quench Bath & Body from Around the World (the around the world part comes from the fact that their formulations are based on beauty â€œsecretsâ€ from around the globe) that launched this month in the hopes that it would be my go to line for the warmer months. I also figured you canâ€™t really go wrong with any beauty products that launch in Spring or Summer.
The products I tried were the Almond Sandal Facial Masque, the Saffron Herbal Body Wash, the Saffron Herbal Body Lotion, the Sandal Honey Body Butter and the African Black Soap All Over Wash.Â First off everything smelled incredible.Â None of the scents are overpowering or too strong for Summer, nothing was overtly fruity or flowery, and the scents were all unique and sophisticated but still very light.Â My favorite scent was the Saffron Herbal Body Wash and Lotionâ€¦the scent is feminine, pretty and soft, in fact I wanted to slip on a sundress after using both.Â A little bit of the wash does go a long way, which is always appreciated.
I absolutely LOVED the feel of the Sandal Honey Body Butter.Â I was skeptical about using body butter in Miamiâ€¦itâ€™s only May and temps have already hit the high 90s, but this body butter worked great.Â It moisturized without leaving me a sweaty, clammy mess.Â The Almond Sandal Facial Masque was great too, it left my face feeling clean without stripping any moistureâ€¦my face was also noticeably softer after using the masque.Â The African Black Soap All Over Wash however was not my favorite.Â The scent was great, but my skin felt a bit dry after using it.
So far my first round of beauty product testing for summer has been successful.Â I found a new body butter and body wash that Iâ€™m excited about, a definite plus that they not only make me want to bring out my girly side and wear pretty sundresses, but I also feel like I am doing my small part by purchasing products from Quench because the company employs small companies and co-ops, often from native communities and they also seek to foster fair trade.Â They never use animal based ingredients in any of their products and never test on animals.Â I have a few bridal and baby showers this summer so will most definitely be purchasing a few of the Quench gift sets so I can share the love with my girls.
Announcing the kick off to the 4th annual Mom: Get Glamorous contest! This year I am partnering with the lovely ladies from my home state of Rhode Island, Mom Generations, to find the most deserving mom to award the grand prize.
A Girlâ€™s Gotta Spa! and Mom Generations are seeking nominations for moms across the U.S. who have overcome adversity, boldly negotiated impossible odds, triumphed over tragedy, went above and beyond or is a pillar of her community. Simply put: a woman of fortitude and strength, someone deserving of the recognition and undeniably in need of some pampering. Is this you? Do you know someone who fits the description? Then you have until May 25th to submit a nomination and put her on our radar for an amazing prize package!
One very lucky mom will win $870-worth of beauty products:
Three Custom Color: A Century in Red Lip Palette, Cool Mom on the Go Lip & Cheek Stain, Aurora Creme Eye Definer, Eye Liner Brush (retail value: $108)
Zoya Nail Polish and Treatments:Â Zoya Nail Polish Color Wardrobe– Zoya Color Lock System, Zoya Sunshine Collection, Zoya Summertime Collection, Zoya Tasha (retail value: $152)
Lierac Skincare: Sensorielle Oil, Initiatic Fluide (retail value: $82)
Redken: Extreme haircare collection– Extreme Shampoo, Extreme Conditioner, Extreme Anti-Snap, Extreme CAT treatment, Extreme Strength Builder, Extreme Strength Builder Plus (retail value: $91)
Meaningful Beauty: Wrinkle Smoothing Capsules, Glowing Serum, Lifting Eye Cream (retail value: $176)
Spa Week: $75 Spa Gift Card â€“ indulge in the gift of health with massages, facials, mani-pedis and more at over 3000 spas and wellness centers nationwide. (Get incredible spa deals all year long, too!)
Contest Rules and How To Enter:
First, the person being nominated must absolutely 100% be a mom, age 18+ and a legal US resident. You can nominate yourself or nominate someone else. Your nomination must be a picture of the mom with her kids, as well as a 600 word or less written nomination telling us why this mom is so amazing. All entries are to be submitted via the Contest tab on the A Girl’s Gotta Spa! Facebook fan page. You must Like the page in order to have an eligible entry (as well as Mom Generations fan page.)
By entering the contest, should you (or the mom you nominate) be chosen as the winner, you are giving me the right to post this information and letter of nomination in the winning announcement on A Girl’s Gotta Spa! and Mom generations.Â Contest begins May 12, 2011 taking submissions until May 25, 2011 at 12pm EST. Mom Generations and A Girl’s Gotta Spa! will select the top 3 entries to put up for a public vote until May 30th. Winner (1) will be announced on May 31st. Retail value of the prize pack is $870. All products are brand new and unused and come â€œas isâ€ without warranty. There are no cash or product substitutes. I retain the right to revoke or cancel the contest and prizes without warning. Myself and the product sponsors are not liable if you do not like the products, if they cause an allergic reaction and the like. All information submitted via the app (phone #, email, etc.) will not be rented or sold by A Girl’s Gotta Spa! Previous winners are Jo Coiner Burzyki, Trina Davidson and Gerry Morrison.
*Image created by Weston Carls.
Finally! The warmer weather seems like it’s here to stay, summer seems to be inching closer and that means it’s about that time that I start daydreaming of places I can vacation. Being the spa girl that I am, I 99.99999% of the time look for a resort that includes a spa. It just so happened that in the midst of staring out the window to the blue skies the other day that I received an email about De’ Spa at The Beach House Iruveli Maldives. I clicked the link for the resort’s website and I was magically taken in and forgot all about life for a few brief moments.
The Beach House Iruveli Maldives has 83 villas, all of which are on the beach or on the water. The imagery on the website will take your breath away. Due to growing up in Rhode Island, and as I’ve mentioned countless times before, I have a long-term love affair with water. I cannot even begin to image my happiness quotient if I were to find myself in any one of their many luxurious, water-view villas like the one pictured here.
The De’ Spa is an open-air spa with ten massage pavilions dotted among lush tropical greenery linked by winding pathways flanked by a bubbling stream. The spa uses Aromatherapy Associates products in its Ayurveda and traditional Maldivian philosophies and offers a range of exclusive treatments harnessing the qualities of 100% natural essential oils. Two that caught my eye?
Fresh Coconut Scrub (45 min): Freshly shredded and locally grown coconut gently exfoliates the skin, smoothing away the effects of the salt water and sun. Your body will then be soaked in an intensely hydrating fresh coconut blend, leaving your sun-kissed skin soft and supple (and probably smelling good enough to eat.)
After The Sun (60 min): Relax as a unique infusion of lavender oil delivers intense healing properties, peppermint oil cools the skin and regenerative rose oil rescues a distressed skin. A hydrating mask is applied to the face while the body is lathered in nourishing shea butter and hydrating rose gel. To finish, an Ayurvedic scalp massage releases tension for an all-over relaxing, restorative treatment. (And hopefully your “before the sun” treatment was applying a broad spectrum UVA/UVB sunscreen SPF 30+!)
Since this resort and spa meets my “beyond my wildest dreams” criteria, I’m adding this to my bucket list of resorts I’d like to vacation at sometime in the future. What about you? Have you ever been here?
You can learn more about them at www.beachhousecollection.com.
What is a model to do whenÂ theÂ opportunity to shoot with an awesome photographer pops up last minute, but finding a great makeup artist to be on set at the last minute …on a Saturday…in the middle of Minneapolis Fashion Week…and in the beginning of wedding season, proves impossible…
Well in my case, she gets her makeup done before the photo shoot and hopes that it looks great on camera, stays put and goes with the hair and wardrobe once on set…that’s a lot of hoping!Â I just could not leave that much to chance.Â I needed to find a place to have my makeup done A.S.A.P and a department store makeup counter was not an option…nothing against department store makeup counters but I was already “hoping” that a lot of things would work out for the best and I did not want to “hope” that I would end up with an experienced makeup artist.Â As luck would have it, during Minneapolis Fashion week I had the opportunity to be a part of a fashion show that was co-produced byÂ Smart & Chic Beauty Lounge and the makeup look they created for the show was absolutely amazing so I knewÂ that’s where IÂ needed to go to haveÂ makeup done…if they could fit me in at the last minute of course…and thanks to the founder of Smart & Chic, Julie Swenson, they did.
Smart & Chic Beauty Lounge is a Bridal Studio, Beauty Boutique and Blow Dry Bar that also carries some prettyÂ amazing beauty brands as well as hair accessories and purses…I HAD to have the lip slip by Sara Happ and my new favorite makeup bag item; my love and toast roller perfume in candied citron…frankly I am still shocked that I only left with two items because I had my eye on a lot more.Â Smart and Chics’ atmosphere is very warm, inviting, comfortable and feminine, thanks to the furniture and decor that are all either heirlooms of Julies’ grandmother or were acquired from local antique shops.Â I was actually pretty bummed that it took makeup artist, Asia Schulz, less than an hour to create the look because I just did not want to leave my new happy place.
The makeup that Asia expertly applied was exactly what I had in mind for the shoot, it also lasted for the duration of the shoot and would have lasted longer had I not removed it (photo shoot makeup can be a bit much when you’re having dinner at a family restaurant). While I was getting my makeup done I also caught glimpses of hair and make up that was being created all around me and I can definitely see why it is a local favorite for bridal and special occasion hair and makeup.Â I will be back in MN in July for a friends’ wedding and will definitely be making an appointment at Smart & Chic to have my makeup done…I also need to grab the rest of those fabulousÂ beauty products that I missed on the first round.
As my experience with makeup has progressed from my blue eyeshadow and roll-on glitter phase (what? I was in 6th grade!) up through my more modern love for shimmery bronzer and eyeshadow primer, I’ve always had that one staple I can’t live without — my “desert island” makeup item. It used to be concealer, back in my teenage years of unpredictable skin, but then I unofficially switched to black eyeliner when I went through my more “artsy” days in college.
Nowadays, however, tinted brow gel is my new favorite beauty staple. Given the thin yet wiry (and extremely stubborn!) nature of my brows, I love how this product serves double duty by adding subtle tint (without the whole over-penciled “coloring book” effect), defining my brows’ shape, and keeping them orderly the whole day through. It’s amazing how much of a difference neat brows can make in the overall look of my face, and I love how tinted gel does wonders in making them look put-together in just a few simple swipes!
– Alex Gambardella
This past February I attended Lucky Magazine‘s FABB conference where Revlon was there in full force with makeup artists on hand to touch up our makeup before a photo shoot and on camera interview to discuss our power color. (Did I mention I met Joan Rivers?) If you saw my recent Travel Beauty post, it had a few of the Revlon items I picked up and fell in love with while at the conference.
I’m only in the video for 5 seconds, but I essentially said my power color is black. To me black is bold, sexy, powerful, strong, slimming and alluring. The product I grab in this power color is mascara. Always. Mascara makes your eyes stand out and draws attention to them. Your eyes speak volumes–joy, sadness, flirtiness…
What’s your power color and which product do you reach for in it?
This past weekend I had the opportunity to head up to one of my favorite local spas, The Lodge at Woodloch, to meet up with makeup artist Christopher Drummond for a 1:1 consultation. Christopher Drummond Beauty is now being sold in The Lodge at Woodloch’s spa boutique and I am so excited that Northeast PA gets to experience this spectacular vegan makeup collection.
I’ve known Christopher for about 4 years now, but this was the first time we actually had the chance to meet in person. Like a mother hen, I am so proud of him because I knew him when he was just launching his line with only 1 product at the time: Saude Pele Radiance Booster. When I walked into the spa boutique, Christopher was working with another customer so I had a chance to talk with The Lodge at Woodloch staff, my favorite being Stephanie who was so personable and funny, I was ready to give her my phone number so that we could hang out some time. There’s nothing better than being able to feel at ease in a spa where the atmosphere is inviting versus some that are so pretentious with their noses in the air (do you know what I mean?)
When Christopher told me I had to arrive without any makeup on, I was ready to put a paper bag over my head with holes cut out for the eyes. My skin just happens to be breaking out and I feel like a new age spot is debuting on my face every day. Christopher promised that the products he would be using from his line would conceal the flaws and highlight my natural beauty. (Chris and I were laughing hysterically before the picture on the right was taken. This is our “trying to be serious” shot.)
Here is the before and after shot (i.e. before shot was at 10:30am sans coffee):
The biggest thing I notice between the two pictures is how much my eyes pop. Christopher used Alluring Apricot Sateen Blush on my eyes, Soft Black cream to powder eyeliner and his mascara. On my face he used Concealer in Light, Veludo Velvet Foundation in Luz/Light, Finale Finishing Powder in Branca/White, Alluring Apricot Sateen Blush and Bronzing Powder. Lastly, on my lips he used Coral Reef Lip Stain (LOVE.)
If there is anything that I can say about this makeup, it’s that it feels as light as air on your skin. With the concealer, it is creamy with great coverage without feeling thick or cakey. And the best part is that you only need tiny dabs of it on your skin, so a little goes a long way! The Veludo Velvet Foundation is AMAZING–velvet, indeed!
You can find all of these products online at www.ChristopherDrummondBeauty.com or if you are local here in Northeast PA, stop by The Lodge at Woodloch‘s spa boutique to see them in person (and book an out of this world spa treatment while you are there! I know that their Lotus Salon and I will have a date for a pedicure soon enough!)
Growing up in Rhode Island, you come to love water. It doesn’t matter if it is the ocean, a creek, a river, a lake, a pond..or even a puddle. If there is a water view; I’m there. Heck, my house is second tier on a lake and I never get tired of looking out my front windows to see the sun glistening on the water or see the fog rolling atop like a blanket. So when Cara Mor Spa at Homewaters Club recently opened and I heard it overlooked the Little Juniata River, upon their invitation up to their resort, I was so there.
Homewaters Club is literally in the middle of nowhere. It’s about 40 or so minutes from Penn State down Hwy 45 and a beautiful scenic view. But being in the middle of nowhere is the best part. It’s quiet, tranquil, amazingly beautiful, serene and sitting on the deck of the Cara Mor Spa listening to the Little Juniata River waters tumble over rocks will surely put you in a state of relaxation.
My boyfriend and I arrived pulling down Riverside Rd., which is of course adjacent to the river itself, and found a quaint stone house in which was both the reception and fly fishing store. Erik greeted us and offered to show us to where we’d be served lunch and where we’d be staying for the weekend (despite a broken foot and hobbling around on crutches!) As we drove up the dirt road behind the stone house, our breath was taken away by the gorgeous log cabin buildings that were the lodges in which guests stayed. We would be spending the weekend in the River Suites, which was nothing short of amazing and honestly was like staying in a luxury apartment. The best part? No one had reserved the other suites that weekend, so we had the entire lodge to ourselves!
We were served lunch by Judy in the Family Lodge, which had an amazing log ceiling, gorgeous stone fireplace and felt cozy yet posh. We immediately loved Judy who made us feel like a part of her extended family. Chef Rock had prepared us White Chili, which was out of this world, and Judy had made us a delicious salad, prepared fresh strawberries and apples, served freshly baked rolls (that I literally consumed in seconds) and gave us homemade chocolate chip cookies for a snack. After all of that I was ready for a nap!
Judy’s husband, Joe, was going to be Bryan’s guide for fly fishing. Joe taught President Carter how to fly fish, as well as Vice President Cheney. Joe was a wealth of knowledge and just as personable as Judy. Bryan could not wait to fish for trout…but I could not wait to get to the spa.
Cara Mor Spa is housed in “The Bark House.” This comes from the bark siding that is on the house. It is one of the oldest buildings on the property (next to the stone house.) There is a lot of history here…and when in the massage room, there is an old German newspaper from 1940 stuck in the wood floor. Upon renovation to The Bark House to create Cara Mor Spa, the hard wood floor with the embedded newspaper was discovered under carpet. They decided to leave it intact and it certainly gives the room character.
I was greeted by Deb, Polly and Heather upon entry, as well as the amazing fragrance of essential oils. I felt even more relaxed immediately. Everything in Cara Mor Spa is white and shabby chic. It gave it a rustic feel and I told them that I appreciated all of the white since having sons means nothing in my house could ever stay white for very long. This was like walking into a home decor magazine. I would be working with Heather first in the fitness room. Heather had me do a warm up, then tested my core strength (which she told me was stronger than most–thanks to growing up a dancer and soccer player.) Next was myofascial release. Basically this is sustained pressure through “rolling” out pains in your muscles. It felt great on my upper back since I am at my computer working all day and tend to hunch over.
Once I was done with Heather, I was greeted again by Polly and Deb with a “Chunky Monkey” shake, which was the most delicious shake ever. It was banana, chocolate, peanut butter and vanilla protein. OMG so good and I drank every last drop. I then made my way upstairs where Linda greeted me for my spa treatment. The massage table had a heated pad, which made you instantly feel like drifting off to sleep. Between the music, the scents of the essential oils used and Linda’s amazing hour-long massage, I nodded off into dreamland 3 times (I only woke up because of my own snoring!) After my massage, Deb had a second helping of Chunky Monkey for me, which I gleefully drank and proceeded to spill…on my white shirt (thank goodness for the Shout Wipes in my handbag!)
I met Bryan back at The Family Lodge for dinner, where he told me the details of his fly fishing experience over Roasted Chicken legs, homemade potato salad (SO GOOD!), fresh greens, warm rolls and the most delectable dessert I have ever had (strawberries, a walnut/chocolate chip bread and an almond-type custard.) Chef Rock came in to greet us and Jackie was our host for dinner. While we were consuming our dessert and barely speaking…because our mouths were full at all times due to its crazy deliciousness), Jackie had gone over to our suite and started a fire in the fireplace for us. Donny Beaver, owner of Homewaters Club, also stopped in to say hello. He was incredibly nice and just as down to earth as he came across in our email exchanges. He was spending time at the Little J lodge where he was hosting a retreat for those with traumatic brain injury (something he does as part of his giving back throughout the year at Homewaters Club.) I felt honored to be somewhere where the owners take great pride in giving back to the community.
Breakfast the next morning was made by Judy–a bacon and cheese quiche, bran muffins, bagels, assorted jellies, yogurt and granola, fruit and coffee. I seriously never ate so good as I had that weekend. Conversation between Erik, Judy, Joe, Bryan and I flowed like the Little J River. They were great to be around and Judy and Joe have even been married for 50 years.Â Bryan set out for another adventure in fly fishing with Joe, while I retreated back to our suite to simply take in everything and relax before heading home. We finished with lunch of homemade chicken salad, homemade vegetable soup, more warm rolls, a garden salad and homemade cookies.
My takeaway from Homewaters Club and Cara Mor Spa? This resort is very high-touch with personable staff and uncompromised attention to detail. It is set on the hillside looking out to a mountain and the Little J River (I can only imagine how gorgeous the view is during the fall.) Couples get the best of both worlds where guys can spend the day fly fishing with an incredibly knowledgeable and friendly guide while the women can simply unwind in the spa (which is also open to the public.) Be prepared to eat amazing amounts of food that are superb in quality and flavor.Â Did I even mention that the bed was the most comfortable bed I have ever slept in? Some people sneak out mini-shampoos and soaps from their hotels, while I wanted to pack up the bed.
*Disclosure: This getaway was comped, but the opinions and experiences are my own.