Spa Foodie: The Chocolate Mask <3

Do you smell that? That’s the mouthwatering, chocolaty aroma of my face.

With February practically morphing into Valentine’s Month, everyone is talking about CHOCOLATE. Last night, I gave into temptation and hopped on the chocolaty bandwagon. What resulted was the glamorous masterpiece you see above and will see more of, below. I created my very own chocolate facial mask based upon some ideas I found online. My variation contains these skin-perfecting super foods: cocoa powder, sour cream, oatmeal and honey.

Before I take you on my Willy Wonka/Bill Nye the Science Guy journey, here is a quick explanation of why these four foods are great for your skin:

  • Cocoa powder is rich in antioxidants (even higher than green tea, black tea or red wine) that help prevent and repair skin cell damage. Cocoa also increases blood flow to the top layer of the skin increasing hydration and decreasing skin roughness. Chocolate contains copper, iron, manganese, magnesium and zinc for the promotion of cell growth, the repair of tissue and the absorption of nutrients.
  • Sour Cream will leave your skin feeling soft because it is rich in lactic acid (a type of alpha-hydroxy acid), which helps remove dead skin cells and build up from the top layer of your skin to promote new skin cell generation.
  • Honey is an anti-bacterial and a humectant that can help heal blemishes and repel bacteria while drawing moisture to the area.
  • Oatmeal has anti-irritant and anti-inflammatory properties. It makes for a great moisturizer for both dry and acne prone skin.

Now that you know the method (and science) behind the madness, here is a step-by-step pictorial of my chocolate facial mask recipe:

What you’ll need:

Cocoa powder, oatmeal, sour cream, honey, a mixing bowl and measuring cups

Step 1: Scoop 1/3 cup cocoa

Step 2: Dump cocoa into mixing bowl

Step 3: Scoop one cup of sour cream

Step 4: Dump sour cream into mixing bowl

Step 5: Scoop 1/3 cup oatmeal

Step 6: Dump oatmeal into mixing bowl

Step 7: Measure 1/4 cup honey 

Step 8: Pour honey into mixing bowl

Step 9: Mix ingredients with a spoon until the mixture is the consistency of pudding

Here’s the before picture:

Step 10: Apply mixture to face

Step 11: Leave mask on for 10 minutes (and take lots of silly pictures to pass the time)

…up close

This is when I really started to feel the mask working. It was cool and refreshing. Plus, I was very surprised to feel a mild discomfort from the sour cream’s lactic acid (this means it was actually removing my dead skin cells). This mask really works! The feeling vaguely reminded me of my chocolate Smart Peel at Exhale Spa last Spa Week (even though that experience was much more luxurious), because they both share lactic acid as an active ingredient.

Step 12: Wash off with warm water

After I washed the mask off (with a little help from some paper towels), my skin felt instantly smooth. I noticed a definite glow on my cheeks and forehead. However, a slight skin reaction did develop in the form of  marbleized light-pink blotches, seen below. It went away after about five minutes. I am pretty positive this was from the high lactic acid content in the sour cream (as I have no food allergies).

Afterwards, I went to sleep. This morning my face felt supple and not tight at all (which is usually how my dry skin feels in the morning). I’m very pleasantly surprised at the results of this mask, even though it looks ridiculous when applied. I WILL be doing this mask again. I mean, if this photo doesn’t score me a date for Valentine’s Day, I don’t know what will!


DIY Spa Treatment FAIL! Shaving Cream & Listerine Callus Bath

Yesterday, I found a really interesting do-it-yourself callus remover recipe calling for a foot bath of shaving cream and Listerine. I have never heard of anything like this before, especially with such an interesting ingredient combo. The recipe claims that “You can only use this method once a week or your feet will become very sore. Remember, this technique literally takes off a layer of skin.”  With a promise like that, you know I couldn’t resist. I HAD to investigate. Spoiler Alert: After the treatment I still had my calluses and smelled like a dentist’s office. Here’s how my failed Bill Nye experiment went down:

After the gym, I popped into the drugstore and bought a small bottle of both shaving cream and Listerine. At my apartment, I grabbed a mixing bowl and an old dish towel and follwed the directions to the letter.

Here’s what my foot looked like before:

Step 1. Put shaving cream on your feet

Step 2. In a bucket or sink, combine equal parts warm water and Listerine

Step 3. Soak a small hand towel in the solution of water and Listerine

Step 4. While the shaving cream is still on your feet wrap the wet hand towel around your feet and let it sit for 30 minutes

Step 5. After 30 minutes, use the towel to rub your feet. Some of the calloused and discolored skin will rub off

Here is what my foot looked like after:

And here is a close up of my heel:

During the 30 minutes I spent with my foot wrapped up like mummy, watching The Challenge: Battle of the Exes, my foot did get a little tingly and warm. Sadly, that sensation was just the false promise of a magical beauty remedy that did not deliver. I was so disappointed when I removed the towel and my regular, same old foot was revealed. I guess some of the dead skin was now more visible, but to me it was a total let down.

Then I got to thinking, maybe I was supposed to use more Listerine or more shaving cream or men’s shaving cream? What if this really was the Unicorn, the Big Foot, the Loch Ness Monster of all at-home recipes and I screwed it up? I guess you’ll just have to try it for yourself and see what happens!

 

Recipe via

 

Spa Foodie: When Life Gives You Lemons…


When life gives you lemons, make lemonade (especially if you are staying on track and still skipping on soda). Lemons can be used in a variety of different ways, around the house (Clean your tea kettle or coffee pot, cleaning your microwave or deodorize the garbage disposal) and of course they’re great for cooking (keeping brown sugar soft, making lemon zest, and cute cocktail twists). But did you know that fresh lemons can be used to improve your skin? Here are 3 ways to add a touch citrus to your beauty regime:

1. Lighten dark spots

Apply a small piece to the affected area and leave on for an hour. Or using a q-tip rub lemmon juice on the spot and rinse after one hour.

2. Soften dry elbows

Use a half lemon sprinkled with baking soda on elbows, just place your elbow in the lemon and twist the lemon (like you are juicing it) for several minutes. Rinse and dry.

3. Brighten and tighten pores

Lemon peels can be very lightly rubbed on your face for a nice skin tonic, then rinse. (And be careful around your eyes.)

Pepto-Bismol Helps Diarrhea… and Acne?

Remember Jane Magazine? I seriously loved that mag when I was 17.  Now that we’re all grown up (sigh), the creator, Jane Pratt has a freaking awesome new website: xojane.com, for us mature adults.  After perusing around the sex/love, entertainment and tech sections I made my way to beauty. After the first click, a very blonde, very pink face was staring at me from under the title, “I’ll Try Anything Once: The Pepto Bismol Facial.”

Cat from xojane.com tries the Pepto Bismol Facial

First thought: Well, that stuff is never coming off. Second thought: Why in God’s name would you put that on your face?

As I read on, I learned from Cat, xojane.com’s beauty blogger (and resident pink face), that Pepto Bismol contains salicylic acid, you know the active ingredient in like, every acne medicines. Interesting. Third thought: I need to get an expert’s opinion. This still looks crazy.

After chatting to Faina, the owner and head esthetician at Faina European Day Spa, I learned that salicylic acid is naturally found in plants like willow bark, wintergreen leaves and birch bark (who knew?), and is used to treat problem skin, e.g. blemishes, marks and scars. The acid exfoliates these problem areas, revealing new, younger looking skin. Faina uses salicylic acid all the time on her clients. She recommends their Acne Defying Facial ($150) which includes a salicylic acid treatment: exfoliation, cleansing, pre-solution, solution and a special cream to reduce redness and promote new cell turnover. This process is similar to the way Cat treated her face with that pink gunk; she exfoliated applied and then cleansed the crap out of her face.

On a side note, I’m not sure if you are aware, but I was a Division I athlete in college. So I got special treatment. I got to take the best (easiest) classes, like Over the Counter Drugs as a chemistry course. As I checked the Pepto label, I saw Magnesium Aluminum Silicate and I remembered learning about Magnesium in OTC Drugs. You can take Magnesium pills when you get poisoning or something, because Magnesium is an absorber. It’s an ingredient in Pepto because it helps soak up stomach acid so you don’t puke. That lead me to investigating Magnesium Aluminum Silicate and if it could help your skin. According to Acne.com, it’s been in liquid makeup for over 50 years as an anti-shine, anti-oil agent. So this ingredient could also help mattify skin and de-grease zits and make your skin better looking after the Pepto facial.  (See, sometimes college and the word association game pay off.)

In conclusion, there is defiantly some validity to the Pepto Bismol Facial. I may have to try this as a spot treatment first, because having my face covered in pinky gloopy grossness is not going to happen.

Wait! Before you run to Duane Reade and throw 17 bottles of Pepto in your cart, remember this: any time you use a new skin treatment, you run the risk of an adverse reaction. Everyone’s skin is different. Check the label and ask your dermatologist before you put anything on your face. You could be allergic to some of the nausea fighting ingredients in Pepto, and that won’t make you look so hot this weekend. Happy Pepto-ing!

Ps. If you break out after pink-face, there’s always Faina‘s.

How cute is this spa day!?

I absolutely loved this little Mother’s Day spa story sent to me by one of our readers, Ana B. The spa day  took place at “Ana’s Day Spa” in NYC… and the guacamole facial, manicure and full body massage may not have been 5 stars, but they were delivered with little fingers and a whole lot of love.

Last year I separated from my husband and moved back to NYC with two children to raise on my own. I had been through so much and wished I had enough money to go to a spa to be pampered if only for a day but that’s not possible with 2 kids, one salary, and living in the city. On mother’s day my daughter instead turned our apartment into a spa… She gave me a guacamole facial and even put cucumbers on my eyes!  She gave me a manicure, which was a bit messy but I didn’t care, and the massage made up for all the stress I had been through. The best part of my “Spa’’ was being able to really relax and afterwards I just felt so refreshed and revitalized. Sure the techniques and treatments weren’t 5 stars but the end result was an amazing feeling of appreciation for what I did have.

Have you shared an at-home mother-daughter spa day lately? What about a father-daughter spa day? Tell us below! Also, read these 10 tips for Bonding Over Beauty from expert and author Erika Katz. Take advantage of spa and beauty rituals by transforming them into unforgettable bonding experiences during those precious years.