Beauty Battle: Guerlain’s L’ Instant de Guerlain vs L’ Instant Magic

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Anyone who knows me or who watches any of my videos, knows I love fragrances. Especially, Guerlain Fragrances. They are pretty much the only fragrances that I purchase and wear. I consider myself a bit of Guerlain collector actually.

Beauty Battles are a series that I created awhile back to compare two similar products against one another and see which one comes out on top. In today’s Beauty Battle, I’m pitting Guerlains L’ Instant de Guerlain against Guerlain’s L’ Instant Magic.  Although the names are very similar, that is about where the similarities end. These two fragrances couldn’t be anymore different.

The Fragrance Notes

L’ Instant de Guerlain is a very soft floral fragrance created in 2003 by the nose Maurice Roucel. The top notes are citrus such as Mandarin and Bergamot. The heart of the fragrance includes the soft white florals of Magnolia, Jasmine and Ylang Ylang. The dry down is the beautiful base notes of Vanilla and Musk.

L’ Instant Magic is more of a powdery, woodsy fragrance that was created in 2007 by Sylvaine Delacourte and Randa Hamammi. The top notes are Bergamot, the heart of the fragrance is Rose and Freesia and the final base notes are white musk.

To hear my final thoughts on these two fragrances and see which one came out victorious, check out the video below. Have you tried either of these two before? What is your current favorite fragrance? Sound off in the comments!

Au revoir!

L’Instant de Guerlain for Women

L’Instant Magic by Guerlain for Women

Eating Around the World – Tiffins at Animal Kingdom

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Now that we live in Orlando, we have made it a goal to dine at every restaurant on Walt Disney World property, including restaurants, counter service and more. This includes all the dining options at the parks, resorts and even Disney Springs.

We have started a YouTube video series called “Eating Around the World” where we share our experiences, thoughts and opinions on these restaurants. Recently, we found ourselves having an impromptu lunch at Tiffins at Animal Kingdom.

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I was very delighted to see the many vegetarian options that Tiffins had on the menu, because it can often be challenging to eat vegetarian at the Walt Disney World Parks. Tiffins is named after the Indian word for “lunch” as well as the three tiered metal lunchbox that Indian workers carry. It has a very globally inspired menu featuring Asian, African and Latin cuisine.

The decor is absolutely beautiful and inspired by the sketches that Disney Imagineers created while dreaming up and building Animal Kingdom. The walls are adorned with photos, collages and sculptures.

I ordered off of the Chef’s Prixe Fix menu and we started with the artisanal cheese board, chickpea falafels and a spicy cauliflower dish. Matt had a delicious corn cake dish that was similar to a polenta type of meal, topped with veggies and drizzled with a sweet and spicy sauce. I had the vegetarian noodle bowl, which was a spicy broth and filled with ramen like noodles and tons of fresh vegetables. Both were absolutely delicious.

To find out more about Tiffins and hear our thoughts on the restaurant, check out the video below.

Anti-aging Skincare – Retinols, AHAs & BHAs OH MY!!

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In my recent post on The Importance of Skincare, I mentioned using a Retinol product and a chemical exfoliating product as part of your anti-aging skincare routine. With so many products on the market, it can be hard to sort through whats what, am I right? In today’s post I want to clarify the difference between Retinols, AHAs (Alpha Hydroxy Acids) and BHAs (Beta Hydroxy Acids).

So What Are They?

Retinol, AHAs and BHAs are chemical acids, usually with some added benefits that help to refine the skin’s texture, minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, enhance collagen production and reduce discoloration such as sun and age spots to leave more radiant and youthful looking skin.

These are chemical exfoliants as opposed to a manual exfoliant. A manual exfoliant would be a facial scrub. You know the kind, usually with ground almonds or something similar. I prefer, and recommend, chemical exfoliants over manual ones.

Are manual exfoliators bad then? Not necessarily. The problem is that sometimes the exfoliating granules can be too harsh on the skin, especially if someone is heavy handed in using the product. Being too hard with manual exfoliators can cause micro tears in the skin’s surface leaving it more susceptible to irritation, infection and sun damage.

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Retinol, Retinoid and Retin A – What’s The Difference?

Well actually there is no real difference, yet there is. These products are a Vitamin A derivative. The difference is usually in the strength of the product you are using. Retin A is the strongest, which is why you need a prescription from a Dermatologist to obtain it. The Retinols you can get over the counter are a more gentle form of the product. Often these have other added ingredients to help hydrate the skin. Some Retinol products are even  placed in creams to make them gentler for sensitive skin types.

It’s a myth that Retinol products exfoliate. What they actually do is work deep at the cellular level of your skin to speed up the process, enhancing collagen production, smoothing skin’s texture and help to even out pigmentation and discoloration. I recommend that if you have super sensitive skin or conditions like eczema or rosacea that you avoid using a Retinol product.

Product Recommendations:

emerginC Complexion Perfection

CeraVe Skin Renewing Retinol Face Cream Serum

The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 5% in Squalane

So Then What Are AHAs and BHAs?

These are typically acids that are found naturally in certain foods:

  • Citric Acid – found in citrus fruits
  • Glycolic Acid – found in sugar cane
  • Lactic Acid – found in milk and tomatoes
  • Salicylic Acid – found in Willowbark which is also where aspirin comes from

These chemical exfoliants help to refine the skin’s texture by exfoliating off the dead skin cells on the surface, allowing for new cells to come forward, revealing younger looking skin that glows. AHAs and BHAs can also improve the appearance of acne scars, reduce dark spots and discoloration and help to smooth, tighten, firm and brighten your skin.

These are similar to the “peels” you may have heard of that are done in Dermatologists  and Esthetician offices. However, the over counter versions are gentler and safer to use on a regular basis.

AHAs – Alpha Hydroxy Acids

AHAs are water soluble and great for normal to dry skin types. The two most popular ones are Lactic Acid and Glycolic Acid peels.

Glycolic Acid is the strongest and most effective AHA. It works to help with cell turnover, stimulate collagen production and minimize fine lines and wrinkles.

Lactic Acid is gentler and better suited for sensitive and drier skin types. This AHA actually helps to hydrate the skin as it exfoliates; sometimes Hyaluronic Acid is added to help with maintaining the skin’s moisture levels. Lactic Acid helps to increase the skin’s firmness, reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and reduce discoloration such as age and sun spots.

Product Recommendations:

Reviva Labs 10% Glycolic Acid Cream
Reviva Labs Pomegranate Lactic Acid Exfoliant

No7 Advanced Renewal Glycolic Peel Kit

Pixi Skintreats Peel & Polish

The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% with Hyluaronic Acid 2%

BHAs – Beta Hydroxy Acids

BHAs are more oil soluble, so they are better suited for normal to oily skin types. BHAs, because they are oil soluble, are able to penetrate deeper into the pores to breakup dirt and oil. This makes them great for acne prone skin and preventing breakouts. They can also be great for some sensitive skin conditions like rosacea. Salicylic Acid is the most common BHA sold and used on the market today.

Product Recommendations:

Obagi CLENZIderm M.D. Pore Therapy – Salicylic Acid 2% Acne Treatment

Miss Spa Clear Blemish Patches

Acure Incredibly Clear Acne Spot

Yes to Tomatoes Daily Repair Treatment

pexels-photo-286951

Usage Tips

First, make sure you pick the right one for your skin type and your skin’s needs. I recommend starting with a lower strength and working up to something more powerful over time. Retinol in a cream would be more gentle than a more active Retinol serum for instance. Pay attention to how you skin reacts to the products and cease usage if your skin becomes inflamed or is peeling too heavily.  Also, keep in mind that with Retinols it can take up to 12 weeks for you to see a noticeable difference. So stick with it! Consistency is key in skincare.

I personally use both a Retinol product and Lactic Acid in my skincare routine. I prefer to use these at night while your body is at rest and your skin is repairing itself. However, you can not use these two together on THE SAME NIGHT! You must alternate the products nightly and I like to give my skin one day off a week. So my skincare routine would like something like this:

  • Monday – Retinol
  • Tuesday – Lactic Acid
  • Wednesday – Retinol
  • Thursday – Lactic Acid
  • Friday – Retinol
  • Saturday – Lactic Acid
  • Sunday – Skin’s Day Off – Hooray!

My nightly routine is Cleanse, Tone, Serum (Retinol or Lactic Acid) and follow up with a lovely moisturizer. I wake every morning to glowing, smoother and more younger looking skin. Remember, that these products can make your skin more prone to sun sensitivity so always wear your SPF during the day!

I hope this post cleared up some of the questions you may have had on these types of products. If you have any further questions or would like recommendations for your skin, please comment below or reach out to me on social media.

What is Pilates?

 

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When I tell people that I’m a Pilates teacher I often get a quizzical look. Followed with questions like “That’s like yoga right?”or “That’s like stretching for ballerinas right?”

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History of Pilates

Pilates is a method of exercise that was created by Joseph Pilates in the early 20th Century. Originally called Contrology by Pilates, it has become one of the fastest growing methods of exercise. Joseph Pilates was a German who was interned in a prison camp in England during World War 1. Some say that Pilates created the exercises that we now know to help keep his fellow detainees fit and healthy during the war; it was also rumored that he created resistance equipment by using bed frames and bed springs, as well as metal bands from beer kegs. These were the first Pilates equipment that we now know as the Reformer and the Magic Circle.

After the war Pilates moved to New York City where he opened his first studio and worked mostly with boxers. Because his studio was also in close proximity to many dance studios, eventually many dancers came to him looking for rehabilitation for different injuries. Joseph Pilates continued to teach out of his studio for many years, and wrote two books on his method, “Return to Life Through Contrology” and “Your Health: A Corrective System of Exercising That Revolutionizes the Entire Field of Physical Education”.

What is Pilates

Pilates is at it’s heart a physical fitness routine that builds on core strength and flexibility. Focus is put on spinal and pelvic alignment, breath, concentration and control of the core muscle group through body based movements. There are six principles of Pilates that are now known to be a major part of the method. These are concentration, control, center, flow, precision, and breathing.

There are mat exercises that can be done anywhere on a padded mat, and focus more on using one’s own body weight and movement to engage and strengthen the “powerhouse” and other parts of the body. There is also the apparatus that was created by Joseph Pilates and still used today. These include the reformer, Cadillac, barrels and more. These use spring loaded resistance to offer a more challenging strength and endurance workout.

When most people think about the benefits of Pilates, they think “strong core” But my friends, it is OH SO more than that. Everything that we do radiates from our center, or from our core, which in Pilates we call the “Powerhouse”.  Pilates not only strengthens the core but also improves flexibility. Pilates improves muscle tone, balances musculature, supports correct posture, and teaches you to move with ease and grace, while building flexibility and long, lean muscles, strength and endurance in the legs, abs, arms, hips, and back.

As you can see the benefits of Pilates are many. However, my favorite benefit of Pilates is the one that isn’t even visible to the eye; a calming sense of peace of mind. There is a wonderful mind-body connection in Pilates similar to when practicing Yoga. Pilates is like a moving meditation to me. The precision of movement that flows with both grace and strength whether on a mat or a piece of the Pilates equipment can not be beat.

As you move through the exercises with the Pilates principles in mind, you become more in tune and aware of your body. You have very little time to focus on life outside of the studio, as you become one with your body. The stress and tension of work, family life, etc. just melt away as you move through the exercises. It is indeed a very mindful practice.

Of course there are many physical benefits to practicing Pilates, as I mentioned above. Many of my students come to Pilates because of low back pain, or wanting to work on developing lean musculature and strengthening their core. Pilates can help you to look and feel your best, as well as teaching body awareness and good posture. Recent studies even show that Pilates can help alleviate low back pain more than other therapies.

In fact a recent Italian study “found an important improvement of pain, disability and physical and psychological perception of health in individuals who did the daily sessions of pilates”.*  The results of the study showed that Pilates was better at reducing pain in individuals with low back pain more than the standard treatment methods for chronic low back pain. That’s pretty powerful! Pilates heals!!

In my teaching I have many special conditions that I work with and all of these clients have seen amazing benefits from a regular and consistent Pilates practice. Whatever your goal is, Pilates can help you achieve your fitness and wellness goals.

Benefits of Pilates:

  • Increased Core Strength
  • Better Spinal Health
  • Improved Balance and Posture
  • Leaner Musculature
  • Increased Flexibility
  • Increased Energy
  • Improved Joint Health
  • Corrects Imbalances in the Body
  • Establishes Mind-Body Connection
  • Greater Body Awareness

It’s very easy to see how a regular and consistent Pilates practice can benefit you in so many ways, both physical and mental. Pilates is not only great for building core strength, or helping athletes to improve their games, but it can help the every day person (like you and me) to alleviate pain, build strength and flexibility and heal from the inside out. Give it a go and see for yourself.

The beauty of the Pilates method is that is accessible to everyone, and most of the exercises can be modified to suit different populations. If you are interested in further exploring the Pilates method look for a certified instructor in your area and try a class.

*Notarnicola A., Fischetti F., Maccagnano G., Comes R., Tafuri S., Moretti B. “Daily pilates exercise or inactivity for patients with low back pain: a clinical prospective observational study”  European Journal of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine. February 2014

The Importance of a Skin Care Routine

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I’ve always been a member of the “less is more” school of thought. I much prefer to focus on the benefits of a great skincare routine. Using good skincare also means using less makeup. I’m not dissing makeup either,  but think of your skin like a canvas. Having a perfectly primed canvas, meaning great skin, assures that your makeup will go on better and you’ll probably use less product as well.

So why is skincare so important?

Your skin is your most exposed organ. This leaves your skin susceptible to sun damage, environmental damage, early signs of aging and even certain skin diseases. Now I know what you’re thinking…”What about aging gracefully?” Putting vanity aside, skincare isn’t just about beauty or appearance, it is about protecting your skin.

Utilizing great skincare can also help with problematic skin like clogged pores or acne breakouts. It can even help prevent future problems like sun damage and skin cancers. Prevention is key as our skin is in a constant state of growth and change. As skin cells die off, new ones are formed and brought to the surface. This is also why consistency is important in your skincare routine; to treat and protect the new skin cells.

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The Basics of a Great Skincare Routine

Just as we are all individual and different, so is our skin’s needs. Make sure to pick products based on your skin’s needs. You don’t need a ton of products to take care of your skin either. Below are the basics of a great skincare routine. I recommend some products that I’m currently loving and using. I have combination skin and am more concerned with anti-aging and protecting my skin, so you may have different skin concerns. If you have any questions about product recommendations for your skin, please let me know in the comments and I’ll be glad to help.

Cleanse

Cleanser is important to remove dirt and impurities. Look for a product that is gentle, without harsh cleansers that can dry out the skin and strip skin of it’s natural oils. A lot of cleansers on the market today can pull double duty by having added benefits of anti-oxidants, vitamins, hydration etc.

My favorite cleanser is the Pacifica Beauty Rose and Kombucha Flower Powered Face Wash. I am also a huge fan of the oil cleansing method and typically use plain sweet almond oil or the Pacifica Coconut Dissolve Rehab Cleansing Oil.

Tone

Many people think that toners are an unnecessary step in a skincare routine. However, I think they are a very important step. Toners help to prep the skin for treatments and moisturizers. Most toners on the market are also great at helping to balance the PH levels of the skin. I recommend looking for toners or facial mists that are alcohol free. I personally  love facial mists that are moisturizing and calming to help reduce redness and irritation on the skin. I also love to keep these with me throughout the day for a hydrating pick me up.

My favorite toners right now are the Mario Badescu Facial Spray with Aloe, Chamomile and Lavender or the Pacifica Beauty Rose Flower Hydro Mist

Prevent/Treat

Again, as we have individual skin needs, what you choose to treat your skin will depend on your skin’s needs. Serums are targeting treatments with the most active ingredients to help with correcting, repairing, brightening, etc. Retinoids and Vitamin C are two that I highly recommend. A Retinoid is a great anti-aging treatment that helps refine the look of skin. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps to fight free radicals. Free radicals are usually caused by the sun’s UV light, air pollution, etc that cause damage to the cells.

I also really love using a chemical exfoliant on my skin such as lactic acid. These also help to refine the skin’s texture, leaving skin glowing and radiant.

The treatments I’m currently using include The Ordinary’s Lactic Acid 10% and The Ordinary’s 2% Retinoid in Squalene, as well as the CeraVe Skin Renewing Cream Serum.

Moisturizer

Moisturizers are an important step for flawless skin. Contrary to popular belief, all skin needs hydrating, even an oily skin. Skin can be both oily and dehydrated. The key is finding the right moisturizer for your skin’s needs. If you are more oily, try an oil free, gel moisturizer. If you are more dry, look for a cream moisturizer with a richer texture.

Also, don’t fall victim to the claims that some moisturizers make. This is really just about hydration but with the added benefit of antioxidants and vitamins. No moisturizer is going to fill or repair fine lines and wrinkles.

My favorite is the Embroylisse Creme Concentrate, which I use for day. For night, I prefer a richer, more hydrating cream and I use Guerlain’s Orchidee Imperiale.

Protect

In my opinion, protection is the best anti-aging ingredient you can buy. Skin is very easily damaged by the sun’s harmful rays; causing premature aging, sun spots and even skin cancer.

Look for products that you can use daily with a sun protection range of SPF 15-30. There are individual products you can use over your skincare and makeup, but now a lot of moisturizers and even foundations carry a great sun protection factor (SPF).

For sun protection I love the Coola Classic SPF 30 Makeup Setting Spray and the Guerlain Orchidee Imperiale Brightening and Perfecting UV Protector SPF 50.

I hope this post has given you some tips to take great care of your skin. Remember, you only have one face. Take care of it now! If you have any questions or comments please sound off below. Also, check out the video below for a bit more information on a great skincare routine and a little bit more about the products I use daily.

With Love,

Christopher

Klorane Peony Shampoo & Conditioner

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I don’t know if it is the warmer weather here in Florida or the shampoo and conditioner I’ve been using recently, but my hair and scalp has become very dry and irritated after our move down here.

I decided to go back to using some of my favorite haircare products from Klorane. Klorane has been one of the top haircare companies in France for decades. They use pure botanical ingredients including pure plant and flower extracts; without all the nasties like SLS.

The Peony line is wonderful at soothing irritated scalps. So I’ve gone back to using those products and it has been a huge help.

Here is what Klorane has to say about the products.

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The Shampoo with Peony for Irritated Scalp:

Klorane Shampoo with Peony

A calming and soothing pH balanced Shampoo that provides immediate & 24-hour scalp comfort to dry, irritated and itchy scalp.

Benefits include:

  • Scalp is soothed, comforted and hydrated
  • Cleanses while respecting scalp balance
  • Enriched with detangling agents
  • pH balanced, ultra-gentle formula
  • Hair is soft, shiny and easy to detangle
  • Biodegradable formula. Vegan
  • Hypoallergenic

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Gel Conditioner with Peony:
Klorane Gel Conditioner with Peony

A lightweight, moisturizing pH balanced gel conditioner that provides an immediate & 24-hour soothing sensation directly on the scalp while hair becomes soft and shiny.

Benefits Include:

    • Provides an immediate soothing sensation to scalp
    • Innovative applicator tip to apply directly onto scalp
    • Maintains an optimal scalp balance
    • Anti-irritant efficacy lasts up to 7 days
    • Moisturizing gel texture
    • Hair is soft, shiny and easy to detangle
    • Hypoallergenic. Biodegradable formula. Vegan.

My thoughts:

I definitely find that both of these products have been very soothing for my scalp. I’ve had less dryness and itchiness since returning to using these. I find the scent is very lovely, but it is light and not overpowering at all. Peonies are actually my favorite flowers so I love the light floral scent of this line.

Seeing how the shampoo is formulated without SLS, it does’t foam up a ton. However, it creates a very light sud that does a nice job of cleansing without drying or stripping natural oils from the hair/scalp.

The conditioner is a unique gel texture, unlike most conditioners we are used to. The gel is very light and does not weight hair down but still leaves a very soft feeling to the hair. I also find a get a lot of shine with the gel conditioner.

Overall, I really love both of these products and they have been amazing at soothing my dry and irritated scalp. Check out Klorane for any other hair or scalp concerns that you may have. I highly recommend this line and they usually include free samples with purchases.

Klorane USA

Eating Around the World – Paddlefish at Disney Springs

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Paddlefish, formerly Fulton’s Crab House, is one of the new dining options at Disney Springs. The restaurant is housed in an anchored paddle boat named Empress Lily and has been at this location since the late 70s. We have eaten at Fulton’s Crab House many times, but this was our first time dining at Paddlefish.

The restaurant has been remodeled with a trendier look than Fulton’s, but the upper scale dining elements are still there. Even the menu has been overhauled. You can still expect some great seafood dishes, but now there are some new eclectic additions. We started with the lobster corn dogs, which were amazing!

Check out the video below to see our full review of Paddlefish at Disney Springs. Let me know in the comments if you have dined here and what your thoughts are. Also, if you haven’t dined at Paddlefish, sound off in the comments with your favorite dining option at Disney Springs!