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Ask Spirit: Everything About Exfoliating!

Exfoliating is fun, easy, and yet a total mystery to many of us.  When do I do it? How often?  With what?  And the underlying question is; do I even need to exfoliate (or is it just fun)?  Well, essentially, no, you don’t need to. Your skin is an amazing, living thing and does a wonderful job of sloughing, protecting, purifying and regenerating on it’s own!  Contrary to popular belief,  exfoliating once or twice a week should simply improve, not substitute, your skin’s own ability to slough and renew.

So why exfoliate?  Taking exfoliation into your own hands means your skin is clear to evenly absorb good stuff like your organic face serum, while relieving it of bad stuff like built up waxes from cosmetics that trap dirt.  So since you’re dying to get to it,  let’s talk about methods and types of exfoliants and which one is best for you:

There are two basic ways to slough debris from your skin and infinite variations af the basic two:

1. Mechanical – where abrasives are mechanically ground against the skin to remove debris or clays create a vacuum suction effect over the skin.
2. Chemical – where enzymes or acids dissolve debris from the skin.


Mechanical exfoliants include things like face brushes, scrubs, drying clay masks, microdermabrasion and  exfoliating pads.

SYMPTOMS OF OVERUSE: I’ve seen it many times – Clarisonic Brush abuse!  Just like the “apricot scrub” of my day, skin brushes can be addictive.  The first time you get deeply exfoliated you’re hooked because your skin never seems to feel clean again when it’s not “sparkling clean”  In reality you may be thinning your skin, reducing it’s natural ability to filter toxins and pollution and making it hypersensitive.  If you’re brushing once a day or even more, you may be making your skin dependent on mechanical exfoliation and unable to function and renew as it’s meant to on its own.  Just taking a few days off, you may start to feel like your pores just aren’t as clean and sanded down as you’d like them to be.  You may even experience breakouts as your skin struggles to rebalance until it has regulated but try, try to hold off and let your skin be skin!  As we now know is true of many skin products that make us look amazing at first, overbrushing can actually speed up and exacerbate sensitivity and signs of aging over time.

Scrubs can also sometimes have the effect of causing the clogged pores to become deeper impacted.  To avoid this, be sure you are always only gently massaging the surface of the skin with your scrub.  Tempting as it is to get “deep clean” by grinding harder, you may actually be grinding debris into the pores rather than out of them!

Clays don’t just suck the dirt and debris out of your skin, they suck the moisture out too.  Always hydrate the body by drinking plenty of alkaline water when using a clay mask – and rehydrate the skin thoroughly after removal.  Drawing too much moisture out of the skin can provoke rebound breakouts and imbalance.

SYMPTOMS OF UNDERUSE: Wash your hands and run your fingers along the surface of your skin at the end of a day when you’ve worn no makeup.  Do you feel scaly patches?  Can you scratch the gunk off the surface with your fingernail?  Is it overly oily?  Do you have normal sized pores (not enlarged) but uneven texture and/or dullness?  Mechanical exfoliation will work  beautifully for you since your buildup sits on the surface of your skin – gently sloughing it away with a brush or scrub once or twice a week will keep you in perfect, glowing balance.  Only use drying clays where the skin is most congested, pores are visibly clogged, the skin is greasy, or where pores are enlarged and gaping.

DO NOT USE:  If your skin is sensitive, avoid abrasive cleansers.  If your pores are congested, skip the scrubs, use masques to exfoliate until they are free and clear and begin to shrink.

BEST IN CLASS:  Acure Organics Brightening Facial Scrub A base of  organic ingredients you’ll want in your smootie and on your face; like berries, lemon peel granules, cocoa powder and chlorella, make this the perfect bi-weekly skin treat to stimulate cell growth and leave the skin looking bright

ADVANCED EXFOLIATING: Whole Truth Solutions Clay Therapy Masque Cranberry Lemongrass French Yellow Clay literally draws impurities out and away from the skin with a force of suction you can feel as it dries. This magic masque actually becomes a mechanical/chemical crossover by also adding natural alpha hydroxy acid from organic citrus orange.


Chemical exfoliants include things like alpha hydroxy acid, glycolic acid and malic acid, papaya enzyme and pineapple enzyme peels, masques and cleansers.

SYMPTOMS OF OVERUSE: It’s easy to overuse mechanical exfoliants without even knowing it.  If you’re overusing a chemical exfoliant – chances are you’ll know!  Your skin will burn, become inflamed, or even peel if you’ve used a chemical exfolant that’s too strong or you’ve used it too frequently.

SYMPTOMS OF UNDERUSE: Blackheads, enlarged pores, congested pores and  dullness are all instantly reduced by a once or twice weekly enzyme mask or fruit acid peel.  If yo experience any pore congestion, deep or surface, start masking ASAP!  Generally enymes are underused.  Some are gentle enough to even use every day.

DO NOT USE: Never use chemical exfoliants on abraded, broken or sun damaged skin.

BEST IN CLASS: Tata Harper Resurfacing Mask  This award-winning mask gives us all the gain, but none of the pain of a professional peel.  Pomegranate Enzyme gently eats away trapped gunk from the pores while French Clay has a purifying effect. You’ll get immediate results despite how gentle it feels.

ADVANCED EXFOLIATING:  Dr. Alkaitis Organic Exfoliating Enzyme Mask Leave it to the Doc – all the organic enzymes you can attempt to pronounce in one jar – ready to be activated by a little water and eat anything trapped in your pores like a dermatological Pac-Man!

Still wondering which technique is just right for your unique needs?  Give one of our specialists a buzz on Live Chat for a free beauty consultation today!

Gorgeous Holiday Makeup Looks Gone Green!

This is the perfect low-maintenance makeup look for an elegant dinner party (especially one you’re hosting!) because the eyes make the statement, while the lips are free to nosh and gab!

TIPS:  The key to this classic, elegant look is expertly applied liner.   The most common mistake with this look is going too neutral with the cheeks and lips.  While you really want the eyes to pop, you still need a touch of color on your cheeks and lips to avoid looking washed out.
TOOLS: Nvey Eco Eyeliner & Brow Brush #7, Nvey Eco High Definiton Cake Eyeliner, Vapour Organic Beauty Atmosphere Soft Focus Foundation, Kjaer Weis Cream Blush Compact, RMS Beauty Lip Shine.

The Classic Vamp look will never go out of style and is always appropriate for black-tie formal affairs.

TIPS:  The key to getting  this look just right is finding the perfect hue and depth of lip color – not too dark, not too bright, and right for your skin tone.  Imagine Julianna here swapping lip shades with Julianne – not quite the same is it?!  You’ll also want to strike the perfect balance between the lips and the rest of the palette – too much eye and you’re more clown than gown.  Too little and your lips might wash out your face, making you look 5 years older.

TOOLS: For deep warm tones, try RMS Beauty Lip2Cheek in Rapture or Ilia Pure Lip Care in Arabian Nights.  For fair porcelain tones, try Vapour Organic Beauty Siren Lipstick in Ravish or Revolution Organics Freedom Lip Gloss in Freedom.  For light to medium olive tones, try Vapour Organic Beauty Aura Multi Use Stain in Impulse or Lure.

You don’t want to show up at the office party looking like a different person.  Make your co-workers jealous by looking like you just had a vacation instead!

TIPS:  The key to this sexy, understated look is great skin!  If you’re fortunate enough to be able, consider getting a professional microcurrent + oxygen facial (see: Ildi Pekar or Joanna Vargas in NYC) or DIY at home with the Tata Harper Skin Care Mini Facial Set.

TOOLS: Rose Marie Swift, the makeup magician behind RMS Beauty, is the queen of creating this glowy look so it should be no surprise you can get it using entirely RMS Beauty products. RMS Beauty “Un” Cover-Up – only as needed – let the skin glow, RMS Beauty Lip2Cheek in Muse, Promise or SmileRMS Beauty Cream Eye Shadow in Lunar, and the Hallmark of natural radiance: RMS Beauty Living Luminizer.

If there’s ever a time to play with color, why not New Year’s Eve?!  Try something you’ve always wanted to but never had the guts – the experiment may even embolden you in the year ahead.

TIPS: You can be wild and still pretty but wild can go too far.  Pick one area to play with color (lips, cheeks or eyes), but leave the others in the natural realm.
TOOLS: For Jennifer Hudson’s look, try a metallic eye with Kjaer Weis Eye Shadow in Onyx and Divine or RMS Beauty Cream Eye Shadow in Magnetic and make the lips pop with Revolution Organics Freedom Glow Beauty Balm in Blushed.  For a look like Olivia’s, neutralize the lips with Kjaer Weis Lip Tint in Dream State or Nvey Eco Advanced Care Lip Colour in 356 and make the eyes come vividly alive with Alima Pure Luminous Shimmer Eyeshadow in Aubergine and Amethyst and Vapour Organic Beauty Mezmerize Shimmer Eye Treatment in Lyric.  For a slightly down-played (unless you are getting an MTV Award) kaleidescopic eye like Katie’s, play with Vapour’s Vapour Organic Beauty Mezmerize Shimmer Eye Treatment in Dream, Stealth & Night.

For more custom color reccomendations, tips, tricks and advice, hit up one of our beauty-obsessed product specialists on Live Chat today!

Ask Spirit: Winter Hydration That Wont Cause Breakouts?

One of the most frequently asked questions we get this time of year is “How do I find a winter moisturizer that will keep my hydrated but wont make me break out?” If you’re breakout-prone, like so many of us are now and then, the last thing you want to do is use a “heavier” moisturizer – but you also don’t want to be stuck all winter with parched, undernourished skin!  The solution is layering.

By layering a penetrating nourishing  face oil with a protective moisturizer, you don’t have to worry about using something that’s too heavy for your skin.  Face oils are the best way to hydrate the skin on a deeper level but alone can be leeched out of the skin in dry, cold environments.  Moisturizers larger molecules tend to treat on the skin rather than in, with natural waxes that stay put longer to prevent moisture evaporation.  Together, you get the best of both – a light breathable barrier and deep hydration –  without compromising on either, which could lead to breakouts or buildup.

Picking A Face Oil: Start with the right face oil for your skin type and texture.  If you’re also using a treatment serum, apply that first, then apply your face oil.  Some of our favorites:



Best for Acne Prone Skin: Kahina Giving Beauty 100% Organic Argan Oil Women all over the world swear that argan oil stops their skin from breaking out and even heals acne scars.






Best for Damaged Skin: Pai Rosehip BioRegenerate Fruit & Seed Oil Blend Spend a little too much time in the sun this summer?  If your skin needs regenerating, this potent source of Vitamins A and E will get it done!  Important note: If you spend a lot of time outside, use this only at night as the ingredients are photosensitive.







Best for Dullnes: Ila Face Oil For Glowing Radiance Even the fairest skin should glow year-round!  Ila’s magical will give you a head-turning glow.







Best for Mature Skin: Amala Rejuvenate Treatment Oil Worth every penny if you want real results in reversing fine lines, wrinkles & dark spots, while deeply hydrating at the same time.  Amala products have an amazing way of being really potent but non-comedogenic.





Picking a Moisturizer: Your customized combination of face oil and moisturizer is the secret to perfectly clear winter skin.  Some of our bests:




Best for Adult Acne Prone: Amala Purifying Moisturizer Just enough moisture to keep you balanced.






Best for Sensitive, Reactive Skin: Pai Chamomile & Rosehip Organic Sensitive Skin Cream No one know sensitive skin like Pai does.  Finally something soothing that works.





Best Multi-Benefit for Combination Skin: Tata Harper Rebuilding Moisturizer All-day, lightweight matte moisture that plumps, hydrates, firms and protects.





Still wondering which combination is just right for you?  Give one of our specialists a buzz on Live Chat for a winter beauty consultation today!

What’s In Your Shower? Spirit Shows Us Hers!

Are you a voyeur like I am?  I love to peek inside the medicine cabinet.  As a beauty boutique owner, I’m asked all the time what I really use.  I know I’d love to look in your shower so here’s a look in mine.

Here in NYC, bathrooms and kitchens run small, tiny, but luckily I have one to myself in my apartment, that I can keep stocked with my favorite stuff, not for visitors or boyfriends.  I’d like to have an entire beauty boutique at hand’s reach when I shower and bathe, but critical cutbacks must be made. Here’s what makes the cut in my shower this summer.

Did you know that water quality can have an effect on how your products perform?  Since natural products don’t tend to be as lathery as conventional ones, I use a Crystal Quest shower filter and Oxygenics Elite SkinCare Showerhead.  The filter removes some of the chorine/chloramine from the water.  I’ve been using the Crystal Quest filters for years now and whenever I use another shower without one, I swear I can feel the unfiltered water drying out my skin.  The showerhead makes the shower feel more invigorating despite it’s being low-flow, and it adds oxygen to the water so that rinsing and sudsing works better.

One thing anyone can tell by peeking in my shower is that I’m nuts about exfoliating – always have been.  Just below the hangers where I keep my Hydrea London Body Brushes for dry brushing, is the first tray.  I alternate face cleansing between my two ALL TIME favorite facial cleansers, natural or not, which are the Kahina Giving Beauty Facial Cleanser and Tata Harper Regenerating Cleanser.  The Kahina cleanser exfoliates with enzymes so I use it when I feel like my pores are getting congested, sometimes with my Face Brush.  The Tata cleanser is my everyday, gentle surface exfoliant.  The third I alternate in sometimes is the Patyka Masque Gommant which I use when I’m in the bath.  I don’t usually recommend mixing up your skin care too much but I know my skin really well and can handle the changes without irritation.

You also see my nail brush here.  I used to always pick under my nails with a card or whatever was handy until my manicurist told me that actually pulls the nail away from the nail bed, making a dirt trap.  Now I only use a nail brush.

Then there’s my pink dental floss from Dr. Tung’s – the best dental floss on the planet!  Floss with something else and then floss with Dr. Tung’s immediately after – you’ll be shocked how much was left behind!  This is an area where more natural alternatives just don’t cut it (yet).

For body cleansing right now I’m using Pangea Organics Geranium Shower Gel with the sponge seen in the bottom tray.

On the second tray, right now I keep my summer hair stuff: Yarok Feed Your Volume Shampoo and Condiitoner and Ctonics Core which I use when I’ve been sweating alot or have a lot of product buildup.  It’s the only clarifying shampoo that doesn’t strip moisture.  My favorite summer scrubs are the Skinnyskinny Organic Black Coffee Body Scrub (especially in the morning) and Because Body Scrub which smells like pineapple and makes my legs looks super silky and glowy.  Oh and there’s my mustard bottle for mixing!







In the bottom tray,  I have my Sea Sponge, my Daily Shower Cleaner, and my top 3 night-of-pampering supplies (which of course involves exfoliating!) : Carbonized Bamboo Gloves, Ila Body Scrub For A Blissful Experience and Ila Bath Salts For Inner Peace.  I used ti make my own shower cleaner but have been too busy and this was the greenest available, although it does contain phthalate-free synthetic fragrance and  I’d prefer it didn’t.

I’ve shown you mine, now show us your shower supplies on our Facebook page!