Relaxation When You Need It Most: Ayurvedic Massage @ Burke Williams Spa

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When the team at the Burke Williams Spa reached out and asked if I wanted to try their Ananda massage treatment focused on channeling energy to heal the body and mind, it could not have been better timing. Why?

Over the past few years, I’ve realized that the list of demands I could take care of in a day is just going to continue growing, all the time. I’ve learned that at a certain point, it’s up to me to put a boundaries on what I can do in a day, and to decide when I will block time for self care. In practice, this can be exceedingly difficult and I have to admit that I need help with it. As a result, I’ve become fascinated with restorative practices that focus on stress relief to balance the mind and body. Whether that be massage, yoga, or meditation I’m finally starting to truly appreciate the value of these well-touted practices.

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How To Prevent & Reverse UV Damage + An Interview With A World Renowned Dermatologist

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Applying my VMV Know-It-Oil before Retin-A

Most of us are interested in knowing what we can do to keep our skin looking beautiful for life. A big part of achieving this is preventing and reversing UV damage caused by sun exposure (tanning beds in high school anyone?).  I’ve researched the impact of UV damage on skin, and what we can do to prevent it at length, but I still had some questions. I was lucky enough to snag an interview with world-renowned dermatologist Dr. Verallo-Rowell to find out exactly how to prevent and reverse UV skin damage, as well as clear up some confusion on daily UV exposure and whether people with dark skin need to wear sunscreen.

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Surprising Skin Care Secrets From An Expert Esthetician + A Coconut Oil Facial

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I was comfortably stuck in a skin care rut, until I visited Holly Byerly, Hayes Valley Med‘s Clinical Esthetics Manager and Senior Instructor at VMV Hypoallergenics. Holly treated me to an indulgent coconut inspired facial involving diamonds, oxygen masks, and delicious smelling VMV Hypoallergenics products; an all-natural skin care line that places heavy emphasis on coconut oil. I learned some surprising skin care secrets along the way, and realized that I need to shake up my current skin care routine.

A coconut oil inspired facial

Holly welcomed me into the bright, open space at Hayes Valley Med Spa where she practices esthetics in San Francisco. After snuggling under a warm blanket on the treatment table, Holly asked to me explain my skincare routine and examined my skin.

The VMV Hypoallergenics products Holly uses were created by a dermatologist + dermatopathologist who has refined the formulas with over 30 years of experience in clinical trials. Coconut derived ingredients extracts are a staple the main ingredient in most products of the line, and they’re as natural as it comes: no preservatives, allergens, or toxic nasties.

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Join us! Caity & Jill Host A Holiday Style Party at Tiffany & Co

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Next week, I’m teaming up with the lovely Caity of Moi Contre La Vie to host a holiday shopping event at every girl’s favorite store, Tiffany & Co in San Francisco! We’d love to invite all of you who are in the Bay Area to this fantastic event, where we’ll be sipping champagne (of course!), mixing and matching all of Tiffany’s gorgeous collections,  and posing for photos in our favorite pieces. It’ll be a great chance to start your own wishlist, or finish up that holiday shopping!

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Does Non-toxic Nailpolish Actually Last? I Tested 3 Brands

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There are so many fabulous low chemical, all-natural products out there that it’s easy to create a non-toxic beauty routine. I’m a huge fan of using these products, particularly products like lotion that I use all over (your skin covers a lot of surface area, so it absorbs a lot of nasties).

There are some mean chemicals in nail polish, which can filter into your body through your nail bed. Some are so terrible in the wrong doses, that the US Environmental Protection Agency has issues warnings about them. These toxic chemicals can cause cancer, birth defects, and other reproductive issues. If you want to know more, there is great info here.

If you’ve seen some of my fashion posts that I’m a big fan of a buffed, healthy looking natural nail. I think it’s one of the classiest styles, and I’m not a fan of nail polish removal and how quickly it chips. But what girl doesn’t love fun nail polish colors? The gel manicure was a fantastic invention for it’s staying power, but the UV lights used to cure it basically mini tanning beds that increase your risk for skin cancer (not to mention wrinkly, aged hands).

I’m going to be sticking with non-toxic nail polishes, but they must have staying power. So, I tested three brands to find out whether non-toxic nail polish actually lasts.

Enter 3, 4, and 5-free non-toxic nailpolishes polishes – this refers to brands who have removed the nastiest ingredients from their formulas including the following:

3-free non-toxic nail polish excludes:

  1. formaldehyde
  2. toluene
  3. dibutyl phthalate

5-free non-toxic nail polish excludes the above, plus:

  1. camphor
  2. formaldehyde resin

I compared a 3-free brand (Essie in Wicked) with two 5-free brands (Zoya in Dakota and Julep in Coco) brands on my left hand for a week to see which lasted the longest.

Before:

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After:

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The Good News:

Surprisingly, the 5-free non-toxic nail polishes (Zoya and Julep) both lasted longer than the 3-free (Essie). This is very good news for someone like me who hates removing nail polish! I actually preferred the Zoya color to the Julep, and noticed that it lasted the best of all three. However, I do like that Julep donates a portion of it’s proceeds to organizations that support women.

I was pleasantly surprised to discover I actually own a hot pink Zoya nailpolish from a over 3 years ago and it’s still in perfect useable condition. Long last on your nails, in the bottle, and non-toxic – I’m in.

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Other Common Low-Chemical Brands:

Common 5-free: Mineral fusion, Chanel, Estee-lauder,  Revlon, L’Oreal

Common 3-free: Essie, OPI, CND, Deborah Lippman, Butter

There is a great, more comprehensive list here.

Also noteworthy:

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Sally Hansen, a 3-free brand has come out with Miracle Gel, which claims to achieve gel manicure staying power without the lamp, thanks to a photoinitiator ingredient that activates in daylight (versus the intense UV lamp light). I haven’t tried it  yet myself, but I will soon and I’ll let you know how it goes!

What is your nail routine like? Any recommendations for a low maintenance, chemical free manicure?

xx Jill

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A Last Minute New Year’s Dress – Back to Black

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This year, I totally dropped the ball on my New Years dress. I had my eye on something sparkly with full intentions of finding a matching pair of shoes. Then I got caught up in a very busy Christmas/holiday week of visiting and events, our New Year’s plans changed a little…and POOF! Sold out. Gahhh! It’s okay though – like I mentioned in my last post, I’m a big advocate of versatile basics and keep my closet stocked with them for situations just like this. So, on Wednesday I’ll be rocking one of my favorite LBD’s as my last minute New Year’s dress.  The LBD is totally okay for NYE, you can keep it simple, classy, and dress it up as much as you want.

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Black Friday vs. Cyber Monday? It Doesn’t Matter – Just Plan Ahead

Man, do I loooove a deal, but not just any old deal. It’s so much more satisfying when it’s something I love and have been thinking about non-stop.

This is my favorite time of year to spend moola, so I self impose a shopping ban ahead of time to prepare. I’ve had some pretty fab scores in recent years, so I wanted to share my simple tricks for finding them.

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Keep That Hair Luscious! Myths and Truths About Breakage and Loss (for guys and gals)

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Hair is SUCH a big deal to most people, and zillions of dollars are spent by both men and women on the quest for long thick strands, or to combat hair loss. There is so much information out there that influences how we deal with our hair (whether we are age 25 or 50), and I wanted to sort the myths from the facts and find out what really works.

How can you really preserve your strands, combat hair loss, and help it grow? Let’s ask science (The Journal of Cosmetic Science is my new BFF).

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My Hair Now

First, a quick biology lesson you’ve heard before: Hair is made of protein, with several layers that grow from a follicle. On average, human hair only grows ½ an inch per month. That’s it, ½ inch! Hair evolved in mammals to perform many useful life functions, like looking good on a date.

I never, ever believed how fragile hair was until recently. I used to dye and dye (and dye some more) my waist length locks blonde for as long as I can remember, then straighten and curl without a heat protection product.

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