Tag Archives: skincare

Madonna’s Skincare Line Is Finally Here

The first album I bought with my own money was Madonna’s Like a Virgin. I’ve dressed up as that woman on more Halloweens than I can count, and I almost exclusively sing her songs at karaoke. Skincare is also my drug of choice, and the singer just dropped quite the collection here in the US. Perfect synergy for all of my relevant interests.

Madonna’s MDNA SKIN line has been available in Asia since 2014, but as of yesterday, you can buy it here in the States exclusively at Barneys. There are six main products along with a few accessories. Prices range from $50 to $600, so we’re firmly in “Material Girl” territory here. The star ingredients come from the spa town of Montecatini, Italy — the line utilizes the thermal mineral water, volcanic clay, and olive oil from the region. It’s manufactured by the Japanese company MTG. It will soon launch in China and Europe, but no word yet on whether it will expand to other retailers here in the US.

Madonna had a little meet-and-greet for beauty-industry types in New York City yesterday to introduce the line, where she spoke for a good 20 minutes dressed in an amazing leather pussy bow dress with an attached apron.


“I don’t want to mislead people into thinking that suddenly I’ve jumped from caring about the world to caring about something superficial. However, I believe that everybody wants, and has the right, to look as good as they possibly can,” she said. “Having good skin and taking care of my skin has always been important to me… This isn’t a vanity project, even though it’s connected to vanity.”

The brand gave us the entire collection to try at home, which I did in earnest last night and this morning. Obviously I can’t speak to the long-term effects, but here is my snap judgment on each product, rated on the only system that makes sense here: Madonna songs.

The Chrome Clay Mask ($120/$220): This mask, which is the cornerstone of the collection, contains iron pigments, and you remove it with a magnet. Madonna told the crowd, much to everyone’s amusement, that she uses it on her butt and that we should “ask our significant other to remove it” for us. We’ve discussed this semi-gimmicky concept at length here, so I’ll just say I’m skeptical that a magnet offers much benefit.

The mask itself felt great — creamy with a slight bit of grit to it— and it didn’t dry in that tightening way that some clay masks do. It requires accessories, though. The Magnetic Flow wand ($180) removes the mask when you wave it over your face, and you need covers ($15) for the wand, otherwise it’s hard to clean the residue off. (Saran Wrap would work, though.)

The mask left an oily, serum-like coating on my face, which I wiped off but then read I was supposed to massage into my skin. Oops. The wand uses a battery and supposedly functions to help the juice absorb better when you rub it on your face after you take the mask off. The whole process left me feeling a little bit confused and uncomfortable, much like “Justify My Love” does to this day.

MDNA Skin Skin Rejuvenator Set

Skin Rejuvenator Set ($600): While you can buy all the pieces of the chrome clay mask separately, this is the whole set, along with a special stand to nestle your Magnetic Flow wand in. This is the equivalent of Madonna’s Sex book, which caused quite a commotion in its day, not to mention it had a metal cover covered in plastic, so, similar theme. This slightly sadomasochistic product will likely offend some people, similar to the softcore BDSM porn within Sex did.


Muji Is Asia’s Most Underrated Skincare Line

Muji, Japan’s great housewares chain, has started to make inroads in the US, with stores proliferating on both coasts. The chain opened its first stateside store in New York’s Soho in 2007 and has added 15 more locations since then (the latest outpost opened in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, just this month).

Defined by its minimalist designs and ubiquity, Muji’s closest amalgam might be Ikea, but with way, way less furniture and way nicer housewares, plus clothes and books. But unlike a trip to Ikea’s mouse-maze warehouse — a slightly sadistic way to test tensile strength of any couple’s relationship — a sweep through Muji, with its calming earth tones and the dreamy hiss of glowing aroma diffusers, is more meditation than mental ward.

While less celebrated in the US than some of the store’s organizational products and clothes, its affordable skincare selection is equally zen, not to mention wildly popular in Japan. Think of it as Marie Kondo-ing your beauty cabinet.

The brand’s four skincare lines are coolly delineated in easily identifiable shades: sensitive(clear/white), natural (forest green), balance (light peach), and aging (copper brown). The wording on the skincare packaging is completely stripped down to the product type, like “light moisturizing milk” or “gel cleansing.” There is no romantic copy or big beauty promises. Muji has a “no-brand brand” ethos, so you won’t even see its own damn logo on your cleansing gel.


The modest non-marketing approach may explain why it doesn’t have a more prominent reputation. It’s easy to walk by the skincare section on your way to pick up some sheets, as I did for years. But despite that, a slew of its products have reached cult status among beauty Japanophiles.

Japan is famous for its cleansing oils, and Muji’s cleansing oil is one of the best on the market. It’s light and emulsifying, unlike some of the thicker olive-oil based versions out there, and yet it can remove waterproof Japanese mascara and still leave skin soft and hydrated. (Confession: I also love using it to shave my legs. It leaves my skin ultra silky but doesn’t leave a dangerous oil slick in my tub or give me ingrowns, like some more comedogenic oils.) And the light toning water — a watery hydrator that softens skin and shares nothing in common with the US’s astringent toners — is also a favorite of sensitive skin types.


In the skincare tools section, its cotton pads — stay with me — are also a hero product. In Japan, cotton pads are commonly used with hydrating toning waters as DIY masks, and big-time brands, like Shiseido, all put out their own versions. Instead of buying a ready-made sheet mask, you douse some pads with the skin-softening toning water and then plaster them all over your face. Muji’s soft, peel-able pads are stand-out for just that. They don’t shed, and they transfer product effectively from cotton to face when used as a mask.

Another favorite for fans of good, affordable design is the the eyelash curler, and it’s only $7.50. And among makeup artists, the goth-like black cotton buds are a low-key standard — their non-bendy tips make them ideal for applying creams and colors.

If you live in the Northeast or in California, you can swing by a store and play with the testers there, but all of Muji’s skincare products are also available online. The biggest bonus: The generously portioned full sizes only run $12 to $24, but you can purchase any product in a travel size for about $7 or $8 before committing to a full bottle. Finally, a little zen in the spendy, cluttered world of skincare.



6 Amazing Ways You Can Look Gorgeous Without Makeup

Whether you are a soon-to-be bride or a newlywed, you need to look your best at all times. But, you cannot apply makeup all the time. It looks unnatural and also exposes your skin to certain chemical ingredients, which can eventually hurt your skin’s texture. If you have a great skin and natural glow, it is possible to look beautiful even if you are wearing no or minimal makeup.

However, to look gorgeous without makeup, one needs to adhere to certain rules and live a systematic lifestyle. Here are some tips that can make you look gorgeous without applying layers of makeup.

#1. Drink sufficient water

Drinking water

Drinking sufficient amount of water will work wonders for your skin. Water infuses the much needed elasticity into your skin, and makes it appear well-hydrated. If you drink 7 to 8 glasses of water every day, you will soon find a unique radiant glow lingering on your skin.

#2. Proper skin cleansing regimen

Skincare routine

If you want to look gorgeous naturally, you will have to take care of your skin. You have to make sure that your skin is clean and free from blemishes. Follow a cleansing regimen twice a day. Make ‘CTM’ (cleansing, toning, and moisturising) as your skin care mantra. All you need is, an appropriate skin cleanser, moisturiser, and toner, all of which would keep your skin cleansed and healthy throughout the day. Apart from this, exfoliate your skin thrice a week to remove dead skin cells off.

#3. Take care of your hair

Hair care

Lustrous locks add to your beauty. Ensure that your hair does not become greasy. Use the right shampoo and conditioner for your hair. Try hair spa and oil turban therapy treatments to enhance the sheen and smoothness of your hair. Also, use natural products to protect your scalp against problems like hair fall, breakage, spilt ends, and scalp infections, etc.

#4. Stop touching your face

No makeup

Keep your hands away from your face, especially when you are outdoors. Do not prick those pimples, unless you want them to leave behind an ugly mark on your face. Do not rub your eyes constantly because that pulls and affects the sensitive skin around your eyes, leading to wrinkles. Remember, your facial skin is very delicate, so keep those dirty hands away from it!

#5. Pay attention to smaller details

No makeup

Beautiful eyes play a significant part in overall appeal. Eyebrows provide a framing effect to the face. Shape your eyebrows according to your face cut. You can wax your forehead for a cleaner look. Remove facial hair and excess body hair from visible areas. Visible hair protruding from underarms or upper lip can definitely be a big turn off.

#6. Smile please

No makeup look

Always take care of your lips and teeth. Never lick your lips and use a good lip balm to keep them soft and supple. Also, use natural ingredients too on your lips. Remember to always wear your million dollar smile wherever you go. Smile lights up your face and spreads a feel good factor all around.

Establish a regular skin care regime, follow a good and healthy diet, and drink enough water to look stunning without using makeup. Incorporate these few things in your daily routine for drop dead gorgeous looks!




If you’ve been on social media lately, you might be asking yourself: What is up with all the charcoal products? 

Ancient Egyptians used charcoal to successfully rid the body of poisons due to its antibacterial, antifungal properties. Activated charcoal is created by heating “common charcoal”—a product of peat, wood, coconut shells, etc.—in high-temperature gas to increases its surface area by creating porous holes. Once “activated,” the charcoal works by absorbing other materials into these pores. The ancient Egyptians were onto something—even today, activated charcoal is commonly used in hospital emergency departments to treat certain types of poisoning (research shows that it’s often more effective than stomach pumping).

Today, activated charcoal is showing up in myriad applications, from whitening toothpaste to facial masks, and even on pizza and blended into lattes. But just because it has real medical uses, should we be signing up to put it in everything we touch? 

Here are 4 facts health experts want you to know before you decide to introduce activated charcoal into your hygiene, diet, or beauty regimen.


Dr. Jennifer Dean, a dentist at Rancho Santa Fe Cosmetic & Family Dentistry, says, “In terms of whitening, activated charcoal, like baking soda or any abrasive, may offer some immediate change in color. However, these products can also damage enamel over time. As enamel becomes thinner, the underlying dentin will begin to show through and result in a darker or yellower looking tooth.” Enamel erosion is irreversible. As an alternative, Dr. Jen recommends dental whitening products “designed to diffuse within the tooth without damaging the enamel.” Look for ingredients like hydrogen peroxide and calcium phosphate in your teeth-whitening ingredients list rather than charcoal.


There have been only small-scale studies on activated charcoal’s ability to improve digestive health issues like gas and bloating. Based on these and his experience with clients, Dr. Will Cole, a functional medicine practitioner, says that “used in the suggested small amounts, activated charcoal is a safe product.” He recommends using “activated charcoal with no added fillers and from reputable, high-quality brands.” Look for activated charcoal made from coconut shells or identified wood species that have very fine grains. Still, proceed with caution: when not used properly, activated charcoal may flush out more than necessary.


Dr. Keith-Thomas Ayoob, EdD, RD, FAND, Associate Clinical Professor at the Department of Pediatrics, Albert Einstein College of Medicine warns against consuming activated charcoal as a daily supplement. He says, “There are various possible side effects like vomiting, constipation, blockages in your intestine, or diarrhea. You simply should not use activated charcoal if you’re not in an acute situation and if you are, get medical help rather than trying to self-treat.” Because of its binding ability, activated charcoal can disrupt the absorption of medications you may be taking, even common Tylenol, which could cause even more issues. A better approach, says Dr. Ayoob, is not to “tox” at all. He reiterates a truth we know well: there’s no substitute for a healthy lifestyle.


Dermatologic surgeon and RealSelf contributor Dr. Sejal Shah says, “Charcoal draws out oil and debris from your skin and also exfoliates, so think of it like a deep detoxifying cleanser for the skin.” Dr. Shah explains that with the skin, “Charcoal works by a process called adsorption (not to be confused with absorption), an electrical attraction that causes substances to stick together, so basically it acts like a magnet for dirt, oil and other impurities on the skin.” The treatment can be drying, so it’s best for combination or oily skin. Masks tend to be more effective than cleansers, “because adsorption depends on physical contact so charcoal needs to sit on the skin to be effective.” Dr. Shah recommends a Origins Clear Improvement Active Charcoal Mask or Boscia Charcoal Makeup Melter once or twice a week.

Overall, while activated charcoal is deemed safe and nontoxic, we can’t be sure of any long-term effects. If you want to give it a try, it’s safe to use in moderation (but maybe not on pizza). Apparently, age-old wisdom wasn’t totally wrong. 



Skincare, facelift and more: Top tips to help you glow this summer

Q I LIKE to store my anti-ageing cream in the fridge during the summer. Is this OK or will the cold damage the cream?

A LOWER temperatures are usually much better for creams and gels, particularly if they contain vitamin C as the cold can help prevent the potent antioxidant from deteriorating.

Eye creams and gels actually perform better if they are stored in the fridge as the chilled cream will constrict blood vessels, helping to reduce dark circles and under-eye puffiness.

Chilling aftersun lotion, sunscreen and body creams too will mean they feel soothing when applied. However, don’t store facial oils in the fridge as the cold temperature will thicken the oil and ruin the consistency. 

Q I have very wrinkly knees. Tights help disguise the problem in the winter but I feel self-conscious in the summer. I’ve tried exercise and creams but nothing has worked. 

A One option you could consider is a laser lift. Smartxide Dot laser treatment can tighten the skin by 30 per cent and stimulate new collagen production. During treatment the high-energy laser damages the outer layers of the skin.

As the skin heals, new skin cells develop leaving the knees smoother, firmer and more toned. You may need to up three treatments, six weeks apart. From £900 per treatment. Alternatively, try a chemical peel, which can work wonders on loose skin. One treatment will have an immediate tightening effect but most clinics now prefer to do a course of six to eight lighter weekly peels for a longer lasting result. From £60 per treatment. 


Suspension Lift is the latest noninvasive procedure

Q During the summer I get spots on my back. I have trouble reaching the blemishes to treat them so don’t know what to do. Can you help? 

A We call this problem “bacne” and it is a common skin issue during the summer. The hot weather increases sebum production, which leads to blocked pores and spots. Try a special back treatment, similar to a facial for acne-prone skin, which will exfoliate the skin and deal with clogged pores.

In our clinic we offer a Bacne Blaster treatment, which includes a back peel using glycolic acid to treat blocked pores, extractions, red and blue LED light to target bacteria and a moisturising mask to leave skin hydrated. It costs £120 and most beauty salons will offer a similar procedure.

At home, try using a long handled bristle brush to give your back a scrub while you’re in the shower.

This will boost circulation, bringing much-needed nutrients and oxygen to the skin. After you have scrubbed, blast the back with jets of warm and cold water to improve skin tone. To finish, spritz your back with La Roche-Posay Serozinc Spray, £8.50 (boots.com), a soothing spray that treats oily, blemish-prone skin. 

Q I would love to have younger-looking hands but I can’t afford expensive treatments. Is there anything you’d recommend I can do at home?

A Most of us are so concerned about facial wrinkles that we forget about other parts of the body. The hands often show signs of ageing first, such as thin, wrinkled skin and pigmentation marks. The first step is to protect your hands from the sun. Use a hand cream that contains an SPF20 every day and apply liberally to the backs of the hands. Once a week massage your hands with an exfoliating scrub and apply a moisturising mask to the backs of the hands.

Avoid washing your hands in very hot or cold water as both can irritate the skin and use a mild soap that contains nourishing and moisturising oils to cleanse the skin. Wear protective gloves when you are doing housework or gardening. Household products such as bleach spray and washing-up liquid can easily damage the skin’s natural pH balance. 

Q I HAVE noticed many skin products contain charcoal. Is this an effective ingredient? 

A CHARCOAL is an excellent skincare ingredient that has many different benefits. It acts like a magnet to absorb dirt and oil from the skin, removing impurities and decongesting pores. It also has natural exfoliating properties, which means that serums and moisturisers applied after a charcoal product will be more effective as they can penetrate the skin more easily. Try Origins Clear Improvement Active Charcoal Mask, £25 (origins.co.uk).


Find the perfect skincare for your complexion

Q IN the summer I suffer from dry lips. Is there anything I can do to get rid of them? 

A DURING the day wear a lip balm that contains an SPF to protect the delicate skin. Then at bedtime apply eye cream to your lips to nourish and plump up your pout overnight. If your lips are flaky, apply a thick layer of Vaseline Lip Therapy, £1.95 (boots.com) and exfoliate by gently rubbing with an old toothbrush. 



Priyanka Chopra’s Best Skin Secret Is All Natural and DIY

“This has been taught to us by our mums and our grand-mums,” Priyanka Chopra explained, wielding a wooden spoon in one hand, a lemon in the other. The Quanticoactress and Indian superstar recently stopped by the Standard High Line hotel in downtown Manhattan to reveal a few of her best beauty secrets—a series of simple DIY scrubs, learned from her mother, that are completely natural and deeply rooted in her heritage.

First, a bowl of sea salt lip treatment, into which Chopra delicately dropped a bit of pink rose water for added hydration. After a yogurt and honey hair mask came the ubtan, a traditional gram flour body scrub that she started using as a teenager to calm her dry skin. “The ubtan was my mum’s way of moisturizing, exfoliating my skin when I was 16,” she said, tapping a jar of turmeric powder into the off-white paste to get a marigold hue. “It really soothes—I’ve taught it to a lot of my friends.”


“Women in India [tend to] use natural products,” she went on. “It really does work for me.” Beyond the recipes below, Chopra takes an instinctual approach to beauty that focuses on healthy skin—a near constant flow of coconut water, to “hydrate your body from the inside,” along with bottles of Bio-Oil, the cult lavender and rosemary-leaf formula from South Africa. “I love moisturizers that smell really nice, because then you don’t need perfume—you just walk out like your own garden,” she added, laughing. “I’m a big believer in the fact that if you can walk out the door with no foundation, you know you’re at your beauty best.” Judging by the state of that perennial glow, Chopra always is.

Priyanka Chopra’s Sea Salt Lip Scrub

Add a pinch of sea salt, a few drops of pure glycerin, and a few drops of rose water to a bowl. Mix to combine, then gently rub the mixture over your lips. Wash it off, and you will see “plumper, pinker, and smoother lips instantly.” A few drops of fresh lemon juice can be added to brighten uneven color.

Priyanka Chopra’s Ubtan Body Scrub


Add a cup of gram flour to a bowl and mix with a few drops of lemon juice and enough Greek yogurt to create a smooth paste (for a thinner texture, also add whole milk). Next, add sandalwood powder and a pinch of turmeric powder. Apply the mixture all over the body, leave it on as a body wrap for 30 minutes, then use a little water to scrub it off and shower as usual.

For oily skin, skim or low-fat milk and fat-free yogurt work best. Whole wheat flour may be substituted, if gram flour is not available.

Priyanka Chopra’s Yogurt Scalp Treatment

For an unhealthy scalp, add full-fat yogurt, a teaspoon of honey, and one egg into a bowl. Mix and apply to the scalp as a mask. Leave it on for 30 minutes, then wash with warm water and baby shampoo.




Kanebo’s Chrono Beauty Is Inspired By Constantly Changing Skin Needs

Skincare is a lot like rocket science. There is no one formula that works for all individuals although there are several products out there that are labeled as ideal for all skin types. Lifestyle, genetics, environment and other factors both internal and external play an integral role in determining skin’s condition.

Age is a major factor that defines the type of beauty regiment fit for an individual. This is not to say that those enjoying their early 20s can afford to forego moisturizing and constant application of SPF. If anything, the use of moisturizer and SPF helps prevent signs of ageing. As one ages, the need to keep skin hydrated, revitalized and firm becomes more and more of a priority.


It was with these considerations in mind that Kanebo recently launched its newest line of skincare products inspired by the concept of Chrono Beauty. As the term would suggest the range was specifically formulated to address the needs of skin on a daily, monthly and yearly basis. As the body changes through periods of time so will skin and its needs. Case in point: during the warmer months, one is more prone to sun exposure and high temperature. As a result, the skin will need protection from harmful UV rays and heat. The season’s newest range was intended to address skin’s needs from moisturizing to cooling and revitalizing.


Kanebos Fresh Day Cream Light is a light day cream that moisturizes protects from harmful UV rays. The formulation utilizes botanical complex ingredients like Althaea root, golden chamomile extract and focus serratus extract. This day cream also functions as a base for makeup. Base notes of citrus, rosemary and eucalyptus give the cream a refreshing scent reminiscent of a morning garden.