Featured Healthy Living

10-Minute Pilates + Barre Work Out

Get your assets in order for summer with this fun 10 minute Pilates + Barre Workout, designed to create beautiful, lean, toned legs, abs and a firm, upright booty.

Best results are seen when practiced 2-3x per week, combining all 4 parts to this series:

1. Standing Barre (described here)
2. Core Series (plank)
3. Pilates Floor Barre Series
4. Standing Leg Series

We all have 10 minutes, 2-3x a week, don’t we? Put on your favorite new music, grab a chair, and get to it!




1 — Warm up:

Heels together, feet turned out: Rise up to half point and lower – 16x



2 — Plie’s in First Position: 

Heels imprinted together on half point, bend the knees and straighten 16x. Repeat: bending the knees and adding 3 pulses before rising back to half point.

Tips:  Watch for knee and ankle tracking – they should both be aligned over the toes. For knee issues, use a smaller range of motion. Keep the heels planted together!



3 — Plie’s in Second Position: 

Widen your stance, feet turned out on half point, bend the knees and straighten 16x. Repeat: bending the knees and adding 3 pulses before rising back to half point.



4 — Hold Plie Squat

Hold on half point in 2nd position for 60 seconds and try to balance!



5 — Down The Pole

Heels together, feet turned out, on half point: move hips side to side, bending and straightening the knees (4 counts down, 4 counts up).




6 — Stretch

Grab back of the chair and take a flat back stretch, to release the back and lengthen the hamstrings.




 PART 2: 


1 — Knee In and Extend:

Take the knee in towards the chest with a curved spine exhaling, then extend leg behind you and inhale – 4 slow, each side.




2 — Turned Out Knee Ups:

Knee turned out (in Ballet “Passe”), lift the knee towards the head (as the head bends towards the knee) and back to the knee position, 8x each side.



3 — Knee In/Out:

Starting with knee turned out, rotate the knee in across the body and back to turned out, 8x each side.


4 — Knee In Singles:

Rotate the knee in across the body in singles, 16x.


5 — Downward Dog:

Tips: If you have weak wrists, you can use a towel under your head, use fists, or do the series on your elbows.




 PART 3: 


1 — Abdominal Knee Bend:

Legs at 45 degrees, head up, chin tucked to chest:  bend the knee and straighten, toes pointed, 16x alternating.

Tip: Use one hand to hold up your head if you have neck issues.




2 — Leg Circles:

Starting with one leg pointed, reaching towards ceiling, inhale, and then exhale sweeping the leg around in a circle, trying to keep the hips and abs still. Reverse and then switch legs.

Tip: If you have trouble keeping your hips still, make your range of motion smaller.




3 — Single Leg Stretch:

Toes pointed, extend the left leg, bend the right leg parallel grabbing the knee with wide elbows, and switch legs, Alternate the breathing with inhale/inhale exhale/exhale – 16x.



4 — Double Leg Stretch:

Bend the knees and grab with both arms, curling up the head (in a ball). Extend the arms and legs out inhaling, and then fold back into a ball exhaling.

FloorBarre_4A_DoubleLegStretch FloorBarre_4B_DoubleLegStretch



PART 4: 


Standing next to side of chair, elbow should be resting on the top of the chair, leg extended parallel to the side, arm behind head. Do one side of the whole series, and then switch sides.

1 — Little Circles:

Draw little circles in one direction, then reverse, 8x each side.


2 — Small Pulse Ups:

Small lifts up and down. 16x.


3 — Kick Front-to-Back:

Flexing the foot, swing the leg front, then point the foot and swing the leg back. 16x.

StandingLeg_3A_KickFronttoBack StandingLeg_3B_KickFronttoBack


4 — Contract/Kick:

Foot at the knee, arm behind the head, turn the knee in towards the chair rounding the back, and then open the leg out into a swift kick! 16x.

StandingLeg_4A_Contract_Kick StandingLeg_4B_Contract_Kick_Option1 StandingLeg_4B_Contract_Kick_Option2


Susan Tobiason teaches Pilates and a custom Suspension Pilates Barre program called “Informed Technique” at the Informed Body in San Francisco. She has been a professional dancer for many years, classically trained in ballet and contemporary dance as well as hip hop and braziian, and also currently teaches at ODC Dance Commons. To learn more about Susan, her techniques and where she teaches, visit:

Photos courtesy of Amanda Kershaw Photography.

Featured Healthy Living Skin

7 Steps To Sublime Summer Skin

We asked Holly, Senior Esthetician and Brand Educator at VMV Hypoallergenics, to share some tips for summer skin survival. Survival, she scoffed, is so defeatist. And limited. Here are Holly’s top 7 steps to summer skin survival sublime summer skin!


InSKIN-SummerTips15-HByerly-SunscreenCollage-20150531Many of us still rely on the SPF that we apply in the morning or think that the SPF in our makeup is enough. That might be fine for the rest of the year when you’re mostly indoors (at this point, you should know that sunscreen is a daily thing, yes?). But in the summer, you need to be more vigilant. Sunscreen does wear, wash and rub off so it is very important to reapply every hour or two, and after swimming or toweling off. That’s whether you’re taking an easy bike ride in the country or strolling through the city, lounging on the beach or at the park, or training hard outside. No amount of sun exposure is damage free. If you want to keep your skin looking young, avoid sun exposure. Hats, sunglasses and protective clothing are also helpful. I use Armada not only for my own personal use, but also after each facial I perform. FYI: don’t dab: make sure to slather sunscreen on for real protection.



InSKIN-SummerTips15-HByerly-Serenity-20150531Serenity, positivity, happiness. Surround yourself with positive people, positive energy and positive summertime experiences. The days are lazier: focus on being in the moment more. When going on a walk, stop to look — really look — at all the beauty that you might normally rush past. Listen to happy, uplifting music. Music can be very inspirational and soothing. Regular exercise and a healthy diet help our bodies process and handle stress better. I like this website for quick guided meditations:



InSKIN-SummerTips15-HByerly-SeasonalSkincare-20150531Much of our skin’s premature aging can happen over the summer. Don’t wait till after to refresh. Ask your esthetician for a good home skin care regimen. Regular facials should be done throughout the year for optimal skin health. For my clients, I recommend a 60-Minute Superskin Facial every 4 to 6 weeks with a 30-Minute Skin-A-Jiffy Refresher Facial in between or as needed (a nice boost for dull, sun-dried skin). Regular facials plus a skin care regimen adjusted to your skin’s summer needs is like giving your skin a regular tune up. And just like anything else, regular tune-ups and proper maintenance are so much better than trying to reverse bigger problems like acne scars or very dry skin later. To book one of our facials or spa treatments (each starts with an in-depth consultation and is customized to your skin) call (212) 217 2762 in NYC and (415) 255-9510 in San Francisco.



InSKIN-SummerTips15-HByerly-Sanitation-20150531Heat + humidity = microbe heaven. Wash your makeup brushes! Our new Instant No-Rinse Hypoallergenic Brush Cleaner (check — it’s launching soon!) is great for daily cleaning and Essence Superwash for a deeper washing every few days, weekly or monthly (depending on your level of use).

For bugs that bite or cause rashes, try Red Better Flare-Up Balm to quickly bring down redness and itching; Boo-Boo Balm for fast, ouchless healing. For daily use — remember that skin with eczema tends to be prone to microbial infection, which can promote itching — try Essence Hand + Body Smoother, which is ultra-light and comfortable for summer use but still very moisturizing and soothing to very dry or atopic skin.



InSKIN-SummerTips15-HByerly-Sustenance-20150531YOUR SKIN IS WHAT YOU EAT. A good diet can improve your skin’s health and appearance. Control your meat and dairy; increase your essential fatty acids through a regular intake of small, oily fish, olive oils, nuts and avocados. Top off your diet with fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants. I add virgin coconut oil into my diet wherever I can! Know-It-Oil is excellent both topically and as a dietary supplement.



InSKIN-SummerTips15-HByerly-Smooth-20150531(DON’T) DO THE BUMP! If you find yourself with more breakouts in the summer, it could be due to sweat bacteria or a fungus that feeds on sweat going on overdrive. It sounds gross, but this fungus is healthy and natural to our skins. In the summer, however, when we tend to sweat more, the excessive perspiration can offset the skin’s good-microbe balance. When I feel oilier or have breakouts, I use Id Sweat Acne and Overall Antibacterial Monolaurin Gel — you can use it on face and body, and it cools the skin, too.




BEAUTIES SLEEP. The vast majority of people are sleep deprived, particularly women. The lack of sleep can leave one feeling forgetful, drowsy and also grouchy — all of these things can lead to more stress, in turn wreaking havoc on your skin (and, as more studies are showing, your body and brain). Commit to getting your 7-8 hours each night. A facial or spa treatment is a great way to get additional zz’s while taking care of your skin, too. A thorough cleansing with cool water and a SuperSkin Care Cleanser for your skin type and an application of a SuperSkin Care Moisturizer can help refresh tired skin. And our pale yellow No-More-Blues Skin-The-Bluff Concealer is the perfect eyebag camouflager.


Holly has a devoted following for good reason. She’s not only excellent at what she does; you’d be hard put to find a more soothing, gentle, good energy to be around. Follow Holly on instagram now for “skinsightful” tips, photos, recipes and more!


Family Blog Featured Healthy Living Skin

How About A Hypoallergenic Play Tent?

If you’ve got a child with eczema, allergies, or another sensitive skin condition, you know how difficult finding hypoallergenic play options can be. My daughter has very simple allergies to red dye and fragrance, and I’ve had to deal with an atlas of urticaria (swelling and redness) covering her little body head to toe after hugging a purple dinosaur all night; an angry red ring on her neck and arms from an orange blanket, escorted by a fever from the inflammation — plus her misery at possibly missing a beach trip because we weren’t sure if it was a viral infection — and other itchy inconveniences from accidentally touching anything with certain colors or scents, including just the little red patches on an adorable stuffed Yorkie’s plaid jacket. Even with her simple sensitivities, we’ve had to learn how to be careful about the toys she can play with, and the blankets and pillows that she can cuddle or lay on.

Enter this great find: Domestic Objects, beautiful brainchild of (rather beautiful herself) Sarah Jagger, a friend of mine. I saw a few of her teepees online and thought, goodness they’re gorgeous. The type of “toy” I wouldn’t mind leaving un-packed-away permanently. Then, I saw this white tent and thought…hey, my 8-year-old could play in that for hours…could even sleep in it…and not get a rash. One quick call to Sarah and I confirmed: the tent is 100% cotton canvas, no dyes, and anything that could be scratchy, like seams or velcro on the tie-backs, are elegantly hidden, safely tucked away from normal contact with sensitive skin. It even comes with pillows and a mat of the same material!

BINGO. A play option I could recommend to other parents of kids with sensitive skins. What I didn’t expect was how much fun this thing would be! I learned that first hand when photographing Sarah for VMV Hypoallergenics (stay tuned for those photos! 😉 ) On the same day, we were doing a shoot for upcoming VMV kids’ products (more spoiler alerts…I need a gag order) and Sarah graciously agreed to loan us one of her Teepee Play Tents. I knew that it would be perfect for the set…


…but I didn’t expect how popular the teepee would be with all the kids! We had more trouble getting them out of it than getting them to pose. This was true even of my 5-year-old son who’s currently in that the-ickier-the-face-the-cooler-the-photo stage. And that photo right at the top? That’s him completely immersed in Horton Hears A Who…it was like, despite the chaos of the production around him, that tent, and that book, were his world.


Like bees to honey, the second that tent arrived, we couldn’t keep the kids out of it. That’s my son playing adventure doctor on safari with his Big, Brave Boo-Boo Balm (apparently, now also for injured baby jaguars).


This is my friend’s adorable little girl quietly playing fairy…


…and this is my daughter, the one who now has more play options than ever 🙂

If you’re looking for plush toys and other fun things to go with your Domestic Objects play tent, these are some general best practices:

  1. Opt for uncolored items: natural canvas or white. If you’d like some color, stick to very pale hues and ideally, mineral or vegetable dyes. The biggest risks would be known top allergens dyes like reds (including purples), indigo, and anything really bright.
  2. Pure cotton is your best bet. Synthetic fabrics don’t take color well, so manufacturers sometimes add chemicals called “mordants” (related to metals, many of which, like nickel, are top allergens) to help the dyes bind better.
  3. Avoid elastics, spandex, rubber, or make sure these things are covered up by natural canvas or white cotton cloth.
  4. You don’t want anything scratchy like rough cloth or velcro that comes into contact with skin.
  5. Nothing fragranced (like potpourri sachets hidden in a pocket).
  6. You might want things that can be laundered. Bacterial colonization is common in eczema and can worsen itching in atopic dermatitis or even just dry skin. Cleaning them with a hypoallergenic laundry wash like Fawn & Launder every so often — that also has a skin-safe antimicrobial (coconut-derived monolaurin) — could help prevent additional bacterial exposure without using harsher antimicrobials.

I’ve been so obsessed with Domestic Objects since the shoot that I kind of want a tent for me. This striped canvas one in particular. But with pockets for a cocktail shaker and simple bar set. For moms and kids, hypoallergenic play options abound!

If you’ve got other hypoallergenic home or play items you’ve found, I’m a big believer in #goodnessbegetsgoodness. Share them with me below or on Instagram, and I’ll be happy to keep our finds coming, too! 🙂


Laura is the CEO of VMV Hypoallergenics and eldest daughter of our founding dermatologist-dermatopathologist. She has two children, Madison and Gavin, and works at VMV with her sister and husband (Madison and Gavin frequently volunteer their “usage testing” services). In addition to saving the world’s skin, Laura is passionate about learning, literature, art, health, science, inclusion, cultural theory, human rights, happiness and goodness.

Beauty Family Blog Healthy Living Skin Tip of the Week

5 Skincare Cult Faves You Need at a Music Festival

Karen’s our resident music guru and heads our Global Markets team. Follow her on Instagram/Naranwoah!

My eyeglasses lost out to contact lenses the first night I sought out a band (Bloc Party) live — you just can’t whip your head back and forth with the constant fear of flinging your spectacles at the innocent crowd. This contact lens victory led to another, unforeseen, loss: that of my ambivalence to eye makeup. I mean, eyeglass-less, you could SEE my bare eyes! After that gig, concealer plus intense mascara plus a trusty smoky eye duo became my staples for a concert night out.

Weekend festivals are another challenge altogether. After hitting several music festivals in all sorts of conditions — heat as sultry as the roster’s bands to green fields turned mud puddles — I’ve figured out my go-to skincare lineup:

1. Id Monolaurin Gel

With food stalls, grassy seats, and portalets, a festival isn’t always the cleanest hangout. With the nearest water source hundreds of swaying bodies away, having a powerhouse hand (and arm and leg) sanitizer that doesn’t dry out my skin is a lifesaver. It can mean the difference between gross and gloss.

2. The Big, Brave Boo-Boo Balm

Legit #womancrushwednesday Laurel Pantin raves about this miracle tub. I have tons of this super salve because on any given day (times 100 on festival days) I get chapped lips, dry elbows, mysterious scrapes (once from my wristband pass), insect bites, and all sorts of random boo boos. This is absolutely THE balm diggity.

3. Essence Skin Smoother

Dehydration can mess up your schedule, so packing water is as important as packing an answer to “Who are you listening to?” The same goes for your skin. Tonics and spritzers can be good at making your skin ‘feel” hydrated, but nothing beats the kind of moisturisation you get from a coconut oil-based moisturizer. This baby comes in a festival-perfect travel size, too.

You know what goes with incredibly smooth skin? Gorgeous Dannijo jewelry and accessories! Essence Skin Smoother gets a starring role as an exclusive​ #​DANNIJOCHELLA gift to celebrity guests as they immerse themselves in the LOVESHACK life!

4. Armada Lip Balm

One of the guaranteed spots people forget to slather SPF on is their lips! With SPF60, this balm is not just a serious soother for chapped lips, it’s seriously good protection!
You know who knows the importance of lip care and sun protection? Why, the leading fashion and lifestyle bloggers of, of course…many of whom enjoyed Armada Lip Balm in their specially curated #Blogchella Survival Kits!

5. Armada Sport 70 Sunscreen

Do NOT come down from a musical high with a bad case of sunburn. The ultra-lightweight feel of this sunscreen gets me through even the most tightly packed, sweaty-from-dancing-in-the-mosh-pit sets. On extremely sunny days, a bit of Armada spread through the hair works great as mane protection. One of its most surprising uses? An icebreaker with strangers; I’ve made several friends from shared sunscreen ; )

So, whether you’re heading to Coachella / Osheaga / Glastonbury or your BFF’s show at the local park, make sure your skincare game rocks as hard as you do!
Featured Healthy Living Tip of the Week

An Introduction To Juice!

Fruits and vegetables are awesome for you, period. But juices…well, that’s a whole different bag of bananas. Many of the juices we grew up on have been revealed to be little more than liquid sugar. Other bottles we get off the shelf are preserved to last longer in stores, dyed to look “healthier,” or “enriched” with various ingredients of debatable benefit (or harm). Still others that are “all natural” have been processed enough to remove many of the original nutrients or have added sugars.  We asked our friends at the very good, very wholesome Harvest Juicery — specialists at creating juices that aren’t only detoxifying and healthy but that “taste damn good, too” — to help us understand some of the basics about juice. 


There’s so much juice out there, how do I know if it’s really good? (I know you talk about cold pressed a lot on your site!)

This would come down to the process (besides flavor of course). The two major players in the juicing world are Centrifugal/Centrifuge or Cold Pressed.

Centrifugal: This process is quick, uses a lot less product, heats the product while juicing, only saves about 50% of the nutrients and enzymes, and the benefits are lost if the juice is not consumed right away or within an hour. These juices are usually made to order.

Cold Pressed: This is a much longer process and uses about 2-3 pounds of vegetables per 16oz bottle. Due to the slower process it does not heat the product while juicing, saving about 95% of the nutrients and enzymes and making this process the closest to raw as possible. These juices have a 72-hour shelf life and are made and bottled for a grab-and-go purchase.

What’s the best way to select a juice? Is more vegetables (as opposed to fruit) always going to be healthier?

The best way to select a juice is to know what you are looking for and what your body is in need of, which will point you towards something that is more vegetable-based or fruit-based. Depending on other considerations like pre/post workout, afternoon pick-me-up, more protein, something a little sweeter…there should always be a recommendation by your juicer based on your specific needs at that time.

I’m a bit scared of “green” juice. Is it really good for you? What’s the best way to start trying it?

I believe that the person who is “scared of green juice” is hesitant because (at least in my experience) most green juices taste awful, but we still drink them because we know they are good for you. I am a strong believer in making healthy taste good. It is possible. It’s all about recipe balance — not just throwing a bunch of ingredients into one bottle that do not necessarily pair well with one another but if they are all “good for you,” it’s ok. What we do is ask our clients what their experience is with green juice. For example, “have you ever had a green juice,” “are you a green juice lover,” “is this new for you?” From there we base our recommendations on what you know and like, and guide you in a direction of not only taste but more familiar ingredients as well. Once you start there you, can move up to the stronger greens.

How do I incorporate juice into my diet?


Any way that works for your lifestyle! Either for breakfast, pre/post workout, nighttime snack, lunch, afternoon pick-me-up, in rush hour to the airport…you can incorporate it into your lifestyle how you see fit and to address whatever needs you have.

What do you think of juice cleanses?

I am a believer in juice cleanses…when they are done properly. Our cleanse was consulted on and backed by an RD prior to launching. We also include a 48-hour notice to send you “pre/post” instructions on how to to ensure you receive the most benefits while on your cleanse. I saw that there was not a lot of material on what to do before and after a cleanse which is crucial, so that was important to me to include in our cleanse. Many people have a rockstar weekend and then think it is a great idea to cleanse on Monday. This is what we are trying to avoid and we’re trying help educate people on the reasons why.

We’ve heard it’s better to eat the fruit than to juice (since a lot of juice is basically sugar and water)…how can we juice to keep as much of the fiber and good stuff as possible?


When it comes to juicing you do lose most of the fiber as you are not actually biting into the skin of the fruit and vegetables, or having those be a component of the drink. However, drinking a bottle of raw, cold-pressed juice that packs 2-3 pounds of vegetables at a time is far more beneficial than an apple every other day. In regards to sugar and water, vegetables do contain water and fruit contains natural sugars…unfortunately this is confused with refined sugars and water used in products that are not exactly good for you.


Our take-home:

  1. Look for cold-pressed to retain as much of the nutrients as possible.
  2. Find a juicer who can help you select juices based on your needs, taste buds and lifestyle.
  3. If you juice cleanse, do so with supervision and not as a cure-all for weekend binges.
  4. Greener, less sweet juices are phenomenal for you but a good juicer can help you slowly work up to them.
  5. Drinking juices should not replace eating raw fruits and veggies (you still need to be doing this daily), but fresh juices are a great add-on to your overall fruit-veggie intake!

Skinside-Out Health Factor: Excellent!

Fruits and vegetables have almost too many benefits to count. In terms of skin, almost all are packed with antioxidants that help your skin fight off environmental stress and aging. Some new research is pointing to antioxidants not only boosting your protection against sun and light but possibly even helping to repair some damage. Fruits and vegetables won’t replace your skin care regimen (which is important for hygiene, active therapy and sun and light protection) but they are fundamental building blocks to your skin’s health (you need both). Aim for 50% of each meal being fruit or vegetable, the rawer the better. Err on the side of veggies if you’re concerned about your glycemic index or carbs…fruits are healthier than any other sugar or carbohydrate but most are high in both. If these are concerns for you, opt for berries! Low carb, low sugar and high in antioxidants. And feel free to add on throughout the day in the form of snack replacement (grilled sweet potato instead of chips) or fresh, cold-pressed juices!


All of the fruits and vegetables that go into Harvest Juicery products are organic or locally sourced, and they incorporate fresh herbs and spices. Learn more at or follow them on Instagram!



Beauty Featured Healthy Living Skin

Easy Come, Easy Glow: A Seasonal Guide to Skin & Beauty



[red_one_fourth] SKIN SCAN
Before summer, schedule a complete skin cancer screening with your dermatologist. You can do it any time in the year if you’re good about your annual dermatologist visits but if you’re not, definitely get it done before summer frolicking. Always watch your moles for uneven color or shape, or large sizes, and for any changes in these characteristics. [/red_one_fourth] [red_one_fourth] GET ACTIVE
Start your active treatment regimen now. The sooner you get started on the right targeted treatments — like Re-Everything for aging, Illuminants+ for lightening, or Id for face-body acne — the sooner you’ll see their effects and the longer you can enjoy them throughout the year. [/red_one_fourth] [red_one_fourth] THE BIG GUNS
Curious about laser or clinical packages for chronic or severe dark spots, aging, acne, psoriasis, etc.? The end of spring is a good time to start a treatment package. This gives your physician time to make adjustments and you enough healing time for procedures that require it. Or, call us at (212) 217 2762 to arrange a targeted spa treatment package for your particular needs. [/red_one_fourth] [red_one_fourth_last] GET GLOWING
Treat yourself to a healthy (not greasy) moisturizing and exfoliating facial — like our Sweet Creams in Xana“dew” Facial — to slough off winter dryness. A surefire way to keep glowing all year? Start your healthier diet (no junk food!) and exercise (cardio-and-core) program early in the spring and stick to it! [/red_one_fourth_last]



[red_one_fourth] A RAY-NY DAY
You need a lot of sunscreen when you’re outdoors: a shot-glass full for all over plus reapplications every hour or two, as well as after swimming or sweating. Stock up on your Armada Sun + Light Screen. Skinsider Tip: Did you know that UVA, which causes skin cancer as well as other health problems, can get through clouds and windows? Wear a sunscreen daily, even if you spend most of your time indoors. [/red_one_fourth] [red_one_fourth] TRUMP BUMPS
Keep Id Monolaurin Gel handy for “acnemergencies.” It’s also a great way to keep skin cool and fresh. Book an Answer Back! treatment to clear up annoying bacne, expanding your skin-baring summer wardrobe. Get waxed (try our hypoallergenic waxing services for less redness and inflammation). Skinsider Tip: Id Toner and Lotion are great for reducing post-waxing bumps! [/red_one_fourth] [red_one_fourth] CLEAR THE (H)AIR
Salt water, chlorine, sun, and styling products can all build up in your hair, making it dull, frizzy…not happy: Essence Skin-Saving Superwash Hair & Body Milk Shampoo is a great clarifying wash for hair and body that’s still hydrating. Combine it with Essence Skin-Saving Milk Conditioner and you’ve got yet another way to prevent acne on the face, neck and upper back. [/red_one_fourth] [red_one_fourth_last] PORE-FECT
Humidity + sweat + heavy makeup = clogged pores, so try a non-comedogenic, oil-free “non-makeup” like Skintangible “BBBB” Cream (BB But Better) which also has an SPF of 30. If you need more camouflage, start with Skin-The-Bluff Concealer (use the green Red Alert shade to cancel out redness before your regular shade). Schedule our Club Scrub Facial monthly to clean out pores. For cystic acne (which is almost always internally caused), cut out the junk food, up the anti-inflammatory foods, reduce stress, get 7-8 hours of sleep each night, and see a dermatologist — our anti-inflammatory, acne-managing products can help but cystic acne may require internally-taken medication as well. [/red_one_fourth_last]



[red_one_fourth] SKIN THE CLEAR
You spent all summer keeping skin clear to bare it. Now, with high fashion season upon us and the body covered up, the face needs a good purging from all the sweat and build up from the summer. Our Blemish Buster Facial is a great way to get skin in shape for the heavier makeup and bolder looks of Autumn. [/red_one_fourth] [red_one_fourth] FASHION FORWARD
If summer makeup was light and sheer, the fall face welcomes the added attention. One of the quickest ways to update your look? A rich, warm, bolder lipstick like our Velvet Matte Lipstick in Va-Va-Voom. [/red_one_fourth] [red_one_fourth] PEEL FABULOUS
With the busiest social season coming up, this is the best time to get a microdermabrasion or medical-grade exfoliation like our Re-Everything Glycolic Acid Peel (we use our own allergen-free formulation and the treatment includes our anti-inflammatory products to reduce redness, side effects and downtime without sacrificing efficacy). [/red_one_fourth] [red_one_fourth_last] DO THE ‘DO
Getting a great new hair cut can put you in the best mood for the partiest time of year. Having it done in the fall gives you time to get used to it or to grow it out if the ‘do was more of a don’t. [/red_one_fourth_last]



Try richer moisturizers like Creammmy-Rich Intensive Moisture Milk. Drier skins love our Grandma Minnie Mommycoddling All-Over Lotion and pathologically dry skins and scalps adore our Oil’s Well Nurturing Do-it-Oil or Know-It-Oil virgin coconut oil. Keep a travel-sized bottle in your bag for frequent reapplications. [/red_one_fourth] [red_one_fourth]STAY BALMY
This customer favorite is a major winter must-have: The Big, Brave Boo-Boo Balm. Use it on chapped lips, dry skin lesions (even eczema), and cracked hands and heels. It’s also a great little first aid kit: an ouchless antiseptic and antibacterial for cuts, scrapes, wounds, and minor burns. [/red_one_fourth] [red_one_fourth]COGITO ERGO “SUN”
Make it part of your being: sun + light protection. It’s crucial all year round. It may be cold but your skin can still be exposed to UVA light (as harmful as UVB, and in some ways more so). Plus, indoor lights cause dark spots and other pigmentations. All Armada products can be used in all seasons and even indoors. [/red_one_fourth] [red_one_fourth_last]SPLURGE
It’s the one time of year when you can’t be judged for splurging. Try that bright new lip color you’ve been too chicken to put on. Keep your dermatologist’s number handy to zap sudden party-ruining cysts. Enjoy our “dewlicious” virgin coconut oil-based spa treatments for intensive hydration and relaxation. Pre-book multiple facials to help you recover from the late nights out and to get a head start on next year’s annual skin plan. [/red_one_fourth_last]

Healthy Living Skin

4 Reasons You Need Spa Hour


A spa hour can seem inessential when compared to other big wellness tips — more of a splurge than a legitimately healthy thing to do. But make no mistake: this bliss can do so much for you. It turns out that a spa hour a month (or a week) might be one of the most efficient things you can do for your overall health in terms of both the number of proven benefits and the importance of those benefits.

1. Brain Efficiency


 In an article for the Scientific American, Why Your Brain Needs More Downtime1, Ferris Jabr explores a growing body of research that reveals how “mental breaks increase productivity, replenish attention, solidify memories and encourage creativity.” Beyond controlling stress, it seems downtime allows the brain to become more effective.

Downtime includes meditation or mindfulness, vacations and naps. A spa hour is all three. During a typical facial, massage or body treatment at VMV, your mind wanders, it slows down, you experience a real escape from daily worries and, often, you nap — in perfect 10-minute increments (studies show that 7-10 minutes of sleep is ideal to reenergize without needing to recover from the “sleep inertia” that follows longer naps).

In addition to a break and revitalization, the research shows that: “downtime…is essential to… achieve our highest levels of performance.” It can help you become more effective at work and problem-solving. As Jabr writes, “studies have demonstrated that the mind obliquely solves tough problems while daydreaming — an experience many people have had while taking a shower. Epiphanies may seem to come out of nowhere, but they are often the product of unconscious mental activity during downtime.” Your Eureka moment might just be waiting for that facial.

2. Be a Better Person


In the same article, Jabr shares that downtime could be a form of self improvement, being “essential to mental processes that affirm our identities, develop our understanding of human behavior and instill an internal code of ethics.” As the mind is freed of distractions, it can make sense of recent learnings and explore unresolved issues that the brain may not be able to focus on during the course of a busy day. Jabr adds, “A wandering mind unsticks us in time so that we can learn from the past and plan for the future” — perfect for goal setting. Indeed, a spa hour quiets the mind to “shuffle through all those neglected mental post-it notes listing half-finished projects … we mull over the aspects of our lives with which we are most dissatisfied, searching for solutions. We sink into scenes from childhood and catapult ourselves into different hypothetical futures. And we subject ourselves to a kind of moral performance review, questioning how we have treated others lately.”

A big plus is that in a spa hour, this self-reflection happens peacefully and organically. You needn’t concentrate on letting go, you just do. You don’t think, “now I’m going to focus on my life and how I can be a better person” — this, plus surprising perspectives and even solutions, just “pop into your head.” And it’s an altogether pleasant experience: self-improvement that doesn’t feel like work.

3. Age Fighting


Other studies2 have shown a link between the positive emotional or psychological results of meditation and an increase in the longevity of telomerase, an enzyme that is fundamental to the long-term health and youth of cells. While the notion that meditation reduces stress might be an old one, that meditation could affect proteins related to aging, possibly prolonging our cellular health and youth, is new and compelling.

Furthermore, the link between stress and inflammation is well proven, and inflammation is linked to a slew of skin, mental and health problems. In addition to the “great mind escape” that our spa treatments provide, each one features quality time with our products that, besides being allergen-free, are packed with antioxidants and anti-inflammatories, and are deeply reparative to skin.

Don’t forget: skin stressors age the skin, too. Rashes, irritations, pimples, itching, severe dryness, and reactions to products are all incidents of physical stress on the skin and are all types of inflammation. Whether or not you already have sensitive skin, avoiding allergens can help prevent various problems (even subtle ones which may not yet be obvious) which can thin and stress the skin, and contribute to aging.

4. Skin Renewal


new-skin-resolutions-03-sqAs your mind is wandering, improving brain function and promoting inner peace, we scrub away dullness, target problem areas and help you reveal fresh, revitalized skin. Nothing revives like a deep-cleaning facial or body treatment (also ideal for jumpstarting your daily regimen). VMV’s clinically-sound treatments, designed and audited by dermatologists and our licensed estheticians, are allergen-free and completely customized for your skin’s varying needs. Top picks for spring:

SuperSkin Facial: Is taking better care of your skin one of your resolutions? Slough away the evidence of last year’s bad habits (sleeping with makeup on, anyone?) with our classic facial. Rushing to a spring fling? Get a quick “perk-me-up” 30-minute Skin-a-Jiffy Facial (a great way to balance skin care duties with a full calendar).

Let Down Your Stresses: Did last year leave you frazzled and scrambled? Escape to “skinvana,” our skin-renewing SuperSkin Facial with tension-melting massages on stress points. Or try our “Oil” Aglow Hydrating Coconut Body Wrap for a thorough exfoliation, ooh-inducing massage and an inconceivably soothing, anti-inflammatory and skin-softening body wrap with our pure virgin coconut oil (why have your mind wander locally when it can escape to a tropical paradise?).

Answer Back: Work the season’s wispy floral dresses with a blemish-free back and shoulders. Our “bacne” buster is a must for clearing imperfections. Also covered up all winter: arms and legs. Make their reveal as gentle and smooth as possible with our expert, safe, and non-irritating Hypoallergenic Waxing services (note: some services are available in select locations).

Deep relaxation, heightened brain efficiency, self improvement and a gorgeous glow. Not bad for an hour!

1. Jabr, Ferris. Why Your Brain Needs More Downtime. Scientific American. Oct. 15, 2013. 
2. Jacobs, T.L., et al., Intensive meditation training, immune cell telomerase activity, and psychological mediators. Psychoneuroendocrinology (2010), doi:10.1016/j.psyneuen.2010.09.010 and Positive psychological changes from meditation training linked to cellular health. UC Davis News and Information. Nov. 3, 2010. 

Healthy Living

Monique Borja on Health, Happiness and Yoga

Monique Borja


“Just beautiful, woman! This photo is peace, it’s love, it’s pure, pure bliss…everything everyone wants to feel…what we’re all striving for.” That was my comment under Monique’s post, a photograph of her and her goldie, Parker.

I thought it looked like a deep, smiling inhale. And you see it, too, don’t you? That dog’s smiling, no doubt about it. They both couldn’t be more content. Which got me thinking, goodness begets goodness. It just does. Good energy creates more good energy. The same applies to one’s skin and overall health: good nutrition, exercise and happiness are intertwined and strengthen each other…and help you feel and look better and better. I’m not just talking “aura,” I mean tangibly, repeatedly, scientifically — happiness and good health improve your spirit, mind, body and skin.

Besides how transcendent I found this photo, I also thought it was instructional! Pets and affection are well known mood lifters (and it’s symbiotic…Parker’s loving that love!) Plus, Monique is a yoga teacher. Exercise in and of itself is vital but yoga is unique in its combination of physical conditioning and meditative benefits (see page 5 for more on the importance of the brain’s downtime). Monique also happens to be two more things: a stunning creature and a VMV fan 🙂 How could I not ask her for tips?


What got you into yoga?

MONIQUE: I was in my early twenties, found myself looking for a meditation class, and eventually discovered the practice. It was a natural and seamless path. I explored Bikram yoga, Ashtanga yoga and Vinyasa Flow. I fell in love with the art, the philosophies behind the asanas (poses), the different feeling I had every time I got on the mat.

What does yoga do for you inside and out?

M: I’ll be honest, yoga really does give wonderful benefits on a physical level. It is still a reason for me to practice. My body looks for the movement as over the years, it has been the best physical routine to shape and tone my body. And it keeps me in check with my posture. I am very open to other forms of body strengthening and conditioning. I mix up plyo training at the gym, Muay Thai and Plana Forma, but my priority is my practice. Which brings me to what really draws me to yoga: the ongoing spiritual work, the work that goes on inside (knowingly or unknowingly).
There is no single definition of yoga — one of its meanings is to yolk the mind, body and spirit. A lot happens on the mat and I am still working on many things — there’s so much to learn about yourself in an hour and a half practice! This is what I love about yoga. The deeper and continuous work.

L: I know what you mean. I love bootcamp and tennis and other physical activity but I feel yoga is so whole, so total. For those just discovering yoga,

How would you go about choosing a yoga practice or instructor?

M: A teacher of mine, Tesa Celdran, once told me, any yoga is good yoga. This is so true. It will really depend on what calls you in, what works for you now. It is normal to tend to attend classes of teachers you are familiar with, and whose voice, style of teaching, and energy you like. However, as one’s practice gets deeper, the quality and experience of YOUR yoga will depend on your very own movement, breath and depth of the understanding of what yoga means to you. It becomes very intimate and almost sacred — and something you will always have — regardless of who is leading the class.

Just to keep it real, yoga is not always so soulful and inward bound. There will be days when you are on and off the mat, no breakthroughs, just getting through your routine. And it can also be fun! Experiencing different challenges, laughing in class, crying (oh, believe me, I have had a few of those), or sometimes just staying in child’s pose — just because it feels good and for no other reason.

L: I can see myself crying in yoga…more for certain binds, maybe, but I can see it 🙂

How many times a week should one do yoga?

M: Ideally, the goal is to get to a self-practice routine of 6 times a week. Again, I’ll be honest, this doesn’t always come naturally. It takes commitment to get to this place. I would suggest to start 3 times a week, then work up to four times a week.

If you could share the all-time top 3 tips for someone starting yoga, what would they be?

M: One, have an open mind. Two, breathe. Prioritize the breath over the asana. Three, commit.

L: Can you share some tips for healthy living? Or, what I really want to ask,

How can we look as happy as you do in that photo?

M: First, surround yourself with positivity. In a any big or small way, find something to be grateful for., Second, everything in moderation. I try to eat clean most of the week, avoiding processed foods. Once every 2-3 months, try a 3-5 day juice cleanse). Third, balance work and play. Make the most of your weekends. Fourth, find hobbies that will spark your creativity. Get into activities you enjoy and will be passionate about. Fifth, laugh, smile and give and receive hugs (just like that photo of Parker and me, hahaha!). And sixth, of course, YOGA!

monique-instagramIn or traveling to the Philippines? Monique teaches a number of classes a week at a home studio, as well as at Echo Yoga Shala and Plana Forma studios.

Follow Monique for tips — or share your own suggestions — on health and happiness!

Healthy Living

Eat Right & Move!

Your Top 3 To-Do’s:

1. Dump The Junk

Junk belongs in a dump, not your body. Chips, candy, sodas and most pre-packaged snacks, juices and drinks — your body can’t process a lot of what’s in them. They’re stored longer in your body, wreaking havoc on everything from heart to skin (hello, acne!) and even your brain. Finding it hard to quit? That’s a big reason why you must: they’re designed to be highly addictive on purpose. It’ll be difficult at first but your system will eventually revert to preferring what was meant for it.

2. Trade Up: Go Wild

Choose brown or wild rice over white (almost the equivalent of sugar), and whole grain, fibrous and nutty bread over white bread. Try wheat pasta or other, healthier grains like quinoa. Eat more small, oily fish like sardines and uncooked veggies and fruit. And look to the coconut for a pantry’s worth of healthier alternatives: coconut sugar or syrup to sweeten, milk as a dairy substitute, flour to bake, oil for cooking and salads, and its water as a juice or sport drink. There are healthier, less processed options for everything you’re eating.

3. Get Moving

Exercise daily. Studies show that constant activity is better than even extreme workouts 3 times a week. Make sure you get in 3-5 days of sustained cardio. They don’t have to be killer sessions: get to 50-85% of your maximum heart rate and sustain this for 45 straight minutes (see the American Heart Association’s heart rate calculator and On other days, mix it up: weights, yoga, pilates, walks outside. Variety makes it interesting and keeps your body challenged.

And move more in general! New studies are showing that sitting for more than two hours at a time is extremely unhealthy. During the day, set a timer, get up, and walk around for 10-20 minutes. However you do it, make this the year you get moving.