I've talked about the many benefits of candles multiple times, but it's always worth mentioning again. Candles are the easiest way to add ambiance and festive cheer to any space. As autumn's crisp nights creep upon us, I love the warmth, soft glow, and pleasant scents that great candles provide. Choose candles that are as natural as possible, so they don't leave soot or irritate allergies. In the fall months, I love fragrances that are a little spicier, like amber, cinnamon, and clove, with dashes of brightness, like citrus or herbs, and deeper woods, like sandalwood, teakwood, and oud. Agraria Home has a fabulous bitter orange, Nest offers Hearth, Diptyque Paris now features Oud, and Firefood from Henri Bendel are all sure wins.
You've spent the summer outside, holidayed as much as possible, and exposed virtually every inch of your body to the summer sun - it's time now to prepare for the cooler, drier months ahead and refocus your skincare routine.
Exfoliating is very important. Once or twice weekly, gently slough away dead skin cells and other icky irritants. You can either physically exfoliate, by using a textured masque or scrub, mechanically exfoliate, with a sonic brush that literally polishes the skin, or chemically exfoliate, with powerful acidic solutions and serums. Choose a natural product, free from fillers and other harsh ingredients, and always consult your dermatologist if you're going to try something drastic. I love Origins' Never a Dull Moment. It's made with ground mango and apricot seeds, crushed walnut shells, and powerful papaya and grapefruit extracts, dissolving lackluster dead skin, revealing more radiant, fresh, and renewed skin. It's good for all skin types, smells delicious, and is gentle and effective enough to use a few times per week. My skincare maven and friend for life Linda F. recommends Peter Thomas Roth's firmX peeling gel - a potent potion of multi-action enzymes from pineapple, pomegranate, and keratinase, with cellulose that effectively peel and help uncover a smooth, fresh, new complexion without drying, irritating or causing undue stress to skin. Also excellent at removing impurities and decongests clogged pores for a youthful, radiant look.
Cleanse the skin, preferably both morning and night. Look for a wash that leaves the skin feeling crisp and cool, without over drying. Face washes don't have to be complicated or overly fragrant - I look for one that foams, leaving behind no residue for that squeaky clean feel. In the summer, I find my skin is a bit more oily, so I'll look for a wash containing a bit of salicylic acids and fruit enzymes, to cut down on the shine. Intended for acne, Philosophy's Clear Days Ahead is frequently in my rotation - this gel packs a powerful punch on bothersome breakouts. Plus the orange extract leaves skin feeling fresh and radiant - and smells incredibly refreshing. Because Philosophy's Clear Days Ahead can be a bit too drying, I limit its use to the summertime or for troublesome times only. Year round, I love Biotherm Homme's Aquapower Cleanser, This powerful double-action daily cleanser, which also includes a small dose of exfoliating power, effectively removes impurities while refreshing the skin. Its ultra-cleansing fresh gel formula contains a combination of oligo-elements and potent cleansing agents that leave the skin soft, comfortable and exceptionally fresh.
Moisturize and Protect - after you've exfoliated and cleansed the skin, it's time to moisturize and protect. I look for products that protect against dehydration, deterioration, and oxidation, like Origins' A Perfect World serum, Just one tiny drop of this workhorse literally stops the clock on aging, protecting the skin from damaging environmental factors like smog, stress, and other oxidizers and keeps skin looking fresh, toned, and radiant. I also love Murad's Invisiblur Perfecting Shield - a one-stop-shop for anti-aging, flawless looking skin and protection from the sun's harmful rays (and is really great for both men and women).
And I'm absolutely adoring Tom Ford's oil free daily moisturizer for men. This lightweight, quick-absorbing, skin-mattifying moisturize urses the Tom Ford Skin Calming and Infusing Complexes with a combination of luxurious butters to hydrate your skin, help reverse dullness and help reduce the look of fine lines and pores. It leaves your face looking toned, polished and re energized, without looking primped or too done.
Spot treat with masques: sometimes all you need is a quick "rescue" - whether sudden dryness, breakouts, or too much oil and shine, a quick masque will often steer your skin back on track in no time. Exfoliate and cleanse as normal, then apply a thick layer of the masque to face, neck, and decollete. Let the masque work its magic for 10-15 minutes, then rinse thoroughly and continue with your regimen. For dry skin or a quick moisture surge, I love Fresh's Black Tea Firming Overnight Mask - their special blend of black tea ferment and extracts of blackberry leaf, black tea, and lychee seed pump the breaks on free radicals and restore skin's elasticity, while Belle de Nuit extract soothes and rebalances the skin to optimal condition, peptides firm the skin and visibly defy the signs of gravity, and hyaluronic acid attracts and maintains moisture for smooth, sheer suppleness. Origins' Out of Trouble is a just what the doctor ordered to fix over productive pores, prevent pesky pimples, and put the kibosh on shine. It packs a one-two punch with super absorbent zinc oxide and sulfur. (Side note: If you didn't already know, products with zinc oxide naturally block harmful UVA and UVB rays from the sun and light sources, has natural anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, is a natural astringent, and reduces pore size. If you suffer from Rosacea, Psoriasis, Eczema, diaper rash, or dandruff, products and foods with zinc may be your answer.) It also contains Camphor, which naturally calms the skin. You'll notice a smoother texture and clearer skin in no time.
If you travel frequently, or want to make sure you're prepared without breaking the bank, Origins offers the perfect dose of masks in convenient travel or "just in case" sizes.
If you're like me, you can't live without your iDevices - whether iPhone, iPod, iPad, or iWhatever, they're an essential part to our everyday function. And that means one thing - we must always have power. My favorite chords and charging accessories are from Blue Flame. The cables are brilliantly braided and secured, preventing the dreaded "cable split" so typical of the basic white bits provided by the fruits at Apple. I had a Blue Flame cable last several years with my last iPhone, and immediately went out when I updated last. Especially handy if you travel or are frequently on the go, I've had no problems whatsoever.
Makes a great stocking stuffer or Secret Santa gift at the office holiday party, too.
Don't get me wrong - espresso has a place in my life, regardless of the temperature outside or season we're celebrating, but it's nice to finally enjoy hot beverages now that the temperatures and leaves are falling. I'm loving hot beverages, especially piping hot coffee. Williams-Sonoma stocks a delicious concentrate of five different apple varieties, making for a quick and easy pot of mulled cider. I can't get enough of Teavana's Pineapple Kona Pop herbal tea, either. When I was growing up, my Mom would make a delicious "percolator punch" - a marvelous mix of equal parts pineapple juice and cranberry juice, with cinnamon, cardamom, clove, and ginger in the percolator basket. I think it'd be really nice to mix this Pineapple Kona Pop with Mom's "percolator punch" for an added layer of tasty treat. And for a boozy punch, a mighty measure of Solerno Blood Orange liqueur will make mouths happy.
My favorite activity during fall: spending time with family + friends. Get outside. Throw a cocktail party. Just because. Take a hike. Literally! Keep a soccer ball in the trunk (boot) of your car for a random pickup game in the park. Open the windows, feel the fresh air, and remember why you're alive. Be spontaneous. While it's important to look to the future, don't forget to see your now.