Are Peels Making a Come Back?

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Getting a healthy glow can’t always be achieved at home, even with a thorough beauty regime. Using over the counter exfoliants to sloughing off your dead skin isn’t always enough. It’s now time to step it up a notch with something stronger like a chemical peel.

Since the 90's this treatment has had a bad rap for making your skin raw and blistered, who can forget Samantha’s beet red face after a chemical peel in Sex and the City? “Those days are over,” says Vitahl’s Aesthetician and Laser Specialist, Michelina Quaranta, “they are now formulated smarter, instead of a single acid at a higher strength they are using lower amounts of multiple acids as well as purer ingredients for a better outcome."

A peel will speed up the exfoliation process encouraging increased cell turnover quicker. They can calm rosacea, even out skin tone including acne scars and sun spots, reduce fine lines and wrinkles. They will improve the texture of the skin as well as help control oil production and prevent dead skin from clogging your pores, which in turn means fewer breakouts.

There are different strengths of peels depending on what you want to achieve and also the time of year. Quaranta believes for this time of year try a self-neutralizing PCA Skin Sensi Peel, it’s excellent for sensitive skin, suitable year around and can be customizable to fit the individual’s needs. Because the peel is applied in layers it’s a buildable treatment allowing you to control the strength.

A relatively quick and painless procedure that only takes about half an hour. Your face is cleansed and toned making sure all the oil is removed thus allowing the peel to penetrate into the skin more effectively, for some this may tingle. Next, using a cotton square, the first layer is applied.

Your face can feel warm or again tingle a bit, which is temporary and usually subsides after a few minutes. Your skin will continue to be monitored after each layer. Quaranta uses a small facial fan to help dry and cool down the surface. If the tingling remains relatively low, under a five, on a scale of 1-10 then the next layer is applied, this can be repeated up to four layers. However, if the skin gets very red and irritated or blanches then no more applications will be administered.

Once the layers are completed, a spot treatment of Intensive Pigment Eraser can be applied for any brown spots followed by an Advanced Treatment Booster of retinol, which Quaranta says “will help kick-start the shedding process.” 

Lastly, a calming balm of hydrocortisone and aloe is applied before the ReBalance moisturizer and a mineral based sunscreen. “Stay clear of chemical sunscreens," says Quaranta "instead use natural ingredients like titanium dioxide or zinc oxide as it won’t irritate the skin.”

On completion, you’re leaving with a glowing (possibly slightly red) face, which you don’t want to wash until the next day and with only lukewarm water. It’s important to remain cool for the next 48 hours, no hot showers, steam rooms, saunas or any excessive perspiration -a perfect excuse not to go to the gym!

You might wonder when the peeling will start. However, despite the name, you won’t actually peel with this treatment. As Sensi peels are gentler on the skin you could experience some light eraser flaking in localized areas, which generally start 48-72 hours after your treatment and can last 2-7 days, but everyone’s experience is slightly different.

Application of the provided ReBalance hydrating moisturizer twice a day is recommended to relieve dryness and control peeling. You can also add a hydrocortisone if the skin starts to feel crepey. It's best to avoid prolonged sun exposure for 7 days and continue to use the mineral sunscreen. After a week you can go back to your usual beauty routine.

TOP TIP: For a cooling and soothing sensation on your face, keep your ReBalance moisturizer in the fridge. Also, you can add PCA Skin’s Intensive Brightening Treatment ($109, to your skincare routine to continue targeting discoloration and promote overall brightening and radiance to the skin. 

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PCA Skin Sensi Peel with Michelina Quaranta, $115, at Vitahl Medical Aesthetics, 1135 W Madison St, 312 634 6100



BEAUTY BITS | Bentley Hair and Beauty Salon

Jennifer Long Riordan opens new salon, Bentley Hair and Beauty Salon, in the Gold Coast

All my life I have struggled with frizzy hair, it’s something that has always been difficult to control even after trying countless assortments of anti-frizzing products. So I was excited when the owner of Bentley Hair and Beauty Salon, Jennifer Long Riordan, invited me to try a hair-smoothing treatment called the Brazilian Blowout.

The brilliance behind this blowout is that it is a fully customizable depending on your needs. Whether you wear your hair straight or curly, there are varying degrees of bespoke finishes, but the treatment will smooth, fight the frizz and increase manageability.

Bentley Hair and Beauty Salon, in the Gold Coast features modern chandelier and plush velvet accents.

First, your hair is washed with a clarifying shampoo making sure it’s completely removed of any excess oil or dirt, and the cuticles are fully opened. Next, the solution is brushed onto the damp hair. Your hair is then blow-dried, and flat ironed before the treatment is rinsed out –which I know sounds counterintuitive. A hair bonding spray is applied before your hair is blow-dried once again. And that is it, you are ready to go.

The contemporary salon is only one of five salons in Chicago to carry the exclusive Shu Uemura brand praised by hair and beauty experts from Allure, Vogue and Elle.

Depending on the length of your locks the whole process is around two hours and lasts 12 weeks. To maximum the results you'll need to up your product game. Using a sulfate-free and sodium chloride-free shampoo and conditioner will help extend the results of the treatment.

What sets Bentley apart is that we are made up of exclusively senior stylists, which gives every client top-notch service. The

Located in the Gold Coast, Bentley is not your typical salon, for starters, the hand-selected team is made up entirely of senior stylists to ensure each customer the best quality of service. Also, Jennifer and her two lead stylists, Danielle Reilly and Stephen Donovan, are from Europe, which is always head of the US in both style and technique. And lastly, the salon is only one of five in Chicago to carry the exclusive hair care brand, Shu Uemura Art of Hair, a range routinely praised in magazines such as Allure, Vogue, and Elle.

Brazilian Blowout, $350+, Bentley Hair and Beauty Salon, 43 East Oak St, Chicago, IL 60611, 312-624-9315.

BEAUTY BITS | Kiehl's Bespoke Apothecary Preparations

The trend of bespoke of beauty products and services continues. Back in August for the Chicago Tribune, I tried out two new customized services, one for make-up, (Lancôme) and the other for hair (Kerastase), which you can read about here.

Now we can add skincare to the list with Kiehl’s. Originally an Apothecary when it first opened in 1851, customers would go to Kiehl’s for your prescription medicines as well as customized herbal and natural skin and hair remedies. Kiehl’s has decided to go back to its roots, with a personalized skincare service called Apothecary Preparations.

I was fortunate enough to be invited along to try out their new service.

Kiehl’s Bespoke Apothecary Preparations

Step 1: Diagnosis

At your one-on-one consultation with a Kiehl's customer representative, aka KCR, your skin will be diagnosed. The surface oil on your face is measured to help identify your skin type (normal, oily, combo or dry). I'm a combo, as I'm oily on my T-zones and normal to dry elsewhere.

Kiehl’s a moisture monitor part of Bespoke Apothecary Preparations

Then a dehydration analyzer will be used to measure the water in your skin, 1 being the lowest and 100 the highest. I was told you don't want anything less than 50, I, unfortunately, got a disappointing 34. What does that mean? My skin is dehydrated, and I need to start drinking lots more water.

Talking with Kiehl's customer representative, aka KCR, at my Bespoke Apothecary Preparations appointment

Step 2: Selection

Next, you discuss with your KCR a series of skin-related issues, like texture, dullness, redness, wrinkles and pore size and identify which two are your main concerns. This determines the two skin boosters that will be mixed in with your base concentrate, to create your individual serum. I went with Brightening and Pore Minimizing.

Step 3: Personalization

You leave with a box and bottle with your name plus details of your personal formula and directions for use.

My personalized prescription

Your personalized serum is recorded in the system for future reorders.

Apothecary Preparations is currently available at 21 of their stores and retails for $95. Go to to find your nearest location.

How The New DUO Body Cleanser Will Make Travelling Easier


Along with being a fashion and beauty junkie, I am also addicted to traveling. There is nothing more thrilling than visiting new countries, seeing different cultures, experiencing different smells and foods. However, one aspect of travel that I hate is carrying luggage, especially heavy luggage. Being laden down with bags slows me down and makes travel so much more difficult and tiring.

It's something I’m constantly battling, and as someone who always wants to look their best, this can often equate to lots of luggage. Over the years I’ve worked really hard to build a capsule wardrobe -a well edited collection of clothes that are interchangeable to create a various number of looks. Gone are the days when you pack a different shoe or bag for each outfit. You want pieces that will work with several looks.

The other area where I try to reduce the weight is with my toiletries. I want the best travel-ready beauty products that I can toss straight into my carry-on because looking fabulous is always on my itinerary.

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I like to take products that have multi-uses. For example, a pencil that can be used for both my eyebrows and eyeliner or a face oil that doubles as a split end treatment or a cleanser that is also a make-up remover. This way, I'm not sacrificing my beauty routine.

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I’ve recently come across a new product that will now be an essential part of my curated beauty kit. Olay has introduced a 2 in 1 body cleanser (DUO Body Cleanser, $9.99) which, means I no longer have to pack a shower gel and body puff, hurrah! Instead, I just add water to activate the lather. One side is textured to allow you to exfoliate and the other side is smooth to condition the skin.

I've always found that traditional body puffs never really removed any dead skin, yet I continued to use it because there wasn't a better option until now. So for me, this is a game changer.

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Just hang to dry between uses and replace when lather fades, usually after about 30 uses. You can also tell as the inner core of soap will slowly shrink down after each wash.

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DUO comes in 3 different scents Old Spice Pure Sport, Ivory Refreshing Clean and my personal fav Olay Soothing Orchid and Black Currant. It's a great blend of floral with fruit to create a refreshing trace.

For more info go to DUO Body Cleansers, $9.99, are available at drugstores, mass retailers and

Big thank you to P&G for sponsoring this post!

BEAUTY BITS | Tom Ford Lips & Boys

Tom Ford Lips & Boys

“I love seeing a woman in a man’s suit. Why not have a lipstick named after a man?” - Tom Ford

Yes ladies (and gentleman) the Lip & Boys are back! The third adaptation of this collection named for the boys Tom find ‘admirable and inspiring’.

25 new shades have been added including 10 matt finishes can be purchased individually at $36 or you can purchase a customizable three-piece collection for $108. However, if you want to splurge, you can go for the 50-piece set for just $1,950.

Customizable three-piece collection Austin, Luciano and Collin, $108

The collection launches today on the, at on Thanksgiving and worldwide on Black Friday.

BEAUTY BITS | 5 reasons to check out the new flagship Sephora on MI Ave

1. The new Michigan Avenue location is the fourth store in North America to be a T.I.P. (teach, inspire, play) Workshop concept store geared toward beauty education.

2. It is also the first in the midwest to get the Fragrance Studio Experience, featuring Fragrance IQ. This walks you through the 18 different scent categories (floral, citrus, spicy, etc.) but more excitingly the machine emits a jet of scented air, known as Instascent, to let you smell the different scent families. It’s the raw note you are smelling to help you discover what types of scents you like before trying on individual fragrances. It then suggests different types of fragrances that you might like based on the results.

3. 12 Beauty T.I.P. Workshop stations, each has iPad, USB port and wifi along with a mirror and makeup. Here you can take group beauty classes with educated facilitators or virtual tutorials on the iPad.

4. One of the first Skincare Studios at Sephora to have a sink, I know that doesn’t sound very new or exciting however lots of make-up stores or counters don’t have running water. This will allow customers to have mini facials in stores something not previously available. Also with new the adjustable lighting, it allows the customers to have better skin analysis. There is a Skincare IQ diagnostic, a touchscreen service, helping customers to select the best products based on their skin concerns.

5. With over 10,040-square-foot and 13,000 products including iconic, cult and emerging brands, it’s the largest store in the midwest.

Sephora, 605 North Michigan Avenue,Chicago, IL, 312.649.9343

How Adam Bogucki transformed me into a blonde, well sorta

Finding a good colorist is so much harder than finding a good hair stylist -ask any hair obsessed girl. I’ve always struggled, and I’ve had some disastrous experiences including one when I first moved to Chicago. It was so bad I had to go back to London to my old colorist to get it fixed, luckily I already had a trip booked for later that week.


So I’m always scared to try new people but was intrigued when I was invited to Adam Bogucki's new salon Lumination. I’ve heard great things about him and it was time for a color change.

In the past, I've had an ombré look but felt it’s been done to death; I was after a newer and fresher concept. We looked at lots of photos of different hair colors and we discussed what could work including some of the current big hair trends like bronde and Tortoiseshell Hair. What I loved about Adam was his knowledge of upcoming color trends.

One look in particular that I loved was Sandra Bullock's hair in the film Our Brand is Crisis. She had a blonde top layer (which was actually a wig), but the underneath was still dark. We decided to do a version of this as I wasn't so sure I could go that blonde -I know a total wuss.

Another big concern I had was making sure my hair didn’t turn orange as it so often does. Instead of doing balayage, the most popular color technique of painting the highlights, he went old school with foils. Why? Well as Adam explained, "you get a better lift and balayage on dark hair usually turns brassy." For me, that was massively important.

He was TOTALLY right, it’s one of the first times my hair didn’t look orange (and required an additional toner), what a sigh of relief. I LOVED the color; for me, it’s the closest I’ve ever been to blonde. And what this showed me is that blonde does work with my coloring, and I think next time I'll be braver, who knows I might become a real blonde!


To learn more about Adam and Lumination Salon read his Beauty Confessions here.

Lumination Salon, 3355 North Lincoln Avenue, Suite 2; 773.456.4415

BEAUTY BITS | The Beachwaver

With summer upon us, it's time for one of our fav hairstyles, the beachy wave. I personally love this look, but many people find it difficult to curl their own hair. However, I’ve come across something that’s going to make it easier, a rotating curling iron aka The Beachwaver®!

Invented by celebrity stylist, Sarah Potempa, who realized there must be a simpler way for people to achieve this very popular look.

It’s super easy as the iron does all the work for you in a click of a button!

First launched in 2012 with the Beachwaver® PRO ($199), Potempa has since created a whole range of styling tools including a more affordable Beachwaver® S ($129), lightweight hair drier ($150) and a mini straightener ($35). However, the rotating curling iron continues to be the most popular tool.

Now Potempa has launched two new barrel sizes for the Beachwaver® S series.

Originally only available in a 1 inch, it now comes in a smaller .75 for short hair or tighter curls and a larger 1.25 for long hair or looser curls.

The original Beachwaver® PRO and Beachwaver® S1 available at The new Beachwaver® S.75 and Beachwaver® S1.25 are available exclusively at


With a winter season comes change. We transition our clothes, our skincare regime and our make-up but what about our fragrance? In the same way light and barely there clothes become unsuitable for the cold months, the same goes for your fragrance. During the winter months, our skin is much cooler than the summer and, therefore, need something stronger and more impactful. I talk to the Trudi Loren, Senior Vice President, Corporate Fragrance Development, Aramis and Designer Fragrances, The Estee Lauder Companies, about choosing a winter scent.

rudi Loren, Senior Vice President, Corporate Fragrance Development, Aramis and Designer Fragrances, The Estee Lauder Companies

Well, I think what happens in the winter time you tend to wear a lot more clothing. A lot more layers, having a scent that is a bit stronger wears well. When you wear a stronger scent in the summertime, because of the heat and humidity, it can become over whelming. But in the wintertime when it’s cooler and drier you can appreciate a stronger scent at that point.

In a good winter fragrance, you usually find notes that are warmer, more comforting, more cocooning.

Warmth and comfort are the resins, the balsams, which are with the amber family, they always work well. Some of the creamier, darker woody notes such as Sandalwood and Patchouli always works very well in the winter. Then you have the spices and I think warmer spices such as the cinnamon, nutmeg, star anise, etc. as opposed to fresh spices like coriander, pepper, etc. Then of course within the fruit family, the richer, creamier fruits, so a deep dark plum, a black cherry and apricot. These are succulent fruits that work well in winter as opposed to the lighter fruits, which are more summery such as your red currant or your strawberry, blueberry and blackberry.

You want something more substantive, bigger volume, fuller bodied.

With winter fragrances sometimes you’ll see a more concentrated version of your signature scent or in many cases a lot of brands come out with intense versions or extreme versions. You usually see the extreme, more in the men’s category, intense you see in the women’s category or even the parfum version, which is a higher concentration. These all work very well for winter fragrances.

I also think in the winter you can then start experimenting with the other products that are within a line, so the body lotions and having that layering effect. So as we all need more moisturization for our skin during the cold winter, layering with the lotion or body cream, body butter of that scent always works really well. And then spraying the scent on top of that you also get retention, and it’s much longer.

I think in choosing a winter scent, obviously like all fragrances anytime of the year, you need to try it on your skin. Make sure it really works with your own body chemistry. Because we all know we might smell something on someone else and love it, then try it on ourselves, and we are like oh no, this doesn’t work.

I think then it’s a matter of where you like to wear your fragrance during the winter. I personally feel it’s always wonderful to spray your fragrance on a scarf that you then are putting around your neck because it’s a much more intimate experience. You can then smell your scarf throughout the day, and I think that is always comforting and soothing.

Here are some winter fragrances for you to try…

Bobbi Brown Bobbi’s Party, Eau de Parfum, $74

Bobbi Brown’s strongest scent in her collection is aptly named ‘Party’. And it’s called that for a reason. With a delicious burst of violet leaves and rose petals mixed with touches of sandalwood, it’s warm and fun –perfect for a night out.

Chanel No 5,Eau de Parfum, $100

It’s a timeless classic but because of its complex composition of notes it’s a powerful scent that’s too intense in the summer heat. However, it's perfect in the wintertime.

Diana Vreeland Extravagance Russe, Eau de Parfum, $185

This intensely warm and smoky scent makes me think of a Turkish bazaar —with its exotic flowers, spices and leather. Which make sense as this Amber base is layered with sweet vanilla bourbon, resins and balsams.

Jo Malone Pomegranate Noir Cologne, $125

Unlike her other colognes that are light and crisp, Pomegranate Noir is more like a moody and complex parfum, carefully combining creamy fruits with warm spices. There’s a real holiday festive feel to it.

Narciso Rodriguez Narciso, Eau de Parfum, $96

With its strikingly white and chic minimal bottle design, Narciso is already a standout. The white musk at its heart and woody accords of vetiver and cedar at its base create a sexy yet creamy and clean scent.

Tom Ford Oud Fluer, Eau de Parfum, $220

There’s subtleness to this middle-eastern style scent. Along with the Oud, there’s a delicate relationship between oriental spices and exotic flowers.

Maison Martin Margiela Replica By The Fireplace, Eau de Toilette, $125

If ever there was a song that perfectly described a perfume it would be Nat King Cole’s Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire. Maison Martin Margiela Replica scents are all about evoking familiar places and times. Their newest scent, By The Fireplace, is set in a 1971 Chamonix ski lodge.

And here’s my winter fragrance picks for a recent piece in The Chicago Tribune.

LEFT TO RIGHT: Diptyque, Limited Edition, Essences Insensées Eau de Parfum, $175 for 2.5oz, YSL, Black Opium Eau de Parfum, $90, Krigler, Sierra Vista Eau de Parfum Spray, $230, Donna Karan, Liquid Cashmere Black Eau de Parfum, $62, Marc Jacobs, Decadence Eau de Parfum, $70,

CYBER MONDAY | Beauty Deals

Some of my favorite brands are doing some fab beauty deals this Cyber Monday.

The natural, coffee-based skincare brand, Frank Body, is offering 25% off everything.

All mascaras and lip glosses are $10, blushes and cheek stains are priced at $20, and foundation products for just $30 at Tarte.

Julep is offering 50% off its entire site with the code YAYTODAY.

With the code CYBERMONDAY, 30% off all purchases on and free shipping on all orders over $50.

Take 30% off all S.W. Basics skincare products.