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




‘‘Tis the season of giving" as the saying goes...while it's easy to get caught up in the materialistic aspects of the holiday, how many unwanted or pointless gifts do we receive that end up cluttering our home (and then eventually landfills)? Let's avoid bad (and wasteful) gift giving this season by shopping smarter and choosing more meaningful and thoughtful presents. Where to start? Here are some ideas that are rewarding to both the giver and receiver.


Experiences are a good alternative and can be more special in many ways. The trill of a new bag or phone fades while the enjoyment of an adventure lasts. A study from San Francisco State University in 2016 found that experiences more than material things make people happier. Don't feel they have to be extravagant like a luxury trip it's more about creating memories.

See the spectacular Chicago skyline all dressed up for the holidays the same way Santa does with Chicago Helicopter Experience.  Take the Holiday Lights Tours to see stunning views of iconic sites like Lincoln Park Zoo Lights, the John Hancock Center, Michigan Avenue, Willis Tower and Millennium Park. Prices are $149 instead of $179 per person for the month of Dec only.

Other options include iFly, trampoline park, skydiving, sailing, hot air balloon, and zip lining.

Chicago Helicopter Experience
2420 S. Halsted St., Chicago IL 60608

Top to bottom: Collection for a Cause, $50, Provides 408 Meals; Smooth Skin Delights, $35 ,Provides 282 Meals; Kiss Me With Kiehl’s, $25, Provides 205 Meals.

Top to bottom: Collection for a Cause, $50, Provides 408 Meals; Smooth Skin Delights, $35 ,Provides 282 Meals; Kiss Me With Kiehl’s, $25, Provides 205 Meals.

Purchasing a present that gives back to the community or a charity can be a more thoughtful gift.

Continuing its holiday philanthropic tradition, Kiehl’s launched its 10th Annual Limited Edition Charitable Holiday Collection. With the purchase of their whimsical gift set, designed by the artist Andrew Bannecker, Kiehl’s pledges 100% of its net profits, up to $100,000, to a charity. For the fifth year in a row, they’ve partnered with an amazing organization Feeding America®. 40 million people in the US are food insecure and 12 million of those are kids, this donation will help provide 1,000,000 meals to families this holiday season.

I had the honor and privilege of helping Kiehl’s pack meals at the Greater Chicago Food Depository, the lunch bags would go to feed students and teachers of Harold Washington College.

Also, shop with Fair Trade companies or buy ethical-made gifts from places like Society B, Ethica, Fair Trade Winds and Accompany.

520 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611,
312- 321-3601

Greater Chicago Food Depository

Feed America

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Learning a new skill can be invaluable so consider buying a loved one lessons for one of their interests. Have they always wanted to learn to play the guitar or dance?  Along with it being thoughtful and rewarding, the act of learning a new skill is fun and they will have broadened their horizons.

For an elegant and informative evening with a drink why not learn more about wine at The Chopping Block? Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned sipper they offer classes for every level with accredited sommeliers. Get a solid foundation in wine tasting and sensory evaluation, that can help you build your wine knowledge and enjoyment. Classes range from $65- $90.

Other options include painting, cooking, dancing, baking, cocktail making, golf and iceskating lessons.

The Chopping Block
Lincoln Park: 4747 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL 60625, 773-472-6700
River North: 222 W Merchandise Mart Plaza, Chicago, IL 60654, 312-644-6360

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!


FASHION AND BEAUTY’S A-Z, N is for No Make-up

Alicia Keys

N is for No Make-up
The trend recently lead by Alicia Keys was also seen on the Fall/Winter 16 runway shows of Vetements, Rick Owens, Haider Ackermann and Giambattis Valli. How to pull it off? I ask two make-up experts for advice.

Nars International Lead Makeup Stylist, Ozo says “To pull off the ‘No Makeup Makeup Look’ you have to start with great-looking skin. The whole look revolves around skin looking immaculate, glowing and radiant. Always prep skin with a moisturizer to give skin a natural, healthy glow and then a dab of concealer under the eyes to even out any darkness and imperfections. A tinted moisturizer or foundation can also be used to create the illusion of flawless skin.”

M∙A∙C Cosmetics Senior Artist, John Stapleton says “Try a sheer foundation to get the look and use conceal as necessary. Finally, keep lips nourished with a lip conditioner. Eyebrows should be glossed and groomed with a clear brow set. Eyelashes curled and tinted with a thin coat of mascara. These tiny alterations will keep it looking polished and clean.

FASHION AND BEAUTY’S A-Z, O is for the new designers, Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia at Oscar de l Renta

Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia

O is for Oscar De La Renta
This iconic American brand has seen a lot of change over the last couple of years. First with the death of De la Renta, then, earlier this year, the departure of his successor, Peter Copping. Now it’s a new chapter for the company with wonder kids from Monse, Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia, taking over. We look forward to seeing how they update this classic brand.

FASHION AND BEAUTY’S A-Z, P is for plaid coat by Victoria Beckham

Victoria Beckham

P is for plaid
From big to small, from tartan to Glen plaid, the print was seen at the runway shows of Sonia Rykiel, Victoria Beckham and Rachel Zoe. This time around the look is less traditional holiday and more modern and muted.

FASHION AND BEAUTY’S A-Z, Q is for Queens, 2 new royal biopics including The Crown and Victoria

Q is for Queens
Two new royal biopics are hitting our screens each depicting the early reign of two very different female monarchs, Queen Victoria and Elizabeth II. Both showcase gorgeous period costumes complete with sumptuous silks, fur stoles and of course the crown jewels, all of which will put Downton Abbey to shame. ‘The Crown’ is available to view now on Netflix, while PBS’s Masterpiece ‘Victoria’ will be released this coming January.

FASHION AND BEAUTY’S A-Z, R is for Rei Kawakubo the designer behind Comme de Garcons who will be the subject of the new Met exhibition

Comme de Garcons

R is for Rei Kawakubo
Rumor has it that the Japanese designer behind Comme de Garçons and Dover Street Market will be the subject of The Met’s next exhibition. This will be the second time that the museum has devoted a show to a living designer.

FASHION AND BEAUTY’S A-Z, S is for Spots leopard print a big fall/winter trend including this  Dolce & Gabbana dress

Dolce & Gabbana

S is for Seeing spots
Leopard, the animal print of the season, was spotted everywhere this fall from jackets and bags to shoes and belts. The looks range from masculine tailoring at Dries van Norton and H&M to ladylike at Dolce and Gabbana and J.Crew, to rock chic at Saint Laurent.

Fashion and beauty's A-Z, T is for teamwork including the collaboration of Iris Apfe

Iris Apfel x INC Collection

T is for Teamwork
This season we have seen many fashion pairings including H&M x Kenzo, Iris Apfel x INC Collection, Tommy Hilfiger x Gigi Hadid, Olivia Palermo + Chelsea28 and Fenty Puma by Rihanna Just to name a few.

Fashion and beauty's A-Z, U is for updating your look by changing your lipstick, try Dior's new shade Poison

Dior's Poison

U is for Update your look
The easiest (and cheapest) way to update your look is with a new haircut or make-up. The must have shade for fall is a deep dark lipstick, however this time around it’s less goth and more sweet. Try Dior’s new shade, Poison, at Sephora.

Fashion and beauty's A-Z, V is for velvet a big trend for fall and winter, including this Alberta Ferretti suit

Alberta Ferretti

V is for Velvet
Break away from expected jeweled toned colors with fall’s hottest fabric velvet. Instead go for more unusual colors like blush, canary yellow, lilac and Aquamarine to keep it new and fresh. The hottest fabric for fall, velvet, is available in everything from dresses to bag to shoes, but the hot piece is the velvet pantsuit.

Fashion and beauty's A-Z, W is for white stripes on skater shoes Vans

W is for White stripes
The iconic white stripe sneaker, Vans, has overtaken Adidas’ Stan Smith popularity with fashion editors at New York fashion week this past September.

Fashion and beauty's A-Z, X is for x-tra long sleeves including this Jason Wu look,  a big trend for the season

Jason Wu

X is for x-tra
These x-tra longs sleeves are definitely more of a fashion forward trend on the runways (Jason Wu, Tibi, Creatures of Comfort, Marc Jacobs, J.W Anderson and Vetements) that may not be for everyone.

Fashion and Beauty's A-Z, Y is for Yellow paired with pink including this Delpozo look, a big trend for the winter season


Y Is for Yellow
Forget dark and muted colors for the fall instead go for light and bright. This season on the runways (Delpozo, Creatures of Comfort, Marissa Webb, and Ulla Johnson) shades of canary yellow paired with blush pink creates an unusual color combination for the colder months.

Fashion and Beauty's A-Z, Z is for Zoo and other animal motifs including this Gucci snake dress


Z is for Zoo
Animal motifs were spotted on the runway including a snake and black panthers at Gucci, mice and cats at Dolce and Gabbana and swans at Stella McCartney. There is an innate cute factor with animals but go for a quirky look with these prints.



A is for Athleisure
Fall’s most popular menswear trend, Athleisure, has finally surpassed the heritage trend, which has reigned supreme for the last several years. For this trend pair hip tracksuit jackets with dress pants or try a tracksuit jacket in luxurious fabrics like satin or sequins as seen at Burberry and Neil Barrett.

Essie's After School Boy Blazer, $

B is for Blue nails
For fall the super saturated nail is hot but the color of the season is blue. A few of our favorites include Burberry’s Imperial Blue ($22), Essie’s After School Boy Blazer ($9) and Deborah Lippmann’s Rolling in the Deep ($18).

Raf Simons

C is for Coup
Raf Simons, who recently stepped down as the designer from Christian Dior, has been snagged by Calvin Klein. This highly regarded luxury European designer will surely give the New York brand a new life and much needed credibility to the flagging brand.

Dries Van Norten

D is for Diversity
After a new high with the fall collections (shown last spring) the percentage of models of color on the New York runways has taken a slight drop, what’s going on? So although numbers of diverse models are heading in the right direction, they’re still not equal to the reality of our world.

Stella McCartney

E is for Earrings
If you didn’t already know, studs are over! The shoulder-grazing earring trend continues this season and was spotted on the runway shows of Rodarte, Marni, Stella McCartney, Sonia Rykiel, Valentino, Lanvin, Balenciaga, Louis Vuitton and Alexander McQueen. The dangly earrings are perfect for the upcoming party season as it looks killer with bare shoulders and a topknot.


F is Fur
To be on trend this fall add a touch of fur into your wardrobe, either a fun accessory (Fendi) or just a collar (Sonia Rykiel). We especially like the faux furboots seen at Topshop.


G is for Guitar straps
Handbags have been given the rock n’ roll treatment this fall with extra wide, striped webbing and embellished straps. It was seen in the collections of high-end designers Lanvin, Fendi and Gucci, as well as more affordable brands like Elle & Jae, Steven Madden and Rebecca Minkoff.

Prada at Neiman Marcus

H is for Hiking boots
The must have winter boot is the hiking boot, but don’t worry you don’t actually have to go hiking in them. Available in a flat (Stuart Weitzman and Nine West) or with a block heel (Louis Vuitton and Tod’s), they look especially cool worn with a dress like at Prada and Maison Margiela.

Christian Siriano

I is for inclusive
Three major designers have made a stance for plus size women. Christian Siriano’s spring ‘17 show saw five plus sizes models walking the runway. While Tracy Reese will be offering a wider range of sizes, 0-18, with her spring 2017 collection. And Prabal Gurung is partnering with a plus size clothing brand, Lane Bryant for a Spring 2017 collection.

David Beckham in H&M

J is for Jacket
This season’s must have jacket for guys is the bomber. It might have started last summer but the trend isn’t going anywhere, in fact, it has become so popular that it has overtaken the denim jacket. Spotted in the collections of Jil Sander, Maison Margiela, Topman and H&M. But don’t get rid of your denim jacket just yet, a classic never goes out of style.

Tory Burch

K is for Knits
The knit of choice is the turtleneck, for men, it’s the perfect piece to throw under a suit (Hermes, Boss selection, Reiss) and for women wear it under sleeveless dresses (Creatures of the Wind, Tory Burch and Karen Walker).


L is for Loosen up
Menswear changes at a snails pace so we don’t see the slim trouser going anywhere soon but a new crop of looser, wide leg trouser has popped up at Fendi and Burberry shows.


M is for Menswear inspired clothes for women
One of the biggest trends for fall is taking their cue from the boys. What makes it new this season is the mix of men’s suiting fabrics with a feminine silhouette DKNY, J.Crew and Monse)

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