Comfortable in Your Skin: About & Beyond Skin Food

Risk Your Microbiome to Smooth a Wrinkle? Run.

Risk Your Microbiome to Smooth a Wrinkle? Run.

"The press briefing for October’s Clinical Cosmetic Reconstructive Expo in London was delayed – there had been another death. A cluster of journalists gathered on the mezzanine while below them visitors filtered past signs for She Lase and Zero Gravity Skin and a stand for a company called Eurosilicone that claims to have been “Empowering women for over 30 years”. At the far end of the conference hall, a woman was having her jawline enhanced with fillers in front of a rapt crowd; the Safety in Beauty stand was empty."  

"Rear View: The Big Business of Bottoms", The Guardian 11.18.18

Autumn Skincare

Autumn Skincare
Days are shorter, the temperatures cooler, and you can feel the air drier on your skin. In the Fall, it is is worth spending a bit of time to rejuvenate the skin after a summer of heat, humidity, sun, travel, and air conditioning. It is also a perfect time to prepare skin for the deep cold and dry heat of winter. 

Skincare and Beauty Junkies--Then and Now.

Skincare and Beauty Junkies--Then and Now.
Here's a satirical poem by the Italian poet Luigi Pulci from 1472 about beauty supplies required by the 15th-century young and glamorous Nannina de Medici and the ladies who orbited her court. It is a fun, if exaggerated (and yes, misogynistic--but before you write me about this, the poem dates from 1472)  historical perspective to those of us who have tried, are willing to try, or at somewhat curious about a lot of products and techniques that might raise another's filled in and/or threaded eyebrow. 

Where Do I Think I'm Going?

Where Do I Think I'm Going?
I did ride a motorcycle once in my life. I held my breath and thought about my dad, who warned me to never, ever get on a motorcycle--and then I thought just this once.  It was 26 years ago--because I was 19 years old in the hills outside Florence.  It was evening and the sky was peach and plum after a rain, and my friend from Argentina offered me a ride straight to my doorstep in the center of town on his beautiful BMW bike. The ride was a sustained flash of dark, wet color. Exquisite. The next time I was offered a motor bike ride was several years on when someone invited me to a concert outside Rome, but I would have had to ride with him on his motorbike going and coming. No thank you, I said thinking a concert definitely didn't merit the risk-- because I had time to think. 

ASMR and Your Skin

ASMR and Your Skin
If you are reading this, it is unlikely that you are experiencing ASMR. If you were experiencing the perceptual condition now known as Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, you would be in a better place, tingling away from your head down your spine in a hypnotic golden bubble.  If you could hear the keys of my keyboard click as I type, it might be enough to send you into the experience. As I write and think about ASMR I can't quite get there. For me, writing, reading, and talking require a kind of focus and engagement that dissolves or makes impossible the outside-of-time quality of ASMR.

Floating through Kapha Season

Floating through Kapha Season

This winter felt like two winters.  Even those of us with fast paced lives across which the weeks and seasons flicker, noticed it. On the little mountain where I live the repetitive loop was a patience test--the snow would come down thick and then a few days later begin to melt and flow in streams of cold liquid. Then again. and again. Sometimes five minutes further down toward sea level, there was no snow at all. And I thought--what am I doing living all the way up here?

My Skin in Flames

My Skin in Flames
This past month I was presented with a challenge.  Not long after I wrote the last blog post I looked in the mirror one morning and was shock greeted by a breakout the likes of which I haven't seen or suffered for a very long time. From one day to the next, my skin had gone up in flames and looked fairly ruined.  I immediately thought about what I had been doing.  Diet?  Nothing changed, in fact I had given up sugar at the beginning of January; but that was supposed to have enhanced my skin. Detox from sugar? I should have been way beyond that. Too much tea?  Maybe, but that has never been a problem, although now I've switched to herbal by the early afternoon. I like answers and the not knowing was agony. 

Cleansing & The Microbiome

Cleansing & The Microbiome
"Finally one day, our conflict reached a crisis point, and Samir summoned an emergency meeting on the forbidden terrace, where he explained to me t...

Gentle, Expansive Neroli

Gentle, Expansive Neroli
When I have the chance to meet my customers in person, our first connection is through aromatherapy. I hold up spoonfuls of our clay and yogurt cleansers for them to inhale, mist a hydrosol into the air between us  and invite them to walk into clean, soft drift. Finally I offer the bottles of our moisturizing oils for them to breathe in. I like to guess to myself which I think they might like best and offer that first. I can't say that I guess correctly, but I have noticed there are specific responses that follow certain oils. The Moisturizing oil with Neroli and Frankincense elicits an expression of relief and resonance, a recognition of something that was once close and safe and dear, but now maybe a bit far off--as if they lost track of it for a little while. Some can't help but affirm-- to themselves more than to me: "oh I love neroli", in a way that is unique for the love of neroli. And why wouldn't they?  Spectacularly fruiting and flowering at the same time, the bitter orange tree, Citrus aurantium, var. amara is at once the promise of joy and its fulfillment.

For December, Something Different

This season was marked by time spent with so many artists and artisans: some colleagues, some customers, some to whom I am customer, those who are friends new and old, and those who helped me with my own plans for Balbec and generally inspired me. For all of their extraordinary work and generous spirits, this poem by Dylan Thomas.  Below is a picture of a farm at the end of my road. It isn't his Wales, but I love it just the same.

 Happy New Year Everyone! 

The Skin of Sound

The Skin of Sound
Sorry to ask you this (also because it is a cliche), but have a listen with your mind's ear: nails on a chalk board; losing control of your fork and knife on a plate. Ok now try this: a sharpened 2HB pencil writing on good paper with some tooth to it; a whispered conversation; keys clicking steadily on a keyboard; a thick needle puncturing felt. These are some of the sounds that float the ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response) folks to the moon. There's the other kind of frisson: a turn of phrase in music that reminds us that we are spirits wrapped in skin having a human experience. Some surefire reminders for me are Benjamin Britten's Cello Suites (72, 80, 87).

Balbec: The Name

Balbec: The Name

Why Balbec?

I am often asked what Balbec means and why I chose the name for our company. I usually respond that I'm a Proust fan and Balbec is a seaside town in his novel. That's the short answer. My computer still autocorrects "Balbec" to "Malbec", which irritates me because I think it should know better by now.