Tag Archives: Spa

The Must Try Facial Treatment: Dermalinfusion

This is me, 48 hours post-Dermalinfusion. Yes, my face is makeup-free. And, yes, I freed the nip, too. After what felt like a very Real Housewives treatment, this bare state I stayed in for a weekend was quite the opposite.

You’ve heard of microderm, right? Dermalinfusion is in the same family, in that they are both skin resurfacing treatments. The difference is in method and it makes a world of one. Dermalinfusion exfoliates as microderm does but at the same time it is extracting dirt and bacteria out of your pores it’s also infusing serum directly into the epidermal layers of skin. It’s a non-invasive treatment using a recessed diamond tip – it’s pushed back a bit so you’re not getting that direct abrasion on skin – to exfoliate and extract using closed-loop vacuum pressure. Everything that is sucked out of the skin goes into this jar that you get to look at after your service. Sound satisfying? Because it is. Especially that last part.

This is probably one of the more intense facial treatments I’ve had but the aftermath was easy. Intense in terms of exfoliation, not sensation. You know how some people say facials break them out? The ‘purge’ if you will. I won’t deny I’ve had facials that my skin reacted negatively, too. I had a peel so intense about eight years ago that gave me a nasty bout of contact dermatitis. Facials are traumatic by their very nature. That’s why half of the time of facials is spent putting moisture back in to the skin. This is probably one of the biggest differences with Dermalinfusion – it eliminates the time gap between exfoliation and moisture application. Envy Medical, the makers of this treatment, say by infusing serum into skin before the wound-healing phase begins, skin is able to absorb and receive the serum at a deeper level.  We’re talking four ounces of serum getting delivered deep into the skin. One of the reasons I was so excited to try this because it’s billed as a skin volumizer —- post treatment, skin is 70% volumized.

The plumping effect only lasts about three days, but the long-term payoff treats dark spots, hyperpigmentation, dry skin, acne, rough skin and fine lines. The before and after shots they showed me of people who had up to six treatments every two weeks were insane.

My favorite part of the treatment was checking out the waste jar — blobs of oil and dirt from your pores. It’s diluted with some of the serum that gets sucked back from the tool but shine a light on it and you can totally see the floaties.

Envy Medical offers this services at spas and derms nationwide — there’s a locator on the website — and I had it the Waldorf Astoria Chicago Spa. They’ve got a number of treatments that include it, ranging from 30-minutes for $180 and 60 or 90 minute services that range from $280 to $350.

A Miraval State of Mind

Miraval Resort

Vacations are by their very nature retreats from the hustle of your daily life. But what happens when you get back? Sometimes you have a tan. Or a hangover. And usually piles of laundry. Coming back from Miraval, steps outside of Tucson, is a little different. It has taken me months to verbalize how impactful this trip was on my being. It’s so much more than just a vacation. When you reenter life post-Miraval you have a new perspective and understanding of yourself. It’s a comforting return; everything is going to be all right. Oprah was onto something when she said it was a life-changing adventure.

I knew Miraval would be special from the moment I stepped foot on the property. You see it in the mountains and you feel it in your heart. While there, I met a group of gal pals in their 60s that have been coming to Miraval every winter for the past 15 years, heard from a woman who said a one-hour group session on grieving did more for her than years of therapy and spoke with a fellow solo-traveler who recounted how she was able to recover a memory that led her to understand why she suffered from chronic pain. I also went to dinner in my bathrobe after an Ayurvedic massage. There’s something to be said for indulging in that type of mental and physical freedom. Also, less laundry…amiright?!

Miraval Challenges

While Miraval-ing, I immersed myself in experiences – which are plentiful and always changing with visits from world-renowned healers and experts – and gave myself space to be alone with my thoughts. I journaled the heck out of my stay there and re-reading those raw entries gave me chills. I’ll keep those just for me but the themes of mindfulness and reflection are for us. For you!

Miraval Views

We should be meditating more. Here’s the thing: No one is bad at meditation. I kept saying that and finally wellness counselor Lisa Frank reminded me that there is no right or wrong way. You don’t have to clear your head or suddenly stop thinking about what’s on your mind but instead be forgiving to yourself. We’re human beings; we have thoughts! The floating mediation she led me through was possibly my favorite experience at Miraval. I breathed deeply. I cried. I learned. I listened. I try to take a moment every morning to meditate and just be, even if for only 5 minutes.

Do you.  It’s not selfish to put yourself first. Yet, as women especially, we guilt ourselves if we do. The ‘i’ in Miraval represents you, the individual. Everyone at Miraval seemed to be seeking something – relaxation, bonding, recovery, confronting fears. And, for the latter, there’s a cable 35 feet off the ground waiting for you to walk across it and shut that shi*t down. Giving yourself what you need is the only way you can truly be there for other people.

Miraval Desert

Look around. The mountainous backdrop of Miraval is intensely breathtaking. And I think seeing the mountains helped me see more clearly back home. Rather than be on my phone walking (a hazard on tons of levels), I’ve been paying closer attention to the architectural details on buildings and charm of the city. I’ve got a nice library of photos building up as a result. But really, I could stare at these photos from Miraval all day, errday.

Miraval Pool

Be curious. We should always show up with an interested mindset and openness to learn — in all interactions and roles. There are so many opportunities to do this at Miraval. I took an Intro to Ayurveda class, based on one of the oldest ancient Indian healing rituals that believes human beings are composed of three main mind body principles, a.k.a “doshas” derived from the five elements (space, air, fire, water and earth). Accordingly, our unique Ayurvedic constitution helps us understand why we have certain tendencies. I found it spot on and it’s something that I think can help me find balance.  Miraval is even considering adding a quick Ayurveda quiz to the website so guests can customize treatments to their ayurvedic makeup.

I also spent as much time as I could possibly in my three-day stay at the Life in Balance Spa. Every treatment was spectacular as was simply sitting in a fluffy robe with a mug of tea gazing across the property into the mountainous terrain. Surely, this is the setting where stress goes to die and clarity emerges.

Miraval is self-love in the highest form and I can’t wait to return!

The Best Pedicure in Chicago


Ya read that correctly. THE BEST PEDI IN ALL OF 312-LAND. I don’t go around making these claims often but when the shoe fits… or, in this case, if the shoe looks better, it’s because you got your feet drilled at Cowshed Spa. Yes, drilled. More on that below…

My theory on feet is that men are blessed with lily pads and women suffer with callused soles and jagged edges. I certainly do. It’s my cross to bear. It requires intense commitment to the foot file for me to maintain a smooth sole. Pedis are a nice treat but the softness is always fleeting. Every time, without fail.  Smooth soles are like unicorns. That is, until I experienced the Cowshed Pedicure. An hour of pampering that left my feet smooth long after I left that Soho House basement.

So what makes the Cowshed pedi so special?

The dim lights, barn aesthetic and rustic buckets set an unpretentious vibe. In fact, when I was in there, the founder of Soho House and Cowshed Spa Nick Jones was a few seats down totally getting his relaxation on in one of those cozy chairs. According to the spa director Christina Russilo, he lives by an “eat, drink, nap” mantra. I support that fully.

The secret to this truly being the BEST is 100% the aforementioned drill. I promise, it’s not scary. It does tickle a bit, though. And, OK, it’s semi-terrifying when you see the tech reach for a surgical mask and rev up the engine. My eyes bugged and I was all WHAT ARE YOU ABOUT TO DO TO ME? Truth: it looks like an electric toothbrush and isn’t as threatening as the word drill implies.

For the next 7-15 minutes (I was somewhere around 12), I enjoyed the oddest sensation of this drill gently polishing off every bit of dead skin clinging to my feet. We’re talking inside the grooves of your toes, alongside the perimeter of your foot and especially around your battered soles. I’m certain I’ve never smiled so blissfully during a pedicure. THIS is what we need. THIS is why we pay someone to touch our feet. It’s a manual labor I dread with all my might.

The unpretentious vibe extends to the actual price point of the spa services. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that 60 minutes—12 of which were spent sawing off calluses—runs a cool $45. It’s in that reasonable treat yoself realm. Plus, once you’re done, you can chill in The Allis and gaze up at the chandeliers and/or peoples of the Soho House.

Spa Day The Kohler Way


Kohler is a magical place in Wisconsin. For starters, it’s where bathtubs are made. This tiny village north of Milwaukee is one of the most beautiful places to visit in my home state – nature upon nature, golf courses men dream of, happy birds, beaches and of course, the best spa in the Midwest. Kohler shared the love with its border state and brought that spa goodness to the Chicago burbs. Bless them and their bath-centric massage services. I spent the afternoon at Kohler’s Burr Ridge Day Spa with Lindsay. We powered down our devices, put on a pair of spa slippers and settled in for what was the most relaxing day I’ve had all year.  I went in for the Seasonal Sensation, one of Kohler’s hydrotherapy treatments which are essentially a bath, shower and massage in one. And, yes, it put me into a complete zombie trance. Vichy showers pulsate warm and cool water and the massage therapist uses a scotch hose to trace the meridian liens of the body. At one point, she wrapped my body and encased me in a cozy bath cocoon and then turned on the Vichy spouts. She even shampooed my hair, guys. Before that went down we took advantage of Kohler’s spa services doing intervals of sauna, hot tub, shower and steam room (in that order). Treatments can set you back – here and elsewhere – so the fact that Kohler-goers can spend the day (literally…all day) in a fluffy robe eating banana chips between sauna and shower can’t be beat.

Note: Kohler provided us with complimentary spa services. Opinions are always my own.

5 Important Tips I Learned During My Last Facial


My last facial came with a particularly empowering name: You Glow Girl. I’ll cheers to that. I visited the Blue Mercury spa in Lincoln Park several weeks ago, on a dreary day that leeched any type of glow from both mood and skin. The “You Glow Girl” facial uses the m-61 products exclusively, which was a great way to learn more about the line. I’ve had a handful of facials before and in my experience, there are estheticians that take the sales-y route and others that make it a point to shame you on skincare sins. What a pleasure to have one that did neither and instead helped me help myself.  Rachel King, lead esthetician at a few Chicagoland Blue Mercury locations, dropped some major knowledge on me while showing my blackheads who’s boss.

Blend downward.  We tend to apply skincare and makeup in an upward direction, but it might be causing breakouts. Our faces are covered in peach fuzz, called vellus hair, and blending upward against the follicle, can lead to congestion. This makes complete sense! It takes some getting used to, but I’ve gotten the hang of it now. I press my serums, oils and creams into the skin and lightly pat in a downward motion.

Don’t forget the the sides of your nose. I regularly get a build-up of milia, a.k.a. tiny white bumps that form when skin cells become trapped under the skin’s surface. They don’t look like whiteheads or blemishes, and are near impossible to remove at home.  Simply being more dedicated about washing and exfoliating specifically that tiny nook on the side of my nose can go a long way towards prevention.  I’ve been testing the m-61 Brilliant Cleanse and love how gentle yet powerful it is — glycolic, salicylic, lactic and malic acids remove dead surface skin cells and grapefruit extract brightens. Bonus, the grapefruit extract adds the most refreshing smell possible.

Masks aren’t just for the face and neck. Consider your chest and back, too. Of course these areas could use a little TLC – they’re constantly exposed to the sun – yet, I never do this. Rachel used the m-61 Fast Blast on my neck during my facial to show me how effective and quickly it works. It is indeed fast — a 2-minute, Vitamin C brightening mask that exfoliates and firms (seaweed and aloe vera help this). It applies creamy and within 90 seconds begins to foam up on skin. Skin is brighter right away — gotta love instant gratification!

Take a 360 approach to eye cream. Most of us apply eye cream to the immediate under eye area but often forget to move it up and to the sides. I’m guilty of this. As Rachel applied the m-61 Hydraboost Eye in a 360-motion around my eye, she emphasized how important it was to help plump and treat the area right under the browbone, which droops as we age (damn gravity). I’ve started weaving the Hydraboost  Eye, in all of its hyaluronic acid and peptide glory, into my morning routine 360-style and really like how my skin drinks it up.

SPF your lips. I preach this one, but even I forget. What used to be one or two “cute” lip freckles have now multiplied. Rachel made it a point to remind me to SPF my lips and we had a skin cancer chat. My grandfather actually had melanoma on his lip, so I’m conscious of the realities. Nothing a Fresh Sugar can’t handle! Part of the facial was also a lip treatment with the m-61 x Sara Happ colllab, with Lemon, Mint and Cucumber. Tasted incredible and I surely ingested more than I should have.

*Blue Mercury picked up the tab for my facial and provided me with samples of the Fast Blast, Hydraboost Eye and Brilliant Cleanse. All opinions are my own.