I love the Rachael Ray Every Day test kitchen. Dearly. Not only are the staffers tireless in their pursuit of recipe perfection, they’ll magically appear with food—like so many lunch fairies—if they even suspect you might be trapped and hungry at your desk.
One thing our test kitchen doesn’t have, however, is a view of Paris. So when I encountered another that did, I couldn’t help but be seduced. And I’m here to confess my fling.
It began not in the kitchen itself, but on a staircase landing I hit en route, where I fell under the hypnotic spell of a pink macaron whirligig.
Why the installation? It signals that you’re on the doorstep of the macaron maestro himself: one Pierre Hermé, also known as Paris’s “Picasso of Pastry” and general dessert deity about town.
Baussan, left; Hermé, right
Among Hermé’s biggest fans is L’Occitane founder Olivier Baussan. And their new holiday collaboration is the reason I—and several other reporters—wound up in that test kitchen. Where better, thought Hermé and Baussan, to celebrate some of the foodiest beauty products in history? (I should note that the November attacks hadn’t yet happened, so everyone was feeling more festive.)
As Hermé’s staffers gave us macaron-making lessons—don’t overmix your batter, or it’ll be too runny to hold a nice shape—we talked ingredient combos that work as well on your skin as in patisserie. Take rhubarb, clove, nutmeg and grapefruit—a super-fresh foursome you’ll find in the Pamplemousse Rhubarbe Body Lotion, among other products. Or honey-crystallized mandarin, which scents the heavenly Miel Mandarine Hand Cream.
Then there was bitter orange blossom, jasmine and Immortelle flower—a trio I couldn’t get enough of, whether in perfume or pastry form. (Hermé makes tons of floral desserts, as I’d already discovered through careful recon at one of his ice cream outposts.)
Violet-flavored ice cream and candy mixed with other deliciousness
“Many of the ingredients in L’Occitane’s holiday collection have appeared in my pastry,” he noted during the launch. “But while I normally work with my mouth, this time I was working with my nose.” (Lest you miss the pâtissier’s imprint on each scent, the perfume bottles are even shaped like abstract macarons.)
After a bit more chitchat, my dalliance with the dessert demigod ended.
I’ve since returned to the loving embrace of our own test kitchen—with the bonus pounds to prove it (I came back just in time for holiday treat testing). Still, monsieur Hermé, we’ll always have Paris.
Beauty editing can be all kind of things: an eye feast, a funfest—a crazy education (true story: when a friend was studying for his medical boards, I did better on the dermatology practice tests than he did). But one thing the gig is not, typically: a big soul stirrer.
Last week, however, I lucked into an exception: a Look Good Feel Better workshop. This free program—which I’d been invited to observe by the underwriting foundation—exists solely to help cancer patients handle the side effects they see in the mirror.
The point, of course, is not to feel runway-ready (forgive me: I’m getting a thousand New York Fashion Week press releases per minute as I write). The point is simply to feel like oneself—an often elusive state for anyone who doesn’t think she looks like herself.
And while the women at the session I sat in on were remarkably beautiful, they’d all seen their share of change: Most had lost their hair; some had lost their brows—everyone had newfound skin care concerns. Speaking of, I should note that each participant gets a cosmetics kit, and the contents are always screened for toxicity.
The workshop was led by a volunteer veteran of the beauty industry who’s versed in everything from blush blending to wig washing—and wise-cracking, when a group clearly needs a good laugh.
She kept the intros intentionally brief—a detail that might have been lost on me had I not been struck by something a friend said several months ago, mid-chemo: Feeling obliged to talk about your cancer, even among people who can relate, gets old fast.
Then again, there’s perhaps no better ice breaker than group grooming. It feels like such a throwback—seriously, when did you last primp en masse? at a slumber party? bunk night?—the sheer girliness seems to take women out of themselves. Yes, even if they’re learning how to keep scarves from slipping off their newly exposed scalps.
As I followed the participants through their two-hour session, I kept trying to figure out what accounted for the amazing transformation I was witnessing: That escapist element? The makeup itself (which, for the record, was fabulous by any standards)? The expert tutelage? Or simply being pampered?
In the end, I suspected the answer was all of the above, with a heavy emphasis on options A and D. And according to one graduate of the program, I wasn’t too far off: “It was the beautiful women, both inside and out, who gave me an opportunity to think about something other than cancer. I instantly felt brighter. It was just such a nice contrast—and that in itself was inspiring.”
Indeed, however face-brightening the blush—or natural-looking the penciled-on brows—there’s no cosmetic that can hold a candle to the gorgeous glow of kindness.
To find a workshop near you, click here. And many thanks again to the workshop participants—as well as to the Personal Care Products Council Foundation and NYU Langone’s Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Cancer Center—for allowing me to observe.
Whatever your thoughts on Valentine’s Day, and whatever your relationship status, there’s one way to commemorate the occasion that pretty much everyone can get behind: chocolate-drizzled spa services. Want a sensual celebration for two? Indulgent consolation for one? Silent protest against the romance industrial complex? These five treatments serve admirably as any of the above.
Photo courtesy of Westward Look
The Sonoran Spa’s Chocolate Stone Massage at the Westward Look, a Wyndham Grand Resort & Spa in Tucson, AZ
Get it while it’s hot! This is a limited-engagement treatment involving warm basalt stones that have been bathed in ridiculously delicious-smelling, skin-soothing chocolate oil. You’ll be plied with them for 80 otherworldly minutes, then—if you can manage to sit up straight (or even remember your own name)—you’ll be treated to a champagne chaser in the relaxation area (from $150 for 80 minutes; westwardlook.com/offers/tucson-spa-specials).
The Joya Spa’s Chocolate Mousse Body Wrap at Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia
Elsewhere in Arizona (which happens to be my home state, so I’m exercising authorial privilege and listing two places there), you can get slathered in chocolate sugar mousse, wrapped in mylar, then treated to scalp massage or reflexology while you “set” for 20 minutes. During that time, any dead skin cells that that survived the manual sloughing will be eaten away by the enzymes in the antioxidant-rich mousse. Next comes a shower—and a final rubdown with a blend of avocado oil, hyaluronic acid, vanilla extract and, of course, essential oil of cocoa (from $159 for 50 minutes; omnihotels.com/hotels/scottsdale-montelucia/spa/seasonal-specials).
The Well Spa & Salon’s Berry, Wine and Chocolate Delight Transformational Facial at the Grand Geneva Resort & Spa in Lake Geneva, WI
Encompassing multiple important food groups in one (wine, chocolate, creamy things), this treatment gets going with a cranberry-scented cleansing milk and shea butter sugar polish. Next comes a mask of decadent, antioxidant-rich dark chocolate—followed by even more antioxidants: a cocktail of wine grapes and peptides. By the end, your skin is so de-stressed and plumped up, you’d be carded if you decided to pop over the winery that supplied the grapes. (from $120 for 50 minutes; grandgeneva.com/well-spa-lake-geneva).
Photo courtesy of Jade Mountain
The Kai en Ciel Spa’s Chocolate Delight at Jade Mountain in Saint Lucia
If you want a side of tropical gorgeousness with your spa treatment, head to one of the lushest, most mountainous islands in the Caribbean—Saint Lucia—and check into Jade Mountain. The property has its own organic cocoa plantation (1000 trees and counting), and when you’re not making your own edible treats at the resort’s Chocolate Lab, you can basically become a human tartufo at the spa. When you sign up for the Chocolate Delight, you’ll be coated in alternating layers of hot and cold chocolate, then left to drift into another stratosphere while your skin binges on all the antioxidants and moisture ($150 for 60 minutes, jademountain.com/wellness/spa).
Photo courtesy of Paresa Resort
The Spa by Paresa’s Chocolate Menu at the Paresa Resort in Phuket, Thailand
If you can’t get enough chocolate in your system—and miles in your frequent flier account—this motherlode’s for you: On Thailand’s dreamy, turquoise coast, you’ll find an entire cocoa-loco spa lineup. There’s the Dark Chocolate Champagne Body Wrap, the White Chocolate Latte Footsie (a hot milk and cocoa butter-based pedi), the Chocolate Honey Facial and—for anyone who wants to swim in the stuff—the Organic Chocolate & Coconut Bubble Bath. Go ahead. No judgment (from $52 for 60 minutes, paresaresorts.com).
As the magazine’s beauty and travel editor, I wind up in some…unusual situations. From marital maintenance to power-tanning, here’s one I couldn’t help but write about.
When travel writers and editors hang out, you can count the seconds before everyone’s talking about recent trips, upcoming trips—and the art of cramming laundry, bills and marriage into 12-hour stopovers at home. But at last weekend’s Book Passage Travel Writers & Photographers Conference (the best one to attend if you happen to be an aspiring travel journalist, by the way), conversation turned toward something totally out of character for this crowd: skincare.
Photo courtesy of Candace Rose Rardon
The third annual Look Good Feel Better National Beauty Editors Day event at Saks Fifth Avenue is finally here! On Thursday, August 7th our Beauty and Travel Editor, Abbie Kozolchyk, will be hosting her second round of one-on-one consultations. This year, she’ll be partnering with the ladies at the Trish McEvoy counter. Stop by to pick up great makeup and skincare tips, hear about life at Every Day with Rachael Ray or even talk travel with our sightseeing guru. We gave you a little bit of an intro to Abbie before last year’s event, but get to know our #1 beauty gal even better (now!) by reading three more must-know answers from Abbie to kick off the beauty celebration!
1. What’s your favorite beauty product of all time?
AK: I wish I were that decisive! I have a lot of favorites. But because we’re in the middle of summer, I’m especially focused on sunscreen right now. For a basic running-around-town workday, I like L’Oreal Paris Advanced Suncare Silky Sheer Face Lotion. And for more intense exposure, I’ve sworn by Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protection Cream since I tested the formula a few years ago on an island in the Philippines where the average daily temperature was 300 degrees, with 300 percent humidity.
2. What’s your best piece of beauty advice for women of all ages?
AK: Sunscreen. Early and often. And yes, clearly, I can be insufferable on this topic. But here’s why: My very first week at a magazine involved a trip to the New York Public Library, where I’d been dispatched to dig through piles of microfiched melanoma images for a story. And I’ve assigned—or been assigned—at least one sun care story a year in the 22 summers since then. So I have a pretty vivid idea of what failure to protect your skin looks like—and wow. Best not to go there.
3. What’s one thing you’ve learned within the last year that you really want to share on Beauty Editor’s Day?
AK: That Look Good Feel Better, the organization that gets the day’s proceeds, makes a real difference. The whole idea is to boost the self-image of people who are undergoing cancer treatment, and the participants I’ve met during the year are hugely grateful to be involved — as are the people who work with them
Get a full recap of last year’s event here, and be sure to register for this year’s event here!
Eating, drinking and making merry outside? What you want from your sunscreen– beyond broad-spectrum protection and an SPF of at least 30– is a scent that won’t compete with food and a formula that won’t leave your hands too goopy to snack. We found six products that fit both bills, and work extra well for the fiestas below– though a few tubes can easily cross party lines!
In a nod to grill season, or just to charcoal’s skin-purifying powers, this natural-born dirt magnet is on fire in skincare circles.
Charcoal meets softening cacao in Osmia Organics Detox Exfoliating Mask. ($40 with code RACHAEL, through September; osmiaorganics.com)
The brand famous for its pore strips has a new way for you to power-cleanse: Bioré Skincare Deep Pore Charcoal Cleanser. ($8; at drugstores)
Massage away dead skin and other debris with Freeman Feeling Beautiful Charcoal & Black Sugar Facial Polishing Mask. ($4; at drugstores)
Blending charcoal with breakout-blocking salicylic acid, Garnier Clean Shine Control Cleansing Gel Oily Skin helps keep you in the clear. ($8; at drugstores)
De-shine on the go with Sephora Collection Charcoal Blotting Papers. ($10; sephora.com)
Emily Maynard has officially launched her very own jewelry line! With the help of Jessica Stanfield and Christi Pack, founders of Towne & Reese — a line Emily wore often on her season of The Bachelorette — she developed unforgettable, style-savvy accessories with personal touches. Her 63-piece girly-with-an-edge collection can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion. See a few of Emily’s favorite pieces, plus learn about more of her favorite things below!
Favorite meal on The Bachelorette? “Every night in Prague my producer and I would go to the hotel restaurant and get a great dover sole dish.”
Her daughter’s favorite? “I make this green chicken recipes with tons of herbs and also a baked fried chicken with crushed pretzels.”
Guilty pleasure food? Ranch dressing and diet coke
Ice cream flavor? Pistachio
Summer grill-out dinner? Cheeseburgers
From left to right: Jessica Stanfield, Judi Peña (Assistant to the Editor-in-Chief), Lauren Smith (Web Editor), Emily Maynard, and Christi Pack.
Check out EmilyMaynard.com for more info.
Long a foodie favorite (in fact, there’s one in Rach’s product line), Himalayan pink salt is now being sprinkled across the beauty aisle, too. Turns out, the mineral-packed crystals are as glow-giving as palate-pleasing. –Abbie Kozolchyk, Travel and Beauty Editor
1. Kismibella Pink Himalayan Salt with Goat Milk Bath Bomb ($5 each, kismibella.etsy .com) packs Epsom salt and avocado oil for an intensely soothing soak.
2. Made with 60 percent Himalayan pink salt, Bliss fatgirlscrub ($38, blissworld.com) is the definition of true grit, plus a circulation booster and skin polisher of the highest order.
3. Garnished with rose petals and spiked with sandalwood. KhushiOrganics Rose of the Himalaya Organic Soaking Spa Salts ($16, khushiorganics.etsy.com) offer the best kind of sensory overload.
4. Loaded with stimulants, CricketCoveSoapCo Eucalyptus and Peppermint Organic Coconut Milk & Pink Himalayan Salt Soap ($6, cricketcovesoapco.etsy.com) lathers into a full-body wake-up call.
5. Dial Skin Therapy Replenishing Body Wash with Himalayan Pink Salt ($5, at drugstores) deposits skin-healthy minerals but leaves no schmutz behind.