I turned thirty-one this year, and whether it was a result of my personal neurosis or the invariable effects of biology emerging front and center, a deeply pronounced line appeared stubbornly across my forehead, as if to say, “I’ve arrived; I’ll remain.”
Given the amount of time and effort that I admittedly designate to enhancing my physical shell, the onset of “the” wrinkle gave me pause; no longer could I invest in lashes, lips and alluringly manufactured cosmetic products if I weren’t taking proactive measures to maintain the health and longevity of the assets that I do have.
While you might’ve noticed that I finally got hip to a skin care regimen that I can authentically rave about to other women, I’ve also started to contemplate what the current phenomenon of “self-care” means to me. As someone who soars through life in a manic frenzy, a wobbly toddler subsisting on cold coffee, cupcakes and sedatives, would it be realistic, – or, more importantly — personally gratifying – for me to incorporate celery juice, foam rollers and vegan mattresses into my daily routine.
After using the above-mentioned skin care products once in the morning and once at night for the past six months, I’ve found that committing to a simple practice that entails the use of three trustworthy, time-tested products is as important as it is fulfilling to me. In designating ten minutes a day to take control over the way in which I treat my skin, while also making a long-term investment in my future self, I realized what my definition of self-care is.
When it came to my attention that the skin on the scalp ages in virtually the exact same way as the skin on the face, I began to envision my Grandfather’s shiny, wrinkled dome.
As a woman, especially, it was inordinately valuable for me to learn that when the scalp matures, the hair, in turn, becomes significantly more damaged. In giving it further thought (Who regularly considers scalp health without first being advised/prompted?), I’ve often noticed a stark contrast between the shiny, lustrous locks of younger females versus the more damaged – and sometimes matronly-looking manes — of mature women. While we tend to attribute hair breakage solely to hot tools, color jobs, extensions, the SCALP ITSELF is an instrumental component in determining what our hair will ultimately look and feel like.
Growing up in New York, my head has endured thirty-one harsh winters and been exposed to prolonged blitzes of pollution every time that I exit a building.
What’s more, I’ve experienced hormonal and lifestyle changes, which, unbeknownst to me, disrupted the quality of my growing hair follicles. Ultimately, these influences could’ve lead to dull, dry strands — a brittle, broken mop atop my head, which, like skin on the face, would’ve become irreversibly damaged.
Although the scope of my skin care routine is categorically limited, I’ve started to incorporate preventative measures into my day-to-day schedule as it pertains to being proactive in preserving the health of my hair. Using two products — Head & Shoulders Deep Moisture Shampoo and Conditioner — I ensure that my scalp receives moisture, restoration and detoxifation two to three times per week (Yes, I also bring the products to Bella), which creates a healthy foundation, so that my hair will remain in resilient condition for as long as I can keep it that way. Although I’ve generally associated Head & Shoulders with dandruff treatment, the Deep Moisture Shampoo specifically targets scalp health (remember – scalp is skin), enhancing the look of my styled hair, as well.
Many women, I think, would be interested to know that the Head & Shoulders Deep Moisture Shampoo and Conditioner received a SHAPE 2018 Beauty Award in the Skin Care category, which is the first time that I’ve seen a shampoo brand regarded as skin care, but scalp is skin! Since I’m now aware of the fact that our scalps age in the same way that our faces do, I’ll ensure that the pronounced wrinkle taking up residency on my forehead won’t get within a football field of harming my hair game.
Brooke: What kind of skin supplements do you recommend, if any?
Ildi: If you break out, or if your skin is very oily, zinc is good. Uh, ashwagandha is really good for hormonal breakouts. I love ginger and a probiotic called feed — it’s supposed to be very, very good for the skin. And the other probiotic I take is the RNS. I take fish oil, Vitamin C, and I take a lot of magnesium. Magnesium is the key, so if you don’t have enough magnesium in your body, it doesn’t matter what [else] you take; it’s not going to dissolve. So, I call magnesium, the mother of all vitamins.
Brooke: What a sound bite.
Brooke: Okay, what is the best treatment for dark under eye circles?
Ildi: First of all, you have to figure out what the cause is — lack of sleep, lack of [a nutritious] diet, sometimes liver problems, not drinking enough water. Take a little eye cream and just start patting around the eye area; it gets you stimulated a little bit. I recommend doing it in the morning and at night, or even during your working hours. If you’re in front of the computer a lot, or you’re just working in a darker room, pat — get some stimulation going around there, and it should help you a lot.
Brooke: So that patting motion (attempts to mimic motion) you’re saying — especially when you’re applying your eye cream — is sort of key?
Ildi: Yes, and you always want to go in [inward facing direction]. So, you pat inward a little bit, and then go around, you could close your eyes, and you could do this for even one or two minutes. It doesn’t need to be something long. If you have eye cream, it would be nice, but you could actually [without eye cream] do it [the patting motion] over your makeup.
Ildi: You know? Because it’s such a light pat. Don’t do stronger patting because that will cause damage.
Brooke: What is the best treatment for closing pores and refining skin?
Ildi: I would recommend deep cleansing. It removes dirt. Clogged skin is pretty much excess oil and pollution. So, the only way that you could clean them out is manually.
Brooke: What do I do for wrinkles and dark spots above my lip that look like a mustache?
Ildi: Using Vitamin C every day will protect your skin. It’s a high anti-oxidant. And kogic acid (Ildi recommends Dermaceutic Mela Cream, which contains said ingredient).
Brooke: And just apply it to the top of the lip?
Ildi: Yes, just apply it right in the area… and definitely sunblock.
Brooke: Do you have any good recommendations for pigmentation?
Ildi: You have to wear sun protection — so, yes, sun protection, sometimes using a little kogic acid, a light peel, sometimes glycolic acid (Ildi recommends the Dermaceutic Foamer, #15, which contain glycolic acid). If you have a major problem, LED or a stronger peel will do. And, if you really want to go strong, lasers could do it, but that has down time. [With respect to the other options], none of them have down time.
Brooke: I exfoliate regularly but I still get ingrown hair and blocked pores on my face. Any suggestions?
Ildi: So, yeah, exfoliation is very important. Finding the right exfoliator is key (Ildi recommends the O.R.G. Mineral Face Peel, which is an Enzyme Exfoliant). [For exfoliating], it depends what you use. You could do it two or three times a week. If you have very oily skin, if you’re very active, or if you spend a lot of time outside, sometimes you could actually use it every night. I like glycolic acid for exfoliating, and I love the enzyme. I’m all about the enzyme, so a liquid one is very organic, very light –- anyone could use that. There are some powder options. You just add a little water, it foams up, it’s kind of cool.
Brooke: That is cool.
Ildi: It really smells great too, so — you know, pick something that fits your lifestyle and your budget.
Brooke: We have somebody who says, “I get hormonal breakouts. What are the best products/routines to care for and prevent these types of breakouts?”
Ildi: Definitely exfoliation and glycolic acid are the keys. And if you have sensitive skin, I recommend using mild products. If you have a lot of breakouts, you need to invest in an LED light. It’s highly effective, it has no downtime, it’s easy to use.
Brooke: Are there any drugstore masks that are enough to properly hydrate combination skin?
Ildi: Yes, so, if you have sensitive skin, and you see fifty ingredients, that’s definitely a “no.” You want to keep it simple, and when you read the ingredients, make sure, you know – like, some of them, you couldn’t even pronounce – stay away from those, there are chemicals. (Ildi recommends buying 100 percent Raw Honey, applying a full coverage layer, and leaving it on the skin for 15-20 minutes. Then, rinse with luke warm water).
Brooke: What is your recommended solution for opening pores?
Ildi: Some people ask me this because they want to do a little extracting at home. If you’re really good at it, do it, but otherwise, don’t because you could cause so much damage. If you have long nails, you could cause yourself broken capillaries. You could actually pull skin off which takes forever to heal, and you could end up with a pigmentation problem.
Brooke: What are the must-have and the most effective necessities?
Ildi: Cleansing is the most important thing. If I could recommend three products, let’s see…the cleanser and a nice hydrating moisturizer…and maybe, a treatment, a serum or a Vitamin C (Ildi recommends the ILDI PEKAR Creamy Cleanser, Hydrating Moisturizer, and CBD Serum, which contains CBD Oil, Hyalurunic acid and Vitamin C).
Brooke: What is the best cleanser and face oil?
Ildi: If you use a lot of makeup, you have to use a little bit of a stronger cleanser. So, use a makeup remover before you use your cleanser. I love creamy cleansers — they don’t really foam up, so you definitely have to clean your makeup before you use the creamy cleanser because it’s not harsh. It’s creamier, it’s milder on the skin, it’s a little bit more hydrating. But the best way – if you test a cleanser, wash your face, and then touch it…if your skin feels tight, that cleanser is not for you. The face oil? Vitamin C is great. I told you Jojoba Oil is really, really good, argon oil and I actually sometimes use avocado oil. People love coconut oil. If you can handle it — you know, if it’s not too strong for you, go for it.
Ildi: Yes, and it’s organic. I like light eye creams. When you brush your teeth, just put the eye cream on beforehand and just [gently motions around eyes] pat, pat, pat. At night time, do it again.
Brooke: Should I use a toner every day after cleansing as part of my routine?
Ildi: Yes, toner is a great thing to use! What I usually teach and preach here is you clean your skin at night time really well. However, in the morning, you just use a toner. You want to keep all the natural oils in your skin, so you don’t have to apply a lot of moisturizer, which clogs the skin and causes breakouts and clogged pores.
Brooke: What is a good sunscreen for the face?
Ildi: My personal favorite is Coola. I love their sunblock. It’s light, but it’s effective. The powder [sunscreen] is a little bit easier to use. You could just throw that in your purse. I love the Colorescience. What’s so great about colorescience is that you could just go over your makeup with it. The number one skin cancer is usually around the hairline and the nose because I think people are usually so afraid to put sunblock there because they think it would ruin their hair…so with colorescience, you could just go right into your hair[line], right into your ears, right into your nose, because it’s a powder.
Brooke: How many times a week should you do a face mask?
Ildi: As much as you want, as much as you have time for. There’s a lot of great face masks out there!
Brooke: Three times a day?
Ildi: [laughs] You would do three times a day. Well…if you have time, just do it, you know?
Brooke: So it could never hurt?
Ildi: It could never hurt.
Brooke: How often should you get facials?
Ildi: If you have problem skin, four to six weeks — especially in the beginning until you get your skin to the condition where you’d like it to be. After that, you could slow down a little bit but definitely seasonally.
Brooke: What are your thoughts on Accutane?
Ildi: What Accutane does is it shuts oil glands off, so if you want to do it naturally, try zinc before you take Accutane. Zinc will do something very similar to Accutane but in a natural way. Take it for a couple of weeks to see the results.
Brooke: [You mean] to see the results of something natural first? So Accutane — last resort, I think we’re going to say, and we’re going to try zinc first on a full stomach…
Ildi: Yes, perfect.
Brooke: And pray.
Brooke: What about jade rollers? Are they worth it?
Ildi: Jade rollers! I say go for it. I think it feels good, especially if you keep it in the fridge, and if you go upwards, it kind of gives you a little lift.
Ildi: Don’t expect miracles…
Brooke: What is the best skincare for a thirty-year-old woman?
Ildi: Definitely clean skin, anti-aging, even skin tone. Add vitamins to your skincare routine — add Vitamin C. At that age, I recommend starting to use Retinol A. Glycolic acid. What happens is that your skin is getting a little bit thinner any way, so you want to make sure you have that glow…you know, like your cheeks are glowy. Definitely anti-aging because you start losing collagen.
Brooke: What do you recommend for rosacea and blotchy skin?
Ildi: To me, LED is the best thing for rosacea. Sometimes, even microneedling [holds up micro-needling instrument]. CBD is great. If you drink a lot of peppermint tea, it will cool your body down.
Brooke: What is a good facial for maturing skin?
Ildi: A microcurrent [facial] is one of my favorite [options] because it goes deeper than anything you could do at home.
Brooke: How do you combat oily skin while still staying moisturized?
Ildi: I tell people that if you have oily skin, exfoliation…cleaning, is important, but you do need a light moisturizer. There are so many oil-free products out. You know? But sometimes I put oil on myself to neutralize the oil.
Ildi: Yeah, and it does work.
Brooke: You rebel.
Brooke: “What is the best treatment for a bride to be? I’m getting married in May,” she says, and “have some time.”
Ildi: She probably needs a little deep cleansing, LED, and a lot of peels — just to give that instant glow to the skin. Before the wedding, I would just do a little micro-current to firm everything up so that you’re nice and tight and you look great in pictures. But give yourself — even if you just do it right before your wedding –- at least two weeks.
Brooke: So don’t do anything to the skin at least two weeks prior to the wedding? I think that’s just a good rule of thumb.
Ildi: Exactly, it gives you a little bit of a break, and if anything happens, two weeks will clear your skin.
Brooke: What is the best treatment for firming facial skin?
Ildi: Tapping…your jade roller could kind of help a little bit…but I’m a big believer in micro needling.
Brooke: Ooooh, okay!
Ildi: So a micro needler is a tiny roller — it has tiny, tiny needles, and what you do is [demonstrates motion], you roll it on your skin in one direction, you use a serum, and when you use the serum, you want to make sure that it’s an organic one. Just remember that, because you do penetrate [the skin] a little bit deeper. This is a nighttime treatment, and it’s very easy to do it at home.
Brooke: [Ildi shows instrument to me] This is a microneedler?
Ildi: Touch this.
Brooke: I’m scared to touch this.
Ildi: No, no, no.
Brooke: Ahhhh! [Touches needles, laughs]. Its like…woooow.
Ildi: Mmm-hmmm. So give me your hand.
Brooke: [Gives hand] It’s going to take my spray tan off, Ildi.
Ildi: No. I know your spray tan. You love that. No. Here’s what you do: you put the serum, you roll, [demonstrates], you just go lightly [onto the skin] and then you move the opposite way with it.
Brooke: This is…this is, the best thing I’ve ever felt. Sorry, Celestino.
Ildi: You see? It’s not painful at all.
Brooke: This is the best thing I’ve ever felt.
Ildi: And you should feel a little stimulation, you should feel a little tingling.
Brooke: See?! We’re learning new things every day by doing these interviews.
After walking in an Olay runway show sans makeup, the entirety of my body covered beneath a “SkinVisible” dress, I’m still riding an unexpected high that purportedly stems from healthy skin and the unifying energy of an eclectic, inclusive group of mighty women.
On the heels of New York Fashion Week – which is an experience replete with impenetrable cool girl cliques — my interaction with the women at Olay restored a feeling of unshakable optimism in me that I didn’t realize lain dormant.
Using three of the brand’s best-selling products, the Regenerist Whip Moisturizer, Ultimate Eye Cream and Daily Hydrating Facials, for twenty-eight consecutive days, I prepared to showcase my results alongside of eighteen other women, including, to name a few, a two-time Olympic medalist, a self-made YouTube millionaire and an NFL sports anchor.
Stripped of all makeup, hair pulled away from my face, I could’ve easily felt bare, unprotected, insecure. Although I was impressed with the results of the products, and — as such — I felt comfortable exposing my naked mug to a live audience that included reps from various media outlets, I’d never met any of the other women before. With two full days of rehearsals scheduled, and everyone other than the participants prohibited from entering the space (Olay took the initiative to protect our privacy while we changed into and out of the dresses), I didn’t know if I’d feel confident engaging with so many unfamiliar faces. Cue the feelings of gross inadequacy; cue the social anxiety.
Over the years, I’ve armed myself with a repertoire of tools that have empowered me to present my most confident self to the world and to become something of an extrovert. Without hair, makeup, or an outfit, though, and in a room full of women who were collectively so much more accomplished than me, I easily could’ve walked away from the experience feeling that old familiar pang of intensive self-loathing.
Instead, I found myself interacting with women who were deeply humble — nurturing but strong, powerful but kind; what’s more, we were all genuinely interested in getting to know one another. When I arrived for an eight-hour rehearsal on the second day, I immediately recognized the space as being a safe one.
The show itself was a tremendous success; afterwards, we ran backstage, bear hugging and celebrating one another. I’ve never felt an energy like that before. It was born from authenticity, openness and acceptance.
While I’ll always remain loyal to my trifecta of Olay products, and I’ll never forget the experience of walking in a runway show on the last day of Fashion Week, my greatest takeaway was the affirmation that woman are boundless in their power, that when we’re gentle with each other — we’re beautifully mighty.