Beauty - "The Lovely" - Spas and Salons

My facial NUR Skincare Clinic in Chicago

December 29, 2018

I’m getting more in tune with what works with my skin and what doesn’t, adopting a very Glossier “Skin First, Makeup Second” attitude as I get older. So I was naturally intrigued by NŪR Skincare‘s philosophy, a very holistic approach which combines the latest technology and natural methods to increase cellular turnover. Translation: they developed a system so your skin gets better and better and STAYS that way.

In the treatment room [@nurskincare]

In the treatment room [@nurskincare]

I came in for their 12-Step Hi-Tech facial with founder Anisa Noor (who greeted me sans makeup and gorgeous skin herself). The minute you step into the clinic, you enter a beautiful oasis designed with elements of Sufi art and calming floral and wood accents (a design dreamed up by her talented architect husband, Suhail). I learned that this is their second location. The first place they set up shop was LA, where regular clients of her’s include Michelle Phan.

Entrance to the skin clinic

Entrance to the skin clinic

The first step was filling out a questionnaire, and then removing any makeup for the Visia Skin Analysis, which is normally a $150 service but is added free to any skincare package they do. It essentially helps you determine the state of your skin on the surface and beyond in terms hyperpigmentation, inflammation, wrinkles, etc., and ends with giving you your  real “skin age.”



The good news: it analyzed my skin to be a skin age that was a good 5 years younger than I actually was. But for those of you who think my skin is perfect, thank you, but not the case (unfortunately!). Here are my results (not my cutest moment):

What does it mean? This shows my skin condition in comparison to others in a similar age bracket. So for example, 82% “wrinkles” mean only 18% of others in a similar age bracket are doing better than me in that category (so that’s not a bad number!), but my spots, pores, and UV damage situation was no bueno. This helped Anisa determine what my problem areas were and over time, we can see if my skin condition improves.

Doors leading to the treatment room

Doors leading to the treatment room

The actual facial was customized to these results, which included a light exfoliating peel, extractions (my least favorite part always, enzymatic infusion, serum infusion, a vitamin infusion, oxygen treatment, and ended with LED light therapy which I may or may not have fell asleep during. My skin was positively glowing after, and I was given aftercare instructions which included avoiding makeup for the next couple of days (and a week if I could swing it).

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My skin didn’t start peeling until day 2 after the facial. It was light peeling that made my skin look dry but nothing crazy noticeable to others. It progressed into day 3 and 4. I managed not to wear even a lick of makeup for 3 days until I had a video shoot on day 4, which my skin was glowing for. It looked like I was wearing highlighter all over, and since the facial I stopped wearing makeup daily altogether, saving it for events.

The expertise and individual care at Nur Skincare was extraordinary. I would absolutely recommend it to anyone local looking for a good skin investment and professional advice. In fact, I loved it so much, I want one of you to experience yourself!


The good folks at Nur Skincare partnered up with me to give away the same 12-Step Hi-Tech Facial (valued at $225) for one of my followers! This contest will run on Instagram, and all you have to do is be following me (@beautyndfeast) and @nurskincare and comment on my latest post tagging a friend.

This is for both LA AND Chicago locations, so please comment if you or someone you want to experience this live in either of these areas. Contest runs for a week until January 6th, and I’ll announce the winner on the 7th :). Good luck!


Acne - Beauty - "The Lovely" - Face

This peel has made the biggest difference in my skin…

December 4, 2018

I was introduced to Drunk Elephant when viewers at TINTED kept asking me to review the line, known for its non-toxic ingredients and clean packaging. I was taken aback at how well my skin was reacting to my new regimen, which included cleansing with their Beste No. 9 Jelly Cleanser, C-Firma Day Serum, T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum, followed by their Marula Oil. My skin was glistening by the end of two weeks. Considering the price points though (the least expensive of the ones mentioned here is $34), it’s not the most inexpensive line. Worth the investment? If you have the means, absolutely. But if you had to choose one luxury item from their collection, I have to tell you about their T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial.

DE Sukari Babyfacial

DE Sukari Babyfacial

THIS has, IMO, made the biggest difference in my skin. My skin type is normal/combination with occasional breakouts (usually hormonal), and is vulnerable to scarring afterward. **IF YOU HAVE sensitive skin, please do a patch test. The formula is said to be compatible with every skin type but you’ll see why I say this in a second.

For starters, this is a chemical peel, so think of it as an at-home facial that contains several acids like glycolic, tartaric, lactic, citric, and salicylic to gently resurface. The result? It removes dead skin cells and effectively exfoliates. They also combined antioxidants like matcha tea and plant oils to help restore moisture so you’re not raw. Essentially, it helps smoothe the skin, which is what I found it did for me.


*The suggested use is once a week — I use this at minimum once a month, at most, twice a month to help brighten and smooth my skin.

Just take a couple pumps, enough to apply a light layer to clean, dry skin. Leave on for 20 minutes (DO not overdo this part because it could start burning). Also note, this part is not the most comfortable — slight stinging is normal. Finally, rinse with warm water and apply a moisturizer of your choice immediately after.


My skin is usually a little pink after washing this off. Your skin is resurfacing, so this is normal. I also try to do this before bed, so I’m able to apply a balmy moisturizer that really locks in moisture (one of my favorites is Farmacy Sleep Tight), or I’ll use their Marula oil because it’s pretty heavy as well. I always notice my skin is brighter, and my scars are less noticeable after using this which is why it’s one of my favorite peels.

Link: T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial, $80

At $80, it aint cheap (it’s a 1.69 fl oz bottle). But it should last you months because you’re not using it daily. I’ve had mine for at least 4 months at this point and it’s still going.

Have any of you used anything else from the Drunk Elephant line that you love? Tell me about it below!


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Beauty - "The Lovely" - Hair

This Product Has Been Making My Hair Super Shiny

December 1, 2018

Let’s start this by saying, I’m way overdue for a haircut. I haven’t had as much as a trim in seven months, and I have all the split ends and snags in the world to attest to that. But even so, people have been complimenting my hair, asking me if I cut my hair because something looks different. The only thing I could think of is the product I have been testing (rather skeptically at first), and that’s hair primer.

I need a trim so bad.

I need a trim so bad.

More specifically, the Aquis Water Defense Pre Wash. I was intrigued when I read what it does (this is not sponsored at all by the way, but was sent to me by the brand to test). Face primers to help your makeup last I can understand, but a hair primer? Essentially a primer for your hair is to protect it, repelling water that can potentially dull it. This one from Aquis says it helps protect hair against damage from washing, drying, and styling to leave it less frizzy and stronger. With ingredients like coconut oil and keratin amino acids, I already knew it had the makings of a good repairing product (also note, it’s not made with any sulfates or parabens).

Aquis Water Defense Pre Wash

Aquis Water Defense Pre Wash

I’m usually not a fan of adding another step to my routine, but this was an easy one to integrate. I just had to spray it on dry hair prior to showering (leaving it on for 2 minutes minimum). I always leave it in a little bit longer — somehow I always find errands to do before I actually jump in the shower. But the fact that it wasn’t much of a time commitment to begin with made me more keen to use it. Plus, it has a nice, coconut-y scent. Then, just shampoo out.

Take note: the first few times I used it, I couldn’t REALLY tell if it made a difference. I felt like my hair looked better, but I couldn’t pinpoint what it was actually doing. I think only because it was so easy to use, I continued doing so. Then a few weeks in, I started noticing my hair was much shinier, and almost like it was adding weight to my hair by way of repairing it. I noticed less hair falling out in the shower (as the bottle states “wet hair is weak hair”). And as I mentioned, others started noticing too.

Which is all great, but when it comes down to it, do you NEED this product? It’s $29 for a generous 12 fl oz. What I would say is IF you do heat style or color your hair, or if you feel like your hair is dull, I think you’ll find this will help your hair look and feel healthier. While I noticed less hair falling, I don’t think it’s exactly recommended for hair loss or hair thinning, so don’t expect anything crazy if you’re looking for volume. And if you DO end up getting it, give it a couple weeks to see if you notice a difference like I did. If you have severe damage, I’d even leave it on overnight. It’s not oily but your hair will be wet so make sure you wrap your hair or protect your pillowcases before sleeping.

What other products do you want to hear about for hair? Let me know if any of you try it and what you think!


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FOOD - "The Delicious" - Healthy - Homemade - Vegan - Vegetarian

Why my family drinks celery juice everyday

November 29, 2018

I know what you’re thinking — celery?!

Truth be told, it’s doesn’t rank high on my list of my favorite vegetables or flavors. But the benefits of having a glass every morning may make you reconsider it (the way I have). Recently, my older brother and his wife introduced us to the world of celery juice. The research is astounding on how powerful of an anti-inflammatory it is. Essentially what is does is starves the unproductive bacteria and other bad things in your body (yeast, mold, fungus, and viruses) and flushes their toxins out of the intestinal tract and liver. Plus, it helps good bacteria thrive.

And it’s SO easy to make. Just use a juicer to juice 1-2 heads of celery and drink up! If you only have a blender like a Vitamix, you can also blend it in there and just strain it.

Some other benefits, all via the Medical Medium (which is also by the way a great IG account to follow):

* Consuming celery is the most powerful way to alkalize the gut…It also helps to raise your body’s pH and rid toxic acids from every crevice of your body, including your gut. This helps to cleanse and repair intestinal linings.

* It raises hydrochloric acid in the stomach so that food digests with ease. This helps prevent a range of gastrointestinal disorders. Adding celery juice to your diet is the best way to resolve ammonia permeability, an unrecognized condition in which ammonia gas seeps through the intestinal lining and causes health issues such as dental rot and brain fog.


* For the full effect, drink a full 16 ounces of fresh celery juice daily—and make sure it’s on an empty stomach to raise hydrochloric acid levels most efficiently. For dramatic results, drink two 16-ounce glasses of fresh celery juice a day. 

* Use organic celery whenever possible. If using conventional celery, be sure to wash it especially well before juicing.

* If you find the taste of straight celery too strong, you can juice one cucumber and/or one apple with the celery.

Anyone else convinced to try?


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The Importance of Routine

November 28, 2018

So, I’m noticing that my self-reflecting moments are usually at its pinnacle during the winter. Take my I’M BACK POST 1 and POST 2 as references. Here’s another one (a year later):

As I’ve been weaving in and out of different cities (to visit and at times, to live in), I’ve realized no one actually knows where I am right now. And I think that’s partly because I’m having trouble figuring out where I want to be. Most of you have joined me when I started this blog in 2009, where I was budding as an editor at Marie Claire. Ten years later, I decided to move to another country. Shortly after, I came back to the States, only this time trading the east coast for the west to make a little home in LA.

After 12 years of being all over the place, I was longing for my center again and came back to my roots in the Midwest. For the last few months, I’ve splitting my time between Chicago and NYC when I need to be there for work (let’s be honest, you can never quite leave New York after so long). The thing is, I’m at an interesting crossroads in my life where I’m looking back at a 12-year career, and keep thinking of when I was most happy.

Photo credit: @warriorandthegypsy

Photo credit: @warriorandthegypsy

There were many moments, I’m super proud of. Of the most recent, helping launch TINTED with Deepica. Our little team was tiny but committed to increasing representation within the beauty space. Deeps’ vision has made waves, and I’m lucky to have been asked by her to be part of its conception.

But truly what made me most happy was launching Beauty and the Feast — this lil ol’ blog. For a while, I was thinking why I still have not changed my Instagram name from @beautyndfeast to something like my byline. The truth is, I always felt like this blog was my baby and no matter how late it was at night, I felt excited to come home and just write. BATF started as a routine of writing for me, and I miss that.

I know better than to make any grand promises this time. I would like to pick up where I left off. I’m not sure if YouTube is yet my thing. All I’m saying is I’m looking for where I want to be, and I think that starts by taking the time out to do more of what I love every day.


Beauty - "The Lovely" - Face - Product Review

3 of My Favorite Face Cleansers

December 21, 2017

I’ve been thinking a lot about what products to start our banter with and TBH, skincare has been my latest obsession. Gone are the days I can be frivolous about which products I use, and trust me, my skin went through hell and back when I moved to LA. I feel like I’ve learned a lot about what works for me, and I’ve been in good hands by getting occasional treatments by Dr. Nadia (her PRP facials have changed my skin — more on that later!). The hardest part about skin-related topics are the obvious disclaimer: everyone’s skin is different. My skin is pretty combination, that veers dry in the winter (even in LA!). Since there are so many I’m loving lately though, I figured I’d start with cleansers.

BATF-cleansers copy

First, one thing I’ve learned as I’ve gotten older is my skin can use all the moisture it can get, so I try not to go crazy and overdo the cleansing (hence, stripping my skin of the oils it needs). I’ll usually skip a morning cleanse and use a micellar water if anything (more on that in a sec). But generally, this is what I find has been working best for me:

LATEST OBSESSION: Glamglow Supercleanse Clearing Skin-to-Foam Cleanse, $27

This is a little pricey as far as cleansers go, but there’s few that I’ve come across feel as good as this one does. It keeps my skin in check, and gets all the dirt out with the power of three different charcoals. A little goes a long way to remove all my makeup at the end of the day. It also has licorice and AHAs to help keep skin bright and encourage cellular renewal. I’ve even had friends stay over and use it, and notice the brilliance of this from the first go.

EXFOLIATING CLEANSER: Soap & Glory Vitamin C Face Wash, $11

If you feel your skin can use a little more of a deep clean, and you’re not looking to spend $30 on a face wash, I’ve been using and really liking Soap & Glory’s Vitamin C Wash. First of all, the bottle is massive — for 11.8 oz, it might as well be your body wash. In fact, I keep it in the shower so I can use it on my face and my upper back too after a workout. It has tiny exfoliating beads that helps get a deeper clean in, and it has mint and chamomile so your skin actually feels refreshed after using it. Vitamin c is also one of my favorite skin brighteners — which is also notoriously hard to stabilize, so I can’t speak to how effective it can be in this gel form, but it does make my skin feel clean without feeling tight or dry after.

GENTLE/EVERYDAY CLEANSER: CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser, $9
cerave cleanser

I haven’t used this one in a minute because I’ve been so happy with the two I’ve already mentioned, BUT I’m always asked about gentle, drugstore cleansers, and CeraVe has always been my favorite no-frills cleanser. My favorite thing about this one is it has ceramides, which helps protect the skin. If your skin is breakout-prone, you may also want to consider their SA cleanser that has ceramides AND salicylic acid.

TONERS: It Cosmetics Miracle Water, $38

I don’t use this every day, but on days I need a little extra, I’ll go over my face after cleansing with micellar water. Micellar water helps to cleanse the skin and leaves good-for-you ingredients (like peptides and skin softeners) behind so your skin benefits as well. This one from It Cosmetics is gentle and helps get every last bit of grime out before I go to sleep. It’s, again, a little on the high end as far as toners go, so if you’re looking for a good drugstore alternative, I also really like Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water ($7). I keep their makeup wipes next to my bed on the days I’m feeling extra lazy and just want to do a quick clean. Otherwise, I use toners sparingly, and mostly if I have a lot of makeup on that day.

I’ll have more AM and PM routines to come, and what products have been working for me to come! What have you been using that you love? Leave me a comment below!