Spa Treatments Help Us Feel Loved, Connected, Blissful

To experience a spa treatment is a gift. The faint aroma of beautiful essences, herbal teas, soft music, skilled therapists and the sound of bubbling water. Spa is a place to rejuvenate and recharge, a place to nourish the skin and soul. But the benefits of spa treatments go beyond just nourishment and muscle relief. Spa treatments help to release an important hormone called oxytocin which helps us to feel loved, connected and blissful.

Oxytocin is a hormone consisting of nine amino acids, made in the hypothalamus portion of the brain. These amino acids are then transported to and secreted by the pituitary gland located at the base of the brain. Oxytocin acts as a hormone and as a brain neurotransmitter—it is really important to our overall happiness and sense of wellbeing.

During my time in Sweden this summer, Kerstin and I had the opportunity to meet Kerstin Uvnas Moberg, M.D., Ph.D., a world-renowned authority on oxytocin. Her research takes place at the famed Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, and at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences in Uppsala, where she is a professor of Physiology. She is the author of more than 400 scientific papers and books—including The Oxytocin Factor, which I am just finishing.

Dr. Moberg is a firm believer that oxytocin—released during a spa experience—is responsible for a series of benefits that go beyond relaxation, increased circulation and detoxification. So, next time you receive a spa treatment or massage, consider these added benefits:

  1. Increased self esteem
  2. Faster healing (anti-inflammatory properties help to heal wounds)
  3. Pain relief
  4. Antidepressant—you will feel blissful
  5. Improved digestion
  6. Reduced anxiety
  7. Reduced stress responses
  8. Feelings of extraversion
  9. Increased ability to trust
  10. Greater psychological stability
  11. Beneficial metabolic effects

This amazing research proves again how important it is to include regular spa treatments in your lifestyle regimen.

Love,
Charlene

Posted in Charlene Florian's Blog

Summer Hair Tips

Hair and its care have been a topic of discussion since the beginning of time from Great Grandmother’s mantra to brush hair 100 strokes each night before bed (which actually causes split ends) to the modern-day philosophy of washing hair daily (which removes hair’s natural oil and proteins).

So how, in this era of hair extensions, highlights, low lights and pink tips do we achieve and maintain shiny, healthy, gorgeous hair? Several factors from eating well and reducing stress to changing up hairstyles and choosing gentle hair products come into play.

Eat Well

For healthy growth and shine, our hair needs nourishment. For hair-growth, look to foods rich in zinc and protein. For shine and overall healthy hair, consume foods high in biotin (vitamin B such as lentils and walnuts) and high content of omega-3 fatty acids (wild-caught salmon). One of my favorite Chinese herbal tonics for hair is He Shou Wu, possibly one of the most widely used tonics in Asia to maintain the youthful condition and color of hair, and one of the greatest energy tonics known to man. It is the prepared tuberous root of Plygonum Multiflorum. I drink it in a tea from Dragon Herbs (www.dragonherbs.com) and put it into smoothies. Warmed with honey and salt, the tea is delicious and very nourishing.

Condition Ends

We recently introduced our Intensive Hair Repair which deeply moisturizes, smoothes and protects the hair from thermal damage with ingredients like Keratin Amino Acids (nourishing), Panthenol (adds thickness and body), Aloe Leaf, Meadowfoam Seed Oil (moisture, shine), and Rosemary. It’s a staple in our family and works for both thin and thick hair. Use it all over or just on the ends, 3-5 times per week. To fortify the conditioner, add a drop of essential oil. I recommend our Lavender Bath & Body Oil, which is healing and smells great for summer. It is perfect to apply to clean, wet hair before heading out to the pool or beach. The warmth of the sun will help deeply condition as the product protects your strands.

Change Up Ponytails

Wearing a high ponytail or braids too frequently can cause hair to break and fall out. These styles as well as popular hair extensions pull on the hair, causing tension that leads to breakage. When possible, let your hair down, falling loosely around your face.

Chemical Processing

This is one of my indulgences – I admit. While it’s tempting to highlight, lowlight and change up hair color completely, it is of course better not to chemically process hair and rejoice in our natural-born beauty…to an extent. Beauty lies in balance.

Manage Stress

Although gray hair is linked also to genetics and illness, there is growing evidence that stress hormones contribute to graying hair. Be aware of your stress levels, take time out to breathe, walk, ground your feet to the earth, be still in nature, meditate or practice yoga. Supported Headstand (Salamba Sirsasana) helps to stimulate circulation in the head. Start slowly with proper instruction. Head massage is also an indulgence that has great benefits to maintaining healthy hair and a healthy scalp. Most spas offer some kind of head massage if you ask for it.

Cool Dry

When possible, avoid blow-drying hair altogether and allow hair to air dry. When using a blow-dryer, use cool, or at most, a warm settings and hold the appliance a minimum of six inches from your hair.

Trim Frequently

Avoid split ends with regular trims. Even with long hair, trims are needed every six to eight weeks.

Avoid Washing Daily

It really is better for our hair to avoid washing it daily. During summer, hair is exposed to many harsh elements. Cover hair with a hat or scarf to protect from environmental damage.

Use Gentle Shampoo

Select a gentle shampoo and conditioner free of sulfates and color. Our Reviving Shampoo is enriched with essential nutrients and vitamins to strengthen and rejuvenate the hair, especially for thin hair with ingredients like hydrolyzed whole wheat protein, calendula, aloe, golden seal and jojoba seed oil. Our Reviving Conditioner is a light, daily conditioner that restores moisture and adds immediate tensile strength.

Water Filter

Water quality can vary from country to country and has a big impact on our hair and skin. Chlorine and chlorine by-products negatively impact hair health. A simple shower filter can make a big difference.

Happy Summer.

Love,
Charlene

Posted in Charlene Florian's Blog

Celebrate Earth Day

Earth Day, held April 22, is a day of gratitude to our planet for sustaining, nurturing and supporting life. It’s a day to live more sustainably, improve our health and celebrate Earth’s gifts.

U.S. Earth Day was founded in 1970 by Gaylord Nelson, a Wisconsin senator inspired by the energy, spirit and consciousness of youth to preserve water and air for future generations. Although 20 million people participated in the first Earth Day, it wasn’t until 1990 that the ‘holiday’ went global. Today, Earth Day experiences a wider participation, with a growing awareness.

Earth Day is a beautiful day for a nature walk, environmental education opportunities, conservation talks, clean-up events and festivals. In my family, we use Earth Day as an opportunity to contemplate, express gratitude and contribute to the collective effort. At Kerstin Florian, we use the day to step back, acknowledge the efforts we’re making — understanding that radical change doesn’t happen overnight. And continue to take small steps with every decision we make — from selection of our ingredients (using more organic ingredients) to packaging (using recyclable containers and recyclable paper for our outer cartons that come from certified sustainable forests), carbon neutral printing (reducing the use of printed materials and partnering with suppliers who are mindful of green and sustainable practices).

And as we make daily mindful steps, we are excited to announce a 2014 Earth Day award, received today from Healing Lifestyles & Spas for our Ginger Bath & Body Oil — awarded “Best Muscle Relaxing Body Oil.” Excited to celebrate with you and share together in the magic of Earth Day, we are offering a one-day 20% site wide discount on all Kerstin Florian products (promo code KF20). Enjoy this day of celebration and reflection.

Love,
Charlene

Posted in Charlene Florian's Blog

Wellness On The Road

At Kerstin Florian, we always say that spa is not a treatment—but a lifestyle. A wellness lifestyle that involves around-the-clock attention to taking care of our physical bodies, emotional and spiritual health. Much of our focus is on simple daily regimens—eating healthy foods, moving, breathing and stretching our bodies, and appropriately treating our skin. But what happens—and how do we maintain our wellness lifestyle when traveling?

I am on the road a lot—catching planes, overnighting in hotels and dining out from Europe, Asia, and the Middle East to India.

Sometimes, my travels take me to a specific city, where (like many reading this), I spend days in back-to-back meetings. Other times, my travels bring me to exotic places of wellness—living spa/wellness laboratories where I study new health programs, have a much-needed massage or body treatment, and eat delicious healthy cuisine.

In both settings however, a personal wellness strategy is needed to combat the inevitable stresses of traveling: dehydrating plane air, disruption to eating and exercise routines, and sleeping in an unfamiliar bed—to name a few.

Over the years, I’ve found a number of ways to maintain my personal wellness lifestyle when on the road—be it inflight, on the ground, or dining out. Following are a few:

Inflight: I have a pre-flight habit of stopping by my favorite health food store and stocking up on healthy snacks for the plane (Persian cucumbers, apples, carrots, raw crackers, avocado, kale chips, raw nuts and dark chocolate). I’m not a fan of airplane meals and always eat light in the air no matter what class of service I fly. It’s not uncommon to see me on a layover cutting into an avocado and eating it on raw crackers. Having snacks with me also gives me refreshment between meetings or a back up if I can’t find a healthy meal. Traveling can also be an excuse to forget to take essential daily supplements (probiotics, digestive enzymes, Omega 3s, tonic herbs, chlorella, Vitamins B, C, D3, colloidal silver, etc.). Investing in a smart supplement case helps to keep our program on track. During the flight, I listen to Audible books (audible.com), one of the greatest tips I learned in the past year. It allows me to listen to several books (a lot of educational material) in a short period of time.

My skincare regimen stays fairly consistent, but I change it slightly depending on two things 1) the location I’m traveling to and 2) the weather/environment at destination. On the day I depart, I apply Ginger Bath & Body Oil after showering. This naturally moisturizing formula helps keep my skin hydrated while flying. It’s naturally antiseptic, smells fresh and helps protect me from catching colds. Fuß Balm is also an amazing product and great to apply pre-flight on legs and feet. It helps lessen leg aches from long haul flights. Flying can tax the immune system. During the flight, I walk (as much as possible) and stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and spritzing Rehydrating Neroli Water on my face. It smells great, and because it comes from pure Neroli blossoms, it dissipates quickly so it doesn’t disturb my neighbors. Kerstin Florian offers a great travel program—several of our best-selling products (cleansers, moisturizers, shampoo, conditioner, lotions and sunscreen) are available at spas in small bottles and tubes, perfect for a short getaway. And I always bring a disposable loofah with me as well. Nothing beats stimulating skin circulation in the shower to shake feelings of jet lag.

In The Hotel: Once settled in my hotel and even before unpacking, I jump in the shower or bath. I always carry our Mineral Wellness Soak with me. The combination of water and sea salts immediately decreases jet lag. I also like to get grounded in my environment and literally put my bare feet on the ground if weather permits! If arriving at night, I scope out the location of the gym for the next day’s early morning workout.

For meals, I explore local fare and keep it light, with fresh fruit, vegetables and pure water when possible. Enjoying local flavors and culture is a pleasure when traveling.

The most important thing is to go with the flow, even if travel schedules change or don’t go exactly as planned. Having a great attitude and smile is always a healthy way to handle the unexpected.

Wishing you healthy traveling in the air and on the ground.

Love,
Charlene

Posted in Charlene Florian's Blog

Ventana Lifestyle Retreat

In between the California Coast and its rugged wilderness lies a resort known for weaving its spiritual magic. Tucked away and spread across 240 acres of rolling meadows and wooded hillsides, Ventana Inn and Spa blends rustic sophistication and elegant simplicity with nature. It perfectly embodies the peaceful essence of Big Sur – making it the perfect location for our first Kerstin Florian Wellness Retreat March 14-16th.

For quite some time now, I’ve felt inspired to share all I’ve been learning about nutrition, skin health, longevity and spa lifestyle. And a wellness retreat is the perfect venue. Retreats offer an amazing opportunity to take time out, evaluate, connect with others, spend time in nature and take home a few inspirational tips. We will have a host of health experts there who will share their expertise in a tranquil setting where you can choose to participate as you wish. It’s like a short destination spa experience. One of the most life-changing weeks, in terms of my own health, was a retreat a couple of years ago in Peru. It was more than the vegan food, ancient sites and health lectures – it was the people I met. I had been to several resort and destination spas, but this was special. We were from all walks of life. I went not knowing anyone, and now have several friends that I will always stay in touch with. In one week, we grew together and I discovered I was ready to take on more personal wellness upgrades.

I so hope you join me this March.

We’ll stay three days/two nights in a fireplace guest room (with Kerstin Florian amenities), eat gourmet healthy meals, enjoy a Kerstin Florian spa treatment (facial, body treatment or massage), enjoy daily yoga, breathing and talks on longevity. We’ll learn about the benefits of living cuisine, super herbs and juicing. And we’ll spend time soaking in the energy of the old tree forests and the great Pacific Ocean. This resort is built with a great reverence to the nature that surrounds it. Recently voted the number one spa in the world on the 100 Most Amazing Spas in the World by Escape Normal.

To register www.kerstinflorian.com/retreats. For questions, contact Julie Andrews at .

Love,
Charlene

Posted in Charlene Florian's Blog

In Gratitude this Holiday Season—Yoga is a Gift Worth Giving

My love affair with yoga began years ago, in my 20’s, and like any young love affair that stays the course, it has changed, expanded and matured. Today, it is difficult to recall a time in my life when I didn’t practice yoga—or when my practice was solely ‘on the mat.’ But like many beginners, my attraction to yoga at that time was physical, a way to tone my body, reduce stress and lower risk factors for disease.

It was only after years of practice and continually ‘showing up’ on the mat, that I began, organically, to experience the ‘other’ amazing aspects of yoga, and make the ‘off-the-mat’ connection that’s hopefully helped shape me into a more tolerant, patient, appreciative person.

For me there’s no greater reminder of the immense benefits of yoga—physically, emotionally and spiritually—than the holiday season. Always, whether in a class or on my own, the grounding, centering and breathing that is yoga, brings me back to gratitude. And as we gather around the holidays with close family and friends, that warm feeling of oneness is similar to that which I experience in my yoga practice.

Yoga is a gift for physical and mental health. Studies have confirmed this but it wasn’t until recently that we completely understood why. New research from the University of Oslo has determined that yoga can have an almost immediate impact on gene expression, particularly in immune cells. From previous research we know that yoga is linked to not only lower stress levels, but also bone health, reduced back pain, relief from depression, and lower risk factors for heart disease, among other health benefits. The small Norwegian study published this year found genetic evidence of yoga’s impact on the immune system. In the study, researchers examined 10 participants who underwent a weeklong yoga retreat where they did meditation, yogic postures and yogic breathing exercises. Examining the participants’ blood before and after four one-hour yoga sessions showed that the yoga practice changed the expression of 111 genes in circulating immune cells. In contrast, music and walking-based relaxation changed the expression of 38 genes.

“There are rapid (within two hours of start of practice) and significant gene expression changes…during a comprehensive yoga program,” the research team writes in the study. “These data suggest that previously reported effects of yoga practices have an integral physiological component at the molecular level which is initiated immediately during practice and may form the basis for the long-term stable effects.”

The results suggest that yoga may be as effective, or even more so, than traditional exercise in inducing health benefits through changes on the gene expression.

So, as the holiday-shopping frenzy — and confusion on what to give your loved ones — intensifies, consider the gift of yoga to others and to yourself, and watch the amazing and promising changes. As part of my own yoga practice, I include Calm Mind, an essence blend of Peppermint, Lavender, Cajeput and Marjoram that helps soothe the mind and is the perfect start or end to your practice. After a physical class, I also do a Mineral Wellness Soak, featuring solar-dried and hand-harvested 98.7% pure salts, rich in 60 essential minerals and trace elements, to ease any muscle or joint tension, and follow it with organic Ginger Bath & Body Oil (great for boosting the immune system and protecting against colds). Enjoy this beautiful wellness and gratitude ritual this season.

Love,
Charlene

Posted in Charlene Florian's Blog

A Picture Paints a Thousand Words: Follow Us on Instagram

At the risk of dating myself, I remember life (and work) without LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Skype, Pinterest, Instagram, iPhones, and gulp—email.

The reality is that this last decade represents the unprecedented arrival of digital and connective technology. We came aboard the social-media platform gingerly, via Facebook and quickly grew to appreciate the ability to connect and stay in touch with our followers, therapists and spa partners. We’ve now added Instagram which, for me, appeals most to my inner and creative spirit. I love that with a simple snap of a photo—followed by a quick crop or filter—we can record corporate activities, education and inspirational ideas.

It’s my personal love for the Instagram genre that’s inspired me to bring Kerstin Florian International on board. As of this month, kerstinflorianintl is officially live on Instagram. It’s my hope that all who read this blog and follow our Facebook and Twitter pages will share with us, too, on Instagram. The images we post reflect our four Core Lifestyle Practices:

Proper Nutrition
Smoothie Tips, Recipes, Healing Cuisine, Pure Water

Regular Exercise
Yoga, Spinning, Outdoor Fitness, Travel Adventures

Peace of Mind
Meditation, Inspirational Quotes, Nature

Care of the Face & Body
Treatments, Product Tips, Key Ingredients, Photos of our Spa Partner Properties

We invite you to follow us! And for additional information check out who we follow that inspire us.

Love,
Charlene

Posted in Charlene Florian's Blog

JUST BACK — from Turkey

Hakan Balcan, General Manager of Richmond Nua Wellness Spa in Istanbul, walks his talk. A previous Black Belt competitor in Turkey, he kept my heart rate up during our early morning walk, despite rain (of course, with impeccable hospitality and thoughtfulness, he came with raincoats for all). This sense of mindfulness infuses Richmond Nua, a destination spa set on the shore of Sapanca Lake in the middle of a national park, approximately one and a half hours from Istanbul. I traveled there recently for a press launch, introducing our partnership with Richmond Nua, Kerstin Florian’s first spa in Turkey. And my stay was both beautiful and memorable.

Richmond Nua is about wandering around in an airy kimono, forgetting about time as you enjoy the beautiful outdoor areas, dozens of various water therapies, rasul, hamam, ice room, salt room and outdoor cabanas. It’s about delicious healthy cuisine. I loved the enormous figs, local honeycomb and traditional Turkish dishes with eggplant and tomato. And it’s about extraordinary treatments. Expert therapists attend to guests with personalized treatment programs, massage, Kerstin Florian facials and extensive rituals.

Part of my mission on this trip was to experience true Turkish Hamam in Turkey. I have experienced Hamam several times but I must confess never in Turkey. The Hamam, or Turkish bath stands for far more than getting a leisurely bath or cleansing, it is a traditional Turkish ritual in which the elements are harnessed for the cleansing and purification of the body. My therapist, Kenan, did a wonderful job. Laying down on the heated marble platform in the center (gobektasi), bowl after bowl (hamam tasi) of warm water cascaded upon me, immediately imparting a primal sense of warmth and relaxation. Kenan exfoliated every inch of my body with a traditional Kese mitt. Then, my favorite — the ethereal cloud of suds. They use a traditional soap inside of a cloth similar to a pillowcase. When they open it, they catch air inside, and then wring it out the air to create an enormous amount of suds. I loved watching Kenan’s skill with the bubbles (when I wasn’t relaxing with my eyes shut). Hamam truly is an art form. The room is beautiful, made of marble. After the cleansing and warm rinse, the water gradually gets cooler. And unlike some guests who don’t care for the cool-to-cold portion of the therapy at the end, I was all for it. My skin felt amazing afterwards, vibrant, smooth, alive and ready for my indulgent relaxing massage with Kade who had angelic hands and just the right pressure.

I was touched by many things this trip, most of all the people and Turkish culture. I highly recommend a trip to Turkey to experience the amazing historical sights (Ephesus) and natural sites (Pamukkale, Cappadocia), mosques and Mediterranean resorts in the south (Bodrum), and not without a trip to Richmond Nua. Definitely consider a June visit. Belgin Aksoy, family owner of Richmond Nua, is a natural, smart and beautiful woman on a mission — to change the notion of a healthy lifestyle in Turkey, and globally. Every June, Richmond Nua hosts Wellness Day, a day of information and speakers on longevity and wellness. A big success last year, the tradition continues and is open to the public. I, for one, will be there.

Love,
Charlene

Posted in Charlene Florian's Blog

Introducing….Our New Kerstin Florian Corporate Retreats

Our new Corporate Events and Retreats program launched last week with an exciting private event in a beautiful house in the Hollywood Hills overlooking Los Angeles. Fifty guests mingled over gourmet salads, sustainable protein, cacao maca smoothies and skin cleansing green juice, all while enjoying skin consultations, Eye Rescue and hand treatments in our pop-up spa, and lectures from world-renowned speakers on nutrition and longevity.

Kerstin Florian has always been more than ‘spa treatments’. Our philosophy is centered on “Outer Beauty, Inner Health,” and the four core lifestyle practices for radiant skin and total wellness: nutrition, exercise, peace of mind, and care of face & body. So this marriage of our philosophy with private events makes perfect sense.

Our retreats are available to any group. The concept began with a request from a large corporate company, which wanted to create a wellness experience for its employees that was educational, inspiring and fun. We created that event and are working with our spa partners to host private parties and similar retreats for small businesses.

Each retreat encompasses our philosophy with passion and authenticity, inviting guests to fully experience a complete approach to well-being, while taking away knowledge that will help incorporate changes into everyday life that promote radiant health, longevity, increased mental focus and vitality. Topics include:

Proper Nutrition
Trends in longevity: super foods, Chinese Tonic herbs, juicing and smoothies for optimal health, understanding water, living foods lectures and demonstrations. Eating healthy for a lifetime.

Regular Exercise
Fitness for energy, longevity and health – yoga, hiking, resistance training.

Peace of Mind
Finding work/life balance, mindfulness and stress relief, meditation, sound healing and energy therapies.

Care of Face & Body
How to achieve and maintain healthy skin. The benefits of skincare and spa trends in skincare ingredients, technology, massage, salts, essential oils, natural resources and anti-aging trends.

Each event is custom-designed and structured to deliver an experience that will achieve the objectives set for the group. Retreats are crafted for a wide range of goals from team building to stress reduction, to a focus on fitness, yoga, nutrition or overall lifestyle habits to improve health and mental clarity. The length of the programs range from a one day wellness event to a two, three or four-day retreat.

For more information, contact Julie Andrews at

Love,
Charlene

Posted in Charlene Florian's Blog

Summer Living Cuisine for Beautiful Glowing Skin

At Kerstin Florian, we take pride in the quality ingredients we use in our products to achieve healthy skin. Equally important to maintaining healthy glowing skin is the food we eat to nourish our skin from the inside.

In recent years, I’ve become a huge fan of raw living cuisine – which preserves important enzymes and is never cooked over 118 degrees. There are all kinds of benefits to eating raw and living food. Living cuisine contributes to glowing skin that is less prone to hyperpigmentation, congestion, dullness and loss of elasticity. It also contributes to youthful abundant energy and a healthy body! Since my culinary course at the Matthew Kenney Institute in Santa Monica last December, I’ve been on the look out for creative, easy (and I stress easy), delicious raw-food recipes, and recently I found a book worth sharing: Matt Amsden’s “Rawvolution.”

The book appeals to everyone from vegetarians who want to take the next step in natural cuisine, to those who simply want to diversify and improve their daily diet. Included are recipes for appetizers, soups, entrees, delicious desserts and even healthy eating while traveling. What I love most is how simple and flavorful the recipes are, and most don’t require the use of a dehydrator. While I have personally invested in a dehydrator (the Sedona), I’ve found that using it requires advanced planning and patience I don’t’ always have – especially given my travel schedule.

Amsden has a restaurant in LA but I prefer Matthew Kenney’s MAKE in Santa Monica, or Café Gratitude in Venice or Hollywood. Amsden has also recently come out with “The Rawvolution Continues” which I will definitely get. One piece of equipment that comes in handy with living cuisine (and for the recipe below) is a spiralizer (you can get one on Amazon for about $50). This great kitchen tool makes raw noodles from zucchini, squash and other hard vegetables. Simply add organic tomato sauce or the pesto recipe below and you have a delicious summer meal or side dish for your summer BBQ.

Following is one of my favorites:

Spaghetti-Style Zucchini Noodles in a Creamy Pine Nut and Basil Pesto Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup Thai coconut water
  • 2 to 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 cup raw pine nuts
  • 1 cup fresh basil
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 6 to 8 zucchini, peeled and cut like spaghetti noodles with a spiralizer according to manufacturer’s instructions.

In a high-speed blender, combine all of the ingredients (except the zucchini noodles) and blend until they are smooth. Put the zucchini noodles in a bowl, pour the sauce over them, mix well and serve. Note: The texture of the zucchini noodles improves when they are left to sit in the open air at room temperature for 6 to 8 hours.

Love,
Charlene

Posted in Charlene Florian's Blog