Above: Founder Nicci Levy and VIP guests check out the services at Alchemy 43.
A dash of Botox. A sprinkle of Juvederm. A pinch of Restalyne. No, itâs not a recipe from a sorcererâs manual. Itâs a “beauty compoundâ that is only part of the magic at Alchemy 43 in Beverly Hills, a revolutionary new beauty lab that merges the concepts of luxury and medical sophistication. Members of the press got an up close and personal look at the future of non-invasive cosmetic medicine at their July 12 media event. Guests sipped blueberry cocktails and nibbled colourful macarons while experiencing the Alchemy 43 recipe for a lifetime of gorgeousness.
If you think med-spas are all about attitude, think again. The only attitude here is genuine joy: endless smiles and a warm welcome greet you upon entry. The sleek storefront space boasts a well-appointed waiting area with sunny atrium, chic treatment rooms, and a VIP loft for private events. But that is just the beginning. No, this is not a âsign your name at a busy front desk and waitâ med-spa. After enjoying a chilled beverage, you will have your photo taken for 3-D imaging. A licensed staff âalchemistâ will then discuss your needs and goals, using the enlarged image to show precisely how each treatment will look when finished. This allows you to view countless possibilities and combinations, and to quell the anxiety that often accompanies cosmetic procedures. These skilled practitioners have mastered the art of natural enhancement. No duck lips or frozen, expressionless faces here. The desired result is a subtly enhanced, rested visage.
Post-treatment, everyone receives a refreshing oxygen infusion for faster healing. Or you can choose from the menu of reasonably priced beauty boosters including serums, peels, and microcurrent therapy. The final stop is the make-up studio featuring Kevyn Aucoin products, where an artist will give you an expert touch-up before you head back to work, home, or a night out. No one will know where you were, only that you look amazing. It`s all included, and their introductory packages make it downright affordable. For even more benefits and savings, âwrinkle relaxingâ memberships are available to keep those fine lines far, far away.âJody Miller and Leyla Messian
With the event staged from 5 to 8.30 p.m., we could not think of a better way to spend happy hour, with beauty indulgences replacing food. However, as there were so many treatments in so little time, we each had our own differing sets of treatments. As there are usually drinks during happy hour, this event did not disappoint. Invitees were offered champagne or cold pressed juices by LA Juice to stay refreshed (though water consumption was also recommended.)
Jody: After already indulging in a couple of lovely mini-facials, I pondered whether I should sample another. OK, twist my arm! And lucky for me I did, because the Hydrafacial was my favourite. In a nutshell, it is a soothing hydra-dermabrasion procedure that combines deep cleansing, exfoliation, extraction (thatâs rightâit replaces painful extractions), hydration, and infusion of antioxidants. The result is skin that is clearer and more luminous without the discomfort or down time. It is an all-in-one facial wonder suitable for all skin types, and the cool mist topping it off is a perfect summer pick-me-up.
Top: Milano Cosmetics’ event for LA media. Above: Orly’s “mixologists” create custom colours at Olive & June in Beverly Hills. Below right: The author at the Milani event.
Earlier this year, Mattel released a new line of Barbie dolls with real-world bodies and skin tones. DĂŒsseldorf firm Doob-3D (with stores in New York, LA and San Francisco) does one better by allowing people to have themselves done as a doll or action figure. The proprietary technology takes the form of a room outfitted with 360 degrees worth of cameras. Your DoppelgĂ€nger may be a bit of an investment (mine would retail for US$295), but it does build on the âteachableâ moment Mattel started with its new Barbie line that all bodies are beautiful in their own way.
Of course as we all want to be our best selves, in doll or human form, Los Angeles-based Milani Cosmetics came to help local LA media get âdolled upâ for the opportunity, while promoting their newest products in the process.
Tina, my make-up artist endeavoured to take 10 years off me non-surgically with a ‘strobing and contour highlighting’ technique, using Milaniâs Conceal & Perfect, an oil-free foundation, using two shades and a brush to evenly distribute and mix the make-up. Next, she moved on to my eyes, using the Everyday Eyes Powder Shadow Collection eye set in the popular Nudes palette, and added extra oomph with Lash Trifecta Lengthens+Curls+Separates tube mascara with a versatile tip. As this mascara passed my stringent contact lens test, it may just end up becoming my go-to brand.
The finishing touch was a neutral shade of their new Liquid to Matte Amore Matte Lip CrĂšme smear resistant collection. The next day, Leyla Messian and I tried out the collection prior to going out for happy hour. Our verdict is that the colours are first-rate, but the smear resistance only goes as far as the cocktails. Oils from some foods may cause the colour to smear.
Milaniâs other new add-on are its line of nourishing Meta Matte Lusters, which are comparable to the lip oils Clarins rolled out last year (which Jody Miller and I tried out their Orange County event). Itâs a very appealing lip treat with a slight tint and a lower priceâand it’s vegan, too!
Orly, a Los Angeles nail products company sold in pharmacies and beauty supply stores, took its act to the beachy, upscale nail salon Olive & June in Beverly Hills. Press got some âhands-onâ TLC after a pair of colour âmixologistsâ created a custom-blended hue. I was looking for the perfect red, and got their version of it in a poppy shade I called ‘Fresh Watermelon’. Perhaps I was inspired by a party earlier in the week at Le Pain Quotidienâs West Hollywoodâs flagship restaurant. The chain rolled out its vegan and vegetarian summer menu with Juicero, and fresh watermelon juice coolers were served to wash down all that flavourful goodness.âElyse Glickman, US West Coast Editor
Above: Orly’s Olive & June event, with the son of founder Jeff Pink present. Below: Nibbles from Le Pain Quotidien.
* New York beauty sleuths will have their opportunity to survey a variety of emergent beauty brands and products on August 25 at the Waterfront in Manhattan. For more information, visit indiebeautyexpo.com/attend.
Above: The team behind A Billion Lives, and Doc Edge organizers Dan Shannon and Alex Lee.
Those of us outside the vaping world have probably looked at e-cigarettes, wondering why on earth these could be better for your health. Or we may have thought they were a fad, since the only people I knew who vaped were tech hipsters, who enjoyed vaping as though it was a matter of course, and nothing to be curious aboutâthereby keeping their habit a closed shop. But then, perhaps they were tired of repeating themselves, and had settled into being comfortable with their e-cigs. A Billion Lives is a documentary that takes a look into this world, but it does so much more. The title refers to the number of people who can be saved if they give up smoking, but there are powerful forces at play to ensure that people donât. And those forces have ensured that there is misinformation about vaping and the potential for the technology to save lives.
Filmmaker Aaron Biebert, who directed and narrated the film which had its world premiĂšre in Wellington as part of the Doc Edge Festival, journeyed to 13 countries on four continents to find similar patterns worldwide: here is a life-saving technology of e-cigarettes, but governments were banning them or fining citizens over their use, ignoring the science and deciding to be complicit with the tobacco industry in keeping people addicted to a harmful product. Instead, governments spend money spreading lies about e-cigarettes, calling them a gateway to cigarettes, or that one could get formaldehyde poisoning, claims that the film demonstrably refutes. E-cigarettes are not completely safe, and the film acknowledges that, but they have proven to be a successful tool to help those giving up smoking, especially where mainstream solutions have failed.
In his own country, the US, Biebert points out that governments collect far more revenue from cigarette taxation than from several industries combined, and have no real incentive to cut off the flow of dollars. E-cigarettes, which were invented by pharmacist Hon Lik in China, were conceived as a way to give up smoking, and have been successful for 30 million people around the world. A Billion Lives points out that nicotine is not what causes lung cancer, and that the US Surgeon-General has said as much. What are harmful are the tar and 4,000 chemicals in modern cigarettes. It equates nicotine with coffee in terms of addictiveness, and the figure of 95 per cent less harmful than a typical cigarette featured prominently in the film. Vaping essentially allows one to get the pleasure of nicotine without the harm of the tar and toxins.
Yet as a society, we have come to equate nicotine as being the evil, addictive substance, and thatâs no accident.
This point is made halfway into the film, with a good part of the first section looking into the history of cigarettes (Flintstones sponsor announcements for Winston cigarettes elicited laughs from the audience), and David Goerlitz, the Winston male model from the 1980s, being a particularly effective interviewee, discussing how he went from a smoking advocate earning millions to having a crisis of conscience when his brother developed lung cancer and died. Goerlitz went to the other side, and became a high-profile spokesman who was able to talk in plain language just what governments, Big Tobacco, and Big Pharma (which sells patches and gum, and would like to continue doing so) were doing. Health professionals were being marketed to far more than the public, permitting Big Pharma to continue to sell its products, the film notes.
Biebert was able to get other interviewees at a very high level, including Dr Derek Yach, the former executive director of the World Health Organization, and Dr Delon Human, former president of the World Medical Association, among others, speaking plainly about how lives could be saved through vaping e-cigarettes, a tool which could get smokers to kick their habit.
Meanwhile, the pro-smoking side was represented through historical clipsâyou get the feeling that we had only touched the surface of what was out there, with corporations spending thousands of millions to fund biased studies and get on to our airwaves.
Beautifully shot and scored, this independently funded feature tells a story about our times and just why so many citizens today are wary of their governments and multinational corporations. Those who oppose global trade agreements, for instance, do not do so in isolationâand while A Billion Lives takes no political side, it does tap into the Zeitgeist of our modern suspicion about what is on our airwaves and what are the motives behind it. Like Adam Curtis, whose documentaries seek to explain the complex in simple terms, Biebert has done the same, narrating and directing, although he appears on camera as well when narrative gaps need to be plugged. He is an honest, frank speaker, and gives the film a personal touch.
Young smokers who tried e-cigarettes were often people who already smoked and saw them as a way to give up their addiction, and most, Biebert pointed out in a post-screening Q&A, were not even using nicotine in their e-cigarettes.
Yet the state of California, where Biebert is based, spent $75 million telling us about the evils of e-cigarettes, said the director in his Q&A; while in the film, he points out that US federal funds were being illegally used for lobbying activities. The American Lung Association had deceived the public, too, notes Biebert, who told the audience, âIf you get powerful charities on side, you can do anything.â The increasing restrictions on e-cigarettes in the US, the subject of federal lawsuits, was equated to âProhibition IIâ.
Dr Marewa Glover of End Smoking NZ, who introduced the film at its premiĂšre, said that young people were using e-cigarettes as a way round peer pressure, when people in their circle smoked.
However, Australia has already banned e-cigarettes, with one interviewee, Vince, who sold them, telling a story about being raided by authorities and now faces losing his home as he fought the government on principle. He believed firmly he was saving lives. There are massive fines for vaping in Brunei and Hong Kong. There were restrictions in New Zealand, too, noted Glover, although those who sought to misinform were technically in breach of the countryâs health legislation.
Biebert says he is neither a smoker nor a vaper; but all good documentary-makers, he had a commitment to get the right information out there. He acknowledges that vapers have not given themselves the best image, either, and that A Billion Lives can only be one small part of getting the truth out.
âWe need to cut the head off the monster,â said Biebert, âand the monster is being funded by big business. We need more than the movie. People need to get the right information.â
He added, âThe truth ends up winning. Even condoms were illegal in the US at one time.â A Billion Lives will begin making its way to other countries. The website is at abillionlives.com, while the movieâs Instagram is at abillionlivesfilm.âJack Yan, Publisher
Above: The author (centre) joins Aaron Biebert, director (left) and Jesse Hieb, producer, for a photo.
Top: Architectâs rendering of the new Catalina Island Museum faĂ§ade. Above: Bettie Page on the Florida beach, 1954.
Day trippers appreciate the southern California destination Catalina Island, easily accessible from Los Angeles. You take the ferry boat from Long Beach, cross the channel, and in about an hour, land in the car-free heritage hamlet of Avalon Harbor. There, nothing has changed for years. Long a haunt of Hollywood celebrities and their international guests, Catalina thrives on the tourist trade. In days of yore the allure was deep-sea fishing and exhibition games at the summer home of the Chicago Cubs baseball team. Today the menu includes boutique shopping, dining and people-watching, nature trekking, mountain biking, zip lines and excellent snorkelling.
The big news this season is the grand opening of the Ada Blanche Wrigley Schreiner Building, new home of the Catalina Island Museum, located at 217 Metropole Avenue, an easy walk from the ferry terminal. Two gala weeks of celebration will occur from June 18 to July 4. A gem of a museum, the institution is devoted to art, culture and history, and the sparkling new facility houses a fine collection of cultural artifact, ceramics, rare photography and nostalgia. A launch exhibition features recently discovered photos of pin-up model Bettie Page, taken in Miami by photographer Bunny Yeager in the 1950s. Other events scheduled include VIP receptions, and Tibetan sand-painting in the skylit atrium. A very reasonable membership to the Museum brings a host of benefits, well worth the charitable contribution. For more information visit www.catalinamuseum.org.âStanley Moss, Travel Editor
Above, from top: A young Norma Jean Baker lived on Catalina in the years before she became Marilyn Monroe. The Chicago Cubs (Stan Hack and Barney Olsen, pictured in 1941) delighted crowds in the summer months. Winston Churchill managed to land a California marlin during a visit.