An Invitation: Caudalie French Skin Care + Jason Wu Event in Venice Beach, California

An Invitation: Caudalie French Skin Care + Jason Wu Event in Venice Beach, California

As I was going through the mail following our summer travel, I discovered an invitation to an event for a brand of which I am a longtime fan. The event was to celebrate the collaboration between the french skin care line, Caudalie by Mathilde Thomas, and fashion designer, Jason Wu. My first thought was, "I can't fly to Venice Beach, I just got home from 3 weeks in Europe". Then I realized that Scott was already planning to be in LA for a class reunion that very weekend and had already reserved a hotel. The timing could not have been more perfect! We decided to drive the 8+ hours to Los Angeles and it was so convenient to have a car for all the stops we planned to make. We downloaded the intriguing podcast 'Serial' which made the drive absolutely fly by.

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My Spa Day at La Perla in San Sebastian, Spain (+ the naked truth)

Spa Day in Spain

For months I've meant to share the story of my spa day in Spain. With over two weeks of travel, through Portugal and Spain, under our belts, spa time was needed to work out the kinks, and soften the edges. The La Perla Spa was located just a few steps down the promenade from our Hotel Niza, in San Sebastian. I had seen the glowing locals leave the spa, as they paraded down the promenade, and thought that would be the perfect way to spend my birthday. When we stopped in to make our reservation, Scott and I looked over the menu with assistance from two beautiful, Spanish women, in stylish black uniforms. They were professional, enthusiastic and glowing. It was one of those "I'll have what she's having" kind of moments. After some consideration, we selected the seaweed scrub and mud wrap special, based on their recommendations.

I've had a number of massages, many while traveling abroad, but I've never booked a scrub and a mud wrap. Somehow the process seemed a little too intimate, with all the scrubbing and wrapping. Do they scrub and wrap ALL the parts? In the luxurious comfort of the La Perla Spa spa concierge desk, I threw caution to the wind. In my mind, I had the impression that these two lovely, professional women would be performing my treatments. THAT was where my logic went wrong!

Following a light birthday breakfast at Hotel Niza, Scott and I made the short walk down the boardwalk to the spa. I love those moments of feeling like a local, and we were feeling it. Following our check-in, changes into comfy terry robes, we waited in the spa lounge sipping on citrus-cucumber water. This is the life! Suddenly, two young men entered the lounge. They were dressed in tight white t-shirts, tight white jeans (leggings?) and...get this...they were wearing plastic gloves. One was snapping the wristband, "Ready??"...snap, snap....I looked at my husband, in horror, and whispered, "Oh Sugar (or something like that)! I forgot to say I didn't want a man"...Snap, snap! Scott later describes these young gentlemen as the "lumberjack and the waiter". I considered my two options: running up those spa stairs to safety or putting on (taking off) my 'big girl' pants. In the end, the birthday girl decided to grin and bare it. After all, it was already paid for!

La Perla Spa San Sebastian Spain

As the "waiter" stepped closer and said my name, I nodded. My cheeks were already burning. He led me to a private spa room where I noticed a shower, table, hoses, a vat of 'mud' but, unfortunately, a surprising lack of any sheets or towels. In America, and luxury resorts abroad, towels and sheets, are abundant. I especially appreciate those privacy sheets, designed to protect the eyes of your spa therapist, and your dignity. You know the ones? I didn't spot a single one. As my "waiter" handed me the teeniest, tiniest, paper string bikini bottom, I would have paid big money for a privacy towel about then. He pantomimed that I should take off all my clothes and get on the table on my stomach. I realized his English was sparse and wondered if that was a good or bad thing. The inner dialogue in my head was deafening, "He's young enough to be my son," "Poor kid, I hope this doesn't burn his eyes!" "Did I shave under my arms?" and "Maybe it's a scrub for the backside only, not the front?".  I was wracking my brain to remember how much of the body they actually cover with a scrub and mud wrap. Clearly, he had given me no top to wear.

As I changed into my dental floss bikini bottom and laid face first on the table I felt very vulnerable. The European idea of nudity seems to be completely different than in the United States. I wondered why I felt so vulnerable, while some of the Europeans paraded confidently, and openly, around the pools, locker room, and beaches.

La Concha Beach San Sebastian Spain
La Concha Beach San Sebastian Spain

I am no prude. I had my dalliances with tiny bikinis back in the day, skinny dipping, a French clothing optional beach on St. Martin, what have you. The idea of almost complete nudity, alone with a young Spanish man, covering my body with seaweed scrub and mud, was not on my radar for my birthday. Now that I think of it, what a decadent gift from my husband, right? LOL!  My burning question, and pardon me but it's the truth, do they put mud on your boobs? There, I said it!

Back to that table, and the naked truth of my spa day in Spain. Turns out my "waiter" was adept at applying scrub all over my backside. The toughest moment was when he pantomimed for me to roll over on my back....ugh!! If I could have communicated in Spanish I might have said, "Just the backside is fine."  Why was this so hard? If I had been 30 how would I have felt? It's a good thing he didn't speak English, because the stream of quips and jokes coming from my mouth, to break the tension, would have been endless. Instead, I steeled myself, and kept quiet, as I rolled over. Hello, glory!  All the scrubbing, and eventually mud application, continued on the front side. In the end, I was relieved when he directed me to rinse my body off in the shower, alone. I'm happy to report that the boobs were left untouched...

Still, poor guy!

San Sebastian Spain, La Concha beach.jpg

I remembered a moment, during our trip to St. Martin, when I saw this difference firsthand. Scott and I took a day trip to the island of St. Barth's on the ferry. We chatted it up with several German and American couples on the way. As we neared the island, the German women, still chatting, pulled their tops off and stowed them in their bags. The American men, including my husband, were suddenly speechless..... imagine! The topless women just kept on chatting. It was comical! I admired their confidence and non-nonchalance. They are just boobs after all. Maybe we treat them a bit too 'preciously', with all the nip-slips and such, here in America. It's definitely a cultural difference that intrigues me when traveling.

Men on the beach in San Sebastian Spain
Men on the beach in San Sebastian Spain

 These gentlemen at the beach, next door to La Perla Spa, have no problem letting it all hang out.

Guard my life in San Sebastian
Guard my life in San Sebastian

A final "I'll have what she's having" moment.

Wait, is that my "waiter" moonlighting as a lifeguard?

My spa day in Spain....revealing!

Is it just me? How would you feel about all that 'naked truth' at the spa?

To my European friends, any advice for getting through those revealing moments?

Ready to book your getaway?


How to Color Your Hair at Home with L'Oreal Paris

I have planned to write a post on 'how to' color your hair at home for ages. When L'Oreal Paris contacted me about reviewing their new Excellence Age Perfect Layered-Tone Flattering Color hair color line, I knew the timing was perfect.  I've colored my hair at home since my early 20's. When I think of the time I've saved, from appointments at the salon, and the cost (roughly $40 touch up cost x 12 months x 25 years =$12,000), coloring your hair at home is definitely a smart, savvy idea. My problem with my frequent root touch-ups at home was the regrowth; if my shade was on the darker side, the re-growth was very obvious. If my shade was too light, my color may last longer but the tone would wash me out. Finding the balance in shades is always the tricky part.

Those grays....I usually like a little mixed metal (silver and gold) but it's definitely prettier in jewelry than in hair.

When I agreed to write a review, L'Oreal requested the typical shades I would use to color my hair. Several days later the sample arrived at my house. The hair color experts at L'Oreal chose 8N (medium natural blonde) which was a good match to my caramel, golden blonde base. I was looking forward to trying the new multi-dimensional formula pioneered by L'Oreal. A flat, one-dimensional hair color does no favors for anyone, but 'shimmering, radiant, harmoniously blended roots', all sound like a great hair day to me!

Coloring your hair at home is very simple.

These are my steps:

1 - Read, and re-read directions to be certain you understand the steps.

2 - Lay out your tools--color tubes, gloves, comb/brush tool, timer and directions--before you start. I add a towel, or scarf, and facial oil.

3 - If you have never used a hair color before, a strand test is essential to work out timing and sensitivity level for your unique hair type.

4 - Wrap a towel or scarf around your shoulders to catch any drips.

5 - Rub facial oil on the skin along your hairline so that color does not dye your skin.


6 - L'Oreal designed a handy new tool for easy application. Once I got the hang of using this brush/comb, I found it to be genius (practice a trial run before you load it with color)!

7 - Mix colors according to directions, shake well, & work quickly to load the brush with color.


Shake it!

8 - Apply color to your roots, starting with the hairline and natural part, and work backwards. I use the point of the comb to part hair into straight rows (the best way to get perfect overage). Starting at the front hairline and part, allows extra time for color to develop on the areas that show the most.

9 - When you've covered all roots, set the timer to 25 minutes, and allow L'Oreal Excellence Age Perfect color to work its magic.

10 - When the timer beeps, use the brush to pull color through to your ends, for the final 5 minutes of color time.

11 - 5 minutes later hop in the shower, lather up color with water, and rinse thoroughly.

12 - Apply the luxurious Restorative Conditioning Treatment, for the final 2 minutes in the shower, and rinse until water runs clear.

(*Full Disclosure: I learned a lesson by asking my husband to take a few 'head-shots only' in the shower! ;) #crop #crop #crop

I was one of those dark hair, blue-eyed girls that went gray early. I've found that dark blonde shades are much easier to maintain, than dark hair with a frequently reappearing skunk stripe. Being a veteran of 25+ years of hair color at home, I was extremely pleased with my experience using L'Oreal Excellence Age Perfect.The directions are clear and easy to follow. The innovative brush/comb eased the awkward application process, even at the nape of my neck. The scent was actually pleasant, rather than the harsh chemical smell of some hair color products. My husband even noticed the gentle fragrance as he photographed my 'shower scene'. L'Oreal seems more gentle than other brands I've used and it did not irritate my scalp in the least. The conditioner was extremely luxurious and left my hair feeling silky smooth and full.

The best thing is truly the radiant color. I was very happy with the level of shine and shimmer my hair had after coloring. The multi-dimensional properties allow for your roots to grow out and blend, with less of the dreaded 'skunk stripe', which equals more time between touch-ups. That's a big plus in my busy calendar.

I want to thank L'Oreal Paris for the opportunity to give their new hair color a test drive. My hair feels soft, silky and looks shimmery, loaded with multi-dimensional highlights.  I'm very pleased with my results and will most definitely be using L'Oreal Excellence Age Perfect Hair Color again and again.

Have you ever colored your hair at home?

If you are considering at home hair color, try this helpful online tool L'Oreal Paris.

Do you have any tips you would like to share?


I am participating in a Vibrant Influencer network campaign for L'Oreal Excellence Age Perfect. I am receiving a fee for posting; however, the opinions expressed in this post are my own. I am in no way affiliated with L'Oreal Excellence Age Perfect and do not earn a commission or percent of sales.