If you guys follow Lauryn on IG, you’ve probably seen her with these huge black under-eye masks. Well, they’re her all-time favorite and they’re by VREA cosmetics.
Lucky us, because the founder, Alex Potora is on the blog today to share her favorite, must-have beauty items. Think serum, concealer, a massager, SPF and more.
Alexandra is gorgeous, charming, smart as a whip, such a master of her craft (all things skincare), and a kick ass entrepreneur, not to mention she’s so thoughtful and always sends Lauryn the most gorgeous flowers of life.
We hope you love all of Alex’s recommendations as much as we do ( as we add all things VREA to our cart).
Hi, I’m Alexandra Potora, and you can call me Alex. I’m a skincare professional, and the founder and CEO of VREA Cosmetics. If you and I were to sit down over a cup of hibiscus tea with 1 teaspoon of honey (hibiscus because it’s rich in antioxidants & honey to slightly sweeten the tartness)… we’d likely be talking a lot about YOU. Because… that’s what would make me happiest and most comfortable.
One of the hardest things for me is to talk about myself, but in the interest of our time together, I’ll do my best.
I’m an immigrant from Romania, and the only child of a single mother, born in times controlled by the Soviet iron fist. At 18, I moved to America by myself, determined to break old family cycles, find the kind of success and happiness I could only dream of as a child, and create a new legacy; one that would make my foremothers proud of. A tad bit “melodramatic” it sounds, yes, but growing up having nothing, made me want to have everything!
Like you, I’ve been through a lot. My therapist (because yes, I totally have one), said to me.. “you’ve lived A LOT in 38 years”, and while that’s true, I found that through hardships, losses, past divorce and tons of insecurities and failures along the way, a world in which you can be, have and do what you ultimately want, is not beyond reach.
My journey revolved a lot around the passion I have for skincare and makeup. I’m a licensed esthetician (although I don’t practice; I only wanted to advance in knowledge). I’m also a makeup artist and entrepreneur. Life for me orbits around my business (VREA Cosmetics, which took almost 5 years to bring to market because I wanted to create something that will truly innovate and revolutionize the industry), my husband (Jeremiah – he’s a cancer, I’m a Virgo so you can just imagine the communication strides we’ve had to make), my mom (Elena, who lives in the US now as well and she too is a cancer – life is trying real hard to teach me something), and my friends (a very small circle of them, but a circle I can trust if a situation ever happened and a burner phone would be required; if you know what I mean). Lol.
The Instagram community knows me for my NO BS approach to skincare. No fluff, no sponsored content, just good ol’ facts and skincare literacy. I’ve been cutting through the myths, false claims and misinformation in the beauty world like a savage on a rampage. I live, breathe and dream of skin. It’s a true passion for me, originally stemming from dealing with (really bad) acne for much of my adult life. The women in my family also have very thin skin, that’s historically prematurely sagged and wrinkled. You can say that’s one of the “cycles” I wanted to break in my lifetime.
So as someone heavily emersed in the beauty world, not only as a professional, brand founder and “influencer” (god I loathe that word), but as a compulsive consumer as well… I am here to share with you my top 5 favorite (must-have) beauty products (and why). And on that note, thank you Lauryn and TSC family for having me on!
Alexandra Potora’s Favorite Beauty Products:
WHO: VREA Cosmetics
WHY: It may be obvious that a founder would pimp out her own product, but you have to know how much time, innovation, and personal investment it took to create this brand. Nothing was “private labeled.” I own our formulas, because they’ve been created and thoroughly tested from scratch, with the purpose of creating the most efficacious, multi-tasking, innovative (and affordable) products on the market.
This particular booster serum is special in many ways:
#1. It was specifically formulated to be used for both face AND eye area.
While many online gurus encourage the use of face products around the eyes (on the basis of similar ingredients lists), in reality, cosmetic chemistry doesn’t work so plainly as that. A simple 0.01 percent in ingredient variation (which you wouldn’t know by simply looking at the ingredients list), can alter the dynamic of a formula.
That’s one of the main reasons why many develop milia (small white bumps on the skin, formed when keratin -a type of protein produced by the skin- becomes trapped beneath the outer layer of the skin). I blame a lot of milia cases on using products not specifically designed to cater to the very thin and very delicate eye area (which is very different from the skin on the rest of the face). Same concept behind not using body lotion on the face.
Not to mention that many facial products contain fragrance (synthetic or natural), which is detrimental to the eye area. Long story short, the 4-In-1 Multipurpose booster serum is a product that’s powerful enough to produce results on the face, yet gentle enough to use (treat and protect) the eye area as well. It’s TWO products in ONE.
#2. It can be used alone as a serum or mixed with other serums (it plays nice with other formulas, retinol/retinoid, Vitamin C included), moisturizers, eye creams and even foundation.
It’s formulated with 3 molecules of Hyaluronic Acid to hydrate across ALL layers of the skin (not just the top), Tripeptide+Micro Algae+Vitamin B5 blend to improve texture and the look of lines and wrinkles, sustainably sourced Vitamin C from Australian Kakadu Plum (world’s most potent source), sustainably sourced Butterfly Ginger extract from Madagascar to protect from environmental stressors (air pollution / blue light exposure), Squalane (sustainably derived from fermentation) which has well-documented emollient properties benefiting all skin types, and Hydrolyzed Jojoba Esters to reduce transepidermal water loss. (WOW that was a mouth full!)
All ingredients are non-comedogenic / non-acnegenic (since your girl has acne-prone skin). The product is dermatologist tested and approved for all skin types (at all stages of life). It’s vegan, Leaping Bunny certified cruelty free, and made here in the United States.
HOW: Gently pat into clean, dry skin. Use alone or mix with eye cream, another serum or moisturizer.
Can be used on the neck, décolleté & back of the hands as well.
Follow with sunscreen if used during the day.
Designed to not crumb or pill under makeup.
For best results: Use daily AM and/or PM. I would also say here that this product is beautifully complemented by our Eye Goals eye masks, but they’re sold out at the moment and hoping they’ll will be back in stock in October.
WHO: The Skinny Confidential
WHAT: PINK BALLS Face Massager
WHY: If you’re thinking that I’m mentioning this product simply because I’m on the blog or because I’m hysterically obsessed with Lauryn (*cough, which I am) – then I have to pause right here. I’ve used the daylights out of this product already! Since it rolled out (pun intended), I’ve been using it at least 4-5 days out of the week.
Firstly, it feels in your hand like no facial massager has ever felt before. It’s robust and it grips like a mofo (in a good way). The multi-angular stainless-steel balls adapt to the contours of the face and body like a dream and I use this because well… sagging. I mentioned earlier how premature skin sagging runs in my family, so I facial massage in order to sculpt and tone the skin. This is part of my morning routine and I can’t live without it. Just a few minutes of face massaging in the day, can help increase blood flow, reduce puffiness, and (wait for it…) help your skin look toned, fresh and youthful (while diminishing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles).
Since facial massage helps boost circulation, that also means an increase in oxygen levels in the skin as well, which has the potential to help those of us with acne. Oxygen essentially helps kill the acne-causing bacteria and prevents it from reproducing and forming new pimples.
Facial massage is also incredible for relieving muscle tension too (think stress, teeth grinding, etc.) and lymphatic drainage. One of the most important functions of the lymphatic system is to help drain excess fluid from the tissues and thus, helping to keep those tissues healthy and functioning properly. By massaging the lymph nodes, we can virtually help (and increase) the body’s biological filtration process.
HOW: I personally like to use this after applying my moisturizer, and before applying sunscreen.
You can also use it with an oil (always apply the oil after moisturizer and before sunscreen).
Gently roll upwards along the jawline (jowls be damned!) and cheeks.
To help drain the lymphatic system, you can roll downward, onto the neck and sides of the neck.
WHAT: Daily Milkfoliant
WHY: Exfoliation is a HUGE part of skincare and skin health. Your skin is the largest organ and it’s truly incredible! It’s remarkably useful, protective, and waterproof. It is also constantly changing and regenerating itself. New skin cells are constantly formed, and they gradually push their way to the top layer of the skin.
When they reach the top, they die and form the top “dead” layer, which is called stratum corneum. Eventually, the dead cells break away and fall off, making room for the newer cells which are growing from below, and the cycle repeats itself. It takes about a month for new cells to make their way to the top layer, meaning that the skin you’ll have a month from today, will be completely new in comparison to the skin you have now.
Science estimates the human body to be made up of around 10 trillion cells in total. Since the skin makes up about 16 percent of the body weight, that means you have roughly 1.6 trillion skin cells. (source)
Of that trillion+ skin cells, roughly 30,000 to 40,000 fall off every hour. Is your mind blown? This means that over a period of 24-hours, you lose almost a million skin cells. Amazing isn’t it!?
So now, where do all these skin cells go?
Well.. that dust that collects on your tables and TV, is mostly made up of dead skin cells. Essentially, your house is filled with former parts of… yourself. And if you’re still with me here and can stomach the info, you should know that in just one year, you’ll shed more than 8 pounds of dead skin. Crazy!
Now, this natural process of exfoliation is scientifically referred to as desquamation and while the turnover takes about 30 days in our younger years, the process slows down gradually with age. This is when exfoliation comes into place, by helping the skin in the process of shedding dead cells. The right amount of exfoliation depends from person to person. Too much can lead to sensitization and the skin barrier getting compromised, too little may not yield you the results you’re perhaps seeking.
I generally exfoliate 2-3 times per week and the only forms of exfoliants I use are chemical and enzymatic. Chemical exfoliants are Glycolic and Lactic for example (AHA) and Salicylic Acid (BHA – when acne is acting out). Chemical exfoliation works by loosening the bonds between cells so they can slough off. Enzyme exfoliators on the other hand, while similar to chemical exfoliants, work by gently dissolving the dead cells.
That brings me to this new product from Dermalogica.
It’s vegan and formulated with oat and coconut activates (which have surprisingly not caused any breakouts for me). One of the main reasons why I love this product, is the ease with which you can use it. The powder gets activated when coming into contact with water, and creates a creamy lather. I keep this product in the shower so I am reminded to use it a lot more often than if it were to just sit on a shelf somewhere.
This is a gentle exfoliator, that’s a blend of fruit-based Grape Extract and Arginine (rich in AHA/BHA). By exfoliating on a weekly basis, skin texture is improved, and the resurfaced skin gives me a beautiful and healthy tone and glow.
HOW: I dispense about half a teaspoon into my wet hands and then rub the hands together, to create that creamy lather.
Apply to the face in circular motions, avoiding the eye area.
Massage gently for one minute, then rinse thoroughly.
WHAT: Glowscreen Body SPF 40
WHY: The sun is the biggest extrinsic aging factor, responsible for more than 80% of rapid aging. Not to mention, it’s a serious hazard to skin health. There is no known level of UV exposure that maximizes Vitamin D synthesis without increasing the risk of skin cancer. Which is why wearing sunscreen on a daily basis is CRITICAL. Skin cancer believe it or not, is the most common cancer in the United States and worldwide.
Now, for the face and neck…There was never an eye product before that could correct, treat, conceal AND protect the eye area from the sun, which is why I created the 4-In-1 Concealer SPF 30. So my face and neck are protected from the sun. And now my eye area as well.
But what about the back of the hands and the rest of the body? Are we applying (and re-applying) sunscreen on those areas on a daily basis? If not… this is your friendly reminder to do so. And do so even when staying home, since UVA rays can penetrate through windows and clothing as well.
I absolutely love this product not just because Supergoop! sunscreens are majestic in general, but this also illuminates skin by virtue of the light-reflecting minerals it’s formulated with, for a healthy and natural-looking glow.
The texture feels light, whipped almost, and it absorbs pretty fast. And not only does it add a very subtle shimmer (while protecting from the sun), it also has certain nourishing emollients which are super helpful for my dry skin. And since I almost always forget to apply body lotion in the morning, this serves as twofold.
HOW: Apply generously (about a shot glass worth) and evenly 15-20 minutes before sun exposure.
Reapply after 40 minutes of swimming or sweating, immediately after towel drying, or at least every 2 hours.
WHO: Diptyque Paris
WHAT: Ilio Hair Mist
WHY: Something that most people don’t know about me, is that I’m clinically OBSESSED with (and use) hair fragrance on a weekly basis. Thanks to Chelsea at Misca hair salon (hey girl!), my hair now is down to the butt-crack-long. I only wash it once a week (after about a year of gradually increasing the in-between wash timeline from 4 days to 5, then 6 and now 7 days), and on day 2 after I get it washed, I spritz a couple of pumps of hair mist. Sometimes (but rarely and if I’m feeling spicy) I re-apply on day 5 as well. Let me just say, that every time I flip my hair, someone is bound to comment on how amazing it smells. Major points.
This scent is so light and delicate. It has fresh, juicy notes of prickly pear, bergamot and jasmine, with a final touch of iris. If you can try to imagine the scent, think of a beautiful summer day in the heart of the Mediterranean. And I don’t know about you, but I for one am trying to relive my days in Greece as often as I can.
HOW: After washing, rinse the hair with cold water in order to strengthen the capillary fibres and also help hair absorb the mist better.
I keep the bottle about an upper arm’s distance and spray once on the right side, once on the left side.
Then close your eyes and visualize yourself on a yacht in the Mediterranean. Oh my god!!
Well, that’s it from me, I’m off to work on VREA. If you’d like to connect, you can find me on Instagram @alexandrapotora and if you’d like to check out VREA Cosmetics and be WOW’d by what we’ve developed so far, you can find us on our website www.vreacosmetics.com and @vreacosmetics.
I love you all and thank you again TSC fam for sharing your beautiful community with me!
With love always,