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Winter Beauty From Malibu to Larchmont Village

Posted on The Carat Diet
2015-12-04 10:58:25
By Carole Dixon

CieSparks Salon 2

For something a little different his holiday season, we take you on a fun journey through Los Angeles, from Malibu to Larchmont Village for the best in hair, nails and skin treatments to keep you looking hot – and relaxed, through the New Year.

Malibu’s hottest hair power couple Michael Sparks and Heather Cie, have recently celebrated one year at their chic Cie Sparks salon in the Cross Creek shopping center. Before any holiday parties or awards season red carpets, you’ll want to add a little color to locks and Heather is known for turning any dull hair color into a blond goddess in a flash – she works super quick on highlights, too. Her partner Michael is also known as one of the best hair cutters in the business, so visit his station after for a transforming look – or just a trim.  A few trend observations and tips from Michael include, “The big trend I’m seeing this winter is a long, slightly grown out bob. I’ve been giving my client’s long bobs with invisible layers. It’s my secret trick for creating a sleek bob, without obvious layers. With this cut, it’s definitely important to keep your locks moisturized. I love Oribe’s Gold Lust – it keeps hair shiny, and infuses it with a gold sheen. You can tell the difference after just one use! It’s perfect for all types of hair during this dry winter weather.”

The great thing about Cie Parks salon is the first rate treatment and services without the Beverly Hills attitude. This is laid back Malibu after all.

côte, the beach-chic nail care destination and retail shop in Brentwood, will offer a variety of unique gifts for everyone on your holiday list through to Valentine’s Day. Not just selling limited edition nail gift sets of their own hand-crafted polishes, or travel kits for jetsetters, côte has also traveled the world to bring you a specially-curated assortment of retail items including handmade ornaments, stationery and unique stocking stuffers. This is in addition to a plethora of new jewelry, fashion accessories, home goods and children’s items that côte is introducing throughout the season. côte is truly your one-stop holiday shop, but you can enjoy the gifts year-round, along with an amazing alfresco mani & pedi (add hot stones) while sipping rose on the patio.

To commemorate the December opening of the latest Star Wars movie, the newly re-launched Larchmont Sanctuary Spa has unveiled new treatments infused with “The Force.”    To be booked anytime through the end of December, the treatment packages – designed by the spa’s owner, who admits to being a Star Wars nerd – celebrate the characters and locations featured throughout the blockbuster movie series.  Ideal for the Jedi or the warp-lagged who need a special power boost, the treatment packages feature ingredients and products like:  healing mud from Alderaan;  salt from Tatooine; a Restorative Waters Bath from Dagobah; the finest Kashyyykian Beer – and all are guaranteed to ward off the evil with the good and make you feel 100% again.

Larchmont Sanctuary Spa is a serene urban oasis in one of L.A.’s most historic neighborhoods and formerly known as Le Petite Retreat. Book online at or call 323.466.1028.

Red Carpet Rituals and Beauty Tricks of the Trade

Originally Posted on The Carat Diet
2015-01-16 07:49:39
By Carole Dixon

The Golden Globes might be behind us, but awards season is just beginning and the next six weeks leading up to the 87th Annual Academy Awards on February 22nd will will be a flurry of Red Carpet ready rituals. Here are a few beauty tips for for hair, nails, spray tans and make-up that will leave you looking like an A-Lister.


Hair Extensions and Color:
If you’re locks are lacking luster, your color needs to be kicked-up a notch and a little volume wouldn’t hurt before you hit the after-party circuit this awards season, make an appointment with Kazumi Morton (pictured above) at Jonathan & George salon in Beverly Hills. (You also might recognize co-owner Jonathan Antin from the BRAVO series Blowout and some of the celebrity clientele that includes everyone from Cameron Diaz to Leonardo DiCaprio.)

Kazumi is not only a color guru but a hair extension genius. She sources a rare new product called Hair Lingerie that has with a wider panel of hand-picked hair (rather than applying multiple smaller manufactured patches to your head), and a harmless application that sandwiches your own hair between two panels and is then secured with a non-damaging solution, that will stay in place for at least six weeks, yet not harm your strands.  Kazumi is one of only a few dozen hair care pros in the United States that is licensed to apply the hair, and her color expertise allows a perfect match with your own shade every time. In addition, the salon is tucked away out of the fray on a quiet, tree-lined street in Beverly Hills surrounded by only a few low-key design studios and plenty of paparazzi free on street parking.

Her international appeal is also growing as Kazumi expands her popular Root Varnish line – for touching up your hair at home, with a launch in London this fall. The handy paint brush applicator is perfect for traveling women on the go and is all natural – even edible, made with 22 botanical ingredients including ginseng to strengthen your hair and black seaweed to hydrate, plus its fool-proof to apply at just before a big event, so you might even want to throw one in your designer evening clutch before leaving home.

Nail Art that Lasts:
Next time you go for a routine maintenance mani-pedi ask yourself: is the polish we wear a true reflection or just gloss? This is the question that Pico Blvd’s newest nail salon Enamel Diction is taking on. You can get to the bottom of this burning query by booking an appointment for a color consultation or consult their ‘colorstrology’ themed book before your next treatment.

The cute salon features a tree sculpture draped in body jewelry and a hybrid of custom made leather and wooden recliners for a relaxing pedicure – and even the manicure chairs are draped in a faux white fur cushion for cozy comfort. A cheery wall of bold art features prominently and a skylight surrounded by a living green wall hangs overhead.

Some of the nail art includes long lasting gels that won’t harm your nail beds and feel free to have your artist add a bold flower, an art-deco chevron design or even an iconic Eiffel Tower to a few nails to punch up the flair factor.  Some of the polishes and products are vegan, such as Berlin based company USL, but they also specialize in a few hard to find gems from Japan such as the Uka Pepper lotion that is massaged into your hands and feet during a treatment.

Not only can you book the entire space for your next party or special event – they have a make-up artist on-site during the weekends and are still adding more services. Most importantly, they also offer a membership plan, just like a gym, where you can yield unlimited hand and nail treatments for one low monthly fee.

Natural Make-Up for All Night
If you want a light, natural look that will stick with you under the bright lights for the entire night, La Bella Donna is a revolutionary mineral powder line that behaves like makeup. The complete collection of mineral-based formulas, are healthy for the skin and contain pure minerals from rock that give benefits to your face that you cannot get from any other products. Not just for foundation, we love the compressed blush in ‘bella,’ lip sheer in ‘truffle shine’ for a little natural glossy action, the compressed eye shadows in ‘sultry olive,’ and they even make a mascara that will not cake under pressure.  This brand has been showing up in all our favorite salons around town lately, and now we know why.

Golden Glow for the Body
This ground-breaking spray tan treatment by VITA LIBERATA is actually called a ‘skin finishing session.’ Spray-tanning expert to the stars, Irish-born Fiona Locke, will actually come to your home or office to make sure your skin is not only glowing but also soft and silky to the touch. The VITA LIBERATA formulas will not give you even a hint of dreaded orange color, but they also contain Odour™ Remove technology that leaves not even a trace of that horrible chemical smell associated with most fake tans. Your skin will dry quick to the touch and the color will not be left behind on all your clothing and sheets, plus the Moisture Lock™ technology keeps the skin hydrated for up to 72 hours. This really is our top pick for a genius tan technique this season that will fool the cameras for certain.


Three Cool Vietnamese Restaurants Open in LA

redmed food
Red Med at the Formosa Since 1925 the Formosa has been a West Hollywood staple for studio executives, famous crooners and mobsters who slid into naugahyde red booths during 3 martini lunches back in the day to count their money. This dimly lit box car has been a cool dive for dozens of years -and the signed black and white celebrity headshots still line the walls, but the Chinese food was never the draw. Enter the crew behind Red Medicine in Beverly Hills, including a menu conceived by Executive Chef Jordan Kahn – and problem solved. Start your evening – at 4pm if you so desire, with a Singapore Sling or a Pisco Sour before ordering crispy coated confit chicken wings, Shanghai rice cakes with bacon, spring rolls with Dungeness crab, poached farm egg with boiled peanuts, or a bahn mi slathered with pate and stuffed with pork belly. The show-stopper is a giant platter of Wagyu beef brisket which has been braised for 36 hours that you can roll into lettuce leaves. Chances are you’re going to want everything on the menu, but don’t feel a bit guilty, they do not have a dessert menu, and you have until 2am to finish everything.

East Borough The team behind Pitfire Pizza (one of the few chains that we like), and extremely popular Superba Snack Bar – Paul Hibler and Chef Jason Neroni, have set up a new shop in Culver City focusing on French Vietnamese dishes. The interiors are similar to Superba with colorful tiled floors, communal tables, front patio and unique design elements such as the massive photographic wall of a Ho Chi Min City street scene. Start with a ‘Kitchen Garden’ cocktail of gin, cucumber, black pepper and celery bitters that will pair well with most dishes. We loved the daikon rice cake with egg; head on blue shrimp; salt and pepper squid which is lightly coated or the tender baby octopus with sweet chili sauce and crispy Brussels sprouts. ‘Common Table’ items include whole roasted chicken, roasted trout and fall off the bone pork shank with crab pate and lettuce cups.

Little Sister By 6pm on any given Saturday night, this cozy modern French-Vietnamese eatery by Chef-OwnerTin Vunong is giving neighbors M.B. Post and Fishing with Dynamite a run for the money with a huge crowd waiting on the sidewalk. The space is industrial cool and date-night cozy at the same time; plus we love a menu that includes a ‘spice table’ with symbols, descriptions and origins to help you decipher some of the more complex ingredients in the cuisine. Musts include the perfectly crispy Vietnamese crepe stuffed with pork belly, prawns, bean sprouts and showered in mint that you can wrap in a lettuce cup – but it’s just as tasty solo. Skinny Singapore noodles with prawns and chunks of juicy pork is another hit along with the salt & pepper lobster. If you just want to sit at the bar and watch the kitchen in action, start with the Balinese style fried meat balls served with banana ketchup for dipping. There are no cocktails on offer but your can order beer, premium – sake or a bottle of rose which pairs well with a cheese plate for dessert.

Two New Restaurants that Need to be on Your Radar in 2014


Top Chef Alex Reznik has pulled off what no other dining establishment in the Pico Robertson Kosher corridor has yet to achieve: a cool concept space for diners of all ages to have craft cocktails, inventive small plates or a simple juicy steak dinner whether on a date, with family or friends.

Ditmas refers to the Brooklyn hood where Chef-Owner Reznik grew up and also gave birth to his culinary career centered around the dinner table in his family home. The open kitchen and 20 foot long wooden communal table is certainly inviting and the varied menu of modern American cuisine is encouraging that this eatery will become a staple in the community.

Start with the thick and creamy Jerusalem artichoke soup with sun choke chips, Fresno powder and watercress puree along with a giant house made NY pretzel with horseradish mustard. There has already been a huge buzz about the steak tartar topped with a quail egg – which is delicious, but the more adventurous diners should try the corned beef tongue on a bagel slice, topped with a poached egg. We can’t wait for brunch to start so we can order this with a side of crispy onion rings. Everything is conceived in-house form the flatbreads to fry bread, and special attention has been paid to the bar program with in-house infusions, syrups, bitters and macerations.
The kosher steaks are a great find from 10 oz. flat iron at $25 to a massive bone-in-rib-eye ($42), up to a cout de bouef for $76. Whitefish rillettes with house made brioche, seasonal pickled vegetables or a salmon pastrami with parsnip puree, everything bagel, and capers are perfect for non-meat eaters. The kitchen will also be creating five different pastas each week, but for now there is also duck consommé with matzo balls, chicken meatballs with coconut milk, and the signature 24-hour braised short rib with butternut squash polenta pickled peppers finished in a horseradish snow. Welcome to the neighborhood!

Factory Kitchen is the latest industrial area hot spot downtown with Chef Auriana Angelo (formerly of Valentino) at the helm. Naturally, it’s also an industrial looking space with a bar area and open kitchen in an old warehouse style building but the food is refined modern Italian.
‘Beginnings’ include duck egg with red potato, sautéed greens and speck that would be a perfect brunch dish. The chef also goes the classic route with minestrone that utilizing an organic medley of veggies and basil pesto.  Prosciutto is aged 24 months and served with lightly fried sage dough and stracciatella. The ‘focaccina’ with crescenza, arugula and Liguria olive oil is more like a flat bread meets a pizzetta and will go quickly at the table once you start pulling apart the gooey Northern Italian cow’s milk cheese between the dough.  A much talked about dish has been the green-hued folded handkerchief pasta  – Jonathan Gold of the LA Times has just coined this one a top 10 newbie; with almond basil pesto from Liguria and fiori sardo cheese (a tart Peccorino), but do try the genius sliced beet casserole with melted Asiago as well.  Entrees include flat iron steak with bagna cauda – another Piedmontese specialty with lots of butter, garlic and anchovy; Mediterranean octopus with a classic Sicilian salmorgilio; rolled porchetta or osso buco.
While the wine list is well priced Italian varietals from Alto Adige to Veneto, do not overlook the cocktails such as ‘Sweet Jane’ with a barrel aged Genever, rhubarb and lavender honey.

Three Smoking Hot New Restaurants: French, Italian and Asian


While these top tables will be hard to score over the holiday season, we recommend getting a head start now as they should not be missed.

Republique Chef Walter Manzke is back doing what he does best: classic French cuisine with a modern California twist, in the old Campanile space, no less.   The gothic style open structure is now a sea of wooden communal tables over antique tiles and vaulted ceilings with several kitchen spaces for viewing and a long inviting bar and lounge in the front of house. The old LaBrea Bakery spot adjacent will also not be going to waste as an elaborate entry way either, Manzke has plans for adding an oyster bar, similar to a wine bar, in the coming months. For now you can feast on freshly baked bread by Mrs. Manzke, some of the best steak tartare and kabocha squash agnolotti to be found anywhere, along with the more adventurous pig’s head served with lentils, bacon, frisee and farm egg. “I tried so many different preparations and just went back to the traditional classic ways,” says Manzke.  We are so glad that he did.
Scopa Just when you thought the west side couldn’t use another cozy Italian eatery, along comes Steve Livigni and Pablo Moix to smash that theory into the ground. Taking over a tacky old Chinese place on Washington Blvd., the stunning space now houses distressed brick walls, a long open bar and plenty of romantic two-tops. Top Chef Alumni Antonia Lafaso, last seen at Black Market in Studio City, is recreating recipes from her Grandmother’s kitchen such as the pan-fried meatball hero make with primarily dry aged beef and no veal or pork mix. The pastas are simple and delicious – Chitarra is made with a pecorino stock from the cheese rinds and black pepper and it’s one of the best winter dishes in town.  House made ricotta crostini is light as a feather – whipped with mascarpone, addictive and served with charred ciabatta slices.  Popular libations include the Bullock’s-Wilshire with bourbon which pays homage to the old LA department store.  If you’re feeling under-the-weather the Bee’s Pick Me Up with Cognac, lemon and clover honey should sooth anything that ales you.

Din Tai Fung We are not a fan of chains – apart from Umami Burger, but Din Tai Fung has opened in the Americana at Brand bringing the beloved Asian steamed dumpling emporium closer to Angelenos who have been making the trek to Arcadia for years, and marking their 81st location around the globe. Hailed by the New York Times as “one of the top ten restaurants in the world,” and ranked #1 in the inaugural “101 Best Restaurants in Asia” by The Daily Meal, Din Tai Fung is now serving its internationally recognized signature soup dumplings with an exclusive menu addition, the famed Truffle dumpling, which is served to foreign dignitaries and very special guests in Taiwan.  A legendary eatery on Asian soil, founded in 1958 by the Yang Family,  the contemporary Glendale location is a massive bright and airy space which should draw hordes of shoppers from the mall looking for not only some of the world’s best dumplings but fried pork chop atop a bed of rice, pot stickers, wontons, soups, and fried noodles. An expansive cocktail program serves traditional and Asian-style beverages, along with boba beverages and slushies, plus a curated selection of beer and wine.

Five Things To Do Before Your Wedding Day

3 Months Out: The Dance Doctor
If you don’t know your foxtrot from your salsa steps and plan to have dancing and a band at your wedding reception, then you need to book an appointment with The Dance Doctor.  Whether you decide to trip the light fantastic solo or with your mate, acclaimed dance instructor John Cassese will help make you look like you don’t have two left fee.  10 lessons will set you back about $1,000, but you can also join in on a group session starting for a few hundred. The famous Santa Monica studio has trained celebrities from Adam Sandler to Sir Ben Kingsley and Elizabeth Hurley, along with individuals and couples of all ages and from all walks of life, levels of fitness and talent. You’ll learn helpful tips such as ‘every step you take on the dance floor gets a complete weight transfer. For more information  

Six Weeks Out: The Bel Air Hotel Here Comes The Bride Package:
Let the hotel’s Spa  by La Prairie pamper you before you walk down the aisle with the “Here Comes the Bride” Six Week Beauty Countdown package. The program includes a regime for 6 weeks prior: Anti-Aging facial ; 4 weeks prior: Signature Back Facial; 2 weeks prior: Aromatherapy; 1 week prior: Diamond Perfect Face and Body treatment;  2 days prior: Perfect Manicure and Pedicure and finally a Post-Wedding: Couples Massage gift for one hour of relaxation your new husband or wife.

Bridesmaids should enjoy some well-deserved pampering too. If you book the ‘Here Comes the Bride’ package, the bridal party will receive a 20% discount off a pre-wedding spa session in La Prairie’s VIP suite – The Enclave. Or if a traditional bridal shower at Swan Lake is more your style, Brides can receive 15% off a 3 course Bridal Shower luncheon which includes a champagne toast and a waived rental fee. The package price is $1320, which will save you about 23%. To book please call Hotel Bel-Air’s Spa by La Prairie at 310-909-1180.

One Week Out: Mink Eyelash Extensions
Currently all the rage for a flash of glamour, one of the best investments you can make before your big day is to have a full set of mink eyelash extensions applied.  The best service we have found in LA is by Kelly is perky, personable and will make house calls for you or your whole bridal party. What you won’t find is any of the smelly glue or uncomfortable picking and pulling of your lashes during the service which takes about one hour. If you do this about one week out from your big day you can enjoy the long, lush lashes for your bachelorette party, wedding rehearsal dinner but the most important aspect is you won’t need to worry about shedding a tear at your wedding and having any running mascara ruin your pictures. If you’d like to make more of a statement, add a color integration or Swarovski crystals placed on the outer lash base. Home visits start at $350.

Three Days Out: Spray Tan – Fake Bake
You’ll want to look glowing at the ceremony and on your honeymoon. Book an appointment with Jennie at NineZeroOne salon in West Hollywood ($6o), and then top your tan up at home with Fake Bake self-tanning.

According to the popular home use brand: don’t tan without PAM:  Preparation: When it comes to prep, try the  Fake Bake Passion Fruit Body Polish –  a gentle but effective exfoliate which leaves the skin feeling silky smooth and ready to tan. Application: They have made it easy to apply the products thanks to a signature color guide that ‘shows where it goes’ making it impossible to miss a spot. Whether you spray it on with our Airbrush Self-Tanner  or you go the more traditional route with Self-Tanning Lotion, you¹ll never have trouble with the application  just never forget to use the gloves that come in the box. Maintenance:  Skin Smoothie Oil is one of the first preservation moisturizers developed by Fake Bake and is still a favorite. The unique dry-oil spray absorbs quickly, sealing in moisture and locking in your sunless tan. Spray on the Skin Smoothie Oil right after you shower, while wet, and then towel dry.

The Day of: Blushington
This Sunset Blvd make-up salon and lounge has been creating a buzz since it opened earlier this year. Like a hair salon you’ll be able to pick out your favorite look from Full Face, Camera Ready, Eyes Only or Sweet Pea ($40 each). These make-up sessions have become popular for entire bridal parties and you can throw in a brow wax or tinting while you’re in the chair. And, as luck would have it, The Dry Bar is located right next door, so your hair can be coiffed with the final finishing touches.;

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LA’s Ten Best Workouts Just in Time for Summer

After missing The Andaz Hotel’s new boot camp this weekend in West Hollywood, it seemed like a good time to roll out this top ten summer fitness story in the hopes that it will inspire you to try that extreme pilates class, swing on the pole or just hit the Santa Monica bike path before June – the stairs are also free, and I’m starting first thing tomorrow.

The S Factor
For the most provocative work out in town, hit Shelia Kelly’s mid-town studio. Kick-up your sex appeal a notch or two learning how to shimmy up and down the pole and unleash your erotic side – not for the shy types but great for tipsy bachelorette parties.

The S Factor, 5225 Wilshire Blvd, Suite B (323-965-9685 or

LA Fitness Zumba Classes
One of the top gyms in LA has gotten into the groove with Zumba fitness. The dance program includes several types of aerobic moves while listening to music blends of Latin and international beats that are contagious – you can’t get the sound out of your head for days – but still a fun way to shed the pounds.

LA Fitness, 7021 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood (323-462-5199 or

The Bar Method
Awaken the Black Swan within during a fitness routine that utilizes a traditional ballet barre to combine dance conditioning, deep stretches, interval training, aspects of isometrics and physical therapy that aims to build long, lean limbs  and give you that light-on-your-feet, limber and enviable graceful posture.

The Bar Method, 8416 W 3rd Street (323-651-2226 or

Sky Sport & Spa
If you like to burn fat with a view, this penthouse gym overlooking the LA skyline, this is the spot for you. Jimmy Franklin has worked as Jackie Warner’s personal trainer (last scene on Bravo’s Work Out) and will custom-design a regimen based on your body shape from apple to pear that incorporate compound movements to tone your muscle fast.

Sky Sport Spa, 8500 Wilshire Blvd; Penthouse, Beverly Hills (323-459-1676 or

Dion The Trainer
Burn to the beat with multi-talented trainer to the stars Dion Jackson who also composes funky tracks for his straight forward circuit training with aerobics, crunches, weights and running – or personal fitness sessions that end with a massage. Think bods like JLo and Pam Anderson who are clients.

1538 N Fairfax Ave, Hollywood (323- 876-0854 or

This Rocky style work out combines high intensity boxing with cute pink and black weighted gloves (don’t worry they are only a half-pound each) with the current workout regime of choice – pilates. During active recovery – when your heart rate is up, the standing pilates follow several rounds of rigorous boxing moves.

Piloxing, 4129 Cahuenga Blvd., Toluca Lake (818-762-8855 or

Known for spinning and yoga classes, if you want really toned arms, abs and butt, take Kimberly Foweler’s new RIPPED Yoga class with 3 pound weights. Downward dog, sitting tree and the warrior take on a whole new level when you’re lifting hand held weights in between and during postures.

YAS, 1101 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice (310-396-6993 or

The Studio (MDR
Just steps from muscle beach, Sebastien Lagree’s SPX/System Dynamique workout is transforming bodies using elements of pilates, cardio training and weight-bearing activity with state of the art Megaformers. Ask for trainer Ky Eveans who will take you through 50 moves in 50 flowing minutes – think ‘crossfit’ without the impact on your joints.

The Studio (MDR) 330 Washington Blvd, Unit C; Marina Del Rey (310-561-9814 or

Pilates Platinum –  Spinlates
These small pristine studios are popping up around town from Brentwood to Hollywood. This is not your typical pilates workout lying flat on your back but more of a circuit training workout combining 30 minutes of SPX Pilates and 30 minutes of spinning.  Just ask for “the 30/30” or “spinlates” training.

Platinum Pilates, 11755 Wilshire Blvd, Suite 60 Brentwood (323-466-0309 or

Santa Monica Bike Path
If you loath the idea of being trapped inside a gym and love the great outdoors, yet don’t want to get eaten by a coyote in the canyon, the bike path runs from the Marina to Malibu. You can cruise for over eight miles by the ocean and, as long as you have a bike, it’s free.

For more information go to: