Sunday, November 22, 2009

All Things Must Move - Including the JUARA Blogsite -Metta Murdaya

NOTICE: WE ARE MOVING! Please bookmark for our NEW blog home and follow us there!

(You can now also get there by clicking on "BLOG" at the top of our webpage -

Jill just posted her favorite snack for the busy, so check that out. Stay tuned as we're committed to posting more interesting tidbits (or we think it is...) about all sorts of things JUARA or JUARA Girl related. We take requests too - so bring them on. Either post or write to if you have any thoughts.
See you there!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Snack Food that Keeps Me Going - Metta Murdaya

I was attending an acroyoga workshop in Tucson, AZ when I was turned onto this healthy, tasty treat – filling enough to cut hunger and give me energy to practice for hours, but light enough to not weigh me down. Gives me plenty of energy and brainpower to focus on running a skincare company too! An unconventional combo, it was a seaweed wrap with avocado, leafy salad veggies and sprinkled with a seasoning blend of nutritional yeast, black sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, and sea salt. Absolutely delicious, it has a lovely savory flavor from the blend of sea salt and nutritional yeast (which contains a chock full of Vitamin B), rich, buttery avocado (containing good fats,) and leafy greens for a filling, but light, vitamin packed crunch. (I use spinach or a spring mix, but you can mix it up with anything.) It’s so easy to make too – just pre-mix the seasonings in a jar, keep it at home or take to work - which I do. If you are what you eat, I'll take the benefits of this ingredient combo!

Seasoning mix (This is totally to taste, so adjust according to yours):
* Nutritional Yeast – 1 cup
* Sea Salt – Add so a taste of the yeast/salt combo tastes almost but not as salty as a bouillon cube. Remember you’re sprinkling this on mild flavored foods.
* Pumpkin Seeds – ¼ cup (I like lots of seeds, so per small teaspoon, I get about 3-seeds in my mix.)
* Black Sesame Seeds – 3 tablespoons

Mix it all up, and store in an airtight container, like a used jam jar.
To make the roll, lay out a sheet of seaweed, put on some avocado slices, leafy greens, and sprinkle about 1 full teaspoon of the seasoning on it, roll and eat away! I love it cuz I can customize it to what I have. If I need something a little more hearty, I’ll add some Monterey Jack cheese to it, or an egg. I’ve even used tofu as well. Get creative! It’s delicious, healthy, so easy to make, and pretty hard to get wrong. Enjoy!!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

JUARA Product Videos - Metta Murdaya

If picture tells a thousand words, imagine what a moving picture can do. Well, I guess it only tells however many words the speaker says (duh.) But I find in the world of skincare, sometimes words just aren't enough. How many times have I explained to people "this is what it is, this is what it does, and this is why it's great for you," and only the moment when they see/touch/apply/slather/splash (you choose) it on, do they then get it. And by "get it," I mean REALLY understand what it means, what it feels like, what the product is really truly about and why they fall in love with it. The same way that you read a description of an ice cream flavor, and all the poetry just doesn't do the same as giving you a quick taste.
Although I, Yoshiko, and Jill all love meeting people and talking shop about products, sharing skin concerns and helping recommend what's best for them, unfortunately we have to often rely on our samples and lengthy descriptions on the sides of boxes and such to impart to our passion and the real benefits of the product. (And just because our packaging is in French and English doesn't exactly mean that we're hitting 2x the crowd, belive me.) And although descriptive, words on a page may not as easily convey how the products are used and their real benefits, since we do use unique Indonesian ingredients and have a different twist on traditional products (like our Tamarind Tea Hyrdating Toner, for example - no cotton ball needed!) To share our own enthusiasm for our products and bare it all for you in the next best way if we can't give you a hand massage in person, we decided to make some home-grown how-to videos of each product in our own, candid words, with no scripts, no editing, just raw, unadulterated us. In our quirky or dorky modes, we show it as it is. Consider it a sister-to-sister 'this is what this goodie is about' quick video. (Assuming you wanted to talk about products, of course :) ) The videos are found on the individual product pages of our website (or on youtube if you search 'juara skincare.') Not all products have a video yet, but we're getting there...
You'll notice we don't have a hollywood budget, (not even microphones!) Our 'set' is Yoshiko's apartment. Our 'makeup' is well... none, really. Our 'lighting' from the windows before noon, and the 'super high-tech recording gear (ha!)' is my trusty little $125 flip video camera and imovie software in my mac. You won't see me in as many videos as my partners Yoshiko and Jill, but that's because yours truly is working the camera. But we don't think you don't need superstar production quality to explain how our products work and why we're in love with them ourselves; we just hope you appreciate the 'down to earth' production quality, shall we say...
Why even do this? Girls, let's face it - at the end of the day, this is not a power tool we're selling, or a really cool kitchen appliance (love them!) This is an intimate product (and I don't mean that kind if intimate, ahem...) We're talking about taking care of the biggest organ on our body, this porous, living, breathing surface we call skin. We want to make sure you understand our JUARA products, have the right expectations and understanding so there's no disappointment but instead a curiosity and joy to try, and happiness with the results, and if we can't tell you in person with our bag of JUARA, video is the next best thing to showing you. Keeping skin healthy is not only important to our physical health, but also affects mental health - things like self confidence, feeling youthful - all these can be affected by how we look. I'm not going to tout the importance of outer beauty to being the key to happiness, but quite the opposite - beauty comes from within, having confidence in yourself, and great, glowing skin can really bring out your inner radiance - so however we can make that happen for you, let us know and we'll do it! But now, it starts, one homeade video at a time.

If you have a product you'd like to see a video on, or any suggestions on them, please let me know at!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Get your skin in shape, literally, with Skin Fitness Specialist Julie Lindh - Yoshiko Roth-Hidalgo

YOSHIKO ROTH-HIDALGO'S FACIAL EXPERIENCE: I am quite the skeptic when it comes to facials, perhaps because of how sensitive my skin is, but when my business partner Metta came to work one day with buttery soft skin and feeling like her face had been “magically lifted a couple of inches”, I was intrigued. Metta had gotten the facial with Julie Lindh, who is considered one of the most sought-after natural facial rejuvenation experts in NYC. Of Indonesian and Swedish descent, Julie prefers to call herself a skin fitness specialist rather than aesthetician, since her specialty is to add a fitness dimension to her clients’ faces.

I met Julie at Yelo Spa in NYC on 57th Street near Columbus Circle where she sees most of her clients. The first thing you notice about her: Killer skin! The second thing: Julie is brutally honest… no euphemisms there. “You have a lot of calluses on your skin,” she remarks after feeling my skin. Excuse me? “I’ve stopped calling it dead skin cells because my clients don’t really understand. When I call it callus, which is what it really is, they think of their feet and really understand how important it is to remove it.” Indeed, the visual of my cracked heels makes me anxious to exfoliate…

“I call myself a skin fitness specialist because I incorporate machines in all my facials and because like a personal fitness trainer, I teach my clients and their skin. I am not about applying a couple of masks, massaging your skin and making you just feel good. My skin fitness approach is about targeting all 3 layers of your face:
1) First: correct imperfections on the surface: acne, discoloration, wrinkles, etc.
2) Second is prevention: repairing your collagen, strengthening your fibroblast.
3) Third is renovation: Perk things up, build muscle, correct the contours of your face. Here is where I use my photon light current machine which helps stimulate the muscles and create the lift. I start with a low current and increase with subsequent sessions, the same way that a personal fitness trainer will get you started on 5 lb dumbbells and increases the weights to keep your muscles challenged and stimulated. When I do repeated treatments on a client, I may even advise her to eat more protein to feed the muscles. It really is a fitness approach.”

About Julie’s candidness: “If you’re afraid to hear the truth, then Julie is not the person for you. But if you’re ready to get inspired by my approach, I will educate you more deeply, teach your body, your skin and most importantly tell you why I do what I do. I asked her what she considered the most common skincare mistake: “Most people just follow the latest trends, focus on quick fixes, get impatient when they don’t see instant results and then overdose on pretty much anything that promises a short cut. I tell my clients ‘Look at yourself in the mirror everyday of your life and ask yourself everyday how do I want to look in 5 years.’” This common mistake does apparently not apply to Asian clients. “Because Asian skin is so sensitive and takes so much longer to heal, Asian women are very risk averse and won’t try as many new things. For example, they will only use Asian skincare lines but don’t realize that there are differences amongst Asian skin types, too, and they don’t really consider how their individual lifestyle and emotional state has an influence as well. Because Asians are so risk averse with their skincare, they need to find the right person they can trust, in order to try a new approach.”

Freshly inspired by Julie’s philosophy, I laid down on the facials table. Due to my pregnancy, Julie was not able to use the micro current machine on me, but instead targeted the bumps and “calluses” on my skin. She resurfaced my skin with crushed diamonds, followed by a milk acid peel which stung quite a bit. “Breathe… be strong.” She ordered. I took a deep breath and tried to recall Metta’s buttery soft skin. She finally relieved the stinging with a neutralizer, continued with extractions and completed the process by lightly scraping over my face with what felt like a smooth blade. It felt strangely therapeutic. “This is one of my most popular resurfacing treatments, called epidermal leveling. Not a lot of spas offer this service because you have to be exceptionally skilled.” Epidermal leveling is a unique and ancient resurfacing method considered a great exfoliating option for sensitive skin as it does not break capillaries or compromise healthy skin tissue. It not only removes dead skin cells, minimizes fine lines, depth of scars and slowly sloughs off discoloration on the skin, but it also removes unwanted facial hair, which results in a much brighter, even complexion. When Julie was done, not only was my skin buttery soft, but my cheek and chin area looked a couple of shades brighter, since all that fine facial hair was gone. “Don’t worry, it’ll grow back soft, not stubbly,” she said, as if she read my mind.

Enjoy a Complimentary Lindh-Juara Mini-Lift Facial @ Yelo NYC (Sept 2009 ONLY.) Based on Julie Lindh’s Skin Fitness method, the anti-aging specialist incorporates JUARA with her secret techniques which deliver immediate results you can see and feel. This mini-lift facial will revive tired skin, detoxify pores and make you look years younger in one session. This special offer is only available for the first 50 people to redeem this offer in September 2009. Reservations required. Call Yelo Spa at 212-245-8235 to make a reservation. For questions about the facial, please visit or contact Julie Lindh at

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Indonesian facial acupressure = let's look younger! - Metta Murdaya

A friend of mine once told me she saw a woman in a mall in Indonesia who looked remarkably like a much younger version of another friend of hers, known to look the part of an overdone party-goer. You know that look; it's the "too much sun, cigarettes, alcohol, (and you can imagine what else) - with probably way too little sleep and recovery maintenance" look. I believe the term was 'she looked 25 going on 40.' She didn't think twice that it could have been the same person - until a common friend said she was. How did she turn back the clock from years of partying to look younger and healthy over only a few months? Egads. Cosmetic surgery? Apparently not. Her secret? She had been getting the Totok Aura Wajah treatment regularly, which is a form of a traditional Indonesian facial acupressure. Upon hearing that, I of course, thought "I have to try me some of that!" In Jakarta, I found a place that was owned by a family who's father is a master at this craft, Totok Aura - which is a combination of traditional acupuncture + Javanese massage that works to optimize your body's energetic pathways, stimulating your body's organs and nerves so they can work at its optimal levels, leaving your body at its healthiest. (No needles are used, just fingers of the therapist.) This treatment can be for your face, body, and other specialized areas to bring out inner beauty through bringing out your healthy energy in a natural way. In a small, clean building in the Bekasi area of Jakarta, this no-frills, professional, local establishment had several trained therapists to perform this treatment - which is nothing like I'd ever felt before. My therapist, Anita, started with systematically working on key pressure points on my face, starting with my chin, going around the outside of my face, then towards the forehead and around - I wasn't familiar with the pattern her fingers were moving in around my face, but it was indeed relaxing and energizing at the same time. I felt my skin and the muscles below stimulated. Her fingers were amazingly strong; she was about half my size but boy, the power emanating from her fingers was deep, calming, and intense. The facial treatment was 45 minutes long, and it included (at the end,) a homeade fresh strawberry mask that was applied to the face to 'infuse the skin with vitamins,' she said. It was delightfully refreshing. After the treatment - how did I feel? Imagine how you feel after a good workout, but without the out-of-breathness or sweat. That's how I felt. Pretty awesome. My skin felt tighter because I felt the muscles below were more awake, and I couldn't help smiling about it. I could see how regular sessions could make a difference, as with many other Eastern medicine inspired treatments. The holistic benefits of the Totok Aura Wajah are as follows, according to traditional claims:
- Increases circulation, (increased fresh oxygen brought to the area makes skin radiant and glowing.)
- Helps maintain a youthful appearance and helps prevent wrinkles.
- Increases/restores skin's elasticity and suppleness (no skin sagging!)
- Decreases insomnia, strengthens muscles in the face.
- Helps treat headakes, migranes, and vertigo from sinusitis.
- Naturally increases/brings out natural beauty.
(By the way, there are other Totok Aura treatments focusing on the body, breast area, vaginal area (fer real!) and for men, well you can guess where. No dirty thoughts please, it's all for inner health benefits.) This treatment doesn't replace regular facials, but definitely complements them.
I spoke to Dita (daughter of owner) and Ririe (cousin of Dita) about how one trains to be a therapist. She said the first part is to learn how to meditate and control your breathing, as it is in the power of breath that the steady strength and effectiveness of the accupressure (done by the fingers) is controlled. She said one of the requirements is with strength of breath alone, these therapists have to be able to dent a green (not red!) apple with their fingers without nails, and without bending fingers for levarage. (Reminds me of the wax-on, wax-off Karate Kid exercises that train for real battle, ha.) But it's true. Different fingers are used to press on the client depending on the size of the nerve or area targeted. The complexity of the treatment was clearly way deeper than what I could feel on the table, but the effects felt pretty extraordinary. Unfortunately, I don't think it's available in the US, so I resort to a healthy diet, yoga, and taking care of my skin with the JUARA Back to Basics set. But if anyone is in Jakarta and wants to give it a go, I recommend where I went:

Name: Grya Aura (pronounced: gree-ah ah-oo-rah)
Address: Jalan Jatiwaringin, Komp. AURI Waringing Permai, Blok A No. 11, Jakarta Timur.
Tel: +62.21.8616184 (I suggest you call for reservations and directions.)
Email: (And they have a facebook page)
(There are other places that are fancier and costlier, but I thought this place was pretty much the real deal. Good stuff.)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Most Natural Exfoliators, not for the squeamish. - Metta Murdaya

So much of the time we talk about how to best exfoliate skin, how get rid of the dead skin and impurities without drying out or scratching and irritating the skin, etc. Technology and natural botanicals can play together in the form of peels, scrubs, washes, etc. But if you're an adventurous soul, come to Asia and try something different - experience the Garra Fish. Little fish that nibble on you and remove your dead skin cells. Your trash is someone else's treasure, and not to mention, food. This, I thought, was the ultimate in sustainability and symbiosis. When I first put my feet in the pool swarming with these fish, I admit I was a bit skeeved. (That's my leg in the picture!) Seeing fish swarm around, gravitating to an incoming leg the way goldfish swim to the surface when they see food was a bit disarming. I had an Empire Strikes Back flashback to the trash compactor scene where Luke and Lea have to contend with creepy crawlies swimming in the dark water they were wading in - except the walls weren't closing in on me (oh yay.) I went with my cousin, and after taking a deep breath, we plunged our feet into the pool of these mini-piranha looking creatures. Yes, I cringed. Yes, I burst out in uncontrolled operatic yelps. Yes, I had to remind my cousin, "keep your hysteria down and for the love of not embarrassing ourselves, scream on the inside!" But after 5 minutes of thinking of pretty clouds and cute puppies, counting to 10 forwards and backwards to stop hyperventilating, I actually got used to the fish and quickly became fond of them. I was cheering them on, "More more! Eat more dead skin! Clean me up!" My cousin was looking fresh skin on her legs, dipping them deeper to attract more fish. After a while, it was really fun. We could see the fish nibbling on our legs, gobbling away, and they did look like they were kissing us rapidly. Admittedly, they were kind of cute. We were laughing and mesmerized. And after we left, our skin was not only incredibly wonderfully smooth, more so than if we used a body scrub - but was is not dry at all! That's the best part. Body scrubs can either be drying or oily, but this gentle and FUN experience left our legs comfortably smooth. All we did was rinse our legs, put on our sandals, and be on our merry way.
Garra Fish / Fish Spa quick facts:
Origin: Hot springs near Kongal, Turkey
Good for: People who want to exfoliate skin, especially people with eczema, psoriasis. People who want a different experience. (Not good for the squeamish, but I still say worth a shot!)
How it got popular: Japanese and Koreans popularized the fish in the form of fish spas. Fish spas can be found also in Singapore, (where I was,) Malaysia, and China.
Where I went: Singapore: Kenko Fish Spa.
You can find these spas in other parts of Asia. If you have gone to one, tell us of your experience and where you went!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

What to do with pregnancy acne? Some tips and guidelines. - Yoshiko Roth-Hidalgo

I am happy to say that I have had a very easy pregnancy so far, knock on wood. Except my skin. Before I got pregnant, I had dry, very sensitive skin with mild rosacea. Now, I have very oily skin with break outs. We probably all remember our anti-acne program from back when we were teenagers, but what is a woman to do with pregnancy-induced skin problems? What's safe, what's not?

Is it safe to use medicated acne products?
The most common anti-acne ingredients you can get without prescription are Salicylic Acid, also known as Beta Hydroxy Acid, and Benzoyl Peroxide. Salicylic is actually a part of the aspirin family and therefore not recommended during pregnancy. The same applies to Benzoyl Peroxide, which kills acne bacteria, However, with both ingredients, it does depends on how much of it you use and how often. In my research, I read that small amounts of topical salycilic acid or benzoly peroxide are considered safe. Therefore, I occasionally use a spot treatment with 1% Salicylic Acid to target a particularly nasty break-out. Other than that steer clear of medicated product.

There are a few other non-prescription ingredients to be aware of, especially because they are not considered medicated and could easily be overlooked. These include Retinol, Retinaldehyde or Retinyl Palmitate, all Vitamin A or Vitamin A derivatives except Beta Carotene. These ingredients are mostly found in potent anti-aging products, but there are also anti-acne products that contain these ingredients, especially since they help with help minimize the discoloration associate with acne-scarring.

It goes without saying that pregnant women should only use prescription strength acne products if your doctor gives you the green light.

An important point to consider: You skin becomes more sensitive to the sun during pregnancy. Medicated ingredients carry a risk of causing a reaction together with UV light, so now you have to be even more careful to protect yourself from the sun when you use medicated products.

Which JUARA products do I use now that my skin is so dramatically different from before pregnancy?

Gentle Cleansing
I always knew based on other people's testimonicals that our Rice Facial Cleanser is suitable for all skin types, now I really know it first-hand. I loved our cleanser back when I had dry skin and I love it now that I have oily skin. It's simply a great, effective, gentle cleanser. Can't live with out it!

Oil-free moisturizers with anti-aging benefits
I realize it’s hard to find a moisturizer that is suitable for oily skin AND also has real anti-aging benefits. Our oil-free Sweet Black Tea & Ginger Mattefying Moisturizer is it for me. It has just the right amount of hydration with Hyaluronic Acid, it feels light and really does give you a nice matte finish. The ingredients are natural and give anti-aging and oil-balancing benefits.

Deep cleansing clay masks
Now that I have such problematic skin, I absolutely love our Milk & Red Sandalwood Facial Mask. It gives my skin clean, matte look and also calms down some acne-related blotchiness, while acne-bumps seem much less noticeable after only 1 treatment. BTW, this mask is also great as a natural spot treatment. Just mix a little bit of powder with a drop of water, create a paste and put it on the pimples.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Coming Together - Metta Murdaya

One of the favorite things I enjoy most owning and running a business is meeting interesting, motivated, passionate women who are inspired by something they do or have created. Sometimes they're more quirky characters, like a woman I had met at a tradeshow who cultivated dirt and insisted on giving me her business card that had a bag of dirt attached to it (she was so enthusiastic!) while others may circle the world of entrepreneurs - jewelry designers, fragrance makers, tech company founders, independent consultants, and more. But not only do I find who I meet is interesting, but sometimes it is how I meet them is that is special.

Earlier this year, a journalist, Karen Zusman, was writing a story for Organic Beauty magazine about Indonesian spa tradition and she was looking for people well versed in Indonesian beauty rituals. Through this, my name was passed to her through Kim Collier, the lovely, highly knowledgeable owner of the spa/bodycare line Jamu, (thanks Kim!) along with Susan Jane Beers - the author of the book "JAMU: The Ancient Art of Herbal Healing," who has written, to my knowledge, the only comprehensive, pleasantly informative, and easy to read book about the JAMU tradition in English. Needless to say, back in the early and pre-JUARA days, I devoured the book, using it as an inspiration, along with other more technical books in Indonesian. I've even given the book to the beauty editors of magazines, in hopes they'll also fall in love with and understand the richness and beauty of Indonesian herbal and beauty tradition. (That's why JUARA is so authentic - it's really that amazing back home!) I have never met Susan before, as I knew she doesn't reside in the US, but through the connection of this article, Susan reached out to me, which suprised me, yet made me really happy. And so I find out, lo and behold - she resides in Singapore, a place I go to every year in my transit to Jakarta! So 6 months after email correspondence with the author of the book who I have always held dear, we met for coffee at a cafe in Singapore. How global. We had so much to talk about - her life is so different than mine now, but how how common interests can bond. And just last week, I was in Indonesia again, and again, we were able to connect, 6 months after our first meeting, this time in a Thai restaurant in Jakarta. We had a great time and I so enjoyed speaking with her, which is a nice reminder that despite my hectic days in NY, where connections with people often stem from convenience of schedules, that sometimes people can bond over space/time from common passions. It's really refreshing. So, we part until our next meal together... I wonder where in the world that may be, but I'm looking forward to it!

Susan's book, JAMU: The Ancient Art of Herbal Healing is available at here.
Tidbits of the article in Organic Beauty can be seen here. For all JUARA press, visit:

Friday, June 5, 2009

Ingredients for Healthy Skin AND Healthy Singing! – Michael Montalbano

We at JUARA talk all the time about the hyaluronic acid contained both in our Tamarind Tea Hydrating Toner and the new Sweet Black Tea & Ginger Mattefying Moisturizer. This active water-binding ingredient is found naturally in many places, including the seed of the tamarind fruit, but what you may not know is that it occurs naturally in our bodies too! Crazy, right?

You know what's even crazier? The amount of hyaluronic acid your body naturally produces can affect the human voice in singing. I personally have gotten very interested in the study of vocal pedagogy over the last few years, finding out how the human voice physically works and how it applies to singing instruction. I never expected to find mention of this JUARA ingredient in my vocal studies!

When you use your voice, your vocal cords slam together and move apart hundreds of times per second. That can cause a lot of damage to those tiny folds of skin if they don't have some defense against fatigue and injury. The superficial layers of the vocal folds are where most ordinary vibration occurs, and they are also where hyaluronic acid is found. Essentially, hyaluronic acid helps your vocal cords bounce back to their original shape, avoiding injury and disfiguration.

*Quick sidebar: Hyaluronic acid is also contained in the human eyeball. If you want to feel first-hand how it helps your body bounce back, close your eye and press gently on it with your finger. When it returns to its original shape, that’s partially due to the hyaluronic acid at work!*

Different people are born with different levels of hyaluronic acid (along with many other varying components in the anatomy of their vocal cords). Generally, those born with more hyaluronic acid in their cords have more resilient voices that can stand up to more pressurized singing and still resist injury. This component contributes to reasons why some people are more predisposed to have bigger, heavier voices naturally. They can sing with somewhat more weight in their voices without wrecking the instrument. Of course, they still can't go crazy and start singing with no regard for vocal health, but it does mean that they can get away with a little bit more than those with less hyaluronic acid ;-).

So what do we do with this information? Start chugging JUARA toner and singing our faces off? Well, not only would that be a rather expensive drink ($27 per bottle is a bargain when you're using one pump per application on your skin, but gets a little pricey for a drink...), but it also probably wouldn't change the amounts of hyaluronic acid your body naturally produces in the vocal cords. Drat!

We do, however, now have some fun information on how one of JUARA's star active ingredients plays a part in many stars of the entertainment industry. Remember, though, just because someone has a slightly more resilient anatomy doesn't mean it's not important to sing healthily in order to have a lasting instrument!


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Congratulations to Angela Huston for winning JUARA's Mother's Day 2009 Contest

Thank you everybody for submitting your beautiful stories about why your mom is the best. There were several amazing essays to choose from. In the end, Angela Huston's touching story about her mother impressed us so much that we crowned her the winner of our Mother's Day 2009 Contest. Angela and her mother will each receive a $50 JUARA gift certificate to redeem on our site. Congratulations Angela! It is our pleasure to share with all of you her beautiful story and hope that it inspires you as much as it has inspired us.

Why my Mom is #1!

My Mom is the best Mom in the world because of THOUSANDS of reasons. First, she worked harder than most to become a mom. You see, she was unable to conceive and thus turned to adoption. After many years and heartbreak (one child she had for 4 months was taken back by his birth mother) she finally persevered in having a family when she adopted me. She was wonderful from day 1, always there for me 1000% of the time. I cannot remember a moment in my childhood when I doubted my mother's love or support of me. What makes her such a tremendous mother is because she is truly an amazing human being. Many years ago there was a neighbor family that was devastated by the death of the father; seeing the mother suffer a nervous breakdown and having no family nearby to help, my mother offered to take care of the preteen son, and he lived with us for a year. That is just one example of how generous my mother is. Recently, in her 60's, my mother helped a student from the college she works at. The student could not afford to stay in school and pay for rent but she refused to let him withdraw from College...My mom moved him into her house and gave him a room to stay in rent free for the remainder of his education! Her greatest lessons are not in what she told me but what she has SHOWN me. Now in her 70's, my mother continues to show my children what being a great human being is. Some may say she became my mother by chance, but I believe that some higher power had a hand in granting me the world's best mother! I thank God for her every day, and hope that I become half the human being that my mother is.

Angela Huston

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Make Magic Fizzy Tea aka Kombucha - Metta Murdaya

I've been drinking Kombucha, the active ingredient in our Sweet Black Tea series, (moisturizer, eye creme, lip treatment,) for quite some time now with positive results; I have more energy, a more balanced appetite as I swear it curbs my guilty snacking desire and more. Needless to say, I'm a fan. So to add to my growing (no pun intended) "I'm going to grow something" kick which includes nurturing indestructable houseplants, I decided to brew Kombucha.This concoction is a healthful brew of black tea, sugar, and a special "mushroom," that is called a SCOBY (acronym for Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast,) that ferments together over time to create a yummy, tangy, carbonated beverage that contains healthy organic acids that can seriously improve your energy levels, digestion, and provide many other health benefits. Now I say grow because at the end of the brewing process, the mother scoby actually grows, or creates, a new baby scoby you can use or give away! Despite the safe history of home brews for over 2000 years, I didn't want to be the clueless idiot who screwed it up, a trepidation I admittedly felt. My consolation is that I have historical averages on my side - if I followed directons and kept everything clean, how badly could it go? The first batch where I combined the 'mother' scoby, black tea and sugar, the fermentation, which takes usually 5-10 days before happy drinkability, took about 2 weeks thanks to freezing New York end-of-winter weather. It resides on my fridge in a jar, and wow - it's fun to watch develop. Day 1 it was clear. By day 3, I would shine a light through the tea, and it was cloudy, like the submarine in ocean depths of the Hunt for Red October. Mother scoby was kicking off all sorts of growth, and I saw strands aiming for the surface, where the baby scoby gets created and covers the whole surface of the liquid. So little jar, little baby scoby. Wide jar, wide scoby. I didn't think about this when I bought my 2-gallon jar, so now I'm going to get a fantastic scoby the size of a frisbee. Not so aw-how-cute, but definitely woah-huge impressive. Day 5, I notice a film starting to grow at the top, some scary looking discolored yeast/bacteria formations, bubbles and a slightly sourish smell. I thought it was time to panic, thinking something had gone wrong. But after some research, I realize it's all good and accepted the fact making kombucha was not going to be pretty like watching your chocolate cake batter rise in the oven. But so much more fun. It's dynamic. Zip to the last day, when air bubbles have formed (like in soda,) baby scoby is a thin film, smooth and tan-cream colored, and it's ready to go. Voila!
As the weather gets warmer (oh finally!), and so does my apartment, each batch has only taken about a week to fully ferment to bottlable, shareable, yummy drinkable fizzy healthy tea. When it's done, I bottle it in a GLASS bottle (no plastic, ceramic, metal, etc.) only and keep in fridge to avoid overfermentation/too much gas build if it sits in a heated area for too long (glass shattering has been reported though I've never experienced it... oops) and enjoy! I'm now on my 5th batch or so, I've lost count, my baby scobies have created new ones, and I've gotten requests for my scobies that I'll gladly give away to proliferate scobies the size of frisbees in my neighborhood.
Ideas I've gotten to mix the Kombucha with - I like straight, or with apple juice and cranberry juice. So easy to search online on how to make it, and all I have to say is, if I can do it, so can anyone. Give it a go - if nothing else, it makes for great party conversation! To your health!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Are You Really Eating Healthy? - Jill Sung

It occurred to me recently that I might not be eating as healthily as I think I am. Random events with free cookies, the candy hand-out at work every now and then, and lattes pepper my diet occasionally...or at least I think they do. So I came up with the idea of keeping track of what I eat. I know a food diary is a pretty common idea for keeping track of what you eat if you're trying to lose weight, but I never thought to use it just to double check that my eating habits really are as healthy as I think they are. I've been keeping my food diary as a spreadsheet on Google Documents ( - so that I can fill out the diary anywhere I have access to the internet (home, work, etc.). The beauty of it, I also keep track of my spending habits and exercise habits as well.
I've been keeping track for a month now, and sugar does tend to find its way into my diet more than I had thought. Now I know, and I'll be keeping an eye out for sugar. I'll check back in a month and see if I've improved. Or let me know if there's any other bad habits you think I should keep track of!


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Productive walking?! - Jill Sung

I love moving around and the concept of exercising, but can’t get myself to walk into a gym. The utter dread of exercising in a room full of strangers for an hour is related more to boredom and time moving so slowly than anything else. When I walk around the city, I’m energized by the small traces of life I see all around me, whether it be street graffiti, people talking animatedly on the streets, or the rare brave squirrel that makes it past the gated clumps of grassy gardens we New Yorkers love. Don’t get me wrong, I love walking in the forest and the suburbs too, it’s the diversity of life and living around me that I love. But I’ve come up with something new since I can’t bring myself to walk into a gym and enjoy it for more than 1 week. I’ve discovered body weights. ( Weight training is super important for body health, especially as we age. It helps to build strong bones, which our bodies depend more on from weight training than drinking in calcium (ie. Milk) as we age. And you burn more calories when you're walking around with weights on. It's a win win. Plus wearable weights are perfect for the winter when I'm wearing warm clothes (at home or work) No one can tell I'm wearing them on my forearms or calves under my clothing. So just don't tell my work mates I'm working out while working with them. And someone please help me come up with a solution for the summer!


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Tip: Make Your Favorite Moisturizer Last Longer - Metta Murdaya

We just had an amazingly fun and successful event on February 4th with Three Custom Colors makeup line and Red Market Salon NYC, and all I have to say is I'm so excited that even in this cold and freezing New York weather, we had a line out the door before the event started! Having the weather forecast say it was going to be one of the coldest evenings of the year made us anxious that no one would want to trek out for a beauty party. But the anxiety of an empty room became a feeling of excitement when the stream of people arrived! For those who waited in the freezing cold to get in, congratulations and kudos, because 20 degrees is seriously no picnic. We offered free make-overs, skincare consultations, and free hair blow-outs, goodie bags and drinks. Everyone from clients to beauty editors came to revel in a night of primping and pampering. It was really fun. My take-away: Despite the recessional woe-is-the-world news, doom-and-gloom hunker down and save nervousness - let's face it, whenever we can have an opportunity to look and feel beautiful, we'll take it. Beauty and healthy skin inspired confidence - and how to do that now when everyone's watching their wallets? I spoke to a few women who were avid Creme de La Mer fans. They said as much as they loved using it, they didn't want to use so much that it would run out quickly, especially these days!

So their question was how does one get beautiful, perfectly hydrated skin without skimping on their fave pricey and lovely moisturizer? By using our JUARA Tamarind Tea Hyrdating Toner before applying the moisturizer! The toner is the perfect addition to make a favorite moisturizer last longer, since it's a hydrating elixir that soothes and adds oil-free moisture to your skin, addressing the dehydration that we all face, enabling one to use less of their La Mer (or other favorite) moisturizer while acheiving the same results. Unlike the old-school toners which have alcohol and can strip and overdry skin, think of the JUARA Tamarind Tea Hydrating Toner more as the first step to moisturizing rather than the last step of cleansing. Alcohol-free, fragrance-free and filled with a chock of hyaluronic acid and tamarind seed extract to hydrate and increase suppleness of skin, this natural and silky liquid will absorb quickly into your skin. Then you can seal all that goodness with your favorite moisturizer; you won't need as much since the toner has already given your skin a head start with hyrdation. And at $27 a bottle, this no-cotton-ball-needed toner in a pump will go a long way. (Why waste the precious liquid on a cotton ball anyway, we ask?) No need to spend a million bucks to look like it. That's our recession tip!

Does anyone else have any suggestions on how to make their favorite products last longer?
And if you are in NY and would like to be invited to our next exciting party, please sign up on our mailing list here!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

REAL SIMPLE Part 2! How to simply adapt your skincare program to extreme weather conditions - Yoshiko Roth

I absolutely love my 1-2-3 basics (see my previous posting): Rice Facial Cleanser, Tamarind Toner and Sweet Black Tea & Rice Moisturizer. It is so simple, quick, easy, and it was spot-on perfect for my normal-to-dry skin before the crazy arctic temperature change in New York a few weeks ago.

When the arctic wave hit, my skin needed more! The dry, cold wind through the wind tunnels of NYC were wreaking havoc on my skin. I still loved my Sweet Black Tea & Rice Moisturizer because it boost my radiance and smoothes my skin and wears superbly under foundation, but it just wasn’t rich enough for this type of extreme cold. My mother, also a health and skincare nut, had a great idea. “Why don’t you just mix a few drops of facial oil with the moisturizer to make it more emollient?” How simple is that! I tried it right away the same night and a single drop added to my hazelnut-sized amount of moisturizer made ALL the difference. So I started incorporating it daily: 1 drop of oil in the morning, 2 drops at night. Perfect!

My mother knows I am obsessed with travel-sizes and mini-sizes of product. The smaller and cuter, the better! After she suggested the added-oil treatment for my skin, she actually found the tiniest, most adorable oil-capsules at our natural drugstore back in Germany and mailed them to me. These capsules are about half the size of a finger nail and contain 2-3 drops of pure rose-hip oil (Alverde Wildrosenoel-Kapseln) and are perfect for travel. They are tiny and never leak! Going back to my obsession of fitting my entire beauty regimen into a quart-size zip lock bag when I travel: Now, with my cleanser, toner, moisturizer and oil-capsules, I can carry around a skincare program in a single zippy bag that is good for hot-humid weather all the way to arctic-dry winter climate. It is my completely customizable skincare program in a zippy bag! In hot-humid weather, I just use the oil-free hydrating toner alone. In normal weather, I apply the toner and moisturizer. And finally, in really extremely cold, dry climates, I use the toner followed by the moisturizer mixed with a drop of oil. I could travel the whole world with this one small zippy bag!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Art of the Cremebath. -Metta Murdaya

Now here’s a hair/spa treatment we are missing out on in the US. Imagine having big yummy bowls of creamy, dreamy, custardy botanical hair mask slathered all through your newly shampooed hair in a gloriously revitalizing head massage as you sit and relax in a comfy chair. After 20 minutes of head heaven, your hair is then wrapped in a warm, moist steamy towel as this massage wonderfully moves to your shoulders and neck, releasing all tension. Then moves down to your arms, forearms, all the way to your fingertips. Delicious olive oil and lotions are combined to create a massage oil that will give you that mmmm-give-me-more-just-right-there-oh-yes! feel as your muscles are released. (No dirty thoughts now, this is a family show!) Imagine this goes on for another 45 minutes. Try not to drool from bliss. I call this heaven. The Indonesians call it a traditional cremebath. Short of being a full spa treatment, this head-to-arm treatment is a traditional beauty ritual that you can find in many spas and salons in Indonesia. Convenient because it takes less time and doesn’t require you to disrobe, it nonetheless gives you release and pampering in just the right areas. And since we all need air hair washed, it also has a purely functional aspect to it too, rendering your hair clean, healthy and beautiful, so this treatment is very popular with the women there, myself included. After the treatment, you are served tea or Jamu, an ancient herbal health tonic, you can sip while slowly reconnecting to the world out there… where you can begin to dream about getting the next cremebath…

One can choose from a variety of conditioning masks with different traditional benefits. Their claims for the masks with following ingredients are:
Ginseng – energizing, for thinning hair
Candlenut - increases shine and darkens hair (what I chose!)
Avocado – hydrating nourishment for dry hair
Aloe Vera – straightens hair

I went with a friend of mine in Jakarta, Indonesia. Sometimes they’re in fancier salons, but ours was in a local salon with a simple Javanese theme, with batik chairs and traditional rotan furniture. We wanted to be in the same room so we could chat through the treatment, but once the fingers touched our heads, we both, as if on cue, became radio silent for the next hour, lost somewhere in “this feels so good” and “Calgon, take me away!” land. But definitely bring me back, especially after I saw the price tag on this ritual: $6. (It can go up to $15 in fancier salons/spas.) If you’re in Indonesia, I highly suggest you look for one in a salon/spa near you.


Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Roasted Candlenuts - YUM!! - Metta Murdaya

My friend in Jakarta grew up eating roasted candlenuts with her family and affectionately calls them the “poor man’s macadamia nut,” but just one bite easily shows it’s anything but. The beloved candlenut, with its elegant and velvety oils infused in our JUARA products, is rooted deep in Indonesian epicurean culture. This nut, used in many of the dishes including almost all Indonesian curries you may come across, is normally ground up and mixed with other spices. However, a little known fact is that it also happens to be delicious roasted whole. It has a light, nutty texture and has an almost-floral nut smell, if you can imagine that. It’s not quite as buttery as a macadamia nut, but has the most delicate crunch and is full of nutrients – a healthy, tasty treat! Can you tell, I'm so enjoying this little morsel of nutty goodness.

The recipe is simple. Take approximately ½ cup of candlenuts, about 1 tbsp of olive oil, a pinch of salt (to taste) and pan fry/sautee it until it becomes a nice golden brown – about 3 shades darker than its raw counterpart. Make sure it’s cooked all the way through!

If you’re wondering where to get candlenuts in the US – if you are lucky enough to be in a city with Asian markets - go to one that specializes in South East Asian cuisine.They’re sold raw and are inexpensive, about $2.00 for an 8oz bag, at least that’s the price in NY. There’s a market in Manhattan which carries hard-to-find ingredients for the cuisine of Thailand, Philippines, and Indonesia on Mulberry St. south of Canal, right north of the park, on the West side. (There’s NY directions for you…) I never did figure out the name of the store; only the words “Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia” adorn the awning. And in East Elmhurst, Queens in NY, the big supermarket which specializes in all of the above, and then some (Vietnamese, Chinese) is called Topline Supermarket, on 81–37 Broadway, Elmhurst, NY 11373. Definitely worth a look-see and then some.

If anyone has other locations they know of that carries this delectable staple, please comment and share the good news with others!

Beware: Do not eat a candlenut raw unless you want an upset tummy…