Skin Care Series: I Had Laser Treatments and Here’s What Happened

A few months ago, I shared a story about being intrigued by the possibilities in laser skin rejuvenation – especially as a thirties-close-out party was quickly approaching. If I could go back in time, I’d scare my younger-self into protecting my skin (especially my face!) from the sun. Since I can’t do that, I jumped at the opportunity to test out cutting-edge lasers including the Cutera excel V, Clear + Brilliant Permea, and Alex TriVantage lasers.  In the hands of an expert, Jennifer MacGregor, MD at Union Square Laser Dermatology, I began laser treatments to address small facial blood vessels, sunspots, sun-damage, overall complexion improvement, brightening, plus more. Three months, and three different lasers later – I’m ready to share my results.


After my initial consult, Dr. MacGregor went after the small facial blood vessels around my nose with the Cutera excel V laser. Let’s just say, instant gratification after seeing those little squiggly red lines around my nose dissipate. The full details about this laser and consultation are in a previous story. Dr. MacGregor also treated me with two other lasers:


The Clear + Brilliant Perema laser is a non-ablative laser to stimulate collagen growth and produce an overall brighter complexion, smoother texture, and even color. Often called “baby Fraxel” – this laser is super popular since it has little to no downtime. Dr.MacGregor frequently uses this laser pre-weddings and on patients requesting fantastic skin for a specific event. I had two separate appointments several weeks apart. First, a numbing cream was applied, and Dr. MacGregor went over my entire face, I found it to feel warm and not painful at all and expected to be redder than I was when the treatment was over. My skin was then treated with SkinCeuticals CE Ferulic, and sunscreen before I left the office. I could have put on makeup right away but chose to hop on the subway make-up free after all of my appointments (check out a flawless cover-up immediately post-treatment here).  I actually really liked the post-treatment feel of the numbing cream and slightly hot face. Call me strange, as I hear that most don’t care for the numbing cream sensation! Dr. MacGregor recommends the Clear + Brilliant three weeks before an important event – with a series of sessions based on specific need. I, however, found the sweet spot at the one-week mark. During the days-post treatment, my skin was dry and a bit rough but not peeling. If anything, I noticed the dryness around my crows-feet until I woke up to glowing skin a week after my treatments. I also appreciated that two lasers fit into each appointment. I had the Clear + Brilliant laser after the excel V laser in my second appointment, and again after the Alex laser (detailed below) in my third visit.


During my initial consult, Dr. MacGregor discussed the possible need for a laser stronger than the Clear + Brilliant to remove specific stubborn sun spots. After carefully examining the photos taken at the beginning of my third appointment, she lifted particular spots with the Alex TriVantage laser used to treat sun posts, freckles and age spots. She left the natural looking freckles on my nose and miraculously removed the spots that appeared in my late thirties, including pools of spots in my under eye area and several on my cheeks and cheekbones. This laser wasn’t painful, but it does require downtime to heal completely. When I left the office my sun spots were raised, swollen and angry! I noticed women on the train looking at me, and it was hard to not overshare my excitement about my laser treatments with total strangers. During the next few days, the spots became darker and more pronounced before flaking off. It looked like I had tiny flakes of mascara on parts of my face – but I went out to dinner the following day. As the spots began to lighten, I couldn’t’ believe the overall improvement in my skin.

Check out my before and after photos from October 2017 to January 2018:

To say I’m thrilled with the results is an understatement. Although it may not be evident in these concealer + foundation free photos – having the sun-spots removed under my eyes and in specific areas of my face makes me look healthier. Even with concealer, my sun-spots contributed to the look of dark circles under my eyes. I also noticed a significant improvement in my skin’s texture and complexion, as well as the lines around my eyes. I’m still the same me with much better skin!

Here’s what I learned:

  • Don’t Go for the Groupon Special:

These lasers require protective eye-wear, numbing cream and sometimes recovery. Some of the sunspots targeted with the powerful Alex laser were just centimeters away from my eyes. I can’t imagine undergoing medical treatments like these with anyone other than a sought-after expert. Laser treatments are not the time to go for a non-reputable bargain. Save that for a hobby class!

  • Choose Your Provider Wisely:

It’s important to see a highly-skilled provider to customize the right treatment plan. Dr. MacGregor closely examined the photos taken before each session in addition to my skin to tailor my treatments with specific lasers. If I went for a Clear + Brilliant only package from another provider, my outcome would not have been the same. Union Square Laser Dermatology employs the latest medical technology, including the newest lasers and energy devices catered and adjusted to each patient. Dr. MacGregor also set me on the right at-home skincare path as an essential part of the process.

  • Think of Your Desired Outcome: 

While a trip to a posh spa may leave me feeling relaxed – a lovely-feeling facial has never provided me with any sort of lasting results. For me, lasers are effective and are a much smarter investment.

Feel free to reach out with any questions or ask them in the comments below!

Thank you to Union Square Laser Dermatology for services.  Opinions, as always are my own. 



Introducing Kinder Joy: These Coveted Kinder Eggs Have Finally Come to the US

Kinder-Egg-Joy-USA-launchThis post is sponsored by Kinder. Content and opinions, as always, are my own. 

There’s no longer a need to travel overseas to pick up those coveted Kinder Eggs because Kinder Joy has finally come to America! I couldn’t wait to join Kinder at their official launch at Manhattan’s Pier 59 to get my hands on the exciting treat.


The lovely Malin Akerman joined in the excitement as the official shipment pulled into Chelsea Piers.  And she shared a sweet story of getting to finally enjoy the nostalgic treat from her childhood abroad with her son, who also came along for the Kinder festivities.

Check out the Kinder Joy shipping crates pulling into Chelsea Piers. That’s a lot of Kinder!


Eager parents couldn’t wait to introduce the treat + toy to their kiddos as the first official Kinder Joy products rolled (or sailed!) in.

Popular overseas – we’re pretty confident that Kinder Joy will soon be flying off the shelves!  Wondering what all the hype is about? Kinder Joy is a plastic egg that splits down the middle to reveal two separately sealed halves.


One side contains a treat and the other, a toy! The treat side, comprised of two soft cream layers (sweet milk-cream and cocoa), along with two chocolate-covered wafer bites – filled with sweet cocoa cream – is simply divine.  You better believe that someone licked the included spoon clean!


And the separately sealed toy side contains one of over 40 different toys – creatively designed for kids to assemble and engage in fun play alongside their parent.

Your kids will have a blast putting their little toys together.  And if you’re lucky, they’ll hopefully share the treat side with you!


I’m pretty sure that these kids love me extra when I come home with treats!  And Kinder Joy was the perfect way to add a little surprise to my littles day after returning home from a long work trip the evening prior.


I happen to love sharing in their joy (more than anything, really) too.


See ya’ in the Kinder isle!


Anime NYC 2017


When your dad whips up a pretty cool Samus Aran Varia suit and Megaman X light armor cosplay for Halloween, I suppose it’s natural to want to step into that armor more than once. And while we didn’t make it to Comi Con, the kids were super stoked to attend Anime NYC 2017 – this past weekend at the Javits Center.

At ages 7 and 9, the kids are already huge fans of Japanese animation, and it has a lot of influence in the art they create. It was our first experience at an event like this, and we were all pretty blown away with the anime superfans and the overall glimpse into anime culture.


The vibe was super positive, and most adults had a genuine curiosity in the kids’ interest in their cosplay creations. Our girl was so excited to connect with other females who have a love for Samus, and she also saw tons of her other cosplay favorite – Sailor Moon. Our Megaman X said it was the coolest day ever and both the kids were really intrigued with the otaku art on display in the artist alley.

They kept saying things like – “WOW, people really LOVE Anime!”


The kids were good sports about all the photo requests (there were a ton!).

Anime-NYC-2017- kidsanime-NYC

The highlight of our experience was stumbling in front of the Wize Guys Collectibles both when we first entered the venue. They hosted voice actor Christopher Sabat, and he actually looked up from his autographing and selfie-booth busyness to take a photo of the kids!  He then told our Samus all about his voice work in Metroid Prime and gave both kids autographed prints. Day made! It’s pretty incredible when a celebrity goes out of their way to be super kind and down to earth.


Now to convince the dad to whip up some new cosplay for next year!



Grandma Knows Best: CranMa’s Thanksgiving Hostess Tips & a Trip to Ocean Spray’s Cranberry Bog


Sponsorship provided by Ocean Spray. Thanks for reading! Content and opinions, as always, are my own.

There’s nothing like ushering in November with a trip to Rockefeller Center® to wade and dine in 1500 sq. ft. fresh cranberry bog, while getting whipped into Thanksgiving-hostess-extraordinaire shape by a team of Ocean Spray Grandmas, AKA CranMas.   As part of Ocean Spray‘s #ASKCRANMA event, a team of Thanksgiving-feast valedictorians (yup! The Cranmas who happen to be multi-generational Ocean Spray farmers) schooled me alongside other writers with hands-on instructions and no-nonsense first-time Thanksgiving hostess advice – to ensure that our holiday goes off without a hitch.  This is the 13th year that Ocean Spray has brought their iconic 2,000-pound fresh-cranberry bog to Rockefeller Center®, and it was a true treat to attend again (this time solo!) – catch last year’s fun with my kiddos here

As someone who knows that I’ll never match the level of Thanksgivings dinners produced by my mom and mother-in-law – I nod my head in understanding over common fears discovered in a recent Ocean Spray survey. 

First Time Hosting Fears

  • Not cooking the Turkey properly (under-cooking or burning).
  • Not timing things properly.
  • Not being able to live up to their parents or grandparents Thanksgivings (hello, yes!).
  • Forgetting something (important ingredient, etc.).
  • Disappointing guests and not having them enjoy the meal.


The team of CranMas is helping to squash these fears with their tried-and-true advice. Best of all? They’re dedicated to helping you! Now through Thanksgiving Day, first-time hosts (and others who want advice!) can access Facebook Chat to talk to Ocean Spray’s virtual CranMa AKA the Cranbot in real-time! I was all ears amongst CranMa Sue, Mary Ann, and Diane, as they dished out expert advice. I’m hanging on to CranMa Mary Ann’s simple yet wise words, “Thanksgiving is a time to be together and you should never lose sight of that”.


First Time Hosting Tips

  • Do as much as you can ahead of time (cooking and setting the table)!
  • Set the scene with beautiful and simple holiday hacks including a napkin ring made out of Ocean Spray® Fresh Cranberries. 
  • Welcome guests with a themed-cocktail (try Ocean Spray® Cranberry Juice Cocktail, Vodka, and Cassis.  And delight the kids with a glass of Ocean Spray® Cranberry Juice Cocktail).  
  • Consider timing when going with a frozen vs. fresh turkey (frozen takes multiple days to thaw – 1 day for every 5lbs of turkey!)
  • Most importantly, remember to focus on the togetherness and meaning of the day. Everything doesn’t have to be perfect!
  • Ocean Spray cranberry products can help to set the scene and are a healthy and delicious component of Thanksgiving meals, sides and drinks. 

You better believe that I plopped myself right into the cranberry bog -waders and all – to indulge in a pre-Thanksgiving feast! Everything was beyond delicious from the meal to the stunning decor.


A post shared by Monica Marino (@marinobambinos) on

First -time Thanksgiving host?  Have questions on how to make your dinner perfect? Don’t forget to ask CranMa your pressing questions and chat with “her” anytime! Happy hosting friends!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Ocean Spray®. The opinions and text are all mine.


Halloween Harvest at Coney Island’s Luna Park


The Halloween Harvest officially kicked off this weekend at Coney Island’s Luna Park, and we had a behind the scenes look at all the fun activities and experiences they have to offer.


In addition to the thrilling rides and amusement park fun that Luna Park is known for – the Halloween Harvest includes face painting, pony rides and the best pumpkin patch we’ve ever seen in NYC! The experience is included with the purchase of an all-day wristband and runs until October 29th!

A post shared by Monica Marino (@marinobambinos) on

Check out Luna Park to get all the details on their upcoming annual Halloween Harvest Dog Parade & Costume Contest, the carving of their giant pumpkin and more!


’90s Nostalgia: Limited Too Pop Up Shop Comes to NYC


Tweens of the ’90s rejoice! Your favorite store to hit up at the mall with your friends is back – and it’s touring New York City.  There’s still time to catch the Limited Too mobile pop-up shop packed with fashion and accessories nostalgic of your own childhood years (but perhaps, way cooler).


All the necessities for back-to-school are here – and at reasonable prices too, with everything under $100.  From glittery sneakers, two-way sequin notebooks, bomber jackets, backpacks, locker-gear, and of course fabulous fashion and apparel for girls sizes 2T-16.


The rain didn’t stop us from checking out their Herald Square location – a totally fun experience for today’s mom/daughter outing.  I can’t tell you how excited I was to leave my local mall with a Limited shopping bag in hand back in the day – and middle-school me would definitely envy all the cool duds and goodies that my daughter picked out.


There’s still time to get in on the fun (don’t forget to get in on the photo op too!)


Catch the Pop-Up from 12pm-7pm at the dates/addresses below:

August 8th: Herald Square/6th Avenue between 35th and 36th

August 9th: Union Square/17th Street between Park Avenue South & Broadway

August 10th: Flatiron/5th Avenue between 22nd & 23rd Street

This is a sponsored post.  Thanks for reading!