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The 2014 gift guide begins now: Chapter 1– Help us feel beautiful, please

Vintage Black Glamour by Nichelle Gainer

And maybe hook me up with this dress while you’re at it…? Photo of Eartha Kitt from the cover of the new book Vintage Black Glamour by Nichelle Gainer

We are officially well into the holiday shopping season. So far into it, in fact, that panic has started to set in. Yesterday, it was October. Today, we have essentially 45 seconds before Hanukkah and a minute and a half to get ourselves together for Christmas (we do both in our family.)

How did this happen? Or perhaps the better question is… why does this happen EVERY YEAR? When will the lessons of the previous year sink in and inspire me to start buying holiday gifts in September like organized people who have assistants and use Siri on their iPhones and know how to fold fitted sheets?

Perhaps never. But at least I have some good ideas when it comes to what to give people and I’m happy to share them. For the rest of this week (and maybe into next week, too) I will flood you with all sorts of thoughts about what you might want to be getting your loved ones (or better yet, what you should be asking your mother-in-law to get for you!) for the holidays. Please enjoy, and if you have any great things you’d like to add, don’t hesitate to put them into the comments. I am always looking for new things to ask for…

Today, in honor of the cold and relentless rain, is all about beauty.

monk oil

Monk Oil is my newest obsession. This subtly scented body oil is formulated especially to help us to thrive in the city (and we NYC folks sure could use all the help we can get)! It’s got avocado and apricot oils to moisturize, cedar and lavender to ground and energize, rose otto to lift our mood and yarrow to ward off environmental toxins. But my favorite part is the tiny rose quartz crystal hiding inside of each bottle to help harmonize the whole mixture.

Mixed and bottled on full and new moons, it feels like you are spreading a little but of magic onto your skin whenever you put it on. And it’s brand new, so your wife/brother/sister-in-law probably doesn’t have a bottle already. And if they do, I bet they won’t be bummed about having a bit more.

spa heroes beauty subscription

There are zillions of beauty products out there, but many (if not most) of them have harmful ingredients that might make us feel good for a minute or two, but are really doing harm to our bodies long term. And how are we to know which products are entirely safe? Enter Spa Heroes, a brilliant and reasonably priced subscription service that has done all of the research for us and is ready to help us clear out our medicine cabinets and restock them with the kind of stuff that… well… Gwyneth would probably use. (Sorry. Couldn’t help myself.)

Every month has a theme: November was all about being luminous, while December’s selections are all about mood and memory. A box arrives at your doorstep with at least one new full sized product (moisturizer, cleanser, scrub, etc) plus a sample or two with no toxic ingredients. There is also a beautifully designed fold-out card with information about the ingredients and benefits of the expert selection plus tips on how to best use your new prize. You use the products, fall in love with them and then can restock (at a discount!) at their online store. Talk about the gift that keeps on giving…

skinny skinny glowing skin kit

Skinnyskinny is one of those shops in my neighborhood that is next to impossible to leave empty handed. They have their own line of beauty products, all totally natural and handmade, plus they sell little plants, candles, and the Best. Lip balm. Ever. But if I were to be getting a gift from these guys, I’d want the “Luminous You” gift set, which includes cleanser, toner, moisturizer and scrub. That way, I could immerse myself in their universe and come out all glowing and whatnot.

red flower hinoki mint mineral bath

Anybody who knows me (or has read this blog for longer than a few weeks) knows how much I love Red Flower. It is far and away one of the best beauty companies out there. Using their products is like drifting into a fairy bath of rose petals and lavender, with magic fingers giving you massages and splashing your face with mystical serums… I could go on forever.

To be perfectly honest, if you were shopping for me, you could go to the Red Flower store or website and pick anything, wrap it up, and give it to me for the holidays. I promise you I would be thrilled. Today, as I look out over the dark cold rain, I am fantasizing about a nice hot bath, so the Hinoki Mint mineral bath soak comes to mind. It’s both soothing and uplifting, and it always leaves me feeling like I’ve just spent an afternoon at some expensive spa in Costa Rica. Which, I might add, is a beautiful feeling to have.

ever brooklyn lavender hydrosol

Last, but not least, comes the hydrosol. Now mind you, I didn’t have the faintest idea what a hydrosol was until my friend Fannie McWatt started her aromatherapy company Ever Brooklyn, but now that I’m in the know I have become a true believer. There is nothing like spritzing your face with a light mist of lavender and feeling this fragrant herb regenerate and renew your skin as it calms your mind.

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