By Betsy Aaron
To find a gift for everyone on your list, please read someone else’s column. I’m here to tell you that when it comes to gift lists, give yourself permission to put yourself first. For me, the hols are a cranky time of year; how can I possibly be kind to others if I cannot begin by being kind to myself? Obviously, I’m a bah humbug type. I think every day should be celebrated as a kind of personal holiday. When everyone celebrates the same thing at the same time it creates lots o’ stress. That’s when I return to the tried and true favorites that make my life feel luxe. These products are from the natural and organic purveyors whose products I applaud.
Perhaps the greatest gift is to end each day with gratitude– and wake up refreshed and aglow. There are many ways to achieve this but you can count on Mandy Aftel’s newly organic face elixirs to deliver daily. The rose elixir is redolent of the flower at its most potent .The scent is the one you want to send you off to the important work of dreaming. It only takes a few drops. In the morning your face is a fresh canvas. Aftelier Perfumes Organic Face Elixir also comes in Ylang, a soft and soothing floral. I say order a sample of each and see which one speaks to you. Both are in an organic base of rice bran, sweet almond, apricot kernel, camellia, grapeseed, squalene and rose hip seed specifically selected to promote cell regeneration.
When it comes to stocking stuffers for myself, I choose Handbag Essentials from Amala. The cell phone- sized mini valise is stocked with Organic Jasmine and Cocoa Bean to hydrate and rejuvenate my mitts and the organic Desert Fig provides the perfect base for this season’s stained-lip look. I do love an organized handbag but even more, I adore Amala’s devotion to certified organic plant based products; they are the definition of pure elegance.
Frankincense is so valuable that it was given as an offering to the first Christmas baby. You might know it as the incense that is burned, often with myrrh, in churches. Frankincense Intense, new from Neal’s Yard Remedies, is aptly named, both for its rich scent and for its powerful ability to hydrate, visibly reduce wrinkles, and increase firmness. In short, your friends will say you look fine. It’s 74% organic and includes gardenia plant stem cells to improve suppleness by slowing down the degradation of collagen. I am a longtime fan of Neal’s Yard and this is a product I will be using for a long, long time. It just works.
The Beyond Collection, the certified organic biodynamic collection from Eminence, comes in a handsome wooden box and is filled with pots of perfection. For once, I followed the directions for the daily regimen and can report that the overall results were so rewarding that I look forward to repeating it twice daily for as long as I can keep gifting myself. The textures are silky, the scents as subtle and delightful as nature. Each step of the regimen is effective and the moisturizers are readily absorbed, especially the Bearberry Eye Repair Cream. Call me girly: I loved the soft pink of the Radish Seed Refining Peel. This collection of products is great for traveling. The Hawthorn Tonique would make a refreshing on-board facial spray. Ahhh, I feel soothed, smoothed and beyond satisfied.
I was already a fan of Metropolis Soap Company’s soaps – and no, it’s not just because they are Brooklyn-based. The soaps are handmade and the scents are consistently divine. When they enticed me with their new handcrafted skincare Black Label Collection, I was intrigued. First of all, I applaud gifting myself with a package that comes wrapped with a black satin ribbon rather than the ubiquitous, and very ugly, I think, ribbons of red and green. But let’s face it: the products inside, each made with seven or fewer ingredients are the real gift. I love the lavender-infused Dead Sea mud. Two simple ingredients deliver profound results in a masque that is non- drying. The antioxidant Pomegranate and Rose Facial Serum is miraculously absorbed almost on contact and the rose and neroli multiactive toner + cleanser simplifies two jobs into one. I admit it: I am saving the massage oil for when the time comes –soon I hope –to share it.
But wait. Not all good gifts come in packages. My most favorite form of pampering is an ayurvedic facial from Nammi Lee at Elements Natural Healing. Topping my list of New Year’s resolutions will be to visit her more often. Her treatment includes a profound massage, steam, cleansing, a compassionate extraction if you need it, a mask made with honey and herbs and nurturing potions prepared precisely for your dosha–exactly what you need to emerge relaxed, restored, entirely aglow from within and ready to face the world.
Elements Natural Healing
518 Henry St., Brooklyn, NY
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