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Holiday Spa Gifts (A Few of My Favorite Things!)

  • Posted on December 12, 2014 at 9:21 pm

Need a holiday spa gift? Of course you do. Think: mom, sister, cousin, co-worker, friend, or you! Since it’s that time of year, I thought I’d share with you some of my spa faves. Most of you know I try hundreds of products every year, and it’s hard to choose the best spa gifts, but here’s a sampling:

shea-soap_lSOAP – My favorite creamy, lightly-scented, affordable, fair trade, planet-friendly soap hails from The Body Shop! Their shea soap is a gentle vegetable-based soap at only $4.00. The perfect spa stocking stuffer. The brazil nut soap has a heartier scent and is great for men.

body-scrub-lg3BODY SCRUB Hands- down, it’s 100% Pure’s Coconut Body Scrub. This scrub is so decadent that I feel like I just swathed myself in a high-end spa treatment every time I use it. It doesn’t smell like the traditional coconut of, say, a sunscreen, but more of a toasted scent. It leaves a glowing shimmer after you leave the shower that lasts for hours. Be careful, though – it leaves an oily residue on the tub floor and can be slippery. This would be my ideal spa gift.

nr_sleep_rgb1-390x500ESSENTIAL OILS – I’ve always found essential oils to be a tricky business. I wonder how pure they are, and I never order them online because I have to smell them first. Some are, let’s just say, not nose friendly. My favorite brand right now is H. Gillerman Organics. Touted to resolve stress-related mind/body issues, Hope’s products deliver. She is well-steeped in the ways of Traditional Chinese Medicine, and her oils are long-lasting, organic, and healing, and they make the perfect spa gift. My three favorites are Sleep Remedy, Stress Remedy, and Travel Remedy. Next up on my list (hubs, you reading?) is the Tension Remedy, perfect for headaches.  

eu_spa-reggae_neckpillow-spamask-heatwrapNECK WRAP AND EYE MASK - As a connoisseur of neck wraps, I found the crème de la crème. The company is Sonoma Lavender, and they make the softest, heftiest Eucalyptus & Lavender Spa Neck Pillow and Eucalyptus & Lavender Sinus Mask. These plush, soft spa indulgences warm up in the microwave and offer gently scented healing lavender and eucalyptus to the neck and shoulders, or to tired eyes. Perfect for sinus congestion.

86130_instinctual_clay_masque_1BODY CLAY MASQUE - What’s a spa gift without a sumptuous, eco-friendly, full-body mud mask from SpaRitual? Slather on the silky red earth clay to towel-dried skin for ten minutes, then shower it off. You will feel like you just reveled in a high-end spa treatment. SpaRitual Instinctual Clay Masque.

buckwheat-pillow-3BUCKWHEAT PILLOW – I bought my first buckwheat pillow when I was living in Pennsylvania. I fell so in love with that pillow that I’ve been buying them ever since, although they practically last forever. I own three of them now, and trust me, once you go buck you never go back. Buckwheat pillows are more comfortable than a typical pillow because the hulls conform to the shape of your head and neck. You can adjust the fit by simply molding the pillow with your hands. It matches your body shape. And talk about comfort! This is truly the perfect spa gift. I got mine in two different sizes (one for traveling) from Sachi Organics, a company I highly recommend for quality buckwheat pillows!

Coffee Spa Treatments & Products = Yes!

  • Posted on January 14, 2014 at 6:45 pm

Happy New Year, everyone! I decided to try something different this year. Instead of writing my own resolutions, I’ve come up with a few for you, my readers! First resolution (repeat along with me): I will try to get to that spa I’ve had my eye on. (Day spas count.) Two: I will try at least one new skincare or hair product. Three: I will follow Val The Spa Gal religiously and tell everyone I ever met to do the same. If you have any issues with these resolutions, you can contact my complaint department. However, I did give them the year off. Okay, now for today’s topic: Coffee + Spa = Good. How popular is this caffeinated crowd pleaser in spa products?

Coffee Massage

Coffee is loaded with antioxidants, which fight free radicals (those pesky molecules that wreak havoc on the skin), but the greater benefit for some is its caffeine content. Next time you wake up with puffy eyes and you don’t have cucumbers or hemorrhoid cream available—a remedy that works because it constricts the blood vessels—try coffee grounds. The caffeine found in coffee beans acts as a natural anti-inflammatory. One way to use coffee for tired or puffy eyes is to either retain some brewed coffee grounds, wait for them to cool, and then apply them under your eyes and on the lids. The other method is to simply dip a cotton ball or face cloth in fresh coffee, let it cool, and do the same. Using the coffee grounds directly might yield better results.

The two products I use at home both contain coffee beans, among other ingredients. Farmhouse Fresh Triple Shot Caramel Coffee (12 oz.; $34) is a sweet java-scented luscious body polish, with a yummy hint of caramel. It contains the arabica coffee bean seed extract, caffeine, shea butter, and coconut, and is paraben- and sulfate-free. Add a handful to water in the shower and use as a full-body scrub. It’s absolutely delicious.

Farmhouse Fresh Triple Shot Caramel Coffee

Invigo-Spa makes a hearty coffee scrub derived from such places as Madagascar, Ceylon, Ethiopia, India, France, Arabia, and Brazil. This face and body scrub is much more coarse than Farmhouse Fresh’s product and evokes a bolder, more robust coffee scent that can be overwhelming, yet it offers a heavy-duty exfoliation. Although it’s labeled as a face and body scrub, I prefer a gentler texture in a facial scrub.

For a natural indulgence, sans synthetic chemicals or toxic preservatives, try the Cocoa Kona Coffee Body Cream (8 oz.; $17), or the Organic Coffee Bean Caffeine Eye Cream (0.5 oz.; $17), both by 100% Pure. Check out all their vegan, gluten-free, coffee/caffeine products, including coffee cherry treatments for sun damage. 

Coffee for facial

Spas all over the world offer various coffee- and caffeine-infused treatments, and what better way to perk up the mind and body, and fight inflammation while on a spa vacation than a coffee-inspired pick-me-up? Many dermatologists agree that it can reduce the appearance of cellulite, but don’t hail it as a cure-all. The Anushka Spa in West Palm Beach offers a Slimming Café Wrap, (60 minutes; $110) is a hot cellulite-busting treatment, with espresso coffee grounds, cinnamon bark, and green tea. The raised body temperature promotes cellular metabolism and eliminates water retention.

Treat your feet to a Natural Coffee Bean Spa Pedicure ($55) at iNail Artistry & Spa in Kansas City. They will soak your tootsies in a bath of ground coffee beans, then apply a coffee mask and rejuvinate you from calves to digits. They occasionally offer specials, contests, and Groupons.

What would the coffee capital of America—Seattle—be without coffee-drenched spa treatments? Paule Attar Salon and Spa delivers a blissful 60-minute Anti-Toxin Body Wrap With Green Coffee, for $102. The Salish Lodge & Spa is a gorgeous rustic getaway that will revive you with a 50-minute Northwest Coffee Exfoliation (click on “Body Therapies”) made from locally grown roast coffee and Dead Sea salt, for $125.

Coffee Foot Soak

Ever thought about bathing in coffee? Hakone Kowakien Yunessun, a hot springs spa and water park in Hakone, Japan, offers this quirky soaking option. They also offer tubs of green tea and wine. (Int+81) 0460-82-4126.

Coffee Spa in Japan

The Spa at the Hotel Galvez, in Galveston Island, Texas, will treat your cheeks and peepers to a CoffeeBerry Facial (50 minutes; $115), an organic delight infused with anti-aging Whole Coffee Fruit product.