Little luxuries that go a long way: a gift guide for the times
More than ever, we need to tend to wellness and beauty issues we neglected until this year, and we need to encourage those we care about to do the same. Here’s a handy gift guide to the must haves to refresh and revitalize body, mind and soul, reports Elyse Glickman
By the time you read this, you will have heard different people and media outlets say, ‘This will be a holiday season like no other.’ And while we’re frankly tired of hearing that sentence, it is a statement that’s true on many levels. As circumstances force us to approach the season in less extravagant ways, they are also compelling us to rethink how we shop for ourselves and for other people.
Staying close to home, dining in and becoming a little more creative with our fitness routines outside the gym all play a role in shifting the paradigm. Rather than covet wild, big ticket purchases (via those corny red ribbon-wrapped Lexus, Mercedes and BMW ads and Hallmark Channel-inspired department and jewellery store spots), our visions of sugarplums will more likely involve practical luxury. Whether we’re treating others or ourselves, the goal is to have things on hand that will make anybody feel better about staying home, breaking old habits and creating better ones for the year ahead.
Beauty, hair care and wellness-focused brands have always offered gift packs that a year ago were counted on to be the perfect go-tos for last-minute office Secret Santas, secondary Hanukkah presents, hostess gifts and the like. In 2020, however, everybody’s priorities are different. We’re all in a place where less really is more and necessity is the mother of inventiveness in terms of what we’ll want to give and receive. With that in mind, we threw together a gift guide that will not be applicable to this festive season but also any upcoming holiday or celebration where comfort and joy are no longer separate ideas. In other words, if we have to shelter in place, why not strike a balance between healthy, personally enriching and posh?
While salon visits may be hard to come by, Joico’s K-PAK collection brings the aromas and luxurious formulations of a salon visit to the home—while helping one keep hair in beautiful shape in the interim. Single products (US$17 and up), holiday duos and gift sets addressing colour maintenance (K-PAK Color Therapy), nourishing (K-PAK Reconstructing) and others are available at Ulta.com, with more information available at its own web site (joico.com). Formulas contain proprietary ingredients like quadrabond peptide complex as well as keratin, argan and other natural oils.
Taiwanese hair care brand SH-RD takes luxury hair care up a few more notches with covetable formulas such as its Gold Protein Cream. Given that the products are created to treat common but significant hair concerns such as dryness, brittleness and hair loss, it’s no surprise that celebrities such as Jennifer López, Lizzo, Jennifer Hudson and Octavia Spencer turn to the line’s Sage Purifying Shampoo, Sage Purifying Semi-Treatment, Truffle Moisturizing Shampoo, Truffle Moisturizing Semi-Treatment, Red Ginseng Hair-Activating Shampoo, Reishi Volumizing Shampoo, Intensive Root Repair Essence, and Intensive Full & Thick Hair Essence. The secret lies in exclusive blends of recuperative vitamins and protein supplements to repair damaged hair and shafts caused by environmental factors, colouring and harsh chemical-based hair products.
Facing the day with style
As beauty-savvy people have turned to Sephora and Sephora.com for the most up-to-the-minute cosmetics and skin care trends, it’s no surprise that enduring beauty giant Shiseido is one of the retailer’s go-to brands. As Japanese colour cosmetics and skin care are coveted around the globe for their luxuriant formulas, dramatic textures and cutting-edge innovation, Sephora is one-stop shopping for the brand’s age-formulated skin care collections, long-lasting tools (such as this year’s limited edition version of its best selling eyelash curler, US$22) and ModernMatte and VisionAiry lipstick formulas, each with nearly 30 dramatic and natural hues (US$26 each). It’s also a safe bet you may want to treat yourself to a little something once you have your gift shopping wrapped.
Sweet Street Cosmetics, created by fashion industry entrepreneur Natalia Durazo and recording artist-turned-CEO LaLa Romero is a new brand to watch out for, especially for its very wearable adaptations of ’90s colours and beauty trends and the just-launched Always & Forever Liquid Lips, available in four shades, is mask-proof yet moisturizing. Although Latinx beauty is the focus of the collection, the founders acknowledge there’s something for every beauty product enthusiast looking for something new to enjoy.
Even if most of us are not planning travel at the moment, Ready Set Jet! customizable beauty batons (US$18 for add-ons to US$85 for a two-sided set of three, available at Amazon.com and readysetjetofficial.com) will have us looking forward to the day we can head out on our next big adventure at a moment’s notice, while keeping our current daily routines glamorous but streamlined in the meantime. These interchangeable and functional batons are the brainchild of global beauty entrepreneur, author and activist Shalini Vadhera who takes a double-barrelled approach to mixing and matching skin care and colour cosmetics for personalized, portable beauty on the go.
Photographer–chef duo Pam Bailey and Darren Tieste would argue that their simple, streamlined and wholesome (100 per cent vegan and organic) Mizz Bloom Organics range is actually food for the skin. With posh stocking stuffers like Polish Body Scrub and Luscious Organic Body Butter running US$35 and up, and gift bundles going between US$120 and US$195 for gift bundles, they state their case that the ingredients making up these remedies are both nourishing and pampering, but whipped up in a conscientious way. ‘We believe it is our duty to not only stay committed to the health of your skin, but also our planet by educating and advocating clean beauty,’ says Bailey. ‘By taking into consideration sustainable harvesting and Fair Trade practices through our small-batch processes, we carefully select all ingredients and provide exceptional organic and natural bath beauty products.’
While face masks are now an everyday essential, Jaye Hersh-Eigler made it her mission this past year to make masks a pleasure to wear. She created her Gotta Have Face collection by artfully and practically applying 35 years in the fashion industry to put the fun back into function. Her web site includes the Gotta Sip mask (US$15), featuring a discreet opening for straws which closes flat when not in use; designer masks made from designer purse and shoe dust bags that are true originals; the LED Light Up mask (US$25), made from soft, luminous fabric holding LED lights in place and even multi-tasking ‘mask chains’ (US$15–US$20) providing an extra level of elegance, security and versatility.
Other magic potions and lotions
Anybody scaling back, simplifying her home and counting her blessings at the end of a challenging year will appreciate a single gift or gift set from the simple and statement-making Lifetherapy, a range of luxury body care products and candles created by Lynette Lovelace. The #chooseyourmood hashtag pretty much sums up Lovelace’s mission to put the power of positive thinking into the user’s hands and home décor. Her selection of nature-based fragrances include Inspired By, Grounded In, Energized With, Loved By and Transformed Through.
The two-year old EverEden Mommy-and-me skin care collection was devised by former Wall Street investor Kimberley Ho and her hand-picked team of respected medical experts as a more thoughtful approach to crafting luxurious-but-affordable pre- and postnatal skin solutions as well as baby lotions, shampoos and soap. The Golden Belly Serum (US$32), its hero product, along with other best-sellers such as Soothing Baby Massage Oil (US$22) and Multi-Purpose Healing Balm (US$20) are made with cold-pressed, nutrient-dense organic superfood oils that work together to provide young, sensitive skin with long-lasting moisture that heals and soothes sensitive skin. Several “bundles of joy” for the expectant Mom in your life are also available, and run between US$31 and US$125.
In the old days, designer fragrance miniatures from your local department store’s cosmetics counter was a can’t-miss gift. Today, a multipack of Earth to Skin hand sanitizer (US$6·99 for six travel-sized bottles, earthtoskinbeauty.com, and available at Walmart) puts a fun, vegan spin on the idea that there’s a fragrance for every mood—and it happens to be in a moisturizing hand sanitizer format free of sulphates and parabens. Cheery fragrances include watermelon, blueberry, coconut alœ and lemon basil.
’Tis also the season for dessert-y body lotions and balms, and Hempz satisfies the cravings with such limited-edition fragrances such as Whip It Good Mapple Buttercream, Choc-O-Latte, Butter Me Up Salted Toffee and Minty & Mellow Marshmallow Fluff. The tasty body treats (US$6·99–US$34·99, hempz.com and Ulta.com) are served up in herbal body moisturizers, foot and hand creams, decadent moisturizing body souffle and lip balm—all wintertime musts sold individually or in sets.
Fit to print
Basketball Wives star Evelyn Lozada encourages her fellow females to ‘get (your) glow’ on with BX Glow Fitness, as well as show off their efforts with her CBD skin care, fashion jewellery and stylish accessories. The BX Glow Pure Energy Fitness Kit (US$68) includes premium resistance tubes, resistance loop bands, and ankle weights that add up to a full-body workout in the comfort and safety of home. Her collection is available through the colourful shopping platform RivalWorld, a one-stop gift shopping proposition featuring a variety of practical and inspiring items you’ll probably not see at the local mall for everybody from stylish singles, couples, kids and pets. Reading about the celebrities and up-and-coming entrepreneurs behind the products itself is quite fun.
Australian entrepreneurs Ed Hodge and Wyatt Westmoreland found a way to do the infrared spa one better by reinventing the infrared sauna as the MiHigh Infrared Sauna Blanket (US$499, getmihigh.com), a portable, powerful, more affordable and safer way to reap those benefits. The blanket accomplishes the results of a fully functioning infrared sauna room in a spa or a compact home space through its high-quality leather exterior, a waterproof interior and fireproof insulators within the blanket’s layers to ensure safety and consistent heat. This technology supports an enhanced calorie burn, stimulates increased blood flow and elevated heart rate—similarly to regular exercise—in a 30-minute session wrapped inside the blanket.
Of all the personalized gifts you can give a loved one or yourself, a Vous Vitamin subscription may be the most thoughtful gift of all. Developed by Drs Arielle Levitan and Romy Block, the road to better health and nutrition begins with a quiz you or your recipient fills out online. The answers will inform a personalized multivitamin subscription that will perfectly fit the individual’s diet, health, and lifestyle. While the “one-size-fits-all” approach to a vitamin regimen does not work (either including the wrong nutrients or lacking others) even with a lot of guesswork, the customized creation is specifically engineered to optimize one’s health, which is now more critical than ever heading into winter.
Another alternative to getting vitamins and nutrients when and where you need them is through oral sprays, enabling a higher absorption rate for various vitamins. SpectraSpray liquid supplements accomplish this advanced micro-emulsion technology which deliver direct absorption without binders, fillers, artificial colour, dyes or allergens. Portable (and attractively packaged) sprays can be purchased in bundles that address specific concerns such as anti-ageing (Active Lifestyle Spray Vitamin Kit), working at home (Home Office Essentials; Success Kit), rheumatism support, a ‘Super Mom’ kit, immunity-focused kits, and, when the time comes, a Jet Lag Vitamin Kit. Monthly subscriptions are also available for individual SpectraSpray supplements such as Immune, CoQ10, Iron, Sleep, CBD, Stress as well as several combo packs. •