Thursday, January 14, 2010

COMBATTING WINTER'S BITTER EDGE WITH NATURAL AND ORGANIC PRODUCTS

I’m so cold right now, that it hurts. My dry, cracked skin is desperately in need of moisture, while my addled thoughts turn to industrialized-sized vats of homemade soup, large enough for me to plunge into. My thoughts also turned to the natural and organic-based products I recently tried.

In recent weeks, it’s been bitter and cold across most of the U.S. The products I tried were timely, since most readily combated the dryness brought on by frigid temps and reduced indoor humidity, which normal depletes the moisture in the skin and hair that winter is known for in the upper-Midwest. Changing seasons are a great time to remind folks that product and regimen generally need to be changed to accommodate the climatological seasonal variants. What worked in the spring and summer will not necessarily perform as well during the fall and winter, especially when temps and humidity levels change dramatically, which is also part of seasonal changes. Hope you enjoy these products as much as I did.

Avalon Organics ~ These products used certified organic ingredients and are part of Avalon Organics skin care line geared for sensitive skin, Renewal & Vitality For Sensitive Skin. Ingredients included lavender, white tea, arnica, grape seed, hyaluronic acid and licorice root. Products tried included Lavender Renewal Facial Serum, Lavender Moisture Plus Lotion with SPF 18 and Lavender Facial Cleansing Gel (my article post of September 21, 2009 includes a review of the cleanser). The products were gentle, non-irritating, non-drying, and absorbed well without leaving any tacky residue; my skin’s texture and hydration levels were also maintained. I used the products for three weeks and experienced more maintenance of my skin, versus enhancement, although fine lines and wrinkles were minimized. The Moisture Plus performed double-duty by functioning as a body and face moisturizer. My favorite product was the Serum. The aroma of lavender, which I love, enhanced using these products and stimulated my olfactory with soothing aromas. For more information, go to www.avalonorganics.com.

Aveda Green Science Skincare ~ Overall, I enjoyed the gentleness of these products; the heady “green” aroma, while not indicative of a product’s efficacy, enhanced the enjoyment of using these products. Products tried included the Lifting Serum, Firming Face Cream, Firming Eye Cream and Line Minimizer. Some of the key certified organic ingredients include organic Argan oil, plai oil, cactus, antioxidants and peptides. I used the products for three weeks, but didn’t see any noticeable “lift” in my skin’s texture, brightness or firmness during this time. The products were gentle, non-irritating, non-drying, absorbed well, and maintained my overall skin quality and hydration levels; fine lines and wrinkles were also softened. My favorite products were the Lifting Serum and Line Minimizer. The product aromas stimulated my olfactory with soothing aromas. For more information, go to www.aveda.com.

Christopher Drummond Mineral Makeup ~ This is a new player in the growing and often crowded field of natural and organic-based mineral makeup. Products tried included Veludo Velvet Foundation, Sateen Blush and Finale Finishing Powder. Products are free of bismuth and titanium dioxide and contain plant extracts, antioxidants and fruit infusions (without the off-putting fruity aroma) that also treat the skin and nourish it. Admittedly, I’m sloppy when it comes to using loose formulations, versus pressed ones, but with that challenge behind, I found these colors to be subtle; they blended well and didn’t make me look like I was wearing any makeup. For more information, go to www.christopherdrummond.com.

Layla & Qays ~ The Middle East’s equivalent of the tragic lovers “Romeo & Juliet”, "Layla & Qays" is the name of the signature line of spa products for Joya Spa (InterContinental Montelucia Resort; Phoenix, AZ; ); products are used in signature treatments and throughout the spa. The signature scent, Joyambrosia was designed and developed by an organic alchemist (see below review on Lotus Wei Organics; Joya Spa also uses Wei of Chocolate; see below review on these organic dark chocolates). The organic alchemist incorporates a proprietary flower vibrational essence and gem essence and other organic ingredients into the treatment products. Mindfully themed, the products are based on aspects of joy, peace and clarity (Joya Spa’s signature intentions). Products tried included Liquid Sapphire Organic Body Wash, Golden Alchemy Organic Sugar Scrub, Diamond Light Organic Moisturizing Nectar, Moon Magic Organic Massage & Body Oil, and Joyambrosia Organic Face and Body Mist. The dense, multi-layers of flower vibrational essences, gem essence and essential oils added uplifting aromas, making each product use very enjoyable. The aromas were calming, yet energizing. The Body Wash and Sugar Scrub cleansed and gently exfoliated while replenishing hydration levels; the Moisturizing Nectar and Body Oil intensified the hydration properties; the absorption was quick and left no tacky residue. The Mist added a nice pick-me-up, while also leaving a veil of hydration. All products were moisturizing, non-irritating and imparted a subtle aroma that was calming. I strongly recommend experiencing this extraordinary and breathtaking spa; it's an experience that's mindful, restorative and transformative. For more information on Joya Spa and their signature spa products, go to www.joyaspa.com.

Leonor Greyl Hair Care ~ I thought my hair was in good shape after becoming content with using old standby products for cleansing, conditioning and styling, until I tried some luxury hair care products from Leonor Greyl. Leonor Greyl is Europe’s leading natural and Ecocert organic hair care line. Products tried over a three-week period included Masque Quintessence, Shampoo Reviviscence, Huile De Magnolia, Shampoo Crème Moelle De Bambou, Crème Regeneratrice and Serum De Soie Sublimateur. The first three products are new products in this impressive hair and body care line. The Masque’s star ingredients include Cupuaçu oil (from the Amazon) and Manketii oil (from Namibia); both oils are highly prized and known for repairing and nourishing, while restoring shine to the hair; definitely the jewel of the line. The Reviviscence Shampoo repairs damaged hair with ingredients like amaranth, sea lavender, and vitamins B and C; works well with the Masque and layers the healthy benefits of both products. The Magnolia Oil is part of Leonor Greyl’s “Beauty Enhancing Oils” and designed to be used on the face and body (two more parched areas that need attention during winter’s assault). This is the first time for a face and body treatment product in this line (although even its Huile De Palme, which I’ve reviewed previously, is more than an intensive hair treatment oil; it’s also great on hands, face or body). The Magnolia Oil is ninety-seven percent pure botanical oils that protect, nourish and rehydrate; product is non-irritating, quickly absorbed and leaves no residue; its signature magnolia scent is delicate, fresh and uplifting; product is also recommended for après sun exposed skin, calming the skin from this no-no. The Bamboo Shampoo is another product geared for long hair that’s dry or damaged; I have mid-length hair and it worked well on me, improving its overall condition. The Regeneratrice is a revitalizing conditioner and ideally suited as a weekly treatment mask; this is another product that restores and revitalizes, while leaving a protective film on the hair that acts like a barrier and protects; recommended for longer hair. The Serum is packed with silk proteins and plant oils that nourish and protect the hair; an exceptional styling aid, it also detangles and prevents the frizzies, while adding new “life” to hair. Overall, I was amazed to see the vibrancy and luster with my gray and boring hair after using these products. Not only did my hair look and feel better, my hair appeared healthier. I saw waves and a bounce in my hair that had been dormant while using less-than stellar products from other lines. I also loved the way my skin felt after using the face and body oil. Given the ravages of dry indoor temps, decreased humidity levels, static, and cold bitter winds assaulting the tresses, these products are definite must-haves to combat winter’s ferocity. For more information, go to www.leonorgreyl-usa.com.

L’Occitane en Provence ~ Their best selling Immortelle Skin Care line has been elevated to new heights with the introduction of its luxurious organic anti-aging Immortelle Divine Cream. The complex aromas of ingredients that include the precious Immortelle flower, myrtle and proprietary essential oils made using this silky rich cream all the more exceptional; it truly is Divine. I used the product for three weeks and noticed some minimization of fine lines and wrinkles, while hydration levels slightly improved, as did texture and firmness; some slight irritation occurred, however, when I used other product line serums under this cream. L’Occitane has also been successful in opening up three “pop-up stores” which will remain open until the end of January; these “pup-ups” are located at Ross Park (Philadelphia, PA); Cherry Hill Mall (Cherry Hill, NJ); and, Southcenter Mall (Seattle, WA). Another success for L’Occitane was the recent opening of a new brick and mortar retail boutique at Block 37 (on State Street) in Chicago, IL. For more information, go to http://usa.loccitane.com.

Lotus Wei Organics ~ Based on natural vibrational flower essences and gems and organic essential oils to restore and rebalance, this new player in the crowded field of organic skin and body care is proving itself to be in the mix for a very long time with its unique line of holistic products and were all developed by an organic alchemist. The products are meant to be mindful and evoke feelings and emotions from within, while restoring and balancing. Products tried included Infinite Love Flower Elixir, Blissful Mind Flower Energy Mist and Divine Radiance Organic Massage Oil. The Flower Elixir can either be added to a beverage, or a few drops placed under the tongue using the packaged eyedropper; the base of the product consists of purified, glycerin and grape alcohol; a number of flower essences and a gem essence are also part of the ingredients. Although I couldn’t isolate one predominant taste, the overall impact was delightful. The Energy Mist was uplifting and refreshing, and smelled scrumptious; ingredients include wild-harvested essential oils of jasmine, rose, pettigrain and silver fir. The Massage Oil is currently a back-bar product, but in the works as a retail one. I loved the quick absorption and non-greasy feel of this product; some of the ingredients include macadamia nut oil, jojoba oil, essential oils of mandarin, geranium, rosewood, flower essences, etc. Lotus Wei has a strategic alliance and parnership with InterContinental Montelucia Resort & Joya Spa, and has developed all of Joya Spa’s signature spa line of body care products under the label Layla & Qays and the spa signature scent, Joyambrosia (see above for product reviews). For more information, go to www.lotuswei.com.

Wei of Chocolate
~ These organic dark chocolates are also vegan and fair trade. These aren't ordinary gourmet chocolates, but easily qualify for that distinction. They are, however, mindful and introspective morsels to be savored and enjoyed, while stepping back, relaxing and being in the moment. There are six variations of organic dark chocolate, and include Inner Clarity, Inner Delight, Inner Peace, Daily Gratitude (these are the signature organic dark chocolates used at Joya Spa), Daily Love and Sensual Love. Each variety is infused with a combination of different essential oils, spices (e.g. chili, cardamom, cinnamon, coriander), herbs (e.g. lavender, rosemary, lemongrass, peppermint) and flower essences, giving each variety their unique taste and taste purpose. The longer one takes to savor these morsels and let them melt methodically on the tongue, the more relaxed and calm they become. As each handcrafted piece of chocolate dissolves, the unique spice and herb additions in each variety can be felt. These organic dark chocolates are very unique, extremely delicious and a mindful sensory experience. For more information, go to www.weiofchocolate.com.

Lastly, remember to take care of yourself and be kind and considerate to those around you, especially those who are less fortunate that you. Consider coordinating a food drive for your community. Ask your family and friends to donate canned goods and dry foodstuffs to you. Donate the collection to one of your community’s local food pantries. Every little bit helps. The small things truly matter.

Next up ~ “Sensory Galavanting in the Greater Phoenix, AZ Area”, which is a review of some of this area's must-experience spas, treatments, museums and restaurants that focus on the senses.


By Terry Herman

Terry Herman is a recognized expert in the spa industry, and regularly covers issues that include business, management, operations, customer care, treatments, products, and trends. In addition to writing and reviewing, she is also a management consultant and motivational speaker. You can email her at terry_h60559@yahoo.com.

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