The last year was challenging for many of us – personally, professionally, politically. It’s easy to get swept-away by headlines and hype, and to fall down the rabbit hole of social media. But for me, everything outside my control incited a journey into how to create balance, mindfulness, and contentment. In the present. Within myself. Small breaks between the madness.
Self-care allows us to slow down, focus, and listen to ourselves on a deeper level, without being drowned out by the white noise (or the crash, boom, bang) of ordinary life. Whether we’re tired parents, busy professionals, or burdened citizens, sometimes we just need a moment. And while we all want to look good, the ritual of self-care helps us feel good and create real, lasting beauty from within.
In the last year, I discovered some amazing brands and products, and if you know me in person, you’ve already heard about them. Otherwise, I would like to tell you about a few of my favorite things. They smell, look, and feel beautiful, deliver on their promises, and make me feel healthier and happier.
10 Self-Care Discoveries of the Last Year
Josh Rosebrook’s Vital Balm Cream: It’s permanent on my shelf and in my carry-on, and it’s the perfect product for someone who wants a 1-product or capsule skincare regimen. It goes on light like aloe vera, spreads luxuriously thanks to rich plant butters, smells like flowers, herbs, and lollipops, and hydrates like no other product I’ve tried, attributed to Indian Senna Seed or ‘botanical hyaluronic acid.’ For a desert dweller like me, this product makes a consistent and significant difference. It made my skin calmer and more reliable, and that’s something.
Josh Rosebrook’s Ethereal Botanical Fragrance: Ethereal is a truly unisex scent that I’ve described as warm and sultry. This fragrance makes me so happy and confident. I’ll turn my head in a meeting an get a whiff and turn my head again just for a second sniff – a year into my bottle. I wish the people around me would wear it so I could smell them too.
Osmia Night Body Oil: Post-shower, this oil is the comfiest way to get ready for sleep. A fascinating sleep doctor I used to work with, Rubin Naiman, often speaks about sleep hygiene – the ritual of creating a safe space for yourself to let go of wakefulness. Night oil has become indispensable for both me and my toddler – using some of “mama’s magic mimi oil,” as we call it, crawling into cozy PJs, and saying goodnight to our bodies. Its essential oil blend of Lavender, Roman Chamomile and Wild Atlas Cedar is warm, subtle, and inviting of relaxation.
KHUS + KHUS Bleu Body Wax: This was the December Beauty Heroes subscription box release and for me one of the best to-date [read more about beauty boxes]. It has a great blend of Babassu, Baobab, and Marula oils that melt on contact; Blue Tansy and Blue Yarrow calm and relieve; and, the scent of Monoi de Tahiti is also extremely soothing. The whole blend is very thoughtful. As someone affected by Lymphedema, lymphatic massage is highly recommended (if not mandatory) but I hadn’t done it because it’s boring. But I started with KHUS + KHUS because it’s so darn enjoyable and it gets the system going while easing my tired limbs. We can all use a little of that, right?
Innersense Sweet Spirit Leave-in Conditioner: Sometimes I don’t feel like conditioning in the shower. Don’t ask why – I just don’t. Sweet Spirit’s herbs, flowers, honey, and oils, give my hair a little extra oomph so I can skip a few steps, and when I use it, I even look cute with an air-dry. And, another mom trick, this conditioner’s also magic in getting knots out of kids’ mermaid hair with minimal complaints.
Vered Signature Scent: I must confess, I’m late to the Vered game, first reading about the brand in an excellent article about synthetic versus organic scents by Sarita Coren. It wasn’t until I posted about in on Facebook that the brand brought their sample program to my attention and I swiftly bought a whole bunch for myself. My package came with a few extra goodies in it. Of all the scents, the signature was my favorite with “a sensual base of vanilla, rose absolute, jasmine and orange blossom, and hints of patchouli and geranium bourbon.” I envision myself eating a gelato in a small tree-lined piazza outside big church doors in spring. Needless to say, it was intentionally blended to be fragrant and also aromatherapeutic. And I loved the Vered Anti-Aging Face Oil sample’s aroma so much, I looked forward to using it again and again.
Jane Iredale Just Kissed Lip and Cheek Stain: I’ve never before tried a lip color that wears so much like lip balm. It glides on and gives natural, subtle flush to lips and cheeks, plus it’s rich in botanicals and healing oils. It’s perfect for a low-maintenance girl (or a high-maintenance one on brunch day).
W3LL People Elitist Satin Mineral Shadow: I’ve been using W3LL People for about 10 years now, since I went clean and green and they were one of the first brands in the space, but it wasn’t until recently that I got hooked on the loose mineral shadows. Although I’m still warming up to loose powders, W3LL People offers really amazing, richly pigmented colors (Golden Mocha has transformed my palette!) with lasting power. And pro-tip: you can mix it into moisturizers for highlighting, add water for liquid liner, and build, if you’re feeling extra.
SmartyPants Women’s Complete Multivitamin: I was introduced to the SmartyPants team when they first launched their kids’ vitamins in 2010. I love the people and mission, the integrity of their ingredients (premium, non-GMO, nothing synthetic), and their commitment to Vitamin Angels -a non-profit dedicated to eradicating child malnutrition. This last year I learned they had since launched products for the whole family – kids, tweens, teens, mom and dad, and grandparents – all with great nutritional profiles. My daughter already loved her gummies, but I had been talking myself into swallowing giant multivitamins. Now I get my gummy vitamins in the morning too, because I deserve them and because life’s too short for loathsome horse pills.
Native Cosmetics Deodorant: It seems like this is one of the most difficult products in personal care to enjoy and stick with – no pun intended. I’m happy to say Native and I spent the dessert summer months together and we’re still friends. Native comes in great scents, including seasonal ones, and they all smell great, comparable to what you’d find in conventional stores, but better. The consistency is smooth – not gritty or greasy, the ingredients list is good, and your pits (and those in very close proximity) will enjoy this product.
I’m excited for this New Year of discovery, kicking off with Indie Beauty Expo next week. Any great self-care scores you want to brag about? Drop me a comment in the box below.