Holiday Gift Guide 2017
Hello & Happy Saturday!!
With Christmas in just a few days, I’m a little behind sharing some of my holiday faves! However, you still have time to treat yourself so I’ve compiled a list of products from skincare, to haircare and even kitchenware that are just game changers!
Long before my culinary days I tested perhaps 200 different products from companies and I thoroughly enjoyed it. However, I get so caught up with cooking that I forget to explore what’s out there today to share with you! Having beauty products that work is just as imperative as a healthy diet and keeps me sane lol.
In a world full of companies, below are a list of my current faves in no particular order!
Who we are
vitruvi was founded by siblings Sean and Sara Panton. Sara is intuitive, kind, and often laughs so hard she cries. Sean is ambitious, full of energy, and is usually the one making Sara laugh. Together, they lead a small, yet super talented team out of our offices in Vancouver, Canada
I had heard of Vitruvi before over the past year or so, but wasn’t quite sure as to what they offered. Come to find out, this Canadian based company specializes in essential oils and now diffusers! Back in the 90’s my mother always had a diffuser and I found the aromas to be overwhelming. However today, I love them and can’t imgine life without them as they are so calming. Diffusers disperse essential oils an water into the air (somewhat similar to a humidifier) and creates a natural scent, which I love when trying to catch up on my beauty rest. The device is easy to use and the company offers and array of oils to which you can blend yourself as well as their personal blends. I’m a huge fan of their products and can’t wait to see what they create next! Oh, and it’s owned by a brother and sister! If you’re looking to explore diffusers or essential oils, I recommend checking out Vitruvi!
Gaye straza spent her youth vacationing in the tropics. after years of avoiding mainstream perfumes because they did not agree with her, straza decided to create a scent for herself that embodied the exotic white flowers she loved. for several months she worked tirelessly with a small boutique fragrance house to develop what we now know as kai fragrance.
the first time straza wore kai, she was stopped mid-stride by a beauty editor on madison avenue in new york city, asking where she could buy the scent. this was a foreshadowing of events to come. straza soon thereafter made the fragrance available in her own upscale women’s fashion boutique in malibu .
kai took on a life of its own. there was so much demand for the fragrance that straza sold her boutique in 1999 to develop the line, launching kai as its own company.
today, kai is sold at exclusive boutiques and spas all over the world, with many devotees including jennifer aniston, julia roberts, charlize theron, reese witherspoon, jennifer garner, naomi watts and others.
Review: I sampled the Kai Duo, lotion, candle and body wash. At first glance, knowing that all of these products are the same scent sounds overwhelming to the sense, but I never use them simultaneously and the scent is so timeless that it can compliment anyone during any season. The strongest note is of gardenia and it’s one of my favorites! It’s light, floral, and can go seamlessly from day to night. The rose is another scent they recently launched and it too is gorgeous! If like me you love products that are compact making them easy for travel and prefer options, the gift set is perfect for you! I was puzzled as to why this company only carried one scent since it’s inception, but the original scent is just THAT good! If you’re looking for products that are paraben, sulfate, phthalate, phosphate & gluten free, microbead free, cruelty free, and vegan, you have to try the highly coveted Kai products!
A NEW KIND OF DEODORANT
Schmidt’s Naturals was borne from the vision of natural product developer Jaime Schmidt in 2010 during the Maker Movement. With humble beginnings in a Portland, Oregon kitchen, entrepreneurship brought Schmidt’s lifetime passion for innovative body care into focus. Motivated to make products that would benefit her family’s health, and knowing that the natural deodorant offerings on the market were falling short of consumer expectations, Jaime made it her mission to change the way people think about deodorant.
Review: I tried Schmidts deodorant around it’s inception ages ago and ws instantly impressed with this company. The scents were amazing and they were one of the few companies that really pioneered the modern natural deodorants in my opinion. the went from offering small pots that involved getting your hands dirty and graduated to the stick deodorants and now offer toothpaste and soaps! Natural deodorant is somewhat like soap. In today’s world, it’s almost an acquired taste because there are countless toxic deodorant options and bar soap has become somewhat obsolete with the invention of shower gel, but I have to admit.. I still love a good soap! I was shipped a few samples of the soap and instantly fell in love and wanted to share them! The price point is good, the smells, amazing, and they last a long time! If you love natural soaps and are looking for a new company to explore, you have to try Schmidts!
When Dr Alexandrides started his practice, it was difficult for him to find skincare that would help heal the skin more efficiently after cosmetic procedures. Patients complained that certain skincare products were too harsh for their sensitive skin after treatment.
Dedicated to continuous research he discovered that skin ages faster in space because of environmental extremes. For that reason he sought collaboration of space scientists responsible for the wellbeing of astronauts. Together they created the patented NAC Y² formula.
Review: I had never heard of 111 Skincare, but everything about the company called to me. Whether it be the packaging, the price point, or the fact that it’s produced in the UK and I always find their products to be a superior in quality, I was sold instantly! I received the sample box that encompasses a wide variety of products. You get ample amounts of everything, which includes all of the serums, creams, and even a mask, and the box and packaging for the travel kits is just.. gorgeous! For many packaging isn’t of importance and you discard it right away. For myself I feel that marketing is everything and I loved how they packaged everything.
Again, I have very dry skin so I’m always nervous to try anything that is anti aging as it can be too harsh on the skin. However I felt that everything together just made my skin glow without any adverse effects such as dryness or sensitivity. The creams are the perfect level of richness and don’t leave me having to reapply over and over to maintain hydrated skin. My results have been so good, that I even cancelled my microdermabrasion appointment at my NYC Spa and their the best in the city charging upwards of $300. If you’re looking to reduce fine lines, wrinkles, and achieve flawless skin, I highly recommend 111 Skin! (oh, and the mask, amazing! Cools the skin and is ultra hydrating!)
British-born New York beauty expert, Tracie Martyn is the authority to whom actors and actresses, music industry icons, members of royal families, media moguls, and supermodels entrust their faces; not only before important events such as award shows and red carpet appearances, but as the premier choice of a non-invasive yet effective approach to beauty.
Martyn, a highly-acclaimed make-up artist in the fashion industry since 1982, has worked with the world’s top photographers, models and celebrities on projects for such international publications as Vogue, Vanity Fair, Elle and Harper’s Bazaar. During this time, Tracie learned the specific needs and demands of her make-up clients and their desire to defy time and appear rested. Tracie is a pioneer in designing a skin care concept that is both effective and results oriented, using the best anti-aging technologies, while simultaneously creating treatments that are restorative, pampering and holistic, leaving you rejuvenated and uplifted.
Review: I had heard of Tracy Martyn products for a while now, but had yet to explore them. Her spa is located in the NYC and they offer facials in addition to the line of products. I received their top selling resurfacing cream and mask. While I love to stick to products that are 100% non toxic and made with water and essential oils, those products just don’t provide the results I’m seeking as I’ve gotten older. The Face Rescultping Cream comes in a large portion, isn’t abrasive to the skin, doesn’t dry out my skin or irritate it in any capacity and provides amazing results!
My skin is sensitive, and always on the drier side especially during the cold winter months. However, the product is gentle yet still provides glowing skin that I typically only receive when using harsh products! If you’re looking to indulge in a beauty treatment or explore gentle products that get results, you need to try Tracie Martyn! Oh, and her products are free of petro-chemicals, dyes, artificial fragrances, comedogenic ingredients like cocoa butter and unnecessary fillers. Curious about the highly coveted mask?! Find the review in my next guide!
Dr. Alkaitis is a highly-regarded research scientist with a Ph.D. in physical chemistry from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Chemistry and Chemical Engineering from the University of New Mexico.
Review: Since 2012 I’ve tried hundreds of natural skincare products, but Dr. Alkaitis products was one of the rare companies that I had yet to explore. When I had the moment to take a break and bring you a first hand look at some of the best of the best this holiday season, I knew I had to reach out to them. Dr. Alkaitis offers a wide variety of products and has been in the business of natural skincare for a while now. While my expectations were not through the roof, I can confidently say that I’m enamored with the oil serum and face cream. I’ve tried countless oils and this one is more on the scentless side, has an orange hue, and is more hydrating than others I’ve tried without over saturating the skin.
My skin is naturally on the drier side so I’m always about hydration, especially in the winter months! I find that a lot of natural skin creams are just not hydrating enough. I use the oil and then seal it in with their face cream and it keeps my skin hydrated all day. when I was being shipped the order they mentioned that they submit the orders to the lab, ensuring that each product is made to order and fresh! Natural products tend to expire faster due to the lack of parabens to preserve the product. Needless to say, I’m in love with this company and can’t wait to explore the rest of the line! I highly recommend their products if you need to indulge in some skincare products this season!
Review: I’ve been using Deep Steep products for years and gravitate towards them for many reasons! They are accessible, affordable, come in a myriad of scents, the product last a long time and they are transparent about what is in their products! They offer everything from body wash to bath bubbles, lotion and even hand soap! If you’re looking to pamper yourself or your loved ones this season, you should check out one of my favorite companies, Deep Steep!
Review: I happened to stumble across the company Woodlot and was instantly drawn to it. I find that Canada based companies have more stringent regulations for product quality thus they are always cleaner and better and I’m taken by an gorgeous packaged candle and natural room sprays! This company was created by the cutest couple and they offer candles, room scents, lotions and more. I have to say, I experienced fancy candles before, and nothing comes close to the Woodlot Candles packages as it’s so gorgeous I feel bad discarding it lol. The candles are large and the aromas are light and not heavy, which I like. The room scents are soothing and a blend of essential oils that are invigorating. I made the mistake of thinking they were a facial spray (truth), I don’t recommend that! If you’re looking for a beautiful niche company that offers an array of non toxic cruelty free products, you have to explore Woodlot! (the soaps I have yet to break into as I have one in use! stay tuned for an updated review)
With more than 30 years of experience in the industry, Mila Moursi has perfected luxurious, customized face and body treatments that are the secret weapon of clients who look beyond the quick fix for long-lasting, rejuvenating results. The Mila Moursi Advanced Skin Care line, utilized throughout the Skin Care Institute’s services, offers nourishing, anti-aging regimens to revitalize and protect skin from the five key factors of aging: free radical damage, dryness, fine lines, uneven skin tone, and inflammation.
All of our products are formulated and manufactured in France utilizing the finest ingredients available. Our dedication to consistently provide a revitalizing blend of exceptional treatments and products to each and every client has garnered fame as well with Hollywood A-listers for truly achieving results.
Review: If you’re looking for a non toxic product that’s comprised of water and essential oils, than the Milk Moursi line is perhaps not for you. I discovered this Paris based company that’s also a spa while online and was instantly intrigued by the press the products received and the price point. The products are on the pricer side, but they work! I received the kit as I love being able to gauge the quality behind a brand with more than one product. Although one of the products leaked upon shipment, they happily shipped another set without hesitation, which was very kind. I would describe the product scent comparable to that as La Mer.
Clean and fresh and the products gentle. I loved the hydrating lotion, but did have to reply as my skin would become dry again. While even my facialist in NY says that applying oils to the face promotes clogged pores and doesn’t advocate for it, I find that it works for me. That being said, Mila Moursi doesn’t offer and oil to my knowledge. I received ample portions of the lotion and cleanser, but there other options not so much making it hard to gauge the quality. I’m hoping to sample more from the line to get a better grasp for it’s effects on the skin, but don’t feel as though I was able to. However, the press behind the product is enough to tell me that that they are superior to others! To be continued!
All Rahua® products are vegan, organic, sulfate-free, paraben-free, gluten-free, cruelty-free and support indigenous economies. Amazon Beauty® is dedicated to the preservation of the Amazon rainforest and the indigenous people that live there. In the process of bringing the Amazon’s greatest products to you, Amazon Beauty® Inc. has committed itself to building sustainable communities and creating learning centers within the Amazon rainforest. Learn more about their company here.
Review: Out of the countless products I tested before my culinary days, Rahua was one of the few that I didn’t get to try. As someone who finds it painful to wash their hair, it was low on the bucket list for me. However, this was something always intriguing about this line whether it be the packaging or the marketing. I finally got my hands on their newly released color protecting line. If you’re well versed in natural shampoos, you know that they are sulfate free thus preserving the hair more, but they don’t offer color protecting properties. That being said, it’s what I selected!
After testing a handful of natural shampoos, I have to say that I was never really blown away. As someone with fine hair, they are natural, but so heavy that they way down the hair, negating the purpose of washing your hair. However, Rahua not only has a gorgeous smell of I believe gardenia, offers an abundant lather, and didn’t weigh down my hair nor dry it out either. I was greatly impressed and am hoping to explore their other products. If you’re waiting for the sign to finally try their products, this is it!
Not so sure if Rahua Beauty is for you? I highly recommend their travel kits for hair and body! The come in ample portions and you can choose from the classic or volumizing! I highly recommend the hair and body combo as it packs everything you need & is amazing for travel!
Organic Wine Exchange is an informational website and sales hub for all things related to organic and biodynamic wines. Our objective is to bring resources about this wine movement together for ease and accessibility. People are able to “Exchange” information with our staff and other members of the organic wine community, learn about the winemakers and their practices and buy wine that fits their specific preferences. Learn more about the company here.
Review: I’ve never tried wine clubs for various reasons. You don’t get to pick the options you received and you rarely come across ones that specialize in organic options. However, I came across Organic Wine Exchange and was thrilled to see that they do exist. From Rose to champagne, presecco, and more they offer a wide variety of organic options that were all wonderful. If you’re like me and love to cook with wine and enjoy a glass after a long day, being able to enjoy an organic option is wonderful. Typical wine grapes are harvested using pesticides that you later ingest to a certain degree. You can order individual bottles or join their Wine Club. I was greatly impressed with all of the varieties I received and will absolutely be signing up for the club moving forward! Are you a wine enthusiasts or know one personally? You have to give Organic Wine Exchange a look! They don’t ship to all states so be sure to check out if they do where you live!
Calphalon Premier™ Space Saving Hard Anodized Nonstick Cookware securely stacks to save 30% more space*. Plus, the unique vessel and handle designs allow the cookware to stack and nest in any order**. The durable, hard anodized construction allows for even heating with no hot spots and is dishwasher safe for easy cleanup. The 3-layer nonstick interior is durable enough to withstand metal spatulas, spoons, and whisks.
Review: It’s been a long time since I’ve purchased new pans. Sounds weird, but I’m sure I’m to alone as it’s just something you overlook and work with what you have. However, working with the right pans can make the world of a difference as it enables you to cook things properly, have less mess to clean up, and even can save you space! The new Calphelon Space Saving cookware is my latest obsession! It’s non stick, comes with everything you need, and the most wonderful part, you can save space! With a condo full of every kitchen item you can imagine, I need all the space I can get! These are modern, sleek, make cooking seamless and even stack! Highly recommend.
As Lodge continues to develop the core line of seasoned cast iron, the introduction of complementary lines of cookware has seen great success over the past 2 decades. Lodge’s diverse and colorful line of Porcelain Enameled Cast Iron has earned rave reviews from media and consumers since its inception in 2005, offering the performance of European brands at a much more affordable value.
Lodge Cast Iron griddles are perfect for several cooking styles from traditional southern to ethnic cuisines. Our grill pans create tantalizing grill marks on meat or vegetables without having to leave the comforts of your kitchen.