How and Why You Should Make Aromatherapy a Part of Your Life Now

Photo: Silar via Wikimedia Commons

Now that the sun is shining, our noses are liberated from behind layers of scarves, and winter cold free, we can actually make real use of them again. Though the eyes may be the windows the soul, our nostrils are (I’m saying) the windows to what we feel, depending simply on what scents we choose to inhale.

A single smell can send us deep into our memories. Certain aromas can also induce calm, energy and even sleep. But before you make associations that go no farther than a weirdo with a sage stick and patchouli oil, allow us to introduce you to some of the more glamorous uses of aromatherapy. You might just find that bedtime (or waking up, or staying calm in between the two) is a bit more pleasant. aromatherapy-101Clockwise from left: Decleor Aromanight; Joanna Vargas Rejuvenating SerumEarth Therapeutics Dream Silk Comfort Cream; Essio Aromatherapy Shower Kit; Earth Therapeutics Anti-Stress Mind Repair

Decleor’s rich balm is more like a salve for the face than any moisturizer you’ve ever tried. Though its texture definitely lends itself to overnight use, this little jar’s spa-like properties are so distinct, they could make a crowded subway feel zen. Celebrity facialist Joanna Vargas’s Rejuvenating Serum is a luxe blend of argan, neroli, olive, rosehip, and jojoba oils. Dream Silk is meant to coax you into sleep vis-à-vis its relaxing smells; while Essio makes your basic, little shower worthy of a 5-star resort with rotating scent pods ranging from sinus clearing to passion inducing. Finally, Earth Therapeutic’s Anti-Stress mind repair is a handy, portable little potion for the temples, neck, or forehead providing stress and tension relief thanks to wild peppermint oil and wintergreen. darphin-TWOFrom left: Darphin Rose Aromatic Care; Darphin Jasmine Aromatic CareDarphin Chamomile Aromatic Care

Just three of Darphin’s Aromatic Care collection, you can pick and choose from these luxe Parisian oils based on your skin’s needs. Rose oil smoothes, softens, and guards against free radical damage. Jasmine is revitalizing and toning–this is the best pick if you’d like your aromatherapy with a dose of anti-aging magic as this oil is known for its wrinkle smoothing properties. Finally, chamomile will soothe and protect. This oil helps to restore natural radiance and is a good, calming pick for sensitive, redness-prone skin.   tata-harper-aromaticsFrom left: Tata Harper Aromatic Bedtime TreatmentTata Harper Aromatic Irritability TreatmentTata Harper Aromatic Stress Treatment

You may know Tata Harper for cult faves like her Resurfacing Mask or Hydrating Floral Essence, but if you’re just delving into the world of aromatherapy, Tata’s easy rollerball blends are a perfect point of entry. Her bedtime potion mixes mandarin for its mildly sedative properties, the deeply relaxing clary sage, known to facilitate dreams, and lavender, which has been used for centuries to promote restful sleep. If it’s day-to-day stress that’s got you down, the stress treatment implements rose otto and linden blossom to gently alleviate anxiety as well as strengthen the inner spirit. Fresh floral neroli uplifts and soothes the nerves and can even help alleviate panic attacks + frankincense deepens the breathing. Finally, Harper’s Aromatic Irritability Treatment relies on roman chamomile to soothe + bergamot’s fresh floral and lemon scent to lift the spirits and patchouli to stabilize and ground the mind. The roller ball application makes getting the most out of aromatherapy easy. Dot the oils on the inside of each wrist, behind your ears, on the side of your neck or your temples stimulate psychological and physiological effects. kora-aroma-spraysFrom left: Kora Organics Calming Lavender MistKora Organics Balancing Rose MistKora Organics Energizing Citrus Mist

Not much feels more luxurious than a spritz of a top-notch facial mist. Before makeup or after. Before bed or upon waking up. Miranda Kerr’s line, Kora Organics has three, so usage can be tailored to the needs of both your skin and your mood. Calming Lavender mist will soothe and refresh, and reduce tension (all while improving the appearance of your skin so it’s an all-around win). This is the spritz to go with before bedtime. Balancing rose mist provides antioxidant protection and supports the skin’s own collagen production–plus who doesn’t love a good rose-scented product. And with your morning cup of Joe, spray some of Kora’s Energizing Citrus Mist which contains bergamot, orange, ,andarin, and aloe vera, and will leave you feeling fresh.

Treat Yo Self: Joanna Vargas’ New Sugar and Spice Facial

Anyone who’s seen my room has noticed the neatly lined up range of Joanna Vargas products that are always within arm’s reach. The celeb-facialist’s line is consistently excellent as are her glowy facials. So I was psyched to hear that her midtown east spa was offering a new one just for the holidays. Ready to get my proverbial pumpkin spice latte on, I headed to JV Skincare, a place I’d like to call home, and had the most relaxing Saturday morning in recent memory.

always a treat to take a selfie @jvskincare

A photo posted by Sara (@sarajanenyc) on

The sugar and spice facial brings together a concoction of potent seasonal ingredients blended together to leave your skin clear, hydrated, and radiant. A cranberry mask and serum are both loaded with antioxidants. A pumpkin enzyme peel from one of Joanna’s favorite lines, Eminance, tingles gently and smells like Thanksgiving (in the best way) and leaves your skin renewed.

JV skincare

jv masks

Any facial is good on any kinda day, but on a cold and rainy day like Saturday morning in December, a seasonally themed, holiday-ready one is the best kind.

Get more Treat Yo Self here

Stressed Out Skin? Celeb Facialist Joanna Vargas is Here to Help

Joanna Vargas (celebrity facialist and founder of Joanna Vargas Salon and Skincare Collection,) is one of the most well-known names in the world of skincare, and with good reason. Her facials are awe-inspiring, and as someone approaching hoarder-levels of face wash, serum, moisturizer, and beyond, I can confidently say that Joanna’s products are some of the absolute best–year-round.

One reason I love her collection is that it’s small. It’s not overwhelming. Each product serves a distinct purpose. Five items (for now), and each is excellent. So–when I found my skin lacklustre and even (gasp) breaking out after NYFW, I knew just who to consult. Here are JV’s exclusive tips on how to restore your skin to it’s best self after a change in routine (be it a flight, fashion week, or just a stressful day)!

Why does a change in routine sometimes wreak havoc on our skin? (i.e. going from sitting at a desk, to running around, staying up very late to cover the shows, or anything of the like)

A change in routine affects the skin because the body relies on our regular patterns of sleep and diet to manage stress. Sleep is the body’s big chance to repair itself from all the damage and stress we put it through during the day. Less sleep means the body really can’t finish the repair cycle which, in turn, means more inflammation and breakouts.

More running around means higher stress levels. If someone isn’t eating well, or is simply experiencing higher stress levels than usual, this will cause more internal inflammation. This makes our skin get red and patchy more easily, and gives us a harder time digesting our food properly. Lack of digestion causes breakouts and internal inflammation and can result in eczema.

Skin needs more TLC during the fall especially, because the transition from humid to cold weather can be extremely drying. Dry skin is so fragile, and you have to do more to protect your lipid layer.

I suggest adding a day cream to your routine that contains soothing shea and cocoa butter — they melt at body temperature so they go right into the skin and stay there all day, so you don’t end up feeling dry halfway through the day. Also, another great ingredient to look for is avocado oil.  It contains so many amazing vitamins for the skin and lymphatic system, so it will depuff, hydrate and soothe the skin.

Should you do something to prepare your skin for a change in routine?

I always tell clients that my job is to figure out a fix for the skin in spite of their busy schedule.

Good skin care begins with a good diet. If you are breaking out or if you simply have dull skin, the best solution is to add more greens to your routine. I also recommend, applying my Daily Serum, which is like green juice for the skin because it stimulates the lymphatic system, oxygenates and hydrates without clogging skin.I always start with drinking more greens. I personally love Dr. Lipman’s Recharge shake (ed note: shoutout to my Dr.) because it’s quick and easy. I encourage clients to carry around those little envelopes so they can just mix it with water on the go. Another quick fix is a shot of chlorophyll in the morning before a long day. It actually gives you energy and will act as your skin’s savior for the day.

What can you do to “press reset” on your skin?

My secret weapon is a treatment called the Power Peel. It’s a detoxifying, resurfacing peel followed by LED therapy and oxygen to make them look like they have spent the last month in a health spa! Their glow is restored, and all the tired dehydrated skin is gone.

Exfoliation is like mini facial to restore your glow instantly!  My favorite at-home technique is super simple. I cleanse the skin and then apply my Exfoliating Mask to sleep in overnight. It will flatten any breakouts that you might have and I love that it evens out pigment in the skin so you look even and fresh in the morning.

What can you do to protect your skin during a crazy week, shift in your schedule, be it fashion week or anything else?

Sleep with a humidifier in your bedroom. It will add just enough moisture to the environment to give your skin the chance to do some real healing.  For those who are afraid of the bacteria that sometimes can accumulate in a humidifier, you can even get a little one that attaches to a mini water bottle. Another great tip for dealing with winter skin is to throw a half an avocado into your morning smoothie. The extra fats in avocado will make your skin soft and smooth from the inside out!

Thanks JV! <3, Sara

Everything You Need to Know to Get Pampered: The Detox Diaries Part 3

The Joanna Vargas oasis, courtesy of Joanna Vargas

How to truly relax? Schedule so many spa appointments that getting to them becomes incredibly stressful.

Read parts one and two of the DETOX DIARIES here and here.

Here are my picks for post-fashion week (or post-anything) bliss:

Joanna Vargas Triple Crown Facial
When it comes to Joanna Vargas, the question is really which A-lister doesn’t entrust her with the care of their pores? It is known that stress wreaks havoc on our skin and when I got to Vargas’s eponymous spa, I was looking like a model for the fact. When Joanna finished her microcurrent magic on just one side of my face, I felt like a chipmunk forced to spit out some nuts. My cheek was literally sculpted, my cheekbone lifted as though I’d gone under a knife. I’d been to JV before, but never to Joanna’s ‘office’ which is like the Versailles of skin care. Though this isn’t a facial where you’re simultaneously having a foot massage, it is 200% effective and somehow still very relaxing. Of course, none of that even matters when afterward, a look in the mirror reveals a newer, better version of you.

joanna sara

Bliss Spa Heel-Lelujah Pedicure
I don’t want to discuss what I looked like in sandals prior to my arrival at Bliss 57. The cheerful spa is one of my favorite spots in all NYC (who could resist those mini-brownies and blondies in the lounges?) but I’d never been to the nail salon. The Heel-lelujah, was, essentially my first fancy-grown-up pedicure ever and I’ve got to say, in spite of my ticklish squirming, my feet emerged softer than any $20 neighborhood place has ever accomplished. Of course, I shouldn’t be surprised–but now that I know the truth about fancy-grown-up pedicures, I fear for my wallet in the future.

bliss pedi

After an NYC summers, however, this is a downright necessary indulgence. Can’t make it to Bliss? One of the main products used is Bliss’s 24-Heaven body balm, which, thanks to it’s exfoliating lactic acid and soothing and protective colloidal oatmeal, provides moisture for 24 hours, and helps to treat itchiness, flakiness and generally restore angry skin.

Jin Soon Breath of Milk and Honey Mani
As Joanna Vargas is to facials, Jin Soon Choi is to nails. So it was not even a question that I’d head over to her UES haven to detox my nails. A manicure and green tea is pretty close to perfection for me any day, but Jin Soon’s understated lavender/grey Auspicious was extra-perfect, and thankfully, looked chic even on my short nails.

jin soon mani jin soon
Courtesy of Jin Soon

Caudalie (at the Plaza!) Slimming Treatment
Eloise is my fictional girl crush and Caudalie is one of my very favorite skincare brands (and I am serious about skincare) so my excitement was evident as I elevator-shoefied the shit out of those double P’s while riding to the 4th floor Vinotherapie spa at the storied hotel. This treatment is 50% vigorous massage, followed by you, in a sushi wrap of luxe scrub while the technician does a (thankfully) less vigorous massage on your scalp. After you’re unwrapped, you take a shower about a foot away in the treatment room and emerge feeling refreshed, detoxified, and possibly slimmer. The rooms provide a dark, kinda sexy counterpoint to the cheerful feeling at Bliss and left me feeling like I had in fact, visited Provence, if only for an hour.


caudalie plaza

The best part though? The upkeep, or, just the start, is available to anyone in the form of a 3-piece kit from Caudalie. I’m not one to embark on regimens but this simple process (2 products + tea) keeps the spa feeling going for twenty-eight days.

The Slimming Regimen from Caudalie–a spa in two bottles and a cup of tea

I needed this. You need this. We all need this.