My Multi-Sensory Beauty Must-Haves

With all the talk of aromatherapy and candles here lately, I thought it time to cover my multi-sensory must-haves. I call them that because they are part of a multi-sensory experience of clean beauty.  Natural beauty isn’t just about our bodies, but what we have around us.

It makes me feel beautiful to have pretty, nice smelling/sounding/tasting things around me—and it’s important to me that these things fit with my clean living attitude. Here are are some of the key items in my daily life…

Terra Cotta Pendant Diffuser from Mountain Rose Herbs: Our emotional brains respond very strongly to scent, and I’m a big fan of aromatherapy.  This cute little diffuser, which comes in different patterns, is a great way to very subtly use scent in your environment.  I put on a drop or two of a single essential oil on it, or my own EO blend, or even spray with my Lotus Wei perfume.  I hang one in my little home office nook and one in my bedroom, renewing with a scent I crave every few days.

Candles from Way Out Wax and tru mélange: When you are trying to live a clean lifestyle, there are so many little things to think about.  I was happy to find some nice smelling, non-toxic candles.  My favorites are simple scents that come in sweet little tins from Way Out Wax (orange, peppermint) and tru mélange (cocoa café, harmony).  Both brands use very pure ingredients, make simple and more complex scents, and produce a variety of candle styles, made from soy and beeswax/soy blends.  Typically, naturals don’t have as much power as a synthetic fragrance to fill a room, but I burn these in my anatomy lab after dissection days, and, yeah, they work.

Loose Leaf Tea from Mountain Rose Herbs, Bija Body, and Rishi: I’ve always been a tea drinker, and I used to think people who were way into loose-leaf teas were tea snobs.  Now I’m one of them.  In the past year or so, I’ve discovered the joys of a beautiful tea, with a powerful smell and taste that puts the average tea bag to shame.  Tea is part of my beauty from the inside regimen.  We’ve all heard of the potential benefits of tea, right?   My current favorites are Gunpowder Green Tea, Daily Beauty Tea (a tea and herb blend with a cayenne kick) and Masala Chai (I make it with honey and almond milk).

Meditative music and nature sounds: I’ve been using sound more often to ease into my beauty sleep, and accompany me into meditation (walking or sitting).  I use Relax Melodies Premium (especially the binaural beats) and Naturespace, apps with versions for iPhone and other devices.  There’s some nice music and chanting on iTunes, and I’m sure other sources too.  I was never able to sit more than a few minutes for meditation before I started using sound, and I love it for walking/running.  Also, my husband’s hockey team, which loses a lot, pounded their opponents after listening to a long Om chant in the locker room (I thought it was beautiful).

Aside from cosmetics, how do you bring clean beauty into your life?

I’m scared to ask, frankly, but I can’t help myself: What products are you guys looking for advice on? I ask because I have lots of fun new things taking up space on the cabinet where I keep such things, and I can’t decide where to start.

So, open question: What beauty problem is stumping you? What are you almost out of and looking to replace with something better? Be as specific as you can! This is where we get inspired.

Now, some blind-item options, should you need a boost: These are products we are loving. We’ll tell you about all of them, but what sounds most exciting to you now?

1. This hair product is from a line I’ve tried here and there in the past. It’s a spray-on leave-in, it smells bananas, but not like bananas, and it leaves my hair so soft and so loose. I use it three times a week, and I think it would work well on people with different hair textures, too.

2. This solid perfume took my breath away by the packaging alone. I instagrammed a photo of it! (No cheating.) It’s feminine but not sweet, it’s accessible, it’s all natural. My only beef? It’s so pretty that it’s on my altar instead of in my handbag. Champagne problems, I know.

3. This cleanser-toner-oil trio popped up at my house. I used them once, hesitantly, and my brain melted. I don’t mess around with my face, using the same products for years at a time. But I tried these, and I really, really like them. I think I’m sold on all three, and I think you guys might be too.

4. A makeup line we love has a new lipstick shade, which I recently discovered while shopping at ABC Home one chilly Saturday. “More of a lip stain,” said the woman who sold it to me. She was wrong, though. This puppy works best full-pigment, and it looks amazing on different complexions, too. New favorite?

5. A skincare line we love has two new detox masks out. I tried one, our friend Anna tried the other. I’m completely addicted to both.

So, yeah. The floor is open. What do you want more reviews of? And any of these entice you?


My MM: Amy’s Meatless Monday Menu

Short but sweet and delicious! Thanks Amy. Love peanut sauce: Anyone have a favorite recipe?

Name: Amy

Hometown: Boulder, CO

My dietary leanings: Mostly vegan + occasional sushi binges and some minor leniency when eating out

My favorite vegetable: Kale

This morning I ate…

A smoothie made with a frozen banana, 1/4 cup frozen blueberries, and fresh juice consisting of kale, cucumber, lemon, ginger, and green apple

Then for lunch it was…

A whole wheat tortilla wrap with baked crispy tempeh strips, baked zucchini strips, a smear of homemade hummus, spinach, carrot, and daikon.

For a snack I had a piece of fruit and a handful of roasted chickpeas – my latest obsession.

Finally for dinner I had…

Soba noodles with rainbow chard, carrots, mushrooms, sugar snap peas, and seaweed, topped with homemade peanut sauce.

Last but not least, dessert…

A homemade chocolate chip cookie that I like to pretend is healthy because it’s made with whole wheat, flax, and applesauce. :)


6 Aromatherapy Blends I Can’t Live Without

“Does anyone actually use aromatherapy every day?!”

I was asked this very reasonable question the other day at work. My answer: “Have you ever been in my office?”

I get it, though. Even for those of us who embrace integrative medicine, use organic beauty products and regularly get stuck with tiny needles, aromatherapy can seem a little frou-frou: an indulgence, a touch cosmetic. For a long time, that’s how I felt. Sure, I always had some cheap lavender by the bed. An old friend called it my “sleep juice” because I’d developed a habit of dabbing a little on the skin under my nose before retiring, but that’s as far as I went. I suspected aromatherapy might be a very useful tool, if only I could remember to use the stuff.

Since then I’ve developed a more sophisticated relationship with essential oils. If you haven’t done the same, I’d like to encourage you to.

That’s because aromatherapy can, I believe, kill a cold in its tracks, transform your stressful day into a productive one, help you unwind after work, gear you up for important meetings, and, much more simply, make you feel happy. It also has the added benefit of helping those around you, too, without them even realizing it.

I’m getting pretty deep into researching how aromatherapy really works and when I’m done, I’ll share that. For now, I’ll share the six products, from three lines, that I use every single day:

1. Tata Harper Irritability Treatment

We’ve discussed this one before. As much as it is, in fact, an irritability zapper, this is also my daily perfume. There’s no getting around it: People freak out when they smell it. It’s impossible to describe, but it’s complex and gorgeous and unlike anything I’ve ever smelled. A lady on the train stopped me the other week—it’s the only way I can handle commuting on the jam-packed 4 train at 8 am—and asked me what I was wearing. I dug into my giant bag and produced the little vial to show her. Her eyes went wild while she smelled it, so I invited her to put some on. She did, and then pulled out a notebook to write down its name. “You made everyone on the train happy just by coming on this car!” I melted…and I kind of think she was right.

When I use it: Before I get on the subway in the morning, before hot dates, before important meetings.
How it makes me feel: Like…myself? In a good way.

2. Essence of Vali Sleep Bedtime Ritual

We wrote in the book that we’d wear this as perfume, too, if it weren’t for its completely unsubtle narcotic properties. This stuff knocks me out, inducing sleep as deep as a baby’s. I like to shake a few drops onto my hands, cup them over my nose, then take 10 very deep breaths. I try not to do this every night, lest it stop working at some point. I gave this stuff to a colleague when she was going through a terrible breakup and she swore up and down it worked. I’ve subjected boyfriends to it, too. I’ve yet to find someone upon whom it does not cast a sleepy spell.

When I use it: Only the second I’m ready to sleep. It works usually within 10 minutes.
How it makes me feel: Couldn’t tell you. I’m asleep, remember?

3. Hope Gillerman Travel Remedy. Hope Gillerman is, I’m convinced, the standard-bearer for high-quality, potent EOs that work almost medicinally—and I’m not just saying that because she’s my next-door neighbor. She’s a natural healer, and I first met her a couple of years ago when she gave me a complimentary Alexander Technique treatment. That was so cool! Even cooler, for me at the time, was the aromatherapy 101 class she gave me before the session. I left her office with the Stress Remedy, which I adore. But lately, my go-to is her Travel Remedy. I wrote about it recently, when I started using it to fend off a seasonal cold. I’ve also used her Muscle Relief on my achey bones (and the achey bones of skeptics): always works. And on my desk at work, I have her Tension Remedy. It’s invigorating and a little zesty, perking me up when I’m computer-tired or anxious about a big meeting. Works every time.

When I use it: All day. Travel Remedy when I feel rundown; Stress when I’m feeling unshiny and haggard from a tough day; Muscle after a killer yoga glass or boot camp; Tension on the go, during the work day.
How it makes me feel: I’ve already explained this, but let me add: The Stress and Tension remedies make me feel much more present, much more in the moment.

Your turn. What’s been your experience with aromatherapy? Anything you love or—gasp—can’t live without?


Happy Friday Deal From Us And Kahina Giving Beauty!

Kahina lovers rejoice! Today on Open Sky, we have a deal on a luxey Kahina spa set. If you are  new to the site (welcome!) then you should know that Kahina makes some of our favorite argan oil based products. These are extremely high quality and ethically sourced, with part of profits going back to the community of Berber women in Morocco who extract the argan oil. We love them sooo much—and apparently so does Oprah too, who picked this set as a favorite. (Go Kahina!!!)

Here’s the deal: Get Kahina’s argan oil, eye cream, and antioxidant mask—valued at $145—for $116. Plus automatic free shipping because the order is over $100. That’s a nice 20% savings, and well worth it if you’ve ever tried these products (and are as wild about them as we are). Oh, and the pretty bag! You get that too. :)

But you have to hustle on this one, because it’s only on for today. Have you tried Kahina? Which products?

If you’re not familiar with Open Sky, it’s a shopping site that offers hand-picked deals from celebs, experts, and people like us! If you’re into deals, you should become a member. And if you hate deals (and emails) you shouldn’t!

Have a great weekend. xo