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How The Well: Free Ways To Practice Self-Care Without Having To Buy One Product

Wellness and spas might seem like a luxury, but in fact, they are a necessity.

Spas and wellness have become part of a billion dollar industry, and while that means more people we are willing to pay for self-care and healing, it also means that those who cannot afford it get left behind. With new and innovative brands and treatments on the horizon the next frontier of wellness might become even more expensive and inaccessible. Wellness and spas might seem like a luxury, but in fact, they are a necessity. This is especially true when you, or someone you love, suffers with an “invisible illness”, and could use extra self-care. An invisible illness is a label that explains what it feels like living with a chronic illness that often does not exhibit obvious physical symptoms to those around us. Major depressive disorder, anxiety disorders, PTSD, arthritis, fibromyalgia, lupus and Crohn’s disease are just a few examples of illnesses that are painful but not always visible. Invisible diseases are not invisible to those who lives with them – to them the effects of the illness are very real, debilitating and often times chronic.

Social media would have you believe that you need to buy a ton of products in order to practice self-care. We scroll, compare ourselves, shop unnecessary skincare, and worry that we are not doing enough for our wellbeing. The good news is, you are being sold products and a wellness lifestyle you might not need.

Vintage spa ad from Budapest

Presenting four ways you can practice self-care in ways that are beneficial and free.

Water Therapy. Ancient texts tell us that humans worshipped, and understood, the healing power of plants and water. In the past, medical community often prescribed trips to the country or to thermal spas in order to heal all types of ailments. German priest, Sebastian Kneipp, is a great example of someone who advocated naturopathic medicine. After healing from tuberculosis with the help of cold baths in the Danube river, he proceeded to help cholera patients. People travelled to seek his treatment and he gladly provided it for free. During the course of his research on the powers of hydrotherapy, Father Kneipp supplemented his forms of therapy with additional healing methods: plants, exercise, nutrition and balance. To this day, these are the Five Pillars of the Kneipp brand. The “Water Cure”, in addition to Kneipp’s other healing methods, is meant to strengthen the entire system and promote circulation.

Image courtesy of Kneipp.com

How To: Try the Contrast Shower

A contrast shower is exactly what it sounds like. Alternating between very warm and very cold water. Try it 2 or 3 times at the end of your shower routine, always ending your shower with cold water. Cold showers are a good way to wake yourself up and gain more energy. The benefits of contrast showers are similar to those you might get from a hot and cold plunge at the spa – improved circulation, help with muscle aches, energy boost, healthier skin and hair, but most importantly depression alleviation (cold shower boosts a flow of blood into your brain, causing a quick release of endorphins). The results are euphoric. If you have a heart condition, make sure to check with your doctor first.

As a hydrotherapist, writer, and inventor of the American Costume (a less restrictive dress for women), Harriet N. Austin was a woman ahead of her time. This is her manual on how to take baths.

At-Home Baths

Sebastian Kneipp is not the only example of someone who helped prescribe the “water cure”. The father of medicine himself, Hippocrates, prescribed and documented hydrotherapy as a powerful treatment. Whether you enjoy meditating to the sound of waves, swimming in the lake, drinking water, or playing a water sport, you are taking part in healing and nurturing yourself with the powerful force that is water. Baths are known to have many benefits, and one of them is better sleep. If you have trouble sleeping a warm bath one or two hours before bedtime will likely result in better and deeper sleep. Studies have shown that when we soak in a warm bath the increased blood circulation helps rid us of warmth through our hands and feet, therefore lowering the core body temperature. Since our body temperature lowers around bedtime, giving the process a nudge will help you fall asleep faster. This proves that baths are not just for hygiene or relaxation, but can be therapeutic.

Photography by Melissa Askew

Grounding or Earthing. I know what you are thinking – grounding sounds like a wellness buzzword, but this is no trend. Humans knowingly, or unknowingly, do this since birth. We enjoy putting our bare feet in grass or sand, feeling the earth. It is as simple as taking your shoes off and making direct skin contact with the surface of the earth. Your local park, forest, or backyard is available and free. Earth supplies endless electrons to heal and recharge you. Studies have shown that doing this helps with inflammation, immune responses, wound healing, and prevention and treatment of chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. One could say that grounding is a free gift from Mother Earth. Try it for yourself, and get the kids involved.

Tapping and Acupressure. Tapping works like accupresure. This ancient Chinese remedy uses fingers instead of needles, so it is free and available for you to do at home. Tapping is becoming a legitimate form of therapy used by the medical community with studies being done on the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) for anyone who suffers with depression and anxiety. This self-help therapy can be taught to you by your doctor or you can try it out on your own. Tapping stimulates the flow of dopamine and can help with anxiety, stress, PTSD, pain, and depression. Learning about acupressure points can also help you with muscle and headache pain, stimulate circulation, improves sleep and digestion, and promote lymphatic drainage.

Getty Images. The karate chop point is first in your 9 point sequence.

How To: Using The Tapping Technique

Tapping can help you relax because it sends calming signals to the brain, but it can also help you with a specific goal. No matter what you seek (ex: more self-love, anxiety-relief or anger management), come up with a positive affirmative statement to repeat to yourself while you go through your tapping routine. The typical statement begins with: “Even though I have this anxiety, I love and accept myself.” You can fill in your own “even though I have.”

Instructions: Choose a side. The side of your body does not matter. Tap with two fingers, your point and middle finger will do. Then learn the main points where you will start tapping.

Hand. More specifically the karate chop point of your hand, where the fleshy part is.

Brow. More specifically where the beginning of your eyebrow begins.

Cheekbone. Slide down the eyebrow, more specifically to the side of your face where the eyebrows ends and your cheekbone begins.

Underneath the eye. More specifically, in the middle of

Underneath the nose.

Chin. More specifically on the crease between your lip and your chin.

Both sides of your collarbone. You can take your whole hand and with extended fingers tap both at the same time. One other way of doing this is by crossing your arms and tapping with your fingers on the collar bone.

Underneath your armpit.

Top of head.

DIY Skin Care: Store bought skin care is convenient, but expensive, and full of ingredients you can’t pronounce. From Ayurvedic skincare to Slavic herbal treatments, many women all over the world rely on ingredients picked directly from nature. You might have all the skincare ingredients you need right in your refrigerator or garden and not even know it. If you find yourself low on cash and in a bind, get innovative. You would be surprised to know how many celebrities rely on their homemade recipes to get that glowing and camera-ready complexion.

Stephanie Gerber’s Hello Glow recipe book is one of our favorite DIY recipe books out there. The Hello Glow website provides free recipes.

Our tried-and-true at-home recipes

Anti-inflammatory And Brightening Face Mask: Mix 1/2 cup of plain greek yogurt with one teaspoon of turmeric and one spoon of honey. For an even more effective mask, add in a few drops of lemon (be careful with adding too much lemon as it can be acidic).

Nettle Hair Extract For Shiny Hair:

  • Pick fresh nettle in your garden. Nettle is a weed so it is widely available. If you are in a bind, purchase it from an herbal shop. Be aware: Do not handle nettle with bare hands! The plant is harmless but stings. My grandmother picked it with her bare hands as she swore it helped with arthritis.
  • Depending on how much extract you will need, either use a medium pot or a large pot of water, and bring to boil.
  • Remove the pot from the burner and throw in nettle leaves or whole plants.
  • Allow the plans to steep for about 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Drain with a colander and you will be left with just the liquid. What you are left with is a natural hair extract to be used after your shampoo. To cool it, put it in the refrigerator.
  • Simply rinse your hair after washing. There is no need to keep it on your hair for longer than a new minutes. Rinse out and follow with conditioner.

Wellness & The City: 10 Wellness Temples for Spa Worshiping New Yorkers

Living in one of the busiest cities in the world means we love escaping to the spa whenever we get the chance. At the start of the pandemic we naturally worried about the industry and its employees. We missed our community! This year, the International Spa Association re-launched its conference in Vegas, and the industry reunited. The International Spa Association has been the voice of American spas since 1999, and is known all over the world. Their latest statistics on the industry’s recovery prove that people value wellness more than ever. A Power Session at the 2022 ISPA Conference revealed the Big Five Statistics with the help of a study commissioned by PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC). The US Spa Industry revenues grew from $12.1 billion in 2020 to $18.1 billion, an increase of more than 49 percent and just below the industry’s all-time high of $19.1 billion in 2019. The number of spa visits grew from 124 million in 2020 to 173 million, while the total number of U.S. spas fell only slightly from 21,560 in 2020 to 21,510 in 2021. A notable increase in revenue per spa visit—up from $97.5 in 2020 to $104.5 last year—played a crucial role in elevating industry revenues. The number of industry employees also rose in 2021, increasing to 345,000 from 304,800 in 2020. The good news is that the industry has seen a return to near pre-pandemic revenue levels, even as staffing challenges persist.

ISPA President, Lynne McNees, said: “We are thrilled to report strong signs of recovery for our industry, including a six billion dollar increase in total revenue. We are confident that this positive trend will continue, and we look forward to seeing how members use this new industry and consumer data to further elevate the industry.”

In honor of these numbers, and the Mental Health Awareness Month, we give you our ultimate list of wellness spaces where New Yorkers come to get away from it all. From the hidden, to the influencer-famous, wellness spaces in New York City provide much-needed sanctuary from noise, pollution, and the never-ending hustle.

The Well

Meet Your Wellness Community. The Well brought New Yorkers a real holistic wellness experience. There is no other place like it. This is a full-service spa, education center, shop, restaurant, and a healing retreat. From vitamin-infusion drips to Biologique Recherche facials, The Well is a place where you can meet other likeminded people or come to for much-needed alone time. The stylish interior and friendly service beckons you to stay a while and focus on your health.

La Maison Valmont at The Carlyle

Luxury on the Upper East Side. The Carlyle is world-famous, but as of late it has also seen a new type of visitor. Gen Z and Millennials have started to flock here for the well-known Bemelman’s Bar. As of this year there is an even better reason to visit – La Maison Valmont. Valmont’s first ever New York City flagship retail shop and spa opened inside The Carlyle, giving us an insider look into all things Valmont. The Swiss luxury brand is known for long history of effective anti-aging skincare and cutting edge spa treatments. Come here to get your skin analysis, shop, book a treatment, and have a cocktail afterwards. When it comes to luxury, The Carlyle truly has it all.

Great Jones Spa

Where New Yorkers Take The Plunge. For a quick hot and cold plunge or hours long relaxation, visit the Great Jones Spa. Native New Yorkers have been coming here for the “water-cure” since the early 2000’s. The affordable day pass and oasis-like environment makes this the ideal spa to meet friends or even a date. Come here for the amenities, like their water lounge, or book a massage. The no-frills spa delivers tried-and-true spa treatments, refreshments, and a shop with all your spa skincare essentials.

Chillhouse

Step Into Your Chill Space. Chillhouse is a modern wellness space for trendy treatments, like an infrared sauna, gel manicures, and creative chill lattes. If you find yourself in need of a special manicure in a comfortable place this is the place to do it. The posh and clean interior helps you take a time-out from the stress of living in the city. Invite a friend or two and share the stress-relief. We love the uplifting energy of this space and the branded products that can help you chill at home.

Bathhouse

For The Modern Wellness Warrior. Manhattan is not the only place stressed out New Yorkers go to relax. Bathhouse is a chic Williamsburg spa offering attractive spa amenities like hot and cold plunge pools and a private bath soak sanctuary. This is the kind of place that makes you want to spend a few hours. Try the Hammam Scrub, it is heavenly? For an all day event, we recommend booking a couples massage, enjoying the amenities and making a reservation for dinner at their restaurant afterwards. Forget the influencer hype and try it out for yourself.

Modrn Sanctuary

Healing Every Part Of You! Whether you need a quick lunch break respite in a pink Himalayan salt room, or see the chiropractor, Modrn Sanctuary has it all! This healing space offers an extensive menu of options to help you on your journey towards a healthier you. Our favorite way to relax here is with the Infrared Salt Sauna, Salt Room, or getting a Lymphatic Drainage treatment. In fact, we recommend doing your research on all their treatments and find one that suits your needs. This place is full of surprises.

ZZ Day Spa

Make It a Self-Care Day. ZZ Day Spa is a hidden sanctuary in Herald Square. From the moment you enter, to the moment you leave, you are treated like royalty. This spa might be small, but it has one of the most comfortable lounges. If you seek experienced aestheticians, come here to get pampered with reputable brands like Repechage. We came in to try the brand’s new Hydra Dew Facial, and walked out feeling absolutely refreshed.

QC NY

Wellness Experience Unlike Anything Else. QC NY is a newly opened Italian spa located on Governors Island. That’s right, we said Governor’s Island. QC Terme Spas and Resorts built a stylish escape just a few minutes from Manhattan. From elegant relaxation lounges to water therapy, this is exactly the kind of day spa New Yorkers deserve. Do yourself a favor, book a trip on the Governor’s Island Ferry and have yourself a mini getaway. Beware, the outdoor pools might not be open yet!

Salt Live Energized

Breathe Easy with Salt Therapy! If you cannot make it to the beach, the next best thing is Salt Live Energized in the West Village. Considering the city pollution and the effects of Covid-19 on our lungs, a salt air therapy center is exactly what New Yorkers need. The natural anti-bacterial salt air widens your airways, loosens clinging mucus, and reduces inflammation. The duo behind this wellness space takes lung health seriously.

Shibui Spa at the Greenwich Hotel

Worthy Of a Staycation! Last, but not least, is Shibui Spa. Entering this luxury hotel spa in the West Village transports you to a Japanese-style wellness oasis. Interior details, like wood and stone, help make this space look traditional. Practitioners here are trained in both ancient and modern treatments – we recommend booking an Onsen Ritual. This is the kind of place where you forget about being in New York City, sit back and breathe in tranquility. Try yoga by the pool or relax with a hot tea in the lounge. Come here with someone special, because it truly feels like a vacation!

Earth Day 2022: Love Your Mother By Cleaning Up Your Act With Brands That Care

The beauty industry is a big contributor to pollution. Every year beauty companies produces 120 billion units of packaging globally, and according to the CEO of Prose, 20 and 40 percent of beauty products (depending on the category) end up being thrown out. Compare the Market Australia gathered the data on the world’s biggest plastic offender. China has the first spot with over 169 million plastic waste produced every day, followed closely by the U.S (109.96m) and the third spot goes to Germany (40.31m). The US Environmental Protection Agency reported that less than 10% of plastic gets recycled and the average person consumes 40 pounds of plastic in their lifetime. Needless to say plastics is a big problem. The solution? As a consumer you can only do so much but you do have buying power. Choose personalized skincare that you know is effective and you use to the last drop. Another great option is shopping at zero waste businesses, and learning to get in the habit of refilling your products. Always read up on brand philosophy and transparency before you buy. Lastly, help put pressure on the government with your VOTE. Accountability matters!

To celebrate Mother Earth, we give you some of our favorite eco brands. These brands are on a mission to improve the industry and were built with the environment in mind.

Bite deodorant refills in paper packaging.

Bite

Bite started out with oral care. Founder, Lindsay McCormick, wanted to correct the plastic problem in commercial toothpastes and decided to make her own. The Bite line of products expanded to body balms and deodorants. We cannot wait to see what they come up with next. Appealing to both men and women, Bite’s deodorant packaging is likely the most attractive on the market right now. We know the outside is 100% plastic-free, but what about the inside? All three scents are baking soda-free, aluminum-free, palm oil and palm oil derivative-free, and contain safe synthetic fragrances. We are in love!

Haoma Earth Mask for a more toned, refreshed complexion.

Haoma

Anti-aging, but make it natural! Haoma combined the ancient wisdom of plants with modern science. Their beauty philosophy focuses on aging gracefully while slowing down the process naturally and with quality ingredients in mind. While searching for the highest quality ingredients the brand considers the environment by ensuring their supplies use organic farming practices. Haoma further loves the planet with their recycling program, and reforestation partner, Trees.org. Trees For The Future has planted 250,000 million trees since 1989, and when you purchase from Haoma, you can be a part of that. We love their aluminum tubes. Try the clarifying Earth Mask for breakouts or when your skin needs a refresher.

Bathing Culture Outer Being Face & Body Oil is offered in two sizes and is refillable.

Bathing Culture

Bathing Culture speaks to our soul! Their philosophy on getting clean could not be more straight forward, yet it speaks volumes with style and environmentally friendly practices. Working and manufacturing in the US, the founders continue to make innovative improvements on packaging. When you fall in love with a product you have the option to get a larger refill, never having to get rid of the original bottle. The Outer Being Face & Body Oil is a great example, and because it is a multitasker you can save on having to buy other products. The oil was designed to give reprieve from the harsh elements of the salty Pacific and windy Sierra peaks, reducing inflammation, locking in moisture and even soothing acne-prone skin.

Attitude shampoo bars are a good way to become a responsible consumer.

Attitude

Keep your routine, but ditch the plastic! Attitude is a Canadian company that truly has all the personal care products you could ever need. Not only are they natural, hypoallergenic, cruelty-free, their ingredients are EWG Verified. From bar shampoos to biodegradable baby diapers, this brand teaches their consumer that there is a better way to shop. We love their shampoo and conditioner bars. The hydrating bars leave your hair shiny and soft, proving that quality has no need for a plastic bottle. Solid beauty bars are one of the best ways to get on a path towards being environmentally conscious.

Minimalistic skincare, but make it eco-friendly.

Typology

Demystifying skincare with Typology. Typology figured out a way to be stylish, environmentally friendly, and make skincare products you want to use. For example, their recyclable flat shaped bottles help reduce the carbon footprint by optimizing shipping volume. The amber color of the glass vials also protects the serums from light. With founder Ning Li at the helm, this brand continues to innovate and improve the way they present packaging to the consumer. The French skincare brand offers gentle peels, toners, eye products, and more. For glowing skin we recommend the Plumping Serum and Gentle Peeling Serum. The website helps you figure out the right product for you with a diagnostic test.

The Earthing Co. can help you make good choices for you and your planet.

The Earthing Co.

Ditch the waste! The Earthing Co. is truly plastic-free and teaches its customer that daily routines don’t require waste. The soft Bamboo Cotton Rounds are a great example of a way you can reduce waste, which in turn saves you money. When you are done using them, simply throw them in the washing machine in the provided mesh bag. We love The Earthing starter kit, (which includes a bar of shampoo, conditioner, soap, soap dish, and a soap saver bag), as a way to get started on your sustainable journey. The brand prides itself on its transparency and partnerships with The Plastic Ocean Project, Re:wild and Global Greengrants Fund.

Easter Bathing: Slavic Easter Traditions To Help You Stay Healthy All Year Long

What would you say if I told you Slavic people celebrate Easter with whips and water fights? I know what you are thinking. Whipping? Bathing? Allow me to explain. As is the case with a lot of Catholic holidays, Easter is a mix of christian and pagan traditions. Pagans celebrated the festival of spring, and what a celebration it was! They jumped over fires, danced, hung eggs from tress, and made time for love. The resurrection of Chris was far from their minds.

While Good Friday and Easter Sunday say Easter to most of the world, in Slovakia, Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, and other countries, the celebration continues on Monday. Monday after Easter Sunday is a national holiday in these countries, and it is purely reserved for eating and socializing. Here is where things get a little weird. It is on this day that women and girls prepare for company that comes over to whip them, and either gently sprinkle water on them, or outright drenches them in buckets of it. If you live near a river, a dunk in the water is not out of the question. The Easter whip is made of willow branches, or other bendy twigs. It is artfully braided into a long whip and girls decorate it with ribbons. It is a symbol for fertility and the one doing the whipping recites a rhyme. Of course some traditions are the same all over: homes and tables are proudly decorated with artisanal eggs, there is plenty of food for hungry visitors, and to satisfy the sweet tooth, there is the Easter lamb cake. While most of the visitors include family, neighbors and school mates, a stranger (or a group of them) might attempt a visit as well. Whether you let them in, or not, is up to you. These customs used be taken very seriously, but be assured, the days of strangers coming to whip you and throw you in the river are gone. In modern day Slovakia, the whipping holiday custom requires consent and knowing your visitors. A normal visit consists of a respectful exchange, or a fun water fight in the back yard. Any aggressive ambushing is not accepted by the new generations of Slovaks. Before the company leaves, you feed them, present them with your best decorated egg, and tie a ribbon on their whip. Shots of vodka are another common way to thank your visitors. By now, you might be thinking: What, and why?

To Pagans Easter is a day that symbolizes re-birth, fertility, and the welcoming of spring with health in mind. Looking at the Slavic traditions, one cannot help but think of these rituals as something nature-worshipping celts and pagans might have done. It is these traditions that make Slovakia and the Czech Republic special.

When I was a child growing up in Slovakia, Easter both excited and terrified me. I loved dressing up and weaving a special flower headpiece, but made sure to wear pants under my skirt. Looking back, I find the custom of whipping interesting, but certainly problematic. My family continues the tradition even in New York, and it is always civil, fun, and even rejuvenating. Many women welcome visitors in the name of beauty, fertility and good health. If you visit Slovakia during Easter and see men chasing women around in their back yards, do not be alarmed. It is very likely that they are having fun, and before you call the custom sexist, be assured that women get to play their part in whipping as well. It all ends up being a fun game of chasing each other with whips and water. Yes, the tradition is strange and has murky history, but most holidays do. The Slavic people grew up celebrating Easter in this manner, and to them it is normal. With that said, good luck explaining it to the rest of the world!

Upstate New York Experience At Kenoza Hall, An Upscale Wellness Retreat In A Class Of Its Own

These Are Not Your Grandmother’s Catskills

Before airplane travel became the norm, New York families sought easily accessible refuge in the Catskill mountains. Then the grandkids stopped going. My own immigrant family settled in the Catskills in the 1960s, acquiring property that would help the slavic community vacation. Even though I live in New York City I consider upstate to be my personal refuge. Today’s upstate continues to reel in a new kind of visitor – younger generations from all over the world come to the mountainous region for relaxation and inspiration. Fortunately, some things remain the same. From blueberry picking and hiking, to nighttime campfires and vintage shopping, some aspects of upstate still remind me of childhood.

Photo courtesy of kenozahall.com

It is safe to say that the Catskills are in their heyday once again. New and restored hotels sprouting all over Upstate New York have plenty to offer to new and loyal visitors alike. Among the many new retreats, Kenoza Hall is in a class of its own. Not only is it awe-inspiring and well-preserved, it has everything you could ask for. The historical Catskill structure was once a boarding house, dating back to the 1800s. The impressive 55 acre property includes 22 guest rooms, a fine dining restaurant, full-service bar, Hemlock spa, walking paths, pool, and private access to a lake. My decision to stay here was driven by Hemlock Spa’s wellness philosophy. I was excited to find out that the spa offers Kneipp-inspired body treatments and hydrotherapy.

The five pillars of the Kneipp philosophy: water, plants, exercise, nutrition and balance, allow you to experience the full effects of nature. Known as the “water doctor”, Sebastian Kneipp was a priest who studied the healing benefits of water and medicinal plants, applying his knowledge to helping cholera patients. It is no wonder that naturopathy and hydrotherapy are at the core of Kenoza Hall. Whichever way you spa, eat, or relax here, you are sure to find bliss and rejuvenation. Upon entering the spa, I had to try the Kneipp Walking Path. Grounding, or Earthing, is among one of the most accessible but neglected ways we can connect with nature. You simply touch your bare feet to the earth, and in this case, different textures. Connecting to the earth’s electric charges is an excellent mood booster. After spending some time in the barrel sauna I enjoyed unwinding in the relaxation space. Listening to bird songs and sipping on warm tea near a roaring fire was the perfect antidote to city stress. Past and recent studies have shown that listening to birds lifts our spirits and allows us to feel safe. Coming here with goals of soothing sore muscles, it was not long before I was tempted by the outdoor hot tub. As soon as I walked out into the cool air and entered the hot water I felt euphoric. It was the highlight of my stay. The overnight storm provided a blanket of fresh snow, providing a magical backdrop.

The blissfulness of the spa is not the only perk at Kenoza Hall. Depending on the season you can either choose to have a tranquil retreat that calls for quiet evenings with a glass of wine and a board game by the fire, or an activity filled stay with lake sports and hiking escapades. In the Catskills there are whimsical details and activities everywhere. Both the indoors and the outdoors have a way of luring you in. Sinking into rich toned chairs by the fire and taking a brisk walk to the lake were equally welcomed.

Foodis will find that the in-house dining and drink menus, along with service are nothing to sneer at. Anyone fond of the Old World Continental Cuisine will find Chef de Cuisine Matt Ranalletta and his team offer delicious classics such as Oysters Rockefeller, Dover Sole a la Meunière, and Gnocchi Parisienne. We opted for a Red Wine Chilean Sea Bass and Gnocchi Parisienne. If you seek dinner and drinks outside of the hotel, we recommend visiting The Junction in Roscoe.

The Victorian style boarding house was lovingly restored by Foster Supply Hospitality’s husband-and-wife team Sims and Kirsten Foster. Foster Supply is behind other Catskill getaways: The DeBruce, The Arnold House and North Branch Inn. The two hour drive from NYC is worth it, but don’t take our word for it. Whether you choose to stay in your room soaking in the tub or explore the outdoors, this wellness retreat is a must-see in person.

Your Guide To Getting a Good Night’s Sleep: Tips From Experts To Help You Improve Your Sleep Hygiene

Sweet slumber could be yours!

Sleep is a mystery, and I often want to solve it. As someone who likes to stay up late into the wee hours of the night, but also needs eight hours to function, I tend to struggle with finding a healthy rhythm. As a beauty editor I know sleep is important, not to mention the fountain of youth, yet I continue to fight it. Overall 35% of Americans don’t get the recommended seven hours of sleep each night, but an average of 6.8 hours is not that bad. Unfortunately when you start to break it down 97% of teenagers get less than the recommended amount of sleep, 6 out of 10 college students don’t get adequate sleep, and roughly 20% of Americans have a sleep disorder. 75% of people who suffer from depression and/or anxiety have problems with sleep and 45% of the world’s population have issues with sleep.

There are many studies and statistics to show that on average we are much more sleep deprived than our ancestors. Many wellness and health experts have a lot to say on the subject. Here are their tips!

Jessica Cording, Registered Dietitian, Author and Podcast Host

Registered Dietitian and Nutrition Health Coach, Jessica Cording, is a firm believer in the power of baby steps. The healthy living expert also happens to be a journalist, podcaster and author of The Little Book of Game Changers: 50 Healthy Habits for Managing Stress & Anxiety. In her Drama-Free Healthy Living Podcast episode on sleep, Jessica helps her clients and listeners understand the importance of a balanced lifestyle and provides sleep tips. Her easy hacks help set you up for success. Here is what she recommends:

Create An Evening Routine – Set an adequate bedtime and keep it within the same hour or two-hour window every night. 

Power Down – Give your body and brain time to shift from “awake-and-doing-things” mode to “bedtime” mode. Do this by setting your daytime tasks aside and stop eating an hour before bed. You do not want to go to sleep hungry or feeling too full. 

Eat Foods That Support and Enhance Serotonin – Neurotransmitter serotonin is a chemical precursor to melatonin, the main hormone involved in sleep. Eating foods that enhance serotonin will help get you in the mood for sleep. Try to incorporate animal protein like chicken or fish, bananas, avocados or chickpea in your nighttime diet.

Sleep Environment – Keep your room cool and dark. Secretion of melatonin is dramatically affected by light exposure to the eyes so the darker your room the less trouble you will have falling asleep. Keep electronics out of sight and if you watch TV before bed set a shut-off timer. 

Sleep Aids – Get into a calm mind-set with meditation, a white noise machine, aromatherapy, gentle massage, or a mellow activity like reading. 

Breathing Exercises – Try the 4-7-8 breathing technique. Inhale quietly through your nose for 4 seconds, hold for 7 seconds. Exhale through your mouth, making a whoosh sound, for 8 seconds. Repeat 4 times, or more if needed. 

Be Gentle With Yourself – Routines take time. Be consistent and you will start seeing results. 

Recent sleep studies warn that light could be the culprit for lack of quality sleep. Dr. Nilong Vyas, MD is a pediatrician and founder of Sleepless in NOLA. She specializes in helping parents establish healthy sleep habits for children and is on Sleep Foundation’s medical review panel. Dr. Vyas explains the science behind the effects of light on the eyes.

“Your eyes are your direct connection to the part of the brain that controls the circadian rhythm. It is…interpreted by the brain to allow the chemical reactions to take place for healthy (or unhealthy) sleep cycles. If there is a significant amount of light interference at a time when your body is trying to sleep it can cause poor sleep or unhealthfully programmed sleep cycles, which can lead to a significant number of other medical issues. Gradually decreasing and ultimately eliminating light from your sleep environment will allow for improved sleep.”

Molly J. Blackberry Rose Sleep Formula

Molly J. founder Shaina Kerrigan struggled with getting quality sleep, and developed a proprietary sleep formula to help with deep sleep. She feels that sleep is the most important thing you can prioritize for the health of your body and mind, but also knows that “good” sleep feels different for every individual body. Here are her tips for better sleep hygiene.

Stop drinking alcohol a few hours before bedtime. I know – I came right out with a zinger. There’s an overwhelming amount of data that shows consuming alcohol too close to bedtime can keep your heart rate elevated and prevent the true amount of REM and deep sleep needed to wake up feeling refreshed the next day. I’ve made this a soft rule for myself – indulging in a glass of wine for happy hour, but cutting things off by 6pm, for example – and the change is incredibly noticeable.

Invest in great bedding – most notably, your pillow. There’s a reason why we partnered up with Coop for this – I’m obsessed with COOP’s pillows. I take mine with me on every vacation now, and my whole group of friends are hooked on them, too. Outside of that, find yourself a breathable yet comfortable blanket, making sure it has some weight to calm your body. If your mattress or bed frame squeaks throughout the night, plan to invest in upgrades at some point. Lastly, if you’re a side sleeper, get a body pillow to keep your hips in alignment. 

White noise machines aren’t just for kids. My husband and I started using a white noise machine when sharing hotel rooms with our kids, and now we can’t be without one ourselves. I’m sure there’s some scientific research that dives into this, but just turning on the sound of our white noise machine seems to signal our body to relax, and it makes dozing off a thousand times easier.

Jot down middle-of-the-night thoughts. One of my favorite sleep hacks that actually works is to roll over and jot down any thoughts onto a note. Waking up with a to-do can be sleep suicide, since you’ll likely start to think about it, plan it out, remember more to-do’s etc., and before you know it, hours have gone by. Getting it down on “paper” and knowing it’ll be there for you the next day allows your brain to let it go and settle back into sleep easily. 

Find the right supplements. Make sure you have the right supplements on hand, in case you really truly can’t sleep on your own and need outside assistance. Natural is always better, so I opt for melatonin and CBN, over more extreme measures like Ambien. We made our Blackberry Rose Sleep Gumdrops with that mission in mind, with a formula of CBD, CBN, Melatonin and natural flavors that act as antioxidants for tranquility and calm. It continues to be our #1 bestseller with the highest customer retention – i.e. the product with the most customers coming back for more. 

Invest in an Oura Ring. Seriously, this changed my life. When it comes to sleep, the Oura ring goes deeper than any other wearable device by reporting back on the previous night’s Total Duration, Efficiency, Restfulness, REM sleep, Deep sleep, Latency, Heart Rate, Heart Rate Variability, and more. With all that data, it’ll give you a Readiness score for the day along with tips on how much to exert yourself based on those measurements. My Oura ring is where I determined even one glass of wine too close to bedtime is bad for me and that our Molly J. Sleep Gumdrops really, actually, legitimately work. 

When you can, and if you can, let your body wake up naturally. This is a privilege, I know, but if a weekend morning comes up with nothing on the calendar, don’t set an alarm. Your body knows what it needs, and waking up intuitively can do wonders for your level of energy and readiness the next day. 

Ditch the screens and opt for a book. This surely isn’t novel by now, but I’m going to throw the iPhone screen in this bucket, too. Allow yourself one last look at any and all screens at least 30 minutes before you turn the light off. Adjust your eyes to a book or something else non-screen so that your body and mind can get ready for a toned down, and less bright, 8 hours. 

Main Photography by Andalucía Andaluía

Women’s History Month: Celebrating Female Inventors and Wellness Products That Continue To Improve Women’s Health

The Power of Female Ingenuity

In the past, society’s limiting roles of women prevented higher education and opportunities, but this did not stop female inventors and scientists from accomplishing their dreams. Self-education, talent and knack for getting around obstacles prevailed. When it comes to any subject, but especially women’s health and safety, having women at the table is essential. Today women continue to be wait longer times for diagnosis, as doctors tend to dismiss their patient’s complaints of pain. Advocating for yourself in an emergency and during regular checkups has become a must-have skill. Imagine it did not have to be like this? Menstruation is a good example. It was not until the last decade that it became acceptable to openly discuss menstruation and patients started to get diagnosed with endometriosis. In some cultures menstruation it is still thought of as a shameful and dirty secret. Generally men are not interested in the details of the female anatomy, but we would argue that educating men about the health of the women in their lives should be a given.

As we wrapped-up Women’s History Month we rounded up health and wellness products that improve women’s lives. After all, it was women’s ingenuity that helped make them happen. It should not have to be said, but history has proven that when women succeed, the world becomes a better, healthier, and richer place.

You will never have to use a tampon or a sanitary pad again. Brands like saalt specialize in reusable silicone cups that can be worn internally.

Menstrual Cup – saalt

The menstrual cup seems like a modern invention, but it is far from it. In fact, the first commercial invention of the rubber cup was patented in 1937 by an American actor, Leona Chalmers. Before the rubber cup invention the only menstrual cup-like devices available were attached to a belt. They were called the Catamenial Sack. Little is known about their use, but like many gynecological designs back then, they look painful and uncomfortable. In the 1980s we had the Keeper Cup, made of latex. You can still find it if you look. So how did we get to the widely used modern menstrual cup of today? One of the creators of the Mooncup, Su Hardy, stumbled upon the idea while traveling with her family. Su Hardy set out to improve upon Leona Chalmers’ creation with medical-grade silicone. You might wonder why no one thought of improving upon the idea until recently. They did, but it was not successful. Leona Chalmers’ patent was sold in 1959 to a company that had a hard time getting it off the ground. Words like vagina and menstruation were forbidden, and could not be used in any marketing or advertising. Without having the ability to advertise, the company shut down in 1973. This is yet another example of the slow progression towards better health for all menstruating people. Today the cup is thriving. It is affordable, eco-friendly, and comfortable.

For more menstruation history visit http://www.mum.org.

Breast Massage – Lādē & Company The Boobie Balm

India’s ancient wisdom and Ayurvedic medicine is known to prescribe massage for restoring balance within the body. This natural healing remedy dates back to 3000 BCE. Even the father of medicine, Hippocrates, who believed in a well-balanced lifestyle, prescribed massage in order to treat physical injuries. When we think of massage we often think of a spa, but in some cultures, massage is a part of every day life. In India it starts from birth with the popular postnatal baby massage. Not only does it calm the baby and help relive gas, it fosters a closer bond between parent and child. As children get older, mothers often massage their children’s heads, promoting circulation and nourishing the hair. What does massage have to do with women’s health? The answer is breast massage.

Introducing the The Boobie Balm by Lade and Company. Founder, Natania Frydman, made it her mission to create a niche product for women everywhere. The Boobie Balm is created with powerful herbs, smells scrumptious and even has a pretty pink color. More importantly, it is organic, cruelty-free, plastic free, water-free and hand-poured. The modern massage breast care balm does more than smell great and look pretty. Daily breast massage with an herbal balm reduces painful and swollen breasts. It does this by moving stagnant hormone build up in the breast tissue and the lymph system. It is also a great way to give yourself a breast exam.

According to CDC breast cancer is the second most common cancer among women. About 1 in 8 U.S. women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of their life. While breast health seems like just a women’s issue, both men and women can get breast cancer. We are so used to paying attention to other parts of our body, like the face, that we forget to give a little love to our breasts.

Natania Frydman, who studied Ayurveda at the Shakti Ayurveda School said: “Hands down the most life-changing and transformative education I have ever received. It is focused on women’s health, with all women teachers and all women or female-identifying students. It is such a unique experience because the teachers are not just teachers, but women who are professionals in one specific area of healing.”

“Breast massage is a hugely necessary and helpful practice. I can say with confidence that almost every woman has 2-5 minutes of free time a day, which is absolutely enough time to help maintain vital healthy pain-free boobies.”

Women’s Safety – Noonlight App

You might be surprised to learn that the “mother of wifi”, and GPS, is a woman. Hollywood actress, Hedy Lamarr, is widely known for her glamorous roles in movies, but she should be known for being an inventor first. The Austrian-American inventor was not taken seriously by society, but that did not stop her desire for innovation. Pilot Howard Hughes saw her inventor spirit and helped nudge her career. He helped expose her to scientists and gave her a small set of equipment to use in her trailer while on set. In addition Lamarr had an inventing table set up in her house. She invented an upgraded stoplight and a tablet that dissolved in water to make a soda similar to Coca-Cola. Her most important invention was engineered during World War II. The inventor felt that her acting career was frivolous during a time of war and wanted to contribute to the war effort. Along with a new friend, George Antheil, Hedy Lamarr invented a new communication system used to guide torpedoes to their targets . The communication system involved the use of “frequency hopping” amongst radio waves. The system was patented but never used by the navy and Hedy Lamarr never made any money from it. Lamarr became the first woman to receive the Invention Convention’s Bulbie Gnass Spirit of Achievement Award and in 2014 was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

Violence against women and girls is a human rights issue. Until the world becomes a safe place for all women, and female presenting people, the burden falls on each individual. New apps, seeking to aid women with feeling safer while out in public, or at home, are on the rise. Noonlight is one of those apps. The free and effective app helps women press a panic button that allows the police to find your exact location. When you feel unsafe and cannot pick up the phone to make a call the app eliminates the extra step of having to dial 911 and state your location. Thank you Hedy Lamarr.

Hedy Lamarr’s invention makes wifi and GPS possible. Many women do not look at their phone as a wellness product, but when used in a positive way, our phones can helps us track our monthly cycles, health data, and keep us safe.

Healthy Hair – Heatless Hair Curling Ribbon

Tight, loose, beach, and glamorous curls continue to be a trend on the red carpet, and in our every day lives. As a result, our hair suffers. It is no secret that applying heat to your hair damages it, but what if there was another way? Enter the Heatless Hair Curling Ribbon. While the idea to curl hair without heat is not new, it typically takes some DIY imagination. Founder, Jacqueline Elkouby, wanted to perfect the idea with pre-washed silk and The Curling Ribbon was born. The best way to use The Curling Ribbon is on damp hair. We love the fact that this fun and low maintenance beauty tool helps us save time for more important things. You can even sleep with it on, waking up to fabulous curls. The most desired benefit of all however is healthy hair!

One cannot talk about a hair curler without mentioning Beulah Louise Henry, aka: “Lady Edison”. Driven by her desire to improve the lives of women B. L. Henry gave us over 100 inventions and patented 49 of them. Beulah Henry was one of the few women in the early 1900s who was able to make a living as an inventor. Among her inventions was a vanity case, a rubber sponge soap holder, parasol with interchangeable snap-ons of different color fabric, a vacuum ice cream freezer, a bobbin-less sewing machine, and of course, the hair curler. Her patent describes the hair curler as a device which can be quickly applied and removed without harming the hair. The rubber device was designed to be washable and could be reproduced at low cost. In 2006, Beulah Louise Henry was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

Honey Pot Organic Cotton Pads With Wings

It truly bogles the mind to know that majority of the menstruation pads market still clings to plastic. While the vagina is self-cleaning it is also sensitive and can easily get irritated by unbreathable and synthetic materials. For many years there we no healthier options, but people today are a lot more conscious of what they put in, and on their body. Brands like The Honey Pot Company and GetRael appeared on the shelves, helping customers switch to organic cotton and hypoallergenic ingredients.

Speaking of menstruation pads, get to know an African-American inventor who gave us further comfort and adhesive wings, Mary Beatrice Davidson Kenner. Her adjustable sanitary belt with adhesive helped sanitary pads stay in place. As an innovator Kenner wanted to improve upon the design with a “moisture resistant pocket. Mary Kenner came from a family of inventors and was a curious inventor from childhood, but because she was a woman of color it was hard for her to secure a patent or to get her inventions on the market. Kenner did accomplish to received five patents, among them a tissue holder.

Wondering what other menstruation products women used? Kotex might be a name you know. Is a popular name for a sanitary napkins, and there is a good reason for that. Talking openly about anything having to do with women’s periods was simply not done. Menstruation was seen as unhygienic and embarrassing. Advertisers found a way around that by using words like “surgical supplies” and “dainty wears”. Kotex had the bright idea to tell its customers to simply “Ask for a Kotex”. This prevented having to publicly ask for a sanitary napkin, especially when speaking around or to a man. We have come a long way!

Kotex ad via Australian Women’s Mirror, 1939. Newspapers Collection, State Library Victoria

Refresh Your Makeup Look For Spring With This Season’s Hottest Trends and Brands

Matte has had its moment but the buzz in beauty right now is sparkle and polish. From neon colors to creamy textures, this spring is going to get colorful. Get a fresh new look with current launches and old favorites. Spring is the perfect season to take inventory of your makeup bag and throw out what expired. Here is a list of clean makeup products we are coveting right now.

Freck Beauty CHEEKSLIME

There is no bolder beauty brand than Freck Beauty. They brought us the first faux freckles on the market, and continue to impress their loyal customers with new and fool-proof formulas. This Lip & Cheek Tint is infused with liquid plant collagen and comes in five iconic colors. Fever Dreams calls out our name! Express yourself by applying the tint to your cheeks, the bridge of your nose and lips. The brand philosophy is to encourage experimentation with makeup. How fun!

Saie Really Great Gloss

Saie is on everyone’s lips. This stylish brand is known for their high-performance formulas and earth-minded production. While lipstick is our first love, nothing will give your lips extra va va voom like a lip gloss. Saie’s formula is non-sticky and the colors are light enough to wear to the office or a party. Did we mention that it plumps and hydrates?

Rosie Inc. Lip and Cheek Color

Equal parts hydrating and buildable, this highly-pigmented product comes in six colors, with Ophelia being our absolute favorite. The Vitamin E infused cream leaves your skin feeling smooth, and looking radiant, without the dramatic shine. Busy makeup junkies will love this good-for-you and long wearing product. Get the stylish compact and contribute to planet health by refilling it when you run out.

Wander Beauty On-The-Glow Blush and Illuminator

Busy makeup lovers won’t be able to keep their hands off of this award-winning multitasker. The On-The-Go formula has improved and can help you create a natural look that lasts a long time. Streamline your beauty routine further by accentuating your collar bone, eyes, and even your lips. The Founders of Wander Beauty continue to create and innovate products that help you develop a soft makeup look in a hurry.

Blinc Liquid Eye Liner

Achieving the bold cat eye has just gotten easier! Blinc Cosmetics re-launched their liquid eyeliner, but this time using their pioneering tubing technology. This means no smudging, no fading and no eye irritation. Your jet black cat eye stays in place until you say so. The best part is the removal. Simply use water and peel it off. We are hooked!

Westman Atelier Lip Suede: Les Rouges

Join the cult of Westman Atelier! If you get only one lip color product this spring, make it this lip palette. Created by a celebrated makeup artist, Gucci Westman, the flattering rouge helps you create a customizable, and long lasting color. While a lot of makeup artists still stay away from clean formulas, Gucci Westman embraced the idea of using 100% natural pigments. The clean luxury speaks for itself.

ĀTHR Beauty Moonlight Crystal Palette

ĀTHR Beauty sapphire infused eyeshadow colors are so shimmery and metallic even the cool girls of Euphoria would approve. The palette contains 12 pigment-packed shadows that can be worn with abandon and no irritation. We are obsessed with the blues and the greens. ĀTHR Beauty Founder, Tiila Abbitt, made it her mission to create a cosmetics brand that follows EU’s strict rules. Her efforts resulted in quality, and fun, makeup options without compromises. This eye shadow palette is recyclable and contains organic skincare oils that protect and hydrate. It will make you say yes to clean beauty!

Luxie Makeup Brushes

Speaking of spring cleaning, you might want to consider new brushes. Luxie is a chic line of soft brushes that you can buy individually or in sets. Not all synthetic makeup brushes are like. Luxie has proven to be a favorite among makeup artists and influencers alike. If this is your first time starting a brush collection, consider the Flat Top Kabuki brush, eyeshadow Short Shader Brush, and the Large Powder brush. Their blog helps advise you on how to use the brushes and clean them when you are done.

Main Photo: Oleg Ivanov

FāTH Is a Meditative Skincare Line That Will Have You Glowing: Conversation With Founder, Faith Appleton

Feel nature on your skin!

Let’s face it – we all have a lot on our plate lately. Thinking about what might be lurking in your skincare products should not be on your to-do list. Taking a deep dive into the infinite market of botanical and clean skincare we continue to emerge with new favorites. If you asked me to name all the skincare brands I love, I would name FāTH high up on the list. FaTH is an example of a brand that thrives on transparency every step of the way. Their small batch, soil-to-skin process, beautiful packaging, and mindful range of products help insert romance into our every day lives. For far too long beauty and personal hygiene brands remained a mystery. Today consumers pay a lot more attention to brand philosophy, transparency, ingredient sources and carbon footprint. Not only that, we have all learned to pay closer attention to the back of the bottle. I applaud FaTH for using EU quality standards, and for making my skincare routine a lot less stressful.

Every brand is only as good as the founder that created it. Find out more about the woman behind the brand. Read our conversation with the founder of FaTH, Faith Appleton.

Cultivated: This is a question I am sure you get a lot – tell me about the name FāTH?

FA: The name FāTH is an alternate spelling of my name, Faith. Faith literally means “complete trust and confidence in something.” This is the feeling we want our clients to have when they experience our products. Complete trust in our results driven formulation, our sourcing and our commitment to self and planet. 

Cultivated: What helps you choose ingredients for your products, and which are your personal favorites?

FA: I carefully selected all the ingredients myself after years of research. As a trained horticulturist, I have been testing plant extracts and their potency in regards to skin health for some time. On the farm we grow many plants, ranging from herbs, moss, fruits, shrubs, trees and flowers and these variations all formed the basis of my research into the most potent ingredients to use for the each product in the range. 

Cultivated: You just released a new product – Collagen Serum. What makes it special? 

FA: The Collagen Serum’s hero ingredient is murraya koenigii stem extract, or curry leaf extract, pressed from the leaves of the curry tree and sustainably farmed and respectfully harvested off the coast of India. Murraya koenigii extracts has been shown through trials to have an anti-gravity lifting effect on skin. It helps promote skin density and elasticity for an overall lifted appearance.

We’re excited to be among the first to formulate with a unique, little-known ingredient that helps skin defy gravity.

The first water-based serum from our line, The Collagen Serum combines herbal extracts from Ayurvedic and traditional medicine known to: stimulate and protect production of collagen and hyaluronic acid, relax facial muscles a la Botox to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, promote skin density and elasticity, and exfoliate and brighten for an overall appearance that’s smoother, firmer and brighter. 

Like all FāTH products, The Collagen Serum leads with innovative and high performing botanical ingredients that come together in signature silky textures optimized to absorb thanks to professional chemist formulation. Combining expertise in herbalism, emulsification and skincare delivery systems, our formulation process is designed to offer skin the best benefit from the finest botanical ingredients the world has to offer.

Cultivated: I understand FaTH is a family business. You grow and bottle your products. How hands-on are you, and what part of the process makes you fall in love with your work every single day?

FA: FāTH is indeed a family business and I’m honored that my children get to witness me building my dreams in bringing this company to life. Our business is centered around our family Farm and Formulary, which is where I live with my family, our three rescue horses, countless chickens, a handful of barn cats and two farm dogs. It’s also the home of our FāTH HQ, our bottling facility and our botanical research garden. While we presently don’t use our own ingredients in our final formulations, our farm serves as our living lab that is a constant source of inspiration. Our mission is to breathe life back into the land by conducting soil restoration projects, planting biodiverse botanicals and connecting back to the earth. It’s where we fall in love with new plants and dream up new formulations. It’s where I hang up from conference calls and rush off to dig my hands into the dirt between meetings. There is always work to be done on the farm; always an animal that needs love, a fox to gently chase away, a row of herbs that needs tending. It’s work I’m always proud to do because I know the farm has so many lessons for me.

I am extremely involved in every step of the formulation process from start to finish.  When I dream up a new product, I like to let the formula come to me over time. Sometimes I’ll have a product idea while walking around the farm, sometimes I wake up from a dream and rush to scribble down a new ingredient idea. I then take this horticulture insight to our amazing chemist (who also holds a PhD in Herbology) and she makes it a reality. She specializes in emulsification and skincare delivery systems and her ability to make the most luxurious textures and ground breaking formulas never ceases to amaze me. Our batches are always made in very small quantities to ensure that our clients are always receiving the most vibrant and potent skincare experience. 

Cultivated: Why did you feel you needed to make your skincare in accordance with European standards?

FA: Because the European Union has stringent laws for formulations with strict enforcements for efficacy and regulations. Working at this level, we knew our formulas were of the highest possible standards and universally trusted by our clients.

Cultivated: I read that when you were a child you created a muddled seaweed mask for your family. Any plans on re-creating a similar product in the future? 

FA: We are actually in the middle of formulating our first mask and hope to release it later this year!  It’s a bit of a departure from my original blender seaweed mask, but it promises to be luxurious and full of nature’s most potent ingredients.

Cultivated: What are some ways you unwind or practice self-care when not working?

FA: A cold dip in the Atlantic will always be my most treasured selfcare practice. When I can’t make it to the ocean, I opt for a long detox bath or a sweat session in my barrel sauna.

Black History Month: Talented Beauty Icons Everyone Should Know About

Much has changed since these inspiring women of color launched their careers. For instance, models used to be the “It Girls” of the fashion industry. Then came a flock of celebrities. They were the ones who sat in the front row and appeared on the covers of magazines. While that is still true today, bloggers and influencers leveled the playing field with careers of their own. No one knows for certain what the future holds, we do know that if it was not for these trailblazers, our world would look a lot more bland. Besides the fashion industry, women of color have contributed to many different aspects of the American and even European culture. Here is our list of women that everyone needs to know, pin to their mood boards, and admire.

Time Life Pictures

Naomi Sims is credited with being the first African-American supermodel and the first to sign with Wilhelmina Models. She was successful with many firsts, including being the first black model on the cover of Ladies’ Home Journal and TIME Magazine. It was a real Black is Beautiful moment, and a grand contribution to the movement. The model even went on to design successful collections of wigs and cosmetics exclusive to black women.

Josephine Baker might have grown up poor in Missouri but her personality was bigger than life itself. The entertainer and civil rights activist adored France and moved to Paris, which resulted in her worldwide fame. She found freedom in France. The singer’s frequent travels and seductive personality made her an ideal candidate to be a spy for French Military Intelligence Service during WWII. She praised France with making her who she was and said, “The Parisians gave me their hearts, and I am ready to give them my life.” With her help, countless European Jews were saved and given new identities. Josephine Baker was the first African American woman to receive France’s highest honour of being inducted into Panthéon, the nation’s hallowed tomb of heroes.

Donyale Luna, born Peggy Ann Freeman, was the first woman of color to appear on the cover of Vogue. Before the 1960s, black models were often used as background props or not used at all. Then models like Donyale Luna arrived on the scene and worked with photographers like Richard Aevdon. Like many before her, the supermodel found the US fashion industry too stressful and moved to Europe where she felt freer. It was in “Swinging London” where Luna made a name for herself. In fact, she was a covergirl 11 times between 1965 and 1975. Another interesting fact to know about Donyale Luna is that she was a muse for artists like Salvador Dali and Andy Warhol.

Ella Baker, circa 1942-1946. Library of Congress

While we would never reduce Ella Baker and her important work to being just a beauty icon, the civil and human rights activist needs to be on the list because she is a hero and a natural beauty to boot. Known as a behind-the-scenes organizer, Ella Baker is a name everyone needs to know. She mentored and worked alongside some of the most noted civil rights leaders, such as, Bob Moses, Diane Nash, and Stokely Carmichael. This hero did not stop at racism, she criticized the US for its sexism as well. Her work has effected the lives of everyone, not just the black community.

Lena Horne was a glamorous actress, singer, dancer and civil rights activist in the 1950s. In 1951 she was declared “Hollywood’s Newest Glamour Queen” by Ebony magazine. She was also one of the few African American actresses of her time to grace the cover of Life magazine. Make sure to watch her film, Stormy Weather, and you will likely recognize the song and her voice. Speaking up against racism might have effected her career, but they could never erase her talent and obvious mark on the world of cinema.

WWD, Schemann Pierre

Model turned advocate, Bethann Hardison, is a force to be rocked with. She was discovered while working at New York’s Garment District and went on to be a runway model with one of the most unique walks. Not everyone appreciated her walk, but her uniqueness was favored by well-known American and European designers alike. Hardison broke barriers in the 1970s when she appeared in magazines like Allure, Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue. Today, she is the founder of a modeling and management agency that bears her name. Bethann Hardison never wanted to be an advocate for equality in the fashion industry, but because of her wisdom and experience, she felt that she had no choice but to help mentor the next generation of black models.

Chris Walter/Getty Images

What can be said about Grace Jones that has not been said already. Grace Jones is a personality unlike any other. The model, singer and actress rose to prominence during the late 1960s. Her abstract look and willingness to wear fantastical looks makes her every designer’s dream. The fabulous model moved to the US from Jamaica and became a muse for both the fashion and music industries. Artists like Lady Gaga and Rihanna credit her with inspiring them. Grace Jones has a music career of her own. In 1999, she ranked 82nd on VH1’s 100 Greatest Women of Rock and Roll. Make sure to listen to “I’ve Seen That Face Before”.

Bettmann/Getty Images

Dorothy Jean Dandridge was an American actress, singer and entertainer with a successful career, but a tragic life and death. She is known for being the first African-American film star to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress. At the beginning of her career Dorothy Dandridge performed with a singing group called the Dandridge Sisters. They quickly became a fixture at various clubs, which helped them climb the latter by opening for artists like Cab Calloway. When the group branched out to TV performances, Dandrige found herself in a solo film role in a movie called Four Shall Die. From there on she worked in film for years, but did not land her first starring film role until 1953. The film was Bright Road. The actress is probably most famous for her role in a musical film Carmen Jones. Throughout her career, Dorothy Dandrige performed at famous venues, like the Cotton Club in Harlem, Apollo Theatre, Waldorf Astoria’s Empire Room and Mocambo club in Los Angeles. Dorothy Dandridge expressed her frustration with the lack of roles available to her in Hollywood. Even though she was a famous, she still faced discrimination in segregated night clubs. There is much more to be said about Dorothy Dandrige and her life. I urge you to read Everything and Nothing: The Dorothy Dandridge Tragedy.

Diana Ross Album Cover Photo

We all know and love Diana Ross (or at least you should). This iconic beauty is known for being the leading singer of the Supremes. To this day the Supremes remain to be the best-charting female group in history, with a total of twelve number-one hit singles on the US Billboard Hot 100. That is quite the accomplishment. Becoming a successful black female singer during the 1960s was no easy task. When Diana Ross embarked on a solo career in 1970, her “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” song became a number one hit. As a result, Ross was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. Diana Ross has had a successful career in music, film, television and on stage. Besides being talented, she is a fashion icon and her daughter Tracee Ellis Ross continues to enrich the family name and legacy.

Be Your Own Wellness Hero: Your Guide To Self-Love With The Help Of Experts

Self-love might seem straight forward, but for anyone who struggles with acquiring it, self-love is complicated. First let me say, this is a no judgement zone. The very idea that we lack self-love can be triggering. Like many out there, I was never told I am a special or a princess. I was not told that I can accomplish anything I put my mind to. In fact, it was the opposite, but that is a story for another time. I grew up without praise, and yes, it effected my self-esteem. As an adult it is up to me to re-wire my brain and build myself up. I know what you might be thinking. That is no easy task and mistakes will be made. My only advice would be that in order to start on your self-love journey, you have to start someplace. Start by appreciating yourself. This means waking up in the morning and appreciating your body, your face, your heart, your mind, and even your past mistakes. It helps if you think of past mistakes as learning experiences, stop shaming yourself, and start to move on. You are not alone, we can do this together. All I can promise is that small steps can turn into a journey that might take you to a loving place and a more authentic YOU.

For further help I turned to the experts. Our two experts helped me create a guide worthy of a print out. Print these tips, put them someplace where you see them every day, and set out on your own path towards self-love. You are worth it!

Your Guide To Self-Love With Help From Experts

Therapist, relationship expert, and tech entrepreneur of the iRise Self Care App, Ashok Gupta, gives us tips on re-wiring our brains and getting on a path of self-love.

“There are 5 paths to self-love, what we here at iRise call the ABCDE of Self-Love.”

A stands for “Awareness”

This is having awareness of when we feel that lack of self-love. When do we feel down, unworthy, or are criticizing ourselves? Being aware that we are doing that is the first step, which helps to break this unhealthy pattern of thinking. Secondly, we can also become aware when we are looking for outside people and situations to “fill our cup”. We may repetitively ask, “Is this person appreciating me, is my partner show me enough love?” We want them to love us…let’s notice how often we do this.

Nothing on the outside can truly make us feel loved on the inside. t’s an illusion and doesn’t work. A simple awareness of this fact can help us to go inward and find the love within, rather than being pre-occupied with finding it on the outside.

B stands for “Be Kind to Your Inner Child”

So often we create our own lack of self-love by criticizing and putting ourselves down. And often that hurts something living with us called our “inner child”. This is part of our psyche that has not fully matured from childhood, and is still reacting as if we were a child. Let’s start speaking to our “inner child” in a loving way, just like we would speak to our own child, or nice, or nephew. Let’s speak compassionately to ourselves and give ourselves space to be imperfect, and to feel good enough just the way we are.

C stands for “Care in Self-Care

Often, we are so busy running around taking care of everyone else’s needs, that we forget to attend to our own. Self-care is about making time for and valuing self-care rituals, and seeing them as productive to your life. Drop everything and take that hot bath…or spend some time alone to have some space.

D stands for “Daily Practice of Meditation”

The mind is prone to thinking the worst! “That person didn’t mean it when they said they love me!”

Having a daily practice like meditation helps to calm the mind and go inwards. With a calmer mind, we are better able to navigate the ups and downs of life from a more centered balanced place.

E stands for “Evaluating Yourself Positively”

You are an incredible human being, with so many talents and gifts. You will discover more of the real you if you were just to give yourself a break! You are as unique and precious to this planet as every snowflake. And when you recognize this and nurture this awareness within you, you feel more self-love.

You can practice this by regularly appreciating yourself, and praising yourself. Often, we associate this with arrogance or self-indulgences, but even these emotions come from a place of lack of self-love. The healthiest thing you can do is regularly remind yourself what an amazing human being you are, and recognize your unique talents and gifts.

And what happens when we practice these 5 Paths To Self-Love? we let go of the heavy rocks that we are carrying, and we feel lighter, happier, and have more energy. We become more emotionally self-sufficient, and come to relationships not from a place of lack or need, but from a place of sharing.

According to Jenna Banks, a public speaker, podcast host, and author of I Love Me More: How to Find Happiness and Success Through Self-Love, self-love is life’s vitamin. We could not agree more. We share some of her most crucial tips on self-love, but highly recommend reading her book for more valuable information.

Learn to Value Yourself because Self-Love is Not Selfish or Narcissistic

Jenna Banks is teaching her audience to love and value themselves because when you love yourself enough, you begin to leave whatever is not healthy. This means leaving people, jobs, personal beliefs, and habits – anything that keeps you small. Our old selves would judge this as disloyal, but the new you will realize it is about self-love.

The social entrepreneur goes on to add her opinion on the myth that self-love is selfish. “I hear a lot when I talk about self-love. Society seems to teach women especially that if we are not giving away our power and energy, if we make decisions based on what will make us happy, then we are being selfish. Nothing could be further from the truth. A selfish person does not consider the feelings and needs of other people. Their immediate needs are all that matter. By contrast, someone who practices self-love is aware of the needs of people around them but gives their own needs priority. In fact, it is by loving themselves more that they are able to give more to others.”

Journaling to Build a Better Relationship With Yourself

Get to know yourself better through a daily journaling practice. Therapists and life coaches might not always be available, or even affordable, writing by hand can help you slow down, and analyze what you feel on the inside. Processing things better is extremely beneficial and sets you on the right path towards self-love. Even if you can only squeeze in 10 minutes a day, it is worth it.

The Science of Self-Love

Studies found that taking part in compassion exercises calms heart rate and lowers risk of disease. When we are in constant state of anxiety, beat ourselves up and don’t support our needs, we are opening ourselves up to poor health.

While the evidence of the power of self-love is in our overall health, doctors who conducted extensive research and written books on the subject agree that people who have more self-compassion also experience less depression and anxiety.

The mental effects of self-love matter. It builds confidence and skills that result in better relationships and even successful careers.

What are you comparing yourself to?

Relying on the approval of others and basing your self-worth on other’s approval, will have you living on shaky ground. This a fear-based way of living and it breeds insecurity. All you need is to be your authentic self and do what makes you feel good. Do this regardless of what others think.

Finding happiness or success in external forces is not the right path towards self-love. It drives a false sense of self and our egos, but we are not our egos. How much a guy likes you, what car you drive, or how much your parent is proud of you is not a reflection on your self-worth.

The fear of rejection and of not fitting in can take a lot out of a person. How can you or anyone else truly love you when you live n such a precarious state of self? Begin to unwrap what feeds your sense of self-worth and resist external validation.

Main Photography by Noah Buscher


Black History Month 2022: Healing and Soulful Self-Care With Tidal Streaming

There is no question that music speaks to the soul. Our bodies and minds react to different sounds, and when those sounds are positive or soothing we begin to heal. Harvard Medical School published a report that lists the benefits of music in a medical setting. According to their blog, “Healing through music“, music therapy eases discomfort during invasive procedures, restores lost speech in patients who suffered from a stroke or traumatic brain injury, decreases pain reception, helps improve memory and even physical coordination.

Make music a part of your self-care routine. Let it gently guide to towards relaxation, inspiration and self-confidence.

TIDAL streaming service is celebrating Black History Month with playlists like Soulful Self-Care, Black is Beautiful, Hip-Hop Workout and Black Girl Luxury. The global music and entertainment streaming service has dedicated its entire first week of Black History Month to content that encourages healthy living.

Download the TIDAL app and start exploring with a Free Plan.