Solid Lotion Bars from Faith, Soaps and Love

Know for their incredible handmade artisan soaps, Faith, Soaps & Love has another trick up their sleeves... or in this case, in their tubes. Good things come in 2 oz. packages. Don't let the small number fool you, as the Solid Lotion Bar tube is the size of my hand. Read more

How to Hide Unwanted Facial Hair #GoConfidently

No matter your age, unwanted facial hair can become a true confidence problem. From genetics to mature skin, it can be difficult to feel beautiful when dark excess hair lingers around. Bleaching the hair is an option and if you haven't tried it before and are curious, read on. First, Read more

nyakio ABC African Beauty Cream Broad Spectrum SPF 20 Sunscreen

I'm always on the lookout for a BB or CC cream that not only matches my skin tone but also has SPF 20 and over, covers without feeling heavy or oily, helps to reduce the size of my pores and gives me a little glow. My skin could be described as medium to Read more

Lancome Visionnaire [1 Minute] Blur #PhotoPerfectSkin #ad

I upgraded my beauty routine with Lancôme Visionnaire [1 Minute] Blur as part of a sponsored post for Socialstars #PhotoPerfectSkin. All images and opinions are my own. Large pores, skin imperfections, fine lines, wrinkles - these are just some of the things that come with age (thanks 40.) Throw in Read more

Video: A Girl's Gotta Spa! Featured on Beyond the Vanity

Residents of Los Angeles may be familiar with LA Talk Live radio host, Indian Tyler, for her show Beyond the Vanity on Wednesday at 2pm PST. It's always fun and informative with a lot of beauty, wellness and fitness tips. I couldn't be happier to discover that Ms. Tyler Read more

Spa

Review: Thymes Lemon Geranium Candle

No matter the time of year, I am always a sucker for scented candles.  In the summer I do like to go a bit lighter with the scents and try to avoid anything that reminds me too much of baked goods…not the case in fall and winter.  So far this summer, my scented candle of choice has been Thymes Lemon Geranium Candle.

The candle is made with high-quality food-grade paraffin and burns for approximately 40 fragrant hours.  The light, fresh, lemony/herbal scent is perfect for summer and is never too overpowering, even during the summer months.  Another awesome plus is that the candle jar features a very pretty decorative design and really adds that extra something to any space. This candle would also make a great hostess gift as it comes in a cute cloth bag (that I have been using to store my jewelry).  Read more

Posted on by Gail Lewis in beauty Leave a comment

Westlake Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery

westlake-logoWestlake Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery is a leading provider of skin care with 5 locations in Austin and Central Texas, specializing in all treatments related to skin care and body contouring such as a full range of medical treatments, plastic surgery, lasers, and injectables, as well as allergy and immunology treatments. (They have a 6th location opening at the Four Seasons Residences Tower in Austin this July.)

Westlake Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery is the team behind the popular beauty store, iderma.com where you can shop for brand name skin care, hair care and makeup products from companies like HydroPeptide (who I’ve reviewed before), Jan Marini, Obagi and more.   Read more

Posted on by Shannon Smyth in anti-aging, beauty, skin care Leave a comment

Spa Review: Canyon Ranch Spa Miami Beach

Receiving an invitation to visit the largest spa in South Florida (70,000 sq ft to be exact), was definitely one of the highlights of my year in Miami and it just happened to materialize when a visit to the spa was very much needed…at the tail end of the moving process when I was sore, running low on energy,  and anxious about fitting a studio apartment’s worth of stuff into a minivan to go across the U.S.  So the invitation to visit The Spa at Canyon Ranch Miami Beach was a very welcome diversion from the moving process.  As soon as I checked, in the staff was very welcoming and friendly…something that was rare during my year in Miami.  The Canyon Ranch Miami Beach property is impressive and absolutely breathtaking to say the least.  The service I received from the spa is called Yatra.  Yatra, as explained to me by my service provider, is a Sanskrit word that means journey.  The treatment  is a journey through the senses and is intended to unwind every sense, relax every nerve and melt every muscle.  Read more

Posted on by Gail Lewis in beauty, skin care, Spa Leave a comment

Spa Review: Blue Harmony Spa, Orlando FL

What’s the best way to spend a rainy Sunday afternoon (or any afternoon for that matter) in Orlando, FL? At the spa of course! And that is exactly where I found myself on such an afternoon, at the amazingly beautiful and tranquil Blue Harmony Spa at the Wyndham Grand Orlando Resort.
Upon checking into the spa, I was immediately offered a beverage and opted for a glass of water mixed with PURE Inventions Blueberry Antioxidant Fruit Extract (which is also available for purchase at the spa).  I was then taken on a brief tour of the facility which includes indoor and outdoor treatment rooms, Relaxation Lounge, outdoor spa garden, outdoor hot tub, full-amenity locker rooms, men’s and women’s steam rooms and chromotherapy experience showers, Couple’s suite with side by side soak tubs, and a state-of-the-art fitness center.

I also learned that each Blue Harmony experience reminds guests of the nourishment provided by the great blues of the world, water and skies.  After the tour I could’ve honestly just hung out in the serene relaxation lounge for the rest of the day indulging in healthy snacks, sampling the other flavors of the PURE Inventions Antioxidant Fruit Extracts while curled up with a magazine.  I was then taken to the women’s locker room where I slipped into my super soft spa robe in preparation for my massage.  Read more

Posted on by Gail Lewis in beauty, Spa 2 Comments

Review: Repechage Thalasso Spa Bath

I have always wanted to pay a visit to a Thalassotherapy Spa.  After all, Thalassotherapy seems to be a great remedy for any number of ailments from weight loss and cellulite reduction, to back problems, water retention, improved circulation and even joint pain…not to mention the relaxing and rejuvenating benefits it provides.  I still have not had the pleasure of visiting a Thalasso Spa, but I have gotten to indulge in Thalassotherapy from the comfort of my own home, thanks to Repechage’s Thalasso Spa Bath.

The Thalasso Spa Bath is a seaweed bath that harvests seaweed  from the clean sea-waters off the coast of France (which makes sense since Thalassotherapy is very popular in the Mediterranean.)  The seaweed extract is rich in vitamins, minerals, amino acids and trace elements that are intended to relieve stress, improve circulation, and revitalize the body while also providing the body with all of the nutritive benefits from the sea.  Read more

Posted on by Gail Lewis in bath and body, beauty, skin care Leave a comment

Spa Review: Sphatika

As a beauty lover, I’ve been to a good amount of spas. There are the boujis, “better than you” spas, the super-busy “get your facial and get out” spas, and your standard but efficient salon/spa combination. Once in awhile, however, a girl is lucky enough to come across a spa or treatment that is a true standout, one that makes her feel special, relaxed, at peace. For me, that spa was Sphatika in NYC.

A tranquil oasis conveniently tucked behind a Starbucks in Columbus Circle, Sphatika is a truly a hidden gem.

Sphatika takes a holistic, sensory approach to the entire spa experience. All spas are meant to make you feel beautiful, but Sphatika places a very special emphasis on treating the whole you “mind, body, and soul.” Their welcoming staff encourages you to create an intention for your visit, one that you have a chance to reflect upon during your personal sauna that kicks off your treatment session.   Read more

Posted on by Amanda Huggins in anti-aging, beauty, skin care, Spa Leave a comment

Spa Week’s Top 10 Spa Trends for Fall 2011


Spa Week Fall 2011, presented by Carefree, is happening October 10th-16th with the founding mission of making the spa lifestyle accessible to ALL. This Fall, 800 spas and wellness facilities across North America are participating, offering 2-3 of their top spa services for just $50 a piece (normally $75-$500). Massages, facials, acupuncture, fitness class packages, eyelash extensions, Botox… the options are endless! Booking has now begun. Browse all treatments in your city on www.spaweek.com. It is recommended to book as soon as possible for preferred treatments and time slots.

And now for Spa Week’s top 10 spa trends for fall:

1. Shirodhara
We know what you’re thinking: Shiro-whata? Don’t try this at dinner, but drizzling warm sesame oil onto one’s forehead is extremely therapeutic. Shirodhara, which dates back to India circa 5000 years ago, is now being incorporated into more and more spa menus, and seen as an add-on to Western treatments like body wraps and Swedish Massages.

It’s the good kind of oil spill: The ritual’s steady spilling brings physical and emotional balance while giving hair an extreme conditioning. Shirodhara is known to calm nerves, release stored emotions, purify the mind, and fight fatigue, anxiety, insomnia and headaches.

2. Bamboo Massage

De-knot your body by getting rolled out like a sugar cookie with a Bamboo rolling pin-esque Massage. The massage therapist will knead, glide and roll a Bamboo reed along shoulders, back and legs to pamper and penetrate tense muscles.

The benefits of Bamboo-ing: Bamboo Massage promotes blood circulation, improves sensory nerve perception, and does lymphatic drainage. Bamboo also symbolizes longevity, luck and strength, making it a somewhat spiritual spa experience.

3. Cupping and Gua Sha
Did you ever wish you could literally suck or scrape the pain and soreness right out of your body? With the ancient Chinese healing therapies of cupping and Gua Sha, you can!

How it works: Cupping uses suction on the skin’s surface to “suck” stagnant blood from deep beneath the surface, and Gua Sha “scrapes” the skin to mobilize blood flow in a similar fashion. Both alternative therapies provide extreme pain and tension relief, especially on the back. These therapies are becoming more and more mainstream, despite the temporary bruising it causes, as new consumers experience their drastic benefits.

4. Acupressure
No pressure to get pricked here. Acupressure employs the concept of acupuncture, (the granddaddy of healing) only rather than needles, it uses physical pressure of hands, elbows and other devices. Practitioners target specific points along the body’s energy pathways, or “meridians,” to encourage healing and balance in the individual.

What it’s good for: Relief from allergies, chronic arthritis pain and migraines; pain-sufferers can reap the benefits of this ancient Chinese medicine without fear of being poked.

5. Boozing with Benefits
It’s always happy hour at the spa, but more and more spas are incorporating alcohol into their treatment offerings.

On the cocktail menu: Champagne and wine-infused treatments can smooth skin tissue, stimulate blood flow and are a powerful ingredient in anti-aging. Beer yeast is rich in elements that increase skin elasticity and improve acne by suppressing sebum. Even Scotch Whiskey is showing up on the spa scene; it’s full of sugars, minerals and vitamin B6, giving it excellent hydrating and anti-inflammatory properties.

6. Shellac Attack
There’s been a lot of hype around UV Manicures, especially the popular Shellac Manicure since it first launched last Spring – the hard lustrous finish! The zero dry-time! The 14-day no chipping/smudging/denting promise! And did you see the Shellac flash mob? A cross between gels and a regular manicure, products like Shellac and Axxium are certainly no fad, as the color selection gets larger and trendier each season.

Why Shellac? Spa-goers love Shellac Manicures because they get a long lasting, no-mess result, and spas love them just as much because it brings in new clients and revenue, without increasing the service time. Shellac Manicures are a win-win!

7. Men’s Treatments

Did you know men make up for 31% of active spa-goers? And did you know the most common spa packages offered are for men, with 45% of U.S. spas offering such a package? By incorporating no-frills, guy-friendly scents like sandalwood, mustard seed, eucalyptus and thyme, spas are able to successfully market to men.

What services are considered guy-friendly? Hot Shaves, Gentlemen’s Facials, Golf Ball Massages and more have enticed male consumers to experiment and experience the health benefits of the spa just as frequently as their female counterparts (who, oftentimes, are the ones who got them hooked!)


8. Mobile Spas  (not to be confused with Spa Week’s Mobile App)With more and more mobile food establishments rolling around the country serving gourmet dishes and desserts, spas aren’t far behind. One of the emerging trends is getting your massage, facial, or other spa service street-side, in a spa on wheels.

Why go mobile? Mobile spas are in high demand as they conveniently bring the day spa experience right to your home, office or venue. With gas prices at an all-time high, the mobile spa experience saves time and money, and is now a popular and sought-after addition to wellness and bridal parties and even corporate events.

9. Deep Sea Spa-ing

The word “spa” is derived from water, so it is a wonder that water-based spa treatments are so often overlooked. The Jacuzzi is perhaps the most well-known version of “hydro-therapy,” but more and more aquatic treatments like Hammam Rituals, Vichy Showers and Watsu are a booming trend, especially in hotel spas.

How to H2O: Each of these water treatments utilized hydro-thermal therapy to relax tight and sore muscles and promote smooth and cleansed skin all while stimulating blood circulation to promote healing. Hammam Rituals combine heat, aromatherapy, steam, bubbles, water and mud to cleanse the skin and detoxify the body. A Vichy Shower is a unique aquatic therapy that invigorates your body while laying flat under powerful water jets, inspired by treatments used in the French city, Vichy. Watsu, short for water Shiatsu, is a massage performed in a warm, shallow pool.  As the water gently cradles the guest so the massage therapist can work the full 360 degrees of your body.

10.  Spa with a Conscience
“Green” spas and treatments are thriving right now in the industry; spa owners are making critical revisions by incorporating renewable energy, holistic and eco-friendly services and indigenous ingredients into their businesses, and it’s paying off in the long run.

But how? More and more consumers are considering a spa’s environmental philosophy, along with price and location in their decision to visit a new spa. Spas are practicing conservation by purchasing organic linens, biodegradable aesthetic gauze and eco-friendly cleaning supplies to keep each guest sanitary and safe during their appointment. How’s that for a feel-good spa day?

Posted on by Shannon Smyth in beauty, Beauty Trends, Pocono Spas & Salons, Spa 1 Comment

Considering Prenatal Massage? Hand & Stone Explains How the Service Alleviates Aches & Pains

There is no better time to be pampered than during pregnancy (I should know–I had 4 boys!) For nine months, your body is changing and growing, which can add some unexpected aches and pains. But many women don’t realize that prenatal massage can be an effective way to reduce anxiety, stress, and the aches and pains caused by poor circulation during pregnancy.

Colleen Bryan, of Hand & Stone Massage and Facial Spa, has offered A Girl’s Gotta Spa! readers several pointers on what pregnant women should know concerning prenatal massage:

Wait until your second trimester. As a rule of thumb, you should wait until the first trimester is over before coming in for a massage. The second trimester is typically when the belly begins to grow and the body is changing, anyway, so that’s usually the time that women are experiencing stress or discomfort.

It’s more than just relaxation. Although relaxation is a large part of a prenatal massage, there are also many health benefits associated with the service. As a woman begins to carry excess weight, her posture changes and she can have back aches, headaches, shoulder aches and neck aches. A massage can decrease those pains, as well as pain in the pelvic and hip area. It also increases circulation, improves digestion and can reduce fatigue.

Massage therapists will adapt to your needs. Therapists trained in prenatal massage know how to accommodate the body of a pregnant woman. The entire massage is conducted in the face-up position, and the woman can be turned on to her side while propped up by pillows. A massage therapist trained in prenatal massage will work the entire body, just differently than how they would with another client.

More massage = better results. As with any form of massage, the effects are cumulative. With a pregnant woman, I would recommend receiving a massage once a month throughout the second and third trimesters. In addition to the health benefits, receiving regular massages helps a woman learn how to stay calm and focus on their breathing, which can in turn help them in the delivery room to stay relaxed.

Find a Hand & Stone Massage and Facial Spa near you at www.handandstone.com.

Posted on by Shannon Smyth in Spa Leave a comment

5 Ways To Get a Spa Experience at Home

Everyone loves to be indulged and to feel exceptional. Going to a spa can not only relax painful muscles but it can also relieve tension. While going to the spa can be nice, it is also expensive. Some people may be apprehensive about their budgets and spending money on a day at the spa may not be feasible.

An alternative is to pamper yourself with an at home spa day. With these five simple steps, you can release your stress and calm your tender muscles, all without the high price tag. Here are a few guidelines to turn your home spa into a reality:

1. Taking a long, hot bath can be super relaxing. It can ease the muscles and provide a bit of rejuvenation. By slipping some lavender oil or bath salts into the water, you can wash your troubles away. Try putting an eye mask on, either hot or cold, as you soak. A bath pillow can also provide a great way to lounge in the tub. By lighting candles surrounding the tub, it creates ambiance and makes you want to linger.

Another great tip: have someone throw your robe in the dryer for a few minutes. The warm robe feels wonderful after the bath!

2. Music can provide a peaceful calm after a long hard day. Put on some soft easy listening music and light some candles. Put your feet up with a glass of wine. Most spas concentrate on music and scents to create the mood for relaxation. Have a spouse rub your feet while listening to relaxing tunes. A foot rub is a great way to relieve pressure and can actually stop a headache. This is a great way to create a relaxing atmosphere in your own home, for free.

3. Getting a massage from a partner is another effective way to just diminish cares. Using essential oils and lotions, a massage can work out all those kinks in the neck and back and make you feel like a million bucks. Working essential oils such as lavender, Chamomile or Neroli into your skins can simply relax every bone in your body.

4. Doing home facial treatments, like mud masks or scrubs, are just the way to make your face feel fresh and clean. Spas focus on expensive mud treatments and body scrubs, for the ultimate poor cleansing and relaxation. Most of these products can be purchased at any beauty section in your local department store or even at your local drugstore. Mud masks come in many different types. For example, you can try a deep sea mud or a mud with honey, the choices are unlimited.

5. Manicures and pedicures keep a women looking fresh and coiffed. By trimming and painting nails it enhances a woman’s feeling of beauty. Pick a magnificent color to go with the seasons for a hip look. Manicures can be expensive to have done professionally, but cost little for you to do on your own. All you need is a simple nail file, some clippers, a beautiful nail polish and some time.

The most important thing in creating your spa day is to make sure you are not interrupted. Let the relatives, friends, and especially the kids, know this is personal time. Turn off cell phones, TV’s, and all devices that can disrupt your perfect day. Everyone deserves to have a day of pampering, but who wants to spend hundreds of dollars, when it can be done for nearly nothing? By gathering a few basic items and clearing off a section of time, it can be possible to make your home a spa in a matter of minutes.

About the author: Carleen Coulter publishes the beauty blog Beauty and Fashion Tech, including the popular buyer’s guide on at home laser hair removal, with reviews of the top devices.

Posted on by Shannon Smyth in beauty, skin care, Spa Leave a comment

Spa Week and Joy Bauer’s Fast Track to Health Giveaway

Spa Week has joined forces with two health and wellness powerhouses: The Today Show’s nutritional expert, Joy Bauer and America’s favorite kick-butt getaway, The Biggest Loser Resort at Fitness Ridge in Malibu, CA (where they actually film the hit TV show!). From now until Sunday, September 11, you can enter to win a complete lifestyle makeover package to get you on the Fast Track to Health. 

I recently sent them my #1 diet tip, which you can read on the Spa Week blog (along with many other great tips from fellow bloggers!) Find out all the details about their giveaway here.

*Image/beginning content (c) Spa Week.

Posted on by Shannon Smyth in beauty Leave a comment