Be Well: A Better Healthier You for 2015

01/05/2015 10:30 AM |


Remember how, when you were a kid, it was always hilarious to point out to other kids that their epidermis was showing, because they didn’t know “epidermis” was another word for skin? And how then you’d be all “ did you know the skin is the largest organ in the body?” Yeah, you had a hard time keeping friends, didn’t you? Anyway. The skin is still the largest organ in the body and it’s really important to take good care of it. Here are some ways to do that, both on your own and under the practiced hands of professionals.


You don’t need to go to a spa to treat your skin well. We are not hyperbolizing when we say that using Aesop skin care has changed our skin completely. No longer is it inflamed or spotty. Instead, we glow. So, you know, if you want to save the money you’d spend on having someone else slap these products onto your face for you, but still want to pamper yourself by having something luxurious, try Aesop. There’s a stand-alone shop in Cobble Hill where you can get solid advice about what will work best for you. The products are not organic, but they are so, so effective
51 Bergen Street, Cobble Hill


This Williamsburg nail salon (which also offers waxing with all-organic wax) is unique in that its motto is “health never needs to be sacrificed for beauty,” meaning that it only uses nail polish that’s formaldehyde- (and other nasty, carcinogenic ingredients) free. So while it’s a bit more expensive than your local $12 manicure-spot, it’s also guaranteed toxin-free. Definitely worth it.
227 Grand Street, Williamsburg


Blades Natural Beauty
We’d be remiss not to mention Jessa Blades’s own Blades Natural Beauty line, which utilizes simple, organic ingredients to magnificent results. We’re heavily reliant on both her Balancing Face Wash and her Magic Powder, which work to heal all of what ails our skin. (Plus, the Magic Powder can be used as toothpaste in a pinch!) Blades also sells a variety of all-natural beauty and wellness products from other brands we love, like Soapwalla, and all for very reasonable prices.


Homemade Beauty
All-natural beauty can also be achieved on a budget, and one of the best books we’ve read on DIY skin care—which has advice that actually works—is Homemade Beauty: 150 Simple Beauty Recipes Made from All-Natural Ingredients ($16). This book will help you use stuff that, yeah, you probably already have in your house, so that you can be glowy and shiny and all that good stuff. Our favorite recipes include the Chamomile Oatmeal Scrub (it exfoliates! it soothes! no, really, it does!) and the Honey-Banana Shine Mask (the secret to the shine is the apple cider vinegar, which is the ingredient that is really the secret to, well, everything).
Available at bookstores or online.


Sage Spa
This Park Slope spa (which, incidentally, is where we had one of the better massages of our lives, post-running a 10K), offers facials with all organic ingredients. We particularly recommend the facial for people with sensitive skin because we have sensitive skin, and this treatment has never made our face even slightly red. This is a good thing. Inflammation is the devil!
405 5th Avenue, Park Slope


It might seem like there’s always some newly touted nutritional magic bullet that will soothe all that ails you, and then just as quickly as that ingredient is elevated above all others (what up pomegranate), it’s demonstrated that it isn’t so great after all. Ugh. That’s annoying! And yet, that’s kind of what we’re doing here? Touting “super ingredients”? The thing is, though, these things really work! They’re really great! And they’re all things that you can buy for mere dollars at your grocery store, meaning that even if they wind up not being “super,” it’s not like you just spent $10 on a bottle of juice, you know?


Apple Cider Vinegar
What doesn’t this stuff do? It aids digestion, clears up your skin, makes your hair shiny, and adds just the right amount of tanginess to just about any dish. Buy a bottle of Bragg’s (just watch out for the “mother”) and feel the positive effects of adding a tablespoon of it to a glass of water each day. That’s another thing: It even makes water taste interesting! It’s truly a miracle.


Fire Cider
So this isn’t an ingredient, per se, but it’s pretty easy to make (though you could also buy it for $7.99 from and its super sour, peculiarly pungent taste is one that you’ll never forget and will want to revisit again and again. This traditional folk medicine (which is thought to boost the immune system, but also just works as a weirdly tasty drink) is made up of a base of ginger, honey, horseradish, garlic, apple cider vinegar (in ratios of 1: 1: 2: 2: 12), plus whatever else good stuff you want to throw in there. Turmeric? Totally! Half an orange or lemon? Absolutely! Chocolate? No. What the fuck is wrong with you? Herbs like parsley or rosemary? Now you’re talking! Try it and see.


Coconut Oil
A heart-healthy oil, this ingredient can be used for cooking in a variety of ways. But it can also be used to smooth your hair and soothe your skin and even whiten your teeth. Buy a big jar and use it for literally everything. It’s naturally antibacterial, it lasts forever, and it just might change your life? No, really! It just might.


Yes, garlic helps ward off vampires, but also? It boosts the immune system and has been scientifically shown to benefit your blood pressure and heart health. Plus, our go-to tea when we’re fighting a cold is a simple combination of honey, lemon, and garlic in hot water, which not only tastes delicious (no matter how weird it sounds), but it also—anecdotally—works!


Buy this berry in syrup form and add it to just about anything to aid in the fight against inflammation (the root of so many of our physical ills). It’s medically proven, based on its high number of flavonoids, to combat flu-like symptoms, and is also thought to help defeat sinus and bacterial infections and bronchitis.