All natural is such a familiar phrase, does anyone really buy into the hype anymore? While a cursory Google search shows us hundreds of natural - some even fully organic - products, it takes a bit more for me to qualify anything as natural and luxury.
Specifically, the products need to show some degree of complexity, satisfy the skin’s soul and be made with ingredients so unduly pure that you know you won’t be able to get this scent or that scrub from anywhere else. Sure, my standards for greatness may be a tad unreasonable, but would you want anything less for your skin and spend? No, which is why you should know about Zents and why it's that type of luxury skincare you ought to add to your want list.
I have a one-way infatuation with all that is Zents. Yes, I love Zents.
Let me say it straight up - Zents should be included among the luxury pantheon of brands that rise above the trendy natural fray; think In Fiore, Aftelier Perfumes, and Patyka, which are a few devoted faves of mine. The reasons for my adoration of Zents are frankly far reaching.
First off, the story of the brand is sure to inspire the most jaded of beauty fiends. The Denver-based Zents was borne out of a need to heal; founder Cord Coen was left with a near tragic brain injury leading to irreducible chronic pain, intense migraines, and an almost complete loss of the ability to smell from a wicked car smash up. Despite two years of intense and consistent rehab, not much had changed. Docs had said nothing more could be done, but Cord’s spirit didn’t believe this.
Instead, he packed his bags for India (!), found a refuge with a host family and committed himself to eight hours of daily meditation, yoga and pranayama. And?
Well, I’ll say unsurprisingly…regained his sense of smell while reducing his levels of life-stopping pain.
With his sensitivity to scent now heightened, Cord focused his keen, curatorial eye on creating gentler scents with a rather restrained approach for the same subset of folks who can’t tolerate cheaply synthetic varieties found on those indifferent shelves of cluttered department stores.
It's official: the land of natural scents now has a hype-free zone.
Whatever fondness you have for natural perfumes and their botanical bounty of fun, put these unpretentious Zents’ scents on your must-have list. The unorthodox fragrances have been created in a style that might be called "luxe minimalism" and are indeed soft, muted and suave in composition. And, stay close to skin.
Full of character, each can be worn individually or combined with others; the understated narrations of each are light and graceful, whether you choose to wear the bewitching attar or the wondrously airy EDT variation with the stone detailing (see left).
Fresh is a hauntingly delicate and clean scent; it opens with an irrepressible accord of Linden Blossom segueing into the juicy nuances of Cucumber before settling into Heliotrope. If a spring breeze could be captured in a spray, this is it. The composition speaks of some pretty Linden fantasy that captures sweet delights. Warm, full and inviting, I keep returning to this outburst of femininity as I am constantly seduced by the charisma of this Linden Blossom, which may very well be my new Jasmine.
My other favourite is the nearly impossible to describe Pear; a floral harmony of D’Anjou Pear infused with Gardenia and Mimosa, resulting a charmed fruity scent that never goes gourmand even with the mingle of Vanilla at its close. Undeniably sensuality in the summer as it delivers exactly what it promises in whispery form. Pear is hard to do; most versions seem like cheap Bath & Body Works knock-offs to me. But sure to be a crowd pleaser, Pear shows the nimble use of Honeysuckle, which makes this scent a cut above the rest.
The scents also have entrancing body oils available in each scent, which are created from the skin-loving Jojoba, Sunflower and Safflower oils. Easily spray the oil onto legs after a nightly shave or scrub for a superfast absorbing treatment. Again Fresh and Pear reigned top for me with their ultralight mist of moisture.
Concreta…speechless. Tucked inside the hand carved striking piece of stonework is an ultra-rich soothing and scented Shea Butter Balm enriched with Coconut Oil. This detail alone resolves Concreta to luxury.
Make no mistake as this product is cut above anything I have ever seen. Be sure to add this gem to your cart as your buy helps support the family who personally paid careful attention to Cord and his treatments during his tenure in India during his fated stay and healing in India. Yes, this unusual but reusable piece is from India.
Interesting tidbit; did you know that traditionally Shea Butter had been used in Africa as a healing balm for rheumatism, muscle aches, burns, and light wounds? A solitary thrill on its own, Concreta is so, so perfect for your whole body, but especially fabulous for trouble areas like cuticles, elbows, knees and heels. Warm up this semi-creamy balm between your fingertips and let the spirit sink in.
Whatever your beauty choice, know this - there’s a big heart deep within the richness of the Zents brand, which is why I love the brand and its offerings. True, true, true. With a yen for simplicity, these are delightfully enriching scents, oils and balms capable of getting to that same kind of greatness reserved for upmarket luxury beauty lines. And, the prices? The entire line is exceptionally affordable. Much to my surprise, really.
Again, I love all that is Zents. So much so I want everything from the body wash to the salts. The Visa desists for now…but, I’ll come back for more...for you. Petal is next on my want list.
And so, because I adore you, dear reader…
Giveaway: I’m thrilled to announce Zents is excited to send one (1) lucky reader a generous, full sized Body Oil and Concreta in the scent of your choice. To enter:
- Get to Zents Twitter Page and follow the brand
- Tweet me the answer to the following question using the hashtag #LoveZents
- Or, leave a comment below
Be sure to tag #LoveZents to have your entry count!
One commenter* will be randomly picked & announced on here and on Twitter on Monday June 10, 2013 at 12:00 PST.
Pardon the absence, but I decided to take a two break from life on a whim and head off into the rustic countryside of India. A long way from the breezy green pastures of California, India’s resplendent sunsets, storied temples, mist-shrouded mahals, and savoury snacks while sari shopping in the bustling bazaars were all a welcomed relief from the fast lane in corporate America, but the harsh landscape and suffocating pollution from my daily rickshaw riding into the sights and markets? Clouds of dust and dirt mercilessly killed my skin’s soul in a mere two weeks. And, so I landed back at LAX and ran for Ren.
Ren always does me right. It’s no secret that I adore the Radiant Eye Gel (I’ve tweeted about this floral extract gel enough to annoy followers), but for the 72 hours following my arrival, nothing but Ren helped detox my skin and senses left sore from the pollutant assault.
The Moroccan Rose Otto Bath Oil ($48) was an immediate relief to the sore arms and ankles, which suffered from over 15 mosquitoes enjoying the sweet buffet my innards offered. Made largely from Sesame Seed oil, oil soluble toxins are washed away with ease while calming the irritating raised bumps with its antibacterial action. Immediate ahh’s were not only from the oil, but the infallibly sweet Rose.
Goodness gracious me does Ren know its way with Rose Otto.
The Rose – so distinctive and so beautiful – is copious in the bath oil, so much so, I didn’t even want the bath to dilute its potency. Thankfully, the complementary Ultra-Moisture Body Oil ($65) awaits skin from a nourishing soak. But, before that, a scrub in the soak!
Once wasn’t enough. Twice made me wonder. So yes, dear readers, I scrubbed head to toe an exhaustive and record three times with the Guerande Salt Exfoliating Body Balm ($37) to help degunk skin of India’s environmental aggressors. I scrubbed so much so that I actually wondered if my fingertips would chafe. They didn’t. Because Ren gets it right.
The semi-grainy Sea Salts gave just the right amount of scruff while Basil, Peppermint and Olive oils invigorate deeply while moisturizing freshly sloughed skin. No oil clumps in this tub to mix up either as the consistency is normal. I felt alive and felled with the rustled freshness of an exhilarating yet sweetened Mint.
Now about to pass out from the triple rubdown and jet lag, I stepped out and into the velveteen Ultra-Moisture Body Oil; a decadent blend of Cranberry Seed, Jojoba, Argan, Coconut and Rice Germ oils.
I was ecstatic and welling up with tears of joy!
I hadn’t had a body oil in two weeks and skin begged for moisture! InStyle awarded this ingenious blend the Best Beauty Buy in 2013 and, you should know why. In addition to the healing oils, the body treatment also has protective ceramides and phospholipids to help with reparative action and improve moisture retention. A little goes a long way, but after a long trip, who was going to use a little? Not I.
The plumpy oil sank in straight away, left no greasy after feel and made me feel like a Maharani with intoxicating notes of Rose Otto rich in splendor and luxurious, lasting moisture.
I couldn’t think of a better way to Zen out than with a complete soak and slather with Ren. In the world of plants and bio extracts, the pleasures of Ren are many.
Much like my beloved India.
Some of you may not believe in one miracle product that can do it all. And, when it comes to candles, really…what else can it do besides light up a room and help ease the frayed senses? Not much, right?
Not so. Bubb and Dimples (how excruciatingly cute is the brand name?) is a British brand that hand makes organic and parabens-free products that are based with Shea Butter and Soy for hyper sensitive types, whose noses turn up at synthetic olfactive offenders. Only certifiably fresh ingredients are used here.
As more of you are shopping globally for the best in luxury goods, try the uniquely blended English Garden Body Oil and Candle. Yes, you read it right; a candle (with a moderate throw and superbly clean throw) to ignite nostalgia, which quickly morphs into an easily spreadable body oil.
Heading into summer, Soybean oil is just the thing for healthier looking and feeling skin. It’s rarely seen in body oils, but here’s a fun fact – did you know Beauty product manufacturers Aveeno and Estée Lauder have been using Soybean oil in their products for years, according to this. The oil reduces blotchy colouring, helps even out texture, and plumps up fine lines without any added grease. Soybean (with Rapeseed and Palm oils) help give the oil a voluptuous, velvety texture.
So, how to get your slather on? While the beauty world’s interest in pervasively popular oils is new, the age old candle is not. Light the delicately scented candle for about 20 minutes and gradually dip into the liquefied oil for a dollop of intensely sweet oil. Fear not, as there isn’t any paraffin wax in this darling candle, which would have solidified onto your skin.
I used the oil over freshly exfoliated feet and covered them with cotton socks for an overnight treatment. The morning after, skin was smoother and seriously plumped up. And, everything sunk in like it was supposed to.
There is the presence of Moroccan Rose in the candle and oil. The intensity of the blossomed sweetness is decidedly English and fresh. A precious green note ensconces white flowers and results in a semi-soapy fragranced oil that is gratifying if not compelling. Nothing is fake about the candle as only 100% natural essences are used and balanced very well here.
The floral quality of the oils is sweet and tempered with a soft, lingering freshness and offers an uplifting comfort to skin. Oh….and to your ambiance, of course.
~$52 at BubbandDimples-Organics.com.
Sure thing Sedona - the spiritual hub of the West - is known for a few things – namely new age vortexes, sun-baked adobe casitas, and rustic trinket shops. But, oils? Yes. An, emphatic yes!
I’m going to swear the richly storied part of Arizona and its healing energies are home to some of the best quality essential oils I have come across of late. I can say I know this firsthand as I was recently touring Scottsdale in search of the best wellness and holistic spa treatments at some of the esteemed and iconic spas – think the regal Phoenician to the luxury standard Fairmont; the off the path Four Seasons to the legendary Camelback Inn.
The one thing I found in common – Body Bliss.
I first sniffed the freshness of a mysteriously sweet Lavender at the Fairmont Princess when I was indulging in the Havasupai Falls Rejuvenation treatment, which is named after a Native American tribe located in Northwestern Arizona. It begins with a body exfoliation of ultra-fine desert salts infused with indigenous essential oils and continues with a warm herbal bath before a warm massage awakens the tired muscles. In between the scrub and the bath, I couldn’t help notice the Lavender was sweeter than most of the generic camphoric kinds that you smell all to often in the usual oil blends. When I asked my therapist where she got the oil from, she simply said, “It's by Body Bliss.”
I wanted some, but none was in stock.
Fast forward to a few days later, I was getting unknotted at the Four Seasons by way of the Healing Hiker’s massage when my therapist again noticed the deep-rooted spasms as she rubbed her profoundly scented Arnica oil into nooks n’ crannies I didn’t know where even reachable. This time it was the aromatic Sage that kept me wondering why do the oils smell fresher in Sedona than in LA. So I asked what oil was she using? Again I heard, “It's by Body Bliss.”
I wanted some, but again this bottle was sold out.
Was everyone buying up Body Bliss to get their indescribable otherworldly glow? How could I – a lover of all things oils – not know about Body Bliss. I do now. And, so should you.
Body Bliss is a brand designed for massage therapists. Nothing is artificial in the oils despite the fact the oils are actually used in massive quantities at luxury resorts in Sedona and beyond. The products contain no paraben preservatives, no mineral oils, no harsh laureth and lauryl sulfate cleansers, no phthalates and no formaldehyde donors. Rather, what you’re getting is ethically wild-harvested essential oils from farmers who care about the quality and the environment first.
I reached out to the charming and informed founder, Nick James, about why his Lavender seemed to smell so much more like a blossom than a sprig. He shares:
I was so taken by his intuitive knowledge of botanicals and oils that I’m now hooked.
If you’ve got serious inflammation or regularly wound knots, you’ve got to get Mountain Arnica Massage Oil - Turquoise Sage ($29.95). A bestseller for years now, the oil has Supercritical Arnica Flower extracts with Lavender and Sage in a base o Sunflower, Sesame, Safflower, and Avocado oils. The scent is utterly mesmerizing.
But, first a bit of history. Native North American Indians and Europeans generally used Arnica Oil for the healing of wounds, and for the reduction of inflammation, and soothing of muscle aches. Arnica oil has anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial qualities which is why it can reduce swelling and pain and improves the overall healing process of wounds. Today, Arnica is highly beneficial for the treatment of bruises, acne, inflammation from insect bites, muscle aches, sprains, rheumatic pain, superficial phlebitis, pulled muscles, tendon strain, wound, and swelling due to fractures.
Body Bliss’s version spreads easily and leaves no trace of grease behind. The scent isn’t decidedly masculine; the soft, slightly resinous tinge of Sage melds into the lavish floweriness of Lavender with a refined touch. Nothing is medicinal about this blend, though you'd expect it to be. Quiet and serene, the suffused oil is full in scent and will definitely flow throughout your room as you spread it across any sore limbs, back or neck. The result is a cooling sweetness across the skin helping Arnica penetrate deeply to ease tension and inflammation. And, did I feel relief? Serious relief from weariness.
Oh and that surprisingly addictive Lavender? A pure bottle of the French bred essential oil can be found online and in many other body oils. This is what Lavender is like when it falls in love with skin.
And, I know it's going to be the choice of Lavender for me...
Scent Classification: Floral
Viscosity: Ultralight viscosity
What is it: A specially formulated tummy saver ($70) that prevents stretch mark formation on a woman with child. How does it work? Using the oil during the pre-pregnancy phase or during the initial months helps add extra elasticity to skin, which keeps the unsightly reddish squiggles away. What are they exactly? The dermis, the lower layer of your skin, is more fragile than the outer epidermal layer. When subjected to constant pressure for weeks or months such as during pregnancy or after rapid weight gain, it can lose its elasticity. When this occurs, stretch marks form. Leslie Baumann, MD, director of the University of Miami Cosmetic Center and author of The Skin Type Solution says, "It is crucial to moisturize. Skin becomes more pliant, more plasticized, and better able to stretch when it's well hydrated."
Why it matters: Because stretch marks aren’t limited to women who are procreating. Stretch marks can be found on thighs, breasts, arms, hips, and derrieres of any woman at nearly any age. Including yours truly...Are you thinking of stepping up your workout game with some serious bodybuilding? You’ll be prone to getting these as thanks to the rapid bulk gain. Are you slightly a few pounds heavier but not exactly obese? Ditto.
Why it impresses: The carefully selected, fair trade belly oils are cold-pressed, unrefined, and entirely organic. Marula has higher amounts of Vitamin E than Argan and most other carriers. Apricot Kernel, Avocado, Baobab, and Jojoba bring even more E in this lightweight, easily absorbed formula. Vitamin C - from Rosehip and Marula - helps brighten and tone the stretched out skin to reduce the appearance of the deep marks. And, sniff a little deep to enjoy the soft, dreamy fresh scent of Neroli and Grapefruit, which are cheery in play.
The Final Word: Let’s get real - you can’t live life under the healing brush tool in Photoshop like a celeb. And, with bikini season right around the corner, regular use of this oil now should keep your belly in good form.
the best technique to help you get rid of the oil slick left behind with some of those oiler treatments.
If you’re looking for a gentler scrub, sugars are the way to go. Pure Fiji’s Coconut Sugar Rub uses soft and gentle raw sugarcane crystals, which contain natural alpha hydroxys to brighten skin and are blended into a super rich base of Virgin Coconut, Macadamia Nut, Dilo Nut, and Sikeci Nut oils. You may have heard of the former, but the latter botanicals are actually sourced from local Fijian communities.
You don’t need to be a jetsetter to find this island fave. Skip the airport queues and scruff up with this lightly gritty rub. The part watery/part fruity flavour is sort of plum in character; the fragrant candied, scent makes you feel like you’ve scored a highbrow spa product on a deal. If you’re a fan of the ravishing tropical lushness of flowers – light with a faint nutty undernote – Star Fruit is it.
As you rid yourself of the dead layers of skin, Sikeci will get deeper into the skin with its superbly high in Vitamins A, E & F to soften skin. And, this scrub will leave your skin super oily, which is a good thing. Skip the shower gel and rinse off to let skin reap the rewards of a body oil. A multitasker for some of you who still haven't bought a body oil just yet. A bonus: a mini-scoop is included for good measure. And, remember with all things Coconut, the scrub may solidify when the ambient temp drops. Just warm up the scrub in a pot of hot water.
Spring is shining and hem lines are rising. Legs now matter! Consider adding Star Fruit’s sweet purity to your beauty checklist.
$39.50 available at Amazon.com.
In 2001, she launched her Malibu-based brand of organic skincare and body care born from being bedridden and intolerant of chemical-rich skin care lines. Harnessing the power of organics, she resorted to creating her own concoctions that work from simplicity. And, she talks the talk. For example, Zorica refuses to uses boxes and insists the quality of a product ought to be in the product not packaging. And, a portion of every sale benefits the St. Jude Children Hospital in Memphis. An entrepreneur after my own heart, who employs good CSR with care.
There’s a quiet affection in her 100% pure vegetable soy wax candle made with Grapefruit and Vanilla. This isn’t a sour bite of citrus, but rather a soft tang of a clean one. Softened by a light Vanilla, the candle - with its good throw and clean burn – brings the sunny feel of an early summer.
The magic is also reflected in the Gratitude Perfume oil. It’s 100% chemical and alcohol free in the precise formulation, stays close to skin and highlights more of the bright and zesty flourish of Grapefruit. The Vanilla notes fleet about skin, so if you’re worried about getting something too sweet, fret not. This is a mild-mannered citrus with an exuberant character.
And, a fantastically fun side note - women wearing Grapefruit are perceived to look younger by up to 10 years.
$38 at Zoricaofmalibu.com.
So, you trusted Sex and the City for its fashion. Did you know one of the gals was a devout user a face oil long before it was cool to school the folks on the organic wonderments on oils? Kristin Davis (among other celebs) has been a longtime fan of Lina Hanson’s Global Face Serum ($85).
First off, who is Lina? She’s a Hollywood makeup artist who has artfully painted the faces of Natalie Portman, Ellen DeGeneres, Mandy Moore, Olivia Wilde and Naomi Watts – women all known for their dewy porcelain skin. So, she knows a thing or two about how the face responds to oils after a brutal 16-hour shoot that leaves a mess of cakey colour on skin begging for moisture to restore the lost glow. But, she’s also the authour of the book Eco-Beautiful: The Ultimate Guide to Natural Beauty and Wellness, which is a comprehensive breakdown of beauty and skincare products that are good for the planet and good for you skin.
It’s Lina’s organic mindset that helped her formulate the face serum; a luscious cocktail of Baobab, Argan, Marula and Camellia oils that even has the hush hush Ewan McGregor wanting some.
What I like about the silicone, preservative, fragrance free serum is that it’s a new kind of power skincare. It’s handmade by someone who understands how skin works under the long hours under make-up. And, let’s get real – we, too, wear our SPFs, foundations and blushes for 10-14 hours days, too.
Baobab is the leader carrier; it’s another African miracle (a standard for women in the harsh savannah desert) with vitamins A, D, E, F, doesn’t clog pores and yet is intensely reparative. Absorbing on the spot, Baobab helps skin restructure from within by improving its elasticity. And, when you add it to Argan and Marula, you’ve got some heavy Vitamin E hitters reworking the damage done by those ugly free radicals.
A dab of the sweetly tinged, lightweight oil is enough for the whole face. A play around the citrus tartness of Neroli and Mandarin yield an alluring complexity with the addition of the versatile Frankincense, which brings a touch of incensey sweetness to the pulse of an irresistibly white Ylang Ylang. All essences certifiably organic, of course.
Under SPF, the oil is soft and supple. And, keep a watch for the Body Serum, which is set to launch on June 5, 2013 – World Environment Day. If you splurge on either, 15% of the proceeds between June – August will benefit the International Rescue Committee.
Fashionable pragmatism - doing good for your skin and doing even more good for the planet.
Update: check out actress and Mrs. Ellen Degeneres, Portia de Rossi wearing the serum under her makeup at premiere of Arrested Development. Isla Fisher also had her face prepped with the serum. See, no shine?!
Scent Classification: Floral
Viscosity: Ultralight viscosity