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Beauty

Getting Polished Uptown - Julien Farel Restore Salon & Spa

Sabi Datoo-Lalji

Anyone with curly hair will understand that, unless you're blow drying your curls into waves, "straight" is nearly impossible; that is if you don't like using chemicals or treatments. So when I heard about Julien Farel, the chic uptown hair and treatment salon, my first instinct was to feel bad. Here they were, like many, inviting me in to get my hair blow-dried and within an hour, my hair will have undone all their hard work, like many before them. Well, that feeling lasted all of three minutes, as the more I looked into the Julien Farel Group the more I realized that they weren't just a hair salon or spa, they were a lifestyle. A brand who's key focus was to relax, restore and rejuvenate everyone that walked through the door. I had to have this dose of zen they were serving up. 

 
Images courtesy of Julien Farel Group

Images courtesy of Julien Farel Group

 

The Julien Farel Group sits tucked away within the Loews Regency New York Hotel, just below the Upper East Side. A lifestyle and wellness destination who's interior walls represent the most coveted emerging artists, and who's hair technicians and stylists live and breath the brand. Known for their Anti-Aging experience, the Julien Farel establishment puts the zen in hair and self-care and empowers its clients to feel their best every day. 

“My mission is to give everyone their ‘power hair’ or competitive edge to help them become the best version of who they are.” Julien

As I entered what looked like Narnia, to begin with, I realized that this was indeed a haven to escape to, and leave the city behind. I had the pleasure of meeting and having my hair treated by Elizabeth Mergler, who during our time together, educated me on how to use Anti-Aging products on your hair. Who knew! She delicately blow-dried my hair out into luscious waves, making sure to check in to see if I was alright, every so often. I, on the other hand, was in a semi-meditative state thanks to her gentle hands, a peppermint tea and simply sitting within one of the most beautiful salons I have ever laid my eyes on. 

 
Images courtesy of Julien Farel Group

Images courtesy of Julien Farel Group

 

If you have course, curly or frizzy hair, Elizabeth recommended the De-Frizz Restore to use in place of regular shampoo, and the De-Frizz Relaxing Balm, which can be used on wet, or dry hair. If every other hair salon you've tried is giving you anxiety or not leaving your locks happy, may I strongly advise that you book an appointment at the Julien Farel Salon, they will not disappoint, and they will make you fall in love. 

Julien Farel Salon

540 Park Ave

New York, NY 10065

www.julienfarel.com

Paradise in Chelsea - Smith + Brit

Sabi Datoo-Lalji

Have you ever stumbled upon a place you never knew existed, and once found you couldn't stop thinking about it, almost like it was built to be found by only you! Well, yes the main purpose of this blog is to document these finds for all out there, but it doesn't make it any less exciting when I do find these havens.  

Photo: Smith + Brit

Photo: Smith + Brit

Introducing Smith + Brit, a holistic beauty and wellness boutique which offers menu-based and bespoke treatments in addition to cherry-picked products in a relaxing setting in Chelsea. Smith + Brith is the zen-like brainchild of Kristyn Smith and Claire Beevers, two industry veterans who have 40 years of beauty therapy experience combined. With the sole aim to help their clients and customers feel their best, Claire and Kristyn bring to the table their knowledge, love, and passion for good quality products and impeccable service, leaving every person who walks through the door with a lasting impression and the desire to come back. 

Photo: Smith + Brit

Photo: Smith + Brit

Upon walking into Smith + Brit, I was hit with a delicious scent, something that can only be described as the cross between a Parisienne perfumery and a beach spa. It was almost like I had stepped out of NYC and into paradise.

Photo: Smith + Brit

Photo: Smith + Brit

The products within the store are all available to buy and span between home items such as candles, and beauty finds like makeup and skincare. Each and every bottle within Smith + Brit has been picked with the utmost attention and care. Kristyn and Claire take pride is offering brands that are ethically made and organic and they don't stop there. The beauty goddesses also take note of who makes the items and their background ensuring that passion and love have gone into every process before it hits the shelves. Taking such care in everything they stand for and sell, it is no wonder that Smith + Brit is quickly making a name for itself in the industry for being the go-to beauty and wellness destination. 

Photo: Smith + Brit

Photo: Smith + Brit

Jazz Hands Downtown - Van Court Nail Studio

Sabi Datoo-Lalji

The Financial District of Manhattan is one of the areas in NYC than can be described using the famous phrase; concrete jungle, and far from zen. Suits and swag are the usual views when walking down Wall Street but there's a new theme in town and it's making waves near the East River. Introducing Van Court Nail Studio; home to a toxic-free, holistic nail salon that takes pride in offering creative services without the nasties, and my new favorite escape spot! 

Photo Credit: Gilt Groupe

Photo Credit: Gilt Groupe

For anyone looking for a sun-drenched sanctuary where your manicure doesn’t make you feel like you’re on a customer service conveyer belt (which 9/10 I feel like I do), Van Court is the place for you. Upon arrival, you’re greeting by a beautiful wall of toxic-free nail polish in every color imaginable, brands like Deborah Lippmann, Jin Soon, and Floss Gloss, to name but a few, and friendly staff who genuinely want to know how you are! ( I'm a lot better now that I'm here, thanks!)

Ruth Kallens, the brains, and beauty behind this hidden downtown haven has a background in cosmetics and is somewhat of a beauty veteran. Upon trying to find a place that would offer a fun manicure/pedicure in an ethical environment she hit a dead end, and that's when Van Court was born. Priding herself in building a destination that people won't feel like leaving, she achieved her goal for Van Court being a nail salon that offers a range of services as well as seasonal/monthly nail art menus using organic, beauty products and a range of 5, 7 or 9-free nail polishes. 

Not only does the location on Water Street make for a peaceful beauty destination but the bright lighted interior and range of magazine and comfortable chairs makes you feel like you're in a real-life Pinterest home, you know the ones I mean. Moving away from the traditional pedicure baths with water taps, Van Court uses clean copper and metal bowls with every service, and organic oils and lotions ensuring that your treatment from start to finish is holistic and heavenly, and in turn being a true zen spot in the crazy city.  

Photo Credit: Gilt Groupe

Photo Credit: Gilt Groupe

TriBeCa - Tranquility Below Canal

Sabi Datoo-Lalji

Having recently moved to The Big Apple, one of the key things I wanted to achieve was a sense of direction, and what the NYC 'street lingo' meant. I now see that this last statement sounds like I want to be initiated into a hood-rat gang, however, less so excitingly, I meant the area-acronyms. So I now know that, SoHo and NoHo both mean South and North of Houston Street, and DUMBO is Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass, but my ultimate favourite has to be TriBeCa; Triangle Below Canal (street). Upon exploring the area with a friend, she mentioned there was a hidden gem in TriBeca where they are known for their Korean body scrubs. Now if you've ventured down Greenwich Street on a Sunday afternoon, you'll notice a pleasant sense of calmness, and all that can be heard is the Hudson flowing. A little ironic for New York, seeing as it is known as the City that never sleeps; however, now caught in the act, we now know that it takes naps on a Sunday! Ha!

Being curious by nature, we swiftly bought a couple of vouchers and went into the gem that lay beneath Canal Street. When you walk in, you try and figure out where the 'spa' bit is as the entrance is rather small and non-boastful. It's only when a door opens, to the right, that you realise there is a whole Narnia of zen on the other side!

  • First port of call with a body scrub is to let your pores open and breath; ladies and gentlemen I give you the steam room.
  • Once you're pores are dancing, and you've finally warmed up from the wind-tunnel that is outside, you are led into a treatment room. We were kindly put in a couples room which was perfect as there is still an element of privacy thanks to a nifty curtain that was between us both.
  • You are asked to undress down to your disposable pants and gently lay down on the waterproof bed. Warm water is thrown over you by a little Korean therapist; it's quiet refreshing showering whilst lying down.
  • Using textured mittens, the therapist applies soothing lotion onto your body, and starts exfoliating each and every inch of you. At first it feels a little rough, however, not soon after that you find your centre, close your eyes and feel zen. 
  • Once you have been smoothed over, front and back, you can rinse off standing up. After you have laid back down on the, now clean surface, your hair is shampooed and conditioned, followed by an amazing head massage. They gently push down on your pressure points in your neck and head, and truth be told, I nearly fell asleep. 
  • As part of the body scrub package, we were also given a 30 minute back massage. Suffice to say, having a little Korean lady using her hands and knees to align your back is something we should all have done, often.
  • After another bout of warm water washing, your are dried off, moisturised and ready for the last and final step; the sauna.
  • Whilst sipping cool water, infused with lemon, you are able to enjoy a final 10 minutes of quality down-time.

For someone who honeymooned in Vietnam and had authentic spa treatments on the beach, it's hard to even compare anything like it on home turf; until now. The Korean body scrub and massage package, definitely teleported me back to a Summer eve in Nha Trang where all you feel is tranquility. A true gem in the rough, the Tribca Spa of Tranquility is definitely a place to escape to in the City when you need a shot of zen.

Notes: Towels, robes, slippers, disposable pants and grooming appliances are all provided by the spa.

Tribeca Spa of Tranquility

462 Greenwich Street

New York, NY 10013

10/10 for Ten over Ten - Tribeca

Sabi Datoo-Lalji

There are a few things every man and woman have a right to; in this case, I feel that it is everyone's right to have a decent manicure. Not only is it lovely, but it is sometimes well deserved. If you're looking for somewhere to soften your cuticles, and have your nails painted whilst you gaze out the window at the Freedom Tower, then I have the place for you. Ladies and Gents, I bring you the Zen of all nail salons; Ten over Ten.

Image above from Ten over Ten Website

Image above from Ten over Ten Website

The TriBeCa based nail salon prides itself in offering you an atmosphere which is more like a lush apartment than a stark white nail bar. (We've all been in those) With marble stone, penthouse-worthy arm chairs, and large bowls for your tootsies, it's very hard not to actually take a nap here.

Upon my visit, I tried out both the signature Ten over Ten manicure and pedicure; suffice to say I needed help getting out my chair at one point as I was so entranced. The salon has friendly and well trained staff who make you feel at ease with any treatment you choose. They also offer a choice of brands such as, Essie, D&G, Rococo, Nars, Chanel and their own Ten over Ten label, which retails at $18. With an ever-flowing range of refreshments and a welcoming manner, this is definitely a place to escape to when you need a moment of solace and zen.

I chose "My better half" by Essie

I chose "My better half" by Essie

Cleanliness Is Close To Godliness - Soapology

Sabi Datoo-Lalji

One thing I have learnt as a woman is that you don’t need to be pregnant to have cravings. Do let me explain before you close this window; the kinds of cravings I am talking about is the kind that creeps up on you on a Sunday afternoon, where you want to either buy something or browse somewhere just for the sheer feeling of treating your self. It needn’t be expensive or ostentatious but, something pretty, luxurious or ornate would work, right? The thing that may hold you back, is either the location, the busy streets or just not wanting to deal with the crowds in the particular store; after all, how is shopping meant to be fun if it's not relaxing or zen-like?

Well thanks to a wrong turn onto 8th Avenue a few weeks back, I stumbled upon a little pretty haven called Soapology, and all-organic, all-natural skincare brand. It only took a few minutes in the store to completely forget I was on a busy road in the middle of New York, navigating through crowds and snow. As I looked around at the vintage-inspired products, whilst inhaling the sweet smell of, well, sweetness, I felt as though I had strolled into an old perfumery in the back alleys of paradise. The store felt calm, welcoming and above all zen…

So, a little about Soapology; made in Williamsburg, Soapology prides itself on offering natural skincare and home scents. On top of their range of lotions and potions, the brand also offers a ‘create your own scent’ service, which applies to most of their products. I eagerly opted in for the complementary hand scrub and buff seeing as -17C outside was causing my hands to scale. Leaning over a gorgeous Victorian bathtub, I was treated to a mud mask, a Walnut Scrub and finally a hand lotion of my choice. Not only did I fall in love with the Waterlily and Jasmine Buttercream, I also loved felling encapsulated by the calming energy. This store is not a spa, but it boasts all the attributes of one.

They have been in the West Village area for 9 years and for my sake I hope they stay there for another 50! The price point is almost perfect, starting at $5 and going up to a humble $68, it’s a great place to grab a gift for anyone; even your living room. From lotions, soap-bars and body scrubs, to home diffusers and facial oils, it feels good to buy something that has no nasties in it.

I recommend going in for a complementary hand treatment, and enjoying the fabulous customer service. Above all, don’t forget to pick up a piece zen for you to take home. 

Soapology

67 8th Avenue, #2

New York, NY 10014

www.soapologynyc.com