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EDGE Holiday Gift Guide: Fragrance & Grooming

by Mark Thompson
EDGE Style & Travel Editor
Wednesday Dec 7, 2011

One of the more thoughtful gifts we ever gave was when we were sixteen. Our best girlfriend was turning sixteen that summer and her parents orchestrated a dinner party at a country club. Because she was the girl "Most Likely to Move to Manhattan" and also "Best Dressed," and therefore, most fashionable, we knew almost intuitively what to buy her: Chanel No. 5.

The purchase took more from our wallet than we had anticipated, but the department store gift-wrapped it - and when the perfume was opened that evening, it was clear that we had scored points - not only with our best girlfriend, but also with her parents.

For as far back as the Three Kings, fragrance has symbolized a gift of great largesse. Two of the three Magi brought fragrance, while the third brought jewelry. You can’t go wrong with that combo.

Fragrances are gifts that imply considered thought. In all likelihood, the giver has tested the fragrance and imagined it on the recipient. As Marilyn replied when asked what she wore to bed, "Chanel No. 5."

Fragrance is a personal thing - and one that keeps the giver in mind with each inhalation. Take time to inhale - and imagine what you’d like to smell on the ones you love.

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Maison Francis Kurkdjian: Aqua Universalis Forte

’I had a farm in Africa, at the foot of the Ngong Hills,’ wrote Isak Dinesen.

Years ago, we had a country house on the Cape, where the winter could linger through April - and where a lily of the valley might peep through a spring snow. Aqua Universalis Forte is an homage to that transition between seasons.

A floral woody musk, determinedly for both men and woman, Aqua Universalis Forte is perfumer Francis Kurkdjian’s continuation of his fascination with bright and sparkling scents that he explored in his eau de toilette Aqua Universalis. While the addition of the word "Forte" denotes the fragrance as a more potent eau de parfum, "forte" also implies both strength and, as used musically, a loudness.

What is strong and loud about Aqua Universalis Forte is equivalent to the sight of that green shoot of the lily of the valley rising from a bed a white. For what is stronger and louder than the announcement of spring on a field of snow?

With a remarkable concentration of 40%, Aqua Universalis Forte has strength in its silage, leaving a splendid trail that lingers throughout the day. Similar to its eau de toilette sibling, the fragrance opens with Sicilian citron, enhanced in this version by a brilliantly bright bergamot. A bouquet of white flowers follows - the lilies of the valley with white lilacs and Egyptian jasmine and Moroccan roses - and the effect is exhilarating.

A green and white fragrance, radiant and effervescent, Aqua Universalis Forte is as elegant as a watercress sandwich eaten in a conservatory redolent with winter blossoms: the cress, the butter, a tangle of savory with a hint of sweetness. Light wood appears in the drydown, alongside musk and a bit of tobacco.

A maestro of tasteful seduction, Kurkdjian has packaged Aqua Universalis Forte in his signature soft mauve with gold engraved lettering. The sliding box with brocade pull is a stunning container for such a splendid fragrance, which is bottled with a solid golden stopper. Aqua Universalis Forte is made for presentation and celebration.

According to Kurkdjian, "A good perfume is...when the scent and the person become one." Many fragrance aficionados will be tempted to claim Aqua Universalis Forte as their signature scent. With an impeccable pedigree complemented by a refined sensibility, Aqua Universalis Forte is a modern classic.

PRICE: $265.00 / 70 ml. / 2.4 fl. oz.
LINK: Maison Francis Kurkdjian Aqua Universalis Forte

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Jouany: Marrakech

For years, all through childhood, there were oranges at the bottom of our Christmas stockings. Every year, there was a ripe orange, its bittersweet smell emanating from the red felt fabric. No Christmas was complete without the smell and taste of a fresh orange.

For more than a quarter of a century, Christophe Jouany has been celebrated as a fashion photographer - but it was a decade ago that Jouany began wearing a fragrance of his own making, one that evoked his home in the Caribbean.

Recently, we found ourselves at the launch of Jouany’s new fragrance line - and if the crush of people was any indication, there’s little question that Jouany’s career as a perfumer will be every bit as successful as his years as a photographer.

Jouany’s concept marries fragrance to locale. As a photographer, Jouany traveled to some of the world’s most exotic and beautiful destinations, and in creating his own fragrance line, he sought to evoke an olfactory odyssey.

A bitter orange bursts forth from Jouany Marrakech - as if you’ve arrived at the end of a long journey across a desert to find that an oasis has materialized. A grove of orange trees beckons and you are immersed in an intoxicating cloud of citrus. Orange blossoms fall across your table as you sip from a glass of freshly squeezed juice. The scent of grapefruit mingles with orange. You could linger here all afternoon, in this citrus sanctuary. Later, in the gloaming, there’s a whiff of jasmine mixed with neroli. Nightfall has cooled the air and as you stretch across your bedding, Herodotus at your side, the scent of patchouli hangs about your pillow. How fitting that Herodotus has written of the ritual use of cannibis by the Scythians.

With all the complexity of a bittersweet orange in a land of arid beauty, Jouany’s Marrakech is an ode to Paul and Jane Bowles and Michael Ondaatje’s "The English Patient" - and to a city that inspires with the mere mention of its name.

PRICE: $125.00 / 1.7 fl. oz. EDP
LINK: Jouany Marrakech

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Blood Concept: B Parfum

One winter, due to the abrupt loss of a godparent and the unexpected find of a gift from a well-known oenophile, we sat in the library of my godfather and drank from a bottle of 1906 Chateau Margaux. It was a ceremonial occasion, filled with a kind of reverence as we uncorked the heralded bottle and let the notes of deep, dark stone fruit waft through our nostrils and across our palate.

My godfather who loved all things woody and spicy, along with the smoke of incense and black tea, would have been over the moon for Blood Concept B Parfum. The fragrance opens with a rich black cherry note, evocative of a winter liqueur, mixed with red apples. I recall a potent elixir brought back to him from the hinterlands of Russia, something profoundly resonant with imperialist lineage.

From there, Blood Concept B Parfum glides gracefully into notes of pepper and pomegranate, with a hint of artemisia. Think of dark breads and caviar, and rooms swathed in crimson velvet. There’s patchouli in the basenote, with Blood Concept’s signature metallic note, which evokes both Bram Stoker’s "Dracula" as well as a wink at Dr. Frank-N-Furter.

Blood Concept fragrances are labeled by blood type, from O to A, B, and AB. Sold in gleaming silver antique medicine bottles with red-lined droppers, the concept is deliberately inflammatory - and precisely the sort of gift that would have sent my godfather into paroxysms of unmitigated joy. A wicked sense of humor is not necessary to appreciate Blood Concept, but B Parfum’s decadent allure works best on those who are wise enough to appreciate the darker elements of life - especially night owls.

With uncanny timing, given the planet’s obsession with "Twilight" and "True Blood," the Italian perfumers Giovanni Castelli and Antonio Zuddas have given us a fragrance that mirrors the zeitgeist. Let Blood Concept B Parfum bite into your soul and see where you land.

PRICE: $130.00/ set of four 10 ml EDP, each w/fragrance dropper
LINK: Blood Concept B Parfum

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Holiday Gift Guide: Fragrance & Grooming continues on next pages...)


NIANCE: Anti-Age Balm BALANCE

One winter while skiing in the Swiss Alps, we were separated from our friends during a snowstorm - but after the initial shock of whiteout and once we’d regained our bearings, we were madly exhilarated as we swooshed down the slopes. Never before had we felt so invigorated. The sun, the snow, the cold, the wind - it was all intoxicating as we zipped down the fabled mountains.

Something of that experience came back to us as we opened NIANCE Anti-Age Balm BALANCE and applied it to our face. This highly absorbent, anti-aging moisturizing balm contains Swiss Glacier Complex, an elixir derived from the purest glacial water and botanical extracts such as edelweiss and gentian. Everything good about the Swiss Alps suddenly became manifest in the bathroom mirror.

Developed by Swiss skincare professionals, NIANCE Men was designed specifically for male skin, with a focus on cell renewal and anti-aging. NIANCE Anti-Age Balm BALANCE helps combat the toll of environmental stress factors such as dry air, UV light, and ozone on the skin. Formulated with micro-algae to stimulate collagen and polypeptides for cell growth, NIANCE Anti-Age Balm BALANCE also contains black oats extract to bind moisture to the skin.

Furthermore, as if the bounty of the Swiss Alps were not enough, there’s also watermelon extract from the Kalahari Desert to increase your skin’s defense system. There you have it: from the outermost extremes of heat and cold, a perfect moisturizing serum for your skin.

NIANCE Anti-Age Balm BALANCE goes on like a gel, balancing your skin and smoothing out fine lines and wrinkles. Your skin looks firmer and more elastic - and it’s much less prone to free radical damage.

Apply NIANCE Anti-Age Balm BALANCE to your skin every morning after shaving - and feel the exhilaration of a morning spent skiing the Swiss Alps.

PRICE: $215.00 / 50 ml.
LINK: NIANCE Anti-Age Balm BALANCE

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Blissoma: Travel Skincare Set for Mature/Dry Skin

At this time of year, are there any more anxiety-provoking words than "holiday travel"? Are you losing sleep to visions of screaming children, overloaded overhead bins, and an overflowing Ziploc bag crammed with all your emollients?

One way to alleviate some holiday stress is with a travel skincare set, with your favorite products in TSA-compliant sizes. Blissoma’s Travel Skincare Set for Mature/Dry Skin contains five of Blissoma’s best-selling, all-natural products, including Mild Rice Cleanser, Mature Moisture Cleansing Bar, Intense Hydration Tonique, Intelligent Energy Creme, and Deep Moisture Oil Serum (which is perfect for skin that’s stressed by the holidays).

Introduced in 2005, Blissoma Skincare uses only natural essential oils and certified organic ingredients for its more than fifty products, many of which are also vegan. "Health is beautiful" is Blissoma’s mantra, and Julie Longyear, Blissoma’s founder and formulator, is a testament to the company’s belief in total well-being.

Packaged in a zippered organic bag made of cotton and hemp, Blissoma’s Travel Skincare Set fits easily into a TSA-approved quart-size plastic bag and makes a lovely introductory gift to one of the most popular skincare lines sold in Whole Foods.

PRICE: $39.95
LINK: Blissoma Travel Skincare Set for Mature/Dry Skin

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Ursa Major Men: Big Kahuna Skincare Set

Every man who shaves daily understands pain and pleasure. There’s the existential angst of dragging a razor over your skin every morning - only to be confronted with the unmitigated joy of a beautiful close shave and your own smiling mug.

And every man knows that his morning routine is only as good as his razor and his shave cream. Ursa Major understands, too - and so does everyone who shaves with Ursa Major Stellar Shave Cream. Introduced in 2011, the shave cream became something of a cult hit, with its intoxicating blend of aloe, willow bark, birch sap, and oat protein. The extraordinary natural aroma (ginger and pink grapefruit, rosemary and vetiver) causes people to wax poetic about past vacations and "the best summer of my life" and "the place where I left my heart." All this reverie in the morning!

Founded in Vermont by two erstwhile New Yorkers, Ursa Major was created to offer men a natural and effective product line from a sustainable company. All four products from Ursa Major are more than 98% natural and formulated with the highest-grade natural ingredients from family-owned, sustainable growers.

Apart from the shave cream, Ursa Major also produces Fantastic Face Wash and Essential Face Toner (with Hydrating Face Balm due in the spring of 2012). The careful rollout of Ursa Major’s products is a consequence of the passion and pride that founders Oliver Sweatman and Emily Doyle have for their business.

Ursa Major Face Wash is a foaming gel cleanser blended with aloe, white and green teas, lemon, lime, orange, apple, rosemary, cedar, and spearmint. Think morning smoothie for your face - with all the inherent nutritional benefits. Your face is cleansed, but without a loss of moisture. Follow Ursa Major Face Wash with Essential Face Toner, which Mr. Sweatman refers to as a "lazy man’s face wash" - and which we swear by for those afternoons when the canned heat makes one enervated or when your visage just needs a little kick-start.

Toner is one of those quotidian pleasures that too many people don’t avail themselves of, but once they get a hold of Ursa Major Essential Face Toner with its seductive blend of rosemary, lemon, orange, lavender, and frankincense, they’re likely to be toning all through the afternoon. For really, who doesn’t love a little splash of something delicious?

Need a holiday gift for someone you love? Someone with impeccable taste and a refined sensibility? Someone who cares about the environment as much as his own personal beauty? Ursa Major Big Kahuna Skincare Set is a deluxe gift set containing Stellar Shave Cream (5.1 oz), Fantastic Face Wash (8 oz), and Essential Face Toner (8 oz).

Caveat emptor: Ursa Major Men skincare is likely to inspire idyllic Vermont fantasies.

PRICE: $72.00
LINK: Ursa Major Men

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Alighiero Campostrini @ C.O. Bigelow

Leave it to the Italians. Founded in Florence in 1894, Alighiero Campostrini has been creating luxurious, high-quality handmade soaps for more than a hundred years. Utilizing coveted formulas, as well as antique bronze molds that have remained in the company for generations, these soaps are formulated with beeswax, vegetable oils, and glycerin - and then infused with aromatic scents. ??

Inspired by the indigenous fragrances of Tuscany, the Tuscany Collection includes a mesmerizing Tobacco Flowers Mint bar that is as bracing as it is as evocative of a Tuscan escape. ??

The decidedly masculine Giaterra Black Soap has hints of oak, leather, and tobacco, and is as ebony as a photograph by Mapplethorpe. This is the soap you use when you’re not showering alone. This is the soap that begs to be shared in a large bath, on vacation, on a private isle - or at least you can pretend that’s what’s happening when you lather his back. ??

For the first time, Alighiero Campostrini soaps are now available stateside - exclusively at C.O. Bigelow. Established in 1838 in New York’s Greenwich Village, C.O. Bigelow is the oldest apothecary in the United States - and, therefore, a fitting venue for Alighiero Campostrini products.??

Perfect for holiday gifts (think: UPS man), each bar of Alighiero Campostrini soap is housed in a hand-crafted keepsake box with illustrations by Italian artist Giorgio Mattioli dating back to the late 19th century. ??

With soaps like these, you’ll enjoy washing more than just his feet.

PRICE: $9.00 - $24.00 / 5.3 oz. - 8.8 oz. bar?
LINK: Alighiero Campostrini @ C.O. Bigelow?

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Holiday Gift Guide: Fragrance & Grooming continues on next pages...)


Maison Francis Kurkdjian: Les Elixirs/APOM

As with all seduction, foreplay is integral to the art of fragrance, which is something that Maison Francis Kurkdjian understands intuitively - and is perhaps nowhere better expressed than in his line of Les Elixirs.

The extracts of parfum are presented in a sliding box in the softest mauve with gold lettering. Four roll-ons are arranged on a monogrammed bed - awaiting release by the hand of the recipient. Each tiny round bottle is filled with a perfume concentrate that caresses the skin: behind the ears, inside the wrists, wherever, whenever... As soft as silk, the elixir lingers like a lover’s touch.

Opened in 2009 by the man behind such modern classic fragrances as Gaultier’s MaDame and Fleur du M├óle, as well as Narciso Rodriguez For Her and Acqua di Parma Iris Nobile, amongst a string of other striking creations, the House of Kurkdjian is masterful with presentation.

Les Elixirs APOM is Kurkdjian’s ode to Oriental references. An acronym for "A Part of Me," APOM opens with a burst of orange flowers, perhaps left behind on a pillow. The sharpness of orange blossom mixes with cedarwood, reminding you of a blanket chest full of night memories. A summer house on the Mediterranean, you left a part of yourself there - and each time you open the cedar chest, you return. A whiff of jasmine remains while a hint of tonka bean and vanilla mirror the warmth still in your heart. A part of you, a part of me - entwined by time.

Les Elixirs APOM is for those who believe in leaving behind a trace.

PRICE: $145.00 / sliding-box of four roll-ons of 0.17 fl.oz
LINK: Maison Francis Kurkdjian: Les Elixirs/APOM

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Victoria’s Secret: Bombshell Seduction Body Mist

You never know what’s going to happen at the annual holiday office party.

If you know who and what you want, however, the latest limited-edition fragrance from Victoria’s Secret is certain to have you and your partner stripped down to your sexy panties in no time.

A fruity-floral cornucopia, Bombshell Seduction is as sultry and seductive as Jessica Rabbit. This is an hour-glass fragrance: big and bold on top with grapefruits, apples and mandarins, and then narrowing to a waistline of velvet magnolia and white violets, before tapering down to a provocative creamy amber musk that will have you spread across the leather Chesterfield in the corner office. Legs and arms akimbo, you’ll be as sated as a Cheshire cat who’s eaten the figgy pudding.

For those wary of letting go completely, Bombshell Seduction Body Mist is a lighter rendition of the provocative fragrance. Think of it as a dalliance rather than a full court press.

PRICE: $25.00 / 8.4 fl. oz
LINK: Victoria’s Secret: Bombshell Seduction Body Mist

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Joya and D.S. & Durga: Staghorn Sumac

A collaboration between two Brooklyn-based perfumers, Staghorn Sumac harks back to the glory of the Great Plains, with the windswept scents of indigenous species such as bison grass and wild lily.

In early 2011, Joya and D.S. & Durga commenced work on the limited edition fragrance before its introduction during New York’s Fashion Night Out in September 2011.

Made entirely in Brooklyn, each of the 100 bottles is sold in a glass vessel with slip-cast porcelain accents and packaged in a deadstock fabric with numbered cloth labels.

High-end niche perfumes are catnip to fragrance aficionados - and a gift of Staghorm Sumac will insure that your kitty plays nice with you.

PRICE: $120.00 / 1.25 fl. oz.
LINK: Staghorn Sumac

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LUSH: Angels on Bare Skin Facial Cleanser

Alongside the YOGA BUTT t-shirt, there should be one that reads VEGAN SKIN - for no skin is as soft and creamy as the skin of those who eschew animal products.

For the vegan on your gift list, LUSH makes a preservative-free, vegan facial cleanser that keeps skin soft and clean. The kaolin clay base is mixed with ground almonds that gently exfoliate dead skin cells, while the addition of rose and lavender soothe and balance the skin during exfoliation.

You might treat yourself to some Angels on Bare Skin. Mix a little water with a small amount of Angels on Bare Skin and rub it over your face and neck like a paste. Close your eyes and give in to memories of mud baths and clay masks - and relax into the scent of lavender.

When you rinse your face and open your eyes again, you’ll think anew about going vegan. With skin this lovely, it’s no wonder that Angels on Bare Skin is LUSH’s best-selling daily cleanser. Plus, that name is a nice reminder of all the little animals that you didn’t eat.

PRICE: $26.95 / 8.8 oz.
LINK: LUSH Angels on Bare Skin Facial Cleanser

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Holiday Gift Guide: Fragrance & Grooming continues on next page...)


First Aid Beauty FAB: Forever FAB Kit

Recently, upon arrival in Europe after a red-eye flight, we stepped into the bathroom to freshen up - and nearly fell over. Saddle bags under our eyes! And a full day in front of us, with everyone expecting us to represent! Fortunately, we had a fab secret weapon: FAB Detox Eye Roller.

This trusty little metal roller ball dispenser packs a powerful punch, thanks to the massaging action of the metal roller ball and a caffeine formulation that reduces under eye puffiness. The caffeine helps to constrict the fine blood vessels while sodium hyaluronate and advanced peptides increase collagen production and minimize fine lines, and there’s witch hazel to soothe under eye skin. Within minutes, your eyes look like you’ve slept all night in a king-size feather bed.

Fortunately, for all holiday travelers, First Aid Beauty Forever FAB has put together a limited edition Forever FAB Kit, which includes FAB Detox Eye Roller, as well as FAB Facial Radiance Pads and FAB Ultra Repair Cream.

FAB Facial Radiance Pads gently exfoliate the face with a combination of cucumber and Indian gooseberry, which tones the skin, while lemon peel and licorice root leave the skin bright. Perfect for those mornings when you’ve spent the night on a plane or anywhere without your customary arsenal of emollients, these radiance pads leave you glowing (in spite of how good he was - or wasn’t...).

As for FAB Ultra Repair Cream, this thick emollient provides immediate hydration, thanks to Shea butter, eucalyptus oil, and colloidal oatmeal, making this rich cream an antidote to stale airplane air. Furthermore, you can use FAB Repair Cream to combat minor itching and irritation all over the body.

Come to think of it, until they offer spa treatments at 38,000 feet in the air, First Aid Beauty Forever FAB Kit is akin to having your own spa on the plane.

PRICE: $40.00
LINK: First Aid Beauty FAB Forever FAB Kit

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Alchimie Forever: Nd: YAG Antioxidant Skin Repair Gel

Photoshopping has come under attack of late. Too many celebrities not looking real enough. We’ll do Photoshop one better; we’ve found a product that makes our face look like it’s been airbrushed to perfection.

The founder of Alchimie Forever, Luigi Polla, believes that beauty cannot be created if we’re not surrounded by beauty - which is certainly a sentiment dear to our collective heart. It’s all about beauty; it’s always been about beauty. Gays are obsessed with beauty.

Polla’s family-run company, Alchimie Forever, was born from his Forever Laser Institut in Geneva, Switzerland, one of the world’s first medical spas. The 17-product Alchimie Forever line (metaphorically named for the practice of metallurgical transformation) is highly regarded for its products packed with powerful natural antioxidants (particularly blueberry), which are created by Dr. Polla’s biochemist wife, Dr. Barbara Polla.

The company’s best-selling men’s product, Alchimie Forever Nd:YAG Antioxidant Skin Repair Gel, is a refreshing, oil-free gel that is ideal for post-shaving rituals. Formulated with antioxidants derived from green tea, rosemary, turmeric, and tomato, all of which neutralize free radicals, this multi-purpose gel is as perfect for the scalp as it is for the face and neck. (And if you’re celebrating the holidays in a tropical paradise, use Alchimie Forever Nd:YAG Antioxidant Skin Repair Gel under a sunscreen as a secondary shield.)

Readily absorbed, Alchimie Forever Nd: YAG Gel Antioxidant Skin Repair Gel leaves a smooth, matte finish to your skin. You walk away from the mirror looking as if you’ve been Photoshopped for the cover of a magazine.

Simply put, you look beautiful - which means you’ll be helping to spread beauty everywhere you go. Beauty begets beauty, remember?

PRICE: $55.00 / 3.3 fl. oz.
LINK: Alchimie Forever Nd: YAG Antioxidant Skin Repair Gel

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Jason Natural Products: Revitalizing Orange Clove Gift Set

Imagine a world without cell phones, Internet, iPads, iPods, and Beyonce. How did people live, right?

What you’re imagining is the year 1959, which was the year that Jason Natural Products was founded. What did people do without Facebook? Well, for one thing, there was plenty of time. Time for making homemade gifts and handcrafted ornaments while sipping hot mulled cider and fresh eggnog.

If all this sounds too wonderful for words, Jason Natural Products has launched, just in time for the holidays, Simple Comforts Pure Natural Gift Sets to commemorate the simple pleasures of holidays past. The limited edition gift sets feature a body wash in one of two new scents - and a 100% recyclable bath sponge.

The Revitalizing Orange Clove Pure Natural Body Wash is redolent of an orange pomander. Formulated with natural orange peel extracts and pure clove oil, this nourishing body wash, perfect for dry skin, hydrates the body with vitamin E and pro-vitamin B5.

As for the classic Yuletide sweet and spicy smell, you’ll swear that you’re showering in Santa’s workshop.

PRICE: $8.99
LINK: Jason Natural Products Revitalizing Orange Clove Gift Set

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Zensation: Ultra Silky Rose Exfoliating Cream

This past summer, we climbed the highest point above Zurich, Switzerland, a lushly green fertile mountain called Pfannenstiel. The Alpine air was so clear and fresh, so blissfully inebriating, that we nearly lost our balance and fell off the mountaintop. Once our heads cleared, we breathed in deeply - and suddenly we realized why it is that the Swiss have such creamy, clean skin.

Of course, fresh air isn’t the only thing our skin needs - and especially at the end of a long, hot summer. As lovely as summer is, you have to admit, the heat and the sun and the SPF (as well as the stress of housemates and hurricanes at your summer share) can take a toll on your pores.

Zensation is an anti-stress skincare line from Switzerland that uses Swiss Alpine plant and fruit extracts to help slow down the signs of aging. Completely manufactured in Switzerland under pharmaceutical conditions, Zensation is infused with essential oils - and without any harmful preservatives, colorants, alcohol, mineral oil, or parabens.

Say goodbye to your tired, summer skin - and welcome in your autumn face with Zensation’s Ultra Silky Rose Exfoliating Cream. Formulated with sunflower seed oil, lavender, shea butter, soybean oil, and rose flower extract, this silky soft cream cleanses your face with finely-ground rosa mosqueta seeds (loaded with vitamin C) that gently exfoliate your skin. Zensation’s Ultra Silky Rose Exfoliating Cream sloughs away dead skin cells and impurities that clog your pores.

During the weekend, when you’re not rushing to the office, you can use this lavender-infused emollient as a regenerating cream by leaving a thick layer on your clean face for 7-10 minutes (just don’t answer the door during that time).

Zensation’s skincare products rehydrate your skin, while gradually minimizing wrinkles (not that you have any of those, not if you’re using Swiss products, anyway). The result is skin so radiant and refreshed that people might ask if you’ve gone to Switzerland for "the treatment." Tell them to call you Heidi.

PRICE: $50.00 / 50g
LINK: Zensation Ultra Silky Rose Exfoliating Cream

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TAY Clean and Pure: Cucumber Day Moisturizer with Mango Butter

Who doesn’t love a good cucumber? Such a versatile vegetable. You can skin it; you can eat it - you can use it all over your face.

And think of all the hangovers you endured by the pool this summer with cucumber eyes.

Wake up; summer is over. What you need now is TAY Clean and Pure Cucumber Day Moisturizer with Mango Butter.

Rich in vitamins A, D, and E, TAY Clean and Pure Cucumber Day Moisturizer contains mushroom extracts to protect your pores against environmental stress, as well as mango butter for long-term hydration - and, of course, cucumber fruit extract, which is both calming and restorative.

As a beauty industry veteran, TAY’s founder, Sarah Tay, knew what she wanted (as well as what she didn’t) when she started her own skincare line. Utilizing fair-trade sources, TAY’s blends are cruelty-free and vegan-certified - and manufactured in wind-powered facilities.

But what you’ll probably first fall in love with are TAY’s unique wooden bottles. Made from 100% renewable bamboo (and PET plastic), the sustainable bottles can be recycled - but it’s likely that you’ll wish to refill them with TAY’s refill pouch option. As you might know, bamboo thrives without fertilizer and uses very little water to grow as much as four feet in a day - and TAY works with the Fruit Tree Planting Foundation to plant orchards to help alleviate world hunger, while improving the environment.

Pair TAY Clean and Pure Cucumber Day Moisturizer with a couple of plush hand towels and you’ve got yourself a very suggestive gift for someone whose cucumber has preoccupied your nights.

PRICE: $68.00 / 1.7 fl oz / 50 ml
LINK: TAY Clean and Pure Cucumber Day Moisturizer with Mango Butter

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A long-term New Yorker and a member of New York Travel Writers Association, Mark Thompson has also lived in San Francisco, Boston, Provincetown, D.C., Miami Beach and the south of France. The author of the novels WOLFCHILD and MY HAWAIIAN PENTHOUSE, he has a PhD in American Studies and is the recipient of fellowships at MacDowell, Yaddo, and Blue Mountain Center. His work has appeared in numerous publications.

This article is part of our "2011 Holiday Gift Guide" series. Want to read more? Here's the full list»

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