It's 12 days until Christmas! Even if you haven't started your gift shopping yet, don't panic. I've got ideas for everyone on your list in every budget category:
Who this gift is for: Anyone who goes outdoors. Yes, even in the winter. Yes, even when the sun isn't technically shining.
Quick overview: Sun Bum Skin Care products believe that quality, safety, and performance are the keys to getting more people to use sunscreen. Each ingredient and attribute is specifically chosen to provide the most advanced broad spectrum protection available while ensuring a smooth and invisible feel.
My review: I tested Sun Bum PRO SPF 30 Sunscreen (3.0 oz.) in Tucson Arizona in October. The days were hot, dry and sunny. I traveled with carry on luggage only and was pleased that some of the more popular products are offered in TSA-approved sizes. The mineral based sunscreen rubbed in easily and never felt greasy even after reapplying on a desert hike in Saguaro National Park. It's worth the steep price for its broad spectrum protection and for what it doesn't contain: parabens, PABA, oil, fragrance and oxybenzone. I loved the ingenious packaging and the cute gorilla mascot named Sonny. Sun Bum is a fun brand! I also loved that they carry a Sunscreen Face Stick that is in solid form for a no-hassle approach to the TSA liquid restriction.
Who this gift is for: Spa junkies who want a simple, effective natural skin care regimen.
Quick overview: This ultra-light antiseptic moisturizer is for all ages and skin types. Blemishes disappear with OSEA’s proprietary base of three seaweeds combined with a unique blend of Cypress, Juniper, and Rosemary essential oils. This natural alternative to harsh retinols and synthetic chemicals hydrates instead of drying, reduces inflammation and prevents breakouts. Has a firming effect on the skin, so it’s effective for adult acne.
My review: I love the story of how I met Jenefer Palmer, Chief Seaweed Officer at OSEA, at the International Spa Association (ISPA) Conference & Expo in Orlando in 2012. We were on the escalator heading toward the exhibit floor when she introduced herself as one of the vendors. I remember thinking how unique her story was: that she had spent years searching out ingredients to develop a safe and effective skin care line inspired by the sea and that she eventually moved to a small house in Malibu to be near the sea. I was honored to test the products that are the fruits of her labor.
I loved, loved the Osea Oily to Combo Skin Travel Kit that she sent me and have since bought large bottles of the Ocean Cleansing Mudd which I'm positively addicted to. But this review is about OSEA's Blemish Balm which I'm also now addicted to. I use it twice daily after cleansing with Ocean Cleansing Mudd (of course) under foundation for day and with a little eye cream (don't tell!) at night. The natural essential oils in the balm give it an intoxicating fragrance and provide a refreshing lift, like a spa treatment in a bottle. I just cannot start or end my day without it. Which reminds me I need to stash some in my travel bag because I don't want to wake up anywhere and not have some nearby.
Who this gift is for: The serious athlete or weekend warrior who is into the science of heart rate training.
Quick overview: Mio Alpha is the world's first heart rate sport watch that continuously monitors heart rate without a chest strap.
My review: Trainers-in-the-know will tell you that to lose weight and burn fat you need to work out at 60% - 70% of your maximum heart rate. For someone my age (44), 100% of the maximum is almost 175 BPM. To burn fat and lose weight, my target heart rate is 105 - 122 BPM. I took my resting heart rate with my Alpha Mio just to get a base line and then went about my workout. It surprised me (although it shouldn't have, my Trainer has been telling me this for years!) that my target fat burning workout is much less vigorous than I expected it to be. I would have never bought a heart rate monitor that required me to wear a chest strap during my workout. At first the Mio Alpha felt a little big on my small wrist, but I was able to adjust it precisely to fit me.
Who this gift is for: The cyclist who can't be without their iPhone and who must have their music and performance tracking apps accessible at all times. Great for long rides because the integrated battery pack charges the phone.
Quick overview: Tigra Sport creates new product categories that promise to change the way people interact with their gadgets in the outdoor environment. The BikeConsole series was created to enable cyclists to make full use of their smart devices during cycling trips without worrying about the impact of rain, dust, and shock. To overcome the short battery burn time of most smartphones, we developed the BikeCharge Dynamo to let cyclists charge their devices (any USB-powered gadgets) with their own pedal power!
My review: While I haven't had a chance to test the bike mount out on the open road yet due to winter weather conditions, I put it through its paces just the same. My iPhone 4S fits snugly inside the case even with a cover on. I could still operate all of the buttons on my phone so I could listen to music, check the weather and use my favorite cycling app. I could even still use the camera if I removed the mount from my bike. I can't wait until spring to go for a long ride without worry that my battery will die halfway through.
Who this gift is for: Anyone who enjoys healthy living, cooking and eating.
Quick overview: "Miraval's Sweet & Savory Cooking is a blend of two styles of cooking by Miraval Resort & Spa’s Executive Chef Justin Cline Macy and Pastry Chef Kim Macy. Although they’re from two very different areas of the kitchen, this husband and wife team has come together to create a unique cookbook that will take you on an exciting journey of culinary delights that are sure to please the palate and respect the waistline. With the use of fresh ingredients and healthy spa-cuisine techniques, Justin and Kim will show you how to bring the Miraval experience to your own kitchen."
My review: You can read what I wrote about my trip to Miraval Tucson in October here; the food at Miraval was a highlight of my visit. I was thrilled to read Justin and Kim's cookbook cover to cover to learn their secrets and to discover just what makes the dishes that I came to love so healthful. And more importantly how I can recreate the treasured recipes at home. Kim is a genius in the pastry kitchen with her bold use of unusual flours to sub in for white flour that is void of nutrients and the low-fat substitutions go beyond the expected applesauce instead of oil. There is even a section on proper cooking tools and equipment, helpful hints and kitchen safety tips plus and a shopping list to ensure a well stocked pantry. This is Miraval's second cookbook. You can read what I wrote about Miraval's first cookbook, Mindful Eating, here. Together they would make a lovely gift.
As is common with product reviews, the writer was supplied all of the products in the above gift guide for editorial consideration. The writers' opinions are her own.