3 Look-Good, Feel-Good Summer Must-Haves

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Returning to Minnesota after a two-week jaunt to Las Vegas hasn’t pushed me out of vacation mode just yet. Vegas comes with plenty of party-hard connotations, but—if truth be told—I’m not your typical tourist. Maybe that’s because I used to live in Sin City, or because I’m not fond of paying $15 for a margarita, or because I like to be home and in bed by 8 o’clock.

Either way: I started most of my days with an early-morning run around my friend’s neighborhood, followed by a relaxing nap in the hot desert sun, and finished with delicious dinnertime indulgences. I’ll admit that I even did a little work on my vacation—the writing of this blog entry actually began in my favorite coffee shop, The Madhouse Coffee, while I sipped my iced white mocha that the barista had declared a “Michael Jackson, no whip cream” upon delivery—but I was nonetheless able to strike a perfect balance between work and play.

When packing for my trip, I decided to bring along some product samples that had been delivered to my office the previous week. Our editorial staff strives to recommend the best natural, holistic, and alternative products to our readers, which means part of my job is trying said products first to make sure we recommend stuff that actually, you know, works.

People are skeptical. I know this. They scan over an item description or glance at a two-page product spread but remain unconvinced, despite their initial interest. But people might be more likely to buy after hearing about a great new hair spray or lip balm from a friend—someone who has no bias, who has just discovered the product by sheer trial and error.

I am here as that friend. My mother and I often joke that we like to find things that “make us look and feel good.” When one of us discovers a new product that does just that, we not only share it with each other, but also with our friends. I packed three new items in my suitcase en route to Vegas; whether you’re going on vacation or hanging out at home, each is uniquely beneficial for summer fun.

What: Andalou Naturals // All-in-One Beauty Balm
Why: I’ve heard before that BB creams—as a general category—are great for skin, but this one tops them all. It’s light enough so it won’t clog pores but tinted to provide smooth coverage. Andalou Naturals boasts the use of fruit stem cell science to renew dormant cells, repair damaged cells, and regenerate healthy cells, and I actually noticed that my skin cleared up after adding the BB cream to my daily beauty regimen (probably because coverage was sufficient enough that I was able to use less foundation, or none at all). Plus, it smells great—so fruity I could eat it! Perfect to wear to the beach, on a boat, or just in your backyard; with SPF 30, your skin is protected all day. And, all Andalou products are Non-GMO Project Verified.
Where: andalou.com, $20, 2 ounces

What: Dr. Hauschka // Lemon Lemongrass Body Oil
Why: Let me preface this by saying that I’m young and fairly fit, so I don’t have a lot of problem skin areas. However, I noticed an immediate improvement when I used this oil on my legs. With lemon peel, lemongrass, and mistletoe extracts, this natural, holistic product is meant to firm skin and reduce the appearance of cellulite. After my shower, I applied it on the back and sides of my upper thighs and the underside of my butt, and my legs immediately looked smoother and felt firmer. The fresh, summery citrus scent lingers all day, too. A great solution if you want a quick-fix for a pool party or a day at the lake. Make sure to wait a few minutes to allow the oil to dry before getting dressed, and remember to wash your hands.
Where: drhauschka.com, $29, 2.5 ounces

What: S&J Nature Products // Relax-V
Why: I don’t hate flying because I’m afraid that my plane is going to crash and burn—I hate flying because I hate how my body reacts to flying. I get nauseous, my ears pop (even if I chew gum), and overall I just feel anxious. Apparently I’m not alone—more than 90 percent of people afraid of flying actually fear anxiety itself during flight, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Relax-V herbal remedy tablets are meant to combat this flight anxiety and other stressful situations. You know that feeling right before you have to give a big presentation or initiate a difficult conversation? And you have knots all up in your belly? That’s how I normally feel during an entire three-hour flight. But this time, I took one Relax-V tablet about 20 minutes before take-off and another one 10 minutes before landing, and my stomach didn’t knot up at all. I had a window seat, and I actually watched the plane leave the ground—something I never do—and I felt just fine. Upon landing, it only took me two yawns for my ears to pop. Usually it takes me two days! I’m not the only one who says it works, either: The CEO of S&J Nature Products, John Laskowski, gave a Relax-V tablet to a lady who was having a panic attack on his flight a few weeks ago. “About one hour later I went back to see what was happening, and the woman was sitting up smiling and holding the box of Relax-V with both hands, like a little kid, with big smile on her face,” Laskowski said. “She thanked me a dozen times because the product did exactly what it was meant to do and her panic attack was gone.” Although its active ingredients are the organic compounds Isovaleric Acid and Menthol, a downside with this product is it might give you bad breath; bring a pack of gum or mints with you to freshen up.
Where: relaxv.com, $7, 20 tablets

Skeptics, be skeptical no more! These are my summer vacation must-haves. What are yours? Leave a comment, or post on twitter @editorerica or @NaturalSolution —as you know, I’m always looking for more things that make me look and feel good!

**Erica Tasto is the author of The Natural Suite blog and editor for Natural Solutions and Alternative Medicine magazines. Follow her on twitter @editorerica**