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A New Year, A Fresh Start: Spa Castle Premier

Photo via Racked

A new year, a new you, and I don't know a better way to start anew than with a Korean body scrub, peeps. I most recently indulged at the newly opened Spa Castle Premier, sister to the relaxation mecca in College Point, Queens. Three-levels of pampering, including an indoor bade pool with reflexology-style jets and swim-up bar (drinks are EXORBITANTLY priced, fair warning), nude water lounges, and six different kinds of saunas are located discreetly in an inauspicious Midtown office building - you'd never guess it was there.

The center of any Korean spa experience is, make no mistake about it, the scrub. And for the unitiated, it's not a relaxing experience by any measure. You'll be fully nude, and a likely tiny Korean woman in a bra and panties will scrub you, quite literally, within an inch of your life using scrubby washcloths like these. Scrubs at Spa Castle Premier are surprisingly and offensively expensive, starting at $165/50 minutes, but it was $165 well spent regardless, particularly considering that a massage, facial cleansing and shampoo/condition are all part of the experience. I'm not exaggerating when I say that I've never felt cleaner, softer or more ready to take on the world than when I left.

Take some time to lounge in the cafe area, and enjoy something savory (dumpling soup with rice cake?) or sweet (Korean shave ice). You won't want to miss the kimchee either - Spa Castle Premier's was the best I've had, weirdly, ever.

Spa Castle Premier passes, which allow unlimited access to the facilities (scrubs and massages are additional), are $65. To learn more, click here.

BYOB: Build Your Own Birchbox in SoHo

Earlier this week, after a workout, I dropped by the Birchbox SoHo store. If you have yet to visit, you're really missing out - there's a great assortment of established and niche beauty brands, great gift-y items, mini services including manicures and, perhaps best of all, a Build Your Own Birchbox station.

While I need more beauty products like I need a hole in my head, I used my upcoming 8 day business trip to London and Paris as an excuse to justify building my own Birchbox - this month's samples were too tempting to resist.  For $15, here's what I picked up:

They threw in single-use packets of Oribe Brilliant Shine Shampoo & Conditioner, and also a Dr. Jart Pore Minimalist Sheet Mask as a GWP at the counter, which was a great little thank you (the sheet mask is valued at $7.50 alone.)

Have you visited Birchbox SoHo yet? The bi-level store is located at 433 West Broadway, between Prince and Spring.

Style Revelations: 4 Lessons Learned in 2014

It's that time of the year where we take stock and look ahead, and while I've not QUITE formed New Year's resolutions for 2015 just yet, I thought I'd share my style REVELATIONS - discoveries, evolutions - of the past year.

  1. I'm too old to wear a padded bra. Padded bras make me feel like a giant fraud. So, this year, I purged my lingerie drawers (yes, multiple) ruthlessly and restocked with unlined lace underwire bras from ChantelleBlush Lingerie (that's the gorgeous Whisper Demi Bra in Nocturne Blue above) and ThirdLove, a Euro-inspired online boutique.
  2. Nail art is over, o-v-e-r. (For me, that is. No judgement.) While I might indulge occasionally in the v. modern nail art at Paintbox, I suddenly feel quite uncomfortable in a manicure that's not some variation of nude, red or wine. My current mani is CND Vinylux Fedora, a "weekly" polish that lasts a full week with tip wear only, no chips. Easy. Magical.
  3. For the love of god, I don't need all of this makeup. I don't mean this in a combative, feminist kind of way (although I certainly am a feminist). I mean, while I won't leave my house without makeup, my minimal makeup look is essentially the same as my full face, +/- a smoked out liner or bright lip. So. While it's (so) hard to say goodbye, I'm currently in the time-consuming process of dumping/rehoming 90% of my makeup.
  4. I'm of an age (mid-thirties, that is) where the risk of being mutton dressed as the proverbial lamb is real. While I will never NOT love a short skirt, let's acknowledge that there's short and then there's...short. If I can't bend over comfortably, it's got to go and what remains will always be balanced by a fuller/flowy top (in the case of shorts), a boyfriend blazer and/or flats (in the case of dresses and skirts).
Even taking into account this year's learnings, I will say that I continue to be surprised by the continuity in my own closet. It's amazing what holds true, year after year - particularly when you invest in pieces (be they expensive or not) that you really love. Let that be a lesson to us all in 2015.

The Gifts We Give Ourselves

If we're being honest, I'm never one to shy away from splurging on myself - after all, I'm a single woman, I have little to no family - if I don't, who will? When the holidays (also bonus season) roll around, I take things to the next level. Past years have seen me splurge on everything from a new Macbook Air to a very festive pair of red patent Louboutin Pigalles.

Given that this year has been an exceptionally good one, and I will be kicking off a new job on January 5, I couldn't resist knocking a couple of items off my Fashion Bucket List, the first being a Givenchy Antigona satchel. I was very particular about the Antigona, and though they pop up in various colorways, leathers and hardware combinations at sites like Rue La La for well below retail, for me, the bag is best at it's most minimal - in black, sturdy goat skin leather and sleek silver hardware. I've been carrying the Antigona since it arrived in early December and it's easily my BEST bag. It's got a certain bad bitch vibe that I just love.

I also picked up a (long-desired) Rick Owens leather jacket pre-holiday.  I had tried on long ago at Barneys and while Rick Owens jackets are both gorgeous and unmistakable, I took issues with spending $2k+ on a leather jacket, particularly given that I have an amazing Helmut Lang leather jacket that I picked up at the Woodbury Common for maybe (my memory is hazy) $600.  BUT, I'm only so strong, so when I saw Rick Owens among MyHabit's Black Friday events, I picked up a classic black leather jacket for well below $1k, taking into account a 20% off code.  In case MyHabit's not on your radar, it's a bit of sleeper in the flash sale category - owned by Amazon, they have killer designer product pop up, though it's admittedly often BURIED in multi-designer events. Invite here

Last, but not least, I caved on laser hair removal for my legs. I've already had laser on both my underarms and bikini, and it's a serious gamechanger - I love never having to worry about an errant hair.  This time, I booked at Skinney Med Spa and while I've only had one treatment (of at least 6) to date, I was super impressed - their space is GORGEOUS (I go to the downtown location, which they share with Warren-Tricomi), and the laser they use is remarkably painless and effective. While laser hair removal may seem like a hefty spend, I've never met someone who regretted it.

Do you believe in self-gifting? If you've splurged on anything special this season, share in the comments!

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