There’s a particular kind of joy in knowing exactly where to go in your hometown to get a truly transportive spa experience. But then, there are the ones worth traveling for: the once-in-a-lifetime, dream-of-it-always kinds that will ring inside you like a bell for years to come. We asked some of our favorite beauty creators, formulators and founders to spill the beans on the beauty experiences they’ll never forget, the ingredients they can’t find anywhere else, and the lengths they’ll go to get them. Caveat emptor: the following content may trigger extreme spa envy.
The ingredients that Lindstrom uses to craft her namesake skincare line might read like a recipe for an ancient epicurean potion: myrrh and frankincense oils, vanilla and cocoa extracts, Bulgarian roses and jasmine petals, colloidal silver and raw, local honey. She houses these rich wonders in her studio in L.A., where she blends each formula by hand. Her most recent release, The Honey Mud, currently has a waitlist of 10,000, but we’re pretty sure it’s the waiting that makes the cleansing masque that much sweeter. The influence of her favorite treatment can be felt throughout her line:
“Ten years ago, on my honeymoon in Ubud, Indonesia, I immersed myself in the queen of treatments, Lulur, a spice and yogurt exfoliation and body-polishing process practiced in the palaces of central Java since the 17th century. The traditional ritual begins with a deep, full-body Balinese-style oil massage. Then comes the lulur paste—a 400-year-old tribal recipe rich in warming herbs and spices that help stimulate blood circulation to promote a glowing complexion. This fragrant blend is rubbed over the entire body, sending heat into the cells and chasing away dead skin. The ritual finishes with a spicy essential oil and milk bath traditionally decorated with several handfuls of fresh and deeply scented flower petals. It’s been a decade, and Agung—the angel who treated me—remains crystal clear in my memory. This all happened at Ubud Sari Health Resort, but I’d travel anywhere to meet the hands of Agung again.”
When we need an expert tip or some serious skincare real talk, there’s only one woman to call: Kerrilynn Pamer, founder of the contemporary natural beauty emporium CAP Beauty, who recently moved to Malibu after decades in Brooklyn. It’s no surprise then that her pick for top spa experience combines peak landscape beauty with superlative ingredients for the ultimate natural high:
“It’s been years, but one of my most favorite experiences that I’ve had while traveling was to go to the baths at Ten Thousand Waves in the mountains of Santa Fe, New Mexico. A traditional Japanese bathhouse combined with one of the best massages of my life has me planning a trip sooner rather than later. The whole compound is scented with the majestic Japanese hinoki, and anytime I smell it, I’m reminded of what a gorgeous experience that was.”
Athena Hewett: Monastery
The herbalist and aesthetician created her skincare line with inspiration from her Greek heritage and the splendor of the landscape. It’s the same source of inspiration behind the design of her sought-after San Francisco skin studio: Think whitewashed buildings set against the bluest sea, ancient ceramics filled with wildflowers. For those of us who can’t currently travel to Greece, a trip to Athena’s studio—or a dip into her imagination—is the next best thing. Naturally, her top treatment was in Greece:
“I’m dreaming of going back to Pozar Thermal Baths outside of Thessaloniki for the springs. It’s more of a local spot. I have an uncle that lives in Thessaloniki, and we would make a point of going there when we were visiting him. Lake Vouliagmeni outside of Athens is also very cool. It’s known for its natural spa waters. It’s not what you think of as a traditional ‘spa experience,’ but it’s very relaxing and peaceful.”
Diana Welch: Haoma
Diana Welch wears many hats. As the Austin-based Brand Editor & Chief Experience Officer for the new luxury natural skincare line Haoma, she helps oversee the curation and creation of the brand (from radio station to journal to the CBD- and mushroom-laced products themselves). As a ceramicist, she creates under the name Mother of God (@motherofgod_ceramics). Safe to say: Her cup runneth over. Welch’s favorite travel-for-beauty item is, naturally, exotic:
“The Berber lip stain known as aker fassi is pretty cool. I picked one up in the market when I was in Marrakesh in 2018, and I still have it. Mine is a bright, deep-red stain that comes dried in a beautiful little terra cotta pot with a handle. You just moisten the stain with a wet finger to apply. It really spoke to me as a ceramicist, so for me it functions as both a tiny sculptural keepsake and an everyday beauty tool.”
Tata Harper knows a thing or two about quality ingredients. With her eponymous organic line, the Colombian-born natural-beauty mogul creates handcrafted farm-to-face skincare treatments from the herbs and flowers in the abundant gardens of her 1,200-acre farm in Vermont, as well as from countries around the world. With a homestead like that, it’s no wonder her most memorable treatment features her very own floral fantasy:
“While I might be biased, I always love traveling to the beautiful Blackberry Farm in Walland, Tennessee, to get a signature Tata Harper Farm Fresh Face Lift. Nestled in the Smoky Mountains, the spa is truly a serene and relaxing experience, where you are surrounded by acres of greenery and nature. The treatment includes a therapeutic massage to reduce wrinkles, depuff and hydrate skin with ingredients like rock rose, immortal grass, calendula, lavender, jasmine, amino acids, and more. My skin always looks radiant and refreshed following!”
April Gargiulo: Vintner’s Daughter
Vintner’s Daughter Founder April Gargiulo wasn’t trying to create a cult when she first formulated her Active Botanical Serum—she swears. But her knack for combining both ancient and 21st-century techniques to create what she deems “nutritional skincare” launched a movement of die-hard devotees. Perhaps this explains why her pick for top treatment involves a ceremony?
“One of the most healing remedies I have ever experienced was a living tea ceremony in Hanalei, Hawaii, with an extraordinary group of women. The water for the tea was collected from a natural spring on top of Kauai’s lush mountains, which made the ritual that much more resonant. For me, it is moments like these of true connection to people, energy and the earth that are always the most healing.”
Abbye Churchill is a multidisciplinary artist and author who works with textiles, plants, food, and community. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, Vogue, Food + Wine and W, among others. She was the Editorial Director of Wilder magazine and her first book, A Wilder Life was featured in the New York Times Book Review’s “Best of Summer.” Her most recent title is The Gardens of Eden: New Residential Garden Concepts & Architecture for a Greener Planet. She lives in Brooklyn, NY.