Gift Guide: Valentine’s Day 2023

Rituals, soothing experiences, a bit of flavor and more recommendations from our editorial team

Valentine’s Day is for celebrating love—between romantic partners, pals, pets or yourself. Whether you’re opposed, ambivalent, oblivious or obsessed with the holiday, treating a loved one to something special can be an undeniably satisfying experience. This year we are focusing on love from the inside out, and while self-care isn’t a shop-able product, indulging in a ritual or creating a thoughtful experience for a somebody you care about offers one of the most important gifts: time. Here the editors at COOL HUNTING have selected their favorite products for relaxing, restorative moments.

EIC David Graver finds that a bite of dark chocolate acts as an exclamation point to a meal, romantic or otherwise, and lends a very real, tactile happiness—a favorite being the 70% Yuzu Chocolate Bar ($9) from K + M Bean-to-Bar Chocolate. Freeze-dried Japanese yuzu peel joins Arriba Nacional cacao from Ecuador’s Hacienda Victoria Estate, organic cocoa butter and organic cane sugar for a luscious, light flavor. “I love what chef Thomas Keller has done with his bean-to-bar brand and I feel like the company’s values also support positive feelings,” Graver says.

“I was late to learn that SPF needs to be applied every day and struggled to find one that aligned with my skin type. Mixing and matching brands on my face always causes me to break out, so I recently committed to RéVive’s Renewal Cream Duo ($312) and found the set to be silky by day, luxuriant by night and functional throughout,” Graver adds. While both hydrate facial skin (thanks to a formulation that utilizes the epidermal growth factor molecule), the renewal cream aims to diminish fine lines overnight through gentle exfoliation and the latter, a broad-spectrum SPF 30, seeks to protect against the sun. RéVive Skincare was founded by Dr Gregory Brown, who quested to develop a process to heal burn victims.

For indulgence within reach, director of editorial Katie Olsen reads while soaking in the tub. A recent read, Ottessa Moshfegh’s novel My Year of Rest and Relaxation ($16) follows an unnamed narrator as she attempts a kind of hibernation thanks to prescription medications. Living on the Upper East Side in pre-9/11 NYC, the antihero protagonist is rich, beautiful and a Columbia graduate who works at a chic art gallery, but she feels alienated—even from her long-suffering best friend. Her solution is isolation and sleep. A story that sounds devastating when summarized, My Year of Rest and Relaxation is darkly funny, insightful and entirely engaging.

To elevate the humble bath, Le Labo’s luxurious massage and bath perfuming oils feel and smell decadent. “My pick is ANOTHER 13 ($76), but the NYC brand’s cult classic SANTAL 33 is also a favorite, as well as the bergamot- and vetiver-tinged NOIR 29,” she says. Each oil is formulated with vitamin E and jojoba, making the skin feel nourished, supple and smooth.

Editorial assistant Kelly Pau loves this Cleansing Clay ($60) from Flora Mirabilis because it gently yet strongly exfoliates without drying out the skin—even in winter. The clay (which works as both a cleanser and face mask) immediately leaves skin supple and hydrated. Plus, the hand-finished wooden knob and wax seal makes it feel like a real treat to use.

In a Chinese household, Ginseng is the go-to for any incoming colds, headaches, loss of energy or indigestion. “Most iterations normally taste like medicine, but this version, called Prince of Peace ($40), is light and cooling, and its restorative effects are immediate,” Pau says.

As a lover and proponent of plant and fungi medicine, co-founder Josh Rubin is happy to see new companies and formulations entering the space. “Juna’s rich chlorophyll Detox Drops ($26) have become part of my morning ritual and also aid on demand when I’m needing some extra detox,” Rubin explains.

Rubin adds, “Longtime fave Plant People never stops evolving and has recently released several new mushroom-based gummy formulations, including WonderCalm ($35)—a great de-stresser for particularly tense moments.”

Co-founder Evan Orensten has been using the Aura app ($13 or $8 per month) for guided stories, meditations, soundscapes and hypnosis. “I’ve found it to be extremely helpful in calming my mind and getting a good night’s sleep,” he says. “There are many, many different coaches, therapists and hypnotists, and each category offers a range of time and intention selections, truly providing something for nearly everyone seeking reflection, calm and sleep.”

Also focused on health, “I’ve brightened up my yoga practice with this tripadelic yoga mat ($185) by the artist Nick Cave,” Orensten adds. “I’ve always stayed away from patterned mats, but this one is energizing as well as beautiful to look at and practice on. It’s a great way to do something for yourself that’s both beautiful and useful.”

Hero image TK, all others courtesy of respective brands

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