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Post Tax Season Splurges

Four Top Pampering Picks

You’ve been good this year -- paid your dues to Uncle Sam before the ides of April, took your Sigg to the gym instead of springing for environmentally unfriendly plastic water bottles, tightened the belt enough so you felt it but didn’t get too uncomfortable. That’s why it’s time to treat yourself. And I’m not talking about a Louis Vuitton bag or a new iPhone. After all, any excessive non-essential purchases made in the heat of a stressful moment might just yield diminishing returns, if not for your wallet, then certainly for your health. Let’s try an alternative, shall we? Here are four things to splurge on after tax season that’ll help manage stress levels and keep you, your sanity, and your finances in balance in the long run.

Moorish Mud Treatment at 77 Maiden Lane Salon & Spa
For close to two decades, 77 Maiden Lane has been offering salon and spa services to the crème de la crème of San Francisco’s high rollers. If you’ve never actually set foot into the Union Square mainstay, you’ll probably be pleasantly surprised at the unpretentiousness of the space, which is decked out with neutral hues and sun-kissed hardwood floors covering thousands of square feet. Often, the space is packed to the brim with boisterous debutantes and pre-wedding brides, but on the occasional Sunday morning, you can relax over a cup of green tea in peace while getting a luxurious mani/pedi.

While the tantalizing spa packages and a seriously sleek salon might offer their own temptations, it’s the Moor Mud Body treatment and its combination of beauty and wellness that will mollify worked-up nerves and offer one of the most satisfying detox sessions you’re likely to find this side of colon hydrotherapy. The health benefits of mud have been documented for centuries and include improving the complexion, relieving joint pain, and purging the body of unwanted bacteria and toxins. Thankfully, the mud used in this treatment isn’t your typical putrid concoction but includes plenty of essential oils and fragrant substances like lavender. Following a dry-brush exfoliation, you’re slathered with mud, then wrapped in foil and blankets so the mud can set and absorb toxins. After showering off, your anti-fatigue treatment gets one winning finishing touch: a 30-minute upper body massage to work out all your remaining kinks.

The cost: $140 for 80 minutes.

Acupuncture at Double Happiness Health
Getting your house in order with your finances and your life means getting your chi in order. And there’s no better way to do that than paying a visit to Christine Friel over at Double Happiness Health, which provides acupuncture, herbal medicine, and therapeutic massage to folks with chronic ailments and other maladies.

Double Happiness, which is based out of a funky, cozy space stocked with original art and eclectic accoutrements, is the perfect go-to for herbal prescriptions, patient education (which Friel places a premium on), and the thinnest, least pain-inducing acupuncture needles around. Friel is trained in Chinese medicine and has also spent 14 years as a massage therapist, so she’s aware of everything from important pulse points, to preventive medicine through natural herbal alternatives, to the muscles that make you tick. Aside from administering both out-of-this world pampering (massage) and the nitty-gritty practical stuff (extremely thorough health and dietary consultations), Friel operates on the notion of affordable community health services that combine Eastern principles of healing with Western clinical research. And it’s her combination of rigor and gentleness that keeps ‘em coming back.

After a relaxing acupuncture session in one of the warm massage beds, you can get feedback on the perfect herbal concoctions--which are available in loose tea, powder, and pill form -- for your specific health issue. Whether you decide to follow up with extra treatments or stick to a suggested nutrition and exercise regimen, the information you get post-session (in the form of information packets, lists of foods beneficial to your condition, suggested breathing techniques, and herbal recommendations) will at least point you in the direction of optimal health.

The cost: $130 for the initial consultation and treatment, and $70 for each follow-up visit; and insurance is accepted.

Flower Essences from Nectar Essences
It goes without saying -- being gifted with flowers is always a good thing. Not only do they bring a smile to your face and a fresh aroma to any musty old room -- scientists have also discovered there are numerous benefits to inhaling flowers. This includes the benefits of deep breathing, improved memory (our sense of smell goes straight to the limbic system, the part of the brain that controls memory), and oxygenation to the body. Jenny Pao’s San Francisco-based boutique company, Nectar Essences, is aware of all that good stuff and peddles fragrant elixirs (with names like De-Stress, Sleep, and Balance), in addition to education about the many wonderful things associated with flowers and essential oils.

Already picking up speed in a cadre of wellness spas throughout the country, Nectar Essences uses wildcrafted, organic, biodynamic, and ecologically sustainable ingredients. Pao, a holistic healing practitioner who draws inspiration from the way flowers have touched people’s lives throughout the millennia and across cultures, asserts that flowers are a natural medicine for the soul. Her knowledge of ethnobotany and the energetic properties of different flowers has resulted in a line of four products, natural remedies created from collecting dewdrops from flowers. While the ingredients are free of body chemistry-altering compounds, they embody the idea of “capturing the energy of a smile and putting it into a bottle for a rainy day.” My personal favorite, the heavenly smelling Sleep formula, contains 13 flower essences, as well as organic lavender, neroli, and jasmine essential oils. All you need do is spray it around your bed and be assured of a night of sweet dreams, sans any tossing and turning.

Nectar Essences

The cost: $28 for a 50mL elixir spray.

An Intuitive Reading from Nicki Bonfilio
Ever been to a psychic? Tarot cards, crystal balls, doom and gloom, and sleazy attempts to pilfer your money are just some of the negative associations you might harbor. But don’t worry--intuitive reader Nicki Bonfilio is here to transform any misconceptions or prejudices about extrasensory perception. For the past several years, Bonfilio has enjoyed a stable of clients who come to her for advice and confirmation on important things going on in their lives. In many ways, Bonfilio -- a grounded, convivial woman who works out of a sunny Mission office that completely belies most people’s ideas of psychic digs--is like a therapist for your spirit.

Bonfilio’s readings average an hour and a half and consist of her meditating on the hidden workings of both your environment and you. A clairvoyant since childhood who began professional readings after intuiting a friend’s serious health condition, Bonfilio can see auras, pick up names of people or entities in your life, envision your life purpose, and pull vital stats seemingly out of the ether. Despite how deep she can go in 90 minutes, a visit to Bonfilio is like visiting with an uncannily perceptive friend rather than a kooky spirit medium giving you life-or-death scenarios. Rather than “forecasting” the future, Bonfilio chooses to focus on free will and honing one’s own sixth sense. As she says, “It’s not about dictating to a client what to do or what’s going to happen--it’s about letting them decide what they want to do with the information, and helping them tap into their own intuition so they can learn to follow what’s right for them.”

The cost: $150 for 90 minutes; shorter or longer sessions are available, too.