As you read this, Black Friday is approaching. That's the day when apparently all these poor, hapless shoppers run out the day after Thanksgiving, get trapped in the mall, and cry. But there's no need for that if you live in LA. Here at Find A Toad, there's plenty of great shopping destinations, and NONE of them involve a mall!
We've already explored stuff for the home and accessories. Now, it's on to the more personal side of gift shopping. Beauty and health are of paramount importance in this most shallow of cities, and luckily LA offers a plethora of options for giftees to look and feel their very best.
Beauty and Health
Healing Hands: This mini massage chain is an excellent resource for good, competent massage in a clean setting. They tout different styles, but I've mostly had swedish with maybe a little deep tissue thrown in. The staff is unfailingly professional. And it's usually easy to obtain a last minute session. Did I mention the prices? $55 for an hour is a great price. Buy a friend a session or two for the gift of relaxation that'll last through the year.
303 S. Crescent Heights Blvd, 323-782-3900
414 N. Larchmont Blvd., 323-461-7876
Olympic Spa: The korean spa is an LA institution, really a must have experience. True, it's not for the shy or faint of heart, since everyone is stark naked. Women wander in various states of undress. A popular treatment here involves you or your giftee naked and face down on a slippy bed, being scrubbed to within an inch of your life by an older korean woman wearing a black bra and panties. It sounds far kinkier than it is. The result is the cleanest you've ever felt. Every bit of nasty old dead skin is gone, leaving you and yours with an entirely fresh epidermis. Plus, you get access to the many pools and saunas. A gift certificate from here is always appreciated.
3915 W. Olympic Blvd. 323-857-0666
A Facial from Arielle: Arielle at Club Prive gives the best facial in LA. Her methods are up to date in terms of using oxygen to refresh and electric pulse to disinfect, but she's not jumping on every skin trend bandwagon. See, she doesn't have to. Arielle has the hands, and these hands massage and coax tension from your face, while encouraging much needed lymphatic drainage. It's basically 90 minutes of bliss. Even the extractions are quick and efficient, so that you can move on to the heated mitts to moisten your hands while you lie under a mask and nap. Buy someone a facial from Arielle and you'll have a friend for life.
Scentbar: Perfume for someone else can be a tricky proposition, but the selection at Scentbar might make it easier. This utilitarian yet luxe white space offers virtually every cult scent in the universe. You'll find none of that department store nastiness here. Some of the brands can be found other places (Barney's comes to mind), but the help at Scentbar is so excellent and attentive, I don't see why anyone would purchase perfume anywhere else. And if you already know what you're looking for, have it sent through the website.
8327 Beverly Blvd.
Larchmont Beauty: Time after time, this crammed little beauty supply receives serious accolades. If there's a new hit product, chances are it's already on the shelves. It's very easy to fill a beauty basket for someone in a matter of seconds (and just as easy to empty your wallet in the same amount of time). With entire lines of Bliss, Ole Hendriksen, Hauschka, Fresh, Nars, and Stila, both body and face are beautifully served. A word of warning: self control is hard to come by in there.
208 N. Larchmont Blvd.
Fred Segal Beauty: The Santa Monica locale offers a huge beauty section, packed with cult products and lovely ways to wrap them. The products cost what they cost, although I always suspect there's a price increase just for the store. Still, it's such a pleasant shopping experience. An excellent westside option
500 W. Broadway
Exercise Gift Certificates to Pure Barre, Pilates Plus, or the Bar Method: I've tried all of these classes. They all work just fine, boast various and convenient locations around town, and work for both beginners and experts alike. Relying on isotonic movements, they have a fairly decent learning curve. It's difficult to hurt yourself in these classes, which is good since you'd probably prefer that your gift not cripple someone. A great New Year's gift for a person who really keeps her resolutions.
The Gift of the Circus: For the fitness enthusiast in your life, a gift of Aerial Fitness and Conditioning classes at Cirque School LA just might open the door to a whole new world of exercise. Taught by true circus pros in an incredible lofty space in Hollywood, these classes combine old fashioned skills like rope climbing and sit ups with basic trapeze and fabric moves (pictured at right). This class whips you into shape FAST, and prepares those who've caught the Cirque bug for dedicated trapeze (Cirque du Soliel style, not flying) or fabric classes. Seriously, it's a blast. Sign up online and GO!
5640 1/2 Hollywood Blvd.