Prickly Pear Seed Oil Skin Care Benefits

Shannon Smyth

Fine lines and wrinkles, brown spots, dry skin... as we age, it seems like we suddenly have a plethora of skin issues to combat. As someone with "mature skin" (I honestly hate that term), I've discovered a prickly pear seed oil that has been doing wonders on my skin.

What is Prickly Pear Seed Oil?

Also known as cactus oil or barbary fig oil, it's an oil derived from the prickly pear, a member of the cactus family.

Found in Morocco, and other dry climates, it's an oil that is rich in essential fatty acids (EFA's), Vitamin E (Tocopherols), Phytosterols (water-binders) and Polyphenols (micronutrients.)

Face Oils Don't Equal Oily Skin

I'll be honest, prior to using heritage & terre's Coeur de Cactus, I never thought too much of how life-changing this antioxidant-rich oil would be.

Having combination skin most of my life, for a time I misunderstood the relationship between oils and oily skin. I thought oils/serums = increased and/or added to oily skin.

It took until my 30's to understand that there are products that cause the over-production of sebum (oily skin) - usually ingredients that were harsh on my skin and dry it out; and there are oils that kept it in perfect balance.

It was all a matter of educating myself and finding the right ones. A great face oil will give you what your skin needs, not make it oilier.

Cactus Oil Skin Benefits

Getting back to what makes prickly pear seed oil an amazing multi-tasker for mature skin.

Essential Fatty Acids: I mentioned this in my keratosis pilaris article, EFA's contain linoleic, oleic and palmitic acid. Acid is not a bad word here.

These acids help skin to stregthen its moisture barrier, repair and heal, and aids other beneficial skin care ingredients in better penetrating skin (e.g. helping your products to actually work for you and not against you.)

Vitamin E: This antoxidant is found in most anti-aging products for a reason. It's tried and true when it comes to helping fight environmental damage, tackling fine lines and wrinkles by way of keeping skin hydrated and protecting skin cells that make collagen and elastin (something we lose as we age.)

Phytosterols and Polyphenols: From helping to retain moisture to assisting in collagen production to preventing and treating sun damage (wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, loose skin, red and uneven skin tone, etc.), this is where prickly pear seed oil shines.

heritage & terre Coeur de Cactus

I use heritage & terre's cactus oil twice per day. For my a.m. routine, I use it as my sole moisturizer before applying my sunscreen. For my p.m. routine, I apply it before my Jan Marini Transformation Face Cream.

I've needed to use my concealer much less, because my skin isn't as ruddy. Brown spots seem a bit faded and not as evident. My skin has not been greasy or dry since using this serum regularly (6+ weeks at this point.)

The wrinkles on my face are bit more minimized and the lines around my eyes have softened. (Yes, I still have wrinkles...those never go away.)

I feel more confident on my non-makeup wearing days. You'd think as a beauty blogger I'd always been in a full face of makeup, but as in real life, that is not the case.

Just living life with a fresh face is refreshing and I don't feel like I have to hid under layers of makeup to treat all of my "flaws."

If you haven't yet tried this type of face oil, I highly recommend it. 2-3 drops is all you need.

Subscribe to A Girl’s Gotta Spa! beauty blog. Watch our reviews on YouTube, see our pins on Pinterest and check us out on Instagram. Or check out our natural bath and body line!

Read more →

Retailer Spotlight: Courtney Hollis of Lilly's Bathcarry

Shannon Smyth
A Girl's Gotta Spa! retailers are the best! And I am happy to feature Courtney of Lilly's Bathcarry so that you can get to know her better.

Lilly's Bathcarry has been one of our retailers, almost since our launch. So often, wholesale relationships are hands-off and all about supplying a need for the customer.

But that's what's unique about the partnership with Lilly's Bathcarry. Courtney is very approachable and she makes you feel like the relationship is more than transactional, it's relational.

Read more →

What is Keratosis Pilaris? Symptoms and Treatment

Shannon Smyth
Keratosis Pilaris symptoms and treatment.

What is Keratosis Pilaris?

According to skin care expert, René Serbon, Keratosis Pilaris (commonly referred to as KP) is a keratolytic skin disorder.

Most often seen on the outer upper arms, but can occur on the thighs and cheeks, and less frequently on the forearms and upper back. The condition presents as numerous rough follicular spots that can be skin colored, red, or brown.

The bumps generally don’t hurt or itch. The transition of vellus hair to terminal hair may be an aggravating factor to why this condition often develops in teenage year indicative of a hormonal trigger such as androgen.

Vellus hair, twisted into a spiky keratolytic plug, emerge from the dilated opening of the pilosebaceous duct, can become discolored with pigment or inflammation or both.

In layman's terms - KP is that red, bumpy skin that is annoying at best and is often referred to as, "chicken skin."

How to get rid of red bumpy skin.

At What Age Does KP Appear?

KP is also most evident during teenage years, however; it can be present in babies and persist into adulthood usually disappearing by age 30. It can be particularly prevalent in those who are overweight.

My youngest son has had KP on his arms since birth. Anyone who has ever touched his arms, always remarks on the bumps.

Is KP Genetic?

When I was in my teens and first realized that my skin was not like my friends, I began to notice my mom's skin was exactly the same. And some of her siblings also had this bumpy skin.

Now a mom myself, I have come to understand that KP is familial. My son's have it, as well as atopic dermatitis and eczema.

Serbon explained to me, "There is a genetic predisposition. In individuals with a history of eczema, atopic dermatitis or ichthyosis a genetic filaggrin gene deficiency might be present."

She also told me, "People with a very fair skin and red hair, e.g. Celtic background are also prone." And this makes sense. While we don't have red hair, both their father and myself are Irish (my mom's side of the family is Irish as well.)

Can You Get Keratosis Pilaris on Your Face?

While the bumps are commonly on your upper arms, thighs, and buttocks, it can also present on your face, although it is not as common.

strawberry legs image for pinterest

What Are the Symptoms of KP?

As described above, the symptoms largely surround the presentation of numerous small rough bumps on the skin, is typically dry, and can occur in patches. The biggest complaint of those who have KP is the appearance of their skin.

Although, the majority of the medical literature describe sufferers of KP as symptom-free, others support that itching can occur and, less commonly, redness and swelling can be a potential problem. Especially if you are not proactively exfoliating and moisturizing your skin regularly.

Note, that there are times of the year or certain climates that can cause KP to worsen (ie: in weather that promotes dryness it can worsen, in weather that promotes moisture it tends to subdue). KP is not associated with pain or progression of symptoms (ref: Keratosis pilaris, 2).

Should one suspect that they have KP, but see an uncomfortable worsening or progression of symptoms, be sure to consult your physician to determine if there is a need to see a dermatologist or if the doctor feels that any of the associated skin conditions that may co-occur with KP are present.

“Keratosis pilaris is often described in association with other dry skin conditions such as ichthyosis vulgaris, xerosis, and, less commonly, with atopic dermatitis, including conditions of asthma and allergies” (ref: Alai, 1).

Are There Times of the Year When KP is More Prominent?

In the winter months or times of low humidity there is fast trans epidermal water loss (TEWL), Keratosis pilaris tends to be more severe.

Does KP Ever Go Away?

Dr. Hannah Sivak, PhD Founder of Skin Actives Scientifis, says yes. "As we age, the skin gets thinner and KP goes away." Serbon agrees, stating that it persists into adulthood and usually disappears by age 30.

At 45, my KP has yet to disappear, although it is not nearly as bad as it was in my teens and twenties.

But what can those of us do until it actually resolves itself decades from when it started?

Keratosis Pilaris Treatment

First and foremost, Serbon recommends reducing sun exposure to reduce keratinization.

Enzyme treatments, lotions that contain lactic acid or ammonium lactate and daily use of vitamin A in creams or lotions help to reduce KP, according to Serbon.

For those who have KP on their face, Dr. Sivak recommends products with ingredients such as alpha hydroxy acids, salicylic acid (also called "beta hydroxy"), and vitamin A.

There are surgical treatments that can be done to treat KP, although it's not something I will address in this article.

At home therapies are not a cure, however they can help to reduce KP flare ups and will help to minimize the appearance of it. These are otherwise known as home remedies or over the counter treatments.

Physical and Chemical Exfoliation

To smoothe out skin and help to "unplug" the keratin build up in the hair follicle, you need to exfoliate a few times per week.

For Face: Skin Actives Alpha-Beta Exfoliant Solution: Chemical is not a bad word here, as alpha and beta hydroxy acids exfoliate skin. This is a great way to to keep follicles (and pores) on your face, exfoliated of build up. I don't have KP on my face personally, but I use this exfoliant to keep blackheads on my nose and chin at bay.

For Body: A Girl's Gotta Spa! Energizing Citrus Salt Scrub: Manually exfoliate and smoothe your arms and legs by massaging affected areas with Dead Sea Salt. You also get the added bonus of hydration from sunflower and safflower seed oils.

Creams to Exfoliate

Creams containing alpha hydroxy acid, lactic acid, salicylic acid or urea help loosen and remove dead skin cells.

For Face: Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 8% AHA Lotion Exfoliant: With 8% glycolic acid mixed with plant-soothing botanicals, skin is exfoliated without scrubbing and nourished at the same time.

For Body: AmLactin Lotion: This lotion has lactic acid in it, so it both exfoliates and hydrates skin.

Lotions to Keep Skin Hydrated

After removing the build-up of dead skin cells from the hair follicles, it's important to keep skin moisturized at all times, as it is the lack of moisture that creates the dry skin that lends to the cycle of build up.

It's especially important to be dilligent with this two-step process if you live in a dry climate and during seasonal dryness (like Fall and Winter.)

For Face: heritage & terre Prickly Pear Seed Oil: While not a lotion, this serum nourishes like a dream. 2-3 drops of this cold-pressed Moroccan cactus oil is all it takes to keep skin hydrated because it is very high in linoleic acid.

For Body: A Girl's Gotta Spa! Energizing Citrus Body Lotion: Olive oil, shea butter and cocoa butter create a trifecta of hydration (and pairs perfectly with the body scrub.) Olive oil is an emollient and has fatty acids (oleic, palmitic, and linoleic) that work wonderfully on the skin. Shea and Cocoa Butter are both humectants and emollients. Your skin will never be left feeling dry.

Sylveco Birch Moisturizing Body Balm - This lotion contains grapeseed oil (an emollient), aloe, Vitamin E and betulin from the bark of birch trees. It's both soothing and hydrating.

Sidenote: I used this lotion from Sylveco on my teen son, who has atopic dermatitis on his elbows, with amazing results - stay tuned for that review!

kosmatology Goody-Goody Grapefruit Lotion Bar: If you've been reading this blog since its inception in 2005, it all began with a lotion bar. This one from kosmatology comes in a handy twist-up tube with ingredients like shea butter, coconut oil, and olive oil in Candelilla wax.

All of the above won't prevent or make this skin condition go away. It will only improve the appearance and help you to manage it better.

If moisturizing and other self-care measures don't help, your doctor may prescribe medicated creams.

Things to Avoid if You Have KP

  • Hot water, whether via a long bath or shower. Warm water is best.
  • Exfoliants that are rough on the skin, like body scrubs that contain walnut shells or apricot kernels.
  • Completely drying skin when getting out of the shower. Leaving skin slightly damp and then applying your lotion works best.
  • Tight clothes - the friction can make things worse.
  • Prolonged sun exposure - and always wear broad spectrum sunscreen regardless.

Subscribe to A Girl’s Gotta Spa! beauty blog. Watch our reviews on YouTube, see our pins on Pinterest and check us out on Instagram. Don’t forget to check out our cruelty free beauty products!

This article is in no way meant to diagnose and treat a skin condition. Speak to your dr., who will know your whole health history.


  1. Alai A., MD, FAAD. “Keratosis Pilaris Treatment and Management.” emedicine.
  2. Keratosis pilaris.” WebMD.
  3. René Serbon, Skin Expert.
  4. Dr. Hannah Sivak, PhD Founder of Skin Actives Scientifis.

Co-written with Courtney Smith, BSN.

Read more →

5 DIY Beauty Ideas - Round-Up

Courtney Smith BSN

Top 5 DIY Round Up Musts with Sensational Party Idea Included

We did all the work so you don’t have to…


How many times do we hear ourselves say, "I want clearer skin?" "Smaller Pores?" "A youthful glow?" "Even skin tone?" You get the point.

We ask ourselves how we can achieve these things, which products to buy, and then we go searching. Usually this results in one of two things - we see the prices and cringe or we're overwhelmed with the selection choices and either choose on a whim or throw our hands up all together.

Truth is, although there are many great products out there that are well worth the cost (such as, A Girl's Gotta Spa! products *cough cough*), we can also easily concoct some of the very best skin care products right from our own kitchen with little effort.

DIY products allow for dollars saved, knowledge gained, ease of experimenting to see what works best for us, and best of all allows us the control of knowing exactly what ingredients are in our self-made products.

Of course it’s best to follow the guidance and wisdom of those who have went before us on these ventures, so below is a short round up of 5 of the best DIY skin care articles written by us here at AGGS over the years to start you on your way and condense your search!

DIY Facial Peels

Read this article if you are looking for DIY on:

  • Restoring hydration
  • Evening out dark spots
  • Addressing fine lines and wrinkles
  • Soothing skin irritation and reducing swelling

This article lays out three simple, but effective skin peels, as well as a concise and accurate description of what skin peels are and why they are a useful part of our skin care regime.

DIY Honey Apple Cider Vinegar Sugar Scrub

Read this article if your looking to combat:

  • Redness
  • Dullness
  • Oily Skin

This article gives the how-to on creating a fabulously surreal sugar scrub that is especially great for the winter months or for those in dry air conditions.

There are so many great honeys out there and even different sugars that we would love to hear your input and experience on what you chose and how it worked!

DIY Pumpkin Spice Latte Face Scrub

Read this article if your looking for DIY on:

  • GLOW

This is where we learn that Pumpkin Spice Latte is for more than just sipping during the holiday season, and don’t be mistaken and start dumping a cup of it on your face. No, no, no we are talking about how to make a DIY SCRUB that will help you get your GLOW on!

And really who doesn’t want that all year round? Mmmm, take a read to find out what all the talk is about. No need for throwing shade when all we really wanna do is glllloooooow! Sparkle sparkle.

Winter Skin Care DIY

Read this article if you want hair to heel DIY recipes on saying buh-bye to the winter woes of dry this and that body foes like:

  • Dry Skin
  • Dry Hair
  • Static Hair
  • Chapped lips
  • Rough Elbows
  • Cracked and shotty heels

This article is fruitfully filled with SEVEN skin and hair product recipes for masks, scrubs, AND moisturizers that include such ingredients as chocolate and coconut to vanilla and figs. A MUST READ!

DIY Acne Treatments

Read this article if you want DIY treatments for:

  • ACNE

Yup, I put it in caps because we all know what a PIA acne is, that it’s difficult to treat, and often not so light on the purse strings.

Take a visual gander to gain insightful tips and guidance with trialing some at-home remedies that may make all the difference in the world when trying to abolish the age ol’ blemish.

Please always remember to read directions carefully and follow instructions, but most of all HAVE FUN and tell us ALL about it!

DIY beauty tips

PARTY IDEA NOTE: Invite the girls over and put these recipes out with a selection of ingredients laid out on the counter and have a literal party where each guest gets to make their own beauty product.

  • Awesome social event ✔️
  • Great for conversation starters and exchanging ideas ✔️
  • Beauty and self-care/love inspired ✔️
  • Party favor/gift included without you having to make them ✔️

Take pictures and let us know how it goes, we LOVE hearing from you!!!

Subscribe to A Girl’s Gotta Spa! beauty blog. Watch our reviews on YouTube, see our pins on Pinterest and check us out on Instagram. Don't forget to check out our cruelty free beauty products!

Read more →

BELLA Magazine Featured Our Salt Scrub

Shannon Smyth
BELLA Magazine Gratitude Issue

Oh spa girls, I am so excited right now! BELLA Magazine has featured A Girl's Gotta Spa! Synergy Himalayan Salt Scrub in their Gratitude issue!

On page 27, you'll find a list of 10 stocking stuffer ideas, including our super fab salt scrub!

Stocking Stuffer ideas via BELLA Magazine featuring A Girl's Gotta Spa! Synergy Himalayan Salt Scrub

Maybe you're new here, so let me tell you all about this amazing exfoliator.


the interaction or cooperation of two or more substances that produce a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects.

via the Oxford Dictionary

Synergy has so many power driven ingredients to gently exfoliate and nourish your skin, leaving you with a next level glow.

Natural Body Scrub

As a body scrub that is 100% natural and Leaping Bunny certified cruelty free, under the lid you'll find Pink Himalayan Salt, safflower and sunflower seed oils, buds of lavender and cornflower mixed with lavender, jasmine, rose geranium, palmarosa and cedarwood oils.

The natural ingredients in Synergy hit every pain point - from tackling the flakes of dry skin to moisturizing it back to a silky softness; add in a known scar-fading ingredient and the aromatherapy powers of lavender to promote de-stressing - and you've discovered your new must-have.

If you haven't tried A Girl's Gotta Spa! Synergy Himalayan Salt Scrub yet, you are surely in for a treat!

Grab it here on our website (and look for the 10% off pop up!) or click on over to Amazon:

BELLA Magazine can be found on newsstands and every Barnes and Nobles in the US. Go grab your copy today!

To stay in the loop regarding our bath and body line, please subscribe to our mailing list. Also check out our ever growing list of retailers that believe in our mission statement – You Deserve to be Pampered. Looking to sell A Girl’s Gotta Spa! in your store? Please contact us!

Read more →

A Girl's Gotta Spa! Joins Second Annual Women-Led Wednesday

Shannon Smyth
The united shopping day designed to create a gender-balanced economy set for November 27th, 2019

November 4, 2019 (Sun Valley, ID) — A Girl's Gotta Spa!, a brand dedicated to encouraging and empowering women through self-care beauty products, is thrilled to announce its participation in the second annual Women-Led Wednesday on November 27, 2019.

Women-Led Wednesday is...

a collective brand campaign designed to spotlight and encourage holiday shoppers to support women-founded and -led brands.

Similar to purpose-driven shopping holidays like Small Business Saturday, Women-Led Wednesday is dedicated to supporting a specific business group – women, women-identified, and non-binary/genderqueer brand leaders – in efforts to create a more gender-balanced economy.

Beyond the November 27 Women-Led Wednesday holiday, the initiative is dedicated to promoting and uniting women-led brands year-round.

The newly launched Women-Led Wednesday website and directory allow visitors to explore, search for and learn more about women-led brands.

I strongly believe in community over competition and have always, and will continue, to support female-led companies. Women investing in women with their dollars, their words and their actions, shows future generations the importance of standing behind female-led brands," said Shannon Smyth, A Girl's Gotta Spa! Chief Pampering Officer.

Shannon Smyth in 2014 when she launched her product line.

Not Enough Women in C-Level Positions

Today, women are 50.8% of the population and 52% of the professional-level work force in the U.S. but only 25% of executives and senior management officials, 20% of board seats, and 6% of CEOs among S&P 500 companies.

As of 2018 there were more CEOs named James than women of any name running Fortune 500 companies according to a study published by the New York Times.

“There’s no shortage of discussion and a lot of viable paths to get more women in the C-suite and on Fortune 500 executive boards,” said Women-Led Wednesday Creator and Wild Rye Co-Founder Cassie Abel.

“I believe that one of the best and fastest paths to create a more gender-balanced economy; however, is to shine a light on and encourage everyone to vote with their dollars for brands that are already led by women.

Visible female leadership is so important to the health of our global economy long-term, the collaborative initiative aims to encourage holiday shoppers to shop women-led brands on November 27, 2019 and the other 364 days a year.

“Participating brands are thinking bigger than themselves and understand that a rising tide lifts all ships,” Abel continued. “After over 100 brands committed to the initiative in a two-week period the first year, I knew the idea resonated with women business leaders.

Women are eager to support each other in a way that’s really special. Year two is shaping up to be much bigger with more brands, bigger brands and a more coordinated effort. I can’t wait to see what we can accomplish—we truly are stronger together.” serves as the campaign’s primary discovery hub and directory of women-led businesses. Established female-led consumer products brands and retailers can join for the 2nd annual through the “join us” tab on the website.

Instagram: @womenledwednesday
Twitter: @womenledwed

#WomenLedWednesday #ShopWomenLed

About Women-Led Wednesday
Women-Led Wednesday is a nationwide campaign designed to encourage consumers to support by voting with their dollars for women-led brands during the holiday shopping season and beyond. The second annual Women-Led Wednesday will take place on Wednesday, November 27, 2019. The campaign supports women in leadership and empowers female entrepreneurs in efforts to create a more gender-balanced economic landscape. Our mission is simple: support women. Visit for more information.

Read more →

Fleur & Bee Rose and Shine Rose Water Toner

Courtney Smith BSN

I recently had the opportunity to try out Fleur & Bee's Rose and Shine Refreshing Rose Water Toner - that you must hear about!

Fleur & Bee is a company known for their stance on creating 100% natural, non-toxic skincare products that are Leaping Bunny certified cruelty free.

What I also would like to note before diving into this review, is that they are a company who gives back to support and empower women. 1% of all
sales goes to the distribution of menstrual hygiene products to girls in need.

This is such an untouched area of need in this country, and especially in financially destitute countries.

Many do not realize the absolute need for access to these products and/or the positive impact on health and well-being, infection control, and even self-worth of a woman.

The fact that Fleur & Bee appreciates the need and impact, as well as follows through on supporting this need, tells me from the door that they are an action-oriented company who puts their money where their mouth is.

What is Toner?

Toner creates homeostasis of your complexion by balancing ph levels. It works to reduce the appearance of your pores and removes residual impurities not removed by cleansers.

It is considered an essential element in your skin care regime and an absolute in skin care health.

Rose and Shine Refreshing Rose Water Toner Review

Rose and Shine Refreshing Rose Water Toner is made of 2 highly effective and 100% natural ingredients; Purified water and Rosa Damascena flower oil.

This toner is paraben free, sulfate free, gluten free, non-GMO, and it's 100% vegan.

This is not only an effective product, it is a product ideal for allergy sufferers, those with sensitive skin or other health conditions where toxins can negatively impact other major organs, vegans, vegetarians, and over-all pursuers of health and wellness and, well, beautiful skin!

It comes in an easy to use spritz bottle, which is sized for your hand, making it comfortable to hold. It's also only 2 floz, making it TSA friendly.

It smells AMAZING!!!! It felt like I was spraying a luscious rose on my face without leaving a weird or bad taste sitting in my mouth.

My skin felt oh-so-refreshed and clean! I looove my make-up, so sometimes even after using a cleanser I feel like my skin wasn’t as clean as it could be.

Note: I suffer with plaque psoriasis so it's best to leave NO foothold for breakouts or inflammatory responses on my face.

That said, when I used Rose and Shine my face felt the cleanest it had ever felt, the color of my complexion appeared balanced, and well I felt like I not only smelled fresh, but looked fresh with a feeling of glow!

And, yes, I am all about the glow!

When Should You Use Toner?

Use toner after cleansing and before moisturizing. As far as frequency is concerned, use it once in the morning and once at night.

How Does Rose Water Toner Work?

Rosa Damascenca flower oil is an essential oil made from the damask rose plant. The purified water is present to dilute the oil so that it does not cause irritation and is used safely in a 1:1 ratio mix.

The top 3 skin benefits of rosa damascenca essential oil found in the Rose and Shine Toner include:

  • Anti-inflammatory benefits: Helps with anti-aging, appearance of skin complexion, reduced redness.
  • Antimicrobial benefits: Assists with the cleansing on a micro bacterial level to prevent infection and fight acne.
  • Antioxident benefits: Supports anti-aging and skin health/appearance by destroying free radicals.

Free radicals promote injurious behavior to skin tissue, thereby creating those awful age lines and wrinkles…bring on the antioxidants folks!

TWO added bonuses that I MUST mention:

  • Aromatherapy benefits: Reduced anxiety and depression for an overall calm feeling and mental wellness.
  • Aphrodisiac benefits: Increases libido and makes you feel damn sexy!!!

OMG, now I understand my sensory experience of feeling balanced, clean, and GLOWING!!!

In summary, Fluer & Bee is a good company, great mission, non-toxic, cruelty-free, effectively makes you feel like a million bucks, and more importantly fulfills the purpose of toner in the most top notch of ways.

Get Rose and Shine for yourself and notice the difference in your skin!

Subscribe to A Girl’s Gotta Spa! beauty blog. Watch our reviews on YouTube, see our pins on Pinterest and check us out on Instagram.

Read more →

Woodloch Resort The Perfect Family Getaway

Shannon Smyth

This getaway was hosted by Woodloch Pines Resort in Hawley, PA.

View from the Edgewater Suite in Mountain Laurel at Woodloch Resort

The Pocono Mountains has many places where families can reconnect. Recently my family and I had the opportunity to travel 40 minutes north of our home here, to Woodloch Resort.

I've previously written about The Lodge at Woodloch, which is part of this massive resort, but I decided to forgo a spa day for some family wellness time.

Edgewater Suite at Mountain Laurel

Since there were 6 of us for this trip (missing 2 of our other boys), we stayed in the Edgewater Suite at Mountain Laurel. Our suite was on the ground floor with a gorgeous daily view of the lake.

I couldn't get good photos due to lighting, but I did take a brief video tour.

History of Woodloch Resort

The Woodloch Resort of today sits on over 1,800 acres, but when owners Harry and Mary Kiesendahl first opened their doors in 1958, Woodloch Pines existed on only 12 acres of shoreline with two cottages, a main lodge and no running water. What could host only 40 people, now welcomes over 100,000 guests through its doors every year. That's an amazing feat!

What was once small and cozy is now a four-season, family resort voted in the top 1% of hotels worldwide on TripAdvisor. The Woodloch family of properties also encompasses Woodloch Springs, recognized by Golf Magazine as one of the “finest courses in America,” and sister property, The Lodge at Woodloch: A Destination Spa, ranked among the top five spas in the world by Conde Nast Traveler and Travel + Leisure - and most importantly, a personal favorite of mine.

John Kiesendahl, son of owners Harry and Mary, is ever-present at the resort.

Family Fun in the Poconos

I'm very blessed to live in this wonderful area, and a staycation is just what we needed. If you have a large family, as I do, it can be difficult to find a vacation spot that can accomodate you and offer amenities that cater to everyone.

We found Woodloch Resort had something that each of us were excited to do.

My husband and I enjoyed the views here immensely. We live in the Poconos because trees and lakes are abundant, and being immersed in nature constantly, gives you such a feeling of peace. Woodloch did not disappoint with views on views on views of Lake Teedyuskung, the autumn leaves and blue skies.

The boys enjoyed time at the indoor pool, the kids indoor mini-waterpark, the outdoor kids pool, bumper cars, go karts, paddle boats, indoor playground, both indoor and outdoor basketball courts, the petting zoo and they enjoyed the 90's theme show and the comedy show after that.

Basketball courts at Woodloch Resort

Then there was the pontoon boat ride around Lake Teedyuskung, which was perfectly relaxing. I think it was the first time my boys sat in silence in a long time, just taking in the scenery.

Dining at Woodloch Resort

View of the lake from our dining table.

I absolutely love the dining plan that Woodloch offers when you stay here. We had the inclusive meal plan, which was 3 meals per day.

Dining here was an experience in and of itself. There were so many meals on the menu that we've never had, so my kids, husband and myself got to discover delicious new favorites.

At breakfast and dinner you select from various meals or the featured meal and dessert. The table is also given various breads, veggies and other sides to share. There is also a large salad on the table - a different kind each night.

Lunch one day was a cookout and the weather cooperated.

Lunch is a buffet that quite honestly, seemed endless. So many lunch options, so many desserts, SO much food!

The kids had no opportunity to pick up their phones as they were focused on eating. It was that good.

And the view? Everyone has a view of the lake from their seat as the entire wall is a multitude of windows.

On Saturday night, it was theme night, and the theme was the 90's. So they had a parade of 90's characters walk through the dining hall, the staff were dressed in neon colors and there were 90s posters everywhere.

Woodloch Resort Entertainment

After dinner we made our way to where they hold their broadway style shows, where it was a night of 90s 1-hit wonders, battle of the boy bands, and 90s sitcoms theme songs. We all had a blast laughing and singing along.

When that was done, a comedian took the stage - who was funny and appropriate for the whole family.

The night we arrived we went to the magic show. My older boys hemmed and hawed at first at the idea of it, but the magician was so good, they ultimately were mesmerized as we all tried to figure out how he was conducting various illusions.

Families Call Woodloch Home

Woodloch is a family owned and run business. You understand that the moment you arrive. Everyone feels like family and they treat you as such. It's warm, inviting and it makes you forget how vast this resort is, because it feels like home.

It's peaceful, relaxing, and so much fun. There is so much to do here, we'd literally need a week. We didn't even see and do everything here and we were all trying to plan how to return.

While on our adventures we overheard many families talking about their many return visits to the resort and it was plain to see why families choose to come back here year after year. My photos and blog post don't do it justice.

Family wellness through shared experiences creates memories you and your children won't forget. This time of togetherness is something that helps you reconnect and bond. As your children get older, that is something that can sometimes be difficult to do with so many distractions out there vying for their attention.

I'm so grateful that Woodloch will now be part of a memory of fun and time spent together for my family.

Subscribe to A Girl’s Gotta Spa! beauty blog. Watch our reviews on YouTube, see our pins on Pinterest and check us out on Instagram. Got a Kindle? We’re on Kindle too! Or check out our natural bath and body line!

Read more →

Arise Perfume in Emmy Awards Gift Bags

Shannon Smyth1 comment

On September 8th, 2019, the Motion Picture Editors Guild held their second annual brunch honoring 65 female Emmy Award nominees in post production categories from Foley artists to sound designers to picture editors.

Featured in this year's gift bag was Arise Rollerball Perfume from A Girl's Gotta Spa!

In its second year, this event has grown in the most wonderful ways, expanding to honor women across all picture and sound editing categories and showering those in attendance with fabulous gift bags filled with sumptuous Arise perfume from A Girl’s Gotta Spa and other items. For many, this is their first Emmy nomination, yet others have been working in their craft for decades. Hearing these magnificent, talented artists express never having experienced this level of recognition was not only moving but proof of how important and needed an event like those this truly is.”

– Katherine Griffin, Emmy Nominee, Outstanding Picture Editing For A Structured Reality Or Competition Program
Mary DeChambres, on the Board of Directors of the Motion Picture Editors Guild

I was really so honored to be able to be a part of this momentous event and honor these women. I couldn't think of a more perfect item to celebrate their accomplishments with, than Arise. We rise by lifting others.

Congratulations to the nominees and to the winners!

Read more →

A Girl's Gotta Spa! Now Available at Purple Aardvark

Shannon Smyth
Purple Aardvark now sells A Girl's Gotta Spa! rollerball perfumes in their cozy boutique in Chatham, New Jersey.

Read more →