05/03/17 4:14pm

The Brooklyn Derby at Greenwood Park has become the borough’s biggest Derby Day fete. Photo: Steve McFarland Photography

Happy May! The sun is out, flowers are blooming, birds are chirping, and those of us with seasonal allergies are sneezing through it, just happy to be part of this awesome season of rebirth and renewal. I am headed upstate this weekend with a group a friends for a birthday extravaganza, and I must say that although I am really excited for a spring getaway, I’m a little bummed that I won’t be around to watch the Kentucky Derby at one of several fun parties happening around Brooklyn on Saturday afternoon.

As in years past, the Brooklyn Derby, which seems the fanciest option, will draw bluegrass bands and hundreds of be-seersuckered and be-fascinatored revelers to Greenwood Park from 4pm on to cheer on the horses. The $95 ticket price covers four-hours of open bar (including mint juleps, natch), a variety of Southern snacks, live music, a hat-making station and more. Another alternative is the Derby Party at Sunny’s Bar in Red Hook, which costs $80 but includes food, drinks, a bluegrass jam, contests, and prizes, and has the added edge of being a fundraiser to help the beloved bar meet is goal of raising $65K by mid-summer in order to stay in business. Of course, if you’re not looking to break the bank on a several-minute long horse race, you can head to Northern Territory, which is hosting a free party with pay-as-you-go drinks and prizes for best Derby attire, from 3-7pm.

Not into the Derby at all? The Wythe Hotel is hosting the sixth annual Greenpoint Film Festival, which is a series of panels and screenings of carefully selected shorts and feature-length films taking place Thursday through Sunday, and there are still tickets available. Read on for more ideas about what to do with yourself for the next seven days, and enjoy the sunny Ideal Week ahead. (more…)

Brooklyn Based delivers free daily emails about the borough's best food, events, attractions and innovators. Get Brooklyn Based in your inbox--sign up here.

03/24/15 7:58am
Soapwalla's Rachel Winard is just one of Brooklyn's skincare artisans, who believe beauty comes from all-natural, ethically produced, wholesome products. Photo: Phoenix Botanicals/Soapwalla

Soapwalla’s Rachel Winard is just one of Brooklyn’s skincare artisans, who believe beauty comes from all-natural, ethically produced, wholesome products. Photo: Phoenix Botanicals/Soapwalla

Even if there are a few stubborn patches of snow left, the weather will warm up in New York eventually, and this week’s balmy 50-degree forecast serves as a reminder that soon we will be shedding our sweaters and down coats for less layers— exposing our pasty, damaged, sun-starved skin in the process. Wintertime is brutal on our beauty regimens: bitter cold + radiator heat = SOS signals, but you still have a few weeks to give your body a top-to-bottom tune up—the kind that will make you feel like you just returned from the beaches of Bali, rather than just emerging out of a stifling hibernation hole.

Brooklyn is known for being at the forefront of the maker movement, and that is true even with skincare. Many local lines were started from a personal need for gentler and more humane products, as was the case for Rachel Winard, founder Soapwalla, who has systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). “Soapwalla was born one late night in my apartment kitchen, after months of unsuccessfully hunting for face and body products that wouldn’t aggravate my skin,” she says. Fellow Brooklyn skincare lines share similar origin stories: S.W. Basics was launched by Adina Grigore, who has sensitive skin, because she wanted something uncomplicated (“a skincare hybrid of homemade bread and a green juice”). All her products have less than five ingredients in them, with names you can actually pronounce. And Clara Williams started the brand skinnyskinny more then a decade ago, when she “couldn’t find products that actually worked” that didn’t include harsh ingredients. “People have the idea that gentle is lightweight, but it’s not,” she says. “It just means it’s doing its job the right way.”

So prolific is Brooklyn’s homegrown skincare industry at this point that secondary industries have now cropped up to support it. Twisted Lily is a modern-day apothecary in Boerum Hill, created by Stamatis Birsimijoglou and Eric Weiser, simply to sell these local products, and Emma Graves and Molly Watman founded the Brooklyn Herborium, a holistic spa located in Columbia Waterfront in 2013. In addition to offering services, the spa also sells their botanically based line Between You and The Moon, which Graves formulated in 2008 as a response to the unhealthy products she found when she was pregnant.

Given the abundance of choices, a starting place for your skin spring clean may prove difficult to pinpoint. S.W. Basics’ Adina Grigore offers this advice: “Changes in season can be really hard on the body and skin in general. You’ll be itchy, flaky, dry, and just more symptomatic. The best way to get through this is with extra love: baths, masks, exfoliants, rich moisturizers. You’re supporting your skin through the transition and helping to speed it up a bit.” To help you get started, we’ve sorted out a strategy to beat the winter blues away. Here are some Brooklyn centered beauty suggestions that won’t cost your whole paycheck and what you’ll want to do with them when you get them home. (more…)