Friday, July 25, 2014

Knotted Tees, Hotdogs and Smoothies

Photo cred to my lovely friend Julie 

This past Wednesday was a busy one. I watched it fly by between last-minute travel shopping, coffee shop dates, a book launch, and enjoying time spent with some of my most wonderful people. 

First stop was to celebrate National Hot Dog Day at Fancy Franks in the Kensington area, which my sister managed to scout out the day before. The hotdogs were free and all donations went to SickKids  Foundation. There was some awesome face painting, cotton candy, the very cool DJ Lynx and great staff to pull the little event together.  

See more on the Fancy Franks site, here.

 Nothing better than a fully loaded hot dog to start off a warm summers day out & about downtown.

Monday, July 21, 2014

My Watch Collection

One of my biggest challenges in life is being on time. I'm the type that likes to do as much as I can, regardless of how little time I actually have. It's an ongoing feat to leave just 5 minutes to spare as a buffer for unexpected events. 

Welcome, the watch. Despite how many times I've tried to trick myself in setting my watch 5 minutes ahead, it always registers and comes back to haunt me. I hate to say that I've even told myself "ohh I still have 5 minutes to get there" when I look at the clock on my phone. BAD CALL. 

Fortunately, I've taken "fashionably late" to a new level, ensuring that my timepieces are just as fashionable as my tardiness. I started the hunt for a menswear inspired watch around 4 years ago, when the androgynous vibe was going mainstream. Around two years ago I added a gold one to my repertoire, followed by a rose gold Skagen just a few months back. Read on to see how they compare.

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Best Lip Care Products

Today, I spill my bucket of kisses!

But for real, without these little gems I'd fear for the appearance of mes lèvres. I'm pretty low maintenance when it comes to lip care, but there are a few budget friendly options that I really can't live without. 

When it comes to exfoliation, I try to keep up a pretty consistent routine to avoid the chapped dryness. After my shower, I gently rub a towel across my lips in a circular motion. It gently brushes off any rough bits and leaves my lips looking nice and plump. I follow up with a light hydrating creme like Nivea or Aquaphor ointment. They key is moisturizing lips right after they have been hydrated and exfoliated with water and a light brushing, to truly lock in the moisture. See my favourites below for the times when a simple Chapstick just won't cut it.

e.l.f. Lip Exfoliator $3 at
This is the most convenient exfoliating product I've found to date. At $3, Eyes Lips Face makes a great sugary scrub to easily buff off dry skin. They say "infused with Vitamin E, Shea Butter, Avocado, Grape and Jojoba Oils to nourish and protect." Don't scrub too hard though! This is a pretty powerful little thing.

Nivea Creme $10 (depending on size) at all drugstores
A German made classic, Nivea has been a staple in my european household since birth. Just over 100 years old, Nivea Cream was the first water-in-oil emulsifier. In this product, both water and oil bind together in a stable white cream so you get long lasting hydration and conditioning. Eucerit is the "emulsifying agent" which is made from lanolin. Derived from sheep, Lanolin is one of the hottest chapped skin conditioners in nearly every expensive balm. But despite Nivea Creme's initial white appearance, this inexpensive miracle cream sinks in like a dream and truly works wonders as a deep, intense moisturizer for the entire body. 

Smith's Minted Rose Lip Balm $8 at Sephora, Bath and Body Works or American Apparel
Every evening, I apply a bit of Smith's Minted Rose Lip Balm before I hit the hay. Previously featured here, this yummy minty balm is a great unscented alternative to Aquaphor ointment. One pot lasts forever and works better than any other thick gloopy salve I've tried in the past. Big favourite.

Burts Bees, Chapstick brand, Blsitex and Palmer's Cocoa Butter Stick are all wonderful options to keep in your bag for on-the-go lip care. Although they work the best as a quick fix, I find that any severe dryness or irritation won't be cured with the swipe of a simple balm. 

I love that the e.l.f. scrub is in a convenient stick, and Nivea is safe to use all over the body. One tin of Smith's balm lasts forever and it's the perfect glitter-free consistency. 

A+ for all these unisex lip savers. What are your go-to's? 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Review: Farmaesthetics Facial To Go

A few months ago I placed my first order through Urban Outfitters after finding a trove of beauty and home goodies on their site. Some of the brands were familiar but hard to find gems, while others were completely new to me. I wasn't surprised to see some more sustainable, organic options like those from Farmaesthetics. I decided to try a sampler of their best-sellers all boxed together in a "Facial to Go" set, geared towards healing and purifying the complexion. These are the exact results I look for in products, so my expectations were high and hopeful.

To start off, the Herbal Cleanser was my "meh" product since it was a bit challenging to use (quite liquidy) but did work well as a light cleanse. I only use it in the morning since I prefer something a bit more heavy duty to go along with my Clarisonic in the evening. The scent is light and herbal, and the product itself works fine. You are definitely paying a premium for a pretty average cleanser, but the packaging (glass) is definitely a cut above.

I love a fresh witch hazel toner to balance my skin's pH right after I cleanse. Although the Pure Complexion Tonic does not come with a spray top, the pump allows me to either apply the toner with my hands or a cotton pad. This product has quite a strong rose fragrance, that won't be appealing to everyone. I much prefer something fresh and cucumber scented, for example, but I can deal with rose. 

My favourite part about this kit is the Rosehip & Clay Mint Mask, made into a cream using the Pure Complexion Tonic. This mask smells very earthy, when all the raw ingredients mix together. I can definitely handle the fragrance, but it isn't exactly spa-like. The most incredible part is definitely the addition of Rosehip and Mint, which completely change the texture and appearance of skin over time. Rosehip is repairing and brightening, while the mint is cooling and refreshing, working to diminish breakouts with the addition of oil-absorbing clay. I'd be cautious around broken skin and scabs if you have sensitive skin since this combination could cause irritation. 

Overall, I have been very satisfied with Farmaesthetics and would surely go back to their brand for a gorgeous gift idea. As for daily use, I can't justify the price since these concoctions are so simple (yet divine) that I could recreate the mask and tonic at home. For example, the Thayer's Rose Witch Hazel is a far cheaper alternative and works just as well at their toner. Also, I have pure clay and various oils/herbs to customize similar masks on my own. If this process seems like too much work for you, leave it to the pros and indulge, since Farmaesthetics is a remarkable brand with a wonderful story.

Check out more Farmaesthetics products on their site, linked here. The Rosehip & Clay Mint mask was also featured in a previous post which you can read here

Do you have any great "sustainable beauty" finds?

Monday, July 14, 2014

Shailene Woodley Inspired Makeup

I've had a thing for Shailene Woodley's effortless beauty ever since getting hooked on the show "The Secret Life of the American Teenager" way back in '08. Within the past few years, Shailene has made her way into the mainstream spotlight thanks to the über popular "Divergent" movie release. I couldn't help but notice this great picture in a LOULOU Magazine Article which completely reminded me of my favourite bold lip colour. I'm so lazy when it comes to lipsticks and rarely find myself wearing them, despite the fact that I have far too many to count. After flipping through the Magazine's recommendations, I decided to recreate the simple, polished makeup on myself. I love how fun, bright and simple it is, especially for this warm summer weather.

For the look I used Marcelle's Rouge Xpression lipstick in the shade Cleopatra. It pains me to say that this gorgeous magenta lip colour was limited edition quite some time ago, but Revlon's Berry Couture would be the perfect match to Shailene's colour. For a darker look, I'd go for MAC's (legendary) lipstick in Rebel. 

Here are the products I used to recreate Shailene's look:

1. Make Up For Ever HD loose powder (all over as primer)
2. Revlon Colorstay Whipped Makeup in 150 Buff
3. Nars Eyeshadow Base
4. L'Oreal Infallible Shadow in Sahara Treasure - lid and crease
5. CoverGirl (single shadow) in Champagne - inner corner and highlight
6. Black Kat Von D matte eyeshadow mixed with MAC Fix+ for liner
7. Diorshow Mascara
8. The Body Shop Brow & Liner Kit in 02 Brown/Brunette
9. Too Faced Chocolate Soleil Bronzer
10. Tarte Amazonian Clay Blush in Dollface
11. Benefit Boi-ing Concealer in 01
12. Marcelle Rouge Xpression in Cleopatra

I love stumbling across inspiring makeup photos, which I typically pin directly to my Makeup & Hair board on Pinterest, which you can scroll through here. I always find myself in beauty ruts so a little push in the magenta direction is much appreciated. Thanks, LOULOU! And Shaliene.


Friday, July 11, 2014

HowTo Curl Short Hair Using Cheap Foam Rollers

I have naturally pin-straight hair, which gets progressively flatter throughout the day. Humidity, for example, has the opposite effect on me. Instead of getting fluffier, my summer hair tends to resemble that of a wet dog. It's super cute, believe me. I've thankfully found an incredibly simple, under 10 minute solution to help avoid the dreaded flatness. Enter: dollar store sleep-in foam rollers. I use about 10, which cost maybe $3 in total, and they are entirely reusable. I also don't need to blow dry my hair or add any pre-styling product to keep the curl for up to 2 days. The only product required is some L'Oreal Elnett Hairspray  which I apply once the rollers are removed in the morning. Read on to see how I get this fool-proof, sleep-in style.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

HowTo Shave Sensitive Skin

About two years back I stopped shaving my legs consistently, mainly due to laziness. I didn't feel much of a need to in the winter, and I just couldn't be bothered in the warmer months since my hair is quite light. Instead, I would brave the pain with my epilator or visit my (incredible) aesthetician for a wax. Throughout that time, I began to develop more and more ingrowns and irritations (yikes). The need for constant exfoliation was a bit of a drag since nothing seemed to be working.

I decided to start shaving about every other day to see if it would combat both the re-growth ingrowns and lack of sufficient exfoliation. It has been about one month, and let me just say that the process has been rough. I have pretty sensitive skin and it has taken me just about the whole month to stop getting those dreadful cuts and painful razor burn. I've tried many types of shaving gel/cream, razors and methods, finally narrowing it down to these.

Products I use:


followed by



I don't have much experience with razors, but the Shick Hydro Silk works pretty well for me. This is a pricier option, but I replace the blades about once a month so a pack of replacements will last quite long.

Both my dad and sisters swear by The Body Shop's shaving products, especially their Root Relief After Shave. I have yet to try that product, but I've been impressed with the results after using their Maca Root Shave Cream for the past few weeks. This product definitely has a manly scent, which I really don't mind. It works just as well, if not better, than those annoying compressed gels and contains much more product. See the next product for a more feminine option. 

Monday, July 7, 2014

L'Occitane Creme Radieuse Hydra Vital Cream

L'Occitane is an amazing French skincare company, based out of Provence. Dating back to the 70s, the use of natural, high quality ingredients has been the backbone to all L'Occitane products. Extracts from flowers like Lavender, Immortelle, Angelica etc. are incorporated into their legendary soaps, lotions and fragrances which provide incredible benefits and intoxicating fragrances. 

I first featured L'Occitane's best-selling hand cream in my "Bedtime Essentials" post which you can see here. I am always so impressed by companies who not only produce quality goods, but also support worthwhile causes. The beautifully printed box from my cream states "L'Occitane and its Foundation are committed to supporting visually impaired people and encouraging the economic emancipation of women in Burkina Faso. For more information visit". Consequently, all of L'Occitane's packaging has brail incorporated to better serve the visually impaired. A few weeks back, I was approached to try their recently released Angelica Hydra Vital Cream, which is a new addition to the ever-so-popular line of products for younger skin.

The first thing you notice about this particular cream, aside from the exquisite packaging, is its very strong floral fragrance. It's hard not to think that an entire bottle of perfume was stirred into this frosty green pot, since the Angelica flower is so incredibly pungent. That being said, this is mostly a natural fragrance, therefore it won't hang on to your skin throughout the day like a synthetic fragrance would. My only complaint about the packaging is that the glass jar is quite heavy, and isn't suited for travel. An easy solution would be to scoop a bit of product into a smaller travel container and leave the jar at home, since it is such a bright and beautiful addition to any washroom or vanity.

The cream itself is non comedogenic, meaning it will smooth on without clogging pores. Here is what the product description says: "The Hydra Vital Cream helps to enhance the skin’s ability of self-hydration throughout the day, helping to revitalize and protect it against external aggressions. This cream provides 48 hours of hydration, making the skin seem more comfortable, radiant and protected against external aggressions." - L'Occitane site. You really only need the smallest bit of product to cover the entire face and neck since it is so lightweight. At $48 per 50 ml jar, I could see it lasting at least one year if used daily. 

I'm the type that is so sensitive to scents that I can't see myself repurchasing such a strongly fragranced product time after time, since I would easily get tired of it. For a fancy gift, special occasion pamper product, or a daily moisturizer for those enamoured by the Angelica fragrance, I would completely recommend. For the time being, this cream is perfectly fitting for an extra boost of brightness and moisture every few days. Plus, The pretty glass container is a total perk that I'll be sure to reuse. How cute would it be as a bud vase?

See L'Occitane's "about" page here for more information on the company and their initiatives.

This product was sent to me for optional review without compensation.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Dove's Oxygen Moisture Line

Dove, you've done it again. First comes my favourite deodorant, now my go-to haircare line. 
Earlier this year, Dove released two comprehensive lines of shampoos and styling products. "Oxygen Moisture" is targeted for those craving volume and bounce, and "Pure Care Dry Oil" for weightless moisture and frizz control. After reading countless reviews and trying the Oxygen Moisture line myself, I have lots to share.

There's nothing worse than feeling product weighing down your hair as the day progresses. In my case, both my skin and hair tends to develop a natural sheen that goes a bit beyond "dewy" or "shimmery" especially in this blazing summer heat. Within 12 hours of washing my hair, if I don't apply some kind of styling product, my hair begins to feel heavy and greasy. After trying countless mousses, sprays, texture creams, etc, I've come to the conclusion that, although I need something to add a bit of volume, less is definitely more. After trying Oxygen Moisture, I can't see myself buying many more products at all. 

The shampoo and conditioner in this line smell especially fresh. The bright blue and white packaging is pretty great also, except I'd prefer if the shampoo bottle could stand upside down like the conditioner. Regardless, they do what they claim, leaving my hair feeling clean and fresh. I do notice a bit of that squeaky clean, slightly stripped texture with this shampoo, but nothing extreme like with Neutrogena's Anti-Residue clarifying shampoo. 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

HowTo Moisturize With Oil

Every pore on our body releases oil as our natural defense against the elements. We are able to remove that oil with the use of sulfate based soaps, aka most most foaming shampoos and cleansers. If the oil is not replenished, on normal or dry skin, the cells will usually stay dry and flake off to reveal new, more moisturized cells. On combination-oily skin, the follicles will overproduce oil, causing a shiny/greasy appearance. If dead skin cells, makeup, and dirt are present on the skin's surface, this excess oil can get trapped in the pores, causing blemishes. In this post I will outline various oils that can be used all over the body to combat over-production of oil and balance out the skin's natural oil barrier.

Note: Comedogenicity refers to the oil's likelihood to "clog pores" therefore inhibiting the pores from releasing their own oils. If you have dry skin, which wouldn't produce much oil on its own, you could use moderately comedogenic oil and not have to worry about breakouts.

Argan - Non Comedogenic (not pictured)
This oil was made wildly popular by Josie Maran, who sells her bottle of argan oil for $60. The hype around this oil played a huge role in the resurrection of my damaged skin, after wrongly using a plethora of harsh, drying chemicals to try and cure some moderate acne. I've never actually purchased her oil, seeing as how the exact same (cold pressed) product can be found at Rexall Pharma Plus or any nutrition store for under $20. Unless your skin is quite dry, I wouldn't recommend using this oil as a daytime moisturizer since it could leave quite the shine, and inhibit makeup from staying put. At nighttime rather, just a few drops of argan massaged thinly over the skin feels absolutely incredible, reduces inflammation, redness, dry patches and more. Most oils are packaged in glass, but some are specifically bottled in amber coloured glass to block out the harsh UV rays which turn some oil rancid. Be wary of this when rebottling oils into something like plastic, since most should be kept in their original packaging.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Review: Clarisonic Mia And A Cheaper Alternative

I first got my Clarisonic Mia nearly 3 years ago, and have loved it ever since. I use it every night with the sensitive brush head and it cleans my face better than anything else I've tried. The brush does all the work, you just need to add a drop of cleanser and move it around in small circular motions. Clarisonic skin brushes and Sonicare tooth brushes were developed by the same people, with the same incredible technology. Instead of telling everyone to invest in a Clarisonic, I recently tried the Olay Pro-X Microdermabrasion system, which is a third of the price, to see if it is comparable. Here are my thoughts on both products.

What is the Clarisonic cleansing brush and why use it?
This is a fully waterproof electronic skin cleansing brush. The very fine plastic bristles "oscillate" back and forth very quickly, removing "up to six times more makeup than cleansing with hands alone" - Clarisonic site. This face washing device gently exfoliates dead skin cells, allows your skincare to absorb better, and leaves a very smooth feel. Also, the battery life on the Clarisonic Mia is INCREDIBLE. I barely charge it. Both the Clarisonic and Sonicare charge via a magnetic cord or base to ensure their waterproofness.

How often should it be used?
Although the company says you can use the device twice per day, I would strongly recommend only using it once. Over-exfoliation can cause more harm than good, resulting in wrinkles, dryness and thinning skin. If you crave more sloughing action and a brighter appearance, opt for something like an enzyme exfoliating peel, AHA acid, or BHA acid. These will all exfoliate the skin on a chemical level, which requires no scrubbing. For more information on this topic, check out Renee Rouleau's post here.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

An Afternoon Of Shopping

A few weeks ago I spent an afternoon downtown with Elena, one of my beautiful besties. We first stopped off at the Jessica Jensen sample sale, hosted at Toronto's Soho House. Jessica is a Canadian handbag designer whom I've been following on Instagram for a while now. Although I couldn't snap any photos of the event, here is a quick look at the gorgeous venue.

I decided to wear one of my absolute favourite shirts which was featured here in my springtime haul. This cute french print button-down is J.Crew, skirt is H&M, bag is Banana Republic and my shoes were some little leather driving moccasins from Aldo in a similar shade of tan as my bag.

I ended up finding a few cute gifts at the sale, and scooped up a gorgeous Saffiano leather wallet for myself. It's the Lauren wallet, in a bright coral shade which you can see pictures of here. Jessica designs all of her pieces with precision and detail, only using the finest materials and hardware. All of the items were up to 80% off, which made them absolute steals. 

Melanie Cruickshank, the lovely lady behind eco-friendly DaLish cosmetics, was also at the sample sale. I picked up one of her lip and cheek balms in a pretty pinky orange shade, which is actually quite similar to my wallet colour. I've been testing it out for the past two weeks and will definitely do a review since I love trying new multitaskers.

We finished up the day munching on some bruschetta with a side of white wine sangria at Joe Badali's Restaurant on Front St. The little kick of passionfruit and some tasty tomatoes outside on the comfy patio was just perfect. 

Enjoy the sunshine!
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