Last year was life changing for me. Yes, I gave birth to a baby but that’s actually not what I’m referring to. After four years of deliberating and endless research, I finally mustered up the guts to finally go through with eyebrow microblading. I can completely understand if most of you are thinking that I am being dramatic saying that microblading was a life changing experience, but those of you judging me are also probably those who have yet to do it. That being said, I know there were so many of you out there that were curious and want all the ‘tea’ from my experience based on the hundreds of DM’s I have received since having them done.
The reason why people have so much apprehension about the procedure is because it’s semi permanent. I asked myself a thousand times, “What if shit goes wrong and I don’t like it?” because I will have to look at myself everyday and cringe. On the flip side, I also asked myself, “Wouldn’t it be nice to have the confidence to walk out of the house without make-up on?” I was on the fence until I had Maxwell and right after I gave birth I felt like I needed a little pick-me-up. Plastic surgery, botox and fillers aren’t my thing, so microblading was the next best thing!
I put my trust in Nicole from BrowsxBianca. When we chatted over the phone, she explained the process and most importantly informed me that she only creates a shape that is in line with the natural flow of her client’s brows. Well, this put me a bit at ease knowing that I wouldn’t end up with eyebrows that are an entire inch higher than they should be. Also, Nicole had bladed a friend of mine last year and her brows turned out great, so that also built up my confidence. However, this particular friend of mine does not have dark skin like I do. I know all the black women out there are thinking the exact same thing right now. Yes, I thought about whether Nicole could handle working with black skin tones since she is in fact not black. We spent a considerable amount of time discussing the ink colour she would use during my consultation to make sure I was completely comfortable. I also should note, this girl knows a thing or two about lines with a background in architecture and takes the design of brows as serious as she took design work when she was working for a Toronto architecture firm.
Once we were good to go, a numbing cream was applied to my brows for about twenty minutes. This is a very crucial part to the entire process as you can imagine because this is far from painless folks. As the numbing agent did it’s thing on my face, she took that time to use a stencil to create the shape for my new brow. I can’t lie, this was a bit jarring because it’s a dramatization of what the final product would look like. Nicole reassured me she was only going to be filling in within the stencilled lines but when it’s your first time, it’s super hard to envision the end result.
Once you get into it, an actual blade is being used to make micro incisions into your brow line so ink can be placed on top. Hence the name microblading. Nicole bladed each brow three times and the numbing cream was applied before each pass. By the time the third pass came around, I literally felt nothing, thank GOD! Asking me to rate the pain just after having a baby probably isn’t fair because NOTHING trumps the pain of pushing a human out of your body, but if I had to, I would say it is a 6 out of 10. I think the sound of blade against my skin was more irritating than the actual blade itself.
After an hour and a half of not breathing much due to anxiety and impatience, I was finished and was given the mirror to see the final result. Mind f*cking blown. My brows looked effing amazing and immediately transformed my face. When I was shown the before and after I actually almost passed out. How the hell could I have been walking around Toronto with my brows looking the way they did? (I mean, did you see the dramatic before and after pic above – yikes!) And where were my “so-called” friends pre-microblading to tell me to do something about my sad excuse for eyebrows? The funniest thing is, all this time I was going through life just thinking everyone had better brows than I did but as soon as I posted on IG stories I was having them done, more women than I could count messaged to say they had done it too and it was the best thing they have ever done. Like thaaaaaanks tips! Better late than never I guess, right?!
The healing process takes about 7-10 days in which my brows started to dry out and get a bit crusty. Seriously, it wasn’t a big deal at all and if that was the only side effect to getting the best brows of my life, I will take it any day. While you heal you have to stay away from facials, exfoliating, tanning and most importantly excessive sweating. The latter is a hard thing for people who work out frequently and this is why I chose to do it shortly after I had Maxie because I was not working out yet. During this time they also appear much darker than they will be in the end. I know a few of you tried to call me out saying the colour looked too aggressive at first but now that the ink has settled, the colour is no different than my natural hair colour and it truly just looks like I was blessed with naturally good brows. I was given a balm from Nicole to rub over them a couple times a day until they healed, which worked wonders and six weeks later I went in for my touch-up. Everyone MUST have a touch-up within 4-6 weeks after the initial appointment and it’s included in her price. This is just so anything missed during the first appointment can be sorted and cleaned up. I am so thrilled with the result and the best part is, I can say bye to drawing in my brows every morning and don’t have to worry about these bad boys for TWO whole years until it’s time for another touch-up.
Thank you Nicole for helping me get my whole entire life with my new brows. I am super psyched to be able to leave my house make-up free and with confidence may I add, without scaring people on the street. Good brows are a game changer people. For more information or to book an appointment, check out BrowsByBianca.com and if you have any specific questions for me, don’t hesitate to leave them in the comment section below!
Once we have passed our twenties, we usually start to take skincare a little more serious. Then something interesting happens once we have past the hump of our early thirties and have settled into that mid range of the next decade, like yours truly. A slight panic, if you will, wondering if there is something more we could have done earlier on to preserve our once youthful looking skin. If this sounds like you – you’re going to want to continue reading!
Earlier this spring while I was still pregnant, I discovered Canadian beauty brand Lise Watier was set to release a revolutionary line of anti-aging correctors that use cosmetic drones to target problem areas. Drone technology doesn’t sound like something that would be related to skincare in the least but I discovered that these “drones” in the Perfexion line are simply more of a vanguard delivery system for active ingredients. So basically, the products seek out your skin’s problem areas and then releases their active ingredients precisely where you need it; correcting your skin by reducing the appearance of wrinkles, pore size and wretched fine lines, while also bringing back your skin’s natural radiance that may seem to have faded over the years.
So what are my thoughts on skincare’s latest topical technology? To be completely honest, I may not have seen much improvement with the eye cream (perhaps I wasn’t patient enough), but I quickly became obsessed with the serum, day and night cream corrector after using them for only two weeks. I would apply the powerful serum twice daily that contains caviar lime extract, a gentle AHA that improves cell renewal and sea buckthorn, a natural anti-oxidant that nourishes the skin, immediately after cleansing. I would then follow with either the day or night cream. Why the super fast results? Ingredients like Kakadu Plum Extract; the world’s richest source of Vitamin C said to boost your skin’s natural luminosity and p-Refinyl®; a lentil extract to tighten pores and refine skin texture, are the keys to a more even and smoother skin texture. I was skeptical at first but not only has my pore size reduced but the dark marks I’ve had for ages on my left cheek from picking blemishes has faded significantly over the last six weeks. A beauty blogger I am clearly not, or else I would have had sufficient “before and after” photo documentation to prove my claims, but believe me when I say I have become more confident with the way my skin looks sans makeup and concealer. Suffice to say, these products will remain as mainstays in my beauty regimen moving forward.
The Perfexion line is available now online and at Lise Watier counters across Canada
The end of my pregnancy is just around the corner and I have managed to somehow not let Baby Bean get in the way of my regular workout schedule these last two trimesters. Squeezing training sessions in between meetings is just a small sacrifice I have to pay right now to ensure I’m strong for my labour and to help my body quickly recover back to pre-baby shape. If you’ve ever seen me running around the city with my gym bag in tow, you’ve probably wondered what the heck I am carrying in it as sometimes rivals the size of small carry-on luggage. I like to have extra bras and a pair of tights on hand as a back up just in case because my body is changing and growing week by week. Also, I can’t leave home without a few accessories that I like to incorporate into my workouts (skipping rope, gliders for body weight lunges, resistance bands, Apple watch and of course the prettiest water bottle to encourage me to hydrate. But most importantly, having to leave the gym to carry on a work day filled with meetings and photo shoots means I must have my bag packed with a few beauty and skincare essentials to keep me feeling and smelling fresh for the rest of the day.
In case you were wondering, yes I am still on my botanical beauty kick, still loving Yves Rocher products and that doesn’t seem to be changing any time soon. I’m doing whatever I can to use as many natural and organic products on my skin that’s proven to be good for both me and the Bean. I have a few go-to products I have become obsessed with slathering onto my body and hair post shower at Equinox.
Summer Collection Perfumed Hair Mist – There’s nothing more worse than sweaty, stinky hair post workout and not having the time to do something to it before leaving the gym. On low impact training days when my hair isn’t left soaking from sweat, I like spraying this new hair mist from Yves Rocher that smells like my favourite season of the year in a bottle.
Monoi De Tahiti Dry Body Oil – This is THE perfect product for moderate to dry skin and it works well all year round. The oil is moisturizing, even for the most driest of skin during the winter but it’s light enough to not feel heavy or clog your pores during the warmer months because it’s applied as a light misting spray. The entire Monoï de Tahiti line smells like a tropical paradise and is the perfect accompaniment to the Monoï Eau de Toilette; also one of my personal faves.
Riche Crème Beauty Elixir from 100% Botanical Origins – This gem (shown below) is actually intended for the fact but my pro tip is to use it on my elbows, knees, and the back of my heels – all the areas on my body that require a little extra ‘TLC’. I’ve recently nicknamed the oil as my “Unicorn Elixir” because this magical product packs a unique combination of 30 precious oils that can cure even the toughest and driest skin surfaces.
Eau de Vahinés Eau de Toilette – These days I will admit, I would much prefer to be heading to a beach escape instead of going to meetings but such is life. After applying my Monoi de Tahiti Dry Body Oil, I love spraying this Eau de Toilette on for it’s long lasting tropical scent that thankfully stays put all day long.
Bourbon Vanilla Scented Shower Gel – Throughout my pregnancy my skin has been extremely dry and by dry, I mean it’s as if the baby has sucked out every ounce of moisture I have in my body. I drink plenty of water but still love to have a hydrating body wash to help with the dryness. Since I have returned from Paris I’ve religiously kept my Bourbon Vanilla shower gel in my bag. The new series of shower gels come in a compact size and have an über concentrated formula that is not only preservative and paraben free, but its also pH balanced for the skin with enough to last 40 showers. Also, proving it’s bio friendly, surprisingly 97% of it’s ingredients come from a natural original and 50% less plastic is used in it’s bottles.
Relaxing Eau de Toilette (Orange Blossom Lavender Petitgrain Scent) – With the summer heat finally starting, I have been prolonging my post shower fresh feeling after the gym on super hot days by spritzing this heavenly smelling Relaxing Eau de Toilette. The soothing fragrance from the orange blossom, the aromatic notes from the lavender and the calming accents from the petitgrain essential oils help with relaxation. Once I discovered the relaxation benefits, I started to also spray a bit on myself right before bed. Unlike most Eau de Toilette’s, 96% of the ingredients in this one comes from a natural origin, and even the alcohol content has a botanical background.
Lipid Replenishing Lotion – I cannot leave the house without having a moisturizer for my hands. While my dry oil and botanical elixir is great for keeping my skin moisturized, throughout the day my hands need a little more attention. The oat extract in this lotion instantly softens the skin on my hands that have become a bit rough and calloused from lifting weights in the gym. Although the Lipid Replenishing Lotion is a body lotion, I always keep this one and a travel size in my purse because it works so well as a hand cream. It also gets bonus points for being mineral oil, paraben and colorant free.
This post was sponsored by Yves Rocher Canada, however all opinions on the products in this post are my own
May was a very busy but special month. After celebrating my last childless birthday on the 5th, I jetted across the pond to France for a week to get immersed in the world of Yves Rocher, a brand I have fallen quite fond of over the last year or so. I have been a long time fan of French skincare because seriously they seem to know a thing or two about good quality but I guess you can say my level of interest in this particular brand was extra high the moment I realized the amazing botanical science behind their products.
My journey with Yves Rocher began quite differently than a lot of other brand experiences I have had to date and I mean that in the most refreshing way. Sure, our initial meeting last summer consisted of some brand education and why I would be a good fit as a partner, however there was absolutely no hard sell. I was simply encouraged to take my time getting to know their products, specifically their best sellers, over the course of a few months and that “We would go from there…” Well to me, this meant one thing – Yves Rocher was so confident in their brand, that they knew I would be on board once they gave me the chance to get properly acquainted with their products. And they were 100% right! Offering extensive product lines across all skincare and beauty categories, I took my time initialling honing in on facial and body care and the results have been amazing because I am experiencing my best skin yet. But this you may have already known if you read my post on my Yves Rocher Botanical Skincare Routine in April.
A LITTLE HISTORY ABOUT YVES ROCHER
So there are several things that makes Yves Rocher very different than its competitors, which has made them immensely successful in France and throughout Europe since their launch 50 years ago. A pioneer in natural skincare and beauty, Mr. Yves Rocher founded the company with the belief that nature will be their guide in producing its products, which are made from plants and approximately 250 natural ingredients locally harvested. To this day, it has been the key to their success.
To have discovered the properties of plants is not our greatest achievement but to have made them available to all women is our greatest pride. As the only brand in the beauty industry to have chosen to control all the aspects of our activity, we are able to reduce our impact on the environment at every stage in the life cycle of our products” – Yves Rocher
If you can imagine back in 1967, the idea of a man launching a skincare and beauty brand without the use of any chemicals, targeted to women and marketed using his name, sounded ludicrous and nobody believed it would work. However, Rocher did not let this stop him. In fact, it motivated him and pushed him and pushed him to get the wheels in motion.
The only way to ensure Yves Rocher’s vision was executed properly meant that from the very beginning he insisted on controlling every step of the production cycle to guarantee safety and quality, providing his clients with products free of chemicals, colorants, and parabens.
EXPERIENCING THE BRAND LIVE IN PARIS
My press trip to France began with a tour of the Yves Rocher Headquarters in Paris to see how the products are made in their state-of-the-art laboratories and to get a deep dive in the company’s rich and rooted history.
Yves Rocher France Headquarters
Rocher Groupe Labratory
Yves Rocher Body & Shower Laboratory
Colour Pigments for Make-Up
Yves Rocher Key Ingredients
Yves Rocher Key Ingredients
Housed in one of the most modern buildings I saw in a city so full of rich and old architecture, there were several labs dispersed on one large floor responsible for each of the brand’s categories; skincare, cosmetics, body care, hair care, bath & shower and fragrances. It was refreshing to see it is run predominantly by young women. Somewhere within the building’s labyrinth was a small room dedicated the the brand’s olfactory family and fragrances. Bottles upon bottles of fragrance notes meticulously displayed in beautiful glass bottles and sleek refrigerators that housed samples of each scent the brand has made categorized per year. While learning about Yves Rocher’s past and present was vital, I was very intrigued to learn more about the direction of the where the brand is heading. As the originator of botanical beauty, how do they stay ahead of the curve in an industry where so many brands are vying for a piece of the “natural and organic beauty” pie, so to speak?
Yves Rocher Fragrance Lab
Yves Rocher Olfactory Family
Yves Rocher Fragrance Lab
I chatted extensively with Christine Delfaut, the brand’s Communications Director, to learn more about the brand’s exciting upcoming product releases for the rest of 2017/2018. While most of the innovations that were shared are still under embargo so I can’t share (sorry guys!) however Christine did allow me to take home their newly formulated, long lasting, ultra matte red lipstick to test out which won’t be coming out until much later in 2017. Having had issues finding the perfect “red” for years, I can say my hunt is now officially over. Without any of the harsh chemicals that usually dry out my lips, this deep red at first goes on with a slight satin finish but after a few seconds it becomes definitively matte and lasts all day.
They have also just launched a range of concentrated shower gels that lasts for 40 showers (shown above front and center) in Mango & Coriander, Olive Petitgrain, and Bourbon Vanilla which is my personal fave. With 4x’s the amount of product, 50% less plastic and greenhouse gases than in their 400ml bottles these heavenly smelling shower gels cost only $8 – not to mention, no parabens or preservatives and with 97% of the ingredients having a natural origin. With every bottle purchased, the Yves Rocher Foundation plants one tree in the community. Just in time for summer, a newly formulated Solaire Peau Parfaite sunscreen without harmful chemicals, The Chic & Bohemian Collection with a cornflower based body wash, eau de toilette and perfumed hair mist that smells heavenly and more.
LOW COST, HIGH QUALITY: HOW DO THEY DO IT?
English (CAN) quality products usually come with a hefty price tag. Sure, at a certain price point you can expect to see brands use aesthetically beautiful packaging, usually employing the help of actresses and celebrity spokespeople to sell their products which can be found perfectly curated in department store kiosks and shop-in-shops. All these bells and whistles that go into the marketing of competitors products come with a high cost, which is ultimately absorbed by the end consumer – YOU!
Yves Rocher’s competitively priced product ranges are only possible because their products aren’t sold in luxury and contemporary department stores but rather in their own stand-alone retail shops and of course online, allowing them to offer prices significantly lower than other brands. However this could be the reason why the brand awareness isn’t as high in North America as it is in Europe. I am fascinated by this idea, so a visit to Yves Rocher’s concept store on Boulevard Haussmann was a no brainer.
CONCEPT STORE VISIT
Nestled in what appeared to be a bustling and busy district, is a three-storey temple of beauty, where you can receive skin diagnosis at the ground level Botanical Beauty Bar, shop the brand’s extensive beauty line and range of honey, jams and sweet treats, indulge in cold pressed juices developed exclusively for Yves Rocher in their in-house juice bar, or receive personalized face and body treatments in one of the seven private cabins within the Beauty Spa.
Yves Rocher Boulevard Haussmann
Yves Rocher Concept Store
Yves Rocher Concept Store
Yves Rocher Concept Store
Yves Rocher Cold Pressed Juices
Yves Rocher Cold Pressed Juices
Yves Rocher Jams & Honey
Being inside the Boul Haussmann location made me immediately calm and gave me a sense that I was amongst nature thanks to the green and ecological decor botanical concept walls created by Botanist and inventor Patrick Blanc. I promise you, the photos don’t do it any justice, its beauty is much more spectacular in person. I took my time going through the multi-floor flagship, with extra time spent checking out the products not yet available in Canada and cruising the beautifully merchandised fragrance section on the second floor where I was taken on an olfactory journey through the important notes that make up the company’s best selling fragrances – mine currently being the sensual and refined freshness of their Neroli Eau de Parfum.
Botanical Wall inside the concept store
Yves Rocher Concept Store
Yves Rocher Concept Store
Yves Rocher Concept Store
Yves Rocher Concept Store
VISIT TO LA GACILLY
But my trip wouldn’t be complete without taking a trip to La Gacilly, in France’s Bretagne (pronounced Brittany for us Anglo folks) region which is happens to be the birth place of both Mr. Yves Rocher and his namesake heritage brand. A beautiful and quaint village just a three hour train ride from the Paris city centre made up of cobblestone streets, small stone houses, local boutiques and La Grée des Landes, the Yves Rocher Eco-Hotel Spa and Hotel that you may remember seeing on my Instagram and IG stories.
La Gacilly, Fracnce
La Gacilly, France
La Gacilly, France
La Gacilly, France
La Gacilly, France
La Gacilly, France
Centrally located in the town, is the childhood home of Rocher, fondly referred to as No. 2 Rue St.-Vincent, where in his early twenties, he turned the home’s attic into a make-shift manufacturing facility for their very first plant based product. A visionary of sorts and a man with thinking far beyond his years, Yves Rocher was the first to introduce the “mail-to-order” concept as a way to sell his products to customers all over France.
Below are some shots we captured from inside Rocher’s first home where he used the attic to produce his first product and also acted as the office where he fulfilled his mail-orders from customers…
Yves Rocher’s first office in the attic of his childhood home
Rocher Home Office
Yves Rocher’s First Product Production
As he watched the company grow exponentially, he began to conjure up the idea for La Grée des Landes, a truly Eco-friendly establishment built without causing any harm to the environment that feeds guests using only locally sourced products and ingredients from their land. Essentially creating a gastronomy experience of multi-course meals prepared by Gilles Le Gallès, Chef at the hotel’s restaurant, that would legit blow your mind. There was no doubting the freshness and quality of our meals. As we enjoyed breakfast in the mornings, we often saw the kitchen staff in the garden pulling out herbs and vegetables that were going to be used in the preparation of our lunch and dinner later that day. Not once did we look at a menu. Chef prearranged each meal based on what is in season and would make a good compliment to the ingredients grown on the grounds of the property.
La Gree des Landes; La Gacilly
La Gree des Landes; La Gacilly
La Gree des Landes; La Gacilly
La Gree des Landes Guest Tree House
La Gree des Landes Guest Tree House
La Gree des Landes Guest Room
La Gree des Landes; La Gacilly
La Gree des Landes; La Gacilly
La Gree des Landes; La Gacilly
While many hotel properties believe integrating the word “spa” into their property name means they understand the concept of wellness, most really don’t have the faintest clue as to what that actually entails. Whereas this little slice of heaven, which made sure to include all four elements of nature to ensure a harmonious balance on their grounds, anticipates guests needs before they can even think of it and offers activities and services to help you find your optimal mental and physical wellness with yoga/meditation classes, hiking, underwater workouts (AQUATraining & AQUACycling) plus restorative and relaxation services offered in the hotel’s spa.
I have always used a variety of products from different brands on my skin and to be honest, I will probably continue doing so but Yves Rocher products currently make up the majority of my skincare regimen right now. Taking care of my skin has become a huge priority in my thirties and I’ve seen some dramatic improvements since I have started using Yves Rocher products. I fell in love with the new “Pure Calmille” line while in France and was lucky enough to bring it back home with me prior to its launch in Canada (available here in September 2017!). After pre-cleaning with wipes, I have been using the Pure Calmille Cleansing Gel mixed with the Scrub to Mix Gommage exfoliant, the Pure Calmille 2 in 1 Cleanser & Toner and the Pure Calmille Moisturizing Cream. For body care, I have become OBSESSED with the Monoï de Tahiti products that literally smell like tropical paradise in a bottle – using the Lagoon Body Wash, Dry Body Oil and finishing off with the Eau des Vahinés Eau de Toilette.
Overall my trip to France has a success! I got a chance to really get to know the brand and even got to indulge in spa treatments using Yves Rocher professional products. The best part is that all the products I was introduced to are safe during pregnancy. With affordable price points and products for all different ages and skin types, Yves Rocher has successfully made their brand accessible to everyone.
When you become pregnant, the first thing you realize is almost every product you were using prior to conceiving has a warning label on the packaging that states, “Consult a physician if you are pregnant or breastfeeding“. This came as a huge shock to me. I like to consider myself to be relatively healthy, sticking to the better alternatives when it comes to what I put in my mouth and on skin, however I’ve been forced to take a deep dive into the skincare products I was using and had to essentially push 80% of the products in my old routine towards the back of my bathroom cabinet – temporarily. Ok sure, most people that are marginally intelligent would assume that products containing retinol, benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid and other ingredients for fighting acne would be strongly prohibited when you’re with child, but like who knew one has to also be cautious about other hidden ingredients essential oils?
In late 2016, I re-discovered Yves Rocher. I say “re-discovered” because I’ve known about the brand for as long as I can remember but had never been actually acquainted first hand with their products until last summer. So what attracted me to the heritage French company that was started 50 years ago? Yves Rocher pioneered botanical beauty and unlike their competitors, their uniqueness lies in the fact that they also control every single step of the production cycle, essentially allowing them to guarantee the highest quality and safety in all their products, while also being mindful and reducing the impact they have on the environment along the way. Trust me, I found all this hard to believe when I first did my research but later learned that this botanical based skincare brand is only possible because of Yves Rocher’s investment into their very own botanical garden at their headquarters in La Gacilly, France. And if that’s not enough, their own botanists and ethnobotonists whose main job is to scour the five continents in search of the most efficient and innovative plant derived ingredients for optimal looking skin.
I often giggle out loud when I tell my much younger friends how much my skincare routine has changed over the last decade. I am almost embarrassed to say this but in my twenties I was barely getting away with using only two products on my face and one didn’t really even constitute a real facial moisturizer as I was somehow lathering whatever lotion I was using on my body for my face. Yikes! And toner…I didn’t even know what the hell that was at the time. Well, I guess you can say that I am older and much wiser now, taking way more time these days with pre-cleansing, exfoliating, toning, hydrating, and moisturizing my skin. I am a firm believer that it’s not necessary to commit your entire beauty regimen to just one line of products and Yves Rocher has become the perfect compliment to the rest of my lengthy, but necessary, routine. Here’s a little look into my current rotation of botanical beauty products.
First things first, just simply using a cleanser won’t clear all the debris, makeup and dirt off your face. I learned this one the hard way. For years, I thought my gel cleansers were doing an adequate job of removing all traces of dirt to only discover at times I was still leaving remains of the day’s makeup behind on my white pillowcases. Now, I resort to a few things to ensure I get a deep clean both morning and night. I start by using the Hydra Végétal Facial Wipes. They are great at prepping my face for the next step while also moisturizing at the same time and I always follow up with the White Botanical Exceptional Cleansing Oil. It sounds a bit much before even using my gel cleanser I know, but I’ve found it to be crucial. Also using a cleansing spin brush when washing my face with Yves Rocher’s Hydra Végétal Refreshing Cleansing Gel.
Once the clean is all clean, that’s when the real magic happens. Women all love exfoliators. At least for me, I always feel that the grainy texture is going the extra mile to slough away dead skin and dirt. And what’s better than exfoliation? Custom exfoliation thanks to the brand’s Scrub to Mix product, that adapts to the needs of your skin. With seven magical ingredients, mixed with your desired amount of water (or even paired with a cleanser) it never fails at leaving skin unbelievably clean, soft and fresh. Leaving my face prepped for the next step using my go-to toner.
Photography by Bettina Bogar
For the last several months I have been testing out the brands Sensitive Végétal line of products in an effort to be even more kinder to my skin. Tested under strict dermalogical supervision, the products contain no colorants, parabens or perfumes, so basically music to a mom-to-be’s ears. The line’s key ingredient, Sigesbeckia Orientalis, works wonders in soothing, repairing and protecting even the most reactive skin and at a time when your pregnancy hormones are raging, gentle skincare is much welcomed. This line’s Soothing Cleansing Milk is just another layer of safety making sure my skin is completely clean and after applying my go-to serum boosters. I’ve been rounding out my daily routine with both Sensitive Végétal’s Targeted Comfort Eye Care, two generous pumps of the Intense Soothing Concentrate topped off with the Soothing Moisturizing Cream…and I love to go a little heavier on the latter at nighttime for extra hydration leaving my skin looking and feeling amazing by the morning.
To discover more about the brand’s very extensive line of products, retail & spa locations or to order online, head to YvesRocher.ca
The holidays are right around the corner and I always find this season a good time to step out of my comfort zone when it comes to my makeup, to help get me in the festive mood. I’m a low maintenance girl. Do I feel more put together when I leave the house with beautiful makeup? Absolutely. Do I have time to spend an hour and a half to achieve a party ready look before leaving the house? Definitely not.
I am lucky to be surrounded by some extremely talented makeup artists on a regular basis on set, like Plutino Group Artist Angie DiBattista, who has taught me that achieving this flawless holiday look can not only be done in a pinch, but you also don’t have to break the bank to do it. On a quest to see if Angie’s theory was right, I recently made a trip to Rexall to find products easily accessible and affordable to the masses to help create the perfect look for the holiday season party circuit. If you’ve never stepped inside one of Rexall’s Inspired beauty departments, do so immediately. I know it’s the best kept secret for many beauty bloggers in the city and now I know why! With a plethora of amazing brands with diverse products to appease women of all colours, I was like a kid in a candy store. I felt no pressure from staff as I took my time browsing and testing as many products as I needed and when I had questions on some of the brands I was less familiar with like NYX, the cosmetician on duty happily educated me and guided me in the right direction to find items that would help me achieve my desired look.
Holiday Glam in 30 Minutes
I usually keep things pretty minimal when it comes to my makeup day-to-day, focusing on creating clean/flawless skin, preferring a neutral shade on my lips and a hint of colour on my cheeks. But there is no reason to play it safe during the holidays and now is my chance to experiment with learning how to do a subtle, yet sexy smoky eye and play up on the drama with a very bold lip.
I pick up so many useful tips when I’m in the makeup chair. To be honest, I’ve always been fearful of doing my own eye makeup. I have shaky hands making it a bit hard when applying colour to my eyelids. One of the smartest things I’ve learned from Angie is that when you’re going for a more dramatic eye, such as a smoky look, it’s always better to start with your eye makeup first, before doing your foundation. Yup, you can thank us later! In case you make any mistakes while smoking out your lids, you don’t have to worry about wiping off your foundation too and starting over. A simple, smoky eye is all I really wanted, knowing I was going to go big on my lip, and was easily achieved with two shadow pots from NYX in Haywire and Euphoria plus a brilliant two sided eyeliner from Pupa. It has a blender on one side, allowing even the most novice peeps like as myself, to smudge and blend like a professional. To round out the eye, I applied two layers of Vamp mascara, also from Pupa.
For my skin, I turned to the ultimate creamy foundation from L’Oreal. Normally, I have to blend three foundations to get the colour just right for my pigmented skin, but with L’Oreal’s True Match Lumi, I only needed a small dollop of a tinted moisturizer mixed in, to give my skin a fresh, clean finish. It was the most expensive item out of everything I purchased but a solid polished look starts and ends with good skin.
I have fallen in love with this season’s lip trends; deep merlot/burgundy colours and the matte finish. There were no shortage of these in Rexall’s Inspired beauty department but I fell madly in love with NYX’s Soft Matte Lip Cream in Copenhagen. My new fave lippy, which actually works well with all skin tones, goes on a bit creamy however surprisingly dries totally matte. Best part, the tip of the brush is small enough to make it possible for anyone to apply precisely without the help of a lip liner.
Photography by JessBaumung.com with MUA @AngieDib
Items purchased for my look…wait for the drumroll, came in under $80, which could have easily run me a few hundred if I had bought them at a luxury department store. Starting December 2nd, 2016, Rexall Inspired Beauty is giving you a chance to win 1 of 2 $2,000 Rexall Gift Cards this holiday season. Click here tomorrow to enter and find contest rules and regulations. Best of luck!
For years I’ve always envied people who are able to travel with only carry-on luggage. And to be honest, I was not only envious, but also confused. Very confused. How can women travel for more than one night with a 21″ rolling case? I mean, how does she manage to squeeze in all the unnecessary outfits that she will never wear during her trip? Doesn’t she want to bring her ionic blow dryer? Isn’t it tough to pack multiple shoes, especially with high heels? And what about ALL her beauty and skincare products? *gasp* During my travels on numerous press trips, I have learned a few tricks that has allowed me to join the club of savvy travellers who are not chained to the bag carrousel at their destination. This learning curve has allowed me to fit all the necessities into just one carry-on bag, although I do also bring along a backpack or large tote along as my handbag to cram in anything else that may not fit in my rolling luggage. So since “sharing is caring” here’s some of carry-on MUST HAVES that makes me feel like I have the basics covered:
Rimowa Limbo Multiwheel 22″: Traveling with carry-on can only be done if you have the right bag. I’ve long been a fan of Rimowa luggage for it’s aesthetic, functionality, durable materials, and superior quality. No matter the size or type of bag, Rimowa always offers tons of storage components it’s internal set, taking away some of the anxiety of traveling with one piece of luggage. The multiwheel feature allows the bag to glide seamless in tandem by your side or pulled from behind.
Dermalogica Skincare: On shorter trips, I have learned to edit down my skincare to just a few products. This is a huge feat seeing as though I use anywhere between 15-20 products a day on my face at home. Traveling can cause stress, skin accumulates dirt and debris and we all know that cabin air during flights wreak havoc on skin so it’s important to travel with some options to keep your skin clean, clear and hydrated. Clear skin all lies in how you cleanse. Before washing my skin, I use cleansing wipes (not pictured above) and Dermalogica’s Precleanse. The latter’s nourishing olive, apricot, and kukui nut oils removes make-up, sunscreens and oil-based debris. Also, I love multi-duty products like Dermalogica’s Multivitamin Thermafoliant. This powerful, self-heating skin polisher has chemical and physical exfoliants to not only refine your skin’s texture but also promotes skin firmness and enhance the penetration of vitamins into the skin. The best part, it’s formulated without artificial fragrances and colours. $55 CDN for Precleanse$77 CDN for Multivitamin Therafoliant
The Esteé Edit “Beam Team”: Ummm this product is absolutely brilliant if you dropping majority of your skincare products like third period French class to be able to travel checked-in luggage free. Beam Team is a double duty daily moisturizing lotion. The tube contains a lightweight illuminating and hydrating lotion and wait for it, if you flip the cap top you will find a flattering for all skin shades, highlighting balm. $42 CDN
Jo Malone “Wild Bluebell” Cologne: Who doesn’t love scents by Jo Malone? The brand has a wide variety of colognes ranging from; citrus, floral, fruity, spicy, and woody that can satisfy just about any scent palette. One of my go-to’s when traveling is Wild Bluebell in the 1 floz (30ml) bottle. The size couldn’t be more perfect for travel, plus the light, fruity scent won’t overbear your in-flight neighbours. $65
Hermés Belt: Why travel with multiple belts when you can have just one chic, reversible option. I love my double sided Hermés belt kid. I’ve had it for years. I have misplaced it three times and literally felt my heart stop beating each time I did. The epsom calfskin leather strap in black (with tan on the reversible side) with gold plated metal buckle, literally goes with everything. I can’t say it’s cheap but hey, it’s essentially two belts for the price of one, so it’s all about perspective right? $1,405 CDN
Apple 11″ MacBook Laptop: Size matters. When I am not traveling I love have access to a desktop monitor or larger laptop screen when I’m traveling, the 11″ MacBook has become my trusty companion for both work and play (I mean, I still have to stay up to date with my fave shows when I am on the road). It’s much thinner, lighter, faster, and sleeker than it’s predecessors and also have improved graphic performance. If that’s not enough, up to 10 hours of battery life.
The Barest Lip Colour by The Esteé Edit: You don’t need to travel with an army of lipsticks and lip pencils, trust me. When I have limited luggage space, I stick to just one lippy that I can easily rock from day to night. Loving this neutral shade by The Esteeé Edit which is available at Sephora.ca. $26 CDN
Shoes – a flat and a heel option: I don’t care whether it’s business or pleasure, I think every woman should travel with both a heel and a flat. I love these neutral shoes from Ann Taylor (left) and Loft (right) which are sadly from their summer collections and no longer available.
Interesting in learning more of my skincare secrets? Stay tuned as I will be sharing my skin story with Dermalogica Canada over the next few weeks. Follow along by using the hashtag #MyFaceMyStory on your favourite social channels.
As a lifestyle writer and blogger I cover a wide variety of topics but my bread and butter these days seem to be within the area of health and fitness. Covering so many topics that are inter-related to these two categories, I was shocked when one of my followers asked me why I’ve never talked about the topic of menstruation on my site. It doesn’t happen very often but in this instance I actually did not have a response for this young lady. For the next week or so, I asked myself and a few friends if the topic was a bit weird to cover here and especially on social media. Silly I know, because periods are not exactly “taboo” or are they? I mean, making sure I have adequate protection during that time of the month is crucial for me and other women who are running, working out, doing yoga and a slew of other physical activity.
Our first experience with menstruation usually happens between the ages of 10-15 and for majority of our teenage and adult life we experience bleeding and potentially some other unpleasant side effects such as bloating, cramps, acne, fatigue, and moodiness. And as far as I’m concerned, most women, like myself, have probably spent several years trying to find the right protection for their flow and lifestyle, but still nobody has the gull to inquire and ask women what they use during their periods like they may ask another woman what facial cleanser or mascara they use. It never really occurs to us what other women are using until our little friend decides to pay us a visit two days early and we are stuck without a tampon requiring us to ask ask a friend (or a stranger in the bathroom) if they have one. Raise your hand if you have rolled your eyes when someone has given you a generic tampon [insert raised hand emoji here]. I’ve vowed to never let that happen to me again so regardless whether I’m on my period or not, there are at least two tampons in my bag – which my girlfriends have become thankful for!
So I am doing my part in break that cycle. I asked a few gal pals recently if they were satisfied with the products they use during their menstruation and 6/10 times I got a puzzled look followed by, “Not really”. Funny enough, 40% of the women said they were satisfied with the tampon brand they use and take one guess what they were using. O.B.! I feel into the category of the 60% that weren’t overly content but I think we all could agree that we continued to use the brand(s) we used just because it was something we had got accustomed to.
This also sparked up some conversations of tampons vs maxi pads and I was stunned that some women still are afraid to use tampons these days. Not that there is anything wrong with maxi pads but with my active and busy lifestyle, tampons are just a better fit for me. For years I have been trying different brands that have promised to give me adequate protection, move with my body, perfect for when I am playing sports, blah blah blah. A few years ago I stopped searching for the “perfect tampon” and settled on one brand. However last month I stumbled across some advertising for O.B. Tampons as part of an interesting new campaign asking women to “Give Us One Period. Period.” O.B. differs from other brands in that they don’t have an applicator so naturally for someone that has a moderate to heavy flow, I was somewhat hesitant to try it out. A few questions immediately entered into my mind. “How do I use it if it doesn’t have an applicator?”, “Is it going to be messy?”, and “OMG this thing is tiny, is it going to give me the protection I need?”
I went away on vacation a few weeks ago and got my period the day before departing so I figured this may be the best time to give O.B. a shot. When I’m traveling, space in my purse/carry-on is limited and I also need the confidence that I will be protected while in transit. Not to mention while working out and on the beach wearing my favourite white bikini. Armed with optimism and two boxes of the brand’s tampons (one regular and one super), I headed to the Caribbean. Smaller than the size of my pinky finger, these tampons actually surprised me. Because of it’s size, they were super easy to use and were ultra comfortable. To be honest, so much so, I had almost forgotten I was wearing one a couple times. The design expands to fit each woman’s unique body. On the first I day realized early that I needed to use the Pro Comfort Super for the first two days of my period. With O.B.’s fluid-lock technology has grooves that pull fluid into the core for locked-in leak protection you can wear up to 8 hours – I highly suggest not waiting that long though. For the remainder of my cycle, I switched over to the Pro Comfort Regular, which is great for first time non-applicator tampon users or for women with a light to moderate flow. While on the beach and working out I didn’t want to take any risks and just stuck to the supers, just to be on the safe side. Not having an applicator allows O.B. tampons to be ridiculously small making them extremely discreet. I was able to fit one into the pocket of my skinniest jeans and the tiny pocket inside my Nike running shorts. Even when my clear/see-thru makeup bag was pulled out of my carry-on at the airport security checkpoint, the couple tampons that were tossed in there went completed undetected by those around me – phew!
Are you willing to give O.B. Tampons a try? I’m giving away boxes to 50 lucky followers who tweet, “@SashaExeter, I want to give @ob_canada one period #GiveUsOnePeriod“. Contest begins today and ends Friday September 18th at 6pm. Winners will be announced and contacted on Monday September 21st – Good luck!
Head to GiveUsOnePeriod.ca to learn more about the campaign and click here for more information on O.B. Tampons.
All personal information will be used for product category and brand research purposes by Edgewell Personal Care. Additionally, those consumers who enter may be contacted by Edgewell Personal Care with information, news and promotions regarding o.b. Tampons. Information will not be used, released or sold to any third party companies for any reason.
My earliest memory of skin-care products was as a pre-teen seeing a trio of Clinique products on my mother’s bathroom counter. A three-step, foolproof system to cleanse, exfoliate and hydrate the skin that she swore by for years: It helped her achieve a beautiful, clear complexion. Fast forward almost 20 years and now the Foaming Sonic Facial Soap, Clarifying Lotion and Dramatically Different Moisturizing Gel is sitting on my countertop – talk about a full-circle moment! And something tells me there is going to be several other young women turning to Clinique’s iconic trifecta with the launch of its new global campaign, #FaceForward, featuring millennial megastars Hannah Bronfman, Margaret Zhang and Tavi Gevinson. Here’s a sneak peek:
Clinique has tapped these amazing young women, who have had extraordinary achievements at an early age, to encourage others worldwide to face forward – rather than to look back – while sharing their thoughts on achieving their goals, what motivates them in their respective careers and, of course, their go-to beauty products. What exactly does “Face Forward” mean? To me, it means not looking back. We can’t go back in time to make a brand new beginning, but we can start from now to make a brand new ending. Having confidence gives me the ability to look ahead and trust that amazing things are in my future. Some of that confidence comes from feeling physically and mentally strong, from living a healthy lifestyle and having beautiful skin.
Engaging consumers so they feel a part of the brand is integral in this campaign – which is only one of the reasons I was drawn to it, to be honest. Remember that saying “If I knew then what I know now…”? Well, Clinique’s asking women to share what they would tell their future selves. If I had to tell myself one thing, it would be to not let fear get in the way. Take risks. Try something new. Don’t be scared. Everything you want is on the other side of fear. Now it’s your turn… Make a promise to the future and put it out there. Post a selfie and share what you would tell your future self on social media using the hashtag #FaceForward and tag @clinique.
For more information on the campaign, Clinique products, and to make your personal Skin Diagnostic, head over to clinique.ca.
Regular exercise and eating clean are measures that I take to stay healthy but I do have a couple tricks up my sleeve in the form of supplements that are part of my daily regimen that help keep my body running at it’s optimal level. Since introducing Fountain Beauty Supplement’s into my routine six months ago, I have noticed dramatic differences and improvements to my skin, energy level, mood by using the brand’s Hyaluronic, Energy, Super Green, and Beauty and Happy molecules, with the latter being extremely useful during the cold winter months. Developed by the self proclaimed “Abnormal Beauty Company”, Deciem (whose products are manufactured in downtown Toronto) has been quickly gaining notoriety and showing up in beauty reviews in all the top glossy mags and has reminded consumers that although what we put on our bodies topically is important, it’s really what we put inside them that makes the difference.
As amazing as all the molecules are, the stand out in the line-up to me right now is the Super Green Molecule, which contains over 40 minerals, 16 amino acids and 11 vitamins . I take the recommended dosage of one teaspoon everyday in either a glass of water or cold pressed juice (if taken directly the dark green colour could stain your tongue). This concoction is a super concentrated beauty and lifestyle supplement of alfalfa chlorophyll, kelp and Deciem’s hyaluronic acid matrix. Chlorophyll has many known benefits; its abundant in vitamins and minerals, has potent antioxidant properties, promotes cleansing, helps control hunger and cravings and enhances overall energy level and general well-being. Like Chlorophyll, kelp is another amazing green that is packed with tons of vitamins and minerals such as; iodine, potassium, iron, magnesium and calcium. It’s known most for its aid in weight management and it’s ability to deliver internal tissue hydration.
Thanks to my friends at Deciem, I am giving away four Super Green Molecules on Twitter to some lucky followers. All you have to do is make sure to follow me and Deciem Fountain on Twitter and tweet, “I want to go green with @DeciemFountain’s Super Green Molecule! #SoSashaxDeciem“. Contest begins today and ends Saturday July 11th at midnight. Winner will be announced via Twitter on Monday. *Contest open to Canadian residents only!
Click here for more information on the Fountain molecules. For more details on Deciem and their extensive portfolio of brands head to Deciem.com