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NEW BROWS, WHO DIS? PART DEUX

*THIS IS A FOLLOW-UP TO LAST YEAR’S POST ON MY MICROBLADED BROWS!*

It’s been a whole year plus a few months living life with microbladed brows and you know what? That life is damn good. I wrote a post last February on my experience getting microbladed (if you’re new to my blog you can check out last year’s post here) for the very first time by Nicole Guerrieri, also known as @BrowsxBianca on Instagram. I went back to the infamous brow goddess last week for a touch up…just to make sure the glow up was still on 100. I found her in a cute new space, just seconds from her old spot, and armed with new tricks up her sleeve to help create the most beautiful brows ever for her clients.

Here’s a little peek inside Nicole’s new spot at 260 Carlaw Ave. It’s a lofty vibe with high ceilings and original wood flooring. She also plays old Motown music during brow sessions!

WHAT’S CHANGED

There is still three passes of microblading like there was before, but wait for it…no numbing of the skin before the first pass. Nicole knows how much I hate pain, so she neglected to tell me this before my appointment, but did tell me to take some Advil just before coming in. It’s odd because I’ve have had a natural child birth with Maxwell so I probably shouldn’t find this so intolerable, but I do until I get the numbing gel and then it’s smooth sailing. If you’re wondering what it feels like, imagine a cat dragging it’s sharp nails across your delicate skin. Ask Nicole, and she will tell you most of her clients find the pain a 4 out 10 but to me it’s like a 7.5 or even higher.

Apparently, microblading is far more effective on skin that is hard so a pre-numbing cream is no longer used before the first pass of blading. Having the cream sit on your skin for 30 min softens the skin too much and therefore does not allowing for the ‘strokes’ to heal as sharp as they would without the soft skin. Before the second pass she will apply a gel that will numb the shit out of your brow area and it’s glorious. It works instantaneously, helping to make the process much faster than before. Also…we, and by we I mean Nicole, has introduced the shading technique into her offering.

BROW SHADING

So yes, there is blading and shading and both are different, plus yield different results. According to Nicole, most clients actually need the combination of both. Why? Simply because microblading alone isn’t enough. This is especially the case if you have sparse brows, baldness in some areas, no tails, etc. If you have dense hair at the front of your brow and no tails, microblading cannot give you the density to blend the front with the tail and that’s what the shading does. And if you’re wondering if the shading technique will make your brows look less natural…it is actually the opposite. They will look MORE natural with both. Trust me! If you already have a full brow but still find yourself having to do a little penciling in, you can totally considering just doing the shading alone.

Last week’s fresh brow glow up

PRE-BLADING AND SHAPING

I think the question I have received the most is, “How will I know she won’t fuck up my brows?” It’s funny how blunt some of y’all are. To be honest, this questions generally comes from WOC because with darker skin, there is always a fear that a new technology, machine, etc could damage our skin in some irrevocable way. But ladies, you need not worry as I was happy to be the guinea pig for y’all.

The shape made for each person is going to be completely unique because it’s based on geometry and Nicole uses the nature curve of your brow to determine the shape. The line work is based on each client’s natural hair flow and density. What you can expect first is still the mapping process, where she shapes with a thin wax pencil. This stencil process will ensure everything is measured to perfection. Also new is the measurement app Nicole has started using to triple check symmetry and from there she makes the necessary adjustments before starting the microblading process.

Pigment colour is not a guessing game either. Nicole chooses the pigment best suited for your brows and complexion. A colour swatch of the pigment is not the same colour as a healed brow, therefore she doesn’t really bother showing clients a swatch, although we do discuss the lightness/ darkness of colour choice together. She does this with everyone because really wants you to be happy with the end result.

AFTERCARE:

If you workout daily or generally are a sweaty person, you’re not going to like this part, but please remember it’s all for a good cause. Absolutely no sweating or water on brows for 7 days. Trust me, sounds a lot easier than it actually is. I know you’re wondering how this has been possible for me and to be completely transparent, I have actually worked out every day since I had mine done – but no runs because my face actually sweats when I run. If it’s just cross training and lifting, I sweat only on the lower back and chest so I am able to get away with it. I could workout in full glam makeup and go to an event immediately after if I wanted to because my face somehow stays dry. That being said, I don’t suggest this to anyone else and after forking over the coins to get them done, you won’t want to run the risk of anything happening to your fresh brows.
So how do you wash your face then? You have to just work around the brows with a cloth and take your shower with head tilted back to wash your hair. Or skip hair washing all together if you can. Nicole will provide a very detailed aftercare kit with all the information you need to properly care for your brows and ensure the best healed results.
PRO TIP: You can expect a lot of changes during the healing period and should not judge the result until at least 2 weeks after your appointment. Your brows will be dark, flakey, too light, etc. but just trust the process!  90% of Nicole’s clients come back wanting darker and thicker brows.

PRICING

What’s the cost? Well, if you ask anyone that has gotten their brows properly microbladed they will tell you it’s priceless so don’t worry about how much it is, but I know that answer is not going to fly with most of you. Although, that really is the truth. All jokes aside though, the blading will run you $575 and the shading $650. Also, there’s a touch up 4-6 weeks after your initial session included in the initial cost, to make any adjustments necessary.

HOW TO KNOW IF YOU’RE AN IDEAL CANDIDATE FOR MICROBLADING

Well, unfortunately not everyone is a candidate for microblading BUT there are other options for you. If you have oily skin, large pores, thick/ textured skin or mild rosacea, you would be a candidate for a ‘powder brow’ instead. This technique is something I just heard of last week and is actually what Nicole does on her own brows. Yes this is the brow that looks filled in with makeup, but its not the harsh shapes you’re thinking of aka “Instagram Brows”.  It’s soft and powdery (hence the name). Microblading on skin types like these will not allow you to achieve the natural looking feathered hair strokes. Rather, what you will end up with is a blurred brow and you’ll no doubt be disappointed. Powder brows can be as soft or dramatic as you like.

The Lowdown on Laser Hair Removal For Dark Skin

The topic of laser hair removal is still going strong since I started posting from my monthly appointments, so it only makes sense to answer all your questions in one place right here. My decision to begin laser hair removal came from an extreme dislike to bikini waxing. I swear, I would be like a fish out of water on the table during waxing appointments. Flipping and flopping each time the wax was ripped off my skin. Dreading every session and leaving a puddle of sweat behind on the table whenever the poor lady was finished. After I had Maxwell, I knew I had to try something else. Shaving with a straight razor wasn’t going to be it because it left me with razor bumps, nasty ingrown hairs and scarring. I am at the age now where I just don’t want to be bothered with hair removal. Well, at least down there. It needs to GO!

Even though I hate most forms of hair removal, the decision to start laser hair removal treatments wasn’t exactly easy. For one, it’s not cheap. Two, I was worried about my skin and whether I would be able to find someone in the city who really understood how to do this safely working with coarse hair and skin with melanin. Appears like y’all have the same concerns too after reviewing the questions y’all left for my on IG stories. So here’s the list of FAQ’S:

HOW DO I CHOOSE WHERE TO GO FOR YOUR LASER HAIR REMOVAL?

Without a doubt, the most important decision, especially if you have dark skin. You need to go somewhere that has amazing aestheticians and have equipment with technology that is safe for a variety of skin tones and hair. I go to The Ten Spot on Queen St West and I have my Instagram community to thank for that. I used my IG stories to ask women of colour in the city for laser recommendations and the responses for the Ten Spot was quite overwhelming. There were of course, a few high end medical clinics that charge an arm and a leg and some cost effective recco’s made, but the Ten Spot locations seemed to have great staff and had the most technology advanced equipment. Plus, there are locations in every corner of the city (and across the country). If you are not in Canada or choose to go somewhere other than a Ten Spot location, make sure wherever you go, has the Vectus Laser Cynosure machine. My suggestion to you would be to do searches in your city for places that carry this machine and then do some price point comparisons.

WHAT MAKES THE VECTUS CYNOSURE BETTER THAN OTHER LASER MACHINES?

Technology has come a long way since laser hair removal was first introduced to the beauty industry. The secret to the Vectus Cynosure is it’s technology. It actually targets and destroys hair cells responsible for hair growth without damaging the surrounding skin.

It has different sized applicators, making it easy to remove hair from faces (with the exception of the eye area), backs, chests, arms, underarms, bikini lines and chests and the important thing to point out, it’s suitable and safe for all skin types; including very light and dark skin tones and hair colours thanks to the diode technology. For those with darker skin complexions that are worried about potential skin damage, the machine has a Skintel melanin digital reader device used prior to every treatment which determines the laser’s power level avoiding in any guess work for the aesthetician and can guarantee no burning. It even has an advanced cooling system to help eliminate any discomfort that may occur the further you get in your treatment.

DOES IT HURT AND HOW MANY SESSIONS DOES IT TAKE?

As you can imagine, almost all of you wanted to know if the process hurts and providing that there may be some discomfort, thought to go ahead and ask how many sessions it takes. And I don’t blame you. If you are considering this form of hair removal, it’s probably because you don’t want to deal with the pain of waxing. The deal is this, my first two appointments (I just finished my sixth treatment) were completely pain free. Like, I literally felt nothing at all and was even became skeptical that this shit was going to work. However, as I’ve progressed through the treatments, the laser strength has increased to help minimize hair regrowth and I am starting to feel some discomfort. And I say discomfort because it is not pain, well at least not yet. Apparently, once you get to the end of your treatment cycle where there is little to no hair left in the follicle, it can become painful but that means you’re closer to semi-permanent hair removal and you won’t have to endure it much longer. As things are starting to intensify, I decided to get myself a numbing cream to help with any discomfort so the aesthetician can use the appropriate laser level. It made a significant difference during my last appointment and I will continue to use the cream moving forward.

We all have different pain thresholds and after going through a natural labour for 43 hours, I would like to think my pain tolerance is pretty high but the cream just helps as I know Glaze wants to go a bit higher with the frequency. If you’re wondering what it actually feels like? It’s no where near the pain level of strip waxing, thank God! You may not feel anything at all in some places, especially in the first few sessions. While over other passes across the treatment area, you will feel a sensation similar to a zap or an elastic snapping, that happens so quickly and disappears just as fast. I almost wish the zaps were consistent throughout the treatment though. Not knowing when the zaps coming, which is probably determined by how much hair is left in the follicle in a certain area, makes me feel a bit tense throughout the entire appointment….even though I am only zapped a handful of times during my treatment. Glaze always has episodes of Friends playing on TV in the treatment room so watch and chat with her to keep me distracted.

HOW MANY SESSIONS DO YOU NEED AND HOW MANY HAVE YOU DONE?

The number of sessions is depends on several factors. Your skin tone and hair type for sure but also the area you are getting done. The upper lip or sideburns may only take 6-7 sessions while doing a Brazilian may take double the amount of sessions. I have just finished my sixth session and we anticipate that I will probably have to do 10-12 in total. But, we shall see!

IS LASER HAIR REMOVAL PERMANENT?

I think this is the most common misconception. I am sad to report that it is not permanent but for what it’s worth, it’s as close to permanent as you’re going to get. I’ve spoken to several women who have gotten laser treatment done and they have all said that they are for the most part hairless but they do get the odd stray hairs popping up and they either pluck or quickly shave but it happens only a couple times a year.

IS IT SAFE TO GET LASER ON DELICATE AREAS LIKE YOUR BIKINI LINE AND VAGINA?

Yup, that is exactly the treatment I go in for. I opted for full Brazilian and I will be honest, it takes some getting used to having a stranger getting so up close and personal with you. She gets in places that not even Réjean sees to be honest. Even handles inside the bum crack.

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?

This shit is not cheap boo’s. You can go to a medical clinic, in Yorkville for example, and literally thousands and thousands and then there are a few cost effective spots but at the same time, do you want the cheapest option when you’re dealing with your skin? Probably not. The prices at The Ten Spot can be found on their website. I get the “Brazily” laser treatment and it costs $210 + taxes per session. This is their signature style with everything off – including treasure trail, full vajay, and between the bum cheeks.

WHEN DID YOU FIRST START NOTICING A DIFFERENCE

I started to notice a difference with the speed of growth after the third session. I am still getting hair growth now though after six appointments. I find that the hair on my bikini line is coming back slower and the hair is much finer. The rest of my vagina still has a ways to go yet, which is why we increased the frequency during my last appointment. I am hoping to be finished after 10-12 sessions.

IS IT TRUE YOU CAN’T GET LASER IF YOU’RE ON ANTIBIOTICS?

I don’t believe that is true but you can consult your physician if you have any concerns about this.

DOES BLACK  SCAR FROM LASER HAIR REMOVAL?

Lots has changed in laser technology since it was first introduced 25+ years ago. The old laser machines were only able to treat and remove hair on one type of skin tone. It worked best on white skin and moderately dark hair. Those with skin too fair or too dark often got burned and suffered from hyper pigmentation. The machines back then were not sophisticated enough to detect hair colour and melanin, requiring an aesthetician to use guess work to determine the laser frequency level to use during treatments. Now, with machines like the Vectus, there is no more guess work. A digital reading tells the aesthetician the exact range they should use throughout the treatment. It stores all the client’s information as well from previous appointments to closely track progress.

WHAT DO YOU DO WITH HAIR GROWTH IN BETWEEN SESSIONS AND WHAT IS POST CARE LIKE?

Between sessions I usually just leave the hair to grow in for the most part. However, with being on set for shoots and in bathing suits during our travels, I more likely to keep the area more trimmed than most. I use my Philips Bikini Genie Trimmer to maintain the area.

As for post care, absolutely nothing is required. The only thing you will be advised about is that within the first few days of having your session done, you should avoid direct sunlight to the area treated. That is not always avoidable so you need to make sure that you are applying sunscreen as well. I went to Miami the day after a treatment back in November and I just made sure none of the bathing suits I wore were high cut and while I was on the beach, I made sure to stay under an umbrella. I usually am not on the beach baking in the sun a day after going in so normally I don’t have anything to worry about.

The Ten Spot Laser Hair Removal - Sasha Exeter

DID YOU FIND ANY PIGMENTATION ISSUES BECAUSE I HAVE SO MUCH DISCOLOURATION?

Nope. Absolutely none since starting my treatments. I used to get awful in grown hairs when I waxed and shaved with a straight razor which left marks behind on my bikini line. I have not had one single ingrown since I started my treatments and I am even noticing the marks I once had are actually even fading now.

CAN LASER HAIR REMOVAL CAUSE KELOIDS?

There is almost zero risk of getting keloids, if you’re prone to them, from laser treatments unless your skin gets severely burned during a treatment which would only happen if you have a poorly skilled technician and/or a machine that is not meant to be used on dark skin. To be honest, the chances of burning today with the right laser machine is slim to none.

IS IT TRUE IT’S POINTLESS TO DO LASER BEFORE YOU HAVE KIDS BECAUSE THE HAIR WILL GROW BACK?

I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s pointless to do it before kids. I mean, there are plenty of women who have not gotten pregnant yet and they are lasering their lives away. I waited until after having Maxwell to do it but that’s just because I procrastinated for years. I did ask Glaze to confirm or deny during my last visit and she did say that she advises if you’re planning on getting pregnant soon, wait until post baby. When you’re pregnant, your hormones and prenatal vitamins promote crazy hair growth, so you won’t want to be wasting time and money removing hair that is just going to grow back thicker and faster during those nine months. As for fertility, some of you have asked whether treatments may affect fertility and you will be happy to know that it doesn’t.

THE CONCLUSION

Well the question y’all all want to really know is, “Does it work?” Well, I can’t quite answer that just yet. Am I seeing some results so far? Yes, but truthfully, I would have thought I would be seeing far less hair re-growth by now. But, perhaps I just have stubborn hair that is going to need a full round of treatments. We shall see, but if all goes well, I will be getting my armpits done next. If you’re in the Toronto area and want to try out The Ten Spot, ask for Glaze. She’s amazing and has won all kinds of awards for her laser work in 2018. I will circle back with you all in a few months with another update once I have finished my 12th session.

THIS REVIEW IS SOLELY MY PERSONAL OPINION AND IS NOT SPONSORED OR IN PARTNERSHIP WITH ANY OF THE BRANDS MENTIONED IN THE POST.

Practical & Life Changing Hair Removal

Let’s get straight down to business and chat hair removal shall we because you guys have showed so much interest in my hair free journey since I opened up about it recently on Instagram. If you happened to miss it thanks to the apps awful algorithm, you can find it here. I have complained for years about every single aspect surrounding this topic. I started shaving when I was about 13, I think. Maybe even 12. I started waxing my armpits and bikini line in my early twenties. Then graduating to full brazilians shortly thereafter. FML. I am in my late thirties now so that’s a lot of years of painful agony from waxing and annoying nicks from straight blades. This summer I had enough. Like, why the hell was I making myself suffer? It had to end.

Philips Har Removal - So Sasha
I just want the smooth and soft legs that Maxie has

So, what happened next was an immediate call to action on my IG stories asking my followers to dish on their go-to hair removal methods. The response…well let’s just say most of the women agreed that waxing is savage. There were many that still shaved but to be honest, I was blown away by the amount of women who had turned to epilators and laser hair removal treatments. Like tons actually! I got feedback from the black community on what clinics in Toronto were the best at dealing with darker skin tones and started looking into the option of electric shavers and epilators after a few people brought them up. I ended up booking Holly from The Ten Spot Queen West location for my laser treatments on my va-jay-jay and I am going to see how that goes, then determine whether I am going to get other areas done. Who am I kidding? If it’s as good as people say it is, I will literally be a Kardashian and do my entire body head to toe. At $210 per session, you better believe they use the best machine in the game that is able to detect the amount of melanin in darker skin to avoid burning. I’ve only done two sessions so far and I promise to report back on the progress but so far they have been virtually painless (requires no numbing cream) and I have about 8-10 sessions left. I am excited to not have to worry about it anymore. But in the meantime, it’s just the one area and I am using the Philips BikiniGenie Bikini Trimmer in between appointments to keep things in check down there. Holly is infamous in the beauty and aesthetician community when it comes to laser removal and is The Ten Spot’s laser guru. She actually advised me to stay away from waxing completely from now and suggested I use my trimmer only as needed. It’s so easy to shape and trim with it. Its battery operated and portable, making it really convenient to use anywhere, especially when traveling and it can also be used in or outside of the shower. With that area now taken care of, you’re probably wondering what I am doing with the rest of my body that sprouts more hair than I would like to admit.

Philips Har Removal - So Sasha

Philips Har Removal - So Sasha

I know the Philips brand has been known for their epilators and electric shavers for many years so I figured my experience with the BikiniGenie may mean that I will also love their other hair removal products. I am not quite yet ready to dole out coins for laser on my legs, pits or face just yet so it was worth a shot and the price point is so much more affordable than laser sessions. My first attempt was with the Philips Satinelle Advanced Wet & Dry Epilator. I was stoked for it because I heard that it had the ability to grab even the finest of hairs (even has a unique light to illuminate the area you are working on so you can target the teeny tiny hairs) and because the hair is removed straight from the root, it grew back slower, similar to waxing. It came with several attachment heads making it safe and easy to use all over my body but you know what…it’s just not for me. I am not quite sure what I was expecting in terms of pain level but it was far from pain free, I will say that. Personally, for me the discomfort level was not far off from waxing so I didn’t see the point however, if you can handle it and are looking for an at-home hair removal option that removes hair straight from the root and eliminates trips to the salon, this is the tool for you.

With the epilator no longer an option for moi, I tried the Philips electric shaver and have been using it religiously ever since on my legs, arms and armpits. So much different than shaving with straight razors. There’s a multiflex head with dual foils to make sure you don’t miss any hairs. I do find that I have to be very particular and hold it on a 90 degree angle when I am moving the shaver up my leg to ensure that

the blade cuts the hair as close to the skin as possible. I loooooove that I don’t need to be in the shower to use it like I would with a traditional razor. I’ve actually only used it in the shower once, I much prefer dry use. It’s a lot more convenient that way. I have traveled with this thing and even bring it on set with me to shave before a shoot if I don’t have time to do it the night before. You can’t expect to get the same shave as you would with a straight razor but if you’re anything like me, you’ll rush and end up slicing your skin. You can eliminate cuts and nicks from your shaving equation with the Philips SatinShave Prestige Electric Shaver. Plus, its only $60 on Amazon right now, so in the long run if you think about it, even more cost effective than purchasing straight razors for the foreseeable future.

Philips Hair Removal

For the ultimate in smoothness, I love to use Céla’s Seed to Scrub (a natural grain polish), their Exfoliating Mitt on my legs and arms followed by the brand’s Creme de la Creme Light moisturizer. And, voila…welcome to the softest skin ever. Also, just because I’m super extra, I wanted to also try out the Philips PrecisionPerfect Trimmer because why the hell not. I had gotten my brows micro bladed back in January so the maintenance on them is pretty minimal but now I don’t have to waste any time going anywhere to do threading to clean them up.

Philips Har Removal - So Sasha

Philips Har Removal - So Sasha

Philips Har Removal - So Sasha

Philips Har Removal - So Sasha

Philips Har Removal - So Sasha
Photography by Jess Baumung

I’ve linked all the products above so you can shop them directly from Amazon, because who doesn’t love receiving the products they have ordered same day? They are also available for sale in store at Shoppers Drug Mart, Walmart, London Drugs, and Jean Coutu nationwide.

 

CliniqueFit High Performance Beauty + Skincare Essentials

Wearing a full face of make-up to the gym just really isn’t my jam but I would be lying if I said I was always 100% make-up free during my workouts. I usually don’t get a chance to re-do my makeup throughout the work week and so whatever products I put on my face when I leave in the morning, is pretty what stays on until the end of the day. This means, I need high performing products that can keep up with my active lifestyle.

 

Videography by Shawn Pinnock of Cultivate

You know that go-to ice breaker question people love to ask, “What are 5 things you can’t live without?” My answer always includes a long wear mascara and tinted moisturizer. I can’t leave home without them. Most seem to work fine for me when my makeup is done for evening events or for daytime meetings but trouble arises when it’s time for a midday workout or run.  I’ve wondered for years why no beauty brands had thought to create a makeup collection for women with active lifestyles, designed to withstand sweat and humidity. I mean, I couldn’t possibly be the only woman out there craving lightweight, long wearing makeup that allows her to look flawless for anything the day happens to throw at them..

Clearly not, which is why Clinique stepped up to the plate and recently launched CliniqueFit; a collection of high performance makeup and skincare essentials for women with a highly active life. YAS! What you’ll find in the range is 7 phenomenal products that every fitness obsessed girl should have in both their makeup and gym bags to help them look more alive after that 6am Barry’s Bootcamp class before work. Post workout cleansing wipes, a mattifying moisturizer, a light-weight foundation, a hydrating face spray, a lip + cheek flush that I love to apply post workout, plus their hero product; the Workout 24 hour Mascara. The line is super affordable – thank goodness because I don’t think I could live without it and available for sale now in Canada at Shopper’s Drug Mart locations nationwide and Clinique.com in the U.S.

New Brows, Who Dis?

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?!

Photos by Nathalia Allen

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!

Lise Watier Perfexion Introduces Drone Technology into Skincare

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!

Lise Watier Perfection - So Sasha

Lise Watier Perfexion Anti Aging- Sasha Exeter

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.

Lise Watier Perfexion Anti Aging

Within the new Perfexion line-up you’ll find the four products I’ve been trailing for the last two months. An Anti-Aging Serum Corrector (30ml), Anti-Aging Day Cream Corrector (50ml), Anti-Aging Night Cream Corrector (50ml), Anti-Aging Eye Cream Corrector (15ml). I have had a few skin issues over the last several years, which only worsened with my fluctuating hormones due to a miscarriage and another pregnancy. Not to mention, as I’ve graduated farther into my thirties, fine lines have slowly crept up around the corners of my eyes. Every year that goes by I’ve noticed my pores have gotten larger and my arch nemesis has been dark spots and hyper pigmentation.

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.

Lise Watier Perfexion Anti Aging - So Sasha

Lise Watier Perfexion - So Sasha
Photos by Elaine Fancy Photography

The Perfexion line is available now online and at Lise Watier counters across Canada

What’s In My Gym Bag Beauty Edition

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.

So Sasha - Yves Rocher

So Sasha - Yves Rocher

So Sasha - Yves Rocher

So Sasha - Yves Rocher

So Sasha - Yves Rocher

So Sasha - Yves Rocher

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.

So Sasha - Yves Rocher

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.

So Sasha - Yves Rocher

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.

So Sasha - Yves Rocher

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.

So Sasha - Yves Rocher

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.

So Sasha - Yves Rocher
Photography by Bettina Bogar for Yves Rocher

This post was sponsored by Yves Rocher Canada, however all opinions on the products in this post are my own

Yves Rocher Botanical Skincare Journey to France

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.

Sasha Exeter - Rimowa
Paris bound to Yves Rocher Headquarters. Luggage c/o Rimowa Toronto

The key Yves Rocher skincare necessities waiting for me at Hotel Adele & Jules to help my dehydrated skin bounce back after the long flight

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

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?

Sasha Exeter - Yves Rocher
Yves Rocher France Headquarters Olfactory (Fragrances) Room
Sasha Exeter - Yves Rocher
Christine Dalfault-Sara, Yves Rocher Communications Director (Directrice Communication)

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.

Yves Rocher France

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.

Sasha Exeter - Yves Rocher

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.

Sasha Exeter - Yves Rocher

One of the private cabin’s inside the Yves Rocher concept store’s Beauty Spa

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.  

Sasha Exeter - Yves Rocher

Yves Rocher Olfactory Wall of Fame. The brand works with some of the best in today’s fragrance industry to help create their signature scents

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.

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.

Monsieur Yves Rocher’s childhood home where the brand first launched

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…

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.

Chef Gilles Le Gallès at La Grée des Landes

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.

Sasha Exeter - Yves Rocher Canada

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.

To shop or learn more, visit YvesRocher.com

My Botanical Skincare Regimen with Yves Rocher

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 

Holiday Glam Inspired Beauty at Rexall

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.

Rexall Inspired Beauty

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.

Rexall Inspired Beauty

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.

Rexall Inspired Beauty

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.

Rexall Inspired Beauty

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.

Rexall Inspired BeautyPhotography 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!

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