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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!

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 

Beauty Review | Simple Skincare On The Go

photo-73

I am officially into the swing of outdoor running season and the temperatures here in the city are finally starting to rise, which means a lot more sweating and clogged pores. Over the last couple months I have been busy with tons of photo shoots, fitness activations, run groups and such so it is extremely important for me to take good care of my skin to avoid unwanted breakouts. My skin is sensitive and prone to acne if I don’t keep my pores clean. I can admit that I have been guilty a few times of leaving makeup on prior to a run and paid the cost for the makeup and sweat seeping into my pores the next day.

I have gotten smart and armed myself with the right skincare arsenal that I now keep on hand in my bag when I am heading to the gym or to run club. These simple (no pun intended) things have helped not only keep unnecessary pimples and zits at bay but have also help to improve my skin. If you’re like me and are into all-natural products that still do the work of other cleansers/makeup removers, you will love Simple Skincare’s Cleansing Micellar Water. It contains the perfect blend of multi-vitamins and super gentle cleansers to help clean the skin while simultaneously removing makeup. With no parabens, artificial colours, scents, perfumes or chemicals that could be harsh on skin. Whether I have makeup on or not, I like to use Simple’s Cleaning Facial Wipes first to remove excess oil, dirt and makeup, then my go-to exfoliating face wash followed by the Micellar Water.

Cleansing Micellar Water

How To Use

  1. Apply a liberal amount of the Cleansing Micellar Water to a cotton ball or pad
  2. Gently rub the cotton ball/pad all over your face
  3. Softly wipe over closed eyes and make sure to not get any of the product in your eyes

There is no rinsing necessary which makes this the perfect cleansing product when you’re on the go. In addition to using these products topically on my skin, I also like to make sure that I am drinking plenty of water as well. In order to help me get my average daily intake, I like to infuse it  with either cucumbers or lemons. The latter is good as a detoxifier, which are also great for the skin. For more information on the Cleansing Micellar Water and to view the entire Simple Skincare product line, head to SimpleSkincare.ca

Garnier Colour Styler | Intense Colours, No Strings Attached

Garnier Colour Styler

Ombre made it’s trend setting debut a few years ago and since then I have heard terms like “chambre”, “sombre” and “bombre” used to describe the severity, or subtleness if you will, of the transitional hair colour. What may come as a surprise to most of you, I have never had another colour other than my own natural dark brown/black. To be completely honest, I have always worried that dyeing would damage my hair, feared that the colours I loved on other people wouldn’t match my skin tone, and was petrified of the long term commitment. 2014 has been a year of many firsts for me, so I thought it was finally time to try something new and bold with my hair.

Thanks to Garnier, I have been able to add dramatic colour to my locks with “Color Styler“, an easy to use, intense wash-out colour treatment. I did have my reservations at first, wondering if this product would work on “Black/African American” textured hair.  However, I did my research and discovered this innovative colorant is equipped with a special colour-coat technology that covers each strand of hair with in a thin coat, without actually penetrating the hair fiber. This enables the colour to be easily washed out without causing any unnecessary damage to the hair. Armed with this knowledge, I was ready to have some fun and experiment with one of the industry’s latest trends.

Kylie Jenner Blue Dip Dye

The inspiration for my hair makeover was Kylie Jenner. Yes…surprising I know, but there is something about her blue dip-dyed locks that I love. Also, I was sure that my new hair would be sure to stand out amongst a crowd as most women are leaning more towards darker tones for the fall and winter months. Using Color Styler was incredibly easy and probably only took me 25 minutes to complete the entire process. The product is meant to be used on dry hair and requires no waiting or rinsing – ummmm bonus! I literally just sectioned pieces of my hair and applied the “Blue Burst” colour cream with my fingertips using only half the bottle’s contents. Once I had penetrated the entire desired area, I used a blow dryer to to expedite the drying process, combed through, added a tiny drop of hair serum, then flat ironed my hair to give it a sleek look.

Garnier Color Styler

In addition to being damage and commitment free (Color Styler has an average hold of 2 shampoos but can have a longer wear depending on hair type and quantity applied), I was really surprised to discover that the colour doesn’t rub off or stain clothes. I had fully anticipated my pillow case would be blue when I woke up the next morning. Needless to say, I was pleased that my Frette linen remained crispy white throughout the night. Here’s my big hair reveal last night at the Thom Browne event at The Room inside Hudson’s Bay:

Garnier Color Styler

Garnier Color Styler is available in 5 shades; Pink Pop, Blue Burst, Purple Mania, Red Temptation and Bronze Attitude and can be currently found in drugstores and most mass market retailers across Canada for only $10.49 CDN. I’m so obsessed with my hair right now I want to give two lucky followers a chance to win my Color Styler by Garnier contest. Entering is easy, all you need to do is tweet “@SashaExeter I want to try a bold new hair colour with @GarnierCan’s #ColorStyler” or comment under the post on my Facebook page here to enter. Contest begins Wednesday November 5th and ends Wednesday November 12th at 10pm EST. The winner of the contest will be announced on November 13th at 10am EST via Twitter and Facebook. *Contest open to Canadian residents only* – Good Luck!!!!!

My Dermalogica Little Grey Pass Journey to Flaunt Boutique

Dermalogica Little Grey Pass

My journey to great skin with Dermalogica Canada began this past summer when I became a Brand Ambassador. I wasted no time in introducing the company’s cult fave products into my skincare regime and also started regular Dermalogia facial treatments. During my ambassadorship, my primary job has been to try out the brand’s Little Grey Pass program and share my experience with all of you. Essentially, for those of you who want to participate in the program, you will get a unique opportunity to try out some of the city’s best spas and enjoy personalized facial treatments with Dermalogica products.  My first post was on my visit to Jiva Spa & Salon, which can be found here if you missed it. My introductory facial was so amazing, I actually went back to Jiva for another one to get red carpet ready for the Toronto International Film Festival.

Last week it was time to get my second stamp on my Dermalogica passport and it couldn’t have come at a better time. After a summer of sweaty half marathon training followed by unwelcomed colder temperatures due to the change of season, I was in dire need of some skin TLC. Turns out, I was in the most capable of hands with the lovely Tamara Vault, the Dermalogica expert at Flaunt Boutique; a chic and industrial inspired beauty salon in Toronto’s Lesliville neighbourhood. After a quick face mapping diagnosis, Tamara identified some pigmentation issues around my hairline, which she credits to not evenly applying my sunscreen, some dehydration spots under my eyes, some sensitivity around the cheek area and comedones on both the chin and cheek area. In case you are unfamiliar with the term “comedone”, it simply refers to the bumps on the skin that are a result of a clogged pore. The pore could be partially or fully blocked, which causes the formation of either a blackhead or whitehead. As I wrote this post it sounded like there are a ton of issues, but I promise you my skin has seriously come a long way since I started back in July. I attribute this improvement to regularly using Dermalogica’s Sebum Clearing Masque, which is an oil absorbing masque that not only detoxifies skin but also prevents breakouts. The salicylic acid has been helping with the natural exfoliation that I was in desperate need of to clear all the congestion from my pores. Also, a dramatic increase in water has also been very beneficial.

Flaunt Boutique

I showed up to my appointment sans makeup so Tamara could delve right into my deep cleansing face treatment, which began with a gentle facial massage using the Pre-Cleanse, which was followed by the Skin Resurfacing Cleanser. Once my face was clean, Tamara expertly mixed one of my fave’s, the Daily Micro Exfoliant with accelerator 35 and a purifying botanical mixer. Of course you can’t get optimal cleansing without extractions – which is not my favourite part of getting facials.  During this process a scaling fluid was used with the Medi Bac Cleansing Complex. This step was intensified with the use of a high frequency wand. This device works by delivering an alternating high frequency electric current to the skin. Both thermal and electrical energy are delivered when the wand makes contact with the skin. This energy stimulates underlying skin collagen, cells and amazingly kills any bacteria by providing oxidized Oxygen, all helping the skin to rebound quickly after all the extractions.

After further calming my skin with a colloidal oatmeal Multi Vitamin Power Recovery Masque with a calming botanical mixer and yet another blissful massage – yes massage #2 – my face was rinsed and treated with the Daily Resurfacer, UltraCalming Mist, Multi Vitamin Power Firm, UltraCalming Serum Concentrate and Active MoistAs you can probably imagine, my skin felt hydrated, super clean and taunt. Not to mention, I was relaxed and super calm after the much needed rub down from Tamara, great music and candles. Post appointment, I had an evening full of events and she was kind enough to apply the brand’s SkinPerfect Primer, which worked wonders. It gave my skin a flawless, even tone after I applied my make-up, which stayed put for the entire night. And if that’s not enough, Tamara hooked me up with a private station so I can straighten my hair before walking out the door.

Dermalogica Little Grey Pass

The extensive and customized “Deep Cleansing Face Treatment” lasts just over an hour and costs $90, which I guarantee will be the best 90 bucks you’ve ever spent. Your skin will thank you! For more information on Dermalogica and their products, head over to www.dermalogica.ca and click here to sign up for the Little Grey Pass and start your own journey to amazing skin. For more info on Flaunt Boutique, details on their services and more, check out www.flauntboutique.ca.

Achieve Great Skin With Dermalogica’s “Little Grey Pass”

Dermalogica Little Grey Pass

As much as I love fashion, I truly believe that there is no better accessory than great skin. Like many other women out there, from time to time I experience some skin related issues due to stress, menstration, environmental factors, diet, excessive sweating, etc, all of which is happening to me currently may I add. Over the last little while I been doing extensive research on Skin Mapping, which is a form of skin analysis that helps to identify and understand the causes of acne breakouts and spots. In a previous skin care post (which you can view here),  I discussed how our skin mirrors what’s going on inside the body.  It’s extremely interesting to be able to diagnose some of our internal health related issues based on the location of acne on our face and body. If like me, you’re on the quest for skin perfection, Dermalogica’s “Little Grey Pass” may be just the right program for you. This unique opportunity allows pass holders to try some of Toronto’s spas and enjoy personalized skin care treatments with Dermalogica products at each location.

Dermalogica Little Grey Pass

Last week I hit up  Jiva Spa Toronto  for my very first appointment as a Dermalogica Brand Ambassador. Jiva is a a unique spa and salon that not only focuses on beauty and hair but specializes in nutritional services as well, allowing them to make their clients gorgeous from the inside-out. After chatting with their amazing Dermalogica specialist Neetu, my diagnoses on my current skin issues were confirmed after she did a once over on my face. Due to excessive sweating from exercise, dehydration, and a possible hormone imbalance, Neetu got to work creating a treatment specifically made for me using the brand’s Pre-Cleanse, Special Cleansing Gel, Daily Microfoliant, Sebum Cleaning MasqueMulti Active Toner, and Oil Control Lotion. With my skin being under duress, I was advised that the sebum cleansing masque and microfoliant were going to be key in getting my skin to where I want it to be.

Jiva Spa Salon

Interested in obtaining a “Little Grey Pass” for yourself? It’s easy, head over to Greypass.Dermalogica.ca/Register. Once you receive your pass, you will gain a stamp for each 1 hour Dermalogica skin treatment you purchase (one stamp per location). When you have collected four stamps, you will receive the brand’s cult fave product, the Special Cleansing Gel, valued at $52.50. Want to continue your experience…? If you collect six stamps, you receive the Pre-Cleanse and award-winning Daily Microfoliant, valued at $69.30. In order to receive your gifts, simply mail your card to Dermalogica’s head office and your gift(s) will be sent out to you. Stay tuned for more on my skin care journey with Dermalogica – for additional information on the company, products and program, head to Dermalogica.ca. *Please note, only residents of Toronto and Vancouver are eligible to register!

 

Beauty Review: Moroccanoil Body Collection

Moroccan Oil Body Products

I remember quite clearly when I was introduced to Moroccanoil hair products many moons ago thinking that their Argan Oil based miracle hair serum was the greatest thing since sliced bread. A couple of weeks ago I received a surprise package from the angels at Moroccanoil which contained the Hand Cream, Cleansing Bar and Shower Gel from the brand’s expertly curated body line – made up of propriety ingredient blends and innovative technology.

Hand Cream – 125 ml $28

moroccanoil hand cream

Dry hands throughout the day is one of my biggest pet peeves, so I am never without hand cream in my bag. This hand cream mixes antioxidant rich Argan and Avocado Oils, in addition to Cocoa, Shea and Mango Butters, to make a heavenly concoction to not only repair dry hands, but sharpen nails and soften cuticles.  Softly fragranced with the scent of Moroccanoil, this hand cream is suitable for all skin types and leaves hands supple and soft without leaving them greasy.

Cleansing Bar – 110g $10

moroccan oil cleansing barMost soap bars are harsh and lack moisture causing skin to dry out but the Moroccanoil Cleansing Bar is a mild cleanser with lush Shea Butter and of course Argan Oil  that is gentle enough for daily use for all skin types. There are a couple other key ingredients such as Glycerin; a humectant that helps increase skin’s elasticity and long lasting moisture and Talc from Luzenac; a natural mineral that helps control body perspiration help makes this Mediterranean scented soap so effective.

Shower Gel – 200 ml $26

Moroccan Oil Shower Gel

So far the Moroccanoil Shower Gel is my fave from the line and it has made my morning showers so much more enjoyable. The rich gel is packed with ultra hydrating ingredients and although its concentrated, it is still mild enough for all skin types. The Argan Oil and Glyercin improves skin elasticity, tone, texture while adding a ton of moisture. The smell is intoxicating – in a good way and leaves me feeling ultra refreshed and ready to start my day. For best results, apply a dime size amount to a shower poof and work into a lather. Rinse off with warm water.

Moroccanoil body products are currently available for sale at luxe spas, fine salons nationwide and at Ben and Tournesol in Montreal. For more information on the rest of the products in the line, visit www.moroccanoil.com

Schwarzkopf Professional OSIS+ BLOW & GO Duo

Schwarzkopf OSIS Blow & Go

On the days I decide to wear my hair straight, which is more often than not, I prefer the bone straight look and yes it can be a pain to achieve and maintain I won’t lie. The blow drying and flat ironing process can be excruciating and prolonged exposure of heat to your tresses can also be harmful to your hair’s health. Alas, the OSIS+ team strikes again with two products that promise to dramatically reduce blow drying time and leave your hair voluminously thick or sleek and  smooth.

BLOW & GO “Thick” Blow Dry Spray

Schwarzkopf Osis Blow And Go Thick  200ml RED LABEL

This leave-in blow dry spray is perfect for fine, limp hair that’s in dire need of some assistance achieving extra volume. It also adds light styling control to your look which is great however I did find that it left a tiny bit of residue to my hair but it was almost worth it with the body and shine it added. My hair is already pretty thick so I don’t actually require to much volume but it is fun to have the option when I want rejuvenating voluminous Victoria Secret hair.

How To Use It: Divide hair into sections and spray evenly into hair. Create added volume by blow drying roots upwards. Blow dry and style your hair with either a round brush or paddle, depending on hair type. FYI…for my type of hair I CANNOT use a round brush and must defer to the paddle.

*Secret Tip: I have experimented with this spray on my hair when it’s curly and when applied on wet hair in conjunction with Schwarzkopf Professional OSIS’s Curl Me Soft cream, it gives me extra voluminous curls.

BLOW & GO “Smooth” Blow Dry Spray

Schwarzkopf Professional Osis Blow and Go Smooth-200

This is the wonder spray for anyone that has mild to ultra frizzy hair or wears extensions and wants to achieve hair that’s super smooth and sleek. It’s actually amazing at combating frizz so I would be really surprised if this isn’t one of OSIS’s top sellers. This product would be brilliant during the summer months when warmer, humid weather causes my hair to become a bit unruly.

How To Use It:  Divide hair into sections and spray evenly into hair. Blow dry the hair in a downwards motion with a flat, paddle brush which I find works well on all hair hypes.

*Secret Tip: I’ve been using this spray with the brand’s Flat Liner spray that I apply to my hair after blow drying and right before flat ironing for an effortless, ultra sleek look.

The verdict…each spray reduced my blow drying time down by about 8-10 minutes, leaving me to only suffer through this tedious process for about 20-25 minutes prior to flat ironing. In my opinion, I preferred the Blow & Go “Smooth” product and loved how it worked so well with the other OSIS products for straight hair. Click here for more information on the Blow & Go Duo sprays. Both can be found at a Schwarzkopf Professional Salon near you!

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