Friday, January 18, 2019

Teaology Tea Infusion Skincare

I used to be one of those people who only drank tea when I was ill or attending a fancy shmancy high tea party with lots of cakes, sandwiches and fresh scones topped with scrumptious Devonshire cream. The loose leaves remind me of the forest floor with a random mixture of twigs, seeds and unidentified plant particles.

Recently I’ve decided to go on a tea testing mission to try interesting new flavors and nutritious blends. I’m happy to report that I’ve found some all-natural decadent dessert brews that I love including red velvet cake, caramel shortbread and wintery mint chocolate! Another way I’m infusing the benefits of tea into my healthy lifestyle is by using Teaology Skincare. The brand launched in Canada last year and the cruelty free, vegan products have quickly become some of my favorite beauty essentials!


With Teaology you are getting the most powerful concentration of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals with 100% tea, 0% water and no parabens, mineral oil, sulfates, synthetic colors or chemicals. The company specializes in black, blue, green and white teas for energizing, hydrating, brightening, purifying, exfoliation, anti-aging and firming. The potent formulas also fight cell oxidation and free radical damage responsible for wrinkles.

I’ve been using the White Tea Miracle Drops ($49.00) for almost a year and it has become my go-to revitalizing treatment for the face and neck. This silky elixir absorbs in seconds with no greasy residue and drenches skin in peptides and vitamin C. I use it morning and night under makeup or moisturizer to balance, brighten, refresh, tone, smooth and transform my complexion. It also has an anti-aging complex that boosts your youthful glow.


The Rose Tea Hyaluronic Moisturizing Cream ($55.00) with black tea infusion is a must this winter. The velvety texture instantly alleviates dryness, itching, discomfort, sensitivity and tightness so skin feels incredibly silky. Ginseng and antioxidants improve the look of blemishes while plumping, softening, lifting and supporting cell renewal as you get your beauty sleep.


To get rid of flaky skin, ashy elbows, calloused feet, dry hands and bumpy knees, try the Green Tea Reshaping Body Scrub ($64.00). The exfoliating salts and black tea leaves are submerged in a luxurious blend of essential oils that leave skin supple, smooth and rejuvenated. Mix the scrub thoroughly and massage onto clean skin after showering. The granules buff away rough patches while the extracts nourish and moisturize all day. 


Since I experience allergic reactions to green tea (when ingested or used on my face) I decided to give the Nourishing & Smoothing Matcha Miracle Face and Neck Mask ($9.95) to my mom. The concentrated serum is infused with real matcha tea, antioxidants, argan oil and omega 6 to improve elasticity, diminish small wrinkles, tone and lift – similar to a professional spa treatment. The fabric adheres like a second skin to facilitate the absorption of ingredients without evaporation so you see instant results.


The Jasmine Tea Firming Body Cream ($59.00) has a rich velvety texture that envelops skin in hyaluronic acid, shea butter and firming ingredients that combat slackening and improve elasticity. This formula also contains green tea extract but I can use it on my body without irritation. The fragrance is amazing and I love the long-lasting moisture.


There is nothing better than sinking into a hot bath at the end of a long day and the Green Tea Detoxing and Reshaping Salt can be sprinkled in water for a lipo-reducing, purifying effect. As you soak your stress away, centella asiatica extract (also used to treat cellulite) has a draining effect that releases toxins from tissue.


If you haven’t tried anything from Teaology I highly recommend the creams and serums. For more information visit teaologyskincare.ca

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Shea Moisture 100% Virgin Coconut Oil Daily Hydration Collection | Hair Care Review

Coconuts are some of the most nutritious, multi-purpose fruits on the planet and have gained the honorary status of “superfood.”  I use coconut oil for cooking, skincare, oil pulling/oral health, smoothies, baking and so much more! They taste delicious, nourish our bodies from the inside out and can help lower cholesterol, kill bacteria, increase fat burning, enhance cognitive functioning and improve digestive health.

The rich fats also fortify and repair damaged hair while alleviating scalp itch and moisturizing fraying ends. Shea Moisture has made it easy to incorporate 100% virgin coconut oil in my beauty routine without having to melt it or deal with a greasy mess.


This collection is certified organic and infused with an ultra-hydrating blend of aloe, rosehip, argan oil, algae extract and shea butter. I love the tropical scent and you don’t have to worry about sulfates, parabens, mineral oil, phthalates, or petroleum.

The Daily Hydration Shampoo ($19.99) foams into a rich lather that gently cleanses without harsh soaps. It removes product build up, excess oil, dust, dirt and environmental debris while leaving hair soft, clean and manageable. The gentle formula does not strip or cause brittleness so you can use it frequently without compromising the hair fiber, depleting too much sebum or irritating the scalp.


The Daily Hydration Conditioner ($19.99) saturates parched strands in luscious moisture that helps detangle, reduce frizz, smooth, soften and boost shine for a silky finish. Leave it on for a few minutes to enhance absorption and allow the oils and extracts to work their magic. The revitalizing formula combats breakage, spit-ends, harsh weather and mild heat damage but you might need to apply a generous amount if your hair is long, thick, curly or very dry. I also use it to co-wash because the light cream refreshes without limpness or weight.


If your hair needs extra moisture this season, make sure to try the Daily Hydration Leave-In Treatment ($17.99). Spray it on damp hair or use it to revive curls and air dry naturally. You can also apply it before heat styling to protect from thermal damage. The lightweight coconut formula tames unruly ends and frizzy flyaways so hair feels supple, healthy and replenished with no greasiness.


Shea Moistures is available at Walmart Canada

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Rodial Dragon’s Blood Skincare Review

People slather a lot of weird stuff on their face in an effort to reduce visible aging and maintain a clear complexion. I’ve tried snail slime and even plant based placenta masks but Dragon’s Blood isn’t quite what is seems. This odd sounding extract is actually harvested from tree sap and used to smooth wrinkles, calm redness, plump, firm, heal and reduce inflammation. It is also high in hyaluronic acid and antioxidants that fortify skin’s natural moisture barrier, protect against environmental aggressors and alleviate irritation.


Rodial’s Dragon Blood Cleansing Water ($45.00) is a gentle micelle solution for the face and eyes. Use it to remove makeup and impurities, brighten, tone, hydrate and refresh. The rose water complex is infused with vitamins and gentle cleansers that purify pores and eliminate excess oil, dirt and pollutants. Makeup artists, busy moms and avid travelers will love the convenient pump bottle and no-rinse formula.


One of my new travel essentials to combat dry aircraft cabins, harsh weather and jetlag, is the Dragon’s Blood Essence Mist ($52.00). This lightweight invigorating spray deeply nourishes parched skin and has intelligent ingredients that react to sun exposure and adjust to your individual needs. During the day it visibly improves skin’s appearance, primes for makeup application and supports cell defense against the elements. At night it rejuvenates, boosts elasticity, supports collagen, soothes and improves uneven skin tone. The bottle contains 100 ml (the maximum amount of liquid per container allowed on airplanes) so I keep it in my carry-on and spritz generously during long flights.


Although I have a lot of great lip balms, the cold weather makes it difficult to keep my pout adequately moisturized. The Dragon’s Blood Lip Masks ($7.00 each or $45.00 for a box of 8) have a rich bio-cellulose, hyaluronic acid complex that plumps, smooths, softens, protects and restores chapped skin for younger looking lips.


I usually start with light exfoliation/lip scrub, apply the mask for 15 minutes and follow-up with an ultra nourishing treatment like the Rodial Reshape and Rejuvenate Lip Balm. The 24K gold boosts collagen production, improves firmness and conditions with a blend of shea butter and rose extract. 


Your hands can be a telltale sign of age and nothing ruins a pretty mani like dryness and crusty cuticles. The Rose Gold Hand Cream comes in a set with the lip balm for just $40.00 and the non-greasy formula firms, smooths wrinkles, enhances radiance, dulls imperfections and hydrates rough skin and brittle nails with powerful peptides.

Rodial Beauty is available at Shoppers Drug Mart and online at beauty.shoppersdrugmart.ca

Friday, January 11, 2019

The Organic Skin Co Makeup Review: Lip Service Lipstick

At the beginning of a new year I avoid making unrealistic resolutions that I’ll probably give up on in a few weeks. Healthy living is an ongoing journey that can be difficult in a world full of synthetic substances, pollution and stress. I make a contentious effort to improve my diet and break bad habits but sometimes it’s easier to start with small changes like drinking more water, taking the stairs, eating more veggies or using natural beauty products.

What you put on your body eventually ends up in your body so Organic Skin Co has created a variety of cruelty-free, vegan makeup and skincare infused with amazing ingredients. What makes this New Zealand brand so unique is their process of Supercritical Extraction - a method of harvesting plant nutrients in the purest way possible. The herbs and emollients are extremely concentrated (up to 50 times stronger than conventional extracts) so they deliver the full spectrum of nature’s benefits straight to your skin!


If that wasn’t good enough, the lipsticks are loaded with nourishing Calendula and Rosemary to condition, soften and smooth dry skin with no harsh fragrances or chemical aftertaste. The gentle formula is also free of parabens, gluten, talc and other irritating additives to keep your pout healthy and protected.


I don’t usually go for neutrals but Zen is a deep chocolate-y brown that accentuates my lips without washing me out. The finish is sheer, soft and natural.


The vibrant colors are lightweight, comfortable and buildable with a semi-matte satin finish that makes lips appear luscious! The texture feels more like a moisturizing balm, bathing parched skin in rich nutrients without feathering or transferring to teeth. Since the pigments provide sheer to medium coverage, it may take a few layers to achieve bold saturation but the healing formula keeps my lips supple, plump and replenished.

The Lip Service Collection includes 12 gorgeous shades but I chose my favorites – Ruby Red, Galaxy and Flame which has a subtle metallic sheen. These hues look ravishing on all skin tones and are perfect for all occasions.


If you’re looking for a classic pink, Blossom is stunning!


Swatches from left to right: Zen, Ruby Red, Flame, Galaxy and Blossom.

The company ships worldwide and also sells concealer, luminizer, blush, foundation, eye shadow, mascara and more! Visit the website at theorganicskinco.com.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

5 Hydrating Cleansers for Dry Sensitive Skin

During the winter it can be difficult to stay hydrated and prevent dry skin, especially when many face washes contain harsh ingredients that deplete moisture and cause discomfort. Applying rich creams or nourishing serum is helpful, but cleansing is crucial for eliminating impurities. If your skin has been flaky, irritated or a little rough this season, I've rounded-up 5 gentle formulas that may help replenish and calm sensitivity.


1. Rodial Pink Diamond Cleansing Balm ($59.00)
I’ve been using Rodial’s makeup and skincare for years and their products never disappoint! This luxurious cleansing balm is enriched with Vitamin E, Sweet Almond Oil and Rice Germ Oil to soothe, dissolve makeup, remove dirt, minimize fine lines, fade blemishes, reduce inflammation, eliminate sebum and rejuvenate. It also contains diamond powder to brighten and comes with a muslin cloth for exfoliation. The lightweight formula abolishes all traces of full-coverage foundation/concealer and lathers into a milk that rinses clean. (Available at Murale, Shoppers Drug Mart and beauty.shoppersdrugmart.ca)


2. Eve Lom Cleanser ($105.00)
This bestselling balm has simplified my skincare routine by combining natural ingredients and powerful cleaners that vanquish waterproof formulas, long-lasting pigments and even stubborn lipstick stains. The botanical scent it quite strong because the balm contains Egyptian Chamomile, Eucalyptus Oil, Clove Oil and Hops Oil to smooth, soften, decongest pores, lift away pollutants and even skin tone without sulfates or phthalates. I love how the rich texture melts in and soothes sensitive skin while gently exfoliating and purifying to help prevent breakouts. (Available at Sephora).


3. Pai Camellia & Rose Gentle Hydrating Cleanser ($76.00)
If you’re suffering from parched, blemish prone skin, Pai’s cream cleanser is bursting with Omegas 6 and 9, vitamins and luscious butters that replenish your moisture barrier and balance pH. The cleanser is gentle on delicate skin and can be used around the eyes to remove stubborn mascara, liner and eye shadow with no stinging, irritation or greasiness. It also comes with a double-textured muslin cloth - one side for exfoliation and the other for sensitive areas. After a long day at work this cleanser quickly emulsifies makeup leaving my skin supple and silky. (Available at beauty.shoppersdrugmart.ca)


4. L’Occitane Pivoine Sublime Petal Cleansing Oil ($19.50)
If you look closely you will see that L’Occitane’s Oil Cleanser has real peony petals floating around in the velvety liquid. The hydrating formula glides across the skin to refresh and soften while obliterating makeup and dirt without clogging pores. The calming blend leaves skin revitalized, moisturized and glowing! (Available at L’Occitane boutiques and ca.loccitane.com)


5. Pixi Beauty Double Cleanse ($34.00)
If you aren’t double cleansing yet you should start immediately! Rinsing with face wash alone or using a makeup wipe is not enough to remove all the gunk that builds up in your pores throughout the day. Think about it this way – the initial cleanse removes most of the surface stuff and helps break down the oily layer that prevents cleanser from penetrating. Once that barrier has been dissolved, dirt, makeup and sunscreen can be effectively eliminated. Pixi’s Double Cleanse comes with a solid oil and a lightweight cream infused with vitamins and healing emollients that protect and alleviate discomfort caused by dryness. (Available at beauty.shoppersdrugmart.ca).


Friday, January 4, 2019

Huda Beauty Desert Dusk Palette: Review & Swatches

The last time I purchased an eye shadow palette or went on a makeup shopping spree was about 6 years ago. I don’t usually ask my family for cosmetic gifts because beauty brands send me products to review on a daily basis but this Christmas my sister bought me the Desert Dusk Palette because the colors are gorgeous!


I added this compact to my holiday wish-list because I’ve never tried anything from Huda Beauty (despite having worked with hundreds of popular brands) and the sultry Arabian nights theme is right up my alley. At $85.00 this palette can be considered high-end and contains 18 mesmerizing shadows that range from buttery matte, metallic shimmer, pressed pearl, duo chrome and glitter.

The glamorous pigments can be worn day or night and I love the coppery sunset effect.

I appreciate a variety of versatile finishes but some of these shadows are sheer overlays with minimal coverage. Cosmo - the bronzy glitter at the bottom, is chunky, flaky and messy with little adhesion and lots of fallout. Twilight - the iridescent silvery purple with blue glitter and Retrograde are also very sparse and appear more prominent when layered over Amethyst. Celestial is a sheer golden shimmer that can be enhanced when applied over a solid shade like Blood Moon. For the price of this palette I expect amazing saturation from every shade and these 4 are a bit disappointing on their own.


The other shadows are stunning and extremely pigmented. I’m obsessed with Royal, Turkish Delight, Angelic and Blood Moon which all have a rich velvety texture that glides on effortlessly. The full-coverage shades can also be layered, mixed and matched to create custom colors that really pop.

Usually palettes have too many neutrals in the cream or beige spectrum but Desert Dusk has the perfect balance of rich mattes to compliment the bold shimmers. The texture is dry and slightly rough (definitely not as creamy as expected) but they blend well to create contrast and crease definition. 


Although there is room for improvement and shade substitutions, this palette is magnificent! If I am ever interested in acquiring another Huda Beauty bestseller I will probably swatch it first, but overall Desert Dusk is very usable.


You can find this beauty at Sephora and shophudabeauty.com

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Hong Kong Travel Guide

After touring Shanghai, Singapore, Bangkok and Phuket (Thailand) we ended our trip in one of China’s densely populated financial hubs – Hong Kong. We only had 3 days to explore but the city was everything I expected – exciting, fast-paced, crowded and a bit overwhelming.


The ride to Hotel COZi in Kowloon was interesting. We passed large ship yards, beautiful bridges and a sea of tall, tightly packed residential buildings with barely a sliver of daylight between them. The pedestrian and vehicular traffic is a constant chaotic stream and your senses are bombarded by dazzling sights, sounds and foreign scents.

If you read about my odd experience with the locals in Shanghai you’ll understand why I was a bit weary of visiting another Chinese metropolis. Fortunately my time in Hong Kong was not unusual or intrusive since people seemed less surprised by our presence. No one pushed, shoved or cut lines nor did I have to defend myself against jostling elbows or strangers pressed up against me on the subway.

After settling in we decided to head downtown and visit Hong Kong’s version of Time Square. Like most city centers this area has many stores, billboards, lights, tourists attractions and restaurants. If you’re in the mood for a little retail therapy the Time Square Mall is an impressive labyrinth of shops and escalators that ascend 16 floors. Admittedly we got a bit lost looking for pizza and ended up wandering around aimlessly.


Finding palatable food in Hong Kong wasn’t as challenging as it was in Shanghai so the first night we had dinner at Little Vegas - a colorful American themed restaurant. You’re probably wondering why I didn't dive into the local cuisine with chopsticks in-hand but I’m not very adventurous with food. I enjoy a diverse range of ethnic dishes but I’m not a fan of most meat or seafood and wasn’t about to munch on the pig heads or ducks hanging in restaurant windows.


The street food was definitely...interesting. I saw butchers chopping up what can only be described as some sort of animal innards, all sorts of dumplings, dried insects, medicinal mushrooms, noodles submerged in unidentified broths and crustaceans swimming in murky tanks. I chose restaurants carefully after spotting large (extremely brave) cockroaches chilling on the sidewalk without a care in the world but I did try the fresh ice cream waffles. My husband loved the abundance of natural fruit juice and to avoid popping Immodium like Tic Tacs, fried rice is relatively safe. If you aren't a picky eater go on a culinary quest to tantalize your taste buds with exotic flavor. Eating seems like a popular pastime in Hong Kong.


If you’re only in town a short time, I highly recommend visiting Nan Lian Garden. This lush little oasis nestled in the foothills of sprawling skyscrapers is a peaceful escape from the chaos and crowds. As you stroll along manicured paths or relax by the beautiful coy pond, calming music soothes your soul. The garden may be small but it is one of the most serene parks I’ve ever visited.




Before hopping on the Star Ferry to cross the river, make sure to stop at the luxury shopping center by the pier. Even if you aren’t in the market for something extravagant, the sleek European architecture and elegant shops are a nice contrast to the clustered dilapidated buildings and noisy markets in the inner city.


On the other side of the river you will notice even more architectural contrast as glass skyscrapers loom overhead in the financial district. 



If you arrive in the morning when the weather is nice and the lines are manageable, jump on a tram to Victoria Peak – the highest hill on Hong Kong Island. You can catch a bus from the pier to the tram terminal or simply walk uphill as we did. The steep ride through the trees is breathtaking!


At the top observation deck the panoramic view is impressive! Marvel at the expansive city sprouting up along the river, snap some Instagram-worthy photos and browse the shops for souvenirs.


Back at the pier we stopped to have lunch and explore the parks, monuments and boardwalk before heading back across the river.




After touring all day I was quite lethargic but we soldiered on to Nathan Road and Temple Street Night Market for some last minute shopping and dinner at Bombay Indian Restaurant. The market is open daily from 5 pm – 11 pm with countless stalls that sell everything from clothing, antiques, jewelry and electronics.


Most travel websites also recommended Stanley Market located outside of the city on the island’s south coast. Getting there requires a long (boring) bus ride and if you’re short on time I suggest skipping it. The clothing, furniture and knick-knacks seem old and flimsy (like they’ve been sitting in the sun for years) and the knock-off designer bags (which I’m not a fan of) are cheaply made. I did find some beautiful pashimna scarves and nice artwork but not much else. Don't be afraid to haggle since shop keepers often inflate prices.


Overall I had a great time in China. It was a bit of a culture shock but isn’t that the whole point of traveling? To experience, understand and appreciate places and traditions unlike your own while making an effort to learn and grow as a person. If everywhere on earth was exactly the same travelling would be redundant. I always try to venture out with an open mind and a willingness to try new things. The next time I’m in Asia I plan to explore Japan!

Check out my travel page HERE for more vacation inspiration!
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