Friday, August 10, 2018

The Best Crossbody Bags for Travel

I’m guilty of being one of those girls who stuffs her purse to the brim even though I lack the upper body strength to carry it. The other day I actually found 21 lipsticks in one tote (and yes, I’m aware of how bad that sounds) but thanks to a few multi-purpose crossbody bags, I’m de-cluttering and getting organized for my next big adventure.

I should warn you that this article may be a tad bias because two of the four bags are from Poppy & Peonies, a brand I’ve become totally obsessed with! Their collections are bright, fun, flirty, trendy and excellent quality like this beautiful purple crossbody from fall 2017. 


For obvious reasons crossbody bags are great for travel. They sling over your body with ease (hence the name) and can be positioned in front of you for quick access and pick-pocket protection. It is important to keep money and travel documents secure to deter lurking thieves, and these bags are difficult to snatch. 

One of the best things about the crossbody design is that it distributes weight and frees up your hands to take photos, sip cocktails and navigate like a boss. While waiting in long airport lines, there is less strain on my shoulder, back and arms plus the long adjustable strap makes lugging around all my stuff more comfortable. 

1. The Downtown Crossbody
The Poppy & Peonies Downtown Crossbody ($99.00) is a girl’s best friend! It is larger than most bags this style without being bulky and has lots of pockets with sturdy zippers and shiny gold accents. I love the removable tassels and while vacationing abroad it holds my tablet, digital camera, phone, wallet, touristy things and beauty essentials without busting a seam.


The snazzy zippered section around the perimeter is not just there to look stylish (although it totally does). It can be undone to expand the bag and give you more room. On the inside, the purse is divided into sections to keep everything neat and orderly plus I love the wide slip pockets for my phone and other quick-grab items. The front has a large semi-circle pocket secured with 2 heavy- duty zippers making it a perfect place for makeup, passports, and other valuables (yes I grouped makeup in with valuables). And if all that storage wasn’t good enough, you also get a deep button pouch at the back.


The craftsmanship of this bag looks high-end and the soft vegan leather feels amazing (you can just tell it will stand the test of time). It also comes with a shorter strap so you can covert the style and wear it over the shoulder. I use it for pretty much everything - work, running errands and even girl’s night out. This might very well be the perfect everyday crossbody bag.


On a side note, the Summer Beaded Flip Flops from Avon are also fantastic for jet-setting somewhere topical. The pool-ready platform sole is made of soft, cushiony foam and the geometric studs add a little glam.


2. The Everyday Cognac Crossbody
With autumn just around the corner, color trends will shift to rich shades and the Everyday Crossbody in Cognac ($99.00) is fashionable and practical. This is another uncommonly large, multi-purpose crossbody with the versatility to accommodate your busy life. It features built-in credit card slots and the same expandable outer zipper for a slight increase in size. Poppy & Peonies is all about functionality so they’ve designed this purse with deep pockets in various sizes to help you stay organized.


After you’ve done the touristy stuff it’s time to downsize your bag and experience the nightlife. Thankfully this beauty comes with a unique insert which you can use as a wristlet, clutch or mini crossbody by attaching the long strap. The inside is designed with several card compartments and a wide slip pocket for money so you can leave your bulky wallet at home. Sometimes the zipper sticks so glide it along gently.


 Poppy & Peonies is available online at poppyandpeonies.com.

3. Mark Tropics Leather Crossbody
When you need something cute and small, the Mark Tropics Leather Bag ($36.00 at avon.ca) is a great option. There is enough room for all the basics and I’ve worn it on date night, trips and to media events. I really like the simplicity; it has a few well placed pockets, adjustable strap and a pebbled finish, which is all you really need for an evening out.


4. Ooobaby Urban Bag
Going from smallest to largest, the Urban Bag ($498.00) transitions from office appropriate to tourist chic and some women even use it as a snazzy diaper bag or school tote. The expensive Italian leather is very durable with large outer pockets for an umbrella or water bottle. The inside features an interior key holder and enough space to store a laptop. I also like that the long, wide strap sits comfortably on the shoulder without pinching into my skin and as a crossbody it is ideal for city life. For more information visit the website at ooobaby.com

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Skincare & NEW Light Therapy Acne Spot Treatment

Before summer ends I want to be surrounded by swaying palm trees and sparkling beaches so I’m planning another vacation. If it’s going to be hot as hell with sweltering humidity I might as well be sipping sangria poolside instead of battling mid-day traffic. On my packing list you’ll find a few new products from Neutrogena because nothing ruins a cute photo like dry skin and a big old zit.


This season I’ve been cleansing more to keep my pores and complexion clear. The Pink Grapefruit Wipes ($8.99) eliminate dirt, pollutants, oil, sweat and makeup while treating and preventing breakouts and blackheads. The blast of citrus and Vitamin C refreshes without over-drying so skin feels purified and soft.


I usually wear foundation, concealer, eye shadow and long-wear waterproof formulas (even in the heat) so I always use face wash and toner/micelle water after wiping off my makeup. The Hydrating Gel Cleanser ($9.99 - $12.99) is infused with Hyaluronic Acid to rinse away impurities without depleting moisture and the gentle formula is free of soap, oil and parabens. The silky lather abolishes bacteria, sunscreen and sebum to keep skin bright and healthy.


All that fun in the sun always seems like a good idea until a few rashy looking bumps pop up on my skin followed by itching, redness and irritation (I’m more of a fall/winter person). To get rid of annoying bumps and zits I’ve been using the Light Therapy Acne Spot Treatment ($31.99). This portable little pen slips in any travel bag so I can whip it out on long, boring flights. Use it as soon as you feel a blemish forming under the skin – it is clinically proven to treat mild to moderate breakouts. I’ve been swirling it all over my face to get rid of anything that might be lurking under the surface but you can also hold it over specific spots to really zap the heck out of unsuspecting pimples. The blue light kills bacteria and fights free radicals while the red light heals inflammation and swelling. The device works with 1 AAA battery and unlike the Neutrogena Acne Mask you are not limited to a set number of treatments.


After cleansing and light therapy use the Hydro Boost Serum ($22.79) to quench thirsty skin and enhance your glow. The formula applies quite liquid-y but melts in with a supple finish to smooth, soften and plump. The scent isn’t my favorite (it reminds me of public restroom hand soap) but it isn’t offensive. I usually apply the serum under day or night cream for layers of rich moisture.


Thankfully I’m not dealing with wrinkles just yet but it is never too early for preventative measures and the Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Cream ($29.96 - $36.99) has created quite a buzz in the beauty community. This regenerating formula delivers Hyaluronic Acid in its highest concentration plus Rentinol to blur the look of deep wrinkles, crow’s feet, fine lines and sagging. It is also enriched with Vitamin A to visibly renew and a Glucose Complex to accelerate cell turnover and replenish. Some people may experience sensitivity to Rentinol so I suggest doing a patch test before using it on your face. In many cases the skin gradually adjusts to the ingredient and side effects subside.


Neutrogena is available at drugstores nationwide

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

How to Make Drinking Water More Enjoyable - Bubly Sparkling Water Review

When I attend shows, sporting events or parties, I notice that many people choose sodas to wash down their high calorie snacks. I’m all for indulging and treating yourself once in a while but the consumption of sugary drinks in Canada is on the rise and studies suggest that this could have a detrimental effect on healthcare.

Sugary beverages have been linked to an increase risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and tooth decay which is a good reason to kick the habit cold-turkey in favor of healthy alternatives. Aside from the occasional Canada Dry Ginger Ale to settle an upset tummy, I can’t recall the last time I guzzled down a can of pop.

On an average day I drink about 8 glasses of reverse osmosis water (which I buy at a specialty store) and I even have a fancy bottle that tracks my consumption and glows to remind me to drink more. Some days however, drinking water can seem like a chore and it’s difficult to drink one glass let alone eight. That’s where flavored water comes in. The carbonation satisfies my soda cravings while making me feel full and eat less.


Choosing a good sparkling water all comes down to:
*Natural flavor (artificial sweetener can taste disgusting and overpowering).
*Pureness - it still has to retain the health benefits of drinking actual water.
*Carbonation level – a nice bubbly zing!

PepsiCo. has recently launched a trendy new drink called Bubly – with no calories, artificial flavors or sweeteners. I tried the strawberry flavor because I’m not a fan of citrus, and it tastes pretty darn good!

Sparkling water can sometimes taste like Club Soda (plain and boring) so a splash of fruit can really set it apart from the rest. With Bubly I expected a burst of yummy strawberry but it is very subtle and there is no sweetness at all. If you aren’t a fan of sparkling water, Bubly's fun packaging may not be enough to convert you but I like it. The berry aftertaste is mild, natural and delicious, I just wish the flavor was stronger. 


The colorful cans definitely draw you in at the grocery and with refreshing flavors like lime, grapefruit and orange, Bubly helps keep you hydrated and happy. In the U.S. they’ve also released mango and cherry which would have been my first choice... we Canucks are always the last to get things. Bubly is available at grocery stores nationwide so pop a few in your cooler and hit the road this summer. 

I won’t write about all the sparkling water I’ve chugged (way too boring) but one of my favorites is Canada Pure Sparkling Black Cherry which is also available in blackberry and citrus flavors at Metro. It has 50 calories (not bad), 12 g of natural cane sugar and no artificial flavors or sodium. There isn’t quite as much carbonation but it tastes great!


I’ve also been trying to cut back on diet cola because I’m concerned about the controversy surrounding artificial sweeteners like Aspartame which always seems to be printed on the packaging as a warning. 

If you’re really pining for that cola taste (because let’s face it, the stuff is addicting), there are healthier options out there, you just have to look a little harder. I discovered this delicious zero calorie, cola at Metro with natural sweetener (no aspartame). It may cost a bit more but health food stores and organic markets also carry tasty alternatives.


In a quest to prevent dehydration I suggest testing as many sparkling brands as you can to find one that floats your boat.

Friday, August 3, 2018

L’Oréal Paradise Enchanted Collection - Review & Swatches

This long-weekend we are celebrating a civic holiday here in Canada which means we get an extra day to relax and enjoy the warm weather. Another way to embrace the tropical vibe of the season is with pretty makeup and L’Oreal’s Enchanted Paradise Collection is perfect for creating soft, fairy-tale looks. The formula is infused with delectable fruit fragrance that smells like peach bellini and the bold liner amps-up the neutral shadows to accentuate your eyes.


The Paradise Enchanted Eye Shadow Palette ($22.99) looks subtle and unassuming but the travel-friendly size, flattering hues and velvety texture makes this little compact a makeup bag essential. The creamy mattes and gorgeous metallic shimmers blend effortlessly and create beautiful contrast with no creasing or fading. A few of the neutrals are a bit boring but there is enough variety to take your look from day-to-night with excellent pigmentation.



The blush in this collection match the eye shadows and illuminate the face. Fantastical ($18.99) is a soft peach that looks great on all skin tones. The pigmentation is buildable so you can create a light flush or intensify the color with a few layers. I wish the texture was rich and buttery but the powder applies consistently without accentuating lines on the skin.


On my complexion Bashful ($18.99) looks more like a highlighter with a hint of radiant peach. I dust it over the coral blush to create a silky sheen.


The Liquid Eyeliner ($12.99) is available in black and rose gold with a long-wear waterproof formula that never lets you down (even on humid days). Say goodbye to raccoon eyes and hello to the perfect cat eye. The jet black lacquer dries evenly and stays put without running or smudging so you can draw any size line with ease. I love the glossy finish and the long, flexible applicator conforms to curves without skipping or dragging.


The Lash Paradise Primer ($11.99) is infused with rose oil to condition delicate hair and enhance mascara wear. Use it to help bind the pigment to your lashes for more length and thickness.

The Voluminous Lash Mascara ($11.99) has more than 200 bristles to catch every hair for dramatic extension. The smooth glide formula is designed to provide silky volume in one coat but I usually apply a few layers for a falsies effect. The deep pigment elongates and saturates my lashes without clumping, dryness or flaking and it lasts as long as my day does.


L’Oreal is available at drugstores nationwide

Thursday, August 2, 2018

L’Occitane Aqua Réotier Skincare Review

Summer can be harsh on your skin, especially if you spend a lot of time outdoors exposed to damaging UV. I am always on-the-go, traveling and attending events around the city even during high humidity and heat alerts. Occasionally I experience sensitivity, uncomfortable heat rash, itchiness and redness so I use gentle skincare to help balance, calm and replenish.

L’Occitane has recently launched a revitalizing new collection infused with Aqua Réotier Water from a natural spring in the mountains of Provence. This nourishing water is very high in calcium which strengthens the skin’s barrier to prevent moisture loss. The formula also contains glycerin and hyaluronic acid which bind the minerals and boost hydration.


The Water Gel Cleanser ($29.00) lathers into a bubbly foam which removes impurities, makeup, bacteria, sebum and pollutants that build up throughout the day. The scent is wonderful and the gel works well with my cleansing brush to purify pores without dryness. I use it twice a day (morning and night) to keep my complexion blemish-free and receptive to skincare.


Once you start using the Moisture Prep Essence ($29.00) there is no going back! Apply it after cleansing to reinforce the hydrating properties of gels and creams. The lightweight, water-like serum locks-in moisture and enhances emollients so skin appears plump, dewy and supple with no stickiness.


After you’ve applied a light layer of Essence, there are two moisturizer options. The Ultra Thirst Quenching Gel ($34.00) is enriched with thousands of micro-bubbles that instantly energize and hydrate parched skin. You only need a small amount since the gel has a liquid-y texture that disperses generously without residue. It also makes a great base for makeup because it reduces pore size and smooths roughness for a velvety finish.


When you need something light and fresh on warm summer days, the Ultra Thirst Quenching Cream ($34.00) works wonders! The lush formula plumps to minimize wrinkles and envelops skin in a silky veil that lasts all day. I love how the mineral water recharges and invigorates for immediate improvement in texture and tone. My complexion looks healthy, youthful and soft without greasiness or clogged pores.


The Fresh Moisturizing Mist ($19.00) has been in my beach bag and summer tote all season. On sweltering afternoons a few sprays is all it takes to hydrate, revive and cool my face. It also helps set makeup and alleviates UV irritation on overheated skin.


These products are available at L’Occitane Boutiques nationwide and online at ca.loccitane.com

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Foreo UFO Mini Smart Mask Treatment Review

We all know that taking time for a pampering spa day is great for the skin but sometimes a 20-30 minute facial can seem like a hassle. As a beauty editor and trend expert I’ve tried just about everything so I didn't think it was possible to reinvent plain old sheet masks.

Foreo has found a way take your skincare routine to a new level with The UFO Mini ($219.00). This powerful little device delivers an invigorating professional facial from the comfort of home using Infrared Light Technology and sonic vibration.


What is UFO & How Does it Work?
This interstellar pink disk combines the benefits of a nourishing face mask with Hyper-Infusion and T-Sonic pulsations that enhance the efficiency of each treatment. Simply place the specially designed Foreo sheet mask on the gold plate, secure with the clip and press the start button. You can even track your usage, set reminders and create a personalized skin profile by downloading the UFO app (they’ve thought of everything).

The complete cycle only takes 90 seconds so you don’t have to sit there for 20 minutes looking like Jason from Friday the 13th. I love that the device is small enough for travel and in no time at all you have glowing, supple skin that looks refreshed, youthful and energized. The Korean formulas are safe for all skin types and UFO is made with ultra-hygienic soft silicone to prevent bacteria build-up.


The RGB LED Technology rejuvenates the complexion by emitting infrared lights in different wavelengths combined with gentle heat to increase the penetration of active ingredients.

Red LED: Promotes circulation to stimulate collagen and fade wrinkles.
Green LED: Brightens and evens skin tone.
Blue LED: Destroys acne causing bacteria to heal and balance.

The UFO Smart Mask VS UFO Mini 
Foreo has created 2 versions of the UFO but aside from the price tag (the mini is $130.00 cheaper) the only difference is the Cryo-Therapy Technology. The regular version has a cooling cycle that calms the skin after treatment and the mini does not. To account for this I usually splash my face with cold water which also removes mask residue. 

My Results
I was a bit skeptical that 90 minutes with the UFO would equal 20 minutes of regular sheet mask time and I didn’t feel much heat (it would be nice to have more warmth). The activated mask pairs with a pre-programmed professional treatment to alternate between different lights, temperature and vibration. I used the Make My Day Hydrating & Anti-Pollution formula infused with Hyaluronic Acid and Red Algae.

UFO with Sheet Mask

At first I wasn’t sure anything was happening as I moved the UFO around my face and since the mask was still quite juicy, I did another treatment to use up all the serum. You can also dip the mask back into the wrapper and swirl it around to re-hydrate it for a second cycle. It didn’t take long for me to become totally hooked! My face looked amazing (especially after applying some Dior skincare). My glow was on-point and there was visible improvement in texture and tone. I looked like I had just emerged from an exotic spa - radiant dewy and baby soft! Throughout the day I couldn’t help looking at myself in the mirror to make sure my complexion was still flawless... and it was!

What Comes With UFO?
The device comes in a clear case with a quick start manual, plastic display stand, USB charging cord and one mask. It would have been nice if they made a little brush to clean fluid out of the groves but water and a paper tower works too. 

There are a variety of different masks available including: brightening, anti-aging, shimmer, mattifying etc and the boxes retail separately for $14.90 - $25.90 (for 6 or 7 sheets).


What I like most about the UFO (aside from how fast it works) is that I can take it anywhere! I anticipate that having to re-order specific masks will be a bit of a hassle but that is a small price to pay for glowing skin. The UFO makes me want to do a facial everyday so it has quickly become a "holy grail" product.

Foreo is available at Sephora, Hudson’s Bay and online at foreo.com

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Terre Bleu Lavender Farm

I am always looking for interesting summer activites and recently I discovered Terre Bleu Lavender Farm just 45 minutes outside of Toronto.

As the city fades in the background and you exit the highway into Milton, there are long country roads surrounded by nature. The air seems cleaner, the landscape is splashed with vivid greens and you can spot a few animals grazing in the distance.


Bask in the warm sunshine as the scent of fresh lavender envelops you. The beautiful fields have a calming effect. 

Rates vary between $8.00 during low season, $20.00 on weekends and $15.00 on weekdays but you can usually visit the shop for free. Last entry is 4:30 pm but I recommend arriving early to avoid the crowds.


The guided tour includes a visit to the essential oil distillery, art exhibits, honey house, equestrian ring, herb bar and 200 year old cedar forest. On weekends there are a number of events including yoga in the fields and live music on the outdoor stage. If you have any questions the staff is always eager to help and exceptionally welcoming.



Explore the entire farm at a leisurely pace, there are various types of lavender in the fields and you will notice an abundance of little honeybees happily pollinating the vibrant buds. There is also an apiary on-site where fresh lavender honey is produced. All of the products are handmade so stop by the store for some lavender cheese, souvenirs, candles or beauty products that promote good health, rest and relaxation.



The art installations found throughout the farm symbolize new beginnings and peace. The big yellow door has a quote that reads – “walk through the door, your worries behind you, your joys are ahead.”


To escape the summer heat find a shaded bench or grab some tasty lavender lemonade and hang out on the patio. The cedar forest is usually a few degrees cooler with a light breeze that flows through the trees. Sit back, unwind and find your zen.



I enjoyed snapping photos among the wildflowers and indulging in delicious lavender ice cream! The flavor is mild and refreshing. 


For more information, visit the website at terrebleu.ca

Monday, July 30, 2018

It Cosmetics Naturally Pretty Eye Shadow Palette & New Superhero Liner

The weekend is over and I have another busy Monday ahead of me with a press trip in a few hours. Needless to say I have no time for a big makeup production (as my mom calls it) so I need a palette that can create a quick, professional look in less than 20 minutes (no easy feat for someone who usually spends more than an hour on her face).


After digging around in several over-stuffed drawers, I decided it was a good time to break out my Naturally Pretty Matte Luxe Transforming Palette ($55.00) featuring 14 anti-aging eye shadows that range from pearl to deep java. Like most products from the brand, the pigments were designed by plastic surgeons so each cool toned, velvety shade is infused with hydrolyzed collagen, real silk and peptides to keep your lids healthy.


The texture is luxuriously soft and smooth which is perfect for seamless blending and although these colors are a bit tame for my taste, they form an excellent base. The light beige tones mixed with peach and pink are great for transitioning and accentuating while the orange and browns are perfect for crease sculpting and definition. Use the navy blue and black to deepen and intensify your look for a smokey edge.


For a wide-eye effect, apply the Transforming Pearl shadow under the brow bone and around the inner corners. I recommend a good primer to prolong wear and prevent fading but the shadows are crease resistant and ideal for travel.

The Elastic Stretch Volumizing Mascara ($32.00) “is like skincare for your lashes” with no parabens, sulfates or phthalates. The formula stretches the look of each hair while thickening, lengthening and conditioning.

Infused with biotin, protein and fortifying peptides, you will experience minimal lash loss with more lift, fullness and separation. For best results I usually apply a few layers but the wand and pigment really does take your lashes to a new level.


The last thing you want on a hot summer day is messy eyeliner running down your face so It Cosmetics has created the Superhero 24 Hour Waterproof Easy Glide Liquid Gel Super Liner (try saying that 3 times fast). I was able to create a dramatic cat eye in less than 3 minutes and the “heavenly skin” hair tip brush is so precise and smooth that it literally does all the work for you. The saturated color glides on with no gaps or skipping so you can draw any size line from ultra thin to thick. This is the only eyeliner in my collection with so many nourishing ingredients. It contains peptides, collagen, biotin, and kaolin clay to fortify and preserve delicate hair. The liner retails for $32.00.


It Cosmetics is available at Sephora, The Shopping Channel and itcosmetics.ca
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