Thursday, November 15, 2018

Fresh Beauty Limited-Edition Zodiac Sugar Lip Treatment | Holiday 2018

When the temperature drops many people flee to warm destinations but I love Canadian winters! As a child I spent hours outside building snowmen, skating and having snowball fights with my sister. These days my life is somewhat more refined. I enjoy romantic weekends at Mont Tremblant’s Ski Resort and cozy bonfires at the Fairmont. The holiday season can be magical (no matter how old you are) but cold weather is harsh on the skin.

Fresh Beauty is well known for their replenishing face masks, awesome cleansers and refreshing toners but the Sugar Lip Balms are bestsellers for a reason. The formula is loaded with sea fennel, orange extract, jojoba, grape seed oil, avocado oil, meadowfoam seed, black currant, sunflower oil and rose water to smooth fine lines, diminish wrinkles and deeply nourish.


Personalized gifts are always popular so this Christmas why not surprise friends and family with their very own zodiac sign lip balm ($32.00 ea). Each tube features a hand painted design and the same ultra hydrating formula Fresh is known for (without parabens, sulfates or phthalates). It might be a good idea to open the box and check the tube before purchasing because I noticed a printing error on the Leo cap.


When lips feel dry and flaky, exfoliate gently and apply generous layers of balm as an overnight treatment. The creamy finish melts in without greasiness to soften, smooth, improve elasticity and retexturize.

The suppleness of these balms lasts for hours and on long flights they protect skin from dehydration and peeling. I always keep one in my purse, travel bag and office to prep my pout for lipstick and fortify against icy wind.


Fresh Beauty is available at Sephora and online at sephora.ca

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

L’Occitane Immortelle Overnight Reset Oil-In Serum Review and Winter Skincare Essentials

By now many of you know that I am kind of obsessed with L’Occitane. The ingredients are freshly harvested from the fragrant fields of Provence (in the South of France) and the formulas pamper and transform the complexion to regenerate your youthful glow. Today I’ve rounded-up some wonderful products to help combat the cold winter weather and boost radiance.


The Immortelle Divine Mousse En-Crème ($44.00) lathers into a dense foam that deeply cleanses to eliminate impurities, pollutants, oil, dirt and makeup. One tube lasts for months because it takes very little to create a lush bubbly cream that envelops the entire face and neck.


The Immortelle Divine Crème ($119.00) and Youth Oil ($114.00) is a dynamic duo that prevents dryness and diminishes visible signs of aging. Infused with the everlasting immortelle flower which never fades, the decadent oil replenishes, plumps, balances and fortifies with no irritation or clogged pores. The consistency is rich and supple so it takes a bit longer to absorb but once it sinks in, skin feels incredibly soft, smooth and hydrated.


For plump silky skin, I layer the oil over the crème to create a night mask effect and awake with a bright, healthy complexion. I’ve been using this bestseller for years and sometimes I hide it from my husband because he tends to finish the jar. The rich formula firms and fades wrinkles while drenching your face in layers of lavish moisture that improves texture and tone without greasiness. It is safe and gentle on all skin types including sensitive.

If you only buy one luxury product this year I highly recommend the Immortelle Overnight Reset Oil-In Serum ($69.00). The sumptuous formula replenishes dull tired skin by the time you wake up and I noticed a substantial difference in my complexion after just one use. I don’t know what kind of magic L’Occitane has infused in this transforming complex but I do know that the caviar-like capsules are immortelle essential oil bubbles that melt on contact. I apply the serum after cleansing and before moisturizer, hop into bed and by the next morning my skin looks rejuvenated, clear, even, dewy and glowing (seriously, this stuff is amazing!). All signs of stress, blemishes and dryness dulls to an undetectable level and my makeup looks even more flawless.


During the winter when skin gets ashy and flaky, the Verbena Icy Body Gel ($44.00) soothes dry itchy patches. You can pop it in the fridge for an ice cube effect or use it to alleviate discomfort and irritation after shaving. The Gel has a fresh lemony scent that is also ideal for summer.


Another way to soften rough winter skin is exfoliation and I love the Verbena Scrub ($44.00) infused with natural sugar crystals. The zesty blend also contains crushed walnut shells and shea butter to buff away dead cells, nourish and hydrate. I use it on my entire body (especially arms and legs) to improve texture and smooth away razor bumps. It also works wonders on dry chapped hands.

The Verbena Hair and Body Mist ($19.00) delivers an invigorating blast of citrus that refreshes the skin and hair without stickiness. When you’re not in the mood for heavy perfume or have no time to shampoo, spritz this on throughout the day and bask in the uplifting scent.


L’Occitane is available at boutiques and online at ca.loccitane.com.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

The Benefits of Essential Oil Diffusers

Winter weather has arrived and when the temperature drops we tend to spend more time indoors. I love curling up by the Christmas tree with a warm blanket and a mug of hot cocoa but studies suggest that the air pollution in our homes may be more five times worse than the air outside. When you consider how contaminated the environment can be, this finding is quite alarming. I always try to keep my house clean and fresh, especially during the holiday season when I do more entertaining.

Oil diffusers have been around for a long time but they haven’t always been this stylish. Many brands are now recognizing the health benefits of essential oils and creating beautiful units to compliment your decor.


Cold and flu season is a great time to invest in a diffuser because essential oils disinfect the air from bacteria and viruses while boosting the immune system. They also help remove allergens, repel insects, promote better sleep, support respiratory health, increase energy and relieve stress.

In my bedroom I’ve created an oasis for beauty sleep with a cool mist humidifier, Himalayan salt lamp and Avon’s Aura Ultrasonic Diffuser ($69.99). Simply fill the water reservoir with a few drops of essential oil and relax as the soothing vapor cleanses the air. The device has an auto-shutoff safety feature and multicolored LED mood lighting that cycles between purple, blue, teal, green, yellow, white, pink and red. 

The diffuser mists for 4 continuous hours or 8 hours intermittently and the lightweight design makes it easy to move around the house. 


At bedtime my favorite oil is Sweet Dreams ($22.00) – a soothing blend of lavender and chamomile. Avon’s plant derived formulas are highly concentrated and 100% pure to enhance your sense of well-being.

When suffering from a cold or congestion I use the Zen Blend ($22.00) – a fusion of lavender, sweet fennel, chamomile and peppermint which helps clear nasal passages, relieve stress and lessen coughing for better breathing. 


During a yoga session Happiness infuses the air with the clean scent of grapefruit, lemon and sweet orange. You can even combine your favorite oils to create a customized fragrance! These products are available at avon.ca.

Arbonne has also formulated a wonderful collection of Rescue and Renew Pure Essential Oils that promote mental acuteness and a calm environment. Focus ($38.00) smells like the inside of a high-end spa - very botanical, earthy and relaxing. It contains basil, rosemary, peppermint, bergamot and lemon to help improve concentration and alertness. I also use this fragrance to diminish cooking odours.


These invigorating oils can also be diluted and used on the body to replenish, moisturize and heal. The Tea Tree blend ($38.00) is great for detoxifying the skin, treating blemishes and eliminating bacteria to prevent breakouts. Like peppermint, it helps relieve stuffiness and eliminate stale odors.

Use a few drops to enhance facial scrubs, toners, creams, serums, hair products, foot baths, laundry water, garbage cans, diaper pails and a warm bath. Arbonne is available at arbonne.com and through independent consultants.

I’ve been using the Saje Pocket Pharmacy ($59.00) for years because the oils have a roller-ball applicator for topical use and a dropper at the other end for diffusing.


The little case is convenient for travel and comes with 5 healing blends that treat common ailments including:
*Peppermint Halo - for headache relief
*Immune - to fight germs and viruses while alleviating cold symptoms
*Eater’s Digest - soothes stomach discomfort and supports healthy digestive functioning
*Stress Release - for mild anxiety and nervousness
*Pain Release – treats muscles aches and stiffness.

This handy set also comes with a booklet outlining how to use the oils and where to apply them for aromatherapy benefits. You can find this collection at Saje boutiques nationwide and online at saje.com.

For more beauty and health tips check out my article on How to Improve Your Beauty Sleep

Monday, November 12, 2018

Mix Beauty Lab | Create Your Own Makeup!

Last Tuesday Mix Beauty Lab invited me to their studio to do something many beauty gurus, editors and influencers only dream about. I had the opportunity to create my very own makeup and the process was so much fun!


I’ve always wanted to formulate my own products and although I haven’t reached that stage in my career (yet), it was interesting to see how much time and effort goes into developing a new shade. The lab technicians helped bring my vision to life as I chose a hydrating matte base and began mixing pigments.

It took a few adjustments to achieve the exact tone and texture I had in mind but the saturation isn't quite there. I have to apply a few generous layers to achieve medium coverage but the consistency is moist and comfortable.


Once everything was mixed to my specifications we heated the liquid, poured it into a mold and carefully pressed it into the tube. My lippie looked a bit wet for a while so I popped it in the fridge overnight.

Each custom lipstick will cost you $50.00 or $80.00 for 2 (including the help of a mixologist). Considering the average price of a high-end lipstick this service is a bit expensive but I think every makeup junkie should try it at least once.

If you bring a photo the lab can also help you recreate your favorite shade even after it has been discontinued.


I named my lipstick Seductress because...well just look at it! 


I was excited to formulate a custom foundation because I can never seem to find a flawless match. Mixing the pigment wasn’t as hands-on since it required a trained eye but I was able to choose a suitable finish for my skin type (combination), preferred coverage (full) and beneficial additives like vitamins, emollients, skincare and SPF.


The lighting in the studio that night made it difficult to determine undertones so you might want to visit during the day and arrive with little to no makeup on your face.

She came close to making me a decent color match but I still have to blend my custom shade with another foundation to lighten the finish. On the bright side, the texture is silky, lightweight and smooth – definitely a high quality formula. The cost of creating a custom foundation is $65.00, not bad for the size.


At the lip gloss station I had no idea what color I wanted to make so I started by customizing the consistency (shiny with a balm-like texture for more hydration) and I went to work adding pigment, mixing in glitter and infusing fragrance. It was also interesting to see other people’s creations. You can tell a lot about someone’s personal style by the shades they concoct and whatever you whip up in the lab will be one of a kind which is oddly satisfying.

Everyone, I’d like you to meet Envy – a pretty burgundy pink with iridescent pink shimmer and a citrus-y sangria scent. It isn't as pigmented as I hoped but it makes my lips look plush and luminous!

Custom lip gloss service - $40.00 per gloss or $70 for two.

Mix Beauty Lab is definitely taking makeup to a new level with their interactive sessions and if I had known about it years ago when planning my bachelorette it would have been a unique experience for all my friends! It is a great idea for birthday parties or girl’s night and they also provide makeup applications, facials, lash services, manicures body exfoliation and tanning – a little something for everyone.


For more information visit mixbeautylab.com

Friday, November 9, 2018

Urban Decay Elements Eye Shadow Palette | Review & Swatches

Just in time for the winter solstice, Urban Decay has released another stunning palette that is sure to be on everyone’s holiday wish-list. Following Born to Run and Naked Cherry is no easy feat but this celestial compact features 19 mystical shades that range from bright matte, holographic shimmer and molten metallics – everything you need to look stunning at festive parties.


The colorful round case was inspired by the elements – air, earth, fire and water.


Inside the pigments are displayed like a constellation orbiting around Luna - an ultra-iridescent transformer shade that can be layered on top of the shimmers to customize their finish. I’m not crazy about the large white shadow since it doesn’t seem to have much effect on the mattes and the texture is a bit flaky. I do however like the idea of altering colors for more variety and these beauties look gorgeous on all skin tones.

If you’re looking for a bold spectrum of eye shadow this palette is stunning! Most of the shades are velvety smooth, highly saturated and crease resistant with the exception of Dream Weaver – a bright matte pink that falls a little short on pigmentation. I always recommend using a good base (UD’s Primer Potion is my all-time fave) but the formula is durable and lasts all day without fading.


My favorite hues are the dramatic royal blue (Sapphire Dream), the gorgeous metallic teal (Heavy Water) and of course the bright purple (Hex Remedy). There aren’t many mattes but Fire Starter (deep golden red) and Elemental (soft sienna) work well with so many palettes in my collection including Naked Heat.

The vibrant colors are great for a night out but you can totally rock the bronze, gold, silvery pink, champagne and burgundy any day of the week.



Urban Decay is available at freestanding stores, Sephora, Shoppers Drug Mart, and online at urbandecay.ca. Don't forget to sign up for the Beauty Junkies Rewards Program to earn and redeem points.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

NYX Cosmetics 2018 Holiday Collection & Gift Guide

“Sleigh bells ring, are you listening, in the lane snow is glistening”...I’ve been singing Christmas carols for weeks now and the NYX Holiday Collection is definitely putting me in a festive mood. Spoiler alert, I busted into the advent calendar early to show you what’s inside and I’ve gathered some pretty palettes that you’ll probably want to add to your wish-list (you’re welcome).


This year it’s all about Sugar Trip so the advent calendar ($75.00) is loaded with colorful treats. The box features a few social media influencers in cartoon form although the girl at the bottom looks a bit like Rihanna.


The artwork on the inside is also bright and fun. Everyday until Christmas Eve you can pop open a new window to reveal a luscious lip product, blush, highlighter or eye shadow.


The calendar contains a selection of our favorite NYX lip formulas including: Butter Gloss, Liquid Suede, Soft Matte Metallic, Soft Matte Cream, Strip Tease and even a couple tinted lip oils to keep your pout chap-free.


Don’t you just love it when brands make gift giving simple! The Sugar Trip Lip Treats Set ($23.00) is perfect for teacher’s gifts, friends, secret Santa, co-workers and stocking stuffers. Everyone’s lips get a little dry during the winter so this trio comes with lip oil, balm and scrub – everything you need for a mistletoe smooch.


There is no denying that makeup junkies love to sculpt and with the Love Contours All Palette ($27.00) you can chisel those cheekbones, fill in your brows and accentuate the eyes with rich bronzers and silky highlighters.


Away We Glow ($25.00) is loaded with 12 buttery shadows that transition from summer to fall with striking bronze, rose gold and brilliant green.


The Ultimate Eye Shadow Palettes ($22.00 each) range from shocking neon to deep sultry tones and if you love fall shades Warm Rust is gorgeous! Some YouTubers have compared this little gem to Urban Decay’s Naked Heat (one of my all-time favorite palettes) and I have to admit, the color scheme is similar. I like that the shadows are color coordinated in vertical rows so you can create 4 specific looks or mix it up.


The pink glitter from Warm Rust looks gorgeous with the Vivid Brights Pigment in Bad Blood ($12.00). I love the rich burgundy and the color lasts all day without transfer, fading or creasing. Unfortunately the cream formula is dense and dry so getting the pigment out of the jar and evenly blended can be a challenge. I use my finger to dab and smear it on (you may have to go over the same area several times to cover patchiness) but it definitely makes a bold statement.


If you’re feeling a bit daring why not try the Electric Palette? I don’t have many of these shades in my collection but they are very dramatic.


A few swatches of Warm Rust and Electric

The Dream Catcher Palette in Stormy Skies ($18.00) contains cool neutrals. This item is currently sold-out online but you might want to swatch it first. The colors are too tame for my taste and many lack the pigmentation and quality NYX is known for.


The NYX Loose Pigments ($9.00) are a staple in many professional makeup kits and the weightless pearlescent finish looks phenomenal! To avoid fallout and improve coverage, use primer or an adhesive base and pat the color on instead of swiping.


The Lip Lingerie Liquid Lipsticks ($10.00 each) have a creamy formula that stays put for hours without becoming dry or uncomfortable. I also recommend the Suede Matte Lipsticks ($10.00) which have a wonderful texture, buildable saturation and enough suppleness to keep lips hydrated.  


NYX Cosmetics is available at freestanding stores, Shoppers Drug Mart, Rexall, London Drugs and online at nyxcosmetics.ca.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Hard Candy Fall 2018 Collection | NEW Makeup Palettes

When experimenting with color and creating fun new looks, drugstore makeup is great. The products are affordable so you can stock-up on bold pigments and test new trends for the fall/winter season. This year Hard Candy has released a beautiful collection of palettes and highlighters that range from neutral to dramatic. The cute compacts make great stocking stuffers for all the ladies on your holiday list.


The Earthy Vixen Eye Shadow Palette ($10.00) contains warm browns, shimmery gold, vibrant green, deep red, scintillating pink and rich berry hues that transition from day to night. The pigmentation is buildable so you can layer and intensify to create a wide variety of stylish looks. Some of the mattes are a tad dry but they blend well and for the price you get a great selection of wearable shades.


With Christmas fast approaching you will definitely need some glitter in your life and I couldn’t wait to swatch the Glitteratzi Palette ($6.00). These pigments are perfect for the holiday season and you can just dip your finger in and pat the particles onto your eyelids (no brush required). Achieving consistent coverage is a bit challenging but with a little patience the effect is quite glamorous! Be warned, the formula will transfer if you rub your eyes so refrain from touching it and everything should stay put for a few hours.


The Neutral Eye Shadow Palette ($8.00) is perfect for quick everyday looks. The contrast of deep mattes and silky shimmer is great for sculpting and the color payoff is decent.


I had high hopes for the 3-In-One Powder Highlight Trio ($6.00) but the texture is rough and the shimmer applies patchy with sparse coverage. Since the particles tend to get lost in my makeup brush I use my finger to maintain concentration.


The Rose Gold Palette comes in handy for travel and what girl wouldn't be happy to find one in her stocking!? The sparkling garnet, brilliant coral and soft champagne are luminous and trendy.


The Just Glow Bronzer & Highlight Palettes ($9.00) perform much better than the 3-In-One Compact and they include unique shades. Kissed by the Sun is more traditional, with shimmery bronze, coral and golden tones. The powders are velvety smooth and the creams are radiant with consistent coverage. Glowing by Night is unusual but intriguing. I’ve never used blue highlighter before but the frosty sheen could be fun on a snowy winter day.


Hard Candy is available at Walmart

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Fresh Beauty Hydrating Skincare | Toner, Essence and Glow Water

Technically it is still autumn but the weather has been unseasonably cold, rainy and downright dreary. Many households in Toronto have already turned on their indoor heating which can cause dry flaky skin. This winter I'm keeping my beauty routine simple. Instead of slathering on layers of thick cream I'm using healing sprays infused with soothing ingredients and hydrating properties.


During long busy weeks that sap your energy and dull your complexion, the Fresh Rose Toner ($49.00) is a miracle worker. The lightweight liquid is alcohol free and made from nourishing rose water to clarify, remove impurities and hydrate for 24 hours. I love the natural scent and the supple texture preps skin for serums and cream. Use it to set makeup or refresh your face throughout the day. The gentle mist softens, cleanses and calms with no stickiness and the bottle is quite large so you can transfer some into a purse-size spray bottle for use on-the-go.


I usually buy Kombucha in drinkable form because it is now considered a “super food.”  The fermented black tea is rich in probiotics and antioxidants with antibacterial properties that help detoxify, improve digestion and boost the immune system. The Fresh Beauty Black Tea Kombucha Facial Treatment Essence ($85.00) is a highly concentrated anti-aging complex that moisturizes and protects from pollution. The fortifying formula also softens fine lines, enhances resiliency, refines skin texture, minimizes pores, improves elasticity and boosts luminosity for youthful vitality.


The Fresh Vitamin Nectar Antioxidant Glow Water ($54.00) is a must this winter! Fruit extracts, emollients and antioxidants refresh and rejuvenate parched skin with a dewy finish. Keep it at your desk to revitalize your complexion during a stressful day or use it after the gym to energize and hydrate. It feels wonderful when spritzed onto bare legs after shaving or waxing and the cool mist sets makeup quickly.


Fresh Beauty is available at Sephora and online at sephora.ca
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