Thursday, June 20, 2019

Quo Cosmetics Summer 2019 Limited-Edition Makeup Collection

While dealing with a bad case of jet-lag I’ve decided to cheer myself up by reviewing a new summer collection!

Quo always keeps it relatively simple when it comes to cosmetics. You won’t find bold colors or sultry tones but you will notice a hearty helping of light pink, nude and pastel.

The Ombré Eye Shadow Palettes ($18.00 each) are basic and easy to use. Popping Peach doesn’t offer much variety or vibrancy but the shimmering peach (second from the left) is actually brighter than expected. These neutrals may not knock your socks off but they look better on the skin than they do in the palette. Add some jet black liner, a pop of blush and some shiny gloss for a fresh-face, natural effect.

I didn’t think I’d like the Cotton Candy Palette with its unusual cool blues and pastel purple but the colors complement each other nicely and look kind of aquatic. These hues show up much better than the peach palette and although primer is necessary for longer wear, you can layer the shadows to create a beachy mermaid vibe.

I'm always hopeful that Quo will break from tradition and create a few dramatic pigments but we'll have to wait and see.

The Berry Beam Ombré Face Palette ($20.00) contains a sun-kissed bronzer and radiant blush to help accentuate and define but the color doesn't stand out on my complexion. At the moment I’m not really into bronzer but this powder is more of a faint golden highlighter.

The blush has a dark side and a light side with a hint of shimmer. I’m not sure why it’s called "Berry Beam" but the muted coral is perfect for those who dislike excessive cheek color.

The Face Brush ($14.00) is great for contouring and blending. It fits perfectly under the cheekbones to buff out harsh lines and you can use it to highlight other areas of the body.

The Bright to Light Bubble Gum Transforming Lip Kit ($16.00) is fun to play around with and smells like candy! The cream lip stain is a beautiful glossy red and when you apply the strobe topcoat it becomes a luscious bubble gum pink (hence the name). The more topcoat you use, the lighter the color gets and you can wear the strobe on its own for a sheer iridescent finish.

Quo’s Beauty Oil ($18.00) is a lightweight base that can be worn alone or under foundation for beautiful, glowing skin. My issue with most of these products is that they don’t usually show up when covered with concealer or full-coverage makeup. Once massaged in, the oil disperses evenly with a luminous sheen and very little sparkle. I prefer to blend it on top of foundation so the finish is more noticeable but it also works with BB and CC creams.

Beauty Tip: Use the Face Brush and apply some oil on your shoulders, arms, legs, décolletage and back for a subtle head-to-toe summer glow.

The Dewy Skin Mist ($19.00) delivers a radiant finish under or over makeup and helps lock-in your look on the hottest days. It also hydrates and refreshes without stickiness. 

Quo Cosmetics is available exclusively at Shoppers Drug Mart.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Delicious Pasta Recipe with Stefano 100% Natural Marinara Sauce

After vacationing in Rome, Venice, Tuscany, Sienna, Florence, Pisa, Sanremo, Cinque Terre and many other beautiful towns on the Riviera, I’ve developed a deep appreciation for authentic Italian food made with quality ingredients.

I can still remember the best pasta I ever had. My sister and I were dining at a small family restaurant called Tavern del Capitano on the coast of Vernazza. The waves were crashing against the rocky shore, the sky was bright blue and we were happily munching on brushetta as our food was prepared by the owner.

The pasta we ordered was simple – spaghetti with pesto, but the flavors were rich, fresh and beyond comparison. Throughout the meal we were speechless and afterwards I purchased dried pasta and pesto from a local shop in hopes of recreating the magic at home.

Thankfully you won't have to journey all the way to Naples for amazing pasta. Chef Stefano and his Montreal based team are bringing the taste of Italy right to your table with a collection of delicious sauces made from Striano tomatoes. The recipe is 100% natural with no added preservatives, sugar, tomato paste or gluten.

My family used to buy a popular grocery store brand until I read the label and discovered that it was loaded with sugar – 8 to 12 grams per ½ cup serving which can add up fast if you like your noodles swimming in sauce. It also contains 480 mg of sodium per serving and I definitely ate more than half a cup.

What I love most about Stefano’s Marinara Sauce (aside from the pure, authentic taste) is the texture. It isn’t thick, unnaturally smooth or generic. The consistency is hearty and homemade with tiny chunks of ripe tomato.

In my house we prefer spicy marinara with a hint of sweetness and this sauce makes an excellent base if you’d like to kick it up a notch and add your own seasoning.

To make the marinara even better, crush 2 large cloves of organic garlic in a saucepan. I prefer to crush them thoroughly, pounding until the pieces are pulverized and all the flavor is released.

-Add organic grape seed oil or olive oil and stir the garlic so it isn’t clinging to the pan.

- Dice 2 medium onions.

- Sauté the garlic and the onions on medium heat without caramelizing them. When they become soft add water (about 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup), stir and sprinkle in some seasoning. You can get creative here and use your favorite spice medley but I prefer:
*Dried parsley
* Italian seasoning mix (which contains oregano and other herbs)
*A generous amount of Mrs Dash Original (no salt added)
*Fresh thyme
*Dried or fresh basil leaves
*Coriander powder
*Dehydrated chives

- Stir well

- Cover and simmer on low heat. You want the onions to sweat and the seasoning to cook so there is no grittiness.

- Continue to cook until the onions have melted down substantially. It should still look juicy so add a bit more water if necessary.

- Incorporate 2 jars of Stefano Marinara Sauce to the onion and seasoning base you’ve created and stir everything together.

- I also added 1 heaping tbsp of organic coconut sugar for a hint of sweetness and about 1 tbsp of pepper sauce (I prefer the West Indian Scotch Bonnet style) but try to use something decent (Sriracha or Tabasco won’t cut it). If you don’t have a good pepper sauce on-hand, add chili flakes to the onions when you sprinkle in the other seasoning. Balance the sweet and spicy ingredients to taste.

- Simmer on low heat for 20 minutes and toss in your favorite pasta (I used Fusilli). This recipe makes a lot of pasta but feel free to make adjustments and add whatever else you like. Parmesan cheese is a great topping.

Stefano Marinara retails for $8.99 a bottle and the sauces are available at Sobeys, Foodland, Safeway and select independent fine food retailers across Canada.

Bon appetite!

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Shu Uemura Spring/Summer 2019 Collection: Maison Kitsune Lipstick Review

The other day I attended a pool party on a rooftop terrace in Toronto and I wore Shu Uemura’s new pink lipstick to make my pout look bright and summery. I received tons of compliments from other beauty experts and the bold color made me feel confident and stylish (I totally found my signature shade for the season).

The Maison Kitsune Collection also includes the Cameo Eye Shadow Palette ($115.00), 9 Rouge Unlimited Supreme Matte Lipsticks ($37.00 ea), 8 Matte Supreme Liquid Lipsticks ($37.00 ea) and a Sublime Beauty Cleansing Oil to take it all off.

Let’s start with my favorite - shade 378: a bright pink that looks amazing on all skin tones. The matte lipstick is saturated, versatile, creamy and moisturizing so you can wear it all day without discomfort or chapping. The rich color adheres well with no bleeding or flaking and it glides on full-coverage for hours of wear. This is definitely a statement color, the pink it pure, playful and suitable for all occasions.

Every woman needs a classic red and in the liquid range 163 is the perfect bombshell shade. The undertones are balanced to suit every complexion and when the shine dries, the matte effect is bold, feminine and sophisticated.

Swatches: Rouge Unlimited Matte Lipstick 378, Matte Supreme Liquid Lipstick 163 and 570

I love that the liquid formula is flexible, non-sticky and moist so my pout never feels stiff and the color applies highly saturated in just one swipe. The bright orange takes much longer to dry but still looks stunning!

Shu Uemura is available at The Bay, Sephora, Nordstrom, Holt Renfrew and online at

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Giorgio Armani Summer 2019 Collection: NEW Eye Tints and Ecstasy Shine Lip Cream

If you’re one of those people who sweats off eye makeup and usually has shadow smeared all over your face, mascara running off your lashes and liner smudged beyond recognition, it may be time to invest in products that last as long as your day does.

This season Giorgio Armani Beauty has created silky Eye Tints ($39.00) infused with crease-proof, brilliant color that doesn’t crease, fade or transfer (no matter how hot it gets).

The creamy, comfortable formula combines the purity of a powder and the staying power of an ink that lasts up to 16 hours!

Infused with a polymer-glycerin complex, vibrancy boosters and glistening pearls, the high density pigment disperses evenly and can be used as shadow, liner or highlighter for multitude of glamorous effects.

I’m not usually a fan of liquid shadow because I don’t like the wet texture but these dry quickly and can be layered to boost coverage (depending on which finish you select). I prefer the shimmery metallics (44 Rose Gold & 46 Halo) because they apply opaque in just one swipe and look radiant. The other 2 shades (8 Flannel and 11 Rose Ashes) are sheer and inconsistent so I have to let each layer dry between coats and continue to enhance the color until it looks prominent.

Rose Gold is my favorite. The color is bright and glittery without scatter or mess. The other shadows are just okay. The collection is very basic with lots of neutrals, nudes, beige and sandy tones that are a little mundane for my taste. I prefer bright hues, sultry sunset shades and jewel tones but with a little eyeliner and mascara, the tints look quite pretty.

Armani also released the Ecstasy Shine Lip Cream ($46.00) with a dazzling glossy finish. The sheer color is a great alternative to lip balm because it provides layers of conditioning moisture with a natural tint that makes your pout appear plump, smooth, supple and healthy. The treatment also seems to enhance my natural lip color while leaving my skin incredibly soft and nourished.   


Armani Beauty is available at Shoppers Drug Mart and online at

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

The Body Shop Drops of Youth & Roots of Strength Skincare Review

It’s hard to believe that June has already begun but it’s finally time to update your skincare routine by switching to lighter products infused with refreshing botanicals, conditioning emollients and natural ingredients that replenish and protect.

As the weather warms up I no longer need to slather on rich moisturizers and heavy oils but proper hydration and anti-aging care is still important in the battle against UV damage and pollution.

The Body Shop is a great place to find safe vegan formulas free of silicones and synthetics. They handpick premium plant extracts from around the globe to deliver superior skin benefits and indulgent textures.

After a long day of fun in the sun, the first thing I do when I get home is remove my makeup. The Drops of Youth Foaming Face Wash ($20.00) is enriched with 3 plant stem cells: edelweiss from the Italian Alps, sea holly from the Brittany Coast and organic babassu oil from Brazil. The non-drying luscious foam removes impurities, makeup residue, excess oil, sweat and dirt to keep pores clean and help prevent breakouts. My skin feels soft, refreshed and purified with no tightness or discomfort.

The Drops of Youth Collection contains an effective anti-aging complex but using the cleanser alone is probably not enough to diminish lines and wrinkles. I prefer to pump the foam directly onto my cleansing brush and then lather, rinse, repeat and finish with a splash of cool water.

The Bouncy Eye Mask ($32.00) revives tired eyes in the morning, before bed and during allergy season. The formula contains cucumber, plant stem cells, natural extracts and healing oils that hydrate, fade dark circles, reduce under eye bags and soften fine lines. I tested it for 3 consecutive weeks and the dewy gel has made my skin look plump, healthy and less fatigued.

The Roots of Strength Collection is inspired by traditional medicine where plant roots have been used since ancient times for their restorative powers. Each product is infused with 3 potent extracts: ginger root from Madagascar, ginseng root from China and ruscus root from wild oak forests in Europe. Together they plump, firm, stimulate and lift sagging skin for a youthful looking profile.

I start with the Firming Shaping Essence Lotion ($22.00) to lock-in moisture and activate my skin before applying the serum. You can smell the invigorating ginger (which I love) and the lightweight gel melts in quickly to enhance the absorption of all other skincare. The silky finish smooths roughness to improve texture, tone and resiliency.

The Roots of Strenght Firming Shaping Serum ($42.00) refines, contours the jawline and makes skin feel incredibly supple. If you plan to snap a lot of selfies this summer, you need this serum! It softens laugh lines, encourages cell renewal, evens the complexion and fades blemishes so skin looks clear and radiant. The consistency is light and non-sticky so you can wear it during the day as primer or at night layered with cream.

My favorite product is the Firming Shaping Cream ($34.00) because it deeply hydrates and makes my skin feel wonderful! Since I don’t have visible signs of aging, there have been no significant changes in my profile but I have experienced fewer breakouts, improved texture and less redness.

Need a little more pampering? Try the Spa of The World Blissful Bath & Shower Oil-In Gels ($14.00 ea). The exotic blends include: Tahitian Tiare infused with monoi oil, blossoms and coconut oil, Balkan Juniper with honey, Brittany Coast enriched with sea algae and Adriatic Peony. As you lather up, the luxurious scents awaken your senses while rinsing away dirt, oil and sweat. They make me feel like I’m vacationing in the Mediterranean and my entire bathroom smells divine!

Check out these fabulous products at The Body Shop stores nationwide and online at
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