Beauty

Pretty things

July 7, 2016

PicMonkey Collage

Whenever Etsy’s email arrives in my inbox, I get a little excited. I love me some eye candy, and who doesn’t? Here are some of the pretty things I’ve come across over the past week from Ottawa, the rest of Canada and around the world. They might serve you as home decor or fashion inspiration, and even inspire a little shopping in you. Enjoy the browse.

Forestiere

forestiere

Open Fire

open fire

Rare Specimens

rare specimen

Maderacraft Handmade

maderacraft

Lola Donoghue

lora donahugh

Blisscraft & Brazen

Blisscraft

Coral + Cloud

coralcord

Rowan Studios

Rowan Studios

Jenny Rijke

jenny rijke

Brown Bag Vintage

brownbag vintage

Pépin

pepin montreal

Gen Woo

tassles

 

We Are Stories

we are stories

Giveaway with EF + ORESTA organic skin care

November 20, 2015

The holiday party season is almost upon us and my friends at Oresta Organic Skin Care have asked me to help spread the word on their fun holiday promotion. I’ve been spoiling myself with the odd facial or two at the hands of the talented Oresta over the past five years now. Thanks to her, I learned that my skin was in fact incredibly dry and sensitive, and not the oily, tough skin that I thought I had. With just a few simple changes to my skin routine, my bumpy forehead, blotchy skin and frequent adult acne said goodbye.

Oresta has expanded her facial skills into three successful Ottawa locations that are one part spa, one part eco-beauty boutique and one part beauty classroom. The beautiful interiors of each location is reason enough to stop by but if you need more incentive, check out their great holiday giveaway below.

Book a 30-minute individual makeup application (value of $65), small group makeup application or makeup lesson at one of three Oresta locations here in Ottawa

You can book individual or group sessions and applications

You will automatically be entered to win a full set of Misencil Eyelash Extensions (a value of $150)

Book by December 1

Your booking can take place after the contest ends

Winner will be announced December 5

Click here for more details

oresta makeover

Do you want to try out a glamorous, new party look; a sexy smokey eye or the perfect red lip colour? Book a makeup application before your next holiday event.

Oresta also offers individual makeup applications for individuals or small groups. Oresta’s skilled makeup artists and skin care specialist will create the perfect natural or dramatic look for you with Oresta’s organic, vegan and gluten-free brands: ILIA Beauty, FITGLOW BEAUTY, Afterglow Cosmetics, Eminence Organic Skin Care and Vapour Organic Beauty.

In exchange for promotional help, Oresta treated me to a complimentary makeup application. What a great way to end a busy day at work. I just love stepping into Oresta’s O’Connor location. It’s warm and inviting, beautifully lit and filled with fabulous skin care and beauty products. Here I am sans makeup, a tad dishevelled after a long day at the office…

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And the makeover begins….

Oresta prepared my skin with a rich moisturizer by Eminence and proceeded to apply a primer to make sure the foundation was laid for concealer and foundation. The best thing you can do before applying foundation is to exfoliate and moisturize. My skin is so dry that if I don’t do these two steps, any foundation will turn into beige flakes, lovely.

With primer on, Oresta gently dabbed a triple threat concealer around my eyes to reduce any blue or dark circles and wrinkles. I’ve been looking for a good eye cream, something that helps reduce the look of fine lines and makes my eyes pop. Well, Afterglow’s Triple Eye Treatment in Meringue conceals, hydrates, brightens and tightens. I’ve since worn it every day and I love it. It’s all I need to put on to wake up my face.

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Vapour Organic Beauty Stratus Soft Focus Primer #902 – $60; Vapour Organic Beauty Atmosphere Soft Focus Foundation #115 – $62; Afterglow Triple Eye Treatment in Meringue – $39

Below, you see me with foundation and blush on. I’m usually not a fan of foundation because it’s cakey and, as I said, makes my skin flake, but Vapour Organic Beauty’s Atmosphere Soft Focus Foundation went on smoothly, moistened my skin and felt light.

Unlike most makeup artists, Oresta applies one layer of lipstick on before tackling the eyes. She says that it helps guide her choices for eyeshadow later on. This pretty lipstick is from my fave lipstick manufacturer, ILIA in Pink Moon. For the eyes, Oresta applied Afterglow’s Fresco Eye Shadow to light my lids and followed that with Terra Cotta and Still Life in the crease.

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Fitglow Beauty Blush in Pure – $35; ILIA Lip Stick in Pink Moon – $34; Afterglow Eye Shadows in Fresco, Terra Cotta and Still Life – $26 each

I don’t have a picture of it but after the eyes, Oresta used mascara to fill in my eyebrows and topped things off with some illuminator on my nose, forehead and cheekbones and finished things up with another layer of lipstick.

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Et voila, after a bit of beautiful organic makeup and lots of fun, Oresta gave me a subtle smokey eye and dewy look perfect for my holiday parties.

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ILIA Shadow of a Doubt Mascara (for eyebrows) – $34; Cherry Blossoms two-step Fibre Extension Mascara – ; ILIA Polka Dots and Moon Beams Illuminator and Bronzer – $34

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Rose & Fig’s beauty routine: Three essentials from the kitchen

May 20, 2015

Photo by instagram user lindsayxxmarie

One of the fun things about blogging, is having the opportunity to connect with like-minded people, share ideas, struggles and really connect with them. I’m lucky to have met Jess Hunt of Rose & Fig over the past few months. We have exchanged fun, heartfelt emails about increasing our readership, trying to post more regularly and really engaging with our dear readers. It is really nice to know that someone else shares your concerns, fears and need for a creative outlet.

Jess is based in Georgia and she blogs about simplifying style, all-natural, homemade beauty and health. We are both focused on simplifying our lives, buying less, using natural products and reducing our overall ecological footprint. During our first Skype chat just a couple of weeks ago, we decided it would be great fun to put together guest blog posts for each other that highlight our areas of interest. Below, Jess has lovingly put together a list of three kitchen essentials that she uses in her beauty routine. It’s so simple and the ingredients are so common, you feel silly for not having tried these out before, I know I do!

Over the past year, I’ve worked my way from the pantry to my makeup bag, trading chemical-laden synthetic products with more natural and environmentally friendly solutions. As I’ve “greened” my diet and beauty routine, I’ve also taken a closer look at ingredient labels on well-rated, natural beauty products. Three ingredients have taken the medal podium for being effective treatments for my hair, skin, and body that are healthy for you, natural, and inexpensive.

VIRGIN COCONUT OIL

Trader Joes Organic Coconut OilPacked with essential fatty acids and vitamins, coconut oil is the ultimate anti: antimicrobial, antioxidant, anti-fungal, and antibacterial. I love to cook with it, add a few spoonfuls to smoothies or let a dollop of it melt into my morning coffee for a nutritional boost that helps stabilize my blood sugar. I also like to swish it in my mouth as an oil-pulling routine when I’m feeling a little under the weather or am looking to brighten my smile.

When it comes to my daily beauty routine I like to use fractionated coconut oil as a super moisturizing spray lotion on my legs and arms each morning, then keep a little jar of virgin coconut oil to use as a gentle makeup remover and lip balm every evening.

Fractionated coconut oil

You can also use coconut oil in the shower as a deep conditioner, leave it on a bit longer for a nourishing hair mask, or combine with a couple spoonfuls with the morning’s coffee grounds for a cellulite-fighting, exfoliating, moisturizing body scrub that fellow blogger Gemma got me hooked on:

COCONUT + COFFEE SCRUB

  • 1 cup coffee grounds
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil

Combine grounds and oil (I like to just add the oil straight into the French Press once I’ve poured my morning cuppa) and rub together with your hands to warm and melt the oil into the coffee. Scrub all over your body in the shower or tub, using long, circular motions. Rinse with warm water and gently pat your skin dry once you’re done in order to leave a bit of the oil on your skin. And of course, be careful if you opt for this in a shower stall as the oil can be quite slick on a tile floor!

SEA SALT

Epsom SaltWithout fail, every May my body starts to crave the ocean – salty air, salty hair, and long swims on hot days in cool seawater. Sea salt is full of minerals that are essential to healthy functioning of our bodies and our skin, and so it’s no wonder that a week at the beach leaves my skin feeling nourished, hydrated, and strong.

I like to pour a cup into the tub for a relaxing bath soak, or substitute sea salt for Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) if my muscles are feeling achy or tired. You can also add a bit of coconut or olive oil to a handful of sea salt for a balancing body scrub in the shower.

Sea salt also works wonders for my hair. To fight product buildup, every week or two I’ll add a handful of sea salt to my regular shampoo, scrubbing through from the roots down, then rinsing clean for a brisk clarifying treatment that can also fight off dandruff.For beach waves, the softest hair, and an extra day between shampoos, I’m also keen to mix up a little ocean potion spray for my locks:

SEA SALT SURF SPRAYSurf Spray - Himalayan Salt

  • 1 tablespoon sea salt (or, if you’re feeling fancy: 1/2 tablespoon pink Himalayan salt, 1/4 tablespoon French grey salt, 1/4 tablespoon Epsom salt)
  • 8 tablespoons near-boiling water
  • Optional: 1/2 teaspoon fractionated coconut oil
  • Optional: 4 drops of essential oil

In a heat-safe cup, stir the mixture until it’s a uniform color throughout and let cool down before pouring into a spray bottle. If your scalp is usually oily, go sans coconut oil. If your hair is usually very dry, double your Epsom salt. Shake up the bottle before each use, and spritz through dry hair or halfway through blow drying. Then tousle those ocean waves through your beautiful locks!

ACTIVATED CHARCOAL

Activated Charcoal

This one really falls more into the medicine cabinet than kitchen pantry unless I’m feeling ill: I don’t ingest activated charcoal regularly as it is a super absorbent that soaks up baddies and nutrients alike, scooping up toxins and binding them to itself until it eliminates from your body (read: useful for a stomach ache, jury’s still out if you have a hangover).

All this is to say it also works as an excellent detoxifier and cleaning agent for my teeth, skin, and face. Every couple of weeks I like to substitute toothpaste with one capsule’s worth of activated charcoal, and scrub my teeth and gums for a just-went-to-the-dentist clean feeling and whiter teeth. It also works beautifully as natural eye shadow, or you can add a dab of water and brush along your lashes for an intense liquid liner.

And when my face is feeling cranky and a bump pops up, my first defense for a quick recovery has become one simple mask. Without fail my skin is left rosy, glowing, and bumps seem to disappear much faster:

ACTIVATED CHARCOAL + MANUKA HONEY FACE MASK

  • 1 capsule of activated charcoal (or three pinches, if using loose powder)
  • 1 tablespoon of Manuka honey (can substitute regular honey, as well)

Open the activated charcoal capsule and powder it into a tablespoon of Manuka honey, mixing together with your fingers. After slathering the mixture across your face, pepper your friends and family with charcoal face selfies. Let the mask sit for twenty minutes, then steam your face under a hot, damp washcloth for a minute before rinsing everything away and patting dry.

There you have it – just a few uses for my three favorite pantry-raided beauty ingredients. What’s your favorite kitchen staple to keep stashed in the makeup bag?

Your new eco-beauty routine

February 2, 2015

DSC_0254I spent two months testing products from Ottawa-based DEMES Natural Products and I thought I’d show you the results of this incredibly scientific validation process. Please note that I didn’t receive any monetary compensation for doing so.

DEMES is a new beauty company that is doing a great job of spreading the word about the importance of knowing what you put on your skin and choosing to use natural, friendly products for you and your family.

Overall, I enjoyed using these products and all of them except one worked well for me. So which product failed me? Yes, let’s get the dirty laundry out in the open first. The Get the Funk Out deodorant spray didn’t work well for me. It made me smell pretty funky BUT remember that everyone’s body chemistry is different, everyone’s pit bacteria is different and its ingredients might work wonders for you, just not for me. I used the other deodorant spray, the Zombie Repellent, and it was great. I still use it today. See below for more details on each product.

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DEMES generously sent me five products to test out:

  1. Anti-aging facial oil

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  1. Butter Me Up tangerine vanilla moisture stick

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  1. Get the Funk Out Zombie Repellent

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  1. Get the Funk Out deodorant spray

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  1. Get the Funk Out Room Deodorizer (no picture available)

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I’ve tested my share of natural deodorants and this one made the cut. It didn’t make me smell like nasty garlic, it didn’t irritate my sensitive pits and it didn’t leave stains on my shirts. Its scent is really soft and fresh, sometimes I’ll spray it all over for a little pick me up after the gym.

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The anti-aging oil smells like heaven and was really nice on my skin. It soaked in well and didn’t leave an oily residue. As for its anti-aging properties, well, I didn’t age much in two months so I guess I can say that it prevented any further signs of aging. I had exactly 27 wrinkles on my face before using the oil and no extras afterwards. I’m kidding, I haven’t counted my wrinkles but once I get my hands on another bottle of the oil, I’ll test it out for a year or two and see the results I’m sure.

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My lips have been really dry this winter so I always keep the DEMES stick in my purse or my jacket pocket. This is my pucker before applying the stick…

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Goes on easily, not too oily but it lasts and it has a nice vanilla smell. Note that it does have little clumps in it but they smooth out and melt with your body heat.

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The great thing about this stick is its versatility. I used it not only for my lips but on my face when my face flakes came out to greet me.

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The Get the Funk Out deodorizer is perfect for freshening up my gym bag after a week of sweat or for spritzing some sweetness on my pillows before bed. Why not, right? What I appreciate the most from all of DEMES’ products is that they don’t have a strong, chemical smell. The natural scents are gentle on the nose and comforting to the soul.

All in all, DEMES Natural Products has a great line and I’m so proud to say that they’re from Ottawa. I highly encourage you to try out their products and find your magic eco-beauty routine.

*Please note that these products were donated to me for product review. I didn’t receive any monetary compensation.

A cornucopia of holiday shopping events

November 20, 2014

I can’t get over how many fantastic holiday shopping events are popping up this season in Ottawa. From clothes swaps for charity to craft shows and everything in between, my hometown is really kicking it into high gear. Ottawa has a reputation for being a boring town, a reputation that in my mind has definitely run its course. Not only are people putting on creative events, but these initiatives are all focused on supporting local designers, promoting Made in Canada, recycling clothing, giving back and keeping gift giving simple and close to home.

COMING UP | NOVEMBER & DECEMBER

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Click here for more information on The Closet Collective

Start the holiday shopping season off right with a cocktail in hand at The Holiday Market & Cocktail

It’s time, downsize that wardrobe!

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The pop-up show of all pop-up shows!

In the DIY mood? Try your hand at crafting your own batch of natural beauty products

These crafters are anything but idle

Come with me to this 3rd anniversary party, or as the French say, Viens Avec Moi

urban craft

The darling craft market of the season is urban

northern lights

Ottawa’s very own Northern Lights invite you to shop their creations

EF + MADESMITH GIVEAWAY

November 1, 2014

madesmith main imageThis blog of mine is a hobby, a creative side project that has been the one constant project in my life for the past seven years. For someone as flighty and indecisive as I can be, EF has always been there, the one tool I use to share my passion for ethical and sustainable fashion, new designers, ideas, concepts and more.

One of the many advantages of running this blog is the chance to meet (mostly virtually that is) and collaborate with my favourite companies. Madesmith is no exception. Madesmith is a storytelling platform that helps people discover well-designed, sustainable objects made by hand in the USA. It features exclusive collaborations with artists and makers that create fashion, beauty and home goods in their own studios or small manufacturing facilities.

Most recently, Madesmith launched Madesmith Academy, an online school where product designers, makers and your average “Joe/Joanna” can learn sustainable craft and business skills from top experts who have built successful brands.

Since I wanted to put together a Christmas gift guide using their products, they’re showing their gratitude by giving all of you 25% off of your Madesmith craft and business courses. I really can’t think of a better gift than the gift of learning, can you? Well, OK, so the products below would be pretty schnazzy too. Yes, I made that spelling up but I’m going to say it’s probably similar to something Yiddish?

USE PROMO CODE “EFMAG” TO RECEIVE 25% OFF MADESMITH ACADEMY COURSES

madesmith gift guide-small

HOME

Tapestry | Rachel Duvall Textiles
Pot | Wind & Willow

THINGS

Skateboard | Loyal Dean
Pouch | Specialty Dry Goods

KITCHEN

Oil | Blackcreek Mercantile
Knife | Chelsea Miller Knives

FASHION

Clogs | Bryr Clogs
Portfolio | Katrine Reifeiss

ADORNMENTS

Hat | Derby Hats
Barrette | Canoe

JEWELS

Earrings | Aili Jewelry
Necklace | Gamma Folk

BODY

Room + Linen Spray | Oille Naturals
His + her soap | The Greater Goods

Organic skin care review: Mekar

June 3, 2014

Finding the right skincare line is never a straight-forward affair. You have to consider your skin’s mood, your mood, your diet, the weather, your cat’s feelings and your desired outcomes. Ok, maybe not your cat’s feelings but you get the gist.

You also have to know your skin. Case in point: until only a few years ago, I thought I had combination skin that could take anything I put on it like a brave warrior. Before I knew about the harmful effects of using mainstream beauty products, I used any and all drying, anti-acne cleansers I could find. My skin was red, blotchy, bumpy and suffered frequent pimple break outs. I certainly never had “problem” skin, but as it turns out, I could have better, healthier skin.

The key is to know your skin, establish a healthy routine, and to use great products. I’d suggest visiting a facialist who can properly identify the health of your skin and recommend the right all-natural products for you. For example, my dry, sensitive skin doesn’t like hot and cold water so now I always wash my face with luke warm water. Doing that alone eliminated my bumpy forehead skin and red splotches on my cheeks.

Catherine Clusiau of Mekar Bioactive Skincare recently reached out to me to test her all-natural skincare line. Based in Montreal, Quebec, Clusiau left a comfortable job in finance to launch a safe skincare line that answered all of her own skincare needs. She sent me her moisture-rich line and recommended I combine her serum with the moisturizer for an extra-rich boost of moisture that I desperately needed this past winter.

I have been using her products for more than three months and I am very happy with the results. I didn’t break out, my skin wasn’t blotchy and any little wrinkles that have begun forming around my eyes were minimized. If you’re looking for a Canadian skincare line to try out and love, I highly recommend Mekar.

The results:

The Velvet Cleanser – $30

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This cleanser looks and feels like mainstream ones. It’s easy to apply, it lathers well and it washes off without leaving residue or a tight feeling on my face. The lavender scent is soothing and calming to my red cheeks. A great way to gently purify the face.

Regenerating hydrating cream – $45

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This lightweight cream absorbs quickly and is perfect for summer. It doesn’t clog pores and it hydrates effortlessly throughout the day. My skin was exceptionally dry this winter so Catherine suggested I apply this over her serum for an extra punch of hydration. The perfect combination for winter weather.

Firming eye cream – $42

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I’ve always been skeptical at just how effective eye creams are. Those dang little crows feet seem so permanent! I was pleasantly surprised to see that this eye cream, when applied morning and night for at least two weeks, did reduce any wrinkles around my eyes. It also reduced any blueness I had in the inner corners of my eyes. Divine!

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Catherine Clusiau, President and Founder Mekar Cosmetics

EF Magazine: What were your skin problems that prompted you to launch a skin care line?

Catherine Clusiau (CC): I had very sensitive skin. I have fair skin and thin skin. It’s also prone to imperfections, acne and blemishes. I couldn’t find anything in the natural skincare lines that suited me well. They were always either too thick, I didn’t like the textures nor the scents. I was also looking for a company that had high values. I didn’t want to support a bigger, mainstream cosmetic company either. So I decided to make my own line. I always wanted to be an entrepreneur and be passionate about something.

EF: What were you doing in your past life?

CC: Before, I was working for the National Bank of Canada. I studied business administration at university. I didn’t find that I was doing something that went along with my values and so when I found the opportunity to start a new line, I went for it.

I started working on the business plan outside of work and then when I was on maternity leave for my second child, I worked hard on launching the product so I didn’t have to go back to my work.

I had my boyfriend’s support and everyone around me thought it was a good idea, something that suited me.

EF: What surprised you about your initial launch?

CC: When people bought the products, in the beginning, they wanted to support me but soon after, they continued to buy the products because they liked them. Mekar is now available for purchase in store at terra20 in Ottawa, Ontario.

EF: What are your ingredients and where do you source them from?

CC: We work with an Indian supplier with organic certification for Moringa oil. We have yet to find a local, fair trade and organic-certified supplier. This is an easier feat for Argan oil but not for Moringa oil. It is a dry oil, not as thick as Argan oil, so we use it as the base of our serum. It leaves a silky finish to the skin and isn’t greasy. I like it because it spreads easily, adds a lot of amino acids, vitamins, and essential fatty acids to your skin.

EF: How did you make sure you were producing a safe product, and something that customers would like?

CC: I worked closely with a local chemist and I also did a lot of my own research. I have a lot of feedback from customers when I go to stores that carry my products. I meet customers and they often send me emails of praise. I don’t have a lot of returns in the stores. Normally with hand-made skincare lines, manufacturers use too many essential oils which make customers react. I worked with a chemist to make sure my products were good for sensitive skin.

EF: What is your most popular product?

CC: I would say it’s the Hydrating regenerating cream because it has great moisture power, it is very lightweight and it doesn’t leave your skin greasy. The serum is a close runner up. I had a big demand from customers for more hydrating products so that’s why I introduced a serum that you could use alone or mix with the moisturizer.

EF: Where do you source your ingredients from?

CC: France. It has very good ingredients and the country’s technology for developing natural, active ingredients is more advanced than in North America. I also source from some suppliers in Montreal for essential oils.

EF: How do you educate your consumers and attract new ones?

CC: I promote awareness every time I speak to a customer or during events. I also have a section on the site called “Learn” where I write articles on everything that’s related to wellness, cosmetics and skincare.

EF: Aside from developing your line, what else is keeping you busy?

CC: I’m working on expanding my distribution and collaborating with a representative in BC to get my product into stores there. I want to have more stores in Ontario as well and expand my line so I’m working on a facial mask that should be out in a couple of months. It’s a great mask with red algae to give an instant glow and it’s really moisturizing. I want to have gels for the summer and for oily skin. I also want to develop products for specific demanding skin types to treat specific problems. I’m always listening to my customers for their feedback. This really guides me in my work.

Review: New Tom’s of Maine deodorant for men

March 18, 2014

Mal was asked to review Tom’s of Maine’s new line of deodorant for men and so she tossed me a Men’s Long Lasting Wide Stick to try out for a few weeks. If you’re a lady, read her review here.

On the first application, the deodorant went on with ease without leaving any sticky, white residue. I felt clean and fresh for the majority of the day but a second application was required around mid-day. Remember, it takes a few weeks for your body to adjust to a new product. The burning sensation that I have experienced in the past from other brands was nonexistent, leaving my skin without any irritation. I was very pleased with the smell because it wasn’t overpowering. Even if this is not antiperspirant, my underarms remained dry for the majority of the day. This is the winter season though folks and I don’t know the final results following a hot sunny day at the beach. Stay tuned for a summer version.

 

TOMS OF MAINE

March 6, 2014

This is not a sponsored post. It is my personal review of a free product sample.

The friendly folks at Toms of Maine asked me if I’d review their new men’s “Long Lasting” deodorant. I said yes and passed the stick along to my boyfriend Olivier since, well, he’s the ideal test subject! Not to have me feeling left out, they sent me my very own stick to try and I am fully satisfied with the product. Honestly, I’d tell you if I wasn’t.

My history of deodorant goes way back to the first day I smelled something “not so swell” wafting from my pits up to my nose. I used antiperspirant for a few years until health studies started popping up, warning consumers of the health risks of using such products. The media picked up a scent that antiperspirants weren’t all they were cracked up to be and I listened. Since then I have tried natural crystals (basically consisted of applying water to my underarm area with a crystal – yeah, not so effective for moi), 100% organic sprays (effective but no longer available in Ottawa), organic pit pastes and balms (gave me a rash) and more. I finally found my smell saviour deodorant from Toms of Maine, their “Naturally Dry” one over a year ago and I’ve been using their toothpastes for almost half a decade too.

I’ve been testing out their new “Long Lasting” stick in refreshing lemongrass and I think I’m going to keep using this one once this sample runs out. I have sensitive skin and I usually get red bumps from applying deodorant (soon after but not too soon after a shave). This kind is very soothing to my poor pits and the lemongrass scent is, well, refreshing! I don’t smell like deodorant, even at the end of the day, and it doesn’t stain my shirts – a big plus. The nicest part of using this deodorant? The application. Rather than a stiff, baby-powder consistency, this stick feels more like a smooth, oily balm so it goes on easily and doesn’t tug at my skin.

toms of main-deodorant-womenYou need to know that I’m very conscious of the products I use, from deodorant, toothpaste, make up, cleansers and moisturizers, I do my research, listen to expert advice and test out a lot of brands along the way. Eco-beauty expert and journalist, Adria Vasil, is incredibly knowledgeable on the ingredients to avoid in beauty products. She is suspicious of the existence of propylene glycol in Toms of Maine’s deodorants and you can read more about this via her column in NOW Magazine. I read the company’s website and they have a pretty thorough explanation of their use of the ingredient, which I appreciate. They admit that in high concentrations and in different forms, it can be harmful (like most ingredients), but not how it’s used in their products. I’ll look into this more, to be safe, but I do like their transparency. I’ll ask Adria what she thinks and let you know her response. Stay tuned for an eco-beauty feature of Adria and our friend and EF beauty contributor, Lyz Plant, playing makeover. 

Olivier has been using his sample whenever he stays over (two-three times a week) for the past two weeks and he reported liking application and its scent, but he says he smelled a bit of body odour at the end of the day. He’s going to continue to use it and he’ll be adding his own review shortly.

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So if you’re on the lookout for a new deodorant, I’d highly recommend trying out Toms of Maine’s new “Long Lasting” line.

Fight the winter blues with Tata Harper Skincare

February 5, 2014

This morning was just one of those mornings. I don’t know if it’s the lack of sunlight, a complete absence of warm weather or frustration over the whole Groundhog Day fiasco, (shadow or no shadow people?!?!) but I am feeling B-L-A-H. Now bare with me as I ream off a list of first-world girl problems OK? I totally forgot to set my alarm early for my 7 a.m. workout. I woke up with puffy eyes and amazing wet towel hair. My girls hurt due to the oncoming visit from Aunt Flo and, for the third day in a row, I failed to pack a lunch or make my own breakfast – another $20 bucks down the drain today.

What is a girl to do? Sometimes you just gotta open your bathroom cabinet and find solace in some heavenly smelling beauty products to start your day off right. Enter Tata Harper and her green-as-all-green and gold, natural skin care line. I recently purchased her Regenerating Cleanser for a mild, daily exfoliation and a bright burst of pomegranate and apricot, willow bark and French pink clay. Ohm for the face, that’s what I call it. Harper’s luxurious anti-aging line of 100% natural, organic and non-toxic products has been meticulously produced to perfection and your skin will show for it.

How do you beat the winter blah’s? Indulge in this beautiful skin care line and turn your bathroom into your own personal spa retreat. Have a hot bath with Epsom salts and a few drops of lavender oil while you treat your scalp to an olive oil towel wrap. Apply a Tata Harper Resurfacing Mask and sit back with some jasmine tea. Thank me later.

Our one-and-only Lyz Plant, make up artist and owner of eco-beauty boutique Louche Lily asked Ms. Harper a few questions to get the dirt on her beauty goods.

Lyz Plant (LP): Your background is in engineering – Was there a beginning spark to launch yourself into creating Skincare? 

Tata Harper (TH): About ten years ago, my stepfather was diagnosed with cancer, and by being involved in his treatment and recovery process, I got my first exposure to the idea that the ingredients in the beauty and personal care products I used every day might not actually be very good for me. So I started to do some research, and I was shocked to discover that my daily skincare was full of synthetics, many of which had never been tested for safety. I started looking for an all-natural replacement for my high-tech antiaging skincare products, and I searched all over the world, but came up empty handed. There wasn’t anything out there that met my standards for high performance without the synthetics. So, I decided I needed to make it for myself – and I was sure there were other women out there looking for the same thing. So the line was born out of a need to create what I couldn’t find in the market!

familyGroup 5.7LP: I love that you’re so hands on with every step of the process- was this important to you from day one?

TH: Yes, definitely – I wanted everything to happen in one place, so I could oversee the entire process and ensure total purity and freshness of every batch. All of our products are produced in a facility on my farm in Vermont, where all of our R&D and marketing offices are, too.

LP: How on earth do you find the balance between yourself, family and the company?

TH: By being super organized and sticking to my daily schedule, and by having an assistant to help me keep track of my calendar and all of the moving pieces! When you’re the founder of a fast-moving company, you just learn to make sacrifices, and to balance the best way you can. I always carve out time every day to spend with my kids, and a few minutes – even just five or ten – to spend by myself, to just relax.

LP: One of the most noticeable first impressions that the senses pick up is that smell! Incredible! Where does that trademark scent come from? Who is in charge of that aromatic genius?

TH: We actually don’t add fragrances to our products at all – what you are smelling is literally the scent bouquet of all of our floral ingredients! Our products’ efficacy is powered by botanical extracts, and so many of those are flowers, and those raw ingredients lend their fresh scents to the products. We don’t modify it at all, and of course our products are 100% natural, so there are zero synthetic fragrances in the formulas. I love the fact that our products have these unique natural scents – each one is different – because they contribute aromatic wellness benefits to your daily routine.

LP: If you were to recommend one thing for a woman to try first in the Tata Harper line, what would that be?

TH: I would say the Rejuvenating Serum – it’s our hero product, and has been the number one best seller since it was first released. It’s a daily antiaging collagen serum, and it’s an incredible multitasker – it does the work of seven antiaging products in one formula. It’s incredibly concentrated and is powered by 29 active ingredients. It feels amazing on the skin – it sinks right in and leaves a matte finish. But the results really speak for themselves. I’ve been using it every day for years.

50mlSerum2LP: What are some common misconceptions about natural, organic beauty products that you have found?

TH: The most basic misconception is that they can’t be as effective as synthetic skincare products. That’s just incorrect – it all depends on the level of technology and the quality of ingredients. In my products, we only use the best of the best: ingredients that have been clinically proven to produce amazing results, and that are a fine enough quality and molecular weight where they penetrate the skin to deliver results where it matters. A lot of natural lines out there aren’t formulated to be high-performance, so they simply aren’t. But my line is different, because it was created with a team of 8 chemists whose specific goal was to make, from scratch, 100% natural formulas that worked just as well, if not better, than synthetic alternatives. And we did it – every product in my line is packed with active ingredients that deliver amazing, glowing skin and visible antiaging results!

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Tata Harper, founder of Tata Harper Skincare, our new favourite all-natural, organic beauty line. Photo courtesy of Tata Harper Skincare.

LP: Are there any tell-tale signs you would say to give away that a product is “green washed”?

TH: It can be really hard to tell because marketing and packaging can be so effective at convincing you a product is natural when it’s not. Look for products that really promise to be 100% natural – that way, you know you aren’t dealing with any synthetics. A third-party certification helps – for example, our products are certified as Natural Cosmetics by Ecocert, which is an internationally recognized accreditation body that can vouch for your natural and organic claims. Or, you can look it up using a website (they also have an App!) called Skin Deep, where you see how the products ranks in terms of toxicity. It’s a really powerful tool for becoming a more informed consumer.

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