Time for an oil change

February 4, 2014

In my ongoing quest to simplify my life and my beauty cabinet, I’ve decided to unleash the moisturizing magic of my cooking oils as an alternative to buying more facial cream. My fair, dry and sensitive skin (should be a movie title), oftentimes looks and feels like phylo pastry when I try to apply lotion. It flakes, it peels – my forehead might as well be an extension of my desert-dry scalp. That’s a whole other post for some other time though.

Even my awesome momsome’s home-made lavender and Shea butter bar she stuffed in my Christmas stocking this year doesn’t quite do it. And YES, I try to avoid washing my face with hot water but this dry, winter weather is still killing me man!

I think back to the dozens of articles I’ve read that all stated the moisturizing power of the mighty olive oil or the lubri-tastic qualities of grapeseed oil and I can’t, for the life of me, think why I haven’t tried oiling my visage up before. Eh well, it’s never too late for an oil change. Well, maybe for cars but I digress.

So tonight, I had a nice, hot bath. I know, it’s awful for my skin BUT it felt so heavenly on my tense back muscles and I couldn’t think of a better way to warm up from my cold walk home after work. Again, I digress. I had a bath, cleansed my face with my gentle Tata Harper cleanser/scrub (more to come on Ms. Harper very soon!) Tired of scraping the bottom of my giant, industrial-sized jar of unrefined Shea butter (a random online purchase that has proven useful), I opened my kitchen cupboard and opted for grapeseed oil, olive oil’s much-ignored cousin.


Can I get an amen for Mother Nature’s genius?! Grapeseed oil is fantastic. Besides the fact that it’s loaded with vitamin E and omega 6, it feels pretty naughty applying lube on my face (look it up, grapeseed oil is a great, natural alternative to KY). It didn’t sting my skin upon appliation and after a half hour, my face still feels moist, plump and happy. This may seem like an obvious point but trust me, my skin is so dry that I can apply raw Shea butter to it and still spot a few pesky flakes around my hairline that are just dying to wreak havoc on any of my attempts to apply foundation – something else I don’t bother using for this very reason.

Applying oil to your face might not be ideal during the hot, summer months, but you really don’t have to worry about looking oily (at least for long) in the winter. One gust of cold wind will whip away any grease as the remaining oil gets lovingly absorbed into your thirsty pores.

Not into grapeseed oil? Coconut oil is not only a delicious cooking oil, it’s also a great body lotion. Unfortunately for me, it wasn’t rich enough to tame my face flakes. There is always olive oil of course, which is also an expert dry-cuticle cure. I’m sure all of the other plant-based oils of the world (sunflower, flaxseed, almond, etc.) have their own moisturizing properties but try grapeseed and olive first and tell me what you think.

NOTE: You may need to wash your pillow cases more if you apply the oil before bed. Not sure you want to wake up with limp hair all the time…

*All photography taken by me, edited on le iPhone

Holiday makeup looks that last

November 4, 2013

No reproduction or distribution without prior written permission.

Beauty trends come and go but some looks last forever. Red lips, nude lips and smokey eyes are no exception. Together with makeup artist and owner of eco-beauty boutique, Louche Lily, Lyz Plant, photographer Marissa Baumeister and I had too much fun one night making up MIM model, Aris. Here we show you how to do three fresh yet classic looks that are perfect for the upcoming holiday season. I’m not sure if it was Aris’ Dutch background or the lighting, but some of these shots slightly resemble those of the famous Dutch artists of the 1800s, non?



Like most things for Christmas, a little pre-planning goes a long way. We knew we wanted to have a red lip for our first holiday look, so we planned a beautiful but simple look around it. Aris’ glowing skin was slightly contoured and highlighted. By using a warm brown with white for the eyes, we made her blue eyes pop without the use of mascara!

No reproduction or distribution without prior written permission.

We slightly filled in the brow, but not too much here, just enough so that they looked ‘finished’. The red lip (for a step-by-step red lip how-to, click HERE). We actually blended two reds to make the perfect shade, Ilia’s Wild Child and 100% Pure’s Cabernet Lip Glaze. Wild Child is a warm red where as Cabernet is cool. We mixed ’em up and they were perfect for the shade we wanted.

No reproduction or distribution without prior written permission. No reproduction or distribution without prior written permission.

For a deeper, more modern version of a red lip, we then applied an ox blood gloss using Ilia’s Gypsy overtop of the red. Lastly, we applied a coat of mascara.

No reproduction or distribution without prior written permission. No reproduction or distribution without prior written permission. No reproduction or distribution without prior written permission. No reproduction or distribution without prior written permission.

100% Pure’s Anti-oxident Primer
100% Pure’s Tinted Moisturizer in White Peach
Vapour Organics Atmosphere Luminous Foundation Stick
100% Pure’s Blush in Pretty Naked
100 % Pure’s Brow Cream
100 % Pure’s Eye Shadows in Golden Honey and Pearl
100 % Pure’s Lip Glaze in Cabernet
Ilia Multi-stick in Polkadots and Moonbeams
Ilia Lipstick in Wild Child
Suki Concealer
Ilia Lipgloss in Gypsy
100 % Pure’s Mascara in Black Tea


If you want to stain your lips, you can work backwards and put lipstick on (make sure your lips are very dry) and blot carefully with tissue. You can also use your finger to blot onto the lips (harder to get the definition in the lip line though). Leave dry or put a lip balm or gloss overtop.

No reproduction or distribution without prior written permission.No reproduction or distribution without prior written permission.


We approached the smokey eye with a lighter touch to mix things up. First, we applied 100% Pure’s Gunmetal Shade Black Pearl all over the lid and the outer two thirds under the eye and then pressed Pewter on top, blending at the outer edges. We dabbed Pearl (a shimmery white) at the inner corner for a slight highlight.
We drew the Vapour Organics Ink Pencil Liner right into the lash line and all around the eye, smudging right out into the colour. This is a great pencil, it blends so easily to create that perfect smoked effect.
With such a dramatic eye, you want the lips to be light and simple. A nude glossy lip is perfect. It’s still gorgeous and ideal for a night if there are lots of nibbles and drinkies going around. A quick gloss touch up is all you need!
No reproduction or distribution without prior written permission.
No reproduction or distribution without prior written permission.

100% Pure Eye Cream Stick in Black Pearl
100% Pure Shadow in Pearl and Pewter
Vapour Organics Eyeliner in Ink
100% Pure Mascara in Black Tea
Ilia Humble Me Lipstick
Ilia Gloss in Peek-A-Boo

Eco beauty on target

September 25, 2013


Stylist and EF contributor, Leah Harper, attends Target Canada’s store opening in Billings Bridge on September 17, 2013.

Last week, a new American retail store opened its doors in Ottawa’s Billings Bridge Shopping Centre: Target. Although I was wary of another retail giant in the city, (I do like to support our local businesses), I was happy to accept an invitation to attend two events for Ottawa’s fashion bloggers in the lead up to the store opening.

Having never been to a Target, I was excited to see this store and was lucky enough to attend the store opening last Tuesday to get a first look at what it had to offer.

It was clean, bright and well merchandised. I found many products and clothing, including the much coveted 3.1 Philip Lim Collection for Target. I didn’t get the chance to ask about the source of this collection, but Target has an ethical sourcing policy you can read here. They are also partners in the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety. More on this to come.

One of the many advantages of being such a big name in retail is to have the resources to implement sustainable measures into several facets of the business. I was pleased to learn about Target’s sustainability practices, from their LEED certified store buildings to what they stock on their shelves.

The exterior of their head office in Mississagua is LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) gold certified and they plan on pursuing that for all 124 Canadian stores opening this year. In the US, Target started their first recycling program in the 1970s and sponsored the first Earth Day back then, as well as programs devoted to urban renewal and cleaning river and water ways.

Heading into the beauty section is where I found the jackpot: aisle upon aisle of natural beauty products at great prices. Some of my favourite eco-beauty brands were stocked here. From Kiss my Face, Alba, Giovanni, Weleda, Ecotools, Dr. Bronners Soap, Live Clean, J.R. Watkins Naturals, Jasön and Avalon Organics to what seemed to be the entire collection of Burt’s Bees. They even had a lot of green cleaning and laundry supplies for the home such as Method, Attitude and Seventh Generation.


Billings Bridge Target store location and its expansive collection of eco-beauty products.



There were also many brands I hadn’t heard of yet, such as Target’s line called Up and Up, which offered organic cotton balls, pads and swabs. Other brands I discovered were Güd, Dessert Essence Organics, Severity, Meyer’s, Babyganics, Ethical Bean Coffee and Nature Clean.

Although Target isn’t known as an eco-beauty destination, I greatly appreciate their strong efforts to offer consumers affordable, healthier beauty options. It’s good for consumers and good for the companies who benefit from an expanding clientele. Although there is always room for improvement, it’s important to encourage big box stores in their continuing efforts to improve their environmental and social responsibilities.

Ilia Beauty

August 30, 2013

Sasha Plavsic is a true visionary. She combined her childhood lipstick obsession with her holistic sensibilities and set off to create a gorgeous lip line that would rival any department store brand, kick their a$$ ingredients-wise and – thanks to her background in marketing and branding – look killer sexy to boot.

Sasha is originally from Vancouver, B.C. but now calls the California coast home. She has always been creative, no doubt stemming from her great grandfather, Ilia, who the brand is named after. He was a shoemaker in Yugoslavia at the turn of the century and paid great attention to detail, craftsmanship and luxury. Inspired by his aesthetic, Plavsic keeps her grandfather’s spirit alive with her cosmetics line, Ilia Beauty, which started out as just a handful of lipsticks.

Ilia is now a name you see in countless fashion magazines (including Vogue, InStyle, Elle and Vanity Fair – just to name a few). This lipstick line is filled with up to 85% certified organic bio-active botanicals that nourish and rejuvenate the skin and is now retailed in over a hundred boutiques around the globe. Here’s a little ditty on some of our favourite Ilia products.

Ilia_PeekABoo_1_grande ILIA-glosses_peek-a-boo_grandeIlia’s gloss has a texture unlike any we’ve ever felt before. It isn’t sticky. Gold star right there. Have you ever thrown some sticky gloss on right before the wind picks your hair up and drags it across your face? *shudder* This line’s gloss offers the perfect marriage of lacquer and depth of colour and it feels incredible – like a little burst of a vitamin e capsule on your pucker. This is probably because all Ilia glosses are chock-a-blocked full of quenching ingredients such as vitamin e, cocoa seed butter, organic sesame seed oil, coconut oil and Shea butter (all of which are organic by the way). You wanna eat it? Good – ’cause you’re gonna! That’s why organic cosmetic lines such as this one are so great. We really do consume make up when we wear it, especially on the lips so you want to make sure you’re consuming harmless products. These glosses come in shades for all, from a barely there sparkle (White Rabbit), to a deep mahogany (Gypsy).

Ilia mascara is so smooth and very layerable. You’ll find it in four colours, including a grey Ashfault Jungle, which looks incredible if you have light brown or hazel eyes. I love that this mascara is made with avacado butter and aloe, making it super nourishing to help your lashes grow to their full potential.

ILIA_Karma_Chameleon_grande smear_Ilia_KarmaCameleon_grandeLip crayons aren’t at all dry like your usual lip liners circa ’96. They act like a hydrating lipstick, nice and creamy. I love these because I can outline and fill my lips in easily because of their slim form and sharpened end. For someone with thinner lips, these crayons make it easier to line and fill your lips than with the classic lipstick tubes. The Karma Chameleon shade is amazing, a coral with a punch – looks stellar on most people too.

IliaBeauty-ArabianKnights_grande 120106_Ilia-ArabianKnights_grandeTinted lip conditioners…don’t let the word “tinted” fool you. With plenty of colour and perfect hydration, these guys offer wearers a double whammy. With as many fantastic assorted colours as their big sister lipsticks, pick one (or all), and you can’t go wrong. Come this fall, Arabian Knights, a maroon berry shade, will be a staple in many womens’ make up kits.

IliaBeauty-Multi-Tenderly_grande multi_smear_Tenderly_grandeMulti sticks are a must for that healthy skin glow. A big tip I give to my clients is to opt for a cream blush instead of a powder if you want that bit of a well-fed skin sheen. Though mostly used for the cheeks, these colours could go anywhere, even on eyes and lips for a bit of a pick me up. Use in more than one place to create a look that is cohesive and natural. Soft-pink Tenderly is perfect for an angelic look while All of Me is great for most skin types and adds a glowy warmth.

IliaBeauty-NeonAngel_grande120106_Ilia-Neon_angel_grandeLipsticks. What can I say. Amazing. Stunning. Gorge. In only a handful of shades, Ilia has you covered. This line has something for everyone, from nude Humble Me, to Wild Child red, to deep and rich like a fine young Cabernet or Femme Fatal. Funnel of Love and In My Room and limited addition Desert Angel are those perfect everyday, sweet colours – we think they’re perfect for a bride too. All of these shades are staples and it’s hard to pick one fave. Neon Angel is not for the faint of heart, but if you like a wild ride, this one is for you – a bight, stark pink, perfect when paired with a dollop of Love Buzz gloss.

Q & A shop talk

These are a few of my favorite things


Ilia Beauty founder, Sasha Plavsic.

EF: You’re fave colour in the Ilia collection?

Sasha Plavsic: Arabian Knights, it’s so classic without being boring.

EF: What products are in your purse right now?

SP: Karma Kamelean and Love Buzz, perfect for summer!

EF: Our daily beauty ritual must include:

SP: A daily Vitamin C Serum really helps my skin out and I love Lina Hanson’s Face Oil. Jane Iredale Tint, I love this paired with the face oil underneath. I exfoliate three times a week – a must! Use Ilia’s All Of Me for an immediate glow and finish off with mascara.

EF: Any nicknames?

SP: Sash and Popcorn (don’t ask ;)).

EF: Ideal travel spot?

SP: Somewhere without construction – ha! No, really… somewhere far away, tropical with barely any people. And my boyfriend would be with me (awe).

EF: Pets?

SP: I wish! My schedule is waaaay too hectic.  I do get to dog sit for my mom’s rescue dog though!

EF: Fave film?

SP: The Wizard of Oz

EF: Fave TV show?

SP: Homeland

EF: Fave book?

SP: Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts, also the Steve Jobs bio is a great read.

EF: Fave dish?

SP: Green Curry, love it! And when I’m in the city (LA) I try to get to AXE in Venice.

*All photography courtesy of Ilia Beauty.

Fight winter with moisture

January 22, 2013


We’re not sure where you live, but at this moment, Ottawa, Ontario is experiencing a deep freeze. We’re talking bone-chilling temperatures of -40 with the wind chill. I know, what are we doing here, right? Well, we’re here, and there isn’t much we can do now except put on our balaclava’s and eagerly wait for spring. You may not be in as cold a climate as we Canucks, but we’re pretty sure your skin could still use some TLC. Our Beauty Editor, Lyz Plant of Plant Empire, has put together a nice little how-to on moisturizers so you can get the most out of your products. The best skin protector against the cold is moisture!

Come winter, I highly recommend to my clients switching to a heavier moisturizer. The truth is, a light moisturizer just won’t do the trick with harsh winter winds and dry air. Having one moisturizer for spring/summer and one for fall/winter means you use less of each so they last longer and that extra cost, in the end, isn’t so costly.


The trick to moisturizing your skin is to exfoliate first. Remember, out with the old cells, in with the new cells.  Exfoliating before moisturizing is definitely something more people should get into. Think of it as sanding a wooden table before treating it with oil. You don’t want to moisturize the dead skin cells that are floating at the top of your epidermis. You need to get those bad boys off and moisturize the new, fresh cells waiting to have their time in the limelight.

If you have sensitive skin and don’t want to over strip it, 100% Pure Scrub and Masks are great for you. This range carries different scrubs and masks for different skin types and age ranges. Their main scrub ingredient is jojoba beads and the scrub has a great lotion-like feel so you can keep it on for a bit and let the delicious ingredients hydrate your skin. Kimberly Sayer’s Gentle Almond & Lavender Face Scrub is super nourishing and ideal for dry skin.

SUPER FRUITS SCRUB + MASK100% Natural, 100% Vegan,Gluten free

100% Natural, 100% Vegan,Gluten free


For All Skin Types










If your skin is normal and can take more sloughing action, the Suki Exfoliate Foaming Cleanser with lemongrass and sugar is one of my personal favorites. It smells divine and is super scrubby at first but the sugar melts down as the product foams just a wee bit. Note, it isn’t recommended for people with cystic acne and rosacea prone skin. You only need a chickpea-sized amount so this stuff lasts for-evah!

Suki Exfoliate Cleanser - an award-winning, deep cleansing alpha hydroxy acid complexion rejuvenator

Suki Exfoliate Cleanser – an award-winning, deep cleansing alpha hydroxy acid complexion rejuvenator

Mist yourself with your favorite toner, (mine is Tata Harper’s Hydrating Floral Essence) and then…

Hydrating Floral Essence

Hydrating Floral Essence


If you love your creams, 100% Pure has a couple of thick moisturizers that I love, including the Super Fruits Night Balm. It is very thick in texture, smells subtly of the fruits that give it its name. The 100% Pure Organic Healing Balm is rich with a light scent of lavender. This is a true balm. It’s good to apply either of the creams at night or after an afternoon of skiing. Kimberly Sayer products (can you tell yet that I’m a fan?!) has gorgeous products and its Restore Cream is stupendous. This line is also a favorite with ladies who have skin sensitivities.

Generally speaking, face creams contain water, wax, oil and essential oils. But the oil is the real hydrating ingredient. By using pure face oils, you cut out unnecessary ingredients and get to the good stuff. Oils are big in Europe and are growing in popularity this side of the pond. Using oil to clean your skin may sound odd, but it’s no different than using an oil-based makeup remover. Oil, not water, is the best cleanser. Though oils aren’t for everyone, you only need a few drops per application so they’re great for frequent flyers.

Several face oils are good multi-taskers too, such as argan oil (like the very high grade and luxurious Kahina) which can be used on dry spots, nails and hair as well as the face. Argan oil is the ideal choice for oily skin since it quickly absorbs and is light and non-greasy. Some other face oils can be a blend of the best like 100% Pure’s Nourishing Facial Oil, with ingredients like cabernet wine, grape seed oil, and vitamins C and E. Suki’s Pure Facial Moisture Nourishing oil contains carrot and evening primrose oil and is great for normal, combination to dry skin. It is also specially formulated for mature and rosacea skin types. I would recommend these more hydrating options at night, when your skin is busy repairing itself while you sleep, that’s when you can help it along the most. All of these oils are vegan, by the way.

Kahina Oil

Kahina Oil

For an extra special treatment, or as I call it, an “I’m dating myself night”, face masks are my favourite go-to product. Bringing the spa to your home and taking some much-deserved “me time” is fantastic and when you’re doing something for your skin, well… it’s a match made in your heavenly bathroom.

Clay masks are a general no-no for hydration. They’re used to pull out skin impurities and though they’re great for oily skin, stick to more lotion and gel-like consistency masks, such as the John Masters Calendula Hydrating and Toning Mask. Calendula is such a healing plant and it’s also anti-bacterial. It contains aloe vera gel, which is super hydrating and soothing and great for dry and mature skin. Simply massage on for a couple of minutes, allow it to sit for approximately 20 minutes, and then rinse off with warm water. Follow with your hydrating moisturizer. Kimberly Sayer also has a treatment called Hydrating Anti-Oxidant Facial Mask. This is great for dry and sensitive skin and it’s also a leave-on treatment so all of the goodness including the olive extract, sea buckthorn and acerola fruit can work their way into your skin. These ingredients do a wonderful job of renewing skin cells and rebuilding collagen and elastin.

Calendula hydrating & toning mask

Calendula hydrating & toning mask


  • If your air is dry at home, consider installing a humidifier.
  • Washing yours hands is important, but can dry out hands. After washing with warm water, not hot water, lightly pat dry your hands (don’t scrub them too hard) and moisturize after.
  • Be sure to drink lots of water throughout the day. Why not infuse it with some fruit to add some zip to your aqua.
  • Treat your feet and hands to an exfoliating treatment once a month. Apply a heavier moisturizing balm and cover with moisture gloves or booties for a bit while you watch you fave TV episode. This makes SUCH a difference – the booties that is.
  • Definitely wash your face with a cleanser at night, post makeup, but in the morning, a splash of lukewarm water should do the trick. Pat dry your face, don’t rub. This way you’re not stripping away the natural hydrating oils your skin worked so hard overnight to produce.

Seeing red

December 13, 2012

Our beauty editor and owner of beauty boutique Plant Empire, Lyz Plant, has worked as a make up artist for television, film, fashion photo shoots, weddings and on runway shows for lines such as Alfred Sung and Pink Tartan. In case you’re wary of following this season’s make up trends, why not stick to the tried and true, classic red lips? Lyz shows you how.

Red lips, especially around the holidays, are always in style. Either matte or glossy, cool or warm shades, I’m always asked how to achieve the perfect red lip around this time of year. Red lipstick is an intimidating look for most. To be fair, it can be a bit high maintenance, but for special occasions, red lips are timeless and gorgeous.

Prep time: Your lips should be as smooth and as hydrated as possible. We want them soft and pillowy, not shriveled and scratchy (who does, right?) I highly recommend a lip scrub or polish. My favorite is Priya Means Love’s Smooth Lips Maple Butter, and it tastes DELICIOUS. Rub that bad boy on there for a while and either wipe or eat it away (it’s THAT natural).

  • Next, apply a super hydrating and healthy lip balm such as John Masters Lip Calm or any of the Crazy Rumors lip balm flavors.
  • Leave on to absorb for a little bit. I find if you do this step pre-foundation, complete the rest of your look and do your lips last, this timing works well.
  • When you’re ready for lip time, just blot off any extra lip balm. We don’t want the lips too slippy and give the product any chance to move around.
  • So first, lightly sweep a concealer or foundation across your lips, just to neutralize your natural lip colour out. This way the red will be truer to its colour and have a nice pop to it.
  • Then with a lip liner (such as Dr. Hauschka’s warm red) make an X (see pics below) in the crease of your upper lip. This helps keep the lips symmetrical.

After applying a thin layer of foundation to your lips (to really make the red pop) draw an ‘x’ in the middle of your upper lip and then middle of your lower lip. Photo courtesy of Lyz Plant.

  • Make another mark at the center bottom of the lower lip. From here you can feather out to the corners to create the full outline. You can adjust the shape slightly if need be, but be careful – this colour stains easily.
  • Then fill in the rest of the lip with liner.

Trace the rest of your lip line with your liner. You can leave your lips like this, but this isn’t the 1980s anymore, sorry.

  • From here, with a lip brush that isn’t too floppy or large, such as Couleur Caramel’s or Kjaer Weis’, brush on your desired shade of lipstick. For a shade that’s a more on the warmer side I love Ilia’s Wild Child and for the cooler deeper tones I like Ilia’s Femme Fatal (a bit of a deeper, darker shade) or 100% Pure’s Cabernet Lip Glaze, which is smoother than a lipstick like you mixed a lipstick and lip balm, but the colour still packs a punch.  Love!
  • You can leave the colour matte or add a clear or corresponding lip-gloss colour over top if you prefer a wet, glossy look.

This is the fun part. Fill in your lips with your desired red and either leave as matte or add a matching gloss for va-va-voom.

  • To help with possible feathering and also to make the lips pop that much more, with a concealer brush and a teeny tiny bit of concealer, very lightly trace the outer outline of the lips, and blend out. Be very careful. If you slip, you could easily blend into the red and then it’s a big hot mess!

*A trick of the trade is to steady your hand by placing your pinky finger on your chin.

There you have it – go forth and be gorgeous!

Fall fashion trends as seen in: Montreal

November 14, 2012

A strong heritage – Women in Montreal are taking style cues from gentlemen of the past

Walking along Montreal’s cobblestone streets, I’ve noticed that my fellow françaises are mimicking stylish Swedish men of today and exemplifying the heritage look of Oxford academics but tweaking it to their own tastes. I’m seeing a lot of warm woollens, fair isles sweaters, velvet, corduroys, mohair and angora toques, stylish socks, hosiery, blouses and cardigans on these damp cold days.

Colour palettes for the heritage trend are unanimously earthy toned with taupe, terracotta, cream and beige, mixed with more jewel tones such as burgundy, emerald green and orange. Aside from the infamous Hunter rain boots, the ladies of Canada’s fashion capital are taking great strides in pointer style shoes à la Johan Lindeberg to complete their look.

Hair is usually messily tucked into a toque or kept in a loose bun, and makeup ranges from neutral to a brightly coloured lip.

*1) Anna Kastle 2) ASOS 3) Stetson 4) Source unknown 5) Source unkonwn 11) Johan Lindeberg 6) Old gold 7) Bang Bang (on Etsy – bangbangfur) 8) Fjallraven 9) Simons 10) Shrinestyle

Camouflage from head to toe – Montrealers can’t hide from this staple look


Does military or camouflage ever go out of style? I think not, and the reasons are simple. Military clothing is utilitarian, durable, and defiant. Montreal guys and gals are sporting the military look this fall more than ever.

I’ve seen the look dressed up with metal toe cap shoes, bright eye shadows of orange (thanks to Dries Van Noten’s amazing F/W 2012 collection), gold jewellery and neon and other colour variations on the camo print.

These looks are easily obtainable from second hand shops and army surplus stores. There are a lot of cargo pant variations that have a more flattering cut for the ladies and less bulk than predecessors. Many sport feminine tops that contrast the military edginess of outfits with silk blouses and mesh or lace camisoles.

The colours for this look range from khaki to a variety of greens, beiges, neons and dark browns. Hair is likely to be slicked in the front and messier in the back with a pony tail, braid, or bun. Makeup is worn with bright orange eye shadow or dark lips, and always with metallic or brightly coloured nails.

*1) Elizabeth and James 2)Topshop studded flatforms 3)Topshop boyfriend coat 4)Topshop camouflage scarf 5)Dries Van Noten 6) Topshop 7) Analog beenie 8) Topshop earrings 9) Trussardi 1911 10) Zara

Byzantine Baroque – Metallic accents and intricate embroidery make Montreal’s street style effortlessly opulent


This look is prevalent in Montreal especially in regards to faux fur, metallic threads, and cap toes. It is over the top, flamboyant and rich in deep royal colours such as aubergine, oxblood, plum, gold and red and black.

Like an Etro advertisement, girls are messy haired, pale skinned and sporting rich tapestry, lace, jewels and religious charms. Although this may look expensive to put together it really doesn’t have to be. Montrealers, like Torontonians (I consider myself both), know where to find second hand trendy garments without paying obscene prices, or better yet, we make them ourselves. Some of us are lucky enough to have mothers who saved clothes from their more hippy days like velvet robes, silk foulard pyjamas and huge jewels, ahem.

Hair tends to be messy and long. Makeup consists of brown and taupe eye shadows, smoky liner and rich or neutral lips. Cheekbones are accentuated with peach blush. Nails are painted red or black.

*1,2,3,4,5, 8 all Topshop, 6) Source unknown 7) Goossens 9) H&M 10) Altuzarra William fox duffle coat 11) Source unknown

Got the modelling chops?

November 1, 2012

Models International Management and Press the Fashion Magazine are looking to discover Ottawa’s next fashion star.

In search of a unique and dynamic model, the contest will reward the winner with a full contract with MIM, a cover and fashion spread in an upcoming issue of Press the Fashion, and an advertising campaign with Originals by Andrea.

This contest is open to model potentials who meet the following criteria: women, height of 5’8” – 6’0”, ages 13 – 35 and men, height of 6’0” and 6’2”, ages 16 – 35. No experience is required. Submissions will be accepted until Thursday, November 15th. To enter, hopefuls must submit four photos (two full body shots and two head shots) with natural make-up along with their
name, age, and height to with the subject “Model Search.”

Nails with the Beauty School Dropouts

March 19, 2012


Hello! We are the Beauty School Dropouts and are thrilled to be contributing to Ef. We love everything fashion and beauty related and especially nail related. Our passion is hand-painted nail art and we document all of our experiments here.

Here are a few examples of some designs we have done:

For Ef, we are going to venture into the world of non-toxic nail products. When we decided to take on this task, we did not really know what “non-toxic” meant. So, we did a little research. Interestingly enough, what we found is not what you would expect.

So, what does non-toxic really mean? Non-toxic, in the world of nail products, means the product is formulated without the use of harmful ingredients like Formaldehyde, Toluene, DBP or Parabens. This can also be referred to as “3 Free.” Formaldehyde is used in several instances, some of which include processing film, as a tissue fixative, and as an embalming agent. Formaldehyde is highly toxic to all animals regardless of method of intake. Toluene can be used as a common solvent in fuel, and as a coolant. Inhalation of toluene has been reported to cause several unwanted neurological effects including memory loss, hearing loss, and vision loss (yikes!). Parabens are used as preservatives in beauty products and are surrounded by controversy. Some believe that long term use of parabens is safe while others insist on more research into the effects. As support, the latter group cites the detection of small levels of parabens in a small sample of 20 breast tumors and the demonstrated ability of some parabens to partially mimic estrogen, a hormone known to play a role in the development of breast cancers. So, it seems the jury is out on this one.

Butter London is a brand name we have heard thrown around a lot in relation to being non-toxic and, indeed, it is. This means, it is advertised as being 3 Free. However, there are several other brands that are also 3 Free, including Deborah Lippmann, Essie, OPI, Chanel, Dior, Color Club, Zoya, Spa Ritual, and Scotch Naturals (the list goes on!). Our guess is that the only reason these brands aren’t as readily associated with being 3 Free in our minds is because their advertising and marketing simply hasn’t highlighted it as heavily as Butter London.

We predict that as we research and try out different brands of nail polish, we will come across several varieties of “non-toxic” products and delve more deeply into the ins and outs of what is and is not eco-friendly. We hope that you check in on our adventure to make sure that the products you’re using to spruce up your fingertips are of high quality, safe and of course, gorgeous.

Get beautiful skin, now

September 26, 2011

_MG_4367Ottawa-based Oresta Organic Skin Care Confectionary heals more than skin deep

After a hectic day of meetings, assignments and errands, a luxurious facial at ORESTA organic skin care confectionery was just what I needed to unwind and relax. The plan was to interview the owner and namesake of the confectionery, Oresta Korbutiak, and then receive a facial by her expert hands. Get the work out of the way and slow down. I could get used to this routine. I entered the store and was enveloped by soothing smells of lavender. Korbutiak was seated by one of the corner shop’s main windows, posing for our photographer extraordinaire, Marissa Baumeister. When the shooting wrapped up, Korbutiak greeted me with a warm smile and the soft hands of someone whose skin is in constant contact with heavenly moisturizers. She wore a beautiful stretchy jersey-like dress with elegant silk folds in a calm blue. The talented aesthetician not only personifies her business in name but in spirit too and I immediately feel my muscles ease and my thoughts decrease as we sit down to chat about ORESTA and skin care over a delightful cup of peppermint essential oil tea.

We begin by discussing the top five skin care misconceptions. Korbutiak is a woman who took her skin care into her own hands, unsatisfied with store goods and unwilling to sacrifice her health for ineffective products. She must’ve studied the dos and don’ts of skin care before embarking on her own journey to build Oresta and I want to know her secrets.

You can over cleanse – People think that tight skin after a cleanse means good skin, but it doesn’t. A cleanser sets the tone for the entire skin care routine and tight skin means your cleanser is too aggressive for you. When Korbutiak finishes cleansing my skin with an Éminence cream-based cleanser, she asks me to feel my cheek and says, “This is how your skin should feel after a cleanse.” My skin is moist and supple, not dry and stretched out. 

An aggressive cleanser will contradict your moisturizer – Applying lotion to soothe your agitated skin won’t help. Remember, the cleanser sets the tone for the rest of your skin care routine so if your skin dries out use a gentle, non-foaming cleanser. Not only will your skin feel clean and healthy but it won’t suck up your moisturizer like a dried out plant. Korbutiak sends me home with two types of moisturizers and a packet of Argan oil. The moisturizers are effective but my skin sucks them up quickly and still feels a bit tight. This is most likely because of the cleanser I’m currently using. It has a lot of fruit juice in it and is too aggressive for my skin. I try the Argan oil and fall in love. It soothes and calms and doesn’t leave my skin feeling greasy. I think this is the fountain of youth for moi.


The fewer bubbles the merrier – Sulphates such as Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulphate (SLES) are ingredients in many products from shampoos to toothpaste and detergent that create the suds we so dearly love. Unfortunately, these are some bad bubbles. Sulphates are skin irritants and should be avoided. Exposure to this chemical can result in eye damage, severe skin irritations, hair loss, urinary tract, bladder and kidney infections. All ORESTA treatments use Éminence organic skin care, a certified organic, all-natural line of great products that I can’t wait to purchase. For best results, Korbutiak told me to apply a cream cleanser to dry skin, dip my fingers in warm water and massage the cleanser around. This is now my favourite part of my cleanse because the cream becomes so smooth and I can’t help but feel like I’m putting warm butter on my face, mmmm. For more information on other harmful ingredients, read here.

You can over exfoliate! – Although it is an important step in your skin care regime, you shouldn’t do it more than once a week. Exfoliation helps remove excess dead skin cells that can clog pores. However, because our skin is self-regenerating, over exfoliating can remove your skin’s natural oils, causing it to become dry, produce more oil and cause break outs.

It’s not all in the genes – Yes, some people are blessed with good genes that allow them to get away with washing their faces with only soap and water. But chances are they also lead a healthy lifestyle. Your skin is the best indicator of your internal health so the more junk food you eat, the less exercise you do, the more alcohol you consume, the more your skin will show signs of wear and tear just as much as your liver and expanding waistline. To improve your skin, improve your diet and consider eliminating dairy, wheat and sugars one by one to see if you can’t pinpoint the culprit that is causing you skin troubles. In addition, eat more living foods like grapes, carrots, antioxidant-rich blueberries, greens and yogurt.

Armed with this initial information, I dig deeper to get more tips and tricks to improve my skin care routine. Korbutiak is very realistic when it comes to switching your skin care routine to one that is more natural. She doesn’t encourage people to just throw out their current products and start from scratch. It’s wasteful, unnecessary and costly. Instead, finish your current products and do your research. Test a variety of all-natural, organic skin care lines and figure out which works best for you. Korbutiak strongly believes that you are the expert on your own skin. So inform and test until you find what makes your skin happy.

Here are some other tips that will help you along the way to better skin:

If you have sensitive skin like me, avoid extreme temperatures. Yes, this is almost impossible if you live in an area like Ottawa with our cold winters and humid summers, but this refers to your water temperature too. I use to cleanse my face with hot water and then rinse with cold water. I grew up reading in beauty magazines that you use hot water to open your pores and cold water to close them but Korbutiak tells me that this is near torture for my skin and might explain why I have redness and can get blotchy. So, for the past two weeks, I’ve been using lukewarm water and what a difference! My skin tone is even and redness is way down.

The skin around your eyes is very thin and sensitive. Avoid dragging your fingers or hands across your eyelids and under your eyes. This constant pulling and tugging will prematurely stretch the skin, not to mention spread germs from your fingers to your eyes – a surefire way of getting sick.

Rather than tell teens to never squeeze their zits, Korbutiak gives zit popping lessons during her teen skin care workshops with local high school students. “Teens experience a lot of hormonal changes with their skin so the teen years are the perfect time to educate them on simple, proper skin care,” says Korbutiak. “It’s inevitable that some of them will pop their pimples, so we teach them how to properly do it – after cleansing, with toilet paper on your fingers to avoid transferring bacteria to your skin”.

Change your moisturizer with the seasons. “People like to stick to their products and that’s fine, but as your skin changes with the seasons, look at adjusting your moisturizer,” says Korbutiak. In the winter, most people will need a thicker moisturizer than what they use in the warm months.

Beware of green washing and pink washing. Green washing I had heard of, but pink washing was a new concept to me until Korbutiak explained the term. Green washing is a tactic used by many companies to label their products with generic words like ‘natural’, ‘eco-friendly’ and ‘green’, regardless of whether or not they actually are. The idea is to attract consumers into buying something because it says it’s green. Unfortunately for these companies, consumers are smart and we know more and more about the difference between ‘green’ and certified organic, etc. As for pink washing, this is when a product is painted pink in support of cancer. People buy the product because they want to support a good cause but it’s almost counterproductive because the product itself may be harmful to your health.*In an effort to support cancer patients, Oresta offers one free facial every week throughout the year to a client who is undergoing cancer treatment. “Many of these women are going through chemotherapy and their skin reacts to the toxins. So we pamper them to soothe their skin, help them de-stress and feel good,” says Korbutiak.

My heavenly facial lasts what seems like a lifetime. Every step of the routine, from the cleanse to the moisturizing, includes a lovely massage. I am pleasantly surprised when Korbutiak not only massages my arms and legs but even tweezes my eyebrows. Now that was the icing on the cake for me. I leave ORESTA feeling calm and beautiful. My skin is firm, supple and glowing! I’m also equipped with a slew of samples to try at home. I book another facial for next month in preparation for a wedding. I may have to return early to buy my new favourite skincare products. Once you find the secret to healthy skin, you can’t go back.

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