New Ribbon
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If I had to nominate an inspirational creative to motivate aspiring British fashion designers, Fred Butler would be at the top of my list. Somewhereto_ saw the magic, too, and chose the colour-loving designer READ MORE...
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NET-A-PORTER has gone sporty with their 7-Day Body Reboot, a daily fitness and healthy diet program presented as a video series. I think this is brilliant for two reasons. First, it's a smart way to promote READ MORE...
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Following the wrap-up of Stockholm Fashion Week is the launch of a new collaboration between two Swedish fashion greats, skate/street brand WeSC and design duo Altewai Saome READ MORE...
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The Design and Craft Fair, MADE LONDON, returns to One Marylebone 24-26 October to present the very best in contemporary craft and design. Showcasing over 120 READ MORE...
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It's called Ripley's Aquarium of Canada (as opposed to Ripley's Aquarium of Toronto which would follow the format for their US locations), which is not helping the general READ MORE...
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I opened the cover of a new landscape photography periodical I had just received called Land/Sea and began browsing the photos and words as I walked into my kitchen READ MORE...
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Yes, this is a men's fashion post. And it feels right. This season's London Collections: Men was my first ever thanks to an invitation from long-term London Fashion Week sponsor Toni & Guy READ MORE...
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April 13, 2014

Review: Pro Naturals Argan Oil Hair Repair System


If anyone was in need of hair repairing, it was me. When I could no longer bear the shoe polish look of my virgin hair (or as close to virgin it could be after leaving it alone for about 18 months), I decided I needed a change and the only way to go was a lot lighter. It seemed cruel that my natural colour not only did absolutely nothing for me, but it actually made my facial features look harsh and it aged me. And cruel because virgin hair has two major things going for it that I couldn't continue to benefit from without great compromise: it's free, and it's healthy. But I was willing to sacrifice some money every eight weeks or so as well as some shine and elasticity to not have the grim reaper staring back at me in the mirror. (I do sound critical of myself I know, but if you saw my UK resident card, passport and drivers licence and random snapshots on friends' mobiles, you would nod enthusiastically for my plan. Not good, not good.)  

I started cautiously, going for the ombre or dip-dye approach to lightening because it leaves the roots natural, and so the look is pretty much maintenance-free. But despite having it done professionally, it fried my long hair so badly that I had to get inches cut off my layers, and that barely helped. Soon I'd had enough of this half-and-half look (I highly don't recommend it), so I had the top of my hair highlighted. But he didn't blend it in with the rest. I saw someone else a couple of months later and she brought all of the colours together. What a process! In the end I loved the colour, but my ends were tough and straw-like, despite having regular and generous cuts. I didn't know what to do - who wants hard hair? Not wanting to return to the unflattering natural colour or cut all my hair off, I stuck with it but was self-conscious of my weird 'do. Now what I'm about to say is going to sound like an informercial, but I assure you everything is true. And thank goodness it is or I'd be sporting rasta hats right now. 

With what could not have been better timing, I was sent the Pro Naturals Argan Oil Hair Repair System, which as the name suggests, is meant to fix damaged hair and contains natural ingredients with no sulfates. It includes a shampoo, conditioner, hair mask, and argan oil that can be applied as a leave-in treatment, and each product contains 100% pure Moroccan argan oil. I've been hearing great things about this oil for years and have been using it on my face, but this is the first time I've tried it in hair products. In all of my years of taking care of my hair I have never actually found anything that repaired hair, which would work by protecting and smoothing the cuticle so hair does not appear frayed and broken. I was hopeful, but not expecting any miracles; in my experience, only a brutal cut is the solution to damaged hair. The Pro Naturals website says to use the products for one week every six weeks, alongside your usual routine to repair your hair and maintain its health. Well, the first time I used the shampoo and conditioner - which smell fantastic by the way, as does the oil - I actually saw a difference in my hard ends, after blowdrying. I couldn't believe it. When I touched them my fingers felt something I didn't think was possible - soft hair! I hadn't even used the mask yet and was yet to apply the oil. I've since used the mask which is a dream, just like the conditioner which leaves your hair completely soft with very little product used yet neither weigh your hair down as they don't contain silicone, and no double application is necessary which is what I used to have to do with conditioner  just to get my hair tangle-free and soft in the shower. But my hair would still feel and look frazzled after blowdrying (if I didn't blowdry it just looked terrible so I couldn't win). The oil is great for keeping your hair soft from one shampoo to the next and seems to protect it from whatever makes it dull and damaged, such as heated appliances and environmental stresses such as pollution. It absorbs completely and your hair never looks oily. (High quality oils will never appear as oily.) And the smell is absolutely heavenly.

After a week of using the system and a week of my old shampoo and conditioner I still have soft hair; it does seem to have actually been repaired. The cost of the Pro Naturals Argan Oil Hair Repair System is £99, so it's an investment. But as you're only using it for a week every six weeks and each application is minimal, it will last a long time. It's also much cheaper to buy the whole set than purchase the products individually. 

Do I think the Pro Naturals Argan Oil Hair Repair System is worth it? Yes! It saved my hair, and now I can be blonde without looking like my hair is in pain - I can actually look good which is the point! I'm running my fingers through the ends right now and it feels great. Oh! One more thing. The last two times I had the colour done we did only partial highlights with peroxide, then the last time I had a whole head done and we used mostly bleach. With the peroxide, which is meant to be less damaging than bleach, I found my brush would get caught in my hair when it was wet and I had trouble blowdrying it, no matter how much conditioner I used. This time we did bleach all over and it should have been even worse, but thankfully I had just received the system and we used it to wash out out the bleach and condition it after (I have a mobile colourist come do it in my house) and not once since having it done have I had the brush drag through my wet hair. I want to horde these products so I never have to be without them. (I really should have done a before and after, but I had no idea the results would be so dramatic.) Highly, highly recommended. 

If you would like more information about Pro Naturals and keep up with their news you can follow them on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Google+

February 11, 2014

The Secret Anti-Aging Ingredient to Look For

Flawless_skinWe all rely on our skincare routines to deliver skin that's clean, healthy, and most importantly, young. We have our favourites - I won't give up my tried and true cleanser for anything - but we tend to be on a constant lookout for the next breakthrough product, the one that will give us quick, dramatic results. But would it surprise you to learn that sitting silently in your jar alongside the latest 'innovations' in anti-aging products is an inexpensive ingredient proven to significantly improve and reduce fine lines and wrinkles? 

Collagen is a natural protein that promotes elasticity in human skin. Anti-aging products contain a chemical known as peptide Matrixyl that is believed to nearly double the amount of collagen that skin produces, thus making it firmer and younger looking over time.

For years, peptide Matrixyl was known as a 'miracle ingredient' that helped cosmetic products reverse the signs of aging. Many cosmetic companies went to great lengths to protect their market share and keep this key ingredient a secret in an effort to stay competitive, citing their own proprietary ingredients as the miracle workers. But now that the secret's out, a veritable 'Matrixyl frenzy' has arisen amongst in-the-know consumers.

Many anti-aging products boast high numbers of peptides but rarely specify what kind. Since peptide Matrixyl has become known within the cosmetic community, women are now able to source products that contain the specific ingredient and ensure they're getting the most effective creams available.

To get the most out of your anti-aging products, look for those developed for night applications as this is the time when skin is most receptive to the active ingredients that fight signs of aging. During the day, skin cells are doing battle with everything from pollution to light, so night time is when our cells rejuvenate - but only if we sleep, so get as much as you can. As well as peptides, active ingredients found in night creams include vitamins, anti-oxidants and oils which work through the night to restore skin and prepare it for the day to come, and most women who use night creams will notice an improvement in their 'morning face' - I know I do! They're a lifesaver after a long day, and especially after a long night out. And remember that adequate sleep, proper hydration, and a healthy lifestyle are the most effective ways to look vibrant and youthful. 

September 25, 2013

Enhanced: Breast Augmentations Up by 35%

We're not completely sure, but if Gwen did go for it, she opted for the subtle approach most women are choosing these days

If you haven't already noticed a certain 'enhancement' in some of the female figures around us, a recent article published on MYA has confirmed that we are indeed in the midst of a 'boob job boom'. In fact, this year has already seen a 35% increase over the number of breast augmentations performed in 2012, which appears to show that more and more woman are opting to go under the knife regardless of the restraints of the recession. And with three months still left to go until Christmas, it seems that the boob job trend hasn't even peaked. (Have you heard that the sale of lipsticks skyrockets when times are tough? I guess this is the more permanent version of doing something to feel better about ourselves when everything else is looking dire!)

What makes the boom even more surprising is what women are choosing to have done. One might assume that they're going in for an attention-seeking, more-than-ample bust like certain famous glamour models as was the trend in the past. You're there anyway, right, so why not make the most of it? Not quite. Today, bigger isn't necessarily better and quality is winning over quantity; the majority of these women are seeking only a modest increase in their breast size. According to the Aesthetic Plastic Surgery chairman, patients normally increase by only a cup size or two, indicating they are seeking a more natural enhancement over the car-crash-causing kind. 

While there are other avenues to explore if you want to give your bust size a boost, most women are eventually drawn to the instant results of implant surgery. But why the sudden increase? According to the broad spectrum of MYA patient stories, there are a multitude of reasons women are having their breasts enlarged, from insecurities about their body to seeking a little uplift after having children. As a result of its growing popularity amongst 'real' women, it is now viewed as a much more acceptable procedure and is likely a reason we feel more comfortable about seeking advice and information with regards to the operation.

Are you noticing this trend with your friends and aquaintances? I've been surprised several times in the past couple of years to find out that some women I know have implants, mostly because I'd have had no idea had they not told me, and they all cite 'I just want to look as I did before my kids' as the reason. Fair enough! 

July 05, 2013

Seven days, Seven styles - The Versatile Ponytail

Hershesons ponytail

The ponytail; a hairstyle that is an absolute saviour when you simply don’t know what to do with your hair, or when your hair needs washing and you really can’t be bothered to make any kind of effort!

Whatever the occasion, the simple ponytail can be updated, adapted and changed to suit your individual look and the best part is, a ponytail only takes a few seconds to achieve.

Whether you add hair accessories to your ponytail or place it high or low, here are 7 ways you can channel this trend and style it differently each day. It really is that simple.

Monday morning: The High Ponytail

Most people either decide on a high or low ponytail depending on what suits them. If you prefer a high pony bring all the hair up just past the middle of the head and fasten securely with a hair band.

Tuesday: The Plaited Ponytail

Tie the hair in a ponytail as you would normally, section into three pieces, plait the hair and fasten the end with a hair band. Add an invisible ponytail if your hair is lacking thickness and volume for a plaited effect.

Wednesday: The Low Parted Ponytail

Use a comb to create a straight parting and then simply pull the hair back and tie it as low as possible at the back of the neck.

Thursday: The Twisted Ponytail

Once your ponytail is complete, take a strand of hair and wrap it round your ponytail to cover up your hairband.

Friday night: The Glamorous Evening Ponytail

Pull any loose strands of hair back tightly off the face, fasten with a hair band and secure neatly with a touch of hairspray.

Saturday: The Curled Ponytail

Once your ponytail is in place, take straighteners or a curling wand and create a few curls which will add volume to your weekend hair.

Sunday: The Poker Straight Ponytail

The simplest look of them all for the laziest day of the week! Straighten the hair from root to tip and then tie it up in a ponytail, voila!

Whichever ponytail look you are trying to achieve, take a look at the Hershesons website for tips and inspiration, or to browse a selection of invisible ponytail extensions.

Image: Courtesy of

December 19, 2012

My Favourite Things for Holiday Prepping

It's getting closer and closer but I wanted to share some of my favourite products that are perfect for getting ourselves ready for festive events and also for gift-giving. Each are personal must-haves that I can recommend as products you can rely on to be of excellent quality and do what they promise. This is hugely important to us these days as no one wants to waste money - and time - on things that disappoint!


ghd hairdryer I'd given up on buying professional hairdryers after two purchases, a few years apart,  turned out to be no better - and in the case of one, not even as good - as the cheap models I owned. I didn't see the point in spending four or five times the money unless the results were extraordinary (duh, a no-brainer obviously). My faith was unexpectedly restored when I tried the ghd air™ (£99) which promises to be "quicker and quieter with smoother and shinier results" due to its 2100W motor, body shape and advanced ionic technology. Let's focus on those words 'advanced ionic technology'. I've heard about this for a few years and paid no attention, I thought these were just the next beauty trend buzz words to get people to buy more products that they didn't need. ghd tells us this technology will "lock in moisture for softer, shinier results that last for longer, with far less frizzing".  Is this even possible in a product made for drying? Well, when I first tried this model a few weeks ago my hair was in need of a cut - my back layers were starting to take on that awesome pom-pom look which is always the point of no return, and the ends also needed a good trim thanks to the dry heat in the house we can't get away from in winter. The first time I used the ghd air™ I noticed it was really quiet (I'd gotten used to my old one sounding like a jet taking off in my ear) and it felt nicely balanced and streamlined, a good weight without being too heavy. And yes, it was powerful and dried my long hair quickly. But what I couldn't believe was that when I was finished, my back layers were defined again and not hanging in a frizzy mass; it looked like I'd just had a haircut.  Let me be clear: no one is lazier than me when it comes to blowdrying, I don't even use a brush while I'm doing it. I send that hair flying all over in a wild frenzy and then brush it out when it's all dry and hope for the best. My results were all down to this hairdryer and I'm still in disbelief at how well it works. I was able to put off my haircut for another three weeks and could have gone longer if I wasn't travelling to Toronto (that was my Christmas haircut). My hairdresser comes to me - mobile is so the way to go! - and I told her about my new magic dryer. She said she'd also been looking at it and asked if she could try it out on me. I said of course she could, other hairdryers are no longer allowed around my hair! She loved it and said she was going to ask for one for Christmas, and she also commented on the good condition of my hair before she'd cut it, she wasn't used to seeing it without the frizz. It's also great as a gift, presented in a very pretty, stud-embellished box. I can't recommend this hairdryer enough. It delivers what it promises.

PsPure + simple Skin Restoration Mask and Eye Brightening Cream As you know from my recent post gushing all over Pure + simple, I've been a huge fan of their holistic approach to skincare and wellness and have been using their natural, organic products for over a decade. I tried the Skin Restoration Mask ($16.45) a few weeks ago and when I saw that it left my skin incredibly soft and glowing and as smooth as glass, as if I'd done something far more extreme than applying a treatment, I realised how ideal it would be to put on before you go out on a special day or evening, as the first part of your makeup routine - you just don't want to waste that face at home! It is literally a mask, a gauzy piece you place over your face that's full of soothing rejuvenating ingredients. Give yourself at least 30 minutes to relax with it on so you get the full benefit (your eyes aren't covered so you can still see). For the eyes I love Pure + simple's Eye Brightening Cream. It's lightweight and has a firming and toning effect which is essential for me as I'm prone to allergies which make your eyelids feel 'loose' - not a good look. It includes a peptide complex that also helps to improve lymphatic circulation and elasticity to reduce under eye bags and puffiness (which I used to call My Morning Look). And dark circles are minimized by a flavone extract from the blue passion flower. Ultimately, I love the way it feels when I first put it on, like a breath of fresh air for your eyes. As always, the Pure + simple products deliver more than you had even hoped. During the holidays we're expected to dress up a few times, but I'm realistic and I always go for equal measures of looks and comfort. I know I'll be eating, so anything too restrictive around the waist is out, and I like a bit of stretch. But I still like nice details. Thanks to Zalando's wide range of clothing (massive, really) you can find any dress you need or want at any price point, and I found mine in this Private School jumper dress (£85). It's a stretchy knit (comfort!) that is easy through the waist (food!) and the intarsia collar and placket create a neat trompe l'oeil effect (detail!). It fits on the small side so you have to order up a size, but the quality is fantastic - the intarsia was perfectly knitted - and the shape is very flattering on the body. The black is nice and saturated, and the 'trim' is simple enough that you can play around with textured tights or go straight school girl with basic opaques. If weather permits, it looks fantastic with a simple black court shoe (or a bright if you're more daring), but if it's icy out and a heel means you'll wind up on your back on the pavement, this dress will also look great with a knee high wedge boot. (And don't most people want you taking your shoes off at the door anyway? I once had trouble getting a party guest who arrived with a friend of mine to take off her high heeled boots after coming in with slush all over them, she didn't want anyone to know how short she was. We already knew. When I pressed it she hopped up on the kitchen counter and stayed there most of the night.) And as for accessories? Styling can be fun, but I love it when the outfit is enough and a simple pair of earrings is all you need to finish the look. This is that dress. Ok, this is a bit weird because I am showing you my underwear, though that's not me in them (but you can think that if you want to). On the left is the greatest underwear ever, called Edgies (£9.99) due to their breathable Wonderful Edge® silicone finish at the legs that keeps them in place, and it really does, without any rubbing or irritation. In other words, you won't be dying to get them off at the end of the day. They're made of a microfibre that is so fine it's like wearing nothing, so they're invisible and totally comfortable. I go with the boy short style but they also come in other styles. In the middle is the Body Wrap Boy Short (£19.95) which is also invisible, seamless, light and comfortable. I go for these when I'm wearing a dress for a bit more smoothness through the hip. They come in a range of fashion colours and I love the Diva Dot in beige. Lastly, because I have a drawer full of bodyshapers that I just hate because they have weird seams that show through clothes in unfortunate places, and are not at all comfortable to wear (rhymes with 'Spranx'), I tried something different to wear under jersey dresses that hide no secrets. The Full Smoothing Bodyslip (£32.95) is by the same people that make the Edgies, so it's seamless and the hem doesn't ride up. And you don't need to wear a bra with it, it's got molded cups with adjustable straps and it does the trick for me (still feeling weird about telling you this). It's only a '1' for control (the lowest level) but it definitely holds you in. And there it is! If you're frustrated with your shapewear or even just your every day wear (Edgies are awesome for jeans and working out) I highly recommend giving these a try. And they're not expensive either. Win-win!

December 07, 2012

The Pure + Simple Way to Healthy Skin

Pure + simple's Kristen Ma explains why natural skincare is important for our health as well as beauty

Ten years ago, I walked into a beauty shop and spa next door to my office building at Yonge & Eglinton in Toronto. I'd worked next to Pure + simple for quite a while, but until that day had hesitated to venture in. The name suggested natural skincare, and I'd come to mistrust those who claimed to sell natural skincare products because I knew that a hugely popular, global company that based their entire philosophy on the concept were not as they appeared, and there had been an exposé on some smaller producers of 'natural' products mostly sold in health stores, which made me believe there was really no such genuine thing being sold commercially. (At this time I had no reference for Pure + simple,  unaware of their stellar reputation in the city and many awards. I was still kind of new in town.)

Do the Opposite

I finally walked through their door when I'd had enough of being greeted by the oil slick on my face in the washroom mirror at work. I'd never had oily skin before and didn't know what was going on. I bought blotting papers but they were a temporary measure. (One day my male director appeared around the corner of my cubicle and found me with one stuck to my forehead and each cheek, I'd just left them on for some reason. I said "Um, I've got a bit of an oil problem." Better to be honest because it certainly warranted an explanation, he thought I'd decorated my face with Post-its.) So I found myself standing in Pure + simple when a young woman, with skin so clear and fresh it reminded me of what skin is actually meant  to look like, approached. I told her about my problem and she explained that my skin was dehydrated and was compensating by producing more oil, and that I needed a heavier moisturiser to rehydrate and balance it. The last thing I wanted to put on my visibly oily skin was cream, especially a heavy one, but nothing I was doing was helping so I thought that sounded crazy enough to work. I bought the moisturiser she recommended and was really impressed that she was so confident about the principle behind what she was telling me, yet she was not at all pushy about it. I put it on that night and again in the morning. I remember the next day my face was hardly shiny at all and I couldn't believe how quickly it turned around, and the oil never returned. Needless to say, I went back. I wanted to know more.

Kristen Ma and Ayurveda

KmaThat vibrant young woman with the enviable complexion was Kristen Ma, co-owner of Pure + simple Inc., along with her mother Jean Eng. They created their first product range after finding nothing suitable on the market to address their skincare needs.  I found out that there is a specific ideology behind their holistic spas that I wasn't familiar with - both are Ayurveda practitioners in addition to being highly skilled estheticians, and approach the attainment of beauty through health. Kristen explains it for us in her first book Beauty: Pure + Simple - a must-read for anyone frustrated with their skin despite having tried everything, or just not feeling generally well (the two go hand-in-hand). Ayurveda guides us to live in harmony and beauty, according to our individual constitutions, known as doshas, and our environment. Unlike western medicine which focuses on alleviating symptoms and conditions with drugs and surgery, Ayurveda searches for the root cause and treats ailments from this perspective. It specifically considers the characteristics of the individual, while understanding that our mind, body and environment are always changing. Makes good sense, eh? I've been on the other side of the Atlantic for the past seven years but I always come back to Pure + simple when I visit Toronto - they do the most heavenly facials which are second to none, I've got one booked just before Christmas - and their products and advice always straighten me out.

The Products

Although I've been a Pure + simple devotee for over a decade, somehow the only products I'd tried from their proprietary line were their organic hydrosols which I just love - I alternate between rose and lavender, the latter also being great for oily scalps and refreshing what I call 'plane face' after a long flight. All of my skin and body products had come from their shops but from other high quality natural and organic lines they carried. Well, recently I found out what I was missing and was also introduced to products from the new specialised Holistic Vanity lines for Damage Care and Rosacea Care, Kristen's brainchild. All are made locally in Toronto using undiluted and concentrated, organic, therapeutic ingredients harvested seasonally and are free from ALL of the harmful ingredients commonly found in commercial beauty products (you can see a list of the undesirables at the bottom of this page).

So what do I think? I love the completeness of the Damage Care line which offers a treatment for each sin you've put your skin through at one time or another resulting in cellular injury. I'm guilty of causing some: sun damage (when I was a teen they still sold suntan oil with no SPF!) which leaves you with hyperpigmentation that becomes more pronounced as you age, and the thing we all do even though we know we shouldn't - picking. Those little scars your mother warned you you'd cause if you didn't leave your spots alone but you'd escape to the bathroom to willingly annihilate your face in private? Got some. Add the effects of pollution, stress and free radical damage and pretty much anyone will have a skin issue that needs addressing.


These products gently yet effectively help improve specific damage symptoms:

Rejuvenating Rosewater Cleanser - It all starts with proper cleansing. This milk formulation hydrates depleted skin as it removes damaging surface impurities. My skin looks so fresh afterward as it contains absolutely no stripping agents to cleanse the skin.

Repairing Rosehip Skin Tonic - This tonic smells heavenly, thanks to water extracted from the rosehip fruit. Rosehip has been found to be excellent in treating pigmentation and is one of the only natural, non-bleaching ingredients to do this effectively. It's a treat to put on your face.

Edit: I clued in this morning that I didn't give the Rosehip tonic enough credit! I use it twice a day after cleansing and the lightning fast, almost complete removal of the hyperpgimentation on the sides of my face is probably due more to the tonic than the lotion below. The lotion surely does the job, too, but I use different moisturising products from this list on different days, and the tonic is consistently applied twice  a day so I think I owe it the credit for this small miracle of a transformation. Use it with the brightening lotion below and you'll be rid of that 'dirty face' look in days. Seriously. It's been three weeks for me and there's hardly anything there.

Brightening Hyaluronic Lotion - Something about the combination of seaweed extracts and the 15 percent hyaluronic acid - one of the best actives for increasing skin hydration and encouraging cellular repair - makes this hyperpigmentation fighting lotion work. I'd only used it a few times and wasn't even looking for any improvement as it was so early, when I noticed that the 'sandy' look on the sides of my face was reduced, looking a lot less blotchy and now barely noticeable. Amazing. And it achieves this without bleach. (Why would you put bleach on your face?!)

Regenerating Seabuckthorn Berry Oil - This is the healing one, helping to repair skin marks, weak tissue immunity and scarring. Loaded with nutrients, it's great for undernourished skin types and it also provides topical protection as a shielding barrier for damaged complexions. I still get a little surprised when I pump it and see its bright crimson colour from the Seabuckthorn Berry oil. But don't worry, the addition of evening primrose oil prevents it from staining your skin. I feel like I'm giving my skin a hug when I put on this soothing oil.

Restorative Raw Argan Oil - When my skin is angry (those hormonal times so enjoyed by my loved ones) I turn to this oil that repairs broken out, sun damaged, and inflamed complexions and helps to restore balance and increase tissue health. Made with raw argan, this oil is crafted with care by the artisans of an all-female co-operative in western Morocco. Its entire extraction process is done completely by hand and sustainably, employing a zero-waste approach.

And I have one product from their excellent Rosacea Care line which is the Comforting Camellia Oil. I don't have rosacea but my skin can go red and blotchy for some reason at times, so I'm glad I have this on hand. It contains skin comforting Camellia (green tea oil) as well as the ancient Ayurvedic anti-inflammatory Turmeric (also known as curcumin), and permeates deeply to charge the skin with extra resilience.

Don't be afraid of using these oils on on your face - all Pure + simple oil products are free of petrolatum and parabens and are non-comedogenic, meaning they will not cause breakouts. I can attest to this!

We've had some face-stripping windy and bitter weather here by the sea recently, and if my skin isn't protected properly I come home looking looking like a fine leather glove left on the radiator to dry out (I know what this looks like because I stupidly did this once). So on those days I've been using Pure + simple's Nourishing Sunflower Cream with an oil on top of that, and not once have I come in from the cold resembling a wizzened leather good. And you can blot with a tissue if you look oily, but I've never needed to, it absorbs completely into my skin and you would never know I put oil on my face. I always rub the excess oil left on the palms of my hands onto the backs, and from just this tiny amount I have seen a major transformation in how old my hands look. (Has anyone else looked down only to be horrifed that your hands look 20 years older than your face?) I am now a total oil convert. As long as it's Pure + simple.

For more advice on how to find that healthy balance visit Kristen's blog Holistic Vanity, and see her fantastic YouTube channel for all kinds of insightful videos including collaborations with other Toronto experts on topics such as healthy digestion, anti-inflammatory diets and DIY all- natural styling and beauty products.

September 11, 2012

Beauty Tips for Autumn Gorgeous Skin


Now that summer is nearly over and fall approaches (please don't shoot the messenger), we all have to prepare for dropping temperatures, long-sleeved clothes, shorter days and longer nights, and windy weather (actually I get most of that year-round living on the north east coast!). Often the change from season to season means feeling bad and exhausted because of the lack of sun and warmth. Furthermore, the risk of becoming ill increases since the body and its defenses have to adjust to the new temperatures, the lack of sun and the various bacteria. Various irritations as well as dryness and reddening of the skin are visible consequences of the harsher weather. To support the body and the skin it is essential to treat it with various balms and creams to supply it with moisture and energy. Keep in mind that the skin is the human body’s largest organ and should be given proper care and attention, it's not just about looking good!

Keeping the skin soft and healthy

On the BB cream website I found a cream that has not only protective properties but also covers up blemishes, making it absolutely ideal for the cold season. I dread that moisture-stripping weather when I've had a breakout, the look is not exactly 'dewy'! Irritations of the skin like the reddened areas on your nose in times of illness can simply be treated with this lotion, making the blotches instantly invisible. And since the irritated areas are not only concealed but at the same time supplied with ingredients like panthenol, titanium dioxide, zinc oxide and liquorice root to moisturize, protect and calm the skin, these irritations will be healed quickly. To protect your lips from cracking, remember to treat them liberally and often with a lip care balm at the first sign of cold - don't wait until they hurt!

Stay healthy in the first place

To prevent getting a cold, try these tips:

Make sure your body gets enough rest so you'll have enough strength and energy to successfully fight bacteria (my new rule is no laptop past midnight)
Eat and drink enough to supply your body with the energy it needs
Wear warm clothes to prevent your body from losing warmth
Get your vitamins to increase your body’s stamina
Make sure to get enough exercise and oxygen each day

Sounds like a plan!

August 31, 2012

Through Adventurous Eyes

I was just a young teen in Canada when I found myself at the mall with time to kill while my mother was running some errands. We walked in through a big department store that had an optical department, and when I was left on my own, my curiosity about coloured contact lenses led me in to investigate these little miracle workers in person. This was around the time that coloured lenses hit the consumer market and all of my fashion magazines were plastered with ads, showing us how we could enhance, or even change, our natural eye colour. Usually they used brown eyes as an example, which is my eye colour, further feeding the general notion that anything was better than brown. (This was around the time that Cindy Crawford lost out on jobs for being too 'exotic'! Thankfully, things have since changed across the pond.)

So I walked in and took a look at the selection of opaque colours, of which there was only one very bold shade option for each. The optician asked if I wanted to try them to see what they looked like, and I excitedly said 'Ok!' and chose green. Everyone goes for blue, but my dad's eyes are hazel green so I figured these would be more believable. A rush of adrenaline raced through me as I anticipated the magic that was about to happen. But this poor guy had the unenviable task of putting a lens on my uncontrollably blinking eyeball, and when he finally got it in, my eye had watered so much that all of my mascara had been washed down my cheek, and in my attempts to wipe it away, I wound up with some on my forehead. The optician looked mortified as he handed me a mirror, and I saw a face smeared in streaky black with one brown eye and one that looked like a green marble from a set of Chinese Checkers. Back then they only had one type of opaque lens, and they were not subtle. They covered the dark ring around your eye and the colour itself, the 'iris', had no tonal variation. If looking soulless and artificial was your thing, they were perfect!

Many years on, coloured contacts have come a looong way. You can get them with a defining ring, the colours are more natural with tonal flecks, and unlike the early versions that were somewhat of a financial commitment, they are no longer expensive. And with lower cost, high quality lenses available you can switch them up and try different shades as they're meant to be used for just a few weeks. Actually, you can get a pair from a reputable brand for less than the cost of most eyeshadow compacts, which puts them in the same category as say, a pair of fashion eyelashes that you can bring out when you want to be a bit more adventurous (they will keep fresh in a proper contact lens case for 30 days). I wasn't aware of all of this until I had to get reading glasses and began looking into contacts. The idea of playing around with my colour for a tenner is tempting, and with my tendency to wake up with puffy eyes thanks to allergies creeping in through the night, I could use some help in making my eyes more appealing!


You may even want to darken your eyes with lenses to make the most of your beautiful browns

June 08, 2012

Sleep Rollers you can actually sleep in

I remember the rollers that my mum would put in my hair when I was little, they were similar to these Sleep-in Rollers (above) in that they were pink and foam, but they had a built-in plastic clip that locked them in which didn't feel too good while sleeping. It made me have dreams that my head was caught in a chicken-wire fence. And then when I was a bit older, my hair was curled with these hard plastic steam rollers that had notches on them, they were really heavy and poked your scalp, and I'm pretty sure they were a torture device modified into a beauty product. As a teen I tried the cut-up rag method. I twisted each tiny section super-tight, just to be sure, and tied a strip of torn pillow case around each one. When I undid them in the morning - and I'm not exaggerating even slightly - the sides of my hair were parallel with the top of my head. I looked like Roseanne Roseannadanna. I tried to put a hat on to flatten it and looked like this.

Curling irons, no matter the size of the barrel, also proved disastrous. Some pieces wouldn't curl at all, and the ones that did looked like transplants from the head of a 1980s cheerleader. It's been years and years since I gave up the notion of big, bouncy hair. But I'd been thinking about trying again, I have long brown hair that reminds me daily that I only have one trick: the blow-out. So when I received an email about Sleep-in Rollers recently, a nice and simple foam roller just like the originals and covered with Velcro, I asked if I could review a set. Lovely Loti sent me two packs of 10 rollers each and a pink storage bag, which is what you get when you buy a set (currently priced at £16.50) plus a pouch of Kirby hair grips which you can purchase separately (£3.50), or use your own if you already have them. (The rollers stay put on their own but the grips will keep them snug so you get the most out of your curl.)

So the other night I went for it. I followed the recommendation that they work best on clean, dry hair. Because I take three times as long to do anything (my husband will eagerly confirm this), and I've never been good at doing my own hair, I was expecting I'd be at the bathroom mirror until my eyes were about to fall out. To my delight, I had my hair rolled in 10 minutes and they were so light I kept forgetting I had a head that had doubled in circumference. And despite the length of my hair I had three rollers left over, so the set should be enough for mostly everyone.

Time for the real test: could I have a good night's sleep in them? The foam core is meant to flatten when you lie down. So I put my head on the pillow. At first it felt like I had two pillows under my head. I could feel the Velcro touching my scalp, but it didn't hurt or itch. It couldn't have been bad because I was soon asleep and slept through the night. I think once you settled into the pillow, the rollers slowly collapse so they become more comfortable a few minutes on. In the morning I couldn't feel the same sensation I felt when I first put my head down. 

And the final test: did my hair curl? I took them out and had noticeably bouncy hair with a lot of body, which was exactly what I was going for. I didn't use heat or any product, not even hairspray, and I've still got volume the next morning.

Final verdict: I will use my Sleep-in Rollers again, and that's saying a lot coming from someone who has no patience for fussy or time-consuming grooming rituals and is totally inept at hair styling.

 Photo © The Swelle Life

March 16, 2012

Chasing the Perpetual 'Good Hair Day'...

TgIt's time to get back to beauty, both in blogging and daily life. I've been very lazy in the hair department, letting a good hair cut do all the work, blowing it out and however it looks, it looks. However, I'm not really apologising for that, I've never aspired to be that girl who gets up at 6am to start a two-hour primping ritual! But I do need some inspiration before things get scary.

My product use had been non-existent due to disappointment, and then I tried two shine products that I surprisingly loved, and I left it at that - until London Fashion Week last autumn. I was sent some products from Toni & Guy, sponsor of LFW and creators of many of the hairstyles seen on the catwalk. (I've always wondered why they don't give samples in the LFW bags?)  I like to use products for a while before I give an official opinion as hair is so fickle, and I can say I've never been so impressed, and dependent on a product, until now. That's a grand statement, isn't it? When you have very long hair that is fine, you're always seeking body and texture so it looks good and you can  justify having so much of it.

The standout product is the Sea Salt Texturising Spray from Toni & Guy's Casual line of products. It's for texture and body, and unlike mousses and root sprays - the performance of which seem to be at the mercy of how your hair responded to a shampoo that day - it works every time.  It gives instantly noticeable texture that also keeps hair light, like hair that dried in the sun at the beach. For me, it works best if I use it just at the roots and leave the length alone. My hair is fine but I have a lot of it, and the texture of the spray is so noticeable that I could easily end up with a rats' nest. Which could be great for some crazy hairstyles if you're more daring than I am!

Next and most crucially, I am desperate for a really good hairdryer. One that doesn't promise 'max power' and then blow so weakly that it could be outdone by an open window. I've been considering investing in a professional model and since I constantly see them winning awards for their styling tools and they seem to be an industry and 'real woman' favourite, I'm looking at a ghd hairdryer (did you know ghd stands for "good hair day"?), particularly the ghd air which is "Professional strength 2,100 Watt AC motor at 240v" - that will blow out the kinks! - and advanced ionic technology. That's a bonus, I'm just happy for the power. If you have this hairdryer please let me know how you like it?

Just a tip when buying brands such as ghd online: be sure to buy your products directly from the company - the real one! - and approved distributors. You don't want to hand over your card details to counterfeiters and receive inferior products, especially when they are electrical.

Here's a video demonstrating Toni & Guy's Sea Salt Texturising Spray along with a couple of other products. But really, the spray is all you need to get this look:




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