Category Archives: skincare

VANITY PICKS // JOANNA HILLIER

We asked Joanna about her favourite beauty products:
“I love Korres White Tea Gel Cleanser because it leaves my face feeling squeaky clean but still hydrated. I also use coconut oil for everything–hair masks, makeup remover, cleanser, moisturizer, spot treatment. It works, it’s cheap and it smells good!”

–Joanna Hillier, author of food blog, Joanna Banana Bread

NUXE // HUILE PRODIGIEUSE

This “all-purpose” oil is a cult favourite, and was also one of my pharmacy grabs in Paris. I mean, when I saw the amazing price, how could I not pick it up?? Normally this oil is $50 in Canada, and I picked it up for 13 euro. That’s a steal if I ever saw one.

To be honest, once I was at home and looking at it, I wasn’t really totally sure what to do with it at. The bottle came with no instructions. I thought to myself, should I put it on my face? No, I don’t want to accidentally aggravate my chin pimples right now (though you can use it on your face). Should I put it in my hair? That could work. Should I use it instead of body lotion? Well, I am about to jump in the shower, so, why not!

After patting dry after showering, I sprayed this oil on (the spray nozzle is very handy), and was amazed by the texture. Huile Prodigieuse is classified as a dry oil, and it might sound like a weird concept, but once you spray this super-lightweight oil on, it has a dry touch to it. It is very hydrating, but not thick or greasy. It doesn’t feel like you’re covering yourself in Crisco. Just a luxurious almond-scented oil.

I’ve also sprayed this on my ends for a hydrating hair treatment. If your hair is suffering from second-day smell, this will refresh it and make you smell amazing. You can also use it as an after-sun treatment to restore moisture to the skin and hair.

I was told that I smelled like an angel after using this product. Can’t really sell it any better than that.

NUXE // REVE DE MIEL LIP BALM

On my frantic run through the pharmacie on Rue du Four in Paris, I instinctively grabbed a pot of Nuxe’s Rêve de Miel Lip Balm (and I’m so glad I did). I had heard so much about it, and needed a good lip balm without any colour or sparkles that had good lasting power and intense hydration. I just cannot handle it when I forget to bring a lip balm with me wherever I am going–as soon as I notice I don’t have one, my lips instantly feel dry and it’s all I think about until I can get some balm on.

The consistency is quite thick, but not sticky at all, and you barely need any of the honey and grapefruit-scented formula to save your lips from that tight, dry feeling. The weight of the little pot also makes it feel luxurious when you pull it out of your purse for application.

P.S. I thought it was quite comical that on the box it says “Tested in extremely cold conditions in Canada”.

WEDDING SKINCARE PREP PART 4 // ESSENTIALS

In the lead up to my wedding, I was pretty stressed…and you could see it on my skin. Not so much on my face, but my chest. Never before have I suffered from any kind of chacne (chest acne) and I truthfully had no idea what to do with it.

At first I noticed some colourless bumps on my chest appear, but since they weren’t real pimples and were just under the skin, I figured they would probably go away and wouldn’t be a problem. BUT, then I went for my hair trial.

I was freaking out in my head the whole time. As soon as I sit down in the chair, the girl doing my rollers complains that my hair is so fine and slippery and is making the hot rollers fall out, then the hairdresser complains how stubborn my J.Lo-like baby hairs won’t stay in place and my hair frizzes when she touches it, and then the updo I wanted doesn’t look how I imagined it in my mind. I like to think I am no Bridezilla, but with my lack of sleep, stress and then this, as soon as I saw Jordan when I got home I burst into tears. Jordan looked at me, gave me a hug and said, what happened to your chest?

Stress gave me chacne, y’all. Not cool three weeks before the wedding.

Don’t fret, my hair turned out fine on the day. As did everything else, but stress and lack of sleep can wreak total havoc on the skin.

Anyways, on to my pre-wedding skin prep routine. This is all about exfoliation, protection and hydration.

Following my facialist’s advice to use very lightweight moisturizers in the lead-up to the wedding (you want skin to look plump and youthful), I used Babor’s Skinovage Moisture Plus Serum day and night to pack in the moisturizer without any heavy oils. In the morning, I applied Lancome’s Advanced Généfique eye and facial serums to keep any fine lines at bay and to help even out my skintone. At night, I used Visionnaire to give an extra punch to any forming stress wrinkles and even out my skin texture. I locked everything in with Kiehl’s super lightweight but very hydrating Ultra Facial Oil-Free Lotion.

Once a week I used Ren’s Glycolic Lactic Radiance Mask to unclog pores and exfoliate my face. This is crucial for keeping any new pimples at bay and fighting any current spots and bumps. When the chacne happened, I even used this twice on my chest. On my newly resurfaced skin I applied Kiehl’s Rare Earth Deep Pore Cleansing Mask to draw out any impurities and clarify my skin (also applied to both face and chest twice a week).

I also made sure to protect my face from any new freckles, burns or pigmentation (if you are using glycolic acids, you need to be protecting your new baby skin) with Neutrogena’s Ultra Sheer Water Light Sunscreen. This super lightweight liquid packs a serious punch of protection with SPF 60. I made sure to double cleanse my face every night when using sunscreen to ensure that I had throughly removed every last bit.

Even though I wore fake eyelashes on the big day, I wanted to have a good base of lashes, and really, who doesn’t want full, long lashes everyday of their lives? Every night I applied Fusion Beauty’s StimuLash to grow long, thick, dark lashes. Just make sure you don’t get this anywhere other than your lashes, hair will grow!

And finally, to keep my hair in primo, silky condition I applied Kiehl’s Olive Fruit Oil Deeply Repairative Hair Pak to keep my hair hydrated, healthy and free of split-ends.

THE FRENCH PHARMACY

Yesterday, after visiting the Catacombes, we headed over to City Pharmacie, the drugstore legendary for their amazing deals and selection of French pharmacy brands.

I was excited the whole duration of our stay in Paris to visit this place. We left the shopping to our last day in the city (also loaded up on tea from Mariage Frères), and every night before bed I would tell Jordan how excited I was the visit the holy grail of beauty and skincare.
I was not let down. Jordan waited patiently outside for me in the scorching sun ( this place was PACKED) as the aisles were too narrow and crammed full of shoppers for his liking (he once got hit by a girl in Aritzia and he now avoids women’s boutiques like the plague and waits outside for me while I shop).
I would suggest going here right when it opens in the morning at eight to avoid the crowds of women. Don’t be put off by what I’m saying–it is so worth it to stock up here on French brands.
I bought the biggest bottle of Vichy sunscreen I’ve ever seen for €10, three toners from La Roche-Posay for €3 each (!!!–you cannot buy these in Canada, they are only sold in France), two Avene lip balms for €5, Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse for €13 (normally $50 at home), Nuxe Reve de Miel lip balm for €6, the cult favourite Homeoplasmine for €3.50 and Retinol from Roc for €22.
I could have spent even more time and more money in there had the people not been so annoying and had Jordan not been waiting for me.
Some other great French brands not to be missed at the Pharmacies:
Caudalie (so incredibly cheap in France)
Klorane (my favorite dry shampoo)
Biafine (intensely hydrating lotions)
Embryolisse (for the cult favourite moisturizer)
Bioderma (for their famous Crealine)

IN-FLIGHT

Knowing that we would have a 7-hour flight to Paris, I wanted to arrive to the first destination of our honeymoon looking well-rested and fresh-faced. We would be arriving in the morning, not being able to check-in to our hotel until the afternoon, so I wanted to be able to step off the plane, quickly change and explore the city.

Here was my plan: inject as much hydration into my routine as possible and get some sleep.
After being served our dinner (thank goodness I ate at the airport before getting on the plane), I removed all of my makeup except my eyeshadow and mascara with a N7 wipe. I followed up with a refreshing spritz of Beauty Elixir (plane air is NOT refreshing) then whipped out my trusty sample of Kiehl’s super hydrating Avocado eye cream. I smothered on a few layers of Kiehl’s Overnight Hydrating mask (the drying cabin air had already sucked the moisture out of my skin), applied some 8-hour cream to my lips and cuticles, and then coated my hands with l’Occitane’s Shea hand cream.
I popped a Gravol, took out my contacts, got sleepy watching Life of Pi in French, and put on my eye mask for a few hours of sleep.
When I woke up just before landing, I gave my face a once over with another wipe, applied my moisturizer and Bliss’ de-puffing eye cream and my Dior Hydralife for a bit of sunscreen and to even out my skin. I also had my trusty Lancôme concealer (I started panicking when the air pressure made it start coming out of the tube quickly) and my favourite Chanel lipstick (Rouge Coco in No.5 Mademoiselle) for a bit of colour to my face.
Bright-eyed and semi-bushy tailed I was ready! Until I fell asleep again in the taxi…

KATE SOMMERVILLE // CLARIFYING TONER

For someone with acne-prone, oily skin, toners were always the step of my skincare routine that I thought got rid of the zits– possibly because for years, a toner was only good in my eyes if it stung. However, I’ve acquired a tad more education on these astringents and, well, made myself even more unclear on which one I should be using. The whole science to it is quite confusing and everyone has their own opinion on what a toner needs to do, if any at all (I once heard that if you are using a good cleanser, no toner should be required at all. hmm.). So stumped and dry out of my last toner, I did the rounds at all my favourite beauty joints (mainly via internet) and found this Kate Sommerville one to be most promising.

Basically, I want my toner to treat any current breakouts, prevent new ones, control oil and fade acne scars. That’s all! Yah, so, I had to accept the fact that there is no solution on earth that will really work that kind of magic, but I’ll take what I can get. Hence, the clarifying toner from Kate Sommerville. I actually first heard of the brand by it’s highly acclaimed spot treatment, EradiKate. So, I figured Kate must be pretty good in the acne department. This toner promises to fight off acne-causing bacteria (check), lighten acne scars (check), control oil (check) and unclog pores (not on the list, but check). This stuff should be everything I’m looking for (and more).

I don’t even think you can classify my skin as ‘oily’ because it is far more oily than practically every girls’ I’ve met who claims to have this skin type. Yah, blah blah blah, it ages slower and so on, but it is a pain in the ass 24/7 and I would trade it for anything. In terms of this toner, I wouldn’t say it controls oil throughout the day, more so it keeps oil at bay for around three hours. I’ll take that. As for my breakouts, I’d say this stuff does what most toners do… keeps things regular as in a few zits here and there but nothing major. But, where this stuff shines is the whole fading of discoloration category. As most sufferers of acne can agree, most of the time the actually spot isn’t the problem, it’s the WHOLE shebang that surrounds it, ie. redness (!!!). And to top it all off, once the pesky zit goes away, we’re left with a scar. Not cool. But this stuff lightens my scars and my discoloration, fighting half the battle of us acne-prone soldiers. I can dig it.

–Anna Raponi

RODIAL // GLAM BALM MULTI

I actually won this product not really knowing what it did. But boy, am I glad I entered that contest. This is my new favourite product for getting my glow on.
Rodial boasts that there are over 100 ways to use their  Glam Balm Multi, and I believe it. You can use it as anything from a lip balm, to a facial moisture mask, to a hair mask, to a primer. I’ve been applying it as a moisture mask overnight and have been waking up with plumper, more hydrated skin. My marionette wrinkles a even a little more filled in.
After applying my other serums I just put a thin layer of this oil/gel/cream/balm all over my face (and I mean all over, even on my eyelids). In preparation for my wedding, I want my skin to look as healthy and clear as possible and this product is definitely helping me get there. I also plan to smother this on my face on the plane this July for my honeymoon so that I arrive all fresh-faced. I’ll also mix it when some hand cream to pump it up a bit. Nothing worse than cabin air for sucking every last bit of moisture out of your skin.

ANNA’S CLEANSING ROUTINE

After seeing Amanda’s acne-free, clear complexion, I was eager to try out her new, slightly intense cleansing routine. Basically,you get your water as hot as you can (like burning your hands hot), and soak your face towel. Once you’ve lathered up your product (as I will get to momentarily), cover your face with the hot towel. Take three deep breaths. Relax. Find your inner zen. Then, rinse the towel, and repeat twice more. Finish off by either a) rinsing the remaining product with cold water, or b) rinse towel, scrub your face, then rinse the towel once more with cold water and apply to your face.
I usually look forward to washing my face at night– I mean my makeup usually feels pretty gross by then, plus I cringe at the thought of all the dirt that ends up of my face from just the air and my hands. Nonetheless, whether you wear makeup or not, cleansing before bed is SO important for clear, healthy skin. I use a makeup removing wipe on my cheeks, chin and forehead (only avoiding my eyes, they just sting too much) to get the majority of the product off. Then, I get any remaining foundation/concealer with coconut oil, lathering my face and neck for around 30 seconds (thanks for the idea, Joanna). And I know you’re probably thinking, like why would I want to spread oil on my face, that’s just asking for breakouts, well let me set the record straight. I have extremely oily (I mean it), acne-prone skin, and using coconut oil has not made me 1. breakout nor 2. made my skin more oily (heaven forbid). Plus, it’s like ah-mazing for your skin (along with these other oils). I’d like to think of it as like my all-natural (and much cheaper) dupe for those covet-worthy Shu Uemuera cleansing oils. I take it all off with the routine I listed above, ending off with option b. Now, you may think we’re done, but this is why I say this routine is slightly intense. I then wash my newly open pores with this Avene cleanser, going at it for around 45 seconds to a minute, rinsing with cold water. As you can imagine, I sleep well knowing my face is squeaky clean.
7 a.m. Wake up, turn on my tunes, dance around while laughing with my friends, this is a typical monday morning in my house. No. This is not a Clean and Clear commercial. No matter how long I’ve slept, the ring of my alarm pisses me off every morning. I trudge over to the sink and get the show on the road. With the same Avene cleanser, I get bubbly for around 45 seconds to a minute (still pretty angry that I’m awake and have to go to school). This is where I shake off my tired trance and, well, actually wake up. I follow the procedure I mentioned above, finishing with the a method (rinsing with cold water). I find scrubbing of any sorts leaves my skin quite red– not ideal for applying makeup.
Since following this deep cleansing routine, my skin has felt noticeably softer and while I am not acne-free (unlike lucky Amanda), I am not breaking out as much. Hey, I’ll take what I can get.
–Anna Raponi

AMANDA’S CLEANSING ROUTINE

Feeling frustrated with my face (as always), and after devouring Caroline Hirons blog, I decided it was high time to revamp my cleansing routine. I had gotten lazy, relying on my Clarisonic to do most of the work, and when I wasn’t sonic-ing, my hands could not wash my face fast enough. All in all, I was really not cleansing my face properly.
In walks the Eve Lom balm cleanser, with her 8-step cleansing and massage routine with a muslin cloth. Before I knew it, I had started to love washing my face, taking lots of time to steam with a hot washcloth. And, I was enjoying the results. My complexion was already becoming clearer, brighter, and well, cleaner.
Since my skin is prone to becoming congested, I decided to take Caroline’s advice and start using an acidic toner. I was already using Ren’s Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal mask once a week, and loving the results, but it scared me a bit to be using acid on my face twice a day. However, I had no reason to be afraid. Peter Thomas Roth’s toner has way less acid than the mask, but is effective at kick starting your skin into action. You epidermis will begin to turnover its cells, making way for new ones and dissolving the old ones. My skin is already getting much clearer, the scars are fading and the little red bumps under the skin are disappearing. According to her, your skin should be an acid environment so as not to promote bacteria from growing. When your skin is more alkaline, this is when bacteria spreads and acne forms.
Caroline prescribes following the acid toner with a hydrating toner. I had attempted to purchase Ren’s Hydrating Toner (Caroline approved. Ren also makes an exoliating toner.), but was not able to find it in Sephora (maybe it is not carried in Canada?). Instead, I was recommended Nars’ Multi Action Hydrating Toner, which is also supposed to aid in brightening the skin, turnover, and is alcohol-free (a quality you want in a toner. The Peter Thomas Roth toner does contain alcohol, however, it was the only exfoliating toner I was able to find at the moment. It is also the fifth ingredient listed, so I don’t believe that there is enough of it to have a negative effect.). I do love this toner, and appreciate the extra step of injecting some moisture into my dry skin. I also appreciate the bottle’s design (sleek, modern, etc.), however, the cap is kind of big and obnoxious and takes up a lot of room in my skincare storage basket (which is always overflowing).
Lastly, I have added a second cleanse to my nighttime routine. Following a good, deep cleanse from Eve, I use Ren’s Mayblossom T-Zone Control Cleansing Gel with a muslin cloth. This was a winner for me because it is non-foaming (a.k.a. it will not strip the skin, thus prompting my skin to produce even more oil) and it works well. My skin doesn’t feel tight afterwards, just nice and clean. Added bonus is that it helps to balance and control my oily nose area.
Further reading/watching: