Tag Archives: exfoliator


Just after Christmas, my co-worker and I were in the office kitchen talking about her Birchbox package, and told me her favourite item in the whole box was Vasanti’s exfoliator, Brighten Up. Continue reading VASANTI // BRIGHTEN UP, LIPSTICK AND PICK ME UP


Since asking Eva for some advice on getting my skin to look it’s best for my wedding day, I’ve been inspired to not get a facial and get myself ready at home with a few products. Continue reading WEDDING PREP PART 1 // REN SKINCARE MASK


Last week, I was invited to experience a Margaret Dabbs pedicure. I had heard so much about Margaret from British beauty blogs, and her frequent mentions in Porter magazine, so I was really interested to see what made the products a cult favourite (not to mention Margaret is a celebrity favourite).

Margaret Dabbs is a chiropodist from London, and has pioneered the dry pedicure–there are no massage chairs with jet-powered basins here.

All of the products are made with Margaret’s signature ingredients of Emu Oil and Lemon Myrtle. Emu oil is a natural analgesic (anti-inflammatory and soothing like Advil) and the oil itself is actually closest to human’s natural oil composition, so it is quickly and easily absorbed into the skin. It also contains vitamins A & E (skin repairer and antioxidants), Lineolic Acid (eases muscle and joint pain), Sapogens (skin softeners) and Terpines (antiseptics). Lemon Myrtle is used for its soothing properties and it’s clean scent.

My wonderful aesthetician Ellis began by filing my feet to remove all of the dry, dead skin (I had not been soaking my feet as wet skin masks the area that needs to be treated–Ellis pointed out the spots on my feet that would have been missed had they been wet). This was a really interesting way to start the pedicure as it was totally different than what I was used to.

After the filing and nail trimming, she shaped my nails with Margaret’s Crystal Nail File. The crystal creates a smoother finish and prevents any splitting or breaking of the nail.

Only once she was done pushing back my cuticles and prepping my nails did my feet hit the water. Ellis had filled a large bowl with the Hydrating Foot Soak (which can also be used in the bath). A small amount of the Exfoliating Foot Mousse was then massaged on to my feet to eliminate any remaining dead skin.

After being dried off, my feet were covered in the Intensive Treatment Foot Oil (which smells lovely and lemon-y) and followed up with the Intensive Hydrating Foot Lotion (which can also be used as a body lotion). I’ve been applying the lotion nightly to my feet, and I have to say I am quite impressed–normally I am foot lotion-averse because I hate any greasy feeling on my feet, but this absorbs very quickly and is light and not greasy or oily in the least.

In the summers I am constantly being attacked by bugs at the cottage, and I was advised that the ingredients of the Lotion will actually keep the bugs away–I will definitely try this since even OFF! Deep Woods can’t keep my legs from getting 20 bug bites.

If you’re not one to splurge on monthly pedicures, investing in Margaret’s Foot File, Exfoliating Foot Mousse and Foot Lotion is a great way to keep your feet looking pretty and soft with minimal effort while feeling luxurious.

Margaret Dabbs 1


Sometimes, in the skincare world, all it feels like anybody talks about is exfoliating–scrubs, brushes, toners, masks, moistruizers, serums, etc.etc. the list goes on and on.

I’m a huge fan of exfoliation, but over-exfoliation is dangerous territory. Skin can become red, raw, inflamed, and thin which makes skin more sensitive to touch and the sun.

It can be hard to restrain yourself from too much exfoliating–who doesn’t want baby smooth, soft skin every time they wash their face? Exfoliation is necessary, but we must be careful what we’re doing it with and how often.

If you are using several different treatments on your skin, i.e. serums, toners, moisturizers, retinol, acids, etc., then it is important to make sure that what you’re using doesn’t cancel out another product’s function. I, myself, am now using a doctor-prescribed retinol at nights on my face (for acne), so I need to make sure that I’m not combining retinol with glycolic acids, because glycolic will actually render the powers of retinol redundant.

As of right now, my exfoliating includes using my Clarisonic in the morning, followed by Clarins Gentle Exfolliator which contains a small amount of glycolic acid.

At night, I simply just double cleanse, apply my retinol and eye cream, wait an hour (to let the retinol sink in), then apply moisturizer. Retinol on its own will resurface the face, and can cause some flaking or peeling, so it is important to be gentle with the skin when using this ingredient. Once or twice a week I may do a scrub (Exfolikate, which yes, contains glycolic, however, I rinse off the scrub so it doesn’t matter) if my pores are feeling congested, and one night a week I might use Alpha H’s Liquid Gold.

So here we are finally. Onto the review of my two toners.

Clarins Gentle Exfoliator: This is a great introductory toner for someone who is nervous about using acids. It is so gentle, no burning or stinging, and has a lovely slightly thick feel to it. Less watery, more lotion. Lovely.

Alpha H Liquid Gold: This is a much stronger exfoliator, at about 5% of acid. I use this totally alone at nighttime. I know. So boring and plain, right? But, by excluding any extra serums or moisturizers, it allows the acid to work, uninterruptedly. Don’t worry, your face may feel slightly dry at first, but the feeling goes away. It can be used under a moisturizer, but I prefer to let it work to its full potential.

Who knows–this still may be considered as too much exfoliating for one person, but I really feel like my pores get congested easily, and this formula helps to keep breakouts at bay and my skin smooth.

As always, please remember: If you are using any products at all that contain any acids or retinol, you MUST use a sunscreen. Your skin becomes more photosensitive from these products and any anti-aging/scar or dark spot diminishing you were hoping to accomplish will be all for naught if you don’t wear a sunscreen.



Toronto is buzzing about Province Apothecary–Canada’s newest addition to the natural skincare game. Julie Clark, PA’s founder and creator, makes all of the products herself in Toronto. Julie is a Holistic Health Practitioner and Aromatherapist and incorporates her knowledge of essential oils and natural ingredients to create beautiful, healing skincare products. The range contains only natural, raw, wild and organic materials that are sourced locally.

Julie also creates bespoke perfumes and gives holistic aromatherapy skin care treatments in Toronto. I cannot say enough good things about this brand–products that are so natural that you can eat and they work (plus, I love the beautiful packaging).

Moisturizing Cleanser & Makeup Remover: For some reason I was expecting this to be a cream, but it is actually an oil (a mix of sunflower seed, avocado, jojoba, raspberry seed and evening primrose, to be exact)–and a really nice one at that. Sunflower seed oil is easily absorbed into the skin, rich in vitamins and non-comedogenic. Often cleansing oils are mostly mineral oil, which clogs pores, and I was so happy to discover an all-natural oil cleanser that worked. The fragrance is light but beautiful, with extracts of rosemary leaf, bergamot and lavender, but not overpowering or irritating by any means. The oil is lightweight and leaves skin feeling so, so soft and really hydrated. It does exactly what it says. I use this with my Clarisonic sometimes and always finish with a wash cloth. Definitely my favourite of the four (though I really love the toner as well).

Invigorating & Balancing Toner: Again–smells just amazing. Witch Hazel and Geranium wake you up with their bright scent. Spray on after cleansing or throughout the day for a Beauty Elixir-esque pick-me-up.

Repairing & Conditioning Lip Balm: This is a really light balm, that smells great, applies like butter, but isn’t overpowering. Lavender, Calendula and Peppermint hydrate and heal cracked lips while giving the illusion of fresh breath. I would think that boys would love this gem as it doesn’t have a shiny finish or any tint.

Regenerating & Stimulating Exfoliator: A really gentle and versatile scrub that can be tailored to any skin type. Mix 1 tsp of the exfoliating powder with the product of your choice, based on your skin type: honey for acne, yogurt for oily skin or AHA exfoliation, and oil or cream for dry skin. The scrubbing granules are made of oatmeal, making the particles softer than your average scrubbing beads (great for more sensitive and delicate skins).


The people at Kate Somerville where kind enough to send along a few of their products for us to try out. I had been wanting to try out their products for a while, as I had heard so many good things about them.

Exfolikate: The granules felt really sharp at first, and I was a bit alarmed (it’s been a while since I used a scrub), but this is a product that you massage VERY gently onto your skin for 30 seconds then allow the acids work by leaving it on your face for up to two minutes (depending on how sensitive your skin is). Rinse off to reveal baby smooth skin. I use this twice a week to help decongest pores and bring under the skin bumps to the surface.

Yes, I know, that using a scrub on acne can spread the bacteria around, but I think that to properly exfoliate the skin, you need a bit of manual exfoliation every now and again. This scrub has circular jojoba beads so it’s not going to scratch up your face like any old Apricot Scrub.

Goat Cream: I personally hate goat cheese, especially the smell, so not to worry: this pretty much has no fragrance at all. If you’re an oilier girl, I wouldn’t recommend it for daytime use without a powder (I wore it this past weekend (sans powder) and my husband asked me if I was sweating–I hadn’t powdered my forehead), but great for nighttime. Very hydrating, and light. Perfect for dry and sensitive skins, especially those with acne (which speaks right to my complicated dry/acne-prone skin! Salespeople never understand me, and try to give me non-hydrating oil-free lotions). Since it has goat cream, it contains lactic acid which helps to resurface the skin.

Plus, I know this doesn’t affect the actual formula of the product, but I adore the packaging–not for it’s looks (though, the purple is nice and all), but because it has a push-down top that dispenses the perfect amount of cream for both your face and neck, so you’re never sticking your fingers into a pot, contaminating the rest of the cream. Win!


Beware: this toner smells faintly of onions, but if you can get past that, it’s a great exfoliant, will fade acne scars, and your face will look clearer and feel smoother.

Why does it smell like onions, you ask? Because it contains onion extract (along with sulfur, helps to regulate oil), among the other natural exfoliating ingredients of lactic acid, glycolic acid, citric acid, etc. The smell fades after a few minutes, but right after application, you are definitely hit with the pungent smell.

While I was in Paris this past summer on my honeymoon, I had a few priorities (other than, you know, sightseeing)–hit up the famous French discount pharmacy, pick up a tonne of Marco Polo tea from Mariage Frères, eat as many pastries and quiches que possible, and see if I can search out the ever-elusive Biologique Recherche Lotion P50 toner.

I figured that it would probably be available in the pharmacies, but I was wrong, it was nowhere to be found. Then, finally, on our second-last night in Paris, we were walking the Champs-Elysées, and through a small alleyway and a courtyard to my right, I see some steps that lead up to a clean, white door, and marked beside it? Biologique Recherche.

It was their only spa in Paris.

But it was at the end of a long, hot day full of walking, and I couldn’t possibly bear trying to convince my new husband that I needed a very expensive toner from this particular spa RIGHT NOW and it was the only chance I would be able to get it during our whole stay in Europe. I mean, I had already dropped a bunch of money at the pharmacy, added about 5 pounds to our already heavy luggage, and now I wanted yet another beauty product? He is very understanding about my beauty product obsession, but I didn’t want to push him too far. I mean, we still had 2 weeks of the vacation together, and who knew what else I was gonna buy?!.

Normally, I/most would expect a toner that contains acid in it to sting, because then you can feel that “it’s working”, right? P50 contains no alcohol, which eliminates that stinging feeling, and also will not dry your skin.

This lotion helps to eliminate any clogged pores, and helps to re-balance the skin and kick it into high gear so that it learns to self-regenerate. It also regulates sebum secretion, moisturizes, and balances the skin’s acid pH.

I must admit, at first the smell put me off, and I wanted the sting back from my Peter Thomas Roth toner, but you see the results. My chin acne is pretty much gone now, and my skin is clearer and has a more translucent, glowing quality to it.

I apply this toner day and night after cleansing as my first toner (I follow up with a hydrating toner, La Roche-Posay’s Serozinc). P50 is also a multifunctional little gem as you can also use it on any in-grown hairs (hello, bikini line), or post shave as a preventitive treatment on yourself, or your man.

Now, this isn’t the cheapest toner in the world–and it’s pretty hard to get your hands on some as it’s relatively unavailable in Canada. However, you can order it in from the US from a spa.

I really wish that I could keep using this product once my bottle is gone. If it hadn’t been for some lovely PR people, I never would have been able to try it. So, if you find yourself in Europe, do search this out and stock up with a few bottles–you won’t regret it.


I’m sure you can all remember your first not so great part-time job. This summer, I needed a job. I handed out what felt like hundreds of résumés around town, with no replies. Then, before I even had time to think, I had not one, but two part-times in food retail. I’m not complaining– they kept me busy and funded my shopping habits. But, my bosses said, “for obvious reasons, nail polish is off-limits”.

Off limits you say?!?! I’m a teenage girl AND a beauty blogger for Pete’s sake! No consideration.

Anyways. I decided that if I couldn’t have my nails painted practically all summer, then my hands had to look pretty darn good on their own. I normally have pretty rough cuticles that no oil nor cream has ever been able to tame. So, as per usual, I spent some time on sephora.com and came across this scrub from L’Occitane. Why had I never thought of a scrub before? This one is super gritty and binded together with shea, grapeseed and almond oils, to both exfoliate and nourish your paws. Oh, and you only have to scrub for a minute, hence the name ‘One Minute Hand Scrub’. It makes my bare hands look polished and oh so soft, all in 60 seconds.

–Anna Raponi


Even though the days are getting longer and hotter, some of us spend the majority of our time indoors at school, work, shopping, etc. Thus, when the time comes, nobody wants to hit the beach with a glowing white bod. So hit up that self-tanner, and fake your goddess glow! (Just make sure you get a good one–i.e. not orange)
  • Exfoliate before application with a grainy scrub. Also, shave those legs, because shaving with the product on can leave a spotty finish.
  • Apply moisturizer to drier areas (mostly around joints), like elbows and knees, as they will absorb more pigments and turn darker.
  • Use either a latex glove or a tanning mitt when applying the product.
  • Try not to bend over, or bend the elbows and knees during the application and drying time– this can lead to creasing and streaks.
  • Despite the promisingly quick drying times, we advise that you wait at least 5-10 minutes before you put any clothes on.
  • Try to minimize the time you spend in the shower, and just showers in general (within reason, obviously).
Happy tanning!
–Anna Raponi & Amanda Raponi


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: