Going Au Natural With Elixir Organic Spa

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With all of the chemicals I put on my face every day through product testing, I figured it was high time to strip down and clean up my act. Elixir Organic Spa is Toronto first 100% synthetic-free spa. After speaking with owner Lynn Shulman via email, I was excited to have my first all-natural facial.

Elixir Spa just moved into their new bigger location on King St. West, when I went inside the busy bustle of rush hour traffic was silenced. I was met with light smells that I couldn’t quite put my finger on and a quiet calm atmosphere. The front part of Elixir Spa is a store selling all natural, organic beauty products and while there isn’t a lot of product, I was drawn to it and wanted to pick up the beautiful bottles and smell their aromas.

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I was met by owner Lynn, who then introduced me to my facialist. I was surprised to learn that Lynn doesn’t have a beauty background, but marketing. She started the spa after she had a bad experience with chemical filled beauty products. She has since worked with estheticians to perfect the spa’s treatments, while working to market and collaborate with other natural brands.

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I was hurried to the back to prepare for my basic organic facial. The treatment room wasn’t quite finished yet when I visited the spa and Lynn made that very clear to me. There was just a curtain blocking my facial room from the rest of the store. This meant when people came in to shop or the phone rang, I could hear them. I felt a bit exposed having to strip down with so little protection between me and the world. Lynn told me that within the next few days they would have walls up to create two treatment rooms. The room itself was tiny, i was surprised that I could fit in there with a bed and someone to do my treatment. I felt bad for the facialist who had to maneuver around me.

I know they will work the kinks out soon though because even though it was a bit awkward my facial was softer and gentler than ever. I don’t have sensitive skin, so I’m not necessarily the key target audience for Elixir Spa. They cater to people with sensitive skin, pregnant women, people with specific ailments such as cancer survivors who need to avoid chemicals or anyone looking to go chemical free. This facial really was so gentle on my skin. All of the products smelled amazing with fresh scents of relaxing lavender and refreshing lemon. I found out later that all of the products are food grade, meaning they are safe enough to eat.

Unlike other facials there wasn’t that tingling sensitive to the harsh extractions that can sometimes hurt. Everything felt gentle. Even my arm and neck massage was light and gentle.

When I left Elixir Organic Spa, my face wasn’t red and puffy like it was after some other facials. My skin felt nice, but it didn’t feel like a deep clean. People with sensitive skin who tend to avoid harsh facials would love this soft feeling.

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I also had a chance to peruse the products for sale in the store and now have a laundry list of products that I can’t wait to try. I might give them a few weeks to get everything finished, but then I will be shopping.

MAC Cosmetics PatentPolish Lip Pencil Review

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MAC Cosmetics recently released their spring PatentPolish Lip Pencil that is made to have the look and feel of a lip gloss with the precision and look of a lip pencil. I started this spring thinking it would take me month to find a lip colour that I would love until the final drop; little did I know that this little lip pencil would fall into my lap.

MAC Cosmetics’ lip pencil is everything I want in a lipstick, lip gloss and lip pencil in one product. It’s really impressive.

The PatentPolish Lip Pencil comes in a twist up pencil style that is easy to apply. I’ve seen these types of lip pencil before, but they never impress me.

This time my pink PatentPolish made me smile the second I applied it. It’s not quite as dark as a regular lipstick, but it’s thicker than your average gloss. It is glossy, but it feels like a matte lipstick. It has combined all of my favourite things about different lip products and combined them in one stick.

The best part is that it also lasts a long time. It even lasted through my bike ride to work, so I didn’t have to apply before I walked in the door.

Good job MAC Cosmetics! You brought the best of all worlds of lip products into one stick!

Marta Pacek’s Makeup Most Wanted

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Australian folk singer Marta Pacek is invading Canada this spring. The Aussie beauty had a new album, Voodoo Dolls and False Alarms, in Canada now and a few showcases at Canadian Music Week in Toronto. Makeup Most Wanted caught up with Marta Pacek before her first CMW showcase tonight at Johnny Jackson to find out the secret behind her effortless beauty. We asked Marta to share the makeup she most wanted to bring around the world.

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1. Aesop Tea Tree Leaf Exfoliant & Face Oil – Made by a company from my hometown of Melbourne Australia, this is essentially a dry mix of crushed botanicals including, aloe vera, walnut shells and tea tree leaf.  You can adjust the exfoliation level by altering how much cleanser you mix it with. Mixed with just water, It gives the deepest exfoliation comparable to in salon microdermabrasion. I use [the face oil] as my daily moisturizer and love the way it smells. To save space in my luggage, I like to combine this with another favourite product, Dr Haushka Translucent Bronzing Tint and always pre-mix a few bottles for my longer tours.

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2. Dr Haushka Translucent Bronzing Tint – It’s like a liquid mineral bronzer, but I find it’s too dry on it’s own so I mix it with my Aesop Fabulous Face Oil and the result is a sheer, sun-kissed, dewy look.

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3. Le Labo Patchouli 24 – I discovered this take on my favourite perfume while living in NYC’s East Village.  The Patchouli is not easy to detect in this formula. The smoky, leathery character of birch takes over in the first few seconds, making this signature absolutely unique and difficult to situate. Fortunately, a touch of vanilla comes in to calm this little world, bringing peace, sensuality and softness to these violent animal notes.
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4. Sarnya Key Pure African Shea Butter  – Because I have fine hair, I only condition the ends and a little of this butter goes a long way, saving me space in my toiletries bag. It leaves my hair soft and silky and smelling beautiful. It also doubles up as a great shaving emulsion.
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5. Tinderbox Apple and Rooibos Shampoo & Honey Myrtle Conditioner – My hippie girlfriend Fiona introduced me to this beautiful Western Australian made skin care range which I find very affordable and completely natural.
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6. Nars Dolce Vita Lip Crayon  – I have been wearing this dusty rosy red matte on my lips for several years now and I also wear it on my cheeks. I recently purchased the sheer lipstick version which is more translucent for day time wear. It’s not on the Nars website anymore which I fear means it’s being discontinued.
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7. Bare Escentuals  Buxom Lash Mascara – I was born with really thick long eyelashes but strangely they are blonde at the tips so I like to use a really dramatic mascara. This is by far the best one I have ever used and the formula lasts a very long time. It’s also very gentle to remove with warm soapy water.
Catch Marta Pacek in Canada during her Canadian Music Week showcases or her Ontario tour throughout May. Get tour dates on her website now.

Stila Stay All Day Vinyl Lip Gloss Review

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Stila has come out with a lip gloss that is over the top in all of the right ways. Stila’s new Stay All Day Vinyl Lip Gloss is ultra-glossy and ultra-shiny giving me lips that really do look vinyl. The bright pink and red lip glosses give me a bold high shine that just won’t quit.

When I first applied the Stila Lip Gloss I was surprised. Sure, the gloss colour looks bold in the bottle, but wearing it takes it to a whole new level. It’s rare that a lip gloss is just as colourful and bright as in the bottle. It’s not sheer, but a solid bright pink hue. I have to admit though, that while it’s a bit crazy, this lip gloss is hot, hot, hot!

It’s not easily removable either. My pink lips stayed for hours before I needed to reapply.

So if you want to make an impact next time you go out, this Stila lip gloss is the crucial ingredient.

Bite Beauty Deconstructed Rose Lip Gloss Library

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Bite Beauty has released some pretty great lip products and the Deconstructed Rose Lip Gloss Library is no exception. It has twelve glosses all infused with Rose Otto oil and each gloss has a pretty intense rose scent. If you have any issues with fragrance you might want to give this set a pass. But I love anything that smells even remotely like rose, so Deconstructed Rose is perfect for me.

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Each of the twelve shades in the Deconstructed Rose set varies somewhere on the rose colour spectrum. They go on relatively smoothly and the brush has a little dip that’s supposed to make application easier but I actually found a little more difficult. But the colours are gorgeous. There’s a shade for every skin tone, mood and event. I mixed shades four and six and ended up with my perfect rose lip gloss shade.

The Deconstructed Rose Lip Gloss Library is limited edition, so if you love rose as much as I do or just love lip gloss and want to find your perfect shade, you should probably run out and get one.

CC Cream Most Wanted

While not as popular as BB Creams, CC Creams are one of the first steps to a well-rounded makeup routine. Not all CC Creams are created equal though. From thick to sheer to moisturizing, every company has created a CC cream with its own personality. Here are our three Most Wanted CC Creams:

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Stila CC Color Correcting Cream

Stila has created a CC cream that is unlike any other one on the market. Stila developed a green based cream. Anyone who knows makeup will know that this means the makeup is colour correcting to remove all redness. It isn’t sheer though, which is the best part! The pigments in the makeup adapt to your skin tone to create a shade that matches you perfectly. It feels like having your own custom makeup colour in a bottle. It’s not the best coverage, but it is one of the most moisturizing creams I’ve used.

Related: BB Cream Most Wanted

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Sephora Skin Perfect CC Cream

For full coverage this is the CC cream you need to reach for. Sephora’s skin perfect cream offers more coverage for my skin than most of my regular foundations. It is also so moisturizing that I don’t feel guilty if I forget to moisturize. It hydrates and corrects my skin tone so I feel beautiful all day. I am in love!

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Annabelle CC Colour Control Instant Perfecting Base Natural Finish

As we move into summer, this is the cream I will be reaching for. This is one of the lightest cc creams I’ve ever tried. It’s perfect for a warm day because it stays on my skin and don’t clog up my pores. It makes my face feel velvety smooth. I can even finish my look with the CC powder for added skin perfection.

Mika for Shu Uemura Review

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Photographer Mika Ninagawa’s collection for Shu Uemura is one of the few that pretty much has everything going for it. The packaging alone makes it one of the most gorgeous collections I’ve ever seen and it could probably just sit on my bathroom counter for me to look at, let alone use it. The fact that the products are just as great makes it so much better.

I’ve been using the Porefinist Anti-Shine Fresh Cleansing Oil as my cleanser. It balances the oily spots, doesn’t dry out the dry spots and at 450ml, I’m going to be using it forever since you just use a tiny bit.

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The Mika Eyeshadow Spiro Duos don’t offer a whole lot in colour selection but the Beige/Brown duo is the perfect shimmery neutral for daytime.

What the eyeshadow may lack in shades, the Tint In Gelato lip and cheek colour more than make up for. CR 01 (Blood Orange) is my personal favourite. It’s a orangey coral that’ll take me from spring into summer. The formula might be the creamiest lip anything I’ve ever used and it has a ton of pigmentation.

If you want your nails to go with the line’s whimsical feel, the Mika nail stickers are the way to go.

Whether you want the whole line, just a little piece of it or an empty box to just look at. Mika’s line for Shu Uemura is one we won’t be forgetting anytime soon.

My Experience With L’Oreal Paris Feria Wild Ombré

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I recently joined the lovely ladies of L’Oreal Paris at Del Monaco Salon to try out the Feria Wild Ombré at home hair dying kits. I had dreamed of ombré hair since it first got trendy, so to say I was excited was an understatement. I had seen the at home ombré hair dye kits in stores, but I had also seen the horror story pictures of ombré hair gone wrong, so I had steered clear until now. This time I had the skilled hands of celebrity hair stylist Eric Del Monaco and his team to get it right.

When I arrived at Del Monaco, I had a choice to make. Did I choose the subtle Ombré Touch, bold Wild Ombré or one of the coloured copper ombré? I was warned that the coloured ombré kits do not mix well with hair that has been previously coloured. After seeing the wild shades it produced on some other hair in the room, I asked for the Wild Ombré. I asked the team for a bold colouring that went very blonde on the tips.

Daniel started applying the ombré dye to my hair. He used the applicator from the Ombré Touch box to show me how it worked. It’s a little comb the sticks on the end of your finger. You apply the dye onto the applicator and brush it on. Daniel suggested being casual with it and pull at strands all over. You don’t want every piece to line up or else you will end up with one of those hair fail pictures. If you have thick hair like me, Daniel recommended dying your hair in layers.

While he was dying my hair I noticed a few things. First of all this is some potent hair dye. I’ve been dying my hair since hair school and this was the first time that the fumes stung my eyes. It wasn’t bad enough to make me want to stop, but it was strong. Second, if you have thick or curly hair, be careful of the touché comb. It’s supposed to stick on your finger, but Daniel kept losing it in my curly locks. He eventually went to the brush that is stronger and comes in the Wild Ombré box. Finally, I noticed that nothing was really happening on my hair. I know it’s hard to judge how your hair is dying while the dye is in, but my hair didn’t look any different.

After it was applied I had to wait for over 30 minutes to let it sit. I’m not sure if that is average time for ombré hair, but that is a long time compared to other box dyes. When it was finally washed out, I still didn’t see a change. My wet hair looked the exact same.

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Finally after a blow dry, I could see the ombré in my hair. I had a few blonde flecks, but overall I was underwhelmed. There was nothing wild about this ombré. It was so subtle that it was barely visible. My hair looked pretty. I had a gorgeous blow dry and it looks like I had some highlights from the sun. This wasn’t ombré though. The one side of my head had no new colouring at all.

I honestly don’t know what went wrong with my Wild Ombré. I don’t know if I didn’t apply enough hair dye, if the dye just wasn’t meant to dye my hair to a bold blonde or some other anomaly. I doubt that I would try the L’Oreal Paris Wild Ombré at home dye again. Not because it didn’t work, but mostly because I doubt that I could do it on my home. It is definitely a two person job, and no offense to my friends, but I don’t really trust them that much. That’s not to say you shouldn’t try it because if you are brave then you should, but go in with low expectations.

Essence Cosmetics Makeup Review

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Launched in 2002, Essence Cosmetics is a new name in makeup that is starting to gather buzz in North America. There is a lot of buzz about with Essence Cosmetics too. They are affordable, accessible and strictly against animal testing. All of these things are big bonuses in my mind. I received the Essence Cosmetics Sun Club All-In-One Bronzing Highlighter, Soft Touch Mousse Foundation, and Metal Glam Eyeshadow. It seems like the perfect combination for a beautiful look.

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My first thoughts are that I love the way Essence sees colour. The mousse is a beautiful, natural, light shade. The highlighter is a mix of light and dark bronzing hues. The eyeshadows are three of the coolest metallic hues I’ve seen in a long time. I wanted to run home with them just to try them on.

When you try Essence Cosmetics makeup, you need to remember that this is an accessible drugstore makeup line. This isn’t some specialized luxury line. The eyeshadow looks amazing in the packaging, and goes on much lighter. I found it was much easier to use my finger to apply it evenly.

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I found that I could never get the right shade of bronzer for my skin tone. The powders didn’t mix properly to give a shimmering bronzer shade.

The mousse foundation was my favourite of all the products I tried. It was very light and went on my skin like velvet. It had a great feel.

Essence Cosmetics might not be my new favourite collection, but I am still going to stand behind it proudly. I think it would be the perfect line for girls first trying out makeup to play with. It’s a terrific new option for people who aren’t so serious about makeup. It’s quality at a great price point. So if you want something without a big commitment, get ready to have some fun.

Garnier Clean+ Cleansers For Combination Skin Review

GarnierClean+Combination Garnier recently released a new skin care line called Clean+ that’s made for specific skin types. My skin is a little more than textbook combination, it goes to extremes. One day it can be dry and flaky and the next it’s completely oily. And did I mention it’s pretty sensitive. Combination skin has a tendency to be overlooked in favour of oily, dry or normal in skin care lines so I was really excited to try cleansers made for combination skin. What was even better was that I wasn’t disappointed at all.

Clean+ Purifying Cleansing Foam is a typical foaming cleanser. You squeeze the bottle, you get foam, you wash and so on. The difference came in the results. My skin wasn’t tight or dry in the usual spots and it didn’t feel greasy anywhere. I was pretty much sold at this point and then I got to the exfoliator.

The Clean+ Balancing Gel Exfoliator is something I’ve needed forever. I love scrubs but my skin doesn’t always get along with them. This gel exfoliator was gentle enough for the sensitive side of my skin but got the job done. Whatever scrubby bits are in there are small enough to not irritate my skin but also left it balanced and feeling really clean.

I really hope more companies hop on the combination bandwagon but if they don’t at least I’ve found something that works.