Snow White

Last year was my first winter in Toronto, my skin just wasn’t prepared for the harsh weather and I learnt the hard way. This year I was on top of my game, these products will make sure my skin stays hydrated, moisturised and glowing. It is all about trial and error, I really make sure products work for my skin before investing in them and I would suggest you do the same, find things that suit you. One of the reasons I love Sephora is because you can try before you buy. It’s going to be cold one, so gearing up does not just mean boots and warm coats, treat your skin with the same love. Here are some of my tricks.

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Cleansing & Exfoliating

With all that wind blowing around, I need a deep clean. I love Purity by philosophy, because it doesn’t dry out my skin. I will also exfoliate a few times a week, I use St. Ives Apricot Facial Scrub, because it’s a family classic and a beauty steal. It’s also great as a body exfoliator.

Hydrating & Moisturising

Heating dries out your skin like crazy, that’s why I love to use serums and hydrating infusions in conjunction with a moisturiser. My skin tends to be a little wary of most moisturisers, but Ren’s Vita Mineral Daily Supplement leaves it feeling velvety. Estée Lauder’s Advanced Night Repair, is a top-selling cult beauty product and I will tell you why I bought it.

When I was at Sephora, the girl showed me just how well it retains hydration by applying it on my arm and then spritzing the area with mist. We did this for a few serums, whilst most of the serums retained the water, it turned into droplets, not covering the entire surface, leaving tiny bits exposed. That didn’t happen to the area with the Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair, needless to say I bought it there and then and have been really happy with it. I’ve struggled with dehydration lines on my forehead, they are now gone.

The La Mer Hydrating Infusion is a steal for some drops of that potent Miracle Broth when you consider the rest of the luxury line. I don’t want a strong serum for the day, so this infusion works wonders for me and lasts ages.

Treatments

I got into the GLAMGLOW range last year when I was getting married. I use all their masks, but their ThirstyMud is so yummy and it leaves my skin feeling nourished and looking dewy. You can smother it all over your face a couple of times a week before you go to sleep and let it work its magic or sometimes while I am watching my favourite Netflix show, I like to cut holes for my eyes and breathing passages in some cling film and lay it over my face while the mask seeps in.

Winter can sometimes leave my skin looking grey and dull, I recently got a sample of Ren’s 1 Minute Facial from Sephora and love it. It brightens up my skin, so it’s great for a night out when my face needs a glowing boost.

Also I don’t leave the house without my Carmex or my First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream, it does what it says, hydrates, calms and smoothes, both are handbag friendly so it’s worth carrying them around in the winter. Don’t forget to use an SPF.

For skin as fresh as snow, it’s also about what you eat, some glowing recipes are coming soon, but in a nutshell, I find I crave warmer meals in the winter, a vibrant and heart salad just won’t cut it. I love roasting beets, onions and sweet potatoes to have alongside a warm lentil salad. Green juices go hand in hand with summer but on cold mornings I want some hot relief, perk up your morning cup of hot water and lemon with some healing cayenne and honey. Gluten free oats and quinoa flakes, with steaming hot nut milks, avocado, coconut oil, berries and super foods like maca, spirulina and wheatgrass can bring good health too. Okay, so it’s not a green juice but it’s also full of nutrients, hits the spot and leaves you feeling ready for the day.

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Sleeping Beauty

Little did I know that on this cold, somewhat snowy Saturday afternoon in Toronto’s Queen West, the idiom beauty is only skin deep would be driven home by learning how to make some gorgeous beauty products but also discovering how deeply damaging some chemicals in everyday products can be.

Maya Goldenberg, a Toronto based eco-beauty professional, did an engaging, inspiring and insightful workshop peppered with funny jokes and oodles of her lovely personality at BEVLAB over the weekend. I was lucky enough to attend and it was one of the best afternoons I’ve had in a while.

BEVLAB, in their own words is a “an open studio, laboratory, bar, and café space meant to serve as an interaction node in the city.” It really is a hub for provoking thought, their creation, the “cloud” is a cool experience and if you live in the city you should check it out. So in this evocative environment, we turned our thoughts to eco-beauty, some delicious homemade apple turnovers so kindly baked for us by Goldenberg herself and some hands on chemistry.

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Goldenberg opened with the idea, that for her, luxury is health and her passion lies in creating eco-beauty products and educating people about what really lies in all our favourite beauty buys on the shelves of popular drugstores. Goldenberg tells us that we can learn about this easily by downloading a free mobile app called Skin Deep, which allows you to scan barcodes of products and get information about them and see where they fall on the Enviromental Working Group scale. Another app Goldenberg referred to, Think Dirty, similar but also gives you cleaner product options.

During what Goldenberg called the “doom and gloom” part of her workshop, she told us about common chemicals in numerous products found in most households, everything from hand soap, to sanitizer to shampoo that all contain harmful toxins. Goldenberg explains, that on average, a woman, uses up to twelve products before she leaves the house, that means in one morning we have already been exposed to over a hundred toxins and on average, a man, uses eight.

Here are some common ones to be aware of (you can find the dirty dozen here):

  • BHA & BHT (found in moisturisers, makeup) may cause cancer, interfere with hormone function and harmful to wildlife and fish.
  • DEA, MEA & TEA (found in creamy preparations and foaming products) can react to form cancer – causing nitrosamines and also harmful to wildlife and fish.
  • Parabens (used in most cosmetics, skin care) may interfere with hormone function and associated with breast cancer, fully intact parabens have been found in the middle of breast tumours.
  • Parfum or fragrance (used in unscented products, often as the last ingredient) some ingredients can trigger allergies and asthma. Some linked to cancer and neurotoxicity.

Okay, so why should you worry? A lot of us do our best to nurture our skin from within, which of course is so important, by eating clean. Limiting intake of salt and sugar (or substituting them with better choices) and enjoying an unprocessed diet rich in fruit, vegetables, healthy grains, fats and proteins can all contribute towards a glowing and healthy complexion.

Skin is the the largest organ of the human body, taking care of what we put into it is crucial, given that sixty percent of what we put on our skin gets absorbed into our body and goes to our bloodstream. You would think that beauty products that are sold are all exposed to some type of safety testing before they come into our hands and yet it seems that isn’t the case. According to one article  “there are more than 80,000 synthetic chemicals in the marketplace but only 5 percent have ever been tested.”  That’s a lot of unknown toxins being dumped into your bloodstream.

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While we got to dabble and create some lovely products, a tinted lip balm, some deodorant and yummy sugar scrub with quality dōTERRA oils, making their own beauty products isn’t for everyone. You could check out these companies though, Goldenberg loves Sappho Organics and one of my favourite lines is Skin Essence, their Ocular Eye Serum is amazing and goes a long way or check out Tata Harper. There are also plenty of other home remedies you can try, for instant skin brightening try washing your face with gram flour, mashed up avocados make a great mask as does a dollop or two of honey and there is so much pampering to be done with a teaspoon or two of baking soda, everything from a foot soak to a face scrub!

While I have always tried to look for products that are mostly natural, Goldenberg’s workshop really woke me up. What I took away from this experience is, being mindful and aware of what you are buying and making informed choices can make a big difference to the environment, your skin and what goes into your body. Isn’t that beautiful?

Model Road Trip

The writer behind, Model Journey, shares her thoughts on “quirky” and other things

Lexa Schevchenko’s beautiful eyes and smile stay with you and she carries a dress effortlessly, with an ethereal sort of quality. A model with a decade of experience, she writes a blog sharing her work and travel experiences, beauty and skincare tips. Model Journey, really is something. You get to go on a vibrant trip into the world of modelling with stunning pictures and cool collaborations as Shevchenko’s voice leads the way. You might discover anything from a snack, to a thought or two on lust, love and marriage, or a memoir from a visit to a school in Sri Lanka. Model Journey isn’t the typical “behind the scenes” peak, it is a lot more spirited than that.

In one piece Shevchenko’s discusses how she was once told that she would lose a client if she didn’t put on weight, the exact opposite of what we’ve come to expect from the modelling industry. Shevchenko’s response was inspiring, “I’m healthy, I eat healthy and I like it, I work out once in a while or take long walks when I can. And I have always been this way…I do not diet…I had put myself on a cake and carbs diet for the past few days. But, I figured, I should just stay the way my body and I feel good. Because, if that’s what they tell people who force themselves to become skinnier in a harmful way, to love their body and stay healthy, I want that for myself too. And I can’t help it if my ‘healthy’ doesn’t match someone else’s idea of a perfect size.”

Courtesy of Lexa Schevchenko, fashion story for Stylebop.com shot by Ulrich Knoblauch.

Courtesy of Lexa Schevchenko, fashion story for Stylebop.com shot by Ulrich Knoblauch.

What are you up to at the moment?

Same old, working, traveling a bit, writing a blog and exploring!

Do you have any go-to wellness tips you can suggest?

Drink plenty of water. A good tip is squeeze half a lemon and have it with a bit of hot water (less than half a glass) every morning. It’s also always handy to have vitamin C in the house, like Airborne and Emergen-C, and have a few throughout the day whenever you feel like you are tired or getting a cold.

What are your favourite products and beauty rituals?

I love Estée Lauder Night Repair serums. But sometimes my skin tends to get very sensitive and I switch to more gentle products. Recently, I purchased an Aesop toner and face cream and have been happy with this organic line.

The most important thing in modelling is to learn to deal with rejection and keep your self-worth.

 What book have you read that every girl and woman should read?

I don’t believe there’s The Book but The Bible. I think it’s great to read small excerpts from it every now and again, many answers lie there.

What gives you confidence?

I would call it serenity rather than confidence. In times of stress, I remind myself that everything is in God’s hands at the end of the day and I only can do my best.

What makes you happy on a bad day?

Little things, like a favourite sweet treat, something funny on TV, and of course the most important is talking to my family and friends.

Some of Schevchenko’s beauty rituals. Photo courtesy of Lexa Schevchenko, fashion story for Stylebop.com shot by Ulrich Knoblauch.

Some of Schevchenko’s beauty rituals. Photo courtesy of Lexa Schevchenko, fashion story for Stylebop.com shot by Ulrich Knoblauch.

How do you keep going and glowing like a pro?

Funny and flattering the way you put it! It’s life, you’ve got to keep going and doing your best!

How do you relax when you aren’t working?

My favorite thing is spending time with my friends. I love having a girly talk over a cup of coffee, getting nails done with girlfriends and of course, shopping! A good read is always relaxing too.

Finally, what are your thoughts on the word quirky?

I guess cute and funny in an unusual way.

You can read more from Schevchenko here.

The Essential #TIFF Handbag

Toronto’s streets are alive with the scent of TIFF! We found ourselves traipsing through King Street West yesterday after a little foraging in the Entertainment District.

If you are dashing in and out of festivities, watching movies, stargazing and partying during TIFF this year, throw these bits and pieces in your bag to keep you going and glowing like a pro.

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Magnesium

The one thing you will need plenty of is magnesium. Studies have shown, that a lack of it, could leave you with lower levels of energy, that may lead to fatigue, weakness, anxiety and irritability. The last thing you want at a film festival when you want to look and feel your best!

The body keeps using magnesium so eating magnesium-rich food throughout the day will keep you on top of your game.

Give your body a head start in the morning with a leafy green juice. Why not try cold pressed green elixir from Greenhouse Juice Co? They have one that is full of The Good stuff.

Keep up your momentum by throwing some seaweed and nuts in your bag to munch on through the day.

Sparkling Skin

Don’t just leave glowing skin to the stars. Drink Dr. Stuart’s Skin Purify, this little goodie bag has the highest essential oil content possible in a packaged tea.

Stay fresh-faced with Juicy Bamboo Natural Cleansing Cloths. Soaked in organic honey and vitamins, these beautifying wipes are free of cruelty, alcohol, synthetic fragrance, parabens and sulfates.

Keep your skin soft, supple, loaded with nutrients and vitamins with The Hydrating Fusion by La Mer, laced with their transforming Miracle Broth.™

Sweep some Mac Beauty Powder over your face as a soft blush or overall finish and make skin, your highlight of the night.

Leave Your Mark

Be unforgettable with a scent from Jo Malone. Start with something light and flowery for the day, like Blackberry and Bay and add some drama with the hues of Pomegranate Noir as the sunsets on festival street.

Screen Siren

Don’t let the carpet be the only red at TIFF this year. This season’s hot ticket is crimson tones. A scarlet accessory or flush on your lips will take your outfit from day-to-night in a flash and ensure you are camera-ready. My favourites are Maybelline Colour Sensational Lipstick in Hollywood Red or a bright cashmere scarf, perfect for those Indian summer evenings so typical of September in Toronto.

Hollywood Classic

Black sunglasses, enough said.