By Hermione Wilson
As summer draws to a close (sad, I know) we’re looking back to the delightfully fragrant spa products that gave our noses the most pleasure this season:
Make Scents sent us a handmade body scrub and body butter from their Garden of Eden collection.
The predominantly lavender scent these products emitted took me right back to my childhood. I associate the smell with my grandmother, who is an avid gardener and has always been fond of sprinkling her chest of drawers with dried lavender. Applying the Makes Scents body scrub on myself was a bit awkward – this is really a product meant to be administered by a spa professional while you lie supine on a massage bed.
Yummy Skin sent a lovely pink and tan bag filled with deliciously fruity smelling hand and body lotions and sugar scrub samples. I haven’t yet dug into the scrubs, but I’ve been using the lotions everyday and I’ve become pretty compulsive about sniffing my hands every time I put them on. I recommend not doing this if you’re feeling hungry because the scents of these lotions will have your mouth watering.
This last batch of spa products has been great as the weather starts to cool. Again, it’s the delicious smells that make these loose leaf organic teas so special. And not only do they smell great, they taste even better. The teas are so rich you can taste every berry, every herb, every spice. My favourites were the wonderfully nutty and earthy 100 Mysteries and Karmic Chamomile, a fresh fruity combo with an exotic flair. The collection also came with empty tea pouches that can be filled by hand. Stuffing the pouches by hand really gives you a sense of ownership over the process. It forces you to slow down, consider your choice, and take lots of delicious whiffs while the water is boiling. Definitely an experience to share with a good friend and fellow tea lover.
Enjoy the rest of your summer!
When we got a veritable bouquet of OPI nail polishes in the mail, including their new Color Paints collection, we knew we had to share the love with the whole office! The test divas here at Spa Inc Magazine pitched in to test drive the new shades, snap Nailfies (that’s nail selfies) and document their first impressions. We invite you to wonder through our spring garden of beautiful OPI polishes. Enjoy!
Spring is in the air! I usually go for a brighter bolder shade when the weather starts to warm up, but I decided to try a neutral for the first time. OPI’s Tiramisu For Two contrasted nicely with my skin tone and didn’t fade into the background like I thought it would. It’s light and airy and wonderfully ladylike. This is definitely a shade I could see myself wearing on the regular. Like jeans and a tailored blazer, it goes with everything!
Spring has sprung and my feet, like the rest of me, are glad to see the sunlight and be out of boots and shoes. So to be able to “put my best foot forward” I used OPI Worth A Pretty Penne and I love it!
Theresa (and daughter)
Whenever I bring home goodies like nail polish, my four-year-old daughter is quick to volunteer as a tester. This time she asked to try Pen And Pink from OPI’s Color Paints line. I applied one coat of the pink-red polish and we both loved the look. It’s sheer and fun, and the perfect touch of girlie for someone usually accustomed to the rough and tumble world of her brother.
O Suzi Mio went on well and very easily with very little mess. The colour is cool because it’s dark, but it’s not too dark. I usually don’t like a deep purple. I usually like brighter colours but I definitely like this one. Since it’s different to what I usually wear, it’s refreshing.
Loving this vibrant blue Venice The Party? OPI nail polish – even though it’s not the typical spring shade! I’m definitely a blue jeans kinda girl, so I’m happy Venice The Party? matches almost everything in my spring/summer closet. Now the only thing missing is the warm weather!
I like that Silver On Ice is a neutral colour, but it still has some glitter and shine to it. It’s good quality and it went on smooth.
We’ve been to Los Cabos, Mexico, but we’ve never seen it like this before!
When Hurricane Odile touched down in Los Cabos in September 2014, it left a lot of devastation it left in its wake – an estimated US$1 billion worth of damage, in fact. For a resort town like Los Cabos, located on the Baja Peninsula, the possibility that the hurricane damage would keep the tourists vital to the local economy away was a frightening prospect. Fortunately, though, the community pulled together for an incredibly quick clean-up operation.
Over eight months later most of the resorts are ready to open for the summer. The recovery process has been a rebirth of sorts for a lot of businesses in Los Cabos. At the spas, this has led to a renewal of the desire to offer an authentic Mexican experience that utilizes indigenous ingredients. So, in honour of Cinco De Mayo, we present to you four examples of popular Los Cabos spa treatments now available. Consider this your #PeacefulPicoftheMonth of May!
Couple’s Obisdiana Sacred Stone Massage (Pueblo Bonito Pacifica)
Originally used by Indian tribes to rebalance the body’s energy, level body temperature and achieve muscle relaxation. Sacred stones are combined with therapeutic massage to achieve a state of harmony.
Quetzalcoatl Oxygenating Experience (Marquis Los Cabos Beach, Golf, Spa & Casitas Resort)
Inspired by the Aztec Serpent Deity, Quetzalcoatl, who represented re-birth and healing, this treatment rejuvenates the skin and body. The treatment begins with a calming eucalyptus footbath followed by a mineral-salt body polish and a derma-purification bath, which detoxifies the skin.
Temazcal Ritual (Hacienda Encantanda)
A traditional steam bath used by the pre-Hispanic Indigenous people of Mexico as an important source of healing. Benefits of the Temazcal steam bath include stress relief, muscle release, detoxification, elimination of negative energy and time for introspective exploration.
Vinotherapy (SOMME Wine Spa at Fiesta Americana Grand)
Mexico’s first and only wine spa offers a one-of-a-kind vinotherapy treatments. Vinotherapy is a combination of natural healing and the rejuvenating power of grapes from Baja California’s wine country, Valle de Guadalupe.
By Hermione Wilson
Every two weeks I go to visit an esthetician at the mall. “What do you need Honey?” she asks me as I approach the front desk. All the other customers swivel instinctively towards me, curious.
I mumble something.
“Sorry, didn’t catch that?” she says.
I clear my throat, blushing, and mumble “Upper lip wax, please” in a slightly louder voice.
I refuse to call it a moustache. A moustache is something men have; but I’m not a man, I’m a lady. My upper lip hair isn’t as dark as a moustache of course, but to me it looks long, dark and grotesque.
My upper lip hair didn’t always bother me this much. In fact, there was a golden age when none of the hair that naturally grew on my body gave me pause. It began with peer-induced shame in my elementary school locker room and pretty soon I was obsessing about all the hair on my body, especially the stuff on my face. At least I could cover up hairy pits and legs with long-sleeved shirts and long pants, but hiding the hair on my face was more complicated.
I’ve done things I regret, but none more than the time I got my facial hair threaded. I was getting ready for university graduation and I wanted to look good for all the inevitable family photos. My friend and I stopped by the local mall for a $10 eyebrow threading – no big deal. But then I decided to get my chin and neck threaded as well.
Due to my mixed heritage (African, Indian, Portuguese, etc) I have quite a bit of fine hairs framing my face. It usually doesn’t bother me too much, but I thought I’d let the lady just clean it up a bit. Now I wish I had left well enough alone. The threading broke the follicles on my chin and neck and I’ve had problems with ingrown hairs ever since.
As ladies we deal with a lot of societal pressure to be hairless, especially in North American culture. Part of us enjoys the feeling of smooth legs on a summer’s day, but another part of us is jealous of the guys when we have to take a razor to them every week. Sometimes we feel like slaves to that razor, shackled to it for a lifetime of shaving and scrapping.
This is why I’ve started to look at more permanent solutions, like electrolysis and laser hair removal, especially for areas of my body that I can’t take a razor to. But hair removal horror stories have me concerned. What if I go in expecting to come out with a baby-smooth hairless visage and end up with a horrible scar instead? So I asked an expert, dermatologist Dr. Andrei Metelitsa, for some advice. You can read about our conversation on hair removal here.
If you think you can live with some of the hair on your face and body, go ahead and rock it au naturel! But if you decided on a more permanent solution to your hirsutism, make sure the medi spa or clinic you go to has a reputable physician supervising the treatment.
By Hermione Wilson
It’s funny how we often package old trends as new. Like the organic DIY skin and hair product trend going on right now. You can’t swing a #catvideo on YouTube without hitting an all-natural beauty vlogger mixing her own hair and beauty products with items she found in her kitchen cupboards.
But here’s a little secret: this new craze is nothing new. Recently, I was talking to my grandmother about what it was like to grow up on the beautiful Caribbean island of Grenada in the 30s, 40s and 50s. Here’s what she had to say about the beauty routine she and her sisters followed back in the day:
- Egg yolk mask
- Aloe vera
- Pure honey straight from the honeycomb, for softness
- Aloe vera mask (apply, let harden, rinse off)
- Coconut oil mixed with petroleum jelly and lotion
- Fresh guava or black sage branches (chew until bristly, then brush with your handmade toothbrush!)
- Mint leaves
As you might have guess, my grandmother and her sisters didn’t use these natural products because they were concerned about parabens and carcinogens. The number one reason was that they couldn’t afford the store-bought beauty products of the day. Necessity really was the mother of invention for these women. Not only were they hardworking and thrifty, they were self-sufficient and didn’t let their lack of funds stop them from taking pride in their appearance. They sewed their own clothes and mixed their own beauty products because they could.
The second reason is that they lived in a country blooming with diverse plant life. My grandmother and her sisters were just using the natural products they had at hand. Island born and bred, they knew every plant had its use, often more than one, knowledge that had been passed down to them from their mothers and grandmothers.
I’m sure your grandmothers have similar stories, even if they didn’t grow up in the tropics. I imagine the shortages of various world wars and the Depression forced women to come up with inventive ways to beautify themselves. (Share in the comments if you have a natural beauty remedy that’s been passed down by the women in your family)
I think it’s great that we’re going back to basics! Just the other day I mixed a bit of egg, olive oil and avocado to make a moisturizing mask for my hair. The results were amazing – and my hair smelled great too! So before we brag too loudly about the cleverness of our generations’ natural revolution, let’s not forget that we’re only rediscovering what our grandmothers already knew.
By Heather Ednie
With the hustle and bustle of life in my 40s, I felt like I’d won a lotto over the past couple months as I had the chance to enjoy not one but two spa days with some of my BFFs. What could be better than quality time with your favourite people, while getting pampered and treated like a queen? Nothing!
I won’t wax poetic about my spa days. I don’t need to tell you about how divine it was to soak in the hot waters at Scandinave Spa Mont-Tremblant before and after my luxurious massage that was both deep and therapeutic, and heavenly relaxing. I won’t brag about how beautiful my feet looked after a sweet pedicure at Evelyn Charles in the West Edmonton Mall; soft as baby skin after the hot wax treatment, with the deepest purple on my nails adding a nice dramatic effect. I know our blog readers are spa lovers – so you know what I’m talking about!
What I do want to share are my musings about the two wonderful, but vastly different, girlfriend time experiences.
At Scandinave, I was with the incredible woman who is my “parenting partner” – that is, we each have 2 young boys the same age, and our family vacations tend to be together (parenting tip: find this perfect parenting partner family, and your kids will entertain each other). That said, being in similar professions, with similar families, we have similar stress levels – so a day at the spa was in order. Now, one of the reasons I consider myself fortunate to live in Quebec is the proliferation of top-rate Nordic spas across the province. I can – and I do – lollygag around the baths, saunas, steam rooms, relaxation areas for an entire day, though honestly I’m still a big baby when it comes to the cold dips. Though the golden rule at these oasis is to be quiet, sitting in a hot pool of swirling water, taking in the gorgeous sights and scents, is a perfect time to catch up, chat quietly, and plan your futures as ladies of leisure – I mean, why not? We booked simultaneous massages, so parted ways for a couple hours of 100% me time. And every BFF understands the importance of that hot commodity!
I’ve been to Nordic spas with one girlfriend, two, four and more – I do think it’s a perfect way to get together. Throw in a nice meal and exquisite bottle of red, and it can’t get any better.
At Evelyn Charles, it was fun to go for pedicures as a treat when I met with two fantastic women I only get to see rarely – living in various cities across the country, we were meeting up in Edmonton for a little merriment. The treatments were great, and the set up perfect for a girlfriends time: a semi-private space with four pedi stations, so we were facing each other and could chitchat throughout. That said, for me, it lacks the fantasy, the luxury, of a Nordic spa experience. The lights were bright, and I began to feel a bit awkward as we debated where to go for dinner over the heads of the three extremely talented aestheticians giving our feet their make-overs. I was reminded of a scene in a Sex in the City episode, when Carrie and her friends get together for a gab fest while getting pedicures. I guess I’m not made to be treated like a princess. A bit of unease aside, it was a nice way to sit still and have a relaxed conversation with friends I hadn’t seen for months, before we headed to the more lively night that awaited.
Whatever your pleasure, I do suggest spa days as a perfect girlfriend time. Do your research and find a spa with a stellar reputation you can rely on, and plan – we get so little time with friends outside of work and family, it pays to make sure it’s perfect.
By Michael Markov
People don’t like to acknowledge they are couch potatoes. The term is associated with spending excessive amounts of time on the computer or watching TV, but it’s more than that. Being a high school student myself, seeing firsthand how lazy my generation can be is a tad worrying. Gone are the days when your only source of entertainment was getting outside and being active. Now with the internet and phones, it is even easier for one to become glued to the screen for hours on end.
Next time you are with your friends/colleagues, ask them if they think they fall into the sedentary lifestyle category. People are becoming more conscious of the need for exercise, so you will probably get a response along the lines of: “Oh of course not, I’m at the gym 3 times a week for an hour, and I’m constantly moving around at home.” Then ask them how long they sit for at work every week. Now we have a problem.
In 2012, a Canadian survey found that people worked 36.6 hours per week on average. Keeping in mind that most people have a desk job, that is a lot of hours spent letting the body vegetate. A supposed fix to this problem is the standing desk. This piece of furniture has been around since the 19th century, and really hasn’t changed much since. Even famous figures such as Benjamin Franklin and Winston Churchill have been noted to use the special desk. You can write, type, and use the computer all while standing up.
We know that the standing desk gets people out of their chairs, but what does this accomplish? A lot actually, as hundreds of studies have been published on the negative effects of sitting for long periods. One study of 200,000 Australians in 2012 found that those who sat for 11 hours or more everyday were 40% more likely to die over the next three years. Other studies have found that Colon Cancer, Diabetes, and Heart Disease were also linked to inactivity. Even if you happen to exercise throughout the week after sitting around, you will still be digging yourself an early grave according to the research.
When you sit down, your body’s crucial functions come to a halt. Your heart rate slows and your muscles cease to move, which can all lead to health issues after long periods of time. It is the exact opposite with standing, as your muscles and normal bodily functions are completely engaged and working as they are meant to.
So, since science has proven that it’s better for humans to get up and stand, what are we waiting for? You can’t dispute the facts; it’s glaringly obvious what people should be doing now. The standing desk could be one solution to the problem of inactivity, but it shouldn’t be the only one. We should ideally mold our lifestyles around healthy living and physical activity that promotes fit bodies. In the meantime, invest in yourself, instead of that new “ergonomic” chair.
When I got four delicious Le Mieux skin care products in the mail before Christmas it was like receiving an early present. I couldn’t wait to take them home over the break and try them out!
Altogether, there were two cleansers – the Phyto-Nutrient Cleansing Gel and the Phyto-Marine Cleansing Lotion – the Essence Toner and the Hyaluronic Shea Mask. Of all the products, I was most excited to try the mask. I love the drama of a good facial mask. I love slathering the thick solution on my face, lying under it for a few blissful minutes and feeling it start to work on my face. I love the reveal afterwards, the watery unveiling, and the fresh new feeling my skin is left with. I always fantasize that when I take off the mask, another smoother lovelier face will be waiting beneath.
Well, reality is a little less dramatic but no less satisfying. Le Mieux’s Hyaluronic Shea Mask didn’t dry uncomfortably on my face or make my skin tingle. It felt creamy and rich, but not heavy, and when I rinsed my skin felt refreshed and smooth.
That was actually a common theme with all the Le Mieux products – they all left my skin feeling smooth and soft. My skin is naturally dry and the cold winter weather hasn’t helped, so I was happy to find that the Le Mieux products were very supportive of my skin’s moisture content. My second favourite product, Phyto-Marine Cleansing Lotion, was rich and creamy like the mask and left my skin feeling just as soft. I’ve actually taken to adding it to my regular cleanser for extra moisture.
That being said, I didn’t feel that the gel cleanser or the toner dried out my skin. In fact, I was surprised to find that, unlike with drugstore toner, after applying the Essence Toner I didn’t even feel the need to use my regular facial moisturizer. I did, of course, but unsually I do it out of necessity because my regular cleanser leaves me feeling stripped of essential epidermis! I was a bit confused as to how I should apply the toner though. Was I supposed to spray it on my face and rub it in with my finger tips? When I tried spraying it onto a cotton swab and then applying it, I felt like the swab absorbed more toner than my skin did. If anyone knows the right way to do this, please let me know in the comments!
All in all, though, I was impressed by Le Mieux products. They were rich and gentle on my skin and they smelled great too!
ChiaDerm+ bills itself as “a superfood for your skin.” Their products contain Chia seeds and not much else. No parabens, filler, or chemicals; vegan, gluten-free, non-GMO – all in all, it sounds like it is good eat, but what does it do for your skin?
The Test Divas got a chance to test out two ChiaDerm+ products, the ChiaDerm+ Serum and ChiaDerm+ Balm. Here’s what we thought:
ChiaDerm+ Serum by Hermione Wilson, Staff Writer
I chose to test the Serum because I was fascinated by the claim it made to improve acne. I’ve been struggling with acne since I got my first breakout at age 13. I thought once I hit the big 2-0 it would go away. No such luck. I’m nearing the end of my 20’s now and I think I’ve tried every acne product line on the market. Some have made it worse; at best they make no difference at all. I especially have to be careful when I choose a facial moisturizer. I have very dry skin so I have to balance the need for a formula that is heavy enough to provide the moisture I need, but light enough that it doesn’t clog up my pores and cause breakouts.
Adding a few drops of the Serum to my moisturiser – once in the morning and again before bed -felt great. The moisturizer I’m using at the moment is pretty thin, as it is oil-free, but sometimes, especially as the weather gets colder, it doesn’t seem to be enough. With the addition of the Serum, though, my moisturiser went on smoother and my skin felt soft without feeling oily.
After about a week of using the Serum, I noticed some new breakouts on my face and panicked. Granted, a week probably isn’t long enough to see any kind of improvement and my breakout could have another cause, but next time I would test the product out on other parts of my body first (I’m still a Test Diva in training, so bear with me!). Still, I like how the product feels, so I think I’ll try it on my neck and chest next. I’ve even put a few drops in my hand cream and it’s really soothing to my skin after it’s taken the daily abuse of multiple hand washes and the dry winter air.
I like that this product doesn’t have a bunch of ingredients I can’t pronounce. It’s simple and organic and it has a nice mild nutty smell to it. I can’t speak to the ChiaDerm+ Serum’s acne-fighting properties as yet, but as a moisturizer it’s very effective.
One of my friends is currently on a health kick. And so, for the past three weeks, I’ve spent the bus ride to co-op listening to her rant about whatever new food, supplement, or vitamin she’s taking, and one of the things that seemed to pop up quite often were Chia seeds. She has them every day (puts them in her lemonade, of all things), so when I was given the opportunity to test the ChiaDerm+ Balm, I decided I’d go to her for answers before I started using the product.
It turns out that Chia seeds are one of the healthiest things out there – when it comes to food. They’re packed with tons of nutrients, fibers, proteins and antioxidants, so they’re not only good for your body and brain, but they can also help reduce the risk of heart disease, among other things. Now, in applying all this stuff to the balm I was going to start using, I got pretty excited. This product is completely organic, and Chia seed extract is the main ingredient. Immediately upon opening it I already knew I liked the way it smelled, but only time would tell how it worked, and after the week I spent using it, I’ve decided that I really like this product.
I used it primarily on my lips (they tend to get extremely chapped in the winter, so I always carry one or two balms and some Polysporin® in my bag), but the instructions said it also worked well to reduce redness and scarring, so I put it on areas where I experienced both of those things (primarily due to dryness), and really began to notice a difference nearing the end of the week. I only used it twice a day, before I went to bed and once I got up in the morning, so it might have worked better if I’d used it more frequently, but I did start to notice a change in my skin by about the 6-day mark. It also helped reduce my dark circles. The one thing I’d like to comment on is the Balm’s “anti-aging” ability. Being sixteen (soon-to-be seventeen), I’m not in dire need of anti-aging products just yet, but as soon as I told my mom about it, she wanted it. She already knew about the health benefits of Chia seeds, so the “anti-aging” thing was an added bonus. I had to keep it in my room to stop her from using it all before the week was over, seriously.
I’m not too experienced with beauty/skincare, but everyone’s got a few favourite products that they consistently use because they just seem to work. I haven’t been using the Chia Derm+ Balm for very long yet, so I’m definitely going to continue using it for at least a few more weeks, and I’ll hopefully get even better results.
I don’t think I’m ready to go back to my old products just yet.
By Hermione Wilson
I had a chance to sit down with Artistic Nail Design’s Alisha Botero during their Rock Hard World Tour. The executive vice president and creative director was in Toronto to promote Artistic Nail’s new Rock Hard LED Gel product and hold workshops to educate nail artists about the new trends and techniques in the industry.
We met at Sparks Salon in Toronto’s Liberty Village for the most intimate media event I’ve ever been to. I was expecting crowds of journalists and nail artists, but instead I got to hang out with Alisha, nail technician and educator Lisa Boone, and portfolio manager Al Barillas for half an hour. I even got a free manicure from Lisa!
It was soon clear to me as I spoke to Alisha that she has a passion for the nail business. She got choked up when I asked her what she loved best about it:
“I love to meet women for whom this is their passion, and help them to better themselves and give them the opportunity to support their children, support their family. That’s why we do it.”
When she’s not travelling the world, passing on her tricks of the trade, Alisha is putting together hot new shades for Artistic Nail that will adorn women’s fingernails the coming season. First she gathers inspiration from various sources – tear sheets from various fashion magazines, trend books, a piece of fabric she’s fallen in love with, and feedback from distributors – and pins her ideas on a board in her office. Once she has some colours in mind, she heads to the lab.
“We’ve got over a hundred pigments [in the lab], so we’ll start mixing and trying to match that particular colour,” Alisha told me.
Then there’s the polish’s finish: “Do I want it to be creamy and glossy, do I want it to be shimmery and sparkly, do I want it to be rich and deep, do I want it to be something they can layer on or layer under?”
At this point, Alisha comes up with five to ten colours and has to narrow that down to a collection of either four or six shades. This year’s fall collection was inspired by rich heavy fabrics like velvet, fur and wool, and has a velvety finish. “Dolce and Gabbana has been just killing it for me with those heavy textiles,” she gushed.
Looking ahead to the spring collection, Alisha told me she has some bright clean shades in mind. The collection will feature purples, pinks, a coral shade, and a particularly bright grassy green. “You look at them and you can see sunshine,” she said.
While Lisa was putting a sparkly finish on my burgundy nails (Independence from the Fall 2014 collection), I had a chance to ask Alisha about the differences between doing nails at a salon and at a spa.
“The salon business is very social. Everybody’s talking, they’re hanging out, it’s quick service,” she told me.
“The clients come in and they’re out,” Al chimed in. “It’s about the results. People come in and they actually remove their own lacquer because they don’t want to be sitting around.”
At the spa, Alisha said, people are looking to relax and be pampered. It’s all about how long you spend on the client and the extra touches of luxury and indulgence you include in the experience.
“It’s more ‘let’s sit down, let’s relax, let’s enjoy, let’s add a special glass of champagne to that or a special cookie that goes with that scent for their new manicure and pedicure,’ and you never let them leave without a hand massage, even if they’re getting just a quick polish change.” she said. “Spas goers don’t mind spending that little bit of extra money to get that little bit better quality or something more beneficial for them.”
Speaking of quality, Alisha told me that spas like Artistic Nail’s new gel nail polish because they have no odor and they last longer, perfect for spa goers who may not come back to get a touch up as often as salon clients. And I have to vouch for the gel polish’s long-lasting power, because three weeks later my manicure still looks good!
Artistic Nails most popular shade: Bride white
Latest nail trends: The half-moon manicure, an under layer of red like Louboutin heels, feature nails, and geometric shapes. “There are a lot of really cool small things you can do to set a trend that people will adopt.”
Making a comeback: Long nails are back and nail shapes are transitioning from square back to oval.
Biggest change in the industry: “The technical level and the skill level has increased exponentially in the last ten years.”
Alisha’s favourite spa treatments: “I love to go and get a massage and a facial,” Alisha says. “I’m all about getting in the robe and letting you doing whatever you want. You want to scrub me down and wipe me off, I don’t care. Just as long as you’re touching me for two hours I’m good.” As a nail technician herself, Alisha is very particular about who does her pedicure. “Sometimes I just give myself a pedicure and then go have my feet massaged.”