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A Skin Care Convert

Photo by a james on Flickr

Photo by a james on Flickr

By Kelly Townsend

First, a confession: I’m utterly clueless when it comes to skin care and beauty regimes.

If you’d asked me a week ago, I couldn’t have told you the first thing about what exfoliating your skin does, or what skin toner even is. It hadn’t been much of a problem in my youth, but as I got older it felt like my skin was starting to cry out for attention. Finally, it got to the point where I decided to book my very first facial at Amanda Borys Aesthetics in hopes of soothing my weary skin. By the end of it I officially became a skin care convert.

Within the first few minutes, my esthetician, Amanda Borys, easily identified the problem areas with my skin. It was severely dehydrated, which explained why it was tight and irritated as well as embarrassingly oily at times. When I casually mentioned that my face gets flushed easily, she even went into detail about why it occurred and, for the first time in my life, actually told me how I can reduce it.

Part of what held me back from getting treatment before was simply embarrassment over how little I’d done for my skin. I’ve been to manicure appointments where the attendant would chastise me over my lack of nail care, and I wasn’t exactly looking for an hour of skin-shaming. As I went through the history of products and treatments I’d done, I awkwardly explained how little product ever touches my face. Surprisingly, Amanda reassured me that it’s far better to avoid product than to overuse them without educating yourself first. She told me horror stories about women who had severely damaged their skin just by overusing certain products.

Once we got into the facial itself, I slowly but surely felt myself easing into the process. Amanda was courteous enough to explain to me what she was doing as she was doing it, and never balked at my questions. As the session came to a close, I was so relaxed I ended up pulling my sweater on inside out.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say it was life-changing, but the experience really opened my eyes to what I’ve been missing out on by neglecting my skin. Once the appointment was over I could actually feel the difference in my face, as if it had been rejuvenated. Since then I have followed the suggestions made by Amanda and that irritated sensation that used to plague me hasn’t returned.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned from this is that taking care of your skin isn’t as complicated as it seems, and there’s no need to feel embarrassed to ask for help. By taking a couple of hours out of my day I was able to identify problems that I never knew could be fixed and discover a quick and simple process to keep my skin from reverting back to its parched and oily state. What I thought could be another awkward spa experience ended up being one of the most relaxing and educational hours I’ve had in a long while.


No Hair Here

facial-hair-remover-creamsBy 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.

Big mistake.

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.

Good luck!

Natural is Nothing New

AldithRESIZEBy 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:

Hair care:

  • Egg yolk mask
  • Aloe vera
  • Pure honey straight from the honeycomb, for softness

Skin care:

  • 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.

Spa-tacular gal pal time

Spa-girls-with-eye-padsBy 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.

Summer Essentials

By: Jodee Cave

Summer is finally here and with the heat, humidity and fun it can be hard to maintain your beauty regimen. Whether you’re travelling, swimming or sunning this season, we found some products that you’ll definitely want to take along for the journey!


rainWith the beautiful rays of sunshine summer brings, we also have to deal with the heat, humidity and impurities that are harsh on the skin. Belmondo has just the products to keep your skin looking refreshed and hydrated with their cleanser/toner set, The Rain and After the Rain. These cool and invigorating products gently refresh the skin with natural ingredients such as apple cider vinegar, lavender, aloe and rose. The Rain set is great for those with acne-prone, blemished or oily skin, as well as those who suffer from eczema. The best thing about these products? They’re great for a low-maintenance girl (or guy) as there is no need to wash off so it can be used any time you need a quick refresh.




The Face Effects Perfecting Polisher by Spa Sonic is a great tool when you’re on the run. It comes in a variety of cute patterns including animal print, if you feel like taking a walk on the wild side! The polisher is compact in a handy travelling case, so it can fit nicely in your suitcase or summer bag. Pick your favourite cleanser and pair them together to keep your summer glow all season!






Mia Beauty Tony Ties are perfecting for keeping your messy bun or sleek pony tail intact! They come in a variety of bright colours and patterns. Accessorize your look and use them as bracelets to ensure you always have a tie on hand. Great for trips to the beach, camping or travelling!


Test Divas: Antipodes’ Top Picks

By: Jodee Cave

The Test Divas were lucky to enough to try out some of Antipodes’ best products, fresh from New Zealand and we HAD to share our top picks!

Antipodes is new to the Canadian market. The line is infused with certified organic ingredients from fully sustainable sources and can be used by people of all ages and various skin types. We’ll tell you about the products that really stood out in our opinion and would love to know your thoughts!



Grapeseed Butter Cleanser: This unique cleanser really gives you the best of both worlds! Not only does it clean deep down to remove impurities, but with the addition of nourishing cocoa butter and combination of calming oils, it leaves the face hydrated and fresh and helps to really soothe the skin. The key ingredient that sets the cleanser apart from the rest is the inclusion of Vinanza Grape, a high-level antioxidant found in sauvignon blanc grape seeds of New Zealand. This ingredient aids in repairing free radical damage and instantly revitalizes the skin. It works wonders for dry patches and uneven skin.




Kiwi Seed Oil Eye Cream: This little cream packs a powerful punch! Loaded with super-rich vitamin C harvested from the seed of the New Zealand kiwi, carrot seed, avocado oil and aloe gel. It’s rich, yet lightweight formula works to repair damaged tissue around the eyes and provides a soothing sensation on the treated area. This has definitely become a staple in our beauty regimen and just might be the same for you!




Apostle Skin Brightening Serum: The skin brightening serum is a water-based product which aids in targeting uneven skin tone to help restore the skin. Infused with Waiwera mineral water, this serum rejuvenates the skin and restores moisture. The inclusion of antioxidant-rich Vinanza Performance Plus aids in reducing discolouration in melanin and combats redness. This serum smells incredible and will leave your face smelling delicious all day! It contains light exfoliating agents of kiwi enzyme, oxifend from red grapes to give the skin a polished glow, and Mamaku black fern and Reishi mushroom to promote healthy cell renewal and a fresh, bright complexion. This product is a perfect pairing with the Antipodes Juliet Skin-Brightening Gel Cleanser to really blast those blemishes!


We would love to hear about your diva experience with Antipodes. Try it out and tweet us @SpaIncMag or leave your comments below!


Test Diva: 100% Pure Products


By Ammi Parmar, High school editorial intern


 clip_image002100% Pure Mint White Tea Moisturizer  

Having combination to oily skin I was super worried about trying out these products. My skin can be very sensitive so changing moisturizer can cause my skin to cry out in breakouts. Learning that the 100% Pure Mint White Tea Moisturizer works for normal to oily skin types I got excited, hoping maybe that this moisturizer would do the trick. My biggest concern was the strong mint scent irritating my sensitive skin. To my surprise, it did the complete opposite. The scent although strong at first, once applied is so calm and gentle my skin did not complain. It was able to moisturize my skin without clogging my pores, while feeling super lightweight. The plus side for me was that it was able to control my oily skin throughout the day and not many moisturizers do that for me.


clip_image002100% Pure Rose and Calendula Water Serum

The 100% Pure Rose and Calendula Water Serum was something I was incredibly excited to use, for I’ve never tried a water serum before. The lightweight absorbency of this product worked. However, if you have skin like mine, which is combination to oily, I wouldn’t recommend it, especially if your skin is oilier. I found that it almost over-moisturized my skin, causing it to then breakout. If you have normal to dry skin, this is perfect for you. If you find that your skin is in other words loose, the Rose and Calendula Water Serum should work to improve skin firmness and elasticity. Being a 17-year-old, that wasn’t one of my concerns. The fact that it is 100 per cent natural and 100 per cent vegan is another perk, allowing you to have beautiful skin while being good to the environment and your skin.


Spa Strategies: Q&A with Avenue Skin Care

Part two from my trip to Avenue Skin Care! In this quick Q&A, Medical Skin Care Specialist Erica Savoie tells me about their top treatments, marketing strategy and tools for attracting clients!

By: Jodee Cave

Q: When was Avenue Skin Care established?

A: About 2 years ago, but Susan Shirriff (Medical Skin Care Specialist and Business Owner) has been in the industry for about 20 years. She began working with a plastic surgeon and then branched out to form Avenue Skin Care.

Q: Would you classify yourself as a medi spa?

A: Very much so! We are all about results and finding the right tools to help our clients with their skin issues.

Q: What is your most popular treatment at the moment?

A: IPL laser treatment. We use Forever Young BroadBand Lighting (BBL). It’s amazing! It actually changes the way your cells grow. It’s great for many different skin issues like brown spots, redness, broken capillaries and it also boosts collagen production and tightens skin.

Q: What age are the clients who choose this treatment?

A: I would say about the 30+ age range, but it really depends on the client and the skin issue.

Q: How does the procedure work?

A: The laser uses heat and radio frequency technology to stimulate trauma in the skin, which then helps to rebuild collagen and elastin.

Q: What tools do you find most effective when promoting Avenue Skin Care to potential clients?

A: We get the majority of our clients from referrals believe it or not. Word of mouth is a very powerful tool!

Q: Do you do any other forms of marketing?

A: Well, we just had an open house this week and that was fantastic! We had demos, skin analysis for education and product recommendation. It was very successful.

Q: Do you do any social networking or e-marketing?

A: We do monthly e-newsletters and send out e-blasts. We also do special offers and monthly promos to help boost interest in new procedures for new seasons. For spring, we may promote the Oxygen face masks. We also like to do video tours and tutorials to showcase the office and bring it to the clients, rather than waiting for them to come in and see it themselves.

VariLite Laser Treatment at Avenue Skin Care


By: Jodee Cave

Medi-spas have taken the beauty and esthetics market by storm. They’re your one-stop shop for skin and beauty needs on a deeper level. If you’ve been following the blog you may know that one of my biggest insecurities is my uneven, sun damaged skin. I have tried countless serums, masks (both DIY and purchased), and peels – everything short of going straight nocturnal to shield my skin from the sun! The search for the solution to my skin insecurities was doubly hard, as I am of mixed ethnicities and have a darker skin tone. Because of this, a few years ago my options were slim, as lasers and IPL’s didn’t pair well with darker tones and even then treatments weren’t guaranteed to work or not harm my skin.

I felt that there was no treatment for my skin and almost gave up hope until I found Avenue Skin Care, a medi-spa located in the heart of Yorkville, where they focus on real results and solutions for their clients specific skin issues. I had the opportunity to visit their beautiful office and came to find that as technology has advanced, there are solutions for me and others like me with skin insecurities.

Based on my consultation, we decided that the VariLite Laser Treatment would be the best tool for my skin type.  This treatment consists of a pinpoint precise laser that generates an intense beam of light on the treated area of the skin. This light is then absorbed by red blood cells and melanin and causes the unwanted pigmentation to breakdown by the heat of the laser while still keeping the healthy cells intact. VariLite can be used to treat a number of skin conditions such as rosacea, benign pigmented lesions, vascular lesions like spider veins, broken capillaries, warts and scars and is safe for people with darker toned skin.

The team at Avenue Skin Care are amazing! Medical skin care specialist and spa owner, Susan Shirriff, was very welcoming and helpful, and my esthetician, Erica, was so friendly and informative. I truly felt like I was in the right hands and I had no worries about the procedure. The whole treatment took about 20 minutes and the team advised me on what to expect and ensured my comfort. The pain was very minimal and I experienced a slight burning which was calmed by the wonderful mini facial post-treatment. In my case, 1-2 sessions are needed but it can vary based on the issue. It has been about a week since the procedure and I definitely see a drastic improvement! My freckles have darkened slightly, as they are scabbing (this can be combated with a bit of cover up) and within a short time they will diminish and disappear.  With proper care and an abundance of sunscreen, my skin should be fully healed and freckle free within the next 4-6 weeks. Stay tuned for the updates!

Before After

                         Before                                                          After

useme useme2

ABA Through My Eyes

Lindsay Grummett

Earlier this week, the Allied Beauty Association (ABA) brought its annual trade show to Toronto and as usual, it was amazing! There were hair competitions and eyelash applications. You could get fresh makeup, a new mani or prepare for summer with a fake tan (like I did).  There was so much to see and do, but why bother telling you when I can show you!

Here are some of my favourite photos from my day at ABA! Click on the photos to see the full size version.

Welcome to ABA!

Did you get a chance to meet the lovely Jodee?
She was manning the Spa Inc. booth for most of the show.

I saw lots of beautiful hair (and the back of some bald heads) while I was there!

ABA attendees also had the opportunity to get their hair done…

…And their eyebrows waxed…

…And their make-up applied…

…AND work on their tan!
I to0k a turn in the tanning booth (but included a photo of someone else getting tanned).

Oh, and did I mention that Essie Canada was also doing manis?

The treatments didn’t stop there…
Jodee got a phenomenal facial from Dermalogica Canada.
Her skin looked so bright and refreshed afterward.

It was all lights, camera, action at ABA and there were plenty of models on the stages and off.

These two models stole the show.
They were giving out 3D glasses that made their body paint pop!

I loved this fun flapper’s look. She was handing out product samples to ABA guests.

Caught the Moroccan Oil models taking a selfie break!

This picture sums up the show: FIERCE!