Something we always forget!

Whether you are a beauty junkie or just keeping it simple there is usually something we all either forget entirely or neglect for far longer then we should!

What might you say? Well it’s simple, cleaning our makeup and application tools (brushes, beauty blenders, lashes, etc.).

This simple task is extremely important! Not just for the longevity of our tools and makeup but also for our skin! So much bacteria can grow on our tools and our makeup itself and if left unkept and well it’s just nasty. Studies have found Staphylococcus, Streptococcus, E-coli, viruses, and bugs…yuck and dangerous! Bacteria, Viruses and Bugs are just one factor to consider even, dirty application tools can also lead to poor application of makeup, promote acne, and wrinkles just to name a few extras if the bacteria and bugs didn’t convince you.

So how do we deal with this quickly and easily? Well it’s pretty simple actually, clean everything and regularly! For brushes and other application tools, such as beauty blenders, eyelash curlers, etc., all you need to do is wash them. You can use a gentle soap or a brush specific cleaner, some warm water and lather away until the water runs clear, then reshape and lay flat or hang to dry.

Cleaning Time

Some tools I like to use to make the task easier are a scrub mat and a brush drying rack. I have been using Quo brushes for as long as I can remember and I also use Quo brush cleaner as I find it does a great job while keeping my brushes supple and not dried out. The Quo cleaner is always available and inexpensive at $12 at Shopper’s Drug Mart.

The brush scrub mat is an alternative to using the palm of your hand and it provides a variety of textures to maximize the cleaning based on what brush you are cleaning, equaling a faster clean. These are also inexpensive, anywhere from $5 and up depending on the size mat you get and where you are getting it from.

Brush Scrub Mat

I recently got a drying rack (it was in my stocking this Christmas) which allows you to hang your brushes upside down, why does that matter you might ask, well it matters because you don’t want water to get into the base of the bristles where they connect to the handle. Water infiltration here will weaken the bond between the handle and the bristles and will also cause the bristles to come apart and that will shorten the lifespan of your brushes. These drying racks are inexpensive, starting around $10 and up and they are available in different sizes, so if you have a lot of different brushes you may need more slots. They quickly click together and apart for easy storage after use so no need for a ton of space. I place mine on a towel and let my brushes dry for 24 hours to ensure they are fully dry.

Brush drying rack assembled

Partially assembled

Ready to be put away

How often are we supposed to wash our tools? Well we are supposed to do it every week. You might be thinking, I don’t have time for that! So I think there are some things to consider for how often to clean. First of all, how often do you wear makeup, if you are a infrequent user you might want to do every other week instead of every week, but the longer you go between cleaning the longer the bacteria has to grow and develop. Also the more often you clean your tools the faster it is every time because there is less built up in the brush or on the tool to clean off. If you really can’t manage every week you should at minimum spray your tools with alcohol between washes to help kill off growing bacteria. Just grab a little spray bottle, new or reuse your setting spray bottle when it is empty (just be sure to clean it well beforehand) and fill it with rubbing alcohol and you are ready to go.

Having a little spray bottle of straight alcohol is a super handy tool and not just for your application tools between washes….So we have cleaned all of our tools and think we are done and ready for another week, right? Wrong! You can’t forget about your makeup itself. If you are using clean tools but never cleaning your makeup you are just reintroducing the bacteria to the tools immediately. This is very easily solved however, the answer is that little spray bottle of alcohol. Open each palette, lipstick, mascara, and liner, everything and spray it with the alcohol and let it dry. This task only takes a few minutes and it will keep your makeup from growing that dangerous and gross bacteria and that will also lengthen the life of your makeup.

These simple actions will increase the life of your tools and makeup and protect your skin. Don’t take for granted how harmful dirty tools and makeup can be!

So next time you have 10 minutes, perhaps on self care Sunday,  clean up and enjoy all of the benefits it will bring!

sam

Comparisons, Self-Doubt and Birthdays

I have always loved birthdays! I love celebrating the birthdays of my family and friends because they were born, I get the privilege of having them in my life and for that I am grateful and will always celebrate them! For me, my birthday has just always been nice to feel special and I have never worried about the number because that’s not what is really important. I have always loved to celebrate, I always try to take the day off and enjoy just spoiling myself and being spoiled.

Today is my birthday and this year I don’t feel the same exactly. I don’t feel like I have accomplished as much as I want to, done as much as I want to, or seen as much as I want to. I find myself comparing to really everyone else and just not feeling as I should. I have always had to work my butt off from a very young age for what I have and don’t get me wrong I am extremely grateful for everything that I do have, I consider myself very fortunate. I have to admit though that everyone else makes it look so easy, so glamorous and fun (please don’t misunderstand I know that these people hustle). It never seems to be that simple, not for me, three steps forward and two back.

I have found this last year harder to not compare myself to others, to want what they have, to look how they look and don’t get me wrong there are some amazing women on social media trying to make a difference regarding this exact thing, @thebirdspapaya and @jameelajamilofficial, to name a couple. It isn’t easy though to change how we feel and I guess this year I am feeling a little inadequate and trying to figure out how to let my passions get back front and centre. I would say that I don’t care what people think, I try not to care what people think, but unfortunately I still seem to.

I am working on changing how I see myself, trying not to compare myself to others, trying to accept that I am full of flaws, insecurities, but also have hopes and dreams, and that I shouldn’t be comparing myself to others, just continuing to work towards what I want, even if it doesn’t come to me as easily as it does others.

All and all to say that even at this birthday I don’t know who I am, I am still trying to figure that out and maybe that is a good thing, to keep growing and learning and evolving. I am trying to recognize all of that and turn it into fuel for me to see myself for what I can do and prove myself wrong about who I can be and to be kinder to myself. I think we all need to be kinder to ourselves and try to grow from the things that bother us so we can love the person we are, even though it isn’t always easy to see.

This moment

So I am still going to try to enjoy today, to soak up the pleasure of a day off and the ability to sleep in and not think about all of the what if’s or could be’s and then take on tomorrow like I can own anything!

How do you feel about your birthday, what does it make you think about?

And if it’s your birthday today too, Happy Birthday!!

sam

Another Year………………

Another year has passed us by and well some people may be more than eager to kiss 2018 goodbye, I am looking at it for inspiration going into 2019 rather than something I can’t wait to be rid of.

A lot has happened in 2018, I really haven’t been here that much (writing here that is) because I’ve been too busy and quite frankly tired lol! My career has been quite busy and I have been afforded some amazing new challenges that I am really looking forward to exploring. There have been a lot of tears in 2018 as well, I’ve missed my sweet little sunshine Cooper everyday and it has pained me to see his brother struggling with missing him too. I have missed friends that are a far and cherish every conversation and moment I get to see them, I’ve watched friends lose family and wished I could make it better for them. I’ve discovered that I can stay in a workout routine at home and develop better eating habits and like usual that I can easily fall out of them too and I’ve continued to battle with who I am and what I want out of life, what my style is, and who do I want to be.

So while 2018 wasn’t always easy, there is so very much that I have learnt from this last year. So you might ask, what are the resolutions for this year, what lessons are you taking into 2019?

I have to say it might sound a little strange but I have no real resolutions for 2019, none! I am not doing that to myself this year, setting expectations that I just get annoyed at not meeting.

What I am going to do this year is just be me, whatever that is or becomes!

The lessons I’m taking from 2018 are to take each day as it comes and hope…………hope that I can take time to get in shape, not because the world says I have to but because I feel better when I do, hope to write more and paint more and take more pictures because I miss my creative side and hope to sleep more because I need to!

These may sound like resolutions but they really aren’t they are just my hopes to be who I want to be without restrictions of what others expect me to be and if I don’t get to do some of them then so be it!

Whatever 2018 was for you, good, bad or ugly, I hope you take the time to appreciate the lessons it has provided you with, I hope you go into 2019 with hope for what this year can teach you and I hope that we all learn to be a little kinder to ourselves and spread that kindness to others because really that’s something we all need!

Happy New Year!!!

sam

Obsessed

We all have our favourite things, brands we love and trust, foods we can’t get enough of and activities that make us happy and fulfilled.

Well one of my obsessions is a skincare brand, I can’t get enough of it and I tell everyone about it. This obsession started a little over 6 years ago with a few things, an urgent need for help, a special day and wanting to look my best and ever since I was recommended the first product I have been in love with everything I try by them.

Okay, okay, I know get to it, what brand are you talking about?

So my love is for Avène!

As I have mentioned in previous posts about this brand, they are a company based in France that focuses on the best products for your skin that will not cause reactions but heal. The thermal spring water found in all of their products works miracles and repairs skin and the layers underneath as well. You can check out their website for more history or refer back to my post on That Annoying Winter Itch. 

Why am I obsessed with Avène, because their products are amazing! I was first introduced through Cicalfate, an amazing restorative cream that does wonders on cuts, bites, burns (sun, chemical, razor, etc.), rashes, acne, you name it and Cicalfate can handle it. I always have at least two tubes of it on the go, one at work and one at home, and I try to keep some in my purse too because it always comes in handy. This is one of my absolute go to products that I will never go without. Cicalfate was quickly followed by their Mattifying Lotion, which was exactly what I was looking for to combat the T-Zone and provide moisture to the rest of my face and while it is now discontinued (tears shed), they have an alternative I am eager to try.

All time must have!

I have so many favourites and that is because every new thing I try I love. I have sensitive and allergic skin so I have to be so careful about what I use on it to avoid a reaction and I know that I won’t have any problems with Avène because they work to create products that are gentle yet effective.

Some examples of what I use include the Xera Calm A.D. Cleansing Oil and Balm to combat my dry itchy skin, PhysioLift to get ahead of anti-aging concerns, the Micellar Lotion is soothing and gentle and does the job and I am such a fan of the Cleansing Foam, it never leaves my skin feeling tight or dry, just clean and nourished. Not to mention the Thermal Spring Water Spray with is amazing at anytime of the day, especially great after a run!

Xera Calm A.D. Balm and Cleansing Oil

I could go on for days about all of the products I can’t get enough of but that might take a while. I think it is fairly clear to see that I adore this brand because for me it just works and because of that love, I passionately about Avène and as a result some of my friends ask me if I stock in the company because I am always recommending it to them. They listen though and it always makes me happy to hear the next day how much better their skin feels, how they can’t believe how quickly the products have worked to relieve their sunburn or rash or cut or reaction. I have hooked a friend onto their AntiRougeurs and she can’t believe how good her skin feels, she was given a prescription (a very expensive one) to combat her rosacea and after trying Avène’s AntiRougeurs she doesn’t use her prescription because the AntiRougeurs manages her rosacea and has her skin looking bright and clear with no irritations.  That is the beauty of Avène.

Not even everything I have

So next time you have a skin concern or are just looking for something that works, take a look at Avène, I promise you won’t go wrong! Happy skin everyone!

sam

 

What’s in the creation of a tradition?

Traditions, we all have them for multiple things in our lives with a variety of different people. What causes us to start a tradition, is it something that just happens, is it something that we decide will become a tradition? I think that both happen, somethings happen more organically and others we choose to make a tradition to keep something happening in our lives.

As anyone else, I have traditions in my life, things that just need to happen no matter what. Recently, a new tradition was born with one of my absolute closest friends and that is to head to Le Nordik Spa Nature every spring……and we are thinking of adding summer into that too! We have a winter tradition of attending the ballet and recently we planned a trip to Le Nordik Spa Nature and it just seems like the next thing to always do. Le Nordik Spa Nature is located in Chelsea Quebec, just a short trip outside of Ottawa.

Le Nordik Spa Nature

We went back in May, so yes this post is a little delayed, and we had the best time. We went the day after that massive storm that had terrible winds and caused quite a bit of destruction but honestly we didn’t even think about that before we went as we had been planning our day for over a month, it can be tricky to get a whole day in when our lives are so busy. We arrived to the wonderful staff letting us know that unfortunately there was no power at the spa but there were only a few things unavailable as a result of that. We figured what the heck, there will likely be fewer people there so it will be lovely anyway. The only thing I was disappointed about missing out on was the eucalyptus steam room, it is one of my favourite places at Le Nordik Spa Nature. 

The day was perfect and honestly you really didn’t even notice the power issues, the staff were helpful and friendly and they did their best to ensure the experience was not tarnished.

It is so easy to spend the day just lounging from space to space, soaking it all in all.  One of the best experiences of the day, aside from convincing another friend that I happened to run into there to get into the frigid waters, was the Aufguss Ritual, this was an incredible experience!

Aufguss this way

The Aufguss Ritual takes place in the Finlandia sauna, one of the many saunas, and takes about 15 minutes from start to finish. It is a ritual that involves the space getting progressively hotter and the diffusion of three different essential oils that are placed onto giant snow balls that are melted over the rocks of the sauna all while between each essential oil the presenter distributes the scents and the steam throughout the space through a beautiful dance with a towel. It was so neat to see the control they had with the towel and to feel the waves of heat roll across my body. The ritual does get hot and we were all informed at the beginning to listen to our bodies and if it was too hot to be sure to leave to ensure our own wellness. I am lucky and enjoy the heat and was able to stay for the duration of the ritual.

Finlandia Sauna

It felt so amazing, having the heat sink into my body, my muscles and my bones just absorbing all of it. Once the ritual is complete this sauna has a salt scrub option after you are done, one salt is infused with mint and the other lavender, it is quite lovely to scrub down and rinse off before you proceed to your next destination.

If you have never been to Le Nordik Spa Nature I highly recommend that you do, I personally have not yet tried the many other services they offer as each time I have gone, I have just enjoyed the thermal cycle and some great food, I hope to enjoy many more of their services on future visits.

Thermal Cycle Cold Pools

This is a day you won’t regret, you will have the best sleep that night and feel energized and ready to take on your busy life again. Let Le Nordik Spa Nature take away your stress and leave you refreshed like nothing else can, you won’t regret the day away. This is exactly why my friend and I have purposely made this a new tradition, to take a day away to leave the stress of everyday life behind and feel refreshed.

If you are looking for a new tradition, please feel free to copy ours! We don’t mind ;). Here’s to relaxing and Le Nordik Spa Nature.

sam

My Cooper

Cooper was a happy and content pup, but you could always tell when he was super happy because he would have a smile on his face that went from ear to ear and on top of that he would get what we called almond eyes. His eyes would change shape from a round shape to an almond shape; that’s when he was so very happy.

He would get almond eyes at least once a day and it usually happened when we were all together; especially if we were doing something as a family like going for a walk, playing in the backyard or even just doing chores outside together. Being together made him happy, to Cooper there really wasn’t anything better than being together as a family.

Happy after a walk

We were safe as a pack, we could protect each other always. I feel the loss of his presence every moment, the safety of the pack. Oliver is trying to figure out how to fill his paws as it were, trying to figure out how to keep the rest of us safe now that Cooper is gone, he misses his brother something fierce too.

My happy almond eyed boy, forever about his family that loved you more than words can ever describe. We all love him and hope that you are at peace and are happy and still watching over us.

Another ponytail donated! (Part 2)

In my previous post I mentioned that I was going to be donating my ponytail again soon. These donations are made into wigs for women who have lost their hair due to cancer. This is a cause that I feel strongly about just because it means a lot to people who are going through treatment and for me it is an easy thing to do.

On April 12th, one day minus 5 years since I donated my first ponytail, I donated my 3rd. Bringing me to a total of 3 feet of hair donated to date.

All tied up and ready to go!

And just like that, 10″ is off

Okay, next step time

This time after I made the cut I decided that I needed a change as well, something to make me feel refreshed and new again, so I decided to lighten up my blonde and be a little bolder.

I have a lot of hair in these foils

This is the most I have ever coloured my hair given how fast it grows, but I am really enjoying the lighter blonde, reminds me of when I was younger. I was a snow white blonde when I was younger and as I have gotten older it has turned into a dark blonde, so it is really nice to have the lightness back again and I think I will go even lighter in the future!

The Final Results!!

My beautiful stylist (pictured above with me) has been with me on this journey the whole time and I can’t thank her enough for all that she does for me, she is the sweetest and damn good at what she does!

There are people who go into the salon for a big change all the time and it’s nothing to take that hair and instead of letting it fall to the floor, tie it up and donate it. Next time you are thinking of a change, or know someone that is, take a step back and think about donating and helping others in their fight. Check out what organizations are available in your area that are doing good things.

Together we can and will beat cancer!!!

sam

Giving Back – One ponytail at a time (Part 1)

We all identify with something about ourselves that makes us feel like us, normal and beautiful. For a lot of people, in my experience particularly women, that thing is their hair. It’s a huge part of who they are and how they identify themselves and having a good hair day makes them feel just right and confident.

I know that may seem odd to some people but it’s true, I see myself with the unruly dark blond hair that does what it wants to and some days that means I look like Medusa or like the main character from Brave (or at least it feels that way to me). The thing is though how we look or feel we look has a big impact on our confidence and how we feel in general.

Nearly 5 years ago I organized a small event for cancer, called Great Length for Great Strength, it was a hair donation event. I had decided many years ago that one day I would donate my ponytail and on April 14, 2013 I did just that! I cut off 13 inches of my locks so that they could be made into a wig for a woman in need. As I mentioned hair is a big deal and when you are fighting for your life and you lose your hair it can be devastating. I wanted to give back, if a wig can give a woman her confidence back and make her feel normal then maybe she will fight harder and if she fights harder then she can win! That is what I wanted!

Ready, Set…

… Cut

This small event had 10 participants donate, only 2 ponytails shy of 2 complete wigs. It was amazing! We donated through Pantene’s program, which provides the finished wigs to the Canadian Cancer Society, who then provides them at no cost to patients.

The final look of 2013

I loved the experience, so much so that I wanted to do it again and I did in 2016 (another 13 inches), again donated to the Pantene program.

Another 13 inches!

The final look of 2016

 

I plan to cut it again either sometime in April or early May, that will make 3 donations in 5 years, my hair grows fairly quickly, hurray! This time my donation will be supporting a local company making a difference, Hair Donation Ottawa.

This time when I make the cut I am looking for a big change. I want to try something new, the only rule I have is that it still has to go into a ponytail. So I’m looking for suggestions, what do you think, what should I do? I have taken a lot of pride in being able to do this, it is an easy thing to do and it means a lot to me, but I definitely want to have fun with it too, there is something so liberating about cutting off the length and having a whole new look, so let’s have fun!

The straight

Au natural, the curly…it gets curly when the weight comes off.

I will be sharing my experience of this cut with all of you so send me your ideas on what I should do after the big cut!

If you have never donated I highly recommend it, it’s an easy thing to do and there are several great programs that make it easy. Your simple donation can make someone feel like a million bucks and give them the strength to keep fighting until they win. You really can make a difference in someones life with just a ponytail!!

sam

Valentine’s

Let me start off by saying I love love, and I love seeing people happily in love. I am a hopeless romantic that feels all warm and fuzzy when people are happy in their relationship. This post however is about how I’m not the biggest fan of Valentine’s Day.

We all know that Valentine’s Day has a ton of hype but over the last few years it seems to just keep upping the stakes, for example who needs to give someone a car or a new phone for Valentine’s Day? It’s insane!

For the longest time, way back when, I didn’t like the holiday because I was alone  and it sucked being alone for such a love filled day, seeing everyone else happy and being left out was just the worst feeling.

After being in an amazing relationship I realized that I didn’t like Valentine’s Day because it wasn’t necessary and personally I think for a lot of people it’s a bit of a way out. The idea being that if you do something spectacular for Valentine’s Day it gets you out of showing you care for the rest of the year, or most of it. Please don’t get me wrong, like I said I love love and I am a hopeless romantic wanting everyone to find the right person to share life with, but to me that means showing you care every single day.

It is important to celebrate the special occasions, birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas, but for me Valentine’s Day means maybe a little chocolate, maybe a card and quality time together, not jewelry and cars and massive gifts, just each other.

My Rose Garden

Life is too short to wait to tell or show someone you care, do it every day. It doesn’t have to be a big thing, it can be as simple as getting their coffee ready for them in the morning or doing the dishes, cooking dinner or even just listening, really listening to what the other person has to say.

On top of Valentine’s Day we now also have Galentine’s Day and Palentine’s Day. What is the deal with this? To try to include everyone so that if you are alone there’s something for you too, I mean I can appreciate that from the perspective that I used to feel alone but these days surround the main event so you are likely still going to feel alone on the 14th. I think the same thing needs to apply to your friends, you need to make sure they know you are there for them on a continuous basis, it’s the little things you do that matter the most to people.

I know this post may seem cynical but I truly believe that we shouldn’t need a day like this to tell those we love just that, that we love them. Sure my hubby and I partake from the perspective of restocking a little chocolate after the Christmas stash is gone, a little something to hold us over until Easter ;), but that’s as far as it goes for us because we show each other everyday that we care. We will even randomly surprise each other with a treat or something just because we saw something and thought the other would enjoy it.

What are your thoughts on Valentine’s Day? Do you love it or hate it, celebrate it or ignore it?

No matter how you feel about February 14th I hope you spread love, happiness and kindness every day! ❤😘

sam

That annoying winter itch

This winter sure has been a cold one, I mean as Canadians we are used to cold winters but with several weeks of -20°C to -40°C, it has been a tad chillier than normal this year and I don’t know about you but when the seasons change my skin goes through a revolt! It’s like it hates me, it dries out and is itchy and there doesn’t seem to be any amount of lotion that will fix the problem………or is there?!? 😉

I am a huge fan of Avène products; I was first introduced to the company through their restorative cream Cicalfate when I had a nasty chemical burn and it worked miracles (check out my review of that product in my Must Haves post). Since then I have always kept an eye on their products and later last winter purchased their Xera Calm A.D. balm and cleansing oil and haven’t looked back.

Xera Calm A.D. Balm and Cleansing Oil

Avène is a company based in France that focuses on the best products for your skin that will not cause reactions but heal. The thermal spring water found in all of their products works miracles and repairs skin and the layers underneath as well. As noted from Avène’s website (link below) they define their thermal water as “Thermal water is naturally mineralized spring water with a composition suitable for therapeutic uses. It has a series of characteristics that provide it with health-promoting properties, recognized by the French National Academy of Medicine.”

The original Avène thermal spring water came from the Ste Odile spring which was discovered in 1736; 8 years later in 1743 the first thermal spa was constructed. It wasn’t until 1874 however that the spring was declared of interest to the public. The spa has continuously evolved over the decades, including the addition of the water research laboratories in 2007. The spring still produces a constant flow of 70,000 litres per hour.  The therapeutic properties of the Avène thermal spring water can be, and is, used to treat a variety of skin issues in people of all ages and skin types.

The Xera Calm A.D. balm is a lipid replenishing balm that is approved by the eczema society of Canada. This balm has a medium weight to it, not too thin but not thick either, but when you apply it you get the sense that you are getting a layer of protection on your skin and you don’t need a lot, a little goes along way. Once I started using the balm I stopped having those insanely itchy winter skin issues, my legs are always the worst.

Xera Calm A.D. Balm

The Balm!

Another product in the Xera Calm A.D. line is their cleansing oil. This is in place of that body wash or bar of soap, it cleanses without using skin drying agents and again a little goes a long way. The oil goes on smoothly and isn’t too thick, it foams up just a little and glides along the skin easily. It doesn’t feel like you are rubbing “oil” into your skin however, it doesn’t have that same feel as an olive or coconut oil. This cleansing oil is also lipid replenishing so it won’t dry out skin but replace precious moisture from the skin while leaving you feeling clean and fresh.

Xera Calm A.D. Cleansing Oil

Cleansing Oil

As many people, I have some eczema and hate when it flares up because it is so uncomfortable and  I can’t wait to get rid of it. With these products I can keep it under control and I am comfortable.

Whether you are fighting eczema or winter skin using these two products combined will keep your skin happy and healthy all throughout the winter season and beyond.

You can find the Avène Xera Calm A.D. balm and cleansing oil at most pharmacies, I always get mine at Shopper’s Drug Mart. They both run around the $27 mark, but like I said a little goes a long way and it is certainly worth the price for good quality and happy skin.

I have recommended these products to friends and family who are now believers and I hope that you try them and will be too. I will always have these in my skin care arsenal!

If you are interested in more information on the Avène Thermal spring water I highly recommend you check out their website as it is full of amazing information. (https://www.eau-thermale-avene.ca/en_CA)

sam